checking in, pushing pause, turning the page

leaning into the challenge.

today marks the end of my first 6 months on my new job. there were multiple times during the first couple of months when i had serious doubts i would make it, but around the first part of october, something clicked. i think a big part of it was working shifts or parts of shifts on the other teams in the facility. i recently realized i know the name of every kid in the facility. that gave me a great deal of “buy-in” – there is a lot more to the job than wading through an avalanche of glitter (the girls use it on their program work presentations a lot, to say the least).

i’m not saying i think i’ll stay in this position until i retire. this is considered an entry level job, but the opportunities from there are much wider. i officially have three more months until i’m eligible to move from probationary status to regular status. after that i can apply for transfer within the agency, or if for whatever reason i leave the agency and later come back, there are several pre-employment hoops i wouldn’t have to jump through all over again.

that said, i’m not actively looking elsewhere at this time. if i come across something that seems like a really good fit, i’ll look into it, but i’m starting to get kinda good at what i’m doing. it can be stressful, sometimes extremely so. the hours often suck, and there is no cancellation for inclement weather. as a residential facility with 24/7/365 supervision, we have to be at work no matter what. but in those moments when you realize the kids really are making significant changes in their lives, somehow it seems worth it. goodness knows, none of us are doing it for the lucrative paycheck or the extravagant benefits package.

but that’s not all the news i have to share today.

north is the new south. go east, young man. missouri loves company.

driving from lenexa to the north side of nowhere (ok, maybe just north of excelsior springs) and back again every day is not such a fun drive after a while. because of this, we are looking to move into missouri in the next couple months. it wasn’t worth the financial penalty of breaking our lease early, but we are now looking at places to the north (liberty, north kc, maybe gladstone) and east (lee’s summit, independence). the trick will be to find someplace that’s not a super long drive for rene to get to work. there’s also a bit of a gamble in that if i do transfer, the drive for me may be way longer or way shorter depending on where we live and where i end up working. in any case, the likelihood is that for the first time since 1979, the year 2011 will find me with a home address outside of kansas.

a long overdue break.

here’s the news that has taken people by surprise. after nearly 20 years as a volunteer youth leader (those 2 months of a very part-time paid youth intern don’t count), and 15 years for rene, we are taking a break from weekly youth ministry involvement. there are several reasons for this.

first, we do really need some rest. there are so many weeks when we literally have not one evening at home, alone together. not a great plan in the long run.

second, there have been times in the last several months when one or both of us have questioned whether we’re starting to lose our ability to connect with kids like we once could. i don’t know if that’s necessarily true, although we are certainly no longer the spring chickens we used to be. but when you’re in the trenches for too long without coming up to see the horizon, funny things can happen to your perspective.

the last reason i’ll share here is that we are looking at some churches in missouri that may be a better fit for us, not only for where we are personally but also geographically. when and if we do decide to step back into youth ministry – and we are trying not to rush that decision – we’d like to be close enough to the kids’ homes and schools that getting together with them, going to ball games and plays, etc. isn’t an all-day affair with long drive times.

we will miss so much about christ community. it’s been the church where rene and i met and got married, and where each of us have attended and served the longest of any in our lives. we have been tremendously blessed by doing life with such a caring, integral, and deep body of believers. it’s been an exhausting week as we’ve made announcements and said goodbyes. we certainly don’t want to just “drop” anyone, so keep in touch through whatever means, and we’ll try to do the same.

be looking in the next few weeks for a multi-post series in which i reflect on 20 years of youth ministry. pulling my thoughts together for this has been bittersweet.

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About andrew burden

andrew blogs about being a volunteer youth leader, teacher, video editor, husband, friend, child of God
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