Wow, retirement anniversary number two. It was the first Sunday of May, 2013 that we concluded our pastoral ministry and entered into retirement. In our case, we retired to travel and the very next day we drove off with our RV, starting the next primary chapter of our lives.
This last year has been terrific. We traveled from Houston to the northwestern corner of the continental United States and then journeyed at a leisurely pace south along the western coast where we enjoyed amazing scenery and cool Pacific Ocean temperatures. We visited numerous national parks and, in general, had a blast.
Our winter and early spring has been spent doing a variation of our fulltime RVing lifestyle. We’ve volunteered at the Texas San Jacinto Battleground/Battleship Texas State Historic Park. In exchange for donating 100 hours of our time each month we’ve enjoyed “free parking.” That “trade” has saved us some serious, and needed, cash! We’ve thoroughly enjoyed this experience which allowed us to do some very interesting things while being close to family and friends. While we’re more than ready to begin our travels again we enjoyed the volunteering experience enough that we’ve already signed up to do it again next year.
I did a few more clergy-like things than I did our first year but not a lot. I filled for our pastor when he was away, filled in for our Sunday School teacher (who happens to be my son) when he was away, did a baby dedication, and finalized my series of books of devotionals. Aside from that I’ve happily sat in the pew, appreciating the ministry of others.
All in all, we’ve spent over 4 months in the Houston area during this stay. That means we suspended our “church hopping” ways and settled into a more typical church attendance routine. While visiting many different churches during our travels is enjoyable we’ve missed the sense of community associated with being a part of a congregation. This being our second winter as part of our home church helped us feel more a part of things. It’s interesting to me how things we at first felt were somehow different become, in just a few weeks, just “the way it is done here.” One thing that become increasingly clear is that no church can be evaluated in just a week or two. Churches have personalities and that personality isn’t apparent until one is part of the congregation (and involved beyond an hour on Sunday mornings) for a while. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy visiting churches, but I know that being a regular, contributing part of a church family is superior.
So, I’d say retirement is going quite well, thank you! We’re well aware that we are blessed to live this life and we don’t take it for granted.