Intro to Watsonopolis

Watsonopolis is a place where the Watson family posts their writing, reflections, images and videos.

Most of the stuff we post are our own thoughts, wonderings, and stories that emerge from our lives, our living, the world around us and the world within us.

You'll find us reflecting on our travels, our faith, justice, and what it means for us to live well in 21st century America. 

You can follow us on twitter & instagram:
@watsonopolis
@LRodWatson

 

 


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Monday
Mar032008

Like a Band of Gypsies

This isn't the first road trip the 3 Watsons have taken, this isn't the farthest, or the most exotic. But this one is different. We're not leaving things behind in a storage unit. We're not keeping a mailing address in the place we're leaving. Everything is coming with us. In many ways, this trip is the most extreme as it marks a new season in our lives.

On new seasons...
As we began our journey eastward, it was fitting that the first stretch of highway we found ourselves on was the HWY 99 that cuts through the San Joaquin Valley and slices through orchard after orchard of farm land. This is an amazing time of year in California's Central Valley. For a few weeks, a few days really, the almond & citrus trees begin to bloom and the site is amazing. It's as though pink and bright white snow has fallen over the Valley. There's a newness and excitement in the air. Along with massive amounts of pollen. But the new season is a beauty. We drove thanking God for the beautiful send off He provided us and the reminders of new seasons.

I've been to Barstow, Ca. a few times now, and every time I leave thinking, "this is a weird town". I don't know what it is, but that's my general sense.

A place that doesn't dissappoint...
We've mentioned that for the past two months we've been staying with Randy & Tina White; an experience that requires its own blog one day. Randy and his son Jameson are fans of the TV Show West Wing which is apparently off the air now. One night while watching one of the episodes with them on DVD one of the characters, Toby I believe, says, "you should go to the Grand Canyon. It's one of the few places left in the world that, when you get there, it doesn't dissappoint you".

Yesterday the 3 Watsons plus one on the way did just that. And Toby is right you know. It doesn't dissappoint. The last time Lisa or I were at that Great Canyon was 10 years ago when both of us, independently of each other, we're heading west towards San Francisco for Seminary. She stopped there with her dad. I with my mom, brother and cousin Teresa. Magnificent. It moves you. I stood at the edge and nearly cried. The only thing keeping me from it were the tourists that surrounded me. Snow was on the canyon. It was bitter cold. And clear. Very, clear. One could see for miles. And i wanted to.

We took as much time as we possibly could before heading on. But even leaving the canyon, we took the long way around. Hwy 64. If you're up there, take the extra hour and a half and enjoy 64. None of it dissapoints. None of it.

Saturday
Mar012008

Farewells & Send offs from a place we love

We've been spending these last days and weeks preparing to leave a place we love and point ourselves towards a place we barely know. Our days and nights have been spent preparing for the move, and seeing people that are dear to us. Sharing meals and prayers. Laughs and tears.

As excited as we are about the move to Memphis and the hope that lies there, we are equally saddened to be leaving Fresno; a place we have come to call home. This past and last week in Fresno has been special. Our community here has loved us very well this week and is sending us off to Memphis with full prayers and full hearts.

Lisa and I team preached at Fresno First Baptist last Sunday (2/24/08). Those of you in the Fresno area can tune in and watch our sermon on TV; Fox 26 @ 8am! ;) It was a wonderful and tearful experience. I knew it would be a hard sermon to preach, but a necessary one. We spoke on things we're packing with us to Memphis and things we're hoping to leave with Fresno. Things we're taking are those things Fresno has instilled in our hearts and lives. Those things: 1) a love for the City 2) a care for the poor & marginalized 3) Hospitality & Generosity. Things we hope to leave...things we hope to have instilled in the heart of our church and our community: 1) heart for the nations 2) Living in Community gives life 3) Hope for the Future.

Wednesday evening (2/27/08) Randy & Tina White hosted a send off party for us at their home. We've been living with the White's for nearly two months and have joined the wonderful, life giving rhythms of their family. The special experience of living with them will have to be its own post later. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 folks showed up to hug us one more time, wish us well and demand that we keep in touch. It was an amazing reminder to us of how much we're loved, how much we love and the great cross sections of the Fresno world we've managed to intersect and bring together.

Friday night, our last night in Fresno, we spent it at the Pink House at their annual Black Tie Bunko Night Fundraiser. We figured it would be a fitting final night; downtown, in the Pink House, surrounded by folks who care about the city of Fresno. It was a great time. Lisa won a prize. A free membership to the local rock climbing gym. She passed it along to folks who would use it.

Saturday morning (today) we packed up the Element and began heading east. Before we took off, a few of our downtown saints stopped by to pray for us and see us off. Another opportunity to thank God for our time in Fresno and celebrate the new journey ahead. And another chance to cry. Again.

Now, i'm sitting in a Best Western somewhere in Arizona. Looking through pictures of our past week. Preparing to post them. And thanking God for such a great city, such a great community and the rich blessing they have been to us. Fresno has taught the Watsons so much about ourselves, our God and our world. I hope we're able to transplant half of that learning, doing and being in the black Memphis soil; and see God do miracles again.
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Thursday
Feb212008

Moving to Memphis or Fed Exing ourselves to Tennessee

Since the 'big announcement' a couple of weeks ago, the watson clan have been occupying their time with packing, preparing to move, house hunting and enjoy our last few weeks in California.

A few highlights...

Meeting with Movers ~
We contacted a number of movers in an effort to secure bids for a company to move our 'valuables' from Fresno to Memphis. We've gotten several bids at this point. We've been told on several occassions, by a number of moving companies, "This is a small move for us". The best line we heard was from a company that we met with at the Pink House, where they were doing an inventory in order to get us an accurate bid. After looking at our voluminous amount of furnishings, he says, "I don't think you make the minimum. It might be better to leave the couch and bookshelves here, Fed EX your boxes and start over". Great. After 6 and 1/2 years of marriage, a toddler and baby #2 the total amount of 'stuff' that Lisa and I have acquired is more appropriate for a postal service than a moving service. While there is a smattering of pride in me that we've been able to continue to live simply, there's also some embarrasement.

House Hunting ~
For two weeks, after Nathan went down for the night, Lisa and I scoured craigslist and other Memphis rental property websites. We created a list, mapped them and flew to Memphis in order to find an address. We had a decent time. After looking at downtown condos, Mud Island apartments, and east memphis rental houses we settled on a historic tri-plex in midtown.

A few observations.
1) If you own a house you want to rent, the nicer it looks the nicer your renters will be. We saw a couple of places that with a little TLC would be great houses. But they looked run down, but the owners insisted that they wanted good renters. Here's a tip, if your place looks dumpy, you'll get dumpy renters.
2) The place you like the most will always be the most expensive. I think this is Satan's evil plan to continue to frustrate the human race. It doesn't matter how much money one makes, the thing you like and want the most, it's gonna cost you.
3) If you want the 'perfect place', you're probably going to have to build it yourself. Apparently the way that I would design a house, the location in which I would build it and the layout that most suits me doesn't exist. I'm not sure why. I'm not looking for some crazy design. It's not like I was hoping for a 2 bedroom, 6 bathroom, 2 kitchen bungalow with a water feature in the living room next to the functional fire place. but it seems a simple, 2 bedroom w/ office, 2 bath, nice kitchen, in a walkable community is as rare as a unicorn. and if you do find one, it will most certainly be very expensive. no matter how much you make.

so, we're back in california. visiting with some good friends staring out at the beach in Newport wrapping our minds around the reality that we'll be loading up the Element and heading east in 9 days. wow.

Thursday
Feb072008

A new direction

Dear Ones,

Hello from the ever growing Watson family! First we want to say thank you to you all for the emails, phone calls and prayers that so many of you have sent our way recently as we’ve been discerning God’s next direction for us. The process has not been easy at all, but knowing that we are surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses has been very encouraging to us.

Having said that we have 2 updates for you.

First, two ultrasounds later, we’ve learned that baby #2 is going to be a BOY! Nathan is going to have a brother, Matthew has been found mumbling “Watson boys” under his breath and grinning at the sound of it, and Lisa is settling into the idea that she will be outnumbered 3 to 1. So far, all doctor’s reports are good and baby and mom are doing well.

Secondly, we have sensed God’s leading, and in excited obedience, we are taking steps. Those steps are leading us to Memphis where Matthew is joining the staff of a wonderful church called Living Hope. We are very surprised by this development as we never expected to be heading back to the South, and certainly not to Tennessee. But the city of Memphis and the community of Living Hope Church has captured our imagination. The growing year and a half old church has asked Matthew to come on board as their Mission Pastor where he will coordinate the church’s urban ministries in inner city Memphis and also provide leadership to their international mission efforts in developing countries overseas. Additionally he will serve on the pastoral team where he will assist in pastoring the congregation, particularly in helping members understand their gifts, talents and passions and how those can be used in loving God and loving the World.

Although Matthew is the one ‘officially’ on staff, obviously much of the work and ministry that the job entails resonates with Lisa’s experience and passion as well. As much as she’s able and wants to before boy #2 comes along, we will be able to travel internationally and serve locally together.

We are very excited about this new adventure. Living Hope provides us with an avenue to use our experience in urban ministry and international missions; two things that are very near to our hearts, and help shape the missional DNA of a local congregation – a work that we are very much looking forward to.

Over the next 6 weeks we will be charting a course across the US and finally arriving in Memphis in mid March. As we begin the process, there are a few things we want to make sure that our prayer and financial supporters are aware of. First, the congregation has been incredibly gracious and generous financially. Consequently, we will no longer need to raise funds for this season of ministry. Thus, for those of you that give on a monthly basis, February will be the last month which we will need funds sent to Fresno, First Baptist. If you are enrolled in our automatic electronic funds donation system, February will be the last month in which those contributions will be automatically withdrawn. If you would like to continue giving to the Faith Alive Foundation in Jos, then feel free to contact us and we can put you in touch with the right folks.

Secondly, even though we no longer are in need of financial support, we still need prayer support. So we will continue to share prayer requests, emails and newsletters with you. These will allow us to stay in touch with you, inform you of what’s going on in our family and ministry; and chiefly, serve as a way to communicate prayer needs and prayer celebrations with you. Even though we are ending one chapter of ministry, we are opening another. We still need your prayers as, together, we begin this new chapter.

Thirdly, we are setting up a new, temporary website so that you can continue to check in on us. This site will give you updates, blogs and pictures of our journey to Memphis and life once we’re settled in. We intend to keep a web presence as a means to continue to stay in contact with as many of you as possible. The new site is called Watsonopolis (like Metropolis) and is located at www.watsonopolis.squarespace.com.

Finally, we ask that you celebrate with us these good gifts that God has given us. New life. New ministry. New adventures. Thank you for walking alongside us through our missionary stint in Nigeria, through our transition and through our professorship at Golden Gate Seminary. We look forward to having you walking along side us as we minister in our new parish of the city of Memphis with Living Hope Church.

With full hearts,
Matthew, Lisa, Nathan and one on the way.

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