Sunday, June 01, 2008

Back in Connecticut

It's late Sunday night, the end of an unusual weekend. Saturday was one of those all-day travel days. From Amarillo to Dallas to Little Rock to Chicago to Hartford. Four flights, two plane changes, twelve hours, and I was back in Connecticut.

This morning, I drove from South Windsor to Rocky Hill, where I picked up Chloe and Benjamin, my two older children. The three of us attended worship at the Ward Street Church of Christ in Wallingford. It was the first time we'd been back in a year or more. It was good to be with the people who were there this morning.

Anytime I step inside that white, picture-postcard church built by German Lutherans nearly a century ago, I open up the book that is my life and turn to one of its most significant chapters, a time in my life with some of the highest highs and all of the lowest lows.

The selfish side of me always wants to be welcomed back to that place as though I were some kind of Christian hero. Good things happened at Ward Street during the more than ten years I preached there. We grew by more than 50 percent, revived Vacation Bible School, ordained elders and deacons for the first time in the church's history, purchased a tract of land on which to build new facilities, had a fairly-successful capital fund-raising campaign. The list goes on.

There's only one problem. Those aren't the only reasons I'm remembered there. You see, Ward Street was the scene of my horrifically-bad divorce. It's the place where, for all of my preaching and teaching about faith, hope, and love, my life and my marriage became a source of doubt, hopelessness, and anger. I was officially divorced on the day after September 11, 2001. (That was one ugly week). Along with the house where I used to live, the Ward Street Church represents my personal ground zero. So visiting there always evokes so much inside of me. I'm not always prepared to handle it well.

After driving around a little, we had lunch in Wallingford and then went to pick up my youngest, Abigail. Then, the four of us came to South Windsor. I'm staying here because of the hospitality of Michele's parents, George and Elaine Caruthers. They're some of the finest people God has anywhere. What a pleasure to be their guest. I drive their car, and my kids and I come and go as we please. It was beautiful this afternoon and we spent a little time just hanging out on their back deck, which is where George took the picture above.

Tomorrow, I'll get up early (for me) and make my way down to New Haven for the first day of class. The course on "Foremothers in Faith" was canceled due, I think, to low enrollment. So I've switched over to what was my first pick, "Judaism in the Time of Jesus." I think it will be a good class. What I'm really looking forward to, though, is spending the afternoons and evenings with my kids, once we all get out of school.


Arlene Kasselman said...

Frank, what is so great is that our God is one of second chances and your life and ministry continues to bless those around you.

Oh and could you have chosen maybe a less attractive backdrop for the picture - it is sheer torment for us fellow Amarillo readers!

Dee Andrews said...

That's a great picture, Frank! Good looking kids you've got.

Have you lost some weight? You look really slimmed up to me, or is it just my imagination? I've just lost 20 lbs., myself, over the past 6 months or so and am very happy about it, so look out for things like that.

Hope your classes go well this week. Sorry you couldn't take the one we all had picked out for you, though.

Many blessings to you all today!


Frank Bellizzi said...

Hi girls. Thanks for those words of grace.

Bob Bliss said...

Frank, great looking kids (dad's not too bad either). I know the feelings you have. At Randolph, NJ (I spent 17 years) very few would remember me because it's changed so much. But still we persevere. Hope you have a good summer.

Neva said...

The bad makes the sweet oh so much sweeter. We all have our own ground zeros and the reminder of the pain helps keep us compassionate, helps diminish our tendencies to judge and reminds us that everyone, everyone has some pain in their past. Praise God for the hope in our future.
ps--great pic!!

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to feedback on the class.

Wade Tannehill said...

I'll echo what others have said. Great looking kids! I'm glad you get to spend this time with them. What a blessing I'm sure they are to you. The class sounds great! Right up my alley.