Here are a few things I love in this world from birth and as I've journeyed through life. I'll put them in the order in which I experienced them.
1. My Momma, Sheila Kingsberry-Burt. (Everyone loves their mom, but "mines" is one of a kind! She made me who I am. When people say I'm smart, it's because of her. When I open my mouth, they hear her. We've have had our changes because she spoiled me and wanted to undo it when I got grown, but... Another, digression. I can talk about her, but NO ONE ELSE CAN! Remember, that! That goes for all the other things I'm about to name as well!)
2. Gospel Music and Singing. (particularly Karen Clark-Sheard and hearing my maternal family sing visiting and growing up in Jordan Chapel Missionary Baptist Church on the border of Warren and Franklin County, NC. Good singing brings me alive!)
3. Pizza with Black Olives and Italian Sausage. (I know y'all may not like olives, but taste and see!)
4. Warren County, NC! (I came to Warren County from Vance County in the 6th grade and matriculated through Warren County Schools until I graduated as Valedictorian of the Warren County High School Class of 1997. Other than my family, this is my most prized achievement. Someone had to fight me to take it off my resume! I achieved to make all my teachers and the community proud because they built a bullied and torn down, but assertive and smart kid up to be proud of being smart and being himself despite my prior experiences in school.)
5. Warren County High School (As stated above and oh, I love my classmates! It's a deep love and we have a 20 year reunion coming this year! Turn up! Ayyyeee and all that stuff!)
6. UNC-Chapel Hill. (Yes, I am an unapologetic Tarheel! The only portion of my education fully paid. I thank them!)
7. Francemise St. Pierre Kingsberry! (My baby! I'm about to tear up. She just gets better and better as we grow together. When I first saw her, I knew something special about this woman and I thank God she's mine!)
8. World Changer's Church International and Pastor Creflo Dollar. (Say what you want about the Word of Faith movement and prosperity gospel, but God changed my life and some of my thinking there. Yes, He did!)
9. Amira Elyse Kingsberry (I will not cry today. RIP. Love you, baby!)
10. Hassan Terrance-Craig-Kingsberry, II; Keren Alyssa Kingsberry; Kelyn Anissa Kingsberry!!! (All me! Mines! Love them more than life. Grind for them! Spoil them! Now, I'm crying! Just a little though. I'm ok.)
So, there's much more that could be on this list, but this blog is not about this list or what I love. It's about a "shift" that took place in my life recently that I must share. You see Warren County is up here quite a bit. Why? Because I love it! I love it! I love it! One of my deepest core values is LOYALTY and I'm always loyal to those that were there for me or that helped me along the way. So, it is with great pride and honor that I can say I was appointed the County Attorney for my beloved and dear WARREN COUNTY!
Now the blog gets serious: Since I got the news of my classmate, colleague, former parishioner, and friend Jamie Wilkerson's passing, I've been trying to process and discern many things about it and life and purpose. Jamie was the County's first full-time attorney and she loved it! When the opportunity first arose, she came to me and told me she wanted the job and we prayed and "believed God" for it and she got it and she did a great job. I'm still a little perplexed by her passing and the events following, but I know she's resting with the Lord.
Like Jamie, as one acquainted with the emotional and mental pain of dealing with sickness, loss, and grief prematurely, but yet still having to go on with the business of and enjoyment of life, I've learned to seek the Lord. I've learned that wisdom, comfort, and solace from people just does not do it when you deal with certain things. It can actually leave you feeling judged and criticized and even more burdened. Yet God always knows and cares and can answer and not answer in a sovereign, loving, and all-wise way. So, I sought the Lord and when I seek Him, He seems to roll back the curtain of my life and remind me of some things.
Over the past ten years of my life, I've had many inexplicable things happen to totally shift my life and plans unexpectedly, good and bad. I won't recount them all, but if you know me you know them. However, something always keeps me going in pursuit of the purpose of God for my life. So, when many would have lost their minds or given up or allowed the bitterness and disappointment with life to set in, God has kept my mind and heart even when I just wanted to go off or flip out! A piece of what has kept me going has been what Warren County put in me and the people from "Dub-C" that encouraged me along the way and believed in me as a child, teenager, as a teacher, as an attorney, as clients. Remembering that I'm special to an entire place has carried me. The love. God's love expressed geographically.
Recently, as I've sought the Lord, God's sovereignty and Proverbs 19:21 have sprung up to remind me of some things. Proverbs 19:21 says, "Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails." I've tried to figure my life out and chart my own course so many times. I've been so certain and yet so uncertain. As people know occupationally I'm an attorney and pastor. I've been an educator and that started in my dear Warren County. Those close to me know that above all I prize my pastoral and ministry calling so much that I've never settled with the other two occupations. This year I was going to walk away from law and just focus on church and ministry. That was my plan. My wife warned me when I blogged and announced it to social media about it back in March not to make such final declarations! (I told you my wife is the best! But, you know us men...)
But, when Jamie died, I had a feeling that I needed to go back to Warren County. My home needed me. I may even need my home. Often the Kingdom needs you to fulfill a role other than I what you plan or want to be at a certain season of life. It had been stirring in me that a shift was coming and I'd been preparing for something, but just didn't know what. In the midst of what I'd been facing even personally this season, I sensed God saying press through it and get flexible. So, here I am at the shift...
Regarding purpose, as humans we always want to know what's next and make a plan and control our lives. I've learned you can't do that especially if you belong to God. All who know me know that Warren County is special to me. The people and place built me up when I was torn down and comforted me in my weary times and I've lived to make it proud and show people that no matter where you are from, you can be great. I've found that definition of great changes depending on where you are in life. I'm in a place where "great" for me is being used maximally for the Lord at the right place and at the right time.
It all leads to "not my will, but thy will be done." Thus, I am honored and humbled to go home to Warren county and serve. Always remember that God is sovereign and purpose is consistent, but may have many manifestations.
Forgive the long blog with many various ramblings and thoughts, but I think it will make sense...