From the District Superintendent

Why My Children are Over Six Years Apart

Posted 15 April, 2021 by J. Douglas Forrester

A message from Roanoke District Superintendent Rev. J. Douglas Forrester

My daughter Ellen was born in the spring of 2002, and my daughter Claire was born in the fall of 2008. Their age difference has (generally) been a source of great blessings. For example, when they were younger, Ellen could babysit Claire. When Claire was a virtual student, Ellen could supervise her. This is all in addition to the fact that I won't have two kids in college at the same time and will only have two teenagers in the house for about six months.

Practical considerations aside, there is a completely true, singular reason that my children are as far apart in age as they are, and it is all my fault.

Here it is: when Ellen was born, I was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that I loved her so much that there existed in me no reservoir of affection to share with another child. I just could not imagine loving anyone else the way I loved her.

As time went by, I began to see the kind of person Ellen was becoming, and it dawned upon me that I was depriving her of an opportunity to experience the blessings I have with my brother and that Tracy has with her sister. Furthermore, I was depriving some lucky child of knowing Ellen in all of her unique wonder.

This process of discovery took me nearly six years. This is why my children have the age gap that they have.

One of the many things I learned from having a second child was that my heart, as full as it was, that it could expand, Grinch-style, two sizes bigger as Claire stretched my ways of thinking and my understanding of what love is.

Here is the thing: writing this, I realize that I do not love my two daughters the same. I love them differently because each of them is different, unique, special. I love them with all of my heart, just differently in ways that I pray celebrates the unique ways in which they were lovingly, fearfully, and wonderfully made by God in God's own image.

Over the course of the last nine months, I have come to a realization about the Roanoke District: I love the clergy and churches of this District enough that if given the opportunity to choose you, I would. In a short time, I have grown very fond of you as we have shared together this odd and wondrous calling to walk together down the often narrow and rocky pathways of Christian discipleship.

As you know, starting July 1, I will begin service as the Staunton District Superintendent while remaining the Roanoke District Superintendent, and it is my conviction that through this process, the clergy, laity, and communities of this new District will allow my heart to grow another size larger than it was when I arrived last summer and began to build relationships with all of you.

I am the kind of person who does not like to ask for things for myself, but I need your continued prayers through this process. I am grateful for your gifts, and I give praise to God for your hard work and dedication as together we face all that is to come. God is with us, come what may, allowing us to love one another in ways at once alike and different as together we walk towards a future where God already is.Grace and peace, Doug