Sunday, March 25, 2012

Saying Goodbye

The Lord calls people in new directions in his timing it seems, not just when we're ready. Our beloved pastors for the past seven years have been called to a new place, for something truly incredible. God has opened so many amazing doors for them and I am so excited to hear what comes of it!

But... it has lead our church body into a season of grieving.

I walked up to their house Friday, knowing it would be the last time i saw them before they left. I saw Kelsey sitting on the porch and immediately I remembered the day they were introduced to our church as the new pastors, Kelsey wasn't much older than my Brynlee. I remembered babysitting her at my house, playing "house" with her and Ashley. I remembered getting in trouble for still picking her up when i was eight months pregnant with Lucy. I remembered watching them ride bikes at Diamond Lake years ago. I remembered roasting marshmallows at family camp, playing tag, and all the beautiful cards she's made me over the years. I stepped past Max and remembered going over for dinner when he had just come home as a tiny puppy, tried chewing on Lucy's shoes. A.J. is so grown up, turning into an remarkable man, with a deeper voice, tall and fast, sweet and handsome. I remember every time I see Ashley how difficult it was for Julie to cut her hair for the first time, it was the most beautiful dark ringlet curls, like my Lucy's.
Inside I saw us having dinner talking about our dreams for the youth group, for growth in the church, for giving. I saw Julie at women's retreats, on worship team and laughing together at worship practice, teaching us how to scrap, taking all my family photo's, coming to the hospital to see my babies, bringing flowers to me for each and when Bryce was in the hospital. I remember what it felt like to receive those flowers, a card and even money to help us through those months he was sick. How Arte came all the way to Portland to sit and pray and talk with us for a few hours in that little room on the seventh floor.
I remember the day Arte asked Bryce if he'd be the youth pastor. I remember looking to the front during "meet and greet" to see Arte with his hand on Bryce's shoulder teaching him and encouraging his spiritual gifts, helping to develop him. I smile seeing the circle of men praying over Arte before each sermon, men of God united by and sacrifice and brotherly love. I see all of the baptisms he's done, including my sister in law. I can remember all the times he got excited during a sermon, the jokes he'd make, the times he'd get choked up, the time he made Bryce eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
I know this doesn't mean a lot to many of you, so i thank you for allowing me to share my heart.
Change is so hard sometimes, it's overwhelming- it brings memories and images and hopes that feel lost. A leader leaving means saying goodbye, grieving friends, mentors, family. It has me really thinking about heaven though. Truly I know that it will never be the same when we do get to see this beautiful family again. They will only be visiting, with limited time. We were so blessed to have them for such an important and AWESOME season that we had them! Our church has grown so much it is ready to sprout and shoot out of the building- we've been filling up with barely standing room in the back! We've branched into lots of new ministries in our community, new events, a new love for Jesus that is infectious in all the good ways;). Weeping may remain for the night but rejoicing comes in the morning! (Psalm 30:5)
Heaven is going to be unbelievable, and I am so honored and excited to spend it with this amazing family. It might just be the next span of time we get to spend with them, but we will have eternity to worship together! They have been an inspiration, always focusing on love and eternity, reaching out to all of Waldport.
I have said goodbye to friends like these before. I knew at my Honor Academy graduation that we would never all be together again, most of them I'd never see in this life after that day. Yet there was joy even in our grieving because we'd met kindred spirits in our love for Christ and knew that no matter what we would all reunite at the banquet table someday and what a DAY THAT WILL BE!

Arte and Julie- It's been an honor to serve with you, you two are going with God and Canada won't know what hit them:) You are a force to be reckoned with. You have gifts that are effective and unique. You be used and equipped by the creator for every good work:)
Love you!

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