A big HELLO! to all my readers on FB or by email. It's been a little over a month since my last post. And what a month it has been. No, the goodbye does not mean I am going to stop writing the blog. I will be working back into it this month. I want to dedicate this post to something of great importance. A big change in the life of my personal and church family.
In the last month I have completed an intense refresher course for my EMT certification, we have endured numerous winter storms, the hospital has been extremely busy, and we have made a change as a family in where we attend church......?
Yes, you heard me right. To some this is not a shock as we have said our proper goodbyes, but their may be some who did not know we have moved on, much less that there was even the potential for such a thing. My family and I have been attending the same church for nineteen years and have been actively involved for much of that. It is the only church locally that my wife has been intimately involved with and it is the only church my children have ever known. I want to speak to this major event in our lives for a few minutes. I will strive to maintain anonymity for the the ministry and anyone in it because I have always done so in relationship to this blog. Obviously those who know us will understand the references. However, this blog has always represented my convictions verses the convictions of any one institution, and it has always been intended to speak to issues, without getting specific about the who's. I don't know if it will always be that way, but it is going to be that way today.
While I don't shed tears as easily as my wife, (it's a family trait) :-), I am very expressive with my writing, singing, and speaking. I pray that you have seen my heart in previous expressions verbally and that you will see my heart in the words to come.
So why leave? Well that is subject matter that I may or may not ever come right out and speak in detail to here. People leave churches for many different reasons. Some are petty, some are not. Let's just leave it at this, after nineteen years calling this church home, God is leading me in a different direction and the reasons for that do not speak in anyway to the integrity of the ministry I am leaving. They always strive to stay on the straight path of integrity and they have done so concerning my leaving. I have been on this journey toward departure for about a year, striving to make sure I was making the right decision, and the leaders of the ministry and the church members have been nothing but gracious, supportive, and loving. Whatever differences we may have, God's grace has not allowed them to cause animosity of any kind. Keeping the love of God at the center has been of utmost importance to all parties. I pray it always remains that way. I say this only because speculation is always inevitable when someone that has been at a church as long as I have leaves. At the end of the day, it is as simple as this, it's a new season. Time for a new chapter. Now to express appreciation.
I want to say an extensive thank you to the multitudinous souls that have impacted the lives of my family and I for so many years. The Senior Pastor has seen my wife and I through some difficult times before we got married and then we had the honor of standing before him as he married us almost 13 years ago. He and His wife have meant so much to us. He and his son and daughter who are also serving as pastors there have been very generous in recognizing gifts and talents that my wife and I have been given by God and making room for them to develop. They have encouraged us along the way and have been patient with us as we grew. Thank you to the Pastoral team.
The Children's Pastor
You know who you are. You have always encouraged us as parents and you have always loved our children and cared for them while we have been serving. Thank you for the many Nerf wars, lollipops, and hugs that my boys have enjoyed from you over the years while I have been engaged with the music ministry on Wednesday nights. Thank you for striving to create a Sunday morning experience that pointed the children to Jesus. Our children have enjoyed every moment from Sunday morning to pizza and a movie night and Friday night nitro. You will always have a special place in their hearts.
The Many Caregivers of My Kids
You also know who you are. To the sweet people that served double duty not only as greeters at the front door but also kept eyes on my children while I was doing Sunday morning rehearsal. They truly loved our kids and us as evidenced by the many tears and hugs we saw and received the Sunday that we said goodbye. To the Sunday morning teachers that gave of themselves tirelessly to love our kids well before anyone else's were around, especially that one lady (you know who you are) that was always there before everyone else, often taking my kids back to the children's area for me.....THANK YOU! And last but not least, to the doughnut man and your wife who even took my kids to the movies one night and showed them an excellent time, thank you. Our children will always have fond memories of all of you.
To My Good Friend
My worship leader, mentor, and friend. You talent is beyond measure and your heart is beyond words. From the moment you arrived you have impacted the lives of so many. For my wife and I, you and your wife have not just been co-laborers and friends, but family. We have shared so much of the last six years in so many aspects of our lives that the bond we have will never be broken. You have patiently led me into greater leadership and musicality, all the while showing me much respect and honor. I pray that my family can continue to positively influence and poor into the life of you and your family the way you guys have poured into ours. Thank you!
To the Praise Team and Choir
You have tolerated me and allowed me to grow as your leader, musically and otherwise, loving me all the while. We have had moments of intense disagreement and moments of spiritual ecstasy as we have grown in our relationships with the Lord together. We have had moments of intense musical distress and moments of great musical joy as we have grown together musically and learned to honor our God together through praise and worship. I am so proud of who you are and I look forward to what you will become. We are truly a family and I pray that bond lasts forever. Thank you for all that you have been to me and all that you have allowed me to be to you. Your love of me and my family and the encouragement you gave us as we said goodbye will never be forgotten. Thank you!
To The Band
Your talent is obscene and your dedication is tireless. This church is so blessed to have such an incredible group of ridiculously talented people who make themselves available for service with the humblest of hearts. You make the worship experience unforgettable every Sunday and I will miss the unique sound that only you can bring to the gospel, rock, and contemporary mix of eclectic sounds that is Cathedral worship. Many of you have watched me grow musically and patiently endured my mistakes along the way. Thank you!
To The Congregation
You have loved my wife and I and have been an endless source of encouragement over the years. From the clap of hands to subtle taps on the shoulder, winks and head nods, we have always know that we were appreciated and loved. More people than I can count shed tears and made it clear how much they were going to miss us, all the while encouraging us on this new adventure of faith. Thank you!
To My Kids
I don't know when you will read this but I would be regretful if I did not include you in this. It has been my greatest joy to watch you grow up among this church family. Ryan, you learned to climb stairs in this church. You have grown from experiencing great separation anxiety when we first introduced you to the nursery, to confidently stating that you know this place like the back of your hand. You used to sit at my feet while a sang in the choir and you have provided love and support as you have watched your daddy make music. Thank you for helping take care of your brother over the last couple of years on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. You have also provided much support as you have listened and tried to understand this transitional journey that we are on. You have tried very hard to be positive and I appreciate that greatly. I am so proud of who you have become and are becoming.
Alex, the choir got to watch you grow in my arms as I directed them while holding you. You provided a great illustration of how we should approach God the Father as His children a couple of different times as you came running down the aisle, climbed the stairs, and I picked you up while beginning the praise and worship set. You made your Mommy, Daddy, and brother laugh as you would look forward to church so you could see the "nut nut man" and get a doughnut. I'll never forget the day you told me that Jesus was more important to you than doughnuts. I knew that was an important moment :-). You have grown into a fine little boy and I am excited to see who you become.
Both of you have been an important part of every Wednesday night and Sunday morning since you were born simply because you were there. As long as we have you, we will have memories attached of this church and this church family. Thank you for making the last nine years more special than they would have been if you had not been there. Your Mother and I can not imagine those years without you in them.
To My Precious Wife
Many of you had the privilege of seeing my wife shed a few of the many tears that she has shed over us leaving. She has truly been blessed by being a part of this church and is deeply saddened to be leaving.
Baby girl, I know that the direction God is leading us is less clear to you than it is to me (and it is not very clear to me) yet you are striving to go with the flow and trust. Thank you.
You are my partner, my best friend, and my confidant. You have seen me through the highs and lows of this journey and I am so glad to have had you by my side. I have enjoyed the many years that I have been able to share with you as members of this church. It has thrilled me to no end to watch you direct and act in three of the last four children's Christmas plays that have been so treasured by the church. You have gotten a small glimpse, through us leaving, of the impact God has used you to have on the people of this church. I have always enjoyed the times when I could look up while directing the choir and see your pretty face smiling back at me. You were a trooper as you did double duty by hustling to get yourself together after the children's show to come and sing for the adult Christmas program the same night. We even sung a song together that one time. I don't know what the future holds but I am so glad to have shared the last nineteen years of this journey with you and I look forward to sharing the rest of my life experiencing and serving God together as we move forward on this grand adventure of life, this side of glory. One day I pray we will be able to look back and have a better understanding of this transition.
Until the next time
Only the Lord knows the next time this church family and our family will worship together again. You have made it clear, the blessing that you feel we have been to you. I hope we have been able to show a little bit of what you guys have meant to us. You will always be a part of who we are and we will never forget you. Until the next time. Thank you.
Josh, Angie, Ryan, and Alex