I know that many couples in ministry move around a lot. I understand that there are many reasons for this...denominations often move pastors at will and God has His plan for each of us--many times that means moving. Being in the ministry is difficult on some levels and differing opinions, personalities and ministry styles often make moving the best option. I get that.
Brad and I met at New Life. We "courted" at New Life (for those of you that have known us for a while, you understand the quotes! I will tell you all our story sometime!). We married at New Life. We had babies at New Life.
We had a short time when we were called away, by the Lord, so that we could grow and have other experiences. But, then we came back.
Brad and I both feel like we have grown up in this church. We have experienced joy and laughter and sorrow and tears here. The last 4 years have definitely been the most challenging of my life. However, I feel like we are on the other side now...there is a peace and joy and lightheartedness about the stage we are in, and I feel that is reflected in our ministry and the people around us.
We were in church on Sunday and witnessed couples dedicating their babies. Several of them were what Brad calls "our JV kids". Of course, they are not kids anymore...but they were in our junior high group years ago. I had tears in my eyes as I watched these people, people we have known since they were little, holding their own babies. They are starting their own families and traditions and investing in the next generation. I love that to some degree, Brad and I had an impact on their lives...and in return on the next generation.
What I love is that we are still in their lives. It is more of a peer relationship now, as we are all in the parenthood journey together. Now we can talk about diapers and sleep schedules and school activities and continue in relationships that are only becoming more rich.
This is what happens when you stay put for a long time. I wouldn't trade the hard times that our church has been through. We have grown through it, together. Our relationships are stronger and more genuine.
And, can I just say "thank you"? Thank you, New Lifers, for letting Brad and I be ourselves. For giving us room to grow. Thank you for letting us hurt and letting us triumph. Thank you for going on the journey with us. I truly feel that we are family. I don't approach our calling as an "us" and "you"...like we have more to offer you than you do us. We have different roles, for sure, but I have definitely learned as much, if not more, from you than you have from me.
I truly love this life that I get to live, and I love that we get to do it with all of you...