Photo from our last Sunday on staff at Philippi
I walked home from church today, as I’ve done countless times over the years, but this time was different. I knew this was my final walk home.
Each week I walk down the hill from Philippi to my house, two places that I view as a gift from God. I received both gifts on the same day—my 23rd birthday—January 22nd, 2008. Many think the house is a parsonage, but it was just a house that happened to be in foreclosure when we were hired at the church. We were voted in on a Sunday night, and agreed to buy the house the next morning before heading to the airport. The next time we would be in Union it would be to call it home.
2007 was a tough year for us. Alicia left her family in Texas, the place I called home for the previous four years. We suffered through a pair of miscarriages, and I had to come to grips with not being given the chance at what I considered to be my dream job. 2008 brought not only a new year, but a new beginning at a place that seemed too good to be true. Our house, and its view of the magnificent sanctuary, are a constant reminder that God is faithful.
We kept waiting for the new to wear off, to find out that this was all too good to be true. That still hasn’t happened. Brad Goodale turned out to be the best boss I ever had, and Philippi became our family. We have endured another pair of miscarriages here, and the church has loved us through them. When Alicia went into kidney failure, the church not only took care of us, they literally gave us a kidney. Through the roller coaster pregnancies that brought us Reagan and TJ, and their subsequent stays in the NICU, Philippi was good to us, allowing me to miss time to take care of my family.
After all we have been through together, I dreaded telling the church of my intentions to resign. I knew they would understand if I was leaving to become a senior pastor somewhere, but I have never felt that calling. My biggest fear was that they would be disappointed that I was leaving to enter politics. That’s why I’ll never forget their reaction. As much as I needed the church in January of 2008, or during Alicia’s transplant, or when we rocked our tiny babies in NICU, I needed them again when I resigned. I’ll forever be grateful for the standing ovation I received when I announced my intentions of running for the State House of Representatives.
Each Sunday I walk home after another great day in God’s house, feeling thankful as I walk towards mine. I’m sure I’ll still walk to church sometimes (I can use the exercise), but it won’t be as a pastor. Those days are now over. But I can close this chapter in my life with no regrets and nothing but good memories.
From the four of us, thank you for everything. I have no idea what 2016 will bring, or where we will be this time next year, but we will always be thankful for all you have done for us.