Saturday, December 4, 2010

Texas Friends

The following picture has nothing to do with this post but it was too cute not to post and didn't go with any other post so I'm adding it in here. See...cute, huh?

One of the best parts about life in the Ministry are the relationships you form at different churches. One of the worst parts of life in the Ministry are leaving those relationships when God calls you to a different place. You quickly discover the depth of those friendships when you move on. The real friendships last over many years. Others are just meant for certain seasons of life. Between Dan & I, we have served on 9 different church staffs. Each of those places hold special memories and friendships. We have connections from each of those places of service that we will always treasure. One of those friendships started in Glen Rose, Texas.

When we left for Southwestern Seminary in August of 1999, we were newly weds. We had been married less than three months and arrived in Texas with just one goal. We wanted to focus every bit of energy and effort on Dan's education and get out of there as quickly as possible. Because of that, Dan made the decision before arriving that he would not work full-time on a church staff. He had been in ministry long enough to know that no church position is truly part time. So, in order to do school and do it well, he would fully focus on school and work a secular job in order to help pay our bills.

It wasn't long after arriving in Fort Worth that he was approached about doing pulpit supply on various Sundays. This could be for preaching or music and would require no time commitment except for Sundays. This was perfect! Once he did one Sunday at a church in Arlington, his name got out there and we started getting tons of calls. It wasn't long until his calendar was full for every Sunday in the next few months.

Then, in November, he had a little accident that caused him to miss the rest of the semester, spend lots of time on the couch and take lots of pain meds. He was burned pretty significantly and pretty much was out of commission. One night while he was on the couch, the phone rang and a man from Glen Rose called to ask if he could supply the next few weeks. Dan told him about his accident and that he could not do anything until after the new year. Fortunately, the new year came and that man...George Strickland called back.

Dan scheduled to be there one Sunday in January even though it was over an hour away. We loaded up early that Sunday morning and headed to Glen Rose having no idea what that church and those people would come to mean to our family. Within moments of being there, we felt like we were home. Not much time passed before the committee approached Dan about submitting a resume for their position. Dan stood strong in his conviction of school being his priority. But, he did agree to serve as their Interim Worship Leader. We spent almost all of our two years in Seminary with those wonderful people. And, just so you know, Dan's commitment to focus on school was a great idea. He finished a three year degree in only 2 years with a 4.0 GPA. (I'm still so proud of him for that!)

One of those sweet relationships formed at that church was a couple named George and Melinda Strickland. They had just one son who was away at college. They opened their hearts and home to us. We had a standing invitation to spend Sundays at their house. We always had lunch plans with them if no one else invited us over. We shared our joys, struggles and dreams with them. They loved us and we loved them.

Close to graduation, the church really felt strongly that Dan was the person for their full-time position but Dan nor I never could get a strong leading from God that we should move that direction. Trust me, if ever we wanted God to call us somewhere, it was there. We wanted to serve Him with the people we had come to know and love. But, we never got a peace or leading that direction so we had to say No. Which also meant we had to say goodbye. It was tough!
It has been almost ten years since we left that church and those sweet people. We have been back on a couple of occasions to lead DiscipleNow but other than that, have not seen any of those sweet friends. About a year ago, Melinda called to say they would be at Disney during Thanksgiving week. We planned to go over and see them and spend lots of time with them during the week. Then, in March, we were surprised with the sweet news of Micah's arrival. So, George and Melinda drove an hour to come and spend the day with us. What a sweet sacrifice. Melinda was barely in the door when I handed Micah off to her. She is a grandmother to a little boy Jonah's age and twin granddaughters born in April. Needless to say, she was more than thrilled to hold a baby for a while.

We all loaded up in the van and headed to get Jonah from preschool then to Mainstreet Grill for lunch. After lunch, we drove to Daytona Beach for a little while. They all got out and walked near the water.
Micah was obviously unimpressed with his first trip to the beach because he slept through the entire thing. I stayed in the car with him so he could rest.

When we got back home, they gave the boys some sweet gifts. (These pictures are out of order because some are mine and some are theirs!)

This picture makes me laugh. You can tell that George is a great grandfather because he let Jonah treat him like a jungle gym and never complained once. Jonah has been so intrigued with family relationships lately and after they left, he kept asking if George could be his grandpa. He recognized how fun and caring he was. It was sweet. Trust me, if we lived close to them, they would SO be his adoptive grandparents.
Before they left, they snapped this picture of our family. I had to include it because it is the first family picture we have that includes Max. Oops! There was a time that he would have never been left out of a family picture.
Thank you George and Melinda for your investment in our lives. Thank you for loving us and caring about our family. Our times with you are always so precious and it means so much that you took a day of your vacation to spend with our family. We are blessed for knowing you!

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