For the first 14 years at Heritage I was “the pastor’s wife”; then 27 years ago I became a staff member.  When Kari was in 2nd grade and Heather was in 5th, I began working here part-time; when they were in high school, I started working full-time. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, I’ve entered the doors of our church (first in Moline and then in Rock Island).  I’ve had the title of Christian Ed Pastor, Women’s Pastor, Assimilation Pastor, Small Groups Pastor, Teaching Pastor, Missions Pastor and Connections Pastor…and those are just the ones I can remember right now.  🙂

Now, in a matter of days I’m not going to have any of those titles anymore.  My office is cleaned out.  My books are packed.  Soon my email will be shut down and someone else will occupy my office.  And this phase of my life will be done – this phase that’s lasted a lifetime and yet that has passed like a blink of an eye.

To be honest, I don’t know what to do with that.

My emotions are continually up and down.  My thoughts constantly are jumbled with what it all means.  My whole being tries to take it all in.  But I really can’t quite do it. 

I do know one thing:  I have loved my life at Heritage.  Oh, it’s been hard at times (really hard at times!)  and there have been many times that I’ve wanted to go somewhere else where surely the grass would be greener.  But oh, the joy, the privilege, the gift of spending a life-time at one church!  It has allowed our roots to go deep in peoples’ lives.  It has allowed us to see fruit that short-term pastors never get to see.  It has allowed us to experience such amazing love and support and encouragement from people.  It has given us the gift of knowing and being known.  We are blessed beyond words.

This weekend John and I will turn our church over to Shawn with great confidence and anticipation, believing with all of our hearts that  the Lord has brought this man to us…believing that he will lead our church to even greater places of effectiveness for the kingdom.  He is truly a man of God.  John and I have said over and over to one another that we simply could not leave this place at this time if it weren’t for Shawn and our utmost confidence in him.  How we praise God for Shawn and how we pray for him.

But for us, it’s “What’s next?”  We will take May, June and July off as a sabbatical.  To make this transition most successful, we won’t blog, we won’t be in communication, we won’t email during that time…We’ll just be gone.  Then early in August we’ll come back to Heritage for a kind of send-off to head to Battle Creek.  We don’t know what lies ahead; we only know that the deepest desire of our hearts is to help people come to know the love of Jesus in a deep, intimate, meaningful way.  That’s no different from our desire for these past 41 years…only the place and people will be different.

So, to all of you who have our heart, who have shared life and heartache and blessing and joy with us:  we love you beyond words.  Keep growing.  Keep loving.  Keep living for Jesus.  Keep helping this church be all it can be for Him.  That’s the greatest gift you could give us.

(I’ll be blogging again in August.)

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and build up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”  Colossians 2:6