Yesterday, we dropped off our two older daughters at college (Liberty University). The transition to college is a necessary transition, but that doesn't mean it isn't painful. And pain is one of two feelings I know well these days (I described that yesterday. You can read that post HERE). The other feeling that overwhelms me these days is thankfulness. I am so thankful.
Yesterday, minutes before we got in our van and drove away, the five of us huddled together in a circle and I prayed. And just like last year – it felt impossible to speak – the lump in my throat was so large. But I finally did, and I discovered I was overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed with pain and thankfulness. Thankful to God, thankful for my daughters, and at that moment – I was overwhelmed with thankfulness for Northridge Church. Here are some of the things for which I will be eternally thankful because of our church:
- I'm thankful for three youth pastors and wives who over the past seven years have influenced and continue influencing our daughters (as all three are still on our staff): Dave Boehm, Mark Nelson, and Aaron Hixson. Their influence on our girls is significant.
- I'm thankful for our church staff that allows me to do what I love with those I love. I know my enjoyment of my job makes me much more enjoyable to be around at home. I don't come home filled with stress everyday, but filled with appropriate joy and challenges of the work God has given us to do together.
- I'm thankful that when I asked my two college-aged daughters what they will miss most about being home, they both said "Church." As a parent, I couldn't be happier. As a pastor, I couldn't be more satisfied that I get to work at that church they love so much.
- I'm thankful for our worship leaders, band and production team that create that atmosphere that they will miss so much.
- I'm thankful for youth leaders who have invested hundreds of hours into my children. I am SO thankful for each of you! On the morning we left for college, Morgan went to breakfast one last time with one of her most influential youth leaders. And it was at 6:00 AM. I can't get her to want to do much of anything at 6 AM! I'm impressed, Emma!
- I'm thankful for a children's ministry that taught them how to live out their faith and to love God and His Word. The countless hours have borne much great fruit! Don't get weary in your amazing work!
- I'm thankful for other teens their age who want to please God and pursue Him! I realize my girls are at an age when their friends can be as much or more of an influence than we are. I'm so thankful that they love being with their Christian friends.
- I'm thankful for people in the band, in the nursery, backstage crew, and other places they served – that loved them, and lived the Gospel. Your influence means more to me than I can express.
- I'm thankful for all the Community Groups we've been a part of over our parenting years that pray for us, encourage us, listen to us, and challenge us in our parenting. Even days I didn't feel like going, I rarely ended the night without being thankful for my Community Group.
- I'm thankful for a church that pursues the Great Commission. I'm thankful my daughters have seen life-change happen, rather than just hearing about it.
- I'm thankful for our friends who aren't just friends to Sue and me, but friends of our girls as well. I love that our daughters like our friends! I'm thankful to share life with those who share our goals for our children and for pleasing God!
I love that on the final night at home before leaving for college – Morgan wanted to have friends from youth group over. They had teens and youth leaders come over for pizza, Smores, and much laughter. Although it was our final night at home with Morgan and Ali, we couldn't have been happier to share it with those for whom we are so thankful!
Yesterday morning I asked Morgan what she was most nervous about starting her freshman year. She said she was nervous that she wouldn't find a great church like Northridge. I LOVE that our church has raised the bar of her expectations. And I love that the local church is important to her as she begins college. (And I'm sure she will find a great church; I'm just glad she thinks about that!)
This is a necessary transition. It is painful. But balancing out my heart filled with pain is a heart filled with thankfulness to God for so many who have been used by God to influence our daughters in their walk with Christ. I'm thankful for my girls. I'm thankful for you. I'm thankful for Northridge Church!