Our church is about to hit a big transition. Our head pastors, Kenny & Michelle, are moving out to California to attend an amazing school for three years. I'm so excited for them! There is a part of me that wants to go to this school. If my boys end up choosing this school for their college years, I will be over the moon!
The new pastors are not set in stone yet. We are pretty sure we know who it will be but God has to rock some pretty big miracles to get them here.
When churches change pastors, they change many members. A lot of people visit a church and connect to something there. Very often, it's the pastor. In my case, I joined this church back in 2005. A little over a year later, the head pastors moved to southern California to pastor a larger church there. That's when Kenny & Michelle took over. Our membership morphed for a while. But we eventually hit our stride (or at least, I think we did).
Many of my church friends are very connected to Kenny & Michelle. I am, too. So I'm praying hard for my church. That God do what's best and help people to keep their hearts and minds open to the new pastors and their style.
I'm oddly mellow about this. I haven't cried over this yet. And there have been quite a few tears. I think my history of moving probably helps. As an IBM Brat, I moved something close to 8 times by the time I was 13. I know the reality of relationships. They come and go with life changes and seasons. I know my true friends are just that, no matter how much distance is between us. Those true friends are there for me no matter how often we see each other.
So the thought of Kenny & Michelle leaving to follow God's calling is exciting to me. I envy people who clearly hear from God to pick up and do something specific. I know I will see them again when they visit their family still in this area. I know I will haunt them on Facebook.
Today was Kenny's 2nd to last time preaching. As he spoke, I was hit with a momentary pit in the stomach. I think there will be a sense of loss I'm not quite understanding at the moment. I had trouble listening to his message. I thought how far we had come. In 2007, when he started speaking, he was rough and nervous. Now, he speaks easily, straight from the heart. He shares from his life, being extremely honest about his early days, before Jesus had his heart. He talks very candidly about how he used to be. Everyone can relate to imperfection and we love that he can relate to our imperfections. He never pretends to be oh-so-perfect. He is welcoming and is the first to admit that he's flawed just like anyone else.
In 2007, they had just announced he would become the new head pastor and my marriage imploded. The poor guy was barely in his new role and I was all, "Hey, I'm having a huge life crisis and think my head is going to explode. Can you help?" Kenny and Michelle walked with me through that journey. Sometimes, counseling me. Sometimes, Michelle just sitting there as I sat on her bedroom floor, bawling, thoughts tumbling jumbled from my mouth. I have no idea how they found the strength to handle it all. Learning how to pastor a church and me in crisis mode every time I saw them. I doubt that's how they think of it. But I look back on that time - I was so needy. I couldn't see beyond my own swirling misery. I had nothing to give - only desperately draining whatever I could out of all around me.
Kenny also had a heart for The Ex. I could tell he truly loved The Ex, whether I was mid-hate or wrestling with feelings of vengeance or forgiveness. He never stopped praying for The Ex. It was hard to take during the times I wanted God to punt The Ex to Pluto. But in my more lucid moments, I thanked God that someone had the heart to truly pray for The Ex.
Kenny and Michelle have always been champions of my little fractured family. Kenny was one of the men in my church that recognized the need my boys had for a reassuring word from a man. These wonderful men in my church took my boys under their collective wings. Kenny always had a hug for them. If the boys asked him things, he always made time - talking to them like they were the only ones in the room. Once, Kenny was going to give his testimony as the message. At the time, BigBro was really wrestling with anger about the divorce. Kenny invited BigBro to stay for the service instead of going to kids' class. BigBro stayed and listened to EVERY word. Kenny shared his experience as a child of divorce. I still think that stays in BigBro's head.
Once, when BigBro was very upset and worried about something spiritual - I can't recall what - I think it was heaven - I was at a loss. I didn't know what to do. I called Michelle and asked if she would talk to BigBro. She did. At length. I'm not sure what all she told him. But when they hung up, BigBro was at peace.
Kenny & Michelle have baptized both of my boys. I had always warned Kenny that I expected him to perform my next marriage and had joked that it was up to Kenny to find me my groom!
The Ex joins us at church very frequently because of his strong connection to many of our church friends. When I told him Kenny & Michelle were leaving, it hurt. He had just returned to Texas and had very few friends. Kenny & Michelle - he knew - were true friends. So he was loath to lose them.
Kenny & Michelle walked with me in my journey from utter desolation to being a strong God Girl. They have encouraged me, called me to the mat on certain things, gently corrected me, joked with me, been examples of selfless service, pointed out my strengths when I couldn't see them. There are many times in my day to day life when I'm at a decision point. At some of these times, I pause and think, "What would [so-and-so] do here?" God has blessed me with many fine examples to put in that [so-and-so] bracket. Kenny & Michelle are often inserted there.
It will be hard to let them go. Selfishly, I want them here. But I will send them off with blessings. And will cheer them on as God takes them into their next season.
I love you, Kenny & Michelle.