It's starting to sink in how much we'll be leaving behind when we move.
Our totally amazing church. Spirit-infused worship. Challenging preaching. A place we feel right at home, where neighbors and friends worship side-by-side. A place that has helped us grow by giving us a place to belong.
Our fabulous neighbors. People who mow our lawn when we're away without being asked, look out for our kids, make time to hang out together, and who care about us. Neighborhoods like this one are hard to find.
Our kids' great schools. Good Shepherd Preschool and River Gate Elementary School have been outstanding places for our kids to learn, to be loved, and to make friends. Leaving both behind will be sad.
Our first house. This house has been such a peaceful place, and I couldn't imagine a better fit for our family. We spent countless hours making it "ours" when we moved in. And soon it won't be ours any more. In almost 13 years of marriage this is the longest we've ever lived anywhere (that is, almost 4 years now). It has felt so good to be settled, with all of our things under one roof.
There are other things ... Gordon-Conwell, the SIM community, and more ... that have made this a rich season for us. And those losses will have to be grieved. But today I've started to think about what I'm taking with me.
What will I carry with me as we leave Charlotte that I did not have when we came?
Memories of people and places. I don't plan to take a southern accent along, but it has been wonderful to have friends who speak with a drawl even when they're not telling jokes. We've met a lot of great people here, and though they can't all come along, we can treasure them in our memories. We've camped, biked, and driven all over the Southeast, and we've seen a lot of natural beauty.
New perspectives. I see things differently now in a number of areas: women's roles in ministry, eschatology (that's the study of the "end times"), the function of the Old Testament for Christians, Christology (that's the study of Jesus), even the gospel itself. Don't worry, I'm more convinced than ever that the Bible is God's Infallible Word, I am more deeply in love with Jesus than when I came, and I am experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit in greater measure. These four years have added so much to my understanding of the Bible and my relationship with God (and, as Danny will tell you, the weight of my library!).
A family of five. We came here with a 4-year-old and a 4-month-old. We'll leave with a 10-year-old, a 5-year-old, and a 3-year-old. We'll be leaving behind the 'baby stage' and taking three great kids with us. I'm so thankful that we get to keep on being a family no matter where we live. Our marriage is stronger than ever, with a sense of teamwork that has made this intense season truly a joy.
This blog. And all of you who read it. I have loved sharing this journey with all of you, and you can join me for the next season of learning. We still don't know where that will be, but we're trusting that God will open the right door for us so that I can continue my studies. Check back mid-March for the big news!