I left Manchester NH in order to go to Florida for her tenth high school reunion. I think we will have a great time, but we are doing this trip very close to when we will be making a very big move from South Himilton, MA to Hilton Head, SC. As we took off from the runway I started thinking of the miracle of flight, and I prayed for the safety of everyone on board like I always do when I fly. Then, as the ground began to fly by quickly and the plane began to tilt upwards, I caught a view of the New Hampshire tree line.
Those who are close to me know that I grew up in New Hampshire, and spent years of my life exploring the leaf covered land beneath the wooden canopy. On takeoff, I caught the feeling that this is going to be one of the last times I get to soak in the beauty of the thick forest of New Hampshire, so I stared at the green ground, beginning to look more like moss as we pulled away from the earth. Eventually some fair weather clouds masked the forests and homes and roads with a light grey mist, then we broke through a cloud and I could no longer see the ground.
This did not make me feel well. I began to think of how much I love the land of New England. I love the winding roads, every twist and turn. I love how each bend reveals something new. I love how the signs aren’t always right or helpful, and how strict memorization is the only way to ge around. You either become a directional powerhouse, or become communal and break down to ask some local for directions which are full of “Go down past the big rock,” and “When you see the big white church turn right towards the old depot.”
I also love the people. Two communities in New England have specifically molded who I am and I am eternally grateful to them. One centers around Derry NH, the home of the Robert Frost farm. There I found myself as a person, prior to college in Pinkerton Academy and in Trinity Assembly of God (and Mary Anne’s diner!), and in my family’s home on Stark Road, where General John Stark was born. The other place centers around the distance between Lexington and South Hamilton, MA. In seminary at Gordon Conwell I reread an discovered the Story of God and how myself and everyone on earth has a part in it. I lived on the beautiful hill there where the red brick buildings house classrooms, lots of books, and many people who I hope will engage the world and effect it for great and powerful things. In the Lexington part, my church Grace Chapel molded me as a minister. I lived with the youth of Waltham and its urban sprawl, Lexington and its history, Arlington and Bedford, Concord an the rolling green fields, Woburn with the bowling alley, Natick down the Pike, and countless communities in between. I was challenged beyond what was bearable at times, and yet I was always sustained, lifted from morning to morning though the power of prayer and hope to see God work each day in the lives of Grace’s kids. I can genuinely say that I saw it – God has grown some new leaders and I will pray for their paths the rest of my life, because their faces (smiling, crying, or confused) are etched in my memory.
Grace also allowed me to serve among strong leaders of the church who genuinely cared for their congregants. I will hold onto what I have seen, learned, and applied as I learned to lead myself. Special thanks to Dorian and Todd who walked beside me and showed me two examples of excellence in the strategy, implementation, education, and care of those God has trusted us with as youth workers. I hope that I can represent Christ as solidly as you to have to me and the kids.
There are a lot of people I will miss when I leave. I will miss the land itself, and the challenges living in New England brings, but something new is about to happen. I’m nervous about the move to SC, but I know that I am heading in the right direction, and I am confident that with Gods help, I will be able to give myself as a living sacrifice to God and my Community, serving and equipping those around me with courage and strength. I get the feeling that South Carolina is going to like this New Englander. And I know that the New Englander is going to like the South Carolina beach. Feel free to pray for me as I go and make a new home.