So forgive me if I say it over the Internet. For those who are not affiliated with Upward, please feel free to delete this message. I hope that out of 207 posts, I'm allowed a personal indulgence every now and then.
First off, I want to tell you all how proud and honored I am and will always be to have stood shoulder to shoulder with you in a mission to communicate the Gospel to as many people as we possibly could. Five years ago, a stupid, proud, arrogant 26 year old punk showed up on the doorstep of a place called Upward. And in 8 hours, did all he could to potentially end it right then and there (sorry Dale Noles....).
I look back over this past five years and I remember so many memories.
- A trip to Columbus with Tim Kelly and Juli Foster.
- The infamous Ft. Wayne training session (Brad - for the love of God man - please make sure you have AC for future volunteers who help you lay flooring in your building).
- Being short-sheeted at 2AM by Julio and Carmon.
- The board in the old building where we "kept score" every time a church came to training
- A mouse running in front of me at devotion and Julia King jumping a mile high
- Josh Ridings talking to customer on the phone (so many there)
- Debra Anderson and I having one of the best conversations I ever had at 7:15 in the morning (Debra - you are my personal hero - I respect and admire you more than you'll ever know)
- An 8 hour trek in white-out conditions across the Cascades to go to Walla-Walla for an 8 AM presentation that the guy at the church didn't show for
- Riding around Lowe's Motor Speedway at 185 MPH
- The Cheesecake Factory in Columbus
- September 11th - 2005 - CRM Implementation Day - A Day That Will Live In Infamy
- Northwest Arkansas with Wade - I Guaran*($#Etee it
- The Scenic Wolf Resort in North Carolina with the Growth Team - I will never spend another three days like that again
- Vacuuming the new building at 3AM getting it ready for move in day
- Cord Management
- The Amazing Race in Atlanta, GA
- 3 Putting after driving the green in Montevallo AL
- The INFAMOUS bus ride to Little Rock, AR (NO TOOKIE)
- Watching "Larry The Cable Guy" in Seattle with Doug (Git-R-Done)
- "Thoughts From Under The Deer Head"
- The Village People Skit for the new dress code (Robbie - don't ever let that video go out of style)
And that hurts to think about. But reality hurts sometimes. You'll always be in my thoughts and prayers. But most likely, we'll never cross paths. That's why when chapters close, you do things like this. You take time to say the things you always wanted to say. You close the book and put it on the shelf.
And so, I close this book of 8 years of my life and put it on the shelf. I've learned and grown so much from it. But a new chapter truly has begun and I couldn't be more excited. And all the pain from leaving is made so much sweeter somehow by the anticipation of what is to come. Saying good-bye is bittersweet when you have something remarkable awaiting you. So I ask for your prayer. I take so many parts of you with me as I go, and you have made me a better person and I will always be eternally grateful for it.
You'll never know what your friendship has meant. And I will pray for you as a group. That you stay close to God. That you stay true to the Word. That you always do what you do for the glory of God and not for the glory of Upward. May you always do what is in the best interests of the hard working men and women who give all they have to make their leagues successful in their local churches. May you always keep them in mind as you go forward. And may you honor their dedication and sacrifice by putting them at the forefront of all your decisions made.
Because in the end, the resources that have been entrusted to you that allow you to do what you do come from the wallets, purses, and bank accounts of hard working men and women, single moms, single dads, broken homes, hurting situations that just want something good for their child and when the kids show up at the gyms or fields on Saturday, they are given a time where all the troubles of life pass away and they can be kids again. They are their dollars, and not yours. Honor the mom's and dad's hard work by spending their dollars wisely.
Also, trust in God. Trust Him to lead you and guide you and to take you where He will and at the pace that He has set, not your own. Don't create artificial goals for yourselves. God is your goal. You are rewarded for faithfulness and obedience. Not numbers. Paul planted, Apollos watered, GOD GAVE the increase. Trust the God that has brought you this far and trust that He will be the God to move you forward as HE sees fit.
Take care of yourselves and always take time to play and to rest in God. Honor the Sabbath that Jesus provides for you. Flourish in your relationship with Him. There is nothing God honoring in a burned out life. Take time to Smile. Take time to laugh. Take time to do nothing.
I love you all. And thank you for letting me be your teammate for 60 months. I'm surprised you put up with me that long!..If you're reading this, please pass the link to this post along to all the folks at the office...I don't want anyone to feel like I didn't say good bye to them. But to be honest, I couldn't have come in and said good bye...I don't think I would have gotten through it...
With that, I leave you with this video. The movers will be here soon...and we'll head to Missouri. With Eternity (The Church) in sight, but more importantly, whatever God has in store for us. Take care ya'll. And stay in touch (even though you know you won't)...