Today, on Mother’s Day 2015, we are giving my mother-in-law the best gift we can possibly give her. My family is announcing that we will be moving back to Guntersville, Alabama, my wife Jennifer’s hometown, and now Grams can see her daughter and grandkids all she wants! May 31 will be my last Sunday as the Children’s Minister at Fairfield Christian Church, and over the summer we will be selling our house in Kokomo, Indiana. This has been an extremely difficult decision for Jennifer and myself, as we love so many things about our church and our local community. Here in Kokomo we have made many great friends, been involved in a wonderful church, sent our oldest son Will to kindergarten at the most amazing school (Acacia Academy), and had great experiences with soccer, basketball and gymnastics. I found a renewed passion for running that has allowed me to lose 60 lbs and cross the finish line of my 1st 2 marathons, and Jennifer also became a runner here in Kokomo, running her 1st half-marathon last weekend at the Indy Mini. We have been challenged, uplifted and inspired by the fitness communities both at the local YMCA and in the Club Kokomo Roadrunners. We even finally learned how to eat healthy! Jennifer and I have both grown as people, as spouses, as parents and as followers of Jesus during our time here. I could go on and on listing all the ways that God has blessed our lives here in Kokomo. Simply put, God has been very good to us in Indiana.
At the same time, it has not been easy living 8-9 hours away from both of our families in Memphis, TN and Northern Alabama. All of our parents are still working full-time, and between our extremely busy schedules and theirs, there simply is not enough opportunity for any of us to make those long drives as much as we would like. There has been a growing feeling and desire in both our hearts to simply be with family again. We know our 3 kids need to grow up having strong relationships with their grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. We have realized that this is both impractical and unrealistic as long as we live this far away. Beyond our relationships with God, nothing in the world is more important to us than family, and when the right opportunity was presented for us to work for family businesses, an opportunity that allows us to live in the same town as Jennifer’s family again (we lived in Guntersville, AL for 2 years a few years ago), we had to really consider it and pray hard about it. Ultimately we feel that it is the right time to make this move and return to Sweet Home Alabama, where 3 of 5 people in our house were born. Will and I will always be Tennesseans, but Alabama is our adopted home state. Along with living right by Jennifer’s family, we will only have a 3-4 hour drive to see my family in Collierville, TN, much more manageable than the 9 hours we currently must drive to see my parents.
The next few weeks will be bittersweet for my family. As we are joyful and excited to be with family again, we will be sad to leave behind many of the wonderful things I listed above, and we will be packing up the 1st home that Jennifer and I have bought together, preparing for the next phase in our exciting journey together. We will work hard to leave the Children’s Ministry in good shape for whoever is given the task of leading it next, and at the same time I know God has great plans for this ministry to kids and families.
To all our friends, our brothers and sisters in Christ, at Fairfield Christian Church, I want to say thank you for the last 2.5 years we have spent together. It has been quite an amazing part of my personal spiritual journey and my family’s journey together. Much of my job as the Children’s Minister here has been dependent on all of you who volunteer your time and energy to bring the Good News of Jesus to all the kids and families here. To all of you who volunteer with FCC Kids, your efforts are appreciated more than you can possibly know, not only by me, but also by every kid who needs a teacher, a mentor, a discipler or even just a friend. Please continue to give of yourselves freely so that this next generation can grow up to be selfless. Please continue to disciple your kids and the other younger people in your lives so that this next generation can grow up to be disciples who make more disciples of Jesus. Please continue to show the love of Christ to others in the Kokomo community, and around the world, so that this next generation can grow up understanding and desiring to love others as Christ first loved them.
As we pray for all of you at Fairfield Christian Church, please pray for our family as well. While we have a great opportunity before us, it also means great changes for our family. Will has to start over in a new school for 1st grade. We have to sell a house and buy a house, both of which are major undertakings. After being a stay-at-home-mom the last few years, Jennifer is returning to work full-time, and I will be taking care of the kids during the day! I have consistently been on a church staff for the last 6 years (plus a few internships in college), so most of my adult life has been spent working in churches. While we will quickly find a church home in Guntersville and get involved as volunteers for the time being, it will be a huge adjustment for me to not be on a church staff for now. Also pray for my legs and my lungs as I adjust from running in flat Indiana (with pretty mild summers) to extremely hilly Northern Alabama with high heat and high humidity! Maybe after I train in these conditions for a few months I will come back to Indiana and run a blazing fast marathon on flat ground! We really do need and appreciate your prayers as our family experiences all these changes over the next few months.
If any of our Indiana friends are ever in Northern Alabama, stop by and visit us! We will be living in one of the most scenic towns in the country. You can find us on beautiful Lake Guntersville!