Captain Sentimental and the Reminiscing
I could not be happier to be leaving Illinois!
Because I have made a commitment to myself to stay away from anything remotely political on my blog (which doesn't leave much to write about these days), I will refrain from stating any of the specific reasons for the jubilance I feel in regards to our departure. Feel free to use your imagination. Hopefully, unless we are close friends, that's all it will be is your imagination. Because if you know my political views based on anything I've written on this site, I have failed to make it what I want it to be: A site that invites you into this adventure that Amy and I are undertaking, and points to Jesus, with nothing to distract you from either of those.
The ironic thing is, as ecstatic as I am to be leaving this state, I am starting to struggle with the idea of leaving Monmouth. I realize of course it's not going to be feasible to leave Illinois without first leaving Monmouth, but that doesn't change the difficulty. This town has become the backdrop for what has undeniably been the best season in my life.
I raised my daughter in Monmouth. I took her to her first day of school here and watched her graduate here. I watched her get married here and give us two beautiful grandsons. I've watched as she's grown into her roles as wife and mother, and I couldn't be any prouder of her. She and Arturo are placing Christ at the center of their household, and it shows in everything they do.
I met, courted, proposed to, and married Amy while living here in Monmouth. I watched her daughter slowly become my daughter as she transformed from a hesitant, directionless kid to a self-assured, self-sufficient young lady with two college degrees and a bright future. I could never have imagined what blessings Amy and Tory would bring to my life.
I met Jesus in Monmouth. As a result, I got sober in Monmouth and had the honor of working with many other alcoholics and addicts over the years. I have led worship at church on around 1000 Sunday mornings over the last 22 years - all in Monmouth.
I've had the privilege of working for the YMCA in Monmouth for the past 9 years. It's the best job I've ever had. The job has been perfect for me, and I have been perfect for the job...well, not like Jesus perfect, but I was a good fit.
And I haven't even touched on the life-changing relationships that have been built here. Between church family, the YMCA family, and just members of the community who I've crossed paths with, the number of people who have made a distinct, positive impact on my life are countless. It's tempting to start listing them, but this would quickly become the post that never ends.
So these "Final Preparations" that the title of this post alludes to, are maybe not what you were expecting to read about. There's not some long check list of tasks to be completed. Oh sure, there are a few things that need to be done, but when I think of all that we have accomplished in the last year, I don't get too excited about the few little tasks we have remaining. We have sold two houses, two cars, one fishing boat, all of our furniture, several instruments, $15,000 worth of wood-working tools, and most of our personal items. We have shopped for and bought a yacht. We have made four trips to Florida, obtained three sailing certifications and a diving certification. Started a website, designed a logo, and studied and researched till I thought our brains would explode. The list goes on...
No, the final preparations that I have left to make, are preparations of the heart. I need to prepare to say good-bye to this life of abundance. This life of comfort and contentment. This life in which I am surrounded by so many who know me well and love me anyway. This life that for most, would represent the American dream.
If it sounds like I'm having second thoughts, I'm not. This is not me walking back what I wrote in my last post about waiting excitedly for the day we leave. This is me showing the other side of the process. These feelings are not a surprise. I always knew this part would come, and I always knew it would be the hardest part.
So my final preparations will not be a checklist of tasks as much as it will be spending as much quality time as possible with those I love. It will be scheduling one last lunch date with my closest friends. It will be trying to find the words to tell those people how much they've meant to me. It will be trying to savor those things that I find myself doing for the last time. It will be praying that whatever blessings, obstacles, and relationships God brings our way in this next season, that He will still be glorified in our lives.
There are two bright sides to all of this. First, technology has made it easier than ever to stay connected. There is no substitute for physically being there, but an electronic connection is far better than no connection at all. As much as I loathe many of these electronic platforms, we will use them to the best of our ability and I'm sure be quite thankful for them. And second, the two highest priorities in my life are going with me! Jesus will not only be joining this journey, but leading it. And Amy, my faithful wife, friend, lover, and first mate will be by my side through it all.
I will miss the kids and grand-kids more than I can say. It's extremely difficult to leave our friends and our church, and I have trouble seeing what life will look like without them. But as long as my God and my wife are along for the ride, I can go anywhere and do anything. Especially when I know how many of you are fervently praying for us and this adventure we are embarking on. Please keep the prayers coming.
14 days, 16 hours, 14 minutes, 38 seconds....