Here’s to the Thank You

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”

I was introduced to this proverb last year by my cousin as we walked through the Adirondack State Forest. Some say it’s an African proverb, others say say it isn’t, but after this past year I just think it’s accurate.

I’m sitting in my office for the first time after being on sabbatical for the last three months. This sabbatical was a gift from my church (A New Hope Bible Church in Riverside, NJ! w00t!) after becoming aware of a my burnout and depression. It’s because of this gift that I’m now sitting in front of my work computer more energized than I have been in years. I’m refreshed, better connected with my family, and am once again getting lost in dreams about what we can do together for the glory of our Savior.

So I’d like to spend this blog saying thank you.

To our extended families (Ricketts/Entwistle):

You told us to rest. You helped pay for that rest. You made sure we rested. You exemplified what it means to be a family who loves each other. I can’t ask God for a greater gift than the family in which He’s placed us.

To my church family:

I can’t fully put into words what this break has meant to me and my family. You’re willingness to respond to our need with nothing but unfiltered love has been a balm to our souls. I know it’s not easy to hear some of the things that we’ve shared with you concerning our health but your response was nothing less than the love of Christ working through you. We can’t wait to get back to serving you in the strength of that same love.

To my Board of Deacons:

When I first told you what was happening in my life you responded with “What do we need to do for you? Do we need to find someone to fill the pulpit this Sunday?” This immediately put my heart at ease as we were then able to work out a comprehensive plan to restore not only my personal health but also the health of my family. When I came to you and told you I was empty you immediately picked up all of the pieces and made my health top priority. You may not know this, but this isn’t common in most churches. You are a unique breed and my prayer is that we can duplicate this care and love in others for generations to come.

To the families we visited:

I’ve considered giving each of you an individual shoutout as each one of you played a very unique role in our restoration, but that would make this post unbearably long. Instead I want to say this — you were all exactly what we needed.

Honestly, our road trip didn’t turn out as we had planned. We weren’t able to visit everyone we had on our list and were gifted with surprise invitations to see others. At the end of our trip those who we weren’t able to visit made sure to share their love for us through messages of disappointment and fruit left on the vine (you know who you are, Dr. T). When people ask us about this trip I tell them that it wasn’t everything we planned but it was everything the Lord knew we needed and I absolutely mean it.

To my pastor friends and those serving in various churches:

We’re all hurting. There wasn’t a pastor, faithful church member, or ex-pastor that I visited that wasn’t dealing with being burned by the church in some way — and yet you remain. You’re faithfulness through the hurt, betrayal, and anger made me feel normal. It reminded me that I wasn’t alone, that I have brothers and sisters who not only feel what I feel but also struggle like I struggle. You gave me a safe place not to simply hurt, but also to heal.

My door is always open to you. When you get your chance to get away, my family will be here for you.

A special shout-out to the Rice/Escalera family:

I’m not even sure what to say to you. We weren’t expecting to stay very long and when we left were in tears that it was over. Love is being able to disagree about Calvinism in a pool and following it up by sharing pizza at home.

In all serious, our visit with you was literally the turning point of my health as you welcomed us back into your lives as though we hadn’t missed a beat. Watching the love of your family and knowing we were part of it was what the Psalmist must have been feeling when he described it as “precious ointment on the head.” Listening to your stories, watching your (grand)children play, and simply sharing our hearts together brings tears of joy to my eyes even as a write this.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Finally:

This is the backdrop of the healing that the Lord has brought to me and my family. We are not healing because we separated ourselves from the world and hid, but because when we were hurting the most you said said “Come and dine at our table; find rest and comfort in our homes and be renewed. Let us be the healing hands of Christ in your lives.”

I pray we can do the same for you one day.

Here’s some pictures and a song.

That custom artwork welcoming us to a house and home.
My Sister and Bro-in-Law (Not pictured: Adorable Nephew)
When you’ve got to #ElderBoard you #ElderBoard hardcore!
There are dead people under this ground. So says Grits.
Some of the kids contemplating.
If you look hard you can see disgust.
My name’s Blurryface and I (don’t) care what you think.
That July 4th Florida sky. No filter, y’all.
Yeah, this pretty much captures what family looks like.
I blame these two for so much good in my life.
There is absolutely no weariness or tired children in this picture.
One of the Great Dr’s and my beautiful wife.
Pictured: A Squad of Great Dr’s
When it’s the last hotel night of your road trip.
When Vincent the Great lives at your house for a month and gets bored. (Special shout-out to the peeps who helped him)
Protected.
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