Friday, March 30, 2007


Okay, I know I've been MIA for quite some time. So be forewarned that this will be the mother of all posts. Now that our families know, I can put this out there in the blogisphere. For those who were wondering, I am not pregnant. Sorry, Brittny. :)

We are moving again! After a lot of discussion and prayer, Gregg decided to resign his position as Minister of Technology at Covenant. He announced that he was resigning on March 15, and almost two weeks later accepted a job at a church in southern Pennsylvania as their Technical Director. They have offered him a nice salary increase from what he was making at CPC, plus medical benefits, a pension and $ for continuing education. We are planning the move for the last week of April, so that Gregg can start on May 1st.

I know, I know, I need to back up and explain how all of this happened.

For those who have been reading this blog over the last several months, you know that we've been experiencing quite a bit of unrest in our church. In the months leading up to and following Pastor Dan's resignation, things began unfolding that made it evident we should think about leaving Covenant Presbyterian Church. Not even one year after moving here, we began coming to grips with the crazy reality that this was not the right place for us spiritually and for Gregg professionally.

As we mulled it over and prayed, it only became more obvious that we needed to move on. We started seeing that people were falling by the wayside and not being ministered to. The program and doctrine/rules of the church had become more important than the people. And the clear message we received from leadership about the problems we saw was that things were "good enough". They also made it clear that whoever would succeed Pastor Dan as Covenant's next senior pastor would just come along and get on board with the "vision" that was already in place- not bring change, not do anything different than the church had done in the last 25 years. Just maintain.

Maintaining was not going to do it for us.

So in February Gregg began sending out his resume to a few churches that he saw advertised on King Street Church in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania (of all places) really stood out to both of us, and they wrote back right away and began corresponding with Gregg. Within a month, we were up there to visit and they had an offer by the end of our trip. The area that we'll be moving to is literally a world away from Florida. The community that we presently live in is less than thirty years old, while Chambersburg dates back to the Civil War. King Street Church has been serving the borough of Chambersburg and its 17,000 residents for the past 129 years. But yet it's growing much faster than Covenant which is located in a very modern, rapidly expanding city with a population of 105,000.

So I am excited and bewildered. And freaking out about all the stuff I need to do! Like packing and renting out our house and finding a place to live up there and packing... Do any of you know somebody wanting to rent a cute, newly renovated three bedroom house in Central Florida? :)

Following are a few entries about some of my thoughts on the recent chain of events, which I wrote a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully they'll fill in some of the gaps.

Thursday, March 15-
So many changes in such a short amount of time. I've heard it said before, and I believe, that when God moves He moves quickly. We leave a week from today to visit King Street Church in PA. We're both really looking forward to it. It's funny; most people take their vacations down here where we live, but we're taking ours in a colder climate.

We'll spend five days in Chambersburg, getting to know the church and staff and our way around the area. They're putting us up in a fairly new hotel, which we are thrilled about because that means we get to have privacy. It was just so weird staying at the senior pastor's house when we visited Covenant last year, sleeping in a full size bed that creaked every time you moved. Yeah.

So besides the trip itself, we are looking forward to flying! Gregg and I are such little kids about going on an airplane. We love to fly. It's wildly exciting for some reason I can't fully explain.

We are going to go shopping for some new clothes over the weekend, and check out the place we're planning on having Tess stay for the time we'll be away. We've heard rave reviews about this Doggie Daycare. I hope it really is all its cracked up to be, because we're leaving her there for five whole days. I hope she doesn't come back traumatized. She's initially very afraid of people and other dogs. So I'm nervous. I feel like a parent who's sending her kid off to summer camp. Who knew I'd get so attached to our mangy mutt?

I've gone through a roller coaster of emotions since we first talked about leaving Covenant and pursuing another ministry opportunity. At first I was resolved about the whole thing. If it was God's will for us to move on, then I was fully on board. If He wanted us to stay in Florida, I was just fine with that too. But as it appeared that He was moving us in the direction of leaving, I began to freak out. What the crap are we going to do with our house in this kind of market? How will we leave behind all those volunteers that Gregg invested so much into?

And I had to examine our motives for leaving. Were we just jumping ship because things had gotten too complicated at church? Or was this truly something we felt the Lord calling us to do.

I felt somewhat torn. I was stoked about the prospect of moving close to our parents and siblings, and experiencing the change of seasons again. Still, I cried over the possibility of packing up the first house we owned together and made so many memories in. Over leaving a community and area we had grown to know and thought we would spend many, many years in. Saying good-bye to some great people we'd shared with and gotten to know over the past year.

I spent a lot of time in prayer and asking God for wisdom and discernment. Gregg & I had many discussions about the entire situation, looking at it from every different angle. We came to the conclusion that Covenant is not the right place for us, for several reasons. That doesn't negate the impact Gregg has had on his wonderful volunteers, or the growth we experienced in our marriage here. I thought for a while that if we decided to leave, we were in effect saying that this past year was a waste. It wasn't. God used us and allowed us to thrive in a new place.

But increasingly, Gregg felt that he wasn't the right person for Covenant in the role of Technical Director. His vision has far exceeded that of CPC's, and they remain content with maintaining things just as they stand right now. There was really only one path to choose at that point.

We are excited and overwhelmed at the possibilities that lay before us. The desire to make an impact for the Lord has grown stronger for both of us over the past few weeks, and King Street Church looks like it will be a great fit for Gregg's vision & talents. There is an opening for a Center Director at the crisis pregnancy center located in the same town, which Gregg encouraged me to apply for. That would be such an awesome job! I am truly amazed at the fact that God uses and equips us to serve Him in various ways. We come with nothing, but He supplies it all.

Friday, March 16-
Yesterday morning at the church's staff meeting, Gregg announced that he is resigning. No detailed explanation was given, but if people want to know more they were encouraged to come talk to him. An email went out from the church administrator to the elders and deacons, along with Covenant Christian School staff. Gregg then copied and sent it to all of his volunteers and members of our small group. People were sad, some were really shocked. Most of them understood why he made the decision.

It's hard to put into words what I'm feeling about the whole thing. I can't stand making anyone sad, and this effects so many people. I also don't want to be the next subject of controversy, or fodder for gossip among our congregation. When all that stuff went down with Rock (former youth pastor), all kinds of not-so-nice things were said about him by people who knew very little of what actually happened.

We will for sure elaborate further on the reasons at our small group meeting Tuesday night. I don't know if we'll get barragged with questions on Sunday. I'm not quite prepared for that. I know eventually I'll have to sit down with my boss, since he goes to our church, and try to explain. Knowing that that implies my leaving the position I currently have. I'm not planning on telling him anything until we get back from Pennsylvania, and I don't want him finding out before then. However, these things have a way of making it through the grapevine.

In the past, I have always felt like I need to explain everything whenever I make a decision. But the fact is, I don't. It's our life. People don't have the right to have everything laid out on the table. They will say things about you whether they have all the facts or not. Even if you tell them the whole truth, they will go looking for other stuff that isn't even there and not confront you with any of them. The bottom line is that we have a peace about the decision we've made, and no one else has to live with it but us.

Tuesday, March 20-
So things are pretty much set for our trip up north. I’ve been trying to clean a little every day so that when we come back, the house isn’t a total disaster. I would hate coming home to a messy house. I’ve also been staying on top of the laundry. I folded a few piles on Sunday and finished up the rest last night.

We booked Tess for five nights at the doggie daycare place, which is actually called Paradise Luxury Pet Estates. Try not to laugh or balk too much. When we went there on Saturday to check things out, we felt very comfortable with the staff and accommodations. We already knew we did not want her staying in a kennel being cooped up in a tiny cage for most of the day. And kennels are known famously for making dogs sick.

Doggie daycare seemed like the better choice by a mile- it was reasonably priced for all the amenities and nice enough that a human being would want to stay there for a week! They did want Tess to come for a day to see how she’d get along with the other dogs and staff, before we went away. So Gregg took her yesterday for her “trial period". When he went to pick her up, one of the owners said she was skittish at first but soon started playing with the other dogs. She eventually went over to some of the female staff when they called her, but would not come to any of the male workers. No surprise there- we knew she was afraid of men.

They put her in the "easy going room" to socialize and nap with a few other doggies that have a similar temperament. Gregg said that when he went to pick her up that afternoon, they announced him as "Miss Tess's dad". How cute is that? When he got her home, she was wiped out from all that activity and play time. She didn't move from the couch for several hours, and I had to keep checking on her to make sure she was still breathing!

Sunday we weren't asked a whole bunch of questions as I thought we might be. I got some sympathetic, concerned looks from people and "we'll miss you's". I talked briefly with two couples from our small group about what's going on. But that was it. That night as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, I thought back to the first few days after we moved here. Now, a little more than a year later, things are so different. What the heck happened??

I know God is closing this chapter in our lives. But, I am just stunned at how differently we see things regarding CPC from last March. There had been stuff going on all along behind the scenes which just bubbled up to the surface once Pastor Dan resigned. So much more than I care to write about here. Our fear is that if the church continues to go down the path it's on, it will only alienate and push away more people- the exact opposite of what Dan Hendley intended when he left.

I feel like I should say something, something more than just "Oh, it didn't work out". I don't want to look like I'm dragging the church through the mud, or leaving on bad terms though. I feel like the members of our small group could benefit from our insight, to understand what it is about the church at its present state that makes people like us uproot their lives and leave. Gregg wants to keep things all very vague and not step on any toes. I understand that, but then it looks like we have something to hide. It's not about getting the last word in or about proving some sort of point. And we don't want to dredge up every little stinkin' thing either. I just think we should expose the truth and then leave it up to people to decide for themselves.

So it is with heavy hearts that we seek to move on. Our flight leaves Thursday morning, and like I said, I think we're pretty well set for the trip. We checked the weather report so we know what to pack, the house is in order, the dog is taken care of. It should be fun and a little nerve-wracking too, as we determine if this is truly the place where God wants us.

I am more convinced than ever that life is not a series of mountain tops and valleys, but rather a railroad track where you simultaneously experience both good things and bad things. You just never know the places God will take you.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Just Another Day in Paradise

Okay, so I’d be lying if I said I had nothing to talk about. There actually is a lot of stuff going on right now, but I can’t quite get into all of it… yet. Definitely mostly good stuff though.

So instead I will simply write another ho-hum post about my weekend and what interesting things the dog did. Saturday I woke up to find that Gregg had gotten up way before me and started breakfast. He had cooked bacon, eggs and pancakes for us and set the table too. I stumbled into the kitchen wiping the sleep out of my eyes as he poured the last of the batter onto the frying pan. It was such a nice surprise to wake up to!

After we had eaten and cleaned up, we got ready to take advantage of another beautiful, sunny day. We drove around enjoying the weather and stopped at a quaint outdoor shopping plaza. Over lunch we had a nice, long talk about recent events that have taken place in our lives and did some more analyzing of the situation our church is in. I love just getting out of the house and spending time together undistracted. Sigh.

When we came home, I checked email and caught up on some of my favorite blogs before starting dinner. About four hours before going to bed, I remembered we needed to set all our clocks ahead one hour for Daylight Savings Time. We try to get to sleep early on Saturday nights because Gregg has to be up between 5 and 6am on Sundays, so after dinner we squeezed in an episode of The Apprentice and reset the time on all the appliances and the alarm clock before calling it a night.

The next day was a typical Sunday: church, leftovers at home afterwards, lounging around. While I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher after lunch, Gregg decided to whip up a batch of brownies which were a nice treat. He went to watch the Nascar race while they baked, and I used that time to fold the pile of laundry that was threatening to take over our bedroom. I had finished with the laundry and we had sampled a couple of the brownies when Gregg’s parents gave their weekly phone call. His mom is going down to North Carolina this weekend to visit my SIL and her kids since it’s her birthday on Friday, and then she’s going down again two weekends later because Grandparents’ Day is on the 30th at Sam and Alana’s school. We think that’s excessive, but she never needs an excuse to see the grandkids! I told Gregg that his dad probably had to build a shed in the backyard to hold all the stuff she’s bought for the baby Jeff & Liz are expecting.

So that brings me to Monday. With one less hour of sleep the day before and it being, you know, Monday, I struggled through my work day. I was so glad when the clock read 4:30 and I could go home. I’m doing a lot better today thanks to the great prayer time on my ride to work this morning. I’ve been having to leave a few minutes earlier than usual to get to work on time because there’s so much stinkin’ traffic on the roads- I think the city’s population has nearly doubled since we moved here last spring. I made the most of the extra time to pour my heart out to God. I feel I’m not nearly as anxious during the day when I do this.

I also listened to my Jeremy Camp worship album, and was struck by the words in this one song: “Holy Father, burn away my desire for anything that is not of you, and is of me. I want more of you and less of me”. I mean, wow. I prayed that that would become the cry of my heart. I know that God is the only thing that satisfies me and that His ways are best, but so often I get caught up in my dreams, my plans, my desires. Instead of letting Him direct my steps, I take the reigns and try to steer my life in the way I think it should go. Sometimes I need a reminder that God is in control, not me. :)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Can't think of a title...

Things have slowed down considerably at work from last week. It seems like it's either crazy busy or super slooow, never anything in between. My boss also took today off to go fishing, so that makes it extra dead around here.

I feel like I haven't posted in a while (other than the Thursday Thirteen). Even more drama is going on within our church (gosh, is that all I talk about anymore?) Now the ex youth pastor has filed formal charges with the Presbytery against our former senior pastor for his supposed role in the firing, and wrote an 800 page supporting document outlining his complaints. 800 pages??? Is he serious? Because Gregg is on staff, we are privy to this information before the congregation officially hears of it through a letter.

And it was announced Sunday that the session is going ahead with plans for a new building, construction designed to address the serious lack of meeting & office space. On the surface it looks like a great idea. But it isn't all that well thought out. It still fails to put all the staff together in one space so they'll be less fragmented and provide a dedicated sanctuary. Right now the sanctuary is really a gym, which the school uses quite frequently for gym classes and sporting events, making set up for church services and concerts difficult. Gregg needs to spend two hours every Thursday just setting up the stage for Sunday morning. It's yet another case of leadership missing the boat.

Tess has been very good all this time, having free range of the house. But now she's getting into this routine of puking nearly every morning right before Gregg lets her outside to go potty. She'll do it right on our bedroom rug, too. We don't know what she gets so worked up about, or what she's been eating that would cause her to have to heave at exactly 7 am.

In other news, I think we may have finally figured out what type of dog she is. We saw this children's book at Sam's Club on Saturday about dogs and there was one that looked just like her, called a Vizsla (which is Hungarian for... oh, I forget). The shelter originally told us she was a Boxer, but we just weren't buying it because she doesn't have a Boxer face. When we got home, we looked the up the Vizsla breed online and all the characteristics fit Tess perfectly. Sunday we took her to the marsh five minutes from our house and let her run around without a leash. She loved it. We had to give her a bath out in the backyard after that. She stayed still for the entire time, even though she was shivering from the cold water, and passed out on the couch once we had dried her off. It was pretty cute.

Yup, so that's my life- work, church and the dog. Can't get much more exciting than that.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens: Thursday Thirteen #12

So apparently the fabulous T13 is not gone forever- Carol and Beth have taken over for Leanne, much to all of us bloggers' delight. I missed last Thursday due to the insanely busy week I had, but I'm resuming today listing a bunch of my favorite things. I really kinda need a "pick me up" post.

1. God. He's the only thing that remains unchanged and sure in this ever changing, crazy world. He is my peace and joy, even in the midst of some very difficult times.
2. My husband, who is my best friend and loves everything about me.
3. All the sights and smells of Fall (which I don't get to experience living here in Florida, considering it stays pretty green throughout the year and the heat & humidity stick around through the middle of October).
4. Coffee. And all the yummy creamers that you can put in it.
5. Worship music- it can snap me out of any funk that I'm in. My current favorite is "Atmosphere" by Andy Chrisman.
6. Sunflowers. They're so bright and cheery.
7. Time spent with friends over dinner and dessert.
8. Leaving the windows open in the house to let fresh air into all the rooms.
9. Sleeping in on Saturday mornings.
10. Clothes that have just come out of the dryer.
11. Soft, snuggly blankets.
12. Going out to dinner with Gregg.
13. Receiving emails and comments on my blog from friends.

"I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so bad".

Friday, March 02, 2007

Even Through the Valleys

Since my doctor's appointment on Tuesday, I am feeling much better. The antibiotics seem to be working their magic. Things at work have finally settled down to the point of being manageable. I am so ready for the weekend, though.

All the turmoil going on with our church has prompted Gregg and I to have a lot of deep conversations lately. We've looked at everything from all different angles and peeled back the layers of the onion. One thing that has been really bothering both of us is the apathy we see. When Pastor Dan resigned back in October, he cited stagnant growth as one of the reasons he was leaving. The church had not grown numerically under his leadership for the past ten years, though we are located in one of the fastest growing communities in Florida. People's responses to that were kind of like, so what? They'd rather have him back as their pastor and experience no growth, than lose him and have growth.

We were certainly sad to see him go, but anticipated that it would give the church the breath of life and vision it needed. However, even with Pastor Dan gone there is very little desire to grow or go deeper. It makes sense though- he practically founded and then pastored the church for 25 years. Old habits die hard. Having him absent these past four months has really given us an accurate gage of the spiritual climate that exists among the congregation, and it's disturbing. We've talked with some other members who are seeing the same thing and are heartbroken over it. They're weary and losing faith in the leadership.

There is a great new song on my favorite Christian radio station by Third Day called "Mountaintop" (I think). It reminds me that, as the song goes, "I must go through the valley to stand upon the mountain of God". I know that God is here with me through this and will bring about His good purpose.