Moments for a lifetime
I didn’t think I would be writing this farewell again so soon, but life happens differently than we expect and God has called you away from Fullerton Free Staff. In one sense, I could say the same things as I did 4 years ago all over again and it would still apply (see below). However, that would imply that I had nothing else I could say to you! These are obviously not the last words I will say to you, nor is it really goodbye. It is a bittersweet ending to our time on the same staff together. I knew this day would come eventually and I am so excited to see what God has for you next!
Ministry is moments. That trip to Hume Lake with flies in the van and screaming girls is just a moment. Watching the sunset on the sea of Galilee is a moment. Driving to Bakersfield in 109 degree heat is a moment. Having tea and scones while watching the finale of Downton Abbey is just a moment. Cleaning up after activities and praying together for students and colleagues are moments. The baseball games are just moments. Sitting in an emergency waiting room is a moment. The time spent with friends singing in worship is a moment. Every up and every down and all the times in between are moments that pass with time. Some are remembered and some are not. But my point is that what we remember best is the people with whom we spent these moments, the ministry we shared and the way we felt.
As I reflect on some of our shared moments I will always remember the way you laugh contagiously, the tears we have shed, the powerful things God has done in and through the ministry given you here and the incredible friendship created that will last a lifetime.
All these moments combine together to make up life! Further, in light of all of eternity this life is just a moment. Moments here will end but life as friends will go on forever! (Cue the MW Smith classic song)
One day we will rewind time and look back with fondness all the past moments we have known together and some memories yet to be made. In the meantime, as I told you briefly about my reflection as I watched the Olympics…
We watch the beautiful moments of sports in slow motion, reliving the victorious team, an amazing catch, a safe slide to home plate or a gold medal stretch to the pool wall. Rewinding a spectacular play to watch something over again- even though it has already happened and been seen in real time – is a great advantage of modern technology. It isn’t that the event is unknown; it is known, but we want to savor and enjoy such moments frame by frame. I want to always remember to rewind and watch in slow motion God’s actions and promises in our lives. In doing so I relive His goodness, joyfully grateful for the privilege of witnessing the original moments! Some of those glorious moments I rewind in my memories are of the things we have witnessed together. May God get all the credit!
It has been my honor to work with you and to watch you blossom and grow in ministry. I’ve learned so much more about Jesus as you joyfully reflect Him daily with all those around you. I know God is not done and the best is yet to come. Wherever you find yourself know that I will be watching and praying blessings over you from my corner of the world. It has been a privilege and the highlight of my work life to have so many rewindable and praiseworthy moments! You have been dependable, supportive, encouraging, godly and real.
I look forward to more moments and know that because I know you I laugh a bit easier and more quickly, hug a little tighter, smile a lot more broadly, love more deeply, care more fiercely, live more thankfully.
Your friend always,
Kelsey’s Goodbye Farewell Amen
These past four years have been good, but way too fast! I wish I had more time to compose my thoughts, but as I realize even if I had time, it would still not be any easier! I hate this part of my “job”. There really is no easy way to say goodbye to you. I am reminded of the last episode of the TV show M*A*S*H, where this mobile army surgical hospital gets the long anticipated good news that the “war” (police action) is over and they are all going home. The doctors and other army personnel are excited until they all realize that going home means saying goodbye to the community they have created in war torn Korea. B.J. Honeycutt can’t bring himself to say farewell to Hawkeye because it has such a sense of finality and he cannot wrap his mind around the reality that he will have to live without the daily friendship he has enjoyed for the last few years. Right now I can relate to BJ and his sadness and reluctance to utter those two words that acknowledge the end of a working relationship and setting that has shaped the high school ministry of EvFree HSM and my life too. Kels, I don’t really want to learn to live without your presence in my daily life and rhythm.
Goodbyes are hard. This one feels even harder for me! I love the story of Elijah and Elisha’s friendship and hard goodbye. Elijah, the mentor, is being taken to heaven in a fiery chariot and Elisha, the younger prophet, is refusing to leave and stop calling after him. While I do not want to imply that we are even close to being compared with these two (although I might argue the point that you have done miracles) and this actually the reverse of our story, as I am not the younger and you are not being swept up into heaven, still, there are similarities to us and that story. Elijah and Elisha were partners in ministry, one adopting the other just as we have claimed each other! (You will always be “my daughter”). These two traveled together and shared adventures. They cared about each other. They saw and felt God work in mighty ways. Goodbye was hard for them because ministry had been so good. Yet God is faithful even in the midst of hard goodbyes.
By God’s grace our stories have intersected for the past four years as we have grown together, learned and ministered together and as we have seen God’s hand at work. Sometimes you have been the teacher and sometimes the learner. On a side note, I do think you have given more to this place than we could collectively ever give back. You invited. You welcomed. You listened. You taught. You shared. You laughed and played. You ministered. You were vulnerable with some of the inner and fragile moments of your life. You prayed with and for so many (me) et al. Even though I know that some of this will not change just because you are not coming to this office every day, I do believe with all my heart that even though this goodbye is hard, it is full of hope. Although your job as a girl’s director is over, your ministry will go on and the stories and the history that include you will become part of the legacy that is student ministries at this church. It will continue to encourage and inform what we do here. It will linger as a fragrant aroma for a long time. Additionally, flames will flicker in the hearts of many. As we entrust your next steps to the Lord’s care, I am confident that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.
It was a long time ago that the two words “GOOD BYE” were shortened from the phrase “God be with you.” Many use it to mean “the end” but that is not what it really signifies. Instead it really is a word of blessing and hope. Every now and again the traces of the original meaning of God be with you come through.
So, Kelsey, for me goodbye means God be with you as you listen to what God has for you for the next chapter of your life and the ones after that! God is crafting an amazing and surprising story of grace and joyful hope through your life. I am one of the fortunate ones who was included in one sweet chapter! And I am reminded of God’s incredible presence in our lives over the past four years together. Those adventures have included laughter, tears, meals, tea parties, baptisms, more than one lake, trips to the ER, studies, travels, meetings to name a few. Those glimmers of God’s presence have shaped and will continue to define us both as well as forever connect us.
Goodbye means God be with you as you continue to grow in grace and knowledge of the Holy One (Eph. 1:15ff).
Goodbye means God be with you as you advance the kingdom and remain trustworthy with the keys to the Kingdom (Luke 16:10, Matt. 16:9)
Goodbye means God be with you as you embrace holiness and grow roots deep (Jer. 17:7,8)
Goodbye means God be with you as you are leading a life worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him and bearing fruit.
Goodbye is a prayer. A benediction. Wherever you are and wherever you go God’s Spirit accompanies you. God be with you.
AA Milne wrote, “If ever there is a tomorrow when we’re not together…there is something you must always remember: You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we are apart…I’ll always be with you.”
Jesus said the same thing as He left planet earth for heaven, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Kelsey, I say Goodbye//God be with you, God go with you. Goodbye. Farewell. Amen.
I love you.
With great admiration and joy,
PS I want to be like you
PPS I will miss your handwriting as much as your laugh!