The End of a Season

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Tomorrow we say goodbye to our Pastor and His wife, Karmen. As a congregation, this will be a hard day. They are beloved, have been a great blessing, and are a tremendous source of godly example for us. I have talked to people who have stamped this pastor and his wife in their hearts as “the best pastors I have ever had!” which, for many who would agree, this means we are losing something really really good. Nevertheless the end of a season is here.

In this blog, I am going to unpack some things I have been thinking surrounding this situation. I am also going to add the things I have learned through this couple. I find it noteworthy to blog about and something I hope to look back on from time to time. I have a unique situation with this couple. My daughter married their son, so for me, they are not going all that far. They are family. But for others, well, this is the end of weekly visiting. I think the hard part of this situation is that for some, the presence of this couple was the enjoyment of circumstance. I recently heard that we need to pay attention to, “what is a friend?” and “what is an acquaintance?” and not to get those two things mixed up. When we substitute acquaintance for a friend, then the circumstances change, shifting people out of our daily setting. We realize real fast what the difference between these two words is. One is a relationship that continues, and the other is a relationship of circumstance. After 7 years, I know that this couple is worth the effort of friendship. I love them and I will miss them in my daily dearly. I am thankful that the Lord was so led to put our two families together.

I remember clearly the impressions that these two left on me when they were candidates for the pastorate for my church. I was a council member then and the unlikely youth leader at the time. The first time I met Karmen, her warm heart and kindness glowed. She was inviting and vibrant with her beautiful smile and eyes. The love of Christ radiated from her as she met, hugged, and greeted the leadership team. Lynn was a joyful man, full of Christlike presence. He was humble and kind. Lynn took the time to listen carefully as he was asked questions about his life and history in church planting. You could see that he took a moment to think before he spoke. I sensed that Lynn was respectable and full of passion. He reminded me of my first pastor, who was a fiery preacher. I liked them immediately. Sometimes, you know when something is going to be good. They were good, and I knew good things were coming for our church. That’s realness!

I remember going to their home, the parsonage, for a meeting. Karmen made coffee and offered me a blanket in the drafty house. She could see that was not enough for this previous California girl living in the heartland in winter. So she pulled over a small foot heater. Pastor Lynn sat down across from me and asked me how things were going in the youth department. I was ready to hand that thing over to someone who could run it so that I could go back to administrations for the leader. He asked me not to jump ship and began to ask me questions that made me realize that I lacked finding my own God vision for the ministry. It dawned on me that I had been running on the last leader’s way of doing things. That realization through his simple questions and listening cause my heart to begin to dream about what God could do! That’s leadership!

As I walked alongside him, learning from him, and watching his every move. I saw how he used humor to defuse tense situations. Most of my most frustrated moments where when I was being serious and he was joking. But after a while, his jokester ways taught me that I can’t take myself so seriously and I must learn to enjoy the journey. I learned to smile more and lighten up. I stopped wearing my serious and rather angry eyebrows everyday. He would say, “the joy of the Lord is our strength and the anger of man does not bring about the righteousness of God.” Does this mean that I am a jokester? No, no I am not. My jokes often fall flat but I am able to let go alot easier than ever before and I laugh at myself more. That’s growth!

As I walked alongside Karmen, she taught me to honor my husband. I remember one time when I was frustrated with him. It was the first time I went to her and said something about it. Her response was everything. I can’t remember the exact sentence. She said something to reminded me of who I was in Christ. She pointed out that she was sure it was not my intention to speak unkindly of my husband. She reminded me to think the best of him. She asked if she could pray with me. I said, “yes.” She prayed, and I learned. I learned that as a woman of God would not be approached this way, nor would she be roped into these type of husband conversations. She lead by example and I can tell you that the result of walking alongside her has been a holy turnaround in my marriage, and the way I handle difficulty. That’s training!

I do have story after story and after story of how they taught me in everything from raising kids to handling conflict. I had the privilege of being alongside in many meetings and roundtable discussions. I was able to overhear conversations and watch love on display. They lived honoring and serving better than anyone I know. They have been a gift to the church. They have planted many truths in my heart that are still growing and developing. I was just an unlikely youth leader when they came, but due to the credit of their leadership, they were able to mine from within me the good stuff God put in me. I used it for the Lord’s glory. I built teams and taught teens. I heeded the call of ministry and put in the work to get my ministry license. I restructured ministries and built systems to help serve people better. I served, worked long hours, and prayed more than ever. It has been a wild 7-year ride of watching God work and do things in and through me that I didn’t know was possible, nor did I think I was capable. But here I am by the grace of God. That’s discipling!

I love Pastor Lynn and Karmen. I will miss them in my daily church life. I am sure many will also.

I hope tomorrow is a blessing to them. I know he doesnt like a lot of fuss and I am sure she will cry alot but I hope he will endure a little so that we can honor them and release them to their next .

Romans 13:7 ….honor to whom honor is due.

Thanks for Listening,

Starla

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.

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