First, a little thanks to Dewaine Cooper for giving me a shout out in his post about Gratitude Day. Man, I really appreciate your friendship and your heart for God's Kingdom.
So, sometime last week was Gratitude Day and I just wanted to express my gratitude to some of the people who have helped to mold me into the person that I am... and am becoming.
1. God - About three weeks ago I had an experience with God that made me feel as though I got saved all over again. My fresh times with Him, just sitting in His presence, soaking up His word has been wonderful. Thank you God, for being the patient, kind, and caring King that you are.
2. Stephanie - I married the most incredible person on the planet. Not only does she go out of her way to make my life easier but she is absolutely a wonderful mom to our two boys. She is not only my best friend but my co-laborer in the Kingdom. She cares as much about Restoration Ministries as I do (and that's saying a LOT). She has sacrificed more than she should ever have too. She gives more than she probably should. And she does so much more than I could ever expect. And to top all of that off... SHE IS BEAUTIFUL!!!! I married WAY up! I love you babe, more than I could ever express in mere words. You are my world.
3. Micah and Aiden - you may ask, "How have your kids molded you into who you are?" Everyday I get to experience, in a small way, the love that our Father extends toward us. In understanding how patient I can be with them, and how much they bring me joy, I now more fully understand the way God looks at us. This has helped me become less anal about a lot of things, more compassionate towards peoples failures and shortcomings, and more loving in general. I love you two more than you possibly ever know and will try my best to steward the time God has given me with you well. You WILL become who God's designed you to be.
My family - Mom, Dad, Bertie, Kim, Josh, Megan and Steven... I love you all. What you all have taught me through our relationships, and your examples have each contributed to who I have become. We may not see each other as much as we would like but you are all my foundation. (And it is a good one!)
Adam and Lori - You guys have been there with us for the last seven years. You have seen us at our worst and you still loved us. We have had some great moments... we have had some pretty bad times... and yet we seem to make it through them all. You know our strengths and our weaknesses and you still submit to us as your pastors. We can go on trips and acts absolutely stupid together (Sid the Sloth...) and we can talk ministry on a serious level. We have had and have many friends but you move beyond the friend level to family. We love you guys and can't wait to see what God has planned for us all... and for you!
Our Staff - Elder Gloriadean, Mrs. Pat, Pastor Z, Pastors Coop and Ragan... You guys make ministry fun! We love you all more than you will probably ever know. Your hard work and sacrifice cannot be matched and doesn't go unnoticed. You help us process ideas, push for excellence, and manage what God is doing at RM. We love you all!
Pastors Tim & Kim Hodge - What can I say? You guys have been spiritual parents like no other! You have laughed with us, cried with us, loved us when others would have turned their backs, and corrected us when needed. You have cared for us (even when Stephanie played Dodgeball in the hall...) and just been there when we needed you. You provide sound leadership and advise or just an ear to hear our frustrations. In short, you guys believed in us... You believed in us enough to bring us on staff with you to care for your people with you. You believed in us enough to turn the leadership of RM over to us when your time had come to an end. You believed in us... even when we didn't. Thanks for seeing beyond our immaturity and failures. Thanks for being an example of what it means to love unconditionally.
Apostles Ron & Hope Carpenter - Apostle Ron, you caught me on a bad day at Emmanuel College and you were able to look beyond that and see the gift underneath all of the hurt. Your example and oversight are worth the world to me. Your humility convicts me. But it was the times that I was able to see you behind the scenes... praying over Greenville as we flew in, studying and answering my (probably stupid) questions on preaching trips. It was the small things that have meant the most for me. Apostle Hope - I am grateful that you helped us to understand that we can just be real. We don't have to put on facades. We can just be us. I am grateful for you guys believing in us enough to send us to plant a church or even having on staff at RWOC but the personal times have been the most impacting. No matter what others may say of you guys I know your hearts. And your hearts are what we love the most.
Restoration Ministries - Man, what can I say? When our pastor and founder felt called to Columbia and he placed you in the hands of this young couple that you had only known for a couple of years (Well, other than the fact that my wife grew up in RM), you guys embraced us and the call on our lives. You, not once, expected us to be something we are not and you allowed us, and continue to allow us, to be who we are and to do what we are called to do. You have embraced our strengths and victories. You have even embraced us through our weaknesses and failures. RM, you are the most real group of people I've ever come into contact with. We love you more than we ever thought was possible. And we are enjoying the journey as we watch as God molds us into the beautiful vessel that He is desiring us to be. Thank you guys for who you are. We love You!
Well, if I missed anyone, it was not intentional. I am truly grateful for all of the relationships that have been and continue to be in our lives. I have much to be thankful for.