Dear Madison, Matt, Brian, Christian & Tyler,
It was roughly ten years ago, when most of you walked into my life. You were third graders who began attending our summer Breaktime program. You guys were a mixture of silly, strange, lacking in self esteem, and having too much self esteem. You made me laugh, and drove me nuts. I never would have guessed that we would have been on a journey together for all these years.
Most of the kids who attend our ministries are around for a couple years, but then move away and we don’t see them again. There have been few kids to break that mold, but you guys did. I got to invest in your lives as you moved through Breaktime, and joined EMS and GEMS. I was thrilled when you joined the Bakery and were a major part of helping that ministry become what it is today. I was excited when some of you braved the transition to the Urban Farm and helped us develop a brand new ministry.
I still think about all the crazy stuff you guys would do over the years. Brian would ALWAYS talk about Pentwater. Tyler would always talk about hunting and fishing. Brian and Tyler developed an incredible Bakery Jingle. Christian would run around taking responsibility for every good thing that happened in the Bakery. Madison was responsible for inventing Chocolate Chip Bombs, when one day she accidentally made them with four cups of chocolate chips, and they didn’t spread out. Matt played Minecraft before anyone knew what it was!
Madison, Christian & Brian, the summer you spent as LITES (Leaders In Training Entourage, a term you coined), nearly drove me insane. That summer you followed me everywhere. Your day ended at 2:00PM, but you would stick around to go to the grocery store and interrupt every other aspect of my work. The truth is, I loved it.
You five have challenged me over the years, at least as much as I have challenged you. We’ve spent 10 years together, and you have become a significant part of my life. I cheer at your accomplishments. I weep when life is beating you up. I pray for you often and regularly wonder what God is doing in your lives. Its not one way though. There have been countless times you have encouraged me over the years. One of my favorite Christmas presents is pictured below. It still sits on a shelf in my office today.
I’ve been a little depressed lately, and today I realized it was because of you five
kids adults. You are all graduating from High School and I now have to say goodbye to you all, who have become like kids to me. Some of you are going away for college, others are staying in Grand Rapids, and the fact is, I have to let you go. Sorry for being over dramatic, but you’ve spent 10 years with me, you know this is how I am.
Thank you for being a part of my life. Thank you for letting me be a part of yours. As you graduate from High School, I want you to know that I will never stop praying for you. I will never stop encouraging you. You may no longer be stuck in NCN’s ministries, but you are stuck with me for a long time. I know I am not alone in saying that I can’t wait to see what God does with your life. You all have so much potential, and so many God given gifts. Use them to glorify God. Never stop pursuing Jesus. And remember that Jesus will never stop pursuing you.
Goodbye for now.
P.S. The young bloods in the Bakery and Farm are going to need someone to correct and challenge them from time to time. Don’t be afraid to stop by and encourage them. For as much as you have been a part of the past of NCN, we’re counting on you to be a part of the future! Come back and love the children of this community, and be a role model for them. Come back and take my job… if you dare.