Thursday, December 23, 2004

A Sea Of Boxes

Jasper Speaks:

So I am sitting in my office surrounded by the last five years of my life in about 20 boxes. I am listening to the loud sounds of our youth group's garage band as they practice in the worship center. WOW. Slowly the harsh reality that this is really happening is coming over me. Our home looks like a cardboard box factory as well.

Today the cable guy came and took away our modem and turned our cable (broadcast channels only though it was) off. My thought when I opened the door to hand him the modem was, "you can pry this from my dead, cold hands!" Still, he took it and now I only have access to the net in the office. It really doesn't seem much like my office anymore. Most of the personality is packed away. My office has been known as the highlight of the 50 cent tour of the church. Filled with toys from Star Wars, Veggie Tales, Disney, The Flintstones and my prized Pez Dispenser collection, children of all ages loved to stop by to look around. Now it is just bleak and stark white. The only remnants are the Toy Story 2 Ball I am leaving for the nursery and a stuffed Bob the Tomato and Larry The Cucumber sticking out of a box that is waiting to be taped shut sitting across from my desk.

Tonight is our very last TNT and this is most likely my last post until we get home to St. Louis and eventually get back online. I hate that this is the end of the road. Even if it is only for a season, my heart aches that I am leaving youth ministry. Oh well, God has sanctioned this and there is no changing that. I am prepared for a lot of tears (mostly my own) after we all go carolling tonight. Please pray for us as we travel across the country starting on Sunday afternoon. For those of you walking in a similar journey (and you know who you are), I am praying for God's best for you. Thanks for coming along side.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

God Is Good

Jasper Speaks:

So much of what I have had to say over the past few weeks has been negative and self serving. Tonight I want to share with you an awesome way God has shown us His love. Tonight was the last night for me to lead Homefires, our youth ministry's small group program. I have a group of five guys who meet every Tuesday night at my house for Bible study. We have had a guy's group the whole time we have been here. It started with three guys God led me to invite to be a part of a cell group when I first got here. That group added a fourth after three years and then last spring we opened it up to all the senior high guys and we had about eight. There were times that the Bible study was really good and lots of times it was just a bonding time and not a lot of God's business ever seemed to get done. Last year the original three guys graduated. I didn't know if the group would continue.

This fall however, the best part of being here has been Homfires for me. We have been using Doug Fields' Life Together series and it has been phenomenal! The guys have been growing and opening up and I have loved every minute of it. The hardest part of my leaving here was the thought of leaving these guys behind. This week another male youth leader stepped up and will be taking the study over when I leave. He is very competent. He came for the first time tonight. Tonight was the best Homefires we have ever had.

One of the guy's in our group's name is Jamin. He is a great kid. He is a lot of fun to be around and I love him a lot. He plays the role of the clown and the dumb guy but has a very deep intellect and is a critical thinker at heart. I have really seen this through Homefires this fall.

I just thought I would share with you the exciting news from Homefires tonight. The guy's group has been doing a study called Surrendering:Giving Up Your Life For Christ. As we discussed the lesson this evening, Jamin opened up about concerns about his salvation. It was incredible to watch the guys of the group rally around him with love and support. Jason (the other leader) had great words to share with him about struggles he has had in the past as well. As we continued talking, Jamin decided that he wanted to sincerely pray and ask God to take control of his life. We prayed together and he ask Christ into His life! He was visibly changed. He was excited that he could know for sure that he had salvation and was very happy to have the assurance of salvation. I am humbled that God allowed me to be a part of this and it is incredible to see how God used the closeness that comes from small group ministries to allow Jamin to be transparent with us! I am so excited!

It is also amazing to me that God would show me that He uses us right up until the calling is fulfilled. I leave this ministry Sunday afternoon and on the Tuesday before He was gracious enough to allow me to lead an incredible kid to Him. Even though I have been griping and complaining for three weeks, He allowed me to be a part of this moment. WOW! I must say I never had questioned our decision to leave quite as much as during the closing prayer of Homefires tonight. Still, I know God has a plan and tonight He allowed me to be a part of it. I thank Him for that opportunity. I pray that this post will be an encouragement to my fellow brothers who I know are going through this same difficult process right now. God will continue to use us. That is an amazing thing. Tonight He brought me to a place of remembrance that this is all about Him and not about me. I still don't know why He is calling me away but as I sit here in front of my computer with a huge smile I rest assured in the fact that the angels are rejoicing as I type. God is good even when we doubt.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Just A Few More Days

Jasper Speaks:

So, last night was our big goodbye service. There were about 150 people or so there. It was a little anti-climatic but overall it was very good. The people in charge of it are dear friends who really kept it moving and organized. There were more laughs than tears and that was the way I would have wanted it to be. I only got really choked up a couple of times.

Today has been spent changing out my email address and getting things ready to transfer over the youth website. I also have been making checklists for the leaders of all the things that go into making an event happen. Tomorrow I start packing up my things in the office. It is hard to believe this part of my life is over.

Of course it snowed here today reminding me again of why I want to be gone from this state. I was sad because it was bad enough that I had to cancel my guy's small group. We will meet tomorrow night instead.

I am just a big box of mixed emotions. There have been moments of second guessing our decision lately. But we have to stay firm. I just hate it. I wish I knew why God allowed things to happen this way and I wish I knew what is coming next. I am not much in the mood to trust but know I have no choice.

Our house is a huge series of boxes. Here we move again. We have been married 5 years and this will be our sixth move. It seems as though there will be a seventh before our sixth anniversary as well. At least we hope so!

I unsubscribed to the YouthPastor.com listserve today. It is sad becaus eI have been a member of that listserve for about seven years. It is another door closing.

We spent the last two weeks scrapbooking on and off our pictures from here. In the end we scrapped on about six or so days. We did 100 pages of pictures in that time. It is a bit overwhelming. I know we are going to be so happy we did it though. Funny how four and a half years of your life can fit on 100 pages though. I know we will look back at them and laugh and cry as remember all the good things God has allowed us to be a part of here.

Well I am getting more depressed than I want to be at the moment. Please pray that we find jobs quickly. In a few days we will not be in computer contact for awhile. I don't know what the situation is going to be at my parent's house with the computer just yet. We'll see. If I am not on for awhile you will know why. I am going to try and blog everyday until we leave but that can be a challenge. Thanks for your prayers and comments.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

My Life

Jasper Speaks:

We had a lovely weekend in Boston with our friends Bob and Jen. We saw The Polar Express on the IMAX in 3-D and it was amazing! What a great movie and what a great way to see it. We also got to eat at Cracker Barrel on the way home. That is "our place" with Bob and Jen so it was nice to go there with them one last time before we move.

We finished all our scrapbooking tonight. Actually I just got done with the last page. We have scrapped 98 pages in about two weeks. WOW! It was so much work. We will be taking them with us to our Hollis Center Funeral (our goodbye service) tomorrow night. I hope people appreciate all the hard work it took to get them together. If I weren't so tired I would probably be sad looking back at all the pictures. But that time will come. I know it will.

We also had dinner with our friend's the Waterson's tonight. Amy fixed a great turkey dinner and it was just like Thanksgiving. We will miss this family. The kids are like our neices and nephew. We have done a lot with them and love them all very much.

Please, if you read this before Sunday evening (the 19th), lift Kendra and I up in your prayers. We will be having the goodbye service at 6PM EST and we are bot sure what to expect. It could be a very emotional evening for us.

Thanks for those of you who have responded to my posts as of late. You are a great encouragement! My e-mail is not registering your e-mail address when you post in the comments but please know they are being read and appreciated. Thank you!