Last night we told our kids that we were leaving them because David has taken another job somewhere. It was such a hard thing to do, like telling your young son or daughter that you're sorry, but you just can't raise them anymore, and that they will have to go and live in a foster home in Portland, and they can't take their pet hamster, and you're sorry but this is just the way it has to be. What's so painful about it is that they really are *our* kids. We have spent the last two years pouring ourselves into them, and they have opened up like little flowers and have been so dear and trusting and accepting of us. To many we've been like second parents to them, and we'd adopt any one of them without reservation. We love these kids so very, very much.

This is obviously a part of being in ministry that we haven't had to learn to do yet, and I'm not sure it ever gets any easier. When God tells you to go and opens up all the right paths for your journey, you don't argue. But leaving behind such precious faces, full of hope and life and love, is a gut-wrenching struggle they can't prepare you for in even the best seminaries or training schools.

I know, beyond all doubt, that God is taking us to a new church, a new leg of the journey that we began two years ago. The circumstances surrounding this are too obviously God-ordained.

I was at work one day when a well-known San Antonio pastor, who recently had retired from one of the largest churches in the city, came in to buy a set of reference books. Asserting my managerial privileges, I gave him a discount since he was spending so much on these books. We began talking, and I mentioned that my husband was a youth pastor in Pipe Creek. He immediately brightened and said, "I've heard about your husband and the youth group there in Pipe Creek. I've heard great things about what he's doing there." He mentioned to me that had come out of retirement and was pastoring a church in Kerrville and was in need of a good youth pastor, wink, wink. I smiled and waved him off, saying, "Well, I'm sure God will lead you to the right guy." He thanked me for the discount and we parted ways.

But he kept coming in and asking me if David was ready to be his youth pastor yet, and each time, I'd play along and say, Oh sure! We'll be right over, and we'd chuckle, and he'd buy books and leave.

Then one day he came in with his business card, and handed it to me, and, with a serious look in his eye, said, "I'm here specifically to see you. Tell your husband to call me. I really do need a youth pastor." I gulped, and said, "Okay," knowing that this was different, and that this was probably right. Sometimes you just know when God is beginning to make things shift a little off your center of gravity.

I took David the card, and he immediately said, "This is so far-fetched. I don't want a new job. I don't want to leave my kids. I'm happy here in Pipe Creek." But we have also learned that with God you have to be open to any possibility, and so he agreed to pray about it.

And so we prayed and fasted and prayed some more. We talked with people around us who we trust to give us objective and wise counsel. They all heartily encouraged us to explore the possibility, and said that it sounded like the right thing for us.

Last Tuesday a formal offer was made, not only to David, but to me as well; David as youth pastor, me as media coordinator for the church and assistant to the pastor, who is a writer, and who wants me to assist him in his book-writing. And we have this fabulous opportunity to work under, and be mentored by, this incredible man of God who has 50 years of experience and is well-respected by people all over the world. We prayed and fasted some more. The answer came: it's time to go.

And so, last night, we dropped the bomb on our kids. We all cried. Hard. We hugged. We prayed. Some are hurt, some are just sad, some are angry. This isn't easy. I hate this. I know that God is going to take care of them, but half of me -- actually, most of me -- keeps screaming, "But what about all the fun we've had? What about the growing and discipling they still want and need?" They're so fragile and my heart is breaking, knowing that we're hurting them by leaving. Many of them have had histories of abandonment by parents and other important people, and I know how they feel, and I don't want to be another adult who has left them. But in the end, I know that God is sovereign, and that He knows what He's doing, and He has a plan for them as well. And we are not going to stop loving them just because we're moving churches. They will always be our kids. We will continue to be available to love them and watch them grow.

I believe that this is a good thing for all of us. David and I have a wonderful opportunity ahead of us, and I believe that our kids do as well. Barbara, my comanager at work, said that if we were to stay with our kids, we would be blocking the way for the next person who is supposed to come in and love them like we have, probably better than we ever could. I just have to trust that God is going to give them someone amazing. I know He will.


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