Thanksgiving-November 24, 2019
Beloved Mars Hill Church Family
How very quickly the time has passed since that Saturday morning in 1991 when a group of men arrived at Victoria Drive in Decatur to move our family to Lawrenceburg, TN. Cindy and I can still remember the tremendous excitement mixed with a bit of anxiousness that permeated our hearts. As we pulled out of that driveway for Lawrenceburg we had no idea of the great blessings of God that awaited us and our family.
The Apostle Paul wrote with great love and affection these verses to the church at Philippi, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3-5). Dear church family it is with that same great love and deepest affection that Cindy, Arleigh, Daniel and myself pen our closing words to you on this our final day as your Senior Pastor and his family.
Please hear and receive these words from all of our hearts:
First of all let me say how blessed I have been to be part of Mars Hill Baptist Church (MHBC). I would like to thank each of your for your acceptance and care over the last 28 years. You are my family and I love each of you. Each of you have impacted my life, Mick’s, my children, and my grandchildren in so many ways.
As I have reflected on the last 28 years I can truly say I have laughed, cried, and said a few “Oh dear Me’s!” I have been touched by friendships (long lasting), hugs, cards, texts, smiles, tears, prayers, books, and shared memories. I have been allowed to be part of a Sunday School and to teach a Sunday School class. I have been allowed to be Cindy or as some say “Miss Cindy”, a person who is still being molded and shaped by the Master, a person who has made mistakes but has been loved through them.
I have such fond memories of Christmas plays, where I seemed to always have played the role of the Grandma ( I guess the white hair!), youth plays: Ben Spry being adorned as a Christmas tree and “Let’s Go to the Rock”-with such talented youth that we got a premier at Summertown High School, card games (first month or so here, paired with Tony Cheatwood who always won, I was not good so I had a lot of fear and trembling), fellowships-I can remember our first fellowship in the old fellowship hall. I began to be a little concerned when I noticed all the armed officers among the tables: Tommy White, Tina Wisdom Faulkner, Jarvivs Curtis, etc.; the many lady trips and retreats. I do not think Joe Wheeler or Double Head was ever the same after we left. Such sweet memories of Jennifer Spry leading us in our study on Esther and Mrs. Hulsey leading us in a devotion, cooking spaghetti till it ran out of our ears and breakfast out on the porch frying ba-con. The real shocker came when Shirley Monroe looked at me and said, “I did not realize you can have fun too!”, remember our Sunday School fellowship, Young Adults, with our poodle skirts, our DJ, those pictures! Thanks Jan and Neil Phillips. Mick and I were a pair! I remember all those Youth trips to Gatlinburg and the one hospital run when one of our young men didn’t see the sliding glass door was shut and went right through the glass. Thankfully a few stitches later and onto the concert. The bonfires at Paul and Ruth’s and the Bonner’s. I think I had my first smores at one of those.
I remember many basketball trips with Arleigh and Daniel. Such good friends and such good fellow-ship. Friendships made and created for a lifetime. Such good memories, laughs and cries! So many true sup-
There were so many times of fun but along the journey there have been times of sorrow. I will never forget and will always cherish a Deacon body and a few other men traveling to Town Creek and anointing and praying over my Daddy when he found out he had cancer. Wow! What love shown and support at such a dif-ficult time. Thank you Lord for healing my Daddy and allowing him to enter heaven with You! I can remem-ber at the visitation I walked out of the room to see a sea of our Senior Adults awaiting to love on me and pro-vide much needed hugs. I treasured each of them! I, too can remember two dear ladies, Lynn Duke and Pam McCune sending meals every Tuesday to Town Creek. How my mother was blessed by these ladies and their Sunday School class.
I have loved teaching Sunday School. I have been blessed now having some children of those first Youth that I had at the very beginning. Wow that is truly a God thing! I have enjoyed the young men and women who have allowed me to pray with them, cry with them, and love on them. I truly believe my life is much richer because of our relationships and the impact you have had on my life.
I remember a church family that has prayed earnestly for the healing of my daughter and her ACL, my son and his eating disorder, and my husband and his encounter with cancer. What would I have done without each of you Church Family? Church Family, to some they have no understanding of what these two words mean or the significance of them, the depth of love and connection, the sharing of Christ’s love. I understand and have experienced it. Our church family has been truly blessed of God. God has poured out His blessings and I pray will continue to pour out His blessings on us. I do believe my Daddy was correct when he said to me, “You have got a good one!” Church Family you are a blessing. Thank you Lord! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
All my love,
Where do I start? I am so very thankful to have grown up at MHBC. I look back and remember, and I am thankful. I remember Wednesday afternoons going home from school with different church members and playing until they brought my brother and me to church. I remember GA’s, Mission Friends, Sunday School classes and all the many teachers who took the time to prepare and to love on my friends and me. I remember playing in the older church that was the new youth building at that time. I remember singing my heart out with my friends during Wednesday night services while in the youth group. I remember deacons and church members coming to pray and be with our family when my PawPaw died. I remember being prayed over as I tried to recover from my knee injury in college. I remember church members traveling far and wide to support me as I played ball. I remember church members praying for me as I waited for a spouse. I remember church members being present at my wedding and waiting in the hospital as my boys were being born. I remember an entire church praying for my dad to be healed. I remember and I AM SO VERY THANKFUL!
I am thankful to have grown up here. I am thankful that I am still given opportunities to grow, learn, to serve, and to live life alongside of the people of MHBC. Tifton, as most children, is often trying to figure out the differences in family and friends. He will often say “Mama, but they are our church family”. I am so thankful that he already understands what it means to have church family. Thank you for being my church family and for now allowing McClane and myself as well as our children to be a part of your family!
To serve MHBC these last 28 years as a Pastor’s child has been quite the roller coaster ride. We have experienced many ups and downs, highs and lows, good and bad times, but most importantly, a family has been forged. This family has been involved in witnessing and participating in some of the happiest moments of my life: my salvation and baptism, my first mission trip, my wedding, the dedication of my children and the salvation and baptism of Sofia. When I think of the church as the hands and feet of God, I think of the faithful service of MHBC. Thank you for allowing my family to become yours. Thank you for praying for a six year old boy and his future. Thank you being my friends. Thank you for trusting a pastor to follow his heart as he followed his God. Thank you for the memories.
Thank you for 28 great years. We love you and look forward to serving alongside of you in days to come. Please use the remaining time in your class in prayer this morning.
With love and respect,