Two weeks from today, I will no longer live in Massachusetts. I’m going home.

As I look back on the last eight and a half years, I’m trying to look at them through balanced, rational eyes, but instead I see them through a filter of thousands of tears. Tears of loss, tears of anger, tears of fear, tears of grief.  I had no idea, when I left my friends, my family and my church all those years ago how different my life would be less than a decade later.

I hung in there as long as I could.  But I lost my job. I lost almost 75% of my income. I lost friends. I lost my car. I even lost an organ. And in a few hours, I’ll be losing my constant companion of the last 11 years when Josie and I make one last trip to the vet.

So the tears I cry today are tears that have been building up for years, coming out in a flood I can’t seem to stop no matter how hard I try, and pray and worship.

Lest I sound melodramatic and emo, though, these are also tears of gratitude to my God who has been with me every single step of these eight and a half troubling, but wonderful years.  Yes, they have been years of great loss, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Looking back, I see a clearly marked trail leading to this moment in time. A trail I never would have chosen on my own, but a trail that was so necessary, and at times, so beautiful.

It’s a trail marked by growth, change, increased trust.  It’s marked by God’s overwhelming faithfulness, and the lives of people here who have served to forever change my relationship with the God we worship and adore.

There are the ladies I had to great privilege to study and worship and laugh with for 4 years.  My small group has been a lifesaver more times than I can count.  So many Thursday evenings, after a rough day at work, all I wanted to do was stay home and curl up on the couch. But their love drew me in, and their complete insanity at times gave me the laughter I had been craving all week.  Their encouragement, prayer and advice were a lifeline.  And they let me encourage them and pray for them too. What a blessing! I am so grateful for them!

And there are the high school and college kids who let me into their lives.  I am in awe of them, and so blessed to know them.  They’ve taught me so much about lifestyle worship.  They get together on their own to study Scripture.  They take sheer delight in singing and writing songs of praise to our Savior.  They pray for each other, and for me.  They serve others joyfully.  And they too are completely insane and make me laugh every time I get to be with them.  They have changed my life and they are going to change the world because God has their hearts. What a blessing! I am so grateful for them!

So on this day, and in these next two weeks, when good-bye is all that’s left, I praise God, and exalt His name, because He has done wonderful things for me in this place and through His people. He planned these eight and a half years long before time began. And He has, in more ways that I can count, remained faithful and sure.