The last 6 months have been some of the most difficult of my life, but I believe things are going better now. It was three years ago that my family moved from Rock Island, IL to Mena, AR. We moved into our house in Rock Island on August 2005 and we lived there longer than I have ever lived anywhere in my entire life (just under 8 years). Therefore, it was quite a transition to move to Mena and begin work as a preacher.
When we moved to Mena, I had every intention of staying, and I will always feel like the problems we had there could have been easily worked out. But life is like that. There are somethings that are out of our controls and all we can do is pick up the pieces that are left and move on. That is what Paula and I have been trying to do since September of last year. It has been a long, frustrating, depressing, and lonely 6 months for both of us. I don’t think I ever felt so shunned by my church family. Every church leader can expect some will like you others will not; it comes with the job. But we all need encouragement to counteract the negativity we face.
Actually, I didn’t hear very many negative voices. I didn’t hear much at all. Perhaps that’s the problem. There were a few who responded with regret and compassion, but most, including those I thought I had a personal relationship with just stepped away never to be heard from again. I suppose people didn’t know how to react, but saying and doing nothing can sometimes speak just as loud as any action.
Anyway, that chapter in my life is officially over and I am once again feeling optimistic about the future. Paula and I will once again be working with children, many with unfortunate backgrounds. I am looking forward to this, and I feel better prepared for this than ever before. Our own children are grown and living on their own, and even though I worry about them, I am proud of what both of them have become. Both are responsible adults with moral integrity, compassion, and a desire to make the world a better place. That’s about all I can expect or ask for as a parent.
My children have taught me far more than I have taught them. Like many parents, I have some regrets. I think if I had it to do over again, I would dothings different. Unlike I was when I was a young parent, I don’t claim to have all the answers. About all I can do is attempt to learn from the lessons life teaches me and strive to do the best I can with what I have. Unlike with truck driving, I once again see incredible purpose with my new position. I’m no longer just making a living; I’m striving to serve God and others. I’m trying to make a difference in the lives of others. That is what I was trying to do as a preacher, and that is what I hope to do working with these children.
I am very grateful for the encouragement and help people have offered in the last couple months. Many are friends I haven’t heard from much over the years. They are old friends and family that when they heard of our struggles, they took the inititive and stepped up. They sacrificed so much to help us through, and they did. I have felt so wounded and discouraged that I have not always been able to see any good, but through every tragedy I have ever seen or known about there are always the few who run towards the tragedy and risk what they have to help somebody who is in need. For those of you who did this for us, THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART. Your concern and actions mean so much to me. We are getting back on our feet and it really feels good.