This is Pt 4 from Lessons from Leaving. See Pt 1 here. See Pt 2 here. See Pt 3 here.
First off, lucky you. I said this would be a three-part series and here we are at Part FOUR. Why? I learned a lot and I can’t end my lessons without saying thank you.
WARNING – LONG POST
To All Who Shaped Me,
I keep hoping that this season of grieving will just be a short season but I know it will be a process. Hence the four-part blog series.
I have spent five years of life with a community I can call family.
Ryan and Alicia with their kiddos have been like a second family. Although Ryan’s place at work has been “my boss”, he feels much more like a paternal (can I say that?) mentor figure in my life as he has coached me through life changes, been patient as I’ve learned new things, and supported Josh and me through dating, marriage, and parenting. He has taught me to be unashamed of the Gospel and unwavering about Jesus Christ being the center of all that we do. Alicia has always been available and more than willing to offer support, and teach me many things about being a wife, a mother, and an advocate for women and life.
Derek and Heather and their kiddos have been good friends as well. With their pastoral personalities, they welcomed Josh and I in from day one (sept 2013) and our friendship has continued to grow. Heather has taught me much about selfless love, and Derek has taught me much about humility and speaking the truth in grace.
I met my dearest best friend who helped me develop a deeper faith in Jesus and prayer life. Kelly and I were roommates for 3 years and chose to be friends after 5 months of getting to know each other, which we still joke about today. To anyone who has the privilege of being called her friend, she’s a keeper – loyal, trustworthy, funny, real. I could write a lot here.
Kate the great is more than just a rhyming nickname. She really is great. She has a deep love and commitment to the Westside and the students she comes in contact with. She is wise and is quick to listen and talk with you.
Kelsey is one of the most intentional humans I know. Her care her people is deep and her desire to meet them and care well for them is high. She has taught me much about loving people well and extending love no matter if it’s reciprocated or recognized.
I joke that Michael saved my life in India when I got really sick, but I wasn’t actually dying. Michael has taught me a lot about loving people well. His prayer rhythms and love for hymns have motivated me to know Jesus better and listen to hymns more. Michael came into BSHOP during a season I was feeling pretty down and I didn’t want to get to know him because that would be acknowledging the season of change I was entering. I am so glad I got to know Michael and that I can call him a dear friend.
I’ve been able to work with so many others, and my community includes so many others:
- Andrew and Lindsay Sisson have taught me about the importance of rest and the Holy Spirit. Andrew is quick to answer my many Westside questions. Lindsay has been a trusted mentor in my life through different seasons as well.
- All the past mission school students have shaped my life and are a part of why I am who I am today. (sorry I had to lump you all together, there are 40 something of you and this letter is getting long).
- Past Immersion staff – so many shared memories, camping trips, games, late nights, busy days. The summers shared together have molded me into who I am today.
- Mission School parents who have become a part of my life. Renzema’s and Sloterbeek’s.
- Denise Fase and GRIL have taught me about the power young people have and the importance to invest and disciple them. Along with providing space for me to create a life mission statement and time to create a “big picture” life goal to be aiming at.
And then there are my neighbors. Those I didn’t know how they would shape my life and become like family as well. Those I thought I was coming to serve and yet have given so much to me. Roy, Chris, Jose, Jim, James, Bird, Emariana, Linda, Hernon, and so many more.
My volunteers. Ruth who has challenged me to become a better leader and communicator. Gaye who has helped me learn what being a good neighbor means. Diane, who has served so selflessly and gives so much. Kim, who can speak the truth so graciously. Sue and Merri, who are devoted and dedicated for our neighbors. College students who make space in busy schedules have taught me to prioritize what I do and make space for what I value. Other volunteers who join in because they like what we are doing have helped motivate me to keep pursuing what I agree with even if it can be uncomfortable.
As you can see, my life has been profoundly impacted by five years on Bridge Street. If you ask Chris or James (Pavilion friends) it takes five years before you are a Westsider. I have finally reached that mark yet now I am having to say goodbye. And it is hard.
I didn’t anticipate it being so hard since I am pursuing new and exciting things. But it is hard.
People I love will still be here, but sharing daily life with them will be coming to an end. Even the thought is enough to leave me in tears.
Bshop connected Josh and I which resulted in marriage which resulted in a baby which resulted in a family heading towards long-term missions. All because we have been impacted by community development, intentional community living, fervent prayer, Jesus Christ, discipleship, and missions. SO thanks BSHOP. Thank you to the obedient and brave young people who moved into the Westside 13 years ago and followed Gods calling. You have made me who I am today. Thanks, Kali LaHaie for bringing me to youth group 7 years ago so that I could learn about BSHOP and get involved here. Thanks, Paige Ratliff for always encouraging me that I don’t have to follow social “norms” but that I can take risks to follow Jesus where I feel He is calling me. AND for making sure we always made it to youth group and Saturday Night Worships. Remember when we tried bailing on Immersion the morning of? That could have us on very different life paths right now.