Tomorrow I go back to work.
If you read my previous post, you’ll know that I have been on a sabbatical this summer. Today is the final day of those two months.
While June seemed to creep by, July has flown! After my time at Ridgecrest Conference Center, the whole family loaded up and went down to Charleston for the trip we intended to enjoy in June (see previous post for further explanation). We had a great time at the beach, visiting family and old friends.
We returned to Rock Hill and immediately jumped on a boat with some dear friends to celebrate Declan’s upcoming birthday. Tubing, swimming, sunset, and a little lightening show resulted in a wonderful night together.
The following week, we took a whirlwind trip to Atlanta, Georgia. I’ve been a Braves fan all my life, so going to a game following a World Series championship season was a must. Our AirBNB was within walking distance to the Braves stadium (highly recommend), which made the whole experience that much cooler. The next day brought a morning at the Georgia Aquarium and an evening cheering on Atlanta United at Mercedes Benz Stadium. As if that wasn’t enough, Anita had the fun idea to float the Chattahoochee on our way out of Georgia. If you ever go up to Helen, GA for tubing, definitely opt for the pushing sticks (Thanks for the tip Clara!).
An unexpected change in my friend Kyle’s calendar gave me the chance to spend an evening in Clemson. Kyle Richardson has been a close friend for nearly ten years. We’ve walked through a lot together, both in his life and in mine. His encouragement and support has been invaluable. After every conversation I have with Kyle I am more assured of God’s call on my life, confident about who I am as a friend, and more knowledgeable about football. Despite his insanely busy schedule, Kyle always makes time to check in with me. This means more than you could possibly understand.
If you know the history of Grace Collective Church, you know that the very first gathering of people to talk about starting a church happened in the home of the Wentworth family. David, Anne Marie, JD, Jake, and Grace are one of my favorite families in the world. In fact, a random comment after church one day by Dave was one of the catalyst God used in calling me to plant a church. I’ve had the honor of baptizing three out of the five of them. Not long after we started GCC, the Wentworths moved to St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. Despite the distance, they have loved and supported our church consistently. They even joke that they are GCC…C (Grace Collective Church Coastal). Over the years their home in SSI has been a refuge for Anita and me. We have a tradition of going down to SSI at least once a year with Kris & Kristin Quate (our besties as my kids would say). Due to a number of circumstances, we ended up making a trip down with all our kids as well. While it wasn’t the super restful experience I usually enjoy while in SSI, it was a memorable one for sure. We enjoyed the beach, some incredible food, and Declan became a bonafide fisherman. In the course of two days, he not only caught his first fish, but went on to catch a total of seven different species of fish. Yep, I am pretty proud and excited for future fishing trips.
Along with all the trips and activities, I told the kids that each of them would have a “Dad Day.” They get a day alone with me doing whatever they want to do. Mac was up first and chose to spend the day at the Whitewater center. We had a great time enjoying the ropes course, climbing wall, and rafting. We even got a bonus when we ran into Haley and David Weil along with David’s mom Ruthie. We even got to raft together. Declan was next. He wanted, and I quote, “Waffle House, Mr. Putty’s, and the pool.” So we did just that. Declan sank his first hole-in-one on hole number seventeen. He was so excited! Savannah Grace wanted to go kayaking. An unexpected request, but easy enough to fulfill thanks to some generous friends. We went down to Andrew Jackson State Park and had the place to ourselves. Rylee’s dad day is coming up next week. I’m still working on a couple of things since she has “no idea” what she wants to do.
You might be wondering what I’ve been doing on Sunday mornings. It’s an odd feeling having to choose where to go to church after decades of having that decision kind of made for me. It’s been a mixed bag from church in Montana, online, St. Simons, and some fantastic churches here in Rock Hill. One of my favorite Sundays was going to Rock Creek Baptist Church in Greenville, SC (yes, Greenville). Their pastor was not only the camp pastor for our students this summer, but he is also an old friend. Travis Agnew was on Centrifuge staff with Anita and I back in 2002. For years I’ve described him as the closest thing to a true disciple that I’ve ever met. It’s hard to understand unless you’ve met him. I am extremely grateful for the time he and his family made for us in the middle of a busy weekend of ministry.
One other detail worth mentioning that made my sabbatical possible. My wonderful wife Anita had the foresight to understand the challenge of finding rest over the summer with a house full of children. She asked her employers at Westminster Presbyterian if there was any way to augment her work schedule to help with our sabbatical plans. They were extremely understanding and thoughtful in making accommodations for our unique situation. It’s a beautiful thing to see churches working together even in the behind the scenes kind of stuff. Thank you WPC.
So there it is. My first sabbatical comes to an end. I’m so thankful for the time off, and that I’m so eager to get back to work. I was a little nervous about how I’d feel at the end. Now I’m just nervous about getting back to preaching. I’ll be sharing some of the insights and reflections God has pressed on my heart during this time. I hope you’ll come to a Sunday morning to hear it. I’ll be a GCC Sundays at 10:15am. See you soon!