When we discovered Jen was pregnant with our first child we were still in Princeton, NJ, entering the last year of our seminary adventure. It was the summer of 2000.
In the fall of that year we traveled back home to southern California. We celebrated Jen’s birthday with friends and family and I was scheduled to preach at the church in which I grew up, East Whittier Presbyterian.
We had been able to keep the pregnancy a secret from my parents, and it was early enough that Jen wasn’t really showing. I had arranged with the pastor at East Whittier to allow me to make the surprise announcement at the conclusion of the worship service, just after the benediction.
The moment came, I shared the good news, and my mom erupted with a “WHOOP!” of pure joy. (This was her first grandchild. That “WHOOP!” might still be echoing in the hills in Whittier, such was its power.) Later, before lunch at my parents’ home, our extended family gathered for a prayer, which my dad began, “God, our hearts are full…”
As Jen and I think back on our time at Good Shepherd that’s how we feel: our hearts are full.
This congregation has been so supportive, so encouraging, so generous, and so appreciative. We have shared life together for almost seventeen wonderful years. We are deeply grateful.
As one of your pastors it has been a privilege to live and work among this family of faith, participating in the joys and celebrations as well as the trials and heartaches. (I subscribe to Henri Nouwen’s notion of Christians as “wounded healers.” Our own hurts are somewhat redeemed when they move us to love and care for others in their pain.)
There have been many transitions over the years, both personally at home and professionally at Good Shepherd. Through it all God has been faithful.
And now it is time for another transition. May I encourage us both to rest in the continued faithfulness of God? Let us trust that God is at work in the life of Good Shepherd and in the life of our little family, at work to bring about God’s best.
Friends, may you be blessed (and be a blessing) as you continue to invite all people to grow into a Christ-centered life in God’s family. We’ll be cheering for you as you do.
With full hearts,
Paul & Jen
(and Jeremiah, Riley & Wesley)