This week has felt very surreal to me. I left on Sunday after a morning where I didn’t lead music or preach. I had the privilege of spending the day with my family before I set off on my trip. I got pretty confused after landing in Chicago as the flight attendant announced the wrong time, and since my watch and phone were still on East Coast time, I panicked, thinking I had very little time between flights.
This is my 8th time out to St. Paul, Minnesota since the summer of 2008. So much has happened in that time. I remember the night before I flew out, we were staying with my parents in Connecticut. We were only a family of 3 at the time, getting ready to be a family of 4 in a few short months.
As I near the completion of this journey, we are a family of 5. My parents moved to Williamsburg and my mom was diagnosed with and succumbed to cancer in the span of 6 months. I have been thrown so many curveballs in the midst of this journey that you would really think that I would be an expert at hitting them by now. But when life throws curveballs at us, I’m not so sure that we get good at hitting them so much as we adjust to the circumstances that change.
This is the first time in all 8 of my trips that I have actually driven while I was out here. I have been fortunate enough to have had friends drive me around and had never needed a car. Yet in the midst of this new freedom, I have had 2 exams to study for, so I have not had the time or energy to go sightseeing in the evenings. One exam is done while the other one isn’t until Friday.
As close as December is, it still feels a million miles away to me. I still have a long journey between here and there. While I was never really guilty of succumbing to “senioritis” while in high school, college, or graduate school (the first time around), I have felt more than just nudging or pulling since January. I feel as if I will be one of those marathon runners who barely gets over the finished line, bloodied and beaten, merely able to muster the strength and energy to collapse after the 26 mile journey.
There have been so many incredibly supportive people in the process. My church has been a great support to me. People have spoken words of kindness and encouragement to me through the process. The missions team has helped to financially support me. My colleagues have opened up their libraries to me.
My wife has had to endure a few Valentine’s Days without me, and although we’ve never been big on the day ourselves, I know it’s been hard. She’s taken on the task of caring for our incredible children. She has supported me, prayed for me, endured me, comforted me, loved me, and just been a friend through the process. I don’t know what I would have done through all of this had I not had her by my side.
The rest of my family has been great as well. My brother has constantly told me how proud he is of me. My dad has continued the Friday night conversations that we used to have while my mom was alive and I was driving home from my D.C. class. But as the journey comes to a close, it does feel a little incomplete without my mom. With all of these instrumental people in my life, it’s hard to think that she didn’t have a large hand in getting me to the place where I am. She bragged about me and all that I was doing.
I have come pretty far and I still have a long way to go. The end is almost in sight, but I sure am looking forward to collapsing after I cross that finish line though. Thanks for all of your prayers and support, all of you who have done so. Please continue to do so. I am forever grateful.