Yes, I’ll miss California’s ocean, and the High Sierra, and preaching to my congregation at Irvine Presbyterian Church. I’ll miss the Regatta Café, my favorite restaurant, not to mention In-N-Out Burger. (My taste in food runs the gamut.) I expect that there will be dozens of other things I’ll miss about the state in which I lived for 86% of my life (the other 14% in Massachusetts).
But the “things” I’ll miss most of all aren’t things, but people. I’ll miss the people I have been privileged to spend so much of my life with. First and foremost, I’ll miss my extended family. Oh, to be sure, I’ll get to see them at Christmas and during summer vacations. And I hope they’ll be courageous enough to visit us in Texas. But I won’t get to see my family, including my wife’s family, as often as I have in the last two decades. (Photo below: My family on Thanksgiving Day in 2006)
In addition to my family, the people I’ll miss the most include some long time friends from my days at the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. We have remained close over the years, even vacationing together in Grand Tetons National Park in 2004 (see photo to the right). When our friendships began, most of us were unmarried, and none had children. Now we all have spouses and kids, along with plenty of pets.
Besides family and friends, I’ll miss my staff at Irvine Presbyterian Church, many of whom became friends as we worked together and shared life together. I was blessed with some fanastic colleagues, people of strong faith, deep integrity, extraordinary talent, and a passion for Christ and His church. Much of what God was able to do through me at Irvine Presbyterian Church reflects the support and partnership with my staff. (Photo to the right: Some members of the pastoral and program staff.)
Finally, I’ll miss the people of Irvine Pres. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ll miss the chance to preach to them. But, more basically, I will simply miss them. You can’t share the deepest things in life with people for sixteen years and not miss them when you’re separated. My life has been inestimably changed for the better because of their partnership, friendship, support, and love. (The picture to the right is from the farewell party that the church threw for me and my family. It was one of the highlights of my life. You can view some of the videos made for that event on YouTube: 1) Pictures of people from the church; 2) Tributes to my family; 3) A video history of my ministry, including scandalous shots of me in Vacation Bible School attire. Yikes! Many thanks to Troy Witt of Take One Productions and Jennie Korneychuk for producing these sweet videos.)