Sunday, March 25, 2007

We're moving to Tennessee

After several months of consideration, thought, and prayer, Carolina and I have decided to move to Tennessee. I will be starting a new job, working as an associate minister for the Old Hickory Church of Christ. I will be in charge of youth, education, and I'll be preaching once per month.

Their current preacher, Don Loftis, has been there for 15 years, and their last youth minister left them in May of '06, so I hope I can bring him some help and relief. The congregation is about 350 members with 6 elders, and it's located very near where I grew up. I played little league baseball about 4 miles from where the building is.

For several years now, I thought that the hardest thing I had ever done was asking Carolina's father (in Spanish) for permission to marry his daughter. Even though I spent several days thinking and praying about how I would announce this to the Rose Bud congregation, where I've been preaching for a little over three years, I just couldn't keep my composure. Leaving them is turning out to be about the hardest thing I've ever done.

I came to Arkansas in 1999 to go to Harding University. They hired me to preach for them in January 2004 at the age of 23. It was always hard to convince outsider people that I was old enough to be the preacher, but the people at Rose Bud have always believed in me, and have supported me the whole way through. I am convinced that I'll never be as close to another congregation as I feel to the people at Rose Bud. Carolina and I have no family here. I don't understand rural culture. I don't know how to ride a horse or tell what a good cow looks like. But they have gone out of their way to become like our family, and we love them so much.

Moving to Nashville is moving close to home for me, but I worry a lot about Carolina, who is really having to start from scratch. She has so many friends in Searcy, and is so well liked around the Harding community. But we're picking up and beginning a new leg in our life's journey. It is going to be so painful to stop seeing these people from week to week. At the same time, I think there are some great opportunities at Old Hickory that will challenge me in some new and different ways. Through all of these experiences, I'm convined that I'll become a more well-rounded person.

This has been a very hard decision to make, but we believe we have made the right one. The people at Rose Bud have been very supportive and loving. I knew that they would, but their kind hearts continue to overwhelm me. There are a few of the older members who I might never see again after we've moved. Talking with one of them after church whose health is declining, I just lost it and couldn't speak. I had to go to my office and weep for a few minutes. So I ask all of you--O Readers--to pray for several things:
  1. Pray for Carolina and I. We're going to make some huge changes and adjustments. We'll be much closer to my family, but Carolina is not used to being surrounded by in-laws. We're having to sell our beautiful house here in Searcy, and find a new one in Nashville. This is already stressing us out. There is much to be done.
  2. Pray for the Rose Bud Church of Christ. We've worked so hard to help strengthen this congregation, and I really want someone good to follow me so that the good work can continue when we're gone.
  3. Pray for the Old Hickory Church of Christ. I've taken this position, because I see some ways in which I really believe they need my help. I hope that God will use me to help this good congregation.
This is one of those junctures in my life where I know things will never be the same again as they are right now. I hope my years at Old Hickory will be rewarding, as they have been at Rose Bud.

21 comments:

  1. May God bless your new ministry.

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  2. That is never an easy one. Will you still be going to HUGSR or making the change to DLU?

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  3. Thanks, guys!

    I intend to keep taking the short courses and online courses at HUGSR. I may end up taking the Greek and Hebrew classes, and possibly some preaching or counseling classes at DLU. I really like John York, and I think it would be cool to study homiletics under him. I intend to stay a Hardingite through my MDiv. With my close proximity to Vanderbilt, I'm at least dreaming that I might get accepted there for my PhD. That's a ways off, though.

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  4. Hey....this came a surprise, but I'm excited for you guys. I am sad because I was hoping that when we actually start searching for a preacher at our church of 200 that has a strong spanish ministry that the two of you would be willing to apply for the job....you guys would fit in well with our members and I know you would do great things anywhere like you have proven at Rose Bud. So, I'm sad to see you take a job anywhere but Rose Bud or our church. But, I know God will bless you and that he was involved in this process.

    Keep us informed.

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  5. God bless you in your new ministry. Open doors can be challenging but also very rewarding. Looking forward to reading good things about your service in the Kingdom in Tennessee!

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  6. Mark, we live just 15 minutes from the church. If you need anything from the area, just let us know and we'll be glad to help out!

    Carolina - when the in-laws come over, you can "already" have plans to hang out with Jennie. :) We're looking forward to you moving closer!

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  7. Awesome, congrats guys! So when are you coming?

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  8. it's exciting that you're moving to the nashville area...we'll through you on the back of a mower again, hahaha. looking forward to us hanging out again....hey Rob...somehow your number didn't save in my cell phone...give me a call we need to get together and grill out or something.

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  9. oops, throw not through...already been a long week

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  10. Hey! Sounds great! I'm glad we'll be close to everyone again. Greek Deli for all!

    If I'm going to start back on the mowers again, I'll probably have to start bringing back some of the old jokes about Ed and his chronnniccc zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

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  11. I know that this is a hard time for you guys but it is also exciting. I wish you the best in this transition. Maybe we will see you guys a little more often since we will only be 6 hours away instead of 12!

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  12. "Greek Deli for all!"

    Aha! the real reason your moving back to Nashville. Just kidding. I'm excited for you guys. I KNOW how hard a decision this had to be, but I'm sure God will bless you in this new area of ministry. I'm excited that you'll be back in the hometown. Maybe one day Lynda and I will make it back there, too.

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  13. It will be nice to be closer to the Carolinas...they make great vacation spots.

    Brent: Make no mistake, I am moving back to Nashville in part because of family, but a very real portion of my desire is based entirely on the Greek Deli. :-)

    And whenever you and Lynda DO move back to town, we're totally getting the band back together. We can still call ourselves "The Little White Stool", or "Bobby Fleet and His Band With The Beat"

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  14. Mark,

    Congrats! God will see you through any difficulty. At the same time, your faith in God will deepen immensely through the transition.

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  15. Well what do I say here? I'm so happy for you to be going "home" and as lovely as Carolina is she will have more new friends very quickly. But, Im sad for us. Im sorry I didnt take more advantage of our time that you were here. You've been a good friend to me and I will miss you both very much. Come have dinner with us before you go. I'll talk to you about it Sunday. Guess I better get back to church and listen to you while I still have you!
    Whitney

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  16. wow...i stink at this .....i dont know why i showed up as anonymous....good thing I signed my name :)

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  17. Mark, you can go........but Carolina stays!! :) CONGRATS! I know you will be a blessing to the good folks at Old Hickory. Just come back to Old Searcy often!

    Love ya'll,
    DU

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  18. Haha...that's usually the consensus. People can take or leave me, but Carolina is always the preferred one of the two of us. :-)

    Thanks for the kind words...this will be a challenge and a blessing I'm sure. We'll miss all our Searcy friends a lot.

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  19. I actually live in Old Hickory. A great house just went up for sale on Birdsall St perfect for a young couple...no I am not a real estate agent. Just a Christian family hoping for good Christian neighbors. :) My neighbor also goes to OH Church of Christ. Good luck with your move!

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  20. I knew that moving to our new home was going to be very traumatic for the entire family, so I wanted to find a way to give everyone our new address. I searched the internet and found several good sites that offered real cute moving cards that could be personalized, Personalized Moving Announcements Cards, Custom Moving Announcements, Printed Moving Cards and Housewarming Invitations. I also wanted to order invitations for our housewarming party so all these sites had excellent ones. I ended up buying my moving announcements cards and housewarming invitations from Announcements for New Home Moving and was very pleased. Both personalized cards turned out great!

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