Friday, October 22, 2010

Footprints On Our Hearts

The closer we came to leaving Kissimmee in 2000, the harder it became to let go of the people there that we loved so much.  During those last few weeks my office at the church was a beehive of activity.  Students, parents, church staff and Youth Ministry Team members seemed to be in and out all the time.  None of us wanted to say good-bye.  In an effort almost no one knew about, I went back into the office of The Pastor Who Shall Not Be Named and offered to call Union Church and tell them I was staying at FUMC-K.  All he had to do was say the word.  He did not.  As we began packing in earnest youth stopped by the house to help, to watch and to eat our food.  Amber Herrick stopped by to yell at me for leaving- as did others.  People I had not seen it a while showed up for events.  It made leaving just that much more difficult.

Then the farewell parties began.  When you have spent six years building what are hopefully deep and lasting relationships with people, bidding them adieu is no fun.  But everyone feels a need for closure in such situations, so there were a variety of events put together so that we could all say good-bye to one another.  I don't remember many details about the actual events.  I do remember that the final farewell was a reception after church in the Fellowship Hall, and that it was very nice (I also remember that The Pastor Who Shall Not Be Named couldn't be bothered to stay more than 5 minutes).  What I really remember from all of the events is that we got 4 amazing gifts that I still treasure. 
  • The choir that Marilyn and I sang with, Joyful Praise, gave us a framed copy of one of my favorite anthems we had done- We've Come This Far By Faith.  It was signed by all of the choir members, and it hangs on the wall in our living room today.  Andrew Lewis was someone we were going to miss tremendously.
  • Some of the younger girls in the group- Bethany Esry, Brittney Herder, Isabelle Davis, Julia Pribyl and I am not sure who else- made a scrap book for us.  You have seen some of those pictures on this blog, and that scrapbook is very dear to me.  So is the inscription inside the front cover:  "To Carl Jones, the BEST youth leader ever!"  They were wrong, of course, but I love them for saying it!
  • Sam and Leila Lupfer presented me with a journal with the title, "Carl, I'll Never Forget the Time..."  In it, many members of the Youth Ministry Team and church staff had remembered events and moments that we had shared over the years.  Entries from the Lupfer's, Cindy Martin, Cathy Thacker, Mark & Beth McKenna, Dana Schmidt, Karen Fry, Michael & Becky McCleery, Brian and Jill Watson, Carol Kraus, Sandi Lynch and more were so meaningful and touching. 
  • The youth, led by filmmaker Colleen Martin, produced a video to say good-bye.  It was awesome.  Most of it was shot in my office; every time I watch it I am reminded how AMAZING that office was!  Among the the video highlights were Sara Autrey telling me how "degraditated" (her favorite made-up word) she was that I was leaving;  Colleen trying to interview Nate Kern in the men's room, where he was pretending to pee;  Adam Hill marking me off his list of People to Kill while applying lipstick;  "Twins" Melissa Lynes and Erica Souther telling me how much I would miss them;  Kelly Jeck singing the Oscar Mayer bologna song (spelling it wrong, of course);  Matt & Dana Schmidt talking with their backs to the camera because they "refused to watch me leave;"  Andrew Rogers not appearing on film, but providing the voice for a doll and singing Figaro; Sarah Whitman asking me to say hello to all the truckers for her; Jena Threadgill pretending to come out of the shower to be interviewed; and Josh Fry telling me how much he would miss me as he peeled off 5 layers of shirts and coats and then poured water all over his t-shirt.  There were also segments from Erik Jacobsen, Lindsey Joiner, Sarah Crudele, Melanie Schultz and Karen Fry that still bring me to tears.  I cannot express how much I treasure that video.
In Dr. Jill's (pictured) entry in the journal I was given she wrote, "I am thankful that you have always loved me just because...and in spite of...who I am."  Today, I could use those same words to express my love to her and the many others from those days who have loved me when I certainly didn't deserve it.  That same journal contained an inscription from the publisher on the inside cover.  The words were meant for me at the time, but they apply so well to what all of us- youth and adults- shared in those days at FUMC-K.  I'll close with them:

Some people come into our lives and quickly go.  Some people move our souls to dance.  They awaken us to new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom, and make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon.  Some people stay in our lives a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.
Because of Jesus,


  1. Anonymous10/22/2010

    That was lovely and totally kleenex worthy!

    -Jen K.

  2. Thanks Bob. I went through a box of them myself...

  3. Anonymous10/22/2010

    Your office was really wonderful. It was like a home away from home, where we all felt comfortable and loved. I never ever thought of it as an office. It was where you lived in my mind...

  4. I agree. The office was like a 2nd home (Not to mention a great place to play hookie from those pesky college classes lol! I am so glad you guys moved back closer to me! (Just a little selfish) I do need to come visit you more as close as you are.

  5. Lisa, we are glad to be back close to you as well! We should get together more often- Plant City here we come! :)

  6. I have thought of that video often. Any chance you can put it on here? I want to watch how stupid I was... :)

  7. I will attempt to get it transfered to DVD and then see what I can do, Kelly. It is pretty awesome- the video, that is. Your singing, well... :)

  8. Anonymous10/22/2010

    What I remember about your office is that is was always FREEZING! No wonder Josh had on so many layers! And YOU were the one who made my soul dance- thank you so much for all you did for us! -LW

  9. Anonymous10/22/2010

    I wonder how many pounds of candy we went through in your office during those years? :)

  10. Anonymous10/23/2010

    Thanks for the kind words. I still feel the same way today as I did then. Wish you could meet our current pastor, you would love him!

  11. Anonymous10/26/2010

    Pounds of candy was really more like TONS LOL

  12. LOL about the candy- I almost went broke just keeping my office supplied! :)


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