This Sunday will be my pastor’s last Sunday at Westwood after 11+ years. God has called him to pastor Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. It is such a God thing for him and his family and I know God has great things in store for Westwood as well. But goodbyes stink.
When Les came to Westwood, Nate and I were newlyweds and I was teaching elementary school. I still remember us sitting in his office and talking about me quitting teaching and going into ministry, which God had called me to do many years before. Not long after that, I came on staff. Over all these years, we have seen God move in incredible ways. We have been through more ups and downs than can be counted. Les has been with our family through good and bad. He was one of the first people we told when we were surprised by being pregnant with Brenna. He’s been there when both of my girls were born and has loved them as they’ve grown. He’s carried Brenna when she was too tired to Christmas carol and answered Kaylie’s deep theological questions about if the moth she loved went to heaven.
Les taught me to love the show 24 and Jack Bauer (how else was I going to participate in Tuesday staff meetings?). We fought over the pineapples in the trail mix until he just bought me my own. He got mad when I teased him about his extremely particular food orders at every restaurant and he teased me about…well, kinda everything. We share a bad sense of direction (but at least I know where the ocean is) and once we accidentally shared debit cards when the waitress got us mixed up (sure wish we’d realized it before I tried to pay at Publix and he bought himself a Starbucks).
He has been my boss, my leader, and my pastor, but more than that he has been my friend.
And the past few weeks I haven’t been able to say a word. In fact on Wednesday I told him that I hoped I could just look him in the face by Sunday.
So, in case I can’t…
– Thank you for teaching and leading our church to do big things for God over the past eleven years. God has done immeasurably more than we could have ever asked or imagined.
– Thank you for leading a staff that could laugh and have fun together. How many times did we start conversations with “Remember when?” and end up laughing so very hard? So many good memories… most of which I can’t put in print for all of our sakes. 🙂
– Thank you for loving and supporting my family. Not many pastors would let a mama stay home with her kids and keep leading children’s ministry at the same time. That is a gift I can never say thank you enough for. I’ve gotten to enjoy these little years with my little people and still do what I love.
– Thank you for being Westwood Kids’ biggest fan. I’ll never forget you preaching from a pirate ship before VBS or watching you almost choke on gingerbread at the Family Christmas Celebration or seeing you share the gospel with kids and families. Many children’s ministers struggle with getting their pastor’s support or even understanding. You have blessed me and your next children’s pastor will be blessed as well. (And I’m praying, for your sake, that she is also less opinionated)
– Thank you for trusting me with ministering to Westwood’s kids and for always trusting me with more. I loved solving problems with you and for you. Your encouragement has made me the leader I am today. Thank you for always believing in me.
The Funderburke’s love you and will miss you bunches, Friend.