Valerie concluded her twelve-weeks internship with the Pleasant Ridge Church of Christ in Arlington this past weekend and now she’s home for a full ten days before she heads back to Edmond for her junior year at Oklahoma Christian University. Carrie-Anne and I made it down to Arlington Sunday evening just in time for the going-away party the church hosted for Val. We listened for almost an hour while a great mix of students and parents, ministers and deacons, showered our daughter with love and praise for the wonderful impact she had on the youth ministry there. The experience was so good for Valerie — living with the Thatchers, VBS, devos, Bible studies, late-night conversations, church camp, even elders meetings and vampire-ants — that she has officially now changed her major to youth ministry!
Thank you so much to Lance, Ryan, Luann, Jamie, Terry, and everybody else in the student ministry who supported and loved Valerie through the summer. Thank you to Mike and Traci and Bella for doing Valerie’s laundry, keeping her in plenty of Diet Dr Pepper, repairing her car, and being family for her while she was away. Thank you to the Pleasant Ridge church for helping her negotiate the curveballs, for nurturing such a supportive atmosphere for our daughter, and for showing her in a thousand ways the eternal blessings of congregational ministry. Valerie’s love for our Lord and his people grew rich and deep while she was with you. You recognized her gifts for ministry and brought out the very best in her. You loved her like she belonged to you. The words you said to her Sunday night were powerfully encouraging to her and motivated by God’s Spirit. Her mom and I are eternally grateful.
Valerie, I’m so glad I answered the phone that afternoon when you called to tell me you were changing your major to youth ministry. I’ll never forget that conversation. And I’ll never forget how proud I felt and how grateful to God I am right now for the transformational work he’s doing in your life. What Ryan said to you Sunday night is true: if you don’t feel called by God for congregational ministry, don’t do it; if you do feel called by God for congregational ministry, don’t do anything else.
It’s evident to all who know you that God is at work in your life. Powerfully. Obviously. He’s got you right where he wants you. The fact that you are listening to him, following him, and leading people closer to him brings a joy to my heart I cannot adequately describe.
I love you, sweetie.