I am absolutely as happy in this picture as I look. This photo was taken during my very last week working at Columbus First United Methodist. I had the honor of joining the youth for their senior high summer mission trip to Lorain, OH. We spent the week under the leadership of an amazing organization called Next Step: worshiping together, in fellowship with, and in service to the community of Lorain. Our work-site group helped to finish up a play ground and shed for a local daycare owner. We had such a dynamic time and I loved every second spent working, playing, and growing with the youth of FUMC, but nobody told me what happens when you mix Rust-Oleum paint with water! I called myself washing off paint brushes after a long, productive day to find myself covered in a sticky, waterproof mess that took WD-40 to give back my hands. I don't have enough sticky fingers to count the number of belly aching laughs, warm embraces, and powerful memories that these kids brought to my life in just one week.
On July 8, 2018, I gave my very first sermon to FUMC's Sunday night Ignite service at the FUMC Outreach Center. This photo depicts my offering of the benediction that evening. The days and nights leading up to this moment were long, but the outcome absolutely amazing, and I don't mean that in any trite way. I was entirely overwhelmed and bewildered with the way in which God used my story and my voice to encourage and convict myself and others. This sermon opens doors to special connections with congregants and friends. It also was only the beginning, as I was able to preach a different sermon to three different crowds just a couple weeks later. Preaching was a very rich experience for me, and I am grateful to the members of FUMC for lending their ears and hearts to God through me.
One of my favorites forms of worship is through music. While at FUMC, I had plenty of opportunities to join their praise team, Ignite worship team, and even help teach music at Vacation Bible School. I didn’t feel quite connected to the community until the very first time I was able to lead worship through song. That is the power of music in my life, and I was blessed to share that experience with some very talented and loving folks.
Vacation Bible School was a huge highlight of my experience. I had an awesome time singing and dancing all day long with the kids. The energy and purity of these precious little ones was a beautiful spin on my normal desk life. We even had a little ukulele fun, and I met a special lifelong friend in my fellow music leader.
This photo was taken on my very last Sunday morning in Columbus. My mother, who is a United Methodist pastor in Arkansas, led communion by Rev. Cindi’s side and I was showered in gifts, hugs, and blessings. In that bag are lots of Nebraska must-haves and my first very own Wesley Study Bible. It was a very special send off complete with a first Sunday potluck. Rev. Cindi made this experience so much more than I expected. From shared hobbies to exegesis, Rev. Cindi was a joy to work with, and I will cherish her warm embrace forever, all the way from Arkansas.