Dear Friends,

Dear friends,

As I sit in my hospital room on the evening of Ash Wednesday, I have so many thoughts running through my head. There are not enough pages in this Illuminator for me to write everything I want to say to all of you as my church family. First and foremost, Leigh and I want to say clearly, “THANK YOU FOR THE MANY PRAYERS, INNUMERABLE CARDS and THE MANY EXPRESSIONS OF SINCERE LOVE AND CARE.”

I am really missing being at church with you for worship and fellowship, but we have felt your care and support in ways that are giving us great strength and comfort.

I obviously had no idea we were about to enter such a dark and difficult valley, but God’s love, made visible in tangible ways through you, has been a source of hope and blessings.

I don’t feel like I can adequately say thanks to everyone who has stepped up to take new responsibilities during my absence so that the church has continued to worship, study and serve. I am particularly grateful to Steve Bolton and Amy Herring who have stepped up to serve as personal pastors to Leigh and me. Both have made numerous visits to the hospital and have listened prayerfully as we have discussed anxieties about my diagnosis and questioned what the future might look like. Both have prayed beautiful prayers that have left us confident we are in the peace-giving presence of God. We appreciate Mike and Rachel Dossett who are leading a team of Pastoral Care providers.

This has been one of the most challenging three-week periods of my life, but I am more sure than ever that God is present and faithful. I am looking forward to being back in the pulpit to share some of what I’m learning about the goodness of our faithful God and to share more about what I am learning and the ways God has been working in my life. I am also thankful for those who are preaching and teaching in my absence. What a blessing to know that some of my pastor friends are willing to leave their own churches for a Sunday to come preach at Hope Valley to help me and to help us as a church family.

I am truly grateful to have you all as my brothers and sisters in Christ during these challenging days. You all are blessing us in so many ways!

Blessings and love,