“Ingratitude is something to be avoided in itself because there is nothing that so effectually disrupts and destroys the harmony of the human race as the vice. For how else do we live in security if it is not that we help each other by an exchange of good offices? It is only through the interchange of benefits that life becomes in some measure equipped and fortified against sudden disasters. Take us singly, and what are we? The prey of all creatures.” – Seneca
I'm not sure who is reading this or who knows, but I have recently been called to pastor First Baptist Church in Richmond, TX. In the words of French poet Placide Cappeau, my family is filled with "the thrill of hope" as we transition to a new city and church.
At the same time, however, we also grapple with a deep sense of sadness. We love the church and city we have been serving in for the past four years. We have made friendships that will last into eternity. We are going to miss them tremendously. Above all, we are thankful for the opportunity that Trinity Baptist Church of Orange has given us.
I want to use this blog to say, "Thank you."
Thank you, Dan and Manon Mohon. Dan Mohon's funeral was the most difficult part of my pastorate at Trinity. This couple fought for me like no one else in the church. They are the reason Trinity hired me at all, and they were my biggest supporters, my confidants, my advisors, financial contributors, and our family's role model for parenthood. Thank you for investing in me.
Thank you, Margaret Edwards. Margaret always referred to me as "her sweet boy." I joked in a business meeting once that this was why Margaret got to be my secretary during those early years. She transferred that sweetness to my two boys as well. Every Sunday, she had a pack of M&Ms for both of them. Thank you for loving my sweet boys and me.
Thank you, Jerry and Lynae Sanford. When we were newly elected at Trinity, Jerry and Lynae drove us around town and showed us the community. In addition to the many ways they serve our church - Jerry is a deacon, Bible study teacher and chaired many committees. Lynae is a Bible study teacher and has championed many new programs - they have become dear friends. Thank you for being our close and trusted companions.
Thank you, Rocky and Allyson Mize. I can't tell you just how many times Rocky bailed our family out of trouble, from all the many times he's fixed our water well to the time he led a team of volunteers to help us when Hurricane Laura sent a tree crashing into our home. Thank you for coming to the rescue every time we needed you.
Thank you, Jack and Darlene Tindel. The Tindels always gave our boys and us a generous Christmas gift. For Amy and I, it was always a gift card to a nice restaurant so that we could have a date night. The first one introduced us to our favorite Beaumont restaurant, JWilson's. Beckham and Baker have been receiving subscriptions to Highlights magazine from the Tindels. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and generosity.
Thank you, Robert and Jan Manley. Robert and Jan were wise parents to us. Do you know that feeling you get when you disagree with your dad, but then later it turns out your dad was right? That feeling describes my relationship with Robert. The Manleys have the gift of insight and discernment. I'll always appreciate their generosity, especially allowing us to use their pool anytime we wanted. Thank you for being surrogate parents to Amy and me.
Thank you, Norm and Renda Scott. Norm and Renda were immensely close to our family. We trusted them 100% with our kids, and they took care of them many a date night. Beckham and Baker loved going out to their home and playing with the dogs. From fishing in the pond to riding on the tractor, the Scotts loved our boys. Thank you for taking the time to love our kids.
Thank you, Tom and Cheri Edwards. Tom is the most encouraging person I have ever been around, a modern-day Barnabas if there ever was one. The Edwards are also immensely generous. The espresso machine they gifted me helped me many a weary night when I needed to keep reading for my doctorate program. The Edwards also gifted our family with a Rainbow vacuum, and if you are familiar with Rainbow products, you know how valuable that really is! Beyond that, Tom was always ready with a kind word and a cup of coffee. Thank you for encouraging us with words and above-and-beyond kindness.
Thank you, Dan and Sarah Cruse. Dan and Sarah have also been dear friends, confidants, and coworkers. Our first family vacation after moving to Orange was to the Cruse's beach house. Dan and I have weathered many storms together, and he graciously put up with my inexperience. I learned to listen to Dan's advice over all others because his depth of wisdom and experience was unparalleled. He is truly a servant of Christ. Thank you for bearing with me all these years and for your loyalty.
Thank you, Noel Griffith. When Amy and I first met Noel, it was in the hotel lobby the day after Trinity hired us. He was kind and generous. I also later learned about Noel's stern side. He was tough and didn't mind making difficult decisions. Every now and again in meetings, Noel would put on what I affectionately refer to as his "Dupont face." His financial savvy and guidance have helped Trinity weather many storms. Thank you for keeping our church afloat with your benevolence and guidance.
Thank you, Marcelle Adams. The only word that can describe Marcelle is spunky. She is a 97-year-old wonder! In addition to her amazing health, she also has an amazing mind. Once, in a particularly tension-filled meeting, Marcelle stood up and spoke words of wisdom. Her calmness of voice and discernment ended the debate and immediately reached a resolution. I'll miss hearing her encouragement every Sunday morning as she told me how much she enjoyed my sermon. Thank you for believing in me.
Thank you, Donna Nichols. Donna is a sweetheart extraordinaire. Not only is she one of the classiest women I have ever known, but she is extremely kindhearted. Her smile and enthusiasm are infectious. Donna is also one of the hardest workers I know. She never failed to beautifully decorate our sanctuary and meet whatever crazy ideas I had for service. Thank you for your faithfulness and loyalty.
Thank you, Claire Smith. Claire was my most trusted advisor and confidant at the church. Although not technically a member, Claire dove headfirst into whatever we were doing and put up with me in the office. She handled many issues that I didn't have the energy or time for. There was no one at Trinity that understood me quite as she did. Thank you for your loyalty and devotion.
Thank you, Willie and Marjorie Morgan. The Morgans not only helped us move from The Woodlands to Orange, but they also loved our family tremendously. On our first Christmas in Orange, the Morgans invited us over for dinner and gave Beckham a red scooter complete with fireman stickers. Willie also spent an extraordinary amount of time, effort, energy, and money working in our church building after Hurricane Harvey flooded it. Thank you for your hard work and dedication through many challenges.
Thank you, Dean and Henry Gentry. When Hurricane Laura sent a tree through our roof, the Gentrys allowed us to stay at one of their rental houses for several months as we got our home back into order. Beyond that, Henry understood the hardships of ministry unlike anyone else in the church. I respected her leadership and advice immensely. Thank you for being there in our hour of great need.
I can't possibly write about every single person at Trinity and the love they shared with me over the past four years. I know I am missing so many. Numerous times, the church pitched together to give us a love offering, including helping us purchase our home. We are so thankful. We could not have started our life here in Orange without all of you. Over my final week, I will do my very best to express my deep gratitude to you. I fear I may fail in that endeavor, but it is my heart's desire.
From the depth of all I am, thank you for investing in the Chandlers.
Seneca's quote says it all. We need each other. There is no such thing as a self-made person. At some point, whether we realize it or not, someone reached down and gave us a hand up when we were down. I am a recipient of undeserved grace, and I am resolved to be a distributor of that same grace.
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast." - Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV