Friday, January 10, 2014
Telling people goodbye is hard and feels more awkward than natural. It's not my strong suit, never has been and I have done it poorly in the past and probably won't get better at it over the years.
It's after two in the morning and I have been tossing and turning and of all things thinking about Matt and Rachel Blazer and their family of two little girls and their pets.
I lay praying for them for a time and then images just kept drifting in and out of my thoughts until I knew I had to get up and put some of these elusive thoughts down on paper as it were.
I remember early staff meetings at the Greentree offices in Kirkwood sitting around that big table in the conference room. I remember wondering what am I doing here and who are these people really? I knew Anne Simon pretty well from her years in my life already as Jessi's friend and Erin's classmate, and the many days and nights she was in our home and lives. I was getting to know the two pastors and the interns, but thought that the youth guy was sort of hard to figure out and somewhat intentionally enigmatic.
Matt Blazer. How often I would shake my head and say, "Matt, you are so weird sometimes." I just didn't get you or understand some of your reasoning or how you would get from "point A" in a topic to "point B". I would've maybe stayed at that comfortable distance, not really getting you, making a "cardboard cutout" of the real Matt. However, God knew better. He began to let me really hear your heart behind some of those random ways you communicated and I saw something in your eyes that belied the depth to your soul and feelings, no matter how the words tumbled out. You became my friend and in the process, unbeknownst to me or you you became my pastor. You wormed your way into my heart and shepherded me well before I realized it.
I remember the afternoon you came by the house when our daughter Jessica was in town. She saw you sitting on our furniture I had set out front to dry after hosing it all off and cleaning the the front porch. She said, "Mom there's a guy sitting out front on the drive in a chair with a dogsmoking a cigar." Fred and I both smiled and said, "Matt."
We invited you to come around to the side yard and sit on our deck. You said you were worried that someone would think the furniture was for sale or worse for free. It was fifty feet from the street up our driveway in the turnaround, but years later as I realized Rachel's love of "rescuing abandoned furniture" I got your concern.
We got a bowl of water for Ron, and the four of us humans proceeded to have cigars. I chided you about smoking as you were just getting ready to have treatment for your cancer. You assured me that the docs said it was fine this "one last time". I wondered how many of those you had :-)
I also remember our staff retreat. What a strange thrown together group of people for a weekend retreat at the lake in someone's beautiful condos! It was fun and even though we drove Scott mad (he asked for our thoughts on the different name options for the church...remember?) I believe it may have actually been somewhat productive.
Once the church moved to our new offices I began to get to know you better and so did Fred. So often you would say what you thought I was getting at or trying to say to the pastors and you were most often spot on! You seemed to have a much deeper soul than I had originally given you credit for. I began to see empathy and compassion and a desire to know and better understand people and what they were about. I guess I was being given the gift of watching God grow you...what a gift!
You were who we came to and let know we were leaving Riverside. It just seemed the natural thing to do. You shepherded us well and you loved us well, we are honored to call you "friend".
Rachel, I did not have the privilege of knowing you as well as I got to know Matt, but I remember going to a baby shower at the Dames condo banquet hall or whatever you call those. I remember watching you become a person in your own right and yet always you were very much Matt's wife. You complimented him beautifully!
I was in one study (or maybe two?) with you and always loved your enthusiasm for the word and how it fit into real life for us as women, or actually how our lives fit into God's story. I watched as you deepend in relationship with so many women over time and so gracefully wore many hats throughout your years at Riverside. You dealt with the seminary years, the early days of motherhood, and some difficult parenting challenges with grace and dignity...and honesty. Thank you for that.
I have always loved your sense of humor...that is one of my love languages and you speak it well!
I think what I love too about you is your transparency that just sort of happens, it doesn't feel forced or for show, but genuine. I treasure that as much as a good sense of humor:-)
Both of you have a tenacious love for the Lord and his word, but more impressive is how it is lived out in your love for those around you that have been blessed by your friendship and your leadership.
I know the road ahead is scary, exciting, unnerving, and that you are as ready for it as you will ever be. I also know that while Matt acclimates to being a head pastor (which he will do beautifully!), Rachel, you will be charged with helping your girls adjust and getting your home established all without the "right there" support of your besties and friends here in the Lou.
Just remember you guys, take it ALL "one day at a time". You only have to be and can be in the present moment and then the next one and then the next, but not any more than that. You also still have your support network back here just a call, text, email, tweet, or whatever away.
Fred and I will be in Connecticut to visit Matt and Erin in April and the plan is to come spend a couple of days at the retreat place there and hang out with you guys. We'll see, but I like the sound of it.
Matt, you are tearing my husband's heart apart...he has deeply loved his time with you and it is so hard for him each time someone leaves. There has been lots of that over the years as we have been the ones to stay behind. As much as you sought insight and advice and wisdom from him, know you impacted his life and heart just as much!
Thank you both for allowing God to let your lives "bump up against" ours over these years. None of us ever really realizes the full impact our lives has on others, but it's nice to get glimpses of it once in a while. You have impacted our lives and many others...we love you both!
Posted by Marsha at 3:38 AM