I will not get melancholy. I will not get melancholy…

When a friend told us, “Don’t plan anything for the night of June 21,” we knew something was up. We just didn’t know what. Then came the announcement in MonticelloLive.com about a “reception,” and Carolyn said, “Oh no. I hate being the center of attention.” Having endured a roast before, I was a little nervous too.

However, when we arrived at the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at 7:00 Sunday night, we were unprepared for the diversity of people there and the outpouring of love and laughter.. and tears. From a great video composed of 100s of pictures from our years here (did I ever really have that much hair?!) to a few meaningful speeches, to a massive prayer time for us. Our gratitude for the time God lent us in Monticello has been increasing.

There was the pie from Chips Barbeque sent by my sis and husband in Little Rock. There was two massive cakes. There was a money tree! There were former students, pastors, and a pleasing assortment of Christ-followers from several churches in town.

It was special to be in the new BCM building for which we worked so hard to begin raising funds. It was humbling to hear from folks I respect so much how the Lord had apparently used us in lives beyond our capabilities. It was surprising to know of the coordination behind the scenes to get the word out.

Sunday evening was worshipful for us. It wasn’t because of the undeserved accolades given to us. Rather, it was because the abundant love led to our own increasing gratitude of the God who led us here. We never imagined how precious this paranthesis of life would be.

We came home and put the money tree in the middle of our living room, breaking branches all the way through the house to make it fit. We all sat in a circle on the floor around it, slowly unpinning the money and savoring the cards and letters which we will read over and over to remind us of God’s goodness.

One of them in particular – the Saffold’s – stuck out:

May you leave slowly and come back quickly and often! You always have a place in Monticello. Peace of Christ. ~ Scott, Mistye, Nora Catherine, & Patrick

Philippians 1.3 is an apt description of our increasing gratitude: “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.”

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