I've been reading through Psalms this year, and it talks a lot about rehearsing all the great things God has done for you. And since we're heading out of Phoenix today, I figured it would be a great time to sit down and think over everything the God has brought me through and taught me in Phoenix (even though I wrote this like 2 weeks ago...).
When we first got here, I hated you. In fact, I hated you for about two or three years. And I had some pretty good reasons. Growing up in Virginia where there's a lot of trees and ya know east coast vegetation, I thought you were the ugliest thing I had ever seen. Virginia had eight Presidents. Arizona had none. (Although I was probably John McCain's strongest 10 year old campaigner. Smh fifth grader Ashley) Phoenix was hot and the grass in my backyard was so dry and spiky it cut my feet. (Literally. This is not hyperbole.) I also had no friends that first summer. When your parents are youth pastors, all your friends are in church, but when you're starting a church from scratch, there's not really anyone.
As I grew older, I learned to love you more. Sure it was hot, but I learned to swim, and rain is always fun. I don't think my attitude toward you suddenly changed, but eventually I realized just how beautiful you as a city and Arizona as a whole were. There are giant mountains, red rocks, snow, rivers, canals, and just everything!
Although many of my friends through the years have physically moved, I've had constant friends. The people I thought would always be there. The people who I said "God you can take anybody, but leave me them!" But they left. It was hard. I cried. A lot. But it got better. I still miss them, but it doesn't hurt as bad anymore. God really taught me about his love, care, and sovereignty through those times. He also gave me some of my closest friends through them!
God has provided so much for us here. There were all the church buildings, the church members, the friends, the houses, more than we could have hoped! God has done for us "above all that I could ask or think" in this city! It will be a little strange not having a direct part of my dad's job like I did when he was a pastor. Ya know, kids class teacher, nursery worker, pianist, etc. I'm so glad that my parents showed me at a young age how rewarding, and yes, fun serving the Lord can be.
Finally, Phoenix, you don't know how hard it's been to leave you. I've had to give you and my love for you to God over and over. A month ago, I wasn't ready to leave. But God's been preparing me, and I think I'm ready as long as I don't think about it too long. (Waking up at 7 to landscapers may help a bit too :P)
We've been saying goodbyes these past two weeks, and while that's been hard I've realized just how blessed I am to have friends and memories that make saying goodbye so painful! God truly provided for us in the way of friends and "Jesus people" when we needed them!
God has just blessed us soooooo much these past 11 years! I know He's gonna do the same in Nashville :D
Anyway Phoenix, it's been fun. I'll still be a Sun Devil (though I'm not sure how that's gonna go down in the Bible Belt :P ), and I still love you so much. You'll always have a special place in my heart, and I hope to visit often!
Your favorite Phoenician,
I'd so appreciate your prayers for safety, strength, and emotional stability these next few days as we drive across this great country. At least I'll read for like the first time in a month... Y'all are the best!!