As many of you now know, Steven and I have come through a major transition in our life. After 8 years of service in Middle School Ministry at a local church Steven is now working a part time job at St. Louis Smoothie and building his full time therapy practice at Crossroads Christian Counseling Center. This has been an interesting transition to say the least. I have been thinking about writing a post about our ‘transition’ for a while but didn't exactly know what to say. Our transition has not been easy. There were some painful moments that led to this transition and a great amount of loss. I am beginning to tear up as I write this post. While Steven enjoys his current work and we clearly see the Lord’s provision for our family, we our grieving the loss of what used to be and clinging tightly to the Lord for a new chapter in the Dalbey family.
Here is a brief history: Steven and I were married in 2003. Before our wedding day, the Senior Pastor of a Church and close family friend asked Steven if he would consider applying for the Middle School position. After some discussion, thoughts and prayers we declined. This was hard but we didn’t think we were ready to jump into ministry so soon after getting married. A few months went by, we entered our married life together, and we saw this pastor/friend at a conference. We inquired about the position and if they had found someone to fill the job. We found out that they were having trouble finding the right person for the job. Steven and I decided to talk and pray about him applying for the job. About a week later Steven applied for the job, had an interview and was offered the job. Wow! Our life together in ministry began. We had some wonderful years doing Middle School Ministry. We loved our team, we loved the students, we loved the families and we loved the Church. We were happy. Sure, we had some bumps along the way and it was hard to connect with people from such a large Church, but we were happy. Katrina’s relationship with girls deepened, Steven connected well with the guys and the youth ministry grew. What started as 20 middle school students in a small room with no air conditioning in the basement of a school grew to about 75 or more students meeting in a bigger air conditioned room. We also saw the high school ministry grow and many students grow to understand what it meant to believe and trust in Jesus.
Here is one of the first group pictures taken in 2004. We are in the small, no air conditioned room.
Here we are 2 years later (2006) is a larger room.
Just another random group picture I think from 2007
Here is our group in 2009 - one of my favorite trips
Here is the last group picture with Steven and I. It was taken last year (2011)
Fast forward to 2010. Some changes in the youth ministry started to take place. Our dear friend, Andrea, who had worked in the youth ministry for many years moved to Michigan with her husband. Our dear friend, Jay, who had been on staff with the senior high for 5 years moved to Illinois to take a new position at another Church. Some difficult things took place and I resigned from my beloved job at the Church as the administrative assistant to the student ministry. About that time it was clear that Steven was not doing well and the support that once existed for him was no longer present. He was asked to ‘transition’ out of his job in the summer of 2011 and his last day was in December. 8 years. 8 years was now over.
I think our whole family is adjusting to our ‘new’ way of life. Steven now works 4 long 12 hour days. He no longer will sit and read and prepare youth group and Sunday school talks. He isn’t calling to make reservations for a trip, but is often checking his messages from clients who need his help. A few weeks ago Preston asked if we could take him to the place daddy works so that he could play the drums. He was talking about the youth room. We can’t really go back to the youth room any more. Preston is still trying to understand. Oh yes, we helped paint that youth room. We helped clean out the closet and our hand prints are on the wall. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent in that room. If I had to guess I would say about 2000 hours or about 83 days’ worth of time was spent in that room. I have memories of talking with students in that room. Laughing, dancing, decorating, and even crying with students in that room. Now, we can visit daddy at the smoothie shop. This is nice, but different.
While Peyton doesn’t really know or understand what is going on, Preston is keenly aware of the transition. I can tell that it has been really hard on him. He keeps asking to see his ‘friends’. This would include youth group kids like Nathan, Peter, Max, Kaylie, Rachel, Tom, Maggie, etc… We still see these kids, but not every week. Some of these kids don’t attend the youth group anymore…sad. So much has changed. So much has changed. Preston is also aware that he doesn’t see his friends from his ‘old’ Sunday school class and many of his friends from his weekly mom’s day out program are starting school and not around anymore. While we look forward to Preston making new friends at our new Church and starting at his new school this fall, I can only imagine what this transition may be like for a young child who has spent his entire life to this point as a Youth Group baby. Oh yes, he was the first male youth group baby in 15 years, or as far back as we are aware. Preston is also aware that mommy and daddy have been sad. He has seen us cry. He has seen us upset and confused. Our little intuitive, sensitive and caring boy knows that something is different. We have tried to explain things to him. We have tried to tell him that daddy has a new job and that we are trying to love and forgive those who have hurt us, this must be a lot for a 3 year old. Prayers for Preston are appreciated.
I never expected this transition would hurt so much. Our grief has been great. I never imagined I could cry as much as I have. An area we are especially sad about is that we have lost relationship with many people. Not seeing people on a weekly basis means you don’t feel like you know people as well as you used to. We lost knowing many names and seeing many familiar faces around church. We lost connection with many who loved and cared for us for many years. I remember when I was struggling to get pregnant and the elders from the Church came and laid hands on me and prayed for me. After I conceived they gave me a big shower of love and gifts for our son, Preston. This was a blessing and I miss those men and woman who cared for me. Some have asked if Steven and I would return to that Church at some point. Sadly, we don’t think this is possible. After our difficult transition, some hurt, and a desire to volunteer with students, we don’t think we could go back. It doesn’t seem ideal to volunteer in the ministry you used to lead when so much of what you created and worked hard to achieve has either been changed or no longer exists. Oh, we also miss going on youth trips. I miss teaching dance class at Spring Storm, driving a golf cart at the Zone or playing games on a charter bus for a mystery trip. I miss sleepovers at my house and summer camping trips. Steven misses hanging out with guys at Starbucks and laser tag events. I can’t speak for Steven, but I know that I feel like a part of my life is missing. I am adjusting to a ‘new normal’. I know this will take time, as grief always takes time, but it is still hard.
Steven and I decided to start attending a new Church. We joined a few weeks ago. This is the church we used to attend. We met at this Church 12 years ago and have sweet memories of friends and loved ones. Preston is slowly adjusting and making friends. I am learning new names and recognizing new faces. Peyton is happy and we could not be more thankful for this. Steven and I joined a small group and are thankful for their support and care. We plan to get involved with the youth group starting this summer. Sure, we look happy and we are doing relatively well (all things considered) but we know that we will continue to look on our experience with many feelings, emotions and reflections.
Why am I writing this post? I am writing this to share about our family, to share about how we are doing. I think it’s easy to look at our blog and at the sweet pictures of our kids or hear about some fun activities and think that everything is great with the Dalbey family. While we are doing well, there has been a lot going on. We are thankful to those who have supported us and cared for us during this time of transition. We are thankful to those who have reached out to us even though we don’t attend the same church. This helps remind me that I haven’t been abandoned even though I have felt that way at times. I think these experiences help you learn about who your real friends are, what is most important in life and how you may be growing and learning as a person. Our family is going to continue moving forward.