By Amanda Easterday

Over the past six years, I have called Living Water my church home. I have made connections, built relationships, participated in events, seen children grow, seen families come and go, attended worship, helped lead worship and Children’s Church, and grown my family here.

Yesterday, Living Water celebrated my husband. My husband. Paul Easterday.

He has faithfully served the church, the families, and (most tremendously) the youth in this church, along with St. Luke and University Lutheran Chapel, for the last six years.

He has laughed with them. He has cried with them. He has been awkward. He has been goofy. He has been serious. He has been adventurous.

He has taken them to Mexico. He has taken them to Cedar Point. He has led them in Bible studies. He has led them through Confirmation.

And you know what? It was hard. Ministry is hard. It’s hard on the minister. There are times of confusion, frustration, and doubt. There are times when there is a dip in attendance, and you wonder if you should even keep having events.

And do you know who else ministry is hard on? The minister’s family. His home. His wife. His kids. It’s hard. There are long days. There are late nights. There are mission trips, conferences, Sunday mornings, youth events, meetings, and more.

There are unplanned calls, texts, -emails, meetings. There were many weeks when I was the only parent at bedtime. There were times when he wasn’t home for dinner. There were times when he was home after I was in bed. There were times when he missed holidays. It is hard.

Ministry is hard.

But that’s not why I’m typing this. Yes, ministry is hard. Yes, being the wife of the minister (or church worker) is hard. However, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

You see, I had a wonderful church FAMILY to help me through it. Those relationships I made throughout our six years here helped me through those late nights, those mission trips where my hubby was gone, those holidays that he missed. You. You helped.

You. You helped.

Sure, you may not have physically been present in my home to help me, but you sent me words of encouragement. You hugged me at church. You asked me how I was doing. You told me you were praying for me. You loved my children so I could focus on the worship service that morning.

You loved my children so I knew they were being cared for during the post-service chaos. You encouraged my husband in his ministry. You trusted him with your children and their faith journeys. You helped support him in funding for youth events and mission trips.

You prayed for him. You loved him. You loved us all. And I don’t doubt that the love will continue, even as we leave for Arkansas.

Yesterday, during the farewell service, I wanted to stand up in front of all of you and tell you this: I am thankful for each one of you. I may have hidden from time to time. I may have been quiet from time to time. I may have acted busy or rushed because having interaction sometimes makes me anxious.

I am thankful for each one of you.

BUT, I want you to know that I have seen your love. I have seen your care. I have heard your encouragement. I have seen you hug my children and my husband.

I have read your cards, your e-mails, your Facebook posts. I may have been quiet, shy, and introverted, but know that I see you as my family. I always will, wherever God leads us.

You will always be my first church home with my husband and girls. You will always be the church where my daughters were baptized. You will always be the church that began Paul’s professional career in youth and family ministry.

You. Living Water, St. Luke, and ULC.

Thank you.