I kind of went the whole day today not really thinking about it… Today was Wednesday, so a lot of my day is focused on meeting with interns and preparing for youth. I mean, I thought about it a bit, looked at some pictures, shared my wife’s post… but it wasn’t until about 12:30am that it really hit me. I’m currently up late preparing for our Youth Pastors Lunch that we’re hosting (about 10 hours from the time I’m writing this), so naturally I’m thinking back to the one we did last April – the one where, just days before, we tragically lost some of our best friends, Josh & Vanessa Ellis, along with their baby Hudson.
A year ago today.
I guess I’m more vulnerable late at night… Suddenly I’m flooded with so many memories. The time Noelle and I preached some of our first messages ever at their camp 8 years ago (a camp at which they were both single – maybe I can take some of the credit for bringing them together? Maybe…). The time they told us at our house that they were pregnant. The time Noelle and I drove to their house – against their wishes – and told them we were pregnant. The many times we’d eat barely-decent happy hour and talk about our frustrations and joys with our youth ministries. So many good memories.
It sucks that we don’t get to have any more of these. No more Gibby whining that Hudson won’t play with him. No more hearing Vanessa’s super loud laugh. No more hearing Josh’s Homestar Runner voice.
But as much as Josh & Vanessa left us too early, they also left us with a lot. Every good thing about them was more than just a front, it was who they were. It was a disposition. As I’m reflecting on their lives and on this last year, here are a few dispositions they had that I’m reminded *again* to live by.
1. BE REALLY FUN. Laugh a lot, be funny, get over yourself, make dad jokes. For Josh & Vanessa, funny was a disposition. It made the stuff that was not-so-fun less of a big deal.
2. BELIEVE THE BEST. When you’re in ministry, people can tend to frustrate you. Especially high schoolers. But Josh & Vanessa were resilient. The way they spoke about their best leaders and their most frustrating students was the same. They believed that the best was yet to come. The funny thing is, it caused that to happen in those people!
3. STAY COMMITTED. These guys were so committed. To each other, to their church, to their students, to the 253 area, to God. And I think it’s why there’s a ton of fruit that has followed them. I want to be that way.
4. GENUINELY LOVE PEOPLE. Love well. It was their life message. And it was real. Not fake, not forced, not sporadic.
I’m writing this blog because they loved well. Noelle is an amazing mom largely because of the inspiration she got from seeing Vanessa with Hudson. The heart of our youth ministry is what it is in part because of the love they imparted to us the many times they hung out with us. I hope to do the same.
Miss you guys!