First, I want to thank the entire Chapel family for being my family for the last four years. I’ve met many people who have moved to the valley (and elsewhere) who describe a period of time where they felt out of place or simply just “new”. This wasn’t the case for Jayla and I in Snowmass Village. From the minute we pulled up to the fire station and struggled to find this elusive “bridge” that we would cross so many times in the coming years, we felt like family. You all invited us to dinner, gave us furniture, and welcomed us into your lives. Sharing life with you has taught me many lessons and I think this was the first one: when Jayla and I stumbled into Snowmass Village you all choose to love us and welcome us before you even knew us. The more I have listened to Robert and Charla preach and the more I have watched you all care for one another the more I have come to feel and know that this is the way that Jesus loves us. He loves before we know Him. He loves before we settle in His community. He loves us first without conditions and without the pretext of reciprocity. I believe this is where we build community. When we welcome, love, and care for people before we know if they are going to welcome, love and care for us (haha, or before we know if they are a local or a visitor!). Thank you for teaching me about community by letting us be in your community.

I had been in Snowmass Village a couple days before I heard of the infamous 8th grade outdoor ed trip. This rite of passage is a backpacking trip leading from many trailheads on this side of the Elk Range to a sacred piece of land close to Marble. Now, I mentioned that I heard of 8th grade ODE but that doesn’t quite explain it. As my new friends were explaining what the trip entailed I was also being asked to join as a chaperone. I remember thinking to myself, “Is this some sort of joke— I mean really, what kind of community has a public school that takes a week off every year to turn itself into a outdoor education guide service?” As you well know, I had a lot to learn about how special this community really is. As I was struggling up West Maroon Pass with all my new young friends I remember witnessing the incredible magnitude that is the Colorado backcountry. You all know what I’m talking about… that moment where the beauty around is so new and so stunning that you at once feel incredibly small but somehow not so small because you are connected to something so big. I at once felt fairly weak and insignificant but also so good because in some way I was related to that hugeness we all call “the view”. The views, whether from the top of the Elk Camp lift in Snowmass, or from the back porch of the Chapel during the balloon festival have become a regular and needed reminder of my place alongside God. Alone, I am nothing special. I’m not as smart as the kids who rock Aspen High School (every single one of you amazes me…). I’m not as good a skiier as any middle schooler I’ve taken out on the hill. And many of the 90 year old people in this town would beat me to the top of any hill on a bike. However, when I stop long enough to view my significance through the lens as someone who is related to the same guy who built everything that is wonderful I feel pretty good about my place in this world. We are all Children of the King and His Kingdom is wonderful. Thank you for helping me learn that my true value comes more from who I am and who cares for me, than what I do well on my own.

I consider you all family. Thank you for all the ways that you have supported and loved Jayla and I. We will miss you. Until next time!