Monday, February 13, 2012

Saying, "Hello" Also Means Saying, "Goodbye" Part 1

Starting a new church is very exciting; but there is one aspect that most people do not discuss as often and that is there is something we are saying goodbye to.

My dad just recently told my girls the story about saying goodbye to me when he dropped me off at college.  He told them how hard it was for him and how he choked back the tears as I walked off to my dorm. He went on to tell them that it was one of the hardest moments of his life to leave me in another state and drive home.

Our wonderful church family!
The other side of that story is the young college girl walking away from her dad to a new life, new experiences, and new friends.  I remember very vividly that walk to my dorm.  I did not look back at my dad for fear that I would burst in to tears and beg him to stay.  I knew that college was God's plan for me; but I was going to dearly miss my family.  I remember watching him drive away and tried to control the tears that wanted to run down my face.

Our awesome youth group!
We will be saying goodbye to our current church in a few months.  Our church has become our family here in our small town in northern Michigan.  We have worked in two churches before coming here and both were only for a couple years.  They were great places, we loved them as well and they were full of wonderful lifetime friends.  However, I recently discovered that I have NEVER been in a church as long as I have been here.  They have become my "Home" church.   This is basically the only church my kids have ever known.  Two of my children have been dedicated here.  My girls have been baptized here.  My daughter was crowned an Honor Star here.  My kids have their best friends here. We have seen our youth group grow up and become wonderful adults.  We have been a part of graduations, weddings, prayed through sickness, sat in waiting rooms of many hospitals, cried with friends, and hugged through funerals.  We have lived life here for almost 10 years. We love our church.  We love our family! 

Christmas program at our church.
We have been truly blessed.  I have to brag about my family.  I have never been in a church that has had so much unity in my life.  They are full of compassion and love the work of Christ.  They have such a strong heart for missions and the lost.  Any problems we have had have been so small that they have not interfered with anything.  We have the most loving church I have ever been a part of.  Frankly, I have never heard of such a church in my life; but here we have been for the last 10 years.  They are my family and my friends.

I love, love, love Girl's Ministries!
Our church is going to be very involved with our new church; but it does not change the fact that we will not live here anymore. We have already gone through a string of "last time" events and I have had to choke back the tears over it all.  Events like: our last honor star crowning, our last STL youth service, our last Girl's Ministry Sleepover, our last Thanksgiving dinner, our last fun Christmas program, our last beautiful Christmas Eve service, our last always fun youth Christmas Party and just recently our last Missions Banquet.  There will be many "last times" in the days to come.  As our last Sunday approaches (sadly much faster than I think it will) it will become more and more hard to keep back the tears.

Wednesday night with the students.
I feel like that kid in college, with this whole church planting adventure.  I know God is calling us and I am truly excited about this phase of life.  I feel like our church is like my dad.  They are thrilled about God's calling on us and are excited about this new adventure; but are going to miss us deeply.  It is the next phase of life we all need to go through; but it does not mean that it does not come with some pain.

So, this is how I will end part one of this post....

God this is our prayer for our church. Thank you so much for allowing us the honor of being a part of such a beautiful family of Christ.  Thank you for giving us lifetime friends.  Thank you for teaching us what true unity looks like.  Thank you for letting us see what a healthy church is like.  Thank you for these precious, precious people you have given to us.  We have been changed for the better; because of there beautiful hearts. Thank you for the great things You are going to do in there lives; because they have heard and have listened to the call to spread the "Good News".  Bless them Lord with all that you can give.  They have blessed us in more ways then they will ever know, thank you for that, Lord.  May this verse ring true in their lives...

Numbers 6:24-25

  ‘May the LORD bless you
      and protect you.
  May the LORD smile on you
      and be gracious to you. 
John in the Dominican, with some of youth, on a missions trip.

Thank you Lord for the beautiful body of Christ!

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