Where to begin...
It has been hard this past week to hold back the tears. And this morning, Sunday morning, it is impossible.
Today is the last day our little church will meet together. We have closed our doors. And it is painful.
Almost ten years ago, after being on a Foursquare church plant for five years, Kenny and I decided that it was time to find a church that was a better fit for our rapidly growing, home-education-based family. And we settled in a place that was filling up with beautiful, messy, real families. Families like ours. Kids ran around in second-hand clothing, and Moms stayed home and taught them and shopped for bargains and searched for ways to run their homes better. Both parents grew in their knowledge of the Word and in their love for God. My children, for the most part, didn't have to act or put on a different face on Sunday mornings. They just hung out with their wonderful friends, and soon, we all became family.
Many seasons have passed since those first days. Some breathtakingly sweet. Some unbearably painful. Pastors and friends have come and gone and come again. We have learned so much. Grown up so much. Some of our friendships are lost. Some are still breathing, but barely. Many are rich and vibrant. The fear-filled parenting and wife-ing is falling by the wayside, and life has come into my home again after so much trial and error. The fantastic joy of teaching my children at home is returning to me, after years of discouragement and confusion.
And our friends at church...we knew there was change in the air. One by one we saw our numbers decreasing, and we knew. But still, we had hoped, perhaps enough will not move on. Perhaps we will all remember what we have here, in our little congregation. We had hoped. But this morning, as we sat around, facing each other, or not facing each other, as was my case... It was hard to look. We shared our thoughts, and we came to a conclusion. Really, the conclusion had already been made. We're closing up shop. This church started by one man named Scott and finished by another, was moving on. And I just can't stop the tears. Because this is my family.
I know many say that we will always be family, and I know that is true. And I know many say that we are a part of the world-wide Church of our Lord Jesus, and I know that is also true. But, still. This was where our older children grew up and are growing up. These were the ones who encouraged us, and called us forward in our journeys. They pitched in, in time of need. And they graciously received our giving as well. This was where we knew we were not alone, and our family size wasn't weird-it was normal and fun, and our quirky, bumpy ways were fine with everyone else. And their quirky, bumpy ways were fine with us.
So here I type, sorrowful for us all. And dreading the changes. Watching my children weep today was the worst.
The sun has now come through the clouds outside, and it is near-blinding me with it's light and it's warmth on this winter day. And somehow, under all the sorrow and uncertainty, I find hope. And I find great comfort. Not in my circumstances. In the goodness of my Lord. My Lord is alive and well and He will not forsake us. He sees us, hears us, and walks with us. He will answer our prayers, and lead us onward and upward. He will provide for us. He will show us the good in this new season that has come our way. He will teach us to comfort others in their time of loss. And as we walk forward, uncertain and raw, I believe He will also give to us a fresh vision for the days to come. Perhaps something we had never even thought about before.
"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort." 2 Cor. 1:3