"We sure do miss you," said a friend from our former church as we hugged the other day.
"We sure do miss you, too," I replied, "but...we know we are where God wants us to be, and we are loving it there."
That's pretty much the one year update in a nutshell! We love and miss our "old church", but we love our new church and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's where God wants us to worship and serve and be family. We are beyond blessed in these two churches that God has allowed us to be part of, and in the pastors who preach the truth without reservation and who have been used to ground us in the Word.
A Year? Really?
Crazy to think that it was a year ago this week that we moved our membership to our little church in the pasture. In some ways, it seems like it's been way longer than that...a lot has happened in that year! And in some ways, it seems like it's just been the blink of an eye.
I shared the story of how our adventure began here. If you haven't read it, feel free to pop over and get caught up. It's a good story. :) I've been wanting to do a bit of an update for a while now, and I decided this anniversary was the perfect time to do that.
I'm not sure where to even begin. I've shared a little along the way (here and here, among others). So far this year we've had several "events" (including Fall Block Party, Community Thanksgiving Meal, and Gospel Singing), and numerous fellowships. We've packed "Buckets of Love" for tornado victims and sent boxes of Bibles and other materials to Arab Christians in Pakistan. We've started Sunday night classes for youth and children (using the same AiG curriculum used in our adult Bible Study), and we've taken a break from those classes for the summer.
We're no longer the newest members. :) We've celebrated another family joining our little body, and God continues to knit us together as a true family. We've had a number of visitors and look forward to more (visitors and new members!)
This time last year we'd never have expected that less than six month later we'd be having our first funeral. The sudden, unexpected Homegoing of our dear friend Roy rocked us to the core, but God has shown and continues to show Himself faithful. No matter how many years we are there, Grace will never be quite the same without those twinkling eyes, that wonderful laugh, and the wet willies for all the kids.
Last summer's church change was quite sudden. Within a matter of a few weeks, we went from being totally settled in a church family we loved to realizing that God was saying, "Go, now", to a new place.
I used to read my friend Sandy's blog and think how wild it was that they went to two different churches...one on Sundays and one on Wednesday nights. I saw her at a homeschool moms' meeting in September and told her that I had been laughing that I had turned into her...a two church mom (which she isn't anymore, by the way. :))
We continued with Wednesday night activities at Oak Cliff until the end of the year. (Grace doesn't have Wednesday night church.) The little girls participated in the children's Christmas musical, and I continued to help with children's choir. Bayley and I sang in Keyboards at Christmas. This summer, the kids and I did VBS at Oak Cliff (as I had promised Mrs. Margaret last summer that I would do crafts again this year:)) and our family participated in OCBC's Family Day Camp in June (for which Bro. Gary preached one night. :))
Peter and Bayley continue to participate in Wednesday night youth classes, and additional youth activities throughout the year as it works with our schedule.
Unlike Abram, when God called him to leave Ur, we knew where we were going when we left Oak Cliff. We were headed to a church we'd already come to love, with a pastor we knew was a solid preacher of the Word. Grace already had a special place in our hearts, and we were excited about the ministry there. In spite of that, it was definitely a step of faith. We would never have left the church we'd loved for 16 years except that God said, "Go", and we knew we had to obey.
As I mentioned in last year's post, one of the most difficult things for me about leaving was leaving my youth girls' Sunday School class. I knew that I had been called to teach that class 2 years before, and I had planned to keep teaching it until Ammah Grace graduated!
When we first began to realize that God seemed to be leading us to go to Grace, I brought up my concern about my class to Bro. Kent. He said, "If God is leading you to Grace...and I believe He is...then that is not your concern. Lyndel and I will deal with that...you do what God is telling you to do."
That was the last of the things holding us back. I'd already made peace with leaving the choir. We had agonized over how hard the move would be for our two oldest children, but we had gotten solid counsel from both Bro. Kent and Bro. Gary in that area. God had given peace that this was His will, for our whole family, and they had both reminded us that God would use this for good and for blessing even for Peter and Bayley, if we obeyed.
As I prayed for God to send...quickly...the perfect person to love and teach these girls I'd come to think of as "mine", one name kept coming to mind: my friend Kathy. I just kept telling myself that was a crazy thought. Kathy and her husband had been preschool division directors for many years, and I knew that Kathy felt about preschool somewhat the same way I'd felt about my girls' class...she was going to be there forever.
But God...Don't you just love those words?? I love them more and more the older I get and the deeper I get in the Word. God's ways are so not our ways, and His plans are always SO much higher than ours!
Kathy subbed for me the first couple of weeks we were gone, with Justin covering the preschool department. Then, quite suddenly and in a rather fruit-basket turnover fashion, there was a new preschool division director, and Kathy and Justin were both teaching in the youth department.
I love the ways God works! That class has about doubled in size since I left, and those girls love Mrs. Kathy (and she loves them!) And God has given me total peace about not being there.
When God calls us to obedience, He always provides what we need to obey (even if we sometimes don't see that provision until after we've taken the first step!)
What Does the Future Hold?
So now begins the second year of this adventure. We are excited about plans to constitute as an independent church in the next few months. Bro. Gary is doing a sermon series on Sunday nights on Baptist Distinctives: What is a Baptist Church? It's actually more "What is a Biblical Church?" and I'm thankful that there is no doubt that if there's ever a conflict between the two, we'll go with Biblical over Baptist. (We're not necessarily a "typical" Baptist church in some ways, and we like that. :))
We love our Grace Lavaca family, and we are excited about continuing to learn and grow and worship and fellowship alongside them. We're looking forward to our body continuing to grow over the coming year(s). We are excited about what God is doing in and through our church in unexpected and unplanned ways. We are thankful for opportunities to fellowship and serve with our Oak Cliff family occasionally, too, and for our kids to learn that "church family" transcends the walls of a building or names on a membership roll.
We have no idea what the future holds. We certainly had no idea what this year would hold! But we know this. We know Who holds the future. We know that He's had it all planned since before the foundation of the earth. We know He called, and we went. :) We know that we have been blessed beyond measure this year. I come home on Sundays with a heart overflowing with God's abundance! We know that whatever this year holds, it will be for His glory, and for our good, and we're excited to see what He is going to do from here!
Are you local and looking for a church home? We'd love to have you at Grace Baptist Lavaca. Feel free to email me through the sidebar widget for more info!
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