Sunday, January 31, 2016

Dear NLCF, this ones for you.

I've typed this up a dozen different ways and I cant seem to find a way to make it flow nicely so ill just come out and say it. You have loved me and my family so well and without knowing it your love has healed many wounds I never even knew I had. I don't know how to tell you that when we pass by one another each week. I see so many of your faces and I remember all these beautiful moments of really good love you've shown and a major weakness I have is not being able to show appreciation as well as I should, so if I may just take a moment id love to explain just how you've affected me

I doubt anyone knows this but the day Ferrill and I knew God was calling us to be on staff at NLCF I actually cried. Not a happy cry, an ugly one. My family was in town visiting and after telling them id gone away to our bedroom to have a few minutes to myself. 30 or more minutes later Ferrill walked in and found me sitting in the back of our closet crying like a child. You see we had been evangelist traveling and ministering in different churches up until now, wed never set out to be on staff anywhere ever.Ive never been an insecure person but I was so insecure about what it meant to be on staff as a pastor. and I myself am a preachers kid. Without over sharing too much I will say that all I knew about church was risk. My own home growing up was unbalanced, and almost each time wed return home from traveling I was grateful to not be on staff at a church. Pastors were exhausted, so eager to please everyone, wife's were often bitter, resentful, and neglected. Church was.....hmmmm what did I call it. Dangerous. To me church was a dangerous place. When I cried in my closet that day I remember feeling so threatened by you. Id watched close friends, even my own family members sacrifice their identify and often joy to become this person they felt the church told them to be. I witnessed countless times as men's egos grew with attendance as their love for God and family were exchanged for a desire for ministry. Church was a dangerous place, I had no good examples of how it could be done well and God was calling us to it.

So when we arrived I braced myself for your criticisms, but I heard of none. I was prepared to fight for my marriage when you inevitably tried to take too much of my husbands time, but it was never necessary. Then I guarded my heart like a shield when we told you of our adoption expecting your unwelcomed words of caution. Your responses shocked me every time.

Instead this was what you all did. (oh geeez... let me just quickly grab a tissue.I can feel it already) Instead your leadership put no expectations on me as ferrills wife. I was given the freedom to ask God where I should be in each season. Often staff were away attending their children's activities. Only once had I ever known a head pastor not attend his own staff meeting because it was his sons Birthday and he was taking the day off. I have watched you do nothing but praise my husband for his service to this congregation. But for me personally this big moment was with my daughter. If I could have had it my way we would have just shown up one day with a new addition. I prefer to be private. My heart truly struggled sharing the journey to adopt, but God knew we would need you. And we did. You see, YOU helped me become a mom. You watched us with love go through that process and your love and kindness changed me. You shared our excitement, or joy, our loss our hurt. You stopped me in the hallways and spoke life over us and with each moment a wall in my heart got weaker and weaker I remember each one of you during that season and when she was finally here your response was so incredible. Your prayers, your giving, your love for us gave me the greatest gift I've yet to ever receive on this earth. You, in a way, made my dreams come true. The very ones id dreaded. The people who threatened me and made me cry in a closet have done nothing but give me grace and show kindness and all I can say is thank you. I know one day when I look back at my life this church will hold one of the sweetest places in my heart, in so many ways it already does.

You know when The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians about love (1 cor. 13:4-8) he wasn't sharing vows between a husband and wife as we often use it now, he wrote it to the church. He was teaching them how to behave towards one another, so that the church might grow and fulfill its purposes. Every time im at a wedding (and we go to a ton) I always think of you. I think of how you all have loved us so well and how privileged we are to be here. I think of how im starting to understand this beautiful idea called church, and how blessed I am to be a part. So as Ferrill's wife and Finley's mom, from the bottom of my heart I thank you. May the next 5 years be as fruitful as the first.

Love is Patient and kind.
It wont envy or boast.
It is not prideful and does not dishonor.
It isn't self seeking, angry and keeps no record of wrong.
It hates what is evil and loves truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.