In just two short weeks our family will say goodbye to the church family we’ve grown to love. Nine years of our life have been spent here. Most of my children grew up in this church. My first daughter was married here and gave us two grandsons. Eight of my children graduated from this school. My daughter and son-in-law served with us here on staff. All of this we have shared with our church family.
It is a hard thing to say goodbye to friends who have over the years become more like family. It’s hard to say when that moment actually happens – perhaps somewhere between joy and suffering. It is good to make friends, but it’s even better when they become family. Family to me is a person who has knit their heart to mine. Family is who you tell your hopes and dreams to or share your burden or hurt with. When suffering is shared, hearts are melded. It’s not in the telling, but the receiving. Your burden must be received and carried. Your load becomes lighter when you’ve shared it with someone who actually cares. I have experience this here. Some people call that person their best friend, but how do you do that when you have more than a dozen? You don’t have to share my blood line to become family. But then, that’s obvious when you look at our family. When we adopted, it was like taking a friend and telling them we wanted to be a part of their future.
So, we are at a close here where we serve. God is calling us away, but we can’t take our friends with us – the friends who have become family. This doesn’t seem right, but our ways are not God’s ways. We cannot know what God will do with the love that must be fragmented and sent on it’s way to develop in the hearts of others through us. It does make the yearning for heaven grow stronger where we will never have to part from those we love, those in our homemade family.
We’ve spent almost a decade here in this church. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve rejoiced and we’ve grieved. Some have loved us, some have cast us aside. Still, we’ve taken immeasurable treasure away with us that could only have been discovered here – to use in another place, at another time, to grow God’s family. I have to admit, God had to pry my fingers off one at a time, for I held on very tightly to this ministry we now call family. But I am not ashamed of that. I think it right to hold on to those whom God brings into our path, those we vow to serve – to hold tightly and not want to let them go. Only then, when my fear of losing them is so very great do I claim them. And, most likely, if you are reading this, you are counted among them – my very precious family.
You have been used by our Lord to change and shape us, to point us to Him and gain a better understanding of who He is. You have comforted us, encouraged and uplifted us. He’s used you to challenge us, to push us to pursue excellence, to become better in His service. Thank you, my church family. I will miss you beyond what I am able to express.