Just over one year ago we moved to a small town in North Carolina. We had never even visited and came knowing 2 souls. Our plan was to stay here for a little while and eventually migrate to a larger city like Greenville, Charlotte, or Asheville. We arrived during a hot, humid August. I had forgotten what humidity felt like. I had forgotten what it was like to get a little rain almost every day. I had forgotten the havoc a teeny tiny little blood sucking bug can wreak on your body. We came full of hope, wonder, and anticipation. We came with dreams of making our own path. What would God have in store for us?
When we learned that we would be moving to North Carolina we prayed for our future church and friends. We prayed that God would place people in our lives whose hearts were prepared to make new friends. We prayed that God would lead us to a church where He was the focus and where we could be welcomed into the ministry. I was hoping for a smaller, intimate church with maybe only a hundred or two people where it would be easy to get connected. But I prayed, above that, that God would lead us where HE wanted us and that He would help me to not be so focused on finding a copy of what we had before.
It took just two Sundays to find our church home. The church was in a transitional phase and we weren’t really sure what was coming up next, but we were both convinced that this was the place God intended for us. These were our friends. This was our church family. We quickly joined a Sunday school class and Wednesday night Bible Study. After a couple months I joined the choir and experienced such joy sitting down to read music again…to sing in a Christmas worship concert again. The men and women I met were so loving and so kind. Due to many health issues and expenses, we were on a tight budget for Christmas and a new friend purchased an amazing gift for my boys that I could never repay, Levi’s preschool offered us a scholarship so he could attend 5 days a week. Friends, family, and teachers brought food, prayed for us, and really invested in us with their time, talents, and love. They even provided extra work opportunities for Josh and his graphic design. I began to babysit and fell in love with the children. The church also offered me a position working in the nursery for Mom’s Morning Out and Sunday morning child care. Every time we turned around God was opening doors and showing us the generosity of His people.
Two weeks ago we found out that we will be moving back to Southern California. This news was met with both excitement and sadness. We are so excited to be back with those we love on the West Coast. We have so many friends and family members to return to. We know we will be met at church with open arms. We know that the boys will get to spend time with their aunt, uncle, cousins, and another set of grandparents. We will be closer to Josh’s work so he can have some face time with his co-workers. They’re more than co-workers….they are our friends…our family. It took me so long to make friends in Southern California that the ones I do have are true and deep. We return with questions of how God will provide for certain needs, but we trust Him because He has always provided for us and has promised to give us what we need. We are eager to continue the ministries we had been involved in before and return having learned so much and grown to hopefully be able to serve in a new capacity.
But we are sad at the same time. We have made some amazing friends. The love I have for these people maybe new, but it is real. I know that, for many, our time here will have been so fleeting that we may be just a passing memory. We may or may not have left a lasting or life-changing impact. We may be the couple that someone says in the future, “Oh…do you remember??” I, on the other hand, have been changed by the people I’ve met here. Each and every child in the nursery, every parent, each choir member… I’ve had the privilege of standing up in front of this group of amazing people and watching them worship God wholly. I see the smiles on their faces each week…hands that are lifted and voices singing united to the God we all love and adore. I’ve made some unexpected friendships and have seen some who give their all each and every single week for the glory of Christ. I have met women who have taken care of babies week after week for two decades. They have devoted so much of their lives to loving these children. I’ve watched them shed tears when the babies graduate on to the next classroom. I’ve listened to them say, “I love this baby so much,” week after week after week. The smiles on their faces when they welcome these precious children assures me that they’re genuine. I’ve never seen so many loved children all in one place. I’ve never seen so many people who were this passionate about a children’s ministry. I came hoping to make a difference in the lives of those I’ve encountered…and I’m the one leaving filled up. I leave with a new love and awareness for just how much a child wants to be loved and held…even if it is just for an hour or two in the nursery each week. I’m leaving with a new passion for the ministry of music. To blend the traditional with the contemporary…to have people of every age joined together in one song…all hearts lifted up. I’m leaving with a new sense of sacrifice as I’ve watched others give of themselves endlessly. I leave having heard a preacher speak the truth full of love and grace…but truth. I leave having experienced how a church with thousands of attendees can feel like an intimate family. I leave having made friends who meet you and say, “we should hang out sometime,” and actually follow through with it! We have met those who would literally give us the clothes off their backs if they thought for one moment that we needed it…who have sacrificed Saturdays and Sundays to help us out. My family and I have been so well loved and embraced that it is beyond words…and we are so THANKFUL.
We have been asked if we regret moving out here. No. We don’t. Not for one second would we want to give up all those we’ve met and all that we have learned here. It was so worth it.
So, as we embark on this exciting new(ish) journey, we ask for your prayers. We ask for peace and a smooth transition. We ask that the boys would adjust well as we return to the place where they had spent most of their lives so far. We pray that we would return and be able to serve in a new way and that we would be able to love others as well as we have been loved. We pray for my dad and step-mom as they will, no doubt, experience deep sadness and grief when we leave…again. We pray that the relationships we have made here would continue on since we have the amazing technology to do so.
There’s no way I can say “Goodbye” to Hendersonville. So, instead, I’ll see y’all real soon.