March 31, 2019

Today I went to church. The church I have grown up in. The church that has helped mold my life. The church that is family as sure as my genetic family.

I started attending this church when I was in the 6th grade. We were attending a small country church, and my parents thought the bigger ‘city’ church would offer more opportunities for sister and I. And, it did. Southside quickly became ‘our church’ and the people there became family.

I still remember the first time I attended. I remember the sweet lady who was teaching…she became one of the dearest people in my life, (JCK). I sang in the youth choir in this church. I went on youth trips with the other kids. I learned about missions in this church…I was a GA and an Acteen. I stood before the church in my cap and gown when I graduated from high school. I left for a few years to go to college. I got married in this church. My husband and I raised our boys here. Many of the same people who loved and poured into my life, did the same for my boys. They followed through doing some of the same things I did…youth trips, lock-ins, VBS, youth choir…and then they stood in front of the church in their cap and gown when they graduated from high school.  They were all 3 baptized in this church.

I served in this church in many capacities through the years…mostly with children and preschool. I learned to love missions through the influence of my parents and godly women who taught me well. I became a leader in some of the same groups I once was taught in. My mom and I arranged 14 mission trips for the ladies in our church. She was very active in the mission teaching at Southside. My Pop was always a deacon and a leader in many ways, especially in missions. My sister and her family were as involved as we were. Sister serves as pianist even today. So, my church has been an extension of my own family.

In 2009, things changed. Mom left us to live with Jesus, quite unexpectedly. Our church family was there for us and helped us all through this difficult time. There were so many people who loved my Mom. It was hard to go back to church without her there…sitting with Pop on the 4th row from the front on the right side.

There were some other heart breaking incidents that occurred in our church soon after Mom passed. But God provided grace and strength for all involved. He knew it all along and allowed it, and it has been used for His glory.

Today, I went to church for the first time since my Pop died. A little hard…but, expected. The last time I was in our sanctuary, his casket was lying in front of the altar. Today, my immediate family at Southside numbered 3. Where once there had been 15 of us. Now, we are down to 4 active members. The others are all actively serving the Lord in their own churches.  And my Mom, my Pop, and my Mother -in -law all worship in Heaven.

I feel sort of a deep sense of regret when I look around the congregation and see those that are missing…who have gone on to Glory. I remember them so fondly, and with great love. I see many of those dear saints that I looked up to for so long, sitting and listening and worshipping. They are still encouraging and teaching us how to be faithful until…

I love my church family. I love those who are still here and those that attend elsewhere. I love those that are worshipping at the feet of Jesus today. The bond that was formed many years ago stands strong because it was a bond formed of love. Love of God first and love of others. Love that was a serving love…the older teaching the younger…and the younger becoming the teacher, in due time. And so it will continue.

My church looks different that it did 10 years ago. And, in another 10 years, it will look even more different. And, so it goes. Things change. People die. Families take different paths. It’s just change. But if things don’t change, they die.

My thoughts are tumbling over and over themselves in my mind as I write…so this post may be a little discombobulated. That seems to happen to me more and more, the older I get. I think there are just a lot of ‘thinks’ that need to get thought and dissected and put into perspective.

All it boils down to is…I love my church family…those here and those elsewhere. I miss my Mom and Pop  and Don’s Mom being in church with me. I miss my boys being in church with me. But, I am happy in my heart for the legacy left by the many Saints I was, and continue to be, blessed by.

May God continue to bless the church on the corner of Cottonwood Road and Appletree Street.