17 years. Today marks 17 years that I have lived in a Waverly of my 41 years, the same amount of time I lived in Des Moines from birth until I left for college. About a year ago, I found myself in a frustrating place. Some very dear friends of ours made the decision to plant a new church, and they asked us to consider joining them. It meant packing up our lives here and moving a couple states away.
I was ready. I spent a couple years pretty broken by life and was ready for a fresh start. I wanted to wipe the slate clean and join with friends I had been in ministry with. I got my hopes up. I dreamed of leaving behind what I saw as a couple of terrible years that I just wanted to forget.
Unfortunately, as Matt and I talked about it, I saw that it was not going to happen for us. I was unhappy as I had confidently assumed that it was clearly God leading us in this new direction, and to see it fall apart hurt a lot. I thought my chance for a fresh start was gone and I was going to be stuck in the same frustrating place for the foreseeable future. Stuck not just physically but emotionally and mentally. It’s winter and we just had a lot of snow. I picture getting stuck in the snow, wearing a groove with your tires and not being able to get out no matter how hard you rock the car back and forth, back and forth. I needed and desperately wanted a push out of the rut.
But God. He was stirring my heart, and even as this beautiful opportunity passed right on by, behind the scenes He had not forgotten me. Matt and I started to discuss changing churches. Our kids are growing and getting to an age where friendships become increasingly important. The church we had helped to start was half an hour from our home in another community. It was a very different picture than what I wanted for my kids to experience as they grew and entered the stage of youth group and all its activities and friendships.
One of the best decisions my parents made for our family was changing churches to one with a more vibrant youth group when I was in elementary school. They did it early enough that I could make friends and be established at the new church before entering the teenage years. I could never thank them enough for that decision. So much of my formative teen years was shaped by my youth pastor and his wife who came to that church as I entered eighth grade. The friendships from that church were my lifeline in high school, and all my experiences there led to the moment I felt called to full time ministry and decided to attend Bible college. God chose to use the church we joined and the people there to influence and guide my life for years to come and still now. I held that thought in my heart as I considered the church experience I want for my children through their school years.
We decided to visit a church that had been started by a group from the church where I served as children’s pastor and staff pastor for about 7 years. I really had no idea what to expect from seeing so many people I knew again, but we could not have received a warmer welcome in those first visits. We finally decided to leave the church we had helped start 7 years ago and the wonderful church family there to attend this church back in our own community again.
God has worked in some amazing ways since we decided to join Crosspoint Church. I will take more time to describe it later because it just fascinates me how He works when we have no idea that He is doing anything, and one day, things fall into place that I never knew were even a possibility. He had a plan to give me the push I needed out of my rut. It looks different than I thought it would, but it is beautiful and exactly what I never knew I needed.
Another year has come and gone in Waverly, the town I was going to live in for a year or two. But God had plans I couldn’t see. He still does as He unfolds our lives day by day, showing us just what we need to take the next step forward. And today, I can sincerely say that I am so grateful He kept us in Waverly.