It’s been over 3 years since I stepped down from my position on staff at Church on the Rock. A long process of searching my heart and healing for my mind, body and soul, began. What a journey that has been! I wasn’t at first, but I became extremely grateful for that season. A season of discovery in who I am, discovering love and connection with my family and learning to let go and receive God’s heart for me.
To say that I’m grateful for this season would be an understatement. I still have so much to learn but what He has done in my heart and understanding over these last 3 years has shifted so much in my life.
And so there I was, having just returned from a month in Peru (another life changing experience!) and I walked into a church in Anchorage to visit a friend on staff there. Full of excitement about my trip and full of the joy of what God had been doing…I didn’t see it coming. I just wasn’t tuned in I guess. I thought I was just dropping by to say hi to a friend…
I was sure it was a coincidence when the lead pastor was there and popped in on our little visit in her office. I was sure it was just another day when he sat down to visit for a few minutes. I was sure it was just a happy connection and encouragement to share together about what God is doing and ways to make an impact for His Kingdom.
I was wrong. Those few minutes and the hours that followed were a turning point. I drove away fairly unsuspecting but still asking, “God? What just happened?”
It was maybe 6 weeks later when the invitation came to join the staff team at Abbott Loop Community Church in Leadership Development and partner with them in what God is doing in Anchorage.
Of course, I live in Wasilla, an hour away from Anchorage so that would be ridiculous and unfeasible. I appreciated the opportunity and asked a bunch of questions – mostly to be polite because there was no way I was leaving my church or moving to Anchorage.
I spent the next day crying. Everything had changed and I knew it. I knew God was up to something and He was taking me off the map to an uncharted course. Or at least uncharted to me! I didn’t feel ready to get back into church ministry. I really didn’t think that was going to be a path for me.
But the blood was pumping into my heart, causing it to pound and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. What is grabbing a hold of me? No! Please God, keep things the same. I can breathe here. I just figured out how to live in peace and experience the fullness of loving my family and I hardly ever over-analyze anything anymore. This place is good and You brought me here, and it was hard and now it’s not. I want to stay. I don’t want to say goodbye…
I’ve been at my church for 13 years. So much time has been invested in connecting to this church body. We were a young hurting family when we became a part of Church on the Rock. We were new to Wasilla and COTR is where we grafted in. We needed family – they became family. We needed help – they helped us. Later, they needed help – and we got to help them.
How do I say goodbye to the place that I evolved as an adult? The place I truly encountered God over and over? I learned about worship at COTR. I learned about servanthood, I learned about the supernatural ways of God in this place! I learned to follow and submit to leadership here. At COTR, I learned that at some point, we’re all struggling with painful things in our lives and that we need each other in order for God to fully bring healing.
I learned to never underestimate the old guy in an American flag shirt, white shorts and shoes with black socks. He’s quite possibly an amazing missionary that’s helped change a nation…and then some!
I learned that the community of people you run with, will pull things out of you that you had no idea were there. I learned how to teach here at COTR. I learned how to pray. How to go deep and how to hear God. I learned about being a leader… by the grace of God and those that trusted what He had deposited in me.
I learned about failing and falling at COTR. I also learned about getting back up again. I learned that I have weaknesses and flaws. I learned that God loves me anyway and He’s not disappointed in me no matter how much others or myself might be. I learned that God can fill your heart in such a way that no matter what another person has done, the greatest joy is in loving them well.
I lost my way at COTR. I lost my “why”… why we do what we do. I also found my “why” at COTR – why we give of ourselves and our lives so that another might live. It was here that I discovered the church isn’t responsible to “feel like home” or bring me peace. God taught me in that huge sanctuary, that because of who I am in Him, that I carry “home” and I carry peace that can be a blessing for others.
It’s been 4 months since the day that I cried all day knowing that this time was coming. I sobbed with memories and gratitude in worship at church today. I don’t think anyone really knew that it was the last Sunday for us…I’ve always been one to slip in and slip out anyway.
I am grateful for everything and every person at Church on the Rock. There’s so much more that my family and I have experienced in this church family – I couldn’t begin to capture it in one post. But thank you for what you’ve deposited in our lives.
I still have so much to learn but because of my years at this church with this family, I also have much to give away and hard as it is to say goodbye…I’m so excited and honored to be part of what God is doing and going to do at Abbott Loop Community Church.
always in my heart,