This week a rather long chapter of my life came to a close with a mixture of sadness, excitement and nervous anticipation. I have left my father's church behind (with the best of feelings) and have taken a ministry position at a church closer to where my family and I live. This has actually been coming for quite some time. I have felt the pull, heard the whisper of "get ready, change is coming" and although I am a bit nervous about this move away from everything familiar, I am confident I have done the right thing.
Malone will always be home. I came there as a sullen fourteen-year-old, unhappy to be uprooted from a former church, home and school. I was determined not to like it and to remain miserable. The good people of the church however, made that difficult. Their warmth and kindness was overwhelming and I could not help but love them back.
Christmas 1992. I wore ugly Christmas sweaters before they were cool.
The people of Malone prayed me through my teenage years, saw me off to college, supported me through single motherhood and rejoiced with me when God sent me the man of my dreams. I was married at Malone, my husband and children were baptized there. I found my purpose and calling through the prayers of the wonderful folks between the pews.
There are many people that I recall with great fondness. People that made such an impression on me that I have never forgotten. People like my first Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Lucy. One of my first memories of Malone Baptist was of that first Christmas party. Mrs. Lucy's dear husband, J.N. was sitting in a chair with clothespins all over his shirt and even in his beard from some game we played. Mrs. Sue was another wonderful teacher and a Christmas party at her house included an hour-long game of hide-n-seek and a fashion show involving the wearing of an angel tree-topper as a hat.
There were many others who talked, cried and prayed me through the angsty high school years and into the stress-filled college years. It was church members who encouraged me to study music, even suggesting schools and programs with available scholarships. My first piece of mail to my first home-away-from-home was from one of Malone's dear Prayer Warriors, Mrs. Jan. I still have that little encouraging postcard in my treasure box.
I wish I could list all of the church people who have blessed my life, but it's such an extensive list I would never finish. I will just say that having been a part of Malone Baptist Church and its amazing members has been enriching, uplifting and life-changing. I would not be who I am today without those influences. They have given advice, counsel and prayers and so much more to me and my family. I know I will be dropping by as often as my new position allows, but even if that's only once in a while, my dear "home church" will never be forgotten.
Thank you, good people of Malone Baptist Church, for welcoming a brooding teenage girl with open arms and helping guide her into spiritual and physical maturity. I hope I've made you proud.