After a wonderful weekend with our family at Madison Heights, I was reminded of something I wrote a while back.
Madison Heights, you are such a significant part of why we are boarding a plane to Bogota, Colombia today.
During seminary Josh began an internship at a PCA church plant in Madison. When we first began to attend the church, there were about 40 people meeting on Sunday nights. We instantly loved the feel of this church plant. I think it was mainly because our first two years of marriage were spent working in a very similar situation in Nashville. We still miss our friends there. So this little tiny church plant in Madison felt right.
Church plants are very unique in that you really get to see the nitty-gritty. People aren’t involved in a church plant unless they truly want to serve the church. It involves LOTS and LOTS of work. Setting up. Taking down. Starting ministries. Failing and starting over. Just the process pares the church down to a group of people who want to serve. It’s lovely. We loved it. We still do.
When we first began worshiping there, Anne Elise was only 8 months old. I was just learning how to be a mom. We were living on love with one part-time salary and Josh was going to school full-time. After seminary, Josh became the full-time assistant pastor and by then the church was meeting on Sunday mornings in a school gymnasium. I had had one more baby and was still learning to be a mom. Now I was also learning to be a pastor’s wife.
I can’t say that Madison Heights loved and supported us. It was way beyond that. They accepted us. Wholly. They taught me to be a pastor’s wife. I have so many friends from seminary that come over and cry on my couch telling me all the stories of how hard it is for them to be the wife of someone on staff at their church. How they always feel like they’re in a fish bowl. I’m sure I’ve offended many a friend when I tell them, “I have no idea what you’re talking about. My church loves me and accepts me completely. I never feel judged. Never.” They loved me when I did a good job. They loved me when I did a terrible job. They loved me through all the learning. The good and the bad.
I never felt like I wasn’t adequate in their eyes and that is completely the truth. My church loves me. They pray for me. They accept me as a friend. A sister in Christ. A mother. Even a teacher. They stand up in front of groups of people and say these things. And if they are too nervous to stand in front of big groups then they whisper in my ear how loved I am. And not just loved – I feel like they are for me.
Blessed? I have no words.
We have received gifts that you wouldn’t believe. One summer Josh’s air conditioner in his car stopped working. As soon as the church heard about it, someone took it in and paid to fix it. We have received anonymous gifts from people that we could never thank. We have had friends paint our house TWICE and lay sod in our back yard. And build a play set. And tile our bathroom shower.We have been given COUNTLESS gift certificates for dinner dates including babysitting. We have had friends that have flown back from business trips early to not miss a meeting for cross collaboration. We have received more meals than I can count while I had two more babies and was sick or on bed rest. Madison Heights paid Josh’s full salary for four months so that we could support raise full-time. And they have given. And given. And given.
So, no. I have no idea what those friends of mine are talking about. And I’m so thankful.
And so it was only par for the course when they told us that they were going to have a total of FOUR church wide garage sales that they were going to contribute to and publicize and give us all of the proceeds for.
They raised almost $7000.
Madison Heights, I can never ever thank you enough. You have meant more to our family than I can ever say. You have loved us so well. You have tirelessly and sacrificially served our family the way the body of Christ should. You have been a beautiful reflection of Him. He has used you to sharpen us and mature us. His name is written all over you. We have been so blessed because of you.
We love you dearly.
Josh, Emily, Anne Elise, Ava, Jak, and Matthew