I’m taking a quick break from the weighty posts I’ve been doing to share a fun update on our family.
When our children who now range from almost 18 to 33 were young, Benny and I dreamed and prayed regularly about the day when they would be adults who loved God and served alongside us in the church. Like most parents of young children, we assumed our kids would always live nearby and that we would spend decades together up in Fairfax, Virginia serving side by side. Over the years that dream has been disregarded when moves separated us and when we walked through hardships and sin that tested my faith. We struggled through, and came to a place of peace that the best and most biblical thing we can do for our adult children is to release them to love and follow God’s will — even and especially if that means living in a different city or being part of a different church than Dad and Mom.
Before I proceed, I want to first express my heartfelt compassion for anyone reading this with a child who is not walking with the Lord or grandchildren you rarely see. The heartache of a spiritually wayward or rebellious child is one of the hardest things a godly mother can face. And being a grandmother whose little ones live far away is a challenge I’ve experienced but am not currently facing. My heart truly goes out to you. I hope my story sparks faith in your heart that God is good. His goodness may not look the same in my life and yours, and you may be in a dark and tempting time in your life, but He remains good and your story isn’t over. I hope my story doesn’t tempt you…but that it encourages you. Our family has walked through some really hard things and challenges remain. Some people look and think we have an “ideal” family. Yet those who know us well know that is certainly not true. We are sinners who have walked through our share of painful situations. But God has been faithful and has done a miracle by keeping us loving and serving together.
Before Benny started Redeemer Church in January, we met with all our children to solicit their counsel and tell them what God was doing. At that time Benny communicated to our five married children and their spouses that they were under no obligation to join us on this crazy adventure. He reminded them of what they have heard from us numerous times before: we were available to ask questions and provide counsel at their invitation, but it was important that they spend time talking and praying as a couple, and pursuing the input of others.
To our complete joy, they came to us one by one over several months to say they had decided as a couple that God was calling them to be a part of Redeemer Church. While this was meaningful to me as a mom, it was especially humbling as a mother-in-law. My three daughters-in-law have dear friendships at and warm affection for the church that was sending us out. Two of them, in fact, had grown up in the church and had decades of fond memories with the people there. We made sure in each case that they hadn’t felt pressure from us to make this decision and were grateful to hear they each felt the Lord had spoken to them personally. What amazing young women.
The night the last of the couples announced to us that they would be coming, Benny and I laid in bed and cried. God doesn’t call all married children to do something like this. But story after story from our kids convinced us that God had moved their hearts and confirmed His will through their own subjective impressions, coupled with prayer and discussion.
We were especially moved when the parents said a big draw for them was giving their children the opportunity to be on a church plant. They wanted them to experience the joy and sacrifice of seeing God grow a church…with their help!
Through every trial and storm, through all the years of doubting God’s faithfulness, and through numerous sinful choices that tempted us to believe our prayers long ago were just the sentimental desires of loving parents to want to do life with their kids, God was there. He knew what we didn’t: that Benny would plant a new church in his late 50’s that would include every one of our children and grandchildren.
There are numerous others who are making Redeemer Church possible — we couldn’t do it without them! And I don’t know how long the Lord will allow us as a family to do life and church together. But for now, I’m savoring every moment.
Every moment of watching my little people walk up to visiting children to say hi and ask if they want to walk to children’s ministry with them.
Every moment of watching my men lead worship; unload equipment; brainstorm with others about how to make things run more smoothly; preach; greet; or load equipment on the truck.
Every moment of hearing my ladies prophecy, head out to help with children’s ministry, invite someone new to lunch or walk up to pray for another woman during a ministry time.
Every moment of watching my Benny setting up chairs or greeting a guest or positioning himself at the podium to preach or grinning over how God provided all the funds needed last month.
Last week I had a wonderful time of fellowship with a dear friend. One of the things we talked about (and that I’ve been blogging about) is how perplexing life is right now. We agreed that in many ways things just haven’t “turned out” like we expected. Another friend and I were chucking about this just yesterday. It’s not that we had a list of expectations in our minds, but obviously we were expecting something and whatever that was isn’t what life looks like right now!
But there’s an exception for me.
I prayed and dreamed and hoped and…yeah, expected…that my kids would grow up to love the Lord and His church. I longed for my grandchildren to have the opportunity to be a part of a church where, like their parents, they were trained to serve and sacrifice because every single hand was needed to get the job done. (Which is true in every church — old or new; small or large!) I wanted to watch my Benny spend his latter years alongside his sons working to see the gospel preached through the local church. I prayed that I would have the kind of relationship with my adult daughters and (at the time) future daughters-in-law where we could enjoy biblical fellowship and pass biblical womanhood on to a new generation of little girls.
So much of my life is different than I hoped and thought. But when Redeemer Church was born and my amazing, humble children and their spouses started signing on to help, I became “like one who dreamed.”
Benny and I dreamed. Talked. Hoped. Prayed. Cried. Battled discouragement and unbelief. Let go. Found peace.
But God heard. Answered. Kept. Sustained. Patiently worked. And then surprised us.
He. Is. Faithful.