Did anyone really believe I would finish it up today? I really did. But then, I sat down again at the computer to read the ‘rest of the story’ that I wrote back in February and decided that I needed to rewrite some of it to make it flow better.
It is Friday, December 9th and I still have not decorated my house for Christmas. I will not be home all weekend because I will be busy helping at my church as we give out 6000 toys to Hispanic children, foster children, and other children in need.
Joe and I will be child counselors this weekend, and so I want to ask you to pray that many of these children’s hearts will be open to the Gospel and that God can use us to lead them into a forever relationship with Jesus.
So, those are my excuses for only taking the time to edit about half of ‘the rest of the story.’ I need to decorate and I need to spend time alone with the Lord preparing my heart for this weekend. If I don’t find the time today or the rest of the weekend to edit the rest, please forgive me, and I will do my best to get it wrapped up and posted on here by early next week.
So here is a little more of the story…..
We got everything moved into our new rental home that evening. Surrounded by a maze of boxes, tears once again welled up in my eyes. We had a new place to live, but I was all too familiar with what the scene meant: months of work of unpacking boxes and endless lonely nights in a city where no one even knew we existed. I got overwhelmed in that moment and even though it was only seven o’clock, my wise mother told me to ‘go take a shower and crawl in bed. ‘
We had moved enough to know the first thing you do when you move into a home is set up the beds and put up the shower curtain. So I took a shower and crawled into bed. Instead of sleeping, for two hours I buried my head in my pillow and soaked it with tears.
The next morning was Sunday morning. I woke up to a completely unpacked kitchen and an invitation from my mother to take me to ‘find a Wal-Mart’ so she could take me shopping for essentials. That morning we spent two hours in Wal-Mart. It was the perfect distraction from the fact that it was Sunday morning, and we did not have a church family to go worship with that morning. Well, almost perfect. If I had known at that time Tulsa had a Target…that would have made it perfect!
Over the next few weeks, I spent my days unpacking the boxes one by one. Joe came home every day pleasantly surprised that he loved the boys at the facility and felt that indeed God would use him to minister to them through his counseling.
We started attending a church near our house, and after a month of attending signed up for the membership class with every intention of joining the church. We kept thanking God that we didn’t have to ‘church shop,’ and that the very first church we visited was beginning to feel like home. To top it off, one sweet girl had called me several times to check on me and invited me to a party she was having at her house. It looked like I even had a potential friend.
We went to the membership class after church one Sunday. After the class, we got in the car and looked at each other. It was obvious that each of us wanted to say something but we really didn’t have to say anything. For no specific reason, we both knew that the Holy Spirit had separately told us that we were not supposed to join that church. The thought of starting all over visiting a church was sickening but we knew that was what we were supposed to do.
A friend from my hometown had been to church in Tulsa once with some friends of hers, and she had written down the name of the church on a little piece of paper that I had shoved into my wallet before we moved. My friend had recommended we at least go visit that church once because it was ‘cool.’ Joe and I have never been ‘into’ cool, but now that we weren’t going to be committed to a church, we decided we would go visit the ‘cool’ church before we started looking for a church home again.
The very next Sunday morning, we drove 20 minutes to the ‘cool’ church and slipped into the back row. The music was good. The people were nice. However, we had been in churches with fabulous musicians. Both of us grew up in churches with the nicest people in the world. We weren’t particularly impressed.
Then it happened. The pastor took the ‘stage.’ We knew he was a former student pastor and now ‘topical series’ style teacher, so we did not have high expectations for his preaching abilities. Joe and I both spent our childhoods learning under pastors who are known all over the state of Oklahoma and even the world for their preaching/teaching abilities. Both of us have Masters in Theology and have studied Biblical languages. We are always a tough audience for preachers.
Much to our surprise, when the pastor began to speak, it was if God reached out His healing hand from heaven that morning and wrapped it around the hearts of the Buxton’s. So what was the sermon?
There was no sermon. The pastor walked up to the stage and announced that there would be no sermon that morning. He told the congregation that there was a sermon on paper that he had prepared to preach. However, the pastor went on to explain that he felt that he could not preach it that morning because he was too broken and felt like he was under attack. Immediately the church responded.
Instead of the church members hearing a sermon that morning, they surrounded their pastor and prayed for him. I had been in hundreds if not thousands of church services in my life, but never has a service spoke to me and healed my spirit like that service.
We left that day knowing that God had led us to our new church home. I remember thinking to myself, “God how will we ever fit in at this church? Joe and I are the farthest thing from ‘cool.’ Some of my favorite songs are old church hymns. We don’t even use our cell phone, and we drive a Grand Marquis.”
Over the next few months we attended membership classes, joined Bible studies, and volunteered for different service opportunities. In those months, it was confirmed in our hearts over and over that God had led us to this church. We began to see that the vision of the church lined up with the vision that God gave Joe and I for our family.
To be continued and hopefully completed soon! Now it is off to take boxes out of the attic. Shhh don’t tell Joe I am doing this, he wants me to wait on him to get home. He doesn’t trust me walking up and down stairs with heavy boxes. I have no idea why. . . .he will be so excited that it is all done when he gets home…Right? Just pray my size 11 and a half feet cooperate with the ladder steps!