Thank you for being patient with my story.  I am humbled by all the text messages, Facebook comments, emails, and conversations at church that I have been bombarded with over the past few days.   Joe came home from church begging me to finish the story because several women came up to him to talk about it at church.   Bless his heart.  He is my biggest cheerleader and has begged me for years to write a book.  Some day.  Some day.  For now, I am simply humbled to know that the Holy Spirit has used my writing to encourage others.

Here’s is the ‘rest of the story’ that I wrote back in February of this year.

The next Sunday we did hear the pastor preach.  Though the message was good, we were not as impressed as the majority of people seem to be with our pastor the first time they visit our church.  (Remember Joe and I can be a tough crowd to impress.)

If you ask most people in our church, they will tell you that from the very first Sunday they came to The Church at BattleCreek and heard Pastor Alex preach that they knew they wanted BattleCreek to be their home church.

When someone asks us  why we joined The Church at BattleCreek,  we actually find it fun to jokingly say, “well actually we joined BattleCreek despite Alex’s preaching.  He’s really good but far from the best we have heard.”  When we say that, we sometimes get the response like we have just said Elvis isn’t the king of Rock and Roll.   We go on to tell them the story of him not preaching on our first day and tell them, “What impressed us the most about him was what he DIDN’T say on that first day we came.”

As I write this story it is February of 2011 and it has been almost three years since that day we first visited the church.  Over those three years our hearts have experienced tremendous healing from the scars left by the words and actions of  that pastor years before.  We found places where we could serve in our church and have allowed God to use our gifts to minister.

We have missed very few Sunday morning sermons in the past three years.  Though God has spoken to us many times through the words of Pastor Alex, never has He spoken as clearly as He has this past  Sunday.   For the past few Sundays I have listened to our pastor teach through the book of James and watched and felt the power of the Holy Spirit moving through our church in a way I have never felt before.

On paper I have been considered a part of the Church at BattleCreek’s staff for over a year now.  Joe and I voluntarily took on a position in the children’s ministry and in a few months we were asked to come on staff to run it.  I seriously took out a piece of paper and listed all the reasons I did not want to have a staff position at a church.  God was not convinced by the case I presented.

Though the position is not something that we would consider our ‘sweet spot’ of service, we are confident that God has used the position to reaffirm in our hearts God’s anointing on both of our lives.

Two week ago in the worship service, God told me “you need to go to the church all staff meeting tomorrow.”  I have been able to avoid those my entire time of being ‘on church staff.’    In my heart I know part of it was because I didn’t want to open up an opportunity for me to get closer than an arm’s distance from the leaders of the church.

The next afternoon I found myself sitting in the corner of the room of about thirty staff members.  As I sat in that meeting and listened to the conversations, I felt healing come over my heart.  The wounds that had layers of thick scars were immediately ripped open and healed to be like new.

For several years I had battled the temptation to believe that somewhere in the course of history, churches in America had gotten off course and I had begun doubting that God would ever use churches to bring substantial change to the world.

In that meeting I was reassured that God wants to use His church to reach the lost world.  Something I never expected to happen in a church staff meeting.

The next Monday I went to the staff meeting believing that this time it would likely just be another ordinary meeting.  However once again I had an unexpected encounter with the Holy Spirit in the meeting.  God spoke to my heart and said, “It is time.”  I realized God was saying “it is time to step down from your position at this church.  You are healed.”  I went home to discuss it with Joe and he was in total agreement.

The next day I let my supervisors know that God was calling Joe and me to step down from our positions at the church and take a leap of faith.   Though we had been honored to fill a need of our church and lead in the childcare ministry, we knew that God was calling us to give up the positions so that we could use our time, talents, and gifts to serve Him in another capacity and pursue the dream that God placed on our hearts for at-risk children and families.

Though our dream does not have a clear definition, we know that God has always been faithful to guide our steps after we take leaps of faith.

This preacher’s kid, seminary graduate, and former pastor’s wife must confess that I had almost lost hope that God would use churches to reach the lost world.   The evil one had almost convinced me to believe that God would never allow me to use my gifts and callings on a church staff.

God used a church to convince me otherwise.

That concluded what I wrote back in February of this year.  It is the long answer to the question, “Holly why are you stepping down from your position at church?”  In March, after a month of prayer and several discussions with other staff members, I actually agreed to continue to lead in the ministry for a little longer. 

 Several weeks ago, Joe and I decided that the end of December was God’s timing for me to step down for good from our church’s childcare ministry. 

 I cannot clearly define for you what our leap of faith is.  Oh, how I wish I could.  It is a little clearer than it was back in February when God called us to take it.  What I do know is that God knows what the future holds for our family.  I would ask for you to pray for us over the next few months as we seek Him and His plan.

 Lord willing, this spring Joe will officially have completed all the requirements for his counseling license.  We have not heard from God as to whether He wants us to plant ourselves in Tulsa or pursue our dream of ministering to at-risk children and families elsewhere. 

Until then….maybe I just might get started writing that book.

This is why I love my church so much. I spent countless hours making preparations for our childcare ministry to watch the children of 1000 volunteers for two days during our annual Toys for Tots weekend. I also got to slip away from the childcare to help with the decision counseling. My favorite moment of the weekend came in the last 30 minutes of the event at 7 pm on Sunday night when I met this family. A mom who thought she was just coming to get a toy she could give to her 11 year old daughter for Christmas. Not only did she take home toys, she got to watch her 11 year old and 19 year old daughters receive the eternal gift of Jesus. What a joy to get to walk with them on the journey and see them all be baptized together!