I grew up in church, and i'm sure I was ignorant of a lot that went on behind the scenes. Many who claim the name of Christ do things that are diametrically opposed to the teachings of Christ and the Bible, or do nothing.
When I moved to Oregon from California to be near my mom and brother, who was the pastor of Calvary Church of Grants Pass, I had no idea of the family that would adopt me as one of their own. To his credit, my brother lives what he preaches and is beloved by many, and I was accepted and loved because of it.
Fast forward from 2003 to 2008, Dave & I got married. Dave is a smart guy, holds an MBA, military, etc. but could not find work no matter how hard he tried. He took temporary jobs when he could get them, would help friends, who were then kind enough to pay him for his help, etc. But we have had virtually no income for all this time, save these temp jobs and the unemployment we could claim because of them. There are miracles to tell of, and I intend to when settled in WA.
My point of this is to say that I stand in awe at the love we've been shown. Through my brother's pastoring, to the new pastor, through the body of believers we have aligned ourselves with. The constant love and support over a span of 6 or so years, has been incredible and never-changing. We are pretty transparent and share whatever's happening and we were always asked how we were doing, what was happening, etc. Time and again we have received literal financial help, but always, always love and concern. These brothers and sisters have walked through the valley with us, unflinching, never avoiding us or throwing trite cliches our way. We have been met with only true, sincere care and love.
The church, ever under a microscope, and allowed very little slack, is alive and well in Grants Pass. We have lost saints over the years and we miss them all the time (think of you so often Georgie in particular), and our body seems to have an inordinate number of them. So, through the personalities, occasional blunders (obviously including ourselves too), you have people that "get it." When you look in their eyes as they speak with you, you see Christ. The familiar looking back at you. The love and questions genuine and pulling for you. These people have meant everything to me during this time. Some weeks they have been the thing that kept me going, and they didn't even know it. But He knew it. Our Lord who knows all and is in complete control.
When I look back, as far as 7 years ago, as recently as yesterday, this Family has meant the world to me. They have lightened our load, made us feel loved and cared for, shared equally in our joys. There just are no words to explain it or to express our gratitude. All I can do is think of the faces and all we've been through with these precious people, and all they've been through as well, and ask our Lord to bless them for all they've done, for being our family. The Lord spoke often about loving one another and they do.