Leaving church with grace-filled footprints

The time has come for my family to transition to a new church home.  After almost six years, we don’t make this decision lightly and we are carefully/prayerfully navigating transition.  I have done it wrong so many times, but this time I am attempting to do better because I know it is important to finish well.  It is important to leave well. Too many times I have seen individuals leave church in a big messy exit and it shocks and grieves me.  Is there a better way?  Even when hearts have been hurt?  I am also discouraged and frustrated and I wonder what way is best?  Many people DO leave well and make the proper closures….but those people go quietly and the rest of us never know what was said or done so it’s hard to follow a good example when a good example is leaving quietly. At first, I wanted to blast them with a letter of all my complaints but as I sought advice and prayed, a different objective surfaced.  In the end, what I desire is for the church to thrive, to help people find God, to be a place of love and healing.  My thoughts became a little less about me and more about how can I help the church be more effective.  A face to face meeting with the head pastors may have been ideal but since we were not currently serving in any leadership role, it did not seem necessary to take up their limited time.  This post is for others who want to transition, but like me, are unsure of how.  Here is my attempt at leaving well;

November 3, 2013

Dear Pastors,

We are writing this letter to thank you for the five and a half years we spent with you at Church and to inform you we have joined a new fellowship.  We want to first thank you for all the positive teaching, for encouraging us in our walk with God and for wonderful times of corporate worship.

Thank you for the opportunity Jenny had to serve on the leadership team of MOPS for three years and for the years we spent in Lifegroups.  We have made an incredible group of Christian friends as a result!  Thank you for allowing us to host two events: Keith Wheeler and Jen Hatmaker (make sure to check out her show on HGTV starting in January.)  Our children were so blessed at the VBS and the final show was the highlight of our summer!

Of course, it was a joy to be able to provide the furnishings for two rooms in the foster care house and we are excited for how the Lord will use that home to help foster kids and families.  We will continue to partner with you in helping the foster child population in our state.  Thank you especially for partnering with us and our friends in our annual refugee Christmas party and we look forward to continuing to work together to reach this group of under-served people in our community.

Unfortunately, there were also some things that saddened our hearts and have led to us moving on.  If you are ever interested in hearing those things, we are willing to share them with you, but it is not necessary.  We are leaving with a focus on the many things we are thankful for.

We pray God’s blessings on you, your pastoral staff and all of this Church.  May you continue to reach many people with God’s love and see our community transformed.  We will be working with you in this same endeavor from our new church home.  Thank you again for being godly pastors and for the positive impact this Church has had on our family.

Blessings,

T & J

first date night with out baby

At 5 o’clock the sitter arrives.  I hand my baby to the sitter in exchange for my two year old who is screaming and clinging onto my leg.  We rush back and I quickly get into the shower.  I have shampoo in my hair but have to peek out of the shower twice to check on my two year old who is being mysteriously quiet.  I jump out, dry my hair, try to put make-up on while my child is pulling every bottle of lotion and hairspray out of the cabinet and trying it on himself.  Bottles and caps are scattered all over the floor and I race into the closet and yank out a black dress and high heels…yay, the first time I have worn heels since before I had a baby, wait, longer than that, I wasn’t trotting around in a prego belly with heels.  Wow, its been a year since I have worn heels.  I try them on, they look great except, oops, I have half chipped off blue sparkly nail polish left over from summer (it’s now November.)  I sit down and start scrubbing my toes.  Two year old wants to play with the nail polish remover.  I hold remover up high, out of reach, scrub toes, hold remover up, move it to the left, the right, just out of his reach, finally done.  Oh, no time left to add polish…must go without.  Grab two year old, leave bathroom in utter chaos and run down the hall and give toddle to sitter, take baby, go back to the bedroom and put baby in his sleep sack.  He needs pajamas and I diaper change, I swear to myself I will change him when I get back from dinner but he can sleep in his day clothes (a little time saving tip I invented).  I nurse the baby, say a prayer for him, kiss his sweet head and put him to bed for the night.  Now I’m really running late.  I take my high heels and literally run down the hallway kiss other kids good-bye, give final instructions to sitter and head out the door.

I’m breathing heavy as I drive away to pick up hubby from his meeting (well, actually a massage).  He calls, I’m late but I am driving his direction!  Phew!  I remember I forgot to shave my legs…forgot to wear perfume, oh and deodorant.  Geez, well, what can I do now!  (At least I look hot!)
Ahh, dinner.  It’s peaceful and wonderful.  I get to look at my husband and hold his hand.  I sip wine and we take our time eating.  I only check my phone for texts from the sitter once….well, ok more like every 15 minutes and I text her once (really 5 times) to make sure everything is ok.  The final text is just to make sure the kids are asleep because oh baby, I am NOT going home until every last one of those kids are asleep!
The coast is clear at 10 pm when we get home.  I am so tired I now feel miserable.  I brush my teeth with my eyes closed and don’t wash my face.  I know it’s terrible….it’s a horrible habit I picked up somewhere these last few months of mommy exhaustion.  My mom always told me if I didn’t wash my face at night it would age me 5 years.  At this rate, I’ll look like I am 100 before I even turn 40 (which is soon, actually.)
I use my other latest time-saving technique:  pull off my bra, throwing it on the floor along with the pillow shams and climb into bed with my dress still on.  I don’t wear pajamas any more. I know this little time saver trick will never go mainstream but it works for me.  I am asleep in 2 minutes flat.
The next morning, I realize my slept in make-up doesn’t look too bad.  Time saver trick number five, apply some fresh make-up right on top of yesterdays left over make-up.  It doesn’t look the best but, hey, it’s better than no make-up and I don’t have time to redo it.  Even though I wake-up wearing a dress, I do change into another one before we leave for church.  I do have a little dignity left.
True story by Jenny McJunkin,  November 4, 2013.