When I was 10 years old, my dad took the position of pastor at Emmanuel Community Church. Six weeks later, my mom died suddenly in our kitchen while sitting at the table. She had been reading a book, and drinking a cup of coffee when she began to collapse.
Needless to say, it was a rough beginning of my tenure at Emmanuel Community Church. But our bond became strong, and we stayed together, and for the past 28 years, I’ve grown up at ECC. And come to think of it, the church has grown up with me too.
Last night I began the “speaking tour” for my book Brownie Crumbs and Other Life Morsels. I will be traveling and sharing the messages of the book at various churches and venues across the country over the next several months. I hit the road on Friday to speak in Erie, PA, and Buffalo, NY.
Last night I was able to start by speaking at ECC. Home. What a logical place to step into the batter’s box.
As I stood in front of that room of women, many of whom are close personal friends, I marveled at how God had brought me to that moment.
And even that very spot.
You see, the church has grown and changed over the past three decades. The place where I stood and spoke last night is now called “The Commons,” and it’s a large gathering room with round tables for discussion and a little kitchen window in the corner for snacks. But it used to be our sanctuary. And the very spot where I stood last night is where my dad stood for years when he would preach. Now we have a bigger sanctuary (they say it’s called the ‘Worship Center’…) and the building has been remodeled.
But before the room became “The Commons,” as it is now, it went through some other transitions.
While it was still the main sanctuary, my dad got remarried, to the woman I now call “Mom.” I was her maid of honor, and stood up in that wedding – exactly where I stood last night as I spoke.
That room, in its original form, was where I sat through sermons, performed in children’s musicals, attended VBS weeks, and where I learned to love those people who became my church family.
I attended Sunday school classes behind the sanctuary in a little room with ugly red carpet.
At one point, the room was transformed into a hallway with three classrooms on each side. In that hallway, I first walked past a man name Kraig Cabe. I saw him, but he didn’t see me. We didn’t meet for a few month after that, but eventually, we started teaching a Sunday school class together in one of those rooms – just a few feet from where I stood last night – and we eventually fell in love and got married in that big new sanctuary, er… Worship Center.
That room, that very spot where I stood and spoke last evening, has great significance for me. And I was so blessed to begin my speaking tour right there. It was the perfect launching ground. And as I shared about these things with the ladies and told them some stories from my life (old news to many of them!) they laughed and cried along with me.
And they served brownies. What more could you ask for?
After I finished, these friends of mine lined up to get my autograph in their books. I laughed. “Really?” I said, “It’s just ME!” They hugged me and supported me and got their picture taken with me. And I laughed all the more.
Because who would have thought this dream would become a reality. That God would redeem my life – my story – and use it for His glory through a book with a brownie on the cover and an imperfect girl-turned-woman who is willing to share.
That room, that spot where I stood last night, has been repurposed, reshaped, and put to the best use for each season.
Sounds a lot like me.
And for this season of my life, God has given me the opportunity to share my story. I’m thrilled, and nervous, and excited, and hopeful.
Because God has proven faithful through every season thus far.
And I have no doubt He’ll direct me, around each stop along the way, until I get back home.