This is part 2 of this post...
The USAF whisked us away from Ohio one wintry February day and set us down in Omaha, NE. We had been in Omaha house-hunting one weekend a few months before (November 2002) and had visited a church that just "felt" right to us. We had emailed the church before coming and had received emails from a few people there, so we weren't entirely strangers that very first visit, nor the second time after we arrived in our new home. The amazing thing about this congregation was the speed at which we became a part of things. Never before in our lives had we been invited into ministry so quickly. Our very first Sunday there, we wound up staying after church for the better part of the day and helping coach puppet and drama skits for LTC. Emily was assimilated quite quickly into the group and was given roles in both drama and puppet skits, participated in the chorus, and even caught up with the group in Bible Bowl study. Our LTC involvement lasted the entire time we were there (just a little over 2 years... we managed to get in 3 conventions before having to move again).
Our LTC group was more than just a group of parents mentoring their kids, though. We were a small group as well... we prayed and sang together, shared our hearts and hurts, and took care of each other. This was another first for us. We'd not experienced this before. These relationships filled a void in our lives and created relationships that we are still keeping alive today.
It wasn't just through LTC and small group that we felt connected. We were blessed to have reached this church just shortly before they hired a new preaching minister. So we got to be the "new folks" with him and his family. We fell in love with them all. We became regular out-to-lunch friends on Sunday afternoons, spent occasional Friday or Saturday evenings playing board games, and went to the occasional concert together. Halle was the flower girl for their daughter's wedding the weekend before we moved away. If you're a regular reader, you know that they are still a part of our lives; Jim came to CA for Brian's retirement ceremony.
I look back and I see how we were going through a progression of sorts... in Ohio, we learned what it felt like to be loved. In retrospect, I feel like I was soaking it all up, but not really passing it on. Then in Nebraska, the same kind of love was there, but in addition, we were equipped to display love to others. Plus, we had the benefit of getting to be involved in ministry in ways we'd never been able to before. It was amazing to me, who had always felt kind of on the fringe of things. Now that I had a taste of what it was truly like to belong, I could never be satisfied with just sitting back and letting others do everything. What I learned there gave me the passion to be involved.
If leaving Ohio was hard, leaving Nebraska was even harder. And I had even more states to scatter my tears through as we traveled from there to California less than 2 1/2 years after arriving there.
I can't help but look back on all this as we begin a new chapter of life here in Alabama. We're settling into a new church family. In the less than 2 months we've been there, I'm already finding a place to serve on the praise team. I'm looking forward to an overnight women's retreat this weekend in Nashville and hoping I get to know some folks better at that. Brian's involved in a men's class on Wednesday nights, the kids are enjoying their classes... We're excited to see what God's going to have us do here.