Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Long Journey Home...

Today was our third Sunday in our new building, and today it finally felt like home, like we are right where we belong.
Who knew the journey would be so long and take so many unexpected twists and turns for us to arrive at this place, at this time?
God did.
God knew.
Ten years ago, the almost all new congregation of the fifty year old denominational church we had pastored for a bit over three years voted unanimously to leave that denomination.
A year before that we had sold the church's former building and were retrofitting an existing building in  a better location into a beautiful new place of worship.
For a year it seemed like our exit from the denomination had been a peaceful one.
We were enjoying our new non-denominational network of churches where we found ourselves more compatible philosophically and theologically.
And then the denomination sued us.
They had no grounds, the denomination's constitution and our church's constitution supported our side.
So, the judge threw the case out.
But they relentlessly filed, and filed, and filed again.
We lost our beautiful building, not because they won the lawsuit, but because all our money was going to lawyers.
Our congregation, miraculously, stayed together and leased space in a dumpy little strip mall in the bad part of town.
We went from a palace to a pit.
There we experienced the best of times and the worst of times, highs and lows, mountains and valleys.
But, we went through it all together.
After about five years, we ventured out of our little space and leased a school on Sundays.
We were so wounded, so gun shy, that to make that move seemed like a huge step of faith.
Shortly after that, we became the pastors of another congregation that had gone through their own time of devastation.  
We pastored two churches at once for a short time, then merged the two, and a year later sent a group of people with our son-in-law and daughter as pastors to plant a church in southeast Portland.
Each twist and turn in the road, unexpected, but somehow we knew they were God ordained.
The whole time our church(s) were still mobile, meeting in a school on 
A year after starting the church in southeast Portland, we pursued, finally, to get our own building, again retro-fitting an existing building into a church.
For a year we prayed, struggled, fought, to get the necessary permits.
Then we prayed and gave and worked and sacrificed to get it built.
And by God's grace we're in it now.
All glory, praise and honor to God.

"If you don't quit, you'll win."
I’ve taken the Joy Dare.

I’m counting one thousand thanks in one year.

I hunt for thanksgiving using the prompts Ann gives us each month.

If you are interested in joining in, click the link above or at the bottom of this post.

I continue to count my thanks

piling up gratitude day by day

in my little black journal…


3 gifts ugly beautiful-
-Mama's old bean pot
-my oldest daughter's very old, somewhat toothless, Pug dog, (that my two little granddaughters love)
-summer blossoms,dying and drying
a gift fixed-
-the Hubs rescuing me by jumping the dead battery on my car
a gift folded-
-clean clothes, warm from the dryer
a gift freckled-
-going on a run with my red-headed friend who's encouraging me in my 5K attempts, 
(she's successfully run 1/2 marathons!)
3 gifts in conversation-
-phone calls that end with "I love you"
-talking to my middle daughter and two oldest grandkids on the phone
-group texting my two sisters, (is that conversation?), on a day when it hit me that I still miss my mama
3 gifts in salvation-
-I'm forever His daughter
-He will never, never, never, no never leave me or forsake me
-no matter how difficult the journey, my destination is FABULOUS!
3 gifts in information-
-so many how-tos available on the internet
-looking up how much average rainfall Portland, Oregon actually has, and realizing it's not all that bad compared to some places, (bracing ourselves for the coming drizzle-y months!)
a gift rattling-
-leaves already beginning to get dry and crunchy
a gift receding-
-the tide out far enough when we went to the beach last week for me to walk all the way out to Haystack Rock!

a gift reclaimed-
-my old, antique wooden cubby,new to me
3 gifts quiet-
-home alone and all is quiet on a beautiful Saturday morning
-Sunday morning home alone, drinking coffee and getting ready for church, the Hubs already up and at the church before the sun
-the car ride to church, the only sound my own voice singing, praying, getting my heart ready

Gratefully yours,


  1. It seems as though God was preparing you for this time of battle even in the childhood that you spoke of earlier. Praise God..HE ALWAYS WINS!

  2. I'm starting very early today...and doing just as you wrote in your last 4 words...."getting my heart ready". Rejoicing with you for the goodness of God in your personal life and that of your sweet congregation...

  3. so sorry for all that is so very sad what happens in Christ’s it must break His thankful that you all forged through all the valleys and can enjoy the new land He has brought you to. Happy Monday to you~

  4. Your story is hard to hear that 'God's people hurt each other' but we are not healed or together until we meet Jesus so we know in this life there will be difficult times and moments.
    I love your attitude, your writing and really do want to meet you some time we don't live that far away. Take care and enjoy that new place of worship.

  5. The church I attend is going to go through what your church went through. I have warned them they will not keep the building or property. Be prepared. God is good. He doesn't need a building. Church isn't a building. I loved this post. I'm glad you feel home. I love your list of gratitudes. :)

  6. So thrilled for you and your new home!

    I'm trying to gear up for our drizzly, too. Ugh!

  7. I appreciate this post on so many levels, Elizabeth. I pray you'll be blessed beyond measure in your new church home. To God Alone be the Glory.

  8. For a while there I thought maybe you were in Tulsa. Same thing happened here. So sad when tradition trumps love! Praying blessings on your new church home and family!

    I was doing 1000 Gifts earlier this year. My marriage hit a rough patch (story, as much as I can share, is on my blog which has only been live for a week so it would be easy to catch up if you so desire) and I ceased blogging, and all the things that went with it, for the summer. I'm still practicing gratefulness ... just not with Anne for now. I may try again next year.

  9. Hi Elizabeth,
    Prayers and Blessings to you and your Church congratation.
    Have a good week
    Barb from Australia

  10. satan is a roaring lion. God's work will prevail (Acts 5:38-39.) As hard as it was I am sure you wouldn't trade what God has taught you through this time. :)


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