To my friends from Miami OK
February 23, 2019
A place where you are known, loved and wanted. Home.
Over the years I’ve lived in many places. Each time we moved, I always took my heart with me. It was a conscious decision to let myself call the new place home, make new friends and embrace the change in our lives. Change always brings about some nervousness, but when you take your family with you as you go, there’s no reason to be afraid.
We moved to Miami in 2000. Jayden looked forward to the adventure. Janessa shuffled her feet forward, reluctant to leave her friends behind in Nebraska. J. L. and I saw it as a new beginning, a fresh start.
The people of Immanuel Baptist were so excited, and so kind, it was impossible not to fall in love with you immediately. Everywhere we went in Miami we met friendly people, always ready to strike up a conversation. The schools welcomed my children, and we formed friendships with people in the city.
I felt hope stir within me – something that had been missing for a while. I needed rest, both physically and emotionally. Everyone seemed to sense that need and asked nothing of me. You simply loved me – and my family.
When you loved my family, you had my heart.
Miami became my home.
Then the unthinkable happened. J. L., Janessa and Jayden left us for heaven one icy night. I didn’t think my heart could survive at all, much less ever feel hope again.
But you built a wall of love around me. I felt safe and defended. Within those walls, God met my needs and slowly began the mending of my heart. I could never recount the thousands of ways you helped me but let me list a few.
You mowed my lawn, unclogged my sink, repaired my washer, and changed the oil in my truck. Someone gave me a car and hundreds of you donated money into a bank account for me. Others took me to lunch, invited me to their homes, or took me to ballgames or community events. You sat at my table over a cup of tea, played cards with me, or brought me gifts in memory of my children. Some of you regularly cleaned my gutters, while others carried out the ashes from the fireplace. An entire brigade of people moved me to my new house.
Whether sitting quietly holding my hand, or helping me laugh by reminiscing with me, you took care of me. Countless numbers of you prayed for me and over me.
You weren’t afraid of my tears.
Thank you seems like such a small word for the people who helped me survive. God used your words, your prayers and your kindness to minister to me. I’m forever indebted to you, because there’s no way to repay you.
I love you. Thank you for loving me.
I hope it will always feel like home.
I wasn’t one of your church family and didn’t know you until after. Thank you and JL for loving our son and helping him grow in leadership. You loved him when he had tough times. Thank you for being you and showing God’s love. I shared with the pastor at Immanual what we talked about and he was pleased.