Bartonville: A Soft Gift From God


This week has been a whirlwind. We moved on Monday and Tuesday was Nick’s first day at work. There has barely been time to breathe, let alone blog. But I’ve got my breath and I’m trying to find my words.

The first few days in Bartonville were kind of surreal; everything felt weird to me. I went grocery shopping in unfamiliar stores, had to GPS every place I went to and then back home, I got lost in my own kitchen trying to remember where things were. My source of comfort was my run in the morning. Running is always the same; the scenery changes, but the rest is the same. I need that: an anchor in the sea of change.

Then came our first Sunday in this new place. The first Sunday I attended church as the pastor’s wife, not an employee. The first time I attended these churches specifically. The first time I realized this is my new home. These churches are my home; these people are my family.

I wouldn’t have chosen them myself. Honestly. I walked into the Bartonville church and was the youngest adult there. My son and my niece, who was visiting, were the only babies. There was one other little girl. There were no stage lights, no band, no praise songs. We sang hymns to a piano. At Kingston Mines, there wasn’t even a piano. No, this isn’t the place I would have chosen for myself.

But Nick’s sermon was on God’s perfect gifts. That every gift is from the Father above who loves us. He shared about how in his family there are two types of gifts: soft gifts and hard gifts. Growing up if you felt the present and it was soft, it was probably things like socks and clothes. The necessities. But if you felt a hard package, it was toys. The things you really wanted.

I sat in the congregation wishing for a hard gift. Missing the music I am used to and all of the instruments. Feeling lonely that there was no one my age to befriend. I felt disappointed. I felt scared that this is going to be difficult to endure as our permanent place.

Until I remembered that this is the place God has called us. This is His good and perfect gift. Sure it’s a soft gift, not as fun as a hard gift would be. But it’s what we need. And God loves us, He delights in caring for us, He has given us this gift.

I wouldn’t have chosen them. I would choose other. But these people are so full of love for us. They showed us in numerous ways how excited they are to have us and to welcome us into their family. I truly believe that, after some adjusting, I will realize I’m the luckiest to be part of these congregations. It will just take time for me to surrender my expectations of church and worship and embrace the beauty of the place that God has called us to. His soft gift of perfect love.


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