As the Lord would have it, we were both dedicated, raised, baptized, married, and anything else church related in FBC Barnesville our whole lives. It's where we learned all about the Bible and came to know and trust Jesus. It is a special place full of special people. I think church members filled our first home with dishes and towels and kitchen utensils, and filled our first nursery with onesies and diapers and burp cloths. We love it there (and not just because our church family has been so generous to us). In a word or two, it's home.
And that's what's made and still makes finding a new church so, SO tough.
I honestly believe part of it is due to the fact that we both attended the same church for years and years until we got married. The church we're so blessed to call home has also been the church that's so hard to let go of. And the church that so many others are compared to and usually fall short of.
Then, there's the fact that we spend a lot of time in our hometown. A lot. Both of our parents are there, plus the majority of my extended family. (Which means that day trips aren't a good option for us. I guess you could say that day trips usually aren't fair to everybody.) We decided when we got married that even though we lived "away", family would always be a priority and we would always go home for holidays and special occasions. That's the example I grew up with and the example I want to show my kids. So we're there for Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas... plus birthdays and get togethers throughout the year. And even though it might seem crazy to some people, it's important to us and it's a priority for us.
So that means at least once a month, we're in Barnesville on Sundays at our home church. Which means our church going attendance in Covington usually looks like this: present for 2 Sundays, absent for one, present for one, absent for 2, present for 2, absent for one. Oh dear. I can't even count the number of times we've used that as our excuse. It's just so hard to feel at home when we aren't there for several Sundays in a row. We can't try Sunday School because we'll be missing the next 2 Sundays. We can't really get involved because we won't be in town enough. If we can't get involved, we won't get to know people. Blah, blah, blah. Even I'm tired of listening to us.... okay, mainly me.
Lately we've both felt convicted about our lack of church attendance here. As the Bible says "Let us not give up meeting together... " Hebrews 10:25. And we want more than anything for our children to come to know and trust our Savior and learn as much about Him as possible. We read Bible stories at home and pray together and work on memorizing verses and talk about what's pleasing to God and how much He loves us, but the bottom line is that we need to be in church every Sunday. Period. We need to be with other believers. We need to sing His praises. We need to be taught.
(Garrison and Austin both went to church in Barnesville at a month old, but here, we hold out almost 6 months. Cause, you know, it's just not the same...
It's so easy to hand my babies over to our friends at church in Barnesville... friends who know us and love us and love our babies. Plus if anyone needs anything, my mom and mother-in-law are steps away. AnAn's in the building somewhere too. And our dads. Plus my grandparents if for some reason no one else can be tracked down. And I'm not even factoring in the pager we carry into the service with us.
Handing our babies over to strangers on the other hand, not so easy. Even though the strangers are kind and loving, it's different when we don't know them personally and don't really know how our babies are spending the hour. With Austin, we were hestiant at first because he was just too little and life was still upside down. Then it was because church attendance wouldn't work out with his feedings. Then he was still too little. There was always an excuse.)
Having said all that, we've finally reached a decision that will require prayer and accountability and dedication and consistency... that we'll attend church every Sunday, whether we're here or in Barnesville. We're not going to worry about Sunday School just yet or trying to get involved, we're just going to take one step at a time and first make it a habit to be in church every Sunday. Whether we're amongst strangers or friends and family. Brother Garth has said more than once that church attendance won't be more than a habit to you until you first make it a habit. That's what we've got to establish first, a church-going habit. Then we'll think and pray about the other stuff.