Two years ago, my son and I moved to Round Rock, Texas from Taos, NM. I left everything and everyone I knew in my life. My hardest goodbye when leaving was to my two older kids Evelyn and Ryan. My decision to move to another state was solely and selfishly based on one thing, the love pledge of a man who I planned to marry.
Little did I know this whole time God was writing His own love story.
After a year of living in Round Rock my fiancé called it all off and ended our relationship. The breakup was a brutal one... Physically, mentally, spiritually and emotional draining. I was broken in every way and found myself all alone. During my first year in Round Rock I had made not one single friend and all of my family lived in NM. I felt a deep void... internal pain... something in me was missing... I did not feel whole. All at once my past failures, hurts, mistakes, guilt and sins hit me like a ton of bricks.
The only way I knew how to deal with pain was with the pain of hurting myself. Deep in my heart, I knew that was not the answer. I became utterly lost because I did not know the answer. I resorted to my childhood comfort of attending church.
About a month after my break up with my fiancé, my younger son Chris and I attended a church in Round Rock. We walked in and no one greeted us. The flashing lights and loud music distracted us from the Word of God. Not one person spoke to us after the service. Something inside me made me feel as though we did not belong there. (This was all The Holy Spirit moving me into His direction). I began a search on the Internet for the church nearest to where we lived. Round Rock Church of Christ popped up on the search and I navigated their website.
After being able to listen to Justin Gerhardt's sermon online, I was astonished at how well I understood his message. I was so overwhelmed by this new feeling of wanting more that I contacted the church via email. Katy Whiteside, my first contact with the church, was so inviting and sweet. Katy made sure all my questions were answered. My son and I attended our first service, we were greeted with a welcoming smile and given a pamphlet.
We were nervous, so we bee lined to the auditorium and quickly took a seat. As we sat observing and glancing over the pamphlet a beautiful woman with a great big smile approached us..."Hello, my name is Mary, welcome! Where are you from?" A domino effect occurred and others introduced themselves after the service.
The next service was Mothers Day and I received one of the greatest Mothers Day gifts ever... John Cooper, Youth Minister performed the baptism of myself and my son. That day we declared to all that we believe and belong to The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirt. Not long after that we became members of RRCOC.
After attending the meeting for new members and feeling the warmth of the other members, I wanted to dive in head first and plug my son and I into everything. I signed us up to be volunteers at Champs Camp! Robin Marrs, coordinator, made us feel like we had been volunteering for years. She made us feel right at home. I have to add that spending time with little Godly people gave me a deeper understanding of God. Their energy and joy of learning about God is contagious!
While volunteering in the kitchen I met many beautiful women as they shared their stories. One woman in particular, Dawn Duty got to know me on a deeper level and helped sign my son Chris up for SWITCH summer youth retreat. My heart filled as I began to see a transformation in my son. Upon Chris's return from SWITCH he spoke about his learning of Christ.
I wanted more of the church...
We attended pie in the park, filled backpacks for kids, attended morning bible study, and volunteered for infant nursery. I felt a need of wanting to be around more of these people... More of God!
Slowly my void was being filled.
Sadly 3 months after all that I was in a car accident. While I was in the emergency room, I asked my son to call Dawn Duty who I met at Champs Camp and ask her to pray for me. Dawn did more than pray she called church members and an outpour of members came to the hospital to show support and pray for us. Katy Whiteside set up a meal plan where members stepped up and cooked us dinners. Other lovely members (too many to name ) showed love and support in their God-gifted ways.
My heart was definitely feeling something it had never felt before.
Questions that entered my mind were...
- Why do they do all of this for me, I'm so undeserving?
- How can people help me when they don't even know me and my shameful past?
- Why are tears flowing down my face and my heart feeling full at the same time?
- I've been shown many times in my life that I am unlovable, why am I feeling the love?
I was placed in an amazing God chosen, loving and beautiful small group within the church. They showed me great love and support.
Chris joined the youth CORE group who provided God given guidance, love and support to him.
Healing was happening, spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally. My intimacy with God and my church were growing strong. In my hardest hours of heartache, pain, health issues and many great losses... I worshiped and praised God. I continually fell to His feet and surrendered myself. I'd continually fall and He lovingly picked me up and guided me in His direction.
Through it all... I FELL IN LOVE WITH GOD!!!
I became more aware of my growth with God when the preacher's wife, Jennifer Gerhardt messaged me on Facebook and asked me to give an opening prayer at the women's weekend retreat. My first thought when I read her message was, "I'm not qualified to do that." Then I told myself, "Nicole, there is no way you can say no to God and not go to Him in prayer!" Lol...
Hands down one of my favorite moments in life was being asked and nervously able to openly pray for my sisters in Christ. The Holy Spirit deserves all the praise for that moment!
For over a year, many brothers and sisters loved by God showed me a love I had never experienced before.
My son and I attended a Plus One celebration that RRCOC gave in honor of our baptism. We were also blessed to share this honor with our sister in Christ, Jerrin Duty. I can not put into words the love that was poured out that night. The best way I can describe it is... The presence of The Holy Spirit hovered over us all like a comforting cloud, filling each of us up with His joy and love!
Feeling the love shared by RRCOC only makes me want to pay forward the kind of love they showed me. I have seen a glimpse and felt the presence of Jesus here on earth through RRCOC. Sadly, I no longer live in Round Rock and now live in Albuquerque, NM. I miss RRCOC dearly. RRCOC made sure that I will always belong to the RRCOC family... God's church family!
It wasn't the building or the city that made it God's church... It was the people! RRCOC knows how to LIVE LOVE!