This post is an ode to Stone Church of Yakima, WA.  Now, I didn’t grow up at this church necessarily.  I came when I was 19 years old.  I went kicking and screaming actually the first time.  I didn’t want to go to that church.  I had my own ignorant views of that church and I never ever wanted to go there.  But then I did. My sister and brother-in-law, started going there in 2000 and urged me to join them because I wasn’t doing very well at that specific season of my life.  But God has a way of always knowing exactly what we need.

On December 27, 2000, a Wednesday night, I went to Generation Church (The youth ministry of Stone Church).  I remember meeting only 3 people (Lucy, Dan, Ryan H.) that night.  I remember exactly what I wore and I never wore that wool sweater or those corduroy pants again.  Slowly but surely, I started getting involved-it took months of God trying to work some confidence in my timid heart but He did it. All those things I got to be apart of:  Played keyboard for worship team-even sang too!, managed the camera for services, headed up security (Yeah, that didn’t last too long but I can still say I was head of security-for about 3-4 months), ushered, led Junior High small groups, cooked for VSM for 2 years, did nursery, taught the Junior High class, taught the College class, led a college small group, led prayer, led a Yakima Mission Trip/VBS, did Adopt-a-block for a year (there are some stories in that whole endeavor-hahahah picture me, a 5’1″ red-head with a 6’9″ black man walking the streets of the ghetto, going door to door, asking people if we can pray for them or do some yard work-I loved it!), did the Halloween drama/outreach two years in a row (I was a red-headed step child one year, and the next year I was a cheerleader :), yard sales, sleepovers, corn mazes, camp nurse in Whistler/Sun River(even before I was a nurse, I was camp nurse-don’t tell anyone’s parents), mission trips to Los Angeles/Orlando,  painted rooms, cleaned rooms, did scavenger hunts, interns, prayer team etc. Obviously, I didn’t do all those things at the same time.  I knew that building quite well but I knew the people even better.  I’ve dressed up as a Mrs. Potts at that church for Halloween.  I had my first date with a boy from that church.  I was challenged, mentored, prayed for, encouraged, supported, etc. from the amazing, devoted, faithful people of that church.  I found gifts I never had.  I used gifts I still don’t have.  I laughed and I cried more times than I can count.

I transitioned out of that church in June 2008.  By that time, my roots were deep.  So deep.  The decision to leave was not easy, not hasty, not unpainful.  When your roots are deep, any transplant of any kind, whether from God or not, is going to take effort, it takes a tearing away that you can’t prepare for.  I left on good terms and when I go back to visit, I remember how much I loved that body of believers.  And if leaving that church had been easy, it would have been proof that I wasn’t that committed, that involved, that loved.  But it wasn’t easy, it wasn’t ho-hum, it wasn’t a la-dee-dah skip through the park. It was an enormous sacrifice to leave a place that I considered home.

The church has gone through much transition since I left 2 years ago but this morning as I went again, I realized, it’s got the same spirit, the same anointing, the same love.  And I cried.  Throughout the service, I cried.Why?  Why cry over something you haven’t been apart of for 2 years?

BECAUSE when your roots are deep in a place, you don’t just forget about it.  You can take me out of Stone Church but you can’t take the Stone Church out of me.  I left and we all moved on.  But my deep love for those people and my concern, care, and compassion for them has not changed.  Those people mean the world to me.

That place will always be a symbol of the great work God did in my life from the ages of 19-27.  Some of the most formative years of my life happened in a place I swore I would never go.

So, here’s to Stone Church.  Here’s to Pastor Jon Oletzke, Pastor Ryan Oletzke, Pastor Brian Dolleman, and Pastor Micahn Carter-I mention them by name but I am thinking also of their wives and everyone else I still hold so dear to my heart (not to be over the top but seriously, I am trying to express my love so work with me why don’t you!)  Thank you.  Thank you for your faithfulness to my city.  Thank you for sticking it out when others gave up.  Thank you for your faithfulness to God, His Word, and to prayer.  You have no idea the impact you have made.