Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER (02/28/19)
TITLE: In His Absence
By Holly Westefeld
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Lauren picked up a couple of lip balms, nestling them amongst the socks in Jeremy's box. "It is just one of the things I love about the group here."
"Lauren, I don't know what I would do without this Family Readiness Group! I mean, Tadd and I email every day, and video chat whenever he can, but it is also being able to gather with other families who truly understand what it's like to have the person you love the most thousands of miles away that keeps his absence bearable."
"I completely agree, Tina. I'm so glad our company has an active and dynamic FRG. I've been in some where it was like pulling teeth to get anyone to volunteer for anything, and others that had somehow forgotten what it was like to be new, pretty much ignoring "outsiders."
"Oh, that would be terrible! You have all been so friendly and welcoming, and the kids love the activities, too. The tips on preparing them for Tadd's absence have been invaluable!"
"I'm glad you are availing yourself of these resources. The ones who isolate, trying to get through this time of separation all on their own, are often the ones who end up in crisis."
"I can see why. Without friends and faith, it would be unbearable."
Lauren nodded. "Yes, faith helps me, too. Please pass a couple of those meat sticks."
Tina smiled. "Trade you meat sticks for a hand sanitizer. Where do you go to church?"
Lauren handed Tina the hand sanitizer. "Oh, I may go to church sometimes for a Christmas or Easter service, but mostly I do my own thing, watch a service on TV, read the verse of the day on the Bible app, you get the idea..."
"We found a church we really love before Tadd deployed, but I so miss having him next to me on Sunday mornings. He has a nice bass voice, and picks out harmonies by ear. Easter is coming up. Would you and the kids like to join us?"
"I don't know... We have the brunch here on base..."
Tina circulated baskets of foot powder, lotion, crackers, and gum. "There are a lot of military families in our church, so they scheduled the Easter service earlier to accommodate the brunch."
Lauren shifted. "I'll think about it. I'm just wary, because I've had some bad experiences."
"It sounds like you have had some bad experiences with FRGs, too, but you are here. No church is perfect either, but you won't find one that is a good fit unless you keep trying. Unlike the FRG, you aren't assigned a church. The body of Christ misses those eyes, ears, fingers, and toes that don't participate. Each person has unique spiritual gifts that contribute to the dynamics of the local church. I look at it as my earthly FRG while I wait to join my beloved Jesus in Heaven."
"Hmmm... I never thought of it like that before. I'll think about it."
"And pray. Pray for wisdom, because my church may not be where God needs you and Jeremy, but He does need you somewhere."
Tina closed her box, taped it, and handed the tape to Lauren.
"Okay, I'll do that."
"Great! Just like with FRGs, it is what you make of it, and if you see a need for change, be the change you want to see. As I said, it's not perfect, but it's the best we have in His absence."
Lauren gathered the remaining items to store for the next care package event. "I'll call you, Tina, if I decide to check it out, or see you at the brunch either way."
Tina smiled. "Sounds good. I'll pray, too."
Hebrews 10:23-25. "23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another— and all the more as you see the Day approaching." NIV
1 Corinthians 12.
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