So now I’ve made this big production about left- and right-leanings. It comes from a place deep inside of me that is totally alarmed by the division I see all around me in my country and the world. Just like we need balance in our personal lives, we need balance amongst each other. Divide and conquer. Our true enemy seems to be doing a really good job of dividing us up. I hope we’ll all wake up soon, before it’s too late. But God’s still in control ... we’ll keep watching and praying!
I’ve been focused mainly on the physical side of things ... the physical limitations we’ll run into when writing and drawing our books. But the structure we live in has another dimension – the spiritual dimension. And the limits set in that dimension are much more compelling and consequential than any physical limit.
Before we end July’s blogs, I’d like to tell you about a very special church in southeast Atlanta. If you’re in need of a church home, and live in the metro area, you might want to check them out ...
In June’s blogs when I was telling all my tall dog tales, I told you a bit about Bill’s and my first home on Woodland Avenue in southeast Atlanta. We had been married a couple of years when we purchased this house. We were both Christians, but hadn’t attended church since marrying.
Our very first night in the house, we were awakened in the middle of the night with sirens and lights and smoke and all kinds of ruckus! A vacant house directly across the street had caught fire! So on our first night in our new home, around one or two o’clock in the morning, we got to meet all our neighbors! Including Pastor Herb Gibson and his whole family! Of course he invited us to his church, Woodland Hills Baptist Church, just 2 blocks down from our house at the corner of Woodland and what was then Confederate Avenue.
Established around 1928, Woodland Hills had been a fairly large church in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. The surrounding neighborhood had been moderately affluent and mostly white. In the mid to late 60’s there was “The Great White Flight” away from Atlanta, and to outlying areas around the city ... the suburbs were born! The areas around Woodland Avenue and Ormewood Park deteriorated. Woodland Hills and other nearby churches took a hard hit and were struggling to make it. But eventually, folks began moving back into these areas and renovating the older houses and the neighborhood had somewhat of a comeback. Bill and I moved there in 1976.
Woodland Hills is very special to both Bill and I. He got involved leading the youth group and we have many wonderful memories of special times, special trips and special relationships that continue to this day. It was fun writing about the dogs last month, because all those now-grown-up kids – some of them grandparents! – remember Sherman! Woodland Hills is special to me mainly because the people there discipled me. I had grown up in church, and I loved God. But I had never understood that I could really have an actual relationship with Him, interacting with Him, talking to Him, allowing Him to guide me daily. It was all perfectly timed, because within a year or so some terrible and painful storms blew through my life, resulting in estrangement from my family. I wouldn’t have survived those storms if not for a loving husband, wise counsel and support from Pastor Gibson and my church family, and, most of all, my new up-close-and-personal relationship with God. God had known what was coming and had me all settled in a safe space before the storms ever hit!
In the mid 80’s, Bill and I moved to Fayettville, 45 miles south of Atlanta, and joined a new church closer to our new home. But we always kept that connection to Woodland Hills. Over 35 years we’ve watched the church and the surrounding area go through many transitions. Many of the other churches in the area hit hard times and closed their doors. Woodland Hills struggled, too, but always seemed to hang on just a bit longer. Membership would wax and wane. Several pastors came and went. We went to many Homecomings thinking, Well, this will probably be the last one! But God still had plans for this little church ... big plans!
Fast forward to about 4 or so years ago ... and Woodland Hills has new leadership, Pastor Arthur Breland.
Do you remember what Mordecai told Esther, something along the lines of: Who knows but that you have been placed in this position for such a time as this? That, I think, pretty much sums up why Pastor Arthur is at Woodland Hills. I believe God groomed him, trained him and brought him to this place for such a time as this. And not just Arthur ... God has assembled a whole team and it is amazing to watch what He is about at Woodland Hills these days! There is slow, steady growth and lots of healing going on there, in individual lives as well as the community at large. Bill and I are still a bit engaged with the church and feel so honored that God allowed us to witness what He’s doing there after all these years!
The church is going through lots of growing pains and many exciting changes!
And, yeah, there’s some great stories here, but I’d need a year's worth of blogs!
Check out their website, www.whcatl.com or come visit some Sunday. Worship begins at 10:30 am.
In the meantime, come back in August ... we’re going to discuss JOY!!