(This picture of our church was obtained from the church website at www.uniongrovebaptist.com and is the property of whomever took it. There were no photo credits on the site that I saw.)
I finally have a few minutes to sit down and write about one of the most important changes that has occurred since we've been back here in Douglas County: our church home. Not many people know how we came to go to church there. When Jake and I were first married, we bought a house in Powder Springs. Charles was born while we lived there, and Jeremy and Jennifer went to their first years of school in that community as well. I was actively involved in genealogy at that time. With Dad and Granddaddy both recently deceased, I felt the driving need to find out as much about my family history as I could and ask for stories from my living relatives while I still had the opportunity. Our close proximity to the Central library in Marietta with the GA Room also influenced my decision to compile family research. Over the 3 years that we lived in that house in Powder Springs, I filled in over 1,000 names on my family tree and discovered connections (however distant and vague) to some interesting famous people. As mentioned in a previous blog, I found my link to Jane Austen, of whose 18th/early 19th century novels I am so fond. I found our link to 16 or so American Presidents and over 2 dozen authors. But during that research I found that while my mother's side abounded with information and easily accessible records and written histories and recorded information, my father's side proved to be difficult to trace. Especially his dad's side. As both Dad and his father were not alive to ask questions of, I turned to Dad's mom and sisters for leads. I thought surely they could provide me with something. A name or a document that might grant me the names and dates of my great grandparents and thus lead from them further back. To protect living people from identity theft, it is difficult to obtain any personal information after to the 1930 census. Any dates prior to that, the censuses and cemeteries make it easy (well, easier) to trace ancestors back through history at least to the point where they came to America from another country. All I could get from Dad's side of the family was my great-grandparents names: Charlie and Mary Ethel Wallace. After MUCH searching of census records in heaven knows how many GA counties (I won't bore you with the menial details) I at long last found where they were buried: Union Grove Baptist Church Cemetery in Lithia Springs. Lithia Springs is here in Douglas County! Because it was my mother's family who settled here and led to us moving here and me going to school here and everything, it never dawned on me that any of Dad's side of the family might have been in this county at some time or other too! It was just around the time that I discovered that they were buried there that we were forced by economic circumstances to rent out our house and move to Grandmother's until we could sell our house (we eventually foreclosed along with 3/4 of everyone else in Cobb county because the housing market was so bad and it didn't sell, but that's neither here nor there.) So it was that one Sunday during the process of packing up our house to move, we visited Union Grove for a service. The church is comparable in size to the church in Lumpkin where Jake's Daddy served as pastor for many years, so he was very comfortable almost at once. Which is saying something, because Jake hates change. He hates large crowds of unfamiliar people and during the time that we visited several churches in the Powder Springs area I was very proud of him for his willingness to do so at all. While all of those churches that we visited were nice and the people all sweet and welcoming, none of them felt like HOME. There is just something about going to a church and knowing that you belong within that circle of fellow believers and building relationships there. It's just an inward feeling and I can hardly even describe it. We enjoyed the service at Union Grove more than we had any of our time at the other churches combined. We decided to go back again. The pastor and some of the members came to our house during the week to visit and make us welcome. (I am rather embarrassed to admit that the house was in such chaos with packing up that I had not a single chair to offer them to sit, so we sat outside on the porch. Very luckily, it was a beautiful day out.) There is something about Brother Ken's preaching that is just the right blend of teaching as well as preaching. Most of the sermons at the other churches we visited were all focused on becoming saved. This is important and I know that there are people in the church who may not have come to Jesus yet and it IS important to lead them to Him. Brother Ken's messages always include an invitation toward the end of the sermon. But it seemed to us, at the other churches, that we couldn't get any further than HOW to be saved. Well, we knew how- we had done it. What next? What do we do with it? How can we grow in our walk with Him? Brother Ken's sermons always give me something that apply to what is going on in my life at the time and I find answers to those questions. He always makes the scripture make sense and I see how it is relevant to what I am going through, good or bad, at the time. He shows me how to better share my faith with the lost. We visited Union Grove for only a few months- perhaps 6 or 8 Sundays- before deciding together that we were, at last, HOME. It was the day before the Sunday we walked down together as a family to make our membership request known that I found out that we were pregnant with Emily! Any time I needed anything during the pregnancy, the members were right there to help. (Mostly this was in the form of getting up and down out of the pew in the last trimester!) Emily has found a second family in the Hennesys. Jennifer and Meghan and Renee "kidnap" her whenever I let them for a Sunday afternoon or a weekend when we want to go somewhere that taking a baby would be difficult (i.e. reenactments or Jake and I going on a date together.) I am so grateful for my church family. God has blessed us enormously through their love. When Jake had a kidney stone last September, God arranged it just so that Miss Kelly was on her way out to parking at the hospital from visiting someone when I had to take Jake in. She took Emily home to Mom and Grandmother so that I could stay with Jake and give him and his doctor my undivided attention. God is so good! All the time! I hate to miss a Sunday at Union Grove. We will be gone this weekend to the beach. Renee and Meghan will keep Emily so that I can focus on the other 3 children. This is Charles' first trip to the beach and we thought it would be better for Emily to be a little older before we take her too. There isn't much that she could do there and I wouldn't be able to take pictures or play with the other children for having to watch her. I will be missing her and them and church Sunday morning as we make our way back home. Jake will be taking over duties as choir director in September so Mr. Charlie can have time with his wife Kathy and both of them recover their health. I am so sorry that they are not well many days. We continually keep them in our prayers, that God would heal them and pour out his blessings on them. Though I am sorry that Charlie must take his leave as director, I am grateful that he has asked Jake to fill in, and I am looking forward to being in choir under my husband's direction.
Speaking of, my husband is home from work, so I'll end now and go see him.
The Lord Bless You and Keep You