From an article originally posted June 9, 2013…
Note from Blythe: I’ve never commented on the Kara’s Collection posts, but I can’t help it this time. Every week that I compile and edit these posts, my heart aches. Every time I copy and paste and read through them, I am taken back to these memories. I have often choked back tears as I’ve worked, but once the document is done, I move on mentally and emotionally; otherwise, I’d be a puddle of tears constantly.
And yet this post…something about it brought back hours and hours of memories. When we first got started with Westside, I would also sit in the front row for the same reasons Kara did, but I sat across the aisle. This made it conducive to sharing smiles with Kara when Lake was intensely watching a bug cross the floor in front of him or someone up front would say a word from our list of silly, abhorred words, like “blouse” or “moist.” After just a couple of months, though, I switched to her side because there was a pillar on my side that was annoying—I couldn’t see my husband, and he’d have to walk around it after leading music. So I sat behind Kara, over her left shoulder. For almost 2 years.
She would still glance back at me to give me “the look” or to share a smile, but for the most part, I spent my Sunday mornings simply watching her parent her littles, help them to follow along when singing, cuddling them, smooching them, encouraging them. I watched her silently pray for Jason and give him her undivided attention and admiration as he preached. I watched the evolution of her hairstyles from her natural hair to bleach blonde to bald to her hair again. I memorized her hats and scarves. I shed tears when her seat would be empty on a hard Sunday.
Thank you for allowing me a few thoughts. I know that when you read the Kara’s Collection posts, you miss her, too. So I know you don’t mind my indulgence as I express my heart and my ongoing grief.
It’s funny to think of the hours I spent starring at the back of her head. I loved the back of that head and what it represented to my heart. I miss the back of that head. I miss this woman, this friend, this sister. What a gal.
I was thinking about something the other day: God has been unbelievably gracious to my pastor. This guy...
For years, as I listened to Jason I would often think of people his words might encourage. Or even harder, I would think who his words might offend. You know when you read your Bible and you think of all the people the verses are good for, but reflect little on your own heart’s deepening and growth? I know; it was wrong. But he’s my guy. I spent so much energy wanting to be well liked. Wanting God to use the words he spoke for His glory. And if I’m perfectly honest, I wanted him to succeed. But something has changed for me this year. God has untied me from those knots. He has blessed me with a new freedom from worry or striving. I have happily repented my desire to please others. I sit in the front row, and I am fed, deeply nourished by the words of my guy. More deeply fed than I have been in years. Sometimes I’m so utterly moved I can’t believe I know Jason. I’m beginning to see him as he is, an instrument. I know how broken he is. I know the difficulty he is facing. I also know how he is clinging to Jesus. That’s what I hear in Jason’s words. A desperate need to know Jesus and tell others about him.
If you visit Westside, you will find me in the front row. Jason and I decided on this for two reasons. We want to do as much of the worship service together as a family. Jason gets to sit with us through most of the service. He’s kind of in this focused bubble, but the kids know he’s with us. And for me, I’m not looking at who is there, who isn’t there. At the end of the service, I’m so excited to greet guests. Westside is God’s. He knows who he’s drawing. He knows who’s there. The humbling breaking of this past year has engraved on our hearts one very important message. IT’S NOT ABOUT US. God has used many means and occasions to teach me this significant lesson. Trust me—I have known this for a very long time. God just likes for me to really understand this point. I often try and take a hold of strength. He likes to show me His strength in my weakness.