He was interviewing me in front of our preschool through second graders on my very last Sunday at Calvary Chapel San Bernardino. I had called this church home for 8 years, and I had sat in front of these students as Missa Carissa for 7. Today I would say good-bye.
"Well, most importantly, pray that I would never stop loving Jesus and that my life would always bear much fruit."
John Deming asked the kids what it meant for me to bear much fruit. He needed to be sure they knew that Miss Carissa didn't want to have grapes growing from her arms!
Then he he asked, "Hey kids, if you love Jesus, raise your hand!"
About 45 little hands shot up like arrows into the air. I was sitting in the front of the class with John D watching their smiling faces.
Just then, he leaned over towards me, and in the smallest whispers said, "Miss Carissa, see that? There's your fruit."
That's when I lost it. All the composure I have maintained that morning went right out the door and the flood of tears broke forth. As I looked at each kid, I remembered all the amazing mornings I had spent with them. I remembered talking about Heaven with Lexi, and how she said one day I would see her there. I remembered the countless mornings Freddy came into my class crying and begging his parents not to leave him only to leave laughing and begging his parents to let him stay. I remembered the day when Luke and Ethan went from rebellious 4-year-olds who wanted nothing to do with me to two lovable boys who always wanted to play and joke.
The Red Barn was more than just a church to me. It was my home for the first 8 years of my walk with Jesus. There I was feed and loved and supported. There I was given the courage to grow into the woman I have become today. I would not be who I am without the people and teaching of the little Red Barn. It saddened me greatly when God first prompted my heart to tell me it was time to go. It was unexpected. I hadn't planned to leave until I had reached full support and headed to Pasadena. But I am reminded time and time again that God's ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts. So I obeyed, even through tears, knowing that God had a purpose even if I didn't see it.
By the time class ended this Sunday, I was filled with such joy and excitement for both what had been and what is to come. Since deciding to leave the Barn, some gigantic doors have opened in my life and a new paths are unfolding. I have a great confidence that this was indeed the right decision. I am ready to pour new wine into new wine skins, to embark on a new journey of faith. I am ready to experience God in new ways, falling more and more in love with Him.
I will always cherish the many beautiful faces that make up the church at the Red Barn. And don't worry...I'll be back to visit sometime soon. But for now, it's time to say good-bye.
Good-bye little Red Barn.
Thank you for all that you have done for me.
Thank you for being a refuge from the world and a place of love and truth.
I feel incredibly honored to be a part of you,
to serve you and be loved by you.
Thank you for being the wings to my dreams and giving my the courage to fly.