June 22, 2009

I ♥ James River

There are so many things I love about my hometown. I love walking into my parents' house, throwing off my shoes and lounging on the couch beside my dad to watch Judge Judy (one of his favorites). I love going on long walks with my little brother and sister to catch up and talk about life. I love driving to my Grandpa’s to eat a meal in which everything on my plate came from his garden. I love driving to Branson to hit the outlet malls. If we’re lucky enough to swing by Silver Dollar City it’s a good visit. I love eating cashew chicken and getting ice cream at Andy’s. I could go on and on.

But what I miss most (besides family & friends) is my church. Todd and I haven’t been able to go to a service there in more than a year, maybe more. Our visits to Ozark are so short and we’re typically heading back to Nashville on the Sunday mornings we’re in town. This past weekend we made time. I have been homesick for James River for awhile. I’ve been talking about it more, listening to sermons online and downloading sermons to listen to in the car; anything to get a taste of being at that church.

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James River is a large Assemblies of God church that is home to nearly 10,000 attendees. To me, it’s the place where my life truly began. I met Jesus there. I had been told about Him my whole life, but I met Him in the walls of that church. I gave my life to Him in that church. I was baptized in that church and I was filled with biblical knowledge that will last forever. I learned what it meant to serve. I learned what it meant to be head over heels in love with my Savior. I witnessed the power of prayer in a powerful way.

Now, am I going to sit here and say that God wouldn’t have pursued me if I hadn't gone to James River Assembly? No. But I am going to say that there is an unbelievable anointing on that place. You can feel it when you walk in the doors. I remember my eyes filling with tears as I felt the Holy Spirit moving…and that was just on my way to find a seat. I think back to worshiping among a crowd of thousands and feeling like it was only me and my Creator in the room. I am different because of that church. I am better because of its leadership.

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Todd and I have no intentions of moving back to Ozark. I am home in Tennessee. I wake up in the morning knowing I am living in God’s will and it’s an amazing feeling. I have a wonderful church home here that I wouldn’t trade. I am living out my dreams here. I am working in an industry I have dreamed of since I was a small child. Our family is here. I want to raise my children here.

But, if you were to try to convince me to move back to Ozark, your best tactic would be to use James River. Remind me of John Lindell’s incredible teaching. Refresh my memories of the outstanding children’s program. Tell me about getting lost in the worship. You might start to slowly pull me back.

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I’m so thankful for JRA and wish everyone I knew had the chance to visit. I’m so glad we spent our Sunday at James River - A wonderful Father’s Day with our amazing Father.


  1. Tara, this is ABSOLUTELY beautiful. You are a writer/story teller. Thank you for being vulnerable enough to share your story. - Ash

  2. Selfishly, I'm so glad you're here.

    But I also understand now why a part of your heart is there.

    Thank you for sharing all this. It was beautiful to get to hear more about your heart, your love for God, and the place that first sparked that love.

    I'd love to go there on a Sunday morning with you.

  3. Tara, you just told my heart! The main reason I moved back to Ozark is because of James River...because of the calling God has placed on my life to be there...serve there...live there. My greatest love and passion (after God) is my passion for the local church, the House...particularly James River. I know how you felt, because I left for a year, but I am so glad to be back home there. Next time you are in town and get a chance to go, give me a call and we can go to a service together or get some coffee in the atrium!

  4. How wonderful that you have such a special place in your heart for your "home" church. I will always have special memories of my childhood church. The music, the pastor, the people, and the loving words I always heard there. I hope Wyatt will be as appreciative of his Christian upbringing as I am. There is nothing more important than a relationship with Christ, no matter what church you are in!