There's something about my church that I really appreciate. It's simple really - they love Miami. You see, it's not an easy city to love. I've had my own struggles with this city. When we left in 2008 and headed for North Carolina I was sure we would never call Miami home again. I was just done with this place. So we embraced the South and the quaint life we had there. And then we made a move out west. Denver seemed like such an exciting place. And it was. Denver has a lot to offer and we really enjoyed our time there. But God has a way of taking our plans and saying, "yeah, that's cute...but here is what I have for you..."
So we found ourselves back in Miami. Honestly I was frustrated at first. HOW did we end up back here? How had we failed in our mission to never live in this humid, crowded, crazy expensive place again?? The answer was simple...God wanted it that way.
I always say we moved back to be close to family - and that is absolutely true. We love being close to our family. We love having our kids grow up with their cousins and grandparents. But there's more to it than that. Miami is a city in need of Jesus. And Miami is MASSIVE. I mean, there are friends of mine who live in the same city as I do but it can take 45 minutes to an hour to visit them because this place is so big (and the traffic, oy).
It's easy to dislike this place, especially since we have seen what life in other parts of the country can be like. I sometimes wistfully recall autumn in Raleigh or local farm-fresh restaurants in Denver. But after two years back in this place I am really appreciating Miami for what it is - and my church has been a great help in that.
So many people (and churches) simply tolerate Miami. They just think, "it is what it is, so we might as well try to enjoy it." But not my church. They LOVE this place. I love hearing the pastors talk about Miami with deep affection. Miami is a unique place, there's no place in the country like it. And it's not just the city itself, it's the people in the city. My church is doing so much to help and support Miamians. Sometimes I am too near-sighted. I admit that I can be terribly selfish and self-serving. I'm so worried about my own stuff that I don't see others struggling around me. My church has given me a different perspective through their various ministries. It has opened my eyes to see what is happening around me and what I can do to love and appreciate this place and the people myself.
So thanks to my church's example I have really begun to love Miami. This place is amazing! I love our house, I love our church, I love the ocean, I love the little Cuban places that serve cortadito in the morning, I love all the different cultures represented here - I love Miami.