A love letter to my church

Dear River City Family –

Well, by now you may have noticed that we’re not around much anymore. In an ideal world, I would have loved an opportunity to hug on your necks and tell you personally how much it has meant to me to be part of the River City family and to join you in worship each week. Unfortunately, the way things transpired, it wasn’t possible. So, this is my love letter to you, a small good-bye by way of explanation.

Last spring, Nick and I started to feel a certain restlessness – a sense that God was preparing us to be called out of River City and into something new. I was very much in denial about this, and out of deference to me and the ministries I was involved in, Nick didn’t press the issue. We prayed through the summer, and while we still felt that niggling sense of restlessness, we didn’t feel like we had a clear call to take any kind of action.

And then Jason and Natalie announced they were moving to New Braunfels. And that restless feeling intensified.

In early November, you may remember that I decided to add some pink streaks to my hair. My reasons were two-fold: an online jewelry friend named Lori Anderson added some pink to her hair a couple of years ago as she was battling some health issues, and it became her calling card, a declaration of her refusal to submit to her physical limitations and seek the best life she could for herself in spite of the challenges she was dealing with. A number of jewelers across the country added pink to their hair this past year in solidarity, and – since my One Word for last year was “fearless” – I decided to make a statement of solidarity with Lori and declare my own “fearlessness” at the same time. In addition, I was preparing for my first big jewelry show and a friend said that I should look as much like an artist as possible. So, off I went to get temporary pink streaks in my hair.

I didn’t really think that through. Sean and Darna were extremely gracious about it, and during the meeting Nick and I had with them, I took the opportunity to share my heart about my service on the team, our history at River City, and about some of the frustrations and concerns I had about my service, the things that I felt were contributing to the sense of restlessness I had been feeling for months. When we left that meeting, I think we all felt like we had communicated well and really heard one another.

But as I continued to pray, that restlessness intensified. Nick and I began to talk seriously about what God was doing and saying in our lives, what we were really meant to be doing. And I began to understand that because I had mentally taken leaving the Worship Team off the table with God – I was hanging onto you guys SO HARD in my heart – I had made it really hard to hear what God wanted from me. I had some real heart work to do. And as long as I was that conflicted, I really felt I owed it to Sean and Darna not to step back on the platform until my heart was resolved.

We had a series of communications with Sean over the next few weeks about what I was feeling, and the more we talked about it, the more evident it became to both me and Nick that God was closing a door – pretty firmly. By Christmas, we knew it was time for us to go – and the decision we made was not to shake up anyone over the holidays. The plan was to talk more with Sean and with all of you after the New Year.

But you know what they say about plans. Before New Year’s rolled around, both Nick and I were down hard with the flu. If you have served with me for any length of time, you know that cedar season in Texas is the bane of my existence – and the flu on top of it made for a very hard few weeks. In fact, I really only got back on my feet this past week, after nearly three full weeks of being flat on my back. By now, it had been almost two months since we’d seen you or served with you, and it felt awkward to come back just to say good-bye. (Maybe that’s cowardly on my part – I don’t know – but if it is, I hope you will forgive me.) Throughout all this time, we were in touch with Sean and with Aaron Powers at River City Northwest, which is where we feel we’re meant to be serving now. (Nick is actually excited about this move – and if you know Nick, “excited” isn’t something that he gets about church stuff generally. I’m taking this as a sure sign we’re taking the right steps.)

So there you have it. That brings us to right now. And here’s the thing: I know change is hard, and few of us like it. I resisted this for a long time – but the time is now. And when God is moving, and we are responding out of a real desire to know and do his will, the outcome will always be better than anything we can plan for ourselves. That’s true for me and Nick in this move – and it’s true for you at RCCC. Here’s something else I know, with certainty: Sean and Lauri Azzaro and the other members of the leadership team are men and women of God who are passionate about and committed to his work in San Antonio. I know they seek him in everything they do, and that the decisions they make and the directions in which they will lead you are carefully considered and intended to bring you all nearer to the place God has for you and the work he has for you to do. You are in good hands.

And so, I will be eager to hear what God is doing for you and through you in the coming months and years, as I will be eager to share his work in us and at Northwest. Those of you with whom I’ve served for the last (almost) eight years… you know my heart. You know – I hope – how much I love you. It has been my great pleasure and privilege to serve and worship with you. And as hard as it is to go, this is not goodbye (and I am perhaps even a little glad that God worked out our departure in this way, so that I don’t have to do my ugly crying in front of you, just here in my quiet place, watering my keyboard). Please know that I will be lifting you up in prayer, each of you individually and the entire RCCC community. Drop me an email, let’s go have coffee, poke me on Facebook. I want to know how you are and I would love to hear from you.

And so, my friends, we part ways for this portion of the journey. You go with my love and my deep appreciation for the time we’ve had together. May God richly bless you as you continue in his work. I love you all.

Your sister in Christ –



6 replies
  1. Shirley Moore
    Shirley Moore says:

    Oh sweetie, I know some of what you are going through, and have gone through these past months. It is so very hard to step out on faith, relying only on God’s direction. And especially when it’s a decision you didn’t know was coming, and didn’t really want….that was what happened to me in moving to SC. I have gone through a lot of growth, which I see was God’s plan. I am very happy that I submitted, but it took me a bit to get to that point. I will keep you and your former church, and your new one in my prayers, sweet woman!

    • Francesca
      Francesca says:

      Thank you so much, Shirley – my heart was heavily invested in this church, and I think God worked things out to make the leaving a little less painful. It’s sad, but it’s also very, very exciting to step out in a new direction. Can’t wait to see what God does next!!

  2. Paul Heinzman
    Paul Heinzman says:

    PTL – Hearing from God as he moves on your live in a new direction is exciting. I know that as he leads you will find the peace as you walk in His will. I love you both so much.

  3. Tammy Heinzman
    Tammy Heinzman says:

    I can relate to your restlessness as well lovely lady. When Paul first told me that he feels the Lord was leading us to go to Northwest to help Aaron that didn’t go too well with me. I was just starting to get into fellowshipping at RCCC plus feeling very comfortable about myself in serving and knowing the people. It took a while for me to be a part of the fellowship. I had to leave it in the Lord’s care on how this would develop while we slowly were released from our areas of service.

    It has now been two years of attending River City Northwest and it is amazing to see how the Lord provides and replaces things in our lives. I now have friendships at both campuses and have been able to bring my skills with me to assist in ministry. The Lord continues to show us what He can do if only we step back and trust Him in all areas. He definitely takes us through a variety of life changes. The biggest thing of all is I need to trust Him continually and let go of the things I have taken on myself. There is no need for me to hold on to anything (even the fear of letting go can be strong). He has shown me how much He cares as I remain obedient.

    The Lord bless you in your service of ministry where ever He places. He will not misguide you. We love you very much.

  4. Dianne Filip
    Dianne Filip says:

    Hey girl!!
    I was wondering where you were. So glad that “God” is moving you, and you are not ill!!!
    Praying for you to be Blessed beyond measure, and I know that Aaron & Natalie are blessed too!!
    I’ll miss you’re bright cheerful disposition at church, but am so glad you are being faithful to the calling!!
    Be blessed my friend!!!
    You will be missed!!
    Love In Christ!
    Dianne Filip 🙂

  5. tonya swetman
    tonya swetman says:

    thank you soo much for the beautiful love letter. we will miss you, but I know God has big plans for you at NW w/aaron. may God bless you both in your service to Him. love tonya


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