My family doesn’t go to church. My brother attends a local youth ministry, but that’s it. I’m lucky if I can even get my parents to go to go to my brother’s church on Sunday. In America, none of this is really abnormal for a family – until you meet me. I’m a student at a Christian university. I attend a local church every Sunday morning. (I haven’t missed or been late to service in over a year). I also am involved in a Life Group through church, serve as a youth ministry volunteer, and attend one of the on-campus Christian ministries. To top it all off, I am a religion minor and plan to be a youth ministry director and missionary after college.

Needless to say, there is quite a disconnect between my family and I. Before moving to Birmingham, I sat on the back pew of a church. Alone. I did this for an entire year. After I made the move to Birmingham for college, I (eventually) found a church home thanks to the wonderful Rachel Ray.

Today, I have a church family – like a real family – who has adopted me as their “Sunday kid.” At 8:13 AM on Sunday morning, I walk into Oak Mountain Presbyterian’s sanctuary, walk down the left aisle, and locate the family I sit with every Sunday. They even save me a seat if I’m running late (and by late, I mean 30 seconds before service starts).

I’m so thankful for this family. They are the people who make me feel loved at church, who, just through saving me a seat every single Sunday, remind me that I matter in the Church. They know things about my life, and equally as important, they give the best hugs ever.

Being almost 150+ miles from home isn’t easy. What do you do if you need something “mom-ish” or you need someone “dad-ish” to look at your car? Having a local church family here to be my Birmingham family makes all of that a whole lot easier, and for that, I am thankful.