Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Church Search

Today we went out to a typical church for our denomination. Paul and I dressed up knowing it was a more traditional place. We were still under dressed. Paul was one of three guys in the whole place not wearing a jacket. Whoops! So we go into all of this trying to be open to the new experience. The church was beautiful. Very clean neat and orderly. It was also very cold. Not one person welcomed us. During the passing of the peace we were all but ignored until the very last moment when the people in front of us turned around. The best we got was an associate pastor smiling a half smile and telling us they were so happy to have us. Some how, I don't think she meant it. She looked pained just to say it. Maybe I read too much into it because at that point we were ready to leave and church hadn't started yet. Church started considerably late, which as a parent of a two year old was high frustrating. I only get an hour to keep her still after that it is unbearable for all parties involved.

I read the bulletin as I waited. There was no mention of mission. Fundraisers check. Meetings check. Note about sending your children to the appropriate worship with out their parents check. It became clear that there was no place for us a "young" family with a 2 year old. Worship apparently starts at 3 years old. There was no note of a nursery. People were not very understanding of Lilia's chattering or speaking in tongues as I like to call it. So we were toughing it out. Paul took Lilia out of church twice. I was trying to make it through the sermon when Paul came back in and Lilia had leaked out of her diaper all over the both of them. I took my chance and we high tailed it out of there.

I was a little shocked because this church boasts a preschool. How can you have a preschool and not welcome a toddler in worship? The sermon ultimately went into stewardship. I wasn't surprised. They maybe keeping their older folks happy there but inevitably no matter how deep the pockets they are not the future of the church.

Last year when we were out here, we were in worship at the chapel. Lilia was just a year old then. She was fussing and making noise and Paul and I obviously got tense, worship, new people, and trying to make a good first impression. Someone came over to us and told us that her sounds were welcome as a part of the worship in this place. That pretty much sums up what we are looking for in a church home.
Tonight I went back to the church we went to a few weeks ago. I left Paul and Lilia at home because she had already been to church. Paul being very wise encouraged me to go and clear my head after a long day of cleaning and organizing. I headed out on my own and arrived with just a minute to spare. I plopped down in a back pew and noticed this amazing drumming going on. I felt the whole week melt away. I closed my eyes and what happened next I can only describe to you as being a transcendental experience. I relaxed into the pew with my hands open on my lap. I felt myself begin to just sway with my eyes closed. Then it was as if I was somewhere else, some place of tremendous peace and love. As the worship leader called us into worship I was overcome with emotion. Being in a new place I held it back... barely. All through out worship I kept holding back tears. Over and over again I was moved. I witnessed the most beautiful baptism. I left thinking well I think I know where our new church home will be.

Then it hit me, of these two churches the church I come from, that raised me is much more like the first than the second. I thought for a moment maybe I had wasted my time there because I never really connected with the worship. However, I did connect with the people and I never ever felt like Lilia wasn't welcome, they were welcoming her from the moment they knew I was pregnant. I am kind of left wondering why I was called to be in that place, to stick it out, because I often did feel like I was sticking it out. Then it occurred to me that I would not be in this place if it wasn't for that place. I am reminded of the Lion King and the circle of life. I am so blessed to have come from a place that has loved me and helped me grow into this person that I am.


Being the cynic I am often apt to be, I thought for a moment maybe this music I connected so deeply with was meant to manipulate me into this experience. Then again maybe I needed to be brought into that place emotionally to be vulnerable enough to connect with God. I think that is highly likely because I know I put up walls to keep people out and I am beginning to suspect that God may not be excluded from those walls.

I want to go to a field and weep maybe even sob. Alas I still have a paper to write!

Today I am grateful to be a loved child of God. Just as I am.
May you be blessed to know this God intimately.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


This past week two scriptures have come up multiple times, I don't know what it means or if it really means anything at all. I am however noticing that this happened.

The first is Jeremiah 29 which has a verse about seeking the shalom of the city. It is the tag line for the church we attended last weekend. Yesterday I was listening to a radio peace for my homework and the interviewed quoted the verse.

The second is Proverbs 31. I had to read it for homework and it was the preaching text last week in the church we attended. Granted the guy who was preaching was a student here, so he may have been remembering the lesson I am getting today on this verse or it might just be popular around here.

I am not sure if it is coincidence or if God is trying to get my attention, because honestly it could be either.

Today I am grateful for a fresh start in seminary.
May you be blessed with a fresh start somewhere in your life, after all everyday is a day to begin again.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Keeping Focus

This morning I woke up feeling just slightly overwhelmed by the amount of homework I have before me today. Overwhelmed by this undertaking of full time student and mom. I have moments of why am I doing this, yesterday I heard my new classmates say over and over again they didn't know why God had called them here. I can relate, God's call is unrelenting at times. I have no clear answers.

I sat here at my computer paralyzed by fear and anxiety. I started clicking around on some twitter links and I came across this blog post to which I could highly relate. Coming home from the third world and experiencing culture shock in your own culture. That post mentions a Sara Groves song. Which reminded me of this Sara Groves song that I happened across on a friend's blog right after returning from Uganda. This song makes me cry and inspires me equally every. single. time. I hear it.

I sat here listening to it tears slowly streaming down my cheeks as I remember my own break down in the Target back to school aisle 3 years ago. Sometimes I feel like I should just go back to Africa now, but deep down I know that this time this place is preparing me for what is next, and I know that somewhere in the next is Africa. God is preparing me for something, God has called me to something. I have accepted and I press on with out all the understanding I would like. That's the thing about God and call and love, you sometimes just don't know but you have to go forward. I have no idea how a seminary education is going to help me, lead me back to Africa but some how they are related.

As I listen to this song now for about the 5th time this morning, inspiring is stronger than weeping. Every moment when I feel down, overwhelmed, incompetent, run down, I sincerely hope I will take a breath and remember my African babies and what they have faces which is makes all that homework seem like nothing.

At the end of the day when I ask myself what am I doing, why am I doing this, my answer is usually because it's a God thing, because I want to teach my daughter about the strength of women and now I think I have to add for my African babies.

Be Blessed in a Love so deep it brings bittersweet tears in hot streaks down your face.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Today I am grateful for relationships.
Marriage, mother-child, family, friends, church family and the list goes on and on.

May you be blessed by many life giving relationships!

Monday, August 8, 2011

On Finding a Church

Part of this move is finding a new church. I have attended the same church for the past 13 years or so. I never really looked for a church too seriously when we moved away and then I would move back and there would be my church. We knew we had to find a church and we wasted no time getting started. Last night we went to an evening service that you could certainly call alternative. All the pieces of liturgy were there but you had to look for them in order to recognize them.

Lilia was a handful is the nicest possible way to put it. I didn't realize how challenging it would be to have her in a totally new church environment. She thought it was play time and Paul and I were sweating with anxiety about how she was crazy. We almost left half way through the worship but stuck it out taking turns with her. Luckily the people there were very understanding and asked to to keep bringing her back. That wins them major points in our book.

On the way home I looked at Paul and said we have to talk about what kind of church we want to raise Lilia in. It just sort of hit both of us, we have a choice. Neither of us was raised in a church or Sunday school so we are kind of at a loss. When I finish school and ordination, we might not have a choice if I end up in full time church ministry, but right now we do.

The church (and by church I mean the people not the building) was very progressive, very unstructured, very open, very welcoming. Paul didn't really get into the worship, I could have if I wasn't so stressed about baby wrangling. We agreed to try it again for a few weeks because it is going to take some time to feel it out and get Lilia into acting like a human rather than a feral cat.

So what do we want for her? What do we want to teach her about God, Jesus, church, people? The thing is in this service yesterday there were canoodling lesbians, I debated if I wanted to post that, I don't know them but it still seems like an invasion of their privacy. I have seen lots of church canoodlers before but never of the same gender. I love that they were comfortable enough in this place, in this time of worship to be who God made them to be. I can certainly learn a lot from that, because let's be honest we all put on a few masks in church, don't we?

There was not a structured Sunday school program though. Is that important? Here's my gut, in a world where so many Christians are teaching hate and fear; I think it is much more important for Lilia to be raised in a place where she learns love and acceptance than it is for her to memorize the story of Jonah and the Whale (big fish). However when she is older, I think the right youth program will be a safe place for her to develop and mature in her own faith.

Our temporary decision, explore traditional churches in the morning hours while trying to go a little deeper in relationship with this church in the evening hours. Crazy for a girl who just told you her child acts like a feral cat in worship.

Today I am grateful for the opportunity to choose what we teach our daughter about God.
May you be blessed in intentional chooses in your life.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Rainy Sunday

It's a rainy Sunday morning after a night of thunderstorms that kept our bed full of visitors like the dog and our girl. This new place is really starting to shape up. It almost feels like home. It is strange being in a new area where not very much is familiar. Tonight we are planning on checking out a church that meets in the evening, the prospect of this has us very excited. There are so many churches here we could probably try one out every week until we move away and still not see them all.

Today I am grateful for this new experience.
I am prayerful as school gets ready to begin.
May you be blessed by living life in a very full way.

Friday, August 5, 2011

It's Been Awhile

Hello There!

As you might have guessed life has been a little crazy. Today we are taking the day off from unpacking, school work and organizing to celebrate our baby's SECOND birthday! We are off to the playground soon and then maybe a park, out for a special dinner tonight and then ice cream cake and one last birthday surprise. It will be a day full of toddler excitement.

I just wanted to check in with you my loyal readers.

Until I have time to write a serious blog entry again, here is a little funny to hold you over. Yesterday, I unpacked our little dry erase count down board and Paul joked how many more days, I said -3. He got quiet and then declared that it should now be our count down to my graduation which is 3 years away or approximately 1018 days. I think we might hold off on that one for a little while!

Today I am grateful for my beautiful baby girl who is growing up way too fast for my liking!
May you be blessed with gratitude for your family or someone you love.