Changes

It’s pouring down rain this morning. It makes the perfect setting for good music, coffee, and writing in this space.

The last two months have been busier than I expected. We decided to move from our duplex home to a single family home. Moving is a big deal and typically there’s stress in a move. But this time it was the least stressful move we’ve experienced. There was a great deal of peace surrounding the entire transition.

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Moving day went really well too. Our family and one of our friends came over to help us.

Here are a few pictures of our first week at the new house.

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I’m over-joyed by this fireplace.

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IMG_1548I’m still figuring out where everything goes while having fun decorating.

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IMG_1541This backyard is one of my favorite parts of our home.

IMG_1584Garrett has also been loving it!

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I wanted to put this on the facebook page but will share it here since it’s too long for a facebook post. :)

Last month I spent one evening listening to John Piper’s talk on the life and ministry of Charles Spurgeon. I love to study the Bible but I also love to learn about the people around and before me who lived out Christ-likeness well.

Learning Theology is important to me and even though I had heard quotes like the ones below from Spurgeon it wasn’t until hearing this talk that I was just blown away by His heart for God and other people. He preached Biblical truth without apology. I hope the preachers of our time will continue to do that. Good teaching is hard to listen to but so important.

“There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on His Word spiritual strength for labour in his service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. . . . Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord. . . .”
― Charles H. Spurgeon

“If Christ is not all to you He is nothing to you. He will never go into partnership as a part Saviour of men. If He be something He must be everything, and if He be not everything He is nothing to you.”
― Charles H. Spurgeon

“If we never have headaches through rebuking our children, we shall have plenty of heartaches when they grow up.”
― Charles H. Spurgeon

{I included the link above for that talk if you wanted to listen.}

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Well, I hope you are doing great! We are finally seeing more spring weather and that’s been very refreshing!

Until next time,

Laura

 

 

I believe in Going to Church

I believe in going to Church.

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Since the time of infancy it’s been a part of my life.

As a teen there were some Sunday mornings where sleeping in sounded great and it took my mother  a few times to get us up and ready. A final word from our father would always light the fire under us!

Rounding up a family of 7 is no easy thing but my parents were faithful to bring us 5 children.  I treasure the memory of being in high school and I would have my bible plopped open and a sheet of paper to scribble down those profound messages we heard.

I was captured by scripture and learning it was exciting. God was in that place and I knew it. The safety of Church was like a net I could rest in and then be flung back into the world come Monday morning. I learned to navigate in a world that didn’t believe in a hope because of Jesus.

I can think back to the special relationships formed in those church buildings and the sense of family we experienced. I’m grateful for the foundation that was set in my early years.  It has given me much to fall back on when the winds blow and different experiences, ideas, or people knock hard on my faith in Christ.

In the last couple of years some significant challenges presented themselves when we started moving around. Our church experience looked nothing like what I had grown familiar with.

Then this last summer a huge bomb dropped.

I was sitting in a church meeting with full confidence and excitement that they were going to announce an addition to our staff. I thought we were going to be welcoming a new worship leader and instead the words on the screen read (to the best of my memory):

Church Merger.

Wait. What!?

I went from excitement to shock and then peered around trying to gather in the expressions of people around me.  My mind flew to what this meant for us.
I didn’t even realize this church to be struggling that bad financially. After a year attending we were settling into the way this church was structured and started enjoying some very meaningful relationships.

The really frustrating part is that in our area around the military base the options for church seemed limited. There wasn’t a lot to pick from and so when we had found the church we did, it was a relief.

I had no clue what kind of church we would become. Truth be told it wasn’t a fun experience as each family wrestled through the decision to stay or move on.  We missed our good friends that moved on and welcomed new friends quickly. The shake-up was God arranged and i’m confident of this because of the fruit in our lives since it happened.

This experience has sent me through a whirlwind of emotions and challenged why I believe what I believe. It has forced me to look closely at scripture and examine what is true and what is simply preference. I’ve loved that opportunity and that God saw this fit for our family.

I was looking for familiarity and he was calling for growth.

I have come out of it loving Jesus more, and being more crazy about God’s people than ever.

Today I jotted down a list of all the woman at church who are so very dear to me. The list is long and I’m smiling as I look down at their names. I realized through many conversations that I don’t have to agree with a church on all points or methods. I don’t even have to like how some areas are run.  If God is worshiped, the bible is preached, the people are faithful to Jesus, and are generous.. well then that’s a pretty great place to be.

That’s where i’m at.

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In John 17 we’re able to read Jesus’ prayer for future believers. He says in verse 23,

May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

It’s only through God that we experience that unity. It’s my opinion that he didn’t intend for us to be unified by a denomination, our great ideas on how to run a church, catchy mission statements, or even a great bible teacher.

We’re called to be united as branches off the same vine, that is God.

Any church trying to tell you otherwise is just way too full of themselves.

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Lets move on to how we can apply this practically.

{Your church family may be solid, building up your faith, and a continual encouragement. Praise God for this! But if you’re feeling like a fish out of water trying to find a church to attend, that’s where i’m going to speak into.}

 

Show up

Find a church that believes in the essential things of our Christian faith. {This song is a great resource!}

Be patient and extend grace

The pastor standing before you is only human. Is he not living up to your both high-energy and deep sermon expectation?
I like to consider what he has dealt with in the last week just within the congregation. Death? Divorce? People walking away from their faith? A harsh email criticizing a previous sermon? Have grace! Pray for your pastor.  {Now if He is steering away from scripture that’s another story.}

Don’t expect the people to have it all together. I think there’s a frustration from non-believers as they listen to Christians tell them how to live when clearly sin is taking place in our circles. We’re being made in the likeness of Jesus, that doesn’t mean we’ve arrived there.

Expect Love

These are God’s people and i’m not saying we get it right every time with every person that walks through the door but the ones that show up further than Sunday morning are going to experience something rare and beautiful among God’s people.
Just this morning an older women in our bible study offered to step in for another mom who was going to be helping watch the kids. If that is not love I don’t know what is!
Or another..on one evening a group gathers to serve our children and teach them the word of God. Two hours with energetic kids wipes all energy and yet they still keep showing up week after week.  It’s amazing!

Learn how to navigate hurt

I can almost guarantee you’ll experience a misunderstanding with someone in church or have an experience that leaves you deeply wounded. I can’t find anywhere in scripture where God allows some of His own to slip out the door over hurt.
No, all I can find is the call to forgive, over and over. How can we not forgive when Jesus went to the cross for us?  Just because you have one bad experience in Church doesn’t make the entire body of Christ awful.

Ask

God created you with unique gifts that are important. If you attend church and aren’t actively using those gifts, well it’s going to be plain ol’ boring! Step into the uncomfortable zone and ask how you can help.

Right now I look at my calendar that is full of time serving in our children’s ministry.  If you were to ask me awhile ago where I want to serve it wouldn’t be this area.
Yet God has done a work in my heart! I needed this. To be on my knees setting up train tracks, telling simple bible stories to wide-eyed toddlers, and being in a place of short-lived tears and loud belly laughs. It’s amazing and wonderful and has added to my life richly. Serve. Serve. Serve.

We’re selfish. Maybe not you but I am and the best remedy for this has been serving the Lord. It’s giving when I want to receive and seeing how God fills up a heart in this way too.

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Okay..I’m done preaching to you but I love that you’ve read all of this. It shows you either love me dearly, are hungry for a better experience at your church, or are bored with not much else to do! Either way thank you.

This week i’m praying for you. I want to hear how God has used the local church to grow your faith in Him.

Until next time,

Laura

Which One?

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In one month my little guy will be turning 4 years old! How does time move this fast? These years have been a gift and I love remembering all the moments we shared.

Well today, my almost four year old and I were talking about his upcoming birthday. He quickly threw his hands up {like you would after some sort of defeat} and in a very upset tone yelled, ‘But how are we gonna get a cake, we don’t have much money!’

I quickly turned away from the sink of dirty dishes and didn’t know to laugh or feel terrible!

It’s sort of my fault…

Awhile back he was asking me if we could go to the airport to go on a plane and so I was trying to explain we don’t have a lot of money to take plane trips often. It makes me laugh at how he processes our conversations.

I assured him there would be cake!

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The last time I wrote we talked about the possibility of leather couches and then our car died, partly in the road and driveway. Isn’t it funny how things like that happen?

The car has been fixed and now i’m terrified of it dying again. I drove it to a friend’s house and the entire way imagined it shutting off and then my mind raced over what I would do in a situation like that. I like to be prepared. :)

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Two of my favorite things in this world are coffee and conversation.

In the past I’ve experienced seasons of solitude. Where there may have been lots of coffee but very little conversation!  I learned to soak up time with my little family and the Lord.

However at this point in time my life is full of really great friendships.  I am so richly blessed and I thank God constantly.
My best advice is to keep showing up.

 I love to hide after making a fool of myself. Those conversations where you say too much or the wrong thing and want to crawl into a hole.

What has blown me away is in so many of these friendships they keep extending grace. They don’t heap on shame because I haven’t lived up to an expectation. Instead they give me room to grow and I love that example!

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Since you are a trusted friend, I need your opinion. I bought this bench at a local thrift store for $5 and was beside myself with this great deal. However, the fabric doesn’t really go with my decor and am not sure which color to switch to.

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Hopefully this all made sense because I’m publishing it with hardly any revision! I just need to get going again.
We are cleaning and doing a few days worth of dishes because I have been that busy.

Tonight i’ll be spending time with a group of toddlers who have the ability to wipe out all energy left in you but still fill your heart to the point of spilling over.
These munchkins remind me to enjoy simple things, teach me how to have the best dance parties, and how to stand amazed by nearly everything. Their arguements last all but a few seconds and then they are over it and back to smiles. What’s not to love about an evening with them!?

Until next time,

Laura