I believe in Going to Church

I believe in going to Church.

IMG_0742

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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?

417525_572186532065_1254381432_n

 

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!

* * *

IMG_0935

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. :)

* * *

IMG_0986

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!

* * *

IMG_0988

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.

which one

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

Contemplating Changes

The snow is blowing wild here today. From the roof it sweeps past our window while the sunshine causes it to sparkle. It’s really fun to watch as I contemplate changes.

The doctor’s office called to let me know the results of an allergy test I had.  I am allergic to cats and dust mites.

It’s so nice to finally know. I had been going crazy this spring/summer/fall not knowing what was making me feel terrible.

We did take home a kitten a few months ago and I knew from the obvious reactions that between the litter and her I wasn’t feeling well on top of what I’d already been experiencing. Medication has been helpful but not in stopping hives.

Well anyways I was looking on the internet researching ways to cut down on dust mites and there were some very helpful tips. The two places in our house that I am considering a change would be our bed and couches.

We purchased the mattress and couches as part of a packaged deal when we first bought furniture. It was right before our wedding and actually that’s been almost 7 years ago! So our furniture has been well used and most of it is now falling apart from the many moves.

I looked up the ideal couches for someone who is allergic to dust mites and found out leather couches are the best.  WELL…

I thought from a design stand-point if leather couches would even fit my style and hopped over to pinterest to discover sure enough that would be beautiful.

THEN I moved to the next step of price checking a leather couch and my mouth dropped. Beautiful but expensive!

When we sat down this last December to update our budget one of our discussions was what to be saving for this year in terms of larger purchases and we didn’t really nail down specifics but i’m eager to revisit that conversation and see if a new couch purchase would work this year.

Now onto the fun part of dreaming, while I sit on my old dust mite infested couch. :)

p1300367

 

* * *

This is from Lauren’s blog. What a gorgeous set-up.

a85591cb8ff36e1f0a0206877ff3cfe7

Here is one from Pottery Barn. I am Day-Dreaming! How does one spend $5,000 on a couch?
Well it is a very sophisticated looking couch and I’m sure feels like smooth butter on your skin.

One more!

aa35e80ceac6d8075278958e414f4ee9

Desiree put together an awesome inspiration board on her website. I love the different ways to style a leather couch. So much creativity!

Earlier in the day I slumped my chin down into my hands trying to figure out how on earth we could afford furniture at this point and thought how I could maybe help contribute financially. I could write that book, or finally get serious on this here blog of mine and place ad spots up and pursue companies who would want to place a helpful ad to my friends. When I would finally earn enough money to buy this dream couch I would be asked in an interview what led me to write this best-selling, insightful book on significance and I would have to answer honestly..

Dust Mites. 

: )

I hope you are having a lovely day and staying warm!

Until next time,

Laura