Saturday, April 18, 2015


Blaise Pascal once said "There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus."

As hokey as it may sound, I am finding that more and more true lately.

Don't get me wrong.  I've always known I need Jesus.  I've never given in to the idea that anything else in life -- money, jobs, relationships, etc -- can fill that thirst.  At least not intellectually anyway.  I can recognize the need for Christ and my deficiency without His presence daily in my mind. I can see how only He can fill the gaps & satisfy my soul.  But having been adrift without a steady church home for the last 3/4 of a year, I see it more & more every day.

Don't be mistaken.  I am not saying that finding a church would fill the God-sized hole in my heart.  I am not mixing up the two.  Church does not equal God. Going to a place where I hang out with people who believe similarly to myself, being taught, singing songs....that is not the same thing as my personal relationship with God.  It does not equate to personal study of Scripture or daily prayer or filling my mind with music that uplifts me and points me toward Him.

But it sure does help.

Long ago, a wise friend told me "We are not meant to live a Lone Ranger life as Christians." meaning that we are not meant to do things alone.  We need community.  We need relationships.  We need counsel and accountability.  While I am totally an introvert, I can't agree more that we DO need Godly people in our lives.  We need people who love us and care about us in the good stuff and the hard, yucky parts of life.  We need to belong and feel like we're a part of something.

But lately, I am not feeling like I'm a part of much.  I have felt a big, gaping, painful hole where I feel lost and tossed by the wind.  And I suppose on some level I've recognized that and have begun filling that part of me with other stuff.  With events.  With people.  With social issues, social media, books, movies, TV shows.  I see people living their lives with all this "stuff" crammed into their lives all the time and they seem happy enough.  Some are Christians, some are not.  But I'm realizing more and more that I simply can't live this way.  And it's my own fault that I've packed my heart full of other stuff.  This is not who I am.  I miss being in Bible study and having talks with friends about faith and how it impacts daily life.  I miss ministry and serving.  I miss feeling like I am surrounded by family every Sunday while I close my eyes & feel the presence of the Holy Spirit envelop me.  I miss worship on such a deep level I can't even put it into words.  I am aching for His closeness every day. And while the lack of a church home has certainly impacted all of this, my own depravity and tendency to wander has not helped my case.

I was listening to Hillsong today on youtube (THIS video to be specific) and I was overcome with His presence in my bedroom while I was folding laundry.  Click the the lyrics in the video's description.  Desperate for you...drench my soul....I hunger and thirst....Like a rushing wind, Jesus breathe within...Like a mighty storm, stir my soul.  Oh sweet Jesus, I needed these words today.  I need them every day.

Oh Father, help me to see when I am filling up this God-sized hole with anything else.  Help me to seek your face more fervently.  Help me to fill my free time with worship and praise and gratitude.  Help me focus.  Help me search for YOU in every minute.  Let my life bring you glory and honor.  I love you.

Church hunting

I grew up in church.  Every Sunday morning, every Sunday night, every Wednesday night.  I married a man who went to another denomination but he was just as actively involved.  Our kids have been raised going to church every week, too.  My relationship with Christ is very important to me.  I thrive in good worship, good teaching, sweet friendships and opportunities to serve in ministry.

Eight months ago our family began searching for a new church home.  We hated to leave our old church, but our season there had come to an end.

We first visited a Methodist church that was great but it was the very first place we visited, so we hated to make a snap decision based on one visit.  Our son wasn't 'sold' on it either, so we just kept moving on.

Then we visited a very packed large Baptist church.  It was too big, too crowded....and my husband wasn't sold on the atmosphere of it.  So we kept looking.

We visited a charismatic non-denominational church that was a nice size, but that was about the only good thing we could say for it.  No one was rude or mean or was just way too much...everything...for us.

We visited a lovely, sweet little congregation at a community church (non-denominational) which endeared themselves to us really quickly, but after 2-3 weeks of visits, we knew it wasn't a good fit for us long-term.  There were maybe 10 kids total (birth through 18) and the vast majority of the 65 people who were there were over 60.  It just didn't seem like the right place for a family who has kids that need a youth group.

We visited a local Church of Christ that didn't suit us as well.  We're not really connected to the traditions involved at a Church of Christ, so it really wasn't a good fit for us.  But I must say, there were a thousand super-sweet white haired men & ladies who were very friendly.  I think we talked to each one of them individually for 15 minutes before we left the building at 3:00 PM.  The service was over at 11.  (big grin--just kidding!)

We visited a non-denominational church about 15 minutes from home for several months and fell in love.  We thought we'd finally found our home, but then discovered that our daughter, who very much needs relationships & activity & the social side of a youth group was not really getting that at this church.  The only youth involvement she had was on Sunday morning (because the Wed night group freaked her out & was not a good fit for her) and it just wasn't cutting it.  Our son refused to go to any of the youth stuff because there were no boys his age & it felt very uncomfortable to him.  So after about four months of feeling 'at home' in every other way, we left with our tails between our legs.  We had already fallen in love with the pastor, the worship time, the small-town country feel....but it just wasn't the right place.  {I'm positive that if we didn't have kids that we needed to find a place for, Larry & I would've joined & stayed forever.}

After leaving, we went back to the Methodist church we had visited first just to have a place to go for a couple weeks while we decided what to do next.  I am thankful for so many connections around town so it is simple to slip in the doors of so many churches & sit in on a service.  We live in a the smallest big town I know of.  Lots of connections at dozens of churches, so there are plenty of places we could visit.  Samuel's feelings had not changed about this church, so we knew we weren't staying but it was a good place to fill the gap for a couple weeks.

We visited a satellite campus of a very large Baptist church next.  It was very, well...Baptist.  Don't worry.  It's okay.  I can say that.  I grew up in a southern Baptist church.  It didn't fit us at all.  Between the attack-greeters with stick on name tags at the door when  you walk in and the off-beat hokey music and the simulcast preaching from the bigger campus in just didn't feel right.

We then visited a local Assembly of God church for 2 or 3 weeks & while I loved it, I think that's mostly because I know almost the entire church already and it just felt very comfortable for me.  My son, however, said he couldn't put into words exactly how he felt....just that this was not a place he'd ever get comfortable.  He has since given us a list of things he wants to see in a church & pretty much none of those things are fulfilled at this AG church, so we're journeying on.

Tomorrow morning, we're visiting another Baptist church.  I've watched some of their services online.  It looks good & I think it might be a good fit.  We have a number of friends who go there.  But I'm long past being able to predict what the rest of the family will think.  I'm just crossing my fingers & praying.

Honestly, as long as they teach the four basic beliefs of Christianity, I don't care what the sign out front says.  Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Pentacostal Holy Ghost-filled, Conservative Lutheran, non-denominational, Assembly of God, Church of Christ.........whatever.  I'll sign up & get my free toaster with any church if we can just find a place to get involved that everyone is happy.  {By the way, those 4 things are the virgin birth, Christ's atoning death, the resurrection & the 2nd coming.  Everything else is just fluff.}

I'm tired. 
I'm ready to be done hunting. 
I'm ready to settle in, get connected, get involved in serving & ministering. 
I'm weary of the search. 
I miss those close relationships & connection. 
I miss having a church to call my own. 
None of us are made for this lone ranger Christian thing. 
I need community & fellowship & accountability & solid teaching on a regular basis.

Pray for us?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

As least I'm not as bad as.....

Recently I found myself looking at a woman I know, thinking about how heavy she has gotten.  Chubby thighs, a round behind, flabby arms, a big belly.  All I could see when I looked at her was her size.  I know.  SO rude.  Especially since I am clearly no skinny Barbie doll, I have NO room to talk.  But that's what I was doing.  I kept thinking " least I'm not as big as HER."  {As if that somehow gives me permission to eat another cupcake.}

And then it happened.  I saw a picture of myself.  She was in the background.  And we looked to be about the same size.


This morning I was thinking about that on my drive to work and something hit me.  How often do we look at someone else's sin and think "Well at least I don't do XYZ like that person."  We think that our sins are not 'as bad' as those of others, but really, a sin is a sin is a sin.  Every one of them creates a disconnect between us and God.  Every sin breaks His heart.  When God looks at our lives & sees our sins, He sees the ugliness and pain.  When he looks at our picture, He sees that other person in the background.  And our sins look the same size.