I’m not sure I ever shared this, but last spring my hubby and I left our church (the one in the big city, where we got married, where we faithfully attended throughout college) to seek out a new one to call home. We visited countless churches over the course of about seven months and went to huge churches to tiny country churches and we experienced everything from zealous welcomes to complete exile in the process of visiting and looking for a new church. We didn’t leave because of some falling out or some hard, hurtful issue, no… in fact leaving the church was one of the hardest things I feel like God has lead us to do together. We LOVED the place. Our pastor was awesome, classy in character and full of the Spirit, educated and wise, and a true family man- we loved the fellowship, the programs, everything, except the location. At 45+ minutes away (all interstate, by the way, and nearly 80 miles round trip), we were just simply not able to be there as often as we wanted. The distance made things like bible studies, choir, special programs, and night services out of the question between gas prices and the travel time. And not being able to be involved was hurting- it was much too easy to be “lukewarm” which is something you never want to be when it comes to your walk with Christ. So, since about August or September, we’ve been visiting a church nearby (about 10 minutes, just in the next small town) and have liked it enough to keep coming back. I feel the same way about the preacher here as I did at our old church… he preaches with an educated wisdom- not just the “come to Jesus or you’re gonna burn” rhetoric you often hear in the small town Baptist church- but the passionate, knowledgably examination of God’s Word, Christ’s love, and a deep look into the implications of this in our daily lives. Love the people there too. We were ushered to the front of the line on homecoming, even though we were only there for our second time. Even my parents have enjoyed it. I really, really feel like I am growing there, not just through the messages, but through worship as well. I am a cry-er when I feel the Spirit, and not a single Sunday has passed that I haven’t felt tears slip over my cheeks as we sing. I have even felt the call to raise my hands into the air and close my eyes, which is something I would be too nervous to do in many churches. I can just FEEL Him there, and feel Him drawing me nearer. I’m not saying this is where we will join just yet, but I do know I am growing closer to God this year. I have made the effort to use my 30 minute ride to and from work each day as quality time with God. I am talking to Him aloud in the car, just discussing my thoughts and worries and joys. I am being more prayerful and asking Him to bless those I am around, naming friends, family, coworkers, and students, and telling Him my deepest fears and feelings. Just laying it all out there. And I’m listening to more worship music in the car. I’ve never been to musically inclined to Christian radio simply due to the fact that praise music is all too often “technically” boring- simple chords that any mediocre praise band can play and redundant lyrics that everyone knows- I mean, how deep is “Lord, I lift Your Name on High” after about the third time? Not that the message isn’t awesome, but I just feel like my Savior deserves something much more rich and heartfelt that over-played, lack-luster praise band melodies. But, I’ve been giving it a chance, and I’ve been hearing so much more *good* worship music on the radio so I’ve been making a commitment to seek it out. Two songs I’m loving right now are Sanctus Real’s Lead Me and Chris August’s Starry Night. Anyways, to sum it all up, I love that I can truly say that I can feel myself stepping closer to Him. I have been standing still for far too long, and I can’t wait to see where He leads me and what He does in my life.
PS- School has been great these first weeks back after the break. I can’t believe January is almost gone. It’s been tiring and overwhelming, not mention the fact that I spent Friday throwing up ALL day. But my kids have been really good. I love them so much, even when they drive me crazy. Yesterday, they were even able to take over class when I had to run out of the room when I got sick… I hope whatever it was is gone now… Anyways, the kids have been working extra hard and I can see that I am making a difference with several of them, which is such a huge reward. It’s so awesome to have a job where you know each day matters, to be given the opportunity to effect a child’s life in an unforgettable, positive way. So blessed!