Archive for April 2015

Easter Launch

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     As you probably know already, our launch day was Easter Sunday. We thought it fitting to do a big kick off on resurrection Sunday. Our time here has been a testament to the resurrection and we wanted to emphasize that we are part of the resurrected life.
    I don't have any pictures to share, because I was so busy running around and spending my time talking with people. Others got some however, and I'll put some up, as soon as I get some. 
    The day started early. I rolled out 40+ cinnamon rolls and baked them before 9am. Luckily for me, baking is incredibly calming, and being so busy took my mind off any nervousness I may have felt. So as I walked into the church for the hundredth time that morning, this time to stay until after service, I felt great.
     We had flowers, the church looked amazing, we had food... we had LOTS of food, and as 10am rolled around, we had people! 
     Many of our friends and family came out to support us in this big endeavor. It was great to see all of them,  and to have people see the progress on the physical building.
      That being said, I did get razzed quite a bit, because apparently when there are more than 10 people to preach too... I get long winded. There was so much to fit into one service, a welcome, an introduction, thank yous, special musics, communion, a church dedication, it was packed.
     The biggest blessings of the day, however, were the people. I was surprised by one of my big sisters and her husband from Iowa. I was completely shocked and humbled that they pulled off such an amazing surprise. I was in tears before I ever got up on the stage. Family is so important to me, and having both some of Mac's side and my side there, made the day incredibly meaningful. The truth is, church planting is difficult in ways I never anticipated, and that support of family and friends truly makes a difference on the long and hard days.
      We also had lots of friends come out. Some hadn't been to church in a while, and it was so humbling that their first time back to a church, was to support us in all we are trying to achieve.
      Then there were some neighbors. Not lots of them, but a couple. The numbers don't matter as much as the heart does. One woman has already been a great blessing. She's been telling everyone to come, passing out flyers, and being a general source of encouragement. The grace of God always surprises me, even now, how He calls people to himself.
      This is just the beginning. Our attendance was back down this last week, which we anticipated, but the contacts we have made, and the encouragement we got, will truly help us as we go ahead. The feedback will help us know how to better be hospitable to our neighbors, and we have so many things planned for the days ahead.
     This isn't a sprint, it's a marathon of life change, and community investment. We recognize that. Transformation takes a long time, and we really want to be here for it. It's still amazing what has been accomplished in the past 11 months, and we are still confident that God has great things in store for us yet.

Holy Week

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     The past couple weeks have been filled with a myriad of emotion. I go from optimism, to pessimism, to "if I think about the worst that can happen Easter Sunday, and tell myself that's what's going to happen, then it won't happen.... right?" I feel exhaustion, excitement, sore and in need of a massage, to laying in bed with my legs feeling like they need to run, just like on Christmas eve when I was a child.
     In the midst of all of my emotional crazy, this week has been one of the most (if not the most), powerful Holy weeks I've ever experienced, and there are still 3 days left.
     Holding church service on Palm Sunday, reflecting on the scripture anew, and spending one last Sunday worshiping with just our launch team was incredibly powerful for me. They put in so much work, time, energy, and resources into keeping me sane, making this a beautiful place to worship and reflect, and putting legs and organization to this vision I had (that I really believe God gave me) for the people here.
     Then the outpouring of support from our sister churches has been amazing. We had a beautiful lady stop by from Highland Church of the Nazarene, to let us know they were praying for us, and supporting us. Asking what they could do to help. It was life affirming.
      Tuesday I stopped into the florist across the street to order a few flowers for Sunday. I had a great conversation with the florist, who was sweet and kind. It was a great reminder that I need not be afraid of making friends here, because I can talk to anyone, anywhere, and that the Holy Spirit goes before me.
      Duneland Community Church, our great friends, who have put lots of work into this building helping us, also sent us an angel in the form of an interior designer/artist. Who lent us so many beautiful pieces of art, and went on the hunt for some awesome pieces of furniture. She came into our space, and gave us direction. She knew exactly what I meant when I said I wanted to blend the traditional with the new. Because of her, we have an amazing space to worship in, infused with beautiful art pieces to usher us into worship.
          Here's a look at just a couple of her amazing pieces.

    Yesterday, we went to Duneland to pick up some big furniture pieces (like the one above). My awesome father-in-law got a u haul, and helped me get them (they were not light, or easy to move). Despite getting ready for other things, the worship pastor helped us load everything into the van. A reminder again, that the Church is so much bigger than us. 
    When we arrived back at the church to unload everything and put them into place, a man stopped in. He had a pizza under one arm, and a can of Dr. pepper in his other hand. He asked if we were having prayer meeting, and I said that we were brand new, and weren't even starting official church services until this Sunday. He got this funny smile on his face and said "I'm brand new here in Hammond, and I had no idea this was a new church. I swear..." he looks up to the sky and says "God, I didn't no that, did I?" He told us about his struggles, and Mac and I listened.
        He sang us a little bit of "How Great Thou Art" and it was a really touching moment. At one point he just closed his eyes, and started praying, with tears in his eyes. I then asked if I could pray for him, he said yes. So I prayed for guidance, for direction, for peace. 
         When I finished praying, he told me that God had already answered his prayers, because our door was open. Because we didn't tell him to leave, that he had been there long enough, or tell him he talked too much (I didn't tell him, I talk A LOT, and so I understand the plight of needing to be heard, and the pain of having people tell you to stop talking). He was a really, truly beautiful human, who had an incredibly great heart and spirit about him. He was funny, and sincere. 
       What he doesn't know, is he was an answer to my prayers, because he came through the open door. That these interactions with beautiful humans is what affirms to me that the Holy Spirit's prevenient grace is active and present. 
      We invited him to Easter, and I hope he comes, because I think we have a lot we can learn from each other. 
       Which brings us to today, Maundy Thursday. Today is rainy. A bit different from the very sunny warm day we had yesterday. I ordered some yard signs for Easter, and they came in yesterday, but too late to put outside. Thus, I went out in the rain today, to display our yard signs. 

      While I was out there, tying the sign to the posts, a young man approached me. He had a lot of questions about the life of faith, and about God. I had the opportunity to talk to him about how Christ's suffering and death, gives us hope that we don't walk through darkness and suffering alone, but that God walks with us through the darkness. We talked about believing God's truth, instead of replaying negativity in our minds, and about how he is the beloved of God. 
     This conversation made putting a sign out in the rain completely worth it, even if nobody comes to our Easter service because of it. 
       This week has been filled with Holy moments, and these are just the highlights. This doesn't include the simple holy moments, like eating breakfast with Mac, taking the dog for a walk, spending time with my family, and sleeping in. Those were holy moments too, in their own way. 
        So today, as I remember the servant King, who knelt down to wash feet, I am praying that I too would have that heart, even if I'm just kneeling down to tie a sign to a post; that I might do it all with humility and grace.