Adventures in church hopping

Image from gatewayaddisonny.com

It is Sunday yet again and we are at our new home… Which meant it was church shopping round three.

*Huge groans from the M household.*

I remember when I first moved away, I was excited to find a new church and the change that it might bring.  I tried three churches.  I settled at the third one I went to and went to evening services from time to time at the second (and a fourth…Thanks to Patrick).  Somehow, it took just a small fluke, a single old friend and a church bus for God to lead me to that church.

This time around, we were not quite as excited to find a new church.  Probably because we loved our old one and miss our church family from both places terribly.  Also, in a city this big, there are many options to sift through.

Needless to say, our last church visited was awesome.  There were no big red flags.  No overwhelming calling from God, but something keeps making me want to go back that makes me think God has something in store for us there… Maybe.

But, this week, because we had said we would check out a few more churches and because I am super stubborn, we visited another church.  This was a Weslyan church about 20 minutes from our apartment.

First of all, the whole 20 minutes from the apartment is big to me.  It isn’t an unreasonable distance, but much of that trip is highway driving.  I like drives, but I don’t know if it is something I want to do regularly.  Especially come winter.

We get there (late thanks to poor signage on the roads leaving the city) and it is a beautiful, modern looking building.  Everything is pretty and new.  Including the classy lights and such in the sanctuary.  The church is full.  In fact, they have two morning services there are so many people.

This combination leaves my head wanting to explode.  I think it is fantastic that a church is thriving, but I struggle with the separate service thing.  I mean, I want to go to church and have a community.  Yes, small groups do that.  But, it is pretty crazy when you don’t necessarily even see the people who go to the other service.   And the newness of the building and such…  It is lovely.  But, I always think that money could go elsewhere.  Maybe because my church at home-home often can’t even pay bills from month to month, let alone modernize, but there is still all kinds of stuff going on.  It frustrates me that so much money would be used for new buildings and pretty buildings when you could have something decent for part of the cost and put the funds towards other things.  Things that are more kingdom minded.  And yes, new and shiny brings people in… And sometimes new and shiny is needed when old gets too old.   But new and shiny can also detract from things.

But, I tried (really hard) to push down my irrational issues with drives and fancy buildings to pay attention to what was happening. I liked the worship.  The worship team was huge.  The preaching was practical… Lots of scripture references.  Although, I didn’t like how much the pastor kept going back to famous people quotes too… For every scripture there was a famous person.  Interesting, but it felt overdone.  Again, different styles.  Only one service.

The church seemed missions minded.  They had a few projects on the go for things overseas.  Big childrens’ programs.  Lots of young families.

We left after talking to one greeter who noticed my university jacket from med school.  Other than that, we slipped under the radar.  I was okay with that.

On the drive home, Patrick asked what I thought of the whole thing.  I couldn’t phrase it.  There was nothing wrong with the church.  There were no “big red flags.”  On the other hand, there was nothing that made me want to go back.  He agreed.  He found it reminded him a bit of his church growing up, which he loved (and I like) and yet it didn’t really beckon.

It just isn’t the church God wants us at.

I guess.

Or maybe it isn’t the church we want to be at.

I have to keep questioning our logic to make sure it is actually the right decision.

Last night, we were talking with our friends who were visiting town for a couple nights about the church hunt.  They are still trying to find a place to call home-home after being in the same city for 9 years.  It has been a struggle.  They have a church home, but no really tight ties.  Not the draw from God to stay they home to one day find.

We discussed how the church we had before was good.  That God really blessed us in our church family and ministry.  That we really didn’t expect that initially.  We also discussed how we feel like it is time for a change (not that we had a choice in the matter).  And how God gives us what we need in His own time.  Maybe sometimes having community in other ways is what God wants.  Or the freedom to investigate other church groups.

Honestly, it is difficult to have the answers.

I feel frustrated because a piece of me just wants to settle down.  I think God hasn’t said “no” to the place we went before and that it would be a change and also offer community we have been seeking.  But another piece of me is scared to settle down or to miss out on what God is offering.  I know God gives second chances and what we need and such, if we pay attention and ask.

We have another friend who thinks she needs to check out at least 5-10 churches before you can really know where to go.  We have been praying about and discussing the places to try beforehand.  It seems more efficient.  But, to each their own, I suppose.  I can’t hop around for another 2 months. At least not without a big shove from God.  I like to think He gives us some direction in where to try to minimize the angst.  Plus, I feel like there is a consumerism side to church hopping that can sometimes crop up that makes me uncomfortable.  That is why God really needs to have the reigns for us to get anywhere at this point.

It would be nice if everyone could be in the same place.  If everyone had a good church home.  I know that isn’t always the case.  But, I think God does direct us for our good and His purposes.  Hopefully we get to stop and stay somewhere soon, though.

Advertisements

Have to or want to?

Today in church, the Pastor said something that struck me… “The spirit of religion says, ‘I have to,’ but the spirit of God says, ‘I want to.’”

This is a pretty simple statement.  But, it blew my mind.

You see, I am very much an “I have to” type person.  I am a commitment-holic.  I jump into things with a dedication and fervor, which borders on, well, obsessive.  Once I commit to something, I need to keep going with it.  Even if I hate it.  Or I don’t want to.  That is just how I roll.  And it is not always a bad thing.  In fact, it can be a very good thing, especially in certain seasons of life.  For instance, that is how I survived my surgery rotation.

But, the problem with being a “have to” person is that I get hooked into too many things and get trapped in a “have to” cycle.  Where I “have to” do everything until I get overwhelmed.  There are limits to the “have to” and parts of those limits are stamina and attitude.  Eventually you just want to take the “have to” and shove it.

Patrick worked with someone who really stressed the concept of not doing something because you “have to” unless you really do “have to.”  For instance, stopping at a red light is a legitimate have to, whereas going to an event is generally a “have to” kind of have to.  He did an internship with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and learned quickly that if you do everything just because you think you have to, you quickly burn out and get overwhelmed.

But, there is another side to the whole not doing something because you “have to” argument. You can really use that to stop doing anything you don’t feel like doing.  Though it sounds at face value to be great, it really isn’t fully feasible.

At least it makes for a good screening test.  Especially when my “have to” habit kicks in.

And this is where God comes in.  Or can.

Most people can take this and say it is really your own judgment.  But, realistically there is more to that.  At least I believe there is.

The Holy Spirit was sent to us by God.  He left the Holy Spirit to hang out with us to give us some sort of direction while we wait here on Earth for Jesus to come back and what have you.

Many people think that faith is just a set of rules.  And there are rules.  But, the thing is that we follow them because we want to.  And yes, some people do it because they have to… But that isn’t necessarily true belief.  That is ritual.  But, when you really believe something, you do it because of that belief.  You do it because you want to.

Some people get freaked out by the notion of the Holy Spirit.  I mean, really, it/He (I always get puzzled as to whether or not the Holy Spirit is a He or an it… I guess it is God, so He?) is something (one?) you can’t see or feel in a tactile sort of way.  The Holy Spirit is more abstract than God for me.  And more foreign.  We learn a lot about the Holy Spirit and I feel I have experienced the Holy Spirit, but nonetheless it is puzzling to me and many others.

The thing is, with God in the picture and the Holy Spirit in us, we are changed.  And some of those changes impact our desires.  We act in certain ways because we “want to” not because we “have to.”  I think that has an effect on our overall attitudes and the finer aspects of behavior.

The whole “want to” side of things is not just with the apparent faith based items, but with life.  When you are doing things you enjoy, when you are acting in faith, I think your demeanor changes and the way you do things changes.  For the better.  Because it isn’t just you going through the motions.  And it isn’t just you doing something because of an obligation.  It is doing something because of a deeper desire or drive.

Now, I am not saying I don’t do things because “I have to.”  I think we all do that.  And sometimes you have to do somethings.  But, I think we do need to look at why we do things and our motivation.  And maybe seek motivation from the Holy Spirit.  His direction can impact our attitude and our approach to doing things.  It is definitely easier to do things with help.

Intentional Sinking and Healing

This week, in small group, we were talking about how Jesus related to people and how we can relate to people.  It was an interesting discussion.  One point I brought up was that if Jesus stumbled upon as many sick people as I do in a day, he would heal them.  Which brought about a brief discussion on why God hasn’t healed one of our small group members or the people in the hospital.  Was it a matter of faith?  Is it because miracles like that don’t happen anymore?  Why?

Then, today in church (before I was evicted to go help with nursery again), the pastor was preaching on Matthew 14:22-33.  You know, the whole Jesus walking on water and scaring the pejeepers out of the disciples.  Then Peter, hops out to join him (I don’t know if hopped is really the appropriate word… We really don’t know how long it took him to decide to actually get out of the boat).  And there he is, walking on water.  Then he realizes what is going down and panics.  Then he is going down.  So, he calls out to Jesus (despite the fact that, as a fisherman, odds are he can swim).  And Jesus hauls him up.  And calls him out on it… The whole not trusting Him thing.

Whoo Peter.  I love this guy.  I feel like I can relate to him on so many levels… Reserved, yet outspoken.  Speaks his mind and it sometimes gets him into trouble, but he remains silent at other times.

I know, thus far these thoughts seem a little jumbled.  But let me explain the logic.

Image from walkingthefenceline.wordpress.com

Jesus walking on water is pretty epic.  Its just not done.  Physics-wise its not possible (well, unless the water freezes…).  So, clearly, it is a normal response for the disciples to be a bit freaked out by the figure approaching them.  Much like we are when crazy things happen.  But, Peter needs to assess the situation further and tells Jesus to tell him to come if it is really Him.  And of course Jesus calls him along.  Knowing full well that this is going to be huge (Jesus was a pretty intentional guy).  Then Peter does it too.   Until he processes what is happening.

How often do we do that?  Something epic is happening.  Definitely God driven.  And then we realize what is happening and our mind takes over.  And we freak out.  Because there is no way we could do that and thus we must be about to fail.

The cool part is that Peter starts to think he is going to fail and panics.  But, he trusted Jesus enough (I mean, they had been hanging out for some time now and Jesus was still afloat) to call for him.  And what does Jesus do?  He hauls him out of the water because that is what friends (and saviors) are for.  But then, as the good friend and deity He is, Jesus calls Peter out on having such little faith.  Because if he continued to believe, he would still be strolling on the water.

When we fail, we often panic.  We resort to our own devices.  We start swimming.  Things have to get bad before we start to call for Jesus.  Odds are, I would be drowning before I would be like, “Ummm… Help?”  But, Peter actually has it right here… Even though we badmouth him for having “little faith.”  Realistically, we would have less… Or at least I would.  And I would have swam first.  Whereas Peter knew and trusted to call for help.  What a good example for us!

This was not all just a random event.  As I said before, through the Bible, it is apparent that Jesus is very intentional.  He develops relationships with certain people; he is a pretty straight shooter in conversation…  He had a purpose and He knew it.  So, the fact that He stayed back when the disciples peeled and then strolled out in a storm is no mistake.  The fact He called Peter out is no mistake.  He knew that this would show them His power.  He knew this would demonstrate how much He could be trusted.

And now, finally this brings us back around to the healing thing.

One of our questions was whether or not healing had something to do with us not having enough faith or praying hard enough.  I have heard enough people say that we don’t have faith and that is why our prayers aren’t answered.  I disagree.  God tells us that we can do more if we have more faith, but the Bible also tells us that if we ask, we receive.  The thing is, God’s answers aren’t always our answers.  And His timing is not always ours.  Sure, if we have more faith and grow more, we may gain new gifts and perhaps heal someone.  But if we don’t, does that make us terrible failures?  Maybe our faith is being used to conquer other giants.

In the story about Peter, we see him have enough faith to jump out of the boat.  He has enough faith to cry to Jesus for help.  But, not enough to stay afloat.  And that was Peter!  So, imagine us.  I know, I am nowhere near that point.  At least not consistently. We can all stand to grow in our faith.  But, people with less faith are healed and that leads them to faith… So, who are we to judge?

Another talk we had was about whether or not healings still happen these days?  In the gospels, we hear about Jesus going around healing everyone.  But, there were still hurting people in towns.  I’m sure he didn’t get to everyone.  Or if He did, there were still many other people elsewhere He didn’t get to… He didn’t love them less.  He died on a tree for them.  So, it can’t be God’s favour.  I have heard of people being healed.  I have seen terminal cancer patients somehow live far past their prognosis.  So, I do believe it does happen and God can make it happen.  Even if we try to explain it away by other means.  We are so spread out and there are so many people in this world, it may seem less common, but maybe its not.  Or maybe it is, but God has purpose and reason behind it.

Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee … “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”  Luke 4:14, 18

Which brings me back to God being intentional.  When Jesus and the disciples were off gallivanting around healing and performing miracles, they had a purpose.  They were doing these things to show them the deity and power of Jesus.  They were demonstrating God’s love and power.  The people who were healed often became followers (regardless of their prior faith).  People who truly believed sought Jesus out to be healed.  And Jesus commended their faith.  He encouraged them to spread the word.  Jesus was following a plan.  The disciples were following a plan.  God was healing these people with a purpose, for a message.

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.   James 5:14

Healing is not solely a way to get a message across.  It is not the only witness.  Even though to us today, it seems the biggest and the strongest.  Kind of the be all end all of signs and wonders.   When people think miracle, they think healing.  You forever hear of people praying for a miracle for such and such in the hospital with terminal illness B.  Because what a great witness that would be.

But, messages can be spread in other ways.  Peter and a few of his other buddies wrote letters to the early churches about the matter.  They spoke of how suffering is a witness.  How the way in which you endure persecution, or trials, or pain, or sickness can show a lot about yourself and your faith.

Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right. 1 Peter 4:19

God is intentional.  And He is all-powerful and all-knowing.  So, who is to say that he is choosing not to heal someone for a purpose.  God is a loving God who cares deeply about us.  But, He allows suffering and He give us free will.  Sometimes, our suffering may show more about Him, may grow us more, and may be a bigger witness than if we were all healed from our ailments.  He has perfect time.  I bet those lepers who Jesus healed wondered why he couldn’t have showed up when they first got sick instead of after they had been outcasts for ages.  But, that is where God’s timing comes in.  He uses miracles to make an impact.  I have seen Him use suffering to make an impact too… We come to Him at our lowest.  We are more trusting when we can’t trust ourselves.  And we are more receptive to people who have been stretched and have trials.  It just seems to be our nature.

God is a great healer.  And He can heal us.  But, I think sometimes we put Him in a box.  And say that because we aren’t healed, we must not have faith or favor or that we are doing something wrong.  But, perhaps God is using that for bigger things.  Like letting Peter sink.  Maybe He wants to draw us closer.  Maybe He will use the suffering to demonstrate His power to others.

Working in Medicine, I have seen a number of people who are very ill and suffering.  Some with physical ailments, others emotionally.  I have prayed for healing for family and friends and these patients.  And sometimes they get better, sometimes they don’t.  I can’t make any rhyme or reason for it beyond the science of medicine.  But, there is sometimes more to it.  The whole healing issue baffles me.  But, many God-related things do.  I guess that is why I need to trust and believe that He has it all figured out.

I have a friend who deals with chronic migraines.  Much worse than what I experience (and I know I would love to be healed of those).  I wish God would heal her.  I pray God would heal her.  And so does she.  But, the way she copes is an amazing witness to others about dealing with chronic pain and suffering.  She and her husband have taken measures to pray more about this issue and I can see the growth in her faith.  It doesn’t seem fair, but who is to judge what God has in store for them.

I have a second father who was always very sick.  And one of the most faithful people I know.  I know for a fact that hundreds prayed for his healing.  I know he had faith that God could heal him.  But, instead, he struggled and suffered and yet stayed faithful through it all.  He died almost three years ago.  And I miss him.  A lot.  But, I remember one of the last thing he told myself and my two best friends (one of which is his daughter)… He quoted 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing.”  That kind of faith.  That kind of belief in prayer is a huge witness.  Despite the sorrow that came with his death.  I can picture him rocking out in heaven with the choirs and talking everyone’s face off.  His death was, in essence a healing.  An answer to prayer.  Just not the one we had in mind.  And I think God used him both in life and even in death to show people more about Him.  Even though it wasn’t in the way we would like.

God promises to heal us.  But, spiritual healing is the main goal.  He uses physical healing and suffering and all kinds of elements of life to show us things about Him.  And I guess, like Peter on the boat, sometimes the results aren’t what we expect, and yet they are.  But, we need to trust that God is intentional and that because the “big miracle” didn’t happen, it does not mean that we are failures or aren’t somehow working in His purposes.  He heals in His time.  And in His own way.  Not in our time or on our terms.  He is bigger than that.

So, next time you are considering walking on water (figuratively of course, unless you have a nice icy lake nearby), trust where God is putting you.  And know He is intentional.  And if you start to sink, call out for Jesus, because He is a fisherman, so He can fish you out, even if He lets you sink a little first.  He probably sent you there on purpose to teach you or someone else something, even if it isn’t what you think He should.

Here is a beautiful song about how God can use situations we can’t imagine to help us to grow (like illness or trying to walk on water).  Because He sees the big picture and overall wants what is best for us, even if in the short term (in eternal terms) it seems miserable.   He heals when He needs to, He lets things happen when He needs to and it will all be explained when we meet Him (at least I hope He explains it).

Bubbles!

Today at church, I was in the nursery again.  I love the nursery, even though I usually worry because I hate it when kids cry, especially other people’s kids who I don’t know well.  Also, I generally have a hit-me sign for minor disasters when I do nursery.

Anyway, today, the kids wanted to play with the bubbles, which have been a hot item of late.  So, I get them down only to discover that the “normal wand” is MIA and all that is there is a bubble pipe.  I don’t know if you have ever used a bubble pipe, but it is not the best for making bubbles that you can catch, nor is it great for sharing.  But that is what we had.

A bubble.

Image via Wikipedia

At first things went fairly well, the twin brothers were just catching bubbles and such.  But then another girl came and they all started fighting over said bubble pipe and the small cup of bubble solution we had left.  Somehow one of them got a good volume of bubble solution in the face, which was amazing given the cup was out of reach (I am guessing the one wielding the pipe blew it in his face (I can’t figure it out, though I was right there watching).  And he was screaming bloody murder… And his eye was foaming (which in retrospect is a bit funny, but it is not funny when you have a screaming two year old).  It took forever to get all of the soap rinsed out and him settled down.

That was the end of the bubbles for the day.  And the first thing he told his mom when she got him was that he got bubbles in his eye. Oh yes.

I do have a point to this story.

First of all, bubbles are awesome!  I am 25 and I can still blow bubbles and have a time just like I am two.  There is something entertaining about little rainbow transparent balls that pop on contact.  I don’t know of many who, if given the opportunity would turn down a chance to blow and/or pop a few bubbles.

Image via Wikipedia

Second of all, in life, we have bubbles.  Those things that are so awesome and fun and seemingly innocent and innocuous until they get in our eyes.  Then they burn and scare you.  And all you do is want your mom.  But, then once it gets out, you are content to move on and carry on with the bubbles.  Or they are just so awesome, you want to touch them, but they seem to break and disappear on contact.

Here on Earth, there are so many opportunities, so many things out there.  So many good and wonderful things.  We can still hurt ourselves or miss out if we take in too much goodness.  There is a such thing as too much of a good thing… too much sleep, too much food, too much money… They are all things that can eventually burn us or disappear in a blink of an eye.  I truly believe that God gave us so many good things and that we should be grateful.  But we also need to remember that, like bubbles, we are fragile, and so are the things we take for granted.  Life circumstances change in the blinking of an eye and things can seem to be over, but then we have more chances or more bubbles.

The bubbles illustrate for me both gratitude and caution.  Gratitude for what we have and for what can leave us.  Caution against diving into things that can hurt us and caution against the inevitable “pops” that happen in this life.

The awesome thing is that we have a God (or Heavenly Dad if we want to keep the analogy going) who can come behind us and blow more bubbles, give us more chances.  He can rinse the soap out of our eyes and convince us to play with something else when we want to curl up and stop everything.

That it what I learned in nursery from my two year old buddies and a half empty bottle of bubbles.  Strange the places you can learn valuable life lessons… If only the lessons weren’t quite so sticky.

Community… The Christian kind… Not the TV show.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.  -Acts 2:42-47

The Bible has a lot to say about community.

Do we?

I mean, look at how we live.  Independence is pushed, we have “social networking” but how often do we actually see the people we network with.  We try to go it on our own.  We live in isolation from others except when required at work.  We are taught from a young age to do things on our own.  To not depend on others.

We are taught in the church to be a community, but are we really?  I think sometimes, we think we are being a community.  Sometimes we really are.  But many times we aren’t.  We see one another on Sundays, we greet each other, we tell stories, we pray or eat… But aside from that, do we have genuine relationships?  Is there genuine support?

I have been blessed to be a part of a church that promotes genuine community.  To be able to share honestly.  To be able to receive support without judgment.  To be able to give without obligation, but out of true desire.  To promote community through small groups and with the greater body.

I think the most important part of this community has been becoming connected with a small group or life group or whatever you want to call it.  At least that is what it was for me.

Before moving here, I didn’t see a lot of value in small groups.  I was involved with the campus InterVarsity movement, which valued small groups, but the exec I worked on was my small group.  And for the first few years, the group was so small, it was a small group.  I had many close friends who I went to church with an InterVarsity with and well, everywhere with.  I didn’t need community, I thought.  I had community.   And I did.  Its just it is different from the community I was about to find.

But, upon moving, I lost my community.  I had no Christian peer support.  I had my school friends, sure, but no real “church” friends.  I bit the bullet and contacted a small group at the prompting of Patrick (my then fiancé).  The group I got plugged in was a small group of university-aged women.  All of whom were lovely, and it was led by one of the deacons at the church I attended.  It was not an intentionally all female group (except the man who led it).   He called us the “disciplettes.”  I got to know and love these people.  We shared meals, went to movies and discussed the Bible.  It was the closest thing I had to real community since moving.  Plus, the introduced me to The Princess Bride… Clearly a winner group!

The next year, when Patrick moved here, I told him how great said group was.  But, the church was trying to encourage those of us in this group to start our own groups, as we were mostly capable leaders.  I was rotted.  What were we to do…

Somehow, we got hooked up with another couple who we had never met.  A new med student and his girlfriend.  And another couple who I met once or twice the year before.  We started meeting.  It was awkward.  Yet, over time we became comfortable.  We started inviting people in, pointing out we are not a couples only group, even though we were strangely all couples. Our group has grown.  We are still the core 6.  We went to the med student and his wife’s wedding.  We celebrate birthdays together.  We celebrate exams and new jobs.  We are able to be blatantly honest.  To share our joys and struggles.  To talk about what we fear most or struggle with.   To tell about a great day and our worst nightmares.

Small group family at the wedding of 1/3.

It is a “safe place.”  (This became an inside joke, after one of the studies we did said to promote that the group is a safe place… The phrase became overused and a source of laughter.)

The beauty of such a group is that we always have each others backs.  When I am away, they have Patrick over for meals.  When someone has a bad week, we have extra treats.  We pray for one another through report cards and exams and difficulties with work.  We advise each other in surviving med school or substitute teaching or traveling.   We go on mini-vacations together.  We act as family away from family and have holiday meals together.  We learn more about God and we help each other grow in our faiths.  We encourage each other to read our Bibles, get involved in our community and trust God more and more.

My birthday last year.

We stretch ourselves to reach out.  To invite more people in.  To go beyond our comfort zones.  Growth is difficult.  But, as a group it is easier.  We have been told we are welcoming and that we are a go-to “send people to that small group if they are new in town” group.  As much as new people freak me and the others out, as a whole, the community welcomes and loves and enjoys the growth.

Bird Day!

We are “just babes in the woods.”  (This phrase was brought to use by The Message during a study of Ephesians.  It implied that we need to be growing… But babes in woods are just plain hilarious.)

Tonight, we are having a pizza/games night to celebrate the match.  It is bittersweet.  Patrick and I are leaving in June.  And though I know we will stay in touch, it is changing our community.  We are basically losing our community.  Next year, one of the other couples will also have to move compliments of residency training.  I guess the thing is that communities change and grow.    I know we will find a new community.  That we still have our old community.  But, it is still sad.

The group we have is the most Biblical community I have had.  I am grateful for the experience.  I try to convince everyone I know to become in such a community, as I feel it is valuable.  That it teaches you more about yourself and your faith and the love of Christ.  That is promotes a faith-based lifestyle.  That the support network is invaluable.  Especially when so far from home.

As a result of being so connected with each other, we are more connected with the church as a whole, as we are all involved differently throughout the church.  We have different strengths and ministries and it is neat to see how things play together.  It is interesting to actually know what is happening throughout the church.

I am grateful for community.  For people to share inside jokes with.  For friends who are tone deaf and still play SingStar.  For people who pray for and with you and always have a reason to get food for celebration.  For friends who volunteer to come and visit wherever you move.  For God who brought the group together.

Epic Birthday cake for the most recent small group birthday.

We aren’t a perfect community.  I know we can be more open, more loving, more involved.  But, I love that we can strive to be a community as exemplified in Acts.  I love that God is preparing us a community where we go next.

Being a community is something that needs to be intentional.  You need to seek out others.  You need to seek out God.  You need to trust Him to build up the group.  You need to lead and follow and cooperate.  And have a few good laughs on the way.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.  –Hebrews 10:24-25

How is your community?  What are your takes on Christian community in churches or within small groups?

How’s your eulogy?

What do you want said about you at your funeral?

If you were to die today, does your potential eulogy share the message that you want people to hear?  Or is it lacking something?

These were the questions that we were contending with today as a small group.  Thankfully, nobody died that brought these about.

We were doing our Not a Fan study about how to become a follower of Jesus and this came up.  You see, the study comes with this DVD series that basically looks at the impact one man, who died suddenly had on his family and friends and the greater community.  He made a very significant change to follow Jesus and literally did a 180.  He stopped compromising his values and started giving all of himself to others out of love.  Today’s video portrayed his impact on his daughter, but also went to the funeral where we heard from many people he affected.  Though this was a fictional portrayal, it was moving how much one person can do when they give themselves wholeheartedly to Christ and act in true love.  The Kleenex box was passed around… And around.

Several of the discussion questions rotated around a Matthew 7:13-14, talking about the choice of path we take.  We discussed faith and works and how we all agree that Biblically, we are saved by faith alone.  But, if our faith is tried and true, we, out of our love for Jesus and His power in our lives, will be driven to do works.

We also talked about how overwhelming the things happening in this video were.  This man downsized.  Quit a good job because it was compromising ethics and beliefs.  Worked at a shelter and gave his time and money to everyone who was in need around him.  His family even took in a young teen who was pregnant after her family ostracized her.  We collectively (I think) felt overwhelmed.  We could not do those things.  It was too much.

But was it?

We talked about how at funerals; we often hear nice things about people.  How sometimes those things aren’t so true.

This will sound harsh, but this one time, I was at a funeral and almost laughed out loud.  The pastor was talking about the kind and giving spirit this person had, how they blessed those she spoke with, how beloved she was.  Now, I knew her well.  She was not kind or giving and she was harsh and nasty.  Yes, she is still a person.  But one doesn’t talk about how she yells at people and is mean.  That isn’t nice.

We don’t talk ill of the dead.  We shouldn’t speak ill of anyone.  Everyone has some inherent good.  Even if I don’t see it myself.

But, when we die, will they speak well of us because it is the right thing to do or will people want to share what we spoke into their lives.  Our witness.  Our faith.

That is what came out of our discussion.  If we were to die today, there are things we would want said in our eulogies that would not be said.  There are things we have not yet done.  We are not living our lives in the way we would want to be remembered.

I’m not saying we are collectively a group of 20-somethings who are unsatisfied with our lives.  I am saying that we are realizing that we are not striving to be as much like Jesus as we could.  We don’t always put ourselves out there.  We don’t always go above and beyond.

Then again, we also talked about how sometimes the small things we do, the things we think are nothing can become big things.

I remember this little old lady I met in the hospital cafeteria before my nuclear medicine interview in first year university.  She sat with me because there were no other free seats.  She told me her husband was very sick and dying, that she was tired and stressed.  Then, she asked why I was there.  I told her.  She smiled at me and said that was wonderful and I would be a wonderful doctor some day.  She said I should trust where God is leading me.  Then she had to leave.  It was odd.  I didn’t get why she said that.  I was training to be a technologist.  Lo and behold, what she said to me has stuck with me all these years.  She will never know.  At least not here on earth.

We talked about planting seeds in people’s lives.  How sometimes small things like saying “hello” to strangers or sharing a book or holding a door can make big differences.  How simple conversations can make huge changes that you never know about.

We came to the realization that some of what we want to be said of us is taking place in our day to day lives.  We don’t have to be superheroes.  We aren’t God.  But, there is always room to grow.

We aren’t perfect.  We will never be perfect.  But with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can grow and change and become more Christ-like.  We can do the things that we want in our eulogies.

Reflections on “Sex, Marriage and Fairytales.”

Lately, the “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” spoken word poem by Jefferson Bethke has been ridiculously popular.  It has been falling on my Facebook news feed, as well as the blog roll here on WordPress.  That is NOT what I am here to talk about.  Thousands of people already have.

This video is the one I think should go viral.  But, in a sense, the message in this video is even stronger and potentially more difficult to swallow than the Jesus>>Religion video.  The video is entitled “Sex, Marriage & Fairytales.”  I originally stumbled upon it when one of my friends posted it on Facebook stating what I said, that this is one that everyone should watch.  I watched and agreed wholly with the message.  Please watch:

The rate of divorces and failing marriages is something that affects people all over the world.   We are so selfish, so self-centered that we cannot serve another person, that we can’t hold true to a few vows.  We are presented with all kinds of lies about sex and marriage from a young age.  We are shown that marriage makes people happy, sex is almost always perfect and that marriage is not necessary to have a committed relationship.  This video addresses some of these issues.

I was fortunate enough to be raised in a family where my parents and grandparents are happily married, not necessarily perfectly married (because nobody is truly perfect), but they are all still married.  I had a strong faith foundation.  I feel that God prepared me for Patrick and vice-versa.  We were friends(ish) for about two years before we dated.  We are still best friends.  We had enough supports to show us that marriage is not just a cake-walk (interestingly, Cake Walk is the show that just came on TV… It is about wedding cake design competitions.  Who knew?).  We have been taught divorce is not an option.  We were advised by friends that love is a choice, not just a feeling.  That we need to have agape love (unconditional love, like the love of God).

We agreed we wanted our marriage to have a strong Biblical influence.  Our foundation needed to be Jesus, the only thing that would not crumble.  We believe that Biblical submission is the way things should be.  Submission does not mean that I do every single thing Patrick tells me to do.  It means that I respect him and do what he believes is best under the guidance of God.  He does the same.  Biblical submission is mutual.  It doesn’t just say wives submit to your husbands, but also husbands are to love their wives like Christ loves the church.  That is pretty huge, if you ask me.

I like how the speaker does not sugar coat things.  He says point blank that it is difficult to be married, that it takes work and that friendship and Jesus should be at the foundation of marriage.  He reminds people that the vows are ‘til death, not until we get tired of one another.   I love how he restates the church being Jesus’s bride and how that should be how we treat our marriages.

I also like how he pointed out from the start the lies society is feeding us today.  These are the same lies that make people think marriage has no meaning or is only about sex.  The lies about how divorce should be an option for everyone (don’t get me wrong, in cases of abuse, I think it is an option, just not when people “fall out of love”).  The lies about how we need to be happy all of the time and that marriage will achieve this.  I like how it countered those points with a realistic perspective of friendship and choice and hard work.  We have to like each other.  We have to choose God and choose love and choose marriage.  It is a partnership, not just cohabitation.  How we can’t just be pleasure seeking because that leads to heartbreak and pain, but God seeking.

There were also the points about how, in marriage, when people expect happiness, it is often because they treat their spouse as a god.  While dating, people become infatuated.  They think the person they love can do no wrong.  They become the focus of everything they do.  This can persist into marriage.  I have caught myself doing it from time to time.  The thing is, your spouse can’t make you happy.  Your spouse can’t fill a hole in your heart or change you.  Only God can do that.  And when we put our spouse or the idea of marriage above everything, including God, that runs us into trouble.  It leads to disappointment and heartbreak.  It leads to people feeling unhappy and unfulfilled.

On the same spectrum, people describe marriage as a prison.  Those who don’t expect full joy anticipate torture.  You’ve heard it, those who think of marriage as a life sentence to torture.  The end, as it were.  The thing is, we shouldn’t be slaves to our spouses.  And we shouldn’t anticipate being miserable.  Marriage was put in place for a reason.  Not to kill our spirits, but to make us into teams to better serve.

A few people are surprised that we were married so young (even though many are married younger), that we are still going strong despite the busyness of life and all that goes along with it.  It seems easy when I look at things on the surface.  It isn’t.  Some days I make a conscious choice to love Patrick (and not kill him).  Other days it just comes naturally.  When we are apart, we try to make sure we have time to talk (really difficult with the whole several time zone differences) or at least email and text.  We reserve quality time together when we are together.  He tucks me in to bed every night (because I sleep far too early for his night hawk ways).  We do devotions together most every night before bed (except last week, because I would go to bed well after he did).  We pray for and support each other in all of our endeavors.  We laugh and play and share responsibilities and friends.   It is like a fairytale, but not because I would think it is lame to actually call it a fairytale, we are nowhere near perfect (we bicker like the best old married couple ever) and realistically, no marriage is perfect because we are all flawed.  The good part is, the next best thing to a fairytale comes when God is at the center of our relationships.

I’m not saying we are perfect.  We have plenty to learn from and lots of time to learn in.  We haven’t been married for long, just two and a half years.   The thing is, we know what God wants from our marriage and we are willing to try with His help to do it.

If people watched this and took it seriously, it would offer the basis for further assessment of their plans for marriage, their hopes for love and how they can improve upon these things.

What are your thoughts on the video or marriage today?

Nursery duty

I have been in the nursery at church the past two Sundays.  Last week was my regularly scheduled week and this week, I was asked to help out because one of the people scheduled was home sick.  I have been volunteering in the nursery for the past three years.  I quite like it.  I love babies and toddlers.  Kids once they start talking and such make me nervous in mass, but I can do the babies and toddlers thing.

The thing about doing nursery is that you end up missing church… The service in its entirety because you are upstairs hanging out with the kids.  It sounds really legalistic of me, but I love church services and feel quite disappointed and as if I am missing out on something when I don’t get to go.  I like the community of worship.  I like learning.  I like music.  The actual service gives me all of these things.  But really, it isn’t about me and I am happy to help and worship in giving of my time and ministering to the little children.

I was not exactly pumped about week two of nursery because of the whole missing church again thing, but went up anyway.  There was a reason I had to do it this week.  The other lady I did nursery with was someone I had never met before.  She was older and very nice.  She has been going through a difficult time with the health of her husband and her sons living in another province (interestingly in the city where I grew up).  She told me all about all of this and I just sat and listened while we waited for the kids.  I didn’t have any wise words to say other than “I’ll pray for you,” but by the time the children came, she said that she felt much better having talked about it.  She doesn’t feel she can tell others, as they know her husband and he would be embarrassed.  Sometimes it is amazing how a circumstance can put you in the right place at the right time, even when you thought you were there for another purpose.

Back to the nursery…  Our church is currently going through its own little baby boom.  So, the nursery is packed (well, compared to where I grew up it is packed… I am talking 3-6 babies/toddlers and three nursing moms that come in and out).  Thus, the nursery ministry, or “Welcome” ministry is becoming more and more significant, which is cool.

I love watching these kids grow up.  A few of them have now since “graduated” into Patrick’s “Wonder” ministry.  Now, we get to compare notes on how they are changing and growing.  It is neat to see them crawling, then walking, then talking.  There are two twin boys (identical…. I still don’t actually know who is who most days) that started coming when they were just crawling and are now speaking in full sentences and doing things like learning how to blow bubbles (whist getting more solution on me).  The second Sunday I had them, one cried so much he threw up after his parents left and now they run in and start showing us everything they can find to play with.

The whole baby caregiving thing is also fantastic for my biologic clock.  I am not in the ideal position to be having a child.  Not that there really is an ideal time or position to be having a child.  I will graduate from med school in May, but residency will start in July and the first year or two, in particular are grueling with plenty of call and busy rotations that are outside my area of interest.  Not exactly the setting to be dreaming of morning sickness and screaming children.  If I were to have a baby, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.  If God wants me to, I am there.  But I hope he doesn’t.  Needless to say, I still “want” a baby.  I just don’t “need” one.  Watching other people’s children has been sufficient to soothe my need for cuddles and such and also show me the not-so-sunny side of parenting (tantrums, sickness, fighting).  Good to be aware.  Good for reminding me I don’t want that yet.  But, someday….

Today, one of the little guys was a whirlwind.  Sweet, but busy.  Dump every box of toys out busy.  And he is going through a pushing phase.  So, every now and again, you have to intervene, as he tries to take out another toddler.  Good times.  At one point, he shoved another little girl and I stopped him just before he did.  I told him shoving wasn’t nice.  He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Hitting is bad, shoving is wrong.  I know.”  He proceeded to go do the same thing 5 minutes later.

Its tough when kids go through phases.  His mom said that she is getting so frustrated with his shoving because she has no idea how he picked it up or how to make it stop.  He is a good kid.  He apologized to the little girl and to me.  But then he does it again.  The good thing about phases is that they usually end.  Especially with discipline and positive reinforcement.

We are like the little boy.  We may no longer shove other people, but we have our own phases, even in adulthood.  We do things wrong.  We do things that hurt people.  And we don’t always stop, even though it has been pointed out to us time and time again.

I have this habit of not using my words (funny given I write a blog).  When I am hurt or upset, I shut down.  I show my emotions on my face, so I can’t hide it, but I can choose to not speak.  Drives Patrick nuts.  As it should.  People need to communicate when they are upset or hurt.  I know that.  And yet, I go back to doing the same old thing over and over again.

We all have sin in our lives.  Nobody is perfect.  Sometimes they are things that others can’t see.  Sometimes we don’t yet even realize that what we are doing is wrong.  The thing is, God, like a parent sees us doing these things.  The Holy Spirit guides us to recognize what we are doing as wrong.  He brings others into our lives to rebuke us and to support us in changing.  God will help us to stop sinning.  Like small children, though, we first have to learn that something is wrong.  And even after that, it takes time to remove the sin from our lives.  It takes time to remodel habits.  To learn a better way of coping or functioning.  And like a parent, God will keep reminding us, will keep watching and redirecting with the help of others to make us into the people he planned for us to be.

When I look at the frustrated mother, who has been telling her two year old not to shove, I think, wow, that must be tough.  But when you look at it, God has been telling me not to boast or lie or be spiteful for much of my life.  And I still do it from time to time.  That is a lot more correcting.  It is a good thing He has all the time in the world.  And all the patience.  Because like a good parent, he cares about what we do and wants us to turn out for the best.  He knows that we make mistakes, but that one of those times we will listen and learn.

Choir hangover

I am very sleepy.  I had choir practice last night for our church’s Christmas Musical on Sunday morning.  And I mean our home-home church.  Because that is where I am.  The practice went ridiculously late… Well until 10:20.  For me, when I have a 15-minute drive home and have to be back at work the next morning for 7:30, it is ridiculously late. Thus, I have concluded… I must have a choir hangover.

It was wonderful to see my church family again.  Lots of hugs and good chats.  And my billionth explanation about the residency application process…  And lots of explaining where Patrick is…  Lots of singing.  And re-singing.  Some things never change.  The slow uptake of the choir learning music is one of them.  The choir in its majority is rather elderly.  Not that there is anything wrong with being of advanced age.  Very advanced.  I look forward to it.  I also think it is awesome that they are still singing in the choir!  The thing is, some of them cognitively aren’t where they used to be and they were never really the most musically inclined bunch.  And they have been singing in the choir for years and years.  They don’t read music.  They don’t listen well.  But, they love the Lord and they love to sing.  And they are dedicated.  It makes life interesting and I wouldn’t trade this choir for the best one in the world!

One of the things that always got me through choir practice was taking notes on ridiculous things the choir director would say.  Either in jest or in an attempt to explain for the millionth time how to sing (or not sing) a particular portion of a song.  I found myself doing that again.  The key is to put the comments in quotations at the point of reference of the comment.  And then, of course, give reference to the person who stated this.  The best part is when you get the music back to sing it another time, your comments are still there.  And you get to laugh all over again.  Nothing is better than seeing something like “put your guts into it,” “you wouldn’t pee this loudly,” or “this is big F loud” to get yourself smiling.  Maybe that is just me.  But still.

Woo Christmas sweaters. Image from myitthings.com.

The musical this year, interestingly, given the choir composition is “Never Too Old For Christmas – a simple musical for senior adult choirs.”  True story.  It made my night.  It is indeed simple.  Though, the kids choir and youth are also involved.  And the entire choir is not made up of seniors.  Why… there are three young adults (two of which live elsewhere) and three youth and several people my parents’ age.  So, take that!  They want us to wear Christmas sweaters for the musical.  “Nice Christmas sweaters.”  The example sweater is one I would wear to an ugly sweater party.  I love my life!  I have concluded I will plead not having a sweater with me and just wear red or green.

It feels good to be home and to be singing in the choir.  Despite some changes that make me sad inside (like the absence of some of my favorite people), it is still homey and familiarly frustrating and yet entertaining.  I love music and the people.  I miss it when I am away.  Today, however, I remember that late practices cause me to miss sleep the next day.

Its interesting how things change so much and yet they stay the same.  Since moving away, the music minister, my other father died.  When I come back, things always feel off.  I have never really fully processed things.  My other mother, his wife, is the music minister now.  She has a different style and yet I see him in her.  It helps with the hurt a little.  I still feel crushed when I come home and he isn’t there.  Or when I call their house and he doesn’t answer and talk my face off.  But those memories don’t go away.  Some other choir members have become too unwell, have died or have decided to stop singing for other reasons.  In a small, close-knit group, you notice those changes.  They become more and more apparent to me.  And yet, when someone has a quivering voice and another is off key… and that guy in the back comes in before everyone else, you feel at home.  It is nice to be welcomed.  To feel comfortable enough to stick a pencil in your hair and put your feet up.  To know that these people pray for you when you are there and when you’re not.  To feel the element of the routine of passing out candy.

Going home again is possible.  The thing is, life goes on while you aren’t there.  The world keeps turning.  The people you love, they can change, they can move, they can die.  It is comforting to know that despite overwhelming change and uncertainty in this world, those you love are there for you.  The same is for God.  Despite changes in everyone in everything, He never changes.  He is the only thing that doesn’t change.  Even the choir changes.  Our friends change.  Our families change.  We change.  But He is stable.  Its nice to know that there is something out there that doesn’t change (especially when you are as scared of change as I am).  He provides for our needs and He provides the balance and comfort when other things change or become uncertain.  I like that.   Whenever I go home, I look forward to things being the same, but they never are, not in entirety, though there is always something comforting.  That is the great part about being home with people you love. The even better thing is that going to God, things are always the same and always comforting… He is our most stable home.

On a related change note, my parents have been slowly fixing up my childhood home.  Each time we come home something is different.  It has come to the point where I now walk in the door and prowl around to find the thing that is different.  Almost a game of sorts.  This time… It was the bathroom.  Patrick and I were guessing the living room carpet (though he really likes the carpet).  A new sink and tiles.  The sink kind of reminds me of a fountain.  My uncle said it looks like a urinal.  The tiles are nice.  Change can be good.  But stability is nice to have as well.

Back to Christmas… Here is a church choir classic.  We liked to say “them bells “ instead of  “those bells.”  Mainly because it drove a certain someone nutty.  And because half the choir thought they were the words and were corrected a million times.  That made saying “them” entertaining.  We needed to get out more.

Open for renovations

The short doors to our lovely home.

For the last three years, our apartment has been perpetually under construction.  When we moved in, the house (in which we reside in the basement) was two colors, white on the front, yellow on the sides.  Our door painted burgundy.  Our door is only 5’5” high.  I can stand in it and just miss the edge of my head.  Our laundry room is accessed through another “short door outside.  We had hot water heat with old school furnaces.  But, we could afford the rent as two unemployed newlyweds, one of which just finished a degree and the other in year two of four in medicine.  The neighborhood gets more shady as you go up the hill, but our neighbors are great, the landlords are friendly “out around da bay” folks.  We are a 5min drive from both hospitals, our church and two malls.

The construction began shortly thereafter.  It seems my landlord is famed (at least to his wife) for coming up with various projects.  They have another house “around da bay” that he has been working on forever.  This one is his other project.  Apparently he “was going to side the house” for the past few years.  The projects occur whenever he happens to be in town (an equally sporadic occurrence) and consisted of him siding the entire house, putting in new windows in their half, building a new set of front and back stairs for their part of the house… Our apartment projects until recently were when we were away for holidays.  One Christmas cocking windows, another, replacing broken tiles.  The summer before last, new windows, this past summer, putting in electric heat.  The whole electric heat affair is something that caused us to rearrange furniture and everything.  I still haven’t recovered.  This year, while on my one week of vacation between third and fourth year, he cut a hole… A HOLE… in the office/spare room and installed a new window, but then decided to move some old pipes and the room is still not back to normal.  Apparently he wants to replace some of a wall in there next.  My textbooks are covered in a thick layer of sawdust.  Last year, he re-floored most of their house… including on my post-call days.  He is planning on taking down walls and making the apartment bigger and connecting the laundry room and such… Perhaps even a full size door.   He has already started preliminary work… Jackhammers and the works.  He asked if he could take down our living room wall sometime in April (right around my licensing exams). We politely decline.  We are moving come the end of May anyway.  Sometimes we get volunteered to help.  On my vacation, I was peacefully knitting and watching Gilmore Girls when I got recruited to help build a wall.  My favorite is when Patrick helped hold some pipes that he wanted to cut.  Sparks started flying and the landlord started cursing.  It appeared there were some wires in one of them… yes, wires.  We then had said wires hanging down in our bathroom for the next few days until he got the appropriate stuff to attach them to the wall.

Wal-Mart special... Fully constructed. I forgot it looked this good.

We appreciate that he is trying to improve the house.  It would just be nice to not live in a perpetual construction zone, complete with noise and personal space disruptions.  I have to say, I am thankful for our affordable housing, pleasant neighbors, friendly faces and the improvements to our lodging over the years.  It has confirmed that I will likely buy a house that needs little work and will live in it as is until it is excessively outdated just to avoid the chaos and noise and mess that comes with renovations.  I am so anti-change and renovations at times that our dresser, that we built ourselves upon moving in cannot be changed out until we move.  Sounds normal, right?  The thing is, it was a Wal-Mart bargain build-it-yourself contraption… It didn’t stand up well to my volume of clothing and such.  The drawers have all fallen in on top of each other.  I go to bed at night and have to move Patrick’s underwear drawer from the bed.  Yes… his entire drawer because he has to take it out to get to his shirts.  We have fixed it countless times, but now its beyond the point of no return…The drawers go back in, then one by one fall down on each other within a few days.  Building a new one would disrupt not only our budget, but our time.  We move in a few months.  I will wait.

Renovations in our lives can be just as noisy and messy.  We are creatures of habit and when those habits become engrained, it is difficult to break them and more difficult to create new ones.  Making space for new family members, dealing with the death of a loved one, trying to develop healthy habits and break bad ones… they all resonate into aspects of our lives we don’t anticipate.  Eventually, things get cleaned up and look shiny and new… or at least different.

People deal with really big life changes and come out on the other side almost unscathed, and yet changed.  Today, in clinic (procedure free – day 3!), I saw someone who had been in remission three times and was in clinic to be reassessed for surgical resection of his third liver metastasis in the last 2 years.  He told me of his lifestyle changes that came from his cancer experience, how he learned to value his time more and how he changed his diet and exercise.  He also talked about how it changed his family.  How he reconciled with his son after his first diagnosis and that though strained, they have developed a relationship.  He told me of how they had to rearrange their entire schedule for his current chemo regimen.  While saying all this, he smiled and said, despite all of the difficult times, he has grown into a better person.  This is not always typical, but such a diagnosis does remodel lives in one way or another.  Unfortunately, he had multiple metastases in his liver measuring over 3cm each and too little remaining liver, so chemotherapy is his only option at this time.

Some people don’t change in the way we expect; the smoker who doesn’t quit despite lung cancer diagnosis, the criminal who steals the day after she gets out of prison, my habit of putting too much spice in my spaghetti sauce despite Patrick getting heartburn each time.   Some of the change may not be visible, maybe the change wasn’t in the way we hope, but has made a step in some direction that has yet to declare itself.  Maybe it is a conscious choice not to “renovate.”  With each opportunity to “renovate” a seed is planted, the idea revisited.  But, change is scary.  Necessary.  But scary.

In our household, we have tried to make renovations for God.  We have been striving to do nightly devotions both alone and as a couple.  At first it was a struggle, mainly for me to maintain consciousness, but now it is happening.  A little remodel can go a long way.  More recently, Patrick has become the director of our church’s “Wonder Ministry” for 3 and 4 year olds.  I find myself supporting him in this role.  It is messy at times… paper jams and crumpled photocopies.  The frustration of contacting volunteers.  This ministry is out of my comfort zone… I’m more of adult or baby person, but he is built for this.  It is taking extra time and energy, but overall, it is just another remodel we are going through for him accepting a new role and me being supportive.  God is preparing us for a big move in less than a year.  I think He is working through these little remodels to prepare us for bigger changes to come!

Well… That was a cheesy ending.  I will try to minimize those in the future.