Monday, September 12, 2011

Forever Reign

We attended a new church this Sunday. Our current church is amazing in many ways and it isn't like we have a problem with is just that pretty much since we started attending there something has been missing for me. I thought that maybe it was just the season of life I was in. I have very young children and live 35 minutes away from it so serving and getting involved was almost impossible. I have done my best, but even after 5 years I have yet to find my place there. We have talked about finding a new church from time to time, but never quite pulled the trigger on it. We thought maybe we just needed to try harder and give it more time.

When Aubrey and Ellie died I longed for a sense of community like never before and even though loving hearts from church showed up on our doorstep with food and prayers, I still felt nameless and faceless on Sunday morning. And with so much going on in my heart these days I asked my husband if we could try out a church closer to home.

So this Sunday we did!

It sounds strange to "try out" a church. But it is the reality. Not everyone fits everywhere. Finding a church to belong to is much different than finding a church to attend. I am realizing that I NEED a church community. It isn't juts something I like or want. It is a core need rooted deep in my being. In many ways I am lost without one.

I desire to contribute to what God is doing. I desire to be a part of something much bigger than myself. I desire to serve. But even more so, I desire to know others and be known. I don't do nameless and faceless very well. I desire relationships and community and all the stuff that takes people from scientific homo-sapiens to living unique souls.

For me church is all about relationships. Forming them, growing them, growing in them. Christ is the most important relationship of all, but we need each other too. And the Word makes it clear that fellowship is essential to our walk with Christ. Not just for accountability either, but because we are relational beings. We need each other. We need the body of Christ!

I know I do.

So anyway, off we went to a new church. AND I LOVED IT.

For starters the people were friendly and down to earth. They made us feel welcome and comfortable. Honestly I have never been to a more friendly church. It is a big church so we needed some help finding the nursery and Kindergarten class and some nice man just took it upon himself to show us the way literally walking us to each building himself. Then after the service one of the pastors heard we were new and had young children and invited us to a young married/young families type small group. I was thrilled. Just to be sought out made me feel like a little sheep being gathered back into the fold. I felt instant acceptance. And it felt good.

Yet, that was not the highlight of the day! It gets even better.

I think God knew we were coming and met me there. Actually, I know God knew, and He prepared something special just for me. It was seriously for my heart. A gift. A boost. A reminder of some things I have forgotten.

During worship we sung a song I had never heard before. It was the perfect song at the perfect time. Almost instantly I was in tears. I was so busy crying during the song that I didn't get the name of it and my husband had to email the worship pastor to get the title. But the worship pastor emailed back and now that I know what song it was so I HAVE TO share it with you.

Before I post the lyrics and a link to the song I have to warn you-this one is a crier! Tears and snot-the whole nine yards. I was a basket case. I have not cried like that since my daughters died. Truly, the lyrics spoke straight to my heart and I broke. It was painful and transforming all at the same time.

If my heart had a song this would be it.

Forever Reign by Hillsong

You are good, You are good
When there's nothing good in me
You are love, You are love
On display for all to see
You are light, You are light
When the darkness closes in
You are hope, You are hope
You have covered all my sin

You are peace, You are peace
When my fear is crippling
You are true, You are true
Even in my wandering
You are joy, You are joy
You're the reason that I sing
You are life, You are life,
In You death has lost it's sting

Oh, I'm running to your arms,
I'm running to your arms
The riches of your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

You are more, You are more
Than my words will ever say
You are Lord, You are Lord
All creation will proclaim
You are here, You are here
In your presence I'm made whole
You are God, You are God
Of all else I'm letting go

Oh, I'm running to your arms
I'm running to your arms
The riches of your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

My heart will sing
no other name
Jesus, Jesus

Oh, I'm running to your arms
I'm running to your arms
The riches of your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

Here is a link to hear the song if you want to hear it.

I hope it touches your heart like it did mine. I don't know yet if this church is for us every Sunday, but I do know it was for me last Sunday. Exactly, especially, perfectly for me.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Come Near

I have been wanting to post for a while now (I apologize-a month without so much as a hello is a long time), but every time I jumped over here to write I either couldn't get the words right or was interrupted (my Colton is walking now-let the fun begin!)

The last few weeks have been tough for many reasons, some I can talk about and some I cannot. Not everything is appropriate to share here. However, I would like to ask for prayer. God knows what I need so just lift me up. I cannot express how thankful I am in advance for you- all of you. You have been such faithful friends in Christ.

A few weeks ago a Marine family living in base housing on Camp Pendelton lost their home, every possession they had, and their 13 year old daughter, in a house fire. Words cannot explain the devastation this family is experiencing. The entire community has been traumatized. I spent almost three hours one afternoon last week (just listening mostly) to a grief-stricken and heart-broken mom. I took some tea to her, but mostly I just wanted her to know that she is not alone.

I felt so alone when girls died.

Being with her, although a privilege as I have never even met this woman before and she trusted me enough to let me into her life even if for an afternoon, during the most painful time she has ever experienced, stirred up so much of my own grief- grief I thought I had dealt with but discovered was just lying dormant in the hidden places of my heart. I saw so much of my pain in her. The things she said, how she said them, even some of the questions she asked, sounded like me talking three years ago.

I recognized her brokenness and it hurt my heart.

I drove home after meeting with her so heavy hearted. I cried in the car, not only for her, but for myself and every other mother who has lost a child. I was surprised at how quickly my compassion turned to raw pain. I think there are some feelings that can never be forgotten and the moment it hit me that my babies were gone is one of them. I wish that feeling on no one.

Since that afternoon I have poured myself back into trying to find the magic cure for pain. There has to be something God, something to say or do, something to make it easier, something to help... There isn't one just so you know. No pill or potion. Not even time.

Only Jesus.

And He holds us and heals us in ways that we can't always see or feel. Sometimes He just sits with us and lets us find rest in Him. He tends to us perfectly, just as we need individually, doing a complete work, not rushing to just end the pain, but working carefully and with love to supernaturally heal our ruined hearts for our good and His glory.

We don't always feel it. We often don't understand it. But we do have to choose it.

I had to ask God to come near to me again as I drove home that day. To show himself to me close enough to touch. To talk to me by whispering in my ear. To hold me even when I feel unworthy and to call my name when I am too weary to lift my eyes to heaven.

I want my tears to fall right on to God's lap. I want to be that close. It has been a while since I have been that close.

I will leave you with a quote from Max Lucado that fits perfectly here from his book God Came Near.

"Has it been a while since you have seen Him? If your prayers seem stale, it probably has. If your faith seems to be trembling, perhaps your vision of him has blurred. If you can't find power to face your problems, perhaps it is time to face Him."

I know its time for me.
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