Monday, June 27, 2016

A New Church

My blog has become quiet again but last night I had a dream that I was able to publish my Instagram as a book that contained these long, detailed posts about each picture.  When I woke, I had this compelling feeling that I need to return to posting on my blog.  Time is moving so quickly and while I don’t feel compelled to share everything, I do want to share the highlights of what our life is like and what homeschooling high school is like for us.  

One thing I have not shared here is the shift my family has undertaking with where we are worshipping God.  In order to share the whole story I have to back up, way up, to July of 2015, when Karen took us to Epic Church in Decatur, Alabama.  This was the first time I can honestly say I understood what the Holy Spirit is.  I felt it come alive in me.  I’m not sure if it was the sense of community I felt, the welcoming I was given, the incredible worship music or the message through the sermon, I just knew I wanted to attend church here again.  The only problem is logistics.  Connecticut sure is a long way from Alabama!  We had the opportunity to attend Epic again, in November of 2015 and we still talk about the sermon given about being a giant slayer (David).  At this service the girls looked at me and told me they want to experience church this way every week.  There exact words were “THIS is what we want church to be like.”  I told them I did not know if that was possible for so many reasons, but I would look into it.

When we returned home from our epic Alabama road trip I did look into it and I rediscovered a church two towns over from us.  I always knew of this church, one of my brother in laws attended it years ago but because it carried the Congregational name, I never knew it was in fact, a non-denominational church.   

One week I attended a service alone and felt like I was back in Alabama.  The same welcome, the same community, the same worship style through music, the same type of   study through the Word of God.  The church was packed.  At least a dozen volunteers guide traffic through the parking lot.  A police officer directs traffic into the church.  Teens.  Oh how many teens.  And Bible study.  At the service, people took out their Bibles and learned the details behind many of the verses we know, or thought we knew.   In addition to the weekly service, there is an active youth program, teen program, community groups that meet weekly, Bible studies that meet weekly, mission opportunities both local and overseas, retreats, conferences, prayer groups, and more.  

I attended, then I brought Greg.  We left the girls at home because a decision like this is ultimately a parental one and had to be made in advance of involving children.  There was also the fact that I was still teaching 4th grade at our old church and Lilah was in her final year, her Confirmation Year, of religious education.  

We decided to attend, thinking we would split our time between churches.  However we immediately felt connected to this new church.  Grace joined the teen youth group and worked her behind off to connect with the girls there and make friendships.  I joined a community group that meets weekly.  I attended a Mom’s in Prayer statewide event and fell in love with this organization.  In addition to my weekly community group meeting, I met weekly with the Mom’s in Prayer group.  Grace considered attending her first retreat, but felt her friendships were not strong enough yet and she was not quite ready yet to journey away from home for the winter retreat.  Lilah decided to wait until she was a freshman and join the youth group for highschoolers after finding the junior high group just a bit too much like “junior high”.   If we want to change back to attending a Catholic Mass, we can do that at any time but it will be a Saturday evening mass so that I can still attend the Sunday service.  

Snippets of my journey were shared on Instagram.  I told my parents of this switch.  They understood and were not upset by our decision.  I finished out my obligation to teach 4th grade, dashing to our Catholic church for 9:30a.m and dashing out the door to make it to the 11:30 service at the other church.  Lilah finished her studies.  She had a beautiful Confirmation and she has some of her own faith stories to share, especially how Philipians 4:13 came to be her life verse this year.

We are settling in to a new way of worship and our family has changed in some beautiful and profound ways.  We listen to worship music.  I love it.  I love knowing that most of these songs are directly inspired by certain verses and now that I am well into my reading of the Bible, I can identify many of them!  Grace is also reading her Bible.  In fact many books we have read together.  My favorite was 2Corinthians, which we read aloud after her youth group leader texted the group and suggested it.  The girls are working on a 1/2 credit for language arts: Christian Writers.  We are listening to Joni Eareckson Tada’s biography and completing a study guide produced by  Lilah and I have read the Selection Series by Kiera Cass inspired by the Book of Esther.  I am half way through the Yada Yada Prayer Group series by Neta Jackson.  Grace and I enjoy Bible journaling and Lilah loves looking up verses in a book that my Aunt gave her that provides four translations for each verse.  It is so cool.  Grace has now signed up for her first retreat, a small group get away for teens involved in student leadership.  Since she is going to be part of the teen worship band in the fall this is great timing for her.  I attended my very first retreat earlier this month at the same retreat center she will attend later this summer.  I think she will love it.  Lilah is now assisting with 4th grade in the Sunday kids programming and although I was so looking forward to taking some time for myself, I was approached to help out with first grade, and I agreed for the summer.  We attended a Missions Conference and learned why missions are so vital to spreading the word of God.  We attended a concert by Kutless and 7th Time Down.  Greg and I attended a Christian comedy event focused on strengthening marriages.  We are busy.  So very busy but in such a good way.  


Theresa B said...

This is great! This reminds me of where I was when the girls were little and Jason and I decided to search for a church home for our family (Jason was not raised Catholic and was not comfortable with some things in the RC church). I remember feeling in awe of the community and all of the opportunities to study the Bible and really learn the message of the Word of God. Although I went to Catholic school, I never really felt that in the Catholic church.

Now it seems that God is leading us in a new direction...

LJS said...

My last Bible study at RC church was looking at the readings for the upcoming mass. It did nothing to deepen my understanding but it did give me a connection to the mass. I was searching for community and understanding but just was not getting it. We tried every single RC church in our town before we joined the one we were at for 10 years. I think what I want and need is just not available in the churches in my area. I am so happy now I feel like I have been searching and searching and now finally, I am home.

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