Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Challenges are Good

If you're a believer in spiritual warfare (which I am) then you will understand what I mean when I say that the enemy had no chance at stopping us from attending church on Sunday. God wanted us there and that was that.

And it was good to be home.

The girls did perfectly. Both went to their "classes" with no problems. McKenna's little buddy Luke from her preschool class was there and they ran off to play together. Kyla gave her big giant smile and happily was passed off to the nursery attendant. McKenna told her teacher that she wanted to sing a song about Jesus and she got to do just that. She even came home with little pictures of Jesus that she had colored herself. The only time she cried? When it was time to leave. We promised her we'd go back next week. And she told us "I like church. I like singing songs about Jesus."

As for Erick and I, well we both felt relieved to be back in the sanctuary. I remember that after I gave my life to Christ, I went to a few churches here and there on my own. Nothing captivating. Then I met Erick and he took me to his college group that met on Thursday nights. What I remember seeing and wanting the most was the sense of belonging. How everyone around me seemed to feel at home in that room. They all seemed to know each other, to be happy to see each other, to know the songs, to know where to find the verse in the Bible. They were at home and comfortable with church. They were safe there. That's what I longed for. I honestly don't think I've ever felt that at a church before, even this one - the church that I worked at, the church Erick worked at, the church I was married in, the church where my daughter attends school, the church that owns the apartments I live in? The same church where I am currently sitting, working my little three-hour per week job and the sweetest old lady just came in and gave me a homemade cupcake to thank me for my "beautiful smile" that she enjoys seeing every week? Why did I not ever really feel connected here?

Because I had my own ideas about which church I wanted to be my "home" church and this wasn't it. But when we returned last Sunday, I felt at home. And that's because I now know that "church" is not the building. It's the body of Christ. From the guy singing off-key in the back row, to giggling teenage girls in the front row, to the pastor, to the sound technician - they're my brothers and sisters in Christ. And it felt good to be amongst them again. It felt good to hold my husband's arm and actually get to worship together. Usually, he's leading and I'm sitting with the congregation. It felt good to hear the female vocalist raise her voice in worship and to lock into her voice and sing along with her. I've always felt connected to the female vocalist because it's her voice I use to harmonize with. It felt good to connect with her, even though we were a whole sanctuary apart. It felt good to sing:

What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

How one little verse of worship can make you feel calmed, then comforted, then empowered all at once.

And the sermon, it was of course exactly what I needed to hear. I won't go into what I had been struggling with. But the sermon was truth and it was spoken to my heart. And God reminded me what I needed to know.

Some of you know the story of why Erick and I had some animosity towards this particular church. And having worked in a church setting (between the two of us, one or both of us has been employed at a church every year except for 2004) we were burned out. Let me tell you, it is easy to be angry at the church. How many of us have that story? The story of how the church wronged us. We seem to forget that the church is run by imperfect people, people like you and I. Yes, we hold them to a higher standard. And they should hold themselves to a higher standard. But they are still people. And the church deserves the same unconditional love that we do. I am always ministered to by Derek's Webb's song "The Church" (praying against a lawsuit from Derek's record label here). He sings it from the perspective of Jesus, using the analogy of Christ as the Bridegroom, the church as the Bride that he has come for (you can read more about that analogy here.) The chorus says:

'Cause I haven't come for only you
But for my people to persue
You cannot care for me
With no regard for her
If you love me you will love the church

It convicts me. It reminds me that Jesus didn't just die for me. He died for his church. How self-righteous of me to expect the church, the people who run the church to be perfect when I certainly am not. He loves her. And I love Him.

Further in the song he says "when you hear the sound of the water" (baptism) "you will know you're not alone" and "when you taste my flesh and my blood" (communion) "you will know that you're not alone." It reminds me how important it is to be amongst brothers and sisters who share that same love for Christ. It is not easy to be a believer in this world. Certainly not in the world as it is today. It's important to come together regularly and to be encouraged by each other, to worship together, to hear God's word together.

It was good to be home. That's all I'm saying.

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You will be glad to know that McKenna's little flowers are sprouting! She is ecstatic to see all five little seeds in each pot are actually GROWING! I think we're both surprised since I have absolutely no clue how to garden.

Once I saw these little guys coming to life, I felt so excited and encouraged that I emailed my friend Julie and asked her for gardening tips. I'm gonna plant a little garden in my front "yard". I put "yard" in paranthesis because it is "yard" sized. But the majority of it is filled with some tacky apartment landscaping. But on either side of my pathway, there is a patch of dirt and I think I'm gonna make it into a little garden area. Just to see if I'm capable of doing it. That is one of my projects.

I've also been encouraged by Gina to try some altered projects. Can I just say how freaked I am? REAL paper scares me. Or rather, real glue scares me. But I have chosen two little things that I picked up at the dollar spot at Target and bought all my little supplies. Now I just have to sit down and work on them. EEK! I'll post pictures if they turn out semi-good or better. = D Those are projects two and three.

And Kim gave me top-secret lessons on how to make my own version of her cute blingin' blooms. I loved the one she made for McKenna and 1) I wanted to create one on a headband for Kyla to wear and 2) I just wanted to see if I could DO something like that because I so rarely make anything crafty that isn't digital. So I bought all my materials today to make one for each of the girls. Again, if they turn out semi-good or better, I'll share a picture. Those are projects four and five.

And then I had been wanting to remake this craft that was made for us years ago by my friend Donna. It is the cutest little thing. You use planting pots and a fishbowl and your end result looks like a little gumball machine. This one I know I can do. I'll post pics. That's project six.

Not that those are the order I'm doing them. I'll work on them as I feel inspired. And, you know - inbetween caring for my home and family and cooking meals and doing creative team assignments and team scraplifts and challenges for the Ultimate Digi-Scrapper contest.

It's good to be busy with stuff like this. I'm looking forward to sitting in the sunshine and getting my hands dirty. I'm looking forward to tying little ribbons on my projects and sewing little headbands and painting my little gumball machine. I'm grateful that my husband works so hard so that I can stay home and not only care for my family but use my free time to be creative. I know he loves his job but that doesn't mean it's easy to work 40 hours a week (especially with juvenile criminals - that really wears a person out). But he does it and he loves it and then he comes home and lets me spend his money on art. Not because we need another painted gumball machine. But because he knows it makes me feel good to do something creative. I'm lucky to have a husband who wants me to feel whole.

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For those who wanted it, that recipe DID turn out good. Especially if you like carrots. So here is the recipe:

Honey Mustard Chicken & Carrots

Ingredients:
2 Tsps margarine or butter
4 boneless/skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup apple juice
2 cups frozen baby cut carrots
2 TBS sweet honey mustard
3 TBS coarsely chopped honey-roasted peanuts

Directions:
1. Melt margarine in large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 5-8 minutes or until chicken is browned on both sides.
2. Add apple juice. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook 5 minutes. Add carrots; cover and cook 5-10 minutes or until chicken is fork-tender, its juices run clear and carrots are crisp-tender.
3. With slotted spoon, remove chicken and carrots from skillet; cover and keep warm. Stir mustard into liquid in skillet. Spoon mustard sauce over chicken and carrots; sprinkle with peanuts.

Yield: 4 servings
Nutritional per serving:
Calories: 250
Calories from fat: 80
Total fat: 9g
Total carbs: 13g
Protein: 29g

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Recent LOs
(Click image to enlarge)

In The Potter's Hands

Credits: Welcome to the GMD team LeeAndra! Here is my scraplift welcome! I remember the first time I saw your original. We were getting ready to leave for Erick's Grandma's 100th birthday party. I was killing some time on the computer and somehow found your LO and was so moved by the beauty of it. I told Erick "You have to take a picture like this when we're at your Grandma's party today. I need to scraplift this idea." So when we found out you'd be one of the May GTMs, I knew exactly which of your LOs to lift for the team welcome! I used Michelle Coleman's Lighter Shades of Pale kit, Gina Miller's NEW NEW NEW stitches, Katie Pertiet's snap-frames. Fonts are FG Script Elegant, Rage, Tempus Sans. I adapted my words from LeeAndra's.
My journaling reads: These hands have worked alongside a husband, comforted a child in the middle of the night, held more than a dozen grandchildren and great-grandchildren, written a million birthday cards...and loved. These hands have clutched tightly for comfort, have brushed curls from her own eyes, have painted more than a dozen art projects, have written the letter M....and been loved. What will these hands do next? Only the Potter knows, for He knew them before they were formed in the womb. He has shaped their hands and hearts and souls. And it is in His name that these hands join together in prayer.
See LeeAndra's original here.

Do What You Love

Credits: Welcome to the GMD team Melissa! Your original LO just jumped right out at me as something special and I was excited to get to scraplift it and make a precious gift for my husband. Thanks for the inspiration! I used Artifacts papers and Digital Distressing Kit by Nancie Rowe Janitz. Paper tears by Steph Krush. Label strip by Dianne Rigdon. Staple by IOD. Fonts are Saeculum, Carpenter and Prissy Frat Boy.
Journaling reads: You fell in love with the guitar when you were eight years old. You taught yourself, having enough drive and determination to learn, conquer and excel at the gift. You started a rockband that played to audiences of thousands. You were signed to a record label. You have two professionally recorded albums. Songs you wrote were played nationally and internationally. You charted as high as number 2 in some markets. You used your gifts for ministry. You toured with the infamous Continentals and traveled the country. You were accepted to YWAM and you ministered to thousands more in Austria and Croatia. You starred in countless musicals. You played the lead in many of them. You had the honor of being cast as Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar - a performance that rivaled that of the original actor. You were a worship leader for numerous churches and helped to implement unique, life-altering services that are being emulated by other churches to this day.Your gift of music was enough to grab the attention of more than one young woman. But namely, it grabbed the attention of the woman you would make your wife. Your music was used to propose to her, your song the first you would dance to as a married couple. You sang to your wife’s pregnant belly. Your daughters were born to love music. They take joy in hearing their Daddy sing and play guitar. You can already see that they want to follow in your footsteps. Music has been the voice of your spirit which has filled our home and enriched our lives. May the passion never dwindle, may the song never cease, may the dance never end.
See Melissa's original here.

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I'll FINALLY be taking my laptop in on Friday. I've had issues with my USB drives for at least a month now. I need to send it in to get it fixed and they said it could take up to 3 weeks. *sniff, sniff* I'm gonna miss my little buddy. So I am sure this means I'll have less computer time. I'll still have access since Erick has a computer but I really anticipate I'll have a lot less computer time overall. So please don't be offended if I don't get a chance to stop by your blogs too often over the next few weeks. It's not you, it's Toshiba.

Questions of the day: Who was your first movie star crush? Mine was Ricky Schroeder. He was dreamy. I also had a thing for Fred Savage and River Phoenix. And I was just a little bit of an Edward Furlong stalker. Just a little bit. I may or may not have figured out where he lived and my Dad may or may not have driven me by and let me knock on the door. Who was your "dream boat"?

14 comments:

Maegan said...

Whew! That was one long post girl. It was so sweet to read about your girls at church. I wish Zoƫ was so easy to hand off at the church nursery. She usually cries, "No Mama No!" It is pitiful.

Your layouts are gorgeous as usual. I had no idea that Erick was such an accomplished musician! Wowza! I have a think for musicians. :)

An my answer to your question is...nobody. Nope, notta one. Can't think of a single person. My first TV crush was Jason Priestly though and I didn't even watch Beverly Hills 90210.

Elaine said...

AHHH I had all these comments on how great it was that you and Erick are back at church, comments on your garden, comments on your LOs, UNTIL I read your question of the day! I REMEMBER the Edward Furlong stalker that you once was and I remember you DID knock on his door! I'm totally dying of laughter over here and completely lost my train of thought!

My very first crush was Christopher Reeve, then it was Michael J. Fox for the loooongest time, then it was New Kids On the Block.. Donnie in particular...the Bop Posters were real cheap wallpaper for my room! ;D

Melissa Ives said...

I'm so happy that you and your family enjoyed your church service so much. Your comments gave me a lot to think about...

I love your scraplift of my layout! So beautiful...the photo, the journaling, the layout!

I'm sorry about your laptop! Hope it gets better soon!

Hmmm...my heartthrob...Kirk Cameron...and River Pheonix...I had a lot!

Kim said...

Great post. I am happy you feel "at home" finally. I have yet to feel that way, but maybe someday!

Honestly, I never had a celebrity crush when I was young. How lame am I?! I think the first time I "noticed" a "celebrity" it was JFK Jr., just a few years before he died. :(

Oh, and my bog is back... just at a new location:
http://kw360.blogspot.com

Juls said...

wow, your "church situation" really spoke to me this morning..ok ok, god used it to speak through it to me. My dad is/was a pastor and after I went out on my own I completely abandoned my faith. I think my marriage/parenting/body/mind ect. could really benefit from back in the pew, and your post was a kick in the butt. thank you for being honest.

great layouts. My own GG-grandma lived to be 104. I wish I had pictures like that.

ok...this will age me, but my celebrity crush? Mark-paul gosseler mmmmm back in the day "zack" was sooooo fine. and ok, young devon sawa and JTT (Tell me you know who that is) my friends and I would watch "wild america" over and over. *sigh* those were the days lol.

Julie Jewels said...

Wow Shannon! What a post today!

Your whole writings about church really made me feel good all over. So many things, but mainly that my friend sounds happy and at peace.

Can't wait to see how your projects turn out!! Sounds like fun!

Shawna Taylor said...

One of my first crushes was Joaquin Phoenix, ever since I saw him in the movie Parenthood & then in Inventing the Abbotts. To this day he is one of my biggest celebrity crushes! I must see any movie he makes!

Stephanie said...

Wow. Everything you wrote. Wow.
I think my first crushes were Christopher Atkins (Blue Lagoon and The Pirate Movie) and then Kirk Cameron. Does that 1st crush really age me? LOL!

I totally am going to lift your lift of the hands! DHs grandma just turned 93 and still paints everyday! We have 10 of her painting on display in our home. :)

momy4him said...

i can soooo relate with spiritual warfare and the goings on in the church that ca make you turn away. i have felt for a long time that i am slipping away, every since i left my church, and have been trying to get back to the joy and the thirst for the word i once had, but i won't fill the comment section of your blog with my troubles...i am happy that you went back and that your spirit was refreshed!
my first tv crush? todd bridges. he played willis jackson in the tv show dif'rent strokes. as in whatchoo talkin' bout, willis?!!

Jen said...

So love that Derek Webb song and you just put a whole lot of things into perfect wording. Thank You :)
Good luck in the Ultimate Digital Scrapper Contest ;) There are some WONDERFUL entrants :)

alisa said...

Your post really prompted me to think about going back to churcj myself. It is something that I always want to do, but let other things get in the way. I really ned to make time for that in my life. Rivers loves church and I know that it would be helpful to Ashlea to as she gets older, so thanks! Our little plants are sprouting too! We have to check them every morning! I want to go get some more! these are the first plants I havent killed right away!

LeeAndra said...

I've had a similar experience with churches growing up. I was the most active youth in my v. small church growing up, but it was just never enough. Then I attended a fabulous college church with two of the most amazing pastors I've ever met, and it was never enough. Then I met DH, who'd attended a Christian HS and college, and waited for him to tutor me in all the Christianity I had missed out on growing up, and it was never enough.

It was never enough b/c while I was searching for anything and everything to fill that void, I wasn't searching for the Voidmaker.

Knowing that there is Someone who completely and utterly fills the void that threatens to overwhelm me sometimes is the one of the most comforting things I have ever experienced.

If only I thought to experience it more often.

love, me <><

Alyson said...

Whew. It took me 2 days to read that! :) But well, well worth it! I totally know what you mean about needing to be in church. Mike and I are back in our groove again, and it feels like taking a long cool drink of water, after decades of dehydration. I love all your LO's! Especially the one with Erick's guitar!

And I think mine was Ricky Schroeder, too. Although, do you remember that show Spencer? I thought he was pretty hot, too! :)

Delighted Mom said...

I love to read your post. When I started your blog I was reminded of the Screwtape letters by C.S. Lewis. The story is about an expert devil writing to his nephew. He is teaching him how to tempt and try us humans and how to keep them on his side. I think it is a must read for any christian.

It was refreshing to read what you said about excepting the church despite its imperfect people. I would hate people to judge my church based on some of my wrong doings in the past.

Projects are great and I think you have inspired a blog on all of the current projects I am into or starting. It just helps a women feel good.

Paper scrapping is actually not so hard...You can do it.

I am drawing a blank on the crush thing.