Friday, June 26, 2015

Our church hopping history

When I moved to Connecticut I was not yet a Christian.  I believed in a Creator so when my husband wanted to go to church, I agreed because I wanted to meet new people.  I attended a bible study for young adults and met lots of amazing folks!  There was something so normal and genuine about them.  They were not phony or pushy; they just loved Jesus and talked about a personal relationship with God.  I asked TONS of questions and came to my own faith in Jesus in August of 2000.  My 15 year anniversary is coming up!!!  Since then we’ve done a bit of church hopping and it’s neat to see how God has used those churches and the wonderful people there to help me grow.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 SWITCH church #1 to church #2 in Spring 2002
My first official church was big and we ended up leaving after 2 years to go to a smaller more intimate church with our best friends.  We loved the small church vibe and the people became like family to us, which was important since my whole family is in Canada and half of Jay's is too.  We grew so much while there in our knowledge of God, the bible and how we should care for one another.  The ladies at that church showed me what serving our family looked like and were wonderful examples of how to love like Christ.  They were there when I had my first two children and the support they gave me was like no other!

6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 SWITCH back to church #1 in the beginning of 2008
After having two kids, I missed the programs that church #1 offered.  We were the only young family at church #2 and as anyone with young kids knows, it can be an isolating time raising babies at home alone all day long!  I needed more connection with people my age in the same place of life as me.  So after much praying and talking we returned to church #1.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 SWITCH to church #3 in Summer 2010
I quickly got connected in things like a weekly women’s bible study, a monthly moms group, the church nursery, Sunday School, a cardmaking group and even started a new ministry for military moms.  Vienna and Lance attended the preschool and we stayed very busy!  Then I got pregnant with Colin.  We wanted a bigger home and we found one 30 minutes away from church.  We commuted but it became too much with three kids ages five and under!  We decided to try a church in our neck of the woods.  We picked one that Jay’s coworker attended and loved, plus it was 6 minutes from our house!   We visited and enjoyed it, becoming good friends with the pastor and his wife. 

6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 SWITCH to church #1 in Summer 2011
While attending this new church, I remained very involved at church #1 in all the things I mentioned above.  I was busy and didn't make time to connect with the people, nor was it easy.  Some lived 30 minutes away and weren't in our area.  The women who had kids my kids' ages homeschooled {which I didn't start til 2012}, and I wasn't able to get together with them much.  So after having a foot in each church for a year, we decided to return to church #1 yet again!  Sadly Jay’s schedule didn’t allow him to plug in the way he had been hoping and we figured if the programs were worth commuting for, then so was Sunday morning.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 SWITCH back to church #3 in January 2015 - what?!
From the title here, you see where this is going.  We went back to church #1 again but slowly over four years, God took all the things I was involved in off my plate... While we were attending church #3, the Military Moms Ministry fizzled to an end after three years because there was no one to help me lead it – darn military moves!  I wasn’t able to continue with the cardmaking group because Jay’s schedule was unpredictable and I couldn’t give the ladies a 100% commitment, plus it was a 30 minutes drive in the evening {dark through the winter} and I was often too tired by the end of the day!  Then I started to homeschool and the women’s bible study didn’t have childcare for older kids so I stopped attending that.  Colin attended the preschool when he was three but after I had a hard year homeschooling when I was gone two mornings a week, I knew that the 3-day program was out of the question.  In the summer of 2014, I found myself uninvolved in ANYTHING at the church aside from the monthly commitment in the nursery.  Jay’s schedule continued to be busy and we didn’t prioritize getting to church every Sunday.  There was no accountability because the church is so large and has three services.  Without being plugged into a smaller group, we were lost.  It was clear that doors were closing and our hearts were being prepared for something else.

I started to feel a strong urge to connect with more local people.  By Christmas, Jay and I decided to visit church #3 again.  My mother-in-law was here visiting so she watched the kids and off we went.  As soon as we walked through the doors we saw many familiar faces and heard many warm greetings.  My friend was surprised to see us and that made me smile.  I sat down in the pew and to my left was a homeschooling family I came to know through a co-op.  To Jay’s right sat his ex-coworker who was highly respected – and Jay had no idea he went to that church!  Then a 98 year old man got up to recite poetry and play his harmonica.  I looked at Jay who was beaming.  He loves old people and the harmonica!  I knew Jay was happy, and I knew this was where God wanted us.

Bringing the kids
We brought the kids the following week and the boys were thrilled because they knew some of the kids.   I was most worried about Vienna because there are TONS of younger boys but not as many girls her age.  Thankfully, last month my little introvert told me that she is happy to be at this church because it’s smaller.  This made me so happy because I prayed for her 10 year old heart to not ache for her friends!  {It also really helped that they attended VBS for the past three summers and were all comfortable with the building and some of the people!}

Fast forward 6 months and things have been going so well!!  We were put into a small group that meets once a month for dinner and were able to reconnect with people.  We've attended book clubs, birthday parties and a recent event with missionaries that included a hymn sign and potluck.   We have VBS coming up where I'm teaching for the first time!  And there are many other things coming up this Fall that I'm excited about.  It's wonderful to have so many events to attend when you don’t have family around!!  Oh and the teaching!  haha!  It's a wonderful bible teaching church!!!  That's KEY too!

What I've learned
God's timing in perfect.  He has us in a place for a certain season or for a reason and although we may not always be able to make sense of it, there is work being done.  In hindsight, I can see how my heart has been prepared along the way and how clearly God has directed our footsteps.  I am just so thankful that no matter what church we're at, we are worshipping God together and learning what His word says from intelligent and wise people!  I am just so thankful to Him for his faithfulness and love and using His people to reach my heart.  I have been so encouraged lately!

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