A New Church And An Answered Prayer

Recently something pretty big has happened in my life that I feel compelled to share with you. Something exciting, that I feel is deserving of a post all its’ own. 

My family has found a new church. And I absolutely love it. 

My parents and I have tossed around the idea of trying another church for a little while now, but have never actually made the move to do it. We all really liked our home church, but had a trouble connecting, and it was so small that it was often hard to make friends. But two weeks ago, we actually did it. We boarded my dad’s car and headed to a new church—ironically, one that was only a couple of miles away from the church that I grew up in.

Naturally on the way there I felt a typical mix of excitement and nervousness that comes with trying a new church. Will I like it? Will it be any good? Will the people there be nice? Thankfully, once we actually got there, all of my fears were dispelled.

Within a couple of minutes of being there, I could tell that this church was vibrant and alive. That this was a church filled with love, sincerity, and faith. 

It was also a church that was really diverse—something I’ve rarely seen in most local congregations. This church was filled with people of every race and age—all coming together for a common purpose and faith; something that I’ve always seen the ‘Church‘ as being, but that I was seeing for the first time in a literal church building.

Within only a few short moments, I witnessed friends laughing and talking amongst themselves, was greeted by a lot of really nice people, and saw young people actually participating in the service—many who were up on stage in the band during worship or greeting newcomers at the front door.

Oddly enough, I wasn’t an anomaly as a young person in church—I was the norm, surrounded by both people my age and people older and younger than me. In this church, I witnessed solid friendships between members—some, who seemed to have little in common on the surface aside from a common faith. I saw the beauty of what the church is, and has always been, displayed right before my eyes. And I nearly lost it.

For years, I’ve dreamed of being part of a church like this. A church that lived out the meaning of the word ‘church family‘, and where anyone was immediately welcomed in. Where it didn’t matter if you were young or old, and where everyone felt equally at home. Where I could learn, and grow, and belong—along with other believers who would support me in my walk and who I would support in theirs.

Finding this church was an answer to prayer, and as I sat through that service, I felt closer to God than I had in a while. It was like I felt Him right there in the building—revealing to me that this was exactly where I was supposed to be right now.

I’m going to be honest, this past two years have been rough—probably more so than I’ve let on in this blog. I’ve struggled with major changes in my life and moments of heavy loneliness and anxiety. And at times, it only seemed to worsen in public settings. There have obviously been good points in my life as well, but the last couple of years out of high school have by no means been easy for me. Deep down, I’ve longed for something stable—a place where I could actually plant down roots, and connect with other people my age. Something like my new church—and by extension, new college Bible study, which I tried last week and absolutely loved. Something like a church family. 

Through all of this, God has reminded me of His faithfulness and love for His children. I’ve also been reminded that even during the times when I’ve felt the most lonely, I’ve never been alone. God has always been there for me and He’s always had a plan for my life. I was simply in a season of life—one that I feel is coming to an close even as I type this.

If any of you reading this are in a similar season of life, take heart. Life has a way of getting easier, and God has a bigger plan for your life than you can see right now.

Keep holding on and keep pressing on in your faith.

Who knows? You might find an unexpected blessing just around the corner.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – James 1:17 

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Thirty Day Blogging Challenge #2: Day Three

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Day Three: Your Current relationship. If single, discuss being single. 

Note, this is not directed at my current church or any one particular church. I am very happy at my church and believe that there are many great and wonderful churches out there. Nonetheless, I have seen a growing problem within the Evangelical Christian sphere of ignoring or undermining single individuals and I believe it is an important issue to address. I do not claim to speak for every single Christian in the world—this is merely an observational piece based on my experiences over the years. 

Dear Church,

I am one of many like me. I’m young, college aged, and most importantly, Christian.

I’m also single—and you sort of don’t know what do with me.

I’m too old for your youth group, but I don’t fit your “ideal-adult-model”.

I’m a career-minded women who’s currently going to school to become a journalist. My goal is to obtain a Bachelors in Journalism and Master’s degree in Theology. I don’t have a significant other—just a bunch of “significant others” that I like to call friends. No, I’m not an overgrown “kidult”. No, I have no intention of sleeping around. No, I’m not greedy, or putting money ahead of what’s important in life. I’m just single—in the state of not being married, engaged, or in a relationship.

And, I think that worries you a little. Many of you would not consider me for a ministry position, even if I were a guy. An extremely high percentage of your messages are directed solely at married folks, as you talk about “How to have a happy marriage” or “How to raise Godly kids“. Oftentimes, the word “family” is used interchangeably with “Christian“, because it seems you believe all people with a ring are Christian and all people without a ring are far from God—as you buy into the world’s myth that singles are all hanging out at a bar somewhere hooking up.

I also sometimes get the impression that you’re more concerned about my future spouse than you are about me. I don’t want to believe this—I really don’t—but sometimes it’s hard not to get this impression. A truckload of devotionals that I read and flipped through during my teenage years focused heavily on how to develop into a good future wife, when I was still trying to figure out how to be a good present “me”.

The truth is, you’ve taught me a lot of important and vital lessons. You’ve taught me who God is and how to follow Him. You’ve taught me what the Bible says, and how to be faithful in reading it. You’ve taught me the importance of having regular quiet time with God. I’m thankful beyond measure for these things, and still utilize these lessons to this day.

I love The Church. I believe that it’s one of the best places to grow and learn with a family of believers. I love singing and praising God along with the worship band. I love listening to the pastor preach from the Word. I love partaking in communion along with fellow believers. The reason this is such a frustrating issue for me is because I love The Church—and because I want to see it do a a better job at ministering to all of it’s congregation.

I love you, and that’s why I’m telling you these things—so that you can learn how to better love others like me.

So many of us want and need you, but don’t know how to seek you out. We want to belong without feeling like we need a ring to be welcome. We want to learn what it means to be faithful in this season of life, even if it’s different than the season of life you’re most comfortable with. We want to talk and engage with our married peers, and learn about what it’s like for different people in different pockets of life.

We want community—and the family that Jesus told us you were.

I trust that you want what’s best for us. You want us to be happy—but you need to let us know that it’s OK to be happy where we are. I’ll never forget the first and last time I ever heard a pastor say that it’s OK to be single. I’ll never forget how unbelievably welcome that made me feel.

Our best life starts now, with Jesus. Not in the future. We’re a part of you, and we want you to know that we exist—that we’re standing beside you every Sunday.

So don’t forget to save us a seat at the table.

Forever sincerely,

Courtney

My Day In Selfies

Hey everyone, I was nominated a while back by Katie from Concealed Foundation—and I finally got around to posting this! Sorry for the delay, I’ve been trying to find a day interesting enough to actually record in photos!

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The Rules Are…
– Take a selfie every hour during one whole day of you going about your life.*
– It would be cool if you could show what you’re doing in the selfie as well as showing yourself. Feel free to include other people in your selfie too if you’re with others!
– Post all your selfies in a blog post so your followers can see what your day looks like. Feel free to include captions.
– Include the rules of the tag.
– Nominate some other bloggers to participate

So without further ado…the challenge! Sorry it’s so late Katie! 

 

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Today I woke up and got ready for an eventful day of volunteering in Sunday School at my church. I volunteer once a month and today was one of the days that I was signed up for.

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And here’s one of the photos here. At this point in the day I’m playing with two young children and listening to very redundant background music from one of the videos.😂 Today’s lesson was on Jonah and the whale and we made a lot of crafts involving the Bible story.

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And here I am at home about to eat lunch (Vegetarian chicken patties covered in spaghetti sauce). At this point in the day I’m recovering and pretty hungry.

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Still pretty tired, I decide to put on some TV. In the background, there’s my cat, a poster from the movie Grace Unplugged, and two inspirational wall decals.

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After spending some time watching TV and hanging out with my mom, I take on the challenge of organizing that messy closet I wrote about here. In case you’re wondering, it’s much better now. 😂👊👍

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Finally, I settled down to one of my favorite hobbies…writing! As you may be able to tell from the picture, I’m very tired now.

On a side note, I had a good reminder from an unlikely place today. The lesson for the Sunday school class was about trusting God, something that I needed to hear myself. Between college and stress about the future, I’ve kind of been panicking and trying to map out my whole life, wondering what it will all look like. The lesson ended up being a good reminder to trust God and not try to make everything work out myself.

Now, the new nominees for this challenge are…

Everyone reading this post! Yes, that means YOU! I’m looking forward to seeing all of your awesome selfie pics!  

*Confession, I do not have a selfie from every hour but I managed to record the highlights of my day. 

A Letter To Longtime Christians

Many of us can remember it.

The day that we first asked Jesus into our heart and prayed the prayer.

For me, it was at age eleven. At that point, I had been attending church for about two years. I started going to church later than most of my friends, but I was still young enough to only foggily remember life B.C. I read a Christian fiction book that mentioned accepting Jesus into your heart, and knew in that instant that I wanted to do that. A year later, I was baptized and began attending youth group for the first time.

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Flash forward two years later. 

It didn’t take long to catch onto the secret lingo of ‘Christian culture’. By freshman year, I knew all of the famous Christian figures (Tim Tebow, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyers, Chris Tomlin, Tim Hawkins, etc.). My favorite singer in middle school was Francesca Battistelli and my favorite movie was Soul Surfer. I knew all about purity rings and owned a Teen Study Bible.I took a Dave Ramsey financial class for teenagers in 8th grade and knew Christian apologetics before I even got to high school.

These are all good things. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to know God from a young age. But, sometimes, when you’ve been in church for years, it can be so easy to forget the meaning of it all. It’s possible to know all of the right things, and in the midst of it, forget all about the meaning of our faith: The fact that Jesus died on a cross to save us from our sins. 

Somehow, in the midst of our busy lives and our growing familiarity with the cross, grace becomes just another word; a word to use if we want to sound churchy. We can rattle off about twenty songs with the word in the title, but entirely loose the significance of the word in the process. We hear people talk about grace in the context of a reckless lifestyle and wonder how it applies to us, who have been faithful church attendees since we were children.

The truth is, no matter what our story, we’re all in need of a Savior. In the Kingdom of God, there is no one who is better or worse,  just humans in need of God’s grace and forgiveness. As basic a truth as this is, it can be so easy to forget. It can be easy to get so caught up in being a Christian that we forget Christ. I’m guilty of this myself. But, grace is is a truth that humbles and lifts us up. It replaces works, yet calls us to action. Let us never forget the wonder of the cross.

Let us never forget that Jesus loved us so much that He shed blood for us, that we might all get to spend eternity with Him. 

P.S. My mom recently started a blog at savedbygrace2009.wordpress.com. Be sure to check it out! 😊