Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Day 8 - more blessings, more changes.

This is Day 8 of my 31 days of writing series called "Confessions of a Road Kill Christian" If you haven't read Day 1 you can click here first. I am linking up with #write31days. I hope you will stick around for the whole thing... while the message of one post might feel incomplete my hope is that by the end we'll be encouraged by who God is and who He says we are to Him. I've been sharing my story this week. You can read the story of when Daniel and I met here. 


Daniel and I were doing ministry together. We had really good friends, we were getting along better than ever. Daniel was the most filled with the Holy Spirit as I'd ever known him.  He had been nominated to join the eldership team at church and was going through the process to become an elder. I was moving in ministry alongside him, making sure that my work at church and my focus was complimenting his work and his ministry. I found a fantastic Ladies Bible study and was jumping into my first study by Beth Moore. Daniel and I were in our sweet spot.

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Not that we didn't have hard times. We would have fights and I would sense that the person I was fighting was not my husband. Sometimes that meant I would dig in and say the same thing over and over until he heard me. Other times that meant I would let it go and wait for him to come back once the air had cleared. Things weren't perfect but they were really good.

my girls

Daniel had started reading about the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the charismatic movement. We had run into our first Reformed Charismatic ministry while we were living in Montana and Daniel wanted to know more. I remember this one conversation in particular. I said "I noticed all of the books that you're reading and all of these sermons on the Holy Spirit that you are listening to. Please don't talk to me about this. Ever." 

I had grown up in a Reformed Baptist church- that means really conservative fundamentalist Calvanist. We didn't raise our hands, or lay hands on people for them to be healed. We didn't particularly believe in angels or deamons in present-day action. We believed in the Bible and doctrine. We read our Bibles and prayed for doctors to have wisdom. We stood in rows and sang strait out of the hymnal. The church Daniel and I were currently attending was part of the PCA denomination and I was very comfortable.  So yeah, I was not interested in being converted into a charismatic, not at all. 

A couple of weeks later I said "Okay, why don't you at least tell me what you're reading about" and instead he said "why don't you just read this book and tell me what you think?" It was "Surprised by the Power of the Spirit" by Jack Deere. I read it in one day. I remember the moment I closed the book, sitting on my front porch, listening to the rain, with my Bible open and my heart crying out to God asking him to help me understand what I was reading and realized. This has to be true! 

During this time my walk with God took off. I was hearing from God on an almost daily basis. I would sit and talk to God in my heart. He was close. He was clear. He was teaching me how much he loved me. He was teaching me that his love for me was more passionate and more jealous than I had ever even thought was possible. Reading my Bible was becoming a conversation with God -  I was finding the strategies for getting quiet time every day and God was moving in those quiet moments.

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On the night that I went into labor with Katie-Abigail my husband met with our pastor and told him we were leaving the church. They wouldn't allow him to teach or minister from a charismatic position and he couldn't be silent about something he now saw so clearly as being taught in the scriptures. We obviously needed to be in a place where we could learn hands-on what it meant to be spirit-filled and yet stay grounded in the Word. 

Looking back, I'm a little bit sad that we made that decision. We never found another church community like that. We had close friends and an amazing support group and we just walked away from all of it over one point of doctrine. Granted, that one point is hugely controversial in conservative churches and I can not imagine myself not being allowed to lift my hands in worship, but maybe the church would have moved that way over the next ten years. I don't know. It was what we thought was best. We wanted to be in a place where we were learning about the ministry of the Holy Spirit and we weren't getting that at our church, so we moved on. 

We visited some churches, sometimes regularly, where we received powerful prophetic ministry.  A lot of those moments have stayed with me through the years and shaped how I think of myself. One in particular was hard to understand at the moment, but it made more sense in the years that followed - the vision was this: I was walking across a bridge, through a chasm. Suddenly the bridge fell apart but I didn't fall. I was holding a rope that went to Heaven, and when you looked closer the rope was holding onto me too. And a word came from heaven saying "I will not let you go". I remember in that moment thinking that was weird. But now, it is a comforting thought that reminds me that God has been preparing me for this journey from the very beginning. 

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So we started the process of trying to find a church home. It was exhausting spiritually, during a physically exhausting period of our lives. It felt like wandering around in the desert, like the Iseraelites trying to get to the Promised Land. 

Thankfully Daniel's employment had settled down and he kept the same job until the recession hit.

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During this period of transitioning and trying to find a new church home Daniel was called twice to come pastor of a small Southern Baptist church in a nearby town. Twice at the end of the process he was voted out. Both times were heartbreaking, the second time was especially devastating.

Katie-Abigail & Mommy October '05


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For the next few months after that we just went to the nearest mega church, with broken hearts and empty hands. I learned a lot during that period. They were sort-of spirit filled and pretty much Bible-based (but maybe in more of a mass-market kind of way.)  it was a place where I could worship freely, without pressure to conform to anyone's ideas of what engaged worship looked like, and we were being fed. Daniel was quickly recognized as someone who could be counted on to sub for the Sunday School teacher and we plugged into our small group right away.


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This perfectly sums up how I was feeling. This is how I spent every morning, exhausted from a night up with a fussy baby and my early riser. Three kids four and under was massively overwhelming.  Daniel and I were starting to feel the effects of isolation. Our marriage started to struggle again and this time I just gave up. I had spent so much of our married life studying the minutia of our marriage, trying to figure out what we were doing wrong or what we could do to make it better and then fighting with Daniel trying to get him to see my point of view and attempt to do XY&Z that I had decided would improve our relationship. I figured, once we got settled into a church home our marriage would improve. I thought my opinion about what was wrong with our marriage didn't matter. Mostly though, I was just tired. I was exhausted by life and didn't have any extra fight in me to fight loosing the same battles over and over.

Looking back, I think that this was a mistake. I think I should have kept fighting for our marriage, even though I didn't see immediate results, even though I knew the thing we needed the most was a church home and mutual friends. I should have kept on initiating those conversations... because once you have given up fighting for your marriage it is a hard rut to get out of.

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One night, we were driving to visit family, it was Christmas Eve and Daniel told me we would start looking to own a house on the north side of Atlanta, near a church we had visited (and I had loved) starting in the new year. I didn't agree with his method of making that decision but because I liked the decision I said "great!"

This move would be the beginning of the end for us... but you'll have to read about it tomorrow.

5 comments:

  1. What a beautiful family you have! Love your words and I am looking forward your next post!!

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  2. You have definitely made me curious, although I am glad to see that your profile picture of your beautiful family. By the way I used to live in Woodstock, just south of ATL.

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  3. Our stories have so much in common! I love following your story and I love the title of your blog. My husband and I have been through some tough church moments and certainly can relate to being road kill! In the end it was us three (him, me and the Holy Spirit), not the church that our marriage was saved.

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  4. Please, please don't miss a day of writing. I am into this story and praying for your husband and your family!
    Sharon
    http://idaretobehappy.com/2014/10/04/welcome-to-31-days-of-dare-to-pray/

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  5. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I'm enjoying following along! Trusting God to continue to show His faithfulness to you!

    Stopping by from the 31 days link up: beckyshappytable.com

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