Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson Review

desperate bookDesperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe.  Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson.  Thomas Nelson, January 18, 2013.  240 pages.

I read this book last year when it was published.  But somehow the review did not get published.

Desperate. 

I’ve been there.  Soul-weary desperation.  Drowning.  Not wanting to answer one more question.   Gather another dirty towel.  Survive a day of tedious motherhood.  That very moment is when this momma has a coming to Jesus moment.

I’m not alone.

Sarah Mae spills her heart in her book written with Sally Clarkson.  Sarah is a young momma.  Sally is a momma with older children.  Titus 2 comes to life in the modern world.  Real mommas with 21st century problems.

3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Titus 2:3-5 KJV

I loved the format of this book.  One momma to another.  The younger questioning, how do I survive another day.  The older momma responding with hope and encouragement.  I felt like I was joining a conversation, not reading a book.

What I learned from this book was to lean into my Savior.  Find a mentor in one who is where I am going.  Be a mentor to those who are where I have been.  Desperation does not mean defeat.  For in the moments of quiet desperation our Heavenly Father works.

Written for:  The mom overwhelmed by the task of mothering.

Why I like this Book:  I love the simple honesty of Sarah Mae.  This is not a "supermom."  She is a momma doing the best she can.  Sally is the type of mentor I would love to one day have in my life.  Ultimately this book is one filled with hope and encouragement.

Do I Recommend: Yes. 

Publisher Synopsis

Desperate is for those who love their children to the depths of their souls but who have also curled up under their covers, fighting back tears, and begging God for help. It’s for those who have ever wondered what happened to all their ideals for what having children would be like. For those who have ever felt like all the "experts" have clearly never had a child like theirs. For those who have prayed for a mentor. For those who ever felt lost and alone in motherhood.

In Desperate you will find the story of one young mother’s honest account of the desperate feelings experienced in motherhood and one experienced mentor’s realistic and gentle exhortations that were forged in the trenches of raising her own four children.
Whether you are a first time mom, or an experienced mom, Desperate will inspire you to be a part of the ultimate goal of the book, to be a part of the no-more-desperate-moms movement. 
Included in the Book:

  • QR codes and links at the end of each chapter that lead to videos with Sarah Mae and Sally talking about the chapter
  • Practical steps to take during the desperate times
  • Bible study and journal exercises in each chapter that will lead you to identify ways in which you can grow as a mom
  • Mentoring advice for real-life situations
  • Q & A section with Sally where she answers readers questions

More info at DesperateMom.com.

About the Authors

sallycSally Clarkson is the mother of four wholehearted children, a popular conference speaker, and the author of numerous books and articles on Christian motherhood and parenting, including The Mission of Motherhood, The Ministry of Motherhood, Seasons of a Mother’s Heart, The Mom Walk, Dancing with My Father, and Educating the WholeHearted Child (contributor). After graduating from Texas Tech University with a degree in Speech/English, Sally joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ in 1975, and ministered to women in Communist Poland 1977-1980. Since her marriage to Clay in 1981, she has continued to minister to women and mothers worldwide. In 1994, she and Clay started Whole Heart Ministries to encourage and equip Christian parents to raise wholehearted Christian children. They write and publish books through Whole Heart Press, offer hotel and church-based parenting and motherhood events, and minister online through blogs, email newsletters, and their ministry website (wholeheart.org). Since 1998, Sally has ministered to thousands of mothers through her WholeHearted Mother Conferences. She has spoken across the U.S., and on four continents. The Clarksons live in Monument, Colorado and have home educated all of their children from the beginning. Sally loves family, reading, music, bread-baking, traveling, and long walks.

Discipleship is the heartbeat of Sally’s life, whether it is in teaching and motivating other women, or in training and instructing her children. Through her books and speaking ministries, God has used Sally to bring encouragement and inspiration to mothers who desire to follow God’s biblical design for their lives. All of her messages are filled with stimulating biblical instruction, touching personal anecdotes and illustrations, and wise spiritual insights born out of her own experience in life and ministry.

sarahmaeSarah Mae (sarahmae.com), listed as one of The Christian Broadcasting Networks Six Women Leaders to Follow on Twitter, is an influential Christian blogger, conference host, and author of the bestselling eBook 31 Days to Clean.

Because of her drive to inspire women to hold fast to biblical ideals, Sarah Mae has established herself as a social media expert by cultivating blogs and websites that have impacted thousands of women all over the world. She is a self-made popular mom blogger, (establishing four national blogs with a rapidly growing audience of 100,000 followers a month), the founder and co-host of the Allume conference, a national Christian women’s blogging conference that has sold out first its first and second year, and a contributing writer to DaySpring, (a division of Hallmark).

She has also been featured on Good Morning America as an example of someone who has found success at generating an income as a stay-at-home mom.

Sarah Mae makes her home in the beautiful Amish country of Pennsylvania where she celebrates life with her husband and three children.

You can find her at her personal blog sarahmae.com, on Facebook at /sarahmaewrites, and on Twitter @sarahmae.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

I received a copy of this e-book for review purposes through BookLook Bloggers. This fair and honest review contains my own opinions and do not reflect the views of the author, publisher or any other third-party.  I have received no other compensation for this review.  This is disclosed in accordance with FTC guidelines.

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Girl at the End of the World Review

The-Girl-at-the-End-of-the-WorldGirl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future.  Elizabeth Esther.  Convergent Books, March 18, 2014.  224 pages.

I love to review books.  Occasionally a book will arrive that hits me right in the core of my heart.  When I first received an invitation to read this book I JUMPED at the chance!  Just reading the 1st Chapter told me that Elizabeth was a kindred sister.  You see, I too grew up in a fundamentalist, Pentecostal church.  I suffered emotional scars from my childhood that I’ve been working through.  Church.  The one place that should be safe was not safe for me.

How we differ is that her story makes mine look like a trip to Disneyland.  I wasn’t a PK kid.  I didn’t preach on the streets.  In fact, we judged that very thing as too "religious".  As her story unfolded I found myself feeling emotions that have long been dormant.  My Kindle highlights made the pages seem like a rainbow game.

Her story is a serious one.  Filled with abuse, cultish personality and a touch of sarcasm and wit.  Which I love.  A lot.

I was raised in a homegrown, fundamentalist Christian group-which is just a shorthand way of saying I’m classically trained in apocalypse stockpiling, street preaching, and the King James Version of the Bible. I know hundreds of obscure nineteenth-century hymns by heart and have such razor-sharp "modesty vision" that I can spot a miniskirt a mile away.   Verily, verily I say unto thee, none of these highly specialized skills ever got me a job, but at least I’m all set for the End of the World. Selah.

Like all religious organizations, "The Assembly" started off with grand ideas.  Even heaven-worthy ones.  But as her grandfather gained more power and more following, things changed.  Elizabeth describes it SO well.  So much like I had experienced.

As with most revolutions, the idealistic dream that had initially ignited our little band of born-again Christians gradually hardened into a rigid lifestyle. Ironically, by the mideighties, we had morphed to become nearly indistinguishable from the legalistic, organized religion we’d rejected in the first place.

The chapter about modesty…seriously.  I was laughing. Crying.  Raging.  It’s SO true.  I have lived that very scene too many times to tell.  It’s very eye-opening.

The only thing that PERSONALLY bugged ME…I understand she found peace and solace in Catholicism.  However, praying to Mary…I just cannot go there.  It’s NOT in the Bible.  I’m glad it works for her and she found a kindred soul…spirit…in the "Mother of God"…but it’s not for me.  That’s the only part of the book that I just couldn’t get into.

Overall.  A fantastic read by an incredibly honest and brave momma!  READ IT!

Written for:  The adult wounded as a child by a religious upbringing with a cultish personality. 

Why I like this Book:  Let me count the ways!  Honest.  Raw.  Witty.  Eye-opening.  Easy-to-read.

Do I Recommend: ABSOLUTELY.  I have already told several friends about it.

Publisher Synopsis

A dazzling memoir of a girl growing up in a fundamentalist sect, what it cost her to escape, and why Evangelical megachurches feel so disconcertingly familiar to her.

Elizabeth Esther grew up as the eldest and clearly favored granddaughter of the founder of a wacky, family-run sect of Jesus People. Enfolded in its xenophobic subculture, constantly prepped for the apocalypse, she was cut off from most contact with the larger world. At the hands of the faithful, she suffered physical abuse and nearly the loss of her faith. But perhaps the greatest loss was of her own sense of self: she was trained as a toddler to "disappear" for hours; as a teen, to confess sins real and imagined to her prying, autocratic grandmother; as a young wife, to serve and blindly obey her husband. She arrived in adulthood convinced that no one-God included-could know or love a woman who "wasn’t even there." Realizing she had nothing to lose, Elizabeth did the unthinkable: she left church…and began the arduous journey toward authentic faith. Her story is by turns frightening, hilarious, heart-breaking, and inspiring. Ultimately, her message will be received as a cautionary tale for believers in Evangelical churches-especially those that depend on a cult of personality to pull in crowds and dollars.

About the Author

ELIZABETH ESTHER is a blogger who was raised in Southern California inside a strict fundamentalist church from which she fled with her husband and children. In 2006, Elizabeth began writing a blog to document her family life. Soon, she was writing about her faith journey. She and her husband, Matthew, live with their five children in Santa Anna, California.

This post contains Amazon.com affiliate links.  Walking With Shiloh is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

I received a copy of this book for review purposes through the Blogging for Books program. This fair and honest review contains my own opinions and do not reflect the views of the author, publisher or any other third-party.  I have received no other compensation for this review.  This is disclosed in accordance with FTC guidelines.

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The Skunk VS. Tippi

Well, it’s been a good thing I’ve been feeling so alive.  Because after last night I feel…well…rather skunky.

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It started as a pretty innocent night.  I had just returned from a FABULOUS bible study with my mother-in-law.  I was exhausted and ready to settle in for the night.  Typically I spend about a half-hour reading before I complete my spinal support exercises.  This night…sleep would evade me.

About 10:30 my husband called the little black & white thing down for her last trip outside.  We spent the day finishing the creation of flower beds in our backyard.  (LOOKS fabulous!)  I had a few unplanted plants and the husband did not want the dog eating them.  (She likes plants.  Weird dog.)  So he took her out to the side yard.  He counted to thirty and called her back.  As she sprinted past him and she was almost to the laundry room door, the aroma hit him full force.

Tippi had met the "friendly" neighborhood skunk.  It was a meeting that NONE of us will forget anytime soon.

So now the dog is running up the stairs with the husband running quickly behind SCREAMING.  I think that she’s either throwing up or peeing on the carpet.  AGAIN.  As soon as I open the door I see the dog scrambling and Calvin herding her with a big stick.

Then I smell it.  Instantaneously my eyes are burning. I can’t even breathe.  I cover my nose and mouth so that I won’t become nauseous.  It’s like the worst smell you can even imagine.  He managed to get her downstairs and out the back door. 

The kids shut their doors and I go into working mode.  We’ve been here before.

THREE times.

I swear we must have this big neon sign that says, "Skunks welcome."  Or YHWH has this funny sense of humor and is trying to tell us something.  Probably like, don’t let a skunked dog inside.  I know there’s a message there somewhere…

Immediately I throw open all the windows.  We begin a dance of figuring out which ones to shut at random times.  Our friend is clearly not interesting in leaving the property.  The smell moves to the kitchen…dining room…living room windows. 

In the meantime the smell inside is KILLING us! I’m not sure what we are going to do.  Last time this happened we had to move out for a week.

I quickly begin googling "How to remove skunk smell from my house."  Peroxide. Baking Soda.  Wash the dog.  I feel like a fly trapped in a web.  I need to clean the dog.  But she stinks.  Unbearable.  I can’t figure out what to do first.  The stuff I need is outside.  Where the skunk is.  Fantastic.

And OF COURSE it’s now past the time that the pet store is open.  I’m pretty much stuck with a stinky dog and a stinky house held hostage by a black & white puff ball.

We finally decide we HAVE to wash the dog.  She’s drooling.  Shaking.  The rain has began to pour.  I shake my finger at the sky, "Uh you think you could hold the liquid stuff for a second?"

Gabby and I are designated the clean-up crew.  We choose clothes we don’t mind being ruined. We don vinyl gloves and medical masks.   The only problem is that the hose is in the front.  And it’s cold.  And this dog only weighs 20 pounds.  And there’s NO WAY we are bringing her BACK into the house. 

The husband comes to the rescue.  He holds the hose underneath the bathroom faucet.  We create a potion of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish detergent.  Gabby wants to throw in peppermint oil.  I tell her no.  Time for a fast chemistry lesson.  Now comes the fun part.  Catching the dog and avoiding the skunk who has hunkered down in the corner of the yard. 

This is a humbled and compliant Tippi.  And she stinks. It’s real fun dragging a wet, muddy, skunky dog with rain drizzling down your back…trying to avoid vomiting all over the place.  These are the moments that being the mom just plain SUCKS!

I find myself feeling sorry for her while wanting to throttle her!  After about 5 minutes I think she’s done enough to spend the night in the garage.  We wrap her in 4 towels and a blanket and place her in her crate.  We use a not-going-to-be-used-again quilt over to keep her warm.  She whimpers.  I shut off the light and face the music inside.

By this time the smell has risen to the stale areas of the house.  The loft area REEKS.  It’s apparent that she rubbed herself on the carpet trying to get the stuff off her nose.  We contemplate ripping all the carpets out.  (They need to come out anyway). 

I whine.  I don’t have time for this.  I have a field trip planned for the next day.  Chiropractic appointment.  Plans to make and plans to keep. Spending a day washing skunk odor out of everything we own.  Not in the plans.

We manage to fall into bed about 12:45.  Exhausted.  And unable to smell anything but a faint burning, rubbery pungent smell.

I tell myself, "I plan. God laughs."  Not very comforting. 

Mercifully sleep arrives.

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Hip Homeschool Moms: Happy Birthday Beverly Cleary

Happy Birthday Beverly Cleary!

One of my favorite authors growing up was Beverly Cleary.  I devoured the stories about Ramona and Beezus, Henry Huggins and his dog, Ribsy.  I remember how funny I thought the name Klickitat street was.  I never imagined that one day I’d live in the town that inspired those stories.  That I’d be taking my children to see the places!

On Hip Homeschool Moms today I shared the places that make up a Beverly Cleary tour. Next time you are in Portland let me know…I’ll gladly be your tour guide!

Read the entire post on Hip Homeschool Moms.

Your time to share:  What is your favorite Beverly Cleary book?

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I’m Alive Part II

One thing I found myself doing yesterday was texting.  In church.  (I feel like I need to go to confession or something!).  I sent my friend Jules a text.

T: I’m in church.

J: Where?

T:  Church

J: Do you like it? I’ve seen it.

T:  It’s a mega church (which means to me ~ there’s more than 25 people)

T:  But they talk about serving.

T:  I’m so confused…

J:  Know the feeling.

J: I feel like my world has been shaken

As I sat there listening to the message years of ideas, thoughts…my whole identity came crashing down.  I literally sat there confused.

Now, I KNOW this is probably quite confusing to some readers.  I have a strong foundation in my belief.  But it was inward-focused.  Not every church in the “group” was this way. I just happened to grow up in a small, abusive, controlling assembly.  Coupled with my father’s own impressions of the world, I grew up believing that anyone outside “The Body” was lost.  We were a small group of people.  Earmarked to bring in the early rain.  I never questioned that teaching.  Until I found myself outside of “The Body”.

While most of my friends (not associated with the church I left) believed they belonged to the Kingdom at large, I felt lost.  After all.  I left THE BODY.  I lost my vision.  I was now lost.  And greater Christendom at large was just not an option.

Proverbs 16:18 comes to mind.  Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. (KJV).  My fall was about to come.  But it would not be my destruction, but a gently submission into the arms of my savior.

Within seconds Jules was on her way and I was falling apart.  Isn’t HE amazing?  Just as communion ended I walked outside the auditorium.  I waited for Jules by the coffee spot. I saw someone I know through Facebook and smiled.  I know that she and I will become friends.  I can tell.  So I ordered a tea.  And before I could sit down Jules was there.

Jules is not only my friend…she is my sister.   When I moved to Portland at age 16 I lived with her family.  Although I wouldn’t allow them to legally adopt me, they became my adopted family.  A mom.  A dad.  And the big sister I always wanted.  We are in some ways complete polar opposites, but in one way we are alike: we both left the church and lost our identities.

You see, we grew up as “body brats”.  The ones who were always doing what we were supposed to.  Dressed right.  Prayed.  Testified.  Served on crews.  We both were the Coffee Queens.  So, here we were.  2 moms who thought they would never see adulthood because the world was going to end in 80s…90s.  Sitting in the auditorium of a place we were taught to never visit.  To worship.  To blend our voices.

Yep.  We make plans.  God laughs.

And right there I realized why I was there.  Because I needed to know BEYOND all shadow of a doubt that my savior can be found ANYWHERE.  Yes, truth is good.  Having the spirit dwelling is good.  But how long have I allowed my quest for being “RIGHTEOUS” to keep me from seeing the entire Kingdom?

I had already made plans with another friend to meet at this amazing coffee shop called Insomnia. (If you’re in the area, contact me and we’ll go visit.) so our talk was quick.  We made plans to homeschool together the next day.

When I arrived at Insomnia I know that the Lord had already gone before me.  Our conversation was so rich.  Full of hope.  Encouragement.  I left feeling connected.  No longer alone.  Walking the path I was made to walk.  Seeing just a little more clearly.

The husband surprised me.  We’re going on a date. To Olive Garden (Ok…this is NOT in my eating plan.).  To talk.  A much needed talk.  And just as my friend and I had talked about earlier, steps that we needed to make…he surprised me again.  In FACT the very thing that she and I stated would have to happen…are the very things he said to me!  It’s as if he listened to our conversation.

By this point, I am literally coming out of my skin.  I can’t believe how clearly I’m seeing…feeling…breathing in the beauty around me.

The husband looks at me and makes a cute statement.  “You’re finally awake.”  I giggle.  Ya, whatever dude.

So then my dearest friend messages me.  How’d it go.  And I started to tell her.  And the words just flowed from my fingertips.  It was if a dam had broken lose and I no longer could contain the water inside.

Yep. And a 33 year affair with doctrine ended today. I sat there and realized that I don’t know it all. And that’s ok. I’ve missed the point. Entirely. Even if how I see Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit is different…after our conversation this week…I recognize that I miss the entire point.

…even IF I only believe ONE GOD….period…I cannot deny who Jesus is/was AND…the Spirit is MUCH more than I ever believed. Whether it be an entity or life force…or comforter…or whatever…I felt IT today. And through it I felt my connection with Jesus…and in that stillness he says, “Have you met my Father?”

And my whole world fell apart…

I feel shell-shocked. But strangely freed in a way…

You see, I never knew Jesus.  Not until I was 36.  I didn’t KNOW him.  And when I realized I cried for a week.  But God.  YHWH.  The Lord God of Israel.  The Father.  I haven’t known him.

Because somewhere along my journey I believed that he wasn’t pleased with me.  And I would never please him.  And the day I believed that lie.  I died.

but I feel like that piece of me…the piece that I’ve kept hidden for most of my entire life because of what MEN have told me to be, do, think…it’s awoke. With a vengeance…and I can’t keep it quiet one second longer. And all I can think of is Jesus smiling and saying, “Welcome to the Real World”.

Suddenly it doesn’t matter if Adam & Eve were real or an allegory…when or where…or how. BECAUSE today I realized for the first time that I AM like Adam…I’ve hidden for so many years. Because I was afraid.

And as we went back and forth talking about joy and men and the way we found ourself in this mess I heard this word.

ALIVE

I’m alive.  The realization has shocked me.  Changed me.  I cannot explain to you how I feel.  It’s like walking through a whole new world.  The irritating things that drive me nuts.  The dog misbehaving.  Kids forgetting to wash the bowl.  Myself reacting with the usual irritability.

I’m alive.  I keep telling myself.  I’m alive.  It’s ok that life bugs me.  Because guess what world?  I’m no longer in a fog.  I’m alive and well!

And because I love Kenny Chesney…I have to share the song I’ve’ been humming to myself today.

I’m alive and well! I’m alive!

[Chesney]
So damn easy to say that life’s so hard
Everybody’s got their share of battle scars
As for me, I’d like to thank my lucky stars that I’m alive and well…
It’d be easy to add up all the pain
And all the dreams you sat and watched go up in flames
Dwell on the wreckage as it smolders in the rain
But not me…I’m alive

[Chorus]
And today you know that’s good enough for me
Breathin’ in and out’s a blessing can’t you see
Today’s the first day of the rest of my life and I’m alive
And well…I’m alive and well

[Dave Matthews]
The stars are dancin’ on the water here tonight
It’s gonna fall a soul when there’s not a soul in sight
This boat has caught its wind and brought me back to life now I’m alive and well

Writer(s): Mark Tamburino, Kenneth Chesney, Dean Dillon
Copyright: Basuare Music, Sony/ATV Acuff Rose Music, Sixteen Stars Music

To conclude.  Sorry this was SOOO long.  But thank you.  To everyone who played their part.  Deeply. Truly.  THANK YOU.

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I’m Alive Part I

Sorry…this is a long one today.

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It’s funny how a day can go COMPLETELY different than first planned.  I woke up with all intentions of working.  Getting meal plans finished.  Lesson plans typed up.  Chicken coop cleaned. (6 birds is WAY more work than 3!).  But that did not happen.  Why?  Because sometimes YHWH has better plans than I can possibly dream up.

It’s been an interesting week.  Started with an amazing conversation with a friend.  Opened my eyes.  Challenged my thinking.  Unnerved me…in a good way.

Then a small simple conversation with the husband.  I want to sing “OCEANS” with others.  “Can you imagine”, I say, “singing…with others…deeply feeling every note…every syllable?”  I’m not sure he understands me. I’m not sure I understand me.

Weekend arrived. Things are not as they should be.  Words that shouldn’t be said are said.  The effects of a lower dosage swing at full force.  My ability to control the gulf between my brain and my mouth is seriously damaged. We attend what should be a time of prayer and fellowship.  I’m crying. He’s seething.  And though my heart is pricked for my words and my actions…it just doesn’t help things much. Luckily I’m a little smarter than I give myself credit.  I choose to not push the buttons and keep my tongue in control.  (A feat right now that is as impressive as the parting of the Red Sea).

A book I’m anxiously awaiting to read arrives.  Memoir of a girl raised in a fundamentalist, end-times-embracing church.  Funny.  Witty.  Raw.  Honest. I stay up half the night reading.  Relating.  Wanting to cry.  Wanting to laugh.  Relating in so many ways I wish I didn’t relate.  I don’t even know how to write the review.  I fall asleep thinking about the book.

Morning arrives and I’m now the one seething.  Somewhere between the last words of the pages and this morning I became angry.  I’m tired of doing nothing.  Being alone.  Feeling like my faith is just cheap words on a screen…or my own journal.  In desperation I make a decision.  One I did NOT expect to make.

I’m going to church.

A church where I’ve never been.  A place where I know one person, and that’s a surface know.  I’m going to walk into a building where they play “rock” music, wear pants (and apparently gym clothes) and raise their hands, coffee cup in hand.  Me.  The one who says she won’t go to a church.

dI laugh in spite of myself.  I find myself wearing hose.  Can I just say after seven years of not wearing these darn things…I’m NOT thrilled.  The husband asks why I’m dressed up. Wearing perfume.  Wearing make-up.  Because, I tell him, it’s well ingrained to dress up for church.  I just can’t go casually.

So I arrive.  Park the car.  I grab my big Bible (because the bigger the Bible, the closer to God right…or maybe that’s the hair. LOL) and walk into the doors.  Immediately my comfort zone is pushed.  It’s big.  I know NOBODY.  I don’t even know how I’m supposed to act in a church outside of the one I was raised in.  Where do you want to sit I am asked?  Um, the back?  Oh no! I’m a back-of-the-church sitter.

I talk myself through not being judgmental.  The thoughts and ideas planted in my head swirl.  HE speaks clearly to me.  Be still.  Listen.  I find my way through my cluttered thoughts to find His voice. I write:

Man.  Is this place big…I’m so confused.  I just want to find you…I don’t want to be alone…anymore.  If it means I’m lost and not worthy of being truly free…then that is fine.  I NEED  something. And I will search until I find it.

No sooner do I finish these words I notice the screen.  It’s countdown time.  4…3…2…1….the music starts.  I try not to giggle at the whole process.  I find myself enjoying the music and ignoring the instructions to sing and clap.  I KNOW how to worship I tell myself.  Clearly, I need a healthy dose of humility.

Again HE tells me to be quiet.  To listen.  To wait and see.  He is there.  If I’ll just quit yammering for two seconds.

The pastor arrives on the stage to pray.  I find myself tearing up.  My intentions of being calm are quickly going south.  Announcements begin.  Be in Real Relationship.  Serve Others.  This is just the announcements?  I’m hooked.  I tell YHWH, “You have my attention now.”

The sermon is based upon the Gospel of John.  He tells a story of his boys praying.  “God.  Why can’t we just get along?”  Then begins a bit about church splits.  Hurt hearts.  Broken relationships.  WHY?  Why, I write, why is he talking about that…why am I hearing this?  41,000 splits within the Christian community according to the Church Conflict Forum (a real organization).  Only 2% are because of doctrine!

My brain begins to implode on itself…

Then he makes the statement that I needed to hear. “WE have to connect.”  There’s no use keeping the tears back.  They flow.  My heart is bursting.  I feel something that I never felt before.  The Spirit.  The comforter.  I’ve spoken in tongues my whole life.  But I’ve NEVER felt this before.  Not without spending intense time praying for it. And never during a sermon.  I’m completely unaware of what is going on, but I know that it’s going to help me.

He asks the congregation. Are your actions uniting or dividing? Are they bringing peace?  He concludes by saying that he will fight for the peace of this church.  I’m confused at this point.  I feel like I was part of something that I don’t understand.  But yet, I do understand.

And then…then they sing.  Oceans.  I’m undone.  I can see YHWH smiling and chuckling.  He did what I didn’t think He could do.  All I had to do was get over myself and go.

I decline participating in communion.  I’m still not sure about that particular part.  But I walked out of the auditorium with a wet face, sniffly nose and a full heart.

And that’s just the beginning…

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