This is what my critics had to say:
"Mama, this makes my heart happy" and "Mom, I like it already! (upon walking in the door) Can we come back?"
And this is what I have to say:
Wow. I mean, wow.
We pulled in to the parking lot about 15 minutes before the service was supposed to start. I sat for a minute mentally preparing myself as I had seen people standing around in the lobby and really didn't want anyone to talk to me. Our plan was this...walk in, avoid eye contact, use the potty, find a seat, and hope no one noticed us.
Well, that plan was shot as soon as the girls got out of the car and started running to the door to avoid getting rained on. They were greeted as they walked in by someone I know. Whew! We said hello, did the whole, yes, this is our first time, blah, blah and headed to the bathroom. And I hear this, "MERRICK!" Ugh. We are just trying to get to the bathroom people! We are supposed to be invisible, no one is supposed to see us, we are supposed to go in, decide if we like the church or not, and get the heck out and decide if we are going to go back. But, nope. Merrick chatted with her friend, proceeded to the potty where we talked about if Merrick wanted to go to Sunday School with her friend, and off we went. To sit down. But, we didn't. "Hey Merrick! Hey Jodi!" OK. We got this. So we quickly chatted with the parents of her friend (the mom who teaches at Merrick's school and the dad who I used to work with back in the day), and headed (past the COFFEE BAR) into the worship center.
The first thing I noticed was that it was dark. The stage was lit, but the rest was not. Which was nice. We chose a seat in the back row and I was beginning to feel a little more safe. Loren's parents sat close to us, and then her mom came over and asked if Merrick would like to go to Sunday School. Merrick said yes, her mom took her and Taya and I settled in. I did notice that there weren't a ton of people, and the band started playing, and Taya and I began bopping back and forth to the beat. And all of a sudden, people were flooding in the doors, and the place was full. The praise band was good, the songs were upbeat, and it was still dark!
So then, the pastor, (who I think was in the high school I taught at back in the day = in my mind he's pretty young) began his sermon. And do to it still being dark, and him being in the light, my focus was only on him. (And the four year old to my right who was being perfectly behaved!) And his message was good. And I found myself relating. And, I TOOK NOTES! Not the cloze note kind. Real, honest to goodness I need a new journal for next Sunday type of notes! (Did I mention that he wore blue jeans and tennis shoes and an American Eagle t-shirt??)
The condensed version of what I got from the sermon is this:
- Go beyond the surface
- Hard work doesn't always equal getting our way or what we want.
- Once we are instructed by God, we have a duty to fulfill
- You have to put something in to get something out
- If it's going to count, it's going to cost
And here's the thing. I was writing out all of the verses that went along with the sermon so that I could look back to them later.
And then, he closed the sermon, there was one more worship song, offering in the back on the way out, and I looked at the clock. 50 minutes!!!! And I loved every minute!
On the way out, I chatted with a couple more people I knew, was thanked for coming by some people I had already talked to, and said I planned to come back next week. Which I do. Because, it was just what I was hoping for. And my kids were happy. And I was happy. Which felt great. :)
Then, this afternoon, I jumped on Amazon and ordered a daily devotional that I have been eyeing up at a new little shop in the Meadows.
And, the best part is...Dave said he might go with me next week. :) :) :)
It is a new Sunday indeed!