After just 24 hours, I have followers! That's very exciting. And at the same time, I feel a little pressured. Like I have to keep my followers happy. Yes, I'm neurotic. You knew this, or you wouldn't be here. It's part of why you love me, and you and I both know it. So let's see.....the topic for today shall be........
Going to church. (Looks around the room for low flying shoes.) Yes, I picked a topic that may or may not be controversial to some. My blog, my topics. Ha!
Many of you know that I did not live with my parents growing up. From age 7- 14 I lived with my dad's sister. She had a big family of her own, and I looked forward to siblings and a place to call home. My aunt, who was raised catholic, was now a member of a Nazarene church. We went twice on Sunday and then on Wednesday nights as well. I'll be honest, I wasn't interested so much in God or being "saved." Church was where my friends were. The friends I had didn't go to school with me, didn't really live near me, so I only got to see them on Sundays. THIS is why I went to church. Well, what I looked forward to anyway. Oh, I gave my soul to God, tried to read the bible and tried to act like a Christian should. But my main focus was my friends.
When I was 14, I went to live with my dad's other sister. They went to a Catholic church, but not regularly, and it was not a requirement for me to go. So, being the teenager I was, I didn't. It was like a complete 180 for me. I never really gave going to church much thought. I was involved in 2 choirs, volunteering at a crisis center, and somehow that meant to me that I didn't really need to go to church, since I was helping other people and living right. I knew what I believed, I knew the lines I wouldn't cross (or shouldn't) and tried my best to stay within those boundaries. We all make mistakes. I'm not going to say I didn't make any because Lord knows I did. But going to church was not a priority.
When Chip and I got married, I was vaguely aware of the fact that he was Mormon. He was not a practicing Mormon, so this really didn't mean so much when we got married. It was only after I found out I was pregnant with Brenna that we started talking about going to church when we had discussions about how to raise our child. I knew nothing about the Mormon religion. I'd been told several things by well-meaning people, but in their efforts to "warn" me, it became clear that they also knew nothing about the Mormon religion as well. I did my own research. I contacted the church, and we were visited regularly by the missionaries. Long story short (and believe me, I could probably write a book about this topic), I decided the Mormon church was not for me. I had some issues with some of the core beliefs and there are things you have to do to be a member of this church that I just wasn't willing to do. After the first deployment, Chip wasn't really that enthusiastic about going to church - ANY church - so we instead just settled on not going. We hadn't gone to any church for a very long time.
Moving to Washington state afforded us the opportunity to live off post. And we jumped at the chance! We have lived on post both in Alaska and Hawaii, and now that we could afford to live off post, and in a nice neighborhood, in a nice HOUSE, we jumped at the chance. Making friends was a little more difficult, as you don't have the army community surrounding you. We slowly met our neighbors, and luckily, they are all very friendly. It makes me sad that we just can't stay here. One of the things you learn very quickly on an army base is that good neighbors are worth their weight in gold. While it may have taken us a little while to really get to know everyone (and that is our doing because there are so many crazy military families, lol), we are fortunate that we get to live in such a friendly cul-de-sac. Anyway, one of the ways we thought about making new friends was by going to church. We weren't really interested in another Mormon church, so I looked online and found the local Nazarene church. What really got Chip hooked was their motorcycle ministry. The pastor of the church has a harley, and so do several members, so in the summer they organized rides. They would ride to a designated spot, usually within an hour or two of here, and then have a devotional. Chip went on two rides, before he wrecked his bike on one ride, and it was too late in the season to ride once it was fixed. We went for about 2 1/2 months, but eventually stopped going. The church we were going to was very large. We felt a little out of place. Mostly no one talked to us, and no one really seemed to notice when we didn't come back.
Last Sunday, the pastor from the church I attended when I was a kid was preaching at a Nazarene church about 20 minutes from our house. I haven't seen Pastor Bullock in probably 9 years. His daughter and I have been friends since they came to our church when I was 12. She and I have been best friends ever since. (We joke about it now, because when we were kids, we fought all the time. It wasn't until we became adults that we really became close.) I jumped at the opportunity to hear him preach. Even though I didn't always pay attention to his sermons when I was younger, I remember vividly his enthusiasm and his passion. I couldn't pass up this chance to catch a glimpse of that again. We packed up the family and went to this church. We were instantly greeted by 4 or 5 people. They gave us name tags, had us sign the guestbook, and showed us the way to the kids' classes. Pastor Bullock knew I was coming, and apparently shared with one of the members of the praise team that I used to sing. So I was approached to possibly sing with them. If ever we needed a sign to point us to where we needed to be, walking into that church was definitely it. We were welcomed by many open arms. I can't tell you how many people came up to us to greet us, introduce themselves, and invite us back. It isn't the largest church, but big enough. The sermon was fantastic. Chip said he felt like we should come back. The kids enjoyed their classes. So tomorrow, we're going to go back. I really hope it goes well.