I've been pondering this post for awhile and trying to share it for almost a month. Between life and then the blog changes, I'm just now finishing it up. I am excited to share some things that have been going on in our lives. For those of you that have read my blog for awhile, you know that the last several years have been filled with many challenges. Many. My world changed in late 2006 with the birth of our precious Eliana. I remember at the time just wanting things back the way that they were. I had no idea of all that lay ahead for all of us - both the challenges and the blessings.
I've been a Christian for many years. My faith has never been challenged like is has in the last 3.5 years. I've probably never grown as much either. I've always wanted a stronger faith and would often pray for God to grow my faith. What I didn't realize then, was that it would take trials, heartache and pain to produce growth.
So many things have happened that broke my heart and left me feeling battered, worn and sometimes used up. I have wondered at times if things would ever be like they were before - easy, good and smooth. I know now that things will never be the same, and thats alright. God hasn't called me to live an easy life. He has called me to walk with Him and sometimes that leads to places I might not have chosen to go. His ways are best and I'm learning daily to trust in that. God has pieced my broken heart together, but there are now a lot of holes in it. Holes in which the tears spill out so freely. I think this is probably good, but so very different from who I thought I was for so many years, kwim?
Over the course of the last 4 years so many things have been a challenge - learning so many new things - therapies, medical procedures, treatments, testing, and unfortunately also, church. Having 4 children with different special/medical needs has made it difficult. Roger and I finally agreed that for a number of reasons, that we needed to find a new church. This was hard as we have been in our current church for over 20 years!
I visited a nearby church that some friends attended. I liked it. The teaching was wonderful, but for several reasons, I didn't think it would work for some of our children and knew that it would not have worked for some of the seasons that we have been through. Next, I visited another church with a couple of our children. We knew only one family there even though it was a large church. At the first worship service, I just felt a peace in my heart. After the service, our friends took us to see the Sunday school area. After asking many questions, I was introduced to the gal in charge of the program. I explained the variety of needs our children have and she was receptive to wanting to help.
The next Sunday, more of us went (can't remember if it was all of us). Rebecca took Eliana to a class. Her first. She did really well. I was encouraged that they were willing to have someone be a helper with Eliana which would be wonderful. I think at first though, I'd like for one of us to be with her to help her with the transition.
I stayed with Daniel. Church has been particularly hard for him. In the past, he didn't like church at all. Even though either Roger or I were always with him, it still wasn't enough. It was overwhelming to his sensory needs and we were at a loss as to what else to do for him.
This new church has a room for kids with special needs and so we tried it. There were just 2 other children in the room - one a boy a little younger than Daniel and one much older. The two littler boys played together some. After being in this room for awhile, we went to a corporate worship for the preK kids. There was a story, memory verse and singing. It was a little hard for Daniel - big room, lots of kids, loud. He was much happier when we went back to the smaller class. When we were home, I asked him what he thought about the class. He said he liked it because it was "peaceful".
As we were driving to church the next Sunday (me with 3 or 4 of the kids to the new church, and Roger with 2 or 3 kids to the old church), I was praying. I was talking to God about the music and how it is just really loud. It was loud to me and I knew it was loud for Daniel. I just wasn't sure if this was going to work for him. I didn't want a long drawn out search and wanted Him to just guide us.
When we got there, the gal the runs the Sunday School program came by the room Daniel is in and talked to me. She told me that she had been talking with another mom with a child with Sensory Processing Disorder. This mom has found some earplugs that are musician quality that will cut down the decibels of sound, but not muffle things. She then told me that the church would be willing to buy some for Daniel to have at the church.
I was stunned. I'm not even sure what I said to her. I couldn't believe they would do that for us. We were strangers, visitors and yet they were reaching out to help us. I needed this.
She then found the mom (who was leading the preK worship music) and we talked and she showed me the earplugs. I had told Daniel I was stepping out for few minutes (which he told me he didn't hear) and when I returned he was a mess. Crying and angry and it took awhile to get him back. During the preK worship I could even see this mom trying to do things to help Daniel. (Having the children *whisper* their Bible verses together.) We've never had anyone care for us like this. I've never asked (and am not trying to say that others should have done anything. I'm just blown away that they are willing to do something.) Having so many kids with such different "issues" has really made church very challenging. We want to find a place where we were all happy and growing.
I still continued to God about the loud music. (It was much louder than what we were accustomed to and I wondered if it was "too loud". And yes, we have recently studied noise and the effects on the ears.) I wondered if there was a service that wasn't quite as loud or a place to sit that wasn't as loud. I wondered how I could even figure this out. Can you ask that kind of question? I don't want them to think I'm a total nutcase!
Within a couple of days, I got a phone call from someone at the church. I had filled out a card the first Sunday I visited and this was a follow-up. Guess who it was? The one person that could best answer my questions. He wanted to know if I had questions and if he could help in any way. It was the Worship Pastor. I just teared up when I heard the message. God heard and answered ... again. .
I'm not sure I can explain how much all this meant to me. Yes, I know God hears and I know He answers. I've been in a hard season though with so many things to juggle with my children and some days it was just lot. Some days it felt really lonely. Some days I wondered where God was in all of this and why He wasn't more vocal.
God is hearing my questions and He is using the people at this church to answer them. It's not perfect by any means, but we believe it is where God is calling us. In sharing about the things that are blessing us in this new place, I don’t mean for that to sound like a negative reflection on the church where we were attending. That is not what this is about. There are obviously wonderful people in our previous church doing neat things too (or we wouldn't have stayed there for so many years!). Our lives have had a lot of change in them and this is now a part of that change. Change is often hard, but often good as well. I'm very excited to see what God has in store for us.
There are many things that we're excited about in this new church. I love how on fire this church is for reaching the lost and making a difference in the lives of those around us. There is passion in this place! The teaching has been incredible and challenging! Oh, and did I mention that this church has 5 areas in which they are focused on helping people - one of them is orphans. That too touched my heart.
After walking a path that has been rocky and waiting for answers to so many things, I'm just overwhelmed by these small blessings. I'm overwhelmed that God is listening and answering. I'm overwhelmed that He loves me so very much. I'm thankful and excited to hear from Him. It really makes me feel loved.
For those who are curious, here is where we are attending. The Summit Church