Stumbled across this song by Red Rock Worship this morning while I was listening to some teaching on YouTube.
What first caught my eye was their name, and I wondered if they’re from the red rocks of Las Vegas or Sedona, Zion or Bryce. Could they be from the King’s Canyon area, or other parts of the Sierra Nevada where we’ve explored and camped?
I still don’t know because the 2nd reason I decided to listen immediately sucked me in, and I ended up in worship, tears streaming down my face, in my kitchen at 6 a.m.
This happens a lot to me lately. Jesus has been showing up.
ANYWAY, the guy singing this looks so much like my son, Adam, it’s amazing. And I like to think that in a parallel universe, this IS Adam, who’s a musician and singer himself. Serendipitously, we’ll be seeing he and my daughter-in-law later today as they’re down from Seattle. So it was extra sweet.
But I immediately forgot all that when I put my headphones in, cranked up the volume, and pressed the Arrow. The first several bars in, and I loved it. It reminds me of some of the melodies from the 50s and 60s, the decades of my childhood.
And the lyrics! This is literally what I’ve been saying for the last three years in particular, and the last several decades overall: That I may have to walk through the Fire, but I’ll come out of it not even smelling of smoke, for the Lord is with me. I shall not be afraid (….saying this even when I have been most afraid….)
God never promised life on earth would be easy. In fact, we’ll be presented with all kinds of trials and experiences as we journey along. They come along for all sorts of reasons, but for one purpose: to demonstrate the power of God to heal, to deliver, and to save.
If you’re going through the fire, please listen. You are not alone.
Almost exactly 3 years ago to the day, I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.
At the time, it seemed this news – and the 18 month healing journey I would have to undergo – was the end of the world. And, in many ways, it was. I was physically, emotionally, and spiritual stripped to the bone and then some. The pieces of my life fell dead to the ground, bit by bit, along with my hair. I lost so much… my career, friends, a sense of self…All swept away.
And during the blackest hours, I lost hope that I would survive. All I had to hold onto, literally, was the promise of better days – a better LIFE – as I kept my eyes on Jesus.
Fast forward to today. I am a happy, healthy Stay-At-Home Grandma, carpooling my grandson back and forth to school, drum lessons, karate, and Brain Balance. I take long morning walks in the park that make my soul sing, and spend as much time in the garden as my fingernails can handle. My husband and I, our marriage renewed as well, are members of a loving and supportive church family where we are making new friends and are in community with people who believe like we do.
This past December I was accepted into the Master Food Preservers Program, offered through UC Davis Extension, and classes started last week. I am back in school learning and practicing another of my interests – home canning and food preservation – while having the opportunity to make even more new friends. I also get to volunteer at local farms, farmers markets, the OC Fair, and more.
Next week, I’ll start my part time job working through Tax Season (February – April) in a local CPA’s office while HomeBoy is at school. Last year when I did this, I REALLY enjoyed not only the work but the people, so when they invited me to come back again, I didn’t hesitate to say, “When do I start!?!”
This morning I’ll be heading out to attend a workshop entitled “Craft Your Creative Vision For 2018”, and then get my hair done. (YES, it grew back and YES, I am blonde again! :) ). I’m looking forward to hearing what the instructor has to say, and how I can take things to the next level because frankly, they are pretty awesome right now. But, greedy wench that I am, I’ll take MORE of the good stuff any day!
The life I live today, this life of freedom, joy, creativity, renewed faith and new friendship, wasn’t something I could “see” 3 year ago. But it was THERE, waiting for me, just as God promised it would be. All I had to do was take one day at a time, keep the faith, keep moving and remember:
I can still see her in my mind’s eye, a young woman…perhaps even still a teenager…holding a newborn wrapped in a blanket. She was wearing sandals and a sun dress. Her chin was pointed slightly downward, and her long golden hair hid part of her face as she walked out on stage
Humility. Brokenness. Maybe even shame.
I could feel it all over her. My heart immediately shattered in pieces for her.
Surrounded by a few family members and church staff, she began to gently weep as Pastor Danny began to pray. With the hands of those close by on she and the baby, and the hands of those of us in the congregation stretched outward towards them, we entered all into a holy moment together. A moment when this young mother, having been forsaken by the man who fathered the child, was there to offer herself up as she dedicated her baby and herself to Christ.
If ever there was a singular moment over the last 8 months that made me glad we joined this little community church, it was this one. Not a shred of judgement was anywhere to be found. None. And I know for a fact others there, like my husband and I, didn’t know jack about this girl or her family. We didn’t need to know anything except what was happening in that present moment. Compassion compelled us, all over that room, to join as One to seek the face of God on behalf of this young person. We were with her.
And with tears streaming down our faces, we asked God for strength and courage for this new little mama, and His hand of protection on the child. Men committed themselves to step up and offer to be fathers to this fatherless child. The women offered themselves as well. We would be additional mothers, grandmothers, aunts and sisters to this family, there with our love and support whenever and however they needed it.
By the end of the dedication, as everyone left the stage glowing with peace, I felt connected to “the church” and everyone there in a new way. A deeper way. It’s been since 2002 since we’ve been members of a church, and I had forgotten how good it felt when it’s done “right”. Having a spiritual community, even as new as it is, provides us a level of comfort, connection and commonality that’s been missing. I, particularly, feel ‘safer’. A feeling that is hard to come by in a world that feels exceedingly unsafe. The Pastor, 42 years old, is down to earth, funny and wise. The congregation, made up of every age group and every color, displays the diverse nature of God.
I am so happy….so grateful…that we found Bridge. That’s what it’s called. Bridge Community Church. Even the name rings deep within me. Bridges have always held special meaning to me….sacred symbols of joining, connection, and a way to get from one place to another.
Not everyone likes going to church, and I understand that. We didn’t go for a very long time. We don’t do denominations or religion. But we do love Jesus. Having a place to go where we can worship God with other like-minded folk is a huge blessing that has brought tremendous healing with it. Not only a “spiritual” healing, but positive changes in other areas of our lives as well, from our marriage to our finances.
I think that is what happens when you are where you are supposed to be.
This morning we’ll be celebrating the (re)opening of the main sanctuary. It’s been undergoing renovations since last year while we met elsewhere on property. The “new” interior us lovely with an understated, peaceful and intimate feeling. I think the pews will hold about 500 – not too big, not too small. A large rustic wooden cross, against whitewashed brick, is the only adornment on the stage, but the worship team has all sorts of great lighting and technology to use now. Most importantly about this space, I literally feel God as I walk in.
I navigate life through my feelings, and this building is filled with positive intention and good vibes. It radiates a warm welcome to all who enter. A place where faith is strengthened, hope is rekindled and love is made manifest. A place to belong.
How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.