Posted tagged ‘Church’

I Had My Reasons

January 8, 2012

I used to claim that I didn’t need to go to church.  God is everywhere, right?  And there exist a multitude of ways to connect with God.  Therefore, I have no need for church.  Or, at least, that is what I told myself.

But, truth be told, walking into my church renews me.  The music centers me, brings me to myself and to God.  I can’t always stay 100% in the moment.  Sometimes my mind wanders during the sermon.  Or I find myself off on a tangent, analyzing this or that.  But, when I force myself to focus, to listen, I know that God is there in that place.  And the collective experience of worship is what makes it holy.  We need each other, to love each other, to honor God in the way we treat each other.

I need church.  I am not my best self without it.  I remembered that today.



Is That Even a Thing?

November 14, 2011

On Sundays, Amy gets Jane dressed for church, while I get myself dressed.  This arrangement usually works out pretty well, with the exception of the time she dressed Jane in jeans and a long sleeve bunny tee.  For church.  Uh…

This past Sunday, Jane was wearing a blue dress with flowers and butterflies and pink leggings.  Adorable. I made a mental note to congratulate Amy later on putting together such a cute outfit, since I was so distracted by practicing my Scripture reading for the service that I probably would have taken her to church in her pjs.  

We got to church early (like 40 minutes early–which is totally typical for us), and Amy pulled Jane up into the front seat with us while we sat in the parking lot so I could read through the Scripture AGAIN.  I read it aloud to Amy and Jane (they both thought I did great), and I finally relaxed enough to look at my sweet girls.  

And then I noticed that Jane’s dress was on backward.

I decided to broach the topic carefully, “Um, honey, I think Jane’s dress is on backward.”

“No. Look.  The buttons are in the back.”

Now I am starting to giggle… “Yeah, but didn’t you notice that they are kind of ornate?  And they have ruffles around them.  They  totally go in the front. Yeah, and it looks backward.”

“I didn’t even know that was a danger!  Now I have to worry about putting her dress on backward!”

My poor Amy.  After all these years, she is having to learn about being a girl for the sake of her daughter.  That, right there, is some kind of love.



Being the Church

November 13, 2011

I nervously fiddled with the papers in my hands.  Pastor Matt had asked me to read the Scripture at the 11 Magnolia service, and I had dutifully printed out the passages in large type to make it easy to read. I had, in fact, by the start of the service, read the scripture no less than ten times. At home,  I practiced different inflections, paused in various places, all in an effort to hone my reading aloud skills for my big Scripture reading debut.  Now, the service was about to start, and I could feel my nervousness intensifying.


As Nick finished the opening song, he tentatively asked who was supposed to be leading the Call to Worship.  Turns out, Pastor Matt had missed his cue to begin.  This kind of hiccup might have been awkward in a traditional service; instead, Matt made a quick joke, we all shared a laugh, and got on about the business of praising God. 


Suddenly, it seemed a little silly to be nervous in a setting where folks are so comfortable simply being themselves.  In fact, I began to reflect on the kind of community we are building at 11Magnolia.  The small, intimate setting fosters a connection to those worshiping around me.  Sometimes I actually meet the people around me, when we break into small groups to discuss a question posed by Matt.  The service takes a multi-media approach to sharing God’s word; facebook, texting, blogging, video, skits, movie trailers, banjos… anything can end up on stage (or on the screen) at 11Magnolia.  


11Magnolia tends not to take itself too seriously.  What is taken seriously, though, is the call for people not to just attend church but to be the church.  Matt and Nick lead the worshipers, but the attendees are called upon to use their strengths to create the service.  Which is why, on this Sunday morning, I was fiddling with a paper print-out of the scripture I was going to read as artwork portraying Peter’s renewal scrolled on the screen.  The reading went off without a hitch, by the way.  And then, I was asked at the very last moment, to fill in for someone who hadn’t shown up to serve communion.  And, after all, isn’t that what community is really about:  serving others?


Sunday’s experience drove home what it means not to just attend church but to be the church.  I do not just attend 11 Magnolia; I am 11 Magnolia.

Where’s Pea?

March 9, 2010

Oh good Lord in Heaven… almost two weeks have flown by without a peep from the Pea.  Let’s see if I can get you guys caught up real quick:

  • Spent the weekend with my family in Orlando celebrating Mama’s 60th birthday.  The venture included a trip to Cafe Tu Tu Tango, outlet shopping, and a day at Universal Studios.  Mama’s favorite ride:  Shrek.  Oh man, does she love Shrek.  My favorite:  The Mummy.   A rollercoaster!  In the dark!  With fire!  Dude.
  • Commented on 88 papers in 4 days.  That is 22 papers per day (just in case you didn’t pass 3rd grade math, you know, with the division).  Did I have time to do anything else? Glad you asked.
  • Ran on campus last Thursday, a first for me even though I have worked at USF for 6 years.  Unbeknownst to me, there are hills on campus.  I think I climbed every one of them in the hour that I ran.
  • Discovered that, after a long run, I sometimes feel woozy.  Almost passed out in the girls bathroom in Cooper Hall.  That bathroom is scarier than the thought of passing out.  Trust me.
  • Saturday Monkito and I hit the Gasparilla Art Show, the Buddha Lounge for lunch, and Joffrey’s coffee in Ybor (for a HUGE slice of chocolate cake).  Lovely time had by all.  Then off to Paci’s Pizza for a slice  (Monkito swears it is just like NY pizza… what do I know?  I have never even been to NY) and to our Saturday night AA meeting in South Tampa.  Yes, we go to dinner and a meeting almost every Saturday night.  It is a date.  Shut it.
  • Sunday morning = church!  Then a quick 5k, lunch with Monkito, a jog (with Monkito!) at Lake Park, and some volleying of the tennis ball at another neighborhood park.  Yes, Monkito went for a jog.  She did great!  We did a mile (with exercise stops along the trail, which we did too) and then walked another mile to complete the loop.  And playing tennis (and I use that in the absolute loosest sense of the words) was a blast.  Turns out I can keep the ball on the court the majority of the time.  Who knew?
  • Monday I drove down to Fort Desoto to run.  Beautiful view.  Ran for an hour and a half (a new record for me).  Haven’t calibrated my Nike band yet, but I am guessing I covered 8 mile or so.  Could see the ocean most of the time from the paved trail.  The temperature was about 70.  Gorgeous.
  • And finally, today I was very, very brave as I had two cavities filled.  And, all day long, the Crest Gel commercial from the 80s has been in my head.  Cavity Creeps attacking!  Crest Gel! Crest Gel!  (I need to get out more)

And, just think, we are only on Day 2 of Spring Break!  The adventure continues…


February 19, 2010

Monkito may not be a church-goer, but she is always willing to listen to me rehash the sermon for her.  In fact, she always asks what church was about when I return home… which keeps me on my toes.  No daydreaming during the sermon for me.

When I came home from Ash Wednesday service, she wanted the low down about the sermon.  She had been at an Urban Charrette shindig, so we got to swap stories.  When it was my turn, I told her the sermon series for Lent was going to be based on the Beatitudes.

The what?  Be… what?  What did  you say?


Be-ATTITUDES??? Ha!  What is a Be-ATTITUDE?

Uh… are you serious?  You know, like in the Sermon on the Mount.


Well, tonight’s sermon was about the one that starts “Blessed are the poor…”

(interrupting) What do you mean blessed are the poor?  How can the poor be blessed?  That doesn’t even make any sense.

‘Kito, I feel a little bit like we are on a bad segment of a children’s Christian radio program, where the heathen kid is sent in to question the faithful Christian kid.  Seriously.

But it doesn’t make sense… it seems like… it seems counter-intuitive.

Cool, because the sermon series is called “The Transforming Paradox.”  Nifty how they did that, huh? Perhaps you should go with me.. you know, just during Lent and all.

No, seriously ‘Kito.  You should.



February 8, 2010

Ever had anyone pray for you?  Not in the kind of abstract, “I will pray for you” sort of way, but in the hold-your-hands-and-address-your-specific-needs sort of way?  Yeah, I am not much for that, either.  Or I wasn’t, until the pain of the miscarriage crashed through the tolerable threshold.  So, on Sunday when the pastor announced that there would be healing prayer offered in the chapel, I called him on his bluff.  I mean, what did I really have to lose?

As soon as I got in the chapel and sat down with my two designated pray-ers, I started crying.  Looking at these two women, and seeing their genuine concern, I felt my guard crumble.  I told them how much it hurt; I didn’t justify my response or offer qualifiers about my faith… I was just honest.

And I immediately was flooded with relief.  And, as they prayed for me, I felt peace.  And I was sure that everything would be okay.  And, trust me, the way I have been feeling lately, that is an incredible gift.

Sunday, Sunday…

January 3, 2010

Made it back to church today.  I have perfect attendance for 2010!

Walked 3.3 miles and worked out with Jillian Michaels.  I still think she might be trying to kill me.

Went to sponsor dinner at the treatment center.  I got a new sponsee.  The old one… well, let’s just say things didn’t really work out for her.  Rumors consist of a relapse and smuggling drugs into the treatment center for the girls who were still in residential treament.  Yowzers.  The new sponsee seems bright and motivated.  I am excited to work with her.  Besides, I can feel myself getting a little self-involved; and, as trite as it sounds, nothing dissolves self-involvement like helping someone else.  (I am fighting the urge to break into AA slogans here…)

Tomorrow marks the beginning of knocking my ass back in gear for the upcoming semester.  Actually looking forward to it.  Seems that 3 weeks of sloth is my limit.