November 21, 2011

Giving Thanks: My Church

{Last year I decided to give thanks every day for the week of Thanksgiving on my blog. And perhaps, I'll turn that into a yearly blogging tradition. I don't have any format this year though. I just want to share some of the gratitude that has taken up a lot of space in my heart.}

Today, I am thankful for my church.

For me, it's a big deal to be thankful for church. It feels like a big deal to even have one that I call home and where we are for real members that have name tags and can be found in the directory.

Even though we've been there for almost two years now, it's only been in the past few months that our faces have become more familiar to others and others faces more familiar to us. I have been careful and slow at forming relationships.

I was hurt - and not by a church as a whole necessarily, but just by other people who are believers. It made me feel cynical and cautious and for a long time I didn't really even want to go - and so I didn't. But, I've had to look at my own ugliness there and as I've sifted through it, God has invited me to step out and trust again. And to be someone different - a different kind of woman in the church that others will encounter.

Yesterday was the annual Thanksgiving service and feast. We missed out last year. Mostly because I felt sad and wanted to sit home and feel sorry for myself instead. After what I experienced yesterday though, it is clear to me that I missed out on something great when I chose to stay home the year before.

Instead of a message, people came forward and gave a brief offering of what they were thankful for. Even the children participated. And it was beautiful. Both tears and laughter were shared and it was so beautiful to see people come forward and share a snippet of their story where they have experienced God and are thankful for His love and grace.

I too shared. And later this week, I will post what I shared with the congregation yesterday. But it's what I am most thankful for this year and I felt led to stand at the front and share that with all 300+ people that were there.

Several people come up to me after church asking me about my words, and it felt glorious and overwhelming and kind. I felt seen and heard and left feeling as though I had maybe impacted someone else because of what I shared about myself and my relationship with God. And once again I am left in awe of Him - because He did something in my heart and it seems to be spilling out of me onto others and it feels good that He has brought me here. It feels good that He even wants to use me.

After the service, we all ate together. Everyone brought a Thanksgiving dish to share and we all sat around tables and ate turkey and mashed potatoes and insanely delicious desserts.

Tommy filled up on pumpkin bread and candy-corn-feathered-oreo-cookies.
There was a chalk-board wall that we could all go write what we were thankful for. And because I'm so grateful for him, I had to write this:
Todd turned all kinds of shades of red because he was the "hot" husband.
One of the relationships I've formed there is with a woman named Jody. It's been sweet to see a new friendship blossoming here.I am grateful for place to come and worship and connect with other believers. I am grateful that I am a part of leading worship on Sundays. I am grateful to be a part of a church that preaches and teaches solid Biblical truths. I am grateful that George and Paula go here and how much that has meant to my heart to be in relationship with them.

I am hopeful about leading Journey Groups here soon. I am hopeful about developing relationships with more women here. I am looking forward to more connection with others and more Thanksgiving feasts just like this one.

I am thankful for God bringing us there and planting us right where He wanted.


  1. I experience the sweetness even just in the reading. I am thankful you have chosen to trust again and offer your heart. Your beauty radiates when you are living with an alive heart! I am thankful for your Church family as well...praying for the journey groups as well! Love to you Jennifer!

  2. What a beautiful post. Oh how different we are when God's radiant light shines through us. I got your email and look forward to communicating with you after Thanksgiving when I have a wee bit more time before the Christmas craze starts. Have a beautiful Thanksgiving.


  3. Heheheh I love the comment about the hot husband! :P
    Looking forward to reading about what you shared. :)