Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Needing to Go DEAP

I've been struggling with something lately, and I'm not sure about it at all.

When we left Dallas, we left an incredible church family. We left a place that we absolutely loved. People we loved. If you've never been to The Branch in Farmers Branch or Vista Ridge, you should definitely check it out sometime.

When we were at The Branch, Biggsy and I both went through HUGE growth spurts on the spiritual plane. We led a small group Bible Study and were members of another one. I was on on Praise Team. The girls talked about Jesus like he lived down the street. In short, we were all building intimate relationships with God. And it was great.

And then we went through some icky stuff, and moved here, and went through even more icky stuff, and bounced around between a few different churches, and finally landed at one here in our neighborhood.

It's a Baptist church, and although we aren't "Baptists," we've been trying it on for size, I guess you could say. We were both raised in the Church of Christ, but we don't really fit that general description anymore either. A few years at The Branch will do that to you.

Lately, I've really been missing The Branch. Homesick and sad -- that's me. And it's hard to explain just what I miss because I can't really pin it all down. But I can tell you The Branch has Acapella services like nobody's business. Four-part harmony like you wouldn't believe. Even if it's not all that harmonious and slightly off-key, I'll take four-part harmony over a set of drums any day.

I miss the people. The sheer joy that would cross their faces when they would see me. (Yes, me. It's my blog. So yes, this is all about me.) The hugs. I had church friends who knew ME. I like hugs, but none of the churches we've been too down here have been very "huggy." And this isn't just a D'Lyn thing. I've watched how everyone is with everyone else. Is being huggy just a Dallas thing???

A couple of weeks ago, things around our house were in a stew. We were both miserable. Completely unhappy with one another. (I know it's hard to believe -- but we are human!) We never should have gone to church. But we did. And we put on that "church face" that we all talk about. You know, the one where you say, "I'm fine." "I'm good." Whatever. One Friend noticed. As I stood in the service and cried through all the songs -- even the ones I love -- I felt so miserable. And so very alone.

I miss having communion. Sometimes I think it can be easy for communion to become kind of just something you "do." But miss it on a regular basis for over two years, and it becomes something else. You realize the connection it gave you. You realize that you're really missing something. You realize how much you need it weekly.

The Branch did Big Time in a big way. They don't do it anymore, so even if we were there we wouldn't get to do that. But they do something just as great now. I miss going to Big Time with all our friends. And watching my kids "do" Big Time. And dude... I miss Coach's much-anticipated talks.

I miss listening to Chris preach. Chris just has this way of commanding your attention -- something that's pretty important when you're ADD like me. Every one of his lessons was interesting -- entire series where I learned more Bible than ever before. We're the same age, Chris and I (and I'm not telling what that is), but I always felt like I had so much to learn from him. I realized from very early on that here was a man who God was using to reach people in a very powerful way.

I miss being part of a missional church. Where serving people in your backyard is of utmost importance -- where being "Jesus with Skin On" is the top priority. A church where the Elders and Staff realized the need for help after Katrina -- not just in New Orleans but in our own backyard. The times when we were encouraged and empowered to give that help -- while growing in spirtual maturity in the process.

We had these great family meals before Small Group each week, and we'd take time to really be in each other's lives. The maturity (not age!) the Joneses, Anders, Goodwins and Sullengers brought to our small groups was invaluable.

The Branch has ease and in-formality. I miss the donuts. Singing music arranged by my friend Robin. Being around so many people who were so all-out on-fire for Jesus that they just couldn't quit talking about it. People who lived out the whole "hands and feet" thing at every opportunity. I couldn't stop talking about The Branch and inviting people to join us there.

Hug and Howdy time was my favorite. No one does that down here. Is that a Dallas thing, too?? Sure.... Everyone greets one another. But it seems to be more of a surface level kind of thing. Very seldom does anyone exchange names. What's up with that??

With all that's different, it's the prayer life I ache for the most. When Abbie was in Kindergarten, rest time was called DEAR time -- Drop Everything And Read. When we were at The Branch, it was more of a DEAP time -- Drop Everything and Pray. It seems to me that that intimate relationship with God and with each other was based on that foundation of prayer. Not just something you did at certain times during the service. Sure, that was in there as well. But people praying independently out in the lobby or the hallways. Wherever there was a need. Whenever there was a need.

It could be that every single church we've been to since we've been here has all of this -- and I'm not seeing it. But it's been two years since I've been in a place where I've personally experienced this "package deal" and I'm just missing it.

Biggsy told me tonight that it was time for me to move on. He's right. I know. The Branch has changed. I have changed. If we freakishly moved back to Dallas tomorrow, it would be a completely different experience. I get that.

But I'm still struggling.


Kayren said...

I am sorry you are struggling! Thank you for sharing what is on your heart- I am praying for a resolution to your hurt come quickly!

Michelle McMillan said...

When you find the answer let me know. I feel some of the same things you are feeling. I miss Eastside. I can't get comfortable here. Of course I haven't tried that hard. Your blog has inspired me today. I'm going to try harder to find that place that I'm missing so much.

Mrs TD said...

I know and understand where you are coming from. We don't have that closeness with a church family either. Don't get me wrong, there are a few with whom we are close, but it's not that situation you described from your church. We left the church where we had been for 11 years, and haven't found a good place. I will definitely be praying for you to find your new home.

Pam Prather said...

As soon as you said "Chris" I looked up The Branch to see if that was Chris Seidman - it is! He was at Richland Hills when we attended there.
I can remember Tara as a little girl when her family attended University Church of Christ in Abilene and moved to the Dallas area. I remember watching her dad struggle to get around and to then see her mom move into ministry.
I remember Chris telling the church how he knew Tara wanted to date him - it's a story filled with balloons.
They are a very loving couple. I am glad that God placed your family and their family in the same place, all be it for a short time.
When I miss someone dreadfully I stop and decide if I would have been better to have never met them - or to have met them for a short time before God called me or them away. I always say it is better to have crossed paths with them for the short while. I'm sure you feel that way about Chris and the family at The Branch.
I know there is a bigger plan and God has a reason for everything in your life and everywhere you live.
He has a plan for you and Biggs and Abby and Kate.
Put on your famous smile and sit down and ask Him what His plan is for you and your family as you look for a new church home. You might also ask for patience to get through times until He is ready to share His plan for you. I can't wait to find out what it is!
And, I really appreciate your response to Obama and our kids at school. You are absolutely right. Prayer is the answer.
I wonder - did you blog when you attended The Branch, or was your life so full of doing things with the church, you wouldn't have had time?????? It seems to me your blog may be your ministry. I know it has touched me on many occasions.........Just a thought.
I am always thinking of the Fluvanna Bunch.