It is not like me to try to predict the future. However, I am leaving town tomorrow with some girlfriends to attend a teacher conference in Austin. Should be a pretty decent conference. Definitely stoked about the roadtrip, and the girls have mapped out a couple of places they want to take me to in the evenings to listen to music while we are there.
So, knowing that many of our sponsors check this post on Monday Mornings for the latest updates, I'll do my best. I will not be back online until Wednesday, and many of you will whine if I don't blog about Sunday before then.
I'm predicting that the sermon will be amazing and fabulous. Shawn tends to deliver excellence every time. I am also predicting that the worship set will be incredible. It generally is. At least once I would like to say that we crashed and burned. Just so my readers would believe me that it really was incredible.
On a very personal note, having just returned from band practice, I am pretty sure that this is by far the most touching and meaningful worship set I have ever done. It will be challenging just to get through it to the end. At the risk of entirely baring my soul to you all, here's the scoop. For those of you that it makes uncomfortable to know all my crap, just log off and go away. I'm going to tell you this in the order of my story, not the order of the worship set.
Shout to the Lord July 4 weekend, 2003. My marriage was over. There was no hope for my future. I just needed to plan where to live. Some friends walked with me through this time and encouraged me to consider other options such as a short separation, or even staying. All summer, Shout to the Lord played on the radio and at church camp. But it was in the Appalachian mountains, pulled over on the side of the road that it changed my life. I can still see and smell the mist rolling in over the mountains that morning. A light drizzle dampened my hair as the words played on the radio. "Mountains bow down...." Then God said, "I will make the mountain in your life bow down. Stay married." And I did. And God made good on His promise. And I have never regretted my choice. And every time I sing it I know that I serve a big and mighty God who still moves mountains.
Blessed Be Your Name That trip to the Appalachian Mountains was fruitful in more than one way. Traveling, I was careless with my birth control and ended up pregnant. I was cautiously optimistic about this baby, seeing it as God's promise that my marriage would stand the test of time and that Shawn and I were being given a second chance at parenting...as a team....as people who were learning how to love each other and our children. The ultrasound was beautiful. Ten fingers, ten toes, a great heartbeat. Then at 12 weeks, in October of 2003, I began spotting at school and lost the baby. It was a slow miscarriage, meaning that my body disintegrated the baby, and I endured an entire weekend of painfully losing the baby a piece at a time and finally ended up in surgery. I was so angry at God. How could He mislead me like this? Was there really no hope for my marriage? And all I could hear Him say was, "I am good all the time, and all the time I am good." My first Sunday back at church a visiting band was playing, and I heard "Blessed Be Your Name." For the first time. "You give and take away, blessed be your name." And my anger was gone. And I grieved, (loudly) and my church family held me close and prayed over me. And I learned that God's goodness is not captive and bound up in whether I like or understand the events that occur in my life.
We Are Hungry This one is new to me. I had never heard it before. However, when God first began calling me into church planting, I wrote a similar song about being hungry and thirsty for God's presence. It's pretty hokey, but it was a good fit for the audience at the time. But it was my personal declaration that I would only seek God and his presence. That I would believe in Him even though he was calling me off into something that seemed pretty weird and strange at the time. Then this summer God began showing me His presence as rain. So here's some snippets from the song, "Holy Spirit, rain down on me....." "We are hungry for more of you....We are thirsty for more of You....."
By Your Side Recently I purchased the Tenth Avenue North CD. This CD quickly earned a permanent presence in my CD player - until I gave it away. This year God has asked me to move so far out of my comfort zone that I don't even remember having one! As I have struggled greatly with surrender and obedience to all the new things God has asked me to do and to be, He has held me tightly in his arms. Even when I have lost sight of the goal and tried to take care of business on my own. When I heard this song, I was reminded of holding my toddler who is struggling for independence. She often fights my arms that are holding her and keeping her safe, even when I know what's best. God used this song to remind me that it is only in surrender that I am complete and that as I surrender to God, He's got it all under control and will hold me tight.
So there you go, without intending to, Robby is chronicling my life story this weekend. He reminded me of just how blessed I am, and just how faithful God has been. And maybe the rest of you will understand why I am so moved by the worship set.
Okay, enough LaRissa's heartfelt junk for one blog...moving on....feeling awkward?....just pretend like you never read this.....I'll never know!
We will also be hosting our second new members' class. I am excited about several new families who will be attending and joining the Crossroads family. Also excited about Joel's pot of beans. He makes the best beans ever (sorry Shawn.) Been daydreaming about buttermilk pie. Don't know about that one.
We are looking forward to a busy spring with several events in the planning process. Continue to pray for the Crossroads daily. God is on the move and doing great and mighty things. Love that I get to be a part of it all.