January 29th – Easthaven Baptist Church 6pm Service

Easthaven Baptist Church

Our Sunday mornings are usually rushed.  Not only do we scramble for church clothes (which now I am thrilled to death, includes jeans), but Logan is enrolled in the Buckaroos ski program from one to three pm on Sundays and we have to round up a multitude of ski garb.

This morning was different.  I woke up early. I was relaxed.  Logan was sleeping in.  I took a hot bath.  I was in no hurry to go anywhere.  I had googled our destined church service and if we were in good time, we were headed to the First Presbyterian Church with a service at 10am.  If we were running late, there was a 10:15am service at the United Methodist Church.  Both churches are in Whitefish, which is the quaint town at the base of Big Mountain.

Still soaking in my hot bath, I reach over to take a look at the time on my cell phone.  It was nine thirty and Logan was still sleeping.  I took a deep breath and decided in that instant that I was not going to turn into the crazed pre-church maniac that normally possesses me.  I took another deep breath and knew there was a back up plan.  Evening service.

The day had its ups and downs, including a warning on my windshield when I had parked in the kid drop off zone for longer that the 30 minute maximum time limit;  a texting quarral with my ex, ending with a rejected plea for him to join us at church (he might get a thing or two out of it) and the up of Logan turning and stopping on his own with rave reviews from his underpaid instructor, Austin.  We managed to get down the mountain, stop at the house to strip off a layer of clothing and head to Easthaven Baptist Church.

This was our second visit to Easthaven.  We attended a morning service in December with a friend and her four year old son.  The evening service happens to be led by a Pastor Matthew Fitzwater…a classmate I last saw at my twenty-year high school reunion, when I no doubt had a few cocktails in me.  I remember him having more hair, but he still has a great smile and a kind demeaner.  His lovely wife greeted us with a program as we entered the sanctuary.

The evening service offers a relaxed atmosphere with low lighting and glowing candles.  The music was folksy and welcomed us with warm fuzzies.  (Well…that’s how I felt.  I swear I am drinking nothing but water as I write this entry!)  A lady introduced herself and invited Logan to the preschool program offered in the middle of the service…after the music, before the sermon.  We were early, so we had time to preregister him out in the lobby.  I am glad they laughed when I answered, “Church” to their question, “Is he allergic to anything?”  Finding God, does not mean I have to leave my sense of humor at the sacrificial altar, does it?

During the folksy singing part of the service, Logan sat on my lap and and we both had some toe-tapping rhythms moving through us.  A handful of young women were in the row behind us and I would have voted for them in the early rounds of an American Idol season.  It was pleasant.

When they excused the kids, I took Logan to the children’s wing for Preschool Praise, where they also have a cool jungle gym like you find at McDonald’s.  Logan was excited at the beginning, but when push came to shove to leave the little guy…he chose the boring church service over the jungle gym.  He clung to my leg and I am not one to force him in uncomfortable situations.  So, back to the sanctuary to hear what my homey Matt had to say.

He had us refer to our Bibles.  Psalms 119.  Now let me say, I have to look in the table of contents (or whatever the Bible equivilent is) to see where to turn for the books of the Bible.  I think that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are grouped together, but whatever knowledge I had of the Bible must have seen its last day during my phase of jello shots and Bartles and James wild berry wine coolers in my early twenties.  I turned to Psalms.  I saw Book I, so when he said one-nineteen.  I was looking for chapter nineteen in book one…then looking for the verse…couldn’t find it, so was looking at chapter one, but there are not nineteen verses in chapter one.  I was lost.  I reluctantly glanced at a person in the row in front of us and saw 119…ok, how hard can this Bible verse thing be?  Geez, I have a long way to go!

Matthew had some great things to say.  Talking about how we need to be prepared in difficult situations.  He compared a hunting trip where the truck slid off the muddy road in Eastern Montana, miles from the ranch house and trying to dig out the truck with hunting knives and spoons.  Since that experience, he is better prepared, making sure he has a shovel and a few other manly tools.

Do I want to fight life’s battles with a butter knife or a sword?  Pastor Matthew challenged us to memorize some verses, so that we may refer to them in a time of need.  Not just look them up in our Bible, or Google a verse or two, but to memorize them.  Feel them resonate in our hearts.  I can relate with the Serenity Prayer.  The Serenity Prayer has certainly helped me during some difficult times during a five-year relationship with an alcoholic.  I admit I still say it under my breath at work now and again when dealing with difficult people or while driving behind a tractor when I am in a big hurry.  It’s simple.  It helps.  So, I guess I should look up a verse or two and see what I find.

Seeking God is not a like 70/30 health plan or 80/20 mortgage as Matthew indicated.  It’s 100%.

So, my journey continues.  One step and one percentage at a time.

Thanks for following.

If you are reading my blog for the first time, please read the archives.  It tells about my journey.  I plan to visit a different church service each week during 2012.

Glacier Church of Christ, Columbia Falls 12/11/2011

I had great intentions of starting my journey at my childhood church, Northridge Lutheran Church in Kalispell, Montana.   Let me just say that I am not the most timely person, and this day was no different.  Getting ready and going to church is more difficult than I thought.  The first thing on my mind was “church” clothes.  I have none.  I scoured my closet and came up with a long black skirt that had slits up to my thighs on both sides.  I don’t even recall buying the skirt or wearing it for any occasion.  I searched for nylons.  I guess I sent those to the thrift store during my last cleanse after watching an episode of “Hoarders”…since it had been several years since I even wore a pair.  My last ditch effort to look somewhat presentable found me sliding on my black SmartWool ski leggings underneath my liberal church-going skirt.  Note to self:  black attracts every speck of hair, lint, etc. that inhabits my less than clean house.  I have three dogs.  (Thank goodness two of them are black.)  Enough said.

So, I was ready.  What about Logan, my four-year-old son?  Does he have church clothes?  I had no idea!  All of his clothes are gratefully accepted hand-me-downs from a good friend who delivers them by the van load.  I find out what he has when they come out of the bins on the day he wears them.  I would like to add that he is an independent little guy.  (He was recently expelled from his Christian daycare/preschool, need I say more?)  I like to give him choices when I can, so I summoned him over to the dresser to help pick out some proper attire.  He immediately grabbed a blue t-shirt.  I was game, until I saw the word “evil” on it.  It was a Transformer T-shirt that said “Fight Evil” which was actually somewhat relevant, but I immediately banned it from the church wardrobe possibilities.  Logan threw a fit and I grew impatient and found my voice raising.  I instantly questioned my behavior and whether my mommy dearest demeaner was even church-worthy.

Bottom line:  we were never going to make it to the service of my childhood church, but gosh-dang-it, I was bound and determined to start my journey that I had put off for so many weeks.  I found the first step to my journey on Google.  “Churches in Columbia Falls, Montana” was my search.  Come to find out there are actually more churches than bars in Columbia Falls, which is rare in Montana.  I think the scales are usually tipped the other direction or at least balanced.

So off we went to “Glacier Church of Christ,” thanks to its close proximity to our house, time of service and Google.  The website informed me what to expect at the service and had a nice photo of the young pastor and his wife.  He actually looked like a teenage version of my cousin, so how could he possibly put the fear of God in me as his elder?  Yes, Glacier Church of Christ was my first step on my journey.  I will continue my writing and share my experience of this delightful service.  I have a lot of catching up to do.  Journeys are not all that easy to put into words.  Please be patient.  This is work in progress.   I will get to the God stuff, don’t worry.

Church of Christ
Logan in front of Glacier Church of Christ

Continuous.  Thank you Kasey.

p.s.  Pastor Kasey was wearing jeans.  My frantic pre-church clothing episode was fruitless.  Perhaps it was a useful lesson I can look back on and smile.

Visit them at www.glacierchurchofchrist.org  They have a facebook page too!

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