Jesus was no light-weight trail blazer.
Trying to follow in his path is incredibly humbling and breathtakingly BRUTIFUL. Just when you think you're being open and loving and compassionate....boom! There goes the judgement reflex that knocks you back on your bum.
Part of committing to this path was committing to join a group of brothers and sisters. I had been attending church intermittently for a couple of years but hadn't really committed to it. There were reasons I had walls between myself and God. My fear and inability to look at my actual life was one of those reasons. He never left me but I put HIM in a box to take out on special occasions.
And then last year happened.
HE showed up in ways like HE always does.
I decided to listen.
With my heart instead of my head.
With my soul instead of my ego.
So many people I respect have talked about how their challenge with Christianity is not with Jesus but with the imperfect way humans try to structure religion that I don't need to rehash that.
I realized part of my inability to commit to a faith was fear of the faithful.
So...I did that.
I decided to FEAR NOT.
I committed to being Christian...a follower of Jesus.
In my heart first.
Then OUTLOUD in front of lots of people.
Then in my heart again.
The place where I practice gathering with two or more is Apex United Methodist Church. I understand now better than ever before that all things will change so I can't say that I'll live out my days in this church. I don't think of myself as a Methodist. I think of myself as HIS. I'll go where that takes me.
Anywho. We live in the NOW people. And in the NOW, ApexUMC is my home, my school, my family. I crave my time there and have worked to try and find the best possible way for me to serve within that community. It's been a journey.
Our church motto is '. Welcome All. Serve All. Love All'. Could you love that more? I can't.
ApexUMC offers a rich array of ways to connect, learn, and serve across four very distinct church families that worship in connected, but distinct ways. It was overwhelming at first to figure out where I fit....with help and love, my family is figuring it out. This church is so big that there are many many ways to serve and support each other.
There are the usual ways-Sunday school teaching, ushering, musical participation, prayer groups.
There are also new ways for this new, modern day Christian.
There are actual classes that feel like going to school again where you study the historical significance of the Bible to help us NOW understand us THEN. How we've changed and will continue to change.
There are committees for everything from knitting prayer shawls to meditation.
There are yoga classes and men's groups who meet at the pub.
We are a group committed to showing up-in as many ways as we can imagine. We are for each other and for works larger than each other.
I have found ways to serve that fill me up and ways to serve that empty me out on the floor. I have come to understand that in this place, it's ok to admit that I don't want to serve in that way. In this place...we have to find the ways that are meant for us. My husband and I are on this journery together and so we try to serve together. We have ushered, taken classes and taught our youngest's Sunday School class.
Confession time: Teaching Sunday school is not my preferred method of service.
Not that I don't love the Sunday school kids-on the contrary-I LOVE them all SO MUCH it literally makes my eyeballs hurt. I spend an hour with them, focusing on them, answering really IMPORTANT questions, showing up in their lives (and usually telling my own child that yes, you are special too but not just right this minute because right now I am not Mom).
Then I go home and spend the rest of the day with bees buzzing in my brain while I try to let them go and find my center. Not quite fulfilling in the ways that my soul needs. I am told I am good at it but.....I am not called to do it. Maybe one day but definitely not in the NOW.
Recently, my husband suggested that we answer a call in the church bulletin for gardening help.
My husband who previously viewed all things plant related as my domain.
Never for him to enter unless expressly bidden and then only to start power tools.
It is one of the best gifts he's ever given me...opening that door on something for us to do together that was not in his comfort zone.
I am impressed at the courage it took for him to offer his time and energy to do something that he knows little about.
I am grateful for his graciousness in initiating the conversation.
Oh, and also...in his help at doing manual labor.
You see....I kind of forgot in all this mess that at my heart of hearts....I just want to grow flowers and vegetables. More than really any other medium of creativity...gardening has always been my love language.
We met the head of the committee on a rainy morning. We walked around and looked at what was going on. In the space a few short minutes we left the proud sponsors of.....3 gardens.
Trust me. It makes sense in context (this is also what I said to the husband who manfully bore with me). All 3 gardens are adjacent around one of the buildings of our church and on first sight...I just had that feeling I get sometimes. This will be easy. I know how to make this work. I know just how we could really make all 3 something extra special.
We spent a solid weekend revamping them from this to something else. Here's the view of the building from google maps. We have responsibility for the curvy bed in front and both beds lining the drive. This building houses offices for our Fiesta Christiana congregation and is called 'The House of Hope' by people who've attended our church for a while.
I didn't even realize this building was part of our church facilities before working on this committee.
The front bed above in the curve was just a mishmash of everything. I don't have a good before picture because it was kind of hard to focus. Lots of material just arranged in a way that I couldn't understand. No worries...we can shape that up.
This is what I call the Fiesta Garden before. There was literally nothing there. Nothing. And we had full reign to do whatever we wanted. This is dirt-digger nirvana.
This is what I call the White Garden before. Kind of weedy and actually not much of a garden. This bed runs along the driveway directly across from the empty space above: Across a concrete wall, several other ladies had landscaped a nice perennial border as their service. Easy peasy to figure out what to do with this space.
Next post will be some excavation pictures. Stay tuned.