Created to Praise

Just me being me the way He made me

Outsider’s Perspective and Awakening August 9, 2009

I visited a new church this morning. It was quite an experience and I’ve decided to share it with y’all. I’m going to start by stating just the facts and then I’ll move on to what I think.

This is a church in Central Louisiana. It’s a fairly large church for this area. They have more than one service each Sunday. The service I attended appeared to have between 350 to 400 people in attendance. Don’t quote me on that though, since I’m pretty bad at guessing numbers. The facilities were very nice, modern and super clean.

We arrived a bit early so the kids could get to their classes. I was very pleased that everyone in the children’s department was so super nice and they had very good security measures in place. This is important in a church of a large size. Also, help was needed finding our way around the facilities and everyone we approached for help was super nice and helpful. In fact, they walked us aaaalllll the way where we needed to be each time, rather than just telling us where to go and hoping we made it. I was grateful for that. Trust me, that kind of thing matters to a first time visitor.

I had been invited to this church by a friend, but that friend had apparently gone to a different service, since I couldn’t find them at this one (she’d told me where to look for her). So I took my seat alone on the second row from the back. I should mention this is a rather large church, but the building was pretty packed, so there weren’t a lot of seats to choose from. However, I did find one with no problem.

When I arrived, they had already started the worship service. The singers were all on the platform singing a lovely, moving song. It seemed to be “special music” though since the congregation was seated and only listening. After that song, the congregation stood and sang a few songs. There was a “meet and greet” time for visitors, then the offering, then more singing, then special music, then the message.

Okay, that’s the basics. Now I’ll tell you what I experienced during all of that.

After listening to the first music special, we were invited to worship with the people on the platform. There were some traditional hymns mixed with a couple of contemporary songs. I knew all the songs they were singing, so it was easy to join in…which is what I did. Y’all know I love to worship. However, I stayed pretty subdued since that’s what everyone else was doing. But you know how it is…you start singing to the Lord and you just find that your hands are raised to Him. I promise I wasn’t loud y’all (I know that is hard to believe, but it’s true LOL) but you’d have thought I was drowning out the choir. Seriously, I was quiet.

Hang on, I’ll get back to the worship in just a sec….let me address the meet and greet first. In a room with over 300 people in it, I was greeted by FIVE people….two who were seated next to me, one usher handing out welcome packets, one lady passing by and one older gentleman. The older gentleman really touched my heart. He appeared to walk all the way over to me from the other side of the room….like he was there JUST to welcome ME. After shaking my hand, he walked all the way back to his seat. That one act of kindness did a lot for me.

Okay back to the worship. So I was singing quietly, but I did have my hands raised. Toward the end of the song, I heard laughter. Thinking little of it, I continued to worship. After the song, I realized the laughter was directed toward me. When I opened my eyes I found some young people pointing at me and giggling. Becoming a bit self concious, I tried to ignore it, but noticed that others were looking at me too. Weird, but okay. After all, I’m the visitor and maybe I was doing something wrong.

Next song, more giggling, pointing and staring. That was enough for me to gather my things and begin to walk away.

But when I got to the back of the church, a song caught my attention. It was one of those songs that uses the Word of God to worship Him. You know what I mean right? Bible verses being the lyrics? Well those songs are so powerful, I just can’t help myself…I have to worship. Those songs beckon you to worship! So I stood in the very back of the church, forgetting everyone around me (sort of) and worshipped. I did keep my voice very very low though, so as not to draw attention to myself. But I couldn’t help raising my hands. I just couldn’t help it. Song over. Hands down. Eyes open. Giggling, pointing, and the back three rows of the church turned around looking at me. Well, that was enough for me. I left. I won’t be back.

I got to the parking lot and told the kids that we were going to worship without worrying what people thought. So we got in the van, turned on a Kutless CD and worshiped. It was awesome! The Lord stepped right into our van and stayed there with us the whole time. Thank you, Lord. I really needed your presence today.

This visit today was NOT a good experience for me. However, it rekindled something in me that I thought had possibly gone away forever. I wanted sooooo much to shake that whole church…the whole building…to get their attention. I wanted to shout to the rafters “DON’T YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE MISSING??!?!?!? HE LOVES YOU! WHAT ELSE COULD POSSIBLY MATTER? WORSHIP HIM!!!!!”

My desire has always been to worship. But more than that, I want others to worship with me. I don’t really know how to explain it well, but if people would just have that ONE moment where they realize how worthy He is….they just won’t be worried about much else anymore. I love to be there when they have that moment. I love to see the transformation in them. I love to worship with them after that. It’s fantastic! And when you’re in a room full of people who’ve all (or mostly all) had that moment, it’s SHARED worship. Somehow it brings people closer together as they draw closer to the Lord. Ugh. See I told you couldn’t explain it well.

But I want that again. I want to worship with like-minded people. I want to sing to my Lord without ridicule or shame. I want to raise my hands to Him and pour out my love on Him while He pours out His love on me and those around me. I want to, once again, stand in the doorway of the Holy of Holies and say to everyone….”I’m going in to worship and I invite you to come with me.”

Today’s experience was anything but great but something wonderful came out of it. The Lord reminded me who I am. I am a worshiper. All of us are, actually, just some of us haven’t realized it yet. LOL But seriously, He has called me to a purpose and it’s time I got to it. No, I’m not going to start hitting up local churches for a worship leader job. HAHHA To the contrary, I’m hoping He never asks me to do that again. But I AM going to worship. I am going to find a congregation of like-minded people and I am going to stand in the midst of them as together we worship our God. It’s time I got back to being what He made me to be.

On a side note, I should mention….there are most likely some God-fearing, loving & wonderful people in that church. In fact, I have no doubt that I met some today. But it was made perfectly clear to me that I don’t belong there. But now I have hope that there is SOMEWHERE for me and my family where we will belong…and I’m determined to find it. 🙂

 

Major Changes June 15, 2008

Filed under: Church Life — 6kids1me @ 3:09 pm

I know I haven’t written in a while, and I’m very sorry for that. Rodney and I have been doing a lot of “soul-searching” and have invested a lot of our time in prayer and conversation. We have decided to make some changes. One major change is that we will be leaving Heart of Worship.

Anyone who’s read this blog for any length of time knows that I love Heart of Worship. That has not changed. So for any of the HOW family that is reading this, please know that we love you very, very much. We may not attend the same church location anymore, but we are still part of the family of God. Our hearts are tied together in His love and we will stay that way always. You are precious to us. We love you deeply.

Rodney and my dad went fishing today (Happy Father’s Day!) so the kids and I visited a church without him. We went to Christian Challenge in Pineville. I had met the pastor, Nathan, through this blog and was very pleased to meet him and his wife in person today. She is the sweetest lady! And Nathan was just as nice in person as he seemed in his emails.

I was very happy to see that they use contemporary music in their praise & worship. And the kids worshiped with us! It was the first time we’d corporately worshiped with our whole family and I loved it! After the music service, the kids went to their classes (which they all loved) and then they came back in at the end of the service. The preaching was excellent. Nathan is a teacher at heart, I think. I left with new knowlege and motivation. Loved that!

Everyone was really nice. Lots of hugs from people I hadn’t seen in a long time and even people I’d never met before today. 🙂 They seem to be a very genuine family and that means a lot. I have to admit though….about half-way through the service, I started crying. I looked around and realized that they are a family, but they’re not the family I’ve known & loved for these past few years. As welcomed as I felt, I still missed my family at HOW. I guess that’s the hard part about change.

When I came home, I told Rodney all about the service, from beginning to end. He said he’d like to visit there, so we’ll be going back next Sunday. I’m looking forward to it. So to my new friends at Christian Challenge, thank you for making us feel so welcome! We’ll see y’all next Sunday.

 

Beautiful Interpretation May 22, 2008

Filed under: Church Life,creativity,ministry,Worship Leader — 6kids1me @ 8:26 am

CC Banner

Here is my entry for Creative Chaos over at Carlos’ blog.

Imagine you are deaf. Now imagine that the first sound you ever hear is the Lord, Creator of all things, saying “Depart from me. I did not know you.”

For Amy Ballard, that thought is what drives her commitment as sign language interpreter. Every week at Heart of Worship, during the 11:00 service, Amy is on the platform at HOW, interpreting the music service. Soon, she will be interpreting the message as well. So if you are hearing impaired and looking for a church in Central Louisiana, we invite you to visit us at HOW!

Amy is also planning to offer a sign language class at HOW, starting very soon. This is an invaluable service that will touch many lives. I will absolutely attend that class! I cannot sign and this limits my opportunities to make new friends. And y’all know how much I love to meet new people! 🙂

One thing that has surprised me is how beautiful sign language is. I was excited about offering this ministry at HOW, but never expected it to be a creative element that would add so much to the music. This week, when we sang “How He Loves,” I was astounded by how beautiful the sign interpretation was. Just beautiful!

I am convinced that this ministry is going to reach people that we couldn’t reach before. For the deaf community in CenLa, they are very limited in their options on where to attend church services. To my knowlege, there are no other churches in Pineville that have this ministry. So if you know anyone who is hearing impaired, please invite them to HOW.

Also, if you sign and want to join us in this ministry, please let me know! My contact information is on the back of every church bulletin (Worship Leader, Becky Adams), or you can leave a comment here and I’ll get in touch with you.

 

Worship Confessional – How He Loves May 18, 2008

Wow!!!!! I just got home from church and WOW!!! Yeah, I know I already said that, but WOW!!!! If you were there this morning, you know what I mean.

It all started before walking into the building. The door facings have been painted black, which really gives them a totally different look. That project actually took all week. Who knew painting door facings was such a big job? I certainly didn’t. Also, the windows have been tinted and they look really great.

And then, when you walked in, you entered a whole new world. The entire foyer was decorated like we were all on vacation. It was so incredibly cool. From the banner to the t-shirts, the purser’s desk to the mural, it was all very tropical. SO cool! Oh, and the “Are You Ready?” bulletin board was something I got to help with. Fun!

For those who don’t know, we’re going to be going on a “Journey of Change” very soon. That’s what all the new decor was for today.

And then church started. 🙂

The music was just plain fun today. I’ll go into that a bit more in a minute. Bro. Keith’s message was about something very close to my heart….reaching the lost. He’s using the fishing theme, which really resonates with our congregation. After all, Louisiana isn’t called “Sportsman’s Paradise” for nothing. The whole message spoke directly to my heart today. He even gave us homework. He encouraged us to write a “thank you” letter to the person who led us to the Lord. Why didn’t I ever think to do that?! I am totally doing that this week.

Okay, now on to the confessional……

Here’s our set list:
Let it Rise
Sing a Song
Come Thou Fount
How He Loves
No One Like You

And here’s who we had this morning:
Bryant on electric guitar & vocals
Zack on bass guitar
Adam (woohoo!) on acoustic guitar
Josh on drums
Jennifer & Shalyian on vocals
Ensemble on vocals

How fantastic was it to see Adam on acoustic guitar this morning?! He is so super talented and of course did a fantastic job. Adam, thank you so much for joining us. You are welcome back any time!

Another creative element added to our service this morning was sign language interpretation. We did that for one song last week, but this week Amy interpreted the entire music service at 11:00. I am convinced that this is something our community is in desperate need of and am so glad that Amy is ministering this way. Thank you, Amy!

In the 9:30 service, there was a horrible popping noise coming from somebody’s cable. I was convinced it was my mic cord, so I grabbed hold the cord to make it stop. I spent the entire service holding that cord and trying to stay still (I normally move around a lot). It wasn’t mine. It was the bass guitar’s chord. We ended up with no bass for the rest of the 9:30 service. Disappointing, but okay. Immediately after the service, our amazing media team fixed the problem and we were good to go for 11:00. Good thing, since we really needed that bass.

The first song was totally rockin’ and the congregation was all smiles. “Sing a Song” was a new one we introduced this week. Our congregation really seemed to like it and got involved with it. One of my favorite parts was when we sang accapella and could hear the congregation singing with us. Loved that!

For “Come Thou Fount,” we did the Gateway version which has the added chorus. Very moving.

And then we did our other new song, “How He Loves.” Ummm….WOW! If you’ve never heard this song before, go to my VodPod in the menu bar over there ——> and click the link for it. Fantastic song! So I wasn’t sure how our congregation would respond to it, because not only is it new, but it’s also very different from anything we’ve ever done before. At first, I thought I had scared them when we first went into the powerful chorus. lol But when I sang “I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way….” that’s when I knew for sure that they were worshiping. That one line resonated so deep with the congregation. It was an awesome sight the way they responded.

For my worship leader friends who read this blog, here’s how we did “How He Loves.” We actually did it almost exactly the same as the original version with only two changes. We dropped the “sloppy wet kiss” for “Heaven meets earth like no words can express.” Thank you, Fred McKinnon , for that idea! We also ended the song with the pre-chorus. That made for a smoother transition.

Then we closed with “No One Like You.” This is a happy, exciting song that makes you want to jump out of your seat to praise Him. Our congregation always has big, happy smiles when they sing that song. I love it!

So that’s about it. Overall, we just rocked out and worshiped like crazy this morning!

I realize this was incredibly long post, so thanks for sticking around to read it all. 🙂

 

Worship Confessional May 17, 2008

I just got home from worship team practice. All I can say is….you better get ready! Tomorrow is going to be an incredible time of worship at HOW.

Fun news! We have a guest guitarist who is super talented…and a familiar face that y’all will be thrilled to see again. So y’all be sure to give him some love tomorrow.

All our musicians and vocalists really “brought it” to practice today. We were all looking at each other with big, stupid smiles because it’s sounds so good. And the set list is a ton of fun.

You know, I love being part of the creative process, building a set list that really creates an atmosphere for worship. A lot of prayer, time, effort & love went into the service this week (from all departments) and I am thrilled to begin seeing it all come together. So, as Bro. Keith says, you better “strap on your spiritual seatbelts” ’cause we’re going on a journey tomorrow! I can hardly wait to worship with all of you!

 

Extreme Makeover – Church Edition May 15, 2008

Filed under: Church Life,creativity,ministry,Worship Leader — 6kids1me @ 1:38 pm

Creative Chaos
So here’s my entry for this week’s Creative Chaos over at Carlos’ blog.

Remember earlier in the week I told you about our extreme church makeover? Well, I’m back with pics!

This is what the congregation saw last week as they entered the church….
old church 1
old church 2
So that was last week.

Here’s what they saw this week…..
stage
wall
stage lit

What’s impressive about this…..

* It’s more our “style.”
* Every single bit of the work was done by skilled members of our church.
* This was all done in one week!

What you can’t tell….the silver on the middle of the walls has lighting behind it. It’s just hard to tell in these pics. Also, I couldn’t get a shot of the entire stage, but it’s pretty big. Finally, the screens are missing. We’ve ordered new, larger screens and they’re not hung yet.

There are still a few changes to come, but this was so major that everyone was shocked and thrilled.

And now just for fun…..
Groupies
My groupies. They follow me everywhere.

 

Worst Mother on the Planet May 12, 2008

Filed under: Church Life,ministry,Personal Life,Worship Leader — 6kids1me @ 9:57 pm

Yep.  That would be me.

Yesterday, Mother’s Day, Heart of Worship offered free family portraits for mom.  Wonderful!  My kids all dressed nice & even combed their hair.  My husband wore a tie!  But I couldn’t find a time to get back there for the photo.

Before church, I was going through the music with the band.  During church, I was leading worship.  After church, I was preparing for the next service. 

So during the 11:00 service, after the music was done, I ran to the back.  My husband and two of our kids were in Children’s Church, one kid was helping in a classroom and another kid wasn’t even in town.  So I grabbed the two youngest from their classes and tried to get a photo taken with just them.  It didn’t go well.

When our turn finally came, Jack refused to smile & Beau kept hiding his face while saying “Cheese!”, like it was all a fun game.  God bless the photographer, she really tried her best.  I don’t know what kind of picture we’ll end up with, but it’ll be real if nothing else.

So then reality hit.  While we were trying to get a decent photo, I get a message over the radio…”The invitation has already started.  Get to the stage!”  Ummmmmm……uh oh.  We gotta work on that communication thing.

I’m running down the hall, tossing screaming kids into classrooms.  I was in such a hurry that I almost closed the door on Beau’s arm as he was reaching for me, screaming “Mmmmmooooommmmmmyyyyyyy!!!!!”

Bad Mommy.  Very bad Mommy.