Many of you are new to my story, so I will give you a quick glimpse of it. I have six children, four of those children, I "adopted" by marrying a widower in 2011, the other two are my biological children and are children of divorce. Their father and all of our family live about an hour away and we share pretty typical every other weekend custody and split holidays. But what isn't typical, is the way GOD has molded our family into ONE unit, the way he has bonded my husband and I into one spirit. God with every breath I breathe, I hope I always remember to thank you for that man. He is truly the most pure in spirit, humble, selfless man I have ever met. My life verse is Romans 8:28 and God really is miraculous in the ways that he works this into our story.
Family Camp 2013
Isn't he handsome?!?! But, this post isn't just about his cuteness! Our family really has come a long way. There is a lot of pain through death and divorce. God has absolutely used Romans 8:28 to bring our family together and grow us into spiritual maturity through these circumstances. However, I shared the above pictures with you to show you that you can't really see pain and turmoil through these images. When we glance at pictures of someones life...it seems effortless and put together. What I have been reflecting on this week is why is it that we long for this SO much? The effortless, the easy, the put together, conflict free life? Is it because that is what our souls long to experience in heaven? OR is it because of a wounded life we have lived along the way? I don't know...but what I do know is that I struggle with this a lot....we talked about this at Bible Study this last week. Comparison of how hard my life sometimes is due to death and divorce and the jealousy that others don't have to experience this pain.
So, on to my reference to the MEGA Church. We attend Northview Church which is a multi-site church located in Carmel, IN. My husband and I attend the Greater Lafayette campus. Here is a shot of the Carmel Campus or more popularly referenced as ....the MEGA church.
Picture taken by Kurt Hostettler
And...although this picture is gorgeous..it still doesn't really do it justice!
Picture taken by Mel CarpenterHere's the big question many people ask...Can a church that ministers to 5-6K people on a weekly basis REALLY care about one person? Do they really value relationship and invest in one another? OR are you just a number in their revenue stream?
Honestly when I hear these questions about the MEGA church, I can't even fathom where they come from. Northview Church has been my home church for 12 years. I visited a few churches in the Indianapolis area before landing here, but the minute I walked into Northview Church, I knew there was something different. Back then, we had about 1,200 in attendance and our sanctuary was small with traditional stained glass windows and white walls. Although Northview has now grown in size and has a separate building for our youth, as well as, a state of the art concert venue as our sanctuary....the people's hearts have remained the same...actually I would challenge that to say that they have grown BIGGER by watching the work the LORD has done in our congregation through attendance, multi-site campuses and spiritual growth.
This past weekend, my husband was attending a Father/Son Football tournament at North Beach located on the Carmel Campus. This left me with all five kids and nothing to do. Although I currently live in Lafayette, many of my close friends live in Carmel, so I decided to drive down and spend some time with them and take the kids to the Carmel service at Northview. I had forgotten it was Baptism weekend, open baptism too...which makes it even better. Pastor Poe preached a wonderful sermon on the meaning of baptism and the reasons for it, then at then end they opened it up to anyone who felt led by the spirit to come down and take part, they had prepared extra clothes, towels..everything. There was no reason to ignore the Holy Spirit's leading.
Towards the end of the service, Pastor Poe addressed the children and made a quick statement to parents that we not take lightly our child's request for Baptism and truly determine whether we feel it is spirit led. Then he asked the children, if they felt led to go ask their parents. As soon as the music started...I knew, I could feel that Malena was going to ask and that she did...Steve's youngest daughter, Malena, came walking down the aisle and so sweetly said "I want to be Baptized...CAN I?" Ahhh..my spirit shook, her dad was not with us and was busy...but what do I say? My first thought was to respond and say I'm sorry, no...your Dad isn't here...but there was a hesitation in my spirit, it just didn't feel right quenching this desire in her. So I quickly texted Steve to see if he could make it over from the Youth building. He immediately responded and came right over. Then it happened.....as soon as I told Malena she could be Baptized, my son Braeden came running towards me...."I want to be baptized too" I immediately pushed back to let him know that he couldn't just get baptized because Malena was...but tears began to fill his eyes. You see Braeden, even at the age of 7, sometimes prays circles around me. He is so gentle, compassionate, AND spirit led. I then asked him to tell me why he wanted to be Baptized and knew I couldn't tell him no either.....BUT his dad was also not with us at service. I just didn't feel right in my spirit telling my son Braeden no, but also knew his dad should be there. I remembered that Braeden's Grandparents go to Sat. night service at Carmel, they could call Braeden's dad and get him there. The problem seemed to be solved, but as we got downstairs to the open baptism, it seemed the line was moving quicker than normal and Braeden's grandparents came down to say that Braeden's dad was at least 30 minutes away!!! So what do we do? Do we tell our son that he can't be Baptized, when his spirit has prompted him otherwise? Do we continue with his baptism without his Dad? These were all choices and scenarios I had to face literally within a five minute time frame. This was NOT turning out to be a calm, stress-free, enjoyable baptism for Mom!
But that is the question that I want to pose to you. When you have a child that you feel is making a spirit lead decision, but it's uncomfortable for those around them....Do we stop them? What is Baptism about? Baptism is about a spirit lead prompting to declare your love for Jesus and your following of him. It isn't about the pictures, the video, or who gets to attend the ceremony, it should only be about the person going into the water and Jesus. I was SO proud of my son, as he was faced with a difficult decision as well, regardless of who was there with him, he declared he didn't want to wait, because for him, this experience wasn't about his parents, it was about his relationship with Jesus. What an example that a 7 year old child has given to us. He embraced the true meaning of his baptism and wasn't about to stop it because the family didn't feel it was going as we had planned. Talk about a proud mom moment!
So, where does the MEGA church come in....Did they care that all this was going on? Even though they had a line of probably 50 people, were they concerned about the one family who was struggling over what to do? It so happens that Stan Killebrew, our Next Steps Ministry Pastor happened to be downstairs and overheard what was happening and that Braeden's dad was coming but was going to be late and therefore would miss the baptism if Braeden went through the open baptism line during service. So, in his selflessness, he offered to wait for Braeden's dad to arrive and he would baptize him in a private ceremony afterwards. We discussed this and braeden was fine with the idea of waiting, so we walked our daughter Malena through the open baptism line and we then waited for Braeden's dad to arrive.
DID YOU NOTICE THE WORDS THEY WERE SINGING AS WE WALKED OUT?? ROMANS 8:28, YOU MAKE ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR MY GOOD. CHILLS.
As we went back downstairs after the service was over, I realized that we wouldn't have video or pictures of Braeden's baptism since they were closing up service. I quickly asked one of the five volunteers downstairs if they could ask the videographer/photographer to stay and wait? No problem....they replied. It was about 20-30 minutes that we waited for Braeden's dad and in that time, not only did Pastor Stan wait, but the Worship Director, Greg Wallace, went outside personally to make sure the doors were unlocked for him, the 5 volunteers downstairs that were passing out shirts and extra clothes, not only stayed, but participated in the baptism ceremony with us and were filled with tears. As we walked out to baptize Braeden in the now empty sanctuary...even though all the worship leaders and musicians were now gone, Shaun Miller and the tech team had cued new music and lights to play just for Braeden. He also stayed to run the video camera and be sure that as a family, we didn't feel like we missed a beat. These were all men who had worked probably 70 hours that week already as Northview hosted the Glorious Unfolding Tour on Thursday night. But without hesitation, they stayed and did extra, to show Braeden, his dad, and our family the love of Jesus.
Still reflecting on this moment gives me chills, you see God has been working all these things together that entire day. As we waited for Braeden's dad to arrive, our oldest son, Gavin, decided to be baptized also. Romans 8:28. In the waiting, Gavin was prompted.
In the waiting, God was ministering to those around us and those in our family. You see, when my family ended in divorce in 2009, many of these individuals watched it happen. They know our story. What an amazing picture they showed of God's grace and love by waiting and adjusting their schedule for Braeden's dad and our family. By watching this, I could hear jesus saying, I love you and you are important to me. There were two mom's there hurting to protect their son's experience of this baptism, myself and Braeden's grandmother, but only ONE parent that can truly love them both equally, GOD. God created a scenario that spoke loudly for Braeden and his father. And without the moment that GOD created that looked much different than I had expected, I wouldn't have been able to snap this picture...which to me is pretty special. Look at all those hands on my sweet son!
I often forget that people have watched my story, Steve's story, and our story unfold together. I forget the impact that our story has. I am so thankful to one of the volunteers, Brian, for pointing out that fact to me. He stated that he remembered me from before and had watched my story unfold. Those who were passing out the shirts and towels, got to watch a family that has experienced much pain, sit in the love of Jesus and his will for the way things operate and how we show love to one another. I am SO very thankful for the MEGA church and all the spirit led individuals that I get to worship with every week, that truly care about our story, that sacrifice their time for us, and whom continue to show those who may not be attending their church, that we are here for you....we will stay late, we will turn the lights back on...we love you and we just want you here with us..........If you don't have a church home like this, may I suggest you find one. MEGA church or not, find one who operates out of a spirit led love for one another.
DON'T FORGET TO CHECK OUT OUR MINISTRY AT WWW.TWOLITTLEFISH.COM TO SEE WHAT WE ARE ALL ABOUT AND HELP PUT POVERTY TO BED