January 1, 2014 – New Year’s Day
Only I would find myself at an extremely musically infused New Year’s Eve service where I and the person sitting next to me ended up becoming our own two person choir. I sang soprano/alto, and she sang alto/tenor interchangeably throughout the service! The people sitting in front of us turned around a few times to confirm where the extra harmonies were coming from and smile. Honestly it was not on purpose, I didn’t know her from Adam. The music was just off the hook, so many songs I was familiar with. Newer ones were just as contagious. One of the facilitators called, the event, a “Holy Ghost Praise Party” and it definitely was one!
See, it may surprise some to learn that last night I was not at my new local church here in Houston. The husband and I spent our first “Watch Night” church service as a covenant couple at a church we visited for the first time this past Sunday. The husband has not found his local brook yet. My church is the local branch of mine back home in NY. Basically, we were on neutral ground.
Being transparent, I had mixed emotions when the hubby coach mentioned in passing he was thinking about attending New Year’s Eve service at this new church earlier yesterday afternoon. I didn’t have any problems with the church per say; I had thoroughly enjoyed myself during our visit. I was impressed by the whole worship experience from the parking lot to the pew and service from start to finish edified me. I could see that like many of the churches we had visited during the last year, it had a nice size congregation, but was still warm enough to feel like a neighborhood house of worship.
Here is where he had thrown a monkey wrench into my original plans. I decided last night with “myself” to stay home to watch the streamed service from my church’s main campus. I had figured the husband didn’t want to commute too far because he had work in the morning. I also knew if we did go anywhere he would be driving us because he doesn’t feel comfortable with me behind the wheel of our current car. The truck can act temperamental at times, and I am still a relatively new driver.
Can I be quite honest with you? What I was feeling was a bit apprehensive about going into uncharted territory. What I mean by that is…. I haven’t actually been a church “visitor” in over 9 years. This also would be the first New Year’s Eve service in just the same amount of time I would not be serving in some capacity. I began to feel a bit homesick as I was getting ready. I had put on the streamed service and was listening to the praise and worship. I realize now I needed to be tuned into what was familiar.
Since we live in Houston, our time zone is Central; back home is Eastern Standard, so I was able to listen to the first half hour before we left. During this time, I found myself stalling doing my nails. I didn’t understand, why I decided to refresh my nails then. I had to laugh at myself because when I realized what I was doing. I got out my nail polish remover and just wiped the color off altogether and continued to get ready.
My husband was so sweet he saw I was struggling and asked me what was wrong. I looked up into his concerned eyes and just opened up my heart and told him how I was feeling. He just kissed and hugged me and told me if I wanted us to stay home we could do just that. I knew that would have been selfish of me, and I could see God all up in the situation. So, I lifted my hands up to heaven and said, ‘I got you God. I got you. You want me to walk in my strength (you), but outside of my comfort zone.’ The lesson I had studied that morning on stepping out on faith was replaying itself in the walkway from our kitchen to the living room. I know inside my husband had to been laughing at me because in hindsight; I was truly having a moment. After reassuring me, I looked ok (he wanted to make sure I actually putted some color on my lips) and me tucked into the passenger side of the truck we were on our way.
Upon our arrival to the church, we had thought we missed dinner, so we went to get ourselves seats in the sanctuary. Shortly after we were settled he left me alone. He had to use the restroom and so I sat in my seat and began to read from my bible. From our last visit, I learned they read mostly from the NIV, so I had my TNIV / Message parallel with me. I don’t use it as much as my primary bible, so it still has a new feel to it. I was led to start reading from the books of Isaiah and Psalms. Let’s just say I will be continuing my study in my private time of both books.
During my husband’s trip, he had learned they were still serving dinners but in take home containers. He was able to get himself one and had taken it to the truck. He told me he could not justify taking another one they were only giving one container per guest. Since I could’ve in theory physically go and get my own. It was up to me if I wanted to get one. We had already decided to go and eat after service, so I decided not to. He also informed me while he was gone he had the opportunity to explore the campus and ended up passing where the worship team was warming up. I didn’t understand why he felt led to tell me this, but he said that it was fascinating to see where they were. The church is currently preparing to build a new sanctuary, so the worship team was rehearsing in a trailer.
Anyway, at that point we began to talk amongst ourselves. And our conversation picked up where we had left off during one of our previous discussions about our personal goals for this New Year. I am preparing to go back to school and the husband as my hubby coach had asked me to create a scouting report on the degree programs I am interested in, their earning potential, how long it would take me estimated to finish my degree and overall what the benefits would be for our overall family unit. See me going back to school is one of the goals that we both agree would be beneficial for the future of our family. However, since as I said to him, I am no longer ‘25 years old’, I have to make a truly educated decision when it comes to my next career move.
Relocating has given me the opportunity to create a fresh start. As well as take stock of my life and evaluate what I have done so far and what goals I still would like to achieve. Being married to my husband and having him available to be a sounding board has helped as well too, because he is one of few people that can genuinely call me out on my crap. He has known me directly and indirectly for so long that he can tell me where I might be seeing only the black and white or in some cases red and can coach me back to a place where I am not so adamant about my beliefs. It doesn’t hurt either that he has worked as an educational advisor for a large portion of his professional career. That is just another “W” in the win column when it comes to being married to Oji.
Proceeding with the service, after the offering was collected, they had a testimonial portion in the program. People from the congregation were given a few moments to share. Several people spoke of being healed of cancer. That is not actually what moved me; it was how the people of the congregation had played such a pivotal role in their lives and their families’ lives as they were going through their battles. How, they were the “arms and feet of Jesus” as one woman said. And that each person that gave a testimony was serving faithful as church stewards. One young woman a choir member had, had 21 treatments before she received a cancer free report from the doctor! Praise God, for his grace and her confidence in the knowledge that she was already healed by faith.
If those testimonies had not been powerful enough to move anyone to just worship God for his mercy and grace some more… Let me tell you, last night when the Pastor actually hit the altar and began to preach he “read my mail” because the message was tailor fit for me. He spoke on the subject of “Changes in Plans”. Basically, learning how to go with the flow, or in short trusting that God is in control of the situation; we may not see what things he is steering us away from when he delays or re-routes our plans. However, he has our best interest and ultimately his in sight.
Personally, I can look back over the last year; the last couple of months even and see clearly where God has done both re-routed and delayed me from starting a few things. In the city of my soul, I believed I was ready. However, I know now character wise I was not. I still have areas I needed to make some adjustments in.
In some cases, I would have been made emotion based decisions, and committed myself to things without thoroughly calculating the cost. Or stepping in situations where I might have become collateral damage to someone else’s mess. Now when I make a decision I know I no longer just make moves for myself but also for the future of the family my husband and I are creating together. I know that this year, is going to be better than the last. Mainly because I will be making better decisions, I am learning how to slow down more and seek wise counsel and not moving till I truly feel Jesus’ peace. I am evaluating my inner circle and am grateful that the man that chose to share his life with me also knows that if Jesus is not the center of our relationship and our lives none of what we could’ve ever hope for will happen.
So, in closing I am so happy that 2014 is here. I am expecting only God’s best.
© 2014, Lela Jefferson Fagan. All rights reserved.