Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sick of it!

Can't Do It All, Part 3

I don’t know if it’s flu season or cold season or why there needs to be an entire season where it is normal to be sick – but I’m sick of it! Tony pinched a nerve in his back at the beginning of October that was so bad, the only way he could participate in our weekly staff meeting was to lie down flat in the middle of the floor. Then, both Tony and Claire had the nastiest stomach flu just a week later. Watching a baby projectile vomit has to be up there with the saddest and scariest things ever! Poor little thing was so confused and so weak, it was awful! Now there’s the constant coughing and runny noses between the two of them, thank God for the women that invented Boogie Wipes. It’s hard to remember a time when we all felt healthy.

One thing that has become clear in these past couple of months is that I am not a nurse! I can take a day, maybe two days, of constantly caring for the people I love the most in the world before I feel completely spent and exhausted myself. I can’t begin to understand how people do this as a profession, day in and day out, for near strangers. That takes more patience and more compassion than I think I will ever be capable of. It is a disappointing new discovery about myself, but if I’m honest, I know I do not have what it takes to be the mom Claire needs or the wife Tony needs when they need it most.

If it weren’t for the blessing of true and compassionate friends, I might have run away from home at some point in the last month. In fact, I can point to the exact moments where I felt refreshed enough to do another load of laundry and change the crib sheets for the third time in a day.

Prayer & Care

I am fortunate enough to have friends that I can be transparent with. When they ask me how I am, I have the freedom to say, “Exhausted! Everyone in my house is sick!” I can’t tell you what it’s meant to me to have people pray for me and encourage me by relating. The other overwhelming blessing is the tangible ways people have cared for me and my family during this time. One afternoon, my friend Holly came over just to be with Claire for a few hours while I escaped and finally took advantage of a gift certificate I’d received for a facial months earlier. I felt so cared for and so relieved, I might have cried… maybe. Then there was the morning my friend Brenda called to check on me and then offered to bring me a few essentials from the store so I wouldn’t have to pack up my sick baby and make the errand run myself. Or the afternoon that Tony encouraged me to lie down and take a nap and when I awoke the kitchen was clean and the baby was happily playing. It was in these moments and others like them that I was able to escape the loneliness that comes with being a care taker and remember that, in fact, I am not alone.

What they really did was remind me how much God cares for me. They reminded me that the Holy Spirit Himself is praying for me…

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don't know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God's own will. – Romans 8:26 & 27

It has also reminded me that, if I didn’t have these times of weakness, I might become prideful and forget my true need for Him, that strength comes from Him…

"My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
– 2 Corinthians 12:9

And, with God’s help, I hope to become the caring and compassionate mother and wife that Claire and Tony need. Because, I’m sure, this isn’t the last time we’ll experience the dreaded cold and flu season in our house.

P.S. If you know someone who needs a little TLC, this is a great website that can help make it easier on a community of friends who want to care for someone:

Friday, November 5, 2010

High Water Jeans

Can't Do It All, Part 2

Babysitting is different than parenting. Renting is different than paying a mortgage. If you call your church a plant, a launch, or a campus you know that there are a different set of obstacles your community faces than the challenges of being an established church.

Great Lakes Church first met at Mahone Middle School in October of 2008 utilizing their auditorium, gym and hallways for our adults & kids programs. Knowing that situation was temporary, we moved to Nash Elementary school where we grew to over 300 in attendance by the end of January 2009. This is not normal, and an elementary school is not equipped to handle that amount of traffic. Because of a mailer, we lost our lease at Nash on a Thursday and by Sunday we were setting up church on the back side of the Brat Stop – which is exactly what it sounds like, a bar that serves bratwurst & cheese! That Brat Stop service was out of control, and by the following week we’d secured a lease at Tinseltown, a local movie theater. At that service, the second week of February 2009, there were over 600 who joined us at Great Lakes Church. How exciting and problematic all at the same time. Where were we going to put all of these people?

Remember when you were a kid and your mom would take you school shopping for fall clothes? The main thing was to get some jeans that actually went past your ankles, since the jeans you got last year were making you look like Steve Urkel. Now, when you bought those jeans last year, they were just right. But, you’ve grown since then and they haven’t yet invented jeans that grow at the same rate as elementary school kids, so you go shopping again.

I guess you could say that we are at that awkward “growing-out-of-our-jeans-stage” at Great Lakes Church. This last Sunday, we had over 1,000 in attendance again, filling up our auditoriums, lobby, & kids rooms. But it’s just not as easy as going out and getting into a building that fits, so we are making it work with what we have right now.

I have to tell you about John and Gordon. When GLC decided our only option to continue opening our doors to the community was to open another auditorium, these two guys stepped up and committed to help out in a big way. John leads our band every Sunday in our biggest auditorium that seats about 300. Gordon leads our band every Sunday our band in our second largest auditorium which seats 240. Both of them lead for 2 services each. I have stepped over to the new Acoustic Auditorium where I lead a musical worship set alone… so yeah… that’s THREE auditoriums that GLC has live music in every Sunday, and a fourth “Family Auditorium” for parents who choose to keep their kids with them. THANK GOD for Gordon and John! THANK GOD for the whole team… the truth is, we don’t actually have enough musicians to fill three bands and give everyone a weekend off… we have to compromise with that right now until the team grows a little bigger.

Aside from not physically being able to lead in three different places at once, it’s a monster of a job trying to manage schedules, set lists, transitions, arrangements, and practices for that many musicians. The truth is, it was getting difficult months and months ago (atop my other expectations and responsibilities)…

So I sat down with my friend John Gustin and mentioned this to him. My hope was that he might be able to spare enough time to help schedule people. But this guy… he basically took over… and I can’t tell you how much help that’s been. I’ll finally get a small enough break in the dailies to tackle a small Music Team task, so I open up our scheduling tool called Planning Center… DONE! It’s already done! John has already scheduled people out a couple of months in advance… oh, and the setlists are all taken care of… oh, and he’s rehearsing with the team which I had no hand in assisting. I seriously cannot thank John enough for the support he’s given, and the care he’s shown for the GLC Music Team.

Our situation being what it is, we know we are not the coolest church in town. Would we rather be in one large venue with one live band and a live speaking pastor? Of course! Would that probably be a better experience for everyone? No doubt! We could have actually had that option, but we would have been telling people not to invite their friends and family because there just wasn’t any place to put them. But we didn’t start Great Lakes Church so that it would become a “Members Only Club” – we started this church, and hundreds have given their time and energy to this church, all for people who have yet to walk through the doors. People have given financially, people have prayed, people have stood outside in the bitter cold Wisconsin winters to wave at people coming in the doors in hopes that we might actually reach the people God has called us to reach.

We were hoping we might reach someone like Anthony…

And people are still getting on board, because we know we absolutely cannot do this alone! ... even if we don't look very cool doing it...