I've been going to church for as long as I can remember and I've experienced a wide-variety of denominations and churches across the world.
In these churches I've listened to hundreds (probably thousands) of sermons and worship sessions, met tons of preachers and elders and church-goers, worked on media teams and in other areas, and thought (a few times) that I found my home in [insert church name here].
However, it wasn't until recently that I learned what a 'church home' really is.
When my family moved back to Florida after twelve years away, finding a church was a challenge. We tried several over the course of the first few months and none of them felt right. The worship felt off and like we couldn't get into that 'Holy Spirit zone'. The sermon didn't hit home or wasn't real enough. The people weren't warm and fuzzy. We just weren't clicking with a church.
One day Joanie B. found her way to a restaurant in the mall and met a lovely lady who told her about a church that, coincidently enough, was also in the mall. Weird, right? She came home and told me all about it and, despite my reservations, we attended our first service a few weeks later.
And that was one of the best decisions we ever made.
I remember walking through the doors of Emerald Coast Worship Centre and it immediately felt different. People were happy to be there. Smiling, hugging and shaking hands. We felt welcomed for the first time in a while. We were in a mall, which was super weird for a while, but you get used to it.
Worship was incredible. The Holy Spirit was freely flowing and I don't think I've ever been more connected to Him than in those moments.
The sermon was raw, real, and hit home, just like it has every week since then.
I can't remember the last time I WANTED to go to church. I'm a Christian, but somehow church had become a habit or a chore that I had to do on Sunday. I had to drag my butt out of bed and just get there. With ECWC, I truly wanted to be there. We started going on Sundays and Wednesdays. Then we went to our first Monday staff meeting. I guess you could say that's where things got interesting...
If you know me, then you know I tend to be a pretty closed-off, introverted person. However, Emerald Coast Worship Centre does something to me. God does something to me when I'm there. On that first staff meeting, mom and I had the worst day leading up to it. We were sad and angry and just completely rundown, but we went anyway. THANK JESUS THAT WE DID!
That night, which now seems like a lifetime ago, I met the most incredible people. I didn't know then, but they would soon become family. People I want to spend time with all of the time. People I involuntarily spill my guts to without a second thought. People I want to laugh with and cry with. People I hope I can introduce you to someday. For now, they'll just be A, J, and C. Some of the best people, maybe the best people, to ever walk into my life.
From that day on it was clear, Emerald Coast Worship Centre, the church at the mall, was my church home. My family's church home.
A place where I feel safe.
A place where I'm connected to God in ways I haven't been for a long time.
A place where my tribe was born. Where my life changed. Where everything changed.
So, if you're in the Fort Walton Beach area, come on down to ECWC! Service starts at 11 on Sundays and 7 on Wednesday nights!
Everyone's different, so I can't promise it'll be your home, but I can promise it'll be an experience you'll never forget. I know I won't, not for as long as I live.
Stay tuned for more posts about ECWC and maybe one about A, J, and C! It's only been a few months, but there are already a lot of stories to tell. They're probably reading this right now (HI GUYS!) so hopefully they let me really introduce them (they're super cool!).
Until next time...
Hey... remember me? It's only been three months since we last spoke, but somehow it feels like years have passed. I've been in the same place the entire time, but I'm definitely not the same person.
I've come to believe that life is like a pendulum. One minute you're down, the next you're moving forward and becoming a better version of yourself, and then the next you're right back where you started. I've basically experienced all of that in the span of four days. But I think that might be a story for another time.
This post is about something that keeps running through my head. I first heard these words while I was in the shower. The place where all great ideas begin. I heard it again while in a meeting. Again at a church service. And then at least four other times since then. That tells me it needs to be shared.
So this is what depression looks like. Or maybe it's just what being human feels like sometimes. I'll let you be the judge of that. And to whoever needed to hear this... I hope you're doing all right. I know it's hard. I live it, just like so many people. I've hidden it and exposed it and hidden it again. I've been ashamed and then unafraid to share, but the shame always creeps back in. The point is, if you need help, get it. If I can help you, reach out. I'm always here.
IF DEPRESSION/SUICIDE/SELF-HARM OR OTHERWISE IS A SENSITIVE TOPIC THAT TRIGGERS YOU IN ANY WAY, PLEASE DO NOT CONTINUE READING. KEEP YOURSELF SAFE, SANE, AND HEALTHY. HAPPIER POSTS ARE COMING!
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Every step is a marathon,
Adding one more pound to the weight of the world on your shoulders.
But still... you trudge along.
Your brain feels like it's going to explode inside your skull.
Your lungs are collapsing inside your chest.
You're drowning. Not breathing.
But still... you smile.
Every person, best friend or not, is the enemy.
Their judging you.
They never cared about you.
Why would they?
But still... you laugh.
Every moment is a wasted one,
Because nothing you do is good enough.
It'll never be good enough.
But still... you play along.
If they ask you how you're doing, don't you dare tell the truth.
They'll think you're crazy.
They'll never speak to you again.
You're always fine.
Perfect little princess with everything together.
Straighten your tiara.
Everything is fine.
The world is spinning faster than the speed of light,
But in slow-motion all at the same time.
It feels like you're dreaming,
Yet nothing could be more real.
The road is too long.
The voices are too loud.
The weight is too heavy.
You can't keep going on like this.
You can't make eye contact.
You can't breathe.
You're drowning and no one knows.
Because you're fine.
Until you're not.
Because now death is knocking on your door,
And all you want to do is answer it.
If only you didn't wake up,
It'll all be over.
You would finally be fine.
But the world wouldn't be.
You are valued beyond belief. The world would not be the same without you. The ideas presented above are lies from the enemy. Lies that are told in the pit of despair and destruction. And often times we can't discern it for ourselves.
Talk to someone. It's hard, believe me, I know. I've had to take my own advice. I still do.
But please know that God created you for a purpose. This world needs you. I need you.
This blog is a glimpse into my crazy life as a twenty-something female entrepreneur navigating life as the co-owner of a mother-daughter business. Things get pretty insane, but we make it all work.