What Oklahoma Gave Me: Church

What Oklahoma Gave Me

Our time in Oklahoma is drawing rapidly to a close.  It’s been five years since our moving truck arrived here in Ada, OK after exiting at the Wayne Payne exit and driving through an hour of nothingness. Some days it feels like it’s flown by and then others I can’t believe we’ve ever lived anywhere else.

As I drive around town and move my feet through our awful WalMart, Our favorite park and our beloved church I’m starting to feel like a ghost. I can feel myself fading away from these spaces and it’s ever so bittersweet.

I see our footprints all over town, cataloged in moments and photographs. This place has shaped me into the woman I am today, our other homes did as well, but it feels like Ada bore the brunt of it.

My heart swells with love for this town, these roads, these walls and these people have woven themselves into my story.  I am thankful, deeply, powerfully thankful to Oklahoma for all that it’s given me.

So I’m going to spend a week thanking Oklahoma for the gifts, joys and memories, pouring over my keyboard with teary words. This will be a heart-taxing week and I’m not sure I’m ready.

First Off: I want to say thank you to Oklahoma for our church, H2O Church.  This is the place that has sustained me in a somewhat foreign land.  Yesterday I walked out the doors for the last time (for now) and my heart could hardly bear it.

This place has given me a sense of what Church Truly Is that I deeply needed, it was part nourishing and part kick in the pants.  I went from being a church critic and consumer to being spiritual contributor, a lover of the bride of Christ.

One of our church’s core values is: The church does not exist for us. We are the church and we exist for the world. This focus will forever change the way our family does ministry and I love it endlessly.

We stepped foot into our church, on main street in the heart of town the day after our moving truck settled into our rental home with the 1970s kitchen. I was newly pregnant and completely overwhelmed, I had no idea which end was up in my own life, given the fact that nearly everything had recently changed.

We choose it because it was the only contemporary church that supported my husband’s ministry.  There were a lot of colored lights, a smoke machine and at the end of each service they did an “ask” where people were invited to ask Christ into their hearts.

Not only that, the sermons weren’t live, we watched a feed from a larger sister church in Oklahoma City, that was weird and trendy…. I wasn’t sure I was okay with it.

It was a challenge for me, I’d never been this evangelical before.  I was sort of a snob when I arrived in Ada, and when it came to church I had big, huge, snarky opinions which I  always flung upon Kel the second our car doors clicked shut.

But, at some point in the last five years I laid most of my snarky ways down in the flow of the love of God at the hands of his people. When you feel the spirit moving and the authentic, powerful love of God all around you… style just doesn’t matter that much anymore and snark smells awful in your own nostrils.  

You just let God work and do your part to be a member church as much as best you can.

You try to get your snarky, crazy, humanity to make way for the refreshing work of the Spirit. You worry less about what you’re getting and focus more on what you have to offer, how you can give more.

This church provided my bread and wine in every possible way.

When we arrived I wondered if anyone would come to the hospital when I had Noelle, but our church was there, they sent flowers and brought meals to our door.

When my mom died our church was at our door at 1 am with a basket of travel essentials for our arduous drive to Michigan.

They Christmas Caroled our house that year when my heart was too broken to feel the joy of that season.

They were there again when Caedmon was born, laughing with me as we prayed that my bladder would start working and I wouldn’t need another catheter… “Dear Lord, we pray to pee.”  Oh the camaraderie of women and childbirth… it’s a club I love to participate in.

This church has given me so much and taken a piece of my heart that belongs properly in those walls with these people. 

So… Dear Oklahoma, Dear Lord, thank you for this Church on main street, this place where your spirit dwells in the hearts of your people. Thank you for all you have given me here and all you’e taught me to give away.  Dear H2O family, I am eternally and forever grateful for you, you’ve changed our family and we don’t walk away easily.  Amen and whimper.

The “Home Hole” Our Universal Ache

I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams 

Feels like home to me, Feels like home to me, feel’s like I’m all the way back where I belong.

Another airplane, Another sunny place, I’m lucky, I know, But I wanna go home,  I’ve got to go home.

We’re in Michigan, the land that birthed me, broke me and forever holds me captive.

This is the place I know, the seasons I understand: Sundays at the beach with a box of wheat thins and winters with snow suited kids waddling up sledding hills.  Boxes of blueberries, endless evergreen trees and miles of sparkling water.

I’m not saying it’s perfect, driving along the train tracks where my mom died or the street we used to live on still stands my hair on end and steals the air from my lungs.  These streets are haunted by many ghosts, yet still they feel like a well worn hoodie and  jeans.  When I slip into them I feel like the purest form of myself, stripped down and comfortable in my skin, known and loved.

I want to share every bit of this with Noelle and Caedmon, to infuse this cozy Michigan beauty into their childhood memories.

So, what do I pray for?  Freedom from being bound here or a window to return? Continue reading