Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Church

I've had a lot of thoughts about the church this year. I'm not speaking of any one specific church, but the church as a whole, the body of believers. (see disclaimer at the bottom of this post)

It's been basically almost a year now since we've attended any church regularly. We're not a part of any church actually. I've been to three total services at different churches here and there this year. 

I guess this goes to show that you don't have to actually attend church to be a Christian. But, you do have to attend church to have support and community.

My relationship with Jesus has definitely had its ups and downs this year. 
I've been angry. 
I've been sad.
I've been more than sad.
I've been lonely. 
I've felt abandoned
I've been grateful.
I've questioned.
I've pleaded.
I've praised.
I've cried a mound of tears, more tears than I've cried in my lifetime and more than I knew I ever had.

And, I always come back to these three conclusions:
1. God is good.
2. God loves us.
3. I don't have any answers.

I might even say my relationship with Jesus is stronger. Maybe "stronger" is not the right word. A better word might be "different." My relationship with Jesus is definitely different than two years ago. 

My view on the church as a whole has definitely changed.
Church attendance is now a luxury, not a necessity. Yes, Paul speaks of it when He said, "Do not neglect meeting together, as some people do,  but encourage one another, especially now as the day of His return is drawing near." (Hebrews 10:25)

And, I get that now more than ever. The purpose in meeting together is to encourage one another.

That is what I have been missing this year, not being a part of a church.

I've been doing ministry for a very long time, until this year happened. It's been a hard transition from that to where we are now, not even part of a church at all.

If the purpose of the church is to encourage, then the church is not a place, but a people. My church has been friends who have supported us as best they could through this time. It's been difficult as most of our people are located in another state, but I know they've done their best.

I also know that our life would have felt differently this year had we been in a place where our church/people were. That's definitely why we've felt so alone. The church can only do so much long distance.

We've had some local churches stop by and visit, but haven't developed any solid relationships with any particular churches. It's kinda funny because we are open and desperate for community, yet can't find it. If churches truly understood how in need people in our circumstances are, I think the church would look a lot different. Maybe it wouldn't be so focused on programs and church traditions, but on the real job of encouragement and meeting needs. That to me is what the church should look like.

If I could speak anything to the church right now, it would be to seek out people in need. That's what Jesus did. I don't recall Jesus doing anything but meeting needs and out of that was where the ministry came.

Let's face it ... church has become quite a show. Don't get me wrong, I like a good church service. I was the queen of wanting to put on a good show. But, if that's all it's about, we're totally missing the boat.

The show should be secondary to the need.

As we start to settle in to what we hope is a routine (no more hospital stays would be fantastic!), we are in talks about finally being able to find a church. We are so desperate to be a part of community, not part of a show, part of relationship and people to simply love us through this.

This city is filled with churches. It might take us another year to visit all the ones we'd like. But, this time around, I will be looking through different eyes, much older, wrinkly, baggy, swollen, worn out, sad eyes.

** I've been thinking about writing this post for so long, but hesitant because I didn't want to offend any churches at all. Let me be clear that this is not about one particular church. We are incredibly grateful for our church back home who has done everything it could do to help us all the way in another state. We are even more grateful for the friends who have stuck by us through this and not simply abandoned us because you know, "out of sight, out of mind." We are equally thankful for the visits from the few local churches that we have had. This post is about community, which we just haven't been able to have this year due to our circumstances. But, oh how we've longed for it and can't wait to finally have that again in our lives. It truly is the MOST important thing about the church.

With that all said, we are trying to transition from hospital life to home life. That's hard to do when La Petite Belle keeps having to go inpatient. We are out again and hoping it's for a very long time. That may be unrealistic, as some of the doctors have said, but I'm still going to remain hopeful and believe that it can happen.

La Petite Belle's care requires a lot out of Beau and me. Keeping her meds straight alone is a full-time job. We have to wake her at midnight and early morning for some of her meds. That's not fun. None of us ever get a full night's sleep.
This is her meds/supplies/appointment keeper control station. It takes up half of the kitchen counter.

We're exhausted, but would have it no other way. La Petite Belle is exhausted. We travel back and forth from the hospital for clinic visits, other doctors appointments, and dialysis three days a week. We arrive late morning and don't leave until evening. It takes a lot out of all of us, but mostly La Petite Belle.

Our girl remains on dialysis three days a week. We were hoping to see more improvement in her kidney function by now. But, we'll just be thankful that they're not getting any worse. She seems to be adjusting better to dialysis in the actual dialysis unit.

Her gut continues to be the biggest issue right now. With this gastroparesis, we've just added another complication to the gut-healing process. The meds they've started to try to move her gut along may be working a bit. She is still vomiting throughout the day, but the vomiting is less. The docs keep saying the same thing ... "this is going to take time." Not the words that we'd like to hear after we've been watching our baby girl suffer for close to a year now. Enough is enough.

La Petite Belle is continuing to get stronger, even walking a short distances with a walker in the apartment. This is huge! A month ago, she couldn't do that. We are in the process of getting her set up with in-home physical therapy two days a week on the days she's not at the hospital. We're also working on trying to get in-home nursing help several hours a week to give us a break, and allow us to actually get out together and not separately. One of us, if not both, are with her 24/7. We are limited on who we can actually leave her with here due to her complex care.

Thank you again for all your love and support. Thank you, most of all, for praying for our girl.
Please pray for complete gut-healing, kidney health, physical strength, and mental clarity for our amazing girl! Pray for us as we care for her and for God's guidance and provision during this journey.
If you would like to financially support Katie's (aka La Petite Belle) journey to healing, you can find more information here: www.gofundme.com/Katieg.  All funds go to cover medical bills and expenses.

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