Thursday, August 23, 2012


Palmer went out of town last weekend with the staff of our church to visit Elevation Church in North Carolina. They were gone from Saturday morning to Tuesday afternoon while they observed this church of 12,000 people and how all of the behind the scenes details work. It was really difficult to be away from him for that long and it was almost as difficult not to be selfish and pout about his being away. But when he got home and told me about everything he and the team learned and took home with him, I was so happy that they got to go. He relayed with enormous enthusiasm all of the exciting changes that will be implemented starting THIS Sunday, which sounds crazy but a lot of times "crazy" is what makes things work and what makes things exciting. I hope the fire of passion spreads quickly.

What I've loved about my church, Eastlake, is that it strives to reach people who haven't been reached or have deemed themselves unreachable. 

It strives to reach those people with hope and acceptance, which this world is easily lacking. And it strives to reach those people by being unlike most churches. And "most churches" aren't necessarily doing anything wrong but what a lot of people have experienced is that these churches get stuck in routine and tradition. They get stuck in  the "spiritual vernacular" and the trivial arguments. They get stuck in denominations and drawing alienating lines in the sand. They get stuck in keeping up with expectations and keeping up their own. And when you break it down and peer back into the core of it all, it's useless. It's garbage that makes the church look irrelevant and sterile. 
It makes God look irrelevant and sterile. 
Just by looking into my own life, He is not.

I remember the early evening that Palmer came home from work at his wireless sales job and mentioned to me that he had received an unusual text that day. (Although I remember the moment vividly, I don't remember the exact words of the text so I have to paraphrase ) The text he had received was from an unknown number from an unknown person identifying themself as a pastor that Palmer wouldn't know. (Creepy?) He said he found Palmer through a site I've never heard of and that they're looking for a worship leader and would Palmer be interested in visiting sometime.

We were living in Emporia, KS at the time and longing to move. We were stagnant in every area of our life there. After many discussions and many of my infant's naptimes spent dreamily looking at houses for sale online, we had decided we eventually wanted to settle down in either Lawrence or Kansas City to be near our parents with our growing family. There was nothing taking us to either place though. We owned a house in Emporia, which we were eager to find a reason to sell. Palmer hated his job but there were no openings elsewhere and switching to an entirely different job in an entirely different city didn't make sense. Bella was six months old and uprooting everything to move into the unknown was uncomfortable and didn't make sense. We were happily married, had the baby, the house, the new family car, the job where he was climbing the corporate ladder easily, the church we were a part of from it's beginning, etc. We were doing everything by the "American Dream" handbook and were just completely stagnant.
Another side note  Palmer never wanted his career to be in sales of any kind. He wanted to lead worship. From the first few weeks I knew him I knew that about him. So this text was even more unusual for that reason.

So, here comes this text. Palmer very nonchalantly mentioned the text and my interest was immediately piqued. I think Palmer was ready for it to be nothing so he wasn't as excited as I was at first. But he talked to this guy, Matt, more over time and found it was more legitimate than the random text let on.
We finally decided to visit. Palmer's family has a bi-annual Branson vacation that lasts about a week. We decided we would check out Eastlake on our way to Branson. When we walked through the door it was more exciting than we had anticipated. "Exciting" is the best word I can come up with - it described everything! The music, every person we saw, even the bulletins and signs. It was new and exciting. We listened to the music, which was all new songs to us except one.
 We sat through the talk. We read everything there was to read. We whispered to each other all of the things we noticed were so different. Some we liked, some we didn't know what to do with because it was so different.

I'm not exactly sure how the progression happened, I know it involved a LOT of discussion but on the last day of our trip we decided this was it.
Eastlake was God's next step for us. 

We announced our move to the family that was more shocked and confused than happy and excited. They literally said little to nothing about it, which at the time bothered us but later was totally fine. What could they really say, after all? They couldn't know, nor could we, how big and exciting this was.

Within that next month there was a job opening in Overland Park, KS, we listed our house, started to pack and let our church know we were moving. We couldn't sell the house in a month (and we ended up not being able to sell it at all) so we moved in with my parents in Shawnee while Palmer commuted to work in Overland Park and to volunteer at Eastlake in Lawrence. He did that for the next year until he was able to be hired on as staff.

There are several other untold bumps along the way, like the complications of  basically breaking up with our church in Emporia and how you desperately try to sell or rent your 6 bedroom house from 100 miles away, but that was our defining chapter of our lives. We closed a chapter that ended with brokenness (the confession of an affair, financial calamity, rampant hurt feelings and broken relationships, etc) and opened a new one of complete rebuilding in every sense of the word. We rebuilt our marriage, our faith, our roles in a new and thriving church, how God would use us, our finances, most of our relationships with other people, everything.
The next year was tumultuous and without Eastlake and the church that it set out to be, we would have crumbled. 
Without a doubt.

This church, without anyone knowing it, reached us. I believe in entirety in this place and I long every day for everyone I know to find a place they love and thrive as much as we do here. And right now is when things are going to start getting really exciting.

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