It didn’t know the meaning of the word empty!

Recently my co-worker had surgery, her mobility is limited so she has been bringing in her 10 yr old daughter to assist her; get prints from the copier, deliver messages throughout the office, deliver mail. etc. It has been nice to have her around.
I’ve worked at churches for more than 11 years and working at any church coming with its own unique set of issues. Some church offices are very child friendly and others not so much. Sometimes, it depends on the co-workers. At the first church I worked at, all the employees had children. So my kids spent school days off including summer vacation at the church. I always wondered what it was like for them growing up in the church. A few months ago my 17 yr old wrote an essay for school about a place he feels comfortable. Below is an excerpt from his essay:
A place where I feel comfortable is not always around, it comes and goes. Not because I am insecure, but because I am an observant person. I notice things that make even the most comfortable place awkward. However I have come to learn that accepting things makes it easier to become comfortable almost everywhere, when I was a kid I practically grew up in church, my mom was always there because she worked there. As I grew up the place that was my jungle when I played explorer was my comfort zone, even though it was a big silent sanctuary I could see it come to life on Sundays as if it didn’t know the meaning of the word empty. The church environment is a welcoming one…
 
I love intimacy he describes about being in the church building. What a beautiful impression of his years growing up in the church! He was about 4 yrs old when I worked at that particular church. I’d often find him asleep under one of the pews. Sometimes he and his older sister talk about playing in the children’s Sunday school room and all the fun they had with the other children.
Yesterday, my co-worker’s daughter wanted to help with a ministry event that was happening after work. The church I work at is not her home church but she was excited all day, looking forward to helping. I stopped to see how she was doing on my way to the train. She was smiling, busily working along the church organist and music director. I thought back to my son’s essay… “The church environment is a welcoming one…” may this always be!

Years 6 and 7…Seven year itch?

1999….

So much of 1999 was about mourning the loss of my grandmother and building up to 2000. In 1999, my aunt, a strong Pentecostal woman, offered to do a bible study with some family members, she drove from Milwaukee to Chicago each week to lead the bible study. I decided that this was a good opportunity to hang out with some of my favorite people. I showed up with my catholic bible and my catholic education, after all I went to a catholic grammar school and a catholic high school. I thought, I know the bible, what is she going to teach me? It turned out, I did not know much about the bible or about being catholic. I learned so much from her and about the other women in the bible study.

At the end of 1999, my Pentecostal aunt suggested that we visit a non-catholic church for Christmas. For me as a Mexican-american, being catholic was a part of my DNA and attending a non-catholic church was was a major no-no. But I had learned to trust her, so we went to a church that a friend of mine was the drummer. I enjoyed the service and wanted to return.

2000….

Shaggy and I began attending the new church regularly. It was a charismatic church with a latino flare and made up of mostly people in their 20s and 30s and we loved it! It was at that church that we committed our lives to Christ, we recommitted ourselves to our marriage and committed ourselves to ministry. It was completely life changing. We were on fire for Jesus and nothing stopped us! We were baptized that summer.

I soon began volunteering at the church and was later hired. I had no office experience but I had a willing spirit and a knack for organizing things and people.

We learned so much about ourselves and about each other. We saw examples of great marriages and began laying the biblical foundation for our own marriage.

stephanie baptism 2000                                             

           shaggy baptism 2000