Well, what a weekend. I have to say that my “OH MY GOODNESS, WHAT AM I DOING IN NORMAN” scaredy-cat moment from Monday night’s drive home was just that: a moment. When I see the OKC skyline as I take my exit toward Norman, my heart smiles. If that were an actual thing, where your heart could smile, mine would make my ribs heart because it gets so big. I know that sounds so weird and it’s highly unlikely anything like that happens, but it feels like it. When I take the exit on to Main Street in Norman, it’s like my breathing returns to normal and ease hits my shoulders and I relax. When I pull into my little, quaint neighborhood, and pull into my driveway, relief hits. “I’m home”. Iconic words for places of special meaning and special places, that if you couldn’t feel at home, you’d be incredibly uncomfortable and displaced.
I used to work in Ministry full time for like 4 years? I don’t know. All the work started to smoosh together, so I don’t entirely remember all the years but I know it felt like a lifetime. When I made the decision to start praying for a way out of my current position it was because I was starting to feel that “wanderlust”, Tinkerbell is dousing me in Pixie Dust kind of feeling… “My time is up here…time to start looking for what’s next.” I didn’t look at other church jobs. I didn’t look at any jobs really. I looked at schools. I had 2 schools open for this Grad School opportunity. One would’ve taken me a couple hundred miles away from my family, and the other just a hop, skip and a jump away. I got accepted to both programs, and ultimately knew I was to move to Norman. (Sorry, Virginia Beach. You and I would’ve been best friends, I know it). Tulsa was my temporary home. It was like Grandma’s house. You always go there to visit during holidays and if you ever drive past you have to stop situations. You love Grandma, but sometimes staying too long just makes you nervous that someone is going to trip over their oxygen tubes and you’ll be the one to handle that situation. But you love to visit. That’s the point. That’s Tulsa for me. I packed all my stuff into a tiny truck and a couple cars and moved to Norman. And again, the relief hit. The breathing became easier. HOME.
I have gone to church all my life. I’ve liked that majority of churches me and my family went to. There was always something special that stuck out to us about each place. My first children’s pastor, Mr. Matt. He, for some reason, liked me and thought I was funny. He was so encouraging and was the first person to ask me to start helping lead kids praise and worship. I was 8. My small group leader Katy Watts (then Olin). Katy was the one who sat in the back row with this crying and pouting 13-year-old whose parents MADE HER get on the youth bus and go to youth group. Katy welcomed me into her leader world and got me seeking others like me out and making friends. Ben Watts (yep, Katy’s husband now) when I was 14 said “Linds, I know you sing! Sing with us! Just show up for practice!” Little did I know, I showed up at the wrong time and had to sit out the first time I was supposed to sing, but Ben had a good laugh and it helped me loosen up and laugh at myself. My bible teacher from Senior year, now the Pastor of Grace, Robb Yandian. Rob and Kelly liked me for some reason and allowed me to babysit for their kids (which, they were my favorite and I was known to cancel plans to play with Alex, Nathan, and Rachel). My senior year of high school was a bit scandalous…lots of rumors about me flying and the only people who knew what was true were my parents, my only friend Vanessa, and my former friends from the last class that graduated. I didn’t drink in high school. I didn’t sleep with anyone on our senior trip. I didn’t lie to get what I wanted. I was probably more of a doormat my senior year, but it was annoying and painful to keep hearing whispers and knowing it’s about you. Robb sat at his desk during our bible class and wrote out 3 pages, front and back, notes about my future and what God is calling me to. He wrote out how I was going to make it out of HS. He gave me a direction and he was right. Then there was my second parents, Pastor Dann and Miss Jalon Lies. Their boys would become my brothers. Daniel (the oldest) and I would on Sundays, take kids to their classes, put their pickup tags on our arms or legs and then go volunteer in the kids ministry somewhere. After church, we had the joint task of keeping Stephen from getting ice cream. Sundays were a dream for me. I loved being with my family and doing pizza night with Pastor Dann and Miss Jalon. These memories don’t just happen. They take place over time. My last church… I poured my heart and soul into that place and when it came time to leave, I took with me the fond moments. The moments I prayed with people, the moments I actually got to use my degree and field and counsel someone. All the things I learned about production because Johnny showed me. All the funny moments I had with the guys in the band. And all the kids I got to spend time with during Midweek. But for whatever reason, I still hadn’t found that here in Norman, until this past Sunday.
I’ve found a church! Antioch Norman, you are exactly what I’ve been dreaming about as far as a church is concerned. The way you worship, the way you minister, the way you live your life… I want to be apart of the movement that is Antioch. Love God. Love people. Change the World. Those are the 3 things I want to do and try to do on a regular basis. I can’t wait for the weekends now. Church is important and one that will make or break you. I can’t wait for my sister to move here and come to church with me. I love this!
Guys, not only do I have a new city, a new house, a new career plan…I have a home church. Antioch Norman.
Go out and find a place to call home if you don’t have one. And don’t listen to the nay-sayers. If someone says “Oh, don’t go there because…” block that out. I mean unless they handle snakes or something. But don’t let someone’s opinion and their experience be yours. I almost let that happen and would’ve missed out on EXACTLY what I was looking for. Be open. Be available. Let God lead and direct you. Chances are, he is, you just aren’t aware of it.