Monday, December 27, 2010

In the year of the Lord

(This is one of my favorite pictures..taken just two weeks after we got there, Emry was not even two and mailey only 3..I was five months pregnant and so full of the unexpected. No idea what the gender of my baby was, no clue what the year would hold, so unsure of how to navigate so far away from my family....)

It’s been a year of complete juxtaposed emotion and circumstances. A year that in retrospect seemed to have lasted a million lifetimes; not because it dragged on, but  quite the opposite, because so much happened it seems impossible it took place in just 12 months.
Pioneering has done things to me that I could not have ever fathomed. I have wanted to write about it for awhile…but I find myself so hesitant to write anything about our church etc…because I’ve realized that so much of my perspective on what is going on, is so based on my current emotional state. So the joys and fears, the highs and lows…they don’t reflect honestly, what is reality. However, as the year concludes, I don’t want to forget it, and this blog is my online journal. So I’m going to take a moment to reflect and dissect it; To try and wrap my mind and vision around what is happening here in Chico.
When we first got here I was full of expectant and na├»ve dreams. I had such a young and immature view on pioneering, despite all my insisting that I didn’t have fanciful visions of what pioneering entailed. In fact, I did. My parents had pioneered twice, and I had seen the physical labor it required, had experienced the persistence it required, I had LIVED in the hectic stress of a pioneering family. But I had never encountered the spiritual battle…the demonic warfare that would fight constantly and painfully, everything in my soul and heart and mind. I hadn’t a clue.
As we began we to build a church we started in our little 860sqft apartment. I was five months pregnant and we had a three year old and an almost two year old. We started by first inviting everyone in our complex to a bbq and bible study in the complex park area. We had a two ladies bring their children, two boys and a girl. We had two young men come…we were filled with so much hope and joy…for our first try that was pretty incredible! I remember being so completely overwhelmed and unsure, because one thing about this job, you have got to keep a positive, energetic front up. And it IS A FRONT. Lets be honest right now. Outwardly I would be smiling and energetic, I would be talking and socializing and keeping everything going smoothly, but inside…inside I was shaking and my tummy was in knots. My mind was spinning in a million directions, doubt and fear that these people were uncomfortable and thought we were freaks, would start to make me feel like I wanted to just go back home. But I, WE, carried on and the ride started to smooth out.
Then we moved to services in our apartment rec room. And the shaking doubt came back. I remember my grand idea that our first service would be just like that first bbq…but people who would GLADLY come eat and socialize, balked at the idea of a service and real church…and that first service, one guy came who reeked of alcohol and urine, and a girl wandered over with her little baby. That service still brings a smile to my face. I had gone to the dollar store and bought these funky star balloons to tie to our sign, I had bought yummy things for a bbq after, and made sure to buy enough for twenty so that God didn’t think I was doubting how successful we would be (insert major laugh). I remember the hectic chaos of setting up our sound equipment while our two toddlers ran around causing havoc with the water fountain and free coffee…oh my! it was chaotic.
And then I remember sitting in the little room next to it, trying to keep Sarita’s baby from crying so she would stay in service. I remember Johnny (the transient who came) immediately taking his shirt off as soon as service was over…I remember talking to her and all the while I just wanted to go home and take a nap and forget the service had been so exhausting.
The next few were even rougher…we had our third and I believe final service there, and only an old lady came. She sat there smiling as we sang and powered through the song service with our kids, and then during the sermon Mailey made Emry mad and Emry hit Mailey, and they both started crying at the top of their lungs, so I rushed them out to the bathroom and as I barely contained my anger I threatened every toy in their room with imminent death if they did not shut their screaming little traps and sit nicely. I was about to snap…if you’ve never sat in a service with your two squirmy kids and only one other lady while your husband tries to preach and ignore the fact that he’s preaching only to his exhausted wife and an old lady (wow, ladies and gentleman that is called a run-on sentence)..Well, I highly recommend it. Truly, it makes you horribly aware of who you are and how much you need God. Anyway, I got them both to settle down in about a minute and drug them back out to find my husband standing at the pulpit looking like he was about to vomit. When I had walked out, the old woman had walked up to the front, handed my husband a couple bucks and walked out. She was the only one there, and she walked out.
Can you imagine? It was awful…that morning we had just found out that a man in our congregation back home had committed an awful suicide and so the day had already begun to sour…and then it quickly spoiled….we didn’t really speak to each other, just quietly packed up and went home. In fact, I don’t think we even spoke about it that whole afternoon…it just sucked so badly to be honest. I think we decided then we needed to find a more fruitful location..the apartments we were at were owned by "Christians", but we have quickly realized, the religious crowd is the greatest enemy to a true Christian trying to save perishing souls. And they very soon began to do everything they could to make it impossible for us to use the facility in any way.

I’m going to continue to write more this week…I need to just remember this year and document it…if you’re one of those sorts that thinks its distasteful for a pastor’s wife to be honest about what she’s going through, then go ahead and navigate away from this blog…because I don’t really care what you think. This is MY BLOG, and I really need to do this. I wish someone would have done just this, that I would’ve been prepared for the actuality of what I was about to endeavor on…that I would’ve known how much of an actual BATTLE it is…so this is just for those women…who want to hear the painful stretching and shaping that happens, and the tremendous soul healing joy that comes as well…
More tomorrow…


Patti said...

can't wait to read more! the nice thing about pioneering? you get to be part of a fun club of half-crazies who "get it". the couple years we were in mac recovering from the battle field allowed me to feel what the people back home were..a respite from the storm. there is still a battle for anyone who wants to live for God, but it is nothing compared to the assault the devil launches against a pioneer pastor and his wife. nothing. that respite made me realize- i wasn't really losing my mind pioneering- it was just an assualt from hell. that gave me something to hold onto for the next time we went out- a memory of the calm, and a reference point: God was in the storm. even when i didn't feel Him.
so hold your head up proudly, breathe a nice big sigh of relief, cuz the devil doesn't kick a dead dog. you ticked him off when you went to chico, and that's what the mental assualts are all about.
you go girl!

lacy myers said...

I'm so excited to read more, Soph. It's an honest, breath of fresh air. You've never been one to sugar coat things...that's one of the many things we love about you! Keep it up, my friend. I love you, miss you terribly and pray for you. Everyday.

Kelly Marin said...

Looking forward to more of this, its so interesting things that are so close to home. Isn't it funny(not in a haha way) like you said you have been there before as the pastors kid and so you think ok I can do this but its a whole differt world as the pastor's wife. I think the horrendous assults were the biggest shock to me! The blessing of it is our kids are sheltered and covered by the Grace of God just as we were.

aly win said...

Sophie: you are such an insperation. You and your family are fantastic ! I cant not even wait to read more! PS. Tristian had to quit the bux cuz her husbands schedule changed. you should keep her in your prayers; pregnancy, financially, all that jazz. XOXO AL

Anonymous said...

I LOVE your blog, Sophie. I hope there is a way you can save this to have for your lifetime. . . you should write a book! Truly, you are so articulate. I just found a letter I wrote to Pastor M. five pages long, after my first year in Yuma. I never sent it. But it felt really good just pouring out my heart . . . Its CRAZY! God only knows exactly how crazy it all is . . . but its all for Him and all because He went thru so much to save US! I remember sitting out on my back porch after one distinctively horrible Sunday morning service and saying to God, "this isn't fun!" And His reminder to me was that for Him coming to the earth wasn't too much fun either. You are in good company! Your precious fruit will make it all worth it someday. "And they that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars forever and ever." Grammy Zhanette

Ashley said...

omg. I read this yesterday and was completely captivated by your story. I usually only check your blog like once or twice a month. But I couldn't wait to come check it again tonight! (expecting another post.. sigh.. but alas.. none. ha! hurry up!) like i said. you need to write a book. This is actully very good for me to hear.. cuz i kinda have the same story as you being a pk. Thinking I know what to expect, etc. always prayin for ya girl! love ya

Pressed Petals said...

I finally have time to read your blog and glad I do. Thanks for writing this. As a pillar in our church, I love to hear honest accounts of pioneering, ones that give glory to God through it all. It helps me to hold the fort and fight along with those who go out. There is a way to keep your blog. I am sure you've seen/heard of those books you can put together. I will have to look it up for you. Off to read the next post. ;)

Jodee Jones said...

Hi I found your blog by accident. Your pioneering life sounds a lot like mine. We where in Phoenix for 10 years and it was a struggle. We got sent out young and had 4 kids within our first seven years in the ministry. This endeavor made us strong and taught us a lot. Now we are pioneering in South Africa and when we came our youngest was almost 3. It makes me feel better reading your story I always say that people just need to stay real. Jodee Jones

TheFoleyFive said...

I was so excited to read your comment! Do you have an email address? I would love to hear more from you..what part of south africa are you in? We've always had such a strong burden for madagascar!! what a small world!!!!!
my email is if you want to get in touch...and i hope you do!
thanks so much for reading my blog :)