I think the church broke me.

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The title of this post has been dancing around in my head for about a year or more. Crazy, huh?

I honestly do think the church may have broken me.

But that might not be such a bad thing. 

It’s not easy when your season at a place or in a position has ended. It’s not comfortable. It’s awkward and unfamiliar. And that’s where I’ve been this past year. 

Sometimes God has to move us, and He will use whatever means necessary. Sometimes we have to wander around in the desert for a while. Sometimes we have to trudge through valleys that feel so deep, it seems that we’ll never get out. But a good shepherd moves his flock sometimes to make sure that they are adequately fed and watered. And we know that the Good Shepherd will take care of us, even when we don’t understand what is going on. 

I wish I could say that this hasn’t been hard. I wish I could tell you that I haven’t been hurt, because I have. I wish I could say I’ve been gracious about it all, but I’m sure I haven’t been. It’s been painful. Uncomfortable. Awkward. Unfamiliar. 

I haven’t decided what to share. I don’t want to hurt anyone, and I certainly don’t want to call out a church on my blog. I’m still sorting through things, and I’ve found that writing helps me process. Not everyone is a fan of that, but I feel like these things have been running over and over on a treadmill in my mind so that I have to get them out. 

When your home church stops feeling like home, well, it sucks. 

I wish there was a nicer way to say it. There probably is. But if anything else, through this season, I guess you could say that I’m starting to embrace my imperfection. Maybe you could even say that I’m getting really well acquainted with it. Do I enjoy it? No, not really. But accepting and embracing my imperfection makes it a bit easier for a great big God to do what He wants because I’m not fighting to be perfect. Maybe I’m more malleable. I have no idea. But for the first time in my life, I can say, “You know, I’m not perfect” and it not kill something inside me. 

Oh sure, I still wish I was as Christian as a lot of people I know. I still wish I was naturally insanely organized like several people I know. I wish I was the perfect wife and mother. I wish I had my act together, because it surely feels like to everyone else, I look like a hot mess who has never had it together. 

And if I am? So what. 

All I know is, I have been SO hungry for SO long. And if people want to criticize me for not doing it right (whatever it may be), or if they even call me a hypocrite, there’s nothing I can say or do. As one song says, they would be right if they called me a hypocrite. But oddly, this is ok with me because I know the only way I can be anything like Christ is by God through His Son, Jesus. 

But after the past year, I now see how people outside the church see the church. I see more clearly where people are coming from, and why so many people don’t want to go to church. 

It’s been such a season of quietness and dryness. I can’t even fully explain it. I have longed for a heavy, lingering presence of God. I had begun to think that I peaked in my spiritual walk when I was a teen. Putting it out there makes me feel a bit stupid, but it’s hard when you think your best days are behind you, you know? 

So here I am, at 1:42 am, waiting for the laundry to be dry already. I’ve been playing Israel Houghton’s “Moving Forward” over and over on YouTube. For the first time in a long time, I feel sweet Abba’s presence. 

And I’m thankful.

On Judgment

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This has been a pretty dry season as far as my faith goes, and I confess that much of that dryness has been my fault. Rather than pressing in despite not having a church home, I’ve kind of wallowed in all the wrong and have nursed my wounds more than seek healing for them. 

Despite the quiet from me and the dry season, I have learned a few things. 

Most of them have to do with my heart.

Several weeks ago, I was watching my Saturday morning cartoons (aka, Food Network on Saturday mornings). Trisha Yearwood has a new show, which follows two of my favorite shows by 2 of my fav ladies, Paula Deen and Ree Drummond (aka the Pioneer Woman). I watched Trisha’s new show, but then got a bit irritated. 

ImageFor years, I’ve had a problem with her and her hubby, Garth Brooks. Rumors flew years ago that they were having an affair, but they both denied it. 

One night, I was watching the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and they performed a song, “In Another’s Eyes.” Holy. Smokes. The chemistry was crazy. It was obvious they were singing about themselves and their significant others. I have tried to find a clip on YouTube, but cannot. I wish you could see it. 

She/they have been a bit of sand in my shoe. He was married. She knew it. Everybody knew it. And yes, he knew it, too. He doesn’t get a pass. I just didn’t want to support them, even though back in the day, I really liked Garth’s music. 

I was thinking about this when I felt God quietly saying, “Why do you judge her when I have forgiven you?”

…..

Yeah. It’s hard to hear the truth sometimes. 

So I watched again, and I enjoy watching her new show as often as I can. It’s a good reminder of Matthew 7:1-2: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

All have sinned. Every single one of us. We can’t hold others to a standard we cannot maintain in our own strength. And once forgiven, we can’t think ourselves better than others, and perhaps especially those whose mistakes and missteps have been made public. 

The Quiet

Hello, World. It’s been a long time since I’ve written. I’m sorry for that, but the things I’ve been thinking about and the things in my heart might not be stuff that is should be out there. I’m hurt and at times, angry. I know from experience that if you vent your feelings, it might just come back to bite you in the butt. Hard. With force. Years later.

Because if I started getting into particulars, then the flood gates would open. I would spill out my heart onto the computer screen, talking about how hard it was to leave our church, and then the long, lonely road of finding a new church. Plus, this Summer was crazy. It seemed like every time we turned around, we had to shell out at least $300 (almost always, though, around $600) for random stuff that was happening.

Nobody wants to visit a blog that’s all doom-and-gloom.

I will say, though, that leaving a church and finding a new one has opened my eyes. I’m reconsidering a lot of things. I’ve always loved church, but now–as an outsider looking in–I see where we (the collective body) are making mistakes and losing out on bringing more sheep into the fold.

It’s hard, this walking out our faith.

Today is Sunday, and I hate to admit we are home today. I just couldn’t do it. The awkwardness of going to a new place, or even one that we’ve visited a few times. The waiting for God’s presence to come. The messages that seem to be tailor-made as to not offend, which is fine, but I’m asking myself, “Is the church still relevant?”.  I am not saying we need to go out and be radical, in the sense of picketing this or that, or being hateful to “sinners,” because you know? The Bible says we’re all sinners. Every single one of us.

The judgment. The cliques. The not fitting in. The being frustrated and disappointed with a message. The scant presence of the Holy Spirit during worship. The not praying for each other. The not taking care of each other in a time of need. The coffee house in God’s house. (That last one is ok in some ways…. but in some ways, it feels like we’re trying too hard to be hip and cool, or whatever it’s called these days).

Where did we get off track? Aren’t we supposed to be about loving people, and not just members of our church, but Every. Body. The ones that just got out of jail. The alcoholic trying desperately to break free form the chains of addiction. The unwed mother. The homeless guy. The tatooed ones. The ones that look different.

This has been the longest and loneliest journey. I feel as though I’m in a desert, wandering, with no refuge in sight. It’s quiet. I wait. No answers. Just, quiet.

A friend of ours has been encouraging me to write. It’s hard for me to hear and accept when anyone says that my writing is good. That I need to do it more often. That maybe I could be published. It’s terrifying.

I’ve been in a holding pattern for a long time. Doubt is a powerful convincer. Fear of failure. So, rather than running and taking a jump into the deep end, I stand by the edge of the pool, dipping my toes in from time to time, wondering what it would be like to just jump in.

Once upon a time, I was more confident than I am today. I believed that I could do anything I wanted.

I thought I knew what I believe. I thought I knew what church is. I thought I knew what family is.

Somewhere along the way, I lost that confidence. I don’t believe that I can do anything. My best years are behind me. I’m unworthy of doing anything for myself. It seems lavish and selfish. I’m wasted talent, a cess pool of What Could Have Been.

That’s what it feels like, anyway. It’s hard to quieten the negative thoughts, the doubt, the fear.

All of this has come to a head, and I find myself a solitary sojourner. I’m trying to figure out what I really believe about family, church, long-forgotten dreams, and myself.

This. Today. It’s a small baby step. Writing. Tomorrow, I’m going to sign up for a gym membership. It feels like a big thing for me. Monumental, almost. Because I’m trying to really believe that I’m worth it. That I’ll be a better wife and mother for it.

This baby step, it’s hope. It’s a mustard seed of courage.

Mulling a Change

All quiet on the home front due to a wicked storm called a dereche, which is also known as a land hurricane. No electricity, internet or television.

Until I catch up, I’m trying to decide if I want to keep blogging as “WVGurl.”  I don’t think I ever posted how or why I started using that. Way back in the 90’s, I created a Yahoo email account to keep in touch with college friends over the summer. “WVGirl” was taken, so I tried with the “u” and got it. I’ve used that handle ever since.

A lot has changed in 16 years. I’m married and have 2 kids. And for some reason, birthday number 34 makes me feel old. Well, at least older. So I’m wondering if “WVGurl” is still appropriate and/or pertinent.

Several years ago, I snagged “Mountain Momma” on WordPress. Dunno why, but I always wanted that in my back pocket. So I’m considering a change…. what do you think?

It all started with a raccoon at 3 a.m.

A raccoon dropped by at 3 am yesterday morning. It got into a skirmish with the cat over the cat’s food. The adrenaline was pumping and I couldn’t go to sleep. Got up later than I wanted thanks to said raccoon. After breakfast, I told my oldest girl that we couldn’t go to the pool until she practiced her violin (she’s been awful about practicing).  After she practiced, I got the girls ready to go to the pool. The plan was to go to the pool, then take oldest girl to her violin lesson, and then come home to make dinner.  

On the way, Hubby calls to tell me that the van quit and will not restart. While waiting with him for the tow truck, a panhandler tried to tell him how to fix it and started yelling that Hubs owed him $10.

Went with tow truck to garage. Pool time postponed. Ate lunch with Hubby & the kids. Dropped Paul off at work, and since I didn’t have my wallet (because remember? We were supposed to go to the pool and I didn’t want to have to worry about my wallet in the pool bag), he gave me one of his debit cards to get cash for Big Girl’s violin lesson. Turns out, he gave me the old expired one. Several trips back and forth to get the right card and then to an ATM to get money to pay violin teacher.

After violin lesson, we pull out and are cheering, “Yay! Pool time!” Only–the Camry dies. Seriously, within minutes of us leaving our parking spot. It does restart but is rattling. Call Hubs, then pick him up at work. He thinks it’s not safe to drive so he pulls over and calls his dad to pick us up. We wait in 90-some degree weather and are happpy to have a cool ride home.

The garage guys call and say it’s the fuel pump on the van and will be something like $700 to fix. The Camry may have something wrong with a rod (engine, not suspension). We ended up renting a vehicle until we can get at least one of ours back on the road.

Prayers are appreciated.

Mini-Series Review

It’s been a few weeks since “Hatfields & McCoys” aired on the History Channel.

I’ve thought a lot about it. When you look at the mini-series as biographical or historical fiction, it’s much more palatable. It’s not a documentary. If that’s what you’re looking for, they aired one a few days after the mini-series.

The series isn’t supposed to be an accurate portrayal of what happened; rather, it’s a dramatic portrayal. Sort of like the movie, Titanic. If you keep that in mind, it’s much more enjoyable.

Personally, I’d never heard that Devil Anse deserted his company in the Confederate Army. And I know that he and Randall McCoy did not serve on the same side during the Civil War. So those 2 things stuck out to me like sore thumbs.

I’m a stickler for accuracy, so those things bugged me. But I think overall, it was an honest, gritty look at the feud. I think Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton did well in their parts. I was astonished that the scenery looked so much like southern West Virginia, considering it was filmed in Romania.

So that’s it. Now back to our regular programming.  :-)

Hatfields & McCoys

Yes, the feuding families.

Tonight, a mini-series airs on the History Channel. I’m over the moon excited about it.

‘Cause I’m a Hatfield.

Here’s how I fit into the family: 

William Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield >> Robert Hatfield >> Craig Hatfield >> Lula Hatfield >> Gran >> My Dad >> Me

When I was in college, a sweet, dear friend had a funny reaction when we were talking about it. I think she said, “SHUT UP! I thought that was just a cartoon!”

Sadly, that’s what most people’s idea of the feud is. Or, they buy into the stereotypes of “ignorant hillbillies” that are too stupid to let the law handle things, so they took it upon themselves to bring others to justice. Some think it’s an overblown reaction to a fight over who owned a hog.

The reality is, it is much, much more complicated than that.

Lula Hatfield was my great-grandmother, whom I called “Nanny.” She passed away when I was 15. I remember her telling us about the feud. She was old enough that she was still alive when “Devil” Anse & Levicy Hatfield were still living. (Remember, he’s her great-grandfather.)  She told me about how she remembered Levicy coming to visit them. She handed down to us the oral history, not only of our family, but also of our state and country.

I am really, really interested to see if the History Channel gets it right. I’m sure there are going to be things that they took creative license with because it is a mini-series and not a documentary. The documentary will actually air later this week, and I’m really excited about that because part of the resources they used are books written by Coleman Hatfield, who interviewed Nanny. I actually remember his visits. If I’m remembering correctly, he taped her when he interviewed her and I can’t tell you how much I would love to have a copy of the tapes, just to hear her voice again.

If you watch the mini-series or documentary, please tell me what you think in the comments.

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