Facing My Demons #1 – MPPC Main Sanctuary

Note: Since part of the reason I blog is to work on my writing (which I hope to get paid for some day, pretty please!), I am trying to work on my craft with assignments.  Hopefully you will find these little assignments amusing and enjoyable but if not – if you completely don’t get them, please do not worry – I assure you I don’t either.  The assignment for this blog:  incorporating songs – either titles or lyrics – cause my auntie always says there is a song for everything!

Note 2 a: I have a feeling this might be another rather lengthy post, but I beg of you to hang in there with me…and I will eventually get to the point.  I know I can hear you saying, “Are your posts ever not long,”  And I would say, “No.”  You, “Does anyone ever read them?” And I would say, “Mostly no.”  You, “Do you really care?”  And I would say, “Not so much!”

Note 3: I just have to take a moment to say something about the Bay Area.  Supposedly we have some of the smartest people in the world in our midst, people that can put SOOOOO much info on the tiniest piece of metal – yet they can’t figure out a way to build a highway straight thru the city?  Or build more than a 4 lane highway up thru Sonoma?  I just don’t get it personally.

Note 2 b: I just finished and sure enough it is a super long post.  If I was you – which I’m not but I’m just saying if I was – I would print this baby out, sit down with a good cup of joe and settle in for the ride.  And oh – the best part is it’s a cliffhanger!  Even I don’t know how this one will end up…

Okay dokay, I digress…enough with the notes already.  So, where do I begin this post.  Hmm, that is the question?  I think I will start here:  (imagine the squiggly lines they use in movies at this moment)

“Oh my life is changing everyday. Every possible way.” (Dreams by Cranberries)  This couldn’t be more true of my life right now – God has done some amazing weeding and purging of my soul just in the last 3 days, changing my thoughts, my heart and my attitudes – all for the better. 

See this week was supposed to be a “Pilgrimage” (R.E.M.) if you will.  I can honestly say that I feel like “I’ve been everywhere” (good ‘ol Johnny!) in my life, but I’ve been “Dying” (Five for Fighting) to get back to my roots, “Kansas City, Kansas City here I come,” (Wilbert Harrison) – where they have crazily good BBQ, frozen custard, hot nights and lots of fire flies(oh what is the artist of this one)!  Oh, my home sweet home.  I know – you don’t have to say it:  I am not in Kansas anymore Toto – I know I am “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in the land of the fruits and nuts! (Aunt Cindi :-0)  I was going to spend time with my great Aunt & Uncle – the family historians on my mom’s side if you will.  I wanted to just sit in their presence and type up anything and everything that they could remember.  After that, I was going to go on a wild goose chase: I was going to drive down to Ar-kansas (as some of us in Kansas used to refer to it!) to check out a town I have very few memories of, but felt sure that if I saw it – it would spark some sort of “Memories” (y’all know this one!) of the last place my mom was fully herself.  Then, to top off the weekend, I was going to meet up with some ol’ elementary friends – who, get this – were just talking about me, lil’ ol’ me a few weeks ago at a high school get together they had.  Oh, I was so excited for this trip I could hardly stand it.

Yet, it was not to be so…at least not this week.  As if I haven’t learned my lesson enough on how to listen for God’s voice in the last couple of months and especially weeks…God once again struck me down with the start of a bug I caught from a dear friend on Friday.  I thought the reason “I’m so Miserable” (billy ray)…was due to lack of sleep and having to kiss my boys bye-bye for a week.  I was actually relieved to know it was just the touch a flu on one hand, but “Desperate” (David Archuleta, remember him?  I didn’t know he was still around?) to get my self healthy in a matter of 48 hours.  As I sat on my bed praying Sunday, I heard God say “This will not end in sickness…” maybe since I had just listened to the message about Lazarus – you know where Jesus says “this will not end in death”.

Now, I know God can do anything and I was banking on this – and while I did feel dramatically better even by Sunday evening after my nap – I still wasn’t in tip, top shape on Monday.

Long story, short – I decided that KC and AK were not on the docket this time around.  So, what to do with a long week ahead of me with no kids, and friends that are rightly busy with their own lives?  Spend an exorbitant amount of time with God? Check!  Lay around and watch classic Victorian novels turned into movies?  Check!  Write a million blogs?  Check, Check!  Travel all the way up to the Sonoma County Fair to see the David Crowder Band play in their last tour ?  Check, Check check!  What else could I do???

Well, in talking with my counselor, I mentioned I was going to go to church Saturday night cause I’ll be without kiddos, while on Sunday there is no childcare and I won’t be able to pay attention as well to the message.  The one little problem is the only service on Saturday is at the Main Sanctuary at the main campus of MPPC. 

“Why on earth would that be a problem, Holli?” I hear you asking.  Yes, why would that be a problem?  Well, it’s not what you must think – whatever that is.  And I wish I could tell you …and I really would if I could, but then “I would have to kill you.” (Think best Navy airplane movie of all time with good-looking guys and great music and a main star that I don’t think has aged one bit in 20+ years. But I digress, stop getting me off track please y’all!)

No really, I don’t fully know myself – even though I have a better idea after today as to why.  I mean, I had my reasons why I thought this might be a problem.  For some reason unbeknownst to me, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with MPPC over the past 11 years (gosh has it really been that long?).  I love going there, I hate to leave – I hate going there and love to leave – you take your pick.  Something along that sort….

See, I started to go to MPPC when I was dating a certain young man we will leave unnamed.  I would make the long haul from El Cerrito (“what was I thinking?” derrick bently) to Foster City, to Menlo.  Eventually I moved back down to Castro Valley which made it a little easier.  I sat under the teaching of, please forgive me I can’t remember the former Sr. Pastor – and others like Scott D. (by the way – what is it with MPPC and Scotts?  If you are named Scott and are a Pres and you become a pastor – do you have to work there?  Is it a right of passage?) and Debbie S. – who I see every once in a while on the big screen and am so excited is still there blessing us with her beautiful voice!

As things got more serious with the above unnamed boy, I decided to quit my post on the leadership of Network (THE first young adult group in the area back then) at Neighborhood Church in order to join MPPC’s new young adult group The Door.  And after I was married, we did continue to go to MPPC for a while longer.  But then, we moved on – looking for another home church for some reason. 

Fast forward 3.5 -4 years to March of 2006.  I’ve just had my first baby boy and wish I could say I was flying high – but I wasn’t.  I was down right miserable and suffering from PPD big time. That is when I heard of this AMAZING mother’s group at MPPC called Mother’s Together – and more specifically their first time mom’s group lead by Jennifer and Heahter.  These two ladies, along with many other moms, ministered to my soul in the name of Jesus at that group more than they will ever know and more than I can ever thank them.  I LOVED this group of women – and still do and will be eternally grateful for their realness, love and support. 

However, by this time I landed at another large church that was a little closer to home.  While I still attended Mother’s Together that next year, I got the call from God that then was not my time to be at MPPC.  I can remember going into the bathroom off Fellowship Hall and just crying cause I couldn’t understand why God would want to take this group away from me at this point.  I loved it and needed it as a survival tool during those early years.  However, I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that I was not to be there. 

So I left, once again not knowing if I would ever come back. 

But oh, did God have plans for me at this church?  Yes, He certainly did. Stick with me, I promise I’m almost to my point – and it gets really good! 

Fast-forward another couple of years, and I get to see John Ortberg preach at my current church.  I was thinking “Yeah, right.  What is all the big fuss about this guy over my current pastor?”  (Really, I was – how silly I was – a little too prideful if you will.)  And to tell you the truth, I really don’t remember much of his sermon that day – so sorry John – and don’t remember it making a huge impact on my life…but now I knew who this new pastor at MPPC was – that he must be some what okay if he could handle living in Chi-town for a while – and my curiosity was sparked as to what was going on over there.

The next thing I knew, a friend from Mother’s Together that lived in my neighborhood was telling me about MPPC opening up a campus in Mtn. View, right on the corner of my neighborhood.  Again, I have to say I was a little skeptical as to how that would work…and it took me another year to finally go check it out…yet, oh Lordy – when I did I fell in love.  I think it was gradually – as it was a very different feeling and setting.  But I finally felt like I was in that small community I craved at ODCMV (or OCD as it often comes out – but maybe just from me) but had the benefit of a larger church and all it’s resources.  Did I use all those resources – hardly?  But they were there.

So this is where I am going to purposefully take a huge digression for a moment to put a big plug in for my MPPC family.  I think it helps make sense of my point, that I promise is coming later – but it is coming!
First, I couldn’t be more privileged, honored – whatever word I could come up with – to sit under the pastoral staff that preaches and blesses us each week.  While I only know of a few of them – well really just one – face to face – they all seem like family as I watch them up on the big screen every Sunday.  I feel so excited to get to church each Sunday and “sit at their feet” so to speak as they unravel the mystery that is our Lord and His word.

Scott P. is the lead pastor at our campus in Mountain View.  While Scott is a big guy – he is a teddy bear type – and him and his wife are so gentle, kind and caring…even with the craziness of 4 kids!  They really set the tone for our campus and am so grateful to have a chance to join them for worship almost every Sunday.  And recently I guess I have put Scott to the test as I sent him some questions that he told me he would have to pull out his seminary notes for – wow!

Scott S. (see I told you we have all these Scotts, okay maybe just two plus another that has left – but I am sure they are hiding more of them in the back somewhere!) – He is the main guy at Sanctuary, but preaches quite often for us at BIG church.  He keeps us rolling with his unabashedly, witty, self –deprecating sense of humor –even during really hard messages.

Zack A. – is the amazing youth pastor at our campus in Mountain View.  This guy pours his heart and soul into serving the youth at our church, even the elementary ones during the week of VBS.  And it totally shows as we have some AMAZING young leaders on fire for God.  I’ve only gotten to “see” Zack preach once and I will forever remember his gym class soccer example for it comes to mind at least every couple of days.  Interested in what I mean? Check out his sermon on James 3.

Kevin K. – my peep!  Okay, I know he isn’t really – but Kevin is the bomb, which I could say that about all these guys.  Kevin has so much enthusiasm for the Lord when he preaches – I really don’t know how he stays on his stool!  Maybe that’s why he sits, in order to contain some of that energy.  He would probably make it too hard on the camera guy if he was up and moving. And Kevin – I want to meet your mom!  She sounds amazing.  But I guess I first have to meet you!  Oh, and Kevin is our lead for the new Catalyst Project – which I am hoping to help out with at least a little – which will be bringing church to you in the very near future!

Nancy O –  just oozes everything feminine (okay, not the most romantic line, but so true).  She’s real, honest and down-to-earth and just feels like a mother talking straight to me every time I see/hear her preach – which isn’t nearly enough!

Jim C – did this amazing monologue a couple weeks ago about Lazarus that I will never forget.  That and his story about the “booboo” ice pack and his two boys – I still get a laugh out of that seeing I have 2 boys and can totally see the younger one doing that!

Chris S – a fellow Kansas Cityite (sp?)…yippee…except you are from the other side of the tracks.  Okay – I’ll let it slide.  But I hadn’t heard you preach until a couple of weeks ago with Jim – and I will forever remember your grandpa and his tears for you.  And my prayers are with you and your wife.

John O. – the big guy on campus.  Our Senior Pastor and if I had to chose a spiritual father – it would be this guy.  He makes us laugh, he makes us cry, he makes us cry and laugh – but I never walk away from his messages the same.  I could go on and on about Mr. O  – but y’all just need to come and see for yourself what all the hype is about.  And the one thing I admire more than anything else about John is how upfront and real he is about his love for Jesus (how fitting: I forgot the beginning of this message is all about being inspired).  I haven’t seen many pastors get terry eyed, or at least hear the tears in their voice – but John seems to quite often – and that is such a gift to me. 

But more than all the fun these guys and gals seem to have at MPPC – is that they all genuinely love God, love Christ and the Holy Spirit – and they aren’t afraid to show us that love.  You all have changed my walk with the Lord for the better, challenged me to get out of my comfort zone, to raise the bar, to put my idols in the casket, to get rid of my sin so I can hear God, to Hagar (that means to meditate) on the word of God, to learn to seek forgiveness, to be amazed at who Jesus was and how his coming has changed the world, to know that Christ –even while He knows the out come – still weeps and wails with us…and the list could go on.  While the people of MPPC haven’t been the only resource God has used to pull me back closer to himself these last couple of years  – I now see how big this resource has been.  And to think, God has done all of this for me without me really being involved – what will He do for me when I am involved?

And there are others that have touched my life these past 2 or so years since I’ve been back at this church.  There are people that have loved on me – without even me knowing it until recently!  I have met some dear high school girls who continue to amaze me with their heart and dedication to God at such a young age; I’ve met older couples without kids who give to me by teaching and loving my kids.  I continue to meet moms who love on me, even from a distance I feel their prayers; I’ve reunited with old friends and parents of old friends and a BSF leader or two.  Oh, and even some fellow YMCAers that I have the privilege of coaching (do you ever really listen to my music, come Aug 19th for a ride to Toby Mac)  And as I journey into the next stage of my life, a stage where I know many women might find guilt and shame from other churches about leaving their marriage – I have found nothing but love, acceptance and a hand if and when I need it.   God promised me I wouldn’t be put to shame, and I had a hard time believing that before I made the leap to follow Him – but he has been so right.

Now back to the main Sanctuary at MPPC and why it’s a problem and the assignment I was given by my counselor – but really by God.  And that was to go into the Sanctuary, take my journal and my bible and just sit and pray and read.  So I did, and I’m not going to necessarily tell you what became of this very precious and very personal time…at least not yet.  But as I sat there looking up at the big stained glass window reading Isaiah 54 – I saw potentially how God is perhaps fulfilling these verses personally in my life.  Oh, I know you want to know the intimate details – but not yet.  Perhaps you will just have to continue reading my blog to find out what all of this means. 

Yet, for now, most of it is just for me and God….but one thing I will share is this:  Ever since I was a little girl at the ripe age of 7, I have wanted to live in Cali.  Now, as you remember from a long time ago at the start of this pilgrimage, I was born and raised mostly in KC (that’s Kansas City for those that don’t know).  At 7, the only place I had ever been was Kansas, Arkansas, and Saudi Arabia (don’t ask).  But my mom had lived in Cali as a young bride, so I must have picked it up from her.  Or maybe it was my fascination with movies and the Hollywood Stars…who knows.  But I even wrote a paper – if you can call a 7 year old’s writing a paper – that I still have to this day mentioning how I wanted to live in Cali.  It was something I remember again longing for when I would watch 90210 (shameful, I know – but it was BC for me).  And once again, as I looked at graduating and received an offer with a national company that just so happened to have a couple of spots in Cali for me to chose from.  Here was my opportunity and I was taking it.  Since Hollywood scared me as a young believer,  I chose NorCal.  And while I thought I would only be out here a few years and then head back to Chi-town (that’s Chicago for those of you who don’t know), it has now been 12 years and still no end in sight.  And really I have no desire to live else where anymore.  I think I am thru and thru a citizen of the land of the fruits and the nuts. 

So, here is my final point to all this (I know finally – but thank you so much for sticking with me!) – is that what if that desire God planted in my heart way back when wasn’t just to move out to Cali to see the sights and to live and work and marry and raise my family – but what if the whole point of that silly childhood fantasy was because of a greater calling – one in which I am to align myself with the amazing call of MPPC to serve and reach the bay area for Christ?  Did God destine for me to be at one certain church?  And if so, what role among other unbelievable saints could I possibly fulfill?

Could it be that my childhood dream was really a call from God?  I guess we’ll find out!

1 thought on “Facing My Demons #1 – MPPC Main Sanctuary”

  1. Yeah – I just got my first comment….at least thru my email. Hope you don’t mind I’m putting it up here so I can answer you:
    “I read your blog and loved loved loved it.. How do you know so many musicians and songs??? I’m impressed
    I love the blog on Anne of GG !! that is definitely my favorite story/movie”

    I just have to admit I DO NOT know so many songs and artists…but do know how to use the internet to the best of my advantage due to always looking for new songs for my spin classes…once I see a song title it helps spark my imagination and the rest is history!

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