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    Dear Gateway Victory:
     
    Welcome to Christmas Holidays. At least I hope it's starting to feel like holidays where you live!

    It sure is here and I want to let you know that I'll be blogging a little differently for this week and next as we all take some time to celebrate and reflect on the season and the year behind us. I'll be posting a guest post or two and, of course, snippets on our Facebook page and on Twitter. I'll also be writing a "Road Map" for each week as a tool to keep us heading in similar directions in our private times with God. (See below)

    You can always stay current on our website as all our services, events as well as the "Twitter Feed",  are on the right of our home page. FYI - Everything we post and say in other places on the web you can find on the Twitter Feed. It's the catch all place for news, inside scoop and what's up. And you don't have to have an account to view it.

    Over the holidays we have services at 10:30 a.m. both on the 22nd and 29th of December. Many people want to come to church over Christmas, so make some invites and let's fill up the room with some new faces.

    Speaking of which, if you're fairly new (or brand new) to our church - WELCOME! We're excited that our paths have crossed and we hope you are finding what you're looking for. Wondering what's next? Click here to check out some next steps to take.

    And now, our very first guest post by Christina Lewis. Christina is an incredibly precious friend to many of us. Thanks for sharing your writing with us, Christina! 

    Rowan
    403.816.1684 - ph/txt anytime :-)
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    Home...
    - a guest post by Christina Lewis

    I remember listening to a Pastor preaching a sermon on
    HOME.  Telling his childhood recollections of HOME being his very favorite place on earth. HOME was the safest place to be fully and completely himself, fully and completely loved.  He could walk through the door, let loose, take his shoes off, maybe undo a his belt a notch, put his feet up, relax, and let all the cares of the outside world roll off his shoulders.
     
    As I listened, I remember laughing (until my stomach hurt) at his hilarious childhood stories of HOME, but at the same time, deep down in my heart, feeling really sad because it had been a long time since I had experienced HOME like that.
     
    Sometimes our childhood experiences of walking through the door of HOME were quite different.  I know it was not always my favorite place on earth. There were times when I walked through my front door slowly, worrying what I might walk into.  Wondering if it would be a good night or a bad one.  Instead of letting loose, putting my feet up and relaxing, there were days and years when being HOME meant more stress than being anywhere else.
     
    I remember this Pastor telling us how he could hardly stand the excitement, waiting to get HOME for the holidays.
     
    I’m not quite feeling that same longing of his, this year
     
    I have to tell you, though, last Sunday, Trevor and I were racing out the door with 15 minutes to get to church (I take full responsibility for the rush as I was having a dilemma between two equally wonderful pairs of shoes…. This small choice of shoes had become a life or death decision…)
     
    Anyway, I was getting unusually annoyed as we made our way down Deerfoot, getting stuck behind Mr. Slowy-McSlowerson in the Civic, then hitting every single red light on Anderson… Seriously! (Usually I am the more diplomatic one on the road… “Trevor, I’m sure that man just cut us off because his wife is in labor, and they are en route to the hospital!”)
     
    Not today, I am on the edge of my seat, keeping my fingers squeezed tightly in a ball, to ensure one doesn’t find its way out to wave at Mr. McSlowerson as we finally blow past him.
     

    (…Maybe I shouldn’t have shared that part.)

     

    As we pull into the parking lot, I open my door… before the truck has come to a complete stop (I know!  What is with me today??)

    I jump out, slightly stumbling to find my footing on the still moving ground (Okay, that part is a joke. I’m not that crazy)

     

    I do, however, bolt for the church door, calling over my shoulder to Trev

    “ I’m going to run, babe.  I’ll save you a spot!”

    “Okay”, he yells back, cramming the rest of a pancake in his mouth

     

    I open the front door to hear the band already in symphony, accompanied by the beautiful sound of many voices.  I turn the corner to see that the house is jam-packed full.  I linger in the doorway and breathe in the warm presence that fills the atmosphere.  

     

    Spotting some empty seats, I briskly squeeze my way into the row, rip off my coat, chuck my purse under the chair, and without even having to think, my arms fall up in the air, as all the burdens from my week roll off onto the ground. The corners of my mouth begin to do this strange curving thing, and before I know it….. Ha Ha! I’m smiling, and clapping!

     

    My body is swaying with a mind of its own, and I’m suddenly bumping into the shoulders of both people on either side as the music takes over and I move from side to side. (Yes, I am that person! Is it just me, or is it absolutely torturous to be sardined in the middle of a row during worship!)

     

    In this moment, it all becomes clear to me. 

     All the angst, I was feeling on the drive to church.

     All that frustration with Slowy McSlowerson.

     The absolute lack of caution I displayed by exiting a moving vehicle…

     Not to mention sprinting over the ice rink in kitten heels!

    As my arms are extended and face locked on Heaven, everything crystallizes in my mind, as I realize, I could hardly stand the wait because...

     

    I was coming HOME!

     

    I could have cried! (Okay, I did cry)  How could I not, when all of a sudden, I realize that I belong somewhere, and I can hear the voice of my Father saying, “Take your shoes off Chrissy (Great choice on the gold sparkly ones, by the way!”)  “It’s time to let loose daughter, because you are HOME

     

    As I open my eyes, tears trickling down, I realize that I have a whole family, some of you I don’t even know.  I don’t have to, though, because we are all at HOME with our Father.

     

    I don’t know what your experience ofHOME has been.  Maybe you have amazing, hilarious, heart-warming memories, like the Pastor did, and that is so wonderful!!! 

    Or, maybe like so many of us, HOME has been for you, a place where there has been some hurt, tension, and stress, a place where you couldn't always be your true self.  Maybe this is especially true for you as the holidays approach.

     

    Whichever HOME you had, I hear the Father, inviting you…Yes, You!

     

    I see Him burst through the front door of the house, run down the stairs to meet you as you make your way up the sidewalk. His eyes shining wildly, His smile beaming. I see Him open His arms, wrapping them around you, and squeezing you so tight you think you might burst. I even see your feet dangling, two inches off the ground, your face looking a bit stunned at His excited display of emotion toward you. You just dangle there, stiff as a board. 

     

    You have no choice.

    I watch Him grin at your awkwardness and excitedly whisper into your ear, “I’m so glad you are here!”

    He opens the door and you slide past him, hit with the cozy warmth of the house.

    The smell of something sweet in the air permeates your senses. 

    You can see the glow of the fireplace, and the twinkle of the tree lights across the house.

    You take a deep breath, all the way to your deepest parts and slowly exhale everything from inside.

    He places His hand around your shoulder, pulling you right close.

     

    “Let Me take all of that heaviness you picked up this week.”


    “I’ll take that coat of guilt and shame.” “Put those shoes of busyness and worry on the shelf.” 

    “I’ll hang that hat of stress, for you”

    “Take a load off, and just to let you know, you’ll be undoing that belt a notch, once you finish the feast I prepared for you!”

    “You are free to be yourself here, child.”  “Free to be fully you in my presence!”

    “There is a place for you, here in my heart.” “Come sit down, put those tired feet up, and tell me what you’ve been up to.”
    He says as he places a, piping hot, peppermint mocha in your hands.

     

    "Welcome Home Child, I am so happy you are here”
     
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    Christina's Bio:

    I am an ordinary girl with insanely passionate dreams! Made up of 95% heart and 5% logic, you will learn very quickly that; I do not just like things, I LOVE them!

    I LOVE to laugh.  If you are funny, or own Home Alone 2, you will be my best friend!  I LOVE to learn, to paint with my words, to create ways to make things stick in my brain.  I LOVE our Home, door open and table full. I LOVE color, flowers, walking, beauty, accessorizing, double digits and children’s books, just to name a few.

    …………..Oh, and I LOVE date night (I CANNOT forget that one!)

    I write about life as an extremely cracked pot, revelations of how incredibly LOVED I am, and my learning’s of finding humor in humanness as I walk out this adventure called life.

    www.soimlearningtowalkagain.blogspot.ca


    Christina
    (Covered in Grace)

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    Sound Track for the Week:

    Big Big House - Audio Adrenaline
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    Road Map for the Week:

    I want to show you how to always return to Joy. Remember "Joy" is our natural state as people who walk with God, and it's a force in our spiritual battle. As we said Sunday, it's how we pull up from deep inside us the answers, provision, revelation, miracles that we need. Like something with air in it always floats to the surface, so you and I can always return to JOY!

    Based on Luke 2, when the angels announce to the shepherds, Jesus' birth:

    Step One: Ask yourself: "What am I afraid of?" ...actually step back even further and try to remember what last "stole your joy" or your peace, or that feeling that God is near? Recall that situation and ask your heart what you're afraid of. Sure as anything, it always comes back to fear. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts here. Better yet, start that journal. ....See 2 Tim. 1:7
     
    Step Two: Ask Holy Spirit: "What is the Good News that Jesus offers me here?" ...ask this next question in relation to Step One. ...this question requires some understanding of what the Bible says about the situation/circumstance that stole your joy. Think of it this way, if God is a loving and gracious father to me, what would He want? If God is good to me (always and extremely), what would He desire for me? ...See Romans 8:31-32
     
    Step Three: Go over the Good News till you believe it ...if there is something hard in getting back to JOY, then this is it right here. As you go over and over, recalling to mind the Goodness of God to you, your heart must actually engage with what the Bible says. This is like someone trying to convince you that they love you - there comes a time when you have to turn your heart and decide to believe them. Then the feelings flow. So convince your heart of the Goodness of God. Go out of your way to find out what God says, to find out what the Good News is about your situation, and then turn your heart to believe. ...See Luke 15:11-31

    Truth is, whenever we follow these steps, the fear vanishes, and the light of God shines. Friend, He loves you so much and in that knowledge, there is no fear (1 Jn. 4:18).

    So here's the Road Map:

    By Wednesday this week, I'm sure there are situations in which your joy has felt drained, and you've questioned God's goodness to you. So...

    Wednesday
    - Go back and make a note of the most significant, joy-stealing situations in your life
     
    Thursday - Go through step one, ask Holy Spirit to show you, throughout your day, what it is that you fear here
     
    Friday - Start step two. What does the Bible say about this (your money, your future, that person, your heart, your safety, your past...?) If you don't know, find out. You MUST learn what the Bible says about what you fear. MUST! Email me, if you're not sure.
     
    Saturday - Finish step two and move to step three. Get your joy back. All of it. Become convinced that what God says is true. Once you do that, in your heart, breakthrough is right around the corner. That's how faith works.
     
    Sunday - See you in church!
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    Connect:
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    Comment

    On Friday, December 20, 2013, said:

    I look forward to these blogs every week. There is such beauty in your post Christina. it had me both laugh and cry and is a piece of art that makes you feel is written just for you. Gods spirit just shining through every word. Loooovvvee it, printed it, and shared it with friends. Thank you so much.

     

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