Winter beach day

Last night I was on a mission. I was going to find our church.

I spent quite a good bit of time online comparing websites of local churches. Church doctrines and mission statements. I also spent a good deal of time researching the different denominations, trying to see what church would best suit my beliefs and our family. Ultimately, I know we just have to go out and try a few different churches to see what feels right. But part of me hoped to find one online, fall in love with it, and feel at home before we even stepped foot into the building. If I’m going to be brutally honest, I asked God to leave me a note on my kitchen counter to tell me where to go…

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But neither of those things happened. I now have a few in mind to try, starting next weekend, but I’m still not sure. And I think that’s ok. It’s a process.

But last night, I had worked myself into a frenzy of finding the church. It seemed so necessary, and so urgent.

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This morning, it didn’t seem so urgent. This morning what seemed urgent was all of us getting outside to breathe some fresh air. Salt air. I woke up remembering words and pictures that friends have recently posted about waves, rocks, salt air breezes and gusts. I had mentioned a few days ago to Lucas that I wanted to take the kids to the beach. {I’m omitting the part where he looked at me like I had three heads and thought I was a lunatic for wanting to brave the beach with the kids in the winter…} There’s one near us that’s a little protected from the elements, and there is nothing better for the soul than a walk on the beach. In any season.

So we went.

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We walked, picked up rocks and seashells, smelled the salt air and felt the sand crunch under our winter boots. We took deep breaths and held hands. We walked together, separately, then together again when Fynn called hey, wait up! or wait for me! Paige rode on her daddy’s shoulders, pointed at seagulls and directed where his feet took them. It was one of those beautiful chilly Sunday mornings that you can’t anticipate. They just happen.

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Years and years ago I attended a Congregational church with my father. I sang in the choir {shocking… my kids will one day laugh their heads off if they find out!} There was one church member, I think her name was Marion, but I can’t be sure. I forget how the topic came up, but I remember this vividly. We were standing in the basement meeting room, dawning our red choir robes that smelled of moth balls and whoever wore it the previous week, when she touched my arm and asked me to remember something. God hears you no matter where you pray, no matter where you worship.

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That’s the key. My search for a church, for a community to worship in, will happen. And I’m guessing it will be fruitful. But ultimately, He hears me. Whether it’s on a beach, in our little two bedroom apartment, or in a gigantic church. He hears me.

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21 Comments

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21 responses to “Winter beach day

  1. I love this. Why would God care where you remember him, as long as you do?

  2. Oh, Corinne, you have brought tears to my eyes: both with nostalgia for New England (these photos just slay me!) and with the resonance of the idea of worshipping, of finding faith, in nature and in family. Just lovely.

  3. i was kind of wishing for the beach today, too… but we didn’t go. i am hoping to have better resolve next weekend! good luck church searching. not easy… but you are right about God hearing you… no mwtter where you are 🙂 one of my favorite kids books… can i pray with my eyes open? it is beautiful! know… He may just find a way to leave you that note…happy sunday 🙂

  4. Oh just beautiful, Corinne. You know how I love the winter beach, so it’s no surprise that I love your pictures and the words you paired with them. And I have to admit that many times I have felt God’s presence stronger at the beach than in a church. I have often heard His voice louder on the shore than in a pew.
    So glad you found the spiritual rest you needed among the sand and sea this morning.

  5. Your posts always touch my heart. This was beautiful. Sounds like you did just what you should on Sunday…love and teach your children and recognize the beauty of the earth that God has given us and spend so time talking with Him. I hope that one day you find a church that makes you feel at home. In the mean time, I think Sunday service on the beach is a darn good idea.

  6. So true. I’ve visited a number of churches (back when I really cared to) and was really put off by the whole “salvation” thing–that is, being asked if I was saved or not and, depending on my answer would either try to “save” me (convince or argue me into acceptance) or ignore me if I said I was “saved”. Over the years I found that I subscribe to the Anne of Green Gables religiosity and would rather go somewhere that speaks to me and “feel a prayer” than sit in a pew. (Whew! I really censored myself there!!!) Happy church hunting. 😉

  7. I’m kicking myself for not heading out to the beach today. That would have been the PERFECT thing to do. I love a chilly adventure with the kids. It’s so good for the soul. Looks like you had a beautiful (and meaningful!) day.

  8. Oh wow…these photos are absolutely breathtaking. That one of the tree branches against the brilliant blue sky is stunning.

    I hear you, on wanting to find a church that’s the right fit for you. I’ve been searching, in fits & starts, since I left college. It gets discouraging, so I stop looking, and time passes…and suddenly I start feeling the need again. I attended services at a Congregational church several times that felt like it could be home…but it’s up in New Hampshire, over an hour away from me. So I know the right church is out there…and I’ll find one — hopefully much closer to home — someday…

  9. I’ve often thought that my Sunday morning runs (which I haven’t gone on in a while, sadly) were my own version of church. I totally agree that each of us connects with God – whoever that is for us – in our own way and our own place.
    Your morning sounds, and looks, truly divine.

    • Nicki

      I have a friend who, due to his work schedule, does his long runs on Sunday mornings. He readily admits that is when he talks to God.

  10. I gave up going to an actual church building some years ago. I was raised in a faith that wound up not really suiting me. So I kind of made up my own little amalgamation of eastern philosophy, Thoreau, and being outside. It works for me, far, far better than the traditional “going to church” ever did. Do what feels right for you and for your family, where it feels right and how it feels right. I think it’s better to live a good life every day, then to be sure to sit in any particular building for an hour a week. I believe God will be happy with that. =^)

  11. I’ve requested a few countertop-notes from God, too. -smile-

    He surely is speaking to you in quieter ways, out there on that beach, isn’t He? Seems He’s given you reminders that He is guiding and ever-present.

    That’s the feeling you’ve given me, anyhow, as I look at those pictures, and think of our Great Big God and how He pieces this beautiful world together. He is worthy of all of our worship and praise. And I pray tonight, that He guides you in a clear direction.

    Thank you for your beautiful post.

  12. Nicki

    The photos are gorgeous. They remind me of a November when I spent some time on the NH coast.

    I couldn’t agree with your friend from your youth more. While I love going to church and have blogged about it frequently, it is the community I long for, the connectedness.

  13. Really beautiful stuff. While I’m a believer in having a church home, there is something about a sanctuary that can compartmentalize your faith. Yes, you are utterly in tune with God as you worship. But somehow it makes it easier to forget to see God in all the other places in your life where He is also present.

    Finding God should be so simple. And yet, to me, it has always been fleeting and complicated. Perhaps the window through which I look for him is too narrow. Perhaps I should find your beach!

    Thanks for a lovely post.

  14. Love the beach anytime of year!!

  15. So, so, true. And I love the beach, even in the winter. Going to school right along the shore, I would walk it year round. And pray. I think I often feel closer to God when I’m surrounded by His creation than when I’m in a building with the words to worship songs scrolling on an overhead projector.

    I hate church hunting myself. It took us nearly a year to find a “home” up here in NH. And when we did find it, it was the place, the people, and the feeling of being needed, useful – that kept us. It certainly wasn’t the building – which is in the basement of a daycare center. (Though, by Easter, we’ll finally be in our newly purchased building – woohoo!) 🙂

  16. Funny, but I used to sing in the choir too, and now could barely carry a tune.
    For a long time, I rebelled about going to church. I didn’t want my children to see the hypocrisy I had seen growing up, and lose sight of God. Slowly, I am turning around.

  17. So true. One can have a deep and meaningful relationship with God without church. I think the power that church brings into ones lives is the communion with other believers. Obviously, church is meant for teaching you about God, but you can get that online or on TV. What I find important about attending church is the relationships you form with other Christians. I hope, so very much, that my family will one day find that “church home” I so want. And I hope the same for you.

    Nell

  18. I love that you’re sharing this. You are not alone.
    I echo some of your feelings. As you know, I find most “thin places” are outdoors.

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