finding the right church for us

Not being surrounded by Christians or having opportunities to dialogue about how God is working in our lives have been hard for Daniel and I since relocating to the Gold Coast. Oh how we miss our Christian community in San Diego. It’s no one’s fault; it’s just the situation we’ve found ourselves in and also seems to be more common here with a smaller population of believers in this city. Or maybe they’re just hiding? :mrgreen: With this significant void in our lives, it was a priority for us to find a church and be plugged into their community right away. Back in San Diego, we were blessed when we came across La Jolla Community Church. We didn’t realize at the time it was what we needed in our lives. Having come from a mega church where we grew in our faith (Daniel accepting Christ for the first time and me, an extremely lukewarm believer), we needed to be accountable, loved, appreciated, and in close community. But more importantly, we needed to be growing in our Bible knowledge, relationship with God, our marriage with Christ as the foundation, and personally so we were becoming more like Christ. Already you can tell that a church and its community had a tall order. For four years, LJCC fulfilled this bill and more. The amazing growth, experiences, and relationships that resulted from our time there have prepared us for our new life here in Australia. We know what we want in a church and its people, and we know we cannot settle. After visiting three churches, by chance I met a mother at a music class that shared with me about her church. I had heard about the church before but dismissed it based on a sermon we steamed. In my discouraged, ready to give up on church shopping for a bit state, we decided it’d be worth a visit anyways. We must persevere and trust God! Our first Sunday visit went well! Zane did amazing for the two hours he was in their childcare. When we returned, he ran up to me and was all smiles and hadn’t shed a tear or whine. There are many reasons we are starting to believe this may be our new church. Instead of going into a paragraph of details, the following are the points we are looking for in a church and how they were met at this church. Please pray for us that God clearly reveals to us whether this is the church we are meant to attend.

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- Meet and have a chat with the pastor
- Moving worship and more than four songs
- Engaging sermon rooted in Bible teachings with practical application and relevant stories
- Organization with systems in place for new visitors, life groups, etc.
- Childcare for Zane that engages him
- Friendly people who are nonjudgmental and striving to live in and for Christ
- Gatherings to encourage community among men, women, mothers, families
- Encourages and inspires us to be alive and growing in Christ
- Congregation includes young families and diversity of ages

Maybe this list may help you in finding a church too. ☺

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it is only a snapshot, not necessarily reality

The word ‘snapshot’ came to me a few weeks ago after a new mommy friend shared with me her observations of Zane being quiet, shy, and close (distance-vise) to me. At first I brushed it off saying in due time, the real Zane will surface, which is an active, boundary-testing, firm in his wants, strong-willed, and independent toddler. Well, we’ve had many play dates since then and Zane has yet to become his true self to them. It got to the point where I felt like I was making up my trials to my new friend and erroneously saying Zane was similar to her child, who quickly became herself with us on day one. After concluding (again) that Zane takes his sweet time to warm up to people, anyone who meets him for the first time (and possibly many times afterwards), will only know him based on the snapshot he offers them. This made me think. Throughout our day and through many encounters, we only see a snapshot of something or someone. And yet it’s easy to assume it’s reality. Following are two examples to better illustrate my reflections. Snapshot of parenting: If I see a mother of three interact with her children with grace, patience, and love, I can easily think she’s got it together and desire to have those characteristics in which I fall short daily. What I need to remember is that I’m viewing a snapshot moment. She may embody those beautiful qualities and act that way all the time, or I may have caught her in a good moment that day, or she could be putting on a show to look good. Who knows? I should view the moment for what it was and not make any judgments about it. The second example has to do with couples. Couples (us included) can be really good at fabricating the snapshot they allow others to see. Just because a couple looks happy and non-combative as dinner guests does not mean that is how they are when others are not around. I have come across so many couples who have joined us for a first double date with Daniel and I following a fight, and if it weren’t for my sensitivity to people’s nonverbals and emotions, I would’ve assumed they were doing “good” and always a cheerful, loving couple. In these cases, the couples intentionally acted a certain way during the dinner date so that the snapshot we observed was different to their reality.

This realization of snapshots reminded me that I never know someone’s reality, even when I know the person well. I cannot make my judgments or give opinions based on the snapshots I see because snapshots can be tweaked by the person/ people involved.

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mixing the old with the new

Tomorrow marks six weeks here. I’d like to think we are adapting well here. Although we didn’t have to learn a new language or move to a developing country, adaptation still needs to happen, especially making this our new home. Many people ask us what we miss, and although we are forward looking people, we do miss our low cost stores in the States and how we could dry clean slacks for $5 instead of $13 here! Despite what we miss (aside from our friends), there’s so much more here. It is a very family friendly city and beautiful recreational areas are free! We also live five minutes driving from the beach! With all this said, it has been essential to me that I’ve needed to bring over my “old” (aka previous stuff and values) to my new home to help my adapting process. Since I’ve been bullet pointing everything lately, I might as well continue in this post.
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A. Beauty supply: I brought over my make-up (two lots each), professional shampoo and conditional, and face wash so that my face and hair didn’t have a shock if I had to try out new products (or buy them at a high cost) in a new country.

B. Clothes, shoes, handbags, accessories: I can only nicely fit into specific sizes that a few stores carry. Therefore I went on a shopping spree for clothes I knew I’d wear a lot here (shorts, tees) so that at least I can feel comfortable and cute with what I brought over. I did the same with shoes. Handbags and accessories are an added bonus because I grabbed the items when they were on sale. ☺

C. Zane’s shoes and toddler products: I grabbed shoes for him in incremental sizes at deep discount prices and shipped them over knowing I don’t need to search for cheap quality shoes for awhile. There’s something about knowing he is wearing comfortable shoes that makes me happy. I also brought over his Thermos food and drink containers, toothbrushes, and Camelbak water bottle knowing they are daily necessities.

D. Unlocked smartphone: My little brother gave me his and it saved me at least four hundred dollars by using it, and of course the time to search for one (at a good price). 

E. Setting up communities: My life in San Diego was rich because of my communities through church, friends, and yoga. All I can bring over to replicate these same communities is use discernment when making choices in each of these realms and not settling.

F. Quality time: My cup is filled up a lot through quality time with Daniel and us having family time. Knowing this, it is a priority for us to make time for it. It may look different from how we did it in San Diego since we share a roof with his parents now, so we just need to be more creative and intentional.

I haven’t really noted anything new I’ve had to adapt to in this post, so maybe I will write that in the future… Until next time. 😁

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