January 14, 2016
by Jenny Pedersen
4 Comments

My Sweet 16

January 8th was my 30th Birthday! It was a great day! It started with getting my nails done with mom, and then Brian planned a date for me that included going to the Living Room (where we had our first date) to get a Chai, because, well, I always want a Chai, and to read me a sweet Birthday letter. Then he took me to Cinepolis (an incredible theatre with very comfy overstuffed recliners for seats and a personal waiter) to see Star Wars, followed by a delicious dinner at Searsucker in Del Mar with yummy Basil infused Lemonade, a delectable desert, and a pretty necklace for my gift. We had so much fun.

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
You may be wondering why I titled my post “My Sweet 16.” In April, I got a prophetic word about my 30th year of life: “2016 will be your Sweet 16. 2015 is going to be hard, full of ups and downs, high and lows. Life seems like it’s not clicking, but God is cutting off corners and smoothing out the rough edges of your life. There will be much stretching and growing. It will not be easy. But be encouraged, your Sweet 16 is only 8 months away. You can do it. 2016 will be a great year.”

It was one of those words that has been strangely accurate. It actually epitomized what last year was like.

29 was a good, but challenging year. I got married in February, which was the fulfillment of a lifelong desire, but then I had to get used to being married, and it had its challenges. In those first few months, many wounds, insecurities, and weaknesses were triggered. It was like looking in a mirror and seeing my selfishness. I did not like what I saw, and had a very hard time processing what was happening to me. God drew near and poured out healing waters on my fractured soul. He brought the Gospel to the places that needed transformation. I discovered the beauty of covenant, and the power it has to enable a spouse to love the other in their weakest moments. Brian was such a strong source of love and truth as I wandered through that season. Things really clicked for us about 5 months in, and since then it has been pretty blissful. I truly love being married.

We switched churches shortly before we got married. It changed a lot of my friendships in a way I had not anticipated. In many ways, it felt like I was experiencing the biggest event in my life alone. I was married, but somehow lonely. (Have you been there?) It was strange going to church and not really knowing people. Sure, I knew some names, and recognized a lot of friendly faces, but conversations did not run much deeper than a smile and the typical, “Hi, how are you?” in between services. I often had the thought, “I miss being known.”

God showed me my responsibility in that, however. For one to be known, one must be vulnerable. What is the point of relationship if we cannot show our truest selves? I realized I have a hard time being vulnerable with people I do not know. I will get real and raw with someone I know. Someone who is safe. I will be vulnerable on my blog because I have no idea who is reading it, nor do I know what you think of what I write. (Unless you leave a comment J Please be nice.) But new people? Strangers? People I have just met? What if they judge my weaknesses? What if they don’t understand me? (Which is what I have felt most of my life – misunderstood.) What if I divulge the raw parts of myself that are in desperate need of Jesus, and they criticize me? I was getting enough practice being vulnerable in marriage; I needed safety and security in my other relationships. And guess what? I did not get it. Familiarity and closeness seemed completely out of reach last year. I had no choice but to reach out…take the risk of rejection and put my truest self out there – mess and all. I got mixed results. I took that risk at a Women’s conference with some older women. I bared my soul, desperately needing encouragement and the reassurance that I was not alone. I took the risk, and was missed. Big time. But there were other times, like at our first Life Group, where the risk was well received, and so worth it. That group had just 3 couples, including us, and was the perfect environment for me to be transparent, and then so wonderfully encouraged and accepted. I was learning how to be known.

I also adjusted to working at a new salon, which is a huge change for a creative like myself.

SOT started in September. That, in and of itself, has had some highs and lows. Our schedule went from blissfully simple and open, to maxed out and full. It was a huge adjustment. Through this school, God has pierced me with His Truth, revealing and obliterating lies I had always believed. SOT also became another tool God used to reveal the places in me that need Jesus. In other words, my flesh, lack of faith in certain areas, and woundedness were once again exposed. Things I did not want to see. But things have to be seen, before they can be changed, right? How can you change what you do not know? It has been one of those seasons that has been very fruitful, but painful and stretching at the same time. Just like that prophetic word predicted. Now that we are half way done with SOT, new friendships are budding and I have enjoyed getting to know more people at our church. I thank God daily for leading us to All People’s. Every Sunday feels like coming home.

Some highs of 2015 obviously include our Wedding and Honeymoon in St. Lucia, and a few small trips to Chicago, Boston and Mexico. We had a great first Christmas, and had so much fun decorating our first apartment together.

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
Now that 2015 is over, I am incredibly grateful for God’s foresight. He knew I needed a warning about what that year would entail, but also encouragement for what this year would bring.

My Sweet 16.

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October 27, 2015
by Jenny Pedersen
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School of Transformation

My husband and I are students in our church’s School of Transformation: a yearlong program that focuses on character development, missions preparation and outreach, serving, and studying the Bible. The end of the year will be completed by an overseas missions trip!

SOT is a huge commitment. Class is on Tuesdays from 6-10pm, and one Saturday/month from 9-5pm. We also serve every Sunday from 7am-1pm, go to every church event, attend a Life Group, disciple someone and be discipled weekly, and have Facetime (devotions) first thing every morning. There is also homework. We will read through the whole Bible, read 13 books and 5 articles, memorize Scripture every week, and take a midterm and final. It is basically like adding a part-time job to our already full lives. Most nights look like this:

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
We have committed to this school because we want to be transformed and have simply said, “Lord, come have Your way.” Since I plan to write a lot about what God does this year, I want to share with you about my background and our journey of making this decision.

I always thought I would get married when I was 20, have six children by 30, be a stay at home mom, live in a nice house with a picket fence, take great care of my children, love my husband, and lead a Bible study. That was all I wanted. I did not believe I was capable of more, nor I did not want God to make me uncomfortable.

Then I gave my life to Him, and He had a different plan in mind. About a year before I met Brian, God began speaking to me about my calling, and revealed that He had more for me than a white picket fence in suburbia. While “something more” sounded nice, I was completely blind-sided by not having a plan. I did my best to trust God with the new unknowns of my life, but I must say, it rocked my world.

Then enters Brian, tall, blue-eyed, and charming, telling me on our third date that he believes he has a nations calling, and asking me where I saw my life going. I shared that God had been speaking to me about “something more,” and I hadn’t the slightest idea what that meant, but for the first time in my life I was open to anything He wanted. We weren’t sure where our lives would go, how they would mesh, or what God’s plan was. What we did know was that we were both fully surrendered to His will for our lives, and we wanted to follow Jesus, hopefully together.

We had been married just four months when we started considering doing SOT together. Brian had already done a similar school through Vineyard, but he began to consider doing it with me so that we could build a strong foundation for our marriage. Right about that time, another company approached him with a potential management position (something he had always wanted) that would include a large pay increase. This job commitment would consume his time and leave no availability for any interests outside of work. I was going to do SOT regardless, but we both knew this decision between the new job or doing SOT together would set a course for our lives.

Initially, when Brian told me about the job, I felt nervous and hesitant. The job sounded like a huge commitment, and I was unsure how that would affect our marriage and future family. Brian, however, felt excited and optimistic about the opportunity, sure that we would figure out a balance. We had different perspectives and opposing opinions, and were basically thinking of ourselves. How was God going to bring unity?

It went something like this:

  • I wanted what I thought was best. Brian wanted what he thought was best.
  • Then we submitted to each other. I became fully surrendered to either path, and was prepared to make any adjustments necessary to support whatever my husband wanted to do. Likewise, Brian became equally submitted to what I desired, and willing to put aside his desires in order for us to be in agreement.
  • I wanted what he wanted. He wanted what I wanted. Still wanting opposite things.
  • We laughed about that. But then didn’t know what to do.

We talked about it a lot, prayed about it profusely, sought counsel and waited. Through that process God worked in both of our hearts. We did not sense Him leading us either way, but we felt the guidance of the Spirit leading us to covenantal unity.

We went from being on opposite sides, standing for what we wanted individually, to completely dying to ourselves so that the other person would be honored. God was less concerned about what choice we made than He was with the process of making the choice. The position of preferring ourselves was transformed into a posture of preferring each other.

Obviously, we decided to do SOT together, and Brian did not take the job. Now that the decision has been made and school has started, I have discovered some interesting things.

If Brian had taken that job, I would have had the life I always wanted. It would have provided stability and I probably would not have had to work. It would have meant we could buy a house. But it would come at a cost. He would work limitless hours, have little free time to do the things he loves, and severely limit our time together as a family.

With his current job, although it is full-time, it offers some flexibility and work/life balance, enabling him to do ministry, spend time with people he cares about, and allow us to do SOT together. We make enough, although I will probably work a few days a week when we have kids, and we aren’t sure if we will ever be able to buy a house. I had a lifelong dream of going to Paris with my husband. We even made a pinky promise when we were dating that we would go to Paris before we had kids. I do not know the future, but it seems like the Paris Dream Trip will now be an SOT missions trip.

Doing the School of Transformation is definitely a sacrifice. We are giving our time, money, sleep, and even turned down a great job opportunity to be a part of this transformative journey. It has set us down a path in which the ending cannot be seen. However, the reward is so much greater than the sacrifice. Already, SOT has been a very rich blessing and bonding experience for us as newlyweds. The Lord is taking us deeper into intimacy with Himself, and with one another. We are learning lessons about forgiveness, stewardship, and continually dying to self. I realized deep down, I long for more of God than I do for material comforts. What we are gaining has greater value than money and a mapped out life.

 

 

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September 24, 2015
by Jenny Pedersen
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Boston Trip

This post is a month overdue. So I’m a little late, but later is better than never.

We had a fantastic time in Boston. What a beautiful city! Brian had to go for work training, and all we had to pay for in order for me to go was my food. It was like a free vacation. Well, for me anyway. Poor husband was working most of the time. I was able to explore all day and then we would meet up at night and enjoy the city together.

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
I love exploring new places. It brings out the adventurer in me. On my first day it was raining, unfortunately. While I do enjoy the rain, Boston is a walking city and I just did not pack accordingly. I decided I would make it a museum day, but of course, the museum I wanted to go to was closed. Sigh. It was not just a little San Diego mist; it was a Boston downpour! I was absolutely soaked to the bone. Far be it from me to let a few raindrops ruin my day! I headed to Cambridge, where the famous Harvard takes its residence. It is a beautiful campus surrounded by busy streets lined with cafes, restaurants, and shops. The architecture is fantastic, and it made roaming around in the rain fun.

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
We stayed at the Lenox Hotel, an absolutely stunning building that was built in 1900. Located in the center of Back Bay, a trendy and thriving hub for food, culture, and fun. Newbery St, one of Boston’s finest avenues, was a stone’s throw from where we were staying, enabling us to enjoy many fine walks. (The pic below was the view from our hotel room)

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
Boston is a tea lover’s paradise! There are Teashops everywhere. Everyday I would pick one (or two…) to try a new tea and people watch. My favorite was Tealuxe, a sweet little store that had booths, texture, culture, and a spiral, stone staircase. It is like a healthier, less sales driven, and less mainstream version of Teavanna. There was a wall of tea décor across from the wall of tea itself. There was 90 teas to choose from!

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
As you can imagine, it took me a while to decide. I made friends with the people on staff, as I do with any tea-lover I encounter. I find we often have more in common than just tea. Of course I had to bring some my favorite tea home. Tea from a new city is like a souvenir. Another favorite café was called Thinking Cup. There, I met a man who holds the world record for being the oldest person to run a marathon on every continent. He was very friendly, and full of stories that were decorated with his classic Boston accent. He lived in San Diego for a few years about which he said, “I don’t like the weather. It was too boring. The same every day. And the people there are so individualistic. Not ‘us and we,’ but rather ‘I and Me.'” I couldn’t argue with that.

I went to the historic district, walked the legendary Paul Revere Freedom Trail, and even saw his house. It was quaint, unique, and rich in age. He had 16 children! Did you know that? I didn’t. The Freedom Trail was definitely a highlight of my week in Boston. It was stimulating, enlightening, and quite heavy laden with tourists. There were people everywhere. But it was a good experience nonetheless. There is literally a red brick trail that takes you along Paul Revere’s journey, which includes many famous iconic landmarks in Boston.

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
My absolute favorite place was the Boston Public Garden, an oasis in the middle of the city. Plush with weeping willows and a breathtaking lagoon, it is no wonder so many workers find solace there during their lunch break.

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
 I did a lot of accidental wandering that led to nowhere. This probably could have been avoided had I a better sense of direction, but I have chosen to embrace this part of who I am, and simply enjoy the view.

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
 

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September 16, 2015
by Jenny Pedersen
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To Mikaila on Her Wedding Day

My Dear Mikaila, (aka Mickey Moo)

Happy Wedding Day! Who would have thought that we would both be getting married in the same year, 2015?! It is so interesting the way life works out :)

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
You have always been one of my favorite people on this planet. I have known you since you were ten and I was twenty. I journeyed with you through those grueling junior high years, and experienced the escapades and adventures with you and the girls. Hoochie Booty Mamas, chaperoning your 8th grade DC trip, and the midnight showing of High School Musical are a few of the many memories that come to mind!

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
I prayed your heart through the challenges of high school and watched you persevere through the unexpected pains of life. It has been a true honor to see you grow up to be the woman and bride you are today. You are so beautiful, and I am so proud of who you have become. You are like a little sister to me, and Spencer is like a little brother. My family is now more complete.

I want you to know that I believe in you. There is greatness and gold in you that God is going to unveil. Who you are is a blessing to people. You are passionate, and full of life. You are hilarious, always making others laugh and bringing joy to whoever is around you. You are strong. Do not be afraid of your strength. It is God given, and truly a gift. You are a treasure and a gem, and Spencer has seen that in you since you were 12 years old. I know you will be well taken care of.

I have only been married six months, but a few things I will share with you …

Remember that being married is not about being loved, but becoming love to your husband. True covenant is a promise to lay your life down and sacrifice your desires for the benefit of your spouse. There will be times when you simply do not want to. When choosing to love will just seem too hard…

The times your spouse is the most unlovable, is the time that he will need love the most. Love speaks the loudest when it is most undeserved.

Marriage is a journey. My wedding day was the happiest day of my life, but the love I had for my husband on that day pales in comparison to the love I have for him just six months later. It just keeps getting better. When you guys have a hard day or season, remember there is always good things to look forward to. (And you have my number if you need to talk 😉

I love you with my whole heart, and I bless you on your wedding day.

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
Love Jen (Aka Jenny Joo)

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August 18, 2015
by Jenny Pedersen
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Chicago Trip

My husband and I went to Chicago a few weeks ago, and had a marvelous time! I had never been to Chicago before, but he had lived there for seven years before he moved back to San Diego in 2013. I have always wanted to go, and I couldn’t have picked a better way to experience the thriving metropolis than with Brian, who happened to know his way around. Traveling with a husband is just fun. Something I always looked forward to when I was single.

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
We went so that Brian could go to his good friends bachelor party (since we couldn’t make it out to the wedding in George coming up in a few weeks.) It was a very busy trip – full of friends, fun, good food, and site seeing. The city is fascinating, full of culture and character.

We took a red-eye on Wednesday night, and Brian had to work as his company’s Chicago office on Thursday, which left me the day to explore! His very kind friend, Ryan, offered to drive me around and give me a neighborhood tour. Some of the neighborhoods we visited included Little India along Devon Avenue, Andersonville (Edgewater), Lincoln Square, Albany Park, Mayfair, Pilsen, Little Village, and Chinatown.

The tour included some of the most delicious Mexican food I have ever tasted. It ended at Millenium Park, which reminded me of New York’s Central Park. It was immense, and full of beauty, and tourists. I saw the Bean. One cannot go to Chicago and not see the Bean, random as it may be.

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
Chicago is a very packed city and is home to 2.7 million people; the metropolitan area is home to a total of 9.9 million. In 2014, Chicago had 50.2 million visitors. There are people everywhere.

Something I do in every city I venture to is go to a unique café, settle in with a delicious drink and pastry, and then people watch. I found an adorable French Café as I observed the happenings around me. It reminded me of Paris. Sigh. I cannot wait to go back someday.

After the café, I met up with Brian at his downtown office and we walked along the river before we met the soon-to-be bride and groom for a dinner delicious dinner of mussels and beer.

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
Lets talk about food for a second. There are 17,574 in the 6-county metro area, and there are 9,000 restaurants and 4,000 bars/clubs within the city limits. That is a lot of choices.

Friday morning we had breakfast with Brian’s old friend and coworker. That afternoon Brian took me on the Chicago Architecture Boat Tour. It was amazing and most definitely a highlight! I have never seen anything like those buildings before. So much thought and creativity went into the way they were constructed – it is truly an art. The boat even went out on Lake Michigan for an incredible view of the Skyline. Chicago is one of “the big three” significant skylines in the world. The other two are NYC and Hong Kong. In terms of sheer numbers, Chicago has 119 buildings above 150 meters (492 ft), ranking it 5th. Coming home, the San Diego skyline looked miniscule.

 

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
Friday night we had a bbq in our host’s backyard, which is really a stunning garden. We didn’t eat until 10pm and the festivities went until 2 am. Chicagoans know how to have a good time!

Saturday we had lunch with a sweet couple who have known and mentored Brian for many years. We got real and deep for hours in the middle of Chipotle. I love friendships like that; ones in which you can share the rawness of yourself. That night was the Bachelor/Bachelorette Party. He went out with the boys and I went out with the girls

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement

It was so fun to get all dolled up and go out to a nice Italian dinner in the heart of the city. To top the night off, we had cocktails at the Signature Room, located on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building. Yes. 95th floor. It was spectacular.

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
Sunday morning, Brian took to some of his favorite parts of Chicago, including a lovely park, a long, scenic drive along lake Michigan displaying some of the most gorgeous houses I have ever seen, and a private beach where he often went to meet with the Lord. He ended our trip at his favorite Pizza place. I have never tasted pizza so good, and Pizza is my favorite meal. I have eaten a lot of pizza. Nothing comes close to what I had in Chicago. It was like 2” thick, and the flavor was delectable.

 

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement

Next up on the blog: our Boston Trip!

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August 1, 2015
by Jenny Pedersen
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Moonlight Worship

A dear friend and mentor of mine is speaking to a group of men on the topic: “What Do Women Want From Their Husbands?” She posted the question on her Fb timeline to get an idea of what women want.

There were over 50 comments by the time I saw her post. I didn’t leave a comment, but my first initial response would probably have been something like “Romance.” I know that is not what every woman wants, I just tend to really like romantic gestures. I did not leave a comment because I knew there was a much deeper answer brewing in my heart, I just did not realize what it was at the time. It came to me, clear as glass, later this evening.

My husband and I met at his parents’ house after work to relax in the pool (which was 94 degrees). We had to drive home separately, but when we got to our apartment and I parked my car, he stopped and motioned for me to hop in his car. I thought he was just doing that so I did not have to walk alone. Such chivalry. But when I opened the door and got in the car he said, “Welcome to the presence of God.” He had my current favorite worship song (No Longer Slaves) playing loudly and I knew he must have been worshiping and praying on the drive home. When I realized he was driving out of our complex, I smiled because I knew what that meant. We were going to worship together. We live in a small little community called Tierrasanta, that is quite hilly and surrounded by trees (a rare thing in San Diego). We drove through a few spots that have phenomenal views at night, which only served to intensify the majesty of worship.

As we sang, Brian has his hand on my knee. I loved the tender gesture of affection. Somehow it communicated to me that he loved me, even while we were worshiping. It was like saying, “We worship together.” At one point I glanced over at him, and saw his passion and authenticity as he sung the words to Jesus. I could sense the passion in his voice and the desire in his heart for more of Him. At that moment it hit me. This is what women want from their husbands. Or at least what I want from my husband. A deep, tender, and vulnerable love for the Savior. Brian’s devotion to God is unwavering, and he constantly wants to grow in intimacy with Him.

The thing about this kind of love is that in cannot be taught in a class or be learned from a book. It has to be developed. Brewed. Cultivated. Inspired by God, and flourished over time. It cannot be faked. It simply is.

When I was single I often worried that if I ever did marry, I would end up with someone who did not love God in an intimate way. As I looked over at the man God gave me, with his hand on my knee, a view of the stars and full moon, being serenaded by sweet worship music as God’s presence filled our car, a peaceful gratitude came over me.

God knew exactly what my heart needed most in a husband. And He gave it to me.

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June 24, 2015
by Jenny Pedersen
5 Comments

Father of Lights

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
My husband and I have been leading a small group at his parents’ church for the past few months. It is a small little gang, curious and hungry for the voice of God to be heard in their lives. Last month we took them through a crash course in the Holy Spirit. This time around, we spent time focusing on prophecy, and learning to hear God’s voice.

Tonight we watched Father of Lights, a film that gives numerous examples of the way God is speaking to His children today. We thought it would illustrate the things we have gone over in our small group.

I watched this movie with Brian the summer we started dating, in his parent’s living room. I was so touched by the stories it told, and the way the Father pursues His children. When it was over, I just sat and cried as the credits rolled across the screen. Brian looked at me and smiled, and asked how I was doing. I didn’t have words. Only tears. He looked at me knowingly and said, “Yeah,” then he kissed my cheek and went to help his mom with dinner. I sat there, lost in a parade of thoughts. I was pondering the largeness of God, and His simultaneous smallness. Large in light of the fact that He created the world, and is aware of every person in it. Small in considering that He knows my name, and speaks it often. And each time He speaks, it is saturated with the purest and utmost love.

I so often miss Him say it. He calls to me daily, and sometimes I am just too busy to hear Him. In one respect, this may be a good thing — I think it would be my undoing if I heard that name spoken with such utter tenderness, so regularly.

But then again, maybe undoing is exactly what I need.

Tonight the story that impacted me the most was the ending, when a son who had been separated from his family for seven years, was reunited with his family in the airport. He hugged his mom, and his sister, in a long and beautiful embrace. But then he hugged his father. And their tears flowed freely, united in love that had been distanced for far too long.

It was the look in the father’s eyes that did me in. How do I explain it? The longing. The relief. The compassion. The healing of a broken heart that was being made whole.

For endless days this man agonized over the separation from his son, and in this very moment, his son was restored to him.

As I watched this beautiful scene unfold, I found myself thinking, “Could God really love me that much? The way this man loves his son?” A silly question, for one who has been walking closely with God for almost 10 years, and yet I was asking it. I heard, ever so softly, “Yes.” And then He said my name. But He didn’t say Jen,” or “Jenny,” or “Jennifer.” He said a name that meant even more to me. He called me “Beloved,” because that is my true identity: One who is loved of God.

Tonight, I was undone. I was reminded of the kindness of our Father. That He is familiar. Intimate. Aware. Tonight I heard Him calling.

He is saying your name, too. Can you hear Him?

 

 

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June 3, 2015
by Jenny Pedersen
1 Comment

Catholic Praise and Prayer Night

This weekend my husband and I went to his cousins’ house in Orange County for a worship night. This is no unordinary occurrence in our lives; we love to worship and are always down to go to a night focused on doing just that.

But last night was special. Everyone who came, besides us, was Catholic.

I have stepped into many Catholic churches in various countries and thoroughly appreciated the architecture. I have been to a Catholic funeral and a Catholic wedding, but that is the extent of my exposure to Catholicism. I am fascinated by their customs, even though I don’t understand them. I noticed they stand up and sit down multiple times throughout the service, have a selection of readings they follow, and numerous sayings in which the whole congregation participates. I did not even know that Catholics were Spirit-filled. Boy, was I wrong.

A few weeks ago we had dinner with Emma and David, (Brian’s cousins) who recently got married and moved back to Southern California from Ohio. We caught up on life over a fantastic selection of craft beer at Toronado. They told us the story of how they met at Franciscan University, a charismatic Catholic college in a small town called Steubenville, Ohio. Emma told us about her first time encountering the tangible power of the Holy Spirit, and the amazing experiences of His Spirit thereafter.

Despite the typical differences between Protestants and Catholics, we quickly discovered that even though we come from different backgrounds, the four of us have the most important thing in common – the indwelling Spirit of Jesus. Born again. Spirit filled. Self-denied.  We have the same desires to see His Kingdom manifest in our lives, our families, our cities and the nations. It was a great evening of fellowship.

The next day, we got a text from Emma suggesting we have a worship night, bringing our Protestant friends and her Catholic friends together in unity. We agreed that it would be awesome, and set a date. None of us knew what to expect, and we did not know how many would show up.

I have been to many different churches of all sorts of denominations. When it comes to worship, it can be a mixed bag. I am not so much referring to the quality or type of music, rather the openness to the Holy Spirit and a sincere hunger to seek Him and praise Him. Just one song in, it felt like home. There were some noticeable differences, but I thought they were great. The Catholics have some amazing attributes that we can learn from. The first thing I noticed was no one faced the worship leader. Fifteen people packed into the cozy living room, all faced forward to the mantle where a crucified Jesus lay nailed to his cross. Below him were a few different saints on display. A protestant could easily go to a place of “idol worship,” but that is not what it was about. You could tell by the spirit in which they worshiped. It was not legalism, nor was it religiosity. The first thing that came to mind was Hebrews 11 – it was honoring to the heroes of our faith, those who walked with God and lived as models of a life surrendered to Him.

Various people were singing their own songs to God, some were singing in tongues, some knelt down, some read scripture, and some stood in silence. The presence of the Holy Spirit was resting in the room and the focus was on Jesus.

It was a beautiful night. I believe it was pleasing to the Father, as He looked at His children, coming together in unity, and worshiping Him.

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