The following weekend, the kids had another show at Dallas Bible Church. This contact came from one of our Board Members, Taylor, who also happened to be a former classmate of mine at Dallas Theological Seminary. (He was the one who asked that fateful question: Do you guys ever come to Texas? This was when we were praying about whether to continue on with Be The Change. We ended up going to Texas and Be The Change Collective was created because of that one question!)
Given the feedback from the show in Austin, Sydney wanted to change the program for the Dallas show. She decided to continue sharing about doubting God, focusing on how the disciples even doubted Jesus (Matthew 28:17). Brayden also shared his testimony and his song, Conscience. Again, the response was the same. Even with a smaller crowd, the message resonated. I was able to capture a few photos of Sydney praying with some of the girls there. Our Board Member came to the show and brought his girlfriend (now fiancé) with him. I remember her saying that she felt like we were turning a corner, a new chapter was beginning. She was right.
Sydney was also scheduled to speak at The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas. If you know anything about our family, you know our love for Matt Chandler, Francis Chan, and David Platt. Our kids were raised on their sermons, bible studies, and books. Sydney also wrote and performed Empty Hands with Grant McCurdy, one of worship pastors at The Village Church.
Unfortunately, Grant wasn’t in town that weekend, but he made a few phone calls and connections for us. One of those connections was spending time with Lauren Chandler and sitting in on a worship practice. Lauren spent about 30 minutes with our family, listening to our story and then praying over us. Sydney and Brayden then spent the next couple of hours with the worship team, while one of my friends (you guessed it… Noonday!) took me out for gelato.
Leah is another one of those Facebook friends that I’d never met in person. (This trip has made me increasingly more appreciative of people who are game for forging unconventional friendships. And for meeting with complete strangers, in some cases inviting them into their homes, when we could, quite honestly, be insane.) Leah picked me up at The Village Church, which happens to be her church, and took me to a local gelato shop for a short, but needed processing session.
One of the things I’ve really needed on this trip is a safe place to process. It seems like many in the church are quick to point out where your theology is lacking…. or out-right false… without taking a few minutes to hear you out, let alone engage in a healthy debate. I’m thankful for the few friends back home who have volunteered for the job. It’s not for the faint of heart! Especially when you move away from the echo chamber of your own community, or inner-circle. But, I also need people on the road. That’s part of the process. Leah was definitely a safe place to unpack all the craziness of my life, but my time with her, I truly feel, was about something else.
Leah shared her own spiritual journey and giftings with me. It was something that challenged me. I was learning more and more about the various ways the Holy Spirit reveals itself to people. God was constantly showing me where I was putting Him in a box. I’ve already acknowledged that I’m not charismatic… at all. We’ve been to a few churches that have been heavy on emotionalism and light on biblical truth. But, Leah was also different from a lot of the other people I had met on the trip. Maybe it was because our theology was similar. Maybe it was because her experiences were so specific and not based on emotional responses. I honestly don’t know. But, listening to her share her story of faith challenged me to push into that box I created for God a little more.
I asked God to show me where I put Him in a box, but I couldn’t just stop there. I needed to be willing to tear the walls of the box down. But how?
It would take me a little while to figure that out. But, in the meantime, Sydney was asked to speak to a group of creative art students at The Village Church. THIS was her element. Surrounded by students who want to use their creative gifts to edify the church and glorify the Lord. For a couple of hours, she was in a place that oddly felt like home, surrounded by teens who spoke her language. In all the ups and downs and constant inconsistencies of our life, there was a moment of peace… and Chick-fil-A nuggets.
This group of students and leaders prayed over our family. Something I will never forget. The moments of encouragement on this journey have been few and far between, but this weekend was a gift. Yet, at the same time, something weirdly unexpected was happening: We had only been able to recruit one teen to help us with fundraising.