Mother's Day in Times of Sorrow

HAPPY Mother's Day? For some, not so much. Mother's Day is an 'in your face' holiday to those who are childless or motherless. 

One Mother's Day your beloved is here and the next Mother's Day they are not. How do you celebrate Mother's Day when your mother isn't present to enjoy her presence? 

Wednesday evenings I gather with a group of women walking through grief and five out of seven of them are struggling to reorient their lives without their mother alive to add wisdom, value, love and a frame of reference. How do you plan family gatherings when the one who did the planning and hosting is no longer there? Are you still a daughter though you don't have a mother?

My mother is still living. I can still send her a card and call her on the phone. However, I have experienced the loss of a child prior to birth, as well as the premature death of a child. 

May 1989 (28 yrs ago) our home bustled with activity as we were in the excitement of raising a family and a newborn church simultaneously. Never had life been more full of joy and scurry! Love and laughter. Friends and fun. Hectic and hilarious! 

With four growing children ages 7, 5, 3 and a baby a few months shy of 2 yrs, life was full! Full of diapers and wipes, outbursts of silliness and tears. Full of cheerios and spilt milk. Raisins, hot dogs, applesauce and mac & cheese. Laundry and lessons. Housework and homework. 

With a growing church,  our schedule was full of small groups, Bible studies, friendships, meetings and setting up and tearing down. 

Growing up the oldest of five kids, living in the community of hustle and bustle was my normal. And I thrived on it. It was my normal and I loved it. I chose it. 

But the weekend after Mother's Day everything changed. 

It was the last Mother's Day our 21 month old baby girl, Megan celebrated here with us.

Celebrating Mother's Day after loss is different. 

As is every other celebration: Mother's Day, my husband's birthday (May 18th), graduation, Memorial Day, I remember and miss her presence here. Each year I contemplate and imagine.  What would she look like? what would she be doing? Would she be married? Would she have children?

Awareness of my loss enhances my sensitivity to others' experiences of loss. 

One Mother's Day at Indian Creek we found a young woman dissolved into tears in a closed stall of the women's bathroom. Her desire to have a child unrealized. Another Mother's Day a woman crumbled behind the old Welcome Center and we prayed fervently for the blessing of a baby.

How can you celebrate blessings of the womb when your womb hasn't yet been blessed?

My oldest daughter, married 10 years and director of an international non-profit organization, hears her biological clock ticking. She's been busy traveling and re-establishing an international ministry and relationships. A couple of years ago she was ready to settle down and figure out how to still do her job AND start a family. 

Unfortunately, she learned that starting a family isn't as easy as deciding it's time. Her body did not cooperate and still isn't cooperating. 

Why? I don't know. She doesn't know. And we've asked God.

Repeatedly.

So she doesn't usually attend church on Mother's Day. It's too hard! 

I get it! Our youngest daughter died on a Sunday morning. Like the Psalmist David after the death of his baby, I was compelled to go and worship God. Where else would I go? I turned to God in times of joy and celebration. I run to Him desperately in times of sorrow.

David, the man after God's own heart did! 

I cry out to God without holding back.
    Oh, that God would listen to me!
When I was in deep trouble,
    I searched for the Lord.
All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, pleading,
    but my soul was not comforted.
I think of God, and I moan,
    overwhelmed with longing for His help. 

You don’t let me sleep.
    I am too distressed even to pray!
I think of the good old days,
    long since ended,
when my nights were filled with joyful songs. 
    I search my soul and ponder the difference now.
Has the Lord rejected me forever?
    Will He never again be kind to me?
Is His unfailing love gone forever?
    Have His promises permanently failed?
— Psalm 77:1-8

God is faithful. He is constant. He is the God of all comfort. I will cling to Him at all times, perhaps in times of grief even more tightly!

I am learning you can't heal what you don't acknowledge. You can't experience the joy without walking THROUGH the sorrow.

Great joy can remain in the midst of despair. We grieve but not as those without hope. Then, after all the lamenting, the second half of Psalms chapter 77, David invites us to remember what great things God has already done in our lives.

But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;
    I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
You are the God of great wonders!
    You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.
— (vs. 11, 14)

I'm finding comfort. Healing. And hope! God is a help! He IS hope! He is life! He is love!  Life is full of both joy and sorrow and BOTH are worth celebrating! 

Worth celebrating everyday, especially Mother's Day!

Easter at the Creek

Invite Your Friends to Celebrate Easter at the Creek!

Easter weekend is on Sunday, April 16, and it's just around the corner. Now is a great time to invite your friends and family to celebrate Easter at the Creek! We have three services (9am, 10:45am, and 10:45 in Español) and three great opportunities to invite those closest to you to check out Indian Creek-- maybe for the very first time.

Week after week, our staff does everything they can to make our services creative and welcoming, but that’s not why people call Indian Creek their home. People call the Creek their home when you respond to God’s call to reach those in your own community. Maybe it’s the friend across the cube from you at work; maybe it’s your lunch table at school… Who is God calling you to invite this Easter?

Help us reach more people than ever before with the hope of the Gospel by spreading the word with one of the tools below.


Invite Cards

Easter 2017 Bz Mockup.png

We’re making thousands of invite cards available to you at the Welcome Center. Grab as many as you like and put them in the hands of those you want to invite. Feel free to be creative about how you share them! (Remember, it’s illegal to place these in mailboxes or on car windshields).
 


Social Media Posts

Help us build a buzz leading up to Easter by using the #EasterattheCreek hashtag as you discuss Easter on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social networks. Here are a few recommended posts if you’d rather copy-and-paste:

Join me as we celebrate #EasterattheCreek! There is a 9am & 10:45 service. Find out more at: easteratthecreek.org

Easter is almost here, and I'm celebratring #EasterattheCreek! There is a 9am & 10:45 service. Find out more at: easteratthecreek.org


Profile Pictures

Changing your profile picture for a short time is a great way to help us spread the word about Easter! Right-click or long-tap to save this image for use on your profile.


SOCIAL MEDIA BANNERS

The large banners on top of your Facebook and Twitter profiles are another great place to tell your friends about Easter. Right-click or long-tap to save one of the banners below.

easterfacebook-1024x379.png
Easterwebdate.png
 

CreekStudents

This Wednesday night, our Student Ministry had the unveiling of their new name and their new look as "CreekStudents". They got to hear from Student Pastor Kyle about the vision behind the change as they rallied around their mission to lead students to experience real life in Jesus.

This is also marked the last night that our Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers met together. 

As of February 15, the Middle School gathering will happen on Wednesday nights, while the High School gathering will happen on Sunday nights starting February 26.

With this change, came a more focused looked at what our Student Ministry was, and what we wanted it to be. After many months of praying, brainstorming, and working, we finally decided that CreekStudents would be the name of our Student Ministry, (which helped to create some uniformity in our Family Ministry since our Children's Ministry is called CreekKids), and the Middle School and High School gatherings, although on different days of the week would go under the same name: Kairos. 

Kairos (καιρος): 1. an opportune or seasonable time.
This Greek word is used in the Bible as both a divinely appointed time and also that sweet point of the farming season when it's the best time to start harvesting. Students are in such a crucial time in their life not only because they're deciding their identity and who they are going to become but also because they are living day in and day out in the biggest, ripest, most opportune "harvest" they may ever have the chance to be in. They're surrounded by lost friends and have been commissioned by God to be His hands and feet sharing His love, peace, and the hope they have in Jesus. As CreekStudents, we will not be a "holy huddle church club". We will not belittle the role of students in the kingdom. We will not waste this crucial time, this harvest, this kairos.

And so it is with this new focus on our church-wide mission to lead people to experience real life in Jesus, that we begin a new season for our Student Ministry. 

We've also just created a Facebook Group where you'll be able to receive notifications about upcoming events, see photos of what your teens are up to, and stay in the loop. Join it by clicking HERE. 

If you have questions or want to find out more, you can contact Student Pastor Kyle Mullins at kyle.mullins@indiancreek.org. 

 

 

Grief in the Season of Christmas

I LOVE celebrating the birth of Jesus the entire month of December!

I remember a Christmas past when I could not celebrate. My heart was just not in it…the first Christmas after our daughter, Megan died. I just lay on the couch while my husband, Gary (because men have to ‘do something’ physically with their grief) assembled our Christmas tree with the help of our surviving children: Kristen 8, Jeremy 6, and Luke 4,  put on the ornaments. It was all I could do to open the little boxes and distribute them to the kids. 

Many things went by the wayside that year. I just had so little energy and no enthusiasm for any of it. Everyone was celebrating the birth of a baby and MY BABY had died just 7 months prior...

May 21, 1989, spring was in the air. The windows were open and kids were playing. Little did I know it was the beginning of a very bad no good day! 

For the first time since the birth of our fourth child, I was going to get to accompany Gary on a speaking engagement to Arkansas to share the Sunday message at a church where two of our favorite college friends pastored. 

First of all our refrigerator was broken so I had a repairman out. But worse, Megan, our 21-month-old baby girl was running a fever. I took her to the doctor that morning and he diagnosed an ear infection. It wasn’t like Megan to be whiny and fussy. She just wasn’t her delightful, spunky self. With two boys and a girl, I was overjoyed when she was born to even things out by adding another girl to our family! She was ‘the icing on the cake’ in so many ways! She was a sister to Kristen and a fun teasing little playmate to Luke and Jeremy. She had a way of bringing joy to our family! Finally, I relaxed enough to actually ENJOY a baby!

I called our good friend, Connie who had been prepared to care for our kids while I escaped for a couple of days and told her thatI wouldn’t be needing her after all. Megan continued to be fussy all afternoon. So whiny it seemed something else must be wrong. So in the early evening, I called the doctor again. He wasn’t very helpful, telling me that it was an ear infection and that it would ‘just have to run its course.’ 

I had given medicine as instructed by the doctor. We had cuddled and rocked for an hour. So I surrendered her to her crib still whimpering a bit. I did have three other children to attend. Gary called after making the long drive to Arkansas (no cell phones in 1989) and I asked him for a phone number there at our friends’ house in case I needed to reach him. The rest of the evening was uneventful with the normal routine of tucking kids into bed. Afterwards I had peeked into Megan’s room to see her lying still in her crib. I approached her quietly, laying my hand on her forehead to find it cool to my touch. Satisfied that her fever had broken, I left her room relieved and retired myself to bed. 

Sunday morning dawned. Church Day. My children’s favorite day of the week! We pastored a small but growing church plant comprised 90% of couples, like us, in their 20’s with 2-4 children so there were lots of playmates! A dear friend stopped by to check on me and chat on her way to Pioneer Trail Junior High which housed Indian Creek Community Church on Sundays. We visited and she left. 

The pouring rain pounded on the windowsills. Kristen, Jeremy, and Luke were dressed and ready to go and I was trying to figure out if I dare to drop them off at church and bring Megan back home since she was sick. But she was ‘sleeping’ uncharacteristically late. I decided I had waited long enough. So I went into the room to see her lying exactly as when I had checked on her the night before. Unusual. As I came close to the crib I noticed the black and blue blotches on her little arms and chubby legs! When my fingers encountered her little body it was ice cold to the touch! I scooped her up into my arms, running at the same time to the living room for the portable house phone to call 911 and Gary. Kristen and Jeremy wondered aloud, why Megan had ‘colored all over herself with black and blue markers.’ 

I called 911 as I was running to my next-door neighbors’ cradling Megan’s lifeless body. I will never forget their stunned helpless expressions. I called Gary next and told him that Megan was dead. He couldn’t really comprehend it. Thinking I was exaggerating her condition or maybe he was just in denial and disbelief, he was still on the phone when the paramedics arrived and I abandoned him and the phone. With one look at their faces, I knew that there was nothing they could do for my precious baby! They were very kind and compassionate. They loaded us into the ambulance. My neighbors stayed with Kristen, Jeremy, and Luke.

A no-good, very bad day! That became a no-good very bad summer, fall, and winter… I quit my job of caring for other children, took the kids and went to Kentucky where my parents, brother & 2 of my 3 sisters live, and stayed through the month of June. 

That first Christmas my heart was not in any of it. I just went through the motions that entire first year..
— Belinda Kendall

When we returned, our house had been transformed! Not only was it spotlessly cleaned, every room inside had a fresh coat of paint as did the outside! A spacious new back deck had been constructed! Little ‘special treats’ adorned the rooms, like embroidered pillows and plaques! All of the windows had been washed! My neighbors told me that every evening while we were gone, people from Indian Creek descended upon our home and worked out their grief. Megan was their baby too! And as they lovingly served us, they talked, comforted and consoled one another! That body of believers walked with us, not just through those days that month but the months and years to come! Until we were, in turn, comforting others as we had been comforted. 

That first Christmas my heart was not in any of it. I just went through the motions that entire first year....

The SECOND year came and the pain was intensified because the numbness had worn off and reality had set in – We would not see our Megan grow up, go to school, get married...we would not see her again until Heaven! And sometimes I wanted to go there just to be with her!

By the THIRD Christmas I was still trying to decide what I really wanted to do or not to commemorate and celebrate the birth of Jesus and to remember my baby who was now enjoying His presence! Nothing ever really seemed 'good enough.'

For those in the throes of grief, my heart goes out to you and yours! Remember there is NO RUSH on your healing heart...keep processing. Keep open. Consider NOT doing the things that drain you and don't really celebrate the real reason for the season anyway. You really DON’T HAVE TO!

Now years later I LOVE the picture of my baby being WITH JESUS and picture Megan running into my arms when I arrive in Heaven! Christmas season has been enhanced for me and has more meaning because of His BIRTH she could die here but LIVE there! And so can you and I. 

Merry Christmas!

-Belinda Kendall

 

Why Our Country Needs The Church More Than Ever

The answer is “never!” The question is, when is it ever right to use death to make a point about lifestyles and religion? And yet—in the world we live in that is increasingly the choice.  

The sheer number of tragedies is numbing. Where do we find refuge, when schools, churches, clubs, theaters, airports, races, and college campuses are targets?

Christians, school-mates, lovers, ex-lovers, Muslims, Blacks, LGBT, police, postal workers, you name it, are victims of bigotry and hatred.

I don’t know when I’ve seen more division within our country. The political diatribe is disturbing. We’ve had race riots, and the fear of ISIS is growing within our nation. Violence doesn’t have to be organized; it can come from one disturbed individual.

Even in the movies we have Batman against Superman and a civil war amongst the Marvel comic heroes. Division is everywhere!

Is there a safe place we can go? No. Is there a safe people group? No.

Our country tries to marginalize the church in many ways, but this is the time our country needs the church more than ever. 


In the darkness, the light of Jesus shines brightest. In the hatred and violence, the love of Jesus is an overcoming force for good.

Where else do you find unconditional love but the church of Jesus? Where else do you find non-judgment? Who else strives for reconciliation? Who is it that shows up to mourn the loss, give blood, work to provide healing over and over again? It is happening right now in Orlando. The church is in the middle of the mess being the hands and feet of Jesus.

In the darkness, the light of Jesus shines brightest. In the hatred and violence, the love of Jesus is an overcoming force for good.

Indian Creek let’s be the church! Now, more than ever our country needs us!



Speak into the division words of life and peace. Help across the divide between race, lifestyle, religion and politics. Be Jesus to our world.

In 2,000 years nothing has stopped the church, Emperors have tried, and the church outlasted the empire. Persecution has come, and the church triumphed even over death. Cultures have attempted to silence the church, and still the Church of Jesus stands as a beacon of hope to the hopeless.

Jesus was right when He said, I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. 

Remember, you are the church. The church is not a building, not a program, not a denomination; the church is the people—you and me. If we don’t stand up, show up and act in Jesus' name, the church is silent, absent and irrelevant.

Let’s be the church Indian Creek! Our world needs us more than ever before!


Gary Kendall
Lead Pastor