Posted by: jmdenham | May 11, 2012

The Actor and the Gang

Mother’s Day Week, Day 6.  So this has been a very interesting series of posts for me this week, because I don’t think I have evaluated my life quite this way before.  Which is why my post tonight is so striking to me.  Before a year and a half ago, I could see only a career in chaplaincy somewhere and a new church as an afterthought.  I could not see myself finding a new church to truly call home, just a place where I could bit my time because finding a good church was impossible.

I could not have expected that I would get to know Luci Bell, Brandi McDaniel, Chelsea Sargent, Amy Fuller, Debra Gibbs, and the many wondeful other ladies at Southwest Central.  Yeah, their husbands are cool people too, but I am struck by the way these wives have become a invaluable piece of my life.  While I could say tons about them all, I must say my share about Luci Bell.

Well, Michael Bell, I’m sure I’m just letting the cat out of the bag now, but your wife is pretty awesome.  I think I met her on day one, but it wasn’t that meeting that in and of itself mattered.  It was her presence throughout my year and a half at Southwest Central.  The days where I could come and hang with the Bells on Sunday after church.  The way Luci engaged me about my job and my life.  The way Luci jokes, tells stories grandly, and whose smile is so precious.  Perhaps what has meant so much to me is Luci’s genuineness.  She is not afraid of her story, of her low points in life, of her failures.  She is not afraid to be reflective about her life- from thinking about what it meant to read her daughter a story to the meaning of a church activity for her.  She thinks, she reflects on life, is aware of what is going on within in, and is not afraid to share it.  When I share stories about my work, she is so reflective about what that means in her life.  I can tell that she really enjoys life because she doesn’t let any darkness or any tough story overcome her, but rather she makes meaning of it.  And usually that meaning involves a faith that seems as honest as it is deep.  But this genuineness and reflectiveness about her own story means something else- I can bring my own story, my own sinfulness to her.  Luci has brought a comfort to me that I treasure, a comfort where I know she will hear my pain and struggles of my story and she will offer a touch of that unconditional love of Jesus, and along with it an empathy and compassion that is truly heartfelt.  This is truly meaningful to me.  That openness about her own life encourages and even calls out a openness and reflectiveness about mine.  I remember that day when I flew in from Los Angeles just for a weekend, and on that Sunday I went to the Bells house to watch football.  And I talked with Michael and Luci about many things.  But while Michael had to leave, Luci provided me with the most wonderful listening and compassionate listening about my life and my concerns and cares.  The comfort level I had with her I can only show gratitude for.

And another little thing must be mentioned.  When I am around Luci, I catch her enthusiasm of faith and praise.  I want to worship God because God has caught a hold of her and brought joy to her.  This joy and enthusiasm is something that my life lacked for many years as I was stuck in the bitterness of some of my teen issues.  but with Southwest Central and the presence of Luci, I can also join in praise and find the deep well of joy rising in me.  Praise God for Luci!

But the thing is, it is not just this Southwest Central attending, anime voicing, daughter raising, Dallas going actor that has made a difference- the gang of ladies I mentioned earlier (Brandi, Chelsea, Amy…) bring their own invaluable personality and character.  And I wish I could write about them all.  But I want more than that.  I want you to come to our church and find out what I found out already with Luci and the gang- that these are some incredibly faithful and passionate disciples of Christ, who care about others and understand life and bring joy.  Come and see for yourself.

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