“I don’t think you are doing this whole Christianity thing right.”
That’s what my husband said when I started my church search shortly after moving back to Texas. I had been raised Mormon, then moved to Church of God when I left the Mormon church at 13. When my husband joined the Army, I found churches that I loved in both California and Hawaii, but after being back in Texas for over a year I still hadn’t found a place that felt like home.
I wanted a placed that would ‘teach and not just preach.’
A place that really cared about its members, as well as the world around them.
I wanted to find a place that would not tell me my individual beliefs were wrong, but instead respect me and discuss them with me.
And I knew that this church had to be out there, I knew it plainly as if God had told me Himself.
I had all but given up though, in my hometown at least, until a chance meeting with my high school drama teacher turned into an invitation to an Episcopal church. When I told her my issues with finding a church since moving home she smiled and told me that she thought I’d like it there. I can say that I honestly felt something tug inside from our very first mass, but I had no idea how right she was, or how much the Episcopal Church would come to mean to me in just a few short weeks.
You see, within three weeks of my first Sunday at the Episcopal Church my youngest daughter Austen, then only 5.5 months old, had her first seizure. Over 48 hours she had three more seizures and began a 6-day PICU stay and a 6-month search for answers that would eventually lead us away from our tiny Texas town and solidify to my soul that the Episcopal Church is where I belong.
During that PICU stay, parishioners who at this point did not know me from Adam called to check on us. Austen was put on the prayer list, and the nursery workers got together to come up with a plan so that Austen would be safe in the nursery.
Before we ever left the hospital, I remember looking at my husband and saying this is it, this is where we belong.
We soon realized this was more than a one-time event, and again everyone rallied around us. Prayers were said that we would find answers, our nursery workers stood strong. We had a plan in place in case seizures happened in the nursery. They could handle it. And when we decided to move to Colorado to access medical cannabis after getting Austen’s diagnosis no one batted an eye. Our priest even allowed us to baptize the kids on a Monday so their dad could be there.
When we moved to Colorado I found myself worried again. I knew I wanted to find an Episcopal Church near us, but what if this parish wasn’t as welcoming? What if they didn’t feel comfortable with a special needs one-year-old in their nursery? I had heard that people in Colorado were not so friendly to medical cannabis patients, would they judge me for giving it to my baby?
Looking back, I laugh at my worries because absolutely none of them came to fruition.
Once again, the community wrapped its arms around us in a warm embrace from the moment we walked through the doors. Our nursery worker came up with a plan within a week to deal with Austen’s seizures if they happened. The children’s chapel workers loved my oldest daughter, Addisen, like their own when she started to rebel due to all the changes that had occurred in such a small amount of time. Meals were brought to our house on several occasions, eucharists celebrated in PICU rooms, and we have not had a single ER trip without a call from one of our priests. In fact, more than one ER visit has been spent with a priest standing next to me for hours praying and keeping me calm.
This April I went through confirmation. Two and a half years into this journey and I can’t imagine myself or my family going anywhere else. It caught me by surprise when the tears started rolling down my face as the bishop placed his hands on my head. It was like the entire journey was pouring over me at the same time and God was telling me, see I told you it would work out.