Confession: Church people freak me out a little bit.

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Photo credit: Lisa Snell Photography.

I use to think church people had their lives together.
So I stayed away from the church.

They few times I accidentally ended up in one I just smiled and kept my eyes from making real contact with anyone. I thought my clothes weren’t right and my kids weren’t lined up perfectly the way they were supposed to be.
I never spoke to anyone because I didn’t want them to find out what a mess my family was or that my marriage was a little out of whack…scratch that, a LOT out of whack.
I thought I needed to tame my hair, hide my tattoos, and buy nice church clothes in order to fit in.
I didn’t want to learn about Jesus because I thought he was for the good people, the ones that dressed right, acted right, lived clean lives, and knew all the verses in the bible. I didn’t want to be rejected by Jesus because I couldn’t get my life together.

Then I met a “church lady” and she was real with me. She sat me down one day and told me what a mess her house was, physically and emotionally. She was real and honest and showed me that you can be broken and Jesus still sees you. I love you for that, Barbara. You saved me.

So I took off my mask.
I realized I wasn’t made to fit in and that’s okay.

I often get asked why I tell my story, good and bad. I get asked if I worry about what people are going to think when they learn about where I’ve been and what I’ve done.
Nope. I sure don’t.
God already knows what I’ve done and what I’ve been through and he loves me anyways. He forgives me and adores me and that’s the beauty about following Jesus.
You can come to him frayed and stained and he opens his arms wide open.

I’ve learned how important it is to not pretend to be something that I’m not.
My kids will never be dressed in church clothes, whatever those are. On that note, I’ll always be the girl in church who makes people wonder what the hell I was thinking when I got dressed that morning.
I’ll always have a tattoo peeking out somewhere.
My house will never be clean, like never ever.
There will always be a wrinkle in my marriage.
I’ll always need forgiveness for something.
I’ll always need to forgive something.

But here’s the beauty of church.
It’s filled with messy church people.
It’s a place for the broken to gather.

If you’re showing up to church feeling like you need to fit in or put on your best face, let that lie go!.
The people on the outside looking in need to know how messy we are.
We need to set an example of brokenness.
We need to show that we are the hurting and Jesus is the healer.
We need to take our masks off for the sake of those who don’t know Jesus but are desperate for what he has to offer.

If you’re on the outside looking in let me tell you about the people inside.

The pastor is a sinner.
The youth leader sometimes wants to throat chop the teenagers.
The Sunday school teachers loves the little kids but doesn’t always like them.
The marriage counselor sometimes wonders why the hell they, themselves, ever got married in the first place.
The lady preaching to the women’s group cusses a little too much and enjoys adult beverages with dinner (sorry, that one’s me.)
Every person in the building has something they need to stop clinging to and hand over to Jesus.

To the people inside the church,
There’s a lady hiding in the back pew. She’s desperate for truth and honesty. Her marriage is a mess and she spanked her kids in the parking lot for not acting like humans. She needs you. She needs you to kneel next to her and say “We’re all jacked up in here. Sorry for pretending like we aren’t. You belong here. Our sweet Jesus loves you just the way you are. Welcome home.”

Baptism, Divorce and why you don’t have to go to church!

I truly believe that I’m in church every day. I spend time with God every morning and I talk to someone about Jesus far more than once a day. I stand firm in Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” God is always with me. I am in constant “church” with people and spend many nights in fellowship with my friends each week. So daily church happens outside four walls of a building all the time.

But my church! My church feeds me. I crave the building and the people in it. I’m addicted to praising in the big room filled with my brothers and sisters. There’s nothing like standing with my people, arms raised high, my husband’s arm around my back and belting out praise to Jesus, no matter how off-key I am. I love to watch everyone scoot to the edge of their seats, preparing to soak up the message our pastor is about to deliver. Oh how I wish you could hear him deliver the Good News. It’s amazing!

You don’t have to go to church.
You can love God from where ever you are.
You can praise Jesus in your car, your home and even the shower.
You can gather with your friends and be the church in your back yard.

However, there can be great beauty in finding a church that you love and that loves you back. If you’re in San Antonio then meet me at Castle Hills Church, hold my hand and love on Jesus and others with me.Come meet my people. If you’re not then find a church that loves you. There can be so much that fills you up when you surround yourself with followers of Jesus. Wherever you church, do it big. Do it with abandonment. Do it with love. Just do it.

Here’s a little about how my church helped save my marriage and ultimately saved our lives. We almost surrendered ourselves to ending everything we had wished for, then God stepped in. He is the God of redemption and He is good.

Check it our here.

Candice Curry and Life Stories. 

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Today is the day. I’m finally pushing my teenager off of a cliff!

When she was 5 years old I would drop her off early for school because I had to head to work. Her school was huge and it was usually dark when I dropped her off. She would fearlessly shut the car door behind her and I’d watch through the window as she made her way up the stairs to the cafeteria. Her backpack was bigger than she was and her pigtails would swing from side to side.

She was so proud of herself and had no idea that my heart was breaking into a million pieces.

I wanted to hold her hand and walk her up. I wanted to wait until the very last-minute, right before the tardy bell rang and then open the car door to send her on her way. I wanted to keep her home with me but I couldn’t, I had to let her go.

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When she was in 3rd grade we sent her to day camp. A bus would pick her up at church and drive her to a neighboring city where she would spend the day outside doing various camp activities and then the bus would bring her home that same night. I would wait in the parking lot of the church an hour before I knew the bus would be there. I wanted to be first in line.

The first day after camp she got in the car and announced that she had volunteered to say the prayer during lunch. My little 9-year-old daughter, who was in the youngest group at camp, confidently raised her hand to say the prayer for the hundreds of kids who were ready to chow down.

She was so proud of herself and had no idea that my heart was breaking into a million pieces.

I wanted to  make her hang out with me all day. I wanted to take her to the zoo and see a movie. I wanted to keep her home with me but I couldn’t, I had to let her go.

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When she was in 5th grade she got the lead role in the school play. She swelled with pride and spent hours going over her lines. She would come into our room and rehearse the entire play while my husband and I sat and listened.

The night of the play she proudly put on her costume, gave me a kiss and headed backstage. She didn’t miss a beat. She nailed the play. There was a standing ovation and she proudly took a bow.

She was so proud of herself and had no idea that my heart was breaking into a million pieces.

I didn’t want to send her backstage.  I was scared she would forget her lines. I was worried she might trip or fall or completely melt down. I wanted to keep her in the audience safe with me but I couldn’t, I had to let her go.

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The summer before her freshman year she started volleyball training with the high school girls. We woke up at the crack of dawn and I drove her to the new, gigantic high school to drop her off at camp. She pulled up her knee pad, threw her hair in a ponytail and hopped out of the car. With barely a wave she practically skipped to the gym.

She was fearless in that gym. She put everything she had into her game and never back down from the older and more experienced players. She played harder than she ever had and even though she was sore and pouring sweat, she competed like a champion.

She was so proud of herself and had no idea that my heart was breaking into a million pieces.

I wanted to home school her. I wanted to tell her to stay away from the older kids and to call me if she was scared. I wanted to tell her that it was okay to be the new guy. I wanted to keep her home with me but I couldn’t, I had to let her go.

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Today I’m dropping her off at church so she can go on her first mission trip with the high school group. They’re headed to New Orleans to spread the love of Jesus and be His hands and feet. They’re camping out at a church, sleeping on cots and being fed by the sweet people of the church. They’ll be painting, preaching and cleaning, not necessarily in that order.

Last night we packed her bag. She eagerly threw clothes in my direction and I sorted through what she would and wouldn’t need. She laid a huge pile of toiletries on the bed and I put what she truly needed in a ziplock before packing it away. She added three pairs of shoes to the luggage and I removed two. Then she carefully placed her bible in her backpack, next to her snacks and phone.

She was so proud of herself and had no idea that my heart was breaking into a million pieces.

I want to tell her not to go. I want to remind her not to talk to strangers and always travel in groups. I want to write her name on the inside of everything she takes. I want to follow the bus to the edge of the city limits. I want to keep her home with me but I can’t, I have to let her go.

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Today I’m pushing my daughter off of a cliff and I can’t wait to watch her fly.

This is what God has called her to do.
This is her passion.
This is her mission

She is so proud of herself and has no idea that my heart is breaking into a million pieces.

She’s been preparing herself for this day for 15 years. I wish I would have done the same.

There goes my girl.

Please pray for her trip. Pray for safe travels, comfy cots, yummy food and open eyes. Pray for the people they meet and the projects they take on. Pray that they are able to be the hands and feet of Christ. Pray for the people they meet, that their hearts will be open to God’s word. Pray for the parents left behind whose hearts are breaking into a million pieces. 

Not Just A Quarter

Church Under The Bridge

We were lucky enough to get to go to Church Under The Bridge last week. I took half of my daughters, my W3 sister and her son.

Church Under The Bridge started out as just that, church under a bridge for the homeless and after the church service they would get a hot meal. I’m not sure when they got a real building but they now have a beautiful and simple building with a kitchen and sanctuary.

I would like to give a huge shout out to the owner of Little Caesars Pizza for donating the kitchen equipment and for being there having fellowship with the homeless during service. Go eat at Little Caesars this week, or heck, go twice!

Meeting Jesus

I honestly didn’t have any idea what to expect when we got there but I did expect my kids to be a little withdrawn and slightly nervous. They are wonderful little girls but this was out of there element. By the time we got there everyone had already gathered in the sanctuary and the cafeteria was empty.

Before we went through the doors I reminded my girls that we were going to church with some of God’s people and that no matter what, these were our brothers and sisters and we need to be kind and loving. My oldest triplet jumped with glee and said “Are we going to get to see Jesus in there?”. Before I could answer, my youngest triplet told her “Jesus isn’t in there, He is in all of our hearts”.

Wow, they really do listen to everything that we say.

I had no idea that we really were going to see Jesus when we walked through those doors. When I opened the doors and ushered my girls in, I prayed that they would not comment loudly on the way that the room smelled. They didn’t say a word. As a matter of fact they smiled and said hi to everyone and didn’t cling to me like plastic wrap or my jeans from last year.

During the service I looked over at my friends and my daughters and they were all singing and praising God. The sight of my six year old standing in the middle of a group of homeless people, with her arms raised in praise as if it was all so normal was the best thing that I have ever seen. I don’t think that my daughters had any idea where they were. To them it was just church and they liked all the attention that they were getting from their new friends.

The Offering

There were a lot of amazing moments that night and things that I will never forget but there was something that took me completely off guard and changed my life forever. In the middle of the service the pastor said that it was time to take up the offering.

What? Did he know where he was? These people lived on the streets, they hadn’t bathed in a while, had the same clothes on that they probably had on for the last month and tonight might be their only hot meal until the next night at CUB.

The pastor reminded all of us that the people sitting in front of him, the “street people”, are no different than the people in the multimillion dollar church just a few miles away and that God tells us to give and in return we will be given back ten fold.

Well, it goes more like this. “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. ” 2 Corinthians 9:6-7. There’s also this one, “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine” Proverbs 3:9-10.

When the pastor called for the offering, the most amazing thing happened. Almost every single person in that room stood up and walk to the front of the room. Some had to be pushed in their wheelchair and one lady had to be guided by her friend because she was blind. Each one of them had years of wear and tear on them. Only about a third of them wore a smile. Each one of them put something in the small basket that held their gifts.

I watched as some let go of a handful of change, some put down a dollar and a child threw in a quarter. A child. Can you imagine what a quarter means to some of them? I don’t even want to think how much a dollar means. They gave it anyways.It wasn’t about the money for them, it was about giving themselves and obeying the Word. It was about honoring God and giving Him thanks for the blessings that He has given them.

I can imagine the joy that it gave God to watch His most struggling children give in His name the way that they did.

I was jealous of their faith, submission and joy.

What have I been doing?

I’ll be the first to admit that when the offering tray comes around my way a church I start to calculate my bank account in my head. I think about what bills I have to face in the upcoming week. I think about what my girls need at school (you know it’s always something).

How much can I spare? SPARE! Who the hell do I think that I am!! Tithing is not about what we can spare, it is about obeying Gods word. Period. When I slip my envelope in the tray I wonder if God says “Silly girl, I know you have more to give”.

My husband and I seriously volunteer in any way that we can at our church and outside of our church but we are fools if we think that it is enough. God will always provide, always. That means I should stop visualizing my bank account every time the offering comes around.

Even if I emptied it we will still be okay because God will provide. I never thought I would say this but I want to be more like the homeless people that I sat in church with and a lot less like me.

Let’s Pray

Abundant Father thank you for always providing for us even when we think that we don’t have enough. Bless each any every one of the amazing people who gave everything that they had in order to honor Your great name. Remind us that it is Your will for us to give of ourselves and of our riches. Help us to give completely without worry of what might happen to us if we empty our pockets. Please let that sweet child who gave her last quarter find abundant wealth and health. In Jesus name, amen.

When we got home from church my youngest triplet brought her piggy bank to our room and said that she wanted to give all her money to the people who don’t have any.  She watched a child give away her only quarter and it made her want to give away all the money that she has earned over the last six years. What’s in your piggy bank?

No More Simple Sunday Church!

I don’t want to go to church on Sundays anymore.

My youngest daughter is always bugging me about Sundays… “Is today Sunday?”… “If today’s Saturday that means tomorrows Sunday, right?”… “Do you and daddy teach in the morning so that we can go early?”

Enough already kid!

I’m sick of Sunday clothes, or church clothes as some may call them. I’m over after church lunches where we recap the days sermon. We take the same route to church every time and I see the same thing over and over, it’s getting redundant.

We sit in the same seats every Sunday. The seats don’t have our names on them but the do have our butt imprints. When we greet our neighbors we shake hands and hug the same people every time. Smile and wave, smile and wave.

As you drive out of our church there are signs and they do not read “thanks for coming” or “have a nice day” or “we loved having you”. They read “You Are Now Entering Your Mission Field”. AHHHH there it is!

Sunday church should be our fueling station, not our weeks worth of God time. I want to be in a constant state of “church”, Sunday through Saturday, 24/7, 365. Of course I want my daughter to beg to go to church but I don’t want her to think that it is reserved for Sundays. I want her to spread the good word every where she goes all of the time. I don’t want to show up to church early because I have to teach, I want to be teaching all the time.

Why do we have church clothes? Does it matter if we show up in a rhinestone dress or our pajamas? Certainly God doesn’t care what we clothe ourselves in.

And as for Sunday lunch, well it’s pointless to sit and talk to people about the sermon when those people were sitting in there with you. Why aren’t we out talking about the sermon with someone who didn’t get a chance to hear it?

How often are we inviting new people to join us, not because our church is super amazing but because we want their hearts to be filled with the love of the Lord? The seat that we sit in each week is loosing its cushion.

It’s our safe zone.

What would happen if we went four aisles over and two aisles down? Or heck, what if we showed up at a completely different church for one Sunday? What if that spot is the one God wants us in so that we can reach someone in that area that needs us?

But I’m SO comfortable in my usual spot!!

Our path to church is so predictable. What if we took the long way? I don’t have any idea what would happen because we have never been adventurous enough to try it.

If we are supposed to be Gods hands and feet then we need to get uncomfortable.

We need to get our hands dirty and put some mile on our feet.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my church and will never stop going but I don’t want to leave it at that. I want to truly be the hands and feet of our Lord. I want to show up to church in jeans and a tshirt because church is where ever I am.

“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15.

He didn’t say to “come in,” He said to “go into.” He didn’t say sit in the same comfortable seat and get your one hour of free and easy religion for the week.

He said GO and PREACH to ALL creation.

He’s telling us to get down and dirty, to get serious, to get wild and passionate about growing His kingdom.

That means to skip Sunday lunch with your regular church buddies and go out and spread what you just heard. Eat lunch with the homeless this Sunday instead of with your friends and see what it does to you. It will stir your soul.

Show up in a tshirt that reads “Jesus wore a dirty robe and that was His Sunday’s best”.

Show up late because you spent extra time preaching to a nonbeliever. Sit four aisles over and two aisles down or better yet sit on the sidewalk next to a homeless friend.

Wake your kids up on a Thursday and say “lets go to church” instead of “It’s time for school”. They are little disciples and their school is their mission field. We need to make them brave and bold in their faith and let them know that every day is church and every day is the perfect day to spread the word.

If we don’t show them how to do that then where in the world do we think they are going to learn it.

Hold on, I’m breaking a sweat here and I’m just getting started.

Let’s stop seeing what we can get out of our church and start finding ways we can give to those who need us.

Who the heck do we think that we are asking what the church is going to do for us! The church doesn’t owe us a thing and it’s not there to serve us, we are there to serve it and it is there to serve our Lord.

There are those who need our faith, our conviction, our compassion, our knowledge of the Word, and yes, sometimes they might even need our money.

Yikes! Why would i even bring that up, What a jerk I can be.

Well, 95% of us are have enough money that we can go to the grocery store at least once a week and stock our refrigerators. Some of us have enough money for vacations, nice clothes and jewelry, don’t get me started on shoes or my girlfriends will kill me.

What if we gave up those luxuries to help even the playing field with the less fortunate? What if we gave as much as we took? Not just with money but with time, with love, with generosity, with compassion.

Lets stop asking what’s in it for us and start understanding that we have already been giving our gift, our “prize”, our inheritance and we better start sharing.

Let’s pray

Generous Father thank you for the abundance of blessings that You pour out on us daily. Help us to let go of our selfish human ways and turn our gifts in to blessings for others. Wipe the dirt from our eyes with Your saliva so that we can see again. Show us how to create church where ever we are.

In Jesus name, Amen

I’ll give up my shoes, I’ll give up Sunday lunch, I’ll give up buying expensive shampoo but if you EVER try to take away my Sunday morning breakfast taco be prepared for a knife fight. 

Check Your Mailbox

When I was in my 20’s I used to never check my mail. It seemed to never bring good news. There was always a bill or a late notice and sometimes a letter from my dad that I had no desire to read. Once when I was eating at a restaurant near my house I ran in to my mail man and he told me that I really needed to bring my mail in because he couldn’t fit anymore in there. Checking the mail gave me anxiety, I didn’t want the bad news that it seemed to always bring me. I’ve gotten over it but that’s not saying that instead of bills I get checks in the mail. I just have a more organized and tame life so the bad news doesn’t find it’s way there anymore. I actually really like getting the mail now. Today when I checked it there was a book, a fresh new book. My sister who is serving the Lord at a children’s camp had it sent to me. We both love books and often share our latest find with each other. We find books in the mail from her quit often. There was something else in the mail addressed to me today. It was a pink envelope with my sweet friends name in the senders address spot. I stopped for a second and thought about what she could be inviting me to or if I had ordered something for her and she was sending payment. I couldn’t remember us talking about either of those. When I opened it I found a hand written letter of encouragement and thanks and a sweet reminder of our friendship. She signed it “Your sister in Christ”. That never gets old to me, it’s one of the sweetest things that I get to hear. I love when we get to call each other sisters and brothers and get the reminder that we are children of God. In her letter she wrote about how she was brought up Catholic, changed to a Church Of Christ and then back to the Catholic church. She went on to say that she didn’t think that it mattered what building you praised the Lord in and that it was really all about your relationship with God. Amen to that my sister! Would you please turn that in to a bumper sticker. It doesn’t matter where you go to talk to God. I don’t care if you are Jewish, Catholic, Christian or any other religion, I am not going to lie to you about God’s living word. It’s pretty simple, the only way to the feet of our Father is through His son, period. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. There is not a single one of us that is perfect and we never will be but Jesus was and is and always will be. He’s perfect and he wants you to love Him and believe in Him so that you can have a mansion in the kingdom of God. You can go to church,volunteer for every job in the building, sing in the choir, take up the offering and raise your hands in the air and yell “amen” but if you don’t accept the invitation to allow Jesus Christ in to your heart then none of that matters. Now don’t get me wrong, I would love for you to join me on Sunday, hold my hand and praise our Father but it won’t get you to heaven. I would love for you to drop your kids off a the children’s church and let them have fellowship with their peers while you volunteer in another Sunday classroom but it won’t take you to the feet of our Father. The only way to get there is by accepting the gift that God is begging you to take. Take it silly. What if you have already taken it, does it give you a free pass to sit on your a…..bottom? Nope. If you have accepted Jesus as your personal savior then you better spread the word. You don’t have to go to a building with a huge cross on it to have a church service. Matthew 18:20 says so, take a look , “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”. I’m writing this about God, you’re reading this about God, that makes two of us. There, you and I went to church today.. We have to multiply God’s kingdom. We have to be proactive and productive in our faith. If you are a child of God then shout it from the roof tops. It doesn’t matter if it’s the rooftop of a Catholic church or a Christian church or the neighborhood McDonald’s, just shout it. There is someone waiting to hear it. There is someone lost and all they need is for you to be brave enough in your faith to go to them and tell them what they can have when they allow Jesus Christ in to their heart. Make your church the Starbucks on the corner, the grocery store, the break room at work, your child’s school, make your church anywhere and everywhere. I don’t want to take away from our wonderful church, I can’t wait for Sunday to roll around so that we can see our church family, I’m just saying don’t limit yourself to on building or one label of what loving God looks like. If you haven’t accepted Jesus as your savior, there’s good news in your mail box, check it, accept it and tell someone about it. You can accept it right now, all you have to do is pray with us. “God I accept Your Son as my personal savior. I accept that when He died on the cross He did it for me and to wash away my sins so that I can have eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. . I want to learn how to live my life through You and learn how to be Your hands and feet. Teach me how to understand Your word so that I can become one of your disciples. In Your sweet Sons name, amen.” My friend that sent me the letter is one of the funniest women that I know and we always joke with each other so her hand written, serious and encouraging letter came to me it meant more than she will ever know. I might hire her to send me letters in the mail to boost my self esteem about once a month, okay once a week.