What’s going on over there?

Note:  This column will be published in the Glendive Ranger Review on Sunday, November 14th.  Although it was written to a local audience in Glendive, Montana where I live and serve, it also serves as a good introductory piece for this blog and to myself.

When was the last time you got stuck in a traffic jam? It probably wasn’t here in Glendive unless you count having to wait for more than two cars at a stop sign. But most of us at some point have been stuck in traffic somewhere. I was once stuck on the Autobahn near Berlin, Germany. We literally didn’t move but 100 feet in four hours. People played volleyball, ate picnic lunches and sunbathed – all in the middle of the highway! I guess if you’re not going anywhere anyways, you may as well enjoy the time.

But I digress…anytime there’s an accident on a highway, even if it’s off to the side and not blocking the road, a traffic jam usually occurs. Why? Simply because people put on their brakes as they drive by, curious to check out the details, wondering, “what’s going on over there?”

While we haven’t experienced any traffic jams, we have seen a few brake lights. And we’ve certainly heard the question, addressed to us directly or indirectly, “what’s going on over there?” Maybe you’ve driven by the former Lutheran church on the corner of Sargeant and Power, and wondered the same thing, “what’s going on over there?”

We’ve giggled over some of the speculations we’ve heard in regards to what might be afoot at the old brick church. Are you building an orphanage? Remodeling it back into a church? Do you actually live there?

And so with you as a captive audience, there’s no time like the present to answer your question, “what’s going on over there?!”

The old brick church, affectionately called the “church house” by our kids, is first and foremost our home. We love the architectural details and history, and are honored to have the opportunity to restore and remodel it. You might have noticed framing lumber and sheetrock at various times around the place. We’re busy updating the plumbing and electrical, re-doing bathrooms, insulating, painting, refinishing floors and framing bedrooms in the basement. There’s still much left to do including a much-needed kitchen remodel, roof repair, and adding additional bathrooms. It’s a project house – but a project we enjoy. In sixteen years of marriage, we have personally designed and built two homes and remodeled another seven houses for ourselves The church house, though, is by far the “coolest” property yet!

We’re delighted to hear stories from you about our church house. Your grandparents were married here, or your mom was baptized. Your kids took gymnastics lessons, or you snuck in an open window and ice-skated in the abandoned basement. Keep those stories coming!

And, to answer the two most common questions: is it awful to heat in the winter, and whatever do you need so much room for? Obviously with 100+ year old single-pane windows, the church house is hardly energy efficient. But, with plastic on the windows and ceiling fans, it isn’t bad. And to be honest, the way we look at it, when you get to live in a historic 100-year-old building, the trade-off is a little higher energy bills!

And now to the bigger question – literally! Why do we need so much room? Well, there’s 12 of us in our family – 10 kids, a mom and a dad. That many bodies takes up a good amount of space. Our kids, ranging in age from 5-17, literally come from all corners of the earth. In addition to three birth children, we have adopted 4 kids from Ukraine, 1 from Russia and 2 from Haiti. And in case you’re wondering, “are you done yet?” While we aren’t pursuing anything at the moment, we never say never and would be blessed if an opportunity presented itself!

Maybe you’ve also noticed the yellow banner hanging on the church house, inviting you to “worship with us!” and wondered, “what’s going on over there?” Maybe you’ve heard about The Bridge and asked the same question. On Wednesday nights our couches get rearranged, additional chairs are set up, coffee is brewed, and the doors are open to anyone and everyone. We gather together to pursue, experience and follow God through singing, prayer, and biblical teaching. The group, known as The Bridge, ranges in size from 10-35 depending on the week. There are teenagers, sixty-somethings, and everything in between. You’ll find a place that’s relaxed, faith that’s real and people who are relational. At The Bridge you’ll find some who go to church elsewhere on the weekend, and some who don’t…people who know God intimately, and people who are still searching….people who come by themselves, and people who come alone….people who don’t even own a Bible, and people who read theirs daily. People vastly different from you, and some quite similar to you.

So the next time you’re tempted to put on the brakes, and wonder, “what’s going on over there?” come check it out yourself! We’d be thrilled to meet you and have you worship with us, this, and every, Wednesday at 7 PM!