an update on church

Over the weekend, a quiet transition took place here at Chatting at the Sky. We got a bit of a new look – lovely green and blue and, well, some other things, too. There still some tweaks and hiccups to work out, but if you read in a reader or through email, might you click over and take a peek?

July and August were a deep breath in and now we prepare for the activities of this fall. Waking up yesterday morning, I noticed the date on my phone: September 1. For the past two years, I’ve had a book release on September 1. I felt a moment of relief when I realized, Not this year! No book of mine will release today. And then I laughed at myself because, hello, I have a book coming out this fall. So it’s pretty much the same.


But today is Labor Day so that means the kids are home, the pool is open for one last day, and my mother-in-law will be packing away all of her white clothes until Easter.

We’ve been easing ourselves back into church, visiting a small one near downtown. The entire congregation is made up of less people than our previous church’s youth group. Our three kids were exactly half of the K-5 Sunday School class yesterday. Granted, a lot of people were out of town for the holiday, but you get the idea. I thought we would visit around to a handful of churches in town, but I forgot how hard that is to do with kids.

If I’m honest, that might be my outward excuse. The truth is, my own soul is weary at the thought of trying on church.

So we come to this small place where they lead us in thoughtful music, where they leave time for silence, where I sit, not alone, but with my husband the whole service and he doesn’t have to leave early to run downstairs. He doesn’t have to run at all these days.

If I try to think too far ahead, anxiety begins to cloud and distract. I’m challenged to stay in these moments, to appreciate the simplicity of what is true right now rather than try to answer all the questions I have about church and our future.

We take each day as it comes. John does this infinitely better than I do, but I’m learning and we’re in this together and I think that’s the best part.

As for that book I have releasing, I plan to make a fun little announcement about that this week so I hope you’ll come back around.


  1. says

    Prayers for you Emily as you follow God as He leads you to a new church. And what a sweet time as you sit side by side with your husband quietly, calmly resting in the presence of God – no rush, no responsibilities- just the two of you together in God’s presence. And oh…my copy is preordered & I can’t wait to get it in my hands :-).

  2. Heather says

    I like your new look! Prayers for you and yours as you continue to lean into this time of transition and unknowing.

  3. says

    We have had to change churches many many times because of moving mostly, so I know exactly how hard it is to “try on church” ……love that phrase!! Many, many people are have never in their lives had this experience and they are very blind to the energy and effort it requires of those who are seeking “the place where they are supposed to serve”. It is so tempting sometimes to just remain “invisible” instead of put yourself out there, hoping for a welcoming response. Try not to be overwhelmed in it all, you will find your church home, it just takes time, discernment, and patience. Prayers for your journey. Blessings, Linda (anxious for your new book) Soak in every moment with your newly available husband, I know God is working in it all!

  4. says

    The new look is beautiful, and you and your pretty profile look right at home in the new space. (I love that you’re wearing green. Coincidence? I’m doubting it right now.)

    Looking forward to the newsie-news and, of course, your annual fall book release. :)

  5. Patricia says

    “where I sit, not alone, but with my husband the whole service”

    Oh my, can I relate to this! My husband is a priest, and on the weekends he isn’t serving or celebrating, or on the weekday mornings we are able to make it to prayers together, I, too, love having that space next to me in the pew occupied by him. :) Enjoy!

  6. says

    Hi Emily … I’m new to your blog, coming via your sister. Love your look, hear your heart, am looking forward to getting to know you a bit better.

    And yes, I hear you on the church thing. Yes. I do …

  7. says

    We transitioned last year when my husband changed positions from traditional ministry service to a non-traditional role (he now manages a Christian camp in eastern NC). It was more exhausting than I imagined finding a new place to worship as a family. I also celebrated the gift of being able to sit in the service next to my husband. Few people understand what a blessing that is.

    The church searching effort was worth it–we have found a new church home that is smaller than the one we left. The smallness has afforded our family a greater since of community within ourselves and within our church, and we delight in the fact we can be together on Sundays.

    Love the new look and looking forward to the new book!

  8. says

    love the new look! it’s refreshing & calm & your picture is stunning! peeked over at your schedule & noticed that you may run into my parents at the Cove. they both work there in the training center. my mom is a greeter & in charge of the green room & my dad works at the front desk. hopefully they’ll be working that weekend so you guys can meet.

  9. says

    Having been a member of my church for almost exactly half my life (why has this last half gone so much faster than the first did?), I can’t imagine trying to find a new church.

    Praying for your family in this season of your life, sweet Emily.

  10. says

    Hi Emily!

    I love the new look! It’s lovely, soft, inviting, classic, spacious, sweet and makes me want to come back. Now that I’ve met you, I can more convincingly say – it’s just like YOU! The lots-of-white-space is a great reminder for me to make more of that in my calendar…something your writing often inspires me toward. I’m putting out cards for your new book release tomorrow at our study group launch! And that local fellowship is blessed to have your family join them…praying now hearts knit well and quick :-)

    In His grip with you,

  11. says

    Emily, I just got caught up on things and read about your husband’s job transition. My husband and I walked a similar path almost a year ago. He stepped down from youth ministry after 11 years at the same church (right after my small group girls graduated too!), and we moved to a small community where he’s doing fundraising for a non-profit hospital. I smiled at the “sabbatical” reference in one post, because that’s what he’s been calling it too. We are still struggling to settle into a church, although we don’t feel far from God. We are processing/talking/praying just as much now as a year ago. Our emotions are less raw now, but the lessons are still rich. My husband would say a main theme for him in the last year has been letting go of ministry as an identity, which is interesting he is considering returning to ministry. I’m not sure if it’s encouraging to hear from a similar sojourner, but please know we’ve been enriched by our experience. Blessings on your journey, and I will pray for you and your husband! (Oh, and I love the new look too!)

  12. says

    The last few years we also went through the transition of my husband stepping out of being employed full time at our church, and then actually stepping out of that church all together awhile later. We’d been there our whole lives, so it was quite the emotional process. We then spent a year sitting quietly in a small church just like what you describe, and “recovering” in a sense from the demands that “ministry” had placed on our lives our entire marriage. It was good. Much needed.
    And now we find ourselves somewhere new. Part of a church body that we are excited to be in. At peace that we are exactly where God would have us be, after so many years of feeling up in the air. Back when we left the church that had been a part of us our whole lives, I thought that no church would ever again feel like home. But God worked in a lot of amazing ways during that transition time, (and is still at work I’m sure!)
    Not sure why I wanted to tell you all this, other than to encourage you that if you ever feel discouraged with the in between that you’re in, know that it’s not a bad thing. It can actually be very good. And to take comfort in the truth that we’ve really had settled into our minds through all of this: that the church is not a place but a people. So no matter where you GO, you ARE the church. :)

  13. says

    I remember how hard it was for us to find a church while we were in seminary, of all places, and remember wishing there was just one in town, so we wouldn’t have to make the choice!

    All best to you and your family. Things look gorgeous here. xo

  14. says

    Beautiful new look on the website, Emily! Lovely and restful to the eye.

    Weary of trying on church–such an effective way of putting this. We too are in a bit of a transition about churches, and it is tiring.

    Deb Weaver

  15. says

    Love the new look as well…(liked the previous look too (:)

    A few years ago we too,with girls in tow, changed churches. It isn’t easy. We have been attending our current church for a several years, but still unsure if it is where we are supposed to be, as my husband and I discuss and differ on things… Praying God leads you through this time of seeking Him through His people, and that you would find the peace and place He wants for you in this time.

  16. says

    Very pretty! You and the blog!
    Someone had a photo on Instagram the other day that said “Transition” a prophetic word for the Body of Christ. And I thought, it’s so true! So many moving including our family.

    We have been at our little country church of about 200 for 18 or so years now. It struck me two Sundays ago how much we have grown and how God is moving among us. How fervently I’ve prayed. and stayed when it was painful. and how it has grown to be such a source of strength for me and how I love our people. Deeply love them and need them and am so grateful for them. I pray for you to find your heart’s home for your family. It is a beautiful, and sometimes painful journey so worth it. Similar to marriage I think. Yes. Very similar. Very valuable.

  17. says

    Your site looks so nice and the picture of you in green is lovely! Prayers from here to there during your time of transition. We left our home church about a year ago, the church my husband attended as a baby until recently. The people there were family. Leaving wasn’t quite as hard as I thought, we felt ready, but the “becoming” again in a new church environment has been a bit of a challenge. But…God is faithful and He has been meeting us there each week in new and different ways. Funny thing – when we get out of our routine, our place of comfort, we listen harder to what God is saying, pay more attention to Him and less to ourselves. It has been a needed change for us.

  18. Janee White says

    I love that when the dust settles, all that is left is the simplistic beauty of His Presence. I pray you enjoy this season of change, and that your eyes see all the blessings He has handpicked specifically for you.

  19. says

    I LOVE your new look, Emily! I’m a big fan of green and I may or may not have the same propensity with it in my wardrobe too. I can’t wait to hear your announcement relating to your book. I’m also feeling the same about “trying on church”. Looking forward to November in Winston-Salem!

  20. Mindy says

    We are in a transition I sorts a well. We left the church I grew up in, two years ago. It had been a wild and crazy ride, but God’s goodness is so wonderful. The church we are at now is such a beautiful place to be. Growing and on fire for The Lord. It has been a great place to heal and find myself. God is moving us on though. I can feel His gentle urge letting me know we are still in transition and He wants us somewhere else, but this time, I feel so much better about the move. I had never been to another church before we came to this one, I feel like God grew me up, and prepared me for the next step. Praying for y’all. It is hard not to be anxious, but I keep hearing Ps 46:10, so I’m trying to sit still like I tell my children to;) thanks for sharing Emily. Much love to you and your family.

  21. says

    The search for a church can be exhausting. But Id encourage you not to be turned off by a small church body. Numbers don’t necessarily mean anything if the church isn’t experiencing the presence of God and preaching the truth.(I’m sure you know this but I’m just gently reminding you:)).
    I can speak from experience because, while our home church hub here is small, we have churches and Bible schools all over the world…and yet our church at the headquarters is by no means grand. We believe the Lord will bring increase in His time but for now, we’re remaining faithful in what we’ve been called to do. And as someone else above mentioned, you’re able to really get to know people in a smaller congregation, as opposed to just the members of your small group. (When the entire church IS the small group):)
    I hope you take my words in the way they’re meant…lovingly and respectfully. Im saying a prayer for you right now(so I dont forget:)) that the Lord will lead you to the perfect place He wants you to be at.

  22. Cynthia Swenson says

    Just wanted to remind you that church attendance is more about Jesus than us. Jesus, “Do you love Me? Then feed & care for my sheep.” Focusing on basics of the faith helps alleviate “out of our comfort zone anxiety”. It’s God alone Who rewards our faith walk! Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia

  23. says

    LOVE the new look, Emily! (But the link in the opening box does not take me to this page, but to an old one. I got here by clicking on the name of the blog post in my email.)

    You sound rested and happy, even though life is filled with uncertainty. I’m so glad you and your husband can sit together in worship – somehow, it all feels different when you can sit with someone you love.

  24. says

    Blue and green looks lovely on you. I can’t wait for A Million Little Ways…I think I’ve pre-ordered it twice :). I feel such peace in your voice each time I stop by lately. That is something that keeps me coming back, friend. Praying for all these transitions.

  25. says

    Emily, your new site is beautiful!!! Simple, clean, and refreshing, just like your writing!

    I’m loving the ways you are documenting the changes and unknowns taking place in your life right now–such an encouragement to me! Thank you!

  26. says

    LOVE the new look over here at Chatting at the Sky!

    I understand how hard “trying on church can be.” I admire you and your husband and the step that you’re taking. It’s hard to move out of our comfortable into what’s not, isn’t it? I’m sure there are hard days, but tucked around and in all that hard is something fresh and new and different. And that’s HIS specialty. HE’ll continue to show you the way. One little step at a time : )

  27. says

    love the new look and colors, emily. and the shot of you is beautiful!
    looking forward to the new book – when i read that series first on your blog i hoped that someday it would make it to book form. i’m the kind of person that needs reminding of things – and often. so i like it all in one place where i can go back and refresh as needed. :))

    and “trying on church.” yes and yes! so been there. i hear ya loud and clear~ give me a camp fire and some passionate christians just there to love on others.. that’s the kind of church i want! if you find it, we might just move to nc.

    blessings in these transition days!

  28. Rebel says

    It is never easy to step out into the unknown and find a new church home. It’s just not as simple as “Well I was raised Baptist so I’ll go to the nearest one”. The town where I go to church has a population of less than 60k, but has 137 churches. So we had more than enough to choose from in that town and other towns near our home. I drive 26 miles to go to this church. Living in the South, church is less about what you get out of it and a sense of community and more about cliques and acceptance.
    We found a church near our home and it truly was my church family. The pastor wife still is my closest friend. Our pastor had a serious (almost fatal) accident. He just was not the same afterwards and it was very hard for him to communicate with people outside the pulpit. The congregation dwindled and he did not understand why, it was like watching a slow death. After it closed we did not go anywhere for 2 years, it felt like my soul was rotting. I prayed daily that God would lead me to where I could once again call home. One day a man sent me a link request on LinkedIn and I noticed that he was part of the worship team at a church nearby. I asked him about the church and how big the congregation was. I spent the last year before our old church closed as the only person in the congregation and I was the video crew. I wanted (I needed) to go to a big church, I told God I wanted LOTS of church family and I longed for the support.
    Well he sent me to a great one! Epic Church in Decatur, AL
    You will find one, just pray for guidance! It may not be the closest church, but it will be the right church!

  29. says

    I love your new look- so clean and reminds me of you. Can’t wait for your new book and to hear news of your Barn Day. I want to have a Barn Day like you are having.
    Be patient with the church transition and keep your eyes open to all that the Lord is doing around you and look for the SURSEES.

  30. says

    We recently began attending a very small church after being at a megachurch for years. Our children, also, made up half of the sunday school.

    There are things we miss and occasionally we go back to a Sat evening service at the big church to fill our tanks, but this little place has been God’s answer for some healing we’ve needed. Prayers for you on this journey.

    I wrote about the healing here.

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