Grace Center, Franklin, TN

I have let this go for far too long.

Last Sunday, I attended church with Kelly and Tim – they attend the Grace Center in Franklin, TN. It actually received the “church of the week” award on national television for the way the center helped a sister church by donating over $200,000 to them after their church burnt down. And as they said, “This isn’t a reflection of the wealth of our church, but a reflection of God’s desire for extravagance. He is an extravagant God, and he calls for us to give extravagantly of ourselves.”

It is sentiments like that which have opened my heart back up to the Lord, and completely re-awakened my heart. As the song went today – “I’m falling madly in love with you.” – it feels amazing to fall in love again, and this time with God.

Last week was simply mind-blowing, and it was fascinating to see how different last week’s service was compared to today’s. Kelly assured me that every week is different, and completely dictated by the will of God and what He wishes to accomplish, both with us and through us.

At 9 AM, before the actual church service, there is a time where people can attend the “soaking room” where… well, I’ve never experienced anything like it. It’s in a small room, which can hold about 50 people or so, tightly squeezed in there. There are about 30 seats, but beyond that some people lay on the floor, some against the wall; others stand. And what it is…. is… a place… where the Holy Spirit is allowed to come and sit with us, stir us… and create music. There are a few musicians who sit up in the front, and a couple singers, and what happens is a completely improvised music session, led by the Holy Spirit.

If you think that sounds strange, it gets better.

Some people shout out random things like “Amen” or call out to “Jesus!,” while others are moved strongly enough to dance around, or wave streamers/flags. The emotion and presence of Him in the room causes many people to cry, while others laugh out loud, or even start giggling – filled with Joy. It is really fascinating, sometimes overwhelming… always beautiful.

Last week was intense – Kelly told me that it was usually never like that. It got so loud in that room that she almost had to leave, but for me, since it was brand new and I was entering with absolutely no expectations, I was extremely moved. The room was packed, so we sat on the floor, and I was surrounded by interpretative dancers and music and people and I just sat there and my eyes were filled with tears and my heart was filled with God – a feeling I had been without for years now.

Today was more relaxed and much more calm than last week, but it was still intense and beautiful. It was Father’s Day, so some people occasionally spoke into the microphone (and even their words sounded like music) and talked about fathers. One woman came up and almost broke my heart. She started crying at one point, talking about how she was going to “give herself back to God – give herself all over again” – and that would be her gift to Him on Father’s Day. It definitely started my tears – her talking about how God has never lied to her, or taken advantage of her, or hurt her. “You are always faithful to me; you are such a good daddy.” – oh my gosh that almost destroyed me.

The woman who sings in these sessions is named Laura Rhinehart. She has a CD out entitled “The Soaking Room” so I guess she knows what she’s doing. 🙂 Anyways, she has this gorgeous voice, and then the words she speaks inbetween the music are just lovely. Today she said:

“All the things that you long for… are a breath to Him.”

I could go on for hours. And I hope to one day write a beautiful story about my entire experience being part of this church for the last two weeks. But the end of the story is this: I am in love with God, again. I hope to keep this in my heart forever this time. Kelly and Tim have taken me into their home for the past ten days, and they have been like family to me; I am honored to know them. Their goodness simply emanates from them, while at the same time they exude a naturalness and a simplicity that makes them very human. Kelly knew from the beginning that she was supposed to take me into her home, and she trusted that feeling, and in doing so has given me a safe haven where I have been able to explore my faith again.

I have been on this road trip journey for over six weeks, and I am finally in a place where I can begin to handle all these questions and emotions I have.

A few weeks ago, I talked about how yoga almost caused me to have a breakdown – and eventually I did break down, in the front seat of my car at five in the morning, panda clutched desperately to my chest. Three weeks ago yoga was too much for me to handle, since I had so much pain residing in my soul and my heart… I had soul pain that took away my breath. Yet one week ago, I sat in that soaking room and was enveloped by the Holy Spirit, and yes I felt pain and yes I felt intensity, but mostly I felt peace, and joy, and completion.

Just to know how far I have come in a few weeks is so encouraging to me. This trip truly is restoring my spirit – and more than that, it is opening up doors for me that I can walk through for the rest of my life.

And as Laura said today:

“Jesus came to take us to the Father.

Jesus is the door.

Thank you, Jesus, for being the door.”

http://gracecenter.us/index.php#home

6 Comments

  1. June 16, 2008 at 7:33 am

    […] Grace Center, Franklin, TN …helped out a sister church by donating over $200,000 to them after their church burnt down. … I hope to keep this in my heart forever this […]

  2. tina said,

    June 16, 2008 at 8:57 am

    wow Kara thats amazing, that experience could have gone afew ways, i’m glad you took from it what you did. I’m so happy for y ou and that you are having this amazing time!

  3. surrealsparrow said,

    June 17, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Hi there! I’m Amber. How do you do? I found you when I searched for posts tagged “grace”. 🙂 I don’t even know you and I want to pack my bags and my raccoon (you have your panda, I have my raccoon) and come along with you. Your entire blog is a great breath of fresh air. I’m especially happy for you in this post. I live in Tennessee, so now you’ve got me wanting to visit this church!

    I don’t know where you’re headed next, but I might suggest Chattanooga, if you can afford to. There is a mountain there called Lookout Mountain. Inside a cave at its base is the world’s tallest underground waterfall, called Ruby Falls. The top of the mountain has a hang gliding center, and a breathtaking garden to explore called Rock City. The best part, other than exploring, is its breathtaking view overlooking a 140 ft waterfall and hundreds of miles of land.

    http://www.seerockcity.com/Flash/Wonders/photos.htm

    It seems like something you might like, based on what I’ve read. Wherever you go, have fun and be safe.

  4. Ross Walters said,

    October 9, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Grace Center is awesome. Not my home church but I lot of folks visit there just to get a ‘touch’. They really really helped me.

  5. Annie said,

    January 15, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    I am a member at Grace Center and have been for over 8 years now. I am so happy you were blessed! I just wanted to let you know that the woman with the CD called the Soaking Room is named Laura Rhinehart, so you can track it down if you want. Happy soaking!

  6. November 20, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Hi…I sometimes will do a random google check on myself (crazy, though it may be) and I ran across your story of what happening in soaking when you visited. I remember that day very vividly…I just wanted to say “thank you” for sharing, it made my day to read of how the Lord touched you. I hope that you are doing well…

    In the Father’s Amazing Love,
    Laura Rhinehart


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