Humans of North Harbor #7: Laurie Howell

[For an introduction to Humans of North Harbor, click here]

Humbly Seeking The Reality Of God

Laurie grew up in a Baptist home and church.  She felt very loved in her upbringing and supported in her church.  She went to a Christian camp, Camp Fair Haven, growing up and it was very instrumental in her faith upbringing.  Her brother went to camp there before her and was saved at camp. He came home and led Laurie through the sinner’s prayer to become a Christian when she was five.  Later, she went to the camp herself as a camper and then worked there as a teen. While she was working there, in the difficulty of serving in the kitchen and being available to kids all day long, she realized that she really did want to follow Christ no matter what.  That is when she really began to own her own faith.

Laurie went to a Presbyterian college.  Although beliefs between Baptists and Presbyterian were similar, there were some differences too.  She had been brought up to believe that anyone who didn’t believe what her church believed either didn’t really love God or were stupid and naive.  But in college she met many people who were intelligent and loved God and had differences of opinion on certain theological issues. This really made her question her belief system and who God was.  She kept wrestling through different ideas and beliefs with God, and changed her views on certain things, such as predestination.  She feels it has all allowed her to gain a better understanding of who God really is.

Laurie studied abroad while in college in Costa Rica.  When she got home, she felt nothing made sense anymore in her world view including God.  She struggled to see the poverty there and had so many questions. What does it mean to be a white North American woman of privilege and how do you use that and live responsibly and not forget and why does God let it work this way and what is He up to and what is her part in it?  Her world view had changed. She hasn’t necessarily resolved these questions either, but is bravely holding them and living when she can with these injustices in mind while holding faith in a God that she can’t completely understand.

This past summer Laurie was in a dark place and feeling drained being a busy mom of two littles.  One day, she found a rare moment to read her Bible and read one of the Psalms. She felt she couldn’t relate with the psalmist who was talking about enemies who were literally trying to kill him as she did not have that same threat on her life.  But she felt God tell her that yes she can relate, because yes she does have an enemy, Satan, and no matter how she is experiencing attack it is no less real than those Psalms. She felt reassured that God was with her. Later that evening, when her husband, John, came home from work they were talking about their days and it turned out he had read the same psalm that day and heard the same thing.  She felt God fighting their enemy as He pulled them closer together in their marriage and closer to Him as well.

Laurie is a big North Harbor fan.  Because of her theological background, Laurie really appreciates North Harbor and the fact that there are many different theological views represented among us.  She feels The Harbor is a safe place to agree to disagree or admit to struggles. She feels it allows her to invite non-Christian friends to church into a place where it is ok to say you’re not sure what you think about God. She appreciates the focus on spiritual disciplines which she didn’t experience growing up.  She has experienced God in new ways by experiencing different types of prayer, meditation and silence. She continues to push into experiences that she may not prefer, such as silence, but is willing to do what it takes to learn who God is. She is encouraged when she finds a part of God that isn’t how she would choose.  It only shows her that God is God and is real and not just made by her preferences. She loves the music at North Harbor. She likes that there are a lot of young families to relate to. She appreciates the intentionality about everything that gets put in place. Christian community is very important in Laurie’s life. A lot of her closest friends are from her church community.  She knows that any struggle she has, she has people to go to that have similar world views and will pray for her and point her to Jesus.

Watch Laurie's full story below:

Laurie lives in Brunswick with her husband, John, and their two boys.  She is the Elementary (and preschool) Specialist for the Kids’ Cove Ministry at North Harbor Community Church.

I I willing to admit to and/or sit with parts of God that I may not like?
I wonder... where does my faith have space for differences in theology?  Where does it not?
I wonder...what does our current world situation have to do with how I view God?  How does my faith in God impact how I view or act towards our current world situation?
I do I contribute to making North Harbor a safe place for Christians and non-Christians alike to explore issues of faith?