My birthday’s tomorrow and last year it fell on a Thursday. I had recently made Hillsong NYC my home church and I’d been to TMNGHT 2 or 3 weeks in a row. They decided to have whats called “Team Night Social”, TMNGHT at a bar. Now THAT’S a group I can be apart of 😉
I hadn’t told my old church I was switching. No, I did, in an email to the Pastor and Worship Pastor but I didn’t say anything to anyone else. How do you do that? How do you say “What you’re doing doesn’t work for me, I feel like a stranger and I”ve been goin here for like a year” So I didn’t say anything.
I decided to have my bday party at Team Night Social because I was still in the beginning stages of being a Hillsonger and I didn’t want to disrupt the Thurs night new-friend flow. I announced that my birthday’s at Berry Park and invited my “friends” from my old church and of course my Hillsong Connect group.
It was splendid! Someone brought me cupcakes, a balloon, flowers and the night was exquisite. The next week, after work, instead of killing time at the vintage shop on 3rd Ave, I came to TMNGHT at 6pm to volunteer. Only because I was tired of walking around aimlessly for 90 min between work and when they’d open doors. Little did I know this was the start to me volunteering every week.
I would sing as I hung fairy lights and people would say “oh you should meet Blaze (Creative Pastor at the time), you should sing on the worship team”. That sounded like the biggest, best dream/opportunity/excitement I could ever have. When Blaze came back from Australia a few weeks later I was so happy to meet him however the conversation was awkward.
I put on my Teena-May-Signature smile and introduced myself by all the instruments I could play. Blaze, thinly masking frustration said “…Tell. Me. Your. Name.” I stopped. He didn’t give 2 bleeps about what I could do, he wanted to know who I was. I didn’t really have much to say.
Obviously I wasn’t ushered into Hillsong worship leading and I went back to hanging fairy lights. I would think “they have no idea who I am. I can sing like an angel, worship lead like no one’s business, ugh I’m being completely ignored!” And every week I”d greet everyone who’d come in, welcome them to TMNGHT, serve snacks, water and lemonade with genuine joy.
I was so happy. Months went by, the once burning desire to be on stage with a mic faded. On Sundays I was in the choir and even on stage, with that pack of fierce warriors my favorite times were between services, hugging, laughing, sometimes crying with those men and women, celebrating their victories, mourning their losses and just encouraging them to live in their heavenly identity.
Pretty soon, I was “2nd in command” of the TMNGHT Connections team. Whenever Leah, my leader, was running late or had to miss, I would step up and take charge of the team. I’d run the team meeting, pick out a bible verse, pray and encourage the volunteers, reminding them what we’re really doing for and its kingdom importance.
I felt so much joy being in choir on Sundays and on Thursdays serving the connections, venue design team that whenever anyone else would say “you should be up there singing” I would smile and respond, “if I was supposed to be, they’d ask me. God speaks to them too.” I didn’t loose interest, but I had such a big “YES” in my life and I learned the people in charge are the people in charge for a reason. Their leadership is my protection, they see the big picture, just trust and go with that flow.
Things were changing (as is a beautiful constant with Hillsong NYC) it was the end of the year and it was announced TMNGHT was on hold for 6 weeks for musicians trainings. What in the WORLD am I gonna do for SIX WEEKS without my beloved TMNGHT? I did play instruments but I didnt want to be in the band, I wanted to serve snacks with my friends and encourage people. I decided well, I’m not gonna sit at home, I’ll just train on keys since I”ve been playing piano since I was a small child.
The trainings were great. I met new friends, it even re-sparked my interest into electronica as I learned Mainstage (music software). So at home I would open both Mainstage and Logic, play with the sounds and start writing songs that way, as well as on acoustic guitar.
At last it was February, musician’s training was coming to an end and simultaneously my leader was stepping down. She got new job and couldn’t do Thursdays. When she told me tears welled up in my eyes. I knew this was the end of “Leah-Teena” talk /walk times to the train. And no more boisterous Leah laughs when I’d say something stupid while setting up. She asked me if I wanted to lead. My heart was 50% excited, 50% ???
I dunno, I wasn’t comfortable with THAT much responsibility at that time. It wasn’t a question of whether I could, but if I should. Also Zach (leader) didn’t reach out to me about it.
Vision Sunday was upon us and its a BIG to-do. At Heart & Soul night they announced Hillsong NYC would have two Manhattan campuses! And a bunch of other fun stuff. So it made sense, the 6 weeks was to train up new people to fill out more worship teams.
I still heard nothing of TMNGHT’s return, then Zach emailed saying Tara, his wife was gonna take Leah’s position. My brain was like “you should be upset, you’ve been there every week, you know the job” but my heart had peace and joy so, I went with that. Cuz love is better.
I visited LA end of Feb/beginning of March just to get the hell outta NYC cold-death winter. I scheduled 3 days but stayed 6 (not my fault, the storm kept me there) and it changed EVERYTHING. My heart, my destiny, all that (more on later posts).
I got back and knew I was gonna move back to LA. Didn’t know how but it all made sense. Had they tapped me to lead, how hard would it be for me to say “DEUCES!!” 3 months later? I woulda shut the LA-door before it even had a chance to open.
Now I have to say goodbye, to all of it. To my closest friends, the ones who saw my spiritual transition week by week, to laughin, singing, and sayin “welcome to Team Night!” to everyone as they come in the door. To hearing Davs and the team’s I N C R E D I B L E knowledge mic-drops that totally melt your brain. To the most fantastic worship team ever. To my NYC chapter.
OBVS I’ll be back to visit but tonight will be the hardest goodbye I’ll give. And I don’t want to, I wanna take everyone with me.