It is unusual to find me speechless. Ask Zane; he will concur. I normally have an excess of words, ready to spill out to any willing ears, or even unwilling ones. I am sure at times I even tire the Good Lord. Last week, after church service, I felt a deep need to drive and do a little thinking and listening. The holidays are so precious to me with little voices, a thousand needs, messiness and excitement. Quiet, though, is hard to find. Yesterday, the Father beckoned me away. I felt a pull to drive to our upcoming new location, and that is where I found myself unable to find words.


The weeping surprised me, as I turned down that first road I was overcome with emotion. Tears streamed down my face, it felt like coming home even though I had never seen the place before. There is much construction all around that gorgeous school building and it represented so many lives that we may be able to influence for our King. I felt an anticipation building in my spirit, a desire to be there. I wanted more than anything to run into that building and touch those walls, walk those halls; it felt sacred. Our church, our people – we are under construction as well as we stretch and mold into a new location and a new look. We are being called to something amazing!


For my quiet time today, I read a devotion titled, “It’s Not Supposed to be This Way.” Lisa TerKeurst stated, “We want to live in peace, contentment and constants here on this earth. Yet, in reality we live in between two gardens – the garden of Eden and the perfect garden our Father is preparing for us. He told us in the middle, there will be trouble, yet somehow we still seek perfection here in the journey.” Despite the beautiful moments yesterday, as I sat on that road openingly sobbing, I know there will inevitably be some struggles, pain, suffering, and heartache along the way with this move. BUT…there will also be so much to celebrate, and we will be victorious throughout it because we are walking in the light our Lord has prepared for us to follow!


We are family and I want to hear from my family. The Israelites passed on the stories of their pilgrimage and encouraged each other when the road seemed impassable. We must do the same. Please contact me if you have a story to share! This blog will be our safe place to gather and be encouraged, fall on our knees in prayer together, or simply sit quietly weeping tears of joy and sorrow. Our Father loves each of us more deeply than we can fathom. Do not make your journey alone!


“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:11



Follower of Jesus. Wife. Mother. Friend.

Once Upon a Time…

What is it about Christmas movies? Why are we drawn to them? Even as adults we love the Santa ones, reindeer, sleighs and all. We believe the love stories magically forming under perfect falling snow. We wait in anticipation for the miraculous that only seems to happen in perfect snow globe scenes. Christmas movies give us hope, joy and meet our need for miracles and make belief. They make us feel good.


How many of these Christmas classic movies have you seen?


  1. Elf
  2. A Christmas Story
  3. It’s A Wonderful Life
  4. Home Alone
  5. Home Alone 2
  6. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  7. A Charlie Brown Christmas
  8. Miracle of 34th Street
  9. The Polar Express
  10. The Grinch
  11. Jingle All The Way
  12. Rudolph
  13. Santa Clause
  14. A Christmas Carol
  15. Christmas with the Kranks
  16. Frozen
  17. White Christmas
  18. The Year Without Santa Claus
  19. A Christmas Carol
  20. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever


Does the real Christmas story give you the same feelings? Is feeling good meaningful or necessary? I will be the first to admit I like how these stories put a smile on my face, I watch the Hallmark movies and believe in the spirit of the season. I decorate every room, I bake and I play Christmas music before December. There is nothing wrong with any of that, as long as I don’t crowd out the true Christmas Spirit.


How can I encourage and foster that Spirit? We don’t need to make it so hard. In the midst of our joy take time to recognize who is at the core of our joy. The gift of our precious Jesus surpasses any gift we could give or receive. He taught us that gifts are free, not earned, but must be accepted. Jesus wants us to be filled with joy and peace so that we can shine brightly to all those we meet.


Take great care to wrap up the present of Jesus in beautiful paper, add some ribbon and embellishments and a giant tag to addressed to the world. Awaken in others a desire for the most amazing gift ever given to man. That’s a wrap!


Sherrie Smitley | Follower of Jesus. Wife. Mom. Friend.

Stuffed with Joy

It’s that week, the week we cook more food that we can possibly consume in one sitting, and then fall over in a stupor and become one with the couch. One year I decided to forgo the Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving and we put homemade leaves on the tree. Each leaf had something written that that person was thankful for. I am unsure if the practice of naming what we are grateful for actually changes us or not, but I do know it shifts our focus to what we do have, not what we don’t. So, what are some things you are truly thankful for this season? We truly are a blessed people!

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise:
Give thanks unto him, and bless his name.”
-Psalm 100:4

In the Event of an Emergency..

I found a list this week of freaky facts about airplane oxygen masks, let me share.


  1. There is only enough oxygen for a few minutes, enough to enable the pilots to use their masks so they can maneuver to a safer altitude, making it easier for the passengers to breath.
  2. There is not actually any oxygen in the mask, it would be much too heavy for the aircraft to carry. Instead there is a mix of chemicals that create oxygen when burned. When you tug on the bag it begins the process (does that mean they’re burning while on my face?)
  3. The oxygen doesn’t inflate the bag but instead the passenger’s actual breathing may inflate the bag, depending on how heavy of a breather you are.


A few weeks ago, I quite unexpectedly found myself on an airplane headed for the West coast. I tried to will that plane to go as fast as possible as I half heartedly listened to the instructions given by the flight attendant. I was on the East coast and my two week old grand baby was on the West coast in the hospital, and I needed to be there ASAP. As I listened to the directions, I was struck by the similarities on the use of the oxygen mask and our instructions for life.



  • The mask serves a purpose.
  • The mask is always there hidden away until I need it.
  • I can trust that oxygen will flow to me, regardless if I can see the bag inflate
  • I must be oxygenated to think clearly and be of assistance to anyone else.
  • Subsequently, I must breath in the life giving air first, before I can save another.


We as a Christians can face some very challenging times. We can feel as if we need an oxygen mask in order to breath deeply and fully. The truth is, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Oxygen provides life. He is Life! I must trust He is there, that He is working even if I cannot physically touch Him. I must fill my life up with His Word, seek His wisdom in order for me to grow spiritually and help others around me.


I arrived on the West Coast and immediately went to the hospital to hold my sweet eight-pound granddaughter and hug her mommy. I am thrilled to say she is fine and was able to come home two days later. I am so thankful, I am well aware it could have ended very differently. But, in order for me to be of any help to my family I first had to fill up my soul and believe that God is and was in control. Friends, we are traveling together, stay alert and be prepared, the enemy is seeking to deceive and distract when we least expect it, so be ready at all times. Jesus is our life’s breath for this entire journey. Don’t forget to breathe, in case of an emergency.


“The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”  – Job 33:4



SHERRIE SMITLEY | Northpark family member. Wife. Mom. Sister. Friend.

NC Youth Alliance 2018

One of my favorite weeks out of the year is our annual Youth Alliance School Assembly Tour.  For years, we have been in partnership with the Youth Alliance and it has opened countless doors of opportunity to speak into thousands of students across Wake County and Eastern North Carolina.


This year we are pleased to have Reggie Dabbs, the number one motivational speaker in the nation for public schools. We also have former NFL running back, Willie Green!   We will be in more than 25 different schools in five different school systems.


The most important outcome of this tour may not be what happens in each school assembly.  What happens following each assembly is why we continue to partner with schools. We have prayed for God to give us the influence to pastor our city and our school system is a big part of that process.  

I get so pumped thinking about the incredible potential of demonstrating love in a tangible way to thousands of students, teachers, and staff during this tour.   God is giving us favor and influence in our state and I’m thankful for this strategic partnership with The Youth Alliance and the school systems in North Carolina.  

For more information about the Youth Alliance, check out the videos below or check out http://ncyouthalliance.com.




Anthony Braswell | Lead Pastor. Husband. Father. Band Geek. Friend.

Welcome to Official Blog of Northpark Church!

As I lay in bed tonight unable to sleep, this phrase keeps running through my mind, “ tie on your sandals.” God seems to be urgently pulling me to ready myself for the upcoming journey we will embark on as a church. Our church story up to this point is rich with miraculous history and blessings. I would like to propose we stay closely knit together as we embark on this new move by sharing through the written word.

To this end, we are beginning a church blog, where we will have a designated place to share our walk together. We want to mark the struggles, victories, and progress by having a place we can meet. I am so excited to be on this wonderful quest with each of you, and I cannot wait to hear you share your wins and your battles.



Buckled in my seat, ready for takeoff, engines whirling, safety instructions droning in the background, we prepare. Soon, I find myself soaring high above cities, observing as stately, tall buildings magically transform to tiny, matchbox size play pieces. It quickly becomes hard to distinguish what I am even looking at through my tiny oval window. My perspective is changed, first by the distance and secondly by my limited view. Diminished visibility means I cannot see what is behind, ahead or on the other side. What is seen through my fixed space, is but a glimpse of a much larger and diverse view.


Northpark has essentially boarded a plane for a new destination. We each have our assigned seats and our views will differ. Some of us know where we are headed but many do not. None of us can know what adventures, joys, sorrows, obstacles and blessings will greet us on this trip. Rest assured though, no matter your seat or focus, we each will experiences wins and losses on this passage. The key to a safe landing will depend on our response to the turbulence as it arises.


If we choose to become fixated on the tiny patch we can see through our personal window, our perspective will be clouded and limited at best. Even though we each have our individual seat, complete with our gifts and assignments, we collectively make up this plane. We cannot and should not travel isolated from our seatmates. The bond that ties us together is the fact that we are a family. We want to finish this flight together – no passenger left behind. Our desire is to keep every seat occupied, filling any empty ones we began with, with new friends. Emergency exits may exist, but as always, we don’t want those doors to open while on our journey. If our love is evident to all, this plane will not only safely land, but as it approaches the runway, there will be some who have gone before us and prepared the way by lighting the airstrip for us, so we guided safely to our destination.


This is sure to be one incredible adventure and I can’t wait to see all God does along the way.


Romans 12:4-5 “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”


Sherrie Smitley | Follower of Jesus. Wife. Mom. Friend.