Sunday, July 25, 2010

Assembling Together

Hebrews 10:24-25

“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

I love Sundays. I love meeting together with brothers and sisters in Christ to worship our God together. I love the encouragement to worship and to live out the Christian life that comes from the simple gathering together to worship through prayer and song and hearing the Word preached in truth. I love the kindness God showed us in not calling us to a Lone Ranger kind of existence but in calling us to His family. I love His kindness in making it not optional that we meet together, too. It is vitally important to worship Him in private, but there is just something other about worshiping alongside other believers who are also worshiping Him.

One of the things that made our time in St. Louis so very sweet was the church God brought us to before we had even fully moved there. Drew and I did some research online and found Parkway Baptist and just really believed we should visit there. When Drew went to St. Louis a month before the rest of us followed, we visited Parkway together when I flew up to visit him. Then he continued to visit there until I and the kids completed the move. We never felt the need to go anywhere else. It was with that portion of the Body that we knew we were supposed to join for the short time we had there. And the really neat thing about the relationships we formed there is that they will be eternal. Even if we don’t get to have much time together this side of heaven, we will be together there.

God, I believe, is showing His kindness once again to my family. Again we did some research ahead of time and found a church here in Kentucky where we thought we would like to visit. We have been visiting Northside Baptist Church since before we moved here (got to visit on a couple of house-hunting trips), and in the few weeks we’ve lived here, I have sensed the Spirit in a very real way each time we’ve joined with the church to worship - even the Sunday one of my kids got (quite and unexpectedly with no warning at all) sick right before the sermon and Drew had to take him out. The pastor later asked if he got sick or was Dad taking him out for some discipline. That horrified my son! We’ve NEVER had to take him out for misbehavior - he likes to be at church and always behaves.

Anyway, I am thankful for today. I heard some things that really touched my heart and that I want to continue to ponder this week and in days ahead. The pastor prayed before worship that this service would not be one where we sat on “cruise control” but that we would truly enter into worship. That pierced my heart, because lately I’ve kind of felt like I’m sort of living my life on “cruise control” at times and I don’t want to settle for that. I want to live on purpose, if that makes sense. Then the music pastor talked about how easy it is to trust God when things are going well and when we ‘feel’ Him. The hard thing is to trust Him when we don’t feel anything. That pierced me again. I mentioned earlier that I’m kind of in the blues right now. They say that moving is right up there with the major stresses of life, and if that’s so, I’ve had a few of those this year. That not feeling anything is an obstacle I face sometimes. I’m there right now. I think I’ve been in a bit of a slump since the miscarriage in February that, while not debilitating and something I try not to talk much about, is something that I still find myself needing to work through at unexpected times. But what a privilege to take even that to God in prayer. What an awesome salvation that we know that our hope is not in our feelings, but in His grace. Pastor’s sermon today contrasted Mt. Sinai, the mountain of Law, with Mt. Zion, the mountain of grace and forgiveness as we continued studying the book of Hebrews. He emphasized that Jesus is the Something better - just as I studied in the spring with our ladies’ Bible study. In fact, the “sermon in a sentence” was this today: “If we do not hinge our entire hope for salvation on coming to the mount of grace in repentance and faith, then we will be judged by the standards of the mount of law.”

Friends, I am so eternally grateful that Jesus is my High Priest and that His blood is what makes me right with God. I do not trust in my feelings, or lack of them. I trust in Him. I trust in what He did at Mt. Zion in offering this sinner a grace so rich, so full, so complete that I can hang all my hope on Him and trust Him.

The choir at our church in St. Louis sang a beautiful song recently called, “Lord, Have Mercy.” I sat there just overwhelmed as I looked at the empty cross in the baptistry and thought, “He has. Oh, He has shown us such mercy. That He came and endured the shame of the cross for the joy that was set before Him and would save such a sinner as me. Such incredible mercy.”

It has been a beautiful Sunday, and I am grateful.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thinking Too Much Again

Haven’t blogged much in a while. Moving is an interesting endeavor. Busy combined with all kinds of emotions leads to a little bit of the blues for me. It always does. Add the blues to my normal back to school nerves, and you get me writing a blog post that's more emotionally motivated than I usually like to do. I guess I just had some thoughts I'm needing to work out. Hope I don't wish I'd just kept quiet later. Anyway, been doing some thinking as I go about the business of getting boxes unpacked and keeping things I’ve already organized neat and tidy, no easy feat with three bored kids at home.

I’ve decided that there are things about the back to school time of the year that I find, well, frankly, irritating. Because it’s at back to school time that the snarkiest of the home school comments start coming back around. I’ve already written about this here and here, but, well, let’s just suffice it to say that I’m stressed enough as it is, I don’t need the homeschool pressure right now. I’m very, very glad for those who do it, I know it is not easy and it has been an uphill struggle to get to where it is today. However, it isn’t for all of us.

At this point in my life, I don’t want to homeschool. There. I said it.

I know that a lot of the comments I hear and see and read have to do with how defensive my homeschooling friends feel because of the flack they get about socialization and with how hard it has been to get the respect and legal standings necessary to do it well. I’m not dishing out the flack. I know that if homeschooling is done right it can be an excellent and extremely wonderful and rewarding way to educate children. I'm even thankful it's a valid option out there. I’m not knocking homeschooling, so don’t hear me saying I am. To each his own, do what’s right for you and yours. However, I get a little tired of the superior and persecuted attitude that pops up a lot of times in discussions about it - not in every discussion, but I'm sure you know what I mean. You aren’t the only ones who are being criticized for your choice about schooling. It goes both ways. There is a growing pressure on and judgment of those of us in the seriously, biblically Christian community about homeschooling that I am just, frankly, tired of. I am not a worse mother because my children go to school outside my home, so I really wish we could stop taking quotes out of context and implying that all kids who go to school are bullied or scarred in some horrible way.

Here’s the thing, for those who know my kids, I mean really know them, can you honestly say that Drew and I have done them a disservice by not homeschooling them? I don’t believe we have. I do believe it is our duty and responsibility to look out for what is best for them and to protect them and train them up in the way of the Lord. How we do so is between us and Him.

Here’s another thing, for all the discussion about ‘socialization’ and how bad public school is about negative socialization, can I just be very, bluntly honest about something which may be a little shocking? Most of my bitterness and emotional hurt that I still struggle to overcome did not come at the hands of my public school friends. Most of those hurts that well up in me unexpectedly at times and which I have to remember are over and done with came from church youth group and my own internal insecurities and misunderstandings. Just being honest. I stumbled across a site recently with pictures from my old youth group - some from my time and some much later, and at first I really enjoyed looking and remembering. But before I knew it, there was this empty, hurt feeling welling up in me and I wondered, “What is this? Where is this coming from?” And that empty, hurt feeling was all too familiar. I told my husband that I really like who I am now, and I really like our life together, and so much of my life has been since high school and youth group and so much of who I am has developed in the years since, so why did it take a few pictures to bring back all that emotional hurt I thought I had left behind? I did not leave behind my faith, mind you, but I did leave behind the pecking order and unkind joking and other things that marked a lot of my time in youth group. I do not mean to imply that everything about our youth group was bad. There was MUCH that was so good and beneficial for which I am thankful. But there was a lot of hurt along the way, too. My husband, wise man that he is, told me that I wouldn’t be who I was today if I had not lived through those experiences, all of them, though, and he’s right.

Anyway, my point is, you can shelter your kids from public school, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re sheltering them from the emotional hurt that can come from pecking orders, bullying or just the angst and unkindness of teenagers. The worst of that for me was not experienced at school. There's probably a whole other discussion we could have about the benefits vs. non-benefits of church youth groups and what we adults need to be doing about it, but that's for another time.

So, dear friends, homeschooling is a great option. It is not, however, for everyone - even some of your Christian brothers and sisters, so please understand and lets all of us, all of us, and I am so talking to myself too, please guard against pride in how we discuss the issue. And I hope I don’t regret posting this later. Not looking to start an argument.

Just tired of having to hear it all again every stinkin’ July/ August. I’ll just hit the post button and walk away from the computer now.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Some Pictures to Share

To my Mom and Dad, I thought you might like to see these:

We visited the Arch one more time before leaving St. Louis. The first time we visited the Arch it was about minus 2 degrees (we moved to St. Louis in December) and not very crowded, and this day it was at least 102 degrees and terribly crowded. It was extremely hot, anyway. Summer is like that. I like this picture, but I never seem to have pictures of the whole family because Drew is always the one taking the picture. Still a cool picture, though. Look how big the boys are getting:

She had to "touch the 'Rainbow Arch'" one more time:

I love this picture!

Princess Rachel decided to dress Roscoe up in her angel wings. He was not amused:

Our longsuffering dog:

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Status Report - July 2010 my new computer desk in our new house! Finally have internet as of this afternoon. Two weeks without internet or TV is a LONG time. I went to the library the other day to try and check in with Facebook so I could answer a few posts and a friend request, but the policy which was posted prominently right by the computers there said no social networking, so, being the rule follower I am, I refrained, twitchy though my fingers were. I feel like I know more about what’s going on with Harry Potter than I do with the real world at the moment. We arrived at our new house last Friday and the moving truck finally got here on Tuesday. And today the cable/computer guy finally got here to hook us up. Ahhh. Mom, Dad, family.....I do have a new phone number now, too. I’ll get it to you as soon as I figure out what it is.

Eating.....homemade salsa and chips which I made last night in my new kitchen. (The salsa I made, I mean....not the chips.) Well, I was eating that right before I was interrupted and we went on some errands, but I’m back at the computer now and I’m not eating anything because I’m full from dinner now. But the chips and homemade salsa were a really good snack way back earlier this afternoon when I started this post.....the post which may take me a while to finish because I’ve been so long without the ability to blog that I just really want to say some things even if they are totally boring to anyone else. :-)

Drinking....sweet tea that I made in our new kitchen on my new stove. Sensing a trend here? By the way, I very much like the new cooktop stove we have. I’ve never cooked on one before, and I must say I quite enjoyed how evenly the skillet heated this morning and how nice the fried eggs I cooked for my middle son turned out. I’ve never gotten them to cook so nicely before. He might get them more often now. He will be pleased. Cooking may just become enjoyable again.

Surprised...that when I got on the Wii Fit Plus yesterday for the first time in two weeks it told me I had lost 3.5 pounds since last time. Woo-hoo! I guess the stress of the first movers cancelling on us and being unsettled for the last two weeks and all the stresses of cleaning the apartment and unpacking here are one way to finally get the scale moving in the right direction. That means I will have to make my salsa, chips and sweet tea a rare treat and not a regular occurrence. boxes. We really have too much stuff. One good thing about moving: purging some of the too much stuff. The packers probably would have liked it if we’d purged before they packed, but we didn’t. I’ve made a lot of headway but still lots to do. The kids are going to VBS this coming week and Drew and I plan to get MUCH done during those evenings, too. The thing about moving is that by the time the moving truck finally got here we were so tired from the cleaning, packing and sleeping on an uncomfortable air mattress and not having any chairs for DAYS that it makes the unpacking a little...daunting. But we’re almost there.

Hoping....we can stay put for a while here. I really don’t want to do this again real soon. Moving is hard. It is really funny hearing Rachel get lost in her new house though. Can’t tell you how many times I hear a little voice calling, “Where’s the bathroom?” or “Where is my room again?” Poor thing. It’s hard for adults, but I think it’s even harder for a 4-year-old. She misses her St. Louis friends. It’s a little sad hearing her talk on her toy phone and having pretend conversations with them. this advertisement that was stuck in our mailbox: “Suddenly Slender Body Wraps - 100% inorganic Minerals & Enzymes & Sea Extracts.” I guess if it’s 100% inorganic that means it’s all completely man-made, nothing natural about it at all? Wonder if it was proofread before copying and passed out or if they really thought inorganic would be a great selling point? Funny!!

Reading....the Harry Potter series. After a lot of thought and consideration and reading about them, I finally decided I would read the books and then talk about them with the boys. Surprised myself by really enjoying them. I’m on book 5 so don’t give me any spoilers yet! I did tell the boys I had to read them first, so they are reading them as I finish them. We have had some really good discussions as they are reading them after me.....learning to read thoughtfully. On a side note, it was a little weird this past few weeks without internet and cable when I realized at one point I knew more about what was going on at Hogwarts than I did what’s happening in the real world. It’s nice to be connected again. We had to buy a newspaper on Sunday just to find out what’s going on out there.

Feeling.....sad about friends we had to leave behind in St. Louis. I already miss you all. But I’m also excited about the adventure ahead. This seems like it will be a good place to live, too.

Thankful...for the great worship service and Sunday School class at the church we visited last Sunday; we heard great teaching from the pastor and the Sunday School teacher. Looking forward to visiting there again tomorrow and the kids get to join the kids there at Saddle Ridge Ranch VBS next week. They already know the songs from Parkway Baptist’s VBS. At least they’ll get to meet some new kids.

Sinking in....that my oldest son will be a middle schooler this year. Ack! With all the hoop-lah of moving I’ve been able to block out that little stressor, but now it is quickly upon us. I have to go on Monday and get him signed up for the 6th grade orientation and then on the 22nd get to go register him for 6th grade and my middle boy for 4th grade. How did these kids get so big? Joshua is going to be taller than me before I know it. He’s only 3 inches shorter than me now. Not that I’m all that tall, but still. When did this happen?

Ending....this post. Lots to do, but glad to get to blog again.

*Once again I thank Lisa for not minding too much when I copy her status report format. It's truly a blog-saver..... :-)