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Today is my first day back to technology for almost 3 weeks.  The vacation was amazing and lovely, and I came to work with 1000+ on my Google Reader and over 600 work emails.  As I work through the deluge of information I came across one scripture listed two different places (here and here).  I really, really, really like the scripture – which is one of the types of scriptures that you’re just going to read over until someone makes you stop and see it for the first time all over again.  Here is the scripture in its entirety:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8, NIV)

There is one other part of the bible in the New Testament that sums up what we should do:

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 
 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:35-40, NIV)

I like how it’s worded in both portions of scripture.  The second one is much more well-referenced, and for good reason since Christ says it is the greatest commandment.  But the first – to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly – I think it sums up a lot of what we need to do now.  But when I think about how much outrage and judgement I see on a daily basis (not just from Christians, mind you) I think that the first scripture from Micah is a good reminder that we maybe should see a bit more often.  Because loving mercy is hard.  Walking humbly is difficult.  Acting justly – while loving mercy – now THAT is tough.  If we can maintain love throughout it all I think the world would be pretty amazing.

Do you ever have the BEST of intentions, and then something happens so that it JUST. DOESN’T. WORK. OUT.

Yeah, me too.  But luckily (and by luckily I mean my husband saved the day), this story has a happy ending.

I love to bake, but I don’t love to gain weight from eating things I bake… so I generally try to experiment when giving away food.  Luckily I’m a Baptist now so there’s plenty of opportunities for me to bake.  I have been eyeing a Key Lime Pound Cake recipe for some time and thought that the spring BBQ at my church was a perfect chance to try it out.

How I found the recipe is kind of weird – and once you hear the story – ironic.  I was looking at reviews of my bundt pan and someone mentioned how they had made a key lime pound cake in it.  The reviewer talked about how nice it was and how tasty and pretty it was.  My baking senses started tingling and I printed out the recipe.  What I failed to do was note that the reviewer put straight up butter into the pan to get it to come out.  What I also failed to do was take into consideration the 10-cup capacity and the 12-cup recipe.

Oops.

So. After the extra two cups billowed out and snuck down the side of the pan, I thought, hey, I bet I can still save this.  No one will look at the bottom of the cake once I invert it onto a beautiful cake stand! 

The title of this post is “Key Lime Cakeballs” – you can see where this is going, right?

I couldn’t get the cake out of the pan. It wouldn’t even budge.  I started to worry and Justin (my amazing husband) said: Hey, why not just make cake balls? You can do that, right?  Except I had never successfully been able to coat the cakeballs.  No time like the present to learn!  So he looked into the correct way to do the coating (I had not been adding shortening to my melted chocolate chips) and I figured out a way to make the balls.  Somehow the cumulation of everyone in the family working together – me to bake, my father-in-law to buy chocolate chips, and my husband to think outside of the box – we ended up with some of the tastiest cake balls I’ve ever had.  And since they’re picky and strange and I’ve never seen anything like it… I decided to post the recipe for you.  Enjoy!

Key lime cake balls with blue-green sprinkles!

Key Lime Cakeballs
(adapted from this recipe)

Cake:
1 cup softened salted butter
1/2 cup shortening
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon key lime zest
1/4 cup fresh Key lime juice

Frosting:
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp lime zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
water, as needed

Candy coating:
2 packages Nestle white chocolate chips
5 tbsp shortening

  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl, set aside.
  3. Mix butter and shortening in large bowl until creamy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, until just blended.
  5. Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture, 1/3 of the milk, and repeat until both are fully incorporated into the butter mixture.
  6. Stir in vanilla, key lime zest and key lime juice.
  7. Stick your finger in and take a taste because mmm, mmm, mmm!
  8. Bake at 325 until a toothpick comes out clean.  If you bake it in a tube pan (which might be easiest) it will take around 1.5 hours… start testing it at around the 1 hour mark.
  9. Let cool about 15 minutes in pan, then dump it out and crumble it up so it will cool faster. I just put it in a huge bowl and took a sharp knife to the chunks that I had scooped out.
  10. While the cake is cooling prepare the frosting.  Mix powdered sugar, lime juice and vanilla extract, adding water very slowly until you get sort of a runny glaze.
  11. Mix the glaze in with the chopped/crumbled cake until well combined.
  12. Create balls! I used gloves.  I got a lot. Probably around 5 dozen, just depends on what size you use.  Put them on parchment paper or some sort of baking mat so they don’t stick to stuff.
  13. Put balls in the freezer to let them firm up a bit.
  14. While balls are freezing, grab your double broiler (or your glass bowl over a saucepan with water in it) and dump in the chips and shortening.  Mix on medium heat until everything is good and melty.  Do not boil!! Once it’s melted, it’s good enough. If it starts to get firm, heat it back up until it’s thin.  Trust me.  Turn off the heat, but keep the pan on the hot burner if you can do so easily.  I did, and I think it helped keep the chocolate coating warm.
  15. Take balls out of the freezer. Make sure that you have a place to put them once they are coated.  Think parchment paper or baking mat.  Don’t think mouth – that will only work the first dozen times, then it gets more difficult.
  16. Drop the balls one at a time into the warm candy coating.  Here you really need to do what works for you personally… here is what I did: Drop ball in candy coating. Use spoon to cover the ball with candy coating, then pick up the ball out of the candy coating with the spoon and roll the ball onto the edge of a fork.  Shake the fork twice to get excess off. Wipe the bottom of the fork off with the spoon, then set the spoon upside down on the edge of the bowl so it can drip.  Carry the fork over to the parchment paper, setting the fork down on the parchment paper. Take a toothpick and slide it between the fork and the cakeball so it will gently roll the ball onto the parchment paper.  This was the only way I could get the cakeball not to have one side all goopy and gross looking.
  17. If desired, sprinkle a touch of green sprinkles on top of the cake ball.
  18. Eat at least 3 and enjoy.

What do you guys think? Does it sound good? It sure tasted good!

I haven’t done a “Miscellaneous Monday” in a while, and there’s all sorts of tasty goodness on my blogroll and out in the world today so I am going to share! 

The problem with “Homosexuality” - Justin Lee writes openly and honestly and I really enjoy his thoughts.  He raises some good questions here and I think they merit further consideration.

Counting the cost – Scott discusses the importance of thinking about the “real” cost of self-defense, and the link provided is, in my opinion, essential reading for anyone who thinks they have an opinion on what the media reports on the Martin-Zimmerman case.

Bicycle clutch – You don’t have to read this, you just have to admire the beauty. I am currently using a lunch tote tied up, but this would double as a purse once I’d arrived at my destination! Brilliant!

Old & New Project – A collaborative project for graphic artists to display artwork themed around bible stories.  Some of them are incredible, all of them are interesting.  So far my favorites are Judah&Tamar and Deborah’s Song of Jael. If you want more amazing visual scripture, be sure to check out Jim LePage’s solo project Word.  Don’t ask me to pick a favorite, I can’t, I mean, 2 Corinthians is amazing, Hebrews makes me smile and I can’t forget Titus, 1 Timothy, Habakkuk, Job, ok really, I have to stop, just go. Look. Learn.

Peace like a River – Breathtakingly beautiful honesty. I can relate to this post in a lot of ways and I think a lot us can.

So, did any of these pique your curiosity? Which ones? I’d love to see if anyone else enjoys these as much as I did!

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing you have made
and forgive the sins of all who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts,
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may obtain of you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
1979 Book of Common Prayer (source)

My prayers are tiny and my soul weary; I look forward to Lent for the renewal of my spirit.

I think this year I will observe Lent.  I found a great set of questions on Rachel Held Evan’s blog that helped me make the decision to do so.  I really like her (and her blog), even more now that I know she agrees with one of my basic tenets I hold close to my heart: that really, everyone is broken

I had already been thinking about Lent this year, thinking about changing a behavior, thinking about the timing, thinking a lot of things.  When I saw that RHE’s feed had a post on ideas for Lent I was all ears.  The first question I read on her list almost knocked the breath out of me:

When I wake up on Resurrection Sunday morning, how will I be different?

Well.  In all the times I have observed Lent, I don’t think I ever took the time to ask myself that question.

Growing up in a Pentecostal church gave me a pretty decent grasp of the bible, but did not help me learn anything about the history of the church.  I mean that seriously.  We never learned about the differences between catholic and protestant, or about how communion is different in different churches, or why some people baptise and some sprinkle.  For the most part that stuff wasn’t even on my radar at all.

Over the past, say, 10 years or so, I have met many people who have opened my eyes to a different way of looking at my faith: a way that is steeped in history and culture.  While I find it creates for a much messier faith, I think it is also much more beautiful.  Over those ten years I have attended pentecostal churches, non-denominational churches, emerging churches, catholic churches, episcopal churches, baptist churches, and methodist churches.  Each one had its purpose to increase my education and help shape me into the person I am now.  Each church helped shape my faith in a different way.

So now, even though I attend a baptist church, I still keep in mind the little bit of education on Church traditions and history I’ve gotten over the years.  For instance, even though my current church doesn’t follow it, I love the church calendar.  I fell in love with it when I attended one of the Episcopal churches in Houston.  I love how each church season creates a new focus in your walk with Christ.  How we focus on Jesus’ sacrifice building up to Easter and we celebrate his birth in Advent.  The first time I received ashes on Ash Wednesday I spent the rest of the evening feeling like I was walking on holy ground – or better yet, as if my body was marked as holy.  I never knew there could be so much holiness in an action, but I found that there was. 

While I try to observe the church calendar I don’t always have it all figured out.  Like others, I’m sure, I am learning as I go.  I always viewed Lent as a way to put myself in Jesus’ shoes when he fasted 40 days in the wilderness.  I knew it was supposed to make me a better person and draw me closer to God, but those goals have always been pretty undefined. 

The question: “How will I be different?” makes me look at Lent as more than just the very generic “self-improvement” or “exercise in holiness.”  Suddenly I don’t want to look at Lent either of those things, or even as a time for me to give up my bad habits (I should give those up anyways) but more as a time to remove something from my life in the hope that after 40 days without it I might possibly be more Christ-like.  Suddenly my priority has shifted from looking internally in a selfish way, but looking internally in a holy way.  I like this.

With all this in mind, I’ll spend the next few days praying and trying to decide what to “give up.”  I think I’m going to go to one of the local churches that has a Ash Wednesday service, too, since I don’t think mine will have one.  I don’t know that I necessarily “look forward” to the next few weeks, but I do hope they are helpful to me in the long run.  We shall see.

She is running
A hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction

I would like someone to write a song, please.  I don’t have the skill for songwriting.  I would like you to model it after “Does Anybody Hear Her?” by Casting Crowns.  I would like you to tell a different side of the story.

She is trying but the canyon’s ever widening
In the depths of her cold heart

The song is about a broken woman who wants love and acceptance and help from the people of the church but does not get the help she needs.  I would like you to write a song about the people who offer love and acceptance and help to a broken person… to no avail. 

So she sets out on another misadventure just to find
She’s another two years older
And she’s three more steps behind

I would like you to talk about how heartbreaking it is to sit beside them and watch them run in the wrong direction.

Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see?
Or does anybody even know she’s going down today?

I would like you to talk about having an opportunity to help them.  About how scary it is when they move in to your world and how happy and hopeful you are that this time, this time it will be different.

Under the shadow of our steeple
With all the lost and lonely people
Searching for the hope that’s tucked away in you and me
Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see?

Sometimes we do see.  Sometimes we see the hurting, and the broken, and the bruised.  Sometimes we say to ourselves: Hey, we should be like Jesus and try to help them.  Sometimes they ask for help and you see an opportunity.

 She is yearning for shelter and affection
That she never found at home

So we invite them into our world.  We take them to church.  We hug them and cry with them.  We feed them and clothe them and pray for them and with them.  Sometimes it works for a while. 

She is searching for a hero to ride in
To ride in and save the day

Sometimes you tell them their worth and they nod, and they smile, but they don’t believe it.  You tell them to have faith in their own worth.  You tell them that they are God’s precious and loved child, and their lips say “I know” while their heart can’t believe it yet.

You pray for them.  You kneel at your bed and you cry for their soul.  You pray that God will give you the words you need to reach them in the midst of their brokenness. 

And in walks her prince charming
And he knows just what to say
Momentary lapse of reason
And she gives herself away

And then… then they tell you that they’re leaving.  That they’ve found another path, another way out, one that doesn’t involve the hard work of facing the pain.  They’re leaving so they don’t have to deal with someone loving them, but telling them that they need to make better (and admittedly more difficult) choices.

If judgment looms under every steeple
If lofty glances from lofty people
Can’t see past her scarlet letter
And we’ve never even met her

You watch them go.  Despite the sacrifice of time and energy you watch them leave.  You know it’s fruitless.  You know they’re not ready to change.  You’ve seen for some time now that your argument was ineffective. 

One of the worst parts about this, in my opinion, is that when it’s all said and done there is a small part of you that is relieved it’s over.  Don’t get me wrong: the overwhelming emotion is grief and sadness.  But there is also relief tinged with guilt – relief that your time of sacrifice is over, and guilt at being relieved.  How can you be relieved they’re going back to their broken life?  But you’re human, and you’re glad that this means less stress and sacrifice to you and your family.

And there’s a bit of doubt.  Did I try hard enough? Did I show them enough love? Could I have changed the situation a bit and had more success?

The important thing to remember here, and the thing I have to remind myself, is that I can’t fix anyone.  I can’t make them better.  Only God can.   That is what I hold on to.  When I feel all these emotions so strongly, I remind myself that God is the great physician and we are his broken church.  Ultimately, He is the one who heals.  We just point people in His direction.    

So, dear reader, if you decide to write a song about one of the other sides of “Does Anybody Hear Her” then please make sure you talk about how in the end, God is the great transformer…not us.  I know I’m asking a lot, and I know you probably won’t write a song about such a sad and helpless place, but my request has been made. 

I’d like a song that reminds me that sometimes we fail, but at least we tried.

(all italicized words from “Does Anybody Hear Her” by Casting Crowns from their album Lifesong.)

I never really did a follow-up post on all our church-hunting, so I’ll try to make up for it now.

When my sister came to live with us, we were still church hunting. I invited her to give us her input on what kind of church we should look for, and she wanted us to find a Baptist church.  So I started keeping an eye open.  Around that same time, I got invited to a birthday party for a little boy – at a Baptist church.  I figured, hey, why not?

So we went. And we were overwhelmed.  Everyone was kind and genuine and it kind of felt like we had come home. 

Interestingly enough, Benjamin did not appear traumatized or exhausted from crying and seemed to have enjoyed himself in the Nursery (if you need to know why that’s awesome, please read my blogs on church hunting).

Afterwards we all agreed: best church yet.

So we kept going and the sermons kept being awesome and we kept enjoying it and being overwhelmed at how awesome everyone seemed to be.  After a few months, it appears we have found a church home. And everyone said: yipee!

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not going to lie: I still don’t know ANYONES name. I try so hard, but by the time two weeks go by I’ve forgotten them all.  Working every other week significantly cuts down on the time I spend in church on Sunday morning.  I get frustrated that I don’t know people that well yet, but then I remind myself how long it took me to really get to know people at Legacy (1+ year) and I give myself a break.  Being new to a church is hard.

Anyways, all that to say that almost every time we attend the services it’s awesome and relevant I feel like God is speaking to me.

The sermon this last Sunday was on servitude.  I got the feeling the message was primarily aimed at encouraging people to serve within the church, but in my own life it served as an excellent reminder that I am called to serve.

Not only am I called to serve, I’m called to serve with a good attitude.  In fact, if I serve with a bad attitude, there’s really no point in me serving. 

There’s a part of my life that I am actively serving in right now, and sometimes it is very hard to do with a good attitude.  Sometimes I am bitter about it.  Sometimes I tell myself that I deserve better.  Sometimes I feel that I shouldn’t have to serve in such a way that cramps my life and costs me so much. 

But the bottom line is that I am called to love like Jesus loved and serve in a way that glorifies him.  I prayed, long ago, that God would put people in my life that I could help.  I think God finally called me on that prayer.  If I serve begrudgingly and with a bad attitude, who is that helping?  What good is that doing anyone?

If I don’t use this opportunity to reach out and try to practice what I know I should be doing, then I’m putting myself through this misery to no one’s benefit.  I’m not getting blessed, I’m not being effective at helping people, and I’m not growing.  One would even argue that if I could serve with a little more grace, God might help this not be such an uncomfortable process.

So I’m going to try a little more, now that I have had that reminder pushed into my face.  I’m going to try to have grace in the midst of serving, even though sometimes – honestly – it stinks.

Yesterday, Justin and I went to a United First Methodist church! It was our second visit, the first being just before my surgery when I was in pretty bad constant pain, so it wasn’t a “fair” visit. Benjamin has actually been several times since that is the church that my in-laws attend.

The first visit we really enjoyed – it was a mix between a more traditional church with more of a modern message. Moderately traditional music. What I really liked about it was how service-centered it was. There was a lot of discussion on the help the youth had been doing, the new ways the members could serve, etc. I didn’t really like how I had to sign up in like 4 different spots. I had to sign in at the front desk as a new visitor, I had to get a name tag, I had to sign in on the new visitor form and then I had to sign in AGAIN on a sign in sheet that got passed around during the beginning of service. It was major overkill.

A few people noticed we were brand new and introduced themselves. I only saw a few people close to my age – they looked in their early 30s (which, crazy enough, is close to my age).

I really like that they have Sunday School. I like it a lot. I miss Sunday School. But, they really didn’t have a lot of opportunities for fellowship outside of Sunday that I would be able to attend, and Justin would never be able to attend the men’s group since it’s on Monday nights.

Ultimately, we kind of liked it but that was it – just “kind of.” There was nothing that screamed out to us, “attend church here!” And yesterday, the guest preacher said a bad word! I mean, the guy was older – about 80 – and it was amusing to hear language like that coming out of a man who obviously was not the type to say it… but I don’t know how I felt about hearing it in church.

It was the S word – straight from the pulpit in the middle of his sermon. I think I didn’t like it because he didn’t know the crowd he was preaching to – he certainly had never met me or my husband and had no idea what kind of standards we have (I don’t think saying the “S” word in and of itself is a sin, but that’s a different topic). And I think that it’s possible he would have created a major problem if someone like some of my other friends had been in the congregation, friends who DO have issue with some of those words. I kind of view cursing from the pulpit the same way I view cursing in front of people you don’t know: if you don’t know how everyone is going to feel about it, don’t bother.

Anyways. The cursing didn’t have anything to do with our decision to keep looking for a home church – it was just weird. The main reason was Benjamin’s lack of peer group. One time he’s been there were 2 children, but every other time he has been the only baby/toddler…and he doesn’t do very well away from all of the people he knows when there’s no one fun his size to distract him. And by “doesn’t do very well” I mean that he cries until he exhausts himself and then is grumpy/clingy the rest of the day. The one time he had 2 kids with him he did much better.

I’d like to find a church that has a good mix of people, some in similar in age to us, with kids near Benjamin’s age, so we can all grow together. I’d also like to find a church with more modern worship. I love traditional hymns, don’t get me wrong, but I worship better to more modern music because that’s what I’ve grown up on.

We’ll keep looking and hopefully find something soon.

Two Sundays ago Justin, Benjamin and I travelled to our first church outside of Legacy Fellowship. Let the church hunting begin! We went to the local Episcopal church to check it out.

A bit of background first. I grew up in a Pentecostal Assembly of God church. Loud, amazing, hard-core bible-thumping shout-it-from-the-rooftops faith. I loved growing up in the church I grew up in; those people were family to me. Over time I came to understand that for all the joy I experienced there, I also experienced a lot of judgement. Not me personally – but people I was friends with, people I knew… there was a lot of people just assuming that if you went up and had hands laid on you then you could be fixed by God. I don’t want to get too distracted by my experiences there: suffice it to say when I moved to Texas I found myself looking for a church a little more structured. Thanks to online friends I learned of the Episcopal faith and found a local church in Houston where I spent several very awesome years learning and growing. When it came time to move to Austin I had to think about if I wanted to remain as an Episcopalian or if I wanted to find something else. While I loved the Episcopal church I was a little put-off by it’s politics (especially then, back in ’06) and wanted to find something in between the structure of them and the fervor of the pentecostal church. A little while after moving to Austin, I found Legacy Fellowship. It wasn’t any specific denomination; it was always just a bunch of people trying to love God and each other. I fell in love with the people there. They were honest, they were loving, they weren’t perfect but they tried to be like Jesus. For me, Legacy was never about the sermons or the special events (both of which were always good and fun) but it was about the people. I liked that.

So now I find myself needing a new church and while the instant reaction would be to follow those people I don’t feel like that is what I need to be doing. I don’t know if that makes sense – it’s not like God is speaking to me or anything – it just doesn’t feel right when I think about it. So Justin and I decided to visit a bunch of different churches and see where we felt at home. Not immediately writing any church off, but letting us find a place that felt like coming home.

So two Sundays ago was our first venture out.

It was kind of a disaster.

We got there a few minutes early and the “welcome guy” gave us a tour. Beautiful, beautiful grounds. I loved that if nothing else. He brought us by the nursery, where we were greeted by two ladies who were already working with 2 children (who I later found out were their own 2 kids). We took Benjamin in, did the customary greeting, told them about the snacks and the water in his cup and left. When we left him he was happy and wandering off to play. The other kids were a bit older – maybe 2? But he looked content so I was happy to leave him to have fun.

When we got done in the nursery we turned around and realized the greeter who was giving us the tour had gone MIA. I guessed he had to go back to greeting and we meandered back to the main worship area.

When we got inside we were surprised at how many people were there. We took seats near the front of the church and were immediately struck by how many people had small children with them. The pamphlet for the service advised at the bottom that they had a “cry room” for parents with small children if needed during the service. Justin looks at me and comments that boy, there sure are a lot of kids in here, versus kids in the nursery. I ask him: “wonder if they know something we don’t?”

So anyways. The service advertises “contemporary” christian worship, and that is true, if it was 1985 (or maybe, if I’m a bit nicer, 1992). I’m sure it qualified as contemporary compared to their traditional service; but it was still nothing I had ever heard before and stuff that was difficult to follow. No worries, that happens, so I didn’t worry too much about that.

The children’s sermon was awesome. He spoke about Jesus, when he fed the multitude with some fish and loaves of bread. He did not have fish and loaves of bread, so he demonstrated with goldfish crackers (I loved it! Fish and bread all in one!) and talked about how God can use anyone, no matter how big or small. Very inspiring and he even worked a tiny message about communion into it, in a very easy kind of way that impressed me. It was cool to see him parallel big ideas with simple ideas for the kids – I would imagine later on in life, when they start to really grasp the last supper, that parallel will come back to help them understand.

The sermon was also very well done. I very much enjoyed listening to the scripture readings again and seeing the priest turn that into his own message was great. It reminded me of my years at the last Episcopal church I went to and that was fantastic.

My favorite part was communion. Being that I work every other Sunday, I missed a lot of Communions at my old church because we only did them once a month. I love communion. I love the meaning, the words, the… well, everything. That did not disappoint.

So sounds like everything went pretty good, right? We sat there afterwards and I was pretty happy with how the service had gone; I didn’t know if this was going to be our future church home, but it had been a really nice visit and I enjoyed the service a lot. Regardless of if we stayed or not, that was definitely something good.

Yeah. Except then we went to get Benjamin from the nursery.

They were in a different room than they had started in, so we almost walked right past them. They called over to us and as we walked in I saw Benjamin laying against one of the workers. His eyes were red. He looked exhausted. As soon as he saw us he held his arms out to us.

The workers, two females, said he had gotten a bit upset when he had realized we weren’t there. First thing they asked us was if he was teething. We said we didn’t know, maybe? He’s been teething off and on but hadn’t expressed any particular pains before the church service. They looked at each other and nodded.

Then they asked us if he was a stay-at-home-baby. Yes, I tell them, he stays at home with his Nanny when we’re at work. Again, they looked at each other. “See, I told you he was! I knew it!”

… I’m sorry? Was my child being a stay at home baby a big deal? Apparently so, because they then have this conversation:

“I hate to tell you this but he pretty much cried the whole time you were gone. Oh, and he chewed up one of our toys so badly we had to throw it away.”
“Yeah I saw it and showed it to [the other worker] and I was like, umm, OK looks like he chewed this up… it was pretty messed up so we went ahead and got rid of it, guess the kids won’t have that ear of corn to play with anymore…”

I was kind of floored. So was Justin. I comment to Benjamin, “Oh, baby, I’m sorry you didn’t have fun!” and apologized to the staff. I can’t remember exact words but it was something along the lines of, “I’m so sorry he was unhappy, I guess we’re suffering some of that separation anxiety, I’m so embarrassed he ate your plastic corn.” I then turned to Justin and said, “we’ll never be able to show our faces in this nursery again!”

I felt terrible.

But then I felt even more terrible; they seemed relieved at that idea. Of course they said “Oh, no, he’s a sweet boy” but it was probably the most insincere I’ve ever heard anyone talk about my son.

By the time I left I was in shock and Justin was thoroughly humiliated. If you know my husband you know his temperament; that pretty much ensured he would never step foot back on their property.

And then I got angry.

It took me a long time to write this out because I wasn’t sure if I should, I wasn’t sure if it mattered, I wasn’t sure our feelings were justified. But no matter how you look at it my feelings were hurt and I was embarrassed – and not because my son did something COMPLETELY NORMAL FOR A ONE YEAR OLD – but because the workers made me feel ashamed, as if I should have been a better parent or taught him better or had more small group time with him so he wouldn’t freak out. And Justin felt the same way – he said that he felt like they were judging our parenting skills based on the fact that our son chewed up their toy. They had children of their own; had they been so amazing that they couldn’t fathom a child chewing on something because it soothed them? Were they stay-at-home-moms who had time to be perfect, unlike us who are hardworking people trying to figure out this parenting thing?

Not even to mention where were they while he had time to chew a toy to the point of ruin?

I digress.

I liked the church a lot. Justin was a little unsure of it, but this was pretty traditional compared to what he was used to. The church might have made it to our “maybe” list if not for the ridiculous shame the nursery workers made us feel. I walked away feeling judged over a piece of plastic corn.

Plastic corn.

Really?

Justin and I are church hunting again. My church that I have loved and attended for several years has had to combine with a larger church in Round Rock for a lot of reasons, my pastor is moving to that church on staff there.

I’m not going to lie to you guys: I’m a little bit heartbroken. These people have loved me and talked to me and given me grace. They held me as I cried over the death of my parents. They gave my brother counseling. They prayed. They brought me food too many times to count: both when my parents died and when Benjamin was born. They fed my body and my soul. They welcomed my family with open arms. They blessed me beyond any ability of mine to repay them. They called to check on me. We broke bread together. We sang Karaoke at Christmas parties and watched children be baptised.

I’m going to miss church there; but I sincerely hope I do not give myself a chance to miss the people. Hopefully I will be able to maintain my relationships with them outside of the confines of Sunday services.

And since this has happened Justin and I have had a chance to talk long and deep about where to go to church now. We’ve talked about what kind of church to go to and what we want that to look like for Benjamin in 10 years. And don’t get me wrong – we will certainly check out the church that our old church merged with – we just want to take this opportunity to look at other churches in the area as well. We don’t really know what the church we are going to go to will look like, but we do know one thing: we want to find a place full of love and unconditional acceptance. Our future church has a great act to follow.

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