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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.

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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.

Every time I doubt I need to go back and read Michael Spencer’s words on doubt, urgency and brokenness. These are probably three of my favorite articles by him and they pretty much wreck every ideal I was ever taught as a child in the best kind of way. They give me hope. Hope that this path I am on is not one of insanity, that it’s OK to feel like I feel sometimes, that it’s OK to struggle and doubt and fight and cry and feel lost and broken and alone.

And sometimes knowing that it’s OK to feel that way (and that smarter, wiser people feel this way sometimes too) is the best hope I can feel.

Because I am broken. And I do doubt. Sometimes I get so mad that I don’t understand how it all works. I get mad that I’m snappy at my husband sometimes, I get mad that I can’t control my sins, I get mad that my husband is bipolar. I get frustrated that my son screams when he doesn’t get fed fast enough. I get impatient that I hardly get any time alone with my husband, especially when I see it affect how we treat each other. Hey, I’m just being honest.

I’ve really been struggling with this lately, and it’s funny because I feel like God is teaching me more now than he has in a long time. I’ve went a long time between really getting yelled at by God. But for a long time I had this idea that I wasn’t really that bad of a person. I mean, I knew I was sinful and had my issues, but I don’t know that I really gave my depravity the attention it needed. And I knew that it was bad to feel that way because I knew the worst type of people are the ones who don’t think they’re that bad. So what do you do? So I started asking God to point out my problems to me since I couldn’t see them. I asked him to help me be a *real* better person instead of just thinking I was good.

So God started showing me how terrible I am. I’m not fully realized, I don’t know that I could handle a full reveal. He just gave me a little glimpse and I’m pretty devastated by what I see. Not only my judgement and manipulation, but more than that, how I am missing the forest for the trees. How I get so worried about organization and what people think and getting things checked off my to-do list that I miss out on simple pleasures like watching a sunset, watering my grass, playing with my son. And those are the things I want to pay attention to!

I want to fix myself. I can’t. Instead, I have to keep reminding myself that my goal is not to modify my behavior to suit the life I want to lead, but rather to be changed internally so that the outside behavior naturally falls into balance. I haven’t mastered how to do that yet. I think that’s part of a lifelong journey.

However, I find that while behavior modification isn’t the answer it does help in the interim. I am consciously reminding myself to stop with the lists and the chores and start with the relaxing and spending time doing nothing. If I’m able to remind myself of that once or twice a day, and actually apply the principle to my day, it helps me stay more sane.

Imagine that.

I’ve been busy busy busy but didn’t forget about Miscellaneous Monday. So, you get the Thursday Edition!

Up for your enjoyment today: Ken Jenning’s AMA (Ask me Anything) on Reddit. If you don’t know who Ken Jennings is, then, well, you’re a bit odd. And where were you in 2004? And Wikipedia is your friend. I pretty much cried with laughter when I read his limerick for Reddit, and while he’s insanely intelligent and fact-oriented he also seems to be a pretty hilarious, normal, down-to-earth kind of guy. Very much enjoyed reading it.

And for those of you interested in something a little more religious in nature, I share with you a link to an amazing quote on contentment that stirred my soul.

I’m going to try to start a new tradition: Miscellaneous Monday. On any given Miscellaneous Monday I will share something (or two) I’ve found on the Internet that might pique your interest. Today we’ve got two things!

The first: The Simple Wife ( http://www.thesimplewife.typepad.com )

Let me tell you, don’t click this link without grabbing some tissues first. The Simple Wife is the blog of Joanne Heim, a woman living in Denver who recently suffered from a massive stroke. I don’t really have appropriate words to convey what has happened in this blog since her stroke on January 11th… you’ll have to read it for yourself. Suffice it to say that the love that is expressed on the pages of her blog have literally made me weep. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big crybaby anyways, and anyone who knows me very well knows that nothing makes me cry more than the triumph of the human spirit. Seeing people be strong in the face of adversity – in real life, not in the imaginary world of books and movies – has warmed my heart. Go, follow her husband as he provides updates and speaks lovingly about his 19 year companion. Cry. Pray for her and their family. Take a minute to thank God for your own family.

Also, they have a separate blog that isn’t updated as often that deals with their marriage, specifically dealing with a marriage in which the husband is bipolar (it’s linked on the main page). Can I just tell you how much I am loving reading these archives? Man. What an amazing couple.

Ok, that one’s done, now for the fun one.

Rosewell, Texas ( http://www.bigheadpress.com/roswell?page=1 )

A graphic story by L. Neil Smith and Rex F. May detailing a alternate universe where Davy Crockett survives the Alamo and Santa Anna dies, resulting in Texas being its own country. The story surrounds the UFO landings in Roswell and while it took a bit for me to get into it, I absolutely fell in love with it about a third of the way through it. It paints a picture of Texas that any libertarian would love to see, as unrealistic as it might be. And if you’re a fan of history you’ll love the characters the pop up randomly throughout the story – my favorite was Gene Roddenberry, but then, I don’t want to spoil it for you. Go, read, enjoy.

The new year is starting off pretty good. Justin’s grandparents came in to town for the new year, and we had a GREAT visit. They adore Benjamin and we adore them, so it was a really fun, relaxing weekend with them. They went to church with us on Sunday, and it was the first time in I don’t know how long that all my guys were there (including DH and both Bro-in-law!). It’s hard to put into words how much it means to me to see them in church.

Justin and I only made one resolution this year – and it’s not so much a resolution as a dedicated focus. We’re dedicated and focused on improving our relationship with God. Figuring out who he is, who we are as a result of that, and how that affects our day to day life. If we’re not confident in who we are in Jesus, we realize the problem with trying to show that to Benjamin. One thing my parents taught me is that while false piety works for a while, if you don’t deal with your issues it eventually bubbles over. So, imagine my surprise when I mentioned some classes my church is starting and Justin encouraged us both to attend them. Because of our schedules he can’t always go to the morning one, and I can’t always go to the evening one, so we are going to try to each go to one and just share the information. It means putting aside time out of our already insanely ridiculous busy weekends to attend classes, and it means less sleep for me on my long weekends (and being at church an hour earlier on my weekends off!) but it also sounds like the classes might be really great, and a good opportunity for us to grow.

This is so far out of Justin’s comfort zone I don’t even know where to begin. But, like he said, this is what we want to do and this requires sacrifice. Honestly, I’m kind of shocked that he was willing to do something like this, especially since he is going to the class at a house. He pretty much always feels awkward in acquaintance’s homes. It doesn’t matter how long we’ve known them… unless they’re family he’s going to have a bit of anxiety about it. So this is a HUGE step for Justin. I hope it helps, I hope we gain some wisdom and knowledge and faith along the way. If not we’ll keep trying till we figure something out.

I feel like I am putting extra (good) pressure on myself to really be dedicated to this – if he’s willing to step THAT far out of his comfort zone, then what am I willing to do?