Tuesday, January 17, 2017
I grew up with a lot of rules, my church was very legalistic and there were rules around everything. There were even more rules if you were a woman. I've said before that I'm glad I grew up the way I did because it helped me learn healthy boundaries and it helped me develop the relationship I have with Christ today. I am also glad that I've studied and learned who I am in Christ.
One night, Keith and I were downstairs watching a movie when Lydia came in and said, "I think I want to be baptized." Regretfully, I was tired, and I told her that we'd talk about it the next morning. I wish I'd pursued it better, but sometimes we win at parenting and sometimes Jesus takes the wheel. She went upstairs and I asked Keith what he thought about it, was she ready, was she too young, did she understand enough? That's when Lydia came happily bouncing down the stairs and proclaimed, "I accepted Jesus into my heart! I told him that I love him and I want him to be with me forever."
Well...that happened! Some days we teach our children, but every day we learn from them! This was no exception! She didn't need my approval, she has a direct line to God Himself!
We talked it over it, she was happy, we were proud, we prayed about it, we soaked the moments in! It was a gleeful night for all of us. We started talking about when and where and who she wanted to do it. No real decisions were made and no one was in a rush, we were just enjoying the moment.
A few days later, Keith was traveling and Lydia brought up her baptism again, with just me. She said "Mom, I want you to do it!"
My brain began screaming, "STOP! YOU CAN NOT DO THIS!" and my anxiety was through the roof! I quickly replied, "Or, dad could do it."
I will never forget those sensitive blue eyes looking right into my soul and asking, "do you not want to baptize me mom?"
Oh, my heart! "Of course I want to baptize you sweetie," I said quickly.
There was more conversation as the panic ran through my mind but the calm and confidence remained on my face. Eventually we wrapped up and all of the kids went to bed, because all good conversations happen at bedtime in our house.
I took my panic and grabbed my phone and began texting my friend Mark. Mark is a great christian man who loves the Lord and he loves his people. Mark and I also share the same upbringing. He knows his Bible and he knows where I come from and why I have so many weird hangups in my journey. I sent Mark questions as rapid fire as I could text them...
~is it sinful for me to baptize her?
~can I do this?
~will me doing it somehow tarnish the validity?
~what if the church won't allow it?
~will I somehow be responsible for taking us both to hell if I do this?
Mark walked me through both my rational and irrational questions. He said, "even in our sect of Christians, I think its acceptable for a mom to baptize her daughter."
Lydia settled on a date, we set it up at church and she began inviting everyone she's ever met and I had plenty of time to crawl around in my own head. I had time to play out every scenario, from someone telling my daughter that her baptism didn't count because I did it, to me falling in the baptistery and drowning us all! There is a lot of crazy in here and I had two months to sort through it!
Over the next few months I threw some insanity Mark's way and he talked me down every time. I kept Mark & Keith on their toes with my emotional outbursts and worst case scenarios. I even pulled my preacher into my crazy when I told him I was scared I'd drop Lydia in the water. He and one of our friends showed me how to baptize someone and practiced it with me. Coming from my background, having the minister not only allow me to baptize my daughter but supporting and encouraging it was spectacular. There aren't words for how much that moment meant to me, and to everyone from my background who felt it with me. I've shared that with so many people because it seemed like a small thing to him, but it was huge to anyone coming from where I come from.
June 5th rolled around and I was so excited and nervous. I'm not sure which emotion was stronger. Our church family was so supportive. Our ministry team all encouraged us, prayed for us and with us, and everyone shared in our joy with us. It was an exciting and emotional day. Lydia had friends from school, friends from our former church home in Indiana, friends from Kentucky, and anyone else she could invite.
At 9:15am, Sunday morning, Lydia, Hadley, and I walked into the baptistery together. The emotions were overwhelming, the support was phenomenal, and the love was everywhere. I have no doubt that these are the moments God wants to see from us and He was in the midst of it all.
That moment of freedom that Lydia felt after baptism and the moment I felt lifting her up couldn't have been that different. I washed away 36 years of religious chains in the water that day. As I lifted my youngest daughter up from the water, a new christian, I stood there free from a weight on my soul that I've carried my entire life. I felt the presence of every strong Christian woman that I've known that morning. All of the women before me who never had the chance to experience what I felt that day were in my heart. I wore Grandma Ruth's "everyday" watch that morning so she could be there, in that moment, with me. I don't really believe that our family members are in heaven looking down on us, but in that moment, I think she may have been.
I have so much more to say about this and I am incredibly thankful that Mark has harassed me to write about that day and now that I've started, there may be an entire series of religious and spiritual transformation that began for me the night Lydia said, "do you not want to baptize me mom?'
Sunday, January 15, 2017
I spent a lot of years hiding who I really was and changing myself for the group of people I was with. I worried that the real me wasn't a good enough daughter, christian, wife, mother, friend, etc. I was confused about who I was and there were only a handful of people who knew who got all sides of me, because they were the only ones I trusted. I thank God for those people who stuck with me and who were probably going through similar transformations.
Now, at 37, I am finally at peace with who I am. That doesn't mean I'm not working on improving, it just means that I'm okay. I have finally realized that I am good enough for God and that's good enough for me. That doesn't give me free reign to act ridiculous, I am a daughter of the King after all, I should behave as such. My self acceptance just means that while I'm working on me, God is too, and he's loving me while we piece together my beautiful mess.
I finally realize that there are no perfect people, no perfect christians, and we are all broken. That's okay, God loves the broken! Our job is to heal ourselves and heal those around us.
Our sermon today talked about the three stages of discipleship, 1. Being fed, 2. Growing, and 3. Feeding others.
Reasons for Writing 1 John 2:12-14
12 I am writing to you, dear children,
because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
13 I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
14 I write to you, dear children,
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God lives in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.
My job is simple! Be fed, grow, feed others! Nowhere does it say be perfect, it doesn't say I'm not good enough, it doesn't say I'll never be whole. Instead, I am not perfect, but He is. I know that I'm not good enough alone, but I am with God. I will be whole again one day and what a great day that will be!
I won't give up on friends who are fighting their demons and they won't give up on me. I'll pray, I'll cry, I'll call out to God on their behalf and I will hope that when I'm in my own darkness there is someone doing the same for me, but if not, God is. He always is. Joshua 1:9 tells us that He is with us wherever we go.
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Sunday, June 19, 2016
Sunday, May 15, 2016
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Psalms 143:1 Hear my prayer, O , give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
I look back on my upbringing with appreciation. I'm thankful for the discipline that I learned and I'm thankful that I had hedges to protect my relationship with God when I was young and vulnerable. I also look back in awe though. I was telling a Christian friend about the rules I was raised with and he said, "sounds like it's harder to get into church than it is to get into heaven" and he was exactly right. It was complicated and I always had a feeling of balancing on a tightrope. I knew that one minor slip up could condemn me for eternity, it made me work harder but it also filled me with fear and insecurity, in the Lord, that I still battle.
There are so many hot buttons in my old church and there are so many things you can talk about and things you can't, and I know the ins and outs of all of them. Whether I agree or not, I know how to work the system. I've spent my entire life in that branch of religion and I know the ropes. There are tons of different degrees of the religion but (whether they'll admit it or not), they are all very similar. I can flow in and out of any of those churches fluidly and fit in effortlessly in minutes.
We do a Bible study on Monday nights and most of the time, I just keep quiet and listen because I worry that my perspective will raise eyebrows. We meet with an incredible group of Christians who have made this church home, but I'm still not ready to let them all the way in. I'm reluctant to jump into many activities until I familiarize myself with the church a little more for fear of alienating myself for my beliefs or for my heritage. Maybe this says more about the church I grew up in than I'd like to believe, but it's ever present in my mind now.
I don't know when I've ever been involved in a congregation that loves each other and love the Lord the way this family of believers do and someday I'll be able to unpack my baggage a little more and jump in with both feet, but I'm not there yet. I love this church and I feel more at home with these believers than I have with believers from my former tribe, since moving to Nashville. I'm still getting my toes wet and watching from the banks.
I mourn for the loss of familiarity and my heritage. I miss that feeling of of comfort and security. I miss my former religious tribe but at this time in our lives, we are a part of a new tribe and I'm learning that that's okay. The traditions are all that's changed, the Bible truth stays the same. I'm serving the same God, I have the same Savior, and I'm learning from the same book, I'm just doing it a little different than I'm used to. All the stuff that matters is right, and I'm adjusting to all of the other stuff and enjoying the ride.
I'm also learning that I had put entirely too much faith in my religion and not enough faith in God. I felt such a strong allegiance to that religion and I loved being a part of it, but I need to feel that way about being a Christian, not a Christian at a specific religion. My relationship with the Lord is growing stronger because I'm learning that my faith is in Him, not in a church. I love my new church and I love my old church, but I love the Lord first and foremost.