Theology 3.5

During our mid-morning break from school to play on the campus playground, Maddie and a few other kids came back to the apartment to stash their collection of these weird, round green things that grow on a bunch of the trees around here (I have no idea what they are). I knew she was doing it and I stayed with the other three on the playground while she was busy with that project.

A few minutes later, I discovered I didn’t know where Katie was. I guessed she had followed Maddie, but wanted to be sure, so I gathered up Chloe and Millie and we started walking towards home. As we neared the apartment, Katie walked out and announced she was going back to the playground. I told her we were all coming back in now and she said, “That’s okay, Mommy. You can go back in. I’ll just go by myself.” I said to her, “No, sweetie. I need to stay with you when you are there to take care of you.” She looked at me with these really incredulous eyes and said, “Mooo-oom, God is a big God and He is going to take care of me so you don’t have to come with me!” And off she ran toward the playground.

Hmmm. Faith or naivety? Maybe a bit of both. Regardless, we went back and spent another 20 minutes on the swings…

Back to School

Time for true confessions: there are aspects about the “normal” school life that I sometimes feel twinges of guilt about my girls’ missing out on. Among these, (silly, I know) shopping for school supplies.

Don’t misunderstand – I do buy new supplies for us to use at home and this is a great time of the year to buy them because a lot of the items are cheaper than usual (actually, the beginning of September is even better as that’s when the overstocks usually go even lower in price).

But there is just something about a supply list. I know, I’m weird. I’ve always liked mandatory lists of things to purchase. I liked this when I was a school kid, I loved it in college, I’m enjoying it now for seminary. And when I walk into Wal-mart and see those spinning racks with the different schools listed along with the various lists of supplies, I feel sad for my kids because they are missing out on that “rite of passage” so to speak.

Among other things I sort of miss on their behalf: lunch boxes, $0.25 cartons of chocolate milk, school pictures, school parties, report cards/progress check sheets, music class, playing indoor games during recess on a rainy day, school plays.

I know, many of these things are easy to recreate but those are the things I think my kids actually do miss out on by being educated at home.

So let’s see, what are some of the things about school that I always wanted to do, but never could? Go to school in my pajamas! Read my books on a couch, munch on a snack while doing math, get up and play when my assignments were completed – oh, this was a big one. I always finished early, but everyone had to stay put until the next thing on the schedule. Hmm, good reminder for me now – if they finish their work, they *should* be able to do something else for a bit, or else we can simply move on to the next thing. Glad they don’t have to sit at the kitchen table and stare out the window for 15 minutes waiting for everyone else to finish. What else? The wretched school bus. I absolutely hated riding the school bus. HATED IT!! I still get fluttery feelings in my tummy when I see a school bus or get behind one on the highway with goofy kids making weird faces at me.

Okay, so I know those are all bizarre things to like/dislike, but there you have it. I do not regret our decision to homeschool. But sometimes I wonder if we’re doing the right thing… Next time I see a school bus, maybe I’ll know.

Testing Myself

Before embarking upon the seminary stage of life, I had a talk with myself about grades. The gist of the conversation was that the “A” is not what I’m necessarily after; the education is. This is in complete contrast to my high school and college endeavors, in which I ended up with something like 4.2 and 3.8 GPAs respectively, but very little life-long knowledge.

The time has come to test my new philosophy. I just got back from my first exam in nine years. I knew a lot of what was on the exam, but I didn’t know everything. And, I know a whole heck of a lot that wasn’t on the exam, too.

So, the question is, if I end up with only a C in the class (which I’m pretty confident I have at least that right now) but a newly-expanded knowledge base of ancient and medieval church history, will I be okay with that?

Perfectionism is a hard habit to break…

Subtle Hints

Three days ago I took the girls to the playground to play while I checked my email (the signal we mooch off of was down that day and I couldn’t check it from the apartment). Millie came up to me with a ball and asked me to play with her in a way only a 22-month-old can (point and go, “eeeaaaahhh”). I asked her to wait. This happened two more times until finally she came up to me and threw the ball right on the keyboard. Hint, hint. I closed the iBook and played ball with her.

Two nights ago, I stayed up too late (again) studying for my exam which is this Monday. Staying up too late always means sleeping in too late the next day. Millie came in the next morning saying, “Mama! Mama!” I cracked my eyes open, smiled at her, said good morning, then closed my eyes again. She took my glasses off my nightstand and placed them on my face. Hint, hint.

Looks like maybe I’m out of focus again. As much as I’ve enjoyed taking this class, I’m ready for all things class related to subside for a bit. I’m ready to take a break with the girls this week.
Really, it’s our last (only?) week “off” before the fall carries us swiftly down-stream. I’m not sure our boat is ready…

The Power of One

Okay, so it was more like 15,624. Electrical outages, that is. There was an amazing storm on Saturday afternoon that knocked out the power here on campus (not to mention dropped a number of trees, some on cars, one through the window of a campus building). We weathered it for about 23 hours before taking off for the farm in search of lights, air, and the ability to eat more than peanut butter on crackers.

The power has been knocked out of more than our apartment lately, however. My blog seems to have suffered an outage of sorts. I could give the laundry list of “why I’ve been too busy to write” lately, but the bottom line is that I’ve just really had nothing to say, so I’ve said it (or not said it).
I still go through occasional bi-polarish phases of thinking this is the absolute best decision we’ve ever made (moving to Missouri) to wondering what in the heck we’ve done. I think the last time I seriously wondered that was last night when I hauled three trash bags (read: three trips from the apartment to the dumpster) full of food-gone-bad from our freezer from this weekend and performed circus tricks in my attempts to get the dumpster lid open with one hand while hoisting the bags up and over with my other (did I mention these were heavy bags? – the food that went bad of course, then refroze when the power came back on while we were in IL. Don’t ask why I didn’t think to take the food with us to IL. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that. The next time this happens I’ll know better…).

But then I wondered it again today when I suggested to Craig that he maybe should go to Colorado next week to help deal with/resolve some issues and knock out a boatload of work that got way-laid these past few weeks. After the decision was made for him to actually go, I got this big lump in my chest because, well, I want to go too.

The feeling that we’re still on a weird, long trip has not subsided, although I’m more comfortable with being on the weird, long trip.

So that’s where things stand as of now. Hope you all are well tonight and that your lights are on and your food is frozen.

Judge This

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
Colossians 3:13-23

The above was the text from Sunday’s sermon by Greg Johnson and I’ve been thinking about it a lot since yesterday. In fact, although I didn’t realize it, I’ve been thinking about it a lot these past few months. There are so many opportunities for us to beat each other up in the name of principle, in person, and perhaps even more so in the blogosphere. There are *many* I’ve noticed that I usually just remain silent on, not wanting to cause, contain, or continue the controversy.

Here’s a sampling of things we can (and many do) beat each other up about:
Homeschool/Public School/Christian School
Intellectuelle or Titus 2 Blogging
Attachment Parenting or Non AP Parenting (not sure what the official title of that is)
Routine Feeding or Demand Feeding
Breastfeeding or Bottle Feeding
To Immunize or Not to Immunize
Quiverfull or Birth Control
Bacardi or Coke-only
Midwives or Epidurals
Cigar Smoking or Under No Circumstances
And so on and so forth.

Look again at the passage: Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, [or how you school or parent or about what time you get up in the morning] or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

Grace, ahhhh, the sweetness of truly not having to care what other folks think would make us better Christians. Because we don’t have to answer to each other about our decisions. We have to answer to God. Yes, His standard is high. But He certainly gives a lot more freedom than a lot of people I’ve encountered…

P.S. This isn’t to say that I *don’t* have opinions about all of the above topics and more. I do. But as they are that, my opinions, I don’t feel the need to go around with a sandwich sign advertising them on every blog I visit.

P.P.S. Now go do the right thing…

Benefits of Reading

Maddie just came in here with two Bibles: one that I used in college, a small pink NIV with my name on the cover; the other an even smaller green Gideon’s New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs. She asked me which one she should take to church tomorrow (her Sunday School teacher told all the kids they should bring Bibles with them and she’s getting a 22-hour head start on preparing her bag).

I explained that she could take either, but that I think she should go with the pink one because it’s a complete Bible. She looked at them and then said, “Well, I’ll take them both, but keep the green one in my bag.”

Then she climbed up on the bed beside me, opened it to Genesis 1, and started reading it! The Bible! My 6-year-old! A book without “level 1″ in the upper right corner or “Dr. Seuss” in the lower left.

This is amazing! Not only the reading, but the fact that I was convicted to pick up my own Bible and read it by my 6-year-old…

The Importance of Knowing

I’m one-third of the way through the lecture portion of Ancient and Medieval Church History. It’s been amazing, both in terms of the amount of information in a small span of time, as well as in how much I’ve been dwelling on said history all this week.

I’ve been thinking of early church Christians all week long and the significant amount of actual suffering and death they went through to bear the mark of loving Jesus. A few days ago, I said to Craig that I fear I would have never made it as an early church Christian because I’m such a weenie.

In church this morning, as the pastor was reading through Matthew 5, my eyes were suddenly opened to greater meaning of the passage in light of what I’d been studying this week with the persecutions of the early church. Knowing the history of the people to whom it was originally written gave me a better understanding of the scriptures themselves.

And then the transfer-of-thought: So much of what I think I’m mourning in my present situation is the lack of history in my current relationships. Knowing the history of an event, or of a person, gives you so much more insight into that/them.

When I meet folks here, it’s a fresh start, yes, but is it a real start? I don’t wear a shirt that says, “I’m a Presbyterian rookie. I’m not sure what I believe about infant baptism, or communion. I homeschool my kids, but I’ve struggled with it because of A, B, and C. We have a daughter who spent 10 days in the PICU when she just turned 4 and the consideration that I might have to surrender her seriously rocked my faith in God. For a long time. Craig and I haven’t had a perfect marriage because of M, N, and O. I still don’t know what I think about the Harry Potter phenomenon or cigar-smoking Presbyterians…”

You get the picture. And I don’t know these things about anyone here yet either. My tendency is typically to elevate others in my mind into these weirdly-perfect people. I look around at other campus families and think, “They are model Presbyterians. They don’t question the company manual. And they’ve never been wounded physically or emotionally.” And my thinking that about them also makes me place them in another category: hard to be around because they aren’t real and haven’t experienced what I’ve experienced.

I know that isn’t true, but it’s what my warped brain does. All because I have this void-of-history with them.

Learning history about people is hard work and takes intentionality. Having my history learned takes trusting the one doing the studying. I have a long way to go in both avenues and I have to decide if I’m willing to do the hard work that such studying takes.