Thursday, May 5, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Wednesday Night Church (originally posted March 12, 2009)

5/5/2016: Our whole family made it to church last night.  Even if Eric had needed to stay home, I am happy to say my children now can sit through a service without dropping or ripping books or strangling one another.  Success!

Last night was my turn to go to church. Eric is now sick but everyone else is well. Therefore, I went to church with six of our children (Zane stayed home as he's so little).

It had already been quite a day yesterday and it just got better and better at church. (Sense the sarcasm). I felt so bad for the poor soul sitting behind us. It is comforting to know that she is also the mom of young children. And a friend. A very understanding friend.

Right before church began, Gloria had to use the bathroom. Of course, this means getting into the sanctuary after everyone is already seated and announcements are being made. If you go to a Baptist church, you know that announcements can last almost as long as a sermon. I would normally wait until everyone else stands for singing before going to my row, but I wasn't taking a chance leaving five children unattended.

I did that once. My then-4 year old literally tried to strangle his then 2-year old sister. Lesson learned.  So, last night I had to crawl over 3 children to get to my seat. Of course, another child was in my seat which resulted in 3 more children moving down. That was inconspicuous.

Of course, as soon as we all got arranged, two children just NEEDED to tell me something right then.  "Shh," I say as I look intently at the pastor, pretending everything is normal.

Song service. Ok, now we can stand. And turn around. And pass books back and forth. And drop them in the process. What were we singing?

Sit back down for the missionary. His wife sang a couple of songs. Very nice. I almost fell asleep during the second one - relaxing for sure. No, that is not a negative comment on her singing - it really was wonderful. It's just something about sitting down in church after a long day.

The missionary had a good sermon with a good message. I caught bits and pieces of it between children poking at each other, instructing children down the row to stop drawing pictures and pay attention, and shushing Seth who was loudly whispering "STOP" to his annoying sister. (By the way, this was the same pair previously mentioned in the strangulation episode.)

In the midst of all that, another daughter was quietly copying the words of a hymn from the hymn book when a sickening "rrriiiippppp" sound occurred.

If you attend our church and pick up the hymnal with page 353 torn almost completely out, I'm very sorry.

Did I mention that the father of my friend behind me was sitting on the far end of our row? Why does that matter? Oh, well, no reason. He's just our PASTOR! A very loving and forgiving pastor. Just like his daughter.

We stand for the invitation. Seth wants to pray at the altar. Feeling the need to repent, no doubt. However, I was in no mood to find out what sort of chaos he could create up there. This resulted in some pouting, but he was quiet. Until right before the final prayer when he again LOUDLY whispered "STOP" to his sister.

If you had looked up during the final prayer you would have seen me dragging 2 very sad children out of the church. Then again, maybe you wouldn't have had to open your eyes. You may have just heard us.

I know that all parents think that the whole world is watching them and being completely distracted when their children are misbehaving in church or any other public place. However, whenever I hear of a parent mention how naughty their child was, I must admit I never noticed. Here's hoping no one noticed our family last night.

Oh, and for your information, the release date on my child training book has been delayed indefinitely.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Knocked Down

I'm not into boxing and I have a feeling most of my readers are not, either.  However, we've all seen clips of fights or matches in which the fighter is knocked down, gets back up, fights back a bit, then gets knocked down again.  Each time the fighter is knocked down, it takes him just a little longer to get back up and recover.  

That's how I feel today.

Last week, I mentioned how I came to appreciate fully the love and grace God.  His forgiveness is the sweetest thing in this world.  Yet, there are people in this life who do not forgive.  We all have been there - we all have had a hard time forgiving other people.  It's natural.  We need to ask God's grace in helping us forgive as He does.

Let's just say that in the last few years, just when I get back on my feet, start fighting again and even having victory in sight, an opponent comes and knocks me back down.  Each time, the wind is knocked out of me.  Each time, it takes a little longer to get back up.  But, I know I must get back up...or I am the loser.

I am not talking about sin here.  I am talking about not being forgiven.  About another person directly or indirectly bringing up my failures of the past.  I am aware of my failures.  I have repented and tasted God's grace and forgiveness.  If I know He has forgiven me, why is it so difficult when a human does not?  

Because, it reminds me of my sin...and, maybe that's not a bad thing.  It's not bad to be reminded of where I came from, where God met me and where He's brought me from.  It's not a bad thing to be treated harshly, because I can learn not to be harsh with others.  I have tasted forgiveness and it is sweet.  Unforgiveness is bitter, yet the bitter makes me appreciate the sweet even more. I have learned that I want to leave a sweet taste with those I come in contact with.  

Yesterday, I was again knocked down.  I was caught off guard, hit between the eyes and the tears flowed.   I am trying to get back up...I want to get back up...I will get back up; yet, it's taking some time.  I am still trying to catch my breath.  

I am catching my breath in prayer.  I am focusing my eyes on God's Word.  I am holding up my hand for Him to help me to get back on my feet.  He is faithful.  He'll get me back in the fight.  I am benefitted by knowing that the victory is mine.  Oh, I am not fighting against a person.  While a person may be delivering the blows, I am truly fighting against guilt.  I am really fighting against my own pride.  I am fighting against bitterness, anger and doubt.  

But, I am still in the fight.  I am not laying down and giving up.  The referee may get to the count of 6 or 7, but he won't get to 10.  I will get back up. 

While I am down, I will consider,  do I help others when they are down, or do I just watch them suffer?  Do I knock a person down with unforgiveness and guilt-trips?  Will I do that to the one who delivers the punch or will I keep my eyes on the true enemy - Satan?

Lord, I am down here on my knees asking you for strength to get back up.  I ask You to help me to forgive and to strengthen those around me fighting for breath, fighting to get up, fighting to stay in the ring, fighting to win the victory that is theirs through You.  

If you are down today, take a few deep breaths and get back up with me.