Little's Life

Little's Life

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Growth

I am a member of the church of Christ.  I grew up attending church services every Wednesday night and twice on Sundays.   We went to Bible Bowl, Impact, Uplift, Castle Bluff, youth retreats, mission trips, and Singing School.

We ate together, camped out, slept on opposite sides of the gym during lock ins, and swam in gender specific shifts covered neck to knees.  Our shorts that we never worn on Sundays were finger tips length at a minimum, girls tank tops were at least 3 fingers wide on the shoulders, and the boys were expected to cut their hair short (the 90s, though...).

 We played Broom Ball, Blind Volleyball, and Hearts.  We learned about the dangers of dancing and alcohol.  We sang Jars of Clay and Steven Curtis Chapman (a capella, of course) on the van rides to Six Flags.  We were taught that even one drink of beer was a sin and divorce was a 1 way ticket straight to hell.  We knew our disciples, apostles, fruits of the spirit, books of the Bible, and John 3:16.  We knew we were heathens for not being able to afford to go to the one christian school around here.  We made some of our closest, longest lasting friendships in youth group (Hey DannaDannaDannaDannaDanna.  Hey Stasia.  Hey Dustin.).

We learned that "we don't run in the house of the Lord"!  We learned to love our neighbors.  We knew that Jesus was the son of God and that he died on the cross for our salvation.  We learned to repent and be baptized.  We were typical teenagers on Saturday nights and obedient followers on Sunday mornings.  We developed a genuine love for each other and for Christ.  We dreaded and avoided at all costs "Budget Sunday".  We had annual homemade ice cream competitions.  We learned that Satan was a big bad wolf and one should "Build Your Life on the Rock".

We laughed.  A lot.  As teens, we sat up front and in the center.  We were taught that only men were allowed to lead during worship and that only baptized church members were allowed to partake of communion.  We knew giggling during the sermon was shameful.  We studied directly out of the Bible and no other text.  We learned to be kind and compassionate and above all, to show the love of Jesus to everyone around us.   We sang our hearts out while holding those heavy hymnals.  We learned every word of "The Princess Bride".

We learned not to question the Elders, Deacons, Preacher, or tradition.  We learned right and wrong and that there is no grey area. We learned that we were saved after baptism and yet taught to feel shame and guilt over every sin after it.  We were warned not to take the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner, never researching what exactly Paul meant when he said that in Corinthians.  We were taught that a good christian accepts, gives, worships, and serves others without complaint or inquiry.

And then we grew up.

We had children.  We started to think for ourselves.  We began to entertain those questions about why we worship how we do.  We started studying the Bible instead of memorizing lists and verses for Sunday School goals.  We experienced life and the joys and traumas it brings and went to our Bibles and deacons and elders for answers and comfort.  Some of us became the new crop of deacons and elders and preachers.  Some of us dipped into the sins we were taught as children would prevent us from Heaven.  Some of us came back.  Some of us are still searching.  Some of us are changing our churches and our worship.  Some of us are stuck in the past and traditions.  Some of us are caught somewhere in the middle.  Like me.

I have been a member of four congregations in my life.  The first two as a child and young married adult, the second two as a mom going through divorce with a terminally ill son.  The first two taught me to live in shame and guilt and a constant state of repentance over the fact that my marriage was ending.  The third congregation taught me that nothing I did caused Andrew to be sick and that God loves me more than my failed marriage.  The fourth congregation has opened my mind to a whole new side of God and worship that I would have been to afraid to give a second look 2 years ago.  I'm learning the difference between tradition and scripture.  My teacher this morning described it as freedom and he's spot on.  There's a freedom in my spiritual life I've never had before.

I have so much love for my years at the first church.  My foundation in Christ was set there.  My youth minister performed my wedding ceremony when I was 25.  I learned so much about how to treat people with love and compassion.  I keep in touch with almost my entire youth group.  We've been to each other's weddings, baby showers, and life events.
Our children play together.

My second church was by far the most black and wide, tradition lead congregation of them all.  We even had a sermon one Sunday morning on the proper attire for worship.  It wasn't 'come as you are' it was 'go to the store and buy something fancy because anything less is disrespectful to the Lord'.  It was the only place to go on the glacier, so I felt I had no choice. What was I supposed to do?  Not go at all?  For shaaaaaaame!!!

Those 30 years spent in the uber conservative/traditional congregations left me very conflicted.  I knew that my divorce was not of my will, but I had it drilled into me that being divorced meant an eternity in the pits of Hell.  Period.  I knew there was punishment for sin while on this Earth, too.  So I had a small nagging question of  whether or not I deserved to have a child with this awful disease because of the mistakes I'd made during my own life. I spent two years in counseling over both of these issues.

My third was my beloved Barker's Mill in Clarksville, TN.  That was a church family like nothing I'd ever experienced before.

In the military, bonds are created quickly and deeply, and so it was there.  I've never felt so close and so loved and so accepted by an entire congregation like that.  There were no cliques, no tiers.  Just christian love.

I was so encouraged to grow in my prayer life and in my involvement there.  How I miss hearing Andrew's name being brought before the Father every week.  Like my first church, I made friendships there that I will have forever (Hey Desi.  Hey Whitney.  Hey Candice.)  I even got to bring one of my favorite Alaskan based friends into the fold (Hey Valerie.).
That was Andrew cheering one of Valerie's children on during her baptism.  They showered Andrew with birthday cards 9 months after we'd left them.


That being said, Barker's Mill does still tend to operate on the more traditional end of the spectrum.  And that's ok.  I didn't get a sense of close mindedness from them, more of an operational conservative way about the church service. (hymnals only, women not in leadership roles, closed communion).  The people of Barker's Mill taught me that I am still worthy and forgiven even in divorce.  I learned about the passage in John 9 that frees me from carrying responsibility over my son's random mutation in his genes and drove deeper my belief that all things can and should be used for the glory of God.
"1As Jesus was passing by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned,this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”3Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened that the works of God would be displayed in him.…"
 I cherish every minute I got to be a part of the Barker's Mill congregation and if life were to ever take me back there, I'd join again.

And now, here I am at Sylvan Hills church of Christ.  They have mic'd singers in the pews (gasp!).  They don't have any hymnals in the backs of the chairs (shriek!).  There is a woman in charge of the children's ministry (whaaaaaaat????).  They let me run a yoga class in their classroom building (eeeeek!)

Our children partake in the Lord's Supper right along with those of us who have been baptized (faint).  I was hesitant at first.  More like indignant.  But as I worshiped there and got to know people, I realized that these weren't spur of the moment decisions.  Elders meet and study and pray on every new thing that comes up.  They keep their eyes open to new ideas.  They entertain questions.  They have a class on Sunday mornings called "Round Table It"  specifically to research and pray on the questions we weren't allowed to have in my old church!  We are allowed to have opinions and voice them.  My child has learned more about who Jesus is to him personally in the one year we've worshiped here than I ever did as a child.  Yes, the kids still memorize Bible verses and the plagues and such things, but the emphasis here is so much deeper than repeating words back to their teachers.

These sweet babies, MY baby, will have a completely different journey in Christ than I did.  Andrew will not have the same fears, shame, guilt, and conflicting spiritual ideas as I did.  As I do.  Its hard work unlearning what you've known your whole to be true.  I'm a work in progress,  Little will always know the freedom of being allowed to raise questions, leave traditions behind that dont have a hard scriptural basis, and being able to worship the way that sets right in his soul.  Gone are the days of being forced to sit in silence and stillness (for me - this Little boy has always been a roamer).
This is not a post meant to bash anyone's congregation or worship style.  What I'm learning is that there's not any one right way to come together in His name.  I'm not saying all old school churches of Christ are beating down their members' ideas.  I'm not saying your grandparents are wrong  I'm not saying this was anyone else's experience other than mine and those I've discussed this with.  I'm saying that I was taught things as concrete that are fluid. I am saying that I am so incredibly thankful that I am raising my child in a church family where he will grow up knowing he is loved by his Father even through his sins.  When Andrew needs to ask for more clarity on a biblical principle, he will be encouraged instead of hushed or written off as argumentative.  I'm saying that it is my job, as his mother and as a christian, to study and find out the truth in the Bible instead of just taking someone else's view as the end of the discussion.

Andrew is growing up in a time of worship where he will be learning that fellowship is just as important as reverence.  I am so grateful for this place and what I'm learning.  I am so excited for where this faith adventure takes Andrew.  I'm excited to see where it takes me.






Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A LittleYoga

Hey friends! So I've had a lot going on these past few months.  Like a LOT a lot.  Too much to write in here right now.  Andrew and I are still in the funk of it at the moment, but it'll all work out one day.  I'll update I. Here at some point, but for today I want to talk about yoga.  I have set up a GoFundMe account to see if I can get myself Yoga Alliance certified to start off this newest chapter of life.  I'll copy/paste it here.

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Hey, Everyone!  My name is Katherine and yes, I feel like an a$$ asking you for your hard earned money.  This is different from my yearly fundraising for MDA - that money doesn't go to me and could possibly fund the cure for my son someday.  So I have NO issue asking you to fork over some change for that.  But this?  Money for me? Yeah.  Aca-awkward.  But I don't know what else to do.  So here goes.

I have a 5 yr old son named Andrew.  He is the most wonderful, difficult, silly, stubborn, beautiful mess.  He is so Little and smart and loves to dance and is really starting to develop a precious love for God.  He also happens to have Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a rare and terminal rapidly progressive muscle wasting disease.  Little can walk today, but in a few years he will not.  Soon after that, he will lose the ability to lift his arms.  His lungs will fail.  His heart will fail.  There is no cure.  There is no treatment nor drug to slow the progression of the disease.  He is not expected to live past his early 20s.  

I have chronic headaches, neck and shoulder pain that trigger migraines every few days.  The posture one takes from caring for someone one who only comes up to your waist coupled with carrying said human on your left hip every day for 5.5 years will do that to you.  I will be doing this his entire life.  (Yes, I do have to carry him even though he can walk.  He moves at a snail's pace and fatigues after just a few minutes on his feet.)

So what does all this have to do with yoga and why do I need financial help?

Well, yoga is the one hour of the day where I am both pain free and anxiety free.  Practicing takes away every  muscle ache, every desire to crack a vertebrae.  I focus on breathing and stretching and not on Little's upcoming doctor appointments or how many times he's already fallen that day.   I want to give that hour to others.  I want to give an hour like that to my son.  I want to go into senior centers and rehabilitation centers and give an hour of relief to them.   I want to support ,yield and my child financially.  I want to give him a future above the poverty level.   I want to safely and effectively stretch my child when he can no longer move on his own.  But to do that, I need certification.  And certification costs money.  Andrew and I are on an incredibly tight (like non existent) budget due to the loss of income that has come our way recently.  We have had to sell our home in KY and head to AR.  We are also mooching off of my sister and brother-in-law so we have a roof over our heads.   So, yeah, no extra change for yoga school.  But this is what I want to do with my life.  

I need to start NOW while Little is relatively healthy and I can get to class for 9 months, start teaching, and eventually rent a studio space.  I don't know how long I have with Andrew, and I want to do everything I can to make his quality of life better.  So that's why I need your help.  School starts in Sept and I need to register within the next few weeks, but I can't register unless I know I will be able to pay for it.  $3000 for certification, $ for classes outside of the teaching studio where I can do my homework, and $ for practice tools.  $3500 should cover it.  So, that's my novella.  

Can  you help us?
Namaste - Katherine

You can follow along with us at (and our FB link is on the right hand side of the page)
www.HomemadeTaterTot.blogspot.com





Saturday, October 11, 2014

But I Thought You'd Already Been Baptized...

video


Last night, I repented and was baptized.  Again.  Second time now.  The first was when I was 14 years old.  20 years ago.  Feels like 4 lifetimes ago.  When I did it back then, I believed that I was doing the right thing - declaring that I do believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that he died for the remission of my sins.  The end.  In my 14 year old mind, that was the thing you do in the Church when you believe and you're about that age.  I didn't give much thought to the way I was supposed to live my life afterwards.  BECAUSE I WAS 14.

Ever since Little was born, my perspective on everything has changed.  Yes, I know all mothers say that, but not all mothers have a child with a rapidly degenerative and ultimately fatal muscle disease.  When I say my point of view has changed, I'm talking about a Mt. Vesuvius kind of obliteration of everything "pre-Little".  These past almost 5 years have put a nagging in my heart that I wasn't quite right with God.  These past 3 months in particular have brought it front and center in my mind.  I've been worrying more, allowing anger and resentment to take hold, and questioning whether or not I was all in when I went under the water as a teen.  Was I wholeheartedly baptized or did I just get wet?  No one should live with that doubt.  When you make the decision to be baptized and follow through on it, then your name is written in the Book of Life.  I haven't been able to say to myself, "Yes, absolutely" when wondering if I'll go to Heaven when I die.  I don't want to be hopeful for it anymore, I want to KNOW.  And now I know; my name IS there.  I'm not saying anyone has to go and be baptized after they've already done it.  I'm saying I needed to step back into that water.  I needed to rededicate myself to Him.  But if you are questioning yourself and your previous intentions, then maybe you do, too.

Over the summer, I learned that two of my dear friends who I invited to start attending church services with me made the decision and were baptized.  Then a few weeks later, one of their dads did the same.  I was lucky to be in town that time and got to witness it.  Then 2 weeks ago, their sister took the plunge.  They thanked me every time one of them repented and alhtough I was overjoyed at their decisions, I also felt a pang of guilt and shame.  It took me until yesterday to realize why.  Who was I to be thanked for leading anyone to God when I wasn't even sure I was there?  What kind of hypocrite am I to tell others they need to be baptized when I needed to be reborn myself?

 I get it now in a way my 14 year old self wasn't mature enough to comprehend.  I have a child now and I experience the love a parent (God) has for their children (us).  I think about the way Mary and God must have felt watching Jesus up on the cross and it breaks my heart in a way it never did before Little.  My son will suffer and die from his disease, but the research and studies and clinical trials he is and will be a part of will help these doctors cure future generations of boys with Duchenne.  Now I am NOT equating Duchenne with the cross or the treatments with salvation, please don't misunderstand me.  What I'm saying is that I have the tiniest glimpse of what it is like to watch your child suffer for a greater cause.  When he gets those injections one day, when he suffers side effects from a new medicine, when he is bruised from testing out leg braces, when he swells and screams in pain and cries from giving blood for a lab to study and use - those are physical sacrifices he is and will endure for the sake of DMDers to come.   AND IT KILLS ME.  This smallest of insights into what Mary and God must have felt to give their child to the cross for us is still brutal.  Now magnify that 100000 times.  That's what it must have been for them on that day to watch Jesus endure what he did.  I don't believe I could have handled it.   And to know that it was for us - sinners?  People who don't deserve dog scraps?  How can I keep living a life for me and not God when He gave his son for me??????

So I brought it up to two of my sweet friends last night and one of them blurted out "So let's do it tonight."  And she was right.  When you know, you go.  Don't waste another second.  So we didn't.

The second most precious part about it (bc obviously salvation is the most) was having my son at the foot at the baptistery.  He got to watch Mommy wash her sins away and now we have this moment together.



I sat there are bawled for a moment (who's surprised?) while Andrew's tiny hands clapped for me over in the corner of the photo.  The blonde head in the picture is my friend's son.  My preacher's grandson was there, too.  It was so awesome to get to show these three little souls what we do when we decide to follow Jesus.

In these last 20 years, I have made some pretty poor choices (some great ones, too).  I never stopped believing that Jesus was the way, but my life didn't always show it.  That's what we're supposed to do, though, be a light for Jesus.  No, my light never went out, but it sure flickered on and off.  You couldn't always look at me and think, "Oh, she must be a Christian".  But that's what I want.  That's what God wants.  To begin my life anew for Him, I knew I needed to rededicate and recommit myself to His will.  As my preacher said, the troubles I had before going in the water will still be there when I come out - so this is no blink of an eye change for me.  I will still make inappropriate jokes.  I will still cuss when I stub my toe.  I will still have feelings of anger, resentment, jealousy, pride, and impatience.  But I can give them to God.  I can ask for his help and forgiveness.  I can rest easy, safe in the knowledge that God's got this.

Acts 2:38     Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 3:19 19"Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord

So above you see that the Bibles does instruct us to be repentant and baptized for the remission of our sins.  And below, you will see that Jesus, himself, repented and was baptized.

Matthew 3:13-17 “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

And here, is how I felt last night.  This passage shows you the urgency in which we should stop what we are doing and take the plunge, so to speak.  We don't know what the next hour holds, so why wait?  Why take that chance?


Acts 8:35-38New AMERICAN STANDARD    Bible (NASB)


35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch *said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 [[a]And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] 38 And he ordered the [b]chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.


So what are you waiting for?