What if God Doesn’t Exist?

God exists.  I believe He does.  But my son recently asked me, that if God didn’t exist, would I want to know (I think Nick was collecting info for a project at his Bible College).  My answer was yes.  I never explained myself and he never asked for clarification, but I’ve been pondering this for a few weeks.

Some people describe Christianity (or a belief in any religion) as a crutch.  They say it’s to pacify some kind of fear of death.  If my belief was for that purpose, then I would be getting Christianity ALL wrong.  As much as I don’t fear death (I didn’t when I was an atheist either), I think belief in Jesus makes my life much harder.  I would want to know if God doesn’t exist, because I could really cut back on some hard things I now choose to do in my life that are based on my belief.  First and foremost, I could spend every weekend free of commitment to my church family…sleep in, watch football.

I could stop giving large chunks of our money to causes to help others.  I could stop letting others use our stuff (like our home or our cars).  Because of God, I share more than is sometimes comfortable, because I believe He owns my money and my things. I pray, and I feel God dictates that I use the things He’s given me to help others.  Not only does He ask me to share, He wants me to do it joyfully.  It’s hard giving up what you work for and sharing your space with others with a giving spirit.  I’m learning to do this.

I could hold a grudge and get revenge.  I know that getting back at someone can sometimes give you satisfaction.  Letting things go is not easy.  When someone hurts you, you feel in your heart that getting back at them will give you some kind of justice.  Trusting God with that justice, and learning to love when you are hurting is a HUGE challenge for me.  As a believer, I have had to pray through many hurts and learn to forgive.  I’ve had to give up on opportunities to “get them back” for what they did, and just let things go.  Years can go by, and I have to let go all over again.  It’s really not easy to live in forgiveness.

I could hate, swear, get drunk, eat like a glutton, be sardonic, exclude people, mock weakness in others, gossip…all without guilt.  I know some of you are thinking that I’m not the type to do these things, but I think I am very capable of all of it.  Sometimes, deep in my heart, I think it would be easier not to use kindness.  It would be easier to yell at people (like in traffic).  I would probably find humor in making fun of others.  I wouldn’t have to dig deep to find extra grace for people who rub me the wrong way.  As I follow Jesus, I find myself challenged to often bite my tongue.

I could spend more time at my leisure.  For 12 years I have been working with teens because God called me to do so.  I go once a week for Bible study (which takes me 1-3 hours to prepare for), twice a month for large group gatherings, once a month for Youth Staff meetings, countless Starbucks dates with teens wanting to share their heart, and much time in prayer. I have to show love, even when a student is making bad choices and breaking my heart.  All of this is a challenge and it would be easier to stay home and hang out with my friends at my convenience.  God calls me to care for His teens.

So, yes, if God doesn’t exist, I would want to know.  Then again, all these things have blessed my life on a deep level.  The crazy thing is, I don’t know if I would understand the blessings of grace, giving, and caring if I didn’t know God.  It is through the way He challenges me to do these things that I have learned the joy in them.  It is through the challenge to be more like Jesus that I find joy in things I probably wouldn’t care about if there were no God.

 

Resolution Check In ~ Oct 2014

The year is coming to a close and my New Year’s resolutions are close to complete (if not complete already).  Some, like most people are just not happening as planned.

  • I will complete 2 quilts

I started working full time for the first time in 18 years (M-F, 9-5) and I have less time for these fun projects.  I still want to finish at least one of my quilts.  Let’s see if I can do it by Christmas.

  • I will finish my read through the Bible that I started in 2013

As I said last post, I’ve achieved this goal and now I’m planning on reading through the New Testament in French.  I’m slowly making my way through Matthew right now (It’s wonderful).

  • I will exercise at least 5 days a week (unless I’m sick)

OK, so new plan.  I started running over a month ago.  I mostly do interval running (spaced out with short walks in between).  I won’t be working out 5 days a week, but I’m running 4 days a week.  It fits in with my work schedule and I love it.  I feel that I can choose not to be too legalistic with my resolution and realize that what I’m doing achieves the idea behind my original goal.  In fact, I would say I’m healthier with my exercise than I thought I’d be, so I feel this one I can check off.

  • I will lose 50 lbs.

I have lost 59 lbs.  I can definitely check this one off!  My real goal though is 70 lbs.  11 more to go.  In 2 more lbs. I’ll reach my healthy BMI and no longer be over weight, which, given I started as an obese person, is pretty great.  AND I’m feeling pretty great.

  • I will post a non “picture blog” at least once a week.

I think I’ve only missed a few days this year.  This goal has been a blessing in disguise.  I love to write, but have a bit of the procrastination bug.  By having this deadline, it forces me to be accountable to myself.

  • If I reach 100 followers, I’ll try to figure out some kind of giveaway.

Oh my goodness gracious me!  I have over 100 followers.  I will come up with some kind of mini giveaway before my next check-in for my loyal followers.  Stay Tuned and Thanks everyone!!!

Happy October! I better start praying about next year’s resolutions.

Sign That Again

My youngest son has started college. As a homeschool mom, you worry that because you keep your kids out of a classroom for 12 years, they might not adjust to college very well. In my case, they never attended any kind of school outside the home. Other than 2-3 families hanging at our house for things like a biology dissection, we really did it all at home…alone.

So imagine my surprise as I watch my youngest adapt beautifully to his new environment. He has friends in all his classes (yes, even though he’s only 16 in college). He’s currently ranked 3rd in his Calculus class and excelling in both his speech class and his Sign Language class (ok, I’m done bragging).

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This last Friday he came home from college and announced he must attend a deaf event for his Sign Language class (a class he’s been taking for 4 weeks). He said he was going to a Starbucks 30 minutes away, from 8pm until whenever (it ends at midnight, but you can leave when you like), to a deaf discussion group. I had been learning sign for two days online in my free time. I knew maybe 20 signs (I wanted to be able to communicate with him this way). Together we agreed I could join him if I promised not to crowd him, so off we went.

It was such a great experience. We mingled and signed with strangers that were so kind about teaching us new words. Jared met some of his classmates and they seemed to hit it off immediately. He found the other three 16 year-olds in his class and they quickly exchanged phone info and chatted as a group all night (both in English and in sign). I met another mom who had come with her daughter, because her 16 year old still only had her driver’s permit (they were also homeschoolers). We also hit it off.

The kids did great approaching strangers at the event. They admitted later they didn’t always understand what the people were saying, but they made a big effort and learned a lot. One girl had a sign very wrong, and instead of saying, “I’m 16 years old” she managed to say “I’m 16 lesbians” all night. They all laughed about their errors and we ended up staying until 11pm. I thought we’d last an hour ~ I was wrong.

Mardi Gras Murder Mystery Dinner

mardi gras murderYes, my friends and I are at it again. We had another mystery dinner. Once again the costumes were brilliant and we had a blast. I won’t tell you who did it, because you should really host one (and this one was especially fun).  The boxed set we bought through Amazon, and it’s called “Murder at Mardi Gras“.  We served lemon pepper salmon and Cajun catfish and it was a big hit (the sides were amazing too ~ thanks everyone for contributing).  Here are some great pictures of our adventure…(If you live near us and want to borrow the box, let me know.  All you need is 4 crazy couples and a great sense of humor).IMG_2168IMG_2165IMG_2162

No grace whatsoever

I wish,  like most times,  I could just rant and feel good about my mini tirades;  this is different.   This is a rant that really exposes one of my weaknesses and makes me look rather petty.

I have been at my church for 15 years.  We have been through many transitions.   People have come and gone and each time we have some kind of Question & Answer (Q&A) session so people can process.   I went to a few of them in the early years,  but now I mostly avoid them.

This is my problem,  people ask questions that make me cringe.  People I love, to the core,  start asking about details and minutiae that just waste time.  It makes me turn on them with mockery and very little grace.

Our church is going through one of its biggest transitions.   Another church has basically taken over our (dead) church.   This is a great thing.   Now,  the hubby and I are in a 10 week class to get to know the new church and prepare for working in leadership as volunteers.  During class, they have a Q&A time…Yikes… pray for me.

Last night I got a terrible case of the giggles as people asked things that are either, 1) what we will be learning in the class later, or 2) things that were personal questions and only apply to the asker (don’t get me started on the “just sharing” comments). I have no tolerance for this.

Some of you may be like me and think the same way,  but really I think I’m exhibiting no grace.   Some people just need to ask or share.  Some need the reassurance.

I’ll probably act like a dummy again next week.   But maybe someone will have grace for my infantile behavior.  Again, pray for me.

Working Stiff

Today was my first day working full time in 18 years; it was wonderful. I do think I need to take my hat off to working moms everywhere. For years people have said. “You homeschool? Wow that sounds hard”, but the truth is, I loved homeschooling my kids (most days). TodayI had to come home after a long day at work and plan dinner…that to me was a bit nuts. The whole day was a bit off…

The morning started with a plan to run (I have been running every other day lately) and it just wasn’t going to happen. I heard that alarm and I was not in the “mood” to run. I needed more sleep. I worked all day. About mid-afternoon I felt the struggle of not having the luxury of just taking a nap (when I homeschooled I did that a LOT!).  I hope the person training me didn’t notice a bunch of yawns coming out of my face.  On my way home I stopped to get a burrito, so I’d have lunch for tomorrow. I came home, cooked dinner, got my run in, a little TV and now I’m off to bed EARLY (I plan to run Friday morning ~ wink wink)

This all sounds like the most boring post ever…but I loved it ALL. I WORKED! I have a job! So hats off to you working stiffs like me, and to my fellow homeschool moms, I’m sorry I gave away our secret that homeschooling isn’t as hard as non-homeschoolers say it is (enjoy the Lego, read aloud times, and naps. It goes by quickly).  I guess I should also say sorry for giving away the secret to the fact that work is a blessing and pretty stinking awesome (I don’t even have my first paycheck yet).  OK, I’m wearing rose-colored glasses, but life is just so good.

God Bless you ALL! (and pray for me, as I’m not a caffeine person.  I can do this)

Ball Murder Incident of 1974

Steph and SamNow that I’m a grown up I look back at my childhood and I have a healthy dose of respect for some of the things that, as a kid, I thought were crazy parenting ideas.  When my brother and I were in trouble, my mom would send us to our rooms to “think about it”.  Now, my brother would head up to his room and stay there for hours and forget he was sent there.  He was an introvert and loved spending time alone.  This worked for everyone.  Then I started getting sent to my room.  I would respond to my mother with, “I thought about it”.  My mother would insist I needed to think about it in my room.  As a kid I didn’t see the necessity, but now I see the brilliance.  I would run up the stairs, enter my room, close the door, think for 1..2..3 seconds, open the door, run back down stairs and apologize.  This gave my mom just enough time to catch her breath and it gave me a little time to run some of my wiggles off by taking those stairs.  I see it now. There was one incident that stands out to me, that I think gives me some of my creative parenting.

This is a picture of my best friend and I in ballet (I danced for 9 years, she went on to dance as a Prima Ballerina ~ I’m the tall one).  She and I were inseparable.  As kids, we came up with some dumb activities and we did some crazy things.  We used to go to the neighbor’s house and play on his clothesline.  We would hang our dolls on it and run it across the backyard as fast as we could and see who could get their doll the farthest before it fell off.

One day we were playing ball in the house.  I know, stupid, right?  It was one of those cheap dime store type balls (a dime store was like a 7-eleven, only better because it was a local store and you could buy penny candy and cheap toys).  Something must have happened because my mom was not happy with us and our current game choice (we probably broke something).  All I remember about that day, was my mom taking the ball from us, putting it between her feet, stabbing it with a GIANT kitchen knife, and then handing the “murdered” ball back to us.  She never said a word.  We stood there awe struck holding a deflated, dead ball.

The brilliance, was the lack of comment.  Most of the time I remember getting scolded or lectured.  I remember the classic treks to my room.  This was unique parenting at its finest.  My mom destroyed a ball that probably cost 25 cents…and got a lifetime of statement out of it.  I never played ball in the house again (still won’t).  Over the years I have also had unique moments in my parenting, and I’d like to thank my mom for her creativity.  Good Job Mom!