Category Archives: Faith Series

Seminary: What Those Mormon Kids Are Doing Every Morning

As a Mormon girl, I am asked the best questions:

Can you use electricity? (yes, I am not Amish)

Do you have magic underwear? (um, I don’t think so?)

Do you celebrate Christmas and birthday? (YES!)

Are you Christian? (YES!)

Can anyone attend your church? (Heck yes!)

I really don’t get asked these questions that often anymore. But my children do! And believe me, many of those questions I cannot type out in this forum…:)

But hey, at least they are asking and we are discussing.

Here’s another question we get all the time: Your kids are taking what?

Seminary.

“What’s seminary? Are they monks or something?”

Seminary is a religion class for high school age students.

Does everyone have to do it?

No. Only about half of my children’s Mormon friends are enrolled.

Not everyone thinks it’s important. Or, they think it’s important, but it’s not worth the time and effort. But for our kids growing up in this world, I think it’s essential.

So I say: LET’S DO SEMINARY!

If you live in Utah, Idaho, some parts of Arizona, and other regions of the United States with large concentrations of Mormon high schoolers, you actually get to take a religion class during the day, in a separate building close to your school. You lucky ducks.

But for the majority of LDS teens, class starts before school. I’m sure your teens would shout for joy at the prospect; teenagers love to get up early!

Typically this religion class begins at the beautiful hour of 6 a.m. That’s right, 6 a.m. five days a week. I participated in seminary when I was in high school and luckily, the church was five minutes away. Even as an early bird, it was about the hardest thing I did for four years, especially on the cold Nebraska winter days when it was black as night and I was a frozen, really skinny ice cube.

And there was always the issue of my hair. No matter my grand intentions to look stellar at 6, (uh, there were BOYS in the class!) typically I would roll out of bed mere minutes before rolling out of the driveway looking…like I just rolled out of bed.

It was a happy day for my mother when we had our license. My siblings and I may have broken a few speeding laws and rolled through a few stop signs…and popped a few tires…oh, those were the early morning days that we used to call “cemetery.”

The seminary program has continued. Since we live far away from civilization, I do not have to drive my children to seminary (oh, happy day) but they still get to participate! The internet is one amazing thing. My two teens are enrolled in on-line seminary. They have a real teacher and a real class they connect with every Thursday evening. The other days of the school week they complete a lesson that typically takes between 30-40 minutes.

What exactly are they studying?

DSC_0786For Mormon youth, they rotate every four years between: The Old Testament, The New Testament, The Book of Mormon, and The Doctrine and Covenants.

img_2217 This year they are studying The Old Testament.

img_2222They can complete the lesson at any time during the day; they don’t have to get up really early, but they sometimes do, to get it done. And yes, they are often very tired.

img_2225 I especially like when they sit and complete a lesson together. img_2212 Enough with the pictures, Mom. I’m trying to concentrate.img_2234Seminary is best done with cozy blankets. And if you’re really lucky, Mom or Dad might bring you a snack or make you breakfast (but admittedly, #slackermom.)

Why would you do such a thing?

Well, here’s my thing.

I want my children to know and love the Lord. I want to raise my children to not only be good, but spiritual. I want them to know that God speaks to us through the scriptures. I want them to know for themselves, that they are not alone on this earth, but that there is a higher power who will get them through their darkest days.

The New Testament tells about the greatest man who ever walked the earth. It tells of the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It gives us lessons from the past and hope of things to come.

Last night I considered the wisdom of these scriptures as I peeked over my children’s shoulders:

Matthew 6:19-21 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Matthes 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

The language is not only beautiful but inspiring. Sometimes I start to lose hope and faith in this world that we live in. The political climate is toxic. But I hold on to the words I read in my youth from Isaiah: Do not fear, for I am with you.

A few weeks ago one of my children had a really hard day at school. As I worried, this child said: “But I remembered a scripture I had read from seminary. It just came to my mind.” And my heart was filled. This strong, good child was going to be okay.

Honestly, with the things our kids have to deal with, sometimes I wonder how I would get through high school now. Today’s youth are part of a strong and good generation, but they need us to help them be good and strong. Reading the scriptures helps our family and our children. There is a great spirit that fills our home when we read individually and together. We are kinder, closer, better.

As for seminary? What could be better than starting the day with prayer, personal scripture study, and meditation?

Seminary had other consequences I didn’t appreciate until much later: I learned that I could do hard things like get up every morning at 5:30. It helped me go to bed earlier. It challenged my willpower. I became much more disciplined. It raised my confidence in myself. It helped me be obedient to the other things I knew were right. It helped me not be so vain about my hair 🙂

It helped me learn and know this principle: God Honors Those Who Honor Him.

Seminary is early and it’s hard and hardly convenient – and it’s worth it.

So that’s a little insight into our world. I’d love to hear from yours!

Any more questions? Ask!

 

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Paige’s Baptism and the Holy Week Begins

People often ask me what baptism is like for members of the Mormon faith (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). Well, it’s cool! I only know how to write what I know, so this is what it looked like for our family this weekend:

Sunday was already a special day as Christians everywhere began the celebration of The Holy Week, the last week of Jesus Christ’s life on earth. Palm Sunday, seven days before his resurrection, Jesus triumphantly rode into Jerusalem.

It also happened to coincide with the day our sweet Paige was baptized.

As is the Christian custom and belief, baptism is the first step toward living with our Heavenly Father again. In the Mormon faith, there is no infant baptism as we believe babies are all born clean, pure, and without sin. By age 8, our opportunities for naughtiness increase :). Children are capable of knowing right from wrong and are able to take responsibility for their own actions, thus the need for baptism.

We have been talking about baptism for many months now, preparing Paige. It is very important to us that she knows what baptism is all about, what covenants (promises) are, what it means to “take upon us the name of Christ.”

It is amazing what a little child can understand, how close they are to spiritual matters, how soft their hearts are. There was no holding her back – she practically danced her way to church.

Earlier in the week, on her 8th birthday (my baby is eight, an unfathomable topic), the thing she most wanted was her own set of scriptures. She was very particular about the style: compact, black, snap-shut case, and her name scripted on the cover.

The scriptures include The Bible (the King James Version) and The Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ’s ministry.IMG_8269

She did not specify a duct-tape scripture case, but that’s what she got 🙂 Nelson, of course, made it for her, and she was pleased as punch. (Get your orders in now!)

IMG_8235

As the big baptism day approached she was so excited, she could hardly sleep.

paige3We had a little photo shoot. I practiced my rudimentary ISO and aperture knowledge, attempting to capture my girl and all her goodness.paige2 paige1 IMG_8367

Finally, the big day arrived. My parents had flown in from Scotsdale, AZ, my twin brother drove up from New York City, and our dear Makechnie cousins arrived from Needham, MA. Yes, baptism is something so important that family members travel from far and wide.

IMG_8368Paige felt pretty special as we drove to church, stuck right there in the middle.

The program is simple. Paige had made assignments weeks earlier. Grandma Heather gave an opening prayer. Brynne (10) led the music (so darling.) Brother Nelson (13) gave a short talk on what baptism means. He talked about sins feeling like heavy rocks, but because of the atonement of Jesus Christ, we can repent (say we’re sorry, try to make things right, pray for forgiveness, and try not to do it again), and that heavy load disappears.

Hearing my boy bear his testimony and share what he believes at such a young age made me teary; I caught a glimpse of the good man and missionary he can become.

Then it was time for the baptism. Paige wore a simple white dress, representing “clean” and the “washing away of all sins.”

In the Mormon faith we are baptized by “full immersion” as Jesus was. It is a sacred ceremony, but all are invited to attend and witness, whether you are a member of the church or not. Gregor performed the baptism as he did for all our children.

When Paige came out of the water she had a big smile on her face. As I helped her get changed and back into her other white dress I told her I was very proud of her and asked if she was happy. She nodded and gave me a big (wet) hug.

While she was getting changed, Paige’s cousins played the violin and the cello (awesome!) When Paige was dressed and we were seated again, her cousin Hailey (15) gave a short talk on what it means to have the gift of the Holy Ghost. Wow. The talk was wonderful and I felt so grateful that my girls have such strong female role models; girls who know they are daughters of God, who have such a strong sense of self and faith.

The baptism was followed by a confirmation as Paige received “the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Hailey reminded Paige that the Holy Ghost would be a comforter in her life. It would guide her as she goes through life, making important decisions, and help her recognize right and wrong.

Paige listened so earnestly and the feeling of love was strong. She was confirmed an official member of church by her Grandfather Nelson, followed by handshakes and hugs.

The “cousin choir” sang a closing song and then Cope gave a beautiful closing prayer. As Grandpa Art said, we were “brimming with joy.”

After the baptism Paige sat next to me during sacrament meeting. She looked up at me with her big blue eyes and said, “I am perfectly clean now with no sins. I’m not carrying anything heavy.”

I smiled down at her, knowing how she felt. But the greatest thing I wanted her to understand is that baptism is just the first step. There will be times she feels heavy. She will make mistakes like we all do – and it is okay. There will be heartache and missteps. Like all of us, she will feel badly. She will feel guilt. And, like all of us must do to progress, she will try to do better. That that’s what this life is all about.

When I sat down to write this post I put aside the worry and second guessing my word choices. I tried to just write what was in my heart and then go back and edit. But after, I didn’t want to go back and “fix” and make this all sound politically correct or “right.” What’s in my heart feels right, so I will leave it largely unchanged and unedited.

I am often hesitant to share my faith so publicly, for fear of criticism or misunderstanding, but you know, Jack Canfield wrote, “everything you want is on the other side of fear.” The more real and honest we are with each other, the more we do understand. The more open I am, I find that my fears are unwarranted; many many people not of my faith asked how Paige’s baptism went. They want to know. We are curious cats. Pepper me with questions if you like. My blog is as open book as it gets!

As I tucked Paige into bed last night she asked her usual questions and some unusual ones too…”would you still love me if…” I assured her I would love her forever. I think she’s also testing me. Now that she’s all “good” and hasn’t had time to smash the car or smack her sister, will I still love her if she messes up?

She smashed her nose to one side. “Would you love me if I looked like this?” “Would you love me if I did this…” The scenarios ranged from the innocent to the more macabre, “if I killed a squirrel…”

I assured her that there was nothing she could do to make me not love her (though perhaps I might not always like everything!) Times my love by an infinite number and that’s how much I believe God loves her and each of us individually. That love is not conditional. It is always there, waiting for us to receive it.

The scriptures say that this life is the time for “men to prepare to meet God.” Baptism is that first step. We’re so proud of you, Paige.

Love, Mom

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Sunday Meditations: when life is most definitely not fair

We often feel bogged down with the weight of sadness in the world.

Life wasn’t fair when we were children and it’s not fair now. Hate is strong. Planes crash into buildings. Friends struggle to have babies.

I live in America. That baby in Africa will die before age 1. How is that fair?

It’s not. Forget fair.

My friend Eric has ALS. It’s so unfair. And I can’t stand it.

And of course I’m going to have to stand it.

Anne Frank.

Ugo Betti.

Corrie Ten Boom.

Emilie Parker’s mother and father.

This short list of names say something about how some people respond when life is most definitely not fair.

They see something beyond the right now.

Does faith emerge because of tragedy? Or in spite of?

To have faith is to “hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (see Book of Mormon, Alma 32:21 and Hebrews 11:1). Each day you act upon things you hope for, even before you see the end result. This is similar to faith.

“faith is believing what you know, and knowing what you believe.”

Ugo Betti, a writer and POW wrote:

“To believe in God is to know that all the rules will be fair, and there will be wonderful surprises.”

It keeps me going.

 

I invite people of all different faiths, beliefs, ages, and walks of life to share their own Sunday Meditations in the form of short stories, thoughts, quotes, and inspiration. If interested, send me an email at amym (at) proctornet (dot) com. Thank you! And if you never want to miss a post, well then you best subscribe RIGHT HERE.

 

 

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Sunday Meditations: Ruth, Virtue, and Our Unknown Greatness

The Old Testament tells of a virtuous woman named Ruth.

After her husband dies, Naomi returns to her homeland with her daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth.

Naomi then tells them to go back home, to rest, and find husbands. She kisses them, and weeps. Orpah returns home. Ruth utters the famous words:

“Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and they God my God.” Ruth 1:16.

Ruth works like a servant, gleaning corn in a field, owned by a wealthy man named, Boaz. Boaz admires Ruth’s virtue. She finds favor in his sight.

Boaz and Ruth marry. Was this destiny?

Through this marriage came King David.

King David’s descendant?  Jesus of Nazareth.

I am always struck by Ruth’s great faith, love, and loyalty for Naomi.

The Lord needs virtuous women. Women willing to do the hard things.

We do not know the greatness we are creating. Our faithfulness may only come to light many generations from now.

 

 

 

Sunday Meditations is something I’d like to start posting every Sunday morning. I am looking for very short guest posts! I invite people of all different faiths, beliefs, ages, and walks of life to share short stories, thoughts, quotes, and inspiration. If interested, please send me an email at amym (at) proctornet (dot) com. Thank you!

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Lent. and taking ourselves to the challenge.

Recently I was running on the treadmill. Hating every second of it. Listening to an Able James podcast (they rock). Because podcasts and One Direction’s “Story of My Life” is the only way I get through such misery. (how embarrassing.)

Able was interviewing Mark, a Navy Seal and the author of the Seal Fit blog. His tagline? FORGING MENTAL TOUGHNESS.

The Seal was talking about physical challenges – which I was obviously having on that treadmill.

“Take yourself to the challenge,” he said. “If you don’t, the challenge will come to you. It always does. And you won’t be ready for it.”

The challenge will WRECK the unprepared.

So I puffed and huffed, knowing that the treadmill was really about mental toughness. I took myself to the challenge. It nearly wrecked me.

But not quite.

I stepped off, one step closer to 26 miles at the base of the great Rocky Mountains. I can only hope that because I’m prepared, I won’t be wrecked.

By the way, I don’t believe that “taking yourself to the challenge” applies only to physical feats. Your challenge will be different than mine. It could be-

  • Motherhood
  • Potty training
  • Fatherhood
  • Writing
  • Patience
  • Killing a Spider
  • Alcohol
  • Emptying a Mouse Trap (um. me.)
  • Keeping Mouth Shut

Oh, the list goes on and on.

Which leads me to lent.

Do you celebrate? I thought it was a Catholic holiday, but actually, it’s a Christian tradition that many different religions practice. I know this because I Googled, “Lent for Dummies.”

The thought of lent has been on my mind for days. I’m especially interested in the idea of a holy period that leads up to Easter.

In the Christian tradition, after the great party of Mardi Gras, where everyone sins and has their riotous fun, there is to be 40 days of prayer, repentance, almsgiving, and periods of fasting.

Darn it, I already missed the Mardi Gras thing.

Lent’s significance is supposed to be heightened during the Holy Week leading up to Easter, marking the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

In our house we always celebrate Easter, but it often creeps up on me. I sometimes fear that all my children will remember about Easter are addictive, sugary, pink marshmellow bunnies.

But the spirit of lent is something I’m familiar with.

In the Mormon religion, each first Sunday of the month is designated as “Fast Sunday.” This is a time of prayer, scripture, and going without food and water for 24 hours (as health and circumstance permits.) It’s voluntary and, for a society that really likes food – It’s hard.

A hard, hungry day where my stomach growls like that giant plant in Little Shop of Horrors…FEED ME SEYMOUR, FEED ME!!! (Yes, I’m a spoiled American.)

I find it most interesting that it is during these hard, hungry days, that clarity often comes, prayers are answered, and yes, miracles occur.

Why, I wonder, must we suffer to come closer to the divine? All I know, is that as we descend, we are somehow lifted. It just works.

This year the calendar says that lent began on Ash Wednesday, March 5th and will end forty days later on Thursday, April 17th. I know this because The Idiot’s Guide to Lent told me.

April 17th is also the day I fly to Salt Lake City to run. Hmmm.

Typically my Catholic friends give up something for forty days, like chocolate or sugar or coffee.

I found this information delightful as I’ve been giving up something every single month for my experiment of A Year of Living Without. I’ll be living lent for 365 days! Perhaps I have some Catholic in me.

In observance of a holy period around the world, I decided that 40 days of a little more holy would be good for our family.

Which led me to the forsythia bush. Yesterday afternoon I tromped through a couple feet of snow, and whacked at the snow-covered forsythia. At this moment, the bush is nothing but sticks. But I gathered the forsythia sicks and stuck them in a vase by the kitchen window.

forsythia

If spring won’t come to us – we will take those sticks to the challenge! Every morning, no longer in fear of subzero temps, the buds will open ever so slightly. is it safe to come out yet?

Forsythias can be forced to bloom when brought inside this way.

The forsythia reminds me of Easter. Of Life. Of Resurrection. We will watch the blooming yellow and be reminded that spring might actually come to  New Hampshire! even while the earth is still cold and dark.

I like the idea of lent because it makes us uncomfortable. It pushes us to do something a little bit hard.

Perhaps like the forsythia, we can force ourselves to be a little more holy. Maybe it’s in our mothering. Perhaps it’s at work. Perhaps it’s completely personal. A little more quiet in a world that won’t stop talking, peaceful in an unpeaceful world. We can be centered in a place of chaos. We can find God in a Guatemalan dump.

Can I find holy, make holy in a home filled with frenzy, stair sliding, nerf guns, and barf? I’m gonna try, darn it.

Ideas I’m digging:

  • Sarah. 40 bags in 40 days, going from room to room purging house of unneeded STUFF. Oh yes, I like.
  • Muse and Meander. Another way to look at Lent. What not to give up.
  • Ann Voskamp. printable lent scriptures, pictures, and thoughts to hang on your very own Easter lent tree.
  • Meredith. She’s keeping a gratitude journal in lieu of giving something up.

I hope that by the end of this holy period I will be lead to the well where there is water that actually fills me up.

“nobody needs anymore saltwater of empty religion, of self-help, of some pop psychology veneered with a bit of Bible.” – Ann Voskamp

Do you practice lent? Why? I’d love to hear.

Love, the lenten rookie.

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Why I Don’t Play On Sunday

            Let me set the scene.           

On Saturday morning my one and only son, Nelson, played in a basketball game that kicked off a tournament.  Single elimination.  Have I ever mentioned how much I love sports?  Well.  My heart beats at a quicker pace when I watch any of my children play; we are connected out there against the competition.  His basket is mine, her shot is my near-miss.  Their victory validates me (a little too much) and their defeat makes me pull my hair. I take great pleasure (and way too much pride) in their athleticism, but also take it personally when they fall short.  Yes, mama needs to get a grip.  But all I can say is, sports are a great joy to me. I’m always pushing those sweet things to try sports I never played, to practice their soccer moves, and for heaven’s sake, hydrate. 

Let us pause here a moment.

 We thought we knew what Daddy did on Saturday until I received this picture from a person who shall remain in protective custody.  Daddy says he’s coaching basketball when he’s gone to faraway places…but really…he’s playing Starsky and Hutch dress-up? 

Let’s not go there today.  It’s Sunday.
            So.  While driving Nelson to his basketball tournament on Saturday, we had a little pep talk about heart and soul.  Of being aggressive and smart and yeah, be a good sport, too.  He made his mama proud and played his heart out on the basketball court.  His defense was at its best.  His offense was at its peak.  At 11-years-old, he lives for a basket; it can make or break his mood for hours after.  Me?  I want to win, but I get over it quickly.  I’m finally maturing enough to see how FUN it is just to play.  How FUN it is to turn without your knees hurting.  Sniff.  I chirp about how “fun” it is even if we get our butt kicked.  I’m obnoxious on many levels. 

Saturday he dribbled, passed, and shot.  Though none of his shots were going in, he was my hero; I saw the heart and soul.

His team was ahead and the clock was counting down and my Nellie had the ball, five, four…”Shoot the ball” the crowd cried.  “Go, Nelson!”  My hands clenched, I stopped breathing though my heart pounded.  His team didn’t need him to score, but I prayed, please God, please let this shot go in for my Nellie…please…he neeeeeds this!  Probably God thinks I’m obnoxious, too.

Three, two…He went up for the shot but was blocked.  Dang!  “Shoot the ball!” the crowd cried again.  One.. He went right, dribble step, and let the ball fly while getting hit in the face.  The ball soared through the air as the buzzer went off.  And then it swished through the net for a 2-pointer. 

I almost cried. 

The shot didn’t win the game, but it won my son.  Knees skinned, shins bruised, face clawed, he was exultant.  And need you ask?  So was I.

            The team advanced to the next round, which was held the next day.  And even though I was prepared, my heart sank a bit.  The next day was Sunday.  His whole team would advance to the championship games together.  Without Nelson.  Without me in the stands – and who wouldn’t be sad about that??

Picture taking, bonding, rough housing, high fives.  Perhaps a few would ask, “Where’s Nelson?  Oh yeah, it’s Sunday.”  Some think it’s weird, some think it’s dumb, some even think it selfish to let a team down after practicing and competing together for three months and we can’t be there “just because it’s Sunday.”

I have wanted to write this post for a long time, but I always got stuck, worried about offending.  Let me say, I’d be horrified to come across as self-righteous.  That is not my intention, friends.  I’m just going to explain my “Why.”

As a Christian I interpret “Thou shalt keep the Sabbath day holy” as a day that I should keep the Sabbath day holy.  What does that mean to me?  Sunday is a day we go to church as a family.  We don’t watch the Disney Channel or play with friends (and that’s easy because none live on our road.)  We don’t go to restaurants or out for ice-cream or to movie theatres because that would mean we are making someone else work.  And gosh darn it, it kills me sometimes, but it also means no basketball tournaments.

It also means I’ll never run the New York City Marathon even if I qualify or win the running lottery.  I’ll never run the Covered Bridges Half-Marathon in Vermont – something I’m supposed to do as a New England runner.  Marine Corps marathon?  Nope.  Dallas?  Pittsburgh?  Well, I’ve never wanted to go there anyway.  It means a lot for the future, as so many thing are now being scheduled for Sunday.

            Some “no’s” are harder than others, but in this case it’s easier to be all or nothing.  If I run one race on Sunday, why not another?  If we go to one birthday party, then why not the next?  If anything, I’m trying to be consistent.  I can’t be the hypocrite.  I just want to do the right thing and not have my kids wonder what crazy mama is going to change her mind about next.

            It’s not something I ever agonized over; it’s just something we always did.  I suspected for a long time it was because my mother liked napping so much.  And the Sabbath is the day of rest.  Bingo!  I get it now! If there is anything that is more appealing than sleep to a woman with children, well, I’d like to hear it.  Sorry, honey.  And anyway, if the Lord himself needed to rest on the seventh day, then why can’t I?

            When I was a kid our church was located right next to the swimming pool we belonged too.  We swam there everyday except on Sundays.  On hot summer days my dad would drive past that beautiful blue pool, us kids shoved in the back seat of the olive green station wagon that never had air-conditioning and say wistfully, “Look at all those sinners having a terrible time.”  Meanwhile my best friend would be canon-balling off the diving board and shrieking with glee.  They sure looked like they were having a terrible time.  We’d sulk and scowl and my dad would laugh his head off.  I guess I’ve continued the tradition of torturing my children, too.

            In college it occurred to me that I didn’t have to go to church.  I didn’t have to keep anything holy!  I could sleep.  I could skip.  I could hop on the back of that motorcycle and drive to Tennessee.  Yee-haw, I miss those Idaho days!  But the guilt complex was too much for me.  And anyway, I like my naps, remember?  These days, I rarely get a Sunday nap.  I’m busy being mama or getting a lesson ready. 

My ma or pa aren’t here to tell me not to go swimming on the Sabbath.  My husband and I had to decide a long time ago what family life was going to look like on the Sabbath.  And we had to think:  Why?  Why doest it matter at all?

Why I don’t play.

1.  Physical regeneration.  I’m exhausted by Sunday.  I need the Sabbath to get rested for the onslaught of the coming week.  I give the world six of my days.  Can’t I just give the Lord, one?  “Come unto me, all ye heavy laden and I will give you rest.”  I need that rest.

2.  Spiritual growth.  I don’t think you need to go to church to feel the Lord’s spirit, but it is a very rare Sunday that I wish I had stayed home after I go.  I always leave with a better feeling than when I arrived.  I need it.  I crave it.  I need to remember who I am and what my purpose in life is.  A prayer, a scripture, a thought…it all helps me, especially when I’m surrounded by people who believe the same.  Their spirits feed mine.

3.  Obedience.  The way I keep the Sabbath day holy is my personal interpretation of how I love God on that day.  Heaven forbid that church becomes drive-through church, where I enter and leave unchanged.  I can’t be a brat to my neighbor and completely unchrist-like the rest of the week.  No, the Sabbath sets the stage for the rest of the week.  The way I keep the Sabbath day holy is my outward manifestation of my inner commitment to God.
 “Your neighbor’s vision is as true for him as your own vision is true for you.”

– Miguel de Unamuno. 

And whatever your vision, I respect that.  Each of us must decide what we stand for and then do that thing.

There are conflicts.  Because we don’t have gas stations just around the corner, and because I don’t plan well, sometimes I have to fill the gas tank.  I don’t like that. Sometimes my husband has to work on Sundays because he works at a boarding school and students need him.  Sometimes he can’t go to church with us.  When we lived on campus we went to church and then came home to be dorm parents to twelve teenage boys.  It was our job.  But it was still the Sabbath and the boys knew it.  Some would ask who that picture of Jesus was and why we went to church.  Once a student said to me, “I’ve heard of Moses – wasn’t he a really great actor?”  I always thought that very funny.  And a little sad, too.

            A woman I recently interviewed is a printmaker named J.Ann Eldridge.  Her light is strong.  You can tell by the thoughtful way she speaks that she means to do live with purpose.  She is not of my faith and I have no idea what she does on Sundays.  One of her prints is entitled, “My Religion Has Something to Do With Compost.”  The earth is her greatest passion and she takes care of it, recognizing its gift.  I find that holy.

            Once, when we were at church it was announced from the pulpit that a member of the congregation was having a water issue at their farm.  It was a dire situation and they needed help immediately.  The service was cancelled so we could go home and change and go to the farm with our shovels and trowels.  I’ll never forget my dear friend telling me how much it meant for her, as she sat in the middle of her farm, worried that all was lost, to see her church friends show up with shovels, food, and ready to work.  The farm was saved by brothers and sisters working side by side.  That’s holy.

            The Sabbath was meant for man, and not man for the Sabbath.

-Mark 2:27

            I have to admit, I had a moment of wavering yesterday.  As I drove my son home, I thought of how badly I wanted to be at that game.  How badly I wanted to see us win – surely we would!  How badly I wanted to see my son dribble and pass and play in the championship.  I looked over at my son and told him how awesome he was.  I even sang him a little Alecia Key’s, “This Nellie’s on fiiirre!”  

“Man, it stinks that the game in on Sunday,” I said, whacking the steering wheel. 

            “That’s why I played so hard,” he said.  “Because I knew it was probably my last game.”

            I wondered if it was unfair of me to make this decision for him.  After all, I hadn’t even asked if he wanted to play.  And he hadn’t asked either.  He hadn’t begged or cried or said one word about it.  And the game didn’t actually overlap with church.  He could play in the game and we could watch him as a family.  Then, as a family we could drive to church together.

            “What do you think, buddy?” I asked.  “Do you want to play?”  What would I do if he said yes? I wondered.  I think I would have to take him.  Perhaps it could be just this one time and we wouldn’t do it again because it really wasn’t what felt right to us.  But as I looked at him, I knew he had to make the decision for himself.

            He shrugged.  “Well, it just wouldn’t work,” he said.  “It’s Sunday.”  True that.  Thank you, son, I thought.  For helping me be strong.  For saying no when mama almost wanted you to say yes.  But not really.

Killer, how badly I wanted to go to that game.

As I recounted my son’s buzzer-boy-basket to his dad this morning I was animated and lively.  “I probably care more than Nelson does!” I said, looking at the clock.  It was one hour before game time.  Nelson put his arm around my shoulder and said, “That’s probably true.”

            So we didn’t go.  In-between hair-combing and picking out the church dresses and gathering our Sunday stuff, I checked my phone anxiously as a friend sent texts of the play-by-play nail-biter.  They lost by 8. 

Would I do it any differently?  Nah.  We drank smoothies for breakfast, dressed for church, squabbled in the car, heard two of the best talks I’ve heard this year, and drove home together with less squabbling because we were all feeling the spirit a little better and a little louder.  And then we had dinner, a short family night and played Pounce and ate Thin Mints for dessert.  As a family.  I guess it’s just the way we roll. 

I often wonder, if I died tomorrow and found out everything I ever thought was true, wasn’t, would it have been worth it?  Would I be mad I missed the tournament?  I’ve decided not. 

The Sabbath day has served me well and so I do with that as I will, and keep it the best I know how.  How, I wonder, do you do it differently?

Here’s something I believe with all my heart:  We are all brothers and sisters made in the image of the same God who loves us all.  We are here to learn how to be happy, but we must all find out how to do that for ourselves.  I’ve felt the power of God and his spirit.  It is very real to me.  My adherence to the Gospel of Jesus Christ might set me apart from the world, but it’s also the one thing that unites us all.  I know I am a child of God and I also know that so is everyone else. 

It was on the Sabbath day and at the feet of my mother and father that I truly learned that.  I was also taught to honor God.  In return, God would honor me.  He hasn’t let me down yet.

So tomorrow is Monday.  And then I shall play.

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