Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Crystal Clear Answer

I took the children to the new church for Sunday morning services. By myself. I wouldn't choose this, mind you. Don's elementary school opens its doors on Sundays for a small church to meet, while their own building is being constructed. This will have ended up taking a year, if the project is completed in November as expected.

Despite Don being away from us on Sundays from 6:00 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Sunday job has really been a blessing, since he gets paid time-and-a-half. It has saved me from seeking babysitting jobs and tutoring jobs - neither of which are easy to get. Ohio is second or third in the nation in the number of daycare centers, so home babysitting income is hard to come by. We are praying the Lord will replace Don's Sunday income with another side job as soon as this one expires. Kiwanis meets in the school gym on Saturdays from late fall until January, and Don is hoping to claim that overtime as well. The other employees don't seem interested, thus far.

I do feel guilty at times that Don has to work so hard just so I can stay home. However, he isn't Mr. Mom material (Mr. Life-Is-A-Playground is more like it. lol), and I'm simply not equipped to leave my children behind five days a week. It would destroy part of my spirit. Although if something were to happen to my husband, I would go to work and persevere. I'd just rather not think about that possibility.

Anyhow, once I'm in the pew on Sunday mornings, sitting quietly, all is well, except that I miss holding my husband's hand through service. With three children running around, there's little time for quiet hand holding between husband and wife. Church has always been our hand-holding haven.

This is a dress-up church, so getting ready was not as simple as putting on new-looking jeans and a neat collared shirt. That is standard mega-church attire, and I'm all for it. Church, at least for larger families, is much more manageable when it's come-as-you-are. Nevertheless, this morning, out of the closet the ironing board came. Did I ever mention that I abhor ironing? I actually hang all of our daywear directly from the dryer, in an effort to avoid the ironing board. It works great for most garments, although church clothes need a bit more attention.

I got up at seven and service started at eleven. It took until then to make sure that each child, plus myself, had a nice, ironed outfit to wear, had clean ears and nails (remind me to hide the stamp pads next time), combed hair, a full tummy, and clean faces, minus crumbs. As we were about to get in the van, Daniel couldn't resist checking on his blue gill fish. Yep, you guessed it. He soiled his pants, leading to a very stressed out Mommy searching his closet at the last minute, looking for something to replace his ironed dress pants. Note to self: Next time, take each child outside separately, and secure in carseat, before retrieving another child from the house. Then, my Curious-George kids will have not a second to stray.

Next, I have to mention a gross thing related to getting my kids ready for outings. I'm very grateful that they've never had any ear infections. They produce a lot of ear wax, though, which is a royal pain. What's up with that? I clean them every night in the bath, and I have to do a check every day before outings. God forbid if anyone were to see a yucky coat of earwax in my children's ears! I'm obsessive about it. I do apologize to my children the whole while I'm digging in their ears, though. lol

Everyone got to their respective classes on time, miraculously. The boys enjoyed their children's church, and Emily played in the nursery, with only minimal crying, for the first time ever. So all is well with the childcare end of things at this church. I'm very grateful for the kind people involved.

But, I'm sad to say, the pastor's sermon stunk. I mean a real, stomach-churning, rotting-food kind of stench. He criticized other churches from the pulpit, saying that their pastors are driven by the spirit of fear, driving them to do all kinds of ungodly things to bring in people. Saying such a thing was pretty much unacceptable to us, since we know (from a previous, more subtle, but semi-private conversation) that allowing other forms of Christian music is one of the "ungodly" things to which he referred. Our hunch is that the other "ungodly" things he referred to are probably just as benign, like drama skits, maybe? He also manipulatively criticized his own people for not participating readily enough in door-to-door evangelism in the community, and for not attending Wednesday and Sunday night services often enough. Does that give you any idea why his Sunday morning service is attended by a total of 40 people?

We've decided to run, not walk, away from this church. We can't sit under that kind of teaching. It would eventually trickle down to the children's programs, adversely affecting the Biblical message we want our children to internalize. We want them to know there is freedom in Christ; long lists of rules are a thing of the past - the Old Testament past.

Back to the drawing board. My head and heart hurt over this. We still need to switch away from the Akron mega-church, to reduce our monthly gas consumption, and to prevent our unborn baby from sustaining high-frequency hearing damage from the concert-level music. Most of us adults have already damaged our high-frequency hearing, and that's fine. It isn't that having it is absolutely necessary. I just want my children to be able to make that decision for themselves, when they're old enough to attend a concert (hopefully with earplugs on).

Plan B is for me to take the children to a nearby Alliance Church on Sunday mornings. The boys attended Wednesday night AWANA class there, from Sept. through May. We attended a few special events and services there, besides AWANA, and liked all of them. They don't have a Sunday night service, so we didn't previously consider them a possibility. It now looks like we might have to attend there, without Don, although he would still go to special events with us, schedule allowing. We will do a Sunday night church service at home, led by Don, until his Sunday job is complete and he can join us for regular church.

We prayed for a very clear sign about whether or not this church was for us. God answered quickly. And it was crystal clear, let me tell you.

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