Monthly Archives: June 2007

The hubby

I don’t really know how I made it through high school. I had some serious self-identity issues as a teenager (who doesn’t?) and my coping mechanism was to live in Sumi-land, or a dream world of my own making. I had one friend at school and when she was absent (which was often) I would hide away in the rest rooms so that the other kids wouldn’t see me wandering around by myself.

Living in Sumi-land included developing my own ‘style’ (for lack of a better word, because it wasn’t really stylish.¬†ūüôā ). I made my own clothes using funky reject fabrics and bought artsy hippie style dresses at flea markets. I made my own jewelry and often went to church barefoot, with hoop earrings and the remnants of a torn hippie dress tied around my hair.

Much to my surprise, during the final months of my final year, I happened to discover a group of friends who were also ‘different’. I started dating one of the guys in the group and suddenly went from being friendless to being part of a close-knit group of friends. Those were interesting days, I look back at them fondly…we were united in our love for jazz music, the Beatles, Neil Young, Cat Stevens, and others. We often went to the theatre together. We had some great philosophical discussions. And, since this was the brainy group in school, their help in studying for the finals brought my math grade up quite a few levels!

Soooo…I thought I had found my niche in life. I was a ‘deep thinker’, and maybe a bit of a ‘mystic’ too. (Yes, it pains me to think that¬†I¬†used that word to describe myself once or twice! lol ) I hung around with wanna-be poets, musicians, philosphers, world-changers…

Roll on about 4 years. I am still very much the airy-fairy person with her head up in the clouds, waiting for her (very artsy) prince charming to sweep her off her feet.  

My¬†best friend knew all about my impossible ideals and so when hubby called her fiance Mark (who happened to be hubby’s best friend) to get my phone number the conversation went something like this:

Mark: (on the phone with Richard, but yelling to Heather) “Heath, what’s Sumi’s phone number?”

Heather: (Clearly audible to hubby on his side of the phone) “Who wants to know?”

Mark: “It’s Richard.”

Heather: “Why does he want her number?”

Mark: “To ask her on a date.”

Heather: (to hubby’s dismay and our amusement later on) “Tell him he is wasting his time. He is not her type. ”

ūüôā

We still laugh about that one.

So, he got my number from Mark and Heather and the four of us went out to dinner. I felt a little bit attracted to him that night but then again, I was hungry for male attention and was attracted to many guys. The clincher came a few days (or was it weeks?) later when hubby accompanied me to a home group I belonged to at the time. He started sharing about the love story between Jesus and his bride and that was it. I saw the man’s heart, and I was completely hooked.

In some ways, Heather was right. I loved his heart, but it took me a while to get rid of all my childish, pre-conceived notions. I gave him a terribly hard time in the beginning. But he patiently stuck it out with me, and as time went on I realised, he was so perfect for me.

My hubby has his feet flat on the ground. He is a deep thinker too, but also the least pretentious person I have ever met. I do not know of anyone with a humbler heart. He is consistent and steadfast and has plenty of integrity. (It¬†used to¬†irritate me when he wouldn’t tell me confidential stuff that other people told him.) I shudder to think what would have happened to me had I met my ‘ideal man’. Hubby has helped my feet to get back down to earth, where they belong.

Sunday will be our 18th wedding aniversary. Knowing us (and our wallet), we probably will not do much to celebrate, but this post is for you, my sweet hubby. I love you.

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June 29 2007

Happy anniversary to my mom and dad! How many years is it now?

Well, this post should be really boring to most of you. You really don’t have to read it. ūüôā I just want to take stock and write down some things for my own reference.

I have decided to delete the links that I have in my favorites to some of the EC (emerging church) blogs that I have been reading. I have enough of a grip on the EC movement now to get a good feel for what they are about. It is not edifying for me to keep checking in to see ‘what’s new’ there, as much as I want to be informed so I can have an answer to my EC friends. I think I’m informed enough. ¬†Hubby had some succinct comments to make about the movement that I might share at a later date but for now I’ll let it rest.

I do think it was a good thing for me to read up on. It made me so aware that the church is in desperate need for solid bible teaching and for people who are able to minister in the power of the Spirit. My heart is burdened for those whom I know that are floundering because of the way the traditional church has failed them. Yet the answer is not in pulling away from the church and from solid doctrine, the way is to draw closer to Jesus and really search the scriptures to find the answers they need!  

The whole thing has made me see my need for a stronger foundation in the word. The time for hubby and I to be sent out might be shorter than I have thought, yet I don’t feel like we are even close to being ready. Oh Lord, I am so lacking!

I have also purposed to set aside time daily to worship on my guitar here at home. This is the summer break, after all, and if I do not make time for things now, I never will. If we are ever to lead worship it is something I need to be more faithful to enter into here at home.

I¬†want to also¬†be¬†conscious to spend more time just hangin’ with the chilluns and invest into their lives. I tend to get so caught up in other things that my kids don’t get enough of me. When I do make the time to simply be with them I can¬†see them inflate, they kind of puff up on the inside (in a good way) and¬†it is evident¬†how¬†something so little affirms them so much. ¬†

Jenna has been¬†a mommy-leech though and she manages to lay claim to huge portions of my time while the others get left out. It’s time to remedy that.

I am also reminding myself that this is a great time to do all those little things I never get to do while school is in session. Last year I lamented squandering much of the time I had over the summer, because once school started up again time was a luxury!

I have closets to re-arrange, clutter to take care of,¬†and the boys’ toys need a big sort-through. I need to start working on the ceramic bowl I promised pastor’s wife a while ago. I need to plan out curriculum and strategies for the new school year. I’m working on building a website for our homeschool group (though I am the world’s biggest eeeeeegnoramous in that area, lol). Our budget needs some work, and I have been putting that one off. Ugh…

Time to get off this computer and get busy…

When he is nearest and dearest

I was chatting with a friend the other day and we somehow ended up talking about¬†how Jesus is always with us in the toughest times in our lives. It made me think of the phrase ‘the fellowship of his sufferings’… in Philipians 3:10. Isn’t it incredible how he becomes so precious to us in our darkest times? Looking back, I must say that some of the most treasured memories¬†in my walk¬†with Jesus¬†come from the times¬†when I was down and out and¬†at the lowest points of my life.

I remember once being deeply betrayed by someone, and having no choice but to¬†just bow to the situation and say nothing, trusting God to vindicate me… I remember the sweet presence of my Lord so close and dear to me as I had to continue dealing with this person in forgiveness, as though nothing had happened.

So much fruit came out of that period in my life and yet, the most precious thing is that memory…of the fellowship that I had with Jesus in my own suffering. He reminds me time and time again what a faithful friend he is, and how much he cares for me.

Isn’t He just the sweetest, kindest, and most¬†precious friend?

You say ‘ee’ther and I say ‘igh’ther…

There’s this one little word that brings a little smile on my face every time my pastor mentions it.¬†We¬†have been studying the fall of Saul and at one point he tells David: “I played the fool and erred exceedingly.”

My pastor pronounces erred as in ‘aired’. As a South African I always thought it was pronounced like you would pronounce the name of the city Abraham came from (Ur).

So I looked it up on my online Mirriam-websters dictionary. The word can actually be pronounced both ways.

I suppose my pastors’ pronunciation strikes me as funny because it is unfamiliar to me, and because of the connotation I have with the word ‘air’.

To me it sounds as if Saul had¬†an exceedingly bad case of flatulence. ūüėÄ

About pants

I have two pants stories. I just thought I’d share them with you.

Sooooo…I was gardening yesterday. Which is something I never do. At least, here in the States. Gardening was easy in SA where dear old Elson dug the holes pulled up the weeds and did the dirty work and¬†I did all the fun stuff.

I am trying to pull out the asparagus fern in our front yard to put the lovely plants from the neighbor there instead (before they die from root exposure :-D). So, armed with a pair of the boys’ snow gloves (um…I don’t have garden gloves) I tackled that fern. I didn’t last long before I wished that Elson was here. The asparagus fern’s thorns pricked me right through the thick, padded gloves (I pulled¬†a thorn out with tweezers this morning). And then I started feeling a burning, itching sensation on my leg. Soon I felt itchy all over. My wonderful imagination told me I had touched some poison ivy and I could just picture myself breaking out all over and going to church looking like a freak.

So I came inside.

I must have been inside for more than 15 minutes when I thought I felt another thorn pricking me on my derriere. I tried to reach it but it pricked my hand. Then it was in an altogether different spot. Still thinking it was a thorn, I managed to get my hand pricked another time.¬†This is the point where my pants came off…fast!!! It was a wasp. The thing must have stung me about 7 times. With a cry of: “Die, you bastard!”, I sent him to eternity. Well, not quite, the carpet was too soft and so was Jenna’s slipper with which I tried to squish him. I managed to immobilise him and take him outside to be lizard food.

Today I took a box full of books to our¬†local homeschool association’s annual book sale. I was wearing my favorite pair of pants, some well-loved and oft-washed corduroys. You guessed it. I bent to pick up the box and felt and heard the pants rip. I was surrounded by other people, one sweet lady tried to see if the damage was embarassingly obvious. She couldn’t see it, but to be on the safe side I had to walk a bit funny. I was also afraid to bend over at the tables to fill in the consent forms so I stood dead straight, with my arm extended all the way whilst doing it. I think the lady who was receiving¬†my books thought I was a bit batty.

I am thankful that it wasn’t a huge, top-to-bottom, underwear-exposing rip, but I am sad about the demise of my corduroys. They will be sadly missed.

I’m perplexed

I spent much of the day today in front of this stinkin’ computer screen. (As if there isn’t a life out there calling out to me.) Somehow I got drawn into reading the blogs of various people who are connected to what they call the ’emerging church’.¬† If you are not clued up on this movement, you can find a definition at wikipedia.

Most of the blogs seem to be written by sincere people who are truly seeking an alternative to a church that has lost, for the most part, its relevancy and ability to affect radical change in a dying world. They are trying to find a fresh way to bring Jesus to a new generation.

I can find some points in which I agree with this movement yet I am quite hedgy about it.¬†Much of it seems more soulish and cerebral than spiritual. It seems to try very hard to be¬† culturally relevant, and yes, I think its very ‘newness’ and rejection of established norms invite intellectual types. While I believe that God uses us as whole people and that we need to use all our faculties in our approach to Him, I try to steer away from anything that is too cerebral or ‘soulish’, and places too little emphasis on the Spirit.¬†

Another thing that I am wary about is the very loose way in which this group defines its doctrine. There is almost an ‘anything goes’ atmosphere there. I get the impression in some of the blogs I’ve read¬†that the social impact of the gospel is very pre-eminent, whereas I believe that an intimate and passionate relationship with Jesus should be our first priority. Everything else eventually finds it’s perfect place when we take the time to first sit at Jesus’ feet and really know Him.

Jesus told Martha who was busy ‘serving’ that Mary had chosen the good thing, which was to sit at his feet and learn of him. The social impact of the gospel should be the outflow of a life rooted and grounded in Jesus! Building a relationship with Jesus comes first!

 Sometimes I think all that is really needed in the church today is a simple move of the Holy Spirit that trancends cultural and generational boundaries. I can attest to this: once you have experienced the love and presence of God in a tangible way, nothing else comes close. Neither programs and trendy ways to present the gospel, nor being in a closely-knit community of believers where there is lots of open-ended discussions and dialogue (as wonderful as that sounds), nothing can compare to having an intimate relationship with God.

I see a lot of self-analysis in the movement. It seems to me that the leaders of this movement is trying so hard to figure out where to go that they are in danger of losing sight of Jesus himself!

It is as if the very institutionalised things they are seeking to walk away from are being re-defined and they are simply in the process of building a new, very hip and modern institution. I was reminded of Solomon who said: “There is nothing new under the sun.”

The origin of the institutionalised church, or what my pastor calls Babylon, goes back to where the people said : Come, let us build… let us make a name for ourselves… (emphasis on let us and not let God.) To my untrained eye it seems like the EC is also saying: come, let us build… and in doing so they are in danger of becoming just another form of the very thing they are trying to avoid. Something man-made and born of the flesh will never fly in the kingdom of God.

In all honesty, I couldn’t get a good grip on what this movement really believes. Maybe it is comprised of several smaller pockets of believers who all have moved away from traditional church as we know it, but in different ways. I might agree with them on some points but not on others.

In reading all of this today I struggled to define what makes our church different. We are not traditional in many respects, yet we hold the bible and searching the scriptures in the highest regard (the impression that I get is that the EC as a rule does not). We believe that sound doctrine is a thing that must be  endured. Our pastor sometimes quotes the person who said: All word, and you dry up. All Spirit, and you blow up. Combine the two, and you grow up. You need to have both a strong foundation in the scripture and the gifts of the Holy Spirit operating in the church.

What really happened today is that I got my mind in a spin trying to figure the EC out. I expect that it cannot be done (since it is so broadly defined) and that today was for the most part a waste of time. I should have spent the time on doing bible study instead. As in…building up that strong foundation that I’ve been talking about instead of trying to figure out where other people are coming from.

Discussion on the church as family

This post is a reply that I posted on another forum on the structure of the traditional church.¬†We were talking about whether church should have a more open discussion format as opposed to having one person stand in front and give a sermon.¬†Someone mentioned that the church¬†should be more like a family where all the members are valued and where their individual strengths are celebrated. Some people expressed the struggles they had with potentially hurtful comments coming from the pulpit that they couldn’t address because open discussion is not something we see in churches today.

¬†I still want to talk more about the principle of fathers and sons from a scriptural point of view! I keep threatening to do that. One day soon I’ll go ahead and bore you with it. hehehehe

I think that even in families you see some kind of structure and authority. Surely the kids don’t always enjoy hearing what the father has to say. Nor is open ended discussions the order of the day all the time. ¬†Being family doesn’t necessarily imply equality in decision making. I can tell you that my pastor is a very type-A person who has stepped on my very-type-B toes many times!

What makes a group a family is that there  is  a loving relationship and unconditional commitment between the parties.

¬†The father’s role in a family is to be a giver in the ultimate sense, like our Father God, who loved the world so much that he gave… His desire will be to pour out his life in order to reproduce mature children in God, who have an intimate, passionate relationship with Jesus. And you can’t reproduce something you do not have!

Sadly, I think there are not enough true ‘fathers’ in the kingdom. Too many people are either not dead enough to themselves to have the kind of servant heart that fatherhood requires, or they are caught up in insecurities which cause them to lean on the arm of the flesh in their ministry instead of on the Spirit of God. Even sadder, some leaders simply haven’t given themselves to the scriptures and to the pursuit of Jesus enough to really have anything to give.

As for children in a family…they will go through all the stages of childhood that we see in the natural…it gets hard when people hit the ‘teenager/young adult’ stage in the things of God. They have a measure of revelation and are able to perform in the ministry yet they lack some of the basic fruit of the spirit, like patience or meekness and self-control! They are often champing at the bit to be out there and doing their thing when God is saying: “Not yet, wait a little, there are a couple more things you need to know.”

The ability to remain committed and submitted to leadership during this phase of our spiritual growth is a valuable one that will only produce much fruit in our lives. Sometimes we have to bite our tongues, despite the negative stuff that God allows to come our way through fallible leaders, knowing that He allows these little offenses to come so that he can see what is in our hearts.

The clencher is that all of this needs to be done in love. You can’t have a self-seeking pastor who is busy preserving his own mini-kingdom. You can’t have ambitious, hungry-for-the-ministry youngsters who are a law unto themselves. What everyone really needs is to be passionately in love with Jesus and the rest will follow.