Reformed Grits

Testing, testing… Is this thing on?
August 21, 2009, 3:20 am
Filed under: Faith, Family, Our Call, Uncategorized

Ok, well tonight I’m sitting in my bed with a bowl of cookie dough that I made for the express purpose of eating.  Not for making cookies, I mean, but just eating.

I have not blogged in MONTHS.  NO one looks here anymore or reads here anymore and that’s ok… because it’s still here and I can come visit it when I like and all my memories are here.

I recently came across a childhood friend (Hi Amy!!) who asked me about our call to ministry and I referred her here which is much better than trying to tell it again.  And you know what?  When I came to look for it, I read it.  And I wanted to cry.  Do you know why?  Because one year from now we could be any where.  On the planet.  I’m totally serious.  My beloved will, God willing, graduate in May and I seriously have told him to brace himself because I’m throwing a GIANT party.  Totally not kidding.

So then what?  We will do what a wise woman once said:  Do the next thing.  And for us, that means working towards ordination which he hopes will be accomplished by the end of the summer.   He *can* start at a church while he’s working toward ordination, which means that anytime after May’s graduation he could get a job in a pastoral position at a church.  Anywhere.  And no kidding, we have been ready since day one of our call to “go.”  If you will recall we are committed to be “preparing to go; but willing to stay.”  Funny, but we really are preparing so much to go, I’m not sure at all that we are willing to stay.   It kills me to think of my kids not graduating from this precious, wonderful school we have totally invested our guts in from before the first day it opened.   Of asking what will be my 10th grader to leave the only school he’s ever known and go who knows where?  But it occurred to me today… I am going to have to let go of the notion that the possibility of that change for all of them (I will have 5 in school and Bee will be in 4k!  Hard to believe!) will be tragic.  If God has a plan for us, He has a plan for ALL of us as a family.  One of the best things that ever happened to me was when the school I had gone to for 7 years closed down.  I was “forced” out of my comfort zone and I would not change it for the world.

Other things going on in Gritsville… The only child in the WHOLE family doing an activity is JD who will be doing drama again this year.  Wow.  It’s good, only because I have hit the wall and that hurts.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

What else?  Oh!  I’m having more migraines than ever and started having unexplained anxiety and panic attacks in April!  That’s been fun.  I’m so drugged up now that I cry every day and actually hug people.  I hugged at LEAST 2 people today.   Wait, 3 for sure.  It’s weird.

I’m trying the Exodus 14:14 method of parenting one of my children.  I will not be asking them about homework or assignments or checking behind them.  I will not even be watching their grades online.  AT ALL.  If they fail, they will repeat the grade but they are capable of achieving.  But I’m at the point where I don’t want them to be “doing school” reactionary to what mom’s gonna do; I want them to look forward to not failing and repeating a grade.   Everytime I fret and fritter over how they will do, it’s a call to prayer.  Only God can change a heart.  This I know.  It’s actually a bit liberating.  Maybe that will be one thing I can cross off my “I haven’t cried about this today” list.  That list is already full.

Ok, so there it is.  The update since, what, January?  Pathetic.  I’ve missed writing; so I will write when I can.  I need to telll stories.  I need to vent.  I need to wordsmith a bit.  It’s an outlet.  If you read, I appreciate you and hope you enjoy.  I love comments because I’m pretty self-centered and like to be petted that way; but God is rearranging me bigtime.  I’m seeing HIM and His “bigness” everywhere.  I’m done pushing; I’m done striving.

By the way, Exodus 14:14 says, “The LORD will fight for you, and you will be silent.”  Don’t you love a hero?  He’s my hero.   He’s going to save the day, and all will be well.  And He loves me.  What more could a girl want?


“Slow and steady wins the race” or “How did we get here?” part 6
May 9, 2008, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Our Call

Drolling along here, I hope to wrap this up soon as I’d hate to drive you all away and make enemies.  If you are wondering why, it starts here. I’m not really sure how this all fits in to the story, but bear with me and I do a little “stream of consciousness” writing tonight.
This weekend I’ll be leaving early for Jojo’s state cup.  If you are one of the ones who can actually see the updates on Twitter in the sidebar, the I’ll post updates!

There must be some mistake.  I mean, I’m sure God doesn’t make mistakes– maybe it was us.  Or just me.  What have I done?  What have WE done?  I’m no Ruth Bell Graham.  It was a harsh reality that came crashing down when the reality of what was to come fell on me.  I was going to be she-who-was-under-a-microscope.  The lady in a glass house.  Me and my perfectionist tendencies.

Cue screeching halt record music.

Hold on.  Have you been to my house?  Do you remember pictures like these? Not what you’d expect from a perfectionist, huh?  I guess what I really mean is that I am a pride junkie.  When it comes to what people think of me, what I do, who I am, I tend to think that I should be uncriticizable.  Unable to make mistakes.  She who amazes and impresses.  I’ve always been this way.  A long time ago, an a place far, far away, I wrote:

I realized tonight that is what I am. (A pride junkie)  Katie emailed me frustrated bc of
the way people have been telling her she can’t do this or that and
people treat her like “a kid.” … She isnt saying people are giving and revoking permission
“can and can’t” but that she is unable or incapable.

I can so relate!
I started hearing the things she heard at her age but mine were a little different:
“You dont think you can afford to go away to college, do you?”
“You are too young to get married.”
“You wont graduate from college since you got married so young.”
“You cant afford to buy a house right out of college.”
“You shouldnt have kids yet!  You are so young!”
“You should wait to have more kids.”
“You have enough kids!”
ETC, Ad Nauseum….
I need a shirt that says, “A sure way to know what I’ll do next is to tell me what I ‘can’t’ do!”
Why the heck do you suppose that is?
in response to Katie I realized it is because I am a pride junkie. Some
of my favorite things are to see people’s faces when I tell them:
-how many kids I have
-how big my babies were
-how young I was when I graduated from college… with honors… in 3 1/2 years
I’ve been up to, whether it’s walking on kitchen countertops painting
my kitchen as I’m 6 months pregnant or cooking all the food for a shower
or it’s running to a million soccer games or revamping the school’s

I love to shock people with what “I” can do! This
is very upsetting to me. The first thought I have is, well I must
change that! God must get all the glory for what happens in my life!
But in all honesty, I like the attention and I dont want it to change!
do I say to that, but to confess it and say, “Lord, I know it’s wrong.
Make me sorry and repentant.” I cant honestly say that Im repentant
now, but I do recognize my foolish pride and I pray that the Lord
changes my heart without having to publicly and painfully force me to
be sorry.
It’s something for sure “I” cant do.

So you see, pride was the root of it all.  I realized that then, and increasingly in the time since then.  In the years since those panicked “first days” of stepping forward, I’ve stubbed my pride more times than  I care to count.  I’ve made mistakes.  I’ve embarrassed myself by sinning in the whole wide open. Oh to publically and painfully.  My faults have been laid bare.  I really, REALLY hate to admit when I’ve done wrong.  Messed up.  Sinned. The things that I like to “shine forth” to impress?  They are a diversion… a diversion so you won’t see my flaws.

It’s been a really painful time, but much more profitable for our future real-life ministry than possibly even those times of great growth.  Our pastor shared the story of how trees used for the masts of ships were found solitarily on hilltops.  They grew plenty tall, and the swaying of the constant wind on both sides with no “wind breaks” made the tree evenly strong enough to withstand the power of the ocean gusts.  In a lot of ways I can relate to that story, not that I’m strong or tall or powerful, but just knowing that the winds that blow now will strengthen me for the tasks ahead help me, if I remember to keep perspective.

And now, we are just 16 classes away from graduation… what’s next?  Who knows…

“Slow and steady wins the race” or “How did we get here?” part 5
May 6, 2008, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Our Call

Mr. Grits got home with Poo from soccer practice and decided to watch some documentary on meth, which grosses me out and bores me to tears.  The top 2 kids have fever and went to bed early, so I grabbed the laptop and thought I’d try to pound out a little more of the story, which starts here. 

I hung up the phone and sat with a stunned smile on my face for quite a while.  It was the rush of doing something different.  Of making that move.  Of going forward.  It was a real rush.  I was so excited that we were finally responding.  My honey was in seminary.  We were going into the ministry. 

I know what you are thinking… that how on earth would I be thrilled that he just up and decided to start seminary without telling me he was going to do it?  Well, we had talked about it many times, that we thought that’s what he should do.  After a while, we were convinced it was the right thing to do.  That’s where the disobedience came in.  We hesitated to do it. 

But at last we were underway.  Almost like a long anticipated journey, and you’ve just gotten in the car or on the airplane.   We were almost giddy.  Almost immediately we began to feel the Lord’s blessing on what we were doing– I don’t know that I’ve ever shared this with anyone, but his schooling has even been paid for and all he has to do is get his books.  We were finally feeling the joy that comes from obedience. 

Shortly after he started school, I remember all of a sudden one day flipping out– I was going to be a pastor’s wife one day?  Um, does anyone know me?  Surely you know that I’m no Sallie/ Barbara Barker or whoever.  I’m the most impulsive, emotionally-charged, immature person I know.  And I’m an open book.  I never know when to keep my mouth shut.  There’s no way that I will be the person I need to be to fill these shoes!  I’m going to make some mad, for sure.  I’ll be insensitive.  Everyone knows I’m not a compassionate person.  I got panicked.   I was so thankful that Mr. Grits had settled in to a good steady routine of doing most of his reading and studying on his lunch break and while he waited for Jojo at soccer practice.  Meanwhile, I was flying apart!  And one day, we’d have to leave our wonderful little church and all our friends… it was just too much…

To be continued…

“Slow and steady wins the race” or “How did we get here?” part 4 (because I know no more French)
May 5, 2008, 11:22 am
Filed under: Our Call

You are all gluttons for punishment at this point if you are back for more SSWTR/HDWGH.  Since you all are a bunch of suckahs and since Mr. Grits is involved in movie and I don’t wanna go to bed yet, I suppose this will put me to sleep.  The whole sad affair begins here. 

I looked at my beloved with a look of helpless abandon, of fear, of excitement, and of… peace.  How can you feel all those things at once?  I don’t know, but it must be God; especially if your spouse is feeling them all at the same time. 

That night we talked a lot about what was going on.  We weren’t sure, but we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that we had both just been called into ministry– to prepare to go, but to be willing to stay.  So we did the next thing that any person would do if they had received a definitive call– we sat on it. 

We did nothing for a long time.  Like, a year or two.  We mentioned it a few times to our pastor at church who talked to us briefly about it.  But he didn’t try to push us down a path.  We talked to some of our closest friends about what was going on, for their prayer support and counsel.  What was this call?  What were we to do?  We didn’t know.  We prayed a lot.  We continued to study and be in the Word and walk the path put in front of us, but we did nothing. 

I’ve heard our pastor say there is no hesitation in obedience.  But in many ways, I don’t think we truly knew yet WHAT we were to do.  Were we supposed to be missionaries?   If so, shouldn’t we have a burden for a specific place?  And if I was to be a missionary wife, shouldn’t I start growing out my hair?   I told one of our pastors, a former missionary to Africa, that my big fear about being a missionary wasn’t dying or having my children taken– although I’m sure I would have been scared of those things if I thought they were in danger– my biggest fear, was being poor.  We had just bought a house– and my security was tied up in that.   I didn’t want to have to live like a vagrant because of my own insecurity.    Shouldn’t I have known that the God who saved me, who made me, and who cares for me knows these things?   Yet we did nothing. 

And we were miserable.  The inaction was now disobedience, because we knew we were to be "preparing to go, but willing to stay."  Time marched on, and the call never went away.

Until one January night in 2002, Mr. Grits called me just before he left work and said, "I won’t be coming home tonight.  I’m starting seminary.  Tonight." 

To be continued…

“Slow and steady wins the race” or “How did we get here?” part tres
May 4, 2008, 3:58 pm
Filed under: Our Call

In an unselfish quest to satisfy your questionable curiosity, here’s the next installment of SSWTR/HDWGH.  As if that’s an abbreviation. It all starts here. 

After the service was over, we were much more relaxed and eager to meet more people in the church.  There was a big variety of families in such a small church… and we were beginning to see a number of other young couples.  One such couple came up right after the service and introduced themselves as "Caroline and Stephen."  I was amazed that she and I were about the same age.  (Of course you must know she’s older than me.  By OVER a year.)  I was barely 21 at the time and virtually none of my friends were married so to find another young married couple was just– thrilling!  We stayed and talked until most everyone had left.  And it was funny because we just fell in naturally, like, "So where are we going for lunch?"  The four of us had lunch that day… and have been close friends since. 

You know, it’s funny how it’s important to have friends in a church.  You just really can’t be invested in what’s going on in a church if there are no relationships there.  And as time went on, we built plenty.  We went to young couple’s Bible studies.  Granted, Mr. Grits and I and Caroline were by far the youngest  but we were all in the same "phase" of life as the other young couples so it fit.  And a funny thing happened.  All of us young couples started getting pregnant with our first babies.  I think there were probably 8-10 couples by this point.  It was a small community and it was great.  We were being challenged at church by the teaching, out of church by the sharp fellowship, and we grew. 

And our church grew.  And our family grew.  And our faith and understanding of the Scriptures grew.  We joined that church that challenged us to "be as the Berean Christian" and "search the Scriptures."  And we did.  And we began to understand things like covenant theology and "predestination."  The men met together to sharpen each other, on their own time, not even for "scheduled" studies.  Our families met together and worshiped together.  It was an unparalleled time in our lives.   We were there every time the doors opened, drinking deeply of the teaching and the faith and the fellowship.

One of those times was a missions conference when an enthusiastic, charismatic (not theologically speaking) man named Dale Cutlip spoke.  Mr. Grits and I settled in to enjoy hearing what missionaries around the world were doing, but to be honest, this wasn’t our thing.  Missions, I mean.  We just were there, because at this point we were always there. 

We were immediately taken in by his rapid-fire delivery of what the ministry he was with, Globeworks International was doing.  He began to talk about "preparing to go; but being willing to stay."  I still can’t explain what happened that night.  Over and over he said, that ALL Christians should be "preparing to go; but willing to stay" but that most were preparing to stay and not even that willing to go.  He and I both remember that phrase about that night. 

Mr. Grits and I picked up our children from the nursery– I think we had 3 by that point.  We were both very quiet until we had buckled the kids into their carseats and before we ourselves got in the car, we looked at each other, and we both knew.  It was just like that. 

"Oh, no,"  I said.   He just smiled. 

To be continued….

“Slow and steady wins the race” or “How did we get here?” part deux
May 3, 2008, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Our Call

So, I’m trying to tell the story of how my beloved and I were dragged kicking and screaming called to full-time ministry.  Without falling asleep each time.  This portion explains how we got "stuck" in a presbyterian church.  It’s important.  Trust me.  For the first installment, go here

We pulled in to the parking lot of that Presbyterian church and took a deep breath.  "Here we go!" one of us said, not sure if it was he or me.  If only we had known that our lives would forever be changed.

We went inside the small church on the hill and were warmly greeted as if we were the first new faces that had ever graced the door.  (We weren’t.)  Our friends met us immediately and began to introduce us around as "the young couple I told you about."  We had been expected.  There were probably 50 people there at the most if I recall correctly.  That would make about 1/5 of the population of that Sunday meeting the family we were invited by, as they were a family of 11.  (Granted, one was grown and married– my former roommate– so 10 were there.) 

The service was about to begin, so we began looking for our "back row Baptist" seats.  To be sure, they were empty.  No one sat on the back row here.  Our friends sat on The Front Row.  "Oh, you’ve filled up the pew.  We’ll just sit behind you."  (Whew, that was close.)  With a critical eye, ready to judge why this church was The Wrong One, we held our bulletins and began scouring it for flaws, mostly looking at the order of worship for the morning.  Hm.  Nothing weird there.   We sang familiar hymns and nothing was– wrong.  We began to relax and actually enjoy the service. 

As the young-but-gray-headed pastor began to speak, we both listened intently, occasionally jabbing each other discretely, the squeezing each other’s hands at different intervals.  Not because we were shocked or disgusted by the message.  But because we were floored.  We were amazed.  We were challenged.  Yet there was no point of contention with our firmly-set system of beliefs.  They didn’t try to tell us that you had to be sprinkled.  The sermon wasn’t about predestination.  It was just about… The Bible.  And we actually used it.  For the first time as adults, we sat in a service where we opened our Bibles and flipped constantly to passage after passage in a quick pace to chase the pastor who was preaching The Word.  This was no sentimental, topical sermon meant to challenge us and charge our batteries for the week.  This was a totally different ballgame. 

At the closing prayer, the benediction, Mr. Grits and I squeezed each other’s hands, as if to tell each other, "Welcome Home." 

To be continued…

“Slow and steady wins the race” or “How did we get here?’
May 1, 2008, 3:37 pm
Filed under: Our Call

I’ve been thinking for a while of sharing how we got into this mess called to prepare for full-time ministry, but the more I think about it the more boring it sounds; yet it keeps coming to mind so I’ll begin and you can delete if you like.  I’m actually a little tired of hearing about it myself and just thinking about the whole scenario makes me want to eat something bad for me and take a nap. 

20 years ago (yes, I said 20) when Mr. Grits and I were kids and dating, he often said he’d love to be a youth pastor,  to which I would laugh and say something along the lines of, "You are SO funny!"  But what I really meant was, "I can’t be married to someone in the ministry because they are always poor and smell funny and are so desperately out of style and always have long hair and wear jumpers and tennis shoes and are SO not cool and besides… I’d have to SHARE you and I want you all to myself."  Especially that last part.  Sharing him was not my idea of a good time. 

So we did get married.  Then grew up.  We graduated from college.  He, with a business degree.  I got my worthless sheepskin.  He "re-upped" for about 3 weeks of the MBA program before he decided he was SO over school.  So he took a job "back home" and he’s been with the same company since graduation.  When we got settled in our first little home, before we started having children (contrary to popular belief I was NOT pregnant when we got married at 18 and 20.  But that’s a whole story for another day!) we decided it was time we found our own church– not our parents’ churches that we’d grown up in, but one we could develop our own identity in.  We had grown up in independent, Baptist-type churches but a friend from high school and my former college roommate’s parents lived near where our new home was and asked us to go visit their church. 

Well, that’s all fine and dandy… but THAT church?  It’s Presbyterian.  And we don’t DO Presbyterian, because everyone knows they believe in PREDESTINATION and INFANT BAPTISM.  But to be nice, and to get them off our backs, we’ll go once.   We were a little freaked out driving up the hill to the church.  What are we doing?  Will it be weird?  Will they have weird rituals and stuff that will corrupt us?  Chanting and kneeling and stuff?  We had our "closed door" faces on as we entered.  Don’t worry too much about being friendly with us, folks, we’re just here for today and you’ll never see us again. 

Or so we thought…

(To be continued….!)