Sunday, July 15, 2007


I've been meaning to post all week, but I was never sure exactly what to post about. I've got all these beginnings of posts in my head, but I don't think any of them are particularly well thought out (or maybe even interesting). But, it's early Sunday morning, I have some time to myself before my boys wake up, so I'm going to plow ahead. Just bear with me or feel free to move on now. :-)

Happy Birthday, Mom!
My mom's birthday was on Thursday, and it sounds like she had a wonderful day. I wish I could have been with her to celebrate. Mom lives in Florida, along with a lot of the rest of my family now, so I only get to see her once or twice a year, which kills me if I think about it too much. I miss her tons, and I HATE raising R without her nearby. But we do the best we can to make sure that R knows his Grandma, and Mom and I stay in touch via IM and phone pretty regularly. She's the glue that holds our family together, and she's sweet, funny, silly, smart, beautiful, and extremely interesting. Next year, for her 60th birthday, she wants our whole family to have a vacation together at a beach house somewhere, and she wants to have sort of a ceremonial handing down of her family's history. It's been awhile since our whole family was together in one place, and it wasn't under the best circumstances last time. And, we haven't taken a vacation together since my sisters and I were small. But I'm excited about it. R and his three cousins have fun together, and my sisters and my mom are my best friends. I think it will be hard to all go our separate ways afterwards. (Or, maybe we'll run away screaming after all being together in the same house for a week...):-)

Fun and Sad Friday
On Friday night, we took R to go see a ska band that A and I used to go see together a lot. They were playing outside in a nearby town for a summer concert series. We're friends with a couple of the guys in the band, and one of our best friends used to be in it, too. R had a blast. He and a bunch of little girls were running around, dancing, jumping, hugging each other, etc. R wore himself out and slept all night! (I woke up praying, "Thank you thank you thank you!") So it was a lot of fun, and it was interesting to see how much we all have changed: pretty much everyone in the band now has kids and, instead of being in a smoky bar and dancing until the wee hours, we were on a picnic blanket in the beautiful night air, drinking lemonade and eating subs for dinner.

But it made me sad, too. Before I met A, a few of my friends and I used to go to every ska show in Massachusetts that we could. And, there were a lot of them. We would go out sometimes three or four nights a week. (I actually met A at an after-party for one ska band that I used to see religiously.) We'd get there for the opening band and to stake out our dancing spots at the front of the room near the stage. Then we'd dance for hours. I loved the dancing and the music. If you don't know ska, it's a music form that came out of Jamaica, and it's very happy, peppy music, usually with lots of horns. (It's used a lot in commercials now - ugh.) There's a certain kind of dance that you do (called "skanking") that involves lots of knees and elbows flying around. It's a great form of exercise, especially when you do it for hours at a time. No wonder why I was so skinny in those days!

So, seeing the band just made me miss those times with my friends and the freedom and abandon of my life back then. I "discovered" ska when I was at a pretty low point in my life, and the music and dancing were very therapeutic for me. I don't regret anything about my life now, but part of me misses my old self. I was a little crazier, more fun, less held back by my own worries/fears/hang-ups/etc. So maybe I can find a way to bring some of that back into my life now.

Fun With Friends
On Saturday morning, we went with friends to Castle Island in Boston. It was beautiful there. We walked around the huge fort and let the kids wear themselves out at the playground. The best part was when we heard cannons going off. At first, we just ignored them, but then we decided to see what was going on. So we trekked back around the fort and found that there was a huge ceremony going on for turning the U.S.S. Constitution (a.k.a. "Old Ironsides") around. People dressed as minuteman were shooting off cannons from the edge of the island, the ship was shooting off cannons toward the fort, police and fire ships were circling everywhere, and the fire boat did that thing where it sends huge sprays of water into the air. Later, two smaller ships came out and were shooting off cannons at each other. It was just incredible - beautiful to watch and amazing that we just happened to be there on that day! R was impressed, and it cemented our plans to take R back to my hometown of Plymouth, Mass. to see the Mayflower II and some of the other historic monuments and houses.

In the afternoon, we went to visit some other friends and stayed WAY too late. But we had a great time. They have a beautiful, old house and a huge yard that's enclosed by woods, and people just drop by and hang out for hours. We eat lots of good food, drink nice wine, let the kids run free and go nuts on the trampoline, and we talk and laugh 'til we're all getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. A and I brought along R's bouncy house and our hydrogen rockets to entertain R and the other kids, which worked out well. When dusk came, we were thrilled to show R lightning bugs and bats flying around and to teach him how to make s'mores. We lit sparklers, and I was a bit relieved that R was a little scared of them. It was a beautiful night. I know R is only 3, but I'm hoping he remembers some of these almost magical times when he's older.

Church Dilemma
Edited to add: This part is really whiney and completely illogical, and I'm not proud of it. But wonderful Bob already read it and commented, so I didn't want to delete it - although I was tempted.
I haven't been to church in a few weeks. I'm really torn about it. I went a few weeks ago for the first time to the summer service. Normally, I attend my church's 8 a.m. service - partly because I go by myself and it's less than an hour so I'm not away from R as long, but mostly because it's small and intimate and quiet, and I like that environment. But for the summer, there's only a 9:15 service, which lasts close to two hours (so I'm away from R and A a lot longer - if you haven't noticed, I carry a lot of guilt about not being with R all the time) and is much "busier." Communion is an assembly line (versus where we all gather behind the altar in an intimate circle at the early service) and there's just a lot of distraction from lots more kids, people chatting, etc. Plus, now I know this is awful, but there are a few people at the bigger service that have beautiful voices but sing so loud that I can't hear myself at all. I love singing, and I like to be able to hear myself. These people were singing so loud that I couldn't concentrate - and they weren't even on the same side of the church as me - they were clear across the room. The whole thing just didn't work for me - I couldn't concentrate on the sermon, and it didn't feel worshipful (in the way that I need; I know that everyone worships God in their own way, so I'm not saying that people shouldn't sing loud, but it just made it frustrating for me personally). So I haven't been back. I've actually even thought about trying out some other churches because, while I love my church and the co-pastors give some amazing sermons, it sometimes feels a little too - hmmm, I'm not sure how to say it except for this: like everyone has a stick up their butt. [Edited to add: See? I can't believe I wrote this now, and I'm so sorry. And, I fully recognize that a lot of people would include me in the category of those with a stick up their butt. And they're probably right. The people at my church are very nice and I'm sure a lot of fun, too.] I've been incredibly moved during the services I've attended, and I've heard God's message for me many times, and it has moved me to tears. Or, sometimes I'm just so happy and joyful that I want to sing some good, old-fashioned gospel tunes. But I attend a Lutheran church in New England. There isn't a whole lot of emotion being expressed openly - and not too many lively hymns. Actually, once in awhile, one of the hymns will be an old spiritual or something like Andrae Crouch's "Soon and Very Soon, We Are Going to See the King," but a bunch of prim and proper Yankees just doesn't do 'em justice. :-) Now, admittedly, I am one of those prim and proper Yankees, but I wouldn't mind some clapping or shouting once in awhile. On Easter morning, the vicar could barely get the church to shout along with him, "He is risen indeed!"

I know I sound completely contradictive - I want more emotion and audience participation, but I also want quiet and an awe-filled, worshipful setting. So that's my dilemma. And here's another twist: I hate going by myself, but when I've attended church with other people, I get distracted by worrying about whether they're okay with the service, whether they're uncomfortable, etc. And, forget it when A and R come with me - R can't sit still for five minutes, so I can't follow anything that's going on, and I worry that A is getting offended the whole time.

My original plan when I first started attending my church last fall was to have R start coming with me this fall because he'll be old enough for Sunday School (which is held between services) and for Children's Church (which is held during the sermon - the rest of the time, the kids are in the service with everyone else). But I just don't know now. I do believe that God led me to my church, but maybe now that I got into the habit of going, there's another church home for me elsewhere that fits a little better with my needs. I joke that what I need is a tiny, struggling church where I feel guilty if I don't show up on Sunday because I make up a significant percentage of the congregation (that was what my church growing up was like). I want to be needed, but I also don't have the time to commit to lots of other church activities during the week. I want to participate more, but I don't feel right about taking any more time away from R than I already do because of work.

Anyway, I'll keep praying about it. But that's why I'm sitting here typing at 8:45 a.m. on a Sunday instead of getting gussied up for church.

I have to go wake up the boys now. We're supposed to go visit my dad today, and we should get on the road soon before it gets too hot. My dad's apartment is on the third floor and isn't air conditioned, and it's supposed to be 87 degrees today. We're thinking about stopping at Lowe's on our way down to buy my dad an air conditioner. (He's got one for his bedroom, but we can't all hang out in there for four hours.)

I wish you all a happy Sunday!


Kansas Bob said...

What a transparent post. I love this:

I want more emotion and audience participation, but I also want quiet and an awe-filled, worshipful setting.

My thought to you Kristen is to lead with your heart and not your head. Don't try to figure Him out or try to understand his leading with your head. Don't know if this makes sense to you but my advice is lean into Him with your heart.

Fear lives in our head but faith lives in our heart. Don't let fear immobilize you. Find a church with a Saturday or mid-week service ... explore ... make it an adventure ... and bring your family on that adventure with you - they might surprise you.

Blessings, Bob

Kristen said...

Thank you, Bob. After I posted this yesterday morning, I agonized over it all day. I felt so badly about what I had written about the nice people at my church - ack! And, when I finally had a chance late on Sunday night to edit or clarify what I had written, my Internet connection was down!

What you wrote does make sense to me, and I thank you so much for it. God tends to lead me by whispers and little nudges (not by logic and in-depth analysis), and sometimes I lose sight of that in trying to figure it all out. And, my post definitely shows my fear. It's funny (and frustrating!) how even though God always helps me through these things, I have to be reminded of that again and again.

I have another church in mind to try. They've been handing out free granola bars and gum, along with little cards that say "God loves you," at the subway station where I get on and off, and that piqued my interest. We'll see where God and my heart lead me!

shaun said...

You know our whole relationship with God is full of paradoxes like yours. How can we really know who God is? How can we understand all that God claims to be? How can we be made in His image?
I go through sort of the same thing . The church we have been attending is almost dying every month . We have no pastor & there are few people there who seem to have any real passion for God.
The church I used to attend was very active & very passionately worshipful during services, but seemed to lack real depth from most people there . I miss that church for my personal reasons but I feel the church where we no go is probably better for the family. I was never fulfilled with either . Maybe is has less to do with where we go than we think , maybe it has everything to do with what is happening inside .
God Bless,

shaun said...

oh yeah did I mention that I personally have not been to church in over a month?