Christian living · life lessons

Ordinary Christianity

“Is it bad that I love my job?”

My husband asked this just a few months after getting on at one of the highest paying factories in our area. While the job was extremely physical and the factory wasn’t air conditioned, he took a lot of pride in getting up early each day to provide for his family. He was grateful for the opportunity, especially after many years in a printing factory where he made very little. ($11/hr and yes, it’s a fish and two loaves kind of story.)

“Seriously. Am I wrong because I love my job?”

Just a few years earlier, his childhood pastor told him he would have to choose between secular work and vocational ministry. A missionary friend told him that if he was truly called to the ministry, he wouldn’t have the desire to do anything else. And his pastor at that time made it clear that he couldn’t truly be faithful to the ministry if he was working this job.

I watched him wrestle with this, because he wanted to “go big for God,” but his obligation to support his family and work came first. He was sick over it, because he felt he was failing his calling.

We were in a world where the ministry was everything. Church all day on Sunday, Bible studies through the week, church on Wednesday, soul winning on Thursday. It was everything. But he was in a place where he had to say no sometimes in order to do his secular job well. Sometimes he had to work Sundays. *gasp* Sometimes, much to my dismay, he led the singing in work clothes rather than a dress shirt and tie.

We constantly talked about the future, wondering what “God was going to do.” We were living in a fantasy of expectation that eventually we would come to full realization of God’s true will for us. We just needed to work harder and prove ourselves more.

But we were missing the beauty in front of us. God provided a good paying job, children to raise in nurture and admonition, and a life to live to His glory.

I share this story, because it’s been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve been wondering what Christian service looks like now that I’m not in the IFB. I’ve been terrified to even do anything at all, because I know my temptation to be the “yes girl.” I know my temptation to be what everyone needs me to be so that I can belong and cancel out any noise of insecurity or doubt.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about how we often viewed “the ministry” as what is seen. The preacher in the pulpit, the missionary on the field, the musicians on the worship team, the teachers, the evangelists. I would’ve been at the church every day of the week, because I wanted to be fully sold out for Jesus. Radical. Going big for God.

A lot of the time, we enter this escapist mindset of what God’s supposed “hidden will” might be rather than being faithful in our current reality. We think somehow God has slighted us by not giving us more or perhaps we put ourselves on a treadmill of performance to prove we can handle more.

But what about the ordinary? What about the faithful obedience of Christians as they raise their families? They work their job, love their neighbors, serve their local church, and faithfully pursue Christ through the study of the Word. What about pursuing God through the seemingly unimpressive and mundane? What about being a light in an ever darkening world that needs Christian doctors, nurses, teachers, factory workers, mechanics, etc? What about sharing the gospel wherever you are?

We are given the incredible gift of pastors and teachers who teach us the Word, as well as teaching us how to study ourselves. What a precious gift to the saints this is! However, the purpose of this is not to build kingdoms and cults, but to scatter into our communities, families, and jobs to reach others with the Gospel. The assembling of the saints is commanded and necessary, but so is the great commission of scattering and proclaiming. It is living out whatever purpose God has given us through faithful obedience.

God has me right where He wants me. My story isn’t yours and yours isn’t mine. I’m a wife, mom, and a homeschool teacher. How can I faithfully pursue God’s will here? How can I please God with my life here? After all, that’s what He wants. What He doesn’t want is bitter discontentment that feels like His will isn’t here yet.

I have a lot of regret about spending so many years “waiting on God’s will.” I missed out on moments with my kids, because I knew I’d be happier if I was *just* where He wanted me. I used “His will” as an excuse for discontentment and maybe even laziness in my day to day. I condemned myself over what ways I might be failing and keeping God from using me. I missed out on relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ, because I had myself elevated to a special kind of Christian. (Go on and puke. It’s cool.)

But today, I’ve never felt more free to live out God’s purpose in my life. Rather than agonizing over what might be, I’m just trying to live for His glory right here. I have no idea where that will lead, but His sovereignty reminds me that I don’t have to stress over it.

Resting in God’s grace is good.

Christian living · conservatism · fundamentalism · Legalism · life lessons

Beyond My Tower

This began as a Twitter thread. I figured maybe this would be a good way to enter back into the blogging world. It is certainly a different tone than some of my earlier stuff, but life has a way of doing that to you.

I never would’ve considered myself sheltered, especially considering my parents were pretty open minded. But I realized I know very little about the world and how to connect to people around me, even other Christians.

I grew up in a racist community where the KKK picketed outside my school over Muslim students attending. Racial slurs + rebel flags were the norm. I didn’t realize it, but I was taught to fear people who weren’t white like me in a post 9/11 culture. I was uncomfortable in culturally diverse settings.

Then I got married at 18 to an IFB (independent fundamental baptist) preacher’s son. It hid me away from the insanity of my own family and past decisions. It gave me safety. I learned that in order to have doctrinal and moral purity, I should fear even other believers who weren’t KJVO or as separated as me. I didn’t want to be influenced by the compromising and carnal world. Reaching out to a Southern Baptist was dangerous, let alone a Muslim.

Even in the public school, I was taught a whitewashed, revisionist history. The IFB exacerbated that with their cult history of the church’s origins, conspiracy theories, and obsession with eschatology.

Again, racial slurs against Muslims were common. I sat through an entire Wednesday night service where the visiting preacher made his case for why Obama was really a Muslim and was truly born in Kenya. We had our token black preachers, but also affirmed horrific teachings like the Curse of Cain or the Curse of Ham. We balked at the idea of being racist while making jokes about fried chicken and black church. Peter Ruckman was the father of our KJVO conspiracies (double inspiration) and he was truly one of the most racist preachers of the modern fundamentalist church.

I’ve also been a SAHM (stay at home mom) for almost 11 yrs. I haven’t worked a public job since I was 17. Even joining a co op with non IFB mothers was a no go, because I didn’t want them to influence me. I often heard that women who worked were more likely to cheat on their husbands, because women are the weaker vessel and more easily deceived. I felt uncomfortable even working with other men at church on music or media.

It’s incredible just how small and narrow my worldview has been and, honestly, how socially awkward it has made me. Just the fact that I acknowledge this and desire the truth would’ve meant I was backsliding and being influenced by the world. Watching anything but FOX News meant I was slipping into the leftist regime. Listening to a pastor who didn’t use the King James just meant I desired watered down preaching to tickle my ears.

But hiding away from the world in a commune of sorts is the opposite of what God desires for His people. How am I supposed to reach them if I turn my nose up at them or fear them?! Or believe my nationality makes me superior? How am I supposed to understand the experiences of others? Life isn’t as black and white as I used to think. People’s experiences are quite nuanced. There isn’t always a simple answer to why they feel the way they do or why things have happened to them.

I’m 30 years old and it’s a wild time. I feel like Rapunzel when she first left her tower.

I still desire Biblical truth above all things, but that doesn’t mean I want to be lied to. So many are leaving the faith because they were fed these rosy pictures of American history or the origin of their Bible translation – and when they find that it isn’t true, they hit a faith crisis. The IFB church will just tell you you’re being seduced by Satan. And the unbelieving world will say it’s ALL a scam.

It’s a horrible crisis of faith that many in my generation are limping through.

This is more of a vent than it is a post providing solutions. All I know is that we have to do better with the next generation we are raising up. Because right now, I see too many casualties from this environment that was supposed to protect us. Instead, it has left us socially undeveloped and unprepared for reality. It hinders the work of the great commission that we always heard about each Sunday.

Digging our heels into false information isn’t the answer. Hiding our heads in the sand out of fear will not silence the questions. We need truth. The truth sets us free.

life lessons · Writing

Stepping Back + Other Thoughts

I’ve been blogging since the days of xanga and livejournal. I’ve written in a diary since I was in the second grade. Documenting my life and expressing my thoughts has always been a part of me. Fleshing out my feelings through a journal entry has gotten me through many hard roads. I love going through old journals from my early years in marriage/motherhood and seeing how God worked in my life!

I really wish I still had access to my old blogs from my preteen – high school years, but then again, maybe not! Because blogging was still reserved for a community of only a few people who I had chosen to read my stuff, I was often very candid and detailed in my experiences.

Simply put, some things aren’t worth re living.

Anyway, I say all of that to say this – I see nothing wrong with blogging. Or social media. Or even vlogging. (Although I do think it’s a bit goofy to film and edit our lives for likes and shares. But there’s money in it, I guess.) I appreciate blogs dedicated to giving advice, as they’ve been a huge help to me. Or even ones which document real life in order to show the rest of us we aren’t the only crazy ones. There’s definitely a lot of good out there.

But one day, the idea of documenting my life began to feel ridiculous. Does anyone care what I ate for dinner? Aside from grandparents + aunts and uncles, does anyone really need to see what my kids are doing? Do I really need to share my opinion on everything? Do I need to update you through stories and posts on every detail of my life? And do I need to spend hours of my life reading + watching yours? Why do you need to know that I worked out? Is it even safe?!

I like to blog to share a thought. With much discretion and discernment, I want to write things which would edify and strengthen another in Christ. Or share the frank, humorous reality of being a mom and wife. Beyond that, I’m not interested in opening my life up to the world. I don’t want to live in a false illusion of the highlight reel. Really, I want to have a joyful, abundant life well lived. And then perhaps I’ll write about it, because that’s what I do.

If another person enjoys more than that, cool! But for me, I feel I miss out on the present when I’m thinking of a clever Facebook post or photo. It cheapens the value of the moments I truly live in with my family. Hiding behind a screen removes the need to personally invest time in people and see how they’re doing, because we can just see it on social and let them know we care with a heart.

I don’t know. I guess I just want more than that. I suppose I feel as though I’m missing real life while getting lost in the virtual.

I’m not dogmatic about this. I do not believe social media is a sin or that blogging our lives is wrong. I DO enjoy seeing the positive things about my friends and family as well as staying connected. I like watching funny videos or reading encouraging posts. But couldn’t I just do a little better about making the effort to see how they’re doing in another way?

I don’t know. I’m rambling a lot here. I just think it’s goofy to document every waking moment and then spending time reading everyone else’s rather than just living. Think about how much our conversations with one another would be enriched and how we would personally draw closer if we weren’t so connected on social. (Or if we didn’t depend on it so much to stay connected!)

I also know how vain I can be. I know how I can get a false gratification from likes and hearts. Let’s get real! We can not accurately gauge the success and health of our lives by how we’re perceived through a post!

Anyway, I don’t want to stop blogging. I enjoy this community. But I’m stepping way back. I want to write meaningful things, not just little snippets with trendy catchphrases and hashtags on Instagram. I just want to live life. I want to serve Jesus, my husband, my kids, and the ones I love.

And then I’ll write. Rather than creating experiences to write about or living for content, I’ll create from the outflow of what God is doing in my life.