Is Not Attending Church a Sin?

Pleasant Hill

I have had the discussion, more than once, about whether or not it is a sin to not attend church.  Often the argument is thrown out that, “I don’t need to attend church to have a relationship with God.  I can read my Bible from my home.”  at which point the opposing side will counter with, “Do not forsake the assembling of ourselves” which is a play off of Hebrews 10:25 which, in its entirety says (this once I’m quoting in KJV so you can see the resemblance between the two quotes), “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

…and thus the argument continues back and forth with no one actually reaching an agreement or decision.  So what, exactly, is the answer?  Well, I’m not sure there is a solid one.  First, there are too many extenuating circumstances to give a blanket answer.  I can, possibly, address a few situations with my opinion and see if that helps.

First, one of my pet peeves is when anyone takes just a portion of the Bible and runs with it.  I think that in order to fully understand what God is trying to tell us then we need to look (at least) at the passage as a whole.  From here out I’ll be  using the Holman Christian Standard Bible.  The passage from Hebrews that is often used to as a defense of mandatory church attendance really should be backed up to, at least, verse 19 and reads like this:

19. Therefore, brothers, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living      way He has opened for us through the curtain (that is, His flesh), 21 and since we have a great high priest over the house        of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience          and our bodies washed in pure water.  23 Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who                promised is faithful.  24 And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, 25 not                staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see        the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:19-25 HCSB

To me, this passage speaks about so much more than just getting your butt to church on a regular basis.  It also talks about the emotional experience of church.  Well, what happens when something has affected that experience?  Then where do you go and what do you do?  What if you truly long to attend church (I’m not talking about just slackers, if you are slacking then turn off the tv and get your tail to church-there, I addressed that) but, rather, have had a spiritual battle that prevents you in one way or another from attending?  What do you do then?

Well, I can tell you what my husband and I did.

Figure it out?  That’s right, you keep trying.  Either, you attend your church-despite the spiritual struggles-or you look for a new one.  And, even when you go week after week after week and you still don’t find the one that you belong in, you go again until you hear God speak.  I won’t lie and say that we were faithful and kept trying like we should, but I wish that we had.  If we had, if we hadn’t given up and spent months at home moping, then we would have found the fellowship and love that we have now sooooo much sooner.  I know how hard it is when you have been wounded spiritually, and I know that sometimes you need time at home to talk to God and pray; personally, I think that it’s ok to take that time.  However, I do believe that God intends for us to be in church regularly to hear His Word, to be ministered to, and to minister to others.  God will heal our wounds, if we’ll let Him.

Love,

2%

A Challenge for a Better America

Munch

I’m loathe to admit this in public, for he is my younger brother after all, but I’m immensely proud of Josh.   I have watched him accomplish things that time and time again people said he would never do.  I stood in the doorway of our parents’ basement and watched him, as a young pre-teen, work on computers.  Now I sit in the back office and work for him at his corporation.  Josh started his business at 11, graduated at 16, has grown his company from a one man show to a threatening corporation that is continually blowing up.  He accomplished all of this while still balancing a personal life that brought a wonderful woman to be my sister and gave me three handsome nephews.

Everything Josh does, he does it with all that he is and with integrity.  Josh is an example of the American dream that if we work and believe hard enough that we can make things happen.  He is passionate about his God, family, and country and will very quickly come to any of those defenses; which is why I was not surprised when he told me last night that he was creating a video challenging Donald Trump to a debate.  Josh sees Trump as a bully, a man who pushes past those with weaker defenses to get what he wants without regard to the consequences or who gets hurt.  Trump is a threat to our country, not an asset, and needs to be put in his place.  I, for one, think Josh can do it.  What we need in this country are people with solutions, not people who parade around shouting that we have problems.  WE KNOW WE HAVE PROBLEMS!  How about coming up with realistic solutions and then working towards their accomplishments?  This is OUR country, I say it’s time we take it back.

Love,

2%

Road Trip!

Grammaw and Pappaw Jones
Grammaw and Pappaw Jones

Next week we’ll take our annual trip to Kentucky for the Jones Family Reunion.  This is an event that we look forward to every year.  It’s a time to reunite with family and loved ones, to pass on our heritage, and to make new memories.  We’ll spend the weekend cooking out, teaching the kids wonderful games like “drop the hankie” and “kick the can”, and laughing over the antics of past reunions (like the time “someone” put a frog in the lightening bug can and Grammaw opened it).

As I eagerly anticipate the coming week, I’m also filled with a bit a dread.  This will be a nine hour drive, each way, with a five year old girl.  I’m scrambling to come up with activities that will keep her entertained and (doubtful) prevent the dreaded, “Are we there yet!?”  I’ve come up with a few things.

1.  We are a member of the DVD plan for Netflix.  I’ve rented a couple of movies that hopefully will buy some time.

2.  I’ve recently discovered the 123 Homeschool 4 Me website.  This amazing lady has TONS of materials and packets for kids of many ages and educational levels.  I’m going to print out a few so that we can do them on the road.

3.  We’ll be headed to the library in the morning to check out a new load of books (some on Independence Day because I can’t pass up a good opportunity to learn something new).  The library also has a nice selection of movies so we may get a couple of extras.  In addition, we like to check out audio books.

4. We always have a fun bag that includes some of HF’s favorite toys and few new ones that I pick up from the Dollar Store.

I’ll keep scouring Pinterest for new ideas, and will add to this post if I find any that I absolutely love.  What have you done that has worked well for you?

Road Trip

Love,

2% Mom

They Listen More Than We Know

Hila Fay being silly and scaring off a bear at the museum.
Hila Fay being silly and scaring off a bear at the museum.

Hila Fay LOVES for me to tell the story of how Chuck proposed to me.  It goes like this:

A long time ago, before Mommy was a mommy, Hila Fay was Hila Fay, and even before Mommy was Daddy’s wife, she was just a girlfriend.  One day your daddy took me hunting.  While we sat out in the cold winter evening, so cold that our breath formed clouds and floated away, I saw a deer coming right towards us!  I hadn’t gone hunting many times yet, so instead of sitting still I got excited and hit your daddy to get his attention.  My movement scared the doe and she ran away.  I was very sad.

Since dark was almost there, and we wouldn’t be able to see any more deer, we decided to pack up our things and go back to our homes.  As we walked out of the deer woods (at this point in the story HF is covering her mouth in delight and trying not to squeal) Daddy looked at me and said, “I have something that will cheer you up.”  I looked at him like he had lost his mind and simply replied, “I seriously doubt it.”  His eyes sparkled in amusement as he asked me, “Will you marry me?”  I was so shocked that the only thing I could think to say was, “That worked.” 

At LEAST every other day HF begs me to repeat the story, always giggling in delight when her daddy says he can cheer me up and then jumping up and down, clapping, and shouting, “YAY” when I reply that it worked.  I knew that she liked the story, but I didn’t realize how much she actually listened to it until last week when I had come down with strep throat.  I was laying in my bed, feeling miserable, when all of the sudden she came into my bedroom and kneeled down on Chuck’s side.  She looked at me and said, “Momma?  I got something that will cheer you up.” “Really, baby?  What?”  “Will you marry me?”  I could barely contain my laughter as I replied, “That worked.”

Her moment oozed with love and the child-like faith that anything can be cured with love laughter and it is a memory that I will treasure forever.  It reminded me, though, to be careful what I say (what stories I tell and what things I laugh at around her) because she is watching and waiting for the moment to mimic those that she loves best.

Love,

2% Mom

Homeschool for Us

HF's WeeSchool Graduation
HF’s WeeSchool Graduation

It’s finally official.  After years of going back and forth, and even starting the process of enrolling HF in kindergarten, we have decided to homeschool her.  It’s weird (to me, anyway) how God speaks to us sometimes.  As I walked into the school building to take HF for her THREE HOUR testing, I was filled with an immediate sense of dread.  Not sadness at her growing up so quickly, that is always present, but dread: like I was doing something wrong.  I wasn’t allowed to stay with her so I went back to the office and watched the time s-l-o-w-l-y go by.  As I drove around to pick her up a certainty filled me and I knew what God was telling me.

He was telling me that He gave her to ME, not to anyway one else.  He told me that I need to trust His reasoning, whether or not I understood the why, and follow Him.  After I accepted this, and talked it over with Chuck, God filled my whole being with peace.  I know it won’t always be easy, but I also know that if I’m following His will I can never go wrong.

GAP

Love,

2% Mom

Why Tears Are Shedding All Over The Place

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Mommas all over (and even a few dads) are sniffling and reaching for kleenex. It’s that season where mailboxes fill with cards and photographs, and vehicles all around town loudly yell “Congratulations!” or “Class of 2015”.

For a small group of kids they are reaching one of their first milestones, Pre-school graduation. These tiny imps are running around with high pitched laughter and careless dreams while hearts are breaking all around them. This morning, as I dropped Hila Fay off for her last day of Wee School, I was reminded of her first. There were as many red eyes and glistening cheeks today as there were that day nine months ago: only this time it was the mommas and not the kiddos.

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Today is a first of many lasts and, honestly, I’m just not ready for it. Time is going by so quickly and I find myself constantly questioning and second guessing the moments I have had with her. I wonder if I was loving enough or if I should have been stronger. Have I given in too many times when I’ve seen that puckering lip or, perhaps, do I need to ease up more? Am I teaching her the right things, investing enough time, and leading by example? Did I pack enough snacks? Am I ruining her teeth by not insisting strongly enough that she stop sucking her thumb?

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I imagine that these are questions that never really go away. I reckon I’ll worry her entire life and continue to tear up at every milestone big and small. I’m not sure that there really is a cure or “sure fire fix” for a momma’s fear, but I know one thing. From the moment that I found out I was pregnant I prayed to God for one thing, consistently. I prayed that God would give my baby a heart for Him.

I thought about my prayer long and hard and came up with one conclusion; if Hila Fay has a heart for God then everything else will come out in the wash. All my other fears and worries will come to naught and she will be the woman that God intends for her to be.

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And with this newfound confidence I dry me eyes. ..

Just joking, I’m still bawling. 

So, here’s to all the parents out there who are spending the next few days weepy while their little one rolls their eyes and say, “*Ugh* Momma, are you crying, again?”  For this moment we are all united in our heartache, doubts, pride,  and tears.  We will, as one, snap picture after picture and flood all forms of social media with them. We will tell anyone who will listen that our baby is graduating. We will fret over their hair and outfits as we prepare them for the big event, and we will commiserate with the other parents about how fast this year flew by and how it only seemed like yesterday when …

We will, also (eventually), be ok. We will continue to do our best and to try and be the parents that our pride and joy deserves. But, most importantly, we will know that our God is in control and loves our babies even more than we do. We can be confident that even when we fail, He will not.

With Love and Tears,
2%

Mother’s Day Legacy

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When Chuck and I were planning our wedding we made a conscious effort to include both of our families. We never understood the concept of the wedding being a day JUST for the bride and groom. In our minds our marriage was uniting not just us, but our families as well. Whether they liked it or not our families would now be linked forever.

In some ways, Mother’s Day is like that. Yes. it’s a day for me to celebrate all the good things that go along with motherhood and to show HF the joy of doing something for others, but it is also a day to celebrate my relationship with my mother and hers before her. It’s a day that links all mothers together and allows us to share our legacies.

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I see HF now and I marvel at the little lady she’s so quickly becoming.  I think back to myself and remember my mother when I was HF’s age. Momma has always had the softest hands and most gentle touch. She never panicked when I hurt myself but rather, I think, watched me to see how I would react. She said something once (and once only) and expected me to obey. She gave me responsibilities and consequences but took plenty of time to take me to the library and park and teach me to pray.

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I look at HF again, so content in her dreams, and wonder if I’m going to do half as good as my mom. I make a conscious effort to invest in mine and HF’s relationship, now, in the hopes that (after she has passed through the dreaded teenage years) she will think of me with the same adoration that I do my mother and her hers’.

We are all linked in a line of genetics and love that each new daughter passes on to their daughter and on and on for many more generations to come. Perhaps, one day in the future, HF will sit, holding her child and think back to her memories of me. This thought is one of the reasons that I try so hard to be active in her life. I work to make every moment count and her life full of tangent moments.

I’ve realized that we don’t have to be doing something BIG to have a lasting moment. It could be as simple as putting together a puzzle or taking silly selfies.

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How do you make your moments last? How will your children carry on your legacy?

Love,
2% Mom

Life on the farm

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Just before Christmas my mother-in-law was in a single car accident. Thankfully she survived, but as a result has some partial paralysis in her arms. Chuck, Hila Fay, and I have temporarily moved in with her until we can get a double-wide moved to the farm.

When you arrive at the farm it is almost as if you’ve stepped back in time. The meals are all homemade and ate together with the family all piled up around the solid wood kitchen table. The only internet access is what we get on our phones and the TV is a mere decoration. When there’s a big job to do it’s “all hands on deck”. Everyone pitches in all the while laughing and joking around.

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Our evenings are spent sitting in the living room sharing personal (most of the time humorous) stories, visiting, and playing games (charades is a favorite). I have found that many of the modern day appliances, knick-knacks, & gadgets that I thought I HAD to have are not even missed. What really surprised me, though, was how well Hila Fay adjusted. Instead of whining for a movie or fussing because she can’t play on abcmouse.com, she plays outside, creates amazing crafts (I’m not biased at all), and performs musical numbers to entertain us.

The whole situating reminds me just how much God loves us. He has taken a heart-wrenching situating and used it to teach me innumerable lessons: like the importance of family, the benefits of slowing life down, and where real happiness comes from.

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Though times are tough right now, and it seems like every time we turn around something else (or someone else) has broken, God reminds me every day that He Is in control. Because of that I know that we can keep trekking along!

Psalms 29:11 HCSB

The Lord gives His people strength; the Lord blesses His people with peace.

Love,
2%

More for Forty and What I’ve Learned

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Today is my birthday.  I’ve come to a point in my life where I’m not nearly as excited about my birthdays as I used to be.  Age creeping up is not always friendly. I’ve decided, though, that this year I’m going to start working towards a goal of being “better” or “more”. This goal includes more than just the usual health aspects. I want to be a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, employee, Christian. ..a better ME. I’ve even created my very own hashtags to track my journey.
#MoreForForty #MoreForForty

I’m going to take the lessons I’ve learned through the years and try not to make the same mistakes. Thirty-seven years have taught me quite a few things.

1. God has a reason, even if we don’t understand it.
2. Be nice to your parents,  someday your kids will make you pay.
3. Nobody defends you quite like a sibling.
4. Your parents understand more than you ever realize.
5. You catch far more flies with honey than vinegar.
6. A good sense of humor is essential.
7. Never say, “When I’m older I’ll NEVER. ..”
8. Your spouse should be your best friend.
9. Be the friend that you would want to have.
10. Tomorrow is a new day.

I’m looking forward to the adventure that the next thirty-seven years will bring. Hopefully they’ll be as blessed as these last ones.

Love,
2%