Wednesday, March 20

in response to the latest jen hatmaker blog

*this post is written primarily about me. so if you read anything and think, "is she talking about me?", i am not. unless you are me. then i am.*

a few days ago, jen hatmaker posted a blog post about the current state of the Church. she talked about how my generation is disinterested, at best, and quoted the statistic that 80% of my generation that grew up in church have left. they describe themselves as "nones", meaning having no religion, or as de-converts. she talked about reasons why this is happening, and luckily it's not because of Jesus. because, as she said, "As far as I can tell, Jesus is still the easiest sell on earth, because if you don’t love a guy who healed lepers and pulled children onto His lap and silenced the religious elite and ate and drank with sinners, then you just don’t know Him." (source) so the key is more focus on Jesus, more focus on feeding the hungry, hanging out with the sinners, having conversations and listening to other viewpoints, and less about gold stars, good behavior, voting for the right guys, and how many memory verses you know. (which is really too bad, because i'm pretty good at following rules and i know a ton of verses.)

i, like many, read this yesterday. and i, like many, agree with it. i nodded my head as i read, i thought to myself, "yes, this. i agree. i totally see that about (fill-in-the-blank, such as my old church, youth group, summer bible camp, my christian college, etc.). i gave myself a pat on the back for not being one of those "christians" who just care about getting it right, who are there for the gold stars. i thought about how great it was that i have found a community that is so different than the rest of the Church. i thought about how committed i am to social justice and righting the wrongs of society. i nodded in agreement that something needs to change in the Church, because why else would 80% of my church-going generation have abandoned the church?

i read through the hundreds of comments that were left on her facebook page and blog, most of which were thanking her for what she says and agreeing with (most of) what she thinks. i saw this re-posted so many times, some by friends and some by people i don't know at all. 

so here is my question. and it's a question to myself, just as much as to those who have re-posted, to those who have commented about how right she is about this:

now what?

so what if we re-posted it? so what if we nod in agreement? so what if we acknowlege that there is a problem that needs to be fixed? so what if we comment about how this has also been our experience and thank her for her well thought out words? so what?

because all of those things don't actually fix anything. they don't change anything. and i'm saying this to myself, just as much to anyone else. and i'm genuinely asking, after reading this, now what? what do we do?

because here is what i did yesterday after reading it. i did my taxes, looking at how i can get every possible penny back because we are a hard working family and we deserve it. i looked at houses online, because my 1250 square foot house is waaaay to small and i just can't imagine living there for much longer. i organized my laundry room and complained to myself about all of the shit we have piled up in there and how it is going to be so inconvenient to drive all the way to goodwill and give it away. i ate lunch and complained to myself about how i weigh more than i want because i eat more and drink more than i want to, because it's in the fridge, so i might as well. i made a list of all of the cute little organizational things i need at target, because all of our crap is falling off shelves and we don't have enough closet space and if i'm gonna organize it, it will look cute. i patted myself on the back for not going to a church that would un-invite jen hatmaker and imagined how we could be friends, drinking wine, and talking about all of the injustices in the world and how we can solve them. i put away laundry into my closet that is full of clothes i don't wear, or even like, but i keep them anyway because surely someday i might need them. i tripped over my four pairs of shoes that were spread out over the house, and thought about how many more pairs i would like to buy. i sat on the couch and watched trashy tv at the end of my looooong day, because damnit, i deserve the break after all i did.

here's what i didn't do. i didn't cook food for hungry people. i didn't clothe the naked. i didn't take care of the poor. i didn't engage any of the "nones" as to why they left the church and how maybe they could give Jesus a second chance. i didn't house the homeless. i didn't read my kids stories about Jesus and talk about what it means to actually follow him. i didn't volunteer my time with something that makes an eternal difference.

and i haven't in a long time. i pride myself in being a part of a church that is all about social justice. but i don't remember the last time that i participated in serving somwhere together. (now that's not to say that we don't - i just am bad about actually showing up to those sundays. too much work.) i pride myself in living simply. but i am constantly dissatisfied with what i have, always wanting bigger and better, and not just wanting, but pursuing it. i pride myself in the fact that we purposely live in a less-than-desirable neighborhood and how we are there to make a positive change by doing life where we live, but i know two people in the neighborhood and i am desperately trying to find a different school for my kids to go to. i pride myself for being a part of teen mops, but often go begrudgingly and only because i feel like i have to, not with a servants' heart at all. i pride myself with being a "Jesus follower" as opposed to a "Christian", because that's a dirty word to some, and i want to be open to conversations and other views, not one of those stuck-up, narrow-minded conservative christians, but i can't think of the last time that i engaged one of the many Nones or de-converts that i am friends with about who Jesus is about versus what the Church may seem to be about.

but when i read something like jen wrote, which happens every few weeks, i think yes! that's me! that's what i want! that's who i am!

and then i go back to my middle/upper class life filled with first world problems and i ignore those on the edges who are desperately aching for something to change.

and after reading so many articles like the one she just wrote, i am genuinely asking - now what?

because if i really agree with her, and i really think that the Church needs to be more about following in the footsteps of Jesus, then i need to do something about it. something more than nodding my head or thinking how at last i know there is a problem so i must be on the right track. and it has to be with my whole life. because clearly my generation is tired of the separation of church and life, so if i say "yes, i want to see a change", then i have to actually do something. and so do you. so what do we do?

sell all of our possessions and give the money to the poor? ask that Jesus give us today (not tomrorow or next week) our daily bread? not worry about what we will eat or drink tomorrow because tomorrow will take care of itself? literally spend our time feeding the hungry, clothing the sick, visiting those in prison? eat and drink and talk with sinners?

that all sounds like a lot of work. but it's always what Jesus not only said to do, but did. and i think that if this is what the Church focused on, then my generation would come back.

so now what? how do i - sarah, in 2013, with two kids, a husband, and full-time job - do this? how do i foster change? how do i  help to show the wold the Good News that is "finding a safe place to struggle, to doubt, to ask hard when you’re hungry...warm, kind, genuine love extended, no strings attached....clean water, medicine for your sick baby, education,, even before ‘belief’ binds us tight....sustainable work, dignity....Jesus and His backwards, upside-down ways." (source) how do i tangibly, literally do this? how will you?

because nodding my head in agreement isn't going to change a damn thing. reading things that i agree with and challenge me, and re-posting them, isn't going to change a damn thing.

real, honest, raw, hard work - that's what is going to change this generation and bring the de-converts back to Jesus. loving the unloved and showing that the Church is about more than getting it "right" is going to bring in those on the fringe. actively working towards social justice, unconditional love, equality (and not just by 'liking' pages on facebook) is what is going to show my generation who Jesus really is. talking isn't gonna get us there.

so now what?

Thursday, March 14

his sister's keeper

matthias has become quite a little defender of his sister lately. it is so sweet. he absolutely adores her. she is getting better at being nice to him, but he even when she is not, he will follow her every move. and defend her to the death.

for example,

on new years eve, a few friends spent the night, including jason's teammate, josh. in the morning, we made a big breakfast and josh kept stealing hiba's eggs, which led to him being know as "josh, the one who steals eggs", and then later "josh, the one who steals things".
that's josh. the one ripping the other guy's head off.
hiba has not let this go. every time we go anywhere with rugby folks, hiba asks if josh will be there, and then proceeds to explain how she will protect her food or whatever she has so josh won't steal it.
well, apparently, matthias has had enough of this, and on saturday he marched up to josh, put on his meanest face, and declared to josh "you will not eat my sister's eggs! they are hers and you will leave them alone!". and then he walked off.
sunday, we had josh and mandy over for dinner, and before they got there i was giving hiba a hard time about how josh was going to steal her food. to which matthias responded, "no, he won't. i saw him yesterday and i told him that he will not steal hiba's food and he will not take things". he was so proud.

on monday at soccer practice, a little girl had the same kind of ball as hiba. the coach told everyone to sit on their ball to listen to instructions. the little girl sat down on her ball, and matthias immediately went over to her and said, "hey! that's my sister's ball! don't sit on it!". and then he realized he was wrong and sheepishly went and sat by hiba.

and the best one - the other night at dinner, hiba was being a brat. that's putting it nicely. everything we asked her to do, she did the opposite. she talked back. if we asked her to stop something, she did it one more time, while staring us down. she was shaking a chair that is on the verge of falling apart and i asked her to stop. of course she didn't. so i gave her hand a smack. she wailed. but not real tears. and then i thought, maybe she didn't understand, so i asked her if she heard me, she said yes, i asked what i said, she said stop shaking the chair. during this time, the wailing and fake tears stopped and a smirk started to appear. which, shall we say, irritated me. so just as i was about to lecture her and send her to time-out or take her dinner away, matthias whispered across the table, "pssst, hiba! make a sad face!", which prompted hiba to stick her bottom lip out, in addition to her smirk. and i have to say, it worked. it was all i could do to finish my sentence with a straight face, jason was holding in a laugh, and there was definitely no chance of any more real discipline happening. and matthias just looked so proud of himself for coming to her rescue.

Wednesday, March 13

one step closer

well, the rejection letters have started.

good news, it narrows down choices and helps us come up with a concrete plan for hiba for next year.

bad news - well, rejections sucks. and stresses me out.

we had the official referral meeting a few weeks ago to refer hiba from easter seals pre-school to the little rock school district. it was short and sweet, and actually made me feel calmer. the special ed director for the district is great and has a way of calming you and reassuring you. and, when i asked if they were considering a 504 instead of an IEP, the answer was a resounding no, that hiba will need the support of the special ed department that an IEP provides, at least during the transition. so that was reassuring to hear. one less fight. one less decision. one less thing to research.

so the school hunt goes on. we should know by the end of the month if she got into any of the magnet schools. best case scenario, she gets into one of our top two choices and we go with that. middle case scenario, she doesn't get into a magnet school, we tour other schools, apply for a transfer and get accepted. and the worst case scenario isn't really that bad. we did tour our neighborhood school and it wasn't as bad as i thought it would be. there was one teacher that jason and i loved and think would be great for hiba. the lady from the school district spoke highly of the staff at the school and their ability and willingness to work with students who need different accommodations. so, it should be ok. and i keep saying that the worst case scenario is actually that i end up home-schooling her - so then ANY school doesn't look so bad.

so we keep waiting.

in the meantime, hiba is doing pretty well. she finally has a consistent teacher in her class, who is wonderful and does a great job with hiba, so that has continued to help her general level of anxiety go down. we've got a reward system and schedule system at home to use when needed, which has eliminated much yelling and tears, especially on school mornings. we've had several OT sessions to help with sensory issues and figure out ways to address those at home, which have helped my sanity a ton when hiba is literally bouncing off the walls. recently, i've seen bits and pieces of heightened anxiety, difficultly with transitions, and ridged behaviors come back into play - which leads to meltdowns like the old days - but they are still few and much further between. hiba is learning how to handle them and calm herself down, and i'm learning to remember that her brain works differently and it's not a personal attack on me. we're learning. taking a day at a time, and right now, most of those days are good.

Monday, March 11

weekend round-up

it seems like spring has decided to come to little rock, which was perfect timing for this weekend. this weekend was full of coming and going, and the way i look at it, there's not really and end in sight. this is just the reality of life for now.

but, it was a fun weekend, so i'm excited. and the weather was beautiful, which is always a plus.

this saturday, i officially became a soccer mom. well, that's probably not completely true because we don't have a mini-van, i didn't wear a visor, and i didn't take caprisun and orange slices - but the kids did start playing soccer.

so far, they don't have "games", as much as "practice". saturday was the first one, so i'm not sure how the whole season will work, but it was a fun start.
all dressed and ready to go!

matthias' group went first, so he was all decked out and ready to go when we left the house. and once we got there, the excitement faded. matthias is a funny boy. he is super funny and outgoing, but apparently not in a new group. so, the first two stations were spent in tears or on the verge of tears, with a lot of pouting and not a lot of participating.

warm-up went ok...
but, about halfway through, he got into it and enjoyed the end. maybe because the last two stations were a little more competitive and could have involved body-checking kids out of the way. either way, he enjoyed it by the end and has agreed to try again next week.

finally deciding to smile

hiba was up next. and she LOVED it. they basically did the same stations that matthias' group did, so she knew what to expect, and she did a great job waiting for her turn, following directions, and working hard.

soccer pose!

she was pretty awesome

rockin' the obstacle course

a little one-on-one action

team cheer!
starting this week, we are moving matthias to hiba's group, since he is huge, and will hopefully be more participatory with his sister there, and - as much as i loved being there for two hours - one hour is quite enough.

next up - rugby!

the little rock stormers are now 5-0, rocking their way through this season. the weather was perfect and the game was fun, even if the second half was a little boring since they were winning by so much. it's a rough life being a little rock fan.

this one is a ham.

LR wins 44-10!
saturday night, we went to a friends' birthday party, followed by church on sunday morning, lunch with church friends sunday afternoon, a quick run to the grocery store, and then friends over for dinner for lasagna, settlers of catan, and wine. a great way to wrap up a great weekend.