Life

Sleeping is an Investment

Kevin has always had sleep issues. For as long as I’ve known the man, he has never slept very well. He’s been a walking zombie for the past 23 years.

So over the years, we’ve worked on eliminating external triggers – background noise, no background noise, running fans, installing an air conditioner, covering every last pinpoint of light up with duct tape. (true story).

Kevin has tried alternating his diet – only drinking coffee in the morning, only having a splash of coffee in the afternoon, eating cereal right before bed, not eating right before bed, eating peanut butter sandwiches before bed, drinking a glass of water, (which makes him get up in the middle of the night to pee), not drinking a glass of water, (which makes him wake up with a headache and parched), and I can’t even tell you the combination of herbs and vitamins he first takes, then doesn’t take, to see if that has any impact on his sleep.

It’s become a running joke between us: “I think I’ve figured out why I’m not sleeping!” he’ll say with such hope and enthusiasm it’s almost painful to watch because I know it’ll inevitably fail, (which is does), and he’ll be right back to square one.

I had a few theories, but he wouldn’t listen to me – he wanted to exhaust every other possibility on his own first before he would reach the point where he was ready to accept help.

Finally, FINALLY, after exhausting every avenue, after trying everything short of standing on his head and leaning ever so slightly to the left, the man had had enough and he went to a sleep clinic. He did the whole spending the night thing, and when the results came back, I couldn’t help but preen a little.

I had been right. I guessed he had sleep apnea and he does. I would listen to him breathe at night and there were times he would simply stop breathing. Sometimes for so long that I would raise up on one elbow to watch him and be ready to spring into action if he didn’t resume breathing. (Though I have no idea what I would have done – I don’t have any medical training to speak of and aside from dealing with premature apnea with Dude and gently shaking him back to earth, I wouldn’t know what else to do).

Finding out that he had sleep apnea was a turning point. He now wears a mask at night and whenever he stops breathing, the machine will inject massive pockets of air into his lungs which makes up for the lack of oxygen his body needs whenever he stops breathing on his own. It’s also wiped out his snoring problem.

Whenever we went on vacation or went camping, and had to all share the same sleeping space with each other, I had to make sure to bring earplugs with me because the boys and I couldn’t sleep over his snoring. The volume was bad enough, but what really drove us crazy was the consistency, or lack of consistency, I should say. Sometimes he would snore softly, sometimes loudly. Sometimes he would abruptly snort. And it ALWAYS happened whenever we were on the verge of falling asleep so that when he let a snore loose, it was loud enough and startling enough to make us jerk back awake.

It was a nightmare. Seriously.

But now that he wears that mask at night, he doesn’t snore anymore. It eliminated that problem.

Unfortunately, it didn’t eliminate his sleeping problems.

He still wakes up at 3:00, on the dot, to either go to the bathroom, to grab something to drink, sometimes to eat something because he’s RAVENOUS, or he’s simply wide awake. And instead of getting up to go read, he will stubbornly lay in bed and stare at the ceiling for an hour, or two before he falls back into a fitful doze until morning light.

It’s always worse when he is stressing over something. I tell him he doesn’t know how to shut his brain off. Sometimes he will wake up in the middle of the night and a solution to a problem, that had been eluding him for days, will suddenly pop into his head. So I KNOW that on some level, he’s constantly thinking about stuff. We have no idea how to make him shut his brain off. But it’s not for lack of trying all sorts of stuff, I assure you.

Now me, on the other hand, I can fall sleep anywhere for any length of time. I don’t have a problem falling asleep, I don’t have a problem staying asleep, PROVIDED the world stops spinning and nothing happens around me. I’m a very light sleeper – everything wakes me up. A sneeze, a cough, someone shifting position in bed, a barking dog (GRR – our neighbor dogs drive me nuts sometimes), the house shifting, an animal scratching the house (which – CREEPY), a noisy car, loud rain … you name it. If it happens anywhere within ear shot, it wakes me up. So even though I go to sleep fast, I wake up about 50 times a night (which might explain why I’m tired all the time, now that I think about it. Duh).

But still. I have it easier than Kevin. Even though I have my own sleep issues, I still get more sleep than he does. And I always have. So when we broke down about nine years ago and bought a sleep number bed, I gave in. I wasn’t crazy about the idea, but hey, whatever it took to give the man his sleep, I was all for it.

I hated that bed. I never slept well in it. I would routinely wake up with various parts of my body completely numb – namely my pinky. And because Kevin would shift around, it would cause my side of the bed to move so it would wake me up. Finally, I ended up buying an air mattress and slept in the living room – FOR YEARS. Seriously. Kevin and I just slept better apart.

He loved the sleep number bed. In fact, he would let so much air out of his side of the bed it was like he was sleeping on a hammock. I, on the other hand, like it firm. Almost rock hard firm. It’s just better for my back. So the sleep number bed really did suit our individual needs. And sleeping in the living room wasn’t that big of a deal because we all went to bed at the same time (more or less) and it was dark and quiet. No problem.

But about two years ago, something shifted with the bed. It became a lot more uncomfortable and I could hardly stand to sleep on it. Still. I endured it for Kevin’s sake because he was still loving the bed. (I’m such a martyr, aren’t I? HA!) And sleeping out in the living room was becoming an issue because our sons don’t go to bed as early as we do now, so they would be up and though they would be quiet, I was such a light sleeper that I just wouldn’t fall asleep until they did.

Kevin and I have talked about getting a new bed for a few years now, but we never did anything about it. We had heard good things about Temper-pedic and thought if we ever went bed shopping, we’d check one out.

We went and checked one out yesterday.

When the mattress salesman found out how long Kevin and I have been sleeping on a sleep by number (nine years), he actually cringed.

Our old, lumpy sleep by number mattress

I couldn’t say I blamed him. Our bed was so used it was misshapen and lumpy and HELLO, it’s no wonder we weren’t sleeping very well.

We checked out the temper-pedics. We didn’t even look at the pillow tops. I knew those were probably too soft for Kevin and besides, I had heard that after a few years, the pillow top started looking lumpy and misshapen and that was one of the things that drove me the most nuts about our sleep by number – it just looked hideous after it was made. One side was lower than the other side and I hated how it looked. Which doesn’t mean a lot to a lot of people but the small OCD part of me just couldn’t stand it.

(I have no idea if I have OCD, I’m self-diagnosing myself because of some of the things that drive me nuts and that I must correct AT ALL COSTS OR HEADS WILL ROLL).

After figuring out that the medium was the right one for us, we took a look at the price tag … and nearly fainted. We were on a mission to get some sleep but not for that price!

Our pale faces must have alerted the salesman because he then directed our attention to the iComforts by Serta. They were half the price of the Temper-pedic and just as good (with a longer warranty). We tested them out and decided on the medium.

They delivered our mattress yesterday afternoon. (Did I mention we BOUGHT the thing yesterday afternoon? Yeah. This place rocked the customer service).

New iComfort Mattress

It looks hard, but the salesman warned us that it would feel a little more firm than what we wanted for a few weeks until it was worn in. He also suggested we take our shoes off and walk on it a few times as well as that helps loosen it up.

IMG_0953

(hehe – I couldn’t resist posting this one).

The thought of putting our old bedding set on our new mattress sort of grossed me out, so Kevin and I went to JCPenney Home Store and Bed, Bath and Beyond to look for a new set. We found this at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

IMG_0959
(I know it’s wrinkly – I’m too lazy to use the steamer. They’ll work themselves out sooner or later. HA!)

I really like it, but I wish the skirt was a different color – there is too much gray. (Which, you can’t tell by this picture, but trust me – GRAY). I’ll probably try and find a purple-ish skirt to break up that gray.

What was really cool about this bed set though, was that it came with two Euro pillow shams and two decorative pillows. I can’t believe they haven’t been including the decorative pillows before now! It’s so hard to find anything that matches your set and individual pillows are so expensive. Anyway, I was thrilled and I’m ordering two Euro pillows from Wal-mart.com today. I hadn’t even HEARD of Euro pillows before yesterday. But I’m looking forward to putting it all together when they arrive.

How was our first night sleeping on it, you ask? (Thanks for asking!) Pretty good. Though our metal frame is too flimsy and off balance to support it, so every time Kevin or I shifted, it was like trying to sleep on a raft in the middle of the ocean. It woke me up several times and by 4:00 o’clock, I was wide awake. I ended up dozing on the couch until 6:00 a.m. (I don’t think waking up at 4:00 a.m was because of the mattress but because today was the first day of school and I’m always afraid I’ll oversleep and always tend to get up way early).

Kevin called the mattress place and they’re going to sell us a more sturdy frame. We’ll pick it up today and hopefully that will take care of the wobbling problem.

We’re a little concerned about it being too firm, but the guy did warn us about that. He said after a month, if it still feels too firm/soft, to let him know and we could exchange it for the one we wanted. I’m optimistic though, I think once it wears in a bit, it’s going to be really comfortable. It’s comfortable now, just a little too firm.

Let’s hope we invested in a bed that we can actually sleep in this time!

P.S. In case you’re wondering what the difference is between a Temper-pedic and an iComfort (aside from the price, of course) – the iComfort has “cool action“, which is supposed to help keep the foam cooler.

In the News

It’s Time to Make People Accountable for Their Snarky Attitudes – Deny Them Services

I saw this on Twitter the other day and thought it was really interesting – both in principal and in how people responded to it. I was also impressed and encouraged.

I came across a page on facebook that was created (by someone under a ficticious name) thats purpose is to bully, ridicule and say mean and hurtful things about their class mates. While visiting the page, I found several teenage girls that have scheduled sessions with me for their senior pictures. I am emailing them tomorrow to cancel their shoots. I do not want them to represent my business and I am beside myself at how MEAN and CRUEL they were on that page.

Source

This photographer had a few shoots scheduled with some teenage girls. (I’m assuming they were senior pictures, though I suppose the girls could have been in college. Being mean doesn’t have an age limit). Apparently, the photographer ran across a page that her clients had set up for the sole purpose of ridiculing, and bullying (because let’s call it what it is), other people. She was so disturbed by the sheer meanness that she made an executive decision to cancel the sessions with them. Her rationale being, how could she possibly photograph them and make them as beautiful as possible when they were such ugly people on the inside.

I say – BRAVO.

If more people would take a stand whenever other people do stupid things, like be mean to each other on a public forum, or open their mouths before thinking, or do something completely asinine, then perhaps the world would be a nicer place to live.

Just sayin’.

As a small business owner myself, I understand the risk this woman is taking and the risks involved in refusing to provide a service based on our self-imposed moral guidelines. But at some point, and I believe that point is here and now, we need to stand up and say ENOUGH with the bitchy, it’s all about me and puffing up my self-worth attitudes. It’s time to get over ourselves and bring back COURTESY and RESPECT for our fellow human beings.

I’m so tired of people thinking they can act however they want to act and not have to worry about consequences. WRONG. We need to start making sure there are consequences for stupid choices. Whether that’s jail time for stealing, driving school for reckless driving, school suspension for disrupting class, or deliberately posting something cruel on the Internet behind the cover of “anonymity” – there are, or SHOULD BE, consequences for our stupidity. (And just in case you were not aware of it, the ONLY way to stay completely anonymous on the Internet is to never post anything. I can assure you, people are becoming more savvy when it comes to finding faces behind the fake names – so if you don’t want something that you posted online to come back and bite you in the butt later in life – don’t post it).

I realize that people makes mistakes – we’re all human, we have all weak moments. But the more we overlook these moments, the more we try and excuse them away (well, she comes from a broken home, or well, she’s under a lot of stress right now), the more we condition ourselves to just endure it and eventually accept it. And the more we accept or overlook, the worse it gets because being human, we push the envelope, we take it to the next level, we see how much we can get away with before we’re forced to pay the piper.

When do we say enough is enough? We all talk about how we wish things were different, how we wish people would be more considerate and then when an opportunity presents itself and we have a chance to take a stand, we either chicken out for fear of public ridicule or we excuse it away, thereby giving the person who is acting like an ass a free pass.

So yeah. I say kudos to this photographer for taking a stand, as well as a risk, and sticking to her morals. We ALL need to start sticking up for our morals.

Political correctness be damned.

IMG_0949

Abundant Life

Audio Teaching: Truth Matters: Part Four

by Dan Gallagher
How Truth is Revealed
Although it is popular today to believe there are many truths, this is contrary to the very nature of truth. The biblical view of truth begins with the presupposition that God is true, and is the source of truth. The question then is: How does God communicate truth to mankind? In this teaching, Dan Gallagher reviews the four ways that answer this question: words, reason (wisdom), experience, and tradition. Through the years, many people have recognized these ways, but have not kept them in proper balance, placing too much emphasis on one area while neglecting the others. By revealing truth through multiple means, God has designed a wonderful system of checks and balances. Understanding how truth is revealed will increase our ability to know, hold, and practice the truth in a healthy way..

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Life

Keeping Him Busy Until Something Happens

Springfield is a college town – in case you didn’t know that.

We have:

Missouri State
Drury University
Evangel University
Baptist Bible College
Central Bible College
Ozarks Technical College
Vatterott College
Cox School of Nursing

And I’m sure I’ve missed a few more technical colleges.

All of these colleges are crammed into our “little” city. (We’re actually the third largest city in Missouri, but you rarely hear that fact because we’re ignored a lot of the time. Which … is actually okay with me because the media is lame to begin with).

So when Fall rolls around, the college students start POURING in. Which is fine – it’s great for our economy, not so great for our traffic flow. But whatever. We quickly adapt.

Now that Dude has graduated from high school …

*Side Note: Now that Dude is 18, I really don’t have a problem calling him by his real name on this blog. I want to, but I don’t think it’s wise given this blog comes up pretty easily in Google (not because it’s popular but because I’ve been blogging for nearly seven years now) and I don’t want a potential employer googling Dude’s name and this blog comes up. It’s not that I have anything to hide, per se, but it might just be too weird to watch baby videos of a potential candidate … in case you were wondering why I still refer to my oldest son as “Dude.”

… and has applied for 17 jobs (at last count – and yes, we’re keeping track of where he has been applying as well as the dates he applied through an Excel sheet), but hasn’t actually landed a job yet, he has some time on his hands. Time that he WILL NOT waste away by playing video games all day long.

Since his long-term goal is computers, Kevin suggested (as in STRONGLY suggested, as in you don’t really have a choice until you get a job suggested) that Dude come up to the office every weekday afternoon and work toward his A+ certification. (Computer places won’t hire you to work on computers unless you have this certification). He’s also dabbling in Java and PHP, too. (Those are computer programs, in case you don’t speak geek. HA!)

We really expected him to complain about this “arrangement,” but so far, Kevin and I think he’s actually relieved to have something TO DO while he bides his time on the job front. I mean, playing games is fun and all, but doing it every day, all day long, has GOT to get old after a while.

Learning Java

I think he likes the independence, too. He comes and goes as he pleases (as long as he gets to the office around 1-ish and stays until 4:30 – 5-ish) and he drives his own car. We wanted to give him a taste of what it’s like to leave the house and report somewhere. I want to eventually make him get to the office earlier – there’s really no excuse NOT to. We wake him up at 8:00 (because if we didn’t, he’d sleep until noon every day and if he wants to do that on his days off after his gets a job, fine. But until he gets a job, he’s not sleeping all day and staying up all night – not gonna happen on my watch, missy), and before he gets on his computer, he’s expected to eat breakfast, drink his coffee (that he makes himself because Kevin and I drink our coffee at the office), and take a shower. Reality comes first.

Period.

So he’s up and ready to go by 10:00 at the latest. He could pack a lunch and come up to the office at that time – it’s just a matter of making him do it.

He can also put this office/computer experience on his resume, too. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing.

Today was the first day of college for a lot of students. I’ve gotten some surprised (and somewhat disapproving looks) from a few people when they find out that Dude is not attending college this Fall. Though we want Dude to go to college at some point (because regardless of what people say, having a college degree IS something to fall back on and to give you an edge when you’re competing for jobs), we also want him to WANT to go and to take it seriously when he goes. We’re also recommending to him that he pay for his classes as he goes, as opposed to getting loans, so he’s not graduating with a bunch of debt.

If/when he takes college courses, he’ll likely take his required courses through OTC – mainly because their classes are cheaper and they have a deal worked out with Missouri State so that their credits easily transfer over. By the time Dude goes to MSU (assuming he transfers to MSU when the time comes), he’ll be able to jump right into his specialized classes.

I will likely take him to the OTC campus in the next month or so to get him enrolled to take a course in the Spring. It really all depends on what is going on with the job situation. Well, even when he gets a job, we still expect him to take classes, eventually. It’s important that Dude think about his future career. Not only because it’s our desire to see him financially set for life (and not having to live from paycheck to paycheck), but because he’s a man, which means at some point he will want to get married and have a family (God willing) and he’ll need to be in a position to take care of his family.

Kevin and I have talked, at length, about our firstborn. We don’t want to choose his future for him, but we don’t want him sitting around the house and wasting his life away, either. The longer he sits around and doesn’t do anything, the more difficult it will be for him to get started. Not to mention, it looks odd to potential employers if he has this big void of doing nothing on his resume.

(“So Dude. You’ve been out of school for two years and you haven’t worked anywhere or taken any college courses? What have you been doing this whole time?”)

We have just accepted the fact that Dude is one of those people who need a push. He’s simply not motivated enough to kick start himself into gear. And to be fair to the boy, he really doesn’t know where to start. Being 18 and a recent high school graduate is a bitter/sweet experience. On the one hand, he has the whole world at his feet. On the other hand, he has the whole world at his feet — where in the world does he start?!

Exactly.

So. As his parents, we’re pushing him in one direction and if he chooses to go a different direction, that’s his choice, but you can’t jump start a car if you don’t have any cables, right?

In addition to trying to give him a direction in his professional life, we’re also teaching him household chores and how to cook.

Learning to Cook

He’ll need to know these skills when he moves out.

Whenever THAT happens.

I’ll be honest, I love my son dearly and wish the best for him. I will work hard to help him in any way that I can, but I’m looking forward to the day that he has taken a step toward his future, i.e. gets a job and starts taking college courses, and I can relax and just let him live his life. I’m ready to relinquish my “mom” duties and move on to “supportive”, “mother-in-law” or even “grandma” roles.

*BIG GRIN*

Abundant Life

Teaching: Let’s Get Together

Every Sunday I provide videos and valuable links to the Truth or Tradition teachings. We’ve been following the Truth or Tradition teachings for many years now and they have truly blessed our family. We have found peace and happiness through our beliefs and we walk confidently for God. My hope, by passing on this information to you, is that what you find here, or on the Truth or Tradition website, will guide you to a better, more blessed and abundant life.

If you would like to read my views on religion and how we got started with the ministry, you can read this.

Let’s get started:

I really look forward to getting together with people I love. I come from a large family with five sisters and two brothers, not to mention the countless aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and now the many, many in-laws. Gallagher family gatherings have become legendary as times of great joy and celebration. It is very easy for me to take God’s admonition to His children to heart when He tells us we should be meeting together.

Hebrews 10:25a
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing…

Unfortunately God’s nemesis, His archenemy the Devil, is always trying to cause separation. In fact, division is one of the greatest tactics the Devil uses in his fight against God and His people. Sadly, the testimony of history is that he has been pretty effective in its use, which causes me to think that we must be tenacious in our efforts to be connected to each other.

One of the ways our Enemy pulls God’s people apart is by getting them to shift their focus from the things of Yahweh to the things of the world. Throughout time men and women have been ablaze with the fire of revival, only to have their flames slowly wane because they get distracted by the pressures and pleasures of this world. God gives us numerous examples throughout the Old Testament of men and women who have been defeated because they turned their faces from God to seek idols. In Ecclesiastes 1:9, God says that “there is nothing new under the sun,” and this is certainly the case when it comes to people separating and falling away from the path of righteousness. It should be no surprise then, since the Adversary is so energetic in his efforts to cause separation, that this is the polar opposite of what God wants us to do. God empathically tells us “not to give up meeting together” (Heb. 10:25).

When reading this exhortation in Hebrews the thought struck me, “What a sad testimony that these first-century saints not only were not meeting, but that their not meeting had actually become their habit.” For a period of about ten years I became disillusioned with fellowshipping with other Christians. I had been disappointed in some Christian leaders, generally as a result of my own false expectations about them, and I allowed it to dampen my desire to be connected with others. I slowly pulled away from my Christian relationships, and as I did I became less passionate about the things of God. Then, one day I woke up after taking a hard look in the mirror and realized there was little difference between my actions and the ways of the world. I had become spiritually dull, insensitive to the ways of God, my hard heart was calcified, and I was far removed from the “living epistle” that I had once been. How did this all happen? After looking back on my steps and the path I walked, I realized one significant factor was my lack of Christian fellowship. Like the recipients of Hebrews, I too had gotten in the “habit of not meeting” with fellow Christians.

People often become desensitized to the massive amount of disconnection that is being promoted by the world. It used to be necessary that people interact socially with others in order to get things done. We used to have to talk to people to do our banking and shopping, whereas now all of these things can be done in isolation from others via the Internet. Sadly, one of the main consequences of the Devil’s attack has been the shattering of the family. The Devil is relentless in his promotion of division, so we need to be even more diligent in our efforts to fight for connection with others.

Three Reasons Why We Should Meet

Since the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden, the Adversary has opposed God’s plans for mankind’s redemption. His opposition continues as he attempts to thwart and stop the spread of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. From the first days of Christianity, people met with the purpose of spreading the gospel.

Acts 5:42
Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

It is noteworthy that they “never stopped” proclaiming the message of Jesus being the Christ. This was their principle motivation and passion, and it should be ours too. Every Christian should have a burning desire to share his story with others about what Christ has done for him. Paul, despite being under house arrest, was faithfully promoting the gospel as he met with people in his rented home in Rome. His purpose for doing so is clearly stated in the close of the book of Acts.

Acts 28:30 and 31
(30) For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him.
(31) Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Like Paul, our first-century brothers and sisters were passionate about telling others about the Lord and they met to spread the message of the good news. Some people will be more effective at evangelism than others, but anyone can invite someone to come to a meeting with other Christians. Spreading the good news about Christ is one of the fundamental reasons we should be meeting.

A second reason why we need to meet is to help raise people to spiritual maturity. Once a person has accepted Christ he needs time to grow and mature, learning his ways and practicing his newfound faith. Jesus commanded his disciples to “make disciples” (Matt. 28:19), which involves more than just bringing people to him. Making disciples involves teaching, mentoring, and raising people past the elementary truths of Christ so they can be weaned off the milk of the Word and onto the meat (1 Cor. 3:2, Heb. 5:12 and 13, 1 Pet. 2:2).

The birth of a baby can be a joyous occasion, but the point of birth is not to remain in infancy, but to grow up to be a responsible and independent adult capable of producing one’s own children. We seek new spiritual children but, beyond that, we desire to see God’s children grow up to their full potential, and that takes discipleship. The Christian author, Frank Viola, in his book, Pagan Christianity: The Origins of Our Modern Church Practices, describes two ways that Christian workers were trained in the first-century: living a shared life with a group of Christians, and learning the Lord’s work under the tutelage of an older, seasoned worker. [1]

Having a “shared life” and being under the “tutelage” of an older, seasoned worker are functions that meeting together can fulfill. Meeting together gives us a place to serve others in a variety of ways and to grow in our giftings. All of our gifts and callings are to be used for the benefit of others, which requires that we “be with others.”

A third reason we should meet is because God has designed us for relationship and without it we are incomplete. I believe there is a hole in every man and woman’s heart that yearns for connection with others. It is only through our connection with others that we can be fulfilled because all our gifts and callings become of little value if they cannot benefit others. There is a great sense of personal satisfaction when we see how we benefit others through our acts of service.

We are all very vulnerable when we are alone and isolated. I learned through personal experience that isolation lulled me to sleep and set me up for a great deception. There truly is strength in numbers. When I am with others then they can lift me when I am down, and I can do the same for them. If I am blind in an area of my life then others can help me to see, and if I come under spiritual attack they can help to warn me and also to fight for me. We must keep meeting together if we are to fight together.

Is There a Biblical Model for Meeting Together?

The book of Acts provides great insight into the spread of the gospel and how our first-century brethren operated. Of course, thousands of years have passed since then and there are many cultural differences between our modern times and theirs, but one thing we can be certain of is they met, and they did so wherever they could.

It would have been unthinkable in the first-century for a person to become a convert to Christianity and then not be connected to a local congregation. The local congregation was more than just a circle of religious friends. For thousands of years obtaining the simple necessities of life, such as getting water to your home, obtaining oil for your lamp, and even having food for the day, involved a full community cooperation. There was little separation between a person’s family life, social life, and his religious life.

For many first-century Jews, one of the unfortunate consequences of accepting Christ was that it meant they were barred from their local synagogues. This did not just have religious ramifications. In many ways it had a serious impact on their very ability to provide for their life’s needs, because there was an intertwining of every area of their life. Today, if I am not happy with a church or pastor, I can often leave and go join a new church. This is different than what most Christians through the ages have experienced. In years past, once someone was cut off from the synagogue or church they had to find others and band together. They needed to work cooperatively to provide for their daily needs as well as for their mutual protection.

Likewise, since the synagogue was no longer available for the first-century saints, they met in the places that were readily available to them. This is why the New Testament epistles often speak of them meeting in their homes.

Romans 16:3-5
(3) Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus.
(4) They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.
(5) Greet also the church that meets at their house.

1 Corinthians 16:19
The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house.

Philemon 1:1 and 2
(1) Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker,
(2) to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier and to the church that meets in your home:

Colossians 4:15
Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.

Christianity was a spiritual movement that, unlike the majority of the world religions, did not begin with any sacred buildings or objects. This was a grassroots spiritual movement where people met wherever they could with a focus primarily on one thing, spreading the good news of Jesus being the Christ. With this as their goal, they met on the roadsides (Acts 8:26), at public gateways into the temple area (Acts 3:1), in the temple courtyards (Acts 3:11 and 5:12), in the home of a Roman centurion (Acts 10 and 11), on the side of a river (Acts 16), and in rented buildings (Acts 19:9). The point God seems to be making is that it does not matter how we meet, but rather that we meet.

What Caused Christian Meetings to Move Out of the Home?

Many people today equate involvement in Christianity with “going to church,” the large religious building on the corner where followers of Christ meet every Sunday morning. What happened to cause Christianity to disconnect from its grassroots simplicity? A large part of the answer is that soon after the emperor Constantine converted to Christianity a very profound series of events was set in motion. Around 324 A.D., Constantine ordered the construction of church buildings throughout the Roman Empire. The churches he built followed the general construction plans of pagan temples, which had raised platforms, altars, high vaulted ceilings, etc. In many cases, pagan temples were even merely stripped of their pagan gods and then converted for Christian worship. In addition to the construction of churches, Constantine also established the clergy class, separating the priests from the people. He also merged the civil and ecclesiastical governance into one body, and made many other changes that had a great cultural impact on the way Christians worshipped and conducted themselves. One of the most significant impacts was the loss of the “simple church,” because it was replaced by these new buildings we now call “churches.”

Small or Large Meetings: Where Should We Go from Here?

As I stated previously, I do not believe God cares where we meet, but rather that we do meet. We are free to utilize a broad range of meeting styles rather than being restrained by any one model. There are advantages and disadvantages to every meeting style, so what we do should employ the best meeting format for our needs and purposes.

Most Christians now recognize the great value in the meeting format that can be conducted in the home. This type of meeting is frequently referred to as the Simple Church because it is relatively easy to do since it does not require a special building or elaborate preparation. The simple meeting also allows for greater participation and mutual service by the members. On the other hand, any home church is limited in its resources and abilities merely because of its small size.

On the other end of the spectrum is the larger congregation that generally meets in the traditional church building. Some have referred to this as the “Legacy Church” model, and it too can be very effective. By its nature, the large numbers of people with differing gifts means there are a great number of ways for people to serve and to be served. I love the feeling of praising God in the large congregational settings where my voice becomes one of a thousand others. The large congregation also enables people to pool their resources and provide for such things as parochial schooling, evangelistic outreach programs, homeless shelters, etc. Yet despite those advantages, the larger setting also has some drawbacks. Organizationally they tend to put a lot of focus on a few individuals who do most of the work while the rest of the members become spectators. The “spectator mentality” that can creep into Christianity can cause people to think they have done their Christian service by just showing up once a week for church and giving their financial offering.

Christianity is not a spectator event. We are all members in particular with individual gifts and callings, all of which need to be in action and service to others (Eph. 3:6, 4:25 and 5:30; Col. 3:15). There are over thirty places in the New Testament where the phrase “one another” is used. We are called to love one another (Rom. 13:8), to encourage one another (Heb. 3:13 and 10:25), and to be devoted to one another (Rom. 10:12). It is impossible to follow any of these commands of God if we are not with one another. Again the point is not how we meet, or where we meet, or even when we should meet, but that we do meet.

Get Connected

As we have seen, there is great value in both small meetings and large ones. Actually, we all need both, and the optimum situation for any meeting is to make the meeting style fit the goals that we are trying to accomplish, as determined by the needs of the people. We need each other, and God needs us to fulfill our calling as His ambassadors, so let’s not let the Adversary succeed at isolating us. Rather, let’s be diligent to get together with other Christians.

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about God’s wonderful message, please visit the Truth or Tradition website. You can also keep track of the ministry through their Facebook page, their YouTube Channel, or follow them on Twitter.

Thanks for reading.

(Comments have been turned off. The information is here to inform and bless you. God granted you the gift of free will – take it or leave it).

More from Write From Karen

Saturday Stuff

Shove Off

If I die young, it’s your fault,” Molly grunted as she tested the bungee contraption around her ankles.

Olivia’s laugh echoed off the surrounding rocks. “You were born old and you just keep getting older and older with each passing year. You can afford to scare a few years off your life.” She gave her friend a playful shove; Molly flapped her arms to recover her balance. She gasped. Her vision tunneled as she stared down at the creek below her.

“What the hell, Olivia!” Molly’s heart abruptly stilled, then slammed back into rhythm.

“Alright girls, that’s enough.” The instructor bent to make sure Molly’s equipment was safely secure. “Let’s do this. Ready?”

“No,” Molly groaned.

“Yes!” Olivia yelled.

“On the count of three,” the instructor said. “One … two …”

“I slept with your boyfriend,” Olivia whispered into her ear and shoved her off the platform.

Molly’s shrill screams startled the wildlife below.

.

.

.

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Write up to 150 words, fact or fiction….

This is a themed writing meme hosted by Jenny Matlock. The goal is to write something that does not exceed 150 words (not including said prompt). The prompt is in italics above.

Life-condensed

My Newest Time Suck Confession


(Not my photo. What. Are you kidding me?? I WISH. Click on photo for credit).

Random confession – Being able to instantly stream NetFlix movies / TV series at home any time I want and for as long as I want is seriously killing me.

Okay, not killing me, but it’s killing my time management. (Who are we kidding – I never had time management skills. But for the sake of this random thought, we’ll all say I did). At least with DVD’s, I was able to control how much TV watching I did. I watch a movie – movie is over – time to go do something else.

But with instant streaming – THE TV WATCHING NEVER ENDS, YA’LL!

I have seriously watched more TV in these past few weeks than I have in the past few YEARS. I’m even turning my computer off at 6:00 p.m. … SIX IN THE EVENING, YA’LL, so that I can curl up on our comfy couch and watch episode after episode of “Drop Dead Diva,” the ENTIRE SERIES of “Cashmere Mafia,” (which, there was only one season, and then there was only like seven or eight episodes in that one season, BUT STILL), “Lie to Me,” “Damages,” and now I’m putting all of “Grey’s Anatomy” (I’m like on season 5, I think) and “Army Wives,” (which I’m TOTALLY addicted to) in our instant queue as well.

I haven’t been online. (Which is a plus). I haven’t been reading. (Which is not a plus). I’ve been zoning out in front of the TV.

At least I haven’t picked up the habit of munching on junk food as I watch TV.

Yet.

The biggest reason I don’t watch regular TV is because of the commercials. Hence the reason I’m woefully behind on all of the shows that people are talking about, or TALKED (past tense) about. Now that the time-sucking, evil commercials have been removed from the equation … I don’t have an excuse NOT to do some major catching up.

So, ONCE AGAIN, I have to discipline myself on yet ANOTHER time suck.

AAARGh, it never ends, does it?!?!

I’m so disgusted with myself – I’ve become a … a … there’s no tactful way of saying it so I’ll just blurt it out … A COUCH POTATO!

AAARGh!

Make me feel better, Internet. What is your latest time suck?

Home Movies

Baby Talk

Because nothing’s cuter than watching someone else’s baby do the cute baby “talk” thing.

Humor me.

The context of this video … we’re in our living room. My parents, grandparents and sister’s family are all there and we’re watching home movies – as in, when I was little.

In other words – YAWN.

So, to keep myself from bashing my brains out and thereby depriving my son of an awesome mommy, I started video taping Dude. My mom is just over my shoulder talking to him as well, only she’s in the way and I think my grandpa (?) tells her to move.

HA!

This was taped in July, I think.

And is anyone else wondering if the buckles on the boy’s very cute overalls (you must admit they’re pretty awesome), are pinching his tender skin?

How many MOMS thought that very thing?

Yep, thought so.

Now, how many DADS?

Yep, thought so.

Fundamental difference between moms / dads. THESE are the kinds of things moms think about, guys.

(*Side note: I was at the dentist’s office yesterday and the dental assistant in charge of vacuuming spittle out of my mouth had just dropped her kindergarten-aged son at school. We were talking about the first-day jitters and she said she was thinking about what she was going to pack him for lunch the night before and decided on Lunchables. Only, she wasn’t sure if her son could open a package of Lunchables on his own, so they had a “dry run,” i.e. she had her son open a package.

I had to laugh at that. I did the same thing, only with Sunny D bottles.

My dentist, who’s a man, laughed and said, “I never would have thought of doing that.”

Exactly, dude, exactly. That’s why moms ROCK. 😀 )

Band

And the 2011 Marching Season Officially Begins

I hate to start this post out by being all melodramatic and depressing, but we ONLY have two more years of this, ya’ll!

Jazz is a Junior this year, which means we have this year and next year and that’s IT!

Unless he goes to college and signs up to be in the college band, which … could happen. (With momma’s help. *ahem*)

Every year, the band director hosts a parent preview. This preview marks the “official” start of the marching season.

Band Parent Preview - 8-16-11

The parent preview takes place the evening of the last day of band camp. This preview gives the parents a chance to see what they kids have been working on.

Band Parent Preview - 8-16-11

The weather was perfect – low 80’s and clouds moved off, which meant there was a nice, cool breeze. Everybody was advised to bring lawn chairs. We did not. We stood – for about an hour. We took lawn chairs last year, but hardly anyone else did and we ended up standing up anyway because we couldn’t see past everyone else who was standing.

But this year, we were in the minority, most everyone else brought chairs.

Band Parent Preview - 8-16-11

The kids play three songs – that’s the duration of the show. So, it goes pretty fast once they get started. They also serve ice cream, which people can buy for one dollar. The band director gives the kids a chance to eat ice cream before they perform. (None of us ate ice cream because we were planning on going to Andy’s after the performance – it’s a tradition we’ve started).

Band Parent Preview - 8-16-11

The show finally began. Jazz started out the show the very last person on the far left – by the end of the show, he’s the very last person on the far right. So, the boy is required to MOVE during the performances. In fact, he said that he has to move so far, but keep pace with the rest of the band, that he ends up taking really big steps to compensate.

Band Parent Preview - 8-16-11

There is a point, in the second song, that Jazz and three other saxophone players meet at the front of the field and have a solo quartet number. It’s fun and fast paced and the kids played really well together. Jazz had to try out for this part, so he really wanted it and I’m proud to say, he’s really good at it.

Band Parent Preview - 8-16-11

I believe the show is called “Life’s Directions” and it’s geared to evoke different emotions in audience members – each person will relate to the songs / experience in different ways.

The weather was so nice this past week, that the kids KICKED BUTT on practice. They actually marched two out of the three songs. (Last year, they only marched the first song). And speaking of the music – it’s pretty cool. There are a few numbers that we recognize and I think it’s going to have a really fun feel to it after it’s been tweaked and finalized.

It’s always so fun for me to watch these previews and then compare that performance to later performances when they’re all in costume and have added in moves and steps. It absolutely amazes me that these kids learn these songs, and the steps, in such a short amount of time. Granted, they started learning the music at the end of last school year and they met a few times during the summer before band camp, but they played all three songs without sheet music – which is really saying a lot about the incoming freshmen and how fast they learned.

Kids are like sponges at this stage in their lives.

I was also really shocked, and I mean TRULY shocked, to see how much taller Jazz was when compared to his classmates. He’s always been the shrimpo in his class and this year – well, he’s NOT. I’m betting his new-found growth spurt attracts some girls’ attention this year. *ahem*

At any rate, here we go. The band has competitions scheduled for every Saturday in October, (except for the 22nd, which means they’re not participating in the Greater St. Louis competition this year, which … WTH?), and I plan on making every single one of those performances. Like I said, we only have two more years of this and I want to enjoy every single minute of it.

And of course, I’ll be bringing ya’ll along for the ride.

You’re excited, I can tell. 😉

ADDED:

http://twitter.com/#!/writefromkaren/status/104287180628819968

http://twitter.com/#!/writefromkaren/status/104292052703002624

CLEARLY, I need supervision.

I know it seems extravagant, but I’m going to call this sweatshirt my “souvenir” from Jazz’s marching band days. (Hush. I have to justify it somehow.)

Abundant Life

Audio Teaching: Truth Matters: Parts Two / Three

by Dan Gallagher
The Characteristics of Truth
One’s search for a diamond would be fruitless if he didn’t know its characteristics. In the same way, the clearer we are about the characteristics of truth, the more certain we will be able to determine when it is present and when it is not. In this teaching, Dan Gallagher explores the six basic characteristics of truth: absolute, correspondent, coherent, universal, exclusive, and objective. Developing our understanding of these qualities increases our ability to understand and recognize truth, which in turn helps us gain a clearer understanding about God, His Word, His Son, and life itself, and also helps us communicate truth to those around us. This teaching is a must for all serious truth seekers.

Click the arrow to listen.

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