Thursday, March 21, 2013

Home Church

Simply put (and hardly simple to rectify), Bobby and I are not growing spiritually in the meaningful way that we want to be at our home church.

For a variety of reasons, it doesn't feel "right" to be there on Sundays lately. Between Emerson's morning schedule, my uncertainty and discomfort about a nursery environment (especially during flu season), & our desire the way of stimulating and relevant spiritual discussions, going to church has become somewhat of a chore, one that has left us feeling far more discouraged than motivated.

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Hebrews 5:13-14

This isn't a situation we take lightly, or one that we are comfortable with. It's difficult, especially when we consider the incredible fellowship that we enjoy at church, and the connection we experience being among fellow believers each week.

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, 
being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:12

This may be a 'black and white' decision for some.

"If the church isn't helping your spiritual development, go somewhere else."
"Stay where you are for the positive Christian fellowship."

But, this is the church that Bobby and I attended together as we dated.

It's the church we were married in.

This is a church full of friends who celebrated our pregnancy and helped us eagerly anticipate Emerson's arrival.

It's a church made of dear people who love us & love our families & surround us with support and kindness.

I am confident that there are good things happening there, and that there are many people who are growing in their faith by the efforts being done. More than anything, I know that it is certainly a congregation with good people who love the Lord.

So, for us, it is a situation that is very, very 'gray'.

We could likely make a decision more easily if it were just the two of us. It would be a choice that we would have to reconcile with ourselves and the Lord.

But, Emerson changes things. We are increasingly mindful of the job we have as her parents to train her up in the way she should go. Her spiritual development is paramount, and we have an overwhelming responsibility to make choices with her in mind.

Train up a child in the way he should go: 
and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

Since January, we have chosen to worship each Sunday from our living room. (A new "home" church, if you will.) We stream a live service from The Crossing using our Apple TV, and it has been exactly what we've needed. (How fun that the technology that provides us with entertainment is also providing the opportunity for us to worship in such a meaningful way?)

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, 
there am I in the midst of them.
Matthew 18:20

The environment is just right for Emerson. She plays on the couch and makes as much noise as she pleases & her regular morning schedule is uninterrupted. We still worship together; I cuddle her while we sing with the worship team on-screen, and bounce her to sleep during the sermon. More significantly, Bobby and I are being challenged, motivated, and excited by our worship.

It feels "right".

I don't know what our long-term solution will be, and I wonder what "church" will look like for Emerson as she grows. There are lots of questions in the Phillips household these days, and there are no clear answers.

What I am quite sure of, though, is that for Bobby and me to effectively teach Emerson foundational Biblical truths & to effectively and wisely parent her...we need to be growing in our own faith and understanding. What is best for her is for our choice to be based on our own Christian development...which, for now, seems to be found right in our own living room.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Emerson: Eight Months

March 1, 2013

  • You are primarily wearing 6-9 month and 9 month clothes now.
  • You are still waking up nightly around 1:30 or 2:00 a.m. and then again between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m. You are nursing at these times, but going back to sleep easily afterwards. (It's tiring for both of us, I dare say.) You still wake-up consistently around 7:00 a.m. and are ready for some sort of late-morning nap, usually a quick snooze after eating breakfast.
  • Your second top tooth cut through a few weeks ago, and now you have four beautiful pearly whites! 
  • You aren't particularly fond of vegetables these days. Fruit and oatmeal purees are a favorite and you still go through lots of bananas. Your preference more and more is to do it yourself, and whatever is on the spoon usually doesn't stay there long because you grab it before it can get to your mouth.
  • After you tasted peas at dinner, you made a "sour" face which made Daddy laugh. What we thought was just a reaction to a food has become a trademark of yours, and now you scrunch your face all the time (though not at mealtime anymore, I'm happy to report). You wrinkle your nose and squint your eyes at everyone (including the lady behind us in the checkout line at the grocery store) and we all think it is adorable. 
  • Daddy and I got to go on a date this past month...the first time we've left you. You were in good hands with Grandma and Grandpa, but it was still so very difficult to leave you, even just for an hour. You were happy for the most part, but woke up from a nap very scared and unsure of the situation. It was a learning experience...for all of us! 
  • You like to be close to me and when I'm not in eyesight, you make it well-known that you're displeased. We're making progress, though, and you're learning that I always come back. And, you're getting more and more comfortable with letting Daddy hold and take care of you, which makes him very pleased!
  • You express frustration now when a toy (or something you want to be a toy!) is taken away, and you know how to look for it, knowing that it must be somewhere. You have an "I'm mad" cry, and although I know you're momentarily brokenhearted, your expression really is pretty cute.
  • You've added "mmm" sounds to your repertoire and there have been a few occasions when we thought you said "mama", although it doesn't seem intentional...yet.
  • You lean forward from sitting-up, and it often frustrates you when you end up on your stomach after leaning too far. You prefer to reach as far as possible to grab something instead. 
  • You've discovered how to wave, and get a kick out of it when others wave back to you. You consistently initiate a wave "bye-bye" to Daddy in the mornings when we watch him go to work from the garage door, but don't frequently wave to anyone else when they leave. 
  • Your reflection in the mirror has provided great entertainment again...a happy friend for you! 
  • In the mornings while Daddy and Mommy get ready for the day, you are usually content to sit on the bed. You watch us (and watch out for Royal's tail), happy to explore and play with the laundry basket next to you.
  • We get regular comments about how big, bright, and blue your eyes are. Strangers and family mention it frequently; it's been that way since you were born, really. 
  • You continue to be so very content. Along for the ride, happy to be where Mommy and Daddy are, ready for whatever comes next. 

Your daddy said recently that "it's hard to imagine her getting any cooler than she is right now". 
I agree. And yet, you continue to amaze us daily with your new discoveries and developing personality! 
I love learning all about you, truly are one cool little girl.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How Precious

Bobby and I have recently found ourselves noticing Emerson's seemingly sudden transition from a baby to a little girl. Several times in the past week, we've commented to each other how one of her facial expressions has made us pause and notice the little girl she's becoming. After discussing this observation, our next breath inevitably leads us to mention how quickly time is flying by, and how her first birthday is approaching...still four months away, but close enough to make us realize that her first year is quickly coming to an end. It doesn't seem possible.

People say that eighteen years with a child flies by; that if you blink, you'll miss it. How it is that time suddenly shifts gears the moment a baby is born is beyond me...but it is seeming that the adage is true.

I often find myself thinking how much I wish I could just stop time right now. Our parents and grandparents are enjoying good health. We have a daughter of our very own. Our home is full of laughter and joy. The dog keeps life interesting, the house keeps us busy, and our needs are more than provided for. Life is so, so sweet.

But of course, life must keep happening. Time marches on! If it didn't, I wouldn't get to witness Emerson's first word, her first steps...(her siblings)...her graduation or her wedding day...every other beautiful moment of hers in between...and whatever precious thing she does tomorrow.

When I hold Emerson in the stillness of her nursery in the quiet hours of the morning, I know what a gift that moment is. And I wish desperately that I could bottle that feeling for years down the road when she isn't in my arms....

Sometimes I wish I didn't realize how precious these moments are with her...that I didn't know how fleeting this time is, or how I know that I'll miss these days. That would be easier, in many ways. Because I find myself mourning, so to speak, the brevity of the the same time that I celebrate it.

Of course, I wouldn't want the regret that would inevitably come from wishing that I'd enjoyed the time more, so I'm thankful for the wisdom to know to treasure it. And, treasure it I do.

Because I know how precious these days are...and I am cherishing every one of them.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Tumble

Emerson took a tumble a couple of months ago. (As in, December, I think? Clearly, I'm a bit behind in my blog-posting, but it's a story worth sharing, anyway, in my opinion.)

She was sitting on the couch, propped up by pillows, as we'd done many times before. I was adjusting the computer, not two feet away. And then, as if in slow motion, I saw her jerk forward (a new "trick" at the time), then roll off the side, twist mid-air, and land on her back on the floor. I saw it happening...was reaching for her as it occurred...and I just couldn't move fast enough.

She cried; I cried.

She calmed down quickly, though I watched all day for signs of something serious. All seemed well, and thankfully, that first tumble (the first of many, I know) was a mild one. was a terrible, horrible feeling.

I was not only upset that she was hurt, but that it happened because of something I could've prevented. And, frankly, I tried to...with pillows and positioning her in such a way that I thought she was safe. I was aware that falls would be increasingly possible as she became increasingly mobile, and I knew it was a risk. The fact that I tried to keep it from happening...and something bad happened, anyway...made it all the more discouraging.

As I prayed over her that night, I thanked the Lord for watching over her, for His hand of protection during that scary moment.

I was reminded, then, that I can't keep Emerson from all harm. I've tried to protect her from the moment (and even before) I knew she was on her way, and I do my best every day to keep this precious child well.

But, we live in a fallen world. And, there are dangers, big and small...circumstances that are out of my hands. I hope I'm always mindful to continually place her into His.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sermon Series: The Book of James

We've been studying the Book of James with The Crossing on Sundays, and the following are notes that I've taken during the sermons over the past few weeks. The messages on trials, wisdom, and wealth are giving me a great deal to reflect and ponder upon each week.

February 17, 2013 // James 1:1-4, 12 // Dave Cover
  • We ask God to take trials away, when instead He's sent the trial as a blessing to help us grow spiritually.
  • God wants growth; we want comfort.
  • Trials release us from the bondage of self-reliance.
  • Trials don't bring about Christian maturity automatically. We must seek wisdom for how to grow through it.
  • What exposes my need for wisdom? (Parenthood, family, marriage?) Where is my foolishness evident?
  • Wisdom requires discernment...seeing the world from God's perspective.
  • Wisdom is a person. His name is Jesus.

Teach me your way, O Lord,

    that I may walk in your truth;

    give me an undivided heart to revere your name.
Psalm 86:11

Lord, you are my God;

    I will exalt you and praise your name,

for in perfect faithfulness
    you have done wonderful things,

    things planned long ago.
Isaiah 25:11

February 24, 2013 // James 1:5-8 // Keith Simon

  • Both poverty and riches offer challenges to our faith. Each is a test of our faith.
  • Riches test us because we get distracted by protecting what we have, and we risk self-reliance.

Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.
James 1:9-11

Keep falsehood and lies far from me;

    give me neither poverty nor riches,

    but give me only my daily bread.

Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
    and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,

    and so dishonor the name of my God.
Proverbs 30:8-9

This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, 
but let the one who boasts boast about this: 

that they have the understanding to know me, 
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, 
 justice and righteousness on earth, 
 for in these I delight,” 
declares the Lord.
Jeremiah 9:23-24

March 3, 2013 // James 1:1 // Charles Anderson

  • Don't measure your reality by anything other than knowing Christ.
  • How do we view our riches as a test of how we relate to Him?
  • Reverse the way we consider our wealth by considering it as God does.
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,

    and naked I will depart.

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.”
Job 1:21

18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
1 Tim 6:18-19

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

Friday, March 1, 2013


I drafted this post on October 20, 2011. (Yes, that is over one year ago, I am well-aware. I was cleaning out the ol' blog post list and found a few drafted posts...what can you do?!)

At the risk of looking like removing any doubt that I am, in fact, a complete nerd (which I am confident is the reason this was never shared with the world in the first place), I am going to post it now. It is a fun memory of pre-baby-me, after all...goofy though it may be!

Yesterday, I fulfilled a childhood dream.
Yes, yesterday I got to teach a classroom of 1st graders, using an overhead projector.

I spent many an afternoon at home as a child "teaching" pretend students (and my not-pretend little sister), with used-bookstore textbooks and the teacher's edition of the Scholastic "Weekly Reader" that my teachers kindly allowed me to have. I had a real gradebook, with imaginary students' names, and a small whiteboard with dry-erase markers...and it got the job done.

But, what I really wanted...and had on my Christmas list for multiple years...was an overhead projector. The whiteboard, though fun, just didn't compare to the technology that the projector was. I was fascinated. The markers, the light, the hum of the motor...the phenomenon was simply irreplicable at home. Thus, my annual Christmas wish...currently, unfulfilled. (Dear Santa, just to be clear, I don't actually want an overhead this year.)

When I began my substitute teaching career, I was a bit dismayed that technology has advanced and the classrooms no longer use overhead projectors. Thus, I likely wouldn't get a chance to use one. ...sigh... My dreams dashed. Sure, the Smart Boards are great. They are an amazing, interactive, teaching innovation, and that the school district has been able to place one in every classroom is a great achievement. (Though I would imagine that it does make playing school at home much more difficult for today's aspiring educators....) Students are better for having the chance to have such a modern technology at their fingertips. (Literally, touching their fingertips. Because that's how the Smart Boards work.)

Still, there's the nostalgia of remembering the multiple minutes that it took for the teacher to get the image to focus on the screen, the chore of cleaning the marker from the transparencies with a wet paper towel, and the memory of the outline of the diamond on Mrs. Hagler's wedding ring as she wrote our sentence review. So imagine my excitement yesterday when I walked into a classroom, where there was not only an overhead projector sitting at the front of the room, but notes in the lesson plan that actually specified using it!

It was fun. And, it was one of those moments where you recognize a dream (small and relatively silly, though it was) has been realized.

I must admit, though it pains me to do so, that it wasn't as great as I thought it would be. The image (projected onto the Smart Board itself, ironically enough) would not focus, the clear pattern block pieces slid all over the place as I tried to arrange them over the transparency, and writing with the marker took a while, not to mention that I had to look down at the screen instead of looking out at the class. When I turned the machine off, I realized "wow, that motor really was making a considerable amount of noise" and "it would've been so much easier to just type". Essentially, I can see why someone invented the Smart Board and similar technologies, and why those are the projection methods of choice these days. The overhead projector is out-of-date, and it isn't the best tool for the job anymore.

But, when I was in elementary school, that wasn't the case. We had no idea what kind of impressive technology was coming years down the road. How true that is of life in general...the excitement about what we have in the present (a good thing!), with the opportunity to be surprised by the blessings that are yet to come.

I've gotten to teach from a "Weekly Reader" multiple times in real-life, and I've now used an overhead projector, too. Sometimes those childhood dreams come true, and it's a fun thing to notice when they do.