Sunday, January 25, 2009

Is it Possible For a Heathen To Raise Christian Triplets?

   [hee-thuhn] –noun
1. an unconverted individual of a people that do not acknowledge the God of the Bible; a person who is neither a Jew, Christian, nor Muslim; pagan.

I must admit, I’ve been called a heathen so many times in my life I wasn’t exactly sure I understood what the word meant. I believe that about 99% of the time I’m called a heathen it is in jest. I have a buddy who I think called me that more than he called me by name for many years.

Truth is I am nothing of the kind but it does make me smile when some people think of me that way. I guess that type of thinking brings out the devil in me, to quote AC/DC.

I didn’t really grow up in a church family. Shortly before my grandfather passed away he asked my parents to start taking us to church. I was about 9 or 10 years old. One thing I find funny about that story is that my dad swears my grandfather rarely, if ever, went to church himself. My dad and grandmother would go by themselves.

The church we went to then is the same church I go to now, Shepherd of Life Lutheran church in Arlington, TX. The church recently celebrated its 30th anniversary and the original Pastor, Pastor Ron came back and spoke at that service. It was an amazing morning for me as I recalled the memories I had from way back when.

If you ever quizzed me about church before that Sunday as I was growing up, I could sum it up very easily. The sermons were long and boring and I used to spend a lot of time watching the invisible clock in my head as the services went along.

Yet on anniversary Sunday I started to remember better times like ski trips, the original piano player and even a few of the faces came back to me.

Angela was raised in a much more religious family than I and they believe that God will speak to them and show them the way through tough situations. I’ve never really had that view, I’ve always thought if you are the best person you can be, treat people the way you wanted to be treated that things will work out for you.

I’m fairly certain those are the same things but it’s just easier for me to wrap my head around me being in control than waiting for good things to happen.

Today in church the sermon centered on God showing people the path, calling them to certain ways of living. If I have received that call, I must have not recognized the caller ID because I don’t think that has happened to me.

Then it dawned on me, the call didn’t come to me but it came to my Grandfather. I’m not sure either my sister or I appreciated that call as we both stopped going when we turned 16 and our dad gave us the option to go when we wanted. Almost 30 years later, I appreciate it now.

I guess I should be embarrassed that it has taken this long to recognize it but better late than never, huh?

Not long after my grandfather made that request of my father, Pastor Ron knocked on our front door. I still don’t completely understand how my Dad didn’t politely say thanks but no thanks and shut the door. I guess it was part of that calling.

Angela and I started dating in 2005. The year of 2004 was easily the toughest year of my life. It was that year that I decided I couldn’t control things myself and I needed some help.

I wandered back into Shepherd of Life for the first time since 1988 and sat at the back of the Church. I found myself back there the next week and the week after that and it continued throughout that summer.

I did even that on my own terms though, I snuck in at 7:57 and snuck out as soon as the service was done at 9. I didn’t really want to speak to anyone. Finally one Sunday the new Pastor, Pastor John cornered me and had me fill out a guest card. He called me a few days later and we had our first discussion. I still recall it almost word for word.

Football season came around and I kinda stopped going but I did start up again in early 05. Then I met Angela and hindsight tells me if I had not started going to church again, we might not have gotten very far in the relationship. Church was and is very important to her. Prior to 2004, it wasn’t very important to me.

Getting married at that church was one accomplishment that I hold dear. I am comfortable there, even though the fact is, for the first few years as a member, we knew very few people. We have been teaching Sunday school for 3 years now but other than the hour with the kids, we go fairly unrecognized.

My buddy Eric who calls me a heathen still can’t believe I actually teach Sunday school. He tells me to stay away from the holy water because it might start bubbling.

The thing is, even when I wasn’t attending church, I felt I lived a Christian life. I’ve said many times and have been clear with Angela about the fact that I may change my mind on a dime and go through another church dry spell. Comfort is everything to me.

Angela’s family frowns on what I enjoy and I think if you cornered a few of them they’d tell you I truly am a heathen. It’s true, I listen to Ozzy Osbourne and AC/DC. Not only do I watch the Harry Potter movies, I read the books too. I think it’s ok for adults to watch movies with adult subjects.

I think God understands that Highway to Hell and Mr. Crowley are just good songs and that listening to them does not doom you to a life with Beelzebub. Kinda like just because when you listen to Amazing Grace, it doesn’t mean you are going to heaven. I think you can enjoy a song by Black Sabbath and not want to eat a small child. I believe killing a person while listening to those songs is a sin, but I don’t think it’s more of a sin than just killing someone.

I’m of the belief that God has a sense of humor. I think the triplets prove that. I think God understands that church is the funniest place on earth. Nothing is funnier than something that happens in church whether it be trying to hold in a sneeze at the communion alter or realizing that your Guns n Roses Appetite for Destruction boxers were visible to the congregation during communion.

Before we started going to church my image of God was George Burns and I guess I played the John Denver part. I mean, if George Burns is God he has to understand that getting the pastor to say the name of this blog in church is just plain funny.

OK, I’m finally getting to the point of this very long rambling, I promise.

I wonder how hard it’s going to be with triplets and church. Will we have the energy to pack everyone and everything up and make the 30-minute drive to Arlington every Sunday? How will we take three infants to the alter? Are we going to have to have separate baptisms for each kid? I mean, there are 3 of them and only 2 of us.

When they get a bit older will I be able to tolerate that they are as bored as I was and all they are doing is embarrassing us?

Is it worth it to put up with all that crap and still have people think of us as heathens as me and the 3 kids are laughing at mommy because I am tickling her fingers during the prayer of the day?

I wasn’t sure to be honest but thinking of Church today, I think the answer is yes.

Since announcing that we are having triplets, we have come out of the closet so to speak. We can’t sneak in and out of Church anymore. We get stopped by people wanting to know how Angela is doing, how can they help and wishing us well. I can’t imagine what it will be like when the kids are born and more people make the connection that we are the 2 with the litter.

I have a hunch even this hermit heathen will understand the true meaning of belonging to a church family even if it did take almost 30 yeas to answer the call.


  1. It feels very humbling to be a member of a church community where everyone cares about you and your family. Most of the time, I feel like I'll disappoint all the self-appointed "Grandmas" and "Grandpas" if I don't get Riley to church to see them. They are just as happy to see him and us as they truly are to see everyone who comes in the door. It's energizing and helps us get out the door. Pretty powerful stuff. (and it doesn't hurt that the "grandpas" keep feeding Riley chocolate donuts when I'm not looking)

  2. It's really pretty cool. You are right, it does make heading out on Sunday mornings a lot easier.