4:00pm Saturday . . . the invitees were the kids on the street and fellow neighborhood kids who go to the host's daughter's school.
We weren't sure what to except . . . what we got was my oldest son and about 20 girls and then my youngest son and another 4 year old boy.
When invited I asked the mom, "What do you need from me?" She told me 1 dozen filled eggs per child. She mentioned she would have snacks for the kids after the hunt. Off to the grocery store I go . . . ALL of the pre-filled eggs were gone - so I must fill my own! While at the grocery I also pick up a party tray of cookies and 2 dozen chalk eggs as additional eggs for the hunt.
I drop off all of my goodies before heading home at the party site - filled eggs, cookie party tray and chalk eggs.
It is now party time . . .
I have the boys dressed, as you would for any get together. We walk down about 4 houses. Upon arrival there was name tags, 20 girls and lots of Easter baskets. Approximately 15 minutes passed and they sent the kids around back while the parents hid the eggs over two yards.
The kids come flying around the corner . . . grab their baskets . . . and off to hunt eggs. We "assisted" our youngest. Once he had his 12 we pointed out eggs to our oldest that still needed to be hunted!
Hours of prep, time to hide the eggs and it is all over in 7 minutes!
The kids had snacks, then on to the games. There was the carry the egg on a spoon relay and the egg toss . . . back and forth with a non-hard boiled egg.
During this time, the other moms, not from our street were been kind. All had introduced themselves. Asked about out boys, the school they go to, and where we live.
It was when the host asked "Where do you go to church?" was when I felt we were being judged.
I responded with, "short answer . . . we don't." I have been asked this probably 4 other times, it never gets any easier to answer. Answering this is a very fine line I have to walk in this conversation . . . I know what we believe and yet not insult or offend when I explain it.
I explained how I grew up Baptist and my husband was Catholic . . . ish! I said "I don't feel the need to go to church" . . . thankfully she was standing slightly behind me, so I didn't get to see the judgement in her eyes. I explained that growing up we went to church on Sunday mornings, Sunday night, Wednesday night and for special events on Saturday, my mother was the church pianist, my father took the offering, they led a teen youth group that had softball, bowling, roller skating all at the church. We were involved . . . choir, hand bells, Sunday school, youth groups, Wednesday night supper and lock-ins. From Woodcrest Baptist with Billy Weber and Larry Williams, to Prestonwood with Billy Weber, to First Baptist Oak Cliff with Herb Peterson to Colonial Hills Baptist with Brother Cotton and some lakehouse churches on the weekends we were at the lakehouse.
I even attended a private Christian school . . . I was full up on the church.
So . . . I explain my long and very involved past with the church and just say "I just don't feel the need to go to church." Truth is . . . when my family was so involved with the church you realize the head of the church is just a man . . . he too has sins . . . he is no better a person to lead you on your spiritual journey . . . he, at best, is a very good orator.
I believe it is Luke 6:37 that says
Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
This is something I wish the bible beating, hell fire and brimstone, we can pray away your . . . would remember.
Judge not, Condemn not, Forgive!
So, with my back to my neighbor, I don't see it but I feel her judgement and I feel like I am letting my children down. It is clear to all who know me well I am strong willed. I am firm in my belief system and the balance of good and bad.
My husband and I have done our best to instill that in our children. We are often told they are very well behaved, but does that come from church? We say prayers with them and reference God and Jesus as the situation calls for it, do you have to go to church to do this? We go to holiday services for them to gain a bigger understanding of Christmas and Easter, but must you go the other 50 weeks to really know Christ?
I feel Christ is in the way you conduct yourself. If you are a good person . . . then you walk with Christ. I am raising good people . . . I am raising good Christians . . . and I feel I don't have to go to church to do it.
While having a discussion with my son's 4th grade teacher, Mr. B. we realized we were very similar - we both adore my son, both came from small towns, both grew up in the Baptist church and both don't feel you HAVE to go to Church in order to walk with Christ. As we were finishing up on our talk he said, "I once heard this saying and I feel it really applies" . . .
"Heaven doesn't wait, for only those that congregate!"
Amen Mr. B! Amen!!!