the gift of God

by christy on October 14, 2009

Dear Max,

I’ve started writing the next entry in the saga about my life in the psych ward, but I wanted to interrupt myself to explain to you, and anyone who might be following along, what we believe. Of course by the time you’re old enough to read and truly understand this, hopefully your daddy and I will have done a good job planting all these things in your heart, so no explanation will be needed. But hopefully we’ll have grown more then, too, and so this is what we believe now.

Your daddy and I have a deep faith in Jesus Christ. Most people are OK with the term “God”, but once the name of Jesus is mentioned, they may go up in arms. Unfortunately there is a very loud population of people that make a bad name for Christians. Your uncle Kieran the other night made the point that fundamentalist Christians, by definition, are those who believe the fundamentals of the Bible, and we do. However, that word has been turned into something bad by many who have managed to take the “mental” part to heart, whereas we would prefer the “fun” aspect. It’s also been appropriated by many right-wing conservatives, whereas your daddy and I are more liberal (particularly in health care, education, etc.).

Done by Lucky, your daddy's childhood buddy. You were in the room for much of it!

Basically we just believe the Bible, that it’s not an outdated book but very applicable to our lives. We believe that Jesus saves by grace through faith. That’s why last month I got Ephesians 2:8-9 tattooed (by one of your daddy’s oldest friends, Lucky) around the cross I’d previously had, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” It reminds me that I need not be “religious”, trying to impress God with my works, although I do my best to do good works because I love Christ. It also keeps me humble, it has to, because I’ve done absolutely nothing to deserve it, it’s all from above. And he has given me so many more blessings than I ever could have possibly dreamed of, starting with your daddy, who was 1,000x the man I though I would ever be given, and then you, my sweet angel, who adopted his personality and demeanor (thank God!) of being so easygoing and sweet and friendly, rather than my neuroses.

All that to say that we wanted to find a church that uses money to love people, not one that loves money and uses people. Back in Seattle your daddy and I went to Mars Hill Church. It was the first church we became members of together and we loved it. At first there were things I disagreed with when Pastor Mark Driscoll preached, but as I listened and studied my Bible, I realized it was my issue, not his. We made some amazing friends there. Pastor Mark would preach that the liberals hated the church because of what he said (adhering to the Bible), but the conservatives would like him until they came to the church and saw all the indie-rockers with their tattoos smoking out front, and then they began to hate him.

When we moved to New York, we went to a couple of churches, but ended up going to one connected to Mars Hill through the Acts 29 network (something Mars Hill helped found), Apostles Church. We first met at the Doubletree Hotel up at 51st and Lexington, and then moved to the evening service at Union Square (the morning service is now on the Upper East Side). JR, the pastor, is awesome, and he really likes your daddy. Your daddy is brutally honest when it comes to design and typography and the sometimes the logos and images and typography on the screen drove him crazy, so he finally said something, and ended up redesigning the brand and, eventually, the website and everything associated.

Our Apostles' community group at Tom and Angie's wedding; I was six months pregnant here.

Now, we went to a few small groups, but most were quite a trip for us from Greenpoint, where we first lived here in New York, and then Park Slope, both in Brooklyn. We finally found one that met near Union Square. It was full of artists and musicians, led by Tom, who led worship at church, and Angie, his girlfriend (now wife) and it didn’t take long to really love everyone. That’s where we met Kieran and Monica. We were all kind of off-beat, and fit well together.

So when you were born, we experienced the love that the church is called to show.

JR asked what we needed, when you’d been born and I was subsequently admitted to the psych ward. Your daddy was given rides by members of the church to visit every day I was in the hospital. When no one was available, and he had to take a car service, the church helped us out. Friends brought you and your daddy groceries and babysat, allowing your daddy to run errands or sleep. I never expected that your first babysitter would watch you when you were less than a week old!

Your grandma wasn’t going to make it out to see you when you were first born. The economy has been really bad and she’d been laid off and was just about to start a new job. But I needed her, and the church helped fly her out. Unbelievable!

That Monday in the psych ward, your daddy called, and his voice cracked a bit. I asked him what was wrong, and he started to cry. He told me it was all starting to overwhelm him, that he had just talked to your Grandma Powers and she had said I would be a great mother (which in turn made me cry). In addition, the love of the church and they way they were helping us so much was such a beautiful testimony and greatly touched us both.

I just want you to know how deeply loved you were from the beginning, not just by your biological family, but by your church family, as well, who loved you even before you born and even more so once you arrived (even though no one won the pool in terms of your birth and gender. One day later and it would’ve been Angie). They did everything in their power to show Christ’s love. It was beautiful and something we will never forget.

Love,

Mommy

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