Jacob’s Big Day


jacob suit

Last Sunday Jacob was baptized. It was such a great day! Saturday Andrew and I teamed up to get the house prepped for guests. The whole time I was stressing out about Jacob’s nap Sunday morning. I wondered if he’d nap well to last through the service at the church, or if he’d sense things were going on and wouldn’t nap at all, or if he napped too well and we’d have to wake him before worship and risk him being in a bad mood.

It was pretty exhausting. Andrew always knows what to say though: “Cris, are you actually losing sleep over sleep?” It was so logical. I was. I was worrying about Jacob’s sleep way too much. I just accepted that I had no control over some things and would just have to go with the flow. I also reminded myself that at KesPres, no one makes you feel bad if your child is a little fussy. Instead, they’ll do what they can to offer help or entertain your little one. I had nothing to worry about.

As it turns out, Jacob had a great night’s rest – as did I – and he napped in the morning. Our time at worship with him couldn’t have been more perfect. He looked adorable in his little white suit and was perfectly happy to go with Allyson as she wet his head and baptized him…

jacob baptized

Jacob is officially a KesPres member. I am so happy that I found this church. A church that embraces children and caters to they’re little curious minds. I’m so happy that he has such a wonderful church family to help his mommy guide him in his faith. I’m so excited for what’s to come.

PB&J: Potluck, Bonfire and Jesus


church bonfire

Photo Credit: Allyson MacLeod

Our church, KesPres organized a great event for us last night. We all brought our families and a potluck item to share, and enjoyed dinner together. Afterwards, we gathered around a bonfire to share stories of where we see God in our everyday lives. We sang songs while Kirk played his guitar and the children roasted marshmallows too. It was such a great evening. Here’s a snapshot of it in a poem I wrote when I got home:

Jacob sits in his stroller
Watching the children giggle and run around
I gaze around the room and feel rich
Different conversations happening
The clanking of cutlery on plates
A burst of laughter at one end of the room
The intoxicating smell of different dishes
All prepared with love to share with each other
All the mothers are taking care of their children
As well as everyone else’s – just like a big family

With full bellies and satisfied taste buds
We all sit around a fire
Sharing stories of how we see
God working in our lives
Where his blessings show up
Every day, in simple ways
I watch Jacob watching the fire, mesmerized
I get a little choked up, realizing
This is the first time he’s seeing fire
A fire that God has provided for him
And ensured Jacob’s first glance
Would be in the company of his
Large, loving Christian family

The guitar is strummed
And Kirk’s voice carries over the breeze
Coaxing us all to follow and sing with him
For God, to God – giving praise for his blessings
Warmth washes over all of us
From the fire, from the fading sun on our backs
And from the love being shared in this large circle of our family

Allyson silently takes pictures of the moments we share
Capturing little miracles in her lens
Of families gathering together
Sharing joy in each other’s company
Of children roasting marshmallows
Their goopy fingers holding a stick
Roasting their second marshmallow on the flame
Getting excited as the outer layer begins to brown

The evening is winding down
I can feel the strings of my heart being pulled
I’m already longing for another night like this
And know
That God is working
To make more happen

© Copyright – All rights reserved – Cristina Cole

Some Say I’m Ignorant for Believing in God


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I’ve been given a sharper sight. Life has become simplistic. Stresses have shrunk away, becoming dust bunnies under the fridge. Since handing over my worries to God, and asking him to take the lead, I feel more peaceful.

Some people will say this is neglectful, ignorant, crazy… Giving up control is like letting someone else steer my car while I’m still in the driver’s seat with my foot on the gas. It’s a valid argument for someone who’s scared of not having any control. That used to be me. I’d obsessively worry about what would happen next, preparing myself for change and obstacles. I always had a plan B, C, D… It was exhausting.

I’ve been told by some people that I’ve been changing. That I’m less “nervous”, not quick to defend my thoughts like before, more peaceful, more at ease with life and its curve balls. I am. All these things are true.

As I’m writing this, I’m thinking of the people I know who’ve told me that they think the idea of God is a joke. I can hear them questioning me. What made you believe in him? Did you hit your head? Were your brainwashed? Why are you buying into this stuff? I can hear them pushing me to defend my choices and beliefs.

Who am I hurting by believing in God? Am I offending non-believers? Because it seems that way when I tell them that I love God, and I love being his servant. What’s so bad about wanting to be good? What’s so bad about believing that I’m loved, that I was born for a reason, that I have a purpose, that after this life, something amazing is waiting for me?

Someone once said to me “Well, what if when you die there’s nothing? What if you spent your whole life believing and then it’s all a lie?” Instead of answering with “I’m 100% certain that heaven exists and there is a place for me in it.” I said the logical thing: “If there is no heaven, and there’s only blackness then what difference will it make? I won’t know any better because I’m dead. It’s like being asleep. Do you miss being awake when you’re asleep? And if there is nothing after this (which I believe in my heart isn’t true), I don’t believe I’ve wasted my life being a servant. I will have spent my life gaining joy from having faith, doing what I can to help others in life, and sharing this joy with my Christian family. Is that so bad?”

Maybe. Maybe for non-believers this seems ludicrous. Maybe they think I’ve lost my mind. That’s okay with me. I don’t feel the need to defend my choices. I won’t cut you out of my life either if you challenge me. I’ll do what makes you even more upset, I’ll pray for you 😉

Photo Credithttp://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Death_g408-Door_In_The_Sky_p31092.html

My Decision to Join the Presbyterian Church


candles

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/paullew/2314647877/

I was born and raised in the Roman Catholic faith. Besides learning very good morals and values and learning to forgive others, I also learned about shame and humiliation. The biggest boulder on my shoulders though, is guilt. For some reason, I’m always feeling guilty about something.

I would go to church every Sunday with my mother. If I got too loud because I was bored, I was offered a candy to suck on by a nice lady sitting in the same pew as my mother and I. I guess the idea was that I couldn’t really talk with a candy in my mouth. These women obviously had no idea how talented I was at talking with my mouth full.

I’d say my first feeling of guilt came about when I’d notice the stare these candy-giving ladies would give my mother. It was a look of disapproval. And the look on my mother’s face was apologetic. My mother was feeling guilty because her daughter was disrupting mass, and in turn I was feeling guilty because my mother was being looked down on because of my behavior. I wonder if after mass, the candy-giving ladies felt guilty for giving my mother the evil eye. Probably.

In my teens, I stopped going to mass. I couldn’t be bothered. And it wasn’t like the church did anything to make me want to return. Would you want to go somewhere once a week where you were reminded of how bad you were? And even if I did decide to go back after a few weeks’ hiatus, the disapproving stare you got was a special little reminder of what a class act you were.

When I was about seven years old, the church would have children’s classes in the basement while mass was occurring.  I looked forward to these classes. And so did the candy-giving ladies I think, they could enjoy mass without the disruption of children.

To be honest, it seemed to me that these classes were offered to keep kids preoccupied so the grownups could have their discussions without us bothering them. I’m not saying this is the case, I’m sure the aim was to get on the same level as children and teach them about Christ,  it’s just how I felt as a kid, like we were in the way. The minute everyone was seated, the priest would ask all children to go downstairs.

At Christmas time, the church would be so full that people had to stand at the back and sides because the pews were full. You’d think the priest would feel blessed that his church was filled to capacity with so many worshipers. Maybe he was. But he never let the guests know that. Instead, he’d actually take five minutes to say “Why is the church so full tonight? Why are those who don’t come every Sunday here today? What’s the point?”

Really? This is your chance to let people who don’t attend mass every Sunday hear what they’re missing! Why not tell them how pleased you are to see them and hope to see them next week? Why make them feel bad about themselves the first five minutes that they’ve been in church? You’re pretty much reminding them why they refuse to come to church every Sunday, because they feel bad about themselves. They feel guilty.  I’m sure not every Catholic church makes members feel guilty. But the ones I have attended do.

Two and a half years ago I got married and moved about an hour north from my parents. I decided one Sunday to attend mass. I entered the Catholic Church in town. Just like back home, there was no one there to greet me like God would if I entered his home. Yup, this place feels just as cold as the last. I was tempted to leave. But I stayed. It was the Catholic thing to do, plus I would’ve felt guilty about leaving.

I attended a few more Sundays to give the church a chance. But I never felt a connection to the church, the people, or the priest. I felt like I was on my own. So I stopped going.

About a year later, my mother in law mentioned to me that there was a Presbyterian church in town right near our house. Right away, my thought was but I’m Catholic. Apparently that didn’t matter, I could still go. So I decided to make a visit one Sunday.

I walked in, and two smiling faces greeted me, shook my hand and instantly I felt all warm and bubbly inside. So this is what it feels like to drop by God’s house. I thought I should tell them my secret, that I was Catholic. I kind of whispered it too: “I was baptized Catholic but I thought I’d see what sermon’s are like here.” I felt the guilt bubbling up inside me. To my surprise, the greeter responded with “Oh! I was baptized Catholic too, come on in!”

I felt at home. It was instantaneous. Like this was the place I was supposed to be. Listening to the sermon was inspiring, not boring. And the children? They weren’t ushered away the minute we were all seated. Instead, they were asked to sit at the altar, facing the guests in church. I thought to myself, surely this must be a special occasion. But it wasn’t. Every Sunday mass begins with the minister speaking to the children, singing with them, reminding them how much Jesus loves them. After this, they go for a lesson while mass occurs. And for very young children, there is a nursery with toys and games. The sermon is fed through speakers so parents with their young ones can hear mass. I was blown away.

Maybe there are Catholic churches that do the same thing. I’m not sure. The ones I’ve been to aren’t anything like the Presbyterian Church I attended. I’ve been to masses at many Catholic churches. I haven’t felt hugged by God the minute I entered any of them. Not even the ones with grand ceilings, breathtaking religious art, and an organ that sounds like angels singing. I’ve been to two Presbyterian churches in the past two years, and felt embraced by God in both of them.

The people within these churches are genuinely happy to be there. They aren’t at mass because it’s their Christian duty to attend every Sunday. They’re there because they look forward to hearing the sermons, meeting friends and being in great company. For them, it’s like a family reunion once a week. This is the main reason why I want to join the Presbyterian Church. Another major reason is my son Jacob.

When I think of my Sundays at church as a child, I don’t remember them with fondness. I want Jacob to feel good about himself and his relationship with God. I don’t want him to feel guilty and ashamed if ever he does something wrong in life. I want him to know he can ask God for forgiveness and help for improvement. I don’t want him to have a sense of fear of the “man in the sky” who’s always watching. Instead, I want him to have peace of mind and confidence that God is always there, not watching and calculating when to punish him for his sins, but waiting to offer help in simple ways.

When I enter the Catholic Church, I feel tradition, ritual and sacredness. When I enter the Presbyterian Church I feel kindness, love and inspiration to be a better me. So to make a very long blog entry short, that’s where I’ll be every Sunday.

***Just a note. To anyone offended by this post, I apologize. I just wanted to share my experiences as a person raised in the Catholic faith, and why as an adult, I’ve decided to join the Presbyterian church. 

If anyone in my area is interested in checking out the Presbyterian Church I attend, visit their website at KesPres.ca!