My "Blended Family" . . . and "Marketing" vs "Obedience"
I had to leave a meeting at St. Andrew's early to go to a photo session with all 6 of our "mine/his/ours" boys. I'll post more of the photos later on My Passions. But this one gets posted here, because the world Steven and I created when we "blended families" and added 2 more is the context in which a whole lot of my theology has been refined, and is the context in which I get to try to live it out each day.
(Not one of the eight of us would recommend the "blended family" attempt to anyone who has the option to live in an original and intact family . . . and "blended family" is a term that is way too optimistic with older children! Families with teens or pre-teens never actually "blend", in my experience. It does get much less painful and much more workable with time, though! For instance, today everyone showed up, pretty much "dressed and on time", and the only "problem child" was little Brooksie . . . oh, yeah, and the photographer who instructed our kids to "smile and say "I'm f***ing glad to be here!"", which Brooks promptly repeated.)
My husband pointed out the other day that I may as well use my name, because I've given enough identifying information that a "stalker" would have no trouble walking up to me at church -- so we'll just worry about some basic privacy now. I am Maria Anderson, married to Steven Anderson, the founder and owner of Anderson Bat Company, LLC. That's us in the middle. And then, starting with our oldest son on the left and moving through that row of kids, we have my sons Mike and Josh Sullivan, Steven's boys Tyler and Cody Anderson, and in the bottom row -- left to right -- our littlest ones -- ours together -- Noah and Brooks Anderson.
So I am outnumbered! 7 males to 1 female, and not one among the bunch of men and boys that shares a theological orientation that matches mine -- although Mike and Josh seem to be right where God wants them to be in each of their walks, and I am still actively teaching Noah and Brooksie. But I do see God at work in our lives, changing each one of us. And He is able to bring His kingdom even to this family and even to me!
God doesn't restrict His grace and His revelation to the ones in my family who have "got it all together" in what they believe and in how they live, or even to those in my family who define themselves as Christians. God is at work in each one of us, right where we are today. And, although He sees truth and wants to lead each of us into a life blessed by living in the TRUTH rather than continuing in the places where we are in error, He does that by using our relationships and experiences to make us increasingly aware of Himself and increasingly aware of reality.
He does not create a safe little world of devotion and let us "Christians" pull into it and shut out the "sinners". Because the truth is this: I am just as much a sinner as my husband is or as is any one of my sons, and it really is only God's grace that opens my eyes to any greater knowledge of Him or ability to obey Him. He is my righteousness. And He calls me to hold the doors open to any who would see Him . . . not to "create good boundaries" so that I won't be corrupted by their error or be seen to validate their sin.
If God can take real people like us and move us forward instead of backward, so that we are an increasingly healthy family created by increasingly healthy individuals . . . He can take real churches in our denomination and move each one forward toward His truth and an ability to live out that TRUTH . . . and bring us to a place where we are an increasingly healthy denomination created by increasingly obedient individual congregations and individuals!
Our obligation in obedience is not to market ourself as a congregation to the world around us to attract more wonderful young solid Christian families. Our obligation is obedience in holding good theology and obedience in living out good theology -- in how we treat each other, how we teach our kids, and how we engage the world around us.
Sometimes obedience drives people away, at least for a time. But the fruits of obedience are the fruit of the Triune God at work in our midst without barrier to His agenda. And, in the long run, that will nurture each of us and anyone else who is serious about finding an authentic way to live . . . and we will be the community God intends us to be: sinners being transformed together into saints, and being used to reach out to minister to the rest of the sinners whom He wants to love through us.