Don’t Go To Church?

I know I said I was trying to get away from ending titles with question marks, but perhaps it says something about where I am in life at the moment. Maybe as I begin the trek toward middle age (or, am I already there?) I am beginning to realize I have more questions than answers. Perhaps in truth, there really are fewer answers than we sometimes think there are.

This past week a couple things made me consider again why it is that we (the Campbells) “don’t go to church.” I have to put it in quotes because I just think that our phrasing leads us into bad thinking on the nature of the Church and corporate gatherings under the banner of “the church.” In scripture, the church is the people who belong to Jesus. It’s not a time, place, service, building, etc. It’s a people. So, by default, you can’t “go” to “church”. But, for the sake of this post, I will use the phrase “go to church” to mean attend a Sunday morning “worship” service.

A friend asked “what’s the deal with that?” regarding our not going to church, and as I was contemplating a response, I considered once again why don’t we go to church? There’s no harm in it – even if I think it’s not right and pointless… it wouldn’t kill us, would it? Couldn’t we get something good out of it? You’d think. But as I remembered recent times of attending such gatherings, I felt myself squirm a bit even as I simply recalled the events, thoughts, and emotions of the day.

Then I asked myself, “Why? Why does it bother me so much?” The only response I could come up with was that I have grown beyond that. That seems so arrogant, even as I type it, but it also seems to completely fit my understanding of the relationship that I have with my Father.

Allow me to explain.

Both Jen and I have come to a place where we really don’t like compartmentalizing life. We want to be who we are all the time. That applies to how we “educate” our children… there is not a specific time of “education”, but rather an environment of learning as you live everyday life. We teach as we go. And we go as we teach. The kids learn as they do, and ask to learn more.

It seems to be much the same with our relationship with God. Previously, our “spiritual life” could be a bit more easily identified as any times we were doing “God things”, like going to church, or other “church-related” activities, or reading our Bible, praying, singing, etc. Over the past couple years, we have tried to understand our relationship with Jesus as a very much more everyday thing. Everything we do involves him. There is no place we go to meet with him, since he is always with us. There is no time (necessarily) that is his, as he is always with us. All of life is accompanied by a friend whose level of intimacy with us can not be matched by any other person.

It just feels very odd then when we go to a place to “meet with” God… to “worship” him… and even at that place, there are times within the bigger time that we more “intentionally” meet with him. Add to that the bowing, and the standing, and even the slightly different language and tone of voice at times… all makes for a very strange experience.

I have learned to live every moment with God – the good and the bad – and have learned that his love penetrates all of that, and goes with me and before me. And it’s not just me… he loves everyone he has ever made just as much. I believe that his love for us actually draws us together. He wants us all to do life together, and so, just like he “brought [Eve] to the man” in Genesis chapter two… he brings his people together still. We don’t have to force it to happen.

The formality of our worship services – especially the way we address God, with whom I feel I have a very close, everyday relationship – just makes me feel very strange. It could certainly just be me. And I really don’t mean to imply what it seems I implied above, that all who attend such things do not have quite as good a relationship with their Father as I do. Not at all. I am just saying that for me, that is one of the big reasons it’s hard to attend those weekly (or more) gatherings.

And, I think I am pretty consistent in that area in that I really don’t like formality of any kind. I much prefer to just be who I am, and that you be who you are. Ceremonies of almost any kind are definitely not my cup of tea. πŸ™‚

I’m not sure that I am right about this, and would love any feedback. Please don’t be offended by what I have posted here. Your thoughts are welcome.

For now, though… that is (at least partly) why we “don’t go to church.”


A friend of ours can’t stop talking about this song, and I have to agree with her. As with most all of his songs, Steven Curtis Chapman is simply a great word craftsman. We listened to it New Year’s Eve and it had Jen crying while holding Kirstie. (Which I think confused Kirstie, cause you’re not supposed to cry if you’re happy she said…) πŸ™‚

I’m probably not supposed to post these here (and if Steven asks, I’ll take them down…) But for now, just thought I’d share in case you haven’t heard the song. The title below will link to the song at iTunes, so you can buy the album or the song alone if you’d like. It’s really a great song, and so amazing how hearing of or seeing the love of a child for their parent (and vice versa) does melt the heart of a mommy or daddy. It does for me at least. Just about every time. πŸ™‚

Steven Curtis Chapman

Verse 1:
She spins and she sways
To whatever song plays
Without a care in the world
And I’m sitting here wearing
The weight of the world on my shoulders
It’s been a long day
And there’s still work to do
She’s pulling at me
Saying “Dad I need you!
There’s a ball at the castle
And I’ve been invited
And I need to practice my dancing
Oh please, Daddy, please!”

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
‘Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh I will dance with Cinderella
I don’t want to miss even one song
‘Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she’ll be gone

Verse 2:
She says he’s a nice guy and I’d be impressed
She wants to know if I approve of her dress
She says, “Dad the prom is just one week away
And I need to practice my dancin’
Oh please, Daddy, please!”

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
‘Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh I will dance with Cinderella
I don’t want to miss even one song
‘Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she’ll be gone

She will be gone

Verse 3:
But she came home today with a ring on her hand
Just glowin’ and tellin’ us all they had planned
She says, “Dad the wedding’s still six months away but I need to practice my dancin’
Oh please, Daddy, please!”

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
‘Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh I will dance with Cinderella
I don’t want to miss even one song
‘Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she’ll be gone

National Hot Tea Month

I learned from my wife last night that January is national hot tea month. Now, I am known to have a cup or two a day… I am a fan of many kinds. (Big Train Chai is another favorite drink!) But with it being National Tea Month and all… I suppose I shall have to have a bit more. πŸ™‚

Care to join me for some tea?

(That’s our awesome brown tea kettle in the photo by the way!)

NFL Playoffs Start With A Bang!

I have really just one favorite team in the NFL. It’s the Bills. Really I’m not even much of an NFL fan besides any game that directly impacts the Bills. However. I do have two other teams that I would say I almost always root for.

And one was playing tonight.

First are the Bills. Maybe #1-1000 are the Bills. But 1001 is the Bengals (with my roots being in Southern Ohio) and #1002 is the Jacksonville Jaguars… probably only due to some cool people we met down there who befriended our family on one of our tours who are HUGE Jags fans, and… well… I just like them.

Jacksonville has a great, balanced team. Probably the most complete team in the playoffs. No real superstars, but enough greatness to beat anyone. They were 11-5, but should have been 12-4. (Took the last game off.) And they can do it all. Stifling defense, solid, productive offense… even great special teams. And two fantastic running backs, along with the league’s 3rd rated QB this season.

And, it showed. Tonight they took a commanding 28-10 lead into the 4th quarter until on 4th down and 12 on the first play of the 4th quarter, the comeback began. Yes folks… an 18 point deficit was completely erased and the Jags were down 29-28 VERY late in the 4th.

But on 4th down and 2, with just about 2 minutes left in the game, Jags QB David Garrard calls his own number, and not only gets the first down… he gets THIRTY-TWO yards for a HUGE first down, and gets them WELL into FG range. Huge. HUGE.

This forced Pittsburgh to take their remaining time outs, and after getting the ball to the two yard line, Jacksonville set up for the go-ahead FG.

They made it!! Whoohooo!! Game ended with the defense forcing a Roethlisberger fumble, and the Jags move on… likely to face New England in round #2. Should be a much better game than you might imagine. Except that Belichek does just great with two weeks to prepare.

Anyway… fun start to the playoffs. I probably won’t see much if any of the other two games though. πŸ™‚ Going to hang out with some friends tomorrow. Will probably have kid duty and just be catching up with them.

So… on to round two! Go Jags! πŸ™‚

My Day (or two) As A Mom

I think I have written here before that when Jen has babies, I take a week or, last time, two off to take care of the other kids while she can focus completely on the baby. And of course, I take care of her too. πŸ™‚ So, I am no stranger to being the “Mom” of the family. (Plus, I am the main chef of the household – by my own choice and desire – and often am accused of being the “girl” in our marriage … so… I am kind of used to it. Kind of.)

Well today, due to extenuating circumstances, I offered to help out our good friends, the Velasquezes, by watching their three girls at their house while they went to a wedding. Their oldest had been really pretty sick yesterday… lots of throwing up… but mostly that kind of sickness has not affected me in life, so I figured I would be pretty OK, and it would help them out.

The day was to start at 9:45, but I did get there a little late. Just before ten I got there and got the scoop. They hadn’t had breakfast so we did a little of that. Then once Mom & Dad left, we got into the fun. We watched an episode of the Knight Rider! (Yes, that instantly makes me the best babysitter ever. I carry episodes of the Knight Rider in my POCKET!)

No one was sick, thankfully, but it was a day full of being a Mom. πŸ™‚ We had hurt feelings, we had sibling spats, we had ouchies – even needed ice for one! – and all of that fun. Of course I needed to make lunch, which was awesome! πŸ™‚ We had diaper changes, bathroom reminders, and kitchen clean up. We also played games, and even had a nap time routine. I was quite the mom.

The real Mom & Dad returned around 4pm, and after a brief report, I headed out to do some returns and other shopping near the mall (more Mom stuff?) and then stopped by Wal-Mart for another quick surprise for the family. Finally got home – fairly exhausted – just after 6pm. Of course, Jen had our FOUR kids all this time, so she certainly had no picnic of a day! But after a few brief moments catching up with Jen… I realized that I had to make dinner for my family! Sheesh!

So, I did. I just reheated the big turkey dinner we had the night before, and it was great. But I was still tired. And I really just wanted to sit and watch football. But the kids were not really cooperating. And Jen was really worn out too. After giving it a go for most of the first half of the game mentioned just below… I finally gave up and just got the girls and got them ready for bed, and in bed.

The boys followed not long after, but Jen was able to help with them. I spent the rest of the evening cleaning up the kitchen from the last day or two and baking corn bread and cupcakes for tomorrow’s gathering. Then I called some good friends who live in California around midnight (9pm their time…) πŸ™‚ just to catch up. Had a nice chat there.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Well… I’d like to salute Moms out there. My wife first. Maybe my own Mom second. (Sorry, Mom.. Jen has four… and another coming!) I really am able to do the “mom thing” … but my experience today (and some of yesterday) left me exhausted and feeling unappreciated. πŸ™‚ (Not really… just bear with me…)

I really noticed that all of the “mom” stuff I did or was doing was sort of just expected. There’s never an end to the needs of your kids. They don’t take vacations, or weekends off. And, even when I was off taking care of other kids for a day… I came home to more. (Ours are way cuter, of course…) πŸ˜‰ And they just assumed I would be making dinner as I usually do. (Plus, Mom is super tired from making a baby!)

A Mom’s job is never done, and almost always taken for granted. So to Jen, Mom, and all other Moms reading this… you rock. Keep up the hard work. You can’t see it paying off now, but those kids you are loving – thanklessly – will remember it later.

And to my Mom … thanks for all the hard work. πŸ™‚

See? πŸ™‚

So… I’ll continue to keep up my end of the parenting duties, and maybe remember to remind Jen how awesome she is even just a bit more often. πŸ™‚

And, since it’s Steven Curtis Chapman week here at … when you get a chance (no time to find a link tonight…) check out the song from his latest album, This Moment – “One Heartbeat at a Time”. Perfect song for Moms.

And now… at 1:29… I can finally go to bed.

Good night!

Seat Belts

I know this is silly, and probably has already been discussed too much, but the reason for this page was to share (and document?) my random and wandering thoughts. So…

This weekend I was returning from a visit to the grocery store that is less than a mile from our house. I was in a hurry (had to get something for the dinner I was trying to be making at that very moment) so I hadn’t fastened my seatbelt, and really wasn’t going to. It’s such a short trip it kind of feels like just driving in my own driveway!

As I wrestled (very briefly) with whether or not to tether… I realized how insane it is that my state (yea, even my country) tell me that I have to wear it. Really? Should the government be regulating stuff that affects just a person’s own life? Does not wearing a seatbelt affect anyone but the wearer? (Or, non-wearer, I suppose…) πŸ™‚

If pressed, I do say that I am libertarian (meaning, I don’t think the gov’t should be telling me what to do with my life) and in this I definitely am. Run campaigns, annoy people to no end, but do not make a LAW that makes them live up to a level of safety that some “larger group” thinks is “necessary” or should be “required”. That kind of thinking is truly anti-American – anti-liberty.

OK. Down from the soap box. For now.


This blog is quite random sometimes, and tonight it feels particularly so. It is very appropriately titled, so I think I shall just leave it at that.

A few times recently I have found myself explaining my “hug policy”, so I thought I’d try and do that here – if for nothing more than it should make for interesting reading when I am going back through these in a year or two or five. πŸ™‚

We have taken a “love languages” test many times through the years with the parenting course Growing Kids God’s Way. I have scored super high every time in the “Physical touch and closeness” category. There are 5 love languages, and I think 5 questions on the test, and when you add up the points, I think that one is usually about a 21-23 for me, out of a possible 25. And, thought tests are not always entirely accurate, this one is.

I like hugs. πŸ™‚

So I was saying recently to a few various and random friends (and family) that my general thought is, I wait until 1) the person I am greeting or leaving demonstrates that they too are a hugger or 2) I know the person well enough that I already know they are a hugger. (This may explain why I usually greet you with a hug, or don’t…) πŸ™‚

For now, I plan to keep to that general rule of thumb… so if you are a hugger, your hugs are welcome and I’ll hug you back. If you’re not… I’ll return your firm handshake πŸ™‚

Just thought I’d get that out there.

Now I think I’m gonna go give Jen a big hug…


"I’m Gonna Blow Up!"

It’s a very blustery day here in Western New York state. Many limbs are down, power is out, all sorts of crazy things. My niece has power back now where she is at in Buffalo area, but she told me a few trees are down at her house – including one on their house! Yikes!

Well, as I was battening down the hatches this morning, I remembered another time we were in some seriously powerful winds. It was the spring of 2002, and we were out in Colorado, north of Denver. We were introduced to a chinook. These very strong, constant winds blow over the Rockies in the late winter/early spring and we weren’t prepared for the intensity of them!

As we left the hotel where we were staying that morning, little Ian (who had just turned three) was doing his best to keep his feet on the ground! He was very concerned, and just blurted out, “I’m gonna blow up!!!”

Well, as you can imagine, first we laughed … then we helped the lad stay connected to the Earth. He was very glad for big, heavy parents that day. πŸ™‚

It’s similar today, just not as sustained.

Let’s hope we don’t blow up today! πŸ™‚

Programmed Community

I came across a blog post that addressed some issues that have recently been in the forefront again for me. One paragraph that stood out to me said:

In the mega-church mindset, programs give opportunity for relationship to happen, but don’t assure that it can be found there. The relationships lives inside of programs. Once the program is over, the relationship is over. Once we no longer were involved in those programs there was no longer any reason to maintain the relationship.

We have also found this to be true personally, as well as anecdotally. I think this is one of the biggest shortcomings of the social organizations we call “churches”. They create a false idea of relationship. Relationship is not just being in the same room as other people, or even just having shared experiences. Those are sort of by-products of a relationship. But a real friendship goes farther than that, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually. πŸ™

Click the link above to read the rest of the post. Good stuff. Feel free to comment there, or add your thoughts back here. The link will open in a different window. I want to say I wonder if you have experienced the same thing, but I guess I don’t have to wonder. I am certain that you have.

And that’s OK, but is it the best? Isn’t there a better way than programmed community? To me it seems that there is.

SLOW Internet

SLOW internet!
Just so you can commiserate … (or, laugh at me…) the above is what I was dealing with today. I would tend to believe the numbers below the graphic. It was disastrously slow. I mean, WAY slower than any dialup I ever had! I should have plugged in the phone line! πŸ™‚

(Except… we have VOIP!!!!)

So… with a big day of remote server work I had lined up, the wind storm and other factors did not make this the best of days.

However, tonight we will celebrate our son Ian with a CAKE, and a trip to CHUCK E. CHEESE with our friends the Vs! Fun! πŸ™‚

Much better than dealing with slow internet!!