The F Word

September 28, 2016

Failing. I think I am failing school.

I read a book. I wrote the power point book review and turned it in and responded the requisite number of times on the discussion board. Pretty sure I am failing. Everything I turn in is late. I have not even looked at the requirements for my other two classes. This has never happened to me before. I have tomorrow off from work, and then I have three (twelve hour) night shifts in three days, one day off, and then three (twelve hour) night shifts in three days again.

I do not think that I am not in a position to catch up. One day of really hitting it is probably not going to make up for how far behind I am. I also lack ambition. I am tired. I do not want to spend my day off doing boring homework.

May God have mercy on my horrible, unrepentant, whining soul.

The only other time in my life in which I got an F was in high school. My other bad grade was a D. I think I got them both the same semester. One was in typing because I looked at my hands too many times on a timed test. The other was in gym because I missed too many showers. In the end, neither mattered. They were not my final grades; they were just six week grades. Today I can type and shower all that I need to in order to survive in American culture. I even held a job as a typist at the regional headquarters of a nationally known insurance company. Of course, they only required 30 wpm as I remember.

I am not sure how this will turn out. I used to think that maybe if like 8,000 people prayed for me that somehow the yucky parts of my life like this would turn around miraculously. I do not have 8,000 friends who pray fervently. James points out that it only takes one fervent praying person to do an awful lot of good. Or maybe, if I just had an attitude change and turned into one of those wonderful people who does not ever get burned out or need time off or want to quit, then this would be a non issue.

I do not have words for how tired I am at this moment.

Over the weekend, I somehow hurt my knee and could not run or do the stairs and pretty much needed handicap rails to get off the toilet. Tonight I could climb the stairs with either leg, but I have not started running again yet. I am in a race in about two weeks.

Also, the plumbing is stopped up. We will not be getting a plumber in here to fix it until Thursday.

On the plus side, when I cannot get to sleep at night, which is pretty much every night when I am not working nights because my body is getting trained to stay up all night, I am reading. My current book is Quiet. (I just finished I Am Malala, also worth reading.) I bought this book with a generous graduation book card gift from one of my many friends (not quite 8,000, and you know that they do not all pray). I thought I might resent this book completely because I sometimes find social media memes about introverts to be tiresome. At different points in my life, I have wanted introverts simply to get over it and to get it together. Then, the unthinkable happened. I started turning into an introvert. Scary, I know. When I asked someone I considered knowledgeable about it, she replied, “Don’t worry about it. Just go with it.”

That alleviated my initial horror of being Jekyll and Hyde. Looking back, I think that some of the transition was from always getting in trouble in nursing school for being an extrovert. Seriously. Aimee’s best advice was, “Mom, just keep your head down and get through it.”  She was right. Don’t stand out. Don’t comment. Endure it and get out. Eventually all of that enduring seemed to change my personality. I am the person who used to drive me bonkers.

One positive is that introverts do not get in trouble as much. Unless they look at their hands when they are typing or don’t take enough showers in gym class or don’t turn in their book reviews or anything else on time.

I feel like I am riding the fail train right over the cliff this time. I should probably take a Thunder Mountain type selfie. No, that is not what an introvert would do. An introvert would just write, “Here I am. I am failing. It is not the end of the world.”

invitations

September 26, 2016

The concept of hospitality in America seems in many ways to have gone down the toilet.

As evidence for this observation I will share the following. An unnamed leader sent me an invitation to a dinner. The dinner involved meeting people and helping in a new ministry. When I was sure I was off from work for this event, I received notice that I was uninvited to this kick off dinner.

Also, it was made clear to me that if I wanted to participate in this ministry at all, I would have to fill out an extensive form and submit to two interviews as part of a vetting process.

This was never made clear previously. They just wanted me to come and be involved.

At that point, I declined.

It seemed to me that because of my limited amount of free time in this season of my life, that any free evenings would be better spent at home, despite my sometimes extroverted desire to attend parties.  I decided not to be offended at the offensive note uninviting me or to make snide comments about the lack of administrative organization in this undertaking for inviting people to participate and then telling them that they will be vetted after you have uninvited them.

It is just best overlook stuff like that and roll on. I mean, who would believe it?

Okay, so tonight I receive another invitation from the same person to an event meant solely to promote their other ministry and shoot a promotional video.

Seriously? I said to myself.

After all of that, you think we are all clearing our calendars to promote your money making endeavor?

Please do not accuse me of being sarcastic. I am simply relating what actually happened.

This is part of the very strange phenomenon known as the American church.

 

What Says Home?

September 26, 2016

I have been pretty busy lately, and one of the things that has suffered has been home cooking. Tonight was different. I made meatloat, mashed potatoes, green beans with Durkee onions and banana cream pie with a graham cracker crust.

Nom. Home.

Coming Back Around

September 23, 2016

I have started enjoying running again. For the last couple of months, I have been trying to break back into running, or more accurately, jogging slowly and sweating profusely, and trying to go long distances. I am still quite overweight and out of shape, but I am enjoying working out more.

I have moved my rebounder upstairs to help me bounce when I cannot make time to run in daylight hours. It is not as good of a work out as actually getting out there and doing the JSASP (jogging slowing and sweating profusely), but it is better than sitting on my butt in front of a computer. It has been difficult to fit in three run attempts a week. It feels like my calendar consists of when I work(nights), when I run, and when I can actually be awake and show up at anything else. I am hating school right now, but I also do homework. Blech!

In October, yours truly will be in the Steak Race which is an evening race that ends with a steak dinner. This silly goal has kept me on the road for weeks. It will not be a race for me; it will be more of an I-Showed-Up-And-Also-Participated-Event. Good enough.

My end goal is to cease being obese, to be more active, and to go long distances because it makes me happy to go long distances even though I am old and slow. Since running a marathon several years ago, I kind of fell off the planet.

Someone told me that when you make up your mind to do something, the universe kind of sends you what you need to get there. I don’t think that is true. It is more of a stupid thing that new agers say, but there is some truth in it. I like what Aimee said better. She said that people who run marathons don’t necessarily have a lot of ability, but they have grit. Funny how that one statement has helped to keep me focused on this goal of long distance running because I don’t really have any great ability, but I can come up with grit, God willing. Now that I think about it, I found a fantastic pair of $100 running shoes, barely used, at my favorite thrift store this month. It could be the new agers are onto something as well, or maybe where God guides, He provides.

Star Wars is on TNT tonight. Woot.

And Yet More Irritating People

September 23, 2016

I promised my friends on that social media site that I would not comment on political things until election day. No controversial issues etc. Today I was a little shocked to see that one of the Bushes actually endorsed Hillary Clinton as a candidate.

As it turns out, someone kind of put the kibosh on this news-wise. You may read about it at your leisure here. It was the elder, 92 year old former Bush president. When you are that old, and you have been President, I think you have pretty much earned the right to depart from the party line and vote for any power-crazed-idiot that you want. That would be either candidate. Neither one is really a Republican. One claims to be pro-life, but is endorsed by the KKK. The other one thinks it is great to pull babies out of the womb and kill them and belongs in prison, but lived in the White House at one time.

I do not even want to think about what the First Spouses are going to do to this country.

I actually bought a Jeb Bush coffee cup. From day to day, I am not sure whether to hide it, use it or beat it with a hammer. It is proof that I did not support anyone else who is running, but when I sit back and take the long view, another Bush as POTUS is kind of creating a monopoly from one family on national leadership. It seems very British. Our smarter, braver ancestors fought a war to avoid that. I want a Revolutionary War t-shirt. They had less money and better educational opportunities than me, and it did not include technology too terribly much. And candles. I love those tall thin dipped candles that smell like evergreens.

On election day, I am going to build a time machine and go back to Revolutionary War days. I need commemorative clothing first.  I plan to go with a”Join or Die” sweatshirt with the snakes. Next, I will need at least two candles, some hot tea, and a large refrigerator box. Also, I think that it would be good to go to Guru Donuts and get one of those really great chocolate covered cream filled things. I should have a map of Boston. I will wear my favorite running shoes.

I can promise you this. I will have more fun than those of you who are going to spend the day voting.

More Irritating People

September 19, 2016

I think that when I was a home school mom that my world was a little too focused at times. This I blame on no one but myself. I was so concerned with educating kids and staying on top of home organization that for many years I never really listened to anyone who disagreed with me. Since I had so little time to fraternize and read outside of my designated reading and fraternizing, I chose friends and authors with whom I already agreed.

The truth is that every busy and focused person is probably quite selective about their use of time or they would never accomplish anything.

I am pretty much failing school right now, a totally new experience for me. However, I am doing the reading. I am just not passing tests or turning anything in on time. I blame this totally on adjusting to working nights and general burn out.

The reading for my Transcultural class has kind of blown me away. I am reading I Am Malala.   I did not expect to like it at all. I expected to hate it. It looked and sounded like the kind of modern drivel that I was completely unlikely to even set on my table stack as a possibility in the coffee bar area at Barnes and Noble.

I bought it only because it was on the reading list, popular and I could just pick it up and not have to wait for it to arrive in the mail. It is fascinating, better than a novel. Of course, I dislike most novels, so that is hardly high praise from me. Reading the first hand account of someone else’s life in different country and culture than I will ever see is, well, enlightening.

So today, I was discussing an idea that the author put forth with some conservative friends, and they were totally not receptive to anything I had to say. I was mocked. No one bothered to inquire further about facts or possibilities before they began shooting out opinions like kids with pea shooters in the junior high cafeteria. Take this, and this. And sarcasm.

The really irritating thing is that used to be my thought line as well. The entire interchange was like a really nasty mirror.

Maybe some good will come from this lousy semester.

End of rant.

Irritating People

September 18, 2016

And so, it was suggested to me that I should unfriend some people who were causing me great irritation on that social media site by the type and number of comments being left. One of them was even posting odd little personal comments on another friend’s blog, who was not her friend, just my friend. Until that, I kept justifying the decision not to unfriend, but that put me over the top.

Okay, so today, I was really surprised to see this person still commenting on my other friend’s postings when the two of them had no connection other than me. Come to find out, it is a different person with the same name making the quirky comments.

Who knew there were two people like that in this world sharing the very same names? It is kind of like a warning, I think.

Setting Limits

September 11, 2016

I am a fan of setting limits.

It Can Happen

September 8, 2016

And so, last Sunday, I went to my home church, which is very large, and just sat in a completely different place. It felt like a different church. Two people prayed for me, and someone I do not know sent me a note about a nursing job that I did not want. (I love my job. Thank you very much, but no thank you for your job.)

I still feel burned out.  It is easier to go to a church that really doesn’t care how I dress or what shoes I wear. The thought of visiting churches to find a new church home is not a comforting one. I have felt so tired inside and guilty for I do not even know what for so long that it has been exhausting.The problem is that the church doesn’t really care about any of us as individuals at all. They don’t send parishioners flowers in the hospital, and people rarely get a visit. Pastors have no idea, for the most part, where you live or what you do or anything about you. It is not their concern. I have a hard time with that one because I always thought about pastors as people who care about you,not as corporate organizer/fund raiser/visionaries. I was corrupted as a kid by my local neighborhood church.

Something Mrs. A.K. Patchin told me a long time ago has measured into all of this. She said that like C.S. Lewis, she does not look for friends at church. Almost all of her friends are from other places. I kept expecting my church to somehow provide friends for me. It is not going to do that now, and it probably never will. I have friends. For some reason, it is best to cultivate them from other places. If I can keep that in mind, I will be okay. Some of the weirdest people ever hang out at churches anyway. After my last few experiences trying to have them to my home and socialize, I am taking a pass on that.

I also have to keep in mind that the modern church is run more like Walmart than like the church in the New Testament. Changing churches will not change that. I would just end up with a different form of it. The paid staff leaders run everything, decide everything, and control, you guessed it, everything. Shake it off and move on ,or don’t go. The only choice for the local parishioner is whether to write them a check or not, and for how much.

In the end, those were my choices. Suck it up and hang in there or pretty much quit altogether. I really don’t like what the American church has become, but oh well.

 

Liberty

September 4, 2016

Lately when I read my Bible, I have been taking notes about God’s voice. Sometimes in the Bible, like in Exodus 19 & 20, God speaks like thunder and then gives the Ten Commandments. Sometimes, like with Elijah in 1 Kings 19, God speaks with a still small voice, not in any of the dramatic ways which one would expect to a famous prophet. In Numbers 22, God spoke to a prophet through a donkey. Sometimes in dreams, and with an angel, as in Matthew 1, with Joseph, Mary’s husband. I could go on, but the point is that God can speak in any way that He wants.

He can pretty much do any thing that He wants, as long as it is something that He wants to do. Job 42 is a good place to read about that. He also doesn’t owe anyone an explanation for anything He does or does not do. That kind of runs counter to a lot of modern American Christianity which spends an awful lot of time explaining God to people.

I don’t do that anymore. When people want to come tell me why they don’t believe in God, and what they expected and what God did or did not do, I just listen and nod. I do that because I do not have the answer for them.

God reveals a lot of things about Himself in the Bible, but not everything. No one knows everything about God because we are finite, and He is infinite.

Sometimes what people really need is just for us to listen and care about them. I believe that in that way, possibly through just someone caring about them and praying for them, they might have their heart softened enough to sense God’s presence in some way because that is what He is like. He cares and He listens. If they do not see me do it, how can they believe me when I tell them that that is what God does?

I have really wanted God to tell me what to do about church, but He has been strangely silent. I wasn’t looking for thunder. I am trying to move away from the guilt and responsibility mode of Christianity without any grace in it. I am not exactly sure what I expected God to do. Place a church flier in my Bible? Send me a text telling me not to feel guilty about leaving my home church? Or my personal favorite, write it in the sky?

I have called a few really dysfunctional places my church home at various times. There is no perfect church, but neither are they all in the same state of health. Plus, different churches seem to fulfill different functions in the community, like different organs in the body of Christ.

Part of me does not want to move on from my current church  because my pastors are excellent. Who says that and leaves a church? Who leaves a church when they agree with its doctrine? Who leaves a church when it has personally benefited them? Who leaves a church and is not offended?

That would be me. I might actually make it to a church tomorrow, or I might feed the ducks.

The truth is that I do not really want God to tell me what to do about church. I don’t think I could handle whatever that edict might be. It sounds like death to have God announce to me where to go to church. I would feel stuck. I would feel forced. I cannot handle whatever the spiritual expectation is that is placed on my life at this time. I feel exhausted inside. The very thought of committing to some church that might turn out to have dead animals buried in the parking lot or whatever thwacky thing they believe that they do not tell you until you get to know them is overwhelming. Obviously, I have been snookered before in church world.

One of my brother in laws told me one time that he thinks God allows us to choose our own church home as a part of our liberty in Christ. I am going to trust that is correct. If I visit someplace and feel like I cannot breathe, I am just going to get up and walk out.

Liberty. Something God allows me to do without manipulation or guilt or duty pushing me to do it.