Saturday, November 29, 2014

Christmas 2014

I asked a Facebook question a week or so ago about whether or not I should even bother to put up decorations this year.  I received a resounding, "YES, YOU SHOULD".  So I went with the majority, even though my preference is never to go with what the majority wants, and put up some decorations.  Granted, this year there is even less than last year, but I should at least get props for trying.  Although I went very minimal, I am happy with the results.  Since my signature color has always been red (now if that doesn't sound queer, I don't know what does...I have a signature color), having more red throughout the house is definitely to my liking.  Maybe it will do the trick and cheer me up.  Hey, it can't hurt!

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


When the word of the day is random, you can pretty much expect my thoughts to wander, and wander, and maybe even wonder.

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger".  What the heck is that supposed to mean?  I'm no spring chicken, I've been through a lot in my life, maybe not what many people have been through, but I've had more than my share of woes and I'm here to tell you that that is BS...a huge stinking wad of bulls*it.   My experience is that "what doesn't kill you" usually leaves you broken, bruised, scarred, unable to cope and barely able to keep your head above water.  I mean really, who thought of that?  Then there is "God doesn't give you more than you can handle".  Again, total BS.  What is the point of "giving no more than you can handle"?  Growth?  Excuse me but I'd rather remain stagnant than have to go through the pain in order to come out the other side having grown as a person.  I know, cynical.

Beneath the Darkness.  How dark can a day get?  When the dark never lifts, do you continue to describe it as darkness or do you just concede that it's called your life?  At what point do you just say screw it?  And if you do say screw it, what then?  What if you've said screw it and nothing has changed?  What motivates someone who is feeling hopeless to even get out of bed?  Where do they look for motivation?  Friends?, family?, faith?, therapy?  That isn't a rhetorical question, where?  I'd really like to know if someone has an idea or two to share.

How are you -or- How are you doing?   When you ask someone that question, do you really want to know or are you just being socially pleasant?  My theory, based on my vast (well, maybe not so vast, but I have been asked that A LOT), is that people don't really want to know.  They are much more comfortable when the questioned individual just smiles and says "fine", or "ok", or really stretches the truth and says "good".  Last year I had friends that lost their elementary school age daughter.  These friends are not people that I am particularly close too, I haven't seen them in some time, however given the fact that we both suffered losses in 2013, we do share some common history.  Now please, do not for one second think that I am equating the loss of Joe to the loss of their daughter.  I don't have a child and can never fully understand how that feels just as they don't know the feeling of loosing a spouse (and I pray they never do).  We've never "measured" our losses against one another, but have simply said I'm so sorry for your loss.  But we do share a level of understanding when it comes to how others outside our "grief sphere" react to us, talk to us, expect things from us.  Since I don't want to assume that they would like their names on my blog, I'll just call the mom, "Nellie".  Nellie and I have communicated through email & Facebook for the past year and a half.  In many ways, our thought processes on grief and the expectations of others is very similar.  We share one very real and very common similarity.  We are both so very tired of smiling and pretending we are okay.  I've had that fake smile plastered on my face when in public for so long, I'm almost starting to forget what my real smile looks like.  Just once, I'd like for someone to instead of asking how I'm doing, just tell me not to pretend to be ok and if I want to just be myself, to meet them for coffee, a meal or a drink sometime.  That, I might actually climb out of bed for.  Nellie, if you're reading this, can you and me get together sometime to be real?  Hey, we might even be able to have a laugh after we stop crying.  So people, next time you see someone you haven't seen in a while or you see someone who has had some recent trials or tribulations, don't ask how they are.  Don't ask them anything.  Just tell them it is good to see them.  Answering questions is usually not high on the list of things they want to do, especially if you are just being polite and don't really have an hour or so to hear how they are really doing.

Meltdown in progress.  Joe, wherever you may be, please tell me what to do.

Alone.  Enough said.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Corporate 5 Days....Can It Happen?

Today was a good day.  Why you ask?  Step one of my "master plan" was put into real motion today.  Called to what we jokingly call the principal's office to discuss my future at work.  No trouble, all good.  Step one to opening the door to corporate 5 days a week is in the works!  YAY!!!

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Plea For Ministry to All

“No Caste in the Church of God”
Gilbert Haven, The Methodist Episcopal Church
Adopted by the New England Conference. March 30th, 1867.

"Three years ago we admitted to our membership a well known and able minister of our church, whose services in the local ranks made him popular and believed in many of our churches. But solely on account of his complexion, he could not be received by the charge he was sent, which even complained that its character had been damaged by having his name, only, thus officially connected with its own. No complaint was made of his abilities, which were unquestioned, and which, under other circumstances, they would have been proud and glad to have enjoyed as their own. They revolted from him solely because of the color of his skin. We do not say this to condemn them, but as a necessary ground for our appeal. They will yet be proud of having this first official connection of any white church in America with a colored minister. May it soon be renewed…

…We ask for his return, pledging ourselves to go upon circuits with him, if in no other way the churches could be induced to accept him as a pastor.

But the time has come, in our judgement, when a yet more broad and just course should be pursued. We do not plead for this or any other brother in particular, but for all those whom God has called to his ministry; whom you would gladly recommend, and we would gladly admit to our Conference. We plead for risen and rising men of power, that are now shut out from the full exercise of divinely given endowments by the prevalence of this most unchristian prejudice. We entreat you to open your hearts and consent to the opening of your pulpits to their official ministrations.

Our reasons for this entreaty are manifold. Be pleased to listen to a few of them:
First, The Spirit of the age demands it of us. Everywhere the chains of caste are falling. In India and England, in the South and the North man is beginning to see “brother” written in the face of him whom he lately loathed, and his heart is yearning towards him…Shall not our churches in their sphere be equally faithful and progressive? Shall we keep up barriers that are everywhere else disappearing?

Second. But we should do this because of its relations to our political duties. Our State has long since abolished all distinctions among its citizens of color…The United States is becoming equally true to principle, and in her late acts has completely abolished the whole iniquity of caste from national legislation. Shall the church wear these chains after the State has dropped them from her limbs? Shall she presume to look a minister of Christ in the face and reject him as her pastor, when the world around her will readily make him, its representative? If we would have any direct and ecclesiastical share in this divine work, we must hasten to avow our victory over this sin; our readiness to treat all of God’s ministers and people as one with us and one in the Lord.

Third. This is especially needed in view of our consistency as well as our relation to the work elsewhere. As a Conference, upheld, we rejoice to say, by our churches, for more than a generation we have plead with the church and the nation to abolish this iniquity of slavery. We have been in a minority often, and long, but have suffered and served till the church and the nation obeyed the voice of God and proclaimed his law. To-day we have been equally earnest in imploring the church to disregard all distinctions among her members and ministers based on color; to abolish separate Conferences, schools and churches; to fully and faithfully recognize and act up to the most evident will of God written in his word, in the hearts of his disciples, in the history of his church…

Fourth. But, lastly, the Spirit of God demands that we do this duty because of the brethren whom he has called to his ministry, and the souls he has filled with his salvation. They are trammeled and oppressed by our unbrotherliness…Put yourself in the place of these brethren. Bear their burdens in your feelings, thankful that you may thus fulfill the law of love. How would you feel if having been called of God to preach, knowing that it was not from men nor by men, but from the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father, if when you begin to fulfill your ministry, multitudes of your brethren, church upon churches should look with loathing upon you because of certain characteristics give you by God?…Such has been, such is their condition. So have they been hated and cast out by their brethren. So have their hearts been riven with anguish unutterable. The times of our ignorance God hardly winked at. Our dread chastisement was its legitimate punishment; and now every ear hears him call us everywhere to repent. Will you enable us to show our repentance by hastening to do the most just and brotherly work of welcoming all these ministers as our own believed kindred, like Christ himself, of our own body, of our flesh, of our bones? Will you assure our Presiding Elders that you are willing to accept brethren of this hue as your pastors? Ministers of talent, attainments and piety are waiting the opening of this door.

Will you respond to this request of God, spoken in your conscience, spoken by his angel in the ear of all his churches, and invite them to come in? So doing, the Master who is with them will enter as never before into our temples and hearts…"

A different time.  Different situation. Yet strikenly similar and resonates today. UMC, end your prejudice and bigotry. Change the Discipline.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

45 Days Until Christmas

It is so hard to believe that Christmas is just a month and a half away.  2 weeks from now is Thanksgiving.  Good news, Thanksgiving week I have 2 days off (that makes a 4 day weekend), then I work for 2 weeks and have a week off (still have 1 week of vacation left and will spend it at Lake Lure, NC), then after returning to work on Dec. 22, I work a 3 day week, then the next week a 4 day week.  Not bad.  All total, between now and the end of the year I have 10 extra days off!  YAY!!!!!

On the other side of the coin, my GI issues continue.  I've seen doctors about it and have a diagnosis and treatment.  I guess that actually qualifies as good news too.  I've felt better the last couple of weeks since taking the new medication.  That should qualify for a yay too, so YAY!!!!!  Work has been good as well, although slower than I like as it can make for long days.  I also made decisions about some of the things that have been causing me stress and have eliminated what I can.  Progress, right?  YAY!!!!!  Now I just need the self motivation to start working out again.  How did I do it last year?  Was it just wanting to not be fat that did it?  Should I just start eating a lot more and put some pounds back on so I can self motivate?  I think that might be a little on the counterproductive side of the coin.

I went to see the mother-in-law last weekend and had a very nice visit.  We sat and talked for hours and hours after lunch (and during lunch).  I stayed until after dinner and then made my trek back to Durham.

My Twitter feed has been on fire since the "Finding Our Way" webcast.  I've made lots of new FB friends and gotten a lot more Twitter followers.  Nice to know that there are people out there that share some of the same opinions and thought processes about topics that matter to me.

My real question of the night is this...."Do I put up the Christmas decorations, even the limited version that I did last year, this year?"  Anyone that knows me well knows that I hate putting up a Christmas tree.  That was a Joe thing.  That is why we always had 2 trees.  He loved the trees.  My feeling is that it just takes too much time and effort.  Especially on the taking down end.  Last year I just put up the metal "Cary tree" that we bought 10 years ago.  It comes in 4 pieces and takes 10 minutes to put up.  I put one tea light on each "branch" and called it a day.  Very simple, but was the best I could do given the circumstances.  I put the other decorations around the house, like I always have done.  So do I make myself put the Cary tree up?  It's pretty, but AARRRRRGH....I'm lazy and not motivated.  Can someone send me some Christmas spirit??  If that's asking too much, how about some Thanksgiving spirit?  I could probably work with that.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Family redefined - Luke 8

Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” But he said to them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” (Luke 8:19-21 NRSV)

When I read Jesus’ words in Luke 8 about his mother and brothers, I think Wow, harsh.  That is not typically what you say when your family shows up.  How do you feel if your family shows up unannounced?  Over the years mine learned simply not to.  Most of us would overreact in some way, but we expect more from Jesus.  He seems to dismiss them outright.
But I think what Jesus is really doing is redefining the word family.  He says to the crowd my mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it. Those who are part of God’s family are related in a deeper way than those in our earthly families.  This idea about family continues later in Luke 8 when a woman touches the wings of Jesus’ garment.  He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” (Luke 8:48 NRSV)  He also changes her name from woman in verse 43 and 47 to daughter in verse 48.  She was no longer an anonymous woman in the crowd. When Jesus addresses her she becomes daughter.  She becomes a relative!  No longer a generic woman, but a specific daughter.

I wonder when we see people do we see generic people? Or can we challenge ourselves to look deeper?  What if we began to see the people around us as sons and daughters of God no matter what their circumstances are?  Would that not make for a more familial society in general?