Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Short day

Now that I am working Saturdays more regularly I need to take a "short day" during the week. We aren't allowed overtime, so if we work the 5 hours on Saturday, that means there is one day during the week where we only need to work 3 hours. Today is that day for me.

I also "get to" go in and work the last 3 hours, instead of opening and being done after 3. That was my choice. I would much rather have the morning off and just work 2:30-5:30 than work 9:30 am to 12:30. I like being able to get up slowly and ease into the day. That's what I did today.

I intended to go watch the granddaughter practice baseball, but didn't get out of bed in time. So instead I just read through news and articles online. Then I meditated for awhile (and fell asleep). After that I did a 45-minute run on the treadmill. I like being able to start my day like that. It reminds me of the summer I was on sabbatical.

Now I need to head off to work. I will spend an hour on the road to work 3 hours. But I don't mind. If I could afford it I could handle working 3 hours every day. :)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Weekend, ribfest, fathers day, and so forth

Well, here it is Monday again. This seemed like a long weekend for some reason - what with having two whole days off and everything. I am fairly wiped out today though.

I suppose part of the length can be attributed to Fort Wayne's Ribfest @ Headwaters Park. It has always been my favorite of all the festivals. This year I think I am taking away that designation though. The music has taken a real downturn in recent years. The bands no longer seem to be all blues oriented, and the sound quality is just atrocious. I actually sent them a message the other night. It is simply way too loud for the quality of system they are running it through. I've no problem with loud music - I even LIKE IT when you can feel it in your chest - but this is all high end noise, so it just grates between your eardrums. I think it's the company they use, because I've heard plenty of concerts at Headwaters and they are not all like that.

At any rate, we went to Ribfest both Thursday night and pretty much most of the day yesterday. Thursday we paid too much for pulled pork sandwiches for supper and then stayed and listened to music for as long as we could stand it. Sunday we went for lunch right after church, and ended up eating supper as well. The weather was nice and it didn't seem like the music was as loud at first. The Feipel five showed up in the afternoon, and then some friends joined us in the evening. We didn't plan to stay for 7 hours, it just sort of happened. I even had to borrow some money from the daughter at one point. So we were pretty well spend by the time we got home last night and went to bed at 9:30.

Friday night we went out to eat at the newly opened 07 Pub (2nd time) and then just went home. Saturday we did the usual trek to the downtown library to listen to free live music. It rained on us briefly but we just took shelter under a tree for a bit and then it turned into a beautiful evening.

Sunday we gathered for worship and bible study. Jane is in the women's study and I am in the "open" study - both before the worship gathering. There aren't very many in my class. Usually the pastor teaches it, but he was leading singing yesterday so they had the new intern lead it. James is from England. He and his wife and 10-month old are in the States for the first time for the 5-week internship. They seem like a really nice couple. He also preached during the worship gathering. On another note, Jane was asked if she would be part of the group to alternate doing the prayer time on Sunday mornings. I think she will be good at it. To be honest though... I kind of felt a little left out that I wasn't asked. It's not a big thing, and I really don't mind, but sometimes I feel like maybe all the negative voices are right about me and I really can't do anything church-wise anymore; maybe I am crazy after all. I don't know. I'm trying not to think about it. I probably wanted to be asked more than I really want to do it anyway.

Father's Day is always an odd day for me. My dad and I have never had a very good relationship. It's awkward for me as well. But, I appreciated the bottle of Monkey Shoulder scotch Jane got me. It was nice seeing the Feipel's Saturday and Sunday. Son Isaac called late Sunday night as well. I feel blessed.

All in all it was a pretty good weekend. It's the first Father's Day weekend in a long time that I haven't run a race though. I wish I were running. I miss it. It just seems like so much work anymore. I do the treadmill from time to time. I wish I could get motivated to run outside again. I haven't done so one time this year - and it's almost July!

Well, it looks like a storm is rolling in as I type this. Better buckle down the hatches, or however the saying goes. Until later...

Friday, June 16, 2017

The reformation, vocation, and hints of hope

I am still marveling my way through Tish Harrison Warren's lively little book 'Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life.' It continues to be good and I'm enjoying the read.

In chapter 7, entitled "Checking Email" she discusses an issue that has been at the top of my memory stack lately. I struggle with Christians who compartmentalize their faith. You know, they're super-duper-Jesus-y while at church or when talking about church, but they operate completely different at work and elsewhere. This is one of my struggles where I work and I haven't been able to put into words how I feel to the person I'm having this issue with. So it was interesting to me when I stumbled into this chapter.

I thought this ditty regarding the reformation especially insightful. I don't believe I've seen it put quite like this before. P.90...
"We often understand the Protestant Reformation as a conflict about doctrine. Justification. Grace versus works. Ecclesiology. Indulgences. And it was. But what captured the imagination of the commoners in Europe during the Reformation was not only the finer points of doctrine, but the earthy notion of vocation. The idea that all good work is holy work was revolutionary. The Reformation toppled a vocational hierarchy that had placed monks, nuns, and priests at the top and everyone else below. The Reformers taught that a farmer may worship God by being a good farmer and that a parent changing diapers could be as near to Jesus as the pope. This was scandal."

Over on p. 94 she then mixes in some thoughts from Peterson on vocational holiness and lays down these two tracks:
"We can't be holy in the abstract. Instead we become a holy blacksmith or a holy mother or a holy physician or a holy systems analyst. We seek God in and through our particular vocation and place in life.
"Our task is not to somehow inject God into our work but to join God in the work he is already doing in and through our vocational lives."

Yes!

On the next page is this beautiful quip from Steven Garber (from his book 'Visions of Vocation' p. 189):
"In the daily rhythms for everyone everywhere, we live our lives in the marketplaces of this world: in homes and neighborhoods, in schools and on farms, in hospitals and businesses, and our vocations are bound up with the ordinary work that ordinary people do. We are not great shots across the bow of history; rather, by simple grace, we are hints of hope."

Wow! I love that last line:
"We are not great shots across the bow of history;
rather, by simple grace, we are hints of hope."

I will stop with one of the highlights the author brought out in the book:
"These are the small tasks in which we live out God's blessing and into which we are sent; we are blessed and sent into the real ways that we spend our hours."

Amen.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Just sayin'


Sometimes it's exhausting being me. What with all the contradiction and conundrum, I can literally wear myself out and never leave the confines of my mind.

I've never much cared for that saying, "Just sayin'." I don't know if it's the meaning it insinuates - or it could just be someone I know who uses it all the time and I'm not all that fond of them. At any rate, that's what I'm calling this post.

I hate when I put up posts like the last one (Tuesday). There was a day when I would have removed it by now, or at least thought about it. I don't put things on my blog to worry people, and I try real hard not to be too passive aggressive (even though I come by that quite honestly). Many times I will write "difficult" posts days after the actual fact. It's more a recording of history for my own personal posterity. Other times I'm honestly doing it just to try to work through the "stuff." That's what happened with this last one. As soon as I hit "Publish" I started to feel better. It's been a gradual 'bettering' but I am making progress. Well, until the next meltdown anyway.

So, I guess I say all this just to say to the few who may peruse by here on occasion that... sometimes I'm just sayin' stuff. Sometimes it may be good stuff; sometimes bad; I suppose it could occasionally be hurtful or less than kind... But my hope is that it's always real and raw and honest.

I'm not really a nice person. I don't like that, because I really WANT to be a nice person. Sometimes I just do stupid things though and later on I realize how unkind I was.

I don't feel like I've ever been very good to my parents either, and right now I'm feeling some guilt and shame at not being there for them when they need me. Not that they need me, per se, but they need someone. This has been a lifelong battle for me. I've always hated how they treated me like such a "child." Yet now that I need to be grown-up, I can't seem to muster it.

My job is no different. There are parts of it that frustrate the snot out of me, but I also know it would be the same anywhere I worked or regardless of what I did.

I've said many times, I'm probably not complicated... just difficult. I'm even more difficult when I'm pushed or cornered into meeting unrealistic expectations - even if I'm the only one with them. If I don't have enough "alone time," or if I have too much time to myself, I can start to wear thin and all sorts of gross oozes forth from within me. It's not pretty, nor enjoyable.

So I think what I need is to work toward a more simple life. I need a lot of structure. With only a handful of responsibilities. It's not that I can't be disciplined or depended on, but there is a limit and I really need to guard that limit.

I suppose ultimately though, probably my biggest problem is just letting go. I don't like to lose control. I don't like to be OUT OF control. It takes awhile for me to recover from that. That's kind of what happened earlier this week. My body is still recovering physically as well as emotionally.

And, so, there you have it. A bunch of words here that don't really say anything - at least anything that anyone who knows me probably didn't already know. I'm fighting with my fears, and that can be difficult for a pacifist. Especially a wimpy shy passive-aggressive with a bent toward self-destructive sabotage. So what do I do? I write about it on a blog that no one reads. Thus... I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Help my unbelief


Yesterday I sort of went off the deep end. I'm still waiting to surface. I hate it when this happens. When I lose control; go into a fit of rage; and am then just completely cashed for rest of the night. Often a good nights sleep will suffice to set things aright. A brisk walk or run doesn't hurt. Apparently not this time.

I'd had a great Sunday. It seems I usually do. My Monday started off well too. I don't really even remember what caused the wheels to fall off. Yes, there was the jerk customer. And work continues to be a chore to deal with. But those things aren't really the problem.

The times this happens it reminds me of a very bad place I used to be. I have vague memories but I can't see it. I don't know if it's because I've blocked it out or if it's just my 'magination. But I know it's a place I don't want to go, and sometimes it scares me when I near it. It makes me think there's no coming back. It comes with a hopeless and helpless feeling that in my mind seems like drowning must be, or being caught in a house-fire engulfed by flames. It hurts but there's no pain... or something like that.

Anyway, someone shared the story Sunday about the time Peter walked on water. Then he looked at the waves and started to sink. The idea was that as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus he was able to rise above. So I thought about that this morning - keeping my eyes on Jesus. It occurred to me... I'm not really sure how that works. I don't know that I KNOW what Jesus looks like. Have I ever seen him before? Would I know him if I saw him? What exactly does he look like? How does anyone know???

The church is a nice idea, I suppose. But it's a really fucked up thing as far as I can tell. I don't understand it. I don't know if I ever have, or if anyone ever has, for that matter. I've believed in it before; I like the idea of it; I even like it most of the time just the way it is. So why can't I see Jesus? Why can't I know what to do? Why can't I control my temper when work sucks and it's hot and there's road construction all over the goddamn place and I drive home from work almost wishing I had a gun so I could shoot the idiot traffic that gets in my way and.... then I start to sink. I hate when the numbness sets in and my head goes dark. The eyes begin to hollow and I can't tell if I'm awake or not. "Come to me all who are weary..." Where? How? Who said that?

I debated whether to even come to work this morning... or ever again. Of course, when I arrived, the AC has apparently went out and it was 85F inside my office. I called the repairman, went to the bank, dinked around outside, but it's really hot and muggy. So I'm sitting here with the doors and windows open, sweating, and pretty much staring at the corkboard on the back side of the counter. I don't care. I don't think I CAN care. And my mind wanders to the title of a friends blog: "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief." It's in the bible somewhere. There's a nice story that goes along with it.

After a pause of... nothingness... I am reminded of this story in Frost & Hirsch's book 'ReJesus.' They are describing an imaginary meeting between Peter and Paul. Old friends road-weary and worn from ministry and disappointment. They meet in a restaurant and on p. 193 is this:
And so it goes. Two tired men sharing back and forth, recounting stories of new cells in Asia Minor, new converts in Europe, new developments in Greece.

Finally Paul says, "Peter, I'm not sure when I'll see you again..."

"You say that every time we get together."

"I know, and it's always true. But in case our paths never cross again, can you tell me about him one more time."

Peter smiles sadly, "Oh, Paul, you've heard me tell you those stories a million times. You tell them yourself better than I do."

Paul leans forward toward his friend, "Comrade, I've been beaten, abandoned, betrayed, shipwrecked, and left for dead. It's hard to think of a cell I've planted that isn't in the grip of some crisis, personal or doctrinal. I'm not well. I'm often hungry. And, well, according to some of my friends, I look like an old man. The revolution is unfolding, slowly but surely. Ah, the things we've seen. But at times it feels arduous. I long for the Lord as the watchman longs for the end of night. And there are times when I wonder whether these small, struggling cells we're planting will become the movement we dreamed of. Yes, I do wonder. Even after all I've seen and done. All we've seen and done..."

Then he fixes his eyes firmly on Peter's and says, pleading, "Tell me again."

...