Monday blogging

>> Monday, March 30, 2009

Despite most of the world feeling that the best day of the week is Friday, I have recently realized that I look forward to Mondays most. This is because all of my week's homework is due at midnight Sunday night, and I spend all week slacking off and all day Sunday wringing myself ragged speed-writing papers. Monday morning brings the blessed relief of "well, it's too late now" and six days of slacking ahead of me.

Unfortunately, my current class ends with a bang in the form of a blogging project, and it ends on Easter Sunday night, so I'll be out of town most of that week. Our Application assignments each week have been to write a "blog post" (really a regular academic paper, as that's how she grades it) on some aspect of children's health, and then in the final week we are to revise each week's work and create a health blog, with each weeks' paper being one post. I have a great many personal opinions regarding this project which I will be keeping to myself until my grades are in. Just in case.

When it comes to blogging, I have a fault: I simply can not just use the provided templates. I have two blogs already, besides this school project, and I spent hours seeking out and tweaking non-blogger-provided templates, grabbing one someone else made up and changing margins and colors and images (with no XML experience, just changing numbers randomly and hitting 'preview' to see what it did, which is why it takes so long). I decided to poke around and see what I could come up with for class even though it's not due for another two weeks, and I'm glad I did. I started putzing with it around 11:00 this morning, and just decided to quit for the night now that I'm satisfied with the general layout.

After all that work, I just don't see the point of stopping with five Application paper posts, so after class is done I may just use it as a place to ramble on about my schoolwork and what I'm learning. Though this class seems to focus on physical health under the heading of "Child, Safety, Health and Nutrition", everything that I've learned (and rambled on about) so far has to do with the health level of a child in some area of development. And I can't see the point of a 5-post blog. I'd hate to think I just wasted an entire Monday laying out a blog for 2% of my grade.

Right now the blog is under construction, but if anyone wants to give me feedback, feel free. It's here. Please don't comment on that blog, put it in here. Thanks.

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Road Blocks*

>> Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tuesday was one of those days that conspired against us in very subtle ways. I honestly don't quite remember what I actually did, but through some weird combination of blood sugar imbalance, PMS, and lack of proper sleep, I suffered some sort of weird spacial disturbance where I kept dropping things or I would go to set something on a table and miss by a quarter of an inch. The sort of thing where I'd spill something, and then in the process of trying to clean up the cat would walk in it, and I'd grab the paper towels, drop them, grab them firmly, knock over a dish on the counter with them, finally get them to the table, wipe the mess too quickly for it to absorb and thus pushing it onto the floor.... that kind of thing. Little frustrations all day.

We had our Anglican Communion/Adult Confirmation class in the evening, and something seemed very determined to have us be late. I made dinner just fine, utilizing the microwave, and we ate and cleaned up and then started packing up things to go. We were both irritated, and Lanse decided to make tea to take, and the microwave made this horrible noise... but kept running, so he let it run for a minute, but the water was still cold. So the microwave was dead. Long live the microwave. I boiled some water on the stove and he had his tea; he went out to the car while I ran to the bathroom... and the toilet wouldn't flush. At that point it became obvious something didn't want us to leave, so I said screw that, and we left anyway. When we got home, the toilet worked fine. Unfortunately the microwave really was broken.

Yesterday was much better, we had a nice long deep conversation about personal faults and no one got mad, and we figured out how we could go buy a new microwave. And then we did. It's about the same size (slightly smaller inside, but by like... 1/10 of a cubic inch) but it's glossy black and makes a huge visual black hole in my kitchen. I'm seriously considering getting white appliance paint to make it match. But the biggest concerns were size, proper buttons, and price, and this had pretty much what we wanted. Then we meandered our way home and I did homework and played more pirate game and went to bed.

Today has been better. Lanse is away at a work event, so I have the day to myself and I'm really not doing anything different, but I'm enjoying it all being just mine (and the cats') anyway. I'll probably do some beadwork, pretend to study, do more piratey stuff, read for Bible Study tomorrow, and write more blog post on spiritual issues that I'm learning at class.

So stay tuned!

*No idea why I called this Road Blocks but I still feel like it fits, so there ya have it.

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Birds

>> Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Taking turns in the birdbath this morning:

  • 4 or 5 Sparrows
  • a House Finch
  • 2 Tufted Titmouses (Titmice? They're newly arrived and really pretty. I hope they stay.)
  • female Cardinal
Watching from nearby:
  • 2 male Cardinals, occasionally chasing each other off
  • 2 Blue Jays
  • male Bluebird, who's never far from his family so they're probably watching too.
I love my back yard.

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I was drawn by Ursula Vernon - a dream

>> Monday, March 23, 2009

The land was flat and covered with trees, except for the part I was standing in which was a long clear section somewhat like a golf fairway. At the far end of the clearing was a tall hill with a foreboding dark and pointy castle on the top. The skies were unnaturally dark, like when it's just about to storm and it's nearly dusk anyway, so it's this eerie darkness you can sort of see through but not really. An evil ruler had just taken the throne and was doing something dastardly, but I didn't know what.

What I did know was that all the creatures of the land were happily frolicking along, heading towards the ocean. It was exciting, all my friends running along, as though they were just going for a day at the beach. I went along too, but then the ocean was nearer than it had been, and kept crawling closer, up over the land. The other creatures didn't seem to realize that the water was already here and kept running ahead through it to get to where the ocean should have been, and they went in over their heads and didn't come up. As the water lapped my feet I realized that the evil ruler was planning to drown the world while he was safe on the hill and start it all over again. I turned and began running towards the hill...

...and then there was a mirror...

...and the world went wobbly, like looking through very old glass...

...and I was standing in a bright white hallway with old gray formica flooring. It was finally bright enough for me to get an idea of what kind of creature I was. I had some round bits, with one long leg right in the middle, and then two really long ankle kind of things came off the end of it and I had two very large webbed feet. I also had a long, round, wobbly - and yellow - trunk of some sort. And possibly knobbly antennae. I was colored like a Dr. Seuss character but I knew without a doubt that I was drawn by Ursula Vernon, and I did not match my surroundings at all. There was a wide floor standing mirror behind me, which faded away as I watched. It was still there, but it wasn't; like it'd be there if it was needed. If I came back.

A human lady came around the corner and stopped short. She had brown bobbed hair, wore a long white lab coat and carried a clipboard. She said, "Hello! Who're you?" very kindly, and invited me to follow her to her office. As we entered the hall she'd come from, I noticed she was was walking somewhat... carefully... and looking around a lot. Suddenly, a door opened and a middle-aged gruff looking man stopped short in the doorway. He had glasses and a lab coat like the lady's, and was very tall and solid with rumpled graying hair. The sort of man you don't want to argue with. He took one look at me and said to the woman, "Grab it! What is it?? It's a... demon-thing! We've got to take it to the lab!" With a squeal and turn on my heel, I dove around the corner and back through the mirror.

I was in a different part of the clearing, where the castle looked the same distance away but the water hadn't quite reached me yet. Rather, the water had nearly reached me, but both the water and I were nearer to the center of what remained of the world. It was very quiet. I knew there wasn't much time left, if I hadn't already lost it all. I also realized that there was nothing that one small creature could do here; I couldn't climb up to the castle and challenge the evil ruler who had magic and power with just my webbed feet and wobbly trunk and knobby antennae and disagreement on my mind. I'd be blasted to cinders in an instant... if I was even accorded the time of day to begin with. I knew that the answer to saving my world was through that mirror... in that other place. I turned back to the mirror and went through.

The building was deserted; my hallway was lit with the same strange flourescent bulbs but some connecting hallways had been locked down and darkened. I peeked down the connecting hallway I'd been in earlier, and the nice lady scientist darted quickly out of a door with her arms full of papers. She'd been watching for me, and she was ready. "Quick!" she hissed... "We've got to get you out of here!"

We made a mad dash for the lobby doors and came out onto a sidewalk with occasional passers by who, for some reason, saw nothing unusual about a three dimensional cartoon drawing walking around their city. Two cars were pulled up to the curb, both run down... a dark green truck and a dirty red four door convertable of some sort. They were full of guys in their early 20s, of the 'cowboys without manners' type, and were clearly in on lady scientist's getaway plan. She shoved me towards the pickup saying, "Get in!" As she climbed into the convertable, I heard her say, "Quick! Go! Her world is dying, we have to save it!"

How did she know...?

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Food thoughts, again

Ood Steak
First, a food related photo for Doctor Who fans. The sign's said this for at least six months, but I finally just stopped to get the photo:



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Onion tears
I cry when I cut onions. I'm pretty sure everyone does, since there seems to be a whole universe dedicated to various methods of onion-tear-prevention. Both of my parents cried cutting onions. What everyone failed to tell me is that they cry because it hurts. I think that was a mean trick.

We've recently discovered the joy packaged in green onions, which I've been putting on almost everything I cook. But cutting them has become such a horrible experience that I've had to plan ahead. Here's what I've discovered:
  • I do not cry until I actually touch the cut part of the onion. I've managed to fine dice an entire stalk of green onions without touching onion juice and I did not cry. In the last few months I've only managed to do that once though; it's hard to hold the onions steady enough by the knife to cut them without touching them.
  • Once I cry, there's oils involved with my eyes. I have to have 1: a paper towel to wipe my hands; 2: a shirt to wipe my eyes once the oil's off my hands; and 3: a fabric of the sort that cleans glasses well.
  • My eyelashes are long, and even after I cough or sneeze and my eyes water, they tend to streak my lenses. After chopping onions, my lenses are so splattered and streaked with oils that even if I could see through tears I couldn't see.
Onion tears summarized: Plan ahead. We don't bother with whole white onions because we only eat about half of it before it goes bad or dries out, we don't use it enough. Green onions are great because I can chop up one stalk at a time if I really want to and the rest will keep for a bit. However, I hate doing it and so I've decided that every time I want to cut onions, I will cut twice as much as I need so that the next time I don't have to. I just made a chicken wrap for lunch and only needed a pinch of green onions, but I chopped up three stems to have for later, since I was going to cry anyway. Figured I'd make it count for something more than one chicken wrap.

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Grapefruit Meditation
I've posted before about grapefruit, it's a fruit that really fascinates me in flavor and juiciness and the subtle balance of tart and sweet in the perfectly ripe grapefruit. But what I hadn't realized before this week was the emotional importance that grapefruit holds for me.

Most people have routines or rituals that they probably wouldn't identify as such but which come out as "just the way it is done". There are so many little ways especially done in the kitchen. I was taught that, while you can just forcefully scoop grapefruit out of the sections and eat it, the best way (if you have time) is to actually cut the sections with a knife so as to not miss any juicy goodness. When I was at the women's retreat, a friend saw me cutting out each section of grapefruit and helpfully demonstrated a faster and more effective method of using the grapefruit knife. I didn't mind - at the time I was hungry - but it began to bother me, like I'd missed something important and I didn't know why. I realized that somehow over the years grapefruit eating has become a centering and meditative practice for me. I've developed a routine in which I carefully cut around each section (in order, counter-clockwise), eat each section (again, in the same direction), and then I go around again through each section with my spoon to scrape out any bits that I missed with the knife. Finally, I squeeze the grapefruit carefully into my spoon and eat the juice; repeat until the grapefruit is wrung dry. Any seeds I removed as I ate go back into the grapefruit remains to head to the trash.

In order to get as much grapefruit out, I have to be intentional and focus on each section at a time. I concentrate on the angle of the knife and keeping rind and section membranes from the parts I want to eat. It centers me, focuses my mind, and ends in a blissful taste of heaven. It's meditation with immediate purpose and gratification, and I sense that it's somehow a microcosm for the process of meditation in a general sense. I'm still trying to find the words to explain that thought. But I know it's true for me, because many grapefruits have gone rotten in my refridgerator during stressful times when I make the choice not to eat one because I haven't got the time, or I just don't want to face what may surface if I slow down long enough to carefully section one.

Why bother putting this much intent into eating fruit? Well, if I just quickly hack away at it and gobble it up, I'll most likely be wasting food and the joy of flavor... and that's just not done!

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Fasting and Blood Sugar
Our last two sermons have focused on or mentioned the discipline of fasting. One thing that both priests mentioned was that one of the spiritual side effects or a possible purpose of fasting is that when you're hungry all your bad traits tend to come to the surface, like anger and irritability and pride, not to mention any emotional issues you have relating to food itself. They indicated that fasting is one tool God uses to bring us to a point of dealing with those aspects of our personality.

These sermons came at the same time that I was studying about nutrition and diabetes and other things like that. Fasting or not, when my blood sugar crashes I get angry and irritable and pissed off that I can't handle this stuff (pride?). These emotional responses are offical symptoms of hypoglycemia and low glucose levels. While these are (or can be) serious medical conditions and should be treated as such, and folks with these conditions should work closely with their doctors when considering a religious fast, I find contemplating the ties between the topics very interesting. I'd already been wondering about the link between food and emotional response, but hadn't thrown the spiritual into that mix.

I bet God did that on purpose.

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Paradigm Shift

>> Thursday, March 19, 2009

Every time I think of the word 'paradigm' I relive the Salad Years skit from my Wheaton days. Salad Years was the student TV show, and one skit was two people imitating the Sesame Street two-headed monster doing a compound word thing. They did 'paradigm', except instead of 'para-dime' they said 'para-diggum'. It was amusing. I think you had to be there.

("para"...."diggum"...."para"...."diggum"...."PARADIGGUM!" "hey, there goes my dignity!")

Looovely.

And also very off-track.

Anyway, yesterday morning the phone woke me up, which is never a good way to start any day. But the weather was nice, and aside from being groggy I was mostly pleasant. The phone call was Frances from the mortgage company calling to verify when would be a good time to schedule closing on our refinance. She said she was spending the day filling out the forms for us and we'd probably close Thursday (today) or Friday afternoon. This was about... 9:30. OK, great, we've been waiting for a closing date for a month now. Fantastic!

I go about the morning, doing my morning things, and get ready to settle into schoolwork after lunch. The phone rings, and Frances tells me that not only can we not close on the refinance, but our home didn't even qualify for that loan in the first place. The loan officer was supposed to have checked our property values in their database, which apparently he didn't; so the only way we could continue is if we have a minimum of 10K out of pocket to bring with us. So not cool. So the refinance is cancelled, we're trying to see if we can get our non-refundable application fee (minus the assessment cost) back because the guy should have known we couldn't apply for it. We haven't heard back yet.

While I was finishing up on the phone with Frances (and trying not to throw my phone through the screen on the porch) our adoption case worker beeped in. She called back when I was off the phone, just to tell us that the homestudy she promised would be done by either last or this Friday hadn't been started yet. I'm not upset, there's good reasons, but I'm disappointed. Check the adoption blog for more details on that call.

So. Two upsetting and potentially life-changing things; but really it was a matter that in both cases we'd spent the last weeks or months anticipating a more comfortable and responsible moving-forward kind of life. I spent the rest of the day making calls and rearranging our financial goals and realigning my mental concepts of the near future. And relaying this all to Lanse, who was none-too-pleased as I was but processes things differently. It was an... interesting... rest of the day. Aside from a discussion reply or two, schoolwork wasn't part of it. But Lanse allowed an attack of Demon Housekeeper and stress-cleaned the main living areas and our bedroom, a quality of his in which I am very pleased. I just wish stress didn't have to be the trigger.

Some positive things happened though too. I wrapped up loose ends on the property tax snafu, and we actually can pay our mortgage and live off our income "comfortably" (in quotes, because we personally don't need much to feel comfortable; others would find our budget restrictive) and I finally got our March-April budget sorted out. We don't need the refinance to afford the house, and that's a huge sigh of relief.

That said, a little bit extra would be a great thing so we can start paying down some loans, so I'm wanting to put a little more focus in the concept of an Etsy shop with my quilting and jewelry stuff. I'm hoping to get the beading ladies at the game store to teach me some cool stuff that I can sell or give with Christmas in mind. Christmas took a big chunk out of our December budget last year, so anything I can do ahead would be good.

And then there's always schoolwork. Sigh. I suppose I should get to it.

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Right now...

>> Monday, March 16, 2009

There is no breeze, a very uncommon thing on a cool overcast day on the coast. The windows are open and the house is filled with a fresh and slightly damp smell of spring. Over the last two days a soft rain has fallen in ten minute increments every couple of hours. The warm orange glow of the lamp and the purring love of a cat somehow makes the battle of budget creation a little more palatable. I doubt that anything could make financial organization warm and fuzzy, but if it could be done, this would be the right mood for it.

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Smoke

I am completely in love with the flavor of smoke. I rediscovered Smoky Sharp Cheddar cheese and realized that what I crave in cheese, meat, barbeque sauce... you name it (except maybe baked goods)... is a rich smoke flavor. So if you ever decide to gift me with food, there's a tip.

Just thought I'd share.

I also just realized that 'smoke' is one of those words that look really strange after a short bit.

Smoke.

Smoke smoke smoke smoke.

See?

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Ode to Cow (not for vegetarians)

>> Sunday, March 15, 2009

In our last episode, I was waxing philosophical on one thing or another, I don't quite remember now. Since then, I worked on week 1 of new term's homework, went on our 10th anniversary 5-star resort weekend from Thurs-Saturday morning, got the stomach flu from Sat evening through Monday (no, it wasn't food poisoning), did more homework, suffered emotional drama over adoption issues (internal, no news yet), and played a lot of Puzzle Pirates. I am willing to delve into more detail on any of those events, and may yet do so (though I'll hold off on flu details, as I hope to keep my few readers), but it's 10:30 p.m. and I can't think straight.

So until that time, I will leave you with the following brief prayer that sprang to mind at our hamburger lunch and left us rolling in sacrilegious laughter (we didn't actually pray this, it was at the end of the meal. I don't think God minded, since we really were grateful):

Thank you, Lord, for yummy food
Thank you, Lord, for food that mooed

Thank you, Lord, for ketchup sweet
I will put it on my meat.

Amen.

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A baffling blessing...

>> Wednesday, March 4, 2009

For the first time in years... possibly even decades... this particular most amazing thing happened to me today: I walked out of the house to buy some jeans, drove to a store, walked to the children's department, tried on crop jeans, found five (5!) that fit, bought three, and went home.

I got blue jeans with butterflies (butterflies seem to be really in this year), some darker blue denim with a cuff that looks like these with a different belt (teal with a big butterfly buckle), and a dressy black blue jean with dark gold stitching and a gold sequined belt. They don't have that one on the website.

Those of you who know me personally will understand why this is so incredibly amazing. Clothes shopping (when it's needed on a schedule, and I haven't just accidentally run across something) is humiliating torment for me that typically takes two to three weeks of repeated and severe self-esteem beatings while going to store after store after store. Today's experience is, frankly, unheard of.

Plus: with the sale prices that started today and clearance, these three pair listed at $32/pair totaled to a whopping $47. All 5 would have cost almost $160 without sales, and with them rang up to $76. I really wish we'd had that available, but even the $47 is stretching it.

Lord, thank you, and please provide overwhelming blessings for the person who invented capri pants. Or crop pants, or what I guess they're now calling dusters or something like that. They're all the same idea, and they fit. Amen.

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Labels

>> Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Through the weekend, Jo used stories of women in the Bible to discuss what God intended women - us - to be. On Saturday she covered Rachel and Leah from the book of Genesis, specifically from Ch. 29: "17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful." The point here was how labels given to a person can be either simple explanations or identity defining things. These labels on Leah and Rachel proved to be so defining of their self-esteem and identity that it sculpted everything that we are able to see of their lives and their children's lives, resulting in Rachel's son Joseph saving the Israelites from starvation.

When we got into our groups, the assignment was to identify our own labels. Once done, she asked us (no response required) to think about whether they were healthy or unhealthy, and whether or not they played a fundamental role in our personal identity and self-esteem.

The strange thing is that the only labels I could think of that I knew and that were placed on me by others were from my childhood and teenage years. [I will insert here that there are labels given directly by others such as "this is my shy/tomboy/pretty/smart child", labels given by society based on things like where you live or wear, and labels that can be assigned to yourself inside your own head that represent what you think of yourself. In our group we only discussed those labels placed on us by other individuals.] I know exactly who I was understood to be when I was younger, and I think they were mostly good things: outgoing, friendly, self-accepting, resilient, smart, resourceful, talkative, perhaps a bit naive. I've heard all these things lately from people describing me back then.

But then Jo made the point, what happens when "the happy one" has a bad day, "the introvert" who speaks slowly has something to say, or "the smart one" fails a test? What happens when the outgoing, self-accepting, smart, and resilient person feels suddenly abandoned and terrified, experiences PTSD and depression, fails out of school, and begins to realize how angry she is about herself?

What happens is (following some therapy and family support, God's sudden neon-sign pointing to a purpose, and truck-loads of prayer) you get Me, right now. But for whatever reason, I have absolutely no idea what people see me as now. I have no concept of what labels I may or may not have picked up since I was the me I used to be. Whether that's because I'm much more cautious now (a label?) or just because I've been a lot less social in the last few years and not many people know me, I really don't know. But the last time I was able to define myself in concrete terms appears to be Freshman year of college. And frankly, that's really disturbing. I tend to be a very concrete thinker in general, and I feel like if I can't define myself concretely I must be shades of gray... which somehow feels not too far from fading out entirely.

I'm glad that Jo said that labels can be healthy as well as unhealthy. As much as I dislike being placed into a mental box or category and all the expectations that come with it, labels can help clarify and define a purpose. Ask any pretending preschooler: labels can make a random inconvenient stack of wood discover purpose as "table" or "chair" or "baby bed" or "doghouse". The purpose of this exercise wasn't to deny all labels, but merely to identify them and their qualities.

Maybe taking some time to intentionally explore what my current labels are could help me understand better what my purpose is at the moment.

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"Retreat"

>> Monday, March 2, 2009

When we arrived at the retreat we signed up for a small group in which we were to discuss whatever questions our speaker, Jo, asked us to discuss. On the first evening we grouped to meet one another and our question was "to you, what does 'retreat' mean?" There was brief clarification on whether they meant 'retreat' or 'a retreat' such as we were on, and decided we could answer either.

Most of the folks in my group thought of retreat as a good thing. A refreshing time away from the stresses of life. A time to rest and relax and pull a breath to return to the real world.

My idea was completely different from everyone else. I don't know if this is because of what I'd read recently, but the only thing I could see was that 'retreat' is what you do when you're in the middle of a battle and you're losing. In the case of medieval style battles (I don't know much about modern warfare) retreating is not considered shameful; wise battle leaders retreat with their armies when necessary... to higher ground, to a more strategically important location, to reassess and develop a new plan of attack. Possibly to begin a new process of negotiations among leaders, or to provide medical assistance to the wounded. Retreat is not a peaceful thing, it's a terrifying thing. It means that defeat is on the horizon unless you start making some changes. It means that if you don't quickly begin to relearn your enemy and identify their goals, to predict their moves more accurately and stand up to them, you may lose your kingdom to another ruler.

All of this seems to happen at every church retreat I've been to. All of the emotional breakdown and rebuilding that occurred this weekend could be seen as a retreat from the spiritual battles we experience every day in our lives. For me however, Friday night to Sunday morning is never long enough to first see the current battle conditions, then to identify the problems in our first strategy, and finally to settle on a better plan. It always seems just long enough to identify the problems and panic, but we never have the time to develop the new strategy. Sometimes there's enough time to allow the Spirit to bring us calm and peace after the panic, but never enough to decide what to change in our lifestyles or what steps to take next. What to do to make things different.

Although I'd not been on a church retreat until now since High School, I'd say that stands true for those ones as well. We get all hyped up in worship and praise, God says "Yo, pay attention to *this*", we fall apart, support each other, and then we feel better... for the moment. But even in High School no one offered, "Okay, here's how we can move forward. Here's what you do next." Trust in God. Pray more. Read His word. Learn how to listen. Communicate with someone and share your pain. Those are all great things to do, but how? "Oh, just trust in God. He loves you and He's got it all under control." Great! How do I do that again? Does someone have a magic button that will help me trust in the areas I don't? Trusting is like caring; if you don't, you don't, and at least I have no idea how to make myself do it.

But I think that's okay. Becky and Jo both taught that this process is hard and messy, and that's the way it's supposed to be. Retreating from a battle is facing the blood and the wounded and the fact that things aren't going the way you thought they would. But we always seem to stop there... when do we see as a church family that the bandages are on, the healing's begun, we have a new plan, and then turn together to re-engage the battle?

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Women's Retreat weekend

This past weekend was our church's Women's Retreat at Camp St. Christopher's. It was... well, I give it mixed reviews, but only because of my perspective. (Given that it's the only perspective I've got, I guess it'll have to do.) To clarify, it was very well done; the schedule was light enough to provide relaxation times but was also very challenging spiritually, which it was supposed to be. The people were (and are) wonderful; Jeannie et al did an amazingly fantastic job setting up and running the event. Jo was a fan-freakin'-tastic speaker. The food was very good and completely appropriate for my dietary needs (resulting in me not eating any of the extra food I brought along just in case). The setting was gorgeous

So, why mixed? First, I was completely exhausted. It was that kind of complete life-drained done that the past week of illness and adoption inspection/prep might cause. Secondly, despite the joyous experience of falling asleep on a screen porch to the sound of the ocean on Friday night, it was cold and I got somewhat freaked out by the large creature that was bending the palm tree and causing large branches and things to fall around. So I moved into the cabin to join the two snorers. For me, no sleep = very bad. I had to apologize to some folk after my attitude on Saturday morning. (Incidentally, if I snapped at you and don't recall or couldn't find you afterwards, I'm sorry! Tired is no excuse!) For Saturday night I moved up to the more hotel-like rooms because it was too hard to take the cabin's stairs, so I slept much better on Saturday. Thirdly, it was my first time at an event like this as an adult, so I really didn't know what to expect. A large part of my mind was held off at an analytical distance simply observing. The last time I went to a church retreat I was in High School and it was full of emotional wrenching and power struggles and, well, high school drama. So I'm innately distrustful of these kinds of situations. I'm glad to report this was... somehow, the same but also completely different. It was emotionally wrenching (see 'finally' point) but it was also a Safe Place, without the snarky teenage angst. It was simply different. Finally, it was a spiritual retreat with a speaker who challenged us. Which basically means this was soul-searching, exterior-image-peeling, defense-shattering kinds of things. About 100 women peeling away the layers (I prefer the cake vs. onion image, incidentally) with lots of crying, some excruciating wailing and screaming, and steps to healing. All very necessary, all very exciting at some level to see the Spirit work, but also all very, very hard. Exhausting.

On the way home, Cathy J asked me to summarize in a sentence or two what I took away from it. I couldn't manage that, since I came up with one concept that needed lots of sentences to explain. (Not a surprise, really.) That idea of 'what did God say to you' had been circulating throughout the last day, and most people were like 'well, I need to work more on *this*' or 'I need to let go of *this*' kind of things. Those things that were in their *this* were usually main topics of the lectures or the Sunday sermon. For me, it was a smaller (but maybe still large) concept: This stuff is work, and it is messy. And that's okay. Becky (our Priest) said it again on Sunday and it suddenly resonated really hard with me. I have the idea that I should be able to automatically accept those things that Just Are, because some things I have no control over. I know that I can't control some things, but I hadn't realized how angry I was about them... or I had at some level understood that I was angry, but felt I shouldn't be because it should be easy somehow or there really wasn't any point to being angry. Plus, I just hate when I fall apart and I get my shirt (or Lanse's shirt) wet and snotty and then I have a headache from crying and even though I feel better at the moment, it doesn't take care of the problem. So really, why bother? All it does is make a mess.

But that's okay. And sometimes that's necessary. Even if I'm upset about something I have no power to change, I can fall apart about it sometime. It's allowed.

So. Since this seems to be the only way I can successfully journal, I may be working through some things here. I will turn comments off unless I'm looking for advice. It's nothing personal. If you have my email address or IM and want to engage in a back-and-forth discussion, you do of course have the freedom to try it; just please trod carefully and don't be offended if I don't reply or choose not to answer your questions directly. I will not be discussing this on Facebook. In case it needed saying.

Stay tuned for potentially challenging stuff.

Or, I might just get sick of soul-searching and you can toss the last couple bits. You just never know!

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About This Blog

Life is about changes; transitions from one place to another, from one purpose to another, from one being to another. They say that the person you are today is a completely different person from who you were ten years ago and who you'll be ten years from now. So far, at the age of 33, I've had four major transitions in my life which redefined who I am. Two years into the results of the most recent transition I am again - still - exploring how God is shaping me. Over the next few months I hope to review my past and set goals for the future, and embrace the next adventure of rediscovering me.
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