Sunday, May 17, 2015

Just the right post...

Today, I had two posts that I read that reasonated with me so much.  It's funny how things sometimes come to you just as you need them - I could have read either of these posts on a different day and skimmed them with no real connection.  I just thought I'd share.

After my rant about church yesterday, I should say that Dh and I have landed in a church that we love.  We feel a strong sense of belonging and as the church is in our local community, we have church connections in daily life, something that we haven't really had before.  It's lovely!  We are really enjoying it and also, we are finding that the interpretation of what it is to be a Christian is fairly close to our own - Evangelical but also loving, with a definite challenge to go into the world to be Christ's hands and feet.  I am sure there are people whose views are not ours but it's been unexpectedly wonderful for us.  Today was a church day and I was happy to read Sarah Bessey's post this morning, basically explaining why she loves her church.  It made me eager to go to church and to look at our worship and the community through new eyes. 

I spent a good portion of today out in the garden, trying to get stuff done with my kidlets.  Needless to say, it slowed me down.  A LOT.  Pk was constantly saying, "Isn't it great that we are helping you?  I need ________ to be just like you mom!" while with LB, I was just struggling to keep from getting hit in the head with the shovel (yesterday, he clocked me upside the head with one while trying to "help" - nothing like feeling as if you need to comfort a child who is afraid he has accidently just killed his mother when you are afraid that if you remove your hand from your skull, a chunk might just fall out).  I am a very random gardener - I have no idea what I am doing and at different times, I go in different directions and create all kinds of chaos.  Today, it was trying to clean up some beds in the "dog" area of the garden (think bomb testing range) and to plant a few veggies to get that bed going.  I waffled between gratitude for the presence of my children and then wanting them to be anywhere but in my way!  Then, I read this post this evening and realized how awesomely lucky I am to have to two kids in the way.  Please pray for Michaela as she learns to live without her precious daughter, Florence.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Just a Little Rant since it doesn't belong on Facebook...

Sorry, I disappeared again.  Life has been insane with school concerts (I'm a teacher) and Welcome to Kindergarten and family visiting from England and just general "my life is too busy" kind of stuff.  I'm finally coming out the other side of this season of crazy and it feels really good to be back here.  I doubt I was missed but I missed writing so that's all that really matters to me.

I don't know whether other people do this but I have this little Facebook problem.  The problem is that I check Facebook way too often.  I'm not addicted, really, and I am not interested so much in the little fluffy stuff that people post about how popular they are or links to Huffington Post articles or various quizes or top 80's trivia.  I just get bored REALLY easily and if I'm in the car and unfocused, I scan my feed, looking for anything that will hold my interest.  That's when I get in trouble.  I have a bad habit of clicking on articles that people have posted and then, I get enraged at whatever I find offends me.  I am usually pretty good about not saying anything or even commenting (I tend not to comment unless I agree) but sometimes, it's all I can do to keep from either writing an inflammatory rebuttal or posting a link to something that directly attacks whatever the person has said.  I feel as if it would be truly satisfying but deep down, I know that it's not worth it and I would end up feeling like a nasty person.

Today, it was a link to this article, criticizing all of the op/ed pieces about what is wrong with church.  Facebook suggested this article below it and I am guessing that the first article is a response to the second I am linking but it's possible not. 

Why did it bug me so much?  Because the first article, which is attacking all of the writing that is against church these days, expresses so clearly what is wrong with so many churches these days and why so many people ARE leaving.  More personally, it expresses some of what I was feeling at our last church that led us to finally and very painfully, leaving after being there a long time.  What is it about church that makes people so blind?  They feel as if they are getting their needs met (whatever those needs might be), anyone who is not or, worse, anyone who dares to name what isn't working, is just being selfish and greedy and wanting to change what isn't broken.  Given how the church is declining, let me say it - IT'S BROKEN, FOLKS (at least in affluent North America - interestingly, in more impoverished parts of the world, and even in some struggling spots in urban North America, it's thriving and alive and gospel fulfilling).

I'm probably not at the most reasonable point for discussing this right now because I am just finishing reading Jesus for President by Shane Claibourne and Chris Haw.  It's a brilliant book but I am certain that it offends most of the world.  While I would call these guys extreme expressors (which I think is a dog breeding term I picked up but I digress), they hit the nail on the head.  If you actually read and take seriously what Jesus says, so much of what "church" is now is not based on anything Jesus said.  Jesus was certainly not an advocate of big, flashy buildings, of constant fundraising drives to make our spaces more luxurious or of hugely expensive lighting and sound systems that make us feel like we are at a concert at a major venue.  The message of the early church was not mega-churches in which people would come week after week without making any meaningful connections to others.  Church was about relationships and relationships not only within the church walls but outside of them.  Jesus did not endorse only helping those who are "one of us" or that charity only counts if it is done within the walls of the individual congregation.  The church is not a denomination or a building or an exclusive club - it's a group of people who follow Jesus and his teachings and who look for the needy and the suffering and the marginalized and try to meet their needs.  It's people who forgive, who love, who ignore nationality and language and class structure and who use their resources to live out their faith, caring for others, including those with whom we strenuously disagree.  It isn't comfortable or easy or in keeping with the culture around us but it is rewarding, loving, meaningful and powerful.

I need to point out, as well, that I am not anti-church.  Given the number of hours of my life spent at church and involved in church activities and the fact that Dh and I spent so much time talking about how we love our church community, we are "church" people.  I think, though, that years of being in and around churches has taught us that the institutional church IS killing itself slowly (maybe not so slowly these days) with its focus on the superficial (e.g., the setting and the light show), its being a self-rewarding institution (e.g., the church we attended whose Advent focus was "random acts of kindness" and most of them happened within the walls of the church to other people who were equally blessed and it required no sacrifice) and its lack of credibility outside its own walls (with its lack of effort to improve the lives of others or to stand up against injustice). 

I guess I should just let these self-absorbed people continue to be "the church" (or, should we say, "their church").  They will gradually eliminate themselves while, I hope, those who are listening hard for the words of Jesus and trying to put them into action can transform "church" into something more meaningful and relevant and world changing.  It still makes me angry through, the hypocrisy of it all - how can you claim to be listening to Christ when you are so against listening to the cries of those around you?  The cries are deafening and those with earplugs in are making it harder for the rest of us.

There, my rant is over and I haven't offended anyone on Facebook and I don't have to feel guilty.  That was satisfying!

Saturday, May 9, 2015


I'm an INFJ.  If you know about Myers-Briggs personality typing, that will mean something to you but if not, it's just a set of random letters.  For me, it's been such a useful tool in understanding myself, particularly some of my quirkier stuff that I haven't ever really understood.

We INFJ's are a rare bunch and we can be pretty contradictory.  The one trait of being an INFJ that I haven't really owned until recently is the privacy one.  Supposedly, we are very people centred and tend of focus a lot of emotions and trying to help others.  Yup, that's me.  On the other hand, we are supposedly very private and I didn't really think that described me.  Certainly, if you hang around here,  you would think that I am VERY forthcoming but I have come to understand that my blog is really the only place that I feel like I can really tell the truth.  That makes life hard sometimes.

I do share my feelings and hash things out with people at times.  I vent about small frustrations and I talk through ideas a lot.  I've found, over the last year or so, though, that I am so lonely.  It's funny, I am surrounded by the most wonderful people and I am frequently told by people that I cope so well and that they don't know how I do it.  As an example, not too long ago, my sister-in-law was venting to me about something and then apologized for it, because I never vent to her.  It's such a strange combination - I am DYING to spill how I am feeling but I can't seem to find the words or, when I do, I don't think that people are really interested so I don't want to bother them.  I can vent about being concerned about the strike that's looming in my work or the fact that my car won't start but the things that are weighing the most heavily, I can't seem to express.  It really is lonely.

So, here I go, since I can't vent anywhere else,  it needs to spill out here.  I know, first world problems and all that and I feel guilty complaining but today, it needs to come out and here is the only place I feel safe doing it.

1.  I am so angry at Dh.  Pk has had a HARD  year at school.  She's been complaining a lot about feeling sad at school and not knowing why and that the other girls are mean to her.  Me being me, I've worried.  Is she doing something to turn the other kids off?  Is she just looking for attention? (my niece has been battling a lot of serious depression this year and has been getting a lot of attention for it and I wondered whether Pk might think this would get her attention too).  I've never felt especially like I belonged socially - is it that I am rubbing off on Pk?  Are these just the normal things that girls have to go through or is it more serious?
Anyway, when I picked Pk up at daycare yesterday, the daycare teacher said that her classroom teacher wanted to see me.  I went up alone and she filled me in on seeing that Pk is feeling uncomfortable in class at times and won't talk about what's wrong, her "friends" can be downright malicious to her sometimes and she won't tell on them or stand up to them, she won't take any risks in class at all in terms of possibly making a mistake and her teacher says she is the sweetest kid ever but she isn't being especially well served by being so sweet.  When I came home, I was bursting to discuss it with Dh and when I came in, he asked why I was so late.  I said that Pk's teacher had wanted to see me and he changed the subject.  It took three hours for him to actually ask me what it was about and then, she was present so I couldn't discuss it.  He totally forgot about it and I had to pull him aside this morning and even then, he didn't seem especially interested.  I don't want anyone to think he's a bad guy and he loves us but he can be so selfish sometimes and when it comes to parenting, it all falls to me.  I'm tired of doing this on my own.

2.  The puppy.  I love her but I said when the subject was raised that I was already on the edge in terms of being able to manage the pace of my life.  I was assured, again and again, that the work would be shared and it wouldn't all fall to me.  As I am trying to get the kids ready for school in the morning (single-handedly), having a puppy hanging off my bathrobe and pooping in the house is not making me feel especially cherished.  I do so much of the work around here and it doesn't matter what is going on, when I say that I can't do something because I am already overwhelmed, nobody listens to me, more just gets added to my plate.  IT"S NOT FAIR!

3.  Sunday school.  I want to help at church, I really do.  I want to do my part.  That being said, being down to teach Sunday school on Mother's Day when I had a school concert and had to do double duty here because Dh had his big school concerts on Wednesday and Thursday, I really, really, really could use the break.  Will Mother's Day ever be a day I get a break?  I'd love, more than anything else, just to go somewhere alone for the day and read and drink tea.  I can't even imagine what they would feel like.

Those are just the tip of the iceberg but I needed to say them.  If you have actually stuck around to read this, you probably think I am either the biggest whiner in the world or the biggest wimp.  I just wish I knew that other moms felt the same way.  I honestly find that by the time I go to bed, I am dying of exhaustion and then I wake up the next day to feeling guilty about the people whose emails I didn't anwer or whose texts got ignored and often, I can guilt from those people.  If you aren't thinking I'm a baby, you are probably thinking that I should just grow some balls and do something about it all.  You are probably right, I just don't know how...