Dec 30, 2008

Now See Here...

Piggybacking on my post from the other day, I wanted to link to this post by iMonk. He articulates very well some of the frustrations I've encountered on my church hunting journey, particularly this year...

Click here

Dec 29, 2008

Awesome Guns of Steel...

I just wanted to brag about my trip to the grocery store. I went in for, like, 2 things but as often is the case I found about 17 other things to pick up while I was there, including somewhat-heavy things like canned peaches (on sale, oh yes). I lugged my little handbasket to the checkout line, where the girl bagging my stuff very kindly asked if I would like a cart to take my things out in.

I surveyed the stash and said, "No thank you, I think I can get it...I take it as a personal challenge." She smiled and said "That's your cardio for the day, right there," and I said "Exactly!" She understood. It was a friggin' love-fest, right there in the checkout line with my canned peaches.

I grabbed my receipt, looped two bags over one hand and three over the other, and gave that initial how-heavy-will-it-be heave. While it wasn't quite like toting two pillows around, nor was it the sort of lading that has one straining and doing the if-I-can-just-make-it-to-the-car-quick-march. In other words, not bad at all. The bagger said "Whoa. Yeah, you've got it just fine." I gave her a smile and was off. I thought briefly about telling her my secret to great strength--toting around a 30-lb 2-year-old all day. Instead, I decided to bask in that very-short moment of feeling stronger than most...

Dec 28, 2008

Plugging In...

I have issues with church. More specifically with church hunting, but since we've pretty well settled on a church here it's not so much church hunting as it is with church plugging in.

I like a lot of the things about our church here. I like the casual, come-as-you-are vibe. I like the music. It's perhaps a bit on the edgy side even for my tastes, but that tells me that they are not afraid of any particular musical style. I like it that they meet in their own facility now. I loved the idea of meeting in a movie theater, but I didn't like the reality of it very much, for no reason other than it was too different than what I'm accustomed to (Sometimes I think I am starting to resemble a stick in the mud). I like that they are into serving the community with no strings attached, and are supportive of other area churches. Indeed, no sheep-poaching there (to use a favorite expression I got from Mrs T).

But then...I dunno. I can think of about 5 things that bug me--minor theological differences, quirks, that sort of thing. In the context of relationship I don't think any of them would be dealbreakers...but we are not yet in the context of relationship with the church, so it's hard to get an accurate perspective. Here my neurosis really rears its head, in the form of an in-depth analysis of every message. I can always find something to disagree with or get defensive about, but the question is whether or not I would react as strongly if we were a little farther in. It's much easier to take everything with a grain of salt when you already know and trust the one who is preaching.

Compounding this is that the pastor is a fairly strong speaker. At times he has a lot of passion and emphasis. In general this is a good thing, but often when he delivers his strongest emphasis and most dramatic pauses, I cringe a little bit at the point itself. There's always seems to be a point where I go "no, I don't have to agree with that; I don't think that's what God says at all." Now if he's just using good speaking techniques and going for the big effect, I can understand that. On the other hand, if he really feels as strongly as it appears about some of his finer points, then maybe the minor theological differences are more of a problem than they normally would be. I don't know.

Further throwing a wrench into the mix is the increasingly-obvious fact that the pastor is introverted, and not necessarily interested in connecting with individuals. I am an introvert, and I don't particularly care for connecting deeply with everyone and their brother, so again I can totally understand this. The church is structured so that there are places and people with which to connect, so that people can be taken care of while the pastor is freed to do his pastorly things, which in this case seem to be preaching and overseeing the whole shebang. The problem here is that, having exchanged maybe 2 words ever with him, I don't really know where he's coming from as an individual, so I'm not yet sure how much I can trust his leadership. I know he's a good orator--Toastmasters would be pleased. I know that he and his wife are extremely hip and cool when it comes to distressed jeans and other edginess indicators. I know that he is the head of this baby church that has grown to over 500 in its one year of existence, and that he well aware of how uncommon this is, and is highly grateful for the whole thing.

That said I don't really know what makes him tick. What sorts of things has he encountered on his journey to give him his particular bents, and what are his essential points when it comes to talking about God. And I'm not sure I'm in the place to ask those sorts of questions of him personally. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm not. I would certainly feel defensive if someone came at me, looking more than a little bothered, and asking those sorts of things of me. Granted, I'm not in charge of an entire church, but still...I'm pretty sure I'm not in the proper state of mind to ask those things graciously and fairly, anyway.

Thankfully, the church has venues for such questions, and even has a catchy name for everything they do. Last week we attended the Tour, a little lunch shindig aimed at newcomers wanting to get acquainted with the place, and in two weeks they will hold what they call the Partnership class, where they talk about membership, and folks can ask more hardcore and/or theological questions and such. So that's our next step.

I have a lot of fears about plugging in here. I have a lot of fears about plugging in anywhere. What I would love is to go to a church and get a special feeling or instinct that it is home for the next 4 years, church-wise. I don't know if that exists for everyone, and I'm not sure it's fair to ask of a place before we've taken the time to plug in. Maybe my expectations are skewed in one direction or the other, or maybe I need to eat more iron-rich foods or something. Out of the churches we've visited, it does seem to be the best fit for us as a family, even if it might not be where I'd end up as an individual. But then again, maybe it is exactly where I'd end up; I dunno. What confuses me is that there are so many factors influencing my judgement at present, that I don't really trust my judgement. Hard to take that and make a solid decision.

I think the thing that sits heaviest with me is that, when all is said & done, to me it just feels like "doing church." Looking around during the service it is obviously not this way for a whole bunch of people, so it's highly likely that this is more of an indicator of the things I'm feeling about church lately, rather than the perspective from which this church is ministering.

I haven't seen any red flags, so that's a start. Still, my overall gut-feeling is one of discomfort. I don't see anyone else walking around in apparent bondage or oppression, but somehow I come away feeling neurotic pretty much every time. And I hate feeling neurotic. But again, I know my perspective is skewed, so it's hard to sort out much of anything. Ho-hum.

I think the next few weeks will be telling, what with the membership class and the new series they're starting up. The name of it is something like "21," which is borrowed from black-jack's perfect hand. The video trailer (yes, they do those here) has taunting little phrases like "living each day like the perfect day." I'm suspicious, but we'll see the angle they take...

Dec 19, 2008


This week I’ve got the truth on the brain. I’m all for the truth—I think people should tell it, and embrace it, and love it. I much prefer being around people who aren’t afraid to tell the truth and tell it straight. I often say I would much rather know the hard truth than have to find out for myself. When the Cat Daddy was going through missile training this summer, my good friend whose husband had been a missileer told me stories about their experiences and you know what? Being a missileer is hard. It’s a hard job that’s hard on the family. At times she would be apologetic and say “I hope I’m not scaring you too much. Maybe I shouldn’t tell you so much,” but I said, “Oh no, I would much rather know what to really expect going in.” I meant it then, and I’ve been grateful ever since. It doesn’t keep me from fussing about the hard things, but it’s that much less painful to have known what was coming. I really think it makes it easier to adjust, and adapt, and other such things you learn in “Who Moved My Cheese?”

The problem is that, as much as I value the truth and straight talk, when it comes to telling the hard or unpleasant truth, I have a really hard time just coming out with it. Even with straight talk I do think there’s value in being as sensitive as possible, and since I do not have the natural gift of tact, I often take time to consider my words carefully. Problem is, I can overdo it and go from telling the truth in love to beating around the bush or avoiding the hard parts altogether.

In fact, twice within the past week the Cat Daddy has said to me, on separate occasions, “Skerrib, don’t be afraid to tell the truth.” To which I winced and replied, “I don’t know how to say it,” and he said, “Just say the facts. They are just the facts; they are neutral. People’s responses are up to them.”

See, this is why I love the Cat Daddy. He is so smart!

Sometimes I remember all of this, and can speak up and say hard things when necessary. But not always, and especially during times of major transition. Which would be this entire year. Meh.

This is because I have issues. “What’s that,” you say, “you, Skerrib? You have issues? No!!!” I know, I know, but it’s true. I often underestimate people, and worry that they won’t be able to handle hearing the straight truth. Having encountered this at points along the way, for some reason I assume it’s true of everyone.

Which it’s not, and I know that’s the case…but something about transition makes me go all random. Which means that issues tend to resurface during these times, and have to be dealt with again (and again, and again, and again…). Meh.

I’m tired these days, I think, from the transitions that just won’t quit. I did know this sort of thing was coming. Our last year and a half or so in Mass was a time of rest. Obviously there were changes—His Highness being the biggest one—but for whatever reason it was a calm season in life. I knew it at the time, and I enjoyed it, because I also knew that it would only last for a time. So like I mentioned before, I’m not shocked or caught off-guard, or anything. Just tired.

I do know from experience that my energy will come back. Not to sound pessimistic--because I really am not being pessimistic—but that will probably happen sometime around next summer. In the meantime though, when I get tired, life gets trimmed to the basics. Eat. Sleep. Exercise. Keep the kid and dogs alive. Don’t blow up or burn down the house. And tell the truth, even when it’s hard.

Write that down, kids…

Dec 15, 2008

When You Turn Two...

You try to swipe your cake...

You use the stepstool to get into things while Mom's not looking...

And your dog follows suit...

Hooray for His Highness!!

Dec 14, 2008

Arctic Blast Church...

The Cat Daddy is working today, so His Highness and I are heading to church on our own. We've been getting into the habit of going to the earlier (9am) service, which I now understand is a fantastic option for families with small kids. We get up, we go, we get out way before the naptime-crankiness, and we have the rest of the day to do Sunday-things.

In contrast to my subversive church hunting habit of showing up late and hightailing it out, now that we've more or less settled on a church, we've (meaning I've) also been trying to get in the habit of being on time. I do like to be on time; I'm just not very good at getting out of the house. It usually takes me at least two attempts before I feel I have everything I could possibly need while away from home for two hours.

His Highness and I did a fantastic job of getting ready this morning, right up until the last few tasks, like shoes and such. In the end it was late enough that we'd've been a little late. Not a lot, just a touch. It then occurred to me that we had another option--wait for the second service. So we decided to do that.

And do you know why? Because it is -11 degrees outside. Let's write that in words: Minus. Eleven. Degrees. If we're lucky, it might be up to five by the time we get to church. The projected high for the day is twelve. Twelve degrees. If it were warmer (like maybe, I dunno, 30?) I might've tried to muscle through and make it to first service. But not today--sometimes the cold just sucks the motivation right out.

Time to pull out the parka. Oh yes. Time to pull out the parka. And I'd better start the car so we can leave in 20 minutes...

Dec 10, 2008


Looks like I am to be increasingly outnumbered in my family. And we have to start looking for a boy name we can agree on...

Dec 9, 2008

My New Favorite Christmas Song...

Those of the more sarcastic persuasion will want to click over & visit Stacy From Louisville. Her comments alone at Stuff Christians Like caused people to demand en masse that she start her own blog. She was kind enough to oblige.

Anyway, I swiped this from her post on the song "Christmas Shoes." If you like the song it's probably better NOT to read the post itself, unless you have an awesomely awesome sense of humor about might want to go look at pictures of kittens & other furry delights instead.

You'll like the video either way though...

You Really Want to Know??

Today I would like to lament the fact that, while I am quite healthy overall, when I do have to go to the doctor it tends to involve symptoms and/or parts of the body that can be a little awkward to talk about. Now don't anybody freak out, I'm not talking STD's or anything. Just run-of-the-mill maladies that, unfortunately, require the utilization of a paper gown or some variant for a proper examination. Past and present nursing moms and women in general can identify here, I'm sure.

One might think that by this point in life I would have finally ridded myself of all sense of modesty and dignity when it comes to healthcare. Like the strangers you encounter in line at the store, who tell you about their recent bout with diarrhea and how it has affected their liver function and intimacy issues. That's always fun. And while it's true that in the process of pregnancy and birth ladies tend to throw propriety to the wind, I somehow managed to run out and grab mine right back after His Highness was born. I'm a total prude when it comes to these things.

Which is actually kind of interesting, because in my younger days I had a tendency to talk about all sorts of bodily functions and issues in front of anyone and everyone (youth group leaders included)--partly for shock value, and partly out of exasperation at instrusive questions like "why aren't you participating in the swimming today?" They asked, so I told them. Oh yes I did. Mandatory fun, my eye.

Let me throw one caveat in here about talking about girl-things with girlfriends--the vast majority of the time it doesn't bother me. First of all because they are people I know. And second, because we're girls and we're talking about girl-things.

And really the thing that bothers me the most isn't the appointment itself as much as making the appointment, where I'm having to talk to a receptionist, or call center agent, or worst of all, the poor, random senior airman who is filling in for the day and needs me to spell the more clinical terms. I say "I need to make an appointment." They say "What do you need to be seen for?" I say "Such-and-such," and think please oh please don't ask for any more details, because any doctor will already know exactly what I'm talking about. But no, they say "And what symptoms are you having," and the poor senior airman says "and can you spell that please?"

And THEN once I'm in the doctor's office the tech says "It says you're here to be seen for such-and-such. Tell me about your symptoms." I already told the receptionist about my symptoms, but no, the tech has to write them down again. This wouldn't be terrible, except after I give a brief description they don't say anything, so I assume they want more detail, and I end up rambling until I sense that they are thinking please oh please don't give any more details, because the doctor will already know exactly what you're talking about.

It's redundant, that's all I'm saying.

The upside of all of this is that, in exchange for some minor embarrassment, I'm not having to be seen for more painful things like bronchitis or broken bones. Kinda makes the paper gown worth it. Almost...

Dec 1, 2008

Enchanted Veggies...

As far as my enchanted state goes, I'm right around the halfway point, but I believe I have mentioned that a few of my yucky first trimester symptoms have been hanging on for dear life. A standard day consists of my feeling normal and/or fabulous until 2pm or so, when I begin to feel a little blah. Not nauseated, exactly, just heartburn-y and not good. Keeping my stomach full helps, but as the day goes on the list of foods-which-won't-make-me-feel-worse dwindles. By the evening the only sure thing is vegetables. This is great for me because I'm eating veggies more than usual, and I'm eating them when I would otherwise be having dessert, to boot. This feels a little tragic because I'm eating veggies more than usual, and I'm eating them when I would otherwise be having dessert, to boot.

All that said, some days are better than others. Some nights the only thing I can do is put the kibosh on the day and go to bed early, but other times I feel halfway decent, and even manage to have a little dessert. I still have yet to eat cake, but my chance came today. Mom-in-law has been in town for Thanksgiving and decided to bake an early birthday cake for His Highness. Isn't that a fun and fantastic grandma thing to do?

It had been a pretty good day, so I started out hopeful that I would be able to partake with little regret, but by cake-time I had a burning in the bosom that definitely was not a religious experience. The thought of tasting the cake was good, but the thought of digesting the cake was unpleasant. So I abstained. I suppose I could've chewed the cake and then spit it out, but that's just gross. Plus Mom-in-law tends to stare at things and/or people she thinks are strange. This makes me uncomfortable sometimes, but in this case she'd've been justified.

What did I have instead of cake? Green beans. With a little butter & parmesan. And two spoonfuls of Maalox. My midwife would be pleased. I was a little sad.

Cake for breakfast is a distinct possibility tomorrow...