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Welcome to the third post (you can see the first here and the second here) in a series I’m calling “Churchin’”.  It seeks to explore spirituality, theology (without the theologians), and current events all under the overarching theme of Life as a Journey as the core of religious understanding and experience.  I’m going to tell the story of how I ended up where I am, and the road I’m walking now that I’m here.  I welcome the addition of your stories and comments as well.  Remember, I’m not out to stand on a rock and proclaim myself the best religious scholar of all time, nor the teller of absolute truth, so please be gentle.

—–

In the lead up to Easter, I prepared myself to take communion for the first time …. ever.  I confessed.  I prayed.  I sat in silence reflecting on the enormity that leaving the way my life used to be behind in an ancient ritual really was.

On Good Friday, I was ready.  I wrote previously about my plan for that day.  I  hemmed and hawed trying to decide if I was really ready (like, super human ready) to offer up everything I used to be for something new.  I worried.  I was convinced I was one minute and convinced I wasn’t the next.  I was terrified.  I had  never (ever!) taken communion.  All of that transubstantiation stuff aside, it’s still a huuuuuuuuuge deal.  It’s a ritual, sure, but one that says to G-d and everyone, “Hey, I’m in this for the long haul”.  Was I ready to say goodbye to life as a Jew?  Was I ready to commit to something so entirely different (and beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but chunking out a part of your identity for the last 10+ years is difficult at best)?  I don’t make G-d decisions lightly and I’m inherently a hotbed of anxiety.  The two together?  Terrible.

I steeled my nerves in the parking lot before walking into Church.  I was alone, and I figured that might end up an ok thing … because then no one had to know.  I didn’t have to explain anything.  I could be anonymous.  I walked in the door ready to do this thing …,

And they didn’t have communion.

Le sigh.

Ok, I thought, I’ll be ready for Easter Sunday then.  I’m sure they’ll have communion, and what better symbolism than dying to my old self and being resurrected through communion on Resurrection Sunday?  Perfect.  Picture perfect, in fact.

And then, they didn’t have communion on Sunday either.

But!

What about my perfect plan!?  What about my profound experience?!  What about my life changing moment, surrounded by 3 or 4,000 of my closest friends (whose names I don’t know) on the perfect day?!  Hmph.  I was pouting for sure.  I am a planner by nature.  I don’t like it when things go differently than I envision them going.

This, of course, is probably the reason they don’t work out in the first place, so I can learn some lesson about me not always being in control … a lesson I’m still working on (along with one about not writing run on sentences).

I resolved myself that I had missed my chance, but that there would be another one some time (I mean, come on, it’s Church … they kind of do that communion thing a bunch).  I would just have to wait it out, and when the time was right, the opportunity would present itself.

And then there was yesterday, the 25th of April.

I saw the elements set up around the stage when I walked in.  I started internal panic mode immediately.  What if today wasn’t the perfect day?  What if I wasn’t in the right mindset?  What if I couldn’t think of anything profound to say?  What if G-d wasn’t listening today?  What if I went through with this and didn’t feel anything?!  Would that mean this whole process was for naught or wrong or a waste of time?

(Note to self: Stop worrying so flippin’ much.  Calm down, crazypants.)

During the opening prayer I kept distracting myself with the ongoing “Yes, let’s do this” versus “No, today is all wrong, I’ll just wait” conversation in my head.  I missed the first part of the teaching … well, I heard it, but it didn’t sink in well, because I was worrying myself sick.  Today is the day, no, next time, no, today, no, today isn’t right, let’s wait, no.

Ugh.

Yes, it really sounds like that in my brain.

Then I heard, ‘sometimes, when things don’t go right … don’t go how you planned … when you don’t get the outcome you’re looking for, you just have to offer it up as a sacred sacrifice and let G-d do the rest’.

Huh.

Probably true.

When the music started for communion, I didn’t have a plan.  I sat and I bowed my head and I started talking (not out loud, lest the people next to me think me crazier than I appear).  I offered up all those things I made plans and goals and 389 point action steps for.  I let go of the uber-control I try to have on what we eat (by which I mean I plan and worry and don’t execute particularly well).  I let go of trying to micromanage my brother (for whom I still can’t stop acting like the parent I was to him for part of our childhood) and the hurt that comes from him making decisions contrary to the ones I would make.  I let go of stressing over the no baby dilemma.  I let go of worrying about people judging this Jesus thing I’m doing these days (or at least, I tried to … A for effort, ok?).  I sat and I said, “Here.  You take it.”

And then I cried a little.

Don’t worry, no one saw (or I like to believe no one saw … please tell me no one saw).  Whew.

And I got up out of my chair, walked to the end of the line, prayed the Our Father while I waited so my brain wouldn’t have time to revolt, knelt down, and took communion.

Wow.

I have a hundred more thoughts than that, but the most all encompassing is just those three simple letters.

W-O-W.

No turning back now …

Em.

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Welcome to the second post (you can see the first here) in a series I’m calling “Churchin’”.  It seeks to explore spirituality, theology (without the theologians), and current events all under the overarching theme of Life as a Journey as the core of religious understanding and experience.  I’m going to tell the story of how I ended up where I am, and the road I’m walking now that I’m here.  I welcome the addition of your stories and comments as well.  Remember, I’m not out to stand on a rock and proclaim myself the best religious scholar of all time, nor the teller of absolute truth, so please be gentle.

—–

(So, this may be the longest post ever.  You have been warned.)

When we last talked, I was telling you about my largely unreligious childhood.  We did have some exposure to Church (I use the capital C to specifically highlight the institution that is doctrinal religious gathering) occasionally.  My mother’s parents would babysit us on Saturdays while my parents worked so that they could bring us along to their Episcopal Church at the pre-crack of dawn on Sunday mornings.  (funny story: they went to a Lutheran church when my mother was growing up because my grandmother’s Episcopal family couldn’t agree with my grandfather’s Methodist one about what denomination was betterlame)

We didn’t go to Sunday school or the nursery (unless it was my grandmother’s week to volunteer).  We sat on those very hard pews for what felt like decades and spent more time coloring or fighting with each other than we did listening.  When everyone got up and walked up front for communion we went along so we could (be forced to) kneel next to my grandparents and have our foreheads anointed by the ‘Stinky Oil Man’.  Afterward, we went out for pancakes.  Those I remember vividly, any mention of Jesus or salvation or G-d were lost on me completely.

On my father’s side, my great grandmother babysat for us during the week.  My father is Catholic, but I don’t think my great grandmother was much for choosing sides.  One summer, just before my 9th birthday (I think … I really have no official idea), we were driving home from some errand when my great grandmother saw a sign at the local Assembly of G-d church for Vacation Bible School.  She was an interesting lady, my Nonne (that’s little kid speak for ‘Granny’ apparently), and once she had an idea or a plan, there was no stopping her.

Every day for a week I went to the Assembly of G-d Church with my adorable brown paper bag lunch.  We made crafts.  A lot of people talked about how awesome Jesus was.  That was all well and good, but gushing about this guy JC wasn’t so helpful to a girl who hadn’t the foggiest who He was.

On Friday, there was a big program in the sanctuary (until then we’d been in a building next door).  They showed a movie about a far away kingdom and everyone wore their little paper crafted crowns and cheered for the good guy.  They kept the lights turned waaay down, and offered up what I now know is referred to as an ‘altar call’.  Adult volunteers worked the crowd, finding child after child to bring (drag) to the front to ‘accept Jesus’. I averted my eyes.  I tried to look really busy flipping pages in the hymnal.  I was really unclear what was going on, but I knew I didn’t want anything to do with it.

And, in a moment that would shape my understanding of Jesus and Christianity for the next 15 years, they found me anyway.  First it was one volunteer speaking quietly to me about love and friendship and rainbows (ok, maybe not actually rainbows … ).  Then it was two of them talking Peer Pressure 101 about how all the other kids had already ‘given their hearts’.  Then it was three of them with me, in a corner in the front of the sanctuary talking big about how my parents would be proud (my parents?! the ones that didn’t even know I was there?!) and this would be the only way I got into heaven and there would be cookies at the end.

And I caved.

Because I was a child.

And I said what they wanted me to and it meant nothing to me.  Nothing at all.  Not a damn thing.

Reflecting on that day as a grown up, I’m disgusted.  Those people and that experience are part of the reason I made a decision to have nothing to do with Christianity for most of my life.  What good is a religion that seduces vulnerable children with fear and promises of food?  I didn’t want to be one of those people with the lying and misleading and manipulating.  If that’s how they acted, their G-d, their Jesus, couldn’t be the kind of person I wanted to be buddy-buddy with.

—–

(fast forward to my 14th year)

I was feeling kind of lost.  My very expensive (and largely overrated) psychology degree tells me every teenager feels like that most of the time because they’re trying to hash out exactly who they’re supposed to grow up into.  I felt like some part of me was missing.  I was really compelled that part of that absent feeling had something to do with my complete disassociation with religion (the divine, the universe, the afterlife, or something …).  I started searching …

I did what every nerd on the planet does, I started reading things.  The Qu’ran … the Bhagavad Gita … a Tripitaka … the I Ching … the Upanishads … the Talmud.  I went to a bunch of different services (well, as many as a non-driver’s license holder in a rural-ish area whose parents have no idea she’s on an out of the blue spiritual quest can).  The more I read, the more I was drawn to Judaism.  I’m not sure I’m ready to share the ins and outs of that decision making process, but suffice it to say I spent a lot of time trying to figure it out before making a decision.

I found a rabbi.  And then another one (long story).  I studied the Tanakh and the Midrash.  I had that awkward conversation with my parents about how I was disassociating myself with their religion (even though they were only vaguely associated to begin with) … and let me tell you, that went great (/sarcasm).  I learned (well, I tried to learn …) Hebrew.  I attended synagogue.  I ate kosher (most of the time … damn you bacon for being so delicious).  I fasted on Yom Kippur and rejoiced during Tu B’Shevat.  It was a happy medium for me.  Judaism was the foundation of Christianity, but without the massive recruiting effort.  I identified as, prayed as, and lived as a Jew for the next … well, I still kind of do.

Judaism was a safe place for me.  It was tradition founded on 5000+ years of practice.  It was a community worldwide.  It was belonging.  Judaism taught me that there was in fact a G-d (crucial on the more than one occasion I was convinced there wasn’t), that I could talk to Him (Her?  I’m ok with either, neither, or both), that life had meaning.  Ugh.  All of that sounds terribly nauseatingly mushy, but it’s real.  It happened.  I was there.  Ha.

—–

I tell you all of this so my present tense conversations about religion will make sense, so that you know where I’m coming from when I don’t understand how this or that part of doctrine is practiced or needed, when I speak in abstraction because I still struggle to say the word “Christian” with anything other than complete disdain, when I still cannot believe how bizarre this journey has been, when I stand in awe of the little things like a child with new eyes (because I am one, basically).

Stay tuned (if you’re so inclined), loves, I promise there’s more to this story coming …

Em.

We are not friends, you and I.

Is it really necessary for me to fill out 198 pages of fill-in-the-blank gobblty gook to get into your precious school?  I mean, ok, you need some demographic information and the low down on my grades, but … I graduated from YOUR college in 2006 (damn, that was kind of awhile ago …).  Can’t you find this shit somewhere in your massive computer system?  Can’t you just type my little name into the Banner system and Voila! all of the information you’ll ever need will appear?  Why must I waste my time filling it out by hand for you?  Shouldn’t there be an express lane for your own alums?

Pretty please?

And, what the hell is up with this recommendation process?  It’s bad enough I have to get on my knees (by email) and beg professors who haven’t heard my name in at least 4 years to write glowing letters about how much of a badass I am (or was …), but you also want them to fill out a separate form in addition, plus put the two in separate envelopes, plus follow special instructions to sign the envelope seals in a special way?!  These are sociology professors, people.  They are not naturally inclined to intense order.

And, why can’t they mail those forms to you?  Why can’t I send them little stamps along with the envelopes I supplied so they can just drop it in the mail, which is frickin’ annoying that it would require stamps anyway because your office is literally 100 yards from their offices, but whatever … why can’t I do that?  Why must I physically GO to them and PICK them up so I can put them all in one envelope per your instructions?  Do the people that sort your mail not read well?  Can they not organize things by category?  I promise I would label everything clearly enough that trained monkeys could figure it out.

And, can we talk about personal statements for a second?  Do you really need two of them?  Are you going to get pissed when mine goes something like, “Hey, I like making no money and hanging out with poor people.  I won’t feed you any BS reasons why I want to “save the world” like all the other bourgeois applicants.  It’s the right thing to do.  Let me in.  Thanks.” ?  Is that going to offend your elitist academic sensibilities?  Do you think I really need 5 pages worth of space to write a bunch of fru-fru BS I don’t believe and you can’t possibly think is legit after reading 129 other peoples’?

To be clear, I don’t.

I could write all of it on a sticky note.  Em likes poor people because she is one.  Em likes people that wander off occasionally and get lost because she does.  Em likes listening because she’s a talker.  Em likes those who struggle because she knows she isn’t perfect.  Em likes loving the unloveable because she used to think she was.  Em wants to do this not because it’s cool or popular or a great advancement of her career or financial security (ha! what is that exactly?!), but because it’s the right frickin’ thing to do.  (and because third person is sooooo much fun!)

G-d is love.  Whoever lives in love, lives in G-d and G-d in him.  1 John 4:16

How’s that for a personal statement, graduate admissions committee?

Now, hows about you just let me into your stinkin’ program and we skip all this intermediary nonsense?  Mmmk?  Please?

Em.

Hi there.  I’m Em.

(if you’re a regular reader, you’re probably concerned that this is about to turn into the bloggy version of an AA meeting …)

If you’re stumbling here from The Ultimate Blog Party 2010, welcome welcome welcome!  I’d love for you to pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee (or your favorite Irish whiskey … an an Oberon …), and hang out in my little corner of the ever growing blogosphere with me.  But … no one likes to party with a stranger, especially a creepy stranger, so let’s talk facts first.

I’m a 20something.  I started saying 20something when I could no longer say “early 20s”.  I have a whole bunch of quarter life angst about that whole aging thing, and so you’ll have to bear with the non-specifics.  I live in community with my adorable husband (a term that even after the forever we’ve been together makes me both ridiculously joyful and squeamish), my mother, my little brother and little brother’s girlfriend.  We all live in one big old farmhouse like the sandal wearing hippie I am (and they really aren’t …).

Em is not my real name, and I refer to the husband (Ah! Twice in two sentences!) as That Boy … just so you don’t get confused.  That Boy and I have been together just over 9.5 years. The looming decade anniversary makes me nervous … more nervous than 30 … maybe.  We don’t have small people yet, but we wouldn’t necessarily mind some showing up soon (That Boy would not admit to saying that outloud, I’m positive).

I work with high school kids for a living.  They entertain the snot out of me.  I wear sandals from snowmelt to snowfall.  I’m a big fan of sustainable living, recycling (because it saves money and the planet), and real food.  I’m one of those coupon clipping frugal girls, and I spend a lot of the summer pretending to be a farmer.  You should be stoked for all the inane pictures of my little green garden that are coming this summer … brace yourself.  I really like ice cream and complaining about things I don’t like on the internet.  I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and occasionally a little too lazy to do anything about it.

Average Radical started as a place for me to tell the world stories about the (sometimes bizarre, sometimes hilarious) goings on of my life, rant about what’s wrong with the world, and occasionally complain about my on again off again relationship with GLUTEN (booooo).  It’s become a sweet place for me to love on people, talk religion, share the occasional dollar stretching trick or recipe, and trash talk the infamous Britt about our ongoing head to head Battle of the Scales.

I kind of like it here.

I’m hoping you do too.  I’m giddy as a school girl when people hang out and comment, so if you’re digging what you’re reading, I’d love for you to party with me anytime.  I’m game if you are.

Now, back to that Oberon …

Em.

ps,

Did you know the UBP involved prizes?!  I totally didn’t at first.  Yea, I’m that brilliant sometimes.  Anywho, you can check out the full list of prizes on 5 Minutes for Mom.  Not that I think I’m the luckiest girl in the world, but if I were to go about picking winners, I’d love the Toshiba laptop (um, duh, who wouldn’t?!), the NIV 90 Day Bible, the Jillian Michaels Get Fit Pack (oooooh The Shred, how you scare me), or any of the retail store/Amazon gift cards.  Heck, I’d love to win just about anything (I’m not a contest winner historically), but mostly, I’m just happy to party along with the UBP’10.  Thanks again for stopping by!

Photo Credit: Japokskee

Sometimes, the world just gets peculiar.  This weekend?  One of them.

FRIDAY …

I had no intention of disconnecting from the world this weekend.  I know it’s a popular thing to do, but I wasn’t exactly feeling it.  I went to church in the afternoon on Friday, and then to the grocery store.  Not exactly disconnected at all.  When I came home Friday, we loaded the groceries into the house and then the power went out.

Yes, completely out.

Shit.

I have a love/hate relationship with power outages.  I kind of love the ingenuity and togetherness and laughter that come when we aren’t distracted by technology and have limited options other than to entertain each other.  I kind of hate worrying constantly about my hundreds (thousands?) of dollars worth of food in the fridge and freezers.  Luckily, only a few hours into the outage, That Boy was able to borrow the generator from his dad that gave us enough power to keep the foodstuffs cold.

Whew.

Now, when you call the power company here, you can ask the automated system for a “Restoration Estimate” and a cheery computer voice will tell you when you will hypothetically have power back.  When we called at first, Computer Voice Suzy didn’t have an answer for us at all.

Because the river flats were on fire.  (This is usually followed by, “What the hell is a river flat?)

A high tension line carrying power pole broke the remote, marshy area of the river basin.  It hadn’t really rained here in quite awhile.  That spark ignited the dead reeds and grass and then proceeded to burn out of control for 11 or so hours, destroying 8 other power poles in the process.

One of them carrying power to my house, 40+ miles away from the ‘flats.

Joy.

SATURDAY …

I was up with the sun (and getting dressed in the dark without any hot water for a shower … hooray bandana day) so I could get to the local community egg hunt.  I was dragging ass in a serious way.  I didn’t want to go help out.  I know … we’re not supposed to admit we don’t always want to be helpful.  Boo.

Then the phone rang.

At 7 in the morning?!

I was in the bathroom and missed the call.  I checked the ID and it was That Boy’s dad.  We are not early morning people.  We do not expect social calls before the sun comes up, so I was immediately anxious about what could have spurred The FIL to call.

I woke up That Boy.

Which he didn’t like at all.

In 20 minutes’ time we were in the car on the way to the hospital.  That Boy’s grandmother had a stroke overnight on Friday.  She died by early afternoon.  We were with family the rest of the day/evening.

And it rained all day.

And the power came back on.

And then the sun came out.

SUNDAY …

I got up for early church so I could avoid the crush of people that would be there at 11am.  I stayed in my bed a very long time trying to convince my body to move.  Church was marvelous.  Joyous.  Raucous.  Fabulous.  It was a party.  An amazing time.

After church we had a family egg hunt in the backyard.  Watching a group of adults scrounge around the backyard, pushing and shoving their ways to the most jelly bean filled plastic eggs was hilarious.  We went out for dinner because none of the preparations for dinner at home had been done on Saturday.  It was a quiet afternoon.

Sometimes, it rains and rains and rains and it gets dark and foreboding and uncomfortable.  Sometimes, it feels terrible standing in the cold rain, like nothing will ever be good again.  Sometimes, though, the sun peeks out.  It promises hope and warmth and new beginning.  This weekend was one of those sometimes. New creation abounds.  You just have to watch for it.

I appreciate any thoughts for That Boy’s family as they process the loss of their vibrant, dynamic, powerful, wonderful, sweet, amazing matriarch.

Em.

Here we are, the eve of Good Friday.  Tomorrow, I will go to church.  I will sit down and read the crucifixion stories of the Gospels.  I will sit in silence and think.  I will write my confession, walk up on stage, and drop it into the mouth of a very large fluorescent refrigerator box fish.

Yes, a fish.  The teaching series of Lent was on the book of Jonah (and how that involves the prophecy of Jesus).  It was chuck full of all kinds of amazing symbolism that fit perfectly with the season.  Being thrown off a boat and puked onto the shore by a fish teaches us lots of things (especially about fish anatomy).  The moral of the story being, sometimes we have to die to things in order to live.  Winter teaches us that.  Lent teaches us that.  Jesus teaches us that.

Hence, a fish.

I will drop my confession in the belly of that fish in all its cardboard and Krylon glory.  I will give away those anxieties and fears and screw ups.  I will shift the weight of those things that keep me up all night.  I will be free of them.

At least for a little while.

And then, I will take communion for the first time in my life.

I will die to the parts of my life I don’t like anymore.  I will die to the unhealthy doubting and hiding and pretending that I haven’t changed in 10 years.  I will die to making believe this process wasn’t perfectly planned just for me.  I will be redeemed.

I’m terrified.

And sooooooooo stoked that I could dance in the street.

I hope you have a fabulous Easter weekend, friends.  I’ll catch you on the flip side.

Em.

Photo: Plastic Mind

… Hosanna Hey Sanna Sanna Sanna Ho Sanna Hey Sanna Ho Superstar …

That scene is my first thought anytime anyone says, “Palm Sunday”.  Are you familiar?  There’s a rock band playing.  Ted Neely, playing Jesus, is riding a donkey.  People are dancing in the streets.  Oh Andrew Lloyd, your musicals do amazing things to me.  RENT (which is not Webber’s) in my favorite, but even in a world before this girl found herself in a church, Superstar was in second place.  I can sing it from top to bottom.  I’ve seen it on stage … more times than I honestly recall including a badass interpretation set in a 1950s Revival Tent (though crucifying people in 1950something was a little odd, the rest of it worked magically).

(Now that I think about it … all of this should have probably been a sign or something …)

It’s the kick off to Holy Week, and as I mentioned the other day, I feel like I should do something extra so far as Lenten sacrifice goes.  What that thing is, I still don’t know.  The first thought I had after, “Hey, I should so do something extra for Holy Week” was …

Well …

No, that can’t be it.

Then I thought a million more times about it.

What should I do?  What should I do?

Well, there’s that one thing.

No.

I don’t think so.

I’m imagining things.

You’re kidding, right?!

I totally talk to myself like that (in my head) on a regular basis.  Please lie and tell me you do the same thing.

Ugh.

But I don’t want to.

Am I supposed to want to?  Yea.  Probably not.

(I’ve literally been staring at this blinking cursor for the last 5 minutes trying to decide if I should keep typing or just can this whole idea so no one knows if I screw it up.)

Think.

Think.

Think.

Stop thinking and just do.

Confession Time …

I am a smoker.  Not a chain-smoking-lady-in-a-bingo-hall.  It’s a habit, yes, but a pretty mild one by comparison to oh … most smokers in the world.

Time Out: In case you were about to mount a comment crusade on the evils of smoking, I’ll have none of that.  No one lives under a rock anymore.  There are warning labels a plenty for what you’re about to post.  You can keep the stones you were about to cast, thanks.

Time Back In …

I really enjoy the occasional smoke break.  The peace.  The quiet.  The nostalgia.  The sociability.  The calm.  I linger.  I savor.  I really, really, really enjoy the moment.  If there were ever something pleasurable and luxurious in my life that could be sacrificed, this is it.  It was my first reaction.  It will not be fun.  I’m really compelled to do it, though, to offer up this enjoyment as an extra promise for Holy Week (after which, I make no promises).

I think I might be crazy.

Really, really, really frickin’ crazy.

7 days and counting, loves.  What are you doing extra this week?  Misery loves company.

Em.

Every night during those quick words between the “Our Father” and “Goodnight”, I say thank you for a laundry list of things.  I like gratitude.  A lot.  I think grateful, rather than demanding, hearts and attitudes are the way to get what you really want.  And on that list of things I say thank you for, every single night, is finding That Boy a job.

Back Story:  That Boy was in an accident at his last job, an entirely not his fault-almost could have killed him-no good very bad deal kind of accident.  It caused injuries that required 2 surgeries, months of physical therapy, and a court battle over his company randomly deciding they could stop paying him in the process (which they very clearly cannot, thank you Michigan Legal System).  For a long, long time, he wasn’t allowed to work by his surgeons.  Then, they released him to sedentary only work, which he hates, and largely does not have the experience or skill base for.  I mean, we’re talking, cannot move, cannot lift, cannot sit too long or stand too long … impossible, especially in this market (Have you heard?!  We live in the worst employment market in the whole country … awesome.).  They’ve since lifted the restrictions some, which is good.

Because of this whole deal, That Boy hasn’t worked in nearly 3 years.  THREE!  My goodness.  We’ve made it work, and I could write an entire book on the my gratitude for providence, but he’s starting to get restless.  Everyday he applies for more jobs.  Everyday he doesn’t hear from anyone.  Everyday we have tense conversations about how many applications he’s filled out or resumes he’s submitted.  Everyday he gets a little less confident that he’ll ever hear from anyone.

I think that’s the worst part of the job hunt.  It’s not rejection, although that also sucks.  It’s not hearing anything … left hanging in the ether somewhere … booo.

Yesterday, I woke up to his phone ringing.  It was an employer with whom he had applied.  They not only wanted to offer him an interview, they wanted to do it immediately over the phone.  Yes!  I didn’t know this until I inquired as to why he was dancing around the kitchen in his bathrobe while he thought no one was looking.  (isn’t that adorable?  he’ll hate me for telling you … alas, irresistible)

An interview?!

YAY!

Now, it would be great if that interview went well enough to warrant them calling him in for interview numero deux (which we’ll hear about on Wednesday, they say … please, please, please, pretty please), and even cooler if that led to him scoring this job.

BUT.

It’s not even about that for me right now.  The interview opportunity itself has renewed his confidence (at least partially) in his own worth, the market, and the continued pursuit of the perfect (read: first one to say yes) job finding him.  That’s good enough for me.  I am soooooooooo grateful already.

It’s not my plan, after all.  It will all work out in the end.  I can just be joyous and filled with gratitude at the chance to participate in it.

Em.

For more Gratituesday, check out Laura at Heavenly Homemakers.

Welcome to the first post in a series I’m calling “Churchin'”.  It seeks to explore spirituality, theology (without the theologians), and current events all under the overarching theme of Life as a Journey as the core of religious understanding and experience.  I’m going to tell the story of how I ended up where I am, and the road I’m walking now that I’m here.  I welcome the addition of your stories and comments as well.  Remember, I’m not out to stand on a rock and proclaim myself the best religious scholar of all time, nor the teller of absolute truth, so please be gentle.

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Religious uncertainty has been the name of the game since I was born.  My mother’s parents were Methodist and Episcopalian, but compromised under pressure from both sides that their particular denomination was “the best one” and chose to raise my mother as a Lutheran.  My father is a Roman Catholic.  When my parents were married, my mother refused to raise her future children in the Catholic Church so we (my brothers and I) were baptized as infants in the Lutheran Church where she spent her young adulthood.  The pastor was her best friend’s dad.

We were consecrated to the Church as infants, yes, but that’s basically where it ended.  We didn’t attend Church regularly.  We weren’t part of any education programs or youth classes.  We didn’t talk about what we were or what we weren’t or what either of those things meant.  There was an unmentioned consensus that we were “just like everyone else” (by which the demographics of this area say: Protestant), but we didn’t have much of an idea what that meant.  We didn’t feel like we were missing out.

Ours was a house filled with love and fun, but not talk about G-d or Church or religious doctrine.  When my brother died at 18 months old (I was 4 …) there was talk of angels and heaven and some vague stories about that being where he was (a difficult concept for a 4 year old … here one minute, not the next … ).  I don’t remember a funeral.  I can’t honestly tell you there was one or wasn’t.  He was cremated and his ashes spread in the National Forest … an event I was not a part of, but have been told stories about.  My religious understanding at this point consisted of knowing that sometimes people leave, and when they do, there are these ‘angels’ that look like really wispy wing people that come to your house and take the person to live in the sky.

This is probably the problem with feel good religious imagery that lacks theological background.  I don’t fault my parents, though.  My mother was grieving intensely and trying to deal with explaining to a small child where her brother went while that dead child’s identical twin remained alive, a constant reminder of what might have been.  I don’t blame her for not walking me through the Jesus story or taking us to Sunday school.  She had enough on her plate trying to get out of bed everyday and keep us fed.

Stories about angels and sky castles and a perfect world where no one ages are comforting.  If they work for you, awesome.  They led me a bit astray though, because they weren’t coupled with the “Why?!” behind them.  I didn’t know about the Bible.  I didn’t know about the crucifixion or resurrection or redemption.  I didn’t know about the loving (and occasionally vengeful) G-d.  It was like I got to watch the highlight reel without the sound on.

This set me up for a generally unreligious childhood … until my great grandmother bought me a copy of the King James Version and started secretly sending me to Vacation Bible School while my mother thought she was babysitting.

More soon.

Em.

1. I have fallen off the gluten free wagon again.  Ugh.  My body is really mad at me for it.  You would think I would learn this lesson by now.  GLUTEN = bad news bears for this girl’s health and wellbeing.  “But!”, my brain screams, “GLUTEN is soooooo tasty”.  Le sigh.  Yes, brain, gluten filled foods are delicious, but they do terrible things to my guts, mental acuity, energy level, and all around happiness with life.  Awful terrible no good very bad things.  I will spare you the specifics.  I need to get this GLUTEN thing under control again.  The primary problem? Laziness.  Some nights I don’t feel like making special food because no one else in my house is intolerant.  Then, once I cave on dinner it’s a slippy slope of gluten since I’ve already “screwed up the day” (like there’s a GLUTEN-meter somewhere keeping track …).  Boooooo.  Must. Stop. Eating. Cookies.

2. I recently started looking for a second job.  One surely isn’t enough apparently.  Ok, it is.  We make it ok, but the lovely That Boy isn’t working (still … after he was released to return to work post-accident recovery um, a million years ago … ok, less than that, but it’s starting to feel that way).  We don’t have to be a 2 income household, but you’ll recall I work for more warm fuzzy feelings than dollar bills so we’re really a 1/2 income family at this point.  If we want more room in our budget to give and pay off debt and travel and continue to provide care for my elderly car (which I adore, for the record) , we need more income.

3. A highlight from the job searching … I recently applied for two different jobs with the county health department.  One of them was a stretch for me to ‘qualify’ for based on licensure and experience (I’m a firm believer in applying above and below your qualifications and seeing what sticks …).  The other I was woefully overqualifed for.  The job posting closed at 5pm on Friday last week.  At 523pm, I had not one, but TWO pretty pre-written rejection letters in my inbox.  Nicely done, municipality!  Way to be on top of rejecting people before you’ve probably read any of their resume or cover letter.  Haha.  Sweet.

4. I love peanut butter M&Ms.  Too much.  They’re full of dyes and chemicals and high fructose corn syrup (probably …).  My mouth thinks they’re also full of sunshine and smiles.

5. I want to have the spring cleaning bug this week that I had last week.  Last week it was cold and still snowing and not yet time for throwing open windows so one can spring clean, but damn if I wasn’t itchin’ to do just that.  This week, the sun is shining and the temperatures are climbing above freezing, but I’m less than interested in cleaning anything.  My brain seems to have this artificial timeframe for getting this cleaning done, and my body does not want to follow along.

6. Katie (from Kitchen Stewardship, a rockin’ cool blogger who you should be reading …) reminded me today that we’ve reached the halfway point of Lent.  Yes!  I haven’t had a drop of soda the entire time.  Double yes!  I have also not died without Diet Coke, which I was entirely convinced would immediately happen sometime around Day 2 or 3.  Triple yes!  It’s not all fun and successes, though.  As Katie points out, Lent isn’t just about sacrifice, but increased prayer and reflection. The prayer and meditation goals I set for Lent?  Yea … about that … I was johnny on it for weeks 1 and 2, but then … well … ok, I need to get back on the horse and try again.  Maybe I should combine the goals I’m not meeting in various parts of my life?  I don’t think the Book of Common Prayer has any words about not eating gluten, though … boo.

7. I’m trying to think of ways I can secretly turn up the thermostat without That Boy noticing because I’m freakin’ freezing tonight.  My coldy cold fingers keep misspelling words and making me backspace like a crazy person.  I am, of course, wearing only a tshirt, and as such would be an idiot to actually turn up the furnace to compensate for my lazy disregard for finding a sweater.  A girl can dream …

Anything awesome or terrible or otherwise random going on in your life?  Tell me about it!

Em.

Past Tense

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