Sunday, June 22, 2008

Times are Tough

I posted last week about the abrupt departure of the Senior Pastor at my church. It was very unexpected and mysterious; lots of unanswered questions.

In the last week or so, some of those questions have been answered. Sometimes I wish I were still in the dark. I can not bury my head in the sand, though, I must face the facts.

It turns out that the Senior Pastor has been having an inappropriate relationship with a woman who works at the church with the Youth Group. She came on board over a year ago when our Youth Pastor left the church because he was not able to devote enough time to the job. This woman said she felt a strong calling to fill a need at the church and did so as a volunteer for several months before being hired by the church as a part time Youth Pastor. Although she worked mainly with the high school aged kids, she was in a position to lead my middle school children many times. This is very unsettling to me. I trusted her to care for my kids and while I have no reason to believe that she didn't take care of them with the utmost diligence, it still leaves me a little shaken.

To further complicate matters the Senior Pastor (SP) and the Youth Pastor (YP) contacted me about six months ago to talk to me about the children's ministry at the church. They wanted to know if I was happy with the way the Associate Pastor (AP) was handling her job as far as ministering to my younger children went. I mentioned to them that my elementary school kids felt left out a lot of times because the youth group was so active and there weren't a whole lot of programs for their age. I was later told that the AP was approached about starting a Sunday evening class for kids and that she said there were no volunteers. This was after I had volunteered to help out in whatever capacity I could to get this program off the ground. I was led to believe she lied about it. I was advised not to speak directly to the AP because she was spreading untruths about a very close friend of mine; I was likely to get the same treatment if I spoke to her. I had no foundation to believe that the SP and the YP weren't telling me the truth. I felt highly uneasy when I was asked if I wanted the AP fired. Whoa! I wasn't seeking to have anyone fired. I simply wanted a program in place for my kids to be ministered to.

The program did end up getting started and I began helping out once a month with the group. It was apparent that the AP's heart was not fully in the executions of the lessons. I chalked this up to the fact that I had been told she didn't really want to do it in the first place. I now understand the pressure that she must have been going through the last few months. I feel used and manipulated. I have had to go to the AP and apologize for any part I may have played in the stress and hurt she has endured.

People aren't perfect, I realize this. No one is above reproach. Everyone is capable of everything. It saddens me that this has happened though. The lapse in judgment on the part of the SP in having an affair with a co-worker is an obvious sin. That sin was not committed against me, however. The two of them using me to further their agenda is what I take very personally. I am considerably angry about this. I am not quite sure how I am going to handle it yet. Asking them why they did what they did is likely to lead to more lies and excuses which I don't think I could stomach at this point.

I still don't understand how a man who is not only a minister, but also a trained counselor could go so grievously astray. It just shows me that the power of the enemy is strong and is very much alive and working among us. Sometimes we discount that force and it sneaks up on us when we consider ourselves immune to it. No one is immune; we are all vulnerable to the influence of Satan in our lives. Vigilant prayer is the only thing that keeps us from going down the wrong path. When did the SP and the YP stop being vigilant? What did they say to themselves that gave them permission to act on their feelings? What made it okay to involve other people in their web of lies? I am having an exceedingly hard time processing all of this.

As I mentioned in my previous journal this leaves my church in a strikingly precarious position. Moving forward from this is not going to be easy. Change is going to be not only inevitable, but necessary.

We have just been asked to pledge a lot of money to retire the debt of the church. In previous giving campaigns we were assured that the next phase of the program would be building a family oriented recreation/outreach center. Now it seems that the powers that be have ignored the needs of those of us with children in deference to another agenda. This doesn't seem right to me. Why am I being asked again to put the desires of my family on the back burner so that I can pay off debt that was incurred some 20 years ago just as I was asked to do in the last campaign to so that we could rebuild the chapel? This again was essential to the older generation of the church. Am I to wait until my kids are grown for a family friendly area to be a priority of the church?

There are going to be no families with children left in the next year if things continue in this vein. Again I wonder who is listening to the voice of God. Why would He want for this church, with such a long history in the community, to die out with this generation? What purpose would that serve?

Things have to change in order for things to be different. What is so difficult to understand about that? It seems pretty elementary to me. If you keep doing what you've always done, you will keep getting what you have always gotten.

God requires us at times to step out in faith and avoid doing what seems safe; to take a chance and see that he can lift us out of the free-fall that we are plunging into. I want to stay the course and see what God has in store for the church, but I can not sacrifice my children on the altar of conformity. We need a shift and we will need to seek that change wherever the Lord leads us, whether it is at this church or elsewhere. I feel strongly that the Lord will lead us in the right direction if we are still and listen. We can't leave him out of the decisions that we make. It is His kingdom we are furthering, not our own.

James 1

1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:

Trials and Temptations
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

9The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.

12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

13When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

16Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. 17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Listening and Doing
19My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Everyone has a story.

Everyone has a story. What makes a story worth telling? Is a story more interesting if a lot of people hear it? Or do a lot of people listen to it because it's more interesting? It's hard to say.

Misery loves company, so it stands to reason that telling our stories will draw people toward us who have similar experiences. It is a way of bonding with each other. In my experience this is what often happens. 'Let me tell you what happened to me!' I mention as I walk into a party at a friends house. As I begin to tell my tale I am interrupted with the inevitable -- 'That is nothing compared to what happened to me!' My fellow party goer declares. I don't know whether to feel elated that her experience is worse than mine or deflated that she just took the wind right out of my sails and successfully refocused the attention on herself.

This has repeatedly happened to me. It causes me to wonder -- Is my story inferior? Am I not a good story teller? Or is it that I am just not a drama queen? I don't constantly need attention drawn to me. I am more of a problem solver than I am a maven of discombobulation. I don't thrive on chaos. I am the one that people come to when they are in need of equanimity; the sound voice amongst the bedlam that they seem to propel towards themselves. I am able to look at things and assess the problem and find a suitable solution.

Does this mean I am boring? In the deep recesses of my mind, sometimes that is my fear. I fear that I am blah compared to the person who swoops in the room amidst a swarm of turmoil. She has had the worst day, the biggest catastrophe, the most upheaval. How can I compete with that? When it comes down to it I am not in pity party competition with them, that is not my style.

This is why I say that it is the deepest corner of my mind that niggles and taunts me, telling me that to be me is to be humdrum, dull, uninteresting. Who wants to be any of those things? I know on some level that I am not a loser. It can be tough to perceive that though, when a more flamboyant personality it staring you in the face; it seems that everyone else would rather listen to her latest tale of woe.

Over the years it has bothered me less and less that I am often overshadowed by these types. I know that underneath all that pomp and circumstance is a little kid whose mom didn't pay enough attention her. Somehow she never grew beyond the disappointment that Dad didn't show up for the school play. It is a sad place to be stuck, so if it makes her feel better about herself to steal my thunder, then I will allow her. It is the best that I can do as I say a silent prayer that she will find her way out of her private angst and feelings of inadequacy. I hope that my putting aside my pride will help to bolster my sister in life.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Homemade Toothpaste?

In my quest to go natural and homemade with as many things as possible I have finally gone off the deep end (or so some seem to think). I have started making my own toothpaste. I have yet to convince any of my family members to try it, but I am not deterred. I love the way it makes my teeth feel 'just been to the dentist' clean. It doesn't have any fluoride in it, but I have been doing some research on fluoride and I am not convinced that fluoride doesn't do more harm than good anyhow. I drink plenty of fluoridated water (well coffee made with fluoridated water), so I think I get enough of that anyway. So for those of you who are as brave as I am and want to take the homemade toothpaste plunge here is my recipe.

1/4 cup baking soda
1 T coconut oil
5 drops peppermint essential oil

Mix all the ingredients together and add water drop by drop until you get the consistency that you want. I cleaned out an old Crest Expressions toothpaste tube (it's really more of a bottle) and used it to store my homemade delight in.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


I abhor Osteonecrosis, the bane of my existence for the past 13 1/2 years. I became a corporeal old woman at age 30. I was never to have a 'normal' pregnancy. I don't even know what that is like. When I hear women complaining about the aches and pains of pregnancy, it is hard not to get a little bit envious. I would have liked to have experienced 'routine'.

My experience makes me a little less apt to be benevolent toward whining. I don't like that about myself. I can usually be sympathetic and empathetic to almost anyone in almost any circumstance, but when I hear people yammering about the normal twinges and soreness they are experiencing, I want to wail! "Don't you know how lucky you are!" I want to scream! "You want to know what pain is, sister? Just walk in my place for one day. Believe me you will have a new appreciation for pain."

I have not had a pain free day since 1994. I remember it well. October 1994. I was just beginning my second trimester of my first pregnancy. Everything seemed to be fine with the baby; I really hadn't even had much morning sickness. A normal pregnancy. I had longed to be a mommy since I was a little girl. I couldn't wait for the little one to arrive. Just coast through the fall, make it through Christmas and New Year's and before Valentine's Day my deepest desire would be fulfilled.

My pie in the sky plans came to a screeching halt around Halloween when I began to feel a painful popping sensation in my hip whenever I sat in a low chair. Not to worry said the Obstetrician; women often experience stretching in their ligaments in anticipation for birth. The pain worsened to the point where it became almost unbearable to sit for very long. Then when I would try to stand up my bones felt as if the were rubbing together. I had to catch my breath and hold on to the side of my cubicle for a few seconds as a wave of nausea overwhelmed me. I did this about once every 30 minutes for the next 2 months. The OB was still adamant that it was nothing to be concerned about; just normal pregnancy aches and pains.

In his defense he was more concerned about my preeclampcia at that time. My blood pressure was high. I had severe edema; my feet looked like two large water balloons on the end of a couple of tree trunks. I had to quit my job earlier than expected because of these complications. We didn't want the baby to come early. So right after the new year, I took a leave of absence and went home on a modified bed rest. I was allowed to get up and move around but was supposed to take it easy. My hip pain did ease up some at that point so I figured the OB must have been right; it was nothing more than ligament pain.

My little baby girl was born on January 30, 1995. The labor was long and arduous, as a lot of first labors are, but she was healthy and I was over the moon. I took my girl home and began my life as a mom.

The niggling, okay, intense pain in my hip continued throughout the next few months. Finally when my daughter was four months old, in May of 1995, I took a trip to the family doctor. He listened intently and sent me to an Orthopedist. The Orthopedist took X-Rays and an MRI and immediately diagnosed avascular (osteo) necrosis. My right hip was already advance to a stage 4. My left hip at that time was barely showing signs of the disease. I got the weighty news that there really was but one cure for the disease. Total hip replacement. My right hip was too far advanced for any joint sparing procedures that they could offer. My left hip, which had no pain in it, was given a 40% chance of remediation from a coring operation. Their advice was to not have any more kids, hold off a couple of years to have the right hip replaced while waiting to see how fast the disease in the left hip progressed. Whoa! I was only 30 years old. I had just had my first child. I wanted more children. This was a lot to digest.

I went on to have three more kids in the next four years. I was going to write , that I decided to have three more kids, but I didn't consciously decide to have more kids. They just kind of decided to come to me. My second pregnancy wasn't that dreadful, he was born in May of 1996 after a fairly short labor. My third pregnancy was a little more arduous. My hip became very painful toward the end of term. I went in to have him on August 28th. Nothing happened. He was born nine days later on September 7, 1997. The labor was long and he was my biggest baby at 8lb 6 0z. I vowed to never be pregnant again in the summer in Texas. Lo and behold, twenty three months later in August of 1999, I had my third little boy, my fourth child. The pregnancy with him was pretty easy as far as my hip pain was concerned, but due to some other complications he was delivered via c-section. The recovery was a lot worse than the recovery with my other babies. Having had both c-section and vaginally delivered babies, I'll tell you -- vaginal is preferable.

My babies were all healthy and I fared well, all things considered. I was never able to sit on the floor and play with my little ones though. Sitting cross legged was a thing of the past. I wish I had known that the last time I sat on the floor that way -- I would have savored the moment a tad. I was able to do all the typical things with them, just with the constant pain that would never go away.

Pain is such a silent affliction. If you don't say anything, then no one knows. Which on the one hand is good; you can assimilate. On the other hand it makes it hard for other people to understand that the disease is real. Most of the time I would just go on about my business and do what needed to be done and disregard the pain. What else could I do after all? I had four small kids to take care of; no time for rest.

In September of 2002, I began to see that I couldn't put off that right hip replacement much longer. I found a competent Orthopaedic surgeon and prepared to have the operation when school was out in the spring. I made plans for people to take care of the kids (who were 8, 7, 5 & 3) while I was in the hospital and to take care of me while I recovered. On June 3, 2003, I went in and had the right hip replaced. I was surprised at how much pain I was in when I woke up after the surgery. It was absolutely, hands down the worst pain I could possibly have imagined. Sawing your bone off, reaming out your hip socket and hammering a titanium steel rod into your femur tends to smart a bit. I stayed in the hospital for six days. I went home to recuperate. It was a long, painful process that took about three months.

It wasn't long after the right hip replacement that my left hip began giving me grief. I have tried alternate treatments like chiropractic care, aromatherapy, supplements, homeopathy and diet changes to alleviate the pain. It has worked for the worst of the pain, but I still must face the inevitable. It is time to get the left hip replaced. Within the next year it will have to happen. There are days that I am in such misery that I can't do things the way that I should. I miss out on things because walking across large parking lots, to the other side of huge stadiums, is simply too much. This summer my kids are going to want to go to the local theme and water parks and go camping. That will wipe me out. I'll do it. Just like I always do, but it will be at great personal expense; an expense that my family doesn't realize.

I just wanted to have a normal life. I wanted a family. I wanted to be active in their lives, to be involved with their education. I wanted to be an integral part of their lives. I got all of that. I don't remember what it was like to not be in pain any more than I can recall what it was like to be single and childless. I have a vague memory of it, but that is about it. It would be really fantastic to be pain free. I would love to be able to run and play with my kids like they want me to. I have tremendous guilt about not being able to. I hope they don't have to go to too much therapy over that when they grow up. When it's all said and done though, I have done the best that I could with the hand that I was dealt. Kids are going to complain about their moms no matter what. So I press on.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The mind of a child.

The school year has wound to a close. The page has turned on another chapter in the lives of my children. Each year holds the promise of new things to learn, fresh ideas to be formed. As the year unfolded they grew and matured and acquired new knowledge as only children can do, with their minds open and hearts exposed.

Oh, how I wish I had the naivete of a child again; when everything was so new and fresh and had such potential. For me the lessons are sometimes hard won. I find that I get stuck in a place of stagnancy more often than I would like.

Somewhere along the line as we grow up we learn to close ourselves off from the naked openness with which we are born. Little by little things happen in our lives that chip away at our unprotected psyche. We become indeed a shell of the person we were born as. While we are being filled up with all those good things like learning to master new skills such as walking, talking and communing with the world around us; it leaves us open.

It is in this open state that the negative rubbish enters our brain. The hurts, letdowns and defeats creep in and threaten to overtake our minds to the point where we forget what it is like to be unrestricted and free. However, the mind is a wonderful thing. We can still access the part of our brain that remembers what it was like to be a child and to have the innocence of youth. We need only to retrieve those memories and put them into the forefront of our minds. Then they can be used to open the door to the compartment we have closed ourselves into to avoid being disappointed.

It takes some practice and some concentration and repetition, but that childlike freshness can again be the force that drives us. We can once again open ourselves up to newfangled ideas and novel concepts. What a phenomenal adventure that would be. I think I am going to try it.


" One should examine oneself for a very long time before thinking of condemning others." ~Moliere

" Many of us believe that wrongs aren't wrong if it's done by nice people like ourselves." ~Author Unknown

" The essence of immorality is the tendency to make an exception of myself." ~Jane Addams

" How seldom we weigh our neighbors in the same balance as ourselves." ~Thomas à Kempis

Psalm 51:10:
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 26:2:
2 Test me, O LORD, and try me,
examine my heart and my mind;

Psalm 139:23-24:
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Ouch! It hurts sometimes to have to examine your life and your motives and actions and find them lacking in purity.

So often it is infinitely more appealing to see the faults of others rather than to look internally and see that when it boils down to it, you are just as faulty as the person you were criticising. It takes a magnanimous person to admit that they need to change their ways.

Life has a great circularity to it. What goes around will eventually come around. It is so much better to send favorable things out so that they come back to you in like manner. Often though we send out rotten energy and expect sweet energy to make its way back to us. It doesn't work that way.

As I have grown older and gotten more life experience under my belt I have been much more careful to surround myself with positivity whenever I can. I can see more clearly that I attract what I send out.

You are naturally drawn to that which you see in others that is like yourself. You may not even be conscious of it, but it happens just the same. You may find yourself in the same unfortunate circumstances time and time again or in the same kinds of deleterious relationships over and over. There is a common denominator there that must be examined. That common denominator is you. It is sometimes hard to admit that you bring the dreadfulness on yourself, but there really is no other way to look at it.

Like I mentioned, over the years this has become increasingly evident to me. Every once in a while I have to reexamine things and trim my life of toxic people and get out of negative situations that I find myself in. It's not always easy to distance myself from malignant relationships, but as I get more and more adept at not letting them in to my life to begin with; the incidents are fewer and farther between. When they do come up though, I turn to my God to give me fortitude to change my life for the better and ask that he create a fit spirit within me.