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October 26, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in food, health, life, movies, work, worship.
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Tomorrow, after Boy-o’s dad comes to pick him up, I will be cleaning out my cupboards and refrigerator, giving the food in them away, and making a shopping list. I’m starting over from scratch. After a decade and a half of laughing in the face of Mother Nature and willfully refusing to take care of myself, type 2 diabetes has finally come a-knocking at my door.

I’ve always had a genetic predisposition to developing it, courtesy of my maternal grandmother, who controlled hers through diet alone until she was in her 80’s, but my love of all things sugary has definitely aggravated the onset. Before I began the lifestyle changes that helped me lose 60 pounds in 2006, my lab work placed me in the pre-diabetic category, but after 9 months of intense discipline in my diet and exercise, my blood glucose dropped to acceptable levels. I had stopped smoking and my asthma had improved dramatically. And then a year ago, I started a job as a child welfare caseworker, a job that made me desperately unhappy. I was fired 8 months later, and the following month saw the demise of my marriage. Since then, depression and a lack of energy and financial resources (for weight-loss meetings and depression and asthma medications) have meant that healthy habits went on the back burner. And now, the chickens have come home to roost.

I’m a little afraid, but strangely, I’m also filled with a sense of “I always KNEW this was going to happen – and finally it HAS, so let’s get on with it now!” Inevitability. Yeah, that’s it.

geico-cavemen-restaurant.jpg I’m going to try a version of the Paleolithic diet, sometimes called the Neanderthal diet or the Caveman diet. I’m not going to go slaughtering my own food, but I’m going to try to stick to lean meat, seafood, eggs, and stuff that I could pick off a tree or dig out of the ground. And I’m going to have to make friends with herbs and spices and give up on sauces. Lots and lots of water, though that’s not really a problem, as I love water. It just takes discipline to be a water drinker, and lack of discipline is what landed me in this boat to begin with. I’ll keep juice and milk in the house for Boy-o, but snacking on fruit and seeds instead of cheese and crackers will be better for him, too. Fortunately, he loves broccoli “trees” and all manner of other raw veggies – it has just been pure laziness on my part buying packaged snacks.

So, that’s that. Change of subject…since I’m too lazy to do another complete post!

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Well, I’m really hating my job…as in I have complete and utter loathing for it. No, really, I’m not kidding. I work in a call center as a customer service rep for a wireless phone service provider. I’ve done this kind of work before, in college, and for a little while right after I figured out a career in the field I majored in wasn’t in the cards for me. And it sucks. I was telling someone today that the more I work in customer service, the more I realize how much I really, really hate people. I also said that the thing about the call center industry that doesn’t make sense to me is that the entire job consists of being on the phone and being nice, yet all rewards and promotions and incentives in the company are geared toward getting to spend time OFF the phone. The people actually on the phones are the ones who keep the call center engine grinding away, who are told how important it is to sit in your chair, keep taking calls, to document all conversations quickly and thoroughly, and to move on to the next call. Doesn’t it seem kind of strange that, for doing your job well, you are rewarded with OPT (off the phone time), which means…NOT having to do your job? Or am I overthinking this?

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Lastly, I watched this little piece of cinematic fluff today. It made me cry. Whether that’s because I’m overly fragile or because it’s a really good story with lots of great stuff about a compassionate and loving God, I don’t know. But I do love Ben Stiller. And seeing Anne Bancroft made me smile, because she was one of my very favorite actors of all time.

It really made me want to go back to church.

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"U2-charist": Bono moves in mysterious ways January 29, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in theology, worship.
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Mon Jan 29, 9:18 AM ET

LONDON (Reuters) – For Anglicans who still haven’t found what they’re looking for, the Church of England is staging its first “U2-charist” communion service — replacing hymns with hit songs by the Irish supergroup.

“Rock music can be a vehicle of immense spirituality,” said Bishop of Grantham Timothy Ellis, announcing plans for the unique service in the central English town of Lincoln in May.

A live band is to play U2 classics like “Beautiful Day” and “Mysterious Ways” with special singalong lyrics displayed on a giant screen. Seating for the 500-strong congregation is to be re-arranged so everyone can dance and wave their hands.

The service is to focus on the Millennium Development Goals — U2’s lead singer Bono is a leading promoter of the targets to alleviate world poverty.

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I part ways with many Anglicans/Episcopalians on the subject of what is appropriate music for the liturgy…I grew up in the 1970’s/1980’s post Vatican II Catholic Church and spent most of my childhood Sundays singing folk songs and other contemporary arrangements. Some of my favorites were “Though the Mountains May Fall”, “Here I Am, Lord” and “Gather Us In”. I always hated the organ and thought the acoustic guitar and the flute were the way to go for church music. At my wedding, the church required us to pay the organist whether we used her or not, so I ended up paying the organist as well as hiring other musicians to play the guitar, piano, and flute. I understood their logic – the money the organist makes from playing weddings is considered to be part of their compensation, but I still resented it. When we got back from the honeymoon, we immediately went church shopping and landed in the Episcopal church. Theologically, I’m at home, but it’s a fact: the music has been the hardest thing for me to adjust to. I thought it was very “stodgy” at first, but I have come to like many of the hymns we sing in my own way. Still, I would jump at the chance to participate in a Eucharist and hear something else besides the arrangements from the 1982 Hymnal. This “U2-charist” would be very interesting. I’ve always thought that the modern trend towards electric guitars and drum kits in the non-denominational mega-churches creates music so loud that it actually takes away from worship, but I’ve also never seen these instruments used in a liturgical service.

Since we live within 3 hours of both our families… December 27, 2006

Posted by introspectreangel in Boy-o, life, The Princess, worship.
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…we were able to spend a part of Christmas with both of them, as well as have some nice private family time at home. In light of recent events, I was a bit subdued and not my usual exuberant Christmas-time self, and who can blame me? None of the RevGals, obviously, who have given me many warm wishes, prayers and lots of virtual hugs, for which I am so incredibly thankful. {{{RevGals}}}

Since we passed through the town where husband’s parents live on the way back home from visiting my family, we attended the Christmas Eve Eucharist at St. P’s, where midnight Mass now gets OUT at midnight instead of STARTING at midnight (brilliant!). I saw that some changes have been taking place there – the church’s voicemail said that they had a children’s service at 5:30 on Christmas Eve, which was a pleasant surprise for a church that only has about 10 children. I wish we could have gone, but just because I can quite happily spend all day and all night in church doesn’t mean my family can! They also welcomed visitors with hot apple cider in the parish hall afterwards and passed out free copies of Those Episkopols, by Dennis R. Maynard. It made me homesick for that church. Our new parish in Even Smaller College Town is so very tiny, and in spite of that I’m having a hard time finding myself! I’ve always been more comfortable in mid-size parishes where I can participate without having people ask where I was if I miss a week. In any case, husband has joined the choir, and I’ve gone once to a Benedictine spirituality class that the rector holds twice a month, but then we had some snow and ice and it hasn’t met this month, so hopefully that will start back up in January.

I think I need to accept that even though The Princess was only with me for a few days, I have indeed experienced the loss of her all over again, very similar to the loss the first time around all those years ago when my parents stepped in, and I’m going to need to grieve it. No problems there – every time I think The Princess’ name, tears start to well up and I feel pissed off all over again. I made a valiant attempt to try to work out some kind of overnight weekends visitation schedule, but was told that needs to wait until my parents figure out what weekends my dad will be coming home. On the bright side, they sounded agreeable to it, and mentioned that the weekends he comes home would be good weekends to send her to us so they can be alone, but on the down side, they still wouldn’t COMMIT! ARRRGGGGHHHHH! THEY WILL NEVER FREAKING COMMIT!!!! If we haven’t managed to work something out by the end of January, I will in all likelihood have to take a more drastic step that I really don’t want to think about at this time.

Santa Claus brought Boy-o more toys than he will be able to play with for the next two years. His favorite was a set of toy cars that included an ambulance, 3 fire trucks, a police car, tow truck, dump truck, and snow plow. He also got an animatronic T-Rex from my sister, and he spent all morning yesterday pushing the button that makes it roar and telling it “Don’t eat my trucks! Don’t eat my toys! Don’t eat my computer!” (AKA his My First LeapPad) It was almost (but obviously not quite) too cute for words.

“Simmering” is such an unattractive quality… June 30, 2006

Posted by introspectreangel in death, tattoos, worship.
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…yet one I am quite prone to. I’ve been quietly simmering since Easter Sunday over an incident that happened while standing in line for St. P’s annual Easter brunch. The early service was over. My husband and I were waiting in line and trying to entertain Gabe, and we were talking to some friends of ours who have a daughter about Boy-o’s age. After we had made our way up to the food, gotten our plates, and sat down, one of our friends asked me if I had heard the comments being made by the people in line behind us. I said that I had not, and he told me that they had been talking about the small tattoo I have on my forearm.

The tattoo itself is a Celtic knotwork tattoo that I had done about seven years ago. Like most knotwork, the design itself has no particular meaning, but in general, knotwork is a statement of beauty in simplicity – the path that never terminates except within itself. Knotwork also symbolizes the belief that all of life is interconnected. Perhaps I was being a tad rebellious getting it in such a visible location, but I knew full well I’d be wearing it the rest of my life, and I didn’t want to have to use a mirror or crane my neck around at odd angle to be able to look at it.

In any case, our friend told me that the people in line behind us had been whispering about the tattoo, and about HOW could my husband, a respectable member of the altar guild and the choir, be married to someone like that?! I laughed it off at the time, but I’ve been getting angrier and angrier over the weeks since. I don’t really know why – it doesn’t matter, and I know it doesn’t, but I guess there is just always that hope that the people you meet in church are going to somehow be finer human beings than those you meet outside. But that’s silly – walking through those red doors doesn’t magically make anyone shed all of our biases and preconceived notions, not even me.

In any case, I think I’m about ready to finally be over it. This past Sunday we had quite a few visitors at coffee hour. One of them was a woman that I thought was probably about my age, perhaps a little older, and she had some knotwork designs peering out from under the left sleeve of her shirt. I walked up and said hello, and asked if I could see the rest of her tattoo. When she lifted the sleeve, she revealed an enormous Celtic cross stretching almost from shoulder to elbow, with a girl’s name and birth and death dates on the inside. When I asked, she told me it was her niece who had died last year, and I simply smiled and told her, “What a beautiful way to honor her memory.”

Oh, I’m so tired… June 5, 2006

Posted by introspectreangel in birthdays, family, life, worship.
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I tossed and turned last night thinking of all the many things I have to get done before we leave for vacation on Friday. This spring, like most springs of my adult life, has been incredibly full to bursting with familial obligations. This year they mostly centered around my little sister’s wedding, which went off last weekend. Showers were thrown, luncheons were had, music was selected, fingers were *snapped*, eyes were narrowed in displeasure, keys to the getaway vehicle were locked inside it, and the happy couple made it to their honeymoon destination in California intact. Now it’s my family’s turn. We’ll be off to A-Kon in Dallas, followed by 5 days in the Texas Hill Country around Austin, with a side trip to Sea World in San Antonio for the boy. OK, let’s get real: Sea World is for me, but I think Gabe will have a good time, too!

When we get back, we have husband’s family pool party and an engagement party to attend, my daughter’s visit with us to plan, and my birthday to acknowledge. Also a swing set, sandbox, and wading pool to buy. Also a mind to lose. And ummm…uhhhh…yeah, I think that’s it.

So, I think it’s fair to say that I *really* needed the reminder of Pentecost. Granted, I didn’t get to derive much inspiration from Father M.’s sermon yesterday, mostly because I was too busy building a Jenga-style tower of Prayer Books and hymnals with my monster and trying to keep him from noticing that Daddy was up front in the choir loft and therefore NOT in the back and playing with him! But the very act of putting on our red clothing was meaningful, and looking around the church at the sea of red made me smile. I thought of the day I was received into the church 3 years ago, and Boy-o’s baptism 2 years ago, and our move to this state 1 year ago: all three of these events took place at Pentecost. I thought of all the ways, ordinary and extraordinary, in which I have had “Pentecost moments” where the Spirit has moved in my own life and the lives of those I love. And I was so incredibly grateful for every single one of them – and every single one of you out there who read this. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

I was listening to a conversation… May 15, 2006

Posted by introspectreangel in theology, work, worship.
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…between two of my coworkers today, both of whom are absolutely delightful women – I can’t even tell you how much laughter we’ve shared with each other in the almost-year that I’ve worked here. Anyway, both of them are Pentecostal. One is the only-wears-dresses and doesn’t-wear-makeup-or-watch-TV sort, and the other worships at an Assemblies of God church and has no problem with pants or makeup, but thoroughly rejects anything secular in her choice of TV or music. I love these women, I really do. We talk about all manner of things having to do with their worship style versus mine (they call theirs “pew-jumping”!), and they love to talk about the Bible and what particular verses might be trying to teach them. These conversations are always illuminating to me, because we have such different approaches to the Scriptures, but I never say anything. I guess I don’t want to seem argumentative, or perhaps I just know that no matter what I say their opinions are fixed and won’t be changed, so why bother? (Hmmm, that’s kind of a cruddy attitude for a wannabe seminarian…)

But in the course of this conversation, a rather disturbing idea occurred to me. It was that, somehow, it seems no matter how much they claim to be free from all fear because they are saved, they are very afraid indeed – afraid of challenges to their ideas, and afraid to try and really embrace the idea of a God who is bigger than they are, and whose ways are unknowable. They say they are open to the amazing workings of the Holy Spirit in ways which non-Pentecostals are not, but there seem to be a limited number of forms those workings take – speaking in tongues, holy laughter, and being slain in the Spirit are just a few. I’ve asked one of them if they think there is any possibility that maybe, just maybe the Spirit works in a quieter way through our Church and through the gradual changing of people’s hearts in ways that serve to break down gender discrimination, homophobia, and racism. Do the workings of the Holy Spirit have to be loud and immediately obvious at a glance? The gist of the answer was that these things are not the working of the Holy Spirit – we are being “led astray”, because God has already told us what everyone’s role in society is, through the Bible.

I kind of had to end the conversation at this point on an “agree to disagree” basis, because it would be too hard to work with someone who you believe is firmly in Satan’s clutches, and if we went any further that might be the conclusion she ended up drawing about me! I believe it is human nature to seek out a better understanding of and a deeper relationship with that which created us – God. But God is not a person – and I don’t want Her to be! I want to understand God’s will for me, but I don’t want to understand God.

Nonetheless, a happy 100th birthday to the Pentecostal movement! This same friend I had the above conversation with was telling me how she was about to take her 4 year old son out of “children’s church” and let him start coming to “big people’s church”. When he asked her what he was supposed to do and how he was supposed to behave, she said “well, you sit down and be quiet”. When she told me this story later, she followed up with, “And right after I told him that, I remembered, “wait a minute – we’re Pentecostal!”

I met with my spiritual director last night… May 13, 2006

Posted by introspectreangel in Boy-o, prayer, theology, worship.
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…since it’s the last time I’ll be able to do so until after the wedding madness and our subsequent vacation to Sea World in June. It’s only the third time I’ve met with her, so I’m still at the stage of not really knowing what to expect out of the relationship, if relationship is indeed the right word for it. Due to some scheduling conflicts, I had to take Boy-o with me, and I was so happy that she didn’t mind, but I was out of my head if I thought for one minute that she and I were going to be able to have any type of normal conversation with a rambunctious 2 year old in the room!

He was playing with the sunglasses he had gotten for his birthday. I had shared with her some of the events of my past and some of what happened this past week, and we were talking about the idea of being in bondage to the past and I was relating it to something I’ve been reading about God freeing us from bondage being a repetitive theme through Scripture – hey, these concepts may be old hat to some of you RevGals, but they’re new to me, ok? 🙂 – when we heard a *crack* – Boy-o had sat on the sunglasses and broken an earpiece, and he was now angry they wouldn’t fit on his face anymore. He started to cry and throw a fit, and I was embarrassed. I tried to hug him, but he was too mad for that. I tried to give him the broken sunglasses back, but that made him angry, too. I tried to hide the glasses from him, but that made him scream louder. I was getting progressively more embarrassed at my inability to control my child’s temper in front of my spiritual director, and I finally just told her that I didn’t know how to handle the situation correctly. She said that I had to let him grieve the loss of the sunglasses, and that being only 2, he didn’t have the words to say so – he was expressing his frustration the only way he knows how, and I had to honor that experience. So, I sat back for a minute and let him scream. Then I took his face in my hands and said, “I know you’re mad, but you have lots of other toys over there to play with…your puzzle, your cars, and your Elmo.” With that, the screams subsided into sobs, and he said, “Elmo?” and that was the end of that. It was all over with much more quickly than when I have spanked him and said, “You do NOT throw fits!” The broken sunglasses went into my pocket, and he played the rest of the time while I laid on her floor and we continued talking about control and being freed from that need through the understanding that God loves me with as much (and more) desperation as I love Boy-o…and to relate it to the bondage theme, that while I may think I’m in control of a given situation and that is in fact what makes it feel freeing to me, it is really just a different way of being in bondage.

He is not here April 16, 2006

Posted by introspectreangel in worship.
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“In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” -Luke 24:5-6

Alleluia !

I found out recently… April 12, 2006

Posted by introspectreangel in family, theology, worship.
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…that the town in which I work was founded in large part by a handful of Jewish families, and that, until two years ago, it was home to the only synagogue in the state south of the capital (two years ago the synagogue shut down). So, when shopping for tonight’s Seder I was somewhat surprised that I was unable to find matzoh in either of the town’s grocery stores. I’m substituting pita.

This will be the third year that we have celebrated Seder. The text we use is adapted from the Christian Passover Seder for Holy Thursday, which can be found on the Women for Faith & Family website. Needless to say, we haven’t ever been able to actually do the meal on Holy (Maundy) Thursday itself because of various familial and church obligations, but we try and get as close as possible. The Jewish Passover begins tonight, so I thought it would be a good night.

The first year, I prepared the meal for my family and for my in-laws, when I was pregnant-out-to-here with Boy-o. My family was familiar with the ritual, because the Catholic parish I grew up in celebrated Seder on Holy Thursday. My Methodist in-laws weren’t familiar with it, so I made sure they had LOTS of reading parts! Last year, Will and I hosted it in our home and I invited a few very close friends, some Christian, some not. This year, due to the fact that I have a two year old and am a notorious procrastinator, it’s gonna be just Will and me. Since daylight savings time has just started, Gabe will undoubtedly be in bed by sundown when we get started. And trust me, he is a child of routines – this is not a kid whose sleep patterns you want to interfere with!

Why do we do Seder? Because our celebration of the Eucharist was born of the Jewish Passover, because Jesus and his disciples were Jewish, because Easter is about our reconciliation with God through Christ, and because we feel it’s essential to celebrate the past in order to fully explain the Good News of the Gospels. It’s all one story, a story that stretches from the ancient Israelites and the first Passover, to you and me and our families and neighbors and those whom we love and those with whom we disagree.

And it’s darned good eatin’, too!

Tonight’s menu:

lamb
tomato, onion, and spinach salad
wild rice
pita bread
haroseth (a mixture of apples, cinammon, raisins, honey, and red wine)
red wine – lots!

Elements of the Seder ceremony:

lamb (pesach), applies to the Lamb of sacrifice as well as to the deliverance from Egypt and to the feast itself.

unleavened bread (pita, not matzoh in this case), representing the unleavened bread prepared for the hasty flight by night from Egypt.

green herbs (parsley) dipped in salt water, representing tears of sorrow shed during the captivity of the Lord’s people.

bitter herbs (horseradish), representing the bitterness of slavery and suffering in Egypt.

haroseth represents the mortar used by Jews in building palaces and pyramids of Egypt during their slavery.

wine is dipped from a common bowl. The ‘Four Cups,’ Thanksgiving, Hagadah (‘telling’), Blessing, and Melchisedek (‘righteousness’), are “four different words for redemption, spoken by God to Moses.”

A blessed and meaningful Holy Week to all.

the sound of silence March 11, 2006

Posted by introspectreangel in vocation, worship.
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As I mentioned in a previous post, this morning I head off on retreat to a Benedictine monastery. So far, the weather seems as though it will be conducive to some outdoor time (which will give me chance to meditate on trees and clouds and the like, Episco-pagan that I am), but the weather here is unpredictable, so that could change at any time. I’ll also have access to a labyrinth while there, and the services of a spiritual director. The labyrinth…not sure about this. Our parish in the big city had one, and I walked it a few times, but I found it very hard to tune out distractions…light bouncing off the stained glass windows, or doors opening and closing down the hallway, or even people whispering in respectfully low tones so they wouldn’t interrupt my “experience”. I’ll give it another chance, and we’ll see. This spring has been jam-packed with things to do and occasions to mark, even more so than usual, so I really need this respite. God bless my husband for keeping our little boy for these 24 hours as I take a baby step towards conquering my fear of silence!