ashes

The only thing I know about my grandaddy is that he was a sorry son of a bitch.  He drank his paycheck away, not always leaving enough to feed my Nana and her girls.  I assume he was a man of few words because few words have ever been spoken to me about him.

Recently, I was at a barn dance in Crossville, TN.  When my grandaddy lived there, it was a tiny place.  Now Crossville is like any other American town with its very own Big Lots.  One trip back when I was in high school, Mom was thrilled to take me to the fanciest department store in town and buy me whatever I wanted because well, she’d made it outta that place and found her own damn way in the world.

We go back once in a while, and this last trip I found myself at a real, Tennessee country barn dance church fundraiser.  No one seemed to know exactly what we were raising money for. Mission trip? Youth group? Didn’t matter.

It was there, at the Cumberland County Fairgrounds in the middle of February, that I learned something about my grandaddy.

“Caitlin, this is your mammas old friend Judy.  She worked with your mom’s dad.”

“Hi Judy, nice to meet you.”

“I worked with your grandaddy every day for 14 years at the Registrar of Deeds, you know.  I’m the registrar myself now.  Anyways, back in those days, your grandaddy used to smoke cigarette after cigarette.  He made chain smokers look like they weren’t tryin’ hard enough! Anyways, your grandaddy, he used to let the ashes on his cigarette grow as long as possible.  He waited until the last possible moment ‘for flickin’ ‘em off!  I sat next to him for years, always watchin’ those ashes.”

“My mom does that.”

“Well ‘aint that somethin’.  Well, there ya go.  Everybody ought’a know something ’bout their kin. Everybody ought’a know somethin’ ’bout their kin.”

***

Every time I smoke a cigarette it’s like I’m praying to my granddaddy.  Maybe he had the soul of a cowboy too, maybe he was restless but stuck in a tiny office in a tiny town. Maybe he felt like he had a tiny life.  The Lord saves even the biggest of assholes, right?  If I let my ashes get long enough, maybe the Lord will quiet my own restless soul.  Grandaddy, peel me away from the door of addiction.

I am independent like my Nana.  I worry like my Grandma.  I’m fun like my Grandpa.  What part of that sorry son of a bitch lives in me?

Summer Recap

I’ve been away from this blog for a month or two because I’ve been busy living!  At the beginning of Summer I wrote a depressing post about the emptiness of my life when it suddenly filled up with friends, visitors, spontaneous trips, birthdays, and a fun job!  So here is a recap, more for my sake than yours, so when I’m knee deep in school and feeling isolated I can look back and remember how things usually get better when the sun comes out.

The summer started with a trip to Wisconsin for the annual family reunion.  This is the highlight of my year, every year.  Something about big families and being surrounded by people you love. Something about know exactly who you are: the oldest son’s youngest daughter.

family time=quality time

I cried when I left because I couldn’t imagine going to Everett, I wanted everything about my life to change.

Then, even though I still live in Everett, change it did.  I got a roommate (who is never here) and another job.  I met lots of people waiting tables at a local brewery.  I ceased speaking only to my dog. He is a cutie though:

leo the lion

Then I had the privilege of hosting a string of visitors! My baby cousins came from Nebraska and Illinois and by showing them around, I fell a little in love with Seattle:

thug life at the Space Needle

Then an old friend from high school came and taught me how to shoot a gun.  Just so you know, I am a total bad ass now:

bamf for a liberal

Then it was time to head to Portland for brew fest and a best friend’s birthday!  It was great to be in Portland again, I felt like I was among my people (liberal beer drinking idiots) doing what I was meant to do (drink beer).  We even managed to go on a spectacular hike the next day.  The Columbia River Gorge is my kind of paradise.

pretty, yes?

Then it turned into August and Jenni needed some last minute help setting up her classroom in Sacramento.  Apparently it’s hard to do with a broken collar bone?  So I used some miles and went to help!

my face says, “this skirt is too short for a picture in front of a church.”

August saw a lot of table waiting so I was pretty ready to be done when the time came.  It became difficult to restrain comments that popped into my brain like; “Get your own damn tartar sauce fat ass!”  But because I work with children, I have an incredible sense of restraint, so restrain I did.  On my last day I did tell a child to, “Ask me without whining” before she could have her dessert. Usually parents don’t appreciate waitress parenting, so I try to avoid it (tips!) but this table loved it and tipped 25%.  Who would have thought, tables taking parenting advice from a 23 year old smart ass.

Immediately following my last few days as a waitress I turned 24.  Now, this is not just ANY birthday, no. It was my GOLDEN birthday.  I turned 24 on the 24th!!! That will never happen again.  And man, was it a celebration.  Friends and family came from all over just to wear gold and eat and drink with me and I felt so blessed.  SO BLESSED.

gold nails
gold friends
gold(ish) sister
gold parents
surrounded by family and friends, true gold

Finally, to round out an awesome summer, the sis and I went camping across the mountains. It was beautiful:

peace and quiet

Sometimes I feel like a cowboy trapped in the body of a young, (sub)urban female.  I want to chase sunsets on horseback, pick up everything and leave to roam the desert, and smoke a cigarette as I leave yet another lover behind.  I have the restless soul of a cowboy but the vocation of a wife and mother.

We rented a boat and sped across a 50 mile long lake. Driving the boat, feeling the wind in my hair and the glass-like water breaking at my feet, and the whole wide frontier in front of me finally settled my restless soul.  For a bit.

Leo liked the boat too.

Happy 4th!

I would like to take a moment on this Independence Day to reflect on what America is/should be, and to tell you a story.

Yesterday, I had a very Tea Party moment.  I admit this hesitantly, because in the circles I run in the words “Tea Party”  share connotation and gut reactions of something like “Concentration Camp.”  (“How could people be so awful?” My well meaning friends would ask.) This is the Northwest, in order to find a true conservative you either have to cross the mountains, or follow a truck that actually looks like it is used for work far far beyond the suburbs.  Or you can meet one at the dog park and listen to him butcher the American Dream with a smile on your face because you are being charitable, but that is another story.

No, my Tea Party moment came right from my own brain, I am ashamed to admit.

I need to interrupt the story with an aside about myself: I am allergic to Summer.  I am as white a white girl as you’ve ever seen and my nasal passages react to June like a tween would if you took away her Justin Bieber/Carly Ray Jepson tickets.  I mean, I am so white that in hot tub situations I sometimes joke that I am glow in the dark, and it gets an awkward chuckle because it is just a little too true.  And my allergies make me feel like Piggy in the Lord of the Flies.  “Sucks to your ass-mar!”

I am the whitest girl among white girls…

OK, so I am allergic to Summer.  Yesterday, I am ashamed to admit, I spent most of the day on the couch, struggling to breathe and blowing my nose every commercial break. That’s when the TP moment happened.  My allergic sloth-hood was interrupted, not once but twice.

Here I was, minding my business, crying while watching A Baby Story when someone knocked on the door.  My psychotic dog gets real excited whenever this happens and he is a real flight risk so any doorway interactions happen while I am frantically trying to hold him back (and every time I touch him puts more allergens in the war-zone that is my nasal passages).  I see a girl about my age with a long skirt (Jehovah’s Witness!) holding what looks like a bunch of cookbooks.Would I like to buy a cookbook on a donation basis? No.  Even if it would help me go to school? What? No.  OK, well are you every afraid or lonely? Excuse me? (So right about my JW instinct.) Here is a pamphlet that will save your life! No thanks, I uh, I have hope.  Door slam.

Fear… the best way to help people believe in the Prince of Peace

Then I am ashamed to admit, I thought nothing about it and went right back to the days worth of heart-string pulling TLC programing. That is, until ANOTHER JW girl tried to save me while simultaneously asking for money to help pay for college.  That is when I had my Tea Party moment. “No, sorry I don’t need a cookbook and I’m not going to help you pay for college and thanks, but I like my Church. Goodbye.”  But in my head I thought, “No I am not giving you money for college because I am busy working two jobs in order to pay off my own student loan debt.  What are you doing with your day going door-to-door asking for money when you could be WORKING?!” (As I sit on my ass…In my defense, my shift started at 4.)

Generally, I am not offended when people try to convert me to their religion.  I think it’s nice really, because they truly believe that it is in my, a strangers’, best interest, so they face ridicule and humiliation in order to “help” people like me.

But asking strangers for money for college? Pay the interest on a federal loan like everyone else!  It’s not that I don’t have a crapton of tip money currently in my wallet, but it’s that I recently got a roommate and another job to make my own financial situation better. Do it yourself! Make your own money! Get a loan! NO ONE IS GOING TO HELP YOU IN THIS COLD COLD WORLD. I got my Master’s degree on loans, then had to move to a new place where I know no one because that is where I found a job.  I didn’t go door-to-door asking for help, I just did it!  It sucks sometimes living here, but I am paying the bills, and making those loan payments, because that is what I chose for myself.

Then I thought twice.  I am totally blessed to have parents who supported me financially as an undergrad, but now that I have been on my own for a whole 8 months, I am suddenly the expert on independent living!?  Where has my charity gone?  When I got to thinking about it, I am pretty sure that Jesus would not have slammed the door in the faces of those long-skirted JWs.  He rewarded people for their faith in Him.  I suppose these girls had faith in the goodness of human nature, but I surely disappointed them.

It is so easy to say “my path is hard” and want everyone elses to be too, because it’s more fair that way.  Well Jesus wasn’t fair, and Christianity is not a religion of fairness.  Good thing “The last shall be first and the first shall be last,” because I am surely not among the Firsts of this world.

HHS Nonsense

I’m trying to make sense of the HHS mandate.  I’ve been reading all about it on fellow Catholic blogs, and it isn’t hard to see how most Catholics feel about it, but I am having trouble getting to the meat of what the HHS mandate actually IS.

In my search, I have not found anything where I can actually read the bill and make my own opinion on it.  Here is a handy fact sheet from the Bishops
“6 Things to Know About the HHS Mandate” and the Fact Sheet from HHS.  It has been incredibly difficult to wade through opinion and outrage in order to find out what is actually going on.   However,  this is how I understand the debate to be shaking out:

1.) Obama included the “mandate” (conservative language) or “Women’s Preventative Service” (HHS language) into the Affordable Care Act in January of 2012.  This mandate requires all insurers/employers to include free preventative services for women (some awesome, like counseling for domestic violence and screening for various diseases like diabetes and breast cancer) and some controversial (like providing free contraception).

2.) That really pissed off Catholics (and many other Christian faiths) because providing contraceptive services directly violates the teachings of the Church and the US is supposed to be a place where people have the freedom of religion.

3.) In February, the Obama administration included an exemption for religious employers.

 A religious employer is one that:  (1) has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets; (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and (4) is a non-profit organization under Internal Revenue Code section 6033(a)(1) and section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii).

4.) Catholics were still not satisfied because of condition 3.  Many Catholic hospitals and charities serve everyone, and they always have.  Think Mother Theresa.  She didn’t just serve  the poor Catholics of Calcutta, she served everyone who asked her.   Then there was the matter of who pays for the contraception if not the employer.  According to Catholic blogger Scott Reichert:

So how will insurance companies make up the money they spend on providing contraceptives to women who are employed by religious institutions?

By raising premiums.

Who pays the premiums?

The religious institutions who object to providing contraceptives to their employees.

5.) So as I understand it, even if Catholic employers (Like the Archdiocese of Seattle, say) qualify for the religious exemption (as opposed to the Sister of Providence, whose hospital system employs and serves everyone, including the uninsured I may add) as an employee, I could get free birth control, but the Archdiocese would still technically be paying for it as an increase in premiums? See it gets kind of confusing!

6.) The last thing that confuses me is this claim, made by the USCCB:  I can find no other non-Catholic source that makes this claim, and this is sort of a big deal for me.

The mandate forces coverage of sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs and devices as well as contraception. Though commonly called the “contraceptive mandate,” HHS’s mandate also forces employers to sponsor and subsidize coverage of sterilization. And by including all drugs approved by the FDA for use as contraceptives, the HHS mandate includes drugs that can induce abortion, such as “Ella,” a close cousin of the abortion pill RU-486.

I just looked up this “Ella” pill, and it is basically the morning after pill.  However, it said on the front page of it’s website: ” ella may also work by preventing attachment to the uterus1” Since Catholics believe life starts at conception, preventing an already fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus technically counts as abortion.

OK so now that we are all caught up with the pertinent information, here is my take on the issue.  Despite my limited legal or healthcare knowledge, I am actually sort of the perfect person to discuss this for a few reasons.  This law applies directly to me!  I am insured by Christian Brothers, paid for by the Archdiocese of Seattle and I am a woman in my child-bearing years. Also, I am both liberal and conservative at the same time.  I am what one might call an independent, or confused.  Or merely wise enough to see merit and value to both sides.

To me, the main issue is whether or not this is a violation of the freedom of religion granted to us by the 1st amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  I will take this on claim by claim, if I’m misunderstanding/misrepresenting your opinions, please correct me.

Arguments against the HHS Mandate:

1.) A religious organization should not be required by law to do something (provide contraceptive/abortive services) that violates their belief system.  This makes sense to me.  If I have the freedom of religion, then I should not be forced by the government to do something that violate my beliefs.  I wonder about how this plays out in everyday health care related situations.  Is a Catholic doctor required to perform an abortion if he/she feels it not medically necessary?  Can he/she just refer the patient to another doctor because he/she feels that providing the service goes against the “do no harm” portion of the Hippocratic oath?  At it’s most basic level, it seems to me that if the Archdiocese of Seattle doesn’t want to pay for my birth control (whether or not it’s use is relate to sexual activity), as a person working for the Catholics, I can’t really expect them to.

2.) Catholic hospitals and charities should not be punished for providing a public good where the government has failed to do so.  Catholic heath care systems, universities, and charities who do not serve predominately Catholic populations would be required to provide contraceptive services despite the fact that doing so violates their beliefs. These Catholic charities and hospital systems have grown because at some point in history, the government wasn’t taking care of people well enough so Catholics came in to fill a needed void, and should not be punished for doing so.  Sidebar: I went to a Catholic university and you couldn’t get condoms from the health center.  It wasn’t really a big deal, people just went to planned parenthood or the local drugstore.  In my area of the world, free or low cost contraction is widely available.

3.) Even under the religious exemption, faithful Catholics are still required to pay for contraceptive services through higher premiums, which is unconstitutional.  I think this argument is a bit bogus.  First of all, the cost of birth-control is so minimal that requiring insurance to pay for it will probably not increase premiums.  Secondly, I have read many commenters who say something along the lines of “I’m not going to use birth control, so why should I pay for it?”  Well, that’s just silly!  When you pay an insurance premium, you technically “pay for” all kinds of things you wont use.  Just because I will not need coverage for testicular cancer does not mean I shouldn’t being paying into a system that would cover the cost of treatment for someone who actually has balls and wants to keep them.

Arguments in support of the HHS Mandate:

1.) Corporations are not people, and are therefore not granted all rights extended to individuals.  The problem with this is that most Catholic organizations affected by this are non-profits, not corporations.  So does the Bill of Rights extend to large organizations? Should it?  What if I was black and homeless, but the shelter I went to only serves white homeless people because their religion believes that black people are the devil’s warriors or something like that.  Are they allowed to discriminate against me based on race (violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964) because they are guaranteed the freedom or religion?  Obviously this is extreme, but in this sense it would seem the Civil Rights Act sort of trumps religious freedom because your religion sucks.  Since the “suckiness” of various religions is largely a matter of opinion and worldview, at what point does the freedom of religion get in the way of public good?  Shouldn’t the Catholics swallow this small violation of religious freedom because that is what is best for the people?

2.) Freedom of Religion also means freedom FROM religion.  In my area of the country, I can choose between Catholic and non-catholic health care system/providers/etc.  If I don’t like that my doctor wont do X,Y,Z, I can go somewhere else.  In many states, this is not the case.  In rural areas, there may only be one choice of health care provider.  Let’s say I live in nowhere Kansas, and I go to the only pharmacy in town and the Catholic pharmacist happens to be against the morning after pill, but I really need the prescription because I DON’T WANT NO BABY!  Doesn’t freedom of religion protect me from letting my pharmacists religion get in the way of my life decisions? Shouldn’t it?

***

I am a huge fan of the Affordable Care Act.  In my opinion, this whole issue could have been avoided if health care reform was more progressive and expansive.  If the Obama administration got rid of private insurers entirely, then they could decide unilaterally what qualifies as necessary preventative services. Problem solved!  But obviously that would never happen.

So what is the answer? Honestly, I haven’t quite made up my mind about it.  That’s why I’m asking for help.  Liberal friends, what other arguments do you have? Catholic friends, is there something I’m not seeing? Help!

Grateful Thursday v. 1.0

Back in high school, Thursdays used to be my favorite day because I had Jazz dance and ER was on.  Nowadays, Thursdays are like, “Hey girl, it’s almost the weekend… PSYCH! You still have to go to work tomorrow, bitch!” Thursdays suck more than ordering a shot based solely on the awesomeness of it’s German name, and it turning out to be coconut flavored.  That happened to me years ago and the thought still makes me cringe.

To balance the suckiness of Thursday’s, I’ve decided to start something I like to call “Grateful Thursday.”  Despite your preference for or against God/religion, everyone can benefit from taking a moment to look at what they do have going for them.  Call it counting your blessings, call it something that sounds more secular, it doesn’t matter to me.

Today for Grateful Thursday v. 1.0 I want to talk about Postcards.

The best part of having friends is when they send you things in the mail.

Today I got a postcard from an old friend from my high school days of jazz dance and ER.  He is traveling in Europe and he sent me the awesome giant picture of beer and cheese that I will now get to look at while attempting to cut out gluten for the next 27 days.  But in all seriousness, as soon as I saw the sucker I couldn’t help but have a giant smile on my face.

Whenever I get something real in the mail, I set it aside in anticipation.  When I’m sure I have weeded out all of the garbage that goes immediately in the recycle, then I have earned the moment when I can read whatever it is that awaits me.  I love all the real stuff, thank you cards,  invitations of all kinds, save-the-dates, and kid pictures, but the cream of the crop is a postcard.

On my fridge right now are postcards from Munich, Marrakesh, Montepulciano, Venice, and the most hipster restaurant in Portland, OR. I love them all.  To me, a postcard says, “I’m doing something fun, and it made me think of you.  It made me think of you so much that I went to the difficulty of purchasing a postcard, thinking of something witty and worthwhile to say in a short paragraph, finding a post office to buy foreign stamps and then mailing it, all while I could be adventuring and doing fun things.”

So if you have ever sent anyone a post card: thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I am grateful for you.

***

What are you grateful for this Thursday? Write a post on your blog about it, then come back here click “Add a link.” Be sure to link to your post, not your homepage.  I can’t wait to read about it!


1.
2.


( Collection closed )
Link tool by Inlinkz

Mental Health

I’ve finished wallowing in the current reality of my life.  I am problem solver kind of person, so I’ve come up with a few things to start doing differently to get me out of this funk.

Looking on the bright side of the mountains

1.) Start taking Vitamin-D.  I’ve heard it will make you happier if you are a sun-starved north westerner like me.

2.) Get a roommate.  My house is small, but even sharing it will someone obnoxious will provide me with some much needed human interaction. Now that school is out, I could potentially go the whole day without speaking to anyone except Leo (who totally counts).  Then, when I get to work at the restaurant, I start rambling like and idiot which prompts my manager to ask questions like, “Did you used to be home schooled?”

3.) Go to confession.  It’s clearly a sin to be to damned ungrateful, plus there are a few others to get off my chest.

4.) Cut out gluten for 30 days.  My sister has been eating like this for a few years, and she says it’s helped a whole myriad of health problems so I figured I would give it a go.  The hardest part by far will be beer.  I work at a brewery!  However, cutting back on depressants like alcohol will likely have a positive effect on my mood.  And for those times I really need it (Bachelorette Nights!) there is always wine, or whiskey :)

5.) Regular exercise.  Failing at Crossfit (it was only a matter of time) did not do a lot for my non athletic self-esteem, but going to the gym really does do the mind good.  I know that, so I’m going to do it.

6.) Get in the car and drive to places where my friends live. And not be too afraid to reconnect with those I haven’t seen in a while.  If I let it, this hallow sadness can turn into crippling fear, which convinces me that I am actually introverted when the last 99% of your life reads as direct evidence to the contrary.  Portland is only a few hours away, and just because I didn’t get one job there doesn’t mean the whole city doesn’t want me.

School’s out and my hours at the restaurant are few, so I’ve got nothing but time on my hands here.  This list here is good old American bootstrap pulling, and I’m determined not to let Everett bring me down!

Happy Summer y’all.

Half-Empty Buckets

I just came back from an amazing long weekend with family in Wisconsin.  Now, I have an abnormal love for Wisconsin, don’t ask why.  I even wanted to buy some Badger memorabilia but just couldn’t live with myself for cheating on the Huskers.. so I didn’t.  I have my priorities.

Anyways, the whole time I was there I felt a cloud over my head because I just didn’t want to go back.  I have come to the realization that no matter how hard I try, I don’t really like my life.  That doesn’t mean I’m not grateful, it just seems that gratitude is a hard feeling to muster.  I don’t think I have depression, but I don’t really feel like myself.

Someone once told me that human psyche can be imagined as buckets.  We have a God bucket, family bucket, career bucket, and a relationships/friendships bucket.  When all of these buckets are filled, we are living our best life.  The hardships faced in life are easier handled when the majority of your buckets are full.  For example, your job sucks?  Well it sucks less if you feel like you are serving God and you can come home to a family that loves you and builds you up when it feels like it’s all too much to handle.  If I ever get all buckets full I will feel pretty damned lucky.

This is probably one of the happiest moments of my life. Living in Europe, spending all my time learning and partying with amazing friends, and feeling like I was going places. My buckets were full.

For now, it feels like all of my buckets are running low.  Oh woe is me! I have a secure job that doesn’t satisfy me, a comfortable home that costs too much and is located in Everett (right now it’s 55 degrees, raining, and my dog is barking at a meth addict that likely lives in the trees at the edge of my yard), family and friends to lift me up but no husband, and a Church that I love but seems to be on a mission to make Catholics look like fundamentalists.

When I was younger, I used to just go home to Mom and Dad’s house when I was feeling this way, and I still can.  But even there I have to deal with the reality that my parents are aging.  A reality that fills me with deep sadness and sometimes epic frustration because I used to be their little girl.  Now I’m an adult whom they depend on.  No where is it more clear that I have grown up than at Mom and Dad’s (there, or on my student loan bills.)

I am having one of those run-of-the-mill mid 20s crises, where the once idealistic pretty young thing realizes that all that hard work and preparation and significant student loan debt was based on a false promise.  Now you’ve made it girl, straight to mediocrity like everyone else.  Where’s my trophy?  

despite myself

Marc Barnes finally wrote something over at Bad Catholic that doesn’t offend me.  Here he talks about religious experience and manages to sum up the message of God Incarnate in a few short paragraphs.

When you think about it, it is rather anthropocentric to imagine a deity who come to us where we are, because of our distinct being-ness.

But it’s true.  I know it to be true.  Sunday at mass I really wanted to contemplate the mystery of Corpus Christi.  I wanted to meditate on this special celebration, to think about the Body of Christ and what that means for us today.

Instead I had a head FULL of snot due to the beginning of allergy season and a heart full of lead due to my recent failures at seizing the day.  I sat next to my best teacher friend in the world and together we gossiped about the woman in front of us who could not keep her kids under control. (If those kids were dogs, especially pit bulls, that lady would have been kicked out of the dog park asap.  I mean really, stop paying so much attention to them, this is mass, it’s not about them.)

That’s me, first class sinner.  If you need lessons you know where to find me.  Head full of snot, heart full of lead, and soul full of dirt.

Despite all that, mass “worked.”  I found peace.  God came to me and changed me despite how much I didn’t deserve it.

According to Barnes,

“Thus the Christian — looking up to the sky, striving for an experience of the perfection he calls God — is the incarnation of an exercise in futility.”

Faith often seems like an exercise in futility.  I totally get that! But faith is beautiful and awesome and mysterious too because sometimes, when you least expect it, God changes you enough to face the next day or week with a better heart than you had before, because your job is to serve Him, and he needs you on your A-game.

I appreciate the help.

Quick Takes

This Friday seems like Monday or Wednesday or something in between.  It’s always a relief when you unsuspectingly get rewarded with a weekend.  I had  big week.  I went down to Portland to interview for a job, then I waited.

***

In Portland, I met up with some old friends and I was reminded of moral relativism.  I myself cannot accept the idea that morality exists in relationship to certain circumstances.  I believe in right and wrong.  It makes the world easier to understand.

***

I think secular people have trouble declaring the inherent wrongness of an action, because to them it seems to indicate that the perpetrator of whatever action is then a bad person. For us Christians, we can use the logical loophole of human fallibility.  Sin exists in the world, this we are certain of.  We are also certain that no matter how hard we try, we will sin and sin and sin again.  However, all hope is not lost, because we are inherently good people, even when we make mistakes.  God blesses us with forgiveness.  In this sense we are not defined by our actions, but our willingness to remedy and seek forgiveness from those we have offended.

***

Back in Everett, I’m teaching my students about the sacredness of life.  Sometimes a child’s answer makes the most sense:

Why is it important to understand the sacredness of human life?

“God created us for a reason and we need to help the environment so the Earth will stay healthy.”

“It is important because everybody should get a chance, boy or girl, black or white, tall or short, skinny or fat, etc.”

“Human life is sacred because humans can do amazing things and live miracles.”

“It is important because God created us to take care of the world.”

“I think it is important because you only get to live once and everybody deserves a fair shot.”

***

I did a lot of anticipating this week,  a lot of waiting.

I told you to be patient, I told you to be fine. I told you to be balanced, I told you be kind.  

Bon Iver- Skinny Love

In the morning I will be with you, it will be a different kind.  I’m holding all the tickets and you’ll be owing all the fines.

***

I had trouble know what to pray for this week.  I want to follow God, but I also want to live in Portland again.  Can I “hope in God” that I will get the job? Or should I “leave it up to God?”  Is praying one way or another trying to assert my own will?  How does all that work?

***

I didn’t get the job.  So I went back to my usual prayer, “Lord, help me to be happy serving you.” Life sucks, get a helmet!

 

square one

So, by now you know that I am a single, young female, who is living alone in the armpit of the Puget Sound.  Hopefully you also know that my life isn’t as depressing as it sounds.

One fun thing I get to do is go on a lot of dates.  I have seen a few guys up here on a regular basis, but usually it doesn’t last for one reason or another (I’m a little picky) for longer than two months.  This year I have experienced many mini-breakups. Not the heart-shattering, burn pictures and listen to Taylor Swift, break ups; more like the kind of parting that end with me shrugging my shoulders and uttering, “eh, next please.”

"Return to start" only applies at family game night

The temptation, after one of these shoulder shrugs, is to let your mind go down the Facebook path.  In an evening where you now have nothing to do because it was once busy with ex-boyfriend activities, the absolute last thing you should do is log onto Facebook.  It is the equivalent of window shopping when you know all of your credit-cards are maxed out.  Why torture yourself?  ”My last relationship didn’t work out so now I’m all alone.  I am always alone.  Let me get on Facebook and see all of the people I know who are in happy relationships.  Oh! Susie just got married!  Oh! Sandy had a baby!” ad nauseum.  Facebook tricks you into thinking that you are right back at square one, alone and miserable and at least three years away from a baby.

Square one is poison. The idea that being alone means moving backwards is absolute crap.  Even if I truly believe that I am called to marriage, it would be crazy to believe that ending a relationship means starting all over.  Relationships aren’t board games, where you put your purple marker on the first box and hopefully make it to the finish.  If they were, then what is the finish line? A lavish wedding?  Like I said, square one is crap.

When we fall for that crap we begin to believe that our futures are within our realm of control.  Even the sanest atheist will admit that we can not control our futures.  So as a single woman trying to live by Christ, I have to understand that being alone is not a failure.  It doesn’t mean I lost the game of my previous relationships.  I have to trust that whatever I am experiencing in my life right now has a purpose.

All of life is a preparation.  Just because you don’t know what it is, doesn’t mean you are back at the beginning again.