Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


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Self Revelation

I had my agnostic brother and my sister who says she’s Christian over for dinner the other night.  We had a great time and got into some pretty deep conversations that were interesting and fun.  We got off on politics and that led to the local school system.  My sister seems to think the downfall of the local public school system is the lack of a prayer/devotional time like we used to have in the good ole days.  Never mind that some students had to excuse themselves and stand in the hallway during that time. 

My brother and I both seemed to agree that the downfall was a lack of parental involvement and discipline.  It used to be that when you  got into trouble at school you knew you’d get into trouble at home, too, if it became too much of a problem for the school to deal with.  None of us ever had that problem because we knew that if the teacher had a talk with mom and dad we’d be dead meat.  Now days if a child gets into trouble at school the parents go down to the school and rip two trips off the teacher for having the audacity to discipline their child.  That is if the the teacher can actually get in touch with a parent.  In our little community there are probably a good 60 percent or more of students who are being raised by a grandparent, an aunt or their older siblings.  It’s not pretty.  I digress…

At some point during the conversation my brother in law said, “When I was a kid I knew if I got a paddling at school I was going to get it when I got home, too.”  My parents didn’t have that rule.  They generally allowed the school to handle our discipline while we were there.  If the school couldn’t handle it, if we became so unruly that the teacher had to make a call home, then they’d get involved and we definitely did not want that.  In the spirit of us being independent and able to take care of ourselves our dad had an additional rule.  He’d better not hear of us starting a fight, but if someone started one with us we’d better defend ourselves.  “Don’t come home crying to me about it.  If somebody else starts it you better finish it.”  That’s what my dad always said.  The only time I can remember getting into trouble at home for something that happened at school was the time a boy bit me on the school bus and I came home crying about it.  My dad asked me what I did about it and I told him nothing.  I got into trouble for not taking up for myself.

Kids being kids I got bullied a little – not a lot – in school.  My older sister took up for me usually.  She looked at me and said, “You’ve always been like that; letting people run all over you.  Why are you like that? You never took any crap off of me.”  She’s pretty feisty.  Kind of like John Wayne toilet paper, that one.  Rough and tough and doesn’t take any crap off of anyone.

The truth is I’d rather be hurt than do the hurting.  That has caused me to be a doormat in the past.  Clearly she’s puzzled by that. Clearly we weren’t raised that way.  I’m not sure why I’m like that, but I know that I am.  I try to steer clear of confrontational situations.  I hate the thought of injuring someone else whether it be their pride, their feelings or their person. 

I’m learning, though.  It’s hard, but I’m learning.  Sparing someone else isn’t always the best thing – for me or them.  I’m learning to take up for myself.  Who knows?  Before I’m done I may have a little John Wayne in me, too.

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My First Day

A couple of weeks ago I talked about what I thought was a pretty strange interview process.  Even after I did the personality profile test I had two more interviews.  I met with one of the owners of the company.  Traveled about 50 miles one way to speak with him for ten minutes.  The basis of this interview was, “Tell me something about yourself.”  The end.  Then I met once more with the store manager, Mr. OCD.  I actually spoke with another salesperson that I’ve known  for a really long time and my assessment of Mr. OCD was pretty spot on.  At this meeting I was informed the job was mine if I wanted it.

Yay!  I’ve rejoined the workforce.  My first day was yesterday.  It was a typical Monday.  I’m really glad I got up early.  Or maybe I’m not.  I got up, made coffee, blogged and then headed for the shower.  I had no hot water.  I hate cold showers.  My skin is usually red and steaming when I emerge from a shower.  Luke warm water is the same as cold water to me. I threw on my robe and went outside to check the propane tank.  Empty. #@&*#!%$ Then on my way to work the car in front of me slammed on breaks, I slammed on breaks and the contents of my purse were dumped into the floor board of the car.  Good thing I left early.

Once I got to work I realized just how nice this job is going to be.  I’m sure it has it’s “things nobody likes to do” parts.  I’m sure dealing with unhappy customers won’t be a lot of fun. But I got to look at furniture and swatches of paint and fabric samples all day long.  I loved it!  This store has two floors so I went up and down stairs all day.  I got to actually talk to people and smile and have conversations besides, “Which department do you want this coded to?”  It’s definitely not a desk job.  And this is a pretty busy furniture store.  No sitting behind a desk all day.

I got there at nine and before I knew it six o’clock had rolled around.  I had to stop off at the store to pick up a few items.  Then I had to go to the craft shop to pick up some thread I needed to finish off this fab pair of smocked draped I’m making for a friend.  By the time I got home it was nearly eight.  I had just enough time to grab something to eat, check out my eFriend’s blogs, and crash.  Out like a light.


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A small boy writes a letter to God….

….. “Dear God, why do you let bad things
happen in our schools?” God replied, “Dear Son, I am not allowed in your
schools.”
 
This has been making the rounds in my facebook news feed.  It usually has a little disclaimer behind it that says, “If you aren’t ashamed of Jesus copy and paste this as your status.  If you are ashamed of Jesus he will be ashamed of you.”  I always hated that disclaimer even when I was a die hard Christian.  It’s the Christianese equivalent to, “You’d better be loud and proud or burn in hell.”  Lovely sentiment.
The latest one of these to appear in my news feed was followed in the comments by this:

“I sent my children to a Christian school except
one yr, lovely daughter was in 5th grade and adorable son was in 2nd. Adorable son was accustomed
to bringing his Bible and studying it daily in private school. One day
in 2nd grade at Small Town, Bible Belt, USA Elem, he brought his Bible and was told by
Ms. Teacher O’the Year to never bring it again. Perhaps the latest issue of Maxim
would have been acceptable. He is now a Junior at Shelter Christian Kid School after a
brief stint in Big Town High School, Bible Belt, USA. I can’t imagine a teacher telling a child to
never bring a Bible back to school. But alas, someone might have been
“offended” by it. Political correctness in full force.””

Christians like to toss this around a lot. God has been kicked out of school.  He’s been asked to get out of our country and that’s why everything’s going to hell in a hand bag.  God is a gentleman.  He won’t go where He’s not wanted.  I don’t know where people get this from.  I can’t seem to find it anywhere in the Bible.  In fact I see in the Bible God going all kinds of places He’s not invited.  Canaan comes immediately to mind. 

First of all, if I remember correctly, God is supposed to be everywhere.  To my knowledge there is no force more powerful than the supposed Christian God.  He can do what he wants, where he wants, when he wants. Somewhere along the way sin became His kryptonite.  Apparently it freezes Him.  He can’t be in it’s presence; He can’t even look at it.  The only fix I’m aware of is innocent blood.  The one with the innocent blood sees everything.  He’s watching your every move.  Creepy.

Secondly Christian students can pray to God whenever they want to.  Who can stop them?  No one.  So God hasn’t been removed from school.  The only way he could be removed from school is to remove the Christians from it.  I don’t know why Christians think that because there’s not an adult-led organized prayer/Bible study that they can’t talk to their God.  On the other hand if there were an adult-led Islamic prayer/Bible study these Christians would be the ones screaming the loudest that there should be separation of church and state and that the adults who are not the students’ parents shouldn’t be allowed to influence them religiously.  They really need to consider what they’re asking.  That could be a very slippery slope. 

Thirdly since this is Small Town, Bible Belt, USA everyone knows everyone.  I know Ms. Teacher O’the Year.  She’s a Christian.  I wasn’t there, mind you.  But knowing what I know about the public school system here and about the teacher(whom I know very well) I can say with little doubt that adorable son wasn’t asked not to bring his Bible back to school unless he was being disruptive with it.  Maybe he was preaching on the playground.  Maybe he was paying more attention to the Good Book than his school books.  I don’t know, but he wasn’t asked not to bring it back for politically correct reasons.  Around here it would be politically incorrect to ask the boy not to bring his Bible.  I have a feeling there’s more to the story.


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When Abuse Begins

We all know that the Bible is used to perpetuate abuse; abuse on women, abuse on children, and those who are deemed unbelievers.  It’s been used to justify slavery, bigotry, misogyny, and hate mongering of all manner. Whether or not the Bible actually teaches those behaviors (IMHO it does) or whether it’s twisted to justify them is, of course, an argument to itself.  Frankly, I don’t know how, other than deliberately choosing to ignore some of it’s contents one could argue that these teachings aren’t in there.  It’s a book rife with examples of each.  The Old Testament is filled with instances of spiritual and ethnic cleansing that rivals modern day genocide in the Sudan.

The Books of Exodus and Leviticus are replete with the refrain that if someone has some sort of deformity or disease they may not worship along side of others.  Even if you believe in the “One True God” if you are a woman or a non-Jew you have your own special section…not at the front.  This makes anyone, regardless of belief, who isn’t a Jewish male a second class citizen.

Enter Christianity and the theme is really no different.  If you are a well-to-do Christian male you are first-class.  Slaves, women, and children are still relegated to second-class status.  Women are to cover their heads, keep silent in the church and have no authority whatsoever.  If a slave gets beaten they’re not to complain, but take it like a good little Christian.  And what of this not speaking in Church thing for women?  They’re supposed to go home and ask their husband. What if their husband is a misogynist jackass who treats her like dirt, or worse, beats her?  Then what is she supposed to do?  Submit, likewise as a slave to his master.  That’s what.

Many people are abused and trampled on all because they’re supposed to be submissive like Jesus. Does this actually ever win over a “lost soul”?  Not really.  When you’re a doormat it’s hard to command any respect.  Submitting more doesn’t suddenly become the door to the heart of a sadist.  A soft word is supposed to turn away wrath.  In the heart of a normal person this is true.  In the heart of a wretched, angry, abusive person it becomes a license.

It begins and ends with respect; respect for the value of others regardless of their place in life.  When you’re taught that people are less-than due to some physical malady, sex, sexual orientation, where they happened to be born, who they happened to be born to, religious affiliation, or the color of their skin the cycle of abuse begins.  Abuse begins in the heart when the belief that you are better than another takes hold and you begin to buy your own press.

*edited because there’s a major difference between masochist and sadist and I’m just hoping you all read what I meant, not what I wrote. ::rolls eyes::  Thank you, Ahab!


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Relationships are Two-Way Streets

I tried really hard to keep some relationships going after my divorce, and for a while it seemed possible.  Having raised Samantha I thought she’d want that, too.  It’s proven harder than I ever imagined.  I don’t think she’s getting pressure from Charles’ family not to keep a relationship with me. It’s become apparent that it’s more uncomfortable or awkward for her than it is worth it to keep it going. 

Her relationship with both of her parents has always been tenuous, at best.  They’re, frankly, exhausting.  They require a lot of her.  In order to maintain a relationship with her dad she has to be grateful enough for the life he gave up for her.  She, for lack of better terminology, has to kiss ass to keep it up.  The head games were not reserved just for me.  In order to maintain a relationship with her mother she has to be able to put up with late-night incoherent drug induced phone calls.  She has to make decisions about whether to commit her mother to drug treatment centers when she gets suicidal.  She has to forgive. A LOT.  Her mother has stolen her identity and nearly wrecked her credit.  At her wedding her mother stole about twenty-five hundred dollars worth of checks, cash and gift cards.  It’s really bad. But she somehow does it.

Maybe she’s got nothing left to give.  I’m not sure what it is.  Maybe she expected more from me so the disappointment is so great she can’t forgive.  I had hoped that time would heal the wound.  The strain in our relationship since my divorce from her dad has gone from distant to non-existent.  I feel like I’m pushing myself on her.  I don’t want to do anything but love her like I always have.  Sometimes loving a person requires knowing when to let go.  It’s not love if I only cause discomfort or pain. Relationships are two-way streets.  Traveling one-way feels forced. You can’t force love.   One-sided relationships are near impossible to keep up, at least when you come to the realization that that’s what you have. 

I was reminded by my iFriend, Harvey, that “Unfortunately, it appears that in situations like this one, as sometimes
happens in divorce, the friends and family who are not directly
involved reveal that you were only “valuable” to them in your capacity
as an extension of the other individual…” 
  I continue to be optimistic that time does heal wounds and that Samantha may eventually come around.  But I have to be prepared for the possibility that she may not.  Either way the fact that I chose to divorce her dad means our relationship will be different.

I’ll close with a link to Micheal Mock’s recent post at Mock Ramblings because we all need a reminder sometimes that Love is Actions.


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One Lost Sheep

My phone rang late yesterday afternoon.  It was the phone call I’d been both expecting and dreading for some time now.  My sweet Sunday School teacher called me under some pretense.  We made a bit of small talk and then she asked if she could come for a visit.  I declined as I was just in having a little break from cutting grass.  I really was covered from head to toe in grass and dirt.  That wasn’t a lie.  And I really was just about to head out the door to get back on the mower when she called.  That wasn’t a lie either.

She decided she’d cut to the chase.  I knew she would eventually ask the question.  “D’Ma, why don’t you come to Sunday School anymore?”, she asked with a sad voice.  “I’ve been meaning to call and talk to you about that.  No one has done anything to offend me.  It’s a fantastic group of girls and you are an excellent teacher.  It’s got nothing to do with anybody there.  I just feel that since I’m engaged now and will be married soon and this really is Charles’ family’s church it’s time for me to move on.  I know he isn’t going right now, but I can’t imagine that he would feel comfortable going there with me and my new husband.  And I can’t imagine The Tour Guide will feel all that comfortable there either.  It’s the right thing to do”, came my reply.

“But you could still come until The Tour Guide gets here.  Then you could find a church together,” she pressed.  “I’ve visited around a little just trying to get a feel for new surroundings and what might be out there.  I’m not going to tell you I’ve been to church every Sunday, but I really feel that this is the right thing for me to do.  While I don’t feel all that uncomfortable around Charles’ family, I’m pretty sure I make them uncomfortable”, I said firmly.  “But you don’t make Samantha uncomfortable”, she argued.  “I’m not so certain about that.  I’m pretty sure I do.”

“Well, I know you’ve prayed about it.  I really wish you’d reconsider.  It’s just that I miss having you there and I know the other girls do.  They’re so accepting,”  pushing farther.  “Oh, Mrs. Beale, I know that.  I promise it has nothing to do with you or them.  They’ve not given me any reason to feel anything but welcome there.  Look, we all do things in life and there are consequences and we don’t get to choose them.  This is one of those consequences for me.  It’s time for me to move on,”  I said.  “Okay, well, I’m going to pray about this.  Please think about it some more.  I love you,” she said with more sadness in her voice.  “I know you do, Mrs. Beale.  I love you, too.”

Even though I’d known this question was coming I had no idea what I was going to say.  If I told her the complete truth, If I told her that I no longer believe the way she believes I’d be the subject of the Church Prayer Chain.  Within an hour the whole congregation would be in an uproar.  I’ve already been accused of going through a mid-life crisis because of my relationship with The Tour Guide.

I know she loves me.  I know she’s concerned for me.  She’s doing what a good Christian Sunday School teacher does.  One of her sheep has gone astray and she’s trying to rescue it.  I don’t know how to tell her this sheep has transformed into something else.  It would break her heart.  I’m not ready for this.  I’m not strong enough for this.


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God and the War on Drugs

This article explains so much:



http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1

I’m sure no other towns have thought of this approach, or God loves Scott County, Tennessee the bestest.  Now I know why God has been so busy. He hasn’t had time for world hunger issues because he’s been way too busy busting meth dealers in Tennessee.

Could it be that these revival services have made citizens more vigilant?  Reporting crime whenever they see it instead of looking the other way?  What do you think attributes to the increase in meth lab busts in this Tennessee county?