Singleness Part 2

“People who have been single for too long are the hardest to love.  They have become so used to being single, independent and self-sufficient that it takes something exhqdefaulttraordinary to convince them that they need you in their life.” facebook/saranaveedwriter

What I really think the author was expressing above, was frustration with their search for a mate.  Probably someone who is over 35, and looking for someone who’s interested in being their partner.  The search is not bearing much fruit, and their pool of candidates is getting more and more small and shallow.

The reality is, that there are persons over 35 who have gotten comfortable with living alone, and have decided that sexual needs aren’t enough for making accommodations for a mate.  There are few other healthy needs that remain, once you have no need for sexual expression or parenting, when it comes to relating to other persons in any intimate relationship.  There are healthy social and familial reasons, but I’m saying there are FEW reasons for anyone to enter any relationship that necessitates intimate sharing or knowledge of another person beyond the sexual ones.

It’s not uncommon for single persons +35 to have made their choices based on some bad experiences (direct or indirect), or based on honest comfort levels.  Many of these individuals have already achieved parenthood or other goals that might have required a partner’s contributions to realize.  Or, they’ve decided they don’t need direct parenthood experiences to fulfill their enjoyment of life.  They may have connections with children they’ve been actively engaged with outside of being a parent, and that’s all they need to complete their sense of value and of a future that will continue beyond their own. That means those incentives are gone for making the kinds of life adjustments that sustained intimacy requires, at that point.

Some older singles are people who have gotten socially niched, and haven’t much contact with other persons on a personal level.  They often fail to learn that respect is a process that requires sustained effort, as is mutual interest or affection.  They somehow believe that it is always spontaneous and that these experiences with others are self sustaining if they are “real”.  This is an immature understanding of social relationships, and single people can learn better, but they have to be invested in some relationships in order to learn the lessons.  People in committed relationships are almost forced to realize these truths, or they will find that the relationship becomes less and less lively and rewarding, and a distance begins to grow.  These single persons can still be wonderful family members and friends, offering valuable viewpoints and adding to the talent pool for survival; but they’ve got some distinct limits and require some distance to keep from getting enmeshed in their drama.

In spite of all of these realities, many persons over 35 still actively hope to find satisfying relationships with other persons of their age and stage.  This will be more challenging for the reasons I stated in Singleness Part 1.  It’s not impossible, though.

What I want to mention in this part, is that the happiest relationships that I have seen where the two persons began their intimacy and commitment after that age, is when they both knew each other well during their younger years. If they knew each other well in high school, had dated before they were involved in other relationships, or were otherwise very involved in their earlier years in a platonic way, there is a strong possibility for a successfully enduring and rewarding relationship with one of these persons from the past – if they are available and not in a different relationship.

It also helps if they are adaptable and willing to make changes that may seem threatening to their psyche or their definition of self.  If you’ve always described yourself in this way, doing this thing, or never doing this thing – is it really a loss of your self-identity to change?  Would you be willing to give it up if someone you loved were to suffer a life changing event (illness or injury), and not resent it?  Then, don’t make it a bargaining chip with a new beloved.  It’s just part of finding new places to join a person’s life with yours to make an “our life” together.  They will need the courage to do the same.

I don’t want to make this seem simple or easy – because it’s certainly worth it.  But only if you have found someone who enhances who you are, and says that you do the same for them – and you can believe it.

Above all – do NOT go into this kind of thing on your own whim, without support from friends and family.  They will know what’s hurting you before you do, sometimes.  Also, rely on couples counseling.  These professionals have learned what sabotages intimate relationships, and they’ll help you and yours to overcome the pitfalls that are most common, and some that may seem uncommon.  They also help you to ask the hard questions.  So – keep the outside relationships strong enough to support the effort, and give it a go if you think you’ve met that special someone!

If you are like me, and you’re really comfortable with life as a single person – don’t feel like you’re damaged goods.  We have the freedom of accepting invitations without consulting others, and when we’ve made a mistake, we don’t have to feel guilty about putting someone else in trouble with our mistakes.  Life as a single adult is enriching and wonderful – but we have to force ourselves to keep our social contacts fresh and strong in order to avoid being too self-absorbed.  But- that’s a blog for another day.

 

Singleness (Part 1)

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“People who have been single for too long are the hardest to love. They have become so used to being single, independent and self-sufficient that it takes something extraordinary to convince them that they need you in their life.” facebook/saranaveedwriter

I found this statement in a graphic on Facebook. It was just a brown box with the white font. Several things bothered me about it, though I knew that part of what the author was saying was true.

The things that bothered me were: what is ‘too long’? Why are people who have been single for long times ‘hardest to love’? Why must they be convinced that ‘they need [emphasis mine] you in their life?

What I can agree with (if it was their intent to communicate this idea) is that persons who are over 35 who have never been in an intimate relationship, and have lived alone for 10 years or more, tend to be less flexible about incorporating other persons into their everyday lives and intimate places.

If these single persons meet someone new, it’s extremely challenging for the long time single person to accommodate the invasions and disruptions a new resident will bring into their daily life activities in every intimate way: physical, emotional, financial and even with dream shaping. The comfort zones are too well set, and often there are histories of losses to overcome that bring a sense of threat to the compromises that may be required.

Those things I can agree with.

What I can’t agree with is that the single person who has been alone “too long” is “hardest to love”. If that person has healthy relationships with family members and close friends, they are abundantly lovable and have avenues of sharing affection and love toward those other relationships. They are very well socialized and engaged with the ones they love and with those who love them. They will have been well invested in their beloveds, and will have done extraordinary things to help their beloveds succeed when those beloveds struggled. They’ve similarly had to ask for and receive extraordinary things from their beloveds in order to overcome adverse times. This is part of what every human incorporates in their lifestyles to thrive and live well: a support system. I just don’t think that these folks are “the hardest persons to love” in anyone’s life, just because they are single, self-sufficient and independent.

I also don’t think that because someone hasn’t found a reason to become intimately involved with anyone else, that they ‘need’ to have something extraordinarily convincing that they are ignoring a “need” that only another person can fill.

While I know that not every person who is single is in a healthy state, neither is every person in a relationship in a healthy state. Relationships don’t necessarily bring us to health, though they can always enhance our health and help it to flourish. We’re social creatures, after all. The thing is: we have to realize that we are responsible for nurturing ourselves – even if we’re in a relationship! Only I know what my needs are, and I have to first acknowledge them to myself, and then communicate them to others who can help me find the things that will relieve my needs. The very same is true of you, and every other person alive. We are self-aware, but we don’t have telepathy, and neither does anyone else.  We need everyone else to reveal themselves to us, and teach us who they are, and how we can bless them best.  We need to do the same for them.

If someone begins a relationship with another primarily because they need them, that relationship is already on shaky ground.

I wholly agree that we have sexual needs, and even dreams that require a partner in life to see them come true. Having a caring and devoted team member to help us enjoy sexual affection while achieving common goals – like growing a family – is a huge reward in life that changes your world view like nothing else can. Even if there will be no children, the immediacy of having someone to talk to when ideas bear fruit, or when we’re being crushed by our losses is like nothing else in the world, when the relationship is benevolent, respectful and interest is strong in each other’s individuality.

However, if you are trying to join up with someone because you are driven to obtain certain life goals more than focusing on the right blend of the partnership, then you’ve only tried to force a union to a timetable. Instead of growing into a healthy union with another person you have strong healthy feelings of respect and affection toward, you become part of an unhealthy relationship that will probably get more toxic as it continues as others wince to watch. Instead of having a partner who enhances your strengths, you may end up with someone who saps that very dynamic from the heart of you. Or worse, YOU could be the one sapping it from them because of the mismatch! This is the failure and sorrow that many long time single persons are avoiding, and that is very healthy and wise.

What I really think the author was expressing was frustration with their search for a mate. Probably someone who is over 35, and looking for someone over 35 who’s interested in being their partner. The search is not bearing much fruit, and their pool of candidates is getting more and more shallow. Can they ever accept that being single could be good for themselves, instead of getting bitter and blaming others for their being alone?

What do you think? Do you know of some single folks who are living well and probably never going to get involved with anyone else in an intimate way? Do you pity them or do you envy them? Why?

Old TV’s Won’t Recycle

Cathode Tube ProblemsI was reading this article about how thrift stores in the Chicago metro area are being flooded with old televisions that use the cathode tube and analog technology to work.  Most are heavy and have to be carefully recycled, so that they don’t damage the environment as waste.  New laws generated in 2012, to limit how they are disposed of in IL has caused a problem, though.  There is activity to help deal with the problem, but it doesn’t become effective for a few months, or the new laws are pending until the old laws can be changed this spring.

The trouble is the same when dealing with old computer monitors as well.  They have used the same technology and are being cast off for the same reasons: desktop real estate (space), and weight as well as lack of high definition.

So what’s a person to do in the meantime?  Check your local recycle area for their schedule of days they will accept the old sets, is one bit of advice.  Another is to keep them as long as they are working and in good repair.

An excerpt of this article here: A Kane County e-waste recycling event Dec. 12 collected enough old electronics in four hours to fill six 35-foot semitrailers, [Jennifer] Jarland [recycling coordinator for Kane County] said. Televisions made up 60 percent of that haul. Many appeared relatively new and in working condition.

“We’re just being flooded, especially with those giant TVs,” Jarland said. “If they’re still working, keep using them.”

One reason that people are getting rid of even the nicer heavy TV’s, is that too many have toppled over onto infants and toddlers, killing them immediately, or severely injuring them with lifelong impacts.  This would make getting rid of a heavy television, even if it’s working and looks new, a necessary goal for anyone who has small children or will have small baby visitors.

The cost of lighter, high definition televisions with all the plugs for gaming, computer feeds as well as cable and sound bar connectivity is becoming more affordable, too.  Many consumers are finally digging out of the consequences of the Great Recession, and have the ability to buy what they could only long after before.

I have to admit that I hated having a heavy television, especially as I had to move very often as my fortunes changed after the year 2000.  It was a huge relief to buy a lighter plasma television (though it was analog) in 2006.  My mother still had her heavy cathode television until she died in 2013.   None of her survivors wanted something so bulky and heavy.  Thankfully, we found a place that was still recycling them when getting rid of it.

As an older person, moving such a television is not simple, and I’ve generally tried to avoid it or ask strong friends for help when I’ve had to do it.  I honestly never wanted to worry about my friends or family hurting themselves over carrying anything heavy for me during a move.  If I can’t move it by myself, I will probably get rid of it or avoid buying it altogether.

I can’t see any reason for people to keep the old square cathode televisions, since rectangular wide screen presentations are becoming more common, too.  That means trying to see a video on such a TV would have the sides being cut off.  Sometimes, you’re missing the face of a person who’s talking, or the main person in the center is talking about something you can’t see off on the side.

I feel bad for the folks who are stuck with these heavy televisions, and feel a bit anxious that I may be reading another sad story about an infant crushed by one.

What do you think about these old televisions?

Christmas Warmth is not Always Romance

I just feel like I have to rant a bit.  I am honestly tired of the Hallmark Channel making Christmas all about romance.  I really am annoyed with that.  It doesn’t even address rekindled romances with married couples who aren’t separated or divorced (as the movie The Bishop’s Wife does).  Most of us really enjoy watching stories about folks in situations like our own, and they aren’t delivering.

That’s the appeal of The Christmas Story, and that’s why it can play for a whole 24 hour period, knowing there will be a large enough audience for each hour of airtime. In that movie, Dad and Mom are quirky, but they seem to have a real affection for each other, and their kids, with an enthusiasm for life.  Add some holiday twists to their situation, and there you go!  It turns into something iconic for the season.  Even if we’re single, we don’t end up feeling lonely and left out, like a romance story can do.  We were once kids ourselves, and the story is told from the oldest child’s point of view.  So we become a bit nostalgic – and most of Christmas is about nostalgia. We can see how our parents may have been like his parents in some ways, and we snicker.  Or we just feel the warmth of remembering our parent’s enthusiasm for filling in their family roles.  If we’re parents now, we may see ourselves in his parent’s actions and cringe with a blush – but it’s all in good fun and utterly warmhearted.  These parents aren’t brutish or crass, but they are imperfect – the thing is that they are present and accounted for come what may.  Even if a pack of dogs eat the turkey – someone remembers the Chinese restaurant is open and gets the family there for dinner. That’s all any kid ever needs to feel solidly loved and good about who they are. To have parents who are present and don’t bail.

With every Hallmark movie turning into a romance story, they are turning many of us away in droves.  Young kids don’t want romance.  To them, the opposite sex is viewed with some suspicion.  They are either an utter bother, or they can be acceptable playmates – until they aren’t. So, all of those romance movies are not usually good for family viewing.

Some of us are happily single, or just not drawn into the fiction of romantic dialogs that no one can match in real life without a script (that’s another blog for another day).  I’m not too old for affectionate relationships with family and even good friends who I adore.  I just don’t enjoy watching a young couple I don’t know working out their romantic complications. I won’t enjoy their romance story in a vicarious way at all.  I have many friends who are my age who would push me away and say that they love a good romance; but Hallmark is cranking them out so cheaply that they aren’t even putting out GOOD romances.  So even these friends are sighing in discomfort and wishing there was better stuff to watch.

My point is that most of the world doesn’t revolve around romance, though there is a market for it if it is done well and in the right places.  You need a real story to go with the romance that caters to the rest of us,  – like Miracle on 34th Street did or as they did with The Lemon Drop Kid.  Or even as It’s a Wonderful Life worked.  There’s a romance in It’s a Wonderful Life, but the story is about how lives are valued. Since Christmas is an easy crisis point for anyone’s life – it’s become iconic and is watched and enjoyed by folks of all ages and stages.

You get something like White Christmas produced as a movie, with all of the over the top pageantry and a distinctively appealing song that wasn’t about romance, and that becomes the formula for success that keeps the family watching it over the years (though kids can be bored with the story, which makes it a good bedtime movie).

Some think they can’t make ‘em like that anymore “because the age of the musical is over”.  Tell that to the folks counting the revenues from Dirty Dancing and High School Musical (both 1 and 2).  There’s an audience, if the story is worthy, the production solid, talent pool dug deeply enough, along with the tunes being catchy and applicable to our lives.  Again, those were centered on romances, but there were enough other things going on to confound or enhance the romance angle that they could draw in those of us who aren’t drawn into romances.

There’s no real explanation for the attraction for A Charlie Brown Christmas beyond the need for something that draws us out of the clamor of the season. It reminds us that we don’t have to be perfect, or drawn into overspending thanks to smooth marketing, or even gathered in a group, to enjoy the holiday’s appeal.  If there’s anything else like that one out there, I don’t know what it could be.

What makes this all a bigger sore point for me, and the reason I am taking Hallmark to task more than the other producers of “Holiday Specials for Family Viewing”, is that I used to enjoy Hallmark’s television specials and looked forward to them every holiday season.  That was long before they had a channel all their own, though.  Now, I don’t even bother turning any of them on without checking to see what the story line is, first.  And every time I check these past few years – it’s some shallow storyline that is poorly produced and always just about a complicated romance – with no strong talent pool performing the script.  Even the commercials for these movies aren’t alluring.

Hallmark – are you listening?

Why is it Bland if it Doesn’t Burn?

I enjoy cooking when I’m not under some deadline, have insufficient ingredients for the meal I want to make (and so must use brain cells to be creative), or when it’s just for myself.  I think it’s one of my love languages, to cook something tasty for someone I love.  It’s a huge blessing when they like it, and compliment it.

So, as I have been reading the hashtag about how white cooks serve only bland food, I admit I giggled first (thinking of all the bland cooks I know), and then I got a bit riled.

It was funny at first, because I have met some wives who married men who won’t eat anything but the blandest of foods.  So that’s what they’ve been forced to prepare and serve.  I also remember when there weren’t so many options for frozen meals that were tasty or affordable.  You usually went to a restaurant or cafe to eat when you didn’t eat at home.  Or you could order take out (pizza, asian food, etc).  So there were a lot of lazy cooks or inexperienced cooks who didn’t use more than vinegar, sugar, butter, salt and pepper for their flavorings.  When things got tight, the butter and sugar might not be so freely used.  So, sometimes it was economy that made the difference.

What riled me is when so many of the comments under that hashtag talked about how only Caucasian cooks would have such flavorless food, and I saw a lot of references to “adding some heat” to improve the food that was served.  How does making your mouth burn turn into adding flavor?

I am very plainly a “foodie” and my size shows it.  I have a spice cabinet that made my sister’s eyes pop when she saw it, and my friend laugh as they unpacked it for me during a move a few years ago.  I believe in seasoning food to add flavor and am not shy about using paprika, lavender, garlic or even cumin to different foods to see what it does to make the natural flavors pop.  At no time does anyone need to gasp and grab a glass of water to make me smile and think I’ve delivered a good dish to serve.  I want them to really taste their food, and the seasonings or spices that I add.  If I used too much, I like to hear that, too.  I’ll go easier next time, and nudge the recipe back a bit.

But my ire changed to giggles as I remembered what my foster father taught us so many years ago.  He was a life long history student, and had a passion for the arcane facts of each social group he could find information about.  When we kids happened to ask, “why do hot climates serve hot spicy food?”  He was forced to wait (by Mom) until after dinner to tell us.

While she removed the debris of dinner, he explained with a grin, “It’s because in the hot climates, meat spoils faster.  So they use spice to both hide the flavor of spoiled meat, and to make it more possible to eat without getting severely ill.  The English began using a lot of curry when they were in India for just that reason.  There’s a letter between English officers in a book upstairs where they were telling each other to have the cooks learn from the natives how to use it for the meat that would spoil when it was shipped from England if it wasn’t salted or in a brine.”

So- I had to laugh at the thought that those who complain about people who allow the flavor of meat to be lightly seasoned so only the meat flavors are savored, are generally touting the cooking habits of those who had to serve spoiled meats.

Well – I’m glad that they can enjoy it.  I’m also going to take a pass on that food – with a private grin.

Does Money Help the Poor?

I’ve had some questions ever since I read this article: What Happens When the Poor Receive a Stipend?   What the author seemed to learn, was that when an unearned stipend was given to poverty level families, they benefited and changed their previously predictably negative futures for the better.  The younger the children, the better the futures, since the children had less negative history to rework or unlearn.

We’ve all heard variations of the saying, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”  I don’t think that this article is in defiance of that idea.  I think it just points out that poverty has to be overcome in order for someone to find success, even in a “free” country with good human ethics, laws and traditions.  If you show someone how to fish, but don’t provide a way to get the fishing lures, hooks, line, nets, or other materials needed to do the job, it seems to be that the lessons are in vain.  Let enough time go by, and the student even forgets how to use the items should they stumble on some.  For example: I have learned some software skills (Access, to be exact) three times with expert levels of accomplishment during the classes – only to forget it because I haven’t used it later on.  We flippantly and accurately note: “If you don’t use it – you lose it.”

So, I guess I see that we have to make an impact on the poverty before we can see the resident of poverty find their ways out of that state of being.  That’s what the author of the article seems to have found out.

This seems to defy what I have heard from my church life teachings, though.  Most of the time, I have heard lessons about how to be thrifty so that there is ample money for any situation.  I’ve been taught that if you are careful to cultivate skills in both learning and skilled labor of some sort (artistic pursuits would count), then there is no reason to believe that you can’t provide a means of support for yourself, your family or your church/ministry.  Many of the teachers of these ideas came from a challenging economy themselves that we now call The Great Depression.  They still said that if you were willing to work, then you should be able to find an honest way to eat.

As I read many accounts of that time, there were plenty of folks who were honest and looking for some kind of work to help their families with.  But they went homeless, hungry and died as a result.

Don’t get me wrong – I trust God’s plan is better and mightier than any plan a human mind might devise.  I’m just wondering what my role should/could be in understanding what God’s point of view is concerning these things.  I am going to be thinking this through a lot, as I join the ranks of “the poor” once again in my life.  I don’t see that I’ll ever leave this rank or role either, since I am now older and not seeing anyone interested in employing me in any gainful wage situation.

I don’t always think it’s age that’s holding me back – since no one knows I’m “older” until they meet me.  Most of my resumes only get tossed into a pool of candidates and not even chosen for an interview for no reasons I can find out about.  I suspect it’s because I’ve worked as a temp/contractor for nearly 10 years, though that should prove that I’m trainable, and that my skills have been kept fresh.  The reality is that I am stuck with a minimum wage job, with part time hours; and that’s the best I can do in spite of having an Associate degree and years of Administrative Clerical experience.  I have no idea why I can’t find anything better.

I am not lazy, I work hard at the job, and then I work hard at home cleaning and keeping my home and car well maintained (where I can do it without cost).  I send out resumes wherever I find an opening that makes sense to try for (can’t work at a job 50 miles away for a wage that won’t support the gas or car repairs as well as a low rent).  I check several job sites out at least three times a week, and keep a record of all the jobs I’ve submitted resumes or filled applications out online for.  I am listed with several staffing agencies and am regularly contacted at least once a week for them to submit me as a candidate for a client (of course!).  I will get an interview about once every three weeks.  I never get the second interview, though it always seems to be a good interview.  Even the staffing rep says the feedback from the client about me was very good to excellent.  My test score percentages for all the software skills range from the mid 80’s to 100% (proofreading/spelling tests are my forte it seems).

The reality is that too many jobs have been eliminated, and where I might have competed against 20 or so applicants for a job posting in 2004 – I am now competing with more than 100 candidates for a position.  This means that my resume may never even be seen by the hiring manager.  They just get overwhelmed by the response, and just pick out the first few good possibilities and toss the rest in the trash.  This is not personal, and I have heard this from three different hiring managers, so I try to remind myself that it’s not because I’m not valuable or that I am discarded.  It’s just that I am anonymous in the crush for employment.

Because I believe that God is bigger than a fax machine, and that He can make my resume fall in just the right spot for someone to see – I will believe that my situation is just what God wants it to be – for now.  My job is to be humble and not object.  I am to be gracious and keep my words kind and patient for those who would ask me what I am doing that isn’t working.  They just don’t know, and it’s good that they have good work that keeps them clueless, as far as I am concerned.  I would rather they had the jobs that they do!  I just wonder if we understand who needs help and what is “help” when it comes to the poor?

Ideas?  Comments?  I’m interested – so please share!

Copyright © 2014 Churchmousie ~ all rights reserved.

Toil and Trouble

Some days, I need an anthem to remind me of what’s real, of what’s important, and help me sort my way out of the clamor of all the things that others seem to shout around me.

I’ve been tossed about the political rants going on by friends I like, respect, and care very much about.  The things they say are sometimes very thought provoking – but under close examination they are actually very opinionated and frequently they resort to inflammatory insults being flung against those who hold different views.  I see that they are also being influenced by others who will insist that their sources are the ones to be trusted -but they don’t cite their sources.  Are they trustworthy enough for me to check out?  Why not mention them?  Since some of these friends are friends I’ve known and loved for many years, it’s been bewildering to me to see how they got where they are.  And, am I in the right place not to join them?  Shouldn’t I have some remedy to the predicaments and ills that they are trying to address before I sneer at their options/conclusions?  There’s this stifling sense of responsibility – but no direction for me to apply it to.

I also see that many of my beloveds are struggling financially just like I am, with this shaky economic predicament our world and our country is in.  I have been unemployed without any income since June.  I have to leave my rented home and have chosen to accept my son’s generous offer to move in with him until I can find a new job and another independent situation.  His job ended last week, so all of a sudden the question became – are we both homeless?

Thankfully, I learned this morning that God has enabled me to get a very low wage job working in retail.  I LOVE working in retail during the holidays, so this is something I am wholly grateful for.  As I continue looking for something at a better wage, I am considering keep this job to work alternately with the other one.  However, since I only have the low wage right now, neither of us can get enough money together for December’s rent.  I am mostly packed up and my current home is nearly empty, and I am poised for the move to his now threatened home this weekend.  Is this not what God wants?  Are we supposed to just find alternate situations instead?  A decision needed to be made – and rather soon!

I networked with a few folks, and – thankfully – I found a way to work out December’s rent for us.  We’ll still have to work out electric bills, food, gas and we’ve both got car insurance and he’s got car payments to work out.  So, our situation is still very tenuous.  But for right now – there’s a sense of relief, mercy, and thanksgiving for this first hurdle’s resolution.

I might excel at Crisis Management because I’ve generally had to do it so often – but I would ever prefer it not involve my personal needs for shelter, health care, or resources for income.   In other words, this kind of crisis management I despise and avoid.  I do my mightiest to build resources to guard against it!  However, God knows my character needs to keep growing, keep building, and that I need to keep leaning on Him with faith and trust.  It’s often through our crying out that we finally listen to what is most critically important:  I am not here to simply live out a life of ease and prosperity.  I am not even here to impress anyone else with my talents and abilities.  I am here to reflect the character of a merciful and gracious God to those who are doing all that I am – but in a darker more hopeless way.  Which means I can’t stay so dark or hopeless myself, if I really mean what I have been saying or believing.   Well, that sure puts me in my place, doesn’t it?

I need to see the plight of those God wants me to reach out to.  I need to remember how it feels to be where they are.  They haven’t woken up to God as a real entity yet.  They are stumbling along the best that they can, and they have perhaps dimly heard God’s voice in their past – but it’s gotten faint, now.  I need to be centered in my NOW in order to be available to reflect God to even just my beloveds, if not the rest of the world that I live in.  I am here to live out a message of unlimited grace, incomprehensible mercy, and immutable truth.  I need to express what I found out is real about God in every situation – no matter how challenging, egregious, damaging, victorious, triumphant, and marvelous.  He’s here – I know it because I sense His nearness just like I sense the nearness of others who love me.  He cares about YOU, and we all matter.

There are scriptures galore to support all of these statements, and if you want to know them send me a comment and I’ll send them to you.  If you know of a scripture that disagrees with something in my blog at any time – please DO tell me so in comments!  But right now, my point is that each of us will live out God’s will differently – that’s why He created us different from one another.  Once we find out that He’s real, we need to be certain that we are living out what He’s called us to do (or to see if someone else – a Pastor perhaps – is living out God’s will).  Be very sure of this: He will NEVER call you to do something that scripture has told us is outside of God’s holy will.  If you have someone in your life who ‘s saying something the Bible disagrees with – don’t follow them.  God will fix it eventually, and you don’t want to be an accomplice who shares their consequences!  The same goes for you if you feel like doing something that is clear to you as being against what Scripture has stated is outside of God’s desire for his beloveds.  You don’t lose His love at all – but you’re out of order.  Any loving parent will help sort that out before giving you treasures and gifts.  That’s just how love works.

So, as I was reviewing all that I knew about the more urgent crises of the day, I was feeling very stressed, limited, mortal, and human.  I honestly have fought against despair many times in the past few months with several funerals, job loss, inability to secure a new job, expensive car repairs that totaled my savings, as well as the impending loss of my home – life is tough!  We get tired.  We get depressed.  We grieve and we hurt, and we even lose sight of hope for better anything ahead.  There’s no energy left for the work, and we get overwhelmed.  A way out looks much preferable to any possible way through.

Then, someone writes a song that becomes a wonderful anthem that reminds me/you/us of what’s important.  I almost feel like Paul must have on that road to Damascus when he was “spotlighted” for a moment with God.

Yes, for such a time as this – I was placed on this earth.  I can embrace it, and celebrate it.  Right now.  Right here.

Copyright © 2013 Churchmousie ~ all rights reserved.

Changes Are Work!

It has been a busy time at the condo in the over 55 gated community I’ve been living in these past three years.  I have said sad goodbyes to things I just couldn’t use anymore, and no one else needed.  My wonderful family came over to help me pack up what I hadn’t yet packed into boxes or bags so they could go to Goodwill or to whomever had “dibs” on them.  It made me feel really good to hear my son say, “You did a great job getting ready for moving this time!”  I also enjoyed seeing it leave.  My home was so disheveled that I honestly couldn’t think!

When my brother-in-law, his two sons, my sister, and her daughter arrived at 9am, I wasn’t yet dressed.  However, I wasn’t slacking.  I had set up two crockpots with chili for later in the day, and had just finished washing the dishes from the job.  I hurried to dress, and we went to work just organizing what we were going to do.  My sister is a whiz at doing that kind of thing, and it didn’t fail me this time either.  She’s phenomenal at spacial acuity, too.  She can eyeball a bit of furniture and be certain if it will fit into a space.  Men will be spoiled with her, since the rest of us suffer from “let’s move it and see” first.  And measuring?  Psh!  That’s a guy thing, lol.  She’s also a wonder at being able to see order in disorder, so I leaned on her for the most help at first.

We set the brother-in-law to work on “tall person things.”  Ok, that was after we set his youngest up to play some video games (out of the way), and his older guy to taping boxes for books and CD’s to go into.  But he was great at just reaching up and getting things done that would have required me to get a step stool and then perhaps over reaching to do.  He even spackled over an area that I still can’t tell was ever in need of it!  Great job!

As the first group left, my sons and daughter-in-law arrived.  By then the chili was really smelling more than delicious, and I was glad I’d made so much.  Furniture left and I had 2/3 of the condo empty where it had once held “stuff.”  Nice stuff, but still – stuff.  The most wonderful part of the work was finding out that something I had valued was prized by someone else.  Let me explain…

When I was only 19, I had just moved into my first apartment and had a decent job in a factory.  My weekly paychecks were about $250/week.  A full tank of gas only ran me about $5, though.  My furnished apartment (remember those?) cost me $50/week in rent, so I had some money to spare, but not much.  A salesman came through, and he was selling china, crystal, cookware and bakeware.  Honestly, I didn’t think I was in the market for anything he had, but my sister/roommate and I wanted to be polite and see his presentation.  He was good looking and we were primed and ready, looking back.

He ended up selling us starter sets of fine china, crystal stemware, waterless cookware, and stainless steel flatware (aka silverware, eating utensils).  One comment he made stayed with me forever: “Don’t save the china for just those annual occasions like Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Use it every time something special happens.  It’s not worth anything as a decorative display.  It’s not good china if it’s not used.”  I took that to heart, and used mine at least 12 times a year.  A whole month might have gone by without using it once, but then next month we’d have used it twice.

That china served up roasted meats, simple meatloaf dinners, spaghetti, and even hot dogs once.  If someone won an award or something fun was in the air – the drapes were drawn during the summer months and candles were lit.  I would set the first place so the children could match the set up around the table.  We’d use both cloth and paper napkins as well as table cloths.  We didn’t have much, but we could make it special with the china.  Many happy memories are in my mind concerning the china’s days of use.

So, as we all prepare for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays – pull out that fine china!  Lay out the cloth tablecloths and napkins – they wash, and with Oxy-cleaners, you won’t have to worry one bit about any lipstick or wine stains.  Set up that table and let everyone know how special they are.  Don’t make a fuss if something breaks – these are only things.  We’re making memories here, don’t die with all of it on some shelf.  USE it while you’re alive and have the folks near and dear at the table!  If you don’t have any fine china – they have some really nice stoneware at incredible prices at the discount stores and even at some of the Dollar stores.  Go for it :).  I found a whole set of wonderful china at Goodwill once, and paid $15 for a set that cost over $600 to replace on the internet site that I could buy parts from.  Check for extra pieces that will work with your partial set, there.  I used clear dishes with my china when I needed extra plates or bowls.

Generally fine china is passed down to a daughter or other female family member.  I had no daughters, and I saw that my daughters-in-law had different taste in china designs.  I realized that the china would probably end up in a pile for Goodwill someday when I wouldn’t be able to use it anymore.  So, I had decided to use it for everyday, doggonit!  I gave away all the rest to my foster sister (keep up with me here – I have a LOT of family!), the weekend before, and realized that I couldn’t use it in the microwave (platinum trim on the edges) – so was pulling some “nuking dishes” back out of the piles.  Then my eldest son called and said he really liked it.  He and his wife had been looking at china not just for sale, but what other people had been putting out as “fine china” and he said nothing was on par with what my china looked like.  If I didn’t want it, he’d really like it.

I don’t know how to explain it, but did you ever have something really wonderful that cost you a lot – but it gave back as much as it costed?  That china cost me $500.00 back in 1973.  It’s only missing four cups (doggoned little handles snap so easily), and two of the smaller plates.  He got the crystal long ago, but I was so happy to pack up the china for one last time and send it home with him.

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Images from Replacements.Ltd

I’m so glad that I didn’t wait to let them get rid of all of this when I’ve died.  I got rid of most of it for them, and I got to see what they valued and that they got it to keep and use while I can still be around to enjoy it.

Moving day is the 16th, and I still have some sorting to do.  Mostly, this is going to be sorting what will wait until I’m in my own home, and what I need while I’m working to get there.  I can’t spend more than two hours at a time on the sorting.  It just wears my brain down too far.  So I take breaks and come back to the task with a better brain after some Facebook time, or coffee and television.  Life here will be quiet, for sure.  But the move will bring me to a nice town I am so pleased to live in, with a job to begin working at nearby I hope.

For now, I am listening to Christmas music on the Cable channel that plays music.  I love it!

Copyright © 2013 Churchmousie ~ all rights reserved.

Regrets – Should We Have None?

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I had a friend post this on his FB, and I took a few minutes to consider it before making a comment there.

I know it’s hard to read, so here is what it says: “Live the life you want to live, Never be ashamed of anything.  Make decisions, make mistakes.  If you fall at least you fell because you tried.  No regrets, It’s life.”

Here’s what I thought about it.  First:  We should be courageous and undaunted, on that I agree.

Never be ashamed?  Never any regrets?  That’s not healthy or desirable.

Only the most callous and self absorbed people are going to be the ones who have no regrets. We need regrets.  Regrets help us to find the courage to make amends to those we caused pain. They keep us humble in our hopes and plans for the future,  Regret is no worse than shame or embarrassment.

Shame and embarrassment make us hesitate from rushing to judgement and keep us from being too harsh when we see the truth.  Shame comes when we wound someone in a way we didn’t realize or didn’t want to admit would hurt someone else.  Once the action is complete, and we stop to consider what was done – shame lets us know we did something we should have known better than to do.  Shame helps us see what we did as someone outside of us would see it.  Shame reminds us that life isn’t all about US, and that other people matter, too.

The difference between shame and embarrassment is this: Embarrassment is when our pride is wounded, and it’s mostly caused injury only to “me.”  I will feel sad, anxious and concerned and I’ll have to be more humble in front of those who witnessed my embarrassing actions.  Shame comes when I see that I acted as if something was all about me – when it shouldn’t have been.

When we take another treat, knowing someone else hasn’t had their serving yet – and now they will have none – that’s shame.  Sitting on that piece of cake – is embarrassing.  Not sharing the cake to begin with, and then they find out about it and avoid you for awhile as they get over your selfishness – that should bring shame, be regretted, and remembered as a lesson when you encounter any similar situations in the future.  You learn compassion and empathy when you allow regret, shame and even embarrassment to do their work in our hearts, minds, and spirits.

This feels clumsy, but I hope it makes some sense.  The feelings are different, but they are all healthy.  We need them like we need vitamin C or a walk in the park.  They help us to grow and to support others in their growth.

Now, some might think, “You’ve taken this too seriously.  It’s just a Facebook graphic and not meant to be a big deal.”  I would gently disagree.  It’s a philosophical statement, and we click “Like” if we agree with it.  If we feel strongly in our like or dislike, we post a comment.  To just “let it ride” seems superficial and shallow to me.  But, I also believe in tact, not being argumentative or abusing the person who posted the item.

So, I left a few carefully chosen words to say that I disagreed and why:  “We should be courageous and undaunted, on that I agree. I think that only the uncaring arrogant people who are only self absorbed are going to be the only ones who have no regrets. We need regrets to keep us humble for the future, and making amends to those we caused pain. Regret is no worse than shame or embarrassment. They make us hesitate from rushing to judgement and keep us from being too harsh when we see the truth.”

I know that the person who posted the graphic won’t respond, because they dislike using the keyboard.  We’ll see if their followers bring forward any rebuttals.  If so, I love a lively discussion!

What do you think?  Should we have no regrets?  Did I go too far in bringing up embarrassment with the shame in the graphic?  Feedback is welcomed!

Copyright © 2013 Churchmousie ~ all rights reserved

Significant Genders – Tributes

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I saw this on my news feed on Facebook, and my reaction to it as a female might not be what you would think it might be.  I felt irritated with it.  Let me tell you why.

I was talking to some lady friend one day many years ago, and we were making some stereotypical observations on men (all rips, of course).  My eight-year-old firstborn son was nearby and he laughed with us, being a good sport and all; and it’s like time and space all halted around me – and I noticed his facial expression.  He wasn’t comfortable or happy with the fact that his gender was being trashed.  He was a potential man, after all.  But he was going to be a good sport about it because – that’s what men have to do.  Once I “got” that, things were back to usual, and I stopped laughing and tried to make some counter statement  – but the moment was over and the conversation moved in a different direction.

I spent a lot of time thinking of all the times I would man-bash, and of all the men I loved and respected who were being labeled and tossed under that description.  Was it fair? No.  Was it right?  Double no.  I was born when women were often the brunt of jokes more than men, and I wholly understand that women needed and deserved better.  I don’t think it had to come at the expense of good manners or civility- but somehow that happened.

I don’t think we have to bash anyone to lift someone else high.  I think we can have heroes without putting down the people who aren’t so heroic.  We still have to shame and blame the scoundrels in our midst, that’s true.  But, to say that anyone we notice has limits or foibles is deserving of scorn or insult is just – wrong.

So, I thought about it some more.  I know that women began objecting to the scorn that men were heaping on us, and rightfully so!  But – how can a man do that and not come off less heroic than just being a good sport?  I honestly didn’t see how any of them could.  So, I knew that as a daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend – it was up to me to start setting a better tone with the rest of the sisters.  It was up to me to say, “I don’t like man bashing, or woman bashing.  I want to put a stop to all gender distinctions that are just really human distinctions.  If this characterization is observed in women as well as men, then we can’t blame all men for it.  We all have limitations and failures of character.  We all have weaknesses we’re not proud of, but perhaps we have to learn how to be humble about.”

What I want to do is demonstrate some RESPECT.  I want men to respect their women for doing hard and heroic things.  I want women to respect their men for doing hard and heroic things that might be different than what they would do.  I want the bashing to stop, unless we want to point out some failure as a lesson of what NOT to do.  But then I ask you to take the time to point out the responsible person, not their gender.  HUMANS make mistakes, bad choices, and commit wrong actions.  Not just women or men, k?

I think we’re similarly often guilty of failing to notice when one typical role of each gender is doing a mighty thing.  When was the last time you read a tribute for Men – who aren’t in the military?  Let’s be more appreciative of what we see, and then – yeah, take the time to say something to them about it.  Or, give them some reward they will really like.  Show the children what’s valuable by demonstrating what happens when we value someone they know.  They already see what happens when we don’t value someone/something.  No need for any efforts there.

So, since I was irritated, I fixed it.

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Copyright © 2013 Churchmousie ~ all rights reserved