Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why homosexuality?

Because it's been like, at least a good whole week since I've offended anyone (via blog, at least), I thought today would be a good time to write about something I've been pondering for a long time now . . . Why are Christians so hung up on homosexuality?

Now, I'm not even going to bother discussing whether or not homosexuality is a sin, or whether you're born that way or it's a learned behavior, etc.  That's way more debate than I'm interested in at the moment and, honestly, until I become fluent in written Greek and Hebrew and study the original scripture for myself, I don't think I can know for sure.  No, what I'm going to be questioning today is how and when homosexuality became such a huge, unforgiveable sin in Christian culture.

Monday, August 29, 2011

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Most of you have seen me write about my money stress.  Between student loans, medical bills, two cars, a mortgage, and a toddler, it seems there's only ever enough money to cover the basics.  And it would be so nice if I could keep more of my paycheck.  That would mean extra money to save more my son's future college fund, or for a rainy day, or even just for a family treat, like a nice vacation.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Office Tomboy

People are always commenting on my sense of style.  Mostly they say things like, "You know there's a hole, actually, lots of holes, in those jeans, right?" or "Is that a middle school Science Olympiad t-shirt?"

Okay, so I'm not a fashionista.  In fact, my interest in clothing ranges from little to none.  When I'm at home or just hanging out, this is fine.  I can wear my favorite torn-up jeans I've had since 7th grade and a zombie rights t-shirt and feel comfortable.

But seriously, have you ever been shopping for clothes?  It is completely boring and completely frustrating, both at the same time.  Everything is expensive, even at the "cheap" stores, and most of what's in-style looks stupid.  Also, everything is always too short or too low-cut, or is tight in some places and baggy in others.  I hate everything about it.

The problem is, I work in an office.  8 hours a day, 5 days a week, I have to pretend I'm an adult.  This means dressing nicely.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

the well-intentioned sucker punch

I love Sunday morning for all the right reasons:  worship, sermon, fellowship, etc.  But I'll admit that I also get a big kick out of getting to show my kid off every Sunday.

My son may be barely 2, but he's charming and outgoing.  Everyone seems to know this kid, even if they don't know me or my husband.  He's just that type of toddler.

So it was no surprise when we were walking in this past Sunday that everyone was greeting him and giving him high-fives.  One very nice woman who was greeting stopped me to tell me how sweet and adorable my son is.  I thanked her, and was about to move on my way when she hit me with, "Isn't it time for another one?"

Bam.  The well-intentioned sucker punch.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Grace-filled Life

The last couple of weeks in church, we've been discussing grace, which is just awesome with me.  I love the topic of grace, and though we often pay lip-service to it, I feel like it's something Christians don't necessarily discuss in-depth a lot.  Which is a shame, because some of the New Testament writings on grace make for some of the most fascinating apologetics in the New Testament.  This really appeals to me because, while emotion is all fine and good, I really love me some logic in my religion.

Grace is one of my favorite topics to really study and get deep into because of my tortured history with its opposite, legalism.  The churches I grew up in were incredibly hypocritical and legalistic, teaching that the smallest infractions (i.e. "listening to secular music") could cause you to "backslide" and lose your salvation.  "Grace" was mentioned once or twice, but the emphasis was really on keeping your salvation through works and following an endless series of rules.  (Ironically, whenever the leaders were caught in really big sins, the blame was almost always placed on the Devil.)

When I left and rejected the teachings of the Pentecostal Holiness church, I found myself untethered, and drifting.  Because I had been under the weight of "the law" for so long, and all of the guilt and shame I had felt had come from outside influences, I had little in the way of a moral compass of my own.  This resulted in me making lots and lots of mistakes.  I finally realized that what I had been taught my whole life was bunk, but instead of keeping the good and throwing out the bad, I just tossed all of it.  I began sinning, kidding myself that, as long as I was the only person I was hurting through my actions, I was still being a "good" person.

Of course, when you self-destruct, it's never just you who you hurt.  You take out everyone who cares about you in a supernova of selfishness.

Fortunately, I got sick of living for myself pretty quickly.  I didn't want to be a screw-up.  I wanted to be a good person.  But I was still afraid of "organized religion", and all its (to me) inherent hypocrisies.

Getting back into the Bible has helped.  I always loved studying the Bible, even as a child, and re-reading it as an adult has helped me get closer to God.  Getting closer to God has helped me develop something I desperately needed:  a sense of conviction.  Not "guilt" from cultural and societal pressures, but an honest sense of what I feel God (through the Holy Spirit and the Bible) is telling me is right and wrong.

To give you an idea, here are some of the things about which I feel convicted, and some of the things I have never felt that God was condemning me for.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Food, shelter and clothing aren't enough.

We all like to think we would do the right thing if we saw evidence of a child being abused.  Call the cops.  Call CPS.  Report what you see.

What's harder is knowing what to do when a parent's treatment of a child is not illegal, but is still not right.

For instance, for those of you with kids, think back to your first Christmas as a parent.  You probably went a little nuts, right?  I know I did.  My son wasn't even five months old, but I was so excited about being a mom and about having an excuse to shower gifts and love upon my new little man, that I went a bit overboard.  I've toned it down some since that first Christmas and birthday, but I still get a big thrill out of shopping for and wrapping my little prince's presents.  Sometimes I get him something for no reason, or just pick him up from school early to go to a movie or play in the park, just because I enjoy showing him love.

Monday, August 15, 2011

These are the "Christians" you need to fear.

I want you to picture a community where women are second-class citizens.  They wear headcoverings, long sleeves in summer, and heavy layers of clothing, with no skin showing from neck to ankles.  A woman who wears pants, even at home, will be shunned.

The women in this community are considered to have only two purposes:  to serve men, and to give birth to several children, while running a household.  Daughters are denied anything but basic education, the primary focus being on them assisting their mother until the time when their father finds a husband for them.

Women who work outside the home are termed "whores", because they are serving and making money for a man other than their husband.  They are also shunned.

This community keeps itself highly isolated; partly to help enforce the rules on upcoming generations, but also because they believe they are preparing for a literal, physical manifestation of an ongoing cultural and spiritual war.  This is one of the main reasons they eschew all forms of birth control and attempt to have as many children as possible; to provide warriors for the coming battle.

Perhaps the community I described caused you to imagine a desert climate where people still ride camels and women wear burkahs.  But this issue is a bit closer to home.

Instead of the Middle East, try picturing the Midwest.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Brief Update: I have superpowers.

No, I'm not talking about my ability to run a fever constantly for an unspecified period of time (since that's not cool or useful).  Seriously, picture this...

Gotham City/Metropolis/Wherever late at night.  Dark alley.  Typical thugs mugging some poor guy scene.  A superheroine approaches from the shadows.  Thug 1 panics and shoots her in the chest.  She staggers for a second, then keeps walking forward.  She steps into the light to reveal a bullet wound from which no blood oozes.

That's my super-power.  I don't bleed.  Seriously, I freaked out a phlebotomist.  It took her several stabs with the needle to find a vein, and when she finally did, it took a few minutes just to fill three vials.  She went to bandage up my arms, and it turned out to be unnecessary, because they weren't bleeding.  This woman stabbed a needle all the way into my arm, and I didn't bleed.  Not a drop.  Not even from the site where she was finally able to collect the blood.

The Urgent Care I went to Sunday couldn't do a fingerprick blood draw on me because they couldn't get enough blood to test.  Apparently, my weird combination of low blood pressure, anemia, fever, and being dehydrated has made my veins tiny and shrunken far away from the surface of my skin, and has also slowed my blood down to a crawl.

You know what this means...If I can't bleed, I can't bleed to death.  Bam.  Superpower.

I'm thinking of going by "Hypotensia", or maybe "Anemia Girl".

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sorry for the delays in programming...

Sorry for the lack of updates.  Basically, I have been exhaustingly, overwhelmingly, and, somewhat mysteriously, sick.

The deal is, I've been running a fever since Tuesday night.  It's been pretty unvarying; never lower than 100, only got higher than 102 once, briefly.  Not many other symptoms besides nausea and fatigue.  Dehydration, too, but that's more of a side-effect of the fever than a symptom of whatever is wrong.

Finally broke down and went to the Urgent Care Sunday morning, and they couldn't immediately figure out what's wrong with me (besides hey, duh, you have a fever and you're dehydrated).  They tested for strep, mono, and pregnancy, because urgent care doctors lack imagination (or they get trained at the same place as college health clinic PAs).

The one kind of funny thing that happened was when they were doing my blood test for mono.  Fortunately, they only needed a finger prick for that, so they didn't have to butcher my arms any extra.  The problem was that my dehydration and chills were so bad that they couldn't milk enough blood out of my finger.  It's like that line from "The Jerk":  "I cut myself shaving and nothing came out but air."

Of course, I was negative for strep, mono, and pregnancy.  (Again, duh.)  So they needed a vial of blood to sent out for white blood cell counts.  Only took them three tries to find a vein!

I don't get my test results until tomorrow, which is a little nerve-wracking.  "Good" test results would show an elevated white blood cell count, meaning I'm just fighting some infection we can't see, and they can clear it right up with antibiotics.  Awesome.

"Not so good" test results would show a normal or, worse, low white blood cell count.  The best-case scenario we're looking at in that situation would be some sort of autoimmune disorder (which would certainly fit with the health problems I've had in the past).  The worst-case scenario isn't worth worrying about until we have something to worry about.

So, my updates are being a bit spazzy.  If it makes you feel any better, I promise I haven't been doing anything fun in all this time I've been neglecting the blog.  I've mostly been sleeping.

Friday, August 5, 2011

"Finnegan's Wake", in blog-form.

If this post doesn't make much sense it's because it's being written at 4:00 a.m. while I sweat and shiver under blankets in an 80 degree room.

See, I've been sick the last couple of days.

It's not been all-bad.  I've watched some movies.  I have lost a lot of weight.  (The trick is "not eating".)  I've even worked on the novel some, but it's slower than usual because I keep losing track of what's been typed down and what I've just written in my head.

I took my son to the doctor for his 2-year check-up yesterday.  He's perfectly healthy.  He's also huge.  He weighed 34 pounds, which puts him in the 95th-97th percentile for weight, and he's 37.5 inches tall, which puts him above the 97th percentile for height.  His doctor said he's the size of the average 3-year-old.

He also had to get a shot but he was so brave and he didn't cry and I was SO proud of him.

My parents got me a new phone which was really nice and cool, but I struggle adjusting to new things and I'm still not entirely sure how it works.  When it rings I just kind of yell at it and push buttons until it either picks up or I've hung up on the caller.

(If you've tried to call me in the last couple of days and have gotten nothing but screaming and button beeps, I'm sorry.)

I only took one day off work which is dumb because I'm seriously still really sick but it was good because I got a chance to catch up on my work and hang out with my co-workers.  (We had a really funny thing happen where we were picking on each other regarding an interoffice e-mail subject line for this complicated requisition and I guess you had to be there because I tried to explain it to my husband but he just said, "That's not funny.")

We also started on plans to run highspeed go-karts into each other again, because that's how you bond in an (almost) all-male office.  (I'm the one person who makes it "almost".)

Yesterday was mine and my husband's 5-year wedding anniversary which is super-awesome but it wasn't much fun because he tried to make me this awesome meal and I couldn't eat hardly any of it.  He makes these chicken quesadillas that taste like the ones Rock-O-La had before they closed down (and those quesadillas were my favorite thing on the menu).  He also made a cake with chocolate mousse filling and cream cheese icing, which is my favorite.

I think today is Friday, which means my parents (the Papa and the Mimi) are going to watch my son so my husband and I can hang out for our anniversary, which will probably end up with me just seizing the opportunity to go to bed earlier without my son jumping on me and the bed and yelling, "Mama wake up?  Mama play!"

Also, a bunch of people from my church are going to Belize to serve at an orphanage and a Vacation Bible School and I was really jealous I wasn't going but now I realize it's probably good that I'm not because I don't think you want to run a fever in Belize.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I'm fine with my husband's crush.

As busy parents, it's so important that my husband maintain a routine of things that we do as a married couple, times that are set aside just for us.

Of course with family, friends, work, church, our son's activities, etc., there are few opportunities for us to do this.  That's why we always keep Monday nights open, to watch "our stories".  During the regular fall season, we never miss an episode of "House".  During the summer, we obsess like teen girls over "TrueBlood".

For those of you who might not be aware, "TrueBlood" is a show about vampires and other supernatural creatures (and some plain old humans) living in Louisiana.  It's based off a series of books I love, and it's very adult-themed.  (It comes off HBO, if that explains it some.)

Also, about 95% of the cast are just drop-dead (haha "dead") gorgeous.

My husband has a little bit of a crush on the actress who plays the vampire Jessica, a beautiful and talented young woman named Deborah Ann Woll.  It's not like he specifically watches other stuff just because she's in it or has a picture of her as his desktop background or anything.  He just has a really obvious soft-spot for "Jessica".

And I'm totally okay with it.  I may not be attracted to her, but I can objectively say she is a stunningly beautiful girl.  And it's not like my husband compares me unfavorably to her, or even mentions her outside of the context of the show.  Plus, she's a tall, pale, blue-eyed redhead, and I'm a tall, pale, blue-eyed, (currently) redhead.  No jealousy here.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Least of These

The last few weeks, my church has been teaching a series on "The Least of These".  It comes from the verse where Jesus tells his disciples that whatever they have done for "the least of these" (widows, poor, hungry, etc.) they have done for him.

This Sunday, we had a special service to really call attention to the needs of the least of these in our home city.  But it wasn't a special service like we had a guest speaker, or special praise and worship, or a whole lot of testimonies.  We didn't take up a special offering to give to local charity groups.

We did all dress up, but not like you would for Easter Sunday.  Our church/movie theater was packed with prison jumpsuit-orange t-shirts, shorts, and jeans.

Because, once first service was over, we unleashed our congregation on Raleigh.  And we served.