Questionable truth

My first memory was of my dad standing over my autistic brother and hitting him while he flailed back on the floor. They were in the kitchen and on that day I remember my brother screaming and the cupboard doors rattling. He must’ve been 3 because I was around 4. My mom stood in the doorway a few rooms away holding back my brother Mark while I stood by her and watched.

That’s how my life started out. Many well meaning people who would rather not get involved told me things such as God is in control and God will never give you more than you can handle. No one prayed more fervently than me. God if you are in control, please make it stop. But my dad never became the loving father I wanted him to be. My brother never became normal. Did I do something wrong? Did I pray wrong? I couldn’t understand why things didn’t change when I so badly wanted them to. I tried my best to be perfect but still nothing changed.

There were many times I felt like I couldn’t take anymore. I wondered what would happen when I finally broke. But that didn’t happen either. I became angry at God. If he wasn’t going to control things, I sure was going to try to. I became pretty good at controlling myself, others not so much.

For a long time I carried the burden of over responsibility. I can clearly remember when that started. I was 6 when I watched my younger brothers swim in the lake by myself. That was the day my baby brother almost drowned. I always thought that it was my fault until many years later when I realized how young I was. Maybe it even started before then, but I can’t remember. I always felt like I was responsible for things I didn’t have control over.

It became my job to try to fix things. I became a pretty good problem solver and counselor, but that should never be the responsibility of a child. In essence, I took the place of my dad because he only reacted with anger over issues and never stepped up. Still I prayed every night that things would change, but they never did.

If God wasn’t going to change things I was going to try to. But that didn’t really work so well for me either.

Then I thought maybe I’m looking at this all wrong. It’s time to throw away the childish coping mechanisms that I clung to. It’s not very realistic to think God is going to force my dad to become the father I’ve always wanted him to be. He had that choice and he threw it away.

The last post I talked about how strongly I felt about the freedom of choice. But maybe I don’t really want that. Maybe I just want God to sweep down and take control of my dad so he loves me.

Just because I want something to be good or perfect doesn’t mean it’s going to be that way. My idea of God being in control and taking all my problems away when I can’t handle them anymore is incorrect.

Lately I was looking at my new 2022 pocket calendar. Inside there were little fun things to write about. One was to write down your favorite memory you had with your dad. I was stumped. I thought and thought for a long time. Nothing.

But for the first time, I didn’t blame it on God. I blamed it on my dad. I shouldn’t feel guilty for not wanting to continue having a relationship with someone who hurt me. I shouldn’t feel sorry for him either. But I struggle with the thought that I am causing pain and that somehow this is my fault.

I am still confused about my relationship with God. What’s the purpose of prayer if God doesn’t answer them? My husband says that prayer is supposed to make us feel better about the situations we are in versus changing the situation. That is hard for me to understand because for me feeling better means things will change. Apparently I still have a lot to learn.

Maybe I am healing and growing if I am questioning things I always thought were truth.

Living in fear

My mom called today. Her counselor told her that she backslid since she went back home. She hasn’t been staying with us since before Arabella’s grad party a couple weeks back. Paul and I were gone on our sailing trip then Arabella got COVID otherwise she would’ve been here. To be honest, I think it’s better for me when she is not here. She still doesn’t feel comfortable coming over because of COVID although I’m pretty sure she would be fine at this point. Then Paul and I have another sailing trip planned for next week so I told her maybe after Labor Day. She was distraught that we would be gone. She said she couldn’t handle being around my dad and she was too afraid to be alone up north. She was going to call her siblings to see if she could stay there.

COVID, Arabella got the shot and tested positive. She was really sick but responded well to the antibody infusion. My daughter Angel got sick too. She didn’t get the shot but had COVID a couple months back. She tested negative and a few days later lost her sense of taste and smell. So she quarantined along with her sister because she thought it could be a false negative. So it’s likely that Paul and I were exposed before and after we came back from our trip although we limited contact when we got home after we found out.

A couple days after we got home, we went in to be tested. Paul had no symptoms and was vaccinated. He tested negative. Two days after I got home I had a low grade temp, body aches, and this general feeling of malaise. I did not get the shot. I tested negative. I have no way of knowing this but all I can say is that I think my body was fighting it off. I started feeling better in 3 days. But was it a false negative? I decided to stay home and quarantine too just to be on the safe side.

But in all of this, I noticed something I haven’t noticed as much before until now. Fear. Sure, everyone was afraid when the virus first came out. We pretty much all did what we could. We did the lockdown. We rarely ventured out and if we did we had our masks on. We got tested if we felt sick and even if we didn’t. I’ve had 3 negative tests now.

Then the vaccine came out. Some people wanted to be first in line. Some people wanted nothing to do with it. I think this is where a lot of the trouble started. People started choosing sides. Right now the last I heard our state has a 50% vaccination rate. We are right down the middle and I feel it right down to our own house. People are hating and name calling. Now some medical facilities are forcing employees to get vaccinated. This has really caused people to be up in arms and protests. The fighting around here is more vicious than it was during the election. I don’t know how that is even possible.

What ever happened to my body, my choice? Oh wait, my bad, that is the slogan for another social issue. But seriously, if you want to get the shot get it. If you don’t, don’t. There is never going to be 100% compliance especially if it becomes forced. When there are elections 100% of the votes don’t go to one candidate. If you want to get the shot and trust the science, then trust your science. If you want to trust drinking bleach to protect you it’s pretty stupid but that’s your choice as well.

But as for me, I am afraid. I am afraid to get the shot because once I do it I can’t change my mind. I’m not saying that I will never get it but I want to see the research first. I want to make an informed choice backed by data. That’s my choice. I am not a trusting person. If I feel forced before I am ready I probably won’t.

I spent most of my life afraid. I grew up in an environment where we didn’t trust. My dad was a Vietnam vet. Ever since I was little I thought I had poison running through my veins called Agent Orange. I felt lucky because Matt had a lot more than I did and ended up the way he did. My mom was terrified of chemicals. We weren’t allowed to wear mosquito spray because it was poison. I remember staying at my cousin’s for a week one summer when I was about 12. Her mom sprayed us with mosquito spray even though I protested. I remember where we were. It was dusk and we were at a ball field by a playground. I thought I was going to die.

When the farmer’s sprayed chemicals we had an hour to evacuate the area in sheer panic. We had to pay attention to signs that the area was decontaminated such as several days would pass or there was a rainfall. We didn’t park the cars in the garage. Fresh newspapers weren’t allowed in the house because they smelled of chemicals. We did not spray our lawn or kill weeds with chemicals. That was poison that once we got in our system we would have a hard time getting out. I’ve never used weed killer. I wouldn’t even know how. I’ve realized over time that my mom was paranoid about these things. Other people don’t seem to be quite so concerned about it so that tells me that maybe all chemicals are not the devil. We lived in an extreme chemical free environment for Matt.

Then when my oldest daughter was born the study came out that linked autism with the MMR shot. My mom threw all the other theories away and jumped on that bandwagon. She didn’t want my kids to get vaccinated. I did get all my kids vaccinated but at my own pace. I especially waited on the MMR shot. Because what if it was true?

So as far as the COVID shot goes, I’m just not ready yet. Neither are my brothers or their families. No doubt COVID is a real threat. But I just don’t trust the shot yet. My mom, however, was the first in line to get the shot for herself and Matt. It’s as if she threw away everything she taught us and left us wondering if any of it was true. It’s hard to break myself from the fear that if I get the shot I will die. I’d rather take my chances.

But regardless of whether we are vaccinated or not, we all live in fear and that is not a good place to stay. I give it zero stars.

Thinking about personality

One of the first things the residential facility wanted us to do as parents was to take a free 16 personalities personality test. I got the same results as I always do. There was also an extra personality subtype designated as an A or a T. The A is for Assertive. These are the kind of people that know what they want. The other type was T for Turbulent. These people tend to be a lot more indecisive. I don’t know about you, but I think being labeled turbulent has a rather negative connotation. But anyway, since I am not a T what do I care?

It was no surprise to me that I am an ISTJ-A. Yes, a confident introvert. My husband was under the misconception that all introverts lack confidence because they don’t speak up. Then he bought a book about introverts and learned what all introverts already know which is that a lot of introverts are not introverts because they lack confidence. For the most part I don’t really care what people think so why would I waste my time talking.

What did surprise me is that I am now more introverted and less of a thinker since last time I took the test. I used to be a strong TJ and now I am strongly IJ which is a little scary. Why am I less of a thinker and more introverted? Has the pandemic changed me? Do I seek out thinking less because I don’t know what to think or believe anymore since free thinking appears to be frowned upon in our society as of late? With the pandemic I am spending gobs more time alone and guess what? I kind of like it.

One thing is consistent for sure. I am still a strong J. My life is comprised of rules, structure, order, tasks, and routine. I’ll have you know that when I say rules, I mean MY rules. I hate being told what to do. But I am super anal with my rules. For example, it really bugs me when people leave lights on in rooms they are not in. My husband will shoot holes in my beliefs because he asks me how much electricity do I think it takes to run my hot tub. If I really cared, I would care about that more than if he left a light on or not. But like always, I totally dismiss his criticism because it does not align with my anal set of rules.

But let’s talk about my husband. He is an ENTJ-A a.k.a. the confident commander. He is all structure, tasks, leadership, and efficiency. Yikes! Between the two of us, we are probably the least sensitive parents out there. We are all honesty and truth. Sometimes the truth hurts. But neither one of us gets hurt easily. Instead we get angry and upset with each other if we are not on the same page. Thankfully most of the time we are.

One other thing that is strongly engrained in my personality type is avoiding of all conflict. This causes pain for me because my honesty and truth creates incongruency within me with my strong desire to avoid conflict. Sometimes in order to avoid conflict I am not honest with other people. I feel this way a lot with my mom. I want to be honest with her about some things but she is very sensitive and I know it will hurt her and cause conflict between us. I could be as peace loving as a hippie but even they would kick me out of their group because I am much too anxious and anal which apparently is not as fun as I thought it was.

My daughter Arabella took the personality test in residential and it was no surprise to me that she is an ENFP-T. What does this mean?? It means that her personality is the exact opposite of mine. To go even further, her personality mirrors mine in the percentages of each trait. She is as extroverted as I am introverted. I am an extreme J (96%), and she is an extreme P (98%). She is a social butterfly, spontaneous, carefree, fun loving, hates rules and structure, and is ready to go anywhere the wind blows her. I mean, how is that even fair? I need to parent a child that does not respond well to my personality style. It’s not much better with Paul.

We are all order, tasks, and structure. In her mind things start when she gets there. There is no having to be up at a certain time in her world. We are not very sensitive to her whims of emotion. If you have to be there at a certain time, you have to be there. I share a lot of personality traits with my oldest two children, but Arabella is alien to me. I am hoping that this knowledge will help us somehow bridge the chasm between us. How do you parent a free spirit when we as parents are all tasks and structure even the military would be envious of? I am hoping to find out.

I wish I knew a lot of these things sooner. Both Paul and I lacked healthy parenting role models. We did the best with what we were working with and from where we came from. Since I am all rules and structure, I have learned that not a lot of people are as anal as I am or are anal in the same ways. I have this mindfulness. Even though I think I have the right way, I can understand that other people do not follow this right way. What a shame, really. LOL!!

As a rule, I tend to put people in boxes. My best friend is spontaneous and carefree which is a great balance. However, sometimes I get irritated with her because while I spend a lot of time planning events she is very last minute and changes everything. Instead of getting annoyed, I put her in the spontaneous box. If this is a pattern of behavior for her it makes it easier for me to understand and deal with it if I understand that.

I also put my mom in an anxious/irrational box. When she acts in ways that are counterintuitive to reason I can understand without getting worked up. For instance, I had a really hard time with her not wanting to leave my dad after he broke the law. Instead he became the love of her life. This is not rational or sane. Instead of letting it drive me absolutely crazy, I put her in the irrational box. It helped me to deal with her better within the constraints of my personality. It became her rule and routine.

Well, I am done thinking for today.

Who are you?

Arabella changed into a whole different person a year ago. It seemed like the difference between night and day to us. Or maybe that is when we noticed because she became so different from us.

It’s not terribly strange to have a teenager rebel or espouse things independent of their parents. In a way, I almost think it is necessary in developing who they are. In order to find themselves they have to lose mom and dad a little. But this seemed different.

Before the change Arabella was pretty easy going. She went with the flow. There was little conflict and she rarely challenged us. Kind of like the month of March, she came into the world like a lion so I was hoping she would leave childhood as a lamb. Not so, my friends.

Before she was the teen involved in church. She liked volunteering at Bible camp, helping with the kids program, and singing in church. Then practically overnight she became an atheist and slept in on Sunday mornings. At times I was afraid to go to church because I was afraid if I wasn’t there she might make an attempt again. She scoffed at our religious beliefs. We no longer shared the same views on politics either. It didn’t seem as if she was finding her own way as much as it seemed like she was rejecting us.

She didn’t want anything to do with Estelle and cut herself off from all of the kids she once considered friends at her new school. She started hanging out with her friends from her old school. Instead of being a foreign exchange student with Estelle, she wanted to finish high school at her old school which was only 30 minutes away. We said we were okay with that because she seemed so miserable at the new school.

She started hanging out with her old best friend who became transgender around that time. Actually all of the kids in that group were either gay or transgender. They all seemed to have issues with their identity and also suffered from depression. I really had a hard time understanding what they were going through. In my day, I don’t remember a single kid that came out as gay and changing your gender was something most likely featured in sci-fi movies. I went to a small town school where there was very little diversity.

I knew about her friend’s being gay or transgender before their parents even did in most cases. I called them by their chosen names and pronouns. I’m not going to say it was easy. I still can’t get it out of my mind that calling someone them or they isn’t rude. It was difficult to call someone I knew as a baby a different name and pronoun. But I imagine it was a lot more difficult for them and their parents. I couldn’t help but wonder if my daughter was hiding something from me like her friends were from their parents.

questions

It’s amazing how gullible we were as children believing the things we were told.

How could anyone believe that some fat guy in a red suit could get skinny and simultaneously go down everyone’s chimney with a bag full of presents that end up under a tree the next morning perfectly wrapped? Or that a fairy is going to sneak into your room at night to take your teeth once they fall out? Or that a bunny is going to leave a hidden basket of chocolates? But we do all believe it if that’s what we were told.

Then what about the other things we were told?

I was told that God loves me. If I prayed hard enough, he was going to send us the right doctor that would heal my violent autistic brother. Mile after mile, state after state, we trudged hoping we would find the right doctor.

I was also told my brother was violent because of the foods he ate. Or it was the east wind that blew auto fumes in through the windows of our house. Or it was the lady that was wearing too much perfume. The music was too loud. Just fill in the blank…

I was also told I was stupid, not good at anything, and that I needed to be perfect to be loved.

Why wouldn’t I believe what I was told as a child?

I’ve been cleaning out my closet and found that almost everything I’ve been told and believed as a child was not true. There is no Santa Claus. There is no tooth fairy. There is no Easter bunny.

I am not stupid. I am good at some things. I still fight the drive to be perfect. Thankfully, as an adult, I no longer believe the negative things I was told about myself as a child. It probably took a bit longer to realize that than a child who was told positive things.

But take it one step further, as an adult pursuing healing I am questioning everything I ever believed.

Do my parents love me? Is there a God out there that loves me? I want to think so, but God never healed my brother. I no longer believe God will heal him. But if I had real faith shouldn’t I believe it is possible?

I don’t believe reactions to the foods he ate or his environment caused him to be violent. He was just violent. There was no rhyme or reason. There wasn’t a way to control the unpredictable chaos in my house.

It took me longer to dismiss the beliefs of magical thinking and false hope. But isn’t false hope still hope? Didn’t even false hope help us cope?

Then is God real? Does he really love me? Our pastor spoke of God’s love being like that of a father taking his child in his arms and kissing him on the forehead. What is that like? Neither Paul or I knew. We’ve never been kissed by our fathers. Is that just more proof that a father’s love, God’s love, is meant for others, not me? Are some chosen and some not?

I still have the childhood belief that God loves me. But I’ve also built this big wall around myself that prevents his love from shining through. I can no longer accept this belief as truth, but I cannot dismiss it either as a lie. Some strange almost miraculous things happened in my life that I can only attribute to God. Yet sometimes I feel God answered my prayers with silence.

I no longer believe that parents always love their children just because they are parents. Yesterday while I was running an elderly man started to talk to me. I removed my earbuds and asked him what he said. He said I was pretty fast and pretty too. In just one sentence, a stranger said words nicer to me than my dad ever said. Sometimes the kindness of strangers hurts. Over the past 45 years, I’ve accomplished some amazing things. How hard would it be to say you are proud of me? Does a stranger have to take your place? Why would I think you care?

I want my world to be neat tidy black and white. I feel safer there. I want to be all in or all out. I seek the truth and find myself with more questions than answers.

I hate the grey areas. It causes me so much inner turmoil. I want to pick and choose what I believe. But I want that decision to be made realistically. I want to toss out the things that aren’t true. I want to fully embrace truth, not just what I want to believe is true. I hate this feeling of being in limbo. Not knowing. Not being able to distinguish truth from non-truth.

Can I even trust my own thoughts? Is truth absolute? Or can truth be different for other people, yet truth? Can some of it be truth and non-truth at the same time? Does God show me love by the blessings and good in my life? Conversely, is the opposite true too? Is God punishing me for the bad that has happened? Or does God take bad things and make them good? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why isn’t life always fair?

Aaaarrggghhh!! Here’s to overthinking!

 

 

 

 

 

Goal 2: Spiritual growth

As I mentioned recently, a few months ago we left our church and started attending a new church. I noticed my ruby ring was stolen the morning I left to go to church right before Christmas. The following Sunday we sang a song stating that God was the God of miracles. I thought in my head, yeah I believe in God, but I don’t believe in miracles anymore. I was seeing more tragedy around me than restoration. Even in my own life recently, a precious gift from my mother was stolen.

We didn’t know who took the ring, we just knew that it was missing. We allowed my son’s friend back into our lives after I got a lock box for the remaining precious gems. We didn’t think it was the friend that took the ring. We honestly thought it was another boy whose mother told me that her son stole from her. This second boy was in our house over the time that the ring went missing along with the first.

We took the first boy back into our house. We told him that we trusted him. But through our misguided trust, I started treating him like he belonged here again. I cooked for him and did his laundry. It was through this act of trust that I discovered my stolen ring in his pocket when I was doing his laundry. A miracle occurred. I never thought I would get my ring back and I never thought I would catch the person who did it.

After talking to my son about the betrayal of his friend, I sent a message to the other boy’s mother telling her that the ring had been found. I couldn’t imagine the agony of thinking that my child victimized another parent, a friend.

A miracle happened, but I no longer believed in miracles. I didn’t trust God. Instead I put my trust in someone that intended to hurt me. How bizarre is that!?

I was betrayed by someone I considered to be a best friend many years ago too. But hey, so was Jesus. Right? I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. If I didn’t trust the boy, I never would’ve gotten my ring back. I learned a lot in the process.

I am a pretty good person. I live with few regrets. I’ve been hurt more than I have hurt others. I’ve even read the Bible from cover to cover, but I’ve never truly trusted God before. I wanted to do things my way. I wanted to be in control.

Then yesterday a big miracle occurred. A most precious gem was stolen, a child by the name of Jayme Closs. She is a 13 year old girl in our state of Wisconsin that was kidnapped after her parents were brutally murdered. She was missing for almost 3 months without a trace. Just gone. Yesterday she was found. ALIVE!! What a miracle!

I no longer believed in miracles, but I do now.

Now I have to wonder…What more can God do??

img_0018

Aren’t miracles precious and beautiful? Are you looking for a miracle in your life??

Moral dilemma 3

We recently found out that our youth director at church moved in with her boyfriend. She divorced her husband a couple of months back and shortly thereafter moved in with her new boyfriend.

This has been tearing the church apart.

There are those that say it doesn’t matter what she does outside of her job. If she leaves, then this group will leave with her. There are others that say they don’t want the moral leader of their children showing them that it is okay to leave your husband and take on with another man. If she doesn’t resign from her position, another group will leave.

I am not judgmental or a prude, but I personally believe that the person who is getting paid with my tithe money should ascribe to the moral teachings of the church.

I personally do not care what two consenting adults decide to do in the bedroom, I don’t. I could care less about the living arrangements of my child’s math teacher. But they better be good at teaching math.

I wouldn’t expect a drug and alcohol counselor to be out getting drunk in the possible presence of clients. There are certain things that are expected when you take on certain job positions.

So the battle begins…the ripping and tearing starts.

I feel so torn. I really like our youth director. She is great with the kids. I even like the guy she is living with more than her husband. But that is beside the point. I can’t make decisions based on feelings.

To make matters worse, our choir director and organist recently resigned from their positions due to an unrelated matter. I have become close to the organist. She has been teaching my son how to play piano the last couple years. My son has always been a difficult teen to raise and she has been a very positive impact in his life. It pains me deeply to see her go.

Maybe it is time to find a new church home. It has gotten to the point where I don’t even want to go to church anymore. I feel so much sorrow over this.

If my children decide they want to be in a relationship, I want them to marry one person and stay married. I don’t want them to be like our youth director…several broken marriages with children from each marriage growing up in broken homes acting like everything is rosy living with a new guy.

Would I still love and accept my children even if they don’t live the life I want for them?? Absolutely, without a doubt!! I made the decision to raise my children Christian. It is not easy and I want a church that will back me up on this. Is that too much to ask?

I am not even opposed to people cohabiting, or am I? Last weekend Angel’s best friend from out of town came home with her live in boyfriend. They wanted to stay at our house for the night. I really struggled with what to do. My daughter Angel is an adult and today my son is an adult. I have a really hard time seeing my adult children and their friends as adults. To complicate things, Angel’s friend also belongs to our church. I told Angel that her friends were welcome to stay but I would be setting up separate sleeping arrangements for them.

Would I respond differently if the adults living together were my age? Would I respond differently if I didn’t still have a child in my house watching every decision I make and using that as a moral compass?

Honestly, I really don’t care what other people decide to do. It is no concern of mine. But if that person is tasked with the paid position of teaching my children Christian morals, I feel really uncomfortable with that person not practicing what they preach.

Is nothing sacred anymore, even within the church??

Thailand, parting thoughts

This is going to be my last post about Thailand…parting thoughts…general observations and comparisons..

Really, though, comparing the culture in Thailand to that of the US is like comparing apples to oranges. We are all fruity in different ways. Seriously though…there are so many ways that I wish we were more like Thailand, and other ways I am glad we are not..

I had a hard time with the young Thai girls with braces in the clubs. Technically, there is no pimp in prostitution there. If a customer would like to borrow a girl for awhile, he needs to pay the club owner a ‘fee’ to take an employee from their work shift. It bothered me to see young girls in this position.

In America I think most prostitutes would fall into the category of drug addict or runaway. In their culture, they view it as a girl (or lady boy) providing a service. A lot of these young folks take the money they make and send it home to support their families. I could never accept money from my children that was made in that way, but I also was never in a position that I had to.

Our tour guide gives some of his paycheck to his elderly father. The father spends a lot of the money on the lottery. Again, that would not fly in America.

The Thai people also think that putting a parent in a nursing home is a big no-no. The Thai people are very family oriented. Divorce is not common. There seems to be a cohesion of the family unit that is quite lacking in America.

The people dressed and acted very similarly to one another. The school children wore uniforms. The men and women dressed very plainly and modestly by our standards. Most wore monochromatic light colored clothes, not bright clothing with wording. They didn’t have dyed or crazy hairstyles. The women didn’t have tattoos nor shaved hair. They didn’t have gauges or seem big on piercings. Even the prostitutes looked very similar to each other. In America, we take individuality to the extreme.

The culture is very peaceful and relaxed. The people are not at all rude, hurried, or unfriendly. I suppose it is a little easier to deal with life if you strongly believe in karma or that someone you don’t like will come back in the next life as an insect. I personally think that Christians could learn a lot from the Buddhists in how to get along with each other. Here we squabble and fight over ever little issue. How are we going to handle an eternity in heaven together?

The people of Thailand did not generally beg for money. They took pride in bargaining and selling their wares at the market.

In Thailand, if people talk negatively about the king, they could face incarceration. I love the freedom of speech. But, geez, don’t Americans take it too far sometimes?? All we hear is fighting about religion, politics, and practically everything really. There is no respect anymore for someone that has a different opinion and yet we tout ourselves as being tolerant. We try to teach our children to respect authority, yet we dis people left and right. Enough already.

I think all schoolchildren should see what life it like in another country. Heck, maybe everyone should travel. Not only did I get the opportunity to see another culture, but I got the chance to see my own beliefs and culture differently. It enriched my thinking. I learned something about someone else and myself in the process.

Some of the things I thought were important really don’t seem all that important anymore. I don’t even care if the toilet paper faces up or down anymore. I am now happy to have toilet paper. I have a new appreciation of western bathrooms, even the crappiest ones.

img_0295

The restrooms in Thailand were quite different from ours. The hotel rooms had a regular toilet with what looked like a kitchen hose sprayer next to it. How were we even supposed to use it? We were a day into the tour when I experienced the first bathroom without toilet paper. I started carrying some around with me after that.

This was a public bathroom that we stopped at. I really didn’t even know what I was supposed to do. Plus there wasn’t any soap to wash your hands with. The public school bathroom was very similar. The western bathrooms there were tiny in comparison to ours. We had to pay at times to use the restroom. One of the perks of paying for the bathroom at the floating market was free internet. Seriously? The bathroom wasn’t wonderful enough that I wanted to hang around for the internet.

What a fascinating place and culture. I’m sad that our journey has come to an end. But I have a lot of pictures, all 750 of them, to remind me of our travels.

25. Dinner with anyone in history…

Day 25: If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be & what would you eat?

If I could dine with anyone in history, it would be Jesus. We wouldn’t have real food, just food for thought. I would be like a child and ask many questions… Why??

I would start at the beginning with the age old question that I asked my Sunday school teachers as a kid. If God created the world, then who created God?? Just have faith is not a good enough answer. You really don’t know either.

How did it all begin? I do believe in the creation story. No other theory makes any more sense to me. How could people evolve over millions of years accidentally from cells? Seriously, how? If that happened by accident, how come people can’t replicate that today with all of the advances in modern science? How could all of the different races and varieties of animals and trees evolve? If that is the case, why isn’t evolution still happening today?

How old is the world anyway?  If not evolution, then how did all the different cultures and races start from Adam and Eve? Is the Garden of Eden an actual place? Or are we just blocked from the knowledge that they had before they sinned? Help me understand the continuum of time. I can barely grasp tomorrow’s time change.

Does everything happen for a reason? Or just certain things? Or do we live in a world of sheer coincidence? Did Judas have a choice when he betrayed You? Or was he given no choice because it was meant to happen? Or did you just know what he was going to choose before he chose it? How much control do you allow us to have over our lives? Can our prayers change our circumstances or the circumstances of others in any way?

Is all life sacred? I believe so…but if given the option to go back in time, would I try to convince Hitler’s mother to have an abortion? Why did you allow the Holocaust to happen to your chosen people anyway? If all life is sacred, then how about the life of the prisoner on death row?? Should we kill others who have murdered? I believe in justice, but should we be the ones to administer it?

How could David be a man after your own heart? He was a man who had it all…good looks, riches, and hundreds of beautiful women to sleep with whenever he wanted to. Yet he had to kill off a man to take his wife and broke almost every commandment that you gave us. Why him? Why not the Pharisee who tried to be pious?

Why is the Old Testament focused so much on rules and rituals and the New Testament on love and grace? It seems so extremely black and white to me. I don’t understand. What happened to your miracles? Why do bad things happen to good people? What happens to the souls of the people who never had the opportunity to believe?

Why? Why? Why? I just want to understand.

 

Amish windows

8-2-16 001This week we got our new windows. You probably are wondering why I would even talk about something so boring as home improvements. The exciting story here is not in the what, it is in the who. We had the Amish come out to work on the project.

Let’s just clear up the boring part first. My husband and I bought a house built in the 1990’s when everyone was on the air tight energy saving kick. Having an air tight house has been great when it comes to heating bills. We barely pay anything to heat our house during the cold Wisconsin winters. However, we have had moisture issues since the day we bought it.

The moisture can’t escape. Anytime we had temps below freezing, condensation would form on our windows. Sometimes it rained inside our house with water dripping down our windows pooling into the wooden sills. Our house is like a rain forest. We  bought an air exchanger to draw the humidity out of our air tight house. But by then the damage was done to our windows. They needed replacing but we couldn’t afford to do it in our earlier years.

The picture above is the window from our bedroom. We have been breathing in black mold for years now. We tried bleach, we tried everything, but we couldn’t fix the damage done without replacing them.

We were referred to an Amish man to do the work of replacing our windows. The first step was to have him come out here to look at our windows and take measurements. He needed someone to drive him. The first obstacle was giving him directions to our house. Get out your iPhone and type in our address. That obviously wasn’t going to work. He did get lost coming out once because he had difficulty explaining the directions to different drivers. It is probably like trying to read a map in a different language.

After he took the measurements, he made the windows himself. I thought that was pretty impressive. Most people around here know that anything Amish made is high quality.

Then he came over this week with three other men. They arrived in a large diesel truck driven by a heavy set man in overalls. He looked like a rancher from Texas, not that I have ever seen one anywhere besides TV. Then he drove off.

It took the men a day and a half to complete the job.  At first the men seemed pretty ackward around me. In their culture I don’t believe that they are comfortable talking to a married woman without her husband around. I felt naked around them in shorts and a t-shirt. No matter what I wore, I don’t think that I could ever be as modest as an Amish woman. I didn’t want to offend them.

I heard the men talk a lot in German. I didn’t understand a word even though they were speaking the language of my ancestors. When they were working outside, one of the men asked another what the buzzing sound was coming from a machine. The other man replied, “I think that is what you call an air conditioner.” They were very respectful and friendly, yet we all eyed each other in puzzlement by the differences in culture.

The second day, the four men came back to finish the job. This time they brought along two little boys around the ages of 7 and 10. The boys didn’t seem to do any of the work besides carry a few light things. Instead they followed their dad around intensely watching him and learning the family trade. I wish that our culture had the same attitude regarding our youth instead of throwing them out into the world after high school with no job skills.

The Amish workers seemed interested by my children watching TV. They seemed fascinated to see us drive off in cars, especially the teenagers. I’m sure that they had just as many stories to tell about us as we told about them. There was nothing bad to say.

I am very happy with our new windows and the work the Amish men did.