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??

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

My psych eval (25 years later) part 4

Her OCD predisposes her to ruminate and obsess about anything.

I really had a hard time coping with the things that were happening in my life. At the time of the great isolation (the years my brothers and I were homeschooled due to Matt’s violent behavior at school), I reached to God for solace. I believe this faith and hope¬† prevented me from ending my life. I prayed that God would heal my brother and fix my family.

I was unusually devout as a teen. But then something horrible happened. After awhile every time I prayed, horrible images would pop into my mind. My prayers contained more obscenities than my brother Matt’s spew of Tourette’s. I felt horrible guilt over this and for awhile stopped praying altogether.

Then I became angry at God. Why did you do this to my brother? Why did you do this to my family? Why did you do this to my mother, the most devout person I knew?? How could you give us so much more than we could handle? Are you even there to hear my prayers? I was miserable and the flicker of hope grew very dim.

It took awhile to get through this rough patch. I decided to start praying again despite the unwanted thoughts and images that popped into my mind while doing so. Eventually it went away. Although I think I always had some degree of faith, I can’t say that I have a lot of trust in God or anyone. I realize that one of my biggest flaws is being distrustful.

I am probably a horrible example of what it means to be Christian. But maybe this happens to everyone sometimes? Kind of like the impulse to punch someone for no apparent reason? I thought I was the only one that felt this way. I thought I was crazy to have those thoughts. I tended to ruminate about it instead of just letting it go.

Now I think that it’s crazy if you act on the thoughts instead of just having them. A lot of times Matt acted on those thoughts. I was afraid that someday maybe I would be like Matt too and not be able to control those impulses. But so far that hasn’t happened in my life.

I think that God did hear my prayers for a healthy family. He just didn’t answer them until later in my life.

 

Paul’s journey, part 6

I am going to skip ahead a little today…to when I met Paul.

Paul had settled down considerably since his college years when I met him.

We lived in the same apartment building. My bedroom was right above his. We met in the laundry room. I remember the day well. My cat puked up a hairball on my blanket. I was irritated that I had to make a special unplanned trip to the laundry room. But if it wasn’t for my cat, we wouldn’t have struck up a conversation.

Later that night, Paul invited me out to drinks with some friends. That really didn’t go well either. His friends were fine, except for one girl who dominated the conversation with Paul. She spoke and sputtered loudly looking only at Paul and frequently put her hand on his knee. I didn’t like her.

He kissed me that night out in the parking lot.

From that night on, I was hooked. He told me his story about growing up with a single parent in the inner city of Chicago…that was all it took. Paul played hard to get and I chased him relentlessly. There was a point when I thought that perhaps he wasn’t interested and decided to walk away. That was all I needed to hook him.

It was time for Paul to meet my parents. I instructed him on what to say and what not to say. My mother asked point blank if he believed in God. Paul said that he did not believe in God. In fact, he said that he believed in evolution. He went on and on about Darwin and natural selection as I kicked him under the table.

The following week, my mother set me up with my ex-boyfriend Brad. She came to my apartment under the guise of going out to eat. When we got to the restaurant, Brad was sitting there waiting for us. Brad cried the whole time telling me how much he missed me. I took him back to my apartment after lunch and gave him back everything that I still had of his. It took a long time for Paul to forgive my mother for this.

I believe that my mother started praying harder after the dinner date with Brad. At the time, Paul was in graduate school and was approached by the campus ministry with a Bible. Also, a friend of his who became a missionary came back into his life. Eventually, God wore Paul down. God knew I wouldn’t be interested in chasing a nice church going guy. I wanted a bad boy.

After I was already hooked, God changed the direction of Paul’s life.

Confirmed, part 3

Even though my son’s confirmation went great, there was still something missing. To start out at the very beginning of my time, I was raised as a Lutheran. After many years of seeking and trying many different denominations, I came back full circle to being a Lutheran. Will I always be a Lutheran? Who knows. I am very open to other possibilities. Let’s put it this way, I agree and disagree with just about every denomination out there.

Our previous church to the Lutheran one was rather far away. As the kids were getting older, it became more difficult to be there multiple times a week. Our oldest was getting to the age where she wanted to join youth group on Sunday night which meant almost 2 hours of driving on Sunday. After a series of snowstorms every Sunday for a month and a half, we ended up going to the Lutheran church down the road. We liked it so much that we decided to stay. This involved getting our non infants baptized. At the time we chose family to be the sponsors of our daughters and a friend to be the sponsor of our son. That friend is no longer involved in our life.

My husband has always been a Fred Flintstone kind of guy. He is outgoing and makes friends with quieter types of guys. He typically finds Barney’s that are single and lonely or guys that have gone through hard breakups. He befriends them and gets them obsessed with fishing or as of recently sailing. My son’s godfather Gary was one of those guys. Then Gary found a woman. He brought her over one night for supper and conversation. I feel really bad about the next part, while they were over I fell asleep. Honestly, she was that boring. No sense of humor, nothing. I tolerate stupidity better than boring, or lazy, for that matter. If your life lacks luster, make it shine! I do feel bad though. This woman was perfect for Gary though. They decided to marry and my husband was the best man.

After the wedding, we got together a few times. Gary and Paul still went fishing together. Then Gary’s wife had a miscarriage one day while they were out fishing. I really think that she was upset that her husband wasn’t home. A few months later, she got pregnant again. She did not invite me to her baby shower although she invited other mutual friends. It was all over facebook. Okay, whatever. That December, Gary called us to tell us that he was a father. We wanted to see the baby, but were too busy at the time. My mom was recovering from surgery due to cancer. It was a very scary time. I took off of work to help her out. To make matters harder, our family was involved in a community theater production the first two weekends in December. Then came Christmas, so we never made it out to see the baby. It wasn’t long after that that Gary’s wife unfriended me on facebook. Gary dropped out of our life too. But about once a year, Gary stops by our house out of the blue by himself to visit.

Friends come and go, I don’t harbor any resentment. Although, it is time for Gary’s yearly visit.

Confirmed, part 2

The cake is gone, the festive dishes have been washed and put back in dark cupboard corners. My son’s confirmation went better than expected. He even said during the party that he was getting bored of gaming. He played board games with family and friends. Hallelujah!

I have to share with you the story of my confirmation because it is such a crazy story it seems made up. I got confirmed during a presidential campaign year. I attended a small rural church. The church was large but the congregation was small, probably around 40 regular attendees per week. We shared our pastor with our sister congregation 20 minutes away. After 2 years of sitting through Saturday morning confirmation classes listening to my pastor’s monotone speaking, I got confirmed. I memorized all the creeds and required Bible verses. The night before the big day, the eight of us confirmands had to answer about 300 memorized theological questions in front of our family and friends. By golly, somehow we pulled it off. 

I was the only person getting confirmed in my church, the rest were getting confirmed in the sister church. We found out that a senator running for president was stopping at my church on the campaign route. He was stopping on confirmation Sunday. Finally, it was time for the big day! The parking lot was beyond full. I was escorted to the front row of our church. My mom hired a violinist that was a recent immigrant from Poland. The secret service patted him down and inspected his violin case thoroughly. The church was packed, there wasn’t a single open seat. The offering from that one service probably tided the church over for the next 10 years. 

I remember being terrified while reciting my confirmation verse and giving my explanation of the verse. My voice squeaked like a frightened church mouse. Afterwards, we hosted a huge meal for the senator and he spoke. I had my picture with the senator in all of the local papers. Big things don’t usually happen in small towns. 

Confirmed, part 1 

I am sitting inside watching the rain fall like little tears from heaven. I sit and think. Thinking again. I am waiting. Waiting for the rain to stop. Waiting for a large Saturday morning cup of coffee out in my hot tub. It is my tradition. 

When I think of church, I think of traditions. Rituals always done the same way. But what if it rains? What if things change? I have been to many different denominations. Even non traditional churches have their routines. The same similar structures every week. The way it starts, the way things end. The time it ends always the same. Ritualistic, though intending not to be. 

Tomorrow my son is being confirmed in the church we have chosen. It almost didn’t happen. Remember a couple of weeks back when I still wished my grandpa was here with us? He still is here. I see him reflected every day in my son. My son didn’t want to just go along with the rest of the group. He has so many questions, more than answers. Like his great grandpa, he is so full of piss and vinegar to be agreeable to conform. He felt too imperfect to be a Christian. He is honest and I respect that. 

We ended up having a long conversation with our pastor. It came down to my son having to make a decision. Are you with us or not? My husband talked to my son about leaving the door open for God. Faith is not a perfect all or nothing compartment that my son wanted to put it in. He struggles, don’t we all? He questions, shouldn’t we all? 

He decided to get confirmed. He is leaving the God door open. He made a drawing of Jesus carrying a cross through an open door. He also picked the verse of Revelation 3:20. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. 

Whether we choose to believe or not, shouldn’t we always be seeking to answer the questions we have in life. To not be stagnant. To not just go with the flow. Life is meaningless without having meaning in it. 

The rain clouds parted, time for my Saturday morning ritual. Then I will put on my Martha apron, cooking and cleaning for the party tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow I will be Mary. Always a work in progress….