Posted in A Day in the Life, Explaining the Strange Behavior, Religion

Top Hits of a Desk Jockey


myfortune

I must have saved this fortune months ago because I think Panda Express is disgusting, and only go through there when I have no other options.  I was moving a notepad, and this fell out of the back of it, reminding me of why I kept it.  I have another fortune taped to my phone, “Keep up the good work.  You will soon be rewarded.”  Never hurts to remind yourself of the endgame.  I like rewards.

I also like reminders, which reminds me (oops) that I never got around to putting up my usual mental triggers at this new office.  My old standbys and reasoning behind them follow:

James 3:17
New King James Version (NKJV)
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

That’s pretty clearly stated.  I keep that one up in front of my eyes to remind me that I always need to check myself.  I’m putting that one back up on the computer monitor frame again today because it is timely.  There is strength in wisdom, and there is strength in goodness, mercy, and in not being a hypocrite.  Lane.
Colossians 3:22-23
New King James Version (NKJV)
22 Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men

I used to put that one up, tongue in cheek, when I worked for a ministry that paid a pittance, but there is good wisdom there, too.  Whatever job I have, I need to work like I am doing it for the highest of purposes.  That’s the only way I have a feeling of fulfillment in routine, and it’s the only way to go to bed at night feeling good about myself.  I feel better about myself when I work hard.
Proverbs 6:6-9
New King James Version (NKJV)
The Folly of Indolence
6 Go to the ant, you sluggard!
Consider her ways and be wise,
7 Which, having no captain,
Overseer or ruler,
8 Provides her supplies in the summer,
And gathers her food in the harvest.
9 How long will you slumber, O sluggard?
When will you rise from your sleep

Again, a reminder that I shouldn’t just be working when someone is watching me.  I shouldn’t need to be babysat in order to produce.  I should take control of my own destiny, and my own work, and be an ant on the job.  I can be a butterfly everywhere else, but at work, I am an ant.  Or a bee.  But not a grasshopper.
Romans 8:38-39
New King James Version (NKJV)
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And this is the one I never truly understood until I had Thor.  It brings me peace and comfort.  I’ve banged on and on about how I really don’t know where I stand as far as religion goes, only that I’m sure I like Jesus, and I want to do my best to do things his way.  I’ve gone from nothing to zealot, to zen, and this verse has meant something to me in all stages.  The first time I read it was in a French science text.  Yeah.  I know.  But after I had translated it, it stuck with me–maybe it was the work involved in the translation?  It was mysterious and beautiful, and I repeated it to myself all the time.  It became a tattoo on my heart.  As a zealot, it made me feel secure and it was hope I tried to throw out to other people.  In my current, more meditative state of faith, I stand on it as a promise that if I’ve strayed off horribly, not even my own best efforts can destroy what’s been put into play.  I trust that if I’ve gone wrong, I’ll come back around because that’s how I love my son.  Nothing, not even his being unsure of me, can separate him from the love I have for him.  He’s just stuck.

He could do things to make me not like him much.  He could do things to disappoint me.  He can certainly go off course, forcing me to correct him, but discipline doesn’t mean I don’t love him.  He is just stuck with my love because I grew him, and I wanted him, and he is mine, and nothing can change that.  I would fight every angel in heaven and every demon in hell, and nothing could separate him from my love.  I put it in there.  He doesn’t have to acknowledge it for it to be so.

And that’s got nothing to do with work, but it does remind me that one of the reasons I work is so that Thor will have a comfortable life.  I don’t work to serve him on a silver platter, but so that he will have the benefit of the peace that comes with financial security, and so he can take steps up from that place to do better than his father and I have done.

So there’s me reminding me of what I am doing behind a desk.  But if anyone asks, you can just tell them they hired me because I’m pretty.

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Posted in Advice, Counting Blessings, Explaining the Strange Behavior, Friends of Mine, Howling Sea Lane, Inside Lane, Lancient History, Religion, Women

What I Would Tell a Daughter About Selfies


Since I’m getting emails and PMs about the girl side of things, I’ll address the girl side of things here.

So, I used to teach Sunday School for 6th Grade girls.  When I took on the responsibility, I thought I was going to be–I don’t know what I thought I was going to be teaching, but it was NOT sex.  I started reading through the lesson book, and halfway through BLAMMO sex/pregnancy/abortion.  Uh…

I worried about a few things:

  1. I would accidentally warp these children.
  2. I would say something that would make concerned parents take up pitchforks against me.
  3. That the church hadn’t thoroughly vetted my thoughts on sex/pregnancy/abortion before handing their 12 year old girls over to me.
  4. What if one of the girls had been bad-touched, or was already sexually active and I said something that made her feel like a monster?

I worried most about the pitchforks.

At the time, I was single, had never been married, had no children of my own, and  hadn’t been all the way around the block, so-to-speak.  I had been bad-touched and was sensitive to that, and I had ducked down some of the block’s back alleys.  I knew enough to be dangerous.

I knew enough to know that anything I said, could and would affect these girls for a long time, and I didn’t want to hurt any of them, and I didn’t want my words haunting them in regard to choices they might make in the future.  We all do stupid things sooner or later.  I wanted my words to be building blocks for them, not stumbling blocks.

So…I didn’t talk specifically about sex/pregnancy/abortion.  I talked about choices, redemption and the Proverbs 31 Woman.

Because here’s how I feel:  My job as an adult guiding children (or now, as a parent) is to help them learn to navigate rough waters by teaching them to reason, think, and adjust course.  My job isn’t to give them marching orders (as a parent, my job is definitely giving marching orders along with instruction on the how and why.)

So, first I wanted those girls to know that they had autonomy, and they got to choose their futures.  I wanted them to understand that good choices led to better futures, and good choices were things like eating well (I tried to touch on eating disorders because you never know), getting good exercise (because healthy bodies help promote healthy minds), doing your homework and reading for pleasure (because intelligent, educated women have a better chance to make good choices), working toward a goals in small increments (a good test, a good report card, honor roll, head of the class, etc.), and having a hobby or something fun to do, just for the love of it (because well-rounded women have their own interests.)  And, I told them to make good friends because good friends are the best things in life, and good friends will keep you out of trouble.  I have excellent friends, by the way.

Next, I wanted those girls to know that if they slipped up somewhere, it wasn’t the end of the world.  Get a bad grade?  Study harder/ask for help/do better next time.  Hurt someone’s feelings?  Apologize/learn from your mistake/don’t do it again.  Eat a whole cake by yourself?  Oof/see above.

And I told them that when they were focused on proper nutrition, their health, their studies, their hobbies, their goals, and their friendships, everything else would fall into place.  When they were well-rounded people, they would attract the right kinds of attention.  Predators are afraid of self-confident girls.  Losers don’t try to smack around Margaret Thatcher or Hillary Clinton.  No one crosses Wonder Woman–and no one ever tries to butt grab her, no matter how hot her pants are.

Then, I told them that wanting to have sex, or having sex didn’t make you a bad person.  (Pitchforks!)  I told them that purposefully hurting other people was what made a bad person.  I read them the definition of the Proverbs 31 Woman, and asked them, first, if she seemed pretty awesome.  She’s got her own house, runs a staff, dabbles in real estate, has a garden, has a fabulous wardrobe, people respect and like her… Sounds pretty good to me.  I asked them if that was a woman who seemed focused on her looks, her hair, her boyfriend, or her popularity, and I asked them to consider what it would take to have your own home/business/amazing closet.

We talked about the choices you need to make to be a spectacular, independent woman, and we talked about what might set you off course.  I told them that is why they should wait to have sex.  Because they had dreams, and plans, and goals, and wanted houses, and cars, and jobs, and careers, and having a baby before you were ready would mean putting all that on hold, or putting it aside all together.  And, I told them that an STI can really slow you down, or kill you, too.

I wanted them to understand I wasn’t trying to protect their chastity.  I was trying to teach them how to protect their ability to make choices.  Having sex too soon can rob you of your autonomy, and rob you of choices. (Then I quit teaching Sunday School because I was mentally exhausted.  I went and taught Adult Singles, thinking that because I was one, it would be easier.  Ha!)

That’s what I would tell my own daughter, repeatedly.  And when the hormones kicked in and she couldn’t hear me through the throbbing in her loins, there would be that little voice in the back of her head saying, “Guh!  I know Harry Styles is so hot!  But I don’t want to be just his back-up singer.  I want my own band!  And he can fall in love with me because I am so awesome and independent, not just because I’m fawning all over him.”

I know that because that’s what kept me off the tour buses I got invited onto.

I didn’t need AIDs or a baby.

So, when it came down to selfies, I would ask my daughter why she wanted to take them, and if they helped her further her goals/dreams/aspirations.  If they didn’t, I’d ask her what she thought they did do.  We’d talk about it, and if she didn’t come the right conclusions, I’d take away her access to cameras and stuff some cotton in my ears to muffle the wailing.  Because I’d still be the parent and you don’t let a kid drive on the wrong side of the street just because it seems like a good idea to them.

 

 

Posted in music, Religion

Jesus on Toast, and in Music Videos


I hope David Bowie never turns normal.  I would be very sad for him to stop being David Bowie.  That said, I’m going to complain about his latest music video (you can find a link to the video there), but probably not for the reasons you might think.

In Bowie’s latest video, a priestly Gary Oldman (words you never thought you’d see together, right?) walks us into a seedy bar, where several other priests and bishops/cardinals (they’re wearing red, but no hats, so how can I tell?) are debauching themselves with variously undressed women, including the lovely Marion Cotillard.  Bowie, dressed as a Jesus figure, and his band play from the stage.

Oldman, as anyone would, finds Cotillard’s form fetching and selects her to join him on the dancefloor–validating the theory that old, white guys can’t dance.  Cotillard experiences what a Charismatic might call a slaying of the spirit, then presents with stigmata that goes off like geysers from her palms, hosing down herself, Oldman, a saint/angel figure, and the dancefloor (rendering it useless.  Pity.)

His plans for the evening foiled by this fountain, Oldman shakes an angry fist at Bowie, yelling, “You did this!” 

All along, Bowie has been singing these lyrics, so he’s obviously got something serious to say, and he’s got a real bone to pick with how religious leaders treat their flocks.  I’m down with that.  I couldn’t agree more.  Even as a zealot, the worst of my anger and offense was always reserved for religious people who abused their power. 

But here’s the trouble:  When you use religious imagery to address serious issues with misuse and abuse of power, you’re attacking the wrong people.

Do you think any one of those pedophile priests gives a rat’s butt what you do with a crucifix?  Do you think the church leaders who are stealing money from the elderly or the mentally ill care how you interpret stigmata?  Do you think that the warmongering, hate-filled church is worried about David Bowie dressed as Jesus?  No.  Not a whit. 

Why?  Because they know that’s all bunk.

You know who it hurts?  The faithful masses who are already being hurt and whipped.  It’s a pile-on.

The Borgia Pope/Jim Bakker/Bill Carney wouldn’t care if you painted Jesus doing Mary–they’d probably hang it in the bedroom.  You know who cares about that, and who is hurt by that?  The lady who thinks Jesus lives in her toaster.  That little woman who is staring at her toast, thinking God has blessed her is the one who is hurt by that imagery.

And, it is mean, it is bullying, and it is a total missed point to abuse that woman.  Bless her heart.

Only the blind faithful, and the ignorant followers of hatemongers like that church whose name I refuse to give any attention are hurt, or stirred up by it.  Otherwise, it’s just a lazy grab for publicity–and worse, it gives the wrongdoers something to point at, so that people look away from what is happening to the altar boys to throw rocks at a rockstar.

When you’re out there licking a crucifix (that doesn’t happen in this video, surprisingly, since everything else did), you aren’t making a statement about abuse of power, you’re giving the abuser something solid to take away attention from what people only suspect he is doing.  “Your daughter came home crying from that mission trip?  Oh!  All these rock musicians are ruining our youth and confusing them with their sacrilege!  It’s the devil!  Look at this video.  We should protest.  And send your daughter back over to my office tomorrow night at 8pm.  I’ll get her involved in making it happen.  That will give her a purpose.”

We end up thanking the Problem for offering up a solution.

So here is my plea to legitimate artists everywhere:  Don’t focus on what Toaster Lady loves, because when you stomp on her Jesus Toast, her pastor is going to tell her that you are the problem.  Keep the focus on the ministers, and keep yanking on that curtain that hides what’s going on behind the baptismal.

And, David Bowie, stay weird.

Posted in Explaining the Strange Behavior, Family, Religion

My Soul Cries Out to Thee


I left work early today, and I was home before Mom brought Thor in from their excursions.  I was more than two hours earlier than I ever get to the house.  When I heard them coming in the front door, I told B, “I’m going to hide.”  So, I threw a blanket over myself and sat on the sofa–hiding in plain sight works on 7 year olds.  It works on Grandmas, too because I had to wave at Mom to get her to notice me, and put a finger over my lips to keep her from exclaiming.

Thor was standing not 3 feet from me, and B said, “Hey, I think there is a lump over there on the sofa that might want a hug.” Thor paused, then walked over to me and started laughing.  And he laughed, and laughed, and laughed until he had tears in his eyes, hugging me, then leaning back to look at me and laugh some more.

It’s amazing and wonderful how something so simple and silly can bring so much joy.

My mom called me later to tell me how happy it made her to see how much the boy and I love each other, and to say, “And that’s how much I love you, too.”

You guys…I am humbled and grateful every day of my life.  It isn’t possible to do enough to deserve the love I’ve had around me, and it pricks at the most latent parts of my spirituality.  Critics talk about how the desperate and the downtrodden invent gods to make themselves feel better, but it is when I am at my happiest that I most want one.  I just want to say thank you and express my gratitude to someone–I need to say thank you*!  I’m after God’s heart because mine gets so full.  I miss my old zealotry and surety the most when I am bursting to say thank you.

Thor wanted to show me one of the Bibles my mom has bought him–it’s verse style, not story style, so he’s very impressed.  I asked if he’d like to see my favorite verse, and he said yes, but he certainly hoped it was in the New Testament because the Old Testament sure is boring.  He was in luck.

Romans 8:38, 39 reads, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

He read that out loud in whatever translation his was, and I said, “That’s my favorite verse, and that’s how much I love you.  Nothing can ever separate you from how much I love you, or change that you are mine.”

It’s always been the “because He first loved me” aspect of Christianity that attracted me to the faith.

At this point in my life, I have a thousand more questions than I will ever have answers regarding God, but that’s okay.  Because if the god I chose  loves me anywhere near the way I love Thor–anywhere near the way my mother loves me, then the questions and uncertainty won’t bother him at all.  Not even my disbelief could separate me from that love.  (Sacrilege!  I know.  But not even his willful refusal to acknowledge me would make me turn my back my son, and I am an imperfect being.  It is possible [I think not probable, since he doesn’t show any tendencies toward serial killing or despotism] that he could do things to horrify and make me not like him, and possible that he could distress and disappoint me, but there is nothing that could quell the love I have for him.  Maybe that’s part of the imperfection of humanity–if it is, I prefer it to deity.)

Anyway…it is in every sense of the word a blessing to be married to my husband and into his family, and to belong to the family I was born into, and to have the family of friends I’ve made, and especially to be the family that we became when we had Thor, and I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has made even an ounce of it possible.

Here is Thor, having bored himself to sleep, reading Genesis.
Here is Thor, having bored himself to sleep, reading Genesis.

 

*This is a real issue for me.  I have sat on hold for 15 minutes waiting for a store manager, just to say thank you for good service.  I have a compulsive need to show gratitude that can manifest in a slavish devotion depending upon the level of thanks I am giving.  I guess there are worse compulsions?

Posted in books, Explaining the Strange Behavior, Friends of Mine, Inside Lane, Politics, Religion

Books, Cures, and Poor, Poor Baby Jesus (Updated)


I started a new book.  I can’t tell yet if it is good.  I’m two chapters in and the story has my attention, but the writer writes exactly the way I speak, and I find myself-in-other-people annoying, so I can’t decide whether or not to enjoy it.  I will end up with a grudging appreciation for it, as I do most things that remind me of myself. 

It is funny how we can be repelled by our own personalities.  My dearest friends are usually very different from me.  I gravitate toward big personalities (admittedly, I am one of those), but behind those big personalities are methodical, organized, slow-burning characters.  I have come to realize that the reason I get so irritated with short-fused, paranoid, self-effacing, mercurial talkers is because I am a short-fused, paranoid, self-effacing, mercurial talker.  (Thus, the heroine of the new novel is infuriating, being the poster child for above flaws.)

I do idealize solid people.  I idealize people who are doing the jobs they went to college to learn, and who have done the same jobs for entire career spans.  This fascinates and intrigues me.  To date, the longest I have ever stayed with one industry is five years.  Granted, I have returned to that industry (it also being the industry I most enjoyed), but I don’t feel like that counts because I only returned one peg above where I left it off 15 years ago.  I am in awe of people who commit to a course of career and keep it.

(Telaryn let me know that, “Reports are coming in that the statement is a parody and not, in fact, attributable to Akin.”  Good to know!  I found this retraction/correction.)