Mom to the Left

I'm a mom who tends to live just to the "left" of most of the people around me here in Indiana.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Out of the closet...

Boy, have I been busy. School started a week and a half ago and I went back to work almost immediately. I was surprised at how much I was needed this early in the school year. So between working all the time and getting the kids back into school, shopping for supplies, soccer starting up, etc. I haven't had time to blog until today. Actually, I was asked to work this morning but said I had "something to take care of" (i.e. myself). One of the perks of this job is being able to say no when they ask. Of course, I don't get paid then, but at least I can get laundry and dishes caught up after a hectic weekend.

Like UU churches everywhere, we are getting ready to start up a new church year in a couple of weeks. That also means a new church school year for RE. So yesterday after church we had a "retreat" for the DRE, RE board, RE committee (of which I am a part), the chair of the adult RE committee, and the president and vice-president from the board of trustees. It was a five-hour workshop with the purpose of
(re)defining our mission and vision for RE.

The first step of the workshop was to identify the diversity of personal views of the universe within our own program. Of the 10 people there, only 3 of us acknowledged a Creator (theists) and I was the only one who used the term "Christian" to define myself. It is interesting that there were a couple of people who acknowledged Christian influence, but didn't mention a belief in God. And I know the DRE considers herself a UU Christian even though in the workshop she didn't use that language but instead called herself a panentheist...which I am too. There were only three people who called themselves Humanists which surprised me. I expected more than that. The others identified with earth-based (pagan) traditions.

I was very uncomfortable with this confession. As we went around the room sharing with each other, I put it off until I was the last one to share. I admitted I was nervous about it and had told my husband that morning that I was going to "come out of the closet today". But when it was my turn I came out with it and explained that this is where my path has led me and it works for me and, unlike most Christians, I don't think Christianity is the "only" way. I confessed to reading the bible and praying every day. I also mentioned that rather than following the Christian church as it has been created by humans long after Jesus' death, I instead follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, two very different things. At the end I let out an audible "whew" and everyone laughed. I had several people, including the church president, thank me for sharing that with them. From there on out it was smooth sailing.

Why was I almost physically sick to my stomach with fear of sharing how Christianity works for me? Not only does it work for me, but it has opened up my life in ways I never expected. I shouldn't be ashamed of that.

On the way into church in the morning I was listening to the local contemporary Christian station (another one of my dirty little secrets) and the song You Raise Me Up by Sela came on and I asked myself what I was afraid of. I can stand in my truth without worry. And I did. What can anyone do to me really? Now I feel if a burden has been lifted.


Friday, August 11, 2006

Back to school

It's that time of year again. School starts for me and the kids next week. Yesterday I took the kids shopping for school supplies. (I do have to say that Target was MUCH better than Walmart in the school supply department - both selection and price -, for those of you getting ready to do your own shopping.)

I have to say that as opening day approaches I feel more and more of a sense of helpless resignation and depression. All summer long I've been hoping I'd get called for a permanent (or at least long-term) teaching assignment. But at this point we have less than a week to go and my phone hasn't rung.

My sister, the music teacher, did call and ask me if I was free to sub for her on Aug. 25, so I got my first sub call of the year. Sigh. Whoop-tee-doo...

I have enjoyed substitute teaching. It has provided me an opportunity to get to know lots and lots of people. It has also helped me to feel at home in the classroom again. But frankly, after two years of this, I am getting frustrated. While I appreciate all the accolades I get from school personnel about how I'm such a "wonderful" sub and they call me usually 5 days a week to one will hire me for a professional position! If I'm as great as they say I am, what is the problem?? I don't get it. But I am professionally bored with being a glorified babysitter when I am trained to do so much more. Also, with Little J only a few years from college, we seriously need for me to make a real salary and not just the peanuts they throw at me for subbing (most of which go to the babysitter anyway).

It is so frustrating and I have such a hard time trying to stay positive. I've been told that the end of this coming school year will see many teacher retirements so my chances are good that I'll get hired by then. Blah. So I guess I will begin my third year of subbing.


Monday, August 07, 2006

Why be Christian?

I recently recommended Marcus J. Borg's book The Heart of Christianity to some friends of mine with the comment that it changed my life and after reading it I was finally able to refer to myself as a UU Christian. After I said it, I began thinking about the book again. It has been over a year since I'd read it and I'd forgotten details - even though I remembered how generally moved I was by it. So I read it again and finished it yesterday.

I could say so many things about it, but this morning the question rumbling around in my head is "Why be Christian?" which is the final section in the last chapter of the book. A basic message of the book is that religions are different ways of mediating God and most are valid but are culturally/liguistically different. The question, then, seems to be why be Christian instead of Jew or Muslim or Buddhist, etc.? The answer for Borg is that Christianity is the religious tradition into which he was born and feels most natural for him. I wasn't born into any real tradition in my immediate family, but all of my extended family were Christian as were/are the majority of the community I live in. It is a cultural thing. Do I think it is better or more right than those other religions? No, but it works for me in a way that doesn't feel fake like Buddhist practices or Pagan ceremonies.

Then I've had fellow UU's counter with why do I need to declare myself anything? Isn't UU enough as a faith? Well, frankly, no. I think I need more of what Borg calls sacraments to mediate God (scriptural writing, prayer, symbolism, etc.) UU's are just not big on that stuff. When I limit myself to strictly UU services, I have a really hard time connecting with God. It's really very frustrating. On the other hand, the UU values are very important to me. I agree that the number one guiding principle in my own life (like in the 7 UU principles) is to respect the inherent worth and dignity in every person. I don't see that in other faiths. And so I am UU.

So Christianity, and particulary UU Christianity, works for me unlike anything else I've encountered.


Worried about a friend

I have a friend who is really freaking out about her health right now. The short version of the story is that she started having headaches, went to the hospital, and they discovered she has a small tumor. The professionals are downplaying it like it is no big deal, but she is really freaking out. I have a feeling it probably isn't terribly serious, but I also worry about how upset she's getting about it. That alone might make it worse.

Anyway, she is in my prayers and if any of you have any words of wisdom for her, I'm sure she'd appreciate it.


Friday, August 04, 2006

I want my old mom back

This is what Little J told me yesterday. He has trouble with my relatively new interest in Christianity. I think it freaks him out. When he was little, I was a bitter athiest. The Christians I'd encountered were judgmental, isolating, and just generally not loving. They adamantly insisted on a literal understanding of stories from the bible that are just too fantastical (is that a word?) for me to get my intellectual mind around. I saw Christianity as a way to divide people rather than bringing them together and I saw God as they described him to be hypocritical and unbelievable. It just had to be all made up.

When it finally hit me that these people were just people too and that maybe there was more to the idea of God and Christianity than what they'd been taught and what I'd always heard, I was floored. I had no idea that there was any way to consider all this besides a literal-factual way. Through reading lots of books and communicating with people on the internet, I began to discover that there are other ways of understanding scripture and being Christian. Suddenly I felt like the curtain was ripped in two and a new life began for me. I wanted to go back and reread the bible and rethink everything I'd thought before. It was like an obsession. The more I read and thought and prayed, the more it all made sense. Why hadn't I seen it before? It's so exciting and life-altering.

On the other hand, I realize it has been confusing to my family, especially Little J. The other two are young enough that they don't remember me any other way. But Little J is 14 and he's having trouble with it. He thinks I've become one of those "Jesus Freaks". He hates that I listen to contemporary Christian music on the car radio. He rolls his eyes whenever I mention Jesus.

I realize that he is just uncomfortable because I've thrown a wrench into what he'd always believed about God and Christianity. I don't try to convert him (I still have issues with evangelism). But I do want to show him there is a different, loving, unifying message in Jesus (which I think is the *real* message of Jesus). How do I find the words? How do I ease his discomfort to show him this isn't a bad thing. I haven't joined a cult or anything.

Wisdom would be welcomed...


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Whine whine whine...

I have been in a grumpy mood the last few days. First of all, this heat is just oppressive. With daily highs of 97 with a heat index near 105, we stay inside in the AC. That is getting old. But the humidity is so bad that you step outside and you feel the moisture cover your skin. Eeew. I hate hate hate getting hot and sweaty.

Plus I went to the doctor the other day. The good news is my health is doing pretty well. My lupus is behaving very nicely, thank you very much. The bad news is I need to lose weight and exercise. For various reasons I am predisposed to heart disease so my doc wants me to exercise at least 3 times a week and drop about 30 lbs. Blah. I don't like to exercise. Whine. I have never been able to successfully take of weight. Whine. So I am trying to watch it. But that doesn't mean I like it. Whine.

Our anniversary is tomorrow and we have no money to do anything. I mean, literally, no money. So I am going to fix dinner for us (which will make the day so much different from every other single day *sarcasm*). Day after day after day after day of the same old stuff and then no money to even celebrate something like an anniversary. Heck, I'm still waiting for the dinner I was supposed to get for my birthday 6 months ago but we didn't have any money then either. See a pattern?


Yes, I am bitter. I need to get over it. I just don't see the light at the end of the tunnel right now. I need to look a little bit harder for it. It is all fogged over right now. ;-/