Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Burdens, weariness, and rest (part 1)

Matthew 11:28-30

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

To be honest, my heart, my spirit, and my relationship with God and the Church are not in a place where I am able to do much more than survive.  I am weary, poor, tired, weak, lonely and disappointed in myself and the way I've lived my life in recent years. 

Perhaps the church is exactly where I need to be. My childhood was full of the relationships shared with people in my church.  The first church I remember attending was a very small, vibrant group of about 50 people.  It was the mid-1970s. Services were held at our local YMCA, which was closed to the public on Sundays.

Can you imagine a fitness facility being closed on Sundays today?

As I grew up, the little YMCA church group changed and we moved to a larger church in a different part of town. This one was much more established, with a large building and an independent Christian grade school.  There were lots of families with kids my age, older and younger. My family--my brother, my mom and dad--went to services three times  week, Sunday morning and night, and Wednesday evenings.

In that larger church, I found it easy to make friends. There were Sunday School classes and youth groups that I participated in on a regular basis. In my junior high and high school years, a group of us girls built some strong, faith-filled relationships through Bible studies, youth activities, church trips, and more.  I felt strong and secure in my beliefs and thought I might be hearing a divine call to missions, particularly mission work on the African continent.

After high school, I attended two years of undergrad at a small Christian liberal arts college in Massachusetts. Students there were required to attend Chapel services a minimum of four days a week. The campus was small and a bit remote, though, and I didn't join an off-campus congregation for Sunday services on a regular basis.

I would say that, until college, I had gone to church for all but a handful of Sundays in my entire life. Our family would even find churches to attend while we were on vacations, in and out of the United States. Being among believers and having a living faith was my reality for my first nineteen years of life.

At the tender age of nineteen, I married Hero. We moved back home from the Massachusetts college and applied to attend our much larger (and financially accessible) hometown university. We became active in serving the children of the congregation of the larger church of my childhood--also Hero's first church home.

But that congregation had grown rapidly and gone through an enormous building project, reaching out to many new families and many new members.  Attendance nearly doubled in the first two years in the new building; we used to joke that the whole complex was the size of a large strip mall. It just had a cross on the top.

So, what happened to that child of the church, that girl of faith?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My Kids and Technology

Why is it that every time I sit down to write a post, I need to use the bathroom?

We're getting a big snowstorm again today. I'd say we've gotten about 3 inches of fresh powder so far, and it's only 4pm. Hero was sent home early from work, which is wonderful. That sometimes happens for him on Friday afternoons. I usually take time to greet him well when he comes home. It's something that really fills up his well of joy.

We have a 1972 olive green rotary wall phone in the dining room at our house. We got it in order to have a family-friendly phone for the kids to use when they got older. I'm not a big believer in the idea of having my kids have their own cell phones. Fortunately, Primo's just 11 and Spark is 6, so that means we have some time to think about the issue.

In our 1920s house, it took a special trip from an electrician, two hours of fishing wire through the walls, a special digital adapter, and surgery on the phone itself in order to install the phone on our wall. But it works!  Now we have a phone that really does all of the verbs phones are supposed to do: when someone calls, the phone rings. No electronic tones there. (We turned our other cordless phones' ringers off after getting this phone.)  When you wish to make a call, you dial the numbers. When you're done talking, you hang up the receiver. I know it's not revolutionary, but it's satisfying to have a familiar piece of childhood around. If we didn't have it, they may never have seen one in person!

Today our DVD player died, though, and that means that if the boys want some video stimulation to chill out with, they're restricted to the broadcast channels in our city, most of which play shows that aren't suitable for young kids. We've never paid for cable TV. The PBS channels' afternoon kids shows are pretty limited. Whenever Super Why comes on, it's highly likely the Sarcasm Train will disgorge a whole load as the boys watch. It seems like they make fun of and critique every sentence and idea. I don't like them to get into that habit.

So, it being Friday and a regular family movie night, I did what parents in older generations could not have done: I signed up to stream movies via Netflix. Hero puttered for a minute or two with a connection cable, and viola!--movies on the TV. The boys were amazed. I'd never had a Netflix account, usually because when 9pm rolls around, I'm spent and wish I was already asleep. No energy for movies, no extra time for viewing much that isn't life or the written word. But I can't argue with being able to select the programs and movies my boys will see. I think that Saturday nights should be reserved for nature and science shows!

I just read another person's blog post about the end of coin-operated parking meters and pay phones. My husband and I are personally very fond of Old Time Radio programs and early twentieth-century culture. I wonder what my children will be nostalgic for as they reach my age.  How much is our cultural experience a product of its technology, and technology a product of an era?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuesday afternoon

Thoughts going through my head late at night, ideas for writing posts. Not falling asleep.

Did Hero know what he was suggesting when he said I should have a blog?  Thinking of setting up categories, organizing ideas.  But I should also get the laundry up into the bedrooms and make some dinner and scoop the cat boxes.  Then back to work for the evening shift.  Then home to bed and not sleeping because I'm thinking about writing.


Now, in the early evening, Primo sits at the table, crunching on cereal and trying to do his math homework.  Spark is silently playing a builders game on the computer. It's snowed for half the day and now the temperature is dropping to the coldest yet of this season.  Drafts move through the house, swirling, making our little cat pester me to hold her for warmth.  She hides near a heat vent, waiting for the furnace. I've got a hat and vest on.

Hot dogs?  Soup?  Dinner. The boys have gotten picky about food lately.

Dinner was left to Hero last night when I left for work in a huff.  After the Christmas break, he didn't remember I usually work on Monday nights.  They all set a place for me: pork chops and green beans.  And I stayed away until my shift was over.  There were hugs and kisses and I'm sorrys when I returned.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

First Post

What am I doing with a blog?  I read a few favorites every day, and find that there's a point at which I have nothing left to read and haven't found anyone new to read.   So perhaps it's time to write.

I'll be filling in more and more information about me, and having fun, I'm sure, with fomatting this blog, too.  More to come.