Tuesday, December 28, 2010

See what happens in Winter.

I'm back. I know, you missed me. Ha! Well, it's cold...and it even snowed on Christmas Day...here in Atlanta. It was awesome. A gift from above. "What is that, Rachel? Did you say, gift from above?  I thought you were really pissed at God." Well, yeah, I was. And I still have stuff to work out with the Big Man Upstairs, but too many of you wrote really wonderful comments. And they got me to thinking. I started thinking about all my blessings, instead of all my perceived curses. And there are so many, that I realized I can't be that spoiled child that I was in my previous post. I actually had this epiphany awhile back, but didn't get around to writing about it until now. Suffice to say that I just had to have a reality check. Life is not perfect, I will not get everything I want, even if it's really 'good' stuff that I want. I am not talking about things here. 

So, yes, I will always have friends who have tons of kids, and I'll wish I were one of them, but have decided to be content knowing that I am not. The upside is I have time to go out to dinner with my Hunny, like we did last night, and know I don't have to get home right away to nurse a baby. Yes, my nest is going to be empty a lot faster than some of my large family friends' are, but I'll find something fun and useful to society to do, when  that time comes. And hopefully, someday soon (well sooner than later), I'll have grandchildren and will be young enough to enjoy them. It's a good thing God is so good and so much bigger and better than I am. He can take all my rantings and ravings and turn them into praising and thanking with the counsel friends, commenters, priests, prayers and, of course, the Mass.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and I hope your 2011 is truly filled with peace, hope, and love. 


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My worldview turned on it's head. Some history and a RANT

Okay. I have gone through phases like this before. However they are VERY short lived and usually only happen in the Summer. It is Fall now. The weather is much cooler. I can't get a whole lot happier than the season right now. This is when I am so tuned into God. And you know what? I couldn't be less. What is weird is that it isn't God who I am having a problem with. It's who every person in the world says God is: Jews, Protestants, Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, Bhuddists, you name it. Organized religion has got me down, waaaaayyyyyyyy down. I can't seem to reconcile who I am with any other belief system other than say, Deism, the beliefs of our Founding Fathers.
I wrote the above statement in October of 2009. I just found it while looking over my blog posts. I realized that it was still a draft so I clicked 'edit' to see what it was. Needless to say I was kinda stunned because the content of that paragraph is exactly what I wanted to tackle today. I am kind of still in the same place. They tell me Mother Theresa went through this. I have not read the book about it, so I can't comment.

Here's my dilemma. First let me give a little background. I was born, baptised and raised a cultural Presbyterian. We went to church. I loved singing hymns, but that was all it meant. As a kid I was REALLY interested in spiritual things and my favorite book, which I still have, was a National Geographic title called Great Religions of the World. Fast forward and when I was 13, my dad 'Got Saved'. Suddenly he was talking about Christianity in a more personal way than I ever understood it. But he was really confusing, especially since he was talking about being a new creation in Christ and he seemed like the same ole dad to me. Fast forward to when I was 18. I think it was February, and my dad had talked my mom, brother, and me into going to a Billy Graham Crusade. I, being the idealist that I am, was bowled over, and walked down with throngs of people, at the ending 'altar call' to receive Christ as my Lord and Savior. Later that week, I would find a Church, as it turned out I went to Good Shepherd Methodist Church in West Palm Beach, FL. They had a very active and vibrant youth group. I made a bunch of friends there, deepened my new found faith, and even recently have reconnected with some of those folks through Facebook.

So, from 18 to 34, I remain a fairly active Evangelical Christian. As most protestants do, I dabbled in denominationalism. I went from the Methodists to the Episcopalians to the Lutherans- Missouri Synod, to Southern Baptists (where I was re-baptised), back to the Presbyterians- PCA. I tried some fundamentalist churches too, with their hands in the air and speaking in tongues. It scared the shit out of me! I kept trying to find the denomination that fit me. Some were too uptight, too legalistic, too liberal. Gosh, it drove me crazy. I tried to fit in and make friends and sometimes it worked for a little while but I never felt like I belonged anywhere. My parents even found a pastor who was churchless and we set up a home non denominational church in our house for a couple of years. We had 20 people coming to it for a while. (Tho it was just really a glorified bible study.)

At 34, my mother, who I loved more than God (being honest here), was diagnosed with colon cancer right after Mother's Day 2000; the day Autumn was baptised. Autumn was baptised in a Presbyterian church, as was Andrew, Ben was baptised in a Methodist church. Mom suffered for 5 months, the colon cancer had spread to both lobes of her liver...a death sentence....and then she was gone. She died just a few weeks shy of her 54th birthday, in a Catholic hospital (interestingly) with all of us surrounding her.

Okay, so did I pray that my mom, the best grandmother in the world, would be healed? Yes. Constantly. Did I pray that her suffering be relieved. Yes. Constantly. Did I pray that God help me to find a way to help her. Yes. Constantly. Was she healed? No. Did she suffer horribly. Oh yes. Was I able help her...like give her a lobe of my liver? No. Was I pissed? HELL YES! I was so angry at God. SOOOOOOO ANGRY. I joked with really good friends, who are Catholic, during Lent several months later, that I had given Jesus up for Lent (tho, I had never really celebrated Lent as a protestant...not really). Btw, I thought Catholicism was a cult and Catholics poor duped souls. I was always trying to get Catholic friends to leave the Church.

(Let me state emphatically right now...don't trust me...ever....I don't trust myself anymore. Believe what you want, it's none of my business.)

Back to my story (which I am sure is just riveting) fast forward again. I'm not going to church anywhere. I still mad. It's been a couple of years since mom died. Our Catholic friends (R&K) are over for dinner and K says I should come with them soon to a spaghetti dinner at their Church and after, if I am interested, I could go to this program for people interested in becoming Catholic. Que inner monologue "Who me? Catholic? Ha! Join that Whore of Babylon of a so called Church....Ha! Right? People actually BECOME Catholic? Why the heck would they want to do that? " So, I said, NO. And when they left, I promptly went up and googled 'Protestant Converts to Catholicism'. Needless to say, and another long story, I was blown away. The net of it was I did alot of reading. Went to RCIA, and after some roadblocks here and there, became Catholic in Novemember of 2003. (Note: I have written my conversion story to the Catholic Church and given it as a speech at several retreats. I have never transcribed it here, because it is long, and I am lazy. I am very convincing, very persuasive. I think due in large part to a dad who always played Devil's Advocate and my private prep school education. Word to the wise....don't listen to me.)

Since becoming Catholic I have learned all I can. Starting out, it was difficult not to throw myself into uberCatholicdom so, naturally, that is what I did. I went to all 4 years of a Bible/Encyclical study called FAMILIA. Some of my Catholic friends (R & K) probably thought I was pretty intolerable, looking back they were right. All in all, it was the first time in my spiritual life that I ever felt like I truly belonged. I was welcomed into the Church with open arms and have made truly wonderful friends there. The first and foremost being R & K, who I still completely love and adore. They were our sponsors coming in to the Church (Robert, who was raised Catholic never was confirmed so that is what happened for him, and then our marriage was convalidated).

Fast forward to about a year to 18 months ago. The disenchanment began, somewhere in there. I started to wake up to the fact that God always wins. Not that I want to win, but He always wins. If anything good happens, God did it. If anything bad happens, God allowed it and He will bring good from it (uh, I am still waiting for the good from mom's death...I have become estranged from my father (he went nuts when she died)...so I have lost both parents and my kids lost both their maternal grandparents...WOW...how 'good' is that!?!) Also, if I do anything good, it's Christ in me that does it, if I do anything bad...it's all me....all me and my sinful nature rearing it's ugly head. What about the many people I know ,who are really great, kind, generous, caring people who don't believe in anything....or believe in a completely different God, what then? And, again, just being honest here, both Heaven and Hell don't seem all that great to me. One is eternal suffering, the other eternally praising God. One sounds awfully painful and the other painfully boring.

Now, I have read ALOT of theology. I have read Church history. There is no denying Christ existed and there seems to be more historical proof that he not only existed but did what he did and said what he said, than there is historical documentation proving my or your existance. (And I'm not just talking about the Bible here, I am talking about other historical documents of the time). I also happen to believe that the basic celebration of the Eucharist of the Catholic Church (and even the Orthodox Church) is the closest we have to what the original Christians were doing. However, after all the shit that continues to come down in the Church I have become so turned off. And yeah, I know, the standard response (excuse) is that it's spiritual warfare....the Devil is coming against the Church. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Or maybe, just maybe, all these so-called leaders of the Church should be more properly vetted? Look, I am no angel, but I am no Fr. Maciel. Holy shit. What evil, twisted mo fo.

But you know, maybe priests should be able to marry. Have you ever looked into the history of how the celibate priesthood came into being? Without any kind of agenda-glasses on? It was for the church to make money and aquire land. Then they tacked on spiritual reasons later. The whole thing with the Legionaires of Christ and their lay apostolate Regnum Christi really sickened me. I got to thinking. How easily I could been duped by them? I went to their study group FAMILIA for 4 years and when you are done with it Regnum Christi makes a pitch for you to join them. I didn't. I'm glad. But how close I almost came to drinking that Kool-aid scares me. But it also makes me wonder how much other Kool- aid have I been drinking?

I'm really over the redemptive suffering thing and the reparation suffering thing. I don't see my suffering redeeming anyone or anything. And what is worse is that I have met people really into that and they dont seem happy or they are really judgemental. They show no love of Christ, no mercy, no forgiving attitude (only to each other in their little club) but for everyone else....just judgement...holier than though CRAP! I went to this Alliance of Two Hearts seminar given by this Fr. Bing dude. It scared me horribly. I mean, I left there thinking, "OMG, if this is Catholicism, what the Hell did I do joining this Church?" I mean, I felt like vomiting. I was so overloaded with a sense of guilt and shame and hopelessness that I almost cried. All it did was solidify what I continue to see all around me everywhere, people love to sit in judgement of everyone else. They want to think they are right and have the right answers and as a result, God is going to reward them and damn everyone else. I mean, for crying out loud, look at the Jihadist Muslims. How crazy are they? And they believe that what they are doing is what God wants of them. And so do so many Catholics, and Protestants, and Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, goodness...the list goes on. For what it is worth, I believe that suffering is suffering and suffering sucks and everyone suffers over something...get used to it....end of story.

Let me set up an example from my life: Long before becoming Catholic I was having a real problem with birth control. I think it is evil. And not from a religious point of view. Fertility is not a disease. Loading a woman up with artificial chemicals to render her a female enuch just so she is sexually available at all times is the height of mysogyny. And that women have 'bought it' that it is their right to chemically sterilize themselves is even more disgusting. I have been on those pills and shots. You know what they do? They make for a moody, fat, sexually distinterested woman who is prone to stroke and breast cancer. Sounds like the lotto to me! And condoms are no better. I mean, when we used to use them, way back, what differentiated me from any other woman? Sure, my husband loved me, and was committed to me. But, when you have an affair, wouldn't one use a condom? If I, as a married woman, am so special, well then, I shouldn't have to fill myself with chemicals or rubber stoppers filled with spermacide that only makes me itch. Nor should do I have to deal with a piece of synthetic material between me and my hubby. I don't cover the rest of my body in saran wrap when we are making love, so why cover one of the most important parts. Oh, so that leaves me with physical sterilization. Mmm, sounds awesome! No thanks. I have a cycle, I'll watch it. I'll excercise some self control for a bit which will only make it more fun later.

Whoa...did I digress or what....so, my example is this, one of the things I was excited about in regards to being Catholic is that the Church thinks birth control is bad, for most of the reasons I do. I thought that was pretty cool. Robert didn't, at first, but that has all changed. The Catholic Church also highly esteems motherhood (which alot of Protestants say they do, but they act like they don't), and believes children are a blessing. Well, I REALLY wanted another child. Specifically, another little girl, but I would happily take a boy too. I wanted Autumn to get to be a big sister and wanted a namesake for my mama. I was very involved with the FAMILIA program, at the time, and we were reading encyclicals about the merits of children. I PRAYED MY ASS OFF. I CRIED AND BEGGED FOR ANOTHER CHILD. I was using NFP, I knew when I was fertile. At first, I had to sell Robert on it. He wasn't wanting to buy. Eventually, he came around. But I never got pregnant. Now, there are those who never get pregnant. I have, at least, have 3 kids. Who was I to complain? But I know people with 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 kids. Those are all seperate families, by the way. So, did God say NO? Did my body say NO? Why? Why couldn't I have another kid? Am I that horrible a mother ? (Ok, don't answer that.) I wasn't praying for a Porche or a Lake House. I wanted a kid. In a world which considers the conceptus of a man and a woman as something disposable, I didn't (don't), I think it's a person, and amazing one of a kind person. And I just wanted another one. I believed I was being led to want another one. What is so wrong with that? So, it wasn't God that wanted me to have another child? Or it was, but he just wanted me to be willing to have one, it's not like he promised it or anything? Or it wasn't God's idea and that is why I never got pregnant, because it was really 'my' idea. Heck, I almost had a tubal, and it was God (or was it) who prevented me from being able to get it done. Then he fucks with me like that and brings about the desire for another child(ren) only to give me a celestial 'Fuck You' later? Really? Do I want to believe in that God? (Note: If your offended go away. This is my blog. Oh, and I think the Creator of the Universe can handle a little obsenity. So get a grip.)

The bottom line is, I 'thought' God wanted me to have another child. I thought wrong. I have thought God wanted me to do or not do all sorts of things, and I can ALWAYS find some sign that He is guiding me in a certrain direction. When that certain direction turns 180 degrees then I have to find some reason God did that too. I don't know what he wants from me. Any of us could justify just about anything that has happened to us or that we are going through in the light of God's design. I'm just sick to death of it all. Really I am. Do I believe that God exists? Yes. I believe there is a creator. Do I believe that Jesus is the human manifestation of that creator? Yes. Did 'Jesus' ask me to follow all these stupid rules all the time and make myself crazy? No. What did He ask me to do? "Love others, as I have loved you." That's a tall order. I'm horrible at it. So, maybe I should just work on that one for a while, not ask for anything, and leave the rest to those more capable.

Peace out

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I really don't think I'm gonna make it.

Okay, so I guess we are into our 3 rd week of Summer vacation and I am ready to wound myself in a near fatal way so that I can be in the hospital on a steady morphine drip. THAT is my idea of a vacation...a real get away...from reality altogether. I mean, I know that pretty much everyone with a soon to be 14 year old has dreams of suicide ( or homicide) , but when that kid is also bipolar well all bets are off. The kid is on meds, but it's not like they have developed anything that I know of that would give him an entirely new personality, let alone happier more stable moods. Of course, there is Haldol, but I am really not interested in hanging him on the bathrobe hook at the back of my closet door....hmmmmm...or am I???

And should I really be complaining at all? After all, didn't I bring this on myself...fighting with my younger brother all those years ago...I seem to remember my mom muttering a curse of some kind, that my behavior would be revisited on me. Well, shit, it really has!!! Autumn and Ben and their constant bickering over the dumbest things makes me wonder why I didn't have my ovaries ripped out before I was of childbearing age, like I'm going to have done to my puppy next week.

So, what I am trying to do, when I find that my 13 yr old son has surfed porn for the first ( and better be last) time on my iPad, (there was nothing like opening the browser that day...his PC is completely protected from him looking for it there) is trying to remember the sweet baby I nursed and carried in a sling and adored. And it's not so easy, because what I see in front of me is the greasy headed, smart ass teenager who is so hostile to his little sister and to me and his dad. He lives to bicker and argue and I want to send him flying out the window (without a net). There is no pithy cute happy ending to this post. It's gonna be a long Summer. I hate the heat to begin with, the only upshot to Summer for me is the ability to sleep in, but the new puppy has effectively ended that, sooo I figure I have a couple of months to perfect drinking heavily. But if you hear I'm in the hospital on a morphine drip, because of some 'freak' accident, don't be sad for me. Know that I am
probably enjoying the vacation of a lifetime..... in my head.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

I've had a new puppy for a month and haven't blogged about it!!!!

This is my first time blogging with my iPad. So far so good. The only thing is I don't think I have pictures of Tru, our new Husky pup, in my iPad picture folder, so I may have to add them later. Anyway, Tru is here. We got her the day before my birthday and she was actually born on Autumn's birthday, so I thought that was a good sign. Especially since I was picking her up sight unseen and had only reports from her breeder as to her temperament...with TiVo we got to meet his litter and he picked us. Anyway, it's been over a month and she is awesome. For the first month she only had eyes for TiVo and we thought show was never gonna notice any of us. But over the past 2 weeks she has come out of her dog centric world and is becoming attached to us...especially me, but then again, I'm the one with her all the time.

Tru has been great for TiVo. Siberian Huskies really are social dog and while they can be fine in a one dog family they are really happiest when there is, at least, one other dog. For the first 36 hours TiVo wouldn't let Tru move. He had to keep her pinned down and drag her around and show her who was the king of the house in typical Husky (quite wolf like) style. After 2 days they were in love. He still rough houses with her at least once a day to keep her in the #2 slot, but it is killer cute how they play and enjoy each other's company.

Tru loves the dog park as much as TiVo and when we first got her, she was 10 weeks old, and we took her there she walked in like she owned the place. No fear! I loved it. She is almost 4 months old and huge. TiVo is over tall for a Husky, but he is light...54lbs. Tru is already 27lbs! And she is a big girl. She may get close to TiVo's height which would make her tall for a female, but I would be cool with that. I love TiVo's gangly wolfy look.

Of course, the deal with Robert was that I had to rehome the kitties in order to get another Husky. TiVo had been trying to eat the cats since he was about 4 months old. I had a dream last night about all three of them. I miss them a lot. But they we were really unhappy with one dog...2 would have sent them over the edges. I had to split them up. Toonces went to one girl, and Milo and Ginger went to another, but I still crying jags over them. Don't judge me...I judge myself enough. But the dogs go with me everywhere, the cats didn't. The dogs get me out to exercise and meet new people, notsofor the kitties. So, I'm praying that St. Francis continues to watch over my kitties and keep them happy in their new dog free homes.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's been so long.

Okay, so I have no idea what to say, except that facebook is so damn fun that I forgot about my blog. I started writing this as a way for my kids to see what a wacky mom they have. Then it kind of became a journal. I got alot out that first year and it was good for me.

This year so far has been pretty fun. In January, we found out that friends we had met on facebook were going to be in our area. It turns out Bill Mueller had a training thing for his job and it was right here in Roswell. He came first and then his wife, Terry, came a couple days later. We had a blast. I was really sorry to see them go at the end of the week. We introduced them to Doctor Who and they introduced us to Coupling. I took Terry all over Roswell, TiVo fell in love with Bill, and then, on Friday, Bill and Terry took us out to a fab dinner at Relish, along with 2 more facebook friends who live here in town, Loren and Tracy Peters (I went to high school with Loren). We had a really good time for 4 people who had never previously met in person. Oh, and we all survived (several friends of mine thought we were insane to invite facebook friends over...I mean what if they killed us). And here is proof that it all went well (Oh, and I now I have to figure out how I am going to get my ass to Illinois where they live.)

I met MUSE, my favorite band in the world and they were such nice guys. It is so awesome to meet people you admire so much and they turn out to be great. They could have been jerks...but they were not. Matt Bellamy, the lead singer, couldn't believe that Andrew was my kid. As if I didn't love Matt enough, I got a compliment. What a cool guy. Thanks to my Hunny and his friend Mike Greene, I got to see the most amazing concert of my life AND got to meet the band too. We chatted with them back stage for about 15 minutes. It was just the 4 of us, Robert, me, Andrew and his longtime pal, Claire. The latter two were virtually hyperventilating at meeting those Rock GODs...and it was adorable to see.
Robert finally got out of for-profit corporate life. A huge prayer was answered and he is now the managing director for internet & new media for the American Cancer Society. It's more a prestige position than a monied position...as most non-profits are. But, we can still stay in our house (we had it for sale for a 4 months) and he is doing something that matters. And that is what we have prayed for for so long. Robert is an amazing husband and stand up guy. He wants to take care of this family as sole provider, so I can be the hand that rocks the cradle at home, but he always wanted to get paid to do something that made a huge positive impact on those around him. So, here's a shout out to the big man upstairs...Thank you, GOD, for making this all happen!!!

Now, I am thinking of adding a new puppy to the mix. Before that happens I have to re-home our 3 cats. It's not something I want to do, but no one pays any attention to them, or takes care of them anymore and it sucks. I change their litter and feed them, but I am the primary carer of the dog, so I am in and out of the cats business pretty quickly. I love Toonces the most, will miss him desperately, but the cats were for the kids. They are growing up and don't care. Everyone loves TiVo and it's not hard to understand why. He is awesome, and loving and interacts with everyone. The cats interact on their terms...whenever that is. And those 3 fluffy idiots could have become friends with TiVo, but they would have nothing to do with him and now that he is big they are afraid of him. I'm kind of sick of living in the Gaza strip of my own home. There are zones for the cats and the dog and it's gotten really old. Before anyone gives me any crap, understand, I wouldn't give away a kid. These are animals. If they are not happy, I believe I should help them to be so. I love all animals....I really do. But when it comes down to brass tax I am a dog girl. I love walking TiVo, I love taking him to the dog park. I love all the social interaction he brings to me. I am an extrovert...and I believe cats are for introverts. NO judgement, just a statement. I drive around with TiVo all day. He comes with me everywhere. I can't take my cats anywhere. Anyway, that's what going on there.
On the spirituality front, the last year has been weird. Right now I am in a good place and am praying it sticks. I have gone through a lot of so called 'atheist phases' and I don't like them. They are very dark and dry and lonely...a great breeding ground for anger and selfishness. Sometimes life does seem pointless. I told Robert recently that it (life) seems like a giant hamster wheel we get on and have to keep running on and we only get to get off when we die. Translate that into me feeling exhausted...and bored. I need new things to shake me up.

Lately, I have re-committed myself to caring for myself and losing the few pounds I put on, over the last few months, this after having lost over 30 pounds. How easy it is to slip off the saddle. Luckily, it was less than 10lbs, 5 of which are gone...so I am on track. I am feeling so much better. It's not fun getting out of control and feeling that you can't seem to help yourself. I am happy to be back in the saddle and taking it day by day to stay there.

The kids are all doing really well. Autumn has been in a really cool homeschool co-op this year and the time off (for me) and added social interaction for her has been fabulous. Next month she has a jazz recital...they are dancing to All That Jazz from Chicago and should be adorable. Here is Autumn with the girl half of the her co op, there are 3 boys in it too.
Ben is almost done with his 7th grade year at the Cottage School and boy howdy do I love that place and everything it's done for our boy. Ben is really doing so much better this year, on all fronts, than he has in the past. I have high hopes that things are going to continue to change for the better, for 'the Bendamin'. Oh, and Ben's braces finally came off...look how handsome.
Andrew, my handsome vulcan son, is still working at Trader Joe's...almost 2 years. I am so pround of him. He has just a couple weeks left and will be done with his sophmore year at Georgia State. He is still living at home (which I love) and still plugging away at his post-rock band, Absence of Ocean. He has taught himself how to play guitar and writes alot of songs. All in all, he's pretty damn cool. I love him to bits...just wish he were a little more chatty....how is he my kid??? I mean, he looks just like me so I know he is mine....but talk about opposite. One great thing is that Andrew will be 21 in 6 months and then I can send him on booze runs for me and Robert....woo hoo!! LOL Below is Andrew's shocked, "I just met Muse" face.
I think I am gonna go bake something yummy now. I am off wheat again, due to allergies. I am thinking this time I should stay off of it for good, but we'll see. Wheat definitely bothers me most in Spring and Summer as it causes my eczema to flare. I have been off of it over a week now and my hand eczema is almost healed. You know what else is weird...I swear I am addicted to wheat. When I am not eating it, I don't have the insane food cravings I normally do...the very same cravings that got me into trouble gaining almost 10 pounds back of the 30 I lost. I wonder if there is something too that? All I know is that in 2 or 3 days time my hands will look and feel normal again and that is worth everything. Besides, I made a KILLER gluten free version of my favorite cake 'Tres Leches' and it soooooo frickin good, I dare anyone to guess it's not made with wheat flour.

Oh yeah, how could I forget a really cool thing...we now have a Keurig One Cup coffee making system and it is the coolest thing in the universe...and yes, I have even seen and played with the iPad. But really great coffee (which I don't need to roast, or grind or measure or brew) in a minute is freaking awesome when you are as addicted to the substance as I am!! My birthday is coming up this Thursday, the 29th. I love K-Cups...send me some!! ;-)