The Almighty Dollar

Another snow storm means another morning I spent debating on weather or not I could financially handle taking a full day off of work. Considering a gas bill that needed paying next week that would take a large chunk of my already dwindling bank account, I decided I could at least afford a half day.

So I left my post at noon along with the only other coworker who showed up to work.

As I took the snow blower to the driveway I began to ponder the kind of society I’ve grown in. When did it become so important to risk your own life for little piece of green paper? Why is it we invest so much of ourselves in money that we are willing to risk ourselves for it? How have we sunk so low?

In the struggles of my faith I find myself reading my Bible more. Just trying to understand this broken place I’ve found myself. I understand now all those verses about how it’s hard for people with wealth to enter the kingdom of God and I ponder this frequently even in my lack. How we have come to replace most of our gods with money was really no mystery. It is what makes the world turn…and I’m doing so it is what controls people the most.

In a bartering system, kindness tends to prevail. Mainly because your reputation with others has a greater impact on your success. Your character. Your reliability. The quality of the service you provide. How generous and reasonable you are. All of it factors into your success and thus the success around you.

In a primarily monetary system, your character doesn’t matter as much if you have the wealth to excuse it.

Which is why the owner of our company comes down on us so hard for not coming into work. He pays us, and therefore excuses his behavior with the obligation that he owns us from 8am – 4:30pm. E accept this, and are hesitant and fearful to not comply because it means the money could run dry and we too cannot pay to excuse our own wants and needs.

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The City of TR

“Why did it do that?” my husband exclaimed as the water seeped into his clothes and dripped from his face.

“Welcome to home ownership!” I laughed.

 

My husband had never done any kind of handiwork in regards to plumbing, and recently the city issued us a Public Nuisance allegation about our sump pump, because it pumps out into the rain gutter in the street and has been causing ice build up. According to the past two owners that drainage had been there since they had both owned the house. So it’s at least over 10 years old. But, of course, the cops only just noticed it recently, and decided to pick on us about it. We hadn’t known that it was an issue really. Our street doesn’t have a storm drain, and it had passed inspection so for all we knew it was perfectly legal. It wasn’t. So we had to deal with it.

 

Of course, the weekend I was going to get my dad to help me route it to the backyard, a snow storm hit and dumps 10 inches of snow on us, and since the ice was building up rapidly in the street, I decided I would just make an emergency reroute into the sewer drain I have in my basement. However, I had forgotten to warn my husband that pipes tend to unload whatever is left in them when they’re disconnected, very rapidly, and I didn’t realize how much water was still left in the pipe. So of course, it became a lovely violent fountain, made our sump pump hole overflow, and gave us a very wet basement, which in-turn, made more work for us.

 

When I finally got the sump pump hooked up to the makeshift resolution we had with spare pipe and saw that it was working for now…My husband and I proceeded to clean and dry up the mess in the basement. I called off from my usual day at the printing museum and got to work moving plastic bins and getting fans to dry up the basement. Every rag in our rag bin was used. My poor husband had an attitude about the whole thing, and in the midst of the issues with the city, this just felt like icing on the cake for all the frustration.

Not only was the city being jerks to bring up this issue after we had only lived in the house for two years, but we also had another issue. The city forgot to check the meters on our block and the block before us to send us our utility bills. So we got charged for two months this month after a series of complains from us and our neighbors that we had not yet gotten our bills. Just after this is when we were issued our Public Nuisance allegation, given only 30 days to comply with the option of an extension if we could prevent the water off the street for now. After speaking with the city we found out we had to reroute the water, remove the pipe, and fix the hole in the curb on our dime, then have the cop who filed the complaint take a look at the changes to make sure we’re doing it all legally. Which we were more than happy to do…up until we saw on our bill that we have a storm water charge we’ve been charged…but our street doesn’t even have a storm drain for our sump pump to connect to, which is the city’s preference.

 

I’m all about removing the pipe and rerouting the water. I wanted to fix that anyway when I first bought the house, but I thought I would have more time to solve that problem. It’s my concerns about fixing the curb, because I thought that was owned by the city. Am I even allowed to touch it really? Am I going to be fined if it’s done incorrectly? Why am I paying a “storm water fee” if my street doesn’t have a storm drain? Furthermore…if the gutter and curb act as my storm drain that the fee on my bill maintains…then why am I paying for it twice when I didn’t damage the curb? What is that fee even for?

 

In all of this there is so much to be thankful for…like all the old pipes the former owner had laying around that have proven remarkable useful. My husband in his funk was still so helpful when I was fixing things and cleaning up the water. Nothing was damaged. The basement is drying as we speak. The water is not spilling into the street or into my basement anymore (though I know the city will not be pleased it is going into the sewer because that’s not legal, but its 12 degrees F and we just had a blizzard overnight so nothing further can be done until spring).

 

The other good thing is Pinterets is full of ideas for solving this type of issue, and I may finally get a water feature in my back yard like I have always wanted…assuming that once I have the water draining on my property…they don’t care what I do with it.

A Letter I’ll Never Send: Spiritual Abuser

Dear “brother” in Christ,

May I remind you God created woman with the intention of coming into the world through one. There were female judges in the Bible. God used a lineage that includes and mentions a harlot to come into the world. God saved Armies with women. God used women for great political and spiritual change in Scripture.

Don’t take your toxic masculine Christianity and call me the weaker sex. I have known women Biblical and otherwise who saved nations on rebellion and disobedience to men. I’ve known women who are stronger than most men. Don’t force my submission to you. Because my submission is meant for God honoring men who have earned my love and respect, not the ones who believe because they have a dick that my respect is an obligation. Also, my submission is MINE TO GIVE based on how I discern who is worthy of it.

I know who God says I am. Do you?

You can take your watered down Bible stories and toxic pride that you’ve so lovingly mixed into a cocktail of religious heresy and SHOVE IT. You can take your condemnation and eat your own bitter words. I am loved. I am forgiven. I am made beautifully and wonderfully by a creator who doesn’t see my gender and uses it against me or to exert power over me, but rather sees the state of my heart and washes it clean and renews it with love, and with that love earns my wayward heart back everyday.

Take your words, and take your lies, and get behind me Satan! You have no power here.

Christmas Eve

As a child, I don’t ever recall believing in Santa. It’s just not something that my parents perpetuated. We believed in celebrating the birth of Jesus, and by giving to each other and spending time with family and friends. Of course we did lots of other traditional things. My parents kept our gifts a secret and they didn’t appear under the tree until Christmas Day. We went to my dads parents in the afternoon and my moms mother in the evening and stayed out late. We usually fell asleep in grandmas guest room and woke up the next morning in our own beds. Christmas Day would usually be spent at home so we could stay in pajamas and play with our new toys.

There was still plenty of magic in the air. Especially if there was snow.

This year my husband and I are attending our church for one of the three Christmas Eve services. Afterward and friend is coming with us as we do a short Year Walk in the woods to contemplate all that has happened and pray for all that will. Gifts have been under the tree for a few weeks now, and my husband and I are really good at keeping secrets. We plan on giving the kitties extra treats and catnip before bed, and waking up extra early the next morning to open gifts and rest on the couch before heading to my parents house for lunch and Christmas movies.

I’m actually looking forward to it.

I leave you with one of my favorite Christmas songs. Feel free to post your favorite Christmas song in the comments. I’m always a fan of music.

I am a Maker

Like my Creator I too have been given the blessing of being able to create. I have been given hands that can hold my instruments, and a mind that can see things that are not yet there. I have seen beauty beget beauty and deep searing pain beget beauty. I have seen that which seems impossible and made it so. I make words work together. I make small beautiful things to adorn people and places.

I work on my artistry and craft for the same reason I write here…for therapy. Every piece has held, helped, and healed a moment in my life that was joyful or painful. Each piece I have crafted is a monument to my desire to make beautiful things as I have been made into a beautiful thing. To remind others that though they adorn their homes and themselves with my work, they have been adorned with a souls, crafted by the greatest hands of an Almighty Craftsman.

I work to remind the world, that if you want beautiful things you must…absolutely must….stop starving the artists.

Below is a collection of some of my small adornments. They are a combination of metals and natural materials. If you’d like to see more you’re welcome to visit my business Facebook page.

Christmas Plans

The day has been grey, and as I sit here at my laptop I can only be thankful to be indoors. The combination snow and rain is making my bones chill, even though my heat is on full blast and my cats are warmly tucked at my feet and behind my back as I type. It officially feels like winter now, as I can watch the sun sink a little earlier in the day. It’s only 4pm and nearly dark out, accompanied by clouds looking stern and cold through the water droplets on my window pane.

My husband and I set up our Christmas Trees last weekend. This year we set out only 3 instead of 4. Our little 3 ft white tree in the living room, our 2 ft frocked tree in the bedroom, and a 3 ft metal frame “tree” my husband keeps in the basement with the rest of his nerd ornaments. This year we have no travel plans and no required places to be. We’ve not committed to anything at all.

I’m actually looking forward to Christmas this year.

As I’ve posted in the past, I do not often like Christmas. I dislike the commercialism, even though I do enjoy shopping to a fault. I struggle between wanting things and wishing I didn’t want things, as I think most people my age do. We’re raised by TV and Internet to be consumers and then we we are adults, we realize we cannot afford to consume as much as we want, and more than half the time, we can’t even afford what we need. So while I love shopping, I shouldn’t, and while I would love to give Christmas Gifts to people I love, I usually can’t.

One of the remedies I have discussed in past posts has been to alternate Christmas gift giving between making handmade gifts, and giving gifts that support greater causes like Charities or a small family-owned business. By doing this, I find either I give something a little more thoughtful and custom made, or I’m giving a gift that gives back in some way or another. That way my family gets gifts, and my gift giving feels more meaningful than just buying the lasted gadget at a large corporation that doesn’t do that much for it’s community or the charities it claims to support. Plus, I leave with less buyers remorse than usual.

A few of the Charities I’ve given to and supported this year I posted in a previous blog post and have been supporting for a while either with my money or my time (or both).

Another reason I’ve been enjoying Christmas more this year, is because I’m doing more to celebrate. My husband and I are starting to formulate and investigate Christmas traditions, which we hadn’t done last year because we were only celebrating our first Christmas and didn’t quite know what the other thought about the holiday, much less what we thought about traditions. One of the traditions we decided on, that also works as a personal goal, is that we’ve decided to attend every Advent sermon at church this Advent season to help us reflect on not only the positivity we should feel for the season, but also the greatest Gift of all…The birth of Jesus Christ.

Another tradition my husband and I are starting this year, is we’re throwing a small Krampus celebration, where we have invited friends over on Dec. 5th (Krampusnacht) to watch the Dark Comedy Film based on the old lore of Krampus, the Christmas Demon. Apparently an old European tale of a demon who took care of the naughty children in a way that St. Nick didn’t (usually kidnapping and eating them). A little dark and ridiculous, but all the same a fun little something that we can look forward to every year.

What are your holiday plans? What traditions do you celebrate in the winter months?

My God Kept His Scars

Lately my self image has been really really bad. After certain comments my doctor made to me my last visit I’ve been trying to lose about 10 pounds of weight…and I’ve managed to gain five since then. This has caused a lot of mirror looking. A lot of watching what I eat. And a lot of eating bad things out of rebellion because I have a lot of inner conflict about my image and what self-care really looks like. Because cookies feel like self care even if their 400 calories for two Girl Scout cookies. Pissed.

So I’ve spent a lot of time being self-critical of my physical image. Wondering if this meat bag is really worth taking care of. I noticed my stretch marks and scars from my insertion sites for my insulin pump. I wonder if it’s really worth trying to look and feel better. It’s not like the scars are going away for the stretch marks. it’s not like the weight is shedding like I had hoped it would, and as I’ve spoken of in previous blog post, the more insulin you take the fatter you tend to get. And as an insulin-dependent diabetic I can’t just stop taking insulin (a habit I got into in college when I realized I could just shed weight if I did) and expect to get better too.

Last night I felt particularly distraught over the state of my physical being. Which of course that’s silly because I’m not really fat whilst I am getting bigger, but my doctor’s very poor phrasing, when talking to me about my weight gain upset me deeply, and because I’m an introvert and I fear shallowness you can imagine I had a great deal of inner conflict while I sat there crying on the couch alone in the dark wondering if I was ever actually going to get healthier and thinner.

It has taken me so long to finally determined I wanted to do it the right way and here I was struggling with all these conflicts within my heart and my mind and asking God why.

While I sat in the dark and my cat curled up on my stomach purring loudly as if she knew that this was a problem I was having and my stomach was the cause, a thought occurred to me that felt very outside of my own actual thoughts. I’ve only ever had this happen to me once in my whole life where I had a thought occur to me that I’m pretty sure I could not have thought of on my own. But this particular thought was a quiet whisper to my heart:

“You have a God who kept his scars.”

For those of you who are not religious this probably doesn’t have a ton of meaning to you, but to me this means everything. I grew up in a Christian worldview, which I still hold to this day and while people call it “religious” I call it faithful. Granted I realize I really do suck at being a Christian. While I am a child of God and I have that assurance, most days I don’t feel like a child of God. And I know it’s not a feeling it’s simply a truth that is not dictated by my emotions, but emotions are so real. So very real. That they feel like the truth.

So on this night, while I laid in the dark and had this sudden thought occur to me, I broke into tears as it really penetrated my soul. My God really kept his scars. Those things I condemn on my own body I had a God who showed up in a room full of hundreds of his believers after he had passed and risen again with his body completely mutilated as a symbol of him truly passing and truly rising again, a task no mere human could ever accomplish and yet is the basis for my faith and my redemption. Did I not find those scars beautiful when I first came to faith, and do I not still find them beautiful now for what they represent? How have I gotten so far from my faith that I became so wrapped up in myself and my own body image that I would condemn the things that prove that I have survived as well? Furthermore, when my soul is what matters, why did I get so caught up in what this meat bag of a body was doing?

This is not to say I shouldn’t keep trying to get healthier. In fact, I still do want to get healthier and lose weight, and I still want to do it the right way despite how discouraged I am. But all the self-conscious feelings I had about my body image had suddenly melted away on this realization that I had a God who kept all those human imperfections even in his divinity.

Christ came back with scars. And he’s coming back again and I don’t know if the scars will be there or not or what that means, but at one point he showed up and kept his scars as proof of his love. Perhaps this means that I need to own my scars and respect them for proof of my self love?

As my husband once lovingly pointed out to me loving your neighbor as yourself does require you to love yourself… despite how selfish we feel like that statement can be. There’s a lot of humility that has to go into loving yourself. There’s a lot of grace you have to give yourself. And half the time we are our own worst critics, so we don’t. We either take responsibility for everything and feel the weight of the world on our shoulders, like everything is our fault, or we want to ignore the things that we’re supposed to take responsibility for. Either way, we become dissatisfied, self-critical, and harmful to ourselves. To the point where we can become so emotionally and spiritually distraught over something that we cannot change or undo. Why? Because were trying to play God when our brains and spirits were not meant to fathom the vastness of our own imperfection. If we were to suddenly become aware of everything we’ve done wrong and everything wrong with us physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually… we would be crushed and suicidal like most of us already are.

That is the whole reason we need God in the first place. For hope. Because to have hope in humanity is to know you will be failed. Even by ourselves.

Not Ready for Monday

A week long struggle with depression and stress at work ended with a coworker being fired Friday mid shift. Stunned by the sudden unexpected event and at least two weeks behind on just about everything, my coworker and I (the only two in for that day after other coworker was fired) ended up having to just call it a day. Both of us had plans afterward and the former coworker was supposed to be the one to stay late. Not that we planned on getting any work done if we stayed because with the shock we just had no idea what to do with ourselves.

Since leaving work Friday afternoon when my shift was over, I’ve had nothing but anxiety about the whole situation. Another coworker of ours has been gone because his father-in-law passed away. His two weeks of absence has probably been stressful enough , and now coming back to work, he’s going to be met with a workload a mile high and a coworker no longer with us that has been there since the beginning with him. None of this is going to go over well with him. He’s moody enough having not had losses in his life. I have a feeling this week is not going to be his week, and I’m afraid of the backlash me and my other coworker will be met with when he finds out.

So this weekend has been tainted with my anxiety in every moment. At the State Fair with friends, I had little to nothing to say, because my heart kept dropping every time I considered how quickly Monday morning was coming. In church this morning I found comfort in the sermon, about how God is with us in everything like he was with Esther, but still my anxiety was so high I couldn’t help but know the impending doom is coming. Yes, God is with us in all things, but that doesn’t mean it’s all easy, it just means God is there to show you what is next if you trust and obey, and for me…what was next is emotionally preparing for things to go badly, because it’s always better to assume that it will go badly, and to hope that there was some kind of pleasant surprise if it doesn’t.

After church I cleaned the whole house, made dinner (even though my husband is not home for dinner because he works the closing shift), and I called my mother to see how she was and try to get outside my own head, but even after all that….I feel so unprepared for Monday morning. I don’t want it to come, and at the same time I want it to have already been so I can say it was gotten over with and I survived it.

At Work

Today was not all it could have been. While I was paying attention to our task list at work before July 4th, others were requesting their vacation time for the rest of the week, including the higher ups who were more focused on their time off than realizing we needed direction on a package design that has artwork due this coming Tuesday. So without direction, with myself and one other designer in for the rest of the week, and employee photos to do all day today and Friday…I can feel myself panicking a little.

I actually stand corrected. I’m here alone for the graphics team tomorrow. And I have a list a mile long for employee photos and other things that need doing, but require approval from my management…who are all on vacation until Monday. When I am not here.

On Monday, I’ll be at the doctors office in the morning and taking the rest of the day to recover from the doctor appointment…which exhausts me to think about. So, I, team member who is doing the food styling and photography for the panel images, is not going to be around to even start the project. Which means that the day the packaging is due…is the only day all of us are back from our vacation time and can actually talk about the design and process, much less get groceries, do the shoot, and finalize the images in photoshop.

It wouldn’t be such an issue if the images did not require food styling. I was never trained in food styling, and my boss and coworkers are satisfied with my work, but because I am not experienced in it, I feel like I take such a long time to do things that my photo shoots for the front and back panels of our packaging take me all day to do. So of course my anxiety is higher than ever knowing our time crunch and many obstacles.

My coworker has been doing her best to calm me down. She keeps telling me “How can we move forward without a direction from the higher ups?” And “It really isn’t any of our faults that everyone took vacation on us without prioritizing tasks.” Not that it’s really helping. Because normally the graphics team is the last brick in the wall, and until that brick is placed, the wall isn’t complete. Us being behind, no matter who held up the process before the graphics team was even involved, means production is held up…and it ends up being our fault. So we get shafted. Which sucks.

So as I sit down here, waiting for employees to come to the photo studio for their photos to be taken, I cannot help but sit in a puddle of sweat, both from the heat and anxiety. Especially when the employees don’t show up for their photo and I have to fight with myself over if it’s really worth it to be doing the shoots today. Especially with so many people unexpectedly on vacation.

Here’s to hoping today and tomorrow go quickly.