Venting and Mega Churches

So I saw this post on Facebook today that got me heated, but I chose not to respond because I’m not about losing my temper on social media … Been there. Done that. Felt like an idiot. So I thought I’d vent/rant here instead…
This post I saw was politically driven… as most social media posts are generally speaking these days, even in non-election years. The post – I refuse to post it here – showed a picture of the inside of a “mega church” and was captioned “instead of building mega churches, how about we build mega homeless shelters” … … … 😒. 

The person that posted this is a vocal atheist that more than likely doesn’t realize how shortsighted and hypocritical some of their anti-religion (most specifically anti-Christian) posts are since while they are preaching inclusion they are tearing down an entire group of people that want the same thing … apparently they haven’t read the Bible … or if they have, they cherry picked what fit into their already cynical view of the faith they clearly know nothing about. 

Here are my issues with this post …

1. Mega churches make up a FRACTION of churches in the world but this post assumes mega churches are popping up like weeds. Many churches around the world are small groups of people meeting in secret in someone’s living room or dirty basement. The vast majority of churches cater to small communities and congregations where everybody knows everybody. (Mega churches offer anonymity while searching for faith which many people need in this world of anti-Christians – personally I prefer a church that feels like home. Mega churches don’t do it for me.)

2. This post vilifies the amount of money it takes to build a “mega church” in that it showcases a tv evangelist’s church. This flashy church with its many cameras, bright lights, and thousands of seats probably did cost a pretty penny to build … So instead of building this church with all that money, why wasn’t it just given away? … well because tv evangelist mega churches like this one put faith in reaching people and inspiring them to seek God and while doing so giving to those in need in their community as God calls us to do. It costs money to get the message to people that don’t even know they need it until they hear it. 

3. Finally, and mostly, this post suggests that building homeless shelters actually solves the problem of homelessness … 😳. While a homeless shelter helps a short term problem for an individual in that it keeps them off the street during inclement weather, provides them with a couple meals, and gives them resources to get back on their feet, it is by no means a solution to their problem. So instead of building homeless shelters, we ought to focus on things that actually help them in the long run -i.e. Job placement, hygiene assistance, mental health assistance (considering a great deal of our homeless population suffer from a mental illness this one is a big deal), and how about destigmatization of their predicament … a homeless person is still a person, not a lesser animal, criminal, lazy, deadbeat or any other monicker we greater humans with roofs over our heads throw at them as we pass them on the street – Empathy goes a long way to fixing this people problem. 

What this post does is draw attention to a small population within the Christian community that doesn’t represent the whole but condemns the whole just the same. As if the majority of Christians, or generally people of faith, don’t actually practice what they preach and instead they go to these mega churches and bathe in success while doing nothing for their fellow human as they are called to do … this is a huge stereotype that just needs to stop. 

Oh and by the way most homeless shelters are established and staffed by churches … what some consider to be “mega churches” since they are denominational and part of a great whole of churches…. i.e. the Catholic Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Episcopal Church, etc. AND most homeless shelters would cease to exist if not for donations from those no good people of faith that don’t give two rips about those in need. 

😤 end rant –

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… So … I’ve been avoiding you …

I have a confession to make … I’ve become aware that I’ve been subconsciously avoiding this blog for a little while. I think this happens every time I start a blog … something tells me to stop writing, that no one reads it, so what’s the point – I don’t even care if no one reads it, that’s the really weird part … and before I realize it, I just stop.  Its like exercising … funny, I haven’t been doing that much lately either. That’s probably why I keep getting headaches.

I’m a sufferer of mild to severe migraines. They used to happen once a month religiously (or more if I was stressed about something or in need of seeing the chiropractor). I realized a few years ago that I don’t have quite as many migraines when I am more consistent about working out … so you’d think I’d be more religious about working out huh? … Well … that’s the thing about religion … it takes discipline … so naturally I’m terrible at it.

This is something I’ve actually never thought about … what would happen if I treated exercising like going to church? I hate missing church … I always feel like I’ve missed an important lesson or I just feel out of sync the rest of the week … Can I make myself hate missing a workout?

I was listening to a podcast the other day – I won’t mention the title, I’m not into free advertising – it was one of those “makes you think” podcasts about the meaning of work. It’s an hour long podcast, but here’s the gist – the way you view your work and whether or not you’re happy doing it boils down to your state-of-mind. If you hate your job because of xyz, instead of focusing on xyz and start focusing on abc. For instance, if you hate your job because your commute sucks and you’re exhausted when you get to work and when you get home because other drivers are idiots … stop focusing on the idiots … find something about your drive you like and focus on that … for example: That jerk cut me off, but this Alicia Keys song I’m singing my heart out to is so awesome I think I’ll play it a couple more times; or OMG this traffic is moving sooooo slowly I may get through this hour long podcast that is so interesting I didn’t even notice I’m almost home now … I think I’ll sit in the car and finish listening to this before going in.

Do you see what I mean? What can I focus on instead of the things I hate about working out so that maybe I’ll hate missing my workout as much as I hate my podcast getting interrupted by my unfortunately early arrival at my destination? Here … I’ll make a likes and dislikes list for working out … keep in mind my chosen work out is Crossfit …

Dislikes: It hurts, I have to wake up stupid early to do it, it hurts, I’m socially awkward at my gym, it hurts, I get a little anxiety about socializing at the gym, it hurts …

Likes: Results, learning/mastering new movements, hitting a new personal record, the crossfit community is pretty awesome – despite my social awkwardness, the way I feel when I’m on track …

OK – those are pretty good lists … I think I might focus on the pain of working out a little too much, but honestly, it’s the social aspects that are my real hinderance to getting my b-u-t-t out of bed in the morning. The crossfit community and being social at the gym are supposed to be what keep you coming back … my problem is I think I care too much about what they think of me while I’m there and what they’re saying about me when I’m not there – more specifically the women at the gym … … I have more issues socializing with other woman than I do socializing with men … I think maybe because I have A LOT more experience socializing with men given my experience in the navy …

Anyway … maybe if I stop focusing on being social and just focus on my goals and feeling good in my body … It’ll start to feel like church …

I’m going to give this a try … I’ll let you know how it goes … hopefully I get out of bed in the morning … I’m already feeling anxious.

Staturday nights at Grandma’s

A quick memory … 

** Names have been changed to protect the innocent 😉 **

It’s Sunday morning and I’m getting kicked in the face. Irritatingly, this happens every Sunday morning at Grandma’s.

Saturday night, after stopping by for dinner, my sister – Peggy – and I begged and begged to stay with Grandma for the night. We had been playing with our cousins for the last hour and we just weren’t ready to leave! Grandma looked at Grandpa and laughed. We were always welcome to stay, and our parents knew that. 

After they left I never thought about what they did with this kid-free time … My parents probably went to a bar or simply just went home, I don’t know – I didn’t care … I was at Grandma’s and the six of us had big plans for the evening!

My grandparent’s “wreck room” was perfect for fort building. Well all picked out our corners and got to work immediately. Within a few minutes the room was a maze of blankets only we could navigate. 

My corner was always by the back door behind Grandpa’s chair. It was perfect and I imagined living there the rest of my life. I used my favorite crocheted afghan for the roof. It was mostly black – my favorite color – and had pink and  purple flowers in the center of the motifs. When light shown through the holes it reminded me of stained glass. I could have stayed under that blanket forever. 

The next thing I knew it was bath time. We had to go three at a time. Grandma split us up by age. Peggy and I and our only boy cousin – Ryan – got the first round. This was a normal occurrence at Grandma’s. Peggy and I didn’t have brothers, Ryan was the closest we ever got. 

After bathing, all of the girls took turns getting our hair done in pin curls and rollers – just like Grandma. We would fight over who got to help Grandma with her hair. Ultimately she would make us take turns – even Ryan got a turn. 

After we were all did up, we got root beer floats in old Coke glasses. The perfect ending to the night. Grandma made us take down the fort before tucking us into my aunt’s old brass bed. Three pointing one way and three pointing the other. Somehow I always ended up with Ryan’s feet in my face. 

In the morning those are the feet that would wake me up. Just in time for church. Catholic Mass at the little white church was never my favorite part of Saturday nights at Grandma’s, but I think my love of old buildings started there … A story for another time. 

Snowbird?

I’ve just registered my daughter for the 3rd grade … Sigh. Summer is almost over. It’s been a busy one for sure.

** To make things a little easier, hence forth my daughter shall be “L” and my husband shall be “D” … So it is written … so it is done **

I haven’t written in a while. I have no real excuse, but I did do some traveling! I went home. Alaska in the summer time is the best. I’m too much of a whimp to brave the cold in the winter along with the rest of the tourists (not that I’m calling myself one of those – dirty name calling doesn’t suit me). I admitted to the possibility a few months ago that I can no longer claim to be “from Alaska” any more … Sure I grew up there, but I couldn’t live there again. TOO COLD for this Texas girl … I’m sure I’d get used to it again though.

Funny thing is that D and I actually discussed moving back while we were there. That was my fault – putting the idea in his head. I miss my family and the history I have in Alaska. Not to mention L is an only child (this will not change – keep you opinions to yourself, it’s none of your business) and she has a few cousins up there that I would love her to grow up with. D was stationed in AK while in the Army (other than fate, this is why we met – Not how … how is a whole other story). He likes to say that I was the best thing about Alaska … ok – that’s a little embellishment … he just never wanted to live there again since we left. Then all of a sudden, I put this idea into his head (ultimately he wanted to make me happy whatever the cost) and his wheels started turning. He started dreaming. Oh Lawd when that boy dreams it gets serious. So I pulled the reins a bit … by a bit I mean I squashed the idea.

Not only would leaving Texas mean leaving the job he loves (love is a strong word, but he really enjoys it), chances are he wouldn’t find something in the same field, nor would he be happy with the pay … or the cost of living in Alaska. He knew all of this, so it only took a little reminding and we agreed … no moving to Alaska. At least not until we retire … … Then we can summer there … 😉

Do you remember pen pals?

In elementary school, we would have blocks – I don’t remember what grade we were in – where we would get a list of kids in a school somewhere else in the world and we would write them letters. I thought this was the neatest thing back then.

The last pen pal I had was from Australia. I don’t remember all of the specifics of those letters, but I do remember that every pen pal I ever had asked the same opening questions to us Alaskans. We would have a good chuckle and crinkle our eyebrows … it was the 90’s surely they didn’t actually believe any of this:

Do you live in an igloo?

Do you have a dog sled?

Is there snow all year round?

Is it true the sun never comes up in the winter?

Certain movies of that time frame probably perpetuated those assumptions. North for example. If you don’t know it, it was an Elijah Wood movie from 1994. One of those kid movies where the main character decides he doesn’t like his parents so he looks for new ones. This movie consisted of so many cultural stereotypes it would have never been made today since it would have offended too many people. The family in Alaska of course lived in a huge igloo with a team of dogs that took them everywhere. I was in the 4th grade (I think) when it came out.

As I got older people would and still do ask these questions. I don’t get it. I guess it’s similar to having a famous name and having people ask you if you’re related or something (think Office Space and Micheal Bolton). If you think you’re being funny, you’re not … insert eye roll here.

All that being said, I miss letter writing. I think I might pick that up again. I’d need a pen pal though. I used to write my favorite aunt who lived in Anchorage at the time. I loved getting letters from her … but that was all before email, text messaging, social media, etc. It would be cool to find someone new and random to write to … to the Google! I’ll see if there’s a pen pal matching service or something.

Where to start?

So I lost my job recently. That is probably the best reason I can give for starting to blog again. Not having a job during the summer months means I get to spend a whole lot of time with the kiddo, do yard/house work, read, travel, and sit on my bum. Blogging seems like a better alternative to sitting on my bum … at least for some of the time.

I’m not sure I know where to start this blog. I often start with where my life is currently and go from there, but that often leaves out too much back story and I have to explain a lot … So … Lets start at the very beginning … a very good place to start?

I grew up in Alaska. Depending on where I am in the country, that either elicits surprise, intrigue, or a “that’s nice dear”. I tend to like the intrigued reaction the best. Surprise is eye-roll worthy for me. Since moving away from Alaska, I’ve meet more people with ties to Alaska than I thought possible growing up, so I don’t really understand why it’s so surprising to people any more. Living in Texas and being from Alaska should garner no more surprise than living in Texas and being from Vermont.

Intrigue makes the most sense. Alaska is unlike any other state in the union. Where most state’s populations are pretty even throughout the state, Alaska’s major cities are miles apart. Anchorage and Fairbanks, the 2 largest cities (last I checked), are over 360 miles apart. In between them are dozens of tiny towns and villages with populations smaller than the neighborhood I currently live in. The population of Dallas is more than the population of the entire state by almost a half million people. Think of the ratio of land to people given Alaska has 660,000 square miles of land to Dallas’ 380. These facts, as well as many others, made growing up in Alaska different by far. Intrigue makes sense and opens the door to conversation.

I love Alaska. The Last Frontier will forever be my home. My family has lived in the great state since the Gold Rush in 1898. I’ve had relatives referenced in Alaska history books. I will always have family there. I have no doubt of that. Currently, my parents, 3 sisters, grandmother, a host of aunts and uncles, and dozens of cousins reside in the state with no plans of leaving any time soon. I love them for this. It gives me excuses to visit as often as I can.

Being that we arrived with the Gold Rush, you can rightfully assume that we came for the gold. Until the early 1990’s, my family’s mine was active every summer. I spent the best summers I can remember out there; catching algae in the creek and playing hide and go seek around the cabin with my cousins. If I needed a break, my dad would take me for a ride in the cat; 4/5 year old me called it the cat but it was a CAT front end loader. Dad would let me steer or shift on occasion. I only ever put it in the ditch once … or so my grandma tells me.

I was pretty young, but I still remember the smell of the dirt running through the sluice box, getting yelled at for wondering too close to the CAT while dad was moving dirt, running from bees in the woods, the night we had a bear in camp, eating grape jelly on my pancakes, and sneaking into the closet to eat Grandpa’s candy when no one was looking. Memories I wouldn’t trade for any “normal” childhood that’s for sure. I don’t have many stories to tell since I was barely 6 when price of gold dropped enough that it was more expensive to run the place than we were dredging up, and my memories are hazy at best, but I lived 19 years in that state; there are other stories to tell. No doubt.

This isn’t my first time

This isn’t my first time blogging. I’ve tried this many times before and it normally doesn’t work out for a number of reasons. Mostly I get busy and I forget that I have a blog. This happens to me with journals as well. I’m just not good at commitment … that’s something my husband probably would have liked to know [read that as a joke … because it is one]. This is my way of apologizing in advance for the content, or lack there of, that will grace these pages in the future.

I collect journals. This is something I’ve mentioned in other blogs and to the majority of people I consider friends (a tiny clue to my identity). I like journals. I like the crispness of the paper. The precise lines on the pages. The crinkling noise the spine makes when I open to a middle page. I like the idea of journaling – putting my thoughts on a page to later be picked up and read by great great grand children when I’m long dead – sounds like something from a movie or the makings of a good book. But when I go to write those thoughts, I feel like what I have to say isn’t good enough to soil the pages. So they sit empty in a box somewhere.

The internet is an amazing place. Blogging feels less poetic than journaling … I can make mistakes and just hit the delete button … or delete the entire blog if I feel like it. Also, a little confession, my handwriting is atrocious (they say that’s a mark of a genius – HA!) and I type faster than I write, so typing is the easier medium for me anyway. That said, with the amount of smut that is all over the internet, my thoughts suddenly feel like they may be worth putting to paper … digital paper anyway.

I have no delusions of grandeur here. I am well aware that my husband may be the only person I know to ever read this blog and I am more than ok with this. His opinion is the only one that matters in this arena anyway. He says most blogs fall into 2 categories; those written by people because they want readers, and those written by people because they have something to say and they are passionate about it, readers be damned [that last part is me]. I am clearly writing in the later category.

I have little hope for this blog, only that it will last longer than the others and I intentionally take time to write in it. I don’t hope that my readers enjoy it … that’s a given. I don’t hope that it helps my readers in some way … that’s a happy outcome however. I’m not writing this blog for readers, I’m writing this blog for me. I unapologetically don’t care what you think.

This is my life …