What I Learned from My Car Shenanigans

Is anybody sick of hearing me talk about cars yet? I kind of am. I figure there are probably two kinds of readers of this blog. The first kind doesn’t really care about cars as long as theirs (if they have one) gets them from A to B. I am usually in this category myself. The other kind (a much smaller group of my acquaintance, as I imagine, but then again, what do I know?) cares a lot about cars and knows a lot about cars and they can’t wait for me to stop airing my ignorance on the topic.

Well . . . if that’s the case, maybe skip this post.

Here are some things I’ve learned . . . or, at the very least, observations I’ve made . . . since my car accident.

1. Don’t bother driving an Altima into a Silverado. It’s not worth it.

2. Hospital stretchers are uncomfortable and ambulances are not heated.

3. There is a lot of paperwork. Just in general, really. Floating about the universe. No wonder we have environmental problems.

4. I’m not very good at negotiating dollar amounts, but I can kind of do it if I have to. (It helps to have Car-Dealer-Dave around, but even if he isn’t, I’m learning.)

5. In spite of what a Church Guy recently told me before he knew I had already bought another Altima, they’re not bad in the snow as long as their tires are decent.

6. Sometimes “bad” things make sense: If Kermit hadn’t had a weird engine noise, I wouldn’t have discovered the window mechanism was wearing out (long story which, I realise, doesn’t logically make sense when written like I just wrote it. Don’t worry about it). If both those things hadn’t been true it, I would never have taken the car to the dealership on the night of a snowstorm. If I hadn’t taken it to the dealership overnight, my car would’ve been in my own garage, and might still be there, since Mark the Plow Guy can’t get any more of the excess snow out of the way.

7. I don’t ever want to own a Yaris.

8. Chivalry might be dead.

9. I can drive in Boston without killing myself or anybody else.

10. I am becoming so much more familiar with Spaghetti Land, that next New Year’s Eve, if I end up going to First Night in Boston again, I may well be able to find my way out and get to my second party before midnight.

11. I’d rather have a car that ribbits than one that jumps. I’ll accept that Kermit’s engine noise is just his little deal. And I’m happy to have the windows fixed.

12. I don’t want to go car shopping again for a really really really really really really really long time.


Snow on Snow

It wasn’t supposed to snow on Monday, or if it was, everybody missed it because we were all gearing up for the big Nor’easter scheduled for Wednesday. Seriously–the snowstorms this year are becoming events that you can (and should) put on your calendar, so that you can schedule Nothing Productive that day.

As it happened, it did snow on Monday, even thought the weather websites insisted all day that Our Fair City was only going to get “flurries” that day. I shoveled about three inches of flurries off of my long and steep driveway, with Christina Rosetti’s “In the Bleak Midwinter” going through my head the while, most especially the part, Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow. I have never encountered a year where that description was more apt . . . it just keeps snowing and not melting. Sure, we’re New Englanders, and we’re supposedly tough (notwithstanding schools delaying and closing because “it’s too cold”), but you can’t really say this winter is unremarkable. It turned out (if my facebook wall and my mom’s inbox are any indication) that all the northeastern English-major-types were singing “In the Bleak Midwinter” that day.

But that was nothing. On Wednesday, the Nor’easter came as scheduled, and thirteen inches of snow fell on the way-more-than-thirteen-inches of snow that was already there. I was up north of Boston overnight that night while Kermit was back at the dealership waiting for a check-up the following day. I had a rental-Yaris, that ever-so-cute-but-entirely-useless(-and-uncomfortable) Toyota product parked down the street from Seminary-Bonnie’s house. I was staying at Seminary-Bonnie’s house, but useless-rental-Yaris couldn’t make it up her already snow-covered driveway, so I parked it in front of the Methodist-revival chapel around the corner. Seminary-Bonnie lives in a crazy little neighbourhood which, in the snow, looks kind of like a creepy-on-the-basis-of-it-cuteness Santa’s Village or DisneyWorld. The roads are narrow, the houses are tumbled together, and there was snow everywhere.

Including all over and all around the Yaris when I tried to get out the next afternoon. As I set to work with a shovel, two cherry-picker trucks turned up. Between the two of them, there must have been five or six more or less strapping men suddenly in the neighbourhood. Evidently, as I learned later, a snowplow had gotten stuck in one of the tumbled streets, and they were there to help get it out; however, they didn’t all seem to be directly occupied with this task. As I say, there were five or six of them, and I know they saw my struggling away with my shovel and enormous clods of snow–it would’ve been impossible not to–but they either hied themselves off to help the snowplow, or sat inside their trucks, with the engines running.

After I shoveled as little as possible which might still enable me to get out (a task which, nonetheless, probably took me 45 minutes), I tried to . . . get out. But rental-Yaris was not going to comply. Too light even to maneouvre over the small drift that had collected under its own carriage, it slid around and got stuck, and I got more and more frustrated. A little old lady came out of one of the tumbled houses to offer advice, but what I really needed was a push. Finally I got out of the Yaris for the fifth or sixth time, marched over to a cherry picker, and said to the guy in the driver’s seat, “Excuse me. Can you please help me get this car out of the drift?”

“Sure!” he said, and jumped out of the cab, as if he had been totally unaware of my presence for the last hour but was quite happy to be made aware of it and to help it out. And he did, but I couldn’t help spending most of the afternoon muttering under my brain about how dead chivalry is. I didn’t feel like I should’ve had to ask.

Fortunately most of the snow-on-snow was plowed off the roads, and it was still light when I headed back to get Kermit. The GPS in my phone led me right through Boston, so that I can no longer claim never to have driven in that city. Both the rental-Yaris and I survived, and Kermit was ready and waiting for me . . . about an hour after I got back to the dealership. I was happy to leave off the Yaris and get Kermit back.

When I got home, there was a narrow pass through the mountains of plowed up snow on either side of the driveway, and no way to actually pull the car into the garage. And I still had to shovel the front walkway so Oscar could get out and do his thing. It took me another hour, but I’m a stronger person for it. Well, at least my shoulders are.

When Life Hands You Lemons

Maybe “You wanted a green one” won’t be the answer I get when I ask God why I smashed up my brown Altima at the beginning of this month. I don’t know. The verdict is still out.

I have no idea what book it was, but I do have this recollection of a frog in a children’s story when I was too young to read to myself yet, which said something like, “Chugarug, chugarug.” (Bonus points to whomever actually knows what book that is. What are bonus points good for? Well, they raise you in my esteem, which should be just about as good as sliced bread. Right?) Anyway, Kermit the Green Altima has been making a noise rather like that ever since I brought him home. Possibly I shouldn’t have named him Kermit, but it’s too late now: Mark-the-Plow-Guy and TAG and numerous other facebook friends are already, apparently, on a first-name basis with him. (Meanwhile, many of the same people are calling me “Crash.” I probably shouldn’t tell you that.)

Wednesday evening, therefore, if the downgraded storm we were supposed to get then actually stays downgraded, I shall be driving Kermit back up to his dealership for an appointment on Thursday. I’m hopeful that they can sort him out and I can take him back home, but what if he’s a lemon and I have to go back to square one? I’m in a much better mood than I was about a week ago, but I’m getting really tired of dealing with cars. I may just make good on my threat and re-re-locate to London, where I can walk or take the Tube everywhere.

P.S. Has anybody noticed that I am starting to develop my own Sesame Street? I now have an Oscar and a Kermit . . .

Sweet Ride

After breakfast, Car Dealer Dave (who isn’t currently a car dealer, but that’s all right) went with me to look at cars for purchase. My insurance company, for better or worse, decided that what I had done to my car on January 3 was total it, and in order for The Appraiser Guy (who wishes to be known as TAG) to have his kindly-loaned car back, I needed to find something else sooner rather than later. Fortunately TAG and Car Dealer Dave and I had all been scouring the internet for a while, but it turned out that, apart from a Camry I test-drove over the weekend, I only ended up test-driving one other vehicle before putting money down.

It was essentially a replica of the car I crashed. Same year, same make, same model. Same number of miles as my other car had when I bought it. Different colour. It’s green. Every once in a while I’d see a green Altima while driving around in my brown one. I had pretty much made peace with the brown because actually, I like brown, and my dishes and a lot of other things I own are sort of that mushroom-y colour. But I did like the sage-green Altimas a lot. Occasionally I’d think, “Too bad this isn’t a green one.”

Now I have a green one. I like that it’s green, but let me tell you something. If we really do get to ask God all the questions we’ve had down here, as many of us fantasize doing, when I ask Him, “Remember back in 2011 when I smashed my first Altima? What was the point of that?” He says, “You wanted a green one,” I’m going to be pretty hacked for a little bit. I don’t know if anybody gets mad in Heaven–I suspect not–but we might have to make a little exception right then. And it might take a Gospel choir or two to snap me out of it.

We Shall Overcome

Today I had to get up far earlier than anyone should have to get up on a holiday, because I was, along with Pastor Barry and a few other Now-Church friends, attending the annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Community Breakfast held in Our Fair City. I ran into The Item and his new boss The State Rep (both of whom I originally met as Starbucks customers back in the day), which was pleasant, partly because I like them both and hadn’t seen either of them since before Christmas, and partly because neither of them is on Facebook and couldn’t possibly have heard about my car accident. It’s always nice (though not laudable) to find someone new to complain to.

I was not in quite such a foul mood as I had been on Saturday night, nor such a depressed mood as I had been on Sunday morning, but I still was not in the cheeriest frame of mind. It wasn’t helping that mostly I was trying to figure out how to tell my Christian friends who were all concerned about me since Saturday, that no, I wasn’t losing my faith, and yes, I knew I needed to “thank God anyway” and yes, I knew He was going to show Himself faithful and I would be stronger for it, but I was also feeling kind of frustrated that I should feel the need to explain this to Christians at all–especially any who have gone through great suffering of their own, because presumably they would know a) that following Jesus is sometimes rough and b) that this whole thing is a process which doesn’t rush just because we’re uncomfortable when people aren’t thanking God anyway at that moment. At some point the day before I had thought, “I need some Gospel music! That would help.”

It would, too. When I get in funks like this, the simplicity and harmony of Gospel music is one of the only things, humanly speaking, that can pull me out. It might be the only thing. Sure, there’s some theologically dicey or sloppy Gospel music, but that goes for any kind of music that is ostensibly about God, and Gospel music takes the “thank God anyway” sentiment and puts it in a form that I can either ease or throw myself into, as the case requires. One might recall this post, back on my old blog, to know I am not making this up, and that I have known this is true for myself for a very long time.

I finished chatting with my political friends and then went into the gymnasium of the college where breakfast was being held.

Wait. What was that sound?

Well of course it was: a Gospel choir. They were singing to Jesus and they were singing in rhythm and harmony and I wanted to run up there and jump in and sing with them (particularly when it turned out one of the songs was one my college Gospel choir had sung). I didn’t, but there was a smile on my face for the rest of the morning.

The Window-Jesus

Yesterday was tough. I was having what can probably best be described as a “lover’s tiff” with God, and I was at church. I knew things would get better and that, what’s more, I was probably overreacting, but at the moment I was still angry, and being in a place with a whole lot more of God’s people, most of whom aren’t currently fighting with Him (or admitting it, anyway), and a place where, what’s more, I’m in some sort of leadership and it’s my job to encourage people in their own journeys with God, just didn’t quite sit right.

We sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” which I had sung with gusto just the Sunday before in the service at Then-Church, thinking of all the great things God had done in and through my parents and the people there, and I knew it was still true sitting in Now-Church with the weight of the world (or whatever) on my shoulders, but I couldn’t see or feel it, even though my mind assented, and I started to cry. I don’t think I had ever cried in a service at Now-Church until that moment, but once I started, I couldn’t stop.

The Scripture passage was Isaiah 49.1-7, about the Servant (or Jesus) being chosen and frustrated and made to be a light for the Gentiles. The Servant says,

3 He said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”
4 But I said, “I have labored in vain;
I have spent my strength for nothing at all.

It felt so familiar, and then so did the words immediately following:

Yet what is due me is in the LORD’s hand,
and my reward is with my God.”

5 And now the LORD says—
he who formed me in the womb to be his servant
to bring Jacob back to him
and gather Israel to himself,
for I am[a] honored in the eyes of the LORD
and my God has been my strength—
6 he says:
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

Those verses are about someone much greater than I, the sandals of whom I am unworthy to untie. But in the Christian church we’re taught that we are now the representatives of that greater One on earth, and so I don’t think it’s too presumptuous to identify with them a little myself, even though I know salvation itself doesn’t come from me. Anyway. Hearing those words read didn’t exactly comfort me, but almost did–in a conflicting sort of way, where again, I was assenting with my mind, and recognising the God against whom I’ve been railing actually has put Himself in our place and known the frustration and grief of being human . . . but also of not quite being ready to relinquish my anger and not quite being able to. I was still in the “labor in vain” and “spending my strength on nothing at all” phase, and just because the resolution to that comes immediately in the next line in the prophecy-poem doesn’t mean it happens that way in real life, for me or my suffering friends or Jesus, either.

At Now-Church we have this stained glass window of Jesus behind the altar in the chapel where the early Sunday service meets. In the late fall, the light shines through it in just such a way that by the time we go forward for communion, the white parts of Jesus’ robes are glowing so much that all I can think of is the Transfiguration. I love that, and I always think, Sometime this week I’ll bring my camera in here at this time and photograph this,” but I never remember. And maybe it’s better that way. It’s a special moment I have with Jesus, even though I know He isn’t the window and it isn’t Him. I look up at that glass face and still am comforted.

The winter has now progressed enough that if the Window-Jesus’ clothes still become “white as the light” at some point during the day, that point is not during the early Sunday morning service, so I stared at that window and wished for the image to glow, but it never did, and it was kind of how I felt about me and about God right then–looking at that picture of Jesus was still a help, because it reminded me that God really doesn’t ask us to go through anything He wasn’t willing to go through Himself. But the knowledge was not glowing for me right then–it was just in my head, not in my heart and my life at the moment–kind of dormant and thin, like a winter sun. I felt like God was trying to reach out to me, but maybe this time He was on one side of the window and I was on the other, and even though I knew I would want Him to comfort me sometime, it might be at the cost of shattering glass, and I was feeling enough had been broken for a little while.

I hung onto the knowledge and truth in my head because it was all I had at the moment, and I managed to stop crying for communion, which I took even though God and I were fighting, because I knew without that Body and Blood of Christ I would be utterly lost. As soon as the service was over, however, I shook the bemused Pastor Barry’s hand and dashed into my office to hide. Fortunately or unfortunately, two different women from the church found me in there, and each comforted me in her own way; maybe Jesus got on my side of the glass after all. It’s what He’s about, I guess. I have to say if there’s one thing I’ve realised since my car accident, it’s that the people of Now-Church are my family now. If this same thing had happened a year ago, I would’ve probably defaulted to people at Then-Church, but this year, outside of my family, all the first people I contacted were friends from Now-Church. That’s how it should be, I think, and I’m so grateful for that.

After some venting and some hugs and a trip to Lowe’s to buy some seeds I had forgotten to buy during the week for one of our Sunday school workshops, my tear ducts got under control and I was able to lead our Sunday school intro for the day without saying, “Hey kids–I know we’re talking about following Jesus and being His disciples in this unit but it’s hard, so you might want to rethink that,” which is kind of what I had been feeling like saying when I first pulled into the parking lot that morning. I did, during the prayer time, tell them that although following Jesus is always right, sometimes it is hard and I would like it if they would pray for me. I’m not sure any of them got that, but maybe some of the parents and teachers who had been down there did.

In the afternoon, eight teens, one other adult and I went to a nursing home down the street to play Wii-Bowling with some of the residents. The residents were delighted and I think the kids were kind of delighted with themselves–that they had done something together that wasn’t about them. So had I. Maybe things would start looking up more quickly than I anticipated. Like looking up at that window.


Job, Jr.

And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said,

“My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and don’t give up when he corrects you.
For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”

(Hebrews 12.5-6, NLT)

The other day, before she and my dad returned to their Alternate Country, my mother said, “God must love you a whole lot.” She was talking about the car accident and the veterinary bills and all the other crazy things, big and small, that I’ve been experiencing lately. I’m pretty sure most people who aren’t part of the evangelical Christian community would look at her statement and the context and at the very least say, “Huh?” (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

The above verse, and the passage it’s quoting in Proverbs (not to mention the whole Son-of-God-gets-crucified thing), kind of back up her point, though. And she wasn’t being glib about it. She wasn’t trying to make me feel better. I think we were both, in that moment, wishing maybe God would just decide to ignore me a little bit. As Theresa of Avila (I think) told God, if this is how He treats His friends, it’s no wonder He doesn’t have more of them. Or it’s a wonder He has as many as He does. Or something like that. I’m not trying to make light of God’s discipline here. It’s just that it’s hard for me to see those verses as “encouraging words.”

None of the stuff I’m wrestling with is earth-shaking. I need to buy another car now, but Oscar and I are physically fine. I have to pay a co-pay for my annual MRI now, but at least (as far as I know) I haven’t got cancer anymore. The trouble is, I’m kind of getting sick of it all the same. I’m reading the book of Job these days, and even though I’m not sitting in the dirt scratching myself with broken ceramics, I kind of feel like i might as well be. I feel like, to use gambling-esque instead of churchy terms, I just can’t catch a break. I’m tired of everything being so hard all the time. I feel like I got tricked into playing this game, and I’m losing, and I want to back out of it, but I’m not allowed to, so I’m just going to keep losing and losing and losing until the Game-Master says I’m out.

I know. That is a very unorthodox view of God. It’s the kind of thing my agnostic friends posit, and I’m not saying they’re right but I am saying it’s what it feels like right now. I feel like a mini-Job who already knows that at the end of my ranting, God is going to show up and say, “Hey! But guess what? I’m God! And you’re not!” Then I will “despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42.6). It will be sincere, but right now I just feel tired knowing that that is going to be the end of it. I haven’t wanted to really fight with God since probably 2005, and I was kind of hoping (mostly because I didn’t get mad about having cancer) that I had reached a new plane of maturity in my relationship with God and didn’t need to fight with Him anymore. I was hoping I could just take whatever He threw at me and trust Him and be all saintly and Mother-Teresa or 19th-century-missionary about it or something.

Evidently, though? I’m not.

I was talking to the Matchmaker again today and even though he doesn’t quite have the same understanding of God that I do, he’s really good at taking what I say about my faith and talking about it in a way that uncovers its logical conclusion. He suggested that God and I needed to go into couple’s therapy. This idea has actually already been made into a book (which I have yet to read, but I want to). After he said this, though, I thought about it and decided that God and I need to go on a weekend getaway together. I’m not sure how to make this happen at this point, but I think we just need to go somewhere, without the computer, without the iPhone–just a journal, a Bible and maybe a box of paints (and watercolour paper). I haven’t tried to connect with God like this in a long time, and I feel like I have absolutely no idea what he’s saying about any of this car/dog/health/seminary/income stuff.

I’m so overwhelmed with it all, I almost don’t care what He has to say. I’m sick of dealing with this stuff, and I’m sick of dealing with it alone, and I’m sick of having to editorialise the “alone” comment in my head and for all my Christian friends so they know that I know I’m not really alone, because God is with me of course, but come on people. You know you want a person you can see and hear and touch in your life, too. I don’t want to go away and get alone with God because I’m angry at Him and don’t want Him to touch me. But part of me knows I need to, just to have it out with Him again . . . and He can remind me He’s God, and I can repent in dust and ashes . . .

Snow Day (or “Oscar, Did You Eat the Teabag?”)

Yesterday evening I received an email from Pastor Barry authorising Work From Home and Watching the Flakes Fall today, as we were scheduled to have a blizzard. I am okay with blizzards when they don’t affect my travel plans, or when I’m not a Starbucks employee, not paid enough to risk life and limb so that three people in the whole county don’t have to make their coffee at home. I do reserve a small amount of guilt for being okay with blizzards under those conditions, since people I know and care about still are underpaid, life-and-limb-risking Starbucks employees.

Not so much guilt this time, though, because I haven’t had a snowday since 1990. Seriously. Guys, it didn’t used to snow in London. And you don’t get a snow-day when you’re a live-in nanny. And the record-breaking blizzard of 2003 in Denver happened during “spring” break. (It was pretty amazing, though, I have to say. I missed New England’s “Blizzard of ’78,” on account of being a missionary-kid in Honduras, but I’ll bet that one rivaled it.) And, as already mentioned, Starbucks doesn’t grant snow days.

I decided that, Work From Home notwithstanding, this was kind of An Event, so I would treat it as such. I got up an hour later than usual and, after shoveling a small square in the snow which had already reached his nose-height for the shocked Oscar, defrosted some Swedish pancakes and ate them with lingonberries for breakfast. Then I shoveled a little bit more (discovering with every dig that bruising one’s ribcage before a major blizzard is a tactical error), and then I took what my mother likes to call a “Nice Soaky Bath.” I still have this fantasy of one day finding a bathtub that is actually long enough for a freakishly tall woman like myself, but today normal-person-sized bathtub had to suffice. I decided I am probably the only person–at least the only woman–on earth who has read a book about the Modernist/Fundamentalist controversy of the 1920’s in the bathtub.

After that I read some more in comfortable Clothes-That-Feel-Like-Pajamas, on the couch. I didn’t get as much reading done as I had hoped, however, because not only did I do some Work From Home, but I also engaged in discussion with Third Jon, who likes to sniff out heresies, and with the Matchmaker, who is an agnostic, and with the Hotelier, who more or less belongs to, but has issues with, the Catholic Church. I suppose none of these discussions was directly related to the topic I am researching for my 15-page church history paper, but they seemed kind of a propos nonetheless. I think, for example, that it would be fascinating to put the Matchmaker and Third Jon in a room and let them debate. It would probably make for pretty relevant research in the end, too, even though Third Jon couldn’t strictly be called a Fundamentalist, and the Matchmaker isn’t a Modernist in the sense that my paper is about.

After all that, the phone rang again, and it was Dear Friend Paulina. “Hi!” I said, happily, because I like to hear from Dear Friend Paulina. Then I said, “Hang on a minute–Oscar, did you eat the teabag?”

At some point in my afternoon, I had thought it would be lovely to eat Chex party mix and drink a cup of tea, and after the party-mix was gone, I put the teabag in the party-mix bowl so as not to over-stew the tea. I set the bowl on the floor because there are lots of books and phones and pens and charger-cords and stuff all over the higher up surfaces. Oscar was on the couch, too, at the time, so I didn’t think anything about it. There’s no real reason for me, who knows how forgetful I am, to have thought that I would remember it was down there, though. Clearly I didn’t remember it when I went out shoveling for the fourth time. When I answered the phone, I happened to notice that the bowl was still there, and a nice tea-stain was sitting in the bottom of it, but the teabag was gone. Thus, my question.

Oscar looked at me, but naturally didn’t say anything. He doesn’t usually say anything even when he’s being open and honest with me. I was thinking that eating a teabag couldn’t be a good idea in any case, but for an overly nervous canine who has been diagnosed with colitis, a caffeine-laden bundle of leaves was a bad snack choice. Dear Friend Paulina and I got off the phone, promising to catch up soon. As I was about to call the vet, Oscar deposited the contents of the teabag, without the bag itself, in two different spots on the living room rug. This course of action was kind of a relief–probably for both of us–but it did make me ask myself once again: when he vomits, why does he find it necessary to do so on the rug? The hardwood floor was right there.

Never mind. It’s cleaned up, and now it smells like “clean-up” in here, but this too shall pass, as, no doubt, shall the actual bag that housed the tea, in the morning. This, however, in case you were wondering, like so many of the other things that have been packed into this so far very short but already very long year, is a quintessential “Jenn Story.” In case you still haven’t figured out what one of those is. I feel like someone’s playing jokes.


On Sunday, my Then Church had a party.

You should know that thirty-ish years ago, my parents moved to this area of New England with little me and littler Brother-Dave and, with the help of some stalwart families and I would say also God, got a little church started out here.

The church isn’t so little anymore (neither are my brother or I), and it’s still going strong, so last weekend they had a celebration of the anniversary of their existence. My parents were still here from Christmas, so my dad got to preach in the morning. I went to my Now Church and kicked off our new Sunday school rotation (i.e., got the kids all wound up) and then headed over to Then Church for the service. It was a great sermon, and I’m not just being biased (although I probably am a bit biased). The thing that moved me, though, was . . . well, first, just that I was moved, I think.

Somewhere in the last few years before I started working at Now Church, I think I started taking the place for granted or something. And maybe in a way I needed to. I mean, maybe that was the only way I was going to get kicked out of the nest and find the Next Thing at Now Church. I feel like I’m kind of bungling my way through relationships and tasks there, but I also feel like the place is a good fit for me and it’s where God wants me to be for now. But over the weekend I was able  reconnect with things about Then Church that I think I had sort of lost sight of in the familiarity.

For one thing, even though I missed the Slideshow of Embarrassing Photos that was shown that night, a lot of memories came pushing their way back into my head anyway. My favourite ones are definitely of being in youth group myself and literally helping to build the church’s first building. But there were people I hadn’t thought of in years who, if they weren’t physically present either that morning or evening, still made an appearance in my consciousness that Sunday. There have been a few things going on in Then Church recently that trouble me, but as I sat in the second building, I was able to see again the things that they’re doing right, and the things that God has done through that church in the past and is still doing.

I’m working on crying less these days, but I almost cried that morning–tears of gratitude. I’m grateful I grew up with a church. I’m grateful for the memories of youth group there, and for all the adults who so deeply and intentionally invested in me and the other kids. I’m happy that there’s still an emphasis on children and youth and missions. And I’m grateful for parents like mine: flexible but uncompromising in their beliefs and conduct, open-hearted and authentic, devoted to God above all things, but loving their family and their church family as a reflection of that devotion.

As I’ve been mulling over the anniversary and my own heritage within that church, it occurs to me that my parents grew up with that church, too. I’m pretty sure they bungled some relationships and opportunities in those early days just as I’ve been doing at Now Church. But maybe–and I truly hope this is the case–I can see not only my past through my parents. Maybe they can also give me a vision for my future. I really pray that God will ultimately live through my life as clearly and effectively as He’s living through theirs.

Puppy Update

Somehow, taking Oscar to the vet was internally nerve-wracking today. I’m starting to have a lot better handle on the whole PTSD phenomenon. At least as far as physical effects on me or my dog are concerned, last week’s accident wasn’t that bad. However, it doesn’t take much to freak me out when it comes to driving right now. Therefore, I can see how someone experiencing worse trauma could have a whole lot worse time recovering healthy and normal thought patterns and reactions to certain stimuli–or the anticipation of such. Today, just embarking on the same trip which was so unhappily interrupted last Monday, was, in certain moments, almost more than I could psychologically handle.

Fortunately, there was no one to bail me out so I just had to push through the psychology, and it was mild enough so that I could. Oscar and I made it both to the vet and back from the vet, and we survived, and my friend’s car survived, and what’s more, Oscar’s original ailments are actually treatable. I mean, treatable without excessive expense.

Apparently he has colitis, mostly likely on account of being such a nervous little animal. I have to give him some antibiotics, modify his diet for a while, and tell his fan club at church that they can’t feed him any treats for the rest of the week . . . unless, I suppose, I can find some sort of probiotic dog treats they can give him. Anyway. I’m just relieved he doesn’t have cancer or something like that. In many ways, Oscar and I are a lot alike. I was just hoping it wasn’t that way. So I’m glad it isn’t. There was some discussion, however, of putting him on Prozac . . .