Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Running on faith...

Okay how long have you known me? If you've known me a LONG time you probably know that I did the whole...go to church and get baptized thing...when I was in high school. And then I had Kevan and pretty much gave up on the church. Some people were not so nice. When I married Daren...a confirmed agnostic who used to be an atheist so at least we're making progress...I pretty much walked away from it all.

I've always pretty much kept whatever I was feeling to myself. I'm a big believer in everyone's beliefs being valid for the most part. And I've never felt compelled to tell someone that they were going to hell because they believed something different from me. (Except maybe for Mormons but that's a whole other blog...)

When my mom died and people came up to me and harassed me (okay it felt like harassment at the time okay?) about not having my kids in church, I pretty much drew the line in the sand and convinced everyone that I was NOT a Christian anymore. I was hurting though and just wanted to be left alone about it.

The thing is, no matter what I've ever said to anyone or done or whatever; even though I've gone through some periods of doubt...I've never stopped believing. I felt like I needed to keep my mouth shut about it for a long time because of my marriage (maybe that's why it didn't work?) because I felt persecuted if I even mentioned it.

Reading the Christopher Moore book "Lamb" and then reading "The DaVinci Code" didn't make me question whether or not God and Jesus were real the way some right-wingers thought those books would. What they did for me was to solidify in my mind what my heart was already telling me...that Jesus was a real guy and he had this life that he gave up for what he believed. I'm not opposed to the idea of him having a kid or a wife or a best friend named Biff. Those things don't make me pull away...they make me want to be closer to him. If he was this perfect creature then it was no biggie for him to give it all up. But if he had this cool life with friends and a wife and a kid, the sacrifice was bigger. I can appreciate it all the more.

Okay. So let's get this out there once and for all. I am a Christian. That's gonna be a shock to some people. I feel the need to say it. I know I don't walk the walk OR talk the talk. I need to do a better job but basically, I'm a good person. I don't lie, cheat, steal. or tolerate those who do. (Okay so that's from the honor code I signed as a Freshman at Converse but it still applies) I've never killed anyone. I'm pretty sure I'm guilty of some gluttony and adultery now and then. But I'm pretty clean on the big 10 and the seven deadly for the most part.

The last few months have really tested me. I'm a firm believer in the concept of everything happens for a reason and when it's supposed to. What I don't usually add to that for fear of offending people (and yeah...I'm not gonna change on this one) is that I believe that stuff happens because it's part of a bigger plan that I have no control over.

That's not to say that we should just sit on our asses and not do anything and just wait for God to put us where he wants us. I do think that when he doesn't like the way things are going....those things will change. I've seen evidence of this a LOT in the last few months.

Some examples... MOST people don't know this but when I first started working at St. Francis, I had a really hard time going on the nursing floors. For MONTHS I couldn't go on the floors without getting upset. I had spent so much time up there when my mom was sick...before hospice...that I freaked out whenever I went into a room that I could picture her in.

Another thing to note is that my dad has worked at St. Francis for about 10 years longer than me. Everyone knows him. Everyone loves him. The reason this is important is because when I lost my job I thought my world was pretty much coming to an end but two days later we found out my dad has lung cancer and I felt this peace that I can't explain. As distressed as I was about not having a job...I was that much happier that I didn't have to be in that place where my dad is always just around the corner. Even though he's still here and still doing chemo and still fighting the good fight...he's not THERE. And to have to face that every day...and all those people who probably mean well but who would be constantly on me about it... Well that was just about the biggest blessing I can imagine.

So then I lost my house. And a good portion of all of my stuff. Mostly that was a freak out until I realized that I just had too much STUFF. And it's just stuff anyway you know? I had ample time. I didn't lose anything this time that I will wake up having nightmares about missing like I have in the past. I would have kept trying to hold on to that house and all that stuff and God knew that it was pointless. That eviction was a blessing.

Well you know by now that I have moved in with my ex husband. How in the hell is THAT a blessing??? LOL Well... I'm spending time with my kids. They didn't have to spend the summer unsupervised. I was able to get Kirin to cheer practice. We were able to be the house where the neighborhood kids hung out for a couple of months. Daren worked all day everyday so we had kids over for Xbox games most of the time. My kids got to make friends and now they're a part of this neighborhood. They've never had that. If I hadn't been here they wouldn't have gotten to do that. Blessed.

I really fell hard for someone. I made the mistake of being honest about it and I think I scared the hell out of him. For whatever reason...and I'm not questioning it...things never worked out for me to go see him. Good thing. Cause the Saturn would NOT have made it. All those trips to Savannah and the trip to Destin and the car did great. But driving across town to see someone that I honestly (in hindsight of course) had no business going to see...and the car just died. I'm sure God had a point that day but...I'm not perfect...I went anyway and had a couple of stiff drinks to boot. The blessing in all this is that Mark acted the way he did and I didn't get stranded somewhere between here and Suwannee. (Still waiting to see what the blessing in not having a car is! LOL)

All these jobs interviews and talks with recruiters and resumes submitted... and NOTHING. The thing with TSYS would have been a great job but I would have been away from the kids a lot. Then Daren lost his job too and we agreed that whichever one of us gets a job out of town would help keep things going back here so the kids don't have to be moved. He basically said to me..."If I get a job out of town, will you please stay here in the house with the kids and let me pay the bills? You can get a part time job to cover your expenses but I'll pay the rent and utilities and pay for the food...I'm just tired of moving them around."

I agreed of course. Seems like a blessing. I can finish school and get my MBA knocked out and get back on my feet. Just have to find Daren a job somewhere that will pay him what he's worth. I had to just have a talk with God and let him know that I was being as patient as I know how but....you know....could we maybe get the show on the road?

Last night in class I pretty much broke down on break and three of the most beautiful...wonderful...loving...caring...women I've ever had the pleasure to know... They talked to me. They told me to stop being negative. They told me that it will happen. They told me to be open to God's plan. I tried to explain that I'm not a generally negative person but that I'm just about at the bottom of what I can handle and that the only thing that is keeping me going is knowing that my dad is still around.

This morning I called Manpower about the job that I talked to them about last week. For some reason (blessing?) the background check still hasn't come through. I asked her what else she has. She told me that she had two positions but that they both paid about 2/3 of what I was looking for and that one of them was only part time. I asked where they were and one was in South Columbus and the other was only a couple of miles away. Of course the part time one was closer. She asked me if I could interview at 10:30. I looked at the clock and it was 9:15. I told her I'd be there.

She called me back with the address and the name of the person doing the interview. I googled the organization and was pretty much skeptical and dumbfounded at the same time. (Don't worry...I'll link you at the end) This small, non-profit, Columbus, GA based organization is the support for this very large system of homes in India and Africa for widows and children.
I got to the interview and all the rules for interviewing went out the window. The woman talking to me asked me a question about St. Francis and I pretty much lost it and told her that I felt I was taken out of that situation for a reason. I got all teary eyed. Then she told me how she wound up there. We BOTH got teary eyed then. When she told me that the person who is vacating this position is her sister and told me why she was leaving...I pretty much couldn't contain myself.

We talked about the organization and what needed to be done. We talked about the strategic plan, the marketing, the need for globalization of the donor base...We talked about what we could do to fix things that just aren't working. Oh and did I mention that I just spent all this time in class studying about globalization and specifically in the issues concerned with moving into India???

Then we kinda remembered that I was interviewing for a job as a data entry person. LOL She asked me about my typing skills. I told her they're pretty good. I self correct and that slows me down but my accuracy is through the roof!

And then she asked me where I go to church. I told her I'm a member of record at Fairview Baptist but that to be honest I don't attend services. I told her that I had to be honest and that I don't believe that there is any point in telling other people that they're going to hell. She informed me that they have Bible study every morning from 8:30 to 9 and then they have chapel. They also pretty much insist that all employees be a part of this. She told me that they have one employee in India who is Hindu but that they all pray for her really hard.

I left there thinking that there is no way in hell these people are going to want me around. I'm pretty much a heathen most of the time. I argue about most of the things I read in the Bible. I'm not a quiet, unassuming, chapel-attending kinda girl. That being said... I think there is a place for me in their organization. Even if it's for a short time. I called Manpower and told her all this and she apologized for not giving me a heads up on the situation prior to sending me in but that it all happened so fast...

Then she called me back. Terry really liked me. She thinks that my strong personality will keep me from getting run over by the other women in the office. They want me to do a skills assessment. They're going to email it to me and I'll do it and send it back or whatever. My skills are fine. (There are those who say I have mad skills! LOL)

Jenny from Manpower asked me if I was going to be okay going there. I told her that it actually works for me. The hours are 8:30 to 1:30 so I'd be done in time to get home before the kids. No long afternoons. No late nights. No people who don't understand why my kids are the most important thing. Plenty of time to get my homework done.

Plus here's the thing... I feel like all this other stuff that has been breaking me down... I feel like I'm supposed to be there. Does that make sense? I feel like this is what I need for ME right now and that I can make a difference for these people too. If something happened to daddy I feel like this is the kind of environment I need to be in. Not like at St. Francis where I felt the need to finish the daily report before I could go to be with Debbie and everyone when Aunt Dot died. I think these people would be more supportive than that.

So anyway... I guess I'm just trying to explain what I've been going through. I know this is probably a huge shock to some people. Most folks probably think that I'm just the vapid, shallow person... LOL I really do have a lot of stuff going on inside. I'm just good at hiding it.

Oh! And the website is http://www.hopegivers.org/ Who knew this existed in Columbus, GA???

Friday Night Lights

I've been to a lot of high school football games in my day. When I went to Shaw I went to nearly every home game for four years. When I wasn't at a Shaw game, I was at a Smithstation game watching my cousin. Since graduation I've been back for a few homecoming games and I've spent a lot of time down in the end zone with GB while he was paid to keep the peace. I even went to a JV game or two with Kevan when Northside first started playing.

Nothing...none of it...prepared me for tonight. Kirin made varsity cheerleader her first time out as a freshman. We've been really excited about it for a few months but up til now it's just been lots of practice and theory. We didn't know how things were really going to be.

What we did know is that Shaw has one of the best programs in the state. Two years ago they were state champs. Last year the only team we lost to in the regular season was Carver...the eventual state champs. We know that Shaw has a good, strong squad. We also know that Carver lost last week to Central in Phenix City....and that we had to play Central for our season opener.

Kirin had dinner with the squad at Ruby Tuesday and we picked her up in time to take her to the game. Daren, Kirin, the boys, and I got to the stadium at 6:45 for an 8:00 kickoff. It was hot and sunny and I just KNEW it was going to be a bad time. At first there was grumbling about it being hot and us having to wait so long for the game to start.

Then the sun went down. The stands filled with loyal fans, proud parents, and teenagers who just wanted to be seen. The band, what there was of them, marched in loudly playing cadence on the drums. The flag girls were in perfect formation and properly regimented. Central's band took the field to play the National Anthem and we stood to honor the flag...most of us anyway.

The kickoff was a little shaky and Shaw took possession with pretty good field position. It only took a couple of plays though and a Raider broke loose and ran in for our first touchdown of the night. The band started the fight song, the cheerleaders danced, and the parents yelled. There was a penalty on the extra point and on the second attempt they failed to get it through the uprights.

Shaw 6 -- Central 0

It didn't take long for Central to even the score. They unsucessfully attempted a two point conversion and the score was tied at 6 all.

Shaw 6 -- Central 6

Shaw couldn't be kept down. We ran the ball back in for another touchdown and this time went for two to make up for losing the extra point before. Shaw intercepted the ball and scored again. It went on like this until half time when Shaw was up by a couple of TDs.

Shaw 26 -- Central 14

The third quarter was fairly slow. But with five minutes left in the fourth quarter, the game took off like a lighting bolt. Central scored again to bring them within 5 points.

Shaw 32 -- Central 27

Central kicked off to Shaw with a little over 2 minutes on the clock. We knew we had to score or run the clock out. The kickoff went deep into the end zone so we took possession at our 20 yard line. We weren't making any forward progress and on the 3rd down, the quarterback dropped back to pass and was sacked for a loss of several yards.

We had no choice but to punt. Our only hope was to keep them out of the end zone until the clock ran out. Less than two minutes to go. We held them on the first couple of plays but they kept charging. The clock was running down and they kept getting first downs.

With about 90 seconds on the clock they ran the ball in for a touchdown. Central's crowd went wild. Shaw's fans saw the flag though. We yelled and hollered as the referree marked off the 15 yard penalty. They had to go 20 yards in a minute and a half to beat us.

Shaw's crowd was louder than I can ever remember hearing them. The cheerleaders were doing their very best. Even the football players on the sidelines were encouraging the crowd to get on their feet.

First play we held them. Second play we held them again. Third play they got through and made it to the 11 yard line and a first down. First down they made it 2 yards to the nine. Second down we held them back. Third down they made it a little closer.

Fourth down. 45 seconds on the clock. They were on the 1 yard line. We did our best but they made it over the line by inches. Central scored. Shaw was in shock but managed to deny Central the two point conversion.

Shaw 32 -- Central 33

We now had 39 seconds in which to move the ball down the field for at least a field goal to defeat our first team of the season. The team who...just last week...beat our rivals 27 - 14 in an unofficial preseason game. The crowd was so full of hope and enthusiasm that even Daren was on his feet and couldn't sit down.

First attempt at a pass was complete for a 10 yard gain and a first down, but the player failed to get the ball out of bounds so the clock was still running. Next was a run but only for a few yards. The next pass was incomplete but the clock stopped with 10 seconds to go.

The play started, our quarterback dropped back for a bomb and sent it sailing to his receiver who appeared to be fairly open. A player from Central hit him from the right so hard that he lost his helmet and missed the catch. The clock ran out. We lost the game.

Final Score

Shaw 32 -- Central 33

It was, without a doubt, the best night of high school football that I have ever watched. It was even better than the night Dan Kosobucki kicked the field goal in over time that put Hardaway on top of Shaw and made Danny Little cry.

I wasn't prepared for the pride I would feel while watching my daughter cheer...and Michael Ryan run...and the band play the fight song. I was a little overwhelmed by the emotion that I felt every time they scored a touchdown. I was unprepared for the love I felt for Kevan and Tiel for their coming to watch Kirin and the way that Kevan got along with the boys...and even Daren...to watch the game. I was REALLY unprepared for the joy I felt when Daren was explaining the game to James, who may still decide to play next year.

Tomorrow UGA plays Ga Southern. It'll be bigger boys, with more polish, and more on the line. It'll mean hearing the Redcoat band play Glory every time GA gets across the line. We'll get to see the new UGA for the first time.

But it won't be like tonight. Tonight was about heart. Tonight I was proud, once again, to be a Raider.

Why am I here?

Well here's the thing... I had this great blog YEARS ago but it seems to have disappeared. No worries. Nothing that I say is THAT relevant anyway. And, to quote Hillary Clinton, "Every moment wasted looking back, keeps us from looking forward."

With that being said... I'm going to copy some of my MySpace blogs over here so that those friends of mine who haven't succumbed to the soul sucking social network of choice, can still find out what's been going on with me.

Careful about rushing to judgement based on my posts though. If you think I'm talking about you...I'm probably not. Don't get your panties in a wad. Just read the words for what they're worth and move on.

Let's waste some time....