Sunday, November 30, 2008

I continue to be amazed!

LATER: Chabad continues to inspire me. More, "What can I do?" They let people who are really worked up pledge mitzahs. Isn't that great? The emphasis isn't on money because not everyone can contribute and prayers are vital. Doing mitzvahs in the memory of the deceased rabbi and his wife are a huge honor and I will bet that his is making their parents smile through their tears as people promise to put up mezuzah, read a portion of the Torah, one guy promised to open his hart while reading the Torah because it's gotten habitual for him, they are lighting Shabbat candles, etc. Check it out!

In an article, someone asked why the rabbi and his wife were not protected and didn't want to hear the crap about the Holocaust, why in this day and age, didn't G-d protect the rabbi and his wife? I will quote them here:

When Chabad was an underground movement in Communist Russia, activists were being sent to Siberia every second day. Many were tortured in interrogation and left to rot in their prison cells. The same question could have been asked then. The answer would have been the same: Send another rabbi to replace him.


The main thing now is not to ask those questions. The main thing now is to help one another to be strong and rebuild. The orphan needs your help. The Jewish community of Mumbai needs your help. That's where the money we collect will be going. Direct your outrage in a positive path.

This is, "pick up and keep going." Don't slow down,there is work to do.

There is another article about prayers. After the attacks there was concern at CNN about the rabbi and his wife and people were praying and someone wrote in and asked where the prayers went.

This is part of that response: As for us, down here in this mundane world, we are not mean to understand. Understanding brings complacency. We are meant to be outraged that such evil exists in our world. We are meant to fight back and destroy it. Not to leave that up to G‑d and His wisdom--but to do all we can that the world should be filled with such light that such a thing could never happen again.

I see the whole attack as a tragedy and cannot take my eyes off the fact that some survived-- including their baby son, who shares a birthday with Mudd. What gets to me is the responses have answered a lot of my own questions. I miscarried and a (Jewish) doctor who I still think of was very empathetic told me something to the effect of, "You are supposed to be mad! G-d set it up that way, you are a mother and you want to take care of your children, born and not yet born. . ." then he explained to me how amazing it was that so often I was having perfect babies because of all that can go wrong, and he directed my passionate sadness to being more impressed that I kept making healthy babies and that I had to be careful to not get so depressed that I quit taking care of myself and my kids. He had a way of keeping my eyes up and seeing great things. Chabbad does that, too.

I love how they say that we are meant to be outraged, that understanding breeds complacency, that we need to do all we can to stop and not let this happen again. This is resolve and perseverance. You understand why as a people the Jews survived pogroms and all the things governments tried to do over the centuries that wiped out other groups. Doing a prison ministry, I have to admit that this is one of the greatest inspirations that I had when talking about keeping up with what we were teaching, "You have a right to practice your faith and it is protected." I shared with them about early Jewish movements and told them to be like the rabbis, but as Christians.

Christians ask the same questions about God not answering prayers or not seeming to protect His people. We don't see the whole plan. I've had priests get furious with me, "How dare you question God! You can't get mad at Him!" I can't find it, but one of their articles says that you can be mad at Ha Shem, "He's big enough to handle it." (I told one of the ladies that and she laughed.)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving has passed

Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas music blares from the House of Crumpet. My kids are ecstatic. Mudd (who is now 5) occasionally looks up from what he is doing and says with an excited face and gremlin voice, “Christmas!” or, "Christmas is coming!" and he, StarShine and Calamity Jane run over to each other and get excited and talk about what they want. I know that I should not be encouraging of this because they are excited for the presents under the tree and the rich, good food after a month of fasting (we eat kosher vegan-- not exactly church rules but it's easier for me) and having meals that get repetitious after a bit because I only do three or four, but let’s face it: the mere birth of Christ is not the exciting part. Would it even be an issue if we didn’t have presents? There is an industry on Christmas. What if retail has saved Christ’s birth from obscurity in some ways? Society has a Sesame Street attention span and I don’t think the holiday would be on anyone’s radar were it not for retail.

If retail got insane over Chanukah, a lot of people in our country would be Jewish because they were attracted to it. One of my OB's told me that Chanukah was a low-key holiday until the West realized how close it was to Christmas and then it got trumped up. If Jewish New Year was closer to Western New Year, I think there would be the right way to celebrate, which the Jews would have held on to, and the Typical Way that everyone else does. Christians don't have the same hold on their holidays and this makes me sad.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mumbai-Based Rabbi and Wife Killed in Terrorist Attacks

While I am not Jewish, I mourn with everyone who mourns over the victims of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. A dashing young rabbi and his pretty wife were killed in these attacks, they being the people who ran the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish Center in India.

"For five years, they ran a synagogue and Torah classes, and helped people dealing with drug addiction and poverty," continued the statement. "Their selfless love will live on with all the people they touched. We will continue the work they started."

They are just two victims out of many, their son having been rescued by a kitchen worker.

I go to Chabad all the time.Being Eastern Orthodox in my faith, I find that much of what we practice is not original-- it's outlined in the Old/Original Testament (T'nach) and our Church Fathers seem to have reiterated it since Christians kind of blow off the old laws! Chabad makes it current with present-day writers talking about how they practice mitzvahs. I have become friendly with one of the rabbis who has given me advice that has fallen on deaf ears for several years. Why is it easier to listen to him? He was willing to pray for my grandmother but asked that even though I am Gentile to practice a mitvah, which I did,and innumerable blessings have followed. Anyway, even how Chabad mourns is unique to my Western mindset. Yes, they can use the cash-- but look at this: Yes, there is something we can do.

A mitzvah, a G-dly deed, has the power to reach deep into the core of our being--where we are all one, and the physical distance between us is of no consequence. At this core, a positive deed on our part can help bring peace and goodness to this troubled world.

What better way to mark little Moishe'le's birthday, and to salute the bravery of his courageous parents, than to perpetuate their lives--lives they devoted to bringing goodness and G-dliness into our hurting world!

Take a minute to do one or more of the following. You can make a difference.

* Light Shabbat candles! Jewish women, light a candle tonight! Click here for instructions and local lighting times.
* Tefillin: If you already put on tefillin every day, encourage a friend to do so. If you don't yet, now is a good time to start! Click here to find out how to put this important mitzvah into practice or contact your local Chabad center for assistance.
* Torah study (suggestion: our Daily Study page contains selections from the Torah)
* Say a prayer (suggestion: Psalm 20 is traditionally said in times of distress)
* Charity and acts of kindness: Put a coin in a charity box, give a gift of money to a fellow in need or to a charitable cause, or extend a helping hand to someone who needs it.
* Mezuzah: If you don't yet have a mezuzah get one now! If you already do have one, it may be time to have it checked to ensure that the words on the parchment have not faded. Click here for more information about this special mitzvah.

I hope when I die that poeple do these kinds of things. It's a huge honor to have poeple recite a Bible verse in your memory or to do something good. They even have an article on the body and how when one Jew does something good that the body of Judaism benefits. That is so cool! I don't know what happens when a Gentile prays for them-- does the whole world benefit? Who cares? I pray any way.

This is another disjointed blog post. C'est la vie & bear with me.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving for Many Things

I am thankful for my husband and sweet children (and not so sweet children!)

I am thankful that my mother has a really awesome boyfriend/husband who worships her.

I am thankful that I go to a church where I actually like the people who are there, and the ladies who I am friends with.

I am thankful for being part of a prison ministry and that I am able to serve.

I am thankful that a really cool rabbi and his wife put my head on straight about my education. (A priest would not have been the same. "Golda Meir was 72 when she became prime minister! You have time to accomplish other things, but raise your children now!")

I am thankful for a husband who wants me to not get my masters for now and to just finish my BA and we'll muddle through the student loans I've amassed.

I am thankful for a 19 year old daughter who comes home on holidays and loves her brothers and sisters-- and her mother and step father.

I am thankful for in-laws who include the goings on of my daughters who my husband was not able to adopt but who are grafted into his heart, and consider them just as much a part of the family as anyone else.

I am thankful that my dog, who seemed sick the other day, is better.

I am thankful for the internet and my cool blog pals.

I am thankful that I can be both progressive and conservative and that's it's OK to believe in the merits of both.

I am thankful for a particular pen-pal who encourages me with my art and who inspires me do keep going with it.

I am thankful for getting out of major debt this year and pray it continues, that we get out of the rest.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Ghost, a Speech, a Horse, Annoying Religious Women, and Prosfora

On Saturday I went with my ministry to the prison to do a follow up on the Kairos weekend. I had to give a talk on God's Love. I was supposed to talk about someone who has been hard to love. I had it all figured out and then I was starting to talk and I heard my dad's voice telling me, "Gosh al-Friday, they can't relate to that! You are a suburban housewife! Tell them about ___ _______!" It was like he was standing right there next to me like it was normal for him to do that. Not being one to argue with ghosts and especially my dad's ghost, :) I told them about my dad's prize horse who everyone thought was mean (she came up here with a sick filly and she was MAD) but who he fought for and loved and who produced great babies who are now breed standards. They related to her former abuse, her anger, and fear and my father's love. I told them how my dad was being charged and how he dropped to his knees while he was charged by her and how she reared up on him, bit, kicked and snorted and took the whip and lunge lines out of his hands and stomped on them, all the while my dad not changing his voice or method. (I also got bit and kicked. She was not exclusive!) It was the perfect analogy of God's love for imperfect people! Several of the ladies asked how I came up with the idea of appealing to their inner 12 year olds. . . if a woman was never gaga over horses, she can still relate to the abused and beaten horse, the daughter of two of the greatest American Saddlebreads who ever lived and over-educated people telling my dad that she was untrainable and should be put down.

For several years I have been terrified of prison for no reason. It came to me in waking up in cold sweats, just scared. My husband said to not run from it and to start to pray about it, which I did. Training with Kairos initially helped alleviate the fear. Yesterday I listened to several ladies talk about marriages ending because of what has happened to the women, or continuing in spite of their situations. Last night I woke up Darrin and talked to him for a few minutes about not leaving me, and I barely remember it. Here was that dear man this morning telling me, "I think you need to write about how marriages last when people are behind bars. Don't run from this fear." We also lit a candle for several people I know who are married and behind bars. Why can't I get a fear about eating truffles in France? Or of drowning in olive oil in Greece? Can't I be called to something fun? Surely there is a fun gig in those things!

The offenders are wonderful. I go to these for them, but I really don't like the prison. My former lawyer told me that as much as I appreciate them as people to think of them out of prison and on various substances-- most weren't put there because they were upholding laws. I have a few religious people that I work with on the Kairos team who remind me why I avoided church when I was Protestant. When I found out that my grandmother had died, I was blue but still went and they were all like, "Smile!" They got ugly with me for saying that it was a bad time and to back off. My priest says that it's because of a writer in the 1960's-70's movement telling people that the fruit of the spirit is joy and Christians turned into Stepford people. He knew a guy who he was trying to get to go to seminary who went to check it out and he returned, spooked. "They are all smiling all the time!" He said it was eerie. One lady yesterday was obnoxious again when I was talking to someone and she giggled, "You are so serious!" Then said, "Just joking." She's 70 years old, the same one who decided to tickle me last weekend with the same comment that I was "so serious." How do I tell someone that age that they are making me hate going? I was serious to an appropriately serious situation and I was listening to someone's story in a flipping prison! I wanted to scream at her, "You are so f'ing spastic!"

I made Prosfora last night. That is Blessed Bread. One of the loaves turns into The Lamb, which is mixed with Communion Wine, the combination with which we make Communion. Lots of praying goes into it, and I use some Holy Water. While I made it I held the big ball in my hands and started pulling off pieces and saying the names of the women at the retreat, "Pilgrims" and my teammates; I wasn't making a conscious thought of it, just praying for them and that is what happened. The seal on the bread (I use a wooden seal with symbols on it) came out perfect when the loaves were through baking, but the loaves were a funny, oblong shape. My priest asked after this and I apologized and explained and he just laughed. I should have perhaps kneaded it more? He said no, they were as they were supposed to be.

EDITED: I wrote an email to one of the authors of a book I have read on prison ministries and asked him to please advise people involved in this to uplift one another instead of hen pecking. He liked this idea and says that he will indeed write a chapter on this!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My husband is 41.

Today we celebrated my husband's birthday. Peaches works a lot and wanted to be here for it so we did it when we could so she'd be here. I am supposed to be fasting but I am not because I got sick this week. I need the protein and when your body is weak, it's a bad time to switch over.

Mudd was cute-- he is about to turn 5 in a few days and he said, "As soon as Mommy thinks she Daddy's age, he just ups and turns a year older before she can get his age!" (I'll be 40 in a few weeks.) He is always trying to catch up to Calamity Jane who stays just ahead of him. Daddy said, "But Mudd, only one person can be 40 in our house! Otherwise the world would be a mess! Mommy can't catch up to me!"

He thought about this for a moment, but he still wants to catch up to Calamity Jane to see what would happen!

I bought Darrin some exotic coffees for him to grind and some major Lego sets. He is very happy. While he waited for his cake, he and the kids danced the hokey-pokey and sang silly songs.

It was a great night.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Grandmother Passed Away Last Week

In the middle of me breaking ground and going places that I'd never gone before, I did not blog about something that was happening: my grandmother was dying. She died while gasping for air and knew what was happening on Thursday night. She was 95 years old with multiple organ failure.

I chose a Jewish version of her name as my baptismal name. I think that my family may be Jewish (I'm such a Jew-wanna-be! LOL) because she had told me, back when I was getting marriage counseling with my ex husband and discussing family traditions, about her mother telling her about her mother who used to light a candle at sunset every Friday night. My mother until 15 or so years ago would not cut meat and vegetables on the same tray, but they thought I was silly when I said it was Jewish and insisted that we were Lutherans AND WE JUST HAD A JEWISH SURNAME WITH THAT PARTICULAR GRANDMOTHER, DAMMIT. :)

My grandmother was a cook for a school and she and my late grandfather owned a restaurant for a while. She sewed and made beautiful porcelain dolls, one that she gave to me after a miscarriage. I'd take that doll on stage with me in a Mrs. Alaska pageant. She thought that that was pretty cool! I have saved several quilts and afghans that she made for me.

She was a pretty lady, both inside and out. When my mom had a serious surgery in Seattle, I was 9 years old. We had to stay there (going down from Fairbanks, Alaska) for 3 months. Every day she dragged me to see Great Grandma every day. I was mad because she was in an old folks' home which smelled of cleaning agents. One day Great Grandma threw up on me and I thought that my arm would fall off. For a week she let me sit in the car while she went in, then she made me go in again. I whined, "It's not fair! Why do Karen and Terry not have to come?" (They were cousins my age who taunted me for having to go.) Grandma said, "Because they don't have good hearts like you do!" She didn't state the obvious, that they lived 20 minutes away in the other direction, no, Grandma chose to tell me that I had a good heart. I'd complain more and she'd keep telling how sweet I was and in spite of how I reacted, she was unable to be convinced otherwise.

I would wind up volunteering a lot ond going places that no one likes to volunteer at-- unless they have good hearts like me! LOL I've done Hospice, Compeer, CASA, 4A's, toname a few. She was very proud of me when I worked at an Extended care facility because she said, "Those homes need people like you."

Last week I called her a couple of days before she died and she'd been mostly in and out for two weeks, but that one time, she was awake and called me by name. She said she'd see my kids soon.

I last saw her at my dad's wake. We barely spoke before her ride was ready to take her home and she asked me if I'd come see her. I cried so hard when I said I would. I knew I'd not make it back down.

My cousin who is a paramedic was with her and he broke down. The whole family was there with her-- kids, grands-- everyone. It was OK that I wasn't there. The kids and I made a banner for her that she saw before she died. We wrote "We love our great grandma!" on it and put all of our hands in fabric paint and signed underneath. I think that my mom thought it was too hillbilly because instead of hanging it over part of her casket, she says that she put it in the casket.

The weekend was made worse with my Kairos teammates. I was not droopy at the prison. I was getting sick but I wasn't depressed. Now i am feeling blue.Of course my mom is sad with both of her parents gone because the feeling that I had when my dad died of being next is double bad for her.

My younger brother had a little fun-- as he schmoozed with the family, people asked about me and he said that I had wanted to come down but that I had a "retreat" in prison. (He said the word retreat with finger quotation marks.) He would of course wait a few counts then tell them what I was doing, but even had I not had the "retreat" I couldn't have afforded to go down.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Everything Else that I Do Will be Secondary in Importance

I just spent the weekend with a prison ministry. I wrote a report on it before I left and said that I hated it and that I would never go back, saved it and left for the church to meet with the rabid Evangelical Care Bears who I'd be serving with. Mid-way there I told my husband that I was sick and didn't want to go. Yes, I have the mentality of a 9 year old when I panic. He finally said, "I will take you home if you want me to, but I think that you have to be there. There are Native Orthodox who I don't think are being ministered to and I think you will find them. You have a responsibility to your Orthodox sisters."

I went and as I got to meet the ladies in a big circle we all told the group where we went to church. I said that I was Orthodox and sure enough, a couple of the offenders told me of women in different houses that were Orthodox who'd not come to the retreat because it wasn't Orthodox. I knew why-- I'd not expected to get my priest's approval and yet he had promised to come and was thrilled that I was reaching out. I met a couple who were there and told them to come meet him when he came. I was furious because my husband was right as there are no Orthodox Christian outreach at least in this prison. Actually-- the Orthodox Church of America (OCA) is supposed to be serving the prison but it doesn't. The priest is a young looking Alaskan Native-- he's older, but he looks young. I wonder if the girls flirted with him or something and he doesn't feel right going. Or he may be too spread out as it is and prison is easy to cut; it is for politicians.

God was amazing. One of the Orthodox "girls" and I met and I called her "sister." She started to cry. Well, she is my sister in Christ and she is Orthodox! She'd been praying for just one Orthodox woman and God sent her me and another team member, then my priest came! He's going to go to a training this coming week and go and minister to them. To think that my church's big sister church is practically next door to this prison and it was me who got The Call to be the link to the priest going there humbles me.

Kairos is about the basics of Christianity. We brought in food, and this symbolism wasn't lost on them. God feeds us. We sang, "Oh when the saints go marching in" when they walked in in the mornings. One said to me that it reminded her of Heaven, that when she dies that she will be greeted by the smiling faces of family members that she both knows and doesn't know.

I don't know how I feel about Jesus still, but if Jesus isn't real, G-d will forgive those who believe in Him. We were trained to discuss forgiveness, repentance, Opening the Door to Jesus (my talk) and many others. I broke bread with women convicted of embezzling, drug abuse, murder, and worse. (Oh yeah, there is worse. Much worse.) We served them & never let them serve themselves as we were servants of God, sent to talk to them about Christ's love. Would a murders' or child abusers' victim want their abuser to get good treatment for a few days? Most likely not, but would they want them to change? This was their chance to get the love they missed out on. Ninety per cent are getting out, which ones do you want being your neighbor-- the ones who've not been through this ministry or the ones who have been? I saw women who are very tough and very mean break down and cry.

This past weekend I heard some of the most heart breaking stories that any one has heard. I heard them from survivors. A woman was hugging me and said she had never felt joy or happiness before. I never understood how anyone could survive the indignity that prison is rumored to be, but I met women who said there is no dignity but manage to survive with a sense of humor and inner strength.

My husband said, "Next to raising children, nothing that you do will ever be as important as leading people to God." We will train them to start a weekly session within the prison. The hope is that they will stay with studying and keep a sisterhood alive. Corrections officers across the country have said that the effects last about 4 months, then they kind of whither. It's OK-- we (from the Outside) try to get back every six months, as well as monthly. I've committed to the monthly meetings for the following year.

I will see if there is more need. It is enough that I have brought my gentle priest over to meet the chaplain and find a slot. I hope that I can continue to serve.


On the other side, living with a group of other females (we'd leave at night and stay at a church) is not my thing. I can stand it for three days before I begin to fray! When I think, my face isn't smiling and about half decided to comment on this. "Tea! You look like you are angry." WTF is that about? I am embarrassed to tell someone that she has something on her teeth and they felt obligated to comment on my facial expression? One woman acted like I had some nerve for explaining that I had some muscle damage. I told her that I'd had a stroke, but no, she'd not be fooled! She knew I'd not had one! I was trying to tell her to shut the f--- up. You don't tell anyone what to do with their faces. "Smile! You look angry!"

"Go stand on your head! You still won't look attractive."

I cannot make myself smile when people do that and I want to slap them.

Another woman kept jabbering at me in the morning and TOUCHED MY BACK and said, "Are you not a morning person?" I was ticked-- if you have to ask, back off! I wanted to say, "No, but it's not that. I just don't like talking to you." I am comfortable with silence. This woman just doesn't say a lot of smart things.

They were as bad as dental assistants, if not worse.

The third and most irritating thing, an older lady brilliantly decided to come up from behind me and tickle me. I almost choked on my Ny-Quil pills that I was swallowing and she giggled to the room of 20 women getting ready for bed, "You look so serious!" I said I was swallowing pills. Everyone laughed some more. I am scared around this group-- had I choked and tried to cough them up, they'd have been banging on my back forcing them the other direction. They seemed to react to things to get attention. It bothered me.

I go to do the work of God. So what if I am not smiling? My grandmother died, I was missing her funeral, I was hearing deep stories and I did not go there to explain my face, affirm some dimwitted woman's need for affirmation on stupid comments on the weather and to watch to see if she was talking to me, and I sure as hell didn't need to have someone tickle me. (I almost slapped her when she did that.) I felt like those women were cultish in how they acted, "You must be what I want you to be." I don't mind training with them, and i don't mind breaking bread with them, but there is a line. Had I, the odd duck of the group placed my hand on someone's back to say anything, the response would not have been comfortable. Had I tickled anyone, it would have just been strange and I'd have probably been smacked. I can't even imagine ordering anyone to smile. That is so beyond the pale.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Sky is Not Falling

This past weekend I went to more training. Fortunately Rick Rockhill made a comment that made me wonder why I was doing this. I've been stressed out. Anything that causes the grey hairs that I am sporting isn't worth it. Screw it. I'm doing the prison ministry for God, so to hell with what anyone says to me (in the training, not Rick who was right on target!) that hurts my delicate feelings.

I did a training at the prison and I broke out in hives afterward. Smoke glass does that to me and I didn't even see it--I just knew it was there. What was I thinking? My heart was bigger than my brain. I don't feel worthy to be with the group of dedicated women who are teaching the retreat. I know so little about Christianity and it's not my denomination, it's just that I feel as shallow as a bird bath.

Friends from church, once I announced what I was doing through our priest, have offered to help me with cookies. This is pretty cool. No, it's incredible. Twenty five dozen cookies are being made by friends on my behalf for the prison. In any church you need to ask for help from the priest or pastor before anyone helps you and that's normal.

The other thing that happened. . . because the TD was in the shop, I needed my husband to cancel his and the kids' plans and get me to the next city so I was without a car. I called him the next day when I found out that I needed to go to the prison to meet with the pastors for a training. I told him several times where I was, told him that his sister was near by, maybe see her or to wait in the parking lot for me and bring something to read.

The leader who drove me to the destination is hard to describe. Are tsunamis obnoxious or do they just have a lot of energy? Well, she was in a hurry to leave after the prison training and basically I couldn't get my stuff out of her car fast enough and I didn't want to be around her when she went into, "I don't have 12 seconds to spare. hurry-hurry"mode. When I called my husband he said he would wait for me in the parking lot, then right before I went out I called him and he said that he was up the road. He told me to just unload my stuff on the steps (I'd been out over night) and I stood with a suitcase, an art supply bag and a crock pot. After ten minutes, I started to worry and realized that my car phone was in the leader's car. After 30 minutes, I was in tears because people coming out of the prison walked right past me and didn't look at me when I asked to borrow their cell phones. I started to wonder if I was invisible.

The pastors came out and they did recognize me only after I asked if they could see me. . . you know, I really started to doubt my existence. I would not have been shocked if an ambulance had arrived and taken my body out of the facility. The only other time I have been avoided like that was when I was a mime. ;)

The pastors helped me reach my husband and the leader, my husband was an hour away. It was funny when I saw my phone and he had been texting me, "Answer your phone." "Answer your damned phone! Where are you?" "Do you have your phone?" "Did you say you were at the prison?"

After a half hour of coordinating, the pastors had to be someplace. They dropped me off at a restaurant and before I called Darrin, one pastor said to me that I had every reason to be angry with him, but that it was good for me to see what released offenders go through. I felt like an idiot on the curb being ignored, but I am not the first person to feel like that and I ultimately had a place to go. Had my husband been unable to get me, I had friends able to help get me home. (This is why you memorize several friends' phone numbers.) I cannot fathom being from a village being released in Anchorage and having to stay there because there are probation officers but no friends. The pastors said that sometimes inmates get released only to not have spouses pick them up (as planned) because they are living with someone else and have been for a long time.

It bothers me that I knew how I looked standing on that curb while I was standing on it, but didn't want people to think that I had been "one of them" and was then a released inmate. The pastors confirmed what I suspected that people were thinking. Why did I not want people to think that? Who cares? For several years I have wondered over the situation of people who have not even voting rights and how disenfranchised they are and I have mentioned it to lawmakers, but they never paid much attention to me on it. I have tried to present them in a good light, but I still felt furious at my husband for leaving me stranded. I am not better than they are, yet I was thinking pretty damned well of myself.

I worked what happened in to the speech I am giving about opening the door to God and letting God take His time. I have even painted a picture of myself standing at that curb in gouache to illustrate Matt. 6:26 "Look at the birds in the sky. They don't plant or harvest or gather food into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. You are more valuable than they are, aren't you?"

I am weird about Christianity. I doubt it constantly. I don't "know" it like CS Lewis seemed to know it. I do "know" that there is a God who created us and loves us, and I "know" this because Descartes said that just being able to imagine a being who created us is proof. I have a picture here of me and a few of my kids lighting candles. That night I must have lit 7 or 8 for different people and things. I like lighting candles because the represent so much-- the candle wax is us melting to God's will which is the heat from the flame, and the wick is our passion burning.

Yesterday I signed up for a drawing class. I only got a C in it last spring and I think that having no other classes I can put more in to it. I'd like to be able to speak through my art without needing to explain it. I would like for any one to look at my work and say the same things.

I got a message that my radio show is going to happen. The two interviews that I did are going on the air in several weeks. I of course have ten shows that I want to do next. I thought that my supervisor-mentor-friend just didn't like my voice, but instead he really was waiting. So exciting!

I will be off until possibly Sunday night,probably Monday. I have much to do.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Prison Retreat is Coming Up

I have a training this weekend for the prison retreat.

I am bummed. I need to take 20 dozen cookies to it and my baker, a restaurant owner just had two employees quit. I am busy with school and everything and this happened! Argh.

I needed to get donations which didn't happen in spite of me asking my church friends. I also told them that if they couldn't donate but cared to please make some posters for me to take which are needed and no one would do them. Why? My Eastern Orthodox friends basically told me, "We are Orthodox and you are serving with a Protestant group." I don't enjoy how they Protestants worship because it's not my style, but the people in my group are so genuine! The mission is extremely worthy and a lot of people need that chumminess with God so they can relate to Him. Some move on to more liturgical churches, some stay in the way we teach, and some fall away and come back later. Maybe some move on to other faiths-- but they learn to appreciate. I do not think that Orthodox have a monopoly on Salvation and when you are reaching out to prisoners, the simplest approach is best: Love God, be nice to your enemies, forgive, etc. Everything else is gravy. I love Eastern Orthodoxy as I find it meditative and I enjoy practicing aspects of the faith that reinforce it in our minds, but the elitism sickens me. If anyone there asked me to help out with something, I'd be happy to in whatever way I could.

I asked my husband's family-- they are great Protestants, wonderful people, but they ignored my request. Why? Probably because we're Eastern Orthodox. (I think they think we are going to Hell.) I'm not mad, but for God's sake, we are on the same side!

Should I even be doing this? Most women do things in pairs. I go off, "Hmm. This looks like it should be interesting." People in pairs have support.

What a stupid, stupid thing for me to have even tried doing. I'm going to think about this overnight, but I may just drop it.

I need support with this from my church and I am afraid that if I drop this, I will also drop the faith that I agreed to raise my children in because I don't like the people in how they act.

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Thespian in My Midst

This year for the yolka, Cloud is a prettily dressed servant woman narrating, then Guy is Joseph, and Basil and Dmitri are shepherds. All but Guy has a speaking part. The wee babes are Nativity animals. I practice with them on their parts every night between now and the yolka. (A yolka is a Christmas story.)

Dmitri is the funnest. While Cloud glums through and mumbles and Basil thinks this is an excuse for me to get him away from basketball practice (I got him in to basketball and I am letting him finish the season and still keep his part!) it is Dmitri who says his poetry and stands on the couch, dramatically crawls on the floor, has to speak it in a British accent, then a German one, then a Swedish one, then has to shout it, then whispers it. He has it memorized and enjoys it. To say that this makes me proud is an understatement. I love that this comes so naturally to him and that he is not embarrassed at the age of 8. After a week of practicing, he has asked for my poetry books and wants me to find poetry that he may like then recites the first few stanzas. He was enjoying making things up, "Now I will say this like I am cold!" I had him read one line then me the other like we were arguing.

Cloud came into the room and sneered at him and I made her do tree position and recite her lines. She tried very hard to act bored, then started laughing which was funny. We both stood in tree and I "argued" with her with her lines.

In memorizing the lines we shout them and sing them, all the while the younger kids play around us. You can tell the Crumpet Kids by how relaxed they are performing as chaos reigns!

I'm enjoying getting to meet the other moms at my church. Everyone's kids are funny in their own way and it's cute to see their parent's quirks show through, or just to see the kids do funny things and glance up at Mom & Dad laughing.

Yesterday at the end of our service, the deacon asked if there were any announcements. Calamity Jane said to everyone, "Well, I'm six years old!"

The deacon laughed, "And when did this happen?"

She said, "On my birfday!"

Everyone laughed. He wished her a God grant her many years and we all thought she was a cutie.

Feeling Silly

For the past five months I have been having heart palpitations. They have been increasing in duration and number of times that I have them and I had started to get scared, thinking they were linked to a medication I am on to regulate my cycles. I got worked up over the past few weeks, working up the nerve to call. In the US doctors can make you doubt your sanity if you complain too much, but this doctor never has. I called my doctor's nurse and argued over whether or not to get an EKG. I do not like anyone touching me except for my husband or worse, looking at me, even if it is a woman helping me. EKG's are exposing.

Anyway, I told the nurse and got off the phone, happy that I'd let her know and knew that if anything happened that they'd have a record. When I had researched this, I had looked up "heart palpitations" with the medication. As I got off the phone I looked up palpitations on their own and found a link to caffeine which I have been guzzling for about six months since May to the tune of six to eight cups a day!

I called her back-- stupid me. I am going off gradually lest I wind up calling her about headaches associated with this medicine as well. . .