Feeble Knees

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Mangoes, Pink Lemonade, and Fried Egg Sandwiches

The pregnant life is at turns fascinating, boring, thrilling, and aggravating. Sometimes it's just downright bizarre.

I've been fortunate in that I haven't really had any full-blown morning sickness, but I have been having days lately where I just feel "queasy". That's the best way I can describe it. A friend recommended drinking Country Time® Pink Lemonade - sure enough, it helps. So do Preggie Pops, which I must admit I was pretty skeptical about, but they do help too.

Sleep has become the most important thing in my life, particularly since it's become impossible for me to sleep through the night uninterrupted. Every night between three-thirty and four-thirty AM we must get up and visit the loo. Then we must visit the refrigerator for a little snackie. We go back to bed and sleep through till the morning, but usually we're ready to collapse again around lunch. If we don't take a little nappy-time at noon, we are completely non compis mentis by three o'clock.

My food aversions are as strange as my cravings. I'd rather file a hundred tax returns than handle raw meat or poultry. The thought of touching meat to prepare it for cooking is completely repulsive. Considering that I normally love to cook and am known for my cooking (and complete aversion to filling out tax forms), this is pretty ironic. Last night I sat here staring at my refrigerator like it held a plague. It took everything in me to take that chicken out, unwrap it, put it in a pan and shove it in the oven. Even writing this sounds ridiculous, but that's how it was.

I've eaten more fried egg sandwiches in the last two weeks than I think I've consumed in my lifetime. Hopefully no one will be wanting to check my cholesterol levels any time soon. I find it odd that though I cringe at the thought of handling poultry, cracking an egg doesn't bother me in the slightest.

Mangoes are becoming a big favorite too, mangoes and bananas. I'm convinced this kid is trying telling us that s/he would like us to move to the tropics. Considering that we're about to get another five to six inches of snow for the second time this week, I could be talked into this.

My brain feels especially dull, I'm vaguely aware that I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed lately. This may be why I haven't written in so long. Besides, I've been pretty absorbed with the whole pregnancy experience; I mean really, obsessively absorbed. While I might find it endlessly fascinating to look at sites like The Visible Embryo, I realize not everyone is as enthralled with looking at pictures of a thumbnail-sized alien-looking critter that only a mother could love.

But I feel bad for having been away from the blog for so long, and I will try to make more of an effort to get back into the swing of things. I can't promise coherent thoughts or interesting topics though, so please bear with me whilst I am in this "delicate condition". And I promise to try not to bore you to death with too many strange tales from the Pregnant Zone. Thanks!

Saturday, February 19, 2005

They Weren't Kidding About Being Exhausted

It's been difficult to motivate myself to stay awake lately, much less blog. It hasn't helped that my mind seems to have become permanently detached from my body.

Last week I had to give up pumping my own gas at the self-serve down the street, the fumes were just knocking me for a loop.(In case you didn't know, EVERYTHING smells much more intense to a pregnant woman. Remember this, and be merciful when applying cologne or aftershave.) The smell of gasoline was just about making me swoon, so I decided to give up (for now) and go a mile down the road to the full serve.

I pulled in, shut off the ignition and rolled down the window to the thirty degree chill so I could ask the attendant for a fill-up. He tapped the little door over the gas cap to remind me to pop the latch. Right. Gotta...open... the...

Where the heck is it? I fumbled with my left hand along the side of the driver's seat looking for the little release latch. Where was it?? I've had this stinking car since 1997, and yet I was somehow suddenly unable to find the stinkin' gas cap lever. The attendant looked annoyed. I started to freak out.

In desperation I opened my driver's side door and said sheepishly, "uh, I'm having ah, trouble finding the release..." My face burned deep red as he leaned over and pointed it out, on the floor in front of my seat. I quickly grabbed the lever and popped the tank. Oh brother!

This is what it's been like between me and my brain lately. Today Mr. F and I went out to do a bit of shopping. When we came home, he noticed before I did that one of the gas burners on the stove was left on. Thankfully I'd at least moved the pan to another burner, but I'd forgotten to turn off the one I had been using. No harm was done, but that one shook me up a bit. I have to try to be more careful and more attentive.

I don't know if the absentmindedness is due to all the pregnancy hormones, or if it's just a byproduct of the extreme tiredness that I'm told is so common in the first trimester. I've been zonking out at the drop of a hat, sometimes feeling like I could sleep standing up. (Perhaps that's been my problem?) It's all rather disconcerting.

Someone please tell me it's not going to be like this for the next 18 years!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Praying for Tedy Bruschi

Local Boston TV stations and Sports Illustrated are reporting that Patriots defensive linebacker Tedy Bruschi was hospitalized at Mass General this evening after complaining of severe headaches.

While he is reportedly in good condition at Mass General, further details are not available. Additional tests are to be performed tomorrow.

Mr. Bruschi is an incredible team player and an inspiration to all of his fans. On January 10, SI honored him in an article entitled Every Team Needs a Bruschi. Bruschi's single minded devotion to the game, the team and his fans is so rare in today's sports world.

Tonight my prayers go out to him, his lovely wife and their three children. Praying also for the medical staff attending him.

We love you Tedy! Get well soon, and get some rest!

UPDATE: Dear Lord, I hope this isn't true. The Boston Herald is reporting this morning that the 31 year old Bruschi may have had a stroke. This article claims he temporarily lost vision in one eye and suffered some partial paralysis:

Several sources said the player had been rushed to the Boston hospital by ambulance from his home in North Attleboro and may have suffered a stroke.
One source said Bruschi had suffered a stroke, but it appeared to be a minor stroke since he was being treated at the Phillips House rather than in a critical care unit.

I was hoping perhaps it was just a bad migraine, but it's starting to sound much more serious.

UPDATE 2/19/03: Tedy did have a minor stroke, but he has since been released from the hospital and is continuing his recuperation at home with his wife and three boys. It is unclear whether or not he will be able to return to football, but we're all just so relieved he's alive and doing better. Those little guys need their dad!

The Next Big Thing

Move over bloggers, here come the Podcasters.

Have you always secretly wanted to be a talk show host? Would you like to be the Bill O'Reilly of the Internet? Then here's your chance.

What is a Podcast, you ask? Here's the definition according to Wikipedia:

The term "podcasting" is a portmanteau of the words iPod and broadcasting. Although an iPod is currently the playback device of choice for many early adopters of podcasting, a portable music player is not required to take advantage of this method of content distribution.

A podcast is much like an audio magazine subscription: a subscriber receives regular audio programs delivered via the internet, and she or he can listen to them at her or his leisure.

Podcasts differ from traditional internet audio in two important ways. In the past, listeners have had to either tune in to web radio on a schedule, or they have had to actively download individual files from webpages. Podcasts are more flexible and much easier to get. They can be listened to at any time because a copy is on the listener's computer or portable music player, and they are automatically delivered to subscribers, so no active downloading is required.

Wanna hear some sample Podcasts? Go here.

Curious to find out what it takes to be a podcaster? Check out this article for more information on how it's done (from a Macintosh perspective). Wired's article is a bit more platform-neutral.

I don't know that there will be an Audible Feeble podcast anytime soon, but it does look like fun. I'd just have to get over my dislike for the sound of my own voice. :)

Is anyone else out there already podcasting, or considering it? Let me know!

Broke the News

To follow up on my post from Saturday, we did finally break the news to my parents.

On the drive up I only had about seven teensy-eensy panic attacks about it. What if the results of that first test were incorrect? (yeah, right!) Maybe we should wait and take another test first? Maybe we should wait until the baby is born...

But I did it. I even managed to segue it into the conversation pretty artfully, if I do say so myself. My father was talking about his memoir, and that he'd just finished writing it. I asked innocently where he left off, after we were born or at some point in the recent past?

"Oh no," he said. "I've got your wedding in there, all the way up to today really."
I smiled playfully. "Well you're going to have to write a postscript in October."

Beat. Everyone looks at me quizzically.

"Because I'm pregnant!"

There was much rejoicing. Really. Everyone jumped up and there was much hollering, hugging, and kissing. It was...nice. Real nice. :)

As I expected, my mother is now in constant contact. How are you feeling today? When is that doctor's appointment again? Do you need anything, your father and I will be out running errands today. I told so-and-so today and they said "Congratulations!" I just can't wait until the holidays with our new little family member!

Holidays!?! Sheesh Ma, don't rush me!

There remain only two more family members to tell, and truth be told I'm somewhat relieved that the secret's (mostly) out. It was very good to compare notes with my Mom and find out more about how she was feeling physically throughout each of her pregnancies. She had morning sickness of varying degrees with some, but not all of us. She also went right on schedule with each of us - never early, but never late. That's good information to know, considering my sister's experience seemed to closely follow Mom's. It was reassuring, on some very deep level I couldn't come close to describing.

* * *

Sometimes the irony of God's grace is too much for me to bear. It takes the wind out of me, and I feel very small in the enormity of it. My relationship with my mom has been rocky over the last fifteen or so years, and never more so since the day she admitted that she and my father nearly made the decision to abort me. That one small admission completely turned my perception of my parents upside down, and it still affects me in a lot of ways.

But God tethered me and refused to let my shock and hurt feelings have their way and destroy our relationship. He simply would not allow it. At times when the pain would swell it was as if an 800 pound Holy Spirit landed square on my chest and sat on me while I threw my hissy fits. I had to forgive, I had to acknowledge that God turned everything for the good. I had to keep loving her, even after she busted up my belief that she had been the perfect mommy. I had to learn to love her more, for who she is, not what I wanted her to be.

So it was quite surreal then, when she jumped up and nearly ran across the room and hugged me so hard. It was healing, to see her joy, to know that she is so eagerly awaiting this new little one. This little one is wanted. What a blessing, to be so incredibly wanted. It's just as I always hoped it would be.

Yesterday I stared out at the barren trees and crusty white snow blanketing our backyard. I wondered if the news of my baby brought back memories of a certain time and place, and the decision she almost made. My heart swelled and stuck in my throat. Did she think of this little one to come and thank God once again for restraining her hand? Was she wondering if I was thinking the same thing?

Somewhere very deep in the recesses of my heart there is a little growing hope that everything will come full circle, and in a great divine irony this new life inside will bring reconciliation, and peace. Maybe it's a longshot. Maybe it's just wishful thinking. But I choose to let it live.

Hang on to Your Towels

The new trailer for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is up and running at Amazon.

So far it looks better than I expected. Judging by the very poor quality of the official movie website, my expectations were very low. But it looks like it might not be completely awful.

First impressions:

  1. It might not totally stink; in fact, it might not stink too much...Hopefully.
  2. What the heck is with Ford's glowing thumb?
  3. Martin Freeman seems like a good casting choice for Arthur Dent.
  4. John Malkovich appears as... who? Humma Kavula? I don't remember that character. Ah, I see - according to IMDB the role was created for the movie by Douglas Adams.
  5. Can't wait to hear Alan Rickman as the voice of Marvin.

As fans of the original book(s), we'll definitely be going to check it out. I just hope they did the Guide justice. I suppose it can't be much campier than the original TV series that appeared on PBS in the 80's. That was so bad, it was good.

Reminds me of a difficult boss I had. He was completely out of his league, a non-techie if there ever was one working at a software company. He knew nothing of the finer points of geek culture and humor.

After a particularly trying day at the office, Mr. F. and I almost conspired to have someone in an alien costume with a clipboard march into my boss' office and say: "John Smith*? JOHN A. SMITH? You're a jerk Smith, a real kneebiter!"

We didn't follow through with our nefarious plan, but I must admit it was awfully tempting. ;-)

*name changed because I'm not a total idiot! :)

On Guard

Being seven weeks pregnant, I'm a little freaked out to read stories on CNN about recent attacks on pregnant women. Several weeks ago Bobbie Jo Stinnett was strangled by another woman who then ripped the baby from the dying woman's womb and kidnapped it, claiming it was her own.

Then just last week another pregnant woman was lured to her attacker's apartment where a struggle ensued. Thankfully the mother and baby survived and are ok, but that is because the mother killed her female attacker.

What the heck is going on?

Several months ago, I never would have thought about this sort of danger. Given the press that these two incidents received, it makes me wonder if there will be a rise in copycat attacks. I've lived in major cities alone and never carried mace, or a knife, or any other kind of weapon. I've been accosted, but thankfully never harmed. Single women living alone learn to mistrust any strange man on the street. Who would ever think to mistrust another woman, especially one who also appears to be pregnant?

Scary stuff.

Mr. F has already laid down the law: if anyone calls claiming to have a package, he'll be the one to retrieve it. I'm not a violent person by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm prepared to take out anyone who attempts to attack me or my child, and I won't feel bad about it. I would feel horrible for that person, for the choices that she made that would end in the destruction of her own life. But if attacked, I will retaliate, even to the death, and let God have mercy on whom He will have mercy.

Don't anybody mess with this mama!

Giving Good Gifts

If you were an eleven year old girl, and your house was already full of bibles, would you really want someone to give you another one for your birthday?

I'm a little exasperated.
I was looking for any tips or clues about what this young girl might like for her birthday. I conferred with another family member, who had asked the girls mom what she might like. The answer? A King James Bible with an index.

Why am I having a hard time believing this?

Am I a terrible person for being skeptical that this girl really wants yet another KJV? For her birthday?

Is it me?

When I was eleven, I was still playing with Barbie® dolls, although somewhat surreptitiously. I'd begun to figure out that it wasn't "cool" anymore among my peers. Oh but I loved playing with them - I loved making up stories and crazy scenarios for my Barbies. I loved putting my words in their mouths. They would act out my trials and tribulations. They took on the names of girls I liked or despised, depending on my mood. They liked or hated the same boys I liked or hated. They were my emotional drawing board where I tried out different scripts and approaches to situations in my life.

I also started keeping diaries around that time. A good one had a little lock on it, so I could pour out my hopes, dreams, likes, dislikes, and daily ennui without fear of prying eyes. I kept them religiously, and over time my focus shifted away from acting out my emotions with dolls to writing them out in words.

Jewelry and nail polish started becoming big at this time too. My older sister had a special rack of little polish-bottle-sized shelves on her bedroom wall that was filled with every conceivable color. I'd agonize over my selection while she waited patiently for me to pick one, then she'd deftly coat each tiny growing nail for me. What a thrill!

That was twenty-two years ago. I suspect that at the core, eleven year olds really haven't changed that much. I do realize that society has, and the things they are exposed to day-to-day are different. Trying to shield a little girl today from all that is out there I'm sure is a harrowing experience, like holding back a crumbling dam.

But is rigid religious indoctrination the antidote? Or is it possible that by shoving bibles at her now, we will cause a little girl to rebel in future?

A scene from Dead Poets Society keeps replaying itself in my head every time I start thinking about this. It is the scene in which Todd is crestfallen upon opening a gift from his parents that turns out to be yet another desk set.

[Todd's present is the same as last year]
Neil: I mean, if I was ever going to buy a desk set... twice! I would probably buy this one, both times! In fact, its shape is rather aerodynamic isn't it? You can feel it. This desk set wants to fly!
[Neil hands the desk set to Todd]
Neil: Todd? The world's first un-manned flying desk set!
[Todd throws it off the roof]
Neil: Oh my! Well, I wouldn't worry, you'll get another one next year.

We could get this young girl yet another bible, per her mother's wishes. But what kind of message does it send?

Believe me when I say that I earnestly hope and pray that this little lass comes to a deep understanding of who Jesus is, what He means to her, and what she means to Him, and the sooner the better. Knowing how precious she is in the sight of the Lord will go a long way towards helping her navigate the many perils of adolescence present in our society today. She knows the gospel. She knows about Jesus. All the time, Jesus, in the morning, Jesus, in the afternoon, Jesus, in the evening, Jesus.

I'm thinking she'd really rather have something else. Jewelry? A pretty journal? A book on horses? I know whatever we give her, she'll be demure and offer a polite thank-you on cue, because that's how it goes every year. But I'm hoping to offer her something that is special just to her, something carefully selected to suit her other interests. I want her to know it's okay to get something other than bibles for her birthday.

Would you buy the bible? Would you get something else? Do you now have or have you raised an eleven-year-old girl?

If so, please help me out here...

Thoughts on Canseco & "Juiced"

Yesterday I listened to an interview on a local sports radio station in which former major league baseball player Jose Canseco attempt to defend himself for using steroids and his motives for writing his new tell-all book. The words disturbed, pathetic and sad come to mind.

I'm not a psychiatrist, and I've never played one on TV, but in my opinion, he sure does come across like a narcissistic whiner. On one hand he blames the media for treating minority Latino players unfairly, but on the other he's throwing fellow Latino players Ivan Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro under the bus by claiming they also used steroids.

But this is what I don't get: he apparently is still defending steroid use, and apparently doesn't see anything wrong with it. So why out the other guys for doing it Jose?

Sadly, everyone's going to rush to the bookstore to buy a copy just see what some angry, bitter, and vengeful guy has to say. He'll be rewarded with lots of dough, undeservedly. I wish everyone would rather exercise some restraint and let this whole thing die on the vine.

Not that I want to brush the steroids issue under the rug. On the contrary, I wish the heck the whole thing would get blown open, the guilty parties punished, certain players banned from baseball (as other athletes are banned in other sports like cycling or track & field). I want the book thrown at people who distribute and use steroids, even if that means some of my own heroes have to go down in flames. I want the integrity of the game restored, I want Roger Maris' home run record to stand, uncontested by juicing cheaters.

Maybe, as distasteful as he is, Mr. Canseco may play the role of "necessary evil" in the process of finally getting steroids out of baseball. Maybe it takes a wild cannon like him to bring more attention to the issue, to make people sick of all the garbage that's been going on.

Human nature being what it is, there will always be cheaters. I know there is a long, colorful list of ways to cheat: spitballs, scuffed and tarred balls and corked bats these are just some of baseball's venial sins. But physically modifying one's physique through illegal use of steroids has got to be a mortal sin where baseball is concerned. The slap-on-the-wrist approach taken by the current baseball commissioner is not a strong enough deterrent.

If I were the commissioner, it would go something like this. You get caught using steroids, you get banned for a season. Get caught again, get banned for two seasons. Three strikes: you're out, banned for life!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

I Stand Corrected!

Is it early Alzheimer's or is this baby eating my brain? I stand corrected on two things I posted in the last two days.

Not that anyone else will probably care, but I hate making mistakes or giving misinformation. When I was young, I had a habit of exaggerating or embellishing the truth (doesn't every kid?) But I lived in a bit of a fantasy world and often tried to portray things in such a way that was either a.) More flattering to yours truly b.) Less flattering to people I didn't like or c.) Made my life sound better than it really was.

When I became serious about following Jesus, it became clear in time that this sort of thing had to go. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and their unique perspective, but the truth is the truth. The Lord made it very clear to me that there were no gray areas there. I loved Him and wanted to be more like him, so I made the decision to stop elaborating and refrain from saying things or telling stories that I didn't know were 100% true. As time went on I realized there were certain stories that I had refashioned so effectively that I wasn't even sure where the line was between my facts and my fiction. So I had to stop telling them. A couple times I caught myself in mid-sentence and realized I had to stop and say, "You know what, that might not be true. That's the way I remember it, but that might not be how it actually was."

It was embarrassing sure, but worth it to live an honest and accountable life. Remembering how I used to be brings so much shame. When I contrast that with the freedom and tranquility that are the byproducts of living and speaking truthfully, there is no question which is better. So I try to police myself rather diligently when it comes to telling it like it is, not as I'd like it to be. Part of my self discipline is to keep accountable for everything I say, and promptly correcting myself even when I make honest mistakes.

Anyway, that little personal confession aside, I realized last night on the way to the show that I was mistaken about which Arthur Miller play it was that I saw Richard Kiley perform. This morning I did some research and realized my memory had failed me again. He did not play Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman. I saw him play Joe Keller in All My Sons. Just wanted to set the record straight on that. (I did revise the original post where I mentioned this.)

The second correction Mr. F brought to my attention. In the post This and That I said we were watching a repeat of Game 4 of the ALCS the other night. In fact it was Game 5. Game 4 ended with David Ortiz finishing off a similarly agonizing at bat with glorious home run into the right field stands. Game 5 ended with the single that scored Johnny Damon.

These were honest errors, but boy they were bugging me. I feel better now about setting the record straight. Thanks for bearing with me!

Saturday, February 12, 2005

This and That

A random collection of feeble-mindedness.

Yesterday was an important day, so important in fact, that we had to celebrate by baking a cake. What made this day so auspicious you ask? The equipment truck left from Fenway Park bright and early on its yearly pilgrimage down to City of Palms Park in Ft. Myers, Florida. It carries more than just bats, balls, fungoes, and rosin bags - it's all the high hopes and anticipation of a Nation. Spring Training is just days away. I can almost breathe again.

Mr. F is very concerned about the fact that I am due in October. Should the Red Sox repeat their incredible run through the playoffs to the Fall Classic again, he says he is going to tell my OB/GYN to forbid me from watching baseball. He's worried I'll send myself into labor or stress the baby out.

Our local sports station has been replaying games 1-7 of the 2004 American League Championship Series, now known as the greatest sports comeback story of all time. We were watching Game 4 the other night. It was the 14th inning, David Ortiz was up at the plate, fouling off pitch after pitch for what seemed an eternity. Of course I knew how it ended, I knew he was going to hit a bloop single to center and Damon would haul butt from second to score and win the game around quarter of two in the morning. I knew that. I saw it the first time. But watching it again, I couldn't breathe. I got up and started pacing around the room.

Can you say post-traumatic stress disorder, boys and girls?

* * *

Tonight we're going to see Kathleen Turner & Bill Irwin in Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. This is not a play for the faint of heart or easily offended. We got the script ahead of time so Mr. F could familiarize himself with it, and I reread it again for the first time since college (oh so many years ago). Mr. Albee is one messed up dude.

No doubt I will get all nostalgic for my time in the theatre, I always do. Somedays I miss it so much and wonder what the heck I was thinking to ever give up on it. Then I remember a friend who's still fighting the good starving artist fight in New York City and I remember how it all went down. I like eating and paying my bills.

Back when I was slaving away as a non-union assistant stage manager, my mother once predicted that I wasn't "hungry" enough, not ambitious enough to stick it out long term. When you're making $130 dollars a week and living on ramen noodles or tomato soup and one slice of Wonder® bread a day, you get a little testy with people who say you're not hungry enough.

But looking back, she was probably right. Not long after I got my first "desk job". Once in a blue moon I buy ramen, just for old time's sake.

* * *

Haven't told my parents that I'm pregnant yet. I know, I know, it's terrible isn't it? All of you folks know, and we've never even met! I'm torn. I want to tell, but I suddenly feel an overwhelming shyness about it. It's still early yet, what if something were to happen? But that's not the reason.

Truth is, I've been blissfully floating along, just happy and hopeful. I haven't started to worry about this or that yet. I haven't started making To Do lists or reviewing our insurance policy (I'm just glad we have one!) I can just bumble along in my little happy mommy land - no well-meaning but unwanted advice, no horror stories about difficult labor and deliveries, no one (save Mr. F) worrying about how I feel every minute of the day. That will naturally all change in the instant I tell my mother.

Not to mention the fact that everyone in the family will now have irrefutable proof that my husband and I have had uh, relations. *BLUSH* It's very strange having grown up in an era of so much promiscuity & prevalence of birth control. Women who were born circa 1970 will understand what I'm talking about when I say "you spend so much of your life worrying about not getting pregnant." Even though it's OK now, I still feel a bit tarty. Another friend confessed feeling the same way. Though she was married and living a stable, respectable life, she felt a little like a bad girl for getting pregnant. Some sociologist would have a field day studying my generation and this "bad girl" phenomenon.

I think we might tell today. Or tomorrow, if I chicken out. Eventually I won't be able to keep the secret under wraps. It will be plainly evident in another six weeks or so...

Friday, February 11, 2005

Playwright Arthur Miller Dead at 89

Arthur Miller was perhaps the quintessential American playwright, delving into and unearthing the secrets of the American psyche like no other.

One of the first stage dramas that ever captured my imagination was All My Sons. Long before I ever began studying drama, I saw Richard Kiley give a soul-rending performance as Joe Keller. It remains one of the single most unforgettable performances I've ever seen.

Countless High School students have read and continue to read The Crucible, the timeless tragedy about the dangers of oppression, fear and groupthink. Its message is as relevant today as it was at the height of the McCarthy hearings.

Through his work, Mr. Miller displayed an skillful ability to plumb the depths and darkness of the human condition. He wrote truth ferociously. He will be missed.

Alive and Well

We are recovered. Mr. F had it worse than I did. Mostly I was just exhausted, but that could be partly due to the pregnancy. It's that notorious six-week point where all sorts of things like exhaustion and nausea supposedly come into play. So far I've just been very tired, and as a result, not very motivated to blog.

I've heard several things this week that would normally really aggravate me and bring me down. But I'm discovering another symptom of pregnancy that no one (so far) ever told me about: I don't care about the things I used to care about. I am humming along, happy and hopeful. It's a very strange, down-the-rabbit-hole experience for this born pessimist. Perhaps this also has something to do with my lack of desire to blog. I read terrible things and think, "oh that's awful!" but then I just go on without dwelling on it. Very strange.

What is happening to my brain?

Speaking of my brain, I'm becoming rather ditzy. The other night while making us some tea I completely spaced out. I poured my cup and set it to steep. Mr. F asked, "is the tea steeped yet?" I'd almost forgotten it. "Oh yeah!" I said, then went to pull out the tea bags, add sugar, etc. When I looked own into the cups, I realized I'd very nicely poured my cup but not Mr. F's. It had been sitting there empty, save its poor little lonesome teabag. And all this time I thought it was steeping. Ditz!

* * *

One thing is troubling me though. I keep hearing stories about SuperChristians I know who are having total meltdowns. They are despairing about having missed God's will for their life. They are consumed with fear about making decisions, for fear they will miss God's plan. They are convinced they've failed the Lord. Some have ended up on medication. Another was institutionalized. Really. Which causes me to say:

What the heck is wrong with us?

There is something terribly wrong with Christianity in America. Is it that our lives are so soft that we fall apart in the face of tedium? Are there so few real life-and-death struggles in the average American Christian's life that the smallest ripple in the pond sends us over the edge? What is it?

Or is it a symptom of a greater evil?

It never dawned on me how prevalent having "faith in faith" has become. I can't help but suspect this way of thinking has something to do with it all. There is such an emphasis on having faith these days, and not just any faith, blessing-grabbing, cash-producing, mountain-moving, super-miracle-sized faith. If you don't have faith like this, obviously you don't trust God, He's not going to bless you, and you're a bad Christian.

Michael Spencer at Internet Monk has been just about tearing his hair out over the popularity of Joel Osteen and his Word-Faith style teachings, and with good reason. Osteen teaches that we can speak problems or blessings into our lives with the words we speak and the language we use. This, my friends, is absolute poppycock and completely unbiblical. There are plenty of people throughout the Bible who told things like they were and were perfectly honest about their doubts and fears. God still cared for, delivered, and helped them. Exhibit A: David in the Psalms; Exhibit B: Job; Exhibit C: Jonah; Exhibit D: Peter. Shall I go on?

iMonk's recent campaign to debunk and discredit Osteen's teachings reminds me of a girl I met several years ago. She wouldn't admit when she had a headache (never mind take an aspirin - which to me bordered on Christian Science). To say out loud that she had a headache, in her mind, was akin to having no faith that God would heal her. So long as she never admitted she had a headache, she was walking in faith. If someone asked her how she was feeling, she would respond with something like "God has given me a sound mind and body!"

This, my friends, is called LYING. When you clearly appear to be unwell, and someone asks you if you're ok, and you say you are "wonderful, Praise God", what you are doing is LYING. You are stating something that is contrary to the evidence at hand. Furthermore, you are putting your faith in the strength of YOUR FAITH, not in God.

I can't help but wonder if it is this kind of denial and self-deceit that has caused so many Christians to go right off into the deep end. How can you NOT go crazy when you're continually refusing to admit that things are not what you say they are? My bills aren't overdue, I'm trusting in God! I'm not sick and in need of surgery, God is a healer, Amen! At some point, your heart, body and mind will part company with your best efforts to deceive yourself, resulting in what the rest of the world calls a nervous breakdown.

Please understand, I'm not saying all nervous breakdowns, mental or emotional struggles are the result of suspect theology. Let me make that very clear - I don't believe that people necessarily "bring this on themselves." There are folks who have had horrible things happen, or fight a legacy of mental health issues handed down through the family. It is not those people I'm talking about here.

I'm talking about the otherwise normal, happy healthy Christians who seem to be doing everything wonderfully one minute and then the next they're in the depths of despair over their inadequacy as servants of the Most High. They're the ones flogging themselves over their lack of faith.

One of the classic signs that you're falling prey to HyperFaith is Manic Ministry. Lord knows I've been there. (Ok, I never refused to admit I had a headache - even I thought that was extreme silliness.) We overcommit to ministries, we drag themselves around exhausted, we keep on a never-ending treadmill of prayer, devotions, service, church attendance and other ministries with no let up. Yet all the while, we have a growing sense of desperation that we're not doing these things well enough or spiritually enough. Why? Because somewhere down the line we inadvertently put our faith in ministry and service to save us instead of Jesus.

My dear friend Joy and I spoke on the phone the other day. She admitted that she still feels guilty that she's not in umpteen-million ministries, like she used to be. She knows that at this point in time, her job is to let God help heal her, yet she feels wracked by guilt that she is not "doing anything for God".

But she is. She is letting God minister to her. She is letting Him rebuild the trust she once had only in Him, before well-meaning but seriously people taught her otherwise. She is re-learning how to prioritize and live a healthy life, devoid of overpowering fears and compulsions around living up to an impossible standard. She is slowly rebuilding bridges back to family members and friends that were severed when she was in the church - people who are starting to see the true message of God's grace in action over time, as she heals.

Some wise person once said to me that you can't expect a person with a broken leg to get up and run a race before the leg is healed. Further and greater injury can result when we fail to pay attention to pain and exhaustion. It is no different in the spiritual aspect. The Bible says to weep with those who weep, not rebuke them for experiencing and expressing honest sorrow or pain. When I started this blog, I chose Isaiah 35:3 as a reminder to myself what is really important in my own life and walk right now. It is also an admission that I am weak, that despite my best efforts, I am not a SuperChristian. I'm identifying myself as one of the wounded in the hopes that my fellow Christian soldiers won't trample me as they go marching in.

Unlike iMonk, I have no desire to start a campaign against a particular teacher, preacher or faith movement. I'll let some stout-hearted soul with more fortitude fight that battle, and godspeed to them. But I can do something about the individual lives I come across day to day. My prayer is that maybe I can encourage overstressed souls to take respite in the Lord, and learn to trust His desire to nourish and refresh us. He knows we are dust, weak, and feeble in-and-of ourselves. If only we would admit that ourselves more often. When we are weak, He is strong. 2Corinthians 12:10

I can praise God today with a full heart because He took me out of all the craziness at the old church and hid me. I've been resting beside still waters, crying and healing, but gradually sorting things out. How can I begin to express the gratitude that I have for a God who cares more about my heart and my relationship with Him than about any stellar church attendance record? Some days I feel like David and his men must have felt after ravenously tearing into the shewbread, or Elijah when the ravens brought nourishment to him in the wilderness.
Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. Psalm 139

It says more about the nature and character of God that He would still tend so faithfully to one who left "the flock". His love bowls me over. Truly He is a God like none other, and worthy to be praised.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Under the Weather

Apologies for the hiatus. The Feebles have been felled by flu.

Well I'm not sure if it's flu or not. I'm feeling ok, a bit tired. Mr. F is completely zonked with a temperature, cough, sore throat. So blogging will be light again today.

Quick updates: other than whatever it is that we seem to be fighting, I'm feeling pretty good. No puking yet, yay!

We won the Super Bowl!!! Man, this just never gets old. I remember the Celtics championships in the 80's, and that was good. Having the Red Sox win for the first time in 86 years, then the Pats win back-to-back championships? Pinch me! It's so incredible. The best part about being a Pats fan right now is that our coach is a complete class act - all of the staff are. And they do play as a team. Makes me very proud to be dedicated England fan.

Evangelical Blog Awards update: I did get a very nice email back from Preacher Eric at Evangelical Underground. He apologized and promised to get the link up there. Before I ever saw whether or not FK was listed, the list of nominees for each category were cut down to five finalists in each category. That was fast! Well, I did say that I didn't want to get a big head over it, looks like my prayer was answered, double-quick! :)

On a related note, I am happy to read that Steve from Voice in the Desert found this blog via Joe Missionary. Thanks Steve for the kind words! I'm looking forward to reading more about Burkina Faso at your site, I saw a documentary about that country some time ago, it is a fascinating place. God bless your work there!

As for the awards, I am very pleased to see Another Man's Meat, Joe Missionary, and Messy Christian are all finalists. I am particularly happy for MC, since she is my "Fairy Blogmother". It was she who encouraged me to start blogging in the first place. If you haven't visited them yet, wander on over and see what they have to say. And if you are inclined to vote in the Evangelical Blog Awards, I would respectfully ask you to consider casting your vote for these fine blogs.

* * *

I've been thinking about what are the top ten Christianese buzz-words and slogans that drive me crazy. I was reminded this weekend about the phrase "teachable spirit", as in, if you listen to everything your leadership says and unquestioningly and zealously apply all their lessons, opinions, tastes, etc. to your life, you are said to have a "teachable spirit." That was said of me many times, I see now that it was a nice way of saying I was blindly swallowing everything I was fed.

There is such a thing as being a good learner, and a wise student, and all of us should endeavor to be those things. The Bible does say to study to show yourself approved. But it also says to test the spirits, to search the scriptures to see if things we are being told and taught are really true. Paul said "follow me as I follow Christ." It occurred to me that I have not heard the phrase "teachable spirit" anywhere else since I left the old church, and the thought of it made me cringe.

Ok, I'm off to get my cup of tea and head back to bed. In the meantime, which Christian catch phrases and buzzwords drive you nuts?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Spoke Too Soon!

Hmm... I knew I shouldn't have said anything about it.

Although Joe Missionary nominated this blog in two categories, it's not included in the official list of nominees over at Evangelical Underground. Was it something I said?


Well, no biggie. At least there's no danger of it going to my head now! Along with my own nominations I sent a timid little email to Preacher Eric asking why I didn't make the cut. Haven't heard back yet, not sure I want to know, lol!

I'm still very flattered, thanks anyway Joe!

Confront or Turn the Other Cheek?

When another Christian hurts you personally, how do you know when to confront (according to Matthew 18:15) or just turn the other cheek?

I am absolutely lousy at confrontation when my feelings have been hurt. When someone else is wronged, I don't have as much of a problem speaking up. But when someone does or says something hurtful to me, my tendency is to turn the other cheek.

My question is this: is there a point where turning the other cheek is the wrong thing to do? Where's the line? How do you confront someone in your own family, outside of the church?

There is a person in my real life who has been hurting me repeatedly. The latest episode was this past weekend. Out of nowhere she dragged out my past and began recounting all the wing-nut things I did when I was in the old church. She told me and everyone present that back when I was in my old church, I was driving another family member crazy all that time. (Funny, he never saw fit to tell me that himself, why bring it up now?) I burst into tears and said that I wanted to stop talking about it, that these things were very embarrassing, but she kept going.

I feel like I have to repent all over again. And I'm a little depressed to hear that I was driving this other family member crazy. That one really, really hurt. Two and a half years later and I'm still paying for everything that I thought was in the past and forgiven.

The problem is, it isn't the first time this person has started in on me and then refused to stop when I was clearly distraught. It's been happening for a long time now. It used to happen on the phone. She'd harangue at me for over an hour. One night it got so bad I just hung up on her, then felt incredibly guilty and sinful for doing so.

Conversations with this person often start off benign, so I let my guard down. Then out of no where, whammo! She blindsides me with something I never saw coming. It's like riding in a car with no brakes. Once things go off the road, you expect that both parties will stop, apologize or talk things through, and then change the subject. Not so with this one. Things just keep hurtling along, getting more and more out of control until I crack or attempt to remove myself from the conversation by hanging up or leaving.

In the past, I've just tried to get out of the conversation however possible - sometimes I take the blame and just agree with her. Then I listen to her go on for ten or fifteen minutes more about why her viewpoint is correct, while I wait desperately for an opportunity to change the subject. Sometimes I try to defend myself, but I found this only fans the flames and she becomes even more strident and determined to shoot down everything I say. Lately I've just been trying to avoid talking to her, but she's family and that only works for so long before she corners me about not talking to her and starts grilling me: "what's wrong? What's going on? etc."

What do you do in a situation like this, when you know the same thing just keeps happening over and over, but you feel powerless to change it?

Yesterday she sent me an email saying that she felt bad about upsetting me, which is as close to an actual sincere apology that I am going to get. I finally replied this morning, and decided to tell her that she hurt my feelings and embarrassed me, that I was frustrated, and I didn't know what was a safe topic of conversation anymore.

I stared at this email for almost an hour before sending it, a knot in my throat the size of Texas. But I did send it. Now I am dreading the response.

I should have just let it go. I shouldn't have said anything.

I am so bad at this.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Thank You

For most of my life I've been the person with the terribly low self esteem who would cringe when complimented. Worse, I would try to respond by trying to deny the compliment was true. "Hey, you look nice today" someone would say. I'd duck my head and say "no I don't". That sort of thing. It's annoying for the person giving the compliment and self-defeating for me. One day a very wise person perceived my difficulty, and gently suggested that I should just accept compliments and praise with grace, however difficult that may be for me.

I am reminded of this today upon learning that I've been nominated for Best Domestic Evangelical Blog (U.S) and Best New Evangelical Blog by Joe Missionary. Rather than express my instinctual, knee-jerk reaction, I'm going to try to follow that wise person's advice.

Thank you Joe, you are too kind. I really appreciate this.

I started this blog (and continue to write it) with much trepidation. I realize that a lot of the things and situations I write about can be rather unflattering to the church. From the beginning I hoped to write as one who was hurt by the church but still loves the church. Regardless of denomination, affiliation or association, I am commanded by God to love my neighbor as I love myself. This includes people who have done me wrong and hurt others in the name of Christ. I don't love what they do, but I love their souls, because every single one of them is someone Christ found it worthy to give his life for. When I write about abuses, my heart is as broken for those caught up in perpetrating wrongs as it is for those who suffer under them. Without God's intervention, forgiveness, and grace, both are headed for terrible trials of faith, or worse.

Since I began writing, I've received far more support and encouragement than I ever dreamed I would (oh me of little faith!). Those of you who read here often have been such a blessing to me, and I'm grateful for having "met" all of you. You've given me courage to keep going on with this, and I can't thank you enough for that.

I'm a little nervous about being nominated in the 1st Annual Evangelical Blog Awards, I'll admit it. All the insecurities come into play, and I find it hard to even write about this (I've been debating with myself about mentioning it here since yesterday). There are also the fears that I might attract attention from those who might misconstrue what I'm all about. But I run that risk every time I post; if I'm not over that yet, I should be!

But it is an honor to me that my blog is well thought of, it touches me very deeply and I am thankful for it.

Now, everyone please pray it doesn't go to my head, and get ready to knock me down a few pegs when necessary. Thank you!