Archive for February, 2010

Feb 26 2010

Busy, like a thing that is busy.

Published by under Work

I’ve been working on restocking my Etsy store.  It needs restocking, because the last time I went up north I took every single thing I had made with me, and put them in Moll’s bakery, and said “Well, sell them if you can.  If not…meh”.  Which is fine, but that leaves me with no stuff to sell myself.  So, I’ve been working, if you can call it that.

Mostly, I’ve been sewing, but yesterday I decided my fabric scrap pile was getting out of control, and I needed to find something to do with all these little PIECES OF FABRIC that are taking up way too much space.  So, now I’m decoupaging pieces of fabric onto light switch covers.  Those will go into the store too, once I can bring myself to stop applying sealer.

So far, I have a grand total of four different things in my store.  The hard part is not giving stuff away to family members, because I like to give people gifts.

And, I’m always looking for ideas for new stuff!  Is there something you think I should be making (to sell, not to give to you)?  Tell me all about it!  I’d love to make money off your genius, like an Evil Overlord of Crafting.

2 responses so far

Feb 15 2010

Christian in isolation?

Published by under Spirituality/Religion

I am not an especially social person.  I do not like meeting new people.  I am shy and awkward when I am in groups that do not consist exclusively of people I’ve known for years.  I am not good at making small talk.  I blush constantly, and I say tactless things.  New situations with new people terrify me, and I can rarely be compelled to go to new places alone.  I also tend to find groups of people loud, obnoxious, lacking in manners and courtesy, and annoying.  I also know that these problems and prejudices are not exclusive to me.  Many of my friends and family members feel the same way – given our choice, we would rather huddle together in a familiar place, and keep the new and strange at bay, especially new and strange people.

So why does someone like me voluntarily leave her house most Sundays and go among people I do not know well, people who after over a year are still mostly “strangers” to me?  Why do I go to church?

I go to church for many reasons – some of them are selfish.  I like the ceremony and pageantry that the Episcopal Church provides.  I’ve always been one for a good show, and the Episcopal Church provides a good show.  I like the singing, the chanting, the routine of prayers.  However, there are other reasons I go to church, and those reasons not so easily expressed.

Darren, my priest at St. John’s, likes to preach about the difficulty of following Christ in your life.  A common theme of his sermons is the turning away from your old life, your selfish life, and turning towards the life that Christ calls us to live – a life that is, in many ways, harder, full of greater demands, and somewhat unpopular practices.  Darren talks about how each of us has something (or many things) that is personally difficult for us to overcome, or to continue to turn from.  Something that is compatible with our old life, but if we are to follow Christ, something we must work at overcoming.  For me, that “something” is my tendency to hide myself away, to avoid interaction with people, to limit my circle to the familiar.

Christians are called into fellowship with each other.  Christ himself was constantly going among new people and new places, spreading the Good News as far as he could in the short time that he had.  The Bible doesn’t tell us if Jesus the man might have been shy, if he was ever nervous about leaving his home and family to go among strangers.  It doesn’t tell us if his mortal heart pounded when he came to another new place and confronted yet another group of strangers.  It just tells us that he did these things, and he commanded us to do these things as well.  The Bible, it seems, doesn’t have time for excuses.  There is a mission to fulfill, and everyone is called to do his or her part. (“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”  Matthew 28:19-20a)

The early church was persecuted, and its followers were sometimes forced to worship in secret.  However, these early Christians did not isolate themselves from their fellow believers.  Community was paramount in their lives – to such an extent that today, we would label them as Communists.  Their money was pooled, they lived together, they ate together, they worshiped together.  (“All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and their goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.” Acts 2:44-45) Christ himself commanded us to love our neighbor – he said this was one of the great commandments.  So, the question is asked, can you love your neighbor when you do not know him?  Can you be a Christian in isolation?

To me, the answer is plain – Christians should not isolate themselves from each other, or from the greater world.  It was not easy for me to start going to a new place, among new people, and to learn a new way of doing things.  However, it is an important step onto that new path that I am called to follow.  I don’t always feel like going to church on Sunday morning.  I might be tired, or cranky, or not really feel like singing and praising God for whatever reason.  Sometimes, the social anxiety rears its head and I don’t want to go to church simply because I don’t want to be around other people.  But part of walking on the path of Christ means doing things that the old me does not want to do, to make myself part of a community, to be in communion with my fellow believers, to hear inspiration and instruction from the pulpit, to worship God as part of a group, to pray as a congregation, as Christ wanted me to do. (“Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”  Matthew 18:19-20)

Invariably, I do force myself to attend church, and once I get there, and see my fellow worshipers, and fall into the rhythm of the service, my mood improves.  It might be from hearing a message in the sermon that fits my own situation, it might be from getting a smile and handshake during the Peace, it might be because we are singing my favorite hymn or because the choir is singing a particularly beautiful song.  It might just be because I am once again celebrating Holy Eucharist with a group of people who I know share my belief in Christ and are themselves trying their best to do what is right and who are encountering their own struggles.  

Many people have said to me that they don’t go to church because they don’t feel they need to.  They read their Bible, they pray, they try to live their lives as they believe Christ wants them to.  They don’t see a benefit to attending services. They don’t like church, and they don’t like being around the people who attend church.  There are, of course, very good Scriptural reasons to attend church:

  • We are commanded to worship God, and the main focus of any church service is worship.  (Psalm 100)
  • We are commanded into fellowship with other Christians, and church provides that fellowship.  (Heb. 10:24-26)
  • We are commanded to honor and keep sacred the Lord’s Day, and church services set that day aside as something special and sacred  (Exodus 20:8-11)

However, I think Christians should also go to church quite simply because they NEED to.  We need that contact with God and with our fellow Christians, because it helps us evaluate our own lives and makes us think about the things we need to do differently.  It gives us a space to reflect on our successes and failures.  It is a time to acknowledge wrongs and receive forgiveness.  It offers us a way to pray for those who we didn’t even know needed our prayers, to worship God in a manner that is both public and personal.  It is a moment in the week where we sit back, and rest in the presence of God, and get ready to try, always try again to live our lives in the way that we should.

To say that church is unnecessary or a burden to is say that God’s commands, your fellow Christians, and perhaps even God himself is unnecessary and a burden.  If you are not finding joy and peace from your church life, you might have the wrong church or the wrong denomination.  Not every church is a good fit for every Christian – there are Episcopal churches that are too contemporary for me and where I would not feel at home.  However, if you keep looking, I think you’ll find a place where you feel comfortable worshipping, learning, and praying as part of a group.

10 responses so far

Feb 08 2010

The Florida Trip, in detail.

Published by under Friends,The Fam,The Man,Travel

We went to Florida, and the place we stayed didn’t have internet.  Or rather, they DID have internet, but it wasn’t wireless, and you had to pay $10 per day to access it in your room.  Instead of that, I kept my journal on my desktop and am uploading it now, from home.

January 29, 2010
We fly out of MBS at around 10:30 AM.  We thought we’d have a 40 minute layover in Detroit, but as it turns out, we just reach our gate as they’re beginning to pre-board.  So, we hustle to the bathrooms and get on a big ol’ jet.  As The Man and I sit down, I realize that we are flying to Orlando, home of Disney, and that’s why there are approximately 8000 children on the plane, none of whom want to sit down, and who all have parents who apparently think “treats” and “candy” are the answers to any misbehavior.  I personally don’t care, as long as they all shut up, and they do as soon as we take off and the crack – or candy – can come out of the carry ons.

Once we get to Orlando, we get our bags and get to the car rental, where we have a whole bunch of cars to choose from.  We almost grab a very boxy looking Scion before settling on the Prius, basically because none of us have ever driven a hybrid and we’re curious.  It’s black and very insect-looking.  BIL christens it “The Dung Beetle”.  It’s surprisingly roomy, and as it turns out, the ideal car for city driving.  We don’t even make a dent in the gas tank until we get onto the freeway, and that won’t be until Sunday.

We get to the resort – Blue Green’s The Fountains, if you’re curious – check into the room, stash the bags, and head out in search of food.  Since it’s already pushing 5:00, we decide just to eat at one of the restaurants on site, and head down to the outdoor bar and sandwich place.  One yummy Cuban sandwich and a much needed rum and coke later, and I feel tons better.

After dinner, we head out in The Dung Beetle to cruise International Drive.  Traffic is intense.  It’s barely even stop-and-go.  It’s mostly stop.  As it turns out, something is letting out at the convention center (which is ENORMOUS, seriously Orlando, it’s OK to stop building once something takes up like five blocks), and once we get past that, it’s pretty normal “Friday night in a large city” kind of traffic.  It seems like every road here is divided, which means lots of “Michigan lefts”, only everyone kind of piles into the turning area willy-nilly and it’s like Russian Roulette deciding of you’re going to Turn, Wait, or Crash.  Driving in Florida is nuts.  I’m glad I’m not the registered driver on the car.

January 30, 2010
It’s supposed to rain today, so we decide to head to Wonder Works, which is a crazy building that looks all upside down.  None of us know what it is.  We kind of assume it’s going to be optical illusions and tomfoolery, but when we get in, the greeter tells us it’s more of a laser tag, arcade, weird simulator place.  We decide that the outside is probably the coolest part of this thing, and opt out of paying $20 per person to feel a hurricane.  This leaves us at loose ends, so J-bird checks radar on her iPhone and figures that any rain won’t be until way later, so we all decide to head to Sea World.

Did you know it costs nigh on eighty bucks to get into Sea World?  And another twelve bucks for parking?  We did not, so there was some sticker shock.  After we coughed up the dough, we headed inside, grabbed a park map and plotted our course.  We saw two shows:  The dolphin show was outstanding, and the Shamu show was only so-so.  The exhibits were very cool.  My two favorites were the sting ray pool and the manatee rescue.  The sting rays exhibit was all open, and there were like a billion rays swimming around, and you could put your hands in there and pet them.  One of them grabbed onto my hand and I was like “OH MY GOD, I HAVE A STING RAY STUCK TO MY HAND IT FEELS LIKE A KOOSH BALL EEEEE!”  Petting them was like feeling a big, wet mushroom.  If you stuck your hand in the water, some of them would veer right for you, I guess because they thought you had food.  This freaked J-bird right out, and everytime one homed in on her, she would scream a little and pull her hand out.  The manatees were in a tank where you could stand at the top and look down on them, or go underneath for underwater viewing.  There were some young ‘uns sectioned off from the adults, and when we got there, they were all sleeping.  We took some pictures up top, and watched them sleep, and come up for air, and generally look like big rocks.  Then, we went to the underwater viewing and they all woke up and started moving around.  Some of them would come right up to the glass and look at you like “Yeah, so what?  I’m a manatee.  My top speed is 2 mph and I have no neck, what of it?”  And I could NOT STOP SAYING, “You live in the ocean ’cause you ain’t got no job, sea cow!” which no one got, and I had to explain, and it really did not translate well.  (It’s from “Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist” and me and the Youngest Miller Boy used to just go on and on with that bit).

While we were watching the Shamu show, it started to rain, and it rained off and on for the rest of the time.  Lucky for us, the rest of the stuff we wanted to see was inside, so we hustled from place to place until we were all done.  Then we went back to the resort, cleaned up, and headed out for dinner.  We ate at some Caribbean place, where we waited on the patio for a table, and all wished they would have just served us out there, because there was a dude playing steel drums, torches burning, and those nice infrared heat thingys.  But, they took us inside, and I got a delicious seafood paella that was about twice as big as I needed.  The Man had jerk chicken and cinnamon mashed sweet potatoes, and he said it was good, but everything was very sweet.  After dinner, we headed back to the resort and sat in the hot tub for awhile, even though it was really more like the tepid tub, because I swear the heat was not going at all.  It was warmer than the outside, but since the outside was like, 55 degrees, that’s not saying much.

January 31, 2010
Today, we get off to a late start.  We were supposed to be on the road by 8:00, because that’s what we told Dad, but after we get up, and get around, and have breakfast at IHOP, it’s 10:00 AM and we’re just setting out on I-4, heading toward Tampa.

We get to Dad’s house in New Port Richey at about noon, and not long after that, he starts the grill.  We sit around BSing for about three hours about who knows what, and checking out his house and yard, and looking at old pictures, then we eat and BS some more, and then we head out to a beach in Tarpon Springs so that The Man and I can see the Gulf, because neither one of us ever has.  Unfortunately, it’s only 50 degrees and there is a nice wind a-whipping, so it’s not ideal beach weather, but it’s still gorgeous scenery and I get some nice pictures of the sunset, and the ocean, and Dad before we have to leave because the park is closing.

This area is full of gorgeous live oaks just dripping with Spanish moss, and Dad warns us not to try to grab the moss because mites live in it that will burrow into our skin and cause Pain and Suffering.  Anyway, that’s what he’s heard from the people who’ve lived here their whole lives, and it’s not a theory we’re anxious to test, so we leave the Spanish moss on the trees and just look.

At around 7:00 PM, we all realize that it’s going to take us two hours to get back to Orlando, so we say goodbye to Dad and get in The Dung Beetle.  We get back to the resort at around 9:00, order a pizza, and chill out for the rest of the night.

February 1, 2010
Today, the plan is to head to Winter Park, which is this little community somewhat north, which is supposed to have museums and all kinds of shops and great houses.  We do get there, after only a little confusion, and it is a very pretty place.  It’s very European in feeling, not that I’d know first hand what Europe is like.  However, all the museums and many of the shops are closed on Mondays, and before too long it starts to downpour rain.  we head back to The Dung Beetle and drive around the town for awhile, looking at all the mansions and the campus of the private university (Rollins College) which is in the town.  We head back to the resort and decide to spend a few hours in the pool before heading out for dinner, which tonight is going to be at Medieval Times.

I’m actually the only one who’s ever been to Medieval Times, although I went to the one in Toronto, so The Man is asking me all sorts of questions that I can’t answer, because I was there when I was 18, which is a long time ago.  The dinner is good, and the show is not too bad, although our seats are not the best.  We’re in the front row, but way on the end, and pretty much right in the path of one of the spotlights.  Everyone agreed, it was something fun to do ONCE, but nothing we’d go back to again.

February 2, 2010
This is the first of our two Disney days.  Jimmer, who moved to Orlando a couple of years ago, works for Disney and can get us all into one park for free.  We decide to go to Magic Kingdom, partly because J-bird and BIL have never been to that one, and partly because if you go to Magic Kingdom you can also get into Epcot, so it’s a two for one deal.

Jimmer meets us at the resort and we all ride over in The Dung Beetle and park at Epcot, since we plan on ending our day there, the parking is easier, and we don’t have to tram in as we would if we parked at Magic Kingdom.  It is raining at the beginning of the day, but that’s all right because we’re all armed with rain ponchos and umbrellas.  After we ride the monorail and get into the park, the rain is pretty much over, so we stash our rain gear and start hitting rides and attractions.  The rain has scared off a lot of people so we never have to wait for anything.

We go on the Buzz Lightyear ride and Space Mountain, and then start working our way around, hitting the Snow White ride, It’s a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Haunted Mansion.  We get to see the Hall of Presidents, which is pretty impressive.  We get a good spot for the afternoon parade, and then get on the Jungle Cruise and walk through the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House.  After that, we head back to the monorail to get back to Epcot.

By the time we get back to Epcot, it’s about 6:00, so we get onto Spaceship Earth and then start hitting the countries.  We do a lot of walking, checking out the shops and different buildings, and some snacking, but we kind of have to rush through the last two (Norway and Mexico) because the fireworks start at 9:00 PM, and that’s also when things shut down.  We watched the fireworks, the theme of which was “Reflections of Earth”, and then headed back to the resort so Jimmer could get his car and go home.  After Jimmer took off, we headed out for a late supper (it being about 10:30 at this point), and had a very unsatisfactory experience at a Friendly’s.  We got back to the resort at around midnight and collapsed into bed.

February 3, 2010
Disney day number two is taking us to Animal Kingdom, so after breakfast, we head out.  Today is sunny and not raining, so we know there are going to be a lot more people.  Jimmer recommended we get a Fast Pass for Expedition Everest, but since we got kind of a late start, Fast Pass distribution was over by the time we got there.  None of us really cared, though, since Animal Kingdom closes at 5:00 PM.  We didn’t want to waste a lot of time waiting in lines when we could be looking at animals.

We headed off toward the Maharajah Jungle Trek, which is a nice walk-through exhibit of Asian animals.  After that, we booked over to the Africa section to get on the safari.  We had to wait in a little bit of a line – only about 30 minutes – but it was worth it.  We got lucky, and a lot of the animals were out and active.  Several of them came pretty close to the vehicle, which was cool.

After the safari, we walked through the Pangani Forest trail, and saw some more African wildlife.  Next, we jumped on the train up to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, which sounded MUCH cooler on the guide than it ended up being.  It was more of a spot for smaller kids.  The petting zoo (called the Affection Section, of all things) had the standard goats, sheep, and llamas.  We got out of there pretty fast, rode the train back to the main section of the park, walked around the big Tree of Life in the middle, and that was it.  We got out of the park just before the ending parade, and we didn’t want to see any of the shows.  It was a relatively quick park day, but it was still five hours, and all of us were dead on our feet.

We drove back to the resort, changed into jeans, and had dinner at Benihana.  After that, it was hot tub time to soothe our aching everythings, and then back to the room for relaxing.  The Man and I headed back early, J-bird and BIL stayed to sit in the sauna and maybe swim in the pool.

February 4, 2010
On our last full day here, we head back to Winter Park to go to the museums and see the shops that we were denied on Monday.  The weather is gorgeous, and I’m glad that we did all our parks early, when the weather was not so good, because the crowds today are probably horrible.  Winter Park is busier than it was on Monday, which makes sense, because not only is the weather nice, but everything is open.

We head first to the Morse Museum, which has a large collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany art glass, and some oil paintings.  Then we decide to walk around the shops and see what there is to see.  The shops are very upscale, and no one buys anything, but we stop at a cafe and sit outdoors eating ice cream, and in The Man’s case, the biggest piece of carrot cake EVER BAKED.  Seriously, his piece of cake took up the whole plate, and they served it on a dinner plate.

After that, we head over to the Cornell Museum, which is on the campus of Rollins College, to check out the small exhibits of fine art.  Once we’re done with that, it’s almost 4:00, and we head back to the hotel to figure out what we’re doing for dinner.  We decide to head to Bogard’s, which is supposed to be a seafood/steak/BBQ place.  The food is all right, nothing to write home about.  We stay at the resort for the rest of the night, reading and packing.

February 5, 2010

Everyone is ready to go early in the morning, which turns out to be a good thing.  We’ve decided not to eat breakfast until we’re through security at the airport.  When we get to Orlando International, we find out that our flight has been delayed, and delayed again, and we’re likely to miss our connection in Detroit.  J-bird and BIL find a Delta agent who shoehorns us onto a flight to Detroit that is leaving in the next few minutes, so it’s fortunate that we got to the airport so early. The only downside is that our bags have already been assigned to the other flight, so if it is canceled or delayed more, they might not be waiting for us at our home airport.  Nothing we can do about that, and as The Man and I live ten minutes from our home airport, it’s not that big of a deal to drive back and pick them up later, if we need to.

The flight into Detroit has a lot of turbulence, but nothing too hair raising.  We land at DTW at the time our other flight should have taken off from Orlando.  We’re not due to fly out of Detroit until 4:20 PM, so The Man and BIL try to get us onto an earlier 2:00 PM flight, but the Delta agents in Detroit are nowhere near as helpful as their Orlando colleagues, and the two boys are told to use the Help Line, which of course never even gets them to a real person.  J-bird and I, meanwhile, are sitting in a pub across the way, and once our food arrives, we kind of motion “never mind” to the boys.

By the time we’re done eating, we are all pretty well resigned to waiting for the later flight, and head to the gate to wait.  The flight is only delayed ten minutes, and pretty soon we are flying home.  When we land, we head straight to baggage claim, where by great good luck, our bags are waiting for us.  We load up the car and J-bird and BIL drop us off at home.

I am avoiding doing laundry by rationalizing that it’s all summer clothes and therefore not stuff we need right away.  Let’s see how long that will last.

One response so far

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