Sunday, August 31, 2008

It was the best of times...It was the worst fo times...

That was the church we went to this morning. This was one that I pass every time I go to work. It has a great location - easy to get to and fairly close. So far things are looking good! A friend of ours who although does not attend there had visited and recommended that it might be a place to look at. So taking his advice we did.

One of the things that I really liked at our old church was the mix of music. It is a personal preference but I like a mix of traditional music (hymns) and contemporary. It is just that a preference. There is more to the church than the music and I know that. However when we walked in today and they had that mix down perfectly. It felt just wonderful. It was musically, by far the best church we have visited all summer.

I was feeling positive. Then there was the announcement time and the feeling started to fade. They were pushing (and I mean pushing) all the new stuff that is going to start next week. They even had a promotional video sketch to promote one of them. (Personal peeve - just because you can to show a video in church doesn't mean that you should) I guess it wouldn't have been quite so bad if they had not had it ALL already listed in the bulletin - and that was all that was there. No listing of what was going to be sung, no listing of what scripture was going to be used for the service just lists and lists of what else you can do.

Next was the part that clinched it: the "sermon". That was indeed the worst of times. I quickly found out why there was no scripture listed in the bulletin - scripture was almost totally unnecessary to what the preacher was talking about. It might have been a nice speech at a Kiwanis's club, but its reference to the Bible was passing at best. He was saying that we all need to change the things we are doing (which was true) but gave NO instruction as to how that could be done. It was definitely the gospel of works.

I remember when I was in high school and I heard about people who wrote to each other every day. I just couldn't understand that - what was there to talk about? When I was in college I met Tom and then I understood. I didn't intend to write every day but before long I was in love and I wanted to write every day. The same has been true with my relationship with God. I did pray the perfunctory, "Please bless so-and- so" or "Thank you for this and that" or "Please help me I need...." but that was it. Then I really got to know Him and all that changed. I can't wait to talk to him. The idea that I wouldn't spend time with Him is ridiculous. I love Him and with Him is where I want to be. I am looking for a church that has the same attitude about him that I do. Today was NOT it.

The sermon was from that first self -centered strength perspective. You need to do this. The point was missed entirely. It is not what you do or don't do. It is based on a relationship with God that makes you want to do it. Just wanting to by yourself will get you no where - the entire Old Testament shows that. To have a real and transforming relationship with God, you need, well, God.

When I left and I was very disappointed. I was so hopeful at the beginning. It started out so well and then it just flopped. But as I sit and write this now, I feel something even worse. There were so many there, who because of this sermon - and others like it, feel that if they just "try a little harder" that they can get "right" with God and in so doing only looking at themselves and miss him entirely. It is now where I really feel sad for those people.

Monday, August 25, 2008

First day Fiasco

Oh, where do I start - I guess it should start with a warning. I am on a rant - and I am going to put it all in writing and all right here. So if you are not in the mood or if you are squeamish may I suggest one of my other blog entries for your perusal. But for now on with the show.

I guess I will begin with the whole idea of going back to school before Labor day. In short, I am against it. I really don't see that there is any point in going to school for a few days just to have a long weekend and have to start all over again. I just know that when I was homeschooling, we never started before Labor day and we were always done before the public schools.

Those were the "good old days". I mean the days when I was true homeschooling. I had my own curriculum and I chose what we learned and when we learned it. Those days are gone. I had good reasons for choosing to use a virtual school, but after days like today, I really question those motives. It is days like this that leave me scratching my head wondering why I ever left.

Today, August 25, was to be the first day of school. This was announced and publicized before school ended last year so it should take no one by surprise - especially the school who had the idea. But it seems to have done just that. We were to receive book shipments before school started - and we are still waiting. I will deal with the high school specifically later but Timothy has a few of his lit books, his lab supplies and a Latin/English dictionary. Emily has all of her lit books and a map and globe - neither of which are truly necessary to teach the class she has. Poor Eva has not received any books at all.

Strike one: school started, no books

However this is a virtual school. That means that some of the classes are online, specifically science (as long as they don't need the lab book for that lesson) and Emily's history is on the computer so even though we didn't have the books we could get started with those. I tried to take heart that at least they did something today. That little hope did not last long though.

Now comes high school. The school, Ohio Virtual Academy, (yes, normally I try to be very generic in what I write about to not hurt any feelings or step on any toes - but I am so mad at OHVA right now that I would love for the whole world to hate them as much as I do) has decided that it's students are all idiots. Rather than giving them their books (see above) and introducing their teachers and getting down to learning they have devised a 2 week "introduction" period. That period today started at 8 am where all the high school students had to log into the same virtual classroom. But it is not the students alone who have to suffer. All the high school teachers were to be there too. In the school's epic wisdom (note: sarcasm) they did not have enough moderator positions available for all the teachers. So the teachers in addition to attempting to exert control over a failing site had to compete with each other for a chance to run their part of the program. Even if they say that they didn't know how many students were coming, I would think that they at least know how many teachers they have - but I guess not. Then: DISASTER! So with around 900 students and teachers to no great surprise - except it seemed the schools the server crashes.

STRIKE 2: Virtual school crashes

I received a letter later in the day (through their internal e-mail which is another rant altogether) saying that they were not expecting so many students and that the introduction would be rescheduled for 1 this afternoon. HELLO - if you tell all the students to be in one place, and you have not provided any books so that they can do anything but be there how can you say that you were not expecting it?????? The trouble with this is that even at 1:30 when I was finally able to get back on the system I couldn't get to the classroom where they were until after 2pm.

I want to make it clear that I do not hold the teachers responsible for these mishaps. I am sure that they have been yelled at all day by irate parents like myself (I made it a point to address my concerns to the principals and not the teachers). I have really liked most of the teachers that I have met - actually feel sorry that they have to work within this ill conceived and unrealistic system.

I know that on the first day of school not much learning really takes place but I can assure you that NONE took place today. And the really sad thing is, I don't see much of a change for tomorrow. We still do not have any books and I have a feeling that even though the site crashed today they thought it a fluke because they have asked us to do the same thing for tomorrow. I will try - for the sake of my kids - but if there are technical difficulties tomorrow it will be strike three and I will be out til September 2 (Oh, I forgot to mention - they expect the high school students to be in school on Labor day. I know that at least one of them will not be)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A lesson learned

It was 10 years ago this summer that I found my last church. I had watched the church I grew up in dieing for years. Leaving that first church really wasn't all that hard. I searched for what seemed like forever at the time, but in reality was not long at all. Finally one Sunday I opened the phone book and put my finger down and that was going to be the church I was going to that week. That was it that was my church. I suspected it when I walked in, and I knew it as soon as I heard the minister speak. I was at last at home.

That church became so much more to me than a place to go on Sunday morning. There are people there who are friends. I have shared some of my happiest moments (like the birth of Emily) and some of my saddest ( like loosing both my parents in 10 months) with them - and you just don't forget or easily walk away from people who have been through things like that with you. But that formal connection is now gone. And I am once again looking for someplace that isn't a house where I live, but rather a family and a way to live, that I can call home.

The search has not been that difficult if I am honest. So far we have visited several churches. Some were where friends attend. Some were places we had wanted to "check out" and some were just places that caught my eye as I drove by. During the week, I just need to check the web or call the office to make sure that we have the right times, then show up on Sunday morning. Like I said, not that hard.

BUT, It hasn't been easy either. I realized today that I will probably not have the same experience. I don't think that I am going to walk into anyplace and feel "home" like I did before. Then I remembered something that I had read in a Janette Oake novel. She was referring to a character that had lost her first husband and remarried. She learned to love her second husband as much as the first, but in a very different way. The first love came with bells and whistles and butterflies in the stomach. The second love came softly and over time. I have had my bells and whistles and that was what I had known. That is what I was looking for again. Although it may happen that way again, more than likely it will not. This love will be one that comes softly.

So with that lesson at last learned, we headed off to a church of our choosing today. I stumbled across it driving home from picking strawberries. If you didn't know it was there, you could easily miss it. But I didn't. Emily attended VBS there this summer. And even after that (seeing how they run their VBS program has turned me off to more churches than I can list) I still wanted to go back. They had Sunday school for all ages and a friendly congregation. They have a well spoken minister who speaks truth from the Bible. So today's church is one of 2 we attended this summer that will warrant a second look sometime

Friday, August 22, 2008

NOT a happy camper

I had my surgery on 8/12. I think I can call it a success. My wrist is doing much better. I still am having issues with my tennis elbow, but I have heard that this takes a long time to heal. So to comfort myself as there is so much I can not do (get my hand wet and not pick up anything heavier than a quart of milk are the two that are the most limiting) I console myself by scrapping.

I was scrapping this morning. That in itself is a good sign. For years I couldn't even think of picking up any scrapping stuff til after 10 in the morning. My hand would just not function before then. I was scrapping at 7! I was feeling really good - and really enjoying myself until Eva came along.

Just about a year ago Eva broke her toe. There is really nothing that can be done for a broken toe other than to stay off of it and let it heal. So for 6 weeks I enforced what the doctor had said and wouldn't allow her to run or jump or take games at Awana for that period of time.

This morning, it came back to haunt me. I had just finished a page - a page with stitching on it none the less! I showed it to Eva.

She said, "You just had surgery on you wrist 10 days ago. You shouldn't be scrapping. You wouldn't let me run for 6 weeks."

Now I don't know if I should be scrapping or on the computer at all. The doctor didn't say anything either way so I am just playing it smart. I try, and if it hurts I stop or if I get tired, I quit. And there is NO WAY that I could go 6 weeks without scrapping.

I was not in a great mood after my 11 year old was playing the mom card on me. Then the doctor called. I was to go in on Mon. to get the bandages off and see what progress I have made. I can't wait. Just to be able to wash both my hands and get this frayed and grungy wrapping off my wrist is what I am looking forward to the most. That was til the doctor called and said that he had to cancel that appointment, could I come on Wed. instead. That means another 2 days of not being able to bathe or get dressed without assistance. As I said, I am NOT a happy camper right now.

I think I need to go scrap to let off some steam...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Eat or Meds?

It is bad enough when I have to make that decision for myself. (I was forced to stop taking my meds about 6 months ago because we couldn't afford it) But I HATE to have to make that decision when it involves my kids. Timothy is ADD and has used meds through the school year. He didn't take them over the summer but now that school is starting back up, we need to start with them again.

Being that he has grown (alot) I had to take him back to the dr. to get a new RX. I also made a point to ask for a cheaper med. The $125 per month was really putting a strain on our budget. She gave me a new med and when I checked on the price of that one, it was $25 more per month. I was just about in tears. I called her and asked to give us the original RX back. I don't know how we are going to manage that but I guess we will try somehow. I know that he will only get them on school days - NONE on the weekends or holidays. Maybe that way it will last a little longer.

As my grandmother used to say, "It is no crime being poor, but it is a damn inconvenience"

Sunday, August 17, 2008


We began our search for a new church in July - which is summer and admittedly not the best time to look for a church. But we have had some of the worst luck looking. We have yet to see a "typical" service. Either the minister is on vacation that week or what has been more likely is that there is something "special" going on. The funny (and rather sad) thing is, when we hit these special Sundays almost everyone apologizes for them. To me, if they decide to do it, do it but if you feel you need to apologize for it, then maybe you shouldn't do it.

Ok enough of my soap box for now. We had another one of those "special" Sunday services today. But at least they were excited about it and didn't apologize.

The church we visited was one that was not new to us. I visited that as a child. I visited the Awana program there too. It was because of that I knew about Awana and were able to send my kids there - where they have been attending for 10 years in the fall. So to sat this was a new church is not accurate. The church split about 5 years ago and many of the member left. So we have been attending the Awana program longer than many of the current church members. No, new is not one of the names I would call this church.

One of the things that we are looking for in a church is Sunday school for EVERYONE on Sunday morning. To me Sunday school is where I have learned most about my faith. It is smaller and unlike in a sermon I can ask questions. I find that has been a BIG help in my spiritual journey. I am just astounded at the number of churches who don't think that adults need it. They have kids Sunday school, but unless you want to go to women's group on Wed, or men's group on Fri, or Bible study on Sat. morning there is no adult religious teaching. I don't think that these things are wrong, but I just don't want to have to go to church 4 days a week for the family to attend. Another pet peeve of mine is that there is no Sunday school in the summer. Maybe I am wrong, but I don't' remember anywhere it says that Satan goes on vacation from Memorial day weekend to Labor day weekend.

This church did have Sunday school - quite a variety. The kids went to their age appropriate classes and Tom and I chose from about 5 adult classes the one on James. Now James is one of my favorite books so I was really looking forward to it. That was till class started. I felt like the class was being taught by Professor Binns from the Harry Potter series. This man just droned on and on for an hour. I couldn't wait to leave. So I know that if we ever go back, I will not be attending any of his classes again.

The real surprise came with the worship service. Evidently they have had a series of messages on marriage. And today was special because during the service anyone who wanted to could renew their marriage vows. So with no planning afore though we did. It was really rather sweet and moving, but I think had we known we were going to do it for more than 15 minutes before it happened we might have got a little more out of it.

I will say that it was one of the better messages we had heard and that was a nice change so some. And maybe we might go back (besides when Awana starts in a few weeks). I am sure that given enough time I might even feel comfortable there, but I just don't feel the spark that is totally undefinable that says "this is home". I felt that in my last church and I am aware that just like true love, there may only be one, but at least for now, I want to keep looking.

Friday, August 15, 2008

One MAD mom

That is what I am mad and scared!

The house that is next door is a rental property and with one exception the people who have lived there are the type that I would not choose to live next to...the crazy bi-polar woman, the juvenile delinquent, the shoplifter, the people who owned 13 pit bulls, and the drunk. Not a parade of high society - but I at least tried to be friendly to all of them, and at this point, I would gladly take any of them back as opposed to who is living there now.

Our new neighbor is a convicted rapist and a child molester. He has served 8 years in prison for raping 2 girls - ages 6 and 11. THOSE ARE THE AGES OF MY DAUGHTERS!!!!!!!!

I would love to pick up and move, but that is not an option. I am hoping that being that it is a rental, that maybe he will not be there that long. But til then how we live has totally changed. I can no longer let my kids play unattended in out fenced in back yard. There will be no leaving them at home while I just run to the store. Just at the age where they were gaining some independence I have to take it all away for their own safety.

I know that he has "served his time". And I know that everyone has a right to live somewhere. I just wish that he were not right next door to me. We have another offender on the street and though I don't like it, they are not next door so I just live with it.

So here I am, scared and angry and not sure what I am going to do.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Just a click away

And at present clicking is about all I can do comfortably. I am happy with my rate of recovery but there is no denying that it is slow. I won't see the dr. again til Tues at the earliest so til then it will pretty much be hunt and peck typing - which is not really efficient to post much - but doubt many read this anyway.

I have been told no housework - which breaks my heart -NOT so I have spent most of my convalescence either sleeping or just clicking away on the web. I did add a slide show and a few links to the blog so I feel like I have maybe accomplished something.

But I am at the end of my typing rope so this is all for today.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Surgery today

I am not giong to be posting much...very hard w/ 1 hand.

I had my LONG awaited CT surgery. All went well. The nurses were impressed that I could even tie my own shoe. (pathetic, a grown woman excited about tieing her own shoes) Pain is not bad but typing is a bit of a hassle so hopefully I can do more later.

Thanks to all for your prayers

Sunday, August 10, 2008

One day, One preacher, two churches

Today we went to church. Our Pastor, Jim, was preaching at our sister church and we went to hear him there. I came from a Caucasian congregation on the west side of Cleveland. I don't know exactly how it originated but we have a sister relationship with a African American church on the east side. We have over the years done Lenten studies and pulpit switches. And for reasons unknown to me as to why Jim was preaching at Affinity.

Jim is a very gifted preacher and in the weeks of searching for churches we have all missed hearing him speak. The kids, who had never really heard anyone else, have realized how blessed we were to have him. So when the opportunity arose to hear him again, we went.

Although we have ceased regular Sunday morning worship at our church, we have a pot luck for a time of fellowship and a message every second Sunday evening. So we went there too. It was nice to see the people who were there - and to hear Jim preach again (yes it was a different message) But it also felt very odd to be back. I won't say that we have made a total break with that congregation but mentally we really don't belong there any more either. The hard part is that as of yet we don't belong anywhere else either.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Doctors and Dragons

I was not impressed with the way the day started but fortunately it ended much better than it started.

I noticed that my arm was hurting about the end of April. We had a beautiful day and went to the park. We took Lady with us. I held her most of the time and she was pulling on my arm. After that, it just wouldn't stop hurting.

So the middle of May I went to see our doctor. She said that the pain was most likely from my carpel tunnel syndrome - which I have had for years, but had just begun to get worse. She gave me a prescription for an anti-inflammatory and said come back in 2 weeks.

Two weeks later was the end of May. I went back and she gave me a recommendation to see a neurologist. The earliest appointment was for the beginning of July. So what choice did I have but to wait. Which I did. So July 8 was my test. What a surprise - it showed that I had carpel tunnel syndrome. I knew that from the test I took 7 years ago! The neurologist said that he would send the results to my primary doctor in 7 - 10 days.

Fourteen days later I called the neurologist again to ask where my test results were. The answer was lost somewhere between doctor's offices. I had them mail me a copy that I received the next day. So with results in hand and the day before I was to leave for DC I went to my doctor to get a recommendation for a different neurologist to do the surgery.

My doctor called the second neurologist and made a tentative appointment for August 4. I was told that the Doctor would call and confirm. Knowing that we would be on vacation I gave the cell numbers. I had now been waiting 3 months and I was not going to miss the call.

Of course, no call came. I though that there might be a message on the machine at home - but when we arrived home, no such luck. I figured that I would just call my doctor and get the information for the neurologist. Except that she was out of town, and wouldn't be back til Monday. That was cutting it close but what choice did I have?

So Monday morning dawned and I called my doctor -who was still not back! I knew that the appointment was on the 4th, and I thought it was at 11:00, but all I could remember was that the neurologist's name started with a P and I had never known were the office was. It took 6 phone calls to my doctor's office, her answering service, and finally the neurologist to confirm the appointment and find out the details.

But now only 4 months after going to the doctor, I finally have my surgery date set for next Tuesday. And the reason I went to see the doctor was because my elbow hurt. Yes, my wrist hurt, but my elbow hut more, was only half caused by the carpel tunnel syndrome - I have tennis elbow too.

So after the morning's odyssey of doctors and stuff I needed a break. I went shopping for scrapbook supplies. I was very pleased to find an album that will be perfect for my vacation pictures. So I am off and scrapping (at least as much as my arm will let me)

Todd has been asking when we wanted to role play. It has been years since I had done it, even longer since Tom played, Timothy is just getting started and Eva had never played at all. August is a slow month for all of us so Todd came over last night and we rolled up characters and started a new game. I remember playing an how much I enjoyed it. That had not changed. When I put a halt to the game at midnight I think we had all had a great time. We are playing again tonight too.

But what was really amazing is what I learned afterwards. I went upstairs for my time with the Lord after playing. I had a great time, but after just a few minutes with Him, I realized a new perspective. As much as I like to play the game, when scheduling gets tight or other things come up, I can leave the game and really not miss it much. What I realized is that is how I felt about the game, but that was NOT how I felt about Him. No matter what, I will not miss or give up my time with Him. It was just another realization of just how much I have come to love and depend on Him - and that was something that I was not thinking about. I am glad that I made the discovery.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Are you the Pastor?

We were greeted with that when we walked into church this morning. As it seems our luck all summer this was not a "typical" Sunday. Their Pastor was on vacation. They knew that the substitute was coming and had kids so when they saw us, they assumed that Tom was the sub. It seems no matter where we go someone wants us to serve.

After the initial shock wore off we settled in. The service was very nice. It was a different denominational style than I am used to, but I liked it. (Yes the substitute pastor was very good) The music was only contemporary, and although I prefer a blend of traditional and contemporary, I could learn to live with it comfortably.

We also saw a friendly face - which was a nice surprise. There was a family that attended our old church for a while. They were attending that church now. It was good to them. We really liked the service - and that is too bad.

There are many children (10 and under) in the church but there is NO middle school of youth group. And with Timothy 14 and Eva almost 12 that is one of the things that is a very high priority for us. So even though we liked it we will not be going back there.