Monday, September 29, 2008

"(If You Don't Understand Grace, See Page 177)"

I am supposed to teach a confirmation class at my new church. This is a good opportunity to lay out some solid Christian teaching. If only 1) I were a decent teacher and 2) I knew what a confirmation class was really supposed to look like. This is not part of my church tradition.

Meanwhile, I've been given certain tools and helps, such as files from past confirmation classes, and a book from my new pastor. The book is pretty useful, though maybe a little simplistic. I was particularly struck by the simplistic bit when I read the quote that makes up the title for this post. (I'm not sure it was page 177, but you get the idea.)

I think when you grow up in the church and basically follow the rules, the concept of grace is particularly hard to grasp, both because the word gets thrown around a lot, and because you don't realise how much you need it and have been offered it. I still remember a particularly rocky time in London when it finally hit home to me both how powerful grace was to receive, and how difficult it was to give. I thought to myself, "How did I even think I was a Christian before?! I never understood this!"

And I'm not sure I understand it even now. Grace shows up in unexpected places, and is required in them, too. Sometimes I blink and miss it, and sometimes it stares me unblinking in the face so that I can't miss it but I almost want to run from it. It's so simple and so difficult, and right now I feel more in need of giving and receiving it than ever, and from many different angles.

What I do know is that, even when I'm afraid of it, I'm grateful for it. I don't understand how people make it through life without it. And I'm quite sure page 177 isn't ever going to sum it up.

Friday, September 26, 2008

You Like Me! You Really Like Me!

(Apologies--just a little bit--to Sally Field.)

Pastor-Marty, because he is kind and cool, nominated me for a couple of his 2nd issuance of "Bloggle Awards," and I actually won one. I, because I am glaringly self-promotional, am thus telling you. This is particularly an honour because not only is it coming from Pastor-Marty, but my name got stuck in there with kind-of-famous people like Winn Collier and Donald Miller and Jon Acuff. Yikes!

There's a part of me that still kind of wonders if this is some sort of error, but I once told someone to stop brushing off compliments because it devalues the opinion of the person who gave it. And I wouldn't want to be guilty of the same, now would I? So instead, I'm expressing the value of Pastor-Marty's opinion by telling you all about it. Yeah . . . that's it . . .

Goodbye Kitty

Friends-Down-the-Street have decided to adopt Sparks. This is nice, because it means she won't be too far away. But even though said friends live just down the street, I almost never see them, so I'm not overly hopeful I'll see much of her anymore either.

The Children-of-Six have really bonded with her, and, contrary though it sounds, that actually has more influenced my decision to give her up than anything else does. They have loved and wrestled and bullied most of the scratchiness out of her, so that this morning I could pick her up and carry her around the whole time I made coffee, and she fell asleep in my arms. It was very wonderful, and I thought, "I'm not sure I want to give this little one up after all."

But the reality is, it's the kids she's been bonding with, not me. I have been home this week a grand total of maybe seven waking hours (until today) and when I have been home and awake, the kids have been playing with her, so I've had scarcely any time with her at all. The longer they're here, the closer they'll bond, and the harder it will be when the Family-of-Six inevitably leaves. She'll miss them, and I hate to think what that means she'll do to, say, the furniture. So it seems kinder, in my mind, to give her to some people now who will love her and take good care of her and be home a little more than I ever am to spend time with her. I know cats are low-maintenance and everything, but this one seems to thrive on attention, and I am able to give her very little. So on Sunday, it seems, I will be saying goodbye.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

(I Can't Think of Anymore Titles With Cat Puns Except "Cat-astrophe," But I Have A Feeling I'll Need to Save That One)

Aside from irrational fears about what it means to be a single, female cat-owner, things just really aren't going that well.

Maybe it's because Spark Plug doesn't like her name (even though we call her "Sparks" or "Sparkle" instead). Whatever the reason, though, she and I don't seem to be getting along very well. Sunday was nice--but that was it. Since then we've just been driving each other nuts.

I don't think this speaks very well for me, somehow. On the other hand, it's one thing for me to alter my life and habits for the presence of other human beings. I have a much harder time doing it for animals, I'm afraid. I just don't think I'm that good with them . . . and I'm not entirely sure I care, except in the sense that I feel as if I should.

So, if you know of anyone who would like a very cute little kitten with a ton of personality which would probably blossom around someone who isn't me, let me know. We'll just pack her right into the engine and drive her on over . . .

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Family-of-Six is away for the weekend again. I suspect they will be triple-checking their engine before they return.

Meanwhile, I am sort of reluctantly bonding with the kitten. Last night didn't go so well. Today went a lot better--to the point that I had a meltdown about it, alone (except for the cat), in the kitchen. I kind of don't want it to go well, because apart from the fact that my brother and his family will be here over Christmas and apparently he is violently allergic to cats, I have this superstitious but deep-seated fear that having a cat will be the death knell to all my marital hopes and aspirations. I fear that I am just a couple of months away from becoming The Cat Lady.

The fact that I just forked over a large sum of money (nevertheless at a seemingly divinely orchestrated discount price) for a twin mattress set was already giving me ominous intimations of such things, but if I end up getting a cat without even trying, it really feels to me like someone is saying, "Since you are going to be alone for the rest of your life, here is a companion. You're already well on the way to eccentric."

On the other hand, if someone steps forward and says they are just dying to have a cat and they would love to take this kitten off my hands, then I will feel like I am just a way-station for living beings; I provide friendship or housing for people--and now, apparently, animals--for as long as they need it, and then they move on to whatever they're really supposed to be doing with their lives.

Sometimes my reasoning gets a little fuzzy. But that might be the presence of kitten-fur all of a sudden.

The Milk Guy (to whom I did not relate any of this angst) says I should lighten up and watch the Simpsons. Which is on in two minutes. So for once I'm going to take his advice, and do it.

Friday, September 12, 2008


I have been gearing up for a post in which I said something like, "Sorry guys. I seem to be incapable of blogging. This is the end (of the blog). Good bye."

This might have something to do with the fact that I have two part-time jobs, one which is so new I don't know anything even though some people expect me to, and one which is so old I am close to being able to say I hate it; I have a family of six living with me in my (parents') house; I just had a very well-turned-out booksigning; I am going in for surgery in a week and a half; and I'm still trying to maintain a good but challenging friendship with the Milk Guy.

Most of these things are stressors of my own choosing, but not all of them, and in any case, I'm quite sure I would not have chosen the timing. (I would have spaced them out considerably.) The combined effect is a sort of verbal constipation, which I realise is a repulsive analogy, but it really is kind of how my brain feels right now.

And then the cat showed up.

I should probably explain why there's a Family-of-Six living in my house first, but I'm not going to. Suffice it to say that this Family went away last weekend and returned on Wednesday night. When I left for work the following morning, I heard an inexplicable, high-pitched mewing near the garage--but I couldn't see anything, so I got in my car and left for work.

When I returned home, a long stressful shift and a professional massage later, Heather-of-Six said, "I have to show you something."In the downstairs bathroom, asleep in a box, was an eight-week-old kitten. Said Kitten-of-Seven (evidently) had climbed into the engine of their car while they had been visiting its owners, ridden back in the engine from New Hampshire for two hours, and been discovered freaking out in my driveway by the children in the middle of the afternoon.

I have never had a cat. My mother and grandmother both really dislike cats, and I have little time or patience to want to train one. I don't want cat-hair all over my things, and I don't want it scratching the furniture and draperies, and I don't know that I can afford to keep one. So we are trying to see if anyone down here will take it. But I have this feeling no one will. I kind of think I'm supposed to have it. If this is the case, it will no doubt be a blessing and I will be oh so happy she's here. But in the meantime: Sigh.

Did I mention change stresses me out?

She is really beautiful, though . . .

Photo by jennw2ns: Surprise 2008.