Monday, April 18, 2011

Losses and New Beginnings -- continued

I didn't realize I hadn't posted to this blog since January 1st. I guess I was concentrating more on my new crochet blog (, even though I've only posted once to that one in 2011 so far. Soon I'll be adding another entry there with the latest few Barbie (and Skipper) gowns I''ve crocheted.

Spring finally arrived a few weeks ago, and was most welcome despite chiller-than-usual temperatures. I always enjoy the later sunsets and longer days. The weeks continue to rush by, with too much time needing to be spent at my demanding but necessary full-time job and never enough of the leisure time I treasure. Even though it seems I'm seldom able to take any days off work, I'm now out of vacation days till they're renewed in a few more weeks. Since I'll be at my present job 5 years as of May 15 (hard to believe), presumably I'll now finally get the long-awaited 3 weeks per year, so I can take a couple mini-vacations per year (funds permitting) and an occasional day at home to catch up on things or just hang out. Definitely looking forward to being able to do a bit more of that.

Sadly, I have another loss to report -- actually two. A few weeks after the thrill of my long-time pen pal Ellayne finding me on Facebook after many years, and the joy of learning she'd been happily remarried for the past 10 years, I was sad and shocked to learn of the sudden passing of her soulmate, who was my age. This was a terrible shock for my friend and she has been very much in my prayers. Just another solemn reminder that tomorrow is guaranteed to no one.

Of all weekends for me to not check my E-mail till Sunday night, this weekend was not the one I should have delayed. When I finally got online a few hours ago, after a relaxing weekend of going through recipes, a long-overdue washing of my car "Bianca", and a nice Palm Sunday church service, I found my dear friend Dianne's daughter Lisa's Facebook message that her grandpa and Dianne's beloved dad, Hal, had passed away Friday night. Hal had gone into the hospital a couple of weeks ago following a heart attack and things looked dire, but from what Dianne said Monday when I last spoke with her, it looked like her dad was stabilizing and hanging in there. I was going to phone her this weekend but figured when I didn't hear, that the situation remained the same. Now I wish I had phoned. Hal was 89 and a devoted Christian, so Dianne can take comfort in that fact (I have no such assurance with either of my parents). But I know that this is still a painful ordeal for her. I will check in with her tomorrow and hope she will understand my not having done so earlier. Hal was a wonderful man who I had seen many times over the past 21 years that we've lived in Wash., and I too will miss him.

As for the new beginnings continuing, since 2009 it's seemed that every time I think I have my church situation figured out and have made a decision on which church I belong at and will join, something happens to change that. I went from the non-denominational church Rex and I attended for several years to the small Lutheran church I have many happy memories of and where I feel a piece of me still resides, to the Methodist church, back to the Lutheran church, back again to the Methodist church. I thought I finally settled on that Methodist church, and still, something was missing. I enjoyed the services, and doctrinally, I felt comfortable. I just felt I should have more of a sense of belonging and fitting in with the others after having attended for several months. I wasn't sure why, a few months ago, I felt led to visit another non-denominational church; I was sure it would be way too contemporary for me. But I felt led to attend nonetheless. The service was indeed very contemporary and not at all liturgical. This was NOT what I was looking for in a church service. At the same time it seemed like such an alive, joyful place that I felt drawn despite my resistance to the style of the worship service. I learned they were having a chili cookoff that Friday, and I thought that sounded like fun, and I wouldn't mind having some free delicious chili! So I went. I made the rounds a few times, sampling the various offerings, when four ladies invited me to join them at their table. For the next hour or so, I experienced more fellowship and friendship from these lovely ladies than I literally ever had at ANY church I had ever been to. This was the missing link at the other churches -- this could be the answer to the isolation and lack of friends I've felt, well, pretty much my whole life. But again, this was NOT the style of church I was looking for. So now what do I do?

Well, I learned that this church had several small groups starting in a few weeks. I thought, why can't I keep going to the Methodist church on Sunday but join one of the small groups from the contemporary church to fill my need for fellowship and friendship? So about 8 weeks ago, I started attending the small group on Tuesday evenings at Mary Ann's house. We have been studying the book, "God Will Make A Way: What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do" by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend. Mary Ann and Jill, two of the ladies who befriended me at the chili cookoff, are two of the members, in addition to several other wonderful people I'm feeling increasingly close to. It took a leap of faith to begin attending this group through a church that I was sure I had no intention of being part of, but I'm so glad I did. In the meantime I continued attending the Methodist church on Sundays, tried joining the choir, signed up for their monthly brunches, but still the unshakable feeling of not belonging continued. So.......for the past few weeks, I've been attending worship services on Sundays at the very same contemporary church that I felt was everything I was not looking for. I still struggle with the lack of any liturgical elements to the service and the emphasis on praise choruses that, to me, sound like someone made them up as they went along -- and yet, it appears God led me there. I have an appointment with the pastor this Thurs. after work, and hopefully he can help me resolve the reservations I have. Everyone I've met at this church loves God so much and is readily able to extend that love to someone like me who desperately needs to be more like Christ. So I think that's the kind of environment I need to be in, in spite of the service style.

The other new beginning is, after deciding a few weeks before that I was going to give up on the idea of ever losing the excess 50 pounds I've carted around for decades, it seems God has led me to try one more time. I can't even remember now who expressed the thought that changed my mind or if it was just that God put it in my mind. But it went something like, "You're thinking of food all wrong. The purpose of food is not to be a comfort or a stress reducer. The purpose of food is fuel for your body, PERIOD. If it tastes good and is enjoyable to eat, that's a bonus. But that is NOT the main purpose of food." Now, I've known this all along as well as I know my name. But when the thought came to me a few weeks ago, it was like something clicked and the next thought was "TOPS". I had attended weekly TOPS meetings (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) on two other occasions for several months and did make some progress, but quit after only losing 15-17 pounds each time. So I decided, I MUST have the in-person accountability. It's become clear I can't do this on my own. So I'll attend each week and not quit, and will either make steady progress or give up the whole dream once and for all -- but I can't let that be an option. This weight is making me sluggish, causing insomnia, headaches, and major lack of self-esteem, and will shorten my life. It HAS to go, and this is my last hope. The love I've experienced these past couple months from my new Christian friends is empowering me to become what God wants me to be. I started last Monday, getting off to a slow start (still too tired to exercise much), but God willing, in the long run, THIS time will be different.