Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Whose words alone can catch a falling star?

I haven't been to church in more than a year. I don't intend to go back.

Weird, right? It feels weird to type this.

I've been attending church my whole life. Every Sunday. I did a lot of activities with my church youth group growing up, with varying results. (To be honest, a lot of my attendance as a teenager was because of two huge crushes I had on boys who both turned out to be decidedly not right for me. But whatever, Jesus does not hold this against me). I took my kids to church every week, and they also participated in youth groups when they were in middle school. One of the first things we did when moving to North Carolina was look for a church.

We never found it, not really. We found a few that were "okay" and we found several that were just horrible. Just so, so bad. I remember the four of us sitting in a pew in one of the bad churches and the pastor, the "man of God" who was supposed to be leading this congregation started making fun of transgender people.

Making fun of transgender people. In church. In front of God and everyone.

Transgender people. Who are, according to the Bible that the pastor then shook and screamed about, also God's children. Those people.

I felt so embarassed. I looked around the congregation and so many of the people were laughing and cheering about what that pastor said. I remember thinking...what if there is a transgender person sitting here right now? What if that person is hurting and lost and alone and seeking Jesus? What if there is a mother or father of a transgender person in this congregation? What if they came here looking for help or guidance or healing?

It wasn't funny. It wasn't okay. I sat through the rest of the sermon (I wish I had got up and left, but I was too afraid then) and then I never returned. I'll never go back.

Some of the churches we've visited have been okay. There is one in particular near our house that I kind of like. The pastor is nice, he normally wears jeans. They have loud music and lots of singing, which I love. The pastor speaks a lot about helping refugees and doing good works in our community. I think it's a lot of what Jesus the Dude actually talked about- not hellfire and brimstone and screaming at people because they are different than you. Just helping people. Loving those around you. Being part of a community.

I know not all churches are bad. I know this. No one needs to message me and tell me how wrong I am. No one needs to message me and tell me I'm going to hell because I don't love church. No one needs to try to make me feel guilty for not showing up. I've processed all of this and I'm not going to feel guilty about it. Church is not for me and that's okay.

Jesus is still for me.

Last year I went hiking, alone. For several days I followed every path I was interested in. I didn't listen to music, or talk unless I absolutely had to (I'm not a jerk face, I said hello to people).  I just climbed. I climbed and climbed and struggled over rocks and difficult paths. At one point I had to get on my hands and knees to traverse a particularly difficult area. I took pictures of the beauty of nature and everything around me.

I felt the presense of God, everywhere.




I felt the bigness of the world.

I felt very small.

I never felt alone, though.

I realized I don't like what "church" has become in this world, and that's okay.

I'm good.

God is good.


I'm at peace.







Monday, February 24, 2020

You've got dreams he'll never take away.

It's been eighteen days that Ginger has been gone. How can it be only eighteen days and at the same time a hundred million years?

It's so amazing to me how a creature that never spoke a word to me can leave such a cavernous void in my home. It's so incredibly silent without her. The very first Sunday morning after she was gone was so lonely I nearly smothered. The house was just so quiet, so empty.

I have managed in the last eighteen days to look at photographs of her without crying. I have thought of her several times with a smile. I have not cried every single day. Progress? I suppose.

I feel empty though. Hollow.

I have these moments where I forget. Just fractions of a second. Last night I heard a noise on the stairs and I thought, for just a moment, "I wonder if puppy is coming up to see me?" Then I remember, so suddenly I remembered, and it all rushed back to me so painfully.  This happens so often...that two second pause at the top of the stairs when I am looking for her. Looking for that little wagging tail, looking for her looking up at me, waiting for me to come down so we can have breakfast and our morning song.

Did I not mention the morning song?

So every morning for the last few years I would sing her a song while I made breakfast for her and coffee for me. She always seemed fascinated by my singing, maybe just trying to figure out why I was caterwauling at her, maybe just because she knew if she waited just a few minutes she'd get to have breakfast, but either way she was very intent on me when I sang to her. She was my girl and I was her girl and that was that.

One of her favorite songs was 9 to 5. Because of course it was. Because it was one of my favorite songs too. I maintain that no one can be terribly sad if Dolly Parton is in any way involved, even if it's a rainy Thursday morning and the Keurig is taking a bit too long.

The morning of her last day it was a rainy Thursday morning and I had to send my old work computer back. I procrastinated, as I always do when I get a new computer, because it's just such a pain to get it all set up exactly the way you need it. Never mind the fact that my old computer was literal garbage and I hadn't been able to use the keyboard in over a year. It still had the version of Air Server I needed and by God, that was just too much to give up.

That morning though, I had to send it back. I had run out of time in some many ways. It felt so terrible and the rain did not help. It was pounding, relentless. Megan had to go to class and I offered to give her a ride to the bus, partially because of the rain and partially because I just didn't want to be alone. I told her I had to go to the Fedex drop off and then I'd drop her at the bus stop. We splashed through the parking lot and while the kind lady at the counter was prepping the package, we looked around the store. Only for a moment though because it was filled with dog-related knickknacks. Fuzzy socks and little figurines. Small signs that talked about pawprints on your heart, and a lot of other things I could not manage that day. Not that day.

The radio hummed in the background, some station I didn't recognize with the Top 40 hits.

Until I tried to stop the tears in my eyes and couldn't. I was crying in the Fedex drop off and the poor lady behind the counter had no idea why.

And then? 9 to 5 started playing on the radio.

This forty year old song. Randomly. On a station that played contemporary hits.

The song I sang  to my dog. My poor, sweet elderly dog who probably just wanted me to shut up and give her food.


I cried even harder.



I haven't been able to sing any songs in the last eighteen days. I don't know if I ever will again.

I do believe though, that she's somewhere safe and happy now. That she's not in pain. That she forgives me and she still loves me.   I want to believe someday I'll see her again. That she's hanging with Jesus and he's got her. She can run again, and chase squirrels, and she's not sad, even though I am.

Maybe just a dream, but it gets me through the day.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Rainbows

A dog will break your heart.

That's what my parents used to say.

She used to be my blog header. She did.



I don't know though. She just made me happy. She made me so happy.

She made all of us so very happy.



















We were her family and she was ours.
She was only three months old when she came to live with us. She just turned fourteen in December.




Fourteen years is a moment, A second. A blip. Nothing.

Everything.





Her lifetime. Her whole life.

We were her whole life.

How lucky, oh how lucky we were to be her whole life.









They warned me she would break my heart, and today? She finally did.

Today she took her last breath. Today she fell asleep for the last time, as Jason and I held her, and told her what a good, good girl she was. The best girl. That we loved her endlessly and she made our whole lives better. That we never thought we could love a dog the way we love her.

Today she broke my heart.

And it was worth it. It was worth every ounce of the pain I'm feeling right now, to have loved her.

Rest in peace, my sweetest friend. I will love you the rest of my life. I will never forget you. You gave me more than you will ever know.