Sunday, July 28, 2013

I Want To Be A Meek Cleaver, No That Isn't A Typo

Sometimes telling someone something is a powerful, weight-lifting sensation. Jerry was raised Catholic. I was raised Southern Baptist. We have very similar beliefs, as far as our faith goes. So, obviously neither of us are very orthodox in our feelings. Jerry does not currently have a church home. And, mine was the same church that I grew up in and that welcomed me back with open arms when I left my ex-husband. Yes, I said “was.” Jerry and I had made the decision that when his mother retired we would start the search for a church that we both felt comfortable in and neither of us would have to renounce our religious upbringing. He takes his mother to work and she works every other weekend. She is in the process of getting her paperwork together. And, the only student I have in the Sunday School class I teach is being moved up to the next class. So, I informed my mother, two dear friends and the pastor that my family was starting the search for a new church.

My home church was where I grew up. They welcomed me back with open arms after leaving my ex and bathed my in love and prayer when we lost Sarah. So, this was not an easy step for me to make. But, it was necessary for us to move forward as a family. We have had many discussions on the subject. Several of which touched on the fact that as the husband, and now father, it is Jerry’s roll to be the spiritual leader for the family. I have learned many things from both the mistakes in my first marriage and the things Jerry and I are doing right this time around. I have learned to be persistent when needed. It does not mean that I am nagging. And, that sometimes a little nagging is called for. And, I will make sure that he remembers his role as our guide along this journey. And, I will remember mine. 

This is a difficult decision for me. And, I feel a small amount of guilt. But, I feel guilt all of the time. I am working on that. I will miss the new preacher. I have thoroughly enjoyed hearing him speak. I was fortunate enough to hear him speak on both Saturday at a wedding and my last Sunday. The key word Saturday was "Cleave." Sunday's word was "Meek." 

Brother Ray did a beautiful job of explaining what a strong word cleave is. That it is not just holding on to each other. It reminds me of watching a pair of ballroom dancers. The way they move together as one. And, yet at moments are not touching, they are still a pair. The almost desperate look on their faces as they cling to each other. I have learned many lessons about marriage from both my first and current ones. One of those is that one spouse is not more important than the other. They both play their own roles in the house. I am old school on some things. Mostly because the most successful and "functional" families that I have been exposed to followed the same pattern. The husband has a place as head of the household. But, the wife runs it. One does not function well without the other. I should have remembered this my first time around. I out myself in the roll of subservient. I am trying to find the fine line of being a leader in the home without taking over. It is not always easy. But, it always makes for a far more open and honest relationship with your spouse. 

Meek. Some people consider this word to mean weak. It does not. Brother Ray used a great analogy of a horse with a bit and a bridle. The horse has tremendous power. And, it could unleash it at any time. The horse chooses to follow the rider. The horse is no way weak. Rather it is meek. Other people listen may have taken the sermon to mean that we need to work on being meek. To me, it said it is ok to be meek. I have finally developed some backbone. But, I worry that I will take advantage of my spouse. Part of having power in your marriage is to know when and how to use it. Yelling and forcing your way is just as irresponsible as  sitting back and not saying or doing anything. It is not your marriage alone. You share the contract with your spouse. So, it is your job to work together. If you do not share the load, misery and dysfunction will follow. This means respecting your spouse and their opinions. When your spouse says we can not afford to buy something, sit down and talk about it. It breaks my heart to hear someone say, "Well, I am just going to do it anyway." 

I am just hoping that Jerry and I can find a church home together that will help our family will thrive and grow. Prayers for our journey will be appreciated as neither of us has ever done this before. And, that others will be considerate. Sometimes, it is hard for to let a church member go without worrying that someone has done something to make them leave. I will be praying for my now former church that God will bless them and pour his peace, love and growth over the church body. The following piece of scripture was part of the sermon. I hope that it will help you find some peace as well.

Psalm 37
Of David.
Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
    but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
    though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
    and enjoy peace and prosperity.
12 The wicked plot against the righteous
    and gnash their teeth at them;
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
    for he knows their day is coming.
14 The wicked draw the sword
    and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
    to slay those whose ways are upright.
15 But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
    and their bows will be broken.
16 Better the little that the righteous have
    than the wealth of many wicked;
17 for the power of the wicked will be broken,
    but the Lord upholds the righteous.
18 The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care,
    and their inheritance will endure forever.
19 In times of disaster they will not wither;
    in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.
20 But the wicked will perish:
    Though the Lord’s enemies are like the flowers of the field,
    they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke.
21 The wicked borrow and do not repay,
    but the righteous give generously;
22 those the Lord blesses will inherit the land,
    but those he curses will be destroyed.
23 The Lord makes firm the steps
    of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
    for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
25 I was young and now I am old,
    yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
    or their children begging bread.
26 They are always generous and lend freely;
    their children will be a blessing.
27 Turn from evil and do good;
    then you will dwell in the land forever.
28 For the Lord loves the just
    and will not forsake his faithful ones.
Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed;
    the offspring of the wicked will perish.
29 The righteous will inherit the land
    and dwell in it forever.
30 The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
    and their tongues speak what is just.
31 The law of their God is in their hearts;
    their feet do not slip.
32 The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
    intent on putting them to death;
33 but the Lord will not leave them in the power of the wicked
    or let them be condemned when brought to trial.
34 Hope in the Lord
    and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
    when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.
35 I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
    flourishing like a luxuriant native tree,
36 but he soon passed away and was no more;
    though I looked for him, he could not be found.
37 Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
    a future awaits those who seek peace.

38 But all sinners will be destroyed;
    there will be no future
 for the wicked.

39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;
    he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them and delivers them;
    he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
    because they take refuge in him.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

An Informative Rant About Personal Checks

I work as a receptionist at returned check collection agency.  Since I am the first contact people have with our office, I get to deal with all sorts of people that live all sorts of lives. This has given me the benefit of learning all sorts of lessons about life and checking.

1.    Know where the information on your account is located. I am including a labeled diagram.   

2.    Thanks to our government, unless you and the person you wrote a check two bank in the same location, your original check will be destroyed. It will be imaged. If the item is returned, the bank will send out a legal image. (See the above image.) Yes, this is a pain. And, problematic. But, the government knows best. (Please say you read that in a sarcastic voice.)

3.    Because of Check 21 and Truncation (you know, when you go to a business and they hand you your check back after they send the information electronically.) checks with pretty pictures and fancy fonts are a hindrance to check processing. Please make sure the fonts are large and clear with no background images.

4. When a store asks for an ID be nice. They need it for a couple of reasons. The obvious reason is to make sure that the person that is writing the check is actually the check belongs to. But, the other is to protect them. In order to file a returned check with the county or district attorney, most counties require a valid DL number.

5. “Well, if they had deposited the check when I wrote it the money would have been there.” is NOT a valid excuse for a returned check.

6.  If you have a check returned, contact the store where the check was written if you don't remember what company handles their checks. And, no, we aren't all the same company. And, a lot of stores and business’s collect their own checks.

7. Make sure that if you move you are changing the address on your check. Or that you get new ones with the right address. You never know when there will be a problem with your account. The person you wrote the check to might have to get in touch with you.

Once, I received a phone call from the police department about a robbery at a gas station right after I left. And, they needed to reach me to see if I saw anything. They got my name and number off the check. (The guys who robbed them were in the store when I left. I freaked out a little when I found out.)

8. I know that is polite to ask how someone's day has been. But, when a person calls the office, I answer, "Thank you for calling XXXXXXXX, how may I help you?" No, I don't answer with my name. I am the only person with my name in the entire country. I am far too easy to track down. (And, with some of the winners we get around here, I do not want them knowing where I am.) Half the time I get the following responses
"I'm fine how you are?"
"Where is this?"
"Who is this?"
"How are you today?"
Any one of those replies shows me that you were not even trying to listen when you called. Some companies have people that just answer the phone. But, small companies like this one can not afford the luxury. Plus, most of the time I would be bored out of my mind. When a person calls, I am entering payments, processing credit bureau disputes, processing incoming or outgoing mail, or one of the many other things I am doing during the day. So, please be polite and patient. Don't yell numbers at me or rattle off your name. Wait until you know I am ready. I don't have time for socialization on the phone. You called for a specific reason. Let's call and handle it and move on. Most likely I have other callers waiting to be helped.

9. Speak slowly and clearly. And, you have an accent whether you know it or not. I can not stand a mumbler. I may have to ask how to spell your name. There is no reason to take it personally.

10. And, for the sake of all that is holy do NOT call on speaker phone. If you are in the car, please, just wait. It is impossible to hear. Anytime you call a business that you pay money to, you have an account number. Have it when you call.

11. Some people will drain brain cells. That is all there is to it.

12. Never judge a book by its cover. But, you can usually judge it by its grammar. I know that some people do not give any weight to how to speak, what words to use or how to pronounce words. They are simply not doing themselves any favors. And, it makes my brain hurt.

13. When you call about a certain subject. Stick to the subject. Neither one of us has time to sit around and ramble.

14. When a senior citizen is speaking to you, listen. And, be kind. You may be the only person they have contact with that day. And, if you have time, stop and visit with them for a spell. You might need it as badly as they do.

15. NEVER cuss on the phone. All this does is make a bad situation worse. And, if you are speaking to anyone in our office, for example, you get one warning. If you don’t stop we will hang up. All it does it make you look ignorant and hurts your case. You get far more flies with honey. I’m not saying you should always sugar coat things. But, you should give people a chance to explain what they know before you jump down their throat.

16. Never start a conversation with “Now listen.” All that does is make me come up with creative ways to muzzle you. The couple of extra days that you might need to take care of your check, yeah, not going to happen.

17. Some things in life are not fair. When someone forges checks on your account you have to take care of it. No, you don’t have to pay them. But, you do have to file a case with the police department. Yes, you have to keep in contact with the bank to make sure you have the affidavits of forgery to get to the businesses and collection agency. I hate that you have to do it, too. I know you are tired of it. But, it has to be done. If you don’t, it will go to the county or district attorney. It will go on your credit report and you will have to spend more time cleaning it up later. And, no, the people who stole your checks and identity are most likely not going to get caught. It is really hard sometimes to catch them. And, you are probably right. The police department does not see you as a high priority. They have killers and such to catch. And, I am so truly sorry. But, remember when you call, I AM NOT TO BLAME. I am not the one that stole the checks. But, my job is to help the client. I am protecting their interests when I tell you I need paperwork. Do NOT yell at me.

18. Please, PLEASE shower. If you come into my office and you smell, the scent will linger after you leave.

19. People judge you. There is nothing you can do about it. And, not everyone will judge you for the same thing. It may be for your disposition. It may be because you bounced a check. It may be your clothes. It may be your grammar. But, remember you in charge of you and what you give people to judge. Try to be that person that you want others to be. I think this is part of the reason I don’t have a lot of a “private life.” I would rather be judged for what people know about me than what they think they know. (NOTE: There are a lot of names that I know that I come across every day. I do not think anything different about you because of it. And, anyone that does can just get over it.

20. Learn to accept a mistake. If you do something wrong. Say I did it. Then apologize. Be a man. Grow a pair. You might find it liberating. Then apologize specifically for what you did. We all make mistakes. We are human. And, remember that you do not want your mistakes pointed out to you. So, don’t go around pointing out other people’s mistakes. Otherwise, you end up being a lonely miserable person wondering why people don’t like you. “I only tell it like it is. No, that’s just being a bitch.

So maybe this is mostly just a chance for me to just rant and vent a little. But, hopefully you will take something away that you didn’t know before. Or, at least feel a little better about yourself.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

It's Just Not Fair or You Can't Fix Everything With Sugar Cookies

You know how every family knows a couple that should be the first one to be blessed with children. They are the sweetest, kindest most gentle people. And, it seems like they are the last ones to be blessed with children. Well, my couple just had a miscarriage. They are distraught and she is in both physical and emotional pain. I took them some food and hugged her neck. Talked to them for about three minutes and left. I know that in the depths of my grief, I wanted confirmation that people were concerned. But, not always the actually the company.

In the whole time I dealt with losing my own child, I have had very little anger. I still feel strongly that I did not deserve either of my children. And, I did not feel like I had room to complain when God took one away. I had no right to. But, these friends deserve children. A houseful if they want. And, I am angry and heartbroken. Of all people to take a child away from, why did it have to be then. My heart is heavy. It aches. I want to bathe and wrap them in love and prayer. Take their pain away.

There is a circle I travel in that is composed of parents that have lost children. There has been great debate about which is worse, losing a baby at or before birth or losing an older child. Many of the parents dismissed the comparison saying that there is no comparison. By saying that their loss was worse, they belittle the feelings and emotions of the parents that have lost the babies. Everyone copes with grief differently. I got the chance to know my child. My friends will not. I have been blessed to not lose a baby. I can not imagine their loss. The wondering what would they have been like. How they would have felt in their arms.

I know that there is usually a reason a baby is lost. And, that in hindsight, things sometimes make sense. But, right now. They don't want to hear that. I wouldn't want to hear it, either.

I have other blogs started and in notes. But, this is what is on my heart. Pray for my friends. Pray for all of the families that have lost babies.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

It There a Vaccine Against the Baby Bug?

     So, I am assuming that most people that are reading this are aware that I have two children. A thirteen year old son and a daughter that passed away when she was fourteen. My husband never had children of his own. He loves mine like his own. But, it's still not the same. Also, my husband lost his dad just before he turned four. He has one vivid memory of his dad. The memory is his story to tell. He missed out out on all of the memories from both the side of the child and parent. To say I had a baby bug was putting it lightly. And, losing Sarah made it worse.

     I finally realized some of the reasons that I had so much trouble dealing with it. With my own kids, I very seldom did things the way I wanted to. I wish I had nursed them both longer. There were a lot of other things, too. Having a child is one thing in life that I could do over and do it my way. Well, our way. So far, whenever the subject of caring for a baby comes up, my husband and I are in complete agreement. Slings, cloth diapers, nursing. Plus we would make adorable children. Adorable, nerdy, artsy-fartsy babies. OK, so without our luck, we would have Cowboy football obsessed non-nerd. Also, my husband has a genetic issue that we do not want to risk passing on to a child.

     I have also come to the realization that I am a much more together person when I am being "Mom." I actually get up and do things. I wash dishes. I do laundry. I even, dare I say COOK! I am happier. I am a better wife. I sleep better. I feel like I am here for a reason. Yes, I am still Mom when my son is with his father, which is a majority of the time. But, I think part of the reason I do not stay in that mode when he is not here is that is that is a reminder he isn't here. I do not make him clean his room. It feels more like he is here when it is a mess.

     Finally, I come to terms with the fact that unless God has a grand plan for us to grow our family, there will not be more children until we are blessed with grandchildren. I still want them. But, I am OK with knowing it will not happen. Besides, we have a dog in the house and we do not know how will with do with children.

   Then comes the call. Can you babysit for us? Do not get me wrong. I would never turn down a chance to keep this baby. I was thinking to myself, "This should break me from my bug!" I would get a reminder of how exhausting it was. It would remind me I am too old for this! But, no. She is the easiest baby EVER. The dog loves her. She can pull his fur and tug. All he does is cuddle up to her and smile. And, I had never seen my husband with a baby. He is a natural. He is gentle, animate, attentive and patient. They loved each other. I have video.

     Alas, the bug is back. It will go away, again. But, it still sucks. He would be such a good daddy. And, it is a shame that he never got to hear, "It's a boy! It's a girl!" He has missed out on toys together on Christmas Eve. And, people have told us, "You can always adopt." You have to be in a situation where we can. Hopefully we will be before too long. But, we I am not getting my hopes up. I am just going to keep borrowing other people's children. But, maybe one day.