Saturday, July 21, 2007

Wait, There's A Journey?

First, the poll has closed, and it looks like 5 were for it, 1 against it, and 2 voting for free will.

I'm not sure whether I should be thrilled or upset that 8 people voted. I'll go with thrilled, as I can't think of who the 8 would be (did one of you vote twice?).

Second, I realize that as a first personal reaction to what I said in that last post, job one will be to get the plank out of my own eye. So begins the process of me identifying who I may have shooed (or even thought needed to be shooed).

I'll have the poem finished within the week! Now vote in the new poll!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Should They Stay or Should They Go?

First: Don't forget to take the poll found at the right, if you haven't already taken it. Details in the post below.

Second... a warning: Christ may be mentioned often in this post. Read it if you dare, person that I'm thinking of (and I know you know who you are).

When I was thirteen (I don't know if this is an actual thirteen, because really it's a "somewhere around thirteen," which includes thirteen; it's just that, barring the lengthy explanation, it's quicker to say/type "thirteen") I was asked to leave Christ alone. I was told Christ did not want me hanging around. I was told that I was making the place look bad. In short (too late), I was told, "Get out. Christ don't like your kind 'round here."

Nobody actually said that to me. I think it's very seldom said. Like good Christian works, I think bad Christian works most often happen with deeds, not words... or at least bad Christian works don't happen with words directly spoken to the person they are meant for.

But, from a young age I had no problem with addition, and I could add two twos to get four. I certainly wasn't going to admit I belonged to a group being told "go away". I just began my slow walk away from the table where the eternal Lord's Supper is being continuously served.

I picture me with my head down, not wanting to look back, for fear Christ would be scowling at me because I wasn't going away fast enough--but that's because I have a touch of the dramatic and everything must either be envisioned as a stage play or a film. Or a scene from a book, maybe. Notice I didn't say "a good book", as I'm not sure if this would make a good story.

I didn't have it in me to hate God or Christ just yet. I still had enough fear in me, and the anger had not yet built up. But, the thing is, if you are told Christ doesn't want you around (at least when you're young... and I think it's true if you're older too--especially if you didn't have much of a religious upbringing, or didn't have one that stressed the unconditional love of God), after a while, you start to quietly think something along the lines of, "Oh yeah? Well, f**k him, then!"

Yeah, at first you think it with the f**k and the initial letter of "him" in capital letters. But, with time, they go to lower case. Lower case for the first four letters doesn't mean you're less angry. It means you're more accepting of your anger, and you're more committed to it.

And so it was with me.

And the lower-case "h"? That's there because after a while you find yourself singing "Oh how I hate Jesus, because he first hated me." And you never capitalize the initial "h" of the him you hate.

And so it was with me.

After some time, you just write the whole thing off as a fairy tale, and get irritated with anyone who believes as you used to (or, put another way, still gets to sit at that table you were sent away from). You get to carry around a large Army duffel bag full of anger, and hate, and fear.

And so it was with me.

My anger solidified itself into disbelief in the whole thing when a classmate died. I figured it made more sense to not believe in a God that would allow one of the loved ones to die instead of getting rid of a hated one. It didn't help that I was silently hoping to be gotten rid of. Living without your spiritual anchor is no cup of tea.

And life went on. And on. My anger, combined with my humor, became my "thing". I happily avoided anyone wearing a cross, and made fun of anyone seen walking into a church. More hate and anger and fear for the duffel bag.

Life goes on. Tolerance sneaks in. The anger/hate/fear more often stays in the bag, only needing a slight release every other... I don't know... twelve hours or so.

At least, so it was with me.

Now, if you're lucky--or maybe, if you're able to take advantage of the chance you are given to turn and see Christ beside you, silently waiting for you to realize He has never left your side from the moment you stepped away from the table--you may have a string of events help you realize it wasn't God or Christ that sent you away.

It wasn't God or Christ who said those hateful things.

Seeing that, you may be able to look back at your life and see all the times He has been there, silently holding you, prodding your conscience, helping you up when you thought you couldn't stand anything else.

He has been there listening to your non-stop prayer of anger, you realize.

If you're lucky. If you take advantage of the opportunity that may arise.

And so it was with me.

However, these opportunities are like pennies on the sidewalk. Easy to miss, and not always able to generate the motivation to stop and make the little effort needed to take them. Looking back, I know I've walked by many such metaphorical pennies.

I do, however, tend to pick up any non-metaphorical penny I find on the ground. I don't hold to the whole "tails up is bad luck" thing.

My point (and yes, there actually is one here) is this: Not everybody looks beside them or behind them to see that it wasn't Christ who shooed them away like unwelcome dogs at a barbecue.

And, believe me, there are still people being shooed away. They are being shooed away right now. Somewhere on this planet--in this country, even--I can almost guarantee you someone is feeling that they have been (probably indirectly, mind you) told they are not welcome at that table as you read this. I'm not talking about any particular group of people here (unless you want to label the group as "those being shooed away"). I think you could think of more than three "groups" of people being shooed away from the table, if you tried.

So, the big choices are: Either you are okay with people being told they are not worthy of Christ's love, or you actively make sure everybody knows they are welcome at this table and that Christ's love is for them as well.

Inaction denotes acceptance of the former.

Should they stay? Should they go?

If you accept the latter of the two big choices given--that is, if you believe Christ's love is for everyone, is your congregation actively making sure everyone knows they are welcome at the table?

If not, do you have it in you to start working toward change within your congregation? Or would your efforts be better used in a congregation of like-minded people?

Should you stay? Should you go?

I don't mean to imply either your staying with your congregation or going away to another is the better choice. I'm honestly asking--if you agree the choices are either welcoming someone to stay with Christ or being okay with the fact they're shooed away, and if you feel welcoming is the way to go--how and where can you best be a welcoming force?

If you are of the opinion that there are people Christ doesn't love, and who are not welcome at the table, I don't really have a lot to say to you. I don't mean that I don't want to talk with you, but I'm not sure what I could say to you to change your mind on the topic, and there's nigh unto nothing (the "nigh unto" being there because I have a hard time saying "nothing", and "never" and so on) you can say to change my mind on the topic.

I know this isn't standard fare for my non-blog. It's just something that's been floating around in my head for a couple of days. Last night I discussed it with friends, and I'm wondering if this is something I need to be repeatedly asking everyone sitting at the table with me: Should we be letting those people be shooed away?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Take My Survey!

First of all, I've had a pretty great day!

Yes, I'm shocked about that, too. Actually, not really all that shocked. But... well, I'm sure there's some word in some dictionary that means what I'm feeling, but I don't know what it is.

Anyway, I closed at P.J. tonight, and when I opened the passenger door and kicked off my shoes and stepped into my sandals, I thought, "Oh man, I love that feeling. I should write a poem about how much I love that feeling. Or, maybe write an "Ode To That Feeling Of My Feet Leaving My Work Shoes And Going Into My Sandals""

Well, the title is over at the left of this post... I could have let you read it there. Duh.

And then I thought it would be fun to use my surveymonkey account to make a survey about it, and let people vote on whether or not I should do this, and maybe let them vote (should they choose I SHOULD do this) on whether or not I use some sort of standard form with a recognizable rhyme scheme, or maybe be more free-form about it.

Which seemed like a very cool idea at the time, but apparently my computer and/or (and if there was a place to bet on it, my money would be on my computer being the problem) decided it was not to be.

Luckily, I can at least ask the first part of the question, and now I have!

So please, respond! You have until midnight Friday!

Monday, July 16, 2007

When I Last Added A Post (A Few Thousand Years Back)...

Well, the weekend went differently than expected... which is to say I wasn't expecting anything in particular, except that I wasn't sure what was going to happen, and that translated to I expected new experiences, but not much beyond that.

And, as I plan to be processing the weekend until the day I die, I'll just leave it at that for now.

Well, except to say that saying it was a very good weekend is an understatement.

How was your weekend?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

In Case Publishers' Clearinghouse Comes Looking For Me:

I'm going to be out of communications range until Sunday afternoon.

If you need me, practice patience.

If it's some sort of emergency, do what I would do if you were out of communications range and I absolutely had to get in contact with you: go all Nancy Drew. Or Hardy Boy. Or Bobsey Twin. And I don't know if that's how you spell "Bobsey". I haven't read any of aforementioned series. Really, I go more Encyclopedia Brown than anything, but it sounds funnier to say I'm going all Nancy Drew.

Well, it sounds funnier to me, anyway.

See you Sunday!

P.S.: Picked up the car today! Seriously!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Okay, Seriously...

The strangest thing happened today. I'm not sure what to make of it. I don't know if I should take it as a sign of impending doom, or that there's always hope, or that maybe life can turn on a dime to a positive direction, or what.

Plan... I don't even know what letter I'm at now. Plan Double-Z (just to be safe) fell through yesterday--that's Plan Double-Z in my list of plans to get wheels. I took thirty seconds or so to be morbidly depressed about it, then decided to just do something insane.

Often I get mailings from credit card companies, car companies, loan companies, and other sorts of send-mailings-out sorts of companies, and they serve the purpose of providing clutter until such a time I think to throw them away. A day or two ago I got one from this car dealership. Actually, I got two from two car dealerships. One looked slightly more reputable than the other, but my thought was that even if either was reputable, I'm sure my credit is so awful that I'd never have a chance.

Well, after my thirty seconds of morbid depression, I got giddy and decided as joke I'd take the slightly-more-reputable-looking flier and see about getting a car. They apparently have lots of older-model cars (so sayeth the flier) that they are making incredible deals and giving credit to any yahoo that shows up--or they're pre-approving any yahoo, but that doesn't mean that yahoo's credit has been accept (or so sayeth the fine print).

So, I vowed to go to the car loan website the following morning (that would be this morning) and enter in all the information. It would at least kill some time, as I've reached the end of Season Five of the X-Files, and don't have the movie, and thus am in a holding pattern where that show is concerned.

I filled out this relatively simple online form, and then went on to check school e-mail and otherwise kill time online.

At 1:30, my home phone rang a few times. My caller ID downstairs doesn't work (or the phone that had caller ID doesn't, rather) and I didn't want to run upstairs to see who it was. I figured if it was important, they'd leave a message.

The phone rang again just a few minutes later, so curiosity got the best of me and I went upstairs to see what was going on.

As it turned out, it was just coincidence. The first phone call had nothing to do with the second. The second phone call was someone from the dealership saying he needed to talk with me.

I called the place and asked for the guy, and he was all like, "I think we can work something out for you."

Seriously, I said, "Seriously?" And imagine that in the most disbelieving tone I can muster.

So he walked me through what I needed to bring to the dealership (after much gnashing of teeth on my part because I couldn't find anything to write with), and I scheduled an appointment for 6:30.

I called Ruth, told her I think something is rotten in Denmark, but what the heck, I'll try anyway, and asked if she could give me a ride.

I made some phone calls and got the papers he needed to see all in one folder, showered and made myself all purty-full, and had time to read a chunk of the book I'm currently reading.

We got to the dealership, and I was shocked at how legitimate the place looked. I bought my truck from a less-than-legit place several years ago, and I expected this place to look like that. Ruth didn't admit to it until later, but she was wondering where the cars I could get were hiding. I was wondering the same thing.

Ruth went off to run some errands, and I went into the office, where I figured the other shoe would drop any time.

There were about five times I thought for sure the other shoe was on the way to the floor, but it didn't happen.

The sales guy asked me what I'd like to put down, and what I'd like my payments to be. I shared, and I kept trying to emphasize "I need something that works, and won't die for at least a year."

I realize I must have sounded pathetic, but this is where I am right now. Surely he can deal.

So he goes to get an idea of what fits into my budget. I expect it to be something older, maybe a little on the worn side, but mostly running well (as he'd gone into a lengthy spiel about how they do this x-number of checks system on every car, blahdy blahdy blah).

Then he's gone for a way long time (and I keep thinking "ah, he's off getting hit in the head by that other shoe, which he will then bring in to me so he can drop it on the floor in front of me").

Finally, I see him. He's in the parking lot in what appears to be a not-old-at-all and really nice car.

So I start re-evaluating this shoe thing. Obviously this shoe is gonna come from somewhere I hadn't anticipated. Perhaps in the form of a too-high monthly payment. Or, at the last minute, some manager comes up and says, "Oh, you're THAT Mark Riggs; please leave now" (and that thought stuck with me for most of the rest of my time at the dealership).

So, salesman guy (I have his card somewhere, but I don't know where right now, and plus I'm in a rush) comes back, has me come outside, and shows me the car.

I don't know what he expected me to do. I'm wearing my most-guarded of my guarded looks, as I know there is a shoe full of potential energy just hanging in the air somewhere.

I looked at it, said "hmm" and "mm-hmm" and "oh" and generally said I thought it was a fine vehicle.

Dig this: 2006. That's the year of the car.

So, he's pausing for me to say something or just take it all in, and I'm thinking he's getting ready to say, "Well, it was totalled three times, and it will need to have the EVERYTHING replaced over the course of the next year," or maybe, "Well, this is what I'd LIKE to get you in, but the payments will be $500+ dollars," or perhaps even, "I just wanted to show you what you can get once you finally build up some credit!" Or, again, maybe the manager would show up and announce they figured out which Mark Riggs I am.

None of those things happened, and he seemed to be expecting some sort of sentence from me, so I lamely examined the sun visor on the driver side, made some comment about it seeming to be a great car, and asked if that slot that was obviously for Compact Discs meant it also had a CD player (he hadn't mentioned that when he mentioned AM/FM radio... not that it would have been a deal breaker, I just felt he expected some comments and/or questions from me).

That whole car bit was very awkward, now that I think about it. I didn't know what were were supposed to do next, and he didn't seem to be ready to move me in the direction of the next step, and even once we were out of the car, it was odd.

Maybe he thought at my age this should be old hat to me. And maybe it should. Whatever.

So, next we go into the main building, where his office is (I'd gone into the Used Cars building originally, because: duh), and we go to someone else's office, because his was being used. He walks me through papers, and says somebody was going to talk to me about the financing, but that they have found someone who would provide the loan (which made my eyes dart around, looking for that shoe again) and they're seeing if they can get others to provide better loans. And on and on and on.

Then he takes me back to the "lounge". The wait here seemed the longest, probably because I'd seen a nice car and hoped I could be driving it one day, whereas before I'd seen the car, the shoe dropping didn't mean that much different than every day life.

Ruth sent me a text to make sure I was alive, so I called her and told her what was going on. I'd already called her from the other building, but at that time I hadn't seen the car. I don't know that I said much to Ruth about the car, as I felt that might encourage the shoe to go from having potential energy to kinetic.

Salesman guy comes back to ask me some questions about my other car, and still no shoe.

He leaves. I'm too tense to even get up to get the remote and turn away from the quasi-baseball that was on the television. I did turn the pages of some entertainment magazine repeatedly.

Salesman guy came back and said finance guy was ready to see me. This was it. The last chance for someone to say, "We didn't realize you were THAT Mark Riggs; get out."

No such thing. The car payments were slightly higher than I'd like, so there was my shoe, but it was more of a kid size 3 than the combat boot I was expecting.

So tomorrow I'll be picking up a 2006 Chevy Cobalt. There's a pic over on STILL: Life if you want to see it.

I went out to Ruth's car, got in, and pointed out the car I'm getting. I could tell she was surprised, as well.

The ride home I put my hands on my cheeks and said, "Seriously, I got that car" about eight times. I got my phone out and couldn't figure out who to tell.

So I have a nice newer car. Newer than I've ever had. Tricia says I must put it in writing here that I will take great care of it. Jhoneric said something similar, but with cuss words. And so it shall be.

Now I can get back to work. Lord willin' and the creek don't rise, I'll make it to my September 28th payday in decent shape, and all will be... well, if not well, it will be more tolerable than usual.

HOORAY! Seriously.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

And Now: Another Rant

I SERIOUSLY despise this VISA ad campaign where the world is this well-oiled machine that can only be screwed up by somebody having the audacity to pay with cash.

First, ain't no well-oiled machine up in here.

Second, shut up, VISA. You're just bein' stupid because when I pay with cash you ain't makin' no money up in here. So there.

Seriously. Hate. Those. Commercials.

So, next time you see one, you can think, "If Mark's watching this, I bet he's cringing!"

Title Lost!

Okay, I've gotten all the pictures back up over at STILL: Life, but, as I mentioned before, the titles of some of them escape me. I don't know how to find a good search engine that might still have a cached version of those pages (July and August's archives) so I can't get the titles exactly right from that potential source. Any help from you folks out in Readershipville would be greatly appreciated.

The first post was July 4, 2006. I know it was something about Dora succumbing to peer pressure, but I don't know how I worded it, or if there was more to it. (Part of the problem with my memory here is that I remember titles I originally rejected for some... and thus am worried that the titles I don't feel "sure" about are rejected titles.)

Anyway, any picture from July 4, 2006 to August 11, 2006 entitled "Title Lost" is a picture I need help with. Any help?

Oh, and I've changed the look a little. You like?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

June Is Bustin' Out All Over My Home Page

July should be bustin' out sometime around the 20th... but what are the odds of that actually happening. Anyway, go check out June, if you're so inclined.

No news on the transportation front, really.

Remember, the picture of the pink ribbon is a link to the latest issue of Kathy & Ruth's 3-Day Walk Newsletter!

Now I'm going to go try to get caught up on STILL: Life. I've got storage issues on my computer, and no car to get anywhere to fix said storage issues.

Also, due to online storage issues (that have now gone away, apparently), I removed the pics from July, 2006. I very dilegently documented the comments and the titles of the photos... and now that space isn't an issue, I'm going to re-post those pics. However, I can't find the titles...

So, if you happen to check the July, 2006 pics (once I get them back up) and can remember one of the "Title Lost" pictures, post a comment under it and let me know!