Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Another Face lost in the Crowd, Another soul too jaded to hang around....

Okay, let me be blunt.  After talking with a friend tonight about church, I realized that there are so many things about Life Bridge that I love, but relationally, I feel like I'm starving.

Let me be clear. This is not a new feeling. I don't have these feeling just because I spoke with my friend tonight who Pursued a Different Church Body for exactly that reason.   I spent the first few years at Life Bridge going back and forth to College. If there was a relational disconnect, I was not in a place that I would have been too concerned or noticed. But then... After I left Bethel and started going to church consistently, I was looking for those relationships and I didn't find a lot of them.

Then slowly, one by one people started being called to other churches, the few people I had relationships with, over this past few years started leaving.

So in 2009, I left to work for Camfel Productions and really felt the disconnect. I tried to stay connected to Life Bridge, sending post cards and letters... Tammy called me, and Becca wrote back to me, but I was otherwise unheeded. Out of site out of mind.

I've disconnected since then.   I've gone through incredible depression, loneliness, and junk that hasn't changed much, but I've been trying so hard to feel connected and right, and while things have  improved slighly in my own mind, and with my small group. I still feel terribly disconnected.

The thing that talking with my friend did do, was give me the mind to start praying about whether God wants me to stay at Life Bridge or seek fellowship (ultimitely relationships) somewhere else.

I will admit I have searched other churches online. The thing is that there is so much I love about LifeBridge that I don't want to give up. But I want more an idea of nurturing relationships, I want the practice of it and it's exhausting when you try to be relational and no one responds.

I wonder if this is the struggle my friend  Josh had/is having.

So I will continue to pray.

It Is Well With My Soul

I was browsing a friends blog just a little while ago and I came upon the instrumental version of the song It Is Well With My Soul, and the comment that this was his favorite hymn.  I had to go to youtube and listen to it with words.  The fact is, I love this song too. I adore this song.  The lyrics are beautiful, the prayerful, reverent, and worshipful style of delivery, mixed with a hint of an underlying joy I think really complete the song.   I have Selah's version here and I think they  do wonderful with it.  (I'm sorry, I'm not a fan of Jars of Clay's version, I think it is because the way they sing it seems so non-chalant), but my favorite version of this song was they way Shawn Holtgren arranged it for Chapel at Bethel College. But I think that's because when we sang it together in Chapel, the joy  in it wasn't an underlying joy. The joy was present and real and poweful. I could hear it! This song is just powerful.

What's more is that I feel like I am getting to the point where despite the troubles in my life, I can truly say again that it is indeed well with my soul.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Thoughts, Decisions, Prayers

Well, the weekend before this Sunday I went to South Bend/Mishawaka to see Bethel College's musical production of Cinderella. (which was wonderful, by the way). Since Christine and Doug decided to have a night to themselves in a hotel I stayed with my friend Katie.

First I will say that I know Doug and Christine are getting to the point where they may be wanting to get married soon, but it's been getting a little frustrating that it seems like I ask them if they want to do something (like go see Cinderella) and they say sure, then make a romantic evening of it knowing full well that I'm going with.  I guess it's not such a big deal except for the fact that I invited them to go see the musical and then they made a night together that 1. excluded me, and 2. did not have to be planned for that night seeing that it was planned after the invitation was made.

But as long as I've known Christine she has consistently dropped pre-made plans with me because something better came along (and half the time she doesn't even call to let me know). But to her credit, I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt that she doesn't do this every time something better comes along (though I have no evidence to prove otherwise,)  But I let her treat me like a back up plan, so who's to blame, really?

That's all beside the point, just a bit of frustration I face every now and then, but I love my friend Christine and I want to support her as her friend.

Anyway, this time, though, I am glad for the experience I got when they found a place for me somewhere else because I stayed with my friend Katie.  Katie lives in an intentional community house and works with the Catholic Worker in South Bend. I stayed with her and we had the opportunity to catch up with one another and serve with one another on Sunday morning. 

On Sunday morning we went to the Catholic Worker and spent time there doing laundry for people, giving people a place to take a shower, and serving breakfast.

It was an incredibly humbling experience.  Doing anything that you're not familiar with is a humbling experience and I felt so lost on what to do. I was afraid I was going to offend someone, or severely piss them off. 

Being around people that were homeless or perhaps not homeless but simply poverty class did not bother me. I am right there with them. I have a roof over my head, but I live in poverty. I suspect my poverty is not as severe, but it is poverty none-the-less.  The point is I am not bothered by Society's poor and needy.

But I was stretched, and there were times when I did feel uncomfortable. I know, and it's unfortunate, that a large part of the homeless population are people who are... well, to put it bluntly... special needs. Whether they are special needs because they were born that way (or made that way through war, accident, or some other means beyong their control) and lack the care others recieve, or whether they are special needs because of drug induced problems, this is a reality, and they have grown to learn how to take care of themselves the only way society lets them.

I don't know how many of the people who came to the Catholic worker last week were special needs. I don't know if any of them were special needs or if they were simply on a high from drug use.  I don't know whether they were homeless, or if they were living in severe poverty conditions, or if they lived fairly decently but just lacked a washing machine and dryer.  I don't know anything about the people there, and I don't want to make assumptions about them. 

But I was stretched because I was fellowshipping with people who  had demeanors and attitudes that were so vastly different than anything I've experienced or expected.

There was an instance where an older man came in and was seeking someone to trim his hair and beard. A young woman with a small child said to him "I haven't seen you in a while, where have you been."  They guy replied that he had just gotten out of jail.  The woman said back to him: "At least you were in a safe place"

Jail is a safe place?  I guess if you really think about it from a different perspective, in jail you are protected from the elements (weather), you are garanteed a meal every day, you are given clothes to wear, you can even get your GED in jail. I guess that's fairly safe considering what the alternative is.

I think the most uncomfortable part of the day was not even seeing the differences in demeanor and attitude. It was one person, (I don't know what to call him, a client, I guess), who would yell at other clients, beat his chest, stomp his feet, and start fights. He expressed so much anger, like everything anyone did was a personal affront to him.

Katie wondered if he heard voices, whether due to mental illness, drugs, or spiritual stuff, we wouldn't know.

Overall, it was a good experience and I was glad for the opportunity to serve there.

Afterward I got to spend some more time with Katie and she asked me how she could pray for me, so I let my financial situation spill, I confessed the mistakes I've made in the past, I told her about how I have used money irresponsibly,the downward spiral in dealing with it, the unexpected expenses, the confusion with deferments, the things that were beyond my control.... everything.

In this past week I have been thinking about how to help myself financially.  One of the things I have splurged on was my phone. I have T-mobiles unlimitted talk(night and weekends only), text and web for $59.99/month not including tax.  plus I pay an extra $35/month because I'm buying a smart phone with a bunch of features I don't need for roughly $500, and I have it on a two year plan where I pay off a portion each month with my cell bill.

I've been thinking about how this is such a needless expense.  At first I planned to simply pay off the phone and have the extra $35/month.  But the more I think about it, the more I've been thinking about switching to the talk and text plan and forget the web altogether. It would take my bill down to about $39.99/month, not including taxes.  

I even though about doing talk only, but so much of my communication is done through text messaging that I don't think I can get away with it anymore.

But $40 a month plus whatever tax... I could handle that. I feel like that would be a financially responsible decision.  The problem... I believe my current phone requires a data plan (since it's the phone that rivals the iPhone).  So I called T-mobile tonight and I don't think I can get out of the contract I'm in with the phone and I may have to simply pay it off and suffer a loss.  Maybe donate the phone to someone seeking a phone... I don't know.

I've also thought about just keeping my plan the same and only paying offthe rest of what I owe.   I will keep praying.

Not just for wise financial decisions, but for the strength to put them into practice.

I am also seeking so desperately for God's guidance for my life.  I have no idea where I am supposed to be. 

Am I supposed to finish college?
Am I supposed to stay here?
Am I supposed to try for that Program in Tennisee?
Or in Colorado?
Or in some other program I found?
Will I marry?
Have Children?
Stay single?
Work at the Boys and Girls Club?
Return to Camfel?
Dedicate my life to a noble cause like Katie's ministry with the Catholic Worker?
Seek something entirely new?

I don't know where I belong. So I'm praying for God's leading and waiting. 


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Guilt... Over what? Eating!?!

I don't know how to say what I am feeling. I feel guilty. I have not weighted myself, but I have a sense of having gained weight. That could be because we're actually eating a few times a day rather than once a day and my mind interprets that as the right conditions to cause weight gain.

So lately I've been feeling guilty whenever I eat, regardless of how much I actually eat or how healthy it is. And I feel fearful that I'm gaining weight. Im having a hard time with body image today.

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Another Obstacle

Well, I will admit I'm feeling a bit depressed again.  I have been trying to get ahold of my those who are holding my student loans so I can get yet another deferrment on them when I finally get ahold of one after dealing with being referred/transferred to people/phone numbers several different times, and going rounds with an automated service that wasn't answering my questions (but what it was saying was starting to really scare me)...

So when I finally spoke with soeone to find out what was going on, I learned that I have three different lenders and only one of them was covered under my deferment.

So apparently I have been in default with two of my loan providers and the one I was talking to today (Which was not, the perkins loan like I was hoping to contact someone about) is now in collections.

I feel extremely cheated with my student loans right now.  I owe almost $30,000 for what?  Certainly not a degree, I can tell you that much.  My hope of finishing that degree keeps looking slimmer and slimmer. The impossibility is that I can't get financial aid since two of my loans are in default. All my classes have to be paid up front. When the school charges $550 per credit hour that gets a bit tricky.

I'm very seriously considering trying to get my last PE Credit and just graduating liberal arts rather than trying to finish the degree in Youth Ministry and Adolescent Studies.

Im trying very hard not to feel angry, depressed, helpless and such but I don't know what to do. I want to be responsible, but everytime I make an effort to act responsibly (over things I didn't even know were an issue, remember) it seems like another little monster tries to rear his ugly head.

I have seriously considered bankruptcy (not for the student loans, but other things) and I can't bring myself to do it yet. I want to repay what I owe.

But what do I do to put myself in a place where I am financially able to make the payments?

I'm still trying to figure that out. I'm currently seeking another part time job that I don't really want just so I am doing something and making some sort of effort to better myself.

I'm still waiting on and trusting God. Instead of trying to get rid of my obligations when things get incredibly hard Im trying to be faithful. God please consider my insignificant  efforts to be faithful and show me some mercy.