Wednesday, December 07, 2016

No more banging...

I closed down the Reveling in the Christian Book of Concord Facebook Group today.  Well, I deleted everyone but me so that I still had a chance to capture some of my thoughts there to repost here before the group is totally gone.

It is difficult for me to put into words, but the easiest comparison is that the group made me feel just like I was back in high school, unpopular and ignored.  I tried to ... no, wait ... I did beg for participation several times, but few were inclined to do so and my dream of having discussions about what you've heard, read, or thought about the Confessions never came to pass.  A couple of times there was a little bit of response, but no real discussion save for once.  Mostly, what I got back was some type of reassurance about my faith rather than a discussion germane to the BOC snippet posted.  This was especially irksome when I specifically wrote that I was not posting for consolation or assurance, but rather to give an example of how one struggling with faith might read the passage.  SIGH.

I think to have regular interactions on Facebook means you have to be a popular person, and I have never been that.  Just like I am the person who got ignored in high school, college, work functions, and church events, I am the person who got ignored when she bared her intellectual soul on Facebook ... even with over 250 members in the group, most who asked to join.  I mean, out of 250 folk, were every single one of them too busy to engage with a few thoughts about the Confessions or to post what they were reading so that others might share in the BOC joy, too?

Even with it being folk I knew, I could just keep posting and posting and posting.  I felt so terribly lonely and really rather leperish.  After writing yet another this-is-what-I-think post and feeling so terribly lonely and really rather leperish again, I thought:  Silly, Myrtle!  Stop banging your head against a brick wall!  So, I posted a good-bye post and my most favorite psalm.

Since I rarely cross post to here, I decided to save a few Reveling posts before they are gone:


Indeed, the human heart is by nature so hopeless that it always flees from God and imagines that He does not wish or desire our prayer, because we are sinners and have earned nothing but wrath. Against such thoughts, we should always remember this commandment and turn to God, so that we may not stir up His anger more by such disobedience. For by this commandment God lets us plainly understand that He will not cast us away from Him or chase us away. This is true even though we are sinners. But instead He draws us to Himself, so that we might humble ourselves before Him, bewail this misery and plight of ours and pray for grace and help. ~BOC, LC, III, 10-11

I think this is a repeat, but it always, always strikes me when I read that last sentence. "...bewail this misery and plight of ours..." So often, when trying to talk about struggles, I hear: "you have to move on" or "that's in the past" or "it's time to get over it." Another line of pernicious response is: "focus on the positive" or "stop focusing on yourself" or "naval gazing gets you nowhere." [I HATE the phrase naval gazing.]

What I am trying to say is that when bewailing the misery and plight of mine—living with chronic illness and a history of severe sexual abuse—to others, I am often hushed. Misery is not all that welcome in communication. And yet, here, we see that misery is most welcome by God ... that He desires to hear from us. Not merely happy clappy prayers, but the words of our heart ... including our anguish.

That's why I LOVE the Psalter. It is full of the plight of human existence, the joys and the sorrows, the trust and the fear.

It really bothers me when folk tell me that Psalm 137 is not appropriate to read or share or speak. I think it is VERY appropriate because God is the one who inspired it to be written and to be included in the Word of God.

I read that psalm as one of anguish and petulance and fear. Here is this person in captivity who has been told to pray for his captors' success. I see him bewailing his misery and plight. "Are you kidding me? Here I am in captivity with no hope of freedom, watching my captors have everything I want. You want me to praise God? How can I do that in my misery? You want me to pray for my captors? Fine! You know what the prayer of my heart is? That my captor's babies be dashed upon the rocks."

And God would say, "I hear your anguish. I understand anguish. My son will soon be dashed upon the rocks for your freedom. I love you. Cling to that in your time of need."

But then, again, I am a Nutter about the Psalter, so maybe my thoughts about Psalm 137 are just that. Nuts.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Cages...


     "...Kaylin hesitated and then decided against pressing her.  Everyone has reasons for silence and the secretes silence contained.  No one knew that better than Kaylin.
     "But...breaking that silence in Kaylin's case had been like breaking shackles and chains.  It was true: it had.  But it was a choice she'd made, and the choice itself was part of the freedom." ~Michelle Sagara, Cast in Peril

I had a terrible, terrible dream last night.  What made it worse is that Becky, Mary, Celia, and Emily were there with me ... watching.  When I was little, I made a terrible choice to try and escape something.  It is the reason why I struggle to believe that I could ever be clean.  In my dream, I made the choice again.  And they watched.  It was horrible.

A friend told me that nothing is unforgivable.  But the sin of unbelief is unforgivable.  And do not I have that sin since I do not believe that what I did is forgivable?  And, when trying to speak of the dream ... bewailed my anguish, really ... a friend noted that choices by youth in that situation are not really choices.  I follow her logic, but I don't believe it.  I wish I did.  I think of it, of that choice, as a cage.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Old and new...


One of the things I find extraordinary about my new GP was how attentive she is toward pain.  It still astounds me that she know my hair hurts!  Not really my hair, but the movement of it in my head.  She knew.

I mention pain when going down the list of symptoms and have for years, but other than the arthritis, it is as if that mentioning goes in one medical personnel ear and out the other.  Taking my cue from those folk, I downplay it myself.  However, it is getting harder and harder and harder to do so.

My abdomen hurts all the bloody time.  More at some times than others, but never without pain.  It is why I wear such baggy clothes now.  I find that odd ... I used to wear them to hide my shame and now I wear them to hide my pain.  My slow innards have their own pain, from being swollen and distend to being rife with gas from the bacterial overgrowth by food lingering too long in the small bowel.  But most of the abdominal pain is neuropathic.  The specificity of visceral neuropathic pain is just wretched.

Going off the hormones showed me how much they seem to be helping the pelvic pain.  Sometimes it feels like cramps. Sometimes it feels like I have another cyst on an ovary (I had many in college).  Sometimes it feels as if my insides are tearing.  SIGH.

The burning, stinging, electrical pain that appears all over is its own special sort of hell.  I thought that it running along my spine was the worst.  Recently, however, I experienced it in the bottom of my foot for the first time.  Now that was the worst.  Funny how much the bottom of a foot can hurt.

In a way, pain has become very old to me.  And yet it is also ever new.

Today, I experienced a new pain for the third time.  The third time is something you can no longer ignore as a fluke or a one-off.  It is blinding, searing, crippling pain in my tongue.  Yes, my tongue.  SIGH.

It is, for now, fleeting.  Just a few minutes of sheer agony.  Whilst it is happening, I am certain I am dying.  When it ends, I struggle to believe what just happened.  Could I really have fallen to floor to curl in a ball?  The first two times, I picked myself and worked hard to forget.  Tonight, I began to wonder if this was new new.

Is this my new normal?  Lord ... please ... no!

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Cling...


Because other folk posting in my Reveling in the Christian Book of Concord Facebook group was a rarity–something that made me feel incredibly lonely—I decided to close the group for I had wanted the group to be fellowship, not some sort of passage posting service for strangers.  But, as I started deleting the over 250 members, I thought about how three of my friends and a pastor I do not even know have commented about how much they liked having the snippets in their feed.  So, I turned the group secret, so random folk would stop asking me to join when they were not interested in participating in any sort of exchange about what they were reading or hearing or thinking about regarding the Confessions.  I kept my friends, the pastor, and someone I knew who does read in the Confessions and hoped might engage from time to time.

I still, primarily, have no fellowship in the group, no engagement of thought or other sharing what they are reading, hearing, or thinking about the Confessions.  However, I do know that those few in the group like to see the Confessions in their feed and what I post shows up in mine.  It is the latter that prompted me, since I am the owner of the group, to decide to post psalms in between BOC snippets. I do love having the psalter in my feed.

I do still have thoughts about the BOC passages, but I mostly do not write them in the post because it makes me feel rather lonely to be vulnerable in front of others and receive back silence.  Really, I feel the freak, thinking I must be the only person who revels in the Confessions, reading them daily and marking up her copy with highlights, underlining, and sticky notes with thoughts and questions.

Today, though, was one of those days I posted my thoughts as well as a snippet:

In the Creed we confess, "I believe...in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who...was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell." In this Confession, Christ's burial and descent to hell are distinguished as different articles. We simply believe that the entire person (God and man) descended into hell after the burial, conquered the devil, destroyed hell's power, and took from the devil all his might. We should not, however, trouble ourselves with high and difficult thoughts about how this happened. With our reason and our five senses this article can be understood as little as the preceding one about how Christ is place at the right hand of God's almighty power and majesty. We are simply to believe it and cling to the Word. So we hold to the substance and consolation that neither hell nor the devil can take captive or injure us and all who believe in Christ. ~BOC, FSD, IX, 1-3

I wrote a blog post about how the Gospel does the clinging, about how telling struggling and wounded folk to cling to the Gospel puts pressure on them to DO SOMETHING when the Gospel does the doing. I still believe that, obviously, since I am wont to stand on a small soap box about the power and efficacy and sufficiency of the Living Word and how folk seem to tend to not believe that in that they look for other words to offer in comfort. However, reading this, I started thinking about what is it that I cling to ... that I clutch wildly in the wilderness. Because, to be honest, I struggle with salvation. With what it means for me to believe and if I do ... if I can. I do find the second to last sentence interesting since believe and cling are separated and yet together.

I cling to the Psalter. Fiercely. Resolutely. Without a single doubt that it is the Word for me. I deeply hunger to hear, to have read to me, John 1:1-5, but I oft doubt it is a Word for me. Much of the Gospel I read wistfully rather than with a sense of ownership.

I also cling both fiercely and resolutely to bits of the BOC, chief amongst them LC, IV, 17 ("For it [the Word] has, and is able to do, all that God is and can do."). Even though it has been so long since I have had the Lord's Supper I cannot even remember, I also cling to LC, V, 55-74, what I believe is the most beautiful and loving writing in the BOC. I would add that the BOC is as dog-eared as the Psalter is, and I ramble around in it much the same way I do the Psalter.

I oft wonder if others, in reading passages like this, stop and consider what it is to which they cling ... especially when wandering about in their own wilderness.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

A goat...


I have this basket that I use to carry things up and down the stairs.  Well, I use it in the morning and the evening.  It is a basket that a woman used to bring me muffins.  It is, to my recollection, the only time someone did something like that.  She wrapped the handle in GREEN ribbon imprinted with the message "all things grow with love."  When I started having trouble carting my stuff about in the mornings and the evenings, especially the medical stuff, I started using the basket.  I don't really think about it, other than glances at the handle warms the cockles of my heart.

I don't think about the basket when it comes to Amos.
I should have.

Wednesday, when I fetched my prescriptions, I left the benzonatate downstairs, because I had filled days in my medication containers that did not have the medication.  Once I filled them, I put the bottle in my basket and forgot to take it out when I got upstairs.  The bottle had slipped beneath the slippers and the scrunchie and the blinders so I just didn't see it.

I am not sure how Amos did.  But he did.  I know that he did because of what I found.




SIGH.

The cap is gone.  Completely.  There were some orange bits along with a pile of the generic Tesselon Perles.  Thankfully, once counted, I was only one short of those pills, used to quiet the cough that starts my cough variant asthma.  I am hopeful that it is somewhere on the floor that I cannot see, but I am not really worried if Amos ate it.  What it mostly does is numb the tissue of my throat to stop the coughing.  It certainly didn't kill him.

Strangely, Amos didn't vomit on the bedroom floor last night.  Usually, when he is being a goat, he vomits all the inedible bits rather conveniently on the floor.  I expected a mess but did not get one.  Small blessings.

Amos is not a chewer.  I mean, he has four different chew bones (3 downstairs and 1 upstairs), which he gnaws on quite a bit.  But he doesn't chew on slippers and such.  Well, he is rather partial to a gentle gnaw on the zippers of my hoodies if I leave then lying on the foot of the bed.  The point is that what Amos does do is pick out tasty treats from things set on the floor.

I know this.  I know this because I have to tell women to put their purses up on the deacon's bench if I spot them lying on the floor.  And I know this because Amos is wont to pluck electrical tape from tool bags.  Amos loves choosing chew bones from tool bags.

He's a goat.

This early evening, my neighbor took me to work on the stockings I am planning for my parents.  We had gone out earlier, but my blood pressure tanked and I ended up lying down in my car with my feet up in the air as my pacemaker calmed down.  I had been standing too much.  I am thankful I did not faint in Menard's.  I did miss two things on my list, though.

My neighbor drove my car home and I guzzled Gatorade form the kitchen floor.  After resting and salting and hydrating, I went out again.  The second trip was more protective, with many things on my list.  And a frosty on the way home, consumed fully because of a very, very, very slow train.

When I arrive home, Amos goes nuts.  Starting about a year ago, nothing would do but I had to pick him up and hold him for a few moments before even finishing walking in the door.  If not, Amos would jump and jump and jump and jump until I did.  It is as if Amos needs reassurance that I am actually home.

Tonight, when I arrived home, I held Amos and then tried to carry the shopping bags inside.  He wasn't done with me, however, so I held Amos whilst carrying the shopping bags inside.  Then I set him back down.  I was having a cold spell, so I went straight upstairs and turn on the shower.  I thought I would blanche myself a bit to try and turn my feet from blue.  Amos, though, was not done being reassured of my presence.  He's always attentive as I shower, oft peering over the side of the tub to check if I am still okay.  But that wasn't enough.  He wasn't done with being assured of my presence.  So, he clambered over the side of the tub and joined me!  I learned my lesson.  Stay with Amos until he feels assured then get on with things.

A goat.
A clingy goat.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Cursed...


My microwave is breaking.  Actually, it is already broken, but still functions somewhat, sometimes.  Mostly, it turns on and off by itself.  If it turns on by itself, the only way to turn it off is to disconnect the power and let it sit for a while.  Often the buttons do not work for a while.  And when you open the door and shut it, then it comes on-but-not-cooking and is stuck in cannot-use-mode most of the time.

Open.
Shut.
Open.
Shut.
Shout colorful metaphors.
Open.
Shut.
Open.
Shut.
Long for the sun to go super nova.

I feel appliance cursed.

The good news is that the replacement is $151 LESS than what I paid four years ago, coming in at $199 if bought by tomorrow.  It is 100 watts less than what I have, 0.2 cubic feet smaller, and has only two fan settings as opposed to four.  I do not believe that those three down-sizes are worth the extra money.  It also does not have the steam feature, but given that I have never used the steam feature on my current microwave (or most of the fancy features), I am 100% confident that I will not miss it.

What it does have is a heat protection auto-fan feature.  Being a lazy venter, I probably need that automatic feature.  Greatly.  Maybe I ruined the microwave with my lazy venting.  I happen to love the smells of my cooking.  Mostly.  Besides, most of my cooking was at the front of the stove so there was not all that much steam rising beneath the microwave.

That's my story and I'm sticking with it.




Thursday, December 01, 2016

The deepest cut...


I found this recipe on Facebook a couple of weeks ago and wanted to try it.




These Banana Oatmeal Muffins are what I think baked oatmeal might be like.




It is not the best of photos, but you can see that the texture is a bit different from a muffin, being made entirely with oats.  I was wondering how it would work without flour.  It worked very well!

I bought bananas on Wednesday, but was too exhausted when I arrived home to even think about cooking the muffins I had been dreaming about.  They were worth the wait.  More so than their tastiness, though, I enjoyed the making of them.  Cooking is the one thing that I can do these days.

Of course, I no longer just try a recipe at the drop of a hat the way that I did when I first started cooking.  I study the recipes.  I read them again and again and again to ensure that I understand them.  I also go through the recipes mentally, sort of cooking them in my mind.  And, these days, I try to do all the prep first, measuring things out and putting them into small dishes and chopping or mincing or peeling and the like so that there is little disruption to the flow of following the recipe.

You see, even with all my studying, I still read and re-read whilst I am cooking.  I get confused, after all.  I disremember what I did or how many of this or that I added.  So, if I measure out the flour before hand, then I do not run the risk of adding too much or too little using my oft foggy brain.

Cooking is hard.  But I can do it.  I can have success, as I did here.

Writing used to be as easy as breathing to me.  Okay, perhaps not quite that easy, but nearly.  After all, I wrote my dissertation in a mere two months.  I love writing.  And I still think about it all the time.  I write in my head much of the day, but I no longer write with ease.  Even my blog posts are arduous.  It is difficult to concentrate, difficult to communicate.  I make errors I never did before.  I miss the errors that I make when I am proofing what I have written.  I lose my train of thought.  I struggle to understand what I have written and to remember what it is that I started to say.

Losing my ability to write wth east is the absolute worst loss of dysautonomia.  It is one that I grieve daily.  It is the deepest cut.

Thus, I am thankful that I can still do something, albeit a little clumsily and often a lot messily.  It is something that I can savor myself and share with others.