I am in the midst of my annual Christmas Baking Blitz, where I produce massive quantities of gifts from my kitchen in lieu of real gifts. I have no idea how any average sized family handles the complexities of gift giving. For some reason we think we have to give gifts to all of our children’s teachers and bus drivers. And since they are affiliated at least part time with special education and ride separate buses it is no small thing. We figured out that the boys saw at least 13 adults between the two of them on a daily basis plus associated therapists.
I can tell you from first-hand experience that teachers typically get a lot of junk at Christmas. Sometimes it’s cool junk, but it isn’t an iPod or tires for the car. It is mostly the coffee mug, perfume, bath product type of fare. Which is why food is always a popular thing, at least until some fool poisons someone and then I’ll be checking out how to make coffee mugs.
And then there are coworkers and distant relatives to think of. I counted about 20 of them, but I’m sure I’m forgetting someone. If I keep the list short, there are about 30 who make the gift list. But even if I went with a basic 20, consider trying to pick out gifts for all of them or even just buying a $15 gift card. No wonder the country has an economic hangover in January. Last year, I advocated the Buy Nothing Christmas and once again I’m calling for some restraint on commercialism. In just a few days, the world will run amok on “Black Friday’“ Don’t do it.
So what’s rolling out of the kitchen this year? I’m sympathetic to those who continually do Christmas bigger every year, and I’m afraid I have fallen at least that far. In addition to the microwave popcorn, sugar cookies and cookie mix in a jar, I do have a few holiday fruitcakes going in the oven and cinnamon raisin bread. I’m also thinking about trying some sort of chocolate peanut candy to see how it goes.
Okay, just to talk about the latest goings on, or lack thereof, several folks were wondering about the Dave Ramsey Seminar Arwyn went to. I was nervous all day, wondering if she would really go or not, as she was not at all looking forward to it.
However, when she got home she was pretty excited about trying to get our finances straightened out. Dave Ramsey is a salesman selling a dream and he did his job well. She really enjoyed it and took notes and filled out the little workbook they give you when you register. And she’s been visiting his website, so at least we’re on the same page there.
However, this time of year is her hardest time of year. She doesn’t seem to be able to curb her spending. It’s almost like a compulsion or something. And she has left the house and ended up spending since the seminar, so I’m just wondering if there was any real impact. Still, we do at least have a common basis for discussion.
We’ve talked a bit more about the church thing. She claims she doesn’t get anything out of the sermons, which a common complaint in any church, I suppose. However the Methodist church is plagued with some capable messengers who are unwilling or unable to deliver a message that challenges and inspires the people. There are concerns and problems within our community which the Methodist congregation does not want to face. However, blaming the lack of church attendance on a poor sermon is a lot like refusing to come to Thanksgiving because the turkey is dry. That’s not the real purpose. It’s silly to expect a pastor to be exceptionally gifted in every area. I don’t view my faith as a spectator sport. I’m in the game the same as anyone else, even if I’m not in the choir or preaching. It’s about the people sitting around me, more than the one speaking to me. So I don’t buy the sermon excuse.
Arwyn says that she just feels more comfortable there . She said God was telling her to move on. And that is an interesting thing, because God hasn’t given me any specific marching orders. I went with her a few weeks ago, and I didn’t feel particularly at ease. It really is a fast growing church and so it was very crowded. I felt closed in from all sides from such a throng of people in such a small area. The message was okay.
In the Methodist church, we do have smaller adult Sunday school groups where a body can actually get to know other people better. In this other church, there was no such thing. They have other Bible studies and different support groups but no mechanism for getting to know people on Sunday. And my thing has been being part of the teaching team for our class. I think it’s what I’ve always liked about the Methodist church and have always been a part of the teaching team.
And if God is telling her to move to a different church, why hasn’t He said squat to her about our marriage? How does telling her to go to a different place of worship jive with keeping our family together? Perhaps God IS telling us both to move on in different directions. Is that possible? Is it likely? Would God actually facilitate the separation and dissolution of a marriage?
I don’t know. It certainly runs counter to all the traditions and teachings that I have ever known. While some churches are more tolerant of divorce than others, I can’t say I know of any that are in the business of facilitating amicable separations.
And yet, the reality is that this is where I feel pulled. The house seems too small. My needs are too large. We’re nearing a (as in within a couple of years) critical stage where running a separate household might be nearly feasible. Her pulling away to another church is more congruent with that reality than one where we are reconciled. I’m not closing the door on reclaiming the marriage as much as being open to this other possibility. I would not expect God to lead in that direction, but could He?
If Arwyn and I, despite relatively little communication of any sort, have arrived at the same conclusion at the same (roughly) time, could that be interpreted as some sort of Divine sign? Again, this is foreign territory to me.
The lack of sex is a persistent and ongoing thing but it isn’t the entire issue or even the most prominent one at the moment. I actually find the spiritual schism is actually the more troubling issue or at least the one that marks a truer depth of difference between us.