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Our back deck needs to be repainted. The white siding on our house severly needs a wash. It required renting a power washer. This is something well within my grasp, right?
First clue was when I couldn't even lift the thing into the van. It wasn't until after the saleman lifted it for me that I considered how I would get it out at home - don't know! After wrestling with the awkward thing for a while in the back of the van once home (If this van's a rockin' come help me!), I levered it up over the edge and managed to set it on the ground without breaking it or my foot.
Then there were all the hoses and connections. The garden hose to the power washer. Turn it on. The hose coupling is cracked and is spraying all over. Switch hoses. Attach sprayer gun, attach nozzle to the sprayer gun. Attach sprayer gun hose to the motor. Turn on the water. Squeeze the handle to the get the air out of the hoses.
OK, now to turn the compressor motor on. Turn the on/off switch to "on". Open the fuel line by pushing the lever to the right. Open up the choke by pushing that lever, which is immediately next to the fuel lever, to the left. (See, opposite directions. That's not confusing AT ALL.) Pull on the cord (like a lawnmower) and yank your hands off the ends of your arms because you're yanking so hard over and over and over again.
(I wanted the picture from SIMAM where he pretends he cut off his hand in shop class, but this is as close as I could get.)
Play with the choke, 1/4 way, 1/2 way, 3/4 way, off, on. Let it rest, maybe I flooded it. Turn off the water...............(check email)................. Start the process over again. Check the spark plug, the gas, the oil. Try again.
At the end of this my wrists were killing me and I felt like a failure. What kind of weak woman am I that I can't get a simple compressor motor started? Ridiculously enough I cried. (I felt as stupid as Danielle was last night on Survivor, why was I crying?!) With so many things in life out of my control surely I could accomplish this simple home maintenance task, couldn't I?! In my desperation I sent an email to DH that said, "I feel impotent and stupid."
He immediately emailed back, "It's lunchtime, I'll come home."
By the time he got here I had pulled myself together. I showed him all the levers and buttons, warned him that he could get wet and he took a turn yanking on the compressor cord. My DH is a big guy, played football, and has started many a lawnmower - he couldn't get it started either.
My dignity was partially restored. DH put it back in the van and I returned it and got a refund.
Afterwards it was lunchtime and I wanted to reward myself for trying since I didn't have the actual reward of a job well done. Baby and I went to Five Guys, a burger and a Coke sounded wonderful. With my spirits picking up I placed our order and the cashier said, "Your number is double zero." NOW THAT IS FUNNY! My official status as a looser was confirmed through random number generation. I took my double zero self, cute daughter, burger, fries and Coke home, where we sat on the patio in the sun enjoying ourselves while staring at the dirty, paint-chipped deck.
For the last week I've been battling Dante. I had to read the Divine Comedy for Humanities class. It wasn't horrid to read, and in the context of the time period it is interesting to consider. I also had to write a paper on it, that was hard. Specifically how Dante used Aristotle's theories to structure the different levels of hell - Those in 'regular hell' were those who committed sins against reason - fraud, deceit, and treachery. Those in the worst hell were those who committed sins against reason and against the community - Brutus, Judas Iscariot, and Cassius. Interesting ideas, none of which I subscribe to.
It did get me thinking though, about The Judgement, and what hell really is.
A week or two ago in Sunday School we were discussing the children of Israel. They did many things that we modern religious people look back on and laugh, "God just parted the Red Sea but they couldn't wait for Moses, they had to make a golden calf?" or "They were getting manna from heaven, why criticize it?" It's not so easy to laugh when you apply those thoughts to modern day situations though.
We were talking about the miracle of the quails. Here's the shortened Jen version - The children of Israel were sick of eating just manna all the time. They wanted meat to eat. They complained to Moses and Moses passed along the complaint to God. God said, 'If they want flesh, I'll give em' flesh' and rained quail down on the children of Israel. The people ate this quail, they ate a lot of it. Then the story gets interesting (I know, like food falling from the sky wasn't interesting enough).
"And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague." Numbers 11:33
Some of the people who ate the quail were killed by this plague. A plague that happened because of God's wrath.
I've been to innumerable Sunday School classes but it is only now that I'm scratching my head over this type of occurrence that happens very frequently in the Old Testament. There is a lot of writing about God's wrath in there. In some ways it isn't syncing up with my personal view of God, my Heavenly Father.
I feel that God is loving, he is literally our spirit father and cares for us in a similar way to how I care for my children. I believe that God allows us to suffer the consequences of our choices so that we can learn good from evil. I can't see that same God inflicting something horrible, like a plague, upon the children that he loves purely out of wrath. There must be purpose there, it isn't wrath purely for wrath's sake.
So in Sunday School I raised my hand to comment about the plague suffered by the people when they ate all that quail. "Maybe the plague wasn't necessarily God's vengeance or anger, maybe it was God allowing them to suffer the consequences of their actions. They ate too much quail meat when their bodies were only used to eating manna so they got sick and a few died."
The Sunday School teacher responded, "Well what do you think the plague was then?"
My response, "Maybe they died of sudden onset heart disease."
Everyone chuckled and we moved on. All joking aside, there is a connection there for me, on several levels. We are no different from the children of Israel. We complain when we are surrounded with bounty, so God gives us what we ask for so we can see for ourselves that it isn't good. Perhaps our modern day plague resulting from getting what we've asked for is obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc.
The deeper issue, the one I'm really struggling with is the idea that God wouldn't only allow consequences to run their course, and thus school us in eternal laws, but would heap on an additional amount of pain and suffering.
This relates to my ideas about what hell is. I think we as sinners create our own personal hell. Have you ever watched one of those addiction recovery TV programs? Watching an addict recover from drug addiction looks like hell to me. God didn't have to throw in any wrath, the pure consequences of the drug addiction were powerful enough on their own. Is that what hell will be like? Not just drug addicts, but those of us who didn't resolve our issues in this life will be trying to work them out in the next?
Religious people can be very self-righteous when talking about judgement and what hell will be like. Some even revel in the belief that they will be enjoying heaven while their fellow men suffer in hell. Christ teaches us to love one another, to care for our brother. I would think if we reach that kind of love then watching that brother we love suffer in hell would be no heaven for a true Christian. Along those same lines, I believe that the love we as humans are capable of feeling is only a small portion of how much God loves us. If God loves us so much more, how can he stand to inflict more pain upon us than is absolutely needed for our learning and progression. (Pain is a great teacher.)
Anyone have a thought about this that might help me?
This video was so good for me on many levels- as a mother, as a niece praying for her ill aunt, as a struggling child of God, as a soon-to-be foster mom on the cusp of a new life. Maybe it will be good for you too..."I pray, and then I get answers, and then I do it."
May is National Foster Care Month. So we're going to celebrate by moving our homestudy up to May 27th! That means we'll be fostering in about a month, how crazy is that!? Thankfully our wonderful friend has agreed to watch our kids so DH and I can have a little getaway before fostering begins. This is a big part of our plan to be successful - we have to be a well-functioning married team to handle the stress a foster child will bring.
Today was another foster parenting class for me. It went a full two hours because a mom in the class had major issues with the subject for today - discipline. Listening to her I counted my lucky stars that my kids respond well to discipline and that we already employ many of the recommended techniques. Charts to track goals and positive behavior are a one we don't use, but we do use other forms of positive reinforcement like allowance. When we have a foster child I may need to use charts just so no one gets lost in the shuffle. (They gave me a whole pack of charts that work for toddlers up to teens, tell me if you'd like a few and I'll email them to you.)
Discipline is a fine balance with any child. The goal is to teach the rules of productive living while at the same time building a loving relationship. The one doesn't preclude the other. That balance is even more important and delicate with a foster child who desperately needs proper discipline and love. Thankfully I won't be alone in trying to meet a foster child's needs, we have a great foster agency, friends, and church family.
Learn a bit more about Foster Care through these links, it's changed in the last decade and might not be what you think it is:
The National Foster Parent Association forum - maybe the question you have is being answered, or see what fosters are talking about.
On this site you'll find personal stories.
This is another site with stories from foster children, foster parents, birth parents, and social workers.
Here's a foster/adoptive mother sharing the story of the woman who fostered her baby until the adoption was final.
Foster parents of over 150 infants through 25 years - Amazing and Inspiring!
I love the title of this fostering blog! - Peace, Love, Understanding, Can I get that to go?
This one is good too - Noisy, Colorful, Lively
I've just come in from reading in the backyard as the light slowly disappeared. The lilac bush in the far corner of the yard spreads it's scent up to the patio and the bugs aren't yet out in full force. At bedtime the kids came out to kiss me goodnight, Baby even took her binki out to give me a proper kiss. I finished the last few chapters of a book that was good for distraction and leisure. It was a beautiful, peaceful evening to end a gorgeous spring Sunday. A day you don't want to end, as if you could hold onto sun and the scent of lilacs.
The last week has been very full, active with underlying concerns. But I've been reluctant to write about my worries, not knowing what parts are mine to tell.
There's been potty training with Baby. I wanted to do it before fostering started. Although I realize that regression is a possibility if sharing mommy with a foster sibling is too traumatic. That's OK, as I told the social worker, we have a carpet cleaner. I'm taking potty training with a more relaxed attitude than before. I'm concerned about my peace of mind, and Baby's. It's comforting to be aware of my limits, while at the same time not frightened or self-conscious about them. Baby is doing well, "tinkling" in the potty about once a day and still farting every time she attempts. Where all that gas comes from I don't know.
My little sister has had some changes in her life, job change, living situation change. I'm hopeful that it will all lead her to better things. That's how life has happened for me anyway - it's too scary to jump out of a sure thing into the unknown, so God takes away the sure thing so that we have no choice but to jump. Finding out that the new is better takes time and faith, but somehow it is better eventually.
My Daddy has a doctor appointment. I keep saying that's all it is and everything will be fine.
You know, I've lost very few close family members. My grandma died when I was just a baby. While I've missed not knowing her, I didn't feel the actual loss. When her husband, my grandpa died a few years ago it was sad, but right. His body was not a fitting shelter for his vibrant spirit any longer. My sister-in-law passed away very young, it was so hard to watch my brother loose her. I felt like I barely had time to know her.
A few weeks ago I asked my Mom the age of her parents. "Grandpa is 89!" she said. 'That's old', I thought,'people die in their 90s' and I took a slow, deep breath. That's how blessed I am, my family lives so long, I think the 90s are when people die. Not like anyone ever dies when they're younger.
Today I prayed for my Auntie Edith. She's been one of my most loyal blog readers. Even though she rarely comments, I know she's there keeping in touch from far away. A closer relationship with her has been one of my great blessings of blogging.
She's in the hospital, was in the ICU. When I spoke to her today she was in the step down unit, meaning that she's getting better. We had a really wonderful talk, her description of feeling the prayers for her is a realization that I treasure. She told me how prayers that are offered are felt by the recipient and heard in the heavens. Although those we love pass through difficult things, the love and peace of God is a real comfort unlike any other. Thankfully many of those prayers are also being answered by her church family who have sat at her bedside, cared for her kitties and garden, and made her feel loved through service that I'm too distant to give. Her description of their service has inspired me to be more diligent in serving and praying for those in need where I am.
I prayed for my aunt to feel hopeful, to have the support she needs to heal. How surprised I was to be supported and taught of hope by her. She has a long recovery ahead, I am amazed by her fortitude, hope and testimony.
These are my 'out of reach' concerns. My family is so far away, I prefer not to realize the immensity of how far - I could never walk. Their problems are still real to me, tugging at my heart as I go about my day. The tears I couldn't stop in church today were for them. There is a tie with family, blood and sinew holding hearts and spirits together through the miles and the problems. I am far away but you are not far from my thoughts.
Finally the good camera has been repaired. It has been wonderful to take a few spring pics. Looking over my blog there haven't been as many pics the last 6 months, the demise of this camera was the reason. It's hard to be happy about taking photos when you know they could look so much better. So here I am happy about taking photos again!
OK, I really don't like the layout of this post. I can't get Typepad to cooperate - the margins, spacing, etc. (Why am I paying for this?) Anyone help me with how to make a montage or mosaic of photos here? thanks :)