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Ladies’ Fellowship Weekend

27 Mar

I’m writing to you today from Champaign, IL! My friend Heidi hosted, as she has for the past two years, a ladies’ weekend. During the weekend, several ladies from the region (or the nation, if they can make it) come to her house and spend the weekend in religious, spiritual fellowship. It’s a good time for us to reconnect with one another on a personal level, since most of us know one another, but don’t always have the time to talk or engage in deeper conversations.

I left Thursday morning from AL and made it, with some interesting detours, to IL. I’m a pretty good navigator and have a paper atlas in my car, so I was confident that I could make it from my house to hers with only my iPhone. It worked, as in, I made it to the house without any glaring problems, but I definitely went the wrong way down some one-way streets and it took a few hours longer than I felt it should have.

It’s noteworthy to mention that I stopped in Nashville for about three or four hours earlier to hang out with a friend from my earlier days in Birmingham, pre-Cincinnati days. We stopped at the Pancake Pantry, which I would say is good but probably not worth the 30 minute wait on a Thursday morning. Unless you’re just a pancake fanatic. I had some lemon-apricot pancakes that were delicious, but at the end of the day- pancakes. Time with Alex was good, though. We haven’t spent significant time together in over two years and had not even seen each other since Thanksgiving 2009. We mainly stayed in the neighborhood with Pancake Pantry and Fido. We hit up the bookstore there and I got several autobiographies, picked out by Alex, including one on Malcolm X. Not generally my cup of tea, but if I’m genuinely interested in learning about the perspectives of other people, I have to go there. Besides, it might be something I really enjoy.

I made it to Heidi’s later Thursday evening. We spent an hour or so talking and then got up to go to her doctor’s appointment out in Amish country. I spent the time running (four miles!) After the morning, we got ready for the weekend, including baking and cleaning and just general prep for the other guests who were coming. I think Heidi and I were both feeling a little un-ourselves going into the evening, but by the time everyone arrived and got settled it was a really enjoyable time.

Sabbath morning, all the girls got together to do a brunch and spend a little bit of time talking about some of the stuff that has been going on in Church as well as topics particular to the day. It was nice because breakfast ended up being more of a brunch, closer to about 11 or 11:30, and it gave us nice time to sleep in, Bible study and pray. We attended services, came back to the house and made Thai food for the ten or so of us in attendance.

Saturday evening after the Sabbath we had a really nice, informal discussion about spiritual renewal. Such discussions are always really valuable, because even though we are all confident in our beliefs and our ability to understand the Bible, different perspectives enhance that understanding. Especially when we are on the same page to begin with. We talked for about two hours while eating cheesecake and drinking wine. I nearly started crying at one point, which is really odd for me. I’m not generally that girl, but I guess someone needs to be that girl.

This morning one of the other girls and I went running. I generally run by myself at home, but it was really enjoyable to go with another person. I also had the experience of being the pacer, which was a first, but worked really well. We ran slower than I normally do, but by the end of the run I felt I could have gone for another two miles or so. So either increasing my mileage is paying off for the shorter runs, or running slower really works. I’m hoping the former. Both are something to look into.

Overall, the dynamic for the weekend was really great. Not everyone had attended before, but they were all really comfortable in their own skins and I got to know a few people better, which is really nice. I like extending my circle of acquaintances, but building new friendships has to have a strong foundation, and it always feels like that happens at LFW.

It’s amazing. I think every year that Heidi puts this together I end up having a really good time and it always comes at a time I need it most. This year has been a little bit more difficult because of the move, because of my feeling of isolation. It was really nice to be with people of like mind, who share the same core values.

If anything about this weekend has helped, it is definitely the spiritual renewal. The most important thing in my life is my relationship with God. That comes before anything. Family, friends, or even this crazy quest to become a PT. I am so glad to have been recharged and to feel rejuvenated. A side benefit of the weekend, though, is focus for the physical tasks before me. I’ve been really filling my time in AL with running and cycling and time off, which has been great for some overall mental restoration and getting settled into the state. But I have other goals that need to be attended. Even while I’m waiting on enrollment status or scholarship updates or job enquiries, there are smaller details that go along with those that I can be looking into. Or even long-term goals that are a bit more nebulous at the moment.

So now Heidi and I are just cleaning up, spending time chatting. I’ll be leaving in the morning, whereas the rest left this afternoon, since I don’t have a job and I have a bit of a longer driver! Tomorrow evening I’ll be back in Alabama and getting back into the swing of things for two days… maybe three? After that, I’ll be turning to go even farther south for the wedding of my ex and former roommate! Ha!

It sounds a lot more awkward than it is. I’m actually really looking forward to it :D More on that later, though.

This whole posts feels a little disjointed. I’m not giving it a lot of editing time, just spellcheck really, and I’m writing on a Mac, which is a little awkward and jolting since I’m more used to a PC. Concluded!


Trials and Tribulations

13 Mar

Originally written on 3/12:
We had our first “crisis” since my stay here. No, not my dad leaving unexpectedly for Iraq. Technically, that bombshell occurred before I came here.

Yesterday, I left the house to get dinner. I came back and used the garage door opener to get into the house- we only have two keys between the four of us and my brother has one but he’s a few hundred miles away. So until a spare can be made, I’ve been using the garage door opener. I got inside and hit the switch again to shut the door. It started making the most awful racket, and one side was lowering more than the other side. Pretty soon, the upper leftmost corner threw one of its wheels and dropped out of the track.

I stopped the switch, fairly freaking out that I had managed some large scale destruction half a month into my stay, halting the door mid-close. I called Dad, currently in Texas before he flies over to the ME, and told him the details of the bungling. He said we could try to call my uncle to come over and fix it- the same grumpy uncle who suggested I do a two-year PT program. Fortunately, he wasn’t upset at all. I guess when you break news with, “This is really bad, and I hate to tell you, but…” parents’ minds tend to go to the worst case scenario. Just a tip for future reference.

When Sandy got home, I recounted the particulars to her as well. I had texted her beforehand not to use the door since she was out at dinner with her family. She was alarmed about the door, but not upset with me, fortunately. When I apologized she brushed it aside, saying if it had not happened with me it would have happened with her or Dad. That was a big relief.

The problem came when she announced that we would try to fix it tomorrow. This is fairly rational seeing as most people don’t leave their garages open when they are asleep and vulnerable. However, we live in a very, very small neighborhood, with about twenty houses, not all of which are even occupied. We all know each other and it is very safe. More importantly, I am a seventh day Sabbath keeper. From sunset Friday to sunset Saturday I don’t do any work, unless it constitutes an emergency- ox in the ditch, if you will. An ambiguously broken garage door in my mind does not an emergency make.

Well, a few moments ago, that’s exactly what we did. We went into the garage and I held the door up while Sandy put the wheel back in its track, after taking off the plate that held the wheel in place and reattaching it in that order. After about thirty minutes of this, we tried closing the door with the switch, only to find that it did exactly what it did last night. It closed unevenly until the wheel popped off again. We ended up closing it manually, which is probably what we should have done in the first place.

I had conflicting emotions about the experience. For one, I really enjoyed doing something bond-worthy with Sandy, just the two of us. Teambuilding exercises are great! Plus I really like fixing things, doing hands on stuff. The higher priority for me, however, was to uphold what I believe is a sacred law.

When it comes to maintaining my religion, I have always struggled with my dad’s side of the family, who are mostly mainstream Protestants; Sunday keepers who eat pork and celebrate Christmas.

My problem is how do I express to a woman whose house I am living in, who I barely know, who is religious herself but doesn’t agree with my religion, that I don’t want to help her in what she considers a valid time of need? I say “want” as opposed to “can’t” because I understand that I have a choice here. What is the obligation that I have and what is the greater priority? God knows the ins and outs and expects me to do the best I can, but this is a really sticky situation.

I would probably still be reeling from the experience, trying to hide in my room (am I really almost thirty?) to avoid the confrontation it would bring had I not just spoken to one of my roommates from Ohio.

Ruthie is a long-time friend. We met years before I even left for Ohio, during my original time in Alabama, and we lived together almost the entirety of my stay there. She shares my religious beliefs and knows the pressure I am feeling. In addition, she is significantly older than me and has a dearth of experience.

Here are some of the pieces of the scenario she pointed out that were great for perspective. Sandy is under a lot of stress right now with Dad leaving, therefore:

o Be helpful in any way that I can when I can, which is proper, given that I am staying in her home, and comforting
o Wait for her to bring up the door and then explain how I feel about addressing a non-emergency on the Sabbath
o Doing what I did at the time, in the given situation, was probably the right way to handle it, reflecting on the above reasons.

Ruthie also made me remember the reactions are sometimes delayed, and that I probably won’t see any real stress from Sandy until a few weeks down the road. When it comes out it might not have anything to do with me directly. Maybe something I do reminds her of my dad, or maybe it’s just something she’s dealing with. Be prepared for it. (I should clarify that reactions happen right on time, but sometimes it takes our brains a while to really process what has happened, for everything to finally sink in.)

I’m not saying the whole thing doesn’t bother me. This particular situation is over, but it still does. But, Ruthie was able to ease my conscience by saying that God knows the details of the situation and she didn’t think He would condemn me for my actions. From here on out, though, I know that I have to be more consistent, and I have to be firm, but polite.

It’s clear to me what my priorities are, and I want to stand by my convictions.

Hey, didn’t I say this was going to be interesting?