Devout to Doubtful

By the time I was old enough to know a little about what religion meant, we were attending church regularly.

I remember being there when my dad and sister were baptized, in the little pool at our church. I knelt on the shaggy orange carpet in front of the pool’s glass in my nice church dress, seeing their smiles as they had the cloth placed over their faces and dipped in the water, one at a time. Not long after, my mom was baptized at a seminar, in a larger one. And not long after that, due to my urging and a lot of convincing, I went through Bible studies and was baptized myself, at six years old, younger than most people in our church had been (or had been allowed to).

In my nearly fifteen years afterward, I remember watching the baptismal vows become more strict and more detailed, including things that I never thought were wrong, such as playing board games (of all things). I remember being berated by one of the visiting pastors during his sermon because me and one of my fellow ushers were going in and out of the church (which we were supposed to, because we were ushers). I remember this same pastor being rude to my mother because she asked why we were not allowed to wear jewelry when people in the Bible did.

As I got older, I began to question the beliefs our church held that I had never found any reason to understand from a Biblical perspective. I caught up on secular music, all of the music I’d missed that I hadn’t listened to when I was younger. I wrote a paper in high school (with Biblical references) about why wearing jewelry wasn’t wrong (or even something God cares about), despite what the church taught us. I struggled with issues that should never have had a place in my home church. In college, I pierced my ears for the first time, and watched as my dad at first asked me “you did what?!” in horror but later said, “You know, those look really nice.” I wore the largest earrings I could find and what I wanted to church when I was forced to go, defiantly daring anyone to tell me not to.

Church had been something that was part of my routine, every Saturday, for fifteen years of my life, but I eventually stopped going in college. I refused to go when I was home, not wanting to visit with people who either had views that angered me to listen to, or didn’t quite accept me because of my light skin. For awhile, I only would go willingly when our pastor was speaking, the one we had who inspired me that organized religion could get better, that actually read the Bible open face on the pulpit, not picking and choosing what verses suited his own agenda.

Over my junior year of college, my parents experienced their own realization, where my dad was home all day recovering from surgery and opened the new “archaeological” Bible that my mom had given him, and read it entire chapters, entire books, and became confused and angry at the church’s teachings. Here was the book we were supposedly living from, and it disagreed with everything we’d been taught. He and my mom read through, and by the time I’d finished my junior year and I was riding home with my mom with all of my belongings in the back, she told me that they, along with my cousins, were going to leave the church for good. They had been involved more than anyone else, had given whole parts of themselves to it, and despite my own trepidations and anger, I knew I needed to be there for them on their last Sabbath there.

Over the past four years since then, I’ve felt a complete disconnect from my religious roots. I have no desire to attend church at all. I haven’t lost my faith in God – I’ve always believed in His existence and that He loves us…and that a lot of Christians don’t reflect His character at all. I find the church’s fear of doubt and questioning to be deterrent. I think all of us need to question and search and doubt to find our way to what the truth is, not by listening blindly to how others interpret teachings, the Bible, and other religious books that are sometimes given more credit than they’re due.

Could my relationship with God be better now? Of course it could. None of us are perfect. I’ve found that I find it important to love those around me despite their faults, and to fight for the people that religion tends to knock down while using the Bible as their reasoning. Loving others isn’t about judging them, or loving the sin, not the sinner. It’s about caring for and doing what’s best for them, which does not include trying to change them. If God could love us through all of the stuff we do, surely we could do even a quarter of that for those around us.

I’m glad that I’ve had the opportunity to honestly dive into what I believe about the church and about faith throughout the last few years of my life, to be able to freely question and doubt the details while still holding the most important belief, and to discuss with others what those things mean.

I’d like to hear what you think: Did you grow up religious or not? What did you believe when you were younger that ended up being challenged? Do you prefer where you are now or where you were at past times in your life? Let me know what you think, I’d love to hear it. 

Review: Let’s Avoid Uncle Dale by DosBadDads

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Book: Let’s Avoid Uncle Dale

Authors: DosBadDads (Patrick and Steve)

Published: June 12, 2014 on Amazon.com Kindle Store. I received an advance review copy of the book.

Genre: Baby’s literature. (But it’s so that the parents won’t get bored. Or want to throw things.)

Review:

 Like its predecessor, Let’s Avoid Uncle Dale is probably not the book you want to read to your little kids that have learned to talk. It could be awkward.

However, you or your friends who have kids that are still months away from talking, but still want to read something you’ll both enjoy, will like this “no B.S. baby lit” from DosBadDads.

Every family has an uncle Dale. Every family has the member that everyone loves but don’t quite trust with their kid. They have some pretty outrageous stories or make some pretty bad decisions.

This Uncle Dale has both, plus more. I enjoyed laughing my way through Uncle Dale’s proclamations and the truth behind them. I loved the illustrations, and page 19 brought a heartwarming smile to my face before the end of the book again surprised me, and made me laugh out loud. What was the image on page 19? I guess you’ll have to read it to find out.

If you have a straightforward, blunt outlook on life, and want to be entertained while reading to your littlest ones, check out DosBadDads’ books.

Let’s Avoid Uncle Dale is available on Amazon, along with DosBadDads’ first book, FYI: Great Grandma is Racist (I reviewed that one, too!).

For more information, you can find DosBadDads on Facebook Twitter, and at their website.

A Tale of Bed Beginnings, Stubborness, and Pain

Until recently, my 25-year old twin mattress had served me quite well. It wasn’t until I moved out of the house and into my apartment(s), that I began to notice that I didn’t sleep well anymore. I was always tired, always groggy, never wanted to drag myself out of bed in the morning, and probably drank too much coffee.

I finally concluded that it was probably the age of my mattress. It was finally beginning to break down, and that must be the main culprit. I asked if I could have a new mattress for my early birthday present. Fairly quickly, we were able to purchase the mattress and frame.

I was (kind of still am, three weeks later) very excited about getting a new mattress. The Boyfriend was out-of-town at a wedding, and I could not wait to set everything up.

The day the mattress arrived at my office, I had already bought sheets to match the duvet cover I was eyeing on the IKEA website, as well as a bed skirt and a new cover for my body pillow. It was rolled up tight, air compressed, and in a cylindrical bag. The UPS guy was kind enough to lift the mattress into the back of my Beetle. With the back seats laid down and the front seat pushed forward, it fit perfectly. I admired how easily it fit into my little car.

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I finished my work day determined to get it set up as soon as I got home.

As soon as I arrived home, I got my sweater, purse and water bottle upstairs and unlocked the door, trying to leave it propped open enough that I could simply push it open once I got to the top of the stairs with my prize. I was excited to find that the mattress had a strap, and used it to pull it out of my trunk.

“This is heavier than I thought,” I thought to myself.

The mattress could not be lifted, it had to be dragged. And when dragging didn’t work, I had to set it upright and scoot it on its end through the door to the garage, through the door to my stairwell, and then figure out how to drag this mattress up the stairs without dropping it, or its sheer weight taking me tumbling down the stairs with it. After trying to lift it up the stairs one at a time while upright, I decided maybe dragging wasn’t so bad of an idea after all, and dug my fingers (and nails) into the fabric and string holding the bag shut, and dragged it up the stairs, one at a time, not being able to rest for a second because the mattress would just go hurtling down the stairs again and crash into the door. The worst step was right before the door, and hoping I had enough room to pull the mattress all the way through the doorway without letting it go, and then slowly standing it up against my washer and dryer without falling out the door myself.

Once I had it in the door and in no danger of falling over, I had to lay down for a few minutes and catch my breath. I couldn’t believe I’d actually gotten the stupid thing up the stairs by myself. I had a sort of mad pride about it, and I’m pretty sure I was grinning like crazy.

Success!

Success!

Next came the process of getting my twin mattress out of the room and into my living room, followed by its frame. This was the easy part. I had been wrangling this same mattress around and around my tiny childhood bedroom since I was nine. The frame presented a slight problem that was easily fixed by taking the footboard off so that the bed could make the corner out of my room and into the hallway. I set everything in the living room, and it admittedly stayed in there dismantled until this past Saturday.

With the area where my bed had been empty, I vacuumed the entire carpet area and wrestled the mattress package into the bedroom and laid it on the floor as carefully as its weight would allow. I cut the outer bag open, made sure I had the mattress facing the right way up, and cut the plastic that would allow it to decompress. Within minutes, it was 11 inches high and only needed to expand another inch to reach its full size and shape. The instructions online had said to let it air out for a couple of days, but how could I resist the look of this comfortable bed? I was giving my mom a play-by-play of the setup process via text message, and she agreed I should go ahead and just sleep on it. Especially since I could already feel the ache and tension in my forearms from its trip up the stairs. I put my sheets and mattress pad on before settling in for raid that night.

The frame came a couple of days later. I’d spent a few blissful days with the mattress on the floor, nursing my sore muscles. The frame also fit easily into my car with the help of the delivery guy, and although Boyfriend was back, I was too excited to wait for him to help me set it up. I put on an episode of Azeroth Choppers and began setting it up with the help of the instructions. Everything was going fine, until I rather stupidly opened one half of the frame while sitting directly by the hinge. The middle legs popped up when I dropped the sides and hit me squarely in the mouth.

It happened so fast and the pain was so sharp that I immediately burst into tears, without even consciously realizing what had happened. It took me a few minutes of hanging over the sink bawling, hot tears streaming down my face before I finally realized what had happened. I looked at my quickly swelling lip, applied a bag of frozen corn to it, and sat tearfully watching Azeroth Choppers until I felt like I could continue. I managed to set up the rest of the bed frame and get the mattress on it without further injuries, although putting a bed skirt on a queen-sized mattress by yourself with no tie downs doesn’t turn out great in the long run:

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It was time to raid. So the bedskirt stayed messed up for a day. Plus I didn’t have my new comforter or duvet cover yet.

The next week I received my duvet cover and comforter. That process was relatively painless, except that the comforter is far too large for my washer, and far too large to actually dry in my dryer. I ended up having to lay it out as flat and not crumpled as possible on my drying rack. Thankfully I won’t have to wash the comforter itself too often.

It’s finally done, and has been done for about two weeks. I’m very happy with it, despite my healed bruises and sore muscles. I’m honestly a bit proud of myself for the whole ordeal. Here’s the finished product:

It's so cozy, and blue.

It’s so cozy, and blue.

My view at night before bed. AKA, perfection.

My view at night before bed. AKA, perfection.

Tell me about a home project you had that you ended up injuring yourself or others around you, but it ended up worth it in the end. If you’ve replaced a very old mattress after years, how did you feel about it? Let me know in the comments! 

Remember the Time…In First Grade, I Kissed a Boy (Ew)

Generally, I would have considered myself the weird kid in school. I was the one who was convinced I had a pet butterfly that flew with me to school and back and played with me at recess. I was the one collecting rocks and sometimes “interesting” trash to make sculptures while out on the playground. I was the one who sat in the grass and made necklaces and bracelets and headbands from weedy flowers. I was the girl who was alone at recess most of the time. At that age, I had no interest in boys and would rather compete with them than think about liking them or shunning them entirely. Some of the boys in my class picked on me a bit, but I mostly just ignored them and figured they thought I was weird or didn’t like me, and I didn’t really care much.

However, there was one boy who picked on me and bothered me the most, L.

He was the boy in class that would get in trouble all the time. We had a wall with different colored cards for behavior, and every time he’d get in trouble he’d be nearly bawling to go change his card from green to yellow, or sometimes straight to red. He was the one sticking his eyelids up until they stuck and farting on purpose, just generally being gross. I didn’t like being around him at all. Considering the way he treated me, I figured he just didn’t like me, and that was fine with me. The feeling was mutual, and he was generally receiving a large helping of side-eye from me every time he got into trouble.

One day, I was walking on the playground, heading back toward the cafeteria. At my elementary school, the playground has a square building near the cafeteria with a boys’ bathroom and a girls’ bathroom on opposite sides, and that’s all it holds. There are classrooms on either side of the entrance to the cafeteria and the playground beyond.

I was walking by the big entrance to the boys’ bathroom, minding my own business, when suddenly a dark shape came out of the doorway, grabbed my arm hard, and yanked me into the bathroom.

I remember being very confused, as the process of walking had been interrupted so quickly, and suddenly all I saw was the orange ceiling, dirty tiles, and few stalls in the boys’ restroom. Within the next few seconds, I had a wet kiss planted on my lips.

My thoughts went from shock, to panic, to anger. Especially when I figured out it was L from my class.

The details are pretty fuzzy from there. I do remember pushing him away and kicking him squarely in the huevos before hightailing it out of there, calling for a playground supervisor. I know he got in trouble, probably mostly for the pulling-a-girl-into-the-bathroom by force stunt.

I also find it ironic that I wasn’t kissed again (for real this time) until I was 20 years old.

This post was written for the Remember The Time Blog Hop hosted by Emily from The Waiting (and her new intern, Rob!) If you’d like to join the linkup, please click here

Remember the Time….It Was My Birthday?

Most people’s 21st birthday has something to do with alcohol and drinking, and possibly spending the next day miserably hung over. As soon as you’re old enough, go for it, right?

At the time, I didn’t (and didn’t really want to) drink at all. I was apathetic about doing something special for my 21st birthday – being 21 was reward enough in my opinion. So I decided to let my mom run with it. She wanted to do something where my little cousins could come have fun, as well as the adults. The venue would be John’s Incredible Pizza. I was a little worried about the general age range of birthday parties, but went with the flow.

You can imagine that most of the normal birthday-boys and girls were at least 10-12 years younger than I was. It was apparent on the faces of the staff when they came into the room expecting a pink-garbed little girl and nervously said, “Well I guess you probably don’t want to wear the party hat?”

The room was decorated the way you’d imagine a kids’ birthday party would be, and my family sat around the tables and ate our pizza and cake and ice cream, then went out into the arcade. This is where the party went from kind of awkward to immensely fun.

My little cousins Catie, Elijah, and Jeremiah were just at the age where they could enjoy the arcade games and bumper cars with a huge amount of blissful joy. The best part was probably the bumper cars – all of us grabbed our own round, rubbery-sided cars and drove around bumping each other with mad glee. We waited in line to go on multiple times with the whole family, and had a blast.

I’ve always enjoyed visiting the arcade – playing Dance Dance Revolution, SkeeBall, and some of the more chance-oriented games where you have to hit the button at the exact time to get the amount of tickets necessary to pluck that giant stuffed animal down from the shelf. Even now, if you offer me a stuffed Pikachu for prize tickets, I’m probably going to try my luck at getting enough tickets for it. Playing DDR with a group of family members cheering you on (or even joining you) is enough to make your cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing so much.

Although at the time I felt a bit awkward about having my 21st birthday at a place for little kids (and the staff certainly didn’t help) it’s a fond memory now, even just a few years later. I’m glad that I was able to spend the time around my family, having fun doing an activity we don’t normally do together, and just having a blast being silly or bumping each other in big, rubber-sided cars.

 

This post is for the Remember the Time Blog Hop hosted by Emily at The Waiting.

 

Things I Love (Almost) Inexplicably

This topic  has been circulating the blog universe in the past few weeks, and I’ve really enjoyed reading a lot of them. Here’s my list of things I love (almost) inexplicably.

1. The feeling of sprawling on my bed after standing/running around all day.

When I’ve been sitting at my desk all day, and then sitting upright to drive home, the minute I get home it’s the best feeling to sprawl out on my bed and give my back a rest.

2. Talking theory and strategy for the games I play. Because I’m a nerd.

Seriously, if you play World of Warcraft, League of Legends, Diablo III; and you start talking about gear stats, rotations, gemming, mitigation tactics, etc., you might not get me to shut up. I read guides, try to get any character I play in any game optimized, and learn strategic methods to be the best player I can be. It’s become a problem, maybe, but I think it helps my problem-solving skills. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

3. Fuzzy. socks.

I collect fuzzy socks. When I was working retail, I bought a couple of sets, and now people have been giving them to me as gifts. Fuzzy socks cradle my feet, and they are the best for lounging around the house, or wearing under boots on a workday for a hidden, comfortable refuge.

4. Black and white photography (shooting, hanging it, and looking at it). 

Black and white film photography is some of the most breathtaking photography for me. It is so surreal and outside of the realm of real life, since we all see in color. My bedroom has almost all black and white photographs hanging around it, and it’s comforting to me.

5. Using a towel fresh out of the dryer.

One of the best things is getting out of the shower and using a towel that’s still warm from the dryer. Considering the setup of my house and my need to have a towel ready by the time I get out, it doesn’t happen often.

6. Black pearls.

Pearl is my birthstone, so growing up knowing what it was has influenced my fondness for them. I think black pearls are the most beautiful. There was a time I thought that I’d like my future wedding or engagement ring to be a small pearl. They’re unique and not so sparkly.

7. IKEA comforters.

When my mom and I were shopping to send me off to college, we went on a huge IKEA shopping trip to make sure my room in college would be like a home-away-from-home. There were quite a few of those purchases that have stayed with me since I moved out on my own after college, but the hands-down best is my duvet comforter with switchable covers. It’s soft, comfortable, not too long, and incredibly warm. I love it because it’s sufficient all year, and because of my hate for top-sheets I can keep my bed the same way all year.

8. Hoodies. Especially ones with letters, patterns, or designs that I deem ‘cool’. 

I’ve gotten better about not buying as many hoodies, especially because I mostly shouldn’t wear them to work. It doesn’t mean I don’t still have too many (and want more). I have zip-ups, pullovers, in pink, black, blue, red; and from lots of trips, organizations or schools I went to. I remember part of the reason I was excited to work at summer camp was so that I could have a hoodie with “STAFF” on the back. Sadly, they stopped doing that right when I started working there. -_- I’m pretty sure the next one I buy will be an Alliance hoodie from Jinx.

9. Shellac manicures.

This is usually a pretty special treat for me because they tend to be expensive. I love them for the convenience of not worrying about broken nails and the bonus of them looking really nice for weeks at a time. I currently have one that has looked perfect for a week now, and shows no signs of chipping. The last time I got a really good one, I moved between apartments, carrying boxes, moving furniture, etc. That includes shoving things up the steep stairs with no railings. I didn’t even chip a nail. It was a miracle.

10. Old buildings.

Something about old buildings makes my heart leap into my chest with happiness. I don’t know what it is. A sense of adventure and exploration fills me and I want to photograph or write about it immediately, or just set up camp inside and write about it while looking around its hallways and rooms. I think part of the reason I liked the East Coast so much was because there were historic buildings everywhere. Honestly, it’s really what sparked my interest in photography in the first place.

 

Now tell me, what do you love almost inexplicably?

The Room of My Heart

This post was inspired by Jennie at Tip of My Tongue. You can see her post here.

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What would the room of my heart look like?

It would look like a Victorian house. It’d have wall to wall bookshelves with hundreds of books on them, tall enough that I’d have to climb a ladder and sail along the length of them like Belle in Beauty and the Beast. It’d have a cozy hearth, with a roaring fire all the time to keep me cozy and warm (since I get cold at all times of the year). It would have a three-sided window with pillowed seat for reading and looking out the window into the world. It’d have hardwood floors and a four-poster queen sized bed that wouldn’t give me a backache if I decided to sleep in.

There is a giant beanbag chair that I can kick back in with one of my many Moleskines and write the day away if I feel like it, or sit with an all-powerful laptop and play games if I want to. There is a shelf displaying all sorts of cameras, from Rolleiflexes of all years to Holgas to Hasselblads and Canons and Dianas. Some of my photography decorates the wall above it.

There are also photos all around the walls, arranged artistically. They are like photos from the Harry Potter world, moving pictures where my family, friends and loved ones are laughing and moving and waving. They are closer to the center of my heart’s room than anything else.

Tell me, what would the room of your heart look like?