Thursday, November 17, 2016

So this thing happened to me one time...

Well, I was wrong. Donald Trump actually became the President of the United States of America. Since I did not foresee any election result that would end with me feeling satisfied, I did not fall apart upon his win. It was more of a surprised resignation. I'd hoped the worst would be over once the election was decided, but alas. That was not to be. Now I turn on the news or facebook to see faces and words twisted in rage and fear, disgust and hubris. And the thing is, there is no good side and bad side. Both sides are spewing the same venom at each other. Still.

But this isn't really what I wanted to say. Fair or not, Trump has brought a lot of controversy with him, especially with his treatment of women. His statements throughout the campaign, the hot mic, and now the backlash that includes protesters supposedly holding up signs advocating violence towards our soon to be FLOTUS are unavoidable. The part of all this that's troubled me the most is the defense of these statements, the accusations being written off as fake without consideration, or the "she was asking for it" mindset.  I cannot abide by these things because I know why a woman wouldn't make a report when someone has physically assaulted and threatened her. At least I know why I didn't make a report.

 This thing that happened to me is not something that I think about all the time. Honestly, I was completely caught off guard when the memories started hitting me again, and I realized that I had not dealt with everything as completely as I thought I had. I will spare you most of the details, but here's what happened to me when I was 16. In high school,  I briefly dated a guy that was very controlling. I was at least able to see the warning signs early enough to break up with him after a few months. Unfortunately, that did not seem to deter him. He became fixated on me. He would call repeatedly at night. He would show up wherever I happened to be. I felt unsafe, but I couldn't have given you a concrete reason as to why I felt that way. Even after he started dating another girl, he still continued to repeatedly call, swear he loved me, and follow me. I made it very clear that I did not want his attention nor did I want him to call. On this one thing, he ignored me.

We were in a class together, and at the end of class one particular day, the teacher stepped out of the room leaving us students alone and waiting for the lunch bell to ring.  After he was told by a mutual friend that I might have some proof of what he'd been saying to me, he was enraged. He flew across the room, grabbed me around my upper arm, and dragged me to the other side of the room where he then slung me around so he could put his face right up to mine. I was barely 115 pounds at the time, and he was very strong. His hand wrapped around my upper arm so tightly and completely that I couldn't pull away. I begged him to let me go. I pulled at his fingers to get free. I tried to drop to the ground, but he pulled me up by my arm. He demanded that I give him whatever proof I had. When I told him I didn't have anything, he put his face so close to mine that we almost touched noses, and he said he would kill me if I ever tried to get anything on him again. And in that moment, neither of us had any doubt that he meant it. Then the bell rang, he let me go, and I went to lunch with my friends.

Oh, did you forget that part? Did you forget that all of this happened in a room full of people that watched the entire thing? I don't think anyone heard him threaten to kill me, but they saw and heard every bit of the rest. And no one did a thing. No one said a word. The room was silent throughout the entire experience. Maybe they were shocked. Maybe they didn't know how bad it was. My friends certainly realized when they saw my arm that was swollen and badly bruised within minutes of it happening. By the time I sat down at the lunch table, you could see a very distinct black and blue hand print around my red and swollen upper arm. I'd never known that a bruise could show up so quickly.

A few minutes into lunch, he walked into the cafeteria, saw me, and came over to my table. He looked pleased when he saw me. He smiled with pride. He leaned in to threaten to kill me again, but that time it felt like it was more for dramatic effect. The next day I was told that most of the school knew what happened (small town and a small school of course), and everyone was split on whether or not I deserved it. The day after that, he got me alone in another classroom (seriously, where were all the teachers?!), pinned me up against a wall, and asked to see my arm. He looked at the bruises that were now less swollen but varying shades of blue, black, purple, and yellow, and he looked proud. Finally he said, "I hope the scars on your heart last longer than the bruises on your arm." Then he sauntered off.

It was an awful time for me. I'd never been treated that way in my life. I had already been told that half the school assumed I'd deserved it, and I was scared to make things worse. So I didn't tell any adults at first. The bruising was too much to hide for long, especially since it was still hot and long sleeves would be suspicious in its own way. A teacher saw it first and made me tell them what happened. The incident was never reported officially, possibly because that teacher would have been in trouble for not being in the room when everything happened. Ultimately, I don't know why it wasn't reported. The teacher talked to the ex-boyfriend, and he did back off a little bit after that. He was never really out of my life until I moved away. There were some scary moments, but nothing like what happened that one particular day. The teacher did insist that I tell my parents, but by now I was insistent that nothing be done. Why should anything be done? At that point, I was convinced that I must have done something wrong, and I had no confidence that anyone else would take it seriously. I wasn't sure if it even needed to be taken seriously. After all, what are a few bruises really?

And now. Why does this come back to me now? It was such a long time ago. I wish I had a good answer for why now, but I don't. I do know that it wasn't until two days ago that I finally knew that I had not deserved or earned any of what happened. I guess it took 19 years to realize that I was not responsible for what happened to me. No one deserves to have their life threatened. To be so completely dominated physically that you both know that he is in complete control. To be the violent show for a silent audience. And no one should have hand prints bruised onto their body.

As for our soon-to-be President, I don't know what he's done or not done. I don't know what is bragging, what is miscommunication, and what is true. All I know is that he's brought this topic to the forefront of the news cycle again and again whether he means to or not. And in doing that, I was forced to deal with my own issues. So yes. I'm extra sensitive about the mistreatment of women and children whether it's rape or physical abuse. And no, I don't count a woman's slow resolve to report abuse to be a cause for disbelief. The guy doesn't hit the first time he gets angry. It's a process of convincing her that she's less and making her question herself at every turn. It takes time to overcome that kind of mindset.

This is not a story I've told many people. In fact, I think the only people I've told other than my parents are my husband and my college roommate. It was one of those things that I didn't want to talk about, thought I'd dealt with and moved on from, and was deeply personal. Even now, I've reread this at least 20 times looking for all the ways that I might be blamed. I know this story is incomplete. I've given you a summary of one chapter of a longer story that covers 2 1/2 years.  It became a defining moment in my life whether I wanted it to be or not. It changed me as a person. And now I share it with you in case someone else needs to hear that it's really not their fault.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

On October and marriage

Has anyone else noticed that October generally sucks as a month? No? It's just me then? I called my friend at the beginning of the week in a puddle of self-pity and fatigue, and she had brilliantly already connected the dots for me. October tends to be the month where I crash and burn.  I've already learned that February is the holiday/homeschool hangover month, but I had not yet seen how October tends to be a struggle as well. After looking through my journal writing and blog posts for October over the years, it's clearly a trouble spot in my life.

Is it the hot temperatures and pathetically dull leaves we get for "autumn" here in Charleston when I've had a lifetime of cooler weather and fall colors? Am I bogged down by school? After all, we're well past the excitement and momentum that comes with the beginning of school and decidely in the painful persevering marathon section of the first semester (to be repeated in February). We're too far in to be excited and too far away from the holidays to feel that push to the end.

I don't know if the decline in my cooking and general housekeeping is a cause or result of October's demise, but does it matter all that much? In the end, I've had more soda and coffee in the last 2 months than I'll usually drink all year. I'm convinced the laundry pile is becoming a sentient being based on its ability to reproduce. And I'm pretty sure it growled at me when I tried to put everything away a few days ago. The bathrooms...oh God. The bathrooms. I was supposed to clean them at some point this month. On the bright side, I now know that October and February are spirit animals. I'll remember to watch out for this next year.  At least I won't be caught off guard when the bathrooms don't get cleaned and Moe's welcomes us with embarrassing familiarity.

And that brings me to today. I will be honest (because the bathroom confession wasn't enough), this week has stretched me as a person in ways that I'd prefer to not be stretched at the moment. My husband and I have been doing this marriage thing for nearly 16 years now. We've got our roles down. We generally agree on the important things. We discuss both sides, and we come to a consensus that we're both happy with. We're so mature. Usually. Sometimes we discuss both sides, and we still don't agree. That's where we found ourselves in October (see? October is a terrible month).  After landing on opposite sides of an issue, one of us had to make a decision, and I was less than thrilled with the result. It's not like the decision was a bad decision, but I did not get my way on this one.

Compounding my frustration was an overwhelming need to sleep for daaaayzzzz. Fatigue and frustration are terrible partners, and they were messing with my life. After taking some naps and going to bed early a few nights, I was ready to deal with the heart of the matter. Jon had made a decision that he had the right to make, and I was pushing back too hard after the discussion was done. The negativity was branching out into other parts of my life. Sigh. Bitterness is a terrible way to spend one's life, and I was tenderly watering the little bitter root in my heart.

I've already done the garden of bitterness in my marriage before, and it is not a place I care to be in again. So where did that leave me? Well, it led me to today where I thankfully had the ability to go off by myself for the day so I could have some time to think a complete and uninterrupted thought and prayer. I wrote out the issue. Then I wrote out the ways that I've contributed to our situation because yes, friends. As unbelievable as it may be, I have contributed in our circumstance.  Then I started to write all the ways I can fix the issue before realizing that I can't plan my way out of a heart problem.

Although there are some practical things I can do to help re-position our family, I ultimately have to recognize my role in things. And that role is not to push and pull until I get my way. I can try to passionately persuade to my opinion, but once a decision is reached, I have to honor it. If Jon is really the leader of our family, he gets to lead the way he feels he should, not the way I tell him to. There is frustration in that for me. There's also freedom. This week I was feeling the frustration, but now I'm actively seeking out the freedom.

And now I'm anxiously looking forward to November. The month when the holidays will give us the boost we need to keep moving with school. The month that brings the end to all things ELECTION related. Praise. The. Lord.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Locker room talk (I used the same language used by the Rep nominee, you've been warned)

I apologize immediately for the crude language you're about to read. I'd censor it, but I think people need to be confronted with the reality of what is being said. Besides, if this vocabulary is good enough for the Republican Presidential Nominee, I guess it's appropriate to quote.  Now that I've got my disclaimer out of the way, here we go.

Let me tell you what happened this past Friday. The battery in my van died. After asking a very nice person to jump start my vehicle, I drove to the nearest auto store. If you're a woman, you already know what happened next. It took me a solid 20 minutes to convince the man at the store that I needed a new battery. He was very nice as he condescendingly told me that my battery couldn't be dead. It must be blah blah blah. Twenty Minutes. My kids were in the car, I continued to be friendly and polite as I repeatedly told the man that I did indeed need a new battery, and the reason his little machine wouldn't work was because my battery was that far gone. I almost went to the Golden Ticket Girl response: "My husband told me to get a new battery, so that's what I have to do." But I am so tired of having to pull the husband card every time I have to deal with my car. I couldn't stomach the words this time, so it took twice as long to get a battery for my van. Once he agreed that I actually did need a new battery, we went to look at the inventory on the computer. Just as I mentally prepared myself for the argument over why I didn't need the  most expensive battery for my 10 year van with nearly 200,000 miles, I was relieved to see they were out of the expensive battery. Then we spent another 15 minutes actually doing the transaction because the man didn't know how to use the computer system for a sale. But I'm just a girl that doesn't know a dead battery from a flat tire so what do I know? It's frustrating to be treated as inferior because I'm a woman.

And what news do I have thrust in my face for the past few days whenever I try to keep up with what's going on in our world?  I get to hear over and and over again how Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President of the United States, was recorded making "crude and sexist" remarks; locker room chit chat not meant for women's ears. Then I get to hear how all the Republicans think his remarks are either inappropriate, crude, not a true representation of who Trump is today, etc.

Because I have absolutely no experience of what goes on in a men's locker room, I asked my husband. He's been in the military for over 20 years. Military guys are known for their vulgarity. I asked if he'd ever heard other men talking about grabbing women by their pussy or kissing them without permission because they want to. Is it really common for men to brag about sexual assault? Because that's what this is. This is a man bragging about kissing and grabbing women in their, as he calls them, pussies because he can. According to Trump, the women won't even do anything about it because he's "a star".  And do you know, my husband has never heard those conversations. I'm not talking about the breaking down of a woman's worth by the length of her legs, the size of her tits, or her fuckability. I get that. I know it happens frequently. I'm talking about the cavalier attitude of pushing yourself on a woman without permission. That's NOT what every man does or says.

Not that a woman's desire has anything to do with this man's actions, but let's just cover it anyway. Does any man really think a woman wants a man to just walk up and kiss her because he deems her desirable? That a women enjoys a man grabbing her in her most private and sensitive area because he wants to? Perhaps some people will be surprised to find out that women aren't going about their days secretly hoping some famous man will walk up and grab her in her genitals.

But let's be real. This was never about what any woman wanted. This is about what a man wanted. Trump is a toddler. He sees something he wants so he takes it. He feels entitled to it. Why else would a person feel free to act in that manner and brag about it?  This recording doesn't merely record a man making crude and sexist remarks eleven years ago. This is a recording of a man describing himself physically pushing himself on women because he feels he deserves to do so.

And what I truly don't get is why everyone is making excuses for him. If some man walked up to me, kissed me and grabbed me, every person I know would be horrified for and with me. If some man walked up to my 10 year old daughter and did the same thing, I can't imagine the response. This eleven year old recording and the embarrassingly said "apology" for any offense he might have caused says that it's okay for a man to take what he wants from a woman because he is entitled. She is less. His wants trump hers.

This is the point where some people will say that I'm blowing this out of proportion. And to a man, I would say he should imagine another man walking up to his wife, daughter, or mother, and kissing her and groping her in front of you. Is that okay? If you're a woman, imagine that happens to you. Are you okay with these actions? Or would you feel violated? Because I'd press charges.

Up to now, I could somewhat respect people and their choice to choose Trump over Hillary. But not now. Do not tell me why Trump is better. Do not tell me why a man that has systematically marginalized groups of people throughout his campaign is better than Hillary Clinton. Do not tell me why you think it's okay and better to vote for a person for President of the United States of America that has acted and bragged about such actions. It's NOT OKAY to kiss and grab women without their permission. It's 2016! I shouldn't have to say this! But in the year of rapists getting a slap on the wrist as to avoid hurting their future and the presidential nominee boasting about using his position to get what he wants (and again, we're supposed to trust him with the power of the presidency?), this has to be said. It's not okay. Hear it again. this is not mere locker room talk, and it is not okay.

For the sake of our friendship, if you're going to vote for Trump, don't talk to me about it. If you think what was said and done is okay and normal, then your opinion of men's behavior and a woman's worth is entirely too low.

Finally, I am in no way saying I prefer Clinton as a choice. I find her equally repulsive, although I don't seem to have the viscerally repulsive response for her that Trump can inspire. And really, the Trump people need to start dealing with the reality of a Clinton presidency now.  When the Republican party let a man like Trump get the nominee, you lost the election then. Now we're just going through the motions. The best you can hope for is a Republican Congress to bring some balance.

And now I'm done. I wish I could say that I feel better and expect to reach people, but I don't. After all, I'm just a woman writing out her obviously emotional thoughts. I must be bleeding from my whatever.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Only people that really care about us will want to read this. I don't blame everyone else for skipping.

It's been awhile since I've posted an update. We've been getting back into our school routine which is an adjustment from everyone. It hasn't been the smoothest start, and I hit my wall early this year. I think 4 weeks into the school year is a new record. So here's where our lives are at the moment:

  • Sundays are church and Awana in the evenings for Charlotte and Matthew (Bible memorization program, kids love it, very fun, yada yada). I try hard to avoid using the day to catch up on things I feel behind on. We try to enjoy the day. Usually this means I take a nap because I'm getting OLD.
  • Mondays are my day to do all the things. I do all the laundry. Make sure we have meals for the week, prep for tutoring all day on Tuesday, make sure the kids are ready for their classes on Tuesday. All. The. Things.
  • Tuesdays are our homeschool group day. We're there from 8:30-3:45, and I'm tutoring 7th graders for most of the day. Tuesday are also the designated restaurant night. I can order Marco's pizza from my phone, pick it up on the way home, and be done with dinner prep by 4pm. =) Or it's kids night at Moes. THEN Tuesday nights are American Heritage Girls and Trail Life. We'll get home around 8:30. As you can see, we're practically gone from 8:30am-8:30pm other than a short stint at home where I cuddle up in a blanket and don't talk for at least an hour. 
  • Wednesdays are the day I try to do none of the things. I sleep in. Do not call or text me early in the morning unless you want to be put on my enemy list. We eventually do school. We try to go to the library. Tommy has his youth group in the evenings so I'm on chauffeur duty.
  • Thursdays...I think Thursdays are normal and boring. They must be because Thursdays are coming up blank.
  • Fridays are the day I'm more inclined to blow off school for the pool, park, friends, coffee with friends, or whatever extra field trip might go with our school topics.
  • Saturdays are like the junk drawer of our week. Sometimes we catch up on schoolwork. Or yardwork. Or housework. All the things we didn't get done during the week get thrown into Saturday. Or we have friends over. Go downtown. Go to the fun stuff we've been putting off. Go to movies. Whatever. You get the picture. 

So that's our life at the moment. Jon works on planes. I have become a momager for my kids' activities, educational pursuits, and social life. Oh, and I've seriously cut back on eating out (again). We'll see how long we can keep things going this time. Things are constant and a little exhausting, but I think we have a routine down. At least we're routine-ish. At this point in life, I'm pretty okay with -ish. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Jesus Prayer

School, family, church, and Jesus. Those seem to be my revolving topics. It's basically my life right now so it makes sense. Today I'm thinking about Jesus.

You know how life will be going along beautifully, wonderfully boringly, and then that thing comes out of nowhere and wrecks your life or breaks your heart? Or maybe it's that thing that you've known is there, and although you keep thinking, hoping, wishing, and praying that it will miraculously get better, it only gets worse? Yeah, I hate those things. I hate them for myself when I go through them. I hate them for my friends when they go through them. I hate it for all the pain it brings to so many more people than we imagine. It's not like we live in isolated bubbles after all. When hard things happen to one person, the pain and hurt ripple out to so many others. 

I know that God is not surprised by these things. I know that He sees the end game while at the moment I only see the field smashed up against my face because I'm at the bottom of a pile of metaphorical football players that tackled me to the ground. I know that Jesus won this game already. It doesn't make the tackle hurt less. (On a side note, I can use more than food related figurative language!)

When these things happen, I often find myself in one of two places when trying to pray. I either can't find the words I want to say, or I have entirely too many words. Either one of them makes me frustrated and going in circles. I've found something that really helps focus my thoughts and prayers in these times. It's so simple, foundational, and liturgical that I skipped over it for the longest time. In my little book of Common Prayer, it's called "The Jesus Prayer" and it goes like this:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

It's concise. Simple. Plain. OLD. And yet it is beautiful. It brings me back to where I need to be. Lord Jesus Christ. Son of God. Have mercy on me, a sinner. When I realize I'm talking at Jesus instead of to Jesus, this ancient prayer snaps my attention back to where I need to be. When I don't have the words to pray for a child that is in pain and breaking the heart of every person that loves her, I pray "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on _____, a sinner." When I pray for the parents that have to watch their child walk a difficult path, I pray "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God..."

Sometimes we use long, beautiful, abundant words to shield ourselves from the reality and the feelings that we need to give to God. At least I do. This prayer helps me strip all of that away until I'm coming to God with the pain, the longing, the hope, the anger, and the joy that's tied together into one giant ache in my heart.

If you find yourself in a place where you don't know what to pray or you can't slow your thoughts enough to get a single sentence out, take a breath. Try praying through this prayer a few times. I hope it helps you as much as it helps me in these moments.

Monday, July 11, 2016

How the Dumonts do homeschooling

In case you didn't know, we are homeschoolers. I know, I know. You're shocked. ;)  Homeschoolers are kind of like Baptists. We all carry the same name, but we come in wide variety of flavors. I can't speak for how other people homeschool, but I thought it might be interesting to explain what our homeschool experience looks like to my friends and family. After all, I can't have you thinking we're denim jumper fundamentalists (not that there's anything wrong with that), or that I let the kids run wild all the time. They only run wild some of the time. All of the time would be crazy.

If I were to liken our homeschool experience to ice cream, I think we would be Caramel Praline ice cream. I'd love say we're the Rocky Road kind of homeschooler, but alas, that would be a lie. I say caramel praline because we're very vanilla in many ways. We read books. Lots of books. I like books. We do copy work. We do memorization. It sounds plain and boring. But THEN we make it fun and add songs, games, and go on lots of great field trips. We go on trips when everyone else is in school. It's awesome and a somewhat decadent lifestyle (aka caramel). Then sometimes things go off the rails. Things get pecan-y.

Sorry for getting caught up in the food analogies. I can't help myself. So seriously, what does homeschooling look like for us? Well, in the summer, I do my prep. I read blog posts on school planning and organization. I go to conferences and training. I research curriculum TO DEATH and try to find the best deal on all of the books I'll need for the upcoming year. Shopping includes looking through my own library to see if I already own what I need, visiting used book stores, and posting on local facebook groups to find the books I need from other local homeschool moms. I order online for the things I have to buy new.  I make goals for each child for the year and make a tentative schedule.  I pull out all of the books I'll need or make sure my library has what I need. I make copies and list videos/movies we might use. I get familiar with the books and curriculum I'm using. I don't pre-read everything because I don't have the time or ability to read every book for three grades of kids. Plus that's crazy. The more prep I do, the better our year goes. Usually by the time we get to July, I'm ready to jump into our new school year. Sometimes we actually do start in July. This year, we're starting August 1st.

Once we officially start our year, things get really interesting. This will be my first year really teaching all three kids at the same time. I'll have a 1st grader, 5th grader, and 9th grader. Gulp. We do Classical Conversations so a lot of my schedule for my subjects is already laid out for me. Each week Matthew and Charlotte will learn their memory work. They'll do their history and science topics, their world timeline, and grammar and math facts. They'll read and doing writing assignments. Tommy will be in class one day a week then work on his assignments the rest of the week. 

In many ways, Tommy is the easy one at this point. You'd think he'd be the most difficult since he's in high school, but he can do most of his work on his own at this point. I check up on him, help him when he gets stuck on something, and try to keep him accountable to his work. One of my biggest goals in homeschooling and parenting in general is to get these kids of mine to the point that they don't need me. I taught him how to learn so that he can teach himself anything. And he's a natural student. That helps. =)  This year, he'll be doing physical science, Latin I, Algebra 2, American Lit. Econ/American Gov, and Drama/Music Theory.

Matthew is also easy. We'll read books and do some simple handwriting and math. It won't take long, and it won't be hard. It's not supposed to be hard. It's supposed to be easy and fun for him right now. Charlotte will be the project child this year. She'll be in 5th grade. She's in the middle point where we need to refine some areas. She'll want to rush ahead because she's able to jump forward in many ways, but other subjects will hold her back. In other words, I'll get to be the mean teacher that makes her rewrite the sloppy work until it's neat or practice those math facts again. She'll hate it. I'm already prepared for the battles that will ensue. BUT she'll survive, and she'll have better handwriting and a firm grasp of her math facts. ;)

And that's about it I suppose. If you've ever wondered what homeschooling looks like, this is basically how we do it in our house. Some years have been excellent. Some years have been ugly. I'm hoping for excellent this year. If you have any questions, let me know!.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Summer and a churchy conclusion

It seems to be time for my monthly Dumont update. We are in hardcore summer mode. The kids are having friends over. We're going to the beach. Cookouts, ice cream, and popsicles are happening. Football is wrapping up, but we've been at the park two evenings a week for the last month and a half. VBS is going on this week. Tommy has already done his yearly week with his friend, aka "Bro Week". Charlotte and Matthew have done a kids camp while I went to my CC practicum and training. Official schoolwork ended at least a month ago. In fact, I've been spending my time gathering books and curriculum for this fall and our next school year. I've done a few projects including upcycling an old TV cabinet into a homeschool containment device for board games, curriculum for the upcoming year, and supplies.

I'm already passed the ugly stage of the yearly book reorganization. In case you don't know, this is the time when I take all my school books off their shelves, move my bookcases around, and pull out the books I need for next year while shelving the ones I won't need. It's a big production that takes days. I can't tell you how much Jon loves it when I decide to move bookcases. He acts like the stacks of books all over the floor bother him, but I know he looks forward to this every year.  A couple of other pinterest projects have happened. It's been good if just a smidge on this side of chaos.

Then there's our ever evolving church discussion. After years, years I tell you, I'm done with the subject, and I've come to my conclusion. I've read, searched, vented, and commiserated. I've gone through periods of attending out of a sense of obligation. I've listened to speakers, read blog posts and books. I pulled out my systematic theology book more than once to get some help in where to look in Scripture for prescriptive as opposed to descriptive. And where have I landed? Well, we landed at Journey Church where we started over 5 years ago.  Church theology is one that is more fluid than soteriology for example. Councils and smarter people than I have hammered out the meaning of certain doctrines centuries or even a millennium before me. Doctrine on the church though is still evolving and didn't get councils, discussions, and creeds. So if a church teaches the Gospel of Jesus, and the people live to love others, what more do I need? Every church gets things wrong sometimes because each church is made up of people that get things wrong sometimes. God knows I get enough wrong on a daily basis.

It's been easier for me to extend grace to people that don't follow Christ than those that do. I've known through much of this personal journey that the problem is mostly me. Not that the church doesn't have issues. Of course it does. But I have a lot of issues in my heart, and I can actually do something about those issues.  So I'm letting it go. I am all in with our church. It's our church home. We're committed. When I join the future churchy discussions and people start to dissect every line item of their church that's wrong, I will ask them "Do they love Jesus and teach the Gospel? Are they hurting people or are they hateful? Is your problem really an issue of preference?" If your answers are "Yes, no, and probably," I'm going to shrug my shoulders and tell you there are bigger issues in the world. I'm all for a good discussion, but I've exhausted myself of the constant critique.

By the same token, I know I have some friends with real questions and issues they're working through. Those are things I can get behind and talk about. I also had to go through my own path to get to the place I'm at now.  I couldn't have gotten here if friends weren't willing to listen to me question, argue, and be judgy while offering their own more tempered and gracious responses. So friends that put up with me, thanks for that.

Anyway...summer. I think I've covered it. Until July...