We Have an Announcement

Back home currently has the most snow in the United States. A lot of feet of snow have fallen. Flagstaff, Arizona has a ton of snow right now also. In fact, a friend of mine that lives in Tucson posted a snowy video today too! Needless to say, I miss the snow. Alabama has no snow, but that’s no surprise.
And snow isn’t even the most important thing to me, especially in a place that I want to live.

I moved to Alabama sort of on a whim. I thought I was being called here. I thought my life was going to change and I would be put on a path that would launch me into a career I could only dream about. It’s funny how I’m usually wrong about these things. Because what I thought I was stepping into was not at all what I actually stepped into.

I had not lived here six months when my mother passed. I was reeling from her loss and found comfort in alcohol and watching stupid Netflix shows with someone who was starting to become a very good friend. It wasn’t much later that he was more than a friend and I fell in love with Bobby.
Moving to Alabama changed my life. Losing my mother changed my life. But loving Bobby has changed my life for the better.

Last year, Bobby and I took a road trip across the country because I was homesick. Along the way we stopped in Flagstaff, Arizona to buy some film and get coffee at Dutch Bros. because I discovered they have one there. We had been in the city half an hour when we both decided we wanted to live there. We planned to make the move after I finished my graduate program, and I would just go through the licensing process in Arizona. I had some anxiety about the difficulty of finding someone to supervise me so I could get my license, when I would have no contacts in Arizona, but I figured it would work itself out.
But I’ve been homesick for a long time. Alabama has made me more and more miserable. I thought if I quit my job and made a change that I would be happier, but in December I only felt more depressed. I felt like I couldn’t make it. I just wanted to go home.
So I called my dad. And I called my brother. And they said that Bobby and I could move back to my childhood home for the summer to save money. So we’re leaving Alabama in May and will be in California for three months. I’m ready to go home.
Bobby and I decided that we didn’t want to wait until I finished school, especially when the licensing process in a different state might be challenging. So I’m going to finish my degree in Arizona. We’ll be moving there in August, and I am so excited.

Since I’ve been missing the snow and sick of all the rain here, I figured now would be a good time to announce that we’re leaving. Finally.

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Anymore

I’m not creative anymore.
I’m not really anything anymore.
And my whole life used to be creative.  Everything I stood for was so that I could put more words down and life more people up with them.  But was I ever really that uplifting?
I feel like I don’t know how to make good decisions anymore.  I feel lost.  I feel terrified.  I just want to give up and start again, but life doesn’t work that way.  I feel stuck, but I have to get unstuck, or else I won’t survive.
And I’m not sure what else I can do.

I miss home.  I miss the west.  I want to be anywhere but here.  Because there’s a little bit of grace in starting fresh.  And all I want right now is to start fresh.

My heart has been aching for so long now.  Every step I make to lessen the pain only makes it worse.  Why can’t things go back to the way they used to be?  Why can’t I just go home?  All I want is to go home.  I want to be able to tell my mom how frustrated I am with Alabama and the lack of opportunities and community here.  I want to go home and have my dad make me dinner and help me figure out how to fix all of this.  Because for most of my life I had that ability.  And I didn’t realize how lucky I was.  I didn’t realize how much I took it for granted because I was so depressed and stuck in my own head.  But now I’m depressed and I have nowhere to go.  And I can’t go home anymore.

Times They Are a Changin’

I almost never blog anymore, but I always blog in airports, and that’s where I am right now.

Yesterday would have been my mother’s 64th birthday.  It’s been two years since she passed.  She’ll never meet my boyfriend.  She’ll never see me finish my masters or have a real job.  She’ll never visit me in Alabama or Arizona or anywhere else I might end up living.   And my life keeps going on.  I keep moving forward.  Everyday I’m distanced from what she knew me to be.  And I’m hoping that I’m who she would have wanted me to be.

We’re flying to California because my dad is getting married on Saturday.  He’s moving to Southern California.  My brother moved back to our childhood home to keep the house.  Everything’s different, and I’m not even around to notice it.

People keep asking me how I feel about these changes.  My biggest concern is that my dad is happy, so obviously I’m fine with it.  And honestly, being across the country, I don’t even notice the changes.  My life is still the same.  I go the same job.  I have the same friends.  The only difference is that I’m in school, so I have class and homework.

So yeah.  I’m happy.  Or relatively.  Blending my family is not the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

I’ll try to have more thoughts next time.

Out in Publix

Since moving to the south, I’ve had to change the way I shop for groceries.  I miss Vons a lot, but I’ve been here long enough, so I guess that I’ve adjusted for the most part.  I go to Walmart way more than I did when I lived in California.  A place where I’ve learned to get the most of my groceries here is Publix.

The thing about Publix is, it’s pretty southern.  They take care of their employees, and almost everyone I’ve seen working there is in a good mood.  They go out of their way to talk to you, which is pretty much my nightmare.  I prefer to shop uninterrupted, unless I actually have a question.  And I know that it’s a customer service thing, bothering the customers.  I work in customer service, I get it.  But it’s a lot harder for me to address someone I don’t know.  I hate when strangers talk to me without a purpose.  I’m not good at conversation.  It spikes my anxiety.

But the biggest thing that Publix insists on that I hate is helping me to my car.  I grew up having the grocery store checker asking if I needed help out.  I don’t like strangers seeing my car, and I’m fairly independent, so I’ve never needed help out.  But at Publix, you don’t really get a choice.  One time I had only one bag in my hand and they guy tried to take it from me.  It almost gives me stalker vibes.  I know it’s their job, it just feels very intrusive to me.  It happens less when I take my boyfriend shopping with me, but if we have a cart, someone definitely is going to help us out to our car.  I’m sure there are lots of people who really appreciate this Publix standard, but I hate it.  And if it wasn’t the best grocery store in the area I would just go somewhere else.

This is just one instance where I need to learn to say “no.”  Still working on my effort to avoid small talk at all costs.

Last Time I Checked

Last time I checked, everyone in this country is entitled to their own opinion.  But it seems that if you have too many conservative people on your “friends” list, having an opinion is immediately offensive and should be shot down.  Which is why I don’t often share my opinion anywhere outside of this blog and the people that I talk to face to face.  I’m not great at arguing.  I don’t like to argue.  But I know what I stand for.  I know what I believe in.

I believe in a loving God that cares more about who I am than who we are than who we are attracted to.  He cares more about his pursuit of us and our pursuit of him than our individual “mistakes” or how conservative or liberal we are.  He is a forgiving God.  He is a relentless God.  And he cherishes every moment we spend with him.

I was listening to the BadChristian Podcast, and they were talking about Christians and abortion, now versus the early 70s and before.  Before abortion became a political issue for Christians, it seems like the Church cared a lot more about the individual women.  A single young woman would find herself pregnant with a child she was not ready for (because that’s what I believe abortion comes down to, essentially) and she would see abortion as the only option.  Maybe because her family would disown her.  Maybe because she knew she didn’t have enough money to raise a child.  Or maybe because, even if she adopted the child out, she couldn’t afford to keep working her job while pregnant.  So the Church would help these women.  Maybe help them find families for adoption, or maybe give them sanctuary from a family that will no longer accept them.  Or maybe help them with a job or with money so they can take the needed time off of work.  But then Republicans wanted to find a way to get the Christian vote, so they made abortion a political issue.  And it’s almost as if the women ceased to matter, only the babies that may or may not be killed.  Even though (I haven’t researched this, only got it from the podcast) the abortion rate hasn’t really gone up since Roe vs. Waide, it’s just become safer.
And none of this is to say that I’m pro abortion.  But I am about as pro choice as I am pro life.

So, I live in Alabama, and I decided, for the first time ever, to vote.  I voted for Doug Jones, even though he’s okay with late term abortions.  Because I don’t think that this belief that he holds is going to affect any laws, because he is one man, and this is a democracy, and most other people are going to vote agains late term abortions, if they ever vote on it anyway.  Roy Moore has a lot of allegations against him about sexual harassment, especially against teenagers when he was in his thirties.  I’m not comfortable with him being in our senate, thus, I couldn’t vote for him.  People are getting upset at me because these allegations aren’t 100% proven.  Because a woman’s word obviously isn’t important enough.  These women didn’t know each other.  It’s not like they had some plan to make him look bad so he wouldn’t get elected.  And whether they’re all true or not, the chance that they could be true is enough for me.  I wouldn’t want to work for someone that women had said harassed them.  I wouldn’t want someone like that as my leader.  I know what harassment is like, not to the extent of these women, but still.  We already willingly elected a man like this to be our president.  We already have several in our senate.  I just didn’t want one more.

Women are not meat or property, they are equal.  People with a darker skin tone are not worth less or property, they are equal.  People of a different sexual orientation are not dirty or sick or tainted, they are equal.  It doesn’t make sense to me why anyone would believe any less.  All humans were created equal.  I can’t be convinced to vote for someone who obviously believes otherwise.  And I’m not going to apologize for that.

Why hate Mary?

I walked out of my apartment the other day and the air smelled like weed.  I first thought it was my Dukes of Hazard neighbors, but there’s a possibility it was just post rain smell.  For some reason they smell similar to me in the South.  But this, mixed with a few other conversations as of late, got me thinking.

Smoking pot is completely illegal in Alabama.  It’s not just a slap on the wrist like it used to be in California.  And you can’t use it medically or get a medical card.  Like I said, it’s completely illegal.
The Bible says to follow the laws of the land and pray for those in leadership, so from a Christian stand point, if you want to obey the Bible, you shouldn’t smoke pot if you live in Alabama.

But what about the states where it has been legalized such as Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and California?
See, the Bible doesn’t say anything specifically about smoking anything, or really anything about drugs at all.  Yes, in Titus it talks about being sober minded, but that also applies to drinking, and a lot of Christians drink.
I personally believe that anything can become sinful if it excessive.  I like to say, “anything in excess.”  So if you’re in a state where it is legalized, go for it, or don’t, just don’t let it take over your life.

So why do so many Christians freak out about it, even in those legal states?  Is this something they didn’t think they were going to be confronted with?  Seriously, I’m asking.  Well, maybe don’t answer me though.
Someone close to me was rumored to have been smoking pot.  Which, whether that was true or wasn’t true isn’t the issue (it wasn’t true and most likely will never be true).  But someone was telling people to stay away from this person close to me because they smoked pot.  And that just doesn’t seem to be a good enough reason.  That’s like telling people to stay away from me because I drink wine.  Sure, if you have an issue drinking and expect me to offer you wine, maybe let me know, and if you really think it’s an issue, stay away from me.
If someone had a problem with marijuana or was trying to stay away from it, I could see why they might let this person close to me know why they might want to spend less time together.  But the thing is, the rumor wasn’t true.  So the person close to me called me laughing, because they thought the whole thing was funny, or at least pretended to.  But I’m not okay with gossip or slander.  Especially from Christians.  Especially from Christians who are supposed to be in high standing and have influence.
Why do we feel the need to talk about people?  Even when we don’t know the facts?  Ugh, it’s just so frustrating, and I’m across the country and can’t protect my people.

But really, this shouldn’t be an issue at all.  Because in California marijuana is legalized.  It’s fully legal now, but has been medically legal for quite some time.  So Christians freaking out about it doesn’t make sense to me.  I’m not saying whether you yourself should smoke it not, this isn’t about that.  It’s about the thoughts and the fears behind it.

I’m not saying that Christians should or shouldn’t advocate for Mary Jane.  That’s not what I’m doing.  It’s not even legal where I currently reside.  But stop being afraid.  Stop spreading rumors and shunning people because you heard they might have smoked pot.  It should not matter.

Why don’t we love each other anymore?  This is why it’s so hard for me to trust.

When an Invitation Becomes a Sale

One thing that I’ve really learned over the past few years is that my relationship with God is a personal one.  And I really believe it should be that way for everyone.  Your relationship shouldn’t be pinned to what church you go to.
I live in the South now, which means that I live in the Bible belt.  There are literally churches everywhere.  And that’s fine.  But every single church here believes that you should attend that church.  It creates a competition.  That competition between churches is one that exists everywhere, but I notice it the most here because the volume is so much higher.  Most Christians believe that everyone should go to church.  The problem is that churches want you to go to their church.  Don’t go to someone else’s church, come to my church.  There’s a sign outside the church near my apartment that says, “Need home improvements?  Bring your family to church.”    

My boyfriend and I visited a different church today.  It’s a fairly new campus here (as far as I understand).  But he attended this same church when he was in college in Tuscaloosa, so he’s been wanting to visit it here, since he enjoyed the church so much before he moved back to Florence.
There wasn’t anything wrong with the church, and I actually enjoyed the sermon.  It was a type that I missed, because it was just theological enough for me to follow.  It was the first time I’ve been in a church with a bulletin for a while.  But this church is huge.  There’s campuses with multiple services all over Alabama.  So they have money.  It’s practically a mega church, and the sermon was live streamed from the main campus, which is not my thing.
They kept talking about how next week is Easter, and Easter is the perfect opportunity to invite someone to church, which technically is true.  Unchurched people are most likely to visit church on Christmas and Easter.  Those are the two times a year that people go to church.  But every time they talked about inviting people, it was like a pitch.  It was like they were selling something.

I personally don’t want to sell anyone on whatever church I go to.  I don’t even really want to sell someone my savior.  Yes, this is a consumer society, but faith isn’t something that should be bought.  It’s not something that should be pitched.  It should be personal.  Yes, salvation is something that I believe we all need, but telling someone that seems so impersonal.
I’d rather be introduced to a loving God in the same way that I’d introduce someone to my best friend, my dad, or my boyfriend.

I was afraid to talk about visiting a new church today, because it feels like people get so offended when you don’t go to their church, or if you even miss a week.  I didn’t visit a new church to offend anyone, or even because I’m unhappy where I am.  It’s not because of the worship or the sermon or anything else.  Church services, to me, seem to be a way to teach someone about God.  But I know about God.  I paid to study the Bible for four years.  Then I spent another year paying to focus on my relationship with God and his Spirit.  I don’t want to be taught.  I don’t want to be bored.  I want a family.
I have a family where I am.  They’re there when I need them.  But we’ve become a bit estranged, because I got used to a certain routine, and that routine was then disrupted.  I got used to the community that came from life groups that happened once a week.  It was something that gave me life.  One of my favorite things is doing life with other people.  Community is something that I have craved for a long time, and every time I seem to grasp it, it’s almost like it pulls away from me.  But I’m not going to blame anyone else, because I easily get too tired to chase a community that changes with the flow of the river.
“Life groups” are starting again, but not in the way that I’m craving.  They want to read a Bill Johnson book together.  I just don’t feel like going to a book club.  I don’t want to read another Jesus book that’s going to bore me.  Which is okay.  It’s okay that other people find life in an environment that drains me.  We are all different, which is something that I recognize and do my best to celebrate.  I believe that everyone who goes to these new life groups is going to get something out of it.  I’m just not sure that I would.

One of my favorite classes that I took in college was Teaching Small Groups.  Yes, that sounds boring.  The point of the class was to learn how to teach small groups.  But the class was so small, we actually got to be a small group.  We actually got to do life together as we learned.  That’s the kind of community that I’m craving.
So no, I’m not switching churches.  That’s not what this is about.  I’m not even trying to bash churches, like I have done so often.  I just don’t want to be told to sell my church.  I’m a terrible salesman, and I’m not even usually sold on church.  I don’t even always want to go to church, but that’s where my friends are.  I want to be sold your small group.  I want to buy your community.  So pitch it to me.  And I’ll invite you into mine, when I find one.

You can invite me.  And maybe I’ll invite you.  I just wish it was more about community and growing in relationship with God, than about selling all of the great programs and resources your church can provide.

And who knows, maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe I’m just too darn cynical.