Sunday, May 19, 2013

Turning 60: A BIG Change!

As we age, we begin to question some of the reasons for doing the things we have done for a long time. We are definitely on the downside of the slope, and it matters what we do with the time we have left. This could be discussed in a number of subjects, but for today, we'll discuss one thing.

Why does a person “change churches?”

First of all, church and faith are not synonymous. Different churches, or even churches within a denomination express faith in different ways.

For instance, one of the first things that comes to mind is the liturgy of the church. The rituals, the calendar, the things that identify that church within the Christian faith—and for today’s discussion we are talking about the Christian faith—although this would probably be true for other faiths as well.

Another thing that comes to mind is the organization or structure of the church or denomination. One might agree or disagree with the way “things are done” within that organization.

Doctrine is another. While I firmly believe there are some doctrines that are non-negotiable within the Christian faith; others are truly of men. When I think of Calvin and Arminius splitting over the issue of eternal security, for example; neither can positively be proven, and after study and prayer, one can lean one direction or the other, and still be completely in fellowship with another believer—even a spouse, parent or sibling! Another example is end-times theology. This is not enough to break fellowship over. None of us REALLY knows!

Social and political involvement might be another. Again, of men (and women, of course!), where decisions are made to support opinions and ministries that one might not agree with.

So, therefore, I do not take lightly making a big change in my life at this time, and uniting with Kirkmont Presbyterian Church.

I was raised in the United Presbyterian Church. Reader, do not underestimate the doctrine with which you were raised. The UPC was reformed (Calvinist) in theology and conservative in action. “Presbyterian” is a form of government, not a denomination. In 1958 it joined with the more liberal Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. I was five years old.

Many changes were made within the ranks of churches which used the term "Presbyterian" in the 60's and 70's. This blog is not intended to be a history lesson of that. Change never comes quickly, and I don’t know exactly how the change evolved in the daily life and the pastors of the churches I grew up in. I went to church with my parents, as most of us do. They made the final call on that. But again, I listened. The learning is there.

We attended a church in New Carlisle while we lived in Medway. Upon moving to Fairborn, we changed our membership accordingly. The simple truth is that both of those congregations might have operated differently on a level that I, as a child, was not aware of and did not understand. I confirmed my baptism in 1968 and was married in the same church in 1977.

Time marched on, and after I was married, I felt that the liberalism of my church was moving in a direction that I, in good conscience, could not follow. I began attending an Arminian church that was very close to where we lived. There were wonderful Christian people there who loved me and I loved them back. Once I realized the difference in our beliefs (there was no “new members” class to explain this to me so it took about three years); had I not been planning to raise a family, I could have agreed to disagree. But I knew that I would raise children, and one day the question would come, “Why is it you don’t agree with……, and we still go to that church?” Kids ask questions like that.

So, it was at that time I began attending, with good friends, a Southern Baptist Church. Doctrinally, they believe as the old UPC does. They send out missionaries differently and of course, they baptize upon profession of faith, not as infants. I did not feel either of these subjects determined fellowship. They preached the same Jesus, the same Bible and were of Calvinist descent.

I attended there for 11 years, had two children dedicated there, and then changed to a General Association of Regular Baptists Church when my kids were four and nine. There were activities at this church that were not available to them at the SBC, and as a mom, I put this first. This is the church they were “raised” in. The only doctrinal differences were in the process sending of missionaries. To be honest, I saw that issue both ways and still do. It is not enough to make a difference to me. My daughter was married in this church but my son never joined it, and I never pushed it. That had to be his decision.

In 2006, with my son’s leading, we sensed a lack of unity within that church, and together we decided to look for something else. I resigned positions of leadership, completed projects, and in the summer of that year, we began looking around. We attended one church for three months that never contacted us (even after I asked to be repeatedly). It was contemporary, and I knew my son liked it; but I eventually pulled the parent card on this one. They were not interested in US!

We went to another church (GARB) for nine months; I loved it, but upon the decision to move and build in Fairborn, we felt it was ridiculous to go there. We attended a church in Fairborn that both of us liked, but when my son started working in college, he would be working EVERY Sunday, and if I was going to be alone, I might as well go back to something I was comfortable with, and I ended up back at the Southern Baptist Church. I knew people there and slid right in.

I have spent five and a half years there and love many people there; but something was gnawing at me. Two years ago, I read that Kirkmont Presbyterian, and three other “area” (using the term loosely) had left the PC (USA). I followed this with interest. As churches, they were finally, taking a stand, which I took 32 years prior. At the time, it made no sense to leave a perfectly good church five minutes away, to attend one 20 minutes away. I was teaching an adult ladies’ Sunday school class and singing in the choir.

So why would I do such a thing? What was the process in all of this? What was the thinking?

Over the next eighteen months, I watched and read as Kirkmont went through their own process; that of voting to leave a denomination and see what the next step was. After prayer, they determined that they would join with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in America. During this time, good friends began attending this church and I visited with them.

After 34 years, I felt that I had “come home.”

I knew no one. But I knew the beliefs, and was exploring the methods, and could see the love that the people had for each other (when visiting a church, anywhere, on vacation or whatever, watch how the people treat one another. No fabulous preacher can make up for that). It just felt right.

But we don’t make decisions based on feelings. I got on their weekly newsletter email and checked the web site out thoroughly. I was still very involved at the SBC church, although I was becoming increasingly frustrated with the same old curriculum, the same music week in and week out, no challenges for me as a musician personally, and the same method of preaching week in and week out. Oh yes, the topics changed, and the preacher is really VERY good, and it’s all Bible-based, which I would never choose otherwise, but the format never changed.

Frankly, after five years, I was bored.

I still love these people, I am in fellowship with them spiritually and doctrinally, but I needed new challenges, mentally and musically, for me.

So guess what? I am driving a little way; at least as long as I am able. I return to my Presbyterian (Reformed) roots, finally.

Please, dear reader, let’s not categorize words like “Presbyterian,” “Baptist,” “Charismatic,” or “Methodist” without taking a closer look. There are many types of Presbyterians; the word means “form of government.” There are many types of Baptists; and they believe vastly different things, agreeing on the type of baptism (immersion). Their form of government is different. (I could write a blog on forms of governments in churches, but it would just bore you) The word Charismatic could mean a very great many things; the one thing is that “charis” means “gift” and they all believe in spiritual gifts, although expressed in different ways.

We tend to categorize denominations in the human tense; as in what they mean in today’s vernacular. This can be a very large mistake, and we will come away with wrong information. We must be careful.

So, after much prayer and consideration, I have decided to move my membership to Kirkmont. I still have many people to meet, and I did meet some fabulous women at the Ladies Retreat, and will likely end up in choir, but I am comfortable there and enjoy the worship with those who believe as I do.

After all, it’s about worship!

P.S. I also applied for a secretarial job in this church about a year ago. I didn't get it. Both issues are completely separate.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

My Fitness Journey: Another Injury!

Things were going so well. I wasn't really losing weight, but I was gaining strength and endurance. I made up my mind that I was going to walk the memorial 5K for my son-in-law’s uncle this summer. Even Grandma and Grandpa do this! It’s a big family reunion and includes in-laws of in-laws; raising funds for scholarships for the local school system, and specifically the Cross Country program.

Since I have managed to move beyond the plantar fasciitis and have my new orthotics and shoes, I went back on the treadmill. I was doing well. Then one day, there was an interesting show on the TV and I wanted to watch it to its completion.

I must have overdone it. I heard no funny noises. No “event.” But after I got home, after walking 2.5 miles, I took a shower, and sat down. The pain on the inside of my knee was bad. I didn't know how bad.

The correct answer involves RICE, rest, ice, compression and elevation. Well, I had two doctor’s appointments, for other things, and needed to stop at Meijer in Springfield on the way home. By the time I got home, the knee was really painful!

After not sleeping well that night, I called the orthopedic surgeon. They could see me in 10 days. It is safe to say that I have been more polite on other occasions. That was 8:00 AM. By 8:15 I called my primary care nurse practitioner and was in her office at 8:30, to the ex ray department after, the drug store for a “brace” and at work by 10:30.

That was a Friday and of course she wouldn't see the results until Monday. There was no decision to be made as to whether I would go to the gym or not. There was no thought of that. I wish I could say that I did nothing all weekend. We had our Senior Center Volunteer Dinner that Friday night—a command performance—and then went to the Fairborn City Schools Hall of Honor, to honor my classmate who was being inducted. I did not hang around long.

Saturday I went to a church ladies retreat, driving up and back the same day, and it didn’t involve too much walking, so I did that. By Sunday though, I had had enough “church” and I sat—all day!

The good news on Monday is that it’s “just” arthritis. Moderate. Now, another ex ray showed I have SEVERE arthritis in my right thumb and that’s another matter; but would never keep me from my exercise routine.

This was two weeks ago and I am still in pain. A lot of pain. It’s hard to “heal” when you walk all the time. I miss my boot camp buddies, but I am not going to take the chance of further injury.

So I decide what I will do and won’t do. First off, I was in the middle of having a garage sale. I had help, but I worked slowly and got the job done. After the garage sale and clean up, I did go back to the gym and rode the recumbent bike, and worked out my arms, shoulders and upper half. I also can do crunches and Lord knows, my abdomen needs focus, so that I will do.

I will continue to do what I can do, and focus on eating less and eating the right foods. This is not a broken foot, but a broken foot has a “time frame” for healing, and to be honest, this scares me. Am I stuck with this pain? I don’t know. I am not quitting though!

I will see the orthopedic surgeon next week. It will have been four weeks since the initial situation. It's time to find out what we're looking at here. Meanwhile, I signed on for another year at the Fitness Club. More on that later!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Mother's Day to My "Other Moms"

Last year, I wrote a blog entry for Father’s Day about my “other Dads,” the men in my life who have been “almost” as close as a Dad to me; at any rate, they were important to me as I grew up, or was grown up, as in the case of my Father-in-Law. I took a look at that entry this week, and I could almost right a companion piece for Mother’s Day, with just a slight different slant.

I have already written about my Mom, and I will try not to repeat that here; you can click here, and see all the influences that she has had in my life. I've known her a little longer than I did my Dad, and we've had time to weather challenges and situations that I can only imagine had my Dad lived beyond the age of 47. Mom and I enjoy some of the same things, but more likely we are introducing the other to something different. Our tastes in reading and music might be different, but we both love to read and listen to, play and sing music. And yes, we are both hooked on Downton Abbey!

Mom’s not afraid of anything new. I got her on Facebook and I am working on getting her on Pinterest. She’s retired—she can do some of these time-suckers if she wants to! At the age of 79 she moved from Florida to Ohio, and at the age of 81, she moved again, into her own apartment. Moves are exhausting, and without a doubt, she did it slower than she might have in 1978, when leaving the family home and buying a condominium. But the key is she DID it!
My first “other mom” was my mother’s sister. Although there is another name on her birth certificate, to me she was “Aunt Petie.” It occurs to me that I did not include her husband, my Uncle Bob in my “other Dads.” This is a huge oversight! Both Petie AND Bob were like second parents to me. My three cousins were like siblings to me. I knew at a VERY young age that they were my legal guardians, AND I knew exactly what that meant! No child wants to think about losing their parents; but there was something comforting about knowing exactly how my life would go on.

Petie and I were the first-borns in our family and it was always joked that I should have been her daughter!  We thought alike, we had similar interests, and it was like she read my mind. I knew Petie’s kitchen like I knew our kitchen at home, and actually I knew every other part of her house too!  One funny story I tell about my dishes; is that I bought them when I had my first “real paying” job in 1999. I loved this pattern; they had been my mother’s dishes and reminded me of “home.” Come to find out, they had not been my mother’s dishes, they had been Petie’s dishes, but the sentiment was there. These dishes reminded me of what home was supposed to be, and it was Petie and Bob’s home.

I spent summer “vacations” at their home. One of our enduring jokes is that Petie spanked me and it scarred me for life. I had cut my cousin’s bangs. For years I thought it was because I messed up her hair, but I was spanked for using the scissors (“You could poke someone’s eye out!”) and scaring everyone half to death.

An early “vacation” was when I was shipped off to their home when brother Benny was born in 1955. They lived in Washington Court House, Ohio, and they moved from that house to Fort Wayne, Indiana when I was three. As an adult, Petie and I were talking about that house in Washington C.H., and I picked up a napkin and (sort of) drew out the house plan as I remembered it. She was amazed! With the exception of the closets, I had remembered that house perfectly.

When Petie and Bob moved from Fort Wayne to Columbus, Ohio; I went along to look at the house they were buying. I guess I was the fourth child or something, but anyway I got to see what they had picked out along with their children.

At our wedding, John & Shirley Schroer,
me and Jerry, and Petie & Bob Callison
Ben, Loren and I were always “their” kids, but this was more important when I moved to Columbus in 1974. I had an apartment, but their home was “base.” It was Bob who helped me get my brakes fixed less than two weeks after moving to a new city. It was Petie who found me a doctor when I was ill. Both of them were “on it” when my Dad had his heart attack at the age of 45. The three of us were on our way to Springfield within the hour. It was Petie who made five of my six bridesmaids’ dresses! Both of them served as host and hostess at my wedding reception (see picture)

Petie was instrumental, along with my mother, grandmother and other aunts, in teaching me what hospitality really means. That blog is dealt with further here. I do want to make mention that it was not just the women in my life that taught me these lessons. My Dad and my Uncle Bob, as well as my Uncle Jeff, are and were VERY "welcoming" men!

Even though Petie died too young in 1989 at the age of 63, they had been married 43 years and they showed me how to live, love and be faithful. I had 12 years of married life before she passed, and we talked about many things. Her influence can never be underestimated. I miss her to this day. My uncle married a wonderful woman, who I dearly love, and they have been married 22 years; but she wisely doesn't even try to replace my aunt. I love her, I respect her, I am grateful to her for (probably) extending the life of my uncle to 89 next month, but she’s not an “other mom.” She's a dear friend.
My mother-in-law came from such a different background as a farmer’s wife, and it took time and (my) maturity to appreciate her. We had a good relationship despite differences, because we loved the same people, and most importantly, we shared the same faith. My mother-in-law sent me a magazine subscription which was the first Bible study I ever had. It had a great deal to do with me coming to terms with what I actually believed. I will be eternally grateful for that.

We had 25 good years before she began to slip into the dementia of Alzheimer’s disease.  I include my courting years in that, as the year we celebrated our Silver Anniversary, she and my father-in-law moved to a skilled nursing facility. Our relationship had changed by then, although we continued to visit. The last time I saw her was less than two months before her death in December of 2004. I remember watching her son feed her yogurt.  She was two months shy of 85 when she died.
When I read the other blog, it is not lost on me the influence of the wives of the other men that I mentioned as “other Dads.” In putting this together, I realize that it would be more aptly titled “other parents,” but this is Mother’s Day. Betty was the mother of my best friend.  I spent many a meal around their table, and had many a discussion with her about the things of interest to me as I came of age. Their home was a safe place for me. I never had to be invited. Shirley knew me from junior high, and while she and her husband were close friends of my parents, which meant church events, camping trips and other events where all six of us kids were thrown into one place, it was Shirley who influenced my choice of a major in college.

Most people don’t know, or even remember, that Shirley moved back to Fairborn upon her husband’s retirement from the USAF in 1976, but he had a house to sell in Virginia, and she had obtained the first job here. So I rented an apartment and moved all my stuff in there (except for my clothes and personal things) and she lived there for what turned out to be three plus months. This is not a casual relationship, where you let a person live with your stuff. We thought nothing of it!
Aunt Petie died in 1989 when I was 36, Bea Derge died in 2004 when I was 51, and Betty and Shirley are still alive today. I walk to Shirley’s in the summer time and she’s in the book club at the Senior Center, so I see her there. I need to get together with Betty soon!

I am so grateful for all my “other mothers” and their influence on my life. There are others; I could probably write a short book on the influence of women on my life. Maybe someday, but not today.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Upon Learning Hospitality

Originally, this post was a "note" on Facebook. It is a precursor to the blog on Hospitality that I wrote here.

I firmly believe hospitality is something everyone should practice; and my blog deals with the difference between true hospitality and entertaining. I admit I have done both, but hospitality is where real life begins. Hospitality is sharing. Entertaining seeks to impress.

Hospitality is something that is mostly "caught" but also "taught." I think I am in the former group, but I recognize the second. I came from a home where people dropped in all the time. My mother and my aunts used to say that they "kept house casually" which I think was true. If someone dropped by, we didn't scurry about cleaning up the house. Our relationships and our homes were AS IS.

My Mom and my Dad were welcoming people. People felt they could drop by and most meals were of the type that could be shared if that were the case. (I don't really cook like that anymore, but there is always "pantry surprise." )

I remember one situation--a man who was in a very bad place in his marriage at the time. He would stop in our home about 4:00, while we were getting ready for dinner; and play our piano. Then he went home. We were treated to wonderful music and he unwinded after the day's work and transitioned into what was next for the evening. As a teen I WAS aware of this. I knew our family was providing him a kind of hospitality that isn't in the "how-to" books!

Another noteworthy situation, and I can name names as the entire family is my friends on Facebook, "Bud" Wilt was our former neighbor in Medway; he had taken another job which moved his family away (boohoo many times!) but his parents were still in Medway and he traveled on his job. He would spend the evening with Grandma and Grandpa Wilt--and yes, we did call them that--put them to bed, and then call my folks at 11:00 PM. If the phone rang at that hour, we all knew who it was; and he came over and only God knows how long they all stayed up and talked. I went to bed!

Grandma would be appalled that I
was sharing this, because her hair is
not fixed; but it's about the smile!
As I hinted, this type of hospitality was practiced by my Grandmother (Netts) and her daughters--my mother, my Aunt Petie and Aunt Jo Elin. Gma had all the family reunions at her house. She also "entertained" her husband's co-workers at the Springfield Sun newspaper every Christmas, even after he died at the young age of 61. My FB friend Al Barth who is in his 80's remembers those parties that took place when he was a young man. But the funniest thing I remember about going to Gma's is that we would show up and she didn't want to cook, so she handed my Dad $10 (yes, ten dollars) to go to "the Colonel" and get dinner! It fed us all and she had leftovers! But she didn't have to fix a big meal to practice hospitality. The Colonel served just fine!

I also remember going to Gma's in college when I had to write a paper. There was too much going on at our house with my two younger brothers; so I would spend the weekend with Gma. She never bothered me and I wrote my papers at the dining room table. Of course I had to take breaks; and they were some of the best times we ever had. Cost: zero. Memories: priceless.

My Mom, Aunt Petie and Aunt Jo at my bridal shower.
Now I can tell lots of stories about my Aunt Petie. We cousins all used to spend "vacations" with each other in the summer. (OK, so we now know what that was all about!) I cut my cousin's hair, and Petie spanked me. I thought I had done a horrible thing and was devastated to receive a spanking from her; and she was just worried I would poke someone's eye out. She wasn't mad at ME, just concerned about her daughter. Robin would have gotten it if it had been vice versa! I was Petie's 4th child and we all said I should have been born to her, we were so much alike. Once Robin and I were at the community pool and something happened to her and she couldn't run home as fast as I could; I was crying my eyes out and here Petie was making all over me instead of being concerned about her own kid (I wasn't articulating well!). Robin may weigh in on this, I do remember it involved stitches.

Petie never stressed about company! We all just pitched in and did what needed to be done. Her sons had a saying called FHB which meant "family hold back" and it was used as a code if guests showed up; we all took less food, and as I recall many of the boys' friends showed up regularly! We still use that acronym today. FHB. We all know what it means.

I learned to relax from her. I am probably a better housekeeper; but I still wanted the sense of welcome in my home that was in her home. 

Now my Aunt Jo is only 9 years older than I am, so that relationship is somewhere between aunt and sister. But after she married and set up housekeeping, I knew where everything was in her kitchen and could do whatever I wanted there. (It goes without saying that I knew my Gma's and Peties's kitchens too!) When the babies came, they were my babies too. Jo and Jeff moved to Toledo and then Minneapolis and I went to each place many times. Jo (and Jeff) taught me how to cook. Their home was my home. Their present home is the same way. The only difference is I don't cook so much there; they remodeled the kitchen and I am still lost. But 18 years ago, Robin (my cousin) and I fixed a rehearsal dinner in that kitchen! Happy Anniversary, Leslie!

All these influences contribute to who I am today. They are "caught" but also "taught." The greatest joy I have is to see that it's being "caught" by the next generation, as they sharing with their friends and relatives! You go girls: Lori, Leslie, Shonda, Chrissy, Katie, Kimmie, Jessie, Lindsey, Tiffany and Tracy!