Archive for the ‘ranting’ Category

Boiling Mad

Watched Food Inc. again. I get angrier and angrier every time. You want a real healthcare bill? Rebuild, not change, rebuild the food system in this country = fewer sick, fewer obese, fewer diabetic, fewer medicaid claims, fewer employee absences, lower employer costs, businesses can afford to expand and employ, fewer food industry subsidies–use the $$ to assist individuals and small business with legal fees when sued by Monsanto(how much freaking money do they need?) — criminals receive a free attorney, why not Joe Farmer? No more competing with other countries’ crop prices so Mexico can farm again without U.S. companies advertising in their papers to bring illegal workers to slaughterhouses reducing immigration issues. I could go on. And it’s all McDonald’s fault. (if you’ve seen “Food Inc” you’ll understand)

I’m changing my mind on many things. Sue the hell out of fast food. Not because parents don’t have responsibility but because we have been groomed for 60 years to think its cheaper to eat crap. It worked for tobacco. We all have a personal responsibility for certain. It’d just be much easier if I didn’t have to battle corporate america’s foot on my neck every time I go through a check out line.

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An uneducated look at reform

Insurance Reform–what I think should be covered:

Massage: reduces stress & inflammation, promotes healthy immune system and mental health

Benefit to Insurance companies: reduce doctor visits for simple colds and musculoskeletal issues, mental health providers, prescriptions and OTC medications

Economic benefit: creating more jobs as people needed to provide and teach the art

Manicures and Pedicures: reduces stress, promotes higher self image, creates community among consumers and providers

Insurance benefit: reduction in mental health and rheumatology visits

Economic benefit: creating more jobs for providers and instructors

Smoking cessation clinics or supplies: too many  benefits to mention

Insurance benefit: reduce cancer related costs–tests, treatments, surgery, long-term care

Economic benefit: more $$ in consumer’s hands to spend on durable goods or food (however, the government would lose a TON of $$ in taxes and tobacco growers would therefore not receive government subsidies–have to develop new industry or uses for  tobacco.)

Tax credit for one-time donation of unused medical benefits: I have maternity benefits and well baby care on my insurance. I am not planning any more pregnancies. Can I donate my benefit to an uninsured mom-to-be? Of course I run the risk of being uninsured myself should there be a surprise down the road. Willing to take the risk?

Tax Reform: Reduce your tax burden by quitting smoking and drinking alcohol. In Illinois, combining Federal and State excise taxes, one can expect to pay 50% of the price of a pack of cigarettes to taxes. Source and also here.  Taxes on alcohol a little less sensational (14% on beer, over 16% on alcohol purch in a Chicago club)but you get the idea. And that’s just in Illinois. Then there’s gas. I can’t even figure that out. I may even be calculating the others incorrectly thus the source material. So smoking, drinking and driving will kill ya’ in more ways then one. Plus it’ll make you broke. Interestingly enough though, if you pay all these taxes to the government and run out of money, you can apply to the government for financial aid and they will give you money to spend on more taxes. Kuh-razy.

VA Reform: Combat veterans should receive $1,000,000 tax-free and clear after their service and free healthcare from any provider for life.

Economic Stimulus Reform: Stop giving stimulus money to corporations. Give the money to consumers to pay off their mortgages–or to the mortgage lenders in the name of the borrowers–which will then shore up the lenders and create more income for durable goods–new appliance purchases or home improvement purchases, vacations, education, entertainment which creates demand and jobs in these industries.

“Let me explain…”

Inspired by Jon Acuff’s post #750 “Thinking the church is not wisely spending your tithe” , I thought I’d write a note about one of my peeves: When pastors, church staff, and “poor people” have to explain or justify a purchase or experience because someone might think its extravagant. I was going to ask Jon to write something on it if he hadn’t already then I thought, “Duh, you have your own blog, Joni.” So Jon, if you’re reading this, feel no pressure to express my thoughts.

So, you hear that your pastor, church staffer or a “poor” friend just had an awesome dinner in one of the hottest restaurants in the city and then saw a high priced show. How about a brand new car? House? Vacation? What’s your first thought? Try some of these on for size: “That’s a little extravagant isn’t it?” “I’m sure they could have found a better way to spend that money.” “How much are we paying our pastor again?” “He/She shouldn’t be driving a car like that. He’s obviously not stewarding his/her money well.” And they/you will say “stewarding” because its more spiritual than saying “spending”.

I had a former pastor who took his wife to the Caribbean every other year for vacation while the church struggled to pay its bills. No one knew that another couple gifted a week in their timeshare every other year so the pastor could vacation with his wife and actually relax and reconnect. Another friend  super burdened financially and medically yet they managed to move into a bigger home. Oh, did I mention her parent gifted them the house? Things aren’t always as they appear and there is usually that one bit of information that puts it into perspective.

Do we need to begrudge someone a new car? I’m kind of tired of Christian bumper stickers showing up on beater cars. Would love to see “My boss is a Jewish Carpenter” slapped onto the backside of a BMW or Mercedes. Well, then they’d get in trouble for buying a foreign car. But I digress.

Then there’s this thought. What if there were no logical or spiritual explanation to justify or defend a so-called extravagant expenditure? Gulp. What if they DID spend more then we thought reasonable? What if? How about SO WHAT? Is it really our business? Go deeper. Why don’t we want others to have or experience extravagance? What’s the problem with enjoying another’s good fortune? Is Romans 12:15 all that important?

Mourning Texting Loss

We recently cancelled our  cell phones with unlimited text plan to save $$. The savings is fun, but all day I see things I must communicate to the world but can’t. I know how sad you all are because you’re missing my day to day life! I’ll catch you up:

So yesterday I’m driving to the store.  Two cars in front of me side by side–one in left turn lane, one in regular left lane approaching green traffic light. The car in the regular lane suddenly turns left in front of the car in the left turn lane, missing him by inches.  Yaah! I continue on my way to the store. I’m in the parking lot when all of a sudden, guess who comes racing across the parking lot diagonally across the empty spaces, pulls in front of me into a parking space I was eyeing and barely missing the car that was actually planning to pull  into that space? Yep. That guy. I figured he was either seriously impaired or an enormous jackass.  Given the way he treated his wife in the car and the store, I pick option #2. Needless to say, I’ve never shopped faster to get my stuff and get out the door before he could get back on the road.

Overhearing Maddie and Annaliese trying to figure out how to get a note to our neighbor, Natalie.

Maddie: Well Annaliese, we need to put a stamp on the envelope for the mail man.
Annaliese: But I don’t have a stamp. Mom! Do you have a stamp?
Me: No.
Maddie: Tomorrow’s payday! We can ask mom to get stamps tomorrow!
Annaliese: Or I KNOW! We could just GIVE Natalie the note.
Maddie: Yeah!

What I would have texted at 12:30 a.m. this morning from the ER:

Sitting with my son, the barking seal, in the ER waiting for breathing treatment and watching Animal Planet.

And then at 3 a.m.:

JD received a breathing treatment plus a dose of a steroid. Now we’re home and he declares, “you can go rest mom. I’m going to stay up and watch tv til my voice comes back.”  Um, no.

And then at 6:30 a.m.:

JD is first kid awake and completely dressed(including snow boots) raring to go. Great.

Suffering? Really?

Warning: high horse, soap box, possible self righteousness w/a hint of judgement ahead

Disclaimer: if you and I have talked recently about trials and tribulations, do not assume this is about you; and yes you’re right, I have no idea what you’ve been through–but keep an open mind anyway

I touch on this now and then because I don’t have a handle on it. Doug and I have had financial and vocational disappointments lo’ these past 3 years and therefore lament from time to time on the state of our respective states. Then we watch the news or engage in a friend or family members’ crisis. And we think, “Wow. How did we get so lucky to have those kinds of storms swirl around us without being touched?”

Just heard a phenomenal teaching from the book of James.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4 NIV

Perspective. I used to be better at this–not enjoying my troubles so much as realizing anything difficult I was experiencing was no where near what others were going through. For example, extreme poverty; lack of resources–not money resources but silly things like food, water, and shelter; terminal illness; tragic loss. There is always something to be thankful for in the midst of the poo. For a variety of reasons, I started to believe my own press about my “hardship”. Yes it wasn’t as bad as it could be but still it was a strain. Oh you poor thing, how do you get through the day? And so I followed the downward spiral–woe is me, why is this happening, where is God? And it took this teaching on James, the testimony of my husband’s late Aunt Karen who lived this principle, oh and cataclysmic tragedy in Haiti to snap me the hell out of it.

James 1:1-12 gives me permission to appreciate my circumstance or at least look beyond the here and now. I am allowed to find the silver lining. I am allowed to focus on the positive without someone assuming I am in denial–or rather, worrying someone thinks I am in denial. I am allowed to sympathize with another’s problems yet lovingly encourage them to shift focus.

NOTHING I am going through now compares to the complete devastation of my home, the loss of part or all of my family, no governmental ability to assist, no community ability to assist and isolation from the majority of the world’s nations. http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2010/haiti.quake/

So when I am devastated having to use a tax refund to pay for car repairs instead of pay other bills or get a little ahead, I will be glad to at least have the a) cash, b) car. When I am saddened that I can’t take my children to Disney or even local outings, I will be glad they are healthy and safe. When I am frustrated by what does or doesn’t get paid by insurance or the most recent doctor bill, I will be glad I have the a)ability to receive health care, b) an employer with an insurance plan, c) an employer. When stressed that I have to take children to this and that activity or have busy things to do, I will be glad my kids live in an intact community doing something other than digging through rubble piles looking for their parents and friends. And can we admit that living in U.S. suburbia, we are filthy rich? I know I’ll get blasted for this but even our homeless don’t have to walk miles for well water and wonder if its clean. It may not be socially easy but there are faucets to be found.

If you listened to Scott Hodge’s teaching linked above you will understand this next concept. Aunt Karen went through family upheaval, personal illness, terminal diagnosis, and deterioration of her body before she died December 30th. One month before her death, she told Doug and I that she would be praying for US and the medical issues we were experiencing. She truly was a woman who could say, “well, praise God anyways.”

Sometimes analogies aren’t true

Been reading critics of churches with this or that music/environment, pastors who wear or don’t wear the right clothes, teachers who gesture too much, not enough or oddly. And some of the analogies are silly to me. Like the line from The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.” We keep using these analogies but I don’t think they mean what we think they mean.

“If you were going to a formal dinner or a wedding, you would wear a suit and tie. Why do you(pastor) wear jeans at church?” — Church is not a formal dinner. Its a gathering of different people, in different places on their spiritual journey, with different tastes. If I’m overly concerned about someone’s wardrobe, I’m letting something stand in the way of my hearing a word from God. Pay attention to yourself. You’ll not have to answer for anyone else.

To be fair, I’m also tired of church people saying, “Jesus didn’t wear a suit and tie.” “Jesus wore sandals.” Duh. Pretty sure Armani was hard to find.

“We just don’t want to distract anyone from the message” — We can prepare and offer our best and still God will speak as He deems necessary to each one personally. Sometimes there are things you just have to let go. Obsessing over removing every little  distraction is a distraction in itself.

I’m sure there’s more in my head but I’ve blathered on too long already. Perhaps another time.

That Effen Dog

So I’m online trying to find out how to plan a birthday party at a local park. Bloody murder scream heard from Annaliese in the back yard calling my name. She’s a screamer anyway but this sounded more urgent. I hear barking dogs. Thinking she’s getting mauled, I run to the patio door, open it and run out. As does Champ but the S.O.B. undercuts me at the knees, throws me into the patio door where I proceed to fall on my behind right on the door tracks as well as scrape my achilles heel.

Meanwhile, I’m still thinking Annaliese is getting mauled. Nope. She has a near invisible scratch on her hand from a stick. Right now, writing this is the only thing keeping me from beating my dog with a 2 x 4 for knocking me over and interfering with my daughter’s rescue.

Be advised this is a rant. There are reasonable and logical things to say about everything that transpired in 120 seconds about 5 minutes ago. I don’t care. I’m hurt and my adrenalin is off the charts. I’m still trying to convince my brain that no, Annaliese is not being mauled by the neighbor dogs who sometime jump the fence. My dog is in his crate. The kids are in their rooms.

OK, ready to head into the girls’ room with a calmer, cooler head, and stop the unauthorized glitter makeover.