Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday Night

Well, there's nothing exciting in this spot 20 minutes from Hell. But since I haven't posted all week, I thought I ought to let people know I am still alive and kicking. I am off work from yesterday through late afternoon on Tuesday (almost a vacation). There is, of course, church stuff going on. We have a special guest in to do leadership training today and preach tomorrow (That means I don't have to!!). I went to the Detroit airport to meet her yesterday, then to the church in Flint to do some work, then to her host's home west of Flint, then home -- a rather lengthy trek. Today Ben got up and went to the church with me for the training session -- he actually worked on his sermon and did some shopping -- plus helping to resolve (at least momentarily) a difficult relationship situation that threatened the peace and harmony of the church. Then, once the church stuff was done, we went to the home where our guest is staying for a delicious dinner (the best part was that I didn't have to come home and cook). Tomorrow Ben goes one direction for church and I go the other. And there's probably an aiport run in my Monday --- who knows? Thank God for a car that gets really good gas mileage! Anyway, hoping you all have a wonderful weekend! Hug someone.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sunday Night

Actually, the post title is a lie -it is really now 12:20 something Monday morning, but for me it is still Sunday night. Last night (Saturday) at work was nearly my last night on the job as all kind of crap occurred. First, I discovered that my going in early on Friday (at management request) had screwed up my time and showed a missed shift for Friday -- not fun. I finally got a note to the manager on duty about 10PM and he promised to fix it so that my pay will be correct on Friday -- we shall see. I didn't get my lunch break until I had worked nearly six of a seven hour shift and then I almost had to beg to get it. On top of that, I had a problem at the register I was on and called the appropriate person -- who came over (finally) and talked to me as though I were an idiot (in front of the customer). This is a "kid" (probably about 20) whose rear end is immense (I mean when this girl walks past all I can picture in my mind is "slosh, slosh, slosh"). She does not handle the stress of her job well and takes out her stress level and her physical discomfort (an ass that wide has to hurt to carry on two legs) on the rest of us. It was -- shall I say?? -- nutso! Tonight was a bit better at work and big butt was a bit nicer.

This morning I did the church thing and it went okay I think. The past three Sundays have been kind of a free flow sermon series encouraging the congregation to a sense of ownership and purpose. I preached on "Possess the Land" (It's not enough to arrive and sit down, but we like Israel need to POSSESS it). Last week I preached "Press on" (keep striving forward and don't rest on the accomplishments of the past). Today's message was from Proverbs "Without a vision the people perish" (It dealt with focusing a vision for self and for congregation and in the light of the previous two messages, moving forward to take ownership of that vision and "become" that vision). I was quite pleased with it -- now if only it will encourage some folks to step into the batter's box and take a swing at being church. We shall see. We have two outside guests (denominational powerhouses) coming to visit in the next few weeks and that may build on what I preached. I have four more months on my contract to help them get in shape for a healthy future -- a real challenge.

Now I sit here having arrived home at 11:45PM to a sleeping Ben and a dark house. I kissed him on the forehead and he didn't stir, so I let him sleep. Soon I will join him. I don't go to work until 4PM tomorrow so I pretty much have the whole day to get ready.

That's about all for now from this locale (as Ben puts it -- twenty miles from Hell). Hug someone and get some sleep. That's where I'm headed in a minute.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

International Criminals

Hi all! Ben and I both had the day off so, as usual, we headed out for an adventure. We drove to Detroit and visited the two big casinos (I think between us we played about 3 dollars and lost it all). After watching the people for a while, we realized that we were only a few feet from the international border with Canada. Always being up for something new (Ben had never been to Windsor) we decided to head to Windsor to look around. We battled through a major construction mess to get to the bridge and crossed the Detroit River. When we arrived on the Canadian side, we got the third degree -- where were we from, how did we know each other (we said roommates -- why rock the immigration boat) where we were going, etc. They pulled us aside, searched the car, asked a million more questions and finally admitted us to Canada. We drove around a bit, visited the big casino there, had lunch, and decided to come back to the good old USA. We came back through the tunnel (to avoid some of the construction near the bridge) and got to the customs and immigration lane where we were questioned again and were informed that we were in violation of federal law because we did not carry proof of US citizenship. I remember the days when you didn't even need ID to cross -- ah, times have changed. After scolding us and explaining the law, the agent waved us through and we were back on our home turf. The whole crossing in both directions made me feel as though we were being treated as criminals. As Ben said -- if we had been planning an attack (which neither of us would ever do) we would have had papers in order and been right up the letter of the law -- the perfect crossing tourists. The fact that we were so scatterbrained as to not have proof or even a specific destination in Canada should have been a tipoff that we were on the up and up. I think that today was the last crossing to Canada for either of us for the foreseeable future. I can go to work and be treated better LOL. Anyway, with the exception of the third degree, we had a wonderful day and now are sitting at home enjoying the evening.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Whose Money?

I find that I cannot stomach a lot of TV commercials that are out there today. They tend to employ deception, vanity, sloppy logic and a host of other questionable methods to sell their products. One of the most annoying for me is a company called JG Wentworth. For non-TV watchers, this is a company that will buy out your annuity or structured settlement (I'm sure for a whopping fee) so you can have the money now. The thing that blows my mind is the statement from "clients", "It's my money, I need it now!" My sense tells me that while the money WILL be yours according to the terms of the contract, it is not yet "yours" until the time specified by the annuity or terms of the settlement. Using the logic of this company, my landlord could say a month into a one year lease, "It's my money, give it to me now!" Again, it is not their money nor do they have any claim on it until the time specified in the lease (or possibly when the lease is broken). I structured settlement or annuity is set up the way it is for a reason -- and to demand changing that is likely to leave the recipient wanting in the long term. Why doesn't the company simply advertise their willingness to act on the recipient's behalf as a paid agent to negotiate a buyout of the annity or settlement? That's the true fact -- getting the money now that will be yours later on is gonna cost you -- both in the short term and likely in the long term. Are people so stupid or do the ad people think they are? God, I hope not!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

In my previous post today I mused about the past 60 years of life. In this post, I want to share some of my celebration today. In yesterday's mail I received a card from Ben's parents. What a wonderful gift -- they are so accepting and have welcomed my into the family with open arms. THANK YOU. Ben got me a new piece for my Boyd's Bears collection (this one is a church that lights up -- isn't a church a perfect choice for a couple of preachers?) and a French Press Coffee Maker. My first experience with french press was on our recent trip to Iowa -- it seems so chic and classy (perfect for the quintessential gay couple). He woke me up with a pot of french press coffee and a plate of fruit. He's such a sweetie. I am off work today (which is cause enough for celebration) and tonight Ben is taking me out for dinner to a gay place in Ann Arbor. There's no gay places in this lovely little burg where we live. I expect a birthday card from Mom in today's mail. I don't know what other surprises await me, but so far the day has been great. Hope your day goes as well. Hug someone!

Pause for Reflection

Today is the sixtieth anniversary of the birth of ME! On this celebration of six decades of life, one pauses to reflect on where one has been, where we are, and where we might be headed in the remaining years of life. First, I want to thank my parents and my God for the gift of life. Without that, this post would not be possible. Thanks to my parents for raising this difficult and different child. When I was born, there were some physical and mental issues that prompted doctors to recommend an institutional kind of life, but Mom said, "No way!" By about age three or so, the problems self (or God) corrected and life went on. I can't say that I had a happy childhood -- I was often in some kind of trouble (never serious or criminal in nature, but trouble just the same). My parents did the best they knew how, and as I look back, I know they loved me through it all. I made it through high school, went to college for a year (I wasn't really ready for it), and then got a job. I chose to join the Army (can't imagine why) and soon married my high school sweetheart (or the closest thing to it). On my 21st birthday, I received the greatest possible gift -- the birth of my daughter (Cathy, if you are reading this -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY). The marriage ended in divorce for several reasons including my sexuality. That sexuality led me to new discoveries and in new directions in life. In my late 30s, I finally answered God's call to ministry and have served there since. I have pastored churches, served in leadership roles, and currently am serving in a quarter time interim position. I wonder if I have achieved anything along the way. I have been in a couple of long term relationships, but have never felt as loved and cared for as I have since meeting my beloved Ben. I feel respected, valued, affirmed, and loved. I am working a part time minimum wage job which is a little demeaning in that by this point in life I should be thinking about and planning for retirement. I fear that my retirement years will not be filled with ease and comfort, but I will survive. For the most part, I have my health, though there is the BP issue, weight control (0r out of.......), and the usual aches and pains. From some perspectives, my life hasn't amounted to much. However, using a more spiritual and less tangible yardstick, my life has been filled with irreplacable experiences and blessings. The opportunity to touch lives, to participate in life celebrations, to see my daughter all grown up and a parent in her own right, to have the opportunity to meet my grandson, to see my Mother grow old, to see a host of nieces growing up, doing college, marrying and such, to experience Ben, to just celebrate the gift of life all add up to a mental album of memories that will carry me into the later part of my life. To all those who have touched my life -- family, partners, co-workers, parishoners, blogging friends, and total strangers who I've encountered -- thank you for your roles in making me who I am and for helping to shape the life I celebrate today. If you're still reading, thank you for allowing me to muse. Give someone a hug and celebrate life.