Wednesday, April 19, 2017

God *is* in the details

Some people would say that what I'm about to write about is nothing more than "luck."  I don't subscribe to that; I give credit where credit is due:  GOD.

HERE      I wrote about the saga of the $1788 job to repair a coil on my AC unit.  Now, for the update:

I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, as a friend recommended.  It took a week because the owner was out of the country, but I did hear from him.  He sent a second repairman, one of his best, for a second opinion.  Low and behold---The first guy was WRONG, so he had them order the wrong part!  For the five year-old unit, the compressor had blown for the second time.  This time they theorize it was due to my fins being bent after my brother pressure washed my house two years ago.  (Lesson learned:  Do it MYSELF, and I shall!).  So, because I've been so "patient," the owner is knocking the normal $1400 one man job to $900.  Whether $1400 is actually what it normally costs, I don't know and don't care.  The bottom line is I am getting it for half the original quote, AND I don't have to dip into savings to do it!  

While I was on the phone, the owner asked me if I would notify the BBB that the situation was resolved.  Not so fast...I was nice, but I told him I would not until the issue is truly resolved.  I will, however, let them know that pending the completion of the job, I am satisfied it is progressing in that direction.  

So, thank you Beverly, for suggesting I contact the BBB.   As I did so, I knew God would take care of things, and He did!

Monday, April 10, 2017


I was/am a single parent.  I left my ex in December of 1998 after fleeing the house to a neighbor's and calling the police.  I didn't realize he had left red marks on my neck until the cops came that night.  They carted him off to jail, and I mobilized, calling my dad, who in turn called my brother and nephew and his wife.  We packed the house until 2am if I recall.  The next morning I appeared at the jail to see if they could keep him away from the house since he was getting out on a PR bond.  They gave us until noon; we pulled out the last load a few minutes before that, and my son and I moved in with my parents and rented a storage unit for virtually everything else.  The judge had said, "Don't take anything that belongs to him."  So, it was.  I did leave him some dishes and the living room furniture.  Oh, and when he got to the house, he called me and asked, "Where's my f---ing money?  You took my f--ing money!)  (He did side jobs he never told me about to fuel his beer and tobacoo.)  Yes, my niece-in-law found $200  as we were packing.

We lived with my parents for nearly 3 years.  During that time, I took on my first part-time job as a Partylite candle consultant, going into homes for home parties.  When I worked it, I did very well, but my introversion held me back.  Over the years, I began teaching after school, co-ordinating after school with my BFF, teaching summer school, and teaching extended learning when we were a year-round school system.  If it meant extra money, I did it.  See, my ex never paid child support save one six month period about 6 or 7 years ago when his wages were garnished.  I found out years ago that since I was not on welfare, the state would not go after him.  (Thanks, cheap Governor Mark Sanford, for not adding SC to the National Child Support Network.)

I was and am not afraid of work, though I prefer using my mind to do it.  Over the years my parents helped us some, but primarily it was left to me.  Many times I felt overwhelmed, drowning even.  There were many times when I used the credit cards to pay bills and repair bills.   Through it all, I had one whom I could always count on to pull me through:  God.  He always provided our needs.  

Today I felt overwhelmed with a repair bill whereby I know the company has inflated its labor charges to cover the part on my AC unit being under warranty.  $1788 for 4 hours of labor?  Really?  When I told the repairman that, all he could do was flash a sly smile and shrug; he doesn't make the charges.

So, I will get through this just as I have every other challenge that comes with being a single parent of a household.  I look at our two lives--mine and my ex's.  I survived cancer even after the tumor perforated the colon.  I am looking at retirement in 51 days, and I have 3 part-time jobs to supplement that (online mentoring, tutoring--which are separate jobs--and petsitting for one couple)   He, on the other hand, has prostate cancer, was homeless nearly two years ago (and who knows how many other times?), is on disability due to his back, and is an alcoholic.  He has been in pain since before I knew him (his back).  What do I have that he doesn't?  Jesus.  Jesus has been with me every step of the way.  Because of that, I may be downtrodden, but I am not defeated.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Pseudo Christianity Will Lead to "I Never Knew You"

Matthew 7:21-23English Standard Version (ESV)

I Never Knew You

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
As Jesus says here, there are many who *think* they are going to heaven---they may go to church or think of themselves as *godly* people; they may bow their heads and say their daily prayer---but truly, their actions and speech, particularly their speech, contradict their assertions.  They are nasty people who have nothing even remotely resembling Jesus in them.   This is only a few verses of what the Bible says about the tongue:

Matthew 12:36-37 - But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.   (Read More...)

James 1:26 - If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion [is] vain.

James 3:6 - And the tongue [is] a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
Finally, "out of the mouth, the heart speaks."  Yes, what is in our hearts is what comes forth from our mouths.  When virtually everything that springs forth is degrading others, how can there be any Christ in the person? Ecclesiastes 10:13 tells us that "Pride is the beginning of sin..."  Pride is a hideous sin for it will separate the person from God forever.  Picture someone who is unable to admit any wrongdoing or apologize because of his/her pride.  That is a miserable person (at the core) who aims to make everyone else miserable as well.  What is that person's fate?

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Some are given a pass

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven-- 2A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. 3A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. (Ecclesiastes)

When given a cancer diagnosis, why are some people spared and others die? For that matter, any sickness.Here I wrote about getting my cancer diagnosis and the morning of the surgery *knowing* I would be fine.  My dad is in the middle of immunotherapy for cancer in a lymph node.  We are optimistic, but of course, we won't know the outcome until after his treatments and he has another pet scan.  

A childhood friend I'm friends with on FB reported a few months ago that her father-in-love has cancer.  I have been praying for him.  Sadly, yesterday she reported there is nothing more that can be done, and hospice has been called in.  

Two years ago my mother was sent home under hospice to die from congestive heart failure.  To shorten the story, by December of 2015 she had decided to get up from that hospital bed, and with the help of two physical therapists, she is now walking with a walker and getting her hair done each Friday.  My parents go where they want around town, as long as someone drives them.

Two weeks ago a friend was hospitalized with pneumonia and pleurisy.  He nearly died, but God spared him, and he is now home with a long road of recovery. 

Why?  Why did I and my mother get a pass, and seemingly my father and my friend, but my other friend's father-in-law didn't?  We have lived  in a fallen world since the event in the garden.  Yes, God is the great healer and could heal anyone at any time, but His ways are not our ways.  There are some things we will never understand on this earth.  Could it be as simple as "It's not our time"?  Yes, it could.  The moral is take every day as though it were your last and appreciate it for what it is.  None of us know how much time we have; Dad is 89, mother is 84, I was 44 when diagnosed, my friend is 59, and my friend's father-in-law is around 70.  Some of us get a pass, but others don't.  

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

You think no one is watching

At the beginning of last school year, I positioned myself near the Lower Academy car rider entrance to shepherd the students to the cafeteria in the morning so their teachers could get ready to receive them.  I did the same this year.  For the last two weeks or so,  I have taken an interest in a kindergartner who is a "challenge."  Let's leave it at that.  I had noticed him running, yes, running, down the hall.  I would stop him and make him start over a ways back so he could practice walking correctly.  When I saw him walk down normally by himself, I took him to his classroom and bragged on him to his teachers.  Well, that's no big deal, right?

Wrong!  At least to him.  He came in Monday morning, stopped, opened his book bag and said, "I have something for you."

Wow!  Talk about being blown away!  I asked him if he had this at home or if someone gave it to him.  He replied that he had it at home.  I imagine him looking around his room or house for something he thought would be appropriate.  Kinda reminded me of the widow's mite in the Bible.

It's hard....really hard some days....teaching in a public really doesn't matter which one; they ALL have their various challenges.  Heck, private school is no picnic either (I will blog about that helacious year another time.)

Anyway, I try to think "What would Jesus Do?" in most circumstances.  I fail miserably most days, but I guess I got it right with this little fella.  For those who have asked, no, I don't teach him.  He's just a random child in the hall---random to me, but not to Jesus.  Jesus knows him well, and I suppose I filled some void in this child's life.

"Jesus--the Rogue"---Someone asked me today what "rogue" means.  I know that word well; it is someone who goes against the establishment or the established order (my definition).  Of course, Jesus *was* a rogue because he upset the order of the pharisees.  I see myself as a rogue, too.  Not at work, though; I'm too *silver* for that. ( But outside work.

Yes, I am wearing it.

Friday, March 17, 2017

"The World is Too Much With Us"

"The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not--Great God!  I'd rather be
A pagan sucked in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn."
               William Wordsworth

The English Romantic poet William Wordsworth wrote this in 1802, yet it is so apropos in our consumer-fueled society.  "Getting and spending"?  Really?  In 1802???  This sounds like our world, one in which people are hurried, harried, and spending beyond their means.  Too many "must" have the current "toy" (boat, jet ski, smart tv, etc...), and they are working themselves into a frenzy to keep up with their neighbors, materially speaking.   

"Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away"

Everywhere I look in my town, there is construction.  Woods are being decimated, habitats destroyed----all in the name of "progress."   Oh, how I hate it!  We don't need another Waffle House or car wash on my little island; yet, fight "progress" we can not.

One day, I hope to leave all of this.  I long for the simple life---a piece of land and a small cabin.  I won't require much for just me and my cats.  I also want chickens and a garden.  I have been ridding my life of "stuff" for the last year, and that is first on my priority list when I retire this summer.  Simplification will be my word.

I suppose it is true that things you learn as a child sleep in the deep recesses of your mind, waiting for something to awaken the memory and cause it to bubble to the surface.  I was working on a project inspired by my Grandmother Pearl, and this poem's title kept resonating through my mind.  I am sure I read it either in Betty Linder's senior English class, or it was in a British Lit. class in college.  As I thought of Grandmother, worked on my project, and heard the annoying "boomdaboomdaboomboomboom" assaulting my ears, I longed for the simpler time Wordsworth was searching for in 1802.  May it come to pass for me.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

What is the value of a life?

If you are not an animal lover, you may want to skip this post.

This is Miles James.  I adopted him from a former church family almost 15 years ago, right after I moved here.  They had a baby boy they named Miles, and they were worried how this Miles would react to the baby.  Such silliness, but I am so glad I took him "sight unseen."  He is an ordinary looking cat:  white, gray, and some black.  He was always aloof until he became the only cat I had left back in February of 2009.  Right after I had to have my then-20 year-old cat Baby put down, I adopted two new girls together.  Then, Miles decided he wanted to be a sweetheart.

Well, this sweetheart is now 20 and nearing the end of his time, though no one knows how long he has left.  I took him in to the vet last week because I noticed he was drinking a lot of water.  Blood work indicated kidney failure.  Many people would have had him put down.  Why would I do that when his life still has value?  Next to the two youngest cats, he is the MOST active.  He will bully any of the others out of their food, he still climbs, and he loves me.  He is not in any pain.  Why would I put him down now??  I have always known with the others when it was their time.  I have the money to put him on a special renal wet food and to give him fluids every day.  I want to enjoy him for as long as I can.  All my cats become my little furry four-legged children----and every one of them has value to me.  They enrich my life more than I could ever explain.  Few will understand, and that's ok by me.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Will the Real God Please Stand Up?

I am Ginger, and I’m a recovering evangelical.  I spent many years in a church that portrayed God/Jesus as “bad cop/good cop” because God was this stern overseer with a whip who would beat me/condemn me if I sinned, and then I had to run to Jesus for forgiveness.  Then, the cycle would continue.  God was very much the fire and brimstone type.  I am reminded of “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” that I read in the esteemed Janis Blocker’s American literature class in 1979-80.  I was always made to feel as though I were never “good enough.”  That was my take away from that church.  

I still hold scars that may never heal, as does my son.

A few months ago I was at a gathering where most of the people were from “that church.”  Someone asked if I still went there.  I replied that I did not, and I proceeded to tell them about my mother having been in hospice and how I go every Sunday to cook for my parents and do for them.
What followed was dead silence.  It was probably a full minute before anyone said anything and changed the subject.  No one asked how my parents were---nothing.

Condemnation and judgment, the feelings transmitted to me, picked the scabs off my old wounds. 
If you are still with me, you may be asking where I am going with this.  This weekend I traveled to The Shack with Mack and had my beliefs about God confirmed.  I should clarify:  my beliefs I have transitioned to.   I wept at both the confirmations and convictions.  My point here is not to divulge the plot, but rather to process my take-aways from the book.  If you want to read the book, you may want to skip the rest of this.

1.      1.   “It is not the nature of love to force a relationship, but it is the nature of love
      to open the way.”

God gives man free will. We are not puppets for Him to manipulate to His will.  We often
get angry with Him when bad things happen to us or those we love.  But, it pains Him
 as much as it does us.  He will “work all things for good for those who love Him and
are called for His purpose.”

2.     2.  Responsibilities and expectations are the basis of guilt and shame and judgment,
and they provide performance as the basis for identity and value.”

God has no expectations of us to behave a certain way; after all, He knows us best.
He loves us unconditionally.  So often, churches put a premium on our performance
being tied to our value in God’s eyes.  I have always felt that I was never “good enough”
A lot of that stems from familial ties as well as my former church.   I have to retrain my thinking.

3.    3.   “Judging requires that you think yourself superior over the one you judge.”

Let that sink in.  This is where the floodgates opened up for me.  How any times have
I judged these “careless” drivers in this town? (I *do* suffer from road rage at the idiocy. I know I have to work on that.). How many times have I judged a homeless person to be lazy, dirty, etc...?    I have been a hypocrite.
4.      4.   “Every time you forgive, the universe changes, every time you reach out and touch a
heart or a life, the world changes.

This last quote confirms what I have been trying to do for the last 4 or 5 years.  So,
after all the tears, I sort of feel redeemed here.  Like maybe I’m ok after all, especially
in this current hate-filled climate of our country.

God created us for relationships ---with Him and others---and Love---always Love.
I am a work in progress, better than I was yesterday, but not perfect.  I have work to do, and I know in which areas.  That is another thing this book illuminated for me.  I will need the help of the Holy Spirit for one, just like Mack did in the book.

Man created religious dogmas, rules, and creeds.  Man and his institutions judge us when we “fail.”

The early Church was not this way.  It was plain folks meeting in each other’s homes,
breaking bread together, as in The Shack.  I had that once upon a time with a group of people.  That is where I learned to cook for so many.  But, I digress.

So, for those who would question if I am in Church or when I might return, this is my

         My parents and P. are my current concerns/missions.  I do not need a prescribed day/time/dogma to worship.  I worship through *doing* for those who need it.  I attempt to be the hands and feet of Jesus, whether it is baking salted caramel cupcakes from scratch to see the glee on youngsters’ faces, or whether it is to bring a hot meal to a shut-in, or whether it is to cook my parents one home-cooked meal a week and chauffeur them to Walmart at 7am on Sunday morning.  My local community is enough of a mission field for me, for now.  And, I talk to God daily, all day.  And, you know what?  He listens, and He answers.  Sometimes, *He* seeks *me* out for assignments.  Talk about a stunner!   He has revealed things to me about others in my daily life so I can pray for them……There is no other way I could have known these things about them if it were not for Him!  This is what He cares about, not what church or pew I am in or not in on Sunday morning.  It’s what I do daily.

Yes, I have a lot of work to do on myself, but there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 

So, if you are still with me, read The Shack.  If you are seeking a closer walk with God, it will impact your life.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Like a Phoenix

I died about 21 years ago.


I sacrificed myself on the altar of education.

In roughly 3 full months---94 days---I will resurrect myself.  My bff has a tattoo of a phoenix on her ankle.  She got it after a particularly difficult time in her life.  I will be like that phoenix, and I, too, will rise from the ashes.

I am getting weary of people telling me I'm too young to retire---or better yet, I'm "lucky."

I am neither.

About 4 years ago, I was headed into a meeting when a colleague literally brusquely brushed against my shoulder in the cafeteria---and dropped with a stroke.  He had a couple of more in the hospital and died about a week later.  Rick Cavaluzzi is my model for retirement.  Rumor has it he was contemplating retiring that summer.  I am not sure how old he was, but he was in his 50s.  I said at the funeral home that I would not end up like him.

Why would someone say I'm too young anyway??  Is the expectation that I'll work until I'm 65 or 70 or beyond?  Why?  Life truly is *short,* so I aim to have a rebirth--a second life--while I'm healthy enough to enjoy it.  I will not be a Rick Cavaluzzi.

Then, there are those who claim I'm "lucky."  They truly are speaking without thinking.  There is no luck to it.  I will have worked 28 years in public education in SC, and when I signed up, that was the magic number to retire.  I have earned that right.

Then, there was someone last year who told me maybe I shouldn't retire.  I really resented that coming from someone who stopped doing what he hated years ago.  For many years, he has been doing as he pleases.  I got over the resentment, though, because I realized he wasn't thinking when he said that. 

So, exactly *what* will I do?  I have plenty planned.  As I stated earlier, I sacrificed my life on the altar of education.  I am one of the rare people who goes at something full throttle, and then I can't unwind.  Even if I came home and had no school work to do, I could never unwind; I still can't, even at this stage.  My bff says it may take me a year to truly "let it go."  I believe her.

I gave up so much to teach.  I gave up *me* and all the things I loved.  There are many more blog posts to come, but for starters--- I want to get back to my handwork:

I used to love to cross-stitch and crochet.  I even took knitting lessons and made some sweaters, but I never loved that like I did crocheting.  I was not dexterous enough to work both needles at once.  If you look at the dates on some of these pictures, they were done about 1989--one year into teaching.....and they stopped.  By the time I moved to my current town in 2001, I gave all my supplies to the school's art teacher.

Above you see the bedspread on the trunk in my closet.  It fits a full size bed.  When I was 12 before she died, my sister-in-law taught me how to make the granny square, and this is my prized creation from way back in my teenage years.  I want to revisit this.  Some colleagues knit prayer shawls and give them away.  I could do that with crochet.

Then, there's reading.  In my youth I could read a book a night.  Since teaching, I have been lucky to have read 15 books that were for *my* pleasure, not work-related.  One thing on my list to read is the Koran.  I have it on my Kindle Fire.  I want to *know* what is in it and be able to intelligently discuss it should the occasion arise.

So, I will be like that phoenix; I *will* rise from the ashes and be reborn.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

On A Mission Against Ignorance

I write this post very cognizant of the fact I may "offend" people; so be it.  I guess if I offend you, you are among the category of "ignorant, uninformed, gullible," or any other moniker you want to put on it.

I have spent my adult years---close to 29 of them now--on fighting ignorance.  I am a public school teacher (I did spend one year in private school hell, but that's for a later post.).  An English teacher, to be precise.  I'll cut to the chase; when the internet came out (Remember, Al Gore "invented" it.), a CARDINAL rule we learned is "Do not believe everything you read on the internet."  That was in direct opposition to the argument, "But, I read it on the internet, so it must be true."  The older I get, and the closer I get to retirement, the less patience I have for ignorant people.  Let me be clear what I define as ignorant; it is a person who should have the brains to be discerning, but chooses to be easily led by right wing or left wing propaganda because it "suits" their political views to be dumb.  There, that's it;  It substantiates their political views.

In my years as an English teacher, especially since the internet, I have tried to steer students to REPUTABLE websites to get their information.  I have also tried to get them to substantiate what they've read by visiting several websites.  Thus, when I see adults, some of whom have college degrees, posting/commenting on OBVIOUSLY propaganda sites as though they are the gospel (and for some of these folks, they are!) because  it supports  their narrow-minded, bigoted, brainwashed opinions, I shake my head and truly think, "What  'would' Jesus think?"  I really do believe the 90s wrist band, "WWJD" was twenty-something years before its time; it is more appropriate NOW in this hate-filled culture led by The Crusades-minded evangelicals who would use propaganda to fuel their hatred for anyone who is not a christian. 

When I read this, 

I knew we were in trouble.  "Head of church"?  Really?  So, what is next?

This past week in one of my classes we read a nonfiction text on Eleanor Roosevelt as First Lady.  One of my students' tasks was to formulate questions as we read it.  In response to the Japanese-American internment camps during WWII, my Japanese-American girl asked, "Why did they put JA in those camps when they couldn't control what the Japanese government did?" (The point was she tried to get FDR to close them, but ever the politician, he wouldn't until he won his fourth term.)

WOW!  Out of the mouths of babes!  How stupid we are when we don't learn from the past.  How far away are we from repeating this heinous practice?  The only question is, "Will it be against Muslims or Latinos?"  And, The Crusades-loving Christians will be leading the charge.