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Impossible Christianity

In my posts I talk from the perspective of an ex Seventh-Day Adventist because that is my past experience and where I come from, however these posts are not about “why you should not be a Seventh-Day Adventist,” rather I am hoping that my words challenge anybody who is struggling with their Christian walk.  Perhaps you are comfortable where you are in your relationship with God, and that’s between you and God and I’m happy for you if you are happy where you are.  I’m mostly talking to those who are more like me, seeking the greatest truth so we can have the best relationship with God.

I am only one voice and by no means do I want to be the only voice.  Christianity is meant to be a social experience, based around our relationship with one another, our care and support of each other.  It was never meant to be a personal experience, or why would Jesus bother sharing anything with his disciples and then commission them to continue to baptise and teach?  How would any of it make sense?  My deepest craving is to find other Christians who share my view and want to share their views with me as well!  Let Jesus and the Holy Spirit lead us in our walk together.

The title of this blog post is Impossible Christianity.  As I write this, I am hearing a sermon on YouTube by an Adventist pastor.  The topic is “The Abomination of Desolation.”  To be completely honest, I have not been listening to the message since about 12 minutes in and now I am at the 30 minute mark out of 1 hour and 17 minutes of this particular pastor’s talk.  You see, I was struck by something and it has inspired me to come here and write this post.

The format of this sermon I’m hearing is typical of the Adventist sermons I’ve heard for most of my life.  It begins by picking out a specific Bible verse out of context and stating that they will explore this prophecy, then cross-referencing this with other similar verses elsewhere in the Bible, also taken out of context, and spending a LOT of time bringing it all together to try and bring the congregation to the same conclusion.  To their credit, the congregation is very active in the discussion, if you can call repeating back verses and saying “Amen” at the right moments while the pastor leads them to his conclusion ‘active discussion’.

How did this bother me when I was still part of the church?  Well, I used to go to church each week hoping that the pastor would talk to us about how we could apply the Bible to our week, to our every day life.  I wanted to know how to be a better Christian.  Instead, I would hear these kinds of sermons, the ones that look at the Bible and point out why we need to bring more people into the church.  If we can only get people through the door, they will see the Truth we have, and the church leadership can bring them to salvation!  At least, that’s what it sounded like to me.  Or alternatively, the sermon might cover how we have to be strong and faithful and guard ourselves from the sin of the world.  The imagery is that the world is drowning around us and we are the rescuers and Jesus is our lifeboat, but because we are on Jesus we are in a better place and why can’t the world see that and join us?

But Christianity isn’t ever supposed to be so complicated.  Christianity doesn’t hinge upon how well you can understand a prophecy.  It isn’t based on how well you can understand a sermon.  Why are these sermons so intellectually complicated?  Where is the practical Christianity?  Practical Christianity is not something that you can learn from a preacher speaking from a stage.  Practical Christianity is being with other Christians who have Christ at the centre of their lives and BEING Christian.  Love as a verb, modeled in practical ways, by caring for others around us and affecting the culture of the world by revealing our light in our every day actions.  As a Christian we need to do NOTHING more to be saved.  Once we accept Christ, we become baptised into God’s family by one of God’s own, and we are SAVED!  We are not in a lifeboat in a better place than others in the world around us, we are still treading water right next to the others who are drowning but we have come back up out of the water wearing lifejackets.

It’s at this point that I feel that Christianity becomes Impossible for many.  It seems to me that once you are baptised, you start being a Christian but you stop being human!  Suddenly you feel the pressure to seem more holy, more perfect, more saved than the next guy.  Why?  Why can’t we just be the beautiful, wonderful, creatively unique, flawed, failing and flailing humans we were before, only SAVED by the grace of Jesus Christ?  We can become so obsessed with ‘seeming’ like Jesus is in our lives, that we forget how to live in the meantime.  We can mentally separate ourselves from the plebeians and try to get them to join us not because we are joyfully saved and want them to experience the same joy and freedom, but because we consider ourselves elite.

Don’t be caught up in the “complications” of Christianity.  All you need to be Christian is Christ.  He can embrace you in his perfection so you don’t have to be perfect.  He doesn’t lift you up to judge others and be better than others, he only calls you to be YOU.  He first loved YOU, just as you are, right now, and his love won’t stop if you don’t change as long as you let him into your life.  Christianity isn’t complicated.  Accept Christ, find others who have Christ in the centre of their lives, and just BE together.  The Holy Spirit will guide you to the opportunities to share Jesus with others, and you will be loved, and saved.

Why We Don’t Tithe

I have recently been influenced strongly by a book called Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna.  I haven’t yet had the privilege to read the follow-up book called Reimagining Church but it’s definitely high on my list.  When I first left the (Seventh-Day Adventist) church, I learned to open up my mind to a lot of different ideas in a way that I grew up thinking was bad, lest evil influences overtake me, or somesuch.  I much prefer to think that God gave me a decent head on my shoulders, and I trust my gift of Discernment and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  I’d like to say that I recommend to all Christians to read Pagan Christianity, but if you’re not in the right place in your spiritual journey then it could do more harm than good.  If I had read a book like that as I was 15 years ago, I’m sure I would have had my hackles up refuting every word and probably from that formed an unhealthy and biased opinion.

The thing is, this book (or at least an online PDF version of it) contained the answer to a prayer my husband and I made at the beginning of February 2014, asking for wisdom on the topic of tithing.  Pagan Christianity challenges tithing as biblical, but obselete.  Once upon a time I would have heartily disagreed, but a few months ago I dropped what was hopefully the last of my legalistic shackles and embraced the New Testament teaching that Jesus’ coming, death and resurrection heralded in a new covenant.  This shift in thinking was a long time coming and very recent so I can still understand the recalcitrance to let go of something as falsely comforting as the Law.  However, Pagan Christianity challenges that the tithing system actually belonged to this old Jewish covenant as well and therefore, at least to a believer of the New Covenant, no longer applies.

When we joined the church we now attend my husband and I did our best to tithe as we’d been taught to faithfully do.  When you have $70 left after the regular expenses and your tithe is around $65 on a gross amount, it’s a challenge to let go of that money ‘on faith’ that God would look after us throughout the week.  God certainly did look after us, by the way.  Food would arrive on our doorstep from a caring family member or friend just as we were sitting at home despairing about how we would eat…

Yikes, back up a bit there!  Yes, we were despairing, having given up 65 perfectly good dollars which would have solved our food problem without having to rely on others and probably paid off quite a bit towards debt as well.  In January/February I held back tithe for three weeks while I sought God about it, and in that time the case manager of our government business fund application even expressed concerns that we were tithing such a high amount while on the government benefit, and rightly so!

In the end, I said to my husband, “can we please stop paying tithe until we’ve at least paid off our debts?”  He fully believed in the promised blessing of tithing too, and would often talk about how tithing was supposed to be done on increase, so I argued, “we’re tithing on debt, not increase!”  So he agreed, but only if we prayed about it, and pray and fast we did.  The answer, in the form of a small section from the book Pagan Christianity, came a few weeks later than I hoped but I praise God it came at the right time when I asked for it.  Only a matter of months ago I might not have been able to let go of the idea that tithing was part of the old, obselete covenant.  When I accepted this, however, I felt yet another layer of legalism lift from me.

Acceptance that the tithe is not a requirement to being a good Christian has meant that I could “not tithe” and be free of any guilt or condemnation.  God has blessed us with enough room to take on a paying house-guest who is helping us with our debt issues.  Not tithing has allowed us to take care of our own food needs each week, my stress level regarding finances has dropped dramatically, and we are finally making steady progress tackling interest-charging debt.  Sure, the “blessings” in surprise food packages has dried up, but surely that’s because those same blessings are rightfully going to much more deserving people!

When our debts are paid off and our business is profiting, we will give thanks offerings to the Lord but in what form that will take we don’t yet know and our thankfulness will probably spill to over 10% of that which we no longer need to merely survive, however we’re done with institutionalised tithing.

The freedom from tithing is pretty incredible for us. If you are in a similar debt-laden, low-income situation to us and you feel uncomfortable with the idea, take some time to examine why that is.  Are you trapped by tradition more than you realise?  Does God really want you to be so distressed while handing over your tithe?  When giving to God it should be a joyful giving from a true blessing of overabundance and not an act that causes us to destitute ourselves weekly.  Do we pray, “God, bless me with an umbrella” only to step out into the rain unprotected?

Aside

My Personal Testimony

I’ve been wanting to share my personal testimony for a long time now but haven’t known where to begin, but it’s become clear to me, with some urging from my husband, that the best way to begin is just to start writing and let God speak to the people who read it.  Over time I can refine my testimony as my understanding of what was important increases but to begin at all is more important than getting it right the first time.

My Spiritual Roots
It makes sense to start by talking about my spiritual roots and where I began on my journey.  My immediate family and most of my extended family are Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA).  SDAs place a lot of emphasis on how there is freedom in following The Ten Commandments.  Sinning means you are stepping away from God, and Jesus is a personal Saviour whose grace has saved us.  The SDAs believe they are the remnant church, and they claim the prophetess Ellen G White as one of their founding members and often quote her writings from the pulpit.

I started my schooling in the public school system but by the time I was 8 years old I was going to the semi-private SDA school in my city.  At the age of 9 I befriended the daughter of an SDA pastor who became my best friend throughout High School.  Her name was Leesa and she fascinated me in many ways.  One of the things she did, or rather didn’t do, that I found fascinating was that she never swore.  In place of the common swear word vernacular of the day she would say things like “you rude little raspberries!”  The worst I ever heard come from her mouth was to say, “Evolution is CRAP!”  Every year on her birthday she would bring lollies (candies) as gifts for everyone in the school, both teachers and students, and she wouldn’t expect anyone to give her anything in return.  During song services she would throw herself into the exuberance of the praise or worship.  She really was fascinating, and I wished I had the courage to be more outgoing like she was.

I was baptised into the Seventh-Day Adventist church at the age of 12 at the same time as Leesa and her younger sister.  Her pastor father was the one who baptised the three of us.  I remember at the time people asking me if I was certain, that maybe I should wait until I was a little older and really understood what I was getting into.  Even today, I know that I was baptised at the right time, with that time being the moment I personally chose to follow God of my own accord.  Part of being baptised into the Seventh-Day Adventist church is having to agree to the “Baptismal Vows” which, looking back on now, I don’t believe I could even begin to agree with as a whole today.  At the time, I wanted to be baptised more than I wanted to agree to vow #13 which declares the Adventist church to be “the remnant church of Bible prophecy,” a belief whose origins still confuse me and something I have never felt convinced of.

The rest of my teenage years I sought God with all my heart.  I did my best to lean into Jesus during all my difficult times.  I read the Bible and “studied” the Word of God as best I knew how.  I questioned the world around me and mourned its sinful nature, and I looked forward to the second coming of Christ, wondering if I was doing enough to “hasten” his return.

Leaving the Church
I left the church in my heart long before I stopped attending.  The happiness I used to experience as a child singing songs to God and meeting with Jesus in prayer slowly but surely became a begrudging chore of tradition.  Sometimes I didn’t feel like clapping to a praise song.  Sometimes I didn’t want to sing at all.  The world became a weary place but church even more so.  I was sensitive to the politics of the place, tensions between people pretending to be kind to one another but secretly gossiping behind each others’ backs, and power struggles.

I couldn’t understand how I was supposed to share God the way I understood him through my own studies and observations.  I volunteered to take Sabbath School lessons with grand ideas of injecting my thoughts into the lesson time, but I felt restricted by the church leadership and the way the pamphlets were written, as if I would be sinning to confuse my fellow Christians with my own, silly ideas of God.  The few times I did try to bring it up, I was pointed to rote scripture or doctrine.  My Christianity was being suppressed and I took it as a personal failing that I wasn’t outgoing enough or courageous enough in Christ to put myself into a position of authority and make a stand for my differing beliefs.

It all came to a head after I had finished High School and Leesa and her family had moved to another country.  One night when I was driving my friend Michael home after an evening of socialising, he suddenly asked me, “Why do you believe what you believe?”  I still consider this simple question to be the true beginning of my journey because with that simple question he absolutely floored me.  My heart raced, my fists clenched over the steering wheel, and I saw red in my night vision.  “What do you mean?” I returned defensively.  The dialogue was quite heated after that, but luckily for me we were not that far from his home and it didn’t last so long that it damaged our friendship.  In fact, as I was driving myself home I examined why I had become so defensive.  It was only a harmless question!

The problem was, I didn’t have an answer for my friend.  I couldn’t even begin to tell him WHY I believed what I believed, only HOW I believed what I believed.  I’d been a Seventh-Day Adventist all my life, I didn’t really have to put any thought into it.  Not even when I was baptised and didn’t agree with vow #13 did I think there might be an alternative.  I thought my church was the only right church and that maybe it was just a little misguided.  From then on, I realised I was not content, not even a little bit.  I still went to church, I still played hypocrite in the foyer along with everyone else, but instead of just being frustrated, I was downright angry with this church which couldn’t give me the answers I was looking for.

When I moved away from home I stopped going to church regularly, but I never stopped seeking God.

The Man Behind The Curtain
In many ways I feel like I was looking for The Wizard of Oz in my search for God.  I both heard and read about miracles in the world and I had to decide if I could believe in them or if they were just more Christian fabrications to try and trap people like me back into a church again.  In my own life, I felt God moving often, but it got to the point where I wasn’t getting any answers from Christians so I started wandering down other supernatural avenues.  For a while there I actually thought I was psychic!  I even researched clairvoyancy and bought a pack of Tarot cards.  Despite this, I never stopped believe in God, I just started to wonder if maybe the pagans and spiritualists were somehow closer to the truth, after all they seemed to get along better with each other than Christians of different denominations did.

God became this distant ideal, a grand and mysterious being I couldn’t reach from my sinful state.  I’d stopped going to church and was looking into the occult, surely my lack of repentance on the matter was enough for him to throw me into the Goat category rather than the church-going Sheep category?  I would still pray but I stopped feeling heard.  I wondered if the angels had stopped delivering my messages to Heaven.  I got into relationships with men who didn’t believe in God and became even more jaded.  God was hiding from me and the  curtain between us was too heavy for me to pull aside.

For years my spiritual life was stalled, hanging in the air, until one night when I sought God so hard that I found myself face-down on the bedroom floor, absolutely prostrate, begging Him to bring me back to the happiness in Him that I remembered from my childhood, and surrendering my life to Him all over again.  I prayed so hard I ran out of words.  When I was done, I went to sleep and thought little of it again for a long time.

God in Charge
Life got a little hectic all of a sudden.  Within twelve months of my night of earnest prayer, my world was turned completely upside-down.  There were thousands of earthquakes, I left my fiancé of 4 years, I met and married a new man within 3 months, I lost a lot of friends through what seemed to be hasty choices, I moved almost a dozen times for one reason or another, usually because I couldn’t get along with people, I was diagnosed officially with ADHD-Inattentive Type, I stopped working full-time due to anxiety, and my husband’s family which had seemed so much more stable than my own was ripped asunder by the exposure of the sexual crimes of a close family member (who is now rehabilitating with much success thanks to the right support, although the damage to the family has been done and may take a long time to be reversed).

In the middle of that it would have been impossible to see how it could all turn out for the best, but a few things came out of the chaos that were extremely positive:  I married the right man, we ended up living in the right home, I made new friends, and I understood myself a lot better.  Throughout all of this, I still wondered in the back of my mind what kind of calling God had for my life as it seemed I hadn’t heard Him speak to me in a long time.

It was a Saturday in late October 2013 and I was browsing Facebook.  An ex-colleague of mine named Reece posted up on his timeline that a friend of his needed help cleaning out an abandoned rental and anyone who wanted to help could ask him for more details.  I knew my husband had plans to visit one of his friends that day, and failing anything better to do, I decided to respond.  I just want to point out that at this time, even though I had left the Seventh-Day Adventist church, I still felt kind of bad if I worked on a Saturday, the day of rest as per the Ten Commandments which I had been taught were never abolished, but I made the decision that helping somebody on the Sabbath was more important, as per Jesus’ example.

Later that day, after finding out the details, I finally picked myself up from my lazy spot on the bed and went out to help clean the abandoned rental of the friend of an ex-colleague.  When I got there, one of the others (Nadine) was playing what sounded like Parachute Christian music out of her phone.  For some reason, this made me assume that everyone there was a Christian.  I don’t think I was too far from the truth, but it was still a big assumption to make.  Reece made it into this category in my mind.  I cleaned counters and cabinets and walls for a couple of hours, getting into conversation with the people around me and having a pretty good time.

All of a sudden, I asked Reece, “Which church do you go to?”  His physical reaction was one of obvious surprise at the question.  He told me went to Equippers.  I told him I’d never heard of it and he tried to tell me a little about when and where they met.  I mentioned that I was looking for a church and he said he would send me some details about it through Facebook.  Very late that night, I received the details, and immediately I asked my husband if he felt like going to church the next morning.

So the very next morning we followed this strange sequence of events to a church service in a school auditorium.  We sat through a scarily disco-like praise and worship session, and we tested the pastor’s sermon for anything that riled up our spirit in the wrong way.  After the service, we found that the people were genuine, and they offered really good quality coffee, and some food.  It can be safely said that at that time we were open to change, but unconvinced that this was the right one.  Even so, the following Saturday we were at the church offices learning about what the church believes as part of a small course they do a couple of times a year.  For some reason, everything made a lot of sense, so we decided we would stay, and stay we have.

This is not a testimony saying why people should join Equippers and I’m certainly not saying that Equippers is the best church to join for everyone.  What I do think that joining Equippers did for me and my personal testimony is that it brought me back to God.  All of a sudden I was in an environment where worship was a corporate affair, not just a personal one.  We were spectating a pastor who was trying to convince his audience that church is not a spectator sport.  The pastor didn’t pretend to perfect and he isn’t funded by the church, in fact he’s a full-time dentist as an occupation and his wife is the other church pastor and is a full-time mother who worked as a professional lawyer.  The tithe is taken privately, and every member is encouraged to get involved, to serve one another, and form relationship groups with each other.  It was unlike anything I’d ever encountered before and it gave me the freedom I’d been looking for to explore God.

My New Christian Life
My baptism at age 12 was very important and I have never felt compelled to repeat the experience.  If I was “born again” at my baptism, then the rest of my life up to this point must have been my spiritual childhood and rebellious teens.  Now, I finally feel I have reached a form of young adulthood.  I feel I no longer need the traditions and the law, I just need a good relationship with my best friend Jesus, a judge in a high position willing to speak on my behalf when I get caught doing the wrong things and want to escape severe fines.

It would be impossible for me to summarise how my views as a Christian have changed.  Although Equippers is my spiritual home, it is the people and the relationships there that keep me going back, not the praise and worship style or the pastor’s sermons.  There is freedom in their evening groups to explore Christianity and the moving of the Holy Spirit without feeling like we have to conform to a particular doctrine or belief system, even though Equippers is an offshoot of a larger denomination which does have such things.  If at any point Equippers began to hinder my spiritual growth, I would not hesitate to leave.  That day may yet come, although I pray that it won’t.

Significant changes in my life are:

  • I am no longer trapped by the old Jewish law, the Ten Commandments, or how other Christians believe I should think and act, instead I have found the freedom in Jesus that was always preached to me but never modeled in a practical way until now.
  • I have learned that praying in tongues is not an evil thing but an intensely personal and powerful method of communication with God.
  • I no longer live in fear and guilt but instead have been able to step into my rightful place as a daughter of God, a royal member in God’s Kingdom, and a priestess of God.  I am still learning my new duties and responsibilities but I am no longer a spiritual baby.
  • Remember when I said I thought I was psychic?  It turns out that was actually my spiritual gift of Discernment!  I have since learned that I also have the gift of Faith and I’m now looking for ways to use these gifts within my relationships.

There is a lot more than could be said, but that’s the gist of it right there.  I still have a lot of questions, a long way to go, and a lot more growing and changing to do.  And now, my journey continues…

Doing it my way

I have tried many times over the years to “define” myself and now I’m at a point in my life where definition no longer matters as long as I can be me.  I really like me and I no longer feel I have to justify myself to anyone else.  Having said that, I still like to revisit who I think I am every now and then and record it for posterity.

I don’t like to make comparisons with what is “typical” or “normal” because I don’t really believe there is such a thing, but I can say that I’ve never really been interested in being popular or just like everybody else.  For example, I made it all the way through high school without shaving my legs and I wore my skirts knee-length which was so uncool.  One of my friends felt I was so in need of help that in my latter teen years she not only gave me a lesson in shaving my legs perched on the edge of her bathtub but also inundated me with cheap clothing of anything not black, brown or denim and sent me a care package of pink underwear to try and improve my lack of femininity.  I think she may have lost interest in trying to change me when she discovered that I was bisexual.  I tried to assure her that she wasn’t my type romantically but the damage was already done and she couldn’t look at me the same again.

I still don’t wear make-up except on special occasions.  I get surprisingly no hassle about it when successfully conducting business face to face with busy clients and yet if I mention it anywhere in my normal life I seem to get pounced with offers of assistance, as if I asked for it.  It doesn’t even matter if it’s a forum full of geek girls, there will always be someone who is willing to teach me because until I learn I’m obviously underselling myself and missing out on something fundamental.  So my husband does my make-up when I want some for a special occasion, because he’s an artist and has more experience with make-up than I do.

I don’t even know what my own clothing style is because pretty much every piece of clothing that I wear is either a gift or a hand-me-down from an aunt or mother figure.  If someone gave me $1000 to buy new clothes with, I don’t think I’d even know where to start.  People seem perturbed when they compliment me on clothing I am wearing and then follow up with the question, “where did you buy it?” and receive the answer, “I don’t know where it came from.”  I’ve learned to compliment other people on their clothing and shoes because I want them to know I care enough about them to notice them and want to make them feel good about themselves, but I immediately lose interest if they try to continue the conversation beyond that.

I’m openly Christian and at the same time I try to distance myself from any association with most other Christians in the world.  When I was in high school I told people I wanted to become a veterinarian and in my heart I loved science most of all, especially physics, nuclear physics theory, botany, genetics, and entymology.  Biology in the final year was almost exclusively about evolution, so instead I took Physics and wrote an assignment about stellar evolution.  In the end I couldn’t reconcile my very clear ideas about a created universe and fit it into the Big Bang box required of the curriculum, so I failed the year and became disenchanted with continuing scientific study.  I put religion, militant atheism, and evolution in the same category of “can’t be bothered with” and prefer to concentrate on learning how to be better at meaningful relationships and showing kindness to others who can never pay me back.  I’ve always considered myself a kind person even throughout the anger issues of my younger years.  Two of my greatest gifts are faith and generosity, but not blind faith, and not unwise generosity.

I suppose I’m a capitalist in many ways and I greatly enjoy being a business owner.  I’ve been told being opportunistic can be a bad thing but I keep the small change I find dropped on the ground in carparks.  I receive government assistance and I’m incredibly grateful it helps me to survive, but my goal is to become so wealthy that I more than pay back my current takings in future contributions.  I’m not very tolerant of people who don’t at least put some effort into their lives.  I don’t think I’d mind someone being full-time on government assistance if they also spent part of their week volunteering, for example.  I will certainly never pressure anyone into being a full-time worker when I know that such a path is so terrible to my own well-being, and I have a special consideration for anyone who struggles with a long-term illness or disability because of my own circumstances.

Of course these five paragraphs are hardly all-encompassing but in the end it’s not about what the reader will get out of it.  As always, I’m doing it my way since this is my blog, after all.

A note about my depression

For the last few days I’ve been displaying for myself all the physiological symptoms of depression. I’ve been having disturbing dreams, waking up several times in the night and then too early and not being able to get back to sleep, but then crashing later and oversleeping. I’ve been emotionally distraught in between feeling okay whilst staying detached from it all throughout. I stopped to think about this and this is all part of my normal depression cycle, I’m just not stressing about it as usual because I have the freedom right now to take care of it. I don’t have to force myself up in the mornings just so I can be presentable and punctual at work, I don’t have to worry all day about how long I’m going to last because I feel so unwell, and I don’t spend my evenings regretting the entire day because of how miserable I was and feeling anxious about doing it all over again tomorrow.

So the key points are these:

  • Depression happens to me regardless and the difference has been how much freedom I have to deal with it, so don’t expect to push me into full-time work and have me suddenly start to succeed in having a corporate career when it’s never worked in the past no matter how much I’ve loved my job and co-workers.
  • I am only on a benefit until my business reaches a profitability point where it can sustain my needs, not because I’m too lazy to work hard.  If all my business debt was paid off and I had a small financial buffer with which to work with, I would take this thing to the stars.
  • I’m also fine with having part-time or temporary work around everything else for extra income, as long as the people who rely on me understand my limitations and accept that my struggles are real.  I still have a part-time accounts/payroll job to keep me honest which I do from home and at my own pace, and occasionally I will house-sit or feed cats for people on holiday for pocket money.

It seems to me that depression is only such a huge problem in our society because society expects too much.  If all these people who are depressed and having stress breakdowns could slow down, relax, and do what they feel capable of, maybe they would accomplish so much more.  Anyone who is jealous of my “laid back lifestyle” needs to look hard at why they are working too hard.  Is it getting them to their dreams?  Is there something else they could be doing?  Is their income really secure?

As for me, I trust in God to provide my needs according to His grace and I work hard to achieve what I want from my life.

The End of 2013

We have come to the end of 2013 and it’s time for the usual reflective post.  This has been one of the busiest, most accomplished years in my life.  Here are my highlights:

  • We moved into our studio apartment in town.
  • I gained in self-confidence.
  • I made several new friends.
  • I obtained a Certificate of Small Business Management.
  • I joined a new church which has helped to renew my faith.
  • I purchased a business.
  • I started fostering cats and rats.

My highlights were punctuated by bouts of depression and hopelessness, moments of not knowing how I was going to continue another week, long periods of searching for ways to be closer to God, times of incredible loneliness, and recent testings of my faith and the fabric of my soul.  This year has hardly been easy but I feel I went in still a girl and have finally come out as a woman.

Happy New Year!

Open letter to some car burglars

To the opportunistic folks who broke into my car, parked in town in a car park next door to where I live, early morning 29 December 2013:

I forgive you, and wish I could have met you to offer you some food and drink and hugs. It seems like you could have used some kindness, as you had no consideration for me.

The stereo face plate you stole was part of a Pioneer car stereo I bought my dad for his birthday a few years back, because the car used to belong to him and was his birthday present to me earlier this year since I needed a new car and couldn’t afford one. If I had met you downstairs before you broke in, there’s a chance I may have given the faceplate to you if you asked because I no longer used it to listen to anything in my car anyway.

The bright orange parking mobility card you took belongs to my husband who, although he doesn’t look like he needs it, has a chronic pain condition affecting his joints that makes it difficult for him to walk long distances. We’re not sure what you plan to do with it but those things aren’t cheap and when we DO use it, it’s because he’s having a really bad day and we need it.

We’re not sure how you missed the $9.00 I keep in the car for parking money, or why you didn’t take the perfectly good box cutter. You also missed a free bowl under my car which I use to feed the stray cats.

Thank you for not taking the car itself, although I’m sure it’s more due to the fact I keep a wheel lock on it. Maybe it’s because once you’d screwdrivered my ignition and popped open my boot you were disappointed to find only two empty cardboard boxes and nothing else of value? Or maybe we interrupted you when you heard us shut our door around the corner as we were heading out to go to church?

I admit that it was my fault for being too trusting after months of parking there without incident, for not insuring my car for fire and theft, and for not installing a security system into it. Having a husband on the Supported Living Allowance and being a brand new business owner means we don’t have a lot left to spare financially, and I guess I put things in the wrong priority before Christmas, as I was getting quotes for new car insurance earlier this month.

Finally, I just want to express that I am dealing okay. Sure, you’ve made my volunteer work with several animal rescue organisations difficult, and the vehicle was my primary means of delivering orders to my local customers, but it could have been worse. I’ve only had to go through some stress and a lack of sleep which is understandable after feeling a privacy violation, but the several inconveniences from your actions have resulted in highlighting how much good there is in my life when people do what they can to help me out. You also struck at a time in my life where we are de-cluttering our lives and were already emotionally prepared for a feeling of loss, we just weren’t quite expecting this kind of loss.

Ironically, my car was booked in and prepaid for a full service and new WOF the day after your burglary, and the damage you caused was only a quarter of the reason it failed the warrant, so I was going to be dealing with financial worries anyway. I probably could have done without the emotional worries on top, though.

I’m not sure when I’ll be able to afford to fix or replace my car but when I do, I don’t have much other choice where to park it, and I probably won’t immediately have insurance or a security system installed for the same reasons as last time. I’ll still have my wheel lock on (it’s a habit) and nothing of value in my car, so I really hope that instead of breaking stuff and making a woman cry, you simply come around the corner and knock on my door. We’re friendly, we don’t bite, we can offer free hugs, and we’re always willing to share what we have.

<3

Whoa! Overdue post

So I’ve been a little busy lately, sorry to have been slack in posting here.  On the plus side, I’m now officially a business owner!

The business is called Zero G and I sell flour which makes a wholemeal bread in the oven or breadmaker that contains no gluten, wheat, dairy, egg, soy or potato, and has a high fibre content.  It also has a texture like normal bread, really fluffy and yet filling, which lasts for 3 days fresh and freezes well.  Unlike other gluten-free breads I’ve tried it doesn’t crumble, it doesn’t go dry, it slices thinly but is still strong enough to hold sandwich fillings.  Best of all, it doesn’t have an awful aftertaste, in fact it tastes just like you would expect of wholemeal bread!  Anyway, if you’re interested in the business side of things you can follow these links, although we can only sell within New Zealand at this stage.

Website: www.zero-g.co.nz
Facebook: www.facebook.com/zero.g.nz

As well as that I have been busy with all sorts of things, including fostering cats, fostering rats, and gardening badly.  I also joined a new church and have been enjoying a spiritual renewal along with all the challenges that come with it.  I may talk about that another day.  Mostly I’ve been busy with buying this business and getting it up and running.  I’ve kept my work from home job a few hours a week, and I’ve been helping out with my husband’s hobbies.  In between I’ve been fighting off the usual depressions and anxieties, having recently had an upheaval of OCD symptoms.

Anyway, it is nearly 8 pm and it’s getting dark so I will be turning off this computer and getting ready for sleep.  My husband and I are having a trial period of not turning on the lights in the evening so that we go to bed earlier and so far it’s working really well and results in waking up early feeling ridiculously refreshed.

Hope everyone is well.  I will post again later!

Changes

Today was a big day for my husband.  This morning we went to the Work and Income office and applied to transfer him from “Jobseekers Support” to the “Supported Living Payment” which used to be known as the Invalid’s Benefit.  It’s taken him a long time to admit that he isn’t going to be getting any better, but it changes how much work they expect him to do, how often he has to provide proof of his illness from the doctor, and how much they penalise us for earning on top of their payments.

Almost as if to prove a point, he found it quite hard to sign all the forms because his fingers had decided to swell up badly today and he was in some obvious pain during our meeting.  The lady who looked after us was lovely, though.  The little placard on her desk said her name was Taua.

In somewhat related news, a friend of my husband’s has started helping him turn used pallets into garden planters for some pocket money.  Here’s a photo of a couple of little ones my husband made by himself, which I’ve put my potted strawberries in until they sell.

Stawbees!

Anyway, my husband’s friend is making planters quite a bit larger than those little ones in exchange for a a cut of whatever they manage to sell for.  If it’s popular enough, maybe it could become a business, but in the meantime we have bills to pay and we owe friends some money, and my husband would love some supplies so he can paint again.

In the photo you can also see a glimpse of my lettuce and snow peas. On the windowsill opposite the stairs I am growing a dwarf pea, a runner bean, basil, and carrots, and outside on our deck I have in ice cream containers some cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.  Also, my tomatoes that I mentioned I planted at the wrong time of year when we first moved into this house in March have already fruited some tomatoes, a couple of which turned red enough that we’ve eaten them and they were quite good.

Sort of on the topic of changes, this changeable weather!  I feel like I’ve had a horrible cold non-stop since my birthday and I’ve been mostly sleeping it off.  I’ve also been applying for full-time work but nobody will get back to me, which is fine, I guess, I’m still not sure I’m ready.  In the meantime, a lady I’d met making contacts for my Skincare Business idea approached me about my help to take care of her office and website in exchange for a cut of the increase in sales from my efforts.  Because I need MORE commitments… WHAT AM I DOING??

I’ve started advertising around my friends for a personal organiser, assistant and motivator.  I still spend way too much time moping about how I’ve forgotten something, feeling embarrassed, avoiding situations and people, apologising for various reasons, and running around like a headless chicken some days trying to get to appointments on time, that could be time better spent being productive and actually doing the jobs I already have.  I know I could be great if I could just get over myself, but maybe what I need is someone else to boost me over the fence.

When Two ADDults Marry

If I hadn’t mentioned it before, my husband has ADHD too, just thankfully in quite a different way.  He is way more emotionally steady than I am and is better at making himself do important things straight away so at least stuff gets done, but his memory can be as shocking as mine a lot of the time.

A really typical example is what happened to us tonight.  Stu made fresh bread, and so he had one thing in mind: Buy margarine.  We had run out earlier in the day and he likes to enjoy his bread with margarine.  So we got ready and out we went for margarine.  Well, that is, after remembering the rubbish bins needed to be put out for Council collection, then walking several paces towards the supermarket before realising we were too cold, and then since I was next to the computer again I had to make sure that we’d put out the right coloured bin (rubbish week, as opposed to recycling week), and deciding I’d pick up the backpack in case we found a special while we were out…

And then we went to the supermarket for one thing: Margarine.  By the time we got to the supermarket, however, both of us had forgotten why we were there.  ADHD strikes again! We bought a cabbage, some carrots, a tiny piece of ginger root, cheap bulk lamb flaps, and a pumpkin. We passed on cheap live mussels and chicken feet (there might be another Food Adventure post coming up, though!) then we scanned our items through self-checkout and left the supermarket, happy in our accomplishment of finding cheap meat and still spending less than $20.

We get home and halfway up the stairs Stu looks pained and says, “ARGH! We forgot the margarine!”  And then it comes flooding back that it was the only reason we’d left the house.  There’s a good reason we shouldn’t have children, we’d possibly forget we had them and I’m not even sure I’m kidding!  After unpacking the food I realised I’d only drank half my hot chocolate and had to reheat it in the microwave, and I was supposed to go to choir practice tonight and forgot again even though there were emails to remind me (I even left them unread in an attempt to point out their importance).

The moral of the story is: Hazelnut spread is pretty good on fresh bread, even without margarine.  The End.