Saturday, March 29, 2014

How It Feels

I've mentioned before that I struggle with depression. I found these pictures and illustrations that describe how I feel all day, pretty much every day. They say it more eloquently than I ever could.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Applying Myself

Well, as per my last post, I have officially applied for an out-of-state position, or in this case, positions. The Air Force needs civilians in their hospitals in case the active duty airmen get mobilized. This happens in many military hospitals across all branches; it's not just an Air Force thing.

So, if you're in a praying mood and you have the time and inclination to say one for me, I would truly appreciate it. The positions I am most hoping for are in Mountain Home, Idaho and Ogden, Utah. After that, I would really like any of the Gulf States, and beyond that, pretty much any well-paying position would do. I would even take North Dakota, which gets lots of snow, which is something I am inordinately not fond of.   (I know Idaho and Utah get snow, too, but they have something else: Big mountains. I love the mountains, and would suffer the snow to have the high places.)

Anyway, thanks in advance for putting in a word for me.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Well, anniversary number 20 today. The last year was not good, so I'm not feeling particularly celebratey today. In fact, I'm not feeling celebratey at all.

I hate to seem materialistic and greedy, but as I said earlier this year, it's the thought that counts. When someone doesn't even bother to get you something for Christmas, They're either not thinking of you, or they're not thinking well of you.  I knew I would not be buying a Valentine's Day gift or an anniversary gift at that point, though I was open to change my mind if circumstances warranted, which they, in the end, did not.

I noted a while back that she had said she got me something that required a "lot of thought." I guess I got my hopes up that there would be something that would promote a healing and regeneration of a relationship that has atrophied significantly over the past year and a half. Maybe something that would say, "Let's go forward together."

What she got was a DVD of a Dana Carvey HBO special that we used to watch on Comedy Central, years ago when we were in California. We watched it again and again and it was funny every time, which was good, because they played it about 12 times a week. So, instead of "Let's go forward together," I got, "Remember when things didn't suck?"

Truth be told, what I really wanted was simply a card that said something to the effect of, "I know it's been a rough year, but I really want to fix this. Please don't expect me to convert to your new church, but I will try my best to learn about it so I can understand the new person you've become and be part of your life in the future."

Instead, a gift that said, "It was long ago, it was far away and it was so much better than it is today."

I had been putting off applying for those out of state positions in the hopes I could complete a Hail Mary.

No more.

Getting Old

Today was my first full day with my bifocals. I'm feeling a little down that after wearing glasses for almost thirty years, I have to learn to do it differently. And the thought that half the world will always be blurry and out of focus if bringing me down even more.

And today is my 20th wedding anniversary. I'm surprised we made it through the last year. I will be even more surprised if we make it through the next.

I am deep in debt, working two dead-end jobs and wanting to be somewhere else, almost ANYWHERE else, than Northeast Ohio.

Am I having a mid-life crisis? It's a little late for that, unless I intend to live unto my nineties, which I don't. Mid-life for me was ten years ago, tops. I'm not just over the hill, I'm speeding into the Valley, and I lost any interest in the journey months ago.

Getting old sucks.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sacrament - Some Thoughts

So, I have to teach a class on the Sacrament at church on Sunday. This is what Catholics call Holy Communion, and I'm sure other denominations have their own names for it, or use some variation on these. It is the bread and wine (or water) taken on Sunday to commemorate the Last Supper, in case you didn't know. I was reading through the material that I'm supposed to be teaching from, and it occurred to me that it somewhat incomplete. I mean, it's not supposed to be comprehensive or anything, just the thoughts and teachings of one man (Joseph F. Smith) on the subject, a hundred years ago or so. I think this might be a good opportunity to delve a little deeper into the history and symbolism and get a larger picture, because, as important as President Smith thought it is, the teachings seem to only scratch the surface of what it is all about.

Of course, maybe this is stuff everyone already know and I'm just late to the party, but then again, it never hurts to review important material.


The story of the Sacrament doesn't begin with Christ at all, or rather it does, but it predates His earthly ministry by several thousand years, with Adam and Eve and their sons. We know from the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis that sacrifice was a requirement even when mankind was young. There is no buildup to the concept in Genesis, it is just presented as though everyone knew about it and accepted it as normal and natural, even to the very first humans on the planet.

Sacrifice required that the best of a crop or litter be given, thus, while Abel ws much loved of God for giving the best of his lambs, Cain found much less favor for giving lesser quality items from his crops. This story, as we know, ended badly.

Forward a few millenia to the time of Moses. We all know the story of the plagues sent to convince Pharoah to Let Moses's People Go. The last one, the Killing of the Firstborn, required the Hebrews to sacrifice a lamb and paint the door frame with its blood, so the Angel of Death would know which houses to pass over. This became, of course, the first Passover, which Jewish people still celebrate today.

After the people were freed from Egypt, they went into the desert where Moses was given the laws that they were to follow. These are in detail in the Old Testament books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, and include many, MANY instructions on sacrifice, including what constiutes a sacrifice, how it should be sacrificed, and who should perform the rites. This was the Tribe of Levi, the Levites, headed by Moses' brother Aaron, the namesake of the Aaronic Priesthood.

What I didn't know before, and I suspect a lot of people probably still don't, is that the sacrifices that were made were not just thrown to rot, or buried away: They were eaten, usually by the priests. There is a lot of sacrificing in these books, and I can't help but wonder how the priests managed to eat so much. You could say that the rituals and prayers would fill a book, and they pretty much do.

There were a lot of other sacrifices to be made by the people at various times throughout the year, but the most prominent was the  Passover, which commemorated the first in Egypt. There were a bunch of ceremonial things that were written for the people to say and do, one of which was to sacrifice a lamb for the Passover dinner, which was then eaten. This is important.

One important rule to remember is this from Leviticus: The eating or drinking of the blood of any animal was forbidden, as the life of the animal is in the blood. The Blood is the Life. Remember this, and remember that it was forbidden.

So, now jump forward about 1400 years to the time of Christ. What we call Good Friday today, the day Christ was crucified, was the day on which Passover fell in that year. So, Christ, who, as we know, was and is referred to as the Lamb of God, was sacrificed by his father (remember the story of Abraham and Isaac?) on Passover.

The night before, at the Last Supper, Christ gave instructions concerning the Sacrament: the bread was His body, which was eaten by the Apostles, the wine His blood. So, four thousand years of sacrifice culminates in the Sacrifice of Christ as the Passover Lamb of God. All history to this point foreshadows this event.

And remember, blood was forbidden to be ingested, because the Blood is the Life? By taking in the water used in the Sacrament, we are symbolically taking into ourselves the Life of Christ. To drink the life of a living being is death; to drink the Life of Christ is Life Everlasting. We are making the commitment and covenant to live as He would have us lived and to try to live as He Himself did live.
When we partake of the Sacrament in Sacrament meeting each week, we are not just renewing our covenants and remembering the Atonement of Christ, we are recreating the Last Passover, in which the Blood of the Lamb was shed for us, that the Angel of Death would pass over our house for all eternity, if only we will believe in Christ and do as He asks us.

A Quick Update

In the last post, I discussed adultery and apostasy, and wondered if a change in religion during a marriage mihgt not be considered grounds to dissolve that marriage.

So, since I've been going to church, it seems that almost everything I read or hear is meant for the time that I read or hear it. So, today, two days after I wrote that, I'm reading Chapter 17 of Jesus the Christ, by James E. Talmadge. (That link is to a free copy at There is a 99 cent on available at Amazon, with somewhat better formatting.) In this chapter, he discusses some of the teachings of Christ, and defines adultery as "infidelity to marriage vows."

I find this interesting. I don't know of an explicit vow in any ceremony that says, "I promise not to abouse you," but I think it is fairly implied. It is certainly a breech of trust. I have to say, I know God loves us, and He has given us the right to self-defense. If someone is in an abusive marriage, sometimes the only way they can defend themselves is by getting out. The vows usually include "love, honor and cherish (or obey for you old schoolers)," and I don't see abuse as having anything to do with ANY of those."

If you are in an abusive marriage, it seems to me, you have the God-given right to get out of it.

P.S. I know it seems I've been reading that book forever, but it's only been a couple months, and I have had a number of other things I have had to read at the same time.

P.P.S. I have a topic for my first teaching assignemnt on Sunday: Chapter 6 of the Teachings of Joseph Fielding Smith, about the Sacrament. I think I will try to detail the history from Adam to Christ, as I think the historical baclground makes the ceremony even more meaningful. I will try to write something up to put here as I get my thoughts together.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Thoughts on Apostasy and Adultery

I've been thinking a lot lately, which sort of happens when no one else really wants to talk to you.

I read the Bible last summer. Not parts of it: The whole thing, from cover to cover. Something struck me throughout the Old Testament. The people would always manage to get themselves in trouble, then they would call on God, "Hey, God! We could use a little help over here right about now!"

God, being Good, would give them a Hand, then tell them, "You know, if you want to avoid these sticky situations, I've got some rules for you. You just have to listen to them and obey me."

Then the people would say, "Sure, God, whatever you say." Then not too much later they're going, "What has God done for us lately? What could he do that a really nifty golden calf couldn't." Then the same old stuff happens again and they are crying. "Help us, God! We'll be good! This time for sure!"

It got to the point where God called the people of Israel "An Adulterous Woman," implying that He was the Husband, or the Bridegroom, as Christ later calls himself.

This got me to thinking: When Christ discusses divorce in the Gospels, He says that it should only be under cause of adultery. This is later contradicted by the Apostle Paul, who says that a believeng spouse should allow a nonbelieving spouse to go, if that is their choice. I think that when Christ is talking about adultery, he may be discussing it in the traditional sense, but I have a strong suspicion that there is another layer there: I think that the equation of adultery and apostasy in the Old Testament should be carried into the New.

If a spouse goes away from the church, it is then permissible for them to divorce, under New Testament laws. There are a couple of places in the New Testament where Christ Himself says that they are blessed who have lost their spouses in order to follow him, implying that that is, in itself, sufficient reason to allow a dissolution.

More than that, I think an abusive spouse is breaking the marriage covenant via the abuse. Breaking that covenant should allow the abused spouse to render it null and void. The abuser has made a promise not only to his spouse, but to Christ, and has broken it. Could that be considered apostasy? I suspect it could and should be, which would then render it fit grounds for the abused to negate that contract.

I know  Christ loves us, and if we are to be sealed to someone for all eternity, would he really want us to remain with someone who abuses and despises us? Or who thinks our church and religion are stupid and wrong?


I had an insight the other night, about submission. Not the naughty kind, the spiritual kind.

Submission is from the Latin sub meaning under, and mitto meaning to put or place. In essence, submission is placing oneself under the authority of another.

Often, the word is used to imply that someone is being subjugated by another, that they are in a form of bondage or slavery. I don't think this is necessarily so. I tend to look at the family as a team, of a sort. The team needs a captain, and traditionally, this is the role given to the man of the house. Why? I don't know. It seems kind of arbitrary to me. But God often has his reasons, which are not always comprehensible to us.

In the Bible, there is the story of Abigail, a wise, beautiful, intelligent woman (much like my friend), who is married to Nabal, whose name means fool, which is a perfect descriptor. When she sees Nabal about to destroy his household through foolishness toward David, the future king of Israel, she goes behind his back and saves it for him. This is deemed by many to be the perfect act of submission, as she saved the life of her husband and his household, though it meant she would stilll be stuck with him. She looked after his interests without regard to her own. Of course, a few days later, God strikes Nabal dead and Abigail gets married to David (his second wife), but the point is still valid.

In my own opinion, the submission of one requires something of the one being submitted to, as well. It should not be used as a weapon against the submissive partner. The leader, for lack of a better term, should show repect and consideration and love, especially in a marrige situation. Remember, I said it was a team: Who wants to be part of a team when the captain is abusive and mean?

I think that there is a power to a woman who stays at home to raise her children: She has a great deal more influence over her children than does her husband, as she raises and nurtures them. Today, so many women want to think this job is unimportant or beneath them. I think otherwise, obviously.

There is an implicit covenant within the marriage contract that submission should not be taken as consent to be abused. A husband should be kind and generous and understand what his wife offers to the marriage is more than a hot meal, a clean house and a bed partner/baby incubator. A man who refuses to take into account his wife's knowledge and experience is failing to take full advantage of something he should prize above almost all else.

The insight I spoke of earlier was this: Submission is not weakness. In the military, the most senior enlisted man is subordinate to the most junior officer. He must submit to the orders of those above him. But while he is submitting to that officer, it does not indicate weakness: It indicates a chain of command. And if that officer is smart, she will understand the knowledge and experience of that enlisted man gives his words weight, and heed what he says.

I have more to say on this subject, but it's not fully incubated yet and I felt the need to get this out there now. Not sure why, but I felt I had to. I'll write more later...

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Voice

 I said last time I wrote that I would say a little more about God talking to me, so here goes.
When I say this, I don't mean in the sense that He comes down and says, "Hey, how you doing?" and I respond with jaunty, "Hey, God! Good to see you again!" That would be kind of nifty, but it doesn't work that way. At least not in this life.

The Bible tells us that He will talk to us through visions and dream and a "small, still voice." Once we learn to recognize these for what they are, we can start to understand what He's trying to tell us. It's not always easy and what He tells us isn't always pleasant, but it's usually something that will help us.

I have had dreams that have had such a ring of truth that they stick with me for months, as though they had actually happened. There have been a few recently. I won't discuss them just yet, because even though they happened first, later events help to solidify their significance.

I have spoken before about the vision of Paradise that brought me to Christ and the Church, through a convoluted and difficult journey that still causes heartache.

What I want to talk about briefly is that small still voice. A lot of people call it the conscience, but it's not really that. It's much more complicated than that. It's that voice that tells you to do something out of you sphere of comfort. It's a sense of certainty of the correctness of something, regardless of what common sense and reason may seem to be telling you about that thing. It's an almost literal voice at times that says, "See! That's why I asked you to do that!"

I have an example of the latter.

When I first started going to my church, people would often bring up the subject of Tithing, which is giving a percentage of income to the church to do its work. Though it is commanded in Scripture, the people would speak of it as a Blessing, rather than a Burden, which seemed odd to me. Sometimes it seemed as though they were trying to convince THEMSELVES that it was a blessing. But mostly, it felt like they were talking to me. Trying to convice me that I ought to try it, as though it were some sort of expensive drug that didn't sure anything and didn't get you high. A bargain at any price, hey?

There is a Scriptural verse, Malachi 3:10, where God challenges us to test him; pay the tithe and see if you don't get more than paid back in full. As I continued investigating, I knew I wanted to join the church, but was still skeptical about the whole tithing thing. But, I was willing to give it a go.

Now, our family finances are often shaky, but I put a little aside each pay, waiting until I felt we were up to date on our bills and payday was close and then I gave a check. It wasn't a huge check, in the grand scheme of things, but to me, it was pretty big: the biggest check I'd ever written that wasn't to buy something for myself or my family. It felt good.

Four days later was payday, and four days after that, there was a total of $10 in our joint checking and savings accounts. And no food in the house.

Although we didn't know it at the time, my mother-in-law had sent a nice check to my wife earlier that morning, for reasons that are still unclear.

And the two days later, we received refund checks for overpayments to our retirement systems which we hadn't expected to receive for several more weeks.

Then, the morning after we received those checks, I was going through my "Important Papers Drawer, which I've gone through dozens of times over the last few years, and this time, an envelope of money fell out of the pile. One of my cousins had sent it years ago to help cover expenses after my stroke and in my confused state, I put it in the drawer and forgot about it. But it is amazing that through all those times I've been through that drawer it should have been right there on top when I needed it most.

But the kicker is this: The envelope contained the exact amount of my tithing check.

I felt an almost physical sense of "SEE!!" and was broght nearly to my knees.

God had spoken to me.

When we give God what he asks of us, he will, as Scripture says, give us far more than we give him. Far more than we are CAPABLE of giving him, even if we give him everything we are and do.

That is the small, still voice, though it isn't always so dramatic.

That Sunday in church, I shared my experience and far from being amazed, people were happy for me, as though NOW I was REALLY a member. When I remarked that that sort of thing doesn't generally happen to me, they told me to be ready for it to happen all the time.

In addition, the I had an understanding that I should go farther; to realize that money/time isn't the only thing that Heavenly Father will repay in kind, that sacrifice is not a loss to us, but a net gain. I understand this now, but my rational mind still sort of resists. He is not necessarily asking for more than I am willing to give, but the giving is going to be even more excrutiatingly painful than the last few months have been.

He wants everything I have and everything I am and I am afraid.

I'm going to end up giving it, willingly, but I am afraid.

I will talk more about that later, as well as how it all fits in with the dreams I've had.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Music Time: Suddenly Seymour - Little Shop of Horros

God has been talking to me a lot, lately. I'm trying to digest it all and figure out what it means. I suppose I will share it at some point. There is a lot going on, and I haven't been able to totally process the information. I've learned some strange things.

Anyway, Little Shop of Horrors was one of my favorite movies when I was younger, and I thought I would share this song, which states the simple fact that, much like threats to one;s very existence, salvation of a sort can come from the seemingly most innocent and unlikely of places.