Feeling torn

I am a Christian – raised in church, attended Baptist Student Union in college, continued to attend Baptist or similar churches in the Midwest. One could almost say it is in my blood.
I have never stopped believing in God or Jesus and believe myself to be saved by the grace of God. I often struggle with faith, with praying regularly, with reading my Bible. But I never stop trying to have faith or get back into praying and reading the Bible regularly.
Now, when it comes to politics, I have always considered myself moderate. I usually vote democrat, because mom and dad have always voted that way and told me from a young age that republicans are always for the wealthy. I generally voted democrat until 2008. I was considering McCain before he chose Palin. The thought of her a heartbeat away from the presidency scared me to death.
In this election, I plan on voting for Obama and going straight blue on congressional reps. I have seen so much obstructionism and extremism on the part of the republican party the least couple years that I cannot in good conscience vote for any republicans. And I cannot vote for Romney or Ryan because, quite frankly, everything in me tells me that they are bad news for our country.
Why I feel torn is because of my faith, or more precisely, some of my fellow Christians. I have a few friends at my church here in Racine and several more on facebook who I can pretty much guarantee will vote Republican. They vote Republican because they are convinced they must based on biblical principles.
Abortion is not specifically mentioned in the Bible (that I know of) but since they see abortion as murder and murder is condemned in the Bible, they vote based on who will fight to restrict or outlaw abortion altogether. They vote based on same sex marriage. They vote because they have been told by many conservatives, some of them Christians, that Obama is out to get Israel, or at least he is not willing to support them. I understand why they vote the way they do.
I generally refrain from posting too many political items on facebook because I don’t care to be called out by some of my more conservative friends on articles about abortion rights or how Romney has been caught flip flopping and lying since day 1, or the fact that Paul Ryan idolized Ayn Rand, and believes in the concepts spouted in her books.
I actually had a friendly discussion with one of my friends from church a month or so back. This friend noticed that I had liked the page Republicans for Obama. She could not comprehend how any Republican could vote for Obama. Don’t you know, she asked me, that he cancelled the national day of prayer? I pointed out that was false and supplied articles I found as proof, one from Snopes.com. She also said he wasn’t doing anything to help Israel. I pointed out articles that didn’t always say Obama was doing a good job, but that any problems with Israel that Christians see are most likely coming from Obama’s approach. I think many media sources think he is not handling things the best way, that he is making mistakes, but there is no president out there that can solve the problems with Israel and Pakistan. Tension has existed for centuries and will continue to exist until the end of time. I produced many articles backing up why I am for Obama. She produced one document about Obama and Israel and his supposed ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. We agreed to disagree and that was that.
This exchange with my friend from church didn’t really bother me. What has started bothering me are other little things, like the fact that my pastor included a little section in his sermon for 7 truths in the Bible that should affect our decision making paradigm. One of them was election issues. He said there were certain issues in the Bible that God is clear on and didn’t tell us who we should vote for. He said he would not do that. But it didn’t sit well with me. I do not like it and I do not agree with it when preachers mention politics at the pulpit.
The second thing is a couple of interactions with my small group on Wednesday nights. It consists of two other couples and me. Last week we had started discussing Acts and I don’t even remember the question – something about all of God’s word unquestionable or something. I started to raise a caveat about that and was cut off by one of my group members. The group leader stopped her and said to let me finish. I said that a lot of people I have interacted with on facebook often fall into two categories. Some focus on the Old Testament to show how cruel God is, citing passages where he ordered the destruction of entire groups, who were also living wicked lives. Some focus on Jesus and they like him and what he teaches. What most of them don’t do is remember that the Bible is a whole story, that you can’t have one without the other. There are plenty of laws and rules in the Old Testament we don’t ascribe to anymore because we have a new covenant with Jesus.
There was another incident with my small group this week. We were having a discussion about the Holy Spirit and why we don’t always see it or feel it moving and would we even recognize it if we did. I brought up the fact that there are many people who are turned off my extreme/fundamentalist views on the parts of  some Christians. My group leader said some of his views were pretty extreme. I gave him and the rest of the group an example of what I meant. I recently read about a former state representative from Arkansas, where I grew up, who recently wrote a book. In it, using one set of like 3-4 verses from Deuteronomy, he argues we should have a process in place whereby rebellious children could be put to death as an example to other children. The passage in Deuteronomy talks about a process of bringing a rebellious son before a judicial council to be judged and if found guilty he would be stoned to death. This boggles my mind and I find it rather disconcerting that this passage was in the Bible to begin with. When I spoke of this situation in my small group, the leader and his wife seemed a bit shocked and did not seem in favor of it. Another member seemed kind of unfazed and she made a comment that I found unsettling. One of us said that of course we no longer ascribe to those kinds of old testament rules because of Jesus. But she also said that God punished the Old Testament Israelites for not obeying all his laws, which would have included the one I mentioned. It was all I could do not to ask her if she honestly felt it was okay for that law to even be in the Bible?
For me, as a mother of a small child, I cannot even begin to comprehend how God would have commanded such a thing. Or at least how he could have included something like that in the rules and laws given to the Israelites in the Old Testament. It makes me wonder a little.
I will not stop believing in God, or Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but this attitude on the part of some of my fellow Christians of accepting certain parts of the Bible without qualm or questions concerns me. I am a believer, but I am a thinking believer. I don’t park my brain at the door when it comes to my faith. I don’t question God’s existence or authority or Jesus’s life and resurrection. I don’t question that God created the world. But I am willing to discuss some things that are not 100% certain in my eyes.
I have read enough on evolution to know that it is change over time. I don’t believe we are all descended from apes, but who is to say evolution isn’t simply one of God’s tools? Science says the world is billions of years old. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. Man is flawed. We aren’t perfect. How do we know with complete certainty that the way we date the universe is sound? Conversely, what does it matter how old the cosmos is? I will continue to be convinced that it was created, whether it happened in 6 days or 6 millions years.
When it comes to the Bible, we are talking about a book written over thousands of years by several different authors. Written down, copied, edited, etc. Who is to say that somewhere along the way part of God’s message/intent was lost or corrupted, intentionally or not?
I guess my quandary is that I don’t feel comfortable discussing my personal political thoughts and beliefs with my church friends because I already know, or I am pretty sure, where they stand. I feel a little lonely, being in the position. I choose to take a moderate stance, to accept that we are all human, and that we all make mistakes. I choose to take Jesus’s view – hate the sin, love the sinner. He said “he is without sin, cast the first stone.” None of us are perfect. There are actions that everyday people take that we can say – this is wrong – but we need to not just look at what they do but why they do it.
Abortion is a perfect example. Is abortion murder? Since the fetus is alive, technically yes. Still, the fetus cannot survive outside the mother’s womb until a certain point. I think the earliest is 20-22 weeks, and that is still early, since a full term pregnancy is about 36 weeks. Personally, I don’t know that I could ever bring myself to have an abortion. But, women get abortions for all types of reason. Yes, many choose abortion as a convenient way of getting rid of an unwanted pregnancy because of a one night stand. But there are many who choose it because they cannot afford to bring a child into the world – even after using contraception, or in some cases because they forgot to use it. And when they do forget to use it, it is usually because of some difficult situation – death of a family member, medical bills that come because of a sudden illness or accident, loss of a job, etc. And there are a minority of women who choose abortion because of rape, incest, or their life is in danger. I would personally prefer not to have 1.2 million babies aborted every year. I would like to see that number shrink significantly. But no matter my personal feelings or convictions about abortion, it is not my place to force my beliefs/feelings/convictions on other women and their families.
I guess one of my biggest problems with some of my fellow Christians is that they see voting for a particular candidate as an extension of their Christian mission. I guess in a way it is, but to me, when they vote based on two or three issues they believe to be most important to God they often don’t concentrate on other issues that are just as important. My friend who messaged me on facebook about republicans for Obama – I told her that I vote based on the whole package, on who will help the country as a whole. She said she votes spiritually. Is it not spiritual and Jesus like to vote for the candidate who will do the most to help the people who are suffering the most i.e. the middle and lower classes?
I guess my biggest problem is that, based on everything I have been raised to believe, everything I have been taught – none of it makes me believe that voting a certain way is part of God’s mission. Jesus commanded us to go out and make disciples. That is our mission. That is how we are supposed to change the world – one person at a time. Not voting a certain politician into office because we think he is the most Christian candidate. Christianity does not thrive in Washington D.C. because the president we choose will always be forced to compromise to get things accomplished. We live in a secular world. Christians are in the world, not of it. We are part of a spiritual battle in the world between God and Satan, and I for one don’t believe that war can be won through voting for a certain politician because politics itself is of the world. And oftentimes the very politicians we vote for cannot really be trusted. They will say whatever it takes to get into office. They will make promises and break them. They will espouse a certain moral stance just to gain votes. Or the opposite is also true. They maintain a moral stance so fundamental and extreme that it turns reasonable people off. I am a moderate person who seeks balance in all things. Extremism in any form is a bad idea in my book and I won’t vote for anyone who espouses extreme views.

Angry, with very little patience

So, I am feeling overwhelmed, angry and tense. Reason? Well, let’s see. Doug is foisting a dog on me even though I wanted to wait until Tristan turned 4. Tristan seems to be doing everything he can to try my patience. He argues with me or flat out refuses to go when it is time to leave a place where he is having fun, like the park or McDonald’s. I usually have to start walking away from him while keeping him on sight so he knows I am serious. I am babysitting a 7 month old baby to bring in extra money and Tristan thinks it is hilarious to push him over on his back, lay on him and do other things that make the baby screech as though he was being murdered. Tristan clings to me sometimes in such a way you would think he was still 1 and not 3. He sometimes refuses to spend time with Doug so then Doug pouts like a child. I am trying to keep Tristan in line, take care of a baby, keep us stocked with groceries, have a meal ready for Doug every night, keep the bills paid and the checkbook in the black, do data entry at night approx 4- 5 hours a week and build a direct selling business as a scentsy consultant. Plus there are dishes daily and laundry twice a week. I hardly ever get time for me, unless I stay up late when Doug works late or after Tristan and Doug go to bed. Tristan refuses to potty train. I want to give Tristan more structure and give him activities to do other than playing on the computer or watching Netflix. I want to spend time with God every day. I want to get my house organized and actually be able to clean it every week. It just seems like there are never enough hours in the day. And I want to make time for God a priority. But I also want some time for me. And I am struggling to find a balance. And now this whole dog thing. Doug cannot conceive of how livid I am, and I don’t think he really cares. I have made it clear to him he better take care of the dog because I refuse to he primary caregiver to a dog when I have several other things to deal with daily and weekly. I won’t hesitate to find the dog a new home if Doug does not do his part. I am so angry about this and my patience with Tristan’s almost daily defiance has worn do thin that I accidentally hurt Tristan today. He was sitting on the baby’s back treating him like a  pony so I grabbed him and carried him into his room, where I plopped him in hid bed none too gently. He bounced and got hit his head against the railing of the bed. I felt bad for hurting me but there was another part of me that just felt cold rage and very little remorse. I know I am  taking Tristan’s behavior too personal, but I am at a loss as to what to do.

Tristan, puzzles and Peter pan

Tristan is 3 now and his current obsession is puzzles. He enjoys playing the ones we have at home and the ones we find online. He has become very adept at using the mouse to put pieces in place, as well as playing other games, like matching.

Tristan has also become quite find of the movie Peter pan. He has watched it several times in the last week or so. And he can’t seem to get enough of the song “never smile at a crocodile,” which we found on you tube. 🙂

My little caregiver

Tonight Doug told Tristan that he didn’t feel well. Tristan proclaimed that daddy needed the colorful medicine to feel better. We went to the bathroom and I opened the medicine cabinet. After a few different guesses I found that Tristan wanted to give Doug tums. I gave Tristan the time to carry and told Doug. Daddy said okay to two tums and Tristan counted them out and gave them to his daddy. He was so proud of himself for making daddy feel better.

Frustration

Okay, so it is almost the end if the month and I have rent due before Doug gets paid again. I also have car insurance coming out automatically. I am getting a check for babysitting next Friday, but I still want to err on the side of caution.

Out of the babysitting check I need to pay for zoo membership, which is 60. And I am hoping to pay the remainder of my financial peace study, which is 30. Plus I need room for groceries.

I don’t know yet if the babysitting will continue beyond the end of June because the lady I am babysitting for has a previous sitter she needs to talk with. I get the feeling the mom, Amanda, would be inclined to have me keep babysitting, but she feels like she needs to talk to this other lady first.

I would be perfectly happy to keep babysitting. It us extra money every month and I don’t worry about finances like I did before. I would just like to know one way or another. If I continue, that’s great. If not, I need to start looking for work to replace the money I will lose.

Then there is scentsy. I can’t get anyone to book a party. My friend Jill is going to host one but she is ironing out a date. And there are three people Doug works with who said they would host but haven’t yet.

I haven’t had a lot of extra money for business supplies because other things have gotten in the way. I have not been able to put business cards out in local stores yet. I just can’t get seem to get any traction and it really bugs me.

Anyway, i am just feeling a little anxious and frustrated but i am trying hard to not be.

A bit overwhelmed

Still working on my big data entry project for mojo, but I am mostly confined to evenings after Tristan goes to bed. Tristan is not taking an afternoon nap anymore. I am also babysitting Monday through Friday during the day and the child is 4 months old…and teething this week. I feel like I am not paying enough attention to Tristan and I am tired from staying up until 1130 or 12 the night before working on the data entry. I really want to start building my scentsy business but I just can’t give it the time I want right now. If I could just book a few parties maybe I could start getting things going. I am behind on my financial peace study at church and I don’t feel like I am spending as much time with god daily as I should. If I could just get this data entry project done I think things would get a little easier. At least I am hoping they will get easier.

busy times

The last several weeks seem like a blur. Tristan has had sinus issues he finally seems to be over. I got sick and had to have an antibiotic to get well and even Doug got sick for a few days. I have become a consultant for scentsy and am hoping I can start building my business by booking a few parties in the next month or so. I am working part time for a mobile app company and they sent me a massive data entry project to work on. I hope to finish it this week.

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