Tuesday, December 16, 2008

This brain needs an enema!

Been a while, huh?

Not to sound insensitive, but I'm not really sorry that I was gone. I am sorry if you got the shakes or had other withdrawal symptoms as a result of my absence, but in some mysterious way my break was necessary. It was right. And I can't really explain it.

I'm in a weird season of spirit right now, and I'm curious where it goes from here. I'm not depressed, but I'm not into some of my usual activities lately (like blogging, for example). And I can't even put a finger on what my crazy brain is slowly working through, but it must be something big. Maybe soon it will let me in on it.

Until then, here's some random spewage of news and stuff:

-- My company, like many others, is about to face some hard times. I'm being asked to do more than ever before, even though (or maybe because) my little department was the sole part of the company that exceeded forecast this year.

-- This means that I'm taking some big leadership roles in some projects. Roles that make absolutely no sense organizationally, because I'm playing in other people's sandboxes and driving strategy for people way above my title and paygrade. But I'm doing it anyway.

-- At the same time, the company has hooked me up with a life/career coach. He and I clicked right away, and in the background of our discussions we know that one day I'm probably going to stop all this corporate stuff and follow my true calling. As soon as I figure out what it is. I'm thinking AJ's past recommendation of a preacher/teacher/comedian/pychologist/analyst thing sounds good. Anybody know someone who's hiring that combo?

-- Speaking of preaching, my church asked me to preach on a Sunday in January. I turned it down. That still bothers me, because I know why I turned it down. It's because I can't preach my heart there. I could give a sermon on plenty of other topics and they'd be satisfied. But I have this sense that the next time I preach, it will be about my evolved understanding of grace, and how it's changed my life and changed what I see as the Christian mission. That's the core of who I am, and to speak powerfully and genuinely, that's what I'd need to share. But I can't do it at the church where I'm a member. Frustrating.

-- I finished teaching my bible class that I've done weekly for six months. It was a wonderful, challenging experience trying to lead a group of people who are twice my age. In many ways I am kindred spirits with that generation. Weird, huh? But that's why my best friends in college were my grandparents, not my classmates. That's a weirdness I'll wear proudly.

-- The senior minister at church asked me to attend the young couples' class that he's teaching, with a tentative plan for me to take over for him soon if I connect with the group. I sat in there last week to discover that I disagreed with practically every single point of the minister's lesson. I thought it was flat out, undeniably, dangerously wrong. He taught that pain/suffering are always directly from God, and are forms of discipline for our unrighteousness. He said there's no room for random events and "life happens" scenarios -- it's all uniquely and purposely from God.

-- This stuff is making me wonder where I fit at church.

-- Jamie and I celebrate our 10th anniversary next month! We're planning on a 4-day, 3-night, jaunt to Southern California to stay in a cabin at the foot of a mountain range. A few days of quiet, sharing, nature, reflection, hiking and boom-chicka-bang-bang. Yeehaw!

-- My daughter is almost halfway through kindergarten. When did that happen?

-- We paid off the van today, 13 months early. That means we have no car payment next month, for the first time in six years. We had no car payment for the first four years of our marriage and we're thrilled to return to that place again. It will make many other things possible financially.

-- I continue studying the economic climate, and I continue to be disturbed. As I blogged about earlier, nobody seems to be discussing the fundamental weaknesses of our economy (low production, low savings, brain drain). If printing more money would fix the problem, wouldn't that have already worked by now? We're teetering on this weird edge between deflation and hyperinflation, and right now I wouldn't be surprised to see either one become reality in 2009.

-- Tonight at dinner I asked the kids what kinds of things Christmas is about. Samantha said "giving" and "sharing". Jack said "baking cookies" and "eating cookies".

-- I like cookies. And hot cocoa. And eggnog. And I've had all three in the past 24 hours.

-- Burp.


Don said...

This weirdness continues....I have also been in a "weird season of spirit". I've been forcing posts for my blog and it shows. I think sometimes it's best to just not post when it's just not there; speaking for myself alone here. I think it's the season. The loss of my wife's job, the commercialism, the change I've undergone relative to spiritual things and religion's take on Christmas. Never before have things like: virgin birth, King of Kings, etc; forced me into such spiritual thinking. I know I'm probably not making much sense, but this may be material for a post. Maybe soon, maybe not. I admire you for trying to work within the system (religious). I just could no longer do that.

Andrew said...

"This stuff is making me wonder where I fit at church."

Amen brother. I feel very out of place lately. Not their fault, its me (sounds like a bad break up line). I have been considering taking a church sabbatical. Church is just this thing I do, and I am not totally sure why I am doing it. Part of it is that my church is 25 minutes from my home and is therefore not part of my community. Also, I feel like you said - The things that burn inside me to teach and to talk about probably would not be favorably received... so where does this leave me?

Hope your holidays are goin well! Enjoy those good family times!

Roland said...

The base of a mountain in Southern California? :)

Wave to us...

Lisa said...

we'll wave back - honest

MamaRose said...

Chicka-chicka-bang-bang, huh??!!!!!
Is THAT what's it's called today? I was wondering--HA!!!!!!!!! That's PART of what VACATIONS ARE FOR!!!!!!!!!!!!! YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry to hear you've been in a 'weird season of spirit', lately.
IF we can help, at all, FEEL FREE to call or email us, any time!!!!!

God WANTS us to SEEK HIM & SEARCH for 'the meaning of Life', etc.--so, I believe you're 'doing' the RIGHT things!!!!!!!!!!

About turning down preaching--your choice, of course--BUT, you COULD 'just' preach 'STRAIGHT OUT OF THE WORD' on some subject that you believe your church might be NEEDING to hear--doesn't HAVE to be 'from your heart' every time!!!!

And, your Dad & I have found that AFTER Teaching for a while, it's ALWAYS GOOD to 'take some time off'--of teaching--you can get burned out really quickly, if you don't--well, that's how we feel/are, anyway.

Your kiddos answers to your question just SHOW the DIFFERENCE between a 6-year old & a 3-year old--and, then some of those 3-year old GUYS never grow up--HA!!!!

SEE! WHAT A GREAT 'JOB' you & Jamie are DOING--raising them??!!!!

I still say you SHOULD contact 'Carnegie/Mellon'--they've HAD your name, when they were GOING to ADMIT you there--for their EMPTY POSITION for that Professor--who WAS a comedian & a Psychology TEACHER!!!!!!!!!!!!! I bet they just MIGHT WELCOME you with OPEN ARMS--as HIS 'replacement'--I'm NOT kidding!

Once they 'found' him, he was 'gone' soon after--so, they would LOVE to have someone LIKE him, which you are, very much!!!!!!

They'd probably 'let' you 'do' some analyzing 'on the side', even!
ONCE they talk with you, ANYTHING is POSSIBLE!!!!!!!!!!! Give 'em a call--I'm SERIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
OR HARDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
OR anywhere else you might WANT to TEACH!!!!!!!!!!! YOU'D BE GREAT!!!
LOVE YA'LL BUNCHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

James W said...

I'm there with you on the "weird season of spirit". I have been in a funk for a while now and can not seem to shake it. I am sure a lot of my frustration is from these stupid cruches! Michael I would be sad to see you go, but I would have to agree with the others about your job. You are not where you are suppose to be. I see great things from you. You are a very special person that I am glad that I call friend. I'm always here for you.

Anonymous said...

As a fellow Dad, I love the fact that your post shows what a blessing kids can be.

With so much on the mind these days, it's easy to get wrapped up with jobs, economic issues, and even faith issues. Not that any of those things are trivial...but sometimes it's nice to be able to step back from that and have your kids point out the fact that in their world Christmas time is about "baking & eating cookies".


Thanks for sharing.

Redlefty said...

You guys rock. Really. I've been away three weeks, finally make a post, and in just hours several of you have dropped in with incredible insight and kindness. Thank you.

Roland/Lisa, we'll be at Lake Henshaw. Could you see our waves from there?

James, I'm glad to call you friend too. You choked me up with that one, man. And I hope we both keep on the path of giving more of ourselves to what we were made for.

Don/Andrew, thank you for your empathy. It's a tricky situation. I do feel that there's still a place for me at church; it's just going to take some time and patience to find it again. My class for the past six months was definitely the "right" place to be for that time, so I'm hopeful that the next place, or group, is on its way.

Or maybe the young couples' class already is the right group and I just need to change myself!

All these planks in my eye make it hard sometimes!

Logan said...

Glad to hear your alive there Mike, and glad to see your back! As always enjoyed reading your post...I look forward to hearing more!

Tit for Tat said...


Good post. I know the feeling, my take on life is like "surfing"

Sometimes riding the wave, sometimes crashing into shore,
Most times paddling to get another wave ;)

MamaRose said...

Well, I LEFT OUT the 'BOOM' & put in ONE TOO MANY 'chicka's'--sorry!

And, WAY TO GO, ya'll PAYING OFF YOUR CAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And, EARLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Guess you know, NO ONE does that, esp. THESE DAYS--that's VERY SPECIAL & shows ya'll are TRULY DISCIPLINED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OH, and about that guy at church--I DON'T AGREE WITH HIM, EITHER--he TOTALLY LEFT OUT SATAN & WHAT ALL he's DOING to/around us here on Earth THESE DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And, sometimes we 'suffer' because of our OWN mistakes & then sometimes, besides Satan, it IS just a 'things that were put into motion' MANY MOONS AGO!!!!!!!!!!!!--GRAVITY--IF we jump OFF a building, we're gonna FALL & most likely DIE!!!!!!!!!!!! SEE HOW MUCH HE LEFT OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SURELY SOMEONE spoke up & ADDED those things--RIGHT?????!!!!!!!!!!!
That's what YOU could have done!!!!
I would 'speak my mind', if I were you & IF they 'kick you out' they kick you out--but, they WON'T!!!!!!

ALSO--about your future--I definitely think a BOOK is in your future--so, IF you START WRITING THINGS DOWN--whatever you're thinking at the time--then, that could come about & then NO ONE KNOWS what GOD could BRING ABOUT after/through a BOOK--It MIGHT even MAKE the 'Book of the Month CLUB' on OPRAH--& DON'T FORGET YOUR MOTHER--IF she's still on the AIR--I'd LOVE to MEET HER!!!!!!!!!!
Well, even IF she isn't--ha!!!!!!

But, really--even if you end up teaching/preaching/doing stand-up--whatever--having things WRITTEN DOWN will HELP you with ALL THOSE!!

So, that's my 'advice' for today--START WRITING THINGS DOWN!!!!!!!!
OR in your computer, I mean, of course--not actual WRITING, unless that HELPS--sometimes it actually HELPS me get my thoughts OUT--to really WRITE THEM OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
LOVE YOU BUNCHES & BUNCHES & BUNCHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Can't WAIT to BE WITH ya'll NEXT FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Debby said...

Tim and I have always been frugal, and very careful. Now all of a sudden our lives are in complete chaos. Neither of us working. Insurance a big concern. Camcer. The one thing that we are sure of is that this is happening for a reason, and that we will see God work close up. So will you. Guarantee it.

And Michael? If God wants you preaching, you'll find no peace until you give in and do it. Our pastor came to the ministery late. He argued with God through Vietnam, through the recession in the 70s when he was losing his job every time he turned around. Nothing worked in his life. He finally gave up, sitting in his car in a steel mill parking lot.

Bob Barbanes said...

Michael, why do you feel such a pressure or responsibility to post? Just post when you want; we'll be here. But don't feel a need to post for the sake of posting.

I'm with Jack on the cookies thing. But if you'd asked me, the answer would've come out a muddled "Bay-eeting cookies!"

As for your church, I think you need to find a new one. Your spirituality has evolved beyond the realm of "ordinary" Bible-based Christianity. I predict that you'll find most conventional churches rather stifling. Perhaps you and Logan should talk? As young as he is, he's thought about God and religion about a million times more than I have.

Bottom line: Glad yer back. Keep us, umm, posted on what's going on in your life, eh?

Redlefty said...


You're both right that teaching is built into me and I shouldn't deny it. Jamie told me the same thing tonight. That's three smart ladies saying the same thing, so I'd better listen up!

Bob, while there are many things I'm sure I would enjoy about a UU-type environment, I truly believe there's still a place for me at my church. You've certainly given me some things to think (and blog) about though!

Bob said...

Glad to see you back, dude. Loved your post and the comments, especially your mom's, because they are such MOM words! Humor but not-so-subtle advice built in. I had a similar type mom and I miss her.

Churches are imperfect places because they're full of imperfect people. As frustrated as I get sometimes, I still need and long for that connection. I suspect that's what keeps you there.

One of these days you might feel OK about getting up and bearing your soul (preaching) and might be surprised at the results.

~aj~ said...

I thought it was FOUR smart ladies that thought you'd make a great teacher?!

Hello? Anyone? Anyone?

Moving on.... :)

This was one of those posts that had so much in it, I now can't remember what I was going to say. Maybe you were right with the 3 smart ladies afterall. ;)

One thing (of many) that I love about you Michael is your honesty. You've already done great things with your life and I have no doubt that more is in store no matter what path you go down.

In the meantime, enjoy the cocoa and eggnog!

Hal Johnson said...

Tasty post, Michael. Don't worry about posting regularly; I doubt anyone will forget about you.

And Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Hi Redlefty
I'm glad you did another post! I had been checking and hoping but then I went away on holidays with no access to a computer until I got home today and checked again and found a couple of new posts!
So often you express in words exactly what I've been dwelling on.
Anyway, my question is, you know how you wrote: "my evolved understanding of grace, and how it's changed my life and changed what I see as the Christian mission."
What do you think is the Christian mission now?