Thursday, July 31, 2008

New Path - Day 1

Slept til noon.
Watched some dumb tv.
Can't seem to get going.
Doesn't seem like an auspicious start.
Shit.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Back in the right direction

Mr. Goat is in the middle of the exam even as we speak and thanks you all for the well wishes. Day one went ok and while it is an awful experience (he likens it to hazing) hopefully it will all work out. I'm off for the rest of the week and we'll have some time to do some cleaning, some relaxing together and some visioning for the future. Jobs need to be found (or kept) and I'm really looking forward to getting the bar over with and having my husband back. Now we'll be able to keep better schedules where we can actually see each other regularly and not have to worry about at least the particular stress of the bar exam.

Tonight we party! And tomorrow is a new path for us. Hopefully a job is on the horizon that will be good for both of us. Despite everything that has happened in the last weeks I feel tenatively confident that God has something great in store for us. I don't know what, but I am trying to be open to the possiblities. Naturally this assurance comes and goes and sometimes I'm feeling panic and anxiety instead but mostly I feel like things can only improve for us!

Thank you all for the great thoughts and prayers in the last weeks. It has been crazy and will continue to be but we are moving forward together and that feels wonderful. We are at the end of four year journey (from LSAT to Bar Exam) and it is really exciting to figure out what is next.

Some of the key goals for us both...

1. Jobs - we probably need these to fund our fabulous law-school-free life!
2. Gym and Diet - Yay for getting to work on these together now. Bar studying doesn't lend itself to healthy habits.
3. Housing - Find a job, know where we need to look, and find a place (hopefully a house but it depends).
4. Family expansion? - Who knows. But we are one step closer.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hey you! Yeah, you! With that mouse in your hand!

If you don't mind, I would love anyone and everyone to de-lurk on Monday and comment on this post for my dear Mr. Goat. The Bar exam is Tuesday and Wednesday and he and his whole class of friends need all the good thoughts you can muster blogland. So please stop by and wish Mr. Goat and his friends luck. I'm looking forward to it all being done but not as much as he is!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Its been...a week.

Wow. It has been an emotional stress-coaster around here lately. The questions of my job, the horribly bad church politic-y way it is being handled, a bar exam in 4 days, several weekends at camp, too much fast food on the run, and on it goes. It shows no signs of stopping soon. Sure the bar will be over next week but then we'll have job searches and probably still no concrete answers to what to do about my whole job thing.

And yet?...

I am feeling oddly great today. Maybe it is because I actually was home. I did a little cleaning, got caught up on a few dumb tv shows. I got my oil changed and went to the gym for my little test. (Imagine, I'm FAT and eating LESS will help me LOSE weight. i never knew :D! Sorry -the test went fine and gave me more specific numbers about eating and exercising and such so it was good all in all). I did some laundry and made dinner (ok, it wasn't fancy dinner but at least I made it). My parents called and they liked my blog poem, which I'm sort of fond of too. And now Dr. Who is tivo-ing and I have plans for mini golf tomorrow and things are looking up.

There is so much to be decided in the next few weeks that a day to just do some of the nitty-gritty life stuff felt so good. The piles are still huge and the apartment is still a mess, but they are slightly less huge and messy than they were before.

Oh, and I could have caffeine again after my test. Mmmmm. Sweet, sweet Caffeine. There are so many issues to face before I tackle that addiction and it was nice to have a diet coke again, even after a 48 hr hiatus.

Its true that tomorrow may be crappy once more but tonight I'm going to finish the laundry, have some ice cream and be happy with a good day. The diet (among other things) starts tomorrow!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

An attempt to forget my caffeine headache

I need to learn to lay off the diet coke more often, but not to the point where I get such a headache! Anyway, here is a meme to try to take my mind of the pain! Enjoy. I don't like tagging people, but if you want to do it anyway have fun!

How to do this your very own self:
A. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
B. Using only the first page, pick an image.
C. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into the mosaic maker. Choose 3 columns with 4 rows.

The Questions:
1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word that describes you?
12. Your favorite animal?

Glossary
1. Liz
2. Cheese
3. Neenah
4. Green
5. Colin Firth (aka Mr. Darcy!)
6. Diet Coke
7. Europe by Train
8. Bailey's Chocolate Mousse Cake
9. Published
10. Mr. Goat
11. Geek
12. Big Cats

The individual photos:
1. liz lemon, 2. "I, PiĆ³rko, like Cheese!", 3. Lightning, 4. Meeting the pregnant princess of the forest, 5. Colin_Firth_003, 6. Birthday Bomb, 7. Green station, 8. Chocolate Japanese Sake Cake, 9. Published, 10. Billy Goat Gruff, 11. are ya' feelin' lucky?, 12. Two of a kind - Sumatran Tiger Cubs @ Washington DC / US National Zoo

Caffeine Free

So I've got this thing at the gym tomorrow measuring my oxygen and metabolism for working out to get a good plan of how to exercise my body most efficiently. That's all good and fine and I'm hoping it will give some good info to figure out quality workouts for me. BUT, as a result of that test I'm off caffeine for the whole day before the test. Consequently no caffeine today and its 1:20 and I'm starting to really feel it. Darn that Diet Coke addiction. I have a Caffeine Free Diet Coke to get into and I'm hoping for a little placebo effect. Ugh.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Words to live by.

There is something about trial to put things in perspective. As I have been wrapped up and analyzing my hurt and despair in the goings on of the church I am perpetually running into words, thoughts and actions by others that make me feel better. Dear Mr. Goat has been wonderful. My friends are loudly outraged on my behalf. And there are words of advice in the oddest places. Today, visiting a blog I only occasionally read (a friend of another blogging friend Emilie) these words popped up on the screen. They were not shared for the same reason that they struck me today, but they made me feel better so I'll share them with you too.

Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Connections

A ring.
A call.
A voice.
Checking in, that's all.

Are you doing ok?
Ok.
And you?
Studying hard.
Nothing new.
I'm so proud of you.

We'll pull through.

I know that you can.
I know you can too.

A week.
A month.
We don't know when.
We'll pull through this stress.
Doors will open again.

Give it time.
Bar's will end.
Worries too.

In between...

Connections.

Small moments of love.

Shared stress.
Shared joy.
Shared life.

Making it ok to carry on.
Facing those mountains.

Of books.
Of demands.
Of hopes and dreams.

It is never as bad as it seems.

When there is...

A ring.
A call.
A voice.
Checking in, that's all.

Are you Ok?
Ok.
And you?
Making Due.

I love you.
I love you too.

I know that with you.
We'll pull through.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Gun-shy

There are hurts that only a place or people that you care about can cause. Despite some struggles with some people in the church I care for the greater church and my own little congregation. There are kids I want to see grow up and I want to help give them a wonderful church to grow up in.

But for all this caring, there is the natural correlation that they have the ability to hurt me. Since the ball dropped last week I'm feeling so paralyzed here at this church. I'm staring at my piles wondering if I can do them justice or if they will just serve as reasons to give me the boot. I look at job descriptions online wondering if I can apply to them or if I am just going to run into the same problems I have here. I wonder if I should just find a job selling shoes or something and give up church work entirely. I wonder if I should walk before they have a chance to fire me and I wonder if they really want to get rid of me at all. I wonder who it is who is lying to me, since not all the stories line up.

But I also wonder if it is really just me. Maybe I have all these problems they say I do.

But at the same time, I'm always upfront about my growing edges. I work on them. I strive to improve in my job, aware of my inexperience but also aware of the gifts I am able to bring. I know that if I were a volunteer doing the same thing I do now I would be lauded rather than punished. I don't ever want to believe that I have nothing to improve upon and in the past I have taken criticism with a large attempt at grace and dignity, but now I was bypassed entirely and all attempts for me to handle the complaints with dignity and grace were taken away before I even knew there were complaints to work on. We skipped right to consequences.

Maybe it is time to move on, but I don't know where. Maybe it is time to stand up and fight to make THIS church better than it is, even with some obvious opposition. Maybe there is some other option entirely. I want to seek a path that I believe God has for me, but I'm standing in the middle, timid from the criticism and the unknown, not knowing which way to turn.

And I'm striving to be a good wife for my bar-destined husband. In just 8 days that test begins - something he has been working towards since he took the LSAT 4 years ago. In all this, I'm trying to still be good to my body and continue my work at the gym and on my diet. And I'm trying to re-dream what could be my vocation.

But on a Monday with hurt feelings and worries about the future it is all I can do to be out of bed and here at work looking at my piles, paralyzed by what the next months hold, desperately praying for strength for me and my husband, for a smooth bar exam, for new and unexpected job opportunities for both of us, for support in unlikely places.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Fight or Flight?

I'm being churched. The senior pastor and personnel committee acting on complaints I never received nor had an opportunity to respond too think I need improvement in a variety of vague areas, such as, I am too "private."

I have 75 days to shape up and jump through their hoops, only to be evaluated by the same nebulous concepts/complaints that got me here in the first place.

Now the question is whether to jump through the flaming hoops to their goal only to possibly be fired anyway/have this happen again when someone decides they don't like me or to simply walk away on my own terms and spend the majority of these days looking for a new job.

Not a question I wanted to be facing with a husband prepping for the bar and with no job of his own.

There are a host of hugely inappropriate and suspicious facts that go with this situation which I am just too hurt and angry and "private" to go into on the blog right now, but that's the gist of my life this week.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go prep for a weekend up at camp with the families that seem to want me fired. Woo-F-ing-Hoo.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Today via motivational posters






It's been a fun day. Don't worry, I haven't been fired. I'm just lost amidst the church bureaucracy process of self improvement. I'll be sure to run away if the oompa loompa's start singing. In the meantime...in your best Gene Wilder or Johnny Depp...

Who knows which way we're going
Or where the chocolate river is flowing
I don't think that we're slowing
But there is know way of knowing
It might as well be snowing
How my headache is growing....

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Not the only one.

Well, I'm home from camp. I've been up there since Thursday to keep an eye on my church campers and to try to revive myself. The verdict? I'm a bit sunburned, really tired and feeling a bit calmer than I did earlier this week. As always there are a few other people with jobs similar to me up their during the week and it is a time to really hear that my problems with church work are really found in limitless variations in all sorts of churches. They are never quite the same concerns but the players and themes are the same: complaining parents, disrespectful and/or unrealistic clergymen, scary personel committees, long hours and little pay. It is like everyone in my career is simultaneously weighing the joy of working with kids in the church with all the excess baggage that comes with a congregation. Every single colleague up at camp with me this week was in the process of wondering whether it was time to move on or reevaluate their career path.

It blows my mind that so many children/youth workers share these frustrations. I've had a frustrating time at work this month in particular and I'm just saddened that I am not alone. I mean, I'm pleased to know that it isn't necessarily me that is the cause of church problems since other people have the same frustrations and issues and they have been in these careers longer than I. But, it is so depressing knowing that good people dedicated to the church and the lives of the children of the church are being constantly pushed away by the very people who should support them - their pastors and the parents they serve.

I have wondered what my breaking point is in this job, or at this church. Some days are great, and others...not so much. This is apparently true for all people who work at church, including the pastors I know but how healthy is it that we work in a job that pushes the limits of our happiness and patience on a regular basis.

I know that all jobs have frustrations but perhaps the church isn't caring for those who try to care for the children in our churches. We are called to be flawless event planners, organized but free-spirited, discerning, devoted and empowering. We are called to be giving of our time and money because there isn't enough of the latter to pay for the former. We are asked to create programs that are fun, but not TOO fun, that are educational but not TOO boring, that are theologically sound but developmentally appropriate. We are asked to educate parents how to pass on faith, to run a cache of volunteers, both giving them the tools and support they need but not micromanaging too much, all while being an active member of the congregation as well.

Now I know that this list is no different really than that of pastors, or other church workers. And I'm sure every job has its variations on these themes, but why is it that SO many colleagues are frustrated by all the same things that make work a challenge for me. My colleagues have different strengths than I do and some of the critiques we recieve are different but the message is so often the same.

In Seminary they spent a lot of time talking with the future pastors about self -care. They knew that church workers have a tendency to give too much of themselves to the church. And we do have trouble with it. But it seems that we need to be educating our congregations about what it means to be faithful, grace-filled members of the church. We need to demand high quality of course, but at some point every problem in the church cannot be blamed on the nearest children's education director, or youth director, or pastor. At some point it needs to be mutual respect and work for the growth of the church.

Otherwise I fear we are a dying breed. And that would be a shame because my colleagues and I love "our" kids and love the church. And we would be missed.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Against All Odds

Yesterday I lost my sunglasses. My EXPENSIVE, "I'm NOT going to lose these sunglasses" Sunglasses.

But amazingly enough, I called the store where I thought I lost them and low and behold they were turned in. Some nice person didn't swipe them for themselves but turned them in instead. Now I just have to go back to the store and pick them up.

I was bummed at losing them because I'd taken such good care of them so far, and I'm glad to have another chance. It is HARD to find good sunglasses I like and I'm glad I don't have to go back to the cheap target pairs until I am responsible enough for the expensive ones again! :)

Thank you nice citizen or employee. You made my day!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Blogging - Year 3

Just over two years agao I began this little blog. I didn't know what I intended with it but it served as a good place to practice my writing, share my thoughts and keep the people who care up-to-date on our lives. And so, two years ago, one of my first posts of any consequence was written on my experiences in Mr. Goat's home town on the 4th of July. I remember being both moved and annoyed by the patriotism of the 4th of July.

Two years later, I don't feel like I have a handle on a good balance how to be patriotic but we found ourselves back that same small town for the 4th of July again this year. It was Mr. Goat's sister's last year marching in the parade, and since Mr. Goat has a full two day practice bar exam this weekend we took a few hours break to head down there and watch the parade and have lunch. We came back this evening so that Mr. Goat could study a bit more, but it was a good day.

I am tomato red - having forgotten to put on sunscreen - and have lovely sunglasses lines on my face. Our fried food quotient was high, the cards were good, the sightings of people we knew were plentiful. And of course, there was the parade. A small town parade is nothing if not a study in the bizzare. I don't know how the traditions all get started but this particular parade doesn't seem to vary much either year, but I offer a few pictures to help you get a glimpse of the 4th of July in small town America.
All parades start with the color guard. Hats are removed and everyone stands up. So far my patriotism level is high and I'm feeling good.


Then of course, come the fire trucks, lots and lots of firetrucks. Most of them are really loud and the kids either love them or hate them - but either way they gladly accept their candy.

There are always a few marching bands - we had 3 1/2 this year. Here is Little Sister Goat marching with her piccolo.

Our 1/2 of a marching band was the Lutheran Summer Music Kids from the college summer camp. They formed a marching kazoo band that kazoo-ed hymns.

After the firetrucks and the bands come the candidates. The DFLers came first, out in full force to try to garner votes for the local candidates, Franken and of course, Obama.

Unlike 2 years ago, Al Franken was not present at the parade, but his son Joe was, complete with a handy sign just to make sure everyone knew!

I'm sorry, I didn't take pictures of the republicans, though I suppose I should have to offer equal blog time, but you know what. I'm a DFLer and so therefore I shall put just who I please on my blog!

Following the candidates, in the mix of the radio stations, small local businesses and clubs, comes a parade favorite...The Shriners! That mysterious club derived from the Freemasons that is best known for their little red fez's and little mini cars with formation driving in parades.

Then of course, there are horses, whose main job is to um, mess up the road at inopportune times while pulling...
The local area polka band! Ok, technically a cornet band, but in WI where I am from that counts as a polka band.
And just when I think my good patriotic feelings will last the parade, then come the churches. In particular, the local Assembly of God church whose idea of evangelism is investing in a spendy yellow convertible Jesus-mobile. Oh, and putting up a GIANT bouncy obstacle course in the park. While blasting praise music and passing out pamphlets, I feel the blur of church and state begin and my good patriotic feelings fade. And yet, I suppose since it isn't the only church in the parade that the freedom of religion stays strong. Poor Mr. Goat watched the parade, and still studied. And then studied a bit more. But at least he was studying outside, with cheesecurds and family surrounding him.

Oh, and just one shot before you all go. I made Mr. Goat try on his sisters marching hat just to see what he would have looked like in his marching days. He was less than thrilled at reliving the experience for my photo op!


All in all, it was a good 4th of July. Perhaps because I have yet to have the church service with our patriotic hymns I'm in a more generous mood. Or maybe it was the mini-donuts or the sunburn burning into my skull. But on this birthday of a nation, and a sort of blogiversary I'm still thankful for free speech, and freedom of religion and a hope that tomorrow will be a better one for our nation and the world.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - Edition 4




Thirteen Things that make me smile!

1. Mr. Goat aka Hubby

2. My cats chasing a laser pointer.

3. A cold Diet Coke!

4. Finishing a workout (definitely not starting one though!)

5. A great book and a stormy morning to read in bed.

6. Cheesy Science Fiction - Star Trek: TNG, Stargate, Dr. Who, etc.

7. Babies

8. Beating family members or friends in cards or other games! (Competitive much? Who me?)

9. A beautiful lake and a quiet spot to think.

10. A boat ride on that same beautiful lake.

11. Train-chasing with my husband and his family. (What is train-chasing you ask? It is just want it says, chasing a train. Typically done when a classic steam engine is out for an excurison, you drive to a great spot to watch it pass, take photos, and then speed ahead of it and do it again. Surprisingly fun!)

12. Desserts of all varieties!

13. A starry night sky far away from the light pollution.


Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!



Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Butt officially kicked

I went to meet with my trainer last night and while she was understanding of my "life gets in the way" gym reality for June she didn't hold back planning my schedule for the next month. A day after my workout with her I'm sore, can barely walk and have achieved a brand new level of physical exhaustion. I hate it and I love it too. I am at least back on the right track and I'm heading out today to limp my way through a workout to try to stretch out my sore muscles. I did very little for my planned work day but if I can do her workout I know I can do my own too.

Now if only I could get the thought of donuts out of my head. Curse you late night donut throwdown on the food network!!!

EDITED TO ADD: Well, I'm back from the gym. Still sore and still channeling Homer Simpson but glad I went.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Goat Family News

Gosh, where has the time gone. Already it is July 1st and the summer is a third over and it seems like it has hardly begun. Life is that weird mix of busy and calm that only seems to come around in the summer and I'm definitely getting a vacation itch, but we'll see if we can afford to scratch that one or not.

In Goat Family News this week...

* LOCAL NEWS: With our entry into July, the Bar Exam is officially this month. This is both crappy as it is a nasty test with important career results, but it is also good because it means that the end of the studying and stressing is coming soon as well. While I know that it is much much worse for Mr. Goat as the actual test taker, I'm suffering from residual stress and the unique stress that comes with knowing I can't really do anything to help the situation.

* LOCAL NEWS: VBS is wrapped up. The 80 thank you notes have been written and got into the mail today, and while my office is still a mess we are now looking forward to camp and other summer activities, and of course to fall programming.

*SPORTS: Against all rational thought I have taken up golf. I think I must secretly want to bring some comic relief to the stressed-out golfers who see me hacking away at a golf ball with my grandmother's ancient set of clubs. And yet, my swearing at the ball and my terrible aim aside, it is really fairly fun and it is a nice way to spend an afternoon with my husband. Now that it is getting hot and sticky out I don't know if my interest will dwindle somewhat as I don't really like the heat but there you go.

*HEALTH AND FITNESS: In related news, the gym attempts have lame at best. I've been struggling with stress, illness and just general desire to do other things. I've got my monthly trainer session today and while I feel guilty enough about my lack of gym-ing that I'd love to cancel, I also am looking forward to getting a new monthly plan and recommitting to my fitness goals. The diet has been equally squalid lately too, but I am currently contemplating a "week of chicken" to try to reset my wacky food issues and begin eating chicken again since it is a good protein for weight loss. (I've got a bit of a phobia about chicken and it has lead to just a general dislike of it. But, this is not helpful for the diet or general food consumption so it needs fixing.)

*ARTS: If anyone likes band concerts with lovely Patriotic music and wants to come to one of the concerts we've got next week let me know. There is one on Monday (7/7) in Plymouth and one on Wednesday (7/9) in Edina. They should be good fun concerts and outdoors so they are very family friendly. If you want to know the specifics you can visit the band website.

*TRAVEL: I don't know if we will be doing much traveling this summer. We hope to go to Milwaukee to visit some friends and family, but other than that we are trying to figure out if we can afford to go anywhere or not. I have made a new poll on the side of the blog if you guys want to share what your vacation plans are this summer. We are currently open to suggestions for a way for a fun weekend away after the dreaded bar exam!