Monday, May 26, 2014

Struggle as Blessing

I was reclining in bed last night with MBWM, reading from the latest Ensign (That is ˈen-ˌsīn, the standard raised above a group, not \ˈen(t)-sən, the naval rank). This magazine frequently lifts my spirits. And I needed my spirits lifted. Three accounts in the red, automatic payments start coming out next week to push me further into the red. Cell phone and storage unit due in less than a week. Car payment due in two and a half weeks unless the bank will let me skip a payment. If they won't, then I'm going to have to sell the car. I don't want to. It was to be Asian Red Fox's in a year or so. And none of those financial woes are the biggie; rent. I'm not going to think about that one. The others induce melancholia well enough.

I have no prospects except to take up delivering papers again. We tried it for a couple weeks. It didn't go well and only grossed $43 for most of a day's work. It's not much, especially after all of the gas needed to retrieve and then deliver the papers, but it's something. And in the category of jobs known as "at least it's something," though I would never present that attitude before, during, or after holding the position, I've been turned down by Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and Pizza Hut. I say turned down, but really it's abject silence. Silence that has shown that I can't get a job at a call center, a convenience store, or as a delivery driver. I can't get back into ITT because their assessment says I won't be a good fit, even though I worked there for three years. I've tailored resumes in abundance to show how past responsibilities fit potential opportunities at a new company. I've researched shifting my career focus to put in the best phrases in my cover letters. Still, nothing. I cannot blame my weight because I've been offered a job for the only interview I've had in the last couple months. That was for a telemarketer position based on lies of omission and payment by commission. I'm still not sure which would have been more painful. I doubt I can blame my age, but it is one explanation for rejection at entry level positions. And since I only list the education they request, I can't blame that either. And really, there is a difference between explanation (why I don't have a particular job) and blame (which of my failing characteristics are responsible).

All of this heavy weariness caused by the situations I am experiencing and my reactions to them is by way of explanation of the articles I was reading in the aforementioned Ensign. I was feeling much better as I read. One led to contemplation of my own family history and how my father has done more along that vein than I have of late. Another article was on being compassionate and firm in living and displaying the standards I believe. But one article caused deeper contemplation than the others. The focus of the article was how the struggles of marriage are a blessing. That is something I believed even before I was married. Prior to being married, I had several married couples as friends. I would sometimes be called upon for advice. Strange to me for two reasons. First, I wasn't married. But second, my viewpoint frequently gave the couple something to ponder. Many times, after hearing what each had to say, I would say, "I wish I had that problem." They would look at my as though I had grown a second head (Thank you, Zaphod). I would then explain, "If I had that problem, then it would mean I was married." While this article was a little different in direction than my melancholic contemplations, it could well be said that struggles of any nature are a blessing. In the midst of the fight, it is frequently not easy for me to see the blessing. But there have been some. My temper has calmed down. I am still actively engaged in the fight against my personal demons within and demons without. And I still consider myself incredibly blessed by the family I have.

I think the realization came to me a little while ago that I can still make progress. While some of the imagery may not make sense to the non-LDS reader, I hope the feelings they convey will be understandable. I was in the temple berating my idiocy for being in the position I was. At the time, I was changing out of my temple clothes and into my church clothes at the temple in preparations for the journeys and activities still ahead of me. The position I was in included things like: Needing gas money from my elderly, fixed-income mother to be able to attend the temple, the inability to obtain even a "joe job," and other feelings of being beaten by life. And then it was pointed out (divinely, if you are so inclined as I am, or emotionally, if you are inclined in that direction), that here I was, living a life worthy to enter the temple, I had easy transportation to accomplish this glad duty of temple attendance, I would be heading to my assigned church house to practice the organ as a last minute substitute to bring my congregation together in worship, I had a key to the church house as a measure of trust in my willingness to serve, I had been advanced in the priesthood as a measure of the need to put my skills to work for the Kingdom, and I was sure to be successful in my efforts of family, priesthood, church, temple, civic, and financial responsibilities. It was only a matter of time and effort. I have plenty of the former. And a willingness for the latter.

All this contemplation means I am still everything I have been, I am, and I am working to become. Melancholy at facing another day of job searching combined with the exciting, urgent requests by my Iguana, Jaguar, and Lemur to watch me play video games. The depressing knowledge that my money pit of a financial situation is getting worse combined with uplifting certainty that I will dig myself out of this hole once again. The uncertainty of how much more time and effort must pass before I build the opportunity to put my talents, education, and skills to work and the knowledge that this too shall pass.

Yours in the quiet, contemplative life,


In honor of Memorial Day 2014, I had hoped to offer an editorial cartoon. But all of the ones I located concerning Memorial Day connected the topic of today to the VA troubles. That is not a tack I would take personally, but I am impressed by the artistic and political deftness these artists presented. Instead, I offer an oft quoted poem from WWI.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

- Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918), Canadian Army

Whether the foe is the specific combatant each died fighting,
     the nation, emblem, or cause each gave their "last full measure of devotion" in an effort to defeat,
          or the most painful enemy of all, war itself,

The torch is still offered,
     The light cannot be hid,
          Each one of us is called upon to lift it

How high will you raise the torch to show how willing you are to keep the faith?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Early Morning Religious Thoughts

What makes a morning an early morning lately is not the hour, but the level of exhaustion that starts the days. I have been attempting to fight that exhaustion with little success. I suspect that the weight increase I have experience has made my aging CPAP machine less effective. But I rise early this day in both hour and exhaustion with purpose. I am heading to the easily available (to me) spiritual experience known as the temple. It is amazing to me that there is a place with I can have instant access to a deep, personal moment to commune with the divine that allows for more open communication between my spirit and The Spirit. That is not to say that I am always ready for the answers I seek or even receive answers. Last Tuesday I went with my congregation excited by the opportunity proposed by this quote:
I can promise you that if you will go to Him in prayer and ask what He would have you do next, promising that you will put His kingdom first, He will answer your prayer and He will keep His promise to add upon your head blessings, enough and to spare. - Henry B. Eyring
I heard that quote by a young man teaching my congregation last Sunday. And MBWM and I were both drawn to it. That prayer was raised nearly hourly after I heard it. And it was the prayer in my heart as I approached the temple earlier this week. I am drawn to the peace, love, joy, and other supernal sublime experiences that await there. That is not to say I received an answer on what to do next in my job search, for that was my specific prayer. I couldn't even be sure that what I had done in my job search was pleasing unto the Lord. But I did receive the assurance when I wondered if I should even be in the Lord's presence as manifest in his Holy House, I received a powerful witness that I was where I should be.

I write about the temple this morning because I eagerly await MBWM. I am hopeful she is coming with me, but she has been in bad shape this last few days. She is attempting to push through the pain to see if she is able to attend. If she had already informed me that she wasn't going, this entry would have been an after-the-fact posting.

And so I am going to race off to make breakfast. Whether she goes or not, we need to eat.

Yours in the hopeful gratitude of the relationship[s the Lord encourages,


May I remind you that when we dedicate a house to the Lord, what we really do is dedicate ourselves to the Lord’s service, with a covenant that we shall use the house in the way he intends that it shall be used. - Joseph Fielding Smith, "Ogden Temple Dedicatory Prayer," Ensign, Mar. 1972, 6.

MBWM is unable to attend with me, so I am running off, regretfully, without her. I hope I can bring the Spirit of the Temple back home with me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Thoughts for Me to Ponder Today

My eyes have scanned passed the tab that shows, "Blogger: Never Ceases to Amuse Me," many times. Yesterday, my fingers opened tabs that grouped the Blogger tab near tabs for "Sample Ballots," "May 21st elections | KTVB Boise," and other tabs for specific candidates and issues in yesterday's primary. They are still open this morning. I have yet to see the outcomes. And just beyond them are tabs that exercised my eyes, my fingers, and my intellect. They were multiple tabs for each web site like CareerBuilder, Monster (including an article Perceived as Overqualified -What Now?), specific companies (research and job postings), and online searches of job requirements (Workforce Management Body of Knowledge Erlang C, for example). And behind all of this was a wrestling match of responsibilities: Weight, Health, Unemployment, Each Kid, Wife, Church. And referring the match was my Lack of Interest. Not really apathy. I just not really concerned, for good or ill, about the outcome. I don't believe I have actually reached depressed. I still keep up on dishes and poopy diapers. I manage squabbles and chores among the kids. I watched barely over an hour of television yesterday. (The last 20 minutes of The Voice didn't really have any meaning for me, but for Asian Red Fox, it was quite different. It was fun sharing that with her.). And while I did play computer games, I advanced slowly through the levels, with an abundance of long pauses to get back to work.

All of this review of yesterday was to begin to bring to pass the follow-thru the feeling that I need to turn things around. I"m not sure how, but I need to. To accomplish the turn around, I am going to look today at some of the thoughts I've had -

  • Fight my Lack of Interest with faith. I am going to read more books, scriptures, and articles. Yesterday, I started to read:
  • Perform an experiment inadvertently suggested by an OA leader.
    • Looking right at me during a meeting, he said, "You cannot self-sponsor".
    • Though he didn't mention it, in the meeting or after, it has been getting around OA that I still do not have a sponsor. Several people have even called me on it. I have said I am prayerfully considering it. And I am.
    • But there has been this internal struggle caused by people I have met that have walked away from 12 Step programs (AA, NA, and OA, most notably) and still maintained their abstinence from addictive behavior. This has created the drive to follow in their footsteps.
    • All of these people had two primary characteristics in common (There were others, but those details are for another entry)
      • They understood the 12 Steps and their relevance in their life (Hence my continued appearance at the nearest of the distant meetings at least once a week as gas allows)
      • Deeply spiritual experiences were a frequent occurrence in their lives (Which I hope to encourage by weekly attendance at the temple as gas allows)
    • The experiment is to see if I can, in fact, self-sponsor. Thanks Dave for the idea. This is the only challenge that has piqued my interest
  • Expand my educational horizons.
    • Several weeks ago, I was between two interviews (Central Payment for sales and then ITT for teaching). 
    • I went to the library nearest ITT and there commenced with job searching. While entering, I noticed some artwork in beautiful black and white ink. Each one extolled some artist or writer.
    • One of them was Jalal ad-Dīn Muhammad Rumi (usually just Rumi in the US). I hadn't read him in some time, so before leaving for my job interview, I ordered a couple book to be sent to the branch I most often near: A biography on Rumi and one of his works. They were the smaller ones available in those categories. I am still job searching, after all. I have completed nearly half of the biography.
  • Blog: Just Do It
    • Blogging is good for reviewing my thoughts. I may not have delved into my more troubling thoughts. I may not have noticed those thoughts most in need of being reviewed. But thinking through the day, journaling, as it were, was helpful
    • Somehow restart the weekly review of my progress.
  • Food selection
    • Better quantity: I've begun reducing firsts and avoiding seconds (usually)
    • Better quality: Picking choices that would be fewer PPV if I were tracking
    • No money = No junk
    • Locate the motivation to track once again. I have all of the tools. I need to use them. It just seems so difficult right now.
I'm in a tough spot. I've gained enough weight that I can no longer use my scale. And even if I could, I wouldn't want to step on it right now. I have enough things telling me the weight is coming back on. Most notably, my white pants I only wear at the temple. Of all of my victories undone, that is the most painful.

But the morning presses upon me. I have to upload resumes to work on while I am away from the house. Thank you government for the local library systems and their computers. Thank you online systems that allow me to edit, refine, and tailor using only a web browser.

Yours in the certainty that this too can be overcome,



The lover’s cause is separate from all other causes
Love is the astrolabe of God's mysteries. - Rumi