Sunday, January 14, 2018

Not a Question of Faith

Mind if I ramble about religion for a second?

Succinctly, for the last ten years, I've found that I hate it more or less.

While I do believe in God - because I do believe something is out there - I don't believe in it in the way it's been poorly presented in church. It doesn't help that I've grown to pretty much hate the institution of church. In my experience, and in my opinion, it works as an commercial institution first and a congregation of people last. Most churches who carry the badge of evangelical often are 'charismatic' churches with lots of sweating, shaking, tongues and doe-eyed congregational members locked-kneed at whatever the pastor says. And the churches that claim to be 'relaxed' and do not follow those practices, often give nothing of substance in their lessons that I couldn't gain on my own.

After years of actually reading the Bible, and years of watching people corrupt others' faith through religion, I don't think I can stand by it any longer. I don't hold anything against anyone who enjoys church; I'm happy for them to have found a place that brings them solace and joy each week. (Honestly some days I miss the weekly ritual, but I'm just as happy to sleep in.) It's an easily accessible fact that you don't need church to have faith - churches are meant to serve the people and bring them closer in the community.

Churches, however, rarely do that any longer. They spend more time requesting that the people serve it, gaining money for itself and never reaching out beyond its walls. I grew up in the Bible belt; I saw it with every church I attended. Either they never fed their congregation in sermon, or they didn't feed the people of the streets. Sometimes both. I saw churches gain millions in tithes and instead of putting that back into the community, they just expanded or rebuilt parts of their buildings that were standing strong. I watched that same church have the highest dropout rate and drug rate in the county in their private schooling system. It just never felt genuine. And my family has been a member of a church that tried to force my father to pay 10% of his income when we were beyond poor and unable to do so.

After years of enduring that, but still believing there was something to it, I've finally had to face the music: there isn't. There is value to such gatherings and small groupings of people. You find a safe space and a home with each other. But I highly doubt I'll find my place there again. Which after being so heavily tied into the church - there two to three times a week every week from the age of 3 to 23, it's hard to imagine it just completely gone from my life.

But I'm happy to have a relationship with God that isn't built around guilt of 'not talking enough', 'not giving enough', 'cursing too much' or 'being too human'. I'm happier with the idea that God just loves me. And that he didn't come into the world and create the world just so people will serve him. But that rather we're all just here under a myriad of weird forces, and it's okay if we just want to live our lives. We have a free will to choose our own path, and I can't imagine a benevolent God that asks us to be only one type of person in order to be accepted into his secret club, when there is a world full of very good people doing very honest things for each other who also deserve some solitude in the end.

I don't know, I'm just rambling. But it's been a while since I've mentioned my faith here, and where I stand. So I wanted to say, yes, I still believe in God, but I don't care about denomination or religion anymore. And I'm okay with just leaving all of that out of it.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A *Chili* Christmas Eve




Y'all, past Jen did future Jen a solid on this Christmas Eve. Last night I got a hankering for chili - as I often do this time of year. So I made a huge Crock-pot full of vegetarian chili (if only I had had black beans, red kidney beans and okra to top it off, though).

Unbeknownst to me, however, the universe had plans for a White Christmas right here in my little city. I have to work this holiday - as I often do - and when I got out of my office at 6 p.m., it was snowing fairly hard and had already managed to stick a couple of inches. The forecast only says it will be about 2 inches at most, but still, I'm excited.

Because I mostly use the city bus to-and-from work, I had a beautiful walk to the bus stop and home this evening. And then I topped it off with some of that chili:



You can find out more about this recipe, and foods I'm making and eating, on my new cooking blog Thyme and Again. I revamped what I had originally, behind-the-scenes, been doing. I finally feel good about this approach.

Obviously I'm still here, and on my website, but feel free to check out what I'm cooking there.~

Merry Christmas everyone (happy holidays if you don't celebrate Christmas, and be safe and merry if you don't do holidays). You're awesome and you deserve an awesome end to the year. Get some chili and snuggle in a blanket.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Dwelling in December

Some days you feel just down. Even with the holiday hype around, it's hard not to get caught up in the low-lighting of December. I know I've been in real threat of low energy and lethargy. Recently, I had been so far out of my regular sleeping patterns that I was becoming a much less fun Jennifer. Luckily I fixed that last night with 12 hours of sleep, so some things do turn around in time. And despite that it's 1:11 a.m. as I write this, I still have enough energy to say, "Hi!" to you all, and study Japanese before bed. I've decided that one of my goals for 2018 will be to take the JLPT for the first level. It's hosted a couple of times a year here, so I'm going to prepare for whichever isn't too close that I feel unprepared for the content.

Other than that, I'm just hoping to kick ass, take names and make sure I'm happy and healthy in 2018. Do you have any crazy goals this next year? Got any good holiday plans? Stay safe out there, and don't let December's cold wintery winds bring you down, slugger.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Coffee and Writing




I worry that in writing this, I'll be giving away a secret that would be better kept under my hat, but I found the perfect writing spot today, and I really just want to shout out my neighborhood cafe: River Trail Roasters.

River Trail Roasters is a place that I have been wanting to go to ever since I heard about them earlier in the year. I believe they technically opened last June or July, but they have the best atmosphere and seating. A lot of places that I love in town are honestly too distracting. They're setup for canoodling and mingling, but I need a place that lets me be at peace and think.

I sat down with a lavender and honey latte at 1 p.m., and around 2:30 p.m. I grabbed a vegan wrap I had been eyeing since I came through the door. The seating has cozy, small tables around as well as a bar, where I sat, that looks out onto the street. The best part is because of how the place is setup, even when there's a line, it never feels suffocating or like there is too much going on.

For NaNoWriMo today, while sitting there for a couple of hours, I managed 1,200 words. I'm serious, if you want a delicious drink or snack, and a good place to read, write or mingle with one or two friends, you should check out River Trail Roasters in downtown. I didn't feel like anyone was intruding on anyone else there, and there was enough space to spend time there without feeling like a bad patron.

(But seriously, if you take up space in a cafe, make sure you're buying something at least once every couple of hours or so so you're not being unfair to them.)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

NaNoWriMo - Femme Trash is hosting virtual write-ins this year!



Femme Trash is giving you the opportunity to write with us this year as we hustle through NaNoWriMo and try to complete our novels!

Subscribe to us, and we'd love to hear how your NaNoWriMo is going this year. Keep us updated: