In the South, there are bugs.

Had to get up around 4:30 this morning to meet Jeff in the driveway: he was kind enough to take some paperwork to Wilmington for me concerning my short-term disability. I stayed up sipping coffee and reading from Job, Isaiah and Psalms, then I got a shower and prepared to go to the dentist.

According to the dentist I have no cavities or concerns other than some minor gum recession. When I got home from the dentist I felt very tired and went back to bed for awhile.

Spent some time today reading and watching the Ken Burns documentary, The West. The kids are camping out behind the church tonight. It is in the 40s tonight — I hope they stay warm. I stopped by the church around 8 for a s’more and to say hey to people there.

Overall I am feeling very grouchy and uninspired this evening.

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In the coastlands.

Three twenty-one in the P.M. here in the coastlands on this weekday of Thor, 17 December 2015. I am sipping Maxwell House dark roast and mulling over options as to how I will spend the rest of this day.

This morning I awoke around 6:30 and read in Job and Psalms before calling my supervisor, who had attempted to call me yesterday. He asked some questions about customer contracts, then proceeded to ream me out over the fact that my company car was late getting serviced. I tried to explain that I have been out sick for the past two-and-a-half weeks and was therefore not responsible for making sure the car was serviced, but he continued to be threatening in tone, implying that I would receive corrective action if this ever happened again. After I got off the phone, I told Sikki I was in trouble for something that occurred at work, though I haven’t been at work for nearly three weeks. She wasn’t even surprised. I thought about calling his boss, but decided I’d cool off first since I was pretty riled up.

I prayed about it. The Lord is a God of knowledge and nothing is hidden from Him. Being attacked for something that isn’t my fault in light of my recent prayers seems like it should hold some meaning. I am a servant and a son, so I quickly turned the anger over to Him, and the unfairness, and the sheer strangeness of the accusation. All of it. I asked Him for wisdom in what, if anything, I should do about it.

I went to the doctor for followup this morning and explained that my lungs are still funky and I’m crazy tired and short-of-breath. He is keeping me out of work until I see the pulmonologist on the 23rd. I was in the waiting room for an unusually long time and happened to look over the past several text exchanges I’ve had with my supervisor. Surprisingly (and ass-coveringly), I had texted him on my way to hospital 15 days ago, 12/2/15 at 3:30 P.M.:

“My car is due for service.”

For a minute I thought I’d email a screenshot to human resources and his boss and everyone and their mothers. But I only emailed him:

Hey bud,

I know the pressures of your job come constantly and you have to put out fires from above and below — there’s always a crisis. That being said, I was pretty furious this morning regarding our discussion of the company car. I was trying to tell you that the car just became due for service at the time that my sickness began, which was 11/30/15. I have not had the car or the keys or any responsibility at all concerning the vehicle since then. I asked Jeff whether the car had been serviced when I spoke to him last Monday. He said it hadn’t, but that he had written it up. I said, “No, you have to turn it in..turn it into Rob in the morning.” That is how the car happened to be turned in this week: my intervention into the situation while out sick.

In addition, when I was on my way to the hospital 15 days ago, I also notified you via text that the car was due for service and where my Support Vehicle Checklists could be located. (Screenshot attached.)

I felt as if you were trying to lay responsibility for the problem on me this morning and when you said, “I’ve talked to you about this before and I ain’t going to talk about it again,” I took that as a threat of disciplinary action and a failure to hear me.

The last time something like this happened, I called Randy immediately out of sheer frustration. My knee-jerk reaction was to do so again this morning, but I didn’t: I am not interested in rubbing anyone’s nose in things or making people look bad. I think you do a fine job as a manager; and I understand the often overwhelming nature of being in middle management at this company. One of the things I told Randy at the height of my frustration this summer is that I want you to be successful in your role. I still do.

Things will come up and I’m not perfect, but if you can give me the benefit of the doubt next time, I’d appreciate it.

Thanks for your help and support,
Steve

Life is full of strange dramas. Sikki said the other night: “Maybe you won’t go back.”

The doctor said, “I haven’t seen a patient like you in a long time.” Meaning that I’m not all better and he doesn’t know why. They did another chest x-ray and the pneumonia appears to be gone. I asked the doctor whether exercising is advisable to help me get my strength and breath back. He said no, but I might disobey him a little because I cannot just sit around, eating and sleeping. Yesterday I did a load of laundry in the morning and then literally spent the whole rest of the day and all last night on the couch and in bed. I have never felt so lacking in energy. Even just sitting here typing, I am breaking out in a sweat. Gravity is bearing down hard.

Therefore glorify the LORD in the east, The name of the LORD, the God of Israel, In the coastlands of the sea. – Isaiah 24:15

Day 14,710 in orbit on the tiny blue planet.

Awoke at 4:47 this morning when Sikki got up to let the puppy out. The puppy has been sleeping in his crate at the foot of our bed, and he usually whines to go outside in the early morning.

Early morning. Having been out of work for two and a half weeks I can go back to calling 4:47 “early morning.” I typically wake up just before four o’clock on weekday mornings. I am slow to wakefulness and have to allow time to drink coffee, read, shower and all that.

My supervisor texted this morning at 6:30 and just tried to call me around 8:30 to discuss work stuff. I find this highly irritating since I am out of work on sick leave and was in the middle of a breathing treatment when he phoned. It has become normal in America for people to be available to their jobs 24/7 but I resist this as much as I can.

I spent much of yesterday in prayer, particularly the early part of the day. I want God’s best for me, whatever that means in practical outworking: where I live, where I fellowship, where I work, study, pray, and who and what I am surrounded by in these pursuits. For me it is all the pursuit of God. Even if it means working for this wicked company for another ten years.

But because I am a servant and son I am also asking Him, frankly, to get me back into the service of people, into a vocation that matters. It is vexing to the soul to be chasing dollars, lying, trying to move profits on products I don’t believe in. My job not only lacks meaning but is also contrary to my faithful worldview. In no way does it represent my identity; on the contrary, I am ashamed of it. For ten years I have struggled to know how to function in a corrupt system when I am not a “company man” and don’t buy into any of the rhetoric. For ten years, in various roles, I have seen that this system simply wants to use people until there is nothing left to be wrung out of them, until they are totally burned out and give up.

I worked for about an hour in the yard yesterday, cleaning up the big branches that fell during the record-breaking rain several weeks ago. Again, I was winded very quickly and laid down the whole rest of the day almost. I will close to do something useful with the rest of this day, day # 14,710 I have sojourned in Babylon since the Sunday I came into this atmosphere.

Father I will drink the cup you give to me, because I know you have my best in mind and I want to give you glory. I want your will to be done in this heart’s earth, as it is in heaven. But I also ask that you would remember me and behold the struggle, the long agony. See the focus of my heart and where my affections lie. I am not after dishonest gain. I do not love money. If there be a more excellent way, lead me to it. I don’t even know where to look.

Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity,
And revive me in Your ways.
Establish Your word to Your servant,
As that which produces reverence for You.
Turn away my reproach which I dread,
For Your ordinances are good.
Behold, I long for Your precepts;
Revive me through Your righteousness.

 

Before the Ending of the Day

I like music that pulsates, undulating. There is something like prayer in crashing waves, calling again and again.

This is worship music which atmospherically and lyrically understands that Christianity has no bounds — and, more significantly, that even the surest of faith, encompasses doubt and darkness – Lars Gotrich

In an ordered, intelligible and reassuringly man-made world, where we have banished the sacred and lost contact with the ineffable and the numinous, this is a text that still has the power to invoke a sense of enveloping mystery, as well as underscoring our dependence and poverty. – RAIJ

Before the Ending of the Day, by Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus

Lyrics:

Before the ending of the day,
Creator of the world we pray,
That with thy wonted favour thou
Wouldst be our guard and keeper now.
From all ill dreams defend our eyes,
From nightly fears and fantasies;
Tread underfoot our ghostly foe,
That no pollution we may know.
O Father, that we ask be done,
Through Jesus Christ, thine only Son;
Who, with the Holy Ghost and thee,
Doth live and reign eternally.

He has reconciled.

It is late on a Tuesday morning here on the earth, where I wait patiently on the Word of God and the power He gives me to attain to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ Jesus, in Whom I live, move, have my being, in Whom I have totally placed all my colorful misshapen broken marbles into one basket, one expectation, one hope, one faith: Christ alone and preeminent.

I went to the doctor in Shallotte this morning for an extension of my short-term disability, since I am not quite physically ready to return to the rigors of my job. They excused me from work until Thursday, when I will return to the doctor for a followup appointment.

Read this morning from Job, Psalms, and Colossians. After lunch I am going to try doing some yardwork because it is a beautiful day and because I need to see how these lungs are progressing. I feel like my breathing is getting better, but slowly.

And you who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Going in circles.

The management at work is feeling pressured because they are short staffed, and my supervisor called this morning to tell me all about it and get me to return to work. I told him honestly I didn’t think I would get past the Occupational Health doctor in Wilmington. But he was insistent and since my regular doctor estimated my return to work today, I went. Burned gas for an hour to Wilmington and an hour back to find out what I knew: the doctor wouldn’t release me to work. My lungs are still pretty funky and I got all out of breath last night at Food Lion getting a couple things. So now I have to go back to my regular doctor and see when he thinks I’ll be able to get back to work, or if there is anything I can do to expedite the process beyond what I’m already doing. I’m still pretty short of breath. Being sick is a pain in the bahakas.

I’m grumpy. But I am trying to keep my focus where it belongs: in the pursuit of the Kingdom. The Lord is a God of knowledge. He knows me. I want to know Him.

Jesus is for losers.

I’ve passed this day in a mental fog, having slept only two hours last night due to having bad indigestion and vomiting. Not sure what the cause of all that was, though Rebekah had been sick earlier in the day yesterday. All of us took it sort of easy today. Sikki was very tired this morning and of course so was I, so we watched a movie and rested.

I still feel pretty lethargic, probably from lying around for two weeks. Tomorrow I will attempt to do something physical again (lifting weights/pushups/light jogging) to see how the lungs are doing. Still wheezing and congested today. I need to get back on my feet because I am feeling fat and slow and tired.

Because my mind is so foggy I didn’t accomplish anything of importance today. I did some dishes and cleaned up the house a bit while Sikki took the kids to the store. They are in the dining room making Christmas cards to mail to people. My wife always gets the kids involved in making homemade Christmas cards. They seem to be enjoying themselves out there.

I have started the past several days with a mental list of tasks I wanted to complete that day: call Bobby G, write or call Don G back in Delaware, clean up the yard, winterize the mechanized lawn tools, try to get the power washer working and blast the front door and steps, change the oil in the Suburban, things and stuff.

None of it gets done. I don’t have the energy. It’s depressing.

I have been keenly aware of my need for a Savior in the past couple of days. There is nothing good in me and nothing I can do to earn His love and favor. I can only put my hope in Him and place my messy, small life in His hands.

If I was driven
Driven ahead by some noble ideal
Who took the wheel?
If I was given
Given a glimpse of some glorious road
When was it sold?

So caught up in the chase
I keep forgetting my place

Just as I am
I am stiff-necked and proud
Jesus is for losers
Why do I still play to the crowd?
Just as I am
Pass the compass, please
Jesus is for losers
I’m off about a hundred degrees

If I was groping
Groping around for some ladder to fame
I am ashamed
If I was hoping
Hoping respect would make a sturdy footstool
I am a fool

Bone-weary every climb
Blindsided every time

Just as I am
I am needy and dry
Jesus is for losers
The self-made need not apply
Just as I am
In a desert crawl
Lord, I’m so thirsty
Take me to the waterfall

And if you’re certain
Certain your life is some cosmic mistake
Why do you shake?
And if you’re certain
Certain that faith is some know-nothing mask
Why do you still ask?

They don’t grade here on the curve
We both know what we deserve

Just as you are
Just a wretch like me
Jesus is for losers
Grace from the blood of a tree
Just as we are
At a total loss
Jesus is for losers
Broken at the foot of the cross
Just as I am
Pass the compass, please
Jesus is for losers
I’m off about a hundred degrees
Just as I am
In a desert crawl
Lord, I’m so thirsty
Take me to the waterfall