The Long Road... #2014reboot

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye and good riddance, 2008

You're finally dying, you hag, but you can't die soon enough to suit me. You and I have been together for such a short time really, but it seems like that first night was a lifetime ago. I looked into your face under the cold Kentucky moon and it seemed like a whole new world was opening up for us.

When our love was new, you made me feel 20 years younger.  With you by my side I was making more money than I ever had. My mental health was strong. I started working out, eating well, and losing weight. I looked better than I had in years and people noticed. I ran in my first organized road race and actually finished.

Then, for reasons I'll never understand, you turned on me.

You took my job.

You destroyed my credit.

You threw me into a new career just as the economy was going into the crapper.

You opened the door and let depression back into my life - I started going to Wendy's and to bed instead of the weight room and the treadmill.

You strained my sanity, my home, and my marriage to the breaking point.


If I'm sad about your death, I'm sad that you don't have a heart to break. I wish you could feel some of the suffering you brought into the world.

You taught me a lot 2008, but hurt me more. One day I might look back and be glad we met, but tonight I'm satisfied to know I won't have to spend another minute in your company.

I have a New Year. Been preparing for her for several weeks now. We'll work together and try to undo some of the damage you have done. She'll be going with me when I return to the gym. She's going to work with me to rebuild my career. We're going to spend time healing relationships with my family, my wife, my God, and myself. Who knows, we might even make the world a little better place than the one you are leaving behind.

I have seen quite a few come and go in my life. some of them were bad, some were great. But as a year 2008, you sucked.

2009, we'll be together soon. And I'm going to work my tail off to make you a great one.

Peace,
Pennsy

Friday, December 26, 2008

Just Another Day?

Back when I still believed in church, Christmas was a transporting season for me. The deepening darkness of Advent as Mary and Joseph made their way to Bethlehem, the Silent Night lit by candles in children's sleepy hands, the tears of gratitude, the Epiphany of the Magi -- the journey of the Nativity me deeply as I joined fellow Christians in celebrating the traditions our people.

I still believe in Christmas, but the church became more of an obstacle between my Savior and me. The sentimental nostalgia of Christmas became an idol that turned my eyes from the grace of incarnation. Much to my surprise, I left Christianity to find Christ. I'm glad to say he hasn't been hard to find.

It has been a very difficult season since my last post back in September. Losing my job put our family in dire financial straits. There have been fearful nights spent wondering which bills would be paid and which creditors will have to wait. Stress over money is the great destroyer of marriages, maybe even greater than adultery, and Mrs P and I have felt the strain in our selves and in our relationship.

We lost our beloved Molly the week before Christmas. Our sweet faced Golden Retriever had reached the point that her tired legs would no longer lift her. I held her face in my hands when her trusting eyes closed for the last time, and we wept together as the doctor gave her the merciful injection and she quietly drew her last breath.

Before we knew our little old Lady would not see another Christmas, we added a new member to our family. A retriever puppy named Jake has joined our menagerie. He terrorizes our cats, torments our shoes, and has not let us sleep through a night since his arrival. He is a complete pain in the neck, but an hour doesn't pass in our house but he gives us at least one reason to laugh. Mom says God must have known how much our home would need some extra joy this Winter and I am sure she is right.

Working for the Duck is hard - much more than I expected. When they said it would be difficult, I thought that meant I would have to work hard, and I welcomed that challenge. What I didn't really expect was that even after working very hard, I might still not see much money for a long time. So far, I have mostly had to be satisfied with intangible rewards. There are plenty of them, but they don't impress the bill collector much. Our families have been very generous with their help, but I hate being a 48-year old man who still needs to ask for money from the grown-ups in my life.

And my running -- I ran a 5K this fall, set a new PR, but haven't done any exercising since. My mind and body are both less healthy because of this, and I am resolved to return to the gym where I found such strength in 2008. After three months as a salesman I can say for certain that I'm going to need all the strength and courage I can get.

So yesterday was not the most festive Yule we've had in the Pennsy house. Mrs P and I had agreed not to exchange gifts, but we had some packages from loved ones to open. A neighbor had left a basket of baked treats on the porch. But the holiday cheer was short-lived. The clear blue sky and warm sunny day seemed to mock my longing for a White Christmas as the puppy and I walked through the neighborhood that was still muddy from Christmas Eve's hard rain.

I thought to myself, "This isn't Christmas. This is just another day."

We came home to a house whose usual disorder has been made even crazier by Jake's energy and our own lethargy. Mrs P and I decided that rather than spend the day grieving, we would give one another a day of housekeeping. Our modest goal was to bring order to our bedroom.

We sorted laundry, shelved books, swept corners, moved furniture, and sorted through piles of un-boxed jewelry and unmatched socks. Shoes were stored above the puppy gnawing zone and clothes were taken to the washing machine. When we were finished, we had fresh bedclothes, a visible floor, and at least a few more square feet of clear space on top of the amoire.

Jake and I went outside for the last pee of the night and I contemplated Sirius, the brightest star in the east being pursued by the three wise men of Orion's belt. I took a bath and slept between clean sheets with my beautiful wife and our oh-so-patient cats as the puppy at last settled down for a long winter's nap in his crate.

I reached out to touch Mrs P in the dark as she slept, and I knew that this Christmas was not just another day. God has blessed me with love everywhere I turn. My family, my neighbors, my new colleagues at work - I am the least deserving creature on earth, yet I am the richest man I know.

Just another day? Nah. Take away the ham and the wrapping paper and the tree and the snow and it is still Christmas. The Grinch has taken all he could take, but somehow or other it came just the same.

There are plenty of babes in mangers in this world. Sometimes we all feel like travelers without a place to rest, banished to the stable while the world celebrates in the warm light of an inn where we have no place. Troubled days have passed and others will come, but on Christmas, even if it's only for an instant, the still small voice will remind us if we listen that we are richly blessed beyond anything we can ask or imagine. 
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.

Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD's hand double for all her sins.

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. (Isaiah 40:1-5)
Merry Christmas, Y'all.

Peace,
Pennsy
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