Saturday, November 29, 2003

All it takes...

The idea of any political action group setting up shop within my church is anathema to me. It doesn't matter which side they're on--conservative, liberal, pro- this or anti-that. I don't like them. They're divisive by their very nature. They want you to think your choice is limited to either them or their opposite number, which is, of course, they tell you, evil incarnate. They don't want you to recognize that you can choose neither them nor what they decry; you can choose a third, fourth, fifth, sixth alternative.

There's a group like this in my diocese that I don't like one little bit. They've been sniffing around my parish, in fact, they've got a foot in the door and their fingers clenched around the door frame. I'm resisting them with all my might, along with some other people, but this is a battle I will probably lose because of their clout in the diocese.

This group is the American Anglican Council, or AAC. If you're a member of the United Methodist Church or the Presbyterian Church, read on, though. The same people backing the AAC in the Episcopal Church are backing political groups in these churches, too.

The AAC grew out of a small group of Episcopal bishops who were just plain mad over the ordination of women and all these other newfangled social changes of the last 40 or 50 years. They want to go back to an "orthodox and traditional church" without any of these innovations. They especially don't want any homosexual priests or bishops. That really makes them grind their teeth. And they want to run the show.

By "orthodox and traditional," they mean the (heterosexual) men in charge. Some will allow that women can be deaconesses but not priests, while others feel that all these Godly women deserve to be put out to pasture in ... say the kitchen, or some such other place befitting the fairer sex.

They say they believe in biblical law. I'm not sure which law that is. Is it the Ten Commandments? Hmmm. That didn't say anything to the effect, "There shall be no female priests among you, nor homosexual ones either." Okay. Check out the Great Commandment. Whups. That doesn't address these thorny issues either, in fact it tells you to love these people as you love yourselves. Fine, then, let's look at the part in red in the New Testament, what Jesus said. Uh-oh. Why, could it be that Jesus was a gay-lover? He didn't say one thing against them! And he was always talking with women, even some o' them furrin ones. Dang.

Okay, let's do it this way. Let's go all through the Bible, especially chapters like Leviticus and Deuteronomy and Numbers and such, and pick and choose some biblical laws we want to uphold. We can't deal with them all, cause there's like over 600 of 'em, and some we don't care about, like wearing clothes woven of two different fabrics or eating dairy products and meat at the same meal. But we're gonna enforce the laws we like!

Now, anybody who disagrees with us is the Anti-Christ, pure and simple, against families and marriage and the American Way and the War mean, the current peacekeeping stabilization mission in Iraq. Heretics and apostates, all of you. You know what the law says to do with you! We can have a BIG bonfire in the church parking lot.

I know, I know. I've taken poetic license. They don't all talk like this. Many are very well-spoken and subtle.

I oppose any political action group trying to flex its muscles in the church, whether it's the AAC or its opposite numbers. Groups with an axe to grind serve the forces of divisiveness. There's just no middle ground, they say.

The truth is, of course, that there is middle ground. There are acres of ground in between. And guess what. You can oppose the ordination of actively or otherwise gay clergy and NOT EVEN BE A MEMBER OF THE AAC!!!! But this is the nature of extreme political groups. You're either a card-carrying member of their camp or you're supporting the enemy. There's no toleration of dialogue, no desire to even attempt any kind of reconciliation or to come to the table together. The AAC position is, "The opposition isn't fit to sit at the table with us. They've already kicked themselves out of the union," and the ever-popular, "The bishops who voted to ratify Gene Robinson should be punished."

The AAC has ties to ultra-right-wing political action groups. In fact, it shares an address and office space with one called the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD). This little group of chummy people has strong connections to right-wing military/governmental/industrial interests (and has had, at least since the Reagan era when it was involved in activities in South America), with people like Diane Knippers in charge. Yes, that's the same Diane Knippers who wrote a position paper on just religious causes for war in preparation of our recent excursions into the Middle East.

Then there's Howard F. Ahmanson, Jr., who just a very short time ago espoused the kind of biblical law I was talking about above, including the death penalty for apostasy and disobedient children and all sorts of other things. Of course,
now that he's a big contributor to the AAC and his wife (ever so coincidentally) sits on the board of the IRD, he says he doesn't really believe this any more; after all, they don't want to scare off the more moderate people! Howard F. Ahmanson also has interests in companies that make the majority of computerized voting machines in the country, ES&S and Diebold. Guess who they plan to keep in office next presidential election? Guess which voting machines seem to get funny results and these results can't be validated?

Why would we want all this mess in our churches? Most of don't, I believe.

Why do they want in our churches? These are the mainline protestant churches, the churches from which a large number of our national leaders come. The voice from the pulpits in these churches is respected in this country, even by the majority non-churchgoers. What a political coup to control this voice. Find a divisive wedge like the sexuality issue, then divide and conquer. They plan to do it parish-by-parish in the Episcopal Church, since they've found out they can't break away from the national church and take the real estate with them--it really does belong to the national church. They have similar plans for the Presbyterian and United Methodist Churches.

Do we want to let them do it?

Friday, November 28, 2003

How I spent my Thanksgiving

I had a great Thanksgiving this year. I'm still recuperating from it.

First, I got up a little after 6 a.m. and started doing the cleaning I should have already done, and the cooking. I baked pumpkin and pecan pies. I made a sweet potato casserole. I roasted a turkey and a ham. I cleaned and cleaned because my house has been a grubby mess. I took a break long enough to write the preceding blog. Straightened up, took a shower (figured I'd better, before people started showing up).

And they started showing up. One brought a folding card table for extra seating, as I just have a little cafe-size table for two, and a bag full of homemade rolls. One came with wine and beer and went to work peeling potatoes for the mashed potatoes. I mashed the potatoes and put dressing and the sweet potatoes in the oven. More came, bearing wine and string beans with onions.

One went over to pick up my mother from the ALF for me. I had picked her up after work Wednesday and brought her to my house to spend the night and Thanksgiving day with me, but she decided she didn't want to stay overnight, so I ended up taking her back.

Right after he left to fetch her, I got a call from the police--Mom was in a restaurant downtown and had been there about a half-hour--they wanted someone to come pick her up right away, could someone be there in the next ten minutes. (I never did get what the "or else" would be -- would they take her to the police station? Book the old lady, Dano! Or to the psych ward at the hospital?) Anyhow, I called the ALF and they hadn't noticed her missing yet. They dispatched security posthaste to pick her up, THEN my friend brought her over to my house. Mom said she thought she had been sleepwalking. She had laid down to take a nap and dreamed about going somewhere.

Well, what's a holiday without a little drama?

Not quite as many people made it to my house as I expected, but we ended up with six. A good number to enjoy food and conversation. Sat around in the living room after dinner and help with clean-up, and talked more. I had a great time. I think everyone enjoyed themselves.

I have been worn out today. Went back to bed and took a nap this afternoon. Laid around the house, nibbling on leftovers. (I'm going to freeze some ham and turkey.) Thought more on things for which to give thanksgiving, like my spiritual director. She picks and gets me to examine my motives and why I feel and act the way I do. I'll hear, "And where's Pat in all this?" in my head for the rest of my life. But she does it with caring, understanding and humor.

Thank you, God, for all these special people, and all the other special people in my life.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Things for which I am grateful

1. For my faith. I came into it later than most, but I have come into it deeply. I thank God for taking the reins and leading me into a relationship with Him. I've written about faith before. Thank you, Father, for the gift of your son.

2. For my health. As I creep through middle age, I receive more and more intimations of mortality. I feel the joints creak and I can't spring out of bed in the morning like I used to. Now, it's more of a slow roll and a hoist. I am grateful that I've never been hospitalized, never needed an operation, never needed to walk with crutches or a walker. Thank you, God, and when my time comes, may I bear it with dignity and trust in You.

3. For my friends. My family has disintegrated over the years, but I've developed deep friendships that have sustained me through difficult times. There are people to whom I'm much closer than my blood family, and I give thanks for them. (You know who you are.) I pray that my own family may grow closer, but I have a suspicion that God has put new people in my life because my family isn't going to be there.

4. For the call to ministry. God has used me in various ministries. I'm working and waiting for the Holy Spirit to reveal how this call is to go deeper, because I believe it is. I have felt that it will include ordination, but this remains to be determined at this time, given the climate in my diocese. I trust Him to show me what, where, when, how.

5. For freedom. We still live in a country where we can worship as our hearts and consciences call us. We still live in a country (I think) where we can vote freely and elect our lawmakers. I am grateful for being brought to the awareness of how easily those freedoms can be lost and how important it is to protect them, and to realize that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing. Therefore, I am not to do nothing. Thank you for this awareness, Lord.

6. For my home. I believe that God brought me into my little home and I'm to use it to His purpose. Today I'm having a big Thanksgiving dinner with friends, available family and co-workers. Some of them would not have much of a Thanksgiving otherwise (me either), and I just realized this morning that I am ministering by bringing together these dear people of diverse ages and backgrounds to break bread and celebrate together, to share with each other. Thank you God, for this gift.

7. For the abundance of life God has given me. He's always provided for me, one way or another, even when I was doubtful about it. He's given me the capacity for joy and love and to enjoy life. I am profoundly grateful for these gifts.

8. For the gifts yet to come.

Thank you, Abba, for all the blessings of this life. Make me worthy of these gifts and anoint me to Your purposes.

Monday, November 24, 2003

The light of a city on a hill still gleams

There are several things I want to write about tonight, all interrelated. First, I haven't blogged all week because (1) it's been excessively busy at work and I've been putting in some extra hours and (2) I've been hit by a little down-draft of depression.

That Old SOB, Death, has been hanging around a lot lately. With facilitating a bereavement group and being involved in the kind of ministries I am, it's inevitable that I'll run into him often.

A few weeks ago, Mary, about whom I wrote back in September, died after a valiant and sustained battle against cancer. She beat the odds and broke the doctors' diagnosis because God heard her prayers and those praying for her and gave her the extra time she needed.

I was in the throes of my own family crises and hadn't even seen her in a few weeks when she died. Mary was the light of a city on a hill--her spirituality and her trust in God radiated through her. I told her that a couple of times and I'm very glad I did. The last time I saw her, I told her that her son would remember her, and I'm glad I told her that, too. The look on her face told me she needed to hear it, and it is true. She lived long enough that he will remember her. I wish I had followed through with plans to see her again, though. She was gone before I knew it.

Mary, your light will always shine.

Another lovely woman, from my parish, confined to a wheelchair for the last while and no stranger to pain, died a couple of weeks ago. Though her body failed her, her spirit did not. She was cheerful and had the kind of genuine sweetness, despite her pain, that is rare. I will miss her kind and gentle presence very much.

A man I knew from work died this past week. I didn't know him well; he worked from his home and came into the office occasionally. I have a number of co-workers who knew him well, though, and took his sudden illness and death very hard. It's been an emotional week at work.

Then there's the little premature, stillborn baby I baptized one Sunday morning.

It's enough to piss me off. What is this deal, God? Why so much suffering and death in this world? Why do you put us through all this? I think of all the other deaths and the illnesses, misery, hatred, sin and evil I've seen in the last couple of years. Some local and some not.

It's not an academic question. I've been thinking about it a lot. Why?

Tonight, weary with all the things I've been grappling with, I heard the words come out of my mouth, "God, please pray with me about this."

Not revolutionary words. We're often told to pray to know God's will for us. This was a form of asking God to direct my prayers, but also to be a direct partner in them. I thought about it for a minute, then repeated my plea.

I've heard that physical activity is a very good way to clear the mind so that we can hear God talking to us. Monks do it a lot--the simple acts of kneading bread, crushing grapes or scrubbing a floor help them free their minds. My plan for tonight was vacuuming and shampooing the carpets. As I worked, a few meteors of ideas blazed through the blackness of my mind:

"God is Great and God is Good." Even on my darkest days, I can't believe God lets us suffer out of indifference or cruelty. These are the earliest words of prayer I can recall learning and I guess they stuck with me. There must be a purpose to what we call history.

A few years ago (pre-9-11), I was teaching English to some foreign students, mostly Arab, and explained this belief in a discussion of story we were reading. Shocked, one of them said, "But that's what WE believe." I'm not sure exactly what his take on the Christian view of God had been, but I saw something change.

"Our God is an Active God." God is neither dead nor sleeping. He didn't wipe the dust off his hands and retire a couple of thousand years ago. He is still intimately involved with the human race. He is calling us as individuals and as a race to new understandings, new insights. He's still working on us.

I was struck by the image of Peter, forcing himself to eat at the same table with unclean, uncircumcised gentiles who didn't even practice the dietary laws. This went against his grain and most of what he had learned through scripture, yet he did it, because he realized God was calling him to something new. God is an active God. To be open to the new things God is doing, because he is still creating, doesn't mean we disrespect scripture. In fact, we find the things God is doing He has already planted in scripture. We just get caught in our ruts and don't see it.

"God Has a Plan." And if God is great and God is good, then so is His plan. We can't understand much of what God is doing. We just don't have the capacity for it. I just have to believe that He is working a plan of redemption that takes time (at least to us) to unfold. There is a point to all this. I can't offer up proof of this, I just feel a reinforcement of this after my prayer time tonight.

All the hurts we endure will be redeemed/have already been redeemed. I was reminded of God's promise of this tonight.

God, please pray with me again.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

A welcome Correction

One of the great pleasures I'm finding in blogging is reading and interacting with other bloggers, especially some of the other newbies. I just added a link to Matthias' blog, called "Correction." He felt a calling, started seminary and is using faith and reason to try and sort it all out. His postings are clear and thoughtful. Please take a look for yourselves.


Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Great stinkin' cat shit

Okay, I have to admit it. I'm a sucker, at least for animals. I moved into my little house with just one pet, a temperamental Persian-type cat I'll call "Zsa-Zsa," because she'll slap you in a heartbeat. She'll also climb into my lap and twist herself into contortions of ecstasy at being petted.

Once I moved in, I decided I needed a dog. After all, what's a home (a real house, not an apartment) without a dog? I visited the local humane shelter in search of a small dog, maybe one of the little terrier types. Although the pound was full-to-overflowing, there were no small pooches to be found. They were all larger breed varieties, I suppose, because it was near Christmas and all the little ones had been adopted. I looked over these monsters of jaw, muscle and bone and was ready to give up, when one of the workers said, "Did you see the border collie-mix puppy?"

Behind four or five of the big bruisers in one of the pens sat a little black and white puppy, looking lost and forlorn. Of course, my heart melted. Part border collie and part lab, they said. I love border collies. I walked her around the building and she seemed quite happy with me. My vet said maybe there was some lab with the border collie, but definitely some Australian shepherd.

She's the one I call "the Best Dog in the World" (BDW). She's now over four years old and weighs 45 pounds or so. She's smart, friendly, affectionate and my best helper. She frequently sleeps at the foot of my bed, while Zsa-Zsa sleeps beside me.

That was it. I had no intention of getting any more animals. Then, summer before this last one, there was a situation where the owner of a household had died and her old dog had just been left out in the yard. Relatives were throwing a little food at him once in a while. Guess who ended up with "Good Old Boy" (GOB), to make a long story short. (He's the one I was talking about in "Grace in a golden retriever" in my posting of 9/28/03.)

Okay, THAT'S IT. No more animals, period.

Move along to last month. My mother went into assisted living. I forced her two dogs off on ( them find homes with) two of my brothers and the ALF said they'd take the parrakeet. That just left my mother's cat. I'll call him "Elvis" because he's a big, handsome cat, a good 20 lbs. plus, black-and-white loverboy. I reluctantly brought him to my house, just until I could find a home for him.

Elvis and Zsa-Zsa don't hit it off, mostly because Zsa-Zsa hates the guts out of any other feline. She gets along fine with the dogs, occaisionally slapping them on the muzzle if they (mostly BDW, GOB is oblivious) try to get too personal. She even lets BDW wash her ears. Sometimes I wonder how much of that is motherly instinct on BDW's part and how much of it is to have just a little taste o' cat.

Anyhow, Zsa-Zsa's got no problems with the dogs. It's the sight of another cat that makes her snort with rage. Poor Elvis. Zsa-Zsa is smaller and much older, but she has her claws, he doesn't, and she's a whole lot meaner.

On top of that, Elvis is scared of BDW and runs from her, which she takes as a sportsmanslike move to play tag. Elvis just can't win.

I put Elvis up for adoption and a co-worker brought a family to look at him. They fell in love with him and took him, but guess what, their other cat fought with him all night and the people weren't getting any sleep. Elvis returned to the unsaintly mansion.

Now, the thing is, I'm getting attached to him. I've taken photos to run an ad in my little local paper, but haven't done anything constructive toward putting together the ad, partly because I've been so busy and partly because I'm just dragging my feet.

I have to admit, he is now settling down with the other animals. When BDW approaches him, he often snarls like an enraged panther, shows her his huge incisors and boxes her on the head with his paws -- instead of always running -- and BDW backs down.

Zsa-Zsa's attacks on him are diminishing in frequency. I hear a "MeeROWWWrrrARRGhhREHNnh" from the back room only once or twice a day now. They sometimes sit side-by-side in uneasy coexistence.

And, as I said, Elvis is a loverboy. He loves sitting in my lap, at least until one of the other animals scares him off. He loves having his ears, chin and belly scratched. He'll lay on his side and do air kneads (like playing air guitar). He's adorable.

I just don't need any more animals in this small house--I have too many already. And there's something else, The Problem with Elvis.

The Problem with Elvis is the stink. He is the stinkiest cat I've ever encountered, and I've had quite a few cats over the years. He's a huge cat who loves to eat. He has huge, stinkin' B.M.s. Please don't write me about anti-stink cat food--I know all about it. Used to sell the stuff. It doesn't matter what you feed Elvis, it all comes out the same. Big and stinky. Noxiously, nauseatingly stinky. (I wonder how much this had to do with the adoptive family giving him back?)

My house is small and well-insulated, which means it retains odors. I've woken up in the wee hours of the morning with a foul-smelling stench in my nostrils. It was Elvis having another big stinky. The air conditioning system picks up the fragrance and wafts it ever so gently through the house.

I'm going to buy a gas mask to clean out the box. I cleaned it completely this morning, stifling my gag reflex. I came home this evening, wandered near the box and was overcome by cat shit fumes. I don't know how he manages to have so many B.M.s. I don't know how he can stand to stay in the litter box long enough to let them loose.

I've got to find a home for Elvis.

Meanwhile, Elvis is in the building.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003


I've read several comments posted by RiverStone, and being rather thick, it just dawned on me that she has a site. I took a look at it and it's great--please go take a look. (I'm not saying this just because she mentioned my blog.)

RiverStone wrote a posting about being angry. I've been thinking about how angry I was at my brother Toby for rejecting treatment and help (MY help, too), and for lying about it. But the truth is, I can't make him do anything, even stay alive. I pushed too hard in my attempt to help him and he went and hid again. He would have, anyway, I'm afraid. The disease doesn't want any interference with its progress. I'm still praying for him to break out of that pattern of behavior and alcoholism. I'm also repenting over my anger.

This leads to another link RiverStone has on her site--a posting about the issue of homosexuality in the church not being an "issue", but something with two legs-- people the writer knows. I can relate to this with Toby. Homosexuality is just not even the issue for Toby. It's the alcoholism that has destroyed his life and will probably kill him. Feelings of rejection over being gay may have contributed some to his drinking in the initial stages, but alcoholism is a disease that needs no justification. It makes its own. It moves in and takes over.

I'm going to keep praying hard for Toby to find some strength in himself to turn from it and toward God, from where our help comes, and be set free.

If we look at the people around us as people, with gifts, talents, faults, illnesses and humanity, we realize that sexuality is only a part of the picture--whether we're straight or gay. The question is, do we act toward each other in love?

Monday, November 10, 2003


Hebrews 11
By Faith We Understand

1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.
3By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. (NKJV)

Despite all the turmoil in my family and in my life the last while, my faith is deepening. God's tugging me, pulling me in deeper, closer to Him.

What is faith? Paul talks about it at length in Hebrews. Sometimes the word is used interchangeably with belief, but there is a difference in the two. I believe in things because they can be demonstrated in the physical world -- I can discern them with the senses (smell, taste, touch, hearing) or know them experientially and intellectually and logically, for example, mathematical principles. I know them to be real and true. I believe that the sun will rise in the morning, based on my experience of it rising every morning; I believe in justice and the quality of mercy. I believe in God.

Faith, as Paul says, is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." I like the New King James Version, with its use of the word "substance."

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, substance is essential nature or essence, also, the "ultimate reality that underlies all outward manifestations and change," as well as "the physical material from which something is made or which has discrete existence."

Wow. Faith is a perception of reality, or acknowledgement of a reality, that can be perceived with the senses of the spirit, no less real than the things we know by our other faculties. The things that we hope for in faith already have a discrete existence, an ultimate, unswerving reality, despite the changes of the unpredictable world around us.

Faith springs from trust-- not only believing in God, but having trust in his intentions toward us, or "faith in His faithfulness," with a reciprocal faithfulness toward him. It's not just a matter of belief--after all, even the demons believed Jesus to be the Holy One of God. They were faithless, and they were terrified of him.

When we hope without faith, we're just indulging in wishful thinking. I can "hope" to win the lottery, but the odds are 20 million to one. I know the reality, the stuff, the actuality of things hoped for in faith because of God's steadfast faithfulness.

I hope to see God's face and I know that one day I will, because in faith, I seek Him with all my heart. I pray for the sick in the hope that God will respond because I have faith in His will to heal. And even though healing doesn't always occur in the manner or timing that I might expect, it always happens.

Like Abraham, I will follow Him into strange and unknown lands because He asks me to and that's enough to know. I trust the future to Him.

Following Him doesn't mean life becomes easy or struggle-free. Look at the apostles--they lived lives of hardship and died painful deaths for following Him. But there is an "ultimate reality that underlies all outward manifestations and change," and it is that ultimate reality that the faithful seek. Call it the Kingdom of God, communion with God, experiencing the presence of God. We obey his voice because it is this reality which gives us hope and upon which we hang our hopes. It makes all the hardships bearable. It brings joy in the midst of adversity, moments of bliss into the struggles of life.

Dear Lord,

I hear your voice in the garden. I can't hear you clearly because of all the noise around me and in me. But I hear You and know the sound of your voice. It speaks to me intimately, tenderly; it convicts me of your love for me.

I mostly can't see you, either. Sometimes the wind lifts the veil of fog and I get a glimpse of you.

I want to see your face. I want to sit with you in the garden, basking in your presence. I want to walk with you in the cool of the evening.

I want to tell you how much I love you, I adore you and want you above all others, above anything else. I want to thank you for the beauty that you put into the world, and for giving me the ability to experience joy.

I want to thank you for the universe you spoke into being. I want to thank you, master of the whole universe, that you do not forget someone as insignificant as me. Thank you for creating me and loving me. Thank you for the means of grace and the hope of glory.

I hope to tell you all this one day, as we walk together in the garden.


Monday, November 03, 2003

Toby's gone

Toby moved out today while I was at work. I caught him in several lies the past few days and made it impossible for him to keep lying--he had to either go along with the plan for treatment or leave. He had the choice, and he chose to leave. I just wish he'd had the guts to do it without sneaking around. I think he'd been planning it all weekend.

Toby's been telling his AA buddies that he'll lose his job (and I'm forcing him to lose it) if he has to take off for treatment. Not true, his supervisor said, when Toby was in the hospital for the DT's, and again today. They will work with employees who have a problem. They want them better and productive at work. Toby can take family leave when he needs to go to treatment, his supervisor said, then come back to work. But now he will be working day shift, where he will be closely monitored for signs of inebriation or absences, due to his past behavior.

Toby also called the alcoholism counselor this morning, trying to put the quash on residential treatment, telling her not to release his assessment information to the treatment facility. I happened to call right after he did and got this information.

Toby doesn't think he needs treatment. He thinks he's been scared straight. "I've hit bottom. I know if I drink, I'll die and and I'm scared to drink," he said. I think that might be true at the moment, but I don't feel that will hold for long without some intensive treatment and therapy. He's had maybe one sober year out of the last 25 or 28. He'll start wanting a drink to take the edge off the shakes and reason that just a little won't hurt. Or he'll be stressed out and want something to calm his nerves and the process will start again.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope he'll go to AA every day and be sober--no drink or drugs. I'll keep praying for him.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Update on Toby

An update on my brother Toby, about whom I wrote on October 19:

Toby got out of the hospital on the 21st. I had him at the local mental health/substance abuse counseling center the next morning at 8:00 for an assessment. They determined residential treatment to be appropriate for him, however, there weren't any beds open--there was a month to six-week minimum wait for an opening. Keep checking back, they said. Welcome to the wonderful world of substance abuse counseling services.

In the meantime, Toby's been going to AA meetings and staying with me. I really didn't want him to go back to work yet, but he went to the doctor Friday, who okayed him for return to work. The odds are he won't go to treatment when an opening comes up once he's back at work.

I've laid down certain ground rules for him living with me:

* He stays sober
* He attends daily AA meetings
* He attends counseling
* He goes to church with me
* He lets me know where is he is and what he's doing
* I stay in touch with his supervisor at work, who will let me know of any problems
or absences

Toby wasn't thrilled with all the rules. He didn't want to go to church with me today, said he could go to an AA meeting instead. I explained that if I didn't care, I would just kick him out. But I do care, I love him, and I will be tough about what he needs and does. He went to church with me today and attended AA afterward.

We'll just have to see how things go. Toby's behavior patterns are well-ingrained, but I've got good "BS" radar, and haven't hesitated to call him on it. I've spoken openly about my feelings. We both grew up in a household with too little communication, with too little outright speaking about feelings and too much withdrawal and passive aggression. It's okay he got mad at me--I'd rather he show his anger than do the passive revenge stuff.

I'm still praying for Toby. That he was at church is a good thing--the Holy Spirit can get past crossed arms and closed ears! Toby did find out that people have been praying for him. For real!

Oh Lord, open his ears and his eyes to You.