Friday, November 02, 2007

Strength vs. Weakness

Journey: Job - I've been Director of Music here at Church of the Covenant for going on six years now. One of the reasons that I've been as successful as I have is that I am mainly and foremost a musician. My primary concern is the sound of the final product. All that I do in rehearsals points to that one goal. All of the duties not relating to this, I generally do not like to do. And it is those things that I'm not as good at doing.

Administratively I am weak. I don't like planning. Sure I do it four months in advance but that's so I don't have to do it for another four months. I get bored organizing and filing music.

Socially I am "lacking". I communicate frankly without regard to who needs "stroking" and complimenting. Within rehearsals if I don't address something or someone it's because it or they are doing fine. I was reinforced in that in undergraduate school.

Generally there is harmony within each of my ensembles. But when there is discontent, that is with me, I tend to let it bother me too much. I start second guessing my decisions, and especially, my ability to do the right thing. It hits in my vulnerability if self-doubt. I often joke that working in a church would be such a breeze if it weren't for people. A joke, yes. A reality, most certainly.

So today I'm second guessing and doubting. But after counciling with a couple of close co-staff, I'm starting to feel better about it. There is something lacking in my confidence and job security that when something like this happens I get a knot in the pit of my stomach. I should be confident in my job to not let it bother me.

Just some rocks on my job journey road.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Mom, you're not going to like this, but...

Journey: Manhood - Wow, yesterday morning's Men's Fraternity: The Quest for Authentic Manhood session was amazing. Session 8: Making a Healthy Break with Mom. There weren't any real big surprises. Basically, you have to confront her with what you are going to do, set boundaries and then stick to it all no matter what she does.

And that's really the tricky part. Dr. Lewis read a set of letter between a man and his mom. First the man's letter, it was very direct and honest without being insulting. It reinforced his feeling, needs and affection for his mother. Then came the reply letter from the mom. Full of bitterness and over the top statements designed to make her son feel guilty. When I first heard it a chill went through me. It sounded exactly like something my mom would say, even before her mind started to go. Dr. Lewis stressed that moms do adjust.

But I don't think that is a large option for me. There are several strikes against me inthat I am her legal caretaker. Her need for me is more than just emotional. So, I have to try to reinforce different boundaries. And I've been trying to do that. Thank God that she has the people at Rosewood Retirement Community to take care of her on a daily basis. I can't imagine what it would be like if she had to live with us.

I will have to just do the best I can until she dies. The ongoing issues are doing to be within my marriage. There are some natural pitfalls that I have to learn to avoid. Gretchen says now that she sees what the characteristics are, she sees them clearly. We have to establish which of my traits are because of my personality type (melancholy) and which are because of Mom.

Now the following wounds that we'll cover in MF will be new territory. I'm looking forward them.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Dearest Mommy...From Another View

Journey: Manhood - Something interesting happened last night. I had my wife, Gretchen, watch last weeks Manhood session with me. I thought this would help her understand some things a little better.

Apparently, it worked better than I thought. She identifies me as the "soft male" even more than I do. She admitted that this may be the source of some of her resentment. I don't know that I agree that I am so much that way. Or, at least, that it is completely bad. I think that there are some characteristics that are good and don't have anything to do with that.

Well, this weeks session is what to do about it. I have decided not to watch it in advance. But I may breakdown and watch it anyway.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dearest Mommy

Journey: Manhood - This morning's Men's Fraternity: The Quest for Authentic Manhood session made us unpack our "Mom" issues.

These issues are more complex and trickier to deal with than the "Dad" issues. Dr. Lewis described Mom Wounds to paper-cuts. Sometimes you hardly notice them on the surface but they hurt like hell and sometimes don't heal very quickly. They are much more subtle.

I have more to deal with here than the Father wounds. Mainly because Mom is right here and I deal with her on an almost daily basis. But realistically, I have 48 years of history with Mom and she fits several of the categories in the lessons.

One of the important points is that most moms, mine included, did not intend to cause these wounds. Initially Mom fell into the "Needy/Hurting" type when I was small. Mom had one child, a daughter, Wanda, from her first marriage. They were very close, just like best friends. When I was small, Wanda was killed in an automobile accident with a drunk driver. When that happened, she took all of her love and grief for Wanda and piled them onto me. I remember Dad telling me years ago, "Kenny, if it wasn't for you, I would have lost your mother when Wanda died." Mom almost went over the deep end. Mom has always made me her very first priority ever since. This was very wrong and non-scriptural.

As the years passed and I reached adulthood, that didn't change. At that point she fell into the "Unwilling to Release" type. She still sees me as her little boy. She has told me on several occasions, as recently as six weeks ago, that "it's just you and me against the world."

So now as dementia and Alzheimer's settles in and progresses, it gets progressively worse. Only now there is not reasoning with her. Her memory and comprehension is terrible. And this will only get worse as time passes. She is totally miserable and hermit-ive. She refuses to make new friends at her retirement home and will not participate in the activities. She is just waiting to die. But like I say, that isn't going to change.

Anyway, how as all of this effected me? There are two main ways in which boys/men respond to these patterns. And the one I "chose" was to resist and pull away. I see that pattern throughout my life. I have always wanted but failed to get respect from her. To get acceptance as an adult. I have tried to communicate all of that with her but she just doesn't (or doesn't want to) get it.

Mom and I have never had much in common. I have always been more like my father. Mom and I rarely saw eye-to-eye on anything. We were never really close that way.

So now, as she gets more needy I respond even more so. Can you say "vicious cycle?" I think this is just the beginning of a long process. After all, she's not going to change. I'll probably be struggling with this until she dies. And maybe even a little after that.

Next Tuesday we'll see how I'm supposed to deal with all of this. I am skeptical but trying to keep an open mind about it.

The New Toy

Journey: Fun - Since I'm a guy, toys are very important. I don't try to keep up with all the new technology (can't afford it) but sometimes there is something I can get into.

For instance, by link-hopping on, I came across the Flip Video Ultra camcorder. It is a small camcorder with built in memory. There is a built-in USB plug in the side to plug directly into the computer. With built in software, videos can be converted and uploaded almost effortlessly to or other webservices. Here are a couple of tests.

This is friend Melissa at our Fall Picnic this past Sunday.

And this is my wife Gretchen at the MercyMe (yes, we saw them again) and Aaron Shust concert last Friday night in Baton Rouge. Here she gets Aaron's autograph.

I did no editing to either of these. These are uploaded directly from the Flip Video Ultra. I imagine I could get a better quality if I compressed and uploaded them manually.

So now I have a new toy to help keep me distracted from all of the stuff I need to be doing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Remembering Dad

Journey: Manhood - This morning's Men's Fraternity: The Quest for Authentic Manhood session finished up with dealing with the Father Wound. This was an easy one. I never had any major issues with my dad. At the worst it was just a communication problem. He was pretty much the Invisible Dad, a man of few words. I know he loved me and was proud of me more by what he did than what he said. I guess what I missed was the time with him. He worked two jobs for most of my childhood and never was one to go out and just throw a ball around.

The most information I ever got about my father was from his sister. She filled me in on some of the holes in his life that he never talked about and that I felt uncomfortable to bring up.

But thanks to God, I had the chance and foresight towards the end of his life to try to establish communication. I made a little progress. At least I got to say what I needed while there was still time. And God allowed me to be there when he passed away. So, I have few to no regrets when it comes to Dad.

Next Tuesday we start on Mother issues. That one is going to be stickier.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Gonna get myself...

There are several Journeys that I will be blogging about. There will be times that these Journeys overlap and sometimes I imagine that I'll go off on completely different tangents.

The first Journey involves a study that I'm involved in called Men's Fraternity: The Quest for Authentic Manhood. This is a 24 week study to examine and define what is a Christian man supposed to be. And, as importantly, how to attain it. It's a fantastic study and after just five weeks into it I'm learning a lot.

Another Journey that I'm on is how to be a better worship leader as well as guiding the church as staff member. I experience the common frustrations with our people as I, with our pastor, work to educate and guide our people. Some of these I've already touched upon in my first posting. But that post is a couple of years old so we'll see what has changed as well as where I'll go with it.

If you experience or have experienced similar issues, I hope you will feel free to comment. I believe much can be learned from others experiences.