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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Eric and the Magnets (or Eric and His Inability To Function As A Normal Human Being)

Note: I wrote this on January 22nd and 23rd on the 3rd and 4th days of my 1000 words a day writing experiment.  I just got around to editing and posting it today.
In church today I was playing with some magnets that my wife had given me for Christmas several years earlier (2011, I believe).  They are small powerful magnetic spheres called Buckyballs.  Anyway, I was sorting them out while I was half listening to the sermon, and I noticed that 3 of them were missing.  There were supposed to be 216 and there had always been 216, but now there were only 213.  I started looking around under the chairs, which had metal legs that held magnets considerably well.  I couldn’t find them.  I knew that they had to be somewhere in that area because when I had first counted them they were all there and that was 10 minutes prior.  I got up to go to the restroom and slowly walked to the exit while searching the floor all around the chairs.  I’m sure that I looked quite insane.  I checked my pockets, my belt buckle, inside my shoes, the little metal loopholes on my shoes etc…  I was freaking out because I loved these stupid magnets.  On my way back from the restroom I slowly walked back to my seat while scanning the area and got down on my knees to pretend to pick up my planner off of the floor.  I tried to discreetly run my hands under the chairs that I could reach, but I felt like people were looking so I only got to a couple of legs before I embarrassedly got up and sat back down empty-handed.
While I continued to search as best I could without drawing attention I could hear the pastor speaking about loss and recovery.  Was he watching me?  I don’t think so.  I thought it was funny that that was what the sermon was about, but I was more upset about my missing magnets.  I took a picture of the magnets arranged in such a way that you could see that some were missing and I texted it to my wife, who was teaching a children’s class.  She didn’t seem to care that much.  Finally, after the service ended, I got down on the floor to look.  This drew more attention than I would have liked considering that I am an adult who had lost his toy.  People started to ask me what I had lost and wanted to help.  Several people started looking and a woman saw one of them on a chair two rows in front of me.  I don’t know how that’s possible, but my brother believes that they must have been slingshotted by the pull between the magnets and the chairs.  I consider myself a student of the scientific method, but I’m not technically a scientist and that sounded about as a good a theory as any.  A kid on that row grabbed the magnet, said that he had the other two, and pulled them from his pocket.  I thanked him and anyone else around that had helped.  I left embarrassed, but grateful that I had my magnets back.  I told my wife the story and that I thought it was odd that they would have not only fallen off the strand, but also launched so far away.  She said that God was telling me that I shouldn’t play with toys in church.  Maybe that or maybe I was supposed to physically recover something that I lost.  I don’t know, I’m no good with metaphor, but for sure she shouldn’t have given a 31 year old a toy if she didn’t want him to play with it.
After the magnet incident I was standing in that same general area talking to a man that I’ve known most of my life or almost as far back as I can remember anyway.  I will forever be in debt to this man for introducing me to The Princess Bride, a movie that I never would have watched because it sounded too girly, a movie that completely changed the way my brain works.  We were talking about my brother’s writing and my dreams of being a writer and how following one’s passion is terrible advice to give anyone with responsibilities.  I could feel my insides starting to vibrate, a feeling I get when the nervousness of interacting with another adult human being starts to overwhelm me.  I knew that if I didn’t get this under control my lower jaw would join in with the rest of my vibrating insides and it would give away that there was something badly wrong with me.  I started to regulate my breathing to try to at least slow the vibrations down.  I knew this conversation was almost over since everyone was hungry because church had already run late, not later than usual particularly, but later than it’s supposed to in theory.  I guess we’re all used to that by now though.
While we were still talking and I was attempting to regulate my insides another man came up to join in the conversation.  I will forever be in debt to him for introducing me to the Terminator movies (the only 2 that count), while I probably would have seen them eventually I don’t think I would have been able to see Terminator 2 unspoiled later in life, these movies also bent my brain.  He was the one who had initially joined in the search for my lost magnets and probably the only reason I got them back considering I wasn’t going to search as extensively for them as he did or, for any reason ever, ask for help.  He’s another man that I’ve known for most of my life, but not quite as long as I’ve known the first man.  Both of these men are old enough to be my father, but are younger than my actual father.  We all stood there and talked about the job searches we were doing and what our little town had to offer.  I started to calm down some and I managed to keep the vibrations confined to my chest.  I continued the regulated breathing and offered any insights I had whenever I felt like they were useful or I had been quiet for far too long.  This was working.  I was having a grown up conversation with other grown men like grown ups do.  I was taking it easy, breathing normally, and most importantly not outwardly vibrating like a mental patient.  Then a woman walked up and said she needed to ask me something.
I’ve known this woman for about 19 years, but not really known her at all.  She’s been around for the 19-ish years.  She married a person that I’ve known most of my life, probably longer than the first 2 men I was talking to.  We are probably close to the same age, I think she’s a couple of years older than me, I’m not really sure about that though.  I know her husband is a couple of years older.  This is only relevant because it’s a weird thought that popped into my head.  She asked the second man I was talking to, who is also a church elder, to stay and then asked me if I wanted to be the person at the church that puts the song lyrics on the screens people read song lyrics off of.  I think there was more to the job than that.  Something about scheduling and texting people, but the scariest part, by far, was the lyrics on the screen thing.  She asked me to pray about it, and talk to my wife.  At this point they were both looking at me, and I was fully vibrating including chin quivers.  I’m sure it was a combination of embarrassment from the lost toy, the nervousness of the conversation I was just having, and me being extremely terrified of the social anxiety and flop sweat that would surely come from me not getting the right lyrics on the screen fast enough while people were trying to praise Jesus.
They were not standing there to be distracted by my ineptitude though.  So, I clenched my teeth as hard as I could to stop the quivering and looked at them while they were talking to me.  She said that she had heard I was good with computers.  I’m not, I’m good at Googling how to do what I need to do and it gives people the illusion that I know what the crap I am doing.  I know many people that are far better at computers.  The elder told me that he remembers me having an ear for music, which is sort of true, but it’s completely untrained, unpracticed, and somehow having the ear for music doesn’t mean I have an ear for lyrics.  The lyrics seemed like the most important factor here.  While I was listening to them, trying to take turns looking into each of their eyes in a normal and non robotic way, and clenching my teeth I was hoping that they didn’t think I was angry with them.  I don’t know if the muscles tightening in my face were visible, but I do know that they were starting to hurt a bit.
I was standing, listening, clenching, and nodding all while the vibrations in my chest were dialed up to 11 as a thought popped into my head.  Back before we had computers and screens all over the church we had one projector, one pull down screen, a couple of crates of slides, and Nancy Lynch.  I don’t think anyone can do this job as well as she did in my memory.  Nancy Lynch was my mother’s best friend and essentially my second mother.  When we were growing up if we weren’t at home we were probably over at her house and if my mother wasn’t bringing us home from school Nancy was.  Nancy had all the authority to give us any advice she thought we needed and to scold us if we were acting like idiots.  She took that responsibility seriously from when I met her at 5 years old to the day I graduated from high school.  After that I didn’t see her quite as much and our relationship changed from mother/son to friendly acquaintance, but I never forgot and she’s always had a special place in my memories.  We lost Nancy a little over a year ago and I’m sad about that, but I didn’t have time to be sad right now because these people were still looking at me and I was still shaking.
I told her that I felt that my skills had probably been exaggerated, but I would be willing to help with anything that they think I can help with.  She said that she was sure I would be fine and that I should go pray and talk to my wife and that it was okay to say no, that there was not any obligation.  That was my morning.
Eric Anderson

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Eric and the Lawsuit

So, I was sued yesterday.  Well, actually my wife and I were both sued separately for the same thing, and it wasn’t yesterday it was March 7.  She was served two sets of paperwork yesterday for both of us.  That’s a pretty weird feeling.  I mean, it’s a terrible feeling, but it’s kind of the top of a pretty terrible pile of terrible feelings.  It’s kind of hard to explain, but we have had several years of bad things happen that are mostly our fault and have all had pretty decent silver linings so far.  Starting with the completely unplanned pregnancy of our 3rd child to yesterday we haven’t had the best luck (I don’t believe in luck, but it seemed like the best term to get my point across), but we have been blessed enough to be able to keep moving forward.
Getting served papers is a surefire way to realize that you are an adult.  I may be twice the age that it takes to be considered legally an adult, I may be married with three children, and I may have a mortgage, but when someone shows up at your door asking your name and handing you legal looking papers you will know that you have made it to adulthood.  
Basically, we borrowed money from a company that loans money to people that need money.  You don’t need to lecture me on how big of a mistake that is, I know.  I knew when I borrowed the money as it was far from the first time that we had done it.  We have borrowed a lot of money from a lot of different institutions over the years.  This wasn’t even the first time we had borrowed from this specific business.  We had always paid back the money we borrowed along with the astronomically high interest.  High interest is just something that you have to put up with when you go to these places.  When we borrowed this money, the largest sum we had ever borrowed from anyone, we had absolutely every intention of paying it back too.
In the summer of 2014 we had our amazing surprise baby and we bought a house.  All of the expenses involved in buying a house added up more than we ever knew possible (this doesn’t even take into account the new amount of money spent on daycare and diapers).  I can’t say how my wife feels about it now, but if I had known how much of a hassle it would be to buy a house I would have kept renting.  I do love my house and I love owning a house, but I don’t like hassle or stress (I know that no reasonable person does, but I like it less than most people do [I can’t really prove that because I haven’t met most of the people* ])
Anyway, we needed some money after all of this and took out a loan.  We made payments on it for a few months, but then our plant slowed way down and eventually closed completely 14 months later.  Unfortunately, my wife and I both worked at the same place so that was kind of sucky.  I told the people about this situation and they said they wanted to work with us, but we didn’t really have any money so that was hard for them to understand.  They asked if I could borrow some money from friends or relatives.  If that had been the case we would never have borrowed money from them in the first place.  I haven’t quite figured out the silver lining to this situation yet, but I’m sure it’ll show up eventually.  I doubt it will be as good as having a whole new person and a house, but here’s hoping.
It may surprise you to learn that I’m not a lawyer.  So, I looked into my options on how to handle this thing and they don’t seem great or easy.  I have to file and answer to the citation within a certain number of days.  I don’t know what an answer is because there isn’t really a question on the citation.  I think it’s just a response to it though.  I don’t know what to say other than “hey, you got me”.  If I do nothing the court will probably do something called a default judgement.  I think that just means that I will really owe them the money that I already owe them.    The internet has led me to believe that they aren’t allowed to garnish my wages in Texas, so there’s a plus I never knew about.  I have every intention of paying all of the money back that I owe whenever I am financially stable with a steady income, but that’s not today.  I feel bad about it, but I don’t know what else I can do.
I am generally a negative person.  It’s my default setting.  I don’t necessarily like that about myself, but I think it helps me see through more bullshit that most happy people (I’m open to that just being a justification I made up for my terrible mood).  I guess it’s not the best way to live a life and it certainly takes its toll.  In the last year and a half my attitude has begun to slowly change (emphasis on slowly) towards being more positive.  I like to think it’s because I started going to church, but I think the change started a few months before that.  I could point out that I lost a lot of stress when I was fired (laid off, whatever, same result) from my job, but that gave me all new stresses.  I suppose the new stresses were probably slightly lower than the old stresses, but I also lost a sense of purpose.  So, maybe that’s not it.  I have also spent almost all day every day with my two smallest children.  That’s a whole different kind of stress, but also makes me feel a little happy.  I don’t know.  Maybe God was working on me before I started going back to church, maybe.
As nice as all of that is though there has been a tremendous amount of negativity.  Last year was difficult for me for multiple reasons that I don’t need to get into.  The point is that, and I don’t have specificexamples for this, every time I feel even slightly productive something bad happens to me that gets me down for longer than anything should get anyone down.  Yesterday was no exception, but I decided not to let it win and I am writing this thing right now to prove to it that it won’t win this time.  I’m sorry if this was too negative or boring.  I hate it when people whine about bad things that happen to them even though it’s clearly their fault.  I don’t want you to feel that way about me or this.  I know that I messed up and I am accepting responsibility.  I just wanted to write about a thing that happened to me and how I felt about it.  Thanks for reading
Eric Anderson
P.S.  This is not the thing I mentioned that I was “working on” in the last post.  Sorry, again.

* This joke has been stolen and paraphrased from the excellent Sandra Bullock/Hugh Grant rom-com Two Weeks Notice.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Eric and The "Fast" Part III

This post isn’t really going to be about the fast I was just on, but instead about the incident that happened while I was on the fast and possibly even because of it.  So, if you skipped Part II, welcome back.  If you stuck it through and read all that other crap, thank you.  If you already read this and circled back you wouldn’t be reading this again, so never-mind.  Either way here’s what I think about the verse I heard.  I am no stranger to having conversations with myself.  I have them all of the time and have for as long as I can remember.  One of the main reasons that I love listening to podcasts and having tv on in the background so much is because it drowns out the voices, but if there’s a chance that some of the time one of the voices I’m talking to isn’t me and is actually God I’m going to have to reevaluate the way I carry on up there in my brain.  The conversations can get pretty irreverent.  Okay, so for recap purposes, here’s the verse again:
“Turn at my rebuke; Surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you.” - Proverbs 1:23 NKJV
Okay, so I didn’t know the meaning of rebuke exactly, I had a vague idea about what pouring out the spirit meant, but the last line really struck me.  I was surprised that this random verse that I thought I had just pulled from out of thin air indicated so clearly that I couldn’t have just done that.  It had to be God, right?  That blew my mind a little so I started looking into what the whole verse was trying to say.  Basically, I have to stop doing something wrong and repent before God will pour out His spirit and make His words known to me.  There are so many things that I do that are wrong that I don’t even know where to begin, but I’m told that if I ask Him He will convict me.  That sounds so much easier than it is for me.
“He is going to reveal Himself to you personally in such a way that the only explanation will be it was supernatural.” - Valerie Light 10-18-16
That’s a small section of a word that Valerie, a woman that I go to church with and have known most of my life, gave me back in October.  The rest of it was about writing and I do want to get into that in a later post that I’ve been working on, but that line especially has been with me since the day she gave me the word.  It’s had me excited, nervous, and slightly more aware than usual all at the same time.  I’ve been on the lookout for it and I have to admit that I thought it would be bigger than a few words spoken to me about a bible verse, but maybe I’ve been looking for it wrong.  I don’t want to discount this as not being the big deal that it is, but I was hoping for something a little less ambiguous.  I like clear instruction, but I also like to analyze everything to death so maybe if I think about it this was actually perfect for me.
I looked at the verse again and questioned why the “my”s weren’t capitalized.  Was it even God that was speaking?  I went up to verse 20, the beginning of the section my verse was in, and it appeared that it was Wisdom who was speaking.  I didn’t even know where to begin to understand what that meant.  I asked the only biblical scholar that answers my random texts, my mother, who was speaking.  She said that Solomon probably wrote it, and he was using God’s words, and it’s some kind of poetry or metaphor.  My brain doesn’t do metaphor so well because I’m a fairly literal person.  I kind of hate that about myself, but only because it makes things like this harder to understand.  If all of what she said was correct then it was God that was speaking, but using the name Wisdom.  That still meant I had to take it seriously and change something about myself, but I knew that before I read the verse.  I went back to verse 23 and read beyond it:
“Because I called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, because you disdained all my counsel, and would have none of my rebuke, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes, when your terror come like a storm, and your destruction come like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.  Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but the will not find me.” - Proverbs 1:24-28 NKJV
I will admit that while that would be pretty terrifying on a regular day, on the second day of self induced “starvation” it freaked me right out.  I haven’t been able to unpack what all of that meant yet and maybe it wasn’t meant for me right now, but maybe it was.  Maybe my initial reaction to the first verse was the right one though.  Maybe the last line jumped out at me because God wanted me to read that line and nothing else.  Maybe it jumped out at me because it was the only line I could easily understand.  I have always been extremely skeptical and dubious of things that regular people are quick to call God, but this one is harder for me to dismiss.  “I will make my words known to you”.  That was pretty cool.  I’m not discounting the rest of the verse though.  That first part is just harder to deal with right now.
Just for the sake of argument and to make this post even longer let’s say that I was meant to continue reading past that verse. “Because I called and you refused”.  I have had a feeling that I was called to be a writer.  I’ve had this feeling somewhat corroborated randomly by other people that don’t even really know what’s going on with me, and some that do.  It’s kind of a calming feeling, but also terrifies me at the same time.  It’s calming because I want it to be true so badly that it hurts sometimes, and hearing that it is true makes me happy.  It’s terrifying because my want is so strong I worry that it is clouding my own personal judgement.  It’s overwhelming, and I’ve mostly ignored the call because of the fear, but “refused” seems a little extreme.  I mean, I know I’ve only posted 6 things in the last year so I could see how that could be viewed as refusal.  I’ve been working on a post about my calling for about 10 months, but I haven’t written much of it yet.  It’s always the next thing I’m planning on doing right after I rewatch Parks and Recreation* for the 2nd time.
Give me wisdom
To develop strategies
To walk in victory
For Your glory.”
Anthony White 2-14-11
That prayer is written inside almost every notebook that I actively use, on two different post-its stuck to my monitor, and occasionally it’s my phone’s wallpaper.  I was instructed to say it every day for the rest of my life and occasionally I even remember to do that.
I may have started or at least stayed on the fast for the wrong reasons, but something interesting did come from it.  It may have raised more questions for me than it answered, but I think that could be a good thing.  I will try to stay on track and get to the bottom of this.  I am planning on finally writing my feelings about this thing I believe that I was called to do, and I hope I will be able to post something next week.  I know that statistically speaking this will probably be my last post until sometime around September though.  I hope that I can break that trend.  I have 10 months of scattered thoughts and notes that I need to compile.  I will pray the above prayer and also ask God to help me get every thought into the post that He wants to be there and that it will make some kind of sense to someone when I’m finished.
Eric Anderson
*insert your favorite sitcom here.  I’ve probably watched it at least once if not three times.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Eric and The "Fast" Part II

I think I might have heard God tell me to look up a specific Bible verse that I didn’t understand the first two-thirds of and ended with the text “I will make my words known to you”, but let me tell you about how my three day fast went before I write about it.  Does that sound fair? No? I guess you could skip to Part III (whenever I get around to posting that), but only if you promise to come back and read this one.  I’m just kidding, do whatever you want.
Day one was actually an easy day where most of my hunger was psychological.  I know that there was real hunger there too, but really it was me “forgetting” that I was on a fast and thinking of things that I could grab and eat quickly.  I managed to remember before it was too late, but I almost got some gum.  I was dizzy, sort of hazy, and had a mild dull ache in my skull towards the end of the day.  I would describe it as being in a daydream like state where I had trouble focusing on where I was or what I was doing, which would have been fine had I not been trying to wrangle 2 small active children and a medium sized instigating child at church.  I managed to make it home alive with all of the kids in a similar state to when they left, but it was tiring.  I slept fairly well with the previously mentioned caffeine withdrawal induced headache waking me occasionally at odd hours of the morning.
Day two was much more difficult because on top of the hunger there was an excruciating headache, though it was only bad until around noon.  It persisted throughout the day, but grew milder towards bed time.  I fell asleep more easily on day two, but was awaked with an extreme calf and ankle pain around 3:00 am.  I managed to ignore it and fall back asleep for the rest of the night.
I woke up on day three without a headache or cravings for food.  I thought that everything would be great that whole day because I was lead to believe that day three was about my body’s acceptance and new found clarity.  I was quite hopeful that I would continue without hunger and see the world through a whole new light.  That is not what happened for me.  After I drank my first bottle of water something awakened in my stomach that let me know that what I was doing was absolutely unacceptable.  I was so hungry for the rest of the day that I started counting the hours before it was time for me to go to sleep and finally let it all be over.  I don’t even want to tell you what this fast did to my bowels, and you certainly don’t want to read it.  I had considered, on day two, extending my fast through Saturday night because that’s when it was actually supposed to end, but there was just no way.  I am a weak weak man.
I want anyone that is considering doing this to know that it is probably different for every person, but for me day three was torture.  I was weak, I was tired, but I was not sleepy.  It felt like I had downed a six pack of red bull.  I was jittery, and I thought was starving.  I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me and, again, I am not bragging about what I did.  This was a thing that I’ve always wanted to try, and I’m glad that I did it.  I think I will probably try it again at some point, but not soon.  Hopefully next time I will have the willpower to pray more and watch tv less.  My default when anything is wrong with me is to watch tv, it is my comfort food, well, that and actual food.
Saturday morning I was awakened at 3:50 AM with a tension headache, a warm tingly sensation all over my skin, achy muscles, and anxiety about what was happening me.  My first thought was a blood pressure problem.  So, after I laid there for 20 minutes or so trying to go back to sleep I got up to check my blood pressure.  It was actually lower than when I went to bed Friday night and well within my normal range.  There was no way I could go back to sleep so I watched tv until 5:00 am when I finally ate breakfast, drank some tea, and took a bunch of vitamins.  I ate too much, but I didn’t get sick.  I just know it was way too many calories, too many to admit here anyway.  I know that’s the first mistake most people make coming off of a fast, but, again, I am a weak weak man.
Eric Anderson
To be continued…

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Eric and The "Fast" Part I

March 9, 2017
I feel terrible.  I’m on the second day of a fast, and I’ve never really fasted before unless you count a couple of small ones that I did for some cleanses I tried out when I was younger.  I didn’t succeed at those beyond the first day though.  So, right now I am further than I’ve been before.  I don’t know what I’m doing.  When I was a kid my parents would fast all of the time, or it seemed like a lot to me anyway.  I’ve never understood the point exactly, but I think it has something to do with proving to God that you’re serious about whatever you’re fasting and praying for.  I’m open to being completely wrong about that and pretty much anything else for that matter. I welcome your input.
I have wanted to do a fast or start a regular fasting schedule for years for health reasons.  I read a study (ok, an article about a study, have you ever tried to read a study?) several years ago about some people who fasted once a week that were healthier than us normal folk.  So, when our speaker last Sunday said that she was going to start fasting on Wednesday the 8th of March through Friday the 10th (NOTE: it turns out that I got the dates wrong and started and ended earlier than I was supposed to) and praying for our country’s leadership I figured that would be a good time to start.  While I’m not nearly as happy with the people in power as she is, I do believe that it is my job as a Christian to pray for them.  When I really think about it and get passed all of the nonsense, personal feelings, and negative emotions that I have I know that-while it would be a complete surprise to me-I do want them to succeed because they are leading my country, and I want us to succeed.
It’s important to me that you understand I am not bragging about this thing that I’m doing.  I don’t even think that I’m doing it right.  The first day I didn’t do anything truly spiritual.  I prayed a couple of vague prayers, and spent the rest of the day pretty busy with my kids and occasionally watching TV.  I went to church, but I mostly just felt kind of dizzy and disconnected even though I did enjoy being there.  
The main thing that’s keeping me at this is my fear of death and/or disappointing myself.  After she announced that she would be fasting and that we were welcome to join I started researching the health benefits of fasting.  I discovered that there are many benefits, and also, many medical doctors say it’s terrible because no one can ever agree on anything ever.  The one benefit that was most important to me was the lowering of blood pressure.  I have been trying to figure out how to get off of blood pressure medicine for months, but I’ve been too scared to do it without my doctor, and I know that my doctor would never allow it because of my extreme obesity.
I bought a home blood pressure monitor about a month ago and tried to go a day without my medication, but I felt terrible and became too scared to continue even though my numbers were normal.  Part of the reason I switched to a plant-based diet (veganism, sort of, mostly) was to get off of medication, but soon after I discovered a whole new world of vegan junk food that I was too weak to avoid.
So, here I am on the second day of my fast with a fairly large headache, which is mostly attributed to the lack of caffeine from when I stopped drinking my usual 8 cups of tea (I’m fairly certain that’s the cause).  I haven't had anything but water since Wednesday night, including vitamins, supplements, and medication, but I checked my blood pressure this morning and it averaged 121/72.  I don’t know a lot about blood pressure numbers, but I know that one is around normal.  Normal enough for me not to be terrified anyway.
So, does fasting to get closer to God work if you are benefitting from it in other areas?  I don’t know.  I asked someone and googled some things and it seems that the reason in your heart is the one that God goes with.  I’m not entirely sure what my heart is feeling, but I do know that I have spent the last 10 months trying to get closer to God, while not really trying as hard as I could or should.  I started going to church again, I started tithing again, I pray more than I used to, I regularly think about what God wants from me, but I still sin on an extremely regular basis.  I’m not proud of that, and I would get into some of my more evil sins, but I think it might hurt people that I’m close to.  I don’t mind sharing though because while I am ashamed of my sins I have no actual shame.
This morning I sat down to read some more of The Shack.  I’ve only read 2 chapters (earlier this week), but I’ve had the book for 4 years and many many people have suggested that I read it.  One person even, some might say quite foolishly, went to the extreme of loaning me her copy.  I had a headache and felt dizzy, but I wanted to finish the book.  As I sat down to read it I heard in my head a faint voice say “wrong book”.  I don’t know if the voice was God, it sounded an awful lot like my own inner voice, but I knew immediately what the voice meant.  I am a Christian, but I have never read the Bible all of the way through, still not bragging.  It’s very hard for me to focus, and anytime I’ve ever started I’ve given up pretty quickly.
I silently said to the voice “but the other book is so big how would I know where to start?”.  The voice answered “I’ll show you”.  Then I heard “Proverbs”.  Ok, that’s not something that usually happens to me, but I was pretty sure it was just me antagonizing myself.  I do that frequently.  I will constantly ask God a question then “He?” answers with what I think He would say or what I want Him to say, but usually it’s the harder answer so it’s mostly what I think He would say.  I assume that He is disappointed in me and if I’m asking Him what I should do I always get the harder choice back immediately.
So, I sat there for a minute considering whether or not I should open the Bible or go back to my friend’s copy of the book.  I decided “why not? I’ll check the Bible and hope that I will get more clarification than just Proverbs.”  I opened the app on my phone and asked again where in the Bible I should go.  I heard Proverbs again and selected the book.  I asked what chapter.  I heard “1”.  Really? 1? This had to be me messing with me, right? I asked again and heard “1:23”.  Okay, I pressed 1 and prayed that there was a 23.  There was. “Turn at my rebuke; Surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you.” - Proverbs 1:23 NKJV.  
March 11, 2017
Ok, I wrote everything above on Thursday after making my children peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I only had about a 20 minute window of being left alone to write it and I never revisited, sorry.  Also, if you have never been on a fast and smelled bread that you weren’t going to be able to eat then you don’t know real psychological torture (NOTE: I am joking, of course, my life has been very blessed, I have nothing bad enough to complain about ever, and real psychological torture is much worse than anything that I have ever experienced).  I’ve gone on far too long here though so I will visit the rest of the fast and the Bible verse(s) in the next post.  I promise.  Thank you for reading.

Eric Anderson

To be continued...
P.S.  This particular fast I was on was based on Esther’s fast.  She asked her women to fast with her for 3 days before she went before the king to try to save her people.  This could have gotten her killed, but she did it anyway.  Spoiler Alert: God helped her succeed in a pretty big way.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Eric and the 1000 Words - Day 6

This is my sixth day in a row to write 1000 words.  That’s a little presumptive of me considering that I’m currently trying to write my sixth 1000 words, but I’m going to presume success based on the last five days of being successful.  I kind of hate this, especially when I remember that better writers set their word counts per day at much higher.  I used to have a morning routine that involved searching facebook, reddit, facebook, reddit, and then facebook again for over an hour.  Now I wake up, and check my email then I’m just bored.  I’m too tired to write though.  My brain isn’t fully functional this early in the morning (I know that 7 isn’t early, but my brain hasn’t figured that out).  I don’t actually know in advance when my brain will be fully functional.  It doesn’t seem to have a set schedule, and when it does come to me I’m usually busy doing something else.  I guess this process is me trying to train my brain to do what I want when I’m ready for it, but it’s been a fight.  There are posts that I want to write, but I just don’t feel the mood that I think I need to be in to write them properly.  In order to avoid writing what I think I should be writing, but also meet this arbitrary requirement of writing 1000 words every day before I’m allowed to take a break, I have written about my last job (in the most boring chronological order), my last Sunday at church, a disclaimer about reading my blog, and some childhood events to help convince you that I have a mental disorder.  So, I guess, here’s a story for you:
In September of 2013, the day after my birthday, I posted a note on facebook thanking everyone for their birthday wishes and made a declaration that this was my Jesus year.  I know that’s kind of a weird or stupid thing to say, but to me that just meant that I was now 33 years old and I was going to do something big, obviously not as big as Jesus, but big for me.  I felt like my whole life had been building up to something, and I was finally going to make it happen.  I was excited.  I wrote the declaration to try to motivate myself to continue, and so that anyone that read it could hold me accountable if I didn’t, not that I really believed that they would.  Then I spent a month feeling pretty happy about it, and trying to figure out what I could write or what was the best plan of action to see this through.  Every day that I didn’t do anything I grew a little more skeptical that I would ever do anything, but I kept forgiving myself because I still had plenty of time.  I came up with a story idea and thought about it a little every day, but as November approached I didn’t want to start writing anything because maybe this would finally be the year that I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  NaNoWriMo is a competition to write a 50,000 word fiction novel during the month of November.  That’s 1,667 words per day.  The novel isn’t supposed to be edited, and the only way to win is to turn in 50,000 consecutive original words.  That’s it.  Everyone that completes that task is a winner.  It’s something that I’ve wanted to do every year since I heard about it in 2010.  I’ve never done it.
In the middle of October, while I was feeling pretty happy about the plan I had for my life, my wife worriedly announced that she thought she might be pregnant.  I started to feel some pretty intense anxiety and disbelief when she told me because she wasn’t supposed to be able to do that.  She had had a tubal ligation in early 2012 about 6 months after our son was born.  I didn’t even want to buy a test because I thought it was impossible for her to be pregnant.  She bought a couple of pregnancy tests anyway and it turned out that she was, indeed, pregnant.  This was some pretty depressing news for both of us.  We had a plan.  We had one of each, and we were finished.  We were not prepared for this.  We both had good jobs, but the hours had been cut way back, and there had been layoffs at the factory where we worked.  We had good insurance though, and we were going to figure out how to make this work.  We lived in a tiny two bedroom rental house where our 7 year old daughter, and 2 year old son were already sharing a room.
When we tried to go back to the doctor who had done the surgery, she wouldn’t see us because we owed some money from the last kid she delivered.  Something had happened with our insurance where the policy changed 17 days before he was born, and we owed money that we weren’t expecting to owe.  My wife had already quit her job (she took 11 months off with him) so we couldn’t pay her.  I understand that she was running a business, but considering that she was the one that made a mistake, and now we have a whole new person because of it she could have taken the time to at least talk to us.  A lot of the “lawyers” that I worked with thought that we should sue her (everyone that you work with is a lawyer or doctor depending on what advice they think you need at the time).  I actually really considered looking into suing.  Mostly because I didn’t know how we were ever going to manage taking care of another baby.  Day care is pretty expensive.  After not much thought though, I decided to drop the whole idea because my mother always told me that suing people is a sin.  I don’t know if that’s true, but it just didn’t feel right and probably would have been a lot of work to get done.  Plus, I didn’t want my new daughter to ever think that we won money because we didn’t want her. 
That’s something that I try to make clear anytime I tell this to anyone.  We did not expect her, and we did not in any way plan for her, but we absolutely wanted her.  She is a joy.  She’s one of the funniest most intelligent people that I have ever met.  She makes me laugh every single day.  We would probably never know that we were missing anything if we didn’t have her, but we would be missing something, something good.
We spent most of 2014 stretching our finances and living with as little as we possibly could preparing for our new child (we could have lived with less, but we didn’t know that).  We knew that we were going to need more room so I contacted a realtor.  My wife had always wanted to own a home, but I was resistant because I didn’t want to admit that I was going to live here forever.  We found a home about 3 months before she was born, but we didn’t move in until 2 months after she was born (maybe someday I’ll write about the joys of trying to buy a house, maybe tomorrow, who knows?).  We moved in 4 days before my 34th birthday.  So, I guess the big thing that I was going to do during that year wasn’t writing, but instead, laying down roots and building my family.  It was pretty ridiculous of me to bring up Jesus when I never even asked for HIs help, but looking back on the whole thing it’s pretty clear that He was giving it to us any way.  It’s taken 36 years, but Mineral Wells has actually kind of grown on me, only kind of though.  I went a little over my word count this time.
Eric Anderson

Friday, January 20, 2017

Eric and the 1000 Words

This is what it has come to.  I’m punishing myself, at the very least, I’m withholding joy from myself until I accomplish something.  I have filled my life with distractions.  Facebook, reddit, podcasts, tv, video games, and pretty much any other projects the happen to pop into my head that aren’t actually productive.  As long as it isn’t writing I will throw myself headlong right into it.  I don’t know why I need to escape from my brain, but I do.  I have been aware of this need for several years; I’ve even written about it before, but that was a long time ago.  I obviously haven’t learned how to prevent myself from falling into that trap so I’ve come up with a plan.
I am not going to allow myself to look at the internet (unless it’s specifically for research or a job search for that matter), play any video games, watch tv, or listen to podcasts until I have written 1000 words every day.  I will allow myself to listen to music, read, play with my children, etc…  These distractions are important to my soul.  This might be overly ambitious for someone who hasn’t written more than a total of 3 paragraphs in the last 8 months, but it’s the kind of drastic measure that I need right now.
This is the first 1000 words, and it’s harder than I thought it would be.  I should have expected this though, considering I spent 45 minutes staring at my computer screen last night.  I only wrote three sentences.  I have a pretty big piece planned.  I’ve been working on it for most of the last 8 months, but I’ve only been working on it in my head.  I’ve written it and re written it over and over and never put any of it down on paper (screen?).  I don’t know why it’s so easy for me to compose these words when I’m busy doing other things with my hands, but then I draw a complete blank when I’m confronted with the keyboard and screen.  I think I’ve been building pressure over the last year and now I’m at a point where I’m terrified to fail.  I believe that this is my last best hope for happiness.  If I can’t write, If I’m not a writer then what am I and why have I been lying to myself for all of these years.
I didn’t want this post to be about writing.  I have a lot of ideas about myself that are tied to me being a writer, but I wanted that to be in the bigger piece that I was talking about earlier.  If you’ve read this far and you are bored I’m sorry.  I knew that this first post was going to suck, and I pretty much set out with the plan of it sucking.  I needed to lower the bar for myself and prove that I could, at least, suck for 1000 words.  I promise that I won’t be posting every 1000 words that I write, but i’m putting this up to show where my head is.  I guess I can tell you what my life has been like for the last year.
The plant that my wife and I worked for closed down on December 17, 2015.  We had both worked there for several years.  Neither of us particularly liked our jobs because it conflicted with our personal politics, but we liked the people and we were pretty good at what we did.  I guess that last part is a matter of opinion, but we were good enough for them to keep us around until the day they closed the doors.  We both spent the next six months on unemployment searching for a new place to pay us to live.  She was hired the week before her unemployment ran out, and I have been staying at home taking care of the kids while draining my 401k.  It’s been stressful, but not as stressful as you would think.  Don’t get me wrong, I have a new found respect for anyone that stays at home to take care of children.  They are a nightmare, but I thought I would be more stressed about not knowing where my next paycheck was going to come from.  Sometimes I think the lack of stress is from a deep depression that I can’t pull myself out of, and sometimes I think it’s God telling me that everything is going to be okay.
I know that I am depressed and anytime I even think about writing I talk myself out of it by pointing out that everything I write is narcissistic nonsense that no sane person would give a crap about.  I also know that since I started going to church again back in April 2016 I have felt a shift in my attitude.  At first I was angry every single week.  I was angry at God, at the people, at myself, and just angry at the situation.  I only started going because my mom asked that we all come on Mother’s day, and I didn’t want everyone to think that was the reason so we started going 2 weeks before that day.  Something convinced me that I needed to be there.  I told myself it was for my kids, but it was just as much for me and my wife.  Every week I left the service pissed off at something someone said or did.  I don’t know why, but my politics seem to greatly differ from the leadership's politics.  That hasn’t changed but I am less offended by it now than I was then.  My anger began to subside and I would alternate between feeling motivated one week and pissed off again the next week.  Now I’m only angry a fourth of the time.
I’ve also felt myself forgive things that I thought were unforgivable, by me anyway, but I’ll have to talk about that later because that’s been my 1000 words.
Eric Anderson