Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Life lately

 2020 was a bad year for me for blogging. I find doing it somewhat therapeutic, and did start several that I never finished. I think once I got it out of my system, that was it. I am going to try to do better this year, not because I think people are dying to read what I write, but because I do normally enjoy it, and it does help to do it.

   This will be one of those multiple topics posts. I separate them to make the post not seem so daunting, and for anyone who does read it can skip around if they want. 

  So without further ado, here is what is on my mind lately - well, at least some of it. :)


   The Covid virus has been running rampant for almost a year now, and I still find myself wondering if all the restrictions and actions have been necessary. I was laid off from the day after Easter thru party of June for 3 months because they shut down visiting at the hospital, which made my position pretty much unnecessary. Thankfully with the extra unemployment I got, I didn't have any financial problems, and paid my car off 2 years early with the extra and the stimulus check. Granted, my payment was only $135 a month, but I owed $2800 in March, and paid that off in June. It was a great feeling. Then I bought an electric piano.

 But if Walmart could be open, then why not restaurants...at least with limited seating? The very day Ohio reopened restaurants, two of my nieces and I ate in one. I have eaten out a lot since then. I live about 25 minutes from Salem, OH, and usually make a trip there every week to buy groceries. Almost every time I go, I eat out...and I eat where I can eat inside. There are still a few restaurants like Arby's and Wendy's that are only take out, and I avoid them. I don't want to eat in my car.

Covid and me

  On October 9, I was feeling really hot towards the end of my work day. Since I have a thermometer I use for visitors, I took my temp and it was 100.4. 100.3 is the highest you can be and visit a patient. On my way home, I started coughing. I called the employee health nurse who scheduled me for a Covid test the next day. They did a rapid test, and I was not at all surprised to find out the next day that I tested positive.

  I ran a variety of symptoms: fatigue, short of breath, fever, cough, loss of appetite, diarrhea, weird foggy feeling...but no loss of taste or smell, which is common. On day 8 of my quarantine, my little sister, who had had the virus,  stopped off with some food. She thought my breathing was bad, so I came to the ER at the hospital I work at. They evaluated me, and put me on a steroid. They didn't admit me, but said if my oxygen levels dropped any more, they would admit me. Two days later, they were down to 82. I packed clothes, my laptop, some books, and my phone charger and went to the ER again.

  They admitted me for 5 days, and I was on oxygen for a couple of those days, and on a steroid...which jacked my sugar up to the 500's. I was very impressed with the care I had.

  I went in on a Friday, and they released me on Tuesday. A doctor or nurse had made an appointment with my regular doctor for the following Monday. He checked me out, and had me stay off work another week because my breathing was still not too great.

 The breathing issue, foggy feeling, and fatigue hung around for a few weeks.

 Most of my family had the virus: parents, both sisters and their husbands, all 3 nephews, and at least one of my 3 nieces. The youngest thinks she may have had it a few months before.


  Masks are one of many things I hate about the Covid era. I am one who refused to wear them until they were mandated. And of course I not only have to wear one at work, I have to enforce people wearing them in the hospital. I didn't even wear them every time I went to Walmart, though I didn't give anyone a hard time. I made the statement on Facebook recently that I refuse to post pictures of me in one, and that if I do post a picture of me in a mask, I am in trouble and need help. :)

  Being on the other side of it as someone enforcing it has made me see things differently. I wear them where required, but still hate them and doubt they help much. Faucci is now recommending people wear two of them, and "experts" are recommending we wear three. Really? There are people in the medical field who insist they don't do any good, and others who swear by them. Even those in charge have waffled about it. If they really do good, then why recommend 2 or 3? And if they work that well, why quarantine when you have the virus? :)

 Many of the pro-mask people are downright obnoxious about it, and I have seen several use Scripture to try to back up their insistence that everyone wear masks. They say to make others feel safe, we should wear them.

 Then on the other side, you have the anti-maskers...which does include me, though I do wear mine where required. Many of them also use Scripture to support their views on masks, and believe a Christian should not give in to wearing them. Many feel it is an attack on our freedoms.

  I honestly cannot see any Biblical evidence to support either view. Before they were mandated, I refused to shop at any business that were requiring them...then the governors of Ohio and PA mandated it everywhere, and I had no choice. I still question the right of a governor to force us to wear them, and also question their right to do some other things......but it isn't the fault of businesses. They have to enforce it because the governors are forcing them to do so.

   I have gotten a lot of attitude because of the new restrictions and rules at the hospital. I have been cursed at, told to go to hell...you name it. It is usually over other stuff, but some of it has been about masks. As much as I hate wearing them, I still have to enforce it, and have masks at my desk. The worst ordeal I had was a few months ago. A man walked in without a mask with his wife for testing. I asked if he had a mask, and he whipped out his cell phone and showed me something saying he had a medical exemption - he seemed all too prepared, and was most likely spoiling for a fight. There are no exemptions at the hospital, and I politely told him that. He went on a rant threatening to call these people, and  those people. He was going to sue  the hospital, he was going to sue me, etc. I asked him to wait a minute til I called my boss...she didn't answer, so I called the second in command who said she would try to get hold of my main boss.

Meanwhile the guy was still shooting his mouth off, and finally said that his appointment was in 5 minutes, and if I made him miss it, I would pay for that also. So I said "just go sir." He said "give me a **** mask, but if I get sick, I am going to sue." I repeated to just go into testing. He started walking away, then stopped and demanded my name. I told him he didn't need that, and he replied "fine...I'll just tell them it was the big fat bald guy at the front desk." Ironically, he was bigger than me. I was worried how he would act when he left, but thankfully I was on the phone helping a guy at my desk. He stopped and stared at me for a minute, but left after I ignored him.

 That is a very extreme example, but I have been wondering for a while if Christians are reacting right in regards to masks. Some seem almost proud to buck the system and not wear one. If the person as the door tells you to put one on, is it OK for a Christian to refuse?


  I have come to really enjoy cooking. I will never be as good of a cook as my mother, but I think I have become a pretty decent cook. I'm definitely no gourmet chef, but I have started to branch out a little and try new things.

 Last Christmas instead of giving you my heart, I bought an air fryer. I really like it, and have used it a lot. One of my favorite things in it is very simple: potatoes cut up with the skins on. I love fried potatoes, but have never had any luck doing them. But in the air fryer...perfect. It does cook a lot of things faster than in the over or stove top.

 This Christmas I bought an Instant Pot. I had been wanting one for a while, and one of the rare good deals on Black Friday was a 6 quart one on Walmart.com normally $99.99, on sale for $49.99.

 The Instant Pot has been a little more challenging to learn and use than the air fryer. It is basically a pressure cooker, so you can't remove the lid until the steam has been released....either naturally, or manually. I have had 2 problems with it so far, but they were user errors.

1) I made Mexican rice that scorched badly. I researched the issue, and it was definitely my fault. There has to be enough liquid in whatever you are making, and the recipe called for a cup of chicken broth. It also called for a cup of tomato paste. My mistake was mixing everything together. When you have a heavy sauce, you are supposed to just layer it on top, not mix it in. I mixed it in, so it scorched.

2) My second mistake was last week. I have made soup in it a few times, and made Chicken Noodle for the first time. I did the manual steam release, and instead of just releasing steam, it also sprayed chicken broth everywhere. I actually wondered if something was wrong with it....but nope! User error. Someone told me when you have a lot of liquid in the pot, to let it release the steam naturally. I am impatient, and the natural way takes longer. I guess I need to be more patient, at least in regards to cooking.

  And I cook without using those two devices. I made chili last week, and started it in the crockpot, but it outgrew that, and I had to transfer it to my biggest roaster/pan that I use sometimes for soup.

  The bad thing is I always make way too much of pretty much anything I make. My family teases me and says I should cook for the army or a big camp meeting.

 My family is big on gag gifts - a tradition I started - and one of my sisters bought me a book of recipes for a potluck. The funny thing is, she had to tell me it was a gag gift. I was like "cool, I can use another recipe book." :)

 Supper tonight is going to be stromboli using frozen bread dough.


  My job has changed so much because of Covid. I have to screen visitors and enforce new rules and restrictions, and most of the time I double as a gatekeeper. I had been laid off for 3 months, from Easter Sunday through part of June while visiting hours were shut down.

  My job duties have changed a lot. I work at the information desk in the lobby. Before, I looked up patient room numbers, gave directions, and helped people in other ways. I often had to run people places in wheel chairs - which I thought was crazy since it took us away from our desks, but no one else would do it.

  Now I am not allowed to leave the lobby, as I have to make sure no one is going where they shouldn't go. Visiting hours from June through November were 10 am-6 pm, unlimited visitors as long as it was one at a time, with the others waiting outside.

 As of the end of November, visiting is 2-4, and it has to be the same person visiting the entire time the patient is in the hospital - add that to the list of things people get mad about and give me a hard time about. I am seriously used to getting verbally harassed and abused. Because of limited seating and trying to limit exposure, they try to limit the amount of people coming in for testing also. Unless the person having a test is a minor or has to have someone with them, the other person or people has to wait out in their car. There are no waiting areas open in the hospital. Of course that goes well in the extreme cold or heat. I had a guy yesterday give me a hard time about that and claiming I was disrespecting a 72 year old man, and what a shame that was....said he was not going to run his car and waste gas. After insisting to talk to someone about it, my boss managed to talk him down.


  The election is over and Biden is president. I do believe there was cheating - there always is - but I am not sure there was enough to tip the scales to him. If Trump voters and supporters are 100% honest, they have to admit Trump is not a nice man - or even a good man. I firmly believe if he had acted better he might have won more people over.

 Instead of trying to woo conservatives who opposed him, he went after them...said he didn't need us, and that we were human scum. He attacked anyone on Twitter who dared oppose him, and in my eyes acted a lot like Obama did with his opposition.

 George W Bush was not perfect, but I can't honestly think of much he did wrong. I didn't like the idea of the NSA listening in on phone conversations and the like, but he was a decent man and decent president. Unlike Obama and Trump, he took whatever crap was thrown at him and acted like a gentleman and acted presidential. I think people have too quickly and too easily forgotten how he acted and reacted during 911. He stood tall, and even many Democrats respected him for that. I shudder to think how Obama, Biden, Gore - had he won - or Trump would have handled that. Gone on Twitter and ranted at the bad guys?

 It seems the main reason so many conservatives are anti Bush now is because he dared not bow to Trump. Conservative and Christian principles, values, and morals are no longer what we judge politicians and voters by....it is their view of Trump. There are true conservatives and decent men who are put down and demonized by Trump supporters because they dare speak out against him. Whether it be a politician, voter, pastor, or whoever.....their conservatism and sadly, even their Christianity, is questioned and taken away if they do not fully embrace and support Trump.

 Examples of the latter: I had a cousin tell me I was not on God's side if I didn't support Trump. Several shared an article before this past election saying that true Christians would vote for Trump. In 2016, Max Lucado shared a great article on why Christians shouldn't support Trump, and was called a Pharisee.......yet if he had posted that about a Democrat, it would have been OK.

 I don't lump all Trump voters and supporters together....but there is a large part of his supporters who are way over the top and I am convinced have made him into an idol. When you say that Trump is the only one standing between us and socialism, and the only one who can do this or that, you are letting God out of the equation. When you treat fellow Christians badly and make false claims about them, Trump has become too important to you. Too many Christians have been putting their faith in a man, politics, and a political country.

 It truly has not been easy being a conservative who hasn't supported Trump. It truly has about destroyed my faith, and has made me doubt everything. If this is what Christianity is - political, Christians fighting and arguing about it, trying to shut down those who disagree, etc - do I want it?

Red trucks

  For the last few years, I have been into the red truck decor. I have incorporated it here and there throughout the house. My living room and a few other rooms have a nautical theme, so I am not sure the trucks go with that...but oh well, it is my house. :)

 I wanted a table runner for the stand in my living room, but it was impossible to find one that wasn't holiday or season themed. I finally settled on a patriotic one that I figure works for most of the year. I have two metal trucks on it. The one came from Hobby Lobby and has moving wheels. I found some miniature feed bags to put in the back.

 The other has stationary wheels, and was one of Walmart's gift sets that has foods or snacks. The trucks - which came in red, white, and green - had a bag of cookies in the bed. I had seen the green and white ones, and was tempted to buy it. Then one day I was there and those were gone and there were red ones. Of course one somehow ended up in my cart. :)

 I also have a few garden flags that have red trucks on. One for fall, one for Christmas, and one for winter that I bought because I couldn't find the Christmas one.


 Speaking of Christmas, I just wasn't in the mood or spirit this year. I was just too depressed and decorated very little. I didn't even put up a tree or send any cards. Our family did get together - the majority of us had had the virus anyway, and I did enjoy that......but I just couldn't get into the season this year. I didn't even get my Christmas CDs or movies out.

The hospital calendar 

 Every year, the hospital I work at has a calendar photo contest. Anyone who works at the 3 hospitals, doctor's offices, convenient cares, or any other facility in the Heritage Valley Health System can submit a photo. Any employee can vote for their favorite 3, and the top 12 are used. I have tried the last few years, and actually won this year. This year's guidelines were different. Since no one could travel much in 2020, it had to be pictures of local things. I submitted a picture I had taken of a covered bridge near me that I took in the winter. It is amazing how many people commented - employees and visitors. Not only is the picture used in the calendar, large posters with the pic and a pic of me and my job title are posted all over the 3 hospitals and any facility in the health system for that month - and mine was January. I was pretty popular for a month. :)

 And it was cool. I asked to have a poster when they change them for February, and am supposed to be given a couple. I thought it would be cool to keep one. Even though they misspelled my name on the poster :)


  My depression has been really bad the last year..worse than anyone knows. I can put up a pretty good front. I am the kind of guy always telling jokes, so I doubt many people have a clue what is going on inside.
 I think the whole virus thing has contributed, and that politics has also really done a number on me. It is really difficult having different views politically from your family and most of your church and acquaintances. I am not going to get political again - just saying it has been rough.

 I hesitate to tell my doc. There was a period of time about 10 years ago or so that my doc at the time kept trying different meds on me, and I hate to do that again. It seems to be worse than ever. I have to about force myself to read, and if anyone knows me at all, they would know that is not normal. January is almost over, and I have read two books this year so far.

 There is no way I'd ever do anything stupid. I firmly believe unless someone is not in their right mind that someone who kills themself is most likely going to drop straight into hell...and I sure don't want to go there. Plus, I would never do that to my family.

Two family scares

  We had two scares in our family in the last couple of months. 

Scare #1 Caitie 

My youngest niece, Caitie, got married in September. She got a great guy we love, and it was a beautiful wedding. About 2 months back, her doctor was afraid some lumps on her neck were lymphoma and ordered a biopsy. We were all worried, but I didn't realize how worried I was til I found the results were negative. I cried like a baby.

 I love all of the kids, but this kid......she has messaged me several times when there has been family gatherings I had to miss because of work to tell me that she missed me and wished I had been there. I thought I was going to have to work Christmas day, but got it off. She messaged me and told me she was glad I could be there, and that she wouldn't have wanted to be at the party if I hadn't been able to go. That pretty much made me cry too. It still hurts that I was never able to be a dad, but I love those 6 kids so much.

Scare #2: Nathan

 A few weeks ago, my 3 nephews were putting Christmas decorations away in their barn loft. The oldest came down the ladder and went inside. Nate, 13, started down, but the ladder fell taking him along. He fell 12-13 feet, and ran in the house bleeding, leaving his brother Ben stuck up in the loft til they remembered him several minutes later.

 He was taken by ambulance to St Elizabeth's in Youngstown, where they kept him overnight. He had several cuts on his face and head, fractured his left wrist, and had a 5 inch long 1 1/2 deep cut in his left leg. No concussion or other injuries. He could have been hurt much worse, especially if he had hit the concrete head first.

 I took him a bucket of his favorite snacks the next evening after he came home from the hospital. He is a tough kid, and impressed the ER staff with how well he took it all.


 Something I struggle with that I don't really talk about is loneliness. Our family gets together when we can, though I can't always be there....but I don't have a social life outside of that and when I take the kids out to eat.

 It may not make sense, and depression probably plays into it some: I am lonely a lot, yet there are times I thrive on being alone. I just am not close enough with anyone to hang out. Today is a Saturday I am off. I did any shopping I needed last night after work. This morning, I went out for breakfast at the restaurant near my house - I walk when it is warm. I'll spend the rest of the day inside by myself.

 I have felt really disconnected from my church and people there for some time. The Trump era hasn't helped that. My best friend says I need to reach out and have people over....but who? I honestly don't have friends...just acquaintances, and am not good at making friends....and who wants to hang out with a 51 year old guy attracted to other guys? I don't feel like I belong anywhere or with anyone except my family... and even they try to shut up my criticisms of Trump and say I am causing division - even though I only criticize him on social media.

  I can understand more than ever why so many gay people embrace their sexuality and try to find someone to love. If you are a guy my age, you are an oddity. I hate sports and don't have much in common with anyone.

 I just find myself wishing sometimes I had someone to watch a movie with, or help eat what I cook. But that isn't happening.

 Thankfully, I really like my house - well, my half of the duplex. I have plenty of room, and like this place the best of any I have ever lived since I have been on my own. I hope I can stay here a long time, and have no intentions of moving.


  I hate to end on a negative note, so I'll share a few of the Bernie memes I have made. I am really amused by this fad or trend, and have been having way too much fun with it.

                                                              In our ER at work

                                                       In the one main hallway at the hospital

                                                                 on my desk at work

                                                               With me at Hocking Hills, OH

                                                                 In front of my house

                                                            At my church

                                                             at the crossing of the Red Sea

                                                         Outer Banks with the kids

                                                           Spying on my niece and her husband :)

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