Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Fat Tuesday & Thin Paychecks

Today is pay day - normally a day of much rejoicing - but due to the thin month of February and a slightly guilty if ill-timed decision to up my 401k contribution, my pay check was less fruitful than normal today.

To add to the lack of joy, I came home to find hospital bill creditor notices that needed to be paid because they've capitulated to the "Main Household Hospital Bill Paying Plan" which is essentially - "Don't pay 'em anything until they agree to cut the entire balance in half." Unfortunately they picked thin pay check time to make their offer and they're not the type of folks who give a lot of leeway.

Still we'll be fine, which is a fairly amazing scenario for us...being able to pay our creditors and still eat, tithe, and keep the lights on. You need only scroll back through the archives of this blog a year or two to find a precariously different financial picture. We have reclaimed a small portion of financial stability...still in debt up to our ears, but no one is chewing on our lower parts...at least not too vigorously.

Amy and I have also been reclaiming our relationship lately and that's been a good thing. With the exception of our wonderful mini-retreat to The Big House, to a large extent this process has meant we leave our house on Friday nights and go to a "dive bar." If I have to define that term for you, think smoky, not super sanitary, with a good jukebox. It's a place where we occupy most of our time playing darts.

Yes, it's a cheap date. I'll have a glass or two of wine, Amy will have some drink that tastes like chocolate milk...our dart throwing ability never improves. We play for fun, only against each other, basically we stink at the game, but winning in darts is not our intent anyway.

That's about the highlight of it. We love it...except for the smoke.

I mention that reclamation process only because today is the last day before Lent and there will be some things I'll be giving up tomorrow - one of which will be wine. I'll also be observing a strict dietary fast and getting back into the habit of walking for 40 minutes every day for the next 40 days, a daily discipline which I have sloughed off entirely in recent months. Amy is vowing to try to join me on my daily walks - if I slow down - I'm not sure how we'll do on that part, but the initial idea is quite pleasing, more time together out of the house.

I was talking to some of the kids at church last weekend about Lent and the conversation quickly seemed to be consumed by the idea of dieting and exercising. I found myself sounding the alarm and wanting to make certain that they didn't mistake my Lenten disciplines for a weight loss plan.

Yes, I'll likely lose weight and yes I'm giving up my modicum of wine drinking, but that's not my purpose. I suddenly found myself blurting out to these kids that the reason I was giving up certain foods and resuming my walking regime was for my "spiritual" health not my physical well-being...although it could be argued the two are closely interwoven. The point I tried to make is that I am taking some things out of my life in order to make more room in my life for God.

I think they understood me...as much as I think any teenager ever understands me...which is not an area I truly wish to explore...ever.

One disclaimer: I am reserving the possibility of one day off from the fast...that will be this Friday.

Saturday is our wedding anniversary.

Amy has been crazy enough to stay married to me for a dozen years.

I suspect she will want to continue reclaiming our relationship on Friday night...oddly enough in a smoky bar with darts. I may or may not have a glass of wine...I probably won't - I'm kind of big on this discipline thing - but I'm keeping the option open for that one night.

It may not be a wild, expensive evening...but it will do for us.

I suppose that's what I should have told those kids...the more God - like the more Amy - I have in my life...the less I need of other things.