Sunday, September 27, 2009

Once Upon a Time in the Far Nort'land

Once upon a time in the far nort'land there was a little country church that had been around since the late 1800s. It had a membership of around 350 folks whose generations had attended since the beginning of time. Now over the last years membership had fallen off, so as a result so had involvement. And also as a result so had the giving (income).

In any organization there is always a certain nucleus of ladies who get all the lady things done that need to be done in a church. They're the ones that have the time and the desire and like doing those kinds of things. Usually it's the "older" ladies of the church because in this day and age the younger ones are still busy with their families and most of them hold down a second job. They're just not available during the day to do a lot of things.

Now also in this church there is Francine - who calls herself the office manager - and has been involved with this church in various capacities all of her life. Francine is a person who likes to be in control of everything, even if it doesn't or shouldn't concern her. She will do anything she has to in order to get the results that she wants including lying about facts and people. She's very skilled at manipulation and twisting things to make people believe what she has to say and to make herself look good and someone else look bad.

We have an organization at our church called "Ladies Aid" (LWML for the rest of you Lutherans.) Francine has been the president several times for several years per term. This last time she was in that position for 6 years. The bylaws tell us that you can only hold an office for a maximum of two terms but nobody had bothered to investigate that.

I was asked to finish out the treasurer's position for the term of a lady (Gene) who moved away, and then unfortunately (I say that now) I was elected to the position for another term. I knew that Francine and Gene were very good friends, but I didn't know just how good. Gene was Francine's "toadie" and would help Francine bull through anything that Francine wanted. Francine would have things all lined up and done, then tell Gene and another friend (Fern) that she had to have that particular issue voted through without any controversy, and it would happen. After I took over the position of treasurer Francine found out she couldn't run me like she had run Gene. That set the stage for trouble and she began "setting me up" to look bad, which she was very successful at.

I won't go into all the details, as there are just too many of them and I could write a book about what's happened over the last two years. But here's the story of the straw that broke the camel's back:

The Ladies Aid does various fund raisers throughout the year so that we have money to do different things for the church. One of the things we do is pay for the photocopy machine that Francine has in her office. It's got bells and whistles on that you wouldn't believe - far more copy machine than what our little church office needs. That was something that Francine bulled through with Gene and Fern. Anyway, the monthly bills come to the church office and onto Francine's desk where she proceeds to keep them until about the 12th of the month. Payment is due by the 15th, so by the time I get the bill there's no way I can write a check and it will get there in time. This has gone on for the last 10 months. When we were gone this summer that added even more chaos to the situation because we didn't come back until the bill was two weeks overdue. Even though the president of our Ladies Aid had the checkbook and has signature power, Francine didn't bother to ask her to pay the bill. She just stuck it in my mailbox and waited for me to come back. By that time the collection agency called me and got on my case and that's about the time I started investigating the leasing contract for this machine and came across a whole additional bunch of SHIT (there's no other word to describe it) that Francine has pulled for her own benefit and definitely not for the church's.

This all resulted in a meeting that consisted of TWO sales reps from this company, Francine, the president of the church council and myself. When I came home and told Ole about it he was aghast (he's a trustee of the church and on the budget committee.) He said I was double-teamed by the sales reps. At one point in time I shook my finger at the sales reps and said, "I know what you're doing. I'm married to a man that was a sales rep for 30+ years. He knows all those tricks but had too much integrity to use them. That's why he was successful and was able to retired at age 55. Nobody likes to be tricked!" Then they backed off a bit. I won't go into all the details of the contract that Francine signed two years ago, but anybody who would written a contract like that is a real crook.

Anyway, Francine had what's called buyer's remorse. She had purchased something (the contract) and was going to do everything in her power to make herself look good and not admit that she had made a huge mistake. The end result was that she questioned MY integrity in front of all these people and if I had responded we could have gotten into quite a verbal fist-a-cuffs. I wouldn't stoop that low. I was called a liar, irresponsible, etc., etc.

By the time I got home that day I was in tears and a wreck. This is the type of thing that everyone who tries to do something has to deal with - not to this degree, but maybe a different level. She will twist the words that people say to make herself look good and that person look bad. The end result is that I have resigned from my position as treasurer of "Ladies Aid," and also from being the webmaster of the church web site. I won't even go into all the wrong information that she has given me to post on the web page and then when it gets up there she'll tell me it's wrong, as will other folks who look at the web page.

There's been a lot of other stuff too, but I won't bore you with the details. The end result of all of this is that I wasn't feeling well and ended up in my doctor's office where he told me my blood pressure was 170/106. I have NEVER in all my life had BP problems, in fact the nurse has usually had to take it a couple of times because it runs so low normally. So the doc put me on medication, which makes me feel even worse than before I started taking it. My BP is lower, but I can't function otherwise - so this morning I didn't take it to see how I would feel throughout the day. Tomorrow I'm going to call him and tell him he needs to find something different for me. When I'm on this stuff (I think it's spelled liciniprol - I'm too lazy to look it up) I am so profoundly fatigued I can hardly lift my feet off the floor to walk. I feel like a zombie. I can't live like that.

So that's why I've been absent. My mind has been in a fog with church politics and ugly medication. Thanks to all of you who sent me an email wondering about me.

Love you all,



Anonymous said...

Wow, Lena. That's horrible - the church stuff and the BP stuff!

Susan said...

Definitely talk to your doctor about changing your BP meds. Sometimes it take many to find one that works just for you. Some even cause constant coughing which is very annoying. Don't fool around with this.

Next: I am always amazed that most "obnoxious" people are found on church committees. I have seen it many times and that is one reason I do not get involved with that aspect. I don't blame you for quitting. Francine obviously has always had things her way in life. At our age, life is too precious to spend around such people. Get healthy and enjoy the rest of your life.

Susan said...

Definitely talk to your doctor about changing your BP meds. Sometimes it take many to find one that works just for you. Some even cause constant coughing which is very annoying. Don't fool around with this.

Next: I am always amazed that most "obnoxious" people are found on church committees. I have seen it many times and that is one reason I do not get involved with that aspect. I don't blame you for quitting. Francine obviously has always had things her way in life. At our age, life is too precious to spend around such people. Get healthy and enjoy the rest of your life.

harrietv said...

That's sad. Similar things started to happen in our congregation when younger people volunteered to "assist the older ladies" who had worked all those years. The first result was that some long-time members were insulted by the new regime; they went elsewhere. The second result was that possible new members were scared off. The congregation is gone.

Fortunately, our religion is flexible enough to allow us to change congregations or denominations without being written out forever.

~ Sil in Corea said...

Church politics! Argh! I could write a book... Sounds like Francine has gone off the deep end with egotistical pride. I would hope the pastor has enough balls to explain her need to develop a little Christian humility, so that she can 'fess up and make amends to the congregation. She may be so deep in denial that only an intervention, like they do for active alcoholics, would work. At any rate, such an action would do the greatest good for the rest of the congregants and give them the courage to rescue the church from her clutches. There's more than one kind of 'revival.' You and Ole are in my prayers, dear!

Best Wishes, ~ Sil in Corea

Carolyn said...

I hope your doctor can find the meds that work well for you!
I'm sad but not surprised to read about the problems at your church. I've been there, done that too many times. {{HUGS}}

Paula said...

It's Lisinopril and my hubby and I are both on it. It's not the drug that knocks you's not being used to the lower BP (which you eventually get used to). Lisinopril is a pretty mild drug...what he should have done is started you on a low dose and worked up to a higher dose. You still feel a bit wiped out at first but not as bad....for a few weeks you feel tired, then you feel normal after your body gets used to it. Once you get past that, the drug is easy to take with no real side effects.

So sorry your church, your place where you should get charged up and fortified for daily life, tore you down instead...of course we all's not the's the politics...some people can really screw things up for others including sad. Glas you're back...I need to get writing myself.

Grandma Elsie said...

And this women calls herself a "Christian "? bah humbug.Church people are suppose to be like Jesus..
She needs to get saved. Period.
A spirit of Jezebel is what that women has.A controlling spirit.
I am so sorry you had to deal with the likes of this. The truth will come to light in the end. All who know you know you didn't do this and I bet most of your church people know her for what she is.
I pray that you will be able to find peace.You can lay down and sleep in peace and How much you want to bet she can't and doesn't. know she will give in account for her actions ,not you , where it counts. revenge is mine , saith the Lord

Paula G from Indiana said...

I am so glad you are back. I have missed you. Not that I should talk, I haven't updated since July. I take Lisinopril too, have for years. I don't know how much is my age and out of shapedness, but I get out of breath easily. There are lots of things for BP, so talk to your doc. They will find the right drug/dosage for you. Do you have any pictures of your flowers and yard this year? I LOVE your pictures!!!

Paula G from Indiana said...

Ooops me again, I am a motormouth. We are WAY too old to put up with that kind of BS that you are going through with your church. You do not need the stress!!! I walked off my job this summer because I had had enough stress, and it was turning me into a horrible person. Good for you!

Memaw's memories said...

Sounds like Francine needs someone to control and church is the only place she can get away with it.

I also take lisinopril, and was supposed to take two a day. I decreased my dosage to one a day because of the too low bp, and then told my dr about it. He said that was whay he would have done too.

We could put a contract out on this chick(only kidding, I'm not really a violent person), maybe just someone to break a couple of knee caps.

Maybe when you get over this fiasco, your bp will settle and you can get off the meds.

Hope you get to feeling better.

Jean said...

Gah!!! And I'll bet she has her pious ass in the pew every week like clockwork. Amazing how one person can pull the strings of an entire organization because no one will stand up!

Good for you, sister!!!

Memaw's memories said...

Ok, Lena, it's time to get back to blogging. We're missing you and all your tales from the Northland.

Carolyn said...

I'm just checking on you. I miss you and hope everything is going well.

Susan said...

Just checking.....

Jean said...

I'm checking on you, too. Hope everything is ok!