Thursday, December 18, 2014

Keeping Christ in Christmas


I made the mistake of saying "Happy Holidays" to a Christian today. I didn't know she was a Christian...she was a customer and she was leaving and I wanted to be polite.

I generally say "Happy Holidays" to customers unless they say "Merry Christmas", "Happy Kwanzaa" or "Happy Hanukah" first. I also find "Happy Holidays" to be much easier than saying "HappyThanksgivingMerryChristmasHappyNewYear" I just wrap it up by wishing them a happy holy day. Because, you know, "holiday" means holy day. Just like the "X" is Greek for Christ so Xmas is Christmas and not a means of X-ing Jesus out of his 'birthday'.

Anyway, I said "Happy holiday" and the lady said back, rather forcefully "Merry Christmas" Actually, she probably said "Merry CHRISTmas" but it's hard to speak in all caps.

Paying for gas, the woman at the register gave me a "Merry Christmas" and a look that dared me to try and take Jesus out of the season. I rather uneasily wished her a Merry Christmas and took my change.

To those wishing everyone a "Merry Christmas" like it's a challenge...are we sure that's the best way to go about keeping "Christ in Christmas"? Because it feels more like picking a fight.

I mean...I'm a Christian and I'm not sure what I should do...wear a t-shirt that says "Relax, I'm one of you." Or a sweater with "Jesus Is The Reason" in glitter? If I accidentally say "Happy holiday" instead of "Merry Christmas" is there some sort of special repentance prayer?

I'm just wondering...could we possibly go about helping people understand the Reason for the Season better if we...I don't know...did the things Jesus did?

What if we fed the poor? Built nonjudgmental relationships with non-believers? Had in-depth conversations with some of society's most marginalized? Showed grace to someone who had wronged us? Spent focused time in prayer for the lost? Wept over the hurting?

I get that we want to stand guard over our Nativity scenes...but Jesus left the manger and grew up to minister to a broken world (He modeled that behavior for a reason) and then He sacrificed Himself for the forgiveness of our sins. If we lived that out, it's entirely possible more people would be happily greeting us with "Merry Christmas"

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Blessed Are The Peacemakers...

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. Matthew 5:9

Sarah Bessey called it the "summer of sadness" and that resonated within me. We saw Boko Haram kidnap schoolgirls from their beds, ISIS chasing villagers up the mountain to die, civilians in the Gaza strip dying by the hundreds, over 50,000 children traveling thousands of miles in hopes of a better existence being detained in camps...the list goes on and on and on. I felt all of it. And even more so, I felt my helplessness in the face of it. I wasn't sure that anything I did would make a difference. One afternoon, I was in my room, praying, processing, thinking in blog (I do this more than I should admit) and wondering what-if anything-I should do. 

On my nightstand there was a Relevant magazine that I'd looked forward to reading for weeks but hadn't had a chance yet because of the move, work schedule, etc.


I'd looked at this thing for weeks but somehow at that moment, the title hit me harder than it had before. "Blessed are the peacemakers" I realized two things almost simultaneously.

1) Peace doesn't just happen. It's made.
2) As much as we are called to be advocates, abolitionists and bearers of justice...we are more called to be peacemakers. Jesus says in his Sermon on the Mount that the peacemakers will be called children of God. 

I had to admit...quite painfully...that I wasn't sure how to be a peacemaker. I was pretty sure I had the role of "activist" down pretty well, but peacemaker...

In an article by Lynn Hybels, she says "there is a huge difference between being an angry activist and being a peacemaker" and goes on to explain that one can cause more harm than good-to herself as well as the people she wants to help. The truth of it that hit home but I was hoping for a list or a character summary or something that would help move me from one to the other. Lynn Hybels suggested 1 Corinthians 13 as a start. You know, the love chapter. Apparently Jesus actually meant that being known by our love thing since it keeps coming back to that.

Sigh

For the record, angry activist is easier. Especially this week. 
My heart is breaking and I'm angry and disgusted and discouraged. Social media has me so disgusted that I refuse to log on in the fear that if I do, I'll lose all hope in humanity. But, at the same time, I don't want to remove myself completely. Because, if we need anything right now, we need peacemakers. And I'm still learning, still wobbly, and completely and totally imperfect. But I'm trying. And I think that slowly, if there are enough peacemakers, there will be change.

If you, like me, want desperately to see peace...if you are working toward being a peacemaker...but you wouldn't mind a list, here's what I have so far...

1) Being a peacemaker doesn't mean not speaking truth. In the 1930's world leaders, desperate for peace, allowed Hitler to do things they should never have stood for...in the hopes he would be satisfied and there would be no war. Obviously, that didn't work out. Being a peacemaker doesn't mean not standing up for what is right. I think it's the way we take our stance that makes a difference. There is a huge difference in taking a stance with our hands out than with our fists up.

2) Jonathan Sacks says "The greatest single antidote to violence is conversation" Here is my experience and I believe it is a universal one...it is a lot harder to judge a minority, a "side" or a person when we know them, when we have relationship with them. And the way we build relationship is through conversation. The way we understand the other "side" is through conversation. And by conversation, I mean two way communication. In which there is talking and listening...and attempting to understand even when you don't agree. I don't care if you don't believe racism exists in this country...if the person you are talking to believes it, then that is their perception and therefore their reality and you arguing with them without any attempt to understand why they feel that way isn't going to change anything. If the person you are talking to doesn't believe racism exists in this country, calling them names isn't going to change their mind. All the yelling, name calling and finger pointing in the world isn't going to change anything. It just sends people to their corner, ready to come out fighting.

3) Step out of your conventions, your boundaries and your comfort zone. We serve a Jesus who walked through Samaria, talked to women in public, and touched lepers. So maybe a conversation with someone who identifies as LGBTQ, sharing a meal with an immigrant (and not worrying about their legal status) or going into neighborhoods we wouldn't normally step foot in (for some that is the poverty stricken areas...for others the home of a "soccer mom").

4) Stop identifying the "issue" and see the humanity behind it. This is one of my biggest problems right now...especially in the Christian community, we discuss the LGBTQ community, the situation in Ferguson and the immigrant community as issues to be debated rather than seeing the people involved. It is telling to me that in Darren Wilson's interviews that were released this week he identified Michael Brown as "it" more than "he". In warfare the military dehumanizes the other side giving them common nicknames like "Charlie" because it is harder to kill an individual. Likewise, it is a lot easier to debate issues than people. Recently in my public speaking class I was to give a presentation...before the presentation I asked three questions and after the presentation I asked the same three questions. Before I gave my presentation, the answer to "describe what you think the average person on food stamps is like" went along the lines of "drug dealing, ghetto, welfare mom" (seriously, those were the answers). After my presentation, after finding out 25% of our military families are on food stamps, after hearing about how I'd been on food stamps...the answers were drastically different. The issue had been humanized.

5) Approach everything with and in love...if we are to be known by our love, 1 Corinthians 13 is how we should be approaching every one and everything we encounter. If the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self control...what are we exhibiting on our Facebook feed? We don't do this in our own power. I am certainly not going to be able to love the prejudiced truck driver making racist comments in my front lobby without the help of Jesus. For those wrestling with this, I suggest a lot of prayer and maybe a word study in your Bible (or...like Lynn Hybels....reading 1 Corinthians 13 every morning and evening until it starts to work).

6) Be willing to get your hands dirty. In the current situation, the town of Ferguson needs to know it is loved. The library is providing a safe haven for students, the food banks are open, and there is a lot of clean up to do. If you can't be there to get your hands dirty, provide resources so others can. It's important that our words and actions match. But don't do so to take sides. I love what Elias Chacour, an Arab priest, said to a group of women coming to Palestine "If you are here to pick sides, then please leave. We don't need you. But if you're willing to figure out what it means to be a common friend to both Israelis and Palestenians, we welcome you." We are there to help, to work for common good...and to do so, we need to be a "common friend."

Be willing to let your heart be broken. If the stories we are hearing aren't breaking your heart, you aren't listening. Or maybe you are afraid if you let your heart be broken, it'll never come together again. But God is the God who can put can put Humpty Dumpty (and our hearts) back together again. And I'm convinced that to be a peacekeeper, we must feel the hurt of the broken, the angry, the oppressed. 

Carry On, Peacemaker

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Art of Sabbath

I'm reading Jonathan Merritt's book Jesus Is Better Than You Imagined and he is talking about spending a weekend at a monastery observing a vow of silence. In exploring Zechariah, he makes this statement "Having first encountered this passage as a chile, I assumed God was punishing Zechariah thgourh Gabriel for probing the prophecy further. After all, I thought, God dislikes being questioned. But after encountering the Bible more broadly, I think more might be happening here...I now wonder if striking Zechariah mute was both a punishment and a gift. Rather than simmering over being questioned, maybe God knew Zechariah better than we...God knew he needed to stop talking in order to fully hear what God was saying, in order to receive what God was about to do in his midst."

Recently, I have been flailing against the life that surrounds me. Part of it is sheer exhaustion from working two jobs. Part of it is desperately missing the sense of purpose and mission that I had when I worked in non-profit. Part of it is just everyday human selfishness. I began this season sure God was doing something...but I also believed it would be short lived. I've been out of non-profit for over a year now. Maybe to God, that is a short time span...to me, it's a freaking long time!

The crazy thing is that every time I stop and pray, I get an undeniable sense of peace...but for some reason, that didn't make sense to me...so I flailed anyway. And I began desperately trying to apply for jobs in non-profit organizations and I put my boss on notice that I was looking for another job and I begged "please God give me this" and bargained and wheedled. I told God that since I didn't get to be married or rich, I really needed this. I reminded Him that my kids were old enough to leave home and it would be really, really nice to have a sense of purpose to distract me from empty nest syndrome (yeah, I did actually go there). And I stressed about it. Like, really stressed. And I was already stressed and tired. So it got ugly. Like the ugly where your kids see you come out of your room so they run to theirs ugly.

And then, suddenly I got it. And I didn't have quite the words for it until I read that particular chapter in Merriitt's book. I was feeling as though I was being punished. Like I did something that made me unworthy of the job so God basically 'muted' me. But He isn't punishing me at all. He is giving me the space for silence.

He is giving me the space for Sabbath. More than just a Sunday but a prolonged period of time to know Him, hear Him, and be with Him. And maybe it's because He's about to do something in the midst and maybe it's because God's more concerned with our relationship than He is the good works and the advocacy and all of those awesome volunteer groups. And that is a huge issue because, to be honest...I was more concerned with what we were going to do next, about who God wanted me to be, etc, etc. It was more about the doing, less about the being.

"When I pray am I truly trying to find out who God is, or am I trying to find out who I am?" 
~Oswald Chambers

Sabbath is about more than going to church, it's even about more than resting, it's a period of time to seek God in order to better know Him (that "Be still and know that I am God" thing). And it can be a longer season than 24 hours. I've failed to understand the season and have filled it with more work, school, etc. The sad thing is, as much as I love both my jobs, I can't say that working them both has made us more financially stable. If the car hadn't broken down or if we hadn't had to move twice in a six month period...maybe. But it's not worth the time I haven't spent with my kids or the fact that my friend-after years of praying and hoping-became pregnant and I didn't get to see the baby belly in person until her third trimester. It's certainly not worth the burn out and constant exhaustion and unhappiness. 

So, I sat down with my boss. Told him I was staying if he wanted me to. He did. And-being awesome-gave me projects I could sink my teeth into and a great raise. It was funny how, in deciding to stay, I almost immediately calmed down. And have had the most fantastic sense of contentment since then. I also told Horizon that I needed to work a lot less (though I love working there so probably won't give it up completely) and now I've had time to rest, hang out with my kids, help care for a friend of mine's children while she recuperated from surgery, and I get to help organize a nursery! And I have time to be quiet, to reconnect, to know God.

I think we have lost the art of Sabbath. We've confined it to one day, decided what it needs to look like or forgotten it's importance all together. We've forgotten the beauty of it. The creativity that is found in the midst of it. The discipline of it. For me, at least, it was time to take that back.

Friday, November 7, 2014

On Raising a Man...and a Soldier.

When Trey was about six years old, I was given the book "Raising Up Boys" by James Dobson (it had been on my Christmas wish list). I read to a certain chapter where Dr Dobson detailed statistics and probabilities that seemed to fate my son to a life of crime, addiction, depression and suicide. Overwhelmed with despair, I crept into my sleeping son's room, knelt by his bed and prayed in desperation. And I heard God ask me if I trusted Him to see my son as more than a statistic. Of course I did. And I held on to that like a promise.
I have raised my son with a set of values, beliefs and principles. I raised him to believe in things, be willing to fight for those things, to hold on to his faith, to live life like an adventure. And now that he is 18, he is living out all of that...and, to be honest, I may have days where I wish I could take it back! Not all of it...just redefine "adventure" to something like "live really close to your Mom-always!" But it would appear it's too late. The course is set.

When Trey was four, he told me when he grew up he wanted to join the Marines and be a soldier. At some point, he'd stopped talking about it and I stopped thinking about it but a couple of years ago he told me that he planned to join as soon as he graduated high school. At my request, he agreed to wait until he was 19...he turns 19 this February.

By May...he'll be gone. He'll be in boot camp.
In the past few days, we've talked about it several times. I asked him if he'd finished registering for next semester and when he told me no, I started to chide him but he reminded me he's not going to school next semester...he'll be gone before the semester is over. Bree and I were discussing Thanksgiving when we realized that this is the last Thanksgiving for the next four years that we are guaranteed Trey will be home. And then I read that President Obama has approved the deployment of 1500 more troops to Iraq.

I have to tell you...I have had friends and family members serve in the military for as long as I can remember. I had friends in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm and cousins fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. I've had friends who had family members-even their sons-serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines...and I have prayed for them, diligently. But I think I realized that I didn't pray for them nearly enough. I have been praying for my son as desperately as I did that night 12 years ago. And I realize that for the Mamas out there, I had no idea as I dutifully prayed for their child what they were going through. I still don't. Not yet. I just know the anticipation of it...and I am going to be bluntly honest and tell you that I don't fully trust the United States Government to make the best choices when it comes to my son. When I look at Korea and Vietnam and then I look at Iraq, Afghanistan, and ISIS I feel like we are making the same decisions and the same mistakes. I think we fail to fully understand the culture and the people and what we are fighting for and what we are fighting against when we make military decisions. As I am not a military strategist, general, soldier, etc I could be absolutely wrong...but that is the way it seems to me. And now, the decisions the military and Commander in Chief make affect me in a very personal way. And that is scary.
My son is-understandably so-one of hundreds of thousands to the US government and military. They don't know about his comedic timing, ability to take amazing pictures, love of Ultimate Frisbee and video games. They don't know that when he found out he was in the same college class as his Mom, he didn't run to his adviser and beg for rescue but actually enjoys it! They don't know that he is a favorite with all little kids and most dogs. That he hopes to make movies one day. That he is the best answer God could have ever given me in my prayer for a son.

And then God reminds me that He does...He knows all of those things.

I trust my son to know the desires of his heart and to go after them. Because of my raising, and sometimes in spite of it, because of the goodness of God, because of the love of so many friends around us my son has grown into a remarkable young man. He will make a fine soldier. And I will wave him off with pride when he leaves for boot camp and I won't cry until he's gone and each time he comes home and has to leave again I will do the same. Because that is the best thing I can give him...to know he is loved, that I am proud of him, that I support him, and that I am praying...and that I trust him and God  that whatever they do is for the best. I'm holding on to that. Like a promise.

Mamas, I am praying so hard for your soldiers. For your hearts. For our leaders to make wise decisions. Because I understand more than ever how personal it is. Thank you for being brave, for being wise, for modeling how to do it right so that bumbling Mamas like me have a model.

Here's to hoping and praying for the day the sword is beaten into plowshares.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Honor Thy Mother and Father...

There's this cardinal rule when it comes to calling my mom.
Don't call after 9 pm. Like...ever. Even if you are in your last moments of life, just don't.

My mother has bipolar disorder. As in, debilitating, life altering, generally hanging on by a thread bipolar disorder...and she takes her night meds at 9 pm every night. And once they kick in, she can not (and will not) be responsible for what she says if you break the rule and she picks up the phone.

Recently, I broke the rule. I didn't mean to...I was driving home from rehearsal, missing my mom and picked up the phone and dialed. I realized as soon as I heard her "high" voice (like she just woke up but a little higher pitched) that this was going to be a short conversation. But we chatted for a bit.

Then she said, "I've been thinking. I'm actually glad I'm not married to (insert ex husband's name here) anymore." I was quite pleased at this and thinking she'd had a major break through of some sort, said "Oh, do tell..."

Apparently, my sister (half, but we're not counting) had told my mom about riding with her dad recently and he'd been quite aggressive and even rude to other drivers.

My throat closed up. My stomach clenched. Tears came to my eyes.

Hearing no response, my Mom said my name "Cindy?"
"Road rage?" I said through gritted teeth. "You're glad you aren't with him because he has road rage?" My Mom was actually quite pleased there was a term for it. I could barely hear the rest of what she said because the screaming in my head was getting loud. I ended the conversation quickly.

My mom had just explained to the child she'd given up in order to protect the aforementioned ex husband from being convicted of child molestation that she'd found closure and finally been able to not only accept, but be happy they were no longer together...because he wasn't a good driver.

Reacting to all the emotions and thoughts I yelled "SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP!" at the steering wheel (because steering wheels don't care if you yell at them) And things got quiet, and then-because I could finally hear it-that still, small voice said

"Honor your Mother and your Father"

And I said (because I am super spiritual ya'll)
"Don't give me that load of crap right now."

 Let's be real...Some days you just don't feel like taking the "higher road"

So the rest of the way home, I had this argument in my head. And I went home and read Scripture. I really started considering what it looks like to "honor" our parents so I researched, talked to pastors and people whose opinion I respect. I was looking for the exceptions to the rule.  I wondered if the expectations for honoring parents when they were "good" parents were different from when they were "bad" parents. I decided maybe God set the bar lower for us so that particular commandment was easier to fulfill. I looked for an "out"

For myself.
For my kids. (Both my biological and all my "adopted" kids.)
For the ones reading this who struggle with this same thing.

Because God bless you if you have the parents that make it an easily accomplished task. If the least you can do is honor the amazing, wonderful, perfect parents who brought you into this world, loved and nurtured you, instilled the best values in you and never, ever made a mistake. But for the rest of us...the ones who were abandoned, abused, neglected, overlooked in favor of an addiction or the television set, whose parents weren't quite perfect...we aren't really up for it.

I've got good news. And I've got bad news.

The bad news...there is no out. I looked guys...for weeks. There is no place in Scripture that says if our parents stink, we don't have to honor them. So, having found no out, I began to look into what exactly "honor" entails. I tend to think of "honor" as saying 'yes ma'am' and 'no sir' and not sticking my tongue out at them or calling them names (out loud). I know that meaning and depth is often lost in translation so I asked several pastors about the word "honor"

"The Greek word for honor means to revere, prize and value"
"The root of the Hebrew word for honor means to weigh heavy"
"It means weighty or heavy. It speaks to the significance we place on something"

So, if I manage not to roll my eyes...that's not quite cutting it?

Matthew Henry says it like this. "That obedience which God demands from their children...includes an inward reverence [honor], as well as the outward expressions and acts."

There's more...
Before Jesus, the spiritual life had become more about actions than intentions or motivations. Going through the motions was enough. But after Jesus...it was more about the intentions or motivations than the actions. Look at what He said about giving, adultery, murder in your heart...

So it is with honoring your parents. It can't be just about going through the motions. As Tim, pastor at Brown's Mill Church, puts it "It's your posture as you obey"

A couple of years before my dad passed away, our relationship was on pretty rocky terms-again. Most of you know that my dad was an abusive alcoholic for most of my growing up years and that he sobered up, became a mentor for those walking the path to sobriety, and that he and I still had our issues. Oftentimes it was as much hard headedness as past hurts that led to our falling out but neither of us was willing to take the blame...and I had the pretty convenient role of "victim" so I rarely had to. My dad fell one day and broke his leg. A bad break and the fact my dad was a diabetic meant he spent a lot of time in the hospital. My aunt and I took turns being there for him...keeping him company, emptying out his pee pot, picking up the ice and other trash he threw at the door when the doctor or nurse left after telling him something he didn't like, washing his hair with those dry shampoo caps because my dad couldn't stand for his hair to be dirty. At first, I did them begrudgingly while at the same time feeling like quite the wonderful Christian daughter. After all, look what I was doing for my dad...after all the times he hadn't been there for me. It didn't take long before the Spirit provided an attitude check and I began to deliberately change my attitude about the tasks I performed for my dad. I'm so glad I did because those days in the hospital brought my dad and I closer than we'd ever been. After he had his stroke, the day they told us would be his last, they put him in a room where he could be "comfortable" and the family could be with him. The nurse asked if there was anything she could do and I asked her for one of the dry shampoo caps. She looked at me puzzled. I explained that his hair hadn't been washed for days and I knew how much he hated oily hair. So she brought me several and I did one of the last things I could do for my dad-wash his hair. As I scrubbed, I told my dad how much I loved him...how glad I was that he was my dad...and I meant it.

Here's the good news...God doesn't just tell us to do something and then leave us to do it on our own. I know some of you are shutting me out, thinking "oh...but you don't know..." I have heard so, so many stories. Stories that make me even more grateful for the parents I have because OH DEAR LORD! The brokenness of this world, the brokenness of our parents, the brokenness of your heart as you put one foot in front of the other. But I have to tell you that letting go makes the journey so much easier...and just like forgiveness is a choice, so is honoring those who gave birth to us...no matter what came after. And just like forgiveness, obeying the Lord in this means that we are also letting go of the past and freeing ourselves to live the future. 

Hear me when I tell you that forgiving your parents, honoring your parents is not about saying that what they did to you is okay or right. God gave them a mandate as your parents and they didn't do it and that is not okay! 

But that doesn't mean we don't have to do our part. We do. And the reason we do is because God is going to use it to make us whole again. And as we are honoring our earthly parents, we honor our Heavenly Father. And the weight of that isn't like a stone but like our favorite sweater, or a comforter thrown over us. Our posture is of reverence and the overwhelming emotion is love. And God, to help us honor our parents, will give us both a glimpse of how He sees us and how He sees them. And we are free to be ourselves and live the lives God planned for us because we are free of the hurts and regrets and the ever present, nagging desire and absolute must be accomplished goal of "fixing" it or "figuring it out" And sometimes, as we honor our parents, we are free to have a relationship with them. Perhaps not the one we hoped for, but a relationship nonetheless. And, if we aren't...because it's not safe, because they choose not to, because it's too late and they are gone from this world...then we are free from the sorrow of not doing our part. 

It's not easy. I'm not going to pretend it is. I know plenty who are struggling to find a morsel of "honor" for their parent(s). My kids don't even call their biological father "father" or "dad." In fact, he's barely mentioned at all, and if he is, he is called by his first name. And I am not going to stop them. My children have to work this out in their time. I hope that as they've seen me wrestle with this and as they've watched how I have honored my parents (and how I haven't) that I've made it easier for them. I'll be there for them as they figure it out.

The Gospel, as Pastor Tim often reminds us, is counterintuitive. It goes against everything in us that tells we're entitled to or what's "fair" and it's a constant reminder that we don't do this in our own power but by God's grace and His power.

From one of the emails Tim and I exchanged as we discussed this: "Honoring your parents when they've been abusive, absent, etc. is not about the parent...it's about the one offering the honor...and the one who gives us the ability to do such a crazy thing. In fact, honoring a parent who is "not worthy" of honor is one of the most kingdom-minded things we can do. Jesus taught us to love our enemies. The original wording is not just a "don't curse them out under your breath" but it's also "intentionally seek to tangibly bless them." It's connected to what I mentioned yesterday, in that following Jesus means embracing these counter-cultural, counter-intuitive ways of seeing/doing things. Whereas the world says "they hurt you and do not deserve your honor", Jesus says "honor them because it pleases me...and it tangibly demonstrates my love for you AND for them."

If I talked to my Mom about the conversation that night, she probably wouldn't remember it. She'd most likely be astounded at how much it had hurt me. Both the illness and the medication have taken so much away. But my Mom gets up every day. She chooses life every single day. And regardless of all her past mistakes (and the ones she will make in the future), she is my Mom, she is a surviver. And she is worthy of honor.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Squawking

I'm kinda, sorta...stuck...in two very stressful situations. It's so bad that my stomach gets upset, my entire body clenches and I am perpetually close to tears whenever I find myself in these areas.

 As I processed both situations on the drive home the other night, something profound occurred to me. The things causing the stress are the minority. In both situations, if I list the good things and the negative things about the situations, the good things outnumber the negative.The problem is, the negative things are the "loudest." And it's a shrill, squawking kind of loud...not the sort of thing you can ignore.

But putting it into perspective, it was sort of like that moment in A Bug's Life. You know...when the ants finally realize that even though the grasshoppers are WAY bigger than them, they outnumber the grasshoppers by like...a gazillion to one...and therefore they are stronger and more powerful!!!


And they run the grasshoppers off and they all live happily ever after! However long that is for an ant...

So I walked into one of these situations with a new attitude of "I've got this!" I was ready to turn things around! It took about 30 minutes before my resolve was shattered, my gut was tight and I was blinking fast to stop the downpour.

I'm just not sure what to do! I'd say I was one of those people who don't handle conflict well...but how many people do you know that actually "handle conflict well"?

And the more I think about it, the more I realize how squawkers have taken over! The trolls on blogs, articles, etc are the minority but I've had to stop reading comments because of them. A popular blogger has seriously considered shutting her blog down because of them. Westboro Baptist Church has something like 40 members and most of them family but somehow they have perpetuated the mainstream media's version of the "church". The Tea Party is a minority and yet they can stop the government in its tracks! The lists goes on and on...

If you really, really think about it the good outweighs the bad. There are more moderates out there than we know but they can't be heard over the squawking! So what do we do? What do the positive forces out there do? Do we get louder? Or does that turn us into squawkers? Less problem solvers and more just adding to the din and chaos? How do we handle the situations where there are 14 people in a room and two of them are making life miserable for everyone?

I just don't know. This isn't one of those blogs where I have solutions, ideas or resources. If you do, please share! I just want those of you who think you are alone in the bathroom stall trying to get away from the nasty that I'm in the one next to you.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Dangerous

After my divorce, the "church" taught me something I hadn't known...nor, to be honest, ever suspected.

I was dangerous.

I must say, this information came as a surprise. I'd never thought of myself as dangerous. At least not to others...in my crazier days, there were times I was a danger to myself. But I couldn't think of any time I'd ever been a danger to anyone else. (I know what you are thinking...but a bowl of ice cream doesn't count as "anyone")

But here was the situation. I was just hitting 30. Divorced. Not unattractive. And a somewhat sympathetic figure as the wronged wife left alone with two young children.

To my shock, I found that I was in a perfect position to cause church going married men to "stumble" (read, lust after the pathetic female) and I must do everything in my power to protect them.

I must be careful how I dressed, how I smiled, how friendly I was...
I must never be alone with a married man in a room, house, building or forest (okay...no one ever said "forest" but...you get the drift). I must never ride alone in a car with a married man.

Because, just by being me I was dangerous and apparently the church going married men could only defend themselves so long before they "stumbled" into sin because of me.

Before I go on, let me tell you that I believe in healthy boundaries. I actually do my best not to be alone in rooms or cars with married men. I am rarely friends with them on Facebook if I'm not also friends with their wife. And basically...just use common sense.

My problem isn't with the boundaries. My problem was with the extremity of the boundaries and the focus. The focus was never about avoiding the "appearance of evil" in Biblical sense or protecting me...or even both me and the married man.

It was about protecting him. From me.

Because apparently he doesn't have responsibility for his own actions after a certain point. He "stumbled" into sin while it seemed I ran into it...pushing the poor hapless male along the way. Guys are supposedly the stronger sex so how is it the female's responsibility to keep them from sinning?

Years ago I allowed my daughter to attend a youth conference that included a talk from an older teenage boy on the way girls should dress. He told the girls that when they showed their bra strap, the guy didn't just think "bra strap" but his mind went down to what the bra strap held. The moral of the story...don't show your bra strap. Incidentally, my son was at the same conference. At no time did he attend a talk from an older teenage girl about what guys wearing tight pants or going shirtless did to girls. He was also never told how to take his thoughts in control when he saw a bra strap.

A few days ago a father brought his two sons into the shop and arranged to pick up a surprise for his wife on Friday. That particular day I looked and felt like crap. Several people mentioned I looked sick but mostly it was just the exhaustion from moving. Yesterday, I felt much better...but I hadn't gone to any big lengths. My hair was in a pony tail, I wasn't wearing makeup, I was dressed in a shirt that showed no skin and a skirt that comes to my ankles. I tell you this because it's important. Because of what comes next. Because I need you to understand that I was as friendly as my job expects me to be but nothing else and I wasn't dressed in any shape, fashion or form that would cause a man to "stumble". Because when I tell you that two hours later that husband and father called me on the business phone to proposition me, some of you are going to immediately wonder what I did to make him think it was okay. And I know this. I also know that when I hung up the phone shaken and disgusted, the first thing I asked myself was

"What did I do to make him think this was okay?"

I know that when I ranted about it on Facebook, I told people what I was wearing in order to circumvent having to defend myself. And I know that it impacted one of the teenage girls that I love and "mother" that I did so.

I am dangerous. Just by being me, that man thought it was okay to disrespect me, his wife, his boys, himself. Just by doing my job. Just by breathing.

I don't know what to tell you. Maybe, since there is no defense against my lure (even when I haven't waxed my upper lip or pulled out those little hairs on my chin for weeks), what we need to do instead is equip men to take care of themselves in such a way that they learn to control their thoughts and actions.

Maybe we start holding them responsible.

Then maybe, I won't be such a danger. Because, as exciting as being "dangerous" sounds, I don't like it. I don't like being eyed, whistled at on the street or propositioned. I don't like being viewed not only as an object but as an object some man is entitled to have. I don't like seeing women objectified in every source of media and hearing "what can you do?" as people shrug their shoulders.

Here is a hard cold truth for you. The media is controlled by their audience. And they are selling what you are buying. And if you are buying, it is not their fault. But your own.

Stop using the media as a convenient excuse for the fact that women are objectified and treated disrespectfully. Stop pointing the finger at the billboards and women in yoga pants who just want to freaking be comfortable and start pointing the finger at yourself.

Because I am only as "dangerous" as you allow me to be. And people generally "stumble" when they aren't looking where they are going. And I'm tired of being told that being treated this way is somehow my fault.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Ahhh...


You guys!!! Last night I took a long hot bath.
And I shaved my legs...like the entire leg!
Calves...knees...thighs. BOTH legs!

I realize the effects on my legs will be short lived...but it was positively luxurious!
I could've been washing dishes. Unpacking boxes. Spending time with my lovely kiddos.

But...I'm gonna be honest. The kids liked me a lot better when I got out of the bath. And the dishes got done. And the unpacking is waiting on me. And I really, really needed to chill a bit. Rest, relax, take care of myself.

Because we have to choose to take care of ourselves. We have to choose to value ourselves. And it doesn't have to be anything big. A cruise to the Bahamas is unrealistic at this point...but a bath, book and cup of tea. Totally doable. But it isn't going to come out and grab me and force me to enjoy it. I have to choose to. And even in the midst of enjoying those wonderful, quiet moments...that nagging voice that reminds you of your responsibilities. Shut it up. In that moment, your responsibility is to you. To your sanity. To your peace.

So, choose to rest. Choose to luxuriate in whatever makes you smile and think "ahhh"
Some of you can enjoy a spa day. Some of you just have to deal with a few minutes to put your feet up and channel surf for a minute. And some of you just need to lay down while the infant takes a nap and enjoy the quiet.

If you need permission, here it is. We, as women...we as the entire freaking world...give you permission to take care of yourself.

So what's your favorite way to treat yourself? Share some ideas!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Happy Interdependence Day

"The landlord of the 'Chat Gris'-by name Brogard-had taken no notice of his guests...and in the meantime it was not for a free citizen to show deference, or even courtesy, to anyone..." 


I laid back in the bed, happy and tired. We'd had a great day with family and ended the night watching the fireworks display my cousin's children had designed (complete with playlist of patriotic songs). I scrolled through Facebook and smiled at the pictures of kids with sparklers, the patriotic memes declaring gratitude for independence, the American Way, the soldiers who protected it...I grimaced when I read my friends post complaining about late night fireworks waking up his young son. And then I read a post from Unvirtuous Abbey (if you appreciate irreverant humor and thought provoking "prayers" check them out) 

"For soldiers with PTSD whose neighbors decide to let off their own fireworks in their backyards we pray."

I read it and thought "Is that really a thing? I mean...how many soldiers with PTSD..."
A lot.

I read through the comments as veterans shared their ways of getting through the night...headphones, ear plugs, loud TVs, loud music, alcohol. I read comments from people complaining they needed to "lighten up" and that people should be allowed to "have a little fun" I mean, after all, its a "free country"

"It took Brogard some few minutes to consider the question. A free citizen does not respond too readily to the wishes of those who happen to require something of him" 

So we celebrate our independence...we thank our soldiers...but we don't appreciate the trauma that the loud booms, pops and explosions put them through. Because we are damned well going to celebrate the freedom you helped protect whether you like it or not!

Oh dear Lord. I hadn't even considered it.

One woman mentioned that her family knew a soldier lived down the street from them. So they asked him before setting off fireworks in their yard. Another mentioned young children and said their subdivision had come together and agreed that no fireworks would be set off after 9:30 for the sake of the babies and the parents...and that everyone had complied.
(Yay! Hope for humanity!)

Here's the thing...in America, we love to celebrate our "independence", our freedom, our rights. But we become so enamored with our independence that we forget our interdependence. We are so busy exercising our rights that we forget we might be trampling on the rights of others. 

"...and lounged about, smoking his evil-smelling pipe, sometimes under Marguerite's very nose, as any free-born citizen who was anybody's equal should do." 

The other day I was working at Horizon. I had the inner lobby doors closed because the Community Center in Little Five can be quite a boisterous atmosphere. Close to the end of the show, a young woman opens the lobby door and shouts at me across the room "Can you tell me where so and so is being held?" (In her defense, she wasn't deliberately shouting...she projects naturally...I can relate...I do it, a lot) I turned around and without thinking did the finger to the lips and the "shhhh" And she immediately became angry "DON'T YOU SHUSH ME!" she said. Walking over to her, I quietly tried to explain that we had a show going on and the patrons inside the theatre could hear her. "Well then, you ask me to be quiet, you don't shush me!" she said...getting louder and louder. I finally got her out of the inner lobby and calmed her down. But she left offended...and I was kinda okay with that because I was offended. She felt her rights and dignity had been abused and I felt the same...on my behalf and that of my audience. But later I thought about it and realize that we'd both been so busy defending our "rights" that we hadn't taken time to consider the other. I have no idea why the finger to the lip and the "shhh" was so offensive to her and she had no idea why it wasn't okay for her to be that loud in my lobby. 

"It was distinctly more fitting to his newborn dignity to be as rude as possible; it was a sure sign of servility to meekly reply to civil questions" 

There's this great song on the If/Then original cast recording, "Ain't No Man Manhattan" depicting on each of us is connected, how everyone's life connects, etc. It contains the line "How much you love your life is, what ev'ry life is worth" We need to be as protective of other people's rights and feelings as we want to be our own. Whether we are cutting people off in traffic to get to our destination just a split second sooner, shooting off fireworks, or leaving comments online. Other people matter. The way we treat them matters. And if we give up shooting fireworks in our backyard so that a former soldier struggling with PTSD can have a calmer evening, that is not our rights being infringed upon...that is saying in this instance, someone is more important than our entertainment. If we remember that certain gestures are offensive to certain people, then we are honoring them and/or their culture. If we refrain from the lewd joke, rude comment, or hateful comeback...we are not silencing our voices but becoming the voice of reason.

"And with this parting assertion of his rights as a citizen and a free man, to be as rude as he well pleased, Brogard shuffled out of the room, banging the door after him."

We are interdependent as a nation...we rely on each other, take care of each other and need to continuously lift each other up. Because if we are continuously lifting each other up, then everyone gets to climb. And we are all better for it. And that is something to celebrate.

(All quotes from The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Getting It Right

Parenting is hard. Even in the best of circumstances.

Somehow even admitting that is difficult for some of us because we think that if we say it, then somehow we don't love being a parent enough. That we have failed our kids.

But it's okay. Parenting is hard. Kids can be difficult. And, God help us, we are human.
Like...really, really human.

And there are those of us who came from difficult backgrounds. And those of us who parent on our own. And those of us who have little darlings with special needs. And those of us...

Let's just put it out there, "the best of circumstances" is not the norm.

And we wonder all the time...did I do enough? Did I screw it up? Did I get it right? And most days we have to admit our human-ness.

But then...there are days when our kids clear it up for us.


My son (the college student!!!) had to write a paper for his Composition class. He discussed single parenting in America. He told our story. He called me strong, praised my perseverance...described my ferocity in his defense...the way I cared for him when he was hurt...the way I was there for him when my Dad died and how he got to be there for me...he said I was his example...his hero.

His teacher wrote a note on the front page. She called it a beautiful story and told him to make sure I got to read it. He told her he wasn't sure he wanted to do that, because I'd get all mushy and cry.

He was right. But they were happy tears.

Heads up, Moms and Dads...we give it our all and our kids notice.

And for those whose kids don't notice...because they can't or won't. You are a faithful, wonderful parent. Keep persevering. Keep being human.

As Glennon Doyle Melton says "Carry On Warrior!"

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

In Which I Prove My Love For "If/Then" and What A Terrible Parent I Am...

Okay you guys...so last month the landlord or the postal service lost the freaking money order I sent to N. Carolina to pay the rent. After being unsettled for so long, finding what we considered the perfect house, and then having this happen...it was a tough blow. Since I don't have $1000 just laying around and neither do any of my friends, I started praying.

The money order didn't show up.
I didn't win the lottery (probably because I didn't play).
I didn't win the Publisher's Clearing House (probably because I didn't enter...and I'm not sure it's even a thing any more!)

So I started working really hard. Like harder than usual. And it's cool because little by little I'm getting it. Nothing else is getting paid but we are getting there.

The cable is the first thing to go.

And I tell you this not because I want pity...but because it is an integral part of our story.

Yesterday was a pretty good day. Everyone was in good mood. The landlord came by and picked up the money I had and gave me a few days to get the rest and so we all breathed a sigh of relief and did a "we're not homeless" dance. And...best of all...thanks to a sweet Mama's Day present from some good friends of mine...I knew that once the mail ran, magic would arrive...all wrapped up in an Amazon.com envelope!

The If/Then Original Cast Recording!!!




*Crickets and Silence from most of my audience*
But for those of you who do understand...the anticipation!!! I cursed the fact the mail runs so late at my house. It would be after rehearsal before I'd get to listen to it! I headed home with anticipation. There is a method to unwrapping books, movies and cds at my house and I was going to relish it.

Then, I had a moment of inspiration. I miss my son. Like a lot. Last week I went three days where I didn't get to see him more than ten minutes. I'm completely aware of the fact that in eight months I will give him over to the Marine Corps for four years and I cherish all our time together. So I decided that If/Then would have to wait and I called Trey and as I pulled into the driveway, he hopped in and we "splurged" on Steak & Shake. During the course of the our dinner, Trey told me about his new favorite comedian and about the paper he wrote for class. That he talked about single Moms and how tough they had it...and about how I was his hero. (You guys!!!) It was totally worth putting off listening to my new cd.

Then we got home. He went to bed. I opened the envelope. Instagrammed the cd cover (of course). Perused the insides. Got my CD player and head phones and headed to bed. After getting comfortable, I realized with some annoyance that the batteries in cd player were almost dead...so dead the CD could barely play. And this is where it got ugly. There were no more batteries!!! I tried to be logical you guys...I really did! But when Idina defies gravity on the high notes (see what I did there?) or when Anthony Rapp starts singing "You Don't Have To Love Me" there is a thrill of emotions that can't be described or contained and I NEEDED THOSE DANG BATTERIES!

So I did the only thing I could...I snuck into the living room and stole the batteries out of the remote.

That's right people...on what is probably the last day my children will have cable in some time, I disabled the remote.

And it's totally worth it!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

"This Is A Safe Space..."

Saturday I was at Frog and Toad rehearsal and I was directing a scene (Whoa...wait...I was directing a scene..squeal!) and my little "Birds" were speaking their lines and I had to tell one little darling bird "You have a soft voice so I'm going to need you to remember to project. Okay? You'll have a mic but you'll still need to throw your voice out there so people can hear you." And she kind of laughed and said "I have a weird voice."

This seemed like a good moment to stop rehearsal for just a sec...

I told her "You have a sweet, soft voice" and then I explained to all my darlings sitting around the "stage" that this was a safe space. That I knew they heard all sorts of negative things but in this space we were going to affirm and empower ourselves. Realizing that some of the littler darlings were looking at me in quizzical fashion, I took it down a level and explained "Be nice to ourselves and others" I told them that Ms Jasmine and I had picked them for the role they were in because out of everyone that auditioned, for whatever reason, we felt they were the best ones to play the part. That we knew they could do it. That they were going to be awesome. And that they were not going to ruin the experience for themselves by constantly thinking negatively about themselves.

The kids all smiled. The parents clapped, whooped and raised the roof. Two rehearsals later my little bird told one of my bigger birds who was mad at herself for messing up that she needed to remember to be nice to herself.

This, you guys! This! So many things I love all wrapped up into what was, to be honest, three minutes of my life tops. I was ecstatic. I was freaking so happy! And then the voice in my head that never shuts up spoke up...

"Now, if you just practice what you preach."

Aaarrrggghhh!

Do you know where our little lovelies learn to be mean to themselves? And before you say school (which admittedly is a huge factor), think about what your kids hear you say when you look in the mirror, before you go out the door, as you look at the menu. All the Mamas who were clapping and lifting their hands want their kids to feel good about themselves but do they feel good about themselves?

I mean, I get it. I hate my feet (wide, flat and horrible toes), my nose (my Mom once jokingly told me God forgot to give me a nose so He took the gum out of his mouth and stuck it on my face. And I have never forgotten that! Geez!), the fact that I'm overweight...

The list could go on. Shopping for a dress is a nightmare....shopping for jeans...okay, let's be real...shopping for anything but books leaves me so depressed I need a bowl of ice cream and a movie I can cry over to make myself feel better. I haven't shopped for a bathing suit in over five years. If we go swimming, I wear shorts and a tank top.

And then my 19 year old daughter comes downstairs in a bathing suit looking curvaceous and gorgeous and just WAY too dang grown and I am smiling at her and may or may not have a tear in my eye because of the amazing young lady that is before my eyes. And it takes me ten minutes to convince her she looks beautiful and even then she may have agreed with me just to shut me up.

You guys...this amazingly beautiful girl needs my help to go out in public in a bathing suit! What the what?!




One day I was baby sitting a rising second grader...a 2nd grader...and she turned down ice cream because she "needed to be on a diet". (This girl is about as big around as my arm ya'll.) And so we talked...and she'd heard her Mom say that she needed to be on a diet and for some reason decided she must be overweight too. (Mom isn't much bigger than my arm either...just for the record).

Our children hear us. They see us. And if we want them to go out into the world believing in themselves and feeling good about themselves and being confident in themselves...then we have to teach them. And this is no "do as I say not as I do" business. More like monkey see, monkey do (You guys, I am always going to have a little of the Head Start Teacher in me). We have to practice what we preach. To teach our children to believe in themselves, we have to believe in ourselves. 


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Throwing Rocks

(Side note before I start...if you don't know who Glennon Doyle Melton is, have never read "Carry On Warrior, and/or you don't "like" the Momastery Facebook page...get busy! In my humble opinion...of course)

The other day, the Momastery Facebook status said:
"Whenever I hear Christian folks discussing how certain they are that God prefers a "traditional" (nuclear, husband and wife) family - I always wonder. If God holds the "traditional" family above all others- why'd God give God's only son to an unmarried, young girl? God only had one shot- and he chose for Jesus a single mama and then a blended family. It seems likely to me that God has wide ideas about what makes a family legit and worthy."

I "liked" it...like immediately. It should come as no surprise that I'm all about celebrating diverse families. I'm a single Mom. I was raised in turns by my Mom and her husband, my Grandma, my Aunt and Uncle, my Dad and his wife, his wife, and then my Mom again. I have friends raising kids in blended family, friends raising their grandchildren. I have friends who foster, friends who adopt...and yes, I have a friends in same sex relationships raising children or trying to. I'm into diverse. I'm okay with it. I celebrate it.

Anyone want to take a guess how quickly the comment section became a quagmire of contention as everyone immediately started arguing for and against same sex marriage? There was no celebration of Jesus and his mother, no celebration of single parents persevering.

There was a lot of rock throwing though. Because there is nothing new under the sun and we are as ready to throw rocks as the Pharisees. Only we don't stop to think about our sin or whether we are without it. We don't stop to think of the pain we'll cause. The irreparable damage that is being done. We call ourselves "defending the gospel" and we let those stones fly.

I'm reading Sarah Bessey's book "Jesus Feminist" and it absolutely wrecking my world. It literally took me a week just to digest the introduction (Yes, I said digest...it was less like reading and more like a process). She is hoping for a day where we can come together as Christians in peace and relate together. She says

"We'll stand before the piles of stones that used to be weapons and we'll build an altar. God met us here"

At the time, reading that, I was still camped out in John 8 with the adulterous woman and the stone carrying crowd because there is just so freaking much you can glean from it!

But, reading Sarah Bessey's description, I suddenly had a mental image of all the stones that were dropped as the crowd realized that none of them were without sin. One minute they are ready to throw rocks...and the next they are building an altar. Perhaps not intentionally but that is what that pile of rocks represents. An altar. An altar of grace. And God met them there.

Guys...I'm not sure who we like throwing rocks at better...the LGBT community, the politicians (the ones on the "wrong side" Also known as, not your side) or each other. In the meantime, we aren't building altars. And we aren't righting the wrongs of this world. Children are hungry, women are hurting and men are trying to find their way. And we can't stop throwing rocks long enough to help them. To show them the way to the altar of grace.

Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone. The rest of us should get busy reconciling ourselves and a lost and broken world to the only one who had the right to cast the stone...and didn't.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Erosion



Here is the truth...I understood there was a Creator before I understood there was a God. I understood Creator the first time I saw a picture of the Grand Canyon and my teacher explained that a river had created that through a process called "erosion"

These days I know more about God the Creator...And the process of erosion. How something small but constant can wear away, create caverns, change the landscape. A constant trickling of bills and sick Moms...money orders lost and trying to come up with $1100 for the rent AGAIN...daughter's who need computers for schools and sons getting ready to join the military..the car tearing up...your job driving you crazy...

And that's all in one week.

I don't know how or when or even if it will let up or get better soon (or for that matter, this side of heaven) . But here is what I do know, God uses erosion to create beautiful things.


 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Demand For Justice

Trigger Warning!!!

It's estimated that every two minutes, a rape occurs in the United States.
Take a deep breath...count to 120. 
1 Mississippi
2 Mississippi
3 Mississippi
...
When you get to 120, that is two minutes.

Every two minutes.

Each year there are approximately 237.868 rapes.
That's the population of Bellevue, Washington...a midsize city just outside of Seattle.

Only 40% of rapes that occur in the United States are reported to the police.
97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail.

Her story:
"I had been staying with friends. It was their son who found me. He'd come to pick me up from work. He later told me he almost ran over me. Apparently when he picked me up, I punched him. He had a black eye the next time I saw him. I still feel bad about that.

He took me home. This was before everyone had cell phones so he had to leave me there to go find his parents. He took a moment to gather up the knives in the house. Maybe I'd said something...

I don't know how long I lay on the couch...I stumbled to the kitchen. Realized there were no knives. I took a glass from the cabinet and busted it in the sink. I was thinking clearly enough not to want to leave a mess. I got into the shower, turned the water on...nothing but hot...and got in...

The problem was, they had those thick glasses. I managed to scratch my arms up really well but not enough to bleed to death. So I took the pieces and swallowed those I could manage. I think I thought it would cut up my insides and I would bleed to death internally. It didn't seem to be working fast enough and I knew that I wanted to be "gone" before they got back. So I opened the medicine cabinet and began taking pills. I was being treated for depression and anxiety at the time so I had several prescriptions. My friend had some. Her husband had some for his health problems. I don't know how many I took. What I thought would be enough I guess. I put my night gown on and went to bed.

I don't remember the ride to the hospital at all. They tell me I tried to jump out of the car and the son had to slap me to calm me down. Guess that makes me feel a little better about the black eye. I came to in the hospital. They'd pumped my stomach. Apparently the glass was too thick too do much damage going down. When they pumped my stomach, they got most of that too. Or I threw it up. Whatever. It was a lot of trouble for nothing. I can't be sure but I think they laughed at me when I told them what the glass was going to do to me.

I was still in the ER when I came to enough to talk to the investigators. My hands had been strapped because I had apparently kept trying to pull out my IV. There was a man and a female. They were trying to ask me questions. They explained they needed to examine me. Gather evidence. I didn't want to be touched. Ever. I guess I'd voiced that because the male investigator got irritated with me. The female investigator talked to me about getting the guys back who had done that to me. Justice. The male investigator told me they already had an idea who'd done this to me. That there had been others. That the last girl had lain in a ditch for three days before anyone found her. She'd made it, but barely. He told me it was my duty to make sure these guys never got the chance to hurt another girl. That got me. So I let them.

I find it ironic it's called a "rape kit"...that sounds more like a tool box for a rapist than one to catch him. They clean under your nails. They take semen samples. It doesn't hurt. It's just...intrusive. Maybe it's because you've already been violated. Because control has already been taken from you. And the people who are helping you are violating you and it's for a good cause...but it's violation all the same. It didn't help that the investigator felt the need to tell me that by taking a shower I'd probably destroyed evidence.

I spent three days in ICU, a couple more days in a regular hospital room. I think that had more to do with the staff being afraid I was going to hurt myself than anything. I spoke to the investigators several more times. Answered questions about what I was wearing, why I was where I was...told the same story over and over...in case I missed details or changed my story I guess.

Two weeks after I was out of the hospital, the investigators told me the suspects had taken off...supposedly for Texas. I was told they wouldn't pursue them but would wait until they were picked up for something else...they were bound to get caught for anything from speeding, stealing, assault. Getting picked up for another rape wasn't mentioned. I guess they didn't because I never heard anything else.

...The rape kit? I don't know...never thought about it."

There are over 400,000 unprocessed rape kits sitting on shelves across the United States. Some of them have been there so long the statute of limitations has run out. Reasons such as lack of resources, staff, etc are blamed. Recently in Tennessee, a bill was introduced suggesting the state spend $2 Million of the $40 Million the General Assembly has in reserve to process the 12, 000 rape kits sitting untested in Tennessee. The bill was voted down 22-8 with two Republicans joining the six minority Democrats voting for the funding.

400,000 women were promised justice...or they were at least told it would be attempted. They endured rape kits after already being violated and that evidence sits on the shelf. 

Where are our priorities? Where is justice for these women? How can we encourage the 60% of sexual assault victims who will never come forward to do so if the cold hard truth is that coming forward will do them no good???

It is time for us to stand with these women and demand justice. 

Check out RAINN's Action Center for more information.

*Our story is true. And the teller will remain anonymous at her request.
* Statistics provided by RAINN
* Malignant comments will be deleted. Keep it positive people.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The other day my foster daughter sent me a text.

"I cleaned the floors."

I was super pleased because in the new house, that is quite a feat!

When I got home that evening, I was a little confused. The floors looked terrible. And they were greasy. I asked Grace, "What did you use to clean the floors?" She said she used the Murphy's Oil Wood Soap. Embree quietly said "She didn't read the instructions and used way too much." That explained it...you need a cap full. She used half the bottle. I mean, the normal rule (in our house anyway) is the more cleaning product, the better!

I went to grab the mop so I could remove some of the cleaner but the mop was completely dry. I called upstairs, "Grace...what did you use to mop the floor? The mop is dry."

Grace called down "I used the mop with the orange cover."

So I taught my sweet girl what a dust broom is...

It brought to mind this little gem from Pam Parish:

Why Did My Towels Turn Pink?


Friday, May 2, 2014

Office Supplies and Emotions

It was a rough week at work.

Nothing life shattering, just one of those weeks where you are overworked, everything that can go wrong will, you are getting audited by the Department of Labor, there is a virus going around.

And then it got better. We were all still feeling pretty blah. I ran into Staples for some stuff we needed. I was on my way to the cash register when I saw the pretty colors!

Seriously, one minute I'm thinking "I need to blah, blah, blah" and the next I'm all "COLORS! PRETTY!"

Post It Notes has these new city themed packets with colors that are supposed to represent certain cities, have you seen them?

Perhaps this is not exciting to you. Perhaps you do not share my obsession and love for office supplies...especially colorful office supplies. But whatever. If you cannot understand the thrill that my sould experienced at that moment...this might not be the post for you.

I was immediately distracted and stopped to inspect them. The moment I saw the NYC pack, I was lost.


The thought process was something like "I love New York City! Broadway is in New York City! Idina Menzel's new show is opening this week! I NEED THESE POST ITS!!! I DESERVE THESE POST ITS!"

So they went in the cart. Suddenly I felt destressed...and then I thought EVERYONE in the office deserved prettily colored office supplies. So I bought something for everyone...post its, paper clips, etc. And by everyone, I'm talking like five people. But still...

I may be too emotional to be in charge of buying office supplies.

I just may be too emotional for life. But it isn't something I can just fix. I can usually manage it. By manage it I mean only fly off the handle half the time.

But it is something I need to remember when I'm feeling left out, offended, or lost. Because the reality is that most of the time no one meant to ignore me, lose me, or desert me.

I only mention this because it feels like emotions are running high on quite a number of issues these days. Maybe we can blame social media but it's getting re-dic-u-lous! It's time for us to take a deep breath and remember that though we are emotional creatures, we don't always have to act emotionally.

I remember hearing a pastor speak to his congregation about the woman accused of adultery. The crowd is ready to stone her. They bring her to Jesus because they are going to kill two birds with one stone. Denounce Jesus and throw rocks at the harlot! Jesus, before He stops the party by reminding everyone that none of them are perfect, stoops down in the dirt and writes something with his finger. The pastor said that Biblical scholars have tried for years to figure out what Jesus was writing...but that he (the pastor) thought Jesus needed a minute. That for just a second the human side of Jesus almost took over long enough for Jesus to yell "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE???" so Jesus stooped in the dirt long enough to get a hold on his "second response". And in doing so, competently handled the situation.

I've kept that in mind for ages. It is one of my favorite sermons to date. And it's good advice. Take a deep breath. Stoop and write in the dirt if you need to...but remember that your first response isn't always the right response.

Unless it's brightly covered office supplies...that's a no brainer.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

I made a Mama cry today...

A few days ago I was at auditions for Frog & Toad and the Director passes one of the audition sheets over to me. The Mom had written "he has special needs"

So this kid comes in and he has got such a personality and he does a good job on his monologue and song and by the end of his audition all of us at the table have agreed without saying a word...this kid needs to be on stage.

So today I call to offer him the role and the Mom is so excited but she's a little nervous too. Can he handle it? Can we handle him?

And I could tell her the Director teaches special needs children. I could tell her I was once a head start teacher with a classroom filled with behaviorally challenged kids. But...for whatever reason, I don't.

I tell her about his audition. His manners, the way he handled himself, made eye contact, remembered his monologue, sang his song and managed the scales. About how everyone agreed this was a boy who needed to be on the stage.

And she cried. Because she was proud of him. Because we wanted him. Because we saw the special more than the needs. God bless all the Mamas who love their babies so well.

She was so excited to be able to tell him. And all day long I thought about her having that to look forward to...and I smiled every time.

Be encouraged Mamas. Your kids are awesome. And you are doing a good job.

Ya'll pray for this new "drama mama"...she has no idea what she's getting into! LOL

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sick Days



You know it when you wake up...but still you lay there and wonder...
"Am I really sick? Too sick to go to work?"

You flinch when you make the call, send the text, write the email because you know that, even if you're coworkers are super nice, they are going to be ticked that you aren't there (of course, they'd be ticked if you dragged your germ infested body to work and shared the fever/stomach cramps/sore throat/cough/etc...so this is a no win situation)

So you face the facts, call in sick, take the Advil, and go back to sleep.

But all is not lost! The silver lining...
1) You can convince yourself the multiple cats and dogs cuddling you are there because they are concerned and not just hogging your bed. And they actually can be comforting when the fever has you trembling.

2) It's not every day that making it from the bed to the recliner is a major accomplishment.

3) It's perfectly acceptable to take a nap after you finally take a shower...at six p.m.

4) You've finally given those 120 people (???) who follow you on Pinterest a reason for doing so! (Seriously, I have "pinned" more pins today than I did all of  last year!)

5) You managed to catch up on your favorite blogs.

6) You've managed to catch up with all of your friends on Facebook. In fact, you basically stalked them.

7) You can spend ALL day on social media(see #4-6)! Because what the heck else are you going to do???

8) You can finally finish Book #2 in the Game of Thrones series.

9) You can justify spending $4.99 to rent a movie on demand.

10) There is finally a reason to read the warning label on the back of the Advil so you know just how many you can take in a 24 hour period. (No, seriously, you want to read that!)

And last but not least...
11) No bra and comfy pants ALL day!

Here's to feeling better tomorrow!