(not so) Compassionate

It is no secret that West Virginia has a problem.  Truthfully, the word “problem” fails to grasp the true magnitude of what is happening here in the Mountain State.

They call us pillbillies.  In the (not so) distant past, one of our larger towns, Huntington, was declared the opioid capital of the country.  We have more opioid related deaths than anywhere else. Check out this article in the New Yorker about the crisis.

There is another “problem,” though, and one almost as deadly and dangerous as the pills, and the heroine that eventually shows up on the scene. That problem is a little more complex, a little more deep rooted and hard to define.  There are several words that come to mind–cold-heartedness, pride, snobbiness, judgmental (that’s a good one), and down right cruelty.

Consider the recent story about some teenagers who not only watched, but filmed, as a man drowned.  The obvious outranged reaction of nearly everyone in the country has been everything from disdain to down right rage.  I’ve seen comments suggesting that the guillotine be brought back in to service. While I’m not calling for any beheading, the story makes me sick.  I think it is a sad testament to how this current generation of teens has developed empathy (or the lack thereof.) But that’s a post for another day.

At any rate, we can all pretty much agree that standing by and watching, laughing, and filming while someone drowns is not acceptable behavior.

The people of West Virginia are drowning, and yet somehow we have deemed it acceptable to stand by and watch.

There are conflicting reports as to where opioid addiction starts.  Some reports say that users start with prescriptions.  Others say that is not the case. It is generally accepted that opioid pill abuse leads to heroine, which is about one tenth the price of the pills, which, incidentally, have been shipped into this state by the truck load.

Let me sum up my feelings on this matter by paraphrasing a statement from the novel Warm Bodies: once you reach the end of the world, the road you took to get there hardly matters.

This post isn’t about the opioid epidemic.  It isn’t about the causes of addiction, which are as diverse as the addicts themselves. It’s about the rest of us–the non-addicts, if you will.

We’re watching our neighbors drown.

I’m as guilty as the rest.  I get frustrated and talk about “the druggies” and “the pill heads” and bitch about how law enforcement isn’t doing anything about it, and how you can’t even walk around in a small town that, by definition, should be one of the safest places in the world. I get it.  It sucks.

I’m not telling you to invite these people to sleep in your house at night. Maybe, though, we might do well to stop and realize that these “druggies” are still people.  Sadly, so many of them are young people who are following in the deadly footsteps of parents who were hooked even before their doomed children were born. They are moms and dads and grandparents and cousins and uncles.  In short, they are just people–people who are drowning.

And all we are doing is judging them. We are watching them drown, and lots of times we are filming it as well.

I see it every day, especially on the accursed Facebook, where the whole population feels entitled to the role of armchair quarterback. We wag our heads and make faces of disgust. Druggies.  Pill heads.  Worthless losers.

We are trying to do something about the overdose death rate.  Early this year, Naloxone was distributed across the state to be administered to overdose cases.  It reverses the respiratory depression caused by opioid overdose.  It is on hand for paramedics, police officers, and even in some schools.

Are people glad about that? I’ll let you guess.

Need more time? Or did you figure it out already?

The amount of negative commentary on this lifesaving drug is astounding, especially when you consider how many of these naysayers are “Christians.” Why should our tax dollars go to save these druggies? People are going without health insurance and are struggling to make ends meet, and you are taking our hard earned dollars and giving them to the pill heads.  Let them die.  They have made their own beds, let them lay in them, right?

Wrong.

Shame on anyone who feels this way. Shame on any who get on social media and brag about how they and their family exist on some higher astral plane than the rest of us sinners, how they and their sainted families have never dealt with addiction because they are Godly and the rest of us are not. Shame on Sunday morning “Christians” who sit in the pew and praise Jesus, then go out into the world and speak words worthy of the Devil himself.  Shame. Shame, shame, shame.

I think each and every one of us who hasn’t been stricken with this epidemic had better drop down on our knees right now and say a prayer that we have been spared.  I think we better take a minute to remember that if we live without compassion, we are living an empty life–a selfish life full of self-important goals and ideas.  We have forgotten that each of us has just a short time here, and each of us is fragile–as fragile as blown glass.  To judge and sneer and turn our backs on our neighbors seems to me the greatest sin of all.

I know I’m guilty, too, but I’m trying.  I’m trying to realize that I have no idea what struggles other go through every day.  I know what it’s like to have an addictive personality.  I know what escapism is.  If you go to the fridge or the pantry when you are stressed, you do too.  None of us are immune.

To the pseudo Christians out there, allow me to leave you with this, some verses from the Book of Matthew, chapter 25, starting with verse 40: Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Now skip ahead to verse 45: He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

Cheers!


 

 

(not so) Top Secret

My husband and I had a pretty important milestone lately.  We celebrated twenty years of marriage.

In today’s throw-away society, that’s a pretty big deal.  I’m reasonably sure the divorce rate is now well over 50%. (I could research that, but this isn’t one of those serious, research-y blogs.)

Anyway, as an act of benevolence, and in light of the upcoming nuptials of some beloved family members, I have decided to share with you the secret of my marital success.

You read that right.  I am about to share with you, my faithful readers, top-secret, highly confidential information that may change the way we look at marriage, and, in fact, all of our relationships.

Come close now.  A little closer.  Lean in here.

Here is the secret–the secretest of secrets–

There is no secret.

I know, you’re thinking, “Wait–what?”

I’ll say it again: the secret is, there is no secret.

Part of our culture’s collective problem is that we think there is some magical answer to all of our problems.  There has to be some secret to how two people can stay married for twenty years, right? Some formula that makes it easy and does all the work for us. Do this, get that result.  A plus B equals C.

Oh, if only life were that simple.

My husband and I have stayed married for twenty years because we made the choice to stay married for twenty years.  If you think there haven’t been times during these two decades when each of us hasn’t thought about running for the hills, then you’re deluded.  Everyone has those feelings.  Human beings are volatile creatures.  We get angry.  We harbor resentment, and say things without thinking.  We hurt each other again and again.  Truthfully, no one has the power to hurt us more than the people we love.

It would be so simple for people to give up, to say to Hell with it and walk out the door.  Tons of people do.  Matt and I have not.  We have chosen forgiveness, and patience, and compassion.  We talk to God about our problems instead of the neighbors. We talk to each other when we have an argument instead of posting it on Facebook. In short, we make our marriage a priority.

To me, that isn’t a secret. We should treat all of our relationships, and the people in them, with respect.  We should give our best to the people who mean the most to us.  After all, that’s what we expect from them, isn’t it?

It’s so easy to think someone else will be better, someone else will do better, when in reality we are the ones who need to do better. We need to try harder.

That isn’t a secret, my friends.  That is a fact.


 

 

(not so) Common Sense

Generally speaking, humans are highly evolved.  As far as brains go, we are at the top of the evolutionary ladder.

As such, one would assume that it would be very difficult to fool us.  We would never fall for media trickery, pseudo-science, or political dishonesty. Right?

(Awkward pause…)

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling slightly red-faced right now.

The somewhat embarrassing truth is, for such a highly evolved species, we are quite gullible.  We accept things as fact with very little context.  Headlines and memes are used to support our opinions as opposed to genuine research and inquiry. We accept reporting from obviously biased news sources.

Worst of all, we put our faith in our government, and its agencies, thinking they have our best interests in mind when creating policies and regulations.

Spoiler alert: they don’t.

I live in West Virginia, a beautiful state full of good -hearted people.  It is also a state full of poor, unemployed, struggling people.  Our primary industry, coal, is dying, if not dead.  Most unfortunately, we are leading the nation in the opioid epidemic.

This beautiful state has been poisoned.  First is was Oxycontin and all of its cousins. Now, because pills became so expensive, heroin has made a comeback. The most infuriating aspect of all of this is that the drugs made their way into West Virginia on a prescription form.

We all sat here and watched it happen.  We enabled.  We participated.  Why? Because these were FDA approved drugs.  The government, in other words, told us to go ahead and take these drugs.  They handed us that scary paper with all of the warnings and indications and sent us on our way.

We see how that turned out.

I’m not writing about the opioid epidemic, although I certainly could.  I’m really not even writing about government corruption or the prescription pill pandemic in this country.

I’m writing because “we the people” are swallowing something infinitely worse than a prescription painkiller.

We are swallowing a load of crap.

We are swallowing the belief that the FDA is acting in the best interest of the people of this state and, indeed, this entire country.  We have convinced ourselves the government knows what is best for us.  We are errant schoolchildren who need Big Daddy to correct us upon our path and set us right.

Is that what this country was founded upon? The need of constant government interference? Think about it–they tell us what to feed our children, what to let them watch, they tell us what to eat and what to think and, of course, how to medicate ourselves.  They even tell us where we can and cannot buy our milk.  (Think I’m kidding? Do a little research into legislation concerning raw milk.)

I’m as guilty as everyone else.  Like us all, I didn’t so much agree to these things as just passively let them happen, but at the end of the road, the mode of travel is somewhat irrelevant, wouldn’t you say?

And so here we are.

Now my interest is slightly more than passive.  We are fighting epilepsy in this house, and when I say fighting it, baby, I mean fighting. We knock it down, it gets back up, more determined and sadistic than before.  I’m afraid we’re losing.  I don’t know what comes next.  Every day I feel like I’m running out of options.

Can I count on my government to help me? Another spoiler: no.

The sad fact is just the opposite.  My government is opposing me.  It is trying to keep me down and keep me from fighting for my daughter.  It seems to want epilepsy to win.  Of course no individual member of any government would admit to such a thing, but The Grandparents taught me that truth lies in the actions of a person, not the words.

The actions of the people in the government of my state and the whole country tell me a story that makes me sick.

It’s a story of men and women in positions of power groveling to big business, particularly Big Pharma, and I mean groveling, practically licking the soles of their filthy shoes, just to keep the dollars rolling in.  Our government is run by lobbyists and money.  All intentions of those first Americans who fled from tyranny are gone.

And we have allowed it to happen.

It isn’t too late to start changing things.  Passivity needs to come to an end.  That’s it in a nutshell.  We need to vote, we need to call, we need to write, we need to speak!!  We need to stop sitting back and waiting for other people to fight our fights and fix our problems.  We need to have our own backs.

I’m going to keep fighting for my daughter.  I’m going to fight for the right to treat her epilepsy with a plant if need be, regardless of the stigma that plant has gained because of a media campaign so many years ago.  I’m going to use my highly evolved brain and science and logic rather than the media and government to make my decisions.  I should have that right.  So many fought and died to give me that right, and I intend to make sure their sacrifice was not in vain.

Won’t you join me?


 

 

This is the first in my series about medical marijuana.  It started as one post, but I found that there is just too much information to share in a single shot.  Consider this as the introduction.  Please share, and stay tuned! 

 

 

 

Prozac (not so) Me

Do you ever get the feeling that God is speaking to you? Maybe sending you a sign?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not those kinds of signs, but the kinds that only you see.  I’ll give you two examples.

Wednesday of last week was Ash Wednesday.  My sister was watching an episode of Roseanne.  It was from either the last season or the next to last season.  Roseanne is teaching some rich white folks how to be white trash.  She said, “Women who yell don’t need pills.  Pills were invented by men to stop women from yelling!”

It struck me as funny, but it also lodged itself unknowingly into my brain.

Fast forward a few days, and my best friend makes this casual comment to me over the phone:  “I’ve heard you laugh more in the past few days than I have for a long time.”

This has all been foreshadowing.  (See how literary I am? Don’t you just want to throw money at me for my writing?) Last Tuesday was my last Prozac. Absolutely not on purpose! Don’t be impressed! No indeed–my prescription didn’t have any refills, and we got hit with a massive storm that knocked out power early Wednesday morning.  Power was out not only at the pharmacy, but also at my doctor’s office, so I couldn’t call in for a refill.

Now, if you can follow the Tarantino-ish order of this post so far, here’s what has happened:  I have inadvertently given up Prozac for Lent.

It just so happened my last pill was on Fat Tuesday.  I couldn’t get it refilled on Ash Wednesday.  When the day finally came for me to submit the refill because the doctor was going to be in the next day, I hear that very, very important comment from my friend.

She’s heard me laugh more in the last week then she has in a long time.

The week I haven’t had the Prozac.

If that isn’t food for thought, I don’t know what is.

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  In old fashioned terms, I’m hyper, nervous, neurotic, etc.  This is not revolutionary news to anyone, I assure you. A few years ago, though, it was moving past the point of comedy routine material into the land of serious issues.  Sleep was nearly impossible.  When I did sleep, I had terrible nightmares.  My first panic attack prompted me to talk to a doctor.  I didn’t even have a regular family doctor up to that point.

The panic attack was a thing I cannot describe. It happened on the way back from a beautiful, stress free vacation.  That was the most upsetting part.  It came from nowhere.  It wasn’t  a “break” or anything like that.  I was just riding along in the car on the way home from the ocean, and bam.  Well, more like BAAAMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!

I started to notice the semi in the lane next to us.  It kept distracting me from the ongoing conversation.  It kept catching my eye.  Suddenly, I started to get afraid.  (Although afraid fails to truly describe the feeling.)  I sweated.  I cried.  I shook.  My mouth tasted like pennies.  I became convinced we were all (me, my husband, my kids, and my sister) were going to die in a horrific accident.  I saw it.  A good imagination is a blessing and a curse, let me tell you.  My throat closed up and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  I had to fight the temptation to literally tear open the door of the car and jump out.  Really.

Well, I confess to you now that I took one of my sisters strong narcotic medications to knock myself out.  I slept for a couple hours of the ride home, and when I woke up, I felt a little better.  It’s hard to describe, but somehow, that event made me more aware of the feelings that I guess had always been there,unacknowledged,  hanging like some sort of poisonous snake around my neck.  It was ready to slither up any time to whisper in my ear all of the tragic and terrible things that could happen, that were happening, in the world, and in my life, every day.  I had to do something.

So, to cut this long story slightly shorter, Prozac galloped onto the scene like my White Knight, and I found I could deal with daily stresses without being quite so “hyper” or “nervous” or “neurotic.”  To me, this was a good thing.  To my family, who loves me and worries about me and, to be frank, is a little afraid of me, it was a miracle.

I short, I squashed the bad feelings.

Here’s what scares me: have I squashed all of the feelings?

I am a loud woman.  I am passionate and sometimes overbearing and sometimes overemotional.  My temper has gotten me into more tough spots than I care to recall.  I love to laugh, and laugh loud and hard.  I have a hard time keeping my opinion to myself.  I think all of these things are what makes me Janice.  They make me Mom, and The (not so) Special Mother, and the woman whose husband said, “There’s no one like you, babe.  One’s enough,” and he said it in response to my query as to whether or not he was sure he really wanted to marry me.

So here is the question (the one that is keeping the stars apart): Have I, and other’s like me, medicated ourselves right out of living?

Life is supposed to be hard.  The hard is what makes it good.  It’s scary and tragic and beautiful and funny and horrible and everything. It is anxiety causing!!  Is it possible we are taught to squash feelings rather than deal with them? Are we in a cycle of denial and repression that sucks in not only ourselves, but everyone around us?

I don’t know the answer to these questions.  I’ll be frank–they scare the hell out of me.  The thought that God is trying to tell me something so specific equally scares the hell out of me.  I’m not the best Catholic lately.  Maybe God is telling me to rely on Him, and on my own faith, rather than chemicals from a bottle.  Maybe God is telling me that my life is a gift, warts and all.  My feelings and reactions are a part of that life.  They are a part of me.  I’m going to give them a chance this Lent.  I’m going to try and deal with them instead of trying to squash them.  Not to get too deep, but I’m going to feel them, then I’m going to try to let them go and give them to God.

Pray for me.  I need it.

We all do.


 

 

Disclaimer: In no way am I suggesting that every person who takes some sort of depression or anxiety controlling medication should just toss those pills out the window and embrace the agony.  It’s a story about my own life, and if it speaks to you, then so be it.  Cheers!

 

 

 

Judgy Turd Syndrome

“But people love a hypocrite, you know——they recognize one of their own, and it always feels so good when someone gets caught with his pants down and his dick up and it isn’t you.”
― Stephen King, The Green Mile

 

Why is it that we relish in the misery of others?

I suppose some would say that we don’t, or, if we do, we are in the sick minority.  All of us good Christian people have sympathy and empathy with those who are in misery. Those who suffer rely on our prayers and kind words to survive.

Except….

When reality crashes the party, that isn’t always the case, is it?

Take, for example, when trouble befalls a family.  Let’s say a child of said family finds himself or herself in trouble.  As Christians, our duty is to pray for that family, offer them our support (in private) and let them know we are there if they need us.

Seems simple, right?

Apparently not.

From where I’m sitting, it seems like everyone is just waiting for something bad to happen to a family, so we go can into judgy turd mode.

What is a judgy turd? Allow me to explain.

The JT folks like to act like they are so concerned about the stricken family.  They accept confidences and nod and give sage advice.  Then, as soon as possible, they start the gossip wheel a-turnin’.

Who can I tell?

Did you hear?

Can you believe it?

I always knew something like that would happen!

Isn’t it just awful?!

You know I’m not really surprised, he/she was never any good.

Look how the parents live! Is it any wonder?

And on and on it goes.

Here’s the worst part of it all–most of the folks participating in the public castigation of a family take a break from their Vitriol to warm a church pew on Sunday.  Priorities, right?

Jesus didn’t care much about the social status of the people he kept company with.  He was questioned about it openly a few times, and no doubt the JT’s of the time were giving him hell behind his back.  He hung around the worst possible crowds.  When he was asked about it, do you know what his response was?

The physician comes to help the sick, not hang out with the well. (My paraphrase.)

Digest that for a minute.

Maybe that implies that if we are truly Christ-like, we need to rethink our dealings with the “sick.”

My observations lately have shown me a bunch of holier than thou do-gooders who don’t want to get their lily-white robes stained by associating with the “common sinner.”

I am no theologian–far from it.  I am Thomas all the way.  There’s never been a greater sinner than me.  But I will tell you this–when I see someone struggling, there is a magical phrase that flashes through my mind:

“There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

Indeed.

So maybe, when you hear that juicy bit of gossip, instead of calling the first person you can think of, maybe stop your day and say a prayer.  Thank God that you yourself aren’t dealing with such a thing, and then pray to ask God’s guidance as to how you might help those who are struggling.

And ask him to help you not gossip, and to not judge. Ask him for the guidance to look into your own home with as sharp an eye as you look into the homes of others.

Someone’s kid in trouble? Let’s talk about that.

What most of us fail to realize is that the majority of the young people we see getting into trouble are just regular kids, even good kids, who made bad decisions.  The career criminals, like we see on tv, make up a smaller percentage.

What can we learn from this? Well, how about that any of us could be a few bad decisions away from a real shit storm.  It happens. It is, unfortunately, our human nature to act first and think later, and it’s to our great detriment. Sometimes we narrowly avoid disaster.

Sometimes we don’t.

So instead of offering our opinions as to why someone’s kid got in trouble, or someone’s husband was caught cheating, or someone was dipping into the till at work, perhaps we can just be sorrowful that it happened, send good thoughts and prayers to those people, offer help if that is appropriate, and then, as one of those annoying ass Disney Princesses says, “let it go.”

Let’s put our focus into our own homes, and, more specifically, into our own hearts.  For the most part, we’re all pretty much fighting the same battles, with one or two of our own particular vices thrown in for variety.

I’ll say this: if you find yourself enjoying a peculiar sense of glee at someone else’s misfortune, even the misfortune of your enemy, then you need to take a hard look at yourself.  You need to pay special attention while you are warming that pew on Sunday (or Saturday.) And if still nothing strikes you, maybe you had better review your religious affiliations.  Because if your religion doesn’t teach you, at its core, to love others and always act with love and compassion, even when you are disagreeing or correcting, then you are following the wrong religion.

Who says so?

I do.

The original Judgy Turd.

 

 


 

 

 

 

Feminism? Yeah, about that……

When I was a much younger woman, barely out of my teen years, my mind was just full of green-girl foolishness.  I was a rebel.  I would march and shout and wave a sign around if the need arose.  I was all about no one getting to tell me what I could do with my own body, especially some rich, white, male, politician who probably had illegitimate children in all fifty states.

I guess you could say I almost drank the Koolaid.

My gifts are limited.  I can openly admit this about myself.  However, if I were to credit myself with something, it is my tendency to question everything with skepticism, and to think about everything with logic, reason and as open a mind as possible. As a result, a lot of the stuff I “knew” when I was 20 years old turned out not to hold water.  It’s a very painful thing to realize you’ve been backing the wrong team.

Incidentally, it was the wrong team who marched in D.C. this past weekend.  The wrong team has a ton of intelligent, brave, articulate women whom I admire. I understand they want attention, and they want to be heard and seen.

Well.

This is a picture of Kierra Johnson, a speaker at the march.  Love her shirt, don’t you? The tall blonde behind her is Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, who says that abortions only equal 3% of what they do.  Clearly anyone with any mathematical skills and the ability to think clearly knows that is bullshit.  But I digress.

Here are a couple of other gems from the women’s march.

 

 

 

Nice

 

 

 

 

 

How about this blasphemous image of a vagina turned into a supposed likeness of the Virgin Mary.  That, my friends, is so classy, I think I may have to vomit.

 

 

And my personal favorite:

 

 

 

 

 

There were, of course, the pussy hats, the vagina costumes, and various bare body parts.  All in the name, of course, of bringing respect and appreciation to all woman.

Yeah.

I believe in what feminism used to be.  I believe there should never be such  thing as a wage gap, and NO ONE has the right to put their hands on someone else without their permission.  We do deserve affordable and thorough health care and education.  We are equal to men as far as being humans and worth of respect and consideration.  This stuff seems like common sense.

Here’s what I don’t believe.  Abortion is not healthcare.  Holding open a door for someone is not sexist–it is kind and mannerly. Chivalry, though allegedly dead, did not necessarily deserve to die.

Here’s the poison core of feminism that I think needs to be excised if feminism is to have any chance: being a woman who is a little softer, a little more nurturing, and, God-forbid, able to carry a child in her womb, is considered  being less of a woman somehow.  Sometimes, when they really get going, it almost sounds like they hate being women. A pregnancy is viewed not as a miracle, even if it was unplanned, but rather a burden that keeps us away from work, or nights out on the town, and makes us unbearably fat. I’ve seen pro-choice people comment that a woman basically has to carry an alien or a parasite in her body for nine months.

That’s what is has boiled down to, you know? We are so selfish as women that we will not give up our feminine awesomeness even for our own child, not even if we can give our baby up for adoption to a family that desperately wants what you want to be rid of.

I’m going to hit you ladies out there with some knowledge.  I love being a woman.  The fact that I have an organ in my body which can grow another human being inside of it is AMAZING. I shouldn’t be punished for that! Not to break into science on you all, but reproduction is the only hope any species has.  That’s what our glorious female bodies are made to do.  It is not punishment or a burden.  It is an opportunity to bring a child into the world, and do everything in your power to give that child a fulfilling life full of potential.

You call yourself feminist, but it was men who were inconvenienced by unwanted pregnancies.  Ever think about that? They told us now was not a good time to be pregnant, either our boyfriends, finances, fathers, and maybe even husbands.  Woman succumbed to the pain and degradation of abortion to satisfy the protocols of a dominantly white male society. The fact that women have been brainwashed into murdering their own children should tell us just how deeply this brainwashing goes into the heart of feminism.  We should be marching to demand that this free country makes the appropriate adaptations to embrace womanhood.  We should not have to change the very fundamentality of our bodies to fit into a mold that was clearly designed with males in mind. True acceptance only comes when you are accepted for who you truly are.

Furthermore, feminists, don’t kid yourself.  I am not interested in your uterus, your ovaries, your vagina, or your body in general.  It is a scientific fact that the child within your womb is a whole other person.  You womb is the home of this person, and that’s all.  No one wants to control your “reproductive rights,” whatever the righteous hell that means.  What we do want is for you to consider the life of your child. We also think it would be great if abortion and feminism didn’t go hand in hand, so we could actually get back into feminism and take a break from mundane household chores.

The last thing I would say is this: try toning it down a little.  Now, I don’t mean to water down your message or anything like that.  However, I happen to strongly believe that a powerful message can only be delivered from intelligent people who speak carefully and respectfully. Speak with earnestness and determination.  Let them know you aren’t going to give up.  But do it so that you yourself garner respect from those who are listening to and watching you.  You want to make sure you getting attention for the right reasons, not because you are being mocked and ridiculed.  In short, don’t expect anyone to take you seriously when you look like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

So yeah, go ahead and have your feminism.  It is your right to do that.  But I beg each of you to stop and think about what you really believe, and why you believe it, and consider how many facts you know about what you believe–and not just stuff off of memes and social media! I’m not world leader, but if nothing else, think about the words I’ve written here.

I believe them with all of my heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Post Election Reflection

Listening and reading this morning has caused me to reflect. I have arrived at a startling conclusion.

Many of you are happy. Many are sad, even horrified. However, consider this: you cannot pass a law to abolish hate. You cannot create work ethic by creating jobs. You cannot legislate compassion, acceptance, or kindness, regardless of your party affiliations.

There’s only one person who can change those things–me. And you. And the guy sitting next to you. America is sick because the hearts of its people are sick. Our mouths are open and our minds are closed.

Donald Trump can’t save us. Hillary Clinton can’t save us. Only we can do that.

Only us.

 


 

(not so) Tongue Tied

Here’s an unusual way for The (not so) Special Mother to start a blog post: with some Bible verses.  Check it out.

James, Chapter 3, verses 3-9

If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide their whole bodies.  It is the same with ships: even though they are so large and driven by fierce winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot’s inclination wishes. In the same way the tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions.

Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze.  The tongue is also a fire.  It exists among other members as a world of malice, defiling the whole body and setting the entire course of our lives on fire, itself set on fire by Gehenna.  For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no human being can tame the tongue.  It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings who are made in the likeness of God. {Emphasis in bold is mine.}

Martin Luther called Saint James the “epistle of straw,” but between you and me, I think it’s because James upholds so many Catholic beliefs, and we all know how old ML felt about the Catholic Church.

However, this post isn’t about the differences between Protestants and Catholics (which are far fewer than you think) or about theology at all, really.

It’s about tempers and tongues in general, and mine in particular.

I happen to love the whole book of James.  You seldom hear anyone quote him, or read from his letter. In reality, though, he pulls no punches, and I think he pretty much spells Christianity out in black and white.  My extremely brief synopsis of James’ letter is this–stop telling everyone you’re a Christian and start acting like one.

As much as I love reading James, and as much as I sit and nod my head, as much as the Protestant in me wants to jump up and yell “Amen, brother!” I find myself quite the hypocrite.

Do any of you have a temper?

I mean, everyone gets mad sometimes.  That’s human nature.  But I’m talking about a temper.  TEMPER.  The kind that takes a whole lot to trigger, but once it is triggered, look out.  The kind of temper that explodes and splashes molten rage on whatever poor soul might be in the vicinity.  The kind of temper that causes normally nice, kind hearted people–people who would never say hurtful things to anyone, especially someone they loved–to spew forth angry words and actions, consequences be damned.

You know, that kind of temper.

Guess what? Yours truly has that selfsame temper, and it has been a plague my whole life.  I had hoped, as a younger person, that when I become older, I would learn to “control” this unpleasant facet of my personality.  That it would somehow fade into little more than an unpleasant memory.

Well, it hasn’t, and I daresay it has only changed its ugly form.  Now it takes much more for me to lose said temper, but when I do, it seems as though I have less control over what I do, and more importantly, what I say, than even I did when I was younger.

I can make excuses about this, but I’ve had a hell of an examination of conscience over the past couple of weeks, and I think a “temper” is little more than an excuse to behave poorly, and to speak cruelly.  Aside from a small percentage of the population who may have some sort of emotional or behavioral disorder, do any of us really “lose control” of our tempers, or do we simply give up control, because it makes us feel better to say all of the ugly things that can flash through our minds in times of upset and stress, and of course, anger.

Chew on that one for a while.

James says our tongues are impossible to bridle, “a restless evil and full of deadly poison.” That pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? Oh, the harm we can inflict with our words, but oh, how easily we allow them to “slip” out.  All in the name of anger, and our tempers.

I myself have spewed deadly poison on more than one occasion.  And I am no rookie–I know just the words to hurt and cut.  When I get mad enough, I can fire with deadly accuracy right into the heart of anyone, even my nearest and dearest.  Right now half the country is clamoring for gun control, but sometimes I wonder if we’d all do a little better with some tongue control.  God knows I could.

My temper is no excuse.  I am a fully functioning human being–I have absolute control over all of my faculties.  Why should the tongue be different? What excuse should allow me to say horrible things? Because I got mad? How foolish.  How childish.  If we can’t even control the words the come out of our own mouths (or that we type on the screen), how are we better than even a child? James says we praise God with our tongues, then turn around and curse the very people who are just like us–human beings going through the same struggles as all the other human beings on the planet–and, more importantly, all made in the image and likeness of God.

So the next time I feel a temper tantrum coming on, I’m going to try to do better.  I’m going to remind myself of all of my own shortcomings.  I’m going to think of the feelings of the person I’m getting ready to blast.  Even if it seems like they have no feelings, I’m going to think about the awful, hateful taste those anger-fueled words leave in my own mouth.  I’m going to remember that James says our tongues are full of poison, and then I’ll realize that our tongues are in our own mouths.

So who is the one really getting poisoned?

Think about it.


 

 

 

Hillbilly Strong

To say the State of West Virginia has had a rough couple of days would be a massive understatement.

To make a long and extremely depressing story somewhat shorter, suffice it to say we received record rainfall amounts across much of the state, and as a result we had record flooding.

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This is just a glimpse of the widespread destruction and devastation that struck our state.  Over twenty lives have been lost.  Homes were completely wiped out, people have been displaced and are staying in shelters, and everything has been just generally awful in every imaginable way.

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It’s the type of situation that you think only happens in “other” places, to “other” people, but in reality, it happened all around us.  Small communities that we grew up in, that we have vacationed in or simply just driven through on a regular basis have been reduced to so much stinking, muddy, condemned rubble.

We escaped damage, thanks be to God.  Our driveway washed out and there a little water in the low spots of our basement that seeped in through the walls, but that’s it.

But this post isn’t about that.

What I have witnessed over the past few days, besides destruction and loss and devastation, is something I forgot about.  It’s something that is special about this place I live, this place which I catch myself holding in disdain from time to time.  It’s easy to look around, especially in small towns (which is really all WV has), and see all of the stereotypical things that people associate with our state.  As a lifelong resident, I find myself frustrated at times with the small town mentality, the fear of the unknown, and the unwillingness to change.  I lament the poor school systems, and even sometimes wish I could live somewhere else–anywhere else, where the people weren’t so backward and trapped in the past.

And so I forgot.

I forgot that any state is basically just geography, just a place, the boundaries of which were drawn out politically a hundred or so years ago.  The boundaries and shape of a state don’t define its personality any more than a simple snapshot of your face can define your personality.  A state–this state–is defined by the people who live in it.  We, like all humans, have our flaws.  We may be backward and fearful of change.  We may stick obstinately to our small town ways, even in the face of these global times.  Yes, we do have a drug problem here that has arguably reached epidemic status.  We are hicks, and some of us are rednecks, and we may sound funny to you when we speak, and yes, we are hillbillies.

But we are strong.

Like everyone else, along with our faults come an array of qualities that shame the rest of the world.  Over these past few days, I have seen people rally together in a way that I never even knew was possible.  Shelters were set up and donations were pouring in before some people had even been rescued from their homes.  People have taken in complete strangers right into their homes.  We are a poor state, and I know some of the people who have given had little to give, but donations have literally rolled into all of the shelters and staging points.

The National Guard is here, but they can’t keep up with us.

In the midst of this disaster, I am reminded of what this state, at its heart, truly is.  It’s people who take up for each other, and help their neighbor, and give of themselves, even when they have little to give.  The heart of a Mountaineer is as large as the mountains we call home. Some of the people who have been on tv have had some missing teeth, and horrible grammar, and maybe they didn’t really look like the type of person you would associate with a “good” person, but that’s just what they are.  This has reminded me that people are not defined by how they sound or how they look, but rather by their actions.  And the actions of my neighbors over the past few days have served to remind me that it’s okay to be who I am, and it’s okay to be from where I’m from.  It’s okay to be a hillbilly.

In fact, it’s freaking awesome.

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#hillbillystrong

 


 

 

Voluntary Madness

As I sit here in my faithful, if slightly sagging recliner tonight, I am, for the moment, without my husband.

Where is he? At the bar? Working third shift? Coon hunting?

Nope.

He’s currently at the scene of two-car MVA.  That’s motor vehicle accident to the uninitiated.

My husband is part of our local volunteer fire department.  He, and his brothers and sisters, were all just sitting at home a few minutes ago, some probably in bed, when that shrill sound ripped through the evening.  The volunteer firefighter’s pager–a cold, unfeeling thing that dictates much of our lives.

As a teenager, I sometimes held volunteer firefighters in disdain.  Now, as VFF wife, I sometimes catch little snide comment and rolled eyes from people.  I know what they are thinking.  They have envisioned the Barney Fife types who just like strutting around with their pagers and giving people orders.  I guess there are some of those out there, just as there are always bad apples in every basket.

But what I have found is that these are hard-working, courageous men and women who voluntarily give up time away from their families to help others.

My husband spent days away from home while he was getting his certification.  He got further trained to drive the engines, because he is a naturally talented big truck driver.  He trains every Monday evening with his Station.   Mostly, though, he is always ready to literally run out the door and to the rescue of people in need.  It might be late in evening, like now, or it might be one or two in the morning.  Sometimes he’s back in an hour–sometimes not for five or six.

Sometimes he has to comfort people who are afraid, and hurt, and maybe even dying, all while acting as though he himself is not afraid.

He has been “toned out” during cookouts, birthday parties, holidays and family gatherings. He has missed his dinner and eaten a bowl of cereal, or maybe nothing at all because he was too exhausted to eat.

He has made lifelong friends, and so have I.  He has had struggles and frustrations and some scary situations, which he always downplays to me because he knows I worry.  He trusts his brothers and sisters with his life, and holds their lives in his hands.

So, take a minute to be thankful that there are men and women out there like my husband, who don’t do what they do because they are getting paid, or getting glory, or really even getting any recognition at all.  It’s easy to dismiss a volunteer firefighter because he’s the same guy you see mowing his lawn every week, or shopping in Walmart.  But make no mistake–he’s a hero.

And this one here, he’s mine.

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