Fun Subjects: Rape, Incest, and The Master Race (The Culture of Death, Part 2)

Warning: Foul Language Ahead

Any time you talk to anyone about abortion, unless they are one of those soul-less “free abortions for everyone!” people, you will always come back around to this pro choice question:

“What about in cases of rape and incest?”

This is a valid question.  There are no easy answers.  Both rape and incest are unimaginable crimes, arguably the worst things that can happen to a woman (or child.) Imagine getting pregnant from such a violent act.  It is almost unthinkable.

What I don’t understand is how an act of murder somehow makes this unthinkable crime more tolerable.

I’ve never been raped, or been the victim of incest.  I haven’t walked in those shoes, so all of my opinions are based on suppositions, and on what my conscience and common sense tell me. If a child is conceived in rape, or incest, that is a horrible thing.  But it isn’t that baby’s fault. It’s almost like the pro choice people are somehow suggesting that by ridding the victim of the baby, the act can somehow be forgotten, or lessened.  How is that possible?

On an even darker end of the spectrum, pro choice advocates love to use the rape and incest argument to push a pro choice agenda, when in fact these abortions make up less than 1% of the abortions that happen in this country every year.  If that isn’t exploitation of a victim, I don’t know what is.

People have asked me, what if your daughter (who is severely disabled) were molested and became pregnant? My answer to that is I would be distraught.  I cannot predict what my husband would do.  I’m sure it would make the world news.  I can tell you this: that hypothetical child in my daughters womb is half of my daughter, and my heart will not let me destroy that.

That takes me along to a different subject. This is where the foul language comes in.

Over the past few months, imbedded in the abortion debate, I have seen some discussion about disabled kids, sometimes referred to as “profoundly” disabled children.  I’ve seen discussion about what a burden these kids are on their families when they aren’t cute little kids any more.  You know, when they get heavy and not as cute and they still need diapers and all that.  When society isn’t as anxious to parade them across TV.

A good example of this is Iceland.  They have almost no babies born with Down Syndrome! Amazing! They’ve found a prevention for Down Syndrome!

Wrong! They just abort the babies that have it! So, in short, it’s like the Nazi’s declaring, “Hey! No Jews live in Germany!”

No shit.

When I was pregnant with Evelyn, we had to go see a “specialist.” She was causing all kinds of problems in my womb–not moving enough, not processing the amniotic fluid like she was supposed to, you name it–and we had to have a more intensive ultrasound (this was before the whole 4D ultrasound thing) and have an amniocentesis. Early in my pregnancy, I had elected not to have an AVP screen, which supposedly can warn you that your child has Down Syndrome or some other horrifying disability.

Long story short, the specialist scolded me for not having this test.  If the test comes up positive, they recommend further testing, aka amniocentesis, to provide a more exact diagnosis. Fine. But what he said next shifted my entire world right on its axis.  He said, “no one is obligated to raise a child with a profound disability.”

Isn’t it a shame how you can never think of the right comeback when you are right there in that moment? It always hits you later.  What I did at that moment was stare at him blankly and try to put my brain and my heart back in their respective positions.

What I wish I would have said is, “Yes, you fucking prick, we are obligated to raise and love and care for whatever child is born to us!”

We’ve reached a place where we can abort because it’s a girl or a boy when we wanted the other.  Or maybe we can keep those pesky Down Syndrome babies from sullying the general statistics of our extremely white, extremely blond population.

Guess what else? Now old people are on the chopping block.  Oh, and very very sick people.  Are they a burden? Let’s convince them that they are better off dead, that they deserve to “die with dignity,” and then rid ourselves of the inconvenience they pose to us.

It’s sickening.  It’s heart breaking and soul crushing.  And it’s perfectly acceptable. In fact, it’s more acceptable to defend “a woman’s rights” than to defend human life. As I’ve said before, if you are against abortion, you hate women.  You don’t think woman should have healthcare or rights.  It’s all very cleverly worded by some deeply sick individuals, and a large population has swallowed it, hook, line, and sinker.

I don’t hate women.  I don’t think victims of rape or incest should be cast aside.  It isn’t mutually exclusive–quite the opposite.  Compassion and love should extend to all.  Why can’t we see that?

Why?


 

 

 

Welcome to the Culture of Death (no guns allowed)

One of the reasons I’ve stepped away from my blogging a little is because the political climate over the last two years has been, well, exhausting.

In trying to deal with my increasing anxiety and a possible excessive use of alcohol to calm my nerves, I’ve cut myself off from people quite a bit.  Let’s be honest: social interactions are hard.  You can’t talk to anyone without eventually coming upon some subject that is unpleasant to talk about and causes people to argue.  I had reached the point where I was literally too emotionally exhausted to have these arguments with people.  Have you ever convinced someone to see things your way by arguing with them? Well? Have you?  I’ll wait while you think about it.

[insert Jeopardy music]

I’m going to make an assumption here that none of you (and certainly not me) have ever changed someone’s point of view by arguing with them.

Then, of course, there’s an entirely different population of people who it is almost physically painful to argue with. (I’m looking at you, anti-vaxers.)

If all of your arguing was done with stupid people, I think we’d all be a lot happier.  However, that isn’t the case.  There are highly intelligent, compassionate people out there in the world who completely have their head up their collective ass.  You might think this statement suggests that I think everything I believe is right and everyone who disagrees with me is wrong.

Of course that’s what I believe.  Duh.

Anyway, I said all that to preface the fact that I’ve basically sat on my hands for long enough.  Some things are worthy of argument, and if human life isn’t one of those things, then I don’t know what is.

 

After any mass shooting event, a gun debate breaks out.  This is irrationally fueled from both sides of the fence.  Some want all guns banned; others are preparing for the government to knock down their doors and disarm them. (Outta my cold dead hands, right?) It’s a passionate debate. Our natural response to any sort of tragedy, especially when it involves children, is to find someone, or some thing, to blame. Video games, Marilyn Manson music, violent movies, and of course, guns.

No one ever, ever, looks beyond direct causation.  That shooter played violent video games and so they acted out what they saw. Or Marilyn Manson told them to do it. No one wants to talk about the fact that the last couple of generations in this country have been raised, since the day they born, in a culture that minimizes the value of human life.

There’s a whole other blog post involved in talking about accountability and responsibility, and how feminism has kindly removed any and all of both of those things from the shoulders of the males involved in the whole procreation process, but I won’t get into that now.  I won’t talk about how we are all so wrapped up in how we feel, let’s talk about how we feel, that we can’t focus on anything except how something makes us feel. It’s all about us, it’s all about me, me, ME.

Like I said, I’m not going to talk about that, except to reference the fact that most of the people alive in this country today have no idea, and certainly they don’t care, how anyone else may feel, or what the consequences of our actions may be.  If someone makes us feel bad, well, we can just shoot them.  We can kill them, and then the media, social and otherwise, can explode with how guns should be banned and mental health needs to be addressed.

I’ll give you that one.  Mental health does need to be addressed, but not just for the kid who shoots up his high school.  We all need to step back and take a look at our priorities.

If you don’t know where I’ve been going with this, then I’m sorry.  We’ve arrived.

The value of human life in this country is approximately (and I’m just guessing here) dick. Abortion on demand–that’s what they want.  If you are pro life, you must be a conservative Christian who thinks woman shouldn’t vote.  You hate women.  You are waging a war on women.

Let me be clear.  The only war I see going on is the war against the unborn babies in this country, and around the world. We don’t eat meat, we hate guns, but having an abortion is just okey dokey.  If you are against abortion, you are against women.

It’s not that you value life or anything.  It’s not that you see the wholesale elective destruction of human life as a bad thing.  It’s that you hate women. It’s that you want to tell women what to do.  It’s that you want to be in a woman’s uterus, and take her rights away.

You cannot expect teenagers, or anyone, to feel guilty about the taking of a human life, when half the country thinks it’s a matter of convenience.  You may think these things are unrelated, but you’d be wrong.

This post has run on long enough.  I’ll take a rest, but I’ll be back. This subject is far too vast, and too important, to be wrapped into a thousand words or less. We’ve spent too much time making abortion a political issue.  Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, none of these words have anything to do with abortion, although our society would like to convince you differently.  At some point, our own moral conscience, and in fact, our common sense, simply must come into play.

If not, the death will continue, with or without guns.

 


 

Doggy Destiny

I thought some of my dedicated and loyal fans (hi mom!) might be interested in learning about how we ended up where are right now.

Last February, I took my entire crew to our state capitol to participate in a medical marijuana rally. Obviously, there were tons of like-minded people there to talk to.  One, however, stood out among the others.

She was a lovely young lady, with long curly hair and a fashionable red coat.  In addition, she had at her side a large black dog.  The large black dog was wearing a harness.  Attached to the harness was a patch that said, “Seizure Alert Dog.”

Wait, what?

I had to talk to that lady.  Forget social awkwardness.  I had to talk to her.

As it turned out, this fashionable, curly headed lady had, in fact, trained her own service dog. I took her information, which she gave me gladly even though I was some awkward, Pink Floyd tee shirt wearing weirdo who more or less cornered her and bombarded her with questions. I  stayed in contact with her (Francie, as it turns out) and we talked about dogs and seizures and dogs who predict seizures.

Francie hadn’t just trained this large black German Shepherd named Segen, she had trained most of her own service dogs through the years.  More than that–she had trained service dogs for other people, and did it on her own dime.

To say I was fascinated is an understatement.

 

This is Francie’s doggy soul mate, Segen. To know him is to love him.  He changed Francie’s life, and as a result, changed mine as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We stayed in touch, and one day I received the following message: “I think I found you a dog.”

And so she did.

I won’t give you long version, although I tend to do that.  Instead, I will tell you that she found us a dog that she knew in her heart would be a good fit for us.  That’s what she does–she follows her gut and her heart, and she finds dogs for people who are having trouble with traditional service agencies. She has worked with dogs all of her life, and I consider her instinct to be infallible.  I didn’t know it when I first met her, but it did not take me long to figure it out.

I have been training Dutch, the pup she found for us last year.  He is shaping up to be an amazing dog, and has already shown proficiency for responding to Evelyn’s seizures.

See, Francie is extra special.  She doesn’t just help you, she helps you help yourself.  Teach a man to fish, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. In training Dutch, and in being in contact with Francie, I got to be there with her when she finally gave a name to the wonderful thing she was doing for people.

K9s to Furkids was born.

Now, I am volunteering for Francie.  I’m her secretary.  I’m learning about dog behavior and training. Mostly, though, I’ve given my own life so much purpose, and filled my own heart more than I ever thought I could. I am helping Francie find these dogs and even, on a limited basis and under her guidance, doing some of the training.

I’m meeting wonderful people and doing something to help people.  I’m paying it forward, and trying to help others the way that Francie helped me.

I think there’s a lesson to be learned here.  If a socially awkward wallflower like me, the chubby girl hiding behind others in a black tee shirt and jeans, can go up to a beautiful, smart, fashionable woman walking a large black dog and start a conversation, then so can you.  You never know what the result might be.

Ask the question.  Take the leap. You never know where it might take you.

It might lead you right to the dogs!

If you are interested in what we do, or know of someone who might be in need of a service dog, check out our website!

K9s To Furkids: We All Survive on Second Chances

We are also on Facebook!

 

(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!


 

 

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!

 

 

 

(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

 


 

 

Roman (Catholic) Mythology

Easter of 2013 was a big occasion for me.  I was confirmed into the Roman Catholic Church.

Interesting for a girl who was raised by a Baptist minister, right?

I won’t use this post to go into what lead me home to Holy Mother Church.  What has troubled me nearly every day since my confirmation is how the Church is perceived in our society.

If you live in New York or Boston, or any fair-sized city, I guess, this may mean nothing to you.  However, when you live “in the country,” as I do and always have, Protestantism, in one form or another, is pretty much the only religion you know. When you say the word “Catholic,” you can almost watch as the misconceptions about the Church roll across people’s minds.

So, rather than get into a theological debate about the finer points of Catholicism, which I am NOT qualified to do, I want to share with you some of the things I have heard about the Church, and how I know they are not true because of my own personal experience. Here we go:

1. The Catholic Church worships Mary.

The short answer to this, of course, is no, we don’t.  Stick with me on this “worshiping something besides God” thing, because it seems to be a recurring theme.  The most important thing I can say about this accusation is that Catholics worship one God, and only one God.  Further, we believe in God as three persons–the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Since we also believe in and follow the Ten Commandments, the first of which is not to worship anyone but God (I’m paraphrasing), to worship Mary (or the Pope, or a saint) would be a mortal sin and a heresy, and as such, would endanger our souls to Hell.  So we don’t take this lightly.

However, that is not to say that we do not love our Mother.  She is the Mother of God, and, as such, we honor her with highest honor.  She was the first Christian.  She is a model of how a Christian should behave.  Since another Commandment tells us to honor our parents, we feel pretty sure the Mother of God is worthy of honor.  And yes, we invoke her intercession in our prayers.  More on that later.

2.  Catholics aren’t Christians.

In simplest terms, Christians are followers of Christ as the true Son of God, and as part of the Holy Trinity.  That is exactly what Catholics believe, and so, yes, we are Christians.

3. Catholics worship The Pope

Please see number 1.  We don’t worship our Holy Father.  We do not think he is divine.

We do, however, acknowledge him as the Earthly leader of our Church.  He is the number one Catholic.  Have there been corrupt popes?  You’d better believe it.  Peter himself, the first head of the Church, denied even knowing Christ.  History buffs could tell you all kinds of shenanigans popes have been up to.  Here’s the thing–the Pope is, after all, only a human.  He is placed at the head of a Church that is also made up of–you guessed it–humans.  In his own actions, he is not infallible.  However, we do believe that in Church doctrine he is infallible.  His being the head of our Church is no different that your pastor being the head of yours.  And so what if we all get very excited to see him? Good grief, we live in a society that does nearly worship celebrities! Consider William and Kate, and Brangelina.  Don’t even get me started on how people acted towards The Beatles and Elvis.  And we can’t jump up and down and cry when we see our Holy Father? Baloney.

4. Catholics pray to Saints/Statues/Pictures/Other Graven Images

Wow, this really is a recurring theme, isn’t it?

Anyway, again, see number 1.  We don’t worship anyone but God.

Do we pray to Saints? Yes we do.  But not in the way you think.  The way we talk to the saints is the same way you talk to your brothers and sisters in Christ here on Earth.  Heck, you probably ask someone to pray for you almost every day, don’t you? Why? Well, when we call upon the saints, we are asking for them to pray for us.  These are holy people and why shouldn’t we believe that they can hear our prayers and pray for us? All of us need all the help we can get.

Do we love pictures of saints and statues and all of that good stuff? You bet.  Let me ask you this–do you keep pictures of a dearly departed loved one? Why do you do that? Do you keep mementos from trips and vacations and baby clothes and locks of hair and who knows what else? I’m sure all of those things are perfectly acceptable to you.  Why wouldn’t they be.  So, why can’t I, as a Catholic, have a painting of a saint whose life speaks particularly to me? Why can’t I have a picture of The Blessed Mother to remind me that she understands what a mother’s suffering for her child truly is? These things are mementos, and reminders, of people who Catholics love.  It has nothing to do with worship.

5. Catholics think a priest can take away their sins.

This one seems more complicated on the surface, but it really isn’t.  No, we do NOT believe a priest can take away our sins.  God’s mercy takes away our sins.  However, for that to happen, Catholics do believe you need to confess those sins, and yes, you confess to a priest.  The priest is acting en persona Christi, which means in the place of Christ, there in the confessional.  And yes, the priests prays the prayer of absolution over you, but let me tell you, it is Christ who is there in that confessional, and it is Him who absolves you of your sins.  The priest is basically your tour guide through the most wonderful experience you can have as a member of the Catholic Church.

6. All that bowing/crossing yourself/incense, etc., is just weird. 

If you’re not a Catholic, I’m sure seeing what goes on in an actual Mass would be very intimidating to most.  All of the bowing and kneeling may seem strange, and to some, even sacrilegious. Let me tell you, I’ve been to a lot of church services in my life, and I have never felt more in the presence of God than I do during Mass.  We bow and kneel because we believe the Body and Blood of Christ are on that altar.  Speaking things in unison causes everyone to participate in Mass together.  You are doing something, not just sitting there.  You are practicing your faith. It is revered as a holy and sacred time and place.  Shouldn’t the worship of God be treated with such reverence?

 

I’m going to stop for now.  I’ll leave you with this:

I’m not trying to make everyone become Catholic (although if you want to, good on you!) What I’m trying to do is make people realize that Christians are cutting their own throats by quarreling among themselves.  It’s about time we let go of misconceptions and outright lies and just remember that we are all called to follow Christ’s example.

Can’t we all just get along?

 

Tear Jerkers (Sorry, Mr. Sparks)

I just watched a video which listed the biggest tear-jerker movies of all time.

I think movies based on Nicholas Sparks books made the list at least three times.  Maybe more.  I sort of lost interest about half way through.

We just can’t get enough of the sappy, drippy, romantic tragedies, can we? What is it? Maybe it’s the idea that love transcends tragedy, and exists even in spite of cancer and death and dementia.

Now, before any of you Sparks fans out there start planning my painful death, let me assure you, I think Mr. Sparks is a talented man. He knows how to tug on the heart strings.

But there are some of us (or at least me) who believe a real tear-jerker movie isn’t just sap from front to back and top to bottom.  It’s a movie that gets you.  It breaks your heart. And then someone gets stabbed in the eye with a sword.

Anyway, here are my nominations for the greatest tear-jerker movies of all time:

  • Last of the Mohicans. This  movie kills me.  Kills me.  It is a very violent movie at times, but it is also a wonderful story based on the book by James Fenimore Cooper.  The acting is top notch (we are talking about Daniel Day Lewis, after all) and there are true edge-of-your-seat moments.  It really hits the mark, though, because there are whole scenes with absolutely no dialogue. Guess what?  These are the scenes that are the most powerful and, yes, tear jerking.  Whole planets of emotion are shared between the characters with just eye contact, and of course the heart rending music in the background.
  • Cast Away. I bet you think I’m going to tell you I cried the most near the end, when Tom Hanks is getting ready to drive away and Helen Hunt comes running down the driveway in the rain (of course.) WRONG! Although that is a highly charged moment, the part of the movie that will crush you is when Tom Hanks loses his best friend.  That’s right–Wilson, the volleyball.  Wilson is tied onto the life raft, and he comes loose and starts drifting away before Tom realizes it, and then gets too far out of reach to be recovered.  Then we get to see Tom Hanks sobbing his heart out over a volleyball, and I sob right along with him.  Because it’s not really just Wilson he’s crying over, you know?  He’s crying because, well, everything. And that breaks your heart.
  • The Patriot. I can’t pinpoint one moment in this film, because it is brutal.  Let me just say, don’t get attached to too many characters in this film, because they drop like flies.  I will say the scene where Mel Gibson is leaving and his little girl runs after him and speaks to him for the first time in forever is over-the-top ugly-cry material.
  • Forrest Gump. You knew this one had to make the list, right?  Tom Hanks is brilliant, and this movie is all the proof needed to back up that statement.  How many times do I cry during this movie?  The Lord might know–I don’t.  Bubba dies, Lieutenant Dan has his “what am I gonna do now” moment, Momma dies, and let’s not forget when Forrest sees his son and wants to know if he is like him.  Then Jenny dies, and if you had any heart left, it gets destroyed by the whole “I miss you, Jenny” thing.
  • Braveheart.  I have never cried over any movie as  much as I cry over this one.  It would take a book to list all the tear-jerking scenes in this movie.  This movie uses the “no dialogue” technique, too.  When Murron is killed, and Mel Gibson leans over her right before they are going to bury her, he breathes in her scent like he did when she was still alive, and it’s almost too much to watch.  Then right before he dies, he sees Murron in the crowd walking toward him, and the music changes, and, and…..excuse me a minute, okay?

Okay, I’m better.  Sorry, but that one gets me every time.

So, what makes your list?  What movie rips out your heart?  And don’t worry if it is a Nicholas Sparks film.  I will only make fun of you a little.

 

The (not so) Skinny

I’m fat.

I’ve always heard that the first step in dealing with a problem is admitting you have one, so there you go.  I said it.  I’m fat.  Obese.  Portly.  Robust.  Chubby.  Rotund.  Chunky. Round. Not thin.

You get the picture.

I’ve never been what one would call a “skinny” person.  Certainly I’ve never fit into the modern ideal of how a woman should look.  I have always had a comfortable, pack mule type build.  Short, strong, and dependable.  Not ideal, but useful.

At any rate, the pack mule has been packing on the pounds.  It’s depressing.  The simple fact is, my metabolism has become my enemy.  The things I used to be able to get away with now seemingly add pounds and inches almost instantaneously.  I can eat an order of fries, and if I’m very quiet, I can actually hear the fat cell orgy that is going on in my thighs.  Those little suckers multiply by the thousands, by the millions, and they are nearly impossible to kill.

Not that I’ve tried all that hard.

The truth is, I never worked up enough care to do much about my physical appearance.  The years go by, you get a little older, a little slower, and a little squishy around the middle.  That’s life, right?  For me, though, the years have gone by, and the fat has sneakily appeared. At first, I thought the changing temperature and humidity in my closet was causing my clothing to shrink.  Then I noticed only my clothes were shrinking.  Huh.  I had to buy a bigger size, then a bigger one, until I have now finally reached the point where, if I don’t do something, I’ll just have to convert a king size sheet into a toga and wear that.

That’s not the worst part.

The worst part is that I also recently got a lecture from my doctor about a bunch of scary terms like “HDL” and “LDL” and “blood pressure” and God knows what else.  I finally had to take action.

So I went to McDonald’s.

Ha ha, just kidding.  What I really did was join a gym.  Really.  I also gave up sweets, soda, and, horror of horrors, smoking.  So, in short, my life sucks now. Ha ha! Another joke! See how humorous I’m feeling?

Britney Spears crying

I’ve never been a member of a gym before. It’s hard to pretend you know what you are doing when, in fact, you are trying to use your legs for the chest press.  Anyway, the treadmill seemed like a safe option, so that’s where I spend a lot of my gym time.  Treadmill time is sssslllloooooooowwww time, so I have a lot of time to reflect, while trying to pretend like I’m not about ready to drop dead from a heart attack.

That’s really the biggest challenge to the whole gym thing, isn’t it?  Pretending we are already in shape? Obviously, I am at the gym because the only shape I’m in is round, but why is everyone there smaller and in better shape than me?!  They run on the treadmill.  They toss free weights around as though they (the weights) were made of paper mache.  And over here I am, praying to God I don’t have some sort of bowel-related incident while trying to leg lift 25 pounds.

It’s hard not to be discouraged.

Also, I think about food a lot.  Like, a lot.  Our entire culture pretty much revolves around food.  Did you ever notice?  Every family gathering, from weddings to funerals and everything in between, is somehow focused on food.  I’m not talking about health food either.  When was the last time you took tofu and watercress to a family reunion?  In addition to constantly having food, the amount we eat is ridiculous.  We aren’t satisfied until we have eaten enough food to test the limits of the most forgiving elastic waistband.  We may actually reach a point where we have eaten so much food we are no longer able to hold ourselves in a vertical position, but we would ask, from the floor where are laying, what’s for dessert.

So, I’m missing food, and I’m exercising.  I’m also trying to do things to keep my mind and hands busy, such as work on this blog faithfully again.  But for now I’m going to take a break.

I’m hungry.

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