Bah Bah Black Sheep (I Can’t Find the Asterisk)

I don’t think it’s fair to refer to myself as a black sheep.  I mean, sure, I seldom fit in any group.  Okay, so I almost never agree with popular public opinion.  And fine, my family usually looks at me with something like mystified disbelief when we talk about relevant current affairs.

Maybe I am a black sheep.

In case you’ve been under a rock or in a coma for the past couple of weeks, the issue that is lighting up our [sarcasm alert] “fair and balanced” news media is the current immigration policy.  Our little twerp….er…..I mean, our Attorney General Jeff Sessions has implemented a new policy which takes the children of families seeking refuge and asylum at our boarders.  They are sending the adults to detention to go through the alleged due process (in courts that are backlogged beyond comprehension) and keeping the children to be detained “in the system.” So far this system consists of a completely overwhelmed group of people trying to sort through thousands of frightened children.  There is no apparent oversight of this process, no guarantee of sponsors or placement, and no clear way for the families to find out what happened to their children once their “due process” has taken place.

In a word, it’s chaos.

This policy (NOT a law, by the way) was implemented by Sessions and the current administration.  No policies from past administrations detailed a process for separating the children from their families.  Look it up.  I’m not doing the research for you.  I’ll wait.

Well?

This is a power play by the Trump administration to show a crack down on illegals, and to gain more support for his wall.  This is the “hardass” stance on illegal immigration.

And it’s wrong.

Tearing apart families who are already trying to flee from regimes that are, in fact, tearing families apart, is a shameful outrage.  If they need to go through due process, fine.  But keep them together.  Don’t make children the pawns in a sick game to prove who is right.  That’s what happening here.

In the meantime, all of us are arguing about who is right, but what is happening to these kids?  What will happen to them? It’s time to forget about who is right and start doing what is right.

And on that note, the twerp…..er…..Mr. Sessions busted out his eye glasses and bible to shame us all into blindly following him.  What he quoted was the book of Romans, which are Saint Paul’s letters to the Romans, Chapter 13.  However, he only reads the beginning of the chapter, about doing what is right by law, and furthermore, that is described as a law that is subordinate to God. (That in and of itself is a whole other debatable issue.) It also says to pay taxes when they are due, to give honor to whom it due, and respect to whom it is due. Sessions said this is our guide to be subordinate to our government.

However, if you study Saint Paul, you know he was imprisoned a number of times.  Clearly he didn’t believe in following just anything his government told him.  He used his knowledge of Christ’s teachings to guide him in the discernment of just and unjust laws. He obviously had no problem disobeying what he deemed as an unjust law.

Furthermore, just a few verses on in the same chapter, get a load of this: “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet, and whatever other commandments there may be, are summed up in this saying, [namely] “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Since everybody got all “biblical” during this argument, here is another for you.  Jesus himself said this one, in the 13th Chapter of John.  “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” [emphasis mine.]

Now, granted, this came from my Catholic Bible, but go ahead and look it up in the King James Version.  I think you will find the message little changed.

I searched and searched for the fine print.  You know, where Jesus might have really only been talking about people who agreed with him politically, or people who looked like him physically, or maybe people who shared his views on fashion.  However, I couldn’t find the asterisk and I couldn’t find the fine print where there were exceptions to what he said.

I think it boils down to the fact that we’ve lost our compassion.  We’ve lost our courage to speak out when someone is doing something wrong, even if it’s someone we tend to agree with.  We’ve forgotten we have our own minds, and if we don’t fit into any political group, so what?

I’ve given up on ever fitting in.  When I say I’m pro-life, that’s just what I mean.  I believe we are obligated to defend those who cannot defend themselves, such as unborn babies, the elderly, and yes, these poor people seeking asylum in our great country. I see these all as related.  I think we are not qualified to decide who lives or dies.  I think we can only offer comfort and compassion to the best of our ability.

I also think that wool is itchy, but, black is my color, so at least there’s that.


 

 

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.

 


 

(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!

 

 

 

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.

 

 


 

 

 

 

(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

 


 

 

Spoiled (not so) Rotten

You have to be careful when you are talking about other people’s rotten kids.

Even to define what it means to have a “good” kid or a “bad” kid can be tricky.  It’s broad terminology.

Regardless, I couldn’t help but ponder a comment I heard about an obviously “bad” kid who had grown into a bad man.  The comment was that his grandparents had raised him and they had “always bought him anything he wanted.”

There was tons of heavy implication within this comment, laid on with a skill that only the elderly Southern lady possesses.  I, being skilled in interpreting this clandestine dialect, understood what was really being said.  The boy had been “spoiled” by his grandparents and so had turned out to be no good as an adult.

This got me thinking.  Does buying too many things for our children turn them into bad people?  I have always seen the clichéd images of the over-indulged child throughout my life.  The greatest and most recent, of course, being Dudley Dursley.  This is archetype of the “bad” child.  He has too much of everything.  He is bought too much, fed too much, simply given too much. As a result, he (or she) is spoiled.

I’ll be honest.  This comment hit me on a personal level.

I have always been guilty of overbuying.  I’ve never mortgaged my house to buy my kids something, but if it was in the budget and there was something cool they wanted, or even something cool I thought they might like to have, I probably got it for them.

I love technology and gadgets, so we always have the latest iPhones and iPads.  The Boy likes Nike shoes, and I got him a pair.  I guess I just never really thought of it as a big deal.

Now, The Boy is 16.  He got his first job this summer and is working hard.  He does very well in school.  So, we got him a car.  It’s cheap, it’s small, and it’s not at the top of anyone’s dream car list, but it is new, it gets great gas mileage, and it is his.

So I ask, have we been doing things wrong?

If I go by what society (and some family members) tell me, then we have spoiled children.  But the funny thing is, they don’t act like spoiled children.

Obviously, my daughter doesn’t really fit into a simple mold, be it spoiled or not spoiled or anything else, but my son is pretty much a typical 16-year-old boy.  However, I happen to think he is an exceptional 16-year-old boy.

He is compassionate and kind.  Little kids are drawn to him like moths to a flame.  He pretends like this annoys him, but I know he loves them and it brings him joy.  He is one of the most generous people I have ever met.  I honestly don’t think he has a selfish bone in his body. He works hard and is so smart.

I don’t think it is what we buy our kids that makes them who they are.  I think it is what we teach them.  You could buy them things and they could be little brats.  However, you could also buy them things but still demand that they treat people with respect, and do their chores, and behave a certain way.

Ultimately, it really isn’t anyone’s business what you do or don’t buy for your kids.  I think we are all probably guilty of overbuying, especially in this modern age of “stuff.”  But the responsibility of raising respectful, responsible children remains the same.

It seems to me blaming the “stuff” is taking the easy way out.  It’s easy to blame something superficial like “spoiled” rather than say, “his grandmother let him speak disrespectfully to her all of the time” or “he was never responsible for anything around the house.”

So yes, I think you can spoil your children.  But I think you spoil them not by giving them too many material things, but by not giving them enough of what we all need to be decent adults:  discipline.

What do you think?

An Open Letter to Teens

Dear Teens:

You don’t know shit.

Oh, I know, I know.  You think you know everything. I am (not so) sorry to be the one to tell you that, in fact, as I said, you don’t know shit.

Also, no one in this world owes you anything.  Did you get that? NOT. ONE. THING. If you want things, buy them.  That requires money, which requires a job, which generally requires some sort of skill set, along with basic personal hygiene.  Some of you seem to be struggling with this.

It’s all pretty basic.  Take a bath.  Brush your teeth.  Make eye contact when people talk to you.  And, God help us all, smile.  

Here is another pointer for you–learn English.  Like, for real.  I’m not trying to be mean, but you kind of sound like morons.  You can’t spell, you can’t speak, and to be frank, you’re making us look bad in front of the whole world.  Try not to add “uh” to the end of every word, especially if you are doing so in a particularly annoying, whiny voice.  Examples: stop-uh, don’t-uh, look-uh, what-uh. (For those of you struggling to understand, just draw those words out.  Come on now, draw them out niiiiiicccceeee and loooooonnnggg and force the sound through your nose and then tack that “uh” at the end. Got it?)

Lastly, get over yourselves.  Look around.  This may come as a shock to you, but there are other people in the world besides yourselves. Who knew, right? Take a moment to realize that your words and actions might have some effect on someone other than you.

I give you these words in love, because I don’t want to see you make the same mistakes I made as a selfish, stupid teenager.  I want you to realize that there are certain decisions you only get one chance to make. I want you to look around an appreciate the value of the other people in your life.  Some day they might not be there.  And they love you.

We all love you.

P.S. You still don’t know shit, though.

P.P.S. The duck face and the kissy face in every picture look absolutely ridiculous.  Really.  I mean, people are making fun of your behind your back.  It’s that bad.  Stop.  Please.


 

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