In God We Trust

Okay guys, stop going to court over the word God. GOD GOD GOD GOD. There I said it.

I find it saddening to hear how many people try so hard to remove God from every. little. thing.

“In God We Trust”

“One nation under God”

God in school, God in the workplace, God in the world.

The truth is, there is no way to make everyone happy. I got in trouble in junior high for praying before my football game: no other cheerleaders prayed with me and I did so silently to myself. I got in trouble because the person in the stands did not “want her child exposed to that kind of behavior and was tired of Christians forcing their religion onto her.” I didn’t say anything, but it didn’t stop me from praying in public. I am not forcing my religion on anyone if I am quietly praying to myself.

Side comment: I do not force my religion on other people and many Christians don’t. If I am around someone new and mention God, my religion, or praying for them, and they inform me (hopefully politely) that they are not religious and are more comfortable with not talking about it then I respect them and their wishes. Everyone is different and that includes when it comes to religion and I respect and honor that – if I was in their position I would want someone to do the same for me. I will do what I am called to do – love them no matter what.

The pledge, the money, the little things here and there are part of our history and our beginnings. It is not there to offend, or to “force” religion, it is there to symbolize our beginnings as a country and that is something to be honored and respected – it is traditional.

I think that there are so many other battles to battle. Religion is a right, the lack of religion is right, believing and having faith is a right, choosing not to believe is a right – that is that. We should be fighting sex trafficking, terrorism, racism, public education quality, health care quality and health care expenses, college expenses, the minimum wage battle, poverty, THE WORLD/NATURE (you know, the place we live in but keep destroying), the rise in suicides/depression/anxiety and a number of other illnesses that are not understood by a handful of society, medical research, the fight for women to have equal pay, the fight for women to breast feed in public and not feel ashamed, the right for women to have paid parental leave, and this list could go on. Don’t get me wrong, I will always fight for my right to religion. I will fight for me to be able to believe in God, and say Jesus, and pray in public. God’s Not Dead 1 and 2, and the next installment which will come out are great examples of ways Christians have to fight for their right to believe because we are having to fight for it. But I am not going to give up on the other battles that need people to fight for them and maybe more people will turn to fight those battles too. We may not all agree on religion but we could agree that sex trafficking is wrong, or that racial division is still present and harmful, or that people should all have the opportunity to good healthcare and so on.

My point is – why are we spending so much time in a battle for and against religion when the right to or to not believe is just that – a basic right. Whether or not you are religious, the world needs good people doing good things. People who put time and effort into doing good and making the world good whether that be for religious or personal reasons. There is so much we as people have to offer this world. Our diversity and difference can make us that much more effective if we work with each other to do good.

 

Awareness, Acceptance and Appreciation (a post for Autism Awareness Week)

The Left Hand of Ehud: Matt's Bible Blog

cd6d96c6463e1ff83e454e4d15a25080On Saturday I wrote a post for Autism Awareness Day, and ever since then, thoughts about autism, disability, the church and goodness knows what else have been bouncing around my head. It’s like a whack-a-mole game in there sometimes.

One thing that’s been interesting this week has been the way in which Autism Awareness Day/Week/Month is framed in terms of language. Some autistic commentators prefer the use of ‘acceptance’ over ‘awareness’; others find that, on April 2nd, they become a resource for everyone who wants their awareness of autism raising and that becomes exhausting when you find social interaction difficult in the first place.

All that in mind, I’ve been thinking about how this relates to autism and the church, because that’s my hobby horse. And if autism is a spectrum, so is our ecclesiastical response to it.

It starts with awareness, of course, it has to. There has to…

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Episode 1 – The Only Episode That Never Ends

Guys, I went into my towns courthouse for the first time yesterday! It was weird, but just like you see on the movies! I was very intrigued by the whole process. I also hate that it was such a big deal for one simple piece of paper.

I am a law abiding citizen (except for the speed limit, and one lane right/left turns). I have never been pulled over or given a ticket (except for the one that I got from my local university for parking in the wrong spot, but if they would repaint the lines then that would not have happened, but whatever). Anyways, the hearing for my dads estate was yesterday morning. Since he did not write a will, it has been a long process for me to become executive/administrator/whatever over the estate.

Me (court filing person for estate), my mom (witness 1), my aunt (witness 2), my uncle (guest 1) and my brother (guest 2), all entered the dainty, empty room. As we entered I said, “Whoa I have never been in a court room before! This is cool… and odd.” They chuckled. My lawyer informed me I got to sit in the front in the rolly chair next to her – seriously that was cool I felt like I was on a TV show or movie – and then talked me through the process while laying her briefcase and papers everywhere.

We stood for the judge, sat when he commanded us too, the lawyer and attorney general guy did the opening statements with a lot of legal terms I did not understand and then we went on. Most of the questions I got were yes and no questions, I did my turn, then my mom, then my aunt. After the lawyers did an ending statement with some more legal terms that just went right over my head, though I wasn’t completely listening, the judge dismissed us.

The story really isn’t the point I guess, but it was a nifty first experience for me and I just shared that with you (poorly, but I did). Plus it was practically the highlight of my day.

Any who, my dad passed away almost 3 months ago on the 20th of this month. No one would talk to me until I got this piece of paper saying I was administrator/executive over the estate. That means for 3 months I have been waiting and waiting and waiting to go to court for a total of 10 minutes and then get a PIECE OF PAPER, and I filed for a hearing back in early February but my lawyer died and we had to restart the process. Gah, it has been aggravating. Then, I thought, I would be able to take care of everything I needed to for my dad’s estate because I finally have this PIECE OF PAPER.

Nope, wrong again. Everywhere I went I needed more papers, and have to wait for weeks for said papers. Each time I tried to do something they needed another paper and the next place needed another paper but a completely different paper from the previous place. Needless to say I spent my whole afternoon yesterday going from place to place and making a circle around my decently sized town. I also spent the whole afternoon on the phone, and even after all of that I got pretty much nothing accomplished except making a two page to-do list which was originally 3/4 of a page.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but losing someone and trying to take care of their stuff should not be this difficult (and expensive). Stupid government involvement and greedy companies. Can’t people just have time to grieve without having to worry about how they are going to pay for a funeral, and a lawyer, and a CPA, and whoever else? My brother, bless his heart, has had to take out over 7,000 in loans just to pay for everything. Isn’t losing your dad as a 19 year old, or losing your dad in general payment enough?

Seriously, if any of you readers have lost a parent, or loved one, who did not have a will, was it this difficult for you?

 

Perception: Me Versus the World

The other day I was chatting with one of my coworkers, and a family friend of about ten or more years, and he told me, “You are always happy,” and that really got me thinking about how much of a ‘fake front’ I have put up for most of my life. To this day, I have not told my mom, step-dad, or (while he was alive) my dad about my depression and self-harm. Occasionally I get this urge, and a brief moment of warrior-like courage and convince myself I will tell them. But, by golly, if you met my dear mother you would understand why I didn’t tell her. I love her to pieces, but she is not easy to talk to, not easy to talk to at all! I am not close with my step-dad really so that makes sense, and my dad always saw me as his “perfect-happy-little girl” and I would have done everything in my power to let him keep that perception of me – though it was far from the truth.

If you read my testimony (Before and Now) I give a brief explanation of my journey through depression and self harm and how that has brought me to where I am today. I always walk around with a smile on my face, even in the worst of times I still smile for the world. If you ask the majority of my friends and family, they will probably tell you the same thing – I am always happy. Don’t get me wrong, I am (now) generally a happy person. As I delved into my relationship with God more, I found so much to be happy and thankful for and that alone is a mood booster. Even when my dad died earlier this year, aside from the funeral, I only cried and broke down when I was alone. At the lowest and hardest points in my life I focus on making other people happy and then let myself feel my emotions later, alone. I smile, I laugh, I joke like nothing is wrong. This can be a toxic thing – I am working on this and slowly making progress – but at least I have learned to share the weight on my shoulders with God and not do it all alone.

I will always be a person to make other people happy because I have been on the other side of the line. But I spent so many years convincing people that I was happy, that life was grand. It is a lie to agree that I am always happy, and have always been happy, but hey, I did a good job of convincing the world, right? I feel like there is an expectation for me to be “the happy one,” and that makes it harder for me to show a different, truer side of me, when life gets hard.

Now since last year, and more so this year, I am generally a happy person. There are a couple of moments here and there, because life is hard and that’s okay. It is okay to feel sad, hurt, angry, happy, in-between or somewhere in the middle. It is okay to feel bleh. It is okay to feel. It is also okay to let people know how you are feeling, and I am coming to terms with that, since it is a battle with myself. Even this year as I have faced probably the most difficult year of my life, I have put on my happy face for the world (my progress is slow). I figure though, if I can conquer the battle I have with myself, and then conquer the stigma that I am the happy person, then I can overcome that perception I WANT people to have of me and just simply be me.

There is a saying that there are three sides to every person: the first side is the person that people see in public, the second side is the person that you are at home and around your close friends and family, and the third side is the person that you only know and is the side of you that only you (and God) know. I add God into that third part because he knows me better than I know me and in my time when it is just me and him, I am more honest and upfront with myself than I am ever am. I think this is a true expression (at least for me it is).

For me, the first side of me that people see in public is that over-the-top happy and chatty person. I talk to EVERYONE in public and just go around like the world is mine.

The second side of me is a bit mixed – part 1 and part 2. Part 1 is my brother, close friends, and boyfriend who know a bit more about my depression and my true feelings, but they still don’t see the whole picture, they only see what I allow them to see (which still consists of a happy me at almost all times). Part 2 is my whole family, with the exception of my brother, who only know a bit about my true thoughts, feelings, and struggles. They almost only see a happy me, but not to the same degree of the public me.

The third side of me is the complexity that was me, is me, and will be me. The truest part of me that there is and the part that I share with myself and with God. Here I am a mix of light and dark, a person with scars, open wounds, and healed wounds. It is the most intimate and innermost part of me and I don’t dare share that person with the world. I might give a glimpse or two, but not much past that.

I see the same thing in the people around me – the three versions of themselves. Maybe we all do the same thing to a certain degree. Maybe we all have this perception of ourselves that we have created for the world around us to see and we stick to that.

Camp NaNo, Day 5

We are five days in, OH MY GOODNESS! Okay, I have recomposed myself, five days into NaNo. Well…. if I am being honest I am only three days in. I had prior engagements both Friday (day 1) and Saturday (day 2) so my first day of writing was really on Sunday (day 3). But, even with that I am at 4,742 words! Yay! My word count goal is only 25,000 because I do not want to rush my stories, but I am (surprisingly) making progress.. for now.

Story #1 is officially done. Now to move on to story #2, and I am already finding myself at a couple of road blocks. This is the first story where I will be taking a historical event, and creating a fictional story based off of the event. In this story I will be introducing a character into the story for a first-person point of view. This is a bit harder to do, but I like the challenge and am excited to see where it takes me. I did a lot of planning for my first story, and aside from facts I have not really planned much for the second story so I am curious to see where the writing takes me.

I will keep you updated, but for now story 2 here I come!