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Saturday, December 31, 2005

So Many Words, So Little Time

You'd think with the kids gone, my word count meter would be going through the roof. However, I woke up with the same headache that put me out of commission last night, and didn't get it under control until 1:30 this afternoon. I was browsing blogs this evening when it started coming back, so I decided to come here and blog before I die [I'm gonna take some ibuprofen, too, hoping to head it off at the pass.]

Let's see, I was going to tell you about the books I got at Borders last night, but my head blew up, so maybe I can get through it tonight.

I got a book by Norman Vincent Peale called Positive Imaging. Last night I was looking up links to stick under the names for your clicking enjoyment, and I found this horrid article about Dr. Peale. It was written by a group calling themselves Biblical Discernment Ministries. Discernment is defined as: (discernment)
noun: perception of that which is obscure
noun: the trait of judging wisely and objectively (Example: "A man of discernment")
noun: delicate discrimination (especially of aesthetic values)
noun: the cognitive condition of someone who understands
noun: ability to make good judgments [I swiped those definitions from here, a site I love dearly.]

In the article, it claims that Peale never talks about salvation, or about Jesus as the way to salvation and a bunch of other crap that, if you've read the book, you would find simply isn't true.

Nothing pisses me off more than people who lie, which is probably why I am losing confidence in the president, and in many Christian leaders. I mean come on, people. President Clinton was impeached because he couldn't keep his pants zipped. Our current president spied on thousands of e-mails, phone calls, and who knows what else, okayed the mistreatment of suspected [not proven] terrorists, and then lied about it until he couldn't deny it anymore.

Why is it so evil for one president to have sex in the oval office that he has to be impeached [no, it wasn't okay that he did it, but the people he hurt were his own family.]? But it's okay for a president to invade the privacy of thousands of people in the name of fighting terrorism, and completely violate the Constitution in the process by ignoring the checks and balances that make our government at least marginally better than most? I mean he wrote an executive order that said he didn't have to get a court order to monitor the calls. Why? In all the years they've been getting secret warrants, the court has only turned the pres. down maybe three times.

I feel like the president is using horrid scare tactics to convince us that it's okay for him to ignore the Constitution in the name of the 'war on terror.'

Oh yeah, back to the article on Dr. Peale. What's up with that? I mean how many conservative Christians have completely trashed a person based on what they 'heard' about someone. I've had friends tell me that JK Rowling is a Satanist and has written other books with satanic messages. And that her Harry Potter books promote witchcraft.

Puh-lease! People, don't believe everything you hear! Not only that, but if you don't have the time to research stuff, don't freaking pass it on like it's gospel! I've read all of the Harry Potter books, and I can tell you that the Witchcraft and Wizardry you find in Ms. Rowling's books bears almost no resemblance to real Wiccan rituals. It seems like my fellow Christians freak out at the drop of the hat and see everything as a personal attack on their religion.

Christianity has been around for 2000 years. It has changed some [sometimes good, sometimes bad, and unfortunately the bad is way more visible] but, in the end, if you believe that Jesus is the Son of God and you follow what he taught, I'd say that counts. However, it seems like Christians have focused on the salvation part [believing that Jesus is the Son of God] and not so much on the 'following His teachings' part.

You know the part about taking care of the orphans, widows, and prisoners? The part about loving your neighbor as yourself [note that he didn't say more than or less than yourself, just as. I think that means "as much as," or "at the same time as" you love yourself. You really do have to take care of yourself and do the things that keep you healthy to be an effective person. But some have begun to focus only on themselves and forgotten to love others too. Others have forgotten to take care of themselves. Neither extreme is healthy, nor is it what Jesus wanted.]

I saw on the History Channel the other night that there may have been a Gospel of Mary [Magdalene]. What archaeologists found in it was that Mary was trying to tell the male disciples that Jesus had told her some things after his resurrection that he didn't share with the men.

That sounds like all kinds of heresy, I know, but here's the thing. She said that he told her not to focus so much on the salvation part and more on the teachings part of Jesus's ministry. My brain says this makes perfect sense. Of course he would tell the woman focus more on his other teachings, since we're the nurturers, and she was probably supposed to remind the men of the other half of our mission. And it's natural that the men would focus less on the caregiving and more on getting people saved.

But I think Jesus intended for both parts to be exercised equally, maybe even with more focus on taking care of the weak than "getting them saved." Christians have been spouting sayings for years about this, "They don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." And, "Don't be so heavenly minded that you're no earthly good."

I'm still thinking about all this stuff [the previous was just a thumbnail of all the various topics that have been rolling around up there... hey, maybe that's why I got the headache from hell yesterday!]. It's like my whole life is in the midst of an overhaul, and I'm still not sure exactly where it is I'm heading. A little disconcerting, I'll tell you that right now. I keep joking to Hubby that I'm becoming a freaking Liberal. He just shakes his head [He does that a lot. He doesn't back away in fear of the lightning strike anymore, so I figure I'm making some progress!!]

Yeah, so anyway, I'm sorry for griping around the world tonight, but it's been brewing for a while. Let me know if I made any sense, though, okay?

Until tomorrow, then.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

When The Kids Are Away, The Parents Will Play

The kids are gone until Sunday! Too bad I'm so freaking tired! Last night was a rough night. I was plagued with insomnia until 1am. About the time I started falling asleep, my youngest woke up crying. [Thus, it was another hour or so before I could shut my brain down enough to sleep. Ugh.] She turned two last October, and I can probably count on two hands the number of times she has slept through the night. [The older two slept all night from the beginning, so this is something new for me. I totally have sympathy for those parents who have kids who don't sleep, though. I feel your pain!]

She [my youngest] used to lose her binky all the time, but we got rid of that sucker [hee hee, horrid pun, I know, but I'm sleep deprived and it sounds really funny in my head] several months ago. Sometimes she just wakes up [possible bad dreams, I guess] and most of the time, she won't go back to sleep until I go pick her up.

Sometimes I send Hubby in, but she usually wakes up again if he does it. She's a mama's girl big time. Really they all are, I guess. Some moms like to be their kids' favorite, but that's not really my thing. I think it would be wonderful to hear one of them yell, "Daaaaaddy, I neeeeeed youuuuu!" Oh well, they do him, they just call on me when something hurts.

I went on my Big Shopping Trip To Borders the other day [I was gonna blog about it last night, but the kids played games online, and the computer locked up just as I was coming over. Rather than re-start it, I just gave up and went to bed.] I started reading a book by Jimmy Carter called Our Endangered Values.

I carried it around for a while, but my gift card was only for $20 and the book was $25 [with 30% off, so about $19 after the discount] but I had a hard time paying that much for one book when I could buy two that were just as interesting for the same price. I'll get the Carter book at the library, because I think it's worth reading.

I am in the process of working through some "theological issues," which I began to blog about next, but a sudden, massive headache has reduced my ability to think. So, I'm going to bed. Jeez! So frustrating.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Couldn't Resist

I went back to tickle's website and took their IQ test again, deliberately missing all the questions. Here are my results:S, your Super IQ score is 80

Your overall intelligence quotient is the result of a scientifically-tested formula based on how many questions you answered correctly. But it's only part of what we learned about you from your answers on the test. We also determined the way you process information.The way you think about things makes you an Information Organizer. This means you have an eye for detail. You can scan a page and find the one mistake on it. You're also able to organize things in a way that makes sense and arrange information so that it is easier to understand. This makes you a very valuable resource for others who aren't organized or who have trouble catching their own mistakes. It's often difficult for traditional intelligence tests to pick up your particular set of abilities because the talent of organizing information and spotting inconsistencies is much harder to measure than other abilities.
How did we determine that your thinking style is that of an Information Organizer? When we examined your test results further, we analyzed how you scored on 8 dimensions of intelligence: spatial, organizational, abstract reasoning, logical, mechanical, verbal, visual and numerical. The 3 dimensions you scored highest on combine to make you an Information Organizer. Only 6 out of 1,000 people have this rare combination of abilities.

Hmmm... 80 is the minimum IQ you can have without being considered mentally challenged. Like I said, the site is good for a laugh, but don't give 'em any money.

Okay, I'm really going to bed this time.

A Blogging We Will Go

I went shopping today. Spent four hours on my feet, and my butt's a draggin.' Hubby is laying in bed shooting the ceiling with his new airsoft gun. Yup, he's strange, but so cute!

And if you tilt your head just so, you can see how cute. That was on his 34th birthday, which was in August.

Ugh. I can't figure out how to rotate the picture. Anybody out there know how?

Oh well, all that was to say that I'm beat, so I'm going to bed. Speaking of birthdays, my 32nd is coming up in a few days. Wow, it feels really weird to be in my thirties. I figure I'll get used to it about the time I head into my forties. It's cool, though. I remember being a kid and thinking I would never live to see 25, let alone 32. So I won't gripe about getting old [I'm not even close, yet.]

Anyway, 'night, y'all.


"S, your Super IQ score is 133

Your overall intelligence quotient is the result of a scientifically-tested formula based on how many questions you answered correctly. But it's only part of what we learned about you from your answers on the test. We also determined the way you process information.The way you think about things makes you an Imaginative Mastermind. This means you are an extremely talented person, with a wide range of skills. There is little to nothing you can't do if you want to. You're very creative and you can express your ideas effectively through a variety of different means whether it's written or spoken words, numbers, or anything else. You also have a practical knowledge of how things work in the world — you've been paying attention and you pick things up easily.
How did we determine that your thinking style is that of an Imaginative Mastermind? When we examined your test results further, we analyzed how you scored on 8 dimensions of intelligence: spatial, organizational, abstract reasoning, logical, mechanical, verbal, visual and numerical. The 3 dimensions you scored highest on combine to make you an Imaginative Mastermind. Only 6 out of 1,000 people have this rare combination of abilities."

Imaginative Mastermind. Sounds pretty good, don't you think? I got a good laugh out of it, anyway! I'm a sucker for tests like this, though. Always have been. I used to love getting Seventeen magazine as a kid and filling out the tests, "What's Your Fashion Style? Does He Really Love You? What Kind of Flirt Are You?" Are those great titles or what? Who can resist them? Not I. So when I stumbled upon Tickle's* website, well, it was almost like heaven.

To get the report on the full results of the IQ test, you have to shell out $10, but the test is fun, [at least it was for me, but then I love all things brain-teaser, so your mileage may vary, but if you're interested, go here] And, if you like taking tests online, here are a bunch of them. They're free to take, but to get the full results, you have to pay for them.

Anyway, I had fun with the IQ test, so I thought I'd pass it along. I don't know how accurate it is from a scientific standpoint, but there you go. Let me know if you like it.

* I haven't examined all the tests available at this website, so it's possible that some of it is offensive. Don't look at those, okay?

Another test result [I told you I love these things!]

"What Breed of Dog Are You?
S, you're a Collie!

No bones about it, you're a loyal, nurturing Collie. A sensitive breed, you're always approachable and very in tune with others' feelings — just like Lassie! Because of your empathetic nature, you tend to be the group psychologist to your circle of friends. Your faithful, easygoing, steadfast personality makes you a wonderful confidant; people love to come to you with their troubles. Bottom line? You're a star at interpersonal relationships and have a knack for making new friends and acquaintances wherever you go. After all, what's a Collie without a flock to look after? Since you're so giving, your buddies might not realize that you need them just as much as they need you, so make sure not to neglect yours truly. Everyone deserves some "me" time. Woof! "

Hee hee. Okay, go have some fun, and come back and tell me your results if you want.

Oh Yeah, I hope everyone had a great holiday. Ours was really good in spite of the sick kids. Every one was pleased with their gifts. I got hubby an Air Soft gun that shoots vinyl BBs. His instructors used them when he was in the Academy [you miss a question and they shot you in the back... no permanent damage, and George, big dork that he is, thought it was funny.]

So yesterday, he was getting ready for work, and had me shoot him in the back of the leg. I was about 12 feet from him, but it left a big knot on the back of his thigh. He jumped around for a minute or two, which was worth seeing, I must admit. But I almost felt guilty for hurting him. Almost, but not quite. I think I'll stick to target practice on inanimate objects from now on, though.

I am sitting at the computer listening to K-Love online [if you like contemporary Christian music, go there now and listen, they are one of the best Christian stations in the country]. I mention that because I am listening through the new speakers my hubby got me. The old ones were horrible. One didn't work at all and the other one vibrated if you turned it up too loud. These work perfectly, and words can't express how wonderful that is.

Some very dear friends got me a gift card to Borders, which is where I plan to spend a good portion of my afternoon tomorrow.

*Side note: My town doesn't have any privately owned mainstream book stores. We are a city of about 65 or 70 thousand, and we have several religious bookstores, but that's it. I mention that because the best way to help support your favorite authors is to buy from locally owned and operated bookstores. There's a big explanation for it that I don't have the energy to go into right now [and others have done it, better... I will try to find a link tomorrow].

For now, though, it's after 3a.m. here, and I need some sleep.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

My two oldest kids were sick all night and we had to go to the Christmas Eve service at church. My son slept in the pew the whole night. Our skit came off without a hitch [A minor miracle! It was the first time we had gotten it right... somehow we usually manage to pull stuff off when it really matters.] In five minutes, we made the audience laugh and then cry, so I'd say that's pretty good.

Hubby's song was awesome. I am still amazed every time that man opens his mouth and beautiful melodies fly out of it. I always pray that he will do well, partly because I love him and want him to succeed. But also because when a song is well-done, it has the power to move you and change you, hopefully to make you better.

Songs created a mood, and an off-note can screw that up completely [sometimes... there have been times when all he could manage was to stand up and cry, and that moved people too.] Horribly off-key voices, for me at least, distract from the message of the song. Which is why I'm really glad that he rarely misses a note [it does happen, just not often.]

At some point [probably after the holidays] he's going to go to some of the local funeral homes and offer to sing at funerals. It's a little morbid, I guess, but he loves to sing and would love to be able to do it more. Barring a miracle 'discovery,' weddings, funerals, and church services may be the best way to get to do that.

I would love for him to be able to sing for a living, if that's what he wants. I doubt that he will quit troopin' any time soon, though. I asked him if he'd quit if we won $10 million from Publisher's Clearing House, and the answer was a definite 'no.' He loves his job, and I'm okay with that. There are times when I let worry for his safety creep in, but I'm usually able to pray about it [and call him to make sure he's okay and tell him to be extra careful... as if he wouldn't be otherwise] and let it go.

Anyway, Christmas is here! We were able to get all of our shopping done, and I don't think the kids will be disappointed.

We will also read the Christmas story from Luke 2, which says

The Birth of Jesus

1At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2(This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3All returned to their own towns to register for this census. 4And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David's ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5He took with him Mary, his fiancé, who was obviously pregnant by this time.
6And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.

The Shepherds and Angels 8That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, 10but the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! 11The Savior--yes, the Messiah, the Lord--has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!"
13Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others--the armies of heaven--praising God:

14 "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors.[a]" 15When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Come on, let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
16They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18All who heard the shepherds' story were astonished, 19but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20The shepherds went back to their fields and flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them, and because they had seen the child, just as the angel had said. [taken from the New Living Translation]

Merry Christmas, all, and have a blessed New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

It Is Finished

My stint in holiday shopping madness is officially over. If I didn't get it today, I ain't gettin' it. I spent part of the evening wrapping hubby's gifts. Then I wasted several hours watching TV. I watched network TV until the news was half over, then I watched Newlyweds on MTV.

The plan for the rest of my evening [now that it's after midnight] is to shower, meditate and go to sleep.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and the kids are getting more excited the closer we get. I'm a little nervous about the service tomorrow night. We don't have our skit completely memorized yet, and I'm not sure if there's gonna be time tomorrow.

George goes to work at five, and he works until three in the morning tonight, so I'm sure he's gonna want to sleep late. We may have to set an alarm and get up anyway.

Maybe I'll set the coffee pot, too.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Only Two Shopping Days Left, Boys and Girls

And we're not done yet. At this rate, we should be ready for Christmas by New Year's. Oh well. We went to the church to practice our Christmas skit [called Glad Tidings]. And so Steve could practice his song, 'Oh Holy Night.' We still have to finish memorizing the skit, but I think we're close, and the song is really high, but really good.

Tomorrow is the only day I will have to do my shopping before Christmas, so I'm just gonna have to bite the bullet and do it. I guess if you hear from me tomorrow, you'll know I survived it!

Anyway, it's late, and life is hectic, so I'm gonna go. I'm thinking that unless something major comes up that I just have to blog about, this may be a short diary entry for a few days.

You never know, though, I had planned on skipping Sundays, but I always have something to talk about. My writing on my novel is at a temporary standstill. But I'm still writing every day, so I don't feel too bad about it. My goal is to have it written, revised, polished, and sent out by this time next year. I'm hoping to have it finished before that, but since this is my first time for actually finishing one, I figure a year isn't too bad.

Anyway, if things go nuts and I don't get a chance to say it, Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

And Sometimes, Wednesdays Are Good

Yes, it's true dear friends. I not only survived teaching, but enjoyed it. Most of the time, it's easier for me to love kids when I don't have to actually interact with them [horrid of me, I know, but I don't have a lot of patience, and when kids get crazy-rude, it drives me nuts!]

The kids were rowdy, but for the most part, it was because they were having fun. There's a difference between that and repeatedly ignoring directions and being rude to other kids and to the teacher. The deliberate disobedience as a power struggle is what drives me nuts. I hate getting into power struggles with kids because as the adult, I can't let them win. Ever. If they choose to discuss the matter with me, that's different, but deliberate 'I don't have to listen to you,' is fifteen shades of bad.

Thankfully, I didn't have any of that tonight, but I think it's because I genuinely care about them, and they know it. We played and got horrible-messy, but it was all in good fun, so I'm okay with that.

You know, when we first moved up here [about a year and a half ago], the children's directors asked me if I liked working with the kids. I was honest and said 'no.' My husband and I were the youth leaders in our church several years ago [when I was a brand new, never been to church before except for Vacation Bible School, Christian.] Hoo boy, was that awful! I still don't understand teens most of the time, [in my defense, I didn't get them when I was one, either.] But I am getting better.

Baby steps, baby steps, baby steps.

So, anyway, I left the church actually feeling better than when I arrived [and got an ever so slightly smug 'I had a feeling that might happen.' from the husband afterward. Grrr. If he wasn't so cute, I'd have to smack him.] That's kind of how it's supposed to go, so things are good.

Oh yeah, the furnace is fixed! Yay, George!! The estimates to replace the part were $150-$170, which was going to put a serious damper on Christmas shopping [no, I'm not done yet. I am one of the few women on the planet who hates shopping with a passion, so I put it off as long as possible!] But, hubby went to the service store with the broken part, and the guy there was able to find a little doo-hickey to replace the one that was broken, and voila!! We have heat!!

Remember last night when I said things always get better if you can hold on? They really do. So don't give up.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Winter Woes

Our furnace in our house went out today, and it's 16 degrees Fahrenheit outside. I am running a kerosene heater, which stinks to high heaven, until hubby gets off work and goes to get an electric space heater. We have one in our room [because it's in the back of the house and only has one vent], but the kids need heat, too.

This is pretty annoying, though. And cold. It seems like it's always one thing after another. There's something wrong with our van, too [our only means of transportation]. It runs, but not willingly. It sounds like it's not running on all six cylinders, and the exhaust smells like unburned gasoline. God only knows what the problem is there.

The kerosene fumes make my eyes burn and my stomach upset, so I'm thinking that's probably not a good thing. I wasn't planning on running it all night anyway, because you just never know, and we have three little kids sleeping in the house, so I'm not taking any chances with carbon monoxide.

We finally put up the Christmas tree today. I've been putting it off since Thanksgiving. Christmas isn't my favorite time of year. I know, I know, that's not the kind of thing you usually hear from one of them there bornagainers, but there you have it. There's just Too Much, you know?

As a general rule, I try to keep my stress level to a minimum. My depression is aggravated by stress, along with my Fibro symptoms, so avoiding stress is a necessity if I want to function at all. Minor to moderate stress is unavoidable a lot of the time in my house [three kids, a dog and a husband contribute quite a bit]. Add church on Wednesdays and twice on Sundays, and that's about all I can handle comfortably.

Holiday get-togethers with friends and family are great, but draining. Even when I have fun, I'm still pretty done-in afterward. Meditation helps, but the funny thing is, when I need it most is when I manage it the least. Which begins the cycle of depression. Which is why December sucks.

That, and money is tight around here, so there isn't much extra for Christmas gifts. Okay, there isn't any extra, we just fake it. And that makes me sad. I shouldn't be, my kids and I have enough clothes, food, and shelter [albeit a cold-kerosene-stinky one right now] but when they make the 'list' and I can only manage a couple of the less expensive things on it, it's hard.

You want to give your kids their heart's desire, you know? I don't want to spoil them, and I don't want to give them so much that they begin to think they're entitled to the world on a platter, but I wish I could do more.

My oldest wants to take dance lessons so badly, and it's just not possible. So I ordered her a couple of 'how to dance' DVD's, hoping she can learn a little bit by herself, and that it will be enough. She also loves art [so do I] but art supplies are expensive. They all love music, and I would love for them to have music lessons.

It's all stuff they don't need in order to live, but can add so much to their lives. Music, drama, art, and writing are all things that I adore doing, and am fairly good at, but I often wonder if I'd had private lessons [or more classes offered at school], if I might have been exceptional at them.

It's one of those things I'll just never know. With my personality, I might have given up even if I'd had lessons, but I wish I'd had the chance to try. And that's what I want to give to my kids. The chance to try everything and find out what they like and don't like, and what they're good at. And what they suck at.

Maybe it will give them a better idea of their potential at a younger age, and they won't be wandering around at 30 still trying to figure out what they want to be 'when they grow up.'

In my worse moments, those are the things I think about at Christmas.

In my better moments, I am filled with awe at the miracle of Christ's birth. God making himself into a helpless human infant, totally dependent on a teenaged mother and a step-dad who may or may not love him. Wow. That was a pretty big gamble.

I am thankful for all that I have, even in my weaker moments when all I can see is what isn't perfect. My kids are healthy. We have a home. And there will be gifts under the tree. I never forget that there are people who don't have those things. I am truly blessed, and in the ways that really matter, I am rich.

Things are a little tilted in my life right now, but it will even out again, and get better. It always does if you can hold on.

Sleepy Post... Again

You think there's a theme here? I don't have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or I've never been officially diagnosed with it, but I have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, which is loads of fun.

The disease name means "muscle pain," which is largely what it is. I also have hypoglycemia, which for some reason often goes along with the disease.

I don't talk about it much because the whole thing just pisses me off. But, fibro [and possible CFS] is probably why I'm so tired all the time, and we went to a Christmas party that was a dessert party, and I ate dessert, so I'm twitchy, tired, and needing to eat some protein before bed. And we're running low on protein foods because I've been avoiding Wal-Mart like the plague with all the shoppers out.

So I'm just a mess, ain't I? I need to watch my diet better, but it's expensive as hell to try to eat strictly low-glycemic index foods. Why is it that the healthy foods are the most expensive, and the most processed, least natural stuff is what I can afford?

I'm feeling all whiney tonight, can you tell? I'm gonna go drink some milk and go to bed.

Monday, December 19, 2005

More On Politics. Yup, I'm Still Confused

So I'm reading here about George W. and his spying without warrants, and I am concerned. He has justified his actions in his own mind and believes that the American people have given him permission to do whatever he "needs to do to protect the nation," even if it violates our rights.

Jeez, I understand how he came to the conclusion [rationalization] but I keep having thoughts of the KGB and Hitler and God knows who else who have spied on their own people to find perceived enemies.

I'm not saying that Al Qaeda aren't our enemies, there's no question that they are, but I'm not sure I can justify the President's actions. I feel like he believes that he has more authority than the other two branches of government. He put in an executive order that allowed the spying, and apparently didn't ask anyone else what they thought about it. That sounds wrong to me.

I am really tired now, it's 1:30 in the morning as I write this, but I was looking up a definition of what our government looks like to me. I found this article. We're supposed to be capitalist, which is basically every man for himself business-wise. It means that you can do anything [legal] you want for a living, and that businesses are owned by the private sector, and that government is representative of every one equally, poor and rich alike.

But that's not what I see in our country anymore. It looks to me like it's getting harder and harder for the poor and the 'just over poor' to be heard. If you don't have any money, you don't have a voice. People pay lobbyists to champion their causes in the government. If you're poor, how can you pay someone to be your voice? You can't.

Our country appears to be run by the people with the money, with the rest of us just along for the ride. The word for that that I found is called "Corporatist," which says basically that the big companies are in cahoots with the government and that together they get to make all the decisions.

So where does that leave me? Where does that leave most of the people I know?

I've been writing about great big gobs of depressing stuff in the past week. Between Rwanda, the Sudan and Congo, and the poor in the U.S. I've been feeling pretty helpless to make a difference anywhere. And in the back of my mind, I've been thinking, "If I had more money, I could do more to help. If I had money, I could make people hear me."

And it's true. If I was a famous writer who was blogging about this, or if I was Oprah, people would be jumping out of their chairs to go call their congressmen about Congo, or the sad state of the foster care system in America. As it is, maybe 15 or 20 people will read this, and maybe one of those people will have the power that I lack to change things. Or maybe not.

I'm not giving up, not by any means, but I am frustrated. I'm not very good with the patience thing, and change always takes time.

What concerns me about President Bush, is that he isn't one of us. He is extremely rich and powerful, and has a lot of friends who have great gobs of money, who are also powerful. And I can't help but wonder if his concern is really for us, the faceless [not rich] masses, or if his loyalty lies elsewhere.

I pray that I am wrong, and that he really does care about the little guy. But my instincts tell me he probably doesn't, and that sucks.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Post #32. Done in 20 Minutes and 21 Seconds

I was gonna do 10 minutes, but I just don't type that fast! I'd get about here and have to quit. Okay, maybe I'm not that slow, but pretty close.

I watched "Fahrenheit 9/11" by Michael Moore tonight. Historically, I have been opposed to this movie on principle, but because of some stuff that's been happening in the government of my home state, I've been questioning my Republican-ness, and wanted to see what the other side had to say.

I expected a strongly slanted, one-sided, left-wing liberal load of crap. What I got was...

Something not quite looking like a complete load of crap. Okay, it was slanted, and I have no idea if everything in it was strictly accurate, but it gave me some food for thought. And some serious frustration with politics as well.

The current scandal in Washington DC is that the President authorized spying on American citizens without warrants. Tapping phone conversations and other stuff. The thing is, I get why he thinks it's okay, and maybe with a person of integrity it is. But man, the potential for corruption is HUGE! No one is above corruption except Jesus, and last time I checked, He wasn't in the flesh anymore.

I have believed the president to be a man of integrity. He openly declares his Christianity, and by association [with Jesus, not with religion] should be a man of integrity. But, by being a politician, I'm wondering if the two cancel each other out. These are the kinds of things that make my brain hurt.

I am struggling like crazy to figure out which party really is the lesser of the two evils. I haven't come to any conclusions yet, but I am doing some research.

'Nuf about the 'whole country situation' for now, though, I have another fish to fry: The Governor of My Home State. Here's the situation, you tell me what you think about it.

I voted for a Republican to become Governor of my home state. He won. Within a month of taking office, he makes huge cuts in a lot of areas, which should be a good thing, balancing the budget and all that.

Here's the deal though. The cuts he made were in the areas of mental health benefits, Medicaid benefits, disability benefits, and he froze the salaries of most of the state employees [which would be a good thing if it were the politicians he froze. (I mean their salaries.) But the people he froze were the low-level state employees.]

He managed to take money from the young, the old, and the crazy. He hurt the people who are the weakest and most helpless in our society. Oh yeah, as he was cutting benefits for the voiceless, he approved funding for a complete renovation of [or rebuilding, I can't remember which] one of our sports stadiums.

How is that good? What about all the people who can't afford their antipsychotics anymore? Or the disabled, the elderly and the children who can't get proper medical care?

How the hell can he justify taking money from babies, the elderly, the disabled, and the mentally ill to build a FREAKING SPORTS STADIUM?!? Is that how all Republicans are? Surely they can't all be heartless, greedy, idiots, can they?

I have so much homework to do on this, and the bad thing is, I have no idea who to believe anymore. Any advice for some one coming a little late into the game of thinking?

I hope he doesn't run for re-election, because if he does, I'll have to vote Democrat for the first time in my life. And if things keep going the way they're going, you may be reading a post entitled 'A Conversion Story,' that has nothing to do with Christianity!

Okay, I think I'll probably talk more about politics at some other time, but my time was up a long time ago and I have church tomorrow, so I gotta go to bed.


Friday, December 16, 2005

Long Evening, But Good

Just got the kids to bed about ten minutes ago [11pm]. My oldest had quizzing and since I'm on the children's council at my church, I stayed and helped. Things went so much better than Wednesday night.

The kids are a handful, but I love 'em anyway. Most of them don't have much stability at home, and go to the "title 1 school" [Title one is government money that is given to schools. "It is intended to help ensure that all children have the opportunity to obtain a high quality education and reach grade-level proficiency. Title I funds help students who are behind academically or at risk of falling behind."(quote taken from here) ]

What kills me about these kids is that they may be behind academically, but they're smart. There is so much potential in them, but they could fall through the cracks, in fact, may have already fallen through them.

These kids have parents who, for whatever reason, are unable to give them the care that they need. They all desperately need love and attention and guidance. The parents probably love the kids the best they can, but what if their best isn't enough?

I know that my parents loved me. They did a really good job raising me, too, but there are still things that happened that scarred me. Now, granted, I was an overly sensitive kid who took everything personally, so when Mom went to work to help support us, all I saw was that Mom didn't want to be at home with me anymore... my perception was all screwed up. But the scars that kind of stuff left were just as real as any other emotional scar, and I had to work through them.

Some kids come out of unspeakable home lives and do okay in life. Others perpetuate the cycle of abuse. Still others don't survive at all, either because they die in the situation or they self-destruct.

My brain is a big muddle tonight. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I think of those kids who I helped teach about Jesus tonight, and I know that the odds say that they don't have much chance of making it. Some might think of them as throwaway kids.

But I think about them and my heart screams NO dammit! I want those babies to grow up and live! Good, successful lives. I want them to be happy. I don't want to lose even one of them. I want them to beat the odds.

And I wish I could do more to help them. I wish I could send them to college if they want to go. I wish I could protect them from the things they live with that no child should have to deal with. I wish I could help their parents learn to be better parents.

Those are just a few of the things I'd like to do, but can't. I feel helpless and frustrated about it, too.

What I can do, is pray for them. God can do all things, and He doesn't do odds. I can pray, and will [and have been] and maybe as I pray, God will show me some other things I can do as well.

Maybe He'll give me lots of money and I will be able to send them to college!! [I'd like to send myself to college, too!]

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that my hubby got me Starburst today! Yay! No words on my novel, though. Some days are just too crazy to fit it all in.

Okay, I'm tired now, G'Night

Starburst and Heat

My hunny bun-unny has fixed the heater in the van [it was low on water, which kept the heated water from going into the heating coil, which made it cold... I learned that this morning when he told me All About Our Van's Heater, to which I listened raptly because I love him and I am PRACTICING good listening skills. It occurred to me [as I was reading a book called "True Balance," by Sonia Choquette] that I need to work on my listening skills.

I tend to only half listen to people. I'm usually keeping an eye on the kids, or they are interrupting in one way or another, or I'm thinking about what I want to say next, or I'm distracted by the TV, computer, radio, or other conversation... you get the idea.

I am finding that, no matter what people say to the contrary, you really can't listen to some one and be doing fifteen other things. And people deserve to be listened to. Which includes my family [it's REALLY hard to listen to my kids' sprawling tales of their adventures playing Zelda the Windwaker on GameCube... but I shall endure from now on, no matter how hard it is!! Also, if I don't listen to them now, while they're little, there is a good chance that when they're older, they'll stop talking to me, and that is SO not where I want to go in my relationship with them].

So, I am making a commitment, right here and now, to really listen to people when they talk, and not just with my ears, but with my heart as well.

Grrr Argh

Hubby changed the thermostat in our van today in the hopes that it would heat better. Now it only blows cold air. He went to Wal-Mart and I asked for chocolate, he said no, so I asked for Starburst. He said okay. He just got back... no Starburst!

Most days, he's so close to perfect he makes me sick. Then there are days like today, when I am reminded that yes, he is human... but he's still in trouble. Something not quite right there!

Nah, just kidding, but the no Starburst thing did annoy me.

I cut his hair today, then I cut my son's hair. I use the clippers because it's easier, but the little one doesn't like the buzzing, so I had to use SCISSORS. Which has always been a bit traumatic for me. I've tried numerous times [generally without success] to cut my own hair with scissors. The first time I tried it, I went out in a baseball cap to buy my first pair of clippers.

Then my hair was all one length, but it was one inch long! So, when my dad and uncle asked for haircuts, I had the clippers to do it [hubby still had long hair back then.] No problem. Then when hubby decided to 'get a haircut and get a real job,' it was still no problem, since the new job required almost military-style haircut [although we don't go quite that short, his co-workers tease him about his GQ hair style.]

And now the boy. After his last haircut, he announced that he was never getting another haircut again because he doesn't like the tickles. So I let him go for a really long time without one. But then, the comments from the peanut gallery [aka family that I love... Hi guys! heh heh]. Plus comments from his older sister ["Mom," she says while looking up at me through her eyelashes, twisting her mouth to the side like Popeye, and nodding her head, "We REALLY need to cut his hair," then she starts shaking her head, "It's looking PRETTY BAD!" More head bobbing and a few giggles. Thanks, kid.]

So I did it! I got the freaking scissors out and trimmed his hair. I couldn't bring myself to cut the curls off the sides and back, though, so mostly I just shortened the top a little. I also have a hard time getting things even [hence the stupid clippers!] so by leaving parts of it long, maybe it covers up any mistakes.

Maybe I should go to haircuttin' school.

Nah. Too much time standing... sheesh, I'd be dead before the first day ended.

This is becoming a bedtime ritual, I think. It's like I can't go to bed without blogging, and since I already blogged earlier today, this is my second blog, but since it's after midnight, it's my first, but, oh hell, I'm tired, can you tell?

'Kay, bye!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Words, Words, Words

I got about 1,000 on my novel today, so I'm excited! I expanded the scene from yesterday [that I really didn't get to work on much] and liked what I got. It's a first draft, so it needs work, but it adds to the troubles one of my main characters is going to have to deal with, and you know, the main character must suffer!!

I like my main characters, though, and they're kids, which makes being mean to them difficult, but since I can't imagine writing a book with a sad ending, I'm pretty sure they'll come out of it okay.

There is more good news. I had fun while I was writing! No, I mean fun, like the fun I have when I blog [which is a lot]. The story is developing, and I am looking forward to sitting down and finding out what happens next, which is a little different than my previous attempts.

Before, my damned Internal Editor would take over and undermine the story, but I've finally managed to tie her up and lock her in a closet in the back of my brain. I can hear her banging around back there, but the noise is much more manageable, and she ain't coming out till I'm done!

Yay, me!!

The pressure I was putting on myself to do it right the first time has let up so much. I've finally given myself permission to write, no matter what the words are. I'm not shying away from anything anymore, and that, my friends, is a bona fide miracle!

I don't know if this is normal or not, but blogging is opening the doors to my creativity like nothing else ever has. It's just different, writing something that I know will be read by at least one other person [thanks mom!].

It's like there has been a shift in my brain. Before, I would start stories and begin to second guess what my plan was almost immediately. I'd tweak it fifty times before I ever wrote a word, and by the time I was done tweaking, the idea didn't even remotely resemble what I'd started out to write. And it pretty much sucked. By blogging, I pick something, write it, publish it, and then it's not mine anymore, so I can't second guess myself.

I am able to distance myself from the previous posts enough that the urge to go back and 'fix' them is all but gone. That's something I've never been able to do before. Now, I'm able to write however many words of fiction and I don't have to re-read or second guess.

It's funny because I griped one day about how I needed to edit my previous posts more, [still haven't done that*g*] but what I really needed was to learn how to NOT edit all the damned time. I'm not editing a word of my manuscript until the first draft is completely finished. If I need to, I'll put a sticky note in the file where I forgot to put something in, but the edit will wait.

As for my blog posts, I'm thinking what you see is what you get, good, bad or ugly. Maybe I'll edit them someday after the kids move out and I have some free time. Bwahahahaaa!!!!!

Blog ya later!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Wednesday Woes

If you don't do the church thing, you may not know this, but a lot of churches have a midweek service [usually Wednesdays]. My church does, and we usually go. The theory behind a midweek service is that you recharge your spiritual batteries, which is brilliant. In theory. The reality for me, is that I get to see people that I care about, which is good. As for the battery thing, well, I tend to do better with that alone.

Sundays are supposed to be a day of rest. It is supposed to be a time when we focus on our relationship with God. I do learn things at church [sometimes they're even things about God!]

My Sunday School class is awesome. We're reading "Waking the Dead," by John Eldridge, which is an excellent read, and we have an exceptional teacher who is passionate about the class and loves to teach, so it's a good place to be. I do my best to make it every week because I want to, not because I have to.

Our Sunday worship service is pretty traditional, in that we sing songs, sit in pews, and listen to a sermon. The worship service is kinda hit or miss with me. There are days when I can feel God's presence from the moment I enter the Sanctuary. It's like He and I are having a conversation that may or may not have anything to do with what's going on with the songs or sermon.

Then there are other days when I can't concentrate on anything during the service. I'm thinking about lunch and the rings of Saturn and will I be lucky enough to get the kids to take a nap because I'm so freaking tired from getting up early and rushing around like a madwoman to get every one up and ready for church and why is it that we never get to church on time and blah blah blah... on and on until we're dismissed. On those days, I couldn't tell you a word of the sermon or what it was about.

But, I've come to realize that I'm more of an interactive person, and it's a lot easier for me to pay attention when there is an active discussion going on, [or when I might get called on to read or answer a question.] I do better in small group discussion type settings.

Which is why I go to Sunday night Bible study. Good friends, good discussion, the presence of God all mixed up together [with snacks!] man, that's the stuff of heaven!

It's also exhausting. Sunday as a day of rest. Yeah right. And Wednesday as a battery recharge just doesn't happen for me. Wednesday nights are exhausting, too. Which is why I'm talking in circles, here. I can't think straight!

Some people are energized by crowds, I am drained by them. The louder the crowd, the more I shut down afterward. Tonight was ridiculously loud and crowded.

I knew it would be, so I meditated for a few minutes before we left. And that's the thing. My relationship with God tends to grow more when I have quiet moments alone than when I'm in a group.

Sometimes, I will come away from church and realize that there are a few areas in my life that are less than perfect that I need to work on [it's not that I only have a few things I need to work on, it's that God is a merciful God and doesn't want to overwhelm me!]

But sometimes, I'm just tired, and I miss God completely and have to come home to the peace to find Him.

The kids are in bed, hubby is playing video games, and I am blogging. I worked on my novel for about fifteen minutes earlier today. I was excited about a scene I was going to write. It didn't end up getting written today; too much going on in the real world.

Now I sit, drinking Tension Tamer Tea, and thinking of a long hot shower to wash the evening away. I'll meditate, and if I'm lying down when I do it, I'll last about ten minutes before I fall asleep.

The day was long and hard, and in spots, felt like an exercise in futility. But, at the end of it, I am alive and healthy, I have a warm bed to sleep in, and my husband and children are safe. It didn't go like I wanted it to, but God was with me.

Here at home, in the quiet, I feel His peace at last, and I am content.

Hotel Rwanda

I just finished watching Hotel Rwanda. It is a true story, and I'm still trying to come to grips with that fact.

In 1994, 1,000,000 Rwandans were killed in a Civil War. The war was between the two main groups in Rwanda, the Hutus and the Tutsis. The Hutus killed 1,000,000 Tutsis. They targeted the children because they wanted to prevent the next generation of Tutsis from becoming. The Hutus committed genocide, and no one did anything to help the victims.

Hitler killed 6,000,000 Jews during the holocaust. It took forever for America to get involved, and only after Pearl Harbor did we finally join the war.

The UN knew about the genocide in Rwanda, but pulled their people out anyway. The press reported that there were 'acts of genocide' being committed, but no one would call it what it was. It was the systematic slaughter of one group of people by another. Genocide.

And no one helped them.

Today, the same thing is happening in the Sudan and the Congo, both in Africa.

Again, we are doing nothing to help.

In the movie, a line keeps coming back to me. Nick Nolte's character was telling Don Cheadle's character that no one was coming to help. He said, "You're dirt. You aren't even a nigger. You're an African."

Lower than the worst racial slur we have for black people in this country. Unbelievable.

How is it that we can't see the humanity in each other? How is it that these atrocities happen every day in our world, and we go on with our lives, happy, too well-fed, and spoiled?

God, I see this, and I feel so damned helpless. What can I do to change things? Can I really sit in my recliner and do nothing? I know about it now. Can I go back to the life I have and never give the people who are suffering and dying horrible deaths another thought?

And if I do, what kind of person does that make me?

I am horrified and ashamed. I don't have a clue what I can do to help, but there has to be something.

I don't want to go back to being complacent. I may not be able to change the world, but maybe I can put my little spark of energy toward bringing good into the world and helping any way I can.

I'm emotionally drained. I put off watching this movie because I knew I would be. I don't think I'm being coherent, and I wish I was. I wish I could be as eloquent as the people in Africa deserve.

I'm sorry I'm not better at this, but I'm not giving up. Don't you give up, either.

Monday, December 12, 2005

How I Became a Reader and Writer

Holly Lisle had an interesting article linked to her blog from December 10. She wanted to know how we became readers and writers [sometimes in spite of public school]. I forced myself out of lurk-y-land and answered, but it got way too long, so I decided to put it over here.

And now I find that in all my clicking to get over here, the damned thing flew into cyberspace, and now I have to start over! Ach!

Oh well, here we go again.

I currently homeschool my oldest daughter who is seven. I have a five year old son and a two year old daughter as well, so I'm not the most consistent in my teaching. I have been thinking about sending her to second grade next year at public school [I don't think I've done enough to get her ready for third grade, which is what she's ready for age-wise.]

My son will be old enough to go to Kindergarten next year, and I have been sorely tempted to send him to public school as well. My motivation for wanting to, however, was more about me thinking, "I could get so much done with just one kid around!" than what is actually best for him. That's horrible, I know, but I've changed my mind now, so no harm done. I'm definitely waiting until he and my youngest are at least seven.

I'm thinking we'll go ahead and put my oldest in school next year, though. In the past month, she has gone from thinking she could only read words from the Hooked on Phonics workbook, to reading everything she can get her hands on. Today when I told her she was too old to drink out of a sippy cup [I said something like, "I don't think the other seven year olds still drink out of sippy cups," She looked at me and said, "I'm not one of them." I was too proud to get onto her about her attitude!] I have her write in her journal every day, and she's already making up stories!

Which is something I never did at her age.

Which is where I begin the sad tale that is the life of Shelbi at school. Sheesh, reading that article about public school, and the comments over at Holly's blog, bring back such awful memories. Well, here goes.

I was always a sensitive kid, and "old" for my age, but I was pretty well-adjusted, self-confident, and happy, until I started Kindergarten. The difference between what I thought school would be, compared to what it actually was, stole my confidence, and my voice. I am just now, at 31, finding what I lost twenty six years ago.

The first day of school, I was so excited. I just knew that I was going to make so many new friends, and learn about everything! I was finally going to learn multiplication, and how to write in cursive, and lots of other stuff so amazing, I couldn't even imagine it. After the first day, I was thinking [and may have actually said to my dad] "I waited all my life for THAT?!" From first grade on, at the beginning [and the end] of the school year, I mentally counted how many more years I had to be in that place. At six years old, eleven years was freakin' forever!

It was probably first grade when I had my first bout of depression. I don't think they knew kids could get depressed back in 1981, so it went untreated, and plagued me at least once a year, until I started Zoloft for post-partum depression after my son was born. It wasn't until after I felt better that I realized I had suffered from major depression for so long. I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if we'd figured it out earlier.

Anyway, I could read by the end of kindergarten [and may have been able to read before that. I know that I could write my letters and spell a few words before I started kindergarten, so maybe I could read, too.]

Things went off-kilter pretty quickly in first grade. My teacher was one of the prettiest ladies I'd ever seen, and I remember thinking that she would be the best teacher yet. She turned out to be the cruelest, screaming-est woman that ever walked the face of the earth. She yelled herself hoarse more than once at my class that year.

I remember one time, I hadn't had breakfast and I was starving. We were making some weird art project where we had to glue cereal [I think it was Kaboom] onto a piece of paper. She only gave us a small handful, and ordered us not to eat it. I glued mine onto my paper, but later, couldn't resis,t and ate the cereal off of it, glue and all. She yelled at me in front of the class, and made me feel horrible. I knew then that she hated me. [I did say I was sensitive. I would replay the scenes in my head of all the times she got mad at me that year, and sink further away.]

By the end of the school year, I had begun a pattern that would plague me all through school and into college. I was chronically late with homework, many times never turning it in at all. I just sat and daydreamed. I invented worlds and scenarios in my head that were way more interesting that the pathetic thing that was my life. I always passed my classes, though. The teachers would keep me in from recess until I got the crap done.

It helped that I was smart. But even though I knew how to read and had a vivid imagination, I rarely read stories that weren't assigned [with a million questions to answer afterward]. And I never wrote my imagined stories down.

On a few occasions, I would try to write a poem or short story. I got passing grades, but I wasn't one of the kids who got singled out for anything. If I was good at it, I wasn't good enough. I was shy, quiet, and invisible in elementary school, loud, obnoxious and not to be taken seriously in jr. high and high school, and no one knew who my parents were [it was a small school and the teacher's kids were always the 'darlings' of the class. My high school counselor was the mom of one of my classmates, and when it came time for scholarships, she made sure her daughter applied for all the right ones. When my turn came for the 'counseling session,' she handed me a scholarship application for the local community college and gave me no guidance in filling it out. Her daughter took the ACT (kinda like the SATs) three times to get a 30 out of 36 on it so she could get a 'bright flight scholarship.' I took it once and got a 27. When I asked the counselor if I needed to take it again, she said, "No, you did good enough." Never even offered me an application for any of the scholarships her daughter was going for. Sorry I ranted, that whole thing still pisses me off.]

Anyway, I may have sucked at writing when I was in school. Heaven knows I didn't really apply myself.

After high school, I went to college for a year on a pell grant [never did apply for a scholarship]. I took a couple of English classes, and maybe a creative writing class, but I just couldn't plug in. I still hated school, and college felt just like high school, only bigger. I applied for their one year LPN [nursing] program and got in the first time.

The first semester, I got a 4.0 just by listening in class. I hardly cracked a book. During the second semester, which fell during my yearly bout of 'recurrent major depression,' I didn't do my homework [clinical papers: boring busy work designed to show that you know what you're doing and why, but a royal pain in the ass and not the least bit creative or fun.] I had a natural feel for taking care of sick people, knew the stuff even if I wouldn't write it down, passed all my tests with a high B average, and got kicked out anyway for not doing my homework. That was pretty awful.

But, I was an avid reader of anything not school-oriented by the time I was in junior high. My mom always bought me these big sets of hardback books. Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women" series and several others she wrote was one set. L.M. Montgomery's "Anne of Green Gables" series was another. There was one set of 'classics,' that had "National Velvet by Enid Bagnold[which I never read] and several others. The only one of those I read was "I Am the Cheese," by Robert Cormier and that was because it was listed in some goofy teen magazine as River Phoenix's favorite book (see this entry for the explanation of River Phoenix, if you're interested) She also got me "Flowers in the Attic," by V.C. Andrews, but I am sure that she had no idea what that story was about. I think she saw the covers and they had kids on the front and thought, "I bet Shel would like those." It still makes me laugh, and if she ever read them, she was probably a little embarrassed.

I've been reading everything I can get my hands on ever since, but Anne Shirley and Jo March were always, and still are, my favorite characters of all time. I related to both of them so well. They were a little quirky, most people didn't understand them, and they were writers!

With those two stories, the tiniest germ of a dream began for me, hidden way back in the recesses of my brain. Buried away for centuries until one day [and I swear, I'm not making this up!] I was surfing the web, looking up writing links on a [not so much] whim. I found several sites, and one of them recommended Holly Lisle's Website. I followed the link, read all of the articles in a couple of days [the husband and kiddies weren't very happy with me!] and was hooked. I knew without a doubt that I needed to write.

I finally came to terms with my dream of being a writer, and began to believe that I could do this thing. It's been a rocky road so far, though [and I ain't talkin' ice cream, either]. I've had three false starts on three different novels, all with very different plots [and problems, the biggest of which has been my own inconsistency in committing my time and energy into just writing the stupid thing, even if it sucks.] But, I've taken inventory, which I'll talk about some other time, and found some characters, and the beginnings of a story line that I really like, and it's clamoring to be written. And so, I've begun again.

And this time, I will do it, 'come hell or high water.'

Okay, that's it. The grand saga leading up to the beginning of the story. I started blogging to get in the habit of writing every day. My entries aren't always Breathtaking Masterpieces of Spectacular Prose, [okay, I've never had one of those]. There are still typos in some of them [I blogged about that one day, and never got around to editing my other posts]. And, I'm sometimes boring, but dammit I'm writing! And that's what matters.

Okay, I'm done.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Too Tired To Blog...

Had a busy day. Sunday School+Church+Christmas Party for the Kids+Bible Study=on the go from 6:30am to 9:30pm with all three kids... I'm pooped. I'm goin' ta bed.


Saturday, December 10, 2005

40 Minutes and 13 Seconds Plus 14 Minutes and 27 Seconds Equals

1106 words on my novel. Working title: The Watson Kids Move to Hopeton.

I had hoped that by timing myself, I would be able to get around my constant need to second guess and revise as I go along [which prevents me from getting any words down at all]. I do believe it worked!!!

[hallelujah Chorus' plays in the background, followed closely by Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy']

Now I'm off to do something else... for forty minutes and thirteen seconds!!!

Woo hoo!!

Blog Ya Later, Dudes!

Forty Minutes, Thirteen Seconds and Counting...

That's how much time I'm giving myself to blog today. I made the kids lay down after lunch and I'm gonna write like crazy on this for 40 minutes and 13 seconds. Then I'm gonna write like crazy on my novel for, you guessed it, forty minutes and thirteen seconds.

Why forty minutes and thirteen seconds, you ask? Well, it's a rather mundane answer, but this is what it is. I pushed the wrong button by accident [hit the seconds button on the timer instead of the minutes button.] Yup. That's it. The magnificent secret behind the 40 minutes and 13 seconds.

I'm down to 38 minutes.

Okay, here's some dumb trivia for you. I read somewhere that Scientologists [what Tom Cruise is] believe that a delivery room should be completely quiet during a baby's birth to prevent undue stress on the baby. They also believe in no pain meds for mom during labor. Now here's the craziness of Tom Cruise that just cracks me up [and irritates the crap out of me].

He bought an ultrasound machine that he plans on using during Katie's pregnancy. I didn't read how often he plans on doing an ultrasound, but some research indicates that the baby can hear the ultrasound even though the sounds emitted cannot be heard by the mother or others in the room. In a five minute search, I found a few articles on this: here, here, and here are just a few, if you're interested.

Okay, now this is what annoys me about Mr. Cruise. Earlier this year, he blasted Brooke Shields about using antidepressants to treat her post-partum depression. He said that he knew all the history of these drugs and that they were dangerous and blah blah blah. And yet, in a five minute search of the internet, you can find half a million articles on whether ultrasound is safe for babies, whether they hear the ultrasound, etc.

Now granted, there are an equal number of articles saying ultrasound has negative effects on the baby [some say it can cause miscarriage in the first trimester, low birth weight, or premature labor], and articles that say that there is no known risk to mom or baby. I don't honestly know who's right, but it's pretty safe to say that the babies hear it.

Since Mr. Cruise believes that excess noise can traumatize a baby, and since he knows every thing there is to know about post-partum depression and how to treat it, and all the evils of antidepressant medications, you'd think he would have done some research on ultrasound procedures and potential risks to the baby [or the noise factor] before buying an ultrasound machine and using it on his own child.

Okay, they didn't say how often he plans on using the thing, but he bought it and put it in his house so 'he can keep an eye on the baby.' I think that's ridiculous.

And that, my friends, is my unasked for, and admittedly very biased opinion of Mr. Tom Cruise and the Ultrasound Machine.

Okay, I still have 20 minutes left, but I did pause it when I went searching for ultrasound stuff, so I'll sign off for now.

Blog Ya Later

Friday, December 09, 2005

An Interestng Evening

Okay, this is what I've been thinking about for months now, and I'm about to share it with you, dear friends.

Are you ready for this?

I don't know if I am or not.

Well, since I don't know how to do anything without jumping in with both feet, here goes.
I've been thinking a lot about other religious traditions and how they relate to me personally. I have tried to come at different religions with an open mind, but with a filter attached. The filter, of course, is the Bible.

I look at each belief, ritual or tradition and compare it to what the Bible says. If it is in direct conflict with what scripture says, I disregard it and move on to the next thing. If it is NOT in direct conflict with scripture, then I look at it and see if I can find a nugget of wisdom that I can use in my own life.

This is how I started experimenting with meditation, which has helped me to control my depression without medication [*note* this is anecdotal evidence only, I am NOT saying that everyone can cure their depression through meditation, but you could give it a try in addition to whatever you are currently doing.]

I think a lot of people tend to disregard and sometimes ridicule any and all religions besides their own, and in doing so, refuse to investigate, learn, or take seriously any traditions that come from other religions. This seems like a big mistake to me. I feel like all religions are a window to our Creator, albeit a warped and somewhat cloudy window [including Christianity]. I don't think any of us have it all right, but I do believe that Christianity holds a key that the other religions don't have.

That is Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior and the Key to a right relationship with God. That is the main difference between Christians and all the other religions. Christianity teaches that we aren't saved by what we do, but by believing that Jesus is the son of God and that he can save us from our own selfishness [sin].

By believing, we accept the gift of salvation and we are set free to live for a higher purpose. We are enabled to grow as close to God as we want to get. And, I believe, we are given a filter through which we can sift any theory, belief, or tradition that piques our interest.

My interests have a mystic bent to them, so I look into a lot of stuff that most people think is pure weirdness. I am fascinated by the 'supernatural' and by the power of the mind to affect every aspect of my life including [but not limited to] my physical health and wellbeing as well as my attitude about the things that occur in my life. What I think about matters and directly affects me in every way [and that's scriptural... what's that verse? 'Whatever is good... something something can't remember exactly something... think on these things.' Looks to me like God was saying focus on the good stuff, the important stuff, the positive stuff... because it matters.]

Some people look at the Bible as the only source for answers to every question or problem they have. While I agree that the Bible is an excellent resource and [aside from prayer] is my main source of wisdom for living, I am also willing to look into other religious or secular traditions for help.

God has used so many books by authors who aren't Christians to help me grow in Christ. I can't count the number of times I've been reading about positive thinking or meditation [or something else labeled 'weird' by my dearly beloved] and I suddenly remember a scripture that I've read a hundred times, but never got before.

Trying things that don't come specifically from Christian authors isn't for every one. To be honest, I haven't mentioned this to any of my Christian friends [until now *grin*] because I've worried that they would think I'm losing my faith, or becoming a freaky new-age-er or something equally as scary. It worries me what people will think, even as I write this. My own husband doesn't understand this particular quirk in my personality, either.

But I don't want to hide this anymore. Sometimes hiding the truth makes the secret a lot worse in your mind that it would be if you just told the world and got it out of your system. I'm kinda hoping that is the case here. I suppose I could be a heretic. But I doubt it. I love Jesus more than ever and not a day goes by that I don't thank Him for guiding me to things that will help me live a better life for Him.

I feel like I've rambled aimlessly, and haven't made much sense, but I'm posting this anyway. If anyone reads this and wants to comment, feel free.

Just click on comments at the bottom of this post and you should see a pop up where you can post. Friends who have my e-mail, let me know if it doesn't work and I'll try to tweak it again.

Blog ya later.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Great Blob of Blech

It's 11 degrees here, with about four inches of snow on the ground.

You ever notice how discouragement eats you up from the inside? I was just thinking that I'm feeling pretty discouraged for no apparent reason. The neck is still giving me fits, and I've been running a slight fever, which makes me achy and grumpy. That, coupled with the flexeril, is making for difficult times here at the homestead.

Some days I get depressed. It used to be a lot worse, though. I have struggled with severe depression off and on since I was five. I saw on TV today that depression is just anger turned inward. That sounds about right, I guess. I just know that whatever it is and whatever causes it, it sucks.

So, anyway, depression for me looks like this. The main way I know I'm beginning to feel worse is that I get angry and irritable, and yell at anyone who gets in my way. Then comes the guilt, which leads to more anger and sadness. After my first child was born, I fell into a pit of depression that lasted almost three years until my son was born. It was then that I began taking Zoloft.

I started feeling better almost immediately, but I chalked it up to relief that I was finally going to escape the constant hell I'd been living in for over three years. It was after I began taking Zoloft that I realized that depression had been a major part of my life since childhood. I had almost given up hope of ever feeling better, so when I finally did improve, I was terrified of going off my medicine.

When I got pregnant with my third child, I was worried that they would tell me I had to go off my meds, but the psychiatrist I was seeing said that I could stay on it, and that, if anything, my baby might be calmer and happier because of the meds. I don't think that came true, though.

Anyway, I stayed on Zoloft for about four and a half years. Last October, I finally decided it was time to try going without. I began to wean myself off it slowly. I was on a fairly high dose, so it took a while, but the side effects of trying to go cold turkey were awful, so I decreased gradually over a month or so until I could stop altogether.

Going off my antidepressant was pretty scary, but I wanted to try it and see what would happen. I knew that if I started falling out of control, I could always get back on it. Also, in all the years I had struggled with depression, I had never been so down that I had attempted suicide, so I wasn't worried about going off of it and then killing myself because of it. I just wanted to see if I could figure out a way to control my depression without medicine.

Being able to recognize my own symptoms before they got so out of control I couldn't function anymore was a HUGE help. I knew that if I got really grumpy, or wanted to go hide in a hole somewhere, that it was time for some intervention. I began reading self help books aimed at depression. We can't afford a psychiatrist, so I was on my own. I got several books on positive thinking, and then began looking into meditation, yoga, affirmations, anything that might help me reprogram my brain to be more positive.

The things I've learned that help me most are meditation and creative visualization. I have also learned to listen to my inner talk [that endless litany of statements that fill your mind even when you're not paying attention to them... if your self talk is mostly negative, then you have to stop yourself when you realize what's happening and re-program your mind to say positive things]. You wouldn't believe what hard work that is.

For some reason, my self talk was mostly about how I am not enough. Not good enough, not smart enough, creative enough, pretty enough, gifted, talented, etc. Not worthy of love or success or money. Well, it's an endless load of crap, but you get the idea.

Relaxation and meditation techniques have helped, because the goal is to quiet your mind as much as possible. That's freakin' hard! I can slow it down enough to control most of the destructive thoughts, but when I don't get a chance to meditate, my depression level skyrockets.

Which is why I'm this pathetic blob of self-loathing and blech you see before you today [imagine the blob of blech... go ahead, try it.] I think it's been at least a week since I've meditated, and it's amazing how different I feel right now compared to last week. My depression has been mostly under control since I went off my meds, and the only thing I've changed about myself is my self talk patterns. I consciously think positive thoughts [even if I don't mean them] and I meditate, which helps me slow down enough to hear what [lies] my internal voice is saying, which enables me to contradict her, and speak the truth.

Well, anyway, I'm going to go take a hot shower and soak my aching neck, then I'm gonna meditate and see if I can't get this depression thing under control again.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Search Begins

The Dr. gave me a prescription for muscle relaxant to see if it helps my neck. I've taken three since yesterday [every eight hours like the script says]. My muscles are relaxed, but my neck still feels stiff and really sore. It's getting really old. I'm grumpy and yelling at the kids a lot, so I feel like a horrible mother, too. Hubby gets home from work in an hour and I think I'm going to bed when he does.

I read a couple of articles [one is here] by evangelicals who don't like Brian McLaren's books [The Story We Find Ourselves In and A New Kind of Christian.] I guess I can see their points, they think he's a pluralist [some one who believes that there's more than one way to heaven, which, if your a Christian, is some pretty serious heresy.]

There are a few things about McLaren's books that I disagree with as well, such as the notion that there aren't any true miracles, and that Satan is more a 'concept' or force of evil than a person [or former angel]. I'm not saying I believe in the red pitchfork guy, but the concept of Satan and demons [as fallen angels] is one that I don't have a problem with. I think maybe it's a combination of an actual person and an opposing force to God's goodness.

But, in regards to pluralism, I'm still struggling with that. In the Bible, Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." That presents a problem with any view that says that all religions lead to God. Jesus said he is the only way to heaven, and that either makes him an egomaniacal fool, or God [and the only god with a bona fide way to heaven]. If he's not God, then I don't see how anyone can call him a great teacher. Usually when someone claims to be god, they end up in a home for crazy people.

But at the same time, I can't just disregard all the other religions in the world. The fact is, most religions come back to similar fundamentals. They refer to doing good things, becoming a good person, resisting evil, etc. So I'm having a hard time saying that if you belong to another religion that teaches goodness and fights against evil, you will definitely go to hell because you haven't accepted Jesus as your savior [that's Christian speak for becoming a follower of Jesus.]

Christianity teaches that you can never be good enough to go to heaven on your own power, because we're all selfish, and selfishness is pretty much the root of all sin. On an arbitrary level, that makes sense to me, until I start looking at individual people, and the things they do that are good, that are based on a desire to do good for others and not based on a desire to look good to others. I have a really hard time believing that those people will go to hell.

Some of this stuff may seem like a no-brainer to you, but this is what keeps me awake at night and makes me wonder if I'm losing my faith. I am coming from a very fundamentalist beginning to my faith and feel like I'm leaping off the edge of a cliff without a parachute. I have no idea where I'm going or where I'll end up. The main thing that I am clinging to is the verse that says, "you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." [Jeremiah 29:13?] I am seeking Him with all my heart, and I am finding Him, but this part of the search is pretty scary.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Six Days and Counting

Six days it's been that the back of my neck and shoulders have been stiff. It doesn't seem to be getting any better, either, which is really starting to piss me off. If it's not better by Wednesday [hubby's day off] I'm calling the doctor.

Okay, I lied. I got to looking up stiff neck on the good ole 'net, and things like meningitis kept popping up, so I called the doc and left a message. My temp is 99.3, but I am a little sensitive to light, and that's kinda freaking me out. Yeah, remember when I said the internet is great? I was wrong!! [not really, but you know how it is]

I may have the beginnings of medical paranoia going on, but just to be on the safe side, well, you get the picture.

Okay, that's all for now, but I'll keep you updated on my stiff neck.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Just a Few Words Before Sleep

Okay, I'm working toward a story idea for my fiction. Probably no one else on the planet has this much trouble with writing, but there you go. Part of me is wondering if I'm going in the wrong direction altogether. I don't know. But I'll keep trying to figure it out, I mean after all, what else do I have to do right now?

I only have a few minutes left. My week has been plagued by a horribly stiff/sore neck and I'm starting to think I need to go to the Doctor. I've slept wrong and gotten a stiff neck lots of times, but they only lasted a couple of days. This thing has lasted all week, and it's not getting any better. So, I took some medicine that should help relieve the pain, but also makes me sleepy.

I am reading a new book called A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren. I'm not quite ready to talk about this one [it is the first in the series that includes "The Story We Find Ourselves In," which I talked about [a lot].

My husband's work Christmas party was last night. We had fun. This whole weekend was insanely busy, and I was in pain the whole time, which kinda sucked. Anyway, my medicine is working and my fingers are starting to stutter, so I better go.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Busy, Busy, Busy

Yesterday was a crazy day. My son turned five, and we did the family party thing. The two year old was in bed by 7:30; she has a cold and was pretty grumpy for the birthday. George was off work, so the seven year old and I went to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Technically, she's too young for the movie, but she loves HP as much as I do and [we both] really wanted to see it. We tried to go with my mom on opening night, but it sold out and we couldn't stay for the second showing, which started at 10:30 that night. At two hours and 56 minutes, we weren't about to stay up until after one in the morning for any movie.

But, my daughter loved it, and in spite of being scared for part of it and complaining that it was too loud in the theater, we both had a great time. It was nice to get to spend some time alone with her, which is all too rare since she was three and my son was born.

Tonight, another couple, Hubby and I are going to a concert to see Steven Curtis Chapman and MercyMe in there Christmas tour. We are VERY excited about it. But anyway, there probably won't be time to blog tonight, and I have to get the kids packed to go to hubby's mom and sister's house for the weekend [yay, a house to ourselves for three days!!! Thanks MOM & SHARI!!!]

It's cold here, and freezing in my bedroom where the computer is [it's right next to a big sliding door... we REALLY need to winterize!] Anyway, I can't wait to talk about the new book I'm reading [that is, if I can find time to actually read the thing!]

'Kay, Bye!