Enough with the articles! (0r) 5 Reasons why all millennials aren’t coming back to the institutional church, as told by a reluctant millennial.

*disclaimer, I am not speaking here for my entire generation, just a lot of us.  I am also not telling you that your spirituality has to look like mine.

  1.  Historically, the institutional church has been on the side of evil over good. (inquisition, perpetuation of slavery and segregation).
    • We yearly see history repeating itself world wide….
  2. The doctrine of “grace”is happy to apply to “all”, even those predators that are running rampant throughout the pulpits.
    • We are not ok with another generation being sexually abused, exploited, indoctrinated, and shamed.
  3. The way the Bible is being interpreted and used as a bully pulpit is often in direct contradiction to what was actually being said in the original language and time.
    • Guys….we have the internet, we can study it on our own…..we don’t need some suited up dude trying to remember what some professor taught in their college doctrine courses….
    • Remember Martin Luther?
  4. Again, the internet……
    • We see all the elements of the institutional church that was “borrowed” wholesale from other religions…..be real y’all!!!  You don’t have to pretend this is all “God ordained…..” because when you preach that stuff right next to “thou shalt not lie….”   ya lost us……
  5. Why would anyone ever go to an organization, seeking spiritual honesty and vulnerability, when that organization has written and shared more “crap” about that group of people?
    • You see, we are starting our groups of spirituality.  There are small groups, book groups, home groups, etc.

The thing is, we are thriving spiritually, just not in the way that makes sense to you!

 

Real Housewives of West Virginia (RHoWV)

“life’s a bitch, but you don’t have to be!”

Dear Andy Cohen, 

 I have carefully been considering what my tagline would be if you ever wanted to do a REAL Real Housewives show. (Like really real!)

Like really real when a 60 foot gyser erupts in your front yard, your refrigerator and hot water tank die in the same week.

Like really real when you put your creditors name in the phone so you can say “hey Bob! Sorry, it is really tight this month…you are gonna have to keep calling.” Sorry man.

Like really real when you have to decide between taking a day off because you can’t get out of bed or forgoing a day’s pay. 

Like really real when you realize you left your coffee cup on the roof of your car and it made it all the way down the road, only to fall through your sun roof (cough rust roof cough cough) and douse you in sticky Carmel / hazelnut sweat to coat your day and your spirits.

Life is seriously the biggest bitch I have ever met, so be kind. Help a sister out. Let’s do a Dave Chapelle version of the Real Housewives and get really real!  

“life’s a bitch, but you don’t have to be!”

Honesty

Today I am teaching Family Studies and students were asked to write an essay on a time  they experienced the consequences of honesty….I was reminded of that time …. we all have that time….

We all know that person that is just “too honest” but I am not talking about the “that dress makes you look fat” kind of honesty. I am talking about the kind that is good intentioned and somehow, unintentionally, bites you in the arse.

It was 8th grade and three months in, I was still known as “virgin ears.”  After spending the last eight years home-schooled, sheltered, and naive I had become the “goody-two-shoes” of the private christian school I had just begun attending.  I entered Mrs. Thompson’s history class and we had a sub.  As I entered I saw Leigh Blair go through the ceiling tile, jump across a desk, and elbow drop Jim Ashely.  I had to get help!

Running to the office, asking for a teacher, I felt so proud of my honesty and desire to do the right thing.  That night, as I recounted the event to my mom, the horror on her face was lost on me.  Weeks later, as I was getting relentlessly teased, the effects of my honesty was still lost on me.  Today, as I witness “that kid,” I cringe, finally aware of honesty’s effects.

Better late than never.

Ten ways to say I care: An open letter to those who love someone with an invisible illness. 

We all know that hypochondriac. That is not who this letter is about.   It is not easy to watch a loved one suffer, even more difficult when you just don’t understand. To often our fear and lack of understanding can build. As a woman, fortunate enough to have lived on both of sides of this, I feel I have unique perspective and advice to offer.

1. Only ask how a person is, when you truly feel like hearing how they are doing. It is exhausting to truly listen and understand about someone’s life with chronic illness. We can only begin to imagine how exhausting it is to actually live it. When you are not up to it, It is ok NOT to ask how someone is doing! Truly understanding what a life, prognosis, treatment, etc is like will often leave the listener feeling sad, confused, and wholly having no clue what to say. It is ok if you aren’t emotionally up to talking about it. Quite often the person living it is not up to talking about it either. But when you can, when you have the heart, time, and stomach to ask and listen, that asking and true listening will mean more than words can express. 

2. Instead of telling them how good they look, tell them how glad you are to see them. Invisible illness is just that. Invisible. You rarely see the scars physical, mental, or emotional. This makes it difficult for people living with these diseases. They are daily fighting for their futures, their lives and some manner of normalcy. If a person with an invisible illness is out and with you, then something else in their life has been placed in the back burner. You are a priority to them. The fact that they are with you in that moment is huge. Dinner wasn’t cooked, laundry wasn’t done, and they may pay for it for days. A simple “thank you for being here” means that you appreciate how much their effort took and what it says about their love for you! 

3. These are proud people. They don’t want you to see their scars. The saddest part of invisible illness is it seems to strike those who are passionate in their lives and careers. They are marathon runners, doctors, nurses, therapists, business developers, mountain climbers, and more. If you are seeing them, it is because they really want you to. It is a GOOD day. Which is horrifyingly strange phenomenon when a good day used to constitute kicking butt and taking names like no ones business. Everyday is like learning to live again, as the rectify the life they now have to the dreams for the one they used to live. 

4. Answers aren’t easy and cures rarely exist. Like many diseases, invisible illness ones can be convoluted, political, and are ALWAYS desperately under-researched. Without proper understanding, funding, research, and medical information a cure will never be possible. Instead of suggesting treatments, telling anecdotal stories, etc, read the research available about the illness your loved one is facing. 

5. These illnesses can be fatal. While not everyone who experiences invisible illness will die, some do. We have all know that one person who dropped dead one day looking so healthy and vibrant the day before. Silent, invisible killers like Heart, Chrone’s or Lyme disease, endometriosis, depression, PTSD and others are real and demand our attention before they take more loved ones.

Living with invisible illness leaves the sufferer as well as their support system depleted, confused, scared, and on edge. We are often left wondering what can we do? 

  1. Ask how someone is, but only when you can listen. 
  2. Offering someone with invisible illness a meal is like the biggest hug in the world and winning the lottery. It gives you time, energy, healing nutrients, and the feeling that someone gets it! Healthy food makes all the difference. Not only is this a great way to support them but also their caregivers. 
  3. Understand when they can’t follow through on plans. Invisible illness may follow a pattern but is rarely predictable.
  4. Check on their care givers! Remind them they are human to. They spend their lives steeped in medical terminology, crushing diagnosis’s, and emotional upheaval. They need a break! They need to know someone is caring for their loved one so that they CAN take a break. 
  5. Be private with the information they share with you. Do NOT share their medical issues. They are not yours to share. Most of those who suffer from this disease are proud, and while they are desperate for someone to understand what they are facing, they do not need the world to know their embarrassing, exhausting medical issues. Show your support through sending positivity and prayers, listening, providing a meal, or a laugh.
  6. If you work in a place that allows sick leave donation, and you are able to do this, this not only provides a paycheck, access to insurance, and peace of mind. I was so blessed to have weeks!!! WEEKS 😍donated to me by my fellow teachers. This was the difference between paying bills and not paying bills. Treatments for these illnesses are very expensive and rarely are covered appropriately by insurance. 
  7. Take an activity to them, if they are up to it!  Tea time conversations or a movie can be great ways to provide distraction. Just remember not to overstay your welcome.  Visiting takes healing energy as well as giving it. 

My ‘uterus’ is bigger than your ‘uterus’

*Trigger warning: language

Killer Mike’s restatement of a tired and used mantra that “a uterus doesn’t qualify you to be President of the United States” brings up a valid point. Hillary’s uterus makes her no more or less qualified to be President of the United States than any other candidates’ scrotums automatically qualifies them for the office of POTUS.

We, as woman, have got to stop being offended by vocabulary terms. If anything, we should be offend by a culture that prizes pricks as the “have all, end all” of sex organs and all things representative of STRENGTH!

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This whole living in the moment thing…

I was supposed to go back to work this week but Martin Luther King Jr., winter storm Jonas, and forgotten doctors appointments have conspired against me … or for me as the case may be.

Tuesday morning, she almost said “mama” and that was supposed to be my first day back.

My dad, generously, had promised to be here to spend the whole day with her on my first day, so that I didn’t have to take her to day care AND be away for 8 hours simultaneously.

I am lucky.  She would have been with my dad.

But, instead, she was with me when she tried to form the word over and over again, not quite able to force the sound out from behind those perfect pursed lips.

I am TRULY lucky.

The money I could have earned that day would have been AMAZING, especially considering our refrigerator chose this week to stop working, but the reward of seeing her try to form her first words was worth more.

Today I am thankful for coolers, back up refrigerators, neighbors, slow cookers, first words, living in the moment and snow days.

Currently listening to Jon Bellion “ooh” courtesy of my amazing little brother who is teaching me to follow my dreams.

My very Lyme pregnancy part 2: a day in the life.

(Read Part 1 Here)

“Wash—blaaaaaa-cough cough-CLOTH.” I manage to get out between heaves.

Was it 2 yet? Had I kept my meds down long enough for them to be effective? 

Shivering, sweating, shaking, voiding everything from my body, it was just another day. It could have as easily been 2pm as 2am. The only way I knew what time it was depended on Sam’s location. If he was home it was the evening. If he was gone it was the day.

Slap! The cold washcloth hits my back as I grasp the trash can in front of me.

“Can I get you anything?”, says a discouraged and sleepy Sam.

Shit, I woke him up again.  I need anything to make me stop vomiting, shaking, dry heaving.

“Can you load something and start the bath?” I ask in between gags, gasps, gurgles.

An hour later, body warmed and calmed, the dry heaving over, the shaking subsiding, it is time for meds round two.

“You should really try to eat something. You haven’t kept food down in at least 12 hours or so.”

Fine. I attempt some saltines and ginger ale. It’s a crap shoot. Sam’s attempt to make sure he doesn’t find me passed out on the floor when he gets home for lunch.

~~~~~~

I had gone in a family medical leave of absence a few days before. There was no point. I could barely get out of bed by myself and had long ago run through my time off.

Was it Lyme? Babesia? Bartonella? Morning sickness? Who the hell knew.

I began an epic few months of seeking distraction from my body and a connection to my baby.  I would lay motionless for hours, trying hypnosis, meditation, acupressure, massage, yoga, meds. Name it and I tried it, desperate to carry this pregnancy to term.

Early on, I read that morning sickness had been linked (in one study) to women who had disease or toxicity in their body that could harm their fetus. The researches surmised that the morning sickness was the body’s way of ridding itself of anything harmful to the baby.  As unconfirmed as it was, I held onto this idea in my moments of deepest despair and frustration, praying that this was the thing  protecting her from this insidious disease. (I was watching my sister begin PICC line antibiotic treatment for her own disease).

Each day was a battle to get down at least 1/2 of my necessary medicine and as many calories as possible.  After I threw up the one thing I could eat from each restaurant in our incredibly small town, this became even more difficult.

Now, there were some good days; almost 3 weeks worth of days I was able to make it out of the house, to sit outside, or see a friend or sibling. Those days were magic. There were even 4 days were I attempted to start the school year before suffering an epic crash that started the kidney stone gauntlet!!!!

All in all, over my 9th month of pregnancy I passed almost 20 kidney stones (7 in one week). For the stone the size of a pinky nail, I had to go to the hospital to get IVs. I hadn’t kept fluids down in more than 24 hours from the pain.

As my due date drew closer, I got more and more excited. I expected her every day! The Braxton hicks started regularly at week 36 and continued every day until I delivered. My stamina was quickly wearing out.

I was so thankful for this pregnancy but had never been more exhausted and sick in my life.

Let the labor dance began! Dance I did. Every day I danced. I danced to The Roots (favorite); I danced to The Avett Brothers;  I danced to old school hip hop! Come on baby!!! Famished, I would only make it for a minute or two at a time, collapsing happy for a stronger a contraction and literally willing her here with every fiber of my being, hoping desperately I would not be sick once she was born.

I stayed on antibiotics throughout the course of the pregnancy in hopes of keeping the Lyme from passing to Arden. I was so sick I wasn’t thinking clearly.  But we made it we made it to due date and then we made it pass the due date.

I was beyond ready (as any 41 week pregnant woman can attest to).