Crazy busy

I’ve been crazy busy this week preparing for Christy’s baby shower. I’m trying to pace myself so I don’t completely overdo it and end up useless by Saturday.

I did the grocery shopping for the shower today. One of the games we’re playing is “Guess the Poo”, wherein melted candy is placed inside a diaper, and then people guess which candy it is. It was done to me at my shower. Payback is awesome! Of course, to play the game, it meant buying several candy bars at the store. So, here’s the fat girl, leaning over with butt in the air, grabbing 8 candy bars. That was fun. Especially when I ran into someone I know.

A post about the shower will be up soon after the party. Until then, I offer up some party crafting and Rachael cuteness to tide you over.

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Party decor doubles as a gift for baby boy’s nursery.

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Rachael wanted to make a card for Christy and Mark. It’s a picture of a baby under a star mobile and a bunch of hearts. She asked me to spell the words out so she could write, “Your baby is special.”

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And now these three remain

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Hylton Memorial Chapel was filled with hundreds of teens. I sit here and try to remember why so many church youth were gathered there. It may have been a speaker, but I think it was a Newsboys concert.
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At the end of the concert, the house lights came up a little, music played softly in the background, and an altar call was made. My friend, Kelly, whom I had invited, wanted to answer the call and asked if I would go with her. Surprised by her response, I agreed. We walked forward, ears still ringing from the loud music, and were paired with a young woman whose job it was to walk youths through committing their lives to Christ. As it turned out, Kelly was already Catholic, but wanted to reaffirm her faith. And since, in my experience, Catholicism wasn’t counted as good as evangelicalism, this was just as good as a conversion. The woman pulled out the go to tool of many an evangelizing Christian: a tract.
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gospeltract.org If you have five minutes, go to the website and see all the tracts they have for sale. It’s hysterical!

I don’t remember exactly what the tract said. But I do remember a cheesy and disturbing comic about a man who was just going along with the world and not making the right choices in life. He ends up on a train or in a mining car or something, heading straight into the fires of hell. I. was. mortified. I desperately wanted to distract Kelly with something shiny or ice cream, but we finished and then prayed “the prayer”.

This was the evangelical subculture in which I grew up. It parlayed dramatic conversion stories into more conversions. It used social pressure to coax knees to the altar. It co-opted secular culture for music and merchandising in order to appear “cool”, rather than creating something original. Scare tactics, like demonic possession and eternal hellfire, prevented depletion of the ranks. Men were leaders and women were helpers. One’s sexuality and sexual behaviors were of utmost importance.
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People who weren’t virgins on their wedding nights were damaged goods who owed their spouses explanations. Girls who weren’t covered up enough led boys into temptation. I remember once, in elementary school, my church’s pastor lecturing and shaming me for having pulled down my pants while inside his daughter’s playhouse. You see, my body was created by God and shouldn’t be exposed that way. His daughter had told on me…right after she had pressured and dared me to do it in the first place. Homosexuality was a “lifestyle choice” caused by sexual abuse and poor parenting. One sexuality conference our youth group attended turned out to be a speaker from Exodus Ministries who “used” to be gay, but was totally “straight” now. Music, games, fellowship, and atmosphere allowed substance to be traded for style.

It wasn’t until I left for college that the trance I had been in was fully broken. Over time, I came to realize how shallow my faith was and just how much the pile of evangelical bullshit stank. I learned more about scripture and biblical history and scholarship in my secular college classes on the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Letters of Paul. My journey has led me to a place of “I don’t know”, which I’ve described as agnosticism. When I made that admission, I was worried how my conservative evangelical family would react, especially my mom. I was almost certain that she would tell me how much I was breaking her heart and God’s heart. But nothing happened.

Finally, this past Monday, my mom talked to me about it. She began by saying that between my blog and Facebook activity, it was pretty clear that my beliefs were different from what she thought they were. As she built to the emotional bomb she was about to drop, I tried to remain stoic. I had no interest in letting myself become vulnerable or getting into an unwinnable argument. As last, she said it: I don’t blame you.

Wait. What?

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In fact, she was glad that I had turned away from the faith of my childhood. It wasn’t the real thing. She explained that, like me, she was learning to make her faith her own. It wasn’t all the little things that mattered; not the “rules”, what everyone else was doing, or having the right answers.
The more she and I talked, the less I was able to hold back my tears. And then, the gasps came, deep from within my chest and my soul. As I ugly cried and disposed of crumpled tissues, I was able to allow for some healing. Bitterness was eased by some understanding. As the pain I carried with me was validated, I began to let it go.

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And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
~1st Corinthians 13

He’s a keeper!

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My relationship with, and eventual marriage to, Mike did not come quickly and easily. I first met him when my roommate, Martha, had him come to our apartment to fix my computer. From that night, we had a friendship and chemistry. We tried dating a couple of times, each ending in disaster. Fortunately, we still maintained a quirky and close friendship.

Mike has been different from every other guy. In addition to being kind, he’s sensitive, funny, and smart. We understand each other in ways that no one else does. We often joke that it’s good we found each other because no one else would put up with us. Like me, he has his own faults. But he is someone I hope my girls look to when they decide who’s good enough to spend their lives with.

If he spontaneously dances with you in the kitchen…he’s a keeper, ladies.

If he can come up with the same lame joke you’re thinking…he’s a keeper, ladies.

If he is willing to share in the household duties without complaint…he’s a keeper, ladies.

If he does some of those duties without having to be asked…he’s a keeper, ladies.

If he thinks it’s cute that you giggled a little at the word “duty”…he’s a keeper, ladies.

If he spends his birthday with you in a hospital waiting room because you don’t want to go alone to your first MRI…he’s a keeper, ladies.

If he will get up and take care of your baby during the night without complaint…he’s a keeper, ladies.

If he will bring you Sprite and saltines when you’re not even dating because you are unbelievably hung over…he’s a keeper, ladies.

If he encourages you in your own dreams and ambitions…he’s a keeper ladies.

If he doesn’t make you feel like you need to be someone other than yourself…he’s a keeper, ladies.

If he treats you with respect, and not as a sex object…he’s a keeper, ladies.

If he doesn’t understand why you don’t want to share dessert…keep looking. I’m sure there’s someone out there who’s perfect for you.

Potions and snake oil

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Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS are syndromes that vary in symptoms and experiences. This makes it difficult to treat. There is no magic bullet which will cure everyone. For some, medication and mild exercise is enough. For others, going gluten free makes a dramatic difference in the pain and fatigue they experience. Then there are people for whom no interventions make a bit of difference.

As I scrolled through my Twitter feed this morning, I came across a couple of links which touted success stories with different types of treatment options. I’ve seen vitamin blends which are supposed to fix your fatigue levels. I don’t know that I fully buy into that, but I at least appreciate that it tells you to consult your doctor. (And Vitamin D on its own does boost my energy.) What bothered me about the treatment I saw today, (I stopped after one because I became annoyed) was that it reels you in with the promise of hope and then, BAM! That’ll be a shitload of money for the cure, please. It feels very snake oil salesman-y.

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I understand people need to make a living, but it stinks of bullshit to supposedly have this miracle cure that you used to heal yourself. And you’re willing to share it…for a price. Maybe this isn’t fair of me, but it just rubs me the wrong way.

That was badass!….for a girl

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“So, why do you write these strong female characters?”
“Because you’re still asking me that question.”
~Joss Whedon

I never really noticed just now sexist and misogynistic the world could be until a few years ago. But once I saw it, like a disgusting, hairy mole on someone’s face, it became impossible not to notice. And I couldn’t look away. I’ve noticed it everywhere: television; news; the legal system; politics; religion. So pervasive is the male gaze and patriarchy, that it is still a fundamental part of our culture. Some of it is blatant, like slut shaming women for wanting access to birth control as a part of health care. Some of it is subtle, like the roles available to women in tv and movies. The past few days, I’ve particularly noticed it at the Sochi Olympics and in its coverage.

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Photo credit Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

For the first time, women are allowed, (I cringe as I write that word) to compete in ski jumping. The reason for not allowing Olympic-level competition before? Medical reasons. Translation: women are frail and the landing will damage their baby bucket. So, while it’s been okay for men to jump, even though even 3-time Olympic champions have catastrophic accidents, there is serious concern for women because uteruses. I’m not even going to waste my energy arguing why this is sexist and fundamentally stupid! Although, I must concede, the logic is outstanding. Clearly, the internal sex organs of a woman are way more vulnerable than the external ones of a man. Of course, even though women are allowed to jump now, nothing’s perfect. Women are only allowed to use the regular jump, while the men may use both the regular and super jumps. I do appreciate Russian ski jumping coach, Alexander Arefyev’s, take on the matter.

“I admit, I do not advocate women’s ski jumping. It is quite heavy and traumatic sport. If a man were seriously injured, it is not fatal, but for all women may end up far worse. If I had a daughter, never would give in jumping — it’s too hard work. Women have a different purpose — to have children, do housework, to create a family home.”

At least he’s honest.

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Image credit REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

I think most sports involving snow and ice are fucking crazy.

Oh, here is some snow on a really steep mountain. You know what would be a really good idea? Going to the top, strapping metal planks to my feet, and racing at breakneck speed to the bottom! What could possibly go wrong?

Ooh! Ooh! Let’s race down a twisty track made of solid ice at 80 mph. Dude! Even better? Let’s do it head first!

Snowboarding is no exception. My stomach churned as I watched men’s and women’s slope style and halfpipe competitions. With all the tricks, rotating and flipping upside down, is it any wonder that snowboarders have to be so naturally, (or, you know, herbally enhanced) chill?
I was so excited to see what Jamie Anderson could do, as I knew she was the favorite for gold in slope style. As the male announcers described her, I heard them say this: She’s the female Shaun White. Now, I know there wasn’t any bad intention in that comment. On the surface, it’s just the announcers trying to explain how good she is to the home audience. But underneath the comment, we see how male-centric, (especially in sports) our culture is. Rather than simply touting her own accomplishments and what she can do, they compare her to a man. Very rarely do you hear something like, Shaun White is the male Jamie Anderson. In this case, if that were true, White would also be leaving Sochi with a gold medal.

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I’d like to clear something up for the male announcers. The women who are competing are strong, courageous, and determined. The women. Not girls. Women. It aggravated me to no end that, as I watched Erin Hamlin, Kate Hansen, and other lugers show off their general badassery, one of the announcers kept referring to them as girls. There isn’t a chance that they would refer to the men as boys. Again, I doubt their comments were meant to have a pejorative quality. But by calling these women girls, it diminishes them as women and undermines their accomplishments. Suddenly they are no longer equal to their male counterparts.

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Finally, Erin Hamlin’s teammate, Kate Hansen, was criticized by male announcer and former luger, Duncan Kennedy, because her warm up was dancing.

“I would like to see something more sport-specific out of her.”

Now, maybe if a male luger had been popping and locking his way into America’s hearts, he would have said the same thing. I don’t know. What I do know for sure, is that his comment reveals that he clearly hates joy.
Enjoy the groove.

This blog post was tweeted by Rachel Held Evans after I finished my draft of this post. I don’t feel like commenting on it, other than to say, it will make you sad and laugh hysterically all at the same time. The author has found a lesson in patriarchy in Olympic figure skating pairs. And no, it’s not a joke.

“That’s a dealbreaker, ladies!”

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I think Rachael may have her first schoolgirl crush. We spent a couple of hours writing out valentines yesterday. When we came to a particular boy on the list, Rachael suddenly decided to make her name extra fancy by drawing little curls on the ends of each of her letters. Her demeanor changed, and so I asked her if she liked this boy. She very coyly said no, and continued talking about him in a high pitched, airy voice. Both Mike and I think it’s cute, although Mike may be melting down over his little girl a tiny bit.
This made me start thinking about all the things I learned in my relationships along the way and what I would pass on to my girls. I will definitely tell them things like: don’t say I love you after having only dated a week; make sure your life is fulfilling and interesting without a relationship; “friends with benefits” never works out…NEVER; if he’s mean to you, it doesn’t mean he likes you. It means he’s an ass. I was a hot mess in college when it came to relationships. It was only in hindsight that I realized there were so many deal breakers in the relationships I had. Hopefully, passing along these deal breakers to my girls will help them avoid the same pitfalls and what Liz Lemon calls sexually transmitted crazy mouth.

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If he borrows a book, “gives it to someone else”, and refuses to replace it when it’s lostthat’s a dealbreaker, ladies.

If he only calls or texts when he’s bored or has nothing better to dothat’s a dealbreaker, ladies.

If he doesn’t stand up for you when his roommates are talking shit about you in the next roomthat’s a dealbreaker, ladies.

If he thinks tuning in Tokyo is hilarious, especially after you’ve asked him to stopthat’s a dealbreaker, ladies.

If he starts criticizing what you’re eating because you’re starting to get a bit chubbythat’s a dealbreaker, ladies.

If he is a racist alcoholic. You’re not going to change him. Just….no.that’s a dealbreaker, ladies.

If he talks about nothing but himself and how awesome he isthat’s a dealbreaker, ladies.

If he tells you he tried to stab his brotherthat’s a dealbreaker, ladies.

If he tells you to get out right after you tell him you love himthat’s a dealbreaker, ladies.
(No, that was not the one week “I love you”.)

If he yells that you don’t trust him because you don’t want to take a shot of Jäger medicinallythat’s a dealbreaker, ladies.

If you are pretty sure that he if just one step away from being that guy who makes out with or dry humps his carthat’s a dealbreaker, ladies.

If he doesn’t want to be seen with you in publicthat’s a dealbreaker, ladies.

So, what sort of deal breakers will you share with your kids to save them from being hot messes?