Monday, June 12, 2017

Liar! Li-errr!!!

I've been doing a lot of lying to myself lately.

Mainly, about how "no one likes me and no one tells the truth."

I dealt with a lot of bullying growing up, and even now, it's very easy for me to project onto people what I think they're thinking about me.  It is so easy for me to think that "no one likes me" when the truth is, plenty of people like me and the vast majority of the world's population doesn't even know or care that I exist. 😊  It is true that there are probably people who don't like me.  In saying that, I'm just stating a fact:  there's no one in this world who is liked by everyone.  Even Jesus was hated by a lot of people.  He still is.

It's also not true that everyone lies.  I do think it's more difficult in this day and age of "fake news" and information overload to determine exactly what truth is.  And while I don't want to be paranoid, I do think that a healthy skepticism is called for.

I asked the question "Am I wrong?" in this last blog entry.  There's things I don't think I'm wrong about.  I believe there is a God, and I believe the Bible reveals Him.  And I do believe Jesus when he says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father except through me."  (Just a few verses later, Pilate asked, "What is truth?"  He didn't realize truth was standing in front of him.)

In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul calls on Timothy to, among other things, "correctly handle" the word of truth.  I grew up with the King James Version, which translated this verse as "rightly dividing the word of truth".  Much of my frustration with "who's right?" revolves around whether or not the Bible is "correctly handled".  This is what I mean when I talk about everyone being able to "prove" they are right by Scripture, but coming out with diametrically opposed conclusions.

In Acts 17, a group of people in Berea were called "noble" because they examined the Scriptures to see if a fellow named Paul was handling them accurately.  It's possible, since we are different people, to come to differing opinions on matters.  Even Paul, in the books of Romans and I Corinthians, addressed matters such as whether or not to marry and eating meat offered to idols, acknowledging that different believers would believe different things on such matters, and that believers should respect the opinions of others.

He did, however, hold firm to certain bedrock truths:  that Jesus was the Son of God, that salvation was not by works of the law but through faith, that Christ had indeed been raised from the dead.  And plenty of people hated him, too.

I am such a people-pleaser at times that it's not even funny.  I care a great deal about "what people think of me" and too many times, that just leads me to a lot of turmoil.  I don't want to use "not being a people-pleaser" as an excuse to be rude, arrogant, and uncaring.  But I don't want to be so wound up in "what people think" that I have no convictions about anything.

Right now, I think the best course of action is to recognize where I've been lying to myself and ask God to steer me towards the truth.

In the meantime, here's a funny note to end on, from The Princess Bride:

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Am I wrong?

It's probably no secret to the small handful of readers of this blog that I'm dealing with a crisis.

So I'll just make it public:

I'm dealing with a crisis.

I'm not doing too well in this "brave new world" of sexual fluidity, fake news, alternative facts, and other things.  In this blog entry, and in this blog entry, I've shared plenty of my frustrations, especially about religion.

I am just officially stuck.  I think it would be bad enough if I were only dealing with faith issues, or if I were only dealing with current events, or if I were only dealing with past bullying issues, or if I were only dealing with a young adult with autism, or if I were only dealing with my mother's health.  (And she lives in another state, in assisted living, and it's my sister that does the hands-on stuff with her.  I just sit and worry.  My sister has much more on her plate concerning our mother than I do.)

But I am dealing with them all at once.

For the well-meaning people that advise me to "stop listening to the news":  I don't sit in front of the TV and binge out on Fox or CNN or our local news stations.  I DO check headlines, and I DO listen to "three things to know to get your day started" from Kevin & Taylor of 104.7 The Fish.  I DO get news updates from news apps, which consist of two local TV stations, one local radio station, CNN, Associated Press, and BBC.  I read the comics and glance at the headlines from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  I keep the local news mainly for traffic (and in Atlanta, knowing the traffic at any given moment is an absolute necessity.)  I think it's very naive to totally ignore the news.

The frustration I have is when news is discussed.  I have a filter on Facebook, FB Purity, which filters out certain words I tell it to filter.  And even that doesn't catch everything.

I've just about given up pointing out false or satirical links on Facebook that people think are true, because people usually don't listen.  They WANT their fake news to be true, whether it be Obama being born in Kenya or FEMA building camps to put dissenters into.

As much as I would like to support this current President, I worry that he doesn't know what he's doing.  On the other hand, I also believe there are some in the media that WANT him to fail.  They WANT him to resign.  Then they will want President Pence to resign.  They will not stop until they get the people THEY want in the White House and in Congress, and they do not care if it hurts people.

I'm white.  I'm mostly conservative.  I'm female.  I'm Christian.  I'm straight.  And I feel like a criminal.  No matter what opinions I may hold on a particular subject, if someone disagrees with me, I feel as if I am the one who has to change.  I am the one that has to listen and understand, but I don't often feel as if I get the same courtesy.

With the Bible, it seems that everyone can "prove" through Scripture that they are right.  And when conclusions from the Bible are diametrically opposed to each other, they cannot all be right.

So am I wrong?  Am I wrong about what I believe?

I did believe, as a child, that one could "pray the prayer" and ask Jesus to come into my heart.  I even did that when I was about seven or eight years old.  Then I ran into people who showed me Scripture about the necessity of baptism.  I'd been baptized when I was about eight, but "according to Scripture" I hadn't done it for the right reasons.  So I did it again.

I understand that baptism is by immersion for the forgiveness of sins.

Am I wrong?

I understood the definition of "sexual immorality" as being "you do not have sex with anyone until the minister pronounces you man and wife.  Then, you only have sex with the person you are married to."

Am I wrong?

I understood that having sex with anyone of the same sex is a sin, and that marriage is only between one man and one woman.

Am I wrong?

I'm starting to think that people who believe women can preach may have a valid point.

Am I wrong?

I thought that there was such a thing as the rapture (see the Left Behind series).  Then I learned that that particular doctrine may not necessarily be true, that while there will be a Second Coming and a judgment, the belief of a seven-year tribulation may not be true.  Then, I heard of people who believe, and can "prove" from Scripture, that the Second Coming happened in 70 AD with the destruction of the Jewish temple.

Am I wrong?

I have been told to "forget what the Bible says and just look at the teachings of Jesus."  These days, though, that's often code for "Jesus didn't say anything about homosexuality, so he must be okay with it or at least not really care about it."

Am I wrong?

I was under the impression that the news media was supposed to report the facts and let people make up their own minds about the story they are reporting, and if they are offering their opinion, it was supposed to be clearly labeled "opinion".

Am I wrong?

I truly and honestly do not know what I believe anymore.

Or what I am supposed to believe.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

June 20th can't come soon enough!

One of my FB friends recently posted that he was not going to listen to 104.7 The Fish, one of our local Christian radio stations, until after June 20th because, contrary to its slogan, it was running ads that were not "safe for the whole family."

The ads?

Political ads.

Right now, Georgia's 6th Congressional district is holding a special runoff election.  Their previous Congressional representative, Tom Price, was appointed Secretary of Health and Human Services. When he accepted the offer, he vacated the Congressional seat, thus requiring a special election.

Already, we in Atlanta have been inundated--make that, saturated--with political ads that rival the nastiness shown during the Presidential election.  On April 18th, voters in the 6th Congressional District went to the polls to choose between 18 candidates of various political persuasions.  None of them gained over 50% of the vote, so now, we have to go through a runoff election between the top two candidates.  Jon Ossoff represents the Democrats; Karen Handel, the Republicans.  The runoff election is June 20th.

I don't live in the 6th Congressional District, therefore, I don't have to worry about who I'm going to vote for.  However, because I live in the Atlanta area, and because the 6th District is in Atlanta, I have to put up with the daily barrage of political ads accusing Jon Ossoff of being a liberal who will "rubber-stamp Nancy Pelosi's liberal agenda" and Karen Handel of being more than willing to spend taxpayer's money.  As of the beginning of May, this election stands as the most expensive Congressional election in history.

The FB friend who complained about the ads on The Fish said that his three-year-old behaved better than the people who made the ads.  I'd say that most three-year-olds behaved better than the ad makers!

I do listen to The Fish in the mornings, mainly because I enjoy their morning show.  This morning, the following (paraphrased by me) statement caught my attention:  "The following is a political ad that we are required by law to run.  The views expressed by these ads are not necessarily those of the management of this station or its owner.  Trust us, June 20th can't come soon enough!"

I did a little bit of research, and found out that the law does require stations to run all Federal political ads.  I'm assuming that the current Congressional race falls under Federal politics.  So The Fish doesn't have a choice.  Even though the people making political ads are behaving at the level of three-year-olds (which is rather insulting to your average three-year-old), if it deals with Federal elections, it has to go on the air.

If you don't like the ads, your only two alternatives are to stop listening to The Fish, which is what my FB friend did; or ignore the ads by turning down the volume or removing your earbuds or headphones, which is what I did this morning.

We both agree with The Fish, and probably with the entire metro Atlanta area:

June 20th can't come soon enough!

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

No tears, but plenty of pride

Last night I didn't cry.

I even brought Kleenex just to make sure I'd have some if I did cry.

But I didn't cry.

Instead, I felt a tremendous amount of pride.

Somewhere between 9 and 9:45 p.m. last night, my son became a high school graduate.

He officially received a "certificate of achievement." He will not receive a diploma until he finishes the STRIVE program, which he'll begin in August.

He marched into the stadium along with about 600 other graduates of Parkview High School.  They came in wearing their blue-and-white robes and caps with tassels in the Parkview colors of orange, blue, and white, while a recorded loop of "Pomp and Circumstance" played over the PA system.

He sat and listened to several speeches by adults and teenagers encouraging them as they left Parkview and went forth into the world.  One young man talked about windshields and rear view mirrors--how windshields allowed you to look forward and rear view mirrors let you look back, but that it wasn't healthy to spend all your time looking in the rear view mirror.  A young lady spoke of her desire to become a Marine Corps officer.  And another young man sang Neil Young's "Forever Young" as his graduation speech.

It took probably about a half hour, maybe a little more, for all the names to be called and for each student to walk across the stage, shake the hands of the people there, and get their picture taken (and which I will probably receive the chance to order in the next few weeks.)

I took some crocheting with me and I worked on a crochet basket.  That was my antidote against being bored while waiting for the ceremony to begin and while listening to the speeches.

Inevitably, I drew comparisons between my own high school graduation in 1981 and my son's in 2017.

Mine was held indoors at the Mahaffey Theater at the old Bayfront Center in St. Petersburg, and I think mine was in the morning.  I remember walking down the aisle rather quickly instead of at a processional pace.  We all sat on stage behind our speakers.  The valedictorian of our class is a Facebook friend; I told him that the only thing I remembered about his speech was the phrase, "Remember 12th period?" He was referring to the days when our school was on double sessions with the freshmen/sophomores going to school in the afternoon and the juniors/seniors going to school in the morning.  Because of the sound system and the acoustics, I couldn't hear his speech.

Our chorus sang, "I Sing the Body Electric" from the movie "Fame", which was appropriate because it was the song the characters sang at their graduation.

As a member of National Honor Society, I got to wear a set of yellow honor cords, which I still have. In my graduation program, my name is marked as a NHS member and also as graduating in the top ten percent of my class.  (I was #4 and I was either the top-ranked or second-ranked girl.)

At Matthew's graduation, there were other honor cords:  science, languages, and others I can't remember, and NHS members wore sashes.   The class officers, valedictorian, and salutatorian got to graduate first.

In the graduation program, I saw a list of names that reflected the diversity that my graduating class didn't have:  Nguyen, Patel, Tran, Li, and a number of Hispanic names.  That's a reflection of the ethnic diversity that characterizes my area of Gwinnett County, Georgia.  (There was one year where my son was the only white child in his class.  Autism does not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity.)

And the crowd received the order that no graduation crowd ever follows:  "Please hold your applause until everyone has graduated."  You could tell where each graduate's family was sitting because you could hear the cheers from that section as their graduate's name was called.

My graduating didn't throw our hats or turn our tassels.  Matthew's class did, although Matthew was advised not to, because he might lose his tassel.

When the ceremony was over and the parents rushed the field, I was concerned that I wasn't going to be able to find Matthew.  And then I saw him, standing alone, looking around, and I yelled at him, "Don't move!"

And when I got down on the field, I gave him a very big mother-hug.

We took his picture, and then went to the cafeteria, where he got his certificate.

Just like that, it was over.  Fifteen years of classes and school buildings and teachers.

IEP meetings are not yet over.  I still have them as part of Matthew's participation in the STRIVE program.

But here was the thing that touched me the most, both at the graduation rehearsal yesterday and graduation last night:

The non-special ed students that told Matthew congratulations and hugged him.

Matthew, in addition to being in an autism class, also took drama and worked in the Java Jungle, the coffee shop in the cafeteria.  So there were plenty of students who knew him and liked him.

In 1981, the year I graduated from high school, I don't recall the special ed students being integrated into the life of the school.  In fact, I didn't know anyone with special needs.  The federal mainstreaming law had just been passed in the mid-1970's and I'm sure that its effects were still working its way into our school system.

Yesterday, when I went to Matthew's graduation rehearsal, I saw at least one student using a cane.  And who knows how many other students were dealing with disabilities that I couldn't see.

And after that rehearsal, Matthew spoke to several students; just as he did when we were leaving Parkview after the ceremony.

He was part of the life of his high school, not just shoved into a back classroom and ignored.

I am pleased.

And I am proud.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Believe WHAT?

I no longer know who and what I believe anymore.

Everyone lies, and there is no way anymore to figure out what the truth is.

We live in a world of fake news, alternative facts, sexual fluidity, and on and on and on.

I'm a conservative, morally, politically, and fiscally, but conservatives have not had a decent victory since Ronald Reagan.  The liberals control the media and they know how to scream.  They always win.  When they're in power, they win.  When they're not in power, they make conservatives cave. And conservatives are not helping their cause by spreading around the rumors, half-truths, and outright lies of the Alex Joneses and the Breitbarts.

The people who get listened to are the ones who scream the loudest.  If you're pretty, popular, and have media control, you WILL get listened to.  If you dare to challenge the opinion leaders, you are screamed at, mocked, and ridiculed.  If you talk back, they talk louder.  They ALWAYS get in the last word.

I'm a Christian who's supposed to read the Bible to find out what I believe.  But the Bible is too often used as a weapon to club people.  I have to rely on an English translation which may or may not be accurate because I can't read Hebrew, Aramaic or Attic Greek, which are the original Biblical languages.

And if I just sit down and read the Bible?

"Well, you have to consider the context/consider the original language/consider who it was written to/consider the culture."  I'm to the point where the idea of doing such study is more daunting than anything else.

Everyone has a verse.

Everyone believes they are right and can prove it.

And while God does not lie, men can and do use His name to lie.

I've also been told to "ignore what the Bible says and just look at the words of Jesus."  Unfortunately, that's often code for, "Jesus didn't say anything about . . . so he must have been okay with it."  (Jesus never said anything about rape, pedophilia, or incest; was he okay with those behaviors?)

I often feel like the Boy Rangers in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, who were attacked and brutalized when they tried to buck the system that was controlled by a political machine.

Vote?  Why vote?  Nothing changes?

Run away?  There's no place to run to.

Get a Bible study book?  Sounds good, but I often wonder if the Bible teachers out there are really interested in giving you Bible study tools or if they're just trying to guide you towards a predetermined conclusion.  How do I know who does/does not have a hidden agenda?

I spouted off at my poor BFF earlier today.  She's fortunately a very understanding person.

If the current President is impeached and removed from office, there will then be a movement to impeach the next President and remove him from office.

It no longer matters if the candidate is a good candidate.  It's more important that the candidate be a part of a particular ethnic/gender group.

I was told I had to vote for Trump because, the Supreme Court.  I was also told that, "he's a Cyrus/he's an outside/he'll 'Make America Great Again'".  Because people were so terrified of a Clinton presidency, they chose to put the White House in the hands of an incompetent President and his equally incompetent staff.  Not that Hillary would have been much better.  That's why I wrote in Snoopy.  In the past, I would have held my nose and voted for the less evil candidate.  This time, I just couldn't do it.

I'm an active member of a church, I participate in a Bible study, I sing on a praise team, I take my son to activities . . . and here I am, saying that I don't know what I believe.  I've been stuck on the question of "who's right when everyone can 'prove' they are right?" for over two decades, and I still have not figured out the answers.

I'm afraid of getting it wrong and going to hell.  There.  I've said it.  I am afraid of going before God on Judgment Day and only then finding out that I was wrong on some supposedly important "salvation issue", and by then, it'll be too late to do anything about it.

There was a time as a child that I thought I had things right as far as the Bible was concerned.  Then I got involved with a group that said, no, we are the only ones who have the truth.

I ended up leaving that group and getting involved with a group that went to the other extreme--as long as you believe in God and believe in Jesus, it doesn't matter what else you believe.

And while the place I'm at now isn't as extreme as either of the previous places . . . I'm still dealing with the issues that I was left with when I left both groups.

If you're left with the impression that I am angry and frustrated . . . well, you're right.

I'm very angry.

And I'm very frustrated.

And I have no idea what I believe.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Giving them my peace of mind . . .

I just read this story on Facebook and it's perfect for a blog post.

Someone posted a comment about a woman who was teaching herself English.  She got angry at someone and later reported that she gave the person her "peace of mind".

It looks and sounds funny, the way it's written above, because obviously, she meant to say "give them a piece of my mind".

But I wonder, how many people have I ever given my "peace of mind" to?

I'm a people-pleaser.  I despise having anybody unhappy with me, and if I even have a hint that someone's not happy with what I've done or say, I have a visceral, physical reaction.  In a sense, that's giving that person my "peace of mind".

This is probably another way of saying "you're letting them live rent-free in your head."  I'm not so sure if they're living there rent-free.  The people living in your head are the rent collectors, and the rent they are collecting is your peace of mind!

At the moment, I don't have solutions for not giving away your peace of mind.  But today's story does give me pause and may just help me be aware of who gets my "peace of mind"!

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Monday, May 15, 2017

From one commander to another . . .

I don’t know where my son got the idea to do this, but his nickname for our church’s youth minister is “commander”. I guess he thinks that’s appropriate since our youth minister is the one “in charge.”

Last night, during our church’s Senior Honors Night, each graduating high school senior was presented with a Bible and their own Bible verse. (No, none of the kids got “Jesus wept” as their own personal verse. :-) )

When Matthew’s turn came, I was curious as to what his verse would be. 

As it turned out, it was quite appropriate. 

It was Isaiah 55:4: “See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a ruler and commander of the peoples.” (New International Version)

Before reading this verse, our youth minister told the story of Matthew's nickname for him. And then, after reading the verse, he said that my son was a witness. 

I agree.  He is a witness to the power of inclusion and the result of the power of God’s love. 

It’s an appropriate gift from one “commander” to another.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.