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.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The oil of gladness

He wanted to quit.

Losing two students within five months--one to a car accident, the other to suicide--is enough to take the wind out of anyone's sails.

Especially when you're a youth minister, and your job is to teach, comfort, and encourage your students, and attempt to answer questions of "why?" when you don't even know the answers yourself.

Who could blame him for wanting to quit?

Sometimes, though, you have to grit your teeth and gut it out where your faith is concerned.

So he took a deep breath, gritted his teeth, and chose to gut it out.

The next class of sixth graders was coming into the youth ministry, and he needed to get ready for them.

He was especially concerned about one of them.  This student had special needs, and the minister wasn't quite sure if the kid was going to fit.  It was challenging enough to deal with kids without special needs.  How was he going to handle a child with those special needs?

Youth ministry is a job, and a calling.  Surely this child deserved his efforts as well as the other sixth graders who were about to be part of the youth group.

So he decided that he was going to do everything he could to make sure that that child--that child with special needs--would be able to participate in the youth group to the best extent possible.

Tonight I sat in our church's Family Enrichment Center and watched as seventeen high school seniors participated in our annual Senior Honors Night.  I watched as their youth minister spoke of how proud he was of this group of seniors and how much they'd meant to him.

Each student, and their parents, came up to the stage, where they received a personalized Bible.  Each student had a special verse that was underlined in their Bible.  (One student, ill with a 102 temperature, attended the event via FaceTime.)

But before that, our youth minister had a few words to say about this class as a whole.

This group of students came into our youth ministry in August of 2010.  The previous year, from June to November of 2009, saw five deaths in our congregation.

Two of those deaths were of teenagers from our youth ministry.

One of those teenagers, along with his mother, died in a car crash.  The other teenager committed suicide.

Our youth minister admitted that it had been a dark time for him.  And he didn't want to do it anymore.

He wanted to quit.

But then he said that this was the class--this class of seniors that we honored tonight--that brought back the oil of gladness to his ministry.

Isaiah 61:1-4 is a prophecy about the coming Messiah, but I'd like to think that it could also apply to this class of graduating seniors:

"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities, 

the devastations of many generations."  (English Standard Version)

These seniors brought the joy back that a minister desperately needed.  They were ones who brought good news to the poor, comforted those that mourned, and brought the oil of gladness rather than of mourning.  They served.  They loved others.  And in doing so, they were the ones that restored joy. 

Oh, I should mention something about our youth minister's opening remarks.

He said that he had lost a Matthew, but gained a Matthew in return.

The young man that died in 2009 was named Matthew.

So was a sixth-grader that came into the youth ministry in 2010.  

He was the same sixth-grader with special needs, a sixth-grader who our youth minister wasn't sure would fit.  But our youth minister, instead of giving into the darkness of grief, chose to do what he could to help this kid fit in to the best extent possible.  

Tonight, my son Matthew received his Bible from his youth minister.  

Tonight, my son learned that he had helped to restore the oil of gladness to a ministry that needed it.  

Mourning has been turned into dancing.

Sorrow has been turned into joy.  

Thank you, class of 2017.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Battle fatigue

I think I have battle fatigue.

Between dealing with Matthew, dealing with my own issues, and hearing about current events, I'm hitting a wall.  (I'm not even watching the news, but I can't get away from discussion of it; and I think that being totally ignorant of what's going on isn't helpful.)

I just texted my sister to tell my mother that her Mother's Day gift will be late.

I have a messy house and laundry to put away.

And I have not been sleeping well.

At least one study back in 2009 said that mothers of kids with autism had stress similar to that of combat soldiers.  I believe it.

It's a fight to get services for a child, and it's a daily fight to deal with behaviors, appointments, echolalia, etc. etc. etc.  We're also facing high school graduation and Matthew's transition into a new program (job skills training).

I have my own mental fighting that I do with past issues, such as bullying and spiritual abuse and everything that flows from that.  And I also have physical conditions that my body fights daily.

And I think I'm just exhausted from all of the fighting I have done in my life.

This weekend, Frank, Matthew, and I are going on a retreat with the high school seniors in Matthew's youth group.  I am hoping it will be a chance to get away from at least a little bit of stress.

This battle-fatigued warrior needs it.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

"But this isn't next week!"

In a skit on the old Bugs Bunny/Road Runner show, Daffy Duck complains to Bugs, "Wait a minute!  Last week you said that I was going to entertain next week!"

Bugs' reply:  "But this isn't next week."

I had good reason to remember that skit today.

This morning I got two proofing requests from the court reporting firm I work for.  One was to proof a rush job due by 5 p.m. today.  The other was a longer one due tomorrow.

I had an appointment with the chiropractor today, so I figured I could do them both when I got back.

I live in Gwinnett County, which is northeast of the city of Atlanta.  To get to the chiropractor's, I needed to take I-285 over to Cobb County, which is northwest of the city of Atlanta.  It's usually a little over a half hour to get there.  Well, remember that, since I-85 is still being repaired, we are driving under abnormal conditions.  So it took me about an hour, and that was with my Waze app giving me alternate routes around traffic backups.
My chiro's office is very efficient, and I was in and out within about a half hour.  
It took me over an hour to get home, not only because of abnormal traffic on 285, but because of an accident which put 285 in gridlock.  Waze once again performed admirably and gave me a route around that accident.

Along with several hundred other drivers.

After negotiating 285, I-85 north of the Perimeter, picking up a library book and a prescription, I got home, had lunch, and then turned on my computer.

Mayhem ensued.

I could not get to my email box.  My email servers have been having consistent problems for several weeks. After several frustrating minutes, I finally decided to restart my computer.

Which gave me the screen with the dreaded words, "Getting Windows ready.  Do not turn off your computer."

I waited, waited, waited, then decided to throw a load of wash in the washer.  Came back to my computer, it's still telling me not to turn it off.

And finally, I said, the heck with it, disobeyed the command of the almighty Windows, and turned off the computer.

Fortunately, when I turned it back on, lightning did not strike.
While waiting for the computer to reconnect to the Internet, I tried getting the files I needed through my iPad.  I can play an mp3 file on my iPad, and I can also read Word files on my iPad.  When I proof, I listen to an audio recording to see if the transcript matches up with the audio recording.  (I proof legal depositions.)  I have yet to figure out if I can listen to a recording and edit on the iPad at the same time, and what was even worse, I couldn't figure out how to turn off the recording in the iPad.  
Finally, I was able to download the files I needed from the people I work for.  But while trying to open up the audio files, I accidentally turned on iTunes instead of the transcription program I use.  And no matter how many times I clicked, iTunes would not turn off.  And, the dreaded blue spinning circle that Windows users are familiar with just kept spinning around and around and around.

So, I turned the computer back off.  
Then back on.
After nearly an hour, I finally got files downloaded and the rush file proofed and sent off to my boss.

Between finishing the rush file and beginning the non-rush file, I sent off an email to my BFF, detailing my tale of woe so far that day.  In addition to having another file to proof, I:
  • still had dinner to make
  • had church tonight
  • had praise team practice after church (praise team is the small singing group that performs each Sunday; the same people do not sing every week, different people are placed on the schedule each month)
  • a retreat this weekend with my son's youth group
  • an appointment tomorrow
  • Weight Watchers on Friday
  • Laundry to do
  • Senior Honors Night this coming Sunday, where our youth group's graduating seniors are honored (and my son is included this year)
  • And I had to sing on the praise team this Sunday.

So what does all of this have to do with it not being next week?

When my husband came home from work, I told him everything that I'd done that day.  

And then, I looked at the calendar on the wall in the kitchen.  


Then got my iPad and compared my Google calendar with the wall calendar.

You know the praise team practice I put down?

That practice I had to attend because I was going to sing on Sunday?

That practice wasn't this week.

That practice was NEXT week.

Which also means I don't sing this Sunday.

We sing NEXT Sunday.

On my husband's recommendation, I skipped church tonight and finished proofing my pages (which were due tomorrow morning.)  My pages were emailed just a few minutes ago.

The moral of this story?  

If there is one?

Always check your schedule before you complain about everything you have to do.

Because it could very easily be that the stuff you have to do this week . . . you don't have to do until next week!

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Because of a staple, the tire was lost . . .

Yesterday and today have been like the poem, "For want of a nail, the shoe was lost . . ."

My husband and I came out to the car after church to discover that one of our tires was flat.  My husband changed the tire and put on the spare.  When he went to find a place to get the tire fixed, he could not find one.  Either the shop was closed on Sunday or the shop was open but unable to fix the tire right away.

Since we're a one-car family, that one event set off the domino effect:

  • We couldn't go to our church small group last night.
  • My husband took the day off work to take the tire to get fixed (he offered and I accepted the offer)
  • I ended up changing a doctor's appointment I had scheduled for today.
When my husband came back from getting the tire fixed, he told me that the reason we got the flat tire was due to a . . . large staple we'd run over.  

I don't know where we picked up that staple, but because of that staple, a tire was lost, because the tire was lost, meeting with small group was lost, a doctor's appointment was lost, and a small amount of money was lost.  

And all because of a staple.

I'm sure there's a larger moral to this story somewhere.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Proud aunt brag

She's probably the first person I loved before they were even born.  Now my niece is 21 and today, she graduates with her degree in behavioral sciences.  

She looks like her mom (which means she's beautiful).

For her first four years, she was mostly raised by her mom and her Nana (my mother).  She also spent a lot of time with her great-grandmother.  

When she was four, her mom--my sister--got married again.  And I think it's a tribute to her stepfather that my niece asked him, could you adopt me?  It's also a tribute to him that he did. 

She's been enjoying her college years with her friends, loves her Gamma Phi Beta sisters, and has decided to pursue a career in psychology.  For right now, she'll be doing graduate studies to thoroughly prepare for her profession.

Enjoy your day today.  Your present is in the mail. 

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.


Friday, May 5, 2017

Current events fatigue

I had a bad day yesterday.  I had a fatigue spell brought on by a poor night's sleep and I spent the day resting, in front of the computer, and also in front of the TV.

Although I don't watch a great deal of news these days, I see it discussed on social media and there's no way I can really get away from it.  Yesterday the big discussion was of the health care bill passed by the GOP.

From the reaction on social media, I almost thought that I should be planning my funeral, since the bill apparently guarantees the death of all Americans due to lack of health care. (sarcasm mode on.)

I've hit the wall where it comes to things that I "should" care about.  A friend of mine said yesterday that when everything is life or death, nothing is life or death.  Being bombarded with everything that I "should" care about is leaving me apathetic and caring about nothing.

I need to be selective about the things I care about, and if that means that I don't care about things that people think I "should" care about, well . . . so be it!

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Oh, those fandoms!

(Note:  This piece does contain spoilers for Chicago Med, Chicago PD, This Is Us, and Scorpion.  Read at your own risk.)

I'm trying to count how many "fandoms" I'm part of.  For the uninitiated, a "fandom" is a grouping of fans of a particular TV show, movie, book series, etc.

"Fan" can also stand for "fanatic", and in the case of certain fandoms, "fanatic" is appropriate.

I'm a Whovian, a fan of the show Doctor Who.  When a new doctor arrives or a new companion is announced, inevitably, there are the shrieks of, "This show is ruined forever!!"

When Peter Capaldi was announced as the new doctor, cries of outrage sounded around the fandom.  "Him?  He's too old!  Doctor Who is ruined forever!"

But Capaldi, in my opinion, has turned out to be a good doctor, and several of the episodes of his run do make you think.

And the companions . . . oh, don't get the fandom started.

"Rose!  I loved her!" "Hated her!" "Clara was wonderful!""She was a disaster!"

The latest companion, Bill, is a pleasant surprise.  She's been called a "refreshing change" from recent companions.

I'm also a "sestra", the name of the Orphan Black fandom.  This BBC series follows a group of women who discover that they are clones of each other.  All of them are played by Tatiana Maslany, and she does it so well that you forget it's the same actress playing each person.

"I love Sarah!" "No, Cosima!" "Don't forget Helena!"

My best friend is a member of the Bones fandom.  I don't follow Bones very much, although I did turn in for the last episode, which showed Bones and Booth walking off into the night together.  During the series, when Booth was involved with another woman, that "other woman" was universally hated by Bones fans--to the point of several fanfics killing off that character!

My son turned me on to the Chicago franchise (Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Chicago Med.) When #Linstead--Erin Lindsey and Jay Halstead--finally got together, the fandom cheered . . . and then, recently, suffered heartbreak when Jay discovered he was still legally married to someone he thought he was divorced from.  Now, #Linstead is separated.

And, over on Chicago Med, another Halstead--Dr. Will, Jay's brother--has an interest in Dr. Natalie Manning (#Manstead) . . . and when he's finally expressed himself, she just says they're good friends . . . and Jay Halstead has been hanging around the hospital lately . . . and in a recent episode, he and Natalie went to a hockey game together . . . so, #manstead may happen, but it will be at the risk of alienating a large segment of fans!

After three seasons, fans of Scorpion finally have #Waige (Walter and Paige) together . . . just in time for the plane they're on to crash, with the entire Scorpion team aboard.

And probably, the biggest howls from the fandoms I follow came from fans of the show This Is Us.  Over the first season, the story of the Pearson family has been slowly unfolding.  We've learned of the past of the "Big Three" (the Pearson triplets), have followed them into their present relationships, and we've wondered how, when Rebecca and Jack had such a wonderful love story, why did she marry his best friend after he died?

And THE biggest question, which led to THE biggest howl of the TV season:

"Why didn't the season finale tell us how Jack died???"

Never, in the history of TV or of fandoms, has there been such disappointment over a character NOT dying.

Each member of each fandom has their own opinion about how a show should go down, and woe be unto the creators, writers, and producers if any member is crossed!

The season finales of several shows are coming up.  I strongly suggest that you get earplugs and HAZMAT outfits to protect yourselves from the howls and the mudslinging of the various fandoms when season finales do not go the way each fandom member thinks they should.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

It's not fair!

It's not fair that I have a child with autism!
"It's not fair that your child with autism is high-functioning and rather independent."

It's not fair that we don't have two cars!
"It's not fair that we don't have a car at all."

It's not fair that my husband has to take the bus to get to work!
"It's not fair that you live close enough to walk to a bus stop."

It's not fair that this place gets so hot in summer!
"It's not fair that you have air conditioning to keep you cool."

It's not fair that we argue so much over politics!
"It's not fair that you can vote for your leaders and that your president can only stay in power for eight years."

It's not fair that I have so many physical problems!
"It's not fair that you can get to the doctor within 24-48 hours in most cases."

It's not fair?

I guess "fairness" depends on your perspective.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Posting-a-day for May . . .

Today is May 2.  I am in the second day of a "post-a-day" challenge.

Shaunta Grimes, a writer and Facebook friend of mine, is passionate about encouraging other writers to write.  She blogs here and offers material to help other writers learn to write well.

Her challenge this month to her "ninja writers", as she calls us, is to write a post a month and post it at Medium, a free blogging platform.

I've fallen down on my own writing lately, partly because of a busy schedule, partly because of allowing myself to be paralyzed by perfectionism.  I'm in the process of revising a novel, and I'm finding myself freezing up because I'm worried that it won't be "good enough".

Sometimes, my writing just plain sucks.  If that's your opinion about your own writing, or whatever it is you think you suck at, Shaunta's latest blog post should encourage you.  It's entitled, "You Don't Suck.  You Just Haven't Practiced Enough." She reminds us, "It's ridiculous to judge how good you are at something without taking into consideration the amount of practice you have doing it."

So this month, I am going to put some of Shaunta's tools to work for me, put butt in chair, fingers on keyboard, and WRITE.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Twenty-two people

On Saturday, I went to the funeral of a 34-year-old man who had cerebral palsy.  His name was Justin, and he and his family attend my church.

I got to the funeral home right before the service started, and as a result, I ended up standing in the back.  I wasn't the only one.  About 25-30 people stood along with me.  This was in addition to about 150 or so others seated.  It may have been more; I'm not very good at estimating.

Our minister spoke about Justin and his family.  Then his parents came up and told Justin's story:  how he'd been diagnosed with cerebral palsy at eight months, how he couldn't speak, how at 11, he'd gone into the hospital for what was intended to be an overnight stay and wound up being there for over 10 months, and how a dear doctor saved his life multiple times, allowing the family to have Justin for two decades longer.  His mother read a beautiful letter she'd written to him.  She described their bedtime routine, of how she'd blow kisses to him, and then how she'd come to check on him and find him still awake, maybe waiting for one last kiss.

After his parents spoke, our minister gave other people who'd known Justin a chance to share some favorite memories of him.

Twenty-two people took advantage of that opportunity.  They ranged from a little boy who described Justin as his "best friend", to his teachers, to a nurse, to those who knew him from church.

They painted a picture of someone who knew how to love people.  He had a beautiful smile and an uninhibited laugh.  He could be a prankster.  He loved dollar bills.  His parents made sure that he was included in life in every possible way he could be, through school, through church, through vacations spent with his family.

He loved game shows.  And he loved Disney characters.

Towards the end of the funeral, his sister said that not only did she love Justin, but she liked being with him.  That's not always true of brothers and sisters.  

I saw Justin at church in his wheelchair, and whenever I heard a grunt during services, I knew that that was Justin trying to communicate.

Justin didn't know it, but he influenced my life as well.

Not very long after my son was diagnosed with autism, his mother and I met at a Waffle House for breakfast.  We talked for nearly three hours.  I no longer remember what she said or what I said.  I just remember that his mom tried to communicate to me that everything was going to be okay--not, "Oh, it'll be all right," said with a condescending pat on the head, but with the wisdom of someone who had been there and was still there.  More than once since, she's come to me and said, I remember our talk and I'm so proud of you for sticking it out.

We live in a world where perfection is not only expected, but demanded.  We airbrush and Photoshop our pictures to make them perfect.  We talk about people's looks behind their backs.  We gossip about people's private lives.  We constantly strive for better, better, better, and while searching for ways to improve is a good thing, too often, I think it's because we try to live up to impossible standards.

Justin, in the eyes of some people, was not "perfect".  He used a wheelchair.  He grunted.  He had uncontrolled movements because of his cerebral palsy.  He drooled.  He required constant nursing care.

At the end of the service, our minister left us with a question:  How do you decide who to love well?

Twenty-two people, besides Justin's family, painted the picture of a person who "loved well" all who came across his path.  He didn't care who they were.  He just loved them. Because Justin loved them, those he loved learned how to "love well".

That is quite a legacy for someone to leave:  that he taught people how to love well.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Monday, April 17, 2017

B-I-N-G-O, Atlanta traffic style

Someone posted this on Facebook today, and I'm afraid it sums up Atlanta traffic perfectly (except it leaves out "debris in the roadway".)

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

When God got the last laugh (repost)

(This is a repost of this blog entry, from April 5, 2015.)

Today, God got the last laugh.

The laughter began before dawn, when a dead body regained consciousness in a cold tomb.

Or perhaps it began with an earthquake, which rolled a stone away and scared guards so that they became "like dead men".

I'm not sure if Jesus strode out boldly with a swagger, or if he just peeked out from the tomb, thinking, "Hello?  Where is everybody?" and then walked out.

The party in hell was over.  The party in hell had broken up with screams of horror and shouts of anger.  How dare he?  How dare he get the last laugh on us?

The first person he revealed himself to was a woman, Mary of Magdala, the Mary that wept because they had taken her Lord away and she didn't know where he was.

It was when he said to her, "Mary," that she knew who he was.

I wonder if, when she turned towards him, Jesus was smiling.

I wonder if he smiled when he appeared to the two on the road to Emmaus.

And I wonder if he smiled when he first appeared to the apostles who were hiding in the upper room.  We know he said, "Peace be with you!" and showed him his hands and feet.  But I wonder if the expression on his face said, "Look!  It's me!  I'm here!  Isn't that great!  I told you it was going to happen, and it did!"

This is Easter Sunday.  

Easter is a holiday associated with bunnies (chocolate and otherwise), baskets, eggs dyed in different colors, new clothes, parades, and white shoes.  It's also associated with large dinners--usually with ham as the main course--with family visits and perhaps a surprise from the Easter Bunny.  (One year, a gift from the Easter Bunny came with a note and a carrot with teeth marks in it.  I told everyone who would listen that those teeth marks were proof that there really was an Easter Bunny.  It was years before I realized that my dad had written the note and probably had bitten into that carrot as well!)

This is the holiday where people and Easter lilies will crowd churches, and many will repeat as part of a liturgy, "He is risen." "He is risen indeed."

But do we really understand that, on this day, God got the last laugh?

If man had created God in his own image, as is sometimes alleged, hope would have died at the cross.  The apostle Paul, in I Corinthians 15:12-19, says:

"But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied." (emphasis mine, TAS)

The cross would have been proof that God was created in the image of man, for the cross meant death--physical death of a man, the death of hope, the death of dreams the death of everything. 

But God got the last laugh. 

Jesus said he would rise from the dead . . . and he did.

The witness of men, the witness of Scripture speaks--indeed, it shouts--that "Christ has indeed been risen from the dead!" as I Corinthians 15:20 says.  

When we speak today that "Christ is risen indeed," it is not merely a recitation of a liturgy that has been passed down for two thousand years.  Instead, it is a testament to a God that got the last laugh--over Satan, over sin, over death.

I wonder, if when the disciples saw Jesus, he looked like this, as painted by artist Jack Jewell:

This is the day when God got the last laugh.

He is risen.

He is risen indeed!

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

When Satan threw a party (repost)

(This is a repost of this blog entry from April 4, 2015.)

Today, the party in hell that started when Jesus died on the cross continued.

Satan laughed and the demons rejoiced.  Because what they wanted had been accomplished, the death of God.  As Nietzsche would write nearly 1800 years later, "God is dead.  God remains dead.  And we have killed him."

They had won.

On earth, the body of Judas had been discovered, broken, with his bowels spilling out.

The rest of the disciples hid behind locked doors, afraid that they would be next.  Peter drowned in shame, hearing the words in his head, "I don't know the man!" and starting every time he heard a rooster crow.

Mary?  Where was Mary?  Overcome with grief and pain and heartbroken.

Death had come and killed God, and Satan was in the middle of throwing a party.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Friday, April 14, 2017

When man killed God (repost)

(This is a reposting, with some minor changes, of this blog entry from Good Friday of 2015.)

Today is Good Friday.

Man killed God today.

Man, in the guise of a Roman ruler, his centurions, and people who screamed, "Crucify him!"  killed God.

Man stripped him, beat him, mocked him, "hailed" him as "king".

And then man led him out to a cross.

Man watched while he stumbled along the Via Dolorosa.  Some jeered him, some wept, some wailed, some didn't pay attention.

Man, in the guise of trained centurions, picked up nails--long, cruel nails--and, using a mallet, drove them, blow by blow, into skin and muscle and bone and blood vessel.

They did it three times.  One for each arm, and one for both feet, crossed together.

And then they sat back and gambled while God gasped for breath, slowly suffocated, bled, and died.

And if that wasn't enough, someone rammed a spear into his side.

Then the broken body of God was picked up and carried to a borrowed tomb, wrapped in linen, and laid to rest.

The last act was the sound of a stone rolled over the entrance, then the final thud as it landed in its place.

This was the day that man killed God.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Coronary thrombosis, cerebral hemorrhage, and I-85

If the main routes through Atlanta, Georgia can be called "arteries", then Atlanta has been long overdue for the traffic equivalent of a coronary thrombosis or a cerebral hemorrhage.

Yesterday, it got both.

At approximately 6:30 p.m., Channel 2 news cut to a live shot of horrifyingly thick black smoke billowing from under an overpass at I-85 and GA State Road 400.  This is the height of rush hour (or, non-rush hour, however you want to put it) and 85 was crawling with commuters desperate to get home.

The Georgia State Patrol, fearing for the integrity of the bridge, stopped traffic.

Minutes later, the bridge collapsed.

Amazingly, NO ONE was killed or injured.  In fact, NO ONE was even on the bridge when it collapsed.

However, the result of the coronary thrombosis of the highway will be Atlanta's own version of bypass surgery.

Beginning this morning, if you want to get into the city of Atlanta, you can't go down I-85 south. Instead, you'll have to exit on I-285, which goes around the city of Atlanta, and pick whatever access point you think will get you to where you need/want to go.  If you want to get downtown, your best bet may be to take I-20 from I-285.

If you want to go north on I-85, you'll have to get off at 17th street, just north of downtown.

Both I-85 north and south in the area of the collapse are closed until further notice.

Which leads one to ask:  Is there a traffic equivalent of beta blockers for Atlanta?

Well, possibly.  One is called MARTA, our public transportation system, comprised of buses and trains which may or may not get you where you want/need to go when you want/need to go there. Another is working from home, which people are being encouraged to do today.  There's also car pooling.

Dekalb County Schools are closed today, giving the kids there a one-day head start on their spring break.  (Matthew's home today.  Gwinnett County is using an unused snow day as a holiday today.)

What caused the fire?

We don't know yet what started it.  What people think was burning was a bunch of plastic cables stored under the bridge.  One (now former) Facebook friend posted "terrorist attack", with NO PROOF.  That is just plain irresponsible.  (And if it WERE Al-Qaida or ISIS, it would be a heck of a lot more coordinated and a lot more spectacular.)

For now, GDOT and whoever else is in charge will be performing bypass surgery and eventually reconstruction of the arteries.

Brace yourselves for a long hospitalization and recovery period!

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

"I didn't even see that he was drowning."

Dr. Jason Wheeler began Monday morning walking through the doors of Gaffney Chicago Medical Center and making his usual turn into the emergency department, where he worked.  He greeted his fellow co-workers and was greeted by them, with a comment by a nurse that he was needed in three.

He reassured her that he'd be there in a minute.

He boarded an elevator and rode up to the 10th floor.

Upon getting off, he calmly walked to an outside balcony and stepped up onto a ledge, where he looked down at the street and the people walking to and fro.

And then he casually stepped off the balcony.

This all happened in the first 90 seconds of "Monday Mourning," the Chicago Med episode aired on March 16th.

The opening sequence was shocking, stunning, and meant to be that way.  I mean, it was an ordinary, casual good-morning sequence, showing someone on his way to his normal duties as an ER resident, ending in his suicide.

Dr. Wheeler had had problems for some time.  He drank, and at one point, asked psychiatry resident Sarah Reese for pills and for therapy.  She turned him down.

Even in the shock of Dr. Wheeler's suicide, the ER department must go on.  After all, people are not going to stop getting sick and getting hurt just so the ER department can grieve.  So the staff went about their normal day as best they could, while occasionally stopping to wonder, how could they have missed that something was so wrong with a colleague?

The ER borrowed Dr. Reese, the psychiatry resident (and former ER med student) to help out.  During her treatment of a man who'd jumped into an icy river to save a little boy drowning--and who himself suffered a heart attack right after he did so--she asked, what went through your mind?

Dr. Connor Rhodes, heart specialist, overheard that conversation.

Dr. Reese said, he--referring to Dr. Wheeler--came to me for help and I brushed him off.

Dr. Rhodes tries to reassure her, saying, you can't save everyone.

And that's when Dr. Reese replies with, "It's not that I didn't jump in to save him. It's that I didn't even see he was drowning."

Of all of the lines, of all of the scenes of "Monday Mourning", that was the one that hit me.  I didn't even see that he was drowning.

We don't see, do we?  How many of us see that someone is "drowning" and reach out a lifeline to help?

It's impossible to see if someone is drowning if we're not looking at the water, so to speak.  It's also impossible to see if someone is drowning if the drowning person isn't screaming for help, waving their arms, trying to get someone's attention.

While Dr. Reese berated herself for not seeing that Dr. Wheeler was "drowning", she redeemed herself at the end of the episode.  She went to the office of Dr. Daniel Charles, head of the psychiatry department, and said, everyone talks to you and you absorb it all like a sponge.  How are you doing with all this?

His response:  "It was awful."

I've talked off and on (and maybe "on" more that "off") about my own circumstances here.  There are times I've felt like I was "drowning".  I think I use this blog as a cry for help at times.  It's a way that I process things that are happening to me, things that I observe, things that I think and feel.  Often, I write "off the cuff" and don't always go back and edit before I hit "publish".

It's tempting to use this episode of Chicago Med as a way to talk about how I often feel I am "drowning".  But, unlike Dr. Wheeler, I've been able to get the help I need.  For whatever reason, Dr. Wheeler was either unable or unwilling to say the words, "I am drowning.  I need help."  It's hard, especially in a helping profession like medicine, to say, "I need help."  At least one character in "Monday Mourning" made that observation.  Asking for help, too often, is perceived as a sign of weakness, like you need a "crutch" to help you.   And if you're a helper, why, then, do you need help?

I've been lucky.  I have access to medical/psychological help.  I see someone twice a month, and I take my meds faithfully.  And I have people I talk to.

So, let me ask the question:

Who out there is drowning?

Are you drowning?

And how can I throw you a lifeline?

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

(The number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.  If you're ever drowning, this is a good lifeline to grab onto.)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Matthew O'Brien and Tina Dineen

Fans of the TV show Scorpion may catch my reference in the title of this post.  For those who don't, I'll explain:

The basic premise of Scorpion is that of a team of eccentric geniuses who save the world every week. :-)  They are led by Walter O'Brien, who has an IQ of 197.  Although they are geniuses, the group's social skills are somewhat, shall we say, lacking.

In the first episode, Walter and the team meet Paige Dineen, a single mother working as a waitress. Walter discovers that Paige's son Ralph is a genius.  He strikes a deal with Paige:  You translate the world for us, and we'll help you understand your son.

That's sort of how I interpret my role in my son's life.

My role is to "translate" Matthew to people around him.  It is to explain why he breaks into game show lines, or who these "people" (mostly fictional characters or TV personalities) are that he talks about.  (He did tell someone that they looked like Emily Prentiss, the character Paget Brewster plays on Criminal Minds.  Thing is, the person he said that to . . . DOES look like her!)

Last night, his prayer request in his youth group was that Spencer Reid, a Criminal Minds character, get out of jail.  I haven't kept up with the show lately, but apparently Spencer is in jail in Mexico for something he may or may not have done.  I am very thankful for the people who work with Matthew in the youth group, because the leader handled his request with sensitivity.

I suggested afterwards that maybe Matthew could pray for the actor who plays Spencer Reid, Matthew Gray Gubler, because he probably needed all the prayers he could get.  (If you work in the entertainment business, I think that's definitely true.)

In recent episodes of Scorpion, Paige has been getting rather frustrated with Walter and has left him to "sink or swim" on his own.  That's sometimes how I feel with Matthew ("not everyone wants to hear about the last episode of Jeopardy!")  But, Paige is coming to understand her role not only as Walter's "translator", but as Walter's friend.

I don't know if Matthew will ever learn the "language" of the world around him, but I hope my "translating" has done some good.

Until then, I'm sure Matthew will be sending up more prayers for Spencer Reid, and God will smile at those prayers and understand the heart that those prayers come from.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Graduation and guardianship

This week, two life-changing moments met at the crossroads of irony and coincidence.

Yesterday, I got an email from Matthew's teacher asking if we had ordered his cap and gown yet. I'm in the middle of a somewhat busy week, and my first reaction was, "arrrgh, not another thing I have to do."

And then it hit me:  cap and gown.

As in, Matthew's high school graduation.

I put the order in for a gown that will fit someone 6'1 and approximately 120 pounds (probably less.)

High school graduation comes as a rite of passage, and for most high school seniors, it's the moment where they start thinking of themselves as "adults".  They go to college, get jobs, date, marry, etc. We consider them "grown-ups" and expect them to (eventually) be out on their own, living on their own, being independent.

The irony?

Today Frank, Matthew and I were at a court hearing where we took those rights away from Matthew.
Because Matthew has autism, we've had him evaluated to see if he's legally competent to handle his own affairs, and the opinion is that no, he is not.  I agree with that opinion.  Since Matthew is 18, the law considers him an adult, and therefore, legally responsible for the consequences of his actions, whether for good or for ill, whether he understands those consequences or not.  However, if an interested party can show that it's in Matthew's best interests to have a guardian appointed to look after his interests, the law will allow for the appointment of a guardian.

Frank and I filed paperwork in December to be appointed as Matthew's legal guardians.  Our court hearing was today, and our petition for guardianship was granted.  As of today, my legal standing in regards to Matthew is not that of "parent".  It is that of "legal guardian".  When a person becomes the ward of a legal guardian, they give up the right to control their own property and the right to make certain important decisions.  Matthew cannot enter into any legal agreements or contracts (including marriage) without my permission/approval.  And among other things, if we move to another state or move Matthew to another state, we have to get permission from the court to do so.

So all the stuff that comes with high school graduation--freedom, independence, etc--will not come with Matthew's high school graduation.  Instead, he'll still live at home, still with his parents making decisions on his behalf.  In Matthew's case, it's the right thing to do, because as smart as he is, and as capable as he is, legally, he just isn't competent to handle those types of freedoms.

It's extremely odd to hear a judge state, regarding your child, that "the court finds that he lacks sufficient capacity to . . ."  Although you know it's true, and you know you're doing the right thing, to hear it worded in such a way, from an officer of the court, just sounds so, well, final.

This week, we ordered a cap and gown for a graduation.

This week, we legally took rights away from our son, for his own protection.

How ironic it is that they both happened in the same week, on back-to-back days.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.