Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Are they in Heaven now?

Several years ago a non-Christian friend of mine called me, very angry, with some really serious questions.  She had just come home from a funeral of a relative of hers.  Some member of the family had made arrangements for a "Christian" pastor to speak at the relative's funeral. I use quotations there because I don't know who the pastor was, but his message at the funeral left me questioning if the man knew anything about Christianity at all.

She was angry, because she relayed to me how she thought the pastor lied to everyone there.  He repeatedly told the family this man was in Heaven now, in a much better place, with relatives that had preceded him in death, etc. She told me the whole time he was speaking, every time he said such things, the more angry she became and had to bite her tongue. She didn't know a lot about Christianity but she did know enough to believe the only people that actually go to Heaven, are Christians. She went on to tell me about this deceased family member's lifestyle and how he was into this, that, the other, and several other things that are not indicative of a Christian's lifestyle in any way. Despite all this, he was family and he was loved, and she was grieving.  Then she wanted to know some things:

Friday, November 13, 2015

My Red Cup Can Beat Up Your Red Cup


GET YOUR OWN RIGHT HERE: 


By now you've almost certainly heard about the Starbucks Red Cup Controversy or at the very least seen the hashtags #redcup #itsjustacup or other variations with the words cup, red, Starbucks and Christmas.  Some have clicked, some have laughed, some don't care and others even thought it was an Onion parody article.  I confess, I actually did think it was parody at first.

Yes, a cup controversy, if you can believe that. If you haven't heard about it, consider yourself blessed. In any case, here's a good explanation of what the kerfuffle is all about.

Here's the interesting thing...

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Cussing and Swearing Once Again

Since today is Back to the Future I figured it's a timely day to get into my little blogging time machine and revisit a topic I've posted about before: swearing.

I hate swearing.  I hate hearing people swear. I hate when I swear myself (yep, sometimes it still happens) and I have wracked my brain for the last 21 years trying to pin down why it bothers me so much. Everyone that knows me, already knows all this.

Over the years I've had countless conversations with all sorts of people on both sides of the believer fence about this subject.  We've had the 

  • "out of the heart the mouth speaks" conversations
  • fresh water/bitter water/same well conversations
  • exploring why words are offensive, who makes them offensive (the speaker or the hearer) and why they are offensive
  • discussions about the psychological and emotional affect to both the speaker of the words and the hearer of the words (and why some even believe it's beneficial to swear)
And probably more conversations with other angles I can't even remember.  One of the things I've always found odd about such conversations is that some people go out of their way to justify why it's not only okay, but good.  To cuss or swear. I find that odd because one would think if it's good or beneficial there would be no reason to explain why.  Like brushing your teeth, or wearing a coat when it's cold.  It would be obvious and/or common sense to most adults why such things are done, without any explanation needed.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Cartoony Stuff

Not too long ago someone asked me a rather odd question.  "Why do you do all that cartoony stuff?"  they asked.  By cartoony stuff, they meant these guys here. 


By "why do you do" they meant create them and use them in various formats such as baby shower, birthday party or seasonal party invitations, t-shirts, binders, dry erase boards, stationery, magnets, coffee mugs, etc. I'm honestly not sure why that question even came up, but I took it to mean that at my age, I suppose it might expected that I'd be "doing" something more grown-up with my time.  As if, "cartoony stuff" was something young people do.  I'm not sure it was meant that way but that's the way it came across.  It kind of bothered me actually so I had to think about it.  Why do I do cartoony stuff?  

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Product Review: Yellow Jacket Traps

So, it's that time of year when the yellow jackets go a little nutty. If you enjoy eating outside on a patio, they will automatically assume your food and drink is for them, and 700 of their closest friends.  It makes for a rather unpleasant meal time.

I don't really know why they do this, I just know they do.  For whatever reason, this year they seem to be more obnoxious than usual, and we've been having a rough time with them for the last couple of weeks.

I looked online and there are all sorts of ways you can "upcycle" old pop bottles and such to lure them away from your outdoor dining area but since we don't drink pop, I decided I wasn't going to do one of those crafty things.  So off to the store I went to find some kind of yellow jacket trap that actually worked (I'd never used one, so I wasn't even sure what to get).

What I found were all sorts of traps and devices with all sorts of inserts and "attractant" which all had price tags far higher than I wanted to pay. Then I found this cheap little plastic jar with a plastic lid, and two openings on the side. I think it was 2 dollars or something and since I'm cheap, I bought two of them.  Assuming of course, I should have paid 10 times as much for something that works.  I was happily wrong.

The instructions said to fill half-way with sugar water or pop, then hang away from where people gather.  So, I did that but I used sugar water.  It worked so-so, but not like I wanted it to.  So then I bought a bottle of Sprite and used that.  It worked a little better, but still not as well as I'd hoped. So then, I decided to get some fruit juice (apple juice was on sale for a dollar, so that appealed to my cheap-side) and try that.

Well, I filled them half full of apple juice, moved them over to the fence on the side of the house and OH MY GOODNESS!  Within minutes, yellow jackets were swarming all over both of them and there wasn't a single one on the patio.  I went out again just moments ago to get this picture and there are already numerous little buggers inside them.  Still none on the patio.

Now, we haven't had a meal on the patio yet with the traps out there so I don't know if they're a powerful enough draw to keep the beasties away from the food, but for now, it's working.

So do yourself a favor if you're looking for a solution to getting rid of these pesks, and don't want to spend big money.  Either make your own (google it, there are pics all over how to do it) or get the cheap little jars and fill them with fruit juice.


Friday, August 21, 2015

Back to School Clothes Scandal, Anyone?

(With "back to school" just around the corner - and already in session in some places - and it still being summer weather in most areas where boys and girls want to dress comfortably for the weather - I thought it was timely to share this)

I saw this on FB earlier today and it reminded me of all the media attention local high school students generated this past school year over this issue.

Opinions were all over the place on this, from it being too harsh, too lax, students dressing too "trashy" or perfectly fine, but too "trashy" for the school administrators.

In some of the cases I saw in the media, the girls were in fact dressed 100% inappropriate for school (in my opinion as a mom with 6 daughters).  In others, the girls were dressed no different than my own 16 year old. While I don't insist my girls head off to school dressed in flour sack dresses, I don't let them leave the house looking all "hey boys, check out the goods!".  Not that any of them would anyway, that's just not their style. Thankfully.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Headline News: Sometimes my attitude genuinely stinks

While reading all the developing news stories yesterday and last evening I kind of got a bit overwhelmed with all the BAD news. From fires to arrests to hacked documents to vile videos about abortion.  Sometimes I think I just want to stick my head in the Happy Sand and pretend none of the wickedness is going on all around me and my loved ones.  Clearly that would be irresponsible but it's so very tempting.

So then... Ashley Madison.  By now everyone's heard all about it.  Including girls or women actually named, "Ashley Madison". Imagine that special kind of awkward.

A few thoughts.

When I first heard the client data had been released by hackers, my very first thought was GOOD!  Followed by thoughts of how every single subscriber deserved absolutely every kind of devastation and humiliation coming to them.  From marital, to financial, to career and more.  All of it. Boom. Justice. Done!

But that was my flesh thinking, not my heart.  Really, when you think about all the stupid, awful, dumb things any of us have done (you, me, your spouse, your kids, my kids) and hoped would never come out for public consumption, we're kind of all AM Subscribers in a way. Obviously we're not all looking to cheat on our spouses but we've all got our own private, personal junk that we'd never want the world to know.  If we're Christians, we've already dealt with it with the Lord and that's as far as we'd want it to ever go. Ever. So in a way, I had to sort of back-track on my "ha, you get what you deserve you cheating pig!" mindset.  I'm all about justice, but I'm also eternally grateful for God's grace and mercy and that same grace and mercy extended to me from other believers who know full well there own sin isn't any prettier than mine.

In discussing it with my husband we talked about the children of these cheating husbands, their wives, and extended families and how they certainly didn't deserve the coming humiliation, and how they were the real victims in all this.  I CANNOT EVEN IMAGINE.

So, it was good to read this last night from Dustin Germain from The Reformed Pub.  These days, not much shocks me but I will say I was very disheartened and disappointed to learn Josh Duggar's name was on that list of subscribers.  I shared my thoughts on the whole Duggar fiasco here and here back in June.  Some (wrongfully) assumed I was defending Josh Duggar so I suppose I fall into the camp (mentioned in the Reformed Pub's blog post) of the 3rd group of people.  I do want to take exception to a part of it however:

"Finally there will be the family of Christ who defended him while acknowledging his sin. They will be heartbroken. They stood up for him as a Christian who sinned greatly in his youth but who had been restored in mercy and grace, and now they will be stung and embarrassed at having done so, often passionately in the face of skepticism and doubt. Even the very act of sticking up for a child molester tested and strained the forgiveness they were willing to extend, and yet they assumed and trusted the best even though all they had to go on was his word and some fruit they saw him bear. This was because they recognized the power of the gospel to actually change lives, evidenced by their own, and they believed that Christ again had done another miracle in regeneration. Now though, in place of that hope, there is a strange, disquieting sadness."

What I posted back in June wasn't actually a defense of Josh Duggar but more of an appeal for folks to really think about their attitudes about the whole thing, in the factual context of how things happened.  Despite that, I'm not at all embarrassed for what I said then. Disappointed?  Absolutely.  Heartbroken for his wife and children, and siblings?  No question about it.  It's a very shameful thing to be outed as a hypocrite, and that shame extends directly to one's closest loved ones.

I really liked the closing segment of this same post which starts out "So what are we to do?"  PRAY.  For Josh's wife, his children, his family, his victims and for Josh himself.  I would simply add, that we might pray about our own attitudes when we read something like this. We're all so bent on justice for wrongs (and that's not a bad thing at all) when it comes to things like this but I think sometimes we forget "Josh Duggar" could be anyone.  You, me, your spouse or your kid.  Calling his sin for what it is, is fair and right.  But sometimes I think we're all just a little too eager for under-the-bus justice for others, when we're so thankful we received grace instead.

Just my 2 cents, for what it's worth.



Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Awkward Day

There are all kinds of special days in people's lives.  From birthdays to wedding anniversaries, the day you bought your first house (or first car), the day you graduated, or landed your dream job and on and on the list goes.  It's different for everyone, but everyone has some kind of list of days.  Then, there are other days that are hard to forget no matter how hard you really want to.  Days where not-so-wonderful things happened and it was traumatic enough to go down in your mental hall of records as "that day".

For me, that day is today, August 15th.  Specifically, August 15, 1995.  Twenty years ago today I became a widow.

I've thought about the day off and on for the last month or so (only because others have mentioned it, really) and of course today when I woke up it was among my first thoughts: "today is the day".  Followed by "now what?"

It's such an awkward day.  There are no rules like for birthdays where you wrap gifts, bake a cake and sing songs.  No special plans are made like dinner reservations or shopping for a new dress.  There's nothing to take a picture of and stick in the photo album to remind you of "this day".  It's just there, sticking out of the calendar going "hey, remember me?"

Well of course we remember, but we don't really want to.  At least I don't.  I don't want to remember the details of that day.  I don't want to remember how I felt that day.  I don't want to remember the phone calls I had to make or the places I had to go.  The one thing I don't want to remember ever again, is the looks on my children's faces when I had to tell them.  If I never see those expressions on their precious faces (or any of my other children born after that time), it will be too soon.

It's one of those days you don't talk about.  Or do you?  Do you mention it?  Who do you mention it to?  How do you decide who to bring it up to, and bring them down with your thoughts of "hey, today is the anniversary of the day I became a widow"?  You don't really want to do that but somehow it feels like you're supposed to say something, to someone. I'm not even sure why, but it does.

So as I've thought about it off and on throughout today, I've decided the best way to deal with this day is to look at all the awesome that has taken place since that day.

Those little kids who's expressions broke my heart into a million pieces?  They're all grown up now with lives and children and experiences of their own.  We talk almost every day, and they spend time here at home with mom off and on, and I can easily say I'm so very blessed they are mine.  It wasn't easy for any of them and they'll never know what it was like to not have to deal with that as children, but that experience, as brutal as it was, had a large part in making them who they are today.  Loving, appreciative, thoughtful, compassionate people.  Okay some of them are a little weird too (fine, they're all weird!) but they are who they are, and I love them so much I can't stand it.

That first few weeks and months (and years, to be honest) is still rather blurry and I'm okay with that.  There was too much pain to remember it all.  Too many mistakes made, too many bad choices, too many trials and errors.  Too many tears.  Yet God was merciful and gracious and brought a new (and wonderful) husband into my life and four more awesome kids.

In all the years since that day, so many amazing, wonderful, incredible things have happened.  I've experienced the joy of becoming a grandmother, traveled to amazing and breathtaking places, re-connected with my step-son (who struggled in his own way) and met his children, bought my first home, and... well, there's so much I can't even begin to list it all.  The more I think about how much awesome has filled the last 20 years the more I could easily come up with.

Of course it hasn't all been rainbows and sunshine.  Life has done what life does and takes you down in the valley then back up to the mountain.  Again, and again, and again.  Overall however, it's been an incredibly good and blessed life for the last twenty years.

So I guess all I really want to say about "this day" is that it happened, it hurt beyond words but... that was then, and this is now.  God has blessed my life in ways I would have never dreamed of, since that day.  I suppose it will always be an awkward day in some regard, but I like to think about the "since then" and the "now" and the "what will next year and then 10 or 20 years from now bring?" instead of anything else.

Oh, and August 15th was also the opening day of Woodstock.  Anyone who knows me and knows my love of classic rock, will understand.

Edited to add:  I've decided to share what I had to say about this last year, on this day.  You can read that here.  I'm only adding it because I hope it helps someone, who may need to feel that same hope that is rather elusive, at first.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

You Keep Using That Word...

I've thought of about 50 different ways to say what I want to say on this subject. I'm pretty sure anything I do have to say has already been said in a much more eloquent way by someone else anyway, so it probably wont be anything new. I do want to say it with all honesty and with all kindness, and respect however.  So I'll just go ahead and start off rambling and hope it makes sense to someone. Deal? Great!

So, the Supreme Court's ruling to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states... confirmed something we (society) have known for quite some time now: we (society) disagree on what marriage is. Really, this is not news to anyone who's been paying attention for longer than 20 minutes. While Bible believing Christians believe God defined marriage as a sacred union between one man and one woman, unbelieving people disregard that and are perfectly okay with marriage being between anyone, of any gender-identity.  Again, this is really not news.

Bible believing Christians (and I need to make that distinction because there are people that call themselves Christians but don't actually believe what the Bible teaches about many things) and non-Christian members of society disagree on lots of things besides what marriage really means.  From how you really get to Heaven, who Jesus actually was, male/female roles (within the church as well as within the family), abortion, divorce, adultery, pre-marital sex, and about 800 million other things from the length of your skirt to the cut of your hair, piercings, tattoos, and this, that and the other.  Some of those things we disagree on are obviously way more important than others, but the point is: we disagree.  We always have, and we always will.  Simply because, our worldview is different, and it always will be.

When I read the news of the Supreme Court ruling, I then read a lot of opinions about it.  Some were very rational, level-headed thinkers while others were, well, let's just say they were not rational at all. That led me to thinking I wanted to create a design that simply summed up what Bible believing Christians do believe about marriage, and why without bashing what other people believe or support, because frankly, that's not "gentleness and reverence" (1Peter 3:15).  Others will support same-sex marriage, and that's their right to do that, just as it is our right to support the historical, traditional, Biblical definition of marriage. So while the Supreme Court defines marriage one way, for the Bible believing Christian it's defined a different way, and it always has been and always will be... and that's what we support.

So with that said, for those who do support Biblical marriage, I've created a limited collection of products with this graphic:


Direct links to each:

White coffee mug, silver water bottle, black water bottle, white 4"x6" magnet, black 4"x6" magnet, white tee, black tee.

(Small sidenote: when I created my graphic design business I named it Reflections.  I've always believed what you wear on your t-shirt (or have on your coffee mug, keychain, bumper sticker, etc.) is a genuine reflection of what's in your heart/mind.  What you're most passionate about, what you really want the world to see.  While "Christian t-shirts" are not everyone's thing, for those who like them, I try to bring it up a notch from the standard slogans.  You can see my limited collection of Christian tees here.)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Vimy Ridge 100th Anniversary

A few weeks ago, one of our high school kids came home from school with an informational booklet on a historic, educational tour to Vimy Ridge 2017.  April 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the battle at Vimy Ridge, France where for the first time ever, four separate divisions of the Canadian military joined forces and defeated the German military.  Nearly 3,600 courageous men lost their lives in that 3 day battle but it was a victorious event that literally put Canada on the map.


The more I read about this 12 day tour, the more we talked about it, the more our 16 year old Rachel and 14 year old Samuel got excited and decided this was something they really wanted to be a part of. Touring the battle site and other historic landmarks in England and France and walking (literally) of the footsteps of Canadians that came before them, 100 years ago.

We read and discussed the cost of this trip, per student, and decided the only way it would be possible to send them on this amazing adventure, would be through some pretty diligent fundraising.  I checked under the mattress and in the hole in the back yard, and there wasn't nearly enough to cover it.

But first, they had to apply to be accepted for this trip.  A big part of the application process was to have their grades for the last year verified as acceptable and to write an essay as to why they wanted to go and what this trip means to them.  They filled out their applications and wrote their essays and late last week, both were notified they'd been accepted!  They're the only brother/sister team in the entire school, so for our family, that's pretty fantastic. And, expensive! (But I cannot adequately express how proud of both of them I am.)

We have several avenues of fundraising available to us but before I talk about that, I'd like for you to watch this video.  This is the travel company organizing the trip they're hoping to be a part of:

 

So now, down to the nitty gritty (and hoping this is where others may feel as excited as we all are, and want to help get these kids to Vimy Ridge!) :) They have (technically) 2 years to raise the money but there is a significant cost up front. Deposits for both of them (paid today) and 3 months payments in advance (for both) to qualify for a monthly payment (which makes paying for the trip a bit more realistic, instead of the full cost up front). That's $1,086 due within the next 30 days.

Their school will be helping them with various fundraising opportunities in the coming months but we already have two in progress. First, I helped them create this GoFundMe campaign.  It lists the breakdown of the costs and features a video of both of them explaining in their own words, what this trip means to them.

Second, I launched a brand new zazzle shop for them today, full of all kinds of commemorative gifts and awesome travel accessories for any Canadian making this trip in 2017

Personalized travel journals, water bottles, totes, backpacks, passport covers and so much more.  All the proceeds of this shop will be going directly to their fundraising efforts so we're really hoping people will share this and get the word out!  I'll be adding more designs (coming soon will be their school logo of We Learn By Doing on a wide variety of inspirational products) asap.

Third, we've created a FB page for them here to keep everyone posted on all the developments, links, etc.  I'll be updating this as much as possible.

We can't get them there on our own and we're hoping you'll help get these kids to Vimy Ridge by liking & sharing all these links in your circle of friends on social media.  If you're able to help by donating to the fundraiser, we thank you in advance!  Every dollar raised matters and will go a long way toward sending these two kids on the trip of a lifetime.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Once Again: The Duggar Family

I've already shared some thoughts on this here but since twitter isn't always the best place to express yourself in the most meaningful way, I feel compelled to post again.  Over the last three evenings Megyn Kelly has devoted her entire show to the Duggar family.  Last night she asks

I have many thoughts on this but first I'd like to say that I thought the interview was very well done.  She asked pointed and important questions, allowed the young women to speak without cutting them off or twisting their words (the way many others would have) and handled the entire painful and sensitive subject with class and respect.  I appreciate that.

Now for my other thoughts in no particular order...

But first, a few things:

I don't know the Duggar family personally.   I've never watched their tv show because I don't care for reality tv. I actually know very little about the Duggar family except that they have way more kids than we do (all with J names - where we only have three J named kids), and they're Christians. I've never felt the need to know anything more about the Duggar family.  When I first heard the news of the "sex scandal" my initial reaction was probably a lot like everyone else's.  I was disgusted.  But then I thought "wait, it's the media, what's the real story here?"  Knowing the way the media works I knew what was initially reported was likely not factual at all.  As it turns out, I was right.

My only real motivation or need to express my thoughts about this whole mess is because on a fundamental level of "family" and "Christian" I can identify with this family, as a mother of many children.  I also have huge issues with lies, and the way the media will spin just about anything to make it sound like THE story of the year when the truth is often nowhere near as horrifying as the media has made it out to be.  Or sometimes it's the opposite and the story is much more complex and painful and the media makes a mockery of it, by omitting some of the most important details.  It's been many years but I've had first hand experience with the media and I've seen myself on tv saying things that were taken so completely out of context, even I wouldn't have completely believed me, if I didn't know the whole story.  So on this level, I also identify in some way with this family.  So with that said...

TRUST ME, IT'S ALL CONFIDENTIAL - NO ONE ELSE WILL EVER KNOW

One of the worst things (in my opinion) to come from this media disaster, is the leaking of the sealed, juvenile/family court records. As difficult as it must be for the Duggar family to have to deal with all of this all over again after 13 years, I cannot even imagine what the broader effect will be now. I hope of course it will have zero effect and those who need help, continue to reach out for it.

If you are an underage victim of sexual abuse or assault, and you've been following this case in the news, how likely is it that you're going to feel like speaking to someone in authority is a safe place for you?  The blatant betrayal of trust by whoever provided those documents to the media is something that absolutely must be investigated. Being the victim of sexual abuse carries enough shame, guilt and stigma (all misplaced, but its the reality all the same) on it's own.  But to take it a step further and see what can happen if you do make the choice to trust someone, is potentially devastating.

The reality is, in most cases, most of the time, your situation and your case will in fact be kept confidential and you can trust the authorities to handle your situation with dignity and respect. The Duggar case is an exception because they are in the public eye and because they are a Christian family.  They were specifically targeted by a malicious, spiteful individual who wanted the general public to think horrible things about them.  And it worked.  The media and the public has eaten it up like candy.  The very public that knows the media spins things to fit their own agenda.  Yet the public, our culture craves scandal so this was a particularly delicious treat, it would seem.

BREAKING NEWS: NEW LURID DETAILS REVEALED IN THE STORY OF THE YEAR

Click-bait.  That's all it is. I've seen some of the headlines associated with this case and they are blatant, 100% lies written for no other reason than to get as many clicks and generate as much conversation and gossip as possible.  The media has played the public like a stinking fiddle.  Yes, no question at all, crimes were committed.  But the actual crimes committed compared to the non-stop accusations and name calling are like night and day.  Those who are calling Josh Duggar a rapist, a pedophile, a predator, a pervert, etc. may as well be calling people like Ted Bundy and John Gacy "difficult neighbors". It's almost as if... folks are reading the lies, and want it to be true so badly, that they just repeat what they've read. Instead of looking honestly and rationally at the facts.

THIS JUST IN: ELECTRICITY HAS BEEN INVENTED

Every once in a while, someone on social media will post something they read in the news, as if it just happened today - when in fact it's an old news story that they'd just never seen before. Just a couple of weeks ago a local, independent news outlet actually posted James Garner's obituary with the headline of something along the lines of "farewell, Rockford".  A bunch of people commented and asked why they were posting last year's news.  They didn't bother to explain, they just deleted the post. Needless to say, that outlet lost numerous credibility points that day.

In very much the same way, this is exactly what's going on with the Duggar family.  Media got hold of an OLD story that wasn't actually a secret or covered up or buried (or any of the other accusations people are making), and made us all think a.) it just happened and b.) it was WAY worse than it really was.  And, right on cue... the public reacted the way the public tends to react when hearing an awful story that includes sexual abuse and children.  And lies, and secrets, and cover-ups and... all the other scandalous adjectives peppered throughout all the media stories.

The thing is, I get why people are angry.  Sexual abuse of children or anyone else SHOULD generate that kind of response.  It's vile and awful and humiliating and all of those things and more. I also get why people are angry about (what some are saying) a "cover up" and how Josh Duggar never paid the civil penalties for what he did.  But in this case, it's an OLD story.  It's something that did happen but it happened 12-13 years ago and was already dealt with by the family, the victims, local law enforcement (who were in fact the ones to drop the ball initially when the state trooped never filed an actual report - let's be honest and lay that blame where it belongs), family services, etc.  It's something the family themselves have moved on from years ago. Yet, because it's just now being revealed to the general public, they have to deal with it again.  Like ripping open a painful scar that took years to heal... just to watch it bleed.  Frankly, I find that revolting.

MY FAMILY/YOUR FAMILY/DUGGAR FAMILY

Part of the reason this story is important to me is because I can relate to this family.  While we have never had an incident of sexual abuse in our immediate family, we most certainly have had some extraordinarily painful, difficult, shameful, awful, terrible times we've had to deal with, walk through, pray about, seek counsel for, and attempt to move on from.  Many tears were shed, many thoughts were had about "will we get past this?" and many days were spent walking on eggshells, with no peace in sight and tension in our home so thick you could practically smell it.  Why?  Because stuff happens.  It happens in every single family.  Some to a greater extent than others but it most definitely does happen.  If anyone reading can honestly say they've never dealt with things like this is their own family, they're either delusional or they are the exception to the rule, and blessed beyond measure.

I think about my own family and think... what if?

What if, after dealing with all the painful things, for some bizarre reason we became famous.  Then, what if, some slimeball who didn't like us, decided to dig deep into our closets to find skeletons?  I can assure you, every family has one or more and we're no different.  Then, said slimeball decided to notify the media about these skeletons and the media ran with it.  How would we deal with that?  Would anyone believe us? Would we cringe every time a new headline was written that was a total lie about what actually happened or how we dealt with it?  Would we chose to do an interview to tell our side of the story about what really happened?  Would anyone believe that interview? Would our motives be judged, over and over again by people that don't even know us, weren't there, and don't have all the facts?

My husband and I actually talked about this the other night as it pertains to this case, and how we'd deal with it if this were our family.  Usually we're both pretty skeptical and critical of things but we both have a great deal of compassion for this family knowing that it could happen to any family.

Then I think about being 14 and the person I was then.  OH MY GOODNESS.  I'm not going to out myself for all the dumb, mean, stupid, thoughtless, rotten things I said and did and thought at 14 years old, but I can tell you I was not a good person, much of the time. I was a rebellious, bull-headed, independent brat and did whatever I wanted to do, despite the rules, despite the consequences.  And I ended up paying for it, in spades.  Then I grew up and became normal (well, for the most part).  Who among us, who among reading about the Duggar family case, is the same person they were at 14?  Well, unless you're just now 15, probably no one.  I don't know Josh Duggar but I know being 14, and it's a galaxy away from being 27.  That much I do know, and I'm sure everyone else does too.

So... just a few more thoughts on this mess.  I do hope the ones most affected by this find peace, and it comes quickly.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Duggar Family, Lies, Facts and Zealots

I've been wanting to address some of the things I've seen in social media but I decided I'd wait until after Megyn Kelly's exclusive interview with Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar before I did that. Now that this has aired, I'm even more compelled.

I'm not going to re-hash all the details of this case but I want to address some of the outright lies and misinformation out there.  Of course I'm not an insider in the case but there are police reports and court records available and if anyone has actually read them, I mean actually read them, they'd already know what was fact and what isn't. I've read the legal documents in this case, despite the fact they should have been sealed to protect the innocent.  So with that said, here are some claims I've seen, and what actually happened:

CLAIM: "The Duggars tried to cover this up!"

FACT: In a word: baloney.  From the parents own statements they did make an attempt to deal with their son and their daughters privately, in-house, at first.  Right or wrong, given the devastating news of what their son had confessed to them, I think a lot of parents might do the same. At first.  After they were informed of it happening again, they consulted with the elders of their church, removed their son from their home and made arrangements for him to be under the counsel of a fellow Christian and once he returned home, took him to the local state police office (with a witness) to confess his crimes to law enforcement.  They also arranged for further counseling for the girls and their son.

Newsflash: if you're attempting to cover up a crime, you don't tell the elders of your church about it to seek their counsel, you don't tell a fellow Christian about the crime and enlist his assistance in counseling your son, you definitely don't march your kid into the police department with the intention of having him confess all he's done, and you certainly don't take a witness with you. You also don't seek out family counseling for your other family members.  If this is the way you're trying to cover up a crime, you're pretty much the dumbest person in the world.

CLAIM: "they reported it to trooper Hutchens only because he was Jim Bob's friend and they knew he was a fellow pervert and he'd help cover it up!"

FACT: the problem with this claim, is that there is simply no facts to back it up. Just a whole pile of rumor, gossip and speculation on the part of those that for some reason, need Jim Bob Duggar to be a twisted, lying, pervert himself. Or, just want others to think he is.

First of all, according to pretty much every media source out there, there's no evidence Mr. Duggar and former state trooper (now inmate at Wrightsville Prison in Arkansas) Hutchens were ever "friends" at all. Duggar knew of him through a professional capacity, and that was that.

Secondly, Hutchens' child pornography charges came years after the fact.  There is absolutely no evidence to support the claim that the Duggars sought out this man specifically to help them cover up anything or that they knew he was a pedophile himself.

CLAIM: "the state trooper says Duggar lied to him, and only told him of ONE incident!"

FACT: Well, technically it's not fact unless of course the entire interview was recorded for proof, but Mr. Duggar not only claims this is a lie, but states his son told the trooper everything, and there was a witness present along with himself.  Again, if you're going to lie to law enforcement about a crime you're turning your kid in for (that you're actually trying to cover up), you don't take a witness that can later testify you actually lied to law enforcement.  Very bad idea.

What I do find particularly striking about this claim is that there are people out there eager and willing to believe the word of a two-time convicted pedophile, over the word of a Christian family man. Let that sink in for a moment.

CLAIM: "He's a rapist and a pedophile!"

FACT: Neither is true.  Rape never occurred (the crime was sexual misconduct/assault in the form of touching). That crime alone is reprehensible enough without exaggerating it and making it sound as if it was more than it was. The legal, medical, and psychiatric definition of a pedophile is an adult (over the age of 16) with a particular deviant sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children that is recurrent (often or repeatedly).   The facts in this case do not represent pedophilia in any sense of the legal definition.

There are so many more allegations about this family and this case.  More than I even care to address, that's for sure.  It comes as no surprise to me at all that unbelievers are delighting in the scandal.  It's extraordinarily disheartening to me however, that even some Christians are taking the same glee with it, and have essentially judged and sentenced them all.

I've seen some cry that civil justice was never served in this case, since no charges were ever brought.  This is true, but this is not at the fault of the Duggar family, as they DID in fact go to law enforcement.  Yet now, for motives we can only speculate on, instead of civil justice for 1 perpetrator, it's a matter of social condemnation of the entire family and anyone connected to them. Including the parents, and the victims, and all the siblings that had nothing to do with any of it, but are now laying under the bus with the rest of the people named Duggar.  The INjustice of that boggles my mind. The callousness, lack of grace, lack of compassion, lack of human decency.  All from people that claim to be victim advocates and/or caring Christians.

The fact is, in 2002/2003 a crime was committed against 5 girls by a 14/15 year old boy. The parents were notified, the church was notified, law enforcement was notified, and accredited, professional counseling was sought out by the parents for all affected.  I believe Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar did all they could, all they thought was right, at the time, to deal with what their son had done, and get the girls the counseling they needed as well. As a mother myself of 7 kids, I honestly cannot even begin to imagine what it must have been like to hear this awful news.  It's the worst news a mother can hear about her own children, and to add pain upon pain, to learn it was one of her very own children that committed the crime?  Heartbreaking is the only word that comes to mind and it doesn't feel like it even comes close to how that would feel.

The only real questions for me now are:

1. Why the real pedophile in this case, (the former state trooper that was notified of the crime, the one who was using not only his own home computer to access such vile and wicked material, but also the county owned computer he used during his time as a court bailiff, according to legal documents) chose not to actually file a police report.  I could speculate on this all day, but there are no real answers.  My best guess is, what he was hearing from Josh and Jim Bob Duggar was a walk in the park compared to what he himself was into, and didn't find it worthy of an investigation.

2. How did a sealed, juvenile record become public knowledge, complete with the names of minor victims? Where is the investigation into how that document was leaked out to the media? Someone most definitely must be held accountable for this.

I can only pray that the right thing is done for all concerned in this heartbreaking case and that somehow, in some way, God would be glorified through it all. And for all the zealots (both unbelievers and Christians alike) out there so gleefully throwing the Duggar family under the bus, that nothing like this ever happens in their own families.

Sadly in this twisted, fallen, wicked world we live in, statistics are not on their side.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Eleven Years and Counting

So here we are.  Eleven years after I started blogging in June of 2004.  It's not one of those things I sit around and think about so typing that out seems, odd, somehow.  Has it really been 11 years since I sat down and thought up a name for my blog (that wasn't easy but it stuck, and I'm still happy with it), and began to journal my daily thoughts?  Yes, it really has, although daily posts stopped several years ago once I began to work full time.

As I've thought about it over the last few days as I decided if I wanted to mark this personal milestone event (or not) with a post, I thought about all the changes that have taken place not only with the blog, but with me, social media, and blogging in general.  In all areas really, there have been some pretty big changes.

IN THE BEGINNING

Before I started blogging myself, I had a friend who'd started a blog and in his first post he said something about leaving a digital footprint for his newborn son.  He wanted to leave something of a written legacy (his own writings about life and what everything means) for his son and future children to someday read and understand who he was as an adult, as a deep thinker, and not just "dad".  I was rather impressed with that motive for blogging and thought I'd like to do the same.  I've kept diaries and journals since I was about 10 years old so this just felt like the natural progression of things.

Since that first post, I think I've probably covered more topics than I can even remember ever writing about.  Everything from parenting, to phobias, pretty much every Christian doctrine, society, entertainment, politics, traditions, recipes, cats, lions, tigers and bears.  Oh my!  At one time, I had a rather large daily readership (and was on the "blog rolls" of several well known, BIG TIME bloggers, which was very humbling) and I was thankful for their interest and the comments they'd leave.  Often challenged by questions or ideas I hadn't considered previously (or ones I had, and had a lot to say about, because let's be honest, I have a big mouth and usually have a lot to say about a lot of things) blogging became a tremendously exciting way to engage with people on such a wide variety of topics.  I loved it!

Over the years there are a handful of posts I've written that (for a variety of reasons I'm sure) people just keep looking for & reading & commenting on.  Another blogger recently celebrating his own 10 years of blogging calls those his "evergreens".  Those posts that remain timely, relevant, and serve to encourage and bless those reading many years after the fact.  I have those evergreens as well and I'm really glad in-between all the other "stuff" I've gone on about over the years, those posts still matter to a fairly wide audience.

AS TIME GOES BY

Several years ago we stopped homeschooling and I went to work full-time (at home, but still full time) on my graphic design.  As I began to channel my creativity into design, I began to blog less, and less.  Not that I still didn't have plenty to say, but at the end of the day being at the computer all day I didn't really have the energy to sit and blog.  I missed it, and I still miss it, but that's just the way it goes.

The funny thing is, as weeks rolled into months and months into years of blogging less, I found myself far more circumspect about the way I would write when I did decide to sit down and blog.  Instead of essentially dying on every hill, I found less hills.  Instead of being so black and white on so many issues, I saw much more gray.  There is much gray in our world and everything does not have a neat little answer and a neat little label.  Instead of being so critical of everything I found wrong with people/issues/worldviews, I found myself trying to be more compassionate and really seek to understand what they're dealing with that makes them the way they are.  Instead of just firing off one of those "and THIS is the way it is!" posts, about whatever was in the news or what have you, I found myself not blogging about it but actually thinking more about it and researching it and simply keeping my opinions to myself.  One does not always need to express their opinion, just because one can.  I have found the older I get and the more I see and the more I experience in my own life, there is much that must simply be covered by prayer, compassion and much grace.

When I go back now from time to time and read some of my earliest blog posts, sometimes I cringe.  Sometimes that old saying comes to mind that goes something like "what would the 50 year old you say to the younger you?".  I have no doubt in my mind, the 50 year old me would tell the younger me to discover the fine art of shutting up, and thinking more.  But, I leave those posts up as a testament to how far the Lord has brought me from those days.

FUTURE BLOGGER

I have thought of deleting my blog completely.  I think I've had that thought once, probably in the midst of some self-absorbed moment of utter frustration with being misunderstood. If there's one thing I cannot stand, it's being misunderstood, or having someone read into what I said while not hearing at all what I meant.  I'm pretty sure everyone goes through that from time to time.  It's even easier in this digital world of words on a screen without the facial expressions, body language, fluctuations in voice patterns, and all else that goes along with face-to-face communication and discussion.

I have no intention of deleting my blog.  Like a favorite old pair of jeans, I come back over and over again to share my thoughts on this, that, or some other.  I still have recipes to share (like that Taco Lasagna I made last night! Oh my WORD that was insanely delicious!!), and I still enjoy writing too much to not have a place to do that & encourage or inspire or challenge others to think a little deeper about things.  Social media is all well and good, and I'm there nearly every day but this is still my favorite place to let my thoughts sort of roam.  I may not blog every day anymore (or even every week, or every month!) and I may not even have any readers anymore (I haven't ever checked, I think it would make me sad), but I'm still here, and if the Lord wills, will continue to blog until I run out of things to say.

So, happy 11 years to me.

Now, who wants that recipe?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bullying Gone Viral 2015

Bullying: the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuseintimidate, or aggressively dominate others.

Bullying has been around for as long as human beings have, and in one form or another, we've all dealt with it, known someone who dealt with it, or maybe even engaged in it ourselves at one time.  In our modern day however, bullying has taken on a more insidious form in that bullies like to take it online to social media. For lack of a better term, it's literally invaded the lives of kids and even adults in some cases.

In this case that I read about earlier this week, the story had nearly every single element of old school and modern bullying all rolled into one:

I've chosen to obscure the boy's face.
Dad finds out his kid has been bullying another kid at school, so dad decides to write this sign, have someone take a pic of him and his son together, then dad posts this very PUBLIC pic on his son's Facebook page with this comment:

"This is what happens when dad finfs out you are being a bully at school. My golden rule is you dont start fights or touch anyone unless they lay hands on you first. Feel free to tell kayden how wrong it is to be a bully or share stories to help him understand the effects of these actions on the victoms. DO NOT ATTACK MY SON THIS IS TO BE A POSITIVE ACTION NOT NEGITIVE. *******PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS AS WELL TO HELP STOP THIS FROM HAPPENING OTHER PLACES AS WELL! THANK YOU!"

In the world of social media sharing, it didn't take long for this picture and this story to spread like wildfire and get picked up by numerous mainstream media outlets, bloggers, FB users, etc.  The image has been shared thousands of times from the original source, and God only knows how many thousands more from secondary sources.  

I first saw the article on The Blaze's FB page here, and left a simple comment:

"Publicly shaming your own child is never an appropriate form of punishment."
I had no idea the response would be as it was.  Overwhelmingly, on that page and on every other article I've seen on this, people are responding with such things as "way to go dad!" and praising this father for doing what he's done.  Color me shocked that parents would honestly believe publicly shaming their children online is an acceptable form of punishment or discipline. From the responses I have seen, people who think this is a horrible way to punish your kids seem to be in the extreme minority.

Here's what I think...

DISCIPLINE

Every parent needs to take a pro-active role in their kid's lives.  If they do something awesome, praise them.  If they do something awful, they need to be disciplined.  In this case, from what I've been able to gather (various articles say different things so I honestly don't know the facts), this kid was being mean to another kid at school.  I don't know if it was one time thing, an ongoing thing or any other details. Regardless, if he was engaging in bullying another kid that's serious business and at the very least he should have been made to apologize to the kid, and had some privileges taken away for a time. At the very least.  Anything else after that is certainly up for question especially if it was a one shot deal or an ongoing thing.

GOOD PARENTING IN A DIGITAL AGE

On the whole idea of posting this boy's pic, I'm honestly embarrassed for this boy.  Yes, I've posted it here as well (I've blurred the boy's face but the actual image is all over the internet) but sadly the horses are already out of the barn so there it is.  Not only did this father post a humiliating pic of his kid for the world to see, he told the world where the kid goes to school.  Hands down, across the board, in EVERY single online safety article, course, pamphlet, etc., guarding your privacy and that of your children is emphasized.  For the sake of "teaching this boy a lesson" he exposed him and his privacy to the world to see.  Not only that, he posted a humiliating image that will indeed follow this kid around for the rest of his life.  There is the potential now for every future employer or professional contact to pull this pic up.  As it's said, once it's out there, it's out there for good.

I don't know why this dad thought this was a good idea.  I don't know why so many parents agree with it.  I think most of them, if given the time to sit and think this one through, might think twice about such a thing.  Or, maybe not?  Maybe the whole idea of posting something that has the potential to "go viral" in our day and make you famous for a minute, is so enticing that common sense and good parenting just flies right out the window?  Maybe that's it.

Timothy Robenhorst (center)
Maybe instead of showing off his savvy parenting skills for the world to see, dad (oh, and this is dad, by the way, the one being praised for being such a great role model for his son, wearing a tee with a swastika on it and says the symbol represents his beliefs) could have mentioned to his son the recent story in the news about the little girl named Desiree Andrews with Down Syndrome who was bullied at middle school basketball game and had some pretty awesome classmates stand up for her? Desiree and the boys who stood up for her, as well as the kid in the humiliating pic posted by dad, are all roughly the same age, all in middle school, and so maybe dad showing his son what compassion, kindness, and real friendship looks like in kids of the same age, could have had a more positive impact on his son?

Maybe instead of jumping on the whole public shaming bandwagon that seems to be so popular these days, dad could have jumped on this golden, private, man-to-man teaching moment and had a heart to heart talk with his kid about what it might feel like for him, if he were born with disabilities or a physical disfigurement and other kids teased him or mocked him and made him feel like an outsider?  Maybe dad could have told him a real man, a real friend is one with honor and integrity and good character and instead of running others down, he comes to their defense if others are being abusive or hurtful to them?

As soon as I read this article, my 30+ years of parenting kicked in and I thought of so many different, very effective ways dad could have handled this issue with his son, without the public ever knowing about it.

Some of the comments on the original article I replied to assumed I had never been bullied as a kid so I had no idea what it feels like, and therefore don't understand why it's a good thing this dad did what he did.  Quite the contrary.  I was in fact bullied as a kid all the time.  I was born with a droopy, twitchy eyelid that (as a child, it's not so noticeable anymore) would twitch quite obviously whenever I'd eat or say certain words.  Almost like a marionette where you pull the strings and make it dance, my jaw muscles and eyelid muscles are attached in the same way.  So nearly every day at lunch I'd hear "watch when she eats, it's so funny".  Oh I'm sure it was a regular stand-up act for all.  It made me feel like a freak and I'd always eat with my head down facing my desk so no one could see my eyelid twitch when I'd eat.  Thankfully I did gain friends over the years who would stand up for me and eventually I got sick of it myself and started standing up for myself but yes, I do know what it's like to be bullied.  It's because I was bullied and publicly shamed as a kid that I would never even consider for a moment, to use that same tactic on a kid to teach them a lesson.  Especially when there are so many better ways.

After commenting on this at The Blaze the other day, I was going to leave it there.  I tried, but I really couldn't.  I suggested to a friend Andrew Lawton, the host of London Ontario's am980's afternoon talk radio show, that he should do a segment on this story as I believe it's a timely news item that affects so many people. He did a segment on it today and just like at The Blaze, it seems the majority of people responding were all in favor of the dad's actions in this story.

Like I said there... it honestly makes me sad that so many parents think it's perfectly acceptable to post humiliating pics of the own kids, online.  God help us all.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Let's Talk About Sex (Ed)

So, I've read the Revised Ontario Health and Physical Education Curriculum (more commonly referred to as the new Ontario Sex Education curriculum) for students in grades 1-8 and I have some thoughts.

First, I should say I've read only parts of it and only the parts that I know have changed, and only the parts that actually pertain to sex education. I have honestly not read all 244 pages but I have read the sections that are of interest to me as a mother and grandmother of school aged kids/grand kids in Ontario schools.

Second, I have to say, it's not all bad. There's actually a lot of good stuff in there about the importance of consent and the importance of abstinence as a positive choice and why it should be respected.

That being said, I'm old school and still believe what ought to be taught is basic human/reproductive anatomy, how STDs (or STIs as they're now being called) are transmitted, prevented, treated, etc., and then the rest of it... left for parents to decide when the child is old enough to have those kinds of conversations.

From all I've heard and read, big deal for most parents is the Who and the What. The government (the Who) has decided our children are all ready, all at the same age, to learn the same things (the What). As every parent knows, this is baloney. Not all 6 year old kids (or 9 or 12 year olds either) will understand the same things, the same way. 

For many parents it's simply inappropriate that there will be people other than them (or their family doctor) having these kinds of conversations with their children. It's one thing for a child to be taught basic reproductive anatomy and medical facts, but it's an entirely different ballgame for someone to teach your child about a variety of sexual acts and sexual lifestyles (and then prompt conversations about them) with the purpose of teaching they all fall within the umbrella of normal, common and acceptable. For a lot of people in our society they are all normal and acceptable, but for a lot of other people, this kind of teaching infringes into personal, religious, or cultural territory. It intentionally blurs the lines between what is reproductive fact, and what is personal opinion, and then lumps them both into the same category.

Imagine the outrage and uproar we'd all be hearing if the only common, acceptable and normal sexual lifestyle that was taught in this revised curriculum, was intimacy between a husband and a wife. Obviously this is what Christians believe and what the Bible teaches, but the point is, that's a personal opinion held by Christians. It is not the opinion of others in a variety of sexual lifestyles and when you're teaching one over the other that's where things get muddled.  This is exactly why so many are saying this new curriculum is more about pushing a social agenda and social engineering than teaching the facts.  The exact same thing would be said if it were only teaching about Christian marriage.

One of the things I've read about and heard about is the concern by many parents that there is so much information in this revised curriculum being introduced at such young ages, it feels very much like child grooming to them. I know many would roll their eyes at this suggestion but here's the basic definition of child grooming:

Child grooming (for the purpose of sexual exploitation and abuse by an adult) involves planned, emotional and psychological manipulation in the form of positive reinforcement using activities and conversations over a period of time, that are typically legal and deemed socially acceptable. This is done to gain the child's trust as well as the trust of those responsible for the child. A trusting relationship with the family means the child's parents are less likely to believe potential accusations as well as enabling direct access to the child.
To establish this kind of trusting relationship, child groomers might do several things. For example, they might take an undue interest in someone child, to be the child’s "special" friend to gain the child’s confidence. They may insert themselves into the child's life as someone who can be trusted, someone the child can talk to, and tell private things to. They may simply talk about sexual topics or acts with the goal of making it easy for the child to accept such acts, thus normalizing the behavior. They might talk about subjects normally discussed between adults, or at least people of the same age. Topics might include marital problems, (romantic or sexual) relationship dynamics and family/sibling conflicts. They may try to gain the child’s parents’ trust and confidence by befriending them, with the goal of easy access to the child. They will be a source of positive emotional reinforcement to the child with frequent, personal compliments that mention how pretty or handsome the child is, or how smart, talented or "grown up" the child appears to be. They may also consistently affirm for the child that other adults in their life may not understand them or understand their need to talk about sexual subjects. These are just some of the methods a child groomer might use to gain a child's trust and affection to allow them to become closer to the child.
A groomer will use several methods to desensitize a child to sexual topics and sexual acts, in an effort to get the child to become less inhibited about future physical and sexual contact. It is a behavior that is characteristic of pedophilia. 

If you've read the pdf, read the types of subjects being introduced at different ages and the suggested Teacher prompts and expected student responses based on what they've learned, it's understandable why some parents are rather uncomfortable with teachers having these kinds of conversations with their children. While I'm not about to jump on The Sky is Falling bandwagon or even suggest for a moment that everyone who had a hand in this revised curriculum is a pedophile (although there is the issue with Benjamin Levin and we can't pretend that didn't happen - and I can bet no one realized at the time there was a pedophile in charge of a revised sex ed curriculum for public school aged children), I do have to admit it feels a little groom-y to me as well.

If you have school aged kids in Ontario, I would strongly recommend that you do read this revised curriculum. As I've said, it's NOT all bad as it pertains to sexual health and development. However, depending on your personal, cultural or religious views, there will definitely be things there that you will strongly disagree with and should be aware of because your kids are going to be taught these things.

More important however, than reading this new curriculum is that you talk to your kids and that you teach your kids at home what matters most. If they have a solid foundation from the beginning, when they come across things like this in school or in life, they'll be better equipped to process it, think about it, talk about it, and decide for themselves how they see it, rather than just accept it as fact or truth.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Pro-Vax, Anti-Vax and making the informed choice

With all the talk in the media recently about vaccinations and whether we should or should not, it got me to thinking about all the conversations I've had over the last 18 years with people about this very subject.  It's never been an easy conversation to have. With anyone, either pro or con. Partly because people in general tend to be very legalistic about this subject as well as rather judgmental, insulting and dismissive if you don't agree. I know for sure I have fallen at times into all these camps myself, and that's not something I'm proud of.

Brief history of where I've stood on this issue:

Kids 1, 2 and 3 were all vaccinated (or got their Puppy Shots as their pediatrician used to call them). With each kid, and with each shot, I was given an Informed Consent form to read and sign first.  I read every word, for every shot and always signed it.  None of them ever had any problems with any of the shots except for the occasional swelling in the area of the injection.

Kid 4 began to receive all her shots the same as the others, then at just over a year old, we noticed a change in her immediately after a vaccination. I'll spare all the details but suffice it to say the changes were noticeable enough I called the doctor's office and they assured me they were definitely not related to the shot. Over the next year the changes in her became more pronounced, and after months of internet research and reading the experiences of other parents just like us we stumbled across the study that has since been debunked but at the time, was making a LOT of noise in the medical community.  Unfortunately, like so many other parents, we believed that study.  It was the only thing that made sense, at the time. At times I suppose we were what you'd call "anti-vaxxers" but really, we were more "we're just not sure-vaxxers" due to so much conflicting information available.

That was then.  This is now:

Since that time we have obviously come to understand that a.) the changes in Kid 4 were changes that would have happened regardless.  This is simply the way God made her.  She has a "moderate developmental disability" which is a long way for saying, she's just a bit slower than most kids her same age. While she has been in the specialized education program at school for the last 5+ years, she is very high-functioning. She cooks, (and makes the best omelet I've ever had), spends too much time on her tablet on Netflix and texting her friends, sleeps in until noon on Saturdays and is even doing co-op placement/job training at school.  In many ways, she's just like any other teenager.  Although she does have limitations that will always be there.  We believe now it was simply a coincidence that we began to notice these changes in her at the same time she had a Puppy Shot.  Like the doctor's office said at the time "those symptoms are not connected to this vaccination".

At the time however, we opted out of having Kids 5, 6 and 7 vaccinated, and didn't finish Kid 4's childhood vaccination schedule.

NOW

Now we believe, that was a mistake we made based on a.) false info floating around out there and b.) wanting to protect our kids from whatever possible side effects could potentially occur.  Simply stated, we were wrong.  After much discussion over the last year or so, we have made the decision that we will be getting ALL of them vaccinated (and we have talked about it with them as well and they all agree they want to be vaccinated), in the same way children coming to Canada from other cultures that do not vaccinate, get caught up.  It's a much different process than Puppy Shots but it's still just as effective.

I read this really well written article today and for parents who might still be on the fence, I think it will help.  Or, at least give some very important food for thought and information to pray about as you come to this decision for yourself, and your children.

Friday, January 23, 2015

So, Let's Review

I don't know about anyone else, but one of the great things about online shopping for me is being able to read reviews from others who have purchased the same exact product I'm considering purchasing.  Good, bad and middle-of-the-road I read them all and usually make a decision based on what I've read.

So, a couple of years ago when zazzle.com enabled product reviewing on my OWN designs, I was a little nervous.  What if people hated them?  What if they left awful reviews??  Well, to be honest, sometimes it's kind of hard to please people but overall, the reviews that have come in over the years have been pretty fantastic.  In fact, checking new reviews are one of the first things I do each day to get a feel for how folks are enjoying the products (or what I might be able to fix, edit or otherwise tweak, to make it even better).  Here are some of my favorite reviews that have come in:


Without a doubt, this is my favorite review of all time :)  The person who left the review is a fellow zazzle designer (see Jerry's work here) and he was kind of enough to leave this fun review.
GOOD MORNING SUNSHINE MUG
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I'm SO looking forward to this recipe binder saving the earth!
RETRO LOOK FAMILY RECIPE BINDER
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Just the title of this review caught my attention :)
FUNNY PRESCRIPTION COFFEE MUG
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lol, frame it!
FUNNY PRESCRIPTION LABEL POST-IT NOTES
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w00t! Way to score points!
RETRO LOOK FAMILY RECIPE BINDER
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Just what the doctor ordered? :)
FUNNY PRESCRIPTION LABEL FROSTED BEER MUG
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FanFrazzlingTastic review from "That Dude".
PERSONALIZED GUITAR PICKS
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Giant, foil wrapped bar? How can you go wrong? ;-)
CUSTOM BIRTHDAY 45 PIECE BOX OF CHOCOLATES
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Notice: STICK FAMILY EATEN!
FUNNY ZOMBIE STICK FAMILY BUMPER STICKER
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I love the idea I was able to help another artist simplify their work. :)
VINTAGE CHALKBOARD RETURN ADDRESS LABELS
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Have you purchased anything from one of my zazzle shops?  I'd love to see your review, and maybe even feature it here!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Cosby, Rights, Wrongs and Rape

(I've had to do some editing on this since I posted yesterday as blogger was doing some rather odd things with the text that I didn't catch until now)

I almost didn't write this at all for a hundred different reasons but the main one is, I don't want to see any snotty, hateful, emotional, reactionary comments and/or emails, tweets, etc.  I know that's probably pretty selfish of me but I kind of enjoy an obscure, peaceful, non-confrontational life :)  So, with that said, I'm going to try as best I can to phrase this very carefully so there is no misunderstanding at all.  

Just saying that almost guarantees no matter how I say it, someone's going to be offended or read it incorrectly.  We certainly do seem to live in the age of the Perpetually Offended.  Hopefully though, this is received in the spirit it's written in, and that is one of logic, reason, fairness and justice.

COSBY

By now, pretty much everyone who's anyone, and anyone who is an unknown (and their dog, ferret and canary) has written about Bill Cosby and the allegations of sexual assault against him.  Some articles & blog posts are spot on, some are horrifically neanderthal-ish and others are somewhere in-between.  I'm not about to say anything here you haven't already read before but that's mostly because this really isn't about Bill Cosby.  It's more about the kinds of thinking and deductive reasoning I've seen online since all the proverbial doo-doo hit the social media fan.  Essentially, this is more about the way people think, than the actual case of All These Women v. Bill Cosby.

Based purely on the reaction to the Cosby allegations by so many, and even those who would be considered well-informed, well-educated and intelligent, fair-minded people, I have found myself rather stunned at some of the comments.  They simply don't sound like informed, educated, intelligent and/or fair-minded comments.  In many cases, they sound like "prepare the torches, sharpen the pitch-forks and meet me at the edge of the forest at sundown!" lynch-mob mentality.  What I find even more disturbing about these kinds of comments is that they're based on nothing more than what the mainstream media & social media is perpetuating.  Gossip, rumor, accusations, allegations, suspicions, speculations, etc.  I think it's important to remember not one of the allegations against Cosby have been validated/proven in a court of law either by evidence, testimony or any other means.  NOT ONE.  There has been no arrest, no charges, no court/jury decision, no testimony, no evidence, due process of any kind, at all.  NONE.  All of this, is based 100% on her (and her and her and her times about 27 at this point) word against his.  None of which would be admissible in a court of law.  Interestingly enough.

RIGHTS

Now please, as you read this, feel free to replace "Cosby" any time you see it, with "my bother" or "my son" or "my husband" or any other male close to you.  Because the truth is, this can (and does, sadly) happen to someone close to you, or someone you care about, and will most certainly change the way you might think about it, if it were to happen. God forbid.

Does this mean I automatically think Cosby is actually innocent of all these awful against him? No, no it does not.  For all I know, he's 100% guilty and frankly, that sickens me more than I can articulate here. Mostly because it's reprehensible that a man could do the things he's been accused of but also partly, because I grew up thinking he was just a nice, funny guy.  I hate the idea of thinking I was duped by his public image when privately, he may have been just another depraved monster seeking sexual gratification.  Our world is TOO full of these kinds of people already.  However, it is most certainly possible that he's 100% innocent, and for whatever equally reprehensible, sickening, selfish reasons has been targeted by people for whatever reason(s) seems justifiable to them.  Yes, that happens too.  Statistics tell us it's pretty rare, but it does actually happen.

The FACT is, I don't personally know whether he's guilty or innocent and I don't NEED to know that, to know what a US citizen's rights are under the law.

Sadly, that doesn't translate into the court of social media circus opinion.  The fact is, it does not matter if the law says you are protected under the US Constitution to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.  Nor does it matter that the same rights guarantee you protection of your life, liberty (which includes being gainfully employed without slander and/or libel affecting your livelihood) and property, until such time a court of law finds you guilty of whatever charges have been leveled against you.

For whatever reason(s), we're now all watching Cosby's 2015 itinerary shrink day by day, as more and more people jump on this bandwagon to remove him of his liberty to pursue his livelihood, as they have chosen to literally throw the baby out with the bathwater and made up their minds he's guilty as accused.  EVEN THOUGH, there isn't a single court decision that backs this up.  Not one.  Anywhere.  In any state.

Call me naive, call me ignorant, call me whatever you want, but I still believe in the criminal justice system.  As flawed as it is, and of course it is since we have flawed human beings running the show that enforce it, it's the BEST we've got to mete out FAIR and RIGHT justice.  Of course it's never perfect but its more often right than it is wrong, with all the safeguards and loopholes in place that ensure swift and FAIR justice is served.  Without it, all we have is chaos, and the kind of lynch-mob mentality those folks in the little village of Dr. Frankenstein had.  Hear a rumor, prepare the torches, catch the monster, kill the monster.  Sadly in those cases of old, sometimes the most wicked monster was the one preparing the torches to cover up his own crime.

WRONGS 

I've read a lot of commentary on this case online via twitter, FB, blog posts, msm articles, etc.  I haven't contributed my opinion in most cases because I've seen the response and frankly, it's just awful.  Mean, nasty, sarcastic, rude, obscene, etc.  And, to be quite honest, all understandable, but at the same time all inappropriate.  Why?

Understandable because obviously we all find sexual assault simply inhuman and repugnant.  Inappropriate because absolutely NONE of us know for sure, if any of the accusations are in fact, true.

Many have jumped on the bandwagon because: a.) no one voluntarily identifies themselves with sexual assault unless it's real (which is actually not true) and b.) because if they are true and factual then Cosby is the creepiest of the creeps in the last 40 years of clean, funny, family-friendly entertainment.

Well heck, hubby and I just had a conversation the other day about how it seems like the older we all get, the more we discover nearly *every* family had that "sketchy uncle".  Feel free to replace uncle with whoever it was in either your family or the family you knew of that had that perverted family member that always seemed to have his hands in places they had no place being.  Those inappropriate comments he always made, the crass/vulgar jokes, and the way the younger female members of the family always acted around him: either avoiding him completely or making those sarcastic remarks about how "weird" he was.  It hardly appears Cosby may have been the "sketchy uncle" or the creepiest of the creeps, since it seems the sexual deviant has been in nearly every family.

Yet another fact to consider is how many women/wives falsely accuse their former hubby/lover of sexual deviancy.  Abuse against themselves or their children.  Granted, it's a very low stat from all I've read but it DOES happen.  Please be honest with yourselves, men aren't the only devious, conniving, scheming, deceptive people in the world.  Women do it too.  In fact, I have to sadly admit that being a woman, and being IN the company of  women over the years, there are MANY women that would gladly and happily report this kind of thing, if it meant they'd get what they wanted at the end of the day.  Let us not pretend there aren't just as many devious, deceptive women out there as there are devious and deceptive men.  Equal rights, y'all. 

Another reason I haven't opined in many public venues on this as it pertains to the justice system is because I've seen others do it and and the response "shame on you, it's YOUR fault more women don't report their rapes".

Well kids, here's where it gets downright ugly.  Here's where possibly long time readers of this blog learn something about me they never knew before.

1. It is NOT the fault of criminal justice system adherents, that more SA/rape victims don't speak up.
2. It is NOT to our "shame" that fellow women (and men) have been sexually assaulted.  The shame belongs soley with the man or woman, who assaulted them.

I believe in the criminal justice system as much as I can because frankly, it's the best we've got.  Obviously it could use some improvements but overall, it's better than nothing.  That being said...

I was the victim of SA at the age of 3. THREE years old, folks.  I didn't understand it enough until the age of 20 to report it to the proper authorities, which I did, and had monumental support. Praise God for the ladies at Kitsap Support Services (which by now I'm sure the name has changed, but they were awesome ladies and they have a special place in my heart to this day, and always will).

I was a victim again at the age of 15.  Minding my own business, walking home from high school in the 9th grade, munching on a partially frozen King Sized Snickers bar I'd won in some random draw for something I can't even remember (amazing really, how your brain compartmentalizes seemingly useless details), I was accosted by some special kind of pervert from behind.  I turned, freaked out, and beat the living snot out of him with my semi-frozen Snickers bar.  He ran, like the depraved coward he clearly was. I stood on the sidewalk for a few seconds and just screamed... then ran home and dialed 911.  The two detectives assigned to my case believed me 100% and set me up with a local sketch artist to get an image of this pig in the local papers.  Of course as a minor my name was never in the press but eventually the local PD did catch this guy.  He'd done SO much more than what he did to me, my testimony wasn't even needed to lock the piece of garbage up.  I was totally okay with that.

There was another incident, far worse, at the age of 19.  I was dumbfounded and never reported the crime to the police because like so many others, by that time, I believed the hype that if "he" is "this" or "that" no one will believe you.Ironically at the time, I *knew* there were certain folks that *would* believe me but I was overcome with the numbers of people that wouldn't, only because of who he was. Looking back, I only wish  I would have made as much noise about this then.

 This is honestly the closest I could ever come to to the whole "Cosby" issue.  My assailant was not at all "family friendly" or well-liked or even well respected.  Fact is he was a common street punk who instilled fear in all kinds of people of all ages throughout the community due to his connections.  From all I've read, to this day he's well respected in the community and my only comfort is that God's justice will prevail.  (I'd actually long forgotten about this experience until this issue came up about Cosby.)

That being said, the super-lame accusation of "shame on you, YOU'RE the reason this is so under-reported" is 100% garbage & 100% hypocritical garbage from the very same pro-women organizations that are supposed to be 100% in support of women who have been victims of SA.

 So... incredibly ironic. No?  No, people like me are NOT the reason sexual assault and rape are under-reported.  The shame is not with me, the shame is with the MEN who commit these crimes and the PEOPLE who, in various communities, buy the lies that "keeping things under the rug", so to speak, is better for everyone.

CONCLUSION

At the end of the day, I know exactly what women mean when they say "rape culture". God knows, they're not saying anything I haven't lamented about privately for the last 40 years or so, wept about late at night during my private prayer time, and tried to discuss with my hubby so that he understands it enough to relate it to our son in his own way of "guy on guy" conversations.  I've talked to my girls and will continue to talk to them if need be, on this topic.

While we (men and women, moms and dads, etc.) have to be honest, we also have to be fair.  We have to be righteous, just, and rational.  We have to be factual, compassionate and reasonable.

We have to be... honest in our opinions, and base that in fact, not emotion or experience (as hard as that can be).

At the end of the day, as it pertains to Bill Cosby... I will be honest and admit I will be sad if it's all true.  In my opinion he always seemed to me the "clean" version of family-friendly comedy and I really dug that, you know?  But, if he's guilty of what he's been accused of then YES, dude needs to go to jail and/or serve whatever penalty he needs to serve for what he's been accused of.

I don't know.  I wasn't there.  I don't know what the situation was... neither do most other people since, none of us were in the same room with both parties and understood what the same expectations were (if anything at all).

Were these private encounters mutual agreements/expectations?  Possibly.  More than likely, probably. Is that gross and disgusting for us who are still so delusional that they believed Bill and his his wife Camille were 100% monogamous and 100% devoted to one another?  Well... yeah. Duh.  At the same time however (and we're talking about the 60's, 70's and 80's) do many of us understand that at the *time* it was considered part and parcel of the entertainment industry overall, despite marital status?  Yep. We get that too.

Fact is, at the end of the day, none of us really now for sure what the deal was, between anyone and anyone else.  The entertainment industry has been RIFE for decades with this kind of thing and based on all I've read, it's always been expected that everyone just keep their mouth shut about it.  So, based on that, none of this really takes me by surprise.  No matter how much I really want Bill Cosby to be the one exception, the one truly decent man, the one genuinely family-friendly stand-up comic in the Hollywood industry.

In a nutshell?  God help us all.  It's only going to get worse. Truly, God help us all, to read between the lines, think rationally and make the right and just decisions.