My New Baby (Book)!

My new baby! Described by my husband as “well-written but weird”, this short book was inspired by personal dreams and way too much reading of Christian mystics over the past 2 years. It is with great pride and just a little trepidation that I present my new e-book, available exclusively on Amazon’s Kindle: I Am My Beloved’s: A Mystical Allegory

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Is it a work of fiction, or not? Is it meant to be disturbing or reassuring? A work as mysterious as the subject matter, this short piece features the emotional highs and lows of spiritual mysticism from a Christian perspective.

Get it today and leave me your thoughts at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LX71IQZ#nav-subnav

Great Expectations


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The heroin epidemic, the culture wars, a broken jail system, a broken education system, too much corruption in politics at all levels, too much greed, too much anger. As we face this upcoming presidential election that few average people actually want, accusations are flying: This is all the Millennials’ fault, it’s because of liberals/conservatives, it’s because of greedy politicians, it’s because of those who are uneducated/those who are educated, it’s because of sin, it’s because of religion, the arguments never end.

And yet there is a root cause, a common thread among all this: The fault lies with “The Blamers”, I’ll call them, and they are everywhere and of all ages. Blamers are quick to point fingers, swift to judge and condemn, and slow to apologize. Here a few examples of how Blamers work.


When a certain little boy jumped into the gorilla pen at the Cincinnati Zoo this spring, social media blew up with outrage from Blamers who, knowing almost nothing about the situation, had already tried and condemned the boy, his mother, the zookeepers, and zoo management in what amounted to an online mob-lynching.

Thankfully, there was a good deal of intelligent and thoughtful push-back-commentary from those who actually knew about parenting, and those who realized that accidents sometimes just happen. Where did the vitriol and judgement come from, lamented one popular author via Facebook. Where does it come from? From older people who’ve forgotten what parenting is like, and younger people without kids. It comes from folks with unrealistically high expectations.


The entire year of 2016 has been one diametrically opposed debate after another: guns, drugs, presidential nominees, parenting failures, religion, political parties, ethnic races, wealth status, and more. There is no middle ground allowed on any of these topics. If you propose measures for simple, common sense gun laws, you are labeled a liberal control-freak (is that a contradiction in terms?). If you believe in no restrictions, you are “clearly” responsible for every mass murder in America.

Where does it come from? It comes from people with unrealistically high expectations, either of their own superiority or the banality of others. Blamers, who seem only motivated to avert responsibility away from themselves without ever really thinking about the issues, attempting to compromise, or conceding that the other side might have a point. Whatever it is that’s happening, you need to know it’s not the Blamers’ fault! Is it possible this is a sign of a guilt complex? For, by refusing to talk to all sides, by casting the blame on others so quickly, these problems are never solved and are in fact exasperated. What is it Blamers are so afraid of?


Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” – Genesis 3:11-13, Blame: The 2nd Original Sin

I follow a few emotional abuse blogs but have become frustrated with the many 20-somethings who seem to think their childhoods were from the pit of hell because their parents were less-than perfect, not because their parents were genuinely abusive. There is real abuse, and emotional abuse is “a thing” but these young adults cannot see that people are multi-faceted, that people can be wrong in one thing and still right in another. These young adults cannot see that sometimes crap just happens and their parents did their best.

14577371037_80362ef8e0_zWhere does it come from? These young adults are not “spoiled”, they have been drilled to think that anything less than perfection (as outlined by their parents/celebrities/authority figures) is simply not trying hard enough. Accidents don’t happen, they are made. These young adults are understandably angry that, after having been held to impossibly high standards by their parents (and often failing and then believing their failures to be an ineptitude of their own selves), they see their parents gave themselves slack when humanly necessary, while never giving their children that same grace.


I have seen first-hand the pressure, the high expectations, the workload of so many students. They are expected to be Straight-A students, scoring high on standardized tests, while also striving to be an athletic or music or science star, while also being in several clubs, while sometimes also holding a part-time job, while also staying positive in mind and healthy in body. These poor kids are crushed under this load, which is meant to pave their way into college, which then in turn is meant to pave their way to a successful (read: money-making) career and easy (read: materialistic) lifestyle.

At the same time, if these kids are not able to handle so much (and who could?) parents turn to labels and/or legal hoops to get their kids out of actually learning. They search until they find a doctor who will affirm a made up “disability”, they hold kids back in school so Johnny will be more competitive as an older child, they push kids forward so Suzie will be more impressive as the youngest child in her grade. If those tactics don’t work, parents can always use their favorite whipping boy: teachers and/or administrators.

Where does it come from, this drive to be “perfect”, the perverse need to be razor-sharp no matter who gets hurt or how deeply? Where does it come from, the arrogance of “knowing” you’re right without having to actually consider all sides, or the  hypocrisy of squeezing kids into college so they can be educated, and then promptly dismissing that education with the words, “dumb college kid”?


Claims of police brutality and racism are running rampant, with few actually evaluating each case, preferring instead to draw blanket and sometimes wild conclusions about “the other side”. Two years ago, in a Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio, a young man was shot by police after a 911 call was made. While verbal shrapnel and blame flew, the long and short of that particular incident was that everyone was wrong, with the exception of other shoppers, one of whom died from fear. The result was protests for months outside Walmart, coupled with fear of retaliation from all parties, anger, and resentment on all sides.

Where does it come from, the fear and anger? Surely there is some truth on both sides, but those great expectations have reared their ugly heads once again, telling lies and causing strife, inciting violence and more agony, where there should be unity and a resolve toward peace.


There are Blamers in every generation and in every culture. At the same time they condemn others for a seeming lack of hard work, Blamers don’t want to do the hard work of taking on proper and personal responsibility for their problems. They just like to watch the world burn, it’s entertaining and invigorating for them. It’s time we stopped listening to the Blamers, “La-la-la! I can’t hear you!” Now let’s fix our country.

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On Fostering a Dog

Originally written 2/1/2015

It lasted just two weeks. It was dirty, it was tough, it was an emotional roller coaster. It was warm, it was soft, it was needy. It was a black lab puppy that my children re-named “Sammy”. IMG_3827_1aIt was the first time we had fostered an animal, and the second dog we had ever taken care of as a family. The first dog had been, of course, a lovable black lab named Jill. Two weeks prior, during Christmas, my husband and I decided to sign our family up for fostering through our local animal shelter. He and my daughter had been volunteering there for a few months already, and she, at ten-years-old, had fallen in love with every cat and puppy there. She told her brother (aged seven) about them, and they had both been begging for a dog since.

My husband and I knew we were not prepared to take on a dog full-time, but we thought we could compromise by fostering. The kids were excited as we explained what fostering was and what it meant, emphasizing we would not be keeping the dog. Every day they asked when we were getting our foster dog. When the foster care coordinator called to see if we could take a black lab puppy, we became as excited as the kids. My husband picked her up on his way home from work, along with a kennel, leash, collar, toys, bones, and puppy chow.

What a sweet, adorable, dog! She reminded us so much of Jill. The first night we had her after the kids had gone to bed, I cried and cried. It was so nice to have a little, fuzzy body in the house again with floppy ears that felt like velvet. It was lovely to feel her snuggle up against me on the floor or sofa while she slept. I told my husband, “I want to keep her”, and he concurred.

By the next evening some of the puppy love had diminished a bit. Sam had us up an hour earlier than usual, she kept trying to investigate our old cat who wanted none of it, and had had a couple of accidents on the floor. Towards the end of the week I was feeling somewhat frazzled: More accidents on the loveseat and floor, trying to juggle taking walks in the January cold with three kids and the dog who wanted to pull me every step of the way, attempting and failing to keep ahead of Sammy’s predilection to stray socks, not to mention the barking, the whining, the escape-out-the-front-door attempts, the dog trampling and using the bathroom in my backyard flower beds or the deck, the muddy paw prints on my clean floor and furniture, even after I had carefully wiped her feet with an old towel. And we were never allowed to sleep in.

I was glad we only had one week left, “Are you sure we can’t take her in early?” I asked my husband. But during the second week, we had all begun to figure each other out and settle into a routine. IMG_3815_1aThen the shelter called: Sammy needed to go in to be spade. We could leave her at the shelter to recover until Adoption Day (Saturday), or we could come pick her up again. We picked her up after her surgery. She slept all the next day, and the following morning she had bounced back to her energetic little self. We tried keeping her resting and still, but she didn’t find that tolerable. Instead, Sammy chased the toddler, who squealed with delight, up and down the hallway.

And then it was Adoption Day. Despite our repeated warnings that it was coming (both for the kids and ourselves), we all felt a little anxious as we drove to the shelter with Sammy in the backseat, wedged in between the kids. It was a downright unceremonious drop off. A lady we had never met led us to Sammy’s prepared pen, guided her in, and quickly shut the door. Sammy looked confused, but we tried to reassure her: She wouldn’t be there long. She was too cute and sweet. I believed she would be adopted that day.

We turned to leave the poor pup amidst all the much older, much louder dogs’ carrying on. We were near the door when the toddler suddenly went back to Sammy’s cage to let her out. My son kept asking us, “Why can’t we adopt her?” We all took two steps into the quiet hallway, and my ten-year-old daughter burst into tears. No one from the shelter asked us any questions, there was nothing more to be done. We went silently home, everyone lost in their own thoughts. I felt sad, but also relief. Sammy was a good dog; we would miss her.

A few hours later I called the shelter to find out how Sammy was doing, “She was adopted today!” the lady cheerfully told me. I shared the news and the kids took it well. It’s been a few weeks now since Sammy found her new home. It’s been oddly quiet in the house, and none of us have gotten outside as much as we should have. We’ve been sleeping in a lot and socks are all over the floor. I wonder when our next foster dog will arrive?


Spoiler alert: After fostering several more puppies, kittens, and cats with SICSA, we finally experienced a “foster failure” and adopted Ginger, a sweet Lab-Pitt mix in Sept. 2015.

 

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Such an adorable pillow and chair hog!

War! What is it Good For?

Peace, love and understanding; Is there no place for them today? They say we must fight to keep our freedom, but Lord knows there’s got to be a better way.  – Edwin Starr, War

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WWI Archive, Flickr Commons

I was watching a documentary on diets the other night when a European doctor quipped, “Americans love to have an enemy.” I was stunned. How insightful, and as I considered the statement, I concluded he was right!

No matter the issue, we Americans do love to have an enemy to identify, attack, and annihilate. Be it obesity, cancer, politics, foreign relations, politics, AIDS, or poverty, we describe it as “war”; “fighting” against something or other. War on cancer, war on poverty, culture wars, the fight against obesity, and it of course spills over into religions too.

On the positive side, these are evidences we are a passionate people. We are willing to sacrifice and put ourselves on the front lines for whatever cause we believe in from feminism to religion, atheism, education, the environment, and many others. We are not afraid to protest, sign petitions, call our government, and otherwise make our voices heard.

All people need a purpose, a hope, and a reason to persevere through life, but living in a self (or media)-manufactured war zone day-to-day is unbalanced and exhausting. We do unnecessary trauma to ourselves and others who we tend to wrongly view as “the enemy”, in the name of war.

“But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late.

Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony–Forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy?” ― Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front

Destruction of WWI_zWar is made to appear glorious in the media. War is always painted as good guys (“you”) vs. bad guys (“them”); good vs. evil. In reality, it isn’t usually so simple. In reality there are typically passionate people fighting viciously with other passionate people in a bid to conquer evil or establish justice, as each side would view it. Sometimes, ironically, as both sides would see it.

“All for one and one for all, united we stand divided we fall.” ― Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers

With this 2016 Presidential election coming up in November, I have never seen my beautiful, diverse country so stridently divided on nearly every issue. Emotions are running very, very high as most everyone is terrified of “the other side” and are choosing to vote not their conscience, but their fear. Why would politicians want a divided, unsettled populace?

[If your enemy’s] forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Politicians know that war is good for three things: unifying a country by giving it national purpose, boosting economy, and gaining power for themselves. Religious leaders understand the same things. By giving their followers something to fight for, they mobilize people to action and make a lot of money in the process. In the end, it is only politicians and religious leaders who win.

Let us not destroy our country and our people in an effort to make America her best yet.

“Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by content.
But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

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Say it again…


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