Friday, November 11, 2016

Why you ARE racist.

I'm not going to sit here and say that every single one of you is racist. I will sit here and say that every single one of you has the privilige to look past a person's racist, homophobic, sexist, bigotry and support them anyway because it will not effect you personally. You need to just own that instead of explaining it off.

I have had a lot of friends this week claim that they are not racist. They are not homophobic. They do not hate an entire religion. Your words do not match your claims. Look at this week. Look at your claims. Your feelings about what is going on. Now look back in time when similar situations have happened, and what side do you put yourself on?

In 1920 when women's suffrage was a national movement they were beaten, imprisoned, endured to fight for women's rights. They were the outsiders. The pained and oppressed. Then there were the ones imprisoning them. Silencing them. Put out by them. Inconvenienced.

In the 1950s when Martin Luther King Jr. began his activism for equality for the black community do you think he was welcome with open arms? Do you think the kindly walked on the side walks while their  marches took over the streets? Do you think they didn't try to silence them? To deflect? No. People fought for this. Died for this.

40 years ago when LGBT began their fight for equal rights do you think it was accepted? Do you think they were treated kindly. Even till recently when they finally won the fight for marriage equality?

When Native Americans are protesting with prayer and peace and they are being gassed and in-prisoned yet a group of white men take over federal land armed to the teeth and have no charges.

In every movement and every protest there are the silencers. There are the oppressors. There are the people who are put out and inconvenienced. Protests aren't meant to go unheard. They aren't meant to be done on the time of the people they are fighting against. None of these things would have changed if they sat quietly by and said "please sir give me my rights."

You can say you are not racist. You can say you are not homophobic. You can say you are not a bigot, but by remaining silent you are. You are the oppressor. By saying "people are whiny and just need a trophy." "This is why you spank your kids." You are tone policing marginalized people. You are silencing their pain and voices. You are choosing the side of the oppressor. You may not agree with it, but by writing off their personal feelings and their voices you are exactly what you say you are not. Own that. Realize it. They are fighting against the open bigot and they are fighting agains the ones silencing them.

You say you are not racist yet I have seen a video shown by so many of a white man being beaten by two people of color. You are outraged. You say "look they are violent." Yet you have been silent on a women being beaten by two white men and having her hijab stolen. You have been silent on the schools where kids are chanting "build that wall." You have been silent when people's property has been defaced with hate and they are afraid to leave their homes. Women who have never left their house without their hijab are walking out the door without it and you are silent. You are turning a blind eye to the hate that has happened in our history and the increase of hate that has happened this week and you only speak up when you see a chance to pounce because a white man was beaten and see you are all wrong and should be voiceless.

So you say you are not racist? That is good. Then lift up their voices. Listen to their pain. If you really want to be for all americans than don't silence millions who have finally gotten their voices in the past decade. Movements happen when oppressed people have enough and decide to stand and fight back together. Listen. Don't write them off. Care. Take a seat for once. Don't try to say "well christians are..." Don't finally speak up when it's a white person being hurt. Stand up for all.  Acknowledge the reason people are afraid.

Words matter. Hateful threats are not words we can look past. Banning a religion is not just words. Making blanket statements about entire races is not just words. Objectifying women is not just words. This is an atmosphere that people have fought and died to move on from and you are setting it back by saying "it's just words."

I will not allow my children to be "color blind" because they have the privilege of saying they don't see color since they are not told they are less than for theirs. I will not let them silence other's pain. I will not sugar coat our history. I won't tell them "I don't know how this happened." I know exactly how this happened. Lets be and raise people who hear the voices of others even when it's not something we personally experience. Let's just listen and look in on what we have done and what we can do. God didn't just make the white christian. He didn't just make the americans. So if you claim you walk with Jesus than care for the ones suffering around you.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

My Testimony From The Broken Hearted

Psalms 147:3  He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

I would love to say I was raised in faith and that I held tight to it. That in all life's storms I turned to God and His Word to navigate. My walk with God has not been an easy one. It has been filled with bumps and walls that I put up. 

I struggled so much with being happy. For the life of me I could not come out on top of things or just be ok. When I was about 16 I lost my uncle. My world was shattered and my faith was so broken. I felt an overwhelming anger towards God. I had grown up without my parents and now this. I in no way could cling to faith and no part of me wanted to hear what God had to say. 

It wasn't long after that my life took a turn. I left home and fell back into addiction. I have tried putting into words the pain that happened during that time. Such a debilitating sadness where with all my heart I wanted to end it, but I couldn't muster the energy to even do it. I remember laying in a nasty hotel room with my belt around my neck and just dreaming of being found. Of the relief of it being over. Not being able to hurt anyone anymore and not hurting myself. I wish I could say that was rock bottom, but it is far from it. 

That period was full of drugs, emotional abuse, and witnessing things I wish I could forget. To me God wasn't real. Sometimes I think I was so angry with God that I wanted to find the furthest place from him. How far can I fall? I know you wont catch me God so let me keep going. I know you have forsaken me God and I can prove it, because you still aren't here and I'm only further from you now. 

Then something happened that is not so common. I got clean. I moved home. I went back to school and worked so hard to graduate on time. I stumbled so much in between then and now. 

I wish I could say when I got clean that I turned to God and thanked him. In some ways I did, but it wasn't until I met my husband that I truly accepted God into my life. It was a non eventful time hanging out on the couch when Adam turned to me with tears and said "I'm worried about your salvation, because I love you and I want you in Heaven with me." It shook me to my core. It felt like for the first time a Christian, who in my experience were some of the most hateful, looked me in my eyes and cared. He showed my Christ's love. 

Of course it wasn't some quick turn around. Nothing in my walk with God has been quick and easy. It hasn't been revealed all at once. Piece by piece I drew closer to God. Then when my church shifted to a new Pastor my walk with God became a run. I immersed myself in God's Word. I found myself following on a path in scripture that was marked out for me. God led me from scripture to scripture to tell me my past and why I should not fear my future. 

I made it out from that darkness with God's grace. When I pushed further He held on to me tighter. When I felt he was no where near He was all around me. 

So many people talk about the state of the world. How far we are from God, but I have been broken. I have even turned from God, and yet I have seen His works time and time again. 

I saw His work in my grandmother who never gave up. Who would go to the most awful places to pick up her fading granddaughter with all her belongings in trash bags. I saw his work in a principle who didn't see a lost cause, but someone to invest in. Someone to encourage and take time to push forward. I have seen His work in my husband who called me out on how stagnant I was in my faith. I feel His presence when I walk into church on Sunday. Where I hear His whisper to keep reading, searching, and growing. I see God in the plans he has laid out for me. I see God when I look back at the dark that I came from and stand in the light of Him. I can feel the warmth of God's love where I am at in life, because I know where I have been and I know God brought me here. 

I know God's forgiveness and love, because He wrapped me in Spirit and protected me. He pulled me out of sin and despair and even though I had forsaken Him He didn't care. I was still worthy of His love. He still saw me as someone His son had died for. 

God's love is all around us. I don't put myself out there much to bring people who don't believe in. I probably should. I try to be that person for the broken. The person that shows them no matter how far they have fallen God has not forgotten them. I hope to be the example of God's love and forgiveness that ordinary people along the way have been for me. 

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  Galatians 2:20 

I have gone from raised in church, to denier, to broken, to saved, to baby steps, and to who I am today in my faith in Christ. I have come from being angry with God to a point where I can sit here and cry tears of joy from the love I feel in Christ. It is in that that I have no regrets of the bumps in my journey. It is from my weakness that I know God is here. I know God's love is even for me. Even for the broken that you pass by and think, hopeless. I know God forgives. I know where I will be after this life. I know that when the unavoidable pain in life happens that God is closer than ever. 

                    The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
                                                    Psalm 34:18

Friday, June 10, 2016

Nolan Six Months

I can't believe we are already here at six months. It always stings, but as the last baby it's a knife to the heart. I wish I could keep you a baby forever. At the same time I've seen your sisters grow and become their own person and I sit and imagine who you will be. What on earth you'll look like since so far not one of you has been similar!

When we had two children I had a constant tugging at my heart. I just felt like there was one more to meet. I'd sit and watch them play outside and think someone is missing. Now that you are here I know I was 100% right. No doubt in my mind you were meant to be in my life.

You have not made it an easy six months. Not just with your birth and NICU. Then you missing the hospital and hitting up the ICU. You are tough. At three weeks old you flipped a switch. You cried so much. You've been to a chiropractor more than most adults. Countless white noise you tube videos. Wraps. Warm rags on your belly. Gas drops, gripe water, anything.

I remember a day at church I couldn't quiet you even in the foyer. So I took you to a room and just cried with you. We sat there together crying with my boob out.

Despite all the struggle you are just a little slice of peace. My heart takes so much comfort in having you here. When you hold your baby to you and you can't tell where you end and they begin. Just like your one again during pregnancy. Everyone warned me to put you down, but I can't. I want to be as close as possible. Sometimes I think I'm making up for the time we were apart after birth. As tough as you are, the worse day with you is a million times better than the best day without you.

I was so worried you wouldn't bond with me and now people enjoy being around you as long as I'm there too. You will break your neck trying to look for me. I get about an hour away from you if I need something done and you have to go to grandma's or your aunt's. Then I get the call "So...where are you?" It can be tough, but secretly I relish in the fact that you are your mama's boy. No doubt as much as I need you, you need me too.

I love you, Nolan. With all my heart. I look at you and think this is my son. It's too good to be true I would think, but it's real.

Happy six months sweet child of mine.

Things I don't want to forget:

Your huge smile and the way your eyes light up.

They way you grab my neck and burry your face into me.

When you "crawl" you hop your legs up and down and lung.

How much you love looking in a mirror.

Your growl.

Nose nursing.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Why I want my children to be feminists (and why this is an issue for sons and daughters)

If there is one thing I want you kids to know about me it's this story. Probably because this one event shaped so much of me. Which is odd because it's a story I don't tell. Things have recently come out in the news that have taken me back to certain events in my life. They've made me sit and examine strong beliefs that I have and why. They've made feel very strong in the fact that these are things I most definitely want passed down to you. With that I need to explain things I don't like talking about.

So with that this is why of the things I want for you, my daughters and son, I want you to be feminists.

So many people hear that word and think of their own idea of what a feminist means. They would maybe even question how I could feel so strongly when I stay at home. Those people don't understand what it means. Feminism means that a woman can be an exotic dancer, a stay at home mom, or climbing a corporate ladder and they should all be respected for those choices. It means that a woman can chose how to reveal or not reveal her body and you should not infer anything about her from those choices. It means that even if a woman has had multiple partners, dresses revealing, has had too much to drink, flirts with you, or is in any type of relationship with you that does not mean you have any right to her ever at any point.

This country has a serious issue. That issue is rape culture. If you deny that than you are part of the problem. You don't have to be a rapist to contribute to this sickening issue that is facing women. Judging women for the choices that they make for themselves and their bodies is contributing. Victim blaming. The boys will be boys mentality that excuses behavior. Telling girls it's too distracting for them to wear certain pants to school instead of teaching sons to control themselves. That is placing unwarranted feelings on females who should not be held responsible.

It's why we get nervous walking to our cars in the dark. Why we watch out for each other when we go out. Why we have to keep eyes on our drinks. Why they hand out rape whistles at colleges. Why your hair stands up when you're home alone and a male knocks on the door.

I could tell you so many examples. The times a guy touches you without your permission because they think you should feel flattered. The times as a young girl and you notice grown men looking at you. The times in school when boys feel they have the right to comment on your body or your clothes. When you get labeled for making choices all the boys are too or get called names when you are showing too much when it's damn hot out. The time a person of power takes advantage of that power.

I can tell you, my girls, that at least one of these things will happen in your life. They have all happened to me and to most women. It's a fact that we can no longer stay silent about. We can no longer say boys are boys and hand that power over. I tell you all the time how strong you are. How you can accomplish anything. I never make you hug anyone goodbye that you don't want to. When you tell me no to something that's it. The answer is no and I don't pressure you, and I am so sorry to tell you that this is why.

There have been several times in my life that have lead to me feeling so strong about these things. An abusive demeaning relationship. All of the scenarios above. Watching so many females around me suffer the same things. This story is the one that stands out above the rest. This is the moment in my life where a lot of things shifted. It's the event that solidified that this issue is real. That these common things occurring in society lead to how I handled this. My biggest regret and it was formed by society.

In 2007 I was living with my grandparents. I was still coping with choices that I had made throughout high school. So I drank with friends. Sometimes for fun. Sometimes out of sadness. At one point I didn't make good choices. I was a recovering addict, but the biggest thing to recover from was the pain. I had a past.

One night an old boyfriend text me. He wanted to get together and drive around. I was excited because he was an ex boyfriend from a better time in my life. He seemed to care when my life went down hill. I had a bit of a soft spot for him. So I agreed. He picked me up and we drove around for a bit. Then he drove behind a gas station and parked. He unbuckled and climbed over on top of me. I was pinned in my seat. I told him NO over and over and cried.

He raped me.

Then he drove back around to my car and opened my door. He said "thanks." I got out and just drove for an hour or so. I was supposed to be at my sisters for the night. When I got there I told her what happened. She called the police and a really nice officer came to her house. I told him what happened and he asked if I would do a rape kit. I agreed and we went to the hospital. My sister was with me and I took my clothes off and got in a gown and laid on the table waiting. We waited for what seemed like hours in the ER. Everything kept going through my mind. My past addiction. My sexual history. The clothes I use to wear. The fact that my shirt that night said "getting lucky in Kentucky." The fact that I got in the car.

So I backed out.

My sister got the officer and I told him I couldn't do it. I told him all the reasons why. You know what makes me the most sick? He begged me to continue. He said "because I wasn't the first girl to make these statements about him and none of them had followed through with charges."

Society judges women by how they dress, who they have been with, what they were doing, and any other way we can blame a victim. Any way she asked for it. This guy has been brought up in my bible study group. They all know him. Most the people I know do. He has a wife and a kid now. All the while HE IS A RAPIST. Who I let get away. There I go blaming myself. If I knew then what I know now years later after analyzing all those feelings leading to my choice not to pursue I know what stopped me. That I was someone who could be easily blamed. That the well known, wealthy, MALE would look so good compared to me. So that's it. One more rapist among who knows how many that society and rape culture has let walk free.

I'm still angry. I'm still hurt. I'm still filled with regret that I didn't at least declare it in public. So that my sweet children who will all too soon know these things is why with all my heart I want you to know what feminism is and why it is vital to the safety of the largest group of oppressed people in the world.

Girls it's why I want you to know that no matter what you've been or what you are doing you have the power to say no. A friend, boyfriend, or husband has no right to you. You can be anything and you are still a respectable woman. You are not responsible for the thoughts and feelings of the males around you. Your body. Your choice.

My son. Gosh I want you to know these things even more. While this issue can be changed a great deal by women standing up it will change even more by men acknowledging that feminism is not a dig on them. It's you realizing that cat calls are not appreciated. That you don't have the right to judge a women based on her shape, clothing, or choices. It's you realizing that by doing those things you are responsible for a system that lets offenders get away with unspeakable crimes against women.

We don't need your protection. We need your respect. We need you to realize we are not property.

*In a recent news story a man was sentenced to only six months in prison for rape. A rape that had two eye witnesses. A man who was raping an unconscious woman. A judge who felt he was very young and prison would have to much of an impact on him was sentenced to only six months in prison. This is rape culture.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Nolan's Arrival

(contains pictures that keep it real with the first few weeks)

I don't even know the last time I wrote something on here. At first I thought I should just forget about writing a birth story because of that. I never even wrote about expecting our third. Surprise it's a boy! The thing is this is something I need to write. Nolan's birth is one of those life events that shapes you and makes you realize a little something about yourself and in this case my marriage. I don't think it's something I could forget the details to, but just in case here it is. 

The last month or so of my pregnancy I was beyond miserable. I couldn't sleep at all and was spending my nights in the recliner. It wasn't just getting comfortable, but I was up nonstop itching like crazy. All over but mainly on my hands. At night it was out of control and between that and no sleep I was starting to lose it. Finally at a couple days past 36 weeks I did a google search in the middle of the night for "itching during pregnancy worse at night." It came up with something called obstetric cholestasis. The main symptom was itching that was typically worse at night and primarily the hands and feet which was exactly how I felt. So that Monday I brought it up to my doctor. He tested me that day. The concern being that it can cause still born by your bile acids crossing over into the placenta. 

Those next couple days just dragged. I was doing my Christmas mini sessions that week which at least kept me busy. I called every day and luckily they were so nice about me being a total pest. Finally Thursday night they called and told me that I did have it and would deliver at 37 weeks. Which they didn't realize would be the next day and my OB was about to be on vacation with the following week being Thanksgiving. They told me they would call tomorrow to tell me a delivery day. 

When I still hadn't heard by about lunch the next day I decided to call and left a voicemail. Finally at about 3pm they called and asked if I could be there at 6 for my c section. Panic set in. No bag packed, no last minute shopping for milk, Molly was in school, and a million other things you experience when it's not a planned c section like I'm use to I guess. 

It all felt really weird. I had been saying his birthday was December 4th for so long that rushing around November 20th to have him in a couple hours seemed crazy. I wanted to have him so he was safe and here, but 37 weeks seemed early and I didn't feel mentally prepared for something I'd been waiting for 9 months to happen. 

This is where that life changing event comes in. I have to pause and cry a bit while I think of the words. 

I had imagined his birth since we found out like most women do. When they said he was a boy I dreamed about meeting a son. When the new pediatrician said she unties your hands and lets you do skin to skin now I was over the moon. This was the last time I'd be doing this. My last birth. My last first moments with a newborn. It got me through those awful nights, but that's not how it happened unfortunately.  

The doctor pulled him out and the whole it's a boy and everyone is happy and I just laid there waiting. Waiting for that cry. Just a whimper. I knew right then. While everyone told me oh it's fine he's just taking a bit, I knew. They didn't hand him to me or let me see him. The nurse had him on the warmer working on him. All I could do was watch and then he was gone. Adam went with him and for however long I was still in surgery just waiting. 

When I was waiting in the room after surgery and he still hadn't come back I just knew. He wasn't going to stay with me. Our hospital is pretty small and when babies need a NICU they have to be sent to the city and moms have to stay. It was my biggest fear and it was happening. Not only was I not ready for all of this, but now it felt like he was being ripped away. 

Adam kept coming to give updates and I could see it on his face. Finally they made the decision to send him to Children's Mercy. He couldn't be life flighted because of weather so their transport team came to get him. I can't even begin to describe how amazing the nurses there were. Our pastor came and we made the decision to have him baptized then. They wheeled my bed out and let me watch while a nurse recorded it on my phone. I was watching Nolan, but I couldn't help keeping my eyes on Adam. Seeing tears in his eyes and the fear it felt like me and him. We were in this together with the same amount of love and fear for this little person that we created. No one else felt how we felt over this happening to Nolan and it felt like a bond that we would need each other to get through it. 

The nurses then moved everything out of the way to get my huge bed into this tiny nursery so I could touch him before he left. Just having your baby and only being able to touch their little hand is heart breaking. Seeing him laying there perfectly still and just working to breath was terrifying. 

They told me that as long as I could walk and get around I could leave early. So I laid in bed moving my legs and lifting my feet just trying to get the epidural to wear off. Then the transport team came in with Nolan so I could see him before he left. Seeing your child like that is so hard to put into words. I flat out asked the EMT if we would be taking Nolan home. I didn't know. I was so confused as to if this was something really serious or if it was just really common and he would be fine. I felt like I had to ask because you look at your baby like that and you have no clue what is going on. 

The next day was kind of a blur. They gave me an anti anxiety pill and I spent most of the day alone just trying to show I could walk by showering and cleaning up and then the rest of the time zoned out sitting in my bed. No TV on or phone. I just sat there in the silence. They wouldn't let me leave that day but said I could on Sunday. So I just kept moving so I could get out of there. The hurt of having someone inside your belly moving and being connected and then just nothing. It was the longest day of my life. There were no joyous visits and celebrating. It was just waiting to be with my son. 

Nolan spent a total of 5 days in the NICU. We got really lucky. I can't say enough about Children's Mercy. It was by far the worse experience of my life and wait made it bearable was their amazing hospital and the Ronald McDonald house. 

The whole thing was just mind numbing, but I really learned a lot about myself as a mom. I don't really see myself being hard on myself again over the little things or feeling inadequate. I worked to get out of that hospital. When Nolan needed a certain number of feedings to leave we rushed home to get the girls and pack more stuff and then rushed back. Adam dropped me off at the hospital doors with two bags and a pump and I power walked to the NICU on the 3rd floor to make it back in time 3 days after surgery. It's like you go into this mode were your comfort is set aside and you just do it. You do it because they need it and more than your own needs what a mom really needs is for her child to be OK. You realize just how dependent your life is on theirs. 

(The last night there Nolan and I spent in a parent room and I took some pictures that just showed the reality and kept on in the following weeks. I wanted to share some even though they aren't rainbows and there are leaky boobs and saggy bellies it's how it was and it's beautiful perfect or not.)

They decide that he had something called TTN which is fluid in the lungs at birth. It happens in babies born early or in c sections. 

His birth wasn't what I dreamed. It was my last one and it was not what I expected at all. Then three weeks later we were back in the ICU with RSV reliving all those horrible emotions from birth. Now at 6 weeks we are just hoping it is all behind us and we can go back to the mundane life we were living. So there it is. He came in like a wrecking ball. He cries all the time and nurses like it's going out of style. I'm sleeping on the couch with him next to me. Life is going on and we're tired and busy, but it's absolutely perfect and every second is worth it.