Monday, January 21, 2019

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King, Jr - March 8, 1965

I wanted to titled this post with another Tom Petty quote, but I honestly couldn't imagine sitting down and publishing something on this day without honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

I was two years old when Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke those words, and there's a very real probability that I actually heard him speak them. We watched TV at my house, thank you, Jesus. I love TV, and I don't mind admitting it. ANYWAY. More than likely, I either heard those words as they were spoken or shortly afterward on the news.

Back then, watching the news was a family ritual, and it certainly was at our house at 609 N. E Street (the wrong side of the tracks, I'm compelled to add) in Duncan, Oklahoma. I was able to toddle around the outside boundaries of that probably 900 sq. foot, white frame house pretty much as I pleased.  I was spanked daily, and sometimes more than once, for going outside the boundaries set by my very strict (and wisely so in my case) mama. A good day was a day not spanked which just meant I didn't get caught going outside the boundaries. I still did it, I just didn't get caught on those days.

I started learning from a VERY early age that growing up is about getting bigger boundaries until finally, you're able to set your own. But, those were "the good ole days" it doesn't happen like that anymore because everything's different now and wah wah wah. I hear that all the time. My generation of people love saying it. They say they don't love saying it, but they continue to say it all the freaking time. I don't believe in the "good ole days." It's ridiculous to me we can't learn from history any better than to have figured out that EVERY generation looks back and sees "good ole days."

My daddy taught me better. He's the one who taught me to be progressive. He's as wise as any person I've ever known or probably ever could know. He used to take the time to answer my questions (and I had so many) when he took me to ride horses with him every day.  I remember specifically asking him if things were better in the old days and he was quick to answer, "No." He told me that things were a lot better for him NOW-this was the 70s-than then because he was able to give me and my sister more opportunities than he had. He'd grown up poor. What you'd call "dirt poor." Daddy was born in Coalgate, Oklahoma and graduated from Clarita High School with a class of maybe 9 people in 1953. He broke his first horse when he was 12 and used his passion for horses to earn money for our college tuition. He'd work as a mechanic at Carl Campbell Chevrolet all day until 6, arrive home in greasy boots and coveralls, clean up, eat dinner, then boot back up cowboy style and head to the barn. "The barn" was always a rented patch of land with a barn on it, and he always kept a Shetland pony or other small horse there for me to ride while he worked. We went through a couple of different "barn"locations during my childhood. I loved changing to a new one because it gave me a new place to explore with my horse while Daddy did his work. It was during the pickup ride to and from the barn that I'd ask him questions.

When you watch your parents work and toil and save to provide you with an opportunity, you don't waste it. Getting a college degree was never an option for me if for no other reason (and there were plenty of other good reasons) than I could never allow myself to see all the time and effort my parents put into something end badly for them. But I'd trade in my college education altogether if it meant I had to give up that time I spent with my daddy at the barn. I totally would.

 He'd tell me stories about how it was for him growing up. His "old days." One of my favorites, probably because it sounded like an Old West story, was the time he'd almost seen a man killed outside a barn near Coalgate. From what I could tell, they'd meet up at barns out in the country to drink, dance, smoke, and generally chase women which sounded exactly like a nightclub to me. Due to our strict religious upbringing, recalling the days of smoking, drinking and dancing was pretty frowned on by my mother, so I always had to piece together a lot of the details in Daddy's stories. On this particular night he'd heard someone was coming to exact justice (I think over a woman) and left the scene before it all went down. Smart man, my dad. Apparently, vigilante justice was pretty common back then and many times people didn't even go to jail over things if the consensus of the general community was just to "let it go." That sounds rough. But does it? Really? It seems to me we do the same sort of thing in different ways today.

Daddy also told me stories of racial injustice he witnessed firsthand. Sadly, I can tell you stories like that myself. I don't have to hear real life stories about lynchings to know things are better now than in any past time. I remember how the black kids in Duncan had their own swimming pool and their own elementary school named after a Confederate general no less! How messed up is that? I remember hearing the n-word come out of peoples' mouths as if it were this benign thing, just a regular descriptor of a certain type of folk. And most of those people were related to me.

Our world of political correctness drives me crazy at times too-I get it. But seriously. We've got to own our authentic past and move forward and be HAPPY about moving forward. I had a wonderful childhood riding my bike all over the mean streets on the wrong side of the tracks in Duncan, Oklahoma. Those mean streets were actually very kind to me. It was idyllic in many ways, and I wouldn't trade it for any other way to grow up. Yes boys and girls, I used to buy an entire lunch bag of candy(bigger, better candy than we have now) for barely a dollar. But I guarantee you, my experience in the dime store buying candy was not at all the same for me as  the child from Robert E. Lee Elementary going into the exact same store. It. Just. Wasn't. I think they had a grocery store over in "colored town" back then. Yes. It was named or at least openly referred to as Colored Town and if anyone wants to argue with me that it wasn't that way you're insane. I was there. It was a real thing, and I heard it and saw it for myself. Heck, I may have even said it myself. But if I did, it's only because I didn't know better. "When you know better, you do better," said Maya Angelou.

I should probably add to all of this that I can only assume that my little town knows better and does better now. I know for a fact that none of those ugly things I mentioned above still exist there. The school was closed in 2006. I'm sorry if it hurts anyone's feelings that I'm willing to speak openly about something that basically happened in every small town across the Southern states. Duncan was no different than any other town like Duncan.  As far as I can see, they've made progress. I don't live there or vote there. I feel privileged to have grown up in Duncan and been afforded the opportunities provided to me by my hard-working parents. They picked a great place to raise kids. Duncan is part of my American dream because it's my history, and I love it. I love it best from afar, but I still love it.

But now I understand that the "good ole days" are just a perception that exists only in the minds of the people who perceive it that way. All we really have is today. Right now. This moment. And if we continue to imagine some delusional, comfortable past, we'll never move forward or we'll move so slowly that we become part of the problem instead of the solution.

It also makes complete sense to me that things would seem worse now based on sheer numbers of people and our advancements in technology. We've grown at this tremendous pace technologically while ignoring social and emotional human development. We're so busy playing with our toys that we've become developmentally stunted, causing us to USE our toys to hurt each other. It's so sad. Society is full of toddlers who can't get along.

We can't just keep claiming that the good ole days were better. They were exactly the same. And while I'm at it, kids haven't gotten worse these days. They are the SAME. The raw material of children is basically the same as it always was. We expose them to different things and it changes their development. WE do that. Kids don't do that. None of this is their fault, they just have to try and learn to navigate it, and we suck at teaching them how because we're still learning ourselves.

For as long as we don't look back and actually LEARN from the past, this cycle will I guess eventually become the vortex that takes down humanity as we know it. But it doesn't have to be.
We can face up to facts, own our authentic past, and stand up for things that will make a difference long after we're gone. We have to speak up about things that matter. If not us, who will do it?

I imagine my mama hearing Dr. King speak those words back in March of 1965 while her maddeningly curious, refuser-of-boundaries two-year old played in the floor, talking to baby dolls and stuffed animals, arranging them just so for whatever two-year-old scenario might be playing in her head. I can almost hear Mama say out loud (Who knows, maybe she did.), "No one has to worry about this one remaining silent because she never shuts up." And she was right.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

Thanks for reading. Whoever you are.

peace&love and grace,


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Friday, January 11, 2019

You don't have to live like a refugee.-Tom Petty

I was thinking about deleting my last post, but I decided against it. I'm just going to be real. I'm going to write things here "on the fly" and let it go. Why shouldn't I? I mean, we're only talking about grammar problems for the most part, and a lot of the people who may actually read this won't recognize those problems.  I'm not a great writer when it comes to grammar. I want to be. I'm still learning. And yes, I'm a public school teacher. I think that statement alone inhibits me from being free with my more ways than one. LOTS more ways.

Maybe that's what I should write about. I don't know. I'm still figuring it out.

I'm writing all of this here for C and K and D. My grandchildren. And they're just the beginning. Those initials represent individual lives who will one day be my age. They'll be 55 years old and wondering how the heck they arrived at the place where they are. And if they've learned grace...even if it's willful grace (the kind you have to pretend to extend until you're able to actually extend it) it will be enough. And that's all any of us really need. Enough.

I've been attempting for a good while now to figure out WHY the heck I married T-dub in the first place. I'm pretty sure I've figured it out. And I've forgiven any perceived (by me) wrongs done to me that resulted in my decision to marry him. I'd go so far as to thank them, but that would be making a commitment to willfully hurting others in the same way. I can't do that. But I can thank GOD for allowing me to live and learn through the situations that I've been through.

I could rewrite the previous paragraph with the name of my first husband replacing T-dub. That's tough for me. WAY tougher than dealing with the reasons I married T-dub. But I do understand now exactly why and how I decided to make that choice as well. And I don't regret it because I understand fully why I did it. And because that marriage produced two of the finest human beings who will ever grace planet Earth.

I'll stop for now. I have school tomorrow.

Thanks for reading. Whoever you are.

peace&love and grace,


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Sunday, October 28, 2018

I'm going to start writing here again. It's so stupid and ridiculous that I don't write down all the STUFF I think about.

For instance, I don't believe in HELL. HELL seems really goofy when you've grown up with a mindset that forces you to believe in IT simply because you also believe in HEAVEN.

How does your belief in Heaven depend on your belief in Hell?

peace&love and grace,

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Sunday, May 06, 2018

I'm learning to fly, but I ain't got wings.-Tom Petty

 I enjoy creating little wooden peg doll people- WHY? So far, the best answer I've come up with is that I never really wanted to stop being a kid. I long for a childhood that's carefree and supportive of imagination and curiosity. Don't get me wrong. I had a perfectly fine childhood. My parents gave me everything (and more) that a child needs in order to grow into a healthy, self-sustaining, responsible member of society. I don't believe for one second that they knew or understood what was going on in my head. In fact, my mother stated as much on numerous occasions, "I have no idea what goes on in that head of yours!"

When I was a kid, some of my favorite friends were younger than me, and most of those were cousins.  Playing with them was a win-win-win. They had different toys and still liked  playing pretend games which I usually made up. I could be somewhat in charge and have fun at the same time. That's pretty much exactly what I do now as an elementary art teacher. I love how that worked out. But holding on to a carefree childhood when fear flowed through my little-child veins like Koolaid(TM) through a silly straw wasn't easy-no matter how many younger cousins might be available for pretend games.

I prayed to Jesus every night to keep the fears at bay. I'd lie there and think about my day to try and remember any bad thoughts or words I'd said-anything I may have done that Jesus would need to forgive me for so my name wouldn't get crossed out of the Book of Life.

By the way, when I write these things down and see them in print, it looks and sounds extreme to me. As if I grew up Mormon or something. I used to consider Mormans to be pretty extreme and "out there" as far as Jesus-based religions go. *phfft* It's all sort of extreme to me now. Also, I've rarely met a Morman that I didn't really like. They're good people.

 It's just so peaceful to leave it all behind.

 ANYWAY.  I was always asking Jesus to forgive me for not wanting the rapture to happen until after I'd turned 16 and could drive. And as long as I was being honest, I'd have to admit to Jesus that I'd also really enjoy being able to grow up and go to college, get married, and have a family. At the very least, Jesus, could you wait until after my next church trip to Six Flags? Getting on an old, retired school bus and driving from Duncan, Oklahoma to Dallas, Texas (I know it's Arlington, but it was all Dallas to us.) to spend the day at Six Flags was what I considered a top level perk of being a member of the Bethel Assemblies of God Church.

Most of the other perks I got from being a church kid came from the fact that my mom was the church secretary. She had keys to the building and went there during the week to work on the books while I explored every nook and cranny of our A-framed church building. Our church looked like a big triangle. I guess at the time, it had a modern 60's vibe with its giant,, lighted, wooden cross that shined through a stained-glass window behind the stage of our sanctuary which overlooked the many evils of US Highway 81. Rarely a sermon was preached that didn't at some point touch upon the sinfulness zipping up and down and lurking on the south part of  the little two-lane highway running through our town. You'd have thought it was the Las Vegas strip to hear some preachers talk. Occasionally, bums would come up from the highway to our church looking for money or food which only served to reinforce the message of wholesomeness and security represented by our churchy-looking A-framed building. I was told with a straight face in Sunday School class that demons could be living in our church building at night, so you can imagine the adventures going on in my young, curious mind as I peeked and prodded my way over every inch of what potentially, after hours, became enemy territory. My favorite architectural feature of our church building was the pair of spiraling staircases that led up to the baptistery from each side of the church. The red carpeting and wood-paneled walls made the narrow, twisting passageway feel cozy. I remember seeing the baptismal tank up close for the very first time and being astounded that it was so much like a bathtub. I guess my little mind thought there might be an actual babbling brook of living water encased behind that stage front.

Despite all this, I'd end my nightly prayers to Jesus by promising to be a good witness and tell people about him if I got the chance. And then I'd usually apologize one more time for wishing he wouldn't come back yet just for good measure.
In Jesus Name,

Did I mention that I was eight years old when I started these  prayer discussions with Jesus? EIGHT. An eight-year-old living in constant fear that the rapture was about to happen or already had happened. My contingency plans for being "left behind" were to immediately try calling my Granny W in Sulphur since she didn't go to church and was probably also left behind. I figured she'd probably not know any better and go ahead and get the Mark of the Beast, so at least she and PaPa W would be able to buy food for us after the Antichrist took control of everything. As a second back-up plan, I knew my PaPa M (on my mom's side) would also be left behind, but he was known to be a little crazy, and I knew I'd much prefer sitting on my PaPa W's lap for comfort during 7 years of tribulation. Thank God I can laugh about it all now. But it wasn't a bit funny at the time. Maybe it sounds like the worries of a child that wasn't too bright, but I'd argue it was just the opposite.

Believe it or not, the ever-present fear of the rapture wasn't my biggest source of concern as a child. It wasn't even in the top two. My number one fear as a child was of the devil and his angels. Which may actually count as two fears. It's hard to keep up. My 2nd biggest fear was accidentally committing the unpardonable sin. There were lots of opinions and even arguments over Sunday lunch about exactly how one goes about committing the unpardonable sin, but my fear was mostly based on the fact that such a sin existed at all. I'm quite comfortable stating that I heard as many sermons, lessons, and studies about the devil, hell, and things like the unpardonable sin growing up as I did about Jesus. In truth, probably way more.

Maybe it was my own fault for taking the things I learned at church so literally. Why couldn't I have been more like a "normal" kid and just pick my nose or stick chewed-up pieces of gum under the pews during sermons? Why did I listen to messages in tongues and interpretations as if it was God himself speaking? Where'd I get a crazy idea like that?

I was always asking questions. I can't tell you how many Sunday School teachers I've heard make that very comment to my parents about me, "She sure asks a lot of questions!" But there were always answers with a Bible reference to back it up. And the people teaching me were loving, kind, and supportive. The preacher at our church was a wonderful person. A good man. It was obvious that he actually cared about the people at church. Why wouldn't I believe him? Or them?

But if everything they said was true, that's a LOT to worry about for a little kid. A smart little kid. A curious little kid.

A trusting, gullible little kid.

It's shameful.

Thanks for reading. Whoever you are.

peace&love and grace,

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Saturday, March 31, 2018

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It goes on. - Robert Frost

It seems like people get the most personally upset and worried about my being agnostic because of the implication that being agnostic means I no longer believe in heaven.

Yes. I realize that part sucks.

We desperately want to know that we'll once again see those people we've lost or never had the chance to really know during the time we were here.

We want so desperately to experience some form of "happily ever after."

I get that.

But when that "happily every after" MUST include a majority of people burning in everlasting torment forever and ever....which is what the bible narrative explicitly states according to every single Christ-based church I've ever been a part of....

I'm out.

I just can't do it. I'm not sure how this all ends, but I refuse to believe that MOST people will end up burning and tormented forever and ever for all eternity.


Watching T-dub attempt to change himself into a person worthy of heaven made me see myself in the same way. None of us are worthy of heaven because it's not a real place. And neither is hell. THANK GOD.

Thanks for reading. Whoever you are.

peace&love and grace,

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

The big broad line between love and hate.

My reflections about the things I initially wrote on this blog center around religion and gayness. I don't know if those things are somehow related to my purpose in life, but I do know that those two things have collided in my consciousness in a way that's caused me to rethink the foundations upon which my upbringing was based.

I was taught to hate gay people. That's a strong statement because no one ever told me explicitly that I should hate gay people. However, I was taught (from a very young age and for as long as I can remember) that gay people are an abomination in the eyes of God. My own mother is alive to this day and continues to demonstrate that she believes this. She REALLY believes it. Bless her heart.

I bear no ill will toward my mother. I love her and have done what I can to ensure that her existence remains comfortable and as happy as it seems she's capable of being.

Nevertheless, she taught me that I should hate gay people. But, here's a truth: WHAT YOU TEACH isn't necessarily WHAT THEY LEARN. I was taught to hate gay people, but I learned to love them instead. Her hatred fed a curiosity in me. And in learning to love gay people, I learned to love pretty much everyone in general. All people. Including myself. (My dad actually taught me that last part.)

People deserve to be loved in ways that teach them to love themselves because no one chooses to be born into this world. And sometimes, by the time we're able to make choices on our own, we've been screwed over by the choices of others so profoundly that we can barely overcome it. My mother once screamed at me, "You don't know how to love!" so I decided to spend the rest of my life proving her wrong. It was a great decision. I stand by it.

As I look back, I see now that this story with Todd is really just MY story. Proving that I do indeed know how to LOVE.

Thanks for reading. Whoever you are.

peace&love and grace,

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Monday, January 01, 2018

 THIS IS what TODD SAID TO ME PUBLICLY regarding SEXUALITY...bless his heart...

Yeah, you really crystallized the issue … I mean, hell if I would write this stuff down,
(which i'm just still just afraid of--you know how i feel about the power of words) I think what might’ve come out of it is something like that … at least that’s how I would want you to perceive I was reasoning about myself and our marriage… which it seems you have although I say very little. … If that makes any sense at all.

Yeah, I have to admit that I don’t “get off” looking at opposite sex, boobs, etc….. so women in general, yeah, you’re right, although I appreciate their beauty and characteristics and nature.

And about you, yeah, I get that.
I do feel that way—bcz I’m in love with YOU and attracted to all the components OF you that MAKE YOU a woman, including the physical meldings of our male and female forms….

I mean, maybe some day I’ll start wanting to buy t***y mags…hahaa....

….but I’m content to be en eros with regard to ONE woman, my earthly companion. The one I was destined for all along. [Lucky you. :D]

And for me, the battle is such a head game. To appreciate and observe strength and beauty (male or female) vs. obsessing over personal inadequacies, feeling isolated, needing affirmation/touch, …. All of those things comprise my struggle each day.

Keeping that struggle in perspective; meeting needs in healthy ways—not by sexualizing or contextualizing or settling for “oh this is how I am”; recognizing my purpose in life (including struggle); and aye, even…dare I suggest…thanking God for where he’s grown me from…and to….

These are NOT mere mental posturings in response to the battle, rather they are viable weapons I can use in the fight for my masculinity, manhood, role as husband, father, and friend. As the whole man God intended.

You’re far more perceptive than I would have ever imagined; far more at peace and clear-thinking than I could ever have hoped; and provide much enc o u r a g ement for me to face this; deal with it; and perhaps come to embrace it fully. I mean, my gosh, to be able to even talk about this.

You’re truly amazing.


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And so, we begin.

It was a dark and stormy night.

How does one go from being a born-again Christ warrior Assemblies of God trained ambassador of everything Good and Holy and HEAVEN-BOUND...

to this.


What is this?

This. Is me.

I'm small and insignificant. But I'm still me. And I hope I'll do a good job this year of telling the story of how I got to be me. This format seems like a good way to do it, and I'm grateful that current technology makes this possible.

I'm an agnonstic believer of Jesus and His way of going about things.

Part of me can't believe that I felt compelled to preface everything I'm about to say this way.

Oh well.

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