Sunday, December 22, 2013

Do atheists celebrate Christmas?

I've seen this question pop up a few times so I would like to address it.

To be clear, I don't really identify as an atheist per say, but I am close with several atheists although I myself am undecided. That being said, here's my answer to "Do atheists celebrate Christmas?"

As a non-christian (something I definitely am) married to an atheist (which he definitely is) we still celebrate Christmas.

In fact, my atheist husband is super excited about Christmas and has been blasting Christmas music since November 1st. All kinds of Christmas music, yes, even the religious songs.

You see, we still appreciate the tradition of christmas. We appreciate the "story" of christmas. We just believe it's only that- a story. Mankind has been entertained by fictional stories since. . . well. . . forever. Just because we believe the story is fiction doesn't mean we can't enjoy the myth and the tradition of the season.

That's why I have no problem with nativity scenes, Christmas hymns, talk of a savior etc. To me, it's just fiction. I realize it's much more than that to some people- that's their personal choice and belief and I respect that 100%.

However, because I don't believe it's *truth* does that mean I am not allowed to celebrate?

Not to mention, the Christmas holiday is so much more than celebrating the arrival of a savior. It's evolved into time spent being generous to others, time spent with family, a reminder to show those in our lives that we appreciate them and love them. I think it's wonderful to have a tradition where we celebrate the goodness in each other.

Are there atheists who don't celebrate Christmas? I'm sure. I've also met CHRISTIANS who don't celebrate Christmas. It's a personal choice for each individual to make regardless of whether they believe the nativity story is truth or fiction.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Happy Holidays VS Merry Christmas

It's that time of year.

Where people rant about the use of "Happy Holidays" verses "Merry Christmas"

I want to start out by saying, if you are offended when someone warmly wishes you a "Merry Christmas" you might want to take a step back and and think about why you are offended. If you don't celebrate Christmas, if you hate Christmas, if you think Christmas is evil. . . I still don't see why you would be angry that someone said something NICE to you. I think these people must be extremely rare as I have NEVER encountered one. Due to my type of employment, I have encountered many, many people. None of them have ever been offended by being wished "Merry Christmas!"

That being said, the potential of "offense" has never been expressed to me as the reason why many businesses have adopted the use of "Happy Holidays" instead. I haven't researched extensively, so I'm just sharing my own personal perspective on the issue.

Now what I HAVE seen, is people become offended by the use of "Happy Holidays!"

I've seen dozens of Facebook posts and daily have conversations that include statements like "I'm not going with any of this stupid PC crap. . . so I say Merry Christmas!!!!"

Personally, if someone wishes me well I will never take it negatively. If I'm wished a happy Hanukkah, happy Kwanzaa, happy Christmas, or whatever warm wish someone chooses to use- why on earth would I take that poorly? It would be silly. Even if I don't celebrate whatever holiday that may be, someone taking the time to say something nice to me is always appreciated.

However it seems there are those who would find it offensive if I wished them "happy holiday!"

Now, what if my motive behind this isn't to avoid "offending" anyone, but merely to include the fact that there are different holidays celebrated by different religions and nationalities and I would like to recognize them all with one greeting, offered in a warm and friendly manner?


Why is it bad for me to choose to say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas!" ?

I've wished many people Merry Christmas for years. None of them have ever been offended.

However, I'm a bit worried to use "Happy Holidays!" due to all the negativity surrounding that greeting by many people during this time of year.

I suppose someone could be offended that my use of "Merry Christmas!" doesn't include the other various holidays and that I'm elevating one holiday over another. Again, I feel this is silly. If Christmas is the holiday I celebrate and if I don't know which one you celebrate, why would anyone be mad that I send them a warm wish representing the holiday I personally celebrate?

This doesn't make sense. Again, if someone wished me "Happy Hanukkah!" I would smile and say "You too!"

I could be wrong, but to me, "Happy Holidays!" is NOT about negating Christmas. . . but rather about including ALL the holidays that ALL people celebrate this time of year. . . it's about being inclusive to EVERYONE-

It's about not EXCLUDING any holiday, or some feeble attempt to "not offend" anyone. 

But apparently that's a bad thing?

It's BAD to include the various holidays that people of different religions and beliefs celebrate?

I have yet to see anyone complain about "Merry Christmas" being offensive. I have not seen one Facebook post or heard one comment from anyone- ever- about this phrase being used on them as a negative thing.

Even now, being non religious and being around more non religious, or religions other than christianity than I ever have before in my life- I have yet to meet a person who would be offended if anyone wished them a "Merry Christmas!"

So I wonder. . . where did this originate?

And I'm curious if anyone else has noticed that in the absence of offense at "Merry Christmas!" There seems to be an overwhelming amount of people who get bent out of shape over "Happy Holidays!"?

If anyone takes the time to send a warm wish your way, regardless of what holiday it is- appreciate it for what it's worth.

Even if it's "Happy Holidays!"

And so my friends, no matter what holiday you celebrate or even if you don't celebrate any- I hope you enjoy this time. If you're with family or by yourself, I hope you are happy and well and enjoying yourself. I hope you are able to see the best of whatever situation you are in, to love yourself and love those around you.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Choices part 2

After my post "choices" a discussion ensued on my Facebook wall and in private conversation. I would like to address some of the points brought up:

But before I get on to those, I'd like to recommend you read two of my favorite articles on the subject:

How I lost faith in the pro-life movement- by Love Joy Feminism

Abstinence: A birth control method that's 100% effective?- by Love Joy Feminism

Very thought provoking, don't you agree? Moving on:

60% of miscarriages are believed to be due to chromosomal errors

Yes this is true. However a good portion of the time we don't know WHY it happens. There's been many, many cases of unexplained pregnancy loss. Also- this only accounts for bonafide miscarriages, NOT the fertilized eggs that never attach to the uterine wall (of which it is believed up for 50% are discarded for unknown reasons).

On this note, I would also like to share that many women need to have a D&C procedure after discovery of the loss of their pregnancy.

Sound familiar?

You guessed it. It's the exact same procedure used during an abortion.

I just find it incredibly ironic that as much as people keep trying to say spontaneous abortion and intentional abortion are so different- yet medically the treatment is the exact same. This "horrible" procedure that is supposed to scar and destroy your uterus? Turns out it's extremely helpful and necessary in many cases of spontaneous abortion. The pro life movement may want to consider that when spreading lies about abortion procedures to women facing unwanted pregnancies.

But a fetus has the right to life!

I agree. IF that fetus is viable without the aid of extraordinary measures, or the use of another persons body, I absolutely agree he/she is entitled to life.

However, I also believe in bodily autonomy. Here's a quote a pasted to my Facebook discussion:

"There’s a concept called bodily autonomy. It’s generally considered a human right. Bodily autonomy means a person has control over who or what uses their body, for what, and for how long. It’s why you can’t be forced to donate blood, tissues, or organs. Even if you’re dead. Even if you’d save or improve 20 lives. It’s why someone can’t touch you, have sex with you, or use your body in any way without your continuous consent.

A fetus is using someone’s body parts. Therefore under bodily autonomy, it is there by permission, not by right. It needs a person’s continuous consent. If they deny or withdraw consent, the pregnant person has a right to remove them from that moment. A fetus is equal in this regard because if I need someone else’s body parts to live, the also can legally deny me their use. 

By saying a fetus has a right to someone’s body parts until it’s born, despite the pregnant person’s wishes, you’re doing two things.

1.) Granting a fetus more rights to other people’s bodies than any born person.
2.) Awarding a pregnant person less rights to their body than a corpse"

Perhaps that seems harsh, but that is where I stand on the subject. A fetus does not have the right to use another persons body to further it's life without that persons continued consent. 

Spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) is NOT intentional- and in the case of choosing to have an abortion there is the matter of INTENT. Miscarriage and abortion are not the same thing.

I completely agree. They aren't exactly the same. However, the irony of my experience with spontaneous abortion is what it opened my eyes to the idea that I am OK with a woman choosing to experience an abortion if she does not want to be pregnant. 

In my case, I didn't get a choice. My body made that choice for me. Perhaps it was chromosomal error (this is what my doctor told me was the likely cause). But truly, I will never know. 

However, also in my case, I WANTED to be pregnant. I was TRYING to get pregnant I had the INTENT to get pregnant. I was THRILLED when I saw those two pink lines, indicating the presence of HCG in my body. . . but my body went on to reject that pregnancy. Despite my best attempts to be healthy and make it so my body would retain and fulfill that pregnancy, the opposite happened. 

What if I had been trying to avoid pregnancy? What if- instead of joy- I felt fear and terror upon seeing those two pink lines? What if my body decided- despite my attempts to prevent it- to become pregnant? What if, despite my best efforts, the opposite of what I wanted happened?

I fail to see how it would be so horribly different for me to decide to seek a medical procedure to remove my unwanted pregnancy- if I decided that was the best decision for myself at that present time. After all, if the tables were turned, I could find myself having the exact same procedure in the event of an unwanted miscarriage!

Yes, I realize they are different. However there's a level of irony that I experienced and it had a huge role in changing my views from excruciatingly pro life to being pro choice. I tried to articulate what brought about this very personal change in hopes I might be able to explain myself in an understandable manner. I hope that some were able to see that. 

But if people would just follow the bible/gods laws and only have sex within the confines of a marriage- this wouldn't be an issue at all!

You couldn't be more wrong. 

Even in the confines of a marriage, an unwanted pregnancy can occur. 

Trust me, after the delivery of both my children, I was TERRIFIED of getting pregnant shortly thereafter. I can assure you, that I'm not entirely sure if I would have wanted to keep a pregnancy that occurred within a month or two of delivering my child. I haven't been faced with that choice, so I don't know what I would choose. But I could see how being in that situation, I might just want to choose NOT to continue that very much so UNwanted pregnancy. 

I know I am not the first married woman who has been in a situation where I wanted to avoid pregnancy and where, if I had become pregnant, it would have very much been unwanted. 

Being married and engaging in sex for the purpose of intimacy does NOT mean you will want a pregnancy that may occur as a result of that sex. 

Our bodies don't always cooperate with what we want. They don't get pregnant when we want them to. They get rid of pregnancies that we want. They get pregnant when we DON'T want to be pregnant. 

So why, I ask, WHY is it that we must accept the "fate" of our bodies biological "decisions" NO MATTER WHAT?

Honestly, I feel it's the same as having the medical ability to prevent a miscarriage, but telling a women that she shouldn't intervene. Because that pregnancy was SUPPOSED to be lost. It wasn't SUPPOSED to continue. It was an act of god, or some other divine intervention (or "allowed" by god, however you choose to see it). 

If you advocate for no intervention in the natural outcome of a pregnancy, that applies to miscarriage too.

I was the result of an unwanted pregnancy and I wouldn't be here if my mother had chosen an abortion!

Likewise hitler would never have been born if HIS mother HAD chosen to have an abortion. 

The people who may or may not result from a pregnancy cannot really be used to argue for/against abortion. Honestly this whole concept makes my head spin. Here's a summary of what I posted on this subject on my Facebook:

The (supposed) person I "conceived" when I miscarried was lost. That person will never exist. Maybe that person was going to cure cancer. Maybe that person was the next Hitler. I will never know. 

Because I miscarried, I had the opportunity to conceive a different person- my son. My son wouldn't exist if that miscarriage had continued as a healthy pregnancy and delivery of a child. 

So I lost a person, but gained a person. If I had given birth to the person I lost, I wouldn't even know about the person I now have. Or any of the other hypothetical persons I may conceive. 

How can I mourn the "person" I lost when I have gained a person who would not exist if that loss had not occurred? 

Is your head spinning now too? Yeah. Do you get it? It's just one of those arguments that goes no where. 

Sometimes pregnancies result in awesome people being brought into this world. Sometimes they result in awful people being brought into this world. Let's just leave it at that. 

Just because adoption was the chosen option for many women in the event of their unwanted pregnancies does not mean every woman will want to make that choice. This isn't about always choosing abortion, this is about each woman having the opportunity to make the best choice for HERSELF, whether that be raising a child, adoption, or abortion.

But if you can have an abortion, why not kill living children?!

Please refer back to my clip on bodily autonomy. 

Living children do NOT require the use of another persons body to live. Therefore, killing them would be murder. 

Abortion is not murder anymore than refusing to donate you organs is murder. Yeah, you COULD extend a life, but ultimately who is allowed to use your body should be your choice. Therefore, even if a fetus is alive and is a person, deciding not to let that person use your body to continue his/her life is not murder. (Sidenote, I am not convinced that an embryo/early fetus is a live person. A living organism? Sure. But a live person? if this is the case, there's a lot of people being spontaneously aborted without intent which is way more horrific that the few intentional abortions by comparison.)

Sure you could argue that a random person in need of an organ donation is not the same as a fetus that was conceived and now dwelling inside your body as a result of sexual intercourse. 

So then I pose this question- by this logic- should we force people to donate their organs if they cause a car accident? Well, you knowingly engaged in an activity that may result in a car accident (driving). You may have done your best to prevent it, or you have have been lazy and stupid. Regardless, you caused an accident and now because of you, there are bodies that need organs to live. So we're going to legally force you to give your organs to those bodies. If you didn't want to be in that position, you shouldn't have taken the risk of driving. 

Same goes for the abstinence argument. "If you don't want to get pregnant, don't have sex" (that was my favorite pro life argument). 

Now I realize that's the same as saying "If you don't want to get in a car accident, don't drive/ride in a car!"

Doesn't make much sense, does it? In living day to day life and meeting our human needs, it's just not logical to stay locked in your home every day so you don't venture out into the world of the unknown where things can happen. . . like car accidents and unwanted pregnancies.

I hope this is an adequate rebuttal to the points brought up in the Facebook discussion that resulted from my original "choices" post. 

Again I would like to point out that whether or not it makes sense to you, I was merely sharing my own thoughts on the subject and what brought about my change from being so ready to throw pro life arguments in everyone's faces to now supporting the legal right of a woman to end her pregnancy. 

Overall, I've realized life just isn't as black and white as I once thought. And ultimately, it's not the governments job to make things illegal just because a religious group thinks it's wrong for everyone. 

If you are pro life and you think abortion is wrong, making it illegal is not going to help your cause. 

What WILL help your cause?

First off, making access to birth control easy and affordable as well as educating women (and men!) correctly about sex and what can result from it. This will result in reducing unwanted pregnancies which will then result in reducing abortion. 

Second, offer love and support (not shame) to mothers who conceive an unwanted pregnancy. And be willing to help support all the children who may result from these unwanted pregnancies. If you are truly pro life, it's not just about letting a fetus live. It's about making sure ALL children are cared for from birth to adulthood. Stop shaming people who need assistance. Stop shaming women who become pregnant outside of marriage or whatever you deem is the "right time" to get pregnant. 

Statistically, these are the things that will reduce abortion. It's already been proven. It works. 

Furthermore, if you believe life begins at conception, you ought to be a bit more concerned with the fact that many more "lives" are being lost every day than abortion could ever match- as a biological result. I'm not even talking about miscarriage, I'm talking about fertilized eggs that never implant and are washed away during the menstrual cycle. 

Perhaps you should offer more support to women who suffer miscarriages as well. Donate to research why miscarriage happens and how to prevent it. 

Ironically, the most support I received during my miscarriage was from a pro-choice friend. She offered to let me recuperate at her home, sent me a care package, and did so much more than the coined "I'll pray for you." (I do appreciate everyone's prayers, but she was by far the most supportive). It kind of made me scratch my head and wonder which side really supports "life".

Thank you for reading!

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Today I was getting the kids clothes organized- getting rid of summer clothes, clothes that were too small- updating their wardrobes with larger, warmer items. I also started getting my "normal" clothes out and my (nearly) 5 year old daughter asked,

"Mommy, where are those clothes from?"

I said, "Oh, these are my normal clothes. I just didn't fit them while I was pregnant, but now I fit them again."

She looked at me, thoughtful, somewhat fearful and said in all seriousness: "I don't want to be pregnant."

I took her in my arms and said,

"Sweetie- first of all you CANNOT be pregnant right now because you are a little girl, but someday, when you are a GROWN up, if you WANT to be pregnant, you can be pregnant. You NEVER have to be pregnant if you don't want to be. NEVER. No one can MAKE you be pregnant."

I saw the look of relief on her face. "Good, because I don't ever want to be pregnant."

Now, obviously she's probably going to change her mind someday, and who even knows what exactly is going on in her 5 year old mind.

But it totally impacted me when I saw how relieved she was when I said "You NEVER have to be pregnant if you don't want to be."

Not too long ago, I considered myself extremely "pro-life". Abortion broke my heart. I didn't think anyone should ever have an abortion- even if they were raped, carrying a terminal pregnancy, 13 years old, I thought it was never OK in any circumstances- EVER. I proudly proclaimed that "if you don't want to be pregnant, DON'T HAVE SEX! It's THAT simple!"

Then 2 things happened. 

First, I met and talked to women who had abortions. I heard their stories. I saw how unique their circumstances were.

I saw how it wasn't just the same story- a slutty girls goes and gets knocked up and runs to the abortion clinic to erase her "mistake". If only she was a christian who saved sex for marriage this would never have happened. If only she had just kept her legs closed! If she didn't want to be pregnant, she had no business having sex!

All those preconceived ideas I had about abortions and the women who have them started to melt away.

I talked to women who were in abusive relationships, who were terrified of being pregnant, who weren't ready to have children, who had no way to support a child. . . so many different scenarios- it simply wasn't as black and white as I had thought.

Then, I had a miscarriage. 

After my miscarriage, I did a lot of research and learned some really crazy things:

Did you know that up to 50% of fertilized eggs never turn into pregnancies? Scientists don't know why, but the woman's body is very selective over which fertilized eggs will make it- and which ones won't. If you are a woman with a functioning reproductive system and you are sexually active- your body will selectively flush fertilized eggs away- and considering how many women have lived- that's a whole lot of fertilized eggs. Millions upon millions upon billions.

Did you know that miscarriage- especially in the first trimester- is extremely common? Scientists believe even after implantation there may only be a 50% survival rate for the embryo. Many of these early miscarriages occur before a woman may even suspect she is pregnant or before she could even KNOW that she is pregnant.

Anytime you get pregnant there is AT LEAST a 25% chance you will have a miscarriage. Prior number of healthy births does not matter. Other conditions may INCREASE these odds, but for the most perfectly healthy female that ugly 25% rate is staring you in the face.

Medically, a miscarriage is referred to as a "spontaneous abortion". Basically, the body has decided- for reasons still not fully understood- that this fertilized egg/embryo/fetus simply needs to go. 

Sometimes it's because there were developmental issues. Sometimes everything looked great, but it happened anyway. Mostly- NO ONE REALLY KNOWS WHY THE FEMALE BODY SO EASILY DISCARDS OF SO MANY PREGNANCIES EVERY SINGLE MINUTE OF EVERY SINGLE DAY. 

Some people find this a huge hypocrisy in the pro-life movement- if they are so concerned with saving lives, why haven't they attempted to research or support women suffering miscarriage?

I agree. It's a huge hypocrisy. By their actions and priorities, it definitely seems like they only care about women who don't WANT to be pregnant. About the baby they DIDN'T want to have. All they care about is forcing women to be pregnant whether they want to or not, spreading misinformation about health and birth control, and ultimately controlling the sex lives of women in general (if you don't want to get pregnant, keep those legs CLOSED!)

Of course this doesn't account for rape and pregnancies which can occur from that. In fact, one blogger wrote about how abstinence ISN'T actually 100% effective because of this gnarly little fact, it's a great piece if you'd like to read it here. 

Anyway, moving on from that there was something that I was struck by during my miscarriage experience. . .

So MY body can decide to end my pregnancy- for who knows what reason- but *I* shouldn't be allowed that same choice?

And to put a religious spin on it- if God is in control of life and conception and of my body- then why does he axe all these "lives" so quickly?

Sounds like a major design flaw to me. Why wouldn't he have just made the female body to be a bit more receptive to life? Why would he create a body designed to "kill" life over and over again? Wouldn't it have been easier to just make the actual fertilization a bit more difficult? Or to make our bodies more receptive to the 50% of fertilized eggs that get flushed away or 25% of embryos/fetuses that are spontaneously aborted- for no known reason?

It just doesn't seem right that my body (or God, however you choose to look at it) can abort, abort, abort, and abort again- but I can't make that same decision with my brain?

And if a fertilized egg really is alive- why don't we care about all these lives that are being helplessly murdered by our own bodies so very frequently?!

So here's a few conclusions I have drawn:

Either our bodies are pretty murderous or life doesn't start at conception.

Either way, a woman using her mind and choosing to end her pregnancy is no different than a woman who's body decided to end it for her- reasons unknown.

I realized this when describing my miscarriage experience to a friend who had an early abortion- in the form of taking a pill.


She made a remark that stuck with me, "Our bodies went through the same thing, the only difference was you really wanted to be pregnant and I really didn't."

And so I came to a very difficult conclusion. I am prochoice. I am 100% ok with a woman choosing to medically, safely, end a pregnancy. That may not be a choice that I would make- or that others would make- but I think that choice needs to be there.

If you believe life begins at conception and you want to honor that "life" and make choices based on those beliefs? I support you.

If you find yourself in a position where you are pregnant and you really do not want to be pregnant so you decide to seek a safe, medical procedure to end that pregnancy? I support you.

Because I want to always be able to assure my daughter that, 

"You NEVER have to be pregnant if YOU do not WANT to be."

Monday, November 4, 2013

Remember, remember the 5th of November...

I've touched on the subject of how my husband and I ended up getting married a few times and I've also talked about my previous beliefs and how they affected my thinking. Today, I am going to devote this entire post to what led to the events of November 5th, 2007.


Many of the things I learned were not necessarily directly from my parents. Growing up I overheard many adult conversations, read many books, listened to many sermons, attended several seminars which all had a part in what I was "taught" growing up. I'm learning more about the various influences which lead to my state of mind at the time and my decision to elope with my husband.  This is my perception of the events and my true feelings at the time:

This is my story:

Many of you know, I was homeschooled. I grew up in a christian family and regularly attended church. Here are some of the beliefs I was taught either through books, other adults, sermons, seminars etc:
  • A woman always needs to be under a mans authority. First, her father's authority. After her father has approved a spouse, she would be under her husbands authority. 
  • A woman should submit to the male authority in her life, if not, "bad things" would happen to her (rape, lack of fulfillment in life, etc.)
  • Dating is bad. Courtship is good. 
  • Why is courtship good? It saves heartache. And it spares your (apparently limited capacity to love) from being "spent" on other people. It sets you up for an ideal marriage. 
  • Marriage issues are directly related to couples performing "bad" sex acts in the marriage bed (masturbation, pornography, oral/anal sex, pretty much anything except vaginal intercourse), OR if they had premarital sex or not. Therefore, not having premarital sex will protect your marriage from issues (excuse me while I laugh out loud!)
  • If you have sex before marriage with someone you don't end up married to- no wait, not just sex- but if you HUG or even LIKE or have ANY romantic feelings for anyone you don't end up marrying?
  • YOU have STOLEN future love/liking/hugs/sex from your imaginary FUTURE spouse. And the people who engaged in these acts with you? You ALSO stole from THEIR future spouse!!!!
  • Sex is mainly about creating life, it's intimacy purposes were never really addressed. 
  • Birth control is bad. Birth control pills are just abortion pills. An IUD is like a blender and grinds up little babies so you don't stay pregnant- but it doesn't PREVENT pregnancy, which is any time an egg is fertilized. Therefore, anything but natural family planning is basically murder. 
  • God will give you the right amount of babies, just trust him to plan your family. 
  • If you act out from under authority (for me, this meant making any decisions for myself) BAD THINGS will happen to you. 
  • If bad things happen to you, it's usually because you brought it on yourself- basically it's a punishment. 
  • If you live the right way, God will "bless" your life and bad things won't happen to you. 
  • Basically, I thought sex was pretty bad unless it was vaginal intercourse in a marriage. I thought I would be "ruined" if I wasted time even LIKING someone I didn't end up marrying. I thought that saving sex for marriage would practically guarantee me an AWESOME marriage with little to no issues. I shouldn't make any decisions without my dad (parents) approval because that would be acting out from under authority and there would be BAD consequences!!!! Even as an 18 year old, decisions should be left to my parents. 

That was my interpretation of life in the mid 2000s.

November 3rd 2005. I have a blog on xanga. I find Adam. I knew him from our homeschool group. My mom was their homeschool consultant.

I wrote a comment on one of his posts. I debated whether or not to post it, it was such a forward move for me to make as a woman!!!! I felt guilty, but I posted it anyway. (It was a public comment).

He responded.

We exchanged emails. We began chatting online.

Our friendship blossomed.

He began attending my family's church.

We talked, in person, on the phone, online. Not really about anything in particular, nothing remotely close to inappropriate. We still have records of the chats and find it pretty entertaining to re-read them now and laugh at our awkward teenage selves!

On my 18th birthday, he gave me a pair of earrings and told me that he "liked me more than a friend."

I was thrilled. I enjoyed talking to him. I enjoyed his personality. I enjoyed being around him. We made each other laugh. We had similar views on life.

After that we carried on, chatting, e-mailing, and speaking on the phone.

We did not date. We did not spend time alone together. We also spent time in groups or with our families. We did tend to focus on each other (no wonder, since we had 0 time alone with each other) and this bothered a lot of the people we would hang out with. It wasn't intentional, we just REALLY liked talking to each other and spending time together and unfortunately it was always with other people so we naturally turned our main focus to each other.

A few months after my birthday we were told to cease contact, given copies of a workbook on courtship, and told we would be meeting with our parents in 10 days.

It was awful. I missed him SO BADLY. We got to see each other at church and that was IT- no emails, no phone calls, NOTHING.

I remember his sister passed along a message from him to me and that was probably my highlight of the entire time! One of my friends also passed along a message from him, something like "Adam says hi!"

I felt like I should feel guilty for this, but I didn't. It just seemed natural.

At the meeting with our parents, I remember feeling scared and awful. I don't remember much else, but I do clearly remember my mother looking directly at Adam and saying. . .

"Do you intend to ask for Sarah's hand in marriage?"

I was thinking MARRIAGE?! Does he want to marry me? Oh my goodness, I don't even know WHAT to do or THINK!!!!

He looked at her and said, "Yes."

I thought, well dang. He obviously knows what he wants. I had better think about whether or not I want to marry him!!!

From that point on we had to follow careful rules on the understanding we wouldn't be getting married for a long- long time. Not until after Adam earned a college degree and bought a house- was "stable" all that smart stuff.

Not that those are bad things, but I felt like we were already as committed to each other as married people are- because NOW if we broke up he'd always have a piece of my heart! I would have stolen from my future spouse! I would be stealing from HIS future spouse!!!

So in my mind, we were practically already married. 

Just with 0 privacy and lots of rules to follow. No intimacy, no sex. But the same level of commitment.

Not to say I WANTED to break up with him, but it wasn't something I was even able- or capable of considering at the time- we were destined to be married and THAT was THAT. I was ecstatic to be getting "ready" to marry him- I really like everything about him, I loved him! It was going to be fabulous.

I was thrilled to be courting him. We followed all the rules laid out for us and did so happily! I was laying the foundation for a wonderful marriage and life! Yay! How wonderful!

Then he left for boot camp.

I cried and sobbed uncontrollably for hours. It was so hard being away from each other. We wrote horribly sappy love letters. Mine always began "To my knight in shining armor" and his "To my fair maiden."

My dad asked to see the letters.

I said no. (This would be me acting out from under authority).

But I just could not BEAR to let anyone read our precious letters! They were the ONLY contact we had with each other. There was no sexual content, just mushy, sappy, dribble. Wonderful dribble, but honestly, it's pretty hilarious to read them now.

I got to see him for his boot camp graduation. I stayed with his parents who were also there. It was amazing and incredible! We got to hug and walk around with me holding his arm (holding hands shouldn't be happening until "engagement" because it was "too sexually exciting" I was told). And that was it.

No kissing. No touching. I think we had a short private conversation and that was it. 

He got to come home for Christmas, but sadly, our first holiday together we were not allowed to BE together. We were not allowed to spend any time with each other that day at all, period. It made me really, really sad.

Amazingly, he was allowed to give me a cell phone for Christmas. I think I gave him a bible with his name engraved on it. *sigh*

With that cell phone we could talk more frequently and- TEXT MESSAGE!!!! We spent hours and hours and hours talking on the phone whenever we could, texting whenever we could while he finished training.

During Christmas break, we hugged a bit more frequently. It felt good, really good. Not in a dirty sexual way. In a happy intimate way. It felt pure, normal, and just. . . right. We were absolutely infatuated with each other and loved each other as much as an 18 and 19 year old could. And like I said, in my mind we were practically already married. Now we were just waiting!

He went out to breakfast with my dad and asked what he needed to do to be ready to marry me. He was given a list of sorts.

A few months later, he came home from his training and somewhere around that time during one of our phone calls he said "will you marry me?" and I already knew my answer! I'd known for months!

I'm not sure why, but we decided to tell people we were engaged. Looking back that was pretty silly because nothing had really changed in our relationship. We were already planning on getting married and had been since my mother had asked him if he was planning to ask for my hand in marriage! We didn't set a date, we didn't. . . really do anything, except start telling people that we were engaged.

A small handful of them were happy.

My parents were not. My dad replied to the news by saying, "No you aren't."

Needless to say, just about every relationship in our life ended up getting pretty strained during this time. Our close friends and a few adult friends were happy and supportive, but that was it.

I was confused. This wasn't going the way it should be! But I was already committed to marriage, and I loved him so much!

Over the course of the next several months we endured the pain of all the strained relationships with our families and friends. All we knew was that we wanted to be TOGETHER. So we spent as much time together as possible. We finally managed to start getting alone time.

During that alone time we very, very slowly. . . very VERY gradually became closer physically. It felt very natural and wonderful. It didn't even really feel sexual- at first.

But as each month dragged on as we hung in limbo not knowing when or if we would be allowed to be married- we got slightly closer and closer to having sex.

So finally, we kissed. It was on Adam's 20th birthday.

A month later, we knew we had better get married. We were on the verge of committing a terrible sin! Premarital sex!!!

So we decided to get a marriage license at the courthouse. No one really needed to know, we could just move in together, have sex. . . and then when people got mad at us just flash our marriage license in their face and say "HA! WE AREN'T SINNING!!!"

We had the support of several adults, parents of some of our friends mostly. That was about it though. We definitely made a lot of people pretty angry with our decision. But we didn't know what else to do! We just wanted to be together and we didn't want to sin!!!

So we did it. We ended up sharing our secret with friends and family shortly before our plan was to take place. It was scary, we felt very- VERY alone. But we were CONVINCED it was the right thing to do.

Needless to say, the following years taught me that:

Saving sex for marriage doesn't save your marriage from issues. If you put two human beings in a close, intimate relationship, THERE ARE GOING TO BE ISSUES. And guess what? IT'S NORMAL! You learn to communicate with each other, to forgive, and how to cope when "bad things" happen.

I never really learned how to cope with "bad things" happening in life. Because if you live your life the RIGHT way, bad things aren't supposed to happen!

But guess what? Bad things. . . happen. Fights, friendships dissolving, disagreements, job loss, cars breaking down, financial set backs, job stress, miscarriages, death of loved ones. . .

And I had NO CLUE how to handle ANY of it. NO CLUE! NO clue how to cope.

I experienced so many feelings- I didn't know what to do with them! I didn't know what I was doing! I did all the wrong things, I had no clue how to communicate.

After 2 years, I thought: well obviously THIS is why people didn't want us to get married! Because marriage is hard and we WEREN'T READY!  Now we're getting punished for not doing things the right way! Job loss, financial set backs, vehicles breaking down, fights, communication issues- it was all punishment. Because I was bad. Because I acted out from under authority. Because Adam and I eloped.

Life still gets really hard, but I've gained some new important skills. Communication skills. Coping skills. I've learned about myself. I've learned about my husband. We've been on a journey together of how to have a happy and healthy relationship and still have a ways to go, but this I can say with confidence:

At the time, I made the best decision I could for myself with the knowledge and beliefs I had at the time. I do not regret it and I do not think I made a "mistake". I am forever glad I had someone to journey with me through the things we needed to learn. I'm glad we're still together to continue learning and becoming strong, healthy people. It's been a really tough journey, but I'm so glad I haven't had to do it alone. Through everything, the good and the bad, I have had a partner to navigate life with me. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Postpartum Truth!

I grew up in an environment that did not put a big value on self image. I thought that having a good self image was being vain, selfish, or narcissistic. I thought I was supposed to put others above myself ALWAYS and that self sacrifice was a wonderful thing (and in can be, so long as it doesn't make you a fatigued, depressed, miserable individual).

Over the past few years I've been learning to take care of myself and to love myself. Not in a "I'm better than everyone" sort of way, but in a "I like myself just the way I am" and reaching an attitude of self acceptance. Ironic because I remember learning we should accept our "unchangables" but I never learned to love and appreciate myself and my body.

WHY do I think it's important to love and appreciate oneself? It makes you a better person. A better parent. A better spouse. A better employee. Just- better. If you really want to be able to give all you can to those around you (or if you don't!) either way- being in a good place YOURSELF is the first step.

Having a baby is a pretty traumatic thing for your body and your self image. Your body goes through so many changes- some of which are permanent and not exactly pretty. I am fortunate to have a good metabolism and to enjoy exercise and being active. But that doesn't make me invincible to all the changes pregnancy causes! So here's the truth- here's me baring it all (nearly).

Recovery from a pregnancy takes a while! Probably one of the most noticeable postpartum ailments is the stretched out puffy tummy.

Here's pics of me the day before I went into labor with my 2nd child, 36 hours after and 1 week after:

This is withOUT exercise (only walking). One of the benefits of breast feeding is that it caused the uterus to cramp down and return to it's normal size much quicker that not breast feeding. So I attribute this change to breast feeding :-) I do look at the 36 hours after picture and think WOW I was still so big! But after being pregnant I felt so skinny! Perspective changes everything!
Unfortunately I haven't been able to exercise a whole lot yet, but I have a little. I've also been using coconut oil to help reduce the appearance of my stretch marks (perhaps a placebo, but who cares!):

This is the day after he was born- they really aren't that bad and are already small and white. My belly button was still an outie for about 3 weeks after giving birth. Most of these (perhaps all?) were from my 1st pregnancy.

The skin over my stomach is still loose and a bit puffy. Nothing some looser/gathered clothing can't hide for the time being. I definitely recommend buying new clothes after having a baby. Even if you get back to a good weight right away, give yourself time and realize maybe you WON'T fit back in your regular clothes- oh well. Just an excuse to buy more! Stick with looser tops and go up a few sizes from what you regularly wear. If you try to shove yourself into pre-pregnancy clothes or shop for your pre-pregnancy size you will only make yourself feel bad, so don't even bother. Enjoy being able to wear styles that perhaps weren't flattering on you before, but now are. Be creative! Try on something you might never have considered before! have fun!

I would probably look even better if I had time to exercise more, but I'm not going to be upset over it. I'm doing what I can and that's what matters. I'm thankful that I missed out on the last 3-5 weeks of pregnancy and only gained 22 lbs the entire time. A higher weight gain (I gained 35 lbs with my 1st) takes a bit longer to recover from and also causes more skin stretching. I'm lucky that both my children were early and healthy and that my weight gain was healthy and very minimal!

My advice to all pregnant/postpartum mothers:

Your body may never be the same, but be patient. Enjoy your baby and know that gradually you will recover. Even a small amount of activity is enough to make a difference- just walking 15 minutes a day can help a lot. Experiment with different lotions and skin treatments and find one that makes you feel good and works for you. Even if it's only a placebo affect, it's worth it!

When I had my first child I was in so much shock over my new body that I found myself pretty depressed and sad. 4 years later the "scars" of my pregnancy and faded quite drastically (Thanks to my youth, exercise, and my metabolism). Knowing this, it was easier this time to accept and love my body during and after pregnancy. Have faith that you are beautiful- even with the permanent "scars". Do what you can to make yourself feel good during and after pregnancy. Remember that every little bit counts! You will be a better, happier person- and mother for it. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Happy childhood memories

I would like to share some of my happy childhood memories because, despite having grown up in an independent fundamentalist baptist church and with the homeschool teachings of Bill Gothard, Vision Forum, Michael and Debi Pearl- I do have a lot of happy memories that I cherish. You see I really did have great parents who wanted what EVERY parent wants: happy, healthy children. Unfortunately the sources I listed above preyed upon the desires of many parents by promising them happy, healthy, GODLY children. In reality the teachings ended up causing more damage than good. I am one of many who grew up under these teachings and I am no where close to being the first to write about my experiences with them. Here are some of my favorite blogs if you would like to read more about these teachings and their harm:

Recovering Grace

Defeating the Dragons

Darcy's Heart Stirrings

And my very favorite blog which is probably closest to my current line of thinking:

Love Joy Feminism

Alright, on to the good part:

Book reading

My favorite part of being homeschooled and also of the leisure reading my mother provided for us- BOOKS! My parents had an ample supply of books for us kids and that's something I ALWAYS loved. Part of our schooling involved reading together, out loud. I always enjoyed this (although I will whole heartedly admit I did NOT enjoy 6am bible/wisdom book readings- seriously worst idea ever!). My mom would also spend a great deal of time reading aloud to us for leisure every evening. My favorite memories are of her reading many classic books to us- The Little Princess, Robin Hood, etc. I'm sure there are many who would say reading such secular materiel to us was "damaging" but I'm glad my parents ignored that nonsense and read these great stories to us anyway!

Trips to the zoo

I grew up close to one of the nations top zoos and so we made regular trips there over the years when I was growing up- being homeschooled we were often able to go when it was quiet and we would practically have the entire zoo to ourselves! Sometimes we would go with other homeschooled friends, sometimes just our family would go. Either way it was always a great time and to this day I LOVE visiting that zoo. 


Having grown up in a large family we never took expensive or exotic vacations- but that didn't stop my parents from getting us out and into nature! I remember camping trips from a very young age and it was my favorite part of our summers! We usually camped with friends and would either hike or visit local attractions. We visited many campgrounds in the state we lived in and neighboring states and enjoyed a variety of scenery as well as great times with our friends! I loved helping set up our tents and camper and the entire experience, it was great.


Aside from camping sometimes we would take day trips to go on hikes at state parks near where we lived. We hiked bluffs, saw water falls, or simply walked through forests- I enjoyed this equally as much as camping and often we would camp near areas that we could go on day hikes from which was the best of both worlds for me! 

Playing outdoors

I had a very vivid imagination as a child and loved playing- especially outdoors. Growing up in an area that experiences all 4 seasons in full swing- I spent the winters building snow forts and sledding and the summers swimming and running around like a maniac! We often played with friends in the neighborhood or other homeschooled friends and it was always a grand time!

Bike rides

My parent would take us for family bike rides- I always enjoyed it but I am extra grateful now that they kept us active and healthy on a regular basis. I've enjoyed the benefits of that to this day!!

Old movies

My dad used to rent his favorite movies for us- all the old disney classics and other classic movies. I love that I know who Steve McQueen was and get a lot of funny references in newer movies that others don't get. Also, I've seen a lot of original sci-fi movies that have been remade now. I loved watching these old movies with my family!

Star Trek with dad

I get my sci-fi nerdness from my dad, most definitely. I have many happy memories of watching Star Trek with him at night and I was also so fascinated by all the aliens and crazy adventures that happened. To this day I absolutely LOVE sci-fi and would consider it my favorite genre!

Trips to California 

When I was 15 my mom took me to California- just me and her. Since it wasn't exactly affordable to take 7 kids all at once on a 4,000 mile round trip she took each of us by ourselves each year. I absolutely LOVED my trip to California! I got to develop relationships with my cousins and aunts and uncles- see the ocean for the first time- go to disneyland- the WORKS. I cried when our plane took off back to Minnesota- I knew I wanted to live in California some day already.

A few years later we were able to drive out there for Christmas. We had a fabulous time with all our family together and made some really great memories. I hope we can all be together again for christmas one day soon! (Which is quite a feat with 3 living on the east coast, 11 in Minnesota, 1 in New Zealand and the rest here in Cali!)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Coming soon...

Preview (and reminder to myself) of blogs posts I am (slowly) working on and will be sharing hopefully soon:

Happy Childhood Memories

In case anyone thinks I hated my childhood due to all my posts about leaving the fundamentalist movement I was raised in, I'd like to clarify a few things: I do have lots of happy memories and I'd like to outline these. I also want to talk about how much I understand that parents #1 desire is to raise their kids the best they can- but that as parents we will all make mistakes- and that's OK. My anger is directed towards the fundamentalist movement and several programs that were very popular in the 80's and 90's but have seemed to lose steam over the past decade (Bill Gothard ATI/IBLP, Michael and Debi Pearl "To train up a child", "Quiverfull", Little Bear Wheeler etc etc etc). These programs enticed so many parents thinking they had a fool proof system to raise their children to be good upright christians. . . unfortunately a lot of the teachings ending up being more damaging than helpful. I am not going to go into too many details of this, but rather focus on all the good things that I appreciate about how I was raised. I suggest visiting to learn about the programs I mentioned and how/why they are damaging.

My guide to a happy & healthy pregnancy

I'd like to share with you about all the things I did to help my pregnancy and delivery experience with Bradshaw go SO much better than it did with Mercedes. A lot of this has to do with my new way of thinking and operating in life and I'd like to show the differences and how it helped me stay healthier mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Postpartum Truth

I want to share the truth about being postpartum and what it takes to regain your health (and shape) post-delivery. I've already been documenting my journey thus far with pictures that will show my postpartum belly and stretch marks- what products I use, exercises I do etc and the results. I'll admit I'm a little scared to be this open and share this much detail, especially as it's been a very sensitive area for me in the past but I really want other women to see the truth and that pregnancy doesn't have to ruin your body! I also want to document my emotions throughout postpartum recovery and what I do to help manage the roller coaster, baby blues and postpartum depression (if I have it again, hopefully not, but if so I want to document and share my journey to help others understand it better).

I'll probably work on these posts simultaneously during my midnight nursing sessions with Brad- and so I'd like to know which one YOU'RE most interested in reading- and I'll focus on getting that post up and blogged first!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The woman I was supposed to be

This is what happens when you are up in the wee hours of the morning breast feeding a newborn and contemplating many thoughts on life. I've been working on this post for the last few days and now it's finally ready:

I am not the woman I was supposed to be. I have realized this is probably a source of disappointment for those in my life. I guess I never gave much thought until recently- well how was I SUPPOSED to turn out?

This is my perception of what I wanted to be (rather, thought I wanted to be) and what I think I was supposed to be "when I grew up":

I got this impression from the sermons, conferences, books, and conversations I grew up around. Sure it was never demanded of me and I was never told "sarah this is what you're supposed to be!" But nonetheless this is what was impressed upon me from a young age:

I was to be a godly woman who put god and church above all else. A woman who submitted to her father, then after a parent approved courtship and marriage- submission to my husband. A woman who didn't use birth control (maybe the "rhythm" method- MAYBE). A mother who stayed home and homeschooled her children. A wife to a godly husband- maybe a pastor or missionary. A husband who provided 100% and would "lead" our family. A woman with a calling to ministry (I at one point even felt "called" to minister to the deaf and struggled with feeling like a huge failure for not doing so). A woman who often played instruments/sang in church. A mother who raised "godly" children. A woman who read her bible and prayed daily.

You get the picture.

And if you know me, you know that I am NONE of these things!

And not for lack of trying! Or believing! I believed it all. I desired it truly. I really believed that was what was best for my life.

When it all came crumbling down I was devastated. I tried submitting. I tried courtship. I did everything how I was supposed to, and I still failed. To this day I'm not exactly sure how I failed, but it's pretty obvious that SOMETHING isn't going right when you are told you cannot help with childrens/teen ministries anymore, cannot sing in the choir, and need to move out- all because you're not operating "under authority". 

Was I sneaking out of the house to do "bad" things? drugs? drinking? was I blatently and intentionally disobeying my parents? Was I dressing immodestly? Was I engaging in pre-marital sex? (bear in mind I was 18 years old at this time)

The answer is NO. I hid my body in jean skirts and high collared shirts. I never openly or intentionally defied ANYONE. I was not drinking, doing drugs, or having premarital sex. I was attempting to "court" the "right way" instead of the oh so dangerous and evil dating.

When I asked "What did I do to "act out" from under authority?" I was given a handful of examples of my disobedience- but in reality there were all a result of miscommunication- not me being intentionally and knowingly defiant. 

Thankfully I have an amazing friend who started this journey with me and has stayed by my side through everything. My husband Adam. I'm so glad he has been at my side through everything- all that we've been through together has bonded us in an incredible way and I am so grateful for that! We've had our share of difficulties to get throught starting at the very beginning of our "relationship" :

We tried to follow all the rules. And there were so many- don't hold hands. Don't sit next to each other. Don't look at each other too much. Don't rest your head on each others shoulders. Don't talk to each other so much when others are around. Don't spend too much time talking to each other AT ALL- (15 minutes seemed to be the max). No lolly gagging when it was time to say "goodbye". 

All we wanted was to spend time TOGETHER. And apparently this was a huge crime.

This used to make me so angry. Now I find it almost comical, but I have to admit sometimes it still hurts. As time goes on I realize how silly my situation was. How silly it all was. What a complete waste of life it was to be so worried about such ridiculous things.


Finally I realized things weren't adding up. I realized Bill Gothards principles of "courtship" were fabricated bullshit. I talked to other adults and we realized we weren't evil an could make our own decisions and that was ok.

That was when I began learning to think for myself. It's also when the woman I was "supposed" to be started dying and the woman I have become today began emerging. 

Now what's funny to me is that life was anything BUT fulfilling when I was well on the path to the woman I described earlier. I was lonely, constantly felt like a failure, and was often depressed. I have no doubt I would still feel the same way if I had stayed on that path. When Adam and I were first married I still tried my hardest to be that woman- and I failed miserably. 

Finally I transitioned into letting that idea go- into NOT trying to become that woman. 

And now I'm glad I'm not that woman. I like me just the way I am. I am happy. Life is fulfilling. Life is enjoyable. It still has ups and downs- very much so- but I don't feel lonely, like a failure, or depressed. I love being a working mother. I love being in an equal marriage (in other words, I love NOT submitting!). I love mornings filled with my family's love (and coffee!). I love Sunday being... Just another day. I love using modern medicine to take care of my health as a woman and my reproductive system. I love not worrying about my kids being "godly" or not. I love being free to just love them- and not load them up with expectations (so I don't have to be uber disappointed if they don't end up *gasp* GODLY or not).  I love teaching my kids HOW to think verses WHAT to think. I love encouraging them to ask as many questions as they can. I love not having to worry about them reciting a prayer of "salvation" as soon as they can be convinced to do so. I love being able to enjoy a career AND motherhood and do not feel I am less of a mother for doing so.

I love being able to enjoy life- and not be caught up in silly INSIGNIFICANT things... I don't have to care about who's holding hands, resting their head on a shoulder during a movie, locking eyes too often- I don't really have to care about ANYONE'S choices.

If another woman is happy and fulfilled in life being what I "supposed" to be? Good for her. I'm glad that's what works for her! I really, truly am. Maybe a bit of who i was supposed to be and who I am today mixed together works great for someone else- and again- that's wonderful! But that wasn't what was best for me- I'm perfectly OK with that. I wish it wasn't a disappointment or a let down to some of the people who care about me- 

but I'd rather be a disapointment to others... than a disapointment to myself. 

Because you see when I do what's best for me and take care of myself the results in my life are much more positive than when I focus on trying to be something I am not meant to be or solely on pleasing others- that is exhausting, depressing, and impossible to succeed at. By trying to make myself into something that wasn't working I was setting myself up to fail- and to keep failing. 

So I'm not the woman I was supposed to be- but I can tell you another thing I am not:

I am no longer a failure. 

And THAT is truly priceless!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The things people say

Between cell phones, facebook, my job and living around the general population I get the pleasure of observing, reading, and listening to all the interesting things people will say to each other. 

It's fascinating. 

From a rude text message to a shocking facebook status to a face to face conversation- I find myself intrigued with what people say and why they say it. 

For instance, yesterday I had an interaction with an older man in which he started telling me about a TV show and how "the blacks. . . sure are unruly people."

Then he went on to make the following statement:

"If Lincoln could see how things are today, he would never have freed those slaves."

At first I thought maybe it was some sort of crazy, NOT so funny joke. Then I realized he was DEAD SERIOUS. 

He went on to talk about how prisons contain 90% "black" individuals and some other (incorrect) statistics to prove his point. 

Unfortunately I was not in a position to freak out on this bigoted old man, as much as I wanted to. So I abruptly changed the subject and I think he got the point when my response to his horrific statements was "So, what are you doing today to enjoy the nice weather?"

He mumbled something about his plans for the day and thankfully that lasted until the encounter was over and he was on his way far away from me and my raging pregnancy hormones before I did or said something I would regret. 

I did find myself in quite a bit of shock at his statement- first off that he would say something so awful to a STRANGER in a public place and secondly- he seriously believes that SLAVERY should never have ended!!! What? how? People like this still exist?!!!!

Not only do they still exist, the same type of reasoning is used to defend many other beliefs that humanity should not be considered equal- for one reason or another. 

As crazy as we think that someone would think slavery is acceptable, we still find ourselves surrounded with reasons and excuses to exclude people from equality. 

But I have faith- if you are one of those people, 50 years from now you'll be telling a young person the same things you're saying today and it will be just as shocking and disgusting to 99% of humanity as this mans belief that "blacks should still be slaves". You'll be that bigoted old man- or woman- but the difference will be your cause will have lost support decades ago and no one will be listening anymore. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Not so much fun. . .

I have really tried not to bitch, whine, and complain too much about the ailments of pregnancy. I know they are temporary and WELL worth the outcome of a healthy baby and the resulting love and joy. I also am just incredibly grateful that I can conceive and carry a child to begin with- it's often something to be taken for granted.

Having a good attitude has definitely helped me with all of my ailments, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

And so I need to vent. Recently I've heard comments about how "Lucky" I am to sit around at home, taking my daughter to the pool, sitting in the sun, and not having to work full time. Honestly there's not much else I can do, here's why:

I realized the other day how much worse this pregnancy has been than my pregnancy with our daughter. Technically I FEEL better- mentally, spiritually- and that has made a huge difference. But physically? The pain I feel on a daily basis is much, much worse by comparison.

Once again I find myself anemic- I have low hemoglobin and low red blood cell count. This happens because the baby requires a lot of nourishment/support from my body which can leave my body depleted of certain resources. Basically this translates into fatigue- my blood cannot effectively get oxygen around my body and so my energy levels are extremely low. The cure? Iron supplements/food with high iron levels. And if only it were that easy.

Iron supplements cause nausea and extreme constipation. Iron rich food can be difficult to make into a meal, especially since it is useless if consumed with calcium. Apparently calcium makes it so your body doesn't absorb the iron- so it cannot be consumed within an hour of ingesting iron supplements/iron rich food. Trust me, it's not easy finding iron rich foods and preparing them with foods that contain little to no calcium, so mostly I'm stuck with the nasty supplements and their wonderful side-effects.

Extreme pelvic pain. . . in preparation for birth, the body releases hormones to help loosen and relax joints and bones so that the baby can more easily be delivered. It's really a good thing and since this is not my first pregnancy my body has already been "loosened up" quite a bit.

Unfortunately this translates into low back pain, hip pain, and general pelvic pain. This makes it difficult to walk, get dressed, stand up, sit down. . . basically it makes it difficult to move. Especially being on the more petite side, my small "loosened" pelvis cannot fully support my body the way it normally can. Add on some extra weight and concentrate that weight right above the front of my pelvis- you've got a recipe for some major pain.

The cure? Child birth. What I can do to help? the exercises my dr. provided and "staying off my feet". I've also been told this condition is much worse in subsequent pregnancies, which is why I did not experience this level of pain previously.

As much I wanted to believe that "sitting is worse than standing!" I can now testify to the fact that my pelvis literally SCREAMS at me when I stand for too long.

Yesterday I worked for a mere 6 hours and I WASN'T EVEN STANDING THE ENTIRE TIME. . . when I got home I could literally barely walk. To the point where my husband scolded me for working too hard and begged me not to continue pushing myself to work shifts beyond my comfort level.

This is frustrating for me as I enjoy my job and I enjoy working full time. I like to make as much money as I can and usually despise shifts of less than 8 hours. I happily stay late if it's busy and have no problem putting in a 9 or 10 hour day- those days are the most profitable for me as I usually make a lot of tip money and some overtime as well. It's not uncommon for me to have some overtime on almost every paycheck. I like this. I LIKE working hard. I LIKE being proud of myself for making as much money as I possibly can. This means I have the funds to do the things that I like and go places with my family.

But right now, I can't. And actually- it really sucks and isn't so "fun" and "lucky".

Pregnancy is different for every woman, not everyone suffers the same ailments or to the same degree. This does not mean one pregnant woman is more "wimpy" than another. For instance, I don't really have a huge problem with morning sickness- I feel very nauseated and have no appetite, but I am not constantly throwing up. It's not fun, but it's nothing I can't manage or endure.

Does this mean the women who are constantly throwing up and violently ill are just wimps? Or am I just tougher than they are- I can keep it down! I have a stomach of steel! What's THEIR problem?

No. Our bodies handle the hormones and physical changes of pregnancy differently. Some of us suffer more in various areas than others and to greater degrees. It's highly individual and it would do everyone a lot of good to realize this and perhaps mull it over in their brains a few times before opening their mouths.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

"Different strokes for different folks"

I really enjoyed this NY Times article entitled "when God is your therapist"

Don't worry, I'm not slamming religion or prayer or anything like that. I just really liked how the author explained WHY and HOW religion works. . . for some people.

Personally, I've found myself in a place where leaving religion is what I need here and now. I'm open to changing my mind on the subject, but for now life is MUCH BETTER without it.

Many of you have seen my posts from recovering grace and probably think I gave up on religion because of the twisted teachings of Bill Gothard and having spent so much time in his awful program and in a independent fundamentalist baptist church that upheld very similar teachings. Maybe you're right, maybe this "ruined" my ability to effectively practice religion. . .

But again I want to fall back on something I truly believe: PEOPLE ARE NOT THE SAME.

As a result of NOT BEING THE SAME. . . the SAME THINGS are likely not to work for ALL OF US. I feel like it's not such a hard concept to comprehend, yet it seems a lot of humanity wants to force everyone into being (insert whatever religious/nonreligious mold you belong to).

But Sarah, where do you draw the line? What about morality? By your logic shouldn't we accept murderers and child molesters and all sorts of evil? After all "they just aren't the same, they're doing what works for them." ?

This is why I categorize myself (partly) as a humanist. Here's a definition that I like: "any system or mode of thought or action in which human interests, values, and dignity are taken to be of primary importance, as in moral judgments."

Harm to humanity is where I draw the line. Now of course we're all going to disagree on what actual "harm" is, whether or not that is harmful, so on and so forth. Well that's OK- I'm going to stick with my definitions and you can stick with yours (so long as they aren't harmful. . . ) ;)

I think physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual harm should be avoided at all costs. I think what consists of "harmful" is going to change the more we study ourselves and understand ourselves. I think this is why science is of vital importance and why we SHOULD be curious about how our mind and body function- the greater we understand these things the better we will be able to flourish.

Lets leave that subject alone for a while and move on to this article. . . Here's a few clips that I really liked (the full article can be read here.) Please note this is regarding Evangelical Christianity NOT fundamentalism/similar facets of Christianity. 

"I soon came to realize that one of the most important features of these churches is that they offer a powerful way to deal with anxiety and distress, not because of what people believe but because of what they do when they pray."

I think this is very true- religion can offer a way to deal with anxiety, stress, tragedy and it works really well for some people. Here's why:

"One way to see this is that the books teaching someone how to pray read a lot like cognitive behavior therapy manuals. For instance, the Rev. Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life,” one of the best-selling books of all time, teaches you to identify your self-critical, self-demeaning thoughts, to interrupt them and recognize them as mistaken, and to replace them with different thoughts. Cognitive-behavioral therapists often ask their patients to write down the critical, debilitating thoughts that make their lives so difficult, and to practice using different ones. That is more or less what Warren invites readers to do. He spells out thoughts he thinks his readers have but don’t want, and then asks them to consider themselves from God’s point of view: not as the inadequate people they feel themselves to be, but as loved, as relevant and as having purpose.Does it work? In my own research, the more people affirmed, “I feel God’s love for me, directly,” the less stressed and lonely they were and the fewer psychiatric symptoms they reported."
There's a reason WHY religion works for some people and I believe that reason can be explained scientifically. However notice that religion is not the only way to achieve these results in your life. 
"This approach to the age-old problem of theodicy is not really available to mainstream Protestants and Catholics, who do not imagine a God so intimate, so loving, so much like a person. That may help to explain why it is evangelical Christianity that has grown so much in the last 40 years.It can seem puzzling that evangelical Christians sidestep the apparent contradiction of why bad things happen to good people. But for them, God is a relationship, not an explanation."
I agree. Some forms of Christianity work better than others- most likely because they employ things that we need as humans to be psychologically and spiritually healthy. But again, it is my feeling that religion is simply not a requirement to achieve the same results.

I know this article is geared more towards prayer and it's benefits, but I feel like it kind of applies to the entire concept. Religion works for some people- again- THERE'S A REASON WHY. And again I repeat I believe these same benefits can be found outside religion. 

I believe one of the great things about humanity is our diversity- I think this should be celebrated, not condemned. We all need to find what works for us and what we need to fulfill our lives and I believe the answer will be different for each of us. What a relief it is for me to be in a place where I can truly just love and accept people for who they are- I don't need to "witness" to them. I don't need to "convince" them of anything. I don't need to be terribly afraid that they will end up in hell because I didn't do a good enough job witnessing and convincing them to change their beliefs to mine. . . it brings me a level of love and peace I was never able to feel before, I really cannot describe it. 

So that's the tip of the iceberg into my life of peace, love, and sunshine.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Here's a few thoughts I have on pregnancy at the moment (being nearly 10 weeks from my due date:)

Funny questions/statements people make:

Why do people ask the question "Is this your first?" is it because they think you look young therefore this MUST be your first? What does it really matter if you answer "yes" or "no" ? I guess if you answer "yes!" you invite all the horror stories and unwanted advice people feel compelled to give first time moms? That being said, does anyone ever get asked "So is this your 2nd? 3rd? 4th? 10th?" ?

Everyone has a completely DIFFERENT perception of just how "large" you are. On the same day, wearing the same clothes, I have had comments from "You must be ready to pop!" "Are you sure there isn't two in there???!!!" to "You're SOOOOOO tiny!" "Where is that baby bump, I can barely see it!" . . . it seriously cracks me up that people can literally see the EXACT SAME THING in a completely opposite manner!

"So you had a c-section with your first, right?" Ok, first of all I kind of feel like it's not anyone's business how my child exited my body, but people seem to like to talk about it and so I go along with it. Now why everyone assumes I had a c-section I'm not sure? Do I look too "wimpy" or petite to have had a vaginal delivery? Do people know that having a c-section is NOT "wimpy" and that there are MANY reasons and usually having a big baby or being a small woman are NOT the top reasons? Just because I'm petite doesn't mean I automatically get a c-section. I WILL have one if the Dr. deems it medically necessary,  because before c-sections plenty of women and babies died in labor and I'm not a fan of dying. . . so. . . again not sure why anyone even asks this question?

Well I tell people that we're expecting a boy the response is usually "You are SO lucky!" or "Now you guys can be DONE!!!" or "I bet your husband is so happy!" or "Just you wait boys are HORRIBLE!" or "You're going to circumcise him, right?"

Where to even start. . . first of all I'm not sure why everyone is obsessed with having 1 boy and 1 girl or thinks that you should be "done" after you've "gotten" at least one of each gender? If I had all girls, I would be thrilled. If I had all boys, I would be thrilled. I can't imagine "trying" for a certain gender knowing it's completely random and that if I'm specifically WANTING a certain gender that will mean CERTAIN disappointment when I don't get what I want? Why is gender such a big deal anyway? My children are PEOPLE, I don't really care what chromosomes/genitalia they were randomly assigned during conception.

Also if I'm "lucky" to have "one of each" doesn't this mean I would be UNlucky if I had two of the same gender?

Personally I had reasons I was excited to be having a boy but I also had reasons to be excited if baby was going to be a girl- different reasons- but I was equally excited either way.

Next, is my husband expected to be MORE excited that we're having a child the same gender as him than he would be if we had another of MY gender?

Of course many feel differently than I do in regards to gender, but it just seems weird to me that everyone assumes that EVERYONE is the same? Why would we all want the exact same thing? What's "perfect" for me might not be so "perfect" for others?

Oh and don't even get me started on circumcision. It's my sons penis. I don't have a penis. My husband does and he's going to decide what's best for our sons penis and our decision regarding whether or not we're letting him keep his foreskin of thousands of nerve endings or chopping it off is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!!!! Not everyone wants to circumcise their sons penis and no one certainly wants to hear about how yours got infected as an adult and you had to be circumcised later in life. I. Do. Not. Want. To. Hear. About. It. !!!!!!!!!! I don't care about your penis, your sons penis, or anyone else's penis. Not sure why YOU care about MY sons penis? (Did I use the word penis enough?)

Next: is it a shameful thing to wear clothing that flatters your bump instead of hiding it?

Seeing how depressed I got when I was pregnant with Mercedes, I determined to do everything I could to keep my spirits up this pregnancy. So I've been trying to take care of myself and put a lot of effort into my appearance so that I can feel cute instead of like a huge whale (and I do still feel like a huge whale despite my efforts, so at least I try!)

Yet people make comments that insinuate that pregnancy should be hidden and certainly NOT shown off!

My opinion:

How do you think we all got here? SOMEONE was pregnant with you- me- all of us at SOME point. A woman carried you in her body for 9 months and dealt with all the repercussions of that- why on earth should be shame this? Why on earth should we make women feel like it's something they should HIDE? Why on earth should we make them feel even WORSE about their changing bodies?

We should be amazed and proud of the fact that a woman's body is capable of such a feat, it should be celebrated and a woman should dress in whatever makes her feel good and cute about herself- even if YOU disagree! :-P

Last but not least. . . I don't understand expecting your offspring to be GRATEFUL to you for having them. YES pregnancy is hard, YES is requires a lot of sacrifices, but my kids didn't ask me to have them! And expecting some sort of gratitude from them because "I gave birth to you!" just seems silly to me! Chances are, someday they will know what I went through when they have their own children. Either way, Adam and I chose to have children because we wanted them- not because we had to, not because they asked us to have them. Mercedes is SUCH a joy to us, I am the one who is grateful to have HER and I can't wait to have another child and I can only imagine how much joy he will bring us and how much my gratitude will increase!

So there's my random pregnancy post for the day. :)