Sunday, January 5, 2014

Dear Katie (3)

Dear Katie,

I hope my third letter finds you well. When I last left you I was telling you about how we first met and then how we first got to know each other. I was explaining how I always had a group of close friends in my life, and how at that moment I didn't really have any. Your timing was perfect.

We decided to get together outside of work. My place had a pool so we agreed to meet there for a swim. You didn't drive so I had to come pick you up. Before we got together that day I scoured the Internet to prepare for this visit, reading both good and bad about Jehovah's witnesses. At the time I wasn't interested in reading peoples opinions I just wanted to read the truth about you. I found the official website for your people and started there. I can't remember what exactly I read about at the time. I just remember thinking how interesting it all was.

We swam for a bit, but mostly just floated around and talked. I didn't want to scare you, so I made sure my questions were easy for you. I asked you things about your bible, and how/why you have your own. I asked you things like what 1914 meant. You told me I wasn't quite ready to hear about that yet. The main thing that interested me though was your take on holidays, and how you don't celebrate them at all.

In high school some friends and I got into a debate about Halloween. Some of my friends argued that because of it's pagan roots it shouldn't be celebrated by Christians even though it had evolved into fun family traditions. An opportunity came up in my English class to do a research paper, and I chose this topic. My teacher told me just researching the history of Halloween probably wouldn't give me the 3000 words she was looking for and suggested I research all the christian holidays. It was the most interesting and memorable paper I'd ever written, and it changed the way I viewed everything.

I found out that the origins of every single holiday had pagan roots. These things that we do as traditions in our churches really have little to nothing at all to do with Christ and yet we hold these days so sacred. As a matter of fact most holidays origins can be dated back to before Christ even existed. I don't even need to get into it. I've written two blogs about it already. One Blog. Two Blog. Red Blog. Blue Blog.  I'm sure I'll write more and more. This is a topic that NEVER gets old to me,and so it is easy to understand my ears perk up to a proclaiming Christian faith that didn't even think to celebrate Christian holidays.

For so long I'd struggled with what to do about it. If it wasn't really in the Bible, then why were we doing it? I figured for me it didn't matter. I  struggled with weather or not God was even real for much of my young adult life thus far, so this certainly didn't matter. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Dear Katie (2)

Dear Katie,

I hope this second letter finds you well.

I left my last letter reminding you of when we first met and where my head and heart were spiritually. I thought you were pretty amazing for many reasons. For starters I'd never met anyone who had such similar taste in music. Typically I always have songs in common with people, but you and I actually enjoyed the same bands and the same sounds in general. That still is really cool to me.

I remember one slow night at Starbucks when we both closed together and we sat there on the floor talking about anything and everything and music was one of those things we talked about. It felt like we had so much in common.

While I was in Louisiana I was best friends with this guy named Scott. It was his brother that died. It was pretty hard on their whole family all though no one ever talked about it. I of course never talked about it either. I lived with them for a bit, while going to school. I hung out at the BCM which was a place for Christians to hang out at the college. I hung out there because I still longed to feel something in this new void that had been created. I hoped being there would either fill the void or at least help me feel something! While there I met an amazing group of girls, Jeuri, Sam, and Tabby. When my time with Scott's family was up I moved in with those girls. I couldn't have asked for better room mates.

Sam worked a church there. One of the girls at that church was leading a study on a book called "The Case for Christ". It seemed fitting for me, so I decided to buy the book and give the study a try. It actually made me want to start investigating real truth a little bit deeper since Strobel was so incredibly biased. He claimed this was a book to give evidence to atheists, but then only interviews evangelical Christians. The beginning of the book really did nothing but make me doubt more. After that I stopped reading and just read a few foot notes and said I finished. I ended up not finishing that bible study. 
My roommates at the time really didn't know how much I was struggling with my faith. I sometimes dropped hints about wanting to talk to someone, but we were all very young. They were very young so even if they caught on to the hints to may have not know what to say or quite possibly could have been struggling themselves. It was too hard for me to just go out and say it. These were girls that were brought up in church because they had to be. Regardless they were amazing friends to me. I've always had an amazing close group of friends in my life.
That's why that day at Starbucks when we talked. It felt so good to have such a great friend again. I hadn't had a chance to really sit and talk like that with someone in so long. Not since I lived in that tiny apartment in Louisiana. I'm still very close with those girls, but I still can't find the courage to talk about faith with them. Although I want to...
When I brought it up with you, Katie, you were so fast to talk about it with me though! You were so intrigued when I said "I'm just looking for the truth". I saw your eyes simply light up! You said we should hang out outside of work sometime, and that was exciting for me! Finally I'd have a friend again that wasn't married to me or still wearing diapers.

Dear Katie - Part 3

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Dear Katie (1)

Dear Katie,

I hope this letter finds you well. You said that to me once in a fairly important email. I'd never heard or read anyone use that before and so I started saying it to in all my letters/emails to you.

I remember the first time I ever saw you and I decided right away that I did not like you. It wasn't until the first day that I began training you as a Batista that I realized you weren't so bad after all.

That was a very rough time for me emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

You see I grew up going to church as many people have, but my story is a little different. No one made me go. My parents stopped going to church regularly when I was six. After that going to church was 100% my decision. My aunt brought me until I could drive myself, but no one made me go. I was taught all about the bible very young and I continued to study it in depth very young.

When I was 19 I moved to Louisiana. I befriended a family that became like family to me. Then someone like family to me died much too early. The way I was taught, when you die you either go to heaven or you go to hell. He died before I could really get to know him. As far as I was concerned I didn't know where he ended up. It was really hard for me to grasp. I'd known people to die before, but this time it was different.

Up until that point, going to church, bible studies, and christian music were all things that made me feel really good and happy. Then slowly all these things began to make me feel... nothing... nothing at all... and that was confusing. It felt like my once soft warm heart was slowly freezing and hardening up to the christian ideas I'd always sought.

By the time you met me at Starbucks I'd already tried several times to spin my head about everything I'd been taught about the Bible. One thing in particular was how my Bible said "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life", but I was taught that what my Bible really said was "For the wages of sin is death in a torchered hell for all eternity, but the gift of God is eternal life in heaven." Because of this my mind began to shut down and separate from most christian preachers and teachers. How could I just believe other interpretations of what the Bible says? I wanted to figure out my own interpretation.. On my own!

I loved talking about this kind of stuff. I loved getting other peoples opinions and ideas. Most people I talked to who had been taught the Bible were taught to read it the same way I had. You were different. When I talked to you about it you told me that you didn't believe that when we died we went to either heaven or hell. It was a concept that I'd never heard before and made more sense than anything I'd been taught thus far.

When you first told me you were a Jehovah's Witness it scared me. I'd been taught my whole life to be careful around people like you. However, in light of everything I wanted to talk. For the first time in a long time my mind was finally opened back up again. I was very open to everything you had to say to me about your beliefs.

Dear Katie - Part 2

Writting Katie

It's been way too long since I've been able to write a blog. So much for my one blog a week goal! I've realized that working full time and trying to be a full and a half time mom and wife means a goal of writing a blog every week is nearly impossible.

In honor of the new year I've decided to change up my blog for a while. I actually do this every year, it's just usually subtle and hardly noticeable.

There is something I've been wanting to write about for some time, but just wasn't sure how. You see if you talk with any of my conservative friends about where I stand they'd tell you I'm quite liberal. I've been told by someone once that I was the most liberal person they knew. On the other hand if you ask any of my more liberal friends I'm told I'm extremely traditional and conservative.

So were do I fall?

About 5 year ago I met this girl named Katie. She became a very good friend to me, but our religious views have always kept us separated. Since many people have asked me questions regarding my spirituallity, and the answer isn't so simple, I've decided to write some letters to her explaining everything. Whilte the blog will remain public (They should answer all questions about where I stand on things and why) the over all letters are for Kaite, because she's the main person that I want to understand.

Dear Katie - Part 1

Monday, November 11, 2013

Best Friends Forever?

Throughout the years I've written many blogs and articles about friendships. It's something that I've learned a lot about over the years. Recently I read an article that the average friendship last for about seven years. 

While we think people are our friends because of the things we have in common the truth is most friends exist because of convenience and opportunity. We are friends because we go to the same school or church, work at the same job, or live in the same neighborhood. When you take away whatever it was that brought us together the friendship tends to fade and be replaced with new friends. 

Today, things like facebook help us know what's up with all of our friends, but it doesn't help us stay close. My family will always be my family. My husband and I are legally bound together. Friends, however, having nothing holding them to me. The truth is making a close friendship last is the hardest relationship to keep alive. 

After reading this article it made me look back at all my friends. Some of the greatest friends anyone could ever ask for I made at Camp Victory. I still talk to a couple of them somewhat regularly, but for the most part we've all gone different directions in our lives, and over the years have drifted apart. We all knew we didn't have much in common other than camp. It was pretty amazing how close we became.

In college I like to think I did a lot of real growing up with some amazing people. I can honestly say I had next to nothing in common with these people, and yet the memories we made together will last for the rest of my life. We still try and visit each other. Even if those visits are very few and far between they are still something I do and always will look the most forward to.

Then there are those that defy all odds. Those that no matter what happens in life, no matter how many years pass or how many miles come between us. We really will be best friends forever.

This blog was so much fun for me to research as I scoured facebook for long lost old photos of me and my friends. It brought back some great and fun memories, but it also showed me that I don't have enough pictures of these people and these memories... Lesson learned... Take more pictures! There will be a time in life when pictures are all you have.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Who really took your food stamps

 I once met someone who asked their employer to pay them under the table so that her family could still qualify for food stamps. Since then I've actually heard of others who have done the same or similar things in order to qualify for food stamps. I asked someone "Why is it you need to get paid cash again?" She said "So I can make sure I still qualify for food stamps!" The truth of the matter on that is if you don't qualify then obviously you don't qualify and are stealing from those who do! Shame on you, from taking from poorer people in order to benefit yourself! At one point in time we needed it and we received it. A few years later we thought we needed it again, but the government didn't agree, so I learned to budget and use coupons and it turns out the government was right! We didn't need it!

47.6 million (15% of the population) people get food stamps. In 2007 it was only 26.3 million (8.7%).

Why is this number growing? Well you can blame the economy and that certainly is a big part of it, but other part of it are the people that aren't trying to get off of them. My husband used to have an employee who complained if he was scheduled more than 15-20 hours. Hours were there (40+ some weeks with overtime pay) and they paid him well, but the man said "If I work more than part time then I'll lose part of my food stamps, I'll have to pay more in my subsidized rent or have to pay for my child care and I can't afford that". Did no one teach this nut that if he worked double the hours then he'd have MORE money meaning he CAN afford to take care of himself??

A really good friend of mine has three children and works harder than anyone else I know to provide from them. She's needed her fair share of help from the government and has taken it, but unlike the last guy I mentioned her goal in life is to provide for them the best life she can by earning it. I asked her once "What do you want to be when you grow up?" her answer was "I don't care what I do I just want to make sure I work hard so my kids can live comfortably"

If more people had that mindset I bet you'd see less people qualifying for food stamps.

With the most recent cut to the food stamp program the average family of four rieciving food stamps will be losing about $30 a month. That sounds like a lot to some I'm sure. Esspecially to a girl I use to work with who used her food stamps each day to buy a $10 sub from the deli at the grocery store. I pointed out to her that for the same cost as her lunch I could feed my entire family of 4 for an entire day. She told me "yes, but I have enough to do this every day, so it's ok!".

 I once had a budget that gave me around $2.50 a day per person in my family. According to our government that was enough for us and we did not qualify for any kind of help. I made that work so well that now we still eat that way and are great at saving my money.

My dad created a budget for himself where he lived on $1 a day. It wasn't always the easiest, but he proved that it can be done.

Imagine if more people had that mindset and paid closer attention to how much they spent to live each day, I bet you'd see less people qualifying for food stamps.

I'm not saying there aren't people that need food stamps. Like I said I use to get help myself, and it's ok to get help when you need it. The thing is.. When are these 47.6 million people going to stop needing it? Does our government have a plan to teach those who are capable, to budget, to cook, or to find better paying jobs?

I bet if they did we'd see less people qualifying for food stamps.

Friday, October 18, 2013

When Bad Things Happen

It's been almost two weeks since my last blog and I know that I made a goal of writing a new blog every week, but recently something happened that kind of put my blogging on hold for a minute as I put my thoughts together.

Recently a friend of mine learned some really hard news. Unexplainable bad events took place in her life for no apparent reason at all. My friend is a good person and it seems like she can't really catch a break, and it's not fiar!

When I was little, every year after halloween was over we had to hide our candy so my older brother would steal all the good ones, but it never failed. Every year he'd find it and take everything good and eat it all before we knew what hit us. If I told on him my mom would simply say something like "Sorry you should have hid it better" I would say "That's not fair!" My mom would then say "Life's not fair."

A couple years ago my Aunt Patsy found out she had cancer. She shared the news with our family and began writing a blog about her journey. I'm glad she did because it was really the only way I could keep up with her progress. My Aunt lives hundreds of miles away from me and always has. It made me sad to think that my aunt was going through such a rough journey and here I was almost 30 years old and I hardly knew her. Here I have two children and she hardly knows them.

It's things like this that can make a person really question what kind of a God we have if there is one at all to allow things such as this to happen in this world. When hurricans destory cities, or people die for seemingly no reason. Big or small bad things seem to happen to all of us and it's just not fair! It's a lesson in life we all have to learn one day.

Bad things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people too. Bad things happen and it just simply sucks. I don't believe that when a child dies it's because God needed another Angel in heaven, or when someone gets cancer God allowed it to teach them a lesson. I don't think he uses nature to destroy bad cities. I think bad things happen because life's not fair and it sucks sometimes, and dwelling on how or why things happen isn't the issue. Instead you take what happened and decide "Now what?" Instead you take the bad situation and try and make good things happen from it.

I know that when my aunt found out she had cancer I decided I needed to visit my family more. I use to only visit my family in Orlando when my parents did, but now I try to go once a year. Sometimes it's short notice and I don't get to see as much of my family as I like, but I still go. My family between my mom and my dad is HUGE and probably the most loving family in this entire world and I want my kids to know all of them!

I know serveral of my friends right now are going through some really rough stuff, and I want you all to know that I'm sorry and it really sucks. I have no more words of wisdom other than that, but regardless I'm here to be a listening ear to anyone who needs one.