Not Pro-Choice, Nor Pro-Life

There’s way too much rhetoric out there about this topic already, and I think most people who’ve formed their opinions on it are set and not willing to consider the public facts, stories, etc., available to them (though I hope that’s not the case). But education is our best weapon when it comes to making informed decisions on what we do or do not support.

I’m not pro-choice. But I’m not pro-life either. I’m not either of these because I feel like they boil down an issue to the bare minimum and position both sides as positive, when neither side is really positive if you think about it with a wide-angle view.

I’m not pro-choice because I don’t think abortion is a choice someone makes because they want to make it. No one is excited to have an abortion. It’s not Plan A when it comes to birth control tactics. It’s not a spa treatment or other luxury in which we partake on a relaxing weekend.

I’m not pro-life because that implies I support enacting legislation dictating someone’s personal health decisions based on my personal faith. I don’t believe I have a say in whether a woman or a couple makes the decision to terminate a pregnancy because they’re in financial strife, they’re homeless, they’re teenagers, they’re struggling with their physical or mental health, etc. I also believe that if one truly wants to call him/herself “pro-life,” they need to be actively supporting legislation and services that aid single mothers, young mothers, young families, homeless mothers/fathers, foster care systems, and child-care systems.

Both the pro-choice and pro-life terms are hypocritical. Both terms imply we are using abortion as our only form of birth control and it’s a choice we make like what we’re going to have for breakfast.

I am, however, pro-Planned Parenthood and pro-health clinic. I’m pro-Planned Parenthood because just 3 percent of the services they provide are abortions and the rest (97%) of what they do is provide healthcare for women and men who need it and can’t afford or don’t have insurance to visit a traditional doctor’s office.

Reproductive rights encompass so much more than having the choice to have an abortion. Reproductive health includes breast exams and referrals to screening facilities when necessary, vasectomies, pap smears, STD screenings and treatment or prevention, birth control, prostate, colon and testicular cancer screenings, and male infertility screenings. All of these are services Planned Parenthood provides. They also refer patients to adoption service providers and counselors.

So when you vote to de-fund Planned Parenthood, you’re voting to de-fund an organization that does so much more than provide abortions. When you protest the right to choose, you’re protesting against a man or woman walking into a Planned Parenthood to get checked for reproductive cancer or infertility because, remember, 97% of what Planned Parenthood provides are services other than abortions. You’re protesting someone being proactive in securing their reproductive health. You’re lumping an entire organization and the people it helps into a protest against 3 percent.

Maybe there are other things you might want to consider getting up-in-arms about instead of a 3 percent. Did you know child trafficking and human trafficking (selling humans for the purpose of exploitation) are real issues globally and in the United States?

This post is not meant to instigate a pro-or-anti abortion argument. This post is meant to encourage education and dispel myths while helping readers understand what Planned Parenthood and reproductive health clinics actually do. I would not personally get an abortion because I do not believe it aligns with my faith. I believe life is a precious gift and that God personally creates each of us. However, I do not think creating legislation based on faith aligns with my faith, either.

The Post-Truth Era

Like it or not, we’re in the post-truth era. Fake news is rampant and we need to do our due diligence to ensure what we’re seeing and hearing is factual so we can make informed decisions. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to discern truth and fact even with due diligence. Did you know that video about Planned Parenthood selling fetus parts has been proven inaccurate because fetuses can be donated (with patient consent) to researchers and the recipients (the researchers) can choose to reimburse the expense to the healthcare facility for preservation, transportation, etc.? There have also been state-specific investigations that have proven Planned Parenthood is complicit with the laws against selling fetus parts.

Did you know partial-birth abortion is a political, not medical, term? And that dilation and extraction, to which partial-birth abortion refers, is a rare procedure conducted when the fetus has a fatal defect and will not survive or the mother is at risk herself?

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The Case for Claus

Christmas is over. We’ve bought, wrapped, eaten, sung, eaten, unwrapped, eaten. We’ve taken part in our respective holiday traditions, which, for a lot of us, includes a visit from Santa Claus.

me-as-santa
That’s me. Doing my best bowl-full-of-jelly Santa impression.

I know there are people who choose not to partake in the Santa Claus tradition. And that’s fine. But the people who grind my gears are those who ruin it for the Santa believers. Many who choose to not include in Santa in their Christmas traditions claim he isn’t biblical. Yes, Santa in our modern-day society has come to represent commercialism, but his origin is about generosity and Jesus. And while Santa isn’t actually mentioned explicitly in the Bible, all the things he stood for are there.

St. Nicholas, the fourth century bishop of Myra (modern-day Turkey) on whom the Santa Claus we know today is based, showed his devotion to God through kindness and generosity to those in need. Yep, you read that right: fourth century. That’s like, a long-ass time ago.

St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, modeled true giving and faithfulness and is known as a lover of the poor and patron saint of children. He was devoted to Jesus and he did a lot of Jesus-y things. When Myra experienced a famine in AD 311, 312 and 333, Bishop Nicholas convinced sailors carrying wheat cargo to give a measure of grain from each ship so the people could eat. The sailors gave the wheat, and then continued to Alexandria where the full amount of wheat was accounted for.

In AD 325 he confronted and slapped a man teaching that the Son Jesus was not equal to Father God. Nicholas was stripped of his office and placed in prison, where he encountered Jesus bringing him the book of the Gospels and Mary bringing him his stole. This miracle had him reinstated. When three soldiers on leave in a port that served Myra were arrested and sentenced to death during a mob situation, Bishop Nicholas grabbed the sword from the executioner’s hands and had the innocent soldiers cleared of their charges. He successfully implored Constantine to have the high taxes of Myra greatly reduced. After Constantine declared tolerance for Christianity, Nicholas destroyed idol shrines, drove away demons and built churches in Myra.

That back-in-the-day “Santa” was a pretty cool dude. And while our Santa tradition has evolved to be more kid-friendly, he still represents generosity and good will.

In the end, each parent has to decide whether they want to have the Santa tradition. But maybe your Santa tradition can be more about teaching devotion to Jesus, generosity and love instead of greed and commercialism.

Who are the People in Your Neighborhood?

I’ve been ruminating on this topic for a few months now, and I just haven’t been able to adequately put my thoughts to paper. You know when you have something so good in your head and then you write it out and delete it because it sounds so dumb? That’s why I don’t have a journal. #overlyselfcriticalwriterproblems

I’ve also been hesitant to publicly provide rhetoric on the current state of the world because, well, it sucks. Like many, I become justifiably outraged by current events. But unlike many, I try to avoid debating topics of which I might not have all the information, which means I typically stay quiet on social media or during conversations…especially when I see people posting inaccurate facts or being hostile to one another. But hiding our heads in the sand isn’t going to make any kind of positive impact. I’ve attempted to cobble together my thoughts and emotions in one hopefully cohesive post that might help others struggling like me.

Yes, the world sucks. But honestly? It’s always sucked. Its suckiness is just in our faces more now because we have the information, pictures, videos, opinions, etc. at our fingertips and in our faces in an instant. But is it because humans suck? We’re definitely not perfect, and a lot of times we suck because we’re acting in our own best interests first. But God made each of us in His image. And God doesn’t suck, so if we’re in His image, deep down we don’t really suck either. Yes, there are some really sucky people out there doing some really sucky things. But most of us, regardless of theology or ideology, are pretty decent and want the best for everyone.

When I think about this, I remember Jesus’ parable about the Samaritan helping the robbed, beaten, and left-for-dead man on the side of the road.

People are fearful. And justifiably so. I’m fearful as a woman who could lose her reproductive rights. I’m fearful of the normalization of sexual harassment. I’m fearful for my black, Hispanic, Asian, gay, transgender, non-Christian friends. I’m fearful for our economy and our country’s relationships with other nations.

There are productive and unproductive ways to react to fear. Those who are lashing out at others, spewing hate online, and trying to impose sanctions that limit another’s rights are reacting to their fears of the “other” unproductively. Let’s counteract fear with faith, education and understanding. Who would have blamed that Samaritan if he’d reacted out of fear and left the man to bleed out and die on the side of the road, after the way Samaritans were often treated? But he responded counter-intuitively in faith, not fear.

It’s easy to fear the unknown or other by pointing fingers or imposing our beliefs through legislation, rules, muscle or intimidation. It’s much more difficult to have an open heart to someone different than ourselves. I’m not saying we need to invite every stranger from the street into our homes. But I am saying we need to rethink our definition of “neighbor,” and re-calibrate our brains and hearts to associate “other” as “neighbor.”

“Neighbor” isn’t limited to someone who lives near me, looks like me, talks like me and believes what I believe. “Neighbor” means those who live near and far, those who look like me and those who look different, those who talk like me and those who speak another language, and those who believe what I believe and those who don’t. “Neighbor” might mean someone in need; or someone living in a different town, state, or country; or someone with a different religion; or someone with a different skin color; or someone with a different sexual preference; or someone with a different gender.

When the lawyer asked Jesus, “and who is my neighbor?” Jesus responded with the parable of the Good Samaritan and then asked which of the three men acted as a good neighbor to the beaten man, the lawyer said “He who showed him mercy,” and Jesus responded with “Go and do likewise.”

To Jesus, “neighbor” was an all-encompassing word for person. What if we extended the meaning of “neighborhood” to world? What if we showed mercy to all our neighbors? What if we began considering every person a neighbor instead of a stranger?

Ready, Aim, Point

Not guns. Though I may someday get up on my soapbox about that. I’m talking about fingers.

Why are humans so quick to point blame at other humans? A child fell into a zoo enclosure and zoo authorities did what was necessary to save the child. A child at a beach lagoon at a theme park hotel got close to water and got snatched by an alligator. These are both so, so unfortunate. And sad. A bunch of people are trying to figure out who needs to take responsibility for these incidents. A bunch of people on the internet are taking it upon ourselves to judge parents for things that could happen to any of us.

I know I got lost in stores when I was a child. I know I did things I shouldn’t have been doing. I probably leaned too far over into a zoo enclosure. I probably got too close to water I shouldn’t have been near. But my parents weren’t negligent. I don’t have kids, but from my experience with them, it only takes one second for an accident to happen. One second. A blink of an eye.

It’s easy to point the blame and feel superior when tragedies like these happen. “I would NEVER let my child near the water at that lagoon.” But really, would you have really sensed danger? Alligators can be nearly impossible to see underwater until they strike. “I would NEVER have taken my eyes off my child at the zoo.” Really? You’re going to claim that your eyes are glued to your child every second of every day? I’m interested to know how you sleep at night. Literally, how do you close your eyes and sleep if you don’t take your eyes off your child?

Kids are unpredictable little people who rarely listen the first time they’re told something. My nephew continued to put his fingers in electrical sockets despite us telling him not to until he eventually got a little shock, and that was the end of those experiments.

Our natural inclination is to find the source of the misfortune so we can apply judgment and then move on with our lives, comforted by the fact that the “negligent, bad people” have been punished.

Meanwhile, we’ve got adults doing intentional harm to others around the world. A man walked into a night club with a gun and shot a bunch of people. A politician in Britain has been shot and killed. A young man has been convicted of sexually assaulting a young, unconscious woman behind a dumpster. The sex trafficking trade is booming. People in Syria are fleeing for their lives. A maniacal man with bad hair is working hard to alienate all groups of people in his quest for the Oval Office. And this is only a small portion of all the crap happening in the world.

What if, instead of shaming for tragic accidents, we focused on the actual terror happening in the world? Let’s get fired up about stuff we can change. And let’s rally around the grieving parents who have lost their children to accidents. Let’s rally around the victims. And then let’s work to stop the intentional abuse happening all around us.

Maybe we focus on being less like the Pharisees and more like Jesus. Are we in this together or are we just waiting for the next opportunity to throw a peer under the metaphorical bus (or cast the first stone)?

The Loving God Part

In the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke, Jesus instructs us of the greatest commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. It’s not by accident this shows up so many times in The Bible.

Here’s why Jesus paired these commandments: you can’t fully do the second one if you aren’t doing the first one. Having a close, personal relationship with God is what keeps us growing mentally, spiritually and emotionally.

I know a lot of people who will disagree with my statement above. It’s true, you don’t need to have a close, personal relationship with God to give good advice, help out those in need, donate to a worthy cause. But lacking the relationship makes those just good deeds and not LOVE. As Mother Teresa said “It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.” You can’t pay your way into Heaven with good works.

  • James 2:24- “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”
  • James 2:26- “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”
  • Hebrews 10:24-25- “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more you see the Day drawing near.” [emphasis mine]

If you’re not working on your own spiritual, mental and emotional health (which is a constant pursuit, btdubs), you become emotionally unavailable and stunted. And you can’t invest in people in the way God wants, not to mention develop close, personal relationships with those you love, if you’re emotionally unavailable and stunted.

It is a two-way street. To be adequately equipped to invest in the growth of others, you need to have people investing in your growth. Which is hard, because it requires vulnerability, the acknowledgement of imperfection and the recognition of need. It’s messy and dirty and sometimes (a lot of times) super un-fun. But it’s worth it because this is how fruit is harvested; this is how we grow.

Let’s look at a practical example. Jesus did a ton of good works throughout his three-year ministry. But the works aren’t what define Him. The works are what He did as a result of his spiritual growth, and He used them as a way to teach people how to grow spiritually and how to treat each other. He surrounded himself with 12 dudes in whom he invested (through close personal relationship); and they, in turn, invested in him.

The Bible doesn’t talk too much about their downtime, but even if a majority of their time together was spent teaching and performing miracles, Jesus and his squad had some time to go deep and process the tough stuff. That’s how Jesus grew those disciples up to continue His mission after He left. Jesus gave us the model for how we should be getting down and dirty with each other to grow spiritually and learn how to really love one another (aka: discipleship).

Even Jesus, God incarnate, recognized his own vulnerability and need. I’m not saying we all need to spend 40 days fasting in the wilderness, but this is a good example of the time and effort Jesus put into developing a relationship with his Father. He faithfully answered the call of the Holy Spirit to spend 40 days communing with His Father.

But how do we do this? How do we ensure we’re not avoiding our own emotional/spiritual growth by busying ourselves with acts of service? How do we switch from simply serving others to loving others? How do we develop a close, personal relationship with God?

  1. Pray. Developing a consistent prayer life is probably the most difficult of the three basic steps. It’s hard to have the discipline to pray when life is happening (and there’s Netflix to binge). It’s hard to set aside time each day to dedicate to the Lord. To tell Him your desires, to ask for forgiveness, to intercede for our broken world, just to talk and listen. It will always be hard, but it gets easier the more you do it. And it doesn’t need to be this big flowery thing. I pray in my car to and from work. I pray in the shower. I pray during the times I find myself alone with a few minutes to connect to my Creator while I’m washing dishes or dusting.
  2. Read the Word. The Bible is God’s book. It’s our instruction manual and our direct line of communication from God. Through reading the Word, we are not only reading about how God wants us to live. We’re reading about His character and His personal love for us. Through the stories, we’re given living examples to follow.
  3. Be in Community. There’s friends and then there’s community, and if you’re lucky, they overlap as frimunity or framunity (ok, those don’t really work but you get the point). Get in a community of people who are also after God’s heart. Find a community modeled after what Jesus had created for himself with the disciples. Get messy with each other. Be real. Hold each other accountable, and encourage one another. Have fun together. These are the people who will invest in your spiritual and emotional growth. They’re the ones who will call you out on your shtuff, and then walk through the muck and mire with you. And you’ll learn how to do this for others.

We are all refugees

Neighbors NightWhile a few radical (and misguided) Christians were ranting about some red cups, and most of us were like “huh?” terrorists were attacking. Every minute of every day someone is committing unprovoked attack on others.

A lot of immediate reactions were posted on social media, spoken about on political platforms, or blogged about in newspaper columns and personal sites. And unfortunately, a lot of the immediate reactions have been at the expense of refugees.

Is it possible for terrorists to exploit a refugee status to enter a country for their own evil agenda? Of course. They’re terrorists, they’re going to take advantage of every system and every kindness to inflict harm on those not conforming to their ways. What’s unfair is blaming those seeking refuge from these terrorists.

There are always going to be those who use the system to their own advantage. Always. And yes, there are some systems that could be better with a little tweaking. But should we do away with a whole system that’s providing solace to innocents because terrorists may be exploiting it?

As children of God, we don’t have the privilege to decide who does and doesn’t deserve help. If this were true, and I were the prophet encountering Saul of Tarsus after he was blinded, I would have declined helping him. God would have used someone else (because He’s God), but what if he hadn’t? A huge chunk of the New Testament (and Paul’s ministry) would be missing because I took it upon myself to decide Saul didn’t deserve help. Who am I to say no to a person God created in His image?

Should we use discernment and recognize when we’re being taken advantage of? Of course. That’s where setting healthy boundaries comes into play. But we have the privilege of being the hands and feet of Jesus. We’re here to spread love and help people understand God’s love for them. And, quite frankly, the current cry that only Christian refugees be helped isn’t Christian at all because then we are playing God and deciding who gets accepted into His family.

While in Budapest, I had the opportunity of meeting a family that served the refugees coming into Europe through Hungary. While talking, the topic of “what if” came up because David, the husband and father, said they encountered that question often. “What if you are helping a terrorist?” His answer was basically: “What if, in the simple act of handing a banana to a person in need, I’ve changed his entire perspective of the world, and they choose a different path?”

We’re all refugees. Adam and Eve’s sin banned us from the original world and plan God had, propelling us into a world where we constantly face the struggle between Good and evil. The Good News is that evil has already lost this war. The bad news is that we still have to decide how we respond to evil in our midst. Do we increase our love, kindness and compassion, heaping coals on evil, glorifying the Kingdom, or do we ourselves fall victim to our refugee status and believe Satan’s lies, closing ourselves off to people because they “might be” terrorists?

For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me. Matthew 25:35-36

In December, my community is hosting an evening of dinner and music to raise funds to support a refugee family’s move to the United States. Visit the website for more information or to donate to Neighbors Night: Refugee Fundraiser.

Unplugging to Recharge

“You have permission to say no to something and give yourself a break.” –My Therapist.

As she said this I physically felt my shoulders relax and air enter my lungs. It felt like the first real breath I’ve taken since before
my crazy whirlwind mission trip in Budapest. Which is so, so, so, so silly. Ridiculous, actually.

Because I’m rest’s biggest advocate. I have an unhealthy attachment to rest. I get mad at people who don’t give themselves breaks.

But for some reason I’ve gotten into a rhythm where I get the bare minimum to keep me running for the next day, and the cycle perpetuates itself even though I can feel myself draining. I can feel my joy, enthusiasm for life, and closeness to God draining.

This isn’t how it’s supposed to be, guys. As in, this isn’t Biblical, and not at all what God wants for us. Does he want us to work hard? Damn right. But he doesn’t want us to kill ourselves, to drain ourselves to the point of becoming robotic. He wants us to have close, personal relationships with each other and with Him. We can’t do that if we’re pushing ourselves to do rather than to be.

If we’re made in God’s likeness, then it goes without saying that we should be trying to be like God. And guess what? God rested!

This weekend was my Sabbath. I turned off my computer, silenced my phone, and only spoke to the person behind the counter when I picked up my pizza. I napped, Netflix binged, and, most importantly, spent some time with God, whom I’ve been neglecting.

And despite the fact that I still got a migraine at the tail-end, I feel better. I feel rejuvenated. I feel like I can now work out of a place of rest, rather than pushing myself to extend past exhaustion. I can return to my relationships more wholeheartedly.

Most importantly, I feel realigned with my God.

When was the last time you really rested?

Budapest 2015: The Three-Fer Trip

It seems that 2015 has been the lead-up year. I’ve been raising support, talking to people and writing about my mission trip to Budapest. Well, I’m back from Budapest. And I’m exhausted. But in a good way.

In July, we learned that the official Bringing in the Hungarian Harvest (BHHP) week-long program was canceled. The CRU missionaries on-the-ground in Budapest had had a rough year and needed a break to recharge. Because we’d already been really busy fundraising and still felt God was pulling us to Budapest, we refocused our attention on serving and ministering to the missionaries. Originally, BHHP is a week-long blitz in public and private school English classes to build relationships with students and encourage them to connect with CRU (Fèk) for life-application resources. We also brought large, heavy suitcases full of blankets, underwear and socks (among other supplies) for the Syrian refugees, and spent an evening learning more about the Europe refugee crisis with a family that is actively involved in helping the refugees.

Long story short, we ended up being able to go to English classes AND minister to the missionaries AND serve the refugees. Which made for a crazy hectic week for us. But the missionaries were so thrilled and grateful to have us cooking for them and spending time in fellowship, and the students were incredibly responsive to having us in their classes.

And now, I’m in recovery. While I technically took two weeks of vacation from work, and we took a mini-vacation to Croatia before coming home, this was hard, draining work. But so, so worth it.

As I’m processing, I’ll share more of what we did and my own revelations I’m sure I’ll be working through for the rest of my life, but I wanted to share some photos and ask for continued prayers for the Youth at the Threshold of Life program (which is what Fèk stands for in Hungarian) and the missionaries dedicating their lives to being the hands and feet of Jesus in Budapest and Europe, along with the refugees and those putting their lives on hold to provide comfort, safety and medical care to them.

Here's me attempting to
Here’s me attempting to “teach” by drawing a map of the U.S. to show where I’m from. I will not be sharing a photo of my sad map.
classroom small group
After introducing ourselves and playing a game to encourage interaction, we broke into small groups and listened to a lesson. This year’s lesson was about Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ). Then we would discuss with our groups. Sometimes they wanted to talk about EQ, sometimes they didn’t. Regardless of what we talked about, this gave us some time to build rapport with the students and invite them to the FEK outreach event on Friday night.
FEK Friday Outreach event for high school students. The theme was The Maze Runner. We showed clips of the movie, but it was in Hungarian. So now I'll have to watch it in English!
FEK Friday Outreach event for high school students. The theme was The Maze Runner. We showed clips of the movie, but it was in Hungarian. So now I’ll have to watch it in English!
At the outreach event, the students completed an obstacle maze. At my station they had to work as a team to build something creative using dominoes.
At the outreach event, the students completed an obstacle maze. At my station they had to work as a team to build something creative using dominoes.
This team was awesome! They worked together to build a Domino Unicorn.
This team was awesome! They worked together to build a Domino Unicorn.
Here's us! We dubbed ourselves the
Here’s us! We dubbed ourselves the “rebels” because we decided to still come to Budapest and serve.

Ew, the high road

Taking the high road sucks. I’m in a season where I’ve been particularly tested in this, and while I’m actually doing ok, I’m internally suffering that I can’t be Batman, the justice vigilante.

A few years ago, I was at Bennigan’s with my mom, standing in line to be seated. I watched an older gentlemen with two small children berate the host after the host explained that the restaurant was short-staffed that day and it would take a little longer for their food to get to their tables. I watched this guy make a fool of himself by blaming a teenager for the fact that they had a few staff members call in sick and TGIFriday’s down the block was closed. He did this in front of a line of people waiting for a table, and in front of his small children.

As he walked past in a huff, I called him an “asshole.” When he turned around to ask what I said, I think he thought I’d turtle-up and say “nothing.” Instead, I told him he had no right to treat the host the way he did, it’s not the kid’s fault the restaurant is short-staffed or that TGIFriday’s is closed. He walked directly toward me as if he was going to smack me. I stood my ground and he thought better of it. He then turned and tried to backhandedly apologize to the host by saying he didn’t mean to imply all this was his fault. Poor kid.

I’m both proud and disappointed in myself when I think about that moment. I stood up for someone who wasn’t able to stand up for himself. I recognized injustice and boldly called  out entitled behavior. I stood my ground and didn’t flinch as he approached to hit me. I hope his children remember that moment and treat others with respect because of it. I hope he remembers that moment and treats other with respect because of it.

I’m disappointed because I handled the situation poorly using foul language in front of children and strangers. I mean, let’s be honest here. I use foul language on a regular basis. But I try to not do it in front of kids, and I try to be a good witness to Jesus because life is just one big mission trip. I behaved rashly and emotionally, and tried to fight negativity with more negativity—which is not at all effective.

This month, I was sexually harassed by a middle school boy, I watched a man on a bicycle hit an elderly woman while attempting to ride through a crowd on the sidewalk, and I watched a feed of comments on a Facebook community board turn into ugly, personal, racist attacks. And now we, as a nation, are experiencing how ugly people can be to each other, watching potential presidential candidates belittle each other and stigmatize large groups of people.

What am I doing? I mean, what am I doing besides writing this post and praying?

Nothing. I’m not at the point yet where I’ve figured out how to respond to injustice maturely, without resorting to foul language, violence or personal attacks.

Please note: I’m in no way advocating those who’ve experienced injustice to just lay down and take it. Remember, we’re not door mats.

But I do think sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing, especially when you’re fighting the urge to reenact Peter lopping off people’s ears. Sometimes, no matter how hard it is, it’s best to take the high road.

I don’t believe in Karma, but I do believe God is our ultimate Judge and the One in control. He’ll take care of it. Even that little middle school turd who made kissy faces at me.

Forbidden Fruit. Actually, Forbidden Cake.

glutenfreeBecause of a multitude of health issues that don’t seem explainable by any one diagnosis, I am now gluten-free at the advice of my doctor.

Yes, I’ve become THAT person. The one at the restaurant who has to talk to the server about her options. The one who has to spend extra time at the grocery store figuring out what she can buy. The one who has to ask if a company party will have gluten-free food and drink choices. Seriously.

I’ve never been annoyed by THOSE people before. I more felt bad for what they have to miss out on. Pasta?! Bread?! Donuts?! BEER?! But I’m finding myself really annoying. Because now I feel like I’m imposing on others. I seem to have copious amounts of grace for others in this situation, just not for myself.

I’m trying to look at this as an adventure. “Think of how much healthier you’ll feel!” “Think of all the stuff you can still eat and drink!” “Maybe you won’t feel sick anymore!” But really. Ugh.

I know I can’t apologize for this, because it’s who I am and I’m not going to compromise my health for the sake of convenience. Just thinking about what gluten is probably doing to my body strengthens my resolve. But I can’t seem to help internally cringing every time I have to mention it or talk about it, and I’m only eight days in! This isn’t just a diet, it’s a whole new lifestyle.

Thank you, Jesus, that Reese’s Pieces are gluten-free.