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I confess, I don't know what to do in situations like this.

I have my opinions about the KKK, white supremacists, Nazis, and terrorists.  To put it bluntly, I think their racism makes them awful human beings.  I'm pretty vocal about it too, telling all my Facebook friends, twitter and instagram followers, and readers of this blog how I feel.  I tell my friends how I feel in real life too.

If I know they agree with me.  Fortunately, most of the people I know in my private life are as progressive as I am and feel the same way.

A friend of mine posted a link on Facebook to Renegade Mothering's article Dear White Women: This is Definitely Us earlier today:

"They say the truth will set you free, but first it will really piss you off. The reason it pisses us off is not simply because we are wrong, but because the truth – the great truth – sets aflame everything we thought we knew about ourselves. It uses us up and spits us out into a pile of something we never imagined could exist in us, let alone thrive at the core of our being.

"Do we believe people of color now?

"Do we believe our silence is compliance? Do we believe our silence is not revolutionary? Do we believe that it is only through pointed, conscientious action that we can break down the system of supremacy from which we all benefit? Do we see that watching slavery movies and feeling bad isn’t doing a goddamn thing?

"Do we believe we are responsible? That we must speak? That we must call out the fifty racists in our families–oh come on. I know they’re there. Even in Portland–that we must RAISE CHILDREN WHO UNDERSTAND AMERICA WAS BUILT ON RACISM?

"We are not post-racial. We have never been equal. And it is an outright delusion to convince ourselves “This is not us.”

"This man  [Trump] was brought to power because of his white supremacy, not in spite of it.

"This is a backlash of eight years of black presidency. This is a backlash against people of color rising to power. This is white America reclaiming its Empire.

"This is every race-based immigration law in our history. This is Native America genocide. This is anti-miscegenation laws, the one-drop rule, and American colonization. This is white nostalgia and the rewriting of history.

"This is Jim Crow after slavery. This is the prison pipeline after civil rights. This is redlining and white flight after the GI Bill of WWII.

"This is exactly how America has always wanted it. HAS ALWAYS DONE IT."

 

(Really, you need to follow the link and read the whole post.  Stop and do that now. Come back when you're done.)

I have friends and at least one family member who I know voted for Trump.  I talk on social media about how abhorrent bigotry and racism are because it's easy.  But I don't like confronting actual human beings about their personal bigotry because I don't like confrontation.

My silence is compliance.  I need to be more vocal and active, but other than praying about it (which I believe can help change the situation more than my actions alone), I don't know how.

[Insert a lot of inner turmoil and hand-wringing here.]

Fortunately, about the time this inner turmoil and repeating "WHAT DO I DO?" in my head showed up, I found an article from the Southern Poverty Law Center with a list of things we can do to combat racism and bigotry:

The first thing I'm going to do is keep reminding fellow Christians that we are commanded to love everyone, even those we see as our enemies or different.  We need to pray that we (including our own selves), the Body of Christ, love people as Christ loves them and renounce hatred in our own lives.  Loving other people is probably more difficult for me than confronting them, so this challenge is pointed at me more than anyone else.

I'm going to work on gently and lovingly confronting those people in my life who say bigoted and hateful things.

I'm going to continue to work on my own prejudices, facing them and eliminating them.

I'm going to continue to speak against bigotry and hatred on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and in my writing.

And I'm going to continue praying the God will use me to help end bigotry and hatred.

 

 

2

Yesterday, a dear, beloved friend of mine posted a reprint of John Pavlovitz's blog post on his Facebook page regarding the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA this past weekend (August 12, 2017).

One of his friends responded, "I disagree with this pastor. I don't accept that anyone in Charlottesville is racist, a bigot, or anything other than ignorant, ignorant of their history and common beginnings, and ignorant of why there is a statue of a confederate general in the first place.  All the more reason to maintain those statues"  He continued in a later comment, "To wit: if all we see and speak about is racism and bigotry, then that is all we will discuss."

I suspect he wanted to continue the conversation about states' rights and how a big government was really to blame for the South's succession from the Union before the Civil War; however, I wanted to take the conversation in another direction: "Then let's start talking about sin. About how it's a sin to not love others as Jesus commands us to do. Instead of loving other people, we spout stuff like, "Love the sinner, hate the sin." We teach people that justice is more important than mercy. We teach people that the racial divide started in the Bible and that because the Bible talks about slavery and bigotry, that makes it OK--when the POINT of God and the writers of the Bible talking about those things wasn't to say those things are OK but to show how they don't work. And then to point out the better way, which is loving God and loving one another.

"So sure. Let's stop talking about racism and bigotry, but if we're going to do that, we need to START talking about how racism and bigotry are 100% rooted in sin. You can talk about states' rights and ignorance all you want, but this is willful, blatant ignorance, and people who are that willfully and blatantly ignorant don't want to be educated. They want to feel powerful and privileged and better than people who are different than them.

"So let's start talking about sin with these people then. And see if they respond any differently to THAT than to us talking about how wrong their racism and bigotry are."

People are sinful.  As a Christian, I truly believe that.  On a personal level, I have to fight against my sinful nature every day.  And yes, I even have fight against my own bigotry, prejudice, and privilege that tells me that I'm better than people of color or that I should be scared of the young African American man I encounter when I'm walking my dog at night.  I think and feel all these things, all while being horrified when I hear of another young African American man who was shot by some white dude for doing nothing more than walking down the street minding his own business.

In reality, it's the white guy I need to be more afraid of.

I have friends who are African American, Korean, Chinese, Jewish, Muslim, Latino, and Indian.  I love hearing stories about their cultures and religions (or lack thereof).  I'm saddened and infuriated by what some of them have had to endure because they aren't white and/or Christian.

And I still harbor some prejudices in my heart.

Prejudice and bigotry and thinking we're better than other people is a sin.  God told the Jewish people to welcome foreigners into Israel because they were once foreigners and oppressed in Egypt. In Jesus' day, Jewish people hated Samaritans, but Jesus spent time with a Samaritan woman and told a parable about a Samaritan who acted with love towards an injured Jew while his Jewish brothers passed him by.  Jesus commands us to love one another, to love our neighbors: "There are countless modern parallels to the Jewish-Samaritan enmity—indeed, wherever peoples are divided by racial and ethnic barriers. Perhaps that’s why the Gospels and Acts provide so many instances of Samaritans coming into contact with the message of Jesus. It is not the person from the radically different culture on the other side of the world that is hardest to love, but the nearby neighbor whose skin color, language, rituals, values, ancestry, history, and customs are different from one’s own."

Honestly, I really want to erase all the stuff in this post about how I have some prejudices still.  But I can't, because sin can only die when a light is shining on it. To my friends who are people of color, I'm sorry that I still harbor these prejudices.  I am praying that God will help me remove them and if I have ever hurt you by my words or actions, I'm so sorry.  I don't want to be like the people in Charlottesville who marched with Nazi flags under the banner of white supremacy.  Despite my shortcomings, I stand with you on the side of the oppressed.

 

Talking about self-care is a big thing right now.  Google "self-care" and you'll get 61.2 million hits.  That's a lot of people talking about self-care.

Ideas for self-care range from the completely practical (like eating well and staying hydrated) to the new-agey (get in touch with your inner child/spirit guide/beast/etc.).

The world probably doesn't need another post about self-care, but taking care of yourself really is important.  So I present to you the n00b's guide to self-care.

Most, if not all, of this is going to be so completely obvious that you'll probably laugh at me or not read any further.  These ideas are so basic that a three-year-old understands them.

But be honest: even though these things are obvious, do you do them?

Are you tired?  Go to sleep.  Is it bedtime?  If yes, go to bed.  Even if it's 7 p.m.  If no, take a nap.  Adults don't take enough naps.

Are you hungry?  Eat something.  If it's time for a meal, have a meal.  If it's not time for a meal, have a snack.

Are you bored?  Go play.  Or read.  Do something fun, even if your version of fun is cooking a four course meal or cleaning the bathroom.

Are you thirsty?  Get a drink.  Water is best.

Are you sad?  Do something that makes you happy.  Dance.  Read a comic book.  Talk to a friend or loved one.  Or if you need to, cry.  It's OK for adults to cry (even you, gentlemen.).

Do you have to go to the bathroom?  Then for the love all that's holy, please just go to the bathroom.

These seem so simple.  But when was the last time you actually listened to what your body is telling you and then took care of your needs?  It's not selfish to take care of yourself in the most basic ways.

What simple things do you do to take care of yourself?  Please let me know in the comments!

 

 

I work part time as a church secretary.  This isn't the first time in my life that I've been a secretary, and if there's one universal thing about being a secretary, it's this: Some days you have a lot of down time.

I'm smart and I work quickly on 75% of the tasks I'm given with few to no mistakes and minimal supervision.  I've surprised more than one supervisor with how quickly I can complete tasks.  However, working quickly leads to even more down time.

The church I'm at is transitioning from one pastor to another, and the new pastor is still getting moved and settled.  Even though he's already told me he won't have much for me to help him with for a few weeks, I still make it a habit to ask him once or twice a week if there's anything he needs me to do.  I've asked previous supervisors at other jobs the same thing.  And sometimes, there just isn't a lot of work to do.

I'm not complaining about having downtime.  I really, truly appreciate that it's a luxury that most people don't have in their jobs.

However, I also feel guilty on the days when I have so little to do that I'm getting paid to just wait for the phone to ring.

This morning, our Visitation Pastor came into the office.  He's this adorable eighty-something year old man with an even more adorable eighty-something year old wife.  He's a retired United Methodist pastor and was hired two years ago visit church members who are in the hospital, nursing homes, hospice, or long term care at home.  He asked me if I was keeping busy, and I told him that with the pastoral transition, there really isn't a lot for me to do right now.

He said, "God gives us each a job to do.  Some days you have so much to do that it seems the day will never end.  Some days you have very little to do.  I think God's OK with us having days when we have very little to do, and we shouldn't feel guilty about being given the opportunity to have a slow day.  We shouldn't feel guilty for being paid to do nothing.  We should enjoy the rest the slow days give us because there will be busy day later when the day seems like it will never end."

I have never, ever in my life had someone tell me that about down time at work.  I told him thank you for telling me that and that I appreciate hearing it and knowing that someone understands.

After he left, I thanked God for the people in my life who He speaks through.

And I'm sharing this with you because I think you need to hear it too.  I was shown grace this morning, and I want to share that with you today.

For today's post, I thought it might be fun to write five random facts about me.  Here goes:

  1. I can pop my nose.  No, not like when people cup both hands over their nose and use their thumbnails to click the backs of their teeth.  Like, really, seriously pop my nose.  I think it's amusing and it creeps people the hell out.
  2. I've never seen The Princess Bride.  I don't want to see it.  It doesn't bother me that I haven't seen it.  And when people find this out and shout, "You haven't seen The Princess Bride?!" like it's some shortfall in my 80s credentials, I just tell them that I always thought it looked stupid.  It usually gets people to huff and walk off, which makes me laugh.
  3. I've never seen The Goonies.  I don't want to see it.  It doesn't bother me that I haven't seen it.  And judging from some conversations I've heard others have about it, it's a movie that's way more entertaining when you're twelve than an adult, and it's kind of sexist and racist.  No thanks.
  4. I've never been drunk.  Anyone who knows me in real life is probably not a bit surprised about this.
  5. I'm not a big fan of Prince.  I can appreciate that he was a brilliant and extremely accomplished writer and musician and will wholeheartedly argue that stance with anyone who says differently.  However, I've never been a huge fan of his music, and change the station when most of his songs start playing.

So what are some random facts about you?  Comment below!

 

1

Funny story:

Two or three year ago, I started getting email about meetings from people I didn't know.  Then I would get the occasional email from a college in Ontario about registering for classes or something.  I also received emails from an animal shelter in Ottowa or Toronto.

I'd usually just delete these emails, figuring that there was another Stephanie Moulton in Ontario who wasn't receiving some of her email, hopefully because someone else had entered her email incorrectly in their database (And not because she got her own email address wrong.  Or had given out a bogus address because she didn't want to give out her real email.).

I get these random emails three or four times a year and just delete them, feeling somewhat bad for this other Stephanie Moulton because she's not getting some of her emails, about half of which could be kind of important.  (Reminders about meetings?  Class work for group projects?  Yeah, kind of important.)

I haven't received too many of these emails in 2017, but they all come from places in Ontario.  So when I got an email from an esthetics salon in Ottawa a couple of weeks ago, I wasn't surprised:

Skip to last Sunday (July 16).  I hadn't been online for a few hours, so I opened my computer to check my email, and had two new emails:

My first reaction: "What's POF?"  I opened the email about registration details:

Sunday was two days before our wedding anniversary.  Jeff was sitting at the dining room table, and I had an email open about registration details for a dating site.  My first response was, "Shit!  Delete delete delete!"

Once my heart stopped racing, I thought, "I really should unsubscribe to these emails."  I opened the second email informing the other Stephanie that someone was interested in her, scrolled to the unsubscribe link at the bottom, and clicked it, hoping to unsubscribe so that this little issue was remedied.  Once at the POF site, I looked at the screen and discovered I needed a password to unsubscribe.

Crap.

At that point I thought, "I really don't want all of these POF emails coming to my inbox, how can I fix this?  (thinks about it for a few minutes) Ah!  Gmail spam filter!"  So I set up the spam filter to send all of the emails to the trash and patted myself on the back.

While I did that, about seven more emails from POF got to my inbox.  I trashed those and went about surfing Facebook.  Two hours later, my inbox was POF free.  Out of curiosity, I checked my trash to see if any more emails had been caught by the spam filter, and discovered that the other Stephanie had twenty new emails from POF.  I was really hoping that these guys writing to her were nice and not sending inappropriate pictures to her POF inbox.

Occasionally, gmail will send an important email straight to my trash, so I check my trash a couple of times a week.  I checked my trash Tuesday (July 18) afternoon:

One hundred messages.  Oh, there are more:

Another thirty eight messages.  As of 3:30 a.m. Wednesday (July 19) morning, the other Stephanie has received 138 messages from POF about guys who have contacted her.

I decided to try tracking down the other Stephanie Moulton.  Of course my first stop was Facebook, and I found one young woman with that name in Ontario.  I have yet to receive a reply.  I hope I hear from her soon.  As amusing as it is to be receiving emails from a dating site, I'd really like them to stop.

So, um, what would you do in this situation?  Comment below!  The more entertaining, the better.

 

 

 

1

It's been almost a month since I wrote about talking about mental illness.  I pulled a paragraph out of that post to help highlight what I'm going to write about today:

"As I mentioned earlier, I'm now transitioning from prozac to wellbutrin xl.  Having transitioned from celexa to prozac several years ago, I knew what the whole process of switching antidepressants was like, and it's not enjoyable.  For the past twelve days I've been even more tired than usual, have found myself becoming impatient easily, eating more sweets than normal, and crying (It was difficult to cry on prozac.  I had to be really upset to do so.).  It hasn't been quite as awful as being unmedicated was, but it has been difficult.  I've had to tell the people closest to me that if I start acting depressed again that this is why."

I've been on Wellbutrin XL for a whole month now.  The past four weeks have been difficult.  I cried a lot, sometimes over stupid things.  I lost almost every ounce of patience that I had.  I was extremely irritable.  The combination of no patience and irritability made me not want to be around myself; I was really glad that Jeff and Liam were camping so much with Boy Scouts so that they didn't have to be around me so much.  I was prepared for all of that though.

What I wasn't prepared for was how absolutely worn out I became each day.  Not just tired.  Worn out.  Like I'd been doing hard, physical labor for eight hours, and feeling like this by nine or ten in the morning.  And on top of feeling like this and wanting to sleep all the time, I was having more difficulty than usual falling asleep and sleeping well at night.

Two weeks ago, it got so bad that I decided that I had to make time to rest for a whole day.  Fortunately, Jeff and Liam were going to their last weekend of Scout camp and I was able to pull this off without worrying about making sure they got fed.

So I took that whole Saturday off and did what I wanted.  If I wanted to sleep, I slept.  If I wanted to watch tv, I watched tv.  If I wanted to read, I read.  I ate when I was hungry, I avoided Facebook and twitter, and spent the day making time to take care of me.

And I felt really selfish and guilty at times.  There were at least five times that my brain said, "This is stupid.  You have stuff to do around the house and errands that could be run."  When that happened, I did what my therapist has instructed me to do:  I acknowledged the thought, pushed it away, and told my brain I wasn't going to feel guilty for taking care of myself.

Because that's what rest is, ladies and gentlemen.  It's taking care of ourselves.  We work eight hours a day, then go home and take care of houses, spouses, and kids.  We use our weekends to do housework or play too hard.  We stay up too late surfing the web or watching tv.  We rely on caffeine to get us through the day instead of plenty of sleep and healthy food.  We go too fast, live too hard, and then wonder why we're tired all the time.

And those are normal circumstances.  Throw in stressful life circumstances or illnesses and our bodies eventually give out and start demanding more rest.  We become worn out, irritable, stressed, depressed, and sick.

Unfortunately, those of us living in the United States have been taught that "Idle hands are the devil's playground."  We've been taught a work ethic where we must always be busy.  Our jobs ask us to multitask, even though research has shown that multitasking is a myth.  Even when we have down time, we use it to finish little projects that use just enough brain power and energy that we're not really resting.

And God forbid that we actually rest.  If we try to do that, we get guilt from our culture, acquaintances, friends, family members, and even our own brains.  Sometimes it's just easier to keep going, no matter how tired we are, than to take the time our bodies need to rest.

I can't do that anymore.  My personality demands alone time to recharge.  My body demands rest.  My brain chemistry is crying out for me to listen to my body and stop.

So I'm making a choice to be more aware of when I'm  tired and need to be resting. That Saturday was successful.  I did it again on Sunday.  I will probably try it again on Sunday.  I may not be able to do this every week, but I'm going to do my best to make a day of rest a habit and I'm going to work on not feeling guilty about taking care of myself.

I encourage you to do the same thing.  If you are a Christian, remember that we are commanded to observe a Sabbath day.  God created the Sabbath for us, so that we can rest and recharge.

There's nothing shameful about resting.  There's nothing shameful about admitting you need to rest.  So take the time you need to rest.  Quit multitasking.  Sleep.  Go slowly.  Rest.

Pet peeves.  All of us have a few of them.  Here are a couple of mine:

Not putting shopping carts in the corrals.  Yes, I know, it's hot/cold/rainy/etc. outside, and the cart corral is five spaces away from you.  Too bad.  Just too bad.  It's not OK in any way, shape, or form to leave the shopping cart a) in another parking space, b) propped crookedly on the island cement and the parking lot, c) just outside the cart corral.

My new "favorite" is people who only have a few bags and don't need the cart         to get the bags to the car, so they leave the carts inside.  Like this:

And finally, how lazy do you have to be to leave the shopping cart in the parking lot AT ALDI?

Badly parked cars.  Cars parked inside the lines, but one side is RIGHT ON THE YELLOW PARKING LINE.  Cars sharing two parking spots.  Cars parked diagonally, either inside the lines of their own space or across two or more spaces.

Honestly, it takes every fiber of my being to not take pictures and Facebook shame people like this.  It takes thirty seconds to repark the car if you're not doing it correctly, so just take the extra time and do it right.  Please.

Being late all the time.  I admit, I'm one of those people who runs early for just about everything.  Running right on time for an appointment makes me antsy, and if I think I'm going to be even two minutes late for something, I call the other person to let them know.

That there are people in the world who are constantly late for everything drives me nuts.  Please don't get me wrong--if someone is late a couple of times because they lost track of time, I understand that that happens.  That happens to all of us.  But I know some people who are late to everything because they just are.  It's rude and irritating.  It shows me that that person thinks that my time isn't as valuable as their time.

So what are your pet peeves?  Let me know in the comments.

 

On June 26, 2017, Huffpost published an article by Kayla Chadwick titled I Don't Know How to Explain to You That You Should Care About Other People.  In it, she writes:

"I don’t know how to explain to someone why they should care about other people.

"Personally, I’m happy to pay an extra 4.3 percent for my fast food burger if it means the person making it for me can afford to feed their own family. If you aren’t willing to fork over an extra 17 cents for a Big Mac, you’re a fundamentally different person than I am.

"I’m perfectly content to pay taxes that go toward public schools, even though I’m childless and intend to stay that way, because all children deserve a quality, free education. If this seems unfair or unreasonable to you, we are never going to see eye to eye.

"If I have to pay a little more with each paycheck to ensure my fellow Americans can access health care? SIGN ME UP. Poverty should not be a death sentence in the richest country in the world. If you’re okay with thousands of people dying of treatable diseases just so the wealthiest among us can hoard still more wealth, there is a divide between our worldviews that can never be bridged.

"I don’t know how to convince someone how to experience the basic human emotion of empathy. I cannot have one more conversation with someone who is content to see millions of people suffer needlessly in exchange for a tax cut that statistically they’ll never see (do you make anywhere close to the median American salary? Less? Congrats, this tax break is not for you)."

If you claim to be a Christian, I do know how to explain it to you:

John 15:12--My command is this: Love one another as I have loved you.

Proverbs 29:7--The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.

Jeremiah 22:3--I, the Lord, command you to do what is just and right. Protect the person who is being cheated from the one who is cheating him. Do not ill-treat or oppress foreigners, orphans, or widows.

Micah 6:8--He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

1 John 3: 17--If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?

1 Corinthians 10:24--None of you should be looking out for your own interests, but for the interests of others.

Provers 22:22-23--Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case and will exact life for life.

In short: Love others as God has loved you.  If you love God, you will take care of the poor and the oppressed.  The Lord requires His followers to take care of the poor and the oppressed, to bring justice to the world and be merciful to others.  Look out for the interests of others instead of your own interests.  And if we don't do these things?  The Lord will protect the needy and punish us.

As Christians, we should be helping people.  We should fight for a living wage for all people because the Lord requires us to take care of the poor, and people who aren't making a living wage are poor.  You can gripe all you want about not wanting to pay a few cents more for your fast food and how people should get real jobs if they want to be paid a living wage, but this argument is rooted in greed, not the betterment of others.

You can gripe all you want about not wanting to pay for another person's health insurance, but that's not loving God because you aren't loving your neighbor.  This isn't an argument about how the free market will help make health insurance more affordable: what you're really saying is that you aren't going to take pity on someone who has less than you.

And that's not right, and that's not just.

So if you claim to follow Jesus, but you've made arguments against raising the minimum wage, health insurance for everyone, paying taxes, or anything else you might call liberal economics, know this: Jesus commands us to take care of those who are poor and oppressed.  If you aren't doing the right thing, the just thing, maybe you're not following Jesus.

 

 

 

We've been here before, ladies and gentlemen.

Once again, the major cable companies--Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T--want the FCC to get rid of net neutrality regulations:  "Broadband giants like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, oppose the FCC's net neutrality policy, because it prevents them from turning the internet into something like cable TV, with different price and service packages for premium content. And they've got a willing ally in Pai, a former Verizon lawyer who was selected to lead the FCC by Trump in January."

Net neutrality " ... is the concept that internet service providers (ISPs) like AT&T and Verizon shouldn't be allowed to prioritize or block legal content on their networks. It also means that they can't set up online fast lanes for deep-pocketed companies at the expense of startups. This open access principle is responsible for establishing the internet as an unprecedented platform for economic growth, civic engagement and free speech, according to net neutrality advocates."

I don't want to pay more for Internet than I already am just to have slower service than what I already have.  And I don't want to pay even more than that to have internet service at the speed I have now.  I don't want sites to be blocked from me because I have Comcast and the website's ISP is AT&T.

If you agree with me, here's what you can do: Send a letter to the FCC and Congress telling them that you don't want the FCC to end net neutrality.

Please protect the future of the Internet and email the FCC and Congress today.  Share this post with your friends so that they can email the FCC and Congress too.  Post about the fight for net neutrality on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and everywhere else you live on social media.  And thank you for helping!