Sunday School and Ritual, plus Pagan Parenting (again)

Erin and I have recently gotten very involved in the church we attend.  Erin does tech stuff in the back on the first and third Sundays of the month, and I teach elementary Sunday School on the 3rd Sunday.  Usually, if I’m teaching, we’ll try to go to the 10AM service so I can see it, but we slept instead this past week.  On the weeks that I’m teaching, we get the lesson a few days before so we can prepare what we want to say and how we want to teach it.

This lesson was all about teachers, and how the different religions all have different teachers, but that they all came and continue to come to help us learn things.

We had a picture with a bunch of different religious symbols on it, and we talked about what they all meant in the class.

I then asked the kids, “What is God?”

I didn’t ask who, I asked what.  I got a lot of blank stares at first, so I reworded the question, “What is it that God wants us to do?”

The kids started shouting out things about helping others, and acceptance, and being nice to people.  So I summed up all their responses into three words: God is love.  Then, I asked them, “What do you do to show someone you love or care about them?  What do people, maybe your parents or friends, do to show or say they love and care about you?”

They said stuff about hugs, and helping them, and smiling, and being nice.  I pointed out that everyone’s versions of what love was was different, and then I asked them, “So if everyone has different views on love, is everyone’s view on love going to be the same?”  Of course, everyone said no.

Then I asked, “Does everyone learn the same way?”  No… “How are some different ways people learn?”  Seeing, hearing, doing, being shown by someone else, etc.

Then I wrote the word “God” on the board and wrote all the positive stuff about God that we’d already talked about (and the kids were adding more at this point).  Then I drew a line at the bottom of the screen and drew some stick figures and labeled it “us.”

Then I said, “Here’s God.  And God wants us to know what love is and how to express love and how to know when others love us and how to love others.  God wants to teach us this, but if we don’t all learn the same way, then how will we all learn love?”

Then I drew a different arrow to each person and labelled each arrow a different religion: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Wicca, and Hinduism (there were eight kids in the class).  And I said, “God made all these religions with their own teachers to help all the different people on the planet learn love in different ways.”

One kid asked me, “Which one am I?”  And I responded, “You can be any of them that you want to be.”

Then we colored and made “Wisdom Tellers,” which are Chinese fortune tellers but with quotes from all the major teachers from the major religions on the planet: Jesus, Moses, Muhammad, Buddha, Krishna, Tao-zu and some others who’s names are escaping me right now.  Then, we did a meditation and a prayer to thank all the teachers we have from the past, present and future for helping us learn all the lessons we need to learn, and then we cleaned up and class was over.

After the class, Erin and I stayed late to re-organize the room and straighten it up.  The minister thanked us and said that I must really like and have a really organized classroom since we stayed and did all this.  Erin and I both laughed.  I said, “No, I just get a wild hair sometimes and just organize everything.”

One of the things that really stuck out to me in the class, though, was one of the girls in the room.  She’s one of the older girls, and her family is very much Christian, no matter how liberal they are by being at Unity.  She kept mentioning over and over again that all the other religions were “weird.”  I kept saying, “They aren’t weird, just different.”

Erin and I talked about, and we both agreed: Our faith as Kemetics and our faith to the Gods comes first, but we refuse to talk negatively about other religions.  We don’t want our kids growing up thinking other faiths are “weird” or “bad,” just different and not for us (unless they’re older and decide to make that change for themselves).  Honestly, it’ll take a lot of mindfullness about what we say about other faiths or churches, specifically a mega-church in the area that is not known for its friendliness.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying, “I believe this faith practice (or church) is wrong, and here’s why…”  But I do think it is a problem when we start just saying things like, “They suck.”  And then give no explanation as to why we think or feel that way.  Blind negativity is never okay, and it’s important to remember that.  Always.

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In other news, I submitted the required paperwork for my 6-week workshop, and now I’m waiting to hear back about dates.  I think I want to start in January.  We have to give six week notice, but that’ll start the workshop in December, and that’s too much for most people.  So excited!

#EqualityNow

Yesterday, I posted a Facebook status that quite a few people liked and shared, including a couple of people who I don’t know who shared from their friend’s sharing of the status.

Erin later asked me, “What spurred on that whole rant?”

I told her about being at work and listening to music and “Same Love” came up on the rotation.  I realized that I’d never actually seen the music video, so I watched it.  The end, where the music is fading out, depicts an elderly gay male couple where one is dying in a hospital bed and the other one sits next to him, holding his hand, and waits.  These images make me cry every single time I see them depicted on the screen, either in movies, videos, or just pictures.  One, because they’re horribly sad and it’s horribly sad to lose a person you’ve spent so much of your life with and feeling helpless to stop it, but two, because there are so many LGBTQ people out there that never get this opportunity because of discrimination.

I realize that marriage isn’t going to fix everything that is wrong with the discrimination of LGBT people, just like desegregation and the civil rights movement didn’t fix everything for the people of color in this country, but it’s a place to start.

You, dear reader, may or may not have any clue who I am in person.  This may be the first time that you’ve read anything I have to say.  You may be a loyal follower.  Maybe this popped up in your reader, or maybe it popped up in your news feed, but however you got here, I’m glad you’re here.

I don’t know anything about you, just like you don’t know anything, really, about me.

Here’s the deal:  My name is Kel.  I’m 29 years old.  I am a fourth year teacher at a local area high school in a more conservative part of South Carolina.  I own my home, my car, and I pay my bills and taxes, on time, like every good citizen.  I believe that grocery stores are highly over priced and that Wal-Mart is the devil’s way of destroying the planet, so I avoid shopping at either unless it is absolutely necessary (I get my food at local farmer’s markets, vegetable stands, and Costco).  I enjoy reading, writing, teaching, and working hard.  I’m engaged.

I’m also gay.

I don’t know what you’re views are about gay marriage.  I don’t know if you are reading this and for equality or not, and I’m not here to tell you that your beliefs about homosexuality are right or wrong.  I’m not here to tell you that homosexuality is not a sin and that “love is love” and you should accept me.  I’m not here to ask you to go against what you believe and bless my relationship with my fiance.

I’m here to tell you how the ban against same-sex marriage in South Carolina affects me.  A 29-year-old female teacher who works hard to support herself and her family.

When I got my job four years ago, I put my dad as a sole beneficiary.  If something were to happen to me, all of my life insurance money (and there’s a bit), would go to my father.  It would easily cover the cost of my funeral, my debt, and and take care of my animals for a long time.  I cannot change my beneficiary unless I have a life altering event happen that puts me back into a state of “open enrollment.”  I can’t do this unless I get married, have a child, or some other huge event.  I cannot legally get married in South Carolina, which means that if something happens to me, Erin will NOT get my life insurance money.  Luckily, my dad is not an asshole and loves Erin to death as if she were his own, and he wouldn’t leave her high and dry, but this could be easily fixed if the judges were allowed to legally marry us.  I’m lucky.  There are couples out there who don’t have families as wonderful as mine.

I work for the state, and as a state employee, I have some of the best health insurance in the state.  It comes straight out of my pay check, it has a super low deductible, and it covers pretty much everything that I need and want it to.  I, luckily, do not need to use it very often, but it’s there for when I do.  When Erin moved to South Carolina, her health insurance plan couldn’t follow her.  She had to cancel it and get new insurance.  South Carolina opted out of the Universal Health Care stuff, so Erin was forced to get a plan that she could afford.  This insurance plan has a high deductible, and so it’s like not even having health insurance because she has to pay for everything anyway.  If we could get married, Erin could go on my health insuranceWe could cancel her current plan and just have her under mine, which would reduce any possible medical bills by 80%.

Last year, for the first time ever, I ended up itemizing my tax deductions.  If Erin and I were married, we could file our taxes together and save ourselves quite a bit of money.  Married couples can potentially save hundreds of dollars in tax money simply because they were able to get legally married in the state where the live.  Instead, Erin and I have to spend extra money to file our taxes separately from one another.  The cost of filing the taxes sometimes almost cancels out the amount of money we get, or it reduces by at least a gas tank full.

When Erin and I have children, I will be carrying.  The children will be born via sperm donation to me.  My name will go on the birth certificate, and for Erin’s name to go on the certificate, we’d have to have a lawyer and have someone from the state come out and observe our home.  Then we’d have to go to the state and pray that the judge approve second-parent adoptions.  It won’t matter if Erin was there every step of the way through the pregnancy, birth and child’s life.  She will not be considered the parent of OUR children, legally.  In heterosexual couples, married or not, this is NEVER an issue.  “Oh, you’re the father?  Okay, sign here.”

If something were to happen to me, our children wouldn’t legally go to Erin.  They’d go to my family, probably my parents or my sister.  It may not matter if I put it in a Will saying that they need to go to Erin.  It won’t make a difference how old they are or if my family wants them to go to Erin too.  The state would have every right to deny her access to her children because they aren’t legally hers.  Even if I carry her biological child at some point, that child won’t legally be hers because he or she came out of me and not her.  Can you imagine if your children went to your family instead of their father or mother because the state came in and said, “Sorry, but they aren’t legally theirs.”

Speaking of something happening to me, if I were to get into an accident and be placed in ICU, Erin may not get to be with me because she’s not legally “family.”  If I end up dying, she might not be able to sit with me and hold my hand.  She may not get to say goodbye to me.  She may not get to make the final call in whether or not they “pull the plug,” regardless of any paperwork we have written up to the contrary.  She may not be allowed to follow through with my final wishes of donating my body to a medical university, or my organs to a donor program, or cremating me and planting my ashes in the earth.  My family could easily come in and tell the hospital no, and because we’re not legally allowed to marry, the hospital would side with my family.  Now, again, my family isn’t a bunch of jerks, and they wouldn’t do this, but it’s a possibility.

And it’s something that happens to loving, committed couples all over the country every single day.

Like I said, I’m not here to tell you that homosexuality is okay.  I’m not here to tell you that you have to accept me and my lifestyle and my family and relationship.  I’m not here to tell you that you need to just “suck it up” and “get over it.”

I’m here to tell you that when you shout that same-sex marriage shouldn’t be allowed to happen because you personally believe that homosexuality is sin, you aren’t shouting it out to the nameless thousands…

You’re shouting it at a 29-year-old female from South Carolina who’s family is being denied rights that you get to enjoy every day.  You’re looking straight at me and saying, “You don’t get to see your best friend who you’ve spent years with every day die.  You don’t get to say goodbye.  Your children don’t get to go live with their other parent if something happens, and their other parent doesn’t get the benefits from your life insurance policy.”

You’re looking right at me and saying, “You are not as good, not as human, as I am.”

This isn’t about what you think or feel about homosexuality.  This isn’t about giving people “special rights.”  I’m not asking you to believe homosexuality is okay.  I’m asking you to let my children stay with their other parent if something happens to me.  I’m asking you to let me take care of my family in the event of an accident.  I’m asking you to allow me to provide adequate health insurance benefits to those I love.  I’m not asking you to believe that homosexuality is not a sin.  I’m asking you to believe that I’m a human that deserves to be able to do everything you do for your family… for mine.

Evolution and Faith

Last week on Wednesday, Erin and I went to church.  On Wednesdays, UCG has a service that goes from 6pm until 8pm.  It starts with a silent meditation, then a guided meditation, and finally, a discussion.  They’re always over relevant teachings in a small group setting.  That particular day, though, we had a meeting afterwards with our minister.

I see my life as I see evolution: constant and continuous small changes over extended periods of time that lead to something greater and different.

Evolution happens, not just on a physical level with all the species on this planet, but also spiritually.  There’s an evolution of language, which makes it easier for native-English speakers to learn German instead of Spanish, French or Japanese.  English and German are “germanic languages,” while Spanish and French are both “romantic languages” and Japanese is an “altaic language.”  German and English are more closely related than the other forms.  English literally evolved from other languages, just as all languages evolve over time.

That’s why we have things like “old English” that is really hard for modern day speakers to read and understand, and we have “Brittish English” or “American Standard English” or “Southern American English” or “Valley English.”  There’s all different types of English throughout the world, and while they all sound similar and someone speaking “Brittish English” will probably be able to understand “Southern American English,” there are distinct differences.

The same is true when it comes to faith.  Our beliefs are constantly changing.  The stories we use to tell about the Gods are different from the stories we tell today.  Things are constantly in a state of change.  The old religions that pre-date Christianity are gone as they were.  There are plenty of revivals of these faith practices, but they’re only reconstructed from what we know of the past, and sometimes melded into something that will work with the present.  Christianity aligned holidays and some of their beliefs with the local traditions to make it easier for people to convert.  There’s a lot of information out there that suggests that Jesus was born in the summer or spring rather than the middle of winter.  The biggest part of that evidence being that Joseph and Mary traveled on the back of a mule and by foot to the land of Joseph’s family for the census.  The king wouldn’t have had people walk in the middle of the winter because it would have been too cold and too dangerous.

Coming up through the ages, we’ve seen Christianity take a strong hold on the world.  And while it’s not the majority worldwide, it is the largest practiced religion in the world.  It use to be, and to some extent still is, that the Bible is taken literally by people.  They have this belief that the world was created in seven days, that man did not evolve, and that a man survived three days in a large fish.  Traditional Christianity believes that everything in the Bible actually happened the exact way that it says it did, and nothing… not science or other view points… is going to change its mind.

We have, however, started to see the Christian faith evolve past that.  We’ve started seeing the emergence of what is being called “New Thought” Christianity, in which Jesus isn’t a savior that comes to give us everlasting life as long as we get saved and forgiven.  Jesus is seen more as a teacher or a person who shows us how we should act and treat others.  He’s a “way shower.”

UCG is what is known as one of these “New Thought” churches.  It’s not the only one, the first one or the last one, but it is one.  They teach that Jesus is one of many great teachers.  They incorporate a lot of traditional “pagan” elements into their services along with other faiths.  When Erin and I went to speak with our minister on Wednesday last week, we were going to talk about how to incorporate more Pagan elements into the service.  Really, we just wanted to know if there was an interest in the church.  I wanted to help others “get back to the Earth” in a way that helped them on their spiritual journey.  I took of my blogs for the minister to read if he wanted them, but I wasn’t really sure anything would come from it.

I thought, at most, he’d invite me to speak before the congregation once… or just ask others what they thought.

What ended up happening was an hour long, in depth spiritual conversation about Christianity and the Kemetic faith.  At the end of it, he invited me to design and lead a six week (or longer) class on the Kemetic faith and how people can use it in their every day life to grow spiritually themselves.  Right now, I’m trying to figure out what I want to talk about.  I want to make it practical, so I’m trying to figure out how to do that without being like, “And here’s some holidays.”

So I was thinking:

  • Week 1:  What is the Kemetic Faith (briefly); How is God defined; Relationships with the past;
  • Week 2:  The concepts of ma’at and isfet
  • Week 3: Heka
  • Week 4: The Negative Confessions, part 1
  • Week 5: The Negative Confessions, part 2
  • Week 6: Various stories of myth and how they can guide us in today’s world

If I gain a fairly regular following, the class can continue after the six weeks, so this is just a basic start.  Thoughts?  Suggestions?

 

Here’s The Thing About Faith…

The Gods will always provide for you when you need it.  Faith is knowing that statement is the TRUTH and will always be the TRUTH, no matter what.

Faith is knowing that love will always win.  Faith is knowing that we’re down to mere days or weeks before full marriage equality arrives in South Carolina.

Today is one of those days that when someone asks you about it years from now, you’ll be able to tell them…  I was teaching a biology lab when my phone started to vibrate repeatedly.  Thinking it was an emergency, I look down at my phone and see a text from my friend, “It’s happening!  It’s really happening!!”

My first thought is, “Oh, she must have gotten good information back from her doctor and she’ll be able to start trying for kids with her partner soon.”  But… just to make sure, I ask.   She replies with, “People are getting married in Charleston!  Marriage equality is here!!!”

What??  In South Carolina?  No way….

I was really, really shocked.  I’m still really, really shocked.  When Erin texted me later on, she said, “Want to get married???”  And then it hit me that the question was a legal question and not just a question out of love and devotion.  There’s a weight now with marriage that wasn’t there before.  I didn’t think I would feel…different… but I do.

We decided that we won’t be first out of the gate, and that we’ll wait until things settle and there’s a more definitive answer, but once marriage equality is legal, we’ll probably make our way down to the office.  We want our ceremony, but we want her on my health insurance and our future children to be covered and protected by a legal document.  It’s not about the ceremony right now… It’s about being safe and legal.

Faith is having the courage to speak up and then knowing that it will be okay in the end.  Erin and I were interviewed today by a local gay newspaper about our relationship and the effect of the marriage amendment and recent changes on our relationship.  We had the interview in the parking lot of our church over the phone with the editor, and he told us the article will probably be out tomorrow.  Faith is knowing that putting myself out there won’t have an affect on my personal life, but may help others in the process.  I look forward to reading it.

Faith is knowing the Gods will provide you with a safe community of like-minded individuals whom you can grow from and who will grow with you.  After church today, Erin and I sat down with our pastor and talked about Pagan and Kemetic beliefs for an hour.  I gave him some of my blogs for reading, which he thanked me for, and I’ve been invited to run a six-week class on the Kemetic faith at the church.  My next few days will be spent in prayer and contemplation while I try to figure out what to encompass in my six-week course and make sure that the Gods will always be honored in what I do and say.

And finally, faith is knowing that the Gods will always, always provide for your needs, no matter what.  A few weeks ago, Erin found out that she had been promoted from a line therapist to a lead therapist.  We weren’t allowed to say anything until everything had been announced through her work, but she finishes up her training tomorrow, so we’re in the all clear.  Not only will this be good for her by moving up through the company, giving her more experience and responsibility, but she’ll also get a substantial raise (potentially around $4/hour more than what she’s making now).

We may get challenges in our lives, but with faith, they will turn into the best blessings we’ve ever received.

My 100th Post!

I was going to make this a reflective post about “look how far I’ve come” and how wonderful my experience as a blogger has been… but something happened today, and it greatly affects me, and I need to talk about it.

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) refused to hear the pending cases on same-sex marriage from five different states.

Now, for those of you reading from outside of the States, let me explain really quick how the government works.  I’m not really sure how our country functions sometimes.  We have so much government that even our own citizens sometimes gets confused.  Each state has it’s own cities and counties.  They all have their own government.  The states then have a government that rules over the cities and counties.  Then, the states are grouped into circuits, and those circuits have a government that rules over all the different states in that circuit.  After that, our nation has a government, and at the top of that government is the Supreme Court.  Their word is law.  They have the absolute final say in all things.

There was a nationwide ban on same-sex marriage all across the country.  Little by little, each state was overthrowing these bans, but it was unequal everywhere.  People could be married in one state, move for job reasons, and suddenly not be married anymore.  Last year, SCOTUS overthrew part of DOMA (The Defense of Marriage Act), which said that the federal government wouldn’t discriminate against married people, no matter if it was same-sex or not.  Since that ruling last year, there has been a wide sweeping of states overthrowing their bans on same-sex marriage.

The case that affects me directly is Virginia.  I live in South Carolina, but Virginia and South Carolina share a commonality: We are both part of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.  There was a same-sex couple in SC who filed a law suit to have the ban overthrown.  That lawsuit was put on hold until the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on a case in Virginia.

The same thing that has happened everywhere happened in Virginia: a couple filed a lawsuit to get rid of the ban on same-sex marriage.  This ban was overthrown by a federal judge in Virginia.  Then it got appealed.  It went to the 4th Circuit where everyone watched and waited.  The 4th circuit said gay-marriage bans were unconstitutional, so you would think that marriage would start, right?  Wrong.  Virginia took it to SCOTUS.

In the mean time, SC is sitting back and waiting to see how all this unfolds.  Whatever the 4th Circuit says applies to us too.  If they say to get rid of the ban, we have to get rid of the ban… but with everything on hold, we just sat around and waited.

Until today.

Until SCOTUS came back and said, “Shut up, sit down, and listen to what you’ve already been told.  We’re not taking these cases, and the rulings on them stand.  Get over it.”

This means that marriage is immediately legal in Virginia.  It means that it’s immediately legal in the other four states.  It means that the 4th Circuit’s ruling stands.

It means that South Carolina can’t say no.  It means that the same-sex marriage ban in South Carolina has a time limit on it and it’s about to expire.

 

 

It means “I might be able to get legally married at my wedding” just became “I will be able to get legally married at my wedding.” 

The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

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The Rules:

Thank the blogger who nominated you providing links back to their website.
Display the logo on your blog.
Answer the ten questions set for you.
Make up ten questions for your nominees.
Nominate ten people.

Thank You to The Raven and The Oak for the nomination!  I, honestly, haven’t read your blog.  I think you followed me and I never got the notification for it; however, I fully plan on correcting that horrible error because you are a pagan blogger who is making waves.  I love seeing teachers and those who are always pushing forward, and just from what I’ve seen so far, you are definitely one of those people.  Thank you so much for nominating me!

  1. How do you express yourself?

    Through word.  I’m a horrible speaker.  I say “um” a lot.  I stumble over what I want to say and when I want to say it.  I struggle finding the language I need to get my point across.  But when I write, I tend to find the words I need.  Maybe it’s because I get the chance to think before “speaking” more so than if I’m in the midst of it all.  Maybe it’s because I can edit and go back and reread.  Whatever it is, I express myself through my writing, through this blog and my other one.

  2. What is your best memory?

    The day my parents dropped me off for college, my dad pulled me aside after I hugged my mom and family goodbye.  He hugged me and said, “I am so proud of you, and I love you very much.  I know you are going to do great in college.”  Then, he handed me a $100 bill and said, “This is for an emergency.  Keep it in your wallet and if you ever get into a situation where you need to get out and you can’t, you call a taxi and you use this money.  I want you to be safe, and I want you to know that we will always have your back, even if we aren’t physically here.”  I still have that $100 bill.

  3. What place have you not yet visited though you really wish you could?

    There are so many places that I want to see but haven’t yet: Hawaii, Niagara Falls, Russia, Egypt, Greece, Ireland, Scotland, Japan….  Some are more likely to happen sooner rather than later (Hawaii, Niagara Falls, Europe, Japan).  Some may never happen for safety reasons: Egypt and Russia.  There’s a lot of unrest in some parts of the world, and I don’t want to get mixed up in all of it.  My sister is in Japan (so we could easily visit her), Niagara falls is not far from where Erin’s family lives, and we’re thinking about Hawaii or Europe for our honeymoon.  So excited! :)

  4. What is your soul food?

    This is going to sound so weird, but Asian food.  I love Asian food.  I think I could eat it every day and not get food bored.  Whenever I feel bad and want to “splurge,” I’ll go after some egg rolls or sushi.  Yummy!!

  5. Who is your hero?

    My brother.  My brother has had a very difficult life.  He’s struggled through school and learning basic things that come naturally to everyone.  He’s had major brain surgery and major chest surgery, but through all of his struggles, he continues to be upbeat.  He is the definition of what humanity should aspire to be, and when things get bad, I think about how he would react.  I realize, he would bounce back quick and keep moving forward, so I try to do the same.

  6. If you could travel to any fantasy realm, what would it be and why?

    Storybrooke, Maine.  I would love to live in Once Upon a Time.  OH!  OR I would love to live in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender/Legend of Korra.  That would be amazing.  I would love to have the powers they have and see how they interact with the world and be able to interact with the world in those ways.  So awesome!!!

  7. What might the soundtrack of your life sound like?

    Dubstep, mixed with slow, haunting classical.  Lots of violin.  There would be wave after wave of energizing, positive sounds with the occasional relaxation, slower tune.  

  8. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

    I would make mainstream-faith compatible with life.  I would take all the negativity surrounding faith and belief systems and religions and turn it all positive.  I would make it so that everyone worked towards the betterment of man and society in general, rather than working against each other for their own personal gains.

  9. What would you say to your younger self?

    Say no, but if you don’t… Don’t stress…  But if you can’t help but stress, then just remember that it will get better.

  10. What is your life motto?

    With faith, all things are possible.  The Gods are always watching out for Their children, and with constant, unwavering faith, all will turn out the way it should.

Ten questions for my nominees:

  1. Why is your favorite color, your favorite color?
  2. What experience in your life has changed you the most?
  3. What is the worst advice you were ever given?
  4. If you could change one thing from your past, what would you change and why?
  5. What is your dream job?
  6. If you could live anywhere on the planet, where would you live and why?
  7. What is one thing you wish you could get rid of?
  8. What is the best advice you were ever given?
  9. How do you sleep at night?
  10. Do you have any pets?

Nominations:  I don’t think I can do ten, but I’ll try.

One Lovely Blog Award

onelovelyblogawardx4See?  I promise I didn’t forget!!

I was nominated by fellow blogger, Sammie, over at The Chronicles Of A Non-Belly Mama!  She said the absolute most wonderful things about my blog, so I’m going to repost: “Kel is one of those writers that makes you feel things.  Every time something goes on in her life, I go through the emotions with her and E.  I’d be lying if when I read her engagement post, I didn’t lay in bed and tear up through the whole thing.  Through their process of trying to adopt and things going a bit amiss, they support each other and continue to stay positive and will possibly be starting their own TTC journey soon…can’t wait to read about that!”  Hey Sammie, you aren’t the only one tearing up after reading something someone else wrote!  Thank you so much!!

  1. List the rules. Check!
  2. Thank your nominator.   I think I already did this, but I’ll do a better job.  Sammie, thank you so much for nominating me and being around.  You’re posts have been inspirational, supportive, and overall amazing.  I’ve enjoyed reading about your journey and experiencing all of your ups and downs with you.  You have made me laugh and get excited and been a welcomed oasis to the crazy and negative things happening all around Erin and I.  So thank you for nominating me, but also, thank you for being you.
  3. List seven (7) facts about yourself.

    1) There is a zoo living in my house.  My family has always had cats.  I grew up with cats, loved cats, and knew that when I moved out, I would want cats.  I, however, also loved all kinds of other animals, so when I originally moved out, I had a rabbit (Dallas).  Eventually, I ended up with another rabbit (Saratoga) and a hamster (Austin).  Saratoga was rehomed before I moved to Massachusetts, and Dallas and Austin have both died.  Now, my mom loved calico cats, so when I decided to get a cat, I got a calico cat because I knew my mom couldn’t get mad at me for getting a cat if she was calico.  I named her Tori.  Then my roommates moved out and couldn’t take their cat with them, so I got Q-Tip.  Then, when I moved to Massachusetts, my ex found a kitten, who we named Apollo.  After moving back, we got Halo, and then Erin and I adopted Raine from off the streets.  If you lost track, that’s five cats.  Somewhere in that mix, I got Yukon, my dog, and Erin got Bentley (so two dogs).  Then a student gave me her ferret, and we adopted two rats.  So currently, in our house, Erin and I have five cats, two dogs, two rats and a ferret.  I think we spend more money on pet food than on our own food.

    2) I am in the on-off process of writing a novel.  It’s about a girl who believes she’s the only remaining survivor of a worldwide pandemic and it chronicles her journey to leave her home to find a better place.  I started it over a year ago, wrote myself into a corner, and I’m still trying to figure out how to get out of it again.  Also, I have very little time to write… except for blogs.  Erin’s getting upset about it.

    3) Erin is my third fiance.  I guess third time’s a charm, right?  The first girl I was engaged to was named Nikki.  She and I were sweethearts in college.  We were way too young and moved way too fast.  Neither of us were ready for the serious commitment of a relationship like that.  It ended poorly, and I moved back to South Carolina from North Carolina.  The second person I was engaged to was Kody.  We moved to Massachusetts, had a lot of problems, and moved back in hopes that being closer to family and friends would make our relationship better, but it didn’t.  And now, I’m engaged to Erin, and I couldn’t be happier!

    4) I completed one of my life career goals in two years after graduating and finding a job.  When I was in college, I said that if I ever teach high school, that I would want to teach Genetics to high school kids because it was so fascinating and important to the future of medicine and science.  When I got to where I currently work, I started working on getting a Genetics class into the school.  The county offered it, and it made the next year.  I’ve worked my butt off the last two years to make this into a growing and competitive program at the school that the kids enjoy taking and learn a lot in, and I’ve gotten very little negative feedback.

    5) I am working on bringing more interfaith dialogue to my church, along with more inclusive events for people in the mid-to-late 20’s.  I’ve been talking to my minister about teaching a class on different faith backgrounds in such a way that it helps to expand and move people forward on their own spiritual journeys.  We’re hopefully going to meet on Friday to discuss details.  I’m also helping to plan a group for people who are in their 20’s to 30’s to meet and hang out and learn from each other.  I’m really looking forward to getting more involved in this spiritual community!

    6) I wish I read more than I do.  I realize that if I didn’t work as much as I do and then have to go home and grade and possibly sleep, that I would have more time to read, but I wish, desperately, that I had more time to read.  I love reading.  I love reading fiction and non-fiction alike.  I’m not a huge fan of smutty-romance novels, but other than that… It’s one of my goals to read all of Jane Austen’s books, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.  I’ve started Sense and Sensibility, but I haven’t finished it… And I haven’t picked it up in a long time.  I miss reading.  Like, a lot.

    7) I’ve been using an app on my phone to track my walking… on an “average” day, I’m walking nearly four miles.  I feel pretty good about that.  I’m trying to get my health back into my control like it was this time last year, so I’m trying to move more, eat better and be more positive.  I’ve lost another 1.5lbs in the last week!

  4. Nominate 15 other bloggers and let them know you did.

To all my lovely TTC blogging ladies out there: you have been so supportive and informative while Erin and I walked through this journey with the failed adoption and now with the beginning steps towards trying to conceive our own child.  Thank you so much for all the love and support you have given us in the last few weeks and thank you ahead of time for all the love and support I know you’ll continue to give.  I’ve enjoyed and continue to enjoy reading about your journeys.  I have learned so much from all of you!

To all of my lovely Pagan bloggers out there:  You all are the examples of why I began blogging in the first place.  I wanted a place to go where I could connect with people of similar spiritual backgrounds, to grow spiritually and learn more about other paths as I did so.  Thank you so much for teaching me so much about your faiths, your lives, and everything else.  You all have definitely helped me on my own journey!

 

Blog Awards!

I have been nominated for two different blog awards by two different bloggers, and I promise that I have not forgotten or have not disappeared from this place.  I will hopefully get to the awards tomorrow!  Promise!!!

On Being Open

I’ve been given a great honor in the church that Erin and I attend: I am teaching Sunday School to the elementary children three times a quarter (I’m part of the rotation).  My Sunday rotation came up this past Sunday, and it was an interesting experience.

First of all, Unity, the church we attend, calls itself a “practical Christianity” place of worship.  They believe that there is one all powerful higher being (whom they call the “Mother-Father God”) and that Jesus is a way-shower, a great teacher, and not necessarily the son of God who died for our sins and salvation.  They are welcoming and affirming to all families and all spiritual paths, as they believe that all spiritual paths lead to the same end (a spiritual and divine connection with the Mother-Father God and peace).

Before we started attending there, we made sure to e-mail the minister and ask if we would be welcomed, and he welcomed us with open arms.  Since then, Erin and I have taken active roles in the church.  She’s volunteering in the back doing technology for the service, and I am volunteering in the Sunday School classrooms.  They send the lessons out the Wednesday before service so that we can read over everything and figure out what we want to say.

This lesson was one in a series on healing.  How appropriate.

I was actually really nervous about volunteering with the kids because of what it might bring up for me.  I think Erin was concerned too because she kept asking if I was okay.  I’m exhausted, but okay.

The lesson talked about how the people would bring the sick and dying to Jesus, and how he would lay his hands on them, and they would be healed.  It talked about how we have these abilities too if we are in touch with the divine spiritual energy given to us by the Mother-Father God.  Jesus acted as a conduit of this divine energy, and how all can be healed by these higher powers, and how we can heal ourselves and others with them as well.  We may not be able to lay our hands on a blind man so that he can see again, but we can surely use our hands to help those that need it.

I started the lesson with a simple question:  “Can anyone tell me who Jesus is?”

No response.

These children were one of two things: Incredibly shy and unsure of themselves OR they legitimately had no idea who Jesus was.

So I continued, “Jesus was a man who lived a long, long time ago.  The Bible tells us all about his life and what he did and how he helped people.  He had these special abilities, and people from all over the lands would bring their sick and dying to him.  He would lay his hand on them, pray, and they would be healed.”

I told the kids all about how they and those around them have the ability to heal others.  “Have you ever fallen down and gotten a kiss from your mom or dad and it made everything all better?”  Oh yes, everyone has experienced those magical kisses.  “Well, you can make others and yourself feel all better too.  You just have to make a choice to be happy and help others.”

We then colored a meditation mandala for healing, and I got the chance to really talk to the kids and get to know them.  And overall, I had a lot of fun.

The question I’ve been asking myself is: how can I, as a Pagan, teach these young children about Jesus, a prominent individual in Christianity?  There’s been a lot of talking in the blogosphere over time about “Can you be a Christian and a Pagan?”  The answers are, like always, mixed.  I do not, at all, consider myself to be a Christian.  I recognize Jesus and the Christian God as deities, but not as the deities that I worship.  I view Jesus as I view all deities that aren’t part of my direct line to the divine: as great teachers.

On the one hand, some people might say that I shouldn’t be attending a Christian church because it “gives aid to the enemy, to a deity who would rather see me dead.”  And this opinion makes a lot of sense if we’re talking about traditional Christianity.  I don’t think you can be a traditional Christian and Pagan at the same time, as “witchcraft” is seen as evil and worshiping any other Gods is frowned upon.

But Christianity is evolving, and the “New Thought” revival that is happening is bringing with it a lot of new ways of thinking, such as Unity Thought and Creation Spirituality.  These traditions blend other faiths into their Christianity and make it more accessible to others.  They’re bringing the love of that God first.

However, with the split that’s happening with this New Thought revival, I’m starting to wonder if the Christian God isn’t becoming more of two separate deities rather than just the one.

This higher power… This Netjer… This Mother-Father God…  Is completely and totally beyond our human comprehension.  I always like to tell people to think of the most vast thing they can think of and think of something even greater.  If your brain doesn’t trip out, push past that.  And keep pushing until your brain literally can’t handle it anymore.  The higher power… that connects everything known in the universe and beyond… is past that.

Think about it: if you were a higher power that connected everything in the universe to everything else, you would need to be greater than everything.  You would HAVE to be beyond comprehension.  All of these faces or names that we give to this higher power are just our human ways of understanding a deity that we can’t understand.  A lot people, atheists especially, will be the first to tell you that God is man-made, and I will respond to that accusation with this: Yes and No.

These higher powers as we know them are “man-made” if you look at it from a purely human perspective, but if we add into the idea that this higher power literally touches and is a part of and connects every tiny particle in the entire universe, then nothing is really “man-made,” including these names that we give to the divine.   They are our way of finding understanding for a being and a power that we can’t understand and probably will never be able to understand.

This is why I say that the Christian God is splitting.  On the one hand, we have the God of the literal Bible: the one who calls for people to kill their children as an act of faith.  The one who sent his only son to the Earth to minister, heal, and eventually die.  The one who cursed all of humanity with sin because two people broke the rules… the God of the Fall and Redemption and fear and control.  And on the other hand, we have the God of the metaphorical Bible.  The God of creation, of love, and of peace.  The God that sent Jesus as a child of his to minister, heal, and show the way that all people should treat others and behave.  The God that doesn’t frown against the sinner or the heathen for they do or do not do.

The more and more that I hear about Christianity, the more and more that I keep seeing it polarize.  So my question is, if people say you can’t be a Christian and a Pagan, which version of Christianity are we talking about?  Because while I understand and even agree that the traditional version of Christianity is not welcoming to Pagans, the more New Thought version of Christianity isn’t as black and white.  I really think the Christian God is being split into two different deities by His followers.  It’s really fascinating to watch this happen.

So when I teach these kids about Jesus, I’m not worshiping another deity or betraying my Gods and my faith.  I’m teaching these kids about a radical man who loved all people and wanted everyone to do the same.

Taking the Time for Prayer

“I know everything happens for a reason, but I don’t understand why this one happened.”

This isn’t as easy as we thought it was going to be.  I know we were expecting for the adoption to fall through, and maybe that’s why it did.  Maybe our negative energy and thoughts surrounding this situation made the situation change.  Or maybe it’s because the birth mother, someone who was my friend, is immature and doesn’t know how to handle adult situations like an adult.  Maybe it’s because she has no clue what she’s doing, and we just got caught in the crossfire.

I cried on the phone to my mom for almost 30 minutes.  She kept telling me over and over and over that this wasn’t my fault, but I couldn’t help but feel like I could have done something differently… Maybe said something different… or backed off… maybe…  maybe… maybe…

There is nothing that we did wrong.  There is nothing we could have done to change this situation.  And now there is a baby who will never know how much we loved him or wanted him, who will grow up probably never knowing that we existed or what we did or sacrificed for him, who will live in potentially unhealthy situations…  And I hate it.  I hate every part of this situation.

“I don’t understand why this one happened.”

That was Erin’s mantra for Saturday, Sunday, and most of Monday.  “I don’t understand.”

I’ve gotten so frustrated with people saying this is fate, or that it was just supposed to happen, and I don’t understand why she can’t just be an ass for doing this the way she did.  There have been so many well meaning people telling us to “perk up” and “not be so gloom and doom,” but they don’t understand what it feels like to lose a child.  I’ve been trying to excuse it, but I’ve really just stopped talking to everyone right now.

But I think I’m starting to understand why this happened.  I think it was to wake us up.

I think it was to wake us up to each other, to our future, to the Gods.  I think this situation woke us up to each other so that we can learn better to lean on each other in hard times, and work through difficult situations as a team.  It’s teaching us that we are strong.  We are powerful, and when we lean on each other, we can weather any storm that comes at us.  We are taking time to comfort each other, and talk, and be in the moment with each other.  We’re getting back to us.

I think this situation has made us realize that it’s time.  It’s time to start seriously thinking about our future, whether it’s a child or a wedding next, we haven’t decided.  We desperately want to have children, so I think that will probably be our next step.  This failed adoption woke us up to that realization that kids are something we want, and soon.  It’s time for us to start trying, but not until we’ve had enough time to properly heal.

I think we’ve been woken up to the awesome power of the Gods.  Through all the dark stuff that’s happened in the last two weeks, we have had a wonderful and amazing couple of things happen that have gotten us into a better place than we were before.  I’ve realized that it’s not just good enough to pray to the Gods when times are bad, but that it’s important to remember to pray when times are good.

We have to be thankful.  We have to be humble.  We have to be welcoming to the changes and blessings that are to come.

Currently, we are not fantastic.  We are okay, and we will be better.  But through everything, our faith is strong, our faith is strengthened, and we are, as always, thankful for the blessings that we receive.

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