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I’m Beyond Ready…

… For the end of the school year. 

I spent the last two days finishing up the invitations to the wedding.  I can now happily report that they are ready to be mailed out TOMORROW!! We wrote 81 invitations, but all but maybe two or three are for at least two people. I think our head count is at 160 right now if everyone shows up, and we’re catering a buffet dinner with an open bar, so that’s pushing the limit of what is affordable. 

This process (and those of you here that read my other blog know the whole back story) has made me realize that I’m a lot like my mom. When we were going through everything and talking about the arch we’re having made for the ceremony, the designer kept talking about twigs and branches on it….

And I was like “nope.”  I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what my issue was with it until recently: it was too country. And I am NOT a country gal, just like my mom (even though she was raised on a farm, she’s sooooo not country).

So the invitations are going out tomorrow. Erin is taking them to the post office to have them weighed a second time just to be sure and then they’re off!! They’re so pretty. We gave some out by hand already and everyone kept bragging about how nice they were. And we’ve started getting response cards back already (everyone’s a yes so far!).

Shit is getting real, y’all. Everything is coming together. Everything is paid for. I have no idea what our budget looks like, but I know we have to be around the $22,000 mark, for real. Or we probably will be by the end of it since my mom upped the dinner package to the next level at the tasting. 

My cousin got the bridal shower invitation list, so we have that to look forward to at the end of May. I think it’s a “stock the kitchen” party, so that’ll be fun. And my Aunt (other side) got the bridal party luncheon list, and she wrote me back today saying my other cousins had been visiting that week and were helping her plan it. We still need to figure out the rehearsal dinner because half our people are from out of town, and I feel like that’s a lot of people to invite. 

My mom’s all about formality, so all the out of towners get invites to it. 

In other news, I was scrolling through Facebook and saw where my local news station posted an article about the woman who used a turkey baster and a known donor to get pregnant and the donor sued and got partial custody because “medical instruments” (aka, a doctor and a proper facility) wasn’t used. 

She said that they had a verbal agreement about how things would be and then they fought over the baby’s name…

I’m sorry, but that woman and anyone else who uses a known donor in the privacy of their own home without prior legal paperwork done up by a lawyer is an idiot and asking for trouble. She didn’t think he’d be involved? They verbally agreed?

Whatever. I don’t care how much my “known donor” (which we thought about having one, we’re talking to a guy who is an awesome friend of ours, then decided against it to protect him and us) says he’s okay with not being involved, if that’s what he says, I would pay the lawyer whatever I needed to just to be on the safe side. Why would ANYONE EVER put their family at risk like that??

In home stuff starts blurring lines without a lawyer. So and so could come back and claim different things went down and then it’s my word against his, and his DNA is half my kid, so it looks pretty damning to me. So foolish. So stupid. 

“Maybe she couldn’t afford the lawyer.” Then maybe she shouldn’t have had kids with that guy. If you can’t legally protect your family and you decide to have your family anyway, you deserve every fucked up thing that happens to you. 

We use a bank because they take care of legalities for us. And we use a doctor for added protection (and for fertility reasons) since they’re the only ones a court would consider in the whole “medical tools” bit or whatever. 

I’m sorry, but protect your family. No excuses. That story just got me fired up. 

69 Days… TeeHeeHee

The end of the school year is so unbelievably stressful.  There’s so much going on (and to top it all of, I’ve been sick for a week and now have laryngitis worse than I’ve ever had it before), and now that I’m the Youth Education Coordinator for Unity Church, there’s even more going on.  Right now, I’m in the middle of finishing up all the stuff I need to finish up with my Biology classes so that we can get into review mode for their final, which is at the end of May.  Totally freaked about how soon it is.  So on top of making sure they are ready and making sure I have enough grades, I’m also doing lesson plans every week for Unity for the elementary school kids.

I need to get ahead on those too, because I won’t be around a whole lot in June (wedding) and July (honeymoon).

Speaking of wedding planning, we’re 69 days away from the big day!!  It’s really hard to believe that we’ve manage to get everything planned out the way that we want it to be planned out in just six-ish short months.  Originally, we wanted a fall wedding because we wanted it to be outside when it wasn’t so hot.  We were thinking over labor day weekend, but then we decided Thanksgiving would give us more time to plan and more people would have the time off.

But my mom said that my sister might not be able to get both that and Christmas as times to come back here from Japan, so we changed the date… and we kept backing it up until we reached June.  I’m glad we didn’t go with Labor Day weekend, though, because my cousin got engaged and September 5th is her wedding day!  I’m super excited about going to that one with my wife when the time comes.  Also, I found out that a friend of mine from high school is also getting married on that day, so it turned out to be a popular day for weddings!  Fall usually is.

IMG_8815

We split our invitation list into “locals” and “out-of-towners.” The list in front of me is only one of those lists….

Anyway, we are having a summer wedding in 69 days, and it’s absolutely unreal the amount of work and planning and time that it takes to get everything done.  Every time we turn around there’s one more thing we have to do.  For example, our save the dates went out to out of towners awhile back so that they would have the wedding website address… Next week, we send out our INVITATIONS!  So guess what I’ve been doing the last two or so weeks?  ADDRESSING THEM!

We used WeddingPaperDivas.com for our wedding invitations.  They’re amazing, and they even specialized ours more than they had too.. We wanted different colors than they offered and we wanted them upside down… Then they went through and changed all the sons and hes to daughters and shes, so it worked out really well.  I highly recommend them.

I’ve also handed out quite a few invitations to local friends that I see on a regular basis and we’ve already gotten response cards for a lot of them: all of them are yeses!  Every time I see that little card in the mail, I think about how shit’s getting real!

My dress should be coming in early next month so that I can do my first fitting.  I’m so nervous about it fitting properly!  Erin’s dress is already in and perfect.  She didn’t need any alterations, so my mom picked it up and hid it in their house.

What else have we done?  We ordered the guest party favors.  They’re little votive holders with our names and wedding date on them.  We’re going to get vanilla scented candles to go in them because the vanilla candle story is how I found out that Erin liked me in a “more than friends” kind of way.  She’d gone way out of her way to find me a woodwick candle (my fav) in vanilla (also my fav) as a housewarming gift, and I was so happy and internally upset because she was “so amazing” and I was all like, “why, why, why doesn’t this perfect girl LIKE ME like I LIKE HER!  This is soooo unfair.

That was the first night she spent the night (on the couch, her choice because she didn’t want to move too fast), and we shared our first kiss.  I was on cloud nine and smiled myself to sleep that night.  Hard to believe that was my first kiss with my future wife!!! Not that I’m excited or anything.

We also had our cake tasting with our baker this past week. We’re doing a four tiered cake… with vanilla buttercream icing and a green strip of fondant around the base of each tier… Then there’s dark purple sqiggles in five different spots where we’ll put fresh calla lillies (the flower of our wedding).  The bottom layer is lemon, and then the one above is key lime, then lemon again, and key lime on top.  We’re not saving our top layer… From all reports, they end up pretty gross by the first anniversary.

Instead, our baker does “Anniversary Cakes” where they will remake the top tier for us at a discounted price.  It’s apparently a new trend, so that’ll be fantastic. :)

Today we took all our “Bridesmen” and my dad’s measurements to the tux rental place and got them reserved.  My dad will have to go over there sometime soonish to get his coat size measured (because we just went off what we had, and that wasn’t enough, apparently).  They’re medium gray with white shirts.  Erin’s guys have an emerald vest, tie, and pocket square.  My guys have a plum vest, tie, and pocket square.

All of our bridesmaids except for one of mine have their dresses now too.  My last girl is going to go get hers next week.  I may have to harass her and remind her every day until she does.  We’re getting so close to crunch time!

We finished the ceremony and sent it to our minister, who wrote me back and said he was super excited about being there.

We still have to figure out the videographer.  My parents aren’t sure about the price tag for the entire day ($1,350), but I told them that all we really wanted was the ceremony because we’re dancing into and out of it.  We’ll see what they say.  They said they had to look at the budget.  I’m not terribly worried.

Funny side track:

I was talking to my mom the other day about how insanely busy wedding planning is making me and how I don’t understand why there’s all this stuff that goes along with it.  She laughed and said, “What did you expect?”

I said, “I don’t know, something simpler?  I mean, I’m not complaining but it’s just all a bit overwhelming sometimes.  You get to a point where you can’t invite everyone and so you think about who will or won’t be offended by a lack of invite, and then you wonder if you should cut others to make sure.”

She laughed again, “This is what y’all signed up for!”

I said, “I guess I’m not really surprised, I am a H**** after all and we don’t do anything less than extravagant.”

We still have a long list of things to do… Erin and I both need our accessories for our dresses.  We have to buy our bridal party gifts.  We have to get our wedding rings.  We need to go through our DJ request list and the long list of questions that the photographer sent us about what we were doing and who all was going to be there…. And once we get responses back, we have to finalize the meal, get our seating chart together, and do 500 other things, I’m sure.

Sorry for this post being some sort of long ramble.  I know it’s not spiritual based, but I just wanted to talk about everything we’d accomplished so I didn’t feel so bad about sleeping and being laid up for the last almost week from this stupid sinus infection that has escalated into my throat and lungs…  Writing it out helps. Tootles!

So Many Emotions

I did last night what I’ve been doing for the last few days: scrolled my way through Tori’s Facebook page looking for updates.  Many of the posts had changed from “praying for you” to “don’t give up,” and finally I found what I was looking for: she’d been taken off life support sometime earlier in the day.

I went to bed unsure of what to expect or what to feel, but when I woke up, the first thing I did was check Facebook, and before I even got to her page I saw it: the mutual friend, one of many, posting a picture of her with “rest in peace friend, you’ll be missed.”

She’s gone.

I don’t know how I feel right now.  I feel a mix of a lot of things.

I feel sad.  Sad for my friends who knew her better than me.  Sad for her family, her wife and her children, who lost an integral part to their support system.  When I think about what they’re going through, I have to think about what my life would be like if I lost Erin in a similar way, and it makes me instantly start crying and wanting to force her to go to the doctor and have every inch of her checked over for cancer at least once a month.

I feel angry.  It’s not fair.  It’s not fair that someone so young, so happy, so loving, got taken from this world and from everyone who cared about her.  She got taken before she could so many things.  She got taken before many people got to say goodbye.  It’s not fair.  It’s maddening, really.  What’s the sense in it?

I feel confused.  How is this possible?  She was fine less than a week ago.  The doctors said she was going to live.  They said she was treatable… so how is it that we’re less than a week from when she was healthy and laughing and herself to this… I feel like something had to be missed.  I feel like something wasn’t done when it should have been done.

This is so ridiculous, but the only thing I can think of right now is Anya’s speech on Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Buffy’s mother, Joyce, dies.  She says, “I don’t understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she’s- There’s just a body, and I don’t understand why she just can’t get back in it and not be dead anymore. It’s stupid. It’s mortal and stupid. And-and Xander’s crying and not talking, and-and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch ever, and she’ll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why.”

I’m so sorry… I’m sorry for all the pain that everyone is in right now…  I’m sorry I didn’t go out to South 29 that night to see her… I’m sorry that I can’t make this better… I want so much to make this better… It sucks.

All of this sucks.

It just sucks.

No More Excuses – Conversations with Jesus

I’ve been struggling with a blog the last few days about some stuff that I’ve been going through spiritually.

I have always believed that there is one universal creative power.  I call this power Netjer; others call this power God; others call it spirit.  Whatever this power is called, it is infinite and good and loving.  All the names that we give to this power don’t matter.  They all go back up to this one power.

How we interact with this power is extremely personal, and it changes over time.  This power will reach out to us and connect to us in different ways.

When I was younger, Bastet reached out to me in a time of need.  I had an experience where I felt her physically there in the form of a giant black cat.  I was laying on my bed, petting her as she purred.  I felt her silky fur on my hand, the muscles under her skin.  It was an extremely vivid and real experience to me.  That’s how I knew I was chosen by her.  It wasn’t the thoughts I had, it was the physical experience I had with her.  She provided me with protection and love and guidance from a divine source in a way that I had never experienced.  As I grew, so did my Kemetic faith.  I became strong in my belief as a Kemetic.

I still am.

One of the things I’ve really struggled with over the last few years is to reconcile my Christian background with my present self.  I was deeply, deeply hurt by a faith that condemned me to eternal torture.  I couldn’t understand why these people would profess a God of love but spew such hatred… or why a God would create a child so inherently wrong that He would basically allow a child to be born so that it could die.

I met a lot of Christians who had different beliefs than the gays are going to hell bit, but they all believed in this “Savior or Die” dogma that I couldn’t get on board with.  The pain I felt at the betrayal I’d experienced wasn’t something that was easily going to go away with some nice words and a band-aid.

I think all of this really, honestly, started three years ago when I had a very specific conversation with a coworker.  I’ve kept going back to this conversation in my mind the last month…

We were standing in the hall.  I think we were both had planning at that point.  She mentioned how she didn’t plan on teaching for her entire life, but wanted to stay until her kids were out of high school.  I told her I wasn’t sure if I wanted to teach forever either and how I had thought about attending seminary.

“There’s a Pagan seminary in Columbia.”

“There’s a… a what?  What??”

“A Pagan seminary?  I thought you knew… When M*** always jokes about my broom or calls me witchy-poo… I thought…”

“I thought he was just kidding!  I didn’t realize that was true!  I mean… what in the world?  Is that how you were raised?”

“No, I was raised Presbyterian, but they turned out to be really mean when I turned out to be gay.”

“Kel, you know that’s not what Christianity is about.  People get it wrong all the time.

“Yeah, I realize…”

I’m going to pray for you.

I’m pretty sure she added in some other stuff about praying that I find my way back, but I don’t remember that for sure.  I started to stop listening because at the time, this conversation really hurt.  I felt unsupported, which is how I originally felt when my church became no longer my home, so the conversation originally just perpetuated how I felt about Christianity and Christians.  It was really upsetting.  I don’t think we talked for the rest of the day.

Then, jump ahead to last year, the adoption happened, and Erin and I wanted to find a spiritual home that we could raise our future son in.  We’d been attending the Unitarian Universalist church in the area, but it wasn’t spiritual enough for us.  We wanted to pray to our Gods… we wanted to feel connected to that divine energy… and we definitely weren’t getting it there.

So I set out to find us a new home, which is how we came across Unity.  They called themselves a progressive, practical Christian church, but their beliefs mirrored our own, so I e-mailed the minister and asked him if we would be welcomed openly as Pagans.  He wrote us back and said we weren’t the first pagans in the church.

We started attending, and we haven’t stopped going since.  They were there for us when the adoption fell through and rocked us to our core.  They were there for us when we got engaged and celebrating.  They were there for us when we wanted to get involved and welcomed me to teach a class on the Kemetic faith.  And now they embrace me as the Youth Education Coordinator.

The Youth Education Coordinator.  It’s my job to write all the lesson plans for the different classes.  We’re working on the preschool program and starting up a middle school classroom.  It’s a lot of work, but I’m enjoying it.  As the YEC, I’ve had to really start doing something I hadn’t ever done before: study the Bible.

I’ve been given permission to teach the kids whatever I want to teach them.  I can teach them about different religions, not just Christianity, which is my plan, but I’m starting with the Bible since it’s what the church mainly teaches from, even if it isn’t really used a whole, whole lot.

My first month taking over just happened to be Easter.  And it was all about Jesus and his crucifixion and how he became spiritually whole through his death, so I’ve been studying this now for an entire month, and on Easter… I had a huge revelation, and I posted the following status on Facebook:

“As much as I grew up in the church, I never knew much about the death of Jesus and his resurrection other than his death happened so that we would be saved from eternal damnation. He was the savior of mankind, sent here by the God of the Bible to make sure all of humanity had a chance or opportunity to live forever in the kingdom of heaven. I grew up learning that to be a Christian, I had to believe that Jesus died for my sins and accept him as my savior.

And I did. For awhile. Until I realized a part of myself that didn’t sit well with the majority. I came out, preaching love and acceptance of all people to a world that saw my words and actions as deviant and would have me condemned for it. So I turned away from that faith and that belief that I grew up in and suddenly realized was filled with so many people who got it all wrong, and found my new spiritual home where I was welcomed and celebrated and loved like I thought and believed I deserved to be.

Once I healed, I finally found it in myself to actually go back and read and research and understand. And I found it in myself to forgive those that spoke against me because they didn’t know what they were doing. They were just doing and saying what they thought was right because that’s the way it had always been.

And in doing so, I feel new. I feel joy. It’s a deep joy, like an ocean of clouds and comfort that I could wrap myself in forever and never feel alone or sad or depressed or hurt ever again.

At one point, Jesus was talking to those who believed as the majority believed at the time. He said, “You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one” (John 8:15, ESV). He healed those no one would touch. Forgave those no one wanted anything to do with. He fed those that were hungry. He preached in the sermon on the mount that those that were persecuted for righteousness’ sake were blessed (Matthew 5:10).

And the people hated him so much that they called for his arrest and death. For no other reason than he believed differently than they did and they didn’t like it… Because that was the way it had always been.

He preached love, and acceptance, and understanding, and healing. He took care of those no one else wanted to take care of…

…And they killed him for it…

But just before his death, he asked for the forgiveness of all those that spoke against him because “they know not what they do.” And he was reborn into a fully healed spiritual being.

I find myself as a gay pagan woman living in the South relating more to Jesus now than I ever did when I was a Christian.”

And it was the next day that I noticed it…

There was a physical presence standing behind my right shoulder.  Occasionally, this presence would reach out and touch my shoulder.  It felt taller than me.. maybe 5-foot-9.  It was male.  And it wasn’t scary.  I didn’t pay it much attention because I had a lot of things going on.  It didn’t really seem upset or anything that I was ignoring it, but it definitely didn’t go away either.

Finally, I reached out to this energy with my own, “Hello?  Can I help you?”

“Yes.  Thank you.  I don’t really have anything that I need help with, but I just wanted you to know that I’m here.  I don’t want you to think that my presence here is in any way threatening.  I don’t expect or want you to forsake the Gods that have loved and protected you for many years, but I want you to know that they’re not the only ones out here anymore.”

“Who are you?”

“I think you know who I am.  I think you’ve known since I first showed up.  There’s a lot of people out there who don’t understand me, and they say a lot of things about me that aren’t true.  But I know that you understand me.  I know you understand the purpose of my life, and why I died.”

At that point, I felt my breath get caught in my throat.  Ever seen a movie or a TV show where someone is so super cocky about their life and then that one person shows up that they didn’t see or expect to see and that reaction that they always seem to have?  That’s how I felt right then.

I think he felt my panic.  “It’s okay.  I’m not coming to you to take over.  You don’t have to convert as people would say.  I’m not the savior everyone makes me out to be.  You don’t have to believe in me to get to heaven, you know that.  I never wanted to be worshiped like the savior so many have made me out to be.  Even when I was arrested, they questioned me about being King and I kept telling them that was what they said about me, not the other way around.

I want people to be connected to God, as you and I understand that power, and that’s what I taught.  Or tried to, but everything’s gotten really mixed up.  That’s why I’m here right now.  Because you get it.  The people you surround yourself with get it.  That church you’re a part of gets it.  And I want to protect that, protect you.  I’m not going to ask you to start worshiping me, that’s not what I’m about… but I am here… and I am watching over you… Just as the others are as well.”

“Okay…  you know this is really weird, right?  Like… I’m the exact opposite of the person I’d expect to hear from you.”

“Not really.  You and I are a lot a like if you think about it.  We’re both teachers, we’re both pretty hated by the mainstream people out there… I have been for a lot more years than you have though.”

“I guess that’s true.”

“It is true.”

I told Erin about this conversation that I had.  It felt really weird and funny for me to say, “I think Jesus talked to me.”  I don’t understand why I would think that weird when I don’t have an qualms about saying that I’ve experienced the physical presence of Bastet, but it did.  I guess it’s the nature of the deity.

I fully expected Erin to be like, “So you’re… what? A Christian now?  Is that what you’re saying?”  I guess because that’s what’s been running through my mind.  I definitely don’t feel like a Christian, and I don’t claim that identity in any way, so I feel like having that question thrown at me was going to make me go into defensive mode.

Instead she said, “You haven’t had an experience like this since Bastet, have you?”

Gods, I love her.  “No,” I replied after thinking a moment, “I really haven’t.”

That’s how I know it’s real.  That’s how I know that I’ve been unexpectedly chosen by another deity.  I still feel Bastet and Ma’at around me.  Their energy guiding me and supporting me, but now I feel this new energy as well.  Bastet is still the strongest with Ma’at a close runner up, but this new presence… this new energy… is also there and strong.  I think Bastet is unsure of this current situation, but she’s not fighting him.  She’s just not really talking to him all that much yet either.

There’s a weird feeling in my chest any time I stop to think about what’s happened… It’s like an anxiety almost… A slight distrust that is to be expected due to my past.. but no matter the anxiousness, that energy isn’t going away.  It’s been there, and it understands why I’m nervous and not completely okay with this idea… This new reality… this understanding that I’ve been chosen… by Jesus.

And not the Jesus that so many people have gotten wrong out there.. not the “savior” archetype that will keep me out of hell.. no, this is the one that loves those that no one else loves… and helps those that no one else would help… and taught that through his example, were we then “saved.”

I guess that conversation with my coworker, in a way, came true… But I didn’t really “find my way back to Jesus” like she was hoping.  He sorta found his way back to me.

Let It Shine!

I’ve been struggling to keep everything together the last two days. I feel so overwhelmed with Tori’s situation, and how horrible it is for everyone involved. To be okay one day and the crashing the next… It’s so very, very unreal to me. 

There haven’t been any updates yet. Heather, apparently, didn’t want things on Facebook until things happened. I spoke to my friend who is down there and offered my love, support, and help to anyone who needs it. 

She told me they are taking her off life support tomorrow morning once her dad gets to Atlanta. I’ve been watching her Facebook blow up with an outpouring of love and support. This has really rocked the community to its core. 

It’s a lot to process. I’ve struggled with it since I found out about everything. I’ve been doing other things, like trying to write a blog or work in the wedding, but I’m struggling to keep my mind clear and focused. We ordered our wedding cake today and I kept stumbling over words. 

Foggy. I felt foggy. 

And my grief, I know, is no where near the level it is of Tori’s family. I can’t even imagine what they are feeling right now. 

Gods, there needs to be a miracle. And it needs to be now. 

Prayers of Healing

The LGBT community in South Carolina is not very big.  If you haven’t slept with or dated someone, you know someone who has.  You may not know everyone, but you know of them.  It can, at times, be a breeding pool of drama.  I was pretty heavily involved in the community prior to dating Erin.  I was president of Upstate Pride, which saw it’s largest year up until that point, so I knew a lot of people.

And before that, I was Leeland Cross.  I did drag for awhile as a side gig, and at one point, I passed fully as a male for a year without any hormones.  I was pretty damn sexy as a boy too (not that I’m not sexy now, though, just sayin’).

You meet a lot of people when you’re doing drag.  Mostly people in the drag community, but you can get sucked into the politics of it all pretty quickly, and once my drag family fell apart, I did some freelance stuff for awhile before finally getting out of it all together (minus the super rare benefit show).  I did pretty well.  I’m a rather convincing guy, with or without facial hair.

Back in the day, there were two drag king families.  The one I was a part of and the “other one.”  When our family fell apart, I toyed with the idea of working my way into the other family, but by then, I was getting out of drag.  I enjoyed it, but not the politics.

The head of that drag family was a woman named Heather.  I was always really nervous about going and talking to her because of other connections between us, some of which I’d rather not reconnect.  She started dating a woman by the name of Tori.  Tori was free spirited.  I never saw her upset or angry.  I never heard of anyone talking poorly about her.  I think we may have spoken once or twice, but it was many years ago, and it’s a vague memory.

Eventually, the two of them settled down and got married.  Tori has two children from a previous relationship, and Heather took them in as her own.  They’ve lived as a family for years, welcoming everyone they meet as a long lost relative, sharing good times and supporting through bad.  Before I fully stepped out of that scene with Erin, I never got the chance to meet Tori and Heather officially, even though I had always been drawn to their infectious, upbeat, positive attitudes.

We have a ton of mutual friends.

And a couple of months ago, Tori was diagnosed with Stage IV Colorectal cancer.

She went to a specialist in Atlanta for testing.

It had spread to her liver and the bones in her hips.  Things weren’t looking good for them, so people started to pray.  They started a GoFundMe account to help with medical expenses, and they asked for love and support.  The community responded immediately with #TeamTori merchandise and lots of love and praise.

Then, they found out that, while this cancer was bad, it wasn’t fatal.  They could treat her with radiation, and she’d be able to live a long and productive life, even though they couldn’t ever make it fully go away.  Everyone rejoiced.

I donated $300 to her campaign fund to help her and her family, and had a wonderful, short conversation with Tori via Facebook.  She was resilient and wasn’t about to let this cancer diagnosis get the best of her.  A couple days later, she was asking for reading material, and I suggested four different book series to her, which she decided to read based on my recommendations.

She spent the next short span of time undergoing radiation treatments.

Some friends went down to see her on Saturday and said that while she looks thin, she was full of life and joking and happy and smiling.  As my friend Audra put it, “She was Tori.”

Yesterday, my phone rings on the way home from getting ice cream with a friend.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Kel.  Did you hear about Tori?”

“No… what’s going on?”

“Oh.. Well, see… I hate to be the one to tell you this.. I was calling to see if you knew anything that was going on… because you’re friends with her and all… but I saw on Facebook that she’s been moved to ICU and is on life support.”

“What?  What do you mean she’s on life support??  She was supposed to be fine!  She was fine just days ago!  I saw her pictures… she was smiling.. what’s happening right now?”

We talked for a few more minutes before I let her go.  I wanted to call a friend I knew was heading down to see her tonight.  She told me everything that was going on… and that’s when I obsessively started refreshing Facebook.  She had a poor reaction to a medication, and things have spiraled way out of all of our hands since then.

They ran her blood work again today, and determined that her internal organs were starting to shut down.  As one person put it, “The life support is really what is doing all the work right now.”

This evening someone said, “They gave her 24 hours this morning.”

I don’t understand.  The doctors said she would be fine.  They said that she was treatable… and now, within two days, she’s struggling… beyond struggling… to hold on.  Last night, I set up my altar (it had been down for awhile), prayed for her, and lit a candle in her name.  Tonight, I pray for her again.

I’m asking everyone who reads this… to pass this on to a friend or family member… ask them for their prayers… and if you can find it in you to donate, please, click here:

http://www.gofundme.com/lk6vh8

I have seen and heard of worse situations where people have turn it around, and I know that it can happen for Tori and her family as well.  Tonight, again, I turn my eyes, my heart, my soul, to the Divine Spiritual Power that Flows through all things… Tonight, again, I pray:

The Life God IS, is flowing through Tori’s body right now doing It’s mighty work — cleansing, purifying, and healing whatever is needed. The wisdom God IS, is present and working through her entire medical team to support God’s healing work. The love God IS, is right now blessing her and her family with the peace that passes understanding as they thrive through this process. I know that this is so, I celebrate that this is so. And I am grateful that this is so, because it is so. And so it is. Amen! 

Signs

I believe that there are signs all around us that help lead us down the path we should go down and away from ones we shouldn’t. If it’s the right path, then things will flow relatively smoothly. They don’t have to be perfect, but there also won’t be any major road blocks. 

There are things in my life that I want more desperately than I have ever wanted in my life. Children, for example, but I know that now is not the right time. I’ve been going over and over our finances to find out when we’ll be able to start having children, and it’s looking like two years from now, if we’re honest with ourselves. 

But in that time frame, we should be nearly debt free (minus Erin’s school loans), and we’ll have a household income of 100K just about, which will really be helpful for children. 

We could also be living pretty much anywhere in the world. Erin’s career path is so high in demand that there are companies that will pay her to move her and her family to where ever and then pay her 100-120k a year to work for a year or however long. I am so excited for her to get out of school. Financially, we’ll be better off, not that we hurt for money now… We just have a pretty strict budget. And we’ll have more time together. 

I know we’re on the right path. We’re getting married in just 76 days! Our ceremony is written and the ceremony music is picked out. And minus a few starting bumps with my mom, we have had a really smooth and drama free experience. 

My parents offered to pay for our wedding. We weren’t expecting them too, but they offered. And they’ve paid for everything, including Erin’s dress. They’re also paying for our honeymoon as a wedding present. Erin and I have no idea how to repay them. We’ve been toying with different ideas, but there’s no telling what we’ll come up with. 

The point is, my parents came to us. This door down the path of my marriage was flung so wide open that there is no doubt that this is the way I’m supposed to go. 

As I was finishing up our ceremony today, I started getting all teary eyed thinking about our future. I know it’s not time for us to have kids yet. Not because of us but because of money. We are going the safest legal route possible for kids: doctors and sperm banks. We don’t want to run the risk of  a donor coming back years later and fighting for parental rights since SC honors and protects fathers just like they do mothers. 

Both my aunts are throwing us parties.  My mom’s sister is throwing a bridal party luncheon the morning of the wedding for both of us, and my dad’s sister is throwing us a bridal shower. So many doors. Such a clear path. 

Babies? Unfortunately, they’re going to have to wait. But by the time we start, we’ll have been together and experienced so much that we know it’ll be the perfect time. There’s so much we want to do, so this forced financial delay may be in our benefit. Who knows, maybe by then, SC will allow Erin on the birth certificate simply because we’re married and maybe that’s why we’re being told (spiritually speaking) to wait. 

I’m at peace with it. I know we’re strong and on the right path. Our (hopefully four, maybe twins) children will come when it’s time. 

I am the Crucifixion

I wanted to write this blog over the weekend, but I didn’t get the chance too.  Between getting everything finalized for church and spending time with family, my weekend was pretty busy.  I was pretty nervous about church on Sunday for a couple of reasons: 1) I was being formally introduced to the congregation as the new Youth Education Coordinator, and 2) the message for the day was “Why did Jesus die on the cross?”

There’s a lot of bitterness between the Pagan/Non-Christian and Christian communities sometimes, and I see it the most around two major holidays: Christmas and Easter.  Around Christmas, there will be graphics that compare Jesus to various Egyptian or Hindu gods that basically scream, “Look, your savior isn’t real.  He’s just a copy of this deity over here.”  And it’s the same around Easter with different Gods or Goddesses.

Part of me gets it because I feel the frustration just the same: you want people to be educated about what they believe.  It’s okay to believe in Jesus and that mainstream savior dogma, but don’t be stupid about where that story came from or assume that it’s not just a valid a path as all these other paths that are out there.

Illustration+of+a+crossMainstream Majority Christianity, MMC, makes me so completely uncomfortable.  I define MMC as the believe that there is one God that created all of the earth (either in six days or over a longer period of time), and this God is a god of love, but also very judgmental and expects his children to live a specific way, which is laid out in the Bible.  It’s the belief that we weren’t getting it, so this God sent his one and only son specifically to teach the world how to act and then to die so that we could be forgiven because no matter how hard we try, we always fall short of the glory of God.  It’s the belief that we have to believe that this person was the Son of God, died, came back, and is not only the savior but our savior, and we must accept him as such to be able to get into heaven.  Otherwise, we’ll be judged and we’ll end up in hell.  Oh, and gays may or may not be evil sinners.

The common theme here is that Jesus is the Savior and Christianity is the only way.  Everything else can vary.

My uncomfortableness (is that a word?) comes from the fact that these people will tell me that I’m going to Hell if I don’t change what I believe.  They can tell me, over and over, that they love me and that they’re my friends, and some of my best friends have this type of dogma… but they believe that I am going to hell or they live their life as a hypocrite.

And it’s not because I’m gay.  It’s because I’m not a Christian.  And I’m not just any non-Christian… I’m a Pagan.  I worship the Gods of the people who slaughtered all their first born sons and enslaved their ancestors, even though most of then don’t have a stitch of Hebrew blood in them.  My Gods are “soundly and completely defeated” in their holy book, and shouldn’t that be enough evidence to show me that I’m wrong and they’re right?

When I left the Christian faith, it was because I was gay.  When I decided not to go back, it was because I was Pagan, and even though I had good times and I had struggles, my Gods always saw me through to something better.  I never wanted for anything, and I became more joyous and whole through Them who strengthened me.

And I refused to turn my backs to Them in favor of this God who had done nothing but hurt me… or so I thought.

As my faith grew, I became more and more forgiving of my past experiences and those that hurt me.  I was able to have conversations with Christians, even if their faith and dogma made me (and still makes me) really uncomfortable (I’m not sure I will ever be comfortable with being judged, and I’m not sure I know anyone else who is).  And I started to read a lot about the Bible, including the Bible itself.  I purchased various study Bibles, read online commentaries from “both sides of the coin,” and started to draw my own conclusions.

I learned very quickly that it wasn’t the God of the Bible that condemned me, but the followers of that God.  It wasn’t enough of a revelation for me totter my way back over the line into calling myself a Christian, but it was enough for me to find it within myself to forgive those that pushed me away and forgive myself for having so much anger at this God who, from all accounts, really does love people.

So I started reading, and found a pretty interesting story about a guy named Jesus, who was born and taught some fairly revolutionary type things.  He healed people who were sick. He hung around those that no one else wanted to be around.  He took all the old “rules,” condensed them, and threw out all the rest.  He said that the poor and hungry and sad are all blessed.

He said, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man.” (Luke 6:22, ESV).

He said to love your enemies.  He said not to judge or condemn others.  He said to focus on our own shortcomings and problems before we point the finger at others.

In Luke 10:8-9, Jesus is telling his followers to go out and heal others. He told people to be humble.  He spoke out against the rich and way things were for a new way of believing, a new faith.  He was so against the way things were that he went into the temples and overturned the tables there.

And the people called for his arrest, so he was arrested.  And the ruler found him innocent and would have him released, but the people called out for his death.  Why?

Because he told everyone, “Love your neighbor.  And what you are doing now is wrong.”  And people were really, really pissed off because they didn’t like change.  They called out for his arrest, he was arrested.  They called out for his death, he was crucified.

And then what happened?  He prevailed over death.

There’s a lot of spiritual meaning behind this story.  There are people who will say that he died for our sins so that we could be saved.  I would tell you that his death symbolized the dying of the ego, the physical, in favor of a spiritual oneness and connection to the divine power…

But if we look at the story… just as it it…  A man who spoke of love and against the “way things have always been” in favor of showing more love and kindness to our fellow humans, who was feared and disliked so much that he was arrested and killed, who then triumphed over death…

Then I tell you this: I am the crucifixion.

All in the LGBT community are the crucifixion.  Minority races are the crucifixion.  Women are the crucifixion.  Disabled individuals are the crucifixion.  Everyone who has ever been discriminated against, had laws passed to suppress or discriminate against them, been told they were wrong because the Bible said so, or been condemned for who they were and for preaching inclusion, tolerance, love and acceptance is the crucifixion.

Every time an LGBT individual is turned away from an establishment that refuses to serve them, whether for a wedding or in general, those acting against them act as the Pharisees of the time of Jesus, who acted simply because that was was they were told to do and because that is the way things had always been done.

Every time a disabled person is refused proper treatment or care, it is just as the healers in the time of Jesus who refused to help those that needed it.

Every time a black person is shot and killed because they were “threatening,” they are condemned to death like Jesus was: without a proper trial or legitimate cause.

But I’ll tell you this: every single one of these people or groups of people are blessed, just as Jesus said in the sermon on the mount, and just like Jesus, they will rise above death and be justified and glorified.  They, not those who act against them, will be “inherit the kingdom of God,” as they say.

When we, as a society, discriminate on a people for no other reason that because “that’s the way it’s always been done” or because “the Bible says they’re wrong and I’m right,” then we are acting just like those that would have Jesus arrested and killed.

It wasn’t the Jews or the Romans or whoever it was that killed Jesus.  It was us.  It was this society.

And we keep doing it today.

Maintaining my Focus

Today is the first day of a week off from teaching.  It’s spring break, and I am so happy to have some time off.  We’ve entered the fourth nine weeks of school, which I usually call “Hell Weeks” because the kids can smell summer, we’re constantly interrupted by testing at various times through out these last weeks, and then we have exams, some of them mandated by the state and standardized.

It’s a stressful time to be a teacher.

I’ve been suffering the effects of stress in the last couple of weeks too.  Between needing to grade essays for work, and design lesson plans for church, and wedding planning, and everything else that’s going on, I’m finding that I don’t have a lot of time in my day left over for self-care, which I know is soooo important.

I read this article called “What it Means to Love a Libra,” and it even mentions the self care aspect and how we usually don’t do that.  I posted it to Facebook, and Erin said, “Minus on or two things, it sounds about right.”  It sparked a conversation between myself and my astrology-expert friend, KD, about how not only am I a Libra, but I’m a “Gemini rising Libran who has her moon in Virgo.”  KD said, “You’re full of so much air, I have no idea how you stay grounded at all.”

Which reminded me of the appointment that Erin and I had with our therapist after the adoption fell through.  Landa said, “Kel, aside from everything that has happened with the adoption falling through, you are more grounded now that I have ever seen you.”

Erin keeps me grounded, I told KD.  So then KD ended up running Erin’s chart against mine and found out some fairly Photo Mar 30, 11 50 35 AMinteresting things, namely this picture.  You should be able to click on it to make it bigger, but in case you can’t, here is what it says, “This is an excellent combination for an enduring relationship.  Both Erin and Kel share a mutual respect for each other and are willing to work towards sound communication.  They take each other seriously, and are likely to share an interest in a though-provoking pastime or a business enterprise.  Shared values also mean that this relationship has firm foundations for the long term.  Erin and Kel realize early in their association that this is a lasting union.  Therefore, it is likely that they slowly and surely get to know each other, rather than rushing headlong into a relationship.  As a result, they eventually form a strong bond.  Erin respects and learns from Kel’s wisdom.  She is better able to communicate her own thoughts and ideas thanks to Kel’s well-received advice.  Kel’s organizational abilities shine in this relationship.  She discovers different methods of approaching activities through her association with Erin.”

I think that’s pretty awesome, in my humble opinion.  Hah!

After a long conversation and some reworking our budget, Erin and I decided to postpone starting our family until Erin is out of graduate school.  She’ll be making a lot more money then, and we’ll be more financially sound.  We’ll also have her new car and a lot of my debt paid down by then as well.  It wasn’t a decision that either of us were really happy with because we both know that we’re ready to start a family and have kids, but we also know that my risk of multiples is going to be very high, and we want to make sure that we’re prepared for that.

Photo Mar 30, 9 52 08 AMWith the stress of everything going on and the wedding approaching quickly, I was starting to really start feel run down.  I was ready for this much needed and much desired vacation.

88 Days to go.  My cousin and my aunt on my dad’s side are throwing us a bridal shower in May.  My aunt on my mom’s side is throwing us a bridal party luncheon on the day of the wedding, we’re having a BBQ and pizza party at the pool house for our rehearsal dinner, and wedding ceremony and dinner is pretty much completely done.

We’ve been going through our vows, going to tastings, Erin’s dress is in and hiding at my parents’s house, and I still feel completely and totally overwhelmed with the amount of stuff that I feel like is still left to do and how expensive everything is (although, with my parents pretty much paying for everything themselves, I feel like we’ll never know the true cost of it all; all I know is that my parents never do anything small, and this isn’t an exception to that rule.)

Funny side-note: Our caterer is the father of one of the girls who place third in the banner competition at the State Beta Club competition, which I’m an adviser for.  So we joked about that for awhile.  He’s a fantastic cook and use to own a bunch of fancy restaurants before the economy went south and everything shut down.  Now he caterers big events and says he makes just a much and has more fun doing this.  I think it’s the travelling he gets to do.  We also planned out our flowers for everyone, and so I felt really accomplished after all of that.

But now I’m sitting here staring at the mountain of invitations that I need to address and send out, and I start to feel that tugging on me again that there are more things going on than I can handle all at once.

But one of the things they teach at church is that the divine energy flowing around and through all things is always working towards the good, towards the better, and in a loving and protective way.  With everything that was going on and the stress that I was feeling, I realized that I’d lost touch with that divine energy.  And I realized it yesterday.

We got to church at our usual time, and I wasn’t sure if there was a teacher in the elementary classroom.  I wasn’t given the plans for this week, which usually means that I’m not on schedule, but I felt like something was off.  I was standing by the door and waiting, knowing that I would need to jump in and take over if no one else showed up, when Erin comes out of the service.

“The computer won’t let me access the PowerPoint for the service, so I can’t change the slide.”

“You’ll have to restart it.”

I eventually walked into service and decided to hang out until the kids were dismissed, and right as I sat down next to some friends, the minister said, “Sometimes, God just tells you that you need a reboot.”

I know he was talking about the computers, but he was right.  Sometimes, we just have to realize that not everything is going to go the way we want it to, and that’s okay.  The Gods are always working for our advantage, and sometimes we just need to stop and reset and keep going.  I need to take time to remember who’s in charge and take my days with that knowledge moving forward.  The Gods are going to keep me and my  family moving on the path that is needed.

During the lesson that day and after helping the kids with their craft, I decided that since next weekend is Easter Sunday and the service will probably be fairly large, that it would make a good service for me to be announced in.  So next week, they’re going to announce me as the new Youth Education Coordinator for Unity Church.  It’s exciting but also nerve-wracking, but I know this is the right path for me.

Immediately after the service and after I had decided that next weekend would be the day, two parents came up to me.  And one of them offered me volunteering support and financial support to help me start the middle school program at the church, which is becoming more and more clear to me that it is abundantly needed.  It’s falling into place.  Everything is, and now that I’ve let go and just let it happen, I feel so much better about my place and role in this story line.

Photo Mar 29, 4 33 26 PMAfter church, Erin and I went out to the dog park with our dogs, Yukon and Bentley.  We let them play for a couple of hours before deciding to walk around the park some.  We ended up going on a small hike that led out to a river.   Yukon is absolutely obsessed with water.  He loves swimming more than anything else in the world, I think.  If we play fetch with him and throw the stick out into the water, he will dive in and just be the single happiest creature on the planet.

The spontaneous hike was a lot of fun.  Minus the fact that I was in a skirt and sandals.  Not exactly the best hiking material around.  On the way down the side of this hill/mountain, Erin almost stepped on this green tree frog.  Call me a nerd, but I absolutely love tree frogs.  They’re my favorite amphibians around.  I did some research on them in Photo Mar 29, 4 31 40 PMundergrad, and by research, I designed some traps and helped set them up, but then it got too cold for them to come out, so the people who came after me actually did a lot of the work.

This particular species is invasive to our area.  I was one of the first people to actually report their findings to the University I went to, and it ballooned out into an entire project from there.

After playing in the water, we came home, gave the pups a bath, went out on a dinner date, and then came home and played video games.  Needless to say, the day was really fantastic.  It reminded me to let myself be led by the powers at be and to always put my relationship with Erin in front of all other things.  We made so many plans to get outside and back out with nature more, and I really can’t wait to see them all come true.

Including the one where we go kayaking on Jocassee before our wedding.  Erin said, “as long as we make sure we don’t get sunburned.”

Yes.  That will definitely be a priority.

 

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