Reflective Meandering

Thoughts on faith, people, politics, travel, and transition.

Misinformation

There are few things that frustrate me more than being lied to, but one of those things is when my friends and family are lied to.

I can’t stand it. I’m sure it has something to do with my sense of justice, but I’m also sure it’s related to my thirst for knowledge and my feeling that knowledge empowers people to make better decisions that improve their lives and the lives of those around them.

I believe that the people of Arizona and Governor Jan Brewer were lied to. Actually, I know it for a fact. The legislature of Arizona passed a bill regarding religious liberty, and somehow, somewhere, someone began to call it an anti-gay law. It’s not. I read it.  In fact, SB1062 is here, you can read it too. It doesn’t mention gay, lesbian, bisexual, sexual orientation, homosexual, or anything similar. It simply does what the federal government has done for years through similar legislation.  I can’t think of a single reason that it shouldn’t have passed, and it did pass, it passed the State House and the State Senate. Then, it was sent to Governor Jan Brewer for her signature, and all hell broke loose.

Liberal media outlets began reporting it was an anti-gay bill and the NFL threatened to find another location for the Super Bowl if Governor Brewer signed the bill and even Former-Governor Mitt Romney and Senator John McCain came out against the bill, though it wasn’t evident that either of them read it. Even a group of lawyers from the University of Virginia, a group that included folks who support same-sex marriage, sent a letter to Governor Brewer supporting the bill and emphasizing that much of the hoopla surrounding the bill was misinformation.

I’m convinced that only the devil is more capable of misinformation campaigns than the radical homosexual activist movement (“rham”).

Rham isn’t the group of gays and lesbians that simply want to be left alone to live their lives without persecution because of their sexual orientation; rather, rham is the group, like the ACLU, that actively seeks out and proud homosexuals, and awards them with a trip to NYC, if they’ll let the ACLU use them as plaintiffs to pursue litigation to overturn marriage laws and amendments. Rham is the group that fights laws that protect religious liberties and wants to force Christians to photograph, bake for, cater, host, and dj same-sex weddings. Rham is the group that, though freely admitting that sexuality is fluid, pursues legislation that prevents parents and children from seeking therapy that would help a child to identify as heterosexual. Rham is ruining my beloved country, saying sexual freedoms trump religious liberties (which, by the way, are protected in the First Amendment).

The people were lied to and both the media and politicians were complicit in the lies. This, this is why we have such an abhorrent culture of distrust. This is why people must become committed to educating themselves rather than relying on others to educate them. This is why the Arizona bill should’ve been signed into law.

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Pinterest Perfect

I’m pretty sure that nothing in my life has caused so much pressure for me to “keep up with the Joneses” like wedding planning.

There are so many expectations that people have. Preferences, standards, etiquette. There’s always an opinion, a recommendation, a website, or an entire book to tell you exactly what you’re supposed to do and how you’re supposed to do it. But, hand-address 200 invitations? Not.happening! God created technology for a reason – my wedding!

When I first got engaged, everyone, well, every woman, asked me if I’d looked at Pinterest for ideas. The honest answer was no. I didn’t want to get on Pinterest. I didn’t want to create all of these expectations and standards for myself. Standards for a wedding that cost the bride’s parents a house, when I was only hoping to spend about a used car. I avoided Pinterest for awhile, also avoiding unrealistic expectations of the perfect rustic wedding, but with my bridesmaids being far away, Pinterest became the perfect place for me to share my ideas, and, unfortunately, to collect some along the way.

I’ll admit it; I was scared of Pinterest.

Thinking about the DIY, blog-worthy perfect wedding/party stresses me out. After all, when did it become a crime to simply have a pizza party at the skating rink for your kid’s birthday? Holy cow! Seeing facebook photos of the birthday parties of my friends’ kids almost made me want to avoid having children, just to avoid the social pressure of the perfect party. When I was a kid, I was totally fine with pizza and a piñata (that was store-bought!). Nowadays, moms spend the first year of the kid’s life pinning ideas for that first party (that Johnny isn’t even going to remember!). Those Sesame Street characters carefully constructed with organic fruits and veggies are cute and all, but did you really spend all of that time making those for your kid to enjoy, or was that photo-worthy homemade cake meant to impress mommy’s facebook friends?

I’ve always tried to avoid comparing myself to others; but, I find myself getting trapped sometimes. My fiancé and I have discussed this a bit. At one point, I told him that I was going to delete my facebook account once we’re married. He asked why and I admitted that I struggled with comparing him to the “best of” moments of all of my friends’ men.

I have an awesome fiancé. He is perfect for me in every way. I could not be more thankful that the Lord preserved me for him and that God saw fit to bring us together. He is everything that I could need and want in a future husband and the future father of our kiddos. But, he’s not perfect. And, according to facebook, all of my friends’ husbands are.

I mean, Jane’s husband brings her flowers “just because” all the time; Jillie’s husband made her a home-cooked steak dinner last night; Jessie’s husband took her on a surprise weekend getaway last weekend; Joanna’s fiancé bought a house near her parents for them to live in; and, and, and…

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s wonderful that Jane, Jillie, Jessie, and Joanna are praising their men on social media if their purpose is to praise and encourage their men. I absolutely love talking to my friends about how much they love being married and how much they love their husbands.

What I don’t like is comparing my future-husband to theirs. I’m not blaming my comparison on them, but I am encouraging all of us to check our motives. I, too, have praised my man’s expressions of love toward me on facebook. I admit now that I did so to gloat about the quality of my guy. To gloat. To fill him with pride. To fill me with pride. It’s almost like a reply – your husband made you dinner? Well, my man drove across the country to see me because I had a bad day.  Social media threatens my contentment and leaves me comparing myself to my DIYing friends and my fiancé to their husbands.

Ultimately, social media sometimes leaves me wanting that which God did not intend for me. Lusting for perfect things, perfect events, and perfect people.

Again, I believe with all of my heart, mind, and soul that the person I have chosen to spend the rest of my life with is perfect for me. He loves me in ways that I need to be loved. He communicates that love in ways that speak to my heart. He meets my needs in ways that all too often go unnoticed, or at least unthanked and unmentioned.

As we’ve prepared for marriage, we also discussed divorce. For us, it’s not an option. For ourselves, for our posterity, our marriage must survive. We know that there will be difficult times, but we’ve also talked about how to succeed despite them.

Somewhere, I’m not sure where, my fiancé heard a statistic – we love 80% of our spouse, the other 20% (that he leaves his clothes on the floor or she doesn’t clean her hair from the shower drain) that’s what we focus on.

Instead of focusing on what did and does make our life-partners perfect for us, we focus on their imperfections, and that is a recipe for disaster, and divorce.

So, praise your husband on your facebook wall, but do it so that he knows how much you love and appreciate him, not to keep up appearances with your 879 closest friends. Plan a party or a wedding or a date night that you’ll enjoy preparing and participating in, that represents who you are and what you love, one that will make you mom of the year, not one that makes you look like mom of the year. Make memories and don’t forget the story of Martha and Mary. While Martha was busy preparing for things to look and taste nice for Jesus, Mary was busy building a relationship and making memories with Him.

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The Travel Bug Bit for Bolivia

When the travel bug bites you or your spouse, it’s hard to do anything until you’ve satisfied your or his/her craving for another culture. Even within a single country there are such diverse cultures, demographically, food-wise, climate-wise, and other-wise. It’s exciting to see and experience new things with your significant other. While the travel bug doesn’t bite me much, I love seeing the delight in my man’s eyes as he experiences something new, or introduces me to something new.

This past year, my man got bit by the burning desire to visit Bolivia. I’ve been out of the country before, but I was nervous about our trip to Bolivia. There was so much more to do to prepare, and in some ways, we missed the mark with our preparations.

There are tons of websites that give you checklists for things to do before you leave for Bolivia, I’m not going to reiterate those here, but here are a few things that those websites don’t tell you to do or bring:

We were primarily in the altiplano, i.e. the part of the country that’s too high for trees to grow indigenously. The weather there is pretty volatile, the early mornings and late evenings were very cold. This was in Bolivia’s summer, mind you. However, at the peak of the day, it was perfect—dry, warm, and sunny. (Leaving the United States during the winter, I totally spaced on the need to take sunscreen, but you’ve been warned!) Because of the changes in temperature, it’s a good idea to pack so that you can dress in layers. While I wore a winter coat in the mornings and evenings, during mid-day, I would often shed down to a tank top with jeans.

A bunch of people told me to take toilet paper. I started our time in Bolivia carting toilet paper around with me everywhere, but after I’d been in the country for about four days, and every bathroom having had toilet paper available, I stopped carrying the roll. Thank the Lord I had tissues. We had charqui at lunch on about day four and it did not agree with me. For the first time on the trip, I was in need of a public bathroom and it did not have toilet paper. Lesson.Learned. That said, you need to try charque, even if you do pay for it later.

As far as money is concerned, I had no concerns. I had about $100 in cash, which is the minimum with which I normally travel and then I have an international credit card that I generally use overseas. Not in Bolivia. Most of the places do not take credit cards, even the local travel agencies accepted cash only. Because things are fairly inexpensive, I had plenty of cash, but the problem with my cash is that they weren’t crisp bills. Even the currency exchange locations wanted crisp new bills so I advise you to get crisp new dollar bills from the bank. On that note, taking U.S. currency is largely disfavored so, be sure to exchange a sufficient amount for the duration of your stay.

Explore! Our trip was only 10 days and to really tour, you need longer than that, but in our short time, we visited three Departments within Bolivia: La Paz, Cochabamba, and Oruro. They were all beautiful in their own unique ways.

La Paz and Oruro are both extremely high in elevation. Oruro seemed most rural to me. There’s a new statue of the Virgin Mary in the city and from there, you can see for miles and miles, mostly of rural land that is still occupied by indigenous people groups. There is so much history in Bolivia! Some of the places with a lot of history and culture in La Paz are Lago Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, Copacabana, which ports on the lake, and Isla del Sol, the Island of the Son where the Incan ruins date back to the 15th Century AD and there are still no paved roads and cars. We hiked to the top of the island and boy were we breathless on the way up.

Regarding breathlessness, no part of the trip was as bad as the first steps off of the plane in La Paz. Right when I stepped out of the jet way and into the airport I felt incredibly weak and short of breath. Truly, it takes about 24 hours for that feeling to dissipate a bit. Those who tell you to drink coca tea know what they’re talking about it. Do it; drink the coca tea. I also brought a small canister of oxygen infused with grapefruit, which helped me feel more energized and helped with the anxiety I felt from not being able to breathe. In addition, we took the online advice of taking ginkgo biloba, probiotics, and before we even landed in Bolivia, while still on the plane, we took ibuprofen to avoid a headache. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We’re believers and many folks were praying for our safety and acclimatization. I believe God kept us safe and feeling well, but we certainly did our part in planning, too.

If you have the time, it’s wise to acclimatize by going somewhere at or just below 10,000 feet for your first 24 hours. The department of Cochabamba would be an excellent spot for this. I believe it’s about 8,000 feet in elevation and feels and looks tropical in the summer; while the higher elevations were dry and brown, Cochabamba was warm and green. In addition, it’s fairly well developed so it’s easier to find restaurants that can accommodate the North American stomach. (However, you should still avoid the ice and other water that’s not boiled if you’re a gringo.)

Bolivia is such a diverse country in terms of climate, geography, and culture. If you have the change, you should visit!

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