Random Musings

It was pointed out to me the other day that I have not posted in a while (like, since September!), so I am here today to share a few random things with you today.  Nothing earth-shattering or life-changing…just some things that are going on in my little corner of the world right now.

First, let me just say Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope your turkey day was just as much fun as mine was.  We had a somewhat low-key holiday this year, but it was still the best Thanksgiving I think we’ve ever had.  Meghan woke up here with us, enjoyed the day with us, and went to bed in her bed, in the room right next to mine that evening!  This sounds really simple and silly to you, if you don’t know our story, but let me tell you…this was the first Thanksgiving she has spent with us in over ten  years.  It was truly special to have her here, and as an added bonus, Meghan’s sweetheart of a boyfriend, Deni, joined us for the meal, too!

I mean really...how cute is this?

The final Thanksgiving Day blessing came in the form of my baby brother.  We thought that he wasn’t going to be able to make it by, but about ten minutes before we sat down to eat, he called to say he was on his way!  It made mom so happy, and I got to beat him at Mario Kart after dinner, so it worked out really well.  😉

Second, the school semester is almost over!  I will be so glad to see the end of this history course — it has not been the most fun I’ve ever had.  Oh, and speaking of school, I got an invitation to join Phi Theta Kappa, which is an honor society for two-year colleges.  I am pretty proud of myself for this; I don’t know for sure what the real benefits are yet, but it’s nice to have my 4.0 GPA acknowledged.

Let’s see…what else?  Meghan and I go tomorrow for the results of her ambulatory EEG…please keep us in your prayers that we get a great report!

And finally, I made an awesome discovery tonight for aunties and uncles everywhere.  It is a website called Savvy Auntie and it is a social networking site that celebrates the special bond between aunts and uncles and their nieces and nephews.  I knew as soon as I saw it that I would have to join.  I love being an Auntie!  Look me up there, if you decide to join…I am AuntieAngie.

That’s about it for now, boys and girls.  Thanks, as always, for reading…until next time!

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From Another Angle: The Accused

The newest POTSC Never Beyond poster is of a Catholic priest.  The issue is sexual child abuse.  Can we forgive these transgressions?  How far is too far when we’re talking about radical grace and forgiveness?  Who deserves it?  Who doesn’t?  Is anyone just absolutely beyond grace altogether?

These are the questions POTSC is asking us me to answer this week.  And I find that I definitely have something to say on the subject.

I have never been sexually abused.  I come at this question from another angle altogether…from that of the accused.

Long story short, my ex-husband was sentenced to twenty years in prison (to serve eleven) for a sexual offense that I believe he was innocent of.  He recently maxed out – meaning he was not paroled, but released at the maximum date the judge allowed, after 11 years – and is now attempting to put his life together.  Regardless of actual guilt or innocence, our justice system deemed him guilty, and so he must live the rest of his life with the stigma of that guilt.

Just since his release there is a laundry list of the obstacles he has run into (and this is only a fraction of the issues he has had to confront):

  • Finding a place to live.  Because of his date of conviction, the new sex offense living and working laws don’t require him to live 1,000 feet away from schools, churches, daycares, or bus stops, nor is actually prohibited from living in a home with a child present…but he still struggled to find a place to live.
  • When he did finally find somewhere to go, the field probation officers who came to his mom’s house (where his sister and her family were also living) in the middle of the night scared his family to death and threatened to call DFCS on his sister.
  • He can’t find a job to save his life.  The Department of Labor supposedly has a program in place to help people in his situation, but that was a joke…the person running the class he was required to take advised him that “convicted child molesters don’t belong anywhere but in prison.”  This happened in a room full of other people who were NOT convicted anythings…mostly 30-something women looking to find work to feed their families.  Needless to say, he walked out of the class in utter shame and humiliation.
  • Not being able to find work doesn’t mean that he is absolved of having to pay his fines and fees, though.  No, those monies are still very much expected every month, with the penalty for even one month’s nonpayment being a potential return to prison for nine more years.
  • His own family has turned against him…the one person – a cousin – who was willing to put him to work so that he can pay the exorbitant fines and fees he is now subject to has been prohibited from continuing to help him by his mother…my ex’s aunt.  Nice, huh?
  • He is required as a part of his probation terms to take a sex offender class that can last anywhere from 3-18 months, based on the outcome of an assessment that he has to arrange and pay for (to the tune of anywhere from $150-450!).  The top place his probation officer recommended he do the assessment and class through also happens to be the “clinic” run by the same forensic psychologist whose testimony helped to convict him.

It breaks my heart every time I speak with him.  The blows do not ever stop coming.  I pray grace and healing for him every single day of my life, but I honestly do not see how his life will ever get any easier.  For all intent and purpose, he is a societal monster.  A pariah.

Do I hate that women and children all over the world are sexually abused?  Yes, of course, I do.  I desperately hope and pray that someday there will be no more sexual abuse of anyone in this world.  But.

But.

I cannot help but forever have my image of the abuser tainted by the heartache that I know they endure.  Lepers in the Bible are treated better than convicted sex offenders, if my ex’s example is the norm.

So, yes, I can forgive the abuser.  Reading the outcries of the bloggers and POTSC’ers and Grace Mobbers who have shared their stories through this campaign this week hurts my soul.  I cry for every one of them and I pray with every breath in my body that each of them will find solace and peace.  But with the same breath, I forgive their abusers.

[This post is part of People of the Second Chance’s Never Beyond poster campaign.  Who would you give a second chance?]

May the Force be With You…

[There is a person I go to with questions of theology.  My pastor, you ask?  Nope.  A teacher?  No.  Who is this brilliant and insightful person that I always go to first with questions of spirituality?  My sister, Melissa.  Her brain thinks in ways completely unique to the rest of us…there is an abstractness about her that I adore, because I always get a new perspective.  Also?  HUGE Star Wars fan!  The combination of these two traits made her perfect to be a guest blogger for this week’s POTSC Never Beyond campaign poster.  I hope you enjoy! ]

 

From Melissa:

Disclaimer: I am guest writing this blog. I have no experience in this arena and I have been forced against my will to produce this document.  My thoughts ramble when I think about good/evil forgiveness/reconciliation and things of spiritual thought.  You may now continue….

 

It is May 25, 1977, and families pack the theatres to see this awesome new movie called Star Wars.  Imagine, if you will, the whiny, reluctant savior – who is also so very handsome, by the way – Luke Skywalker, as he goes to fight the evil and wicked Darth Vader who is out to destroy the Universe and everything that is good.  Led by the genuine and true Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Jedi Master, Skywalker really shows how badass he is and, paired with the hunky Han Solo and pretty Princess Leia, the trio goes on to destroy the Death Star, eventually getting medals for their general awesomeness….

Now imagine the theatres for The Empire Strikes Back in 1980… and the general glee and excitement in 1983 when Return of the Jedi premiered

Every 3 years, George Lucas wowed the world with the story of Good (Luke Skywalker) versus Evil (Darth Vader).  By the end of the last film, we know that

  1. Darth Vader is Skywalker’s father
  2. Leia is Skywalker’s sister, and
  3. Darth Vader saves his son and some glimpse of goodness is seen in his life, afterall.

POTSC Never Beyond campaign

Dizzying, isn’t it?

Now imagine, 16 years later, in 1999, a new Star Wars is released. But, wait!  All of the episodes already seen actually were the middle and now viewers get to see the REAL episode one…….

 

Honestly, as a child born in the 70s, I should have been on board for this continuing saga, but Star Wars never really “did” it for me.  I didn’t care in 1999 to watch the prequel, basis of the original story, or foundation for a movie that always seemed, well – dorky – to me.  So, needless to say, I didn’t care about the following films’ release in 2002.  Or, for that matter, the one released in 2005.

Fast-forward to 2009 – personally, one of the greatest summers of all time, but that is another story – and this is the year a dear friend convinced me to sit with him and watch the entire 6 episodes of Star Wars. Sitting in my living room with who I now consider to be a god-like figure in all things Star Wars, I watched the beautifully tragic saga unfold.  But, you see, my viewing pleasure began with episode 3 instead of 1.  I began watching Star Wars as a young Anakin, later said to be the “Chosen One” fights his way out of a life as a slave, born to a virgin mother, and taught by the good and virtuous Jedi Masters.  Being that I had no idea of who this Anakin really was, I thought I was watching the young life of Luke Skywalker – because, really – he’s the CHOSEN ONE, right?  Imagine my surprise when I find out that all of my pre-conceived notions of the evil Darth Vader are squashed as I see that Darth Vader began life as THE one who would bring balance to the Universe…

Basically, what I am saying is this – my perspective of Darth Vader is far more sympathetic than the original viewers in 1977.  George Lucas allowed his fans to see the WHOLE story of Darth Vader, but with a twisted, albeit genius, approach.  In my opinion, he really turned the whole idea of good/evil inside out when he released the 4th/1st episode in 1999 and depicted a completely different side to the hated Darth Vader.  As a late blooming Star Wars aficionado, I was able to see the story from a distance, from beginning to end, despite the issue of time continuum that obviously disturbed the flow of the story, as told by Mr. Lucas.

 

…. able to see the bigger picture…  able to see the redemption in a severely flawed individual who also delivered the Universe to a sense of Balance…

 

To be honest, I was crushed when I realized that Anakin could have such a darkness in him, that he could neglect his true love for the love of power.  The original viewers only saw him as the monster he had become.  But I got to see him from childhood through the sad story called his life.  Does the viewers’ completed knowledge of his entire life absolve him from the dastardly deeds he performed during the latter part of life?  No, not at all.  But, it is true that Darth Vader made his amends with the person with whom it mattered most – his son, Luke Skywalker.  The same son who restored Balance to the Universe, since his life was spared by his father….

In Star Wars, the main theme was taking down the Force from within – and it served the opposite Force well.  But, in the bigger picture, George Lucas allowed us to frame a man both with the lens of seeing the outside first – and then with the lens of seeing the inside first.

At what point in your life would you like to first be introduced to people?  Does your story begin with that one huge transgression you chose to make – you know the one, the one you hope no one ever hears about, reads about, sees, or acknowledges ever happened?  Or, do you want the story to start on the best day of your life?

Let me make this more personal….

At what point in my life would I like to first be introduced to people?  Does my story begin with that one huge transgression I chose to make – the one I hope no one ever hears about, reads about, sees, or acknowledges ever happened?  Or, does my story to start on the best day of my life? The one that begins with a second chance?

Darth Vader has already been given a second chance.  His creator – George Lucas – did that when he introduced Episode 1.  The question now is this – will you – will I – do the same for ourselves?

 

May the force be with you, “Chosen One”…..

Beyond Washed-Up

The Never Beyond campaign over at People of the Second Chance has me thinking this week about who I used to be, what I had, what I have lost, and who I am now.

The example depicted on this week’s poster is Mike Tyson; obviously, my life has not been as extreme as his, but I can relate to his troubles – and even to some of his triumphs.  It’s kind of a crazy feeling for an almost-40-year-old white woman to feel that she has anything in common with the nearly-50-year-old black prizefighter, but there you go, and here we are.Mike Tyson is POTSC!There are times when I feel like a complete and utter failure.  I’m closer to 40 now than I’ll ever be to 30 again, in my third semester of my first go ’round with college, living at home with mom because my job doesn’t pay well enough for me to support myself on my own.  Some days, when I let the enemy creep in and tell me how worthless I am, I feel like Beck’s “Loser” should play as my theme song everywhere I go.

The reality, though, is that the choices I made when I was younger actually created the life I am living right now.  All of those mistakes I made – all the lies I told, all of the people I hurt, and all of the drugs with which I abused my body and mind — ALL of that brought me right here, right now.

And just where is here, you might be asking?

Here is a pretty good life, if I do say so myself.  I’m closer now to my mom and my sister than ever before – they truly are my best friends and the people who understand me best.  I am also taking classes toward a degree in Journalism, which will (hopefully!!) one day assist me in making money with my passion, and on top of all of that, as if that’s not enough, my beautiful daughter is living with me after over a decade of time spent apart!

I, like Mike Tyson, am blessed with an opportunity to live out a second chance.  I, like Mike Tyson, am taking FULL advantage of this opportunity.  How do I know with such certainty that Tyson is wholly deserving of a second chance?  Because the very day that the Tyson poster in the POTSC campaign was revealed, Tyson tweeted on his Twitter account about second chances.  It was a beautiful thing to see!

So many times we view another – or ourselves! – as washed-up, washed-out, or just altogether irrelevant because of the horrible stewards of life they (we) have been in life.  It’s incredible to think that just as God looked at me and saw His beloved child, Angela, worthy of love and grace and redemption and second chances…so does He look at His beloved child, Mike, and see exactly the same things.

As much as I love each and every one of you and as much as I adore seeing your feedback and comments on my blog and my Facebook page, would you guys instead (or also, if you wish) just click here to visit Mike Tyson’s Twitter page and leave him some love and encouragement?

Who is beyond forgiveness for you?

Forgiveness.

It is probably the easiest thing in the world to accept:  “I forgive you.”  Doesn’t it just feel good to hear someone say it?  Doesn’t it act as a soothing balm to a soul sometimes battered with shame, guilt, and remorse?  Of course it does.

But what about when we are called to bestow that balm upon another?  “I forgive you.”    Not quite as easy, when the person these words are spoken to has hurt us, betrayed us, or lied to us.  Not as easy, when the person on the receiving end of that forgiveness may not even think that she NEEDS forgiveness.

Am I forgiven?  Yes, absolutely.  There is no question in my mind that I have been forgiven for my sins – for the lies I’ve told, the people I’ve hurt, and the friends I’ve betrayed.

I AM FORGIVEN.

I am grateful and blessed to be living out my second chance life.  God saved me from myself and a lifetime of resentment, anger, mistrust, and lies and He gave me this beautiful life I live now, full of family, friends, happiness, and love.

But still…when I am confronted with a need in my life to forgive someone else, sometimes I balk.  I feel that the wrong done to me outweighs the wrong-doers deserving of a second chance. I withhold my forgiveness and use it as a shield, to keep from being hurt again.  Fair?  Of course not.

If I were being fair, I would remember my own second chance and realize that if God could forgive ME for the ugliness of my life before Him, then surely I can forgive my friend/family member/co-worker for wrong she has done to me.

It’s difficult at times, of course, but second chances aren’t about it being easy.  Giving second chances to those who hurt us is about grace and love and forgiveness and the ability to show the world what Jesus looks like, through our own lives.

Casey Anthony #neverbeyond

People of the Second Chance has launched a 25-week visual poster campaign: “…25 posters representing well known historical, current and fictional characters who are believed to have harmed society.”  The idea is to get us thinking about grace, forgiveness, and the path to a second chance.  And to help us answer the question:

Who would you give a second chance?  Casey Anthony?  The co-worker who lied to the boss to get ahead over you?  The relative that betrayed your trust?

Yourself?

Whatcha listening to?

Bwahahahaha!  (<– This is my evil laugh.  I’ve been working on it.  It’s about standards.)

Also?  99X lives again in Atlanta!!!!

Here is my auditory bliss of late (click to watch video):

Sail by AWOLnation

Sunset in July by 311

Riptide by Sick Puppies

So…what have you been listening to lately?

Happy Birthday!

On July 23rd, 1976 my best friend was born.

Growing up, we didn’t always get along – but that’s just sisters, right? We argued, fussed, and fought, at times, like cats and dogs.

We ignored advice from our parents to be nice to each other – “One day you’re going to APPRECIATE your sister!”

After high school, I kind of went my own way (a dark and somewhat depressing way, which really does not need to be discussed here), while she went hers. Oh, we spoke and spent time together, of course, and hopefully she knew what she meant to me, but in those days I was a bit of a mess, so I’m sure it was difficult for anyone close to me to believe I cared.

In the last ten years or so, we’ve grown exponentially closer; the last two years, though, have really proven out our parents’ early admonition. I truly do appreciate my sister. Beyond that, I cherish her – her spirit, her light, her laughter, and her heart.

There is no one in the whole entire world who understands me better than she does. With my sister, I am able to share the truth of my soul.

I am her biggest fan – she is my sissy-pooh, my best friend, my confidante, my ride-or-die chick.

I could go on for days, but she likes bullet points. Let me just end by saying…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MISSY! I LOVE YOU!

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