This one’s for my Bro

My big brother turns 38 today, so I thought I’d write a post in his honor. No, I’m not going to get all weepy. I promise no stories of childhood antics.

I’ve mentioned a few times that it is only the gifts and talents of the medical industry that we expect to enjoy at little to no cost to ourselves. This is not true. There is another industry that is suffering under the same expectations.

The music industry.

Thanks to digital technology, it is now possible to obtain an entire library of music at absolutely no cost.

I’ve watched people trade hard drives full of music and movies. Hundreds if not thousands of dollars of media exchanged with a wink and a nod.

Um, that’s stealing.

And if you are exchanging the music or movie of an independent artist, that is food out of their mouths.

I’ve been buying most of my music from iTunes for the last few years, but I was worried about the way that translated into payment to the musicians. My brother helped me out with my concern.

He explained that artists that produce for a recording agency get paid a salary, thus where you purchase the music – iTunes or actual CD doesn’t mean much to them. Just purchase the music.

However, if the artist is independent and has produced the album with their own time and money – buy the album. The actual CD. That way they get all of the money. He explained that he gets paid decently by iTunes, but purchasing the CD translates into more cash in his pocket.

So – for the sake of my Bro (and his great wife and adorable children) and other independent artists, buy the whole album.

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I forgot

Five minutes before I started typing this I realized that I had forgotten.

In the busyness of life, the date had totally slipped my mind.

I recall it flashing through one day not too long ago. But the thought didn’t stick. It didn’t ruminate.

It has been nine years.

Nine.

And I forgot.

Six children gone.

A family of eleven suddenly made five.

A 16 passenger van – no longer necessary.

A super-sized dinning room table – empty.

Diapers and wipes – no longer needed.

A home – quiet

Siblings without playmates and confidants.

Parents with aching arms.

They did not forget.

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Homeschooling is not the Problem

Yesterday I wrote a post that may make it appear that I hate homeschooling and blame the system for damaging millions of children.

I do not.

I love homeschooling. I am a proud homeschool graduate. One day I would love to be a homeschool mom.

And no, I do not blame homeschoooling for damaging millions of children. Just a few thousand. I jest. 

Homeschooling did not damage any children.

Sinful people damaged children.

Homeschooling was just the front that was used to avoid detection.

As long as there are humans, there will be evil.

So no, homeschooling has not damaged anyone.

People have done the damage.

And people need to be held responsible.

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Blowing the Whistle

A friend of mine recently had a phone conversation during which her mom confessed to struggling with how to deal with her coworkers. The gist of her words were “They are all your age. I don’t know how to motivate them to work because I beat you regularly to keep you motivated. We work in public and I can’t beat them like I did you.”

I will pause while you go vomit. 

This mother was not speaking of beating her children like a southern grandpa speaks of “beating” his kids. There was no twinkle in her eye as she exaggerated the occasional spanking into “regular beatings.” No, this woman was deadly serious and completely not apologetic as she verbalized that she beat her children.

My friend went on to explain that every time they left the house her mother would say “Remember, we are a happy family.” and “You are not being abused.”

She remembers siting in church and listening to sermons that encouraged the beatings that she received. Her father was a pastor for a while. For a time they traveled the nation preaching about how to have a godly family. They home schooled. They made ALL of their food from scratch. ALL of it.

From the outside the looked like a family straight out of Little House on the Prairie.

On the inside, the children were beaten regularly. They were coached on what to say if social services appeared at the door. It is highly likely that the move from a somewhat “normal” life in Virginia to isolation on a farm in Michigan was to get away from suspicious grandparents.

My friend and her five siblings deal with the effects of their abuse every day. In comes out in choices that most of society does not understand. It comes out in poor health. It comes out fear of other Believers and a complete inability to set foot inside a church.

And it comes out in a superhuman form of inner strength. 

As my friend and her siblings suffer, their mother has continued on with the “American dream.” College and a job in the field of her passion (American history, not sadistic torture), a large house, a new car. She continues the facade of being a “normal, healthy” church member. She was a complete martyr when her youngest daughter became pregnant before high school graduation – a deliberate attempt at emancipation and freedom from the abuse at home.

She will never be held accountable for her actions. Never.

The children are grown and gone. The physical evidence has long passed. No court would uphold any form of charges the children might bring.

There has been an outcry among home educators about the appearance of Homeschoolers Anonymous, Recovering GraceHomeschooling’s Invisible Children, and other apparently anti-homeschooling blogs and webpages. The contributors have been labeled “bitter,” discounted as an annoying minority, and some have been completely tossed to the side since they admit to walking away from the faith in which they were raised.

The truth is that these webpages are the only recourse that these adult children have. They are the only way to bring to light the injustices of their childhood. They are the only way to warn the world of what may be behind the smiling faces of families that appear “normal.”

Maybe one day someone will be able to link the struggles that my friend, her siblings, and so many others suffer with the abuses of their childhoods. Maybe one day these parents will stand before an earthly judge and be held accountable for the hurt and suffering they caused. Maybe.

Until that day, the victims will continue to blow the whistle – because that is all they can do. 

Before you start sending me hate mail, please wait until tomorrow’s post titled “Homeschooling is not the problem.”

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Following your design

Last week I had my first discussion with my academic adviser. We did a quick run-through of the classes that I will need to obtain my bachelor of science in public safety with a specialty in emergency management (that’s a lot of words) before I turn 40. Thankfully, Capella is designed for grownup people with real lives so the plan set out isn’t exceedingly overwhelming. In fact, many of my core courses look exciting.

However, I’m a little worried about the GenEd requirements.

I have to take math. My memories of math are not bad – they just aren’t very…advanced. I never went beyond Algebra 1. My parents had good reasons for limiting my math curriculum and I agreed with them. I’m quite sure that if I had wanted to go further in math, they would have obliged.

But, as my father said, I was not going to be an engineer.

No, I was going to be a stay at home mother. This is what I wanted (and still want), and this is what we had been promised that God wanted.

Caught up in the homeschool/fundamentalist trend of “a woman’s place is in the home,” we were confident that a young man would snatch me up as soon as I graduated from high school. Since I had been completely schooled in the fine arts of home making and was in full possession of a “meek and quiet spirit” (okay, maybe not so much that one…), no godly young man would be able to pass me by. I’m still basing my singleness on a complete lack of godly young men in our society… ;)

But here is the thing – I have been fascinated by emergency medicine since I was young. The entire time I was “preparing to be a keeper of the home,” I was also trying to figure out what was going on in the back of every ambulance I saw. Just ask my friends and family about the rubbernecking that occurred every time an ambulance was in my line of sight.

My parents and I bought a lie. We bought the idea that God made me a woman and that as a woman I had to fit inside a particular box. Any dreams and desires that I might have that didn’t fit in that box were “worldly” and most likely sent to teach me how to withstand temptation…or something.

I was recently asked what one thing I would change if I could go back to any point in my life. Maybe I should have spoken up when I was a teen. Maybe I should have dared to go against the flow. Maybe I should have said as teen what I said in my 20’s – “I’m fascinated by this, I’m going to do what needs to be done to do it.”

Honestly, I don’t like to play with history. While I’m currently frustrated with my lack of advanced math experience and sometimes wonder where I would be if my EMS career had started when it could have (at age 16); I can’t imagine my life any more full than it is today. Looking back just isn’t that productive.

However, I can learn my lessons and move forward. That deep, burning desire in my gut? God probably put it there. He put it there for me to pursue until He says to stop. He put it there because that makes me, “me.” He does not want anyone to be comfortable in a box prescribed by someone else. He wants me to follow my design.

 

 

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Oh. Yeah. That.

A friend of mine was recently discussing the fact that she had just planted some new seeds for the fall. Quite fascinated by Florida’s extended growing period, I asked her how long I could expect my tomatoes to produce. I explained that they were on my screened in porch and were quite tall, but had been disappointingly low on fruit.

Her reply?

“Well, if they are on your screened in porch they are not getting pollinated. You need some bugs.”

Oh. Yeah. That.

She mentioned that I should get some butterflies and my first reaction was somewhat negative. However, the thought of seeing some pretty little butterflies flying around my porch is starting to grow on me. I may have to explore this next spring.

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These are my people

Early this summer I detected a foul taste coming from my sinuses (I know, TMI). Since I didn’t feel sick, I sought advice from some of my “crunchy” friends. Three days of a ton of garlic, vitamin C, and Tea Tree oil and saline sinus flushes, the nastiness disappeared.

But it came back.

I tried the previously successful treatment. It did not work. After three weeks, I gave up and got an antibiotic called in.

Fast forward three days later and I was working with a different partner than usual. Having just gotten over Strep, she asked why I was on an antibiotic. I informed her that the working theory was that I had a sinus infection, but since the symptoms were not my usual symptoms I was taking the antibiotic out of frustration.

She suggested that I have an amoeba in my sinuses. It is eating my brain and the foul stuff I was experiencing was clearly… I’ll let your imaginations take over here.

Fast forward another three days and I was recounting this conversation to my usual partner – while we were putting the truck back together after a call. As I said “in my brain,” a firefighter walked around the truck. Of course he had to hear the entire story too.

Later that day, on another scene, I was dealing with some remarkably tangled oxygen tubing. I mentioned that this was because I had touched it.

The firefighter looked at me and said: “It must be that amoeba in your brain.”

Yup. These are my people.

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