Net Neutrality and Spreading the Good News

A few years ago, the FCC ruled in favor of “Net Neutrality.” What this is is that it ensures that any person (like me or any of your other favorite Christian, lifestyle, or mommy bloggers) who puts their content on the internet has an equal chance of people seeing that message. With Net Neutrality gone, internet companies will be able to bundle “packages” together to charge you more for the internet. For example, a basic package may start with CNN and Fox News (like on your cable package), but you would have to upgrade to get other services like Netflix, and upgrade even further to be able to play video games online.

Frankly, there’s no telling what will happen to blogs like this, blogs in general, or even Christian websites like bible.com.

As you know, I have multiple chronic illnesses and going to a physical church is often very difficult for me. When I can’t go to my local church, I attend at lifechurch.tv. Their online church (not just a recording, a meeting of parishioners as well) has spread the Gospel and converted hundreds of people to Christ.

Indeed, the internet at large has converted hundreds of thousands of people, including me. I would not be Christian today if it weren’t for me being able to access websites that aren’t popular or mainstream, and hear the good news from them.

If the FCC overturns the current Title II Net Neutrality ruling, control of the internet will be in the hands of mainstream media companies which, as you know, are rarely in sync with the values of most Christian denominations.

Please consider contacting the FCC and your local congress representatives to urge them to maintain Net Neutrality: https://www.battleforthenet.com/

What should an argument in a relationship look like?

I escaped from a physically abusive relationship. My life was in danger. I am so lucky to get out. Battered wives often try to pretend “this isn’t really happening” and I was no exception. A priest asked me one question and this once tiny question forced me to face what was happening to me and the dire nature of the situation: What does it look like when you two have an argument?

It seems like a simple question, but, as the priest pointed out, he can often get a good picture of the state of the relationship when he knows what the arguments are like. There’s definitely ways to have a good, argument. And just because two people are bad at arguing doesn’t mean that the relationship is abusive. But here are some red flags I’d like to bring up. These are things that should never happen in an argument, no matter how emotionally charged it is or how bad the two people are at expressing themselves.

There shouldn’t be throwing of objects. I, personally, had knives thrown at me. But even safe objects shouldn’t be thrown and shouldn’t be thrown anywhere (let alone at the other person). Throwing things is a demonstration of, “I am so angry that I can break something and, thus, I can break you.” No, the person may not be thinking this literal sentence, but that’s what the movement entails. Not only is it emotional abuse, but it’s apart of the “pre-battering stage”.

Pre-battering violence includes verbal abuse, hitting objects, throwing objects, breaking objects, and making threats. When abusers hit or break objects or make threats, almost 100% resort to battering.

There shouldn’t be grabbing. As a kid, my mom would occasionally do this grab to my arm. It’s tight and firm on my upper arm. Now, my parents are amazing and are amazing at being parents. My mom never did this unless it was necessary, like when I decided to aimlessly walk in the middle of a busy street. And, yes, if I were about to do something terribly dangerous, I would expect my husband to grab me out of harms way whenever it’s possible. But this type of grab in particular (and grabbing in general) is a show of power. It says, “You are going to do what I want and you’re going to do it now.” There’s no reason to make such a statement when talking about finances or chores. No one’s about to step into a busy street here. No one should ever grab you in an argument. It’s emotional abuse, but it also shows the physicality — that this person is willing to use physical threats against you.

You shouldn’t be blamed for his behavior. He is the only person in control of his behavior. God gave us free will at the very beginning of creation when he allows us to choose our behavior, even to the point of choosing to sin. This is a valuable and beautiful gift. You did not make him throw that lamp on the ground. You did not make him grab and twist your arm. You certainly didn’t make him strike you with his fist. Phrases like, “I wouldn’t have done it but you made me.” or “If you didn’t make me so angry, I wouldn’t be like this.” are textbook abuse. These phrases, I feel, are even worse than throwing things or grabbing you because it indicates that the abuser knows what they’re doing is wrong, but is refusing to take responsibility and, thus, refusing to change.

Irrational or unexplained crying. You should feel safe to bring up concerns without an emotional guilt trip. You should be able to say, “I’d like some help with the dishes” without fear that the other person is going to suddenly go from perfectly normal mood, to devastating sobs and waterworks. Yes, there will be individual situations where crying is okay. For example, if your husband is unemployed and you say, “I’m worried about finances” — your statement is valid, but that might be the tipping point where he lets out the emotion and frustration of being unemployed. But if this crying is happening every time you try to discuss something serious, it’s not just an emotion, it’s being emotionally abusive and manipulative towards you. The biggest phrase, in my opinion, is this combo of blaming and tears when he suddenly lets go of your arm and starts crying saying, “I don’t want to be like this but you make me.”

Striking you. When you’re not being abused, this sounds like a no brainer. “If he hits you, it’s obviously abuse.” But when you’re the one getting hit, you try to find every excuse you can give to him because you don’t want to have to face the fact that you’re one of “those” women. I’ll post more on society and domestic abuse another day, but for whatever reason you may be denying it, know that if he hits you, it’s physical abuse. It doesn’t matter if he didn’t actually bruise you. It doesn’t matter if he tried to hit you but missed (for example, if you were able to get out of the way in time). But if you two are trying to talk about something serious, and he tries to hit you, then he’s trying to be physically abusive. It’s not “an accident” to raise your arm and strike someone with it. It’s not an “a well of emotion” to wrap your hand around a knife and attack with it. These are not normal reactions.

Lastly, I want to say that it’s good if he apologizes. But apologizing does nothing to indicate either way whether you’re in an abusive relationship. Abusive relationships operate in a Cycle of Violence. There’s a lead up stage where aggression are rising, there is the actual battery, and then there’s the “honeymoon” stage where everything is great and wonderful and filled with flowers. If you experience battery or aggression on more than one occasion (especially if everything was “so great” in between), you’re currently sitting in a cycle of violence and you can expect it to come back around and try to attack you again unless something very drastic changes.

The biggest thing to know about abuse is that it doesn’t always look like a black eye. There’s so many other ways that even physical abuse manifests itself and it’s difficult to see when you’re in the thick of it. So maybe ask yourself in a journal entry, “What does it look like when we argue?” and just write out (it’s easier to be straight forward when writing than just in your own head) what you generally can expect if there’s an argument. This direct question helped me stop denying what was happening. Having to say the cold words, “He throws knives at me” made it crystal clear and was what allows me to begin my escape.

And here’s some sources about this. They also often come with little “quizzes.” Obviously, no big decisions should be made based off of a quiz, but they can help bring things to your attention that you’ve been pushing away:
Domestic Violence – Cycle of Abuse
Women Are Safe
Clark Prosecutor – Domestic Violence

Headcovering, the quiet, and being set apart

In contrast to my last statement about headcovering (where I go to explain how it can draw extra attention to you), headcovering can also be an escape from the world.

In Biblical history, a veil was used to separate the tabernacle from the people. This is something that designates it as holy and special. Like jewelry, we know that the rings behind the glass are finer than the rings on the counter rack.

Veiling might attract attention to you, but it sets you aside as different than others. After all, how many people in your church are wearing a headcovering? It marks you as something different, set apart from the others.

You have been set apart as holy to the LORD your God, and he has chosen you from all the nations of the earth to be his own special treasure. (Deuteronomy 14:2)

No, simply throwing something over your head doesn’t actually change you, your sins, or your relationship with God. But it does mark you as changed and you were changed via baptism. You are different now. You are set aside. People remark and look upon you as something different because of the headcovering.

My favorite part of wearing a headcovering is when I bend over to pray. When I’m kneeling (or, in the “Episcopal Squat”), the sides of my headscarf slide over and the world is veiled away. I feel alone — just me and God. To all the world, the veil on the tabernacle is closed as the priest is in prayer in the presence of God.

As much as the headcovering brings attention and questions to me, no one interrupts me in prayer when my veil shrouds me like this. It is clear that something special is happening here and there’s nothing more special than a conversation with God.

Headcovering and extra attention

Have you ever worn a red shirt to Target and had random people coming up to you, asking you questions? Often, wearing a headcovering feels a bit like that. It’s as if I’m wearing some church “uniform” and wearing a big sign that says, “Talk to me about liturgy!”

This is actually the most difficult part of headcovering to me. Just as putting on a uniform, or wearing your sorority letters, immediately turns you and your actions into a representative into that organization, putting on that headcovering turns you into an ambassador for Christ. You always were an ambassador for the Kingdom of God, but now you’re in uniform and everyone sees it.

This is excellent in the fact that it proclaims the coming of the Kingdom. But let’s not cover up the fact that this can be really draining for an introvert — an introvert like me.

Yup, I love headcovering but it often feels like work. I never feel like I get negative attention for it, but I do get attention and a lot of it. When I’d rather be in the shadows, people are asking me my testimony. When I’d rather sit quiet as a mouse, people are asking me why I wear it. When I’d rather have my nose in the Bible and the world shut out, people are wanting to tell me how beautiful I am.

I know it sounds awful. But part of being an introvert is that social interactions drain me, instead of revitalize me. I enjoy them, but they are draining none the less. A bit like how I love water parks, but they wear me out. I love these questions and things people bring to me, but I’ll be honest and admit that they wear me out.

But I think that’s part of the purpose of headcovering, at least for me. It stretches my comfort zone to push me to evangelize within the church (the “New Evangelization”). Merely me sitting there with this thing on my head is evangelizing. And every action and word I take with it on my head becomes a statement of “This is how a Christian acts.” To me, the challenge is draining, but I feel it’s worthwhile and when I get through each interaction gracefully, I am grateful that God carried me through.

Headcoverings and beauty

I’ve been using headcoverings in church and in prayer for a while now. People often ask me why I do it, and I have no special reason except that I feel called to. There was a lot of worry in the beginning as to what would happen when I started doing this. What sort of reaction would I get from other parishioners? The things I worried about never really seemed to happen, but a lot happened that I didn’t expect. The biggest of which is I did not expect people to find me beautiful when I was covering up my hair.

First and foremost are that I get comments that I am beautiful. I could do my hair for hours and perfect my makeup and get no acknowledgement, but if I throw a scarf over puffy hair and make no attempts to look beautiful — that’s when I get called beautiful.

Okay, maybe making funny faces ruins the effect of the headcovering!
Okay, maybe making funny faces ruins the effect of the headcovering!

Being called beautiful in this way is actually very humbling. Because it only happens when I’m wearing a headcovering, I know it’s not me that is beautiful. People may not be able to articulate it, but the beauty they see is not from me but, rather, from seeing the outward expression of devotion to God and obedience. Please note I said “outward expression” because I’m far from true obedience and devotion. But even just that outward expression — that glimmer and appearance — is something that people find beautiful.

 

No one would say, “I find obedience to God beautiful.” And, honestly, if I heard someone say that aloud in casual conversation, I might immediately judge that person to be in a less-than-canonical and probably-a-cult group, rather than mainstream Christianity. The words “obedience to God” rarely means what it says it means and, instead, means “obedience to what I say God says.”

But, lo and behold, actual obedience to the actual God based on scripture is something that we naturally find beautiful. Puffy eyes, no makeup, and pasty as a vampire — the beauty in obedience still shines.

Here’s a beautiful resource about headcovering: headcoveringmovement.com and I hope to post more here, too. If you’re interested in getting started, I like using light weight infinity scarves. Not only are they probably already in your wardrobe, but they can be used for other things, too. Here’s some examples:  

Volunteering when Poor

It’s easy to feel like you’re poor. So much around us is urging us to want more and more. But, if you’re sitting here writing (me) or reading (you) this post, it’s likely you’re not as poor as it feels sometimes. It can feel oppressive and trapped.

With so much telling us that we are poor, is there anything we can do to fight back? To make our mark in the sand and say — no, I am richly blessed by got.

The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it. Proverbs 10:22

At least for me, it’s volunteering and giving. I’m not in a financial position to tithe now (but when I did, it was such a blessing, and that will be a post for later), but I volunteer. Taking time which could be used to make money and, instead, offering it to others reminds us that we actually have so much in our lives. We have so much to give.

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16

I am a professional in the web hosting business. I have years of expertise that it more than good enough to deserve payment. But I’m giving that to the church. For me, these actions are easy and repetitious, but for my local parish, they’re difficult and expensive. I might not have money to give, but I have time (which is worth a value on the market) and I’m giving that.

And it sounds so altruistic but it feels good. It feels good because this is the kind of thing that God asks us to do, and doing God’s will feels good inwardly. So please don’t be taken over my despair when financial pressures are squeezing you in so tight. Instead, take an inventory of everything you have, including money but not overlooking skills and items. I feel that when you take full stock, you’ll find that God has given you so much and has done so for you to then give so much as well.

Don’t let chronic illness clutter your heart: organization!

What overwhelmed me on my diagnosis day wasn’t the diabetes. I have a family filled with diabetes so I was ready for it. Instead, it was the stuff. So much stuff! I felt like I was leaving a convention with swag-bags galore! I came home and put the stuff on a table and it was everywhere. Falling out of bags, no rhyme or reason, no organization, and only barely understanding what all the stuff did. It was the perfect picture for how I really felt — out of control.

Seeing all that stuff everywhere broke me.

I still can’t explain why having all those medical supplies strewn out all crazy upset me so much. Let’s be real here — I am not the tidiest person! But to this day, you can get a pretty good idea on how I feel about my diabetes based on how my diabetes supplies are organized.

The things being everywhere weighed me down. It weighed on my heart. I couldn’t keep the supplies where they belonged, let alone keep my blood sugar where it belonged!

Recently, I got my diabetes supplies back in check. I wanted to share some of the ways that keep this overwhelming “stuff” in the house from becoming overwhelming “stuff” in my heart and mind.

I got this under the bed drawer back when I was about to move out of my parents house for the first time. There were actually two but one went missing in a move. In looking at “under the bed organization” lately, the products that are out there are woefully inadequate. Most of the storage, I think, is meant for more long term storage because you’re required to pull the while drawer out just to open it up. It doesn’t matter if what you need is right at the front, you have to pull the whole thing out.

Under the bed medicine organization
Under the bed medicine organization

What I like about this is that it’s a literal drawer that I can pull in and out as needed. I keep the things I want at my fingertips in the front, and the things that aren’t so important in the back. I also like that it’s stackable. Our bed could have two layers, though I know some people’s beds can’t.

But it’s not quite as simple as “get a drawer.” If you were to just throw all your stuff inside the drawer, things would go crazy very quickly. From here, I just used the boxes that my supplies came in (supplemented with Amazon Prime boxes cause we’re straight-up-Amazon-addicts), cut them so that they are shallow enough for the drawer, and used that to separate the supplies from each other.

By doing this, all my supplies are under my control. They sit where I want them to sit. They become my tools, instead of my overloads.

Why it is good to do something frivolous — the lie of productive

It’s easy to take a look around Pinterest or Facebook and see “side hustle” and “how to make money.” These posts are right beside other posts talking about not having enough time to spend with your own children. Let’s be honest — society wants us doing things, productive things, and doesn’t want us to sit idle.

Watercolor work in progress

And there’s some, small, truth to that. There’s a small truth to every good lie. Just sitting around idle constantly is laziness and isn’t a virtue by any means. But in Psalm 46:10, we are asked to “be still” so let’s take a closer look at what’s going on here.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

Certainly, we’re not being asked to be lazy (the Bible has a lot to say about being lazy, especially in Proverbs), but we’re also clearly being asked to pause for a moment.

What are we doing when we are trying to accomplish this “side hustle” or drive the kids around to 8 different activities a week? Under the guise of “productivity” we are actually trying to take control of the situation.

Watercolors

It’s easy to notice this when times are stressful and it’s obvious we’re not in control. But more dangerous are when times are good and easy. The self says, “Look, I can put together a side-business on Etsy and make this money all on my own.” You see, by staying busy it’s easy to think that things are happening just because of the business. “If I work harder and harder things will get better.”

But, instead, God asks us to stop being busy (“Be still”) and acknowledge him as supreme (“and know that I am God” and “I will be exalted”).

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” Colossians 3:23

Is starting that side hustle for the glory of God, or for your own glory (“Look what I can do!”). Especially when, at the same time, it’s proving difficult to find time for the things God has already asked to be done.

But this pull to “do things” doesn’t come from nowhere. We are meant to be productive. But society tries to turn our being into a commodity. It wants our work not to be for the glory of God, but to be for the glory of the business or to create a more voracious consumer.

Even now, as I type this, there’s a little section below where I type in WordPress telling me how “SEO-friendly” (search engine optimization) this post is. As this post is just being drafted, it’s being graded on how well it will be able to pull people into the blog — how useful it will be to the blog. We’re treated no differently. We’re constantly being graded on how useful we are and how much we do.

Staying so busy keeps us from enjoying God’s creation. The weird little hobbies and activities that do not produce income or
are unlikely to produce income. Essentially, what society says “don’t quit your day job.”

Watercolor art of a hand

It shouldn’t all be about our income though. There is a time to work, but we are also asked to pause and enjoy the beauty and greatness of God and his creation. “Silly” little hobbies like painting or hiking. Things that “make no money.” Things just for enjoyment.

I ask that you do not feel guilty for enjoying enjoyable activities. Art was not created for you to feel guilty about enjoying it. Nature was not created for you to feel guilty for appreciating it. Take a moment to be still and widen your life beyond “productivity.”

Emergency Room bag — Preparing to make bad times less bad

No one likes having to go to the emergency room. Most of the time you’re sitting there waiting and waiting and waiting — and that’s if you’re lucky and they aren’t having to do more invasive things. But there are ways to make a trip to the ER more bearable by making sure you have the things you need or want to have. By packing a bag with these things and having it ready to go at a moment’s notice, you can take a load of stress of of your shoulders. This way, you can focus on the actual crisis knowing other things have already been taken care of.

Comfort

  • Socks
  • Comforting religious item (rosary, prayer card, etc.
  • Change of underwear
  • Pajama bottoms
  • Tank top
  • Comfortable wireless bra
  • Snacks and favorite condiments
  • Bottle of favorite drink
  • Normal daily medications and vitamins

Communication

  • List of phone numbers of friends and family
  • Current list of medications
  • List of current doctors
  • Instructions on how to call in sick for work
  • Information about bills (in case you’re unable to drop off that rent check due to the ER trip)
  • Spare phone charger (remember the part that plugs into the wall)
  • Power brick
  • Notebook and pen for writing down doctor’s instructions

Hygiene

Doctors and nurses in the ER generally don’t care about your usual hygiene — they’re just worried about keeping you up and running. But feeling dirty can make a stay feel more miserable than it has to. Doing a few little things to help yourself feel cleaner can help keep your mood optimistic during an unexpected stay. This also goes for your caretaker. Travel size bottles are perfect for your ER bag.

  • Mouth wash (when you can’t brush your teeth, this helps)
  • Dental floss
  • Dry shampoo
  • Hairspray
  • Wet wipes
  • Deodorant
  • Hand sanitizer (easily accessable — MRSA is no joke)

Home

If your family is anything like mine, the first thing out of their mouths is an offer to help. But detailing out long plant watering instructions is the last thing you want to do when you’re in the ER. I, basically, have a little kit in our bag explaining what they can do to help us take care of the house while we’re in the ER.

  • Spare house keys
  • Write instructions on how to feed the pets, water the plants, etc.
  • School and babysitter info so they can help get any children where they need to be.

Entertainment

If you’re lucky, your ER trip is less drama and more boring. Waiting for tests, waiting to hear from the doctor, waiting for blood sugar to finally come down. Pack some things to help make it a little less boring.

  • Old Gameboy with batteries
  • Favorite book

Remember to pack things in the bag for the caregiver, too, not just what the sick person might want. They’re in the ER with you!

We keep our bag right by the front door, hidden behind a chair. A coat closet is perfect for this. If the weather in your area is mild, you could even keep this bag in your car.

As for bag choices, we had a spare backpack. No one cares about fashion in the ER, anyway. I think this bag was my middle school backpack! Having shoulder straps makes it easy to carry along with my shoulder purse, and it also keeps it gender neutral for either of us to be carrying around.

Pump preventative action — save your settings!

Glooko saved my insulin pump settings and saved me so much hassle too!
Glooko saved my insulin pump settings and saved me so much hassle too!

Save your pump settings! When my pump was declared dead by Insulet, the first thing I did was call my endocrinologist. He said he was sending me in a script for Lantus and to take the same amount of Lantus as my total daily basal rate was on my pump.

Well, how much was that?

I certainly wouldn’t have known save for the fact that just a few days earlier, I had gotten curious about glooko. Being stubbornly nosey about technology, I dug up my Omnipod cord that I hadn’t used in years, and got my data synced into Glooko. I don’t really like the Glooko interface (I prefer to use my xDrip+ setup), but it saved me immeasurable stress and drama when my pump died. I would have had to start completely over figuring out my basal and bolus rates. Years of work tweaking those down the drain!

It’s easy to forget that your insulin pump can break, too. Remember to save your settings to make it easier on you if something goes wrong!

I wont say it’s easy typing all these settings back into the omnipod now that the new one has arrived, but it’s a million times easier than starting from scratch.

Please save your settings! I know the CDE told me to do that right when I was diagnosed and I never did until that coincidental upload into glooko.