Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Survival Tips: Homework

How To Survive When Your College Algebra Professor Assigns 90 Minutes of Homework Due The Next Day: the blog post I never thought I would write. The very idea sounds horrendous and inconceivable.

Trust me. It happens. Most professors are great about not pulling stuff like that, but sometimes it happens. In that case, here're a few tips and tricks for surviving the night.

Step 1: CHINESE FOOD. I think I heard something about everybody freaking out about "cultural appropriation" and stuff, but I'm not even kidding here. All respect to the Chinese people for coming up with the perfect homework food. My personal favorite is sweet and spicy chicken, and my friend Syl never fails to deliver. He knows me so well that I walked in, explained the situation, and the first thing he said was, "Well then you'd better grab a coffee out of the cooler." ALWAYS TAKE HIS ADVICE.

Step 2: get the foods home. That could be tricky, if you're an utter klutz like me. But it's okay. You can do it.

Step 3: ditch those work duds. They won't help you here. What you need is a solid Gilmore Girls T-shirt and some comfy pajama pants.

This is one of my favorites, and it comes from Kindred Handicrafts on Etsy.

Step 4: If you're like me, your room is basically a mess from January to December. If you're like me, messy rooms stress the ever-living-daylights out of you (paradox much?). So before we get cracking, we have to make sure that the stress level is lower. Don't clean it, just cover it. Out of sight, out of mind.
See that big blanket pile? That's covering up about nine days of dirty laundry (don't judge). I'm not dealing with it, I'm just hiding it.

Step 5: COFFEECOFFEECOFFEE. Start that coffee pot, even though you've got the coffee with your Chinese food. You'll need it. Trust me.


Progress.

Step 6: While that's doing it's thing, pull out your laptop and get that set up. You're also going to want headphones and a good YouTube playlist.



As you can see, it's also crucial that your headphones match your laptop. Nothing works otherwise.

Step 7: You'll need all your homework books. All of them. Not just the problem child of the night. Keep them all on hand because you might need a distraction for a few minutes.

Now you're ready.
Get cracking!

**Note: I still stayed up till eleven thirty working. Coffee was important. I told you so.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Testify

I've debated writing this for about three months now, because parts of the story aren't even really mine to tell at the moment, and sharing these things with you feels vulgar and dark. I don't like sharing pain. I'll share yours in a heartbeat, but I'm much better at dealing with my pain by myself.

But it's time.

So for starters, if you're not familiar with NEEDTOBREATHE's new (ish) song Testify, go listen to it after the jump. (I have no rights to the song, you just need to hear it. Hurry. We'll wait.)

So.

It's the second week of January and I've just left the house to take my sister to dance after sitting on the couch watching my world fall apart at the seams. And I'm angry. I'm angry and scared and my mind is racing and driving is just almost more than I can do because there's so much going on in my head.

I drop her off and then I'm just sitting in the back parking lot at TDA trying to think and it's not working. Trying to rationalize and find the good side of "my mom has a tumor growing in her neck and it might be cancer and they're going to operate in two weeks to take it out."

(okay. typing that felt really good. because there was no good side. nothing.)

And then my bell goes off to tell me I need gas. I can handle that.

Twenty bucks later I'm sitting at the stoplight and KLOVE is playing Danny Gokey's More Than You Think I Am and that feels nice.

Feels like holding me together. Feels like "okay, God, You say You're more than this so make it go away, You're gonna make a miracle, You have to."

(because when your mom might have cancer you kind of just get so freaked out that you find yourself trying to tell God what to do.)

And I can't go home, I just can't, because she's there and the tumor is there and the sadness is there and I'm not ready yet.

I feel a little evil for feeling that way, but it's true.

And then I'm driving, west, and it's dark and the stars are flickering like little tiny sparkles and I should be thrilled to see them but I barely even notice.

The road curves south and the song changes, now it's Hawk Nelson singing about Diamonds, singing about how all of this pain is just turning me into something beautiful like a diamond and that feels nice.

Feels like "okay if I'm going to be a diamond then Mom's going to be okay and we're going to go back to normal and it's all going to be fine."

My blinker clicks softly like a metronome beneath the bass drum of the music and then there's tears, then I'm pounding the steering wheel like those girls in the movies, and I'm parking on the side of the road because I can't flipping see through all of these tears because nobody can say it's gonna be okay. Because this can't be my life. Because I can't be this girl.

Ryan Stevenson picks up where Hawk left off, reminding me about the Eye Of The Storm and how He is there and He is in control and then my little storm passes because that feels nice, because I'm a church kid and I know that the appropriate response when somebody says that God's still in control is to nod and smile and wipe away your tears and pretend that your whole world just reassembled and nothing hurts anymore even though it's all lies. I know that His control is good. But all His control doesn't promise that my mom won't have cancer and chemo and it doesn't promise that she's going to live, and everything still hurts.

But my storm passes and I'm okay again, and there's a little fog around the Monument and I want to be there, I want to be hidden in the fog and the earth and the rocks.

And I'm pulling back onto the pass, and wiping my eyes with my sleeves, and the fog is getting closer, I'm moving up the hills and it's pretty out here and I'm a little bit numb and then

and then He whispered, "this one's for you. turn it up."

so I crank it up, like volume-to-fifty kind of up. I'm excited because this one's for me and maybe it's going to make everything hurt less.

But it's NEEDTOBREATHE. Telling me that I was made to testify. That there is peace and healing and love if I will testify.

I seriously almost change the station here. Because this song obviously isn't mine. This doesn't make anything feel better.

No, Scotty.

Well, but, this can't be for me. My mom might be dying and You want to tell me I have to do a bunch of stuff before You'll make it stop hurting? Dude. No. I'm not listening to this tonight.

Scotty....

God, this doesn't feel good!!

Scotty.

I don't like this song, God.

Scotty.

You just want me to do a bunch of stuff for You... that's not fair, God, You tore my world apart....

Scotty, will you just listen???

Okay.

You were made to testify.

So I've heard.

(when I'm irritated I get sassy.)

You were not made to feel good. You were not made to sing just the feel-good songs.

Well no offense, here, but I mean, You said You were making diamonds, here.

Scotty.

You were made to testify.

Your purpose does not change based on your circumstances.

My goodness does not change based on your circumstances.

If your mom is sick, I am still good.

If your mom is well, I am still good.

If your mom dies, I will still be good.

Your tiny little world does not change Me.

Your purpose is to testify to My goodness and My grace and My love and My healing.

You said You were making diamonds. You said You'd bring healing.

You were made to testify.

I feel pain too, You know!!!!

Oh, Scotty, I know about pain.

You were made to testify. Does your pain change My goodness?

Well, I mean, I guess not.

You were made to testify. Does your pain change your purpose?

Sure would be handy if I could call in sick or something, or if You could maybe do some healing and then I'll testify.

Does your pain change your purpose, Scotty?

no.

I Am making diamonds. I Am making beautiful things. I will bring healing. I already have a plan. I will not leave you. You will not do this alone.

I will bring healing. You will get through this.

But Scotty, you were made to testify. You are My child. I gave My life for you. You were created to testify to My goodness. To show the world that even when it doesn't look like it, I Am still good.

I will heal you. 

Someday.

Somehow.

You don't get to know all the details yet. Maybe she'll be fine. Maybe she won't.

But whatever direction that goes, your purpose does not change.

Through all of this, your job is to testify.

No matter what happens. 

You will testify to My goodness.


Can I just tell you guys straight up, I did not love hearing that.

I didn't love being told that no matter what happened, I was still supposed to testify to the God Who held my mother's life in His hands and may or may not save her.

I didn't love listening to a song that told me that there was peace and healing after I testified.

That didn't feel nice.

I didn't want that.

But here's the second Big Thing I learned that night:

He never asked what I wanted.

God honestly never asked what I wanted. Never has. Never will. What I want really isn't super pertinent.

My job is to testify.

No matter what happens.

No matter how this road plays out.

No matter how much it hurts.

No matter how much I can't see what He's doing.

I don't need to see His plan to know that He is good.

He isn't nice.

But He is good.

And I will testify, no matter what, because my pain does not change my purpose and my pain does not change His goodness and I was created to testify to the God Who can move mountains, to the God Who knows all the things, to the God Who loves me.

My pain does not change His goodness.

and it might have taken me three months to fully accept that, but knowing it is pretty flipping amazing.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Expectations

So y'all know I'm working part-time in a health food store, and we sell a ton of vitamins and supplements and cleanses and dieting stuff. We're a health food store and we have stuff to help you stay healthy.

So when I started working there, I was amazed.

By the customers!

Because I mean, we're a health food store. When I think about customers at a health food store I'm thinking about all those super-fit moms who work out and stuff (kudos to you, ladies) and the gym buffs and the doctors and nurses and those people.

It's much easier to compartmentalize and generalize people than I thought.

But I was wrong.

We have a few of those people, sure. But do you want to know who the vast majority of the people I see are? (weird sentence alert, sorry guys)

The drug addicts. The grungy single moms who haven't had the time or energy to put on real pants (kudos to you, ladies, for getting out of the house and doing stuff). The sick little old men with their oxygen tanks and their suspenders. The fat ones (yeah, I said fat, sue me.). The unhealthy ones. The sick ones.

And I was really flippin' confused for a while about that. Like, what are you doing here? You're not healthy. Don't you know this is a health food store?

*facepalm*

Think about it, Scotty. Think about it.

I work at a health food store. But my main customers aren't the gym buffs and the super-fit moms and the nurses. They're the drug addicts and the overweight and the grungy.

And I'm asking myself why they're there.

They're there to get healthy. That's my job!! My job is to help you be healthy! My job is to point you to the prune juice when you come in telling me you're constipated! My job is to hand you some Resveratrol if you've got heart problems! My job is to give you some arnica gel if you have muscle pain and Hyland's™ anxiety relief lozenges if you're anxious. My job is to help you be healthy.

Do doctors expect to only see healthy people?

No. That's ridiculous. You can shake your head.

So why would I expect to only see healthy people in a health food store? You're there because you're brave and you know you need to be healthy and you're taking the first steps and I am so proud of you. I will not turn you away. I will not frown in confusion. I will not sneer. I will not demand to know why you think you can come to a health food store when you're obviously not healthy.

So I figured that out. Welcome to Nutters, friends, let's get healthy.

But don't we do the same thing in church?

The meth addict sneaks in and curls up in the back pew, barely able to keep his eyes open. The alcoholic stumbles in, clutching his head and crying blood-shot tears. The homeless family slips in inconspicuously, heads lowered. We know them. We see them there.

And our reaction is far too often one of disgust.

"Why are they here? They're obviously not church people."

"Ew, couldn't they at least have showered first? They reek."

"Honey, don't look at them. They're different."

Heck yes, they're different. Everybody's different.

There's a verse in one of the Gospels when Jesus kind of slaps his audience across the face a bit, saying (and I paraphrase) something like "Do healthy people need a doctor? No! Sick people do."

Do healthy people need Resveratrol and prunes and HCL? Maybe, maybe not. Do healthy people really need me to spend two hours with them, walking through the vitamin department, finding supplements that will make them well? Nah.

Sick people need that. Unhealthy people need that.

Do perfect people need to be saved?

Trick question. There are no perfect people. But there are people who think they're perfect, and the Bible says that it is so much harder for them to become children of God because they don't see that they even have a problem.

Do Christians need to be saved? No. We already are.

Do nonChristians need to be saved? Yes!!!!

And truly, where else does the meth addict have to go to learn about Jesus? Where else does that homeless family have? Who else is going to teach the alcoholic how to be saved?

Those things - those are the jobs of the church. And those people, those people that smell and drool and fall asleep in church and wear the same clothes all the time... those are the people who need the church. They need Jesus. (we all need Jesus, amen?)

So why do we mock them? Do we mock the girl with cancer when she shows up at the ER with a fever? Do we mock the boy at UrgentCare who has tonsilitis?

No. We know they need to be there.

And let me tell you right now, those people who don't smell great or look great or have a lot of money? We should know that they need to be in our churches. let's reach out to them.

Welcome to my church. Let's get healthy.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Nothing New

Sin is a big deal.
Sin is scary and ugly and messy. And it's definitely a big deal.
It leaves us scarred and afraid. It leaves us hurt. It leaves us broken. It leaves us uncertain and confused.
Maybe it's someone else's sin -- maybe you grew up being broken by a family that didn't work.
Maybe it's your own sin -- maybe it's something you've hidden from every eye that might spot you and hurt you because you messed up.

But get this:

It's nothing new.

You heard me.

Sin is nothing new.

There is no such thing as a "new sin." God does not look down from heaven at the eighteen-year-old single mom and clap His hands over His mouth because He's never seen that before.

He does not look down at a divorced family in confusion because it's never happened before.

He does not see an abusive parent or an affair or a baby-pre-wedlock as something new.

Your sin is nothing new.

Your sin is not new to God. He's seen it. Trust me, He's seen it all.

Your sin does not surprise Him. It does not throw a wrench in His plans. It does not shock Him.

He is beyond shock. Not only has He seen six or seven thousand years of people committing sin just like you, He saw you doing it before you were around to do it. He knew you would sin and He forgave you for it before it happened. We are blessed to live in 2016, the twenty-first century, two thousand years after God took care of our sin problems. He already made a way. He saw your sin an eternity before you were even alive, and He chose to make a way to forgive that sin.

But it hurts us. Sin hurts. Sin leaves us reeling in broken cycles without forgiveness. We hide it from our parents and pastors and spouses because it hurts. We feel dirty and exposed, but it hurts more to confess.

I heard an analogy this morning in church that compared healing to the pain of dethawing your fingers. Remember being outside in the snow at Christmastime, and snow would fill your boots and your gloves and your snowpants and eventually everything was just numb? And then Mom would call you inside just before frostbite set in, and you'd clutch a mug of hot cocoa or crouch near the heaters to warm up. But warming up hurt! Didn't it? As the blood rushed back to your hands and feet, that was when they hurt the most. Warming up hurt more than being cold. Healing hurts more than living in sin.

But here's the million-dollar-question: if it hurts more to be healed, why not just keep hiding? Isn't that better?

Well, would you rather just stay outside in the snow, waiting for frostbite, waiting for the exhaustion to set in and claim you forever? Or would you like to go inside, and warm up and live, even though it might hurt fiercely for a few moments?

It hurts to confess our sin. We hide it from God, fearing that somehow we will shock Him or ruin His plan for us, or throw Him for a loop and leave Him just as baffled as we are. We fear that He won't be enough to fix us.

What kind of god would that be? A god who is surprised, who can't fix us- honey, that's not God. That's an idol. I can promise you this: He will not be surprised. He will never be unable to fix you.

So how arrogant is that on our part- to think that we can outsin God? To think that we have broken through His grace, that we have used up all of His forgiveness. To think thus is to deny Who He truly is- the God of forgiveness. The God of grace upon grace upon grace upon grace. We are merely mortals, we are small and insignificant. How could we think that we could ever outrun His grace or forgiveness? I would dare to say that that is a bigger hurt against God that whatever sin you could have committed.

Sin may be ugly. Sin may hurt. Sin may leave us spinning out of control and afraid.

But it will never, ever surprise God. No sin is new to Him.

He already knows. He's already been there. He's already made a Way to fix it.

Rest in that.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee

Wounded Knee- probably one of the most well-known of the Indian Wars, right up there with Custer’s Last Stand. Somehow I made it to my junior year of high school without ever really researching the Battle of Wounded Knee, but our literature assignment gave me perfect reason and opportunity to knuckle down and get that done. For the assignment, I read Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, one of the most critically acclaimed accounts of “the systematic destruction of the American Indian during the second half of the nineteenth century.” (see back cover) After reading it, I think this is a pretty great summary of the book. It truly is a thorough, logical account of the Midwestern and Plains Indians, but it doesn’t lack emotion like so many nonfiction history books these days. I wept for Black Kettle, cheered for young Crazy Horse, shook my fist at Army General after Army General, and felt my soul drop into my shoes at the Battle of Wounded Knee.
One of my favorite details about Bury My Heart was that at the beginning of each chapter, Brown listed a sort of timeline for the rest of the world so that going in you would have an idea of what was happening around you. That helped me connect a lot of events and realize more fully how recent these tragic events are to our nation, which brought the facts home even more. Understanding that 1890 was only 126 years ago was huge for me- this was only what, three generations ago? My grandfather’s parents were probably alive then, and yet I know more about the Revolutionary War and the Black Plague than I do about the Indians’ fight for their homeland and battles like Wounded Knee.
Another thing I loved was the open perspective. Anymore, modern historical literature seems to be under the impression that the whole Western Expansion deal was good guys versus bad guys- and it wasn’t! Nothing is here. It wasn’t ‘angry white men murdering all the Indians for no reason,’ and it wasn’t ‘angry redskins murdering all the white men for no reason.’ Brown took a fair look at men like Custer and Red Cloud for who they were and what they did, not what various prejudices ask us to buy into. The fact is, Indians were just as mean as white men sometimes, and white men were just as innocent as Indians other times. It fascinated me how quickly the Indians learned cruel and disgusting ways of retaliation from the white men, which made me think about how much we teach others in everything we do. Even in war! The white men arrived and fought dirty with the Indians, hacking off their limbs and ravishing their women, and the Indians learned to do it right back the next time.
The book focused mainly on tribes like the Sioux and Cheyennes, the ones who fought a number of the major battles. Even at that, it was a little hard for me to follow which chief was from where and did what with whom, but if I focused hard and flipped back a few pages I could usually figure it out. Being unversed in nonfiction, I was worried about getting bored with just the facts, but Bury My Heart was so much more than just the facts. Brown takes facts and cites a billion sources in the back of the book, bracketing chapters with quotes and heartbreaking paragraphs from Indian lips, but in between he fills the pages with emotion and compels the reader to follow the brutal, tragic tales of tribe after tribe fighting for everything they had and losing anyway- losing everything they had and being sent to barren reservations with no food in drastic conditions. I don’t cry over books and I don’t really get into nonfiction well, but I literally could not put this one down. Brown makes their struggles become more relevant to me than the riots in North Carolina today.
The information is well-ordered, being strictly chronological and generally well-flowing. Brown took a wider focus with Bury My Heart; instead of zeroing in on just the Cheyenne or just the Sioux, he compiled all of their histories into one. This makes it easy to get a lot of information all at once, but that information is a little jumbled up at least in my own head. I know I’ve got a pretty hefty list of deeper research projects right now.
It’s hard to narrow down the book into a few paragraphs of ‘this is what it was about’ because truly, it was about so much. Bury My Heart is about the Indians’ war for their freedom, it’s about the white man and his arrogance at times, it’s a heart-wrenching story of a desperate people struggling to survive while the men in power run amuck over everything the Indians thought they could count on. It’s a story of failed interpretations and miscommunications, as demonstrated by the many treaties that were signed and then turned out to not mean what the chiefs thought they meant at all. It’s almost a picture of why democracy is so hard to pull off- the big centralized government back in Washington may have meant well for the Indians; at least, President Grant was certainly not out to annihilate them, but the government’s good intentions meant nothing to the rugged army generals whose first thoughts were to take out the Indians altogether.
Every chief or warrior comes alive on these pages, making it more than just a list of facts. There’s distinct dialogue between chiefs and generals, similar to a novel but this rings truer than that- this is more satisfying. This is my nation’s history, and it sure isn’t pretty but it’s what made us who we are today.
I’m left with a lot of questions after reading Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee. It’s a stellar book, it’s full of information and it’s beautiful to read, but it does something very few modern fiction authors know how to do anymore: it makes you think. Brown will tear your heart out as you watch Black Kettle fight for every inch he has, and ultimately lose everything- but he leaves you with no “this is what was right, this is who was wrong.” In some ways, that may be the best part. Instead of being a shove-it-down-your-throat-until-you-see-it-my-way kind of book, this is a these-are-the-facts-and-I
‘M-going-to-break-your-heart-with-them-but-what-you-do-with-it-is-up-to-you kind of a deal. That’s the kind of empowerment we need more of today; just giving people the honest facts and making them think about it without forcing an angle down their throats.
It took me about a week to read Bury My Heart, and it shouldn’t even have taken that long because I read about three hundred pages in one night. Riddled with cliffhangers and action scenes, the deadline wasn’t the only thing making it impossible for me to put this one down. History is getting so boring these days- people are forgetting how to teach it, but Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee surpassed my expectations of a history book. Instead of being slow and dry and factual, this book came alive and draws readers in by the heartstrings. It’s obvious that Brown cared a lot about his topic, just from the passion and emotion in the writing. If all history books were written like this, I’d wind up with a doctorate and a Ph.D in history.



All sources are from Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee. Dee Brown, copyright 1970.

Libbie Custer: Boots and Saddles

I’ve heard it said that behind every strong man is an even stronger woman. This may not be true in every case, and quite frankly, I’m not inclined to believe it’s true very consistently, either -- but the fact remains, in healthy, married life, much of the energy and well-being of one person is derived from the other half of the relationship. I see this in my parents and those around us, and it’s a joy to watch. And make no mistake, I know some pretty strong women. I could write for hours about my mother, or about the lady in my church who’s outlived three husbands and four heart attacks, or the woman next door who finally stopped doing weed and now runs an adorable little business.
But I’m not going to. These women are all strong, at least in the eyes of the twenty-first century. You want to see strong? Let’s take a look at Libbie Custer, wife of General George Armstrong Custer, first woman to travel with a division of the Army, and author of the first reliable history on the General, “Boots and Saddles.”
Going into her book, I was perfectly convinced that General Custer was a cruel, heartless man who deserved his death in the battle of Little Big Horn. About four pages in, I was a little less certain. Libbie begins her tales with her marriage to the General, barely introducing herself before diving into a delightful anecdote wherein the General learned he was to be deployed into the West, plopped Libbie on the dinner table, and proceeded to dance and holler with excitement. It’s obvious from the first few paragraphs just how much Libbie loved her general, and that love truly held out through the entire book -- throughout his entire life.
She reports that their honeymoon was interrupted by a summons to the West just after the wedding, which turned my stomach just a bit, but Libbie didn’t regard her own feelings. While I would have cried and probably been most upset, she joyfully packed up, skipped her honeymoon, and followed him out to the fort. Time after time, she proves how much she loves him as she follows him everywhere, into the depths of no-man’s-land, through multiple-day-blizzards in a shanty, from Fort Lincoln to the Dakotas and chest-deep in unexplored Indian territory. She leaves nothing out in regards to his courage, stamina, and heroism -- but surprisingly, she writes with little regard to her own emotions throughout their travels. She describes the harsh weather, the grueling travel, and the constant battle to be in control and not hinder the men. Libbie was fully aware that women had never traveled with army commands before, and she knew that, being a woman, she was regarded as weaker. But she was determined to keep those fears unfounded, consistently hiding tears or exhaustion or hunger, simply because she knew that she was expected to keep up with the men. At one point, she describes a time when the command was traveling and ran into a band of Indians that had potential to be savage, and Libbie knew right then that she could die. The men were instructed that whoever was watching out for Libbie was to kill her if the group was attacked. This would have spared her from a brutal murder at the hands of the “savages” and also made the men more free to fight, without having to worry about a woman on top of the Indians. Thankfully, Libbie lived, and kept her head even while knowing that if it came to blows, she would probably be the first fatality. She literally handled it all, without complaining or pitying herself, but always with respect and admiration for her general. This inspired and impressed me, and gave me a deeper understanding of just how weak we are today compared to women like Libbie.
Another thing that fascinated me was the way she referred to Custer himself. He was never “George” and very rarely “my husband,” but always “The General” or “General Custer.” She spoke of him very formally, which I understand was the social norm in those days, but the formality still struck me. It’s so obvious that she loved him, but she never called him sweetheart, baby, or hubby like we do today. She never even used his first name. That degree of respect is astonishing, and it’s beautiful to realize that she could show us just how much she adored him without ever saying his first name.
Her love for him was so fairy-tale ridiculous that I worried a bit at the beginning of Boots and Saddles. I worried that it would be a one-way street, that he wouldn’t reciprocate her love, that she was just an infatuated dreamer and he loved his military more than he could ever love her. The whole skipping-the-honeymoon-to-go-to-a-fort thing was really concerning to me. I also knew going in that Custer fathered a child by an Indian woman, which only added to my fears for Libbie.
But those fears were unfounded! She may have been fairy-tale ridiculously in love, but her general cared for her just as much as she did him. At one point, Custer was court-martialed for leaving his regiment to go visit his wife, just because he missed her. There were very few times when she didn’t travel with him, and when she didn’t it was because he feared for her safety (or possibly because he was working out his little affair? I’m not sure, but I’d definitely like to think of him as more gentlemanly than that.). Regardless, the Custers’ love for each other was by no means a one-way street.
Libbie was a beautiful writer, someone other writers today should aspire to equal. However beautiful her writing was, though, she remained rather intensely biased in regards to her husband. She adored him to the point of being unable to see or document any of his faults, for any reason. She backed him up and believed in him no matter what. While this made their love something incredible, it also skewed the American public’s view of George Armstrong Custer until forty or fifty years ago, when historians really started looking into who he was and what really happened at Little Bighorn. As a result, I had decided that Custer was a “bad guy” of the West way before I even heard of Libbie or considered reading her book.
Finishing the book left me with a pile of tissues, ragged nerves, and intensely conflicted opinions. I know that he led his entire regiment to their deaths because he was arrogant and cocky. I know that he straight-up hated Indians and made no bones about massacring them. I also know that he was the perfect gentleman to every woman in his camp. I also know that he adored his wife. I know that she portrayed him as the most beautiful human being to ever walk the face of the planet, and that she completely convinced me to fall head-over-heels for him.
So what’s my final opinion? I don’t have one. That’s uncomfortable for me, because I always have an opinion. I’ve been known to just ramble about a topic for eight minutes until I circle around and decide what my opinion is. But on this one, I’m going to have to sit out. I loved the book, I loved the way Libbie wrote, I loved learning about life on the Western frontier as an army wife, and I loved every detail she packed into that book. I adored it. I’m in the process of hunting down a copy for myself. If she was still alive, I would be chasing her down for an autographed copy.
But my opinion about Custer? Your guess is as good as mine. He’s like an extreme version of all of us. We all have good sides and bad sides, we all have reasons to be adored and reasons to be hated, we all do dumb things and brave things and kind things and mean things. Custer just took that to an outer extreme that most of us don’t reach, thank God.
I'll leave you with this: he was human, just as much as you or me. We can make him a hero for loving his wife and protecting her and fighting for his country and being a gentleman to his fellow American, or we can make him into a demon for massacring hundreds of Indians for the simple reason of hate. But at the end of the day, he's still just another human being. So who am I to call down judgement upon him?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Friendly Reminder...Those Ain't Pants / Anita Renfroe

Okay, girls. School's starting up soon and for some places it's already begun. For me it starts next Monday. And I know we all like to be cute and dress up...and that's cool! I love it. BUT here's just a friendly reminder for y'all, because first of all I love this song and second of all, she makes a great point and I think this is a message that should be more well-know. So here. Friendly reminder. With all due respect. Take it away, Anita!!




Also just FYI, I don't own the video or anything relating to it. I found it on YouTube and hit the share button.