Saturday, February 25, 2017

In the Whirlwind

Build me straight. O worthy Master!
Staunch and strong, a goodly vessel
That shall laugh at all disaster,
And with wave and whirlwind wrestle!
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This week was kind of the concentrated epitome of the last few months of life as it had been going here, but it always requires some background to explain it fully.

Last Weekend
We all have been feeling more ill these past few weeks than we usually do, especially my husband, who never gets sick unless he is under stress and there is a lot of stress between his work and his mother. He has been to Florida three times in the last two months to sort out protecting her estate and get her on Medicaid for long term care in a nursing home.

The fact that his boss was fired just the week before and the man, who had seem to be threatened by my husband and kind of made it difficult for him since he started there has been promoted to manager over my husband and all the other field service engineers, who are not happy about it. So, after getting over a cold that had him down for most of two weeks previously, my husband began to come down with another.

He asked what we needed to do during the weekend as is his custom and I demanded that everyone just rest...and he really did. He slept the better part of both days and we ended up missing church again. I think we have been to Sunday morning services only once since the New Year. 

This was the day I started to have a headache, which obviously suggests that it was the first day of many. Trying to maintain some sense of normalcy, my daughter and I have devotions in the morning as often as we can, but we rarely miss Monday mornings because we flow from devotions with Hearing God Through the Year: The Gospel from Everywhere to Everyone by Dallas Willard into assessing our homeschool of what was done and left undone from the week before and all our plans for the week. All this usually takes half the morning because devotions can also spur conversations, the kind of mother and daughter conversations that I love and feel is beneficial for both of us.

When I look back to compare my daughter a year ago to now, I thank God and I am overwhelmed with pride. She is a normal teenage girl with mood swings, some quite wide, but she no longer sees us, her parents, as the enemy. We are close. She is generally happier than she likes to admit. She has friends, mostly guys. She loves playing the piano again, although she again will not admit it, but now at least she has friends into music, especially one boy, Guitar Guy, who is phenomenal with guitar and his ear training, and he is planning for that to be his career. The Princess has been learning to play my 12-string of late.

Our errand day is always a day of much to do and I did not feel like doing any of it, but this one was more because I have been a board member at the co-op health food store for the last year and the meeting which is usually held on the second Tuesday of the month was moved to this one as last week it would have fallen on Valentine's Day. So after all the errands are done, instead of heading home before traffic, my headache and I had to go back to the grocery store that I shopped at earlier with all the food in my cooler for a meeting that begins at 4:00 and lasts until it is over, which varies wildly from just 30 minutes to around 2+ hours. This one was was one of the long ones.

Traffic in and out of the Atlanta area is fickled. My husband would tell me that if he left the house an hour later to get to a customer site that is about two hours away during the morning rush, he would get there at the same time and without the aggravation. It is like that in the evening too. So, the only real benefit of the meeting being longer, because nothing was resolved, was that it was a breeze to get home. I took sips of my pink lemonade 5-hour energy drink, which is the only thing I have found to ease my headaches with its caffeine and B vitamins, to get through the day.

My husband was working locally on Monday and Tuesday, but he had to leave in the morning for North Carolina, which meant that I and my headache, my new come-and-go-but-never-really-gone-gone headache, would have to take my daughter and her piano to church for the youth band practice. Digital pianos are bulky and heavy, but the new case with wheels we gave the Princess for Christmas is helpful. And the youth pastor had called a meeting with the parents and youth after the Wednesday night service. So after the drop off, I went home, fed all the furry ones, rested for about an hour, and then went back for the meeting, which I thought was about the youth pastor's recent engagement, but...well, leave it to Busy Bee, my name for her here, to surprise us all.

Busy Bee had met a brand spanking new Christian on the first week of December—yes, just weeks ago really—and saw him baptized. They started "officially dating" by mid December. At the end of January she was wearing a ring, but had not made an announcement of the engagement until about two weeks ago. I thought that was what the meeting was going to be about, as she told me that several parents had expressed their concerns over the speed of the relationship.

This meeting was in three parts, but they did not tell us that there was a third part until we had got through the first two:

Part 1 was only the parents with Busy Bee and the pastor up in front and Busy Bee's intended on the side. The announcement was not about the engagement but her wedding date: next week on Friday. I think it delighted her to see the reaction on everyone's face. It would be a private service with just their families and the church would hold a reception for them later on.

Woosh! My headache is now adding its two cents to the conversation to which I am trying to listen. Of course it had to be that way! Busy Bee is a both feet in first kind of person, who believes she can make it work more matter how difficult that may seem to everyone else and most of the time she is right.

We were encouraged to discuss our concerns openly. Of course, everyone was concerned about the timing and with her being a role model for our children. However, the one thing that everyone wanted to say was not being said, probably because it was impolite with Busy Bee's intended right there, so I asked him why so fast especially being that he is a new Christian not having much time to mature in that new spiritually. He became defensive and said that I could not make that judgement because I did not know him...and there is was! He had said it himself and now it could be discussed. None of us, not even the pastor, had been given the chance or time to know him, and yet he was going to be the youth pastor's husband and around our kids because of it.

A marriage can have a rough start and work out well, but right after we found out about the engagement, I talked to her as I have my own daughter, that marriage is not a marriage of two people but two families and it is much better if the two families are invested in the marriage, if that is possible. She had told me that he asked if she had any family and she replied that she had 28 kids. So, she is marrying him to a large church family and we all need time to get to know him so that we are invested. I have been in a marriage where the family was invested in their son's happiness but not the marriage, so when he stepped out of the marriage, they did not help to support keeping it together. I was not family to them. In my family, once you marry into the family, you are family and we all work to help keep the marriage together.

Part 2 was to bring in the youth and go through this process all over again. The kids were all over the map in their responses. One girl just thought it was great. One boy, the son of the associate pastor came up to sit with Busy Bee and her intended to talk with them in a more personal way, so much like his father. My daughter was not enthusiastic and had concerns but did not discuss them because she had talked to Busy Bee about the engagement on last Thursday afternoon and she really had nothing else to say.

Everyone seemed ready to go and then....

Part 3 was completely unexpected. It was to discuss if Busy Bee would continue to be the youth pastor. Whoa! She was willing to quit if her marriage was going to be a problem. It was suggested that while she is not going on a honeymoon, that she still take at least a month off from her duties at the church.

Now I love Busy Bee. She is also our housesitter and we were counting on that as we have to go to back to Florida quite a few times to get things done there. So, at that point I am beginning to realize that she is just not going to be able to do all the things she has been doing including being involved other ministries in the area with youth. Also, knowing how she likes to jump in with her being 26 years old and him being 32, I would be surprised if they wait very long before starting their family.

So, after all that my head pounded and I could not sleep well.

The last time I woke up from the small bits of sleeping I did have to feeling weepy, head pain, sensitive to light, generally sick to my stomach, and food tasted awful! All of which came and went in crashing waves all the day. I just could not function.

My daughter was invited by Guitar Guy (he likes being called that) to an annual conference event for teens through his church denomination, but we were short on facts and being that I was barely functional, my husband took point and got everything arranged last minute with the youth pastor. The Princess would be leaving Friday evening and return Saturday night.

She made an extra effort all week to get her lessons completed just so she could go and now that her father had worked it out, she is very, very, VERY happy. I am, at that point, still not fully functional and looking forward to going to bed early, but....

Leave it to a teenager to add a crisis!

In the evening, my daughter comes in completely unglued screaming through tears that her friend is committing suicide RIGHT NOW. I take that very seriously, but I stay calm and try to get information from my hysterical child so that I can try to get a hold of the boy's parents. After asking another mother whose son goes to the same school to give me the contact information for his parents, I made calls that were not answered and while waiting I began reading through the thread of their Instagram conversation and realize that my daughter was misunderstanding. Actually, my daughter had led the poor boy into this, creating the crisis that was not really a crisis.

So, when I tried to explain to the Princess that she created the belief that he was suicidal and that I was not pleased with the language she used in conversation even though it was obvious that she was very upset and frightened for him, she ran out the front door into the night...and all my pride in her that I wrote about on under Monday went with her!!!

I did say my head was really pounding that day, right? Well, now I am too ill to even try to be upset. I call my husband, who is helpless to help, to tell him of the events of the last 20-30 minutes while I go out in the van looking for my daughter who is in dark clothes and barefooted. Oh, and we have new headlights ordered for the van because they are rather weak and it is hard to see at night. You got to love it when the perfect storm comes together!

I did not find her but she came home as I gave up and was pulling into the driveway. She talked to her father, then I talked to her for a few minutes but I could not focus, and then her father took over again on speaker while I lied on her bed....moaning as quietly as I could wishing I could just go to sleep.

I rarely drink anything with alcohol and hardly ever when my husband is away, but I found a bottle of Mike's Hard Lemonade left over from a case we bought a year ago. And just when I was about three swallows into it, the boy's mother called.

I have to go into my closet to talk so that my daughter will not hear the conversation. Apparently, she and her husband were having a date night out seeing a play and they left during intermission to get home to be sure all was okay with their son. The only message I left them was that I wanted them to call me back...not the message my daughter would have left them obviously.

We talked for about an hour about it and she was very nice and gracious as I was apologizing over and over for my dramatic daughter and ruining their night out. I explained that the Princess seems to attract and be attracted to a number of more troubled and depressed friends, which is true, so in the back of her mind everyone is on the brink of harming themselves. When I took the time to read the conversation I realized that she was the one who brought that up in the conversation, that she was worried about her son doing something like that. When he did not respond as she thought he should if everything was okay, she went ballistic.

Nice woman but still not the best way to meet a parent....and when the conversation ended it was quite late and the drink I had been sipping on did not really help make me sleepy, so I was awake until 1:30 a.m.

I wake up early, but even with little sleep feel far better than the night before. The headache was...well, you know when it is not really hurting, but it also feels like it is not really gone either? That was where I was, but throughout the day it would come and go in waves again.

My daughter and I have devotions in the morning and I talk about her triggers. One is that the boy—hmm, let me call him Templar as it goes with his real name in a way—mentioned that he has had a crush on the Princess for probably two years and he finds her "distracting good looking." (I so love that term as it makes her blush so lovely.) He went to the Home Learning Center when she did but he is a grade lower than the Princess. He explained to her that one day when he was supposed to be taking a test, he did not finish it because she was playing with some other kids outside on the basketball court and he just could not stop watching her.

First trigger: Two years with an unspoken crush is very close to things J-Void, the Stalker, used to tell her, so it makes her uncomfortable and she tries to tell Templar that there are other girls who will like him.

Second trigger: He says he will die when he cannot talk to her while she is away, meaning it as a flirty, joking thing, but the Princess sees the word "die" and her being responsible for his happiness, which feeds the first trigger.

So I was not too surprised as I read a few more back and forth's that she had turned the conversation to him being suicidal, which he assured her he was not. He just did not know how it got to that or how to handle it once she went hysterical and he had to go put his brother to bed. Poor kid.

I assured her that how Templar is expressing himself about his attraction for her is completely normal, balanced, and expected, which surprised her. I think she thought we were against all boys with a crush on her, which is not the case. We probably are aware of far more boys who have crushes on her than she is.

So, although she is grounded from social media conversations for a week, we decided to allow her to still go to the youth conference, which is where she is presently.

My husband planned for us to eat at a new upscale fish restaurant called Bonefish and have a relaxing evening together. Of course, my headache was still coming and going, but the meal was delicious and spending time with my husband was wonderful. As we walked out, my head was really pounding again and I was just a tad unsteady so I grabbed him and to people waiting outside he remarked that I had too much to drink—we both only had sweet iced tea!

And so, here it is the weekend again and my headache is still with me. Oh, and the refrigerator won its war, we are ordering a new one today. More no more defrosting it every two weeks.

My Lord, keep me strong as these storms keep coming at us because we see them on the horizon.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Calexit, an Unintended Comedy Act opinion is that no state can, in any way lawfully, get out of the Union, without the consent of the others; and that it is the duty of the President, and other government functionaries to run the machine as it is. -December 17, 1860 Letter to Thurlow Weed by Abraham Lincoln

While I usually take politics rather seriously...really quite seriously, every now and then I come across something that makes me smirk and roll my eyes, but it is truly a very rare pleasure that find something I would call so ironically ridiculous and amusing that it qualifies as perpetual "comic relief." I will try to contain my laughter while I explain.

California is going to have a vote in the spring of 2019 about whether or not to secede from the United States and become its own sovereign nation. The last time this happened with several southern states, it did not go well, but let's put aside the possibility of another war between the states and just look over their gripes.

The U.S. Government spends more on its military than the next several countries combined. Not only is California forced to subsidize this massive military budget with our taxes, but Californians are sent off to fight in wars that often do more to perpetuate terrorism than to abate it. The only reason terrorists might want to attack us is because we are part of the United States and are guilty by association. Not being a part of that country will make California a less likely target of retaliation by its enemies.

Do they think those tax subsidies toward a massive military budget will just go away? Will California not have to have its own military or does it believe that no military is needed?

Californian is a coastal state that seems to believe without U.S. military services like the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Border Patrol it will be less of a target than it is now. As I see it either terrorists will either attack them while they are weak militarily or they will just infiltrate California because its open immigration policies will allow them to do so. Californians could find that terrorists set up bases there and right on our border. And since the U.S. is at war against terrorists (and countries that harbor them).... Well, at least it will not be another war between the states, at that point it will be more like the West Bank.

California’s electoral votes haven’t affected a presidential election since 1876. On top of that, presidential election results are often known before our votes are even counted. So, why should we keep subjecting ourselves to presidents we play no role in electing, to 382 representatives and 98 senators we can’t vote for, and all the government officials and federal judges appointed by those very same people we don’t elect.

Oh, boo-hoo! Really! California with 55 electoral votes has more than any state! Imagine what the 34 states with just 10 and less electoral votes feel in comparison to California's 55, or the fifteen states with 5 and less, or the eight states with just 3 and less. There are only five states that have 20 or more electoral votes not counting California.

Fact check this: California has 17 electoral votes more than Texas, the second most populous state, and just 3 votes less than the two next populous states of New York and Florida, both having 29 making 58 combined! And yet California is upset that it does have not real influence on the presidential pick for 140 years. Well...what is that favorite chant of the liberals? Oh, yeah. "Tell me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!" The little states and those with smaller populations, minority states actually, still have a voice in the elections because of the republic system with an electoral college...and aren't the liberals the ones who boast that they are pro-minorities?

The U.S. Government maintains a burdensome trade system that hurts California’s economy by making trade more difficult and more expensive for California’s businesses. As long as California remains within this burdensome trade system, we will never be able to capitalize on the trade and investment opportunities that would be available to us as an independent country. On top of that, the United States is dragging California into the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement which conflicts with our values.

For one, California has burden itself with some of the country's harshest laws against businesses that hurts its own economy. Two, President Trump has (in just the last few days) nixed the Trans-Pacific Partnership that was Obama's pet project. 

Since 1987, California has been subsidizing the other states at a loss of tens and sometimes hundreds of billions of dollars in a single fiscal year. As a result, we are often forced to raise taxes and charge fees in California, and borrow money from the future to make up the difference. This is partly why California presently has some of the highest taxes in the country, and so much debt. Independence means that all of our taxes will be kept in California based on the priorities we set, and we will be able to do so while repaying our debts and phasing out the current state income tax.

This is the one that made me laugh the most. What have liberals, particularly Hollywood liberals, been saying for years? That they welcome higher taxes so that the government will have more and better social programs for the poor? Now they are complaining of how high their taxes are because they are subsidizing poorer states? This just sounds like a conservative view to me. What will happen when they figure out that having sanctuary cities (and now wanting a sanctuary country) for all those illegal aliens is a huge drain?

California is the most diverse state in the United States and that is something we are proud of. This diversity is a central part of our culture and an indispensable part of our economy. As a U.S. state, our immigration system was largely designed by the 49 other states thirty years ago. This immigration system has since neglected the needs of the California economy and has hurt too many California families. Independence means California will be able to decide what immigration policies make sense for our diverse and unique population, culture, and economy, and that we’ll be able to build an immigration system that is consistent with our values.

Each state has its own diversity, California does not have a corner on that market, but placing this argument aside. I really have no idea what a California immigration system would look like since it is not explained here, but I have to ask what are the needs of the California economy in regards to immigration? Are we talking Hollywood elitists being able to contract servants and construction workers on the cheap and without providing health insurance for them?

Certain minerals and other natural resources like coal, oil, and natural gas are being extracted from California at below market value rates by private corporations with the permission of the U.S. Government. While a small portion of the revenue is shared with us, our share has been withheld during times of sequestration. That means the U.S. Government is paying their debts with royalties collected from selling off California’s natural resources. Independence means we will gain control of the 46% of California that is currently owned by the U.S. Government and its agencies. We will therefore take control of our natural resources and be the sole beneficiary of royalties collected if and when they are extracted from our lands.

Let's be completely honest here. Most of that natural resources in California would not be tapped at all because of the strictness of California's laws. If California takes control, it will either close them down or make it so costly that it is not worth to extract its own resources. How long will it be before California will need to import resources from other countries that it will not extract within its own borders due to inflexible environment protection laws?

California is a global leader on environmental issues. However, as long as the other states continue debating whether or not climate change is real, they will continue holding up real efforts to reduce carbon emissions. The truth is this country accounts for less than five percent of the world’s population yet consumes one-third of the world’s paper, a quarter of the world’s oil, 27 percent of the aluminum, 23 percent of the coal, and 19 percent of the copper. Independence means California will be able to negotiate treaties to not only reduce the human impact on our climate but also to help build global resource sustainability.

And there is where those harsh laws on businesses will kill its own economy. Environment over economy only works when one country is buying its goods from another that has less restriction because it values economy over environment. The United States tries to keep a balance that is a compromise on both sides of these issues.

By the way, climate change is real. The climate changes every day. The debate is about whether carbon emissions is having a real effect on the environment, especially when we find out that global warming was not just an Earth issue but an issue with every planet in our solar system, because of the higher temperature of the sun. 

The Affordable Care Act was enacted by the U.S. Government to lower the cost of health care and expand health insurance coverage to the uninsured, yet millions of Californians still lack access to quality health care because they can’t afford it. For many, access to hospitals and medicine is a life or death issue. Independence means we can fund the health care programs we want and ensure everyone has access to the medicines they need because our taxes will no longer be subsidizing other states. Finally, California can join the rest of the industrialized world in guaranteeing health care as a universal right for all of our people.

Both California Democratic Senators voted in favor of the Affordable Care Act and in the House is was 34 California Democratic Representatives for and 19 Republicans against. In addition, Nancy Pelosi of California and majority leader even said "But we have to pass the [health care] bill so that you can find out what’s in it....” Is it possible that California politicians really did not know what was in it, yet voted for it, which not only affected its state but all the others?

It was impossible for it to be affordable, but it was a liberal idea so it should have worked, right? So let's see how this one will probably work: Immigrants will flock to California in greater numbers than they do now. Illegal immigrants will probably try to leave the other states just to get California's free health care. Bankruptcy will be within months. Will California then be asking to re-enter as a state?

As much as I hate to say this, health care is not a right. A right is something you have because you exist. It does not infringe on anyone else or on the rights of another. A right is something it would be against the law for it to be taken from you as it is against the law to harm your person or your property or to take the life of another. In the United States, we have a protected right to carry arms, because that right does not infringe on anyone else, but if a firearm is misused, it can, and that is why we have a court system to keep people accountable. Who would one be able to sue if you do not have health care? Can you force anyone to give you health care? Would that not be an infringement of his rights?

California has some of the best universities but in various ways, our schools are among the worst in the country. Not only does this deprive our children of the education they deserve, but it also costs taxpayers billions in social services and law enforcement expenses linked to lacking opportunities resulting from poor education. Independence means we will be able to fully fund public education, rebuild and modernize public schools, and pay public school teachers the salaries they deserve. On top of that, independence means freedom from federal education policies and one-size-fits-all standards set by political appointees on the other side of the continent.

Here I have several thoughts. One is that when a number of illegal immigrants jump the border, they do not speak English nor do their children. Language incompatibility slow the pace in classrooms and the education of all the students suffer. Another is that if California wants total control of education, it should refuse federal funding and tell its politicians that they should not have adopted Common Core back in 2010; it was a choice, not a mandate. California does not need to secede from the United States to fix this one because it already has control over its education.

Of course, before the presidential election, this Calexit idea was already simmering, but when Trump won the presidency, it went into a rolling boil.

Maybe California has gotten a bit presumptuous because it has the 6th highest gross domestic product (GDP) at $2.448 trillion in 2015, which is largely due to the entertainment industry, yet it is ignoring its $778 billion debt. I really do not care if the liberals of California actually manage a secession or not—Bye-bye, Calexit. You have my permission to panic, run away, and take a bunch more libs with you!—although I highly doubt it will. Still, I think about how nice it would be to leave the United States with a more conservative bent. However, despite that it is largely a liberal democratic state, it is highly conservative republican along its eastern border and presently it is said that only 1 out of 3 Californians open to the idea of secession.

In the end, Calexit just is another indication of how terribly polarized my country has become. And I will say that while Trump was not my pick and I may not like many things about his personality, I do like that he is decisive and determined to do as he said he would do. To me, he is like a crude cowboy dressed up in a gentleman's suit. He is not PC and he says what he thinks and follows up with what he said he would do. So far, I am pleasantly surprised with his choices.

My Lord, do help my country to stand strong and stay strong.