A Christian’s Plea for Civil Discourse

Having been on three sides of this discussion, as a fundamentalist, a Methodist, and now an atheist, I can say that sure, civil discourse is possible between the more liberal, mainstream Christians and non-believers, but there is no such thing as civil discourse between fundamentalists and anyone else – not even among themselves.

godless in dixie

rachel-held-evansCNN’s Belief Blog posted a short article yesterday by Rachel Held Evans calling for atheists to avoid using the worst of Christian extremism in their critiques against Christianity, offering to return the favor by not doing the same in reverse against atheists. Evans is a favorite Christian writer of mine for the simple reason that she speaks prophetically to the Christian church as an insider. By speaking “prophetically” I mean that she openly speaks up when she sees her friends and fellow Christians saying and doing things which she feels are contrary to the faith, no matter how important or influential those people may be. She holds the professors of her faith accountable to the ideals she feels are central; and those ideals are, in my opinion, some of the better tenets of the Christian faith. Incidentally, those elements which I find praiseworthy are the same principles which can be…

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Fred n Stacy; Forgetting the Past

I must confess: my guilty-pleasure show is Drop Dead Diva on Lifetime.  I have liked that show since its inception, and unfortunately, since I no longer have cable television, I have to wait for new seasons to be released on Netflix before I can indulge. On the plus side, it also means I can sit for hours watching the entire season in the course of a few days, housework be damned. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, the latest season, #4, was released this week for my watch-instantly viewing pleasure.

Before I continue, first a little background for those who might be unfamiliar with the show: Fred and Stacy are two loveable characters who were in a relationship together. Fred was the heroine’s guardian angel, and Stacy is her best friend. At the beginning of Season 4, we find out that through a series of unfortunate events, Fred tells Stacy that he’s an angel and must now go back to Heaven.

Now, back to what I was wanting to say: While Stacy is heartbroken over Fred leaving, he tells her that she will forget ever knowing him. It has to be that way because no one can know he’s an angel. In fact, everyone but the heroine forgets Fred ever existed.

While I was watching this, I couldn’t help but wonder if that option had been given to me if I would’ve taken it. What if, when we break up with someone, we had the capability to forget they ever existed? To be honest, when my ex-husband and I had first separated, I definitely wished I could forget. The emotional anguish was so intense that I had wished for anything to take it away.

As I was pondering the ramifications of forgetting one’s romantic past, I realized something: forgetting not only would relieve the pain I was feeling, but it also would mean that all the lessons I had learned during that relationship and break-up would be lost. Lessons I’d learned about myself and how I react to various stimuli; lessons about healthy/unhealthy relationship conduct; lessons about cohabitation and compromise; they all would’ve vanished along with the pain.

If forgetting was an actual possibility, humans would forever be in a loop of bad decisions/bad relationships/forgetting everything. How we grow, how we move on in life, is because we take what has happened in the past and we learn from it.

I’m glad, now, that I wasn’t able to make that 25 year-old new mom forget all about the man who broke her heart. What I have learned from it and life is far too valuable to me now.

-Rene A.

I am ready for a relationship…

“…the kind that will turn into marriage. I seem to draw men that aren’t available emotionally to commit to that kind of relationship. How do I stop drawing them?”-P.M.P.

“It sounds like you are meeting men in venues where they get to see your pretty face, but not much else. If you want to meet a man who cares about your heart, then you need to be in an environment where you will meet those kind of men. I’m talking about daily life: neighborhoods, communities, churches, workplaces. When they see you interacting with your children they will be able to observe your sweetness, your skills, and all your beautiful qualities. Then they will be attracted to you beyond the surface beauty you obviously have. Be friendly, neighborly, come out of your shell. Smile, make eye contact. Talk. If they are still drawn to you after doing daily life with you, then you know they are ready.” -Lara B.

“I am tired of being the person it takes for them to realize they aren’t available. (I call them stepping stones.) How do I recognize that ahead of time so I can avoid it?”

“You want to look for signs of a “ready guy”. The ones you’re describing seem to want the companionship of a relationship without doing any of the work that a relationship requires.  This is immature.  A mature man will show signs of respect towards women.

For instance, when you are chatting/talking to him late at night and say that you need to get some sleep, does he bid you farewell right away or does he try to keep the conversation going?  Does he respect your choices and decisions, or does he seem to always try to convince you to choose/do something he wants?  When you set a boundary, does he keep it or does he try to push it?

Find a man who respects you, and chances are, you will find a man who is ready for a relationship.” -Rene A.


When I started dating again after my ex left, I noticed a strange, unwelcome pattern in my relationships. After a guy and I would break up, he would find “his one”. Talk about feeling like the wrong kind of good-luck charm! I eventually gave up on relationships altogether thinking I was just meant to stay single.Single-hood lasted for about a year, and I was finally able to heal emotionally from my divorce.

Entering into a new relationship as a whole person is an entirely different ballgame. I respected myself more and was able to create and enforce vital boundaries. Now, while I still don’t want to get married ever again,  I have been in a healthy relationship for over a year now. That may not sound like a big deal to most, but for me, as I look back on how things used to be? It’s amazing progress.

How do I get over being a bad guy picker?

“I seem to pick guys that I wouldn’t have a long term relationship with. The reasoning is they can’t reject me if I would never have a long term relationship with them in the first place. Help.” -Samantha Stone from Newton Falls

“Even though your question is, “How do I get over being a bad guy picker?” I think you addressed the problem already by realizing you have a fear of rejection, yes? So that question seems answered: you choose guys that you can reject, in case they reject you.

“Seems, then, that looking at that fear of rejection would be a good step in the direction of choosing a man who is worthy of you.

“So, face the fear. Face the possibility of being rejected. Let yourself feel that pain. Decide if it’s something you can walk through again.
Begin to live in the truth that you may very well be rejected again, and accept that reality. Will it be as devastating as it was in the past? Will you survive it?

“When your heart is ready for this, it is ready to love again. Because love is always a risk. But, living without love….that’s not much of a choice.” -Lara B.

“When I was a teen, I used to practice flirting on less-than-attractive guys. Shallow, I know. But my reasoning behind it was that if they rejected the flirtation, then it wouldn’t matter so much to me because I wasn’t attracted to them anyways.

“I think when there’s the fear of being left again looming over you, it can make you do things that don’t seem to make sense. You have already completed one of the most important steps in moving forward: you know what your problem is, and you know why you have it. Now, you just need to know how to get out of that bad-relationship cycle.

“Find yourself first! Know what makes you tick, what personalities mesh well with yours, then look for a guy who has what you need. Ask yourself “why?” a lot. Why do you react a certain way to certain stimuli? Why does this or that make you happy or sad? As you figure out the answers to these questions, you will start to know yourself better than you thought possible. What happens if you find things out about yourself that you don’t really like? Realize you are human and give yourself time to improve if that is what you wish to do.

“Most importantly, never factor the future into it; just live one day at a time. I don’t mean that you shouldn’t prepare for your future well-being, but that you should prepare for it as if you remain single for the rest of your life. Even if you find another Mr. Wonderful, there’s no guarantee that he’s going to be in your life forever. There’s a whole host of things that separates couples aside from divorce, but I really don’t want to get too much into “morbid” territory” right now. -Rene A.

My ex moved without telling me…

“…and he won’t tell me his new address. He said, “you have my number.” Um, yes I do but I still need to know where I can get child support. I’m pretty sure he is still in town. Ugh!” -P.M.P.

“Isn’t that against the law? Check your state’s Parenting-Time Guidelines. In my state, you have to notify the other parent AND the court three months in advance of the move, even if it’s across the street.” -Rene A.

“I wouldn’t chase down the child support. That is not a role I want. Instead, I would use an advocate. If the child support is court ordered then the law will track him down.

The most important thing is peace in your own heart. Policing him, forcing him to pay, does not coincide with a peaceful heart or home.

Use the court system so there is a buffer between you. Or let it go. Many single moms have chosen peace over child support and I think that is sometimes very wise.” -Lara B.


One of the things that is just awful about divorce when there are children involved is that there is no closure. Your life with this person is over, but unlike widow-hood, you can’t just bury them in the ground, remembering them fondly for the rest of your life. No, you have to see them on a regular basis as you share parenting time with your kids. And you don’t remember them fondly. Any fond memories that you do have are pushed away by all the ones that led up to the divorce.

It’s doubly difficult when the ex doesn’t think they need to play by the rules. Add to that the incapability to hire a lawyer because of the lack of financial resources, and you have a whole huge stressful mess on your hands!

What you can do: Check your  state’s .gov webpage to see if they have downloadable court documents that you can fill out yourself and file. (for things like custody and child support) For the issue mentioned above, if he refuses to give you his address, contact the court directly. Let them know that your ex moved without disclosing his new address to you, and then follow the advice they give you.

This is a “What would you do?” question:

“Your husband has been inappropriately texting other women. You call him out on it. You separate and encourage him to go to counseling. Well he goes and you attend a few times as well. However, he shows no emotion toward you whatsoever. You talk about filing divorce but he doesn’t know what he wants. Do you give it time or file in order maybe to shake him up? Do you think it’s maybe just depression or something deeper? My sis is in a predicament and just has no clue what to do.” -M.P.  from Louisiana

“I would definitely advise against filing for divorce for the purpose of a wake-up call, unless she is willing to face the scenario that he probably will not wake up. If she wants to try to connect with his heart because she loves him, then I have a good book for her to read. If she is afraid of loss, like everything you had to go through, then she needs to face that fear straight on. Because fear of loss makes people choke what’s left of any life.” -Lara B.

“My sis wants it to work. She’s trying but the counselor has given him things to do like take her on dates and it’s just miserable for her. He shows no interest and when he’s with her he’s just blah. My sis is a strong personality and he’s not strong enough to stand up to her. It’s like he does whatever she wants and is now miserable. Idk..hard to give advice cause after what I’ve been thru the writing is in the wall to me. They actually had a good date today. Idk…he’s so up and down. It’s hard to know what to do.”

“He’s waiting until he knows for sure whether or not this other girl will take him in if he leaves his wife. I’m guessing she gave him the cold shoulder recently so that’s why he’s seemed to warm up to the wifey. It would be a terrible thing to be rejected by two women and end up out in the cold (sarcasm), and if he’s a beta, that’s exactly what’s going on. An alpha would’ve already left her, OR would’ve been smarter in covering up his tracks/being fake-sweet to the wife and all.” -Rene A.

“Just remembering my journey to “letting go.” I believe that all the discoveries (even the inevitable physical affair that I believe will be uncovered) happen in just the right timing for HER heart. Remember how tough this is. Give her grace. She has lots of time to come to all the same conclusions that we have. I’m glad she has you, an experienced person who survived beautifully, to be her companion in this. I’m interested in your heart too, M.P., the desire to protect her from hurt…how frustrating it is that you can’t…. so many paths in this process. But they all have to be walked through. Praying for her. I also believe that God will do huge beautiful things in her, just like he did in you through this journey. Watch for those. <3″ -Lara B.


I remember reeling the first time I discovered texts on my ex’s phone to another woman. I stormed out of the apartment in anger and drove to the library where I spent several hours calming down, reading about Greek Mythology in various encyclopedias.

Eventually, my ex asked me to meet him at a fast-food restaurant so we could “talk it out”. He apologized to me profusely and excused his behavior as “that’s just how people at my work talk to each other.” I forgave him, because what else was I supposed to do? Our daughter was barely one year old, and I was a stay-at-home mom.

Long story short: A few months later, he ended up leaving me for that woman he was initially texting.

I don’t have the ability to “believe that people can change” anymore. We are who we are. Any real change that happens in a person does so through a long, tedious process, and it has to be at the will of that person. They have to want to change so badly that they will take it upon themselves to see that they do. In my opinion, this rarely happens. Rarely does an individual who was so self-absorbed become so self-aware that they see themselves for who they are and seek change.

I would say, “Oh, to live in a perfect world,” but that would just be boring. 😉

Don’t Forget the Advice Asterisk

I just came across this post…awesome advice!

The Gratitudenist

IMG_0020I am falling short in the advice-giving department of parenting, especially with regards to gratitude. I realized this after my teenage son broke his arm skiing recently when he was with friends. A man and his daughter stopped to ask if he was OK.

“I think I need ski patrol,” my son said, grimacing in pain. “My arm feels broken.”

“Your legs still work, right?” the man asked.


“Then you can ski down yourself,” the man said.

“Oh. Yeah. Right. Thank you so much for your help. Thank you!” my sweet son gushed to those super helpful people before getting up and skiing downhill with the broken arm. “And don’t worry, Mom, I thanked them, like, the rest of the way down,” he told me from the emergency room right before the orthopedic surgeon set his bone. Luckily, he didn’t fall and make the break any worse. But he…

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A personal note from Lara B.

I had been really praying that I would be able to find out what was happening in Jarod’s heart. I know he’s been struggling, and when he does, he tends to withdraw. No amount of coercing from me helps. But I really wanna know what’s happening in that heart of his! So, I’m thanking the Lord because HE did it. Jarod was so intent on facetiming with me that he switched coffee shops to get better wifi. Then he talked and talked and talked. There’s only one subject he wouldn’t let me touch on so I’m still praying that he’ll open up to me or someone about it. Suicide. He’s struggled with it in the past, had the Jonathan Hamilton thing this week, and even shared his struggle in an open mic testimony this week. But when I asked him to tell me his thoughts he said, “I try not to think about it.”

Ugh. Anyway, that’s painful, but I’d rather know what’s happening in his heart, no matter if its painful or not. I totally encourage you to make a connection with your kids’ hearts, even the littlest ones, and if you don’t know how, ask the Lord to intervene. It works.  🙂

Here is a great article on how to connect with your children.

If you or someone you know is in danger of hurting themselves or others, please call a suicide hotline. Your safety is important; YOU are important!

Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell

[Hello, this is Rene A. I had started this blog a while back (as you can tell from the date of this post) but have recently decided to re-purpose it as an advice blog with my friend Lara B. I deleted most of the former posts, but I wanted to keep some of the ones I felt were still relevant.]

[This post isn’t very relevant, but I decided to keep it because of the good family memories. ]

Today was the annual C-mas party at the armory. I usually don’t go to it, but since it was my dad’s last year in the military, I decided to make a couple memories.

I think the best one of all was what my dad said about a “potentially gay” member of the company. He was telling me that a few of the other guys were asking him what he was going to do about having a gay male amongst all the other “clearly hetero” men. I loved his response. He said that the young man was here to serve his country and that as long as he does his job, he has no problem with him.

I asked if he could point the guy out to me, but as he looked around the gymnasium, he didn’t see him. Well, I have pretty good gaydar and as I was walking to the ladies room, I saw him. He looked at me kind of sheepishly and I smiled back. I can’t imagine all the shit he’s had to go through in his life, and anyone who joins the military is brave in my opinion. He didn’t know it, but he was my hero today.

I should have made sure he knew it though.

I should have walked right up to him, gave him a hug, and thanked him for serving our country.

If I ever have another chance to do something like this again, I hope I have the presence of mind and the social awareness to think of it and the compassion to do it.

/steps down from my soap box ’till another day.


[Hello, this is Rene A. I had started this blog a while back (as you can tell from the date of this post) but have recently decided to re-purpose it as an advice blog with my friend Lara B. I deleted most of the former posts, but I wanted to keep some of the ones I felt were still relevant.]

Today I found out the reason behind the separation between a friend of my family’s and his wife. They were missionaries to Mexico, and while they were serving at a church, his wife cheated on him with a Mexican man, got knocked up, and left him. She wants to divorce him, but she wants him to initiate the proceedings so he will have to pay for it.

It’s been a year since they’ve separated, and he’d still rather try to get her back than divorce her. I feel really bad for him because she has no remorse over what she did, and she could do it again to him just as easily.

I hope I can convince him to try Divorce Care. This support group for separated/divorced people helped me tremendously when I was going through my unexpected divorce.

I remember how it all began. My husband had come home from work in a mood and didn’t want to talk about it. I pressed him because I didn’t like seeing him in emotional distress. For the next twenty minutes, I got to listen to him tell me everything he didn’t like about me followed by, “I’m not in love with you anymore.”

And you know what? That’s bull. True love is accepting a person for who they are, warts and all.

I’m at the point where I don’t think true love even exists except for maybe a few lucky people. I definitely don’t believe I am one of those lucky people.

I said yesterday that my answer to the “When are you getting married” question is, “Never”, and I think the reason why is mainly because I don’t think I could go through listening to someone tell me everything they don’t like about me again.

The Christmas song “Last Christmas” by Wham says, “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart, but the very next day, you gave it away.” “Gave” denotes that the person handed it to another person when in reality, they threw it away.

Divorce feels a lot like being thrown away, and you’re not even good enough to be put into the recycling bin.

/steps down from my soapbox ’till another day.