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I’m two days behind my goal of getting my bullet journal up and running by my birthday, but I dedicated most of today to planning, designing, and making my first few pages.

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My first two-page spread included my habit tracker and the month’s calendar. Because I didn’t get started until later in the month, I decided I would use that “extra” space as a color-coded key for items that are more complicated than “completed” or “not.”

 

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As for the calendar, most of my life is on my Cozi app calendar, as it can send me reminders and such– so I decided that instead of journaling all of the mundane things, I would use the month calendar in my bullet journal to remind me of when important “life events” happen(ed). For example, when did we travel to see family? What day did we see that new movie in theaters? Instead of having to dig through everything, this will be a good place to check for dates I might actually want to know in the future– without having to wade knee-deep in staff meeting appointment times.

 

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I found out that my markers bleed through the paper a little bit after doing this spread, so I tried to repurpose the page that got bled onto. I decided that it would be a good place to put my sticky tabs for use on my meal planner page.

 

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The last page that I made today was a year-long chore tracker. I have sections for weekly, bi-weekly, as needed, and monthly chores. I’m not sure how useful it will be, but that’s the fun of trying something new, right? Although I love the look of the way I did the first two rows of 52 weeks, it was pretty darn time-consuming. For speed and ease-of-following, I ultimately settled on the “counting by 4s, with dots on the 2s” method.

 

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That’s it for now. Drawing all of those (mostly) straight lines is time-consuming!

In the future I hope to make a few more spreads:

  • Birthdays
  • Master Grocery List
  • Master Packing List (domestic and international)
  • Bills (I’ll probably wait to do this one until after we move).

So, stay tuned for some updates!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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No, I’m not planning to spend a night out on the town with the girls, or to buy myself something real fancy.

This year for my birthday, I have decided that I want to start keeping a bullet journal. Ok, ok… so maybe it will involve buying a nice grid paper notebook, but still– nothing too fancy!

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I’m a control freak, but a forgetful control freak, and I’m hoping that keeping a bullet journal will be a good way for me to feel more like I know what’s going on in my life, how I need to shift my focus to obtain my goals, and how to make sure nothing is getting neglected in all the noise. (When the heck was the last time I got my oil changed?)

Through the combination of listing things I want to track, as well as adding ideas I’ve found by scouring Pinterest, this is my proposed list of habits to track:

HEALTH:

  • Cardio workouts
  • Strength workouts
  • Mood
  • Ate breakfast
  • Ate a vegan diet all day
  • Medication compliance
  • Period
  • Acne
  • Luna’s vomiting

RELATIONSHIPS:

  • Did something to help The Husband
  • Call Mom
  • Call Grammy
  • Called a friend (different colors for different friends)
  • Prayer

HOBBIES:

  • Language practice (German (and Arabic?))
  • Piano practice
  • Pleasure reading (new color for each new book)
  • Tried a new recipe

CHORES:

  • Water plants
  • Monthly budget
  • Recurring bill due dates checklist
  • Major house chores
  • Car maintenance

If you keep a bullet journal, or if you were to keep one, are there any other things that you would track? Please let me know!

 

Sometimes the “cause” of my dreams are easy to place. I can find ties between themes in the dream, and things that happened during my waking life. My dream from last night was such a dream.

Yesterday, I read/listened to an article on Deutsche Welle titled “Wie Flüchtlingskinder unter Erinnerungen leiden.” For all you out there who aren’t fluent in German, the rough translation is “How refugee children suffer from memory.” The article talks about how children who have fled war zones and left family and friends, and all things familiar behind continue to struggle with processing these experiences once they reach their new “home.”

This morning, after my husband kissed me goodbye to head off to work and I rolled back over to snooze a bit longer, my dream began.

***

We were clearly in a war zone. I don’t know exactly why we were there, but there we were. We were under attack, bombs and missiles were whizzing overhead, and landing in clouds of destruction. A large crowd of people, including my husband and I, were all trying to fit underneath the protective shadow of the barrier wall.

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As the shower of missiles rapidly approached our stretch of the barrier wall, it became evident that there was not enough room under the shadow of the barrier wall for all of us. There were simply too many people, and as a result, some of us were going to be exposed to the blast. My husband decided to leave the shadow of protection of the wall and try to see if there was extra space in the underground bunker for more people.

He looked back at me from the doorway with a sad, loving look, and then dashed into the darkness of the bunker.

Seconds later, or perhaps even more quickly than that, our portion of the outpost was under fire. Projectiles were everywhere, but I didn’t really process that, because I had just watched a huge missile make a direct hit on the underground bunker.

***

In the next scene of my dream, I am back in my hometown in the USA. I am still in shock. My parents have taken me in. Per the doctor’s suggestion, they are trying to slowly reintroduce me to familiar environments, but I feel like a ghost; just passing through. Perhaps I feel like a ghost because I am haunted by the fact that I do not know whether my husband is dead or alive.

Periodically, I freeze exactly where I am standing and fixate again on trying to remember what happened– sometimes at inopportune moments; but it is out of my conscious control. At the mall. At church. In the middle of a conversation with someone I’ve known for decades. When the overwhelming wave of dread strikes, I succumb to it entirely. I try to replay the scene from the beginning, but every time I get to the part where the missile hits the underground bunker, there is… nothing; it’s like the track in my mind skips. The disk is scratched, and no amount of huffing or puffing, or rubbing it on my shirt is going to bring back the details about what happened between “that moment” and when I was being flown away from it all on a US military helicopter, looking down at all of the ant-sized people still in it.

Did I watch them pull him from the rubble? Did I help dig for him in the pile of collapsed stone? Did a medic tell me that they were taking him to a military hospital somewhere and give me a number to call? Did I cry over his blood-stained face as I held him for the last time? Would they know how to contact me if there was something to tell me?

How do you function without knowing? How can you be expected to function without knowing? How is it possible to even think about doing any mundane task before knowing if your husband is dead, or alive, or dying? How do you survive without knowing if there is any reason to hope?

***

There was more to the dream that I don’t really remember. But, when I woke up, I had a deep gratitude for the fact that it had just been a dream. This is not my reality.

Then I had a deep sadness because this, combined with even more difficulties, may very well be the reality of refugees.

In my dream, although the fate of a loved one was unknown, I came home to my childhood home, with my parents; a familiar country, a familiar language, a familiar culture, familiar people.

For many refugees, none of these additional comforts are likely afforded to them. Their childhood homes and hometowns may be obliterated. Their displaced family members may be assigned to different sanctuary countries or cities and have unreliable contact information. Their new home may have a drastically different language or culture, and they may not know a single person there to help them to navigate it all. In fact, instead of being met with compassionate understanding, they may be met with hostility and isolation.

I have been feeling called to the refugee community more and more this year, as I’ve been trying to figure out where I fit into the Teaching English as a Second Language landscape. This dream is just another instance of confirmation of that call.

I am slowly discovering that I am really a little hippie at heart. Not so much in the free love and drugs kind of way, but in the peace and tree-hugging sort of way.

As a result, I’ve tried to put my money where my mouth is, and so I own a hybrid car, bought a high-efficiency washer and dryer, and only purchase LED light bulbs. These are large, and hopefully only occasional, instances of green choices– but they are the easy part. One purchase, and you get to pat yourself on the back for being “environmentally friendly.”

I’ve found that the real challenge is changing your lifestyle, and doing your best to be the greenest you can be in all of the little everyday things. If you’re up for a challenge, here are the things that we (my poor husband and I) do in our household to save the planet, one little choice at a time:

  1. Use your local library.

    • Between my husband and I, we own a LOT of books and DVDs. In an attempt to reduce our clutter, we have resolved to try and borrow books and DVDs from the library before we purchase them to add to our collection (This goes double for cookbooks). This decision prevents us from ending up with books/DVDs that we aren’t crazy about–
      which end up either just collecting dust, or being listed on Ebay for a fraction of the original cost. In addition to reducing clutter, it saves us money, and reduces the amount of raw materials needed to manufacture the items by using a shared copy. Also, libraries are the best!
  2. Sort it all out — It takes 2.
    • I think a lot of times people fail to recycle because they are lazy. I know that I’m guilty of it. So, in recognition of that, I have tried to capitalize on this laziness in a way that helps the environment: everywhere we have a trash can, we also have a recycle bin. This includes the kitchen, the bathrooms, and in my car. It minimizes the distance component, which makes making the green choice easier and it means that I generally have to empty the bins half as often! Everybody wins all around!

      Disclaimer: these aren’t my bins, but aren’t they cute?

  3. Sort it all out – Go the extra mile.
    • Sometimes you need to take your recycling matters into your own hands. At our last apartment, there was no curbside recycling service available. The city had a recycling center, and it was up to us if we wanted our items to get there. And if we decided to make the extra trip, we had to sort our items by category once we got there. So, I put two sets of these babies on our wedding registry: Although no one purchased them for us directly, they were the first thing we bought with the Amazon gift cards we received. I promptly then labeled them: #1 Plastics, Other Plastics, Paper, Cardboard, Glass, and Aluminium. Obviously, you would label yours according to your needs. My only further comment for you is that if you do choose these bins is to have the heavier materials (glass, paper) in the bottom bins.
  4. Bring Your Own Bag.
    • We must own at least 25 reusable grocery bags of all shapes, sizes, functionalities, and patterns. Although I did buy a couple of them when reusable bags became all the rage about 10 years ago, I’ve found that I’ve acquired more free ones than I can ever practically use by going to conferences in my various fields, or as a “gift” for making a large purchase at one store or another. So, for any non-impromptu shopping trip, there’s really no excuse for me to use paper or plastic bags. Shopping at Aldi helps reinforce this idea for me, as paper bags cost extra!
  5. Recycle the paper/plastic bags you do end up with.
    • Sometimes I’m spontaneous and stop by the grocery store on my way home from somewhere else. Sometimes I’m just forgetful and end up kicking myself for leaving the reusable bags at home when I swipe my first item at the checkout. So when we do end up with grocery bags, we try to reuse them. We use the paper bags to collect our recyclables inside the house, and often reuse them until they rip. As for the plastic bags, I have devised a system: I bought two differently-patterned plastic bag collectors like this one off of Etsy: In one of the collectors we place all of the plastic bags that do not have holes in them. These often get used to line small trash cans around the house, or to clean out the cat litter boxes. In the other collector we place all of the bags that already have holes in them. Once this bag is full, I empty it, stuff all of the plastic bags inside one plastic bag, and then take it to my local Walmart to recycle. Pro-tip: If you stash the bag of bags next to your reusable bags, you’re more likely to remember to take them with you on your next grocery trip!
  6. Enforce a “No Ziploc Bag” rule.
    • In our house, we have a no ziploc bag rule. We use only reusable tupperware for lunches and storage. We do have 1 box of bags in the house for those rare only-a-bag-will-do moments. Other than packing liquids in our luggage for flying, and piping icing onto cupcakes once, I can’t honestly remember the last time I truly needed to use a plastic bag! Again, in addition to being “green,” this tip will save you some green!
  7. Try to avoid paper towels.
    • There are a lot of messes that can be resolved with a dish towel just as well as with a paper towel– especially in the kitchen! I’m trying to train myself to default to dish towels, and to only use paper towels when necessary (I still deem any cat bodily-function mess cleanup as paper towel necessary). We own a lot of dish towels (most of which I didn’t purchase myself and I’m not always sure where they came from). By always having a clean dish towel available, I tend to use them more. I usually wash the dirty dish towels with the bath towels to make a full laundry load. Again, this green tip should save you some green!
  8. Buy your eggs from friends.
    • Is it just me, or are all of the post-college 20-somethings all getting into raising their own chickens? I feel like I have a disproportionate number of friends who are now in the process of raising their own chickens– which is great for me! As a vegetarian, it is important to me that I do my best to avoid supporting factory farming with my money– which is hard to do at the store because there are very loose stipulations for labeling your eggs “cage-free” or “free-range.”  By buying our eggs from friends, we know that the chickens laying the eggs we eat are happy, healthy, and are enjoying all that barnyard life has to offer– for about half the price of the store’s questionably “Cage-free” eggs. Plus, our friends seem to like earning a little extra money and freeing up space in their refrigerators!  And as if that wasn’t enough to convince you, depending on how your friends handle their eggs, if they do not wash the eggs before giving them to you, they are fine to leave out of the fridge for about 4 weeks.
  9. Plan your produce use.
    • To reduce food waste, we only buy food we have a plan to use. Between my husband and I, we pick out 2-3 recipes a week and only buy the produce for those recipes, because otherwise it has a tendency to go bad before we get around to eating it. I’ve also tried, with occasional success, to try and coordinate those 2-3 recipes so if one calls for 1/2 of an onion, so does another– that way the whole onion gets used. 
  10. Compost most scraps.
    • Starting last spring, we started composting all of our kitchen scraps. Veggies, egg shells, coffee grounds, my loose leaf teas… with that and recycling, we put next to nothing in our trash can! If you have a place to take the compost after leaving your kitchen, I’ll swear by this little, almost entirely odorless compost bucket: Full Circle Fresh Air Odor-Free Kitchen Compost Collector – 1.5 gallon

That’s it for us at this point– but we’re always open to learning about more ways to reduce our impact on the environment. If you do anything different, I’d love to hear about it in the comments! Maybe we’ll be able to incorporate your tips into our daily green routine!

According to The Boston Globe, this is the statement that Trump made today (1/29/2017) about the executive order he made, which has been widely referred to as “The Muslim Ban.”

“America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border. America has always been the land of the free and home of the brave. We will keep it free and keep it safe, as the media knows, but refuses to say. My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months. The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror. To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order. We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days. I have tremendous feeling for the people involved in this horrific humanitarian crisis in Syria. My first priority will always be to protect and serve our country, but as President I will find ways to help all those who are suffering.”

I agree that the ban’s common name is a bit of a misnomer, as Christian immigrants and refugees have also been affected, as described in this CNN article.

I also agree that what Trump said may sound good in principle, but it defies facts.

In reference to the 7 banned countries, an article by New York Daily News writes,

“Not a single American was killed on U.S. soil by citizens from any of those countries between 1975 and 2015, according to statistics tallied by the conservative-leaning Cato Institute.
However, the same set of statistics show that nearly 3,000 Americans were killed by citizens from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt in the same time period — with the bulk of those killed being victims of the 9/11 attacks. Yet, people from those three countries are still welcome to apply for U.S. visas and travel permits.”

That CATO Institute article referenced above can be read here, and provides facts such as these:

terrorismvsmurder

Your percent chance of being killed on US soil by a foreign-born terrorist is 0.00003%. You have a 252.9% greater chance of being murdered than dying in a foreign-born terrorist attack on US soil.

According to this article by The Wall Street Journal,

Approximately 85% of all suspects who took steps toward terrorist-related violence inside the U.S. since the Sept. 11 attacks were U.S. citizens or legal residents and about half were born U.S. citizens, New America Foundation officials calculated. Birthplaces couldn’t be definitively determined in 10 of the cases.

None of the major U.S. terrorist attacks or plots on or since Sept. 11, 2001, appear to have been carried out by people from the seven countries. The 19 men involved in the Sept. 11 attacks were from Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. The same is true of other prominent incidents since the Sept. 11 attacks.

In essence, banning these seven countries is like saying you’ve fixed your wasp infestation by chasing one wasp out of the house, when in reality there’s a swarming nest in the attic you’ve left untouched.

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The same Wall Street Journal article quoted a reputable source saying,

“We have a lot of things that we need to build upon, some stuff we need to refine, some stuff we need to do better,“ said Ali Soufan, a former FBI agent who worked on high-profile terrorism cases and worked on some of the systems in place to vet travelers during the Bush administration. ”But we can’t be bulls in a China shop and say you’re not allowed in the U.S., period. Because that’s going to create a lot of animosity and that’s going to feed the ideology of many of the terrorist groups we’re concerned about.”

I agree wholeheartedly.

If you do not, please provide support from reasonably unbiased sources supporting your case, and remain civil in your discourse. Thank you.

Religion is like a day at the race track.

I have given the topic of world religions a lot of thought recently. Admittedly, this allegory has been constructed from my (imperfect) Christian perspective, but this is the allegory I have decided fits best.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8c/Racing_at_Arlington_Park.jpg

We are all patrons at a race track. The rules at this particular track are:

  1. Entry to the track requires a $100 investment, no more, no less, which gets put into an account with your name on it.
  2. You only get to bet on one horse at a time, and each bet is for $9.
  3. If you don’t bet on a race, $10 is automatically removed from your account.
  4. There will be 10 races throughout the day, and you don’t get to leave the race track until the last race is finished.
  5. During Race 10, you have to place a bet, and it’s all or nothing.
  6. You have to pay the House $10 for parking on your way out of the racetrack, whether you won big or lost it all.
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Sample portion of a Daily Racing Form (click to enlarge)

Upon our entry to the track, we all are handed a slip of paper with the day’s odds on it. Many of us, at our first race, really don’t know what to make of all the names and numbers– so we ignore them. Instead, we observe the bets that our parents/guardians (or people we trust) make before we start placing our own bets. We simply copy what they do for the first several races. During this time, we start to notice if our parents seem to be getting it right– if they seem to be making reasonable gains, or if their logic for picking their horses really makes any sense to us. If they do, and it does, we likely will continue to place our bets in the same manner as they do. If they don’t, or it doesn’t, we will start taking a closer look at the paper with the day’s odds, or what other people we come in contact with are doing with their bets.

https://i1.wp.com/media.nbcnewyork.com/images/1200*675/kentucky-derby-betting.jpgThroughout our day at the track, other patrons we come in contact with are trying to convince you to place your bets one way or another– insisting that we can all win big, and that they have the best interpretation and understanding of the day’s odds and that if you stick with their betting algorithm, you’ll leave the track at the end of the day with your pockets full. Some have your best interest in mind and want to spread the luck all around, others don’t have your best interest in mind, and lead you in the wrong direction for their own gain in a “more-for-me” mentality; you have to discern who is who.

https://www.kentucky-derby-online-betting.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/how-to-bet-kentucky-derby.jpgSometimes the popular choice is a “guaranteed” win, but with a tiny payout. Sometimes the unpopular choice is the right choice, and has the biggest payout. Sometimes defying the odds works in your favor, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes going with the crowd works in your favor, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes going with your gut works in your favor, sometimes it doesn’t. It is, after all, a gamble!

Sometimes we bet along with our parents’/guardians’ forecasts, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we don’t want to do the work of crunching the numbers and making heads or tails of the odds sheet and just go with the flow. Sometimes we just bet the same as those around us. Sometimes we just tune everyone out and do our own things because it seems like no one really knows how to win every time.

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Selfies at Churchill Downs.

Sometimes we get caught up in all the noise around us and miss the betting deadline, or get busy with other things, or we lose interest in trying to determine the winning horse all together and just let the $10 evaporate without chance of returns. Some people may be of the opinion that the money they earn here won’t have any bearing on what happens to them when you leave the racetrack at the end of the day, so they don’t bother to try.

Just before race #10, the announcer’s voice booms over the sound system:

Good evening everyone, I hope you’ve had a lovely day at the track! Hopefully you’ve chosen your bets wisely during the last 9 races and have earned a good chunk of change and have the potential to win even bigger in this final race! But, if you haven’t, never fear! You’ve still got those last $10-19 in your account!  Race 10 is about to get started in just a few moments; you all know the rules: you have to place an all-in bet, or lose everything you’ve already earned today. Best of luck to you folks! 

When it comes down to the wire, you put it all on the line, say a prayer, the gun goes off, and you wait for the final crossing of the finish line.

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Ok. I know, I know. It’s not a perfect allegory, and obviously I’ve never spent a day at the racetrack, but bear with me.

A few translations for the allegory:

  • Money = spiritual “currency,” our investments of faith and good works, driven by said faith.
  • Each race = a decision point in life.
  • Each bet = where we actually choose to invest our faith and actions in response to the decision points were are presented with.
  • Winnings/Payout = amount of glory brought unto God, based on our “bets.”
  • Algorithms/strategies = Religions (Catholicism / Lutheranism / Judaism / Islam…).
  • 10th Race = your 11th hour, the defining moments before your death.
  • The Parking Payment booth = the gates of the afterlife.

With the $100 bank account, we all start out even with God. We are all born into this word with the same spiritual potential to win big by pleasing God. What we decide what to do with our spiritual currency (how we place our bets, as represented by our faith and works) determines how much we enjoy our day at the races. Winning is fun, losing is not– since we are stuck at the track until the 10th race, we all want to win as much along the way as possible. But sometimes, even winning comes at a cost:some people may give you trouble for doing better than they did, others may approach you and ask you for your secret. You must decide how to handle these situations.

Each race represents a decision point in life (Yes, I realize that people generally encounter more than 10 decision-points in their lifetime, but regardless of the number, it gets the same point across). There is spiritual “currency” at stake at each decision point, and the investment/bet you make determines the “payout;” which is ultimately the amount of glory brought unto God. If you don’t place any bets or are totally disinterested in “winning,” all of your chances to win are lost at that particular instance.

Algorithms for winning the races are like each of the world’s religions. Each religion has its formula on how to best relate to, and please, God. Each one has a variation of “if you stick with the program, you’ll come out ahead” ideology. At the end of the day, some of them are closer to the real list of winners than others. The interesting thing is, that I think most of our algorithms are flawed (albeit, some more than others). No one has a perfect understanding of exactly how to please God; we have theories, which we have molded into religions. We are doing the best we can to “win” as often as possible based on our own understanding– which, by essence of being human, is flawed.

As children, we don’t really understand how religion (relating to and pleasing God) works. We usually follow in the faith footsteps of our parents/guardians until we are old enough, or wise enough, to try and figure it out on our own. Sometimes we come to the same conclusion regarding the most successful algorithm/religion, a prescribed pattern of decision making, as our parents/guardians. Sometimes we don’t. As people who genuinely care about your wellbeing, it may cause some arguments between you and your parents/guardians if you choose an algorithm/religion different from the one they have decided is the best one out there. Pressure and persuasion to switch algorithms may come from either side, or neither side.

Sometimes when people make decisions about where to place their bets, they don’t take the time and the effort to look at the facts they are presented with. Sometimes we don’t want to do the work of researching the holy texts, the context of holy texts, or making heads or tails of conflicts between religions. Sometimes we just go with the flow. Sometimes we come up with a Frankenstein system of decision making by piecing together other algorithms we have heard, or just make up our own from scratch. Sometimes we just fly by the seat of our pants with what feels right to us at the time. Sometimes the algorithms get it right, sometimes they don’t, and sometimes we all just get a strike of dumb luck. Sometimes we make the right choice for all the wrong reasons; sometimes we make the wrong choice for all the right reasons.

Sometimes we get caught up in the noise of life, or get busy with other things and miss major opportunities to grow our spiritual bank account. Sometimes we just lose interest in trying to determine who or what’s right and just let the funds in our spiritual bank accounts evaporate without any chance of return. Sometimes we figure that we won’t win anyways, so “What’s the point of taking the time to try and figure out where to invest our bets?” and wave the funds in our spiritual bank accounts a “goodbye and good riddance!”

However, just before the end of the day (our time here on earth), we get one last bet. It’s all-in. We have one last chance to consider all of what we were bombarded with during our day at the races, one last chance to sort it out, and put our money where our mouth is. This final bet determines how we leave the racetrack. Do we leave with something to show for our time, or with nothing at all? I chose to include this in the allegory because most religions have some sort of exclusionary clause written in. For Christianity, if you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you win big with entry to heaven, but if you don’t, well… you don’t (John 3:18, anyone?). Per my understanding (which may be flawed), in Islam, salvation is earned by total submission to worshiping God, who is understood to be separate from Jesus (Jesus is one of the flawless prophets, but not the son of God). At the end of the day, you are kind of forced to choose one because the bet you make, your faith and works, can only fall into one final decision — and you either get it right, or you don’t.

After we leave this life, the racetrack, we have to pay our dues to the House for “parking.”

https://i2.wp.com/guardianbooth.com/assets/img/gallery/img6.jpg

If you won races (pleased God) along the way, and ultimately won the last race, $10 for parking won’t be missed; and you’ll get to go home (to heaven) and party with your extra winnings (with extra glory to give unto God) .

If you only won the final race, and came to please God in the 11th hour, $10 for parking will likely let you break just about even, perhaps with a few extra dollars to spend once you get home. Either with the extra winnings or not, since you have the $10, you get to go home (to heaven).

If you lost the final race, or decided not to place a bet at all, $10 will be more than you have in your pockets. It’s between you and the House (God), how that debt gets settled. I don’t claim to know how that works. My algorithm predicts that this results in going to hell; but the god I worship (as I understand Him), although He requires faith and repentance, is also merciful and loving. To repay your debt, do you get taken to prison (hell), to therapy for gamblers (purgatory/reincarnation/…?), or do you just get stuck in a boring waiting room (the grave) until God returns during the end of days and lets you go home (to heaven)?  So, like I said, I don’t really know how that debt is repaid if you lose the final wager. I just know that I plan on making bets throughout my life in such a way that hopefully I don’t have to find out the hard way.

Anyway, that’s the product of a whole lot of thinking on the subject. If you think it’s a winner, cool. If you think it’s a pile of horse $#it, less cool, but, hey; you’re entitled to your opinion. Either way, I’d love for you to (politely) let me know what you think!

 

The intended audience for this post is my Christian readers. If you’re not Christian, you are welcome to continue reading, but I don’t think you will be particularly interested in what I have to say.

In this time of President-Elect Donald Trump, scrolling through my Facebook feed, I see that many of my mid-20’s aged friends are in a call to arms. Many are discussing their pet cause that they now plan to start giving their time and or money to to make sure that one marginalized group or another will have community support regardless of the political minefield that lays before us between now and 2020.

Christians in particular, of all political backgrounds, should also be in a call to arms. As Christians, we need to help ensure basic human decency for all; we are shown time and time again by the perfect example of Christ that it is our job to care for the marginalized. However, a lot of us find ourselves between a rock and a hard place trying to find an organization that supports the targeted groups and Christian values.

The overwhelmingly conservative American politicians elected into office in the 2016 election will likely propose a slew of ultra-conservative policies. If internet chatter can be taken for any indication of what will happen in Washington, I would not be surprised to see bills proposing restrictions on abortion and gay rights. And regardless of how you integrate these issues into your understanding of Christianity — it is no secret that The Church(es) don’t all see eye-to-eye on these issues– if any such legislation is passed, it will likely further strain an already strained system: the Foster Care System.

If you’ve ever read any of my blogs, you probably know that this is my pet cause. And I feel like now, more than ever, it’s a very important place for Christians to be.

I’ve written about different ways to volunteer to help kids in foster care multiple times on this blog (See this post, or this post). But today I want to focus you on one specific charity: Royal Family Kids Camps.

As stated on their website, “The primary purpose of Royal Family KIDS Camp is to give foster children ages 6-12 a week of positive memories and royal treatment in a Christian Camp environment.” Each counselor is assigned a maximum of 2 campers. As a counselor, your job is to make sure that your campers are having fun, staying safe, and learning about how much God loves them. There is a fantastic film called “CAMP” — which is available on Netflix — that shows you what a day at an RFK camp might look like. The first time I watched this movie, it seriously moved me, and I had to write this blog post about it to process all of my thoughts.

Yesterday I made the call to my “local” Royal Family Kids Camp contact. I asked her when their 2017 summer camp was going to be held, and I put it in my calendar. My husband and I are on the list of emails that should receive counselor applications when they are sent out for our specific camp (in January). We are very hopeful that we will be selected to be counselors at a camp in early June.

But why think about volunteering for a summer camp the week before Thanksgiving?

Reason #1: As of right now, very few people have started to make plans for their summer vacations yet, which means most people’s summer schedules are still flexible enough to accommodate spending 5 days/nights as a camp counselor at a Royal Family Kids Camp.

Reason #2: Becoming a counselor for foster children takes a background check and some training, so the due dates for applications are pretty early. Different camps have different application deadlines, but November is early enough to start the conversation with your local Royal Family Kids Camp contact that you should be able to complete all of the paperwork on time. Like I said above, applications for our specific camp need to be submitted in January.

Reason #3: We’re all about to spend the Thanksgiving holiday, celebrating family traditions with our families. As much as we may moan and groan about having to listen to that one uncle talk about politics before dinner, we should not take family for granted, because there are a lot of children in foster care (as of September 30, 2014, “… an estimated 415,129 children…” in the United States,) who don’t have a permanent family — annoying or otherwise.  So, as you’re sitting there, stuffed full of turkey and pumpkin pie, I encourage you to think about whether or not you could afford to spend a few days and nights next summer helping kids in foster care create some positive memories and grow their understanding of how much God loves them, during one of the most chaotic times of their lives.

If you are interested in signing up for a 2017 Royal Family Kids camp with us, message me on Facebook or send me a text or email. I’ll let you know which camp we’re heading to, and maybe we can do it together. We would love to share this experience with you!