Thursday, November 12, 2015

What I learned from atheists.

One of my writings that somehow slipped into the ether, and reappeared :)

Being a Christian is hard, not necessarily doing good, but doing the right thing. It's hard, and it will put up a fight, and you have to fight for it if you truly want it. Letting go of long held personal beliefs that really have little to no basis in scripture is frightening to a lot of people, but this has to be done. Letting go of false teachings, is as important as dying to self.

I recently opened a dialog with a couple of atheists, and these are wonderful, really funny guys. Also very intelligent, which I dig on big time. I told them that a lot of the views fundamentalist Christians hold are false and have no basis in scripture, some are downright hateful. I used to have fundamentalist views, passed down to me from my Mother. Thank God I have a Mother who loved me enough to bring me to church, even though I had to walk away from church to find Christ.

I wanted to talk to these guys, to apologize for things Christians said to them on their show, that were full of hatefulness and judging condemnation, and there was no love in them. As a Christian, we have to be able and willing to cross the battlefield of ideological lines  to truly meet people where they are. That is really hard to do when you have long held beliefs about certain groups of people. Like atheists. But I wanted to ask them for forgiveness, for my own false beliefs, and for the hate they receive from callers on their show. To tell these guys that I was sorry that they've been spoken that way to by such hateful people, people who call themselves Christian, but didn't seem Christ-like at all.

The response I got was encouraging, and heart warming, and I'm so glad that I took that step. Even though I believe in God and they don't, we agreed that some people are very hateful, and hide behind Christ while they hurl that hate at others. That's wrong, and I wish it would stop. Stopping that has to start with Christians though.

Do I still believe (or did I ever?) those things I was taught about atheists? NO!! These are wonderful people, the ones I talked to. Full of forgiveness. They said that these people being hateful didn't bother them, and that they accepted my apology, even though they thought it was unnecessary.

If you want to be a Christian, it's going to fight you, and challenge you. If you want to be a Christian, you have to have radical compassion, and unconditional non-judgmental love for others. You have to meet people where they are and love them where they are, and expect nothing in return. You have to forgive blindly.

That's another thing, forgiving people that say things that deeply hurt you is hard, this is something I'm fighting for very hard right now. I don't want to be angry when they tell me that being transgendered is sinful. I don't want to lash out when they tell me I'm going to Hell because of the way I was born. I don't want to lash out when people say people like me make them want to vomit. I don't want to be angry when people want to hate on me, bully me, or even possibly harm me physically. I've already been wounded deeply by the church emotionally, I don't want to be wounded physically. Even more though, I don't want to hate them, or be angry when or if they do. I want to understand them. I want to understand why they do these things. And I want to walk across that battlefield, open my arms wide and hold them, and tell them I love them.

Because it's true.

Friday, November 6, 2015

"We will not waver; we will not tire; we will not falter, and we will not fail."

America’s potential, said Carly Fiorina, is being “crushed.” America’s military, said Marco Rubio, is being “eviscerated.” Working people, said Mike Huckabee, are “taking a gut punch.” The idea of America, said Bobby Jindal, is “slipping away.”
Donald Trump, as usual, went even further: “We don’t have a country.”
From a Politico article
I'm going to quote Tom Cruise. No, I'm not going to jump up and down on my couch and scream about how much I love America. Though I bet that would make a classic Vine. No, this one is from "Interview With A Vampire", where he says "I think there's life in the old girl yet!"

We have tough decisions. We need intelligent, hopeful people to make these decisions. I'm not saying that Carly Fiorina, and the others aren't intelligent. I can't speak on that, but they've lost hope. Which is frightening to me, because for a long time hope was the only thing keeping me alive. I see white washed tombs and I can't vote for that.

When I think of our military, I don't see it as eviscerated. I see the most fearsome group of men and women to ever march onto a battlefield. I'm not pro-war, very much against it. But I love these men and women who are courageous enough to fight for their loved ones, and for me, and for those of us who can't fight for ourselves.

When I see the "working man" I see my step-dad. A strong, proud American worker, who can do anything. He is beyond awesome. While I'm very adept with computers; I am struck jaw-droppingly dumb at the things he can do. He can build anything. He can fix anything. I think of an old friend who drives a semi delivering goods across our country. I see my Uncle Keith, a farmer. I see my sister Laura, and her husband Jeremy. I see my Dad, once a professional pilot, now he runs a successful computer repair business. I see my friend Emily, a successful writer. Everyone around me, while we may struggle, we are thriving. I don't see people who are beaten. Or "gut punched", I see people living their dreams. The dreams may differ from what they once were, but we are still living them.

America isn't an idea, Governor Jindal. She is an entity. She is alive, her heart pumping fiercely, her eyes shining brightly. As long as there are Americans with hope of much better times to come, America will not fall. We might limp along for a time. But America will not fall.

We have problems. A lot of social issues, massive poverty, attacks on women's health programs and initiatives. We're still fighting against racism, homophobia, transphobia. So many things....but if we don't lose sight of our goal. If we remember the phrase "all men are created equal"; we can't fail.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

You might be an Evangelical if...

This list is taken from an article on Patheos, by Fred Clark.
Link to original article is to be found by clicking right here! Yes, these words, you fool :P

  If your idea of a trip to the Caribbean involves building new outhouses for a missionary school, then you might be an evangelical.

If you feel guilty for not keeping up with your quiet time, then you might be an evangelical.

If you have strong opinions about when, precisely, Amy Grant “sold out,” then you might be an evangelical.

If the first time you saw your uncle’s shot-glass collection, you wondered where he got all those fancy communion cups, then …

If the first time you saw your uncle’s shot-glass collection, you wondered where he got all those fancy communion cups, then …

If you’ve never been skiing without rededicating your life to Christ at a bonfire afterwards, then …

If you’ve lost track of the number of “re-s” you need to add before “re-re-rededicate your life to Christ,” then …

If your favorite painters are Thomas Kinkade and Warner Sallman, then …

If you never watched “Highway to Heaven,” not because it was too preachy, but because it aired on Wednesday nights, then …

If you knew that “Wednesday nights” in the previous joke was a reference to prayer meeting, then …

If you’ve ever tried to calculate the size of a tip in a restaurant based on how it would influence the waitress’s receptivity to the gospel tract you left with it, then …

“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.” If you just shouted, “Where?” then …

If you’ve ever seriously discussed whether using tabs constitutes cheating at Sword Drills, then …

If your answer to the question “What Would Jesus Do?” is “He would wear a T-shirt that says, ‘WWJD?’” then …

If you’ve ever been to a pot-luck dinner featuring more than three varieties of Jell-o salad with shaved carrots and mini-marshmallows, then …

If you’ve ever played the tambourine while wearing a tie, then …

If your gaydar is so bad that you think your choir director just needs to meet the right godly woman, then …

If you can’t look at Kente cloth without thinking what those colors stand for in The Wordless Book, then …

If you’ve ever informed someone you’ve just met that they deserve to suffer in Hell for eternity, and you said this without a trace of anger, then …

If the last rock concert you went to included an altar call, then …

If you own any clothing or accessories that you regard as “a witnessing tool,” then …

If you think the phrase “a witnessing tool” refers to something that’s good to have rather than someone it’s bad to be, then …

If praying in public makes you talk like a 17th-century Quaker, then …

If two acoustic guitars and a Yamaha DX7 keyboard are your idea of a “rock band,” then …

If the only High Church figure you don’t regard with suspicion is Bishop Ussher, then

If your idea of communion wine is made by Welch’s, then …

If you know what burning vinyl smells like, then …

If your boss tells you you’re going to have to go on furlough and your first thought is that you’ll need to prepare a slideshow for the Sunday evening service, then …

If a sentence beginning “Lord, we just, Lord, want to thank you Lord, for just, Lord, just …” doesn’t strike you as either atrocious grammar or a speech impediment, then …

If you’ve ever thought of TMZ as kind of like a prayer list for Hollywood starlets, then

If the words “submissive” and “head” make you think of gender, but not of sex, then …

If you think saying grace loudly is a good way to witness at The Olive Garden, then …

If you’ve ever discussed whether The Flintstones was set before or after Noah’s flood, then …

If your fantasy football team was selected based on the personal testimony of the players, then …

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Love The Way You Lie (rewritten)

I can't really tell you what it is
I can only tell you what it feels like
Like I've got a lump in my windpipe
It's like I can't breathe when I see atrocities
Committed against those that are like me
The anger rises like a sunrise
All I can do is cry
The pain inside fueling me to new heights
I have to do something, but what can I do
I can do nothing on my own, it has to be me and you.

Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
It's alright, I like the way it hurts.
Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
It's alright, I love the way you lie
I love the way you lie.

Have you looked out across the sea of humanity
and see people supposed to be guided by love doing these things
and saying these words that are so hurtful
Sometimes I feel like I've been beaten black, blue and purple
Like a hematoma of the soul and Im in a coma
and I can't wake but I'm aware of the commotion
and all the hate and furor that surrounds it
I don't know how to stop it, and I can't
We have to stop it.
I can't but you and I can.

Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
It's alright, I like the way it hurts.
Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
It's alright, I love the way you lie
I love the way you lie.

I can't scream loud enough to make you listen
it's like you've got some kind of deafness
Keeping you from hearing my petition
I'm in so much pain but you can't see
you just keep throwing all your hate at me
and those like me, not out of spite
but because you think you're right
you think your truth is the only truth to listen to
and it doesn't matter how much pain you put me through
or how many die or are imprisoned
as long as you're right that's your sole concern
but look at me when you say and do those things
that hurt and stab and cut and scrape
look in my eyes as you watch me die,
watch the tears falling from my eyes when i ask why

Just gonna stand there and watfh me burn
It's alright, I like the way it hurts.
Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
It's alright, I love the way you lie
I love the way you lie.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Is Dick Cheney anything like Darth Sidious? (rant...haha)

No. A million times no. And I hate the comparison, usually made by someone who may have seen Star Wars, but doesn't understand it/hasn't read any of the EU novels nor understands  Palpatine/Sidous' motivations. Here are the biggest differences:

Sidious, on the one hand, betrayed and murdered his Master, Darth Plagueis. Sidious didn't care about money, he wasn't greedy, and he was well beyond asshole by the time most were first introduced to him in The Phantom Menace. He was so consumed with power, and the lust for more power, that it absolutely corrupted him. He was evil beyond reason. He actually convinced Darth Vader to kill his own son. THAT is Darth Sidious. . Dick Cheney is a greedy asshole, but he doesn't have the balls to go that far, which is why the comparison fails.
 Dick Cheney is just a greedy asshole, nothing more. He's not evil, just a greedy asshole. Cheney didn't, and wouldn't murder Bush to become President. Darth Sidious would convince Congress to elect him Dictator, then murder Bush, then have everyone in Congress killed, along with all 9 Supreme Court Justices.

If you think you have to attach Cheney to the Sith, or make him Sith like, just don't ok?

Comparison to Darth Vader: A MILLION TIMES NO!!!

Darth Vader fell to the Dark Side because he loved Padme so much, he would do anything for her, including betraying the Jedi Order. He wasn't evil. He was tempted to turn to the Dark Side, because he thought he could save Padme. After he turned, he flew into a rage because Padme died. He fed on that rage, which made him even more full of rage.

Dick Cheney loves money. And himself. And war, not because he likes killing, or others killing for him; but because he loves money. He isn't evil either, just a greedy bastard.

GRRRR... People, read the books!!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Abortions and homeless veterans.

That's a hell of a title, isn't it? What could those two things possibly have to do with one another? Not much, on it's face, but I've been thinking. Congressional Republicans, and some Democrats have had it out for abortion for a long time. Recently they've been at it again. I don't think I've seen one bill proposed this session to even lift a finger to help homeless veterans. These people were and are ready, willing and able to give the ultimate sacrifice for our country's interest. I'm not pro-war, I think it's the most anti-survivalist endeavor we humans have ever undertaken. I do support the men and women who volunteer to, sprint towards danger for those of us who cannot. I don't like to put people on a pedestal, but these people deserve to be there. In one of the richest nations on earth this is how we treat our homeless veterans. "Thanks for your selflessness, and your service, now go live in a box."

Something needs to change. Our priorities are so messed up on this issue. We are bound and determined to make abortion as hard to get as possible, if not illegal, while ignoring the plight of our veterans who come home broken and hurting.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Random Act of Kindness at BK

So I went out shopping with the roomie last night, and nothing seemed to go right, it took several attempts to get the register at Wal*Mart™, and the roomie went to several different places to find a pre-paid card for his cell phone, and no one seemed to have them, so it was a pretty annoying night. We get to BK and the guy in the drive thru ran my card several times and it wouldn't read, so the guy paid for our food and told us to pay him back later. That has never happened to me. I love that guy. Time to go to the bank and get a new card haha.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Coming Out

[This is a "reprint"; originally written by Jennifer Reitz. I'm reposting it here, because it is relevant to my life. The original is here: Coming Out]

Coming Out.

In which is explained some of the reasons anyone would want - or need - to come out of the closet.

    "Why do you have to tell anyone about whether or not you are gay" is a question put to many homosexuals "Can't you just keep your mouth shut - nobody would even be able to tell you were queer! Why rub our noses in what you do in bed?"

    My mother once asked me "Why can't you just be Gay? then nobody would have to even know!"

    Why would anyone ever need to come out, to reveal that they were Queer, whether being Gay, or even Gender Queer, such as the transsexual? Why not stay in the closet, and avoid any difficulty? Why tell? Why not just keep silent?

    Let me explain why.

    The true, heartfelt value of Coming Out is not a lot of things that many people seem to think it is. At the deepest level, Coming Out is not about being part of a community of other queers, it is not about political change or theory, it is not about rubbing anyone's nose in metaphoric do-do.

    Coming Out is a matter of personal validation.

    Our culture still puts a lot of energy into hatred and damnation of difference in general, and being queer in particular. From grade school on, the constant use of terms like 'fag' and 'lesbo' and 'sex change' as curses and disparagement inflicts and instills a deep set shame in almost everyone. This subtle and pervasive bigotry is quickly escalated to actual violence or discrimination that occurs on a daily basis that can affect almost every aspect of life.

    Within such a toxic environment of both overt and covert condemnation, the queer individual is constantly under psychological and emotional attack.

    This attack easily - and early in life - becomes internalized to varying degrees. Not only is the queer individual buffeted by storms of hatred outside, but soon becomes infected with hatred from the inside. Self worth becomes replaced with varying degrees of shame and even self loathing. Inevitably this leads to suffering, and even self destruction.

    A vicious circle is created, one that derives from cultural pressure, and is sustained by internal judgment. The queer person hides to avoid pain and shame. The pain and shame become internalized as the cultural messages that cause it become part of the individual. Constant hiding implies the need to hide, and that need is based on the fear of rejection and harm. The individual, alone against society, finds it difficult to entirely reject the basis of the hatred of so many, and a resulting self condemnation abets the impulse to hide. In turn, the act of hiding reinforces the internalized self condemnation, and so it goes, round and round.

    To Come Out, is to stop hiding, and to break that vicious circle of self loathing.

    We live in a culture focused on family and friends, on human interaction. The basis of most everyday communication is about our lives and our relationships. The closeted individual must either lie about their lives, or must fall silent and otherwise avoid basic human communication.

    Over time, this causes multiple levels of suffering. To feel unable to express the joy of a happy day with a loved one, or to tell a funny story about one's life, or to share wisdom gained, is to be made mute. Such self censorship destroys the soul, and leads to withdrawal and depression.

    When a person dares to Come Out, it is not about broadcasting the wonders of being gay, or of being transgendered, it is simply making a stand against the constant minimization and obliteration of their existence. To be Out is to claim the basic human feelings of dignity, self worth and the freedom to speak, to share, to be. The ability to communicate about one's own life in an honest and real manner, devoid of lies or subterfuge, without fear of discovery or embarrassment, just like any other person, is the deepest reason to Come Out.

    The reason this site exists is because your author decided she was sick of forever being mute. The pain of having to fall silent, to hide, to change a subject to avoid accidental discovery, the constant terror that anyone should find out my awful secret, became too much to bear. I was living like a phantom, hiding invisibly in the shadows and margins of society.

    Basic to that behavior, is the concept that my 'secret' was in fact 'awful'. Why? Why should it be so awful to be a transsexual? Why should it be so embarrassing, so shameful?

    It is true that much of our society has a serious problem with the condition. There are those who feel fatal levels of hatred toward transsexuality, who care nothing about understanding it, or the suffering of its victims. There are narrow souls that refuse to accept the validity of the plight of the transsexual, or who would just as soon see all transsexuals dead.

    There are some potential nasty consequences for the public transsexual, just as there is for the public queer of any stripe.

    But perhaps even more so for the transgendered, because the issue of gender is so important to people. Gender is part of self definition, and intrinsic to the constancy of the world view of many people. Certain that the sun will come up tomorrow, many people also hold sex and gender to be equally absolute. The transsexual calls into question the absoluteness of a fundamental part of reality itself. For those with a weak grasp of reality, this becomes deeply disturbing. The world is not lacking for those with such a weak grasp.

    Even so, even with the possible dangers, there comes a point where hiding, where cowering to avoid the expected disdain of nameless 'others' becomes unendurable. To achieve a solid self worth it sometimes becomes necessary to be open about that self, to simply refuse to be silenced any longer. In order to feel good about my self, I needed to claim the same freedom that most humans take for granted, the freedom to simply exist, as myself, openly.

    Coming Out serves to break the circle of torment and self condemnation. It destroys the act of hiding behind lies, and with it the implication that such behavior is preferable to honesty. It is the supreme act of a person who refuses to be damned, and who stands up as an individual with the basic natural right to exist.

    Coming Out is freedom from enslavement and oppression. It is not easy. It can have consequences. But it sometimes must be done, to stop internalized self loathing, to achieve self acceptance.

    It is not always safe or prudent to Come Out in all circumstances. It is not always wise to be completely open. Sometimes the only rational thing to do is to be invisible, especially for the much maligned transsexual. No one should ever be forced to be Out, just as no one should be forced to hide. But sometimes, sometimes, just to know peace and contentment of self, it becomes useful and important to be Out.

    The bottom line of Coming Out is to be alive in the world.

My Story.

[This post is directed at a person in the comment section of an article related to Indiana's Religious freedom bill. It's the first time I've really gotten everything down, but I felt it was important for me to do, for him. I wanted him to understand me. It started out as a short post in response, but grew from there. It became way too much for a comment thread, so here it is. Here's my story.  ]

I've been reacting with the same aggression you've been using toward me, and it's wrong. Instead of reacting, I need to be responding with love, as Christ would.  Let me tell you my story.

I knew at a very young age I should have been born with a female body. I could never put that into words, that concept at the time was not known to me. I was raised in a strict Christian environment, and having these thoughts were sinful, and the worst kind of wrong. At least that is what I heard in church. I internalized this sentiment, and it grew into a fierce hatred, most directed at myself. I prayed to God to make this go away. I prayed for that a lot. I couldn't be a girl, that was impossible, or so I thought. That hatred quickly over took me, and when I was ten I tried to kill myself for the first time, because I thought maybe I needed to do it myself, since God was not taking this away, or letting me die, I needed to do it on my own.  So I tried to hang myself in my closet, but when I woke up later, the belt I used was hanging around my neck, and I was laying half in and half out of a box in my closet. I stayed there for most of my life, in that closet. Alone.

In my teens, I turned to booze and drugs. A lot of each. Nikki Six, a guitarist for Motley Crue overdosed a few times. At the height of my drug use, had he have known me,  he would have told me to slow down and save some for him. It was that bad, but it kept me numb, which in turn kept me alive.

In my mid twenties, I think I was 24 or so I was at the end of my rope, again. I was tired of being strung out all the time, tired of trying so hard to "act like a man" and failing terribly, tired of dating other women trying to prove to myself that I could do it, essentially using them to try to "be a guy." They usually ended because I wouldn't have sex, the very idea of using that thing made me sick. So I was standing on an over pass one day, I was going to jump, the cars on the freeway below were going pretty fast, I figured it would be over pretty quick. I was finishing a cigarette when this uber preppy looking guy in this crappy red Nova pulled up. I mention these, because he looked so out of place in that car, it was kind of funny, like an 80 year old guy in a Corvette. His name is Bill. He's a great guy, I still consider him one of my best friends, even though we haven't spoken in years. We lost touch a long time ago, and I really have no idea how to find him. Anyway, he and his wife were driving on the freeway. He didn't even see me, but God knew I was there, and told Bill I was getting ready to jump, so Bill, and his wife Jayne (with that spelling, I'm telling you those two did not belong in that car haha) got off the freeway, and came to talk to me. I couldn't tell them why exactly I was going to jump, so I blamed it on the drugs, which was true, but not the whole truth. I wasn't ready to even admit it to myself. I knew that God wasn't going to let me kill myself, no matter what I tried to do, so that was my last attempt, I think. There were so many attempts really, it's hard to keep them straight chronologically, and the drugs kind of affected my memory, so that's kind of shot. I stayed with them for about a year or so, and got off drugs for awhile, but the pressure I was under was too much, so I relapsed.

I stayed drugged until I was 35 or 36, when I moved close to my Mom, she had uterine cancer, and I wanted to be close to her. God helped her beat it, she's doing really well now, we talk on the phone occasionally, but it's strained.When I was 38 I was tired of everything, life, trying to live up to everyone's expectations of me, and I begged God to take this from me or let me die. I knew that coming out would cause me to lose my family, which had been everything to me for as long as I could remember, I come from an incredibly tight knit family, we got together several times a year, we'd come from all over the country and gather at a state park, or Grandpa's house. I loved those reunions, and huge holiday dinners. Poker, football, food and beer, you know. I never got into drinking much, I hate hangovers, but most of my family members are drinkers. Socially, not drunks, you know. I didn't think I'd survive losing them. But something had to give.

I emailed a close friend, and came out to her, sort of to say good bye, I really wanted to die. I apologized for not being honest about who I really am inside, and for causing her pain. We were married about maybe 15 or 16 years before that. I may have been 24 or 25. It lasted a year. She's really the only person I've genuinely loved and trusted. Her name is Michelle. She wrote back about a week later, and told me that I was moving in with her and her family (Her husband, and boys), and she was going to help me come out and get through this. If I didn't come out, and live authentically, I didn't want to live at all. So I moved here, and got into therapy, and slowly started to come out.

I begged God for him to tell me his plan for me, and he's opened doors that I could never open on my own. Forgiving my Dad being one of those things. He was incredibly abusive when I was young. He used to beat me with a 2x4. I carried intense anger for him through most of my life, and one night I was on my bed smoking out my window (cigarettes...tobacco, not pot), and I just started sobbing, uncontrollably. I had no idea why. I honestly felt like my heart was breaking. I was in a panic because I had no idea where it was all coming from, I realized later after I calmed down that it was 40 years of pain leaving me. It was just gone. I know that God took it from me, it's the only rational explanation.

The hate and anger I carried with me through my life was gone, in that moment. God said I didn't need that anymore. So he took it from me. 

I came out to my Mom a few months later, she told the rest of the family, and they all agreed that they didn't want me home over holidays, they didn't want to see me. As much as that hurt, God led me through it. That footsteps poem comes to mind. He really did carry me through it, literally. My friends also surrounded me and walked beside me too. Through that process, I slowly began to accept and respect myself, which turned into love. About maybe a year ago was the first time in my life I genuinely loved myself. Which in turn enabled me to love God more deeply, which of course deepened our relationship. He's guided me every step in the coming out and transitioning process. I know he is with me. When we talk, I feel him physically. I finally have the relationship with him, and Christ that I have always wanted. Growing up in the church, I had seen so many great people of faith, and I wanted what they had. I begged God for that, but until I was ready to be honest with myself, and live accordingly, my entire life would be a lie, and God can't move in a person's life, if they can't even be honest with themselves.

So that's where I am today, very much a woman, and very much a sold out Jesus Freak, and loving each new day that he gives me. The pain of living in a male body isn't lessened, but I know God is moving me toward healing, and I can be patient, and know that my healing will be complete on his schedule, and he's handling it, it's all more than I can handle on my own, so I just let him take care of that. I saw my Mom last year, for the first time in three years. She came to see me. My family still doesn't want to see me, and I know it was hard on Mom to see me, but she did it anyway. So I know God is healing that too. But that's probably going to take awhile. It's ok though. I can wait. If I can at least talk to Mom on the phone every couple weeks or so, I can live with that.


Two weeks ago, I went to church for the first time in lots of years. It was what I've needed for so long, MY PASTOR GETS IT!!! (mostly haha...more than enough). There are so many other people there who treat me normally. I'm in a women's study group, and they are so amazing. I still can't believe it's finally happening. This is what I've needed to move forward with not just my walk with Christ, but my whole life.