Category Archives: Motherhood

Ten Small Changes to Be a Healthier and Happier Mom

Being a mom is tough.  I remember when my son was a baby, survival was the only thing on my mind.  Even though they’re cute and you love them to death, infants and toddlers can tire you out and even put you in a bad mood.  Here’s a list of 10 small changes you can make in order to be a healthier, happier mom:

1. Cut the caffeine.  Coffee might keep you going, but your caffeine addiction – yes it’s a chemical addiction – can dehydrate you (it makes you pee more) and cause you to feel jittery or anxious.  This is not a good thing when you’re already stressed out with a kid.  Have one, maybe two cups a day, but that’s it.  For the rest of the day, sip decaf, herbal teas, or just plain water.  That way, you’ll stay hydrated and energized.

2. Have sex.  A lot of new moms call my show complaining that they are too tired or don’t feel like having sex, as though it’s a terrible obligation or assignment.  However, with all the crazy hormonal changes you’re going through, sex might be just the solution.  Sex is therapeutic.  Orgasms release oxytocin, endorphins, and DHEA, which create positive emotions, release tension, improve mood, and give your immune system a boost. In addition, sex does wonders for that post-pregnancy belly pooch because it strengthens the pelvic floor and the lower abs.  Forget the apple – sex a day keeps the doctor away. 

3. Get sleep.  Sixty percent of moms say sleep is their primary challenge.  Are you having trouble falling asleep?  I suggest 10 minutes of yoga, prayer, or meditation before going to bed.  If you find it really hard to shut off your brain at night, keep a journal on your nightstand and before you go to sleep, jot down your to-do list for the next day. Anything that is worrying you, write it down. By getting it on paper, you can say to yourself, “It’s taken care of, now I can sleep.”

4. Eat breakfast.  It’s the first meal (you are “breaking the fast”), and it sets the tone for the rest of the day.  You need to put food in your belly within a half hour of waking up to rev up your metabolism and get your brain going.  Aim for a mix of protein and fiber, such as yogurt with fresh fruit or oatmeal with berries and almonds.

5. Don’t set unrealistic goals.  Don’t overload your brain with 40 million things you think you need to get done.  You won’t stick to what you can’t do.  For example, instead of looking at exercise in terms of weight-loss, approach it in terms of endurance.  When you start off, it may take you an hour to go around the neighborhood. A week later it may take 58 minutes, and then the next week 56 minutes, etc.  That kind of observation is better than stepping on a scale and getting demoralized.

6. Listen to music.  Just like Mother Laura has been saying for years, a recent scientific review published in the journal Nutrition reports that listening to music strengthens immunity, digestion, and pain perception, reduces the incidence of heart failure, and even improves recovery time after a strenuous workout. So, load up your iPod with the kind of music that makes you feel good.  For me, that’s Motown.  When the music comes on, my mind immediately goes blank and I’m just movin’. 

7. Cut out the packaged foods.  Eating any kind of food that can last a long time on the shelf makes you live a shorter amount of time.  Instead of packaged snacks, eat real food.  No antibiotics, hormones, chemicals, or added sugar.

8. Snack smart.  There are times when I get out a teaspoon of peanut butter, lay it in my mouth, and just let it melt (if you have to talk, I don’t recommend doing this).  It keeps my blood sugar up, and it’s a good source of protein.

9. Make your workouts work for you.  With little kids, you may not have time for a half hour or hour workout, but you can break it up into 5-10 minute increments throughout the day.  Or get up earlier.  When my son, Deryk, was little, I used to ride him around in a seat on my bicycle.  I rode him to the park and he’d play, and then we’d get back on the bike and go back.  I also took him to the mall. This worked great: like one of those wind-up toys, I’d set him down, face him in the direction I wanted him to go, and let go.  He would run forward and I would do my little shuffle run behind him.  It’s amazing how you can get exercise by doing simple things like this (of course you get tired and they don’t!).  You can get a good 20 minutes in just by chasing your kid around the mall (if they like to run in a straight line and you don’t take your eyes off them).

10. Stop stressing. Exercise, meditate, or do something fun with your husband.  Whether it’s sex or playing a board game, you need to have some fun before you go to bed.

Has Courtship Jumped the Shark?

Courtship, for the most part, doesn’t exist anymore.  Men today are either very crass in how they treat women, or they have been completely emasculated.  I’m so frustrated by the lack of masculinity in our society, which, in my opinion, was ripped away by the feminist movement.  Feminism taught women that they needed men for nothing – holding a door or pulling out a chair became unacceptable, let alone providing and protecting.

As a result, men no longer think women should be placed on pedestals.  Instead, they only consider how fast they can get them on their backs with their knees up.  That’s what feminism has done for women: it’s made them target practice for penises.

The decline of courtship has been a total disaster.  Individuals forever avoid becoming adults or lack any sense of well-being in their lives.  Life has absolutely zero meaning if you’re not living for someone else.  In addition, our children suffer.  We used to think motherhood was as American as apple pie, but not anymore.  Women drop their responsibilities as mothers and put their kids in day care for the sake of being equal and doing it all.

Leon R. Kass wrote a very brilliant essay titled, “The End of Courtship,” which is as critical and despondent about what has happened as I am.  Read it here.

 

Becoming a Mom – The New Reality

One of the scariest things in the universe is having to transition to being a mom.  At first, it’s a very romantic and cute idea.  You picture the little baby always smiling, and you anticipate getting to hug him or her whenever you want.  You think about how sweet it is that you and your spouse made this baby together as a composite of all your love for each other.  It’s going to be so much fun.  You can’t wait!

But then, the baby is born and reality sets in.

When my son was born, I called up every friend I knew who had ever had a baby and pleaded, “How do you get him to stop crying?! What’s the story?”   Some of them said, “Oh, just put him in the car seat and go driving,” but that didn’t help me much because even though the kid could sleep, I wouldn’t be getting any rest.  I gave it a try, but he only screamed more.   

We had a screamer.  It was a constant thing, and we could never figure out what he was screaming about.  “Does something hurt?”  “Are you wet?”  “Are you hungry?”  “Are you constipated?”  “What is the problem?!”  We just wanted to hold up pictures and hope he’d point at whatever was wrong.  However, babies don’t point or tell you, they just scream.  We even got one of those itty bitty baby swings, figuring that the rocking motion was going to work.   But it didn’t fix anything.  Finally, while I was looking through the mail, I came across an advertisement for a stuffed bear that was supposed to help kids sleep.  It contained a mechanism inside of it, which emulated the heartbeat sound that the baby hears when he or she is floating around in the uterus’s amniotic fluid.  When my husband came home from work that day, I said, “Lew, go out and find this bear, and don’t come home until you have it.” 

Yes, I was that crazed, and he knew I meant it.

While he was gone, I was lying on the bed trying to console the crying baby.  I put him on my stomach, tried petting him, and hummed/sang to him.  Every now and then he’d quiet down, but then he’d start screaming again.  Just when I was about to cry myself, Lew walked in the door holding the heart bear.  He stuck a nine-volt battery in its tush and turned it on. 

My son’s eyes got huge, and within a split second, he was out.  Boom.  Asleep.
 
Mr. Bear was like a miracle drug.  Although my kid is now 26 and doesn’t sleep with him anymore, I have kept Mr. Bear (even though he doesn’t work anymore) because he sure saved everybody’s life.

I use this story about my son to illustrate one of the more frustrating and scary moments about becoming a new mom: when you have no idea what the baby wants.  It’s an awful feeling when you’re standing there willing to do anything for your baby, but you don’t know what it is you’re supposed to do.  You figure it’s the standard things – they need warmth, food, contact, or cleaning – but none of those ends up being the problem.  In my case, it was the heart bear that did the trick.  For some reason, when I lay my son on my own chest and he could hear my heart pounding, it wasn’t nearly as impressive to him as his memory of the womb.     

New mothers have a lot of reasonable fears.  Here are just a few of them:

Everybody who says they want a baby pictures a sweet, happy child who is easy to get along with, studies, does well, has friends, and possesses many talents.  However, pregnancy is this big unknown.  You have no idea what kind of little person is going to come out until he or she grows up enough to start expressing him or herself.   Some kids are cuddly, and some cry a lot.  Some seem to bond readily, and others don’t.  Some are born unhealthy, and others are born healthy.  In the meantime, you have a whole lot of uncertainty going on.  It can be exciting, but it can also be uncomfortable.   There are a lot of challenges that you’re not going to know about until the baby is born.
 
Another worry is that you’ll turn into your mother.   Whatever your opinion of your mother’s mothering, it’s your first and strongest model of mothering.   A lot of you say, “I am not going to be like my mother,” but then you start hearing yourself sounding just like her.  That’s because it was your first experience, and it’s what you are familiar with.   Of course you don’t want to blindly stumble along in the footprints of familiarity, but you also don’t want to reflexively react against your mother’s parenting style.  Think about the good stuff you learned from your mom, consider the things you don’t think were the best, and formulate your own method of mothering.   You don’t just want to say, “Well, my mother did ‘x’ so I’m going to do the exact opposite,” because the opposite may not always be a good alternative.   Remember the Dr. Spock era where kids were encouraged to have total freedom to express themselves?  Yeah, that bombed.

You also may worry that your marriage will never be the same again.  Well, that’s true.  Although a baby doesn’t weigh much or speak, the minute you have them there, they rule.  However, the key to holding on to your marriage is to work together as a team.  The experience of having a baby can’t be about one of you being superior, more knowledgeable, or more in charge than the other.  The two of you need to be a team. 

For example, when I was trying to house-train my most recent baby (my Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, Sweet Pea), my husband and I had a system.  I’d pick her up and carry her to the door, my husband would open the door, the doggie would relieve herself outside, and then my husband would help open the door to bring her back inside the house.  We also had a system years ago when my son was breastfeeding.  At a certain time, my husband would get up and bring me the baby.  I’d breastfeed, and then one of us would change the baby’s diaper.  After that, the other one would put the baby back to bed. 

That is what you have to maintain to keep your relationship strong:  a team effort.  On a side note, women’s brains are wired very differently for hearing baby sounds than men’s brains.  The reason is obvious: Since babies come from our bodies and suckle at our breasts, it’s a part of our biology for us to hear those little high pitched noises.  So, don’t think your husband is just being a drag and a bum if he doesn’t immediately get up when the baby calls – his brain is simply not wired to hear what you hear.

Another worry is that you’re going to be a bad parent.  I hear that far too often.  I know it’s easy to think about that in this extreme age of parenting where people are hovering over their kids and trying to make them be totally happy and successful without having to put in any effort, but you shouldn’t worry.  Being a good parent is really just about being open and willing to listen, putting your needs aside, and parenting even when it’s inconvenient, uncomfortable, or unpleasant.   It takes a lot and there may not be one specific way to do it because you and your spouse’s personalities have to coordinate, but you can do it. 

One of the things new mothers often say early on in the first year is, “I don’t think I like this parenting thing. What have I gotten myself into?!”   However, you have to remember that kids are always changing, and the experience of motherhood changes along with them.  Things won’t always be so difficult and overwhelming, and you are bound to have favorite and less favorite phases.  Just look at their sweet little faces while they’re sleeping, and you’ll remember why you got yourself into this.

A final worry is that you’ll be trapped.  It’s not as carefree of a life when you have a baby.  Unless you’ve got grandma living near you so you can go out to dinner and a movie, everything changes.  My husband and I would have to bring the car seat into restaurants with us.  As soon as our son started fussing, one of us would go outside and rock him while the other ate, and then we switched.  We very rarely got to eat together in a restaurant, but we still tried to do it about once a week so we wouldn’t go completely stir-crazy. 

There is a lot of negative thinking and anxiety when you become a new mom, and there are many adjustments you have to make.  Sometimes you think you’re going to mess up and do something terribly wrong, or you have nightmares about something horrible happening to your child.  You may even feel trapped and want to get out of the situation.  However, these are all normal anxieties.  The most important thing you can do is talk about them out loud.   That’s where girlfriends, mothers, or good mother-in-laws come in.  I remember one time when I was getting batty, I called up a girlfriend who was already on her second baby.  I told her, “Oh my gosh, I’m having terrible thoughts,” and she said, “Oh yeah, you’re going to think about setting them on the curb from time to time.  But don’t worry, that’s normal.”   Simply having the support of another mom telling you that what you’re feeling is normal is a huge help.

If you are having a hard time as a new mom, don’t hate or get down on yourself.  When you’re feeling stressed out, it’s time to hand the baby to Dad and go take a walk or a bath.  Do something to refresh yourself for a little bit and then come back.   It’s a difficult transition, but you can handle it.

And just think – when they become teenagers and start driving, you’ll look back and say, “Gosh, that was easy.”

Stop Being a Worried Mother

A woman’s life changes incredibly when she becomes a mother.  She grows a life inside of her for nine months, brings it out into the world, and suckles it at her breast.  Quite frankly, it’s amazing an experience. 

But with having a baby comes a whole change in how you perceive yourself.  Before I was pregnant, if I wanted to do something crazy, I could do something crazy.  But when you’re completely responsible for another little person’s life, you can’t do crazy stuff anymore.  It’s nothing to pout about (although some people do) – it’s just a change.  So, while my son was growing up, I had a motorcycle purse, motorcycle boots, and some motorcycle T-shirts, but I didn’t have a motorcycle.  But when he was grown up, out of the house, and in the military, I decided to get down and get a bike!
 
One of the big challenges facing new mothers is a tendency to worry.  Moms worry a lot, and I definitely did my fair share of it.  I get calls every now and then from somebody who has a relatively newborn infant and has dreams or nightmares of their child dying.  They feel anxiety about their responsibility, and worry about being able to fulfill it.  It’s scary.   

However, usually by the third time somebody has a kid, they don’t have those anxiety dreams anymore and sort of just know how to handle it. 

But if you are one of those worrying-mother types, I have some tips to help you stop worrying so much:

First of all, worrying about somebody or something is not a sign of caring.  Your worrying only becomes a burden on everyone around you, especially your kid, who has to try to make you feel better.  It can be very stultifying.   Instead, show that you care by doing special things, saying special things, and spending special time with your child.  That’s how you show you care – don’t just worry.

Next, realize that worrying has no power to stop bad things.  Worrying doesn’t create bad things, and it doesn’t prevent bad things from happening – it has no power over bad things.  Generally speaking, if whatever you’re worried about indeed happens, it probably won’t be as bad as you thought it would be.  Just think back to other times you’ve worried about something.  Didn’t things turn out all right?  Wasn’t it not as bad as you thought, or it didn’t even happen at all? 

In addition, you have to accept that some things are simply out of your control.  There’s a lot in the universe you have no power over.  It’s annoying, but it’s true.  You have to accept that to a certain extent, it’s just part of the game.  If you did all you could within your power to make something happen and it didn’t, all you can do is say you did your best. 

When you start worrying, you really have to distract yourself.  You need to rely on the support system of your girlfriends, exercise, or do a hobby.  You need to put your nervous energy into something productive because there’s nothing productive about worrying (because as I said, you have no power).  Moms who spend their time worrying end up contributing 120 percent of themselves to mothering and put nothing in to taking care of themselves.  It’s like putting your brain into a tiny little box – of course it’s going to stress and strain to get out.

One of the things I discovered when I was under a lot of stress was that if I would just take a walk with my dogs (no cell phone, no iPod…nothing), I would feel a whole lot better.  Exercise is a natural stress reducer.  It doesn’t have to be vigorous – it could just be going on a walk in the sunshine or strolling through the snow. 

If you don’t engage in your self-care, you can’t do whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing.  If the tool (you) is broken, it can’t get the job done right.  If you’re fit to be tied, you’re not going to be a very nice person.

Last but not least, accept that worrying is part of reality.  Remember not everything is going to go the way you thought it would or should.  Kids make mistakes, stuff happens, and there are some things in life that you simply have to accept.  Of course there’s always going to be a little bit of shoulder shrugging, but don’t drive yourself up the wall.

 

The Cost of NOT Staying At Home

We all know the costs of moms not staying at home with their kids.  But did you know it literally costs more for moms to work?

After factoring in the rising costs of child care, gas, wear and tear on the car, parking, and other work-related expenses (clothes, food, etc.), a growing number of mothers are figuring out it doesn’t pay to have a job. 

In a CNN article, a third-grade teacher making about $48,000 a year in the Fairfax, Virginia  public school system was shadowed.  Out of the $48,000 she earned, she brought home about $30,000 after taxes, health insurance, and retirement contributions.  Even though she lives in Virginia, where child care costs are among the lowest in the country, care for the child would have cost $12,000 a year – nearly half of her before-tax income.

She says, “It wasn’t worth $18,000 for us to let somebody else raise our son.”  So I thought, “Well what amount of money would make it worth it to have somebody else raise your kid?” 

The Pew Research Center also conducted a study on the public attitude about stay-at-home moms.  According to it, when motherhood and children are brought into the debate, there is an ongoing ambivalence about what is best for society. Oh my gosh!  Imagine thinking of the greater good.  Only 21 percent of adults think the trend toward mothers of young children working outside the home has been a good thing for society.  Personally, I’m sad that the response was as large as 21 percent, but it’s still small.  On the other hand, 37 percent of the people surveyed said being a working mom is a bad thing, and 38 percent were not sure it makes a difference. 

The study goes on to say, most working mothers (62%) prefer to only work part time, and only 37% say they prefer full-time work. That’s scary…a third of those children have mothers who would rather be away from them all day. And finally, only one-in-ten moms say having a mother who works full time is the ideal situation for a child.  Do you realize they took ten mothers and asked each of them, “If you work full time, is that ideal for your kid?”  And one of them actually said, “Yeah.”  I wonder what motivated that, because I’ve always said not everybody’s a great mom.  If you’re not a good mom the kid might be better off with somebody else.  It is possible. 

But then I asked my listeners to describe “Aha!” moments they had about being stay-at-home moms.  Here are just three of the responses… 

Heidi wrote:
“My ‘Aha!’ moment happened rather quickly when I became a mom for the first time.  I was open to returning to work and didn’t know how I was going to feel after giving birth.  But when they put my daughter in my arms for the very first time, I looked at her, felt her tiny little body against mine, and said to my husband, ‘I’m never going back to work!’  Within those first few seconds of holding my daughter, a rush of future moments overwhelmed all my senses.  I didn’t want anyone besides this beautiful baby’s mommy and daddy to care for her.  I didn’t want a nanny to call me when she took her first steps.  I didn’t want a text from someone other than her daddy telling me she ate carrots for the first time.  I didn’t want to learn via email my child could swing all by herself at the park.  I didn’t want a video sent to my cell phone watching her speak her first words or hear her first real giggles.  I didn’t want a Picture Mail of my child’s first smile after losing her first tooth.  No, I wanted to be there for every possible moment in her life.  What job or amount of money would be worth missing all of that?  I’m happy to say after 6 years with two children and a grateful husband who not only loves my choice but also respects my choice (as so few do) of staying at home to raise our children, I still stay at home!  Thank God I had my ‘Aha!’ moment so quickly.  Otherwise I would have missed out on the one thing that matters most in life: being a real and present mother who has enough videos and pictures to fill a thousand albums that were all taken by me!  We all have regrets in our lives on what we should have or wished we would have done.  I thank God that not being there for my children each and every day is not one of them.”

Mayi wrote:
“When I started staying home with my children, I was surprised to find out how much I didn’t value my position as a mother.  I found out I only get to be mommy once and time was valuable. I learned I could live on a lot less than I originally believed.  I learned I like teaching (as they were my first students).  I learned I only get one shot at being an awesome mom.  I learned how to love and appreciate myself as a woman with an important job.  I learned how to budget and sacrifice, and I began to connect with and honor other mothers.  I have learned how to be creative, work, and study from home, and I have learned how to organize and plan.  I know the bond we have created will never be broken.  And I learned as long as I put God first, He will lead and direct me down the correct path and continue to make me an awesome mom and wife.”

And Jane:
“I have my stay-at-home parent ‘Aha!’ moment almost daily when I pick my daughters up from school.  I see the other kids who come out from their classes to emerge into the quad or parking lot area only to look for their ‘after school program’ bus/van, and they have this look of sadness when they see children like mine, who have their mom there to greet them with a hug, kiss, and a smile once they come running out of their classroom.  It would break my heart if I was not able to be there like I am for my girls.  Yes, we don’t have the luxuries like the other kids do of going to Disneyland once a year, video game systems, or designer clothes/shoes, but we are happy with what we have and what we can do. I love my two girls, and I wouldn’t change being a stay-at-home mom for anything!”

Pregnant and Sacked

People feel entitled to challenge everything these days.  Even if they’ve understood the rules and they’re reaping the benefits, they decide they’re above the system and the rules don’t apply to them.  They get lawyers, go public, and cause grief.  These people make me sick.  So when I recently read about the Christian school teacher who got knocked up out-of-wedlock and sued the school for firing her, I was disenchanted yet again. 

Here’s what happened:  A 29-year-old science teacher and volleyball coach was fired from a Texas Christian academy for getting pregnant out-of-wedlock.  She says she has a fiancé, and defends herself by saying, “I’m not just some teacher that went out to a bar and got pregnant and went back to school saying it’s okay.  I was in a committed relationship the whole time and probably would have been married if things had gone differently and this would be a non-situation.” 

She’s absolutely right.  If she had done things the right way – went on a date, received a ring, got married, and then had babies – this wouldn’t be happening.  By the way, a committed relationship is called marriage, not shacking-up.

She then claimed she had no idea she would lose her job over the pregnancy. 

What??

She teaches at a Christian school!  If you want to live a free and easy life don’t teach at a religious school.  She wasn’t fired because she wanted pregnancy leave.  She was fired because she broke the moral rules of a Christian school and became a bad role model for little kids.  And getting married at this point wouldn’t work , because she’s already knocked up out-of-wedlock and the kids all know.  

The school’s headmaster said she was fired for violating her contract, which includes a clause requiring teachers to be Christian role models.  “It’s not that she’s pregnant,” the headmaster said, “the issue here is being an unmarried mother.  Everything we stand for says that we want our teachers, who we consider to be in the ministry, to model what every Christian man and woman should be.”
 
I can’t believe this twit has the gall to sue.  If this had happened back in the day, she would have been ferociously embarrassed, kept her mouth shut, and gotten married 20 seconds after she took the little pee test showing she was pregnant,  because her behavior would have been considered unbecoming a lady and unbecoming a teacher in a Christian school in particular.  These days, if you don’t tolerate something, no matter what it is, you’re a bad person.  In my opinion, how dare she sue.

When Bad Things Happen to Children

On my SiriusXM show recently, I spoke about the meaning of life, and then I got this email from Lisa:

I heard part of your program today and you read about the different thoughts about the meaning of life… I’ve been thinking about that, too.

As the mother of a child who is dying of cancer, like many of us, we are losing our faith in a big powerful “daddy in the sky” that hears our prayers. I’ve heard from Christians that “God doesn’t give you what you can’t handle” but I can’t handle this. “God gives you strength to get through it” – no, He doesn’t. I’m about to lose my mind… the pain is much too great to bear. I hear that this is God’s plan, or that God needs another angel. If he needed another angel, he would just take one, HE WOULDN’T TORTURE THEM FIRST! How could he PLAN to put a child through this kind of HELL? What good could ever come out of this?

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. We wear gold ribbons, but only 3% of cancer research goes to childhood cancers. Does anybody care? Is the meaning of life only to do research on the “popular” cancers because they are the ones that will make money for the one who finds the cure? My son’s cancer is so rare that he gets the same chemotherapy he would have had in the 1980s… it doesn’t get researched.

Please tell me what the meaning of life is!

If you look at God as a “big powerful daddy in the sky that hears [your] prayers” and will give you what you want, and if you are a good person, you can’t help but be disappointed on a daily basis. That doesn’t seem to be the way it works. 

I know no other pain on the face of the earth that is greater than a parent having to see their child suffer and die.   I think parents would rather they suffer and die and trade themselves in for their kids.  So, this is the worst torture, but this is not a test of God.  That someone’s child or husband or wife or parent or friend gets ill and dies is not a test of whether or not there is a God.  There isn’t a test of whether or not there is a God — that’s why it’s called “faith.” To say that “I’m dubious about God” because my prayers aren’t being answered in the way that I want, is, in my opinion, never to have understood faith in the first place, but just to have played a social role in which you call yourself “religious.” 

There is no explanation for these things.  And, I agree with Lisa when she writes:  “If he needed another angel, he would just take one, HE WOULDN’T TORTURE THEM FIRST!….What good could ever come out of this?”  I like that answer of hers.  I think telling somebody this is God’s plan is a little obnoxious and I always thought it was.  It’s your assumption God is planning this.  You have no proof of that.  People go back to the story of Job and what he had to suffer and Abraham who almost wiped out his own kid until God said, “I see you really love me.  You don’t have to do this.” 

There are some important concepts and issues here.  When any of us says “I can’t handle this,” yet we make it through every day, we are handling it.  “Handling it” doesn’t mean it feels good or it’s easy; “handling it” usually means we are surviving it and doing the best we can.

I don’t understand all of the mass murders of the world — Stalin, Pol Pot, Germany, Japan. I don’t understand how that’s God’s will or God’s plan. It doesn’t make any sense to me, either.  And I don’t know how to put it together.  I don’t know how it’s God’s plan to have little children put in ovens and killed.  Or mommies and their children shot to death and put into a hole in the ground, naked.  I don’t understand how any of that is God’s plan.  So, I have no answer to that. 

This was not a theological thing where I was going to explain what life really means, other than there’s always been horror.  It’s like the horror films you see in the movies where there’s evil and someone in the church or somebody else finally squelches the evil and at the end you see the evil creeping up through the ground again. 

There is evil, there is disappointment, there is pain, there is everything.  So, ultimately, whether you really believe in God or not, we really need to hold on to each other.  There is something about touching the hand of another who corroborates your pain.  That’s why with parents in this situation, I always tell them to find other parents in this situation.  They will be the first ones to hug you and they won’t get tired of hearing from you like other relatives will.  It’s not they get tired, per se, it’s just they can’t do anything to help and it’s upsetting, so they don’t want to hear it anymore.  They are not being bad, they just don’t know how to fix it. They feel guilt and they feel uncomfortable and then they start feeling anger.  So, to go to people who have been there and done that is the way we hold on to each other.  Some people call that behavior the way God helps you go through things which are inexplicable. 

So, let’s not call bad things that happen “God’s plan,” because that hurts people.  God planned to hurt my kid?  You’re gonna tell me, there’s some higher power and I’m supposed to rise above that pain and say absolutely “I adore you?”  I think it’s a horrible thing to tell people.  I don’t think it’s good to tell kids God’s an all-powerful “daddy in the sky” who can do anything.  Well, then why isn’t he doing it for me?  I don’t like when people walk out of a bus that just been in a crash and they are alive and everyone else is dead and they say, “but for the grace of God.”  What the heck does that mean?  God intentionally wiped them out and kept you?

I think we want to feel special like we feel to a parent.  God is some kind of extension of parenthood.  We sometimes don’t realize how cruel we sound.  So, here’s my frame of reference for all of this.  There are evil things people do because they are evil.  There are horrible things that happen just because there are horrible things that happen.  The human body has weaknesses and that’s just the way it is.  There aren’t cures for everything because we are not good enough yet to produce them.  It’s hard to get money for things only a few people suffer from – Lisa is right about that.

The bottom line is we’ve got to hold on to each other.  That’s the immediate salvation: to hold on to each other’s love, support, and kind feeling.  It’s irrelevant if bad things are happening or not.  The way to make it through life, I believe, is to really be compassionate and to be open to compassion.  That’s what helps you get through the things that are inexplicable and horrible.