Monday, September 29, 2014

A Special Announcement: Imaginarium, New Books, and More!



Marine veteran Howard Turner has returned home from a tour in Afghanistan, but his battles are only just beginning. His marriage is falling apart. His son is addicted to drugs. Howard is battling symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But one night at a local bar would change his life forever.

After a series of unexpected events, Howard is recruited into MKULTRA, a reclusive department in the CIA. Officially, it was shut down in 1973, but as he learns, they are still alive and well. When the missions become darker and more twisted, Howard has to make the most difficult decision of his life--or face the fatal wrath of his new employers.


So? What do you think? :)

For those of you who missed my last blog post, while I was at Imaginarium, I accepted an offer from Hydra Publications to not only rerelease Gears of Golgotha, but to write more books.

This was the "more books" I was talking about.

While I was writing Gears, whenever I would take a break, I would often watch gaming shows on YouTube, especially Creepy Gaming, a show where the host, MulletMike, would take a look at creepy moments, games, urban legends, and creepypastas in the gaming world.  I would also watch Game Theory, a show where the host, MatPat, would analyze games through the lens of different educational fields, from math to science to history and even psychology and sociology. They're both awesome shows; I highly recommend them.  However, there was one topic that both of these shows covered: the legend of Polybius.  (You can find the Creepy Gaming episode here and the Game Theory episode here.)  In summary, Polybius was a game released into arcades in Portland, Oregon in 1981.  It was a hit; people went crazy over it.  But things soon turned in a dark and twisted direction.  Mysterious men would visit the machine and collect data from the game cabinets.  Those who played the game would begin to experience ill side effects, including nightmares, insomnia and memory loss; some would even commit suicide.  Allegedly, this was one of the many experiments conducted by MKULTRA.

MKULTRA was--or is, depending on who you're talking to--a department in the CIA which conducted brainwashing, torture, and interrogation experiments using drugs, hypnosis and other methods on American and Canadian citizens.  One of the most disturbing parts about it, though, was that the CIA recruited Nazi scientists--some even condemned as war criminals--for this department in Operation Paperclip.  Officially, MKULTRA was shut down in 1973 shortly after the Watergate scandal.

But what if they're still around?  What if they are still conducting experiments to this day?

ALPHA, as well as the entire trilogy, will toy with this idea that the government is still conducting human experimentation on unwitting citizens.  It tells the story of a man who starts to question the true meaning of loyalty.  What does it mean to be loyal to your country?  To your family?  To yourself?  Howard will attempt to answer these questions, and his true battles will begin.

There hasn't been an official release date set for ALPHA as of yet, but I will make sure to update you as soon as I receive further information.

Love and Coffee cups,

P.S. Don't forget to like my official author page and the ALPHA Trilogy page, both on Facebook!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Imaginarium: A Review

So.  This weekend I went to Imaginarium.  My first convention, selling my first book.  I expected spending a ton of money on books, meeting other authors and guests, and learning about the world of writing.

But so much more happened than I ever could have dreamed.

Those things that I described did happen.  I pretty much blew my bank account to pieces on books and even an octopus.  I rocked the panels I was on.  I had so much fun meeting the other authors and guests, including Jeffery Reddick, the screenwriter for Final Destination, and Dan Jolley, the writer of the Terminator: The Enemy of My Enemy comics and the story director for Prototype 2.  I didn't expect to sell many books, if any.  Who the hell would care? I thought.  The sci-fi/dystopian genre has pretty much taken over pop culture; this self-published novel would be just a penny thrown into the well of 2010's America, to sink down below its depths like a forgotten shipwreck.

But that's where I was wrong.  Dead wrong.

I sold out of copies of Gears of Golgotha on the second day of Imaginarium.  I was at a pitching session when the publisher asked me for a copy of Gears to read.  My younger sister, who was there along with Frank Hall (who was pretty much my go-to person all weekend, and he is awesome), ran down to grab a copy and came back up.  She handed me the book and said, "You're going to have to give this back; this is Uncle Frank's (not to be confused with Frank Hall) copy, and you've sold out!"

My jaw dropped.  I wanted to faint.  Sold out?  I sold out?  That obscure first-time author that no one had heard of sold out? (Turns out there was one copy left that no one noticed until later, and that was eventually purchased by Frank.)

And that's when the publisher told me that he wanted my next book that I was pitching to him.  I told him I'd think about it and went on with the day.

And then two other companies offered me contracts to sign with them.  I was pretty much caught up in a three way bidding war between three different publishing houses.  I felt like I was walking on air all weekend.  Publishing houses are asking for me?  I never really had much faith in my writing.  I've never really even let people read my stuff (you know, other than school).  But the first time I put myself out there, people are asking for me?  I mean, Tony Acree of Hydra Publications (who is AWESOME by the way) bought me dinner at the Blue Horse in Crowne Plaza to talk about my books!  I swore I was in a coma and I would wake up in my bed at my dorm or my house or in a hospital bed or something crazy like that.  After a lot of thought and consideration, I decided to accept a contract from Hydra Publications to not only rerelease Gears of Golgotha, but to write a brand new book.  I still feel like I'm dreaming, but I've never been so happy in all of my life.

All in all?  Imaginarium was the best weekend of my life.  For once, I didn't feel like I was the crazy hermit of my group.  People actually liked me and cared about what I had to say.  All of the panels were intriguing and fun.  I got to meet so many new people and pretty much started up my own library (you're welcome, Larissa and Faith haha).  The convention was run much more smoothly than most established cons.  If you are a writer, publisher, or are interested in the creative arts in any way, this is the perfect place for you to be.  The dates for next year should be announced soon.  I'll make sure to keep you guys updated.

Love and Coffee cups,

*CORRECTION: I accidentally called Dan Jolley the story director for Prototype 2, but after checking the website, he is actually credited as Lead Writer.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

"Gears of Golgotha" and Faith-Based Entertainment

Hello, my lovely readers!

I am so sorry for the lack of posts here at Coffee-Crazed.  Everything has just been crazy lately: school, deaths, church, working on Gears... I'm surprised I'm still functioning haha.

So I've been trying to think of a topic to bring back Coffee-Crazed.  Something that I haven't already beaten like a dead horse.  Which two out of three of the things in the title of this post have been beaten like a dead horse haha.  I'm pretty sure you all know how I feel about religion, and know about my upcoming novel Gears of Golgotha, a sci-fi dystopian tale about magic, science, faith, tolerance...

"Wait, did she just say faith?"

Why, yes I did, my observant reader.  Although I'm pretty sure I can hear the collective groans from my readers.  Oh, God, it's one of those books.


Now, let's be clear.  Not all faith-based entertainment is bad.  One of the members of the Facebook groups for authors I am a part of is a Christian romance writer, and her work is actually very good.  Unfortunately, the quality stuff... well, let's just say that it's hard to come by.  And by hard to come by, I mean extremely rare.

And by extremely rare, I mean a good majority of faith-based entertainment is complete and utter shit.

Yeah, I said it.  I'm a Christian, and I hate Christian "entertainment."  With a fiery, burning passion.  The writing is often atrocious, the filmmaking techniques (when it is a film) that are employed are either used in the wrong way or not used at all, the acting is dull and unbelievable, and the characters are often one-dimensional and, dare I say, backwards, especially when they try to write in an atheist or a member of a different faith.  Take for example the new Christian picture God's Not Dead.  Every character--not just the Christians--is overdramaticized and incredibly one dimensional, often more caricatures than characters.  Every non-Christian is devoid of human decency.  Furthermore, I just love how directors of these films will paint atheists as people who "hate" God.  Um, hello?  Atheists don't believe that God exists.  How can you hate a negative?  As someone who is a good friend to atheists, agnostics (hell, I'm dating one!), Muslims, and many non-Christians, I find it insulting that Christians even think this way about our brothers and sisters.  Hell, half of the non-Christians out there these days are better Christians than many people who proclaim to be Christians in the first place!  But that's a story for another post.

However, it is possible to have a good story that just so happens to be religious.  How about The Prince of Egypt, one of the early works by animation giant DreamWorks?  They even admit at the beginning of the film that it is based on the biblical account of Moses, and even say "The biblical story of Moses can be found in the book of Exodus."  Guess what?  It's not only one of my favorite animated films, but one of my favorite films all around.  Everything about it: the animation, the music, the acting, it's all fantastic.  And then there's Bruce Almighty, which isn't even marketed as a religious film, but as a raunchy comedy about a man who is given the power of God.  And--you guessed it--it's another one of my favorite films.  The jokes are hilarious, the acting is amazing (I will forever imagine the voice of God to be that of Morgan Freeman thanks to this film haha), and the writing is witty and fun.  But it's not only a comedy about a man with the power of God, it's also a statement about the human condition, and why God works the way He does.


So why am I bringing up faith-based entertainment and Gears in the same post?

*WARNING: The next half of this post contains some Gears of Golgotha lore.  Enjoy!*

Funny story.  I was talking to some family members about Gears, and the progress I've been making on it. Now these family members are very devout Christians, and they asked if religion exists in the future of Gears.  To which I replied "No... and yes."   Organized religion as we know it today died out during and after World War Three. There are no longer defined gods or goddesses; the closest thing to religion that there is exists in the spirituality of the Mages.  I explained to them that this was just how I saw the world of Gears.  Furthermore, religion plays little to no role in the plot of Gears.  It's more of just a side piece of lore than anything, a way to explain the customs and traditions of the Chemists and Mages.  

And then, everything just exploded.  Next thing I knew, there was screaming and fighting.  "Oh, sure, you can bang science over people's heads, but not religion!" one of them said.  Well, if you take out the sarcasm of that statement, it is true.  Science can be approached by anyone and be understood, at least to some small degree.  Religion is a completely different beast.  Hell, even people with degrees in theology--who spend their lives studying it--still don't understand how God works, or if there is even a God to begin with.  Furthermore, with the atrocities that have been committed in the name of religion, it makes the idea of religion... less approachable, shall we say.  If you want to tell a story about philosophy, science, religion, or any sort of higher thinking, you must present it in such a way that anyone can read it, see it, and enjoy it, not just preaching to the choir.

And unfortunately, that's often what most of faith-based entertainment does.  They're bad movies that are only supported because they're religious, and glorify Christianity.  You know who fills the theaters of films such as Son of God, God's Not Dead, and Fireproof?  Churches who go on a field trip to the movies. Hollywood may make some raunchy stuff, but at least it's good.

All I really want is just for Gears to be enjoyed; I just want to tell a good story.  And if someone reads it and thinks it should be recognized as faith-based, and that's how they interpret it, go ahead.  But please, I pray that people lump it together with the Bruce Almightys and the Prince of Egypts, and not the Fireproofs and the God's Not Deads.

And know this: earlier when I said that this story was about faith, it's more about faith in yourself.  Faith in that the world can get better, but realizing that we have the power to do so.  It's okay to believe that we are waiting for something, but we shouldn't stand idly by and let the world die. Whoever--or whatever--we're waiting for may come like a thief in the night, but I'm sure that we don't want to be caught with a filthy, broken world.  Get out there and do something.  In the words of Bruce Almighty, "Be the miracle."

Love and Coffee cups,

Friday, March 28, 2014


Finally, everything is starting to come together.

For those of you who don't know, I was able to find an amazing editor to look over Gears of Golgotha.  Her name is Annie Rodriguez, and she is an absolutely wonderful editor and person.  I already feel like I'm becoming a better writer thanks to her.

I have also created a Facebook page for Gears of Golgotha.  We're racing to get 100 likes, and once we hit the mark, I'm going to unveil a special surprise!  So if you lovely readers wouldn't mind, head over there, like the page, and check it out.  Every person there is wonderful and awesome.

And this is the best part: Gears of Golgotha is finally coming to life!  I have an official release date!  The novel will be launching at Imaginarium 2014.  I am even already up on the website as a guest!  So if any of you all are interested, you all should come out to Imaginarium 2014 and see me!  I will be launching alongside the wonderful Amy McCorkle.

I am so excited about this year!  Even though the novel will be self-published, it's still an accomplishment to me.  Yes, I CAN write a novel.  I am not worthless.  People actually care about what I have to say.  So, for those of you who have been following me for all this time, I just want to say this: thank you.  Thank you for everything you've done.

Love and Coffee cups,

Thursday, March 13, 2014

How Cats, the Nostalgia Critic, and the BBC Saved My Life

As I detailed in my first entry of By the Seat of Your Pants, after my attempted suicide and the painful breakup that followed (yeah, like I needed a reason to want to stay alive), depression had a stronger grip than ever on me.  I would never leave my room, not even to shower.  My diet consisted of a cup of soup a day, maybe a bag of microwaveable rice, and that was it.  Other than that, I never ate (it's one of the reasons why I'm so skinny now).  I slept most of the day, and would cry for the rest of it.  But if I wasn't sleeping or crying, I was on the Internet.  I spent most of my time on YouTube, trying to look up comedic or cute videos in a desperate attempt to learn how to laugh and smile again.  And honestly, looking back, it worked.  Cats, the Nostalgia Critic, and the BBC essentially saved my life.

I've always loved cats.  Dogs are cute (I love my dogs Blue and Taco to death), but I've definitely always been a cat person.  I don't know what it is about them that makes me love them so.  Maybe it's the different colors that they can come in.  Or maybe it's their adorable faces, or their mischievous nature.  Maybe it's a combination of the three.  Whatever it is, I've always been fond of cats.  As depression held on tight, since I could not cuddle with my kittens at home, I would do the next best thing: watch them.  Talking cats, walking cats, you name it.  If it involved cats, I saw it.  As I watched the kittens play, talk, sleep, tumble, and act as cute kittens would act, I began to once again appreciate the little things in life.

For those of you who have never heard of the Nostalgia Critic, I would just like to say one thing: "Where have you been?"  The Internet sensation is known for not only dishing out harsh criticism of films in comedic form, but actually providing thoughtful insight into film.  During that time, I never even would crack a smile.  But then one day, when I was on YouTube, I saw a review for Quest for Camelot in my recommendations (I've always been somewhat of a film nut).  As I watched it, I began to smile and laugh for the first time in what felt like an eternity.  When the review ended, I was still laughing.  I typed in Nostalgia Critic in the search bar, and was bombarded with pages upon pages of videos of his reviews.  Some of the titles I recognized, and others I didn't.  Regardless, I sat there, watching him tear apart films and laughing my ass off for every minute of it.  In short, the Nostalgia Critic helped to teach me how to laugh again.

There was another comedy act that helped me learn to laugh and appreciate life again.  There is a comedy sketch show in the UK called Horrible Histories.  I'm not sure if it's still on the air or not, but most of the clips I had seen were on YouTube (by this time, my TV in my room had stopped working, and Morehead State doesn't get BBC anyway).  The lighter humor of the show helped to contrast the harsher, darker humor of the Nostalgia Critic (which isn't bad, mind you).  I also got to learn new things about history, so I didn't feel as bad that I was unable to go to class.  The show helped me to gain back my love of learning by presenting it in a way that could make me pay attention (when I get depressed, I'm not focused).

Now I know what some of you may be thinking: "What about the people that helped you?"  Well, let me tell you something.  When you're depressed, you want no contact with any person whatsoever.  You are consumed by a crippling sadness, fighting feelings of unworthiness.  You want to just die, that way everyone can be rid of you.  During that time, I wanted no contact with anyone.  I just wanted to be alone.  I thought that humans were just evil monsters.  And yes, to be perfectly honest, I was afraid that every human would turn out to be just like my ex: cold, unfeeling, and unfaithful.  But there's a certain community one gains through the Internet.  I mean, look at you all, my beautiful readers.  You come from places all over the world, places I could only dream of visiting.  And yet, we all come together to read and share ideas.  That's one of the beautiful things about social media, and the Internet itself.  The Internet was my first taste of communication since my attempted suicide and the breakup that followed.  The closeness of the Internet users helped me to believe in the goodness of humanity once again.

And so, to the Nostalgia Critic, the crew at Channel Awesome, the people involved with Horrible Histories, and to cat lovers anywhere, I just want to say thank you for teaching me this lesson.  I know that the probability of any of you reading this is slim to none, but still.  Thank you.

Love and Coffee cups,

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Crisis of Faith

Today on Facebook, I posted a status saying that for every like I received, I would post a confession.

Well, consider this Confession #1.

As of late, I have been having a crisis of faith.  Lately, every time I step foot in a church, I am no longer greeted with the warmth of communion.  I feel like my "prayers" are just bouncing off of the ceiling.  I often find myself feeling alone, especially when I'm caught in the throes of a manic or depressive episode.

I don't deny that God exists.  There is so much out there that we still haven't discovered, who are we to go on ahead and make a judgment about what is and is not out there?  However, is it the same God as we humans have defined Him (or Her) for thousands of years?

I have seen the abuse and torture received by those who claim to "love their neighbor as themselves."  I have seen the exclusiveness, the snubbing at anything that doesn't come from the pastor's mouth.  Anything that is of the world is automatically considered evil and should not be touched or even acknowledged.  I have witnessed those who would come out as LGBT who would then be exiled from their families, friends, and churches, all because they would use some book to justify their hatred.  I have a gay cousin, and we don't even speak his name in the family.  We don't even acknowledge his existence.  It's like he's a ghost, wandering through the world all alone.  I feel like my fellow Christians look at me strangely because I am dating an agnostic. I have been called "not a true Christian" due to my support for those who are traditionally snubbed by the Christian community: atheists, agnostics, Muslims, LGBT, pregnant teens, those who adopt faiths other than Christianity.  And this misery is what comes of a way of life that stresses "love?"  I have been extremely lucky that I have never experienced the type of abuse I am describing here.  But not everyone can claim that.

And this is where my crisis of faith comes in.  It's not that I am unsure of the existence of a Higher Power.  I am just unsure of humans' interpretation of said Power.  I have always considered myself a woman of faith, someone who thinks that anything is possible, and that we shouldn't automatically rule out something just because it sounds ridiculous.  But by choosing to remain a Christian, am I siding with the abusers?  I may never spout such bigotry or hatred myself (or I try not to, at least), but because I share communion with those who do, because I join hands with them every Sunday, am I a part of them?  I think that's where the real "persecution" of Christians comes in.  It's not because of anything about our values, but it's because of what we've done with them, how we've interpreted them.  Christians have used the Bible to back monstrous crimes: pro-slavery, anti-women's suffrage, anti-Civil Rights, anti-gay rights, the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, the Salem Witch Trials, McCarthyism.  People are automatically afraid that once you say you're a Christian--especially if you say you're a Christian from the so-called "Bible Belt"--you're going to start going on a rant about how evolution is of the Devil and that homosexuality is an "abomination."  They are afraid that you will be exclusive.  Whenever I walk into church on Sunday, I am bombarded by guilt and shame, because I feel like that by associating myself with such barbaric acts against humanity, I automatically become part of the cause.  I am automatically by association anti-gay rights, anti-science, anti-woman, anti-poor people, the very things that Jesus was the polar opposite of.  Or am I?  The confusion pushes me farther and farther away from God... or whatever is out there.

Until I can answer this question, I don't think memorizing creeds or saying specifically worded prayers is going to help ease my confusion.  I am just going to love.  Isn't that what Jesus taught?  "Love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself."  Love, and the rest will follow.  One can find God through caring for their fellow man, through giving to the poor, healing the sick, and in general just being a good person.  Love is what unites us all.  If there's one tenet of Christianity I will always keep, it is that God is love.

Love and Coffee cups, 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Looking at Life's Gains

(Sorry for the late post.  Midterms are coming up, and I've been trying to study for them. Busy blogger is busy.)

Most of you are already aware of the journey I've been on over the past year and a half.  I came to college as a bright-eyed, innocent freshman, and not only threw myself into a rigorous music program, but also faced new situations and dilemmas I never thought I would have to deal with.  Boys (who before college avoided me like the plague, but were now practically lining up to take me out), drama, friendships tested and some even lost... the first year of college was definitely the one that changed me the most.  I am not the same person that stepped onto campus that August afternoon in the fall of 2012.

But the thing that changed me most was my mental illness.

Bipolar disorder costed so much.  I lost friends that I thought cared about me.  My ex-boyfriend dumped me the day after I attempted suicide.  I lost my reputation to one in which I was labeled "crazy" and "unstable." It cost me my music major.  It's nearly cost me my scholarship.  It very nearly cost me my life.

But even with how much I've lost due to mental illness, there's so much that I've gained.  I've gained a wonderful sisterhood, one that has supported me through everything, and that I strive to support.  I've gained a healthy and loving relationship, one that is going on a year strong this April (I've never had a relationship last that long!).  I've also recently gained a little sister in Sigma Alpha Iota!  I've changed my major to elementary education, so that I am able to work with younger kids.  I've gained new friendships and made lasting memories with people I love.

Many people talk about the losses that mental illness brings them.  And I'd be lying if I said that the battle to control my emotions, to calm myself in fits of mania and bring myself out of pits of depression, is an easy one. But that's the thing: you don't have to face it alone.  And for those of you who feel alone out there, let me tell you: I've been there.  All those feelings you have, those thoughts that plague your mind and won't leave... I've experienced that.  I still experience that, sometimes.  But guess what?  You don't have to fight this alone. There are people out there that love you and care about you.  And if you can't find them in your hometown, there is a strong Internet community out there.  I've actually found myself flocking to sites like Tumblr and YouTube and seeing the kind words that people post there.  They may not be directly aimed at me, but their presence reminds me that there is good in the world.  If I could sum up the point of this post in a short sentence, it would definitely be this one: Measure life not by losses, but by gains.

Love and Coffee cups,

Thursday, February 6, 2014

My Response to the Nye/Ham Debate

On Tuesday night, science educator Bill Nye "the Science Guy" and Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum squared off in an epic debate between evolution and creationism.  The night was full of science, questions, and answers.  Both sides were respectful of each other, and coming from someone who generally gives it her all in a debate (a.k.a. gets really upset), that is definitely something I can appreciate.  That being said, I posted on my Facebook page that "I don't think you want to know my position" on the matter.

Well, I'm going to be writing it here instead.

If I could sum up my position on the matter in a few short words, I'd say that Bill Nye completely wiped the floor with Ken Ham in that debate.  Hell, a poll on Christian Today even said that Bill Nye won; 92% of the people voted for him!  Bill Nye provided us with actual scientific evidence, while Ham's only evidence was the Bible.

Oh, yeah, and a lot of logical/argumentative fallacies.  Begging the question, straw man, false dilemma, fallacy of equivocation... need I say more?

In the scientific community, the Bible does not count as evidence.  The Bible is the claim; you need more proof than that if you are going to convince someone outside of the religious community to respect your claims.  It would be one thing if he was not talking about creationism and was only generally witnessing to someone, because yes, religion does require faith, and can usually get by without the necessary requirements for evidence found in science.  But in science, you need proof.  And that is something that creationism severely lacks.

Furthermore, one of Ken Ham's first comments in the debate really pissed me off.  Saying that "atheists have hijacked the word science," imposing a "naturalist religion on unsuspecting students."

Ah, yes.  The Persecution Complex.

To say that this idea has upset me to no end is truly an understatement.  It fills me with fury when other Christians claim that we are persecuted when, in reality, we are often the ones doing to persecuting.  Guess what?  We're the majority!  Not just in the United States, but worldwide.  Laws pushing anti-science, anti-LGBT, anti-woman, and anti-human rights are, more often than not, pushed by Christians.  When someone calmly tells us, "Can you please not involve religion in politics?" or "Can we have the right to choose to not follow any religion?" we're like "WAAAAH!!!!! SOMEONE IS PERSECUTING ME!!  THERE IS A WAR ON CHRISTIANITY!!!!"  And I, for one, am sick and tired of it.  Save the cries of persecution for places and times that actually deserve it, where people are being killed and tortured for it, not when people are saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."

Yes, I know that not all Christians are like this.  I'm very lucky to have met some very tolerant and kind Christians in my life.  But nevertheless, it is this vocal part that pushes people away.  Hell, there have been times in my life where I have been so close to pronouncing myself agnostic.

But what does this have to do with the Bill Nye and Ken Ham debate?  In a word, I am ashamed of Ham.  I am ashamed of what Christianity is becoming.  If we don't learn to accept scientific fact, if we don't learn to stand for human rights, then we will die.  Christianity, our way of thinking and of life, will become nothing more than a fossil.  We will become extinct.  The underlying principles of Christianity are good.  Love your neighbor.  Give to the poor.  Care for your fellow man.  The last thing I want is for these basic principles to be weathered away, to be lost to the evolution of humanity, because of the actions of bigots and villains who use the Bible as a tool for undermining the good of humanity.  I refuse to associate myself with such cruelty.

Besides, why can't we have both?  Why can't we believe that God made everything, but that we can find the processes that He used through science?  If you ask me, this divide is ridiculous.

All in all, the debate was very riveting, and I learned so much about science.  Bill Nye, if by any chance you're reading this, you kicked ass, and I hope that one day I get to see you speak in person.  Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to find a bow tie.  Because bow ties are cool.

Love and Coffee cups,

Friday, January 31, 2014

Support and Perseverance: Combating Mental Illness Together

Many people who are diagnosed with any medical condition, whether it be bipolar, depression, cancer, etc., often find themselves alone.  I confess that I've been having that sinking feeling of isolation for a long time.  It wasn't until recently that even an inkling of belief that I wasn't alone began to emerge.  Ever since all of this mess started (my first entry on the blog By the Seat of Your Pants chronicles in detail my journey beginning my first year of college), I've had this feeling of loneliness.  I wasn't just weird anymore, someone who had a few quirks, but was otherwise okay.  In short, I was a freak.  At least, that was my personal view of me.  No one else I knew had these problems for the longest time.  When I first joined SAI, and during my first year of college in general, the only thing I ever told anyone was that I was "sick."  Which was true, but I left out the "important stuff:" depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation...  I couldn't tell anyone.  That was my plan.  I would get through this stuff pretending to be normal.  I had done it for so long; surely I could do it for a few more years.

But, of course, that proved to be wrong.  Dead wrong.

I've been working on finding ways to get treatment.  I've been seeing the clinic here on campus, and I hope to find a doctor once I return home for summer break.  Am I better?  Well, no.  But this isn't an easy road to walk.  I'm still trying to get better.  And I couldn't have gotten where I am now without the help of some amazing people.

First, my cousin Amy.  I've referenced her a lot on this blog, and in turn, she's referenced me.  She's been a big inspiration for my writing.  She was the one who encouraged me to start this blog as a therapeutic way of getting my feelings across and to stay stable, after seeing the success (both personal and otherwise) of her blog Letters to Daniel, which is now not only a blog and a bestselling memoir, but hopefully an eventual documentary!  And seeing her rock the publishing world with God only knows how many books and contracts she's earned over the past few years fills me with hope that yes, I can publish a novel, despite the setbacks that I constantly have to face.  Not to mention the other members of the writing community that I've befriended, including my friend Triston, who is currently working on a novel of his own, and my fellow writers on the By the Seat of Your Pants blog.  I've learned to turn my work on Gears of Golgotha, Coffee-Crazed Writer, and By the Seat of Your Pants into outlets of therapy.

I also am blessed with an amazing boyfriend, Matt.  He knows that I can be successful, and supports me in everything.  He encourages me to pull myself up by the bootstraps, as we say here in the South, while still lending me a helping hand.  February 19th will mark ten months of being together, and they have been the best months of my life.  Through him, I've learned to trust people, that not everyone is out to get me.

As most of you know, I am a member of the Gamma Upsilon chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota.  (Love and Roses, girls! <3)  And my sisters have been a big help to me over the past year.  Earlier today, my Province Officer Carrie came down to visit me to talk to me about my diagnosis and my journey thus far.  Carrie was a huge help to me, and even pointed me in the direction of available resources to help accommodate my illness.  Now more than ever, I definitely feel the bonds of sisterhood.  There's also my friends outside of SAI, but I have too many to mention.  They have all been there during this difficult time in my life, and I am grateful for the support they provide.  Again, I have too many to mention, so for those of you reading this, you know who you are.

I also have amazing professors and faculty here at Morehead State, including members of the education, English, and music departments.  The faculty and staff have all been extremely supportive of me, making accommodations and helping me succeed.  I am especially grateful for the people at Morehead State's Tutoring and Learning Center.  Through them, I've learned that I can succeed, and that asking for help is not a bad thing.

Is my life easy?  Well, no.  But nothing worth fighting for is ever easy.  As Walter C. Dornez says in Hellsing Ultimate, "If something can be achieved easily, it probably isn't worth it."  (Yes, I did just quote an anime.  And yes, I probably just spelled Walter's last name wrong.  But I don't care.  Nobody freakin' knows how to spell his name haha.)  And when you fight for something, it's always good to have allies, friends, and loved ones to back you up.

So this is my advice to you: try as hard as you can to establish a support group.  This can be anything: your friends, your family, your church, a club at school or at the library.  Mental illness can leave you with this stinging feeling of isolation.  But guess what?  You're not alone.  There's an entire website devoted to mental health statistics.  For example, 2.6% of American adults live with bipolar disorder, according to the National Institute for Mental Health.  That statistic may seem small, but put that in perspective with our large population.  That's about 5.7 million Americans!  The National Alliance on Mental Illness (or NAMI) has many groups around the country.  If you don't live in the United States, ask about appropriate resources available in your home country.   But one of the best things you can do is educate yourself; read up on the subject of whatever illness you or your loved one has.

And for those of you who are reading this who do not have a mental illness, but are currently helping someone on their road to recovery: thank you.  Thank you for being supportive of us on this long, hard journey.  We realize that this is hard for you, too, and I don't think we make it known enough how appreciative we are of you.  Without you, we may not be here today.

Mental illness may seem like a losing battle.  But when you fight it together, it's a battle that you can win.

Love and Coffee cups,

Monday, January 27, 2014

Don't Panic?

I can't believe it.  I was so high.  It was like euphoria.

But now, I can feel the crash.

No, I'm not referring to drugs.  I'm referring to mania.

This semester, even with what little I'm doing, is starting to pile up, mostly with things with my fraternity, Sigma Alpha Iota.  This week is our Recruitment Week, which means three different informationals all week. Tomorrow night (well, I'm guessing by now it'll be tonight) is our Live Action informational, which is basically going to have a life-sized Candyland board, improvisation games, pictionary, etc..  Then the day after that is our sleepover/girls' night informational, and ending with our Formal Informational on Friday.  I'm helping to set up everything, mostly because I volunteered for everything under the sun during my episode of mania all last week.  Now, I'm starting to crash, to feel the weight of all of this pressure.  On the one hand, I've already set these commitments to my chapter.  I love SAI, and I love my sisters, and I don't want to let them down.  But on the other hand, I'm also feeling the pull of having to get all A's in my classes.  I don't want to have to leave Morehead.  I've already established a support group here.  Hardly anyone back home outside of my immediate family and a handful of friends is aware of my health situation other than what I've written on this blog.  If I have to leave Morehead, I'll be forced to start all over again in establishing a support group, and it already took me forever to find the one I have now.  Leaving will only put me farther behind in my treatment.

One of the central lines in the book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the phrase "Don't Panic." I think the idea of that in the context of the book was to tell the reader, "Don't worry about space; everything you need is right here."

But applying that phrase in real life?  Yeah, easier said than done.  Much easier.

See, while we may not have aliens or anything like that, we have drama, and work, and class, and (for some of us) health issues that we have to work around in order to do well.  Trying to juggle bipolar disorder or whatever problem you have, as well as a job, and class, and a fraternity (or sorority), and a boyfriend/girlfriend... it gets rough.  There are times when I will snap at my boyfriend when I get upset, or I'll snap at a sister, or start crying nonstop.  Or it'll be the opposite: I'm suddenly overly nice.  I want to do everything under the sun.  Oh, you need help with something?  Let me take on your project 100%.  Oh, I have five other projects I'm working on?  Don't worry, I got this.

And then?  Boom.  You feel the weight of everything that's expected of you.  Those five projects?  Well, what first seemed to be little more than ants have now grown into the size of giant hydras.

Five giant hydras with one hundred heads each.
(And yes, I did just pull a Hercules reference.)

In a word, it's scary.  Don't panic?  Yeah, I'd like to see someone try to say that after riding this roller coaster. Up, down, up, down.  And not just that.  Really high ups, and really low downs, over and over again.  And it won't stop.

There are only two things keeping me up this week.  One, our chapter's recruitment week.  Membership and informationals have always been my favorite part of SAI.  Two, I only have to trudge through one more week after this, because next weekend, I get to see my boyfriend for the first time since the semester started. I'm telling you, I think I could use a nice cup of coffee... or tea... both sound good right now.

Love and Coffee cups,

Monday, January 20, 2014

Is There Only Black and White?

Hey, everyone!  Sorry I haven't been posting.  Classes started last Monday, so I've been trying to get used to my schedule and all.  I absolutely adore it!  I'm taking an astronomy/cosmology class, a natural history class, music history, post-World War II history, and a class on special education.  My professors are absolutely amazing, and they have been more than supportive of my bipolar diagnosis.  I also start work tomorrow, so that will be awesome.

So, I've been thinking of what to post for this blog.  I've been tossing around several topics over the past few days: the misuse of religion, the unfair stigma of mental illness.  Growing up liberal in the so-called Bible Belt region is extremely difficult.  You often feel as though you are completely alone.  Thus, you never try to get involved in conflict, especially if it's political or religious conflict.  But this blog--and you, my wonderful, beautiful readers--has been a healthy outlet where I can be myself without starting a fight.  Keeping this in mind, I decided to step back and analyze my week as a whole.  As I meditated over everything that has both irritated and inspired me, I learned one crucial lesson: the world is full of gray areas.  Not in the sense of the world being cold and unfeeling, but more so in that there is never an easy answer.

This may seem like common sense to most people, but for some, this statement will seem at best unorthodox, and at worst, downright heretical.  Songs such as BarlowGirl's "Grey" and Bible verses such as Revelation 3:16 reinforce the idea that you can either be on one side or the other; every answer, every issue must be absolute.  At least, that is how the modern church construes these messages as.  Divorce? Completely evil.  Going to church?  Completely good.  Abortion?  Completely evil.  However, what many don't realize is that there are many other sides to each issue, and the facts that surround each case change from person to person.

Take, for example, divorce.  Many people are comfortable enough in their own shoes to say that divorce is completely evil.  The Catholic Church's stance on divorce is a big "no."  There are some exceptions, but not many.  (Before anyone says anything about me being abusive towards Catholics, I was raised in a Catholic church, and about half of my family is Catholic, so I am familiar with their policies.  Also, I am very supportive of Catholics, and I am not afraid to tear down anyone who dares to abuse them.) However, what of those who are victimized, who are endangered through these unions?  Domestic abuse is a very real thing in this world.  There are some people who won't be afraid to say, "Tough jerky.  You should have truly known this person before making that commitment."  Here's the thing, though: people are very good liars.  Even while you're dating someone, you still may not be able to see their true nature.  Or one could be blind to what is obvious to others.  When I was dating my ex during my freshman year in college, I couldn't see that our relationship was extremely unhealthy.  All he ever did was tear me down.  This was around the time when I was starting to be evaluated for mental health problems.  Whenever I would find myself thrust in a panic attack, he would leave me there alone, just staring at me.  Often, he would call on someone else to take care of me while he went back to whatever he was doing (which was usually to play games or to hang out with his friends).  It wasn't until some time after he dumped me that I saw how bad he was for me, and that I noticed that once he was out of my life, I was finally starting to feel better (or better than I was during the relationship, at least).  This is true for marriage as well.  He could be your dream man while you're dating him, but after you get married, he would change, and his true colors would show.  And this is just one of many occasions where divorce may be necessary.  It is unfair to say that all divorce is evil, when it is clear that for some people, it is needed.

And what about going to church?  Many religious people will say that this is a definite good.  But what if the person experiences abuse at the hands of those who claim to live by the credo "love thy neighbor?"  Many members of the LGBT community experience this abuse.  Hell, late last year, a Methodist minister was defrocked for presiding over his gay son's wedding.  Many people experience this abuse behind closed doors, and never return to church.  And you know what?  I don't blame them one bit.  To be perfectly honest, I would rather never go to church again than go to a place where I felt like I was treated like nothing. I don't need that negativity.  Bipolar disorder has given me enough problems to tackle; the last thing I--and other people--need is to be demonized because we don't fit into a perfect mold.  All that should matter is living by the two commandments Jesus gave: "Love God and love thy neighbor."  Love, and the rest will follow. (And if anyone ever tells you that the only way to accurately follow those commandments is if you fit into their mold, kindly refer them to Romans 2:13-16.)  But on the other hand, not every church is like that. The Episcopal Church has been a wonderful home for me over the past few years.

For all of the black and white the world tries to throw at us, abortion is the one issue that people have tried to define the most.  My mother is a very godly woman, and the reason she cites that she is pro-life is that she wants to stand up for the unborn child.  However, unlike my mother, most other members of the pro-life community really care more about birth than the child itself.  And if the movement is called pro-life, then why do they resort to violence against abortion clinics, which sometimes even end in death?  Like it or not, abortion is going to happen.  I would much rather have it be safe and legal than having the mother resort to going to some back alley and have more... shall we say, unsafe procedures performed on her.

Posted by The Christian Left Facebook page
January 16, 2014

(I think my views on abortion could be best summed up by comedian George Carlin.  I've really grown to love this guy's material.  He is shocking, but honestly, that's what the world needs every once in a while: a good shock.)

I know I haven't really talked about my writing much this time, but honestly, I wanted to devote this entry to addressing the problems that I've been encountering.  Rather than starting a fight among my friends and family, I wanted to take the time to address the problems I've been encountering, that way I can address everyone at the same time without having to jump from comment section to comment section, and in worst case scenarios, ending up resorting to ad hominem arguments. In truth, I should no longer be afraid about standing up for what I believe in.  I may not enjoy conflict, but if I'm going to protect others that are victims of these supposed "black and white" arguments, then I might as well step up to the plate.  In the end, Revelation 3:16 shouldn't be about defining beliefs or issues as black or white; rather, it's about being passionate about what you believe in.  If you're going to believe something, go all out.

Love and Coffee Cups,

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Flowers Watered with Tears: Musings of a Writer Afraid of the Spring

So, today marks the last weekend before classes start.  Mostly I've been spending it getting settled in, watching Doctor Who (Christopher Eccleston, you are still my muse) and Once Upon a Time (Captain Hook is delicious, just saying), eating, and getting ready for class.  One of my classes requires that you take an obscene amount of notes in order to pass, so I've been trying to read ahead and get started on that.

Oh yeah, and sleeping.

This semester is filling me with... shall we say, apprehension, to say the least.  Only one of my classes this semester is going towards my major; the others are general education classes.  So, I'm not too worried. As my good friend told me, "There's no pressure."

But then, on the other hand, spring has never been a good time for me.  In high school, there was a year-long period where several of my relatives all died in a row, beginning in the spring of 2011 and ending in the spring of 2012.  Last spring was when the attacks got worse.  Spring was the time of year I attempted suicide, and the day after that, my now ex boyfriend dumped me.  Let's just say that when T.S. Eliot wrote "April is the cruelest month," I think he meant it to be literal for me.

That's not to say that good things haven't happened in the spring.  My parents' anniversary is in the spring.  I graduated 14th in my class in the spring of 2012.  I was accepted into the Kentucky Ambassadors of Music in the spring of 2011 (a group that would go on a sixteen day tour across Europe in the summer of 2012). More recently, I started dating my boyfriend last spring, and this spring will mark our one year anniversary. And when I get older, I want to have a spring wedding, that way something else good will happen in the spring.

So I guess that I'm afraid of the spring.  It's a pretty time of year, but the flowers are watered with the tears of loss and suffering.  What if I fail my classes?  What if I lose someone else?  What if my mental health declines?

But I can't let my life be dictated by what ifs.  I don't know what this spring will bring.  I'm going to leave the things that I'm not sure of to God.  I will prove to everyone that I can succeed despite the setbacks of the previous several years.  Nicolas Cage put it best in Ghost Rider when he said, "You can't live in fear."

For now, all I can ask is that you wish me luck with this semester.

Love and Coffee cups,

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Biggest Hypocrite in the World?

So today, I was talking to my sister about Gears of Golgotha.  We were looking up actors that looked like my characters, and I was telling her all that I had planned for the novel.  The conversation seemed to be going well; we were talking civilly, like actual human beings.  That is, until I told her about why I was writing the story, that if we want to make the world better, we need to drop the labels and actually do something as a species.

She turned to look at me.  "That," she said, "is the most hypocritical statement I've ever heard you say."

My jaw dropped.  

I'm used to being called a hypocrite.  Hell, I'll be the first to admit that I'm the biggest hypocrite out there. Still, I'd be lying if I said it didn't hurt.  When you're writing something that's supposed to have a good message and then have someone knock it down, it kind of stings.  Just a tiny bit.

I sat on what she said for the rest of the day.  She did have a point.  I do have a tendency to label people, especially those who don't agree with me.  I won't hesitate to jump on the bait about anything that makes my beliefs look right.  Growing up liberal in a mostly conservative environment, I had to deal with people thinking I was a blasphemous idiot for quite a while before I found a place where I could fit in.  I've never been able to express my political opinions without starting a fight that usually ends in damaged relationships and tears.  Every time my family starts talking about politics, I just put my headphones in and try my best to ignore them.  So now, whenever I have an opportunity to express my beliefs, I take it.

On the other hand, regardless of what beliefs I or others have, I should not stoop to that level.  I know the pain of being demonized just because I was different.  I should never have any excuse to do the same. There's a difference between telling people you're a liberal or conservative or Christian or atheist or whatever, and telling people that if they aren't what you are then they're uneducated bigots.  If I do that, I become just as much of a bully.

But does that mean that I am a hypocrite for writing Gears?

The world isn't perfect.  Many things are easier said than done.  We may spend too much time talking about doing good things rather than actually doing them, but honestly, sometimes it's just not possible to actually do them.  If I could rescue every stray animal, I would.  But I don't have the money to adopt and feed them, or the room to keep them.  One person can't do it all.  It takes a group effort.

I may be a hypocrite, but I think that this is the one time that I'm not.  I can't bring people together on my own.  Honestly, Gears is my penny that I'm tossing in the wishing well of the world.  Besides, maybe by writing this novel, I am encouraging an inner transformation of my worldview and thinking.  I just hope that I don't lose sight of this purpose as I progress further into my story.

Love and Coffee cups,

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Music to Grind the Gears By

Yeah, yeah, that was a really stupid pun.  I probably should have warned you all, I tend to make jokes. Really stupid, unfunny jokes.

While I am aware of the origin of the phrase (and it just so happens to be one of my favorite Family Guy episodes), the purpose of this entry isn't to describe songs that annoy the ever-living crap out of me.  Rather, these are the songs that inspire me the most while writing Gears of Golgotha.  You could say that this list is more of what I wish the soundtrack would look like.  Maybe by posting these, I can leave you another little nugget about the novel.

Writing may be my first love, but I've always had a secret love affair with music.  Hell, before I was an English major at college, I was a music major.  I remember when I switched majors I described my situation and feelings as such:  "For me, music is in the friend zone.  I love it, but I'm not in love with it.  I want to be in love with what I do."  This isn't to say that I hate music.  On the contrary, it has become one of the greatest inspirations for my writing.  (I am also a member of Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity. So yeah, I kinda like music a little bit.)  I usually come up with some of the best parts of my story by just putting my headphones in and letting the music take me.

So, without further adieu, here are the songs that inspire me the most while writing Gears of Golgotha.

(By the way, quick warning: this post is going to have A LOT of links.  A LOT.)

1. Feed the Machine (Red) - This song is about how people have given themselves to the world and have given up their individuality.  The Chemists act like Chemists and the Mages act like... well, Mages.  Why? Because that's how New Pangaea works.  Every person has its place.  The world works like the Gears; every piece must fit perfectly into place that way the cogs can mesh.  The "machine" that they have given themselves to is the Gears.  Everything in New Pangaea revolves around the Gears.  Erin has given up her Chemist identity, her identity determined by New Pangaea and the Gears.

2. Radioactive (Imagine Dragons) - Yeah, I'm pretty sure this is the anthem for every dystopian story.  The techno sound, accompanied by the pounding of the drum, make the song seem surreal and grand at times. That's how the people feel about the Gears.  But more than that, to me, the song is about welcoming change. The citizens of New Pangaea welcomed change after World War Three, and Erin welcomes the change that she undergoes and that she can bring.

3. Unleashed (Epica) - This song was actually recommended to me on the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) "Post a Synopsis, Get a Soundtrack"  forum.  While the song is actually more about death than anything, and the thoughts that go through someone's mind at the end of an uneventful life, I feel that it can still fit into the overall tone of the novel.  Some religions talk about a person "dying to one's self."  In other words, they shed who they once were to become someone else.  This is something that every character (well, almost every character) goes through over the course of a story, especially in Gears of Golgotha.  They die to who they once were and become someone better.  (On a more literal note, *SPOILER ALERT* someone dies in Gears!)

4. Wrong Side of Heaven (Five Finger Death Punch) - I previously did an entry on this song and about how it connects to Gears, so I'll be brief.  Erin feels like that no matter where she goes, she can't fit in.  She doesn't fit in with the Chemists, but the Mages don't completely accept her, either.  She's too bad to be good, but too good to be bad.  She's torn between the values she was raised with and what her heart is telling her.

5. Rise (Colton Dixon) - Recommended to me by my younger sister Mary, this song is about overcoming obstacles to become the best person you can be.  Erin must overcome her fear of conflict to stand up for what she believes in and for the good of New Pangaea.  You may have your own beliefs, but if you don't stand up and say something, things aren't going to change.  It's something not only Erin, but Makswell, Damon, and every character goes through.  It's pretty much the same principle as Unleashed.

6. Narcissistic Cannibal (Korn feat. Skrillex & Kill the Noise) - This song mainly focuses on the darker aspects of Gears.  That is, the villain and his attitudes and motives.  I won't disclose much other than this, just because if there's one thing I want to keep a surprise about Gears, it's the villain.  (Villains are one of my favorite parts of any story.)

7. Impossible (Manafest) - When my cousin Amy McCorkle (the awesome author of Letters to Daniel) and I went to Panera yesterday, she introduced me to the song, and I fell in love with it completely.  To me, this song is about someone being in suffering and calling out for help.  In the case of Gears, it's for the characters not being true to themselves. This song definitely characterizes the feelings that Erin and Makswell experience throughout Gears.

*Honorable Mentions* (Mostly, these are other songs by some of the artists above.  I really don't like using the same artist more than once in a list.)

1. Breathe Into Me (Red) - This song makes me think of the Mages and their magic, as they call upon their magic to "breathe their life" into their power.  It also makes me think of the desperation in Erin to do what she has to do.

2. Battle Born (Five Finger Death Punch) - This song mostly has to do with the identity of the wanderer shared by several of the characters.  The Gears have impacted their lives in such a way that they have lost sight of who they truly are.  And in the end, they are reborn from the ashes of their destroyed identities.  (I still can't make sense of that flight announcement in the middle of the song, though.)

"But why are you using Christian artists alongside artists like Korn and Five Finger Death Punch?" you may ask.  To be quite honest, religious and non-religious people alike behave the way they do because that's the way they were conditioned to behave.  What you say, what you do, what you wear, what you listen to, they're all determined by what values you hold.  And the difference in values often leads to discrimination (think Crusades or Spanish Inquisition).  That's why I'm including artists like Red, Manafest, and Colton Dixon, which are obviously Christian artists.  The point of Gears of Golgotha is that if we truly want to make the world better, we need to drop the labels.  The mixture of religious and secular music is a little homage to this message.  (Not to mention that the groups can attract fans they never were able to reach before.)

Let me know what you think of the list.  I know I have a very eclectic music taste, but I think that just makes life more fun.  If you have any other song ideas, don't hesitate to let me know!  Happy listening!

Love and Coffee cups,

Thursday, January 2, 2014

"Jesus was a Friend and Not a Judge...": My New Year's Resolution

"Sunday morning, wake up early
Skip church service to find my Jesus
I know, it sounds so sacrilegious
But I just don't belong in a place like that
I love the cause but not the act

"'Cause Jesus was a Friend and not a Judge
He loved the sinners as much as he loved the little ones
That Man was Love and not an act..."

Yeah, yeah, I know.  Another song post.

So, 2013 has come and gone.  And now, 2014 has opened its doors to new and great possibilities.  Many people take this time of year to set resolutions: go to the gym, spend more time with family, etc.  I've been trying to think of something to do for my New Year's blog entry.

Then, this afternoon, one of my friends on Facebook posted an article from The Huffington Post about how we can't say "love the sinner/hate the sin" anymore.  That got me thinking about how I've been living this past year in 2013.  I nearly lost a friend on Facebook to a fiery debate on gay rights; I said some things that weren't kind.  (Then again, I was probably in the middle of a manic episode, looking back on it.)

2013 has been a rough year for me.  It was the year I changed majors in college.  It was the year I was diagnosed with mental illness.  It was the year that I attempted suicide.  But most of all, it was the year that I felt farthest away from God.  Looking around, I saw all of these people using the Bible, which is supposed to be filled with words of goodness and truth, and warping it into a document which condemns anyone that doesn't fit into their perfect little mold.  I couldn't find God in the Church anymore.  My dreams of one day becoming an Episcopal priest went up in smoke.  During the fall semester, I only went to church about three times; for two of those times, it was when I was at home with my family, and it was mostly to "keep up appearances."  I began to have a certain distaste for Christianity.  Or at least, what it had turned into.

I'm pretty sure if Jesus came back, many so-called
"Christians" wouldn't hesitate to crucify him all
over again.

I knew that this wasn't what Jesus taught.  I looked at what Gospels actually said.  Love God, love thy neighbor.  Help the poor and needy.  "Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me" (Matthew 20:40-45). This was the God I knew, not the condemning monster that people were presenting as Him.  That's why I posted the lyrics to "Sacrilegious" by NeverShoutNever at the beginning of this post.  If I could just live like Jesus, I would.  If I could be as kind, gentle, and loving as He was--and is--I would.  I already know I'm going to fail; I'm only human.  But as I posted on Facebook earlier today, the least I can do is try.

So that brings me back to the second part of the title of this entry: my New Year's resolution.  My resolution is to live like Jesus.  Not the one that many paint him to be today, the one who hates atheists, LGBTs, the one who judges and discriminates. No, I want the One who lives in the red letters Gospel, and the One whom I want to live in me.  The One who is a friend to all.  Sure, there have been days where I wanted to tell Christianity to kiss my ass.  But how can I make the Church better if I'm not around to do so?  My worry is that people will only think of God as a terrifying creature in the sky who takes a magnifying glass and burns like ants all of those who don't fit into a perfect white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant mold.  I'm pretty sure that some Christians will think of this post as nothing more than reiterating common sense.  But how about we stop with the talking about it and actually live it?  It's what Jesus would do.

Love and Coffee cups,