Saturday, July 28, 2012

What About the Gault Children?

Now I know I'm supposed to be researching the Stones, but the Gaults are tied to the Stones through marriage... so I'm in the vicinity of doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

The family history states:
After the [Civil] War, her (Kansas Elizabeth Gault Stone) mother (Great-Grandmother Gault) loaded her few possessions and three children (Cansas Eliz., Aunt Belle and Uncle John Gault) into an ox cart and came to Texas and settled near Honey Grove in Grayson County and that is where your Grandfather William Thomas [Stone] was born in September of 1884.
Okay, so the census records show that Martha/Milinda Gault had the following children: John, Mary Jane, Kansas E., Belle, William and Ellen T. All of them were born in Tennessee. And all of them were living in Fannin County, Texas as of the 1870 census (the first census taken after the Civil War). So why does the family history only mention three children: K/Cansas, Belle and John?

PS - Also of note is that Honey Grove is not in Grayson County, but in Fannin County.


Retreat!

I am not a debater. I don't like conflict. It makes me uncomfortable, and I'm a lover of comfort. The last couple of days have turned in to debate, where I feared the consternation of others in response to my opinions. I realized that I really didn't want people to read my blog. I was afraid to post links to it. Scared of being judged. So today I'm retreating. I'm coming back to myself and the purpose of my blog. I'm finding comfort in genealogy and reading and music. I'm researching dead people who can't judge me. I'm reading humor that also enlightens. And I'm ignoring everything else. Just for a little while.

Friday, July 27, 2012

On Second Thought

I can't shake the feeling that my last post about Chick-Fil-A was naive and largely missing the point. I feel guilty for eating at CFA, and it's not because of the calorie count in their food (I don't count calories anymore and I couldn't be happier about it). It's because my conscience is telling me that social justice trumps happy tastebuds. Ugh. I just hate that little cricket in my ear that tries to be my guide.

This morning I was reading my blog feed. Alise of Alise Write wrote a compelling item about why she does not patronize CFA. It didn't have anything to do with the beliefs of the CEO, but rather with the monetary support that the company has given to an organization that participates in anti-gay hate speech. Read the post here.

I have no first-hand knowledge of the causes CFA supports, nor do I know what most of the companies I frequent support. But IF it is true that CFA supports hate speech, I don't see how I can - in good conscience - continue to eat there.

A few years ago a video was released that exposed the animal cruelty that takes place at the places where Kentucky Fried Chicken gets their chicken. I haven't eaten there since. It made me physically nauseous. I loved KFC, but I couldn't stomach their cruelty. Can I seriously say that it's easier for me to stomach cruelty to HUMANS than it is for me to stomach cruelty to CHICKENS? I joke about liking animals more than people (it's true, really), but when it comes right down to it... I really do like people.

Maybe I am the one who is not taking the CFA issue seriously enough. Maybe I have to find it within myself to allow the humanity in me to outweigh my desire for this yummy food (which I really really love). Maybe today is the last day that I'll eat CFA for lunch. Maybe the recipes I've found online will closely compare to the real thing and I'll be able to get my "fix" anyway. Maybe.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Confessions: I Support Gay Marriage. I Eat at Chick-Fil-A.

I've been reading a lot of rants lately about boycotting Chick-Fil-A because their CEO upholds a belief in "traditional marriage" and thinks that gay marriage is likely to be the beginning of the end of America. Or about supporting Chick-Fil-A because their CEO was "brave" enough to tell everyone.

I have to disagree with everyone. Don't ban Chick-Fil-A. Don't ban gay marriage. Eat chicken. Love people.

I don't think Chick-Fil-A should be banned in any city. Not if their only vice is having owners who are vocal conservative Christians. They have the right to be what they want and tell others about it. Now, if they were refusing service to gay people that would be a different story altogether. But they're not. So... let them do business with whoever wants to do business with them. If Boston and Chicago and whoever else really don't want them there, the stores will fail. Problem solved. They should be allowed to fail. Or succeed.

I don't think gay people should be marginalized and told they can't marry. That's just how I feel. And if they disagree with the principles of a particular company, they have the right not to do business with them. But I don't know what good that will do. Not getting my chicken fix isn't going to make Chick-Fil-A all of a sudden supportive of gay rights. It's just going to mean I don't get to eat that yummy chicken.

Sometimes I think we make too much out of things. It's not like we didn't all know already that Chick-Fil-A is a Christian company (after all, we've all had a craving on Sunday that we couldn't satisfy). So shocker... the family that owns it is conservative. So are lots of people. Do you interview your baker, barber, dry cleaner, guy in the Taco Bell window and see if they're going to gay-bash you? No. You just do your business and go on with your life.

Let's just step back a little bit and get some perspective. If you (like I) love Chick-Fil-A chicken, that doesn't mean you hate gay people. It means you like that special blend of spices. If you (like I) support gay marriage, it doesn't mean you hate God. It means you love people (which, last I checked, so does God).

I do have to take issue with one other thing... just as a side note. In reading one of these many articles, I read this quote from CEO Cathy: "I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about." I would like to counter this statement with this: "I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to define what God is all about." Yes, I think you are arrogant and prideful and audacious if you try to suggest that you have the knowledge of where God's love begins and ends.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and assert that God loves BOTH Chick-Fil-A people and gay people. And the mayors of Chicago and Boston. And the people on Fox TV. And the people on CNN and MSN and Logo. And definitely the people on Comedy Central. The people in Afghanistan and Iraq and Russia and Turkey and India and America and Canada and Britain and Finland and South Africa and Rwanda and... well clearly I can't name all the people that God loves. Nor should we try to. Just assume He loves them all. And wouldn't deny tasty chicken to any of them. And also wouldn't deny them the right to commit to and love each other.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Guilt

I don't feel guilt about a lot of things, but one thing I can't ever seem to shake is guilt for not going to church on Sunday morning. I'm secure in my relationship with God, but any time I contemplate not going to worship on Sunday morning, I feel like I should have some verifiable excuse for not going. Like a doctor's note.

This morning I woke up with a terrible pain in my shoulder. I've iced it, took Advil, stretched, massaged and slathered it with Icy Hot. It still hurts, and the pain is creeping into my neck. So my immediate thought is, "I should go to church. I could go to church, even though my shoulder hurts. But I don't want to. So... does my shoulder hurt bad enough that it warrants skipping church?" Well, I guess the answer is no... but all the same, I'm skipping church. And feeling guilty.

Maybe it's because I work at a church and depend on people (like myself) to support the church. It's my livelihood. If people abandon church, I need to find a new job. But I'm not really abandoning church. I'm just staying home a day.

So why the guilt? Because it's been ingrained since childhood? Because I think someone will think less of me? Because the church can't function without my presence (clearly that'snot true)? I do believe it all boils down to the expectations of others. When I'm thinking about missing church, I never - notonce - think about God judging me for that decision. I think about my parents and my friends and my co-workers and the pastors at my church... about how they all show up regardless of how they "feel" or what mood they're in.

I don't know if I'll ever stop feeling guilty for skipping worship. But today - just for today - I'm going to try to release the guilt into this blog post. And try to not think about it again. Until the next time I skip church.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Loving Yourself

I don't think I've met anyone who would readily admit that they love themselves. Everyone I know has something about themselves that they wish were different. I suppose we all do. But I discovered some time back that I really do love myself. At the time, I thought I could love myself except for how I look. I assumed there was something inherently wrong with being overweight. I should feel bad. Unhealthy. Ugly.

But deep down inside, I didn't. I felt healthy (except for my allergies and a once-a-month hormone imbalance). I couldn't run a marathon or hike to the top of a mountain (and have zero interest in doing those things), but I could do the things I love... play in the flower beds, lop limbs off trees and bushes, walk quickly in and out of the grocery store, wander cemeteries for hours. I like my smile, my eyes, my hair. I like being a little bit messy. I like that dogs love me and I love them. I like being able to create things and research things and learn things.

And honestly I like my body. I can't imagine being skinny. I like that I tower over all of the other ladies at work. I like that I feel substantial, like I'm always "present." I like plus-size clothes. I like wearing big colorful shirts and jeans with a little bit of stretch in them.

The problem was... I wasn't supposed to like these things. Society, my family, my friends, the media... everyone was telling me that I should want to be small. And for all my life, I believed them. I looked in the mirror and said, "I hate you."

Then a couple of things happened. The first was that I met a guy online and went out on a couple of dates with him. He was like a male version of me, and I liked that. All the things that I liked about him were the things that were exactly like me. I had a glimmer of realization... that if I was attracted to all these things about him, then that probably meant that I loved these things about myself! The glimmer lasted for only a little while. It ended when he sent me an e-mail explaining why he couldn't have a relationship with me. The gist of it was: all the things about him that were just like me were the things he hated about himself. Ouch.

I went back to thinking I was supposed to hate myself. But secretly, I didn't hate myself. Not at all.

The second thing that happened was a true revelation and a turning point. I was reading a blog post about a single guy who was upset because he went on a date with a girl he met online... and she was fatter than her pictures had led him to believe. He never went out with her again. He said it was because she'd lied about her appearance, but those who commented on his post called him out on it. Everyone asserted that it wasn't about the lying. It was because she was fat. (There's probably some truth to both.) I followed the comments and privately agreed or disagreed with various ones.

Ragen Chastain -  danceswithfat.wordpress.com 
But one of the posts caught my eye. It was written by a woman named Ragen, and her profile picture made me do a double-take. She was clearly overweight, and also clearly doing a very difficult move that resembled gymnastics or dancing or pilates... I wasn't sure which. I did what I do... stalked her. I found out that she was a competitive dancer and, get this... a fat activist. What the heck?! I'd never heard of such a thing. But I visited her blog and started reading. I can't remember the first blog post I read, but as I browsed her site, I read many articles that explained that being fat was okay. That fit and fat were not the opposite of each other. That all of those articles that say fat people cost more money, get more diseases, die younger, etc. were heavily spun by the media and the 60 billion dollar a year diet industry. That the actual results of this research shows that being overweight doesn't make you unhealthy. What?!!! Are you telling me that everything I ever thought about size, weight, and MYSELF were cleverly spun marketing ploys?! O.M.G.

It didn't take long... a day? a week?... for me to embrace this information and boldly declare to my mirror, "I LOVE YOU!" I had been waiting 38 years for someone to validate the way I feel about myself on the inside... regardless of what others think I should feel. Relief! Realization! More relief! [Why did I need validation? Well... I guess that's another story for another day... don't know if I know the answer.]

I spend a lot of time with myself. I'm single. I don't have someone to hug me daily and tell me I'm fabulous. I spend a lot of time researching my family and reading about all the wonderful things they did or said or wrote. Some would say I'm highly ego-centric. Maybe. But I really love me. I love who I am and where I came from. I love how my mind thinks. I love my life. And I'm perfectly comfortable in this skin of mine. Finally.

PS - There's still something I really kinda hate about myself... when I'm pissy or bitchy or complainy or lose my temper. I always feel terrible after I've spoken meanly to someone.



Thursday, July 12, 2012

Blog Reading

I follow several blogs. It took me a while to get into the world of reading others' instead of just writing my own and leaving them out there with no audience. I still have no audience, but I'm doing better at becoming a part of someone else's. I've just come across a new blogger to follow... Stacy Bias. One of her recent posts relates indirectly to my last post on Keeping Quiet. It's entitled "Insecurity: Imperfect & Unforgiven." Well-written and oh-so-how-I-feel sometimes.

Insecurity: Imperfect & Unforgiven

I want to talk about insecurity. Actually, I want to openly claim insecurity. I want to wear it like a badge instead of an anchor. I want to acknowledge that it has made me paranoid at times. At others, self-absorbed. I want to erase the shame in it. keep reading...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Keeping Quiet

There have been many times lately that I have found myself keeping my mouth shut, my opinion to myself. I have a particular set of beliefs and opinions, just as we all do. But I am surrounded by people who don't agree - or at least my perception is that they don't. I have begun to wonder... do I do a dis-service by keeping quiet? Or is it okay to just maintain peace and not disagree with anyone? Does it matter if people know my opinion? Is it okay to just let them assume that I agree with them, when I don't?

Case in point: I had lunch with someone the other day who was upset about their pastor's sermon that morning. I asked what it was about and she said, "Helping the poor." And went on to assert that this is further proof that her pastor "is a Democrat." In my head, I thought, "And that's bad because.... why?" Why is it bad to talk about helping the poor? Jesus did it all the time, and last time I checked this person claimed they are a follower of Jesus. And so what if your pastor is a Democrat? There are lots of people in both parties that claim religious affiliation. Christian does not equal Republican. Nor does Christian equal American. But did I say anything? Only, "Hmm."

Another case in point: At our family reunion we were playing "Apples to Apples" - where you match an adjective with a fitting noun. This game really underscored the difference in my opinion and the opinions of my family members. I kept getting nouns like "talk radio" and "right-wing" - which I would have readily put with adjectives like "annoying" or "tedious." However, I knew that my family disagreed with me. So I spent the game trying to match words safely so as not to instigate a debate over "who in the world would think THAT?"

One final case: The other day, someone in the office was praising one of our pastors for all the weight he has lost and told him to "keep it up." Although I'm glad he's been successful so far, my recent reading has shifted my perspective on the benefits of weight loss. I worry that he is doing himself more harm than good, and will only gain that weight back and then some. Statistics indicate that this is true. And then I worry that he will feel terrible about himself all over again... just like every fat person in America is taught they should. I wanted to say, "You look good, but you looked fine before too... because being fat is okay." But I didn't... because, really, I didn't want people to look at me and say, "You're insane."

I'm not insane. I just have my own opinions. And for the sake of peace, I keep them to myself.

But, for the record, I think it's okay to help poor people... more than okay, it's the mark of having a heart. It's basic human kindness. I also think it's okay to be a Democrat. Or a Republican. Or no party at all. I think talk radio people are annoying. And I wasn't a fan of George W. Bush as a President, but I'm sure he's probably a good man (although I don't have personal experience, I've heard stories). I think it's a good idea for gay people to be able to marry each other. They are real people with real feelings, real love, real families, and real needs for benefits and rights. I think it's okay for people to be fat. I think fat people have the right to be loved and respected and not persecuted... just like everyone else has those rights. And I think bodies are beautiful, no matter what they look like. Bodies are amazing feats of engineering, design, creation. And my fat legs are a marvel, because they bear the weight of my body with strength.


You may disagree with me. In fact most of the people I know would disagree with at least one of those statements. But that's okay. You have your opinion, and I have mine. But I probably won't share my opinion unless you ask me directly... because, quite frankly, I don't want to argue about it. I'm not a fan of debate. I'm a fan of the underpants rule. You mind yours and I'll mind mine. 

And, yes, I'm still a Christian. No, I'm not a left-wing radical (although I'm more liberal than I used to be). I'm absolutely not a right-wing conservative. I'm not an anything-wing anything... I just think we could love each other more... be more compassionate and more understanding than we currently are. We could value one another more than we value money. We could question all the "right" and "wrong" things we are certain about, and consider the possibility that our certainties are hurting people.

"Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."

Thursday, July 5, 2012

New Target...errr... Project

So I passed off the Edgren family, and found myself wandering around in cyberspace with no particular place to go. Luckily, Colby was on Facebook posting about his search for a connection within his family leading back to Thomas Stone, signer of the Declaration of Independence. What a noble cause to undertake on July 4th. Of course, I couldn't let that comment go without sticking my nose right in the big middle of his business. So I'm starting to try and trace the Stones to make a connection... or prove there isn't one. So if anyone knows who the parents of Matthew Robertson "MR" Stone are, please holler! It will save us some legwork.


Matthew Robertson Stone:  Feb. 9, 1836 (Tennessee) - Feb. 7, 1917 (Higgins, TX)
m. Kansas (or Cansas) Elizabeth Gault Stone (1855 - 1931)

Monday, July 2, 2012

One down, all the world to go...

I'm getting ready to deliver the Edgren family history. It's odd trying to find a stopping place in a never-ending project. Family trees never end. We never find all of the information. So how do you decide when to stop? You could stop when you're stumped, but then that's no fun. Because this project was for someone else, I had to find a stopping point, and it had to be arbitrary. Basically, the stopping point became my trip to Chicago. I had visited the cemetery and seen the headstones that I could find. If I didn't stop now, I would be digging into this family's history forever and never be able to deliver a product. And so, the Edgren journey ends. For me, anyway. I do hope the family will find the time and interest to continue on without me...