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Where have I been? Freethinker Mom is Back!

I know, I know. It’s been way too long since I shared some tidbit of life as an atheist parent with you. I got a job outside the house last September and life has been a whirlwind of insanity since then.

So, here’s an update on life:

  1. I’ve lost 35 pounds since January 1. I’m super proud and I feel better than ever! And, I’m still losing about a pound a week thanks to the Keto Diet.
  2. My two girls are in summer camp at the YMCA here in Tulsa. Their experience has been great so far, and they’re loving being outside all day. It’s been very non-religious, which is wonderful for all of us.
  3. Work is going well. I’m doing what I love for a great company. Can’t beat that!
  4. I have so much to tell you! Let’s start with how I actually went to church for the first time in years, and on Easter Sunday, no less!

Yep, that’s right. A Christian got an atheist to go to church. A coworker and dear friend invited me to come to the inaugural Easter service of her start-up church where she would be preaching her first Easter service. I built their website as a favor to my friend because I truly believe in what she’s doing in her church. I decided to put my distrust of religion aside and go to support my friend and her lovely partner.

So we got dressed up and went to the service, which was held at the outdoor stage of a local downtown bar (YEAH!). It was misty and rainy, but I was glad to be there. I was proud to be a part of the service that day, for the message was clear and full of hope and love. I even sang along during worship!

You see, the pastor of this church is openly gay. She and her partner are preaching love. Pure, beautiful love. They are accepting, caring, and kind people. They truly understand the meaning of love, and I know my friend loves me, regardless of our differences in beliefs.

Of all the Christians I’ve met in this world, she is the truest follower of Christ I’ve ever known. It was her kindness and openness to my beliefs that compelled me to say yes to her invitation. Never has a Christian shown me the compassion and understanding that she shows me regularly.

So yes, Christians, you can get an atheist to go to church. And, while I did listen, and while I did agree with my friend’s message of love, I’m still an atheist. And you know what? That’s ok. :)

As a side note, I haven’t had access to the email address connected to this website, so I hope to get that resolved and answer any mail. I know I said I always write back, and I will – to each and every one of you – ¬†because I’m sure there are some letters from someone!

Thanks for being patient with me during this transition to working outside the house!

Sincerely,

B

 

Ring the bell! School’s in!

Ah, it’s been far too long, my dear freethinking readers!

School is finally back in, and I’m happy to report that my daughter is no longer in the same class as her religious friend. Something interesting has happened in the past week. My daughter, who got in trouble frequently last year for acting up, talking out of turn, and being out of line, has improved dramatically. She hasn’t had her “card lowered” even once, and had gotten special rewards for being extra quiet and attentive in class. I’m amazed. Granted, this has nothing to do with her friend being religious, and everything to do with the fact that the two of them aren’t in class together anymore. But still, I’m happy with the direction this school year is going!

My youngest daughter also started pre-k this year, so it will be interesting to see how different the two of them are with regards to school relationships and behavior.

Anyway, I’m back and ready to regale you with tales from the summer, so keep an eye out for new posts in the coming weeks. ¬†I’m going back to school this fall (yes, I’m insane) to get my master’s degree, but I intend to keep posting and communicating with my dedicated readers.

Thanks for sticking with me while I took a short break! Be sure to let me know if there are topics you’d like me to write about. Just comment here or send me a quick note! Thanks!

It’s been a rough couple of weeks, but it’s getting better.

I have a good life. I really do. But I have internal struggles that make everyday life hard to cope with sometimes. I battle depression, anxiety, a borderline eating disorder, three major physical health issues, and weight troubles. I battled many of the same things as a (religious) teenager. I once used prayer as a way to let my problems go. I’d “give them to god,” as many Christians say. I’d push them away, deep down, trying to forget them and refusing to deal with them in a productive way.

They’d fester. They’d boil. Then the lid would explode off the pot. My dad and I would scream at each other. I’d rebel. Then came the guilt. So I’d rock back and forth on my bedroom floor, sobbing and begging for god’s forgiveness for my terrible behavior. I’d write in my journal that I was lonely. I’d write that I felt unloved. Wasn’t god supposed to love me? Weren’t all my prayers supposedly being heard by him so he could bring me up from my sadness? Still I prayed, being told by friends and family that god is in control and has a plan for my life.

I never learned to deal with stress. I packed it away, deep down, until it exploded out of me. I know I can’t do that anymore. I know I have to let it out. I have to deal with things responsibly. I have to take care of myself.

Writing this blog and getting my thoughts out of my head and into a sort of physical place (at least they can be seen) really helps. I try to stay on topic, but sometimes I just need to vent. This week is one of those weeks.

I feel frustrated. I feel worthless. I feel like a failure because I can’t seem to lose weight. I need to do this for my family. I need to do this for my overall health. But nothing works, and I’m afraid of failing again.

I was taught to be “broken” before god. To let him fix me. I no longer want to be broken. I would like to take control of my own life instead of pretending that some outside force is going to make it better. I want my girls to grow up with healthy self-esteem and I want them to see me as strong, healthy, and capable.

Things are better this week. I made it to the gym and got a good workout in. I have a big craft show coming up this weekend, which will unload a lot of stress when it’s over. Thanks for letting me vent. Thank you for your letters of kindness and support. Don’t forget – I always write back, so be sure to check your junk folders!

Freethinkers and Education

I’ve mentioned before that education was not important to my family. In fact, only one other family member has any kind of degree and she was in her 50’s when she went back to school. I am a first generation college graduate and this is a source of pride for me. My husband was in school when we met, and he encouraged me to go back to school to finish my degree. I was skeptical that I’d be able to do it with two kids and a graphic design business, but I found a degree plan at the University of Oklahoma that worked for me and stuck with it. Almost all of my undergraduate degree was online, and the last two years were 100% online through OU’s College of Liberal Studies.

You may think you don’t have time to get it done. You may think you don’t have what it takes, but getting a degree and doing it online was one of the best decisions I ever made. Please don’t think you can’t do it. I managed to use the Pell Grant and subsidized loans to make it out of school with relatively little debt. You can do it too. It’s worth it.

I know this sounds odd, but as a Christian, I thought god would solve all my problems. I thought he “called” me to be a singer, so I deluded myself into thinking I could make a living that way. Some people can, but I never could and should have realized that. I thought I would be in god’s service forever, so I never bothered to better myself for the world. It was a bad thing to be considered worldly, and I wanted to appear godly.

When I deconverted, I realize how important it is to know things about the world. I realized the importance of being able to think critically, to communicate, and to write well (though my proofreading skills might say otherwise!). I’m so glad I learned to value education. Even though a lot of it is just playing the game, that little piece of paper opens up more opportunity for success than pretty much anything else.

I figured, what’s the use in being a freethinker if I don’t know how to think to the best of my ability? So I nurtured this new love for knowledge and now I can’t get enough. I’m going back for my master’s this summer!

Generation Atheist, by Dan Riley – Book Review

21pppQJKrbL._SL500_As you may or may not know, I denounced Christianity in adulthood. I was raised as a Southern Baptist and this is what I always knew. It took courage and time to break the ties I had with Christianity, and even though it’s been years, it still isn’t easy. In fact, the thing I struggle with the most is finding people to whom I can relate. In Oklahoma, this is very difficult, but the Internet has made it possible to read the stories of people who, like me, came to realize the truth. In these stories, I find comfort. I find advice. I find common ground.

Generation Atheist, by Dan Riley, is a collection of stories about how and why 25 young people came to be atheists.

Two of the stories in the book are those of people I consider personal heroes in the atheist community. The first is Jessica Ahlquist. I first read about Jessica at The Friendly Atheist (who is my other hero mentioned in Generation Atheist, but we’ll get to that in a bit!). Her story is one of bravery and strength, and there were details revealed in Dan Riley’s book that I had not read on the interwebs. As a parent, her journey gives me hope that there are young people who see the danger of bringing religion into schools. Her story gives me courage and makes me want to speak out. I only hope my children are as brave and strong as she is. Living where we do, they’re going to nee all the courage they can muster!

My second atheist hero whose story is in Generation Atheist is Hemant Mehta, speaker, atheist blogger at The Friendly Atheist, and author of I Sold My Soul on eBay: Viewing Faith through an Atheist’s Eyes. Hemant is outspoken and comfortable in his lack of faith. His blog was one of the first resources I found as a new atheist, and his advice was always helpful and comforting in a time of such confusion.

Riley’s book is a great read for anyone who wants to know why and how people become atheists. If you need to relate to other atheists, if you need to read about their struggles and victories, Generation Atheist is for you. For more information on Dan Riley, and to read excerpts of the book, visit his website. Or if you’re already intrigued, head over to Amazon and buy it now.

Note: This is a non-paid book review.

December 2012 Update

Hi everyone! So first of all, I’m sorry for the lack of posts. I graduate from the University of Oklahoma in less than 2 weeks and I had to write a capstone paper, so yeah, it’s been a little crazy.

Secondly, I looked at my analytics this morning and realized my readership has grown significantly! I’m getting about 900 visitors a month, with more than half of those being unique. Thank you all so, so much for reading. I know there aren’t a great many resources out there for non-religious parents specifically. I urge you to consider purchasing Dale McGowan’s book, Raising Freethinkers (with which I am not affiliated), as well as Parenting Beyond Belief. They are both excellent resources. Those are my Amazon affiliate links, and clicking them to purchase helps support this blog, so thank you!

I have big plans for this blog and really hope to do great things with it once I’m finished with school. I can’t believe I’m almost there! It feels like a lifetime has been wasted without education, but no more!

So thanks again, and I will most definitely try to keep up with comments and posts until school is out.