Posts Tagged With: Religion

Losing Favor Over a Promotional Sweepstakes

When I am asked what I write about in my blog, I have usually listed politics, religion, social issues, travel, and whatever is on my mind. Now I have had over 50,000 Let's Let Al Unser, Sr. Answer Thatpeople view my posts here, I see the posts that are about businesses or services that I have written about are just as popular. So now I add consumer advocacy to my list of topics. This post describes how a product/business that I liked A LOT has lost favor with me over a sweepstakes. There was a time that entering my sweepstakes was an easy and pleasant way to pass my time whether I am down because of my Multiple Sclerosis or just passing some time with the hopes I could win something. Winning “The Fastest Seat In Sports” sweepstakes from http://www.shophonda.com last year was a highlight that has kept me motivated to keep entering sweeps. But now I know that little thought is put into how some sweepstakes are set up and designed. It makes me wonder, have sweepstakes designers ever consulted with a “sweeper” (a name I call people like me that enter lots of sweepstakes) about the sweeps they are designing?

An example of a poorly designed sweeps and prize, I highlight the “Take Off With Biscoff” sweepstakes (http://takeoff.votigo.com/takeoff). This is a sweeps that checks off Biscoff Sweepsmany of my bad sweeps pet peeves. Peeve 1 – Making it seem simple, but it is not! It says, “You can WIN A TRIP by Biscoff Photo Rulesuploading a photo. Tell us how Biscoff Cookies – The Airline Cookie – elevates your day! Upload a photo showing how you enjoy Biscoff Cookies, for a chance to win a Trip for two to Europe and more prizes“. This seems simple enough… but check out the photo of the entry requirements for the photo – WAY too many to mention! All of this just to enter. Yes it is best to “study” ALL of the rules so you can enjoy their promotion!  lol

Peeve 2 – “Public  voting”. After someone jumps the hoop to get entered… then you only think Biscoff Determinationyou are at the mercy of the public to vote if your entry even makes the gallery. Then it is only a competition for people who have skills that make their entry more interesting than the others, not something most will, can, or have time to do for ONLY A CHANCE to win a prize. But guess what… even if your entry gets the most “votes” does not mean you win. The public “vote is only 40% of how a winner is determined. The other 60% is from a “Sponsor-selected panel of judges”. I include a photo of how the winner is determined and see if you understand it with a simple reading or do you have to reread and calculate in your head what they are saying!  Study a little more! lol

Peeve 3 – The prize! Yes, I even have issue with the prize. Why would I have issue with the prize? A 3 day/2 night trip to Europe. What do you actually get with this trip? JetlagFirst let’s pretend you are healthy (I have MS and eliminate myself from this scenario), you spend day 1 basically flying to the sponsor determined destination in Europe… that’s right, the sweeps does not even tell you where you are going!  lol Now to me, destination unknown would be fun. But after spending pretty much a day getting there and spending night 1 in bed exhausted and jet-lagged after flying over several time zones, you have day 2 to drag though. So on day 2 of a 3 day trip, you do as much as you can before having to get back to the hotel so you can spend night 2  to get ready for day 3… flying home!  lol Sweepstakes in the US with US destinations that have a 3 day/2 night trips is really silly… so why did anyone think a 3 day/2 night international trip would be a good idea? Sounds penny-pincher to me and we know penny-pincher trips are so much fun!!! So, the only real option for most would be to take the alternate $4,000 gift card – which is what I would HAVE to do.

Now with all the sweeps in enter, why has this one set me off and inspired me to write a post about it? See the vague e-Biscoff Rejectionmail I got after trying to jump their hopes to enter this sweeps! I had posted this photo of clouds out my window flying. DSC00016Even after being rejected and studying the rules again… I do not see any violations of the rules.  I told a sap story of asking for extra Biscoff Cookies from flight attendants so I could share them with my Mom after my flights, Cookies with my Mom elevates my day. There is a very small chance the hashtag  #takeoffwithbiscoff may not have pasted when I copied and pasted it into my comment. But still, and e-mail that does not say what I did wrong does not inspire me to take (waste) the time to try again for a minuscule CHANCE to win a trip that would be challenging at the least for someone with MS. So I chose to take (waste) my time writing this post.

The alternate $4,000 gift card would be life changing for someone in my situation, just as would winning the First Prize of 50,000 Delta SkyMiles would be GREAT. But now, even winning the Second Prize, a years worth of Biscoff Cookies, would only leave a bad taste in my mouth! I see in the gallery of the sweepstakes that many others must have studied the rules better than me and entered successfully and I wish them luck! So if I accomplish anything in a sense of advocacy with this post… it would be that ANY company using sweepstakes consider that you want your sweeps to be simple and FUN and Biscoff Cookies (Lotus Bakeries North America) missed the mark with me on this promotion and caught me in the right mood that rejecting my entry just pissed me off! I think you can also guess that The Biscoff Coffee Corner is off my itinerary during my August trip to San Francisco.

 

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Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This Guy I Know

Helping Others

There is this guy I know who I admire and respect. This guy wants and tries to help others, to do and be good. This guy feels there are valuable life lessons that can be learned through his experiences in life. Lessons that people can learn from without HAVING to experience the tough situations personally as he has. He lives with blinders and forgets all that is good about himself because he sees little change with many of the people he encounters. I should mention – this guy I know has lost his religion and he lost it because of religious people!

This guy I know has family that loves him and that he loves, but it is a conditional love. He sees a not only deeply religious people of faith, but he also sees people who are deeply helping religionmisguided. Like many “Christians”, they read the Bible to find reinforcement for their prejudices and hatred.  They NEVER see the contradictions of the Bible.  This guy I know sees them use the Bible to justify and rationalize how they can “Stand Their Ground” for their beliefs while showing contempt for others beliefs. They find it difficult to live with things it says like “love thy enemy” (because as a gay man… I AM the enemy), “turn the other cheek” or to quote Jesus, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 

I would rather be a pet if I could be happy!

I would rather be a pet if I could be happy!

This is the first  and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Matthew 22:37-39). But it is often translated as, love the Lord as YOU see Him and only how He is seen through YOUR eyes and anyone that sees God differently than you is a THREAT to your faith and their lifestyle condemns not only them, but also you if you are tolerant of it and they are not worth respect and love: love your neighbor as yourself (your own children are exempt – they are not a neighbor) only if he/she believes the same as you and otherwise it is ok to dismiss them and their “sinful lifestyles” because as a Christian you have to stand for what you believe in (or you’ll fall for anything – or some other catchy country music lyric). Oh yeah, I almost forgot…  AND eat Chick-fil-a as evidence that your Christianity is real.

This guy I know WORRIES! He has never actually known hunger, but worries – will he have enough money for food to hungry-childlast the month? During the last week of the month before payday… he does have to be creative sometimes. This guy I know tells me he has never felt true hunger but one reason his money is sometimes short, on payday he shares! Each month one friends gets treated to dinner out. Each month he buys rice and beans that he gives to a lady that helps care for homeless orphans and street kids. This guy I know, he DOES more Christ-like things than most Christians. He also exercises a faith few Christians could do by hoping (having faith) that he will have enough food to eat after doing a kind deed for a friend and even some poor strangers – orphans and children! I think Jesus would like that about this guy I know.

This guy I know lives with a pain from a disability that few could endure for a one day, much-less DAILY! But this physical helpingpain is nothing compared to the pain in his soul that comes from seeing injustice and the casual acceptance of these injustices. This guy sees selfish people fight to prevent others from having health care because in someway allowing health care for the poor may slightly affect them and how can they share something like healthcare… with poor people no less? This guy, if given the magic to do so, would cure cancer, AIDS or even heart disease because as inconvenient as his Multiple Sclerosis may be, people “die WITH MS not FROM MS” and he would rather help others that more urgently NEEDS help than he does. Didn’t Jesus say something about helping healing the sick?

This guy knows that suicide is now the leading cause of death from “injury”, beating out even car crashes. But helping gays trevor projectpeople still accept their “Biblican” ways to justify a blind eye as to how their callus attitudes toward others affects others. Teen bullying is epidemic. Being different is unacceptable and frightening to many. At 45, this guy I know is often brought to tears reading about a gay teen that has taken his/her life because it is more appropriate for family and friends to stand their ground and make these people feel worthless than to show kindness or to attempt to understand. There are bigger problems in the world than does this guy’s Mom love him, but for a teenager… rejection from a parent stings more than to an adult! For both teen and adult it HURTS!

If standing up for your beliefs hurts others… I think you should question your beliefs! I think Jesus would helping conditionalhelping soldierhave peacekeepers versus soldiers. When did Jesus advocate for militarization? Would He really? The attitude of “I condemn your lifestyle not you” is simply a lie! When I say “I am gay”, I am not using gay as a verb or adjective… I use it as a noun.  I AM a GAY. If you cannot not love the gay part of me and being gay is WHO I AM… then your love is not UNconditional! This guy feels a loneliness because he now knows he has to sever ties with his family for him to feel self worth again. But this guy knows he is not alone there are thousands of others whose family cannot accept that they are gay and we do know – “it gets better”!  

Maybe this guy I know can now begin to remove the blinders and see what is admirable within himself and find respect for himself again, not letting so called Christians rob him of his integrity because they use their religion to make him feel like less of a person. Even Bible Saysthough he takes no pleasure in calling out faults of those that claim to love him. This guy’s mother feels that even meeting or being friendly with her son’s boyfriend is surrendering her faith, giving up her beliefs! She does not see the fallacy of this thought just like she can not rationally interpret scripture. Being gay is worthy of condemnation and is an abomination, but she loves shrimp, wears jeans sometimes, eats bacon enough she should have concern for he salvation and owns some poly/cotton blends, yet she fails to see those things for the abominations the Bible says they are. This guy sees it as hypocrisy – USE the Bible to justify the things in life you do not like so you can feel a just and righteous foundation for your bigotry! But most of all, this guy I know is confident that the God he believes in and even Jesus, someone he feels Christians misrepresent, would not even care that this guy I know is gay.

HelpingOthersThis guy I know uses writing as his therapy and has had over 33.000 people read his blog. Many have interacted with encouraging words but yet NONE have hit his paypal donate button.  This guy is happy others enjoy and are encouraged by his words, but he would FEEL more encouragement if ANYONE helped support his efforts financially!  😉 If you click on MY paypal link… I will be sure “this guy I know” gets the money! lol This is the only way “this guy” feels he can reach out for help!  As much as he likes to help others… he is taking a break to take care of himself for a while. I need to find this guy so I can tell him I love, admire and respect him!  

Below, Jillian Jensen sings Jessie J’s “Who You Are”… This guy asks himself often this very question and he relates to her pain!

I stare at my reflection in the mirror:
“Why am I doing this to myself?”
Losing my mind on a tiny error,
I nearly left the real me on the shelf.
No, no, no, no, no…Don’t lose who you are in the blur of the stars!
Seeing is deceiving, dreaming is believing,
It’s okay not to be okay.
Sometimes it’s hard to follow your heart.
Tears don’t mean you’re losing, everybody’s bruising,
Just be true to who you are!
(who you are [x11])
Brushing my hair, do I look perfect?
I forgot what to do to fit the mold, yeah!
The more I try the less it’s working, yeah
‘Cause everything inside me screams
No, no, no, no, no…Don’t lose who you are in the blur of the stars!
Seeing is deceiving, dreaming is believing,
It’s okay not to be okay.
Sometimes it’s hard to follow your heart.
But tears don’t mean you’re losing, everybody’s bruising,
There’s nothing wrong with who you are!Yes, no’s, egos, fake shows, like WHOA!
Just go, and leave me alone!
Real talk, real life, good love, goodnight,
With a smile, that’s my home!
That’s my home, no…No, no, no, no, no…
Don’t lose who you are in the blur of the stars!
Seeing is deceiving, dreaming is believing,
It’s okay not to be okay…
Sometimes it’s hard to follow your heart.
Tears don’t mean you’re losing, everybody’s bruising,
Just be true to who you are!
Yeah yeah yeah

 helping trevor project

helping trevor-project

helping gay teens

I could never hear this too much!  But it is too much to ask!

I could never hear this too much! But it is too much to ask!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/24/suicide-leading-cause-death-us_n_1909772.html

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Discarded Obama Campaign Stickers

I was visiting overseas during the U.S. Presidential election, but I tried to stay informed. This was my first time to ever contribute to a Presidential campaign. I was also the first time I was really actively involved in any campaign. The Obama campaign had sent me a few bumper stickers as a thanks for donating and I was so excited that whenever I do get home… I was going to be able to post my Obama stickers on my little OLD truck. But my conservative mother threw them away! No thought given to the idea I may WANT them. No consideration, just trash. Some I had actually purchased. 

This campaign MEANT something to me! I willingly gave up my middle class lifestyle because of my Multiple Sclerosis and I had a tough decision to make – my lifestyle or my health. My health won-out! I gave up living in a nice house with one of my most favorite people in the world as a roommate, driving a BMW convertible and living in the exciting city of Las Vegas for living at home with my parents, with no car, in a small town in Mississippi. Like I said… NOT an easy decision, but a necessary decision. I knew the sacrifices I was going to have to make and I was lucky to have a loving and supportive family to help me.  

I struggled for two years with no healthcare because my M.S. was a pre-existing condition and this was during the time Obama was trying to get what is now labeled Obamacare passed. For the first time I saw something in politics that directly affected me and it was the President leading the cause. My new standing as a poor person with no insurance helped me see a side of this issue like others could not. I was living solely on my social security disability income and living at home, I was still only barely by. Eventually I qualified for Medicare and FINALLY had health coverage.  

My conservative, Republican, Christian family that watched more Fox News than ANY other news outlet, called Obama a socialist and believed all Fox News said, even though I was one of the very people Obama was trying to help with Obamacare – they saw it as evil and bad and so was Obama. This is when a passion for what was going on in politics began to grow IN me. My frustration also grew because I could not get them to see and understand – I AM ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE” Fox News is demeaning! My parents had Social Security & Medicare and others in my family even had Medicaid and they witnessed my struggle with health issues all-the-while I had no health insurance. I began to see “conservative” to equal – I got mine and I do not care about you.

Needless to say this created a struggle for me in relating to my family and even strains our relationship today. I felt like an outsider in my own family.  Church was so important and BEING Christian was even more important. But as the conservatives boasted of their Christianity, I witnessed a great deal of not so Christian actions. Being gay has helped me see “church”, Christians, and even God in a much different light. I saw the principles of the Democrats relate more to Christianity than the “religious right”. I wrote a blog specifically to try to engage people to explain how “conservatives” were Christian (http://wp.me/pKLa8-GU) and e-mailed a blog that asked the same but in a friendlier tone than I had be able to muster! (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithforward/2012/11/time-for-christians-to-make-a-choice/) Republicans extol their Christianity but for me it conflicts with their politics and I feel the Democrats live it by their politics.

I see Jesus as someone that would spend time with gays, having wine and talking with them, not standing in line at Chick-fil-a so the company has more money to prevent gays having equality! I see Jesus touting the GOOD of Obamacare, not worrying how it could affect his personal coverage if the uninsured get access to care! This creates for me my biggest struggle – it makes me see my dearly devoted, Christian mother and others in my family as hypocrites! They already dislike me for being so different in how I think… how could they deal with being viewed as hypocrites? Or possibly even racist because of things they say about Obama? Oh yeah, that is why it was such an internal struggle for me to live that close to them. I hate myself for seeing my family the way I do. We DO love each other… but there is no respect unless there is agreement and I just can’t agree with them. They refuse to listen to my points because I think they do not want to see the hypocrisy. But any attempts I make to talk and try to understand only ends badly! I am a critical-thinker and NEED more than rhetoric and “faith” to understand things! Now I live far away and even at a distance it still hurts me!

My father was diagnosed with Dementia and suddenly Fox News was not on the tv as much (if any actually). A few months later he had a stroke, then 9 days later died. At his funeral, all that spoke (including me) mentioned his trademark little, old, piece of crap Toyota trucks he had over the years.  I did eventually get a little money and had the opportunity to travel to see my friend I call Little Buddy (one of my FAVORITE people in the world) and when I returned from that trip – I bought a little, old, piece of crap Toyota truck like my Dad used to have. I was looking forward to putting my Obama stickers on MY little, old truck, but they were thrown away because no one considered them relevant at that house  – the same as me… discarded without consideration or concern!

P.S. I do love my family and they do love me… like my facebook relationship status says – it’s complicated! My writing is to express feelings I am unable to share otherwise and this is how I feel now.

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God Made Me Gay

Jesus Looves ALL His Children!!

At the end of May, the story of my childhood trauma was shared.  I was asked recently, “Were you born gay or did being molested at such a young age make you gay?”   This made me think: was I born this way, was I seen as gay at such a young age that this made me the target of the molester, did the molester set into motion the very act that would “change” me, or was this as many say, part of God’s plan?

I have always been a little different.  I did not enjoy sports, hunting, fishing… all the things most other “southern boys” enjoyed.  At even a young age, I enjoyed politicking – meeting people, working the room.  For me, this experience mainly came at church.  Was my friendliness an openness to giving the little old ladies a kiss an early sign of my potential gayness, or just a means to get some free gum and candy from the little old ladies?  Even for gum… it was not worth it for the other kids.

Was the secret I carried haunting me and “changing” me even at that time? Or to the theory that I was already gay,  my psyche could have already been prepping me for a life of being “different?  Were my keeping secrets, not telling anyone what was going on with me early gay defenses?  Was the fear of revealing I was molested also demonstrating my fear of being “found out” that I was gay?

My Mom Is Far From Being Proud!

Once I explained to my mother that either way…. my being gay was a result of “God”.  1 – either I was born this was as God intended or 2 – God did not prevent the molestation, thus creating my gayness at that point.  Her strong belief in God effected me in such a way that I distanced the “type” God she has so much faith in.  I cannot have such faith.  I believe in God as a creator and spiritual guide for my life, but not the God so many cling to out acceptance of a 2,000 year old book written by men.  I do not doubt that these authors and editors had the best intentions, but they were men who no better understood God then than we do today.

The Bible that so many embrace has been used as a weapon against me.  I have studied the Bible to find salvation.  But what I found is a book people cannot see for what it is…. a guide.  It is not the produce section at the market where you pick and choose what you want to take from it.  NO ONE has the ability to digest ALL of what the Bible says one must do.  One cannot condemn someone for being gay while claiming to love thy neighbor. It is a book with too many contradictions.

It Is Easier For The Gays To Love Christians - Some Are Really Cute!! 😉

Some say that what the Bible says is unchanging, but no one today stones their children for disobeying (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), accepts selling their daughters into slavery as permissible (Exodus 21: 7-8), women wearing pants is not seen as an abomination (Deuteronomy 22: 5) or even that eating shrimp is an abomination (Leviticus 11: 9-12).  But yet they hold to the Leviticus 20:13 passage that says, “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.” as unchanged.

I will never really have the luxury to know the answer, because I was molested and I am gay – WHY is not important!  I spent my childhood hiding what happened and most of my adolescence and early adulthood denying who I was.  What I do understand is, as humans, we are not capable of fully understanding who God is or what He wants.  Jesus did say the greatest commandment was to love one another.  Why can’t we just do that?

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My Parents Are Fireworks

I claim to be a Firework (see I Am A Firework blog November 1, 2010), but for my parents – I am just a sparkler.  I can live with that because I know they love me.  Even though they cannot always appreciate my burst of colors, they have always acknowledge my sparkle.   I am the man I am today largely because of their support even when my extreme decisions have challenged them.  My parents a very conservative, religious, Fox News watching, Republicans and they do love their moderate, spiritual at best, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Democratic son.

I know they have questioned how I became so different in my way of thinking.  It is because they always encouraged my sisters and me to seek answers.  My sisters, for the most part have followed the same path as our parents.  While they can accept on nothing more than faith that the decisions they make are the best decisions, I have to try to research, study, and learn to find my own answers.  We have learned out of necessity to tolerate each other’s differences despite that we no longer understand how each other thinks, feels and lives so differently. One thing we may forget is that I am standing as stubbornly on my decisions as they do theirs.  This is the example they set for me.  My Dad always repeated the saying, “You have to stand for something or you will fall for anything.”  We need to remind ourselves that we are both standing for something even if our “somethings” are completely different.  I know I often struggle to remember this.

My parents also taught us that nothing was impossible if we set our minds to it (they enjoy using clichés).  But my mind aways worked a little more diversely, so my impossibilities were even more adventurous than they would have ever imagined.  Trying to make the impossible – possible became a challenge at which I embraced and excelled.  My parents have had limited travel experiences compared to their children because when we wanted to see the world… we literally went to see the world outside of our beloved Pike county.   For me, to the point of living in another country.

We learned what it was like to have support in the decisions we made.  They sometimes knew we were not making the best decisions but knew we could even learn from mistakes.  We had support even when things were not our decision.  Few could have more family support than I did when diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  When I decided that Colombia was an easier climate to live with my MS, even though they may not have liked my being that far from home, they supported me knowing my health was at stake.

They may not have taught us to speak our minds as much as they set that example.  There are umpires and referees that will also testify to Dad’s speaking freely about a missed or bad call on a ball field or ball court.  Now we all feel we can speak our minds and like many politicians and activist groups, we feel only the loudest gets heard.

Land was Dad’s biggest asset and he sold (at a very reasonable price) that to my oldest sister so she could build a house and live close.  My other sister has gone above and beyond by taking care of Mom & Dad with helping cook, clean, keep up the yard and even chauffeur; will get the family house and the land on which it sets.  Someone asked, “What will you get Thomas?”  The only answer I had to give was I already got my inheritance.  I got a free spirit that feels enlightened because even when I am not a beautiful firework show, I am a fun little sparkler.

Thanks Mom & Dad – I love ya!


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