My dedication is to my family and my faith.
This blog is updated when inspiration strikes and time is available.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Gone Too Soon

Tonight we lay on the couch watching a movie. I got up for a bathroom break, and when I came back my husband had just gotten off the phone with his mom. He quietly tells me he's glad he didn't go out, a boy was killed in a car crash near our house tonight. And we go back to watching the movie. We lie on the couch watching a dramatized story while somewhere a mother and father cry. A family in the pain of loss because of slick spots on that very road that my family traveled earlier today. As I stare blankly at that glowing tv screen I feel tears roll down my face as I know that for that family life will never be the same. My husband had mentioned he thought they were maybe going too fast. Does the one who was driving now feel guilt and self blame tearing at them while they mourn? And in our neighborhood and our home life moves on as before. I pray their community comes around them in support as they learn of this tragedy. 

A pause, as I'm finally brave enough to go read the local news online.

It seems it was in the afternoon before we were even there today, and the other vehicle involved was the one that hit that poor family, and the boy was two. I ponder why knowing his age makes it seem worse. Maybe because my own children are so close in age? I fear for them, this boy was most likely in his safe car seat just as my children ride. I fear for his parents, will they be bitter and angry, turn from God? I pray they instead walk closely with God in this time. Such tragedy so close, and yet life moves on as before, flowing around this hurting family. 

I'm brought to tears for this poor hurting family. God had a plan tonight but it might be long and hard before they can see it. Grief can be such a marathon, so hard hitting and unexpected, so exhausting. It brings up questions, why God do the little children have to leave us so soon? What is the point of me sitting safe in my house with my family while tragedy tears another family? 

Just across the river, every Wednesday tragedy reaches so many families and lost, uncertain mothers. But these families and mothers, though their babies are only two years younger than the poor boy lost today, do not get community support in their grief. They are even looked down upon by many for grieving. Because they made their 'choice' that is considered somehow legal, support will be hard to find when they have their regrets and are torn with grief. So many of God's little children leaving so soon. This is why I'm there when I can be on Wednesdays. Standing on the sidewalk from 98°F to -10°F. Hoping to be the community support to those who need it and find none. Hoping to tell them that someone still cares, that there are helpful ministries like Project Rachel. Sometimes praying, sometimes talking, sometimes silent, and sometimes losing control over the flood of tears I hold in my heart for those who's grief takes them far from God. 
Will you support those grieving, whatever their story? 

2 Corinthians 1:3-5
 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God. For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow.

I pray God's strength fills us with the love to reach those lives he calls us to. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Hope. Desire for God and Reliance on God's Strength

I thought I lost my hope for a while when I lost my baby Elisha. In reality I never understood what hope was, and that loss was just the beginning of my journey to discovering true hope. I had this conception that hope was what I felt when I wanted something to happen. I had hoped for good grades all through school. I hoped for certain gifts from Santa as a child. On the same level, I hoped I would be good enough to make it to heaven some day. As an adult, I hoped to have a family with my new husband, and our first child was so quickly conceived that it seemed all of my hopes were coming true. I was rocked to the core when my 'hopes' for meeting and raising this child were soundly dashed at his death. I asked, "What is hope?" How can hope be a good thing if God can just decide to take what you hope for away? What if I hope for things that are not in God's plan? 'Put your hope in the Lord' was a phrase I had heard, but I didn't understand what that could mean. I knew that God is unchanging, so what action did I have to hope He did? I didn't figure hoping that I made it to heaven made any sense anymore. I knew the rules, I just had to follow them to get there. That seems to me now to be a very 'Old Testament' way of looking at it. And hoping the Lord answered a certain prayer didn't make much sense, it seemed the better virtue in that case was to trust that whatever happened there would be some good.

Time passed. I continued to search. I think at some point I decided to just trust that hope was a thing that I might understand some other time. I focused on trust and set hope aside for a while. It still stuck out at me when things were named for hope or the virtue was talked about. I was content with the fact that it was a mystery to me.

A song stuck out to me one day in mass, because we sang, "All my longing is for thee," and I was feeling longings for things other than just God. I still do, though I have sorted out that the longings of my body for physical goods are not really the longings of my heart unless I let them be. The great gift of fasting helps me clearly see what I should not be longing for and weed out my immoderate indulgences. In doing so, I can focus again on my longing for things that are not of this world. I still struggle with the longing to have my Elisha here with me, and with the thought that I desire heaven in order to be reunited with Elisha. That could be a good desire maybe, but not one that should war with the true joy of union with God. If I desire a relationship with my child who was never born, how much more should I desire to be with my Lord who created both of us? With these thoughts I offer back my children to God. When the thoughts come I again acknowledge that my children are God's children first and foremost and only mine as a gift for this short time.

The desire I have to be with Elisha in heaven stems of course from my mother's love that comes so naturally as a gift from God; from my maternal instinct that my baby needs to be raised and stay close by me, at least for a little while. But with that gift I realized that I need to love God even more deeply than I love these people called my children that he has gifted me with. The deep love I feel for my children leaves me in awe of the depth of love that God feels for us, His children. I must use this as a reminder to grow in the depth of my love for God, as it rightly should surpass that love that I hold for any person, even my own blood. If I in my imperfect human nature can love and long so deeply to be with the child I had only for a short while, how much more should I turn my love towards the Father who loves perfectly and infinitely?

But these desired I had not connected to hope until a priest's homily at a conference in October. He defined hope as two things, the desire for God and the reliance on God's strength. This simple definition seems to be what I was looking for. This made me realize that I am not without hope, I just didn't know what name to give to what I was feeling. I had a word that I thought I knew the meaning for, and it left me struggling when I couldn't reach that unknown thing that seemed so important to others. Now I can see that the effort I made to purify my desires and center them in the Lord was and is really an effort to grow in hope. I had to learn to place my hope in the Lord and praise Him for His gifts, not the other way around. Another lesson that I have also been learning and continue to learn is to rely on God's strength, because I cannot do anything alone. I can't even draw a single breath without the life God gave to me, the oxygen He gives us all, and a million other things. What made me think my own strength would help me on this journey towards hope?

For now I have discovered a meaning of hope and how to grow in it. I have a measure of hope and pray to God for His strength in growing more. I might not have all my answers yet, but my journey in this great adventure called 'life' continues.

Friday, October 21, 2016

My Joyful Mysteries of Miscarriage

This year, in memory of our Elisha who we lost to miscarriage three years ago, I wrote a few short meditations for the joyful mysteries of the rosary pertaining to miscarriage. I couldn't find any shared online, the ones I found were for the sorrowful mysteries. While those are beautiful, I want to focus less on my sorrows and more on the joys of the life that God has given us. Since the day I miscarried Elisha fell on a Monday this year the joyful mysteries seemed especially appropriate. On that day I was able to pray over these mysteries with my close friend and my family, what a beautiful gift.

Some of these sentences I copied with only slight modification from other writers online and so the sources are listed at the end. These sources are beautiful in their own ways, read on if any of this is of interest to you. If my short meditations help in any way feel free to use my words, and please comment and share if further thoughts on these mysteries come to mind.

The first joyful mystery, the Annunciation. 

‘Openness to life’ means accepting God’s will for us. If we must endure the loss of a child through miscarriage, it is essential not to give in to hopelessness, but to realize that God has a plan for each unique human being he creates. It’s not easy for a couple to surrender their life-giving capabilities to God’s design and to accept whatever comes from that. True ‘openness to life’ means becoming like Mary, a “handmaid of the Lord.” It means being open to whatever God chooses for us, whether it’s a healthy baby for us to raise, or one for Him to hold in heaven. We pray for a true openness to life, whatever that brings to each family.

The second joyful mystery, the Visitation. 

As Elizabeth was able to accept Mary’s help and companionship in her time of need, we pray that families in all situations accept and feel the blessing of the help and prayers offered in their need. We pray also that each person be open to the call to reach out as Mary did for her cousin.

The third joyful mystery, the Nativity of our Lord Jesus. 

The birth of a child is always a joyful event, but some families struggle with sharing in the joy when they remember that their miscarried child had no joyful welcome into life. We pray that those in grief can still appreciate the joys that life brings and welcome the baby Jesus into their hearts.

The fourth joyful mystery, the Presentation.

The Presentation is a chance for us to consider the great gift that is our children. They are our sanctity! A child is a complicated gift, however; he or she is not really ours, and we must be at peace with giving the gift back to the Giver when He asks us. There is no greater act of love for God on the part of any grieving parent than to hand their child over to Him. In naming the child, acknowledging the existence of the child, they are recognizing their role as a parent. They are taking responsibility for their relationship with God in the creating of the child in the womb. In the act of naming and surrender, healing can come into the heart and a relationship be created which is rooted in truth and in the love of God. May we live out our Presentation like Mary.

The fifth joyful mystery is the finding of Jesus in the temple. 

Just as Mary and Joseph were separated from their son for a time, and thought him ‘lost’, so also are we separated only for a time from those we have lost. We pray that all might find their way to their heavenly reunion with those who are separated from us for only a short time.

Sources of inspiration: (pages 54-55)

Monday, September 12, 2016

I'm Going to be a Saint.......Someday

I've always had troubles getting to reconciliation, until I scheduled it into my calendar. With that one repeating calendar event, I had to go right? Before that I made sure to make it when there were scheduled reconciliation events, like during advent and lent. So the scheduled part seemed to be the key. But I still struggled, thinking I'd had a good month, was feeling pretty good about myself. I made myself go anyway and finally came up with a few things I had done wrong. I realized I had wanted to forget about them, but I couldn't tell the Lord, "Oops, did I do that?" so to reconciliation I went. The wonderful graces of the sacrament freshly given, I felt cheerful. I thought I have the saint thing down. I'm never going to sin again, I don't even want to sin anymore. God is awesome!

Until I got home. Then that same thing that I have to confess every single time pops up again, I begin to argue with my poor dear husband. About the dishes not being washed, because that's something to loose my temper over. The poor dog is anxious about our argument, and instead of spending my few precious hours home enjoying my daughter I've just upset her as well. I feel depressed, I've messed up again, tripped so soon. I feel like Jesus is sighing with a small sad frown in His eyes. But out the door I go to carry on with my busy life. I arrive at the RCIA class to support my friend who hopes to join the Church at Easter. I still feel bummed about my stupid argument, but as I listen to the short introduction stories of each of the people in the room coming to learn about the Church I feel a real joy. These beautiful people are on their own stumbling roads toward sainthood, and it's beautiful to see what has brought them to this place. I wanted to give every one of them a hug as I sat quietly and listened.

Then the weekend comes, and I'm feeling better. I tripped a bit, but I think I've been pretty good since then. The song at church says, "Jesus, Jesus, come to me, All my longing is for Thee", but as I sang I could not put my whole heart into those lyrics. Other things that I long for presented themselves in my mind immediately. I long to be with my baby Elisha, I long to discard this cross of abstinence that my placenta previa has forced on us and be once again intimate with my husband, I long for the silly phone game to release its next update. I do long for closeness with God, but it seems I allow these other longings to compete. Just when I think there is not much further for me to go toward this thing called sainthood, my Lord gently shows my in a beautiful song just how far I have to go. I'm not in sight of the narrow gate yet, may God continue to guide me and each other person toward that place in which we hope.


Friday, August 12, 2016

A Journey to a Cleaner Drain - Home Ownership Lessons

This journey is very similar to one I wrote about previously, and the moral of the story is the same. Instead of buying the cheapest option to solve my problem, I should consider an option that will actually have a chance of succeeding the first time.

In our house there are quite a few members with lots of hair to shed, including me, with very long hair, two cats, a black lab, a bearded husband. So inevitably the sink drain started collecting water in the bottom and not draining as quickly. Previously I've been unhappy with the results of using chemicals to clean out the clogged drains, so this time I thought to try a drain snake. I found this snake at a good deal (half off) and liked the idea of it coiling up for neat and easy storage. I didn't need two of them, but at half price it was fine. I just donated the second one. 

A few days later, with the drain emptying more slowly each day, the snakes arrived. I eagerly opened one up, unwound it, and jabbed it randomly down into the drain as the instructions told me to do. Unfortunately, though I found some interesting things inside my pipes (dirt), the snake was just not long enough. Frustrated, I decided to give it one more try the next day to see if I could make this tool work. The results were the same, and now the water no longer drained from the sink.

I decided the best choice was to give up on my idea of having a reusable tool instead of buying nasty chemicals all the time, and go back in surrender to draino. With our Costco membership we got a mega pack, because with all our hairy family members we were going to need it. I poured the 1/5 of the bottle required into the drain and waited......and waited.....and poured a bit more. Still the stuff was not doing its magic, only sitting in the drain and stinking. Giving up, I bailed all the water mixed with draino out of the sink into the bathtub, so now our bathtub drain should be extra clean. I poured half the bottle into the now empty sink. I waited three days. The magic never happened. It was time to call the plumber, but first I thought to check my favorite online shopping site one more time.

I saw something on Amazon that I thought just might do the trick. It was a different snake style. For four times the price of the first snake, it was out of my cheap attempt budget but still a great deal and not too much of an investment. I found a 25 foot, not inches but foot, metal snake. The others I had seen were not even 25 inches and were plastic. If anything could save us plumber bills, this could do it. Ordered, waited another few days, and eagerly tried it out. Either the instructions are a bit complicated or it's just my pregnancy brain, but after reading the one paragraph of instructions about three times through I was ready. I pushed the snake through the draino that was by this point evaporating from the sink. Several patient pushing and turning rounds later the metal snake wound its way through the clog and the sink works again! So again I have been taught that the cheapest option available is not always the one that will get the job done. 

A picture of the full journey.
Disclaimer: I was not asked to write this and am not benefiting in any way from my advertisements, I just happen to love the service Amazon and Costco have provided our family and am eager to share things that helped us.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day to the Fathers in my Life

My dad is a wonderful father and I am so thankful to call him dad. He taught me how a man should treat a woman in how he treated us in the family. He challenged me to always do the best, and always listened to my childhood thoughts and ramblings. My dad is responsible for all the knowledge I have about vehicles and maintaining them, and the knowledge I have about building and fixing things. Even though I always wanted to do things my way, my dad corrected my skills and taught me the right methods for things like sweeping, hammering nails, picking up heavy wood, and so many things that I'm probably not even aware of. He is responsible for my good work ethic. Most days in the summer, and after homework in the school year, my siblings and I knew that we would be helping work outside. We were fixing things, building things, gathering wood and hay, and doing many other tasks that made me see and appreciate the value of work. I may not have always liked it then, but now I can see that I would not have gotten where I am without learning the lessons of good work to improve on what we had. Most days we worked, but on Sundays we played games together as a family, or napped and watched TV. In those close family days I learned from my dad the value and importance in the Sunday of rest, he didn't have to say it because his actions spoke for him.

My dad is responsible for all the nice things I had growing up and my first several vehicles. Because my dad works hard at his job, I always felt secure growing up that we would never have to worry about where those nice things came from, they would always be there because he would supply them. I learned that silence is not a bad thing from him, even if I don't put it into practice well. I loved to go driving with him as I was growing up, even if it was to a 'boring' hardware store. Sometimes those stores have popcorn, and I loved to get an ice cream cone with him too sometimes. But I didn't need the treats, I needed that time with just my dad and me.

My dad makes me feel safe and is always there with deep words of wisdom when I need them. He didn't stop being my dad when I moved away and started my own family. He is still there for me even from farther away, ready to help us out every time I call. He shingled our garage roof, gave his advice as we bought our house, and gave us a mower and other tools to help us get started in our new yard. Recently he helped us fix our vehicle's air conditioner and probably saved us a huge expense. What I mean by all that is he is still looking out for us, still being my dad. I treasure his advice, the things he taught me growing up, the games we still play when we see him again, and all the help he gives. My dad was instrumental to bringing me to where I am today and I am very thankful for all that he has done.

My husband is a wonderful father. He has supported and prayed with me throughout the difficult times after Elisha's death, and has great faith in Elisha's place in heaven. He cares lovingly for our daughter. I'm so grateful that she has such a loving man teaching her to enjoy life and keeping her safe. From cleaning the house for a safe place to play, to cooking healthy meals, he makes sure to support our family in a variety of ways. So many small actions show his devotion to fatherhood, like his loving kisses and hugs our daughter loves, the rides on his shoulders that make her giggle, watching the grocery sales to get her yummy treats, trips to the zoo where she waves to the animals, and playing catch with her so much that she's sure to be a skilled sports player.

Along with learning to play catch, my husband is teaching our daughter many other important skills too. He is showing her an appreciation for a variety of music, from Disney to Weird Al, and encouraging her beginning interest in piano playing (read, hitting piano keys). He helped her learn her colors, though of course they have more practicing to do. He has taught her to hold hands walking across the street, and to sit down in chairs so she doesn't fall out. As she grows I can't wait to see what else she'll learn from her daddy.

Fatherhood doesn't start at birth, but rather conception. Just as when I was pregnant before, my dear husband has been a wonderful support as our newest baby grows in my womb. He sacrifices his time if I need him and his nose to clean the litter boxes, even though he was always a dog person. I love the excitement in his eyes when I talk about how big Baby is now, or tell him I felt a tiny kick. I need his confidence and support, his faith that everything will be fine to override my anxieties. I am so thankful that our children will have such a great dad to show them what is important, how to have fun, and what great faith looks like.

 Just as a father must nourish, instruct, challenge, correct, forgive, listen and sustain his children, so must a priest do so for his spiritual children. The priest must especially meet the spiritual needs of those entrusted to his care, providing them with the nourishment of our Lord through the sacraments. He must preach the Gospel with fervor and conviction in accord with the mind of the Church, challenging all to continue on that path of conversion which leads to holiness. He must correct those who have erred, but with mercy and compassion. In the same spirit as the father with his prodigal son, the priest must reconcile sinners who have gone astray but seek a way back to God. As a father listens to his child, so must a priest listen to his spiritual children, providing counsel and consolation. A priest must also be mindful of the “physical” needs of his flock — food, housing, clothing and education. (source)
The above words are a beautiful picture of the reason I want to think of all priests this Father's Day. I don't remember ever meeting the priest who baptized me, but he was a father to me, giving me the sacrament that began pouring graces into my life and probably made me cry.  I also can't remember the priest I was given Confirmation from, but I remember that priest was an important part of a joyful day. Since then I've heard dozens of priests give wise homilies at mass, instructing and challenging me on my journey. At those same mass services I saw them perform the miracle of the Eucharist, and give it as spiritual nourishment. My favorite is Reconciliation, my one on one time with a priest who washes away my sin in the person of Jesus, and then often give me some of their wise advice to help me amend my life.

I've heard people joke that a priest only works one day a week. In reality they do so much more, and I am thankful for the work they do for the church. They do daily mass, visit the sick, visit the homes of their parishioners, hours in the confessional, tireless prayer, marriage counseling and weddings, funerals, comforting those who are grieving, and many more things that I don't even know about. I've heard them say they try to go on vacation, but are called just before they leave to preform some service for one of their flock. Priests may be celibate, but they have more children than any natural father. And they work hard to show Jesus's love to every one.

There are so many more fathers who I am thankful for. For my father-in-law who raised my dear husband and taught him what it is to be a dad. For my grandfathers-in-law who are both such very wise men with beautiful families. For my grandfathers, who I lost the chance to get to know but still value and love the impact they had on my family. For all these men I'm especially thankful for, that they step up to show the world what it means to be a father. And I thank God my Father for bringing these men into the world, and into my life.

In the name above all name above all names, Jesus Christ, I humbly and reverently ask that You strengthen and guide dads to sacrificially serve and lead their children with integrity. Let their lives as fathers, oh Lord, be a clear reference point for their children of what quality manhood looks like – providing love, acceptance, security, provision, supervision and a positive vision of their lives. Help fathers to grow and imitate the focus, faithfulness and love of Christ, modeling what it is to do the right things, the right way, for the right reasons.
Thank you dear Lord for the gift of fathers who show Your love to their children. Amen (modified from source)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Voting Catholic?

I've heard many Catholics around me who say, "I'm not voting this year, there are no good candidates to choose from," or, "There is no point to voting," or similar statements. Those were the things that I said not so long ago too. But did you know that we Catholics have a moral obligation to vote? The Catechism of the Catholic Church says so! I didn't know that, until I told my grandfather-in-law that I was going to vote for someone not running for president. Because I was fed up with the people who looked like they were going to be running. But my wise grandfather told me that I have an obligation to vote. He told me even if both candidates have morally unacceptable positions, I must vote in a way that would limit the harm that will be done. Another way of saying choose the lesser of two evils, though he didn't want to say that any candidate is evil and neither do I. What he didn't tell me is that the Catechism says the same thing about the moral obligation, and the voters guide for serious Catholics that I have since read says the same thing about voting even if both sides have negative positions. What I learned from my wise grandfather I can share with you through links and the wonderful internet.

So now I realize I need to vote, but how to decide? So much political lying and hard to understand legal verbiage. I started with the voters guide that I linked in the above paragraph, because it has an awesome title that sounds like what I needed and because it was produced by Catholic Answers, an apostolate that I love for their clear and correct answers to everything Catholic. The guide lists five non-negotiable issues. These seem obvious to me, yet people very close to me have said, after voting for a candidate in support of abortion, "Well they're for unions, and I'm in a union," in more or less those words. But step back and look at the value judgement here. By voting for a candidate who supports both abortion and unions, and attempting to get the good for unions, the person has voted for someone who will work hard to make sure that every day babies loose their lives, and are torn from the one place in the world that should be safest for them, their mother's womb. Without assurance of the right to be born, what are workers rights next to that fundamental right to life? Saint Pope John Paul II stated this idea wonderfully in  Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici section 38:
 Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.
This is not saying it is a poor choice to vote for unions, or whatever issue is important to an individual. It just means that first and for most the non-negotiable issues must voted against. Someone who's already been born, and is in a union, might think it is better to vote for the union regardless of any non-negotiable issues, because it's going to have a more immediate impact on their life, and the bad won't harm them. This is not a good Catholic line of thinking! Even though I understand this, each time I vote I will need to watch out for any selfish reasons that I'm voting that might ignore the common good.

To make it easier, I thought of a situation where there are three candidates. Candidate one is against unions and against abortion both. Candidate two is for unions a bit, and against abortion. Candidate three is the hero of unions and for abortion. Of course in real life there are so many other issues to factor in, but in this simple solution my informed conscience would have to vote for either Candidate one or Candidate two, even if I really love what Candidate three has to say about unions. If I am a union lover I will vote for Candidate two with that information. So I don't have to forget about the issues that I feel are important just because of the non-negotiable issues, even if it feels that way in some situations.

Voting is so complicated, maybe I'll just vote for president and call it good. Nope, that's not a good attitude to have either, though again it's one that I did have not so long ago. The voters guide makes a great point, most people get to a higher position politically after first having held a lower position such as local and state positions. So by voting with a well formed conscience for those at a local level, there will be a better selection of candidates who promote morally sound issues in the coming years. Not voting should only be a course of action if all candidates are not morally ideal and refraining from voting is foreseen to limit the evil. Not voting should not be a result of not thinking certain positions are important enough. In most cases, one candidate will be less likely to vote for immoral legislation, and in this way voting for that candidate will lessen the evil to come.

But what about parties? Catholics are Republican right? Wrong; there is no Catholic party. It is necessary to vote for individual candidates who are the most likely to legislate in a moral way, and this can mean voting for candidates in any party, and voting for more than one party. Even a candidate claiming to be Catholic may not agree with all the teachings of the church, so it is important to look at what issues they support, and what their voting history has been, rather than the party and religious labels they place upon themselves. This doesn't mean that someone can do all the homework for me and just point me who to vote Catholic for either. Unfortunately, since that appeals to me in my confusion and reluctance to do my homework. There are many issues that are up to each person to decide on, because the church allows voting either way on many issues. There are also issues, such as helping the poor, that a well formed conscience will support, and yet there are many ways to go about doing so, and each candidate's plan to help is a legitimate point to vote for.

So now I know a general rule to apply to my voting. I understand why it is important to always vote in almost every situation, and why it is important to vote informed. I'm still very confused on the types of elections, how to find out when minor voting happens, and all the legal language. I still don't know the specific candidates and need to learn their positions. But with this voters guide as a solid background to aid me in my moral obligation to vote, I should do just fine as I further my research.

Note: I was not asked to write about the voter's guide and receive no compensation of any sort for doing so. Everything written here is my honest opinion and written strictly because I felt after reading it that the voter's guide should be shared, so I try to do my part now.