Wednesday, June 7, 2023

If you do not defend the freedom for all, then who will defend yours?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
June 7, 2023

I try to stay out of politics as much as possible because, frankly, it is too divisive. Everyone thinks their opinion is the only right one. One of the biggest reasons why topics of religion and politics are banned from family get-togethers. Anyway, I was listening to Mike Pence make his speech about running for president again. It was when I woke up from a nap and thought I was still dreaming when he spoke about protecting religious freedom. I kept listening as the acid started to climb into my throat. He spoke about how parents' rights to decide what is right for their family. He spoke about protecting life. What he didn't speak about was how people like him have been trying to remove those rights from people that decided in ways he didn't like.

That's what's been happening for far too long and it is repulsive in this country established to protect the rights of all her people. Over and over again they claim their rights are being taken away from them, when in fact it is the other way around. They want the right to remove your freedoms, as well as mine. Remove books they don't like from the library and schools. Remove true history because they don't like what it is comprised of. Remove the rights of all people to live their lives as they see fit simply because they don't approve of how they choose to live them.

They claim the "Christian" moral high ground while other Christian denominations are sickened by what they demand as if no other group exists. How does this keep happening?

It happens because too many loud voices are heard while the rest of us, the majority of us, suffer in the shadows as if our cries are silenced. Does the media know we even exist? Where are the interviews with rational humans wanting to live our own lives? Where are they when we seek to protect the rights of all people, no matter if we like their choices or not, because we want our rights protected equally?

If you want to know what we're heading into if we don't speak up and stand up, look back to the Salem Witchcraft Trials and know that was exactly what happened. One group of religious zealots wanted to control everyone else. They gained so much power persecuting the people they didn't like, that it spiraled out of control. If you want to know how to stop them, then think of how those dark days ended. They ended when good people stood up and said they wouldn't tolerate it anymore.

If you were spiritual but not among the "proper" religious group, then you were a target. That would include people like me and probably you too.

What are you willing to tolerate? If you do not defend the freedom for all, then who will defend yours?

Here are some quotes from PBS
“Most Americans treat each other with kindness and respect – even when we disagree,” he will say. “It’s not too much to ask our leaders to do the same.”

That is what we're asking. Is it too much to ask that leaders do that with people they don't agree with? Respect for gay people is not part of it. Respect for the living when they are on the last of the to-do list. Respect for the born when children are massacred in school isn't on the list. The list of who is not among those they value is longer than the minuscule list of those they approve of. 

“After leading the most pro-life administration in American history, Donald Trump and others in this race are retreating from the cause of the unborn,” Pence will say. “The sanctity of life has been our party’s calling for half a century—long before Donald Trump was ever a part of it. Now he treats it as an inconvenience, even blaming election losses on overturning Roe v. Wade.”

Again, the living are not worthy of protection no matter what age because he also believes that social security and Medicare should be cut after we paid for it. 

Monday, June 5, 2023

13th Minister Of Salem "delivers a satisfying reading experience"

"Costos once again demonstrates her ability to deliver a satisfying reading experience."

Reviewed by Parul Sood for Readers’ Favorite
Review Rating: 4 Stars

Kathie Costos's 13th Minister Of Salem, the third installment in the Ministers Of The Mystery series, immerses readers in a world of supernatural horror, suspense, and dark drama. In this intriguing continuation of the series, we are reunited with Chris, the protagonist whose talents and achievements have garnered attention but, unfortunately, also attracted trouble. Threatened by the lingering cult of the now-defeated Haman Cain, his attempts to marry become overshadowed by constant death threats. To make matters worse, the Master's warning about his impending end-time further adds to the mounting pressure. As Chris's battles escalate, the fame accompanying his books brings unwanted attention and danger. Death threats and an unexpected shooting test his resilience and determination to overcome adversity. The Master Ministers, ever vigilant, stand ready to protect Chris from the forces of darkness that seek to destroy him, highlighting his pivotal role in the ongoing battle between good and evil.

In 13th Minister Of Salem, Kathie Costos skillfully plunges readers into gothic suspense, drama, and chilling thrills. The psychological storyline captivates and resonates deeply as readers witness the realistic damage inflicted upon Chris by his previous adventures and battles. Costos's intimate narrative portrayal effectively conveys Chris's pain, isolation, and the mounting pressure he experiences. Handling the story's darkest elements is expertly executed, evoking a bone-chilling sensation while avoiding gratuitousness. The story is a compelling paranormal thriller that continues to showcase Costos's prowess in crafting an engaging narrative. Fans of the series will find themselves deeply involved in the twists and turns of Chris's journey. With its compelling narrative, intimately portrayed characters, and exploration of challenging beliefs, this paranormal suspense novel is a must-read for fans and enthusiasts of the genre. Costos once again demonstrates her ability to deliver a satisfying reading experience.

When I started writing the series, among the many goals, was to tell a story about what few can imagine. 

It had to tell a horror story since that is how #PTSD begins. One second your life consists of living day to day with the usual problems everyone else has. Then it changes without warning sending you into your own horror story as you struggle with surviving.

It had to be a story about peer support giving hope that healing is possible by someone willing to be an example of what seems impossible.

It had to be a story about the Witch Trials that tells an alternative story focused on what few have considered.

It had to be a story about how to use spiritual gifts. Separating "religious" divisions and focusing on uniting spirituality. 

Most of all, it had to tell the stories of other survivors of the traumas that cause PTSD because too many have been led to believe that it only happens to veterans of war. This is a war that millions find themselves fighting every year. Once we all see how, while the cause may be different, the struggle of survivorship is universal.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Finding hope you can heal PTSD too!

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
June 4, 2023

If you take away nothing else from the following stories about #PTSD and healing, let it be the beginning of your own search to find more hope that you can do it too!

Thriving beyond circumstances and diagnosis; Marshfield woman encourages normalizing mental health

By Emily Davies
Published: Jun. 2, 2023
“When I got ready this morning, I can’t, I can’t tell you. I didn’t know what it was like to live like this, to feel confident, and empowered, and strong, and less afraid. And I think that it’s great. I think everybody should be able to live like this.”
MARSHFIELD, Wis. (WSAW) - Not all wounds are visible; that is the message one woman from Marshfield wants to spread to normalize mental health struggles, in her case post-traumatic stress disorder.

Kristina Howey is the director of product development at Security Health Plan. She is also a mother, a military spouse, and not just a survivor of domestic violence, but a “thriver” as she channels the courage and strength to take care of herself, leaning on resources, to be her best despite her diagnosis.

PTSD is not as visible as a physical injury, but what you may notice is Howey’s service dog, Mava.
read more of Kristina's story here

Uvalde Marine veteran battling PTSD finds healing through physical fitness

Author: Alicia Neaves
June 2, 2023
"What they have access to now, the therapies, anything that they have now for those that are returning, it was completely different back in 2005," said Gonzales. "I don't think [PTSD] was really a part of what you would think about having to deal with coming back."
UVALDE, Texas — A Uvalde veteran found healing from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) through exercise.

Now, he owns a business where he helps others in his hometown turn their life around.

Joe Gonzales is sharing his story with KENS 5 for PTSD Awareness Month. "What they have access to now, the therapies, anything that they have now for those that are returning, it was completely different back in 2005," said Gonzales. "I don't think [PTSD] was really a part of what you would think about having to deal with coming back." read more of Joe's story here 

PTSD Is Not a Character Flaw

Community News
By Brandon Carlson Correspondent

Jun 3, 2023
“A lot of people think PTSD is something that only happens to people who have been in the service,” said Althaus. “It can be from any kind of traumatic event. PTSD is not a character defect; it is a response to trauma.”
Memorial Day has passed and while we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, it is also important to be reminded of those who have served our country and return home with their lives but have a different kind of scar.

According to the National Center for PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem. PTSD can only develop after you go through or see a life-threatening event. It’s normal to have stress reactions to these types of events.

The National Center for PTSD says, having a very intense or long-lasting traumatic event or getting injured during the event can make it more likely that a person will develop PTSD. PTSD is also more common after certain types of traumas, like combat and sexual assault.

According to the National Center for PTSD, what happens after the event is just as important as the event that causes previous traumatic exposure, age, and gender can affect whether or not a person will develop PTSD. What happens after a traumatic event is also important. Stress can make PTSD more likely, while social support can make it less likely.

Gail Althaus, a mental health counselor from Jesup, has 30 of years’ experience with mental health issues such as PTSD.
read more of what Gail has to say here

My Arena visits Montana State Prison to talk about mental health and PTSD 

By: Claire Peterson 
Jun 02, 2023
“After researching it, and speaking with him, it was like, oh, this is a heck of an opportunity to show our staff that we care, that it's okay. We could tear down that stigma that seeing a counselor is a bad thing. It's not,” Salmonsen says.
DEAR LODGE — First responders can experience traumatic events on a daily basis, which is why one man has made it his mission to spread awareness. Travis Gribble’s organization, My Arena, is gaining steam speaking to law enforcement and first responder agencies across the state. He visited the Montana State Prison (MSP) on Wednesday, May 31, 2023, to talk about PTSD symptoms and prevention with the employees there. Gribble was invited by the warden of the prison, Jim Salmonsen, after an employee of the Critical Incident Stress Management Team recommended My Arena. read more of Travis's story here

Thursday, June 1, 2023

The Scribe Of Salem "No holds barred story of faith"

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
June 1, 2023

The Scribe Of Salem didn't fit in with what many people wanted to read as a "Christian" book. That was fine with me since I didn't write it for that audience. I wrote it so that people would see the beauty and spiritual power in scriptures they would never hear in church. The following reviewer called it Christian fiction. I'm ok with that because the reviewer got the rest of the message loud and clear.
Book Review
Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

The Scribe of Salem: Ministers Of The Mystery by Kathie Costos is a Christian fiction novel that revolves around Chris Papadopoulos, a former war reporter. In Salem, Massachusetts, Chris reunites with his friend Bill Gibson and learns of the death of Bill's sister Brenda. Chris joins his military comrades to honor their fallen comrade, discovering an intriguing woman named Mandy. Chris embarks on a transformative journey, seeking help from Mandy to regain control of his life. Inspired by their encounters and encouraged by friends, Chris finds the strength to write a book that becomes a bestseller, offering solace during the trying times of a pandemic. Chris finds unexpected fame in a series of events that catapult him into public recognition, but when Chris faces a harrowing blackmail attempt, both how strong his faith in God is and how solid his group of friends is are tested to their fullest.

The parallels between the persecution of witches and the persecution of open Christians set the foundational theme in The Scribe of Salem by Kathy Costos. The novel is a no-holds-barred story of faith and will resonate well with readers who enjoy Christian fiction in a way where scripture and conversational sermons run through almost every scene, as opposed to the more nuanced approach that is found in most fiction within the same genre. Costos' style might not be as elegant, but it certainly does get the message across. I liked the contemporary setting and the way the characters are confronted with incidents surrounding COVID-19 protocols. As an observer, these feel really authentic and do well in exploring the group's unique contributions in the fight against chaos and darkness, to which the pandemic adds an additional layer, and realizing the profound impact of their connections and gifts. The full circle that the ending brings is satisfying in that there is closure; a relief given the possibility of a book in a series ending with a cliffhanger. Recommended.
"No holds barred story of faith," and that is what many people with #PTSD need more than ever. Most of the people I helped over the last 40 years, felt the "church" had no place for them. They believed that God wanted nothing to do with them, and even worse, God caused their suffering.

What I found most troubling was well-intentioned people saying, "God only gives us what we can handle." As if that would help them turn to God for help to heal after surviving! Seriously, how would anyone find comfort in that? The truth is, He gives us what we need to get through everything and wasn't the one causing the harm done to us. The other guy did that.

No wonder almost all of them said they were spiritual but not religious. They were offended by what they saw in the world committed by the same people going to church on Sunday, hearing sermons about what Jesus actually taught about how to treat others, and then spending the rest of the time condemning and judging others. Right now there is another thing going on that reminded me of the Salem Witchcraft Trials when one group of Christians, the Puritans, decided to use the power of their faith to attack people they hated.
"Many people in Puritanical Salem Massachusetts died because they were different, and the Puritans were afraid they could not control them easily. Many people in Puritanical Salem did not conform to the societal beliefs and ended up losing their lives as a result. There were many rules and if citizens did not follow all of those rules, they were cast out. The religion of the Puritans was very strict and “the Puritan community rewarded conformity-you were expected to fit in and do what everybody else did” (Mills 15). The Puritans desire for conformity was so strong that they wanted to get rid of anyone that was different. The trials were an excuse for the people of Salem to expunge of all those people who were different. Witches were thought to be able to harm people and therefore were feared greatly." (The Salem Witch Trials)
For the rest of us, all too often, we feel as if we're out here all alone. We hear that we need mental health therapy to heal from surviving whatever caused PTSD. All is well and good when we can get an appointment to see one. Then we hear that we need to add spiritual healing since the part of our brain occupied by the PTSD demon wants to claim more territory within the emotional part of it. Many believe that is where your soul lives.

So how do you figure out what or who can help you heal spiritually? Forget about what you think you know about the need to fit in with everyone else who chooses to go to a church or any other religious building. God doesn't live there and if you know anything about Jesus, He taught the people to pray directly to God, The Father in spirit.

While you can be a religious person and also spiritual, you can be a spiritual person without religion. Just ask anyone recovering from addiction to alcohol and finding spiritual support from A.A. where no one is required to believe in God or hold a certain faith, and are fully allowed to reach out to a higher power.
A.A.’s Twelve Steps are a set of spiritual principles. When practiced as a way of life, they can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to recover from alcoholism.

The Twelve Traditions apply to A.A. as a whole. They outline how A.A. maintains its unity and relates itself to the world around it.

The book Alcoholics Anonymous describes the A.A. program of recovery. It also contains stories written by the co-founders and stories from a wide range of members who have found recovery in A.A.
It works because it reminds people they are not alone and they can find hope by hearing how others, not only recovered but dedicated their time helping others recover too. 

There are battles going on right now with many people trying to enforce what they believe to rule over others. Just as it happened during the Witchcraft Trials. If you're different, they want to make sure you have no power over your own life. It is even worse if you happen to be a Christian and are also a witch. The word "witch" has different meanings to different people. They want to help other people but are condemned for "practicing witchcraft" even though that is exactly what happened throughout the Bible.

Can you be a spiritual person connected to Christianity and still be a witch? According to many, the answer is no. Ironically, the point is, being religious is not required to believe or to act as moral mortals. Using spiritual gifts you were born with does not make you evil, as some "religious" people claim. As a matter of fact, the Disciples and Apostles, and even Jesus, were accused of using sorcery. Jesus was accused of being in league with Satan.
24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “This fellow doth not cast out devils, except by Beelzebub, the prince of devils.”
Why? Because the religion He was born into feared Him and wanted Him dead. After all, He healed people and did not ask them to pay money, repent their sins, or do anything other than believe He could because God sent Him. He didn't ask them to convert and renounce their gods. That was apparent when He healed the servant of the Roman Centurion. All He asked was first they believed it could be done and a few times He told them to go and sin no more.

The Pharisees were charging money for everything they did. They made the rules and said the rules were from God. An easy thing to claim since no one could prove they heard the exact words from God. Many Christians point to scripture condemning witchcraft, yet ignore how those doing harm were the ones worthy of condemnation but those doing good were miracle workers. This is from a Christian site Crosswalk
What Exactly Is Witchcraft?
While this word may have different meanings in different cultures, at its core witchcraft is the attempt to manipulate the environment, circumstances, or situations through mystical or spiritual means. In Bible times this was done using what was often called mediums or spiritists. Within this definition, there are two words I want you to focus on regarding witchcraft. Manipulation – This is all about influence, usually in an unfair manner.

Spiritual means – When you call on assistance that steps outside of your realm of ability. In the case of spiritists and mediums, this is demonic assistance.

And yet when you consider those delivering miracles, using the gifts of the spirit, were accused of being among those they condemn.

Gifts of the Holy Spirit
12 Brothers and sisters, I want you to know about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. 2 You know that at one time you were unbelievers. You were somehow drawn away to worship statues of gods that couldn’t even speak. 3 So I want you to know that no one who is speaking with the help of God’s Spirit says, “May Jesus be cursed.” And without the help of the Holy Spirit, no one can say, “Jesus is Lord.”

4 There are different kinds of gifts. But they are all given to believers by the same Spirit. 5 There are different ways to serve. But they all come from the same Lord. 6 There are different ways the Spirit works. But the same God is working in all these ways and in all people.

7 The Holy Spirit is given to each of us in a special way. That is for the good of all. 8 To some people the Spirit gives a message of wisdom. To others, the same Spirit gives a message of knowledge. 9 To others the same Spirit gives faith. To others that one Spirit gives gifts of healing. 10 To others he gives the power to do miracles. To others, he gives the ability to prophesy. To others, he gives the ability to tell the spirits apart. To others he gives the ability to speak in different kinds of languages they had not known before. And to still others he gives the ability to explain what was said in those languages. 11 All the gifts are produced by one and the same Spirit. He gives gifts to each person, just as he decides.
It is man-made rules that attempt to overrule God or your Higher Power. It is from the minds of men that the gifts of your spirit, the gifts you were born to use are being subjected to judgment. It would be worse to say no to God so you can fit in with the same people sharing the mentality of the Puritans and the really rotten thing is, it is worse for the world because you're not sharing your gifts to help them. Live your life as if you can be part of a miracle to others and feed the power within you to live happier.

You are needed more than ever because what happened to innocent people during the witchcraft trials is beginning to be repeated.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Connecticut formally pardons men and women charged with witchcraft

Centuries after they were convicted, Connecticut formally pardons men and women charged with witchcraft

By Zoe Sottile
May 29, 2023

Hundreds of years after a group of men and women were tried and convicted of witchcraft, Connecticut lawmakers have formally exonerated them for their “crimes.”

SALEM, MA - SEPTEMBER 26: Visitors walk through the Salem Witch Memorial in Salem, MA on Sep. 26, 2019. The legacy of the Salem witch trials is complicated. During October, tourists flock to the North Shore city from around the world to celebrate the contemporary idea of witchcraft tied to Halloween. Others like author, historian, and Salem State University interim dean and professor Emerson Tad Baker, focus on the rush to judgment and the innocent lives and families that were destroyed by the 1692 trials.
(Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images) read more here
The last Salem witch has been exonerated, thanks to an eighth-grade teacher and her students The Senate approved the resolution Thursday, according to a news release from Sen. Saud Anwar, who introduced the bill. The resolution passed with a 33-1-2 vote, the release said.

Anwar’s office said, “the resolution seeks to bring relief to the descendants of those who were maligned and acknowledge that they were treated wrongly.”

“We cannot go back in time and prevent the banishment, tarnishing or execution of the innocent women and men who were accused of witchcraft, but we can acknowledge the wronghoods they faced and the pain they felt, pain still recognized by their survivors today,” said Anwar. “Today, the Senate took an important step to own our state’s history and provide relief to the memories of the deceased and their descendants who still struggle with their ancestors’ wrongful treatment.”

The text of the resolution stipulates “the General Assembly recognizes that residents of colonial Connecticut were falsely accused of practicing witchcraft in the seventeenth century and that such persons were tried, convicted and sometimes sentenced to death for such offense, and declares that, although these accusations, prosecutions, trials and executions cannot be undone or changed, no disgrace or cause for distress should attach to the heirs of those persons.
Charles Button, a professor of geography at Central Connecticut State University, also testified for the resolution.

He said “this resolution would bring peace and closure” to his own family, which includes both perpetrators and victims of the witch panic.
read more of this here
Alice Young, 1647 Windsor Hanged 

Mary Johnson 1648 Wethersfield Pressured into a confession and probably executed 

John and Joan Carrington 1651 Wethersfield Guilty, executed 

Goodwife Bassett 1651 Fairfield Convicted and hung 

Goodwife Knapp 1653 Fairfield Convicted and hung 

Lydia Gilbert 1654 Windsor Probably executed 

Rebecca Greensmith 1662 Hartford Hanged 

Nathanial Greensmith 1662 Hartford Hanged 

Mary Sanford 1662 Hartford Probably hanged 

Mary Barnes 1662-3 Farmington Hanged

When you think about all the lives of the people being accused, it is easy to understand how the families of those who were executed would never be the same. It is also easy to understand how those who survived the imprisonment and torture would be tormented by all they were subjected to. What is not so easy to understand is, how others were caused to fear they would have been the next one unless you have faced the same events at the time.

Whenever you are trying to understand what they went through, consider how many times in your own life you have been falsely accused of something because someone else did not like you, or worse, hated you for no other reason than they targeted you.

That was what happened during the witch trials across the world when some hid behind their religious beliefs to inflict what they claimed as the punishment of the damned. Leaders used their power to cause the people to live in fear while committing no crimes. If they did not obey and follow in joining in supporting punishment, they knew they could be the next one it happened to.

Think about the courage it took for the brave to step up and speak out against this ruthless abuse of power.  Often I wonder where the courageous people are today.  The 1st Amendment was written to assure this never happened again. It established that all people would be free to believe and worship as they saw fit. To ban laws from being written under the guise of someone's religious beliefs because everyone was and is supposed to have the exact same freedom. 

We keep hearing what some politicians claim is their belief when defending why they do what they do, yet they were not elected to rule over others but to serve others. So why is it that we allow them to get away with it?

We allow them to right rules over what a minority of the people push for in order to control the lives of others no matter what they choose for themselves. It is almost as if they use the word "Christian" and all other Christians assume they are acting as a "true" believer. 

Banning books, judging what others do, banning their freedom, forcing school prayer, and making all children follow along with what is being said, at the same time these same people do absolutely nothing to protect the lives of those same children in school from being slaughtered before the end of the day school bell rings.

Until the brave stand up for what is right for everyone, no matter if you agree with it or not, protecting your own rights. Either we have equal rights or no one does. Isn't it time we ensure those elected do what is best for the whole country and strive to help you live your life under better circumstances? What gave them the right to subvert what the Founding Fathers established? We did with our silence and voted for those who inspire hatred and our worst emotions are given permission to inflict harm.

Take a stand for your own rights by making sure all others have the same freedom you want for yourself. If not, then, what happened will surely happen again.