Monday, December 17, 2012

Gun Problem or Love Problem?

For the past few days, the nation has been reeling from the tragedy in Newtown.
Those faces... those names... play over and over in my mind.
I find myself weeping when I think of the lonely holiday ahead for their families.
And hugging my little ones just a tad bit tighter.

When I drove my girls to school this morning and got out, there were sheriff's deputies in the hallways.  They walked up and down, looking in the classrooms where the littlest scholars sat at their desks.  Parents shared nervous half-smiles as they passed on the sidewalks, and a few moms wiped tears discreetly on their way out the door.  As I was walking to my car, I looked up at the flag flying half-mast, a visual reminder of the horror that took place last Friday morning.

What a scary world we live in.  I'm so glad it is not my home.

I sat Savannah down over the weekend to discuss the tragedy with her.  I explained what had happened in a brief factual manner.  I wanted to be certain that she didn't hear the news from another child on the bus.  I also wanted her to know that I would be honest with her, and she can trust me.  After I explained, she then had the opportunity to ask questions.  Her first question was the same as mine.
"Why would someone hurt little children?"

In some ways, I wish I knew the answer.  In other ways, I hope I never understand.

I've heard much debate about where God was in this situation.  How could a loving God sit back and allow 20 young children to be viciously murdered?  What kind of God is that?  You know, the thing about God is that He isn't a babysitter.  He isn't responsible to sit back and prevent bad things from happening.  That would be nice, of course.  But that isn't how things work.  I believe that God allows free choice.  He doesn't create robots to do His bidding.  And sometimes we as humans make very poor choices.  At that point, I don't believe it is God's job to step in and prevent us from making those decisions.  He allows us to suffer the consequences.  And in giving us free choice, sometimes others get hurt.  Sometimes tragedy occurs.

Savannah then suggested, "Mom, if the man was mad, why didn't he just talk to someone?"

She raised a very good point.  And one that I think is important to address.
Have you ever known someone with mental health issues?
They are typically shunned.  Even more so than those with physical issues.  They are isolated from society... because we do not understand them.  Their inability to function just as we do makes us uncomfortable.  So we steer clear of them, and with our cool popular normal friends we snicker about their strange behavior.  
Which is totally unfair because they are already so uncomfortable and frustrated...and then isolated as well.
Do you know how difficult it is to get medical help for those with mental health issues?
It is like trying to find a redneck who doesn't like sweet tea.

So we basically set up the perfect storm.  A child who is frustrated and overwhelmed with no one to talk to... and deny them most treatment... you know... because mental illness isn't "real."
Now I'm going to say something really provacative.
It really shouldn't surprise us when we have school shootings.

The answer to this issue isn't gun control.  
It isn't about blaming God for turning His back that day.
It isn't about adding metal detectors or homeschooling our kids.

I think it is a love issue.
When Christ came, he didn't come and hang out with the cool kids.
He came for the broken.  The abnormal.  The outcasts.
He came to show them love.
And those who bear the name "Christian" are supposed to be imitators of Christ.
I don't really think that means we hang out with the people who are just like us and politely back away from those who are different or uncomfortable.
I think it means we love unconditionally.  We offer the hope we have within.  
We are the listening ear... even when the ramblings make no sense.
We are the ones who say to society... hey... different is okay.
Its a love issue. 

As a parent, I want to raise a child who befriends the friendless.
But to be that parent, I have to first be that person.

I wonder... when someone like Adam Lanza decides to shoot innocent children... is that decision made in a moment?  Or is it a lifetime of isolation, frustration, and loneliness that culminates in an unforgettable tragedy?  I wonder how many Christ-followers ignored Adam?  How many made fun of him?  How many doctors refused to see the issues?  How many insurance companies denied treatment?

Mental health treatment is a multidimensional issue.  And we can't fix the problems overnight.  But here is what I can do in my own home.  I can create an environment where differences are welcome.  I can encourage my children to be friends to those who aren't friendly.  We can embrace unique qualities in others.  I can be a friend... and teach my children to listen to others.  We can pray for those our family comes into contact with.  We can try to see the world as Jesus did. 
We can start today...
...and I can think of about 20 reasons why we should.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Different Wings

Dream, child, as childhood wants to do.
Dream all this night will allow.

Dream, child.  Dream with an angel's view.
Out there safe in your clouds.

Wait for me now.  I will be there for you.
No matter what tomorrow may bring.

This I will vow.  I will be there for this child.
This child with different wings.

Dream, child.  Stars have been rumored to see dreams within newborn eyes.
And in their arms I believe they do keep safe until you arise.

Wait for me now.

I will be there for you.

No matter what tomorrow may bring.

This I will vow.

I will be there for this child with different wings.

Thank you to Floyd Ward School of Dance, Carie, Tara, and friends for another great season of dance for the Angels from Heaven!  Brookie loves being a ballerina!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Overheard at My House...

I have this hilarious kid.  She cracks. me. up. 

So I thought I'd share the laughter with you.  Because if your week was anything like mine, you need a little laughter. Or coffee.  Or laughter AND coffee.  Stat!

Overheard at my house...

"Mom, roll down the window.  I need to toot!"  

Me:  "Savannah, do you toot at school?"
Savannah:  "Well of course.  But nobody knows its me because when I toot, I just look around and say Who tooted?!  and they never know."  

"Sometimes when I don't see a relative for a long time, I think they died." 

Savannah:  "Mom, when you have another baby, it can sit in the middle."
Me:  "Who says I'm having another baby?  Do I need another one?"
Savannah:  "Only if you want one.  Duh."

Savannah:  "Mom!  Tell Santa that I need a gun for Christmas."
Me:  "Why do you need a gun?"
Savannah:  "To hunt.  And to scare off boys.  That's what my dad says they are for.  And if I don't get one, our yard might be full of deers and bears and boys."

Friday, December 7, 2012

You Won't Believe the Difference a Year Makes

You've heard the quotes about time.

"Time heals all wounds." 

"Time is the longest distance between two places." 

"There is no time like the present."

"You may delay, but time will not." 

"There is a time for everything."

Time is a curious thing.  Sometimes it passes agonizingly slow, and other times it seems to fly by before you have a chance to breathe.  There are times when it seems to stand still, and there are times that you wish you could freeze the moment.

I've been more acutely aware of time these past few weeks.  I'm not sure if I'm getting older and nostalgic, or if it is the holiday season, or just lovely hormones.  But there have been several occasions lately where time has seemed to be in the forefront of my mind.  And I've done some pondering.  And here is what I want to say.

You won't believe the difference a year makes.

At the end of the year, we tend to look back while also looking forward.  We think about the things that we have accomplished, and we set new goals for ourselves.  Sometimes we look back with a sigh of relief that a year is over.  Other times we wish that we could stop the clock, or go back to a specific moment.  And most of the time we feel a big combination of the two.

But no matter what, time brings change.

So to the high schooler wishing to grow up faster...
You won't believe the difference a year makes.
Right now you may dread the monotony of the same beige lockers every day, but next year when you stand alone at freshman orientation with your heart pounding in your ears, you'll long for that senior year again.  Go to every school event, cheer your heart out at the Friday night games, laugh with your friends over stupid senior pranks.  You only get to be young and free for a little while.  Enjoy it.  You won't believe the difference a year makes.

To the heartbroken girl...
You won't believe the difference a year makes.
Hurt is acute, but time really does heal.  I don't think it makes it go away, and part of your heart may always feel a pang at certain times, but the gut-tearing awful soul-crushing pain of heartbreak... that will go away.  Just get through a day at a time.  
You won't believe the difference a year makes. 

To the college student who feels like she never leaves the library...
You won't believe the difference a year makes.
You have professors with deadlines and you live off of coffee and spaghettios, and that's okay.  Work hard.  It will pay off.  Before you know it, you'll hear Pomp and Circumstance.  And all of those late nights and early mornings... they'll be worth it.  
You won't believe the difference a year makes.

To the newlywed who is trying to adjust and thinking that you are doing everything wrong...
You won't believe the difference a year makes.
Sure, you didn't know it would be so hard, and you are wondering if its okay.  Of course it is.  Everyone has trouble getting used to spending every second with someone and negotiating the rocky waters of finances and home ownership.  Hang in there.  You're doing fine.
You won't believe the difference a year makes.

To the young mom-to-be who thinks she may not make it through another day if she pukes one more time... you won't believe the difference a year makes.  Sure, even the thought of your favorite food now makes you want to run for the bathroom, but you just wait.  In a year, you'll be holding a cooing infant.  You won't believe the difference a year makes.

To the ones going through crisis...
You won't believe the difference a year makes.
It is SO hard right now, with your finances or health or loved ones.
But time can heal.  And in a year you will look back and think... wow, I've come so far.
You won't believe the difference a year makes.

To the new mother who is panicking that she has no idea what she is doing...
You won't believe the difference a year makes.
A brand new person was placed in your arms and you are expected to know them.  And the long nights and fussy mornings are grueling.  You'll get through it.  You'll adjust.  And on top of all of that, you'll wish for these moments back.  Because they go so fast.  And that new-mom body that you hate?  It'll go away.  You won't believe the difference a year makes.

To the mother of toddlers who wonders if there is life beyond the dirty diapers and cheerios...
You won't believe the difference a year makes.
You'll think those days when you can't manage a shower without being interrupted will never end, and then you'll find yourself at home in a house that is completely silent while your kids are in school... just counting down the minutes until the school bus rounds the corner.
You won't believe the difference a year makes.

So you know what I think?

This year, I'm going to take naps.  I'm going to let the dishes sit, and snuggle when the little girl says, "Mommy watch the movie with me."  I'm not going to sweat the small stuff.  When the house is a wreck and the kids are fighting and I think my life may end... 
I'm going to try to hold tight to this truth...
You won't believe the difference a year makes.

I don't want to get through my life.  I want to live it.  I don't want to spend my days wishing for moments that have passed already.  I want to look back and think... that was great...and I rocked it.  Less stressing, and more smiling.
You won't believe the difference a year makes.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Confessions of a Thick Girl

I have a confession.

I really hate it when women constantly fuss about their weight.

Especially when they are skinny.

I find it kind of ridiculous to pass on the cake on a special occasion when you are a zero.  
For the sake of being skinny.  I'm just sayin'.

I find it downright offensive when said size zero goes on and on about her own weight or figure.  I mean you may as well just stick the fat sign on my forehead... because if you are worried about your size zero frame... I should hide in a tent.  Because I'd have to be dead to be a zero.  Literally. 

When did we get so obsessed that we couldn't kick back and enjoy ourselves every once in a while?
I'm sure a skinny person will argue with me... but has a little cake ever killed anyone?

Here is my thought, kill me if you want to.
But if you've been on a diet for the past year, maybe its time to get off.

All things in moderation.
I'm a fan of self-control.
But not obsession.
Because refusing to eat... ever... isn't moderation either.
There's another name for it... and its crazy.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not knocking exercise or water-drinking.
Those are good things.
But being so hung up on numbers on a scale that you can't enjoy a dinner out without counting calories... 
that is where the crazy comes into play.

While I think we have a responsibility to do our best, to keep our bodies in shape, to not sit on the couch and eat Krispy Kremes every night, I also think that the outside is a reflection of the inside.  And I don't really trust someone that is SO concerned with the outside that they can't have fun.  Or that they prevent others from having fun by constantly talking about weight and weight gain and weight loss and goooood grief!

Here's my philosophy, for what it is worth.  And I have a big booty, so you skinny people I'm sure will take it with a grain of salt.  Drink water, exercise, and eat nutritiously, most of the time.  But when there is fun to be had, skip a few hours of sleep.  Eat cake at parties.  Work hard on your swimsuit body, and then deal with the fact that you aren't a supermodel.  And nobody really expects you to be.  And that's okay.... and nobody wants to hear about it constantly.  Enjoy your only get one.  And I don't know too many old people who say, "Man, I'm so glad I skipped out on all of that cake to earn this body."  Seriously.

I read a quote today that summed up my thoughts pretty well.
"The scale can only give you a numerical reflection of your relationship with gravity.  That's it.  It cannot measure beauty, talent, purpose, life force, possibility, strength, or love."

Perspective.  Its all about perspective.  And the perspective of this girl is that a little fun is okay.  And that size zero isn't everything.  In fact, it might be a whole lot of nothing.  ;)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Six Letter Word

Thanksgiving weekend is one of my favorite weekends of the entire year.  I love to eat... and since that is a holiday where you are supposed to eat... its a good one.  I also love to shop... all night long... and get amazing deals.  I love the rush and the thrill of trying to make it before the doorbusters are gone.  I love eating at the mall food court in the wee hours of the morning.  I like decorating the house and watching rivalry weekend on ESPN.  But this year, something happened on Black Friday that was disturbing to me.

A six letter word.

I went to Sears for their 8pm opening after carefully reviewing the ad and making my list (and checking it twice).  I knew what I wanted and where I needed to go.  The doors opened and it began... one of the most wonderful times of the year.  The shoppers surged in and I broke out in a jog to get to where I wanted to go.

After I got the items I wanted, I was standing in line when I heard it.

The six letter word.

There were two young boys.  They were probably seniors in high school, or possibly college students.  But they were old enough to know better.  One bumped into the other, and they knocked a display, causing things to fall to the floor in the crowded department store.  
Then one looked at the other and said, "Dude, stop being a retard."

In the past, that was me saying that.  I never thought a thing about it really.
And then I had to sit in a doctors office, look at my gorgeous daughter, and hear mental retardation discussed.  I had to listen to probabilities and statistics... best guesses and predictions.  I heard about therapy, IEPs, special education, brain scans, and IQ testing.
I heard something to the effect of...
"At the age of 5, we will do another MRI and IQ testing... and then we will be able to determine the extent of mental retardation, if it exists.  Until then, we work our tails off to reroute those pathways in the brain that have been damaged."

The six letter word.
It is a diagnosis, and yet somehow we have changed it into a degrading insult.
We use it to describe actions that seem unintelligent or inappropriate. 
Ironically enough, that particular use of the word "retard" falls into both of those categories.

Using the "R" word around the special-needs community is like using the "N" word around people of color.
Not your finest moment.  And not at all accurate.
Because people who are diagnosed with mental retardation aren't stupid.
They are different.  They are compassionate, caring, funny, and kind.  They have talents.
They may need extra help, and they may not write the next bestseller or invent the next device.
But they really don't deserve for us to turn their medical diagnosis into a slang term for a lack of intelligence.
Because really... when we do that... it just reflects our own inadequacies.

Please do your best to end the usage of the six letter word.
For the sake of those out there who have been diagnosed, but don't deserve to be disgraced.

Friday, November 9, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things.

 Today I'm thankful for affectionate little girls.
I'm thankful for giggles that come easily.

I'm thankful for spontaneity.
I'm thankful for excitement.
And hilarious phrases.

I'm thankful for drama and dimples.

I'm thankful for a quick mind that learns easily.
I'm thankful for a sweet, cooperative spirit.

I'm thankful that every time Big D works nights, 
I get asked if someone can sleep in my bed.
Because she likes to snuggle.

I'm thankful for big blue eyes that light up.
I'm thankful for expressions and sincerity in storytelling.

 I'm thankful for childlike faith.
I'm thankful for everlasting hope.
I'm thankful for jubilant joy.
And I'm thankful for fierce, protecting love.

I'm mostly thankful for Savannah.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thankful for Progress

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'll be blogging some things I am thankful for.
Today I am thankful for progress.

I'm thankful for one day at a time.
I'm thankful for baby steps.
I'm thankful for first words and silly smiles.

I'm thankful that one year ago this girl had a feeding tube taped to her face and there was talk of a g-tube surgery being scheduled.
And one year later... no tube... graduated from feeding therapy...and look. at. the. belly.

I'm thankful that the sense of humor shines through without words.
I'm thankful for the laughs I get to share with this girl every day.

I'm thankful that at least some of the time we are brace-free.
Even if we do insist on wearing pink shoes every. single. day.

 I'm thankful for the terrible twos.
Because they are very developmentally normal.
And normal is so nice.
And the pout is even kinda cute sometimes.

I'm thankful for fearlessness.
I'm thankful that despite all she has been through, she knows she is safe.
I'm thankful for her brave, tough, strong spirit.

Mostly I'm just thankful for that silly girl.
And her progress.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Bloopers

 How is it that photographing one child isn't too bad, but photographing two children is terribly challenging?  

In the interest of keeping it real, I wanted to share all of my pre-trick-or-treating snapshots.

You should also imagine me threatening that nobody gets any candy if they don't smile and cooperate... if you really want to keep it... really... real.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Ridiculously Rad Runners

 As my sweet Southern friend Jessica would say, 
"I had a wild hair."
I've read before about the Color Me Rad 5K and I've always wanted to run it.
And then it came to a nearby town.
And somehow I was lucky enough to have two of my best buddies agree to do it with me.
And so was born the dream team... the Ridiculously Rad Runners.

And let me just tell you... 
It was the most fun 5K ever.
And if it comes to your town, you should run it.
And did I mention the profit went to the Special Olympics?!


 The race is 3.2 miles, and along the way you get color bombed.  
Colored liquid is sprayed on you and then you are coated in colored powder.
You start out in a white t-shirt, and finish looking like Crayola exploded on you.
And its pretty awesome.

This is what you run through...

 And this is what you look like when its over.
Ridiculously Rad.

I look crazy in this picture.
Because I found out it was my best time ever.
And because I was a little high on fun.

This girl obviously didn't realize we were having our picture taken.
Which is sad because it might've been my favorite picture.
If it wasn't photobombed from the front.

I had a ridiculously rad time.
And to end with another quote from my friend Jessica,
"Now on to training for our next event: Black Friday!"