Human Interest, Inspiration, Reflection, Revelations, The Children

Epically Unfun

Very much like the title says, I have been told I am “epically unfun” by my three teens. When I remind them that the ONLY time I get cross with them is 1. When they do not do what they’re asked, 2. When they lie and tell me they did what was asked, 3. Go out of their way to complain or whine about what they have to do, and finally 4. Throw an attitude and make what’s asked of them torture for those around.  I explain that if they were pleasant with the knowledge that they have been given so much despite what they’ve lost; they should learn at their age that reciprocation is part of the deal.

What surprises me at every turn is how fundamentally wrong I am with the expectations. I expect kids to be decent little happy beings?  My bad!  Kids are great when you’re doting on them, giving them things, telling them how much you love them, but speak of disappointment and they turn into the little devils they are with all the eye rolling of a teenage queen and the lip speak of satan himself.

The thing is that in my head I think, “Well, they will understand if I just explain it to them.” You know what that brings? More opportunity for them to use my words against me, to manipulate an outcome they would rather have, and ultimately I still end up being the bad guy. I wonder, is it this hard for all parents?

Some people will “hate” on the truth that kids are not always the angelic creatures that they show on TV.  Kids are sometimes filled with contempt for their parents.  Kids who have lost parents like mine have conjure even more sympathy than normal.  If you set them in line parents want to tell you, “Well, they’ve lost their parents.” As though you don’t already know.  Rules have to be followed, restrictions and boundaries are part of life and ultimately building character isn’t easy.  Let’s face it we all wish we could have ice cream parties and cake.  At some point the daily list of homework, chores, and simply being respectful is going to come up.

I have to remind myself that I have been here before. I’ve raised two amazing adult children.  Both independent and capable of achieving great success.  They’re fine, despite I always felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants.  These kids will be too. Not because I’m a great drill sergeant, but because I love them.  My boundaries are to tell them they have restrictions they shouldn’t cross in life.  My rules are to teach them independence. My firmness comes from the fact that I know that unless they are successful in being in a harsh world when they’re of age, they won’t be happy.  It’s in love that I commit to teaching them there is a way to accomplish goals, and then there is just being lazy. You cannot do both.

Sadly, I still sit and wonder how I can say something and it be turned into something completely different from it’s intent. I sigh, heavily sometimes. I wonder if anything I do will enhance any part of who they are to become.  I wonder if they love me in some small way or if they even know the harshness of the circumstances we find ourselves in.  What do they really think? How do they feel?

I have to do what I think is best and hope that flying by the seat of my very wildly inappropriate pants won’t cause harm or foul to these precious souls I love with every fiber of my being. I pray that if I can sometimes get myself out of the way, they might actually learn the lessons they need to, and hopefully one day find happiness of their own. That’s what I think about all the time.

Inspiration

Random Act of Kindness

Have you ever sat down in tears, and thought, “I feel so blessed!”  Well, today that was me.  For a moment there were no words. No strife, no anger, no pain, no concern, and no worry.  There was only immense gratefulness.  A moment of humility unlike any other I’ve ever felt. I have always been a hopeful person, but I have never maintained a level of faith in another human being. From time to time they disappoint me. Some leave me devastated in their selfish wake. Today, when kindness brought me to the point of tears, I sat down and let them fall. All I felt was the love from the people who show me kindness.

It was then that I replayed the past year over in my head. A few incredible women popped out and as my tears fell, my heart warmed.  If I have ever lost faith in kindness, that would be all but proven lately that more people are kind than they are not.  For this girl, who has lived through the worst things imaginable; believing in the kindness of others has been my challenge.  I’ve remained transparent even in the wake of pain that followed; all with the belief that is what God has called me to do.  Believing in my own faith that if I did the right thing time and time again, despite that the outcome has not always matched in justice; things would work out in the end. Not that my choices have anything to do with other’s kindness, or that any of this is my doing; it’s just that it lend credibility to the astounding sense of overwhelming love I felt and why.

A woman named Kim Whiting organized several families to help us with Christmas this year.  Well, with grandma’s and aunts, and uncles, and extended family here in Dallas; I just didn’t know how I was going to be able to do Christmas.  The three new kids’ and both of mine in NOLA in college, meant for a difficult budget.  Jennifer, the mom of the three kids sick, and money running out due to in home 24/7 care so she doesn’t have to be at a senior facility and you have one stressed out Rebecca.  Kim came to the rescue and sent a lovely family to us bearing a ton of Christmas gifts for the kids.  They’re a lifesaver!  Sent from God above!  Thank you Kim for reaching out to your network to help us! You have a huge loving heart.

That’s when it reminded me of a wonderful woman named Lynn Ellis who organized food deliveries when I was so overwhelmed with new after school activities and couldn’t afford the dinners or time to cook my own.  It takes everything I have to put my pride aside and accept help. I usually the one who gives it. I was so humbled by Lynn’s generosity though and found her willingness to support Jennifer’s family and my efforts inspiring. She listed the family on a website that organized a community of wonderful moms who brought amazing dinners.  I cannot express in enough words how incredibly helpful she’s been to my family and how profoundly proud I am to know her.  Thank you Lynn for giving us such a precious gift of life; food. Your grace inspires me.

Kim Whitehead heard that we were in desperate need of school clothes and rallied together all the grade and middle school parents who donated an entire wardrobe for all three kids.  She’s a precious inspiration who continues to awe and shock me with how much she is able to accomplish. C.E.O.’s should take notice!  Her heart of gold helped me at a time when again I was overwhelmed with medical costs and strategic planning of my own.  I cannot thank you enough for adding me to your already extensive to do list, just to bless this family with your kindness. You are truly inspirational.

Shannon Quick and Gina McCoy who are amazing women, helped Jennifer clean and organize her home this past year. They packed, and served whenever called.  They love her with unconditional non judgement truthfulness and for that I am profoundly grateful. I love you ladies, and I treasure your help.

The Moms of Plano and the Moms of Murphy who continue to support Jen. Special Delivery where Dwight used to work who provide the insurance so she can continue treatment, The Karate Place where Dwight used to take the kids who continue to raise money each year. Those funds go directly to her medical and daily living expenses. Every dollar has been used to keep this family together.  We’re so thankful that you rallied around this family. Thank you for being so incredible selfless and kind.

To my girlfriends Gail Marks, Dawn Smith, Mary Jarcy, Leanna Cannon, Debbie Smith, my daughter Elizabeth and the girls from social media who are too many to list who support me through Facebook; I get so much from you. You listen to me rant and keep the grace I know you have.  Thank you for being there for me.

I wish I could thank each one of the GOFUNDME people who support Jen and her family this past year. We could NOT have done any of this had it not been for you. I wish I could thank the individuals to brought dinners, or gave gift cards or cash or helped or supported, or drove, or listened when it was all too overwhelming for me.  How can I possibly tell you that if it weren’t for you this past year, I don’t know what I would have done? Thank you everyone for the smaller donation to the biggest. Your kindness continues to raise this family up.

Now you know why it all just hit me and I couldn’t stand.  I felt God today. I feel him more lately than I have ever felt him.  I feel so humbled, so thankful, so incredibly inspired to be the best human being I can be because of these amazing women. I want to say that I am truly thankful for you. I am honored that you wanted to help, and I treasure you more than rubies and gold.  You are everything this world needs. I wish everyone knew how incredibly wonderful each and every one of you are; from the woman who brought me food, to the girl who cleaned the house, to the leaders who rallied a community to support us. You are everything a woman should be, and all that I hope one day a woman says about me.  Thank you, from the bottom of my warmest humbled heart for your selfless acts of kindness. I truly mean it when I say that I pray generously that God blesses you in the very same kind manner that you have blessed this family.  Thank you for being the light of God and shining that light where there was darkness and now there is hope and faith.  Merry Christmas!

Inspiration

Be a Woman’s Best Friend

What makes a woman so unbelievably anxious around other women? What makes one woman leer at another as though they’ve stepped out of civilization and into some third world wasteland where they must fight to survive? Why are women so competitive?

If you put an average woman in a room filled with woman we don’t know and sit back to watch. The fireworks are about to spark. No one can read her mind…but if we could? What exactly would she be thinking? (There are stereotypes for a reason.) I am discussing generalizations and not specific circumstances. I’m going to try and identify for you what it’s like to feel like the wallflower, the outsider, and the shunned. Maybe the next time the body language of the woman you’re looking at seems a little off you will know that she’s probably in the precise scenario I’m about to portray for you.

In my experience there are several outcomes of conclusion that women are. A woman might be the type who judges based on choices of attire weighing heavily their ability to care for themselves financially. Another might look at the body language and find some of the behaviors offensive. Some look at a woman and instantly think of something harsh. They don’t say it but it’s written all over their face just as though they’ve eaten something horrible. They cannot hide their thoughts.

One woman might look at another and see only a loving creature. I promise you that this type of woman is rare. I consider myself honored to know many of this type of woman. In fact, I try and surround my life with them. If you know her…please understand how blessed you truly are!

Most of the reactions from woman to woman that I have seen are fraught with tight pursed lips of judgment waiting for that other woman who is speaking to show any sign of weakness. Then and only then can the judger feel as though she has elevated herself and she can feel superior. This deduction is self-evident and what I find is the most pronounced goal for many women. It’s the one endeavor that gives the judging-woman in question absolute acceptance without the benefit of giving it. It’s something I perceive everywhere and an attitude that I toil with every single day.

One little girl hides in the closet because mommy’s been drinking and she’s afraid she’ll be beaten again. There’s a little girl who sat on her bed and cried because daddy never came home. There’s a little girl who wants to earn her place in her family and diligently fights for respect. There’s a little girl who hides in the back of a classroom, because her intense shyness causes her to alienate herself from other children. There’s a teenager who is so modest that the simple attention from a boy causes her cheeks to flourish red. She could be that awkward skinny girl with no shape that never got asked to the Prom or the braces that she had to wear when she should have been in her dating years. Consider a fearful young woman unable to care for herself when she leaves home. There’s a girl who’s been rejected by the worst kind of man who she allowed to bruise her heart. There’s a woman who just lost a position to another woman with less skills. There’s a woman who got married and thought it was forever but found out it wasn’t. There’s that woman who walks into a bar and everyone notices but no one notices that she looks that great because she’s empty inside. There’s a woman struggling with her weight and one who cannot gain weight. There are women who have lost fortunes and women who have fortunes who lose themselves. There are women who struggle to stay positive and women who are positive despite their struggles. There are those who do not understand transparency because their fear of being hurt, and women who hurt because no one sees them. There’s sickness and pain and loss and grief that a woman cannot escape because all wrapped up in one tight bow is an element that if you spend any time on this planet you will be all these women.

I have been all these women. I have been beaten and tortured and loved and sick and healthy and big and small and happy and filled with despair. I have not been every one of these women at the exact same time. Life changes and with all those changes is the human condition of hope that in the next day something incredibly magical will happen. Even when times are not bad, that hope that joy is just around the horizon keeps most women moving toward whatever goal that they’re currently undertaking. This movement is measurable; it is without a doubt worthy and should absolutely be praised by other women. It takes insurmountable courage to want something and act upon it. The choice for some to enter the workforce every single day is tantamount to exacting that courage to face whatever insecurities and fears she has. While it may seem easy for some, the realization is that we as women all know that judgment and condemnation await us at some point throughout the day and that sword of injustice will probably come from a woman.

Why is it that American’s had such a hard time with Sarah Palin? Its prime example that a woman can make errors but she will expect any other woman who stands against the imperfect society that man made to be flawless. Women who choose a position of authority require a further element of commitment to your courage. You must invoke a thick skin and be tolerant of those who will judge you if you falter one moment. Leadership for a man is much easier because men realize the imperfection of each other. Leadership of a woman from a woman is so much more harshly judged. Why is that?

Again, I have an amazing boss. She’s a woman. I have amazing co-workers who are women. I have an amazing daughter. I have an amazing sister and maybe I’m just blessed, but I have a whole bunch of amazing women that I call my friends. I love them without judgment or condition and remind them of that when they begin to divulge what they think are my faults. I don’t judge. I won’t do it. I won’t for one minute begin to imagine that I don’t live in a house with glass walls, ceilings and tile or for that matter, one moment that glass wouldn’t break if I threw a stone. I’ve been every woman, and I am here to tell you that unless we all begin to realize that each of us are not the enemy we will truly begin to see each other with the love and consideration let alone tolerance that each of us should be entitled to. Before you judge today or come to that conclusion in your mind based on what you know…pause. Rethink where she is, in perspective of where you are and be a little nicer, more tolerant and look at her through the eyes of our Lord as he loves you.