A Community Mourns

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I woke today, just another day. Tuesday. I headed to Bible study, the chiropractor, took my mom to an appointment and went to the grocery store.  Everything pretty typical.  Just another day.  Yet, it wasn’t just another day.  It was a day that I was super aware of the gift of this day, of this time.

A family in our community lost their son/brother/grandson/nephew. A real tragedy.  A family of 6 became 5 overnight. In an instant, their world changed.  My world didn’t change…or did it? Today I mourned along with my entire hometown.  Everyone I know knows someone in this family & we would like to help, but unfortunately, there is nothing we can do. We are at a loss, but we long to find something we can do. The town can think of little else and as we go about our “normal” day, we know that inside the walls of that home there are tears, hugs, and folks poring over photos of happier times. This family is surrounded by love and I have no doubt that they will survive, but right now they are in pain and the community wishes we could take the pain away.

Not having a better idea, I decided to buy some paper products and drop them off at their home. When I pulled into their driveway, I noticed their garage doors were open. I got out of my car with my packages and walked up to a garage full of drinks, cases of water, paper plates, jugs of juice, etc. I was struck by the overwhelming amount of items that people had been dropping off. I didn’t see a family member and I didn’t need to.  They know that people are heartbroken on their behalf because they would be hurting if it happened to any other family.  They would be the first ones there with gifts and prayers. No words can express our deepest sympathy and paper plates and cases of water can’t either, but maybe the love behind all of them will be felt and ease the burden a tiny bit.

Today was just another day, but as I went through my normal routine, I was aware that there is nothing normal for them.  They will need to figure out their new normal and it will take a long time, but from the looks of it, they will have enough paper plates and love to get them until that time.  Until then we will keep on praying.

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“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”        2 Corinthians 1:3-4

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”         Matthew 5:4

 

 

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Lenten Blessings

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I have had the privilege of hosting Wednesday evening suppers throughout Lent. Our community is pretty unique in that we celebrate Lent together among denominations.  So, on one Wednesday,  the Presbyterian pastor preaches at the Lutheran church, another one the Reformed Pastor will preach at the Methodist church, etc.  We all worship together and grow and learn with different congregations.  It was truly a blessing and as we head into Holy Week, we will have a few more opportunities to worship together.

This year, my husband and I decided to host supper before each service.  It has been a fun time to get together and socialize a bit before church.  It was a huge blessing for me.  And, speaking of blessings, I printed out a couple and made table tents of them so that they could be on display so if someone arrived late, they could say their own prayer before eating.  As the season progressed though, we started just holding up the printed cards and everyone prayed together. We used two different blessings.

The first one was handed down to me from my mother’s father. John Dunlap Wise.

Dear Heavenly Father, We thank you for the many blessings that are conferring us from day to day. Bless this food now to us. Watch over us and guide us through life, and at death, accept us. Amen.   I can hear his voice and his cadence as I pray it.

The second one I found online:

For food that stays our hunger, For rest that brings us ease, for homes where memories linger, we give our thanks for these. Amen.

They are great blessings to share. Happy Easter!

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A Funk Buster!

IMG_3353Yesterday I was in a funk.  No doubt about it.  Today I looked up the word “funk” and found out its’ synonym is depression.  Woah, that’s heavy.  But, yesterday I was in a funk and it just felt heavy for no real reason.  Plenty on my mind, but nothing terribly pressing.  I just sat and went deeper and deeper into my funk.  I played games on my phone, watched junk TV and ate an entire bag of potato chips.  At an event last night (an eating event where we sampled foods from different countries,) I shared with some Moms that I had eaten an entire bag of chips.  Then I did the math.  170 calories per serving, 7 servings per container equals 1190 calories!  I quickly admitted that I was growing sick towards the end of the bag and didn’t finish about 1/2 serving so they allowed me to deduct some calories.  OK, so I will have to sit with the fact that I consumed 1105 calories worth of Baked Sweet Potato Chips. (A healthier alternative to regular potato chips if you eat less than the entire bag!)

Regardless, the chips didn’t cheer me up. Being entertained by mindless television didn’t lift my spirits and playing Sodoku on my phone did not make me a genius. I went to bed discouraged and dissatisfied. However, I also went to bed with the resolve that today was going to be a much better day.  Before going to bed early to get adequate sleep, I deleted the games on my phone, I laid out my clothes for the day, I sat out a lemon to start my day with a cup of hot lemon water and I changed my attitude.

I woke early after a good nights’ sleep and began my morning routine.  Cup of Lemon Water (I prefer tea, but started the day off healthy!) & headed to my Bible.  Maybe that’s where the funk came from.  Maybe I haven’t been spending as much time in the Word. Where should I begin? I decided to employ a technique I learned a while ago to just read a chapter in Proverbs based on the date.  There are 31 chapters in Proverbs, so you can just pick one and start reading.  (Yes, I know it’s like that old joke where you randomly open the Bible and put your finger on a passage and do what it says with sometimes scary results.)  But, this method would give me a place to begin.

Proverbs 23:1,2

When you sit to dine with a ruler,
note well what is before you,
2 and put a knife to your throat
if you are given to gluttony.

Are you kidding me?! I can’t make this stuff up.  Seriously?! After sharing my eaten bag of chips story with the Moms at the event, with my daughter on the phone, with my Mom during a visit, with a friend in a text the first scripture I read for the day is “..and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony?”

Needless to say, I read the entire chapter, wrote in my journal and then made myself a smoothie with almond milk, spinach, avocado, protein powder & banana. I had a nice salad for lunch and I sincerely have had a much more productive day. (I haven’t even turned the TV on.) All is well, but if I thought I might unwind with a glass of wine this evening, I shouldn’t have read on:

Proverbs 32:29-35

29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has complaints?
Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?
30 Those who linger over wine,
who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.
31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup,
when it goes down smoothly!
32 In the end it bites like a snake
and poisons like a viper.
33 Your eyes will see strange sights,
and your mind will imagine confusing things.
34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas,
lying on top of the rigging.
35 “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt!
They beat me, but I don’t feel it!
When will I wake up
so I can find another drink?”

I can’t even believe that’s in there…but it is, and obviously “SOMEONE” thought I needed to hear it this morning.

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Be Early & Bless

IMG_3213My family and I had scrambled to get ready. We needed to be in Pittsburgh by 4:30 and we wanted to stop and eat before then.  Having appointments and obligations all morning we ran from thing to thing.  Late for our first stop, because I made a cup of tea to take, we arrived, got to work and helped while keeping an eye on the clock because we had to go to a training at noon. We sorted and worked and left at the last minute possible to get to the training.

We arrived at the training, found a close parking spot, stuck our hand into the closing elevator door to make it open and accept us. We rushed past the receptionist, briskly walked back the hall, found our seats and began.

We needed to leave the training which was running late while the speaker was still presenting. We gathered up our handouts & raced out the door.

We picked the kids up, stopped for a sandwich and were finally on our way to our final destination.  Breathing again, but no time for error, we made it to the concert at 4:30.  Aaaaaah, Success.

But, was it? We mentioned the poor unfortunate man along the highway with a flat tire, and we were hopeful that slowing car with their turn signal on was going to assist him but we can’t be sure. We didn’t have time to stop and ask. It made me wish we hadn’t been so rushed that day. And it makes me wonder what other opportunities to share God’s love we missed.

Maybe that close parking spot could’ve gone to someone who had trouble walking and if we had had time, we may have parked further away and walked. We may have spoken to the person on the elevator if our minds weren’t preoccupied with being tardy.

I wish we had greeted the receptionist, made eye contact and smiled instead of rushing past her as if she were invisible. It would have been nice to be at the training earlier and converse with the attendees a bit to share what we have learned and glean from them what they know.

When we are late or rushed we miss out on opportunities to bless others and to be blessed by them. A smile or a short conversation about the weather may be all the other person needs to have a brighter day. A quick conversation may be all you need. I have always been a pretty punctual person. I think it’s in my DNA, but I know people who struggle with being on time. They intentionally set their clocks five or ten minutes fast so they can be on time. (Until of course, they remember their clocks are fast and adjust their schedule accordingly.) I don’t need to play this trick on myself to be on time, but maybe I need to do it so I can be early. So I can maybe have the margin needed for God to use me to do what He wants me to do, not just what I want to do!

Maybe if I had an extra margin of time, I could bless someone by letting them go ahead of me in line. Maybe I would notice someone fumbling with their keys while juggling packages and offer to help. Maybe I could let that car merge first. Maybe I could ask someone how they are and wait for an answer.

I think I’ll change my clocks and change my mindset and give it a try.IMG_3209

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37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’    –Matthew 22:37-39 NIV

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Have You Heard of RAD?

IMG_2303Have you heard of RAD? Reactive Attachment Disorder? You can research it and you can read some of my previous blogs for a better understanding, but unless you have first-hand experience with it, you will never fully understand.

Today is the day after Valentine’s Day and also the day after a terrible tragedy in Florida.  There was a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Today more information is surfacing regarding the shooter.  However, yesterday some of my friends were already talking.  It is sad to say, but many of my friends, the parents of kids with RAD were asking what we always ask when there is a tragedy of this type, “Was he adopted? Was he the victim of early neglect or trauma? Was he at-risk?” Today we find out that yes, in fact, he was. Yesterday there were reports that he was “a little off, quirky, weird, & possibly depressed.” One report I read said he had an autism diagnosis.  Many of the kids that are diagnosed with RAD were initially diagnosed with Autism.  Even doctors know there is something “a little off” and since they can’t quite put their finger on it, they go with Autism.

I’m not a doctor or a psychiatrist and I don’t know that the shooter from yesterday sincerely had RAD, but there are quite a few of us parents speculating. I have been receiving messages all morning as we support each other and also as we grieve for this boy’s family in addition to the families of all the victims.  We RAD parents are also grateful that his adoptive parents are already gone & we hope that maybe, just maybe this tragedy will bring attention to the mental health crisis in America.

This shooter was obviously disturbed and his mental health crisis didn’t just happen yesterday.  It happened his whole life.  I don’t know in his case, but I do know in many cases that help is a short-term fix, always falls back into the hands of parents and that most services conclude at age 18. Mental health facilities for adolescents are shutting down at alarming rates and when these schools/treatment facilities close, the teen is placed back with the parent that already admitted that they couldn’t handle the mental health situation in the first place. Desperate parents call the police when their child is raging and if removed from the home at all, the child is placed in a DAS Program – Diversion and Acute Stabilization Program. This program lasts for a maximum of 30 days and then what? The child goes home or into a Residential Treatment Facility.  Of course, the RTFs don’t have available beds at all times.  I’ve known of families taking their disturbed child out of a psychiatric hospital home as they wait months for a bed to be available. Then, of course, if the child behaves as the RTF deems appropriate, the child is returned home and may once again, struggle with family rules or boundaries and the cycle continues.  Well-meaning people suggest that the disturbed child shouldn’t stay in the home as it is a dangerous situation, yet there truly are very few options. ( Read Post Nowhere to Go for more information.)

So, today as my friends and I continue to fight the good fight with our kids, and as we fight the battle with the mental health system to get services, we know that the shooter was not alone. He may have acted alone in the events of yesterday but he is not alone.  I know people who are attempting to raise kids just like him right now. Please pray for these folks in the trenches.

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This is Us….Really

This_is_usThe television show This is Us played after the Super Bowl last night.  A night we’ve all been waiting for.  Not the Super Bowl, but the show. Spoiler alert: Jack died. We knew he would, but we just didn’t know exactly how.  (Isn’t that true to life…we will all die, we just don’t know when or how.) I don’t usually stay up past eleven, but for this show, I had to.  I actually wanted to get it over with.  These teenagers were about to lose their father and I wanted to get it over with. As you may have seen, a young, vibrant, healthy father died of a widow maker heart attack. Sometimes these things happen.  I know, because it happened to me.

I was 16 when my father died of a heart attack and the show This is Us portrayed the gamut of emotions that those teens faced pretty true to life. I’ve wondered about my last words spoken, I’ve mourned my father not knowing my husband, and I’ve talked to a tree to tell my father my troubles. Yep, I’ve done it all and though those characters were fictional last night, the pain they emoted is real for many. I cried along with them….but not as much as I expected I would. I’ve relived the moments that I shared with them and I’m sure I’ll relive more as next week’s episode promises funeral scenes, but I didn’t actually relate as well with them as I expected. You see, their grief is new & raw, mine has been with me for 38 years. Time really does heal, but it never erases. I found myself watching the show and then comforting myself that the “Jack” character wasn’t really gone, he’ll be reappearing in flashbacks for months. In real life, that is not the case, or is it? Actually, the thing I remember most about the night my dad died was not wanting to close my eyes because when I did, I was afraid that I wouldn’t remember what he looked like. What if he vanished from my mind and my memory? How can I preserve the images?  Well, Kate (the daughter on the show), even if you lose that videotape of him, he will remain. My dad was only a part of my life for 16 years but he, too, reappears in flashback scenes. A saying he used, a smirk, even someone jumping to the front of the line at the grocery store will make me think of him. I didn’t forget, I won’t forget, so that fear is gone. Thank God.

This is Us.  This is many of us. This is some of us, yet to come. I don’t know exactly how Kate, Kevin, and Randall are going to cope with it, but I now know how I did. I can do all things through him who gives me strength. –Philippians 4:13 

 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.        –2 Corinthians 12:9

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Fools, Eejits & Gobdaws!

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Fool.  An important word.  It’s so important that the King James Version of the Bible says it almost 70 times!  Proverbs is a book that gives a lot of information on fools.  It has fool mentioned 42 times in 41 verses.  Fools despise wisdom and instruction, spread slander, and the heart of a fool proclaims foolishness. So, as I read about fools, I recognize that sometimes I am thinking of myself and sometimes I am thinking of others around me.  Come on, you know, you have fools in your circle too! We can definitely all learn from fools and from our own foolish ways.

Last week, I spoke too quickly and became a fool (A quick-tempered man acts foolishly. Prov 14:17) and I blurted out and called my son a name when he was acting foolishly. The minute I said it I regretted it.  I not only hurt my child, but I disappointed myself by using a name that is often classified as a swear word.  This would give my child fuel to throw up in my face for decades to come! I hate it when I slip like that! After discussing my error with my husband, he suggested I increase my vocabulary and try to find a new name to blurt out in anger.  He suggested “chucklehead.”  Chucklehead sounded way too kind for that situation, but I will employ it and store it in my memory bank for the future. While I was thinking of my regret and other chooses, I came across two new words used by a British author. Her vocabulary includes the words, “eejit” and “gobdaw.”  Love those!  Though not found in our American dictionaries, I did locate definitions for them.

eejit  –  noun – /ˈiːdʒɪt/ -a way of saying idiot which represents the way it is pronounced by some people.

gobdaw – noun – informal – A foolish or pretentious person.

Those two choices sound so much better than the one I had previously chosen. I personally have heard lots of fool synonyms over the years. Bonehead, dipstick, knucklehead, and bubble brain to name a few. So, there is no shortage of ways to call a fool a fool and though I spent this time researching it, I could actually be a little less foolish by learning less about fools and more about wisdom, (but I don’t think those words would be nearly as entertaining!)

So, if you ever need to avoid the same “foolish” mistake that I made, feast your eyes on the list below. Choose one and go with it.  Or be prudent and remember that the word wisdom is used in the Bible 181 times.  Maybe I should spend a little more time researching that!!!! disegno-floreale-con-bordi-arricciati_318-45888

idiot, ass, blockhead, dunce, dolt, ignoramus, imbecile, cretin, dullard, simpleton, moron, clod; nitwit, halfwit, dope, ninny, nincompoop, chump, dimwit, dingbat, dipstick, goober, coot, goon, dumbo, dummy, ditz, dumdum, fathead, butthead, numbskull, numbnuts, dunderhead, thickhead, airhead, flake, lamebrain, mouth-breather, zombie, nerd, peabrain, birdbrain, scissorbill, jughead, jerk, donkey, twit, goat, dork, twerp, lamer, schmuck, bozo, boob, turkey, schlep, chowderhead, dumbhead, goofball, goof, goofus, doofus, hoser, galoot, lummox, knuckle-dragger, klutz, putz, schlemiel, sap, meatball, dumb cluck, mook;

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Proverbs 26:1-12 (NIV)

1 Like snow in summer or rain in harvest,

    honor is not fitting for a fool.

2 Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow,

    an undeserved curse does not come to rest.

3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,

    and a rod for the backs of fools!

4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,

    or you yourself will be just like him.

5 Answer a fool according to his folly,

    or he will be wise in his own eyes.

6 Sending a message by the hands of a fool

    is like cutting off one’s feet or drinking poison.

7 Like the useless legs of one who is lame

    is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.

8 Like tying a stone in a sling

    is the giving of honor to a fool.

9 Like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand

    is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.

10 Like an archer who wounds at random

    is one who hires a fool or any passer-by.

11 As a dog returns to its vomit,

    so fools repeat their folly.

12 Do you see a person wise in their own eyes?

    There is more hope for a fool than for them.

 

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