Monthly Archives: February 2018

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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