Best Defense is an Even BETTER Offense!

Garden and Greenhouse  www.groundworks-midwest.com

This is a picture of a greenhouse at a public school playground in the midst of Sioux Falls, SD,  The growth, the joy, the learning, and the planning has blossomed in the last five years.  This past September, 2013, began year 6.  On Saturday, October, 26, 2013, the greenhouse which served as the symbol of the first teaching garden sponsored by multiples of local and regional partners, and the non-profit, Ground Works, saw its last day at the pavement locked school.

Students from Northwestern College in Orange City, IA gathered with teachers from Lowell Elementary, volunteers from the neighborhood, and the staff of Ground Works to take down the structure which was originally donated from a Wal-Mart in Pierre, SD,  4 of the people who were part of the original build and dedication donned gloves and dismantled the symbol, which for 5 years has been such a source of hope and pride.

You may ask why this had to happen.  1 word:  Vandalism.

Short, not sweet, but certainly to the point.

A flourishing  garden naturally lends itself to some curiosity.  The sight of purple eggplants growing in the sun provides as much temptation as  ripe tomatoes hanging from their vines.  Some innocent exploration and the occasional splat is understandable and expected.  Hey, at least they are in the garden and taking enough time inspecting to cause a little commotion.  Even the innocent removal of a watermelon or pumpkin from its moorings provides a moment of learning for young hands who try to attach it after its been plucked.  One can smile at that and use it as a learning and teaching moment of  growth, science, and measurement.  The possibilities are endless for instruction.

HOWEVER!!!!! One cannot stand for nor tolerate the intentional destructive and violent actions of persons bent on destroying something that belongs to the children, families, teachers, and neighbors who reside in and near the school where the garden grows.  Yes, the violent and destructive nature of vandalism has visited not only this garden but 2 others in the Sioux Falls area.  No leads on the individuals or the motives have surfaced, but it begs the question as to what is happening recently.

The greenhouse frequently saw various items littering  the floor not once, but multiple times.  Each time the garden manager had a class out in the garden, she had to first canvas the area , ensuring that any nefarious items were disposed of appropriately.  Bottle rockets, broken pots and cinder blocks lay spewed on the ground, while the beds were the picture of upended plants, vegetation, and footprints.  We won’t even elaborate on the inappropriate material found which would cause any adult to shake their head in disgust and worry even more about the safety of the children in the neighborhood.  Rest assured whatever the mind may be imagining now  is nothing short of what has already been pictured.

For months, members who have been involved in this garden have hoped against all hopes that the activity would cease.  No such luck.  In fact, with each passing weekend, the activity increased and the destruction gained momentum.  With support from all partners, teachers involved, and earlier mentioned non-profit staff members,  the request of the principal for the greenhouse to be removed, was heeded.  Above all, the safety of the students, teachers, and neighbors trumps the presence of a structure–any structure.  With all partners and collaborators set on the mindset that this and other gardens exist for the purpose of education in academia, scientific inquiry, health and personal wellness, environmental sustainability, and the practice of being a great neighbor, plans were made and executed with good faith and attitude.

As the garden manager and long invested partners gathered to look at the greenhouse one last time, the feeling of anger and frustration surfaced once again as the issue of why now, why this place were left unanswered.  The anger, not directed at those dismantling, went to the core of those causing the violence and  the overall safety of the children to be compromised.   So, while 20 pound cinder blocks were stacked, ready for a flatbed, the frustration gave way to a unified  sense of satisfaction that the growing beds remain.  The learning continues, the bridge for school and community exists, and gathered on the pavement were people committed to the education of children.  Unspoken feelings of satisfaction replaced frustration as teams of people worked together to right the wrongs caused by those not able to see the benefit of what they sought to destroy.

There is the wonderful key….their destruction did not dampen the spirits of those rolling up their sleeves.  Their desire to deny others gave way to dreaming and planning of a different sort.  Those who have been present from day one 5 years ago remember fondly the seminary student who dared to ask, “What if?”  That same question came full circle yesterday.  Just as in the past, if something was uprooted, it was immediately replanted.  The ideas of expansion took shape and smiles spread across faces.  College students never before met,  served alongside teachers who cared.  Strangers, made friends demonstrated EXACTLY what the teaching gardens proclaim they do.  They bridge the divide of race, gender, station, desire, education, and financial or social standing.  Conversations of teamwork, student dreams, and future garden plans were discussed with good humor.  Throw in some sunshine, free food, laughter, and the ulterior motives of others were forgotten.  That is right, the motives of those who sought to ruin, were disregarded.  Violence did not have the last word, nor was it the attitude allowed to take root.  It did not take an  angry response to stop the behavior.  Hard work, teamwork, and community proved more important than reacting.  Proactive response demonstrated more maturity and collaboration than a few wreaking havoc.

There are other gardens in the area being targeted.   Ground Works offers  the hand of positive partnership to calling an end to such behavior.  We remain committed, along with others, that the cycles of violence and destruction have a source far deeper than what the surface represents. It is our obligation to go below that surface and ask the tough questions and listen when even tougher answers come forth.  It is our obligation to ensure that a safe and productive learning environment blossoms not only at the gardens we serve, but for those gardens experiencing similar issues.

Destruction has no place in our neighborhoods, or near our schools.  The group yesterday stood positive that quiet and well planned and executed response is of far more worth than misplaced anger.  Love wins, it always wins.  Now, try to destroy that!

You can Drive, 55!

Ok that title may eek my age just a bit, as do famous car scenes from Ferris Bueller and License to Drive….(always a sucker for the Corey Haim and Corey Feldman duo!)  The idea of certain rites of passage have come to mind lately as I continue to age.  Blame it on a bday up and coming, with 40 looming ahead next year, or maybe it is simply watching and observing that has me thinking.  At any rate, this idea of driving has me not in the passenger seat, nor back seat driving ( I always hated that!).  The topic brings me front and center, with seat belt on, ready to tackle the concept.

I remember when I was a kid and the idea of driving a car seemed so foreign to me.  I could not imagine someone getting in this beast of a car and traveling with effortless ease to a certain destination.  They made it look so easy.  I laugh because my parents and brothers would often remark that I could not even direct a push mower in a straight line, much less the rider lawn mower.  Although, in hindsight, my deficit did make for some interesting lawn patterns…   I watched and marveled at how adults and many young people handled this machine, one that appeared so daunting to me, with never so much as a thought.  I vowed I would never own one, never step behind the wheel, and certainly never  have the need for such vehicle.  I don’t know what I was thinking.

Most young people can begin driving at the tender age of 14, honestly pretty young, compared to many countries whose 14-year-old “rites” include celebrations in coming of age, naming ceremonies, vision quests, and the list continues.  While our brothers and sisters in foreign lands experience something which ties them closer to family and faith, we allow our teenagers an opportunity to escape those clutches we call family.  Hmmmm, maybe there is something in that?

I watch my 2 children, growing fast, hankering for independence, a chance to strike out more and more on their own.  While I welcome some “mom alone time”, I have to admit a certain lump in my throat as I watch them head out together to the pool.  One so happy on his bike, the other gladly aboard his scooter.  They know not the tears I choke back, watching them, realizing my “mommy” moments are rapidly flying.  Both have already commented how they cannot wait to get their own car, to be free.  Uh, not if I can help it.

So, I watch the teens around me and the way they handle this privilege.  Oddly, they do not look at it as a privilege, but a right or a rite, if you will.  Speeding down main street, music blaring, heads and body  parts hanging out the windows, they display none of the fear which I am sure their parents feel at times.  A burning desire to escape the bonds which they find repressing, the times away just hanging out grow longer and more frequent.  Escape from what, I wonder?

Are they escaping that childhood in favor of something more fun-more free?  How many adults would like to take them aside and tell them to embrace these moments as they are too fleeting.  Are they running from a home which has become unbearable for whatever reason?  In that, have we somehow lost the concept of family, allowing it to become something antiquated and unattainable?  Are they then escaping a house, in search of a community that embraces their individuality?

Maybe I am over-thinking this.  Maybe it is nothing more than an appropriate moment in our lives which must take place so the next generation is prepared to step up to the plate.  My gut tells me there is something more, though  I have to admit that when I began driving, I was terrified to make a mistake-right hand turns were a cinch, but the lefties threw me for a loop.  The interstate was a foreign land that promised too fast traffic and certain death.  The largest town from mine was about an hour away, with an expanse of streets and exits that was sure to confuse me.

I learned, we all do.  I gained confidence and this driving gig required as little thought as breathing.  Now I have to admit my disregard for many of the safety measures I once observed so carefully.  It was not until a couple of years ago when a friend mentioned to me, “put on your seat belt, I don’t want you hurt.”  Hmmm, I had never really thought about it, my safety and confidence in my own skills never motivated me to think that I would be anything other than safe while I was in a car.  After all, I had dodged ice storms, torrential rains, wind, and country roads more times than I could count.  What was the matter with traveling from here to there unstrapped.  Now clicking the buckle is a natural and I will not move an inch until my boys are safe.

I admit a bit sheepishly that with the constant of travel for me, I have become more than a little lax in what I do while driving.  There was a time I checked all mirrors, tuned the station, and double checked the windshield wiper before starting on my journey.  Alas, I now check my phone, watch for messages coming in, plug-in my Spotify- making sure that I have the right tunes for the 1/2 hour trip to my office.  I have been known to move the rear view mirror and apply my make up if running late.  Yes, I have even texted more times than I should admit and have used vocal text in lieu of typing messages.  I have taken this privilege for granted, never realizing the life altering impact my actions could have on someone else, much less me and my family.  Some may read this and admonish me for such behavior, they would be right in doing so—I am beginning to tailor my habits towards more consideration of others’ needs versus my own perceived ones.

Then I think of my parents.  They are getting on in years, in their 60’s and 70’s, respectively.   I remember the ease with which they traveled, keeping us safe, never anticipating anything befalling us.  It never did.  Now, there are activities my children have which my mother will not attend because it may put her on the road in the dark.  There is a part of me rankled at what I believe is an excuse to chill at home.  Then again, maybe it is a true fear, one that she would rather not express often, one that limits what she is able to do.  I watch my father, his apparent disregard for stop signs, speed limits, and those around him.  Maybe it is not disregard, but an inability to pay attention to that many stimuli at once.  This person, who I have watched juggle strenuous work for decades reveals a deficit that elicits laughter and mockery from family, yet also limits what he can do.  That privilege earned so long ago, which allowed them to escape, now wanes and entraps them once again.  Whoa, deep thought there.  The older my parents become, the less likely they will be to hop in the car and head out for no particular reason.  Interesting paradox, that as I come of my age, I crave moments when I am alone in the car, radio blaring, singing at the top of my lungs.  It is a stress reliever a source of decompression from work, home, or thought.  An escape from something I have allowed to become mundane?  Maybe.

These rites, seemingly unimportant in the moment, have more impact than we believe.  What if we treated this right with the reverent attitude that comes not of owning the newest wheels in town, but a moment of honor and responsibility?  Could it be a moment where our kiddos experience their own metaphorical vision quest?

Not having the next thought appear, I will put down the pen on this one.  Until the obsession to write strikes again,  I bid you be careful and watchful out there…

Shalom dear ones.

c.

 

Musings

It is quiet in my house tonight.  I have spent the last 2 days away from my baby boys (yes they are still my babies even though they are 5, 8–they will always be my babies)  The last time I saw them was about 10:50 yesterday morning as I made sure they had been properly picked up by their grandparents so that I could assist my husband with judging and chaperoning kids on a debate overnighter.  I knew they were safe and were in good care, but before I set forth for Brookings, I had to make sure everyone was where they were supposed to be.  I was able to walk them down the hall, hug them, kiss the top of their heads, and tell them good-bye and that I love them.  They smiled and told me they loved me and happily climbed in my parent’s pick up for the next adventure.  They were safe.

Moments later, I got in a school van, turned on the radio expecting to crank up the tunes and blow into the parking lot to help load a group of kiddos.  MPR and its broadcast from Connecticut stopped me in my tracks as they described the horror unfolding there.  Questions loomed in the air, doubt as to how someone could do such a thing….certainly there must be a mistake.  People just don’t do something like that…we must be hearing things.  No one walks into an elementary school and opens fire—no one.  Someone did.

It is quiet in my house tonight, but I know where my children are and I will speak to them (at least 1 of them will talk on the phone)before they rest tonight.   My mother told me not to worry about whether to pick them up tonight, but to get some rest.  I will rest tonight knowing that they are safe.  It is awful quiet without their chatter, their noise in the hall, their feet pounding the floor, and their instant mood changes which means we have to duke it out in the middle of the livingroom….I am not telling anyone to pick up their coats, put their boots by the register, and to stop pestering the dog.  No one is climbing in my lap, asking me questions while I try to go to the bathroom, or eating off of my plate…it is quiet here tonight.

It is quiet other places tonight, too.  Places where it should not be quiet.  Homes where there are children or parents missing….they should not be quiet.  Homes of aunts and uncles, and grandparents, fellow teachers and aides, administrators, coaches, cooks, librarians, secretaries, brothers, and sisters are quieter tonight than ever.

Sometimes maybe we have been too quiet….I say that gently, wondering if times have come to start talking real truth in our circles.  I wonder if the time has come to crawl underneath what appears to be ailing our society and ask the deeper questions…Why, why do these things keep happening?  Is it for want of more regulation, stricter laws and more awareness?  Will more education do the trick?  Will looking to government controls moderate our behavior?

Maybe it comes down to regulating ourselves.  I said last night that if we could move toward a world where the human race was not hunting one another like animals, maybe we would be a bit better off than we are now.  If we could start to look at one another through different lenses maybe we would begin to see one another as human beings, capable of greatness and wonder, and yes, heart wrenching sadness.  We are all capable of lifting one another to highest of highs with our encouragement, love, kindness, and support.  We also have the ability to destroy one another.  We have the ability to do so much.

I said to my students yesterday, the scary moment was the realization that at any one point, any one of us is capable of something as heinous as yesterday’s shooting.  That is the dark truth no one wants to admit.  We are all capable of losing it and blowing a micro-chip, so to speak.  It may not look the same as it did yesterday, but the propensity exists.  Thankfully, most of us filter and keep ourselves in check, most of the time.

What would it look like to begin allowing tough questions to find answers?  what would it look like to embrace one another as truly brothers and sisters, rather than the individual enemy we want to categorize each other?  What would it look like to take seriously the ideas our parents and teachers instilled in us from birth….to be kind, tell the truth, treat others the way you want to be treated, and look both ways before crossing the street.  We had buddy systems in place to help each other  what happened as we grew older?  Do we not need our buddies to help us anymore?

It is quiet in my house tonight and I miss my babies in a place I cannot describe.  I want to hear their voices, to hold them tight, to cradle them as they fall asleep.  I don’t want to explain the last couple days to them…but I will.  I will use it as a teaching moment to speak of grace and love and compassion and bravery.  I will tell them that I do not understand and there are parts of this story that I struggle to get my head around to understand.  I will tell them that I am trying to find room in my heart for forgiveness, but I find it lacking….I find my role conflicted as to how to love all persons in this situation.  I will be honest in telling them I do not know how to solve the problem or why innocent children paid a price.  I don’t know.

In this moment, no one wins.  Not the victims, the families, schools, friends, and dare I say, the perpetrator.  No one in his family wins tonight either….there is death and loss and mountains of grief and questions which will never be resolved.  That is the hardest realization….there can be no winners—-only a moment to learn from and pray we can move from this a better human race.  We can either learn from this moment, invite the conversations, and seek answers; or we can put our blinders back on, admit that yesterday was horrible, and continue in our same paths as we did.  We can choose to let this impact us to action and motivate us to real and deeper exploration; or we can lull ourselves back into complacency.  The choice is ours, it always has been, always will be.

I choose to take that mantle of community seriously….I seek to understand how I can make an impact that leaves lasting and positive change–even when it’s quiet out there tonight.

To BE…..Healed

Wow, I can hardly believe the road has taken me this far.  After 38 years and a constant battle up the hill and fighting, it appears I may have reached the summit and I hardly know how to react or what to do.

I sit here on a Tuesday night, I  can see the small string of lights attached to my house, i am seated right next to the Christmas tree and its lit branches, I can hear my oldest son play Star Wars Battlefront and narrate the scenario as my youngest plays on my Nook.  Most electronics make their way to my sons’ hands before I get a chance to get used to them.  It is the cost of having boys it seems.  If it were girls, they would be in my jewelry and make up and asking to borrow my clothes…I will content myself with the onslaught of noise and boisterous play.  My pug is seated on the floor, gazing at me with forlorn eyes, knowing that she would like to lay claim to my lap, but the square typey thing I call a laptop has taken that honor.  She sighs and snorts at me, then fixes her eyes back on the floor.  Maybe, she figures, the more pathetic and uninterested she looks, the more pity I will have on her.  She is right.  An invite to her, a call of her name and I have a 20lb, fawn colored, fur child resting her head on my typey thing.  She sighs a deep moan of contentment and settles herself into the crook between me and the chair.  All is well in her world.

She has not left me alone much in the last couple of weeks.  She has been my constant companion as I make multiple trips to the bathroom, grimacing in pain and logging them for a drug test diary.  The day before Thanksgiving, I was given the news that the last set of polyps I had were stage 2 and that due to the major damage done to my gastrointestinal system many parts had been compromised, including the pancreas.  GREAT.

Back up, did this just occur?  Heavens no.  My adopted family will even tell you, that while I am prone to moments of dramatic fancy, my stomach issues have been present my whole life.  I kid you not.  There has never been a day that I have not had a stomach ache, wondered where the closest bathroom was, or how quickly I would lose what I had eaten. As a young child, there were lists and lists of items that I could not eat…never knowing if I was simply allergic to everything under the sun or my system was that sensitive.  No sugar, milk, citrus, or dark-colored pop could I ingest.  This is not to say that I did not do a fair share of sneaking contraband articles, but I paid for it dearly later that day.

When I received my full adoption file a little over a year ago, many questions were answered.  Many I will not reveal at this time, but from a physical standpoint, many murky moments were made more clear.  I was well over 6 weeks premature, and weighed less than 4 lbs at birth.  Born in a rural and predominantly Native American town, the likelihood of good prenatal care is questionable.  I was born the beginning of Sept and was released from the NICU at the end of Sept– over 20 days in intensive care.  Already narratives talked about my inability to keep formula down and their concern about what would happen when I went home surfaced.  They were right to worry.

Within the first 14 days, social services had been contacted 3 separate times by my biological family to have me removed.  When the social worker made the first visit she wrote about the confusion in the house, the lack of care I was receiving, and the total disregard family members seemed to have for my welfare.  Of great concern were the stomach issues I had already experienced and the care that I required being a premie and of low birth weight, there seemed to be either too much frantic questions or not enough attention being paid to me and the social worker was already concerned.  Too little attention paid to a 4 lb baby?  How could you pay too little attention?

After I was removed the first time, I was placed back in the hospital where it was determined that I was not being fed, had not been taking in calories, and had in fact, lost weight.  I had none to spare.  The long spiral of stomach concerns began and were exacerbated by lack of care, my biological mother never did get it together and overcome her fear of dealing with one with such stomach problems.  It seems that much of the fine-tuning of system growth that happens in the last month in utero did not take place, coupled with poor natal care, and it is a miracle I survived birth….literally.  Yet, I did.  I survived bottles of beer being fed to me so that I would stop crying, and I survived enough to be adopted into a new home before I was a year old.  For that I am thankful.  Given the track record and the narrative I have, I would not have lived much longer in that environment.  I was delivered–again.

The stomach issues have continued to plague my life ever since I can remember.  There is no consistent behavior, nothing sets it off, nothing makes it worse, and yet, everything does.  I can be going along fine, eating a wonderful meal and 20 minutes later, am miserable.  I have been tested for every allergy–none appear.  I have undergone colonoscopies and endoscopes since I was 25, I am and old hat at the game, with more barium enema and radioactive eggs consumed that I can count.  Yesterday I underwent another set of scopes and found out for the first time in years that I had a clean one.  While there is much inflammation and scarring, I had no polyps to speak of and no reason to take tissue samples.  The dr even told me that I had beat the colon cancer for the 5th time, and he has not a clue how I have done it.  Neither do I, other than the host of angels and prayers covering me in the last weeks.

Tomorrow I walk into my Dr’s office and receive a drug (or placebo) which should start to calm down the constant spasm of my intestinal system, taking some of the pressure off the pancreas.  There is great concern about this as it has thrown off all my metabolic.  There could be an end to pain, an end to the constant worry and stress over how I feel and why.  An end may be near for the feeling of punishment that I have felt my body to have undergone my entire life.  You see, I believed wholeheartedly that much of what I was experiencing was a way to punish me for my existence.  If I had been born into a different set of circumstances, I would not feel this way.  Had I been a more docile baby, more adaptable, I would not have annoyed my parents….UH DUH!!!! I did nothing wrong.  Repeat, I did nothing wrong and I am not being punished.

Tomorrow could give me the permission I have sought my whole life–permission to feel and be pain free.  I have no idea what this looks like, I have no idea how to embrace this concept, parts of me have no clue what to do.  This is a gift, a wonderful chance to experience something I do not know.  There is fear.  What do I do when there is no pain?  How do I function if there is no reason to worry and carry a secret of inner turmoil?  Even the alcoholic will tell you they would give their right arm to be done, but the fear of the unknown, no matter how enticing is almost paralyzing.  That lifestyle is all they know, this pain is what I have known for 38 years.  38 years could be over in a manner of days—it has taken this long to get here.

38 years of tears, anger, humiliation, and hurt come together in a chance at something new, and here I sit scared out of my mind.  I am terrified to walk into that DR office, terrified to take the med (or placebo), terrified to think my journey down this road may be over and a new order will replace what i have known for 38 years.  The status quo is comfortable even in its dysfunction, but it is time for a change, a shift in the continuum.  I pray for the courage to move forward, to embrace this, to rejoice.  To LIVE.  I ask from you the permission to speak freely, to express my thoughts, and the space to work through some of what this calls me into exploring.

Let’s do this?

Shalom and healing to you!

cahl.

Come, Sit Awhile

Cuddle:   The sniffles come and along with it are the chills, the sore throat, the runny nose, and the body aches.  If we are lucky, it is also a rainy and windy period in late fall or early winter, where the weather cooperates with the body in mass conspiracy to make us feel even worse.  No matter the age or the independent streak we possess, there is one thought that rises to the surface.  “I wan…

t my mom.” Sometimes, in the law of events, a trio of watershed moments crash in to claim us.  Many comment that heart breaking situations tend to happen in three’s.  They seem to snowball, collecting more momentum and energy as time continues.  While we try to avert it’s hurtling avalanche and keep ourselves centered, sometimes the impact threatens more impact than we would like.  Our blankets, loving arms, and the chance to simply let go rank higher than anything else in those times, and again the same response rings clear, “I want my mom.” That desire we have to climb into safe and secure arms, to rest our heads on strong shoulders, to be held in a way that tells us that we are taken care of  is more valuable than any amount of money.  We yearn to be cuddled and kept close to those who chose to love us no matter the circumstance.  When we are low or sick, exhausted, spent, and overwhelmed—we want our mommies.  We want to be wrapped tight, with a light hand on the side of our face, running through our hair, or rubbing our backs.  We want to sink into the loving cuddle of someone who wants nothing from us.  What a relief that that provides.   There are some, unfortunately, who do not have that chance.  There are children who go through their childhood not able to climb into those laps and rest their head.  There are adults who miss that chance as well, or chose to section themselves from warm embrace, a kind word or a moment to let go and cuddle and be cuddled.  Yet, the desire for that human connection does not wane the older we become, in fact, it increases.  A loving smile, knowing that someone will grasp our hand in welcome or empathy, the arm about the shoulders, all of it is necessary if we are to grow as the children we are.   We are beloved children, whose Abba parent begs us to climb into a loving lap and let go.  This Creator knows that we need physical contact which fills us and somehow makes the crazy wind and rain of life seem a little less ominous.  Our eternal parent wants to smooth back the worried brows and cuddle us close, letting us know that no matter how tired, exhausted, and overwhelmed we feel, there is One who remains ready to embrace us.    That is a legacy of love that has been in place before any of us drew our first breath and remains a promise that envelops us, even when we breathe our last.  It is a promise that One bigger than all of humanity stands ready to embrace all that we are, all that we become, and all that we encounter.  This Creator understands and hears the heart cry, “I just want my mom,” and wants desperately to provide that safe place of refuge.  If only we will cry aloud what we need and what we want.  If only. I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. Psalm 31:6-

I embark

I have put aside the autobiography for a time to work on something which has captured my attention as of late.  I am choosing 3 verbs from the English language beginning with A and ending with Z and writing a devotional idea to go with it.  Devotional can be no longer than 1 page and must tie biblically.  Here are the first 3 attempts.

Accentuate

“Accentuate the positive!”  The words ring out as shrilly as the platinum blonde bleached into her hair.  She punches the air, making sure the staccato beat of her platform heels is in perfect time.  She knows that to fool the masses, you have to make them look beyond what is really there.  Any good performer hones that skill from birth and to make a director’s head turn, you do what you can to make yourself stand out from the crowd and that is just what she is teaching these young ladies today.

“Backs straight, head held high, suck in the gut; never-ever reveal a weakness.”  The young ladies, all dozen of them hold their 9 year old heads a little higher and look down the line at one another, making sure they are just a bit straighter, a tad taller.  At the end of the line is a quiet brunette of slight frame, angelic demeanor, and quiet strength.  Instead of casting a glance down the line, she straightens a bit taller, closes her eyes and begins mouthing something to herself.

Perhaps it’s the litany of “Backs straight, head high, never a weakness.”  Maybe she can Ac-cen-tu-ate  pos-i-tive as she practices plies at the barre.  Whatever the reason, there is an assured look on her face, one of almost pure joy, in stark contrast to the other girls’ grimace of agony.  Madame’s pitch creeps higher and her heels pick up pace even faster.  Sweat breaks out on many faces and she screeches to wipe it off, “never let a judge see you as human.  You are more than human; you are super human—act like it!  20 more minutes!”

Up and down the line Madame shrieks louder and she stops dead in front of our quiet one and demands to know why she is smiling.  “You look like you are clueless, that is no way to push yourself to the top.  Always standing there, smug and quiet, you are so infuriating!  Why are you like that?  You know you will never rise to the top of the class and be a star without the killer instinct.  Rise higher, reach further, push, push, push.”

“I have been taught that our world looks at the outer package. We judge each other on how we dress, walk, talk, and how we attractive we are. I know in my heart that what is seen on the inside is more important than how I look on the outside to others.    I am of more worth than all the fake nails or high heels in the world.  The Creator of the Universe sees to the core of who I am, not who I pretend to be or what a director may think is acceptable for a show.  I tell myself each day I am here to accentuate the inside gold, not the outside fake.  That Creator gazes at you in that way too, Madame.  Accentuate your inside gold.  Push to the inner recess of your heart, accentuate that pure gold.”

1 Samuel 16:7

The Message (MSG)

7 But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.”

Adopt

They stare out from their secured cages, brought in on trucks or in cars.  They have been found on the streets, rummaging through garbage bins, wandering fields on their own, or a family finds they cannot support them any longer.  Whatever the reason, they watch the doorways, listen for footsteps, hope for a loving young girl or boy they can shower with love.  Maybe this group will be my forever home, maybe they will adopt me and make me part of their family.

Tails wag, mouths hang open, and barks escape as they paw at the metal fencing.  Dancing on all fours they hop up and down in anticipation.  “Pick me!  Pick me!”  Can you hear them?  “Please, please.  This is special adoption weekend.  Can you find a place in your home, your heart? Won’t you adopt me?  Chose me?”

The eyes tell the stories of some of them, the lives they have lived, and their past-the solitude of their journeys.  In compelling compassion they lock contact with you, gazing at you, begging in silence to deliver them for their present reality.   Feel the joyful energy coursing through them as you click a leash on their collar, interested enough to try for a walk around the facility.  See the prideful way they pick up their head, walk through the door and out into the sunshine.  Imagine the relief when they can call corner in your room home.

We don’t need to sit in cages and wait for a special weekend to be picked.  Our place at the table has already been set, it is waiting for us.  We have been adopted, ushered into a family without constraints, without ridicule, absent of cold or loneliness.  It is a place where we belong no matter how scrappy we look or how many miles we have traveled.  There is peaceful and comforting warmth which envelops us, if we are brave enough to embrace it.  The beauty of being adopted into this family is that it is royal.  We become sons and daughters of a King, a King of such radical love; we are incapable of describing it.  Our brothers and sisters of times past, present, and all future have also been adopted into the royal family.  The house is teeming with all ages, stages, hopes, dreams, and stories and all are accepted at the table.  There is always enough, more than enough of all that we dream.  There is more love than we can imagine, always more forgiveness, always.  There is no need to make ourselves noticed so that we will be chosen; we have been seen from the beginning-the adoption papers signed.  We belong just as we are, blameless and wonderfully created to love one another.  Imagine the joy in our Creator’s gaze as another brother or sister understands the comfort of waiting arms and runs to join the celebration already happening.

The celebration of your accepted invitation to be part of a whole family, anxious to know you, care for you, and love you; just as you are.  Come and rest.  Your searching is over and now you can breathe the sigh of relief, confident that you are where you belong.  It is a pleasure to welcome you home my brother, my sister, my friend.

But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.
1 Peter 2:8-10

Advocate

In the education circles the letters, IEP carry special significance.  Those parents whose children are on one also know the importance of those letters; they mean regular meetings, constant evaluations, and incessant conversations with teachers, administration, parents, and students.  Sometimes it seems a rat race of connections until that glimmer of hope peaks through a haze of confusion.  The onslaught of verbiage that only educationally trained people speaks.  Wading through the paperwork appears to be never-ending, as does the guilt that gnaws at the back of the mind.  “Am I the reason they have trouble reading?  Do I do something that makes it impossible for them to concentrate in school?  Are they doing this on purpose?  Who will know I failed?”

For the student, they are oblivious to the world of special education or an Individualized Education Plan.  All they may be aware is that some subjects in school may be more difficult than others, or that their attention span seems to tank around 2 o’clock in the afternoon.  They are unaware of the countless hours that moms, dads, grandparents, or other family members sacrifice in order to help them succeed.  A bag is magically packed and ready for the next day, homework is never tackled alone, and someone is always watching out for them.  They have no idea the conversations that take place over the phone, internet, or in person.  They never see the tears fall as their loved ones try every day to make today a bit easier than yesterday; never do they hear the inner voices screaming at those family members that this deficit is their fault-as if it could be blamed on someone or something.

While they remain unconscious to those moments, they are also naïve to the cheerleading and work that is done on their behalf.  Within mountains of paperwork and conversation and evaluation are people who are pulling for the success of that student.  They will join forces and stand strong to do whatever is necessary for that young person.  It may be as simple as helping to read for an extra half hour after supper, or as involved as assisting them in every area of life.  Whatever the case, the support exists and remains strong.

There are times though, when the hours are long for those fighting, when a blissful night off seems like the perfect respite.  Moments when the fight wares on the soul and the plea to be let off the hook feels like it falls on deaf ears.  There is One who hears, however.  One who chooses to stand in the midst of the fight and advocates on our behalf.        There is a constant who decided in the beginning that each life lived was worth the struggle and climbs into it with us, who will spend the extra moments in quiet prayer or tempered promotion.  The Creator who set all the stars in heaven believes that we are worth more than all creation combined and does not hesitate to enter our world and join us in whatever we may encounter.  Nothing is too large, no darkness too bleak, no amount of red tape and paperwork too daunting for the One who experienced life in all its mountain top and valley moments.   What appears overwhelming for us is a chance for the Creator to fight for and protect the beloved.  Like a mama bear protecting her cubs, we are fiercely loved and fiercely supported, by an advocate who continues to advocate on our behalf.

“As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.
Jeremiah 29:9-11

Do you See what I SEE?

It begins at 6:30 am, 7:00 am-if I am lucky.  Up from his spot on the floor, because neither of my children will sleep in their own rooms, my oldest will jump up  and run tearing through the house, looking for the next sleeping victim to rip from their slumber.  Because the youngest is a nightowl, I am lucky to see sleep by midnight…Weary and bleary eyed, I listen to my oldest son scream at planes he has made the night before and turn the TV up louder than snoring can cover.  I sigh, knowing another day has begun.

I love my sons with all that I am.  I would do anything for them and will advocate and fight for and with them my whole life.  There is nothing that I would not do to make sure they grow to the men I pray they become.  I lay awake at night and wonder what more I can do, what more I can supply for both of them.  Often, I am left still wondering and hoping I am doing the right thing….whatever that means.

I watch and I listen.  I watch what I remember as my oldest was a baby  and he fussed and fussed, who would not let me put him down–who would not let me out of his sight the whole first year.  Who continued to grow into a toddler, with a verbal expression and physical control that amazed most people.  He was shooting baskets at 2 1/2 and speaking in full sentences.  I was astounded, and already tired.  Already full of energy, able to feel his way through situations, and with an intelligence that was evident, he hurled toward toddlerhood as I brought my youngest into the world.

The gloves were off, now I had an angry 3 year old coupled with a newborn I was nursing.  I was convinced I was gonna do this right!!  no matter what it cost me in sanity.  What is right, anyway?  My oldest was livid with me for daring to bring another into the family–so was my dog.  We had to let her go when I found her using my pillow on my bed as her personal toilet.–that’s another story.

My oldest hated that child and hated/loved me more fiercely than I had seen him.  Almost exclusively attached to me, I worked  hard for him to establish his independence, which he did–and he flourished.  Even bigger gains in intelligence and understanding took place, but the energy and activity level sky-rocketed to highs that saw him clawing at the window blinds and banging his head on the wall in anger and frustration.  THIS was my first born, the one who had been with me the longest…what had I done to him?  What had I not done for him?

I remember a day when he becme so angry at my youngest that he tried to attack him with a metal baseball bat….I stepped in between and took the bat swat from my son instead…I threw the bat away as soon as I was calm enough to gather my thoughts.  That day saw my son ripping curtains in his room and clawing at the walls….I still do not know what set him off, I don’t think I ever will.

Onto my lap I pulled him and set him so his back was against my chest and rocked him back and forth like I did when he was tiny….I whispered, I shushed, I sang, he was enraged.  He threw his head against my nose, heard it crack, and he laughed.  I fought back tears and forged on…I had to save my son.  That was the longest afternoon I remember, there have been others, but none when I have been so scared.  I will never forget that, yet I wonder, what did that moment say and do to my son?  I am not sure I will ever know.

Fast forward to school and 3 solid years of worry and fear.  Test after test after IEP meetings….NO!!! he is not special ed, not able to comply or function.  He is my son and he has a name.  PLEASE!  Won’t someone see the constant chewing of fingernails and any other non-food item….please someone advise me how to handle a passionate and strong young man full of energy that he appears like a tornado the moment he wakes up and sleeps only when his nighttime med allows his body to rest.

Someone please watch his face when he is frustrated with the fact he will never be perfect and he doesa not know how to reconcile that.  Tell me what I am supposed to say to my oldest who asks me to find a gun and kill him, or continue to bang his head against the all–with his fists, or whatever is handy.  Someone please tell me it is not because I am adopted or that I had medication when I carried him or that I have genetically passed something on to him…I know all of us want someone or something to blame when there are no answers, but someone please tell me this will resolve.

I continue to watch, to monitor.  My oldest would still like to “take out” his brother.  He has said horrendous things to me, has destroyed much of the furniture and his toys, and is still attached to me like none other.  He is also sweet and understanding of global pain and heartache.  He knows about prayer and God and creation and possesses a deep spirituality which he questions with logic and inquiry.  He is smarter than any person I know at that age, except maybe my older brother….his uncle.  He is compassionate to a fault, yet will turn around and without batting an eye will choke my youngest and throw him to the ground.  There are times I cannot get there in time….when my youngest will take matters into his own hands.  Sometimes I have to let it happen, sometimes I don’t know what to do.

I am not sure what I am seeking…maybe nothing.  Maybe I am just a tired old mom, who does not want to feel so old and tired at 37.  Maybe I just want breathing room or the chance to feel like it is not my fault or that I am walking on egg shells all the time.  Maybe I want to experience my son without a bated breath of what will happen next, maybe I just want to breathe—AND!  to use the bathroom all by myself 😉

The constant noise, onslaught of questions and need and emotion from this wonder of my son–it takes a toll.  I know there are other parents out there dealing with this….I know they are my age and younger.  If someone is out there reading this who is older–please listen and see!  Sometimes when they are telling you, I need a break, they are not making casual conversation.  There are times when the pressure and exhaustion of it all gets to be too much, yet most of us (women especially) will never say when it’s too much.  They will put their head down, swallow the fatigue and guilt, and march bravely on to the next day.  We will walk out to get the mail or take out the garbage and swipe at tears coursing down our cheeks, we will rejoice in silence of a grocery store trip alone, or blare the music on full blast and sing out frustration on the way home….BECAUSE we can and we HAVE to!  We look for excuses to extend a trip alone a bit longer, when sitting with people who are older and kind and wise mean more than we can articulate.  When the idea of sleeping the day away sounds like heaven on earth.

Please, See what I see..hear what I hear…Please?

shalom,

cahl.

boundaries that bind

 

There are times that the phrase “It is what it is”, angers me to no end.  True, there is an element of release and freedom in that, but there also remain a certain resignation to it.  Does something have to be what it is?    I realize this may be a way existential question for the early morning, but since I am still “Waiting for Godot”, I assume some will let me play with that pun.

I was in a situation recently where i watched an argument ensue over something petty and silly.  I watched and I listened and I recalled all the moments I might have engaged in a similar fashion.  Watching this from a removed position provided me a bit of clarity.  “This argument would be happening whether I was present or not.  These people would be tossing around angry words and frustration no matter the circumstance or who happened to be standing there.”  How liberating for me!  How sad for them.

I wanted to jump in and rescue the conversation, to somehow fix the situation and smooth over the tension.  It was not my place.  That is a difficult moment of understanding, it makes me think of why I would be motivated to fix it.  Are my motives pure?  Do I really want to ease the tension or do I simply want to feel better in this moment?  Would  my assistance make the situation better or worse, and for whom?  Again, these are hard questions with which I wrestle, and I am not sure to what end.

I will say that watching that interaction provided my first AHA moment in a long time.  I remembered thinking that if this would be happening with or without me, then maybe much of what I based my perceptions on were false.  Yowch.  Could it be that what I took on as blame had absolutely nothing to do with me?  If that is true, what do I do with my recent discovery?

A little over a year ago I sat with my full adoption report from the state where I was adopted.  I saw all the narratives about my early months, know all the information about my biological parents, saw the reports surrounding my birth, life, and placement in a foster family, and finally–my adoption.  To say that this was the hardest read in my life would be an understatement.  I looked at it in the first week that I had it and have not referred to it since then.  There is a section in it that describes what an adoptive family would want in a baby, more specifically, the baby they would want to adopt. I smile as I read the wishes and hopes…and then my smile faded as I realize the baby that was described was the opposite of me.  The traits and personalities desired did not match up with what I was told was true of me.  The wishes would never realized in and through me.  I was and am not a calm and quietly complacent person with a lily-white past from biological parents who were simply not able to care for a baby at the time.  In fact, the opposite is true.  I remember reading that description and feeling ashamed–feeling like I had let down the family who did decide to adopt me, guilty that I could never be a pocketful of wishes that any parent would want.  I am what I am, I was what I was, and I can’t change that.

Reading those words hurt like so many knives in my chest, knowing what parents wanted and what I was and the fact they would never match is quite burdensome.  the questions bombarded my head.  Did I waste 37 years trying  to be something or someone I could never be?  Probably.  Did I push and push and push myself to fit a mold that was never cut for me?  Definitely.  Would my adoptive family looked and treated one another differently had I been more of some and less of other?  More than likely.  Can I change it now?  Not for all the money in the world.  Would I change it if I could?  Quite possibly.  Does the answer to the last question hurt worse after admitting it?  Most assuredly.

The moment of that fight mentioned earlier and the descriptions I read a year ago play into each other.  They both could serve to further bind and weigh me down, or I could look at them from the inverse.  ( think all your training on inverse fractions here)  Could I turn the concept on its opposite end and embrace a different answer?  I admit, I loathe math with every fiber of my being….but once I learned inverse fractions and grasped the ease of flipping at least one element, it sure made solving the problem 100% easier.  I could actually solve the problem instead of banging my head against my math book.  Once I learned them, I got along  happily with them and enjoyed working the problems.  NOT that I would embrace pages of them today, however.

That long diatribe on inverse fractions is to say that I am beginning to toy with the inverse of reactions.  Do I need to continue to punish myself for what I could not be–do I ignore the fighting that had nothing to do with me?  Am I ready to consider new boundaries that allow me room to move without guilt and shame?  Am I ready to embrace a blanket of health that covers function rather than dysfunction?  Although the latter feels safer and more what I recall, the inverse provides more room.  Am i ready to clip the ties of bound guilt and fear?    Only my reactions will tell.

Shalom dear ones,

cahl.

 

What FOOLS we MORTALS be!

Thank you Shakespeare for providing part of the motivation for this blog….I am not as happy about the reason I am so inspired to write on this one.  Since April, there have been 11 deaths of wonderful and giving people, I have a relationship with each person affected by these deaths…to watch them journey through that has been a learning experience for me.  Last night, the last death came the closest to my own home and family.  Oddly enough, each person who has passed, has been male…weird.

The last person was a wonderful man….a director and artist, a mentor and teacher.  He gave me a safe place to wander during study halls and lunch, spewed sound advice and good humor, and challenged my voice my senior year.  I remember the moment he called me out specifically.  I was auditioning  for my last high school play and it was a musical…”The Cotton Patch Gospel”  I was terrified to sing, I loved to sing, but i had received such ridicule from my classmates early in my hs career that to open my mouth to sing for others inspired gut wrenching illness.  Comments of how bad I was banged through my mind as I recall classmates chanting how terrible I was and how I did not belong in choir..”who is the worst of them all, cindy is.”  I can still hear them.  I remember my choir teacher telling me I would never be a vocalist, never carry the beautiful tone that so many of my classmates did…I fulfilled her prophecy by scoring at 1+ on my senior solo at contest…BOO YAH!  The night that I auditioned, the vocal portion came and I simply opened my mouth and sang.  This man, a director I had known as a friend for years looked at me in amazement…and said “where has this voice been hiding all these years.  how come no one told me you could sing, with a natural vibrato most girls would kill to have.  you have a beautiful voice, cindy.”  He called me by name, he asked, and then he complimented.  He gave me the chance to sing my senior year…a soprano..a first soprano allowed to to sing in my last production.  I fought him and the rest of the cast who also had solos during that production.  I sang with his son….and my best friend and his son’s girlfriend.  I loved him for that compliment, and I have never forgotten it.  He was good to me.

His passing makes me think tonight.  I know each of his family members and they reflected his set of values and connections.  I watched and listened to him talk of his children and I was jealous of how he spoke of them with such pride.  Although his sons were vastly different people, he treated them with grace and compassion and let them be individuals.  I like that.    His sons remain connected today…that is the mark of a good father.  Well done, my friend,

This latest event has me thinking of my own family.  They are not without their shortcomings and assets.  I wish so much for them, so much that I will never be able to say to them.  Most of the time I wish I could zap them into something they can never be.  I wish we were so much more to one another….I am not sure we will ever be.  The last couple months I have watched the families wracked with loss pull together and support one another…I have also heard the heart cries over family dynamics.  I fear what will happen when one of my parents passes.

We are not connected…I know what it is like to go decades without speaking to a member of my family.  I know what it is to spew words of hate and anger and hurt and hear them spewed back at me.  I know what it feels like to have a connection with a member of the family and then to lose it and try even harder to repair the damage…to no avail.  I look at other families and hear of their escapades, their love for one another…it tears my heart out each time.  It has been years since I celebrated a holiday with my family, years since we have sat at one table and talked with one another.  Years since I have talked to my niece…years since I have looked in the face of brothers that I have and seen them as people, much less my brothers.  I want to scream at them….I want to rant and rail and wave my arms at them, to make them see.  I cannot.  I cannot force them into a mold in which they cannot conceive.  I cannot force them to like me, I cannot force them to love me.    I wish i could.

I wish I could tell them how much I miss them, how much I wish it were different, how sorry I am for what we have done to one another.  I can’t, the damage has been done.  Angry words, violent tempers, fear, and stubbornness have driven wedges between us that even close friends can’t overcome.  I wish I could tell them how much I need them.  I want a mother who is proud of me, who would hang with me even if she were not related to me.  I yearn for a dad…a daddy who would talk with me, tell me that no matter what, he is proud of the woman I have become and that there is a part of me that will always be his daughter.  I wish my brothers and I could talk to each other and knew what we were doing apart from the snippets of conversation we overhear.  I do not know them anymore, except what I may read on a blog, see on tv, or hear from someone else.  Likewise, they do not know me.    In my gut, I shoulder much of the blame, feel most responsible for the discord, this I must let go.  I fear the time we have to plan for a funeral, the thought keeps me awake at night–knowing we will likely tear each other apart–irreperably.  We have done a disservice to each other and our children.  Would that I could repair that.  I cannot.

So many people have told me to let them go, move on, get over what cannot be and be content with what is–to make my own family and my own traditions.  Would that I knew how to do that, I don’t.  What is more, I am terrified to try.  I do not know what it means to plan a vacation and go on it.  I do not know how to plan a family gathering and have people actually show up to it.  I do not know what it looks like to partner with my brothers and their families and do something together, or to take their kids with me and my boys to do something fun.  We are nothing more than strangers that happened to live under one roof at one time.  What have we done?  How do I fix this?  I don’t.

What’s more, I have no idea how to do it differently and it scares the dickens out of me.  What does that mean, anyway..to scare the Dickens?  I know I must do it differently, that I owe it to my children and their children, but at the end of the day, I owe it to myself.  I owe myself the chance to embrace an alternate reality–now how in the world do I do that?  I have no clue.  Family systems theory calls each person to a self-differentiation–an understanding of oneself apart from the system or the status quo.  I know in my mind and in my gut what needs to happen, I have no idea how to accomplish it.  I know I want something different and that may be the biggest admission of all.  For the first time in my life, I want something different–I want more than stunted conversation, past regrets, and anger.  I want a family.  I deserve a family and they deserve me–plain and simple.

This has gone on longer than I intended and I have a big day tomorrow…I have interviews and meetings and opportunities to expand my training and education.  I must needs be present to that.  My redefinition of family will have to wait another night….Unless of course, you have input….I welcome it, more than you know.

Shalom dear ones….

cahl.

What WOULD i say?

After I posted my Father’s day message to my sons, my mother asked me via Facebook chat what I would say from a daughter to a father.  The question stumped me.  I have no idea what I would say.  As i worked yesterday, I wished each male a “happy man day” knowing that not everyone is a father, but we all came from one in some fashion.  It is the same with mothers.  Not everyone is a mother, yet we all came from a woman and were given life.  So, what WOULD I say to a father from a daughter….let me try my pen at that one….

 

1)  No hitting, kicking, screaming, clobbering, or taking any anger out on your little girl.  Reserve the physical and verbal displays of anger for working out or a good wood pile.–She will remember a lifetime the comments you make to her.

2)  She needs heroes and you are likely to be the first one she sets her sights on, let her down gently when she realizes you are not perfect–allow her not to be perfect too.

3)  Tell her every day that she is beautiful and smart and capable.  She will doubt this most every day the older she becomes.

4)  Treat her mother with all the love and care that you can, she is watching you for the example of the future mate she chooses.  Help her choose wisely.

5)  Teach her modesty in dress, make-up, and hair styles.  Remind her that her worth does not come from what she looks like, but the genuine nature of her heart.

6)  Show her it is ok to work hard and be strong–likewise allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to show your true emotions.

7)  Encourage her to ask tough questions of herself and those around her, encourage her even more to discover the answers.  Be there for her when the answers are not quite what she expects.

8)  Never take chocolate from a woman.

9)  Keep talking to her as she grows up, a time will come when you will feel awkward around her.  Remember this is a tougher time for her, she need not lose her childhood and her father all at once.

10)  Learn the difference to the names: Father, dad, and daddy.  If you are a daddy know why and count yourself amongst the luckiest men in the world.

11)  Become a daddy, she will need one her entire life and will be too scared to let you know that she yearns for one with her whole soul.

12)  Get in the dirt with her…show her it is right to get dirty and gross and smelly–remind her she is beautiful when she does.

13)  Compete with her in games…whether they be sports, mental, or otherwise…do not always let her win.

14)  Do NOT do NOT do NOT go out with her looking like a complete dork.  This will cause endless embarrassment and she will wonder what she did to make you do that to her.  REMEMBER, she is likely to take everything personally.

15)  Take her out on dates, nice ones.  Show her how to expect to be treated.  She will treasure the time to dress up and be treated like a young woman.

16)  Keep talking to her and making special efforts to connect with her as she ages.  She will fight with identity and her place and all the roles she feels she has to fill her whole life.  Remind her to breathe, often.

17)  Take her mother out and romance her…she will roll her eyes and then journal about it or text on the phone for days afterward.

18)  Let her see you cry, do not apologize when she does.

19)  Show her the appropriate way to be angry, keeping in mind controlled emotion is more powerful when coupled with logic, love, and grace.

20)  Teach her to build….campfires, bed frames, book shelves, make sure it is practical and that it can be decorated by her artful touch if she decides.

21)  Instruct her in changing a tire, pumping gas, changing oil, and basic maintenance.  This application will save her tons of fear when stranded on the road alone.  Take her call when she is out there alone and help calm her.

22) Do not tell her not to cry, be there when the tears have ended and she needs to talk it through, no matter how many times she chooses to “re-hash” the same conversation.

23)  She will love animals, foster this in her.

24)  Touch her in kind and daddy-like ways all her life…she will need that re-connection with you.

25)  Laugh with her, calling her that cute nickname from when she was tiny.

26)  Remember how it felt when she placed her little hand in yours, NEVER forget that…protect that image and that little girl as long as you can.

27)  Teach her to stand up for herself, to fight for what she believes in, and not back down from something she believes is right.

28)  Insects are freaky…take them out.

29)  Include yourself in the conversations even when it “appears” she is not talking to you.  She is watching and noting your reaction.

30)  Treat her brothers like the men you want them to be, instilling a strong sense of family and connectedness–support them when inclined to fight for their sister–bust them when they dishonor her.

31)  Do not let her become the “little princess”  boundaries and the word No have to come…gently and kindly with good reason applied.

32)  heartbreaks are real, hers will be no different.

33)  Show her the importance of faith, listen to her when hers crumbles and she knows not where to turn,

34)  Tell her that you were proud of her at every step and that you are even prouder of the woman and/or mother she has become.  Tell her WHY you are proud of her, and mean it.

35)  Offer to hang with her husband or life partner…connecting with her loved ones shows her you are interested in her life.

36)  Ice cream, dipped in chocolate…WITH SPRINKLES!!!!! Lots of em.

37)  Remind her she has a song in her soul that is uniquely hers…help her sing.

38)  Tell her OFTEN, “You are beautifully and wonderfully made.  And. I. Love You.”

 

that’s all she wrote,

from a daughter,

cahl

 

 

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