Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Move Closer

I was born in Ohio on January 27, 1974. My mom was pretty much a stay at home mom but would branch out and try other jobs as we got older. She had a daycare at her house one time and also did a bit of real estate. My dad was a hard-working, never missed a day of work in his life, 100% dedicated to the company, Executive. Eventually, he climbed the corporate ladder and became Vice-President of the company. He won numerous manufacturing awards, and was even featured in Wall Street Journal. I remember a couple of years ago riding in my dad’s car and the CEO of Apple Computers called him on his cell phone.

My family history goes something like this:

My two younger sisters and I grew up in a small suburb outside of a mid-west city. We had softball in the spring, basketball in the winter, parades for 4th of July and of course St. Patrick’s Day, a good elementary school, and fun things to do with your family on the weekends like visit the zoo or go swimming at the club.

I attended CCD class each year. I made my communion and it was a big deal in the family. I got a 10-speed bike.  We had a cake, and family from around the state came. My mom was Catholic and my dad was Atheist. He has since had a change of belief.  He celebrated holidays as just holidays without the religious side to it. My mom took us to church on Sundays while my dad stayed at home.

I remember my dad as being like every other day in the neighborhood – dependable, stand-offish sometimes, but overall a very caring guy that you could trust and wanted to please. In the winter, he would take us sliding and out for hot chocolate at McDonald’s after by himself -just him and three young girls. He was the guy who took us to our practices and games. He even coached some of our games. He planted a huge garden in our backyard. He was the guy who painted, fixed, and made our house the way it was. He really enjoyed holidays and celebrated every holiday to the fullest! Every daughter got a birthday party to be held at their choice of location, every Christmas we had 20 presents each to open, every Easter we had our own egg hunt and our own basket. We got bikes, video games, clothes, jewelry, Barbies, games, roller-skates. I look back now and can’t believe it all – if I had three kids there is no way I could afford to give them all of that now! I like to remember my dad like this.

Columbus was great but in the 7th grade I noticed that a lot of the girls were “growing up fast” and I wasn’t ready yet. The girls became very materialistic and very boy crazy. I didn’t care about the things they cared about and I just didn’t feel comfortable at school anymore. I started to think less of myself. I wasn’t popular and even though we had a lot – it wasn’t enough to keep up. So when my dad said we were moving to Brownsville, Texas, I was actually a bit relieved; until I realized what I was truly in for.

Brownsville, Texas was a cultural shock! We moved there in 1987, in the middle of my 7th grade year. To be honest and blunt, I hated it at first. Everything was new and way too different for me. It was hot too many months out of the year. It didn’t have the small hometown feel I had always known. It was a poorer community than were I grew up. And also, we were a minority there. Going to the mall or the local HEB, my family stuck out. I went to a public middle school were I was again “not part of the group” or any group for that matter. Just like the mall or HEB, I stuck out at my school. Since we lived in what was pretty much a retirement golfing community 20 minutes away, I didn’t have anyone I knew at school from my neighborhood. I spent most of my 7th grade year alone and focused on school work and my only two  friends. I wasn’t the only one. My mom had no friends and this move was VERY hard on her because her family and everyone she knew was “back home”. My sisters did a bit better because they went to a small Montessori school. My dad was on the other hand was loving life.

In school, things did get better my 8th grade year. I met more friends and while I didn’t get involved in anything but band, I was happy again. We had new neighbors across the street and they had four girls so we hung out A LOT. In 9th grade, I found my nitch and had a group of friends. I played tennis and that kept me plenty busy. Things were going good.

Then…. In the middle of my 10th grade year in 1990, we moved to Windsor, Canada. I cried because I adjusted to life in south Texas and didn’t want to leave. In Canada, I attended St. Anne’s Catholic School. In the Windsor area, you can choose if you want to go to a public English school, a public French school, or a public Catholic School. My mom chose the Catholic school because that was where most of the kids in my neighborhood went. I wore a uniform and I took religious class.

We stayed in Canada until I graduated from high school and then my family moved down to Harlingen, Texas in 1992. I cried again, because I had adjusted to life in Canada and didn’t want to leave my friends. The move took place the summer before I was to attend college. In the fall, I started at Southwest Texas State. My sisters were in high school at the time. I missed my family a lot and tried to come home often that first year. Eventually, I found my niche and a boyfriend at SWT.

After two years into SWT, I kid you not, my dad moved the family up to Detroit! I stayed in Texas. I was tired of moving every 2-3 years. Every move was hard and every move was from one extreme to another. I had found friends and a boyfriend. I was settled and frankly sick of my dad and all the moves.

The move to Detroit was hard on the whole family. This was one of those make or break you points in our life and unfortunately it broke us. My sisters found it hard to make friends in high school. My middle sister let my dad know often how much she hated it there and how much she hated him for it. My dad became hard and distant. He put up a shield with us and I know he had lots of pressure from work – his boss, the union, etc. When I came home from college, my dad and I had nothing much to say to each other. I saw him as a greedy jerk. He became rude to my mom and he started to drink a lot more. The one good thing that came from moving so much was that it made me, my sisters, and my mom closer. There were so many months we didn’t have anyone to talk to or hang out with so we just hung out with each other.

After college, I married my husband and moved to Houston. I worked in retail. Then, I worked for a hospice, a job placement agency, catering business, a marketing survey company, then eventually to computer company that made software for the title industry. I was an administrative assistant to the CEO.

In 2000, my parent’s got a divorce. I was angry at my dad. I knew after the final move to Detroit that their marriage wasn’t going well. My dad began to drink and he was just plain rude to my mom. My mom never stuck up for herself when my dad made snide comments. I felt like we had put up with all the moves and all the crap he gave us and now he was just going to divorce us. Lots of anger was inside of me. I had my daughter the same year the divorce was finalized so no one on my side of the family really celebrated her birth. My mom was depressed over the divorce and every time she visited me she would reveal some other mean thing my dad did that would just make me hate him more. My dad moved to El Paso, Argentina, and Brownsville again, and eventually back up to Detroit.

We didn’t see much of each other until my daughter was baptized. Before my daughter was baptized, I went through confirmation. I wanted to set a good example for her and wanted to have all of my steps completed so I could help her complete her steps in life.

Once I had my daughter, I knew I wanted to stay at home with her but we couldn’t afford it. So, I decided to go back and get my teaching certificate. When she turned two, I was a teacher. I had my summers off to be with her, two weeks at Christmas, and one week in March. I was happy. We moved to a bigger house at that time with a pool. I sought a good therapist and worked through my parent’s divorce and now have a better relationship with my dad. I understand things a lot more and I want to have a good relationship with him. He is now married and living in Phoenix, Arizona.

I switched teaching jobs to be closer to home. My daughter went to kindergarten at my school and we were going fine but I will say that I ALWAYS missed my mom and sisters I made sure to see them every summer for two weeks and at least one holiday a year. My mom and sisters and I were always close even through the hard times.

It was around the second summer I had off that my faith took a turn uphill. Up until this point, I didn’t attend church regularly and besides my time at the confirmation classes, I wasn’t involved at all.  Until, I read a spiritual book. It intrigued me because of the title Live Your Best Life Now. My mom bought it and I started to read it and I swear to you, it changed my life.

Until then I never saw God or religion as a thing to turn to when things got tough. I tried the first thing it said and that was to believe that God will give you his favor everyday. So, I told myself that one day every once in a while I would say “God grant me Your favor today”, and sure enough it happened to me later that same day.

We were near a vacation spot in Michigan and my daughter had to go to the bathroom BADLY. I was frantically running to restrooms and they were both locked - the boys and the girls.

This man came up to me and said, "Do you need to find a restroom for your daughter?"

"Yes", I said.

"You can go on up to my condo. My wife is there, she will let you in."

Sure enough she did. I know it sounds small but this was big! First off, the guy was talking on his cellphone, by his boat, and his condo was an nice luxury thing near the water. He could have blown me off, and kept talking on his cellphone but he didn’t. He walked across the street and came up to me, to help me out.

I also had another experience where I was thinking hard one day about what was next in my life. That evening, I reached across and just picked up the Bible and it flipped open to Jeremiah 29:11 and in big bold print I started to read “For I know the plans I have for you” says the Lord. They are plans for good and not evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I was stunned and felt God talking to me. That was actually the first Bible verse I had ever read by myself in my own home.

Many times since then, I have fell to the floor, sobbing my eyes out over a family thing or a work thing, praying to God and letting him know I couldn’t take anymore. I felt comfort in doing that.

After that summer I started to attend church more regularly and I did perpetual adoration for two years on Sunday night from 7-8. I started reading Max Lucado books, praying the rosary once in a while, and praying to God every night.

In January, I told my husband I wanted to move to be closer to family. We decided to make 2008 the “Year of Change”. We put our house up for the market and left notice at our jobs. We waited and waited and waited for an offer on our house. My sister-in-law told me about Novenas. She told me to pray the St. Joseph Novena. I did and on the last night of the Novena, I kid you not, the realtor called us at 10:00 that night to say someone made an offer on our house! I called everyone I knew and told them about the St. Joseph Novena story.

Once our house sold, the next thing was to make the move to Round Rock. We did in June. I needed a job – bad. We couldn’t get a house until we did. We lived with my sister-in-law and her family. It was hard not knowing when and if you were going to get a job. One night I locked myself in the bathroom and cried hard and begged Jesus to get me a job. Sure enough – later that week I had an interview and then a job offer on Friday. Again, I kid you not!

There is this song called “Jesus Bring The Rain”. The first time I really heard that song in the car I got choked up. The song talks about this guy not minding the trials of his life because it brings him closer to Jesus. I thought to myself that maybe the move and lack of job over the summer has really brought me closer to Jesus. And how true that song really is.

God, grant me Your favor today

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Jack Johnson - Broken (w/lyrics)

Wife of War

I was raised in a very small community.  My father wanted to "protect" us from the world around us.  I went to a small school with only 12 kids in my class.  I was a shy child, but now realize that I have always had an inner strength.  I learned to love God at an early age and my faith in Him has grown stronger over the years.  

I was a naive young lady in high school.  My parents decided to pull us out of the small school.  I then attended another small school- this one had about 50 in my class.  It was at this school that I had my first real taste of the world.  I met a young man and we quickly became friends.  Friendship led to dating and now that man is my husband. 

I became pregnant while he was a senior and I was a freshman in college.  We got married when I was seven months along- he had graduated one week earlier.  He got a job one week after that and the baby was born one month later-that little one decided to come early.  

Two years later, we had another child and my husband decided to join the military.  I thought, "this is exciting, maybe we will get to go to another country for a while!"  Ahh, to be young and naive.  

We did not make it to another country, as a matter of fact, we did not even leave the state we lived in (and still live in).  Over the course of seven years, we were together three and a half.  The other three and a half, he was in a different country.  That does not include the times he spent doing month long trainings away from the house.  

Through those years, my independence developed strongly.  I mentioned I have always had an inner strength, well it just got stronger.  We seemed to be happy when together and I enjoyed my little world when he was gone.  I had no idea of the torment he was going through a lot of the time.  I don't think he did either.  We both are people who always try to make the best of things.  He is a workaholic and I am a doting mother of four.  I also home schooled during these years and still do.  We were happy.

My husband got out of the military in 94 after a tour to Iraq.  Three years later, I found out he has a severe drug problem.  I have been asked how I didn't notice anything, but you would have to know our relationship to understand.  My husband is an "avoider" and has become quite an exceptional liar.  I am a peacemaker and still naive- yet not nearly as I used to be.  I want to believe the best.  My husband was diagnosed with PTSD from his experiences in Iraq.  Unless you know someone with this disorder, you cannot begin to imagine what it does to a person and those around them.  

It is now six years later and we are still struggling tremendously.  There are times when I want to give up and call it quits- those times torment me.  I am a strong Christian and believe I must do everything in my power to strengthen my marriage, not tear it down.  But drugs and PTSD are a very confusing thing to deal with.  There is no straight answer on how to make it better.  It is a daily struggle and a constant worry.  There are many times when I go over and over in my head what we've tried and not tried.  What can I do different?  What have I tried?  What have I not tried?  

I spend a lot of time in prayer.  I am not angry, I am frustrated.  I still love him.  He has such a good heart.  
I must be strong for my children.  They need me.  

My husband did not come home again last night.  I got up this morning, got on my knees and asked God to carry me through another day.  That is where I find my peace.  I know that I can trust in Him.
what can i do differently?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Finale... A Tribe Called Tres

It ends here...This has been cathartic for me...Hopefully, you will have taken something away form this, too...

This last piece was from my flight back to NYC, hovering over LaGuardia at 35,000 feet in a holding pattern to land...  Looking out of my window, it seemed like 
the sun was floating on the clouds, like we were, settling into its evening mode, playin' its position in the night sky...The result of this view?

If I could Dance on Clouds...
If I could Control Crowds...
If I could Make all 
the Best Songs,
If I could Right all of My Wrongs...
If I could Revive 
the Dead...
If I could simply Clear My Head...
If I could add about $999,999 to my dollar
If I could whisper instead of "holla"
If I could be Understood as well as I Understand
If I could Grab 
the Fortune, eff being The Man!
If I could commit My Love to just One
If I could just make Life fun
If I could escape all Stereotype
If I could give You Substance instead of Hype
If I could ease your Pain
If I could Retaliate instead of Refrain
If I could Pave a path of Gold for Cameron, My Diamond
If I could Rap, I guess I'd be Rhymin'
If I could just Make a Difference & do some Good,
If I Could...
My son is all I have..He is my reason for breathing...My resurrection...A new & better me..No, WAIT! A once & forever great Him...  I just hope I have poured enough cement for a proper foundation for him... he is building his home in Life right now... I know it will stand...

As per us-u-al, you know 
the deal...

i know it will stand

Ed O.G. & Da Bulldogs - Be A Father To Your Child

Thursday, September 16, 2010


The Part Deux, Good Dad Hunting

If You Could Hear What My Soul Is Saying...

Heart Sounds...

I loved you for so long that I know 
the sound your heart makes when I throw verbal blows that cause your face to ever so subtly twist in pain...
And I am wrong...
You are struggling so hard to keep you head above water dealing with me, Love...
And I am tryin' to turn 
the faucet on, full blast.  I am sorry...but I'm hoping you can swim.
Giving you every reason NOT to believe in what My Soul was trying to create...make it a real life force to reckon with...
But I just kept messing with 
the picture you were trying to paint.  You said you loved it, but you were growing indifferent...and fast!
the truth was you saw no value...
Insecurity is a weakness that destroys men & 
the women who love them.
It makes it hard to recognize what's genuine & what's not...And it exposes boys when 
the shit Life dishes gets too hot...
And I am wrong for faulting you for being something you are not
I have yet to break that mental barrier.  
The Rites of Passage Program is supposed to help me become a carrier of the race.
Yet I stand in 
the faces of everyone I know like I am living the right way.
They must know I am not...Don't have 
the energy to call them out, too.  The charade I carried out meant I didn't give a damn...And we weren't going be anything...Though I claimed otherwise...The song I sang was limited...The lyrics were played...And you are/were angry you stayed
But I am sorry..NOW..this time...AGAIN!

No..You are sorry...Sorry because you tried to show me how this picture really looks.
You are just an imperfect woman seeking righteous salvation through your make a mine, too!  Building a foundation is your main motivation. My interpretation is mine, not yours.
And I apologize for putting pressure on you to help me when I didn't truly care to help myself...nor help you build US on this fertile ground.

I am sorry I may not be around for you to see 
the seeds you planted within Me grow to maturation...  Righteousness, honesty & truth will be born unto me...They will set the example for me to see what I should have been doing all along.
Reality hurts...and can be brutally open & unnerving...Honesty, truth & righteousness will deal with me on 
the justice level.
This is not for you to do...You have guided me this far.
Only they will bring change to my heart...

They will have loved me for so long when I have rejected them that they will know 
the sound my heart makes when they throw verbal blows that make my face ever so subtly twist in pain. 
And they will be right...

See, I am struggling so hard to keep my head above water...And they will be turning 
the faucet on, full blast.
And they will be sorry, because they know I can swim...
the midst of our Cold Winter, I finally learned that in you, there is an Invincible Summer...
You know 
the resume' for the day...Darts or Flowers...

Last of 
the Trilogy, in a few...

insecurity is a weakness

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Trilogy, The Fatherhood

Now, I know it's been been a long time...I shouldn't have left you..TIME'S UP, sorry I kept you...Thanks, William Griffin for the inspiration (for the hip impaired, you may know him as The God, Rakim Allah). Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled programming...

It's been a minute since I was last here, but being a father has been on my mind a great deal lately...The cost of fatherhood...The cost to the child of a father absent in the physical most of the time, though he is present in the heart, soul & mind...Is it ever enough...Escaping the shadows of my past, mistakes made by my male life giver, seemingly repeating themselves in obtuse ways through me...manifesting themselves in my relationship with the one I cherish most...I am never free of these thoughts & feelings.

I have been thinking about what exactly it is for me to be a father. Sure, I helped to make my ManChild over some 9 years ago, but what does it mean to be his father? Certain circumstances in my Life, both with his mother & within me, have occurred, conspired, ...well...Fact is, I feel like I am missing out in the best years of my son's Life & as a result, missing out on mine as well.

I have not walked him to school on the first day of classes since the first time he ever went to school...have never taken him to a karate practice or a baseball game... But, I have taken him across the United States on trips, taken & participated with him in his first basketball camp, took him to his first swim classes & taught him how to cook. His first meal? Spaghetti...He did everything...I just supervised..He was great. When we finally sat down to eat, he asked me "Dad, is it good?", to which I replied "Baby, it's the best thing I have ever eaten!". It was nearly as priceless as the slow, sly grin that crept across his face upon hearing my pleasure with his culinary skill:)!

Maybe I say all of this to justify my absentee try & somehow make myself feel better about the distance, in the many miles between & the heart sounds, between me & one of the few things I feel I have really done right in my Life...A jagged little pill to swallow, yes, but one I have been dealing with & must deal with, at least for now.

The plans are...the plans are what we make when Life is happening, right... That makes me smile... That statement is so true as it relates to my Life. I have birthed some of the greatest ideas & plans, only to see them aborted & strangled out of existence. This has not always happened by some outside forces, as my ego is wont to try & assuage me, but by my own "doing" or lack thereof...

I mean this in no disrespect, but my goal with my son was to be a better father, drastically different than the one I had...My Dear Ol' Dad (God Bless the Dead)..I wanted to be everything you were not as a father, a parent, a friend, a mentor & guiding light... In many ways, I have avoided it. But, with the distance between my son & myself, I begin to see certain disturbing similarities, no matter how hard I try to ignore them...

I am not physically there for him everyday, to wake him up for school, eat a bowl of cereal with him, take him to school, help him with his homework...go to karate or basketball practice with him, toss a football & play video games with him...I think you get the picture! These facts eat me alive daily. Calling him alot helps some, but offering love, wisdom & support fiber optically or digitally does not a father/son relationship make!

I have this feeling that one day when he's older, I will be confronted with "Why?" & "Where were you when I needed you most?" It is the inevitable...I went through the same with my Dear Ol' Dad, confronting him on who he really was & what he really meant to me... The irony of my situation with my Dad is that he was in the home with me, but I didn't know him. He was emotionally bereft, outside the occasional barking of orders or flashes of passionate anger... He was not involved in my Life at all, truly. I resented him for years...for all of the things we missed out on sharing together when I was younger... That is until one day in my mid-20s when I realized, while looking into the beautifully innocent eyes of my infant ManChild, that I could never expect to change my father into the man, the father I wanted...needed him to be. I chose to begin forging some semblance of a relationship with my father. I could no longer be bitter about not really having a past with him anymore. I had new memories to make, both with him & with my own son... I had to look at tomorrow...and the day after yesterday, to start anew...

Recently, I was privileged enough to view a documentary film short that was nominated for an Academy Award this past year called Hardwood. It is, at its core, a story about the power of redemption & the healing of the bonds between fathers & sons, especially black sons & fathers. It struck me on so many levels...My emotions & thoughts raced out of control. The final scene was particularly poignant. The documentarian's older half brother reads a poem he wrote expressing his feelings toward a father who, all at the same time, had guided & dismayed him in the past, only to be forgiven, despite the scars inflicted. He never actually gave the title, so with all respect due, I will offer it here & re-print his words for you to see:


There are some things I had to figure out...Painful
There are some things I never had to figure out...Thankful

I had to figure out how to be honest to my sons' mother, to be a husband to their mother & not try to own their mother, my wife, my woman...
To keep my hands off my sons' heal my past pains so that I have room to absorb my sons' pains when they come...
How to be present, even when my money is not right, because he is in high school & there are things that he can't learn from high school buddies about women, fighting, drugs, drinking, Life...that I can't tell him in drive-by lectures.

But, there are things I did not have to figure out, things you taught me well...
I never had to figure out how to get myself up early every morning to work long hours away from my family, to support my family...
How to go on family trips...How to dance around the house with my son...How to hold my son's hand...How to let my son know I am disappointed without breaking his spirit...
How to show my son how to take something apart around the house to fix it & not be able to put it back together again...How to make my son think I am the strongest & toughest man in the world..How to cry in front of my son...How to blame their mother for being late to everything...
How to love my sons in a way that, no matter what I do or not do, no matter where they go or what they may do, they'll always be able to know in their hearts that I love them...

I love them...
I love them...

There are some things I had to figure out...Painful
And there are some I never had to figure out...Thankful

I will allow you to ingest that soul food now & hit you with my own on the subject that I wrote, one in July 1996, on some airline napkins 35,000 feet over LaGuardia Airport in NYC & the other in 2002, courtesy of a rare, but nasty argument with the mother of my ManChild...

Details at 11...

plans are what we make when Life is happening

Horace Silver "Song For My Father" (1964)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Jack Johnson - My little girl

"The Ecstacy and...... (Part 2 continues with The Agony" below)

It was on the morning of September 6th 2001 when my world was first rocked. My wife was having a scheduled C-section that morning at 8am, but I was there around 6am for prep along with my parents. I was about to become a father for the first time. In no way was I overconfident that I would know what I was doing. This was a trait I learned from MY father. NEVER underestimate any challenge or anybody. I remember putting on the hospital scrubs and that mask on my face and thinking "Nope, not cut out out to be wearing this garb on a regular basis. Doesn't look too good on me either." Once I was outfitted, a nurse asked me if I wanted to watch the birth of my daughter from side A (The side where all the action occured) or side B (The other side). Not wanting to underestimate what I was about to view, I quickly chose side B. I could have chosen side A, but I thought it would be inappropriate to ask the medical staff if I could have a shot of Jack Daniels. Shortly thereafter, I was holding our new baby girl. It was exhilarating, but yet odd at the same time. Again, I was thinking, "You mean I'm TOTALLY responsible for your well being now"? To me, a daunting thought indeed. However, I knew this was one responsibility I would be taking very seriously. "Never underestimate any challenge." The next 5 days were as you might expect. There were lots of hugs, kisses, diaper changes, late night feedings, burpings and spit ups. I had taken some time off from work and my wife was on maternity leave. As any first time parent knows, it was an eye opening experience, or should I say eye closing experience since we weren't sleeping much. This was one ACTIVE little girl. To this day that characteristic holds so true. I was "in love" again. I jokingly thought to myself, "Is this what they mean by TOUGH LOVE"? I'm not certain I'd ever been this exhausted, but yet I was mesmerized by this tiny little baby and that she was my daughter. "My Little Girl" turns nine this week. She is a beautiful burst of energy. It would not be inaccurate to call her the energizer bunny of the family. She's outgoing and generally cheerful, a sunny disposition indeed. It's utterly fascinating to watch her grow up, especially for someone who loves to figure people out, like me. Sometimes I wish I could slow things down a bit. "My Little Girl" is beginning to grow up.

Good People - Jack Johnson - With Lyrics

The Agony"

Five days after my daughters birth, I was at home helping take care of my infant, when there was a knock at my bedroom door around 8:45 am. It was my father. I'm paraphrasing but I think he said, "Son, I think you may want to come out here and take a look at the t.v. A plane has just slammed into one of the World Trade center buildings in New York." A little bleary eyed, I walked into the family room and looked at the horrifying events that would continue to unfold. The second tower was hit by another plane and people were beginnning to jump off of the buildings. The Pentagon was hit by a third plane and there was mass hysteria in both Washington D.C. and New York. Speculation was rampant that a fourth plane may be headed for the White House. Really? I can't believe what my eyes are seeing. Thankfully, Todd Beamer and others, "Let it Roll" and ensured the symbol of our nations government wouldn't take a hit as well. Looking back nine years, it's hard to believe it, but Osama Bin Laden was not a household name at that time. Oh, I knew who he was. I've always been addicted to the news. I was just having a hard time wrapping my arms around the fact that this guy who frequents caves in Afghanistan was wreaking havoc in two of America's most important cities. Again, my mind was churning. "Does this guy have any idea who he's messing with"? Heck, my father worked for the world's greatest military for 23 years. I knew "our boys" would end up taking care of business. I remember looking at the t.v. screen a few days later as George W. Bush was in New York City standing in the back of a pickup truck with his arm around one of the firefighters. He had a megaphone in one hand and his other arm was wrapped around the man's shoulder. I began to get chills going down my spine as he said, "I hear you. America hears you. And the people who knocked those buildings down are going to hear from all of us soon." The New York crowd went wild. I was proud to be an American. Moreover, I thought, "man you ticked off the wrong city and country". The big apple and the U.S. Military are forces to be reckoned with. I had a lump in my throat and I felt a sense of U.S. pride. I was cheering inside already for our boys about to go and battle. "Never underestimate your opponent".


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thirty Days of Wonder

I’m stubborn. I am SLOW to come about fully believing in something, but when I DO? I buy in completely. I am also one who wonders. 

I wondered what would happen if I quit watching rated R movies. 

I wondered if I can run a marathon.

The evolution of a 30 day challenge was a long one. See, I’m a teacher... and I’ve always felt it was unfair that I get the summers off, while the rest of the world works. I decided to be super responsible with my time. The challenge went like this: could I go 30 days without social media, sugar, dairy, artificial sweetener, nitrates, nitrites, preservatives, and grains. 

I wondered: how would my body respond.

FOOD was what started it all.  I approached this as a challenge, with the idea that I was sorta pressing the reset button in my food world-stripping out all the things that I knew weren’t really good for me. What I found!

1) Digestive issues that I’ve had all my life have disappeared.
2) My addiction to sugar & sweet stuff WAS WAY bigger than I realized.
3) It actually could be conquered.
4) What I eat actually has implications on how I feel physically and emotionally.
5) Food is NOT vital to every celebration. Imagine that!!

FAMILY Wow…I found that when I didn’t run to social media sites to read/post, I had a lot more time to interact with my family. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the opportunity to keep in touch with family, former students, and friends from all over the world. The chance to send birthday greeting and have a window in your world thrills me.

What I found? I really enjoy MY kids. Due to their summer activities-I’ve been able to spend loads of time with them one on one. I respect and admire them. I don’t always necessarily relate to them, but I LIKE them. And my husband? He’s tirelessly supporting my endeavors- and cheering me on. He's encouraging through the good and bad. I am one blessed woman.

FITNESS I have wrestled with my endeavors in the gym.  When it comes to working out and
prayer-those two areas really need to be accomplished in the first part of my day or they simply aren’t gonna be done very well. So the struggle became: if I prayed/did bible study I neglected taking care of my body.  If I went to the gym instead, I felt like I sacrificed my spiritual well being.

It feels good to be strong enough to tackle any physical endeavor that comes into my day. I desire to play with my kids, my little godson and even my students. Somehow the ability to conquer things like a pull up or push up translates into the ability to face the struggles of everyday life.

FAITH The challenge really made me examine lots of areas of my life. Eating ‘clean’ unleashed an amazing amount of energy, a tremendous sense of physical well being, the ability to sleep deeply and uninterrupted for longer than I have since pre-kids/dogs AND physical stamina beyond what I ever thought possible in my small stature.

The question that kept prodding me was this- If the careful monitoring of what goes in my mouth produces tremendous results, what would happen if I carefully monitor what goes in my eyes (TV, movies, magazines, books), and my ears (music, conversations, etc)?

I HAVE to wonder….what amazing results lie on the other side of THAT?
Matthew 5:8 says, “blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.” I don’t think that JUST means ‘in heaven’-I think that means we get to see glimpses of God here on earth….in the form of a kind word, a bit of encouragement, a hug, peace, hope. I sure wouldn’t want to muddy the water of opportunity to see God because I made poor choices.

Of course I’m fully aware that I am incapable of perfection and the challenge of living in THIS world with pure input is gonna be difficult…but I’m ready for the next phase of life.

I’m ready to tackle ANOTHER 30 day journey, because I truly believe God created each of us for a purpose. I believe He creates us for BIG things…and I think it’s time for me to live up to my potential.

i have to wonder

Brand New Set of Rules by Mick Jagger