Thursday, April 28, 2011
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Throughout my life, I never really took control. I let my comfortable middle-class upbringing set the course with my parents leading the way, and I merely coasted along within that life framework, never daring to live outside the box, although always thinking outside the box! I was very introverted and self-absorbed, and the real world around me was simply secondary entertainment, a visual background, or a dream-world that I could wander through. I started off my first couple years of life as a prodigy. I was talking to adults in normal conversation before the age of 2, and reading children’s books by the age of 3. I soon discovered how to be social this curtailed my prodigious start to life, and by age 4, I was just another smart kid. Oh well. After a few years of talking to anyone and everyone all the time, I became extremely quiet and withdrawn, constantly reading a book or holding onto a book wherever I went. I had a close-knit loving family, in which I was raised well and with plenty of care and attention, but there was a missing vulnerability, tangibility, and toughness in my life growing up that I feel set the stage for my being a late bloomer in many aspects. Not to mention, I was born on February 1st of 1981, a birth date characterized by floundering around.
I was always able to skate across the surface of life and just go with the flow of things. Everything was easy-breezy. I just let my intuition and family guide me through my days growing up. I’d probably have never had a care or worry in the world if not for my aloofness, a trait I feel was given to me to remind me that I was human. At the age of 5, I got on the wrong school bus after school let out, but I wasn’t lost for too long, because the bus’s route wasn’t too much different from my assigned bus, so my parents were able to find me pretty easily. I was pretty frightened, however. I mean, seriously, when you’re only five, it’s a big deal to make that kind of mistake. A few years later, while I was staying at a summer day-care center, the kids were being entertained by one of those giant inflatable moonwalk castles. I took a break from jumping and bouncing around, and decided to lean over the edge of this moonwalk to see how high above the ground I was. In just a moment later, I got to feel how high when another day-care kid ran into the side of the moonwalk and bounced on it, sending me flying over the edge. I don’t remember feeling any pain as I hit the ground, but this time, my aloofness left me with a broken collar bone. After visiting the doctor, they had me wearing what appeared like football shoulder pads until my collar bone healed. My aloofness even followed me into my college years. I was driving back to my college town after visiting my parents in Houston for the weekend. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I was enjoying listening to a cd in the car. I was in a highly pleasant emotional state… a natural high… like riding on a personal cloud across the highway. I should have been paying attention when I started to pass the other cars, one after the other, watching them fall quickly into my rear view, as if they weren’t even moving. The other cars kept slowing down. Or maybe I was just speeding up. I wasn’t even aware that my foot was pressing down on the pedal. As I began to move downhill across the rolling terrain, my eye finally caught the speedometer and saw it hovering somewhere between 95-100 mph! The speed limit was 70. Not even a few seconds later, I awoke from my daydream state to see a highway patrol car do one of those crazy u-turns that you only see in the movies and drive across the grassy median over to my side of the highway. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, I thought, or maybe not, I thought soon thereafter, as the patrol car pulled up behind me and the flashing lights came on.
There was also the time at college when I left my brand new mountain bike outside chained to the bike rack over spring break. I may as well have just given it away to some bike thieves. I left my dorm, and drove back to Houston for the break to stay with my family. By the time I realized my mistake, I was already in the Houston area, and it was too late to turn back around. A week later, when I returned to school, my bike was nowhere to be found. I searched every bike rack around the dorm at least several times, and then contacted the school police, naïve to think that they’d actually be able to get it back for me.
Being aloof meant that my mind had a clear tendency and desire to stray from the present reality. It is actually in the future that my mind naturally travels. So when I discovered my ability to anticipate things and my tendency to see or hear words and phrases right after thinking about them, it just felt normal. These traits really began to flourish in my young adulthood, but my most impressive display of my clairvoyant ability came at the age of 9. It was the summer before 4th grade, and I wanted a dog. Not just any dog, but a beagle. I read every book I could find on beagles in the library, and even read about them in encyclopedias. I was somewhat interested in other dogs too, but absolutely drawn to the beagle. It just seemed like the perfect dog for me, but I wasn’t exactly sure why. As my passion for getting a beagle grew, I began to discuss it with my mother, and I even wrote a brief poem about my beagle imagining that I had one already. We never had to go out and look for one, because just a few days after writing the poem, my beagle came to me! I was enjoying my day outside the front of the house when I noticed a dog coming in my direction from the start of my cul-de-sac street. Then I began to make out the coloration: brown, black, and white. It was not just a dog, but a beagle! He trotted happily with a sense of purpose even as he seemed to be aimlessly wandering or journeying. I was able to coax him into my backyard, and at that moment, I just felt like I had found a lost dog, but after a while, it felt like he belonged there with us, like he was ours. We kept him that day and overnight, and we put up signs, but no one ever called or came to our house to claim him. To this day I still do not know where he came from. Was he sent to us from Heaven? I remember how we couldn’t think of a good name for him. We told my uncle about how we found a beagle that day, and how he was just boogying down the street. So my uncle suggested that we name him “Boogie”. And so without even a thought, that became his name, Boogie the beagle. He became more than just a pet. He was part of our family, and a blessing and joy in my life from my childhood to adulthood.
Another joy in my life, music, began at age 8 that would become an outlet for my creative energy. I started taking piano lessons from a neighbor down the street. In exchange for the lessons, my mother tutored her son. With this agreement working out nicely, I took lessons for five years or so, and performing in recitals a couple times a year to showcase what I’d learned. After we moved when I was 14, I studied from another teacher, also down the street from me. Around this same time, I was also playing trumpet in the high school band, which took up a great deal of my time, so I put the piano lessons on hold. I have fond memories of my time in the high school band, one of which being a halftime show performance at Texas Stadium in Dallas when our team advanced deep into the playoffs. Getting to perform on the same field that the Cowboys played football was exciting! After high school, my interest in the trumpet faded, but my passion for music, especially creating music, continued to grow. In my second year of college, at age 19 nearing 20, I decided to study piano again from my original childhood teacher.
Around this same time, I also began to compose songs on the piano, with a sound and style quite different from anything I’d ever learned in lessons. Focusing on my weekly practice assignments was a struggle, because I was so immersed in my own songwriting and this new heavy staccato sound I was creating. Even during lessons, I was only halfway focused, because my desire to create was overtaking my desire to learn. I was using the piano as my personal tool for self-expression. There was always music playing in my head, and although I was truly creating that music, it felt more like I was just hearing it. The creating was effortless. My mind just had this ability to transfer my inner emotions, positive, negative, and transcendent, directly into musical form. I was always on the piano at home, but my practice assignments took a backseat to my newfound passion for songwriting. I just had so many pieces of song material in my head, at times overflowing, so sitting down at the piano to transfer that music onto the keys was a necessity, lest it be forgotten forever.
My music could be characterized as classical and dream-like, with heavy staccato chords and playing style, and altogether raw emotion. I made the strongest music ideas into songs, and when I had enough songs written, I decided to record an album, because I could only keep the music in my head for so long. One of my high school classmates was into audio recording, so I had him come over and do a raw recording at my house, all in one long take. I wanted it to be that way. It would, to this day, be one of my greatest accomplishments.
As a side accomplishment to that, I transcribed one of my songs in musical notation onto paper by hand, with the help of my teacher. The feeling of completing the record was joyous, but the songs themselves were somber and melancholy, directly revealing my emotional state at the time. I had been in the early stages of depression for months, during which many of the songs were written, and soon after the recording, I fell into a full depression that reached its deepest point about a month after I had turned 20. I remember lying on my bed one afternoon, completely resigned to death. I lay there waiting to die, but just as I thought I had truly passed on to the other side, I felt like God was not ready for me to go yet, and I felt the voice of God saying “no, not yet, not just yet.” ...
“no, not yet, not just yet.”
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Upon being born there were already some circumstances that were going to be issues. My name at birth was Baby Boy Luckey. I know that this seems far fetched, but you will see as you read why I was given this name. The hospital staff gave me this name because my biological mother’s married name was Luckey. According to a court investigator’s report, (that took me over twenty years to see), my mother supposedly gave birth to me and walked out of the hospital leaving me behind.
She was given an ultimatum by her husband - either lose me or lose him. Because she had no family and no way of supporting me and the son that she already had, she decided to allow the state to take control. I became a ward of the state and was put up for adoption. My name was changed from Baby Boy Luckey to Christopher Bloomer after I was adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Bloomer in late February – early March.
You would think that I would have had a happy childhood. Unfortunately I don’t have many found memories of growing up. You see I grew up suffering physical, mental, and verbal abuse. I had an older sister that went through the same thing. In the 70’s there was no C.P.S. to call. If I were to tell about what was going on in the home, things would have gotten worse.
Long story short, I grew up hating my parents, especially my mother. My father would never be around to protect us. He felt that he was better off not being at home. So he would leave early in the morning, return home after work, leave again and not return until late in the evening. The only support I had at home was my sister, Patricia. We were all we had. She was my bridge over troubled water. I knew as long as she was there I would have a glimmer of hope. Reality soon struck like lightning.
Patricia graduated and left home. Patricia joined the military and made a life for herself. Now it was just me.
As a result I wound up getting in a lot of trouble. My parents could no longer deal with me. After being sent to juvenile three different times, I was sent to Abilene, Texas to a psychiatric institute. I was sent there as an alternative to T.Y.C. ( Texas Youth Commission) for behavioral problems. I arrived in Abilene, September 12, 1985 and stayed until January 17, 1987.
I returned to Killeen and enrolled at Ellison High School. I thought that maybe things would be different and for a while they were. But slowly things started changing back to what they once were. I didn’t suffer the physical abuse anymore, but the mental and verbal abuse were present and accounted for.
Allow me to fast forward a bit. From the time I was 18 until I was 37, I searched for me biological parents. It was very difficult because the state required for me to have an attorney to access records that a judge had sealed in 1970.
In 2001, a law was passed that if an adopted child wanted to access his/her records and had just cause as to why they wanted them opened, they could. In late September 2007, I was finally permitted to see what I had waited almost 20 years to see, or so I thought.
I requested and received everything in my file. I was looking for an original birth certificate that showed the names of my biological parents. Needless to say that was not in the file. However, what was in the file was an investigator’s report that detailed all of the events that led up to my adoption. The more I read the madder I got. The report stated that my mother gave birth to me and walked out.
I was enraged at this point. But I am a fair man I wanted to here her side of the story. The report listed her name and I started my search in Texas for a woman with that name.
Within a few days, I found my mother. Initially we spoke over the phone and I was shaking during our brief conversation. It was agreed that we could meet. The bitter/sweet part about all of this was that my mother was in Austin, Texas my whole life and I never knew it. She tried to locate me, but didn’t know my name and I didn’t know hers.
When we met I showed her all of the paperwork that was sent to me. She read it and was sad by what she read. She simply stated that what they wrote about her was untrue. She was forced to give me up by her husband of that time. You see, she had an indiscretion which resulted in me. She was 19 years old at the time. By that time I didn’t care about what had happened then. I could do nothing about it anyway. I told her that I was without her in my life for 37 years and I would not be without her anymore.
That was just half of the battle. I still needed to find my biological father. After much communication with my mother (the one that raised me), she let it slip that my father attended Job Corps. With me being a former Job Corps Student, I knew where all of the Texas campuses were. The only campus he could have attended when I was conceived was Gary Job Corps Center. (By the way, I am also a former Private Investigator which enabled me to find the information that I needed.) I made contact with Gary Job Corps and inquired about my father.
God shined on me and had favor for me that day because they released information to me that I wasn’t supposed to have. All I needed was his name and the state which he was from. IU provided what they requested and they gave me the city in which he came to Job Corps from. I crossed referenced his name with that city and got a hit.
I was able to locate my grandmother (his mother) and my sister ( his daughter). My biological father died in 1999. I never had the opportunity to meet him. I am told that I look just like him. I have even been told that I have a lot of his mannerisms. I am just not as big as he was. All this took place in the summer of 2008. I keep in contact with my family on a regular basis. I was without for 37 and 38 years of my life. I made a vow to both sides that I would never lose contact with them and I have kept my word
I see my biological mother 2-3 times a year. She is still currently in Austin, TX. My grandmother, sister, aunt and uncles reside in and around Clinton, La. I see them at least once a year. I do call down there on a regular basis. They were a little struck when I first made contact with them. They had no idea about me. My dad was just 16 when I was conceived. He went back to Louisiana and had no earthly idea that I even existed. Now I have all I wanted in finding out who I am.
As far as the parents that raised me, my mother is still living. She just turned 80 this past December. My father went on to be with the Lord in June of 2003. I can say this though. My father and I got very close in the mid to late 90’s until his death. I guess the old saying is sometimes people can be like Texas weather. Wait a minute and they will change. Most of them anyway. I give glory to God for that.
wait a minute and it might just change
Monday, April 18, 2011
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Thursday, April 14, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
This is the story of one of the older boys I was hanging with at Casa. Casa is full of stories like this, many of which are even more horrendous. Gil could tell you countless Casa stories of tragedy that ended in redemption as well as stories of hope and progress that ended in despair. When John heard this morning during our meeting with Gil that one of the Casa girls that he had come to love deeply was recently forced to leave Casa for reasons outside of Gil’s and Casa’s control but were not in her best interests, you could see John’s blood begin to boil. “If I found her out there, I’d adopt her tomorrow,” John said. I believe him.
Today was a great day for lots of reasons. Kurt and I made lots of progress out in the storage area, our Arvada group went into town with Gil and Becky for a KILLER dinner at a place called Tacos y Salsas in a bigger town outside of Anahuac called Cuauhtemoc (which also reminded me of parts of LA), but most of all, it was a good day because I could really sense that a lot of the boys were beginning to warm up to me (young and old). As I’ve said before, I didn’t want to force myself on them, but I wanted to make sure that I was at least presenting myself as someone who was approachable now that they’d had a couple of days to get used to my ugly mug around the place. Nearly every girl was still a little bit nervous around me with one little four-year-old exception named Anahi. More on her tomorrow.
During our craft time (painting a window ornament) I walked around and tried to help all of them, complimenting each kid’s work and making them laugh with my crappy Spanish. My ornament was a dog. As I painted it, I decided to give my dog blue paws, which a few of the kids found to be pretty amusing.
After our ornaments were done, the younger boys started to hang out with me when they realized that I was just as willing to pick them up and toss them around as the other men in our group were. Before long, Austin, Tyler, John and myself were like rides at an amusement park with boys lining up for their turn to be hoisted into the air, wrestled with, tickled or hugged. One boy in particular named Oscar just could not get enough of being lifted up and tossed around like a rag doll. He would run around 90 miles an hour with the biggest smile on his face, chase you around and jump on you until you lifted him up in the air again. Such joy in that little guy’s heart. Here are some pictures of the one and only Oscar.
When our arms started getting tired, I started another very mature game with the boys: pointing at them and accusing them of smelling bad. “Smell” is one of the only words I know in Spanish, so I could say “Tu hueles mal” (you smell bad) and they thought it was funny. When they would tell me that I smelled bad, I would look completely shocked, smell my arm pit and let out a sigh of satisfaction that you might expect from someone who just took a whiff of a dozen roses. They would crack up. “Yo huelo bien. Muy bien,” I would say. We would go back and forth for forever about who smelled the worst. They thought it was hilarious, so I just rolled with it. The joke lasted all week long and never got old to them. By the end of the week, we were only telling each other that we smelled good.
Each weekday afternoon, all of the kids get together in the common room of their dorm areas for some “devotional time”- a time where they recite some scriptures, watch some Christian-type videos and sing some songs. For some reason it didn’t happen yesterday, so today was my first “devo” with them. When I walked in, the movie portion of devo time had already begun. When I found my seat, Oscar and “Emily’s” Francisco (who I talked about yesterday) shouted “Travis!” in the middle of the movie and ran over to me to sit in my lap. The boys would play with my fingers, touch my face, hug me, even kiss me. They were so relaxed with me that both of them even fell asleep on me at one point. It felt good to let the Casa kids be physical with me and know that Gil was 100% supportive of it. Gil knows they need the hugs and kisses.
When it came time to sing, they sang some songs in Spanish, and I was impressed that they knew a few songs in English as well. But I don’t think I’ll ever forget the lesson I learned when we sang “Jesus Loves Me.” In case you don’t know this song, it’s a song that lots of Christians teach their children because of its child-like text and simple (a.k.a. pentatonic) melody. The words go like this:
Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to him belong
They are weak but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
The Bible tells me so.
These children- children with no parents, children who have been abused, children who have absolutely nothing- were singing “they are weak, but He is strong.” These kids aren’t just weak; they’re utterly and completely helpless. Remeber fun-loving Oscar from a couple paragraphs ago? His parents died in a flood. What does he have that hasn’t been given to him? Nothing. What can he do for himself? Nothing. When he came to Casa, everyone says that he was unbelievably sad and confused, no doubt traumatized by the loss of his parents. But now look at him. Full of joy. And as he sat there in my lap asleep during singing time, I realized that I’ve been singing this song the wrong way my entire life.
When I’ve sung “they are weak” for the past 25+ years, I don’t think I’ve ever been honest with myself about how truly weak I am. Too often I think that my weakness is more like the difference between me being able to bench press 200 lbs. and God being my spotter to get me up to the 300 lbs I need for a given task, and that with training, I can someday be able to carry more of the load. I guess that’s the American in me. But when you’re face to face with these Casa kids and their helplessness, you realize that our Spiritual Reality is no different. I am helpless. I can do nothing for myself. I am an orphan because of sin, and in His infinite mercy, Jesus- the Christ- has adopted me. Alone I can bench press 0 lbs. no matter how hard I try, but He can lift the weight of the entire world onto a cross. Maybe “Jesus loves me” isn’t a good song to teach our children after all. “They are weak but He is strong” gives us too much credit, and doesn’t give Jesus nearly enough.
As I realized the depth of my need for Jesus in that moment for possibly the first time, I held my tears back hoping that I could avoid crying in front of the kids. I normally don’t try to hide my tears (even though I tend to cry more than most people), but crying in front of them wasn’t an option. What was the point? I couldn’t talk to them about it, and even if I was fluent in Spanish, they were too young possibly comprehend the depth of my reflection in that moment. If I cried, they wouldn’t understand.
But then again, maybe they would.
At dinner, I sat with the boys again, even though this adorable little four-year-old girl named Anahi continued to ask me to join her. It’s pretty hard saying no to a little girl that’s as cute as she is, but I had to do what I had to do. Juan and company were enjoyable as usual. The weather had been incredibly windy (as in “blowing over cars and causing fatalities on the highways” windy) so we hadn’t been able to go outside and play sports like the older boys had been wanting to (they seemed to be pretty disappointed about this, and I was no different). Stuck inside we entertained ourselves by talking to each other and joking some more about people smelling “mal” and smelling “bien” to pass the time. And before we knew it, it was time for the kids leave for the night.
There was morning and there was evening: the third day.