November 29, 2008

Don't do as I did!

Some years ago, while cooking, a pot caught fire. My future son-in-law reached for the faucet to fill something with water. I calmly but firmly said;

"Jorgie!! never put water on this kind of fire"

"Hmmm...that's right...what is it you pour on it???"" he responded equally as calm as the phone rang. "I can't talk now...your mom started a fire in the kitchen...bye" he hung up.

We both burst into laughter as I reached for the baking soda, while the phone rang incessantly off the hook. Fortunately the fire was out in no time, and Jorge finally answered the phone.

"No, nothing's wrong, we're fine!...oh the fire, I put it out, you know how your mom is...." he hung up laughing.

But it wasn't so funny several months ago when I was up at 5 am cooking. Standing next to the stove, I had put some oil in the cast iron frying pan and turn it to high . Suddenly I heard the "Swish" a fire makes when it ignites. I immediately did all the wrong things, and as I did it in one swooping motion, I KNEW it was wrong. I moved the pan to the sink and turned the water on! Yes I did!!! Immediately flames soared high. I assessed whether it would catch the curtain immediatelly; if it had I would have called 911 first, but I knew I had a second or two so I grabbed the rug, wet it and threw it on top of the whole mess... the fire went out. Even when you know what to do, in a second you could do the WRONG here is a visual!

November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday

...…it asks nothing, no gifts to buy, no costumes to think up, no cards to send, you don't have to do a thing….. it’s just there, a legitimate day for stuffing ourselves with good food, watching parades or football or just hanging out with friends and family OR doing nothing at all! I always loved cooking in the kitchen with activity bustling around me. There were a million calls to my sister and most of all I loved cooking with my girls!!

Thanksgiving is also a subtle hint that gently reminds us to ask the question “”What AM I thankful for?” Many are blessed beyond measure; the day itself could not contain all their words if we started reciting our blessings at sun-up and finished deep in the darkness. Sometimes we have overshadowing burdens too many to count. But Thanksgiving is not about the ‘haves and “have-nots”. It’s about being grateful no matter what we have, it’s about letting that gratefulness spill out in words and deeds; But most of all it is a gift we give ourselves, for it strangely changes us.

Gratefulness was rather an obsession in my life and I am sure I never afforded my children much opportunity to be ungrateful without a reprimand and a certain amount of shaming (Sorry girls!) But for me, the attitude of being thankful always brought me back to center, it was a place where all the drama I could create daily was quietly calmed by remembering how blessed I was. When times were hard I would drag out my proverbial “THANK YOU” list. You know, a precursor to the beautifully published gratefulness journals? I’d start by saying, “I cannot think of a thing to write!” But slowly…faces of my children came to mind, the sun that shone brightly in the blue Florida sky, and so the list would begin. Most of all, the God that seemed far, gradually became closer like a loving parent. Over the years even my sorrows became my blessings. And all my thankfulness to God strangely became His gift back to me, I think that's why I love Thanksgiving so much, it can bring something to everyone, it gives hope.

November 2, 2008

The Butt-inski

As the bus pulled up, a very big young man sauntered up to the front of the line. Oh my gosh, I thought, he's going to cut right in line! What a jerk!! Here in the USA no one cues up for public transportation. It's like a mad dash, it can get a little nasty too. The only exception is the luxury Commuter Express 34 bus; there is no standing, people line up quite nicely and are counted off as the seats fill up. Most nights cutting in line would be a problem, it would mean someone at the end of the line would not get a seat. But this was not the case tonight, only 15-20 had cued up in a rather unorganized line for the last bus of the night.

"Did you see that?!" I spontaneously asked the girl in front of me.
"Yes" she said wearily, "I'd say something but you never know what people will do."
"True...but I am sitting next to him!" She shrugged, "Whatever, who cares." And I was thinking, she probably doesn't have as many issues as I do.

Climbing on the bus I found him in the third row, sprawled over 2 seats. Though not that tall, his upper body was huge, thick and a football player, his shoulders alone would fill a seat and half of the other.

"May I please sit there?' he had to get totally out of his seat to let me in. I sat down pleased with myself, thinking of how I'd tell him off. I snapped pics of this smart-aleck kid with my iPhone. "I will blog about this"......but before long, feeling a little silly I was asking myself a few questions like, what is wrong with you?? Who made you the bus monitor? You hate people who try to straighten kids out like this. Look around ginny...nobody cares that he cut in line, they are too tired and not to mention the bus is EMPTY!!

I peered out the window at the darkening sky, then I caught the look on this boy's face. He looked tired and pensive. Just shut-up and let it go!! Tapping his immense arm, oh so lightly, he jerked in my direction.

"Do you know why I sat next to you?" he looked at me like I was crazy and then I said "I was really angry at you!" He immediately asked why and I launched into my defense of proper line etiquette, all the time sensing there is something bigger here. He listened patiently, and I wasn't feeling any better.....just worse! How ridicules I thought! He spoke when I finished.

"I never take the bus and in school no one ever got in a line, I didn't know...I'm really sorry I didn't even notice." Oh dear..who's the jerk now? I swear I always get caught when I do things like this!

"I was in jail all night! " he bemoaned, "I didn't sleep, eat or even shower, I guess I wasn't paying attention" Then I told him I was sorry, that he must need the whole seat to rest and of course he didn't know about the stupid line rule. He then pulled out one of those envelopes everyone gets when they leave the 13th St jail.
The story of the previous night tumbled out of his mouth. The officer had pulled him over and gave him 5 tickets. I perused the tickets, trying to sift through the details as the young man turned toward me. Still not believing you go to jail for 5 non-moving violations, I asked him if he had been rude to the officer. He was emphatic that he had not been.

"I begged him not to tow my car." He had just gotten it and was taking the girlfriend for a spin without proof of registration or insurance. He appeared today before the judge and was released. He pulled out the arrest report and handed it to me to read. It was neatly typed with the facts, just the facts. I read the first page, and turned to him,

"I think it was the gun that threw the cop over the edge" I said thoughtfully. "Was it registered?"

"Yes!! It is, I use it for my work and I did exactly what they told me in the class. When he came to the car I kept my hands on the steering wheel and told him there was a registered weapon in the vehicle. I don't know how I'll get my car out now and look at all these tickets!?"

We talked about his life. Suddenly it was his stop! He jumped up to leave, but not before extending his hand to me. My hand is hidden in his ..."Thanks so much! Sorry about the line!" I watched as the boy fadedinto the darkness. He bears the name a a man who spent a lot of time in jail, I say a prayer for the him, feeling humbled... the story is always more than you know.

August 24, 2008

What can I say...if it applies...apply it!

This woman is my new best friend, she shook me out of my two week depression...she's Rosanna Guadagno, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama. Today I came across her study of three hundred student bloggers. While I was not willing to pay for her research paper, it states that women bloggers tend to be more neurotic. It was just what I needed to move me up and out! I set my little timer and off I went!
On the other hand...300?? That seems like a very few compared to the millions of bloggers out in cyber space...many of which I have spent my time reading since I've been depressed. Many are not American woman, many have amazingly interesting topics they blog many I could not name them all! Unfortunately, numbers are always the name of the game in today's world, but 300?? And college students at that?
Oh well...Dr. Guadagno is still my new best friend! Nobody wants to think of themself as neurotic, even if they are....and besides, I already finished the wash and kitchen! My depression? That's a blog for another day.

Aren't kids great?

August 19, 2008

Olympic Angst

Kindness Girl's take on the Olympics is where I have been camped all week! Good, bad....watching gives me so much angst (though I haven't had Braxton Hicks for 30 years! ) The emotions just pull me in till my stomach hurts. Like an alien with incredibly long spindly fingers and toes, Michael Phelp's lanky body smoothly forges ahead of the others; but I am still wondering about the swimmers behind they still have hope for a medal or do they know they will never catch him? Chinese gymnast Cheng Fei won the bronze for the vault even after falling, and finished 7th in floor exercises, but she was expected to take gold. She sees her family once year, her life has been committed to earning gold in Beijing. Her countrymen still love her, as do we but how does she feel?

Alicia Sacramone be remembered as the gymnast who cost the US a medal in the finals?

And it isn't just the's their moms, their dads, the brother, the sister, the wife holding a baby, their coaches...all watching with great anticipation. They too have been on the journey. Everyone has a story, most involve years of hard work, dedication and commitment. So I wonder about those who swim their hearts out, but will never catch Michael Phelps'. Or those who get eliminated when they stepped over a line or inadvertently fell into the pool. And how about those young athletes who are predicted to "take it all" but they just don't. It isn't just a sport, it is their life, their very heart, their story.

I probably do not understand it all, not being much of a sports I leave them all with a blessing, whether you won or lost at Beijing. .......May your dreams come true even if it does not happen in the pool, balance beam or track...may all your efforts, hard work take you to a place of true contentment where your story has a very happy ending and peace fills your heart.

August 9, 2008

Olympics 2008- Beijing

Last night we watched the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. I am incapable of describing it, what an amazing display of creativity!! The combination of centuries-old art forms and state-of-the-art electronics, plus fireworks for a thousand Fourths of July left us speechless. The beautiful Chinese traditions and stories were woven together with unbelieveable technological feats. It was long but never lost our attention, each part could have been the finale, it was so unbelieveable. Lovely as it was, it seemed like a greater message was being sent, unsettling for one who follows the news in Sudan, Burma, and Tibet.

Kevin Garside's article was thought provoking.
"Tibet, Burma, Sudan and the colonisation of Africa are the issues routinely raised to keep the dragon in check; human rights the moral stick to beat the beast into submission. Don't waste your time. This was history set to music and dance, every step reminding Bush and assembled world leaders that Beijing stands at the centre of a universe every bit as legitimate as those born of Greece or Rome"
While the spirit of the games is beautiful, China's ever reaching omimous hand silently stretches towards far away places like Sudan. There people suffer daily from the oppression of a government dependent on funding from China. Would there be so many civil wars in Africa without foreign nations supplying guns and weapons while greedily standing in the wings waiting to snap up their rich national resources? The games will soon be over but people will daily awake and live with to the decisions China makes in their far away land. I hope we never close our eyes to that.

August 8, 2008

What makes a GREAT athlete??

“.... my philosophy toward sports is a cliché: it isn't so much the result that makes me proud of an athlete or a performance; it's the effort. It's how an athlete handles wins and losses, it's attitude. And it's about understanding that being great at a sport doesn't make you a great person.” Excerpt from TIME magazine by Dan Jansen 4/30/06

Today I read the wonderful comment Dan Jansen made in an online TIME article about Joey Cheek. It expressed what I have not been able to put in words for years. Truthfully I have been a critic of professional sports figures and have often times missed all the wonderful men and women out there who have used their talents to give back to their community and world. Stereotyping is a bad thing most of the time, so I want to give a shout out for Joey Cheek. He put his money where his mouth was when he gave his bonus medal winnings, earned at Torino for speed skating, to the Darfur cause. Since then he has co-founded TeamDARFUR, an international coalition of athletes committed to raising awareness about and bringing an end to the crisis in Darfur Sudan.

In a country where the average fan idolizes sport figures, will buy endorsed shoes and clothes but could not even afford a ticket to a game or the Olympics, it is wonderful to know there are people like Joey Cheek and many others who will set an example and give back to the community and world.

August 5, 2008

$%!!#&^Pet Peeve ... the Chit-Chat "F" WORD

I am soooo over the profanity everywhere you go… Cursing is so commonplace today that few people truly notice. Especially the F-word!! My husband tells the story of seeing a man cussing on the street when he was a small boy in Bridgeport, CT and how they “hauled the guy away in a paddy wagon” (wow…that ages you Babe) for swearing in public. Now my Jim has been known to exaggerate from time to time, and I often thought the guy was probably disorderly or drunk but the point is, there was a time when swearing was not acceptable.

I am not so sanctimonious to say I don’t swear myself, I do. But remembering back several years I think of a client who came to our office one day. She sat drawing for a couple of hours. It was quiet and a rather peaceful time as she began to reflect back on her childhood. Remembering warm memories of good people left behind, far from the ugliness that brought her into care…it touched a chord in her heart and ours as we silently imagined a past that might lead to a future. A while later, her harried young case manager appeared to collect her, a casemanager at end of her rope, but the child had been tangling from hers for a long time.

The day ended sadly, a confrontation in the small visiting room across from our office, quiet voices of the staff trying to seek the right path, escalating conversation, police, scuffling and metal cuffs banging against the large glass window. But ingrained in my memory is the shouting of 14 yr old, screaming over and over at the top of her lungs “F-you!! F-you!! F-you all!!!!” Screams unleashing all the pain she ever felt…endless, endless pain. They were good words she was using, true words…and they were not ugly enough…surely there were worse words for the occasion?

So when I think about the F word…that’s the day I remember and I think it should be reserved for times like that. Shouldn't you save a bad word for a very bad time? Of course that would make it very subjective...that's okay too. Maybe your bad is nothing compared to my client's but it's your bad time. I will not judge another's pain...but the chit-chat has to stop!
Interestingly there is an actual organization called Cuss Control Academy, they actually get paid ($1500) to come out to your company to give a presentation about the negatives of swearing in the workplace. Even though I probably agree with the principle....that’s a little too much! Today for me, I just want to voice a pet-peeve and that’s the use of the F-word to chit-chat about everything in life, it is really on my nerves and we should upgrade our language skills!!

August 3, 2008

Do Clothes Make the Man?? Maybe...

Mark Twain once said, "clothes make the man. " There is something to be said about that. I remember the first time I met Jack...he was a cute smiling kid. The next time I saw him, he was in a group home, sullen and pensive after moving from his foster home of many years. Jack was like a kid misplaced, his soul seemed stomped on. Everything was done properly but some times you can't fix a child's heart, not even with a lot of therapy. So Jack's life was full of school trouble, police altercations, and multiple placements.

He's tough now, he's a self proclaimed thug and quite proud of it. In the semi lock-up where he lives, he has advanced and now frequently rides the bus to the office. Usually he slinks in with shorts hanging under his backside, a tee-shirt covering it. Some days he complains endlessly about what's not being done for him. It's true he's had a bad life but if we do not redirect him he will acquire an attitude of entitlement which will paralyze his future.

Last week he wants me to buy his lunch, I tell him no but he can share mine. Thanks but no-thanks he says but quickly changes his mind. We talk as I microwave our meal; my patience is waning and I find myself telling him, at 30 no one cares that he had a bad life in foster care, they want to know that he comes to work on time and does a good job. I don't know what makes me say this but he's not listening anyway, he's asking how I make soup. I smile and tell him. The words about his future are not for him today, he's not quite ready...but he will hold them for another day.

In summer the office is like a second home where many kids would stay all day if they were permitted. Amazingly, over the years it has become quite easy to see through the facades of the children. And this child is easy....he's smart, deep and pensive...and there is a promising future for him .... if he can just make a few good choices and just ONE PERSON will hang in with him!

Thursday he appears at the door with a clothes bag slung over his shoulder. He is so excited he can barely talk. "ONE PERSON" has arranged for Jack to meet an attorney. Later Jack emerges from the men's room in dress pants (actually covering his backside) and a maroon designer dress shirt and tie. He is transformed in some strange way. Are the pants too tight he wonders? No, he looks great, I tell him. He rushes off to have someone teach him how to tie his tie. He finds Booker, the best dressed guy in the office.

It chokes me up a little, Jack treats us like we are his family. I wish this moment was shared with his real family, not people working at a foster care agency. But Deb, my supervisor reminds me...we care about him and he knows it. She's very practical. With that, Jack reappears, looking sharp in a windsor knot. Soon it's time to leave and his anticipation turns to anxiety.

What should he say??? What should he do?? He's sooooo nervous as he awaits the elevator. I tell him to relax, be himself. He's very disturbed by that response, he tells me he can't possibly do that, the guy won't like him. No time for self-esteem lessons, so I tell him to put out his hand and "Hi I'm Jack, thanks for meeting with me!" I hug him and he's off! I return to my desk, Deb and I are like mother hens praying this man will be great for Jack. Time passes, there's work to be done but we are still thinking about Jack....

Later he returns, full of details, a $26 plate of pasta..$26!!!, a Jaguar something, the man's office in detail....he happily chatters on confidently, ..."a job...our relationship starts today, not interested in my past mistakes"...the man has planted hope in Jack's heart! I wish the man was there, I'd kiss him!! I push away the worries...will the man eventually weary of Jack, will Jack return to his old ways? Those fears are not for today, there's hope and in foster care you have to seize every moment of hope!
Some boys are fooling around in the hallway, yelling, pulling, pushing...Jack calls to them "Cut it out!" Debbie reminds them that they should go to downstairs, so Jack herds them to the elevator...but I call after him telling him I think he looks great! With great confidence he calls back " I feel GREAT!" He's a different boy, he sounds different, acts different and is full of GOOD dreams! Is it the clothes?..maybe just a little! Maybe the clothes mirror the new hope inside!

June 17, 2008

God at 35,000 Ft.

It had been a lovely weekend. I was assigned a middle seat in the back but instead I headed for exit row window seat. The plane was practically empty and I watched to see if the seat belonged to anyone. A handsome young man, bags slung over his shoulder, was the last person to enter before the door closed. Oh dear and he came right to my row. I offered to move immediately and he waved for me to stay, as he flopped into the aisle seat looking very tired. A conversation ensued and he launched into an vivid explanation of his night in a Phila hotel, a backed up toilet and the seminar he had taught.

He chattered on for quite a while and I finally asked a few questions as I drew a picture in my mind of this interesting young man. He was extremely successful, lived on South Beach and longed for the stability of a committed relationship and family. We laughed as he described his family and childhood antics. Before long we were now both leaning on the armrests facing one another like old friends. As he rambled on, I interrupted.

ME: What is your name? (Before he answered a thought came to my head-"His name is Mark")
Him: Mark Hmmm....there is something to this encounter. We talked about everything imaginable until he stopped.

HIM: Are you a therapist?
ME: Heavens NO!! (I laughed heartily)
HIM: seem like one. But you are religious?
ME: (Laughing) I hope not..but I have a strong faith. (I elaborated as he listened intently with an open heart and mind)
HIM: I can tell your soul is peaceful. You know, I live an alternative life-style(now speaking in a hushed tone as though he is whispering a secret)
ME: I know
HIM: Mothers always know (he was nodding) I didn't know how you'd feel about it, being..being so spiritual
ME: After what I just told you about my faith, what kind of person would I be if I felt differently about you?

He then launched into every bad experience he had with "religious" people. I listened sadly. When his heart had emptied, he told me about his life, his friends and his old boyfriend. I asked about his business in real estate and he explained it to me with detail. A rather get-rich-quick business, but interesting, I asked him if he thought I could do it. With a salesman type response, he heartily said I could, but I shook my head saying not.

HIM: What did your family tell you growing up? (then drawing back he asked incredulously) Does your husband beat you?
ME: (bursting out in laughter) No! He is a good, kind man.
HIM: Hmmm...must have been someone else that gave you that message...well what about you?....tell me about yourself!

I gave him a bio and he listened but stopped me.

HIM: (he was thoughtful) I am going to have to think about this. Feeling on the edge of something. I felt uneasy as he left his seat for the restroom. Upon returning, before he was fully seated Mark said:

I got it!!! Everyone opens up to you and you let them talk and talk because you are a caring person, but you really don't want to talk about yourself, you don't want anyone to know about you! Am I right?? (he asked proudly)

ME: (bursting into soft laughter, I momentarily searched the clouds and blue skies expecting the LORD Himself to be peering in at me. The moment was pregnant with truth and light that bore into my soul in the most unexpected way. Truth is of God and here he was speaking to me face to face through this beautiful gay man.) You are very right Mark.

We hugged as we parted, I promised to pray for him and thanked him profusely for speaking truth to my soul. Surely it is easier to listen or help another then to be made vulnerable and let others help me. My search for authenticity wasn't going to come very easily but I have never forgotten that day 3 yrs ago nor the truth Mark taught me about myself, nor that God will speak even at 35,000 ft in a most unexpected encounter with a stranger.

May 20, 2008

The Duvalgal and her Baby Sister

This is my sister Barb and me laughing while celebrating at my 60th B-Day. We laugh a lot now. Several years ago we started a blog to tell our childhood stories. When you are younger, you are writing your own stories and are too busy to ask about the stories of your parents. By the time you do care, they are sometimes gone, so we decided to write a blog together for our children. Somehow we lost our blog out there in blogger space but today I found a posting I intended for her B-Day! She was going to be called the Duvalgal, named after the street we grew up on, I of course was the baby sister.

The Duvalgal always said she was the mistake, and our parents had me 3 yrs. later to keep her company. I wondered about that, she said it often enough, how could I forget! But it didn't bother me so much, because "company" sounded a lot better than "mistake" And I always thought she was a little whiny about it, but being a middle child, it comes with the territory. Of course Dad vehemently denied it, with a little too much passion I thought. "There were no "mistakes in our family" he'd say, that alone was a hilarious statement. Mom was noticeably silent during these "mistake" conversations.

Before Duvagal made her entrance, our parents had the "perfect family" or "a rich man's family" so they would say.... a girl, and a boy named after dad. It must have been a transition for the family of 4 to add a baby after 8 years. If Duvalgal was a truly a "mistake " (and who could believe any child is a mistake regardless of planning) it was long forgotten when she entered the world on our older sister's 12th birthday. Blond, blue-eyed like Dad and her birthday counterpart. She was beautiful and delighted everyone. I wasn't there but I am sure she was the treasure of all their hearts. As a toddler she had blond ringlets, much like Shirley Temple, the favorite child star of the 40's.

My sister's early days were days when war raged in Europe and the South Pacific. Our father didn't go to war with Germany or Japan, he was too old at 40, had one eye and 3 children. He did have some sort of civilian volunteer job in the neighborhood during the mandatory blackouts, (preparation in case of attack)

The sad part about being the youngest with older parents....there is no one left to tell you the answers to your many questions....all who would remember or would have enjoyed them carried the answers to their graves. Was Duvalgal a mistake? No child is a mistake, especially this one! Duvalgal would grow to be strong, charismatic, smart, ever learning, fun and loved by everyone. And best of all, she would be "my big sister and best friend". Happy Birthday Barb!!

April 25, 2008


"What's up?" I ask. The pharmacy will not fill his client's meds until the following day. Does that sound right, he wonders. "Yep, sure does, Medicaid will not fill the script if it has been filled in the past 30 days." I tell him. He quickly picks up the conversation we had started earlier when we were both too busy to chat. He relates his client's most recent problems.

"She's a special girl, but no one sees that. People do not treat her right, it's just wrong!" he rants, I agree. I know the case, she is not easy, she's troubled and no one has ever called her "special", not in the way he means it. Teen years can be difficult for any child.....but what do you do when you've grown up in group homes, therapeutic homes or psychiatric lock-ups? You're different, you're strange, and you are constantly rejected by peers and adults. Many pieces are due to no fault of your own. You are truly lost in this world. What can ever lift you out of this place, is there any hope?

This case manager sounds tired and troubled about the girl. I tell him he should go home to his family, he tells me he will, but first he has to make a home visit. I imagine him eventually arriving home flopping on a bed, kids jumping on him, older ones with tales or problems of the day, little ones who just want his attention, and a pretty wife who thought she was marrying a "hot" athlete, not a underpaid social worker!

I hang up, still thinking about the girl. If she has just ONE PERSON in her life, JUST ONE, who sees inside her very dark world, just ONE PERSON who knows how she should be treated and treats her that way. JUST ONE PERSON who knows she's special and tells her so. That's all it will take to change this child's world, JUST ONE PERSON. She will still have problems but when you know someone who cares journeys with you, well, it does something to your heart. In some small way you know you are worthy of some things good and right.

But for now the young case manager is weary, disappointed, and tonight he is righteously angry. No matter what he does, it probably will not be enough, it never is. Judges will make unreasonable demands of him, some foster parents will fall short of giving the kids what they need, and some of his foster kids will not even make it in this hard world. But he will make a difference in the life of the girl he calls "Special" because he is the ONE PERSON for her. In years to come she will remember and believe maybe, just maybe, there are others like him or that maybe she, as remote as it seems today, will be that ONE PERSON for another.

March 9, 2008

Peace that helps me live...

Lately I have been thinking about the culture that surrounds my faith system. It seems terribly off at times, which makes me question whether I too am off. Most people turn to their faith or religion when hard times come. But it has also been said that "religion kills". Ironic that what should be a source of help, hurts. The most noticed will always be the fundamentalist groups that brag of their "pure religion" They strictly follow creeds, codes, rules, or books that are to be the guide. On every front, those are the people we know, see or read about in the media, the people that scare us. But in today's world, religion has become quite electic, something you create for yourself, a faith that works just for you. Like a menu, you pick and choose, to make it work for yourself.

"How about you Ginny?" I ask myself. "Is your faith eclectic or are you a fundamentalist of sorts? Both sound really scary to me. Fundamentalist?.... I don't read enough, pray enough, mediate enough or believe enough to be a fundamentalist. Maybe eclectic then? You know, a lot like the girls' favorite sixth grade project "Create your own country, or as the fast food slogan goes "have it your way" Choose your own book of choice and figure out what you like? But who wants faith system where you call the shots, I am not that smart. I am a just a little tiny girl in my moments of darkness, or even in my moments of bravery...I am looking for an incomprehensible Presence standing behind me. A hand that draws me to a Holy heart, that beats on my behalf. A God who knows me intimately and loves me, even when I cannot figure out what I am. I need a God I do not understand, who is too big to explain, but a God who visits me and invites me to His presence, whose face I see everywhere I go.

I read the following phrase in a Taize email, I like it...I will stop wondering about my religious label and that of others and just follow that PEACE.

Jesus our peace, through the Holy Spirit you come to us always.
Our prayer can be quite poor, but you pray within us even in the silence of our hearts.

March 5, 2008

I Still Believe

Luis is a great young man who grew up in the foster care system. He's the kind of kid you want to hug every time you see him, his smile warms your heart. The road has not been easy for him but he is working hard to carve out a future for himself while still making every effort to support his family. But he has no health insurance yet. When he stopped by to tell me he was feeling really sick, I immediately headed for Walgreens, filling my basket with Ziacam, EmergenC and of course Airborne! Back at the 7th floor office, co-workers sceptically watched as I unloaded my purchases on to the desk. A watchful drooping Luis, carefully took in all my instructions about symptomatic treatment.
"Luis, if you don't believe in all I'm telling you, give this stuff to a friend without insurance! But it really does work." A week later a very excited Luis came running up the street. We hugged and he thanked me profusely, relating how quickly he had recovered, and how he continued to use the products when not feeling well. Now he was frustrated because everyone in the office was sick but refused to take his advice! I reminded him it is in the believing.
As we walked, my supervisor, watching the encounter asked me if I know there was a class-action suit against Airborne. Not missing a beat, I told her I didn't care, I reminded her that I haven't gotten sick on my trips since I started taking Arborne before flying, I traveled to India and Sudan and didn't become ill once due to my daily EmergenC-Airborne cocktail. And while others have lingering colds they nurse for weeks...Treating myself symtomaticaly my colds are gone in days! And then I remind her maybe it's in the believing, she smiled...but that's OK with me....I DO BELIEVE!

It is only right that people should get their money back in the class-action suit, but I am sorry they have to be sick, they should just have believed like Luis and me.

January 12, 2008

The Babies

Sitting at my computer attempting to shake off my day in foster care, I linked to this picture. It felt shockingly familiar! I am always a drama queen but there was something gripping about the babies...most did not look unhappy. I do not know the photographer, but the picture was powerful and I began to cry. There they were!! OUR BABIES, barely out of the womb....abandoned, neglected, drug exposed and tossed in the the bureaucratic bucket, called foster care. But it was the little shark in the bucket that frightened me, the unnoticed tiny enemy. There are so many little enemies that can hurt a child in care, inadequate bonding, delayed health care, undetected developmental problems....the list goes on. Hopefully everyone does their part to avoid the sharks in foster care.

It is time to reign myself in! So I replay the words of a foster parent I spoke to earlier. "Oh Mrs Ginny, she is the most precious little baby girl, she was my little blessing when they brought her to me yesterday!" Ms C explodes with delight! I ask about the three older girls in her home, their parents' rights have been long ago terminated, they will never return to their families. "They just adore her! Oh , if you get a chance, will you tell her mama she is being loved and we are taking very care of her! Oh how I wish my other girls could have their mothers too, but just isn't so." She says sadly.

Then I remember another baby. He's the big baby in the bucket. I can see him smiling. From the moment I sat him on my desk, he conversed with me, cooing, laughing...really talking in that unknown tongue babies use, but usually not at 4 months!! So bright, so smart! I paraded him around to the development and fiscal depts, everyone and over this precious baby boy. But it was only as I engaged him did he really respond, otherwise he looked with caution at everyone.

"Buddy..I have to say good-bye to you now," I sat him on my desk again and gently ran my fingers over his tiny fro. "You have a great visit with your mom, I know she loves and misses you! You are going to have a good life, you will grow up to be a good, strong man...." I pulled him close for one more hug, "You are going to go far in this world Buddy!! I just know it" I passed him off reluctantly.
Having four girls, we had lots of baby dolls. Most were loved initially when new and novel but eventually cast aside naked in a toy box, under the bed or left outside. From time to time I would gather them up, redress them and tuck them back in baby carriages, doll beds and chairs. But I often thought they were happiest whether dressed or naked when they were in one of the girls' arms being loved and cared for. I pray our babies in the bucket will find loving arms too.

January 3, 2008

Baby it's cold outside!!

As I stood waiting for the train this morning, shivering in the bitter 30 degree weather, I was remembering those mornings in Elverson, PA. Mornings like today bring back memories....

On cold mornings long ago, I would jump out of bed and throw on a trench coat and furry slippers. Quietly, I'd slip downstairs, turn the furnace themastat from 55 to 65 and let myself out the back door into the bitter winter air. As the biting wind whipped my nightie around my knees, I'd gather my coat and tuck it between my legs to keep it from blowing around. Swinging the ax over my head I quickly split a small pile of wood and carried it through sliding doors into our family room.

It only took minutes before I'd kneel warming my hands over a roaring fire! First rays of morning sunshine never appeared on those days as I awakened the girls from their beds piled with blankets. Sleepily they'd dress for school and the first ones downstairs could sit right on the raised hearth drinking their cocoa before the dancing flames of the fire.

But my well built fire that delighted my children, died by mid-morning, chores had to be done and gloomy skies filled the windows that day and perhaps many days after that! After we moved to Florida my dad once left me a phone message.

We haven't seen the sun for 17 days!". he bemoaned in great dismay.

Today as the wind whipped around me, I wasn't in my nightie on the train platform, though I was just as cold. I smiled listening to Floridians discuss the weather, there is no in-between when cold weather hits Florida. It is either hated or loved. For me, it's not the temperature but the sun that shines almost everyday in South Florida that warm my heart.... and those memories of long ago. It is also the incredible sunrises and sunsets we see daily that keep me going, and makes me so grateful to live in South Florida.

Yes..."Baby..It's Cold Outside"....but here in South Florida, it's not gloomy!