Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

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Sincere Reflection

May 3, 2017
I am biased. I think the new catch phrase is “implicit bias” and as a new para-educator I am supposed to be looking at that.
I am prejudiced too.
I think I resist even admitting those two things because usually someone will also throw in that I am closed-minded, racist, bigoted, Bible-thumping, hateful and hate-filled.
But I was having a conversation (if you want to call it that) with another parent volunteer the other day and at the end of it, I felt convicted and rightfully guilty.
It started simple enough. I was propping my feet up because they were swollen and hurting and as a responsible and reasonable adult I could not take any meds to allievate the pain and still drive my child around. This began my discourse into my current medical state–a journey that began last December when on the job I picked up pneumonia. This parent I was speaking to had indicated a fairly decent amount of medical knowledge so I knew she understood when I named my condition and the medications I take that weaken my immune system. And I know everyone understands that a school is a cesspool of nasty germs.
My assignment at the time was a difficult one with the most challenging students. I actually learned a lot about myself–that I could do something I never had the intention of doing before, that I could be an advocate even if I didn’t have the license or title behind it, that I had things to offer.
But none of that matters if I say, “This has been a horrible year for illness and THOSE PARENTS, you know, they send those kids to school so sick.”
I think that is the moment I lost all credibilty and respect in my listener’s eyes. It didn’t matter what else I said. Because after she let me ramble on about how the pneumonia turned into three back-to-back sinus infections followed by tonsilitis and now because I couldn’t take my necessary meds I was in the worst flair since I was diagnosed…. she told me she had one of those kids. Not school-aged yet, but she was one of THOSE PARENTS.
Usually I reserve my bias and prejudice until I have multiple interactions to form an opinion. I am an introvert that avoids anything that makes me uncomfortable so I gravitate to what I know. It doesn’t mean I fear or hate or whatever people that are different from me (be it looks or lifestyle or status). It just takes me longer to get to know others and feel comfortable. Often I really have no opinion or feelings either negative or position about people I meet.
But my negative bias, prejudice, opinion, comes from a negative experience. I would like to say often I give people and experiences multiple tries before I write them off or have negative bias and prejudice. But not always. Rather than expressing any kind of sympathy or understanding for THOSE PARENTS, I blamed them for my current medical condition and swollen, painful feet.
Just by labeling them THOSE PARENTS.
And I can’t even say it was the pain talking. I had used the phrase before. While I may have had nods of understandin from those listeners–I wonder how many were thinking, “Wow! I can’t believe she said that!”
I don’t think there is any “politically correct” and un-biased way of saying parents who send their children to school put many at risk without really considering that maybe, just maybe, some of those parents (and children) do not have a choice. I have sick leave that, while precious given my health, I can take and not worry about losing my job. What if THOSE PARENTS don’t? My children are healthy–what’s the phrase “neuro-typical” and in fact are high achievers. I’ve never not known what to do with them, really. Only once post-op did I call the grandparents to come get them because I couldn’t physically take care of them yet. What a luxory!
It is okay to have opinion. It is okay to have and to exercise judgement. It is okay to have a preference for what we like and do not like. But when we do not “walk a mile” in their shoes and we say things to separate ourselves from individuals or groups just because we had an unfortunate experience… we are biased and prejudice and we may not even know it.
And I did not like the mirror held up to me because of my own actions. And she didn’t have to say a word.
I truly hope I learn from this and grow in compassion and understand how my biases and prejudices shape me and influence what I say and do. And I hope that I will be better and set a better example for my children.
*****
My daughters and I have had conversations about race and prejudice. Sure I don’t know what it is like to have anyone look at me in fear and distrust because of the color of my skin but please don’t make a blanket statement that I have to be racist because of the color of my skin. If anything, I’d say I’m “situationally biased”. If I were to find myself in a dark alley–I’m not looking at your skin color; I’d be fearful of anyone I’d meet in that alley from the smallest Asian man to the tallest white woman. I’d even say I’m probably a classist–is that a thing? Again, it doesn’t matter the color of your skin if you look the part. Are you dressed like a homeless person or a contributing member of society? Are you dressed like a prosti-tot or an honor student? Are you dressed like a thug or like a entrepreneur?
And it is these attitudes that I need to temper and soften and give people more benefit of the doubt and stop seeing it as me (or us) and THOSE PEOPLE.
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Giving Thanks!

December 2, 2015

So much to be thankful for. God is so good!

My father had surgery on Nov. 18 to remove part of his tongue and all the lymph nodes on the left side of his neck. The 6 hour surgery ended early and the doctor felt confident she got it all. I saw him the next day when it was my turn to take our mother in to the hospital. Say what you will about the lackluster reputation of VA hospitals but I have to say I felt my father received excellent care in the SICU unit. His nurse(s) only had two patients (that I could tell). Yes, it was probably a bit premature to give him shredded chicken but hey, hospital food is like that in any hospital. He came home on the 21st, sooner than we all realistically expected–but we did want him home before he had to give up his private room.

Over the course of the next week we got news that the lymph nodes were clear, followed by the determination that chemotherapy would NOT be necessary. He got his staples (at least a dozen along his neck to his ear) out on the 30th and the doctor was pleased with his wound. Eating can still be a chore but my mother reports he is becoming the master of the blender. Today he just passed along that the surgeon feels he does not need radiation either. He will have bimonthly check ups over the course of the next 12 months, but NO radiation!

The power of prayer. We are so thankful!

What an emotional roller coaster this has been!

The following are the various “give thanks” Bible verses that I used over this past month. As I stated, there are 57 passages but some are event or person specific. Plus I didn’t want to post a “I give thanks to you, now destroy my enemies” verse. So I didn’t post 30 verses but I think this is a pretty good list and during my times of distress over these past few weeks it was such a good reminder to give thanks to a God who has been so gracious.

O give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him; sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! I Chron. 16:8-10
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! See also: Save us, o God of our salvation, and gather and deliver us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory and your praise. I Chron. 16:34-35
…A Psalm of David. I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. Psalm 9:1-2
The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. Psalm 28:7
(Nov. 4, 1994–2nd best decision of my life, saying yes to the Chief)
O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life among those who go down to the pit. Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. … You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praises and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
Psalm 30:2-4; 11-12
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
Psalm 57:8-11
A Psalm of Asaph. A song.
We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near.   Psalm 75:1
“Great is Your Steadfast Love” A Prayer of David     Psalm 86:1-13
How Great are Your Works. A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath.
It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
Psalm 92:1-8
His Steadfast Love Endures Forever. A Psalm for giving thanks.
…Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.    Psalm 100:1-5
Tell of All His Wonderful Works
O give thanks to the LORD; call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; tell of all His wondrous works!    Psalm 105:1-5
Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!
… Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD.
Psalm 106:1; 107:1 & 43
With God We Shall Do Valiantly. A Song. A Psalm of David.
Psalm 108:1-6
Great Are the LORD’s Works
Psalm 111:1-10
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His Steadfast Love Endures Forever
Psalm 118:1-29
“Give thanks” is used 4 times in this Psalm.
His steadfast Love Endures Forever
Psalm 136:1-26
“It is He who remembered us in our low estate…”
Give thanks is used four times in this Psalm.
Nov. 18:  Give Thanks to the LORD of David.
I give you thanks, o LORD, with all my heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. On the day that I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.
Psalm 138:1-3
My heart is lighter and I can breathe easier tonight. Thank you, prayer warriors.
On a completely separate topic, today’s Give Thanks is so appropriate on so many levels. I love how scripture works that way.
Psalm 142:1-7 You are my Refuge. A Maskil of David when he was in the cave. A prayer.
Great is the LORD
A Song of Praise. Of David.
…The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. All your work shall give thanks to you, o LORD, and all your saints shall bless you.
Psalm 145:9&10 but read the whole song!
The LORD is My Strength and My Song
You will say in that day (or this month!)
“I will give thanks to you, o LORD,…
Isaiah 12:1-6
Thanksgiving. I Cor. 1:4-9
I give thanks to my God always for you…
Thank You to those in my life who have embodied exactly what Paul is talking about.
Thanksgiving and Prayer
Eph. 1:15-23
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I Thes. 5:12-24
Stand Firm
But we ought always to give thanks to God for you…
2 Thes. 2:13-17
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My Heart is Lighter

November 21, 2015

To say that the past two weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster would not even cover it. There aren’t enough hours in the day or hours of sleep. I am drained.

But my heart is lighter. My father is doing well. The surgeon finished early and feels she got it all. There are a lot of details but things look to be in his favor… Size, time frame, hopefully clear lymphnodes. God is good.

My parents of course drove me crazy by not having any clear game plan. “Pray for me to have more patience.” “Why?” “Because I will kill him!” oh, you mean he’s acting like an emotional drama queen? I have no idea where I’ve seen that before.

The next night I pretty much got asked to drop everything just in case he got released early. Let me clearly state, I would have dropped everything for an emergency but I couldn’t wrap my head around why this was being asked of me when my older sister lived in their town, does not have two busy teens, and her husband is home to watch her children. When I checked in with my sister I almost blew a gasket when she said she hadn’t been asked!

Thankfully other family members insisted on being there to help and logic prevailed and we actually got a schedule firmly in place about who was doing what and when.

I took my mother to the VA hospital the day after the surgery. He was not as disfigured as I was expecting. He has a lisp but when the swelling goes down and with a little speech therapy it should not be noticeable. The side of the neck where all the lymphnodes were removed is sunken in but that may flesh out.

It was a good day with my parents. We talked about the every day things of life continuing on. My children are their first grandchildren. Many firsts coming up…concert solos, driving permits, the beginning of the college and scholarship search, and the youngest applying for a special high school. We talked about the Chief and his ever changing schedule. Yes, even would he be home for Christmas and for once I didn’t mind the question even if I had no answer. It took two hours to get mom home and another hour for me to get home, but I didn’t mind. Not with a lighter heart.

Mom took a day off and my sister went to see him at lunch. We got word early in the day that he would be released on Saturday. My sister’s schedule was more open so she is taking mom to get him discharged as per the schedule we came up with. God is so good.

There have been other things come up in these two weeks that have left me saying “I seriously do not need this right now!” and “What now?!” that I can’t go into. I am barely treading water and struggle with sinking into depression. The Chief has been supportive and open with me when I discussed considering antidepressants for a short period. Hopefully the crisis of dad’s illness passing will ease the burden not only on my heart but my head.

But for now my heart is lighter and I know that God is so good.

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10,000 Reasons

November 9, 2015

Bless the Lord O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

Read more: Matt Redman – 10,000 Reasons Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Sammie gave me permission so here goes.

I’m going to look over here so I don’t look at my daughters.

OK, kids, I know you think these teen events and summer camp are all about you and what you get out of it, but I know what God has done for me at these events. If you’ve been at camp W over the years and you’ve been in my class you’ve heard the story of my tough relationship with my father. Just to summarize, it was bad. And one day at camp I had a talk with God and I said, “I’m done. I’m laying it all at your feet.” You see I had spent 10 years resisting Him–to the point that I developed a chronic illness. And God answered and I got to hear my father say the words I never thought he’d say. “I was wrong and I am sorry.” I can’t begin to describe what that was like! I still get goose bumps. That IS the peace the passes understanding. A burden lifted. God restored me to Him, restored me to my father. My relationship with my father is so much better. He even insisted on being the one to take care of me this summer when I had back surgery and my husband was at sea. If you want the long version of the story just ask T1 or Tess or anyone who was at camp. I made three out of five classes cry–I don’t know if that was some kind of record but it was intense.

So what does this have to do with this weekend? I didn’t want to come. You see, when your husband is at sea and you see an opportunity to send your children away you really want to jump at the chance to do that and to sleep in! I was very tired but at 2 PM I got an email with last minute housing instructions for this weekend. And I saw the email address of someone I hadn’t seen in a long time. I was excited to see him and I thought, “ok, I’ll go even if I’m tired.”

Last night was great. Got to see my Brother, the singing was great, my daughters were enjoying themselves. Not too bad. Sammie asked us to think about why we are here this weekend. Well I found out this morning.

I got a call from my mother. My father has cancer.

You know the first thing I wanted was to hear my husband’s voice telling me it was going to be ok. While we were driving over here and I was trying to figure out how to tell my daughters their grandfather was sick, a text message came through. Just a simple, “Love you.” Let me tell you that after almost 20 years of marriage there have been too many times to deny that God has made sure my husband knew by the Holy Spirit when I needed to hear from him!

One of the first people I saw this morning was my Brother. He asked me how I was doing and I said, “Not good. My dad has cancer.” And he was like “Wow.” And he stopped and we talked and before we came in here he said, “Let’s pray.” If you have never had Brother A pray with you, you are missing out! When we were in youth group together, he was the cement of our group. I even texted my mom, “A prayed for us!”

And then the singing. Oh, the singing! I may have been standing there with tears streaming down my face, but they were tears of faith. Every song was about declaring the mighty power of God. I even took a picture of the screen “Our God is a God who Saves”. He is! And while I hope and pray for physical saving, I know even greater is the spiritual healing. He’s got this. I will follow Him.

I am here this weekend because God did not want me home crying alone. He wanted me here among all of you beautiful teens, with our youth volunteers, with my daughters who are surrounded by their friends. Singing songs of praise and worship.

So I am asking you to pray for my father and his surgery on Nov. 18th.

Sammie and Brother A came down the aisle toward me. “Oh Sammie, no!” “You said, pray. What did you think we were going to do?” A Sister who I hadn’t seen in years ran up and joined our circle for the prayer. God is so good.

And God continues to work: the girls and I were on our way home from the event. I was trying to figure when we could see my father…I offered the choice of swinging by that very day or trying to arrange to go the next week. My girls said stop now. It was the right decision. (Though going up next Sunday is still not off the table…)

Last night I got a FB private message from, again, friends we hadn’t seen in a while. He asked me what was my secret to not changing in 17 years and that he was going to tease my BIL about his NY Giants. And then he asked how was my family. I replied, “God must have been working on your heart. My father has cancer.” His response was, “Wow, I was thinking and praying for your family and I decided to reach out to you!” I think I will call this and all these experiences a “God work”, kind of a sighting/example of how God is actively working.

I really want the Chief home so badly but I have trust and faith in God. I am scared but God has this. My dad is ready to fight. It seems so different from my mother’s breast cancer. Her’s was caught so early–praise God. There is a chance he’s had this for over 3 years. So in the moments when the tears are too great, I let my soul sing like never before.

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