Happy Fathers

A dear friend wished me Happy Father's Day today. I thought, how odd, I am a woman and Mother’s Day is past. I sat on it awhile and then followed up asking what is up with that comment.  She clearly thought I understood.  And once she explained I realized she was right, Happy Father’s Day to me! All the single moms out there trying to fill both roles know exactly what I am talking about.

Having children is difficult when you are trying to balance their ever changing needs with your own.  There is a different set of rules completely when there is only one parent in the house, there is no trade off, no off time, no hand off at the door at 5:00.  For some of us, there was no shared bathtub duties, no taking turns working on homework, splitting days off for sick days, doctor appointments or leaving early for sports games.

I don’t for a minute regret having full custody of my children but it meant wearing both hats. When my son needed a dad, many times, I was it. Being a woman, it was foreign to me many times how to handle certain situations. At times, when my daughter and I were at odds, there was not a vested father figure in love with us both in the house to help sort things out.  Thus, it was, at times, more challenging.

The other side of the coin for myself, and many women like me was the camaraderie that was developed in the relationship.  There was not much my children and I did not do together, including play together, laugh together, go out to eat, shop, cook, you name it. We had times where we were like the 3 Musketeers.  It was bound not to last but when it did hold, it was good. It was very good.

So I wanted to end this day by saying I am glad that I had the chance to try to be all things to both of my children.  They may not always see my efforts as successful but I did the best I could.  And I am certainly glad they have provided my grandchildren with wonderful loving fathers that are indeed present for both of them.  

The video is just a small salute of sorts to the men in my immediate life as they are all fathers & grandpas that count. Click Here to view video


Wow, It's Beautiful Now!

New Flowers that were expected to die
I think the prettiest thing in the world was sunflowers in the back of our yard in Dayton,Ohio when I was a little girl. I use to climb up our big hill and look at those huge stalks with the flowers that seem to tower over me and think they were magnificent. That looked like sunshine that you could stare at without feeling like your eye sockets were getting burned like when you looked at the sun on hot summer days.  There were also some vegetables up there, a small garden with the sunflowers on the side, and I remember some fruit, strawberries in particular. As much as I enjoyed that small garden, seeing it anyways and eating what is in it,  it didn’t take long into my adult life to figure out that I was not born with a gene to plant.

But unfortunately for my ex-husband, he thought it was a lack of exposure. He felt that, with enough experience I would grow fond of it, my children also. With a brother that had a degree in horticulture and with his many years of working a side job in the nursery business, he was quite well-versed in landscaping and gardening.  In sharp contrast, I was limited to knowing the difference between a tree and a bush, most of the time anyways.

Thus, I was thrown in my thirties into a world I was not ready for or adept at in the least. It struck me as funny but he found it anything but humorous. I suppose, because of this, I found it even funnier. It is kind of like when someone messes up at church and you aren’t suppose to laugh and then it becomes twice as funny. This boyfriend  soon to be fiance, decided his goal in life was to upscale my yard. Before I blinked it seemed, my kids and I were pulling into a yard that was once fronted with   the 3.5 shrubs with a perfect line of marigolds or petunias  in front  to a montage of plants all across the front yard complete with railroad ties etching out areas.  Each tree was surrounded by flower beds completely full of flowers in bloom!

Let’s just say, at that point in my life, when folks asked me where I lived, I was into landmarks for directions.  Given the way our yard looked, especially in comparison to others, it stood out. I said our home was situated in the yard that looked like Fantasy Island’s set, particularly in the backyard! Oh yes, we even had steps cut into the hillside in the back complete with plant beds going up both sides of those steps and across the top of the hill. If that is not enough, the above ground pool was torn out of there, eye sore he explained.  In its place, he put in a hand-laid stone patterned tile patio in a geometric shape, complete with flower beds on each side.
I recall people coming down the street and asking to come to the back of our yard just to gawk at it and even some to take pictures.  If he would have let me, I would have charged. I was a single mother and needed the income.  Once he moved in, it is safe to say, our yard looked like he single-handedly had bought out the nursery!   
The house quickly sold, mostly due to all the landscaping, curbside appeal I was told by the real estate agent is what it is referred to.  I was commended for my work and thought process, though I told her repeatedly it was not due to me. She didn’t believe, she thought I was a mastermind, like somehow I had this whip and got this man to work his buns off doing all this stuff. If I had that kind of power lady, would I be living in an average sub-division?  Would my kids and I be starving and eating out for nights out at Taco Bell?

Eventually,  we moved to a 5 ½ acre plot of land I had bought with the profit from the sale of my home and used what was left for a down payment on the purchase of a new house we were going to have built. I had made out like a bandit on the sale so had plenty of money to buy the land and build the next house.  No thought came to mind that with all that land, more yard work and this time round, I was going to be pulled into it big-time and my kids! Nor did I even think for one minute who could attempt to outdo what was done on the other home, I mean this plot was huge in comparison to the other place!  Who does that?

Before the foundation was even laid, we were going out there doing land duty. This consisted of cleaning out nasty tree limbs, hatching or some word like that that entailed getting our arms and legs all scratched up and throwing a million nasty things into a big huge ugly smelly fire. We hated it, that is three of us and one person loved it, him.  And time-frame for doing this was usually starting at like 6 AM. and maybe him calling it quits at 7 PM. if we were lucky. Our only break was lunch which consisted of a hot dog cooked over that nasty fire and a bag of chips. It was eaten because this was hard back-breaking work for us. At times we were breaking down tree stumps.

It was a never ending job. About the time it was cleaned up beyond recognizable from when it was first purchased and I had foolishly believed a lot of the natural look would be left, more plans came rolling along. Next in place was a garden and a greenhouse. A greenhouse was built out of fiberglass panels from my employer at the time, that was quite large compared to what normal neighbors would have in a yard to start plants from seedlings with shelving units inside and special lighting, etc…  For a city girl, I was way outside my comfort zone. This is the same girl who stared at sunflowers but didn’t plant them!

I have to stop and explain to you, none of the three of us, my daughter, my son or I were into this at all!  No, we were not even good sports about it. His idea of start time was like a farmer, when the sun comes up, and we were not like that ever.  In fact, if he woke up early and it was still dark and wanted us working, he made the sun.  If the project was huge, he took large projection lights and beamed them on the garden or the area we were to be working on so light was not an issue. Can you picture the three of us city people out there with this guy humming so excited to be out there in the country and the three of us feeling like we were walking through hell’s gates? 

The size of the garden to us was like a doggone farm! When the corn came in, he must have planned it the year it came in the hardest to be out of town. It was a killer crop.  We were commanded to shuck it all and freeze it. There was so much to pull and hull, I had to borrow a pick-up truck and literally drive it through the rows of corn for us to pull it off the stalks, row after row, truckload after truckload.

We hulled till our first layer of skin went numb and began to peel from blisters.  Then we blanched the cobs in the large dishwasher and sat for hours on end cutting corn off the cob and bagging it for the freezer.  for us to load up corn, hull and then blanch in a large dishwasher we had.You can imagine the joy of my two teenagers, sitting at a table for hours on end and no ear pieces to gab on the phone. I told them they could invite friends over to help. Amazing, no one came.

The tomatoes were so plentiful we use to play baseball with the rotties to try to get rid of some. I tell you everything that went in that garden grew like wildflower! He was constantly getting horse manure from horse farms and I don’t know if that was it or what but we had a regular working farm and it about killed me!   I made all kinds of sauces for weeks on end.  The work involved was insane. How anyone could ever find that fun was beyond me.  My kids and I felt like indentured servants. Most of the time I let them slip off feeling certain they would run away from home anyways if I made them stay.

I vowed, when I left, I would never plant another damn seed in my life!  There were times when he would hand us 20 bags of seeds and we would head to the green house and have to plant row after row of seeds. We would each be told there was to be no more than 3 seeds in each hole and exactly how deep and big each hole had to be. And then we would each be checked on.  I thought he liked to live on the wild side letting me plant them. If he wanted perfection, he picked the wrong three people for planting because my two kids were right up there with me when it came to green thumbs. And they were loving it as much as me!

When I moved to Tennessee, luckily my husband now was not into planting, horticulture and landscaping! Yes, a match made in heaven or should I say on earth?  I quickly learned, as you have to have a base of plants around your house anywhere you live to make it look presentable, that rock is beneath everything in Nashville. Underneath the entire state of Tennessee, apparently is a rock. What a perfect excuse to not over plant or over worry if nothing grows.  You gotta love that?

It is so hot much of the time in the south that laboring in your yard is a must only for those that enjoy sweating profusely and own stock in the water company.  And when I did attempt it, I had zippo luck as before. I realized that no wonder they say it is the land of cotton!   Very hard unless you are persistent to get things to grow here.

But we tried. We have put things out, yearly. We have added and taken things away time to time. But, something happened. This spring something changed. Call it my green miracle. All of the sudden, spring and now summer has come and my yard looks like paradise!  I am flabbergasted.

Our magnolia tree that floundered for years but has steadily hung in there. This
Magnolia Tree, 2nd life
year it is like it has gone through a southern revival of some sort! It has gotten big, more beautiful and is full of blooms!  When you walk by it, it smells wonderful.    

 The perennials, every single one we have planted every year, even some that haven’t blossomed before came out to show their color. Each one we planted are gorgeous are in full bloom. They each are a different color so it looks vibrant around our yard.  I picked different ones each year thinking maybe certain colors didn’t like me. I was getting superstitious and thought also maybe one color grows better than another?  The plant that looks like a weed with pretty purple flowers on it is growing like a huge weed now all over the place! My flowers I put in the pots on the porch usually look dead by now are still alive and new buds are coming out. You can see their blooms from the road out front!

If one of my neighbors is reading this and watering my plants and putting plant food in our stuff, wow, are you nice!!!!  Please don’t stop!  You will be killing my idea that a miracle is happening right in my own yard!    It is astounding I have not heard the braking sounds in front of our house, 
yet anyways. Someone must be looking at our front yard thinking wow, new neighbors live there!

You know, there have been some disappointments this year that have befallen me. Who doesn’t have that happen right? It is so easy to concentrate on what isn’t right, what was wrong in the past. But what really matters is not what was but what is now. And for me, an easy reality check is to look outside and instantly be reminded God wants me to know the world is still a beautiful place indeed! My yard, it’s beautiful. Just look at it, how in the world did that happen if it weren’t for God? Take time to look for your miracles starting today!


Happy Birthday Grandson Ty!

As more and more children get diagnosed with autism, the field opens up to continued
hypothesizes of what causes it and the best ways to treat it. These include the practical to the outrageous.  I am astounded by the reactions of the public, in particular by those untouched by the diagnoses directly. And I must admit, frankly I was in that class as of 4 years ago. That was until the advent of my darling grandson Ty Ryan’s diagnosis in 2011.  Now, as he celebrates tomorrow his sixth birthday, May 29th, we honor not only his birth but his advances with his therapy.

Herein lies a boy whose parents were told he would never speak. And yet, one day I will never forget, his mother proudly called me to tell me she had placed him in his car seat. As she was driving down the road and dodging traffic, she clearly heard him say Mommy, not once but twice. 

This is a boy, who though autistic children are often times incredibly difficult if not impossible to potty train at a reasonable age, has been trained at an appropriate age.

Most autistic children will not make eye contact with strangers. Ty will most definitely do this and in addition to smiling says hello when prompted.

The list goes on and on of accomplishments of this astounding little boy.  I think it is due to parents that are steadfast in their devotion to pushing him the extra mile, getting him the best therapists and also getting great therapy. And I also believe he is gifted. 

The last but the single most important element in this soon to be six year old’s life is the presence of God.  He is surrounded, at all times by Christians, friends that believe in the power of prayer.  They believe in prayers for him, his family and for praying for continued progress on his journey.  His milestones show that the prayers and faith are working.  Also we all know that due diligence and positivity matter.

As a grandmother of one of these very special chosen children of God, please no longer ask me what is wrong with my grandson.  Refrain from asking me if my children did something to provoke this condition I  find this question offensive actually.  God makes things in life happen for a reason. I did nothing to provoke cancer and they did nothing to create the condition of autism. Let us celebrate his life! 

Do not look at my grandson with anything but joy.  Do not reflect on him sadly. He enjoys his life and so should you. Children pick up on others perceptions of them. It is wrong to label him anything but a child.

 If you see me, my children or anyone else struggling to control a smaller child, do not stare, nor be judgmental.  Kindly look away.   You are not always aware of the child’s condition, what the parameters are. 

I recall being at the Zoo Easter Hunt in line to enter the event and my grandson was upset. Everyone in the line was staring at him. This does nothing to aid the situation, not for him or any child for that matter.  What is the purpose of staring?  It simply embarrasses the child and he is receptive to feelings also. Please don’t embarrass autistic children; they have feelings just like everyone else. Give them their privacy when they are uncomfortable. 

I am in awe of the progress Ty has made and of all the hurdles he has climbed. It feels like he is continuing to defy the odds set before him.  Please continue to pray that better forms of therapy will arise and more research dollars are funded to continue the effort for this special population. May the next 6 years of young Ty’s life be even better than the first 6! 


Your proud beaming Grandma

Birthday Video for Ty Click here to View


Grandpa Jim and Jake

Losing a child is something one never really gets over.  When a child is brought into your home, whether is it biologically, through adoption or foster care, it is a full-time 24/7 job.  The ultimate goal is trying to make that child turn into the best parts of you.   Your hope is that, as they develop, they can bypass some of the mistakes that you made along the way so as not to stumble as much and get quite as many bruises. Unfortunately, many children are resistant to listen and do not appreciate unasked for advice!   

It is hard to stand back and watch them fall but life has taught most parents that loving is also letting go. Sure, when they are little,  parents can jump right in with both feet. But as they age, more restraint must be used to hold back with intervening.  This is one of the hardest parts of parenting and it causes more alienation in relationships than just about anything.  Watching children fail is not only hard but hurtful, especially if a parent thinks they could have helped prevent it.   But each individual has a right to learn to make those choices, right or wrong, on their own. Those lessons, the hard knock kind, may stick with them the longest.  

Being a grandparent is another phase of development for many adults.  This is the time in life to let go of the worrisome parts of being a parent and embrace simply the child.  The only requirement, so to speak, is loving a child for who they are, where they are and not having to try to contain them much.  It is a joyful time as the responsibilities fall to everyone else in their life but the grandparents. It is kind of like being a Disneyland parent in a divorce!  Discipline is only needed if they are a threat to themselves or someone else.  Other than that, simply stand back and enjoy the life before you in those eyes. 

In my husband’s case, he has lost his son prematurely, when his son was only in his thirties.  I, for the longest time, had no idea how painful this was, losing your only child as
his son was my stepson.    I had gotten to know my stepson as he was an adult.  As time has gone by, the pain has become more apparent to me, what it feels like to lose a child that has been an integral part of your life.  But seeing that tear in his eye, that comes up without any warning, has been hard. Not knowing how to help him deal with the pain has been particularly difficult for me.  But I have seen him learn how to move beyond the pain and once again, embrace his life.

One of the best healers of his pain of the loss of his son was his grandson.  Not long after losing his son, my husband lost the ability to see another grandson he cared deeply about also. That served as a secondary blow that set him back one more time just like the death of his son.  Very few realized the impact it had on him but it was similar to another death in his life.  He loved that child like his own son.  But as loving as God is, he provides. 

Our other grandson Jake, who lives in the same town we do, Nashville,  all the sudden started drawing incredibly close to his grandpa Jim. It was almost spontaneous that this started to occur, with the loss of one grandson in his life the other one stepped right up to the plate and became extremely attached to him.  

Jim is so far from Michigan, where his son lived, that  he seldom gets to see or hear from his son’s children who both live there.  So here comes Jake, with a personality larger than life and the uncanny ability to brighten up even the sourest adult in a room. And yet, he is not as embraceable as some children, preferring to be his own little man, all at the age of 4! Yet, when it comes to his Grandpa Jim, he wants to be held, embraced and yes even loved on.   Only God knows what lies ahead for Jake but it is bound to be something everyone will be talking about, in a positive light!And oh, something he will want his Grandpa to be proud of!

Jim and Jake have been developing a special kind of bond, the kind of bond you hear about in a song.  Their admiration of each other, for different reasons, is beautiful to see.  No one can replace Jim’s lost son nor the grandchildren he doesn’t get to see but his grandson Jake is helping fill a void.  There is a light in Jim’s eye, a loss of that tear these days and a lift in his step. Most of this is due to his grandson Jake.  God has found a  to bring into his life a blessed little boy who gives unconditionally to his grandpa.  And in return these isn’t much Jim wouldn’t do for his grandson. 

I am always amazed when I see God’s plan rolling out so perfectly.  Standing graveside at Jim’s son burial, it didn’t seem that way.  Other issues that have arose over the past year certainly didn’t leave either of us feeling blessed either.  But we both do believe in the power of prayer.  Also, sacrifice pays off in the end. 

My husband’s prayer and sacrifices he has made all his life is being rewarded by a little boy named Jake, a gift from God.  Someone who expects nothing out of Jim but to be near him and his attention from time to time all wrapped in a little boy!  It is something that was amiss in Jim also, a piece of his heart. 

With that in mind, I made a video that is a reminder of the joy one child can bring to a parent that has lost their child, to a grandparent who don’t see their grandkids and anyone else who is just hurting due to a miscarriage or some other tragedy. May Jake’s smile and his bond with his Grandpa Jim lighten your load and make it clearly visible that God does send signs you are loved!   It just takes believing in a power greater than you.   Click for Video of Grandpa Jim & Jake


These Truths are Self-Evident or Not?

Some general insights follow from me,  things that I have noted during the course of my adult life.  Naturally these are merely thoughts, my opinions and they are, yes, like that other thing we all have!.

Just a word of warning to those of you that don’t know it yet but  social media stays on social media.  And for some folks, that scares the hell out of them. Political careers can and are ruined by this media. Ironic that Bill Clinton served controversy over smoking pot and kinky sex in the White House and politicians now go down for even less.  But even in our everyday life, people are always forming opinions and thus attitudes about us.  But I do find, those that truly care about us realize that we are not what we feel, we are what we do with it.  Expressing views is simply that.

With that in mind, I feel certain some folks will agree with some of my observations:

  • Churches should use (home-made!) Italian bread for communion verses scanning
    neighborhoods for potential parishioners. It would be easier to get bread, if you know what I mean, in the basket.
  •  The volume of commercials should be the set at the same level as TV shows, verses so many decibels higher.  How annoying is it to watch something live, turn the volume down on the ads and then have the show start back up and you miss the opening lines?
  •  For those that feel everyone should not have medical insurance, here is a thought. Go without it for 1-2 years, in particular when you have health issues and try to pay those bills and get service from health care providers.  Then express your views about life without it.
  • People that drink coffee should no, I don’t do drugs.  Because they do! Addiction to coffee is strong. And I must say a wonderful drug!  
  •  People that stare at misbehaving children in public apparently aren’t aware this does not help the situation at all.  I propose the following:  each one be photographed at a store for a week or so. Then each store interested in this experiment post a large board in the front of the store so everyone can see, kind of like a WANTED poster.  On it would be placed the pictures of the gawkers with a label on top that reads Warning:  These customers enjoy watching parents struggling with their children.
  •  Women need to pack for one trip like their male counterparts.  Pretend they are visiting a nudist colony and when they do go outside of the colony, there is no need for clothes to match.   And then perhaps the packing standard might change for women and men will see what we frequently see on vacation!
  •  Doctors need to sit in their waiting rooms at least once a year on a booked afternoon appointment. And then, they must be docked pay for being gone so long
    from the job.
  • There is no such thing as childproof furniture.  This particular type of false advertising should be tested by preschoolers in the store it is sold to proof the legitimacy.
  •  Instead of Wife Swap, to make it much more interesting and controversial, it should be Teenager Swap. The teenagers used should be the variety we all label ‘not-fun’ types as we all know what a killjoy they can be.  Now that would be an interesting show.  Let’s see how other parents deal with your troublesome child and also find out if you are part of the problem.
  •  Long lines at the cash register should result in a standard discount for customers. Why not? Is it our fault that not enough employees were scheduled and does our
    time not have value?  Reality can bite; we could have 
    shopped at a competitor!
  • The list of potential side effects on drugs reads like a laundry list for the mentally insane to consider taking. With this in mind, are some of these made up? Once the list gets rolling on TV, it affects virtually every human body system there is, including breathing.
  •  Reality shows should not be scripted so we can determine just how boring and dysfunctional these folks truly are.  Let’s set the standard on these shows as realistic so we aren't promoting unreal expectations and having our young people idolize fake personalities and celebrities.
  •  Customer services reps should be empowered to create and present solutions verses roadblocks. We don’t sit on hold for half an hour to be told nothing can be done.
  • Women with 5-6 children+ should be allowed to have more than one husband. There are only 24 hours in a day and each child deserves attention from a male counterpart.  Note, the reverse should not be allowed. Men have no need for more than one wife in this instance.  We all know why! 
  •  I will not be in an Older Woman’s Beauty Pageant or competing for Ms. Popularity so yes, I realize my views aren't shared by some.  And that is okay, we are all unique and find our own way of dealing with life’s intricacies.   

From day to day, barriers sometimes never go away.
Your approach defines you as a person.  You can spend your life cursing.
But the other option to me, is laughing and letting life be.
Live in the moment as much as you can.
And know that others aren't always willing to bend.
Remember your control is limited to you; there is little you can do.
You can’t change others; brush it off with an Oh Brother!
Move on, it’s not your trial, accept what is and crack a smile!
Others will see you enjoying your life,
And you will set an example for others to strife.


The Last Time

You never know when it will be the last time to see someone. Life is funny that way. One day you are a part of someone’s life and then, overnight, you are not. The goodbye,was a farewell in this lifetime. 

It is very sad when it is someone you love and care about. And yet, none of us control others, none of us get to say when good bye is said. I am not sure if it sadder when it is due to death or by someone else’s choice. Knowing someone you care about is out there but you aren't seeing them, sharing in their laughter, can be gut-wrenching.

I suppose it is true that we all have our crosses to bear. It is not possible that we get to choose what those are.  We are simply called to accept God’s plan, even if it does mean we will endure pain. Somehow our faith in that should ease our grief.

If that last encounter was a kiss, an embrace, ah, that should warm the heart more. But for many, it simply makes the grief even more real, even more hurtful.  Loving someone, anyone, friend, family or child and no longer being an active part of their life is hurtful. For many, it is as if they must go on with life while a piece of their heart has been chiseled out and can’t be replaced by anyone.

Tears can flow, holidays roll by, but the love of another human being, unconditional love, doesn't go away.  If someone you have helped nurture and/or fostered a close loving relationship with no longer sees you, at some level, it must register that they too, deep inside their soul, miss you too.  That memory, that connection you had, is something the heart, the subconscious does not forget.

But it is hard to walk away with and move forward without having those days when, out of the corner of your eye, you feel a tear begin to slip down the side of your face. The next thing you know, there is a thunderstorm inside you that bursts open and the cry is more than just a thought a tissue can quickly clear away.  It is something, call it a Kodak moment, that can't be erased. And you don't want it gone.   

It is amazing how resilient we are, to be able to endure the pain of a loss of someone dear to us and still find the strength to go on with our lives.  We must and accept life is certainly about change. Acceptance of life with other people’s conditions on yours can be challenging . But reality is life is painful.  Life is not always happy endings. We can’t control what others think or do and what they act on.  We can only control ourselves. That alone we have to use to create our own sense of peace.

God is there. Through the loss, the tears, when the 'missing' becomes overpowering, God is holding your hand assuring you that you are not forgotten. He lets us know your shared memories mattered, that it was not all for not.  He feels the pain and cries along with us at our hurt. 

If you are hurting and have lost someone you love, the ability to be an active part of their life, know that you are not alone. If the last occasion was voices raised in anger, know that anger does subside over time. Eventually your shared moments will surface. You may be long gone but those memories, those times together, cannot be erased. That someone will miss you and so will others connected with that person that are no longer a part of your world. 

Raise your head after you weep and know God is crying too.  May you be graced enough that your last encounter was holding that person close, perhaps in your arms.  May the last words you uttered have been an endearment saying I love you and will miss you. And know, without a shadow of a doubt, its better to have loved, nurtured and cared for someone dearly than to have missed the opportunity to have impacted someone’s life. And, for you, the one with the heavy heart, far better that your special someone got the chance to deeply touch yours.

Missing your little face,
And your sweet embrace,
The sound of your giggle,
When you start to wiggle.

Knowing as you grow,
The memories may start to go.
And praying as they do,
You'll feel I am out here always loving you. 


The Potential Significance of Silence

Is silence golden? Well, silence can be deafening when someone wants to speak of something that touched their life dearly and those around them do not want to listen.  If the universe intersects some people in a negative way, they would just as soon not hear the voices that need and should be heard. They would rather be shrouded in ignorance than know the truth.  This self-protection from that which is not pleasant but is someone else’s reality does more harm than good. It is a missed opportunity for growth and learning.

Everyone’s voice matters. Even those with a song that is full of sorrow deserves to be sung, deserves to be heard.  It should not fall on deaf ears; it should be listened to with compassion.  We are all called to be servants of God. Being a Christian, living in his likeness means opening ourselves up to some painful discussions now and then.

The disciplines had to be filled with grief at what they saw Jesus endure. They each had come to know him, one on one, and had some conviction he might be the chosen one.  Yet, his words were filled with not only hope but of justice. He urged others to care for their brothers.  This request involves being supportive of those in need, those hurting and those who need more than a passing glance. That, at times, could be painful and it was for the disciples.

It is unfathomable to speak of living a life of Christianity and following the Church by simply attending.  It is not enough to simply take care of your own immediate family’s needs in your home. No, God intended us to be gateways between him and others in many ways and not all ways are an easy path. Some involve sacrifice. Yet, those hurting in our country are met too quickly with condemnation for their misgivings, be it having committed a crime in their life, being abused, being disabled, or being chronically  or mentally ill. These conditions are often treated as if they are contagious.  Be wary of these folks for they will pass it on!

Steps are needed to show Christianity, not lines from the Bible nor dressing up every Sunday.  One should not speak of living a good life if that life does not involve helping others. What is good about a life that serves no one else? 

People in need deserve disciplines.  They deserve loved ones and friends that are there for them, that listen, that accept, care and respect their story.  Just because it has dips and bends along the way does not make it any less magnificent.  Listening is learning and to the other person it can be the ultimate healing.  

I suppose the end all question in this blog is are you able to be a healer?  Do you have the ability to love others unconditionally?  Can you allow others a voice to be heard without judgment on your part and gain respect for their experiences, though they are different than yours? 

Silence is not golden for a child of abuse. It is not calming either when you have been raped or no one believes you.  Someone chronically ill still needs to be heard; though their voice may be pained it still matters. And you listening has the power to help ease the pain.  Infact, listening can be one of the most uplifting things you can do for others. 

Thus, the silence resounds. It seems to be a prevailing attitude in society, even among families and friends.  People are ignored, not responded to and put by the wayside as if they are not worthy simply because their life is different. They choose to distance themselves from those with negative experiences in life and then, never have to concern themselves with being part of the solution. They are willing to accept the loss of growth because that growth will come with some pain, some tears, and some potential heartache.

Talking to several folks over the past several months has given me a great insight to others perceptions of silence.  I have seen tears, heard shouts and read profanity. All of this because of someone who endured or is enduring misfortune and the very people, family or friend they thought would be there is not. They became a non-priority. The loss of support is painful, sometimes as painful as the original issue at heart.

Know that your silence can hurt. In the worst case scenario, it can kill. You can walk away with no misgiving, no guilt, at least for the moment. But is there a price you pay, we all pay, for your silence?  Are you impeding the growth of those around you when they need you the most? Could the best lessons in life be learned through the very folks you are shutting out? I could make a case for yes, they are.  Your silence is deafening but by not listening, you are stunting your own growth.  And they, God willing, will continue to grow. 

Silence can be rigid and unforgiving and black instead of golden.  

Special thank you to a few recent friendships that had a great deal of input and influence in this blog.  You all know who you are! I am blessed to have you in my life. Those that choose to have you in theirs are as well.  Those that don't, I think we can all agree, this blog is reflective of them.