Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Miracle

A miracle occurred last night.  And it couldn't have come at a better time.  I have been discouraged, tired of being sick, and needing something.  This miracle lifted my heart to new heights.

It starts with a secret.  I had a favorite student.  I know, I know, as a teacher you are NEVER supposed to have a pet.  And I never let it show, mainly because sometimes she could REALLY try my patience.  But in 1993, this little girl came into my classroom at 6 years old and promptly crawled up into my heart and never left.  This little girl was scared, feisty, and had a little light in her eyes that no one had ever seen or nurtured.  What she knew was fighting.  That was the only way she got things, I think.  She came from a rather large family and was a twin.  You know she had to be feisty to make herself heard.  What I saw in her though, was not a bad child, but a child who simply didn't know another way.  This had worked for her.  Fighting got her what she needed, so why try another way?  Yes, all of this at 6 years of age.  So I took her in my heart and got to keep her in first grade, second grade, and third grade.  I had the privilege to watch this young girl learn other ways to get what she wanted.  Now, she still fought, because in her neighborhood, I think she had to.  (I didn't quite understand that then, but I do now.)  And beneath that tough girl exterior was a loving little girl.  And smart!  Wow, once she stopped fighting me, she learned FAST!!!  To be honest that was the true miracle.  She was amazing.  When Jack got a job in Maryland, I was crushed.  Yes, I had a great reputation in Waco that I didn't want to leave.  I had worked hard for that.  But I didn't want to leave this little girl.  I felt like I was abandoning her like others in her life had done.  What message would that send this little girl that I adored?  This was before computers and cell phones.  This 9 year old was not going to write me letters and send them in the mail, so how would I keep letting her know that I was there?  How would I communicate encouragement to her if I was not near?  I was crushed.  To be honest, I think I went into a depression over this.  Of course, the big move, having 2 small children, living in a different culture (DC is a different culture, believe me), and the huge shift in our family life all contributed.  But I think the start was feeling like I abandoned this little girl.

So, I held her in my heart.  I kept up with her the only way I could, in my heart.  I thought about her as she started 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th grade, etc.  I sent good thoughts to her.  I encouraged her to not give up.  To keep trying even though she might be discouraged.  I prayed her fighting would not get her into too much trouble.  I prayed nothing untoward would come to her.  Then I started helping other girls here in NC.  I felt by helping them, I was helping her wherever she was.  I kept up with one young girl who reminded me a bit of the TX girl.  She had the same fight and sparkle in her eyes.  But she moved away and I lost her too.

Leaving teaching was the hardest thing I have done.  But leaving Shamika was harder.  Now though, the universe has sent me a miracle.  I found her.  I found her on facebook.  She is alive.   Oh she looks good.  She remembers me.  She is graduating this weekend.  She looks happy.  I am so excited to catch up with her. I want to know how much she had to fight to get to where she is.  I want to know if she felt me in her heart.  I want to know that she has found love.  I am so excited.

So the secret is out.  In my heart are really 3 children, Stephen, Allie and Shamika.  She has been there all these years, and will stay there till the end.  Now I get to welcome her home.  I wish I could be there this weekend, Shamika, to watch you graduate.  I would hoot and holler louder than anyone.  I would gather you in my arms and hug you tight.  I would kiss your cheek and tell you how proud of you I am.  I would beam.  So girl, feel that.  Hear me as you cross the stage, feel my hug, feel my kiss, and hear my words.........


Monday, May 23, 2011

Sister's Wives

Yes, I am openly admitting that I watch this show on TLC.  I began watching out of curiosity.  My only image of polygamists was of the ultra conservatives.  The long hair, old-timey dresses, marrying 13 year old girls to much older men, etc. But this show seem to show something else.

Cody is the husband.  He is in his late 30's, early 40's?  His first wife, and only legally wedded wife is Merrie.  Merrie was brought up in a family of polygamists, and always knew she wanted to have that same type family.  In fact, several years later, Merrie introduced Janelle to Cody and she became his 2nd wife.  All the women are close in age, all around Cody's age.  The Christina came along to make wife no. 3.  They have several children among the three women.  Christina stays at home and Janelle, Cody, and Merrie all work outside the home.  They own a home that has 3 separate apartments.  So each wife has their own kitchen and living area.  When the show begins airing, Cody has fallen in love for the fourth time.  He eventually marries Robin.  All of these women were 21 years of age when they chose to marry Cody.  They were well aware of the other wives, there were no tricks.  Each wife chose this lifestyle.  But, it is against the law in Utah, where it is probably more prominent.  A couple of the wives have memories of their families being split up because their fathers were arrested.  You might be asking why on earth would they go on National TV?   Well, they thought people had changed.  And as people may have changed, the law has not.  So the State Prosecutor has instigated an investigation into their case.

The whole time I watch this show, I think about how I feel about this.  It is not the lifestyle for me.  I think it is wrong no matter your religious beliefs to marry a minor child and have sex with them.  But, what about 2, 3, or 4 consenting adults?  What about this family who is paying their way, paying taxes, raising normal, healthy children?  They are practicing their religion.  They don't want to try to change other people.  They simply want religious freedom to live "family" they way they define it.

So, should government interfere in their personal lives, as long as they are all consenting adults?  Is having one daddy, and 3 mommies detrimental to the children?  All these thoughts are swirling in my head today as I watched the finale.

What are your thoughts?

Sunday, May 22, 2011


When my son got to the age of having "activities" outside of our home, we were in the position of making some decisions about how we wanted our family life to look.  Having met several of his 4-year old friends' moms who literally had a separate day planner for their 4 year old's activities, I was taken aback.  I noticed that although both parents had full-time jobs as did Jack and I, they also had a nanny who was in charge of getting said child to all these activities.  And that was not happening at the McKinney household.  I was teaching at the time and was experiencing the older children who were living this same lifestyle.  I remember one young lady who was very bright, but could not be quiet.  She was so obnoxiously social, it was causing problems in my class.  I ran a very independent style classroom, and this young lady couldn't organize her time on her own to complete any assignment.  When I sat down with her, the issue became glaringly obvious.  She was at French lessons every morning before school from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.  Then she came straight to school.  After school, she had about 30 minutes at the daycare next door before being shuttled over to gymnastics where she worked out from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. 4 days a week.  Then it was home, dinner, and finish any homework that was not done in the 30 min. at daycare.  Weekends were spent playing soccer, going to gymnastic meets, and more practice.  This child was exhausted and the only free-time she had was in my classroom.  So, she used that time to "play".  Because all children need "play" time.  Out of all this, came our family's philosophy.  You may do one activity at a time.

So, Stephen's first choice was soccer.  This proved to not be a great sport for him.  He was very good at the actual sport, but the running into people and knocking them down, was too hard for him.  He would score a goal and go back and apologize to the other kid!  So the next year he chose baseball. Every season we would ask, "what do you want to try this season?" and his answer was always "BASEBALL!!"

Allie on the other hand, tried ballet, gymnastics, piano, and then singing in the Capital City Girls' Choir.  She thought about trying softball or soccer, but when it became clear that she could not choose the color of her jersey, and she might have to wear something other than pink....she opted out!  Yep, a girlie girl from the beginning.

This method of one activity has really worked for our family.  Especially since we rarely had conflicts with either child's schedules.  Stephen played year round with a 3 month break in Dec., Jan., and Feb.  Allie's schedule was pretty set every Monday during the school year she had choir and then one performance in December and one in May.  Very quickly, baseball began to take over our family life.  Many a birthday and anniversary were spent at a baseball field.  We got to travel to some pretty neat places to watch baseball.  We have made some good friends watching our sons play.  Granted, as Allie got older, the allure wore off for her.

Last year when Stephen left for college, we knew our lives would change.  But surprisingly, baseball was the common thread.  We went down many weekends in the fall and spring to watch scrimmages and games.  Our family traveled to Savannah, GA, to a tournament.  So, even though my house didn't smell like baseball anymore, baseball was still a huge part of our lives.

Stephen has made a decision that will change our lifestyle.   He has finally decided it is time to move on to something new and leave baseball behind.  I think he has sacrificed so much for this sport over the years, that he is ready to just live.  He wants to get on with his life.  He realized that baseball as a way of life, wasn't what he wanted. Having recently gone through Jack's major life change, we get it!  We are sad of course, it is the end of a childhood dream.  But we are excited to see where life leads him now.  He will be leaving  UNC-Pembroke, which he really hated, and will enter Appalachian this fall.   He is excited.

So this summer will be his finale.  He will play with his legion team, and many of his childhood friends, as a farewell to the sport that has shaped him and seen him through many years.

Our lifestyle will change dramatically.  No more running to Pembroke on the weekends for a game.  No more baseballs in my yard.  No more net in my driveway.  No more buying summer clothes with "sitting in the sun for hours and sweating" in mind.

So, I will savor this summer.  I will cherish every play, every dirty uniform, every bit of red clay all over my house, and every smelly hat!  I will sit back and enjoy sharing this family lifestyle for just a little bit more.

Then, come fall, I will still have Allie and her Monday rehearsals.....I will cherish every moment driving her to and fro.  For I will have learned that I will miss our family philosophy:  You may do one activity at a time.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Love Thursday

Okay, this is a day late...Blogger wouldn't let me on yesterday...So, I am going to write today!

This week I'm loving:

1.  Feeling better.  Seriously!  I can hold my head up, and actually get out of bed!!!  I lost a whole month!!!!  But I am starting my way up!

2.  My family!  I had a great Mother's Day.  They are the best!

3.  Baseball!  It is so fun to watch games online or on tv with my hubby!

4.  My daughter...she just cracks me up.  She is so disciplined!  One day this week she chose to do homework instead of hanging out with her friends...she is great!!!

5.  Bunnies in my yard!!  They are so cute!

That is what I am loving this week...what are you loving?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Menu Monday

Today is Menu Monday, and because I was drugged out on Saturday, the day Jack and Allie go to the store, they took over.  Unfortunately, they don't shop the same way I do.  I must have a menu plan before I go to the store.  They just go and pick up stuff they know we will eat.  :-)  Hey, we all have different styles!  So I am going to make up a meal plan from what they bought.  I don't know that this is what we will ACTUALLY eat, but maybe close!

Monday - Trader Joe's Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

Tuesday - Spaghetti (never had it last week)

Wednesday - Subway sandwiches

Thursday - Grilled Chicken and Smashed Sweet Potatoes

Friday - Taco Salad

What are you eating this week?

Friday, May 6, 2011

"Has God caught up with you yet?"

Today has been interesting.  This morning as I drank my coffee and ate my breakfast, I turned on the TV to watch Grey's Anatomy which I had DVRed.  It was about Arizona and Callie's wedding.  In this episode, Callie's mother is seen refusing to hold the baby and really seeming not too excited about the whole ordeal.  Finally, when Callie confronts her mother, her mother lets loose.  This mother tells her child that she cannot and  will not have anything to do with this baby who is born out of wedlock and will not acknowledge this as a wedding since it is not legal nor moral.   The hero of this story comes in the form of Dr. Bailey. She says something in comforting Callie later that really touched me.  "Where do you think God is?  He's in you!  He's in me!  He's right here between the 2 of us.  The world, it just hasn't caught up to God yet, your mother just hasn't caught up to God yet."

Then I flipped over to watch one of Oprah's shows from this week.  It was on the Freedom Riders.  I was touched and bowled over by the bravery and strength that those people had.  They were 18, 19, 21, 28 years old!! Just children, really!  And  here they were, signing their wills and testaments and getting on a bus where they were mostly assured that they would die, get arrested, or beaten.  That takes my breath away.  Oprah asks, "What do you believe in so much that you would die for?"

Many leaders are drawing a correlation between the Civil Rights Movement and the GLBT Rights Movement.  Black people were considered "less than".  The Bible was used to say that Black people were inferior to White people.  White people were scared of Black people.  Black people were killed, hated, beaten, and not honored by any laws.  Today, GLBT people are considered "less than".  The Bible is used to say that GLBT people are inferior to Straight people.  Straight people are scared of GLBT people.  GLBT people are killed, hated, beaten and not honored by laws.

Are your children going to look back and say, "Wow,  my parents stood up in a time when many thought they were wrong, to do what was right"?  Or are they going to hang their head in embarrassment?

I pray God catches up with all of us soon.

(GLBT stands for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender) ( just in case you didn't know)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Love Thursday

It is THURSDAY!!!!  And you know what that means?  You get a peek into what I am thankful for this week!

So, today, I am loving:

1.  The smell of freshly cracked pepper sizzling in a little olive oil right before I drop my egg white into the tiny pan!  Mmmmmmmmmm, good!!!

2.  Watching my dog, Sunshine, go around the house excited, then when I sit in my chair in the bedroom, she plops on the floor and within minutes she is SAWING LOGS!!!  Too cute!!!

3.  Seeing all the pictures of mothers on facebook!  (gotta go get mine up!)

4.  Fresh clean sheets, pulled tight with no wrinkles!!!

5.  The feeling after going for 3 days without a shower and the clean feeling you get!  Just makes you come alive!!!

Yes, as you can tell, I have not been outside my house since last Thursday!  These are little things....but they do make me smile!!!!

What are you loving this week?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Being an Adult Sucks!

A break.  Finally a break.  My gut seems to be a bit more settled today, so maybe the Crohn's is taking a bit of a rest.  My fever has broken.  My iron levels are up.  Still a bit weak, afterall, I do have Mono still..but today my spirits are much higher.

It is one of those days I love.  The sun is shining, the air is crisp and cool.  My favorite kind of day.  So, how could one's spirits be low?

On my mind today is a theme that seems to be swirling around me.  Being a grownup stinks.  My college-aged son is at the point in his life, with one year of being on his own under his belt, when he is realizing that being an adult isn't all it is cracked up to be!  Then many of my middle-aged friends are at that point in their lives where their kids are leaving home or they themselves are recognizing that they are at that midway point and starting to wonder...Is this all there is?  Is there where I want to be for the rest of my life?  Why am I still here? Why am I not much farther along in my career, not much more financially stable, or not that in love with my spouse/partner?  We have all at some point and maybe at many points, stopped and ask ourselves variations of these questions.  Being a grownup carries lots of responsibilities.  As my son recently said, "There is so much stuff to keep up with."  And he is right.  The sad thing is, he doesn't even know the half of it yet.  It is fun to watch him as he grows up, but it is also a bit sad...I wish I could save him from the downs...but that isn't how we grow.

So how do we remain sane, much less happy?  How do we face the responsibilities that feel like lead weights bringing us down?  Well, this much I know to be true....when you follow your heart and love...you will get through.  This is the message I am giving my son right now.  Follow your heart, your passion.  Yes, there will be hard times, but if you are doing what you love with whomever you love, there will be strength.  Yes, sometimes you will want to give up, throw it all away, but then you look into your heart and you remember...this is what brings you joy, this person is who brings me joy, this job is what makes life better.  And you can do it.

Often we find ourselves doing jobs that don't bring us satisfaction, joy, love.  Often we find ourselves with burdens that outweigh our joy, such as medical bills, insurance premiums.  But we must persevere, we must keep striving for that which brings joy and satisfaction.  Maybe you are sacrificing right now so that your partner can follow their dream, maybe you are in a job right now that is not your passion, but pays the bills so that you can get one step closer to your dream job.  Maybe, you are waiting around for a job....any job....just to pay the bills.  Where is the joy there?  How do you reconcile that with your heart? Only you know the answer to that question and all the others.  At the end of the day, you must make the choices that you can live with.  Maybe your need to have no worries about money, leads you to a job that isn't necessarily joyful, but it brings you joy to not have to worry about money.  Maybe having to pinch every penny to not have to take on a third job while you wait for your dream job to become lucrative is what will bring you joy in the end.  I don't know.  I only know that the times in my life when our family has chosen out of love and care for each other, we have gotten through.  Oh, there have been many times I wanted to choose the more lucrative route, but I am glad I followed my heart.  It has been tough, it is tough right now, but I am content.  I know for me and my family we are on the right path for us.  And isn't that what really matters?

Thank you for listening to my babble.  Reading my thoughts.  And putting up with my self-interest!
Have a great day!  Remember, Love Thursday is tomorrow!  What will you be loving?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Love and Evil

I am sitting here today holding feelings that are familiar to me.  But feelings I don't want to carry around.  These feelings started in my childhood.  At a pretty early age I remember feeling like spanking me because I was bad was not right.  I felt like hurting me, wasn't what the adults in my life were supposed to do.  (before I get lots of hate mail here, my parents and I have talked about this...this is all they knew...we are good)  Even then using force to teach didn't feel like the right thing to do.

Then in my teens, I remember sitting in the choir loft at church.  An evangelist and several men in our church, were all in a room somewhere in the church praying over a female teen because she had declared she was a lesbian.  I remember feeling in my gut that this was coercion, and it could not be right.

Then I went to college.  One morning in convocation or chapel we had a professor speak.  This professor had been my first religion prof.  He was amazing.  He constantly asked questions, and really listened to your answers.  He questioned us until we answered with our thoughts, not the thoughts we had been taught in Sunday School.  He was the first person to "give me permission" to voice the doubts in my mind.  It was an exhilarating experience.  But on this morning he spoke about something that I knew very little about but would change my life forever.

He spoke about pacifism.  He told us about being in the war and the struggles he had with his conscience and what the Bible said about killing.  I had always hated guns because I had lost several friends as a kid to gun violence.  Before this morning they had simply scared me.  But that day, I found a place inside my soul open up, as if it had been waiting for a crack to let it shine.  Killing is wrong.  We as Christians should not condone war or the death penalty.  We should be about God's love, that is what Jesus taught.  Peace.

Then as an adult, I came face to face with Evil.  How as a Christian did I deal with this issue?  I was choosing peace over war, love over fear, etc.  But what about these evil people.  I taught in the inner cities and saw these abused, poor children who at the age of 7 already had walls up around their hearts so high and thick I couldn't get through.  Seven years old and they had already learned that no one cared.  I envisioned these young kids growing up and I saw into their futures...it would not be much different than those of their parents.  So, that means these evil people in the world were once small children who deserved a chance, but didn't get it.  That seemed so unfair.

So, I went to several people and discussed evil with them.  They were from different walks of life, and all people that I respected.  I got lots of different answers and yet there was a similar theme.  In truth, we are all born with evil and good in us.  We all have the capability to be evil or be good.  It is a matter of life circumstances, choices, and sometimes luck.

Today I am sitting here with conflicting feelings.  I just read a blog post about my husband's appearance on the Bill O'Reilly show.  It was filled with hate and venom.  So much so that shills went down my spine as I read.  I am also sitting here reading facebook statuses, watching tv news, seeing people question other's patriotism if they are not cheering over Osama Bin Laden's death.  All of these people are Christians.  They have all chosen to live their lives for good.  So how does one mesh all these thoughts and feelings together?

For me, it always begins with empathy.  I must, I believe, put my self in their shoes, feel their pain, and try to understand what brings them to this place of hate, or judgement.  When I do this, I can see why they might be in the place they are, without condoning their actions.  It is not easy.  It is much easier to yell back.  To get angry back at them.  But this is not what I feel called to do by Jesus.  I am called to love my neighbor as myself.  To treat others as I would want to be treated.

So today I must choose to listen, possibly ask questions, and to love, even those who are questioning my faith and my patriotism.  I must stand up for those whose rights have been taken away.  I must choose grace and mercy.  For this is how I want to be treated in return.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Return of Menu Mondays

I am working hard to get back into the habit of writing on my blog.  The practice of writing everyday will help me with writing my novel, I hope.  I taught my kids that they needed to write some everyday and eventually the words they really wanted to write would come....so I guess it is time to practice what I taught.  I am going to pick up some of my regular posts, like "Love Thursdays" and "Menu Mondays!"

Of course this week, I will not be doing much of the cooking at all.  Jack and Allie will do the majority.  And I have to add here, that Jack grilled steaks and baked potatoes Saturday night that were out of this world!  I am one lucky woman!

Okay, onto the menu for the week:

Monday - Quesadillas with Guacamole

Tuesday - Grilled Chicken with Sweet Potatoes Fries

Wednesday - Taco Salad

Thursday - Spaghetti

Friday - Breakfast!  (Bleeker's favorite!!)

What are you eating this week?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

From the Inside Looking Out

When I was quite young,  I remember it snowing in Texas.  This was a big deal, quite possibly my first snow.  But of course I was sick and not allowed to go outside.  I remember my older brother, Kip, making a snowball and handing it to me through the window.  I also remember pressing my feverish forehead against the cold pane of glass wistfully watching him play.  I have found myself in this same place quite often through my life.  When I was a teen, I was friends with people who were older than me.  I remember one time we were circled around the fireplace at the Bryson's and they were all talking about their futures.  Where they were going to college, what they were going to major in, when they wanted to get married, etc.  They turned to me and all I could say was, "I just hope I have a date to the prom."  I was still on the inside of youth, high school.  They were out in the "world".

I am reminded of these feelings today as I lay here in bed and look outside my window.  The sun is shining, the trees are green.  I hear mowers, blowers, and birds singing.  I see the statuses of my friends on facebook and they are outside doing fun things today.  My husband is out watching our son play baseball.  I wish I was outside today.  But alas, I am not.  These are the days that try me.  The days that that make it more difficult to choose to have a smile instead of frowning.  The days that make me want to vent, whine, cry.  Hard days.  But I can't stay here.  This place is toxic and very hard to climb out of the longer you stay.  So I climb out...

Even though my body is failing me right now, it is not terminal.  I will once again feel good.  Yes, it may not be as good as most people feel, but I don't know any better anyway!!  Even though I can feel my energy draining with each word I type, I can type.  I can think, I have access to a computer to be "connected".  I have a roof over my head, a comfortable bed, my room is a comfortable temperature, I have friends who love me, and family that adore me.  What more could I really ask for?

Life on the inside can sometimes be hard and lonely, but so can life on the outside.  So which do you choose today, to see the negative or positive?