Saturday, April 27, 2013

Not-so-secret Admirer

Last weekend, in random passing conversation, I heard someone tell her nephew that when she was growing up, she admired another little girl and wanted to be very much like her.

Tonight, on the way home from a day trip to my aunt's house, that same person, my cousin, told me the same thing, again, with a little more detail.

My cousin, Tarah, one if my best friends post-high school, my "Bean," told me something she had never told me before.

She told me that when we were little girls, she admired me. That she pretty much always has. That she wanted to be like me growing up. That it was a big deal and honor to be able to hang out with me in my room. That she played the clarinet in the school band... because I played the clarinet in the school band.

I never knew these things.

Growing up, we played together, loved each other, and were friends for many years. She's about 2.5 years younger than me, but it didn't matter. My cousins were some of my best friends. There were a few years that we weren't close, due to distance and some other issues, but then in college, we found each other again.

We found similarities in interests, life events, activities, passions, etc.

We became best friends.

We realized we are, in many ways, very much like each other. So much alike on ways, that we joked once to her mom over the phone "it's like we were spawn from the same being."

Yes, we used that particular phrase... because we are cool like that.

Her mom replied something to the effect of, "what do you mean you were spun from the same bean?!"

Oh, how we laughed.

And then, we got matching spinning bean tattoos.

Talking tonight, hearing her tell me those words... filled me with gratitude, joy, awkward embarrassment, a sense of awe, a paradoxical combination of humility and ego boost, and also reciprocity.

I think I was so blown away with the comment that I didn't tell her that I admire her too. I don't genuinely feel that I'm that admirable, and certainly don't see myself as such, but goodness, it felt absolutely magnificent to hear it. I felt (and still feel in the regular) like a socially awkward nerd.

I truthfully may not have wanted to be just like her growing up, partially because I was older... but there were things I admired about her all along. I always thought she was beautiful, funny, smart, strong, and brave.

And she still is. And I still admire her for those reasons, among others. She perseveres. She's a hard worker. She's compassionate. She's outgoing.

She's pretty spectacular. I'm lucky to have her.

So, in case I didn't say it aloud to you in the truck tonight...

Tarah, I admire you, too. Love you, Bean.

Thank you.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Abominable Ice Storm/Treepocalypse

The past few days have been somewhat surreal, in my opinion.

South Dakota has been smacked with a strange winter storm. It's like one I do not remember experiencing and it seems to have wreaked more havoc on the city than any storm I've experienced.

To make it even more absurd... I don't think it really even felt like a winter storm.

Normally, when I hear or experience a winter storm, I think blizzard. Lots if snow and high winds and sub-zero temps, and white out conditions.

This ice storm, in my limited experience (as in from inside the house), was more like a gentle rain.

Except it seemed to freeze as soon as it hit anything.

So... Every little inch of world seemed to be encased in inches of ice by Wednesday, which was pretty, but kind of creepy. You would go out and look around the neighborhood to see tons of trees had lost branches the size of small trees. This was in every yard as far as I could see.

I actually watched a tree branch fall a split second after a moving car passed under it. Nearly hit it in motion.

I watched three branches fall in neighbor yards, and watched one snap from our tree and land on the suburban. Thankfully, the beast, 'Burbie, is tough and nothing happened to it really.

As all this happened, power was going out all over town. When I called this morning to hear the update, 420 workers from four states were here trying to repair damage and restore power, and approximately 90,000 had been affected. Though, they are down to about 15,000 only (haha) being without power now.

Unfortunately, sometime before I woke yesterday morning, our house had joined the ranks of the power-less. We held out until about 3pm when it was 59 degrees and Jake had to work. Then, bless her heart, Jenn welcomed us all into her family's home.

The storm has ripped the power line away from the back of our house though. It's still connected, but dangling. So, when I called in yesterday to report the loss of power and the dangling line, they said they'd send someone to check it out. At that point they were hoping power would be restored at 11pm last night. Unfortunately, that was not the case for us.

Not only that, but we were told our house is a big fire risk with the line as-is and not to be there until they've repaired it. They said they would try to have that done by noon today.

That still doesn't mean the power will be on. This morning's automated update from the electric company states they hope to have it restored by tonight but will still be working on individual problems through tomorrow.

We are fortunate, really, for a few reasons. The first in that we held out until Thursday to lose our power. The second, that while there was power in the dangling line, our house didn't burst into flames. Third, no huge branches have fallen onto our house at this point, and I'm hoping it remains that way. And fourth, that we had a few options as to warm homes, and even though Jenn is incredibly busy working (she is a WAHM for Butterfly Designs- search it up on Facebook- she's amazing), that she opened up her home to us yesterday, not really knowing how long we might end up being without power, has helped provide food and drink for me and the boys because we didn't being ours not knowing we would be here this long, and for giving us a warm place to sleep last night, and still be yet this morning. We are incredibly thankful.

I'm hoping to be back home by tonight. Not that I don't love Jenn and her family, but it's always hard being away from home unexpectedly, and I think everyone is feeling that way a little bit, and I know that it's equally hard having people crash your home unexpectedly, too. Thank God for patience, grace, compassion, and understanding, right?

Here are a few photos from around my house/neighbors from Wednesday and Thursday. I've seen more on Instagram and Facebook also. When we drove over here yesterday, it was so... surreal, to see trees down everywhere, or huge trees broken in half right down the center with half standing and half laying down, and others bent over looking like giant umbrellas. I told Jake that I've never seen such sad looking trees.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Reality: WE NEED to END IT.

I'm ashamed to admit that I've been off in La-La Land in regard to tomorrow.

Tomorrow, April 9, is Shine a Light on Slavery Day.

Last night, I finally finished watching "Lincoln." I was musing to my husband that I just CANNOT WRAP MY MIND AROIND SLAVERY. How does ANYONE think a human can be bought? How can we interpret the Bible (as many did in the past rose oaky) to state than one race (or gender) is inferior as a human?

How can people be so entitled as to think they could own another human?

And after fuming about it for a while, I moved on and went about my business, thankful the 13th Amendment passed and we moved on.

And here is my public verbal slap in my own face.

Where did I get off thinking we have moved on?

Okay, I take it back. We have. We don't have African Americans and other minorities being bought and sold publicly like its no big deal.

But we haven't, not completely.

I KNOW slavery still exists. I have for some time. And yet, I'm able to forget.

I'm ashamed.

Slavery and human trafficking is very prevalent today. More than ever. And yes, it still exists in the United States.

I feel really... minuscule. I'm not Abe Lincoln and I don't think little Ol Me will make a huge difference.

But I like to believe that as a population, we can.

I'm glad I didn't miss out on a very simple way to stand against slavery. It might not make a real change, but it's a start. Tomorrow, I'm writing a red X on my hand. End it. Shine a light on slavery. It's what the movement is calling us to do.

Join us?

Because I know that not everyone will take the three seconds you would need to copy and paste that link into your address bar, let me just throw out a few facts from the site. They are sourced there, so if you want to dive deeper, please do.

• "Count to 60. Now do it again. In that time 4 children have been sold into slavery. That's 120 an hour. And 2,880 in a day who could be playing outside. Or learning their ABCs. Or running around with a soccer ball. What does that add up to? Over 1 million children losing their innocence and childhood to slavery each year."

Can you IMAGINE that? I can't. I CANNOT get a grasp on that image. All of those children. I have a nauseating ache in the pit of my stomach! Those are our BABIES. Those children were conceived as perfect in God's image and we are letting people defile that. It is abhorrent! Those children deserve love. Pure, real love. A mother's arms to hold them while they cry. A chance to run around in the sun, wind in their hair, and laughter gleaming from their eyes.

I'm crying.

I'm not kidding.

• "Slavery spans the globe, with 161 countries reported to be affected by human trafficking, either as sources, transit centers, or destinations. Not a big surprise when you consider that 27 million people worldwide are currently trapped in slavery. That's more slaves working than at any time in recorded history. Right now. And the problem isn't regional in nature. It spans the globe."

• "Most people think that slavery in the United States ended with the Civil War. But right now, as you read this, there are roughly 200,000 slaves working in America. And 17,000 more will be trafficked in the next year."

That's right. It's right in our backyard. It's on our home turf. It is HERE TOO.

• "Think that slavery is over with? Think again. Atlanta is one of the biggest hubs of slavery in the United States. They rank among the top 14 cities in the highest incidence of children used in prostitution. That's right, there are at least 13 other cities in the U.S. where slavery is present too. Probably more. Especially when you consider that 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. annually."

Does that not make you furious? It should!

• "That's it. People's lives are bought and sold and traded and shipped off, never to return, for $90 or less a piece. It costs the same amount of money to buy a nose-bleed section ticket to a major league baseball game as it does to purchase a human life. And, as the market value of the human trade is $32 billion a year, that should give you some idea of the scale of the problem from a purely human standpoint."

Can you imagine someone placing your ENTIRE WORTH AND VALUE at less than $100?

• "It doesn't cost you anything to get involved. You can fight for the release of those who cannot fight for themselves by taking up the cause and making people aware. You can give money, if you like, or energy or tirelessness. You can go fight through social media, through local or national government, or through the alarm bell of awareness. You can shine a light on slavery. You can END IT."

That's right. We can. I can't alone. But, why not try? Try a little? I can do that.

So can you.

Please, let's not ignore it. I'm so disgusted by it all. I can't believe I allow myself to forget.

Where's your X? Use your social media. Lets give the TWENTY SEVEN MILLION a voice.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Made to Love

This morning, I went to MOPs for the second time. Now, I will say it was my favorite gathering so far, which doesn't mean a ton, other than I enjoyed it more than the first time.

And yet... it means a bit more. In my opinion anyway.

This morning spoke to me more personally than the first meeting. The guest speaker, Ginny, was fantastic. She spoke on friendships.

The way she presented the topic reminded me SO MUCH of a day from my childhood, where my best friend, Michelle, and I sat down in her garage, I believe, and were discussing the same topic. Friendships. Where we were in our relationship compared to other friends in town. In not so many words, we had a very similar idea that was presented this morning.

The most coincidental part was that we too diagramed friendship relationships, using circles. Where others were in relation to our closeness.

Just for fun.

I didn't even realize it while Ginny was speaking, but rather a short time ago, back at home, while reflecting.

It seems that we knew what we were talking about at the time.

This morning was a little different in that Ginny took it to a deeper level, binging God into it.

My summary: you are the center. You're the heart of your relationship circle. The ONLY perfect friend that you could have I the heart of your circle is God.

She kept saying that in order to develop deep and meaningful friendships, true, inner circle friends, you had to "power up on the power source."

Loved that.

Anyway, to combat your loneliness and fulfill your desire to be heard, valued, and loved, you need to power up. God comes first. He can do that. He is always there. And he will always love you.

And then, with his power-up, you can have these true and deep friendships. But be selective as to who you let in your inner circle. These people should build you up, not criticize or condemn. They should accept and encourage you. They should support you. They should be honest. Don't let "trash" into your heart (bring negativity).

Thoughts to null over.

I must say that I've had a fairly large (compared to some) group of best/inner-circle friends. Six that I can name immediately, and for that I am amazingly blessed. Of these six, some are closer now than others, in distance and relationship, but I think I could call on any of these six if I need. Two of them, I feel incredibly blessed by, as they share similar life circumstances with me and are very close in distance. I will be honest in saying that seeing them weekly (give or take) is definitely a saving grace.

Relationships, as I've known in the past, change and wane sometimes. It's true that these inner six and I have gone through changes, and maybe some have waned a bit.

I hope that my friends see me as a good friend, too. I try to be.

She also talked of marital relationships, and honestly, it was what I needed. Last night was rough. Things have been kind if stressful at home since the loss of Jake's former job, an antsy toddler with cabin fever, a teething baby (he's really not that bad as I probably portray in my frazzled texts to my husband as I listen to screaming boys...), and my out-of-wack-post-breastfeeding hormones throwing me for quite a loop.

The other night, Jake said he would do dishes. And he didn't.

And then yesterday was TOUGH. And last night, I had a meltdown.

Ginny used the illustration that when you ask your husband to do something, or he says he will, and doesn't, we often take that to as "he doesn't hear me, doesn't understand me, doesn't value me." (I think those were the three she said.) then, that leads to "he doesn't love me." Because love is shown by hearing, understanding, and valuing another (among other things). But that's not true.

I know it's not, but I tell you what, sometimes it really feels that way. Especially after you go through the situation time and time again for years on end.

People will fail you. People will disappoint. Not always, and hopefully not often, but it's inevitable. Because we aren't perfecto only Jesus is.

She challenged us to call on him and his perfect love for us in times of loneliness. Before calling a friend. Before your husband. Before Facebook.

I don't think it has to be a long call to God. I have always been of the "silent prayer/conversation with God" variety, not aloud, and I offer my thoughts often. Though its not always first.

So, I'll try. I don't think it will take away from my time for friendships at all. I think it will actually add to them.

We were created to love. We were created for community. The first was man and God. Then, with God, we love others.

I'm sorry for lack of cohesion in this post. It's another sort of "note to self" writing.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

All or Nothing

This morning, during Spencer's weekly play date with his best friend (also known as my coffee date with one if my very best friends), the topic of "all or nothing" when it comes to kids came up.

All or nothing.

What do I mean by that? Well, in a way, it seeks, that children, particularly young children, they don't see in gray areas. Things are black and white. Cut and dry.

It can be very frustrating. When my toddler throws a fit for the umpteenth time because I say that fruit snacks aren't a meal, there are times I just really want to say "screw it, you can have them THIS TIME."

But toddlers don't work that way. Fruit snacks are either a meal always, or never.

And I've made those mistakes before. And I tell you what, that's why it's a fight nearly every time he asks now. He doesn't understand the "this time," part of my adult thought process.

The other day, my husband and I were watching a movie, "Hook," actually, and there is a scene in there were the little boy's dad PROMISES he will come to his big baseball game. And he doesn't follow through.

Heartbreak. That's what that feels like. I have experienced it as a child. I'm sure at some point, most children have, whether it is a parent promising to show up, or take them to the zoo, or a treat that they don't deliver. And while it is important in the rational mind to know that you will experience some disappointment at some time, it crushes a child.

I would go so far as to say that it discourages trust in the parent-child relationship. This morning, the statement was made that if your kid can't trust that you are going to follow through with some thing, it could lead them to not trust the fundamental part of your relationship- your love. It sounds extreme, but continual disappointment and lack of follow through really can affect a child that way and cause self-esteem issues.

I will be the first to admit that I'm not perfect in this way either. Just last night, for example, I told Spencer that if we could leave the park at that time, he could have a sucker when we got home. And then, I forgot about it. I assume he did too, because he didn't ask for one, but that's lucky for me, and the principle still stands.

My husband and I have been working on discipline and consequences with Spencer. It's difficult because he is extremely stubborn and different things with effectively for each of us to curb and redirect behaviors. I noticed something recently though.

Even if/when Spencer is in trouble, and I flick him on the forehead (not hard, but I've deduced his forehead is a heightened sensory point for him) and he cries, I am stern in my stance, but I still tell him I love him. I tell him I'm unhappy with his choice or behavior and that it was not a good thing to do, but even in the discipline, I tell him I love him. I ask for a kids or hug. Sometimes I get one, sometimes I don't.

I've also found that I ask Jake to do the same. If he is mad at Spencer, I still request, even if he would prefer to get away from him for a while, to tell him he loves him and ask for that hug and kiss. Yes, go ahead and be mad, but be loving about it too. Right? In no way do I think Jake is a bad parent or his disciplines are bad, I just know we are different, and I feel like the loving part of those mad moments are important for our young child. And really, I don't think I'm giving him enough credit, because I know it's not like I have to always ask him to do that part of it. It comes naturally for him pretty often, too. And I'm sure I don't ALWAYS do it. I'm not a perfect parent either.

But, we are parents. We are blessed with the burden of raising our children, in a household of trust and love.

I'm not writing this for any real purpose other than for myself to remember the conversation and these thoughts, but if someone else were to benefit, that's great, too.

Anyone have any input?