Archive for January, 2012

Well Done!

Sometimes I think I can talk all day . . . write a dozen posts . . . scream from the mountaintops . . . write letters . . . over and over and over trying to explain the life we want for Chloe — the life that we think Chloe wants for herself.  Oftentimes my words fall on deaf ears (figuratively speaking).  Oftentimes my words fall on non-understanding ears.  Oftentimes my words fall to the ground because the hearer doesn’t want to hear or understand.  Oftentimes my words are given a sympathetic grin and pushed aside as a sweet mama in denial speaking non-sense.

And then I see a video that a precious mama made this week for her 2 year old daughter who has Down Syndrome.  The video is powerful — I cried and cried with the power and the truth.  At the time I am posting this, this video has only been viewed 301 times.  I’m hoping many more people see it.  I’m hoping that lots of the people who see it will be changed by it.  I’m hoping that through this video more people will understand the civil rights issue that our family and other families are fighting for.

Well done, sweet Mama!  I am sending my friends to watch your video:

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To Have or Not To Have

To Have or Not to Have . . . That is the question.

After Paul and I had been married for several years, it was the natural conversation to have:  so . . . wanna have kids?

Growing up, my number one life goal and plan was to be a wife and a mom.  It was all I wanted to be.  Yeah, I wanted to be a teacher, too, but it was certainly secondary.  In fact, I’m not sure I decided to be a teacher until I was in college and had to come up with something to do with my life.

When Paul and I began to have those thoughts and conversations of whether or not to have children, we both were a bit surprised at our answer.  No. 

We decided that NO we weren’t going to have children.  It’s not that we didn’t like children because we did.  It’s not that we were scared or nervous or weirded out because we weren’t.  Our decision to NOT have children was a very logical — oddly unemotional — decision.

You see, as we thought of WHY to have children, we could only come up with selfish answers.  –To have someone to care for me when I’m old.  –To enjoy their cuteness.  –To create a mini-ME.  –To pass on the things that are important to me.  (These aren’t really the reasons that we listed, but you get the idea. . . . they all seemed like selfish answers.)

One day Paul and I were visiting with a college friend — a single guy who was off being successful in his career.  Probably he had had no thoughts of the pros and cons of having children.  Paul explained our predicament and decision to our friend.  Without hesitation, this friend corrected us, shocked that we had come to that conclusion at all.

He explained that having children was the most –absolutely most — selfless thing a person could do.  To put everything in your life aside in order to raise a child was the greatest act of selflessness he could imagine.  To give of your  finances in order to provide for your child.  To give of your time and your plan in order to accomodate and nuture a child.  Having children is a total redo of your priorities in order to raise that child.

Our friend added some more good points to his argument.  The Bible teaches us to procreate . . . to have children. . . . to fill the earth.  He explained that it is pretty clear that the plan is for couples to have children.  If we decide NOT to have children, then we need to have a reason not to — not the other way around.  It’s not up to us to find a reason to have children.  God has told us to do so, and the act of having and raising children is not selfish.  period.

And that was that.  We decided right there on the spot that we would have children after all.  Granted, it was still several years away since we had some fertility issues, but we decided that day to have children.

And today we have 3.   And I am focusing this year on delighting in them.  They do delight me.  I just sometimes am too busy to stop and enjoy them and delight in them. 

Delight in 2012

Annie’s Coming Out (the book)

Annie's Coming OutI recently read the book Annie’s Coming Out and was challenged and educated and stirred. The book is about a young girl, Annie who was born in Australia in the mid ’60s, diagnosed with cerebral palsy/athetosis, and sentenced to a life in an institution for mentally retarded children.

To think how recently ago children with less-than-perfect bodies were nearly-across-the-board placed in institutions is harrowing. I know that there were still a few families that chose to keep their children at home, but most saw institutionalization as their only option. Most were told by doctors that the child would be better off in an institution. Once dropped off at the door of the institution, a lot of the children never saw their families again. Some only saw their families once or twice a year.

The book Annie’s Coming Out paints a pretty nasty picture of life in an institution — cruel treatment; starvation; no stimulation; no conversation; no touch; no music or toys; nurses and caregivers who didn’t care or understand; tiny, helpless lives stuck in a void and an emptiness and a cruelty by a bureaucracy and society that is blind to their own repulsive actions.

While our society today is not as quick to drop off a child with different abilities in an institution, it is a practice that still occurs certainly.  And I have heard that perhaps the living conditions in these institutions has not made a ton of improvement.  It is a sobering thought.

Thankfully for Annie and several other children who had spent their lives in the institution, a wonderful teacher came along and believed in stimulating them.  Rose, the gifted teacher, admits that she had no idea of how bright the children were before she started teaching them, but she saw it more as a right that they had to be spoken to and stimulated.

What follows is an amazing story of unlocking the communication of a few of these children.  These children who had never in their lives been able to communicate with another person were finally supported enough to be able to communicate to Rose.  What she learned was that some of these so-called mentally retarded children were extremely bright, able to learn to read and do complicated math and understand politics and law!

The power of communication is a great emphasis of the book.  For it is communication that made the difference for these children.  Communication brought life to them . . .  brought purpose for them . . . brought the ability to dream to them.

Rose’s efforts with and on behalf of the children were far from supported by the bureaucracy and the governmental authorities.  Society was so set on pushing these seemingly worthless children aside that they could not begin to accept the fact that they were perhaps intelligent beings.  Everyone in authority tried to shut Rose down and keep her from educating and communicating with these children.

Through the book, Rose grows close to Annie and to a couple of the other children.  She takes a couple of the children home for the weekends and exposes them to real life outside the bland walls of the institution for the first time in their lives.

And the second half or so of the book is the story of Annie’s legal battle to become free.  Annie wants more than anything to be free from the institution.  She endures much hardship and several court battles to basically earn the right to be human — the right to live her own life and to make decisions for herself.

The book is a pretty easy read, only about 250 pages.  And it is certainly eye-opening and telling.  I recommend it to anyone who loves or is interested in supporting someone with intellectual or physical disabilities.  You can find the book at Amazon.com here, but it is not really a widely-available book.

The book was later made into a movie.  Paul and I will watch it in the next couple of weeks and will let you know our thoughts on it.  Let me know in the comments if you read Annie’s Coming Out!

Basketball’s Back!

Today, as we start the basketball season with our boys again, I wanted to share 3 videos from last year just to get us in the mood for sports!

I love watching my boys plays basketball.  I yell and cheer from the stands.  Sometimes they act like they don’t like it, but mostly I think they do.

This year practices will be a bit of a pain, but it’s only for 2 months.  Surely we can handle the schedule without much complaining.  Zippy has practice on Mondays, Elliot has practice on Tuesdays, and both boys have practice at the same time across town from each other on Thursdays.  Fun, fun.

Both boys will be on new teams this year — new coaches, new colors, new teams.  But they both get to keep their old number, apparently.  They were both excited about that.

And for your viewing pleasure, here are some videos from last year.  The first 2 are my boys each scoring a basket.  And the last one is Elliot getting whacked right in the face and falling to the floor — so excited I got that one on video.  🙂

 

 

Skunk

Driving on Christmas night, I saw a skunk on the side of the road. It was a real, live skunk.

Now, I must say that I’ve seen and smelled plenty of skunks in my time, but the number of live skunks?? Not many. Usually the skunks I see and smell are gross roadkill that turn my stomach. So it really got my attention to see a real, alive black with a white stripe skunk near my house.

It reminded me of one of my favorite childhood memories — a time when my parents encountered a real, live, stinky skunk. Here’s how I remember the story. (Watch the comments for my parents’ attempted corrections at the details of the story . . . I’ve warned you that I have a terrible memory.)

We lived in the country when I was growing up so nature and animals were part of our experience. But thankfully, the following run-in was a bit unusual even for us.

It seems that our dog cornered a little skunk in the corner of our garage. Not the far corner of the garage. Nope. He cornered the skunk in the corner next to the door leading to the house — the corner right in front of the air in-take. The altercation between dog and skunk filled our house with skunk scent in no time.

If I remember the story correctly, my brave dad stepped outside on the porch in his jammies and after some effort, caught the little scared skunk in a trashcan and hauled it off to the back of the yard. Yes, a brave and dangerous gesture, but it did nothing to get rid of the stench. The house –every inch of it — smelled of skunk.

Mom did lots of washing in tomato juice to cut through the skunk smell. Yuck. I’m guessing that we three kids did a lot of complaining about the smell that just wouldn’t stop. But then, the smell seemed to weaken a bit. Maybe it was going away.

The next week, my dad had an appointment in a building in downtown Fort Worth. He dressed in his suit and tie and made his way downtown. He stepped on the elevator and made his way up to the 6th floor. On about the 3rd floor, a couple of men stepped on the elevator with him. The men immediately smelled a skunk and started complaining about the smell. They could not believe that they were smelling a skunk in downtown Fort Worth and on the 6th floor! Crazy!

On the 6th floor, Dad let the other men step off the elevator, but Dad pushed the button to go back to the 1st floor. He rode the elevator down and walked out to his car. He made his way home and reported to my mom that he smelled like a skunk and that she had some more laundry to do. Apparently the skunk smell was in everything, including all of our clothes.

Most times when I smell a skunk, I think of this story and smile. How embarrassing to be the skunk that someone smells in an elevator in downtown Fort Worth! Just another experience that probably made my dad’s character even stronger! Humility is a good thing, right? 🙂

LIKE

I would be DELIGHTED if you like my new facebook page!  🙂

See the link below and to the right.  Click to like.  And then go visit the page!

Or just click here.

Happy New Year!

DELIGHT in 2012

DELIGHT

It’s my word for 2012.

In thinking about my life and my time and the people I love, I chose the word DELIGHT to be my focus for the year 2012.

Today, the first day of 2012, I begin my focus and my meditation and my aim for delight.  Finding delight, acting in delight, claiming delight.

So much of my life is consumed with making sure things are covered, making sure things are done, making sure things are thought through and accomplished.  So much of my life is often stressful, often un-fun, often serious, often daunting.  So much of my life tends toward serious, life stuff.

And so often, I am bogged down in the seriousness of life.  So often I realize I haven’t laughed in too long.  So often I realize I am not enjoying my children.  I often realize that I am too busy or too stressed to have fun with my husband.  When I stop and think about what brings me joy, I hesitate a little longer than I wish I did as I try to think of my answer.

I am setting out to DELIGHT in things I love this year.

Delight to me includes:  happiness, contentment, joy, laughter, sunshine, fulfillment, yellow, bright, pleased, blessed, joy, smiles, fun, enjoyment, deep-heart happy.  Delight is also going to involve some action for me this year.  Not just feeling it in my spirit, but acting on it!  Acting on it to the point that people notice it.

I will delight in Paul, my husband of nearly 20 years.  In fact, we celebrate our 20th anniversary this year, and I would love nothing more than to celebrate it right in the middle of my Year of Delight actually delighting in him!  I want to bless him and be blessed by him.  I want us to have fun together — even spontaneous fun!  Not too many years ago, Paul and I had the type of relationship that people looked at with envy and commented how it was so obvious that we enjoyed each other so much and were such good friends.  Seems like the hardness of life has zapped some of the joy and the fun from our relationship.  We have a strong bond, but perhaps some of the joy and fun are MIA.  I am aiming to change that this year — change it by starting in my own spirit this year.

I will delight in my children.  Elliot will become a teenager in my Year of Delight.  A teenager!!  My years with him are limited — he’s growing up.  He’s a great kid, and I want to relish in him and take time to stop and listen to him more.  Zippy is a lover, and I don’t stop and cuddle with him as much as I should.  I want to delight in my time with him.  I want to delight in the sound of his voice!  So much of my time with Chloe is consumed with therapy or stretching or practicing a skill — all of which are important.  But this year I want to enjoy being Mom when I’m with her.  In thinking of how to delight in my children, I want to laugh together and play together more in 2012.

I will delight in other people whom I love.  Life is oftentimes too busy, and I neglect the rest of my family and friends with whom I truly do want to connect.  As cold as it sounds, sometimes you just have to make it a commitment and mark it on your calendar in order to make it happen or else it just won’t happen.  So I would like to delight with some fun people — and commit to doing so.  (Dear friends, you know who you are!  So call me soon to schedule our fun times together!  LOL!)

I will delight in the Lord.  I will delight in my relationship with God.  In the past I have found such comfort and peace and joy in relying on the Lord, with time spent in prayer or reading the Bible or in worship.  Lately, it seems life has hardened me to the point that I am too cynical about many things — including things of the Lord.  I want to again delight in time spent with God.

I will delight in fun things — in having fun just for fun’s sake.  I can hardly type this with a straight face because it seems so forced.  But it’s important for us to have fun, and I want to make it a point to do so.  Not sure what this will look like for me this year.  Maybe playing games, maybe watching fun movies (I’ve become such a movie hater because I feel like it zaps a ton of time from my life for no reason whatsoever!), maybe reading books just for enjoyment, maybe saying yes more often when someone asks me to join them in something just for fun.  (I realize this makes me sound like quite a stick in the mud, but perhaps that is indeed exactly what I’ve slowly become.)

And those are my thoughts so far on Delight in 2012 and what it might mean for me.  I am excited to have a focus.  I know it will be a struggle at times as things occur that will temporary zap my joy and my delight, but my goal will be to always focus on some things in which I can delight — even in the midst of trials or frustrations!

Have you picked a word or a theme for 2012?  I would love to hear about it!

DELIGHT in 2012

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