Saturday, November 29, 2014

My Thoughts on Ferguson...



We are one race...the human one. With lots of beautiful and unique varieties and cultures. Just love one another. Focus on our commonalities and realize that all of us are here, sharing space on this earth, at the same time. We are an imperfect species, all of us. But...we can do better by each other. Listen to each other. Stop the hate and unrest. Nothing to be gained by shouting and disrupting and violence. No one ever respects you more because you're yelling and being intimidating. They only listen because you are yelling and being intimidating. How is that a victory that means anything? Submission bought by fear is not respect. It shouldn't be the ultimate goal. You want to be heard? Be respectful in your speech and say something that produces positive results. a lot of people are doing that. A lot of people are not.

This picture says more about the REAL status of relationships in our country than all of the images of anger and raised fists. Love conquers all. I am a white woman who happens to love and adore my family of all races and ethnic groups. And they love me back! You hear me? I really, genuinely love them ALL and nothing will ever change that. I hurt when they are hurting. I celebrate their successes. I hold their hands and hug their necks. I pray with them and sing and worship with them. I see the struggle and I know it is REAL. We are all created equal and should be treated accordingly. I couldn't agree more! Things need to change. We all see that. But now what?
I'm tired of hearing all of this division and strife on behalf of this one incident. Protests will not undo what happened. They can't bring Michael Brown back. Let this young man rest in peace now. Let his family begin to grieve properly. Let the healing process begin.

The grand jury decision will not be changed because of protests. Justice has been served. Maybe not the justice some wanted or were expecting, but it is what it is. The legal system worked as it is intended to. Not by mob rule, but by existing laws. There is no going back. No amount of civil disobedience or burned out businesses or mall closings or traffic obstructions will alter that reality. What can be done now to move forward to effect POSITIVE change? That should be the conversation we are having at this point. How can we be the change we want to see? Our children need adults and representatives to look up to and emulate. They need to see us respecting each other and listening to each other with the intent to understand. Seeing rioting and looting and disrupting Christmas tree lighting ceremonies and frightening little kids who showed up to sing carols (last night in Seattle) is not going to improve race relations. It only widens the gap of frustration and distrust. There's enough of that going on already, don't you think? We need to stop acting out in anger. Having a four month long nationwide temper tantrum over this issue is not bearing good fruit that will sustain anything positive long-term. I'm sorry but it won't. We just keep picking at a wound that cannot heal properly until we carefully nurture it, tend to it and give it time.

This article gives me hope. This picture makes me cry. We can't say that all police officers are racist. It simply isn't true. We can't say all black youth are thugs and criminals. It simply isn't true. Let's be honest with ourselves. Plenty of black and Hispanic cops are unfortunately racist. Plenty of young white kids are certainly thugs and criminals. The truth is that we all should be seen and judged fairly individually, not collectively, by the content of our character and not by the color of our skin. We should all expect consequences appropriate to our choices and actions. We should all be accountable and take personal responsibility for our own behavior. I love the message of the kid in this picture. He was brave enough to stand out in the crowd and offer free hugs in a climate of unrest. I wish I could hug him and wipe away his tears myself. The officer came forward and asked for a hug. They talked and embraced and shared a beautiful human moment. They both made a difference. The best kind.
Because when all is said and done, love is healing. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love conquers ALL.









I pray for a day when we can all move forward in love and in peace, hopefully somewhere on this side of forever.

Just my opinion...


Blessings,

Cat


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mouse Droppings, Mud Daubers and Dreams

I have dreams, y'all. Big, audacious ones. For instance, I'm in the process of writing a novel. I am in no way qualified or have a literary degree nor do I possess any other educationally relevant document that says I can legitimately claim the ability do so. But really...who cares about all of that, since I've just decided to go ahead and do it anyway. I have, by my own personally-sanctioned authority and by the powers vested in me by my ownself, officially declared that I am a legitimate author. Yes.You can do that. See? I just did.

I say I'm in the process but I don't want to be misleading you in any way and confuse that with any measurable progress at this point. Figuratively speaking, I've dipped my toe into the pool but don't actually have my swimsuit on yet. I'm struggling with the fact that there just don't ever seem to be enough big blocks of time to really dive in and deeply immerse myself in the process the way I want to.  I've just had another birthday and time seems to really be racing by, creating in me a sense of urgency that makes me want to go full-on Nike and 'JUST DO IT' already!  I'm inspired. I'm motivated. I'm positively bursting at the seams with creative ideas, twists and turns, and dialogue for this book which I've already basically completed in my mind. All I need to do is to simply transfer this information from my brain and into the computer, then tweak it a little, you know? Sounds pretty do-able when you put it that way. Grab your snorkel, hop in and just keep swimming, right? Yeah...not so much.

Honestly, that is precisely what I have planned to do about eleventy-bazillion times over the past few months or so, but to no avail. Life just keeps happening. Today, I was convinced that I was finally going to dive in and I was so excited. David took the kids to school. I sorted laundry, put in a load, did the dishes and went outside to the back deck, armed with a cup of coffee, my iPad, my trusty companion (Sparky the Chihuahua-nator, who diligently keeps the squirrels at bay) and tons of creative inspiration. I was determined to really put a dent in it this time. How did it go? You guessed it. Not well. Just as soon as I started writing, I was hijacked again by another tedious interruption because Sparky the squirrel scout began barking furiously at the rear garage door. I went over to get him to chill out, because he was seriously disturbing my groove. As I looked down in the direction he was barking, I saw to my horror (insert scary movie music here)...a bunch of mouse droppings and fuzzy stuff coming out from under the garage door. I know. Awesome, huh?

Now, you may be thinking to yourself that I could have just waited for David to come home and deal with it. Truthfully, I considered that. Then I reminded myself that my husband works insane hours, is exhausted when he gets home, and rarely gets the opportunity to really relax during the times that he's here with us. So, I chose to brave the garage and investigate. And I learned a few things during that investigation. Here they are in random order:


  • Storing bird seed in the garage for the winter is pretty much the equivalent of posting a blinking neon sign welcoming all nearby rodents to come on in and enjoy a luxurious buffet 'on the house'.
  • Mice and their friends and family members are extremely messy eaters and they poop and pee indiscriminately and prodigiously.
  • Mice can chew up pretty much anything they want to and turn it into a cozy (albeit disgusting) little nest for themselves.
  • My darling husband is one of the smartest guys I know but he does things that I'll never understand. Such as: Putting a bunch of random screws and nails into a small container and balancing it precariously on top of a bunch of other random stuff that is also balanced precariously on a shelf. All of which fell into the massive collection of empty sunflower seeds, mouse poop and other gross stuff I had just swept up into a pile. Which led me to my next discovery...
  • Shop Vacs are AWESOME. They can really suck up virtually anything. As it happens, they can even suck up random screws and nails like a champ! Good to know. Wanna know something my husband apparently doesn't know?
  • You should probably clean out the Shop-vac filter a bit more often than say, EVERY TEN YEARS OR SO. I'll just say "Eeewwww!" and leave it at that. *shudder* Never. Again.
  • Apparently, mice enjoy chewing up colored sidewalk chalk. Who knew? I'm still uncertain as to whether the Easter confetti appearance of their droppings was actually produced inside of the mice or just as a result of the chewing. I'll leave that one up to the mouse experts to ascertain. Yuck.
  • Carpet remnants left over from the Christmas parade need to be discarded and not stored in the garage. The carpet still contains numerous staples, one of which became embedded in my foot. (Hope my Tetanus shot is up to date...)
  • Dirt Daubers apparently build their creepy little dirt kingdoms waaaay back in the nooks and crannies of my garage that we never see unless I am cleaning up a bunch of mouse poop. Shop Vacs work for those as well. The wasps are evidently VERY protective of their icky mummified bug handiwork.
  • Thankfully, you can suck up angry wasps with a Shop Vac, too! Yep, right out of the sky where they fly! I'm not gonna lie. I found that to be a very satisfying exercise, indeed. 
  • If you sweep the little garage door sensors too vigorously, they will be misaligned somehow and the doors will not function. I'm totally leaving that one up to the hubby to sort out. I'm so done.

  • The Shop Vac company probably should hire me to be their next spokesperson.


Two and a half hours and a punctured foot later, I just wasn't in the mood to do anything except take a long, hot shower and spray myself directly with Lysol. From head to toe. Also, a call to the exterminator was in order. The last thing on my mind was the creative process, dialogue or character development of my book. Although, for grins and giggles and just to make the whole thing worthwhile...I may weave a mouse home invasion into the story line somehow. Yes. I may have to do just that.

You know what? It's all good. In this season of my life there will sometimes be necessary and often messy interruptions. No matter what life throws at me, I'm determined as ever to get this book done. Dream delayed but not dismayed. It may take me until after my kids graduate. From college. Be that as it may, I will complete this endeavor and I humbly believe it will be a whopping success. It really is a great story (if I do say so myself) and based on what I know for sure about God, it will not be late in coming out and will be right on time for whomever is intended to read it. Hopefully it will be some of you. And hopefully, I used 'whomever' correctly in that sentence above. I guess I should know that. You know...what with me being an official author and all.

For now, I must boldly go and complete some rather mundane mommy tasks. There is laundry to finish. Dinner to serve. Hubby is working late. Again. The kids are home and as per usual, they have left their socks and various items that they tracked in from school laying all over the floor and I...hey, wait a minute...

Oooh! I just had a flash of brilliance. Gotta go get the Shop Vac. Woohoo! Until next time...

Oh, wait...before I go, I'll leave a quick tip for all of you guys out there. You're welcome. 


Truth.


Blessings,

~Cat


















Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What Do You DO All Day?

Good day so far. I went to the gym and made it 45 minutes on the exercise bike. Went to the store, grabbed some stuff and have beef stew in the crock pot. I'm currently set up by the fire, resting my knee, listening to piano music and getting ready to work on my book as soon as I log off of FB. Don't be too impressed, though. I'm only mentioning these accomplishments because they are not exactly typical. I'm feeling good about it and just wanted to share.

One of the moms at the gym asked me the other day what my job was. I said that I'm a stay home mom. As usual this was followed by the question "Oh? How old are your kids?" After I told her I waited for the standard response and she didn't disappoint. "OMG, your kids are in school and you stay home? Wow. What do you DO all day? I would be so BORED."

*sigh*

Let me clear this up. I owe no one a justification for how I spend my day. Neither do you, whether you have a 'real job' or are a SAHM or are a single mom or dad or whatever! How I spend my day is between me and the man who pays my bills and supports and encourages me to do exactly what I'm doing. I am Pro-parent. Period. We all do what we do according to our particular resources and desires. We should be supporting one another and lifting each other up. I spend a lot of my time doing just that. Pouring love and encouragement into others. I feel am called to do this and I find it very fulfilling. I believe it is time well spent, though I don't receive monetary compensation for it. Loving others and encouraging them is never boring.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I had my children quite a bit later in life. We planned and saved for a family for seven LONG years, believing in faith that we would be blessed with children. I was another rat running the race for a LOT of years. I've worked and supported myself since I was 16 years old and worked right up until I became pregnant with my first child, 11 years ago. My husband and I agreed that from then on, being a mom my would be my primary vocation. I'm grateful for the ability to do this and I know I am fortunate. I know some people think I'm wasting my life being devoted entirely to children who will eventually grow up and move on to begin their own lives and leave us with an empty nest. But don't worry about me. This is what we have sacrificed and saved for. My children are my everything in this season of my life and I'm giving it all I've got for them right now. Still, I have big plans and dreams that are not going unfulfilled. My life is FULL. I am writing a blog and working on my first novel. I'm singing on the worship team. I warm the bleachers several nights a week while my kids practice gymnastics. I have a best friend who loves me and I plan to keep devoting myself to him as long as God allows. Sounds boring to you? Maybe even (gasp) self indulgent? That's okay. I understand where you're coming from. But here's the truth...I'm not asking for more than that. I don't want to run a company or climb a corporate ladder. Believe me, I could if I wanted to...that's just not the choice I have made. If it is your thing, then I say GO FOR IT! Do it. Be the best career oriented mom or dad or even single person you can/want to be. If you must work to provide for your family, I applaud your stamina and perseverance for balancing a busy life! I really do admire you. Hardest thing ever. No judgment here. How about this? You do you. I'll do me. Easy enough.

Because I have this opportunity does not mean my life is easy and I don't experience challenges and difficulties. I certainly do. Still, I won't minimize your successes or your challenges and I would ask the same of you. Life is hard. Parenting is hard. Regardless of our status, whether single or married or whatever. Let us all celebrate one another. Ask me for help if you need it. Ask me for prayer if you need it. Call me or message me and you will find me ready to embrace you and love you through any difficulties you may be facing. I'll dance the happy dance with you when things go your way. This is the best I have and I offer it freely. I pray you will do the same for me if I call on you, too. Love. It is the loftiest goal of all. It is all I really want as my legacy. That everyone in my circle of influence felt loved by me and saw my unwavering faith in God. Everything else will fade away over time. Love and faith will be alive long after I'm gone in my children and in their children's children. I consider that the pinnacle of success. I'm totally nailing it.

So, what do I do all day? I'm busy building my legacy. Love to all.


Blessings,




~Cat




Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"It's Not My Fault!"

Well, I'm in a mood today, so remember...you were warned.

First of all, let me state for the the record that I love my country and I have a lot of respect for our elected officials and am grateful for the job that they do in representing us and governing our land. There are times, however, when the whole thing seems a little campy and insincere and I don't like that part. Last night was our country's annual 'applauding politicians on display doing choreographed knee bends in unison' accompanied by a 'say a lot of stuff while saying nothing much' speech from our current Commander-in-Chief, followed by hours of mindless interpretation and scrutinizing by countless talking heads on every media outlet known to man. This event is commonly referred to as the 'State of the Union Address.' These annual spectacles are almost always the same no matter which president is at the podium. I was hoping for a little more this year, though I don't know why. I guess I felt that given our challenges at the moment...our president might step up to the plate and knock one out of the park, giving me a feeling that he finally gets it. As per usual this particular speech was full of earnest, ideological, and hopeful speechifying but was lacking the ONE thing I was hoping to hear from our president, and that is: ACCOUNTABILITY. Not. One. Word. He never said "I could have done better" or "my only regret is..." or "I'm the leader of this country and the buck stops with me." I know, I'm a dreamer, right?

What did he do? He just pretended that we are all without brains and would blissfully ignore the big white elephant (no insult to Republicans intended) in the room which is that the state of our union is shaky at best. I mean...let's just be honest. There is a lot to be accountable for. Big mistakes have been made. We all know that. Everyone here should agree at least on the issue of the Affordable Care Act. It has been a big mess and the administration royally screwed up the implementation and the facts were misrepresented (I'm being nice, here...) and a lot of people are stranded right now without insurance and have no idea what to do. (This is true...look it up). That is unacceptable. They were not ready to implement the law but they did it anyway. That was a mistake. I know that everyone messes up and that's why I wanted to hear accountability. I would have really been impressed if he had taken personal responsibility and been a real leader and simply said: "We were wrong and we intend to do better. Here's how we are going to fix it." That would have gotten my attention. His approval rating right now is around 37%. He knows that many people have lost confidence in his policies and leadership ability. He knows he has lost some credibility even among his own supporters. And yet, he never once mentioned that and glossed over it all as though everything was peachy keen and our country is not all but a hot mess. His message was clear. "Blame Congress! These guys won't let me do what I want. They're being total boneheads (this is also true, you can look that up, too) and they are in my way. I give up! I can't work with these guys anymore. I'm going to have to bypass the rule of law and do my own thing. It's not my fault." That did not resonate with me, personally. Alas, it is an election year, so honesty and accountability are not possible in Washington, DC from either party at this time. Sad but true.

Let's forget about politics for a minute. Too depressing and I'm going somewhere with this, so stay with me.
I came across an article on Facebook this morning that really blew my mind but totally illustrates the point I'm trying to make. We are seeing this kind of thing far too often.

There was this 16 year old girl, you see, who wanted to go sky diving. It is not legal for a minor to jump out of a perfectly good airplane for no particular reason other than the 'fun' of it, so the parents were required to give their consent. And they willingly did so. The dad even decided to join in the fun. He went up with her in the plane and for some reason that my parental brain cannot begin to grasp whatsoever (but who am I to judge) he jumped out FIRST. Go figure. Maybe it was so he would be there when she landed. Maybe it was to 'show her how it is done.' All I know is that there is no way in H.E. double hockey sticks that I'm gonna leave one of my kids in an airplane with a parachute strapped on his/her back to go it alone. My eyes would not be leaving my child. Maybe that's just me, but what do I know? I wouldn't take my kid skydiving, anyway and like I said...who am I to judge? Ha!

Anywho...the 16 year old girl jumped out on a static line which automatically deployed her parachute but something apparently went wrong and she plummeted 3,000 feet to the ground. I know. Yikes! Although she suffered serious injuries, she miraculously survived. Yet another example of the old saying "If it's not your time...it's not your time," I guess. But that's when I read what the father had to say and it astounded me. Check this out...here is an excerpt of his comments:

"I don't think she should have been allowed at 16 to go up there and perform that type of jump, no matter what I say or she says, she shouldn't have been allowed," Joe Wethington said at the news conference. "I find it very hard to believe that the rules and regulations in Oklahoma are that lax. I think there is a flaw there somewhere, and I don't think it's through the state of Oklahoma. I think it's the company. I'm not sure."

I'm not even making this up, y'all! You can read the whole article here... http://www.khou.com/news/texas-news/16-year-old-girl-falls-3000-feet-in-skydiving-accident-survives-242570671.html

Huh? What the wha??? Somebody sounds awfully confused. There is a flaw somewhere, dude and I can see it clearly. And yeah...I smell it, too. A lawsuit. This guy is likely going to try to sue the company for allowing his daughter to skydive, even though he signed the consent form to let her. He's playing the "It's not my fault" card. Talk about a lack of accountability. This is her dad. The buck stops with him. And he jumped first. He knew what 'type of jump' she would be doing because they both trained for it beforehand. He was made aware of the dangers but signed on the dotted line anyway. Are you kidding me? That is his statement? How about..."Thank God she's alive!!! All that matters to us now is that our child is safe and we need to focus on her recovery and getting her well. We are going to quietly celebrate our miracle now." Sheesh! Sure, he's probably feeling really guilty and remorseful about the part he played in what could have been the catastrophic loss of his child. He knows it was his decision. I understand that. Still, this is exactly the kind of nonsense I'm talking about. And in my opinion, which is worth what you paid for it, it is entirely too pervasive and it needs to stop. It is sending our kids the wrong message and I'm so tired of the excuses and the blame game and the 'get my attorney on the phone' mentality.

So here's my message for the day. You can take it or leave it just like you do all of the other stuff I say on here. I'm sure you are all responsible adults and already are aware of this but it will feel better if I just get this off my chest, if you will indulge me.

Please realize that life is all about choices. As adults, we all do the best we can (I'm assuming) and we win some and we lose some. As a result of the choices we intentionally make on a daily basis, there will be consequences, sometimes good and sometimes bad and we all need to take personal responsibility for the choices and decisions that we make. No matter what the outcome is. That's life. If you are at fault, own up to it. Stuff happens. Other people make mistakes that can sometimes accidentally affect our lives adversely. If you can, try to give grace to others as you would like it measured out to you. We are all here at the same time doing life together. It should be our goal to try to leave the world a little better off when we are gone. If we don't take responsibility for the stuff we do, we will not grow. We will not flourish and we will pass along the same stunted mentality on to the next generation. I'm not willing to do that so I will be paying attention to my own words and deeds to be sure I am practicing what I am (yes it totally sounds like) preaching. I am teaching this to my kids and enforcing it to the best of my ability. I hope we are all striving to do the same. We must lead by example, drop the excuses we make for ourselves and for our children and simply own our own stuff. Am I right or am I right? ;o)

I bring up this subject and say what I do out of frustration but also with love. I know that God is in control as always and that nothing that we say or do is a surprise to Him. He alone is worthy of all praise. Having said that, we are called to remind and gently nudge one another in the right direction now and then so I decided to go ahead and publish this post and pray the message goes where it may be best received.

If I have offended anyone, then that's on you. You shouldn't have kept reading until the end. It's not my fault! (Hahaha...gotcha. I'm only kidding!)
Hopefully, I haven't offended anyone but I sincerely regret it if I have. My intention is to share my thoughts with transparency and with honesty so that some day, when they're older, my kids will know what their mom was thinking about during their childhood. Hopefully it somehow blesses everyone who is along for the ride! Thank you for reading and supporting my little blog. All my love to all of you.

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. ~ Proverbs 28:13


Okay...I'm done here.

Blessings,

~Cat




Friday, January 3, 2014

I am a Person of Color. White (or kinda Peachy) is a Color

Okay...here we go. I'm taking a risk with this one, I know. But as they say...nothing ventured, nothing gained. I'm going to venture out there for a second and see if anything can be gained. Please read with an open mind and with the intent to understand. I am writing this in love and with respect. Please leave your knee jerk judgments at the door before you walk into this one. I dedicate this blog to the future of all of our children. I pray they will sow love and peace and real equality into the generations to come. I hope you will join me in that sentiment.

I've been spending my down time during the holidays doing quite a bit of reading. Some has been for fun, some for researching my book and some just to catch up on current events. I love reading, period. Something I was reading recently got me thinking. It was an excerpt from the blog of Dr. Alveda King (Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr's niece. http://www.priestsforlife.org/africanamerican/blog/index.php/2013/12

She posted this quote of her uncle's from a 1967 Christmas sermon:

“The next thing we must be concerned about if we are to have peace on earth and good will toward men is the nonviolent affirmation of the sacredness of all human life. …Man is a child of God, made in His image, and therefore must be respected as such….And when we truly believe in the sacredness of human personality, we won’t exploit people, we won’t trample over people with the iron feet of oppression, we won’t kill anybody.”

I enjoy reading her blog. And I love the writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. He was an incredible visionary and devoted man of God. He was courageous and remarkable in his willingness to speak out about his faith, views and beliefs whether or not they were politically correct or acceptable in the minds of the masses. He believed in racial equality. Really, human equality. He believed in a sovereign God. He was a follower of Jesus' teachings. He believed in the sacredness of ALL human life. That can't be stressed enough. How I wish he had been able to follow through with the movement he started. Where would we be now? As a nation? As a global community? I can only wonder.

All across the nation, there are memorial highways and boulevards and buildings dedicated to his memory. To his life's work. We even take a day off to memorialize him as a nation. We should. We should all just STOP on MLK day to reflect on the man and his mission and his ministry. His was a deep message. A mature and meaningful one. I feel, at times, that we are too selfish and too immature as a country to fully understand, grasp or more importantly...to emulate the spirit and commitment to human equality that MLK wanted us all to embrace. If you search your own heart, do you come to the same conclusion? Look around you. Read the millions of opinionated and often ignorant comments by your fellow Americans on the issue of race. It will curl your hair. It does mine. It makes me sad and mad and impotently frustrated to see how divided we still are on some fronts. Sadly, I feel the current administration of our government and the main stream media, just add fuel to a long burning fire that will only be extinguished when the people we have allowed into positions of power and leadership stop setting a poor example of division, derision and confusion among the very people they serve. Of course, this is just how I see it. Your outlook may be different. I respect that.

If you know me, you will agree that I'm a real (please pardon the cliche) 'people person.' I look at people and see first into their eyes. I'm looking for a spirit connection. I pay attention to their smiles and their faces. I just love people. We are all an example of God's limitless and beautiful creation. I'll talk to anyone. I love getting to know other people and I revel in our differences and uniqueness. I'm naturally curious and friendly when it comes to people of all races, religions and ethnic groups. This can be perceived as good and bad. I am at times naively unaware that people don't regard me in the same way. I have been wounded at times when people of other races have openly chastised me for crossing a boundary or breaking a rule that I wasn't even aware existed. There are apparently a lot of rules, you see. But as far as I can tell, there is no rule book, as it were, to consult to be certain that I do not unwittingly offend someone. This distresses me because I would never, ever set out to do anything hurtful or offensive to anyone. But unfortunately I have. More than once and it seems unfair to want so much to embrace my fellow humans while being keenly aware that they may not be too keen on embracing me back. I have been eyed with suspicion. I've been talked about behind my back. I've been made fun of and called names. I am sometimes judged simply by my appearance without the benefit of being allowed to present myself as an individual. It hurts when people do that. Sound familiar? I'll just bet it does. And in whichever direction this judgmental, prejudicial behavior is being projected it is DEAD WRONG. And that's all there is to it. I know Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. definitely would agree with me on that one. Google it if you don't believe me.

~And before I go any further, no matter what indignities or abuses or hard times I have seen in my lifetime, I will never, ever identify myself as a victim. Never. I am an overcomer through Jesus Christ. That is my identity. I was saved by grace. I am victorious.~

Aaaand...cue indignant responses. Let me save you the trouble. "Oh, reeeeaally? Miss white and privileged and high and mighty? You don't understand the struggle! You've never known real discrimination." (Yes, I have). "You don't know lack or poverty." (I've been homeless). "You don't understand what it's like to be under a generational curse of a lack of education and substance abuse." (Yes, actually, I do). You don't know what oppression feels like." (I totally do, unfortunately). You don't know what it's like to be on the wrong side of the social wall that separates the haves from the have-nots!" (Umm...not a lot of my contemporaries know more about that experience than I do. If you don't believe me, go back into the archives of this blog and read my story). "Well, wait just a minute...you've NEVER been a person of color now, have you?" Yeah, okay. You've got me there. Well, actually...I'm classified as white. White is a color. So, I can only speak from my own experiences as a white female living in America. So what? That is all any of us can do. Speak from our own, individual life experience. I'm certain that there are quite a few who can tell a sadder story than mine. There are also many who have been raised in strong, loving family environments that were far more enjoyable and advantageous than my growing up experience. White, Black, Asian, Indian, Hispanic, Jewish, or whatever. All different but with individual life experiences. Once again, I will say...so what?

Your ancestors may have been slaves. Or kings or criminals or servants or ranchers or architects or political leaders. Members of the KKK or cattle barons, tenant farmers or in my case, poor Irish immigrants. Read up a little on how Irish immigrants fared when they stepped off the boat onto American soil. Not necessarily ideal. Everyone has a back story. We all came from someplace but they way I see it, it's not where or who you came from but where you are going that really matters most!

Please don't take what I'm saying as insensitivity to the struggles of certain groups of people. I've read the horrifying history and seen the ugliness of bigotry first hand. And I've always hated it. But here's the thing...There are good and bad folks in all walks of life. My point is that the more we purposefully segregate ourselves and compete for the right to be the biggest victims or the most oppressed or wronged people, the further away from MLK's dream we are slipping away. Are we judging each other by the color of our skin or by the content of each individual person's character? If we are to truly grow and move forward, we have to start holding each other accountable for the content of our own character and not be protecting each other merely because those who transgress against others may belong to our own group or race. Right and wrong know no particular ethnicity. We need to stop making excuses for our fellow Americans and start expecting personal responsibility and accountability from every citizen in equal measure. Will there be injustices? Yes. But if we remove the scales from our eyes and truly see things as they are...injustices exist everywhere. Are we willing to fight against them all? Will we speak up for our brother or sister from another race even when one of  'our own' is the one at fault? Will we stand up for what is right and denounce what is wrong? Will we be color blind in our commitment to see those wrongs righted? I pray that we will. I'm committed to do my part and to teach my children to do the same.

Let's strive not to be easily offended when someone makes a mistake that breaks a cultural 'rule' that they may not even be aware of. Let us embrace one another with the same grace and mercy our heavenly Father does. Let us walk in forgiveness and move forward without dragging the baggage of the past along for the ride. We won't always see eye to eye. but let that be okay. Let others be who they are without judgment or ridicule. Let us love our neighbor as ourselves. Do I sound naive? I don't care. Like Reverend King, I have a dream, too. I am dreaming big on this one!

The following is an excerpt from an article that really lines up with what I'm trying to say. You can read the full story here: http://www.cerm.info/bible_studies/Topical/racism.htm


There is only one race—the human race. Caucasians, Africans, Asians, Indians, Arabs, and Jews are not different races. Rather, they are different ethnicities of the human race. All human beings have the same physical characteristics (with minor variations, of course). More importantly, all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). God loved the world so much that He sent Jesus to lay down His life for us (John 3:16). The “world” obviously includes all ethnic groups.

 God does not show partiality or favoritism (Deuteronomy 10:17; Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9), and neither should we. James 2:4 describes those who discriminate as “judges with evil thoughts.” Instead, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves (James 2:8). In the Old Testament, God divided humanity into two “racial” groups: Jews and Gentiles. God’s intent was for the Jews to be a kingdom of priests, ministering to the Gentile nations. Instead, for the most part, the Jews became proud of their status and despised the Gentiles. Jesus Christ put an end to this, destroying the dividing wall of hostility (Ephesians 2:14). All forms of racism, prejudice, and discrimination are affronts to the work of Christ on the cross. 

Jesus commands us to love one another as He loves us (John 13:34). If God is impartial and loves us with impartiality, then we need to love others with that same high standard. Jesus teaches in Matthew 25 that whatever we do to the least of His brothers, we do to Him. If we treat a person with contempt, we are mistreating a person created in God’s image; we are hurting somebody whom God loves and for whom Jesus died.

 Racism, in varying forms and to various degrees, has been a plague on humanity for thousands of years. Brothers and sisters of every ethnicity, this should NOT be. Victims of racism, prejudice, and discrimination need to forgive. Ephesians 4:32 declares, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” Racists may not deserve your forgiveness, but we deserved God’s forgiveness far less. Those who practice racism, prejudice, and discrimination need to repent. “Present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Romans 6:13).May Galatians 3:28 be completely realized, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”




Amen!! 

Whoever you are and wherever you come from, I send you blessings and love for the coming year. May your every happiness be realized and may you find peace and contentment wherever you go.


~Cat




Friday, November 29, 2013

God is Old and He's SLOW

A girl I used to work with was a massage therapist. The best part was that while she was working out the kinks and stress from my muscles, she was also a really great listener and gave awesome advice. I used to say she was my therapist who happened to give massages because I received two services for the price of one. Her name was Gretchen and she was one of those people who is an angel on earth just when you need one. Whenever I was griping to her about something I was hoping/believing for but was not seeing any progress with, she would smack me one and say, "Girl, be patient. He hears you. Just remember that God is old and He's slow!

I always giggled when she said that because it put a funny visual in my head. But the truth is, I took a lot of wisdom out of that one little phrase that was part joke and part reminder that God is timeless and that He literally has all the time in the world to do whatever He sees fit whenever the timing is exactly right. Sometimes we have desires or needs that we want resolved immediately. Hurts we want healed. Relationships we want restored. Pain that we beg to subside. Grief that seems interminably long. We cry out to God and say "Hey, you're God. Why can't you just fix this, already!" Or something to that effect. We pray and we wait. And wait. We stretch our faith and try to keep the flicker of hope alive  as we keep on waiting. Eventually, we may be forced to move on and just hope for the best. Can you relate?

Here's a story to illustrate my point:

Once upon a time, when I was a young girl, I had that intense and overpowering experience of my first real love. He was a great guy and I thought he was perfect in every way. He was tall and handsome and strong. I had never met anyone who made me feel so special and cherished. I thought about him constantly and when we were apart, I counted the minutes until I would see him again. I was so in love and so in awe of him that I thought he was the knight in shining armor in my Cinderella story. I fantasized about all of the places we would go and things we would do together. We would be Mr.and Mrs. fabulously, perfectly happy. I was young and naive. I thought we would love each other forever and live happily ever after.

Enter: reality. My family life was falling apart. His family wasn't crazy about me or the status of my family life.(I don't blame them). I started to be afraid that he would be like so many other males I had trusted in my life and he would leave me. I had some worthiness issues. People close to me whispered into my ear that I wasn't good enough for him and that if I held onto him, I would drag him down with me and would that really be fair? Was I that selfish? Would loving me ruin his life or his future? I knew he sincerely loved me. I knew he was willing to take care of me. I knew he would stand by me but I allowed people to convince me that he would stay with me out of obligation. That he would stay by my side because he was an honorable guy and he felt sorry and responsible for me. Eventually he would see me as a liability. This pricked at my pride. Those castle walls I had imagined began to crumble. In my desperation, I began to put up emotional walls of my own. I began to rebel. I hurt him and pushed him away. I was nobody's charity case. I'm sure you can see where this is headed. To make a long story short, I began to make a series of disastrous choices that coincided with the time that I was thrown out into the world as an emancipated minor. I was afraid and alone and had lost all hope of retrieving my knight or my fairy tale. Just for good measure, by my naive and foolish actions, I blew up the castle and my heart was shattered into a million pieces in the process. ~The end

Well, not exactly. God had a plan for my life. I had a destiny to fulfill. I began trudging through the mud with the faint glimmer of hope that somehow, I would survive. I fell down and got back up countless times. I made bad choices and learned some tough lessons. Eventually, I began to work harder and make better choices. My God supplied all of my needs, if not necessarily all of my wants. As I matured and healed, I felt more and more hopeful that I would find that pure kind of healthy, unconditional love I had felt when I was younger. I let that be my ideal goal. To experience that happy ending that I believed God had meant for me. In fact, that young love experience taught me some of the most valuable lessons about love and relationship that I needed to learn in order to weed my garden of undesirables. I'm hard headed and I made mistakes but never gave up hope and prayed that when my prince finally came, I would be worthy and I would be ready for him. It took a LONG time. Remember? God is old and he's slow. Still...David came into my life at just the right time. Handsome, strong, capable and compassionate, he swept me off my feet into a life of love and security that is way more than I ever imagined and is better than I deserve. I am loved and cherished. My prayers were answered. Our family is built on a firm foundation of faith and trust. Things are great in love and life. I'm living out my fairy tale in real time.

But...there's more to the story and I'm sharing all of this personal stuff to make a point and I'm hoping it helps some of you.

Through the years, I had never really resolved the guilt and the sadness that was buried in the old rubble. I felt there was unfinished business to be dealt with. I felt I owed my former knight an explanation and an apology. I knew he had moved on and found a happy ending of his own and I was truly happy for him. Still there was a disturbance in the force, as it were, and I had held on to the pain and regret and dragged it behind me like a punishment. I even carried around a box of memorabilia with his name on it containing letters, napkins, swizzle sticks, goofy mementos and old photographs. On particularly bad days, I would drag out this box and weep rivers of regretful tears into it. The memories were comforting and painful at the same time. I guess in a way, I thought I deserved the pain and anguish. One Monday night (the same night that Joe Theismann broke his leg on Monday Night Football...yes, I'm that old...) God whispered to me through my tears that it was time to throw away the box and everything in it, including the guilt and the regret. I didn't want to obey. I stood outside under the stars on a cold, clear Dallas night, and held onto my box in front of my apartment dumpster for a long time. I didn't have the strength to let it go. I hugged the box harder and contemplated forgetting the whole thing and going back in. In that moment, I felt God's presence and a whispered promise that He would make all of my wrongs right and would give me an opportunity for resolution. The only catch was that I knew had to throw the box and the residual emotions out once and for all. With a shout of anger and grief, I hurled the box up and over the top of the dumpster and winced as I heard it's contents clinking and banging to the hollow bottom. I stood silently in the darkness and the cold and cried a while longer, then finally turned away and went inside, pulled the covers over my head and fell into an exhausted sleep. From that day on, I waited for God to fulfill his promise. Nothing happened that week or that month. Or that decade. I moved on and hoped for the best. Time marched on and so did I. The pain gradually subsided but I still prayed for peace in my spirit.

Fast forward to this week. David knows this whole story, as we were really close friends and had shared a lot of our personal triumphs and tragedies before our relationship turned into a romantic one. He has always understood me. He knows I'm soft-hearted and sentimental and that I cannot stand unresolved conflict. He knows that this issue has bothered me for a long time but that I had put it into God's hands. He's been urging me to reach out to people and to trust God to provide healing and resolution with anyone I might feel I needed to. In his words, "You have a lot to gain and nothing to lose." That's my prince. He's supportive and awesome like that. That's one of many reasons why I love him so much! A month or so ago, The knight had found me on Facebook and this week I finally summoned the courage to write to him. He responded and, just as God promised me, all those years ago, there was communication. There was resolution. There was mutual respect and we were able to finally tell each other we were glad our paths had crossed all those years ago and wished each other every happiness. He has a beautiful, loving wife and awesome kids. His story is a successful one and I'm so gratified by that. Decades later, all is well. Finally finding peace took a LONG time. But as you know, God is old and he's slow. :)

You may be praying and believing for something that seems to be taking FOREVER. You may be in a painfully dry season. I would encourage you to remember that although God may seem slow, He is never too late and is always on time. Sometimes it takes a lifetime of lessons and experiences to get us in position to fulfill our potential and purpose in Him. I know that my relationship with David is stronger because it is built on honesty and openness. I know that God had always intended for me to have the family I have (and the testimony that comes with it) from the beginning. I don't know why things went down the way they did but because of the difficulties and trials I've been through, my faith is strong and I trust God with every detail of my life. I hope you will take away from this story that God really will give you beauty for your ashes. That healing can come out of our deepest hurts and that sometimes we have to be reduced to rubble so we can be reconstructed on the solid foundation of God's love. It's a process and God may be old and slow but His perfect design for your life will always be worth the wait! Just keep moving forward and continue trusting the plan. When it gets to be too much or you get discouraged, remember what God says:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. ~Isaiah 55:8-9


Blessings,

~Cat






Friday, November 15, 2013

Trickle Down (Mom)enomics

I'm back and I'm in a hurry to write this because I'm basically in a hurry to do everything these days. I guess it's just that time of year. So much going on and this year, it is compounded by the fact that my dear hubby got an amazing promotion (thank you, God) and is also in the middle of back to back turnarounds, so he is working really long and totally random hours. We see each other in passing and this will continue until after the New Year. We are making it work and the kids are transitioning okay but we all miss him and our (sort of) normal routine. It is hard for them but I'm realizing more and more as I gain experience as a mother and wife that when it comes to the family vibe...I set the tone.

Hear me out. I've had a lot of time to think about this, experiment with it and the evidence bears me out. Most of the time, when I'm calm, cool and collected, everyone in the house seems to line up with my mood. Conversely, If I'm not careful, I can send the whole clan out into their various daily lives in a stressed out, bummed out or frustrated mood simply because I fail to exercise a little self control. I'll give you an example, though it's not flattering to me, personally and is a bit embarrassing. In the spirit of mom unity and all that, I'll go ahead and put myself 'out there.'

Last week, I woke up feeling awful. My knee was hurting, I fell asleep too late, while reading, and hadn't taken my contacts out, so my eyes were dry and blurry. David was still not home from work and I allowed myself to become resentful that I had to get the kids up, fed, dressed and driven off to school (earlier than usual that day) without any help. This was particularly stupid because David is rarely here in the mornings anyway and I am perfectly capable of doing all of those things, as I always do, by myself. Besides, my kids are really compliant and generally in a good mood when they wake up, so getting  them to school is no big deal. Usually, it's my pleasure. Actually...it's my JOB.

But on this day, I was NOT in the mood. I walked into the family room and immediately began finding fault. Clothes not picked up, the kids weren't moving fast enough for me. The dog wanted out and then in and then out again. There was no food in the dog's bowl. I began grumbling purposefully loud enough to hear that I was sick and tired of having to do EVERYTHING and that I was going to start grounding them from electronics for leaving their stuff out and I was not their maid and I was nobody's personal servant and what about personal responsibility and accountability and disrespect, blah, blah, blah...I mean, I was on a roll, y'all!! I was riding them like a jockey at the Kentucky Derby. Totally out of character for me and completely unnecessary. But you moms out there will relate that once we get started like that, it's like a snowball going downhill. The momentum is too much and all of our pent up frustration comes to the surface and then before you know it, you're anger jumps out of the gate and it's off to the races. I'm ashamed to admit that I kept this up all the way to the school drop off lines. And believe me, I was justified. I was fired up with righteous indignation. I had had it.

Nothing I was saying was wrong. I had legitimate complaints. But wow, was my timing and delivery way off. My kids are sensitive and eager to please. They were sleepy and had just woken up. They are used to laughing and giggling and kisses and prayers in the morning. Talk about a blindside. The two little ones were holding back tears and sniffling and Patrick just looked shell shocked. I dropped them off and drove home still juiced up with aggravation. It wasn't until I walked back into my quiet house, mess and all, that I realized the damage I had done. Too late. At that point there was nothing I could do about it but wait until I picked them up and try to gently explain and apologize. After I had time to reflect, I realized that the whole thing was my own fault. That morning, I had become so self centered that I bypassed my usual 'Good morning. Lord...thank you for this new day' and jumped right into "poor me mode." I forgot to put God first. I zoomed in on my inconveniences and failed to take a moment to just be grateful for a new day. That's not like me but I'm human and have weak moments just like everyone else. I felt contrite and regretful all day. I asked God to forgive me but I couldn't wait to see my kids to ask for theirs, as well.

As parents, I think it is vital to openly admit our mistakes to our kids and to ask their forgiveness. THAT is how they learn accountability and personal responsibility. By modeling what they see us doing with them and with others in our lives. When I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong. I don't try to be perfect in their eyes. I just want to give them my best. Sometimes my best isn't all that great but at least they see me trying and learning and growing. I feel like that's a good lesson. That no matter our age or position, we should be accountable for all that we say and do at all times. Also, that regardless of who we are or how old we may be, we are (hopefully) always learning and growing.

When I saw them that afternoon, all of my kids were noticeably a little wary and even a bit distant with me. I don't blame them. During our conversation when we got home, Patrick threw a truth bomb at me that I will never, ever forget. He said, "Mom, I  like the way we usually have fun in the mornings because I think that's a special time for us. Not all kids have moms that are fun like you. When you are griping and mad in the morning, it just ruins my whole day. I mean...you didn't even pray with us this morning. I prayed for you when I got to school that you would stop being mad at us."

Boom. We all talked it out and I was able to articulate my expectations with them and they forgave me for being a raving witch. Although it ended well, I'm left with a lesson I'll keep with me always.

Since that a-ha morning...I've made a commitment to myself to do a little mental inventory before I even open my bedroom door to be about the business of my day. I'll give Jesus His due, as the first greeting I give in the morning belongs to Him. I'll think about how I'm feeling. If I'm annoyed because I stayed up too late, I'll shake it off and tell myself to deal with it. I'll greet my husband and kids with a hug and a smile. I will gently but firmly nudge them in the direction they should go. I will do my job and set the proper tone for the day. I will encourage, uplift and pray with them as we part for the day. There will be plenty of time for reinforcing behavior and unless one of the kids is being a total pain and I have to deal with it (it happens), we will greet the day as positively as possible. That is on me. Why me? Because I am the grown up, I am the mom and wife, and whether I understand why or not...it's my responsibility to set the tone in my household. The tone I choose is peaceful, calm, patient and loving. With God's mercy and grace...I can at least do that. Call it 'trickle down Momenomics.'

Will I get this right every day? Probably not but I'm determined and usually that means I will succeed. When I do slip up, I'll own it, apologize for it and ask for a do-over. Sounds a lot like life, I guess. Thankfully, I know that to err is human and to forgive is divine.

I'm grateful for divine forgiveness and also deeply humbled and thankful for the unconditional love and understanding from my best friend and husband and our darling little humans who are growing up way too fast. :)

Happy Thanksgiving to all. 

Blessings and love,

~Cat