Looking for the Great–Shaker’s Story

Today went pretty well, despite its little quirks here and there.  Then this afternoon, I guess someone flipped a switch, and I was ill.  As a hornet.  I’ve spent the week with things and situations weighing on my heart and making me sad, and this afternoon, I got mad.

Mad that there are children and families being persecuted for what they believe.  Chased out of their homes and villages or murdered where they stood.  All in the name of religion.  I’m mad that I don’t hear about the missing Nigerian girls who were kidnapped at the end of April anymore.  The fact that a young woman with a unique disease that alters how she looks has been bullied and labeled “the ugliest person on earth” raised my ire a point or ten.  If one of mine ever…..well, you know.  I worry over the lonely people I see at the grocery store, seeking even there to find a connection, someone who will listen.  The families who are trying to hold it together and do the right thing by their children, with little to no support from their community–I am mad for them.  I am angry that there are people starving in our own community and half a world away.  I am mad that one of our cats not showing up this morning has broken our Princess’ heart.  Most of all, I’m mad that I cannot do a blame thing about any one of the things that makes me so mad.  That is what hurts most of all.

It’s as though my hands are tied and I just have to sit back and watch all of the pain and suffering.  And do…..nothing.

Today was Shaker’s first day of school.  I texted both Leroy and Mess Cat this morning, excited for them as their boy makes his way on the path of learning once again.  The past two years the first days have been hard, so I was eager to hear how it went.  I called and left a message, and then I got the call.

“Hello?”

“Hey,” I knew his voice immediately.

“Hey!  How was your first day?  Was it good?”

“It was great,” he replied, emphasizing the GREAT.

He talked about seeing two of his friends in his classroom, his new teacher, his new friend he made, and how he saw his first grade teacher three times.

“Did she say ‘hey’?” I asked.

“Yes.  THREE times.”  The happiness in his voice caused my eyes to well up.  Precious.

He even got to play with his best friend at recess, even though she’s in a different class this year.

Joy.  Sheer joy.  That’s what I heard in his voice.  And in his Mama’s, who was relieved and thankful that today was good.

Wait.  Make that great.  There’s a difference, you know.

And just like that.  My anger dissipated.

Do I have the answers now?  Did the things that upset me just disappear?  Did I stop caring about them?  No, no, and definitely not.

But I think Shaker helped me figure something out.

In the face of things I cannot change in the here and now, I can do something.

I can love.  Every single chance I get.  As hard and as much as I can.

And I can look for the great in every good thing and sing a song of thanksgiving for each one.

‘Cause when you’re joyful, everything’s better with music, right?

It’s not that I’ve forgotten or let go of the things that upset me, but I figured out the anger isn’t going to do anyone any good.  But love?   In the absence of knowing anything else to do at this point, it’s a pretty good backup plan.  Don’t you think?

Tonight I’m thankful for a phone call from my favorite almost seven-year old, who set me straight by focusing on the joy-filled things in our lives.  Like seeing someone who cares about you and saying hey.  Three times.

That’s the good GREAT stuff right there.

Love to all.

#bringbackourpeace

When I entered college, some pretty scary things happened.  At the hands of the class ahead of us, all in the name of fun and welcoming us to the sisterhood, we had the bejeebies scared out of us.  And I loved every minute of it.

But today, one of the very scary ones from back then, who is really a sweetheart, shared an article that put real fear in my heart.

And frustration in my mind.

Where have I been?  Why wasn’t I aware of this before?  Have I really had my head buried in the sand, or has this story been tucked away between the pages of stories of political rants and celebrity breakups?

The story she shared was this one.  “Waves of immigrant minors present crisis for Obama, Congress.”  Oh my stars.  They are expecting an estimated 60,000 children to cross over the US border unaccompanied by an adult, based on the numbers so far.  Some as young as three years old.

Y’all.  What?!

Some of these children have a parent who is already in this country.  Some are leaving an abusive home situation behind.  Some are trying to avoid the drugs and gangs that are a huge problem in their communities.

Babies.  They’re just babies.  They haven’t had time to dream, let alone figure out how to make it on their own.

They are being put in military installations for “keeping” for now.  I have no idea what comes next.  Deportation?  Tracking down family in the US?  Adoption?  I don’t know.  But I know my heart is breaking for these children, some of whom are abused during their journey here or maybe after as well–there were 809 abuse complaints against the border patrol between 2009 and 2012.  Again, I cannot wrap my brain around this fully.  All of these children.  Homeless.  Parentless.  Without anyone to love them and hug them and encourage them.  And to listen.  Oh.  I have nothing.

Really.  Nothing.

And I wish I could fix this.  I wish I could change it.  I wish there were a fix to this that I could be a part of.   I am so lucky.  As are my children.  And it only becomes more obvious to me each day.  They, on the other hand, seem to be oblivious.  And you know what?  I’m thankful for that too.  I want them to have a childhood without all the worries of this world pressing down on them.

Well, Aub, my 18 year old college sophomore isn’t oblivious.  Most of the time she gets how fortunate she is.  Like the fact that she’s learning at a college that has been around since 1836.  In a country where higher learning for females is quite normal and accepted.  And in a lot of cases expected.

Unlike in Nigeria.

This came across my screen today.

A little over a month after 272 schoolgirls were kidnapped by gunmen in the dark of night, last Thursday twenty women were kidnapped from their settlement in Nigeria.  Three men were also taken after they tried to stop the gunmen.

#bringbackourgirls

Yes, my heart cries out.

But I’d also like to start this.

#bringbackourpeace

In the wake of yet another school shooting and women being taken as though they have no rights to lives of their own and little ones traveling on a journey they have no idea how it will end–all by themselves–

please.  Bring back peace.

What breaks my heart the most in all of this is a selfish thing.  It’s that I can’t change it.  I can’t fix it.  I can’t make it stop or make things better.

Oh if I only could.

And so I ask, what can we do?  To take care of these motherless children coming to this country looking for a better way of living?  To protect those half a world away from being taken from their homes by people with guns, and therefore power, and made to submit to a life not of their own choosing?  To protect our own children and friends and family whose lives are being taken away by people with intent and weapons and no respect for human life?

 

I don’t know.  But I am encouraged and thankful for the thoughts of my blogger friend at “My So Called Glamorous Life: The Adventures of a Domestic Engineer:”

  I don’t know what we can do, what anyone can do, but I refuse to believe that this is a lost cause.

Here’s to hanging on to hope, keeping our heads out of the sand, refusing to let fear take us over, and reaching for peace.  Always.

Love to all.

One Thing You Can Do

Today was an emotional journey for me, but that’s a story for another day.

Because this story begs to be told.  Yesterday.

While I was with my little guy at lunch, I got a phone call from Becca, co-founder of ABAN–the organization in Ghana that transforms litter and changes lives, whom I’m honored to call friend.  We talked about their journey and how far they have come and how excited they are with where they are heading.  Beautiful.  It was wonderful to hear her voice, and I strained to hear every word as I sat in a south Georgia buffet restaurant at the noon hour.

When I got home and took a moment to catch up on Facebook, I saw this video shared by Jamie, The Very Worst Missionary.

http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/2rgt3x/-bringbackourgirls—rosemary-nyirumbe

In the response to the question, is the “#BringBackOurGirls” helpful, the nun being interviewed, Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, answered yes.  We need to shout it.  And often.

We need to care.  If we can do nothing else, we have to care.  And if you don’t, this nun wants to punch you–it’s the most peaceful thing she can come up with.  I love her.  She’s on my “I want to meet” list.  And it’s not as long a list as you might think.

As I pondered the story of the young girls forcefully taken–kidnapped–from their school in Nigeria last month, I thought about the young women of ABAN.  These young women, practically still girls, no longer live on the streets.  In the words from the ABAN website–they care for the whole person.

ABAN operates a 2-year holistic in-residence program in Ghana, Africa, that transitions young mothers out of poverty and off the streets of the capital, Accra. After a series of interviews, ABAN selects 20 apprentices aged 17-22 who show a strong desire to work hard to change their situation.

The coursework focuses not only on education and vocational skills but also on health and well-being. Our curriculum takes into account each woman’s innate sense of self. We believe that her identity, dignity, and ability are significantly molded by the health of her body, mind and spirit and her experience is guided by these principles.

In addition to taking care of the young women, the program also provides for their children.  And it takes care of the environment by upcycling 20,000 water sachets a month.

They are making beautiful things from trash and creating beautiful lives for those that had been left to the streets.

I know it won’t bring our girls back, but supporting ABAN and the work they are doing will protect these girls in Ghana, whose welfare is just as important.  It will provide them an education, a place to live, a future.  For them and their children.  It’s something.

There are several ways to support them.  You can shop for gifts or a treat for yourself.  It’s the season for wet towels and bathing suits and the like.  Their sachet lined bags are perfect for such as that.  I love the looks of their new products too, and I know the blessing bags will be perfect for keeping things organized in my tote bag.

Another way to change lives and the environment is to invest in these young women and their futures by making a one-time or monthly donation.  As of this afternoon, they still needed nine more sponsors of $150/month to be a part of the Annual Sponsorship program.  But even a $10 one-time donation makes a difference–it provides a Sister Scholar with National Health Insurance.  Check out more options here.

There are other ways to support them and be a part of the team making a difference in the education of young women in Africa.  Like them on Facebook.  Sign up for their newsletterHost an ABAN party for your family and friends.  Share their story. None of these cost anything. Tell folks about this program that was started by three college students in 2008 and has grown to include 25 employees, 20 apprentices, and 3 interns on 2 continents.  Amazing.

No, supporting this program won’t bring back those precious girls from Nigeria, torn from their families by the dark and evil in this world.  It won’t change things for them.  I believe, like Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, that we have to care, no matter how far away this might seem to us in this country, and that we have to make our voices heard.  #BringBackOurGirls is one way of doing that.

But supporting the life-changing good work of ABAN will change lives.  It will help them bring girls and young women out of the horror of life on the streets of Ghana.  It will protect them from the evil and darkness that threatens to engulf them.  It will be a turning point for their precious little ones–who may never have to remember or know what it is like to live life with uncertainty, without shelter, and filled with physical hunger and emotional needs.  And fear.

Because someone cared.  Because someone shopped for a gift that changed lives.  Because someone gave generously from their heart.  Because someone clicked like or forward or told their Mama, sister, uncle, best friend’s cousin’s groomer…..the more we share the story, the more impact it can make.  It’s another way of wrapping someone up in our love and offering refuge.  Another way to #bethefeather.

Hashtags are cool, and they can inspire change.

But today I’m throwing out the challenge for us all, me included.  Let’s go one step further.  Let’s do one thing today that can change the world.  One child, one young woman, one upcycled piece of litter at a time.  Let’s put our actions where our hashtags say we are.  The more women and children we share light with, the smaller the darkness in this world becomes.

Love to all.

                                                                 =============

This was an interesting read here regarding social media and its impact in this situation.

 A story I shared last year about ABAN, all they do, and how precious they are to me.  Beauty From Trash and Healing Hearts