Grabbing My Computer and Other Things I Didn’t Use To Do

Today I was on one of those “Hold for the next available representative” calls with a government agency.  My estimated wait time was 30-60 minutes, which was more than I want to sit and wait for most anything, but I put the phone on “speaker” and continued on about my day to dailies, listening for a break in the music.  When it came, I grabbed the phone and *fortunately* remembered to hit the speaker button and not the talk button–just as I had practiced.

Yeah.  I practiced it.  This was the real deal.  Nobody deserves to be disconnected after waiting that long.  NOBODY.

I was very lucky, and I got a friendly representative who was extremely helpful.  Maybe it’s because I introduced myself and said it was nice to meet her  (seriously, it was–did I mention the WAIT TIME–I was just thankful to have a person on the line at all) or maybe it was because it’s Friday or maybe she was just having a great day.  Or she was a genuinely kind person.

I’m inclined to think it might have been a little bit of all of that.

She was telling me about yet another form I needed to fill out and send back to them.  Well, great.  I was worried that I might not have the right form AND that I wouldn’t know what I was doing, so I asked her a favor.

“Ummm, Ms. B, do you mind if I look up that form and make sure I know what you’re talking about before I let you go?”

“Honey, you go right ahead.  Take your time.”  Bless her.  Okay, maybe not so much for the people still on hold, but I appreciated her for that.  And for calling me honey.  That eased all kinds of stress.

“Okay, thank you ma’am, let me grab my computer, and I’ll look it right up.”

And that’s when it hit me how much things have changed even in my lifetime.  The fact that I said “grab my computer” rather than “go to my computer”–the portability of internet access is amazing.

Amazing and challenging.

I was recently in conversation with folks who work with college students.  It’s a whole new ballgame now.  The students can “Facebook stalk” or check out other students on other social media way before they even set foot on campus.  First impressions are already made.

We wrote letters way back when I started college.  You know, “back in my day.”  In the snow.  In the shadow of the dinosaurs.

There’s the world of social media which can do so much good and so much harm–an extension of what our words can do all by themselves, amplified by the number of “friends” “listening.”  There are the laptops and tablets and smartphones and even watches for goodness’ sake that keep us accessible to information, entertainment, and each other way more than ever before.  In fact, the only reason some folks are ever out of “touch” is the WiFi is down.  Or they are in a poor service area.

Seems a shame, doesn’t it?

And yet, when we can send pictures of newborns and graduates and ballet dances and first bike rides along the way to loved ones who might not otherwise have seen them, it’s a win for the advancement we’ve seen in technology.  When a parent can check in with her college student without setting foot on campus or calling every single night, that’s a definite win.  When a company can interview someone who is perfect for the position but would need to relocate, technology is the reason why.  And when a family can laugh and talk and visit with that someone they love who is thousands of miles away, that is a huge win.

Tonight I’m thankful for kind souls who work in jobs where they never see the person they are helping and still treat them like people–with compassion and respect.  I’m thankful for the advancements in technology that allow folks to stay connected–seeing smiles, sharing moments, laughter, and tears.  Most of all, I give thanks that I can still hear my Daddy’s words on a regular basis in my head and heart.  Words that keep me in check.  “Make it work for you, you don’t work for it.” He was talking about Facebook specifically, but I’m pretty sure he’d agree it applies to all of technology in general.

May we all continue to strive for that balance.

Love to all.

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Flip the Flag

Miss Sophie and I went for a walk late this evening, after the sun was well behind the trees and there was a lovely breeze blowing, dissipating some of the heat from the day.

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As we walked down the cul-de-sac, I noticed a flag up on a mailbox, and in that moment, I wished we had flags like mailboxes.

A flag that we could flip up as a signal to say, “Hey, notice me.  Stop here for second, could you?  Can I please give you some of this that’s weighing on me for you to take away?  Will you share something with me that will brighten my day?”

Maybe I’m oversimplifying it, but that’s it.  I think that a flag to flip up when the words are hard to say–that would be just what I need sometimes.

Wishing you all the words to say and the people to hear them.  And to understand.

Love to all.

For the Love of Kindness, PLEASE

Y’all.

I’m done.  I am worn out.  I am so tired to seeing folks hurting others with their comments and freely shared views on social media and other outlets.

The thing is, they don’t mean to, I’m sure.  These are good people.  And just like me, they hurt other people without even realizing it.  Still…..

This past week there has been a story that has gone viral.  The one about a restaurant owner/manager who yelled at a toddler to stop crying.

And even with those words, my words trying to sum it up in a nutshell, I’ve done what so many of us do–ignored that there is another side to the story.

Two sides, a crying baby, parents who may or may not have tried to calm the child, maybe some frustrated clientele, maybe not, and a frustrated restaurant owner who yelled because she had had enough.  They all agree that she yelled at the child.  She admitted as much.

What has made me the saddest are the people who have come out on the side of the restaurant owner–as if it is EVER okay to yell at a child like that.

Just to be clear with my stance–

In my opinion, that is NOT okay.

Children, as is their nature, are going to have “melk-downs,” as our Princess used to call them.  It’s inevitable.  What happens after those breakdowns is in large part determined by the adults around them.  And when those adults are overwhelmed, things can get ugly very quickly.

My friend, Karen Spears Zacharias, wrote A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder.  That book changed me.  It made me aware of what role we all play in the prevention of child abuse.  With a kind word, offering support, encouragement, offering a helping hand–we can often diffuse a volatile situation and maybe even change a life.

Yes, naive or not, I do believe that.

In response to the story of the child in the restaurant, one of my aunts wondered why the manager didn’t try to distract the child.  With a straw, a plastic spoon, something, saying that this was something a good manager would do.

Exactly.

We’ve been to restaurants where the waitress pulled out packs of saltines from her pocket to give to the little ones.  Then there’s the crayon and paper menu go-to for distractions.  Over the years I’ve learned to keep someTHING in my purse for just such occasions.  Markers, paper, pencil, something to keep them occupied.  But when I was starting out with my first little one, I had no idea.  I had to learn from others how to handle those moments.

And yelling doesn’t cut it.

My parents in their last years carried around copies of their favorite children’s book in the trunk of their car.  Daddy was known to head back out to the car from the pizza place or a doctor’s appointment to get a copy for a child they met.  He also loved perusing the Matchbox cars section of stores.  He picked up interesting and different ones, in addition to the ones he collected as special.  He usually had one or two with him or in Mama’s purse at doctor’s appointments.  To share with whatever children they might meet.

You don’t get much better than a new little car for a distraction.

Notice, I said–in their later years.  After all of us were grown and they had learned what worked and what didn’t.

This young couple in the restaurant–I’m thinking they are just learning too.  I’m sad that there is so little grace for them, and yet grace is being given to the woman who chose to yell AT A CHILD instead of handling it in a manner that would be kinder.

And that’s what this is all about, isn’t it?

Nanea Hoffman of Sweatpants and Coffee, whom I introduced you to last night, is a wise woman.  My guess is she gets it from her Daddy.  Yesterday she shared this, in response to the story:

“I don’t care who is right or who is wrong. I care who is being KIND.”

– Nanea Hoffman’s daddy

Amen.

Sounds a lot like my Mama, who would often add–“I’m sure you’re all really very wonderful.”

I’m trying, Mama.  I’m trying.

Y’all, we can do better.  We can step outside our judgments of who is right and who is wrong and BE KIND.

And maybe tote a little Matchbox car around in our pocket for good measure.

.....or you know, Hot Wheels.....

…..or you know, Hot Wheels…..

So many folks say, “I wouldn’t want to be raising children in this day and age.”  I get it.  It’s not easy.  That’s why those of us doing it right now sure could use the encouragement and support and KINDNESS of those around us.

Let’s forget about who is right or wrong and Just. Be. Kind.  That’s everything.

Love to all.

Flying with Fear

We are back home. Back into our day to dailies with full force after a weekend of getting away, literally and figuratively.  A weekend of fun and laughter and reconnecting.

And of facing our fears.

Head on.

This past weekend was the Fella’s family reunion that happens every couple of years.  While I’ve been to a gathering of his aunts and uncles on his Dad’s side of the family, we’ve never been to a gathering of Grampa’s cousins and their children as a family.  It was time to make it happen.

We had a decision to make.  Take a two hour flight from Atlanta to Texas or make the two day drive.  In the end, after lots of thought, the schedule made our decision.

We booked our flights.  Because it was just a few weeks out, the seat availability wasn’t ideal.  No big deal, I thought.  We could just request some seat changes.  I did that all the time when Aub and I flew back and forth from Japan.  TEN YEARS AGO.

Ahem.  Yeah.  Things change.

I called the airline and notified them that we would be flying with my child who has severe nut allergies.  All nuts. She was very understanding and said they could remove the peanuts from the plane but the airline could not guarantee there would be no nuts on the plane.  Okay.  Okay.  Got it.

As the time got closer, I became more anxious, but I also did what I needed to do to be prepared for a worst case scenario.  One of my sisterfriends said, “Be sure to carry an epipen on board with you.” I laughed and replied, “Yeah, or six.”  Can you say “over prepared?”

When we arrived at the gate, I spoke with the agent, and she said there would be no problem–that the flight attendants had it covered.  We hurried on board and got things ready for the flight.

All of the bags we carried on board were wipeable.  I carried wipes to clean her area and a sheet to put over her seat.  I forgot about the seat belt so that made me a bit nervous, but I did the best I could.  My people already knew we would not be eating or drinking on the plane.  I wanted no chance of ANYTHING going in her mouth that could hurt her.  It was a little less than two hours–they’ve done without food and water longer than that by their own choice.

The flight attendant announced there was an allergy on board.  She said they would not be serving peanuts and asked that no one eat any nuts while on board.

Oh my heart.  THANK YOU.

It was an amazing feeling to be heard and validated.  While it didn’t rid me of my anxiety, their kind hearted announcement eased it quite a bit.  My girl sat and played on her device and listened to music like the true preteen she is.  She is growing up before my very eyes.  But that’s another story.

We landed in what seemed like forever and no time at all, all at the same time.  Suffice to say I have no idea how I used to do the 14 hour flights to Japan.

After a long wonderful weekend of family and cousins playing and eating good food together, we got back on the plane yesterday.  We did it all by the book.  Got to the airport two hours early, checked in, and that’s when the magic was broken.  Our seats on Friday were not the ones I’d chosen on-line.  We had wound up all in the space of two rows, which was very doable.  I had assumed the person I called about her allergies had moved our seating around so we would be closer.  And maybe that was the case before, but for this flight, we were ridiculously far apart.  Cooter and Aub towards the back, our Princess and me in the middle on the same side, and the Fella in between us on the opposite side.  When we got to the gate, they acknowledged the food allergies, but they could do nothing about the seating.

Okay.  We can do this.  Breathe.

They made the announcement about not serving nuts and asking people to refrain from eating them while we were still in the terminal.  I was thankful for that.

We were allowed to board early.  I was told by the gate agent that between flights they would clean the tray tables four rows in front of us and four rows behind, so it was important we not change seats.  Okay. That’s great.  Really great.  (But I was thinking, they must be ridiculously fast or have cleaning fairies, because folks had just gotten off the plane.)

Oh, if it were only true.

When we got to our seat, I could see smeared handprints on the back of the seat in front of my girl.

Oh me.

I went to work with my wipes and the sheet and getting her settled.  We were ready when all the others came on board.

Before we were told to put our devices on airplane mode, I got a message from Aub, “Mama, the guy two seats over from us has nuts.”

Welp. Not good.

Because our messages weren’t going through quickly, and I was locked into my row by a passenger on the end who did not speak much English, I was left in limbo.  It was only after we landed that we pieced the whole story together.

So this guy had a big bag of Roaster’s Planted Peanuts.  He pulled them out.  The guy on the other side of him said, “Hey, you can’t eat those on here.”

Mr. Peanut replied, “Why not?”

Other guy said, “There’s someone with a nut allergy on board.  They made an announcement before we boarded asking us not to eat any nuts.”

Mr. Peanut said, “Huh.  Sounds like their problem.”  And laughed.

He LAUGHED.

Y’all, that girl of mine comes from a long line of strong people.  And people who stand up for others.  Some are more tactful than others, so there was no telling how this was going to play out.

As it turns out, she turned to him and said, “Actually it’s MY SISTER with the allergy, and if you eat those, I could come in contact with them, and then I have to ride home with her.  If I expose her to nuts, really bad things could happen.”  Her little brother was sitting next to her, so she was careful with her words.

And Mr. Peanut’s response?  “Really?” He scoffed, and he was done.

Later the flight attendant was offering snacks, and she approached Mr. Peanut.  He told her no thank you, that he had those with him and pointed at the unopened bag of peanuts.  “Sir, you can’t eat those on this flight,” she said.

He pointed at my oldest across the aisle.  “Yeah, that girl already chewed me out about it.”

The flight attendant looked over at Aub and smiled.  And she told him Aub was right.

All of this was relayed between us as we hurried along through the Atlanta airport to baggage claim.  I was so angry at the time, I know for sure one thing–that it is good I only caught a glimpse of him as he was getting on the train.  The Fella wisely guided us ahead to walk instead.  As I walked, I calmed down.  You can’t fix broken folks.  You just can’t.  I don’t know why he didn’t care about my child, or any person with food allergies for that matter, but for some reason he just didn’t.  All I know is I am thankful that, for whatever reason, he didn’t eat the nuts on the plane.

“Because if he had,” my oldest told me as we waited for the Fella to bring the car around as dusk settled across the Georgia sky, “I don’t know what I would have done.  But I would have done something. There might have been a ‘domestic incident.'”

“Eh,” I told her.  “Some things are worth creating a domestic incident over.”

I’m proud of her.  Siblings of people with food allergies have to live with the allergy too.  And this one–she’s her sister’s greatest advocate.

Tonight I’m thankful for a wonderful time with family–cherished moments.  I’m glad we didn’t rule the trip out because of the time or distance or our (MY) fears.  I am thankful for good flight attendants who care and make every effort to keep all passengers safe.  I give thanks for a daughter who is strong and can speak up when the need arises.  Most of all, I’m thankful for a safe journey.  And that all of those epipens came home unused.  WIN.

I have learned two things that surprised me though.  That anger and brokenness in people can overrule their compassion–I guess I knew that on some level, but to be reminded of it like this in such a personal way broke my heart and really, really surprised me.  Call me gullible, but yeah–I wasn’t prepared for that.

The other thing that I learned is that it doesn’t matter if you don’t book a seat for Anxiety Girl.  She doesn’t care.  She’d just as soon sit in your lap for the whole ride.  Doesn’t faze her one bit.  She’ll still come.  UNINVITED.

Wishing us all the ability to let our compassion override all the other things we are carrying with us.  Every single day.  And that when we take the chance to fly with our fear, we land in a beautiful place.

Love to all.

auvi q and wings

Running for Love

From rising before the crack of dawn to walking with Miss Sophie this evening, from the icy chill of early morning to the warmth of the afternoon sun, today has brought a plethora of images of new life and sweet life.

The last of the blooms on a Japanese magnolia at my favorite campus.

The last of the blooms on what I believe is a Japanese magnolia at my favorite campus.

These sweet yellow flowers remind me of my Granny's farm.  I love them and all the warm fuzzies they bring.

These sweet yellow flowers remind me of my Granny’s farm. I love them and all the warm fuzzies they bring.

 

This tree has been bare all winter.  Look at that beautiful green!

This tree has been bare all winter. Look at that beautiful green!

 

Each of these leaves was smaller than the tip of my pinky.  I love to see some baby goats and baby puppies and babies of all sorts and kinds, but baby leaves are pretty cute too I think.

Each of these leaves was smaller than the tip of my pinky. I love to see some baby goats and baby puppies and babies of all sorts and kinds, but baby leaves are pretty cute too I think.

 

And for the sweet.  Cinnamon rolls thrown in the oven when we got back home, and our Princess decided to top hers with her all-natural gummy bears.  It's Easter, why not?

And for the sweet. Cinnamon rolls thrown in the oven when we got back home, and our Princess decided to top hers with her all-natural gummy bears. It’s Easter, why not?

 

But the sweetest image I can only picture in my head.

My brother, who is a minister, called me after church today.  He was, in his own words, honored to be the one to give the sermon at their Community Sunrise service this morning.  When he told me what he talked about, my heart was full, and I wanted to give him the biggest hug.

But it’s not geographically possible right now.

He talked about the story found in the Good Book in John 20–the story of John running for the tomb.  My brother pointed out how grownups don’t run toward something like that very often, so filled with love and passion.  He’s right, isn’t he?  Children seem to have cornered the market for running with joyful abandon, but not us adults.

Except for my brother.  He runs and chases his children. And mine.  And Mess Cat’s little guy.  He’s good at that.  So much so that his presence is requested outside at least once every day when they are here.

Children like to run towards someone or something they are excited about, something or someone who fills them with joy.  Children also like to be chased.  Pursued.

I love this story, and what it challenges me to do.

I need to seek joy.  Pursue it.  Run towards it.  Run towards the new life that can come from loving all and from caring and showing compassion.  Forgetting what I look like while I’m doing it, I need to run hard and catch that joy.

Who in your world needs someone running towards them?  Who needs someone in pursuit of them because they are loved and cared about, so they can see and feel that?

May we all find what makes us run with joyful abandon towards it.

Love to all.

Where Was Her Biffle?

This afternoon I had the pleasure of being a part of a girls’ outing.  Aub, our Princess, a dear friend, and I went to see “Cinderella” together.  Cooter didn’t want to go, not because it was a Princess movie, but because he had heard about the “Frozen” short film that was to precede the main feature.  He’s so over Frozen, the thought of watching that short was downright off-putting.

We gathered in the lobby and headed down the hall to the third door on the right.  The previews started shortly after we arrived.  And still folks came in and wound their way to find seats in a nearly packed theater.  By the time “Frozen Fever” started, we were ready.

The short was actually cute and entertaining, and I can predict what Disney’s new stuffed critter item will be (spoiler alert–baby snowmen).  Then Cinderella started.  I watched the old and comfortably familiar story; yet I still found myself on edge, wondering what would happen.  Which part would they change, and which part of the story was so sacred that it could not be touched?

Photo via eonline.com

Photo via eonline.com

I enjoyed the movie, once I employed suspension of disbelief.  I think that the enthusiasm of my friend who is the mother of a son was infectious, and I was able to forget about the overall message and fall in love with the beauty and romance and magic.  Our Princess was enchanted, and her eyes shone brightly all through the movie.  She missed nothing.

A time or two during the movie a particular thought tried to surface, but it never quite made it.

Until the movie was over and I was sitting quietly with my thoughts.

Then it hit me.

Where were the people who knew Ella and her family?  Where were her friends?  Their friends?  Surely there was someone who, at some point, thought to him or herself, “Hey, wonder where Ella’s been?  I haven’t seen much of her since her Father passed on. I should really check in on her.”

I wondered where the people were who would feel inclined to pay their respects after his death.  Bring a casserole.  Drop by for a visit. Why was there no one to realize that this girl was being mistreated by the very ones to whom her care was entrusted?

Why didn’t someone notice and do something?

My friend who joined us reached out to me two weeks ago with a message: “Hey, if y’all are going to do a girls’ outing to see ‘Cinderella’ and I wouldn’t be intruding, could I join y’all?”

Absolutely.  It would be our pleasure.  And it was.

It was so good to see her, to sit and laugh over the hideous dresses of the stepsisters and gasp at the wickedness of some in the movie and to agree that we like to sit until the credits are pretty much over.  Most of all, it was good to visit.  To catch up.  To share stories.  To check in with each other.

The greatest gift is that she wanted to be with us, and she said so.

That right there.

How would the story have been different if Ella (Cinderella) had been able to call up a friend and say, “Hey, I would really love to spend some time with you”?  Where was her tribe?  Her friends?  Her “biffle,” as my college girl calls her best friend?

And then the next question is begging to be asked:

Who am I supposed to be reaching out to?  Whom should I be checking in with?  Who has locked him or herself away, and needs a friend to help bring him/her out?

Tonight I’m thankful for my friend who reached out and made time to be with us.  For seeing an age-old story with new eyes and feelings, I am grateful.  In this world of busy-ness and to do lists and running here and there and yon with littles in tow, it is good to be reminded to be still.  Be quiet.  Listen and look.  To check in with those I care about, and help those who need to be free and loosened a little from their worries and woes.  To be a good friend.

Wishing you all someone who will do that for you.

Love to all.

 

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

As I was wrapping up writing this post, I saw this shared by Love Wins Ministries, folks who know how important relationships are and work hard to get them right and make a positive difference.  I think this is spot on and wanted to share it with you.  

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Cinderella could have survived locked in the attic, but what kind of survival would that have been?  

Just a thought.  

 

 

 

“Did You Have Bacon?”

Aub went out for lunch today.  When she came back she mentioned a rash on her arm that had come up while she was gone.  By the time she returned home, it was gone.

She and Cooter were sitting at the counter while I was loading the dishwasher.  We started trying to come up with reasons she might have broken out.  She has had reactions before and best we could figure, one food was usually involved.

Bacon.

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I know, right?

Sad.

It was Cooter who asked first.  “Did you have bacon?”

“No.”

He thought for a minute.  “Did you eat anything that had been near bacon? Maybe processed with bacon?”

She smiled.  “I don’t think so.”

“Hmmmm.  What about anything that had anything to do with pigs?”

And so on.

He’s an interesting 8-year-old.  But since before he could talk, food allergies have been a part of our world and way of life.  With one sister with nut allergies and another whose sensitivities haven’t all been determined, he knows.  The language–“may contain,” “processed in a plant,” “nut free”–and the worry.  He knows there are restaurants we will never go to, and he knows which ones we can.

As we were talking, and I listened to his line of questioning, it occurred to me.  “You’re going to be an allergist when you grow up, aren’t you, buddy?”

He laughed.  “Well maybe. I just want you to be okay.”  And he leaned in for a hug.

Bless him.

In his Ted Talk, Hugh Hollowell of Love Wins Ministries talks about relationships, about how your mother won’t be homeless because she has YOU.  He also talks about the advancement of gay marriage.  In this 2010 video, he talks about how fifteen years before there was no place that a couple could be gay and married.  And in 2010, there were nine states and a district.  The difference, Hugh says, is relationships.  People who had friends who were gay were twice as likely to be accepting of gay marriage.

I’m not here today to debate the existence or legalization of gay marriage.  I just want to think about what Hugh said–

the difference is relationships.

I saw that today.  My little guy would consider becoming an allergist because his sisters suffer from allergies that can be life-threatening.

And I think that’s pretty cool.

I look around at the people in my life.  How they shape who I am.  The people whom I am in relationship with have a lot to do with what I believe and how I want to live my life.  I am thankful for this diverse group who challenge me to step outside my comfort zone and with whom I can have great conversations, even when we disagree on a matter.

That’s what this life is all about.  Being our best selves, and not only allowing but also empowering others to do that as well.

May you all have someone around you whom you love enough to make life decisions around, and may you encourage and empower those who are in your circle.

Love to all.

 

***** I’m pretty sure “Did you have bacon?” was Cooter’s way of saying “I love you” this evening.  That whole being known and mattering to someone else–yeah.  Love. 

Why My Pumpkin is Blue

I’ve mentioned it before, but in case you might have missed it–

We are a family with food allergies.

Because if one person has food allergies, you all are affected.

We don’t have anything in the house she cannot have.  We don’t choose things in restaurants that she could not have, and we don’t go places she can’t go.

It’s how we roll.  All for one…..

her sister in college even avoids having things in her dorm room, just in case her sister stops by for a visit.

That’s what love looks like.

Caring enough to give up something for the benefit of another.

At least that is what motivates us around here.  Goodness knows, I don’t read labels until I’m blurry-eyed (have you seen how small some of the print is) and avoid certain places for the fun of it.  I don’t pack her extra snacks for get-togethers or cringe when she’s around folks eating what she’s allergic to because I enjoy it.

I do it because her life depends on it.

Holidays and celebrations are tricky times.  Most of these days/gatherings/celebrations come together around one thing, right?

Food.

Which makes it hard, when one’s choices are extremely limited.  Nothing with the allergens, nothing processed with the allergens, and oh good gravy, please tell me you didn’t forget your epi-pen.  Yeah, we’ve had some days of mad scrambling when that was left behind.

Halloween is one such day.  There’s the fun of dressing up.  The excitement of going out at dusk, all around the neighborhood with friends and family, and knocking on doors, visiting with folks on the sidewalks, and sharing stories and comparing what you got.

Remember what Charlie Brown had to say after each “Trick or Treat”?

Rocks.  He got rocks.

Bless him.

But I tell you what, I’d rather my girl get rocks than some candy that has the potential to threaten her physical health.

So we have two choices–

1) We don’t go trick or treating.

2) We go, but she doesn’t get to eat most or any of it due to presence or possibility of allergens.

Yeah.  Good times.

She’s had her costume picked out for two months and has been doing a countdown for the past week, and we’re still nine days out.  (I know, she told me a little while ago.)  Would you want to be the one to tell her we aren’t going?

We go.

Before our sweet neighborfriends moved, my friend prepared separate treats for my littles of things she’d asked me about beforehand.  Bless her, I miss her for many reasons, and there’s one more.   Usually I buy a special sweet treat for my crew and we “let” the Fella take the rest of it into work with him.  And it’s done for another year.

The other day my girl was talking about the one house a block over that gave her a spider ring last year.  She was thrilled.  So much so that she’s still talking about it.

That sealed the deal for me about something I’d been thinking about doing.

So Aub and I painted a pumpkin teal blue.

I think the teal is a nice addition to our Halloween traditions.

I think the teal is a nice addition to our Halloween traditions.

And it’s sitting on our porch.

I think it looks lovely–she and I are into that color right now.  (It’s not the only thing we’ve painted that color…..) But it is even lovelier to me because of what it stands for.

Inclusion.

All are welcome.

I recently found out through a Food Allergy awareness page on social media about the Teal Pumpkin Project.  For more information about how it began, click here for the story.   A teal pumpkin on one’s porch or a sign with a teal pumpkin on a door or mailbox lets folks trick or treating know that non-food items are available at that house.

Inclusion.

It’s about more than children with food allergies.  This includes children with diabetes and other dietary restrictions.

Everyone.

I’ve read some of the comments.  I don’t know why it is that when something new is introduced, some folks are so threatened, they get real, real ugly.

Suggesting that I keep my child home on Halloween because she can’t eat the candy, or that I’m pampering her and others who have allergies like her by “catering” to her needs.

Oh me.  Just walk away, Tara, just walk away.

Look, if this isn’t your thing, that’s okay.  I won’t think less of you if you give out Reese’s cups and don’t have a teal pumpkin anywhere around your house.  Ten years ago, I had no idea about all of this either. (And with Reese’s you would have been my hero!)  I get it.  Just please understand why this is important to me.

This is about children.  Being children.  Dressing up and having a great, safe, and fun night.

If my offering treats like pencils or stickers or slinkies and other novelties ensures that, then I’m all for it.

My Mama told me more times than I can count when we were growing up, “You better not leave anybody out.”

Yes ma’am.

So my pumpkin is blue.

The idea of the teal pumpkin project is not that folks can’t give out candy too.  It’s just that non-food options are available.

And that is a nice thing to do.

Because spider rings can make someone smile.

Even a year later.

Teal blue pumpkin love to all.

 

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What Grown Looks Like

A little while ago, I saw where a young man posed the question, “What makes a man?”

I’ve been thinking on that.  So often we hear in graduation speeches, “Now we are adults,” or when a young person gets his/her driver’s license, “Well, so you’re driving, you’re grown now.”

Ahem.

I beg to differ.

I don’t think that any one thing makes someone grown.  Or not grown.  I think our lives are a series of mature and immature choices, selfish and not.  We can slowly become more “grown up” and in the midst of that, we can make some really “child-like” decisions.  Having a child, getting married, getting a job, turning 18 or 21–none of those makes one grown.  It’s what we do in each of these moments that determines if we are really “grown.”

Today I watched as my oldest made a decision that was not comfortable for her or what she really wanted to do at all.  She chose to do something for someone else because she loves them and they needed her.  She is growing up so fast right before my eyes, and today only served to remind me of that.

This afternoon Cooter came in and said out of the blue, “Don’t force love.  Let it come to you.”

I almost spewed my water.

What?!

I asked him where he’d heard that.  “Oh, Princess said it to K [a neighbor boy around her age] today when he was talking about the girl he really liked.”  The way Cooter imitated her, I knew she’d said it with compassion.

I’m not one for all these early boyfriend/girlfriend pairings–I think they’re way too young–but I am happy to know that my girl can be compassionate and sensitive to someone else’s emotions…..and show great wisdom in such circumstances.  Wisdom beyond her age…..

Yesterday morning, our Princess woke up and came to my room in tears because of a bad dream.  Cooter was already piled in there, staying warm under the covers.  He was a bit groggy, but to my surprise he leaned over and gave her a hug and asked her what happened.

Surprised by sweetness.  Right there.  I didn’t know he had it in him.

When it comes to my children growing up, sometimes I have a blind spot.  Often I don’t want to see it so I don’t.  Or I might look for it in my oldest because she’s over 18 and in college, but I forget to look for it in my littles.

The truth is we are all still works in progress and all still growing.  Tonight I am thankful for the ways each one of my children is growing.  I give thanks for the reminder that the most beautiful form of growth can’t be measured on a scale or yardstick or even by looking in the mirror.  The most beautiful and precious ways people grow can only be seen by looking in the heart and hearing their words and seeing their actions.  And for today, I am reassured by and thankful for the compassion and love I see in those gifted to me.

May it be a growing sort of day…..

Love to all.

The Guy, The Fella, and Where the Healing Begins

So I heard this story about a guy who was disabled.  He couldn’t get up and move around on his own.  He lay there for a long time, not far from what was a known cure.  Years and years.  He would start to move towards the cure, but by the time he got there, someone else was already being treated, and apparently it was a “one at a time–first come, first served” kind of thing.  So he stayed put.  In that same spot.

Then one day this fella who was becoming more well known in the area came along and asked the guy, “Do you want to get well?”

Whoa.  That’s kind of a personal question, right?  I mean, this fella is all in his chili.

True to form (for so many of us), the guy started listing the reasons (ahem-excuses?) as to why he hadn’t made it to the point of getting better.  No one had stopped to help him, he couldn’t do it on his own, someone else was always already there so he hung back.

The fella all but holds up his hand to stop the flow of excuses and says, “Never mind all that.  Get up, pick up your stuff, and walk.  You’re good to go now.”

What?

Yep.  It happened.  And the guy got up and took his stuff and walked away.

Cool, right?

This is the story that was shared in Evening Prayer on Sunday evening.  It’s from the Good Book.  After reading the story aloud, my pastorfriend asked a series of questions that we were to discuss at our tables.  She asked interesting questions about what would healing look like for each one of us?  What did it mean for this guy?

But she didn’t ask the one question I was expecting, the one question I kept thinking about as she read the verses from John 5.  I was expecting the hard question that she has asked us about other stories we’ve read–

Who are you in this story?

I’d like to answer, oh yes, I’m the paralytic, laying there, can’t get up.  Or won’t.  Sometimes there’s not much difference.  And yes, I have been that person.  So comfortable in my misery, in my paralyzing fear that I don’t move and take a step towards healing–yep.  I’ve been there.  The struggle is real.  That struggle to not have my identity be that of the “victim,” but instead to put the past behind me and move on.  Move towards the healing waters.  Move towards a new way of living, without all the pain from the past dragging me down.  It’s hard, and sometimes it’s a daily conscious choice I make to leave it all behind, if only just for today.  And then the next day.  And the next.  It takes work.  No wonder the guy was still lying there after all those years.

But as I was listening, I felt my heart skip a beat, as I realized who I really identified with in the story.  Not willingly, but I saw me there.  And it hurt.  Far worse than the pain of lying in my own story.  I have been the person who has walked on by someone in need, not noticing the guy who might need help getting to a healing spot.  I have been too busy or too self-involved to notice.  Or worse, I’ve noticed, and–this hurts to admit it, but there it is staring me in the face–I’ve walked on by anyway.  After all, I have things to get done, places to be, no time no time no time.

Whew.  That glimpse really hurt me.

As we talked about the story at our table, someone wondered aloud what happened after the guy got up and took his stuff (bedroll) with him.  We continued reading.  Turns out the guy ran into some Jewish leaders.  Their immediate reaction was–Why are you carrying your stuff?  Who told you to do that?  It’s the Sabbath, you are not supposed to carry your bedroll on the Sabbath!

Wow.  We found it surprising that no one acknowledged that this guy who had been over by the water, unable to walk for 38 years, was walking!  You know folks knew who he was, right?  I mean even if he was referred to as “Guy who hasn’t moved in years” or “Guy who won’t get up” or “That poor guy by the water,” folks had to recognize who he was.

And yet, instead of seeing the miracle right in front of them, all they could do is be judicial.  They didn’t celebrate at all.  Not a bit.  They pointed fingers and accused and sounded quite unpleasant to be honest.  What you’re doing is against the law and just who exactly told you to do it, because this is so not okay.

Oh y’all.

Today when I thought back over the story and that part in particular, I began to grieve.  Far too often I am like the Jewish leaders.  There, I’ve admitted it. Too often I look right past the amazing things in life and go straight to critical.

When Cooter shows me a Lego contraption he’s built, and I quickly say, “Oh yes, that’s nice” but more quickly move into the “Why are these Legos all over the floor? You have got to pick these up!”  Or his sister wants to tell me about a story she read, and I’m pushing her to finish unloading the dishwasher so we can get the thing loaded up again.  Or when my oldest tells me about an event she’s excited about being a part of and I’m giving her my recommended do’s and don’ts and safety guidelines, rather than sharing in her joy.

The miracle–I just pass on by it like it’s nothing–and move straight into the criticism and legalistic commentary.

Oh me.

This breaks my heart.

Something else breaks my heart.

The world is mourning today a great entertainer.  Someone who touched so many lives.  All day folks sharing their own stories, their own connections with him as though they knew him.  And I suppose in a way we did.  Only we didn’t know about the struggles.  We didn’t know he could use a helping hand.  Or a listening ear. 

And this part of his story and the story from Sunday night have intertwined in my heart and made me aware–of my shortcomings and how I need to work to see the folks around me.  Really see them.  Take time to listen.  To hug.  To tell folks what they mean to me.  Take time to hear what they really need and not just make assumptions.  I need to stop judging and start embracing, loving, caring.  Who knows what difference one moment of caring and loving and compassion can do?

I know of one moment that made a huge difference.  It’s not my story to tell, so I won’t, but I will share this.  It was because of someone who opened her eyes and saw another hurting so badly he was moving away from the healing fast, it was because of her caring and noticing and taking a moment–because of her, someone I care about very much is alive and well and loving on other folks this very day.  And making such a difference in this world. 

Because she noticed.

I think that may be where the healing begins.

It is with my whole heart tonight, that I think on this and make a promise to myself to notice.  To slow down and take time for what really matters.  I need to let go of things that are superficial and dig deep.  And love. 

May we make each day a day of noticing.  Imagine all the good that could do. 

Love to all.