My One and Only Political Post

On Tuesday the littles and I loaded up and headed to the middle school just down the road a few minutes.  This was my first time voting there, but I was familiar with the school, as Aub went there in sixth and seventh grades.

We walked in and the jaguars and purple and black colors greeted us, as did a young volunteer who directed us where to go.  The line was longer than any I’d experienced in many years if ever, but it was moving fairly quickly.  People were in good spirits, and I noticed a law officer standing off in a corner who could probably address those who might not have been.

A little girl maybe two and a half or three years old was in front of us with her mother.  She was intrigued by the purple floor tiles.  “Dey my fabrite,” she said, pointing and then touching her toe to first the little square and then the big one.  A little girl who has already moved from pink to purple as her favorite–it made me smile.

As we moved forward to where she could see our desired goal, she looked puzzled.  “Mama, where de boat?”

Her mother leaned over to hear her question again. “What, honey?”  The little one turned all around with her arms spread wide.  “I don’t see de boat.  Where de boat?”

Her Mama patted her on the back and smiled.  The officer standing close by was amused, and I was enchanted.  Her Mama gently explained that she had said they were going to “vote” not “boat.”

Oh honey.  I get it.

These days I find myself looking for the boat too.  The one we are all in.  Together.

Because all of us–EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US–are in the SAME BOAT.  This community, this state, this country, this world–we are ALL in that same boat, no matter how we may feel inclined to vote.   Whoever is elected doesn’t heal the rifts or settle the misunderstandings. The wounds inflicted now won’t magically disappear when all of the promises, accusations, finger pointing, name-calling, and fear-mongering is over.  They will still be there, deep and throbbing.  Whether the candidate you support or the one I support is elected, the PAIN WILL REMAIN.

The only way to stop the pain is to never inflict it.

So before we do or say or share all the hurtful things, we need to remember–

We are all in the same boat.

If we crack the hull, we ALL suffer.  Not just those with whom we disagree.

Let’s row it back to calmer waters together, y’all.

Fischerboot

“Fischerboot” by Re-Zensor – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fischerboot.jpg#/media/File:Fischerboot.jpg

Catch and Release

Our Princess came in from reading her science book yesterday afternoon.  She was quite upset.

“Mama, do you know why the pond down there isn’t running over with fish?!” she asked, referring to a fun fishing pond we’ve visited a couple of times.  “Do you know?  It’s BECAUSE THE FISH ARE DYING!”

Sometimes I cannot keep up with the trails her mind runs down.

“Ummm, okay?  And why are the fish dying?”

“See, it says right here.” She held out her book.  “Fish have a protective layer on their scales that protect them from bacteria and bad stuff in the water.  When people catch them and touch them, even if it’s so they can release them back into the water, those fish are likely TO DIE BECAUSE THEY’VE LOST PART OF THEIR PROTECTIVE LAYER!!!!!”

She was really getting wound up now.

She assured me she would no longer have any part of “catch and release”fishing if there was even the tiniest chance she was harming them.  “I mean, first of all, there’s a hook in their mouth…..”

I was thinking about that yesterday evening, and it occurred to me how we do this in life.  With people.  Folks we know and folks we don’t.  We have good intentions.  No plans to do any harm.  We’re just hanging out, enjoying ourselves, living our lives, and we meet folks, spend time with them, and then we return back to our own story.  But whether we realize it or not, we touched those folks.  And sometimes without intending to, we have left a mark on them that could be harmful.

It could be something we said, something we didn’t say, how we really didn’t acknowledge their presence, how we didn’t see them,  or how we made some offhand comment that was said in jest but really hurt.  We have the power to hurt without even realizing it.  Just in the way we touch someone in a moment.

We also have the power to heal.

I don’t think through the things I say or things I do nearly often enough.  My girl reminded me how important that is.  Fish are dying, people.  So are tender spirits.  It’s up to us to make things better.

May we all seek to heal with our touch.

Love to all.

Fish_on_hook

By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“Scratch It, You’re Done”

Today the crew and I found ourselves doing an unexpected end of semester move for our college girl.  It was a very good thing, and we rocked it.  We moved her across campus less than 24 hours after she got word she could move, and it took us 2 hours from start to finish.

Yeah, we are feeling pretty sanctimonious right about now.

As I was helping to pack up her room in bags and boxes and whatever I could find, I came across the scratch art set that Mess Cat gave Aub for her birthday.  I hadn’t packed it up yet, when I heard our Princess chastising her brother.

“No, don’t touch that.  You scratch it,  you’re done.  One scratch, it’s a picture.  You can’t undo it.”

Ah.

Much like how when our hearts or souls get scratched.  There’s no undoing that.  It’s done.

I think I’m going to start carrying around one of those black sheets with all the color underneath as an example of how delicately we should treat each other–as though we are all precious (and we are) and the least little scratch could change us forever–of how we should be careful of how we touch each other–with love or anger.  The mark will stay either way.

May we always use our touch to create something beautiful.

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artwork by our Princess

Love to all.

 

The Magic Remains

Our elves showed up last night.  (Well actually this morning.  Early.  Don’t ask me how I know.)  We have Christopher PopinKins, whom my Mama gave us years ago.  He doesn’t do anything really naughty.  He just leaves at night and goes to the North Pole to file his report, and then the adventure is finding where he is hiding the next morning.  Last year, three kindness elves flew in from England, and we enjoyed reading their daily notes on how to share a smile or offer a kindness each day.  It helped us focus on giving and not as much on the getting, which made for a lovely Advent and Christmas.

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Christopher PopinKins hanging out with the Raggedy Ann girls. He’s loaded up with peppermints (apparently his favorite, I hear) and with letters to Santa to take back to the North Pole tonight. All of which was unprompted. Precious.

It was funny to me that my littles searched high and low for the elves yesterday morning, what with it being December 1st and all.  I didn’t know we were on a set schedule, but I stand corrected.  Our Princess was so concerned last night that she made up a little bed for the three smaller elves just in case, like the one she had set up last year.  So of course, she was certain that’s why they didn’t come until today.  They were waiting on their bed.

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The three Kindness elves all tucked back into the bed, after having their little tea party. I’m not even sure where all she gathered things to make this little bed–she did it all on her own, convinced they needed a place to sleep. Bless.

I am also finding it very precious that she keeps calling the “Kindness Elves” the “Goodness Elves.”  It is good to be kind, isn’t it?  And kind to be good?  Out of the mouths of babes.

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An elf tea party a la Princess style.

What really surprised me–and yet, maybe not so much–is that my sweet girl–yes she’s 11 now, found the cupcake eraser favors we had tucked away, and she set them out for a tea party for the little elves, complete with furniture from my fairy garden.  Well.

The magic is still very real for her.  I wondered if it would be.  And I’m so thankful to find that it is.

May it ever be so.

Love and a healthy bit of wonder at the magic 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.

Love Thy Neighbor

You know that whole love your neighbor thing?
Yeah.
That.
There’s all kinds of memes and things written out there pointing out that yeah, he meant what he said. That he meant it about all of our neighbors, not just the ones who are the same color or nationality or believe the same things or share the same values or read the same books or have the same favorite character on TV as we do.
Nope.
All.
And so this occurred to me as one of our neighbors drove by while I was out walking a few days ago. I automatically threw my hand up to wave, and then realized it was THAT neighbor. The one who never waves. Who never acknowledges anyone’s presence when he’s out mowing. The one who simply ignores all of the rest of us.
Ugh.
And then I heard those words echoing in my heart again–because that’s where they are now, I know them by heart–“Love thy neighbor.”
Even him?
Yes. Even him.

Okay then.

The funny thing is that the struggle is real. It’s easy for me to stand to the side and nod and say, “Oh yes. ALL the neighbors. ALL the people. Yes. We should LOVE THEM,” and then stand around for hours and meet and plan and discuss how to do just that. But when it comes to my own little corner of the cosmic neighborhood, I find it a little harder. Yes, all those who are different from me. Absolutely. The ones who are this or that? Sure. LOVE. THEM. But point at the neighbor who never waves back–ummmm, for real?

Yes. For real.

So there’s another neighbor of ours. We have an interesting relationship. We’ve not always seen eye to eye. I am sure I make him as crazy as he makes me sometimes. And it’s nothing big–all little things. And yet. Just the other day, I was thinking that yeah, though we do exasperate each other from time to time, I was sure if I needed help, he’d be there.

I was about to be proved right.

Yesterday evening my neighbor loved us.

He saw something that needed doing, and without blinking, he did it. For us. Without being asked, without asking for recognition or any remuneration, he just did it.

And when I saw, I nearly cried.

Because that’s just one of the many wonderful things that love does–sees something someone needs and takes care of it.
Love thy neighbor.  Every last one of them.

It makes me smile at how clever the One running things is–teaching me to love my neighbor through the one that can make me the craziest. Sounds about right though. Always using the unexpected to teach the most important things…..

for now, I’ll keep working at loving all my neighbors. The ones in our world and the ones down the street. It may not always be easy or even fun, but all means all.

Tonight I’m thankful for good neighbors, especially the one who had every reason to turn a blind eye to our need but didn’t. I’m grateful to the ones who first taught me the words “love thy neighbor” and showed me what that looked like. Most of all, I’m thankful for new chances, each and every day, to be a good neighbor to someone else.

Love to all. And your neighbors too.

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Doing What is Beautiful

There is an Arabic term that means “doing what is beautiful.”

Ihsan

This word embodies taking one’s inner faith and living it out.

Another part of this way of life is to live as though God were standing just over there and could be seen.

This is such a lovely concept.  I have spent days wrapping my brain around it and thinking about what I would say when I shared this with you all.

Sarah Thebarge, author of The Invisible Girls, shares in her video blog “what’s the difference between a big story and a good story?” what it means to be a good and faithful servant in our world today.

It’s worth watching and less than five minutes long.  I see a connection here.  I think if we live like she describes, living out the good story–as small and unimportant as it may seem to us–we are living out ihsan.  Doing beautiful things according to what we believe, as though the Creator were standing right over there within sight.

I am sure I have oversimplified what this term means, and I mean no disrespect.  But I think we need more beauty and grace and inspiration to scatter kindness in our lives.  And I embrace a word that calls us to do just that.

May today be your day to write your good story.

Love to all.