Shadow

My son Joshua got a kitten last year. We decided to not get her fixed right away. Let her have one litter of kittens so our kids could experience the miracle of life. I conveniently forgot that hand in hand with the miracle of life comes the tragedy of death. 

 

My foster son has been asking me for a kitten for five months. Five very long months. Practically every day we would have a conversation about kittens. Finally, our cat became pregnant and we promised him that he could choose one of the kittens. He chose a very sweet little black kitten with white markings, named him Shadow. 

 

This morning we discovered that in the night Mama Cat had decided to move her kittens. She had put them in a dangerous place and the little black kitten had gotten squished somehow and had died. 

 

They brought him to me in their hands, crying, hoping that I could fix it. I frantically looked for any signs of life, ready to rush to the vet immediately, but the kitten was dead. And I sat there crying, because it was a sweet innocent little thing. And it was my foster son’s. And he doesn’t deserve this kind of tragedy in his life. 

 

One of my daughters brought me a cloth that we could wrap him up in. My husband dug a hole in the back of the yard. We had a funeral. We buried him and then shared our memories. I told the kids that it’s customary to put flowers on a grave and they ran and found flowers. We fashioned a tombstone and my foster son wrote his memorial on it. 

 

And right now life just feels sucky. 

 

Rest in Peace little Shadow.

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The Traveling Clothes

It’s funny how an outfit can get associated with an entire time period of your life. When I was six and half years old we moved from Haiti back to the States. My mom was planning on going back to school so she could become a PAC and come back to Haiti to do medical missions. 

 

I remember shortly before we left, I was looking in my closet, and in the back of the closet found an outfit hanging up. It was a white sleeveless tshirt with blue anchors all over it. There was also a pair of navy blue culottes. Culottes? I didn’t own any culottes. Now, my next-door best friend Helen had lots of culottes. Maybe these were her clothes hanging in my closet? Maybe she had left them here and Mom was just waiting till she could give them back? I went and asked my Mom and she said that actually this was my traveling outfit, I was going to wear these clothes when we got on the plane to leave Haiti. They were my traveling clothes.

 

Oh. Ok. 

 

I remember the confusion of emotions. Excitement that I had a new outfit with CULOTTES! (I’d always wanted culottes!) Anticipation of getting on a plane. But also a bit of dread since I had no idea what all this meant. 

 

I remember when we got to the airport. My clothes were new and a bit stiff. The airport in Cap Haitien was still small and simple at that time, an open air tin roofed structure with a small area of seats. Lots of gates and chain link fences. For some reason or other me and my best friend quarreled at the very last minute and we either did not say goodbye or it was a very stilted farewell as the group of missionaries that had accompanied us hugged and kissed us on our way. But, I didn’t have too much time to dwell on that, we were getting on the plane. 

 

My mom handed me some Chiclet gum that she had bought from a vendor outside the airport. We rarely got candy or gum so this was a special treat. She instructed my brother and I to chew our gum while the plane was taking off so our ears wouldn’t pop. We obediently and industriously chewed our gum as the plane creeped down the runway, turned, and then suddenly started moving very fast. Everything rattled, we gripped the armrests, and then abruptly, all the shaking was gone. We were up in the air. My face was glued to the window as I watched Cap Haitien and the Mountain and the Bay slowly become smaller and smaller, and then all I could see was the ocean underneath us. 

 

We stayed in Florida for a little while. My only memory of that was going into a grocery store with my parents. Being a lot closer to the floor, I happened to see a small bag of Reeses Pieces in the trademark orange bag. The bag was open and only had a couple pieces of candy left in it. I quietly picked it up and tried out this little treasure I had found. Wow. This stuff tasted good! I quickly finished off the bag and then hid the evidence. Maybe a year later, I learned in school that you were not supposed to eat candy you had found because it might be poisoned. I was still too young to understand how poison worked, and I went through an anxious period of time while I wondered if that candy from a year before was still inside of me and might poison me yet.  

The next time my memory kicks in was when we arrived in Nashville, TN. My mom was looking at two different schools, one in Nashville and one in Morehead, KY where we had lived before on the family farm. 

 

While in Nashville, we stayed in a little guest house of sorts. An upstairs tiny apartment. I remember it was rather dark inside. I’m not sure how we got hooked up with this guesthouse. Some kind of church or mission connection I imagine. I remember that outside the house were long grassy lawns that my brother and I ran around on. And downstairs was a grizzly older woman who I somehow made a connection with. When we left that place she gave me a stuffed toy cowboy as a parting gift. I named him Cowboy Bill and kept him for the rest of my childhood. 

 

I remember while we were staying at this apartment, my Mom bought us a box of Lucky Charms cereal. This was amazing. We did not eat cereal in Haiti. In Haiti we had cooked breakfasts. Oatmeal, pancakes, toast, etc. What was this heavenly ambrosia? It had marshmallows in it! Marshmallows! For breakfast! And they were all pretty colors! And this began the long debate in my mind…Do I eat all the marshmallows first and then have to eat all the plain oat cereal afterwards? Or do I eat all the plain oat cereal first and then end the meal with the bliss of mouthfuls of marshmallows? (It took years of gaining maturity before I could learn to enjoy eating it mixed together, the perfect blend.) 

 

Though I’m sure I had other clothes, all of my memories of that time are of me wearing my white sleeveless tshirt with the blue anchors, and the navy blue culottes. A dark haired little six year old girl. Silently taking in the world in her traveling clothes. 

 

Facebook Challenge: Who Am I?

 

This morning I started thinking about high school. I’m reading a really good book that is exploring a young woman’s behavior when she was in high school…why she acted that way in the first place, and how those behaviors have shaped her present day adulthood. So, I started thinking about who I was in high school. Thinking especially about my last two years of high school up in Bethel, Alaska. And you know, I really don’t have any regrets about who I was during those years. They were good years. 

 

High school is such a public time in our lives. We go to school every day, we are surrounded by our classmates and teachers. We do extra-curricular activities and we are surrounded by all those people. Who-we-are is a very public thing. We can’t really hide it. 

 

It’s different when you are an adult. Especially when you’re a stay at home mom. I don’t have a large group of people that I see every day. I go to church on Sundays, but there usually isn’t time for a lot of private social interaction. I go to doctors appointments, very sterile, very little personal conversation. I go to the store, say hi to people. Occasionally we might have a playdate where I can visit with another mom for a couple hours, but that doesn’t happen too often. In reality, most of my interactions with other people occur on social media. I get on Facebook every day. I write my blog and share it in the blog world and share it on Facebook. I interact with other people’s posts. I message people. I am very much present online. 

 

So, today, I asked myself the question, Who am I on Facebook? 

 

Am I someone who is representing myself as a child of God? 

Are my words kind? 

Am I respectful? 

Do I care about the downtrodden? 

Have I gotten so caught up with defending one group of people, that I now spend a lot of time vilifying my “enemies”? 

Am I hateful towards groups of people I disagree with? 

(Example:Trump, Obama, Left wing radicals, right wing radicals, people who get abortions, people who fight against abortions, people who are pro-socialism, people who anti-government, people who believe in global warming, people who don’t believe in global warming, people who wear masks in public, people who don’t wear masks in public, people who watch CNN, people who watch FOX NEWS.) 

 

Are the things I’m passionate about actually creating  a stumbling block for someone else? (check out Romans 14: 13-19.)

 

Am I living out Love the way that Paul described in 1 Corinthians 13?

 

1 Corinthians 13  (NIV)

13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8b Love never fails. 

 

It’s been good for me to hit pause and do an evaluation…Who am I in public? 

 

I can see some things I need to work on. I can see where I’ve been impatient, I’ve kept records of wrongs, I’ve delighted in evil, haven’t protected. 

 

Hopefully, making myself aware of these things will be enough to help me shift my path a bit. Remind myself of my Core Values. Read my personal mission statement again. So that, years in the future, I can look back and say, You know, I have no regrets of who I was during that time in my life. 

Knoxville Police Department’s answers to my questions…

After my last blog post, I decided it would be good to just reach out to our local police department to get some information. I contacted them on their Facebook page and this is what I wrote:

 

Hi, my name is Esther Heneise. I live in East Knoxville, off of Magnolia. My children attend Sarah Moore Greene, Vine, and Austin East. Right now, as our country is going through the present turmoil over George Floyd’s murder, the attention has turned to the Police Force. I know that you are very busy, but I think it would be very helpful for me and the general public if you put out an official statement describing how our police force trains against excessive use of force, profiling, racism, and exactly what actions are taken if a police officer is caught doing these things. Also, are there any steps that people can take to seek justice if they feel that they have been treated unfairly by a police officer? My daughter wants to be a police officer, but she has not shared this dream at Austin East where she goes to school, because none of her friends would support her. There is definitely a culture at the high school level of police being the enemy. I am curious whether there are any programs in place to try and combat these bad public relations? if you have any time to answer these questions I would appreciate it. I am thankful for all that you do in our city and in my neighborhood. Sincerely, Esther Heneise

This was their response:

Hello Esther. Thank you for reaching out with your concerns.

Knoxville Police Department officers are trained extensively in human relations, cultural diversity, ethics in policing and de-escalation tactics, both during the Recruit Academy and throughout their careers.

 

During the Recruit Academy, trainees receive nearly 60 hours of training devoted exclusively to those topics, but that serves merely as a foundation that officers will continue to build on through their experiences in the field and continued training. That training is provided through daily squad roll call briefings, which can be formally administered through the Field Training Officer Program or initiated by the squad supervisors.  Additionally, all officers are required to complete yearly in-service training to maintain POST certification. 

 

We want to assure you that the Knoxville Police Department has the policies, procedures and training in place to address any issues and ensure that we deliver the best possible service for the community. Both the police department and training academy are accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies and are continuously evaluated to ensure compliance with industry-tested standards.

 

Per policy, Knoxville Police Department officers are directed to only use the force that is objectively reasonable to effectively bring an incident under control, and should only use force when no reasonable effective alternative appears to exist. The policy, of course, acknowledges that each encounter is unique and that numerous factors figure into the decision making of the officer in that circumstance. However, the preferred outcome of an encounter with a non-compliant subject is that the presence of an officer or de-escalation techniques are successful in obtaining compliance. 

 

With that, there are safeguards in place to ensure that officers are using force appropriately and treating all citizens with the respect and decency that they deserve from those tasked with protecting and serving the community.

 

Citizen complaints can be submitted either directly to the Internal Affairs Unit or separately to the Police Advisory & Review Committee. In either instance, those complaints are taken seriously, investigations are conducted if proven necessary and officers are held accountable for their actions. 

 

Use of force reports are submitted following all circumstances in which the subject sustains an injury, the subject complains of injury, medical attention is required or requested, or more physical means that result in an impact are utilized. All use of force reports are reviewed by an officer’s immediate supervisors, the District Commander and the Internal Affairs Unit, who conducts any follow-up investigations if it is deemed necessary. 

 

We feel that the evidence suggests that our efforts are working to bring every encounter to the most peaceful conclusion possible. In 2019, despite seeing an increase of 20,000 calls for service, we saw an over 28 percent decrease in use of force reports. 

 

The Department also utilizes its Early Warning System to monitor officers. That system exists to identify officers who generate numerous use of force reports and complaints of misconduct or are the recipient of numerous disciplinary actions. For those identified by the Early Warning System, the KPD evaluates their behavior, addresses it directly, and determines the appropriate action to take, which can include reassignment and termination if that behavior is not corrected. 

 

The Internal Affairs Unit is also responsible for putting together quarterly biased-based policing reports to ensure that no officer in the Department is involved in bias-based profiling and that all officers are acting within policy. If any issues are identified, the Internal Affairs Unit makes recommendations for training directives or policy changes. 

 

All of our efforts and training are based around de-escalation and cultural competency. Those things are intricately interwoven into everything we do, teach and expect of our officers. Though they often enter into tense and unpredictable situations, officers do not want to have to use force to bring an incident under control. We want to understand and connect with every citizen we encounter, and provide the service that the community expects and desires. We strive to treat every individual with the utmost respect, decency and dignity.

END TEXT

I am thankful that they took the time to answer my questions. Thinking ahead, as to how this information might be helpful…Perhaps, having a general education campaign that lets the public know what their rights are as far as their interactions with the police, and also making it very clear, and user friendly, how the general public can file a complaint. Perhaps even having a liaison, or go between, who could help someone file a complaint when they have been the victim of profiling or have been made to feel in danger by the police. Maybe these are things that would help black people in our community feel that they have a voice and a safeguard against wrongful behavior? What do you all think?

 

Thoughts on George Floyd

As I’ve scrolled through FaceBook the last couple days, I see everyone posting about the murder of George Floyd. I’ve seen a lot of different posts. Angry, Black Lives Matter, kind of posts. Sarcastic Memes saying that conservatives are a lot more worried about themselves than about this Man’s Death. Posts that wonder if there is a conspiracy afoot, perhaps this was done intentionally to stir up a riot. There have been several very good posts from Black Men who have introduced themselves, humanized themselves for the general public, in an attempt to take away the scary stereotype of “Dangerous Black Man”. I have seen mothers of black boys lamenting and praying over their son’s futures. I have seen a lot of people dismissing their need to be involved in any way because of the riots that have come afterwards, thus proving that this is not a cause they want to support. I have seen people turn this into a sermon illustration, this is proof that we all need Jesus. And I’ve also seen a couple very helpful posts that give a list of things that white people can do to fight against racism. 

 

I find myself asking the questions, what can I do? Have I done enough? Am I doing enough? What would I do if I had been an observer on the sidewalk, seeing this happen before my eyes? 

 

And I keep thinking about my teenage daughter. She has lived in an inner city, primarily black neighborhood, all her life. She has been attending inner city schools for four years. All of her friends at school are black. And this daughter of mine has a secret dream of being a police officer. She wants to work her way up to Detective. She has a plan of how she’s going to achieve her goals. She’s excited about it. And she told me that she has never shared this with anyone at school. She wouldn’t dare tell anyone at school. She tells them she’s interested in forensic science. And she confided to me that she didn’t think she would be able to work in our city. It just wouldn’t go over well with the people she knew. 

 

When I lived in Alaska, I had several friends who were in Law Enforcement. I know a couple down here as well. They are all people that I would trust my life to. I am pleased that my daughter has this dream. And I’m worried. 

 

I think about the video of George Floyd. Why didn’t any of the other officers interfere? Why didn’t they say something? Why didn’t they take any action? According to another post I saw, kneeling on his neck was not a police procedure. And according to yet another post, this guy has a long history of abusing his position as a police officer. Surely the other officers knew his character? Knew what kind of person he was? Is there some kind of protocol that was keeping them from interfering? 

 

What kind of system is this that one person can be doing evil in front of their peers, and no one takes action? 

 

I know that a lot of people dislike Black Lives Matter because they feel that it is anti-police. Or they feel that any criticism of our current police force will end up in having our police force nationalized instead of it being a local thing. 

 

I personally think that our police forces should be local. I am also Pro-police. I live in a neighborhood that deals with a lot of crime and violence. I depend on being able to call the police for help. But I don’t think it’s Anti-Police to be calling for reform, to be calling for some drastic changes that would make this type of violence impossible. It’s personal. One day my daughter might be one of those policemen. I want to know that she is entering a force of men and women who are accountable for their actions, who are taking great pains to be fair and equitable. 

 

I personally don’t know any bad stories about our local police. But, I do know that the culture at my children’s school is such that my daughter would never share her dream of being a police officer. I don’t know the stories, the history, the personal experiences that have led these children into believing that the police are their enemy. But the stories, the history, the personal experiences…they exist. We are reading about one of those stories right now. 

 

Racism exists. Police violence exists. George Floyd should not have been killed. We should all be outraged. 

 

Let’s focus that outrage into something tangible. I know, for myself, I know next to nothing about my local police force. I am very curious what rules and regulations they already have in place to combat racism and police brutality. I am sure they have something in place. I wonder how effective it has been? I wonder what their track record is? 

 

I imagine that with a couple well placed emails and phone calls, I could probably get those questions answered. I think I could probably even ask the question, what is the police force doing to start making positive connections with the young people in our neighborhood? Maybe they already have a plan that they are working on, that I just haven’t heard about. Maybe they have programs that need volunteers. Maybe they are aware of some weak places that need changes, maybe I can advocate in the proper places for those changes to happen. 

 

Let’s do something tangible. Don’t just blow up FaceBook with your grief and anger, turn this tragedy into something good. George Floyd was killed. And that motivated me to get involved in my community and start advocating for changes. And that is how we turn this senseless tragic death into something that will go forward. And this is how we honor George Floyd. 

What Does it Mean?

John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

 

I just read this verse this morning. The phrase, “will be loved by my Father” stood out to me. And the question, What does it mean to be loved by the Father? 

 

I was staring off into space, thinking about this, and my phone gave me some kind of alert, and I glanced down at my phone and saw this Picture that I had taken and was using as my screensaver. 

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It was from a walk I got to take a couple weeks ago when we were visiting a state park. My husband watched the kids while I took a solo jaunt in the woods. It was a beautiful walk. The kind of scenery that spoke to my soul and gave me joy. Nothing overtly breath-taking, just beautiful woods and greenery and light filtering through the trees. 

 

I looked at this picture and thought, this is what it means to be Loved by the Father. He created this beautiful world and then he arranged for me to be able to be out and about in it. 

 

I smiled at this thought, and then looked up. My daughter was just standing by my chair. No reason. She was playing her Minecraft, and decided that standing by my chair was a good place to play. I looked at her beautiful pixie face, her dark hair pulled back into a messy bun that a model would envy, her eyes so bright and intelligent. And I thought, this is what it means to be loved by the Father, a houseful of amazingly sweet, intelligent, fun children. 

 

A bit later, I was trying to deal with the mystery of why my washing machine was making noises and yet the power was turned off, and even when I tried to turn the power back on, it wouldn’t turn on, and yet the machine continued to make noises. I called my husband. Walked through some different steps over the phone with him, then when a large electric spark erupted while I was attempting to plug the machine back in, I just walked away from the whole thing. No laundry today. I’ll wait for you to get home and figure this out. 

 

And I thought, this is what it means to be loved by the Father. He has given me a Godly, wonderful husband who loves me and who takes care of his family. (And fixes washing machines!)

 

I thought about the question some more…What does it mean to be Loved by the Father? I suddenly remembered last night. I was watching an online class on trauma and how it shapes children’s minds, and different strategies to help bring healing. One of the first steps they gave was, Understand Yourself and your Own trauma. And I realized, that’s exactly what God has been doing over the last several years. Putting me in a place where I can understand myself better. Understand my own history. And now, from that understanding he is putting me in a place where I can help others who need healing from their trauma. 

 

And that is what it means to be loved by the Father. He not only blesses you, but then he gives you opportunities to take those blessings in order to bless others. Like one of my pastors likes to point out, in Genesis 12: 2-3, God blessed Abraham, so that he could bless others. 

 

What does it mean to be loved by the Father? 

 

I think it’s one of those questions that can be given a different answer every time you ask it. Tomorrow my list would look different. Yesterday, I would have told you that being loved by the Father was about living in community with others and the richness that brings to your life. The day before that I would have said that being loved by the Father was about his Amazing Grace no matter how much I mess up. 

 

Today, I think I will end with Peace. It’s peace. Knowing that I am loved and taken care of. Knowing that all things are in his hands. Not striving. Just Peace.

 

I am loved by the Father. 

Reckless Love

It’s been a rough week. Not so much that my circumstances suddenly became horrible, rather that my ability to handle my everyday circumstances seemed to be at a low ebb. A big part of that has been because I’ve been making some changes, and change is hard. I talked about that in the previous blog. But, I wanted to take a little time, on this Saturday evening, to share a bit of how God has been grace-filled to me. 

 

On Wednesday, an old acquaintance (friend? Casual Friend? Really nice person that I have always liked, but never had a lot of conversations with?) messaged me on FB and told me she wanted to drop off some crafts at my house. Well…Ok…Wow. That would be awesome! Thank you very much! She dropped by a little later and carried in 3 very large bags and a large box, full of VBS-worthy crafts. All organized and ready to go.  Wow! Thank you so much! 

 

On that same day I had a really rough spot with one of the fosters and not one, but TWO different adults who are part of this child’s life were able to come to the house and speak to him and help him and all of us get over a rather rough patch. 

 

And then, on another day, another acquaintance (friend? Casual friend? Really nice person who works in our church’s Children’s Ministry with my kids, but who I only speak occasionally with…) messaged me and said that she had randomly thought of me, and wanted to offer to babysit my kids for free so I could get a break. Well…Ok…Wow! Yes! Please come! Thank you very much! And then she came Friday and babysat, and also brought her Mom with her (who is certifiably one of my good friends), so I was able to chat with her a bit before I took off. 

 

I was mentioning all these things to my husband, and he commented, that’s an awful lot of random people just “happening to think about you”. And I paused. You’re right. And I gulped, cause I realized that God had been talking about me. To other people. Calling in favors. Pulling some strings. Making elaborate arrangements to bless me. 

 

And that makes me tear up, cause really, I don’t feel worthy of that kind of Supernatural help. In fact, this week, I’ve felt a lot like a failure. I haven’t been as nice as I could have been. I haven’t been as patient as I know how to be. I have not been the picture of grace and wisdom, carefully and cheerfully guiding my home. No, more like a grumpy pit bull, snarling a bit, forgetting important things, not finishing tasks, buying a lot of takeout, letting the kids watch too much tv. Crashing along, trying to be productive, but not really succeeding. 

 

And in the midst of all that mess, God starts sending me gifts. The gift of his people’s generosity. 

 

And my old thought patterns rear their head. What? I’m being bad. That means you should be disciplining me, punishing me, at the very least, ignoring me. But instead, he lavishes love and grace on me. 

 

These are the lyrics to the chorus of the song Reckless Love, by Songwriters: Caleb Culver / Cory Asbury / Ran Jackson

 

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine

I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

 

And that is what is running through my head, as I continue to stumble my way through life, covered by His Grace. 

I Hate Change

Hey Internet World. Good morning from East Tennessee. It’s a cool, grey day over here right now. I took a brisk twenty minute walk around the neighborhood this morning while my kids were watching tv shows. I put the older kids in charge. Then, when I was one street over from my house, on my homestretch, I heard a child yelling MOM!!!!! It was coming from a distance and I just knew, with all certainty, that it was one of my children. Good grief. I started walking faster. Please let them stop. It was not a cry for help or a cry of distress. Just a, hey, I want Mom back, I know she’s out there somewhere, I guess I’ll call for her. There was silence and I started to hope, maybe it really wasn’t one of my kids, maybe I’m just being paranoid, after all, there are a lot of kids in this neighborhood. I rounded the corner, I had two options, take the shorter way through the alley, or get a little more distance by going all the way around the block. I heard the cry again….MOM!!!!! I took the alley. Heart rate was definitely up now. Finally, the house was in view. I saw the small child sticking her head out the side door, mouth opening to yell again. I called her name and proceeded to lecture her about yelling out the door and how the whole neighborhood could hear her. Of course, the whole neighborhood could probably hear me lecturing her as well. 

 

This of course highlights one of my difficulties I’ve encountered this week as I’ve tried to stick to my new challenge of walking 10,000 steps a day. How do I get in all my walking time? On rainy days I have been going on my elliptical which is fine, but I do prefer to be outside walking. I tried taking one of my more athletic kids on a one hour walk with me, and by the end she was complaining of sore feet. Part of walking is to help de-stress, and walking with a bunch of children who are whining about sore feet and wanting to know when we can go home is not de-stressing. I am also struggling through depression and anxiety at the moment, and part of being in that mindset is that I have an insatiable desire to be alone. I crave solitude. Taking walks by myself is a really nice break for me. 

 

This past weekend was great. My husband was home in the mornings and I could go on a long walk each morning. And then we also went to different places where I was able to walk during the day as well. The weekdays have been more of a challenge. Throw into that the fact that we are trying to transition into a summer routine, and needless to say, I’ve been a bit out of sorts this week. 

 

I had made the observation a while ago that my foster kids did not handle change well. Even if it was a positive change. Disruptions to the routine always result in disruptions to their behavior. I had noticed this and I try to keep it in mind when dealing with different behaviors. But, I must admit, I was a bit condescending about it in my mind. Poor kids, can’t handle change. So weird. 

 

Then this week, as I struggled through changing to a new routine with the kids and have struggled with setting up some healthier habits for myself, I had the big epiphany that I actually don’t handle change well either. Sure, I don’t scream or act out in noticeably bad ways, but I sure do get grumpy, and snappy, and short-tempered and irritable.

 

It’s interesting that God made our world as a world of change. In the Bible, the book of Eccliastes has a beautiful chapter about seasons.

 

Eccliastes 3: 1-11b  

 

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time…

 

If we are being honest, when we think about our dream life, our Happily Ever After, it does not involve a lot of change happening. We don’t factor in family members dying. We don’t factor in job changes. We don’t factor in relationships changing and sometimes fading away. We tend to want to take a snapshot of our Best Day and then just stay right there. 

 

I’ll admit, I have not handled this whole Word-Wide Pandemic thing nearly as well as I thought I should. And a big part of that was because it was too much change all at once. And apparently, I don’t like change. 

 

I think one of the rudest awakenings I’ve had as a Christian Adult, was having to face the fact that God had no intention of removing all my problems and making my life easy. As I stood there pointing at the problem, demanding that God make it go away, he simply linked arms with me, and said, here, lets’ walk through this together. By the time you get to the other side, you’ll have become a little bit more like me. 

 

God made our world to be a world of change, and that change forces us to change as well. If we are hanging onto Jesus, those changes are going to be for the better. 

 

So, I will attempt to embrace the idea that change is actually good, not something to avoid, and I will hope that I come out on the other side a little bit stronger, a little bit more patient, a little bit more confident that God’s got me, no matter what. 

The Power of a $6 Pedometer

A couple days ago I was sitting with my husband and he asked, “What’s got you down? ….I mean, besides everything else that’s going on?” And I had to laugh. “Uh, Everything that’s going on is what’s got me down.” Let’s recap…Worldwide Epidemic, quarantine, economic shutdown, school closures, church closures, park closures, library closures, Kids Museum closures, play spaces closures, our community park closure. And then there are all the consequences from that…homeschooling a houseful of children, limited meetings with friends, nowhere to take the kids to just get out of the house. Plus some pretty high-stress situations we’ve had with our foster kids…Yeah, it’s all getting me down. And then, just to make things a little happier, my brain has decided to remind me that I’m overweight and out-of-shape, just so I can have one more thing to be down about. 

 

So, this was my state of mind. Looking ahead to the summer, trying to figure out what on earth I’m going to do with the kids all summer if all the playgrounds and splash pads and libraries and kid’s museums and public play spaces are all closed? And no camps this year. 

 

It kind of feels like I’m complaining, except that I think it’s a legitimate problem. If you are someone who has always fully utilized all the public parks and libraries and play spaces and then they are gone, what do you do? 

 

Well, in all of that turmoil, I got an idea. I’m going to go ahead and give God thanks, because I wouldn’t have thought of it on my own. A friend of mine has been running and she’s been making monthly goals of how many miles she wants to run a month. Very cool. I, however, am not a runner, but I do love to walk. Which got me thinking about setting goals for walking, which got me thinking about pedometers, which got me online researching how many steps are good to take in a day, and the end result was, I have decided to set myself the goal of taking 10,000 steps a day. 

 

Yesterday I went out to Walmart in the morning and got myself a cheap $6 pedometer. Then I bought a no-pull harness for my dog, who has never done well on a leash, and got some new insoles for my tennis shoes. All set. 

 

Yesterday I managed to walk 11,526 steps. Yay me! 

 

I went on my elliptical twice, reading my book on my kindle app while I walked. Then we got the dog all harnessed up, the kids all got on their bikes, and we took a long walk around the neighborhood. It was fun. The dog loved it and the harness worked really well for him. (We have a large yard that he runs around in, but he recently got fixed and has already started packing on extra weight, he needs more exercise, plus our neighborhood is the type that I feel better going on a solo walk if I have a big dog with me, win-win for both of us.)

 

This morning I got up early and one of my daughters and the dog and I took a long, hour-long walk, which knocked out half of my needed steps for the day. 

 

Here’s the thing. Setting that one goal really didn’t solve all my other problems. But it gave me an injection of hope. Something to work towards. And it’s also got me thinking of how to incorporate walks into each of our days. Start taking the kids around to different places where they can ride their bikes or their scooters. It got me thinking about how Andy and I could walk on our date nights, there are a lot of places within walking distance of our house we could go to. And while all the other problems about homeschooling and summer schedules, and worries about the world, they’re still here, I’m finding myself a little more energized to tackle these things. 

 

Two days ago I was feeling hopeless, today I’m feeling energized. I will never cease to be amazed how Every Single Time I think I have reached rock bottom, God comes and blows a fresh breeze in my face, revives me, and sets me back on the path with a pat on the back. And he uses the craziest things to do it. A $6 pedometer. Who knew that’s what I needed? 

Nerd Rant

The other day my cousin posted pictures on FB where she and her husband were recreating famous artwork at their home with everyday objects. Somehow they managed to make a decent impression of “Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh. It was fun. You could definitely look at it and say, Yes, I can see that..”Starry Night”..it’s there…

 

This is how I feel about the movie Ender’s Game. You can watch it and say, hmm…yes, I can see how that is a little bit like the book. Same character names. There’s a battle station. Kind of the same plot. A bit. I can see it. I guess. But, that’s about it. 

 

It is rather painful when you have a favorite book and then they try to make a movie out of it. 

 

Very painful. 

 

Ender’s Game is one of those books that I have kept with me since I was an early teenager. I loved it. The understanding that children have a thought life, they are fully human…and they are capable of so much more than we give them credit for. The idea that a child could shape history. These things resonated with me when I was young. 

 

This is one of those books that I just pull out every couple years. It’s sitting on my shelf and I glance at it when I’m trying to find something to read…and I think, no, not yet, it’s too soon since I last read it. And then, one day, I look at it and I just know, It’s time. Time to read the book again. And somehow I’ve waited just the right amount of time so that when I read it, I’m still surprised, I’m still emotionally connected. It’s still deeply enjoyable. 

 

So, I just re-read Ender’s Game, and now I’m reading the companion book, Ender’s Shadow, which retells the story from a different character’s point of view. And in the middle of all that, I thought, hey, let’s watch the movie. So, Andy and I watched it after the kids were in bed. And I felt like screaming the whole time. WHAT??? What are you doing??? Did you even read the book before you wrote the script??? How did you get this character so WRONG!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE??? 

 

I mean, I understand, it’s a long, complicated book. Some things were going to have to be sacrificed. But you would think that they would at least capture the personality and character traits of the main character. They took a compassionate, wise leader who ends the book at only eleven years old, and they turned him into a whiny, emotional teenager. ??????????? They turned a book about CHILDREN into a book about older TEENAGERS. 

 

If you can’t tell by now, I was not impressed with the movie. 

 

There is a definite correlation between how much you enjoy and know a book, and how well you are going to enjoy the movie. For instance, Lord of the Rings. I read the book series once. I never felt the need to read it again. I loved the movies. I had no problem with them at all, even though some of the diehard LOTR fans in my life had some strong opinions. But, the Narnia movies grate on my nerves. The first one, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is close enough that I can mostly enjoy it, but the other two movies just went off into their own little story lines, completely ignoring the fact that the book was already perfect just as it was, no need to mess with it. 

 

What is the deal with script-writers anyway? 

 

Ok. Rant over. Mostly. 

 

If you happen to be looking for a good Sci-fi, I recommend Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card. I’m not as in-love with the rest of the series that both those books are connected to, but they are still good. 

 

And I definitely don’t recommend watching the movie. 

 

(And yes, this movie came out years ago, I’m late on the rant trail…but it’s never too late to try and save people from a bad experience!)