Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Whisper That Grew to a Roar

A whisper. A soft, subtle voice.
There was a whisper that was told last week that changed me –and when I found out the source of the whisper – it made me mad, it made me revengeful, it made me loose sleep, it made me question my employment. Even a whisper can cause damage.
This whisper was allowed to grow. It didn’t have to. It didn’t have to take on the voice of a lion. It didn’t have to roar. But it did – because it was allowed to. Without a second thought – this whisper has put a chip in my reputation. You can put the chip back, but there will always be the reminder that your reputation has been compromised. There will always be a small crack, a small broken piece that will serve as a signal.
People act like this isn’t a big deal for the ‘truth will be told’. Yes, but after the fact. After the whisper was given voice to roar. The hell with my character, the hell with my reputation, the hell with my work performance and the hell with me. There was 24 hours to find the source of truth (or untruth as is in this case)before this whisper had to be shared. But they didn’t. They took that whisper and gave it a voice. A voice that has damaged my reputation.
I was raised to be a person of integrity. This was important to my parents and I pray it is important to my children. When my time here is complete; my character, my choices, my integrity is what I hope to be remembered by.
That whisper that was given the opportunity to grow last week hurt me to my core. No wait, it wasn't the whisper that hurt, it was the response. I truly believe it did not need to be voiced in the manner in which it was. People that I have been associated with for years heard this whisper. People that I respect, and people that respected me. My character, my reputation, my integrity were called into question.
I hope I learn something from this. When faced with adversity I try to find out the ‘why’. When I went through the divorce; I learned not to judge broken marriages as couples ‘just giving up’. I realized some people do work hard to make them work, and that it isn’t always as cut and dried as I used to think. When I went through cancer; I learned that as ugly as this disease is – it can invade my body, but it can not defeat me unless I give it the power to do so. There are people like Joannie; who although lost her battle with cancer, showed me how to confront it with grace and dignity.
So maybe this is another lesson. It took awhile for me to 'get' the lesson on the two examples just shared. All I know, I hurt. All I know, I have lost some energy. All I know, I have lost some faith.
Some of you know what I am going through personally right now. I hate this time of year with a passion that can not be defined. I relive "The Great Sadness" as it is charactized in The Shack. Every year I say 'not this year' . . . but it still haunts me. It starts May 22nd; Dad's birthday. Then May 29th when I remember saying goodbye to Joannie because I had to go back to Seymour so that on May 31st I could have lumps removed from my breast. Two days later (June 2nd) Joannie said goodbye to us. Then on June 6th - I relive Dad's death, and not being able to be there to say goodbye to him. I had been by his side for three day weekends for two months, and he died on a Thursday eve. I was heading up the next morning - I missed saying goodbye. We buried him the week of Father's Day. I want to get past this. I want to move on - I want to get past this "The Great Sadness" I have allowed to breed within me. Nine years have come and gone since Dad passed away, and six since Joannie. I need to move on. I prayed on Sunday, May 22nd that God would find something to help fill this void I am struggling with. God - if this was your 'filler' - if this was your idea to take my mind off other things; you did a poor job. You over estimated me. This didn't do it - only makes it hurt more.
Prayers accepted. Prayers for direction, prayers for peace, prayers for acceptance, prayers that this whisper fades. It won't die, to late for that, but maybe it can fade away.
Thanks for listening,

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

a proud mom

Today my oldest son, Josh texted me. He unexpectedly received a promotion and raise. He was excited. I am a proud mom. Josh loves what he does for a living - drafting. He is the Manager of the Drafting dept for SpaceGuard in Seymour, the youngest to be hired into this position. He is now over a few departments. (Still trying to find out what all this job entails) He loves where he's at. Not just with work - but with life. He's happily married, has a wonderful son with his second child on the way. I thought he was to young to take on any of this - but should have known. I think he was born with a mustache! Josh was always mature, and he always knew what he wanted. When he was 10 and his dad left, he told Josh "you're the man of the house and you need to step up" - this was said to a 10 year old! Josh took his dad seriously and for the next 6 years was afraid to be a child. I was thrilled when he turned 16 and started acting like a 16 year old. Strange words from a mother of a 16 year old - but I meant them. He was/is an amazing child (no matter how old he may be). I am very proud of him.
Earlier this month, my youngest (who is no means like his brother!) started working for StoneBelt. I was a bit concerned - but his point is "It's a good job while I finish up school". JT grew up around people with disabilities; served as a mentor in high school to a young man with a disability, JT along with Josh became buddies with a couple of men in a local group home and they would go play pool with them, and take them to Poplar Street on occasion. When he went off to Vincennes he along with a couple of fraternity brothers went to the Dean and started a "Best Buddies" program at Vincennes. JT and Randy are still good friends - JT went down and spent a day with Randy just a couple of weeks ago and looks forward to going to Randy's graduation in a couple of months. JT is outgoing and such an encourager - he really is good working with people.
Today though, I saw him in action and he made me proud. I was able to observe him feeding a guy in our Day Program; Bobby. JT was feeding Bobby and between bites was carrying on a conversation with him. Bobby is pretty much non-verbal - but his eyes said so much. You could tell he was enjoying spending the time with JT. He was laughing and just had a sparkle in his eye. This didn't surprise me - this is the son I know. But what came next touched me. JT took a napkin, reached over and wiped Bobbie's face, and Bobby stretched out his hand and JT took it and shook Bobby's hand. Dignity - such a little thing, but unfortunately not displayed enough in the lives of our Bobbys. JT didn't know that I saw what took place - but my heart swelled. I wasn't sure if I could handle JT working for the agency I worked for - but I now know that the Bobbys we work with are better because he does. I am a proud mom.
Today I was able to experience that pride twice. I am a lucky Mom and today I loved my boys as much as a Mom could.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Every year around this time, I have a familiar experience. I’m out shopping, and I’ll go through the checkout line, and pay for my stuff. When the cashier hands me back the change, they’ll say “Happy holidays,” or perhaps even “Merry Christmas.”
I realize that this comment is not always motivated by the cashier’s genuine interest in whether or not I enjoy my holiday. I’m aware that they may be saying this because they’ve been told to. I can envision the memo from Wal- mart corporate headquarters directing cashiers when to switch from “Have a nice day” to “Happy Holidays,” on the assumption that this will somehow help cement a lasting bond between the store and the customer that won’t evaporate when a Meijer’s opens across the street.
I’m aware of all that, and suspicious of the whole business. But at least once every year, I have a cashier who looks me in the eye and says “Merry Christmas,” and really means it. And it changes my whole day.
There really is something genuine to this whole idea of Christmas cheer. As Dec. 25th draws near, people warm up just a bit. If you’re out and around as Christmas Day approaches, you’ll notice that people are friendlier than any other time of the year. Maybe they realize the waiting is almost over.
People warm up when they are mindful of the Christ child’s birth, and make an extra effort to practice the virtues the angels sing of - “peace on earth, goodwill towards men.”
But consider this - why do we notice this more at Christmastime? Why does this surge in warmheartedness stand out? I think it’s because, despite our best intentions, good will towards men can easily become a seasonal event rather than a standing policy.
When Christ entered our world, he didn’t come to brighten our Decembers, but to transform our lives. It can be hard work to practice good will towards one another, we all have someone that we struggle to share good will with. Let's face it - some people aren't all that lovable. But John the Baptist’s message was that as we prepare for Christ to come into our lives, we can change our ways.
The Gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry provide the blueprint for loving our neighbor in a busy and complicated neighborhood. Christ made a point of seeking out the broken and disenfranchised people of his day - the lepers, prostitutes and tax collectors - and he saw the value in each one of them. And in so doing, He helped them recognize the value in themselves.
This Christmas season, it will be my wish that we recognize that just as faith is a decision, good will towards people is a series of decisions that work themselves out not in temporary holiday cheer, but in the details of everyday life. Wouldn't that make a wonderful CHRISTmas!

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Child Shall Lead Them ...

I had an interesting evening with my youngest son the other night. Now, JT is the son that my own mother is fond of saying is "the child I deserved", and you might be surprised to know it was not a compliment! JT simply enjoyed being 'all boy'. He was my challenge, and there is a lot of me to be found in JT. He has my sense of humor and he has my heart, and I love him dearly.
Don't get me wrong - he is the root cause (pun intended) for most of my gray hairs. But I too have been the source of a migraine or two to him. I am the one that showed up at an All-Star baseball practice to 'assist' in umpiring - as RoHo, my alter-ego. I am the one that suspended his cellphone when he would not respond to my calls for four hours, only to find him asleep in his room due to a horrible migraine. I am the one that made him wait 'til morning before I picked him up from jail, only to find out from the arresting officer that JT hadn't been drinking but was only with a crowd that had been. But the most memorable was our trip to the local tire store when I spoke before thinking and embarrassed the poor guy to death.
JT simply enjoys being with family and friends and making the most of each opportunity. He is passionate about what his future holds - having a degree in Fire Science and Arson Investigation and now working toward a degree in Homeland Security. Somewhere in the past couple of years JT has grown up. Somewhere in the past couple of years JT has matured. Somewhere in the past couple of years JT has become not only my son, but my friend. The other night my friend JT became a counselor - to me, his mother.
It had been a rough couple of days. An incident occurred at work that caused me to consider if what I do matters. Someone in a position of trust compromised that trust, and left individuals we serve violated. I am not going to go into details but I was left feeling disgruntled, lost, and a bit troubled. JT was home on fall break and we were finally able to have some time alone before he headed back to school. A suspicion I been mulling was confirmed, and it made me mad. It made me ill, it made me vengeful. Individuals that place trust in me and others had that trust compromised, yet they are unaware. They keep on trusting. 'What's my role' was the question I placed on JT.
Both of my sons have been active with Habitat for Humanity; working on many houses to turn them into homes. JT reminded me of a quote by Millard Fuller, the Founder of Habitat for Humanity: “I see life as both a gift and a responsibility. My responsibility is to use what God has given me to help his people in need." I believe my responsibility is to encourage and challenge individuals to be a part of their community. I believe this is what God has asked me to do. But this evening in particular I was feeling a sense of failure, like I had let the individuals that placed their trust in me down.
I guess I was questioning if going back into social service was right; JT told me that he has seen me become the person (not just a Mom) that he knew when I was with another company. That I love what I do and that I need to remember I do it because I enjoy breaking down barriers for individuals that may not be able to, or just need a bit of guidance on how to. In just a week or so I will have been with StoneBelt one year, and I have felt satisfied and enjoyed who I've worked for - as an agency, as well as with co-workers and consumers. But, that night with JT I felt defeated. Was there something I could have/should have done to ensure that our consumers who are vulnerable are not taken advantage of? Did I fall short in my position to see that the trust consumers placed in me wasn't honorable? I am dishearten to find that people placed in a position of trust react in such an unethical manner. JT simply reminded me that 'this is what you do Mom - you advocate for the Brads and Roberts' (two individual he and Josh mentored while I was with DSI). 'You can't help it, this is what you do' he said and then 'you tried something else and you had a job - but you lost your passion and you wanted to get back to this line of work'.
When did this child mature to the individual I enjoyed being with the other night? When did this child I raised start counseling his mother? When will I understand the child I love is a young man capable of being a pillar of support for me? I needed someone to confirm that I may not always do the right thing ... but I am doing the right thing.
JT - you are one of my heroes and I love you!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Our Labor

Matthew 7:12 (The Message)
12"Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God's Law and Prophets and this is what you get.

Today is Labor Day. My reward? I'm working - but not until later this afternoon. Because of my working; a co-worker is able to travel home and spend the long weekend with family. How could I say 'no'? I have to set an example; for my family and for those I work for and with. If I want others to treat me with favor - it is only right and fair that I do the same.

I saw Anderson Cooper (of CNN) give an interview recently, and in it he responded to a question regarding the best advice his mother (Gloria Vanderbilt) ever gave him. He said that she advised him to follow his bliss and the money would come. He had a dream to be a reporter and he now anchors each weeknight with his own news show. My 'bliss', what I gain satisfaction from; is knowing that each day I work with the girls in their home I am called to be a role model. I am called to teach; to be an example. If I don't treat others with respect or equality, I not only let myself and God down - I let the girls down. If I don't treat others with respect or equality I have let an opportunity for them to grow and learn slip away. An opportunity that may not come to pass again. So, today I will labor. I will go and take advantage of the day to teach them something. What? I don't know - but I do know that if I go grudgingly they will know it. So, I will go with a good attitude and make the most of the day.

I don’t know what your 'bliss' might be, but I urge you to find a calling in life and attach it to your work. Whether you have a job and wish you didn’t, or don’t have one and wish you did, or if you wish you had different people to work with or report to, the dailyness of your workplace can become a mental drag if you don’t choose to see it as a place of purpose and mission.

Be true to what you believe your purpose is.

Colossians 3:22-25 {(The Message)I have fallen in love with The Message}
Servants, do what you're told by your earthly masters. And don't just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you'll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you're serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn't cover up bad work.

I like that last verse: 'Being a follower of Jesus doesn't cover up bad work.' If I go with malice or with resentment in my heart today - I will have bad work and a bad day. Just because I am a follower of Jesus doesn't give me the right to do bad work; indeed it only gives me the responsibility to serve with a gracious heart. I chose to work today. But whether I had or not - I will work with a positive attitude because my work is my bliss. I really do enjoy what I do. Therein lies the definition of 'bliss'.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Noticing Things

I am a people watcher ... I love to figure them out, try to figure out what they are thinking, who they are with, what is their story. I love to 'notice' things about people. I don't think it's a gift - just something I enjoy doing.

I have fallen in love with the author Andy Andrews. He can’t write fast enough for me. Such a wonderful storyteller; which is why I prefer to buy his books on CD and listen to him read the books to me. Recently I had a friend return “The Noticer”, in my opinion one of his better stories. I thought ‘I am going to ‘re-read’ or ‘re-listened’ to it as soon as I can. The book is about a mysterious old man named Jones—just Jones, no mister—who shows up in the lives of people in crisis. Jones brings the gift of perspective—he notices alternative ways to think about things. Some of what he says is common sense: like “yes sir” works better than “I guess”. Some of what he says counters received wisdom: like “do sweat the small stuff, because little things can make a big difference as surely as brushstrokes make up a masterpiece”. Oh – the book is so full of these little bits of wisdom.

I just returned home from “Women of Faith” in Indianapolis yesterday evening. Andy Andrews was one of the speakers! I fell in love all over again with this man. I couldn’t lean close enough. There I was on the edge of my seat listening to this author I have found to be such an incredible storyteller. He spoke of the butterfly effect and how our purpose begins when we realize everything matters. That when we live a life of permanent purpose … team chemistry will thrive. Life decisions become wiser and more cautious. As leaders, managers, co-workers – as a parent, grandparent, friend – when we actually realize that every action matters - then every result of our actions immediately improves. And deciding to do something will make all the difference. There are generations yet to be born whose lives will be shaped by the actions we make today – and tomorrow. We have been created to make a difference in not only our own lives, but in the lives of those we come in contact with. Our lives, our decisions, our actions of today will matter forever. I understand more fully the impact of this as we are on the verge of celebrating Collin’s first birthday. What I do here and now will affect his future. I hope I am more conscious of this in my actions from this point on.

I mentioned that a friend recently returned “The Noticer” CD to me. Last evening I went outside and put the headphones on and ‘re-listened’ to it. Yes – the whole four hours …. It was after 2:00 when I got to sleep! But I was enthralled with what Andy Andrews was telling me (for I felt he was speaking to me alone). When things look the darkest to people in this book - a mysterious man named Jones has a miraculous way of showing up. An elderly man with white hair, of indiscriminate age and race, wearing blue jeans, a white T-shirt and leather flip flops carrying a battered old suitcase, Jones is a unique soul. Communicating what he calls "a little perspective," Jones explains that he has been given a gift of noticing things that others miss. "Your time on this earth is a gift to be used wisely," he says. "Don't squander your words or your thoughts. Consider even the simplest action you take, for your lives matter beyond measure…and they matter forever." Jones speaks to that part in everyone that is yearning to understand why things happen and what we can do about it.
One of my favorite Jones “wisdom” is when he is speaking with a young gentleman “four seagulls sitting on a pier, one of them decides to fly away. How many are left?” The gentleman gives the same answer we would “three”. Jones says “no – four. The one only made the decision to fly away, he didn’t actually fly away,” His point is that we have to do more than make the decision, we must act on our decisions.

There is no doubt I am going to matter in someone’s life, that my actions will shape the lives of my children’s and my grandchildren’s. I know this because I have been shaped by my grandmother Rose and by my parents. This book has become a valuable reminder of that fact. So - it is my decision to act now to make sure that my legacy to those that I meet is that I acted on my decisions – if I said I would do it – I did it. I want it to be said I was a positive influence on their lives, and I made a difference. It will be my goal.
Thanks for letting me ramble …

FYI … interested in borrowing my CD “The Noticer”? Make the decision to ask then take to action to listen. What a great perspective Jones will bring to you.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Pleasant Reminder

Last evening I was reminded why I chose to return to the field of work I had been doing for so many years. It was a year ago that I made the conscience decision that the time was right. When I left in November of 2006 from my previous job I was dejected. I was in a position where many hours was the norm/expectation. I don’t mind long hours – I enjoy what I do, my children are older so I have the time to commit, and I appreciate a challenge. But when your hard work, your dedication isn’t appreciated and you are feeling that no matter what you did it wasn’t good enough … well then it’s time to leave. So, I did. I admit how I left wasn’t the best decision I’ve made – but leaving was.

Fast forward three years: November 2009. I saw an opportunity to be a part of a company that I had come to respect when working with my former employer. In fact, part of problem I had with my supervisor back then was because of a stance I took in supporting Stonebelt. It wasn’t the straw that broke the camel’s back … but it did put a mighty strain on it. I was thrilled to be a part of the Stonebelt team. I saw an opportunity to do what I love doing: inspiring confidence in individuals that they can work, live and be active participates in their community.

Recently I have had more of an active presence in the home of two women. These women have been taught all about their rights as people with a disability, but they lack the confidence and as I have figured out lately, the knowledge to participate actively in their community of Columbus, Indiana. I admit, I wasn’t overly thrilled with the placement of being in the home. But I will not bow to a challenge and who knows – maybe this is one of the reasons God saw fit to place me there – to bring these ladies to a more acceptable position within their community. Like I said, these women know their rights – and they will tell you what they are! But they haven’t had someone show and explain other people’s rights. The right to privacy, to respect, to tolerance – the same rights they demand. It’s a long road, nothing will change overnight. But there are signs already popping up, and I a proud to be a part of the team that is gearing these women in the right direction.

Last evening was an opportunity to celebrate accomplishments made by individuals that are associated with Stonebelt. It was a pleasure to sit there and see the excitement, the energy, the pride on the faces of those not only being honored, but also those there to celebrate just being a part of Stonebelt. I enjoyed the ride home with the girls, discussing some of the accomplishments they have made over the past few months. I enjoyed leaving them at their home after a long, long day that suddenly didn’t seem all that long after all. It's good to be reminded and last night I was.

I enjoyed going out despite the hour, and having a cold drink on an extremely hot evening with a co-worker. We have only known each other a few short months, however it was an instant friendship. Thanks Cricket for being a person of ‘like mind’, for being someone that finds her work to be much more than job. Everyone needs someone you can laugh with, someone you can trust, someone you can lean on and someone that simply understands why we do what we do. Cricket gives me that, and I place great value on this friendship.

Last evening I was honored to be able to participate in a true celebration. It allowed me to wake this morning appreciating the opportunity I have to make a difference in someone's life ... and in mine. I really do love what I do. In the words of one of the women in the home "How awesome is that".