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Archive for June, 2012

Father’s Day for the Fatherless

I was reading a book today titled Fields of the Fatherless, I was hoping it would be an interesting read. I was hoping it would shed some light on the fatherless but it really didn’t provide me with anything I didn’t already know. It would be a good book for someone who is just beginning to understand that we should be compassionate to the fatherless.
I found this book to be filled with duh statements. One of the first I read was when the author said that he was visiting an orphanage and was surprised at how clingy the children at the orphanage were. This was a duh statement for me because it makes sense. When you go to Africa do not the starving children ask for food? So to do children without love ask for it. They demand it, because they know that they need it.

Tomorrow it will be Father’s day and I have been blessed with a great dad. I have a great relationship with him that has flourished over the years. My dad had to learn how to be a dad because his own dad was absent. How did he learn how to do that? Did he learn it from his mom? I don’t know how he learned to be a great dad, I just know that he is a great dad.

But I know loads of people that are fatherless. Their father may be absent. Their father may be dead. Their father may have abandoned them. Their father may be distant. Their father may be too broken to realize that they have alienated their children. So how do the fatherless celebrate Father’s Day?

I know some people who have estranged relationships with their fathers that will be calling to say hello. I know some people that won’t even make the call. I know some people that will be visiting graves or spending a few moments in silence, in remembrance of those who have died.

How do the fatherless celebrate Father’s Day? One of the churches that I went to in Pasadena suggested that those who were not Father’s should be celebrated because they were “spiritual fathers.” From my understanding, a spiritual father is someone who shepherds someone through their faith. They are a mentor and friend of sorts with the addition of making sure to point out when they feel that you are doing wrong.

So that takes care of the men who are not father’s but what about the children without father’s? Do we even consider them on this day? Do we even stop for a moment and think about how hard it is for them? About how hard it is for them to not have that special bond with someone?

They do not know, nor do they understand the story of the Prodigal Son. They do not know that joy that the father experienced. They do not understand how someone could love someone after they behaved so badly.

That’s what a father’s love is all about right? No matter how many times I mess up or get myself into trouble I know that my father loves me.

This is sometimes easiest to see on the faces of new dads. The look they have when looking down at their child is one of pure love and pure devotion and pure protection. They would do anything for their son or daughter. So when does this pure love, devotion and protection go away?

Are some men born without it? Do some men just ignore it? What happens? Where does the devotion go?

The fatherless are sad to me. We have always celebrated Father’s day in my house. I found it interesting because my father had an absent father and my mother’s dad died when she was young. Neither my mother or father had fathers when they were growing up and yet they worked hard to give their children what they never had.

We always go out to lunch on Father’s day and tomorrow will be no different. I’m already planning out my pain management for tomorrow so that I can be present to help celebrate Father’s Day with my dad but I know that many of my friends and loved ones won’t be celebrating anyone tomorrow.

And it breaks my heart.

So what can we do on Father’s Day for the Fatherless? A professor once told me to never make a challenge to a congregation or group of people that I wasn’t willing to do myself. So this challenge is not to you alone. It’s to me too.

What can we do for the Fatherless on Father’s Day? I’m not fatherless so I don’t have all the answers but here are some ideas I have been thinking about:

1. A few moments of silence to recognize the Fathers that aren’t with us.

2. Adoption. Take someone who is fatherless with you for the day. Adopt them into your family not only for Father’s Day but adopt them to become part of your family. If there is a divorced family in your church or community and you know that the father is never around then invite the kid over for Sunday dinners once a week or once a month and then on Father’s day include the mom and the kid in your celebrations. If there is an adult in your midst who has an absent father do the same. Invite him or her to become part of your family and nurture them.

3…What are your ideas? How can we help the Fatherless?

I know God is the father to all of us including the Fatherless but we all need earthly fathers as well. How can we help the fatherless not feel so fatherless?

Am I strong enough yet?

For those of you that don’t know, I have been passing a stone for the last four days. And throughout the agonizing pain I have had “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson in my head.

Hopefully by now everyone has seen the video made by the children’s cancer ward. I think I watched this video about 20 times when if first came out. I’m in no way comparing my battle of the last few days to this video. I cry every time I watch it but I still think it is an awesome video, and an awesome song.

The lyrics that keep running through my head are:

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger/stand a little taller.”

The whole song is about surviving a bad break-up but it has more applications than that.

In my case it is about passing a stone and having the worst pain imaginable. It’s not even a constant pain. For instance, this morning I was feeling so much better but then tonight I am crying because I am in so much pain. Passing a kidney stone is said to be more painful than the hardest labor pains.

I’ve never had a baby, I’ve never even fully passed a stone. But I do know that this is some of the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. What sucks about the kinds of stones that I get is 1) they are huge and 2) I cannot prevent them.

Some stones can be prevented by diet. You control your intake of pops and other harsh sugars and you are all good. My stones are not related to my diet. They are related to the acid build-up in my body. They are related to infections I get that I don’t know I have.

I have a high tolerance for pain. I always have. It could have to do with the issues of my birth or my low weight or all the testing I had to go through when I was a kid. It could have something to do with many many things, I don’t know. I don’t really care. I am thankful for my high tolerance for pain. But it does get in the way, especially when it comes to my production of stones.

Most people are in excruciating pain when they get a bladder infection or a UTI. I never feel them. I know right! I’m so lucky. But the problem with that is that if you don’t feel a UTI it turns into a bladder infection because you never have it checked. And if you don’t feel the bladder infection you are really screwed because it turns into a kidney infection and lucky me I actually feel that crap. That hurts.

Since the infection travels up to my kidneys I also get to produce a kidney stone. Lucky me.

I do drink cranberry juice because it is supposed to kill infections and I haven’t had an infection in a very long time.

But still tonight I am dealing with the pain of passing a stone. Oh joy (sarcasm).

As you can tell my mood is improving by the day. I have watched almost all of the movies I own and most of the ones my parents’ own. I have watched so many movies I cannot tell you which ones I have watched. Today alone I watched: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Friends, Twister, American Pickers, Harry Potter 8, and X-Men: First Class.  That was just today.

I’m bored and to be honest, lonely. I mean I spent all day yesterday on the couch with my mom but I was still lonely. I have left the house once a day for the past 4 days. I’m going stir crazy and I’m not taking it well. Add to the that the pain that has me up most of the night and I’m not sure I even want to hang out with me.

I went to a conference in Pasadena at HROCK when I was there a few months ago. And at this conference one of the main speakers talked about the idea that when you find yourself in a difficult time you should look to God and ask him what you are supposed to be learning from this.

They say that pastors encounter the most difficulty so that they can be present with the people in their midst. I’m sure that this kidney stone is just teaching me to be more compassionate towards others who are suffering. But guess what the other stones, the past surgeries and injuries have all taught me to have a compassionate side. So what the heck is this stone trying to teach me?

Is it’s sole purpose to make me stronger? I’m already pretty strong. I really don’t know what this time around is supposed to teach me. I’m just ready for it to be over. I’m ready to stop alienating the people I love. I’m ready to be smart again and get off these pills that make me act stupid.

I’m ready to be done with this battle. I’m ready to get back to being me. I’m ready. But my body is not agreeing with me.

My body is still in pain. I’m tired of becoming stronger. I’m ready to be whole.

I agree with Kelly Clarkson that what doesn’t kill me will make me stronger but the journey to becoming stronger really sucks.

Am I strong enough yet?

Grieving the Unrealized Future

My grandmother died 3 weeks ago. It’s so hard to believe that three weeks ago I was standing in a parking lot hearing my mom say that grandma had died. It was so unreal. Hours before my father was telling me that grandma might have days. He said hours but I really just dismissed that. I figured he would have enough time to get to her but he didn’t. I think he really regrets that but really he didn’t have enough time. Travel just doesn’t work like that. She was gone in hours.

I still miss her. I find myself on facebook where her page is still active and all the sudden I am crying. Until I moved to Pasadena 5 years ago I would visit my grandmother every summer. If we do a bit of subtraction that means for 26 years I visited my grandmother for a weeks time or so. I saw her in person about 3 years ago. I wish I had been able to continue to visit her every summer but it wasn’t possible. Money got tight and school got in the way. They seem like ridiculous excuses now that she isn’t here. I wish that I had seen her every year like before.

Regrets really aren’t worth any thing. They help me confront the reality but beyond that they just suck. So I try to be done with them. So if I move from regrets I move to sadness over activities that will never happen. I get sad over the future.

My kids (I don’t have any but I am holding on to the dream that someday I will) will never know a great grandma. I didn’t know my parents grandparents as a kid either but I really wish that my kids would have gotten to meet Arleen Summers and Shirley Boyce and even Vi Waggoner. I have no grandmothers left. My grandma Shirley has Alzheimer’s and after visiting with her I know she’s not really there. We visited her twice. One day she was completely gone and the other she was kinda sorta there. I don’t know which was harder: seeing a glimmer of who she was or the shell of the person I love. My kids won’t know her and they definitely won’t know my Grandma Summers or Vi. I wish that was still an option. I wish my future kids would have gotten to know the strongest women I have every known.

I’m pretty strong. I have survived horrible acts and I live on to help others survive their horrible acts. But I don’t think I’m a fraction of how strong these women were. Arleen raised two sons after her husband left her for another woman. She had no education and yet she provided for them. She was a strong arm with little time for compassion, she did become compassionate in her later years (after all I only saw glimpses of the strong arm and saw more often the funny loving woman that was my grandmother). Arleen looked at her circumstances and got moving. She didn’t let her circumstances ruin her.

Shirley raised 7 kids after her husband died in a plane crash. 7 kids can you believe it? She did it all on her own. She was a history teacher and the love story of how she met the grandfather I never met is truly something for the story books. She was an incredible woman who loved word puzzles and fun facts. As a granddaughter I never really appreciated her thirst for knowledge until it was gone. She used to bore us with facts every where we went. We would call them Grandma Shirley minutes and groan because they always lasted more than a few mere minutes. Although as we drove through Colorado a few weeks ago I was remembering how she would go on and on about the different rock that was there and the different settlements that had come through. I still remember some of what she said. She also had this love of birds that she unfortunately passed to my mother. My mom will sit outside and ask what kind of bird that is and I just give her a look that clearly says, “I have no idea.” But grandma and mom used to sit on the back porch and when one would ask the bird question the other would have an answer or together they would look it up.

My fondest memories of grandma Shirley and I are the memories of sleeping at her house and having coffee with her in the morning. She would have it black and I would add about 2 cups of sugar and lots of milk and we would talk. She would ask me questions and I would ask her questions and she would offer me breakfast and wouldn’t stop until I ate something. She also passed this annoying habit to all of her children. I can’t step through the door of any of their houses before I’ve been offered everything in the cupboards and the refrigerator. It’s fine if you’re hungry but if you’re not it’s just annoying.

I even have fond memories of Grandma Vi. The short story of Grandma Vi is that she is the other woman that my grandfather left my grandmother for. I didn’t know the full story until after I had formed an attachment to my grandma Vi. I don’t like what they did to Grandma Summers but I had an attachment to Grandma Vi and I miss her too. She and grandpa rarely visited but when they did I always had fun with her. She always dotted on me, I’m not sure why but I loved her for it. My mother has always been a saver, probably because we have never had lots of money. So when we went shopping she used to put everything on lay-away (buy it now but don’t take it home until you have fully paid for it). I find it funny that not everyone knows what lay-away is but anyway. I would try on a dress or want a toy and mom would buy it/put it on lay-away and months later it was like a surprise present. So when grandma Vi would visit we would go to a department store and she would say that she wanted to buy me one dress. I would say okay and then I would start looking at price tags and ask for the limit. This one time she bought me a $100 dress. I couldn’t believe it. It was white with polka dots and I think it had a pink sash. It was more than any dress I had in my closet and I loved it. I tried on the dress and when I showed her she could see the joy on my face even though I was trying to hide it. I knew that we couldn’t afford something like that but she said to let her worry about the money and that I was getting the dress. I loved that shopping trip and it is one of my fondest memories of Grandma Vi.

Grandma Vi died my first year at Fuller and Grandma Summers died my last year at Fuller. They bookended my schooling. I wish they hadn’t. Grandma Vi died of Breast Cancer and Grandma Summers died of kidney cancer. And Grandma Shirley has Alzheimer’s.

They’ll never see me get married. Since I was a kid I have dreamed of my wedding day (it’s a girl thing). I knew that I would get married in my dad’s church, by my dad if he could do it (and now I have lot’s of ordained friends that could step in if he couldn’t) and that my grandparents would be there to see it happen and we would all celebrate it together. I have one grandparent left and we’re not that close. My dream is dashed. Now there will be flowers in their place. It’s really sad and I’m not even engaged. I can’t imagine how it will be on that day.

It’s probably really silly to grieve an unrealized future but I am. I’m also grieving that I can’t call my grandma and talk to her. I’m grieving that if I were to call Grandma Shirley, if she could talk in coherent sentences today, she wouldn’t know who I am and soon it would come out because she would guess that I have kids or pets or something like that.

Grieving can be a really pain in the rear. Just when I thought I was good to go I got sucker punched by grief.

Grieving the unrealized future is kind of like grieving regrets: it’s not worth much and it just makes me more upset.

Today I’m knitting and watching movies because one grandma was always crafty and the other had a killer movie collection.

I miss my grandmas.

The top photo is Grandma Shirley and the bottom is Grandma Summers. ImageImage

Wedding Dream

I just woke up from one of the most amazing wedding dreams I have ever had. Now, I know it probably means nothing but it was so awesome and put me in a good mood right away that I knew I had to share it.

I was at a mansion of sorts or something like it with lots of rooms and a gigantic kitchen, a few bedrooms and a big reception like room where I was getting ready that also had a giant bathroom where I was going to take a bath.

In the big reception like room were all my friends and family (well the girl ones and the ones that weren’t in the wedding party). They were all writing on cards when I walked into the room. Apparently my big send off was going to happen while I was getting ready for my big day. My dress was off to the side, I couldn’t see it fully but I know it was goregous.

Before I walked into this reception like room I was in the kitchen and before I was in the kitchen I was in the bedroom. So let’s start in the bedroom.

I was sleeping and my sisters and mom and wedding party came to wake me up and told me it was time to get ready. Then the male half of the wedding party came in minus the groom and told me it was time to start getting ready. So we all went down to the kitchen.

In the kitchen there were his parents, his wedding party minus the groom and my dad as well as my mom and sisters and my wedding party. We were all getting ready to eat something and the men were having ice cream that came out of the freezer on the door of the refrigerator. It was chocolate ice cream.

I wasn’t eating anything but I was drinking water.

I pulled my mom to the side and said, “Oh no, I don’t have shoes to go with my dress.” My mom suggested I could used the shoes I had on. I looked down and I was wearing mary jane pumps but they were this weird marble cream color. I agreed but said it would be a last resort. My mother said not to worry about it. I looked at her like she was weird but decided to let it go.

Pretty soon the conversation in the room turned to all the things that had to get done before the wedding. The male wedding party plus my dad was going to out to do something and my mom had left pretty soon after and my sisters and wedding party came over to me and told me to get into the bath and relax and when they got back it would be time to get ready. They said when I got out to put on an button up shirt and just hang out until they got back.

So I went into the reception/get ready room and there were all these friends of mine filling out these cards. I told them to get out because I was going to take a bath but that they could come back when the wedding party got back. I walked right over to my mom and asked her if I was being too bossy and she said no, that I just sounded happy.

Then she gave me the shoes to go with my dress. They were thigh high boots with a small heel and they were white and pink tweed. They were awesome!

And that’s when I woke up 🙂

I don’t know what it means, if it means anything. I just know that it was a good way to wake up this morning.

Cornering A Cat

*the Science or psychology behind what I am saying came from Terry and Sharon Hargrave. I just adapted it to my situation.

Last night I had an argument, an argument over nothing and my reaction caught me by surprise. I haven’t felt this angry over nothing in a long time. It reminded me that heated arguments are rarely about the actual thing you are arguing over. Most of the time they are over the way the person felt, or how the other person’s actions made the person feel.

For instance, in this particular argument I felt like a cornered cat. There was no option for me other than to agree with the person. There was no where to go but to agreement and I was not ready for that yet. The other person even pointed out that I was overreacting to the situation.

So what about the argument was different or what made it more heated for me. I felt cornered. I felt like a kid getting a spanking for a dumb reason. When I feel cornered I protect myself and lash out, which is exactly what I did.

Each of us have our own reactions to be cornered. Some people will just agree so they can get out of the corner and other’s like me will lash out.

Like I said the argument was a silly one. One that over the time of about a half hour I was able to get over. My reaction was what surprised me. So I thought over the conversation. The person I was arguing with never said that I was dumb, yet I felt it. The person never said that was being a child, but I felt like one. The person never gave me a choice. The person did say I could run an experiment but it was said in a way that makes the other person (me) feel like a child. Had the person, or myself, stopped the conversation for a moment, googled the information and then shown me the webpage that proved that they were right things might have gone differently.

I may not have gotten so heated. But I was tired and when I am tired I kind of forget all the things I have learned and go straight to angry.

Terry and Sharon Hargrave taught that instead of going straight to the reaction we should try to first go for the feeling. When so and so did this I felt….

When so and so stated the information in what felt like a condescending way I felt small.

When so and so continued to argue their point without back up I felt angry.

When so and so would not give up I felt cornered.

Once you do three feelings then you are supposed to talk about your reaction.

When so and so would not give up I felt cornered and lashed out with words of anger.

I even had some cooling down and came back for round two. (I now know that I needed a longer cool down time.)

I came back with a reasoned argument but ended with the lashing out again in a semi-sarcastic manner.
What I should have done is come back with an explanation of what I heard (because sometimes what we hear is not what was said) and then explained how each statement made me feel.

The Hargraves also reasoned that you could use this system to find out how your argument partner (or spouse) fights or reacts to fights and how to best approach them to finish the argument in a way that has neither partner reaching for their flight or fight response. They cautioned that you were not to use the system as a way to manipulate your partner but instead to better understand them and yourself.

So my argument last night was not about the argument itself but instead about how the argument made me feel. I have a feeling that being away from my California therapist and California friends will teach me how to use all the different skills I have learned in a new way. I will get chances to put everything I have learned into use because no one here has taken the classes I have taken and no one here has been to all the seminars I have been to.

This might be a hard year because I might have to stop myself and figure out what is going on before lashing out and protecting myself.

Ahh new lessons, why do they have to be so hard?

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