Friday, July 3, 2015

Where do the days go?

Business is booming - 
which is the proverbial good news and bad news - 
for us and for the children we serve.

Our designated exam room is almost finished 
except for wall art -
for which there is, 
of course,
NO budget.

Not a problem.
I have people.
We're having this blown up poster size
for our biggest wall

and then we're having smaller depictions
of foster families
along the other wall.









Just realized I don't have an interracial, heterosexual couple ...
I'll get right on that.

There ya go ...
now we're all set!

We're glad they're coming!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Moving toward the light

It's been a good week 
to be liberal.

ALL people in this country are finally 
free to love whoever they love
and have the same odds 
of being happy or miserable
in the state of marriage
as anyone else -
no matter what state they live in.
~~~~~~~~~~
Millions of people can stop worrying about whether their healthcare
will be terminated or disrupted


as they struggle with chronic illness
or new diagnoses
that demand all of their emotional resources.
~~~~~~~~~~
This guy might actually start to learn
in the only way he apparently can
- his wallet -
that there are consequences to words
and when you call an entire people
thugs, rapists and criminals
some of them may not want to watch your spectacle of
 parading and objectifying
women from around the world.

(Now if only they had arrived at that decision
because the whole concept of pageants
in this day and age is wrong,
that would have been even better!)
~~~~~~~~~~
And this despicable object
may finally be on its way
of being removed and banned from public spaces.

I could never understand how a symbol of
the largest movement of treason against our country
was perpetuated and even glorified
150 years after the fact.

It, along with all Confederate statues and memorials,
belong in a museum -
in the Losers wing.
~~~~~~~~~~
Think what we could do if we truly worked together;
Hope springs eternal.
~~~~~~~~~~
ps. among items still sitting on my Wish List
is the removal
of all appropriation
of Native American imagery
as mascots
or fashion accessories


and
the destruction of Mount Rushmore
(or as people on the reservation refer to them, "The Faces")
with the return of the Black Hills to the Lakota people.

This monument to the Oppressors
is built on land that was considered sacred to Native Americans
and is central to their Creation stories;
 the land was promised to them in perpetuity by the Treaty of 1868
(which was broken less than a decade later when gold was discovered);
and each one of these men had terrible relationships
with the indigenous population
and were responsible for implementing and advancing
a governmental policy of ethnic genocide.

From L to R
in 1779
George Washington instructed Major General John Sullivan
"to lay waste to all Indian settlements, 
that the country may not be merely overrun but destroyed"
and in the inevitable skirmishes that would result from that policy
 "not to listen to any overture of peace before the total ruin of their settlements was effected".

Washington became known as the "Destroyer of Villages"
because of his genocidal extermination practices,
including sanctioning the practice of the troops following battles with the Iroquois
of making a kind of legging or footwear
by skinning the corpses of the fallen foes from the hips down.

While Thomas Jefferson initially supported a policy of assimilation,
it quickly turned to one of annihilation,
aimed primarily at the Cherokees and the Creek.
He said all Natives should be driven beyond the Mississippi or "take up the hatchet 
and never lay it down until they are all exterminated."

Theodore Roosevelt, shortly after being elected governor of New York, announced
"This continent had to be won. 
We need not waste our time
dealing with any sentimentalist who believes that it would have been right 
to leave this continent as a hunting ground for squalid savages, 
It had to be taken by the white race."

He further justified the taking of Native lands,
 expansion into their territories
and the wars of extermination by saying it was "as ultimately beneficial as it was inevitable. 
I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indian is a dead Indian, 
but I believe nine out of ten are 
and I shouldn't like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth"
and last, but not least,

Abraham Lincoln,
who, while a champion of those held in slavery,
is responsible for ordering
the largest mass hanging in US history -
the Dakota 38;
holy men and leaders of the Plains tribes
who history has held
are largely innocent of the crimes for which they were executed.

Their faces, glorified and maintained as a National Park, is a travesty;
akin to having Hitlers face carved onto Mount Sinai
How well do you think that would go over with the Jewish state?
~~~~~~~~~~
That's the trouble with being a liberal, isn't it?
There's never an end to injustice,
there are always more wrongs to right;
frankly it's exhausting.

I know conservatives probably feel that they got run over by a truck this week
but they have no idea how hard it is to be us
on a continuing basis!



Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I wrote a sentence down years ago;
with no attribution
or explanation.

"He loves us too much to allow a life without heartache,
the kind that leans hard 
toward forgetting who He is".

I found it yesterday -
and still love the truth of it.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Plunder

I suspect that at any other time, 
I would have walked right past it;
but I'm reading a book 
about spiritual practices 
that heighten mindfulness,
(An Altar in the World: 
A Geography of Faith 
by Barbara Brown Taylor).
so I was 'paying attention' -
even in the parking lot at Target.

It was right next to my car when I parked -
the discarded packaging for a toy -
and immediately the word
 'plunder
came to mind.
I imagined some child, 
so intent on finally getting what he thought he desperately wanted 
that he was oblivious to,
and simply didn't care about,
 the destruction he was causing around him.

I wish I could say that with Pope Francis's recent encyclical, 
exhorting us to examine all the ways 
in which we're destroying the planet we all inhabit,
my mind was immediately filled with thoughts and self righteous judgments
of global corporations and self absorbed billionaires,
looting and pillaging the environment,
but that would be a lie.

My mind, and heart, instinctively took a more personal turn.

I was forced to acknowledge 
that I know, firsthand,
about plundering.
~~~~~~~~~~
It's been 30 years;
yet the truth is 
there is rarely a day when he doesn't cross my mind. 

We loved each other - 
and yearned for a different kind of relationship  - 
with a yearning that was both an intoxicating aphrodisiac
and an all consuming addiction
we couldn't  -
wouldn't -
give up.
Because that's how addictions work.

It had all seemed so complicated -
when it actually was the oldest kind of
simple -
he wasn't free to make a commitment 
to me
because he'd already made one 
to someone else.

And, for a long time, 
I didn't care.

I wanted what I wanted 
and would have willingly 
inflicted lasting damage 
to any number of people 
to get what I thought
I desperately wanted.

I have to admit,
this whole situation taught me 
one of the most valuable lessons I've ever learned:

"NO" 
is an answer 
to some prayers.

And thank God for the reality of that.

For some reason,
yesterday,
I needed to be reminded
of the very different trajectory
my life might have taken
hadbeen the one in control.

Reminders of important life lessons
don't always come in the forms you expect they would.

And they're fleeting ...
you can miss them
if you aren't paying attention.











Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Mather's Day!

For all those brave single mamas 
doing the work of both parents!

Whether you're parenting singly 
by choice
or by circumstance,
thank you for standing strong 
in the face of societal censure,
 both subtle and overt;
for refusing to accept the perception 
that you and your children are 'less than' other families 
because you don't look like 
a 'typical' American family;
for your humor in the face of obstacles
and for your enduring devotion to your children.

Know you're not alone!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

"Why do you go away?

So that you can come back. 

So that you can see the place you came from 
with new eyes and extra colors. 
And the people there see you differently, too. 
Coming back to where you started 
is not the same as never leaving." 
Terry Pratchett
Though sometimes, 
our journeys and those differences are not very clear.
~~~~~~~~~~
I drove over 4,000 miles in one week.
I'm tired.

I came back to a dog who contracted 
hemorrhagic gastroenteritis 
while in the kennel -
and, almost a week later, 
is still vomiting blood 
(and other mucousy fluids you can imagine 
but don't want to see) 
and getting IV fluids.

I'm praying my other dog doesn't get it as well;
it's viral, 
so there's no telling.

I came back to work
where little has changed;
in fact,
there'll be another move next week,
so nothing is settled there either.

Much of the peace and serenity I found on the Plains
seems to have been left there.

This is the part where I confess
I wish I had been left there too.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Speed demon

No, this isn't a post about being pulled over again by police 
for driving too fast;
although I have been because I do.

I'm talking about the time it takes for me 
to see something 
and make a judgment about it.

It's about a heartbeat long;
literally the blink of an eye.

And, from conversations with the other participants on Mission,
I know I'm not alone.

Misery does NOT love company.

I wish the 'mean girl' from junior high,
the one who lives inside of me; 
the one always ready to judge others,
 to make fun of someone else,
yeah,
that girl;
I wish she'd grow up 
and be more like the Christian she likes to believe she is.


I see houses
and make judgments about the people living there;
rating their work ethic,
their sense of personal responsibility,
their education level,
and their 'worthiness' of being helped.
I don't have to have conversations with them;
I don't have to see them as 'real people';
I know 'them'; 
I know 'their kind'.

And, most importantly, 
I know they're not like me.

The only problem is,
then you come on Mission trip
and see a house where a single mom lived;
a house she'd inherited from her grandfather;
the house in which she was raised
when she was taken away from her parents
due to their substance abuse;
the house where she'd planned to raise children
with her husband.

 The house where,
while her children slept,
she dreamed of an easier and better life for them
than the one she'd had.

Until alcohol and drugs changed the man she married;
until he became abusive to her and their children;
until she kicked him out to save them all.

As anyone could have predicted,
he didn't like that.
He came back;
breaking out every window,
dowsing all their possessions in a toxic brew of kerosene and urine
threatening to kill her.
~~~~~~~~~~
He's in jail now.
Their children have been placed in 'the system'
because she couldn't provide a stable home.

She's starting all over.
She's 3 credits shy of graduating from the University.
She has great potential;
she's determined to make it.

She's scared.
And,
even if her story is not MY story;
even if her issues were not my issues,
I remember being a single mom.
I remember starting over.
I remember being scared.
~~~~~~~~~~
The man who brought us to the house today
wasn't asking for donations for her,
although he wouldn't have turned them down.

It's just that he's watched her grow up;
he believes in her
and what she can become.

He brought us there to remind us
that every house we see on the reservation
tells a story;
a story of broken relationships,
of pain
and of hopelessness.
A story of people who are prisoners of circumstance
and so overwhelmed that,
at this point in their lives,
they can't do it without help from others.

It took about the length of a heartbeat for me to realize
that makes them exactly like me.
~~~~~~~~~~

He thanked us 
and reminded us 
that our being here is changing their stories.

Little did he know, 
it's changing ours too.

And, for some of us,
it happened in the blink of an eye.





Sunday, June 7, 2015

Don't look for me here ...
I've taken the highway to heaven.
find me this week here

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I'm not gonna lie;

it's hard.

Not the "OMG, did I just 'clear' some kid to go home
 and get raped again or killed" hard
that I had in the ER;
just the "banging your head against a brick wall,
loosening a brick or two -
only to find they've reinforced it overnight 
plus added a few more layers"  hard
of dealing with systems 
that actively - and passively - 
resist all change.

The daily grind of having too much to do;
the majority of which is outside 
both my control AND my comfort zone
and is someones else's job to boot.

Not listening daily to multiple stories of sexual abuse
but seeing those same kids, 
removed from their families for their own safety 
but feeling rejected and struggling
 in home after home, 
desperate to belong;
desperate to know someone loves them.

There are all kinds of hard.

There are all kinds of ways of being broken open 
by being witness to children's pain.

I've simply found a new way
and I'm not gonna lie;
it's hard.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Dear TLC,

I know you're 'The Learning Channel" so I have to ask, 
what exactly are we supposed to be learning?

That if you're white, female, poor and talk funny,
make "an error in judgment"
 and start dating and sleeping again 
with the man convicted
of sexually abusing your daughters,
you'll be fired from your 'reality' show immediately;

("reality" being a misnomer, of course,
 if there ever was one, 
for what your shows depict)

but 
if you're male, white, rich and talk funny about God,
make "an error in judgement"
and sexually assault your sisters and their friends 
while they sleep,
you'll get an entire corporate/religious/political machine 
to not only initially cover up the incidents  -
but defend you
when the allegations finally come out
years later?
~~~~~~~~~~
I know you've read or heard the details by now ...
the eldest boy
in the Stepford Christian Children of Arkansas cult
has admitted to forcibly fondling 
the breasts and genitals 
of his sisters and other unnamed females.

Let's just be clear before going any further - 
this was NOT the age appropriate curiosity of a 5 yr old
nor consensual 'playing doctor';
this was repeated, unwanted felony molestation.

And what did his parents do when informed about these crimes?
They prayed
- for 2 frikkin years!

They sent him to work in a friends construction business
for a few weeks
before bringing him right back into the home
with his victims;
they talked to a church member;
they had him 'counseled' (one and done)
by a State Trooper
 (who BTW turns out to also be a pedophile -
now convicted of distributing child pornography).

They made a conscious decision to protect the offender
rather than protect his victims.

Even worse -
they managed to convince the victims
they had a role in his behavior;
letting them know that had they dressed more 'modestly' 
and not forced the eldest male child to help in childcare,
changing the diapers of younger siblings, 
he never would have been tempted!

They refused to understand that changing diapers
and sleeping prepubescent females
are NOT turn ons for males
with appropriate boundaries and inclinations.
~~~~~~~~~~
The layers of denial within this family, 
their willful refusal to deal with 'reality'  -
despite having a 'reality' show -
and the genuinely unloving, unchristian way
of dealing with the victims
is mind-boggling
to me.
~~~~~~~~~~
Now for the part where I have to make a disclaimer:
I've watched the show.

More than that,
I've taped the show
so I can watch it in the evenings
when there's nothing else on.
(Go ahead, judge me)

I've fed the machine that keeps the cult running.

I know the cast of characters.
I've been fascinated with how these folks can live
such isolated, privileged, bizarre lives
and still get passed off as 'normal' people.

I've been fascinated with how their understanding
and belief in, ostensibly,
the same God I believe in,
can lead them to such different conclusions
about how He wants us to act and live.

Their lives are so different from any within my experience and comprehension,
its been akin to watching aliens.

Now I know there's nothing alien about them;
it's all too familiar.

The funny thing is,
I still want to know more.

I want more details ...
not about the sexual abuse itself;
those acts are as old as mankind
and as common as dust.

I want my suspicions confirmed that the 'whistle blower',
the 61 year old female who alerted producers at Harpo studios
prior to an interview with Oprah
which triggered the initial investigation
was none other than Grandma Duggar herself.
I need to believe that at least someone in that household
was trying to protect the children.
~~~~~~~~~~
And
I want a panel of sexual abuse experts and child advocates
to air in the time slot
held by the Duggars -
to actually teach the public
about the underlying etiology of abuse,
the signs and symptoms to look for,
the appropriate responses to make
when people find the strength to make disclosures,
and what the legal obligations are
for reporting and cooperating
with State social services and law enforcement.

Now THAT would be a contribution
'The Learning Channel" could make!

Of course,  I doubt there's much money to be made in a reality show like that -

and, if TLC has taught us anything,
it's  - follow the money!

Just wait for them to return the show -
due to the throngs of powerful evangelicals
clamoring about 'forgiveness', repentance
and having this experience bring the family closer to God.

I'll wager my next paycheck,
their final decision will be less about 'life lessons'
and more about the bottom line for them

But, honestly,
didn't we already know that?

I guess TLC has taught us something after all.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

it's not about shopping, 
BBQs 
or 
going to the lake.
I'll be honest;
it used to be...
before I had a son serving on active duty
in the military.

Now, I can't spend Memorial Day
without going to 
Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery;
and I never cease to be moved.

Simply too many have been lost.




As sad and overwhelmed as I feel
in coming here sometimes,

I love that in this place
difference of
rank,
privilege,
politics,
race,
income,
religion,
and
circumstance
are erased.
We're reduced to the reality of a birth and a death.

I wonder about 'the gap' in between
those two events.

The
love,
disappointment,
pain,
joy,
work,
play
and
reflection
it contained.
I contemplate my own 'gap'
and I wonder if it's 'enough' -
without even being able to answer
 'enough' for what?

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.



And whether this world knows us 
and remembers us
or not
I believe we are known, 
named 
and claimed
by the One who created us all.

We are ALL his Beloved children.

and, 
while it might be our resting place,
 this earth is not our home.