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)

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.
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, 
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
are erased.
We're reduced to the reality of a birth and a death.

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

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, 
and claimed
by the One who created us all.

We are ALL his Beloved children.

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

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A brief recap

Here's what's been happening around here ...

this guy just graduated,
with honors,
 in Criminal Justice, 
will be starting at the Police Academy 
in Michigan
and just asked this lovely lady to marry him.
She said YES!

I can't imagine a more challenging time to begin police work
nor can I imagine a better person to be in that field 
than my great nephew.

Congratulations Colin and Katie!
This gorgeous, bright lady - 
my DIL - 
just graduated with honors from nursing school 
and has the inside track on a job at a Birthing Center
in the healthcare system 
where I've worked for over 3 decades.

Bet house hunting won't be far behind 
and then maybe a family ... ???
This goat, 
masquerading as a dog,
ate my new, less than 3 weeks old Fitbit!
Bit it in half like a damn Snickers bar;
totally destroyed it!
I'd be worried about her having some radioactive battery in her stomach
 if I weren't so angry with her.
I guess that's her revenge for me putting her on reduced calorie food.
The prayer booklet for our Mission trip got finished today!
Insert Hallelujah chorus by a heavenly host here!
Have been loving
 a vintage cocktail shaker,
repurposed as a vase;
 my new bedspread
 and old pillowslips.

 These made me laugh ...

a crocheted wedding dress -
although you can't fool me,
it's a giant Tampax!

 and a Kardashian tree!

The future holds a move to a new office,
 no more penthouse views...
and a trip back to my second 'home'

To everything
there's a season ....

Headed to the National Cemetery on Memorial Day
instead of mindless shopping for more 'stuff';
having someone you love in the military changes your priorities.

More on that later ...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

One of those days.

It happened early last week
 but the image has been seared into my brain;
and it's changed everything.

Let me back up ...

Contrary to the Attitude Adjustment Device,
I was NOT set between 'patient' and 'Light and breezy'.

I was permanently set on 'crabby', 
wondering why 'totally pissed'
wasn't even a category!

I had been in and out of offices all week,
in our building and those in other agencies,
bitching about all the things that weren't going well 
with this whole new job and clinic thing;
reminding folks
 - both in our Administration and those in state agencies - 
about the promises they'd made months ago 
which, by and large,
 they have yet to live up to.

Grumbling all over town 
about the likelihood that I'll never get
massive intractable systems 
to play nice with each other, 
even for the welfare of innocent children.

I left each office 
hearing their reasons for delay 
as self serving rationalizations;
seeing each occupant as obstacle.

While driving back to the office 
after yet one more frustrating 
non productive encounter, 
down a road I've driven to and from court for decades, 
I saw a sign that spoke 
directly to my heart.

I circled the block
to come back 
to take a picture.

A sign that seemed to ask 
What if -
just what if -
instead of perceiving everyone I'm dealing 
with in all those offices as obstacles
in this new, 
being built from the ground up 
way of being a medical home for vulnerable children 

what if
I believed
and lived out
the knowledge
 that we are ALL part of the
Beloved Community;
each with our own gifts,
our own contributions to make,
our own role to play
in the making of this new venture;

what if I was intentional about remembering 
before entering any office
that it holds a member of Gods beloved community ...

what if?
It didn't escape my notice 
that the Beloved Community is undergoing repairs;
it might have solid bones
but there's always work to be done!

We've not achieved a state of perfection -
and undoubtably won't in my lifetime.

At that moment,
and continuing on into this week,
I'm content with being one of the workers,
 up on the scaffolding,
trying to repair some of the damage.
(In my matching jacket, of course!)

The metaphor is holding;
it's helping.

The attitude adjustment barometer 
might just be shifting back toward  'Patient' - 

believe me when I tell you
 that's a HUGE paradigm shift!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Only the tip ...

I thought I had seen 
the brokenness 
of 'the system' before.

I was repeatedly witness -  
on the child protection side -
to children sent home
time after time
to abusive parents;
parents who promised
to clean up their acts -
with epic fails - 
and the ultimate re-inury
or death
of the children
they supposedly loved.

Children 'the system' put in harms way
every day.

Now -
on the foster care side - 
I realize 
I had seen
the tip
of a very large

Can someone explain to me
how removing 2 toddlers from their mothers custody
due to "residential instability"
then placing
and removing
them from 4 placements
in less than 30 days
is any better?

These aren't acting out teenagers
determined to sabotage any placement;
these are babies -
9 mos and 28 months old;
placed in an emergency residential facility
in the middle of the night;
(which may actually have been safer and better
than the car they were living in);
put in a foster home 4 days later;
removed when the foster mom
realized she had a vacation weekend planned;
placed in a respite home for 5 days,
then returned to the vacation moms home
when she came back
from her long restorative weekend away,
and removed 3 days later
to be placed with the one relative
on both sides of the family 
who passed the criminal background checks - 
only to be removed from her home
when the kids were again found
in their mothers car
with her passed out
in the front seat
 from a heroin OD.

Seems Granny thought as long as she could 'eyeball the car from the window'
that was a supervised visit!

Only trouble is
you apparently have to look out the damn window
more frequently than every 15 hours!

The cycle is now repeating itself
with an emergency residential placement,
to be followed next week
with a foster home,
to be followed after that with ...

What the hell are we doing?
What are we teaching these kids about
the world?

What road are we taking these kids down?
Don't have any answers, my friends;
but I DO have
lots of new questions.

My new job is challenging
in surprising
and unanticipated

I know that
I won't be the same for the knowing;

I won't be able to un-see
all I'm seeing now.
as always,
I'n not sure if that's
the good news
the bad news.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

It counts

It's not often that my words live in someone else's head
and my thoughts come out in their words,
but it happened.

This post from another's blog proves it!

If you’re obsessed with your Fitbit, you will know 
exactly what I am talking about. 

Since it really is a plastic, battery-powered pedometer, 
and not an omniscient being,
 there are things that don’t count. 

If you have both hands on a stroller or a grocery cart
 and you are not in a natural, arm-swinging way of living, 
your steps through the park or parking lot don’t get counted the same.

 If your arms of full of soft, warm laundry on the way to being folded, 
your steps won’t add up. 
Sometimes you even get fewer steps for running
 if your arms are up a little higher (which is total bullshit). 

Carrying a baby? Too bad. 
Doesn’t count. 

Squats, wall sits, planks, petting the dogs with your non-Fitbit hand. 
Doesn’t count. 

This morning I laughed about all of this and thought, 
doesn’t count toward what? 

 Do your legs and your heart reap the benefits 
of fresh groceries, clean towels and babies? 
Yes. God, yes. 

What else do we discount, I wondered as I showered (sans Fitbit)? 
Do acts of kindness count if no one knows about them? Yes. 

If the impact of you helping someone can’t really be measured
 in a matrix or in dollars and cents, does it count? Yes. 

Do our efforts still count if no one recognizes them? Yes. 

Yet I look at my daily Fitbit readings to judge 
how my day was every night before falling asleep. 

We’re not always moving in a form and with a flow 
that can be easily understood and measured 
by a plastic device on our wrist. 
Life isn’t like that. 

We use our whole being in other ways. 
We carry things. We squat. 
We bend and lift and fall down and get back up again, 
we go sideways and out of our way, and over the top. 
That’s hard to measure. 
Yet we look for hard and fast external clues that we’re doing okay. 
That we are measuring up. 
To something. 

I don’t have a solution for this, and I still love my Fitbit, 
but how nice would it be to believe, 
for a little bit of every single day,
 preferably that moment before bed,
 that it all counts.
 All of it. 

I would also add that my Fitbit helped me find 
one of my previously unrecognized gifts - 

I have never been less than 97% efficient ...

if only the same thing could be said 
for my waking hours!

However you spend your time - 
Make it ALL count~

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Let me be clear;

today is a hard day.

I know I'm not alone in this
and I know that's supposed to make me feel better,
the whole misery loves company thing,
but, in truth,
it doesn't.

Mothers Day.

Don't get wrong;
I love my two boys.
They are probably the best contributions I've made,
or ever will make,
 to the world
writ large.

But on this day
when every Facebook post features images,
both current and long past, 
of loving mothers and their adoring children,
accompanied by stories
of how their moms are their best friends,
I have this painful awareness that this is not,
and never will be, 
something I'll experience.

Today, that knowledge feels like loss.

I have loving memories of my mom
-a few -
and I know in my heart she tried hard 
to do the best she could.
But her way of loving me
didn't come close 
to being my way
of needing to be loved.

There was a chasmic disconnect under the surface
that was always present
yet never acknowledged.

As a kid,
I thought it was all because of me;
that there was something lacking in who I was;

something 'less than'
my 'perfect' older sister
and my 'cuter than' baby brother
which made me unloveable.

(The curse of the middle child!)

I know better now.
Thanks to the literally hundreds of women,
of all ages,
throughout my life
who have
and prayed
to wholeness
and acceptance.
(Not to mention
the literally thousands of dollars 
spent in therapy 
toward the same end!)

The truth is,
my mother was broken in ways beyond my understanding,
with a lifetime of her own needs that went unmet,
and unexplored.

She paid a high price for who and what she was;
fractured relationships with all her family
and few friends to her name.

As her own mother said of her once,
"No one is useless, 
she can always serve as a bad example."

Trust me when I tell you
Hallmark does NOT make a card
with that sentiment on it.

Nor is there one that says
"Happy Mothers Day.
I wish things could have been different".

But I do.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

You can take the girl out of the ER...

but you can't take the ER out of this girl!

I've seen too much;
I've heard too much.

My innocence is shattered.

It's absolutely impossible for me 
to see things in a benign way,
devoid of double entendre
and hidden meaning.

But even if you aren't pervy like me,
take a look at these images from children's books.


Does no thinking person proof read these things?

All my friends who ride horses have talked about 'the tingle'...
I thought it was a country version of an urban myth!

What child would think that?
Even worse, what child's 'illegal things' would involve barnyard animals?
Come on - 
that's too pervy even for me!

Don't the French know anything about placement?

Since when do lion tamers need guns?
As if clowns weren't scary enough all by themselves!

While this might be a suitable party game 
for your neighborhood 'swingers group'
it definitely doesn't belong in a kids gathering!

I think Lion has been to one too many kids parties 
with Poor Pussy!

Then George has a problem
and needs to be arrested!

Ditto for Teddy!

Again with the visuals, people!
I know exactly what Harpo's secret is...
I documented it several times every day for decades!

Unless this is from a book called 
"Urine for a big surprise",
I can't, for the life of me,
figure out why kids would need to know this - 
and, frankly, why I didn't!

IF I ever have grandchildren,
reading books at bedtime might be really tricky to get through 
if this is the caliber of what's out there!

I'm getting out Babar and Eloise
and giving them a new read tonight!