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Twisters

April 30th, 2014 1 comment

Growing up in Texas, we had tornado drills just as often as fire drills. If I remember right, it was three short bursts of the bell and we lined up, went into the hallway, and ducked against the walls covering our heads.

Being one of the tallest kids in class, I mostly remember it being a pain in the butt trying to crouch down as tight and low as my classmates. I don’t think it ever really set in with me the importance of those drills either… Because we had gotten lucky for years. My little hometown missing the bullet.

I remember many nervous nights at home, though, listening to the wind howl, watching the weather, lighting hurricane lamps. Even then, we we’re lucky. Time and time again, the tornados missing us.

Fall 1996, our first football game of the year, storms billowed and churned. We warmed up in the band hall, when someone broke in and told us to take cover. We huddled up again the only brick wall in that building. I remember holding hands and praying with my friends for safety and protection from the danger. I remember how eerie it was hours later, after the game was postponed and we all went home safe, that the skies parted and we ended up with the most brilliant sunset. We once again got lucky.

No one knew, though, that about 8 months later another small town would not fare so well. May 1997, 20 tornados touched down within less than two hours of my home. One was an EF-5 tornado that hit the town of Jarrell, Texas, killing 27 people — 11 of which were teens like me… 6 of those had been on the football team. I remember crying for the loss of those lives. It hit so very close to home.

There is no asking, “Why?” There is only, “How can I help?”

When I moved to Nashville, it seemed “tornado alley” followed me. April 2009, the “Good Friday tornado outbreak” occurred. My husband and I were in Texas for Easter, and we watched online as a large EF-4 tornado swept across Middle Tennessee… Only a few miles from our home. Once again, tears were shed, especially for the mother and her 9-week-old who were killed.

Moore, OK. Joplin, MO. The April 25-28, 2011 outbreak. This week I happened to be watching tv as Tupelo, MS took a direct hit. The footage out of Arkansas was staggering.

Every time tornado warnings come I wonder if this is the time I won’t be so lucky. Is this the time we will be facing starting over… assuming we get through it.

And yet, outside of trusting I know what to do — seek shelter, protect myself the best I can, pray — there is nothing I can do about it. I can’t stop the tornados. I can’t avoid them entirely. What will be, will be. And should that day come that “my luck runs out” I pray I have the strength to do what has to be done and the faith to keep going forward.

My prayers are with all the victims of these latest storms as well as those still living with the scars of past tragedies.

CNN has compiled a great list of ways we can all help victims of these massive storms.

Some thoughts on shutdown

October 8th, 2013 2 comments

I don’t talk politics much. It’s a deeply personal subject for most people, but within that very few are fully versed on political topics. I’ll readily admit, I don’t know all the details of every political move made. I only know three things for sure:

1 – I don’t consider myself Republican nor Democrat. I vote based on the individual and their stance, not based on their political party.

2 – I consider myself a conservative. But I’m probably one of the most liberal conservatives you’ll find in that I acknowledge others have different beliefs/wants/needs than I do, and I respect that. I only ask others respect my feelings in return.

3 – I think a multiparty system is crucial. You may be staunchly one party or the other, but you gotta admit you need a check-and-balance brought from the other side.

All that being said, I’ve always felt very thankful to live in a democratic country. “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” (Abraham Lincoln) However, as the American public has asked for more laws on one topic or another be made, I’ve slowly felt like our democratic society has started to fade a little. And that fact has scared me.

And I sit here today a solid mix of scared and angry, as our lawmakers refuse to find a compromise on budgets, health care, and who knows what all else (because lets face it, every law passed these days has half a dozen non-associated things attached), leaving our country at a standstill in so many ways. I’m scared of the repercussions of this — things we may not find out about for days, months or even years down the road. I am angry that the country has become so divided. I sometimes wonder if this is how people felt in the time of the civil war, as friends and family sit on opposite sides of the issues. One person is screaming the Republicans are evil. The next screaming the President has become a dictator. And while we bicker amongst each other over what “they” are doing, those in office are treating this whole shutdown like its some sort of game to win. Treating one another like parents with a child throwing a tantrum.

Meanwhile its the American public — the ones who put our politicians into place and who are the ones that our politicians are supposed to be working FOR — that suffers. Families are left wondering how they are going to put food on the table, as government employees are put on furlough. (Meanwhile, Congress still gets paid.)  Others who have saved and dreamed of a vacation to a national park or monument find those dreams and that money go to waste as they are told, “No.” by federal security people. (Except for those who give a proverbial middle finger to barricades. These guys are my heros.) Even worse, those kicked out of their homes because they sit on federal land. Still others, who are in clinical trials are left without medicine. Don’t even get me started on our military not getting to celebrate mass nor having death benefits during the shut down.

The only “positive” spin I could possibly put on this is that at least now we realize how much we rely on our government. And that realization is more than a little bit scary. But perhaps its time we rely on our government less and more on each other.  The Bloggess wrote an amazing blog on this point last week. Perhaps we’ve come to expect too much of “those guys & gals in office” who often seem to be more worried about how they look to fellow politicians and less about how they look to “the people.” They forget its “the people” who gave them their jobs. It’s “the people” being used as a pawn in this game. It’s “the people” who are suffering.

I wish this could be like in the movies, and some one up in office would sit down and read the news and then the constitution and suddenly be inspired to swoop in and fix everything. But this isn’t Hollywood.  I’m not Sandra Bullock and you’re not George Clooney. (Unless you really are, and if you are — hey thanks for reading!) This is America, and there are no special effects nor a script to read.

So what do we do? We help each other. And we think long and hard about who we put in office next. We pray for this shutdown to end soon.

I’ve read more news articles and editorials for and against both sides than I can fully digest. At the end of them all, I can only surmise what I already felt: they’re all wrong. (And I don’t want to hear either side defended in comments, because dammit in the end they are supposed to be leaders… and leaders bring people together not rip them apart.)

I don’t want to hear neither President Obama nor House Speaker John Boehner point fingers any more. I’m tired of hearing, “I’ll negotiate, but only if…” from both sides. I want to scream/cry/beg them all to grow up and work together. Stop being like a bunch of eight-year-olds bickering over who gets the ball first in a big game of HORSE. Because that ball is the lives of Americans, and we’re all getting scared and angry as a whole.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

A sad irony, or something like that

February 18th, 2013 1 comment

I sit here right now deep in thought about two losses to this world last night.

Last night, news came out that country singer Mindy McCready took her own life, leaving behind two little boys. I posted on Twitter that I was sadly not too surprised, knowing she was a very troubled soul. Now, don’t take my lack of surprise as a lack of compassion! My heart goes out to her family and close friends left wondering why. Left wondering if there something more they could have done. I’m standing among the many going, “This is not an answer! There was still so much to live for… whether you can see it in that moment or not!”

Less than two hours after news broke of McCready’s death, my brother texted to let me know a friend had lost her husband. She and my sister-in-law are close friends, and we’ve spent many holidays and get-togethers with their family joining us.

Her husband had been sick for a long time, and I won’t pretend to know all he/they have gone through the last few years. But fighting is something I know he did every day… for himself, his wife and his kids. I can’t… I absolutely CAN’T… comprehend what his family is going through, and my heart aches for them. I pray for strength for them.

So here I sit, thinking about these two people taken from this world last night, and I see this cruel, cruel irony. As one gave up their life purposely, and the other had spent so much time fighting to live. Both leaving behind small children.

I guess, no matter what, my hope is they both are at peace, and that they families can pull together and support each other, love each other, and know that there are many, many others thinking of them and praying for them.

Senseless

December 14th, 2012 3 comments

I had originally planned to blog today about a Christmas tradition. Instead, I open my blog with a heavy, heavy heart.

Tonight, the families of 20 children and six seven adults are left asking, “Why?” as they go home realizing they’ll never have their loved one to hug and to hold ever again. The family of the gunman are also left asking, “Why?” as he, too, died in today’s shooting without giving a reason for his senseless, heartless act.

Honestly, though, this entire country is left asking, “Why?” These were CHILDREN. Innocent children. These adults were there to teach and care for those children. All of them looking forward to their holiday break. Visits from Santa and family. Gifts have been wrapped and placed under the tree, with excitement mounting every day. And now…

My heart absolutely aches thinking about these families. These innocent victims. These children who’ve had their innocence shattered by the acts of a “man” with an agenda… whatever that agenda might have been.

I am trying to find hope in this… hope being that maybe this will bring us together to support the families left feeling shattered. This country has been so splintered after the election. Splintered over “fiscal cliffs” and “gun control.” Splintered over he said, she said, he did, she did. And I pray — I PRAY — the left and right don’t turn this tragedy into some sort of footnote in a political battle.

We need to come TOGETHER and ask, “Why? Why are we so focused on the symptoms without attacking the disease?” Getting help for those with mental health issues. Bringing better security to our schools. Teaching right from wrong, and the realization there are consequences of our actions. Instead of telling teachers they can’t hug and discipline their students, support those teachers who do care about their students like they are their own children.

Letting God back into our schools (for the love of all things, why are believers the ones constantly being punished!? Freedom OF religion not FROM it!! I want to scream this at the tops of the mountains!)… letting his loving arms wrap around our youth.

This is turning into a rant, and I don’t mean for it to be that. You ask yourself what could have been done to stop this, but that doesn’t really help the healing… healing that will take years… healing that will never be complete… for anyone.

honesttoddler

Heaven gained a lot of angels today… may God hold all of them, and their families left behind, close.

 

 

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Only one political post…

November 7th, 2012 1 comment

My Facebook status update got such a positive feedback today, that I felt I’d like to share it here as well… I took as long composing it as I do many of my blog posts!

Here is my one and only political post — because I just NEED to say it. Not everyone who voted for Obama did so because of his race or because they are on welfare. Not everyone who voted for Romney did so because they hate gays and don’t believe women have rights. I dreaded this election for this very reason: The hate and snark being thrown between friends over liberal vs conservative, democrat vs republican. We’re all Americans and I miss being the UNITED States in practice as well as name, and it is my prayer that God will guide us and our leaders over the next four years.

 

Open mouth, let out… judgement?

October 4th, 2012 3 comments

Bullying. It’s a HUGE topic in the news today. The government has even set up a web-site and an initiative to stop bullying in schools.

From that web-site, bullying is defined as:

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.

I actually like Wikipedia’s description a lot better, which admits bullying can happen at any age. Bullying can occur in any context in which human beings interact with each other. This includes school, church, family, the workplace, home, and neighborhoods. It is even a common push factor in migration. Bullying can exist between social groups, social classes, and even between countries.

All that aside, I feel like we’ve become very quick to define an action as “bullying.” Statements can be critical. Statements can be judgmental. But those same statements aren’t necessarily, by definition, “bullying.”

This week, a big item in the news has been about Jennifer Livingston’s segment on a Wisconsin news station addressing a man who sent her an email criticizing her weight. From that email: Surely you don’t consider yourself a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular. Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain.

Livingston chose to address that email by tying it into October being Anti-Bullying month. She encouraged young people to not let emails and comments like the ones she received bring them down. Her statement, “You don’t know me. You are not a friend of mine. You are not a part of my family, and you have admitted you don’t watch this show.  You know nothing about me but what you see on the outside.” really resonated with me.

Think before you speak

Whether or not the original email was actually a “bullying” action or just someone being critical or judgmental is up to debate. The fact remains, this man judged Livingston based on her outward appearance without knowing her personal story.

I hope my family does not mind my recounting this story (and I’ll probably get elements of it wrong, and for that I do apologize, but you’ll still get the gist of what happened.) I’ve mentioned many times in this blog that my nephew has Muscular Dystrophy. Part of his regimen of drugs and exercises and dietary restrictions to help slow the progress of his MD is that he takes steroids every day. And anyone who has ever had to take steroids for any medical reason knows, steroids will make you gain weight.

I still remember the anger that filled me when my mom told me about the night that apparently a man dared to tell my nephew he should probably lay off the french fries while at Dairy Queen, telling him it looked like he’d had plenty already. To this day I wish I could look that man in the eye and tell him what a judgmental and ignorant #@$#&* he is. To say that to ANY child in the first place makes this “man” very small, but to say it without knowing the person and their story makes it 10,000x worse.

When I heard the story of this reporter, I was reminded of that story with my nephew. Some people have medical reasons for weighing what they do. For others, it is just genetics. They can diet and exercise every single day, and they will never be a size 4. (Hey, in contrast, in high school I couldn’t get health insurance because they said I was “too thin” and clearly must be sick or something. Nope. Nor did I diet. Heck, I ate crap all the time! I just had that fast of a metabolism and couldn’t gain weight if I tried.)

For me personally, I’ve only dealt with anyone asking me if I am pregnant when I put a few pounds on… because I always carry the majority of my weight in my abdomen. Its the bane of my figure. I know this. But it still stings when someone asks, because for me it might as well be, “Hey why don’t you go do some sit-ups or something.” (Seriously, though, do I REALLY need to say its not smart to ask a woman if she’s pregnant or when she is due?)

But at the same time, when I say I am not, it is followed with, “Well when are you guys going to have kids?”

someecards.com - At least the end of the world would mean no pressure to have a baby.

This question is, for me, just downright rude. While I appreciate friends with kids telling me that having kids is the best thing they ever did, and while I know I’ll love it as well, I also appreciate people respecting that my husband and I are happy as we are and that we will have children when we are ready. And THAT decision is ours alone.

However, even more, I know too many women who are dealing with infertility to not find that question to be potentially very hurtful. I also know a lot of women who will wait to tell anyone they are pregnant, and if a miscarriage occurs — consider what kind of a knife it could be to that women’s heart if you go, “So, hey, when are you guys having kids?” if she just lost a baby?

YOU DON’T KNOW because a couple choosing to have a baby is a personal decision — not a group or community decision. Stop trying to meddle into that decision making.  (Or, if you will, stop trying to bully them into having children just to make you happy for them.)

I am not against criticism. You can learn a lot from criticism, and life will hand you countless opportunities to be criticized. Be it for a job not-so-well done, or going jeans shopping with your best friend. But criticism done out of “looking at the cover without reading the book” can easily be perceived as bullying.

As we work this month to fight bullying, can we also just fight to, “Think before you speak?”