Welcome to my blog!

I started this blog to share the ups and downs of real life. The good, the bad, the happy, the sad, the mundane, the insane...you get the picture. Why??? For no other purpose than to encourage others who are raising a family, going through the ups and downs of life, letting you know you are not alone, and that we are not all epic failures for having a life that is not perfect!!!



Thursday, September 30, 2010

Unspoken Crisis

Its funny how sometimes things in our own life, and struggles we are facing from day to day are really put in perspective when you think of some of the struggles and problems others are having.

My father is in the hospital again, more dead tissue to amputate, more problems with his arteries due to the vascular disease. Still severely malnourished. He's just not doing well. I have spent alot of time with him over the last few days, and the frailty of life has really been driven home for me. He remains in good spirits though, and still made us all laugh a few times. As you can imagine, this has consumed alot of my emotions, and thoughts. Until I read the news online today.

I read of a young man, gifted and kind by all accounts, who was videotaped while engaging in a very private activity. This video was the plastered on the internet, for all of his friends, fellow students, and even family members could see. He was homosexual, and of course this story polarized everyone. You have Christians commenting on how he was distraught over his sexuality, and you have the media saying the internet was responsible. Some blaming the people who secretly videotaped him, some blaming him, and yet others still blaming his parents, for not equipping him to deal with bullies. I was appalled, disgusted, and deeply sorrowed by not only the whole incident, but the level of intolerance and lack of respect for human life that came out of all of this. To me, there is even a deeper issue that no one is speaking of.

Pheobe Prince, 15, Asher Brown, 13, Megan Meier, 13, Jesse Logan 18, Carl Walker Hoover, 11, Jeheem Herrera, 11, Eric Mohat, 17, Jon Carmichael, 13, Ryan Halligan, 13......

These are all young people, kids really, who committed suicide due to out of control bullying daily. We live in a society where if you don't have the latest electronics, nicest house, nicest newest cars, you're not good enough. If you are overweight, you're not good enough. If your gay, straight, christian, muslim, rich, poor, there is always some where, or some group of people you won't fit in with. Some of you may disagree, but that is how the world is. That in itself is bad enough, that we can't love each other, tolerate each other, and respect the sanctity of life. I have very strong religious beliefs, but I could never imagine hurting someone, physically or emotionally, just because they are different from me. As Christians especially, we are called to be loving and serving others, not picketing at parades and funerals. We should be kind, and charitable to every person, not burning Korans, or turning our backs on those in need. Our churches should be safe, warm, inviting places for everyone, instead we have Pastors judging and condemning from the pulpit. What kind of role model are these kids that are bullying others seeing? When did it become socially or morally acceptable to torture someone who is different? Why can't christians love muslims, and be tolerant, and friends with each other. Whether you agree with homosexuality or not, what happened to loving and respecting the person, for the simple reason they are alive? A life given, and created by God? Why can't rich kids befriend poor kids, and speak love and charity into their lives? Our society is creating groups, divisions of people, almost like the cast system in India. We live in an age where information is available at a keystroke, yet there is still intolerance and ignorance everywhere. Gotta have this, gotta be this, gotta wear this. It's sickening, and then we wonder why our kids are killing themselves, or others.

My middle son Nathan is very kind, very caring, and very sensitive. He's all about family, and loving people. Always finding a way to show care to others. His dreams are simple- to stay close to home, get married, and have lots of kids. (he wants 5!lol). Now, here's the other things about Nathan. He doesn't get caught up in the must have clothes, or toys. Whether you are old, young, gay, straight, cool or not, good looking or ugly, he loves you and respects you for who you are. Why can a child do this, but not adults? In reading these stories of these suicides, I though of how gentle and kind he is, and how others may want to tease him for that. I got all choked up, and immediately started looking into ways to equip all of my kids to deal with these situations. The first step is communication. My wife and I will talk with all of them to find out what is going on in their lives. The next step is our kids need advocates. Any issues at school? Call the school, and don't stop calling until the issue is resolved. Demand action. Set a clear and concise message that bullying, on any level, in any form, is NOT okay. Find out if your kids are bullying, and teach them that is an unacceptable behavior. We need to hold our teachers and administrators accountable. They need to step up and deal with bullying head on, instead of dismissing it as part of the usual teenage experience. Honest, frank discussions about bullying need to happen in school and at home, instead of just sweeping it under the rug, or ignoring it. In New York state, there are now laws against bullying. A step in the right direction, but how will they be enforced?

While I can rest assured that my kids will be fine, and I will defend them and support them to the ends of the earth, my heart grieves for these kids who don't have anyone in their lives to fill that role, or the kids won't speak up for fear of retaliation. Who will protect these kids???

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Bright New Day

Before I begin, I want to thank everyone who sent me encouraging messages and texts in response to my post yesterday. Especially my Gramma Barb, My Auntie Lisa, and a friend from way back when, dare I say high school, Melanie. Your words were all kind, encouraging, and reassuring.

So, yesterday, as you could tell if you ready my post, was a pretty awful day. It's funny how God knows us. Every part of us, even our frustrations and hurts. He responds by providing little glimpses of hope and beauty. Sends events our way to help us get over the little bumps in the road, or even better, the words of great people, speaking into our lives. Today dawned a bright new day, in many ways. First of all, the sun was shining all day, with a nice breeze. I love days like this. Its almost like the warmth of the sun touches our souls, and the breeze is like God whispering to us. I love the outdoors, and days like today remind me why. Aside from that, things went fantastic today. I said in yesterday's post that it seems none of us, (me, my wife, my kids) have been working together as a team. Today I got a glimpse of how that really works. Between Emily helping me with getting the tiles cut for the floor project, and JB helping me last night, we got the tiles in, and it looks great. I really appreciated JB's help, especially because it was unsolicited. I didn't have to ask him, he just started helping. My father in law was coming over today to drop off a ladder for me to fix the gutters, and ended up staying for over an hour. He helped me adjust the garage door, which has been a thorn in my side since we put it in over the summer. We talked alot too, which was cool. We don't have many times like that. He asked about my father, and how he was dealing with all of this. It reminded me just how many people actually do care, and are pulling for him. I had a meeting with some great guys from church, ate dinner with the family, and watched some of the yankees game on tv. My wife gave me a kiss and said thank you for all I have been doing around the house. That meant alot to me. I took my practice test for my dialysis certification, and got an 84. All simple, run of the mill things, but that's what I needed today. Simple things to go right. Later in the evening, I went to sit outside and do some reading. I hear Emma at the front door yelling "Daddy, Daddy", so I went to see what she wanted, and she just wanted to come outside and sit with me. As we were sitting on the swing, her curling her little body up in my side, she noticed the moon in the sky. She said all excited " what's that", with her cute little gasp. I said the moon. She followed it up with "pretty moon". After a few seconds of silence, she said "I love you". We just sat on the swing for a little while, cuddling up, enjoying each other's company. It was a perfect ending to a great day.

The whole day reminded me that each day, we are given a clean slate. Each day is a brand new canvas, to paint on it what we want. Each day, regardless of how we mess up, or respond to struggles, God gives us new mercy, for a new day. It also helped me realize that once a day is done, its done. We can choose to carry all of our junk, stress, hurt, frustration, anger, etc... into the next day, but if we always do that, we may miss the chance to enjoy a bright new day.

Monday, September 20, 2010

UGGGH!!!

I wish I had something profound, inspiring, or even remotely positive to write today, but I'm fresh out. I think we're in one of those times when it seems nothing is right. We can't get ahead of the curve on anything, and the more we pray about troubles, more surface. My father's health is still failing. He was doing well for a while, but now it seems as though they are going to have to amputate his other leg. It's frustrating, tiring, and leaves us with an all consuming worry. My wife has been his main caregiver/helper, and has just recently begun to back off a little because things are strained at home. I can't help as much as I'd like with my father, so that's tough. He's been struggling with all of this too, although he doesn't talk about it much. So we worry, we stress. How are we going to handle the care he needs? What about things at home? How is he going to deal with losing his other leg? Will he even survive another surgery? All answers we don't know, and all things out of our control.

Then we have the usual issues at home. It seems like none of us are working together. We have the same issues over and over, and we hit the same wall over and over. The more we try to improve, the more little things get in the way. Its so frustrating. Exhausting too. Even today, as I was trying to work on installing a tile floor, it was one obstacle after another.

I know that sometimes my expectations are the cause. I expect support end encouragement from extended family, but I usually get stress and hurt feelings. Even on my birthday, we cooked dinner for everyone, and Emily and I ate with the kids, while everyone else ate inside. Barely talked to my mother or my father, and didn't get so much as a card. I expect that even though we are sacrificing financially to have Emily stay home, that maybe a nice house, and safe, comfortable times at home would be the norm, but that's not the case. Between dealing with the kid's issues, not being home enough to get stuff done, and the constant worries about my dad, and money being tight, even home isn't safe, comfortable. Then, I get frustrated, and angry, and the whole thing becomes a mess. Uggggh!

So what do we do. Well, the only thing we can do is keep going. We'll deal with each obstacle as it comes, deal with the cards dealt us, and go on. I gotta believe though, that some day, some how, it will be our turn to come out on top!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Innocence of Youth is Lost

I was watching Prime News on Headline News tonight, and was mortified by some of the stories I saw. One of them was two thirteen year old girls fighting over shorts. Full on fist fight, tackle to the ground fist fighting. Were the parents around to stop it? A mom, grandfather, and several other adults were not only there, but they filmed it. In the video, when the girls broke it up, they were heard yelling "round two, get back in there", and things like that. Then, the video was posted on youtube. (The adults in the video were eventually charged.) The next story was about a 12 year old autistic boy who was attacked by three 13 and 14 year old boys. They boy stood there, because he couldn't process what was being done to him, and took punch after punch, kick after kick. All while other kids were video taping it, yes for youtube, and still other kids, laughing at him.

Although these were severe cases, they are a startling look at the fact that innocence is lost in today's youth. I see this everyday with my own 13 year old. My wife and I correct his behavior and his attitude, but we are fighting a losing battle. While we try to instill good, moral, behavior and decision making, it is being undone the minute he watches tv, gets online, or gets around other kids. His reason for not changing his bad attitude and behavior- because if he becomes a "goody goody" as he puts it, he'll have no friends. People will walk all over him, and he'll be a target. How sad is that. I have to tell you, after seeing some of the things today's youth does, and says, and watches, and how they act, I would be ok with him not having friends. This is all a really good argument for homeschooling. Today's youth seems to be all about themselves. Lacking kindness, generosity, and respect. Perhaps we created this with our need to have mentality, and our immediate gratification society. Where are the strong fathers, setting good examples and behaviors? Where are the strong role models? I don't mean to generalize, but where are the good kids??? Where are the kids longing to make a difference in the world? Where are the kids wanting to live above the crap and garbage our world is peddling? I don't mean to generalize, but are they out there??? Teen pregnancy is on the rise for the first time in decades. Drug use is on the rise. Teen drinking is on the rise. It is scary.

I love kids, and always have. I have always been an advocate. Most of my ministry has been to kids and youth. It absolutely breaks my heart to see our youth in such a state. I will continue to fight for my kids, teaching them to be good, moral people, no matter how different that makes them. I will continue to pray for all of today's youth, they need it. And to anyone with kids and teens in their lives, reward good and moral behavior. Show them that is what matters. Be examples of that kind of living to them. It is hard, but it pays off, and I know for me and my wife, we with four kids, we have a lot at risk.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Power of A Child's Hug

There seems to be certain days where everything that you are going through, or everything you are struggling with hits you all at once. Today was one of those days for me. For some reason, today was the day that I began to feel the demands and expectations that my side of our family and my wife's side of our family are too much. Today was the day that I feel like no one takes into consideration how my wife, my kids, or myself are affected by other's lack of thoughtfulness, or selfishness. Today was the day that the stress of caring for an ill parent, and the strain it is putting on my wife and I emotionally, physically, and financially, became overwhelming. Today was the day when it seemed loneliness crept in, and that the people in our lives who love us, love us with strings attached, or with expectations of what they can get. The times we are shunned-all hit me today. The times we are taken advantage of- all made me mad today. To top this all off, it was a horrible day at work. Heavy patient load, two patients had to be sent to the hospital, and it was just plain old, run all day busy. School starting, and the holidays right around the corner rounded it out quite nicely. To be blunt, it was a perfectly crappy day. But then something happened-something amazingly simple. Something ordinarily profound.

I left the back door to work, to head out to the parking lot. My wife was there waiting, and her, and all of the kids, as well as my aunt were all outside in the grass, enjoying the sun while they waited or me. Once my little girl saw me, she yelled "Daddy!!!!" She began running to me, arms out, as fast as her little body could run. At that moment, that very moment, the earth stopped spinning. The sky seemed more blue. The sun, more bright, warmer, more enveloping. The few seconds it took her to get to me, seemed like an eternity, and time stood still. That moment is burned into my mind like a picture is captured on a film. When she made it to me, I scooped her up, and she threw her arms around my neck and said "I yuv you!!!!!". At that very instant, the world was perfect. All was as it should be. That moment was a Divine appointment, a gift from God, planned from the beginning of time, all because He knew I would need it today. There is something about the unconditional love of a child that amazes me. There is a warmth, a connection, a heart to heart expression that runs so much deeper than a hug, that happens in moments like this. All of the frustration I was feeling, instantly gone. All of the loneliness and hurt that I was feeling from other people, were simply squeezed away. All of the expectations and demands that I was feeling from our families didn't matter all of the sudden. What mattered was me and my little girl. It's foolish of me to think that my little girl will always come running to me with open arms, saying I love you. Especially when she gets older, and has to be disciplined. When I make her change her clothes, I'm sure she won't want to hug it out. When I say no boys, I'm sure she won't feel like telling me "I yuv you!" And someday, I won't be the most important man in her life, and she will be running towards her husband with open arms, telling him she loves him. But you know what would be more foolish of me??? Not cherishing everyone of those amazingly normal, seemingly simple moments, where the hug of a child can make the world stop spinning.