I had really hoped that we’d all get through the first week of school without any major incidents.  We weren’t so lucky. 

My beautiful granddaughter, age five, is a bright child who reads Harry Potter, plays the violin, knows number places that include the ones, tens, and hundreds, and can tell you about the Mars Rover in detail.  She was born with a physical disability known as a cloacal anomaly, a problem that occurs in 1 in every 20,000 or more live births.  Of all the variations of this, hers is one of the worst.  It is considered one of the most difficult pediatric surgical challenges to correct.  Her surgical history is too much to explain here in a short post.  But, as a result of these procedures, she does not yet have urinary or bowel continence.  As a temporary measure, her parents use large Pull-Ups to deal with this situation.  As you can imagine, they worried about how well she would be accepted in public schools. 

On the one hand, they didn’t have to worry.  Her teacher, principal, school nurse, and the staff are wonderful.  They love her already and she is thrilled to be there.  I can’t say enough about how supportive her teacher has been so far. 

On the other hand, the after-school program, a separately run program that is on-site at her school didn’t do so well.  I picked her up after her first day.  I am amazed that her clothes weren’t soaked since that was one of the wettest Pull-Ups I have ever held.  They didn’t change her.  They admitted that they didn’t check.  They admitted that they were told how to do it by her teacher when she brought her to after-school.  I changed her in front of them to reassure them that, while her anatomy may not look normal, there is hardly any difference in the process of changing her.  They assured me that there would be no problem and responded in detail as to how they would and could handle this need.  They seemed positive and enthusiastic. 

Day two.  Her mother received a call while on her way to pick her up.  She was told that her child could no longer attend after-school since she had a medical problem.  They were okay with Pull-Ups, just not with the “medical problem.”  When she arrived, she discovered that her child was waddling from the pain of being kept in a feces-laden diaper for the two hours she had been there.   She had told her caretakers that she needed to be changed.  When her mother arrived, the two caretakers were sitting at a table talking with only her daughter and one other child present.  She was immediately informed that her child would need to be changed….

She was livid.  My granddaughter had dried feces on her bottom and a severely swollen and bleeding rectum from being unchanged.  It will take a few days for her to return to normal.  We can expect her to cry with every bowel movement until it does. 

So far, we only get lame excuses.  They weren’t comfortable!  THEY had my personal number and the assurance that if there was any problem I would come.  THEY chose to let her sit in feces instead.  Their superiors aren’t any more helpful. 

So, what do you think.  Is this neglect or abuse?  We could turn the other cheek, but, in my granddaughter’s case, both “cheeks” are already involved.

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School is in Session

August 5, 2008

Well, so far, everyone around here is surviving and/or thriving in their new schools.  My youngest seems to be fitting into the flow of high school and comes home happy, a runner’s high from a two-hour practice.  My granddaughter declared her first day “Magnificent,” and is happily reciting all her new friends’ names.  My grandson doesn’t really want to tell me about his school day, but his mom says that he’s okay but would like his old teacher back.  Nothing bad about the new teacher, he would just like things to be the same.  Change is not always the friend of a sensitive soul.  I’m sure that before long his new teacher will have hung the moon and, next year, he’ll want her back too. 

School is in session for me too.  No, I’m not attending, but I am subject to everyone’s schedule.  You know: the drop offs, the pickups, the practices, and soon the meets and programs.  Back to school effects most everyone with children in the family.  So, while I’m asking them the mundane questions like “What did you learn in school today?,”  I have to ask myself something similar. 

Another year looms ahead.  What am I going to learn this year?  What progress in spiritual growth will I see?  I seem to be taking one called “Walking Through Difficult Moments, Advanced Placement.”  There is no standardized test for that at the end of the year.  And, for me, the tests came early.  God has allowed a challenging curriculum in my spiritual walk and beliefs lately.  I think I’m passing, but, if not, fortunately God uses a grading process known as “Grace and Mercy.”  Therefore I don’t have to fear.  Just to learn.  And, just as fortunate for me is the fact that I have a great instructor, the one who took the highest honors in dealing with difficult moments.  My learning opportunities are endless. 

So, what classes are you taking this year? 

Hebrews 4:16

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

The First Day of School

August 4, 2008

Firsts are always nerve wracking.  Whether you’re the parent, the child, or an adult experiencing one, they don’t get any easier.  In the morning, my youngest child will experience her first day of high school.  She’s understandably excited and nervous.  The two grandchildren start kindergarten.  They feel the same way. 

I feel that way for all of them.

My grandson is an active little man who is fearless about doing things, yet shy around new people.   A first day of school for him involves a lot of new people.  My granddaughter is shy about doing things, but hardly ever meets a stranger.  But, she has medical issues that can get her teased.  My younger daughter is beautiful and doesn’t know it.  She has all the normal teen angst going for her.  She’s also Chinese in a primarily Caucasian and African-American school.  We, her parents, are also Caucasian. 

Each of these three kids have a lot going for them.  They all have their own unique personalities.  Personalities that we hope will find their way socially.  Because of that, both myself and their parents will have a slightly nervous day tomorrow while we wait to get the answer to that universal question, “How was school?”

I’m on my fourth teenager so I have pretty much figured out that all control over their lives ends when they leave the womb, Band-aids don’t fix all boo-boo’s, and someone out there will hurt my child at some point.  Probably at many points.  And now, with the grandkids, it starts all over again. 

We can’t always be there for our kids.  We can love them, give them appropriate support, and pray for them.  But, they are the ones that have to experience and deal with their own lives. 

So, tomorrow I will get up early and drive my daughter to school for the first day.  And then, I’ll pray.  Pray that others are kind, pray that she finds all her classes, pray that her teachers and friends see her heart, and pray that all the older boys are myopic.  At the end of the day, I’ll ask the question.  And fortunately for me, she will probably answer in great detail.  May it always be so!  My children will ask their children the same question.  And we’ll all hold our breath for the answer. 

Ephesians 4:32

And be ye kind one to another….

My dear one and I are of an age where we are rapidly approaching the “empty nest” time of life.  Or, so we would like to believe. 🙂  We are on our fourth teenager, and her entry into high school starts in two days.  Our household itself is still large.  Basically, there are seven of us under one roof; ten, if you count the dogs.  I have three in college, one of whom isn’t ours, and now one in high school.  Those three will graduate by or before the youngest hits college, and well, that puts us in countdown mode.  As the mother of four children who range from 14 to 29, this has been a long time coming. 

For two days, we have had an empty nest trial run.  All of our children are out-of-town for various reasons.  It’s so quiet. 

I love it.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I also love it when they all gather here to swim, eat, celebrate, or just hang out.  But, I can handle the quiet.  My dear one and I are happy to just be in each other’s company.  A lot has been written about what couples go through when the last child leaves the nest.  I’m sure that it will be an emotional experience for us too.  But not of mourning or loss.  You see, my goal is to raise independent children.  Anything less is a disservice to them.  With that goal in mind, while my marriage has involved children, it has never been child-centered.  Our relationship with each other as husband and wife has always been the foundation of everything else.  Oh, there are times that we’ve been caught up in the hectic schedule of children, but we have always seen our relationship as paramount. 

Based on my experience I would say that there are three primary things that you need to have to “empty-nest-proof” your marriage:

1. A spouse that you spend exclusive time with on regular dates or other activities.   

2. To see the goal for your children as independence.  Then, when they hit those milestones, it is your victory too.

3. The ability to live your own life, not your children’s. 

So, when my children are out of the nest, I will have done my job.  I look forward to the times I will still spend with them and the additional grandchildren that I am expecting to be blessed with through them.  But, I also look forward to spending more time with just my dear one.  After all, he is my best friend and the love of my life.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Rocks Will Cry Out

August 1, 2008

When Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, Luke records that the whole multitude of disciples began to praise God aloud.  When the Pharisees clamored for Jesus to rebuke his disciples, his reply is recorded in Luke 19:40 where he says, “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”

This principle of the rocks crying out when something important is suppressed has been on my heart a lot lately.  I think this phenomenon happens in the corporate body of Christ, when we suppress the gifts.  Just like what Jesus told the Pharisees, if we do this long enough, the stones will cry out.  God’s gifts will find expression.  Even through the rocks.

In our own life, we sometimes suppress or fail to use the gifts that God has given us.  If we don’t express our gifts, we and others around us experience a great loss.  And, worse case, it becomes a “use it or lose it” situation.   

I am examining the gifts that God has given me.  Some are in major disuse, especially the vision and creativity that God has given me.  And frankly, I see where that brings about loss in my life.  Recently, as I sought God in this area, I began to re-experience the vision that had been lacking in my life.  I’ve started to look at the ways that creativity needs to come out in my life.  And, I’m looking at what needs to change as a result. 

As an answer to my seeking God, today I remembered a picture taken of me when I was about ten or eleven years old.  I can see it clearly.  I am sitting on my aunt’s back porch swathed in a multitude of long colorful scarves.  I had scrounged them from her attic and used them for dress-up.  I was probably pretending to be something out of the Arabian Nights.  I realize that you probably wonder what this has to do with the subject.  It’s just that I was always a child of great imagination.  Imagination and especially the creating of stories was something I did continually.  God reminded me of this.  He has been prodding me to use those gifts again.  The ability to create a story and spin a tale.  

It’s a gift I’ve neglected.  One of many.  So, I continue to seek God, but also to take action. 

I think it’s important for us to examine our lives for where we’ve suppressed God’s gifts to us.  And then take action. 

Otherwise, listen for the sounds of crying rocks.

Back to School Shopping

July 31, 2008

I have been indulging, okay dragged kicking and screaming, in the annual back-to-school shopping ritual.  First, I should like to say that it’s possible that I’m not a “true” woman, since I rarely like to shop.  And, pair me with a child with a mind of their own (any child out of infancy and verbal), and I lose it. 

Yesterday and today I shopped with my teenager. 

I’m not sure anything else needs to be said….

Okay, I’ll say it.  Or ask it.  Do I have the only child on the planet who will first drive you crazy about when we are going, and then, once we go, practically refuse to try anything on?  I had to cajole, insist, and down right order her to try things on.  She’d frown, I’d say just try it, and after an obligatory period of resistance which usually included a lot of muttering, she would finally try it on.  Whatever it was.  Then, more than likely, she would like it and we’d buy it.  I felt like a professional shopping wrestler by the time we were done. 

Part way through the day, I decided to accept things.  My daughter is a glass half-empty and I am a glass half-full person.  We will see things differently.  Shopping together will always be a challenge.  Maybe I need to make it less of one.  After all, I can only control my attitude.  I stopped reacting so much to every negative response and just pointed out what was needed or not.  Gave her choices to buy it or not.  Placed boundaries and called for decisions pleasantly. 

I am way too uptight about this kind of stuff.  I need a new mantra.  Something like “Shopping is fun.”  By the end of the day yesterday, we had accomplished that day’s tasks.  Today was easier.  And went faster.  In 35 minutes we had two new pairs of jeans, a vest, and a new shirt.  A world’s record for this duo.  My change in attitude was a big part of that.  What a surprise! 

Now, we’re off to open house.  Finally, along with the rest of our county, we’ll get school supply lists.  So, I can go shopping with my teenager in Wal-Mart with too crowded aisles and crazed mothers trying to conquer the list. 

OR

Maybe I’ll just send her dad with her….

I Corinthians 13: 4-7

Love is patient and  love is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails.

Rejection

July 28, 2008

Every month at the Georgia Romance Writer’s Group meeting, we make time for member’s news.  It’s kinda fun to listen to people stand up and say that their book has been accepted by a publisher.  Or they just had the movie rights optioned for their series.  We all clap and get excited.  Funny, even the most published ladies in the group appreciate that applause.   

But, there is another time we clap.  Sometimes even louder.  It’s when an author-in-waiting stands up and says that they just got their first (third, fifteenth, whatever) rejection from a publisher on their novel.  Yes, we clap for rejection.  Loudly. 

Why?  Because it means that the author is doing something.  Finishing a manuscript. Putting themselves out there.  Taking a chance.  Every single published author in the room has had their share of rejection letters.  It’s a rite of passage.  And, it doesn’t always end with your first publication.  Even authors like Haywood Smith, the Red Hat Club novelist, who has written bunches of successful novels still gets them sometimes. 

None of us like rejection.  I know I don’t.  It’s probably why my three stories are all still unfinished and not yet rejected. 

Today, I got news of my editor/agent appointment time at an upcoming conference.  I get a one-on-one appointment with a major editor and a major agent to pitch my work.  It’s a good wake-up call.  Time to finish.  To risk rejection.  To take a chance. 

There are so many times in life we risk rejection.  Friendships carry that risk.  Family carries that risk.  Marriages carry that risk.  All relationships carry that risk.  But we still need to put ourselves out there.  Rejection has something to teach us.  Perseverence for one thing.  Where our own wounds lie for another. 

We’ve all been rejected at some point.  During our lifetime, we’ll probably experience it again.  What I’ve learned in my writer’s group is that rejection is to be expected and even embraced as a vital stepping stone in my journey. 

My manuscript may be rejected.  I’ll never know until I take that risk.  But, if I don’t finish it and try, I stay stuck in the journey.  

So, if I’m rejected.  There is a major consolation here.  I continue the journey in good company.  Even the best of us get rejected and denied from time to time….

Mark 14:72 

And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.