Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Thoughts on Boston bombings.

Senseless.   Horrific.  Shocking.  Just a few of the words that I've heard people use to describe the viciousness of the bombs in Boston.  Sad.  Scared.  Angry.  Words people have given to their feelings of these events.  Hateful.  Detailed.  Bold.  The terms others have given to those involved with setting these devices.  For the runners and the rescuers and the everyday citizens that ran to help, opened their homes to scared cold strangers to shield them from the openness of the street:  Brave.  Loving.  Courageous.  Helpful. 

I can't describe this tragedy in a word.  I am heartbroken by the state of our world.  Bombings and war and school shootings and bullying and hungry and homeless and the sick and the hurting.  I am also hopeful because our God reigns.  He knows and sees and heals and comforts and it is in Him, I am at peace. 

In the moments after the incident yesterday I watched things unfold over social media and for the second time in a matter of weeks was blown away by it's influence and speed.  I recognized the danger of it first; the opportunity for false reporting and rumors, feeding the insatiable hunger for drama and the 'if it bleeds it leads' mentality.   I can tell by the images we post that there is a level of desensitization that makes me cringe. But that same vehicle allowed hundreds to locate and know that their loved ones were safe within minutes of a disaster that 15 years ago may have taken days to accomplish.  It also had a country, a world, praying for everyone involved within a minute of the first explosion.  I believe that mattered.  I believe that it made a difference.

As someone with a background in Sociology, it is interesting to see the reactions of people in moments of fear and shock and see the texts, tweets, FB posts and instagrams that we now have the opportunity to post before our brains have really even had time to process what has happened.  This ugly display of cowardice and hate was answered by many on social media with the same kind of anger that breeds such hate.  Some are quick to blame.  Maybe it's an ethnic group or our government they point to.  Some just ask for peace and prayer.  Others just sit shocked, saddened. 

I had a friend run the marathon.  A friend that has been like a mentor to and a huge part of our oldest daughter's life and her walk with Jesus.  I knew she had finished earlier but was unsure if she'd hung around.  I immediately text her and held my breath and prayed.  I prayed for all involved.  For friends of friends that hadn't been heard of yet, acquaintances .  I asked others to pray on FB.  I prayed for those whose name I would never know.  I prayed my friend was safe and that she had not heard or seen anything that would haunt her.  After a few minutes another friend shared that she heard from her and that she was okay and just a few seconds later I got the text:

One of the things that is frustrating with such tragedy is the fact that one person or a few can ruin so much for so many.  Unfortunately, I don't think that is something we can change.   26,839 people qualified for the Boston Marathon.  Do you know how difficult that is?  Do you know how many of those people have had to fight through pain and adversity and a myriad of issues to make it to that day.  Instead of hearing their stories and their victories we have to focus on something horrific.  The celebrations that should have been happening weren't.  The feeling of accomplishment was smothered by hate.  The success of so many was hidden in the shadows of a cowardice few.  That breaks my heart. But people died and so many were injured and it does need to be covered and we do need to know.  It has always bothered me deeply how the actions of one can ruin the lives of so many.  It is why I am so very thankful that I believe solely in the One whose actions Saved the lives of so many.

This country is currently debating gun control and how to stop school shootings.  We talk about terrorism and what we can do to stop it.  I'm not saying these aren't important.  They are and I am of the belief that there needs to be change but in the midst of the dialogue on gun control, some kid stabs a bunch of students on a college campus.  And in this day and time where our large national events have more protections over them than ever before, there are still bombings.   Our world is broken.  This is a heart issue.   I can't solve the gun debate or offer a solution that hasn't already been offered.  I can't solve terrorism. I cannot offer up a solution to all of this that every American will proudly support and agree with.  I can't prevent bad people from doing horrible things.  Not today.

Today, I can work on my heart.  I can work on the heart of my children.  I can make sure I and my family are prepared if it is ever our time to leave this earth, whether by natural disaster, God's design or at the hands of someone set out to hurt others.  I can love my children and my husband so that if ever anything were to happen to them or me, we could be at peace with how we loved one another.  I can show my friends and loved ones how important they are to me in the way that I value their presence in my life.   Today.  I can do that today.  So in times of disaster, that is one less burden to carry.  I can tell others about the impact God's love and His son Jesus have had on my life.  I can live a life of faith that others can see.  I can offer that to them.  Whether they do anything with that information isn't up to me.  God simply commands me to tell them about Him, to show them. The rest isn't in my control.  For that, I know we are all thankful:)  I can love those that seem unlovable, unworthy.  I can love the stranger next to me because it may be the only time in his day he is shown love.

In that spirit of authenticity, I also have stunk at loving lately. I mean, I love my family.  I tell them all the time and if you asked, they know I love them but I haven't been the easiest to love back lately. When I feel stress or am struggling emotionally, they are always the lucky ones to feel the weight of my craziness. I've been less patient, less accessible, less able to find joy through the struggles.  So when we prayed as a family last night, I asked God to forgive me for that, in front of our children and my husband, and prayed I would do better.  I prayed to be the momma they need and the wife he needs because at the end of the day, it's all that matters. I can do better.

My sweet friend knows I love her.  I've told her before.  Freakishly often.  It's how we roll.  She does the same.  She knows the impact she's had on my daughter's life because we've shared that with her and have shared our appreciation for her before.  I think that is why I didn't cry until I knew she was okay.  The relief that she was still with us....such a huge release of thankful tears.  Who haven't I told?  Who do you need to tell?  Who needs to feel your love?

We can all do better.  We can all be better.  We can all work on our hearts and if we're all working on our hearts and truly loving those around us, surely the ugliness of the world won't seem as scary.  If we can show our families this crazy kind of love in our lives, if we can pile on the love so thick than maybe it will make the sting of the pain of this world less.  When the ugliness intrudes on our lives, we'll be able to have a peace knowing that we loved as big as we could.  And maybe, maybe if we just love big enough...some of the people filled with ugly will feel loved too...and the world will be a different place.

*Continued prayers for those that were touched by this tragedy.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Riding the wave

So there was a minor little sports story that seems to have everyone up in arms around here:)  That's right, I'm blogging about the blog.  It's what we bloggers do.

A little background here.  I am the stay at home mother of 5 ages 13 and under.  I started this blog when we set out to adopt from Ethiopia.  Yes, there is a reason for the name.  The blog has followed our family as God blessed us with two children that happened to be living locally.  Since, I've written about adoption, being a large family, a multiracial family, social justice issues, mothering 5 children often with extras around as we are a part of Safe Families.  All of this is seen through the lens of my love of Jesus and His love for me.  It's the only way I know how to see life.   I blogged because I am a writer.  A writer no one reads or pays but a writer all the same.  It's never mattered to me how many people read it.  I am a writer because I write.  Sometimes 50 may read, sometimes it's 300.  Two evenings ago, I sat and blogged about this mailer I received about a local high school basketball coach and the small little blog garnered some mucho attention.  

Mucho, as in 1300 before I went to bed that first night and now, after having been shared on FB and tweeted and retweeted and last night picked up by the news, it's at almost 8,000 hits and previously I've had 10,000 hits in the history of the blog.  A 4 year history.  Sports are powerful my friends.  A sad little commentary on our society I think.  However, hundreds more have also gone on to read about my passions and that feels good.   Maybe someone will read about living a life of faith or adoption or Safe Families.   Maybe they'll want to read more.  And maybe they'll read this one story about basketball and I'm okay with that because as a writer, it is nice to be heard.  It feels good to have captured the feelings of so many.  And let's face it, this story really isn't about basketball at all or this coach.  This story is about one of entitlement.  This story brings up the issue of parents throwing money at their children's problems, parents and the example they too often set for their children...however well intentioned.  This story is about how much sports has changed and how it used to be about exercise, healthy competition and learning life skills like playing as a team, hard work and determination.  It's about common decency and respect for others, even if you disagree with them.  It's about bullying.  It's about a society with skewed priorities.  So I'm okay if my numbers return to 5 today.  Because God gave me a voice and a gift and He asked me to use it.  Whether that touches 5 or 5,000 lives isn't for me to worry about. 

Behind the scenes yesterday was hilarious.  My friends kept texting about sports talk radio and how they were talking about it.  That they had seen the blog here and there.  It was fun to see the excitement for me and very cool to watch the numbers rise throughout the day.  I wondered how many shares and retweets I needed before I got the tshirt that says, I went viral.  Can I check that off my bucket list yet? 

Yesterday afternoon, standing makeupless in yoga pants and a tshirt folding laundry on our kitchen table, I got a text that WISHtv would like to speak with me and they will be here in 30 minutes.  30.  Picture this, mom running up stairs hollering down to kids to leave all their stuff in their backpacks and hang up their coats all the while trying to find clothes that say I'm ready but not trying too hard.  20 minutes to go...All the kids are grabbing laundry and putting it away.  I'm throwing dirty dishes in with the clean ones sitting in the dishwasher.  Texting my husband what is going on so when he pulls into the neighborhood he is not freaked out by the news van sitting in his drive.  10 minutes to go....Run back upstairs to throw on some makeup while the kids are still scurrying about.  "Mooooooom, Grace says we really have to act like we love each other."  Yes children, that would be nice. 2 minutes to go..... "Moooooom, can I watch Netflix?"  No, not now.  Well, that did it.  No to Netflix and unnamed child is on a heap on the floor crying and letting out a guttural cry of how I'm no fun and it's always so boring around here.    Uh, excuse me?  Are we in the same house right now.  I'd love boring. 

I finally got everyone settled with a snack and a game and heard the knock knock knock.  The reporter and photographer were very nice.  The children were very tame.  I was a hot sweaty mess from running around trying to look 'normal.'  The patio door was opened and it was raining and both of these things combined made my naturally curly but blown out very straight hair start to curl in an odd fashion.  I could feel it happening as I spoke to the reporter.  I could actually feel it getting bigger.  Deep breaths. It was the quietest my children have ever been.  Ever.  I thought about hanging on their leg asking them not to leave.

As I closed the door behind them, I took a breath and wondered what had just happened.  Then I looked in the mirror and blinked my eyes 3 times wishing for a do over.   I am definitely a writer, not a speaker.  I stumble over my words and can't seem to form an intelligent response when asked a question.  My mind races and I babble and after they leave is when I think of the genius points I could have made.  Deep breaths.

Another station called.  I declined.  I don't want it to seem like this is a me against them.  It's not and I already had plans to meet friends for dinner and that's way more fun and less stressful.

Watching it all on the news was even more frightening.  We critique ourselves in a way we would never do to anyone else.  I was appalled at my weight, my hair, my obviously sweaty face (or now that I'm on tv do they call that dewy?).  Regardless, the image of me bothered me.  This morning as I showed it to the kids, none of them commented on any of that.  They were proud of me for using my voice to stand up for someone who was being picked on like I've spoken to them about countless times before.  They were proud of my writing and that I had the courage to voice what some would only think.  They were proud so many connected with something I had put a voice too.  Wow!  Schooled again by those babies.   A good friend set me straight too.  She reminded me how many people could learn about some of these social justice issues I feel so strongly about, about the bigger reason this happened.   

That is cool to think about.  The number is up to 9,300 now.  9,300 reading that post is good but what is even better is almost 1000 have read the one prior to it.  And the others.  The ones that shout about my God and His work in my life.  How quickly I had made this about me.  And my looks?  Society has done a great job instilling my low self-esteem.  Really?  9,300 people just read your work.  Who cares?   I doubt this little twist in the road will bring me the writing career I've dreamed about.  It won't bring me fame or riches.  (Except I did get an offer to buy me a drink)  I'd be lying though if I didn't say it felt good to be heard.  To use my voice for good.  9,500 now.  Somebody hand me my yoga pants;)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Smells like entitlement.

*sprinkles of sarcasm included because really how else could I respond.

I am baffled.  Truly.  I admittedly know nothing about our local high school basketball program.  Nothing.  I do not know our coach or any assistants.  I've never been to a game.  Never.  I do however, know enough to comment when I received a mailer urging the head coach be replaced. 
Seriously.  A mailer. 

A double sided, stamped mailer.  Which includes the following:

"It's time for a change.  The 2012-2013 Noblesville Miller basketball team was one of the most talented (and the tallest) in the entire state.  Yet, for the third year in a row, the team seriously underachieved relative to their talent and potential.  This very disappointing record included 9 losses -7 after leading or tied in the 4th quarter.  The team has lost the opening round of Sectionals the last three years."

The 2012-2013Noblesville boys basketball season was yet another season where:
Players were subjected to a negative and demeaning coaching style, berated regularly and subjected to profanity in practice.  Players rarely received individual coaching or positive encouragement from the head coach. 
Player morale deteriorated as the season progressed, but players perservered in the program because of their love of basketball and despite their strong dislike for the head coach.
Players were expected to perform "slave labor" for the head coach at youth camps and concession stands
Two-a-days (before and after school) practices left little study time and caused players to fall asleep in class
By sectionals time, player confidence and enthusiasm was depleted
-players just wanted the season to be over
Albert Einstein said, "insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results."  Such is the Noblesville Boys Basketball program. 
It's time to replace Coach McCullough and bring in a more positive and effective head coach to Noblesville Schools."

I do not know how many people this mailer went to or how much money was spent on it.  I just know I received it in my box and honestly couldn't believe what I was seeing.  Here is the trouble with it. Just some random thoughts.

It is mean.  Just mean.  This coach may not be good at his job.  You may not be good at yours.  But sending out a mailer asking for him to be replaced?   Mean.   Lovely lesson you are teaching your children.  Takes bullying to a whole new level.  This coach may be a jerk.  He may be a horrible coach.  This is not the way for me to hear your concerns.  This is not the "positive and effective" change you want for your beloved Millers.

How entitled does one have to feel to send mailers out to try to ensure that their child is on a winning team?  What kind of lesson are you teaching your kids?  Winning is fabulous.  I'm an IU fan.  I know what that's like:)  But how about hard work and determination and academics?

I too would not want my child to be coached in a negative or demeaning manor or to be berated or subjected to profanity. ( Even though I doubt if they were winning with this coaching style you'd have issue with it.)  Valid point if the alleged is true but your other arguments kind of make this one valid point become a non issue for me.  Not to mention, this mailer comes across as slightly demeaning and negative itself. 

I had coaches throughout my life that I liked and disliked. I played the game for me.  My parents would have never sent out a mailer about a meany coach.  They would have told me to play my game.  To hold myself to a different standard, to work hard.  They would have told me that in life there may be bosses I have or peers I have to work with that I may not like or agree with but I have to find a way to carry myself in a respectable fashion and work through it. 

Two-a-days are ridiculous, I agree, but are seen in many sports since I was in high school 20+ years ago.  It is a regular practice that this coach should not be singled out for.

The player morale and enthusiasm as the year progressed I bet was more affected by the attitude of the players and parents involved in this mailer than anything else.  Sometimes life isn't fair and things stink and it's okay for our kids to know that.  

The statement that we have one of the talented and tallest teams in the entire state gave me a good chuckle.  My husband is a 6 foot 5 inch black man and let's just say he ran track and played soccer in college.  For a reason.

The tone of the mailer hit me the most as an entitlement issue when I got to the ''slave labor'' sentence.  If you want to see slave labor, I will be happy to introduce you to the very real world wide issue. Your son having to work the concession stand isn't it and is completely offensive to say.  Spun this momma's head around and ended in a Z snap.

There are a dozen problems with our school system right now.  Our teachers need your support, our arts and music need your support.  I could give you the names of a dozen teachers who would love your funding for cool ideas they have for their classroom.  If you have money to throw at an 'issue,' I can help you find one but this?!  This is what you are going to join arms in and send out a mailer for.  Seriously?! 

The Albert Einstein quote?  Really.  It was  a good for a laugh. 

I am thankful parents want to stand up for their children when they feel they have been justifiably wronged.  Kudos for that.  But justifiably should be the key word here.  Voice your concerns to the coach himself, superintendent, parents, administration but to take out a mailer publicly shaming someone.  Ridiculous.  C'mon parents, we are better than that.   This group "paid for by concerned Miller parents seeking a better basketball program" is better than this I'm sure.  I'm sure they wanted to do right by their children, but in my opinion, they missed the mark.  Big time.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

*The image of the dejected ball player was a nice touch.