Monday, January 19, 2015

I also have a dream.

Last week, my daughter and I made a stop to donate a teeny little wheelchair to a good cause. We were excited about the donation -- excited that this little chair that served both a dear friend's little boy in Minnesota and then our Mason would get a new life caring for a sweet child in Poland. We were excited.

But the woman we met with left me with an angst in my heart that I spent hours trying to decipher. She was perfectly polite. She gave us a tour of the facility. She introduced us to people using the gym, playing on the basketball court, and working within her own office. So I was struggling to determine exactly why I needed to get away from her. Why my heart was offended with her and I wanted to flee.

On the one hand, she was pushy about why my boys didn't take part in the activities at the site. I tried to explain that they already were plugged into the community before the facility opened and frankly, Benjamin far favors the arts to sport participation. She expressed some disdain before telling me about an all-disabled theater group he could join. I explained again that he had his own activities and was perfectly content.

Please understand, I think everything this organization is doing is wonderful. And the facility was seriously state-of-the-art. If Benjamin were even a little interested, it would be a fantastic place. I understand it serves a need for many. I understand that the theater group she spoke of is heart-warming and allows participation for some who would not have that opportunity elsewhere. I get it. My angst was not with the mission, but rather within me, in regard to my children.

As I struggled to put my finger on what about it bothered me, I explained it to the rest of my little family later that evening. I was grasping for understanding of the bereft way the entire visit made me feel. It took Benjamin less than 30 seconds to figure it out:

"It was segregation disguised as inclusion, Mom."



Yes, that was it exactly. I felt like they were trying to put my young men in a box -- a very well-contained box, a very well-meaning box, a very well-equipped box but a box that did not sit well with me.

My wise son teaches me often. But this was eye-opening.  Benjamin has never been a fan of activities that set him apart from his peers. Segregation by definition is the "action of setting someone apart from other people."

And though the facility is state-of-the-art; even though it serves a need; even though the theater group allows participation to those that would not otherwise be able to participate, it IS segregation. Oh that we lived in a world where we could co-exist. A world where there was not a question about inclusion -- it just was.

Mason had an eye doctor appointment on Thursday. As we waited our turn, a little boy walked in and walked straight up to Mason, "What is wrong with you?!" He asked extremely matter-of-factly. My amazing son explained that his legs didn't work very well to which the probably 8-year-old replied, "Why?" Dear Mason took a deep breath and explained that because he was born very early something happened to his brain that makes his legs not quite as strong as the little boy's. "Oh, OK." the little one said before turning to play.

I wanted to hug him. How much easier would life be if we all accepted just that easily that some people are different. Some people have different skin color. Some different physical abilities. Some have different emotional abilities. And others still have different learning abilities. Oh OK, let's play.

Today, a day where we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, I am reminded that when I introduced my then-five-year-old triplets to why we celebrate Dr. King, I was overwhelmed with emotion and began to cry. No, we haven't faced segregation because of our color, I told them, but the strides this great man made in Civil Rights for all people, will be the reason you are included and not separated from your peers. He paved the way. He paved the road we will roll down. I am so grateful.

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." -- Dr. King

And Dr. King, I have a dream that one day the world will be able to look past the crutches and the wheels and see that same content of character in my own children.

"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." -- Dr. King

I choose hope. I choose today, in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to choose hope that there are far more people who see the potential in my boys than people who want to label them and stuff them in a box. I choose hope.

Carol - The Blessings Counter

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The tale of two shoes. Or six. Or eight. Who is counting really?

Once upon a time -- what seems like a very very short while ago -- a little girl was growing up as the only sister in a set of really adorable triplets.

Much was made about the brothers' shoes. Oh mercy. There were braces, and special socks. Extra-wide shoes. Shoes that didn't look 14 sizes too big -- even though they WERE in fact 14 sizes too big to fit over the braces.

But sweet little girl didn't need the special socks. She didn't need the special braces. She didn't need special shoes.

Oh wait a minute. YES, she did.

Sweet little girl really really really NEEDED to wear Ruby Red Slippers. Every. Single. Day.

And so she did.

For years, cute little sister would wear the glitter right off of those ruby reds forcing another purchase. 

Regardless of what it seems like, it actually has been a few years since my sweet girl packed up her last pair of Ruby Red Slippers and opted for a more useful shoe variety. Sigh.

But yesterday....well, yesterday she did the coolest thing: she asked if we could buy a cheap pair of shoes and turn them into Ruby Red Slippers for her senior pictures.

And in an effort to turn back the clock even just a smidge, I set off with her for our nearest thrift store.

We found the perfect red shoes. Heels, no less. Though sweet girl giggled that she might need walking lessons. And we came home and began the transformation:

Half before, half after....

 It was so much fun that I might take to only wearing Ruby Red Slippers from here on out. I mean, who knew that you could transform $6 shoes so completely?!

We will add the second coat tonight!!

And the baby girl of the family could not resist making a thrifty purchase all her own!

"Mom, these ALREADY have glitter!!" She shrieked! And that heel. Sweet mercy that heel! 

They are way way too big. And I mean both the shoe and the heel! But can I tell you how my Little Red has pranced around in them all day? All day.

And because I know how fleeting childhood is -- I will let her. I will let her wear them with her pajamas. I will let her wear them to do school (benefits of homeschooling, y'all!) and I will even -- oh goodness don't miss this -- smile from ear to ear when I walk into her room and see that she has cleared her nightstand off completely in order to have these as a decorative piece.

"Oh Mama, they make me smile to look at them!"

Once upon a time two little girls taught a Mama that sometimes a little glitter and a pair or two of shoes can go a long long way in bringing giggles, in making memories and um, in decorating rooms! (Think the boys would let us glitter their shoes?)

Carol - The Blessings Counter

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Football, the Flu and 2015!

 We've started the new year over here with the flu. So far, only my little Red has a confirmed case but her sister doted on her while I was away so she has been feeling rather poorly too. I am treating them both and further pre-medicating the boys in an attempt to STOP them from also acquiring the yuck.

Basically, what I am saying is the year 2015 has started with a bang at my house. I am guilt-ridden over the fact that I never took the kids in for their annual flu vaccine to start with. I am always hyper-diligent about those stupid shots in an effort to keep Benjamin -- who just can't fight respiratory stuff very well -- healthy. But somehow we went straight from August to December this year. I have no idea where the months in the middle disappeared and so I failed to get my crew their vaccinations.

Then, oh then, I flew to Miami with my guy to watch our beloved Bulldogs in the Orange Bowl. We opted for an adults-only trip because the airline tickets were cost-prohibitive and we literally flew down, watched us lose (big big sigh) and turned around and flew home. But of course, my little Red would come down with a fever while I was in an airplane somewhere over Oklahoma-ish. We landed in Denver and as I called to check on my crew, snow was falling, she was sick and I was panicked that we would not get home.  We finally got to our house in the wee hours of the morning on Jan. 2 and rushed baby girl to the doctor by lunchtime when she felt like she couldn't breath. Dear doctor confirmed our fears -- sweet little Red has the flu.

And Mama has a lot of guilt.

And so as I am sitting here tonight sorting the photos of the holiday season, I found these from Thanksgiving. The reality of trying to secure a "picture perfect" photo is hilarious to me tonight.

Motherhood is a lot like this photo session with my little family. I can lose my focus. I can get tickled, bemused, and distracted.

My constant prayer is a plea for God to stand in the gaps of my imperfection.

And this year, this brand new, just out-of-the-box year, I am seeking God's face to become more focused on what matters, more alert to the needs of my people, and more aware of being fully engaged and present with these whom I have been entrusted.

I won't get it perfect. I will forget things, no doubt. But I am here asking God to stand in the middle of 2015 and fill it to overflowing with His grace, goodness and His perfection. I am asking Him to remain not just in the gaps but in all the spaces, every single space.

And dear ones, I am asking Him to do the same for you!

Happy New Year!!

Carol - The Blessings Counter