Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Because Even Snarky Needs A Day Off Every Now & Then

September 24, 1996...a day that will be etched on my brain and in my heart for as long as I exist. As I walked into the doctor's office, I knew it was over. I knew that "the inevitable" (as the doctors called it) had occurred. My first pregnancy was finished. My first child was gone.

The previous day, September 23, as I taught my 5
th graders, I was all too aware that my baby was not moving as much as usual. That evening, my sweet husband knelt beside the bed. He held my hand tightly (he is the best at holding hands tightly, and when he does I couldn't feel safer). He placed his other hand on my stomach. We talked to our daughter. We told her how much we wished she could stay, how much we loved her, and how she had changed our lives. We wanted her to know that although this world would never know her, we would never forget knowing her.

We sat in silence. There are times in life when words are useless, they can be wastes of the very breath it takes to form them.

Then, there are times in life when words are most powerful. I told Jared I could not remember the last time our baby kicked. How? How could God expect me to live the rest of my life not knowing the last moment of my child's far too brief existence? I was not sure I could do it. We prayed. My husband's head rested on my stomach. In the prayer, we
pled our case. Please, just let us remember her last kick.

And oh how she kicked! Her daddy's head bounced right off of my big belly. I can still remember the look on his face. It was beautiful. I wanted to stop time. Never has a prayer of ours been answered so quickly, never before and never since. But then, never have we needed anything so desperately.

That night, I did not sleep. I think I was actually motionless, just hoping for one more, just one more kick. But, I knew better. And I could feel "the inevitable" lurking in the dark, sneaking in, most definitely uninvited.

September 24, 1996...I needed to teach my 5
th graders. They had no idea what was happening. I was 8 months pregnant and all they knew is that I was getting really fat. I needed Jared to go to his classes. I needed some sense of normalcy; otherwise, I was sure I would stop breathing...that is how badly my heart hurt.

So, we went about our day. I was in the Computer Lab with my students. I called my doctor. Yep, we had a
hotline straight to thankful when you call your doctor but can't speak to him immediately, it means no one is dying. He told me: "Well, it sounds as though the inevitable has happened. You need to come in right now." I called my husband. He would be there as soon as possible, but he was 45 minutes away.

I walked into the doctor's office. From the looks on the faces of the nurses, they could feel "the inevitable" lurking also. I walked in for what would be the last of countless ultrasounds...seriously, I had so many we stopped counting.

The time had come, my baby had no heartbeat. I felt as though the weight of the world was literally crushing my chest. I could not remember how to get in touch with my husband. I could not remember where I had parked my car. All I could remember is that I had a dear friend who lived across the street from the doctor's office. Strange isn't it, the things we remember when we are in shock?

To this day, I can't remember who called my friend. Was it me? Was it a nurse? What I can remember is that she walked me out the back hallway of the doctor's office. She took me to her house. She promised me that it wasn't my fault. I sat in her living room as Jared rushed to reach me.

September 25, husband & I held our daughter.

My fear has always been that people would forget my daughter. No one was given a chance to know her. There were no opportunities to make memories with her. I have often wondered what my friend remembers of that day. I often wonder if people even remember the syndrome that took my daughter's life.

Today, with one simple email, my friend let me know that she has not forgotten:
Have you seen this video? I saw it and thought of you..

The video shares the story of Eliot, a baby born with
Trisomy 18. Victoria had Trisomy 18. I delivered Victoria 12 years ago. No one was blogging. Most of the time, the only videos people made, were ones to show their own families. I am thankful families now have more opportunities to share their stories, to help others.

The video about Eliot helps me. Why? Well, for one thing because his precious, slightly misplaced little ears remind me of my baby's. His tiny hands and mouth remind me of her. Eliot's balloons remind me of those we released for Victoria. And, because even though you may not have had the chance to know my daughter, you can know Eliot.

And to my friend...I thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just Call It What It Is

"Ewwww, what is the smell?" were the words I heard from my student. He had never stepped foot on a farm before our field trip that day.
As we stood looking at the steer, I said, "It's poop, that is what you smell."
His reply, "I don't like it."

I have been thinking about that day on the farm. I could have told the child something like this: "That is called manure. And, once composted, we can do many beneficial things with manure." (Never mind that the kid is barely three and can't even say the word manure...just go with me here, ok?)

The bottom line is, I called it what it was...poop, plain and simple. Now, granted, we could wrap it up in a pretty box, with a gorgeous organza bow. (Ohhh, I do love organza. Sorry, I digress.) Anyway, we could package it up beautifully. We could attach a lovely tag labeled manure, written in some elaborately fancy font. But still, what you have is stinky poop.

That is how I feel about the "redistribution of wealth". Please just call it what it is. Socialism. You can wrap that phrase "redistribution of wealth" in a handsome package, eloquently presenting it before the crowds. But inside, you have one more step in socialism's direction.

As this package is currently being presented, it's as though some people are hearing the Hallelujah chorus being sung by angels escorting Christ back to earth. These people want desperately for someone to believe in, I understand that. But government is not the vehicle to deliver what can only come from within.

I have had conversations with people who are not the slightest bit bothered by the phrases "redistribution of wealth" or "spreading the wealth around". I never want to be disrespectful, but I am often astounded by those who choose to be so naive. Please do not be distracted by the carefully crafted words and packaging.

Sometimes I wonder if those who lean toward the socialist way of thinking are actually just lazy, regardless of their economic status. Lazy in that they are low yield, high can we get what we want, with little or no thought for others? Does any socialist thinker care that the Captain worked over 100 hours a week? No, they just want to take from my children and give it to someone else's. Do these people care that one of my coworkers holds two jobs so she can care for her ailing parents? No. And what about small business owners? I can't wrap my brain around why anyone would choose to punish those who work the hardest. But that is exactly what ends up happening. You end up with people who ask, "Why should I work when I am going to get what I want anyway?"

Many are lazy in that they do not want to think. I am noticing people don't really want to think these days. If the government takes over this "spreading the wealth around", socialist leaners never have to really get in there and get their hands dirty. They don't have to think of ways to help. They won't have to actually go into those inner city schools and mentor a fatherless child. They won't have to actually go down to the row houses in Baltimore and paint, or clean up the streets. Spend their time teaching an adult to read or teaching trades and skills? Oh goodness no. No time for service. Haven't you heard, money fixes everything? Socialist thinkers would prefer to just throw a few checks in the direction of the poor and needy. Then, they can go to bed feeling all warm and fuzzy. Laziness. This teaches nothing more than where to show up for the next check.

I too believe in change. We need change in our educational system. I am all for spreading some wealth around there. If that could ever be done correctly, I have a feeling many other programs would be unnecessary. As it stands now, we are often trying to unmake messes that should have been avoided in the first place.

We need to change attitudes from ones of entitlement back to ones of pride in a hard-earned dollar. We need to change ways of thinking. Teach young people work ethics that are not being taught in their homes. Teach marketable skills and trades, helping people find jobs. Do not just hand them a check. Help them become hopeful people. Help them find the hope inside themselves that comes from personal success. Not hope based on the wishful thinking promises of politicians. Those are changes I would like to see.

I am a compassionate person. I truly, sincerely want to help others. My heart aches for children who do not have their needs met. I desperately want to help those who are vulnerable, defenseless, and innocent. I feel a fire inside, pushing me to help those who desire to improve their lives. I hate poverty and the destruction it leaves behind.

I look forward to the day when I have the resources needed to begin a foundation. A foundation that will be dedicated to improving the lives of others. And yet, if I ever have the resources, that means I will probably have entered a new tax bracket. And quite possibly, the government will then take so much away that I can not help others effectively. I want to have choices. I do not want my government deciding how I should serve those less fortunate. I want to exercise my God-given free will. I understand that there are many greedy grinches in this country. Still, I do not feel the need to force them to be charitable. They will have to take that one up face to face with their Father in Heaven someday.

I fully comprehend the responsibility that our society has to care for one another. There are many who need a boost and, of course, we should help them. Years ago, I was the recipient of such a boost. But, I saw it for exactly what it was, a boost, not a way of life. I am not a scholar of economic policy, not by the longest stretch of the imagination. I have no quick fixes. But I do know that even in its most benign form, socialism is not the answer.

Winston Churchill said this: "Socialism is an attack on the right to breathe freely. Socialism is inseparably interwoven with totalitarianism and the object worship of the state. It will prescribe for every one where they are to work, what they are to work at, where they may go and what they may say. No socialist system can be established without a political police. They would have to fall back on some form of Gestapo..."

So there you have it, just call it what it is. No matter the packaging or coded wording, it's a stinky pile of poop. And I don't like it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I'll Take Mine Sunny Side Up

The Captain ( husband) and I were discussing ideas for my next post.
I was throwing out things like this:
  • My belief in a flat tax rate...if it's good enough for God (tithes), it should certainly be good enough for this country.
  • The misuse of the words "I" and "me" really grates on my nerves. Correct usage: "The Captain and I are going to the store." Correct usage: "Could you go with The Captain and me?" Incorrect usage: "Could you go with The Captain and I?" Try this trick: Repeat the sentence leaving out The Captain. You wouldn't say, "Could you go with I?" really wouldn't say that, would you?
  • The saying is "I could not care less." The saying is not "I could care less." If you could care less, then you care...that is a direct contradiction of why you would use the phrase in the first place!
  • This bunch of clowns: Barney Frank, Murtha, Sean Penn, Chavez, Madonna, Matt Damon,etc. No there isn't one big story involving them collectively. That would make for one heckuva Big Top Circus. Individually, they are clowns. I don't like clowns.

The Captain's response to my brilliant blogging ideas: "Maybe you would like to consider writing about something a little more positive." What? Has this man even read my blog? Positive? I am positively snarky, I don't know what else to tell you. But this is a man who sees pretty much everything "Sunny Side Up".

For those of you who do not know The Captain, let me shed a little light on the man. He never (and I mean never with zero exaggeration), he never complains! That isn't to say he is overly optimistic, it's just that he sees no payoff in whining or complaining. Which in turn means I get nowhere with him if my delivery of anything involves either of those two behaviors. I love this about him, always have.

His second year of residency, at a large military hospital, was one of the most difficult years of his life. He worked over 100 hours a week, enough to wear anyone down quickly. The hours were not the toughest part for him. As the things he witnessed can not be expressed adequately in words, I do not even make the attempt.

The point is that for a solid year, my Captain went to hell and back, more than once. He would argue that point. He would tell you that those he cared for were the ones who had truly seen hell. He would tell you that what he went through was nothing. But I can tell you, I saw him live it through their stories. I saw him live it through their loved ones. He was always there, awaiting the soldiers' return to consciousness. He was there, waiting to introduce these young people to their futures. Futures that were, drastically and forever, changed in brief flashes of time.

I can not comprehend all that he saw and felt. And, I know he is the type of man who downplays all the good he offers in this crazy, mixed-up world. Through the year, he never complained about not having time to eat or sleep. After all, compared to his patients, what could he possibly whine about? I only wish I could have handled that year with the grace and dignity he did. The Captain has a gift for finding good in almost any situation.

There were countless nights he arrived home well after our children were in bed. Many mornings, he would leave the house hours before the rest of the world was even awake. And yet, our children never felt as though their father was unavailable to them. When the Captain was home, he was home. He wrestled and played board games. He went on bike rides and spent hours shooting hoops in the driveway.

He shared life lessons with our children that I never could. He taught them that we will absolutely not complain about the things we do not have. In one year, he instilled in these little souls appreciation for health and very simply, life as we know it. He taught them through his actions, rarely even needing words. They saw their father live what he taught about sacrifice, love for others, charity and compassion. He sat on the pew at church with us every single Sunday he possibly could, when it would have been much more logical to stay home and sleep.

This soldier just kept going. And no matter how exhausted he was, he never once complained. He held his head high, and he served his country with honor and devotion.

So dear Captain, there you have it. That is the positive message I can share today. I can share you with my little circle of readers. You are my hero, and I like my heroes "Sunny Side Up".

Monday, October 20, 2008

Preach On, Brother Jefferson

I received the following from two women today. Neither of them could have known the other was sending the same quote...sounds like this was meant to be our quote of the day! I consider them to be two of the smartest ladies I know. Thanks ladies, love you both.

'A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have.' - Thomas Jefferson

Monday, October 6, 2008

You're Not the Boss of Me

If you ever need to boss me, take note: Your bossiness should be masked in such a way that leads me to believe I am making the decision myself. Does that sound as childish as I think it does? I thought so. I know, I know, it is a pride issue. I will add it to my never ending list of things upon which to improve.

Twice a year, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gather together and address millions of people, all across the world, who make up our church membership; although, you do not have to be a "member" of our church to take part in what is being shared. Many radio, cable, and satellite channels carry coverage of these meetings.

Church leaders share powerful testimonies of our Savior, Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven. I know, without doubt, the men and women who speak during these meetings are instruments of our Father in Heaven. They share words of wisdom. Their words heal, uplift, and guide during times of trial as well as times of joy.

I love General Conference weekends. There are many reasons why, not the least of which is that I receive inspired messages of hope, peace, love, and direction without ever feeling as though I am being bossed. I often feel these men and women are speaking to me just as my Savior would. Make no mistake, they are direct in their counsel. There is no wondering where they stand; however, it is all in the delivery...gentle with their reminders, loving guidance, and even a bit of humor every now and then. I like it. It works for me.

There is no question as to why these men and women have been chosen to serve in their positions of leadership. As they extend challenges for our betterment that are based on neither personal opinions nor agendas, these leaders embody the words "many are called, but few are chosen". They teach true and correct principles, then kindly ask us to righteously exercise our free agency. They counsel us to behave in ways that will benefit not only ourselves, but far more importantly our families and the world in which we live. True disciples of Christ...always leading, never pushing or bossing.

I was especially touched by a message given by our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson. He spoke beautifully on finding joy in the journey of this life. For someone like me, who does not like to be bossed and wants to make all of her own decisions, you would think I don't need anyone's "permission" for anything. But, I could have jumped for joy as I heard this spiritual giant tell me it is okay to sometimes just live in the moment, that we should not overlook today because we are so busy looking toward tomorrow.

He said, "Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved." Ahhhh, words I have longed to hear. From a pulpit, the message was clear: No matter what I am doing, no matter what bill needs to be paid, or bathroom needs to be scrubbed, I can stop and paint Chloe's nails, play Army guys with Cole, or have Cade teach me to paint. No matter what load of laundry is waiting, I can stop and watch a movie with Jared. I have heard messages on this topic before, but never with such power. This time, the difference for me was the overwhelming feeling of "I can" rather than one more "I should". "I can" actually have fun before "I should" check one more thing off my to do list! Find the joy in the journey. You will miss these moments later.

I felt relief as he spoke. I felt free. I knew that this man, although he does not know me personally, trusts me. And in that moment, I knew my Heavenly Father and Savior trust me as well. They trust me with my time, with my today and my tomorrows, they trust me with my entire journey. I certainly never needed "permission" to find joy in the journey, that would be contrary to what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about. But, it felt amazing to hear his words of wisdom. Thank you President Monson for sharing your message in a way that makes this stubborn mule, not-to-be bossed snarky belle, believe she is making all the decisions herself.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Diagnosis Just In: I'm Bully Intolerant

I was once told that I would "see in my fellow beings that which is beautiful and pure". That I would "not look upon the faults of mankind", but be "compassionate especially unto the poor and the needy, and those who suffer afflictions". I have to tell you this is something that pulls at my heart each day. I get so fired up by the countless injustices I see in this world...literally, it eats at me. I have this innate drive to fight for the little guy, to cheer for the underdog. Unfortunately, with that drive comes a true disdain for the bullies of this world. Because you see, I really believe that many of the earth's problems could be boiled right down to one word...bully.

Bullies really bug me. You can find them anywhere you go. They come in all shapes, sizes, ethnicities and colors...tall, short, fat, skinny, rich, poor, Christian, Atheist, on a playground or in a nursing home. They are the people who see a "Lane Ends, Merge Right" sign and instead of politely merging, they speed ahead and nose their way into the line as you sit and wait your turn....NO, I do not even consider letting them nose in front of me! Bullies belittle, demean, and browbeat. They use intimidation and condescension to make themselves known. They are hungry for power/recognition and will attempt to devour anyone who is different or stands in their way.

Due to recent events, politics has pushed bullying to the forefront of my mind. Just to prove you can not escape the Couric/Palin fiasco, I have a few words to write about that. Would I like to know more about where Sarah Palin stands on important issues, you bet! Would I like to see her more comfortably/articulately answering tough questions, you bet! But, I do NOT want to see anyone bullied. There is a tremendous difference between interviewing and browbeating, huge differences in straightforward, direct tactics and condescending ridicule coming in through the backdoor.

And how about "the ladies of The View"? I have tried, desperately I might add, to tune out that show. But, I just can't. It amazes me every time I see it...and not in a good way. Often I find my mouth is just hanging agape. It is completely and utterly irrelevant to me where you stand on the issues; however, could you please just tell me that you find the spankings Elisabeth Hasselbeck endures each day somewhat disturbing? Do you see her being ridiculed for her beliefs...even if you disagree? If not, then you like many others in our society have fallen victim to a little something I call Bully Tolerance. I for one am Bully Intolerant!

When someone tells me they do not believe in God, or that they support partial birth abortion, or that the soldiers in Iraq are "just wasting our money and their own time", I don't get all emotionally frenzied. I certainly never feel the need to belittle or demean anyone else. I make an attempt at intelligent discussion...and yes, depending on who I am speaking with, that can be challenging.

Why is it that if I (a Christian mother who believes in the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of life, the need for welfare reform so that those who truly need it most can be lifted, and the importance of national security) stand firm for what I believe, bullies call me emotional, they say I am fanatical? These same people will digress to name-calling, raising voices and flipping me off when they see the campaign sticker on my car...maybe I am confused here, but it seems only one of us is suffering a loss of the temper, and it isn't me.

My bully intolerance really flares up when I accidentally ingest a dose of MSNBC, NPR, or The New York Times....uh-oh, I'm pretty sure I just threw up in my mouth a little. Pages could be written on the ways that our media bullies us. Yes, they really do. I am finding that it is often subtle and crafty, but it is there nonetheless. And while I am on this topic, can I just say I am so past hearing that this year we have some golden opportunity to vote in "the most historic election of all times". In my opinion, every election is historic. I have always been grateful for the opportunity to vote. The names Barack Obama and Sarah Palin listed on a ballot do not make me any more grateful for the opportunity to vote. Frankly I think it is sad that people feel more inclined to vote this year because those two names have made their way to a ballot. (Cue the hate mail.....)

I thought the whole point of the Civil Rights Movement, a movement that so many truly amazing people led and also died for, as well as the point of women being beaten and jailed so others could gain the privilege of voting, was to show that we are all important. Each one of us matters. Maybe I am naive? I was not at all shocked when Obama became a presidential nominee, not at all surprised when a woman was chosen for a national ticket. I understand that racism and sexism exist today, but I also believe that this is a great country. I believe that even though there are bullies in every crowd, they are overwhelmingly outnumbered by the silent majority who treasure and value every human life! If you are just figuring this out because of Obama and Palin, then you have possibly fallen prey to the bullyish spinnings of a media that wants nothing more than for us to fear, and hate, and despise one another. They have to fill 24 hours with something; unfortunately, it seems as though feeding upon our misconceptions and insecurities sells. Hmmmm, now I have to think on more ways to stop buying the crap they sell.

Are you Bully Intolerant? I certainly hope so. Do not let anyone bully you. You do not have to accept the bullies' pitch that we are a nation of racists and sexists. I hope you will stand proud in your voting booth, grateful to be part of this nation. I hope you vote based on your own personal ideals and values, unswayed by race or gender. Because if you truly embrace what this country can and should be, you look beyond both.

I have often been called feisty. In the past, I didn't think that was too complimentary. I think I will now wear that descriptor as a badge of honor. I don't think I could stand up to the bullies without having some feisty in me. As I balance seeing in others that which is beautiful and pure/not looking on mankind's faults with following my God-given instinct to speak up for what is true and right, feisty definitely comes in handy.

p.s. Journalists Couric and Walters, lay off the snarkiness...that's my gig!