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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Isabellas New Friend And Teen Mom

I went to two open houses this week and might I say it was not like any I had been to before. Oh sure the academics were the same, the hand outs, the this is what we expect, were going to have a great year! All the normal hoora hoora you typically hear, but these were different in the sense that, you really knew there was going to be no parent involvement, no sense of ownership of the school, no value for  the school or for what the students were doing. As Coleman and I walked around that very large middle school with so few parents, maybe 100 out of 2000 were there, I could feel a sense of poverty and hopelessness, a feeling of abandonment and a sense that there are children that live day to day with parents who didnt even know if they went to school that day, if they had breakfast, or if they had fears about starting middle school. As Cole stuck close to me for his security and reassurance I thought to myself God in 15 years how will these kids as adults interact? They have had no security, no sense of stability, most of their parents are out of work, most dont know both parents and without building your life on a foundation outside this world that is basiscally a financial and ecological mess it breeds an anger and bitterness that will destroy the human spirit. Cole has a boy right now that if he takes his medicine, he sleeps all day, if he doesn't, he is angry and throw his books. He has been in 6 foster homes, he is 11. The stats for his school is almost 90% receives free lunches. The income level is  what they call the working poor. Which breeds very desperate and alot times dangerous kids. The draw to things and acceptance will make you do things you never imaged possible. Especially when you are wanting to be accepted. Poverty is a horrible, horrible thing, it never leaves you, you take it with you to Mcdonalds, to the grocery store, to your kids school, any where you go, people know, you cant escape it, you cant hide it. The car you get out of  tells the truth, your clothes tell the truth, your shoes tell the truth , even the glasses the state gives to medicaid children tell the truth, they are all the same, so everyone knows who the poor kids are, no Guess or cute ones, once again poverty shines, you just cant escape it. It is a spirit that gets inside that childs soul that whispers that somehow because they have less, they are  worth less as a human being, even there demeir or posture reflects how they feel as a individual being. It is so easy to read their body language. Even Isabella with her body issues and also being the new student, bounced in bubbly and chatty into a new environment, because her soul, her spirit, is of value, has worth, it is not based on her Dad having a job or where we live or what we drive, we have taught her, to value God, her worth comes from who He is, He holds her future, He holds our families future not our circumstances. So as I found myself in dilemma of how do you mix light with dark? Not that these children are dark, but let me explain, Bella came home just talking my ear off about a new friend and her favorite show was Teen Mom. Well my ears perked up and as she chatted on, her little friends favorite show is Teen Mom, her 16 year old sister has a baby and all she wants to do is have a baby and be on teen Mom. 8 years old! So Bella says, dont worry Mom you have to be 18 to have a baby! My heart broke, as she continued she told me this little girl also wanted a lunch box for Christmas, if she won the lottery she wouldnt spend any of it, she would save it for bills, it was heartbreaking. So back to my dilemma. Isabella has never even seen teen Mom so I asked her what she said, she said Mom, I said you have to be married to have a baby and the baby has to be bored in a church! These kids still have speech problems and they're talking about babies, it's not the way it was meant to be. So I spoke to the teacher and she said she would sit with them at lunch and at least cool some of this adult talk for a while. As I went to pick  Bella up I saw that little girl walking home all by herself, and Bella was just in shock that she was alone, how will she know where to go, what if someone gets her, what if her Mom isn't home, what if she gets thirsty? The list went on and on. Issues too complicated for me to even to try and explain, I just tried my best to get her distracted. My concern is this, family just doesn't exist anymore, not traditional family that is, kids will have as many as 9 adults in and out of their lives by the time they are are 18. And statistics say that one of those wont even be a biological parent. When people hear we have a 21 year old the first thing they ask is, do your children have the same father? Emma says  her friends think we are from another planet to even consider that a couple would not "live" together first, kinda like a trial run before they get married. But, without a bases of God help direct our lives because we in  of ourselves cannot navigate it ourselves, look around it is obvious we cannot manage it. Even the non religious folks are aware that whatever we are doing is not working. They just wont bring themselves to bend their knee to the one who can truely help.The hurt I see through the friends of my children breaks my heart. My first instinct as a Mama is to pull them out and never let them leave the house. But, as I wrote early on, I have felt since a little girl that I had a special draw to people that society felt had no value. So as I spent my private time in prayer I made a decision to not just throw my children to the wind but to let them be a light in place where it very dark. I will use wisdom and be cautious, my very first obligation is the safety and emotional health of my own children. And let just say they are more than happy and well adjusted kids. With that said, there certainly wont be any sleep overs at these children's houses, or social gatherings, but I will invite them into our home, offer to drive them to church with our family, befriend the Mom, start talking to Isabella and Cole about social issue that as they grow up they will have to face. Because as they grow into adulthood these children as adults will carry alot of baggage unless they allow God to heal the wounds they suffered as children. Bitterness can be a very difficult thing to overcome. I heard a little boy ask his mother, in a hostile angry voice with murder in his eyes, why wasnt I born to a rich Dad? He had duck tape keeping his tennis shoes  together on the end. So we as a family, them as individuals will  extend compassion, extend our faith, extend the faith our family believes, extend the faith that has sustain our family through this very difficult time and maybe through them one child can find hope, can find a future that is meant for good not pain and uncertainty.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Navigating A New System, God Bless America

This has been one of those weeks I would like to forget. And I guess if I had to sit with a therapist and tell them what made it so bad one particular incident in and of itself was not so bad but, you when you add 100 of those things together  it becomes monumental. MONEY, what a dirty ugly word, yes, it does make the world go around, but it also makes good people bad, pretty people ugly, ugly people pretty, and let me tell you it would make alot of good peoples' lives alot easier. Just a little bit would make such a hugh difference in a families life that is living week to week, and one slip up could mean their very demise. What a mind boggling thing to think, what abject fear, fear that is, if you don't live your life with the assurance that God oversees the lives of His people. And even with that knowledge, knowledge I have had my entire life, I still battle fear and doubt. We are just weak by nature. I knew the "list" was coming, which is a list the kids get from their school for all the supplies they need for the year. When you times that times three it can cost well over 100.00. My kids backpack had been in great shape at the start of last school year. They were expensive name brands and  were going on 4 school yrs old, but just this past year I knew we would have to get new ones. Wyatt, also, had grown so much his looked like a baby backpack on a grown man. So as I laid in bed at night crying out to God that ole' feeling of anger and blame and bad attitudes begin to build. I found myself almost unable to pray. Have you ever been in a place were you just could'nt pray? The only time I have difficulty is when I allow anger or that attitude of "why me" to creep in. Well, this week has been full of those attitudes and questions. And not only for myself but also for the people I love. My Emma, who has  ripped out my heart at times, who also has my heart, has had a very troubling week and 2 of my very dear friends have had difficult weeks also. I came to Florida with the misconception that getting the children's insurances and our benefits from the state would'nt  be as emotionally draining as it has been, because anytime you have to accept gifts or hand outs form anyone or any institution it is an emotionally taxing thing. If you are a person of character and a person who likes to do your part be a contributor not a taker. I dont view our government as a pie in sky unlimitless entity, we the people are our government, and it hurts me when I have to accept monies from her. I view our nation as more than big government I view it as something I love, as ownership, I feel vested in my country, and it pains me to tax it with the burden of my family. Well what I failed to realize was the shear volume of Florida compared to North Carolina. When I went in to see someone about getting our benefits changed over, I had quite the shock. In North Carolina you go into an office you sit with someone, their office is personal and they have their own phone line, a coffee pot, pictures of their family, and they remain your contact until you or something changes.. Even a month later I got calls from my contact in North Carolina making sure we were settled. I get to the Department of Children and Families in Florida and it is a big room lined with computers. I sit and imput our information and the receptionist says  someone will call me for my phone interview to expedite my benefits.. So I wait and I wait and I wait. Well I have done this enough to know there are deadlines, and the only number I have is a number that the mailbox that is full, so I write 2 letters and continue calling 10 times a day hoping she will clean out her mail box or luck up and she answer her phone. No such luck, we missed the deadline! When I got the letter, obviously,we had missed the deadline, my knees felt weak and I felt completely helpless and so small in such a large system. I needed someone to see face to face. I felt like I was going to throw up. I was physically sick. You dont just call and say oops we missed this can you put me back in the system. I knew outside of a miracle we were in for a long, hard road. The children started school in less than a week, we had no medical insurance, the kids had several medications that would expire soon  and we had very little funds left for food. So as I sat down at my table in what many would say is a dilapidated trailer, my own son out of hurt and loss for leaving family and friends in North Carolina had referred to it as dilapidated and beyond repair, I found myself once again at the mercy of God. God you will have to move the hearts of men, and if you don't you will have to make another way. I got up, not completely convinced, but at least mobile and went about making dinner. I got my phone to send Emma a text and saw that I had a voicemail. It was Rite-aid in North Carolina, and for some reason, one which I am sure was the hand of God, every one of our prescriptions had been filled and paid for the very last of the month. We weren't  even in North Carolina that last day of the month! So I stood there in shock and yes, once again, shame! I called Emma and she picked them up and mailed them to me and at least bought me another month to try and navigate this monster I found myself in. It also renewed my spirit and I drove to where I had filled out all the paperwork and I asked to speak to the receptionist in private. She said there is no need for that I am just a receptionist, we dont need to speak in private, I don't know anything about anything. I said well do you know enough to tell someone behind that door that I am not leaving this premises until someone comes out and gives me an interview. You will have to call the police to get me to leave, I AM NOT leaving, I don't know what else to do, I am desperate and my children will be hungry. So if you can't tell them I will wait til the close of the day and when they pass me to leave I will tell them myself. Well, she could not get out of her seat fast enough, and I got my interview that day on the spot in the waiting room. And I thanked them and told them how much I appreciated them and how grateful my family was to the state of Florida and this great country for once again affording my family insurance and food. How often we criticize and point out the bad  over all the great things as citizens we are given. I had my benefits within 7 days. But the benefits are really not the jest of this post, I think  what I am learning, as I live day by day this life I certainly didn't envision myself  living, not at 45 anyway, is not letting everything around me get such a grip on my me that it literally cripples me. Truth be said as I look back, God has always been faithful and things have always somehow worked out. And we will always face things that will knock you down, can make you foul, make you a hater, make you wanna blame someone,  or it can make you realize that you really never had control over these things anyway, and God untimely guides our lives!  The American spirit has said, "We can do anything we set our minds to and anything we set out to do!"  While I applaud the recognition of the creative spirit in mankind, the idea that we can control our lives and our destinies is a little fraudulent.  The successful people you meet like to tell you about their determination, their mental powers, their drive, but they never are willing to recall the hundreds of uncontrolled parts of their lives which are responsible for them being where they are.  It just all goes back to our weaknesses of wanting to be seen as much more than we really are, our self-centeredness, our egos!  Gratitude and respect, or compassion, for all of humankind is the most essential of human qualities and we can all have that no matter how good or bad our lives.  Sometimes God allows us a measure of pain to remember that, and that, certainly, is a Good Thing!