October, 2012

October, 2012
October 2012

Friday, June 21, 2013

Have I Told You About My Daughter?

If you know my family, then you know we are the parents of four children.  Each unique in their own way.  Sometimes it is the kind of uniqueness that makes me want to pull my hair out.  Other times it is the kind of uniqueness that qualifies as take my breathe away and melt my heart kind of stuff.  One thing is for sure, in my 24 years of parenting so far if I was keeping a running total, I am pretty sure the pull my hair out count would be astronomical in comparison to those melt my heart moments.  Yet, as any parent would tell you, the specifics of crazy moments fade away but details of the good stay in your heart forever.

So today, I want to tell you about just one of my children.  Brooke.   Because I am realizing more and more that Brooke, possibly more than my other children, symbolizes my evolution as a parent.  Why just Brooke? Well, I won't lie, Brooke and I have always had a contentious relationship.  She can be, for lack of a better word, complicated.  Because of that I think sometimes it is easy to overlook the fact that she is exactly what I have hoped my children would be....I just wasn't seeing it.  I wasn't giving her credit where credit was due.

Just a little while ago, Brooke came upstairs after she had been helping her Papa.  Turns out she was helping him of all things, trim nose hair and ear hair. Yes, you read that correctly.  Most thirteen year old children would run screaming from this sort of thing, but not Brooke.  He can't see to do those kinds of personal tasks anymore, so she doesn't hesitate to help him.

This type of helpfulness isn't just reserved for her grandparents.  A few days ago we were in Walmart.  I was busy thinking about my grocery list and passed a lady in one of the motorized carts. I remember wishing she would get out of the way.  I went around her.  About that time I hear a familiar voice say, "Can I help you find something?"   I turn around and watch as Brooke helps the lady look for crackers.  I had to swallow hard to not cry.  Most kids would have walked on just like I did.  Not Brooke.  This happens all of the time and isn't reserved for elderly people.  Children, elderly, and all in between.  Doesn't matter to Brooke.  She has the most compassion for people I have ever seen in one so young.

I said that Brooke was a symbol of my evolution as a parent.  Trust me, I know I can't take full credit for her heart.  That is who she is...how God made her. Yet as a parent, I have always taught my children that it won't matter how pretty or successful you are in life, what is on the inside is what counts.  Don't be afraid to take chances, but understand that means you have to accept your mistakes. Be honest with others, but start by being honest with yourself.  If you make a fool out of yourself, laugh and go on...don't let it define you.  I am more worried about how they will be as human beings in this world than I am academic or financial success.  Truthfully though, there are times I have wondered if I was giving the wrong advice.  What if I am wrong and should have pushed them towards more "popular" definitions of success.  Maybe I haven't been a good enough parent. Scary thought for me.

I have been spouting my wisdom nuggets for so long, I was pretty sure they were being completely ignored.  Turns out, I was the one who wasn't paying close enough attention.  They were listening. Brooke especially was listening.  For all of her frustrating moments she is precisely what I wanted my children to be.  She makes me proud and I just wanted everyone to know it!

****Ashley, Anna, and Ben... you know I love you all more than life. I know what you all are thinking as I go on and on about Brooke.   Just so you know, I see these qualities in all of you.  You are all what I hope for!   The way Ben will give his last dime to a person on the street or the coin collection boxes wherever we go.  Anna,  your love of all creatures and your trusting soul. Ashley, your gentle spirit and big heart even if you try to be cool and collected all the time!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pattern Play

A card I made for an online card class--Pattern Play.  Lil' Inker Designs balloon stamps and dies, Paper Smooches sentiment stamp, Birthday Sampler.

Please excuse this blog....I normally only write here, not post cards!   Made more sense to just use this than make a new blog!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I Am The Greatest

Stop. Don't read another word until you watch the video above. Trust me on this, it is important to the story and not just a chance to share my strange love of Kenny Rogers. Yes. You read that right. Kenny Rogers. When you grow up in a house where your parents were convinced that all modern music would lead to drug abuse, you learn to like Kenny Rogers, The Statler Brothers, and the Oakridge Boys. That, however, is another story.

 "I Am The Greatest". Remember that song...it is important to my story. As far back as I can remember, I liked to be doing something. I really don't think it mattered what I did, but I was always doing something. I couldn't sit still. This often included crazy things like dragging everything out of my closets and drawers and reorganizing it. Today we call that ADD or OCD or something with a D on the end of it. To me then, as it remains today, I thought it was fun to be busy.

Mostly though, a large part of my childhood years were spent making things. I learned to sew and did a lot of cross stitch and embroidery that my mom would then have framed. A couple of those things are still hanging in this house. I colored, painted and glued my way through my childhood. Oh and I can't forget latch hook and string art. I say can't forget because if you have ever nailed 500 tiny nails into a pattern and then spent countless hours winding thread around those nails until you form a picture, you don't forget it. Ever. That particular project won a grand champion ribbon at the state fair and for all of that work, I deserved it! The strings formed a picture of two mallards flying over cattails. It was beautiful and hung in my parent's den for years.

My desire to make things didn't stop at crafts. I loved cooking just as much. That was a bit more complicated though since the kitchen was my mother's domain. Trust me on this, if my mother was busy in the kitchen, your best bet was to stay out of the way. Don't ask questions and certainly don't get under her feet. There was important stuff going on there. So I learned to sit quietly in the chair and watch. I watched and I learned.

Are you wondering yet how this relates to the Kenny Rogers song? I Am The Greatest. That is how I felt as a child. Everything I made was absolutely gorgeous because I thought it was. When my mother finally caved in and let me cook in her kitchen, everything I made tasted so good my Dad would ask for seconds.

Well, not exactly. If I am being honest here, then I have to tell you I wasn't always very good at what I was doing. At all. I was allowed to cook mostly if my Mom wasn't going to be home. Even though my Mom was a teacher, she had to work several weeks into the summer on home projects with her students. Those were the weeks when the kitchen was mine. I would find elaborate recipes and get to work. Problem is, a lot of those recipes would flop. My solution. I would dump the food in the garbage can and start all over again. Sometimes I would spend all day working on a simple meal and dessert. On those days when my Mom came home, she developed a habit of checking the garbage can. Sometimes she would laugh, but mostly she would grumble about the waste, then add all of the ingredients I had used to her grocery list.

Singing, dancing, playing the piano. Sewing, drawing, painting, string art and latch hook. Growing vegetables. Cooking. A childhood full of things to do and learn. A childhood full of blunders, successes, and garbage cans full of wasted food. Gosh, it was terrific. Fast forward 30 years and I find that I am still that child. Always busy. Making things. Trying new recipes. Although I do find that since I am now paying for the ingredients, I tend to make sure they don't end up in the garbage can.

Just like the boy in the song, there are days when I start out in the kitchen thinking I am greatest chef that ever lived. Then I realize it is just a pot roast, but still it is the greatest pot roast ever made in a crock pot. Then crafting, well lets just say I am a bit obsessed. I envision myself as an artist at the start of every project but the truth is, sometimes it looks like one of the kids did it. Still, "I Am The Greatest" plays in my head.

I hope my children learn from me that everything they try in life will not result in greatness. We may not always live up to our own visions of ourselves. That, more so than what others think of us, is what will keep us moving forward or standing still. They will have plenty of failures, but even more successes. The key is to never quit trying. To look at what you have accomplished and be proud, even if it isn't perfect. Even if you throw it in the garbage can, try it again.

Jason was standing watching me make a card the other night. I was carefully applying ink in a variety of colors. He just stared. I said, "What?" He said, "I am just trying to figure out what you are doing." I was kind of irritated. "Can't you see I am making something here?" "Oh. OK." Truthfully, he is catching on. I used to take everything I made to show him. I would ask him what he thought. He would say, "It's a card." UGH. He caught on, and now he says "Yeah, that's a great card!" (Emphasis on exclamation point) Even he knows I am the greatest. Ha! Ok. Not really, but he knows I am close!

Monday, June 18, 2012


I like to write.  For me, it is cathartic.  I ramble on and on when something is on my mind and I have to get it out.  Today is one of those days.  A subject matter that I have had battles with for the past several years.  Bullying.  So today, as the saying goes, I have a bee in my bonnet...and it has to come out.  

I slept with the TV on last night.  That happens many nights if I forget to set the sleep timer to turn it off once I have fallen asleep.  So this morning the first thing I heard as I was in between asleep and awake was a story on Good Morning America.  The gist of the story was that a teacher has lost her job over how she decided to handle a bullying situation in her classroom.  She apparently lined her kindergartners up and allowed each of them to hit the bully. I imagine most people would react with disgust at the teacher.  What I am about to say may finally verify that I am crazy, but my first thought was more along the lines of "bless her heart".  Yes, I feel sorry for the teacher. Maybe I should clarify before anyone signs off on my insanity paperwork...

As far back as I can remember in my life, I have known bullies.  I feel fairly certain we can all say that.  Growing up it was the kids who seemed to get pleasure out of doing things that would get another kid laughed at.  Kids who picked on weaker kids until they had them in tears.  Although it is hard for me to say, I can also admit now there were times I was the bully.  Back then we didn't we didn't call it bullying.  In fact, I can't remember it having a specific name at all.  What I do remember though is if you bullied or were a bully and you got in trouble for it, you would REALLY be in trouble for it.  Getting in trouble meant something totally different 35 years ago.  I didn't want to get spanked or grounded and I was afraid of disappointing my parents.  That was the worst...disappointing my parents.  

Now we have given bullying a platform.  We hear about it on the news, there are laws, beautiful anti-bullying posters hanging in schools, school boards and law makers who spend hours developing and debating policies which will deal with the "issue" of bullying.  Yet for all of that does anyone actually know what happens to a child who is found to be a bully to others at school?  What exactly are the consequences?  Are there consequences for repeat offenders?  In fact how do schools define which behaviors are considered bullying behaviors?  As a parent of children who have been bullied and having taught and seen bullying in the classroom and how it was handled by the school, I can tell you it is ambiguous at best.  This is why my first reaction to the story this morning was bless her heart.  As with most things in life, we arrive at the feelings and opinions we have because of our own life experiences.  For me, bullying, and especially how bullying is handled in the schools, touches a chord because of the pain I have watched my own children go through.  

When Ashley was around 2, she had a friend that bit her ALL OF THE TIME. This went on for over a year. There was no reason for it.  In fact, she would smile when she did it.  Now you might think the solution was simple....keep her away from that child. The problem was I was good friends with her mother. We spent a lot of time together. Beyond the biting, the girls actually played together really well. I began to notice that it mostly happened when her mother wasn't watching and one particular day, I had enough.  We were eating outside and her mom went in the house for something and she reached over and bit Ashley.  No reason.  I snapped and told Ashley to bite her back.  Ashley wouldn't do it, so I did.  I didn't bite down hard, but enough that she looked at me with huge eyes. She didn't cry. Of course my next thought was I have probably just lost my friend and Ashley has probably lost hers. Funny thing though...when her mom came back out, the little girl didn't say a thing.  It was as if nothing had happened.  She never bit Ashley again.  Was I right in what I did?  No.  I was a bully. To this day though, I can't tell you what a solution would have been other than severing the friendship and I didn't want that. 

Fast forward about 15 years and Ashley is a senior at Danville High School.  We had moved here halfway through Ashley's junior year.  Not the best time to move a teenager.  Can be difficult to fit into a new school at any age, but doing the move during the turbulent teenage years and at this particular school proved to be really emotionally difficult for Ashley.  It wasn't that Ashley was picked on, it just that ever lingering feeling that she didn't fit into this group of kids who for the most part had been together all of their school years.  The time for prom came and Ashley didn't have a date yet.  One day, a couple of boys got a really brilliant idea.  They would make a flyer to get her a prom date.  The flyer stated something to the effect of "Ashley Arms will put out for a date to the prom".  As I said, brilliant idea.  These boys then, with the permission of the teacher, went to make copies.  I would like to think the teacher didn't look at what was being copied, instead just trusted that these fine young men weren't up to no good and gave them the code to use the copier.  After the copies were made, they distributed them by throwing them over the balcony into the lobby of the school at about the time school was letting out.  

Ashley came home in tears.  I went to the school and talked to the assistant principal.  Here is the point in the story where I formed my opinion that there are no clear cut rules on how to deal with bullying behaviors in the schools no matter how much lip service they give to the anti-bullying platforms.  He actually said to me "Oh, that is what those flyers were.  I saw them on the floor but didn't read them."  I knew who had done this but when I told him his response was "Really.  I can't believe those boys would do that.  They are good kids."  He said he would TALK to them about it.  Nothing ever happened.  No consequence. What happened that day was the very heart of why bullying is wrong.  No one should ever feel the way she did that day. As parents we are falsely led to believe that sending our child to a school with an anti-bullying platform provides some form of protection.  I thought that.  I walked out that day thinking the boys would have a consequence.  What I actually ended up feeling was that they are providing lip service to a cause for which they have no plan of action.  My daughter was humiliated in a way that no child should be humiliated.  My heart broke with hers.  To this day, it hurts me to think about it and I know it still bothers her. The one positive that may have come from that day actually came from the boy who did the deed.  He called Ashley before I even knew what had happened and apologized.  He did that on his own when he realized, a little to late to take it back, how much he had hurt her. I believe that what the assistant principal said about him was correct.  He probably was a good kid.  That didn't mean there shouldn't have been a consequence for his actions.  

Same school system...different child.  When Brooke was in the 3rd grade there was a girl who picked on Brooke.  I think I should preface this story with a little info about Brooke herself.  My tender hearted girl, whom I love more than life, can't take a joke.  A little teasing between sisters or friends can send her into a tantrum.  I believe this is how the problem began.  Another girl, who was picking at her because she knew that she could get Brooke going.  There was this back and forth of her picking and Brooke reacting.  Frustrating to me and to her teacher.  I also spoke to the principal about it and I believe her teacher did as well. Still though, Brooke would come home crying and as usual I would ask her what she was doing to exasperate the problem.  I would talk to her about not reacting.  I was in a sense, discounting her feelings....blaming the victim basically. I now, several years later, realize that this is one of the cores of bullying that make it so hard to clearly define for many people. The "she's asking for it" way of thinking. Nothing changed and I was feeling the frustration of wanting the school to stop the girl from picking on Brooke.  Problem was, I was a teacher in the school.  I couldn't say with 100% certainty that was the reason nothing was done, but it sure felt that way.  So, in my usual not thinking sort of way, I decided to take matters into my own hands.  Brooke came up to me in the lunchroom one day crying.  Same story different day.  I walked over to the girl who was standing in line with her class and told her that I had had enough.  That I wanted her to stop picking on Brooke.  Although I was acting like a parent, I didn't say anything to her I wouldn't have said to my own students if they were picking on a classmate.  I wasn't yelling or even being any louder than usual. I am sure you can guess what happened next.  I got reprimanded.  Even though this had gone on for a couple of months with no resolution, I was in trouble for acting like a parent during school hours.  Did I make the wrong decision, and again, like with the biting story, was I being a bully?  Probably.  Did the behavior stop.  Yes.  I didn't hear about any problems from Brooke and the little girl for the rest of the year. Why though, was nothing done at the school level?  Why did I feel the need to wear the parent hat that day?  Well, that takes me back to school policy.  Do they clearly know what constitutes bullying? Yes, maybe I have a child who seems to ask for it with some of her behaviors but isn't the essence of bullying based on how the person being bullied feels and not our perception of how they feel? Again,consequences. Are they applied across the board no matter who you are or who your parents are?  Very similar to Ashley's situation in that who the child was played a role in how it was handled.  Who I was played a role in how it was handled for Brooke.  I should also add in an interesting twist that just last year Brooke came to me and said that the girl had "friended" her on Facebook and she had accepted.  I had a split second of "that's probably not a good idea" run through my head, and then dismissed it.  Well, it was only a few days later that Brooke came back to me and said the girl was being mean on Facebook for no reason.  I looked at what had been posted and checked Brooke's messages to make sure she hadn't provoked or anything and she hadn't.  I felt a bit vindicated....the girl is a bully plain and simple.  She always was.  This time I could act like a parent with no repercussions.  I made Brooke delete her.

I had other bad experiences in the classroom where I realized sending them to the office was getting me nowhere.  I had a known bully push a child that was standing at the urinal.  It scared him and he soaked the front of his pants.  He didn't come out of the bathroom but my bully was already out and back in line.  I called in for him and when he got to where I could see him he was crying and completely embarrassed.  I asked him if he had an accident and that is when he told me his version of what happened.  I got the kids back in the classroom and then talked to my bully.  By now he had figured out that being truthful with me was his best bet and he gave me the same version of the story.  When I asked him why he said he thought it was funny.  I sent him to the office thinking he would have a consequence....he was a repeat, repeat, repeat offender after all.  When he came back I asked him what the principal wanted him to do.  Nothing he said.  He didn't have a consequence.  Surprising?  Not really.  It wasn't even recorded in the electronic system where behavior problems are recorded. My own children have lost recess for things less offensive.

This brings me back to the teacher in Texas who has now lost her job and possibly her teaching career over a bad decision.  Of course there is always more to a story than what we know. I said "bless her heart" because I wonder how much support the school had given her with the bully in her classroom.  Had she experienced what I had?  You ask for and expect help but don't get it. I think you don't have to think too hard to realize this came at the end of the school year and she had probably dealt with it all year.  Did the school have a CLEAR policy.  Had they implemented that policy?  How did she end up in a situation where she made such a disastrous choice? The article mentioned that she was a young teacher.  As a young teacher was she given the support and CLEAR answers on how to deal with the situation?  I feel for her. I hope it is an opportunity for the school to reflect on what they could have done differently as well and not pretend it was solely her fault.  

I want to make one more point before I go.  I am not putting this all on the schools exactly.  Parents play a role as well.    In fact, parents may just be the roadblock to solving the problem.  I know having taught, that teachers often fear parents.  We don't quite know how to tell them like it really is without fear of getting our heads bitten off.  I have to wonder in the case of Ashley's prom incident if they were afraid of the boy's parents. Maybe we as parents stand in the way of schools implementing clearer consequences for student's actions. It is just as important for parents to have a clear understanding of bullying as it is for schools to have better ways of handling it. I want to be able to teach my children what bullying really is and the correct way to handle it and how to make sure they don't become bullies themselves.  How they treat others will be just as important to the development of their moral character as how they are treated.  I have started calling it out in my own home and even with their friends.  We aren't going to pick at people for our own satisfaction without consequences.    

The bee is out of my bonnet now!


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

The kids started working on my Mother's Day present several weeks ago.  I wasn't allowed to peek and I wasn't supposed to be listening.  Of course a mother is always listening.  For me the memory of this Mother's Day gift will not be the gift itself but the memories of listening as they talked about each page and laughed together.  Oh, and the usual sibling arguments. I hope one day when they are older and going through things from their childhood, they will come across this and remember not what was said on paper, but the time they spent together.  That is what I will remember and treasure. They are my greatest gift.  

Friday, March 30, 2012

God's Grace? Me?

You ever wonder why it seems that some people seem to come out of something ok and others don't.  You often hear "Therefore but by the grace of God go I".  Is it the grace of God that one life will be blessed and another isn't?  Does that mean that God didn't grace that person?  

Truthfully, I had never really put the words "God's grace" and "Laura's life" in the same realm until about a week ago.  I was at church to pick Brooke up from youth group and I got to talking to the youth minister and associate pastor.  Kristi knows a lot of my life story and so through the course of conversation she was telling me that I should really share my story.  She said my life had been touched by God's grace in many ways and it would be a good story to share with youth.  She went on to say that youth really struggle with their identity and don't often see the gifts they have. They can get stuck in their uncertainty and miss the doors that God is opening for them.   The initial reaction in my head was that I definitely do not need to talk to youth...she must be crazy.  I said that I didn't mind sharing my story one on one with people or here in the "privacy" of this blog....but talking in front of a group of people about it would feel odd.  Yes, my life has somewhat been a story of survival....born to an unwed mother, given up for adoption, sexual abuse survivor,  young unmarried mother, etc. I am hesitant to speak to in a group setting because I don't want people to think my life has been sad. I have never seen my life that way. It doesn't require people to feel sorry for me. Yet, as I drove home I couldn't get what she said to me out of my head.  God's grace?  I always thought I was just stubborn and unwilling to let life get me down. 

As usual, I have spent the last week obsessing over this thought. My mind can't rest until I figure it out.  I even googled "God's grace".  I mean if you want to understand something you Google it, right?   Here is some of what I found:

Grace is God showing His love to you even though you MAY THINK you don't deserve it.
Grace isn't a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It's a way to live.

“Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue. -Eugene Gladstone O'Neill (1888-1953)  

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace - only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.” -Anne Lamott

The more I read, the more I understood what Kristi had meant, but it left me with a new set of questions to ponder.  Why is it then that my life has been touched by grace, when others with similar stories have not turned out as well?  Aren't they touched by grace? 

To understand what I mean I want to tell you a story about a boy named Sammie.  

I never knew there was anyone in my Dad's family line named Sammie.  My dad is,  and has always been obsessed with family history and geneology...and yet I had never heard that name.  Then about 4 or 5 years ago, I was doing research on Ancestry.com.  I periodically search in vane for my birth father and also for more of my birth mother's history.  This particular day I thought I would look up my dad's census records from the early 1920's.  I thought it would be interesting....I got more than I ever bargained for.  There it was.  The last name listed for the household...Samie Arms.  Age 12.  Boy Baring. Hum.  What does "boy baring" mean?  So I asked my dad, not realizing this may be a problem.

"Dad, who is Samie Arms?"


"Samie Arms.  His name is listed on the census records from 1920 that he lived in your house.  He is listed as "boy baring" and I don't know what that means."

"Oh."   LONG PAUSE.  "Well, I believe my dad was married before my mother and that is his son."


WHAT?  There was another son?  I was so shocked I just changed the subject. My head was spinning a bit.  Why wasn't he called son on the records?  What was with this "boy baring " thing? My entire life all I have heard about is Arms family history.  My dad even wrote his memoirs, probably a hundred pages, and not one mention of anyone named Samie.  There are stories of the other siblings, cousins, neighbors.  Probably everyone in Clay County, Tennessee.  Nothing about Samie. No pictures.  No memories.  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  As if he never existed.  

So it doesn't take a genius to figure out that something just didn't add up.  Maybe most people would think it isn't so shocking....there is probably a "mysterious birth" story in every family if you go back far enough.  Problem is, I am not just any person.  I myself am a "mysterious birth" story.  No one in my birth mother's family had ever heard of me either.  I kind of just "showed up" a few years ago.  I immediately connected with Samie in my mind.  I knew that some way, some how, I would find out his story. 

Here is what I know.  My grandfather was never married before my grandmother.  He had a son with a woman, whose name I still have not found.  For whatever reason, Samie (also spelled Sammie and Sammy as I have discovered in my search) ended up with his father.  He lived with them until he was around 18 years old.  Then no one ever saw him again. Amazingly though, my dad has no memories of him at all.  He was 8 years older than my dad.  No memories of where he slept, no memories of him at family meals, at church.  No memories of him going to school or working with the family on the farm.  As if he didn't exist.  The picture was becoming clearer to me.  An illegitimate child was a shame on the family.  He didn't count.  He didn't matter.  I believe without a doubt this was made very clear to him.

Information about his life is difficult to come by.  No birth records.  No church bible documentation to look at.  Believe me, I have looked.  Then finally I came across his death record and found where he was buried.  I ordered a copy of his death certificate.  He died of a heart attack in the Tompkinsville jail at the age of 45.  There is a name for his mother, but I haven't been able to find anything about her, or that a person with this name existed at all. I have also recently discovered through a message board on Ancestry that he never married or had children and that he was an alcoholic.  He lived for many years with a lady, 30 years his senior.  I do not know the connection between the two, but feel confident I will eventually find out.  I do know that although she had been widowed and had children pass away before she died in 1964, ten years after Sammy, she is buried next to him.  I take peace in that....for whatever reason, despite his trials, she loved him. 

So how is my story similar to Samie's?  Even though I too am a child born out of wedlock there are 50 years between our births.  That is a lot of time for views to change in the world.  Or did they?  Did beliefs within the mind change, or just the way these "sort of things" were handled.  Remember that memoir my dad wrote?  100 pages.  In that one hundred pages, my name is mentioned 1 time.  One sentence.  I can feel Sammy in myself.  He was one line on a census document.  I was one line in a book written by my father. A book about his family. When Brooke asks her Papa about memories of me when I was a child, he doesn't have any even though he can recant word for word conversations from 1945.  

Nothing for me though can connect me to Sammy any better than something that happened here a few months ago.  Christine, a cousin of my father's a daughter of a lady my dad had known in his young years came to visit with my parents.  When they got up to go, my dad asked Brooke to go get him "that box".  This box had belonged to my great (or great-great) grandfather and carried with him during the civil war.  Brooke brought him the box and he handed it to Christine.  He asked her to take that box and give it to someone in the Arms family.  He mentioned something about someone's children taking it.  I had never heard of these people.  Talk about an elephant in the room kind of moment.  Christine looked at me and at Brooke.  She asked Dad if he didn't want to give that to me or one of the grandchildren.  He adamantly said again that he wanted it to stay in the Arms family.  Christine looked at me again and I quietly told her not to worry, it was alright.  They left and a piece of Arms family history left with them.  

I was so angry.  I thought of Sammy again.  Wondered how much of his life had been spent hearing stories of the family history.  He even carried the family blood, but it wasn't enough.  That night I decided I would have to say something. I told Dad what he had done had hurt me.  He looked surprised and went on to explain that he had a problem because he was the end of the Arms line and he didn't know what to do about the Arms "stuff".  I pointed out that in his misplaced loyalty to the Arms name he had given "Arms" stuff to total strangers.  Strangers who have never heard the stories.  To them it might be just a box.  Then, not so nicely, I told him to look around.  I asked him who he sees.  I said "Dad, I may not carry your blood, but I am here.  I have always been here.  I know all of YOUR stories.  Brooke knows all of your stories."  I think I was a little harsh because he teared up.  Then he said he had loved me just like I was his.  Just like I was his.  Wow.  "Dad, I am yours.  I have been yours since March 6th, 1969 when you signed papers that gave me your name.  It is what goes on between us, not what flows through us Dad." 

So different, yet so similar, Sammy and I.  This brings me back to God's grace.
Sammy's story is what was bothering me about the whole idea of God's grace.  Despite trials and tribulation, I have a really great life. Why me and not him? So many similarities and yet our lives had turned out so differently.  There was one more qoute that I had found as I googled that brought it all together for me. 

God supplies all we need, but we must choose to accept His gifts, or to reject them.  We have the option of refusing to eat or drink.  We have the option of closing ourselves up in an air tight, waterproof and darkened room, but it will kill us.

You know something.....I was back to what I have thought about myself all along....I am stubborn and refuse to let life get me down.  Translation in Laura's terms means the best gift God may have given me was that stubbornness to not let life get me down.  I have wholeheartedly accepted that gift and many others. 
It isn't that God's grace touched one and not the other.  It is that one could see it and the other could not.  I believe God lays it all out there for us.  Our gifts, our shortcomings and trials.  The ability to handle both the trials and the gifts is inside us always.  Grace is almost like a secret until we figure out that it was there all along.  I believe without maybe being able to put the words to it....I recognized God's grace was within me.

I will never count the same as an Arms in my parents eyes.  Sammy never counted as an Arms in his father's eyes.  In the end, all pf that is ok because we both counted in God's eyes.  I just wish Sammy could have recognized the gifts God was offering him....he could have recognized it within himself.  There but for the grace of God go I.  

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Dog's Purpose

This was posted on my Facebook page, but it really touched me so I thought I would share it here as well.  

A Dog's Purpose?
(from a 6-year-old).

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa , and their little
boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker 's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.
Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ''I know why.''

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.

He said,''People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?'' The Six-year-old continued,

''Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long.''

Live simply.

Love generously.

Care deeply.

Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.

Take naps.

Stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you're not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

There comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh, forget the bad, and focus on the good. So, love the people who treat you right. Think good thoughts for the ones who don't. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is part of LIFE...Getting back up is LIVING...

Have a great life.
by: Ultima National Resources, LLC