Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Friend - No Longer There

People come and go in and out of our lives. Sometimes we hold the people who are gone from our lives as a comfortable memory or we see their smiling face in the photo album we keep tucked away in the cobwebs of the gray matter between our ears. I call some from my past a "hard learned lesson" and am hopeful they remain there - in the past. Throughout my life there have been a small number of people who may not be a constant in the present, but the fact that they...just are, brings me comfort.

One such person is very, very sick and I doubt I'll ever see her again. Rose is a woman of strength and character who has been a beautiful example of wife, mother, woman of God, and friend. I am happy to say that Rose is a person I once gratefully called "friend", but our paths have moved in different directions and we haven't seen one another in a few years.

When I learned Rose had cancer and was so ill I contacted her and told her how thankful I was to have her as a part of my life. We've exchanged a couple of nice emails, but today her husband writes that Rose isn't doing too well. The prognosis isn't good, and barring a miracle Rose's family will lose her all too soon. Knowing that some people are just "there" brings comfort. Knowing that Rose may one day no longer be there makes me sad.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Children and Birth-control, part 2

Clearly I am still disturbed by the choices being given to children, especially as they relate to sex. The school board in Portland, Maine has voted to allow middle school students to receive birth control from the school nurse. The middle school students range in age from 11-14. Eleven to fourteen years old!!!

Okay, so here's a scenario for you: 11 year-old "Mary" starts having sex with 14-year old "John". They are in love (stick with me) and they vow to stay together forever. Condoms, birth control pills and patches are being given to Mary and John regularly, because the worse thing that could happen to these crazy kids is that Mary gets pregnant, right?

Let's imagine that Mary and John's magical love affair actually endures for an unbelievable four years, and they celebrate John's 18th birthday just as they have always celebrated special events (like the changing of seasons, full moons, Mondays, double coupon days) - they have sex. The unthinkable happens the next day when John decides he's ready to move on. Seriously, four years is a long time to spend with just one girl! Mary's 15 year-old heart is broken and she knows exactly how to make John pay for dumping her. Mary's been making grown up decisions since she was 11 years old and now this child has the power to destroy a young man's life.

Mary goes to the police and tells them that John had sex with her. Now that John is a legal adult, everything they'd been doing for the past four years is suddenly against the law. John goes to prison for statutory rape and spends the rest of his life as a registered sex offender. John will never be allowed to become a teacher, a minister, a police officer, a mayor, or any other number of respectable occupations. John will never be able to volunteer in his child's classroom, accompany his son on a school field trip, or teach Sunday School.

But hey, at least Mary and John used birth control!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Children and Birth-control

I am broken hearted about the fact that we as a society find ourselves in a place where we are debating the idea of giving birth control to 6th graders! The school board in Portland, Maine has voted 7 to 2 in favor of dispensing the birth control pill and the birth control patch to middle school students who visit the school health clinic. Yes, there's a problem with unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. Yes, we can argue that the kids are going to have sex anyway, so let's help keep children from having children. But please tell me there's another way.

I am a mother whose daughter had unplanned sex at the very tender age of 13. She was very afraid to admit to us that she had gone to a birthday party as a virgin and came home changed forever. The whole experience was very confusing for her and it took her a couple of years (yes years) to admit the encounter with the 16-year old boy had actually been a rape. I guess I should be grateful that condoms had been made available to him and he had worn one before he forced himself on my daughter.

I do believe that making birth control available to kids makes them more likely to think it must be okay - after all, adults wouldn't give them something that's bad for them. Isn't that what we want them to believe? My daughter felt that since she was no longer a virgin, it wouldn't matter how many more guys she had sex with. She acted out not only with sex, but when that didn't fix her brokenness she turned to drugs. Her life nearly ended with a drug overdose in a sleazy motel room before it had even begun. My daughter was NOT emotionally ready for sex at the age of 13, and I shudder to think how much worse things could have turned out for her if she had started having sex at age 11.

In one of the CNN articles I read about the Portland, Maine school board decision, one mother's quote caught my eye. Sarah Thompson, the mother of an 8th grader said she supported the decision to make birth control available to the middle school students even though it made her "uncomfortable". She said, "I know I've done my job as a parent, but there may be a time when she doesn't feel comfortable coming to me....and not all these kids have a strong parental advocate at home."

Well, my daughter had two strong parental advocates at home, but everyone else and everything else told her sex was okay! We should all be looking out for the safety - emotional and physical safety - of our children! What's wrong with the school board, the teachers, the school counselors, the coaches, and the after school support staff joining forces with the parents to say to our very, very young children, "DON'T HAVE SEX!"

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Breathing The Blogoshpere

Why do we write these blogs? What motivates a person to put their most intimate thoughts, feelings, and rants out where the whole world can see them? My personal hope is that I will fling questions into the vast blogosphere and they will return to me in the form of clear-cut answers. Hey…a girl can dream.

I know a couple of people who are using their online diaries to keep friends and family abreast of the latest happenings in their on-going battles with cancer. When their bodies are begging for rest, but their hearts are yearning for contact, they can share the good and the bad with many at once. They then can – at their own pace and in their own time – read the myriad of good wishes that have been sent out to them via the web. What a great way for the disconnected to stay connected.

I am very aware of the fact that words can absolutely bring joy and healing, but I know too that words can slice through the thickest skin and bring pain. Once that magical “send” button on the laptop has been tapped, there is no taking back the words – good or bad. In the past few months I have stumbled across a couple of blogs that have stirred unwanted passion in me. A pastor who was once my mentor, leader, and dear friend posted one of the blogs and his words saddened me. You see, he writes beautifully and his thoughts, words of encouragement, and advice are solid. So why does his blog make me sad? Because if his blog is a reflection of what’s in his heart, then how could he treat someone the way he treated me? I’m not sure I’ll return to his on-line journal.

One Myspace I probably will go back to belongs to another person who also was once a very, very important part of my life. You see, each time I visit his personal My-space I’m reminded of all the reasons that I really, really don’t want that guy in my life! We all tend to romanticize people and times from our past and sometimes missing them can make us down right sick. However, it can be a good thing to visit a memory every now and again via the web and be able to say, “Wow, what was I thinking?”

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Family Resemblance

We’ve all seen them. They’re in the mall, in the grocery store, in the car sitting next to us at the red light, in church, even at family functions. They are kids – other people’s children – who misbehave, throw tantrums, scream, and just generally act obnoxious. When we encounter these obviously undisciplined little monsters, we’ve all done it…..we’ve asked ourselves, “what is wrong with the parents and why aren’t they fixing that kid?”

Lately we’ve heard all the stories about “young Hollywood” running amok – Britney, Paris, Lyndsay, Nicole – these girls provide seemingly never-ending fodder for gossip papers, newspapers, and late night talk show comedians. The daytime talk shows have been asking the question, “Where are their parents and what did they do wrong?”

I’m a mom whose own children were challenging (to say the least) and my kids have made more than their fair share of mistakes. I’ve heard many a condemning whisper from so-called friends about my parenting skills and my children have been the topic of hushed conversation among the busy bodies in my world. My kids are now young adults and they are the first to tell you that my husband and I were very present and were indeed tough but fair disciplinarians. My children will tell you that they themselves are responsible for the poor and dangerous choices they made. But…the judgmental whispers about me – the mom - rattle about.

So, using the same logic – that the missteps of a child are a direct reflection of poor parenting, I submit a question for you to ponder today. For those among us who claim to be Christians, how often do you think people look at our behavior and judge The Father? Don’t you know that when we treat one another callously, thoughtlessly, selfishly, judgmentally, or rudely, we are a reflection of God the father? Wait! That’s not fair! Well, fair or not, why would people want God for a Father when they see His kids battling one another in word and deed every single day?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

I Need A New Dream

So, how does one live with the prospect of being a broken person for the rest of one's life? The self-help books that address the subject - if lined up end to end - would most certainly build a bridge to Hawaii, back, and beyond a hundred times. I particularly love the titles of the spiritual based books about healing, "God Uses Broken Pots", "When Life Gives You Manure, Stick A Flower In It", "Joy Comes In The Morning" (or is it "mourning"?), etc.... I actually really like the visual picture painted by the author who points out that kaleidoscopes are created from broken pieces of glass, which are then exposed to the light. She suggests we just need to expose our broken glass to the light and allow the beauty to be revealed.

I wasn't broken all at once, from one merciful blow, but rather I was chipped away at. At first the ax fell on my outer, thicker shell and I didn't notice the losses too terribly much. In the beginning I lost things I could always replace - a job, a church, acquaintances. Then the losses were far more painful - hobbies, close friends.....security. The hardest loss - the one that finally broke me - was the loss of not one or two, but actually several dreams. Dreams are held and nurtured for most of one's life. We dream dreams for our self, our family, our children, for what we hope to accomplish, for all the good we hope to leave behind. Dreams are at the very core of what and who we are.

Okay, so who are we when the dreams we once dreamed have died? Letting go is hard for me because my dreams have been so deeply a part of who I am for my whole life. Without my dreams I am not ME anymore - I am someone else.

So....I guess I should get to know this new person I see in the mirror. Perhaps I should allow myself to meet and greet some new dreams and invite them to set up residence for a time - get to know them. Maybe I'll step into the dream closet and try a few on for size. I need a new dream.