Home is Where Your Story Begins

October 9, 2012

Think Beyond Pink

Filed under: Focusing on Others,Life — my3daughters @ 9:28 am

Can you fill in the following blanks?  October is ___________ Cancer Awareness month and the ribbon color for this month is _______________.  September is ___________ Cancer Awareness month and the ribbon color for this month is _______________.

It is now October 9, 2012.  I guarantee you that anyone living not living under a rock was able to fill in the first two blanks by October 2.  Just over a week into the month and the world, at least my world, has seemed to go pink.  Everyone on Facebook is posting pink this & pink that.  I watched the Steeler game on Sunday (duh).  Pink, pink, pink.  I bought some nail polish & hair care stuff at Walgreens using a debit card—before I could enter my pin I had to answer the question, would you like to donate to breast cancer research?  Poor cashier.  She didn’t make that question pop up but boy did she get to hear about it.  “No I absolutely do not!”

Now, understand that I have nothing against breast cancer.  Well, actually I have everything against breast cancer, against all forms of cancer.  I want them all to be GONE GONE GONE.  But seriously, people, why is it that breast cancer has the most awareness?  People who have other kinds of cancer are just as important.

My life is touched by cancer daily.  Someone dear to me works with cancer patients on a daily basis at a local hospital.  There have been long, hectic days lately because their department has so many new patients.  There have been sad days when a patient’s family takes time out of their grief to say “thank you.”  I have three daughters.  The youngest started high school this year and her graduating class was one less because of a young man who passed away from cancer just weeks before school started.  The middle daughter lost a member of her graduating class in May and now has another friend battling cancer.  My oldest graduated in 2009 and just informed me that a friend she went to school with is out of remission.  A friend I know through my girls’ school activities is battling breast cancer.  A friend I went to high school with lost her daughter to cancer less than a year ago.

Do you see the trend?  Do you see what kind of cancer I personally see the most of?  Of the six cases touching our lives right now, only one is breast cancer.  Yet it’s pink pink pink.  And don’t get me started on the fact that the organization that most “pink” fundraisers supports manages their money very poorly.  I have a friend who can also tell you statistics on the links between abortion and breast cancer yet this organization supports other organizations that support abortion.  This makes no sense to me.

But I’m not here to put something else down.  I’m here to raise your awareness of Childhood Cancer even though September is over.  When I see as much awareness for Childhood Cancer and other cancers as I do for Breast Cancer, I’ll shut up.  Until then, I’m going to speak out.

According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization website, “each year in the U.S. there are approximately 13,400 children between the ages of birth and 19 years of age who are diagnosed with cancer. About one in 300 boys and one in 333 girls will develop cancer before their 20th birthday.” Cancer is “the most common cause of death by disease for children and adolescents in America.”    Would you be more passionate about this if your child was the one in 300 or one in 333?

So I’m asking you to please be aware of the fact that breast cancer isn’t the only cancer there is.  Childhood Cancer is my personal passion and it breaks my heart every day.  Raise awareness, yours and others by following the Childhood Cancer Awareness page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/childhoodcancerawareness?ref=ts&fref=ts).  Check out the Get Well Gabby Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/getwellgabby?ref=stream).  Today would be a great day to do that since it would have been Gabby’s 7th birthday.  Read her parents’ posts.  They would melt a heart of stone.  You can also check out www.getwellgabby.org.  Order a special Gabby’s Pedi-“cure” set from piggy paint and 25% of the sales will go to the Get Well Gabby Foundation.  (http://www.piggypaint.com/gift-sets/gabby-s-pedi-cure-set.html)

I wear gold—for Julia, for Cassie, for Peter, for Nick, for Gabby, for kids I don’t even know.  Because every child who battles cancer is one child too many battling cancer.

Until There is a Cure

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August 19, 2012

Get Your God Glasses On

Filed under: Life,Uncategorized — my3daughters @ 12:36 pm

Somewhere along the line I picked up the idea that when I make time for God, He makes time for me.  Now before you get your dander up, yes I understand that God isn’t like that.  He doesn’t require anything from us in order to bless us.  But it just always seemed to me that when I got too busy for God, I didn’t get as many blessings as I did when I attended church and read my Bible on a regular basis.

Also, it always seemed like I had more trials and tribulations when I was too busy for God.  I’d catch myself, think, “This is God’s way of drawing me back to Him.” So I would start attending church and reading my Bible on a regular basis again.  And things would appear to get better.

Well, today as I was coming home from church, I was focusing more on the splinter in someone else’s eye instead of the log in mine.  My thoughts ran along the lines of “they should really be in church more consistently.  Maybe they would have fewer problems if they put God first instead of spending time with Him when there was nothing better to do on a Sunday morning.”

Then it hit me.  It isn’t that God only makes time for me or blesses me when I make time for Him.   It isn’t that life is harder when I’m too busy for God.  Rather, when I make the effort to spend time with God, when I make Him a priority, I am more able to see the blessings and the answers to prayer.  Plus life isn’t necessarily less stressful, it’s just that I have what I need right at hand instead of having to go look for it.

When I get up in the morning, everything is blurry.  Once I put my glasses on, things snap into focus.  Without my glasses on, I can very easily miss something that is right under my nose.  With my glasses on, I can find it easily.  But I also have a tendency to take my glasses off and walk away from them.  Now I can navigate the house without my glasses, but I can’t read a darn thing without them.  So I better have my glasses on when I leave the house or else only be going to the corner store.  And if I want to pop something in the microwave, I have to go search for my glasses to read the instructions.

Does this make sense to you?  When I have my God glasses on, I’m able to more clearly see the blessings and answers to prayer.  When I have my God glasses on, I can navigate through life easier.  The road may not be any less curvy and hilly but I have a better chance of staying on the road when I have my God glasses on.

 

 

 

So get your God glasses out, put them on and keep them on.

July 22, 2012

My Ah Hah Moment

Filed under: Uncategorized — my3daughters @ 8:20 pm

On July 3, 2012, I had an epiphany.  Looking back, I really like the timing.  On the Eve of the celebration of Independence & Freedom, I reached the point that would give me back my independence & freedom.

For a long time, I had a person in my life that put me down and criticized me.  Since this person meant a lot to me at the time, I tried my best to be the person they thought I should be.  Six years after they ceased to be important to me on a conscious level, their opinion has finally ceased to be important on an unconscious level.

From the time I got my license, I would fearlessly go where I had not gone before.  All I needed were directions or a map and I was on my way (note that this was before the invention of the GPS).  The me who was told repeatedly that they got lost all the time rarely exceeded the approximately 10 mile radius of their comfort zone.

I was never a dramatic cook.  I’m too literal and so follow the recipe precisely.  My food usually turned out bland or over-spiced.  After enough “don’t ever make this again” comments, I quit trying.  Precision works well when baking so I continued to bake until I heard enough “don’t you think you need to lose weight” remarks.

I’ve struggled with keeping a job since re-entering the workforce.  I’m beginning to think that the reason I’ve struggled is because I’m hearing Negative Ned telling me “you are such a job gypsy” and “your degree is worthless because you have no skills.”

Now you know my mindset on July 3.  I was driving in my car down Groesbeck, headed to Popeye’s for some shrimp.  I was disappointed and wanted to treat myself to some comfort food (and yes I know that eating for comfort is as much to blame for my current weight as the comments in my head).  As I was driving, I was reviewing my disappointment, and suddenly a light bulb went on in my head.  As Bishop Fick used to say, I had an Ah Hah Moment.

My Ah Hah Moment was that, as long as I let this downbeat person’s opinion of me shape who I am, I am going to just shuffle through life, existing instead of living and drowning in disappointment.  Well, NO MORE!  I decided right then and there that I was taking back my life.

The next week, my friends “Mitchell” & “Michelle” came to town (names changed to protect the innocent).  Mitchell would be spending his days in training for work but Michelle wanted to have some fun.  I figured out how to get over to her hotel to pick her up and we headed to the beach.  Hello, not difficult since I have a navigation program on my Droid.  And since I had gotten lost on the way to a winterguard show in March, I was able to say “nope, not that way” when the navigator starting taking us in circles.  Now, I’m probably the only person to get lost in Kensington Metro Park (it’s pretty much a big circle) but we just looked at it as an adventure.  And when we tired of the beach, we extended our adventure into discovering downtown Milford (which I had seen on that same fateful “Girlfriend, you be lost” winterguard trip).

The next day, Michelle came over to my “side of town” and we had a blast.  No chance of getting lost that day.  Michelle navigated her first round-about & her first Michigan Left like a pro.  She also discovered the joy that is Meijer.

Finally, for her last day of Detroit “vacation”, I drove back to her hotel in Livonia and we headed downtown.  Again, I managed to get a little turned around (twice) but it wasn’t the catastrophe I had been led to expect and we had a fantastic time.  We played the slots at the Greektown Casino, rode the People Mover and walked the River Walk.  We had coneys (another first for Michelle) at American Coney Island (voted #1 on the Food Network and the Travel Channel) and ended the day with delectable treats at Astoria Bakery.  This was success for a woman who had been afraid to drive out of her comfort zone just a week before.

Now I’m tackling cooking, with the help of Pinterest and my youngest daughter.  We have quite a few successes.  I was going to list them here but instead I’ll attempt to put a link to my Pinterest board “Tried & Tasted Yummies for the Tummy”.  That way it will hopefully stay updated as I try new recipes & move them from my “Untried Yummies for the Tummy” board.

http://pinterest.com/delafrate/tried-tasted-yummies-for-the-tummy/

So here we are, less than a month from my epiphany.  I am having a great time rediscovering myself.  Stay tuned for more of the New Me.

February 5, 2012

Operation One Dollar

Filed under: Focusing on Others,Life,Uncategorized — my3daughters @ 12:27 am

I recently learned of a military family in need.  I understand that there are many families in need today, not just this one.  But God has laid it on my heart to help this is a family.

I’d love to send them a huge check to cover all they require, but I just don’t have the funds to spare.  While I only have a tiny bit of extra money, I have an abundance of something that is even better than money—I have friends!  Now, most of my friends are like me, with very little unused money, but they know lots of people. So I’m sitting here crocheting and talking to God and here’s what we came up with.

All of us have at least One Dollar in change in the bottom of our purse, in the console of our car or between the cushions of our couch.  If everyone we know gave that One Dollar, we’d collect several hundred in a hurry.

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So I am asking each of my friends to become an Operation One Dollar Chairperson.  What this means is that you ask all your friends, co-workers, and neighbors to donate One Dollar to the cause.  Then you as Chairperson would take the collected funds, get a gift card for a national store–Target, Kmart, WalMart, Babies R Us (they are expecting a baby girl in May), etc—and send it to me.  I’ll get the gift cards to the family.

Now, if someone wants to donate more than One Dollar, fantastic!  But all I am asking for is One Dollar.  This is so simple that even the kids I count as friends can do it.  And if someone can only give 50 cents, take it.  It all adds up.

The Good Angel on my shoulder is jumping up and down, excited because she believes that each and every one of my friends will accept the challenge to collect for Operation One Dollar.  The Bad Angel on my other shoulder is sitting there, arms and legs crossed, rolling her eyes and saying, “Are you serious? No one is going to do it.  No one ever does anything unless they benefit from it.”  Who are you going to prove right—the Good Angel or the Bad Angel?

Let’s see how much my friends can raise in the next three weeks.  My band kids stood in the cold for two hours at a time for three days last weekend and collected $4950.43, most of it in change (in other words, One Dollar at a time).  Surely in three weeks we can come up with even a fraction of what they made in three days.  If you can get one person a day to donate One Dollar, you will have $20 by the time Operation One Dollar ends.

Operation One Dollar starts now, Sunday, February 5.  Please have all gift cards in the mail to me by Saturday, February 25.  My address is PO Box 380662, Clinton Township, MI  48038.  (if you are local, you don’t have to mail the gift cards).

I’ve been on the receiving end of the generosity of others and I’ll bet you have been too.  This is our chance to “pay it forward.”  Plus, this isn’t just any family in need; this is a military family in need.  They give of themselves so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we do, so that we can sleep at night without fear.  One Dollar of your money and a little bit of your time—is that too much to ask when they give 365 days of their year and years of their life, and sometimes their life, for you?

Thank you in advance for your generosity and your compassion.

February 3, 2012

Kelly Kindle Kozy

Filed under: Crafts,Crochet — my3daughters @ 4:57 pm

I recently received a Kindle Fire as a gift (see my Signpost blog for that story).  I couldn’t afford a fancy cover right away so I decided to crochet one.  I’m pretty happy with the results.  Here’s the pattern if you want to try it for yourself.

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Hook:  I

Yarn:  I used worsted weight yarn because that’s what I had.  If you use a different yarn, just make sure the foundation chain is approximately 6” long and then adjust the stitch count accordingly.

blo = back loop only

ch = chain

dc = double crochet

dc2tog = double crochet 2 together

flo = front loop only

hdc = half double crochet

hdc2tog = half double crochet 2 together

sc = single crochet

sc2tog = single crochet 2 together

ss = slip stitch

 

Kozy is worked in rounds and then back and forth once you start the flap.

 

Foundation: ch 20, sc in second chain from hook and across to end, add 2 extra stitches to the last stitch, working opposite side of chain, sc across to last stitch, slip stitch into first sc.  (40 sc)

Row 1: ch 1 and sc in blo around, join to 1st sc (40 sc)

Row 2:  ch 2, hdc around, join to 1st hdc (40 hdc)

Row 3:  ch 2 , dc around, join to 1st dc (40 dc)

Row 4 – 21:  Repeat rows 1 – 3 six times.

The Flap

Row 22: ch 1, sc in blo of next 20 stitches (20 sc), ch 2 & turn

Row 23:  hdc in 2nd sc, hdc in next 15 stitches, hdc2tog (18 hdc), ch 2 & turn

Row 24:  dc2tog, dc in next 16 stitches (17 dc), ch 1 & turn

Row 25:  sc in flo in next 15 stitches, sc2tog (16 sc), ch 2 & turn

Row 26:  hdc2tog, hdc in next 14 stitches (15 hdc), ch 2 & turn

Row 27:  dc in next 13 stitches, dc2tog (14 dc), ch 1 & turn

Row 28:  sc2tog in blo, sc in next 12 stitches, (13 sc) ch 2 & turn

Row 29:  hdc in next 5 stitches, ss in next 2 stitches, hdc in next 4 stitches, hdc2tog (5 hdc, 2 ss), ch 2 & turn

Row 30:  dc2tog, dc in next 3 stitches, ch 2, skip next 2 stitches, dc in next 5 stitches (9 dc, 2 ch), ch 1 & turn

Row 31:  sc in flo in next 5 stitches, sc in next 2 ch, sc in flo in next 2 stitches, sc2tog (10 sc).  Finish Off.

Sew a button on the body to line up with the button hole you made.  Slip in your Kindle or Kindle Fire and enjoy!

Variations:  You could change yarns every time you repeat rows 1-3 for a striped look.  Also, you can adjust this pattern for any size electronic device.  Just make the beginning chain a bit longer than the device and then repeat until it’s tall enough.  To adjust the flap work to two stitches and do a decrease, start the next row with a decrease, etc.

This pattern has not be tested.  If you find an errors, please let me know.  I have been crocheting for years but this is the first pattern I’ve written and shared.

 

 

February 2, 2012

Sign Posts

Filed under: Life — my3daughters @ 12:51 pm

Some times it seems to me as if the Bad Guys are winning.  I tried to be a Bad Guy—selfish, self-centered, stomping on others in my quest to get ahead.  But I’m just not made that way.  So I argued with God; I yelled at God; I demanded a sign from God.  I wanted to know that I was on the right road.  This taking it day by day with no map to outline the journey is tough for a planner like me.  So I wanted some sign posts to guide me, damn it, and I wanted them NOW!  And despite the fact that I was being a whiny little brat, God gave me a sign.  In fact, He gave me several.  I can just picture it now:

 God (in an incredulous voice) “You want a sign? I’ll give you a sign!  I’ll give you four signs in less than two weeks.  Do you think you’ll get the message then? Do you?”

THE FIRST SIGN POST

It was Monday evening and I’d just dropped the girls off at their Dad’s after winterguard practice.  I was tired and discouraged and cold and broke.  I just wanted to go home and sleep for forever.  Then I got a message from a friend, “Did you check your mail today? I sent you something.”  This perked me up.  Seriously, who doesn’t like to get presents in the mail?  When I got to the post office, all that was in my box was junk mail.  Darn, maybe it didn’t get here yet.  Then a key fell out of the wad of flyers, a key for a parcel box, parcel box #7, lucky #7!  And what did I find in the parcel box?  A package with the Amazon smile on it.  Inside the package was a Kindle Fire!  My friend, now known as my Fairy Godmother, sent me a Kindle Fire!

I put a Kindle Fire on my Wants List at Thanksgiving time.  But my Needs List items kept taking priority and I knew the Kindle Fire would have to wait, and wait, and wait.

After jumping up and down and yelling “I got a Kindle Fire” in the post office parking lot, I headed home (fortunately no one called the cops on the crazy lady).  I called my youngest (most likely to answer her phone) and got voice mail.  Darn.  I called my middle child (rarely even has the ringer on) and got voice mail.  Darn.  I called my oldest (who answered), and after I woke her up by screaming in her ear “I got a Kindle Fire”, I proceeded to calm down long enough to tell her what my youngest now calls “The Story.” (Notice that, even while highly excited, I did not text and drive.  Texting and driving is wrong.  DO NOT do it.)

Fast forward over an hour to when I was finally calm again and getting ready for bed.  In the quiet I heard God tell me, “You asked for a sign.  The Kindle Fire is your sign.  Keep on doing what you are doing; keep on being the way you are.  I promised to provide all your needs according to my riches.  Your needs will be met, so I’ve moved on to your wants.”

THE SECOND SIGN POST

It’s Friday night, a weekend when I had my girls.  I was broke.  I had enough gas to get us where we needed to go for the weekend but what about job hunting next week?  I wasn’t sure exactly what we were going to be eating all weekend, there was no money to buy groceries.  Then a friend gave me three big bags of groceries.  That worry was handled.  A friend pulled me aside, placed folded up money in my hand and said “Don’t argue.  I’m just paying it forward.”  Pride told me to refuse but practicality won out.  Again, God was telling me “I promised to provide all your needs.”

THE THIRD SIGN POST

It’s Wednesday and my car insurance was past due.  I’m sure there’s a grace period in there somewhere but I didn’t even bother to ask how long it was.  I had no money coming in, no prospect of money coming in.  Someone handed me a folded up bill and said “Here’s a little something for you.”  This was the third time I’ve gotten money from this person, someone that I barely know.  Each time the money was the exact amount I needed at the exact time I needed it.  This time it was enough to pay my car insurance.  Before God could say anything, I said “I know, you are providing for my needs.  Thank you.”

THE FOURTH SIGN POST

It’s Thursday and again I just wanted to curl up in my warm cocoon of blankets and sleep.  But I needed to keep up the job search.  I found a free app for my Kindle Fire that gives me another source for jobs.  I also found a free book to download called “The Resume is Dead” by Nelson Wang.  It’s a great how to book on using “new media to land your dream job.”  I’d started reading it but I wasn’t sure that I could be that bold, be that brave.  Then this quote appeared in my Facebook news feed:

 Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.—Thomas Jefferson

Again, I felt that this was God telling me that I am on the right track even though I haven’t really “heard” from Him.  Probably because I got so excited that I started typing this blog and haven’t taken the time to be quiet.  But this fits in with my comment to Him earlier last month when I said “show me a sign that I’m going the right way or at least throw up road blocks if I’m going the wrong way.”

So, yes, I got the signs—all of them.  I got the message.  And now I’m passing the message on to you in case you need to hear it to0.  Your God will supply all your needs.  You just have to trust Him.  You just have to have faith.

January 22, 2012

Not a Rant but a Plea

Filed under: Focusing on Others,Life — my3daughters @ 10:09 pm

Apparently some people are very uncomfortable with the fact that I do not even attempt to hide my financial struggles.  You can’t “catch” poverty just by being around me.  And I’m not trying to whine or get handouts for myself or my children.  If you are truly my friend, you would understand this because you would understand me.  Your comfort, or lack of, is not my concern.  My concern is the shortage of compassion for people in situations similar to mine.

I am very involved in our Band Booster program.  I don’t do it for myself; I do it for the kids.  I love my band kids, past and present.  I want them to be able to have the best band experience they can.  Some of my fondest memories from high school are from band (yes I can really remember back that far).  I want to give these kids the same type of positive memories.

Band isn’t free, and with budget cuts from the state and the school district, we can’t even say it’s cheaper than say football or cheerleading.  Our Band Booster program works hard to make the program as affordable and accessible to as many students as possible.  We provide a number of fundraisers (only one of which is required) to help parents raise money to offset the costs of participating in band.  It’s possible to pay for everything—from lessons to reeds to uniforms—without any of it coming out of pocket.  Don’t believe me?  I have a friend you can talk to who will prove me right.  She has paid for everything for her child, including Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, by fundraising.

The economy is bad everywhere but really bad here in the state of Michigan.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Website, the unemployment rate in Michigan in November 2011 was 9.8%.  Nevada (13%), California (11.3%), Mississippi (10.5%), Rhode Island (10.5%), Florida (10%), Illinois (10%), North Carolina (10%), Georgia (9.9%), and South Carolina (9.9%) were higher but Michigan is still in the top 10 states with the highest unemployment. (November 2011 was the newest information to be had)

Unfortunately this means that families are cutting back on their spending.  And essentials such has housing, heat and food take precedence over activities such as band, sports, dance, etc.  If we don’t actively work to both keep costs down and give parents ways to raise the money, not everyone is going to be able to participate in these programs.  We have to be conscience of adding expenses, especially when these costs are for things not essential to the program.  Yes, these “extras” are nice but they aren’t crucial.  These “extras” need to be optional, not mandatory.  And when they are optional, parents need to feel free to opt no.  Mention it once and be done with it.  Don’t keep asking, sending “reminders” to pay if you can.  If we could, if we wanted to, we would have done so in the first place.

So here I am, a very vocal parent, putting my pride aside and going “hey, look, I’m broke.  I can’t afford that.  Do we seriously need that?  I’m already paying to play.  What’s with all the additional costs?”  This has resulted in gentle rebukes from friends telling me I talk about my situation too much.  Ouch, that hurts.  You say you are my friend yet you think I’m doing this for some selfish reason.

I’ve also had angry rants posted on Facebook and received nasty emails and text messages.  I’ve been told I’m immature, crazy and bipolar.  I’ve been told to shut up or I’ll regret it.  I’ve been cursed up one side and down the other and called a witch on a broom (well, actually the other word but I won’t use that here).  I’ve had it thrown in my face that I expect handouts, that I don’t pay my children’s dues and that everyone else has to carry me.  These actions don’t hurt but they do make me angry.  I do pay my children’s dues and if I’m going to be late, I let the appropriate people know.  I have NEVER asked for a handout for my children and have ALWAYS paid their way—for the mandatory costs and any of the optional items I am able to afford.  Not only do I not expect everyone else to carry me, I do a heck of a lot more than most people realize.  I do what I do for the program behind the scenes.  You may not realize I am doing it but you’d notice if I wasn’t doing it.  And trust me, I’m not the only one.  There’s a lot of hard work going on that you are not aware of when you come to see your child perform.  For every person up front gathering kudos and thanks, you have many more who never get recognition.  We don’t do it for the recognition.

I’m not going to stop being vocal about my situation.  I was raised to be considerate and caring about other people.  I was taught to look at things from another person’s point of view and not just my own.  And I was told that God puts us is tough situations, not only to test us and help us to grow, but so that we can honestly say “I understand.”  I’m not going to hide the situation God has put me in as if I’m embarrassed about it.  I’m going to use it to glorify Him and to help others.  I know what it’s like to feel as if you are completely alone.  I don’t want others to feel that way.

Let me explain one more thing—this is not a rant about our Band Boosters, a group I respect greatly.  I just use them as an example because, even though everyone intends the best, you get a few people who can’t see the big picture.  I have seen this happen in sports teams, dance teams, even youth groups.  The people responsible for making the decisions make them based on their income, not even considering what others might be able to afford.  And since most families with low incomes have both parents working (sometimes more than one job) or are single parent families (still sometimes with more than one job), those with larger incomes end up being the ones in charge.  They’re the ones who have the time and the energy to volunteer.  This is not a rant against those people either.  This is a plea to them to have compassion, to look beyond themselves and see as others see.  I know this is possible because I observe it daily in the lives of many outstanding parent volunteers.  Unfortunately, it’s the self-centered minority who stand out.

So if you ever find yourself in the position of making a decision on the cost of something for a group, take time to consider those you are representing.  It may be a little more work, take a little more effort, but it can be done.

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October 28, 2011

I will not say “I am a Christian”

Filed under: Life — my3daughters @ 1:38 pm

You can debate Biblical issues and mysteries until you are blue in the face. Heck, you can do it in the original Greek for all I care. You can occupy a pew every time the church doors are open. You can memorize the entire Prayer Book, or even the entire Bible. BUT, if your daily actions don’t mirror Christ, in my opinion you are an epic failure.

I’ve stopped telling people I’m a Christian. Instead I say that I have a faith that sustains me. Because if I have a negative view of the term “Christian” because of the actions of others, imagine how a non-believer feels. It’s a total turn off. I was raised in the church, there every time the doors were open. I went to Sunday School, Youth Group, Youth Camp, Church Camp, VBS and Bible College. Yet, until I learned to look at God instead of “Christians”, I wasn’t interested. I walked away from God because I was so disgusted. I considered Buddhism, I tried witchcraft. Fortunately, while I had walked away from God, He had not walked away from me. He brought me to a church of good people, most of whom do their best to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. It was a different denomination than I was raised in and I have had “good Christians” turn their back on me because of that. Instead of being happy that I was again walking with God, they were angry that I wasn’t attending an “approved” church. GAG

I am a very simple person. I live by the motto, “God said it, I believe it, and that’s good enough for me.” God tells me not to worry so I try not to worry. God tells me to love my neighbor, so I try to love my neighbor. I can’t do these things on my own. It is God working through me. And I fail as often as I succeed. But, as Paul told the Philippians, “I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6, New American Standard Bible). So I’m going to keep on trying.

Life is hard, my life is hard. There are days when I am so lonely I ache. There are days when I just don’t want to go on. But I get through it because I tell myself that God is in control. Recently I told someone that I wasn’t worried because God is in control. Their reply was that “the apostles believed that and look where it got them.” No, this wasn’t a non-believer. This was a Christian, a leader in their church. I know this person considers themselves a good Christian and a wise scholar. I have never, in all my years of reading and studying the Bible, ever gotten the impression that the apostles were miserable and unhappy with their lot in life. Besides, look where that got them—eternity with Christ. Darn, wish I would have thought of that when this was said to me.

I recently got a new job. My boss is a Christian. I haven’t interacted with him much but he seems to truly walk the walk and not just talk the talk. I mentioned to someone that I was happy to have a Christian boss. They told me that’s not necessarily a good thing. Then they proceeded to give me examples of “Christian” businesses with less than Christian like practices. “Well, then they aren’t truly Christians” I replied. I was told that Christian bosses are usually tightwads, not wanting to give their employees more pay, more benefits, etc. Does being a Christian make you stupid? Even if you are a Christian, you are running a business, not a charity. You got into that business to make a profit. As long as you aren’t making that profit by immoral or illegal means, you have a right to make a profit. But too many people, even those who call themselves Christians, think that Christian businesses shouldn’t worry about a profit. “Money is the root of all evil” they say. First off, you are misquoting I Timothy 6:10. It’s the LOVE of money that is the root of “all sorts of evil” (NASB). And if money is so evil, why are you upset that your Christian employer isn’t paying you enough? Oh, because it’s evil when they want it but not when you do. Can you say “double standard” and “hypocrite”?

I also had a “good Christian” tell me they were cynical like that’s a good thing. The word cynical isn’t even in the New American Standard Bible. I know. I just did a search for it on Bible Gateway. To me, someone who is cynical doubts. James 1:6 tells me that “the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” I don’t want to be like that. I want to be stand firm on the foundation of the hope of what God has promised me.

According to Microsoft Word’s built in thesaurus, you can substitute pessimistic, mocking, skeptical, sarcastic, distrustful, suspicious, contemptuous, or disparaging for cynical. Um, yeah, I checked and none of these are fruits of the spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23, NASB)

My friend Judy says that we should “preach the gospel daily. When necessary, use words.” I am so glad that I have finally learned to look to God as my example. If I look at many of those who label themselves as Christians, I wouldn’t be one. I hope no one says that about me.

I recently had a discussion with a young woman who is doubting her faith. She has a “Christian” boyfriend from a “Christian” family who attend a different denomination than she was raised in. She now attends church with him since that’s what he and his family expect from her. He has refused to attend her church because it’s the “wrong” denomination. From the sound of things (having never attended his church I can’t say for sure) they spend a lot of time at his church talking about how wrong other religions and denominations are. Wow, that’s loving, NOT. She isn’t comfortable with that—good for her. I explained to her that no relationship will work long term unless God is at the center. And if her boyfriend is unwilling to work with her to find a church that they are both comfortable in then she needs to get a new boyfriend.

I know church leaders, even ordained ministers, who make me want to say “if that’s a Christian, I don’t want to be one.” I don’t ever want anyone to look at me and say that. I can’t change others but I can change myself. So when I see behavior that isn’t appealing, I look at my life and see if that’s something I need to fix. And if even one person reads this and says “I need to be more Christ-like in my actions” then this was worth it.

May 12, 2011

Political in Nature (& long)

Filed under: Politics — my3daughters @ 9:04 am

Multiple Choice Question:  What type of government does the United States of America have?

  1. Democracy
  2. Monarchy
  3. Anarchy
  4. Republic

Unless you answered D. Republic, your high school American Government teacher is very disappointed in you.  According to dictionary.com (using Webster is so yesterday), a Republic is a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them.   As a whole nation and as individual states, we chose people to go to Washington DC or our state capital and be our voice.

But how can they be our voice if they don’t know what we are thinking?  We need to speak and they need to listen.  On Monday, May 9, 2011, all the non-core subject teachers in the Chippewa Valley School District (including all music, art, foreign language and PE) received pink slips.  This was in response to Governor Snyder’s proposed budget cuts to education.    Since I don’t care for the proposed budget cuts, I decided to speak and see if my representatives would listen.

I went to http://www.legislature.mi.gov to find the email addresses for my state senator & state representatives.  I did a Google search for Governor Snyder’s email address (Rick.Snyder@michigan.gov).  I then sent emails to everyone voicing my concerns.  Copies of the emails I sent and the responses I received are in this blog.

I’m not going to do a lot of editorializing on the responses.  You can make your own decisions.  I will say that Rep. Goike doesn’t have a clear picture about what going on in the Chippewa Valley School District.  The Chippewa Valley School Board meets with representatives from each school to hear what the schools need and to keep the schools informed.  Now THAT’S a Republic.  If you want details, find out who the CAC representative is for your school.  For Erie Elementary or the Ninth Grade Center, ask me.  I can put you in touch with that person.  I may even write a blog on it later.  I think our district is doing a great job.

Please note that, as of the writing of this blog, I did not receive a response from Governor Snyder’s office or from Representative Lane’s office.  I will keep you updated on any further responses that I receive.

My Original Email to Rep. Lane, Rep. Goike and Sen. Rocca (sent Tue, May 10, 2011 at 1:05 PM)

I am writing to you to plead for the education of the children of Michigan.  They are our future yet Governor Snyder has chosen to cut education funding to our schools.

My children attend Chippewa Valley School District.  Yesterday all the non-core subject teachers (including all music, art, foreign language and PE) received pink slips.  Fine arts, PE and soon foreign language are required components of the Michigan Merit Curriculum, and as such our students will not be able to graduate from high school without them.  Yet the school district cannot afford to continue to pay these teachers without state funding.  I am sure that our district is not the only one with this concern.

Please support our future before there is no future to support.

My Original Email to Gov. Snyder (sent Tue, May 10, 2011 at 1:08 PM)

Governor Snyder,

I am writing to you to plead for the education of the children of Michigan.  They are our future yet you have chosen to cut education funding to our schools.

My children attend Chippewa Valley School District.  Yesterday all the non-core subject teachers (including all music, art, foreign language and PE) received pink slips.  Fine arts, PE and soon foreign language are required components of the Michigan Merit Curriculum, and as such our students will not be able to graduate from high school without them.  Yet the school district cannot afford to continue to pay these teachers without state funding.  I am sure that our district is not the only one with this concern.

Please support our future before there is no future to support.  If you are looking for other places to cut spending, I suggest starting with your own salary and those of the legislators and leaders of the state of Michigan.  I would be more than happy to share with you all how I manage to live on $20,000 a year.

I heard from Rep. Goike first (received Wed, May 11, 2011 at 11:36 AM)

Dear Ms. Lafrate:

Thank you for contacting my office and sharing your concerns about the possible loss of teachers and programs in the Chippewa Valley District.  First, it is important to keep in mind that the Legislature does not determine how school districts spend their money when we establish funding for the year.  In the case of Chippewa Valley, the district would potentially lose $4.5 million in funding this year from the state, if we cannot find additional revenue, which equates to a 3.5% reduction in state support.  Even if such a reduction were made, the district would still be receiving 20% more per pupil than it did 10 years ago.  As the Superintendent has shared, these layoff notices were sent because the district is grappling with a $16 million deficit.  It is true that the $4.5 million is a part of this deficit, which is why I am hopeful that when the state receives updated projections of how much money will be available next year, a significant portion of it will be used to lessen this reduction.

This does not change the fact, however, that even if the state made no reduction, the district would be facing a roughly $11 million deficit this year.  The reason for this is that the district has obligated itself to cover salary, benefit and legacy costs over the past few years than it cannot afford.  The reaction on the part of the district has been to threaten widespread layoffs, rather than simply negotiating sustainable wage and benefit agreements with all teachers to protect these programs and talented young teachers.  Obviously, my hope would be that layoffs and program eliminations would not be the way the district tried to address its funding issues, but ultimately this is not my decision.  What I can and will do, however, is work to bring as much additional revenue back to the district as possible when we get updated revenue numbers this month, but it will then be up to the school board and district employees to make sure it directly impacts students.

Sincerely,

Representative Ken Goike

33rd District

 

And I promptly replied (sent Wed, May 11, 2011 at 12:37 PM)

Rep. Goike,

I am aware that the legislature does not determine how individual school districts spend their money. I am an informed constituent. However, the legislature does determine how much funding is given to education statewide. I am concerned about funding for ALL Michigan School Districts, not just Chippewa Valley.

While the district may be receiving 20% more per student than they did 10 years ago, education costs are higher than they were 10 years ago. I do not have the statistics at my fingertips but I will make an guess that costs have increased at least 20% in the past ten years. Yes I understand that some of that is due to decisions made by the district. But what about costs simply to heat & cool the school, keep the lights on, have running water?

I am impressed that you (or one of your staff) took the time to reply to my email. I am not impressed by your response which basically dumped all the blame on the school district and their decisions. As I said, I am an informed constituent &
I am aware of what is going on in my district. Any concerns I have with their decisions are discussed with them. I sent an email to you to discuss the concerns I have with the decisions of Michigan’s lawmakers (of which you are one).

You suggested that my district not threaten widespread layoffs but instead negotiate sustainable wage and benefit agreements. I suggest that the state not threaten widespread funding reductions but instead negotiate sustainable wage and benefit agreements for Michigan’s leaders. I’m sure that would make more money available for education next year. As I told Governor Snyder in a recent email, I would be happy to discuss with all of Michigan’s leaders how it is possible to live on $20000 a year net income.

Again, thank you for responding.

The reply from Sen. Rocca’s office was brief (received Wed, May 11, 2011 at 3:02 PM)

Dawn,

Thank you for your correspondence. Due to the volume of e-mail we receive on a daily basis, Senator Rocca has requested that you provide your home mailing address.

Thank you,

Catherine Coultes

Executive Assistant

Office of State Senator Tory Rocca

(517) 373 -7315

 

And here’s my reply to that (sent Wed, May 11, 2011 at 4:08 PM)

Ms Coultes,

Thank you for replying to my email. My snail mail address is PO Box 380662, Clinton Township, MI. 48038.

While I understand that you receive many emails daily, I can’t help but wonder why you don’t just reply to them? To reply to an email you just copy from a document program such as Microsoft Word, paste into an email program such as Microsoft Outlook and then click send. To send a hard copy reply, you have to print out the document, stuff it into an envelope, address the envelope and put postage on the envelope. I am assuming here that Senator Rocca doesn’t have the time to send handwritten or even personalized replies to the many emails received.

While I’ve never done a time study on it, I would imagine that it takes less time to copy–paste–send than it does to print–stuff–address–stamp. Plus you are saving the cost of paper, ink & postage. Since my original email addressed budgetary concerns, wouldn’t it be politically prudent to reply in the most cost effective way possible? Not to mention that it just makes sense to let technology help us work smarter not harder.

May 7, 2011

Moms Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Filed under: Life,Parenting — my3daughters @ 9:36 am

“An excellent woman, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels”  Proverbs 31:10

Moms come in all shapes and sizes—tall, short, thin, pleasingly plump.  They have every color of hair, eyes and skin under the sun.  There are rich Moms and poor Moms, Moms from every religion and some who do not practice a religion.  Some Moms are good Moms, some aren’t.  But I don’t want to focus on the negative on such a beautiful day so I’m just going to talk about good Moms.  It is my prayer that every child has at least one of the following types of Moms in his/her life.

SAHM (Stay-at-Home Mom):  Yes folks, she works, she just doesn’t work outside the home.  Taking care of a family is a full-time job.  It’s 24/7.  And in my opinion, it’s the most important job in the world, bar none (sorry Mr President).

Working Mom:  Yes, yes, I know, every Mom is working Mom (didn’t I just say that?).  In this instance I am talking about Moms who earn an income (since Professional Parent is only an occupation in JD Robb books so far).  This type of Mom may work because she wants to or because she has to.  No matter what the reason, she still finds time to be with her children, sacrificing personal time or sleep (or both) to ensure that they aren’t neglected.

Single Parent Moms:  For whatever reason—death, dismemberment, divorce, distance, disinterest—Dad just isn’t in the picture.  This Mom has to know it all and do it all.  She has to cook, clean, do the laundry, cut the grass, fix the leaky faucet, help with the school project  . . . the list goes on and on.  I suggest that if you know a Single Parent Mom, you do what you can to help ease her load.

Military Spouse Moms:  A lot of times Military Spouse Moms are also Single Parent Moms because Dad is off protecting our country.  Not only is she doing it all, she’s doing it all while missing a part of her heart, while worrying about her husband’s safety.

Military Moms:   Military Moms fall into one of two subcategories, Blue Star Moms and Gold Star Moms.  A Blue Star Mom has a son or daughter (and sometimes more than one) serving in our military.  A Gold Star Mom has made the ultimate sacrifice.  Her son or daughter (and sometimes more than one) gave their life to protect our country.  To the Gold Star Moms I say “Thank you for your sacrifice.  My heart aches with you for your loss.”  It is my hope and prayer that the Blue Star Moms will never have to change that Blue Star flag in their window to a Gold Star flag.

Step-Moms:  This group of Moms has gotten a lot of bad press in the past.  However, there are good Step-Moms out there, really.  These women put the needs of the children before their own needs.  They don’t try to replace their step-children’s Mom.  Instead they are an extra maternal presence.  If you are blessed enough to have one of these types of Step-Moms for your children, make sure you thank her often.

Mom-in-Laws:  This is another group that has gotten a lot of bad press.  Not all MILs are bad.  I myself have a wonderful MIL, actually an ex-MIL.  I want to be just like her when I grow up.  Donna Buffa is a warm and caring Mom.   I know I can count on her to be there for me even though I divorced her son 20 years ago.  I love you, Mum.  Thank you for everything.

Birth Moms:  Your Birth Mom is the woman who carried you in her body, under her heart for nine months (give or take).  This is the woman who gave your life.  This also gives her the right to say, “I brought you into this world and I can take you out.”  (not that she ever would, but she has the right to say it)  Some Birth Moms, for whatever reason, give their child up for adoption.  I have a Birth Mom out there somewhere.  If by some strange chance you are reading this, thank you for giving me life.

Adoptive Moms:  If you are lucky, when your Birth Mom gives you up for adoption, you get an Adoptive Mom.  With Adoptive Moms, you never have to worry about having been a “mistake” because you were chosen.  My Mom, Phyllis Lindey Hickey, took me into her heart and life as a newborn baby.  She loved me until the day she died.  Twelve years later I can still feel her presence and her influence in my life.  Thanks, Mom.  You may not have given me life but you gave me a life.  I love you and miss you.

Moms of the Heart:  Another term for this would be Second Mom.  This is usually a female relative, family friend or neighbor that you form a close bond with.  My Mom of the Heart is my Mom’s sister, my Aunty, Olive Lindey Cope.  She passed away a year and a half ago.  I still want to call her just to talk.  Unfortunately, Verizon doesn’t include heaven in their coverage area.

Foster Moms: This has to be the toughest kind of Mom to be.  These children come into your home, you open your heart to them, loving them even as a part of you knows that they may not be around for long.  The other women I’ve mentioned by name are my Moms.  I have a dear friend who is a Foster Mom, Sharon Nifong of David’s House Ministries.  Please keep Sharon in your prayers as she opens her heart to the children God sends her way.

Band Moms:  Okay, so maybe this should be Choir Moms or Friend’s Moms but I’m a Band Mom so I’m calling it Band Moms.  This is the Mom you know from Band (or Choir or your friend’s house).  She cares about you, will listen to you, encourage you, yell at you when you get out of line.  Thanks to all the Band Kids, past and present, who have allowed me into their lives.  I love you all bunches and bunches.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms I know.  May you be blessed and appreciated, not only on Mother’s Day but every day.

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