Fuck You, Cancer!

Insidious,

You sneak in,

Like a thief,

Unseen.

Entering the body,

Forcing it

To wage war on itself,

Sapping strength,

Muscle and bone,

Like a pestilence,

Stealing health.

And much needed time.

Confusion, devastation,

Questions and doubt…

“Why me, God?”

Or maybe

“Why them?”

Like a vampire,

You suck life and vitality

Leaving behind

A hollow reflection

That reverberates,

Aftershocks of destruction

To crumble

friends and families;

Those left behind,

And think you’ve won.

But that’s the battle,

Not the war.

Some things you can’t

Take.

They belong to the fighters.

The fierce warriors

Who stare you down,

Refusing to let you take

The love they give,

The life they live,

They never back down.

They fight and believe.

They are heroes,

Fortitude and fury

They battle until the body grows

Weary.

They teach…

Love, compassion,

And take back

What you sought to destroy.

For friends, family,

And mankind.

Help and hope–

To restore faith, belief,

And healing.

The beauty of sharing strength

Of loving support,

Of community and humanity,

And remind the world…

It’s not how you die

But how you LIVED!

I lost a dear childhood friend to cancer today after a 6 year battle. Even more, two amazing kids lost a mom and a loving husband lost his wife. A brother lost his baby sister and two parents lost their baby girl.

A year and a half before that, there was my father-in-law. And before that there was another few friends and an uncle…and the list goes on. Cancer has reared its nasty head in nearly everyone’s lives, but the miracle is in their relentless pursuit of life. Of living. Of never giving up, even if their bodies give out.

https://youtu.be/AHZCAcSh7ls

Power Of A Name

Ever have someone ask you something and the first thing that comes to mind is…”that’s an epically bad idea?” That’s what happened to me this week, and it was all around names.

Who knew I could have such a visceral reaction to something so simple?

But it makes sense, right? I mean, names help to define who we are expected to be by the world as well as who we feel we can become, right?

And as writers, haven’t there been characters you’ve agonized over, trying to find just the right name to suit their appearance and their temperament?

So what name set me in such a tailspin it shoved me back onto my blog (which I’ve missed, by the way, and I’ll go into where I’ve been another day)? The name Judas. One of my sweet co-workers asked me what I thought of that name for a little boy.

I admit it. I was pretty horrified.

Me: Why would you do that to a child?

Her: What do you mean?

Me: Do you have any idea of the connotations behind that name?

(She gave me that confused head tilt thingie that all dogs have down pat when they hear strange noises)

Her: Huh?

Me: Dude, Judas betrayed Jesus and got him killed! For 30 pieces of silver.

Male Co-worker chimes in: I think it’s a cool name.

Her: (looks over at me) She’s right, though.

Guy: But who was Jesus back then? A nobody. Why should he have cared? It was for money.

Me: (gasping in shock) Uh…even if you think back then Jesus was a nobody (and I definitely had no plans of getting into a deep theological discussion with two kinds I suspected weren’t very versed in that subject or history), he was supposed to be one of his best friends. They were together non-stop for 3 years! And he betrayed that friendship for 30 pieces of silver.

Her: That’s true. They were best friends.

Me: And, he felt so shitty afterwards that he committed suicide. Why would you want to put all that on a kid? Don’t you know that even to this day, when someone calls someone Judas they’re calling the person a traitor? And that happened a long time ago.

I didn’t even go into how much more time had passed compared to Benedict Arnold’s and how the negative connotations never disappeared.

As I thought back on that chat I got to thinking about all the effed up names out there. And I’m not just talking some of the sillier ones celebs come up with like Apple, etc. I mean, a good friend of mine in healthcare was telling me that she’d seen several people come in and write this ‘La-a’ one admission paperwork for their little ones. Unsure how to pronounce, she asked and was told (with a look telling her they thought she was stupid) “It’s La-dash-a!”

Am I the only one not cool enough to know that the proper words for punctuation marks are now to be part of the name?

And what names do you feel give bad juju anyone with the misfortune of having it? Are there certain names you feel predestine people for questionable career choices? And are there ones you absolutely love? How did you get your name? I’d love to hear from you!

Friends and Fitness

There’s something truly awesome about having a best friend who’s known you most of your life. Most rewarding? Those unique conversations that don’t require the niceties, the intros…but just get to the heart of the matter. After a talk with another close friend today, an old conversation with my best friend rose to the surface of my memory banks….surprisingly enough, it wasn’t the cabbage diet story….or how her husband proposed, but it still ranks right up there on the hilarious meter.

Her: Thank GOD I didn’t buy that stripper pole….
Me: Oh, good lord. Do I even want to know?
Her: Probably not, but that’s not going to save you.
Me: So what’s this stripper pole all about? Trying something new and kinky with the hubs?
Her: Ha! No. Actually, remember when I told you that I bought a new workout to help me get in shape for your wedding?
Me: Oh, God. Why am I suddenly afraid….
Her: Because you’re a smart woman.
Me: So….
Her: The new workout dvds I bought were stripper work outs. Pole optional.
Me:
::Snorts a small laugh::
Her: Go ahead. Laugh away. It was a good workout!
Me: So what happened?
Her: So there I was in the living room doing my workout when I looked over my shoulder and found my 2 year old daughter doing the bootie bounce right beside me.
Me: Oh my….(the laughter is now pretty hysterical)
Her: Never mind that her form was better than mine. She turned and asked me if she was doing it right. My daughter is not going to grow up to be a stripper!!! (Mild hysteria set in)
Me: (Choking back the laughter–or trying to) And you almost bought the pole? How’s daddy taking all of this?
Her: Oh, thank goodness the hubby was in another room and didn’t see. You know how protective he is. My problem is that I was planning on bringing her to church this weekend. Can you imagine? Her teacher asks her what she did this week and she’ll say she exercised and then decides to demonstrate? They’re going to kick us out!!!!

Exercise

Yeah. Fitness can be quite comical. There are all sorts of videos out there that claim to aid in “fitness”. Some of them even follow through on their promises.

I still remember as children, my mom had us acclimated to getting up and working out. Sometimes it was with 20 Minute Workout on tv, other times it was one of Jane Fonda’s videos. So when we went to visit my dad, my sister thought nothing of asking him if he had any exercise videos so she could get her exercise in. For a 10 year old she was pretty dedicated to fitness. It wasn’t until later that we understood the look of horror on my dad’s face. Apparently, the only “work out” tape he had was something called “Eroticise“. I’m pretty sure it was just nekkid exercise.

Today, while having lunch with a friend, a commercial for Shaun T’s Insanity workout came on. I laughed and mentioned that hubby had that particular set of workouts, but I’d never tried it. And then this happened…

Friend: I’ve tried that workout. It’s good, but hard.
Me: Yeah. Not me….although I have done my own Shaun T workout. He’s pretty good.
Friend: Which one?
Me: Hip Hop Abs. It was actually a lot of fun! Shaun T’s kinda hot & the music’s okay.
Friend: Dance ones can be fun…
Me: Can you picture doing those moves on a real dance floor, though?
Friend: Ha. Not even.
Me: There sure are some strange things that people turn into workouts.
Friend: Yeah, I know. The boyfriend has a Brazilian Butt Lift workout at home.
Me: Ha! Why do I suddenly have an image of some Brazilian dude cupping your boyfriend’s ass and “raising the roof”?
Friend: I’m so telling him you said that!

But seriously…. Think of all the different types of fitness videos that have come out over the years…from Jane Fonda to Richard Simmons and forward… There HAVE been some pretty strange ones.

I mean, I love Shaun T, but can you picture going to a club and using these moves? Gotta love Ellen…she makes it okay to laugh at yourself….

And actually, when I looked up the Brazilian Butt lift…I could see the appeal…

Hey…fitness is important, so you might as well have fun while you’re doing it. Which crazy workout videos have you bought? Or maybe you just “had a friend” who bought one? Which workouts do you love? Which ones made you laugh more than exercise? No sense in taking the fitness crazes so seriously that you can’t laugh a little… Or share some good ones with awesome online friends….;-)

Prevent A Summer Tragedy

I still remember that summer. It was nearly 30 years ago. I was 11 years old. Six months ago we’d moved back to the states. Six months ago my kid brother didn’t have two best friends named Chester and his cousin, Leo. They were both sweet kids. Rambunctious, playful…a lot like my brother. And they both wanted to marry me. Let’s face it, that was never going to happen. The boys were four years younger than me, but it was flattering.

Every summer our church used to have a group summer retreat at Little Grassy Lake in a small town near Carbondale, IL. They’d rent out cabins and have all sorts of fun events for the kids. This was our first summer to go. Many of the families headed out that Wednesday, but we weren’t able to leave until Friday and would only be staying for the weekend….or so we thought.

Even at 11, I knew something was horribly wrong when we arrived. Groups of people were clumped together. Close friends were huddled in circles. The sound of tears and wailing could be heard the instant the van door was opened. There was a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. This was too much like what it sounded like when my youngest brother died nearly a year before. Part of me wanted to wrap my arms over my ears to try to block out the noise that was tearing away at my heart. It was too much, too soon. But I couldn’t.

Instead, my sister, brother and I, along with one of the friends we’d come with held hands as we waited for her parents to find out what had happened. Unfortunately, voices carry…

“I can’t believe Chester Drowned!”

That horrible, horrible sentence seemed to be coming from every direction at once.

My head turned toward the bank further down the hill. Men in blue uniforms were there with a stretcher. Someone was strapped in and covered. Considering the distended belly I couldn’t imagine it could be the same, thin little boy who had argued with his cousin just last week about which of them was going to win my hand.

How was this possible, I wondered. There had been tons of people at the lake. Where had his parents been? Had they not been watching? But I knew better. His parents were protective! What about his many cousins? If he’d been screaming or flailing, he would’ve been rescued immediately! Unlike what happens in the movies, I can guarantee you this never happened. As if I hadn’t already learned how quickly a situation could turn fatal, this was one more example…

Sadly, the search afterward had been caught on video by one of the people there. Friends and family had been looking for him for about 30 minutes before they’d found him and pulled him out. He was already gone. It was the first time I’d seen what a drowning death looked like, and let me tell you, it’s nothing like the movies.

This year a link showed up in my Facebook talking about silent drowning. For Chester and because it’s summertime, I thought I needed to share the link here as well. You never know when it might save a life. Drowning, Quick And Silent-How To Spot Someone In Trouble

The other thing I’ll ask…. Please, please, PLEASE! If you have a pool, supervise your kids. Don’t leave it up to other children to watch out. My neighbors down the street had a few children…I’d see them playing in the street all the time. The youngest was about 2. The parents were never out there; instead they left it up to the 8 and 10 year olds to watch the younger ones. Coming home from work a couple years ago I drove past their house. It was surrounded by police, ambulance and fire trucks.

Thinking maybe one of the kids had finally been hit by a careless driver while playing in the street I said a silent prayer that the injury wasn’t very serious. It wasn’t until I got in to work that one of my employees asked if I knew the little 2 year old baby who’d drowned. Apparently, in the papers it noted that the child had been left in the “supervision” of an older sibling and had made it into the back yard. She’d fallen into the pool. By the time someone noticed it was too late.

I won’t go on a rant about careless parenting. They paid the ultimate price. No one deserves to feel that kind of pain. No child should have to go through that. What I will ask is that you educate yourselves…and love and protect your children. You never know when this knowledge could save a life.

 

Message Sent

I was talking to a friend yesterday. She’s the mother of three very active children… But, as we know, every child is different. Those differences extend to personality traits, clothing styles, and even appearances. Genetics can be funny in that you can have two siblings who look nothing alike…sometimes one takes after the father’s traits while the other mirrors mom. (And sometimes traits skip generations altogether…)

Why this biology lesson? Because she’d voiced her frustration about trying to find ways to reflect being a “fair” parent in the eyes of her children. Here’s where it got tricky. One child is at the perfect weight to match height and age, one is a bit underweight…the third one has tendencies towards being overweight regardless of how active the child is (and the child is active).

As we were talking she explained to me that with the underweight one she was having to find new and different ways to try to help him gain. These things included snack bars high in protein, etc. The problem was that the sibling who is a little over would see this and want one…and, unfortunately, sometimes her answer had to be, “no, baby, I’m sorry. This one just has way too many calories.”

The thing is, she struggles to find that fair line…and keeping her kids healthy and active. She’s a loving, attentive mother. It frustrates her because all she wants to do is keep her kids healthy, teach them proper eating habits and encourage things that she knows will help them with their self image in the future. She’s also been teaching them the importance of moderation…that there is nothing wrong with certain foods, but not to overindulge.

With all her careful coaching (through education on the ‘why’s’ behind the decisions she makes…in a positive, wholesome manner…which isn’t easy to do), she was quite taken aback to overhear a conversation between another mother and daughter the other day.

As she explained to me, the daughter was slender (maybe even a bit underweight) and an adorable pre-teen. She’d asked her mother if she could have something… I think maybe it was a kid’s cereal. The mother snapped at her daughter…”Do you want to be a fat cow?”

Now please don’t misunderstand… I’m okay with electing to have or not have certain types of food in the house. In fact, we don’t have soda in mine. I also grew up a vegetarian till I was about ten years old….and never felt like I was missing anything. What concerned me was the positioning of why the food wouldn’t be acceptable in the home. To me, it felt like she was sending the message to her daughter that she was either heading towards being overweight or was already there. Again, that’s just me.

It’s amazing how important a parent’s role and actions can be in a child’s body image perceptions. Am I a parent? No. But I do have a story to share… Shocker, right? 😉

I used to work with this woman. She was beautiful… Tall, willowy, blond…great shape (and boob job…that she was hugely proud of). She had a body builder boyfriend, so she made sure that she was in the kind of shape she deemed someone in his “fitness style” would have. How did she do this? She worked out like a crazy person…and she popped diet pills like they were candy. In fact, I later found out that she carried an extra pair of slacks in her car in case of an emergency. I asked the question some of you may be asking…what do you mean, in case of emergency? Well, apparently, one of the things these diet pills did was “cleanse your system”. That meant that sometimes she’d have “accidents”….that required her to change her pants!

No thank you! I don’t ever want to be that much a slave to “beauty”.

Here’s where the problem happened. She sat down across from me one day and began to vent.

Her: (big sigh) I just don’t know what I’m going to do!
Me: About what?
Her: My 12 year old is driving me crazy?
Me: Oh, being a pre-teen, huh? Those little rebellions or boy crazy?
Her: I wish! She’s doing well. She looks great. She made cheerleading this year.
Me: So what’s the problem?
Her: She’s been asking me if she can have some of my diet pills. I keep telling her she doesn’t need them! She looks great just the way she is!
Me: (tongue in cheek) Hmmm. Tell me something, Mom…. Where do you think she got the idea that she has to do all this stuff?
Her: What do you mean?
Me: Come on, Sweetie. Think about it… You look incredible…but what are you always doing? You don’t think she sees that? What message do you think you send to her every time you pop one of those pills?
Her: Well she doesn’t need them.
Me: And neither do you…but that doesn’t stop you. She looks up to you. She’s picked up on the message you send. She may be talented, smart and beautiful…just like her mom. But all she sees is all the things you do to your body.
Her: Hmmm.
Me: Just think about it….

The thing is, here in the States….we’ve got two extremes, and not enough in the middle. My buddy The Modern Philosopher tackled the issue of kids who aren’t active enough…and the opposite end of the spectrum (from a very unique point of view, I might add).

I guess my thoughts are…those of you who are parents…you have so much more influence on your children than you think, just not always the way you think. You can talk until the cows come home…but it’s what you do that people notice (and emulate).

As always, I’d love to know your thoughts. What things do you think are some tough issues that parents have to tackle? Have you seen/heard anything that’s made you kind of cringe inside? What kinds of examples have really wowed you?

For all you parents out there…you have a tough job. No one is ever perfect, but I sure do respect what you do.

What Did You Say You Wanted For Christmas?

As many of you know…I have a playful side. She demands to come out now and again… If you don’t believe me, you haven’t checked out my posts in the last couple of days.

Some of you know that I also had a retail background before I dedicated myself to writing…so in honor of that, my Christmas song is a bit of tongue in cheek humor aimed at commercialism and how off course we’ve gotten.  I dare you not to crack up!

I’d like to hear from you…what part made you laugh most? For me, it was Johnny Carson’s expressions.  I miss that man. (Did that just age me?)

 

Do I Matter Less?

I have a pet peeve. Actually, I have several…but today I’m going to bring up just one. Yesterday, in my social networking feed a post…or maybe it was an article…came through basically talking about this poor woman who’d been diagnosed with breast cancer. As you guys know from prior posts…cancer once again, recently hit my family. We lost a family member. I am completely sympathetic to this woman and her battle.

What set me off? The post read something like this “poor woman just had a baby, then was diagnosed with breast cancer…how tragic.” Really? Having a child is what makes this tragic? Because what that statement intimated to me was that if you don’t have children, then cancer isn’t nearly as tragic or devastating to you. Let me count the ways that this rubbed me wrong. First, I have a friend who developed bladder cancer as a small child. Treatments included issues with bodily function control..and did permanent damage to her reproductive organs, guaranteeing she will never have a child biologically speaking. And she still has health issues…not to mention is devastated every time she hears about someone else having a child…not because she begrudges them the joy. She doesn’t. She just wishes she could experience those joys for herself.

Another friend was unlucky enough to have inherited the BRCA gene which gives her an 87% chance of getting breast cancer and/or uterine cancer. This means that she is in the process of removing everything that makes her female as a preventative measure. Her sister also has this gene….but has children. So somehow this is so much more tragic for her sister. Really? This may sound a tad insensitive, but at least should something happen, her sister has a legacy she’ll be able to leave behind…not that you ever WANT to leave them behind.

I have another friend who had breast cancer, fought it, beat it…then developed uterine issues that concerned her oncologist enough to recommend a complete hysterectomy. Immediately. She’d been a career woman up to this point, not in any rush to have children…thinking she’d have time to find the right man first. The opportunity taken. By cancer.

And then there are the men…who also can be diagnosed and die of cancer…do they get less sympathy or empathy simply because they’re not able to give birth?

Ya’ll get the point. The thing is, I doubt that this is how the person posting meant to come across…but words are like that.

Unfortunately this isn’t the only time I’ve seen red over people with/without children. Please, don’t misunderstand… I LOVE kids. I adore great parents. I think it’s the best gift you could give both to your child and the world. (I was blessed with an amazing mom who is still my role model…no comment on dad.)

So you can imagine my shock and anger when on a conversation over the phone with a fairly new friend he tells me, “You will never truly understand or appreciate God’s love or grace until I have a child.” Really? Now most of you have already caught on to the fact that I’m a pretty controlled person…to a fault.

On that day my facade cracked. I believe my first (and most honest) response went something like this. “That’s asinine. Did you just hear what you said? Are you stupid?” And believe it or not, his comment hurt me so much that I was in tears. Because I understand only too well what a sinner I am…and I have read the Medical Description Of His Crucifiction. That kind of love outdoes even the sacrifices my mom made for me. I did not have to produce offspring to know or understand.

Honestly, that was also the beginning of the end to our friendship. Because as he explained his point of view, he just dug a deeper hole for himself, disqualifying everything because he was a parent. Because children make every person suddenly a good parent, right? (Infuse sarcasm here).
If only…

This also calls to mind a horrifically tragic situation that happened one day when I was working in the emergency. A family brought their 18 month old into the emergency room for lethargy and failure to thrive. They had no sooner got him into the back when he went into respiratory distress. The nurses lined up and took turns performing CPR, hoping to stabilize him while they did tests. It turned out he had a large tumor in his brain. His family was fundamentalist and didn’t believe in modern medicine except in emergent situations, so he hadn’t had any tests or doctors visits prior to this one. Unfortunately, the little guy didn’t make it.

As I sat there, hurting for this family…not wishing that kind of loss on anyone, I heard a family member say, “at least you have the other kids.” Like that negates the loss or care or heartache somehow? All I could think in my head was “Shut UP!” What kind of comfort was that?

See what I mean? Words! Whether intentional or not…they can have seriously damaging effects! Choosing them wisely can sometimes be the biggest gift you can give a person. They can also be the reason for ending things. I’ve occasionally been the person to choose words unwisely, but I try to be careful. I try to consider how my words might impact the people I love. But, I’m not perfect.

What statements or words have you heard that have set you off? Or cut you to the quick? What are your pet peeves?

I Bled For You

First and foremost, I want to say Happy Veteran’s Day. If you are a Vet and have served for your country…regardless of which country it is, know that I appreciate you and the job you did. I am sure it was not easy.

My blog posts the last couple of days have been fun and sexy, so I felt I needed to give notice…this next post is in honor of Veterans Day and is a little bit different. I was compelled to write a short story this morning. Most of you are well aware that the military is near and dear to my heart. Having grown up a child of the military has opened my eyes to all sorts of experiences and opportunities to really appreciate people and different cultures.

If you were ever made to feel that your contributions to our freedoms were not appreciated or respected, please know I appreciate you and the freedoms that you’ve enabled me to enjoy. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. We’ve had so many wars lately that many have not always agreed with. You were doing your duty and your obligation…regardless of whether you agreed with the reasons or the politics. You didn’t deserve to get caught in the crossfire. I’m sorry.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He was tired. Mentally, emotionally. The weight of guilt and grief and anger were a heavy mantle around his shoulders. Today when his little girl came home in tears because of him had been more than he could take. Feeling like a failure, he’d gotten into his car and drove.

Pete knew he should have probably let his wife know he was leaving. She would worry. She was a good wife and didn’t deserve all the hardships and sacrifices she’d been forced to face, mostly alone. He just couldn’t help himself. After looking into his 6 year old girl’s tear stained face and coaxing the story out of her he’d needed an escape. He didn’t want her to see the rage that was floating close to the surface.

Looking around, he found himself in the middle of nowhere. Up ahead, to the right, there looked to be an old abandoned church. The tiny building with it’s dark wooden doors flung open seemed to beckon him from the road. As he pulled up and put his car into park he noticed the decay. Tall weeds surrounded the building everywhere except along the rubble path and the steps made of carved gray stone. The white paint curled and chipped with heat and age.

Stepping out of his vehicle he looked up at the little cross at the steeple. He walked carefully up the steps noting the cobwebs in the corners of the door jams. Although the doors were open with welcome, it was obvious to him that no one had been here in a long time.

He contemplated the dark, scarred wood that made up the cross in the front of the sanctuary. His feet led him forward, down the aisle. Stopping at the second pew, he glanced down. They were in good condition.

“What the heck,” he thought to himself as he sat down, “I’ve got nowhere to go anyway.”

Gazing up at that cross he started talking.

“I didn’t ask for this war. I believe in this country and what it stands for. I enlisted hoping to better myself. I wanted to provide a better life for my wife and my daughter.”

He laughed bitterly. “Little good that had done,” he thought. That same little girl that he’d wanted to give the world to, whose birth he’d missed because he’d been deployed, was the same adorable face that had looked up at him, eyes swimming in tears.

“You look like you’re in a crisis of faith, son,” a voice came from beside him.

Looking over, he saw a gentleman sitting beside him. He must have been so lost in his thoughts that he didn’t even hear the man join him. In coveralls, little chips of wood and sawdust in his dark brown hair and clothing, the man was fairly nondescript. Pete figured he was probably a carpenter.

He tried for a friendly smile, but only succeeded with a grimace, “It’s been a rough day.” He snorted softly as he rolled his eyes, “Who am I kidding? It’s been a rough few years.”

“Care to talk about it?” The man asked warmly. “Sometimes it helps to tell a stranger.”

Pete didn’t trust easily, especially after the welcome he’d received when he’d gotten home from overseas. This war was doing some crazy things to this country he loved so much. Something about this man called to him.

He found himself speaking, “My six year old came home from school today, crying.”

He swallowed hard, blinking back tears of his own as her precious face swam into his memory, “She was playing with the neighbor kids in their yard when she overheard a couple of the parents talking. One of the parents said that they thought it was ridiculous that we were even in this war. That our soldiers were out there murdering innocent people for a selfish cause that nobody agreed with. As other parents nodded agreement someone else added that they couldn’t believe that soldiers just went along with it. According to these people I should have voiced my disagreement and insisted on coming home.”

Pete ran his fingers through his razor short hair and looked into the sympathetic brown eyes. “They never considered the damage their hurtful words would do to those innocent six year old ears.”

He huffed out a breath, “Who am I kidding? I doubt they even cared. I came home from the war to be greeted by picketers, hate and angry words. Why should they care about how their words affect my wife and daughter?”

“Only your wife and daughter?” The man beside him asked, eyebrow raised in a very astute question.

“No,” Pete answered. “Not just them. I left today because I was so filled with hurt and rage. I didn’t even tell my wife I was leaving. She’s probably worried sick. I didn’t want them to see me that way! I feel betrayed! I serve for love of those same people who hurt my daughter. Who mocked my trip home. I’ve done it so they can enjoy their lives. Enjoy their freedoms. They don’t know. They have no idea what I’ve seen. What I’ve heard so that they can taunt me and make my daughter cry. I still hear the explosions in my head. The screams and chaos that follows never quite go away. I carry it all with me. In my heart. Scarred on my soul.”

He looked at the kindly stranger whose face was filled with such understanding, “Part of me wants to scream at them. I bled for you. I died a bit for you. Don’t you see I do this for you? How can you turn away from me so completely? How can you make my wife and child so sad for love of me?”

The man gently put his arm around Pete’s shoulder. “I know how you feel. It’s not easy to be turned away by the people you love so much. When all the things you’ve given up or missed seem unnoticed and unappreciated. Hang in there. Give them time. One day someone will realize what you’ve done and how deeply you loved them. Go home to your wife. Your daughter. Give them a hug. They love you.”

With that little bit of wisdom, the carpenter stood up and walked away.

Pete thought for a moment about what the man said and turned around to thank him for his kindness. The man was gone. As he looked back toward the cross, prepared to head back home, he looked up again. For the first time he noticed Jesus. He shook his head. He didn’t remember him being there when he first walked in.

Shrugging he walked to the car. As he pulled the car back onto the road he realized three things. First, the guy on the cross had a very familiar face. He looked an awful lot like the guy he’d been chatting with. Second, as he thought back to that man, he remembered the scars he’d seen on his new friend’s wrists. Third, those voices in his head had stopped screaming for the first time in years the moment he’d entered that church.

He bowed his head for a moment to say thanks. Someone understood his sacrifices all too well. It was time to go home.

~~~~~~~~

The life of a soldier isn’t easy…not on them, not on their family. Here’s a song for those still in service and overseas.

And for this country that I love…

Tears For Angels

A little girl cried out
First for friendship, attention
Then in shame, begging for help
Understanding, forgiveness.
She was greeted
With derision and scorn,
Humiliation and laughter.
Did you see it?
I did.
Too late.

Another brave child,
Across the world
Dares to look for a better life.
Asks for peace and love
And learning.
Speaking out against violent oppressors.
So much stronger than her years.
Lies in a hospital bed
Shot.
For opening her mouth.
Did you hear?
I did.
I pray for her survival
And safety.

A baby,
Not even three
Beaten,
Then glued to a wall
For failing to understand
And follow rules.
She was
Too young to comprehend.
Maimed, disfigured
By the person sworn
To love and protect her.
Did you feel it?
I did.
Anguish.

My heart bleeds
For these precious gifts,
These angels,
Tossed away
Like rubbish.
It’s so tempting to wonder
Where is God?
Then I know…
He’s in the hearts
Of you and me
When we feel
And cry
And grieve…
Wishing we could do more.
It’s time to break silence
To heal hearts.
To love.
Boldly.
Regardless of consequences.
Our words and actions
The gifts he gives
To honor
Damaged hearts and souls.
Speak out!

These last couple of weeks have just been heart rending. On the news, on the internet…stories of yet one more innocent child lost or damaged Like I read on Nick’s Blog and Patricia Sands’ Blog along with so many others. Then I discovered Justine Musk and her blog touting the importance of following our dreams. Overall I felt pretty good, because that’s what I’ve been doing the last few months. I’ve been following my dreams. Writing. I haven’t shared my project with you guys yet because it’s not done yet. In the meantime, I share my writing with you guys through my poetry and work on sharpening my tools and my mind through my blog.

It was actually through the discovery of Justine’s blog that drew me to this time, this blog. I’d recently started following Marcia Richards’ blog after I’d discovered her through our Letter game blogs. In her blog she asked about what we were like at 14. Looking back I remembered I dreamed of being a neurosurgeon (this dream died a rapid death when I got to biology class and became bored 20 minutes into our frog dissection…don’t think that would translate well in brain surgery). I was a tomboy who still played tackle football with the boys in the neighborhood…and a die hard flirt. In fact, I’d been voted class flirt 3 years straight and was also voted most likely to be president. Back then I was madly in love with poetry….and a different guy every other week, LOL! But the thing was, all someone had to do was give me a subject or tell me how they were feeling and I was able to convert it into poetry. Like I said, boys came and went, but not my love for writing and poetry. That’s been an abiding love.

So when Marcia challenged me that with the right words, in the right venue, I could make a difference I thought about those words. I slept on them…and woke up in tears because I knew what I had to say, but didn’t know if I’d have words strong enough to take on this task. All I could do was try. I already had a song that filled my head last night. I knew what I needed to write about. It was practically slapping me in the face!

There is so much hurt in the world right now. So many people mistreated. Not accepted. Maybe it’s for the color of their skin. Their beliefs. Their sexual orientation. Past mistakes. Or maybe they’ve done nothing at all. I’m not a preachy person. But how could I not talk about love and not bring up God. Seriously. As I thought about this, I just pictured him looking down on this once perfect world he created and crying. I pictured those poor girls and prayed that he had angels standing on both sides of them, with their wings stretched out…shielding them, protecting them from any more pain or hurt or anguish. I felt like the message he was sending to me was a plea for love and forgiveness and acceptance…and for these poor children to know that they are not alone. We hurt for them. We accept them. We feel their pain and grief and despair. For the one little girl who is gone (along with many more who have not gotten the media coverage that she has)…they are not forgotten.

What about you? What do you believe? What’s been pressing on your heart? As one of my favorite romance authors, Julie Garwood, wrote in her book The Secret “One whisper, added to a thousand others, becomes a roar of discontent”. You can be the difference you want to see in this world. Are you up to the challenge? Tell me what you think!

I’ll leave you with that thought and this song: