Category Archives: Living with Questions

This post is not about immigrants


I was just minding my own business looking at the business of my Facebook friends, when I saw this quote:

“In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here does in good faith become an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with every one else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed or birthplace or origin. But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American and nothing but an American.

“If he tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin and separated from the rest of America, then he isn’t doing his part as an American.

“We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile. We have room for but one language here and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, and American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding house; and we have room for but one soul [sic] loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people.”5

This is an actual quote from Teddy Roosevelt, not in 1907 as the Facebook post asserted, but in 1919, according to Snopes, and with a link to an actual copy of the letter. Before I get to the reason I quoted this letter, let’s just note that the actual letter doesn’t have Theodore Roosevelt’s signature or name anywhere on it. So, I can’t prove Theodore Roosevelt wrote this.

I spent the hours of 8am – 215pm today in the process of getting to court, sitting on the hard benches for hours and hours and hours, watching my son get handcuffed and taken to jail, and then coming back home. What a revolving door that jail has.

The reason I am posting the above is not because of immigrants. It is because of people who use drugs. This is how I would rewrite this to illustrate my thinking after my time in court this morning:

“In the first place, we should insist that if the junkie who gets sober does in good faith become a person who is committed to recovery and assimilates himself into the behaviors, habits, and decisions that reflect true recovery, he shall be treated just as a non-drug user. But this is predicated upon the addict’s becoming in very fact a non-drug user and nothing but a non-drug user.

If the addict tries to keep segregated with others who are either recovering or active addicts and keeps himself away from those who are in long-time recovery or even those who aren’t addicts in the first place, then he isn’t doing his part as a recovering addict.

We who do not use drugs have room for but one stance on drugs; do not use. We have room for but one language here, and that is the language of recovery, for we intend to see that the crucible of drug court and rehab turns out people who are CLEAN, who are in ongoing recovery, and not as dwellers in some non-specific wishy-washy boarding house where the boarders continue with the habits, thinking patterns, and choices that brought them to drug court in the first place. We have room for but one sole loyalty: loyalty to recovery.”

I’ve been to Courtroom 500 enough times now that I am getting familiar with some of the defendants. And even for the ones I do not know, the stories are familiar. “dirty drop,” “missed urine test,” “failed to report for probation check-in,” “got another charge having to do with drugs, OVI, DUI, driving on a suspended license, failure to control a motor vehicle.” Of the men who were in rehab with Eli, two overdosed this past weekend, and four more were in court today for various offenses.

Drug Court is a great idea, but I would love to see men and women only admitted to Drug Court if they demonstrated a desire for recovery, not just a desire to avoid a felony. And by demonstrated a desire for recovery, I mean they SHOW by their ACTIONS a willingness to BECOME A NON-DRUG USER.

What would some of those actions be?

  1. Submit a written overview of their financial situation. Include photocopies of bank statements, wage garnishment orders, credit card statements, letters from creditors.
  2. Show someone in charge their cell phone contacts, and explain who each and every one is. Make lists of the ones who bring out the best, and the ones who pander to the worst version of the addict. Delete immediately anyone who is part of the drug life.
  3. Be willing to answer to the best of their ability questions about their family situation, their own understanding of why they use drugs, their own words about why they wish to become a non-user, and a personal mission statement regarding the intentions for recovery and how they plan to fulfill those intentions.
  4. Create, with help, a plan for how to pick up the pieces when the addict fails in any particular area. Everyone makes progress at different rates, and relapse is nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s also nothing to ignore or take lightly.

And before any one of the above actions is required, the staff crafts a mission statement on what it means to be trustworthy. Without trust, relationships cannot be repaired. The leaders in rehab and recovery must have an extremely clear description of and reason for being trustworthy, if they expect addicts to trust them.

Give each addict a week or two to get into the recovery process and get the drugs out of their system, but then get serious about recovery.

Other things that need desperately to be addressed with these men and women:

  1. The importance of creating and living by a personal conduct code which includes being in integrity. Oh, they don’t come from a world where people are in integrity? Well, fine. Teach them how to do it no matter where they come from.
  2. Helping them discover why they might want to learn how to do what they say they are going to do, or not make promises they cannot keep.
  3. How to take care of their physical bodies. Why it matters what you eat. What sleep does for you. What a lack of sleep does to you. This doesn’t have to be polemic or political. Treat them like the intelligent people that most of them are; give them the data. Let them make their own decisions, but also help them be clear about why they are making those particular decisions.
  4. Why it might be possible to believe that there could be something better than taking the easy way. Structure the rehab or recovery program so that they have opportunities to do the hard things for reasons other than they might get kicked out.
  5. Release the punishment mentality and get into a reinforcement mentality so addicts learn what POSITIVE things get them reinforcement. What I have seen is that the worst guys get the most attention; the bad behaviors make the biggest splash; and everyone is focused all the time on catching the addict doing something wrong.

I tried to do these things in my own situation. I taught about taking care of oneself, being willing to do the hard things, doing what you say you are going to do, and lots more, but without a clear demonstration by a person that they do want to be in recovery, the same attitudes and actions recur again and again.

YEAH, I KNOW hella addicts use because of personal pain, often times pain they aren’t even able to articulate. So what? We all have personal pain, and we all deal with it in different ways. For the addict, it is true that if they are in drug court, they have chosen a path that is going to lead either to prison or to death. That is where drugs lead. Of course I realize there is some percentage of users who use without getting into legal trouble and who use while maintaining a life that they want. But the VAST majority of users are not in that situation.

“Fake it till you make it” and “Attitude follows action” are two of the most powerful concepts I know of that advocate for doing the right thing before you feel like doing the right thing.

My basic gripe with the system is that it perpetuates situations where people will comply with rules only because they are punished. People who use drugs can’t even comply with the rules under threat of punishment because they don’t have anything else to think about or do that seems remotely as appealing as getting high. So when is “the system” going to look at helping these men find something that is remotely as appealing as getting high?

Although education is incredibly important for addicts, it isn’t enough to know the steps that happen before you use. It isn’t nearly enough to say the words without meaning them. (exception: fake it till you make it means that sometimes we keep trying to get there by saying the words and doing the deeds until we really feel it) It isn’t enough to have a few minutes of different experience where you feel the positive vibes that come from saying thank you instead of taking things for granted.

How in the world the court personnel come to work day after day and say the same words to the same people over and over again, I do not know. How I can make a difference in the life of even one addict, I do not know. Tell me where the arena is and I’ll get into it. But don’t just expect me to get in the ring with the lion who has no intention whatsoever of doing anything other than biting me in half.

Hours on a hard bench in a courtroom are never fun. Knowing that I am there for an entirely preventable reason can make me irritated and angry.

Of course there are no easy answers to these questions, but maybe there are some simple adjustments we could make if only we could find the leadership to do it. How can I be part of that leadership? Believe me, I’m thinking about that question.


Thoughts from this side of Recovery

Talk about unoriginal! I must be the millionth parent who has stepped right into the trap of working their loved one’s recovery way harder than the loved one does.

There was a point in this process when I was desperate, when I didn’t know if I would ever see the door close behind me regarding drugs and all the chaos that go along with them. During that climb up the hill of trying so hard to make everything better, I HAD to share my feelings.

The first time being in the courtroom, thinking MY son was different, thinking that *I* had resources and experiences and education that the other parents didn’t have, and therefore *I* would be able to effect a different outcome for my son. (Poor little maroon, as Bugs would say.)

However true it may be that I have resources and experiences and education THAT lady over there doesn’t have, it’s really not about my resources, experiences and education, except from the point of view that I have to work MY OWN recovery using those resources, experiences, and education.

Then came the big R, REHAB. Again, you’ll excuse me if my optimism and naivete stayed intact during that process. I secretly thought that if I just said the right words, thought the right thoughts, provided the right provisions, asked the right askings, and boundaried the right boundaries, MY son would come into his own as the beautiful, talented, articulate man that he is.

All is not lost. I will not share the details at this time so as to protect the privacy of my family, which I haven’t really worked too hard to protect in the process of blogging. My purpose in writing today is to acknowledge that I had a “come to not Jesus” moment over the course of this past week when I really realized I am working WAY harder on this than my loved one is.

In seeking to discover what it means to respect his journey and his path, I have to be less “nice” than I am inclined to be. I have been picking up the slack in an area for him and told him last night that I would no longer do that thing, but that I would still be glad to help if he asked for it. He did not ask and the consequences were just as I expected they would be. (Maybe that’s another post in itself, looking at what I am expecting from him if I’m not there to guide his every step.)

The hardest thing in the world is to watch someone who doesn’t believe in themselves repeatedly reject offerings of love and opportunities for empowerment. And yet, that someone is in charge of their own life. I AM NOT IN CHARGE of anyone else’s life.

I am writing today partly to acknowledge myself for sticking to what I said I would[n’t] do. It is healthy for me to respect the person and allow them to walk their own path their own way.

This is an unsettled place to be for me, but I believe it is the right place to be.

Huh, upon closer examination, it looks like I am actually RAPPELLING off the mountain.


Yours very truly,

Ninja in Recovery

Visiting the Inpatient Facility

Although I didn’t get to visit the actual in-patient himself, I stopped by today to drop off money for phone cards and vending machines. 

This post isn’t really about that. It’s about the scene outside when I left. A big group of people were milling about, smoking. Most, if not all, were covered in tattoos, both the men and the women, and I could hear snippets of conversation as I made my way down the sidewalk. At least every other word I heard was the f-word. 

I stepped into the parking lot and had this thought. “Those people are so ugly.” Whoa! What happened to my compassion? Where is the calm understanding that “everybody is I.”? (Someone tell me if that punctuation is wrong. It makes the most sense to me.)

Maybe it wasn’t the people who were ugly, actually. Maybe it was just the dark energy that was emanating from them, back and forth to each other, and outward. 

Sometimes when I am closest to the population who are on the wrong side of  the law, I look at them, with their sloppy clothes, undergarments visible, bad teeth, cigarette smoking, slouching desperation and I just want to straighten them all out. I just want to say, “Take care of yourself. Present yourself the best you can. Show that you value yourself.” 

But that’s the thing, isn’t it? They don’t value themselves. I don’t even think a lot of them even understand that concept. Where would they experience being valued? I wonder what would bring some beauty and light into the lives of people who are lost, struggling, and hopeless. 

I know plenty of people who would say that is what Jesus does. If it’d been Jesus walking down the sidewalk, maybe he’d have stopped to chat with them. And said something about how he satisfies more than any drug. But, well, it wasn’t, and Jesus was around a long time ago, and I’m still thinking through how to talk with people who are addicted. Of course, I can say hello and just be generally kind and respectful, but that might be lost on people who don’t really get kind and respectful.

But at least being kind and respectful would be a step above walking by and telling myself they’re really ugly. What would you say if you walked by? Would you speak to them? How would you try to connect? 

Worldviews and Circles

I have a lovely Christian friend who is willing to listen and talk about our different worldviews and beliefs. Today we disagreed on whether the Christian worldview is like a circle. He didn’t think so. He said it is something between a circle and an unnamed, unnameable shape. We came to the end of our drive before we ever came to any agreement, and I came rather late to the idea of seeking first to understand, before I sought to be understood.

I think the term I was actually looking for was “closed system.” Good old says a closed system is “a complete and seemingly unchangeable set of doctrines, ideas, or things; a self-contained system that is unaffected by outside influences.” And while my former faith, in its history, has had changes in doctrines over the years, there is still an aspect of it that is closed. 

Closed does not equal closed-minded, although certainly there are adherents who are closed-minded. With any belief system, when you have basic tenets and assumptions that the rest of your system in based on, then the system is going to be a closed system.

I’ve been thinking about the abortion debate a lot lately. Let’s say someone believes that an abortion is the act of taking the life of a human being. They will start with the belief that each fertilized egg is a human, not simply a “potential” human. With that underlying assumption, then each act of abortion, no matter the circumstances or how far along the pregnancy is, will be taking the life of a human. This someone also will believe that it is wrong to take the life of a human. And will most likely believe that it is up to those of us who have power and autonomy to take care of those who are not able to take care of themselves. I would think this person would also believe then that a woman should carry a pregnancy to term. Maybe this person would allow for killing the baby or terminating the pregnancy if the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother, but that idea can be expressed in multiple ways.

So, if a pro-choice person and a pro-life person are going to have a discussion, how can there be any agreement when the fundamental assumptions are completely opposed? The circle of belief for the anti-abortion person would be as follows: Every fertilized egg is a human. We respect and value every human life. We believe that babies should be protected in their mothers’ wombs, and should not be able to be killed, no matter how young they are and how viable. Therefore, abortion is wrong. Do not do it.

The pro-choice person on the other hand may also be opposed to abortion personally, but surely has accepted the idea that no one has the right to tell another woman that she must carry or must not carry a pregnancy to full-term. They may use the term “products of conception,” rather than fetus, or baby.

It seems to me that there are two very different belief systems at work here. One says the unborn child is the priority. The other says the rights of the woman are the priority. Do I have that right? That’s my understanding. Therefore, if this is the case, pro-choice and pro-life people do not have any common ground whatsoever.

I hear people talking about how pro-life people are opposed to free contraceptives, paid parental leave rights, subsidized pre-school, and other family support systems. When I hear people talking about how Someone should hand out free condoms, I wonder if they really understand that there are plenty of men who are not interested in using condoms, and plenty of women, seemingly, who are willing to have a sexual relationship without one rather than insisting on using a condom. In other words, I think you actually could make contraception free to every person in the US and that would not reduce the abortion rate by much at all. That is my intuition: This article gives some data about the facts of the matter.

Nowhere do I ever hear anyone talk about the fact that there are times when a pregnancy is unwelcome, but ultimately transforms into a welcome or even life-changing experience.

I suppose the bottom line is actually do I have to submit to any other authority other than my own? I suggest that pro-choice people tend to answer that question NO, and pro-life tend to answer it YES.

Back to my original thesis. Christianity, as one of many belief systems, is a closed system. When a Christian and an atheist or agnostic have a conversation, the Christian starts from the point of view that God created everything, God is in control, and the Bible supports that and more. It just seems logical to me that if the atheist or agnostic believes in evolution and therefore not in God as creator, believes that the Bible is a book that is important to many but not the authoritative manual for everything, and that there doesn’t seem to be anything or anyone in control, then the conversation is going to be like two people in burst-proof bubbles shooting comments back and forth and ultimately nothing changes.

Unless the two sides of any debate can decide on some common ground, how can there ever be consensus? I think part of my role in this life is to be a person who finds common ground with others, and who helps those with opposing views to find common ground. Not exactly sure how that is going to work, but I do feel like it is part of who I am and what I want to bring to our world.

Questions about Being Lovable and Worthy and Believing the Same

painting by Susan Taylor

My original post title was “Who gets to believe I am lovable? Who Decides Whether I am Worthy?” Those questions have a simple answer. The answer is “I do.” I may have different reasons than you for believing I am worthy. Some people, especially those in my former system of belief, belief they are worthy because Jesus died on the cross for them, taking THEIR sins upon him and rendering them righteous. The concept that Jesus died on the cross for someone has been explained to me that he would have died for just one person, which suggests that his love is amazing and infinite and supersedes anything I have ever thought about myself.

I don’t know about you, but I know plenty of Christians who do not see themselves as lovable and worthy. I used to be one. But that’s not the focus of this post. However you get there, each person has the opportunity at some point (or at multiple points) to decide YES I AM ENOUGH, I AM WORTHY.

What makes someone decide they ARE enough? What changes the mind of the self-loathing individual into a mind of a self-affirming, compassionate individual? What beliefs must change in order to become someone who believes him/herself to be worthy of love and care?

These are the questions that are uppermost in my mind today because my beloved son had a great disappointment yesterday and turned to his best friend for consoling. Every time he does this, the net he is caught up in legally gets more and more complicated to extract himself from.

I wrote recently that I wonder what resources these young people are expected to draw upon by the drug court personnel to find what they need to decide they are worth doing the hard work for, worth changing their lives for the better. I’m starting to feel that question pulsing, insisting on an answer.

One of the most important things that ever happened to me was to discover someone who believed that I could come up with my own solutions to issues I was facing. Through that someone, I met a wonderful life coach who is extremely good at what he does. When I started the process, I did NOT believe I was worth celebrating. I did not believe I was a good person. I believed, actually, that I was quite a bad person. Someone defective. Fundamentally broken.

In the process of receiving this excellent coaching, I not only began to understand, but to experience and practice finding solutions to the challenges that faced me. One of the steps in my coaching was to create “my empowering beliefs.”

my empowering beliefs ** i am focused ** i have freely received, i am freely giving ** i am giving myself the gift of feeling good ** i am contributing ** i am solving problems that arise ** i bring joy to myself and others ** i am worth it! ** i am moving through obstacles ** i have momentum ** i am focusing on what IS working, what i WANT ** i have so much life in me to live and share with others ** i am showing up ** i empower others by showing up and being honest ** i give what i give unconditionally ** i am feeding my body and my brain ** oh, oh, [i will] listen to the music … all the time my empowering beliefs

On the same page I typed these beliefs, I also added a photograph of one of the only paintings I’ve ever painted, which is filled with color and joy.

I’ve probably had multiple opportunities throughout my life to decide whether or not I would choose positive thoughts about myself or negative ones. But it wasn’t until another opportunity came up and I decided this time I would choose the positive thoughts. Thoughts change our physiology and our mindset and our point of view and our ability to be with other people and our ability to love ourselves and others.

Articulating one’s empowering beliefs is certainly ONE of the resources I believe could have an impact on these young people (and older ones!) and help them find their way through drug court or addiction and recovery. Am I just naive? Is it possible for me to contribute to the process that addicts go through to get healthy? I believe so. Maybe I’m too close to my son to be this person for him, but what if what I have to offer is actually something that could help addicts find their way through recovery? I just wonder.

We Are All to Blame; We Can All Be Part of the Solution

I used to be friends with someone who saw a lot of conspiracies in our government. She was always ready to believe the conspiracy theory. I, on the other hand, have never been a conspiracy theorist. Maybe that has been to my detriment, since it means I am always trying to see both sides of the issues.

In re: the videos we have been seeing of policemen who were in the process of using violent means to subdue citizens. The worst video I saw was on Facebook the other day. It was a mashup of multiple instances of violence being administered by law enforcement officers. The reason it was the worst was because the maker of the video had looped the most inflammatory clips, so the overall effect was just horrifying.

It’s probably no secret that I tend to come down on the side of law and order on most issues. My thinking has evolved as I have attempted to understand better that I am certainly one who experiences white privilege. By the same token, my license and plates are valid, I do not have any outstanding warrants; i do not drive while intoxicated; I am cooperative with the authorities when I have occasion to be in contact with them.

There are those who believe the police are out of control; who intentionally murder people, especially people of color; who use any opportunity at all to escalate small issues into confrontations that turn deadly.  The other side seems to be those who believe the police are basically always right, that if anyone, including people of color, simply cooperate, they will never be treated unfairly.

What I think it getting lost in the current internet flame wars is this: both sides are right and both sides are wrong. I was thinking about this man, Sam Dubose, who was killed by the UC policeman last week. I can’t agree with the people who watch the body cam or dash cam over and over and decide they know exactly what happened every second of the interaction, whether or not the entire thing is visually accessible. We can think we know, but we are limited in our understanding.

I didn’t know Sam Dubose, and I certainly would not have anything against him. What I do understand, now that I have had the opportunity to be a part of the legal system, is that once you are in that system, it’s really hard to get out. If you have been convicted of a drug offense and have lost your license and you get pulled over by a policeman who then discovers you are driving without a valid license, this can mean you are sent to jail because it violates your probation or it can prolong whatever sentence or diversion you are part of. It can mean you wait in jail until you can be brought before the judge to have that probation violation addressed, and/or receive the judge’s sentence regarding your violation. When you are pulled over and you don’t have a valid license, or you are driving uninsured because you couldn’t keep up the payments while you were in rehab or jail, or both, you now have multiple legal issues to face.

I don’t know whether Mr. Dubose had a license, but that’s not the point. The point is, there are many people in our country who are part of the justice system records for past or current violations. I can imagine that sometimes when someone is pulled over who knows there might be a warrant out for their arrest or knows that one more screw-up means jail time, ESPECIALLY if they are using drugs, their mind doesn’t think like a generally law-abiding person who knows there is nothing for the policeman to find when he/she runs their license through the database.

To me, this makes a difference. To me, it also makes a huge difference that policeman are dealing with situations very often that can escalate in an instant. They ARE making split second decisions and DO have a real awareness that their lives could be in danger.

When we see video of a woman who gets pulled over for not signaling a lane change, and then the incident escalates because she refuses to put her cigarette out, it is just so easy to think we have the whole story. It’s very easy to think the cop should have just let it go that she didn’t signal, but since he didn’t, why did she think it was ok to resist him so vociferously? It’s easy to say she shouldn’t have had to put out her cigarette in her own car, but since he asked her to do so, what could be the benefit of resisting that?

I guess I’m just wondering what the alternative is. If a policeman issues a “lawful order,” and the citizen refuses to comply, what do we think should happen? There are multiple options between the extremes of shooting down the citizen and cheerily sending them on their way, but those are certainly the two we see being bandied about for the most part.

Think about parenting. When a parent says no to a child, draws a line in the sand, as it were, what happens if the parent does not follow through? The child learns that he doesn’t have to do what the parent says, and pushes even further next time..

The police are not parents, and we are not children, but there is a comparable relationship when it comes to authority and power. A parent can overpower a kid with physical punishment and win, but that’s not the best choice by any means. The best situation is when a child and her parents understand that the parents are an authority and what authority means.

This type of relationship doesn’t preclude questioning. It doesn’t mean you can never disagree. But it does seem to me that understanding and respecting someone’s authority means that both sides understand that authorities have “the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.”

So, it seems to me like the basic need is for those in authority to understand how to wield that authority, and those under authority to understand how to submit to that authority. Until those two conditions are met, there are no doubt going to be way too many altercations that go bad.

If I’m driving a car, there are multiple ways my car can be non-compliant with the law. Some I may not know about. Many times, those driving non-compliant cars are aware of the non-compliance. I think there is a mindset of trying not to get caught, especially in those who are enmeshed in the justice system to one degree or another. I guess it just seems to me like if you do get caught — speeding, broken taillight, window tint too dark, not stopping fully at a stop sign — you have to face the consequences. If you are compounding things by having drugs or drug paraphernalia in your car, you have to face the consequences. The consequences of a routine traffic stop should not be to be shot and killed, and I think it ceases being a routine traffic stop when you try to drive away while you are being detained.

Maybe a great place to start would be for each of us to ask ourselves what we think about authority? Who do we recognize as an authority in our own lives? What happens in a group or family or society when all of the members decide their only authority is themselves? Is it possible to recognize and practice our personal power while still submitting where appropriate? Anecdotally, we can all no doubt find examples of authority being wielded like a weapon, and authority which has no teeth in it at all. How can we find a place of unity in understanding each other, and working together for the common good?

Do I Dare to Give a Peach?

Apologies to T. S. Eliot, J. Alfred Prufrock, and English majors everywhere.

Last week, in the middle of the afternoon, an ambulance stopped in front of the neighbor’s house. Many of our neighbors are elderly, so sometimes an ambulance is really a portend of the end of someone’s life. As I got my Gladys Kravitz on, the paramedics took the gurney in and came out in shortly, with the Mr. sitting up, looking quite alive, but not very well. Shortly after the ambulance left, the Mrs. and the Junior left as well. I was relieved the next day to see them arrive back home, but sad to see how frail Mr. was.

In the midst of this, it occurred to me, “I haven’t been a very good neighbor.” I don’t even know why their adult son lives with them. Is he a veteran who has PTSD and is unable to keep a job? (my working theory)  I’ve talked to the Mr. and the Mrs.  a few times over the past 16 years, but not many at all.

My experience of having my kids has meant that standing at the fence and chatting with neighbors isn’t something I’ve been able to do very much. If I did venture over, there were always little people behind me saying, “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom.”

When I saw the Mr. go off in the ambulance, I decided I wanted to be more neighborly. Today, I walked across the street and knocked on the door. Since no one came, even though it was late morning, I hesitated to ring the doorbell lest they be in the middle of some medical procedure or other care of the patient. So I waited, and then walked back to my yard.


Later, I saw that Greg had brought me some peaches from Washington, which he knows I love. And I had a brainstorm. Take a couple of the peaches over to the neighbor. Now it was 2:30 in the afternoon, and I felt more confident that I wouldn’t be waking anyone up, although since I have never been in their house, I don’t know what I was basing that on. As it happens, I caught them at lunch, but the Mrs. was clearly touched by my visit and my gesture.

She mentioned watching Kepler get on the school bus in the mornings and noticing that some days he goes out by himself to the bus, a sure sign he is growing up. We finished talking, and we hugged.

I felt wonderful about the connection I had just made with her. I’m not about to castigate myself for not being more neighborly with the folks here. The people on our street mainly keep to themselves. It is the culture of our street and has worked just fine for us. But I think I would like to have relationships with any of the neighbors who are interested.

When we first moved in, I visited my next-door neighbor and she told me during the course of our conversation, “I don’t need the neighbors. I have a life.” I guess that sort of set the tone for me. We did grow close to one family, but they moved away about five years ago.

This is one place where it’s never too late to start.

Not that I have nothing to say,

It’s just really late.

I’ve got an exciting potential volunteer op in the works. Husband has an exciting potential consulting job coming. 

Made a couple of big decisions I feel good about.

And had a great day with Kepler. Another day of learning how to teach him and work with him. It’s kind of exciting to discover my ability to adjust to his way of learning, and kind of exciting to discover his way of learning. 

We’ll see what tomorrow brings. Good night.

On Josh Duggar; or How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

One of my FB friends “liked” a post by someone else which mentioned something about Josh Duggar molesting some girls when he was a teen. Piqued my curiosity, so I went looking for deets.

I have heard of the television show but have never watched it, nor would I be interested in it at all. I do not follow the Duggars in any form, nor look to them as any source of information, education, or anything that I would desire. So, let’s just get that straight. OK.

I visited a couple of websites to see what the story is that is being reported. And I read some of the comments. My initial response to both the story and the comments is grief at the brokenness that is part of a boy who would act out like he did, grief at the shame and pain that the girls would have experienced, no matter how they were counseled afterwards, and grief that people feel so very free to condemn josh duggar, his parents, his beliefs, christianity, christians, and anyone who would dare to suggest that someone like josh duggar deserves anything other than a slow death by the most painful means possible.

My response to the story is this. I DON’T KNOW all the details, and therefore really cannot speak to it other than to say I do believe that healing exists and occurs relative to sexual molestation, and I do believe that forgiveness exists and occurs when people hurt other people. Which means, even though I don’t know what happened and where all of the players are now, I believe that healing and forgiveness are truly possible.

Josh Duggar is outside of the scope of any legal ramifications, from what I understand, but the School of Life has certainly brought an opportunity to him to face up to and take responsibility for the choice to hide something so serious, and to take responsibility for his future course regarding being in a position of authority in an area where he may still very much have deep wounds.

Blogging about these things opens me up to expressing my thoughts as well as being in a position to receive comments from readers who disagree, or agree, or a little of both. I had the opportunity to interact on Facebook about my post from yesterday with someone from high school I have not talked with in many years. He is deeply involved in the eastern orthodox church, I believe, and has written several books about politics. The point he made initially confused me, but as I thought I about it, I realized he had a legitimate point and I learned from what he said. Maybe he learned from what I said, too, but sometimes it seems like the more confident one is in one’s beliefs, the harder it is to really listen to someone else’s point of view. At any rate, the interaction was rich and welcome, and I am so glad for the opportunity to interact with people I know and those I do not know in real life via my blog.

Thanks for reading.

If I were Brave

It’s been awhile since I have attended a Sunday morning service at my last church. This place is really top-drawer when it comes to quality of video and music, but I still found myself aggravated within about a minute of the service starting. This place is really directed to twenty-somethings, and the stage is full of young people earnestly singing, playing instruments, and giving the standard Sunday morning routine at this particular church, talking up the upcoming events and how many people they need and how to sign up, and then showing some crash hot stats about the big effects the Financial Peace University has been having on the group members, and finally segueing from there into a time “to be generous, to fuel the life-changes that happen around here” (i.e., give an offering).

Texted my Christian, non-church-going sister and said pray for me to get through this service, sort of tongue in cheek. She reminded me that if I was looking for things to be irritated about, I would most definitely find them, so she encouraged me to focus on whatever good I could see in the service. I agreed and signed off.

Oh, by the way, the reason I was even there is because I wanted Kepler to be able to attend his class, and Greg had left this morning for his next business trip. Either I had to go, or Kepler wouldn’t get to.

So I listened to the message, which was presented by the senior pastor from a place in Israel. (similar to a destination wedding, I suppose). I’m not exactly sure what the theme of the message was today, but I did notice that the call to action was basically to do a brave thing. He mentioned several things, including have a child, and ask a girl out. Although those are the only two I remember, I am not suggesting that his suggestions were frivolous. The main point I came away from it with was that anybody with any beliefs at all could suggest that their listeners be brave and do the brave thing.

The brave thing that came to mind for me is to embrace parenting Kepler like I did parenting the big kids. But I don’t want to. I worked so so so so hard with my older kids, having certain expectations and a clear attachment to the outcome, and all that has happened is that I have had to discover more and more how to allow them to be their own unique individuals, accepting that each of them are on their own journeys, and that their journeys look different than I thought they would.

(Some of my kids occasionally read my blog, and I want to clarify that even though my expectations and attachments to outcome were foiled, I believe that it is a good thing that each of them is on their own journey. I believe it is right that part of my learning is to allow each of them to walk their own path. I an thrilled with the people that they are. I just recognize that there was a just a lot that young mother me did not know.)

I believed back then. I believed that what I was teaching them was right, that homeschooling was a fabulous idea, that church involvement was a pre-requisite for a satisfying, upright life. I believed in black and white back then. I believed I knew what was black and what was white.

I trust the Universe enough to recognize that there are no doubt aspects to embracing parenting Kepler wholeheartedly that would change me for the better, and few that could possibly change me for the worse. But I haven’t figured out my why for this. I guess with the big kids, my why was so unconsciously strong, I never had to stop and think about it much. I believed in self-improvement and perfection, to the detriment of understanding the importance of contributing to the greater good. It sucks pretty much to look back now and think I was lacking in such basic understandings.

There are ways in which parenting Kepler feels like it is something more than I can actually handle on my own. I have no idea how to fight for inclusion for him in the school system. I have no idea how to persevere with teaching a child who learns so much more slowly. I really have no idea how to motivate myself to be enthusiastic about teaching him, to be enthusiastic about trying new and different things to help him learn information. How to continue to set boundaries and enforce them over and over and over and over again.

I might have missed a terribly important window back when he was tiny and I was reeling from his birth. Basically, I think I’m probably just going about this all wrong. But I really don’t know how else to approach it.

No tidy lesson today. No breakthrough yet. Just some honest wrestlings with the circumstances I am in. But I’ll leave you with a song by Jana Stanfield that continues to inspire me, even in the midst of these questions: