Thursday, July 10, 2014
Back to regular blogging :) Today I got a surprise in the mail. My father had sent a box filled with old pictures from my childhood and all sorts of old report cards, tooth fairy letters, Christmas lists I had written. I spent the afternoon walking down memory lane. Somethings made me laugh, like my insistence to the tooth fairy that for my first tooth I wanted a Susan B Anthony coin, and then for my 5th tooth I wanted gum and 10 dollars. Others made me tear up, like an old book my mother read to me all the time as a child that when I saw the pictures my eyes filled with tears. Even typing this I had to pause and go wipe away the tears. I had so many memories flood me as I looked at the old pictures of me and my siblings and the early days of my marriage. Why is it we only appreciate things after they have passed? Or maybe its just me. I remember during those days thinking everything was so normal or even dull or frustrating. I used to live so close to my parents and siblings that we would get together for every holiday, weekend, bbq. I would meet my sister at the park so our children could play. I sat in my basement and sang songs with my brother. When anyone needed a sitter, family was just there. It was all I had ever known and yet my heart was drawn to see the world and experience new things. After my mom died part of me wanted to leave the painful memories and make new ones. So we moved away 8 years ago. I can see how great it was for me in many ways. It made me take chances and learn how to be independent. In some ways I look back and regret that I didn't stay, that I let those connections fall. What I have learned though is no amount of close friendships can replace family, even if you argue or don't see eye to eye, family is family. You have a red thread that passes through that binds you together forever (or maybe this is just the Italian in my family blood). Even now I am guilty of missing the moment. Held back by frustration or fears I neglect to think about 10 years down the road when we pull out the pictures how precious these days are. I forget that those strong bonds my mom and I had through a book or a hug trumped any bad day. That for my children I may make mistakes, they will make more but someday they will pull out a picture or a book and remember how much they loved. I need to learn how to enjoy the moment and stop seeking the future and missing the past. I think that for me living like this is much easier. I am a deep feeler, I have a hard time shutting off my emotions unless I can box it out in my mind. The hardest stuff I tuck deep away. My dad use to describe me as a soda bottle, I keep stuff in and push it all down but sometimes when things get shaken up everything comes out. I think its what makes me such an introvert. So anyway, I encourage everyone to stop today and look around and take it in. These are the pictures in 10, 20 and 30 years you will look back on with nostalgia, make sure you enjoy them!
Monday, July 7, 2014
In our world we see everything done to the extreme, we have xgames and extreme home makeovers.....somehow we have bought the lie that its not good unless its extreme. Its an easy lie to buy, I do it all the time, I can't run a marathon, so really is going on a walk going to really matter?? I can't end world hunger, save all the children, fix the countries problems, is the little I can do really going to matter?? I am only good at one strange thing, how can I make any difference? Here is where the lie is......YES YES YES you can change the world. What we need is not some superhuman super hero to fly in and save the day, we need everyone doing what they do best to the best of their ability and they need to work together as a team instead of working side by side in competition. Still don't believe 1 person can change the world....George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa......Each of us has a story we have our personal world changers....people who along our journey stood by us, taught us something, guided us, loved us, carried us.....
Trusted World is committed to going and meeting people where they are whether its on the streets, in the homes, in a hut in Ethiopia or a suburban home in Allen, TX. It is bringing them immediate relief through food, water, clothing, aquaponics systems and medical equipment, while laying the foundation and creating real sustainable relationships with those they come in contact with. It is not replicating working agencies, rather it is finding the source of the hardships through caring relationships and finding them the local resources or preparing them to pull themselves out of the situation to go on to be another world changer. As a practical example Randy is not just handing out food to the homeless he is finding out why they are homeless. Sometimes its as simple as a lack of transportation for work that a bus pass can help. Sometimes its the lack of information they have about local shelters or rehab centers. Sometimes it is someone who truly feels like no one cares. One thing I have learned from my life journey is every person needs to feel like they belong to something. We as humans need to feel needed. It is that drive to fulfill a need that often motivates us to do things that are difficult.
Right now I want to encourage EVERYONE who reads this to join our awareness campaign, its easy!! I encourage you to take a selfie of yourself (or if you are technically challenged like me have someone take your picture) holding up one finger (stick to the pointer finger people, G rated!) showing that 1 person has changed your life or that you have changed at least 1 persons life. Show your belief that 1 can change the world. Then post it to instagram or facebook and put #1canchangetheworld (and if you want to bug teenagers tell them its pound sign....1canchangetheworld) Here is my example ...
And if your self conscious put a kid in the picture doing the same, that way it draws attention to their insane cuteness..... I encourage you, if you use facebook and a person who changed your world is also on facebook, to tag them and let them know in some way they are a world changer. Also like us on facebook https://www.facebook.com/trustedworld and visit the website trustedworld.org
Lastly I encourage you to be a world changer everyday. Smile at the person at the checkout, call that person on your mind, meet your neighbors, help someone with their groceries, get to know your kids friends, volunteer at a soup kitchen, coach a local sports team, take dinner to a person in need, give a family adopting your support, make dinner for the family and sit together and talk. Still not sure it matters??? Go back to part one....this all began because a girl and a boy met and her mother baked him a birthday cake and her father helped him write a resume and taught him to tie a tie. This journey we are on involves me an introvert raising my kids to the best of my ability. Now my oldest daughter is working and using part of her paycheck to support a child in another county. When we pass on kindness and love its contagious and others want to do for others and this is the way we start to end the injustice in the world. Get engaged in people's lives teach them what you know, stand with them when they are alone, be a real community. Stay tuned in the future....we are about to change the world!!
Sunday, July 6, 2014
During this time I felt that familiar tug. I had heard about a girl needing a new home. She was newly adopted from India, but her adoptive parent was not able to handle her issues and we offered to readopt her. We went to the lawyer and began the process, she was in another state and we waited a few weeks. Suddenly we did not hear from her adoptive parent anymore and their lawyer did not return phone calls. Our retainer with the lawyer was running low and we got a devastating phone call. The adoptive mother had some issue with the adoption and she would not be placing her with us, she had turned her over to the foster care system. Again I felt like I had been foolish for looking at life with rose colored glasses. Then I saw the face of a little 7 year old girl in Bulgaria with special needs in an email. I went to Randy and said I feel like we have room for one more. He agreed and we inquired on her. The agency said they had found her a home but had we considered a teenager since they were so hard to place. Only 1% of teenagers available for adoption will find a home. They sent me the picture of a 12 year old girl. One moment to make a decision. Someone gave Randy a chance in his teens. Someone gave me a chance in my teens. It was time for us to bring home number 8. We went through a long 18 month process, but last year our newest daughter joined our family. I went to Bulgaria to visit with her and then Randy and Alex went on a second trip to bring her home. We didn't empty an orphanage, but we did empty a bed and one more child will grow up in the safety of a family. Our social worker says we are blessed because her adjustment has been so good. For us we see the ups and downs and yet we are encouraged because we see the growth in her and the development of security. She knows she will never walk alone. She knows she matters. She knows she belongs. No we are not the richest family or most fun. As you get older you come to see all of that revolves around relationship. Fun,happiness, sadness, boring days are all relative and short term. Relationships and knowing you belong to a community is what lasts. Its what you celebrate the good with and carry through the bad. It is what makes life LIFE.
So here we are now. The thread you follow from a determined homeless teenager who meets a girl to a father of 8 from around the world spending his free time serving the poor in the community. Yeah he is pretty special :) He has now had the opportunity to merge what he has been doing for years with a new nonprofit. This organization called Trusted World has Randy in charge of its domestic programs. I wish everyone could have walked this journey with us. It has been an amazing ride even when it drives me to my knees. In the last part I will talk more about what we are doing now and how you can join our journey.
Saturday, July 5, 2014
I promise all these posts are leading up to something :) However sometimes I think people need to know the whole story to really understand things. I see it a lot when we are in community or church or any other human gathering spot. We hear things and learn about things and our own experiences, bias or lack of experience tends to skew our view of the situation, but once people open up and share their life and heart with others suddenly we see them and their situations in totally new ways. So with that said.....
Randy and I got married in 1999. We moved into our first apartment. During the next 5 years we celebrated the birth of our son, a little preemie due to more pregnancy complications. We bought our first house, a scary old haunted house :) We lost Randy's mother to alcohol related disease, we lost my mother to cancer, we moved another 2 times and thanks to my brother I found my faith. By this point we were fumbling through growing up. However we had a great support system of family and friends. When we lost our mothers, we never felt alone as those we loved surrounded us, and we always had each other. For the first time in Randy's life when things got hard people stuck it out and our family stayed together. We learned how life isn't meant to be done alone. I needed him as much as he needed me. Sure we could have done OK on our own, but we accomplished and enjoyed so much more because we combined our life, skills and experience and worked together.
In the early 2000s we moved to Midland, TX....such a huge culture shock!! During this time Randy found his faith too. For many years I knew I could have no more children, but I still had a burning desire to be a mother to many. I had talked adoption and Randy had not thought it was a good idea. We had 2 awesome kids, life was just starting to get a little easier. We still had financial struggles and he did not want think it was a good time to consider it. In 2005 he came to me and said I have been being selfish, I think we should adopt. I pretty much had him sign the papers the next morning :) We began the process to adopt with a small amount of savings and huge amount of faith. We decided to adopt 1 newborn. In January of 2006 we got a call from our agency and learned about our 2 girls. They said this never happens as we only place newborns, but we have 2 toddler sisters that are already in our foster care home, would you be interested. One moment to stick to our "plan" of a newborn. One moment to decide if 2 girls should remain another week or longer in foster care. One decision to the change the entire future for them and for us. So we became a family of 6. It was not a hard decision, once we looked at the 2 sweet girls in the referrel picture and saw 2 babies (they were 2 and 1) we knew that they were ours. I think a big issue for people is we don't take time to look at faces. Randy saw in my face the desperate desire to be a mother, it was what I felt like I was created to do. We both looked at the sweet faces of our little girls and our "newborn plan" was instantly replaced with this new journey. It is easy to pretend things are not our responsibility as other humans for things we do not cause, as long as we don't see the faces or meet the people involved. Those who look into the faces of people who are desperately in need feel compelled to respond.