To Keep Them Safe

As I watch students filing out of a school after yet another school shooting, I give thanks that my children are safe at home ... and are homeschooled.

When we started homeschooling, school shootings were not even on our radar. Now, it seems you can't get through a week without hearing of one or more on the news. My social media feeds are filled with images of victims of school shootings, rants about what should and shouldn't be done, and too many posts about children traumatized by lockdown drills. 

Parents are increasingly pulling their children out of school to homeschool them because they feel like it's the only way to keep them safe. Some people say that tragedies can happen at home as well, but I'm sure school shootings aren't all these parents are concerned about.

Friends have told me they want to keep their children safe from the daily expectation that a shooter will one day enter their school - that one day, the drill won't be a drill. They want to keep t…

To Hold a Secret

Not long ago, someone gave me a secret for safekeeping. 

When this secret was entrusted to me, a gentle breeze could have knocked me over. My heart filled to overflowing with love and celebration and relief, and at the same time great sadness and worry and wishes that the secret saw the light of day so much sooner. Secrets have a way of doing that - of producing at tumult of conflicting emotions making one both want to shout the secret from the rooftops and protect the secret at all costs, until it's ready to be told. 

It's not easy being a keeper of secrets. 

My entire life has been spent holding secrets - my own and those of others. In middle school, knew a friend's parents were getting divorced before he did. I was told of dark thoughts, of questioning sexuality, of in-love turned to love-for, of illness not to be revealed. I've held tight to people's deepest grief, greatest fears, and abounding joy until they were prepared to share it with others. Somehow people f…

To Be the Light [You Never Know]

The other day someone said to me, "I've never known someone who even considered suicide, nevermind someone who attempted suicide." She was shocked when I replied, "Yes, you have. You know me."

I know all too well the desolate mire of abject hopelessness that sucks your soul into utter, viscous darkness from which, it whispers, there is no escape. For me, the first time...and the second ... suicide wasn't an escape. When I was in that place, I was sure I would remain there for eternity, including in death. I was, after all, already in hell. Suicide was a way to save everyone else from me - the one thing I could do so that I could stop hurting everyone I loved. Reason couldn't reach me there. Consumed by darkness, I forgot the existence of light.

I was blessed to have light-bringers in my life who shined their love - and God's love - into my darkness, urging my reluctant mind and spirit toward healing. Friends and family and even strangers  showed patie…

To Give Up Hugging

In looking for information on a national youth gathering, I came across an online group discussing the particulars of the gathering. One post caught my eye and broke my heart.

There are youth who attend this gathering wearing "Free Hugs" t-shirts. Offering hugs to passersby, I imagine they put smiles on many people's faces. I have a child with a Free Hugs t-shirt of his own, who is big on giving hugs, and would love to accept a hug from one or more of these huggers. I also have a hug avoider, who is very adept at avoiding hugs. 

However, there seem to be those who see danger in this practice. They quote statistics about sexual predators and claim that this practice puts their youth at risk. Some have gone so far as to ban their youth from hugging people at the gathering. It's just too dangerous.

Before I say more, I want to preface what I'm going to say by admitting that I am a survivor of sexual abuse. For a very long time, people touching me even in small, harmles…

To Give Up the Mask

To be honest, I'm not doing well today. 

By not doing well, I mean I'm in so much pain that it's literally driving me insane. My head is pounding from a migraine. My body is in so much pain that there isn't a single position into which I can get that lessens my pain. I had to decide between vicodin and ibuprofen, and not waiting to make the migraine worse, chose ibuprofen, hoping it would take the edge off the pounding. No such luck. My liver can't handle any more pain meds, so that's it for the day. 

It's a snow day. A cozy day. A day when my entire family is home. I'd rather be doing awesome things with them than laying in bed in misery. 

And I'd rather be finishing putting away groceries, cleaning up the dining room / kitchen area and getting my son's computer area and my daughter's physical therapy areas set up properly. I'd love to organize my clothing, reorganize homeschool and craft supplies, and otherwise get my house in order. And …

To Give Up Embarrassment

Two of my children and I attended a performance of Lion King Kids, performed by fifth graders at Polk school in Oakville, CT. The students all put on a wonderful performance, but one child stood out above the others.

This tiny girl obviously went to many rehearsals. She knew all the songs and was confident in the arm motions that accompanied them. The joy she exuded verse after verse, song after song, was contagious. Her passion for musical theater - or at least for this play - was evident.

And she wasn't even in the cast.

This precious child stood on her mom's lap, danced in the aisle, absorbing every note into her being and expressing them with unbound delight. Some might have found this distracting or even annoying, but not me. It was a pleasure to watch her fully enveloping herself in the show, not a criticism or thought of anything extraneous thing crossing her mind, I'm sure. The embodiment of sheer enjoyment, planted a huge smile on my face, and the faces of all who ch…

To Give Up Guilt

I try my best not to spend more money than necessary on, well, anything, and to be as environmentally friendly as I can. We shop in thrift stores. I keep track of prices for things in the grocery store and shop multiple stores to get the lowest price on things whenever possible. I am willing to spend more on a good quality item that will last rather than needing to replace an item more often. I research products before I make major - and sometimes even minor - purchases to make sure I'm getting my money's worth. And I don't usually buy things I don't need.

However, I do buy shredded cheese rather than shredding my own.

This became a hot topic in an online conscious consumer group of which I'm a member. When a chronically ill person posted that they take shortcuts such as buying shredded cheese instead of purchasing block cheese and shredding it themselves, and asked if other chronically ill people did similar in order to balance being a mindful consumer with meeting…