Monday, April 14, 2014

Breaking Barriers

There are invisible barriers in place; I started to use the word segregation but decided it was too ugly of a word to use for this situation. However, there is a type of wall surrounding this group in society.

Special needs society is easily misunderstood…easily dismissed, and ignored. I’m not sure if it’s by choice or just the way our society sets up the system, but they get placed behind invisible barriers.

There’s this woman. This woman is part of the congregation who I worship with. She’s not a Sunday school teacher, not part of the praise team, leadership team, welcome wagon, prayer group, drama team, funeral feeders, or anything else. Just a faithful member of the congregation. I say that not to diminish any part of who she is, but to show how this very quiet woman‘s work was so big. Everyone plays a part in the body of Christ. And she took a thought and turned it into something that has done more than made memories…it broke barriers.
When God gives you an idea, act upon it. Prayerfully, move forward. Had my friend, Donna, not acted upon her thought we would not have watched so many wonderful things take place last night.

Donna coordinated an “Evening Under the Stars,” aka “Jesus Prom,” at our church. This prom was for special needs high school students and older. The turnout was phenomenal. Approximately 45 special needs citizens got the chance to wear formal attire, take a limo ride, have dinner and dance the night away.

Donna has a nephew who lives his life from a wheelchair and had recently attended a “Jesus Prom.” Donna immediately began her work.

See this group of teenagers?

I am also thankful that this group of teens are working to make a difference in their community. A difference for good - we seem to only hear about the youth who have found themselves in a puddle of trouble. But my focus on this group of kids goes deeper in this story.

Our high school aged youth group and their friends were asked to be escorts. These girls and guys showed up thinking they were going to be of assistance to their “dates” and ensure they had everything they needed for the evening. What they found were people their age with the same love of music, desire to have fun, and feelings that mimicked their own. It’s easy for us to misdiagnose something we don’t understand. What started off as awkward between the couples at first changed throughout the night and real conversations were taking place, phones numbers were exchanged.

What I watched was character building, life-changing, and ultimately bigger than anything I’ve ever seen. I saw students, who attend the same school but are segregated from each other due to differences, come together as a community, but leave as friends.

I saw a church grow in ministry as we all looked at each other like, “This is what it’s all about! Bringing people together to help each other, encourage each other, and love each other.”

I saw a community who jumped onboard to donate their talents and services to ensure this special group of citizens enjoyed their night.

I watched as we made the effort to bring our lives together, that understanding abounded…barriers were broken…

When we allow ourselves the opportunity to understand another person, and be open to their needs, we may just find a friend.

“I get by with a little help from my friends.” - The Beatles

Friday, March 21, 2014

Mom Math

I was doing the mom math in my head…you know, the calculations of what each kid has had and which one gets the next offering. This time around it was over the last ¼ of an ooey-gooey cheese stick from Pizza Hut.

I decided to treat my babies after church Wednesday night to late night pizza; by this time we were all starving!

The cheese sticks were just enough to keep our mouths from chewing our own feet, but then it got to that last morsel and there we all sat with hands between knees, eyeballs circling the table, and mouths watering. Politeness was keeping them from digging in and being the selfish child who ate the last bite; risking the shameful scorning from the other children. And I was left to quietly decide who had eaten the least and was to be offered the last tasting.

But as the moment heightened, a long go-go gadget arm from nowhere reached down and swooped up our basket, and then a voice attached to this wretched arm said, “Would you like some more tea?”

As she walked away we all erupted in laughter; well, all of us but Eldest Daughter who just quietly grabbed an imaginary pen and wrote on a napkin, “You were going to get a tip BUT…”

Hunger walks a fine line of satisfaction and shame.

In other Thomas family business:

The husband and I have successfully spent three weekends away in the past two months. Asleep by 10:30 p.m. most nights, as we paid to spend this time enjoying another city. It’s really fabulous of us to spend our monies in this fashion. I will say the last attempt was much more successful as we spent a night in Nashville to celebrate my sister turning 40. The four of us forced ourselves to stay up until midnight! It really was exhilarating! This is what happens when you deprive yourself of sleep throughout your 20’s, by 40 your body lays down and says, “NOPE, not doing it!”

At the outset of this I must explain that I do not eat seafood. I have tried it all, but only like crab cakes, occasionally. Not even shrimp…

We also celebrated 18 years of wedded bliss and my 38th birthday. At my birthday dinner we visited one of our favorite restaurants The Oak Room. 

Our server kindly laid our hors d’oeuvres in front of us and explained it was tuna tartare with caviar. My husband, respectfully to the chef, ate his, laid down his spoon, turned to me and said, “You’ll wanna get after that kinda quick-like.”

I did take a small fork and flake off the edge and tried…I lived, but barely.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I Didn’t Deserve That

I’ve spent a lot of time pretending to hate turning another year older; using it for joking purposes, but today my birthday was taken to a new level; a level I didn’t expect.

I have to say, I am overly blessed to live the life I do. I could name all of the blessings in my life like a laundry list, but I’m serious when I say that I fully comprehend how God has been more than good to me. I really don’t deserve the moments I have gotten to experience. I don’t have a journalism degree but had the opportunity to work as a journalist for almost 8 years. I don’t have a broadcasting degree but continue to work as a co-host of a morning radio show in the town I adore.

Out of these two positions have developed multiple relationships that I treasure. A plethora of education and knowledge of “how things work” ranging from politics to sewer systems. Opportunities have abounded for me from these platforms, but today I didn’t deserve what I got.

There’s a family in our small community. They are known by just about every person who has spent time in our town. They have no idea that they are so widely known…they just go about their daily lives as usual.

They are special to us in this small town because they are a family who have spent their lives living with disabilities that present its fair share of challenges. I watch Richard, the brother, walking through town on a daily basis pulling his cart behind him as he seeks cheap items at the flea market or yard sales, in hopes of turning a profit by selling on our morning Tradio show. This is a means of income for him, as I learned today.

His two sisters come to my church often and always greet me with a childlike love that is so sweet and innocent – purest to its core. They know me from the radio.

I recently visited with them at the funeral home when their mother passed away. I wanted to pay my respects and let them know their church body cared.

Today as we were celebrating my birthday on-air Richard was listening.

About an hour or more later I was at the dealership -my full time job - when my co-host Mark called me to alert me that Richard had walked to the radio station to hand deliver me a present.

I quickly grabbed my coat and made my way back to the station to accept my gift and see Richard.

After a few pictures were made, he showed me my gift of a novelty shelf with various Nativity pieces to display on it.  I realized this man took time out of his day to not only find something he owned that he found worthy to give me, but used his day to walk approximately 3 miles to hand it to me and say, “Happy Birthday.”

When most of us are in a such hurry to get from work to school to gym to grocery to ballgame to the next and the next and the next, leaving not enough time to stop and love the people around us properly, this person found me worthy enough of his time and possessions to present them to me. Overcoming the challenge of not being able to drive, not physically in great health, and not able to purchase anything elaborate…his heart’s desire was to give me something of his.

I don’t deserve that.

I’m not worthy of that.

I wish I could say that I was the same kind of person. The kind of person that would use what I had to make someone else feel their worth.

I told you earlier that Richard and his sisters have lived with disabilities, but today what I realized is their disability is really a blessing in some ways. To be able to love with a childlike heart, to not be caught up in the rat race of this world, to be shielded from the complex issues that consume our news channels. I can’t imagine being able to have such simplistic love.

When I took him home this morning he kept thanking me for spending time with them at the funeral home. He kept saying he enjoyed listening to us in the mornings. When he went to tell me good-bye, he bowed before me like a true gentleman.

My heart gushes. I cried with such deep emotion all the way back to the dealership.

The real gift Richard gave me today was the insight of taking time for a person.

Life is very simple…respect people. For all, no matter our mental capacity, can understand love and respect.

In other Birthday Business:

I received a lot of love today that just makes me blush due to the feeling of unworthiness and yet sheer thankfulness.

The morning got started with bathroom mirror love…that’s right, my baby does it right!

And then a love note on my dressing table.

All three babies found momma and gave big hugs without me having to ask for them this morning…

My co-worker Todd started off the morning with a big ole Happy Birthday and vending machine cupcakes! Best .75cents he spent today!

My radio ranchers did breakfast RIGHT!

And followed up with ice cream cake! Whaaattt??

My manager at the dealership sliced Heaven and put into a cardboard container…it’s called Arby’s!
My mother-in-law is faithful to send us all birthday cards, but the best gift was her good report at the doctors today. 

And I ended my night on a date with Uncle Ben!

Got home to a sweet little ensemble from my neighbor sister.

I had lots of facebook/email/text love today; one of the many reasons why I love social media.

The husband is still working…he says I have a surprise this weekend….

I embrace 38! However, you can keep 39…I’m not going.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Eve of Old

I realized at 9:00 p.m. this evening that not once today has my husband laid eyes on me…

This really isn’t notable except for TODAY!

Today is the eve of my birthday…this is the last day of me being 37…I left the house this morning before he was awake and due to busy schedules we didn’t partake in our daily lunch date. He has a long night ahead of him and I will be asleep when he gets home.

This is of concern because I’m pretty sure I’m going to wake-up looking like a shriveled prune…at least that’s how I feel as I am about to turn 38.

On this last day of 37, I stand embracing these last few hours of an age I dreaded this day last year. On a great note I got this in the mail today:

Notice the side note that this is Sharon Stone at age 56 “& Hotter Than Ever!!”

This glimmer of hope has me hoping I wake up 56, a blonde, and draped in fishnet! Because this is good look… :/

I did decide to treat myself to dinner in bed:

I helped the Middle Girl study for a test, and now I’m hoping I didn’t do more harm than good.

Well, I’m headed to bed…If I don’t wake up 56-year-old Sharon Stone tomorrow…I’m sorry. The alternative is not that good.

In other Thomas Family business:

My niece and I both celebrated our birthdays at my mom’s this week.  Chicken-N-Dumplins' are all of our favorite, and we even got a homemade cake by mamaw.

This sweetness drags her finger through EVERY cake she comes across - it's her signature move, if you will.

After slices were served to everyone, even her, she wanted to remove all of the white dots on the edge and eat them.  

She tried a fork after the finger technique failed her.

But in the end the obvious maneuver was chosen. 

She also scored this little ditty:

I got a fruit bowl...

I was secretly hoping to get a matching suit.

In my sister’s defense, I requested the fruit bowl at Christmas.

(Tomorrow is my birthday, therefore, it's not too late for you to buy me the matching cowgirl suit!)