Thinking of starting over

I would love to start blogging again…but I feel the need to completely start over .

“Parksmission: Me on Mission” just doesn’t fit anymore.  When I originally named the blog what I did, Josh and I were on a literal mission to be full-time missionaries to Ukraine.  The sole purpose of the blog was to share our experiences with friends and family at home in the U.S.  However, once we returned to the States for good, the purpose began to fade as our ministry began to fade.  I’ve used the blog occasionally to record my thoughts and experiences, specifically in relation to my faith (which fit the title and purpose perfectly), but, things are changing…I’m changing…

I guess I’m still on some kind of mission (or two).  A soul-searching mission to figure out exactly who I am and what I truly believe.  A parenthood mission – as Josh and I plan for a new baby and anticipate all the joys and anxieties that accompany being a parent.  But, even with those “missions”, the blog name just doesn’t feel right.

 

I miss writing.  I miss the blog community.  But, I think in order to truly re-engage, I’ve got to start over…

 

Child Abuse and Facebook

For the last several days, the following profile picture meme has been going around facebook:

change your facebook profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood! The goal is to not see a human face on facebook by Monday, December 6th. Join the fight against child abuse! Copy & paste this message to your status to invite all your friends to do the same. Lets Stop Child Abuse.

I personally find this “game” banal and ineffective.

The instructions say the goal is “to not see a human face til Monday.”   Wait?  who’s being abused –  cartoon characters or HUMAN children?  When I, and probably most of the people on Facebook, see one of the cartoon characters on someone’s profile, we don’t stop and think “oh poor child who’s getting beaten tonight…I’m thinking of you.”   We’re thinking, “HECK YES!  I LOVED Rainbow Bright as a kid!”

Ineffective.

There are those out there who believe in the power of prayer.  If you do, and you changed your picture, I’m curious…have you really prayed for these children?  I hope so…but I doubt that many have.  They’re still thinking about how much they loved the smurfs when they were 8.

The meme instructions also say, “Join in the fight against child abuse” and “Let’s stop child abuse.”  I understand that many people do not have the financial means to donate to charities that are fighting daily for abused and neglected children.  (Even though I have no doubt that most people are spending hundreds of dollars on their own children this Christmas but can’t afford to donate even $20 dollars to children who’s parents have neglected them during this joyful season).  But even if you truly haven’t budgeted to donate to child charities, or perhaps you’ve already donated to other worthwhile causes, just changing a picture does not fight against child abuse.  It’s trite and too simplistic.

A true fight begins with EDUCATING one another on the issue.

Share Statistics. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Child Welfare Information Gateway has a plethora of statistics.  You can search through them HERE.  Perhaps find a few statistics to post in your Facebook status throughout the next week.

Learn the Signs of Abuse. It’s not enough just to know the statistics.  You must be able to recognize symptoms of abuse and know how to intervene on a child’s behalf.  Helpguide.org gives detailed information on understanding child abuse, lists warning signs that point to abuse, and ways you can help save the abused child. You can go directly to this information by clicking HERE.

Once you’ve got down some of the statistics, facts, and intervention techniques, TAKE ACTION!  And you can do more than just donate money.  Prevent Child Abuse America has some great (and effective) suggestions for raising awareness of the issue, such as printing posters for your workplace bulletin board, or writing elected officials asking for more funding.  Check out more financial-free ideas by clicking HERE.

I understand that most people have good and honorable intentions when they participate in the “change your profile pic” game.  …

It’s just not enough.

Life to the Full

loneliness

Image by Ferran. via Flickr

Over the last few weeks months, I’ve been slipping into a depression.  With all the transitions and trials in my life, I rather expected the ever-looming dark cloud to pop up above my head & drench me in self-pity.  However, I’m quite acquainted with my gloomy shadow, and can usually kick it to the curb before I get too far into the pit of despair.  But, this cloud has lingered, and its shadow has darkened the goals I set for myself during this sabbatical from ministry.

I lived 15 years with a full plate…and now that that plate has been scrubbed clean and stored in a cabinet, I don’t know what to do with myself.

Overall, the transition has been refreshing.  I feel little stress and NO pressures to perform perfectly.  There’s no rushing around from one commitment to the next.  I do what I want, when I want, and how I wantand it feels good!

However, accompanied with these new luxuries of time and freedom comes boredom and loneliness.

I’m not surrounded with the abundance of friendships that used to envelope me weekly.  Phone calls & texts have stopped.  Facebook messages & comments have significantly decreased.  Invitations to dinners, parties, and game nights have ceased.  I know I still mean something to these friends, but it’s difficult to be on the outside.

And, because I’m not invited anywhere or involved in anything, I’ve got nothing to to do.  I’m bored.  Except for the occasional, once-a-month weekend activity, I do nothing but come home from work, get on the computer, cook dinner, get back on the computer, watch a movie, read a little bit, and then go to bed.  It was nice for a while.  But now it’s tedious and making me lazy…and when people only idle about, they become overwhelmed with feelings of uselessness…which leads to depression.

I’m not excusing my depression.  I’m quite aware that it’s unacceptable…and I’m working on it.  I’ve opened up with Josh and a few friends (and now to the world), and am making steps to lift myself back up.  I don’t expect it to be a quick process, but that’s why it’s called a process…it takes time to figure out solutions and implement them.

One of those friends who knows what I’ve been going through, sent me the following poem.  It has been a huge encouragement and is exactly what I needed to hear.  For so long I’ve lived a full life…but it’s time I figure out what it means to “live life to the full.”

For years I lived full.
Full schedule.
Full plate.
Full speed ahead.

I found myself weary, wondering,
“Is this really how it’s supposed to be?”
And then it seemed God asked me to learn to live differently.
To focus on love.
To make time to listen to His voice.
To embrace what He’s called me to do and let all else drop away.
“Isn’t that what I’ve already been doing?” I asked.”Don’t you want me to be busy, to push myself to the limit?”It seemed the heart of heaven smiled and these grace-words drifted into my day. “Daughter, I did not come to give you a full life. I came to give you life to the full.”
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

–by Holley Gerth

Teacher Talk

As a teacher, it’s easy to fall to the temptation of negativity and bad-talking students – harping on their low grades, big attitudes, and inappropriate behaviors.  We want to vent our frustrations about assignments turned in late, half-done, and scribbled in chicken scratch.

Their apathy irritates.

Their vocabulary stinks.

Their never-ending talking and laughing and farting noises and snide remarks dig into my brain like nails on chalkboard.

and, damnit, I want to SCREAM!!


But it doesn’t mean I should.

Nor do I really want to.  I don’t want to be one of those teachers who only sees the negative in her students and voices it to all the other teachers.  I don’t want to be the teacher who ends up bitter and unhappy with life, wishing she had chosen another profession.  I don’t want my students to look at me in fear or disgust as a sour-faced, cold and merciless old hag who enjoys giving big fat “F’s” on major grades.

If I aim to be a compassionate, caring, and sincere teacher, who embraces every one of my students (and all their idiosyncrasies) , then I must have integrity in my thoughts about them.  I mustn’t look at their failures and shortcomings, but instead view them through the lens of Christ, who sees them as his precious creation, unconditionally loved.  I must remember that God has a purpose for each of them, and God has a purpose for placing them in my classroom under my direction. And for those reasons alone, I need to speak of them in love…even in the midst of my frustrations.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  ~Philippians 4:8

NaBloPoMo

November is NaBloPoMo…or National Blog Posting Month.

I’m a little lot behind in the festivities, but I’ve been telling myself that I’m ready to begin blogging/writing again, and what better time is there to  jump back on the writing wagon when there’s a party going on in the blogosphere?  I’ll admit, though, that I’m still feeling a bit uninspired in what to write about.  So much has happened in the last few months, that I’m not sure where to begin…or rather if I even want to share it on my blog at all.  Not yet, at least.

But, since it is NaBloPoMo, there are a plethora of blog prompts out there for me!  So, to start off my month of daily blogging, I’ll start with today’s prompt offered to me by the official NaBloPoMo website:

How did you end up where you’re living right now? What factors will help you choose the next place you live?

Starting broadly, I ended up in Texas in 1991 when my parents loaded up our car and a Uhaul truck and moved us from an Atlanta, Georgia suburb to a Dallas suburb.  As a child, my parent’s jobs had us moving around quite a bit.  Even though I was a pretty shy girl, I enjoyed the adventure of discovering new places.  I still carry that love and passion of travel, experiencing cultures, and frequent change.  Too much of the same ole’ stuff gets me all ancy and restless (and moody).

I ended up in Garland because (1.)I married a Garland boy, (2.) my church at the time was in Garland, and (3.) most of my friends lived in Garland…so logically Garland would be where we planted our roots.

However, just because my roots are planted in Garland soil doesn’t mean that Josh and I are firmly planted.  We’ve been married 10 1/2 years, and we’ve just about moved at least once each year of our marriage…to apartments, houses, living with family, and twice overseas to Europe and back again to Garland.

Right now, we live (for the 3rd time) with my mother (for various reasons too long and complicated to write about here and now).  But, we are saving up to buy our own house and settle down for good!  We still haven’t determined exactly what we’re looking for (except it has to be a one-storied, garage-in-the-front, 3 bedroom home with a well-maintained yard, large kitchen, and spacious master bedroom/bathroom located in a kid-friendly neighborhood and not flush against a major road but still within a 15 minute drive to both of our jobs). We’re hoping to move into that perfect place early next summer.

Until then, we’re content here, where God has placed us for this time in our lives.

Leave Me Out!

Fanatic Christians who set afire abortion clinics and murder their doctors all in the name of Christian values.

Please don’t associate me with them.

Anti-government militia groups who bomb government buildings, calling for more freedom based on our Christian founders.

Please don’t lump me into that same category.

Southern Conservative Christians who drag black boys down dusty, backwood roads.

Please don’t include me in their antics.

Each of these groups call themselves “Christian”.  Often, they carry out their heinous acts in the name of God and “Christian” principles.  They’ll even quote scripture to support their causes.

I, too, call myself a Christian and use scripture to guide my life.  But, it does not mean that I am part of the extreme groups listed above.  I may be pro-life, but I do not condone violence or hate of any kind.  I am not racist or bigoted.  And, although I do not always agree with the decisions of our governmental leaders, I do believe that we are to support (and pray for) those whom God has allowed to be in power.

When it comes to the groups above, I want NO association with them at all.  But, there are many non-Christians who automatically include me with those groups based on the word “Christian”.

Generalizing – to infer or form a general principle, opinion, conclusion, etc. from only a few facts, examples, or the like.

No one likes to have preconceived notions of beliefs, ideologies, motives, or behaviors pushed upon them. Yet, “Christians”, who are commanded by Christ to unconditionally love our ‘enemies’ and not to judge unfairly, continue to generalize and spread bigoted trash across Facebook and email forwards.

Generalizations that say ALL Muslims are Islamic terrorists, and therefore should not have religious freedom, even though they may be American citizens and should enjoy the same freedoms you and I have.

Generalizations that say say our President belongs in that same Islamic terrorist category.

Generalizations that all homosexual people prey upon our young boys.

Anti-Muslim.  Anti-Obama.  Pro-America.  Pro-tough-love.

Call it what you want…I call it judgmental, bigoted, hateful, unintelligent, uninformed, and disgusting.

Pics: Orphanage at Tamazeau

I wrote about our orphanage experience in Haiti, but wasn’t able to post pictures.  (You can read the story by clicking HERE).    The pictures are now posted below.  Click the picture to get a larger view and more description.

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