Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Unknown Commenters and Other Harrassers

On Saturday, I published a post about my lovely daughter's birthday, including a bit of reminiscing about the past. 

Sunday morning, a longtime friend sent me a note and told me someone had left a "nasty" comment on my post and that I might want to delete it. 

For what it's worth, I have very thick skin. I used to write for a major newspaper, and I’m not at all offended by the opinion of others, even when they vehemently disagree with my own. The only thing I ever demanded from my readers was a respectful tone and no foul language when addressing me, personally. 

I respect your right to disagree with me. But if you can't disagree in a respectful manner, then you won't be heard past the first disrespectful sentence. I won't even read what you took the time to write, because you weren't able to disagree respectfully, one adult to another. Which means, if your goal was to "inform" me of something, you lost your chance to do that, and that's unfortunate for both of us. 

The above sentiments are how I felt when writing my opinion in a public newspaper. In the case of my blog, multiply that times a million. Although my blog appears in public, it's also my blog, and I won’t allow anyone to say anything in a disrespectful manner, which is the reason I decided to take down the "nasty" comment, without even reading it. If a trusted friend called it "nasty," then I'm certain it was, so once I saw the rather interesting profile name of “Unknown” in my comments section, I simply hit the delete key and never read a single word of whatever "unknown" wrote. 

I can tolerate anonymous commenters, and I enjoy hearing opposing opinions, but if you're an anoymous commenter who can't express an opposing opinion in a respectful manner, then I consider you someone who just harrasses others, while hiding behind a screen. Perhaps you should consider getting your own blog and finding your own readers. As I see it, I have better things to do than read somone's disrespectful comments on my own blog. I have the same policy where email is concerned. If you're disrespectful and demeaning, you won't be heard or read by me. Free speech doesn't mean a free platform for speaking; that has to be earned.

In nine years of blogging, other than the occasional spam, I’ve never had to delete a comment, which isn't a bad record. Still, for now at least, I will approve all comments before they are published. It's always the little foxes that spoil the vines, don't you know.

On the bright side, yesterday I received an email from a dear blogging friend who had read the "nasty" comment before it was taken down. She expressed hurt that someone tried to hurt me with his or her words, and she was grateful that I had removed the offensive comment, which made me feel all teary inside, having people like her in blogland who care and are concerned about another's well-being. I feel the same about all of you.

Sadly, the world is filled with folks who have an ax to grind, who hold tightly to petty grievances, who seem to take pride in cutting others down. They often hide behind a screen, or appear on social media under fake names, not quite brave enough to put a face or a name behind their words. Truth is, I feel sorry for them, but I don't ever give such people an audience, and you don't have to either. 

Until next time, dear friends, I plan to keep on keeping on. Won't you join me?


Photo: Google

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Happy Birthday to my daughter, and an old letter to her birthmother

My beautiful daughter celebrates her 29th birthday tomorrow. Like a welcomed summer shower, following a dry and parched season, she arrived on a June afternoon in 1986. I call her my gift from God, because that's exactly what she is. And while I didn't carry her in my womb, she is the child of my heart, the child I wished for in all the barren years.

It was on the eve of her seventh birthday that I sat down and penned a letter to her birthmother. The letter was never mailed, as I had not met her birthmother at that time and didn't know where to send it, but writing the letter proved therapeutic for me. Years later, my daughter and I met this special woman, and I shared my thoughts with her at that time.

I'm sharing this letter with you, my dear readers, so you will know just how special adopted children are.

Dear birthmother of my child,

I am writing this on the eve of my daughter's seventh birthday—make that our daughter's seventh birthday. Even though we have never met, you have a special place in my heart. That is why I’m writing.

First, I am aware of the choices you had when you discovered your pregnancy. Thank you for choosing life and for choosing adoption. Giving life to a child is miraculous.

We named her Anna Marie. I know you must think about her from time to time—especially on her birthday. I think of you too, and I thank God for you. Anna Marie was an answer to hundreds—even thousands—of prayers.

Without her, I would never have been celebrated on Mother's Day. My home would not ring with the sound of a child giggling and singing. The bathroom would not be cluttered with dolphin sponges and Big Bird bubble bath. The refrigerator would not be covered with notes scrawled on ragged pieces of colored paper. Notes like: "I love you Mom. I love you Dad. I love you Nana. I love you Papa. I love you God."

My house would not have children's books stacked in every corner. Photos of a round-faced little girl would not line the bookshelves in my family room. In fact, my photo albums would be largely empty, if not for her. I would never hear a pink bicycle and doll buggies squeaking up and down the drive-way. The backyard would have no need for a swing set or tree house. Our collie, Princess, would have nobody to trail around behind, or roll in the autumn leaves with.          

There would be no one to meet at the school yard, if not for her. No one would hand me folded papers bearing crooked letters of the alphabet. There would be no little girl standing in a line at the end of the school year to receive her honor roll slips and trophies; no one to wave shyly at me from the stage.

Without her, I would have no one to take to a Sunday school class; no one to recite Bible verses to me. No little voice would tell me I was beautiful—even in my grungy yellow robe. No small hands would braid my hair or massage my tired shoulders at the end of a grueling day. There would be no one to surprise me with flowers and clover from the yard. No one to make up songs and sing them to me on rainy Saturdays. And I would never have even considered that raindrops could actually be "God's kisses."

I have told my daughter about you. She said she would like to meet you one day. I said I would like that, too.

Birthdays are especially exciting around here. Last night she got so worked up about her party tomorrow—leaping through the house, singing silly songs—that I finally asked her to please sit down and give my nerves a rest. That is when she brought me to tears. "But Mama," she said, her eyes so serious and brown. "I'm just so happy 'cause God gave me such a good mother and father. I'm just so happy ‘cause I'm alive and not in a dark grave somewhere."  With tears in my eyes, I scooped her up and held her tight, my heart almost bursting. She’s always seemed wiser than her years.

Tomorrow, she will bound  into the dining room and gasp at the presents and balloons and cake with seven candles. She will hug me and her father and say, "Thank you, Mama. Thank you, Daddy," a dozen times. Then, just before she blows out the candles, she will shut her eyes tight and make a wish. And while she is wishing, I will make a wish of my own—that more young women would choose adoption when facing an unwanted pregnancy, because the world needs more children like ours.


Happy Birthday, my beautiful daughter. 
My love for you cannot be measured or spoken.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Something from Nothing ~ Monday Musings

The year was 1983. Texas was green, and summer lay across the land in dazzling shades of red, orange, and yellow. The Man and I had been married almost three years, and even though money was tight, we believed our crazy love would conquer all.

That was before the car broke down. Not the car that had quit running two months earlier, but the one we were sharing until we could afford to get the other one repaired. Now they both sat silent in the driveway, hoods up, like opened mouths screaming for cash.

It could not have come at a worse time. Two weeks earlier Stan had made a pledge toward a project at church. He had promised to give $1,000 by the end of August, a mere three months away. It had seemed like an outrageous pledge to me, but I was proud of my husband for wanting to give to a worthy cause. We figured that with enough scrimping between us, we could do it. Now, I wasn't so sure.

Through the screen door, I looked at my husband draped across the engine of the green Thunderbird, an anxious look on his face. It seemed our married life had consisted of one calamity after another. Every few weeks, something either stopped working or started making peculiar noises.

Despair surrounded me like a wet blanket. Moving to the piano, I sat down to play. Many had been the times I played away my blues. But not today. There was no music in my hands. Every chord rang bleak and lifeless—an elegy of doom.

In the past, my faith in God had been a sustaining force during difficult times. But today I felt drained. "Dear God," I whispered, "You see our need. You’re our only hope.”

My husband appeared in the doorway, the weight of our predicament engraved on his face. He wiped his brow with the back of his hand. "I guess I’m gonna have to take it somewhere," he announced, rubbing grimy fingers on an old rag before picking up the telephone.

As I listened while he discussed motors and thermostats with someone we had never met, my spirit sank lower. And I felt faint when he hung up and announced, "It's gonna cost about three-hundred dollars to fix it."

He may as well have said three million. "How," I said, "are we ever going to come up with that?"

He shrugged. "Take it out of the checking account, I guess."

"But we have bills to pay, and we need groceries, and…"

"Dayle," he said bluntly. "We have to have a car. That other stuff will just have to wait."

“What about the savings account?” It was a new account he contributed to by-weekly. I knew there wasn’t much money in it yet, but maybe it would cover the car’s expense.

“No,” he said, shaking his head fiercely. “That’s for retirement. Besides, it would barely cover what we need.”

“Well, you’ll never retire if you can’t get to work,” I said, on the verge of tears.

“Hey,” he said, placing a finger under my chin. “It’ll be all right. We’re gonna make it.” He sounded so sure. “Quit worrying.”

By Friday evening, the Thunderbird hummed agreeably in the driveway, and I had contacted creditors, who graciously offered fifteen days of grace. That left one problem: The food supply was dwindling. Payday was still nine days away. Stan seemed undaunted by this fact, constantly admonishing me to, “Quit worrying,” as if he knew something I didn’t.

On Monday, I took inspection of the kitchen. Except for a clutter of condiments, the refrigerator housed a wilted head of lettuce, a bowl of leftover corn, two eggs, and a soda with no fizz. Inside the freezer was a small package containing a leftover entree and a bag of frozen broccoli, while the pantry held a lonely box of popping corn. We could probably make it nine more days, but it would not be fun, nor tasty.

There were a host of friends who would have come to our aid, had they known. Our parents would have insisted on wiring us money. I had a sister living less than five miles away. But I couldn't imagine telling anyone I needed food. I had never needed food. In my mind, this resembled something right out of the Great Depression. I felt sick.

Trudging into the bedroom I fell to my knees beside the bed, mentally exhausted. I rested my head against the cool satin coverlet and stared out the window.  And then the tears came, rolling across the bridge of my nose, soaking the side of my face. I thought about praying, but I was too tired to think of a single word, so I just cried quietly.

My Bible lay on the nightstand. I had heard about people flopping open their Bibles, and, boom, there was the exact verse they needed. It wasn't my style, but, taking a giant leap of faith, I opened my Bible. It fell to Job 26 where Job is speaking of God’s creation.

Verse seven leaped out at me: "He stretcheth the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing."

Grabbing a pen, I underlined the verse. "If you hung the earth on nothing, God," I said, with conviction, "you can keep us from going hungry."

Standing up, I dried my face and jumped sky high when a knock suddenly sounded at the front door. Who on earth is that? I wondered

Flinging open the door, there stood my sister, Elaine, smiling her beautiful smile. "Hi!" she said, cheerily. "I thought you might need some groceries, so I brought you some."

I must have looked like I had seen a ghost. Circled around her on the porch sat five grocery bags, spilling over with splendid items like meat, vegetables, bread, pretzels, cookies, and a 2-liter Dr. Pepper. Turning aside, I hoped she hadn’t seen the tears threatening to slide down my face.

My sister knew money had been tight in recent months, she knew about the $1,000 pledge, but she could not have known about the car, nor the empty pantry.

"Elaine!" I practically hollered. "Why did you do this? You shouldn’t have!"

She fixed her jaw real hard. “’Cause I felt like it.” She hugged me tight. “Now, I can’t stay, so help me grab these bags.”

I never did tell Elaine just how barren the kitchen had been that day, and how angelic she looked standing on the porch, the sun on her face. I never told anyone. Maybe that makes me a coward. I don’t know.

I do know when August rolled around, we paid our thousand-dollar pledge. And that lonely box of popping corn? It is still in the pantry. I keep it as a monument to God’s awesome power to make something out of nothing.

"Is anything too hard for the Lord?" Genesis 18:14

Dear God, when the cupboard is bare, I'm not afraid. You're a pro at making stuff from scratch.

(Adapted from the book, Silver Linings, by Dayle Allen Shockley.) 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Scenes from a Blessed Life ~ The Gifts of May

June caught me by surprise, but time waits for no one; the first month of summer is here. Before I embrace it fully, I want to take a look back at some of May's blessings. I think it's important to pause in our busy lives and name the gifts that have been given to us.

Here are just a few gifts that the month of May brought to me:

An outing to watch our Astros play at Minute Maid Park is always a treat. The fact that they won on this night made it even better.

Cupcake met her Aunt Nette for the first time in May. They had an instant connection.

One weekend, while visiting with twin sister, I sat on the couch and watched the sun work it's magic through her living room. It had been a rainy week and the sight of it there was a balm to my spirit.

While celebrating a family birthday last week, I looked across the table and captured this fleeting moment in time.

Late one evening, after a particularly long day, we gathered around cupcake in her little swing and found joy in small things, which really are the big things.

Until next time, sweet friends, may the days of June find you well and filled. As always, thanks for keeping me company here.


Monday, June 1, 2015

Listening to Trees ~ Monday Musings

One day last week, something stirred inside of me, a familiar stirring that prompts me to seek out a quiet place, a place to relax my shoulders, to inhale the outdoors, a place to just breathe.

The weather was dreary, a light drizzle falling, mirroring my heart. With nobody needing me, I put on my galoshes, grabbed my umbrella and drove a few miles from home to a place that offers trees and land and sky.

I found a place to park, popped my umbrella and walked down a gravel road that runs in circles. As the rain dripped around me, the gravel crunching beneath my feet, I had a conversation with myself—one of those talks that can leave you feeling empty, drained of life itself.

When I reached a bend in the road, I paused and studied the trees. They were heavy from weeks of rain, but there they were, bowed but not bent.

In the silence of the moment, I was struck by how they seemed to be listening to my words ... and how they seemed to be speaking back to me. We're still standing tall, they seemed to say, but our strength is not our own. The same One who brings us rain, will bring us sun again.

It’s possible, I believe, to hear with your heart, when no words are spoken, but all is felt in the deepest part of your soul.

Until next time, dear friends, when life brings you rain, remember the message of the trees.


Photo credit: Google image
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