Grace.

 

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My father made it through emergency neurosurgery that technically “saved his life”.  The surgery lasted about 4 ½ hours.

There have been times in my life where time seems to stand still. I can remember distinct words, smells, feelings, etc. This was one of those times.

The doctors placed him in a medically induced coma following the surgery. His body was in shock and storming. If you’ve never experienced a traumatic brain injury, you may be unfamiliar with storming. It’s basically where the brain can no longer regulate systems. Everything is off the charts – heart rate, blood pressure, etc. It’s intense to watch.

I will never forget the day I saw him cry while in the coma. I’m not sure there are words that can describe the pain and helplessness I felt that day.

After a few days, they reduced the sedation. His body wasn’t ready. He slipped into a coma on his own. On the 8th day, he opened his eyes.

I updated his friends and our family.

What I neglected to report was although his eyes opened, they didn’t align. It was in that moment that I again questioned whether I should have signed those papers for emergency surgery and instead said our goodbyes.

That moment scared me almost as much as the moment when I got the call and realized what was happening.

His right eye was looking all the way to the right – though it wasn’t “looking”.

His left eye was staring straight ahead – thought it wasn’t “staring”.

I began to wonder in that moment in the trauma ICU, if my father would remain in a vegetative state for the rest of his life. It was the first time I had wondered that since the accident. To be honest, I hadn’t really considered that when I signed the papers.

I had imagined many things, but a vegetative state wasn’t one of them.

On the 9th day, his pupils aligned, though he still didn’t ‘see’ us.

While all this was occurring, there were other angles.

The first night, my little sister cried herself to sleep in our father’s bed. I knew I could not leave her alone. But also, I wanted to be close to her and close to Dad.

I never went home the first 7 days. I slept in my father’s bed and stayed close by my baby sister’s side.

I later told my father that I owed him a few bottles of wine. I drank all but the Chardonnay in his house. Considering the circumstances, I don’t think he cares.

Weeks after the accident, he made out of the trauma ICU. On Christmas day, we watched him walk with assistance from nurses. He amazed us when he again repeated this the following day.

And then, he regressed. He slid back to a minimally conscious state. It was then that I realized this was bigger than anything I have ever experienced.

Without a doubt, I was not ready to say goodbye to my father on the day that he fell from the 2nd or 3rd step of a step-ladder. I signed those papers with a heavy heart and a head full of questions. But I wasn’t ready to tell him goodbye. I know this.

I also know that loss is hard.

About three weeks after the accident, I returned to my practicum site. I am a 3rd year doctoral student who happened to be almost done with the fall semester when the accident occurred, though my practicum, my clinical internship, was to keep going through the semester break. I couldn’t do it.

My supervisor asked me upon my return if I had ever experienced loss.

“I’ve had my share. In some ways, I am old before my time…”

It would’ve been easier if my father would’ve died that day. That may sound crass to many or it may be misinterpreted by those who simply don’t get it.

It would’ve been awful. It would’ve tore a piece of my heart out. But it would’ve been easier.

However, life happens. We roll with our choices. We roll with what life brings us.

And we do the best with what we have most of the time.

I’m at that place I never expected to be for at least another 20 years. You know that place where you are the daughter and making decisions for your father? Yeah, that place.

I’ve gotten the flak from some. Decisions aren’t understood. Updates aren’t appreciated because they look too “negative”. Assumptions and expectations happen.

And there are others who have given me grace. Those ones I can never repay. But some already know this. For it’s not about money or even repayment. It is simply grace…

 

© LifeasChristine, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Live a good life: An open letter to my oldest son…

An open letter to my oldest son Jonathon…

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You called me the other night and forewarned me, “Mom, this is deep, but important and I want an answer”.

I heard you out and finally responded, “I will get back to you on that”.

Roughly a half an hour after hanging up the phone with you, I received your text, “Don’t forget!”

Remember what you said?

Remember how you justified it?

A few months ago you said, “Why would God give me this mind if he knew I was gonna question. I’m probably not a good follower because I question too much. But didn’t He know I was gonna be like this?”

You know how I sometimes grab my phone and start typing in the middle of conversations? It’s usually because I’m making a note and quoting words that I hear because they hit me profoundly and I want to remember them. I want to think about them later, long after the moment has passed. I made note of that remark.

First off Jono, you don’t need justification for wondering about the things you wonder about.

One thing we definitely agree on is that it is curiosity serves as a catalyst for searching for knowledge, understanding, learning, and wisdom. The greatest of these is wisdom. I will leave it up to you to figure out the difference and why that is the most important.

I know that you have thought about death from a young age and all that it entails. I think most of your siblings have experienced this as well. As I believe that the majority of individuals who experience death of a loved one start to grapple with the concept… what it means to live, die, and all the stuff in between.

You never needed to justify your question to me. I know you well.

WHEN YOU DIE MOM, I WANT TO KNOW HOW YOU WANT US TO LIVE OUR LIVES. AND IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN IF WE ARE HONEST. AND HOPEFULLY YOU DIE BEFORE US, BECAUSE THE ALTERNATIVE WOULD BE TRAGIC FOR YOU AND AGAINST THE NATURE OF HOW THINGS SHOULD WORK. I WANT TO KNOW HOW YOU WANT US TO REMEMBER YOU. I WANT TO KNOW HOW YOU DEFINE A GOOD LIFE. I WANT TO KNOW HOW YOU WANT US TO CARRY ON WITHOUT YOU.

First off, Aaron knows this part, but maybe you should be aware as well. If given a choice, I want to be buried in the back yard. If the back yard doesn’t suffice due to obstacles – find me a field, close to a river bank, or babbling brook – someplace weeping willows thrive. Do not spend money on a cemetery plot – that’s just plain weird to me and I don’t want to be buried in a cemetery full of people I never knew.  Having experiences with funerals, NO ONE is to buy me a $7,000 casket. I don’t care how pretty it is. I want you all to gather together and build me a pine box. It will give you all a chance to laugh, grieve, and work together as a team processing through stuff together. What you do with it and how you all make it, is up to you guys. Flowers can be picked from a field. Plant a willow tree over me. Years later, when the willow is strong, hang a swing, build a tree house, or do both. Don’t forget the hammock.

I want music – all the music that drove you guys nuts while growing up that reminds you of me that you begged me “Not this again”.  Let it be, Roll me away, I need a hero (you will all laugh remembering me yelling ‘Wooo” at just the right moment), Tiny Dancer, Lose Yourself, Runaway Train, etc.

I want food. Lots of good food – no chicken!

And at the end, I want you to blow off fireworks (if available). There’s just something about fireworks that I have always loved. They remind me that I am alive. They bring awe to me. I want you guys to remember that you still are here and to see the beauty in the darkness. I really want fireworks – just make sure you warn the neighbors, in the event that one may be experiencing PTSD.

I want lots of stories, lots of laughter, lots of hugs (good hugs – not those crappy one-handed-so-called-hugs), sharing of memories from those you don’t know, and honest eulogies. God, do not put me on a pedestal. Be careful, because sometimes we do that when we lose those we love – I’ve not only done it, but have witnessed it occurring from others.

So how do I want you all to live your lives after I’m gone? The same way I want you to live your lives while I still breathe.

I want you to question things your taught, not defiantly, but critically thinking things through. Never feel stupid for asking what others say are silly questions. Ask whatever question you need in order to come to the answer you need. But, know that sometimes you can ask all the right questions, and there is no answer. There are some questions in life that you will never get answers to – or the answers that sit well with your heart. When that happens, learn to LET IT BE. There are just some things in life that we will never know answers to. Maybe it comes down to “I don’t know”. Maybe it comes down to faith. Maybe it comes down to acceptance. It may be a combination of factors, but regardless, you all have to be okay with unanswered questions, because they can and do happen throughout life.

Remember when you were little over at the house on Durfee? Remember when we were coloring? I told you when you color, you didn’t have to stay within the lines. You could color outside the lines and you could use any color you wanted, even if it didn’t make sense (i.e. pink elephants, blue flamingos). You were not limited. I want you to understand there is a time and place for coloring outside the lines. It was not a metaphor for going against all rules or lines set before you. It was a lesson that coloring was a time for flow. It was a place and time for you to lose yourself, while gaining yourself at the same time. It was art therapy and never, ever underestimate the value of it. Some do this by yoga, some by running, some by weight-lifting, some by hiking, some by boating, some by music, some by gardening, etc. The means differ, but the results are the same. There’s a mental balancing that occurs. Find your yoga… whatever that may be. You all will need this many times throughout life – life demands balance.

Evaluate your values. Every single one of them. Take an ethics class (you will struggle mentally, but it is so worth it)! This will help all of you really get to the nitty gritty and decipher the difference between ethics, moral, and values. Your values are things that not only I have taught you since you were little, but things that experiences taught you. Critically think and evaluate them. In order to stand for something, you need to understand why you’re standing. Also, remember your values can change or shift throughout life – they are not always set in stone.

When you find yourself selling out, remember your values, and back-track. It’s okay if you screw up, you are human and you are gonna falter, but recognize it, and remedy it – ASAP.

DON’T QUIT!

God, please don’t quit! Life can get very challenging, even down-right hard, do not quit. Get oxygen when you need it, but hang on and don’t you quit.

Understand what your meaning of success is. Personally, my meaning of success does not equate to society’s standard. I’m okay with that. You need to each figure out what success means to you and go for it. You do not need to defend it to others – just live your lives accordingly. Obviously, don’t be idiots with this and look for justification where there is none. Don’t hurt others for your own gratification, etc.

That brings me to the next thing… at the end of each of your lives, will you be able to say you learned through your mistakes? Will you be able to say I did better when I learned? Look up the poem “The Man in the Glass”. I gave it to someone once and it was one that made a big impact on me – around the time when I was where you are at – questioning my life and what it meant to live. At the end of every day, at the end of every mountain climb, at the end of our journeys, it all comes down to us. Every choice and decision we made – are we okay with our choices? If not, turn around, or side-step. Whatever you need to do… do it. Doesn’t matter if we had the perfect story or not, we create the ending…make it worthy!

Never strive for happiness. Happiness is a fleeting emotion that comes and go. Strive for content. You can have a shitty day and not find happiness in it. However, you can have a shitty day and still be content.

Be a shelter for your siblings, family, or friends that need it. Light the way and bring them home if they get lost. Do this for each other because it matters. This is written metaphorically, so you will need to read between the lines and apply it appropriately. Follow your heart when it comes to this.

Which reminds me… listen to your head, but follow your heart – with almost everything: Relationships, marriage, parenting, friendships, strangers, career, etc.

Say what you gotta say. Even if it doesn’t end the way you want it to. This isn’t a free pass for being hurtful or rude, but don’t let things fester. Throw it out on the table and go from there. Sometimes you will have great conversations, sometimes you may be misinterpreted, and sometimes it may end badly. Say the words on your heart – and Jonathon, don’t let alcohol consumption alone enable this for you. Work on that one. Being vulnerable is strength, not weakness.

About vulnerability…. It’s scary as hell – I get it. But those ‘perfect’ people who never show vulnerability… they are a freakin’ mess and as unreal as they come. Maybe you are particular with who you show vulnerability to – that’s okay… but don’t run from it. Denying it leads to a host of issues… In the quiet corners of ourselves, we are all vulnerable and it’s what makes us human. For the love of God, be human – don’t try to be a super hero or stoic!

In regards to stoicism, ask for help when you need it and it’s okay to cry. There will come a day when you need help with something – nobody is good at everything. Drop your defenses and just get help with what you need help with. And if you need to cry – CRY. Scream at the corn if you need to. Ball up in a corner and give yourself a hug if you need. Point is, don’t stay there – refer back to ‘don’t quit’ and go get assistance. Whether it’s assistance with getting a mortgage, having a baby and being scared out of your mind, marriage, a lousy job that you question if you made the right move, or a fight you had with someone, etc. – seek wisdom and guidance always. Never be too proud for this. And listen, mull it over…

Moderation. Everything in moderation. Enough said.

Find and understand faith. This I cannot spell out for you. It has to make sense to each of you or it’s moot.

Always give grace – especially when it’s hard. This is especially important for it has been grace that has sustained me when all else failed. I hope you all come to understand this concept for yourselves and recognize what it is and the value therein.

Forgive – even the unforgivable. This isn’t about them – it’s about you. It doesn’t matter if they ever admit to wrong doing or hurting you – forgive them anyways. There will come a day in each of your lives when you will be standing at a crossroads – forgive or not forgive. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to be an idiot and subject yourself to being hurt time and time again, but forgive those that do you wrong. Because honestly, you’re going to wrong others too – and we need forgiveness from others as well. If you don’t forgive, you will find bitterness growing in your hearts. We have spoken about bitter people in the past. They distance everyone from their lives because their bitterness takes over their hearts and lives – do NOT become bitter. Learn to forgive. If you don’t, you will grow old alone and… well, bitter. Miserable. Figure it out and forgive.

There are probably a million more things I could come up with Jonathon, but honestly it boils down to each of you. I believe we are ultimately responsible for our own choices (past a certain point in life) and we have to be okay with the choices we made. Not being okay with our choices – well, therein lies depression, anxiety, etc. And I’m not saying that you need to live perfectly without screwing up. My God, you’ve already screwed up – all of us have. The point is to learn as you go and make those lessons mean something. You know?

Live a good life.

You will each come to decide what a good life is and what it means to each of you.

And this answers your question.

I want each of you to live a good life.

What does that mean to you?

Figure that out.

You know the lessons I have taught you. You know what matters to me, but I am not you and you are not me.

We have to each come to this on our own.

It’s our own unique journey – this gift of life.

You only get one shot.

Make it a good one.

PS – I love you. And I’m proud of all of you. You all got this – this thing called life. You know what you need to do, even when it’s hard. Even when it’s challenging. Even when you have questions. I believe in all of you.

Love,

Mom

 

© LifeasChristine, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

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‘Gazoola Bird’ and ‘Hairball’ were used most often…

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My father once told me when I was young that I was looking for love in all the wrong places. I remember exactly where I was standing when I heard those words. I remember the circumstances. I remember the feelings.

I never told him then what I thought about his words, though I had a lot of thoughts on that idea. After many years, my thoughts became clearer.

The men I have dated and/or chosen throughout my life were not all shining examples of what fathers would want their daughters to date or choose. Growing up, my father had many synonyms; though ‘Gazoola Bird’ and ‘Hairball’ were used most often. You see, my father didn’t swear when I was growing up, nor did he use vulgarities in his vocabulary. I heard him say the word ‘piss’ once when I was a teenager. Maybe it was a result of his chosen vocabulary that he used creativity to express his disdain, I’m not sure.

There were quite a few ‘Gazoola Birds’.

I often wondered if I saw what he did not. But there is another angle to it.

He is not so unlike most of them.

I wrote a story once about how I judge all other men on the value I hold of my father. And to some, this may seem… judgmental. Perhaps. I try very hard to remain without judgment, but truth be told, as a human being – I question if that is possible. Most human judgment lies in human error, a lack of understanding many angles. And we often criticize what we do not understand. Even I am guilty of this, but that is a story for another day.

I have heard the stories of his youth. I would not be surprised to learn that other fathers were leery of him dating their daughters when he was young.

I have heard the stories from others, I have been a witness to mistakes, and yet to me he remains a diamond in the rough. Some see this. Others do not. Perhaps it is what we choose to see.

I have known many diamonds in the rough. To see beyond a rough exterior and search a heart is not always easy, but I do find worth within.

I disagreed with his statement so many years ago.

I was looking for love in many places, but I don’t believe they were in all the wrong places. I was trying to understand what love was. Many touched my life and contributed to my learning and understanding of what it is and what it is not. I have chosen some that others considered unworthy. And yet, I wanted to understand why. What makes one more worthy than another? Who casts the ‘worthiness’? If I saw what another did not, did that make it untrue? Who among us can decide worthiness?

I went on my own journey to understand what love was. It’s not always been a pretty road, but it did give many lessons and a lot of understanding. And honestly, I don’t believe I am done understanding this. I believe love is a life-long lesson.

© LifeasChristine, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Knowing our regrets is not to imprison us, but to free us…

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“Live life with no regrets”

That asinine quote has taken over the internet. There are articles upon articles instructing one how to live a life with no regrets, how to die without regret.

Scary.

You know who lives life without regrets?

Narcissists and sociopaths.

There is a big difference between wallowing in regret, understanding one’s regrets, and having no regrets.

In order to regret anything, one must reflect to some extent.

And I get it, not everyone reflects. Not everyone can look in the mirror.

To take a good, long, hard look at one’s life and truly acknowledge regrets requires honesty with oneself.

If one cannot be honest with oneself, how then, can they be honest with others?

Mull that over for a while.

Our regrets are very personal to each of us. They tell a story, there is often a lesson, and there is often change involved – not always, but often.

There is a reason for regret, yet too few understand this.

One of the questions I often ask people, when I’ve passed the pleasantries stage, is if they ever regretted anything. I don’t expect details or stories. Though stories should be shared, because it’s how we learn from each other, but I get it, some are not sharers.

You know those people that say, “Nope, no regrets here. I live life with no regrets.”

It is almost immediate… I close up shop. I don’t trust those with no regrets.

Do you know why?

Because there is no human that has ever lived a perfect life. There is no one that ever made every right choice or did not hurt another human being.

Regrets require a process in order to have any ‘learning’ come from it.
We have to be able, in the quiet corners of our self, know our regrets.

Growing as a person comes when we understand what they are and why.

Growth leads to change.

Knowing our regrets is not to imprison us, but to free us.

© LifeasChristine, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

We all find what we need, when we need it…

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I wonder, what did she tell you about me?

Did you hear that we were estranged?

Did she tell you it was because I didn’t get along with the second husband?

I’m not a fan of the word estranged. It implies that at one time we were close, an affection previously experienced.

It’s true that I didn’t get along with the second husband. She married him when I was about 6 years old.

Yeah, I didn’t get along with him too well.

Have you ever read about attachment styles?

I learned about them in undergrad – fascinating stuff.

I learned to self-soothe at an early age.

Yeah, I was a thumb-sucker until 8 or 9. I gave up my blanket around 6 or 7.

I was a lip-picker too, always my top lip, until about 5.

I remember her coming home from nursing school and showing me pictures of little girls with lips missing. I remember being terrified.

I quit picking my lip and sucked my thumb harder. Pushed those front teeth right out of place.

I never told her this, but I was molested by a group of boys in my first/second grade class, a combination classroom. It was every day at nap-time, like clock-work. She never noticed.

Years later she and husband #2 bought their second home on a quiet street in a small town. On those really hard days when I wished she was there, I would go into the bathroom where her bathrobe hung. I cried into her bathrobe and found comfort of the scent of her that lingered on the soft fabric.

I heard that your mom left you when you were younger.

Mine left the state when I was about 14/15. I had been living with my father for a few years. She packed up her house, sold it, and moved the remaining family to Virginia.

I always wondered if it was hard for her to leave a child behind.

I went to visit her for Easter one year. I was 17. I made some poor choices on that trip. I showed up at her door about 6 in the morning. I was covered in bruises.

She grabbed me by my hair and screamed that she was late for work. I never told her what happened that night.

She visited New York many years later. I was a grown woman with children of my own. We were sitting in the living room, her and me.

“Do you remember that night I came home at 6 am?”

She knew what night I was referencing. I got out the words, “I want to tell you what happened that night. I was raped…”

She cut me off, stood up, and left the room saying, “I can’t handle this.”

I have four children, did you know that?

She never made it to a single birth.

You may have seen pictures of them at her house. They’ve been there a couple of times.

Does she ever ask about you?

Does she ask what’s going on in your life?

Does she know when you are sad or happy?

Does she know your story or where you’re at?

Does she know your dreams?

Does she know your fears?

Does she reciprocate?

I remember a phone call once. I tried to tell her what was going on in my life. It was a rough time. She yelled at me to shut up and let her talk.

I didn’t attempt that again. I let her talk.

When she calls now, she runs the conversation.

I admit, I don’t always answer.

I have tried for many years to understand her. When I became a mother, I understood less.

You remember that thing I mentioned about attachment styles?

If you’ve ever read about them, perhaps you’ve read that they last for a lifetime and they affect all relationships from there on out. Most articles don’t mention substitutes. Substitutes can alter these attachment styles – at least other relationships that one forms. I know because I had a substitute mother.

I don’t really know what happened to her in her life. I’ve tried to ask. I’ve tried to understand. Whatever it is, I suspect it happened long before I arrived in the picture. I will probably always wonder.

I honestly hope that she finds what she wants and perhaps you can help her with that. I don’t think I can give her what she wants because she never gave me what I needed so long ago. Maybe she can give you what she wasn’t able to give me. Maybe you can provide that for her too…what she needs. I hope so.

I am not angry that you are my substitute. I honestly hope that you both find what you need. I was blessed to have that in my life and without that, I’m not sure I would be where I am today. I know that was a good thing for me – a needed thing for me. And truthfully, we all have needs. A wise woman once told me that we all find what we need …when we need it…

© LifeasChristine, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first kiss was a disaster…

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My father once told me that I was looking for love in all the wrong places. I never told him then what I thought about his words, though I had a lot of thoughts on that idea, but even more so now.

No doubt that I went on a long quest to understand love.

The concept of love completely frustrated and confused me as a child. Just when I thought I had it figured out, it turned upside down again.

When I had a daughter later on in life I wondered if I would explain all of this to her. Would I explain it to my sons? Would I teach them to protect their hearts and keep their bodies untarnished? More importantly, would they understand love from the get-go and be able to avoid all that comes with the confusion of not really knowing?

I did and I didn’t.  Perhaps I’ll tell that story another day.

My first kiss was a disaster, I wish I could say otherwise.

He was a farm boy from a little town on the outskirts of my hometown. A town known for one of the smallest post offices in all the land; basically a blip on the map, if that. I had recently turned 15. We went on a double date to the movies.

He ate orange Starbursts.

I never wiped my mouth after we kissed.

About an hour later, my mouth dried with crusty orange Starburst residue about an inch and a half surrounding the area around my lips.

I got spanked with a tree branch after I confessed to my step-mom and father that I had lied. I never went to my mother’s that weekend. I spent the night at a friends AND went on a date with a boy. I kept the kissing part to myself.

I never went out (nor kissed) that farm boy from a little town again. I did however become one hell of a picky kisser. Maybe because the stakes were so high for my first kiss. Maybe it was the memory of crusty orange Starbursts. Maybe it was the consequences of the whole endeavor. Maybe it was a combination of all this and more.

I didn’t love that farm boy from a little town, but he played a small part in my story and to this day I’m not a fan of orange Starburst candy.

© LifeasChristine, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

She had an open-door policy…

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She taught me some valuable lessons that I found worthy of holding onto.

We all do that don’t we? Measure the worth of a lesson.

And if we find worth, we incorporate that into our own lives. It becomes part of who we are.

She had an open-door policy and stay as long as you need.

She offered clean slates.

Do you know what a clean slate is?

It means, I may have heard things about you.

It means, you may have done some things I don’t agree with.

It means, you may have made some mistakes.

It means that whatever you’ve done, wherever you’ve been, whatever you’ve known, I will offer grace and a clean slate.

I will give you shelter from your storm.

I’m a big believer in clean slates because truthfully, none of us are perfect. We have all made mistakes. We all need grace and a clean slate at some point in our lives – some more than others. We have all known storms and may find ourselves needing shelter.

It’s not a guarantee that all will learn and there is risk involved.

My door has been an open-door policy to many. I have given shelter to those that needed it throughout various times in their life.

It began with a troubled adolescent from Louisiana who I flew to NY.

Most of these refugees are adolescents going through things within life and some merely made a poor choice and had nowhere else to turn.

Most of the time there is a process that occurs prior to giving them shelter. It scares some and comforts others.

I talk to them.

I ask them to tell me their story; to know where they’re at.

I have had parents threaten to call the police because I gave shelter.

I have had parents throw their hands up in the air and say, “Good Luck – your problem now!”

I have had parents say thank you for letting them know their child was safe and giving them shelter.

I have had parents warn me of their child.

I have had repeat visitors.

Not too long ago my 18-year-old son was on his way out the door.

He turned around to me and said, “Mom, I love you. Do you know one of the things I love about you most?”

“I love you too. What?”

“You give shelter to those that need it.”

She taught me some valuable lessons that I found worthy of holding onto.

We all do that don’t we? Measure the worth of a lesson.

And if we find worth, we incorporate that into our own lives. It becomes part of who we are.

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