Encouragement, Family

Summer Solstice and Hope

 

Twittering birds began their rabble-rousing earlier than usual this summer solstice morning.

I enjoy listening to their conversations and energy as I wake.

This morning I’m praying for a better day for the thousands of detained immigrant children spending agonizing days and nights without their parents or someone to comfort them in their distress.

I’m praying for the moral treatment and morale of our country to do better.

I’m thankful for the hundreds of organizations, thousands of Americans, and others around the globe signing petitions, and calling on elected officials to do something more humane for refugees/immigrants.

My own personal problems are minuscule by comparison. There is no comparison for babies and children ripped from their parent’s arms.

I’m heartened by those who are showing up at airports, detention centers, and their elected official’s offices to show their support of the refugees and their anger about the existing law.

I’m grateful for the many organizations who are helping refugees and those who are using social media about the places to donate. (One organization is Raices).

As the quote above states:

Let all things live with loving intent.

Today, all things seem possible. I’m praying more people will live with compassion and loving intent.

Make your summer solstice day one of random acts of kindness, a supportive word, a hug, a smile.

 

 

Parenting

A Daughter’s Birth Day

pexels-photo-302561.jpeg

Today, I’m reflecting on my daughters original birth day many years ago.

I came across the writing prompt “I remember…” and the memories came.

I remember focusing on the circle of light in the ceiling of the hospital room until finally, I felt a deep pressure and a tug.

I remember my baby in the arms of a nurse, a blur as she left my sight. An exhausted breath exhaled from my entire body, replaced by my tired smile.

I remember the gasps from my doctor. Seconds later another gasp from someone behind me.

I remember freezing in time.

“Oh my,” the doctor said and broke into laughter. A female voice giggled.

“What, what?!”

And then a chorus of “oohs” and “awws.”

Lowered into my arms was a healthy looking infant, rosy-cheeked, with a halo of just washed inky black hair standing on end. I couldn’t help tearing up and laughing at the same time.

Large eyes blinked, pink bow lips puckered.

I remember the moist baby scent of warmth; murmuring the words what a marvelous miracle.

baby girl with great grandparents
Daughter, four months old, with great-grandparents. Her hair is dampened down. http://www.alvaradofrazier.com

For months her full head of hair wowwed whoever saw her. They asked if they could touch her soft mane, fanned around her head like a fuzzy mohair hat.

Twenty-nine years later, my daughter’s hair is waist length, thick and beautiful. Today’s its emerald green.

 

 

 

Family

Celebrating The Past On Thanksgiving Day

Be thankful quote, sunset
Quote by Pablo, photo by Ms. Phoenix, flickr.com, cc.

 

My daughter’s eight-day visit is over. Mother’s and daughters, there’s something special about that relationship. I wonder if it’s because mother’s see a reflection of themselves in their daughter’s mannerisms for a fleeting moment. And when your kids are on their own and live in another state, every moment with them is fleeting.

The drive to LAX via the dreaded 405 freeway was so ‘unbusy’ it was like driving on another freeway in another century. Then again, many people had today off and it was 6:30 in the morning. Going back to Denver is always bittersweet for my daughter. We talk about who she got to visit, if her cat is mad at her, and wondering if it’s possible to transfer her job closer to home in California. We talk about plans for the next year, relationships, and her future.

We had fun attending the Guillermo Del Toro exhibit at LACMA. His movies are a little macabre for me (Pan’s Labrinyth, Chronos, Blade II …,) but I was willing to sacrifice my personal opinion to spend more time with my daughter. Plus, I got to see several Picasso’s at the museum. Shopping, getting Mani/Pedi’s, a haircut, and visiting with friends and relatives rounded out her visit.
Guillermo Del Toro exhibit-LACMA, Los Angeles, CA
Guillermo Del Toro exhibit-LACMA, Los Angeles, CA

Twenty of us gathered for Thanksgiving with my sister and brother-in-law. We ate almost three hours later than intended, but that will be a memory for another turkey day.

We had deep fried turkey, baked ham, and all the other fixings. My vegan son brought his own ‘turkey’ roast, gravy, rolls and pumpkin pie. Seven relatives ventured a taste of this non-meat roast and all of them gave the vegan food a thumbs up.

My sister asked me to say a prayer. I thought about that request and came up with a reflection instead:

There was a time when Thanksgiving dinner was a chicken meal, when the stuffing, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes showed up in a cardboard box on our back porch. There were no leftovers in those years but for the compassion of others, we are thankful.

Each Thanksgiving our turkey grew in size, along with the number of aunts, uncles, and cousins who shared meals with us. The size of our table expanded and we had enough to share. For our family we are thankful.

Time runs, leaving memories in its dust. Along the way, we lost loved ones, but our recollection of them is with us in our kitchens and tables as we celebrate. For those who went before us, we are thankful.

Remember the last 365 days. The days that we struggled and the days when we laughed with joy. The difficult days and the days we never wanted to end. Remember the times when someone gave us an encouraging word, a hug, or prayed for us, for it’s in those days that we learned to keep going, to keep hoping, to have faith. For the gift of love and support, we are thankful.

And now we get together here, with our mother, brother, and sisters, nieces and nephews, in-laws, friends, grandkids, and great-grandkids, still together, after all of these years sharing a Thanksgiving meal together.

And for this, let us be thankful.

A few of the grandchildren remarked “Chicken?”

Which led to the stories about when we were children and being the recipient of charity boxes on Thanksgiving and Christmas. And these stories led to other stories of post-dinner basketball games when we were young mothers and fathers. We left the table heavy with food and full of good memories.

And for that, I am thankful.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. 

Encouragement, Wisdom

Jesus Was An Amazing Social Activist

Seattle Protest, Nov. 9, 2016 photo by Ricard Ha
Seattle Protest, Nov. 9, 2016, photo by Ricard Ha

 

United We Stand: How do we get through the difficulties that threaten to tear us apart?

This was the topic of Sunday’s service at the church which I attend. Although it’s part of a series titled “Family Stuff,” it’s also appropriate for what’s happening during the post-Trump election.

Biblical scriptures are great like that, showing us that many ancient words still pertain to current circumstances.

The scripture used this past Sunday was Philllipians 1:27:

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”

These words reminded me that Jesus was himself a social activist. Anyone familiar with the bible knows the numerous stories of him speaking and fighting against injustice. What is amazing is that he did so in a non-violent manner.

It has grieved me to hear about the racist incidents happening all over our country. Time magazine cited several. A compilation of Tweets enumerating hundreds of incidents on Day 1 in Trump’s America began.

Reading the tweets may anger you. The hatred is real and so is the pain. Don’t let these hateful things break your spirit.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has counted more than 300 cases of hateful harassment or intimidation in the five days since Election Day.
“They’ve been everywhere — in schools, in places of business like Walmart, on the street,” SPLC President Richard Cohen said Monday.

I’ve heard stories, from parents in my own city, that racist comments have been made in elementary school classrooms. That breaks my heart.

My comment to the parent was to report all incidents and ask the administration to gather an assembly, reaffirming that hateful speech and bullying isn’t allowed whoever the POTUS is.

I read this report today from a Latino legal civil rights organization.

MALDEF STATEMENT ON REPORTS OF POST-ELECTION BULLYING AT CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS

November 10, 2016
LOS ANGELES, CA – In the aftermath of Tuesday’s election, reports have surfaced of problems at schools, including anti-immigrant bullying. MALDEF calls on local and state officials to move swiftly to address any incidents of uncivil discourse in our schools.

Please attribute the following statement to MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz.

“Every public school in the state of California is obligated under both state and federal law to step in to prevent and address bullying or harassment on any prohibited basis, including on the basis of actual or assumed immigration status or on the basis of race or ethnicity. These obligations are grounded in the federal and state constitutions; they have not and will not change regardless of who has been elected president or who is serving as president.

MALDEF calls upon school superintendents, principals, other administrators, and teachers to act promptly to address any bullying or harassment tied to the Trump campaign’s regrettable rhetoric around immigration and to take proactive steps to prevent such activity. MALDEF will not hesitate to take legal action against any school that fails to comply with its constitutional and legal obligations with respect to any such conduct.”

Now, I know all Trump supporters aren’t spewing racist remarks towards others but to those who believe electing their candidate gives license to their hate speech, they’re wrong and we have to combat these incidents.

On Nov. 9th, I took to FB, as many of us do to share, comment, vent, and lament.

“My son, in Denver, said people cheered in the streets last night, people wearing White Pride shirts. He’s uncomfortable, angry, and sad, like many of us. Fear ruled the night.
I woke up needing to process the choice most Americans made and began my day like all the others, reading my devotional. Psalm 39:7 appeared. It’s about hope.
Those of us who don’t like the choice will grieve but please continue to do the work you’ve always done for a better America, for all people. Do not let fear and hate destroy that work or dictate the next four years. Let hope rule the days to come.”

What can you do? What can I do?

Hope is what I will embrace. And don’t get me wrong, hope isn’t only a noun. Hope is a verb, too.  Hope as a noun is a feeling of expectation but as a verb, it is a desire for something to happen. Hope in action is significant.

Hope Journal, photo by Elizabeth M. at flickr.com
Hope Journal, photo by Elizabeth M. at flickr.com

 

Hope is not passive. I’m reminded by numerous scriptures that Jesus was not a passive man, or apolitical. He  confronted injustice, railed against tyranny, and engaged in ‘civil disobedience.’ Be involved with the communities that are hurting.

There are hundreds of things you can do as an individual or family to confront racist incidents. Start with your own family and talk about social justice in your home. Join a civil rights organization, participate in a local or state protest, talk to your kid’s teacher, confront hate, listen to others pain, demonstrate kindness and compassion.

If you want more resources, there’s plenty of people who’ve contributed their tips on the internet. Here’s a couple about talking with kids after the election and stories from the classrooms, What Do I Say?

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”