Tag Archives: Solutions

Ramblings on Refugees

I’m challenged by the Syrian refugee issue. I don’t know the right answer. On one hand, I feel compassionate to people who live in a horrible place, made that way by war. I don’t believe people deserve to live that way and I don’t believe the majority of them have the power or capacity to change their country/region. As a human and a person of faith, I am called to help, to be compassionate and caring.

On the other hand, as a thinking person living in a free country with a culture vastly different from where this war is taking place, I feel cautious. We have seen many examples of the hate manifested in attacks on innocent people. People who did nothing to deserve it. I feel the need to protect my family, my home and my way of life. I think that’s fair on my part.

How then do I reconcile the two? How does one show compassion for hurting people and at the same time provide safety and security for their own family? I really would like to hear how others have resolved this conflict personally.

My thoughts – First, I think you have to identify if it’s a real threat. Is it the kind of “perceived threat” we feel when we see someone who looks different from us? Or the real threat of someone who likely intends to do harm? I think in this case it’s both. There are desperate people who need help. They need the basics of food, shelter and safety. And among them there are people who are evil. People who will use our compassion against us. People who will give up their own lives to hurt us. Both are real.

It seems this issue is like every other; there are only extremes. My feed is filled with calls to reject all refugees or risk death, to close the borders quickly. And with claims of willingness to open their own homes to refugees, to let them all come. Either you believe the refugees are a threat which makes you a heartless, cruel Christian who picks and chooses when to follow your faith. Or you think we should open the doors wide and welcome everyone in which makes you naïve and willing to risk the freedoms our forefathers fought to gain. People who are against bringing refugees to this country forget what our ancestors went through to get here. People willing to bring refugees to this country forget the danger and evil that exist in the world. There is no in between.

Is bringing refugees to our home, our country the only way to help them? Is there another solution that is somewhere in between? It seems like if we take a breath, step back a moment, we can come up with a solution that cares for those in need and maintains some level of security for this country. (Ya, I know, I’m living in a fantasy world to think anywhere is safe!) At the very least is there a place for conversation without name calling? Is there a place for an intelligent, thoughtful conversation without resorting to hyperbole and extremism? Can we articulate our ideas and opinions with our own words rather than an exaggerated meme? Is it possible to hear someone else’s thoughts and opinions and validate their concerns? Is it so risky to acknowledge that you can understand where someone else is coming from? Or must we shut down and label those who might see the world differently? Is there a place for a real conversation?

I don’t know if that exists anymore.

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Filed under Faith, Intention, Legacy, The State of Affairs

Still Trying

So, it’s been 3 weeks. 21 days since I decided to make a change; to lose weight and eat healthier. But I’m still not ready to go public. I just can’t yet. And that’s ok.

I will share this at some point, but not right now. I have learned some things. About food and about myself.

  1. Healthy foods have fewer calories. Generally speaking, if something is good for you it’s probably not loaded with calories. And yes, this is kind of a DUH statement.
  2. Fruits and vegetables fill me up and stick with me longer. I can eat an apple at 3:30 and hold off until 8 pm to eat dinner. That’s a big deal!
  3. When I eat fewer carbs, I want them less. Conversely, when I give in and have a gooey cinnamon roll, even though I stay within my calories, I want more! I think it may be easier to just stay away than to go through the “withdrawal”!
  4. It takes work for me to eat healthy. But I think it will get easier. Making sure we have good food to eat and prepare meals from is important and time-consuming!
  5. It doesn’t take me as long to make a nutritious meal. We will quite often grill some meat and have a salad or vegetable with it.Super quick and easy. I didn’t realize how much time I spent making a starch for every meal!

I’m happy with how things have gone this first three weeks. I’ve lost an appropriate amount of weight and I’ve stuck with my plan. I think that’s success at this point. And more importantly its having the desired effect on the person I love who first called me out on this. That’s what really matters.

So no revelations and nothing earth shattering about what I’m doing. It isn’t a game changer, for anyone but me and my family. But it is progress and insight and I have momentum. Here’s to maintaining the inertia:)!

Note: This post was written 2 weeks ago:)!

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Filed under Goals, Health

Thankful Thursday – Doctors and PAs

Youngest Son has been complaining about his ankles hurting for a long time. He complains off and on. Not like he is in tears and can’t stand it. Just like, “Man my ankles hurt so bad.” But then he wouldn’t say anything for a while.

Our family is always going in different directions, lots of balls in the air. I try to stay on top of things; look at the calendar and plan ahead. But the reality is, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. It just does. I wish it wasn’t so, but it is. So when Youngest Son didn’t complain, it was out of my head.

He finally started asking us to make a doctor appointment for him. Then I got the hint. It must really be bothering him. So we scheduled one and the saga began. First stop the pediatricians office. They referred us to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon – the same one we went to with his broken wrist. We went through a round of prescription anti-inflammatories and then physical therapy. Then x-rays. Or maybe it was the other way around, I forget. This has been going on for a few months. It seemed like he was complaining less, like maybe we were getting somewhere.

Hubby had been taking him to the appointments and giving me updates as he went along. Then he said they want to do an MRI. I was skeptical at this point. But this is where my total respect for this doctor and the physicians assistant in the office comes from. They felt like they just hadn’t gotten to the root of what was causing the pain. They were diligent in trying to identify the cause. When I was willing to write it off to “growing pains” they kept digging.

We went in this week to get the results of the MRI. And we came home with this.

It seems there were two stress fractures, one in an ankle bone and one in a foot bone. My poor baby.

He will have this beauty for 4 weeks followed by a walking boot for another 4-8 weeks. And hopefully this will solve his pain issues in both ankles – overcompensating pain in the other ankle.

I’m so thankful that these healthcare professionals really listened to what Youngest Son was saying. That they were diligent in trying to end his pain. I feel like they are truly in the right profession. They care about the outcome and are determined to help him. 

Today I’m thankful for doctors and physician’s assistants. 

{And for waterproof casts:)}

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Moral Compass

I saw a post on Facebook recently with a speech attributed to Ben Stein. I don’t know for sure that he actually said it all – the end had all the markings of a chain email. But I did appreciate the point being made. I struggle with the way religion, and specifically Christianity, is being pushed out. There has been a continuous progression in my lifetime to “separate church and state”, but somewhere along the way this has been translated to “remove all signs of Christianity from our society.” I understood the intention of the separation of church and state to be prohibiting us from mandating one state religion; that it cannot be proclaimed that all Americans must be Christians. And thank goodness for that! When we mandate what people must believe we become something so drastically different, something I don’t want to be a part of. But I don’t believe it is intended to mean that people may not express their own faith in public. That we must cleanse our society of all signs of Christianity. Is that not mandating atheism? How different is it to force one religion or banish religious practice?

Being “politically correct” which is code for appeasing the most sensitive individuals ensuring no one is ever made to feel slightly uncomfortable has become the norm. We as a society have stepped aside and let a small minority dictate what is offensive, what could be misinterpreted. We have watched as things like the Father Son Cake Bake become the Manly Cake Bake to insure that no child feels uncomfortable that they don’t have a father or their father is not a part of their life. The intent may be good, I certainly don’t want a child feeling ostracized because of the choices his parents made. But is this not diminishing the role of fathers in a boy’s life? Does it not minimize the importance of having a father if we are always careful to note that not everyone has one? When we work so hard to make those without a father feel “normal” and minimize the deficit this causes in their life, are we not minimizing the importance of all fathers?

Likewise, when we remove the standard by which we judge right and wrong, our moral compass, should we not be prepared for a new sense of right and wrong? I grew up with the Ten Commandments as that compass. That along with the whole of the Bible is what I base my morality upon. If those tenants become unacceptable in our society what replaces them. Look at the laws of our country and how closely they mirror the Ten Commandments. No killing, no stealing, and no lying are the first that come to mind. If not for the religious basis, then why do we have these rules? Why not  just say  anything goes? Why not let each person judge what is a fair way to be treated?

I fear that as a society we have lost our moral compass. Or possibly we have changed our true north – that by which we set our compass. I would argue our culture’s true north has been moved to our own centers. It has become about what will make me feel good, not cause me stress or angst. The goal has become to not make anyone uncomfortable, to make everything OK. In our haste to not offend, we lose sight of the fact that there truly is right and wrong. There are things that are not negotiable. And sometimes life is hard and unfair. There will be times when we screw up and we have to answer for our actions, we cannot make the pain go away by changing the rules. We make the pain go away by pushing through it, by learning from our mistakes, repenting for our wrongs, asking forgiveness of those we have hurt and doing better. When we work so hard to protect others from discomfort, we also shelter them from the opportunity to grow and learn and do better.

Where does our future lie as a people? At what point will we begin to take personal responsibility for our actions? When will we realize that in trying to make everything OK, nothing matters? When we let go of what matters only chaos remains.

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Filed under The State of Affairs

Finding Focus

I am totally going in circles lately. I don’t seem to be able to zero in and find my focus. I have lots of exciting things happening – new opportunities presenting themselves. {No, I’m not looking for a new job and a new job hasn’t found me:) For the record, I’m very happy where I am and I have no intention of leaving.} These things are related to my hobbies. And they are good things!

But I’m struggling to make decisions and plans. I think it’s possible I’m over-thinking things a bit. I just really don’t want to jump until I know where I plan to land. Does that make sense? It’s not at all like me to be indecisive. I make decisions quickly and move on. And I don’t often regret my decisions. So why is this so hard?

Maybe because I love both opportunities. They are both things I thoroughly enjoy doing. I could be very happy doing either one. And I will continue with both. It’s just a matter of figuring out which one to focus my energy on right now. In trying to decide, I’m weighing lots of options and thinking thru plans. Sometimes in the middle of all that thinking, things get muddled. It’s time to take a different approach, use a new strategy.

Let’s see…I could follow the advice I give my kids when they just can’t focus.

  • Go for a run. Not likely, but exercise usually clears the mind a bit. And it would certainly fit with our Family Fitness plan.
  • Mix it up. Take a break and do something completely different. I think this is the strategy I employed since I’m cranking out blog posts like crazy tonight – on both blogs. Should be lots to read this week!
  • Make a list and prioritize what you need to do. This one could be helpful. Getting things on paper always helps me. There is something about  a clean tablet and my blue pen that crystallizes ideas for me.
  • Talk it thru. Find a good sounding board and talk things thru. Often, just saying things out loud helps you make a decision. Something about hearing yourself say the words makes the decision real and clear.

I hope to come up with a plan within a week or two. I will most definitely share. Just not ready to do that yet.

So what do you do when you just can get focus? Any ideas are welcome!

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Family Fitness Week 1

Our family is on a fitness kick. Not the kind you might think. We aren’t all working out 3 hours a day and preparing to run a marathon. We are trying to make a few changes to be healthier. Most of us have been feeling sluggish, or just not up to par. The reality is our lifestyle is not doing us any favors. If you’ve read my blog much you know we are pulled in 5 different directions at any given moment. This means we are eating on the fly, getting very little sleep and not making time for exercise. A recipe for feeling blah.

So what to do?

My nature is to develop a very detailed, elaborate plan. Spend hours laying it all out – in spreadsheet form of course- and present to the family. And that will last about a day. I knew we needed a simple solution. Something we can manage without a drastic lifestyle change. You know, slow and steady wins the race. I did some searching on the internet of course. I found Sparkpeople.com. Its a free site focused on being healthy. There is a diet track if that’s what you are interested in, but the real focus is on making healthy life choices. There are lots of trackers – nutrition, fitness, weight., goals. There are journals, and recipes and community forums. So many tools! It’s a great site.

But its too much for us right now. I need some very small steps. Something the whole family can buy into. And something that won’t be so much work to track. Then I stumbled on “An Eight-Week Family Fitness Plan: To Reduce the Obesity Threat to Your Family”. I wanted a checklist and that’s exactly what this is – Week 1, Week 2, etc. I printed it out and read the introduction at dinner last Sunday. And then we went thru Week 1.

There are six topics each week and you choose what you want to do. Its bite sized! I like that! You literally go thru the list and pick what you want to commit to ….for that week! I can do anything for a week.

We had a really long brunch and worked our way thru all six topics. Here’s what we decided.

  • Family Project – we calculated the BMI of every family member {thanks to the nifty scale I bought a couple months ago} and have recorded it.
  • Healthier Activities – we made a list of activities we would like to do as a family and decided to pick one a week to do. Last Sunday we did yard work together – raking leaves is hard work.
  • Healthier Mealtimes at Home – we had lots of ideas here.
    • The TV is off during meal times. – this is a huge thing for us!
    • We switched to smaller plates – luncheon sized.
    • And each committed to a better decision during lunches
      • Hubby – no fried foods
      • Me – no fast food breakfasts
      • Oldest Son – switch to wheat bread on his sub sandwich (Please! That’s his bad habit – not chips, not burgers, not fries…love that kid!)
      • Middle Son – no chicken tenders or nuggets for school lunch
      • Youngest Son – eat a protein, fruit or veggie and milk for lunch every day (we were appalled to find out what he is actually eating for lunch!! Pringles, goldfish and bottled water! EVERY DAY! Total parent fail.)
  • Healthier Nutrition – we came up with a couple for this one.
    • We committed to having a fruit or vegetable at every meal at home. Hubby has done a great job of making sure we have one every night for supper. {I know, this should have been a no brainer, but it wasn’t – don’t judge:)}
    • We also came up with a few ways to increase our plant proteins (dry beans, peas, nuts and seeds, soy products). We have added almonds as a snack and addition to our yogurt and we are adapting some of our Mexican dishes to incorporate black beans {something I love, but the kids – not so much}.
  • Rest – this is so important and probably the biggest deficit for our family!
    • They suggest cutting caffeine after 3 PM. Um…NO! When it comes to my caffeine, I turn crazy. Don’t mess with my soda! So here’s what we did commit to:
      • Hubby – cut down to 3/day
      • Me – no soda after 9 pm and count how many I consume a day {scarey}
      • Oldest Son – he doesn’t drink pop – whatever
      • Middle Son – 1 soda/week
      • Youngest Son – 1 soda/week
  • Media – in a nutshell, we decided to only turn the TV on to watch a specific show. We talked about what we like to watch and each picked a couple things. The TV doesn’t come on until the show starts. Instead of channel surfing to find something interesting.

So that was the plan. Totally do-able.

The discussion around this was interesting. We learned what everyone’s buttons were – the thing they didn’t want anyone messing with. {I may have more than the rest of the family:)} It resulted in some heated conversations, but it was good. And it will be a week tomorrow.

How has it gone? Really well! There have been a few missteps, but for the most part we have all stuck to our commitments. I think that’s because we chose what we were willing to do and because we did it in bite sized pieces. No one has lost weight and we aren’t running any half marathons, but that wasn’t the goal {and it’s been a whole week!}. But we are making small changes that will add up to better fitness in the long run.

I peeked ahead to some of the future weeks. It made me shudder. I’m just going to have to take this one week at a time.

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Filed under Family, Health, Lifestyle

Dear Lunch Lady,

You had an opportunity and you blew it. On the third day of school. I don’t know if you realize what happened, but you should have. My son is at a new school this year, with new rules, new routines, new teachers and plenty of anxiety. You had the opportunity to help him settle in, to let him know the school is a place where people care about him. But instead you taught him something very different.

He came to your lunch line and told you he left his ID and check to add money to his lunch account in his classroom. On the third day of school. At a new school. With new rules, routines and teachers. You made him wait until all the other students had gone through the line. And then you only allowed him a cheese sandwich and milk since there wasn’t enough money in his account for his lunch.

Shame on you.

You could have allowed him to go get his money and ID. You could have told him he had to go to the office to be allowed back in the classroom. You could have talked to his teacher. You could have treated him with respect and understanding. On the third day of school. At a new school. With new rules, routines and teachers.

But you did not. Shame on you.

You did not teach him to remember his ID or check. You taught him that the adults at his new school are mean and don’t care about him. You taught him that he can’t depend on them. That’s what he heard and that makes me sad.

I hope when you are in a bind, someone shows you more respect and understanding than you showed to my son. On the third day of school. At a new school. With new rules, routines and teachers.

Sincerely,

His Mom

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