Month: February 2014

Challenge for today

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18 NIV

Reach out to the lowest you see.  Lift them up.  If they need water, give them water.  If they need bread, give them bread.  Jesus always reached out to the “least of these.”

Childcup

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My pain is ever with me

“Why do you insist on blaming yourself?”

“Because I wasn’t a good enough friend.  I wasn’t there to help him when he needed it the most.  I failed him.”

“You couldn’t be with him every minute.”

“A better friend would have known what he was planning and would have been able to stop him.”

“A worse friend would have stopped being his friend because he was so volatile.”

“I just want this to end.”

“You see the damage that he has caused to so many people.  Classmates, soccer team, coaches, teachers, family, friends, the list goes on and on.  Do you really want to do this to everyone you know and those who know those people?  The ripples spread far and wide and they keep spreading.  A friend of mine did this 30 years ago and I still mourn for him.  You are going to do the same damage to others what has been done to you.  Doesn’t that matter to you?”

“My logical mind and my emotional mind don’t line up on the subject.”

“What do you want?”

“I want this to end.  I want my pain to go away.  I want to go home.  This has never been home to me.”

“I don’t know how to help you.”

“You can’t.”

“I don’t know how to fix this.  How do I make it better?”

“You can’t.  No one can.”

“There has to be a way.  This can’t be the only solution.”

Silence

“I’m not going to let you out of my sight.”

“You can’t watch me every minute.”

“I’ll send you to another hospital.”

Silence

“You will not be able to stop this.”

Silence

Psalm 38:17

For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me.
cutting

Orphan’s and Development

Orphans’ Lonely Beginnings Reveal How Parents Shape A Child’s Brain

February 24, 2014 3:35 AM
Izidor Ruckel, shown here at age 11 with his adoptive father Danny Ruckel in San Diego, Calif., says he found it hard to respond to his adoptive parents' love.

Izidor Ruckel, shown here at age 11 with his adoptive father Danny Ruckel in San Diego, Calif., says he found it hard to respond to his adoptive parents’ love.

Tom Szalay

Parents do a lot more than make sure a child has food and shelter, researchers say. They play a critical role in brain development.

More than a decade of research on children raised in institutions shows that “neglect is awful for the brain,” says Charles Nelson, a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital. Without someone who is a reliable source of attention, affection and stimulation, he says, “the wiring of the brain goes awry.” The result can be long-term mental and emotional problems.

A lot of what scientists know about parental bonding and the brain comes from studies of children who spent time in Romanian orphanages during the 1980s and 1990s. Children likeIzidor Ruckel, who wrote a book about his experiences.

Izidor Ruckel dons a hat of a style common in his birthplace, Romania. He now lives in Denver.

Izidor Ruckel dons a hat of a style common in his birthplace, Romania. He now lives in Denver.

Barry Gutierrez for NPR

When Ruckel was 6 months old, he got polio. His parents left him at a hospital and never returned. And Ruckel ended up in an institution for “irrecoverable” children.

But Ruckel was luckier than many Romanian orphans. A worker at the orphanage “cared for me as if she was my mother,” he says. “She was probably the most loving, the most kindest person I had ever met.”

Then, when Ruckel was 5 or 6, his surrogate mother was electrocuted trying to heat bath water for the children in her care. Ruckel ended up in an institution for “irrecoverable” children, a place where beatings, neglect, and boredom were the norm.

Polio had left him with a weak leg. But as he got older he found he had power over many of the other children who had more serious disabilities.

“There was no right, there was no wrong in the orphanage,” Ruckel says. “You didn’t know the difference because you were never taught. I was put in charge of kids and I treated them just the way they treated us. If you didn’t listen to me, I’d beat you.”

In the Institute for the Unsalvageable in Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania, shown here in 1992, children were left in cribs for days on end.

In the Institute for the Unsalvageable in Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania, shown here in 1992, children were left in cribs for days on end.

Tom Szalay

Read more: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/02/20/280237833/orphans-lonely-beginnings-reveal-how-parents-shape-a-childs-brain

Act Justly and Love Mercy

Good words to consider today . . .

Micah 6:6 With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

Inside Teenage Suicide

The fallout from Isaiah and mental illness continues.  This is a blog from our neighbor – a very special friend of mine.  I was worried about her the night Isaiah died.  Actually, Laurie and I said immediately after calling 911, “we need to go to Jocelyn.”   I continue to worry and pray for her.  This is a very tough read…. Read it at your own discretion.   Please join me in praying for her.

You Are Greatly Loved

Image

Let me begin by saying that this will probably be one of my most serious posts, and I’m hesitating a lot in putting this out there, but I feel like the information is just bubbling inside of me and I’m going to explode if I can’t get it out somehow.

Basically, my life has fallen apart. I know what you’re thinking: “What the hell happened?” Literally nothing. Nothing is different from the time that I was target-free. That’s the weird thing. I relapsed for no terribly apparent reason and I’ve been getting worse and worse still without a cause. Recently, I have had the dosage of one of my mood stabilizers lowered, but I definitely hesitate to put any significance in that.

I’ll break down the week for you.

Monday, February 17, 2014:

I had a meltdown at school. I was sitting in guidance at the end of third period waiting to talk to my counselor. Suddenly, I felt tears start to well up in my eyes. I was like, “Dafuq?” I had no idea why I was crying. I got extremely anxious and depressed. I sat there for a little bit, but I kept spiraling downward. I told the secretaries in the guidance office that I needed immediate help. They said they would try to email and call my guidance counselor because she was in her office with another student. I paced back and forth and my breathing started to get out of control. Suicidal thoughts and shame began clouding my mind. I was flipping shit.

By the time my counselor was free, I was basically sobbing. She asked me what was going on and all I managed to gasp out was “I really want to kill myself.” After we spoke for some time, she called my mom, who came and picked me up. When we got home, my mom wouldn’t let me out of her sight until it was time for me to go to bed. Not long after she left me alone, I cut.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014:

I can’t remember much other than some tidbits of my school day. However, I know that I did cut and burn myself that night.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014:

When questioned on my self-harm at school, I openly said that I had cut and burned. Of course this caused some alarm, but it was known that I had been hurting myself throughout the week as well. Burning just kind of stepped it up. The school nurse checked out my burns and wrapped them. I don’t know why I didn’t expect my guidance counselor to say something to my mom about my self-harm, but she did. I guess I really should have seen it coming. When my mom talked to me about it, I got extremely dysregulated. She really dug into me with points she made about me not putting effort into using skills. The way it came across, however, was more like “Everyone is trying so hard to help you and you aren’t trying at all”. That’s not super far off though.

At that point, something inside of me snapped. For the first time in my life, I decided wholeheartedly that I was going to kill myself. Even other times when I had attempted, it was more “we’ll see what happens” than “this is definitely going to happen”. But on Wednesday I made up my mind that, without a doubt, I would commit suicide on Sunday, the 23rd. I felt almost instantaneous relief. I had an escape. I began planning what I would do. Overdose. My medication and cold medicine I had stashed in my room. Lay on a towel so that clean up would be easier if I threw up. Lock my door and turn on a fan so that if I was having a seizure or in pain I wouldn’t be able to back out and get my mom’s attention. I began writing notes to everyone that was important in my life. These notes would span over 20 people from my friends to my family to my therapist and teachers. I went to bed that night feeling calm and confident despite another aggravating conversation with my mother.

Thursday, February 20, 2014:

I woke up feeling at peace with my decision. I read a text message from one of my good friends saying that I’m meant to do incredible things, and that I’m one of the strongest people in the world. She also said that I would live to be like 105 and then eventually I would go to heaven and have the dopest time together with Isaiah for the rest of forever. That’s when my confidence first started to waver. I was able to accept the compliments and somewhat brush them off.

I ate breakfast. I didn’t want to, but I knew that if I didn’t eat, people would know that something was different. I headed off to school. If I could get through the school day and my following therapy session, I’d be in the clear away from my support staff and therapist. My plan was to avoid my guidance counselor and emotional support teacher. I have daily check-ins with them that I was going to skip. I didn’t go to my first one during homeroom, and things were going okay first period. I was partially paying attention to chemistry, but mostly just writing more suicide notes. I started to get impatient. I wanted to die immediately. Sunday seemed ages away. I decided that I was going to die Friday, the next day.That’s when it occurred to me that another one of my support staff is in my second period. Unavoidable interaction. If I skipped the class, someone would know things weren’t normal. I started getting anxious, but I tried talking myself down. “I can do this.” “I’ve acted before, right? I must have learned something in theater.” “It’ll be okay; its almost over.” I decided that I was just going to try to keep our conversations to a minimum.

I skipped my first period check-in and went straight to second. All I needed to do was keep my cool through second period. It seemed easy enough. I sat down and realized we had a test in that class. Shit. I have testing accommodations in my IEP. She was definitely going to talk to me about that. My support teacher came in and started talking to all the other kids that I guess get testing accommodations too. I thought in a brief moment of hope that maybe she’d forget about me. They were getting ready to leave the room, and I got excited. I thought I was good to go, but then she turned around and asked if I wanted to go with them.

“I don’t know. I’ll probably hand it in blank.” I said less nonchalantly than I would have liked.

She said that that’s why I should come with her. If I turned her down, it would be obvious that something was up. I followed her and the other students to an empty classroom. She passed out the tests. I stared at the paper. I knew the answers, but I couldn’t bring myself to write. Math seems so irrelevant when you’re going to die in a day.

My teacher sat down with me and read me the first question. Without thinking, I said, “It doesn’t matter.” My voice shook and tears began to form. I was surprised and instantly angry. I had no idea why I was about to cry. I was disgusted with my emotion. I needed to die then. I decided to move my death date once again. I would kill myself that night. I took a deep breath and forced myself to maintain composure. She said that she knew it doesn’t matter, and that surviving is what matters for me, but if I wanted to get out of those hallways eventually, it mattered. I didn’t know what to say. My vision got blurry. More tears were coming. FUCKFUCKFUCK is all I was thinking. My teacher got up and brought me a box of tissues. She came around behind me and gave me a hug, whispering “You are greatly loved.”

That’s when I really lost my shit. I felt a pang of agony in my chest. The tears flowed freely. I couldn’t control it. She asked me if I wanted to go to guidance, and I said no. I couldn’t afford letting my guidance counselor see me like that too. Raising alarm was the very last thing I wanted. I thought about all of the people that I love and that love me. It was sinking in that I would be leaving them that night. I thought about Isaiah leaving me. I cried. She asked if something had happened the night before that was upsetting me. I said kind of, but that it wasn’t important. She said “Everything about you is important.” Even more crying.

I sat in that room and cried for a little longer before I stepped out into the hallway. That’s where I began all-out sobbing. After a few minutes, I saw my teacher look through the window in the door to check on me. I’m sure I looked like a complete mess. It wasn’t long after that that the school social worker came up to me. She asked me if I wanted to come into her office.ShitWhat have I done? I’m blowing it! I followed her downstairs into her office. She tried to get me to talk to her about what was wrong. I said nothing. I just cried.

After a bit of her prying, I said, “I don’t want people to care about me.” She asked me why I wanted that, and I just shook my head. I felt like I had already said too much. She said that whether I want them to or not, a lot of people care because that’s what they do. I cried some more.

Eventually, the social worker had to go to a meeting, so she walked me down to guidance. I was very hesitant because I had no idea how I would handle talking to my counselor that I was usually so open with, but again, if refused to go, things would seem even stranger. I was still crying uncontrollably once I was in my guidance counselor’s office. She asked me many questions, trying to get a grip on what was going on. I said “I don’t know” or “it’s not important” to almost everything. I must have cried nonstop for 45 minutes or an hour before I snapped. She asked me what one thought going on in my mind was, and I said “People love me.” I was exhausted from the war that was going on inside of me. Part of me was screaming to shut the hell up, and the other just wanted to be honest. She asked me why that was upsetting me. What felt like forever passed as the argument continued in my head. I blurted out between sobs, “I’m going to kill myself tonight.”

As you can imagine, this sparked a whole ton of shit. At that point, I just started spewing word vomit. The majority of my plan came tumbling out of my mouth. I regretted each thing I said more than the last. She called my mom of course, who came and picked me up early from school. My mom and I went to Friendly’s after that. Kinda weird, I know, but oh well. She was probably trying to cheer me up. There we started brain storming where to go from there in terms of my life. However, I was still not very committed to living at all. We did it anyway. Unsurprisingly, hospitalization joined the list along with dropping out, being a bum, doing the same thing we were (regular high school and potential work), and some other things. We didn’t figure out which one we were going to stick to. I had a therapy session at 3 o’clock that day, so we were going to wait to get my therapist’s opinion. I thought for sure that she was going to hospitalize me. I had a suicide plan. That’s usually a direct ticket to inpatient. My mom said that if I wasn’t completely open and honest with my therapist, we were going to leave her and find a different one. Now, I have no idea what that would do to help. Seeing someone brand new while in crisis seemed like the worst idea proposed so far. Not to mention the fact that I’m relatively attached to my therapist of two years.

So we got to the therapy office and I was anxious as shit. So many things were at risk. My suicide plan, my freedom, my relationship with my therapist. I was freaking out inside, but I tried to stay as calm as I could on the outside. My mom had called my therapist when she was on her way to pick me up, so she already knew about my plan. I told her what my week had been like in a recap that was similar to this one, but with more swearing. We talked about all the options that my mom and I had come up with. She said that if I went to a hospital, it was likely that they’d only discharge me into a longer term program because I had been discharged home in each of my other hospitalizations and time after time failed to remain safe. This was shitty news. A long term treatment program (like a residential or group home) was not going to make me want to live.

At the end of my session, we brought my mom in and talked with her a little bit. Not much was decided for sure except that I would have two sessions the next week instead of one. I wasn’t confident in my ability to even get to next week, so it seemed like a pretty thin plan, but I let it go. My mom said that she would be my one-on-one staff, which means that again I would not be out of her sight.

After I was home again, I began to feel numb. Everything felt so surreal. My mom made me help her clear my room of razors and pills. We found razors that I didn’t even know I had. Each time we found one, I slashed my wrists open in my mind. Holding a box cutter, I knew how easy it would be to cut deep enough to really fuck something up. I knew that my mom would be able to get medical attention there fast though. Death would be highly unlikely, and then I’d definitely get sent away. Not worth it.

Thinking that night, I allowed myself to fall further into my numbness. The thought popped into my head that maybe I was in shock. I had believed with every fiber of my being that I was going to be dead that night, even after I told my guidance counselor. I wouldn’t have gotten as upset as I did if I had had any doubts.

In the days following Thursday, I tried to go about things as normally as I could. I went to a leadership summit on Friday with students from my school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. Then my friends and I went out to eat. Saturday, I went to breakfast with two of my good friends and hung out with them while they played guitars. My brother and I got a surprise visit from some friends at our house and then went to an auction, a pizza place, and some antique shops. Later Saturday afternoon, my sister came home from college, so that was really cool.

It all sounds great, right? It is great. I’m surrounded by so many wonderful people, but I am plagued by the desire to leave them all. All the while it’s been very much in the front of my mind that I’m not supposed to be here. If my teacher hadn’t said anything to me, I wouldn’t have broken down, if I hadn’t broken down, I wouldn’t have seen my guidance counselor, and if I hadn’t seen my guidance counselor, I really wouldn’t be here. With each person I talk to, I picture them at my funeral. I run through the suicide note that I left for them in my mind. I feel such guilt for wanting to abandon everyone that loves me, but at the same time I feel a crushing amount of disappointment that I haven’t yet.

Today is exactly one year and four months since Isaiah passed away.

It’s also the day that I had originally set out to die.

I have no idea what to do.

We don’t live in Disney Land

Everyday I see new ads and articles on the latest “miracle”.  Diets, Health, Long life, Wealth, Success.  Just do “this” and your life will be changed forever.  I have always struggled with “failure” attitudes.  I wish these “miracle” cures could help but I don’t believe any of them.

I have hope in Jesus.  I have life.  I receive love that I don’t deserve.  We all face trials but we can all rest in His arms.

Life is hard but God is bigger than all of it.  It would be nice to live in Disney Land but reality doesn’t let us.  We all struggle at times but He is with us in each battle.

Genesis 3:16-18

New International Version (NIV)

16 To the woman he said,

“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.”

17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.

Somewhere over the rainbow . . .

Are you dreaming or are you looking at God’s vision for your life?  There is a big difference.  You may dream of winning the lottery but God may have a real plan for you to be financially wealthy.  You may dream of having a large family but God may have a vision of you parenting thousands.  With God nothing is impossible.  Allow Him to lay out his plans on you and dream in his vision, not in yours.  Allow Him to put your troubles behind you and allow Him to focus your eyes on what is really ahead instead of a false dream.  Dream big but dream His BIG!

Earthly dream:

Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high
There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow, Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true…

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops, that’s where you’ll find me

Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow, why then, oh why can’t I?

If happy little blue birds fly beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can’t I?

Godly dream:

Genesis 15:5

He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
108

We see what we want to see

A friend of mine is a master deer hunter with a bow.   He often kills 20 to 30 deer a season all on little patches of trees in densely populated areas.  (The licenses are to thin the deer because they are a nuisance.  He eats what he kills). Whenever I travel with him (whether he is driving or not) he sees deer.  Even when it is nearly dark out, he sees deer!  We will be traveling down the highway and he says “3 deer”.  I look but rarely see them.    The last time we were together I said “How do you do that, I never see them!”

He replied, “it’s like you and hawks.  You always see hawks and I never do.  You have an eye for hawks and I have an eye for deer.”

He’s right.  I love hawks.  I see them everywhere.  I’m always telling my family, “there’s a hawk” and they rarely see them.  One one 45 minute drive I saw more than 11 hawks.   I’ve prayed to see them.  I now have one living in my back yard and yesterday he/she came and landed on my picnic table, under a roof, 5 feet from my door!

We see what we want to see.  Glass half empty/half full.  We see the positive or the negative.  We see God’s kingdom or we see a dying planet.  What do you see?  What do you want to see?  Do you want to look up and see God’s plan or do you want to look down and stumble?  It’s your choice.

Exodus 19:3-5

New International Version (NIV)

3 Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine,

In this picture, do you see a dead rail line or living trees?

tree

Climate change

Quote today from Secretary of State John Kerry:

“When I think about the array of global climate, of the global threats, think about this: terrorism, epidemics, poverty, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” Kerry said in a speech to students in the capital, Jakarta. “All challenges that know no borders. The reality is that climate change ranks right up there with every single one of them.”

He stressed that 97 percent of scientist agree that climate change is “unequivocal” and that those people who deny the facts “are simply burying their heads in the sand.”

Besides the fact that he is quoting the Bible . . . and may not know what the Bible says about the days ahead . . . I find this so interesting in many ways.

1) Really? It’s obvious that Mr. Kerry has never suffered from starvation, poverty, epidemics etc.  Really Mr. Kerry, please explain that to someone who is hungry, cold, sick and dying without any care.  No offense but that is like telling someone who is hungry that they should be saving for retirement.

2) Climate change – Let’s assume that it is real.  My argument all along has been we have little means to stop it.  Even if America eliminated our carbon footprint, none of the other countries are.  China is the biggest polluter in the world.  Good luck shutting them down.

3) Climate change – Which way is it going?  in the 1970’s it was cooling.  In the early 2000’s it was warming.  Now it it climate change.  It is changing, we just don’t know how.  On 60 minutes tonight the producers admitted that nearly 100% of the great lakes are frozen over.  They are complaining about how cold it is!  Really?

4) Our heads are buried in the sand?  Really Mr. Secretary.  Most of us are buried but not in sand.  We are buried in debt – 17.3 trillion thanks in part to your administration, 10,000 per person for state debt, credit card debt, school debt, pension debt, local debt.  We are working harder and falling behind.   Most of us do not have the luxury Mr. Secretary to worry about climate change because we are trying to survive.  Why don’t you and Mr. Gore spread out your billions to those of us who don’t have private jets.   We are trying to survive like the people in Indonesia.

5) Secretary Kerry is announcing this in Indonesia which has one of the most active volcanoes in the world.  How will that effect our climate Mr. Secretary?  What will you do about that?

6) It doesn’t bother me that scientists research this.  It bothers me that we Americans think that we know what is best for the rest of the world and that we can fix it.  Sorry, I’m not buying it.  I need to stop writing and pay some bills.

 

Luke 21:8-10

New International Version (NIV)

8 He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”

10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.

kibera4

 

 

Love one another

For those of you who are struggling with how to be a Christian tomorrow you don’t need to read a library of books.  You don’t need self help books.  You don’t need a coach.  You don’t need to become a monk or sit in silence for 30 days.  You don’t even need to read my blogs!

I wish it was my idea to make it so simple but I can’t take any credit.  It was layed out for me too:

For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 1 John 3:11 NIV

africa