The Good Life

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Waiting for Better

I have had a couple people ask me why I haven't posted anything in a while. Two reasons: no internet access at home due to trying to save money which leads to reason two...having a kid or kids around. Not only do they suck all the time out of your day (not necessarily in a bad way) but they cost a lot too. However, I am at my sister's house for a while and they DO have the internet. So here's the certain-to-be-disappointing-after-waiting-so-long post.

Have you ever wanted something really badly (a shirt, a car, a house, a person, or just anything) and not received it? Well we obviously know the answer to that silly question is a resounding "YES!" It seems to me that when this situation occurs you always end up with something better in the end if you're working for God. His way is always superior to our ways because our ways are inevitably selfish. I'm thankful for the Lord saving me from many stupidity-ridden selfish decisions that didn't happen for this or that reason(s).

I've been so blissfully happy over the last eight or ten months and they've been some of the hardest in my life - or so it would seem on paper. Since I have resigned to doing things God's way only, I have an inexplicable peace. I'm content and satisfied with ANY situation even when it is the exact opposite of what I thought I wanted in the first place. God is so gracious, patient, and loving. I'm so happy to be privileged enough to be his hands and feet in this short life.

Monday, November 26, 2007


I love the innocence possessed by little children. Tonight as I was reading Kealani to sleep, she asked whether or not the cricket, mouse, and cat who are in the story knew it was Thanksgiving. How sweet is that?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I have a deep sense of fulfillment here of late. I have experienced things as a foster mother that I don't think I ever would have experienced in any other facet of my life. Just tonight, Kealani and I bought a peel off face rejuvenating mask. It was so fun putting it on our faces, watching her try to resist the urge to rub it off before it dried, seeing the battle that ensued with her face as a result of rubbing it too thin to be able to peel it off properly, then watching her giggle her head off as I viciously scrubbed at the residue she couldn't peel off. Hearing her utter over and over again that she hoped she wasn't going to pull her eyeballs out as she tore the "skin" off her face was just hilarious. She gets so excited about things…little, tiny things that would be almost meaningless to calloused adults, that I can hardly contain myself FOR her.

I have also had this sense of overwhelming joy at how kind natured so many people are. After the devastating loss of Jonathon, I was really down on mankind in general and feeling like things were so bleak and people so inherently evil that I almost couldn’t bear the emotional burden of it all. So many people have proven just the opposite to me in the last few days though.

It started Friday afternoon in the Dollar Tree when the lady in front of us was so sweetly smiling at the three girls I had with me and talking so kindly to them. She overheard them talking about the gummy eyeball candy by the checkout and heard us discussing them at length. She told the girls that she actually thought she needed some gummy eyeballs and added them to her slew of items. Once the cashier rung them up, she turned around to us, handed us the gummy eyeballs, and told us she knew we needed them and wanted to give them to us. That was so overwhelmingly kind, that I almost burst into tears at that moment. God used that lady to begin to restore my faith in mankind that day. That one simple act of buying a package of one dollar gummy eyeballs did me wonders and put a huge smile on the face of the girls to boot. Those eyeballs were the best gummy candies I’ve ever tasted. I’m pretty sure it had little to do with the actual taste.

A couple of days later, my real estate agent showed up at the school. She had some papers for me to sign. Over the last week and a half, I’ve thought that the deal on the house might be doomed to failure because of the results of the inspection. However, to ensure that the seller would pay the costs of the needed repairs, not only did my sweet real estate lady decide to sacrifice her share of the commission, but so did the seller’s agent (who, I might add, I have never even met). He heard about me and Kealani through our real estate lady. He wanted to help me have a place to better serve others and for Kealani to have the peace of mind that she associates with a house. What complete kindness! They have both put SO much time and effort into getting that house sold, and now they’re doing it out of the kindness of their hearts alone.

If that isn’t enough to restore your faith in mankind, yesterday, one of my fellow teachers heard about some eye problems Kealani has. The procedure (which so far isn’t covered by her medical insurance) could theoretically cost up to $10,000. The eye specialist estimates about $3,500. My fellow teacher knows a man who works for an eye doctor. He contacted the guy and told him about Kealani’s situation. He said that if they don’t take her insurance, even if he has to provide the treatment for her himself, they won’t charge us a penny. In addition to that, he agreed to find a way to get her glasses for free if we didn’t have a way to do that already. This man has never even MET me or Kealani.

WOW is all I can say to all of these things. God is good all the time…all the time God is good!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Jonathan Chandler

A very special big oaf of a teddy bear, Jonathan Chandler was one of my favorite assistants at school. He was the assistant in Kealani's classroom and always bent over backwards to communicate to me what she needed help with at home.

On a broader note, he was always confiding in me about his desires to be more like what God wanted him to be and asking me to pray for him. He was quick to pass out compliments and slow to accept them due to his humble nature. He could reprimand a child softly but nothing beyond that because he didn't want to break their spirits. When kids were shouting and carrying on nonsensically around him, he just spoke softly to them and tried to help them calm down and come to their senses.

A couple of days ago, Jonathan was shot and killed. I still don't really believe it happened. I've seen it on the news a few times and we've all talked about it umpteen times as well as shared our favorite goofy Jonathan memories, not to mention crying about it quite a bit. However, I still keep waiting for him to walk through the door of the teacher's workroom in his big loafers and striped button up shirt. Today as I attended some P.E. training that none of the other teachers wanted to come to (and I can't say I blame them) even though I was supposed to bring another person from school , I started thinking about why I hadn't asked Jonathan to come. I knew if I would have asked him personally, he would have come if he wasn't working at his other job. I forgot for a moment that I couldn't ask him to do things like that anymore because it doesn't feel like he's really gone.

Jonathan really wanted to help me coach basketball. He had volunteered after last year's season was over (right around the time he was hired) to coach this year. His circumstances were such though, that he was going to have to wait until next year. He had taken on a second job at McDonald's to be in better financial position. He was wanting to get his college degree and was working towards that goal by working to put himself in a better financial position. Mr. Chandler had his faults like all of us, but he worked so hard at trying to overcome the sins that were his particular vices. He wasn't opposed to asking for help and really epitomized how Christians should depend upon one another to be held accountable and to grow in their faith. He surrounded himself with people who would build him up and focused on trying to help others be built up as well.

I really hope they catch his killer, but more importantly I hope I (and others) grow from this as opposed to allowing this to weaken my (our) faith. Seeing how his closest friends in the faith are taking this, the pendulum is swinging away from the faith weakening to the faith building end of the spectrum. What a shame though that someone robbed those precious kids of a good, black male mentor, role model, and friend. I hope they will remember how JC turned his life around from the spiritual dumps of his teenage years into a Godly spiritual beacon of hope to all who have had such deep struggles such as the ones Jonathan fought with over the years.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Car Seat Races

This is what happens when you leave a couple of kids alone for a few minutes.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tony Hall, my beloved friend

One of my lifelong best friends passed away tonight. He fought valiantly for a little over two years until he finally received peace from his battle with brain cancer. Tony was 36 years old and had a second grade and three year old daughter. His sister has also been one of my best friends for years. I am happy he's gone home, but will miss him greatly until I join him there. Here is a letter I sent to his email address. In case, no one opens his email, I am posting this for others to read. He truly was an inspirational person.

I don't know if anybody will get this email now that Tony is gone. Just in case though, I wanted to share some of my thoughts and some of my favorite memories of Tony with whoever gets into his email if someone does.

The summer I met Tony more than casually was when he taught my grade in Bible class at Robert Paul's week. I was a sophomore at that time. I went to church all the time and read my Bible somewhat frequently. However, in that class Tony scrapped the material and got down to the nitty gritty so to speak. He opened my eyes to my lack of knowledge and faith and gave me a desire to nurture my relationship with my God. Because of this one session of camp this one summer through Tony's class my faith became my own and real and a priority in my life. It became more than politeness and niceties.

The next summer I got in cahoots with Tony and Tim Bills. They were trying to catch the "LuJo Mercenaries" who actually had the gall to steal stuffed animals out of the girls' dorms. Tony took me into his confidence and confessed that it was actually he and Tim who were taking the goods. I became their accomplice and smuggled many items out to them on the DL. The funniest part about it was that they left a note each time they stole something. The created an emblem which later that week or maybe even later that summer they found out was a devil-worshipping cult symbol. Oops! We had a good laugh about the fact that the key players in the church camp staff were using those symbols without a clue.

Another fond memory of Tony I have is the way he took Geoff Parker under his wing. Geoff was a mentally challenged young man who delighted many. Geoff was a central figure in our time at LuJo and made a huge impact on the lives of the campers as well as the staff. I'm so thankful to Tony for allowing Geoff to be a part of our special week.

I will never forget the way Tony would always pretend he heard girls to say their names were "Bertha" when he introduced himself to them. Some of them got a kick out of that (most of them) but some were just plum scared. Either way, eventually they all loved the "Bertha" joke.

I also remember knocking doors with Tony in St. Louis. He was always trying to bring out the strengths in everyone and knew just how to pair them up to do so. He paired me with someone knocking doors and although at first I didn't understand why he made the pair he did, when he explained it to me, I thought it was a genius pairing. I think that year on that amazing and lofty-goaled (yet supremely accomplished) mission trip, I really got to see the deeper sides of both Tony and Phillip. They were so human where as before they had been these almost unreal figures I held on a pedestal. I treasure that week so much and always have.

And oh the band Styx. Every time I hear them on the radio I think of the cassette tapes he brought on our trip to St. Louie. Kelly Woodcock was the only teenage boy who appreciated them or even knew who they were.

Later on when Tony became so ill, he called me one night to talk. In all his strife he wanted to know what was going on in my life. At the time, I had just lost one of my former students who was innocently killed in a gang shooting. I was really struggling though I didn't want to tell Tony because I knew he had his plate full with his own struggles. When I told him I didn't want to even say I had any problems because of what he and his family were going through, he lovingly reprimanded me and told me that everyone's problems are equally as burdensome to them, they just take different forms and he really wanted to hear what was going on with me. I told him through tear-stained eyes and knew that this could be one of the last talks I had with him like that. Although he fought hard and lived well beyond that talk leaving time for several more, that is one I will always hold dear to my heart.

If someone is reading this, please know that I loved Tony as much or more than anyone I can think of. I never had a brother in the secular sense, but Tony was that for me in so many ways. I am striving to be a strong Christian every day largely in part to his early influence on me. These memories I've shared are just the tip of the iceberg. I have numerous memories of talks in the director's cabin with he, Phillip, and the workers (and even Jennifer Curry back in the day), and in the director's office, and many other places in and outside of camp. My prayer now is that we will carry on his torch and strive to avoid dropping the ball on the works he held so dear and the things in which he was so gifted. I am happy he is at peace and has been called home and this provides me with a peace that really does pass understanding. I can't wait to meet him there soon!

Pressing on for the cause of Christ,

Friday, September 07, 2007

"Older Eyez"

So yesterday I got a message from a woman on MySpace asking me if I went to high school with her. She did indeed go to Big Mac, my alma mater, but she graduated in 76. When I replied that I did graduated from MacArthur but I was born after she graduated, she sent me a message back saying that it must be the "older eyez." Now she wasn't talking about her older eyes not seeing well (though one can hope that's applicable). She was referring to my eyes looking older than my age. Now tell me this, do I look 50 years old to anyone? I hope it has more to do with her mind than my eyes. I do have it listed to where it says I'm 57 on my MySpace page. Maybe that fooled her. However, I also have it listed that I'm 3'7" and that I'm a "midgik." No one has inquired about that yet.