Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Even in the MESS, God is aware and there.........

So, yesterday after kids got off to school and I fed the baby, I turned on my office computer and TV ready to settle in and get a little bit accomplished for work.  I just happened to hear the tail end of a news story about a boy named Asher Brown....I knew about him because last year, after relentless bullying, this 13 year old took from the Houston area, took his own life.  His story was part of the reason I had added the topic of bullying to my childcare training workshops. Not having heard the whole news piece, I went to the news stations website to look at it.  I clicked on the first link which took me to an article from just after he killed himself and I learned that what he had endured looks like exactly what happened to my son.  I felt sick.  Now, the reason his parents were on the news yesterday was because a state rep from Ft. Worth had put together an anti-bullying bill in Asher's name and sent it to Austin.  I immediately researched and found this reps email and sent him a short version of our ("B"'s) story.  What would transpire at the end of the day with "B" was not even a thought in my mind.

Cut to 9:00 last night and "B" had been irritable and a little negative all evening but as we walked away from his sisters softball game he asks me if depression was the same as suicidal.  This then led to another conversation about how he's doing / feeling about life's stuff.....answer in short - NOT WELL.  He shared that he is alone, mad, feels like he hates people, doesn't understand why these kids had to do what they did to him, and has thought of killing himself several times with the most recent being just in the past few days.  My heart sank, and we cried.  He told me that he has even thought about how he would do it.  I felt terrified.  I don't want to fall short when he needs me most and had no idea of what to do other than talk with him.  We checked on him several times last night as he slept....he rested well.

Today I set up counseling with our children's pastor at church as well as a counselor we have used for him since this ordeal began.  I also pulled him out of school and will begin the homeschool journey until summer.  My goal is to get him out of the environment that is literally killing him so that he can heal and be ready to go back to school in 8th grade.  He seems more peaceful today and in his words "feels a little more stable".  Prayer is key but it doesn't mean do nothing but pray.  Prayer will open the door for God to provide us with a path for healing.  It will involve continued faith and prayer but also guidance on getting help in other ways, such as counseling, homeschool etc..   In time, prayer will be answered and the steps we have taken if we listen to God will wash the memories of this horrible time away.  I am confident and sure of this.

Take away - in our talk last night I assured him that God is with him and will give him just enough strength to endure.  I told him God has plans to use this for "B"'s glory and that he's allowing him to go through it because he knows "B" is strong enough to come through and  help others.  I asked him not to short change God on the time he needs to do this.  I also told him that God has him covered with eveything he needs and in the time he needs it.  That it was okay to be angry and HATE the boys that did this and through his tears he looked at me and said "is it really okay to hate them"?  You see he's always loved people, would do anything for anyone just to be kind.  Feeling HATE is not who he is and he knows God doesn't want him to have hate in his heart.  I needed him to know that he can "feel" like he hates these boys because God's over him, covering him with everything he needs and that when the time is right, HATE will turn to forgiveness but that anger is a GOOD step in the healing process, he just has to address his emotions in the right way.

So, the road gets longer....I my child, cannot yet see the end but am THANKFUL that today, my sweet, sweet boy is not looking to end it..  Today's song..... STRONGER, by it!  

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday AGAIN???

Well, another start to a week has come and so much to get done this week!  Took time today to talk with "B".  He has confided in me that he just feels "empty" and "angry" lately and it's apparent that as time goes on, so does the pain of dealing with being the kid that the STUFF happened to.  I hurt for him and long for the day that this is all a distant memory.....LORD, I ask you to bring that day to him soon.  To wipe his memory of any tiny thought he may have that somehow this was HIS fault.  Fill his spirit again so that I can see him shine......I miss that.  Our talk today was mostly ME talking and Brenton crying.  He told me that NO-one likes him.  He just feels alone.  I reminded him of how happy his little world was BEFORE the trauma of the weeks of bully and assault.  You see, these boys have stolen everything from my child.  They stole his confidence, his hope, his peace.  He was happy with his few close friends and cared very little about the opinion of others.  He was a self proclaimed mamma's boy and proud of it.  He found JOY in his art, in reading and loved to go to school....just to see his few good friends.  In recent weeks, he's found no real joy in any of that.

I wonder how a child deals with the stress of life when they don't confide in their parents or they don't have a parent that wants to listen???  Tonight a song comes to mind........ You Are More by Tenth Avenue North.  Take a listen and be reminded to listen to your loved is so busy and crazy for all of us, time flies by and in a flash we miss opportunities to support, nurture and love........

Monday, February 28, 2011

Hello Monday!

Well, well....another BUSY week has flown by and I realize how quickly life passes as we age.  I remember when a summer day as a kid could go on for what seemed like forever, yet somehow now I find myself moving faster and faster to get things done before sunset.  Case in point: Up by 5:45 to rush and get myself and the kids ready to head back out for a day of baseball. (I wore a time to really get ready)  After 2 long baseball games, we headed back home and I hit the yard.  I worked fast and hard, until I had cuts on my fingers and a horrible blister and still didn't get it all done.  As the sun was going down, I was literally running with the wheelbarrow full of mulch trying to fill the flower beds!  I will say though that I slept great and woke up with sore muscles!  Day 2 of that same torture will begin shortly.........maybe today I can get finished!

I am happy for normal days.  Two of my boys washed the suburban and my daughter washed (and waxed) her brothers car....she did AWESOME!  Everyone is healthy today and happy.  My "B" seems to still be growing stronger in the aftermath of the mess he went through and I am thankful God has given me a BIG mouth.!  It has cursed me much of my life and still, on occasion I somehow still find it to be my nemesis but for the most part GOD has shown me how to use my voice as a gift rather than a curse.  NEVER would have imagined that.

I think that is an example of exactly how God will take what we think is wrong and make it right.  By "right" I mean just what he needs us to be.  As a younger person I was very, very insecure.  I can remember in 7th grade, I had put off giving my science project for as long as possible and it was time to present.  I literally blacked out.  The anxiety took over and I almost got sick.  Move ahead to high school and I was the funny girl.  Not on purpose but it was the only way I could speak out without feeling like I was being looked at or judged by my was a way to fit in.  Inside though, I never felt like I just fit in.  This was probably how many or most teens feel at that age but honestly, I thought it was only me.  Flash forward to today....I speak with purpose, for a living!  What an amazing turn of events in my life that God would allow me to stand and share with others so that they might learn, be motivated, encouraged, inspired by my words.  Sometimes this STILL leaves me speechless....okay not really, but I am still amazed! (and so thankful)

Having the courage to recall and embrace my own "stuff" has allowed my to me to be a better mother.  To see things that my children need from me and to find ways to help them through their "stuff".  I hope in years to come, "B" will be able to look back on this time and see it as a source of strength for him.  See it as something God allowed him to go through in order to build him up for the gifts he has for his life.  I look forward to living out those days as a proud momma for "B" and my other four children.  These challenges shall not stop us from seeing that God is our blanket of protection.  He will not put you in a place that he cannot deliver you from.  AND... I stand firm in the belief that as you are delivered from your messes in life, you are stronger and more beautiful that ever.  I have posted another song that clouds my vision with tears of joy.   Click to listen!

Have a blessing filled day, look for the ways God has used your mess to make you stronger and thank him today.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Great Weekend!

Ahhh....back to baseball tournaments!  Our second to the oldest is our sports guy and so this past weekend took us back out to the ballpark after a short winter break.  Weather was beautiful...aside from the CRAZY wind.  He played well, and it was nice to have family time supporting him and his team.  My youngest son.... (I will call him "B" going forward so that you are able to distinguish him as the one this blog is centered around) seemed to enjoy this back to routine weekend as well...thankful. 

Saturday was also my birthday and while normal is a good thing, getting older (and technology) has sure taken some of the joy out of birthdays!  Getting texts from family is honestly okay, but when there is no actual voice saying "I love you, how was your day"...... kind of sad.   My 10 year old daughter went through our yard and picked a sweet little arrangements of flowers....loved that, and we took the kids to Saltgrass Steakhouse so that I could have some tortilla soup.... they really have yummy tortilla soup!  All in all, a nice birthday that went under the radar for the most part!  If only that year of aging on my face went under the radar too......   :)

I kind of had a revelation of sorts in my moments of quiet thought this weekend.  I realize that while people can be touched, moved, saddened or angered by our story or any other issue that they hear or read about that is unjust and unfair, everyone is busy just trying to make it in their own little world.  For many, finding the time to even click the link and start to read is just not going to happen.  As a mother of 5, I can totally relate to being too busy but my moment of clarity was thisThat is exactly the reason that change doesn't happen.  Someone can care about your story, but unless they or one of their children are going through the very same thing, there is no extra time to focus on it, even if they really wish they could.

My prayer is that the candid words shared on this blog will touch someone....urge someone.....pull on them to move toward change.  If you have children of your own in this age range, if you have children that will be coming into this age range, this topic is so important.  Change for everyone can be different.  For one it could simply be asking their child each day how their day was and making sure to listen to what their child says.  For another it could mean learning what their district discipline policies are so that they are aware of just how important this topic is.  And for yet another, it could mean realizing that it is their child that is the bully and taking steps to address it.  As we live through this ordeal...helping my son, I pray God will provide me with a bigger platform for advocacy for children in this area, but I also pray that this blog will encourage others to focus on this issue.

Last night, "B" prayed over our meal before one part, he simply asked God to let them all have a great day at school.  I hope this is a blessing filled day for him - God is Good.  :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

SONG Posted..........Listen!

Today I posted one of the songs that makes me very emotional.  It really speaks to me about lots of things in life but hits home with my son.  He seems to be on an upswing here lately which has been a blessing and I'm certain is the result of all the prayer that has covered him.  I am thankful to all that are checking out this blog page and just ask you to pass the link along to anyone that might care to hear our story.  As much healing that this will surely bring about for me, my goal is to give a CLEAR, honest picture of the depth this type of abuse has in the life of the victim and also the ones that love them.  Thank you for opening your heart and soaking some of this in. -

Listening to the words of the song posted...Josh Wilson, Before the Morning, I am reminded of how the good comes.  The bad happens, but walking in faith makes us stronger, wiser, and sometimes GIFTED to do good for God restores the good places in us.  My son confided in me on two occasions during the heat of this ordeal, that he had actually thought of killing himself.  He said he only thought of it for a brief moment and could never do it but he knew that was one way it could just STOP.  It breaks my heart to know that with all the love and support around him, he still had moments of complete hopelessness that he didn't know how to break free from.  Now, in the weeks after all of this, I think of all the children that don't have the support of their family and friends.  Suicide as a result of bullying is a REAL and serious risk for today's children.  I pray that somehow, the level of candid truth in our son's struggle, will help someone, in some way.  That is my prayer for today -   Please CLICK on the YouTube link at the top and listen to the song posted.  Have a GREAT day!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

So, last night on the way to church my son (not knowing I had started this blog journal) said to me "I want to do something to help".  He said that he knows there are kids everywhere that have had or are having the same kinds of things happen to them and maybe they can't talk like he can now, or don't feel like they have the support.  He said.... "I mean, I think I can help".  WOW!  I then shared with him how just that day, I had started a page on the internet and that maybe he could have his own.  I think when we have our eyes open...really open, it's SO easy to see all the places God tucks himself into.  Weaving together moment by moment and how when we really think WE have come up with great ideas, he's gently tapping us on the shoulder as if to say "ummm....I think I had a little something to do with that".   I agree - thank you father.

To illustrate the point, as days go by, I will be sharing with you what I call blessings from the bad stuff.  As I travel across Texas hosting training workshops for childcare providers / early childhood educators, I share my son's story.  One of our training topics this year is Bullying.  We talk about how important it is that children have strong boundaries and structure set in place to help them grow and learn how to socialize with one another, and how having parents and educators on the same page when children are young really has the power to influence their social interactions long term.  By working together to set boundaries, mediate during play and also build up a child's self esteem, we can actually reduce the risk of some level of bullying.  But if we don't, children grow older and the type of bullying my son endured becomes a real risk for kids in school. 

Blessing from the Bad Stuff:

So, a few weeks ago in Austin, I held a training workshop with about 40 in attendance.  In childcare, men are far outnumbered by women and if they do work in the field, they are often the owner of the facility, acting as a director or they provide care for after-schoolers.  There are a few that teach, just not near as many as women.  This particular day there was a man in attendance.  He looked fairly young....mid 20's maybe and while he payed attention and seemed interested through much of the training, as I got closer to the end of our time (when I talk about bullying)  I remember thinking to myself  "you can totally tell this guy is watching the clock and ready to go".  Shortly after, I finished speaking and most everyone raced to the parking lot.  Of the few that stayed behind to talk, this man was one of them.  He patiently waited until everyone left to tell me that he wanted me to tell my son to just hang in there, that it WILL get better.  He shared with me the things that had happened to him (JUST AS HORRIBLE) and how when he got to high school, it got better.  I was so thankful for his words of encouragement and as he walked out of the room several things occurred to me.....

1. My son's story was able to give this man the courage to share his own.
2. His story would surely give my son hope and make him feel like people really care.
3. This man, could have grown up to HATE children because of the things that happened to him but instead, he has a heart for them and works as a teacher in an early childhood school setting.

3 great examples of how God can use the bad stuff for good.........and I could have missed it.  Had I been in too big of a hurry to pack up and run off, or just too busy to really listen.  It is very exciting to know that with all the bad / ugly / nasty things that happen in this world, that while God can't protect us from them in the way we would know, like NOT let it happen...... Even still, he's got us covered.  Now, that's a blessing! 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"The Story"

Feb. 16, 2011

As a mother of 5, life has presented many challenges in the parenting arena over the years, but few have come close to the story behind this blog.  My hope / goal / dream would be that these words would provide some hope, peace, awareness and comfort to other parents that do their best to fight for their children.  For what is best for them because after all, that is exactly what they deserve....OUR best.   Perfect?  Me?  NO!!  Not in any area of my life but I will say this, each day I work hard to do my best and hopefully this blog will be a testimony of that.  As an early childhood educator / trainer, I have been speaking about the topic of bullying and have shared my son's story....through tears, every week.  It is amazing that even in the mess of what my son has been through, GOD uses it all for good.  Every time I share his story, others are moved to tears and without fail, his story brings new stories, from others that feel called to share.  The pain my son has gone through has been a gift in some ways.  It has given courage to others to share their story and find their own peace.  It is bringing awareness to some that have chosen not to see.  I look forward to sharing the good "stuff" in the coming weeks, but first, how did we even get here????

So, where to start?  I guess the beginning....only MY beginning is not the same as my child's.  You see for me, it all started one Tuesday evening at a football game, as I pushed my littlest one in her stroller, supervised two of my other children and did my best to watch yet another of my children play football.  In all of this normal madness that is my life, my world seemed to stop as my youngest son began to cry and share his story.

I was not prepared for what I was about to hear and the more he spoke, giving the details of what had been happening to him, I found myself feeling anger, anxiety and an overwhelming sadness.  How, as a mother that works hard to know....really KNOW my children, each as unique and wonderful, did I not know what was happening to him?   As a mom, my purpose is to love, teach, nurture and protect them.....I felt like somehow I had failed him.

So what happened to him?  Surely, at this point, you would like to know it goes.  I have decided to be as graphic as necessary to give an accurate portrayal of what my son has endured. (you have officially been warned) 

My son....a 7th grade, AVERAGE kid who dresses, acts, and looks no different than most every child in his Junior High, was chosen as the target of relentless bullying that quickly escalated to what by law is defined as sexual assault.  About 3 weeks into the school year, on almost a daily basis in his PE class, he was a victim.  Not a peer, not a student, not a KID just trying to get changed in the locker room so that he could get to his next class.  NOPE, he was a victim.  This particular PE class was primarily 8th grade students with only my son and 3 other 7th graders.  By nature, picking on and teasing from older to younger children is common, but this group of boys took on a pack mentality as they humiliated my child for weeks before he finally broke his silence and told.

Initially, he was being taunted, called gay slurs, would have his locker slammed on him or personal belongings stolen, but this quickly turned into something even worse.  These boys....some days one or two, some days many of them, would hold him down while another would rub their "private" areas on his face and say vile, disgusting things.  He has also been held down, kicked and spit on.  The shame of WHY was he chosen?  The fear of what else could happen, kept him from telling.  When he finally opened up, he seemed free again with the weight lifted.  This was only temporary however as we quickly realized you can't just "get over" something like this.  It has changed him....forever.

After many trips to the school, who by the way does not dispute what happened or the gravity of the situation, STILL only sent 2 boys to ISS (in school suspension) for 3 days....we were told because my son could not name anyone else, they could not punish them.  WOW!  Really?  At that time, my primary focus was for my son to feel safe in school so as a result, they moved him from this class.  To this day, my stomach is still sick when I think of what little action was taken.  How can we expect better?  How can we expect change if we don't hold others accountable?  I realize now that change is in order and I will do all I can to be an advocate for such change, praying God opens doors for me to use what's happened for good.  For a bigger purpose.   Maybe this blog is one of those doors........stay tuned.