Sunday, November 29, 2015

Our Military Families

Tonight we went to a Christmas light parade and we sat next to a beautiful, kind family. It was a mom and her kids, her parents and her brother and his family.

After a bit I heard the little girl yell out, "Daddy, Daddy." The woman looked over and waved and smiled.. But the man didn't head over to them as I expected, and then the woman explained that her husband was on duty as a police officer. Then I noticed the uniform.

As we talked, she told me how he was also in the military reserves. He has served for 13 years and been deployed 3 times. When I asked if it was possible for him to get shipped out again, she said yes and that they were just waiting for the call.

At that moment I couldn't help but thank her for her service as well as his.

I have always had a special spot in my heart for military personnel. Partially because my dad and both grandpas served.

Partially because I love my country.

But tonight, I really thought about their families. It is a huge act of service for a wife and mother to take care of everything while their husband/father, or father and husband while his wife/ mother is gone serving our country.
But they don't wear the uniform.

No one takes their picture while they sink exhausted to the floor, after caring for everyone, while their spouse is away.

No one salutes them.

No one walks up to them in the grocery store and says, "Thank you for your service."

Because rarely does anyone else know.

They just go about the day to day, holding down the fort on their own.

I realize that many of these families struggle during these long deployments. I have seen it tear apart more than one marriage. And I personally can't imagine what they sacrifice.

But looking at this adorable little girl and her cute brother and their mom tonight, I had new eyes.
We have a friend who is leaving soon for a year, and my heart aches for his family. He will miss holidays with them. He will miss inches grown, teeth straightened and hormones raging. Ok, he might not really miss the last one too much.

But he is sacrificing all those moments for my family and yours.

His family is also sacrificing for my family and yours.

His wife won't have his strength of leadership at home, she will be it.

She won't have that extra set of hands, or the other driver.

She won't have the late night support, or the shoulder to catch the tears.

Those kids won't be running to Daddy when he comes home each night.

They won't be measuring themselves against his shoulder to see if they are getting taller.

Those are huge sacrifices.

There are the Moms who leave their hubby and kids behind. I cannot imagine the pain for those women who don't get to hold their babies every night. Or who watch them grow on a computer screen. Or miss kissing the owwies.

And for all of that and so many that could never be listed I say to all of our military and their families, THANK YOU!!

I salute you.

I am humbled by your service.

I pray for you.

And I hope we will all reach out to do our part to help take care of you and your family the way we should while you are serving.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Masterpiece

One program that takes place at my kids' school is called Art Masterpiece. They have parent volunteers that bring in a print of different masterpieces once every two weeks. They allow the students to experience the art with some guidance and then leave the print for 2 weeks for the kids to look at in their own time, or allow the teacher to further the lesson. When I taught school I thought it was a great program and I was so excited to be able to volunteer as a parent.

But to be a parent volunteer you have to do the district training, which is actually pretty awesome. So for the past 3 weeks I have been going to the training and have learned so much.

Yesterday was the biggest light bulb moment for me. This woman was showing a piece with 2 children. She told us a bit about the artist and then pointed out some interesting things about the piece. She gave us the chance to point out things we noticed in the painting. After a few minutes of looking at it, noticing the lines and the colors she dropped the bomb. "I hate this painting. It drives me crazy."

I was kind of dumbfounded when she said that because I didn't really have strong feelings about it one way or the other, and I had had some strong feelings about other pieces. Some I loved, and some I thought were just paint that was screaming.

Then she pointed to some of the things she didn't like, which I hadn't really noticed until she pointed them out. I still didn't have any strong feelings about it, but I know I will never forget that picture.

The thing about art is, it's so personal. I may love a painting that someone else loathes and vice versa. What I see and appreciate may be based on how I am feeling the moment I see it, if I am in a hurry and don't take the time to really look, or if I really examine it. If I am up close or far away.

What I found for myself is that these are all masterpieces for whatever reason. Maybe it is the use of color, or line, or shape. Maybe it has to do with how that artist was the first to use a particular method, which paved the way for other artists.

One artist was self taught and the way he painted hands made them look disfigured. Another artist, in trying to make a point, made his subjects distorted. Some pictures were deceiving. For example the pointillism of Suerat. When you back up you can see the picture as your eye naturally blends the points of color together, and for me it feels peaceful. But when you are up close, it is a very different experience. You can clearly see individual splotches of color and the feeling, for me, is confusing.

People are like this. Each is a masterpiece and each is different and unique. Some you may love immediately, while others you dismiss quickly because they just don't interest you, or they are the opposite of what you are comfortable with.  There are brash colors and brash people. There are muted colors and muted people. Some you may just enjoy looking at, while others you want to take the time to get to know. You may see the value in greater depth when you know the background, the history, or the ideology of that person. Some you may not appreciate until you take a step back and look at them as a whole picture. And some you may dismiss because spending time with them just isn't enjoyable.

Whatever the reason, they are all masterpieces and someone may find joy and satisfaction in the very piece that someone else finds distasteful.

Ultimately, you may realize that each is a masterpiece by the same Artist. And each is different, unique, and valuable.

What if we could think of everyone around us as a masterpiece? 

What if we could step back from what we think is a mess and ask what the Artist was trying to do or say?
Is this person about giving service, or giving others a chance to serve, is that one about extreme intelligence and that one of little intelligence but great heart?

I learned looking at the art, that although much of it wasn't "my style" so to speak, that by taking time to really look at it and consider it I could at least appreciate what the artist was trying to do.

Something I need to do more with the people I come in contact with.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Several years ago, I was unpacking some boxes from yet another move, when I came across some papers from college when I was working on my Master's.

I had a binder that had thoughts on leadership in a compare/contrast style to a poem our class had read. I remembered that in class we had to write our response, make copies to share with our group, and turn in together. So I started reading and as I did my brain started to ache. 

This was a depth headache. The kind you get when you have to read something a few times in order to really comprehend it.

When I got done reading it, I remember thinking it was quite brilliant and wondering who wrote it.

So I flipped back to the front and there it was, my name! Then I read a few other responses from class mates and realized we were a pretty smart group.

But what gets me is that I can't even think that way right now in my life!

I started hoping then that those brain cells will return and that some old synapses might be able to fire again someday.

I realize that might be wishful thinking. Maybe my brains have totally turned to peanut butter. No wonder my junior high son often shakes his head when I am trying to make a point. Is it lost forever?

I hope not.

I would like to think that one day, when I am not getting woken up in the middle of the night regularly for nightmares, bloody noses, or bathroom breaks, that I might be able to think again.

Think clearly and deeply.

But if that isn't the case, I am hanging on to those college papers in hopes of giving my boys something to read that causes a deep thinking headache.

Most likely they will get a headache trying to think of a way to let me down gently that I'm not as smart as I thought I was.