This is My Crowd

This is My Crowd
Picture by: Photography by Vicky Campos

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Girl

So, I knew this girl, she was 18 or 19 when I met her, dark and brooding, like so many young people today.  She had black hair and brown roots.  She wore black clothes; t-shirts that said confrontational things and fishnet stockings; heavy black eyeliner and combat boots; you know the type.  She appeared angry from the inside out, but upon closer inspection, I quickly realized she was filled with fear.  She was the typical antisocial, scary-music-listening, depressed-poetry-writing, metal-lunchbox-carrying, misunderstood young adult.  I use the word adult loosely.  Admittedly, she worked full time and lived with her boyfriend, but her immaturity always seemed to seep through her facade.

Despite what her angsty adornment would insinuate about her childhood, she actually grew up in a Christ centered household, Bible thumping, Holy Roller types, if you will.  I was surprised to find out that she was saved when she was young, so young she couldn't quite tell me when it happened.  She told me how she witnessed people get up out of wheel chairs, people praying and speaking in tongues, people healed of cancer instantly, people slain in the spirit, financial miracles time after time, among so many other mind blowing incidents.  In junior high and part of high school she was eager to be involved in her youth group.  She was a Jesus loving, pro-abstinence, pro-life evangelical.  She didn't just go to weekly youth services, where they baby-sat teens on Sundays so their parents could attend "real" service, she attended retreats and worked on mission trips.  If I asked her if she believed in God, through all that repelling exterior, she would always say yes without hesitation, but she never wanted to discuss it further.  In my mind, she was the perfect picture of the prodigal son in the midst of all his "fun".

I met her parents briefly during the few years that I knew her.  They seemed very pleasant and genuine to me, but she insisted the only thing they ever talked about was God, or Jesus, or church.  That always made me laugh.  I never understood why it annoyed her so much, but again, she never wanted to discuss it in depth.  One of the things I do remember is that she would tell me that every time she spoke with her mom, her mom would inevitably ask her how her relationship with God was.  It seemed a valid question to me, but it irritated her deeply. 

She was so insecure about so many things.  One thing that was different about her was how her insecurity manifested.  Alot of young girls dress sexually provocative to be attractive, but she tended to wear clothes that were loose fitting and boyish.  She was pretty though.  Not the kind of pretty that silenced a room, but the kind that grew more apparent over time.  Her rejectionist approach to life was actually kind of annoying, but once you pushed passed all of her defenses, she was pretty smart and surprisingly funny.  You just had to make it beyond her standoff-ish demeanor and her "I don't know you, but I already don't like you" once-over glance she gave everyone.  Even though she partied, she never really seemed to enjoy it as much as she said she did.  She drank too much from time to time, smoked weed and may have even tried a more illicit drug; though she would never be specific, I always suspected she tried a hallucinogen or two.  We were so different!  To this day, I don't know how we became acquaintances, perhaps we were friends, it was hard to tell with her. 

She was quite a character, so confused, so divided, so unsure of who she was and where she fit in.  I don't know why I thought of her today, but it happens every now and again.  Though our relationship was shorty-lived, I'll never forget her and how she influenced where I am today.  In spite of her and her "Beware of God" attitude, she managed to show me that no matter where you find yourself, God is always near.  I will leave you with this, my recollected interpretation of a story she once told me: 

"Each day, after work, I always take a shower or a bath.  Yes, I bath twice a day, don't judge.  On one particularly bad day, though every day was kind of a bad day, I decided to take a shower to relax.  Nothing special.  My boyfriend wasn't home yet, like most days, and I was alone in the apartment.  Don't worry, nothing scary happened.  Anyways, I was just standing under the extra hot water, letting it run over the top of my head.  I was facing the shower nozzle and had my eyes closed.  The running water barely covered the surface of the overwhelming silence I felt in the surrounding bathroom, apartment, complex, city, state and world around me.  I felt incredibly alone in that moment.  Now, I believe in God, but it had been a while since I prayed or went to church and as lonely as I had ever felt on any day leading up to that day or following that day, on this day, I suddenly felt not alone.  Not in a creepy way either, if that's what you're thinking.  On this day, I felt like God, or someone, was telling me that I wasn't alone and that He would always be there for me when I decided to turn around.  In that moment, I was reassured and terrified.  I know it sounds crazy, but it happened.  What do you do with that?  I didn't know what to do with that, so I just waited until the moment passed and I felt alone again and I could finish my day.  Crazy, huh?"

Now, you might think that story is crazy or that the girl is crazy, but I don't.  I think had she just turned around at that moment, her whole life could have been different.  It is my hope, no, my belief that this girl eventually did turn around.  I think when she did, she found a whole new world filled with love and joy and beauty.  I know she did.             


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Best of...

Last week, it was recommended to me that my blogs be more opinion based.  Which is funny, due to the fact that I had always felt my blogs were too much about my opinion and I've intentionally tried to steer away from that.  In light of this request, I've chosen to do a sum-up kind of blog, in which I simply list my Top 10 Opinions of All Time!  Kind of like a "best of" compilation of opinions.

10.  The person we elect to hold the position and title of the President of the United States of America is not nearly as important and world changing as we hope it will be.   

9.  Government funded assistance cannot rid this world of poverty.  See Opinions 7 & 6 below for more thoughts.

8.  Littering/ Vandalism/ Petty Larceny is more costly than you think, I know this because I review the invoices.

7.  Helping people is good. 

6.  People should be more generous with their time, talent and treasure... and maybe even in that order.

5.  Abortion is bad.

4.  Even ONE abused, neglected, malnourished, unloved, abandoned or murdered child in this entire world is one too many!  Man, are we missing the mark on this one.  Refer to Opinion 5, 6 & 7 above.

3.  Forgiveness is a must, mostly for our own peace of mind and happiness.

2.  The Bible is true, you should check it out.

1.  There is a God and He is Good.  He is available for introductions, if you haven't met Him yet. 

I, of course, have plenty more where those came from, which you are welcome to request at any time.  If you disagree with any of these opinions, that's ok, it doesn't bother me at all.  I promise on Thursday, I will covertly weave my opinion in with the subtext and feel good emotion of the day. 

If you would like to jump on Opinion No. 6, I can prepare some recommendations! 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Smorgybord Saturday: Choices

So today is the day where the boys are separated from the men and we see who posts something creative on Saturday and who doesn't.  The blogging challenge ends each week with Smorgyboard Saturday, where you can write whatever you want, but it must be creative in nature.  Poetry, short story, etc.  Here's mine:

One man faced with a choice; cave to the curiosity and deep desire filling his mind or continue doing what he'd always known was right.  He'd never done anything like this before, but if he were honest, he'd imagined it dozens of times.  He knew it was wrong, but the sheer thought of it electrified the air around him.  She had come to him with the proposition; something so simple and natural.  As she touched his arm, the voices in his mind cleared and before he could tell her "No," it was already done.  

One man faced with a choice; cave to the fear spilling from every pore and the deep desire to run that echoed in his mind, or stay and do what he had always known was right.  As difficult as his life had been to now, he knew that continuing down this path would be unlike anything he'd ever known.  He'd imagined it dozens of times and now that he'd found himself at the true point of beginning, he cried out for another option. There was none.  They had come to him without proposition and took him away to be judged. From there, each moment of pain and ridicule was a choice to remain.  Each step a choice of selfless love, holding still to accept a punishment that was not his to take.  As he was raised up, he could see the resulting glory and in that moment he was separated and alone, it was already done.

I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.  Deut. 30:19  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Going Back to Kindergarten

Today, I sat in the back of a kindergarten classroom filled with small people and big anticipation.  25 boys and girls, plus 12 or so parents, were waiting for the teacher to give the command to load ‘em up and head ‘em out!  The parents were relegated to the back of the classroom and given mundane tasks to keep them occupied, myself included, while the children sat on the typical kindergarten alphabet rug located at the front of the room.  I found myself sorting homework into conveniently alphabetized bins and going from kindergarten classroom to kindergarten classroom to take headcounts.  Hey, at least it killed 45 minutes of otherwise Android App Facebook wait time.  The children, on the other hand, sat on their rug and sang rhymes and were read to.  Since we were going to Storyland at Roeding Park, it was appropriate that the story for the morning was Little Red Riding Hood.  As the teacher read through the story with much animation in her face and voice, I realized that I wasn’t sure how the version of the story I had always heard would play out in front of a crowd of 4-6 year olds by way of detailed illustration.  Fortunately, there was a kind group of forest creatures, that strung up the wolf in a barn, which caused Red and her G-ma to simply slip out of his gullet.  The final pages were then filled with the wolf’s shame and accompanying mockery by the other forest creatures.
Prior to the teacher reading the story, I watched as my youngest son, Domenic, sat at the front of the classroom flanked on all three sides by cute little giggly girls, trying as best he could to pay attention.  I had to give him the “Mom Stare” a couple of times, but overall he did well.  What I saw next was pretty cool.  I hadn’t even noticed, actually no one had noticed, but the girl to his left had her head down on her knees.  The thing that had caught my attention was his leaning over to her and softly whispering “Are you crying?” He never brought it to anyone’s attention, but he did seem to cheer her up with whatever he said.  Granted she’s one of his little buddies, but, it was really sweet. 

In speaking to various Mom’s of his friends over the past few years, I’ve noticed that many of them say that their child speaks of Domenic often.  It always surprises me, because he talks of only a few kids often, and some parents have actually used the term “Best Friends” or some other form of the term.  I’m sure you think that I’m bragging, and I suppose that I kind of am, but my point is that I love that my son makes people feel important.  I believe he really tries to be friends with everyone!  Sure, he has some buddies that are his “Best Friends”, but his little life is already impacting others, even if they’re just his classmates.

In a world filled with people who openly dislike other people or who don’t have the time to meet people, I believe that we can take our cue from kids like Domenic.  We should have the ability to notice others in need and help, to make the people around us feel important and that we care for them, and not just make them feel important, but treat them in such a way that they know they are important to us.  I’m trying to make that adjustment in my life.  The truth is that as a Christian, I am called to not just be kind or tolerant of others, but to love them.  I can’t do that if I am so wrapped up in my life that I’m not connecting to those around me on a regular basis… and not just on Facebook or Twitter or Google+.

My challenge to you and myself is to find new ways to show the people around us, whether or not we know them or even like them, that we care for them and that they are important.  What are your thoughts?  Are you already doing this?  Share, share, share!!!

Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God's promises because of their faith and endurance. Hebrews 6:11

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What is 67.5" Long, Tweets and is Under the Gun?

If you answered "ME!" you would be INcorrect... because it's ME!  Eh-chem.  That was supposed to be a joke, because if you said me you would be referring to you, but if I said me... nevermind, you get it.


Ok, so I am referring to me!  I am excited because I have made a pact, via email not blood, with a good friend that we would both take our writing more seriously, post more regularly and promote one another (so check out his blog too!).  In addition to being excited, I am also terrified.  As the understanding of our agreement spread over me and sank deep into the fibers of my being, I immediately wondered if I would even have enough to say for 3 blogs a week.  Would my vocabulary sputter out at week 2?  Would my anecdotes and witty word plays begin to bore my readership (which is made of only friends and family, so that better not happen)? 


Two devil's-advocate-type questions surfaced. 

Question 1: Am I writing to impress people or to express a talent I believe God has given me? 
My Response: Interesting question. 

Question 2: If writing is, in fact, a God given talent, then what will happen to it if I bury it and it remains unused? 
My Response: Hmmmm, ok, challenging question. 

Both good and valid questions.  So, here I am, hoping that this pact will positively impact my future and the dreams that I have somewhere in my heart.  I say somewhere, because over the past few years I have been confronted on numerous occasions with the fact that I have lost them, my dreams, that is.  This is an effort to uncover at least one and, who knows, perhaps more will be revealed in the process.


Have you asked yourself these questions lately or ever?  Though your talent may not be writing and your dream may not be sharing your thoughts and ideas with the world, you have, inside of you, talents and dreams that need to be discovered and expressed!  If you haven't dreamed lately, I challenge you, as a wise man once said, to dream again

Do you find yourself questioning whether you even have a talent or dream?  You do!  It's there, I promise!  What are your dreams and/or talents that have been buried underneath the necessary, yet sometimes grinding, routines of life?  The challenge has been submitted, how will you respond?  The first step is telling someone, so please post a comment on your dreams or talents that you have been neglecting.


Monday, September 19, 2011

My Last and First Kiss

The other night as I was putting my boys to bed, which I do every night, we said our prayers and performed the obligatory tucking-in.  I usually do something sweet or annoying, by example, during the prayer I brush each boys cheek with my hand as I say their name during the prayer... or flick them in the forehead.  You just never know what you're gonna get with me.  So, there I was, saying prayers and flicking foreheads, walking from bed to bed, when I paused to look my oldest son square in the face , who, by the way, gets the benefit of being the oldest as evidenced by top bunk.  The pause lingered as I stared into his sweet face and I realized that he would never be 9 again, since his birthday was the following day.  I know.  Not a real "revelation", but it kind of was for me.  In response to that, I smothered him with smooches, reminding him that this was my last chance before he turned 10.  It's odd being a parent.  Most parents I know are either sinking in frustration and confusion or are so together there is no room for commiseration.  I find myself in the middle.  I'm not overwhelmed with parenthood, nor am I so confident in my ability that I never question my decisions, but I like to think that I do alright.  It is moments like these that I realize how quickly time passes, which I know is something that every person over the age of 28 will tell you, but it is nonetheless true. 

On the morning of his big double digit birthday, I made sure that I was the first to get his 10 year old kisses, though in our family (3 boys and 1 baby girl), I didn't exactly have to beat anyone to get to the front of the line.  As Jacob (you can read more about him here) grows and matures, the innocence and eagerness in his face will continue to fade and eventually, he will become a man.  I will no longer have the opportunity to tuck him in or flick his forehead (well, perhaps flicking will still be a viable option), I will no longer be the person stealing the last and first kisses of his birthday; my role will become a part of the foundation upon which his life was built; still important, significantly less visible, which is bittersweet, since I definitely desire that he be moved out at a reasonable age (18-22) and eventually be married and begin a family of his own.  But it's like anything else in this life... fleeting.  Eventually, his cheeks will be stubbled and I will (hopefully) have to reach it by standing on my tippy toes to place a simple discreet, motherly kiss.  So, while I can, I will steal first kisses and smother all of my children with the last smooches for each age, even as they giggle and try to push me away playfully. 

Jacob Around 1 Year

Jacob on his 10th Birthday

As a parent, what do you cherish most about birthdays?  Do you have any traditions?  Feel free to share!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I Am Not Runner

Today I was driving home from a fun and filling (by way of chile verde and enchiladas) baby shower for a sweet friend of mine who is having a baby girl!  It was peaceful and warm.  Fortunately, they had a giant tree that provided a lot of shade, which made the "warm" and muggy day bearable, to the point of pleasant.  In any case, as I was driving home, I saw a gal running.  It was 2 o'clock, undoubtedly one of the warmer parts of the day and she was running!  At first I thought she was perhaps a show off, but I realized with a second look that she looked like a pretty serious runner.  She wasn't wearing anything flashy, no gaudy makeup, hair was pulled back in a simple ponytail; it was clear that she was running for... you guessed it, exercise!  The idea that she was running in this suffocating, humid, ninety-something degree weather for exercise was actually more shocking to me, since I, myself, am not a runner.

I don't know what that kind of dedication to running feels like.  I THINK about running more than just a quick sprint across a parking lot and my lungs begin to hurt and my head starts to spin.  No joke!  Just typing those words has exhausted me!  In any case, it got me thinking about what kind of person would be so serious about running so as to do it under these grueling conditions.  Immediately my mind filled with the word RUNNER.  Hmmmm... it seemed like a simple answer, but was it really?  To give that woman the title of Runner, would mean that there would be others that lacked that title.  I started to wonder why she wouldn't choose to run on a treadmill in the air conditioned, T.V. infused environment of a gym, there's a pretty nice one nearby.  A thought began to build and become more clear, if she was unwilling to run in the rain or the heat or the humidity, she would NOT be a Runner.  Interesting.  I don't know what the word is for people that only run on a treadmill or occasionally outside when the weather is ideal, but it is not Runner.  

What is the point of this interesting topic?  Well, I began to consider what this meant for me.  Now, I'm DEFINITELY NOT a Runner, so that's not where I'm going with it.  What I began to consider is that if I exercise my faith only in the air conditioned, worship music infused environment of my church, perhaps I am not a Person of Faith.  I must be willing to walk in Faith when the conditions are miserable and ideal.  Otherwise, I may just be one of those girls that goes to the gym with a face full of makeup and cute work out clothes that simply walks on the treadmill for twenty minutes to have the appearance of something that she is not.  Hmmmm.... I guess I have to do some evaluating.