Sunday, May 8, 2011

Limp Love

Beautiful day today - couldn't help but think about the many things to celebrate concerning my little family as Nat and I sat on the dock, enjoying the breeze, waiting for a seat at one of our favorite places in FL. The buzzer went off and up we went to our table overlooking the water- absolutely perfect!!! Nat just looked at me and said, "I'm so happy!" I could see it all over her face. Made me feel great. A content and joyful momma on Mather's Day is truly a blessing.

As we sat, sipping on our drinks, we saw a couple come in pushing a big jogging stroller. It was much larger than most so I looked closer. There, lying in am awkward position, was a boy who looked to be around 8 yrs old. My heart sank. As the couple sat down, the mom struggled to place the boy next to her; halfway on her lap, supporting his every move, his limp limbs lying in his lap. His head fell side to side. There was little, if any emotion on his face. His eyes seemed to bounce randomly around the room. No sound was coming from his mouth. His shirt was wet from the inability to control the saliva falling from his mouth. As the couple's water arrived, the mom pulled out a long syringe-looking thing and filled it with some liquid. This was their son's drink. He couldn't taste it or enjoy playing with the ice cubes like most kids his age. His mom attached it to a small hose that went directly into the boys stomach. She slowly eased the liquid down the tube and into his belly while gently brushing his hair back off his forehead. You could see the affection in her every move. 

It was powerful- I could only imagine what this mom had to do everyday; what she was called to in this life. Nat looked at me and said, "Now that is a whole other level of love . . ." So true. We talked about how much we love Selah and the challenges you already face as parents when your child is healthy. Yup babe, this is a whole other level of love. This mom and dad don't get the rewards of being parents from their boy in the way of conversations, laughs, hugs and kisses like we all do. Obviously I don't know the extent of the interaction with their child but I could see that it would be very limited. But they choose to love this boy each and every day with not so much as a blink and the feeling of his beating heart. I could only imagine the times they have cried, wishing his body and mind were whole.

But even as sad as it was to see them and feel such empathy for their situation, it was as equally inspiring. Their lives WERE love everyday. Every person that sees them feeding their son sees love. Each time a stranger watches this mom cradling her son in public sees love. Really their pain is seen by SO many as all that is good, right, hopeful and courageous.

To this mom- thank you for the gift you gave Natalie and myself today.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The road *between*

Trip is over- done! Thank the Lord. The past week and a half have been brutal. Not just because of logistics, packing and driving but mostly due to the "pains" involved in such a move. It's a strange thing; best way I can describe it is that you feel as if there's a million tiny tears inside. All the plugs have been pulled from the inputs of your "TV." All the channels have changed. All the relationships formed are now on pause with no definitive time when you know they will continue. That is disconcerting and uncomfortable; somewhat sad. You know that they'll never be the same. They will continue, absolutely, but what they will turn into and at what depth are yet to be seen.

We stayed in four different places the last four nights. Selah wasn't sleeping as well as usual and neither was I. We would put her down and she would just look around; checking her surroundings, wondering where she was (or at least that's how I interpreted it.) I would do the same. Sit on couches or hotel beds and just want to get going, get to my final destination. Get out of this limbo between worlds. I love to travel when it's just about traveling but to travel without a home is completely different. Knowing that you have to reset your foundation when you get "there" makes the travel bit just another obstacle; not an enjoyable experience. The only thought I had each time I pulled over or stopped was, "What's their home like? Do they enjoy it? Is it peaceful? Do they have a good community of friends?" Thoughts were consumed by settling again; rebuilding our world and the relationships that will define it.

So, to you that we left, I miss you and will try my best to stay current in your life, and to those I am with now, lets not waste time in becoming friends : )

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Habatat Coffee Co.- end of Chapter 1

As my time in VA ends, can't help but think back on the expectations and experiences I've had the past two years. Habatat Coffee, in Tyson's Corner, was an intense education if nothing else. Was it extremely profitable? Not at all but it did yield huge returns in the department of people; their stories and lives. And that is what I celebrate today . . . and assuredly underestimated at the beginning.

I never expected the depth of relationships that would come to develop. I wrongly assumed that our shop would be host to many arrogant corporate types, ready to belittle out of spite and proudly share their expertise. But I experienced that maybe twice in my time here out of the thousands of people that I served. Instead, I found solid, humble people who dropped their titles at the door. They weren't CEO's, partners, lawyers or investment bankers; they were Tim, Steve, David, etc. Just regular guys making their way through life. All were on equal ground in Habatat and that is what created what we had. Lots of laughter and water cooler talk. Many of the same faces each day, lots of stories and some intensely personal moments. Each day, I was reminded how wrong I had been in judging my potential customers before the opening. But how gentle the reminders were.

I quickly came to realize that what I did had little to do with the coffee and much more to do with listening and caring. I played the role of a therapist, friend, HR consultant, political pundit, priest, app developer . . . and barista. I heard secrets, strategies and BIG life questions. Never have I felt such a sense of fulfillment and purpose. Not because I craved it but because I saw people that were seeking and extended a hand. They just wanted a place to call their own and be known. Habatat was that place, and I, it's gate keeper.

So I thank all of you Towers Crescent for sharing your lives- you will forever be etched into my heart as the place where it all started. Blessings to you all. See you soon!

Sent from my iPad

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Apples & Oranges

So the topic of same-sex marriage has been in the news around the DC area almost every night for the past couple of weeks now as Maryland was looking at passing a bill to allow it. It was voted down this past Friday but that's neither here nor there.

What I want to address is that we as a nation are missing the point entirely in my estimation! I'm not going to argue for or against gay rights- nope. But I am going to argue for MARRIAGE! We've done a great job destroying the essence of it in my short time here on earth. Maybe I'm more aware as the years increase but the sentiment against it seems to grow everyday. You see celebrities, politicians and neighbors alike toss it aside as if they're in a casual dating relationship; not  in a God-ordained covenant life long committment to the other as it was designed to be. So here's what I suggest:

Because we all should be able to designate who can speak for us legally, than everyone, ALL OF US, should have a civil union when we choose a partner. Gay, straight, bi . . . whatever. It would be strictly a legally binding agreement between two people for health and financial reasons. Sounds transactional you say? You're dang right! Why should it carry any more weight than that if people aren't approaching it the way it should be and can't agree on who should be allowed to take part? We're just dragging the whole ship down and leaving a whole generation completely at a loss when they are trying to identify what a healthy one looks like. BUT, those of us that want to be recognized as married, BEYOND the civil union, should do so in the church; the state should have no part. I'm all for keeping the beaurocratic mess out of marriage!

But before you go completely beserk on me and cry, "LIBERAL!!!!" think about it. Everyone should have somebody they can have as their legal guardian/partner/pal etc. I don't care if you believe being gay is wrong. But not everyone, even straight people, should get married. As a believer, I recognize that the marriage (not the civil union) I stepped into with Nat was a vow between God, myself and Natalie, with our families as witnesses. We stood before Him and two became one. Yes, the state recognized us as unified but they only cared about it because of tax returns and other junk. They don't give two cents about the God part. It may say it on some document but that's as far as it goes.

I know this would be too much for many people. Letting go of the word "marriage" would just be too big of an obstacle but I honestly believe that in order to save/identify what a true marriage is we need to set aside the word "marriage."  

My daughter. Our gift. His ove.

She fought hard for you little one.
Through cries you came. I sat quietly.

Our hands held as was my breath.

Your cry brought explosions.

My chest was full. The tears came. This was courage and life.

This was holy!

The small and delicate. The whispers. God was with you and in you.

I rocked as your little chest would rise and fall. Your tongue searching.
I came close and whispered in your ear.

You see. I feel.
My daughter. Our gift. His love.

Wrapped tight in a bundled sleep as the world waits. The early morning hours of calm brought rolling emotion. You're so small. Poppa prayed. We circled. We will protect you. I will love and lead you.

My one. My first. I stop, listen and reflect- you are Selah!!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Drivers-ed all the time around here-

Living in south Florida for 8 years I learned to drive with a, shall we say, . . . purpose. Some would call it aggressive; I call moving in an efficient manner from point A to B. You dart, turn right on red without even coming to a complete stop, yield generally means "keep driving but slow down a bit." There's a lot of blue hairs rolling around the streets to you've got to learn to avoid them from impeding progress. It somewhat of a game. It's just how you drive down there.

Not so much here in the D.C. area.

For a city in such a rush, they move so slow!! Drives me nuts. (But maybe it makes sense as many work for or with the government so there's always desperation and talk complaining about the traffic but no one does anything about it; ya that's it. Just the culture here ; )  Here's my main beefs with the greater D.C. area motorist:

1) People do not turn right on red. I literally have to honk my horn (which is considered highly aggressive here; it's as if all cars are mute on these streets there's so little of it going on) to get them to move. Then when I do use this communication tool, it's as if they're like, "My oh my! What does this young man want? Oh yes, I did forget that it is legal to turn right on red. But I'm not going anywhere until there are absolutely NO cars coming!" Each day home from work I make a right on red or try to. There are three lanes of oncoming traffic but FOUR lanes right after the light as it's an on ramp to 495. So, visualize with me, three before, four after. That means, if you're turning right on red, you'll ALWAYS have a clear lane to turn into even if there is oncoming traffic. But for some inexplicable reason, I'd say 90% of people still wait until the coast is COMPLETELY, and I mean completely, clear. Ridiculous and annoying as the light is a 3 minute light (no exaggeration!)

2) D.C. people also believe the speed limit is just that; the absolute limit at which to travel; not the speed at which you're suppose to maintain while driving as to keep the flow of traffic moving. It's very common for the NoVA resident to cruise at 10 mph below the speed limit and then look at you as if you've gone mad if you're traveling 5 mph above.

3) On ramps/lanes are not places for you to stop!!! The only time you are supposed to stop is at a stop sign or when a red light is in front of you. All other times you should keep moving and merge with other traffic in a smooth and fluid manner. Don't slam on your brakes when the merge lane begins to end, just begin to move over and room will appear. Or beat everyone to the punch and accelerate on the ramp so you have four less cars in front of you. That's how I do it. Feels like you're legally skipping the line ; )

4) Really a sub point of #3 but if you want to change lanes, then change lanes!!! Don't brake and jerkily swerve after seeing that someone is in your blind spot. This is often followed by a moment of panic where excessive braking occurs leading to a chain reaction behind you. You do this instead; think ahead a bit, check your mirrors, even turn your head if need be. If there's a wide open slot, go ahead and move over; it's yours! If you are more of a pre-cautious type, just put on your blinker and wait for an opening WHILE maintaining current speed. If you're 3 lanes to the left and need to exit suddenly on your right; don't D.C. peeps! You don't have the skill to perform such a maneuver. Just keep going and exit at the next available or pull a U turn (but I know how those frighten you.)

So there are my four main complaints. I know it won't change. I also know that if our beloved urbanites around here read this, they'd all agree and not realize that they are who I'm talking about. As I began this rant with . . . drive with purpose ; ) Please and thank you-

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Joseph the Afghani-

Written on Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 2:51pm

Walked up to a house this a.m. looking to inquire about a vehicle for sale. A well dressed man, with peppered gray hair and stone blue eyes greeted me outside. He had a gentle voice, thick with a Middle Eastern accent. After going over the car, he invited me inside. As we walked in, I asked why he sold vehicles from his home (a very nice/large home it was; didn’t fit what you’d think an independent used car dealer would have.) Joseph immediately responded, “I used to own a car dealership but the past couple of years were very rough so I had to close. I lost $500,000 the last year I was open. So now I just do what I can from home. Have to pay the bills somehow!” He smiled; wasn’t ashamed or timid in the least. He apologized for the mess that his 5 kids had made as we walked through the kitchen and dining room back to his home office. As we sat down, I asked him when he came to the U.S. He said, “All the way back in 1981.” Always interested in the stories of immigrants, I began a barrage of questions and he freely answered.

Joseph’s journey began in 1978 (the year I was born.) Afghanistan was in a time of turmoil and war. He was 14 at the time and the men in his town were asking his father to hand Joseph and his 5 brothers over so they could join the local militia. Joseph said that he immediately told his father that he had no interest in fighting; especially since it would be against his own people. His father told him there were only two options: fight or leave the country. Joseph decided to leave and crossed over into Iran. He was alone. Not a soul with him as he risked his life to get out of the war zone. He was in Iran for two years holed up in a room he rented in a crappy hotel. He said that he worked day and night selling cigarettes, fixing birdcages and working labor jobs; anything to survive.  He didn’t see his family at all during that time. Finally, his parents said that they would meet him in Pakistan if he could get there. He was now 16. One brother had made it over to the U.S. already so his parents thought maybe the three of them could go next. But saving money and getting the documents in line wasn’t that easy so they spent a year in Pakistan. Again, Joseph did whatever he could to make money. I couldn’t help but say, “But man, you were only a kid! How’d you do it?” He paused what he was writing and looked up, “What else could I do? You do whatever you need to in order to eat. When I was 14, I was equal to a 25 year old American. I had to hustle with grown men and work alongside them. I just had to do it. It didn’t matter that I was treated poorly and had no one. Nobody cared so I just did what needed to be done.” I must have said wow 50 times in the 20 minutes we were talking. Couldn’t get over his drive and perseverance!

But as he wrapped up his story, telling me that his whole family made it over and now live in the DC metro area, he said, “And that is why I love this country . . . there is nothing like it anywhere! At the worst here, is better than the best where I came from. Hard isn’t hard. Why? Because you’re safe and that is priceless! There is no war. Maybe you can’t pay your bills, like I’m having a hard time doing now, but that is very small problem in the grand scheme.” I just sat there and said meekly, “You’re right bud. I can’t fully comprehended or empathize with what it is you’re saying, as I’ve never come close to experiencing what you have, but I hear you. We are blessed. Life is good.” I stood up, shook his hand and thanked him for taking the time to share with me.  He said that he enjoyed it.

As I drove away, and even now 3 hours later, his words keep ringing in my head. His thankfulness even in the midst of major loss he experienced in the past year was contagious.  Good stuff-
So that was today. That was good. Joseph was his name.