Tag Archives: ON

2012-2013 The Year of Change

For a regular blogger, this last year held a ton of distractions. It’s easy to see those distractions in my light number of posts.

From filling our empty nest with a teenager and a dog to building a house, it’s been quite the journey. My plan is to blog A LOT more from here on out.

If you follow my Mary Beth Lee profile on Facebook, you’ve seen these photos. If not, I hope you enjoy.

ON Graduation

ON came to live with us Spring Break 2012. She graduated June 1 this year! WOO HOO!!!!

Emmie

Emmie came to live with us last June. I love her like a baby. I’m serious. I’m a dog mom. She’s a rescue. She had a rough life before us. Now she has the easy life. It’s weird because I’d been a cat mom for 18 years and didn’t plan on having a dog. I ❤ Emmie.

Then there’s the house

The slab. We were so freaking excited.

The slab. We were so freaking excited.

Framing and all that good stuff

Framing and all that good stuff

:)

🙂

It was so cold, but we saw brick. We had to take a photo.

It was so cold, but we saw brick. We had to take a photo.

MY OFFICE!!!!

MY OFFICE!!!!

The front was done. It looked so close. LIES! THe outside is the easy part.

The front was done. It looked so close. LIES! THe outside is the easy part.

I just like this picture of DH looking at the frame for the sidewalks.

I just like this picture of DH looking at the frame for the sidewalks.

Garage door. This is so funny. We got the WRONG garage door, but we loved it. Cost us $1k, but it was worth it!

Garage door. This is so funny. We got the WRONG garage door, but we loved it. Cost us $1k, but it was worth it!

Yeah, we still think this is close to done.

Yeah, we still think this is close to done.

This doesn't look too far away, right?

This doesn’t look too far away, right?

:)

🙂

We're wondering if this will ever get done.

We’re wondering if this will ever get done.

with our builders

with our builders

what it looked like a week before that meeting with our builders.

what it looked like a week before that meeting with our builders.

holy cow we got the keys!

holy cow we got the keys!

AND the mortgage.

AND the mortgage.

She did it!

Image

Thank you, Lord.

 

 

 

I won’t go into the whole story. It doesn’t matter today. 

 

For now I’ll leave it with She Did It. ON graduated from high school. 

 

And now she’s headed to Vernon College. 

 

She’s a fighter. She rediscovered hope. 

 

It wouldn’t have been possible without her original counselor, Mrs. Susie Nix, Rider registrar Paula Moore, Rider counselor Jennifer Spurgers and Rider teacher Cleveland Wallerich, who connected with a hurt kid and helped her remember how much she loved school.

 

It wouldn’t have been possible without our small group and their prayers.

 

It wouldn’t have been possible without my sister, who’s reclaimed her own life in the same time.

 

Most of all, it wouldn’t have been possible without God, our partner every step of the way.

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A Tough Lesson

I thought I understood poverty.
I was a Welfare mom. I made my way through school and got past that stage of life. I took the classes to explain how students of poverty think and feel. I’ve been to the workshops on how to help kids see past their present to try to find hope in the future.
I’ve given money and food to the homeless. I support United Way.
I’ve taught for almost two decades.
Like I said, I thought I understood poverty.
And then ON came to live with us.
The first week she smacked me across the face with the truth of poverty.
Her face and body were bruised, but that was nothing compared to her heart and soul.
That first weekend I prayed over and over for her to see we could be an escape. We could help her. I wanted to demand “STAY WITH US!” but I knew that wasn’t the answer. It had to be her decision. After three days, it was, but only with a caveat.
She told me after her first day at Rider that she’d never be like DD. Never have friends like that because she hated them. When I asked like what, she told me she didn’t want to offend me, and not to take it personally, but friends like us. “Rich people.”
I didn’t take her words personally, but they did hurt. They hurt because I saw us through her eyes.
I’m a school teacher and DH owns a lawn care service. I’ve never looked at us as rich, but she did. And by rich she meant judgmental and rude. Big eye opener.

That first week we just wanted her to focus on finding a way to get back in school.
Her old counselor someone I’d talked to in the past, was willing to do whatever we needed to get her on my campus.
We thought she’d be there for a few weeks tops before moving to the alternative campus to graduate early and move on with life in a safe way, whatever that entailed.
When her transcripts came in, the Rider counselor told me the grades were impressive. Despite constant truancies and moves, she was an A-B student.
It shocked me. How could an A-B student be a drop out? How can that happen?
Another shocker. In my world, kids with good grades stay in school and go to college. In hers, grades were no big deal. In hers, college wasn’t an option. In hers, the life plan was written and it was going in a direction where grades made ZERO difference.
An educator I respect says First, Do Not Deprive of Hope.
Until then I didn’t understand what exactly that meant.
When educators (including ME) say “I’ve got to hold these kids accountable or they’ll never learn” about kids like ON, we’re missing the point. They don’t care. We can’t make them care. Our world, our gradebooks, our lessons, DON’T MATTER. Their hope for something different is gone. Our “accountability” statements are the equivalent of the two minute showers we get every once in a while in the midst of this god awful drought.

It’s been months now. ON reclaimed her hope. In large part because of the amazing teachers on my campus. One, Cleveland Wallerich, reached out to ON almost immediately.  He never treated her like a child of poverty, a child with no hope. That’s probably important. He made her feel like every other kid in the class. Those first weeks when she was quiet and sick and bruised, not sure she was even going to stay with us, he didn’t let her become invisible even though that’s what she seemed to want. He treated her like a normal person. He spoke to her every morning when we walked through the door. He teased her about me. He established a connection and made her laugh. That didn’t happen all that often at first. Today she laughs a lot. Today, she’s different, but the same. A child with hope. A child who’s survived.

We bought ON’s graduation announcements and cap & gown this month. She took the SAT. Once ON reclaimed her hope, everything changed. She wants to go to college. She’s graduating from a traditional high school. She has a job. She has friends who have plans for life after high school. She hasn’t been sick in months. The bruises on her face and body are gone. I know the ones on the heart and soul still exist, but they’re healing…BECAUSE of hope AND prayer. We prayed a lot, our small group prayed with us and reached out to ON, including her in everything we did this summer. AND ON’s old school counselor called this month to check on her. When she heard about ON’s new life plan, she was overjoyed. I told her we’d definitely send her a graduation announcement.

I talked to an older teacher at a conference last week. He told me about his experiences with poverty as a child. He said it still hurts to remember how he was treated. His voice cracked with the 50-yr-old memories. He was different because he was poor, and his peers never let him forget it. BUT he made it. He broke the cycle. ON will too. And as she does, I’m going to be paying attention as a teacher and an aunt.

Poverty destroys. It sucks away hope. Schools can do the same if we’re not careful.

Sometimes a Hug is the Best Answer

1st Watermelon

I thought I’d spend this week sharing stories about my new inspirational romance, Letting Go. I thought maybe I’d talk about forgiveness and how it’s not for the other person, it’s for you. I thought I’d talk about people who’d been involved in abusive relationships or who’d been abandoned or who had never learned about love, but all that changed this week when I had to take a deep breath and be Mom.
When your kid’s 5, you can give them a hug and make most things better. When they’re 10, that pretty much stays the same. Maybe you add a movie to it. When they’re teenagers you can tell them what you think they should do, and often, they follow your advice. Well, not often, but sometimes. Every once in a while.
When they’re 20+ it takes everything in you NOT to tell them what to do.
ON (oldest niece) actually gave me some great advice this week. She said “Auntie, you just shake your head and don’t say anything. Let her talk. Listen. That’s how you handle this.”
Funny. It took a 17 yr old to help me help DD.
I want to go Hallmark and say our troubles make us stronger and God won’t give you more than you can handle. Or all superior and say “look chickadoodle. I’ve walked this road, and let me tell you how to do it.” Or all manipulative and say “look, you do this and I’ll do this and…”
But none of those are the right answers. The right answer is what I’ve tried to do. Listen and love and let her know I trust you to learn from this. And even though it’s Hallmark, you can’t go over, under or around. You’ve got to go through it. And always: No matter what, God’s got you in His arms. When we’re too tired, He’s there. When we’re too hurt, He’s there. When we’re too confused. He’s there. When we’re too unsure, He’s there.
And I’m there too. With unlimited hugs and unconditional love. Just like when she was five and things were easy. ###

1000 degrees outside!

Empty Nest No More

So after two years, our empty nest is full. Or somewhat full. Or as full as a 17-yr-old niece can make it.
ON (Oldest Niece), as she chose to be called here, is now a Rider Raider. It’s been quite the last 10 days to say the least.
Today ON got a taste of Auntie’s kind of parenting.
There’s a boy…
Geez, it’s been a long time since I’ve worried about boys. DD is nearly 22. I can worry all day long, but she’s going to do what she’s going to do. So a year ago I quit worrying about her boy and switched to prayer alone.
ON’s another story.
I “encouraged” ON and the boy to hang out in the newsroom this morning before school. I think he thought he was getting away without the interrogation. I waited until 5 minutes before the bell just so I could watch him. And then I asked him to come talk to me for a few minutes. ON groaned. It was hilarious.
I have no idea if the boy is interested in talking to ON outside of school or not. If he is, he gets to run the Uncle Gauntlet. DH gets people right away. He’s always right. I made sure ON knows the boy will have to meet Uncle.

If you’re a praying person, prayers are greatly appreciated for us and ON. If you’re not, positive thoughts work, too!

I plan on blogging more regularly again now that things seem to be settled.