Monday, March 23, 2020

How am I? Part Two

Apparently brutally honest is what people like to read.  Had more visits to my blog when I opened with a promise to be brutally honest than I have in months.

Or it could just be that everyone is really, really, really bored.  Or on social media way too much.  Which, what's the point really?  It's not like anyone has anything new to say and everyone is talking about variations of the same topic.  Yawn.

But anyway, here's how I am.

First of all, not to be alarming or anything, but at this moment I'm feeling pretty odd. It is not the virus, so don't go there. Anybody else have AFib?  I do.  And it means that I am on medication to slow my heart rate.  And lately my AFib has been pretty stable, and my heart rate is getting lower.  According to my google research, my pulse right now is that of a highly trained, super fit athlete.  Except that I'm not a highly trained, super fit athlete.  So I feel pretty weird.   It happened yesterday morning too for a while after I took my medication.  It passed in about an hour.  But tomorrow I may not take it and see if that is what is causing this.  I'm certainly not going to the doctor -- and I'm actually not that sick -- I just feel like my world is going really really slow.   I better perk up a bit before I have to go live.

Which is what I came to the blog to tell you about.  Today at noon EST we are going to be launching CarePortal.   We launched a month ago in Roanoke and that was such a fun event.  Over 100 people there.  Lots of media hype.  Tons of energy in the room.  You know me -- super confident in front of a crowd.

Not so much in front of a camera.   Sigh.

Nevertheless, you should come check it out.   You can go to Facebook and see it on the Vision 30 page or you can watch it live on YouTube.

Come on and check it out.  I'd love to hear your feedback!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Wondering how I am?

Let me be brutally honest for a change.  OK, not for a change.   That's pretty much what you expect from me most of the time.  But I'm on a roll so if you are prone to be annoyed by me, probably just click back to wherever you came from.  (Smiling here.... big smile).

Let me update you on our family before going off and ranting on everything that I haven't been brave enough (or had time enough) to rant about publicly.

Here's an update on what I know about our family, in order by age:

My mom is doing great.  She's in the nursing home and can't leave her room.  She's making the best of it though.   As always, she's positive and resilient and hopeful.  But her room is SMALL.... she shares it with a roommate with a curtain between them.

Kyle and Christy and their three kids are so far healthy.  They are both teachers so they are all alone all day together.   The girls have bad lung issues always, so they are being super careful.  We have FaceTimed them a couple times.

Rand and Amanda are planning their wedding for June 27 but a lot of the pre-wedding stuff is getting cancelled or postponed.  Hopefully the wedding will still be on.

We never hear from a couple of our sons -- M and R.   They wouldn't want to be mentioned.

John is still in prison.  I have been writing him more.  He is due for release in August and hoping to transfer his parole to Virginia.

Jimmy is here and still working full time at the gas station in their kitchen.  He's always great to be around.  Typically happy and helpful.

Salinda and her husband and kids are here trying to make the best of things.  Olive Garden is closed so Salinda is home all the time.  Kids have no school.  Mike's job involves insulating homes that are not yet occupied so his job is secure for now.  The kids are bored but they got a new trampoline and now are going to plant a garden out back.  So that's good.

Mercedes and Matt are fine.... Mercedes work closed down for a few days.  haven't talked to them in a couple days but will try today.

Leon and Danielle are good -- enjoying an introverts dream of social isolation together.  Leon had a very frustrating situation where he was accosted verbally in a grocery store because "YOU CHINESE PEOPLE BROUGHT THIS HERE."  He's not even Chinese.  (sigh).

Tony is ok so far -- I need to check in with him today.  But his girlfriend, a former foster child, reminded people on Facebook that there are kids out there who only feel safe at school and are now at home with their abusers.  Scary thought.

Dominyk is here ... hanging in there.  Still working part time at a grocery store.  

And if you want to know about Wilson you need to email me or send me a private message.

So, off of the family update...

Here's why I haven't blogged much.   Basically it's because Joshua and Caleb almost got stoned.  And every time I have something to say I feel like I'm going to get stoned as well.

You remember the story right -- ten spies checked out the promised land.   And ten of them came back and scared the crap out of everyone.  The giants are big.  This is horrible and we are never going to be able to defeat them.

But Joshua and Caleb said -- oh, it's bad alright, but God's got us.   They spoke words of hope and encouragement and faith -- and the response?  The people wanted to stone them.  It's all in Numbers 14 if you want to read it.

So I have kept quiet because the hopeful, faithful, positive spirit is somehow translated into a lack of caution, or a lack of concern, or a lack of empathy.   But I believe in a Both - And kind of God and I think we as believers can be both-and kind of people.  We can be both careful/cautious/empathetic AND hopeful/positive/faithful.    But our world is so dichotomized that it seems we are asked to pick one thing and can't be both.

My take on this whole situation is definitely the words from 2 Timothy 1:7:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
I will not live in a spirit of fear.  If I have a spirit of power, I know God is in control and that I have his power to remain steadfast and hopeful.  If I have a spirit of love then I will care about others enough to practice good hygiene and social distance -- and to find ways to reach out and support others.   And if I have a sound mind, I will do the math and calculate the risks to me and those I love, and not jump to the worst case scenario.

Now, if you want to read further, do so at your own risk.

Here are some things that are really pissing me off as I watch this all unfold.

The amount of selfishness I am seeing blows me away.  I understand if there are people out there who are not people of faith who have a 30 day supply of toilet paper, but I do not understand Christians who are buying way more than they need.  If you are in any way connected with people living in poverty, you know that they cannot hoard stuff.  They don't have the resources to buy more than what they need.  They ride busses, so buying 30 packages of toilet paper just because it is there isn't possible, even if they have the funds.   Taking more than we need does not mean loving our neighbor as ourselves.

The second thing is that I told myself a week ago that the church would find a way to dichotomize and fight on Facebook in regards to this whole thing and I figured out what it was.  The "We cancelled church" people are claiming that the "we still had church last weekend" people are careless and think nothing of others.  And the "We still had church last weekend" people are claiming that the "We cancelled church" people are faithless and lacking in hope.   This makes me sad.  Jesus prayed in the last prayer before he died in John 17 that we would be one so that the the world would know that God and He were one.   Wow are we failing at that.  Makes me crazy to see how we have to dichotomize on every issue and thus become so ineffective.


One of the things that I did in the middle of writing all this was to have a very long conversation with one of my favorite people in the world via FaceTime.  For many reasons I will not say who it was, but it filled my soul and was amazing.  It was like we had lunch without lunch ... like we used to back in the day.

Here are some things that I have concluded about the virus as I conclude this article.

1) We know too much.  Being able to check the internet all the time for the latest just makes us more stressed.   When I was 13 (in 1976) I had the swine flu with my entire family.  I don't remember it now, but my mom told me the other day about it.   But back then we didn't even know what was happening.  We didn't know who else has it.... we didn't know who was dying.  We watched the news to find out a few updates, but the amount of knowledge we had was minimal.  Today people can't stay away from googling everything and then freaking out.

BUT...

2). What would we all be doing without the internet?  Isolation would be who

2) I touch my face ALL. THE.  TIME.  Who knew?

3)  When we are in crisis we take care of ourselves first.  Then we worry about our companies/organizations/churches and their liability.  And finally, we worry about others.  My neighbor shared the best and most insightful quote with me the other day in a Facebook comment:

The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But the good Samaritan reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?" MLK

Oh how I wish we could all remember this.

4). There are a lot of really stupid people in the world.

5). I am so glad this didn't happen ten years ago when we had 9 teenagers at home.  I would not have survived.

6).  God is still God and He is still on his throne.  He's got me.  If I get sick, He's got me.  If I die, He's got me.    And He's calling me to stand firm and as I Thessalonians 4:13 says, "not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope."  

If you've gotten this far, thanks for caring what I think.  If you want a dose of Claudia, I have some free time evenings and weekends to FaceTime folks.  

If you disagree with anything I've said ... spare me the drama and just agree to disagree without comment.   :-).

Hang in there people.   We're going to survive!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Yet


Have you ever wanted something so bad that when it didn't happen for a while you stopped believing that it would?  Those kind of feelings are when the word YET comes into play and reminds us of the promises of God.

In Acts 7, Stephen was giving a history lesson to the Jewish council.  It escalated quickly as he gained momentum and began to basically call them murderers, which lead to his death, but I digress.

Early on in his speech Stephen reminds them that “Abraham left the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran until his father died. Then God brought him here to the land where you now live.  But God gave him no inheritance here, not even one square foot of land. God did promise, however, that eventually the whole land would belong to Abraham and his descendants—even though he had no children yet. 

God had promised Abraham descendants — as many as the stars in the sky — and he had no children.   Such a strange promise — and for years, I’m sure that Abraham wanted to doubt God.  I wonder if there were times though, that in great faith, he said to Sarah — we don’t have any children …. yet.

What is it that God has promised you?  Have you added the word yet to your thoughts and statements about that promise.  You might want to because God keeps his promises.



(I know, I know.  I had visions of blogging more frequently, but my life is just.... very.... busy.  Work is so cool and energizing right now, but I have little energy left for much else.  Which is fine.  I like my life to count for something and Vision 30 and CarePortal are going to change the lives of children and families.... so I'm ok with that.  Can't wait to see how God is going to make this all amazing.


Wednesday, February 05, 2020

What Can We Learn from Manna

]

In Exodus 16 we read about manna, God’s answer to the cries (and whines) of the people of Israel in the wilderness after all the miraculous ways God had delivered them from Egypt.   Manna was their morning food (quail came at night)

  1. It would only come once a day —as soon as the dew dried up on the grass each morning.
  2. People were only to gather it right away in the morning and not wait until later in the day.
  3. They were to gather only as much as they could eat in one day and not save it over night.
  4. The day before the Sabbath they could gather two days worth.

So of course there were people who obeyed those commands and their experience with manna was quite pleasant.  However, there were those who could not trust God enough for each day and left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank.  Ick.

While there are a bunch of lessons we can learn from manna, the one I want to emphasize today is the idea of trust and whether or not we view God’s provision through the lense of scarcity vs. abundance.   Contrast these two people’s stories:

  1. I wake up every day awed by the miracle that God has given us in providing for our needs.  The manna across the camp each day is more than enough for what I will possibly need.  Some days I confess to overeating, because God has said that we can take as much as we can eat.  I am beyond grateful that I serve a God who cares about me and every single day gives me more than enough to get through that day.

2)   Hmmm.   God has said that he’s going to give us enough manna for today, but what if he doesn’t? What if it doesn’t come tomorrow and I go hungry?  Certainly he isn’t serious when he provides unlimited manna during the day that we should only take enough for a day?  I’m going to save some of mine for tomorrow.  if I hold on to it I can be sure that if God fails me tomorrow I won’t go hungry.  …. 

Person one always had enough manna and remained grateful.   Person two work up to a stinky wormy mess.   And my guess is that person two was one of those who was consistently complaining that he wanted to go back to Egypt where there were leeks and onions.

What do you need for God, just for today?   Can you be content in knowing He is giving you everything you need to make it …. one day at a time.

For your listening pleasure, my dad’s favorite (sung at his memorial service)


Or, if you'd rather, here's Keith Green’s song about this story:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HF7dsblm3_s







Monday, February 03, 2020

A Million Dreams

As you probably have heard, the subtitle or Mr. Day's book is  "An orphan, an orphanage, and a dream to make foster care obsolete."

This is Vision 30 and I'm leading the effort to get others to believe it's possible.  

It's not a surprise then that “every night, I lie in bed, The brightest colors fill my head, a million dreams are keeping me awake.  I think of what the world could be, a vision of the one I see, a million dreams is all it's gonna take…a million dreams for the world we're gonna make.”  

Can you envision a region where there is no need for foster care?  A place where communities are so healthy that families are healthy… thus no need for foster care?  If so, you’re one of the dreamers.

Because I’m weird like that, I did the math.  If only 273 people will dream with me (I will count myself as the .972603 person) every night for 10 years, that’s a million dreams.  And, according to the song, a million dreams is all it’s going to take.

As I start my Monday, I am praying for the courage that it takes to continue to talk about a dream when "they say it all sounds crazy and they say we’ve lost our minds".  To dream of a day when when, at least in my neighborhood, at list in my city and the surrounding counties, all kids are safe and families are strong.

Acts 2:17 says, “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”

I may not be that old, and I’m certainly not a man, but I’m dreaming those dreams.  I hope you will dream with me.


Friday, January 31, 2020

Tightrope


Bart and I have been talking a lot lately about what it was like to be young.  I'm not sure when that switched -- that thinking from "the future is going to be so awesome" to "Wow, we sure miss those days."  It may be because I"m working with some pretty cool younger people at this point in my life and I am motivated  (and exhausted) by their energy.  Or maybe it's just the realization that our kids will never be little again and that even our grandkids are aging.   But we are missing those days... those days when every day is an adventure and life is full of promise.

I recently bought the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman and somehow my "iPod got stuck on replay" last night with the song Tightrope that I had never heard before.  And I realized that this song would have been a song that I sung to Jesus as a young adult:

Some people long for a life that is simple and planned
Tied with a ribbon
Some people won't sail the sea 'cause they're safer on land
To follow what's written
But I'd follow you to the great unknown
Off to a world we call our own

Hand in my hand and we promised to never let go
We're walking the tightrope
High in the sky
We can see the whole world down below
We're walking the tightrope
Never sure, never know how far we could fall
But it's all an adventure
That comes with a breathtaking view
Walking the tightrope.

But as I began to ponder what was, I realized that I got this spirit of adventure from my Mom and that she still has it, at the age of almost 91 there in the nursing home.  This is what she said the other day when I called her, her voice strong and full of joy.

"I just had the most marvelous day!  First of all, my favorite friend who gives me my morning medication saw the hymn book by my bed and we sang together at the top of our lungs!   Then the elevator was fixed so now we can go upstairs!  And, NOBODY here has the flu!  God has answered so many of my prayers today ... all at once!”

As I hung up I realized that just because I am no longer young, full of energy and physical strength, I am still able to have an adventure of a life before me.  There is no ending to that adventure, no matter how old I get.

So today I invite you to whisper an invitation to God to walk on his tightrope .... a life of adventure that is not tidy, nor simple, nor easy -- but has a breathtaking view!




Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Alone in a Hotel Room

This is when things get dangerous.   This is day two -- and I am getting pretty caught up on my stuff for work and I've started bugging my teams at work with all my ideas.   Think I should blog and give them a break.

We are deeply entrenched in implementing Care Portal and our Vision 30 which you're probably tired of hearing about.  We have a lot going on and we are excited about where this is all heading.

Meanwhile, back on the home front, we still have two unemployed adults.  This has varied in the past 6 months anywhere from 2 of 5 being employed to everyone employed.  Right now we are 3 of 5 working and 2 looking (with help from others who are looking).

But I want to vent -- and this is where blogging always came in handy.   My topic:  The criminal "justice" system.

We have a felon who lives with us.  Most of you know the story.  It's tragic in so many ways.  But here's the deal.

As a felon it's really hard to get a job and it's really hard to find a place to live.  The housing part is supplied by us but that means that we can't do foster care, be a Safe Family host family, or adopt again (not that that was on our radar ... We Be Tired!)   There are other implications as well in this situation that I won't explain for the sake of his privacy.

Getting a job has been nearly impossible... even though he has a very dedicated advocate at CareerWorks helping him.  He has had two jobs, but the first one there was some confusion when he was hired (the agency that helped him find the job forgot to tell them he was a felon) and then the second was seasonal.  Now he is unemployed.

But here's the catch.  He has one group therapy he has to attend on Monday afternoons and another one on Tuesdays at noon.  Every few days he has to go down to the probation office (20 minute drive from our home) and do a UA (or, as we say, pee in the cup).    Each of the group therapies has a fee $20 a week for one, and $30 a week for the other.

So, tell me how someone who, for example, did not have a loving supportive family, would ever be able to stay out of jail?

You have to have at least $50 a week to pay for the classes.

You have to have transportation 3-4 times a week to the Probation office.  You can take the bus, but without a job how would you pay for a bus pass?

You have to find a job that will hire a felon and allow you to leave work early at least one night a week and then take off for a Monday afternoon and a Tuesday at noon meeting.

You have to find housing -- a place that will rent to felons -- and yet with no job you can't pay the rent.

If you have a history of trauma or issues with pre-natal exposure it is really tough to remember all this stuff and get there on time, particularly if you don't have transportation.

So here's where I'm heading with us.  It is kicking Bart and my collective butts to keep this son from returning to jail.  He is one of our easiest kids but he's spacey and distractible.  So I ask the question of what happens to those kids who age out of foster care without a family?

I'm afraid the answer is that if they get arrested once, they may never figure out a way to stay out of jail for more than a few weeks.  Ever.

Our son John, after 11 years of being in and out of jail, is currently in prison and has been for about 2 years.    If I told you his offenses you would be shocked that this could equal the time he has spent there.  He is applying for a transfer of Parole to come to Virginia, but if that isn't granted, he will more than likely be back behind bars within a few weeks.

It's not just.  It's not rehabilitative at all.   It doesn't go well.  It's infuriating.  I'm pissed every time I think about it.  If I had another lifetime to live I would dedicate it to reforming the criminal "justice" system.  But I have to deal with this life's passion now.

So the primary answer?  We work together to keep kids from ever entering foster care.

If they end up there, we do everything we can to see the put in a healthy permanent alternative family.

We don't let them age out -- either by not letting them enter, or by adopting them before they reach 18.

Maybe you see why I live, think and breathe Vision 30 from when I awaken until I go to bed, and sometimes even in my sleep.