Saturday, November 30, 2013

Go Through the Gate

Go to the end of the path until you get to the gate. Go through the gate and head straight out towards the horizon. Keep going towards the horizon. Sit down and have a rest every now and again, but keep on going. Just keep on with it. Keep on going as far as you can. That's how you get there. Michael Leunig

Janine Roberts is courageous, giving and inspirational. Her email updates tell of her struggles and triumphs living in Zimbabwe. She is Tim’s cousin and has been helping Zimbabweans get their basic needs met for almost ten years.

Her most recent Project Hope newsletter was a plea to help with nutrition and medical costs for children in the Fairfield Children’s Home where she lives and works. Although hopeful, I could read between the lines and “hear” Janine’s struggles.

Two years ago, Janine met one-year-old twins, Abigal and Grace in an orphanage. Their mother died during childbirth and the father took them to the social welfare office when they were only five days old. He said he was too old to care for them. Janine was told by the social worker that they were severely malnourished causing them to be suffering developmentally.

One week later, the father consented to have Janine adopt them. The following Friday she took the girls home and she began adoption proceedings.

The authorities removed the girls from her home 10 months ago because of missing paperwork. The current law says that Zimbabwean children can only be adopted by Zimbabwean citizens or permanent residents. In the years she has been there Janine has only been able to get a temporary visa permit.

The Fairfield Children’s Home where Janine works, is housing the children. Although she spends time with them everyday, she must say goodbye to them during the evening. Janine is hoping that her visa gets renewed in January. If not, she hopes to work in nearby South Africa so that she can visit the girls often. She said, “Although we do not have a paper to legally make us a family, Abigal and Grace are my daughters and I will always support them in every way I can.”

Today’s gift was to give money to support Janine in her work. I can’t even imagine the hardships that she faces everyday. Hopefully, the path will lead to the open gate that will allow her to formally adopt the beautiful and loving twin girls.

In Giving,


Friday, November 29, 2013

Skating Through Life

The sound of rustling of leaves just off of the right side of the pavement caught my attention. When I turned to look, the sound had moved a short distance to my right. I couldn’t make out what was hiding behind the bushy pine tree. I bent down, leaned forward and caught a glimpse of the white of an eye. I moved slightly to my right and could see two big eyes.

Then I heard something lumbering through the trees to the left of the two eyes. I could distinguish the top of a head, about the same height as me. It looked as though it was limping, as it bobbed up and down between the low hanging tree branches. At that point I wasn’t sure if I should get out of there really fast or wait to confront whatever monster may be lurking.

The eyes moved toward the top of the head and I caught a glimpse of a white t-shirt. It was a little boy! And the lumbering head was his grandmother teetering over uneven ground. The little boy grabbed on to his grandmothers pant leg. I said, “Hello.” For a split second both of them just stared at me from head to toe. Then the grandmother said, “Those sure are interesting things on your feet.” The little boy, seeing that I wasn’t the monster that I thought he was, let go of his grandmother and moved a little closer to get a better look.

Now, I understood. Grandma and the little boy had never seen Land Rollers. I described that they are a more stable version of Roller Blades even though they each only have two wheels. The large back wheels are angled to create more thrust when I push off. The eight-time Olympic Speed Skating medalist Apolo Ohno demonstrates the skates in a video on the Land Roller website. I went on to explain that the wheels are very forgiving when I roll over uneven pavement or hit little rocks or debris in the road.

The little boy finally spoke, “I went ice skating yesterday. It was only the second time I’ve ever been and and and I was really good. I could skate to the center of the ice rink!” I told him he must be really good. As I skated off I was reminded how important it is for little kids, as well as big kids, to see and hear about new and different things.

Today’s gift was to take time out from rollerblading and talk to the little boy and his grandmother, instead of just continuing on my way. Who knows, maybe this little boy, inspired by what he had seen and heard, will one day be skating through life and become the next Apolo Ohno.

In Giving and Blading,

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Helping Kids Help Kids

In 1992, a baby boy named Michael Leeland was diagnosed with leukemia. He needed a $200,000 bone marrow transplant. Without it, he would die within a few weeks. Jeff and Kristi, Michael's parents, couldn't afford it on his teaching salary and their medical insurance wouldn’t cover it.
That's when Dameon, a 325 pound 7th grader, who was the most picked-on kid in school, emptied his bank account. One day he came to school and handed Jeff 12 five-dollar-bills to help save Michael's life.

A bank account was started with Dameon's $60. Inspired by his donation, other students and the community got involved. In less than four weeks, kids raised over $227,000 for Michael's life-saving transplant with the bone marrow donated by his brave, seven-year-old sister Amy.

Dameon the outcast became Dameon the hero! He helped others experience what can happen when compassion, generosity, and integrity are put into action. Michael’s father, Jeff, used left over money to start Sparrow Clubs USA, a national organization that enables kids to help children in medical need. Today, Michael Leeland is a compassionate 21-year-old young man. He is active in Sparrow Clubs within his community.

Sparrow Clubs’ belief is that kids will do heroic things when they have heroic things to do. They are the nation’s only youth-based charity that provides financial and emotional support for critically ill children and their families by empowering kids to help kids. Sparrow Clubs is changing how young people perceive themselves and the world around them.
Mazama High School, in our local community, has adopted a Sparrow named Nikko. His mother’s anemia during pregnancy resulted in him being born at 26 weeks on August 14, 2013, weighing only 2 lbs. 4 oz. He has had five blood transfusions and surgery to repair a hole in his intestine. The goal was for him to go home for the first time today, Thanksgiving.

Today’s gift was to give money to help Nikko and his family. It is inspiring to see an organization teaching children about philanthropy—helping kids help kids in need.

In Giving,
Robin the Sparrow

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Grumpy Gratitude

To celebrate Thanksgiving my morning meditation inspired me to be thankful. It’s easy to think of positive blessings like my husband, family, friends, enough food, comfortable home, etc. Instead, I listed things from A to Z that make me grumpy. Then I challenged myself to write why I’m thankful for the life lesson that each of these irritations teaches me.

Anger helps me work through the issue and get over it.
Boredom causes me to break through the monotony so that I can strive to reach my goals.
Corruption teaches me to be mindful of staying safe.
Demeaned is initially hurtful, but then I focus on my strengths and become stronger.
Evil people are a challenge for me to not return evil for evil. Instead, I grow when I forgive them for their bad behavior.
Fraudulent behavior encourages me to turn inward and ask, “Am I being true to myself.”
Gruesome things make me turn my head away and then peek through my fingers. I feel satisfaction when I push myself out of my comfort zone.
Humiliation humbles me to be clear about my values.
Immoral people help me focus on those I love who are role models for high moral standards.
Jealousy is an emotion that I don’t understand. When I see it displayed by others, I appreciate that I don’t feel it.
Killing and death make me sad. Intellectually I understand that it happens in life. I accept it, because I have to.
Lying, dishonest, insincere, untruthful, two-faced people are very difficult for me to give them grace. It does show me what I don’t want to be and how I don’t want to act.
Mean people must be put on this earth so I can have caring, kind and compassion “knights in shining armors” rescue me from the meanness.
Nasty smells and offensive odors help me appreciate the sweet smell of flowers, turkey baking in the oven and pine trees.
Offensive people make my defenses stronger.
Petty complaints cause me to appreciate the small things in life.
Quixotic people challenge me to imagine what could be possible and not dismiss it as foolishly impractical.
Rudeness brings out the sweetest southern accent that I can muster by “killing them with kindness.”
Shame forces me to “own” my faults and idiosyncrasies and not feel ashamed by my shortcomings.
Tiredness frustrates me because my mind thinks I’m still 35 years old, but my body tells me to use finesse instead of brute force.
Untrustworthy and Untruthful makes me try that much harder to be a faithful, trusting friend and confidant.
Vulgar manners by others cause me to be thankful that my parents taught me good manners.
Wrath when directed at me causes me to go into my shell, but when I emerge, I am stronger for I realize that hurting people hurt people.
eXpectations for myself are high and I hope the same of others. If they fall short, it gives me an opportunity to mentor them to achieve higher standards.
Yes men or Yes women are difficult for me to understand because I want to hear peoples’ real opinions. It teaches me that I need to encourage them to standup for their beliefs.
Zoning-out irritates me as it occurs more often as I get older. It encourages me to take time for reflection and prayer so that I can stay focused during critical times.

My gift for today is giving thanks to my blog readers for your support in “liking” and commenting on my posts. I give you my Grumpy Gratitude list as a guide to create your own.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Bucket Full

Perched on top of my head was my Santa Claus hat. Over my red coat I was wearing a red apron emblazoned with the slogan, “I am a bell ringer.” The volunteer job seemed easy enough—just say Merry Christmas to everyone who walked past me.

My Salvation Army Red Kettle training was brief. I would be working at the local department store for my two-hour shift. I’m not sure if the explanation about the bucket locking mechanism was meant to deter me from taking off to Mexico with the treasure or so I could rest assured that the bucket was safe from thieves.

It seemed as if I had green spinach stuck between my teeth or something hanging from my nose because the passersby’s shoes seemed really interesting to them. Almost as much as the nonexistent spot on the floor in front of them.

I challenged myself to say something to make them look me in the eye. I would compliment them on their coat, hat, gloves or even their screaming child or mangy pooch. Sometimes their gaze would move from their shoes to mine, but rarely did they make eye contact with me, let alone deposit money into the bucket. Even people I knew seemed to have amnesia!

I daydreamed that someone would put a gift in the bucket like some of the others I had heard about:
·      A mysterious gold coin had been anonymously dropped in the bucket in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania every year since 1996, totaling almost $10,000 over the years.
·      A Wisconsin bell ringer found a gold coin in his red kettle valued at $1,600.
·      In a kettle in Miami a diamond and sapphire ring was wrapped in a $50 bill with a note inside: "They need more than I. Do good! A Friend."

Today’s gift was to put a donation in the little red bucket, look the bell ringer in the eye and thank him for volunteering his time. May others be inspired to give money, smile at Santa’s helper and wish them a Merry Christmas.
In Giving and Ringing in the Season,