Kindess Above Malice {for Kameron}

This morning I saw a story on The Early Show that broke my heart. Another piece on someone’s precious child taking their own life because of bullies.

It cuts me to the core.

I want you to look at this boy. His name is Kameron. He was Kevin and Wanda Jacobsen’s beautiful son.

Look at that smile … that devilish sort of teenage smirk. Without even knowing him, I’d bet he was the kind of kid all parents hope for …  fun to be around, playful, full of love.

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He was tortured—verbally and physically—by some classmates, once to the point of being hospitalized. And after he couldn’t take the abuse any longer, he called it quits in a very final way. I just can’t bring myself to say it in plainer terms.

And it makes me wonder:

what the #$! are we teaching our kids?

In this era of

“we’d-better-start-T-ball-by-age-4-or-he-won’t-make-the-pros” and

“when-should-I-enroll-my-toddler-in-a-French-immersion-class?” and

“does he or she have the right clothes or the right shoes or the right [whatever] …”

are we forgetting the most important—the most important, people!—lessons, like be kind, show compassion, use your words carefully, and treat people with respect?

In this world where shades of grey are everywhere, do we remember that there is a difference between what is right and what is wrong?

Are we teaching our children that every one of us is precious and our differences make us that way: it doesn’t matter if we’re long and lean or short and stout, our hair is curly, straight, spiked, or with a streak of blue in it. Whether we like sports, or art, or music, or simply just hanging out.

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Are we telling them that above all, we expect them to conduct themselves with kindness, and fairness, and that we’d be disappointed with them if they made someone cry or feel badly about themselves?

Or are we so concerned with other things that we’re forgetting the simple, basic, and golden rules? Generosity of heart, to me, is more important than straight A’s, a starring role, or making varsity. I bet it is to you, too.

My son knows that I don’t like words like fat or ugly because they serve no other purpose than to belittle someone. He also knows that while he can hate a hot dog, the color pink, or the smell of dirty socks, the term is never to be used with people. He gets it: even at 5 years old.

And on the flip side, are we arming our kids with the knowledge that they may run into someone someday who says something mean, but that they have the right

not to believe it!

People can say whatever they like, but it doesn’t mean it’s true. If you tell them often enough, they’ll remember when they need to.

Please, let’s all think about what we’re emphasizing to our children … what lessons we really want them to embrace. The ones that will benefit them for all time, not just first, second, sixth, or ninth grade.

Kindness above all. Let’s reassess, and honor Kameron.

To read more about KAM: Kindness Above Malice, the foundation Kameron’s parents established in their son’s name, please click here.

Light Dawns {On Marble Head}

There are times when I think so hard on a topic that I can’t see the simple answer right in front of me. Something about the forest through the trees, right?

All spring, I’ve really struggled with what I wanted this little light to be. I’ve read so many wonderful blogs over the past year: ones that catered to the closet interior designer in me{meaning that I like to decorate, not that I’d want to specialize in where you hang your hat}, ones that have encouraged me, ones that have shared fun and yummy simple recipes {oh, how I love simple}, and ones that have appealed to my deep love of my Catholic faith {among others}.

And all that loveliness confused me, and started me own a road of doubting what I had to offer. Could I even compare to what these gals contributed to the blogosphere? So I took a step back, prayed on it, and figured my purpose would make itself clear to me at some point.

How often do we women do that? Compare what we bring to the world to another person’s contribution, and believe that we fall short—simply because they do what they do well? Why do we do that?

And then I realized that my answer was right there in my tagline: embracing the joy in the everyday.

It’s a miracle sometimes how the little things can literally save us. It saved me. Even in what may seem your darkest night, allowing yourself to feel the joy of the tiniest, most seemingly mundane thing can make the difference between merely existing and truly persevering.

So I’m not going to apologize when my posts range from the smell of a lawn being mowed to the way I love the quiet of mornings to an afternoon Mass among stained glass to the latest ridiculous-but-beautiful conversation I’ve had with The Boy to a frog in my backyard {yes, that one’s coming}.

Because that’s what tll is about.

It’s not brain surgery, and it’s not really life-changing.

It’s just a simple reminder that when you’re caught up in the craziness of life and feeling overwhelmed {and like a good prayer is needed}, there’s simple joy around you: you just need to look around and take it in.

I’ll share what makes my heart sing, and hope it lifts yours as well. In my own voice, which may not be like those I admire, but it’s every inch mine and I’m going to let it be heard.

Joy is there, babe.

Even when you wish it weren’t. Even when you’re not ready for it. It’s there.

Embrace it.

Nothing Left but Everything : A Recovering from Stillbirth Story

Early morning, on March 24, 2004, I asked God to take me. I had had enough.

I was lying in a Boston hospital bed. My exhausted husband sat in a chair by my side, finally catching a few moments of sleep after a long and emotionally crippling night.

We’d arrived at the hospital the evening before, shortly before 8 o’clock, for what we’d figured would be just a quick-check-to-make-sure-everything-was-okay. I was 5 months pregnant, on bed rest, and I’d felt gentle back pains for a while that afternoon. I’d thought nothing of it really, but figured that going in to be sure was our best bet.

The twist that night took cut me to the core. I’m so sorry, the doc said as she finished her exam. You’re 10 centimeters. With that, a voice came up and out of me like I’d never known. Despair. After years of trying to conceive, surely this was not the cruel way our first children would enter the world. No. No. No. No. No.

I pushed and delivered two tiny but perfectly formed baby girls. One already gone. One seconds away from it. Our children had been born and died in the same hour.

I had suffered the tragedy of stillbirth, and I wanted to know why.

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My heart was so shattered I couldn’t bear it. It felt easier to die, and so I wished—while my husband slept by my side—that that would be so. But of course your heart never gives out when you want it to. It continues to beat despite its brokenness, and through God’s grace, you persevere. But why?

I questioned that for years, and in the meantime, He sent pieces of joy to sustain me.

The first full day after I got home, I woke up and stood beside my bedroom window. Looking down into our flower garden, I spotted the most persistent little rodent: a squirrel who worked his way diligently up a stronger-than-usual tulip stem to have breakfast. You should have seen that little guy hold on. Yes, he was taking the head right off one of my gorgeous flowers, but something in his spirit made me smile, even if that little act felt so painful.

But why?

I had a husband who held my hand through the whole mess of starting over. A guy who found the strength among his own heartbreak to make me laugh and bring me joy. I came home from errands on the day before I was to start back at work after my “maternity” leave to find a new wardrobe for the occasion. God’s grace through my very loving man.

And of course, just over two years later, He sent me a son. The greatest gift.

But through it all, I struggled with and kept questioning why that had happened. What had I not learned in my lifetime that I needed to bear that cross, too. How had I personally grown from that experience?

And finally—just recently—I got the answer I’ve been hoping for. It’s so beautifully put by author Joanna Weaver in her book, “Having a Mary Heart in A Martha World”:

“God wraps up my good with your good and the good of both of us with the good of others. The plot lines of our individual stories weave together to form his master plan. Nothing is wasted. Nothing is left out.”

So this year, as I reach the 7-year-mark of my journey of faith, I celebrate a very long but fruitful healing process. I feel alive. This day no longer torments me or makes me feel as though I’ve been punished. I can now think of what happened and not have my heart crumble.

I feel blessed and honored to have known those two precious beings. Happy that I was chosen to carry them for their brief stay.

And I can say now, without one doubt, that that event had purpose: however He chooses to weave it together for the greater good is fine by me.

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