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Update on Hope

I have gotten several requests for an update on Hope. Soon we will be heading back to school, Hope will be a Junior this year. This image is from last fall, and will be doing some more in the coming weeks. We are so blessed with the young woman that she has become. Thank you for following her story, hopefully it can give you hope in your own.



World Prematurity Day

Today is World Prematurity Day! On this day I am recalling with gratitude all of those who supported us throughout the time of Hope's birth. It was a time of great uncertainty and so many held us in prayer, extended gifts and acts of kindness. For the care we received from the medical and surrounding community we will be forever grateful.

First Hold - Christmas Day 1996

Hope was born the day before Thanksgiving and this photo is of the first time I was able to hold her, Christmas Day 1996. One month which seemed like an eternity. A month that was made much more bearable due to the love, support and care that we received.

Today, I am honored to be able to support others who find themselves in the same situation by rocking at the Sanford NICU.

Each week when they entrust me to hold in my arms another preemie, I am reminded of this very first hold and what that meant to me.

Thank you to all those who care for these precious little ones, for your work truly makes a world of difference in the lives of their families.


Bullying....a cry for help? Are we listening?

Shots rang out once again today in an American high school, as a student chose to turn to violence against his fellow classmates, killing at least one and injuring several others. Yet, many times they only choose to harm themselves. While we don't yet have the details on this latest tragedy, it is becoming a scenario that plays out several times a year across our country, each time my heart sinks for all families, students, teachers and administrators involved.

What is it that is pushing students to these lengths? Initial reports indicate that once again, bullying was likely a root cause. This isn't the first time we have seen this play out as such, but what is being done about bullying? Many schools struggle with generating a comprehensive policy, and those with the policies in place don't always do a great job of enforcing them. In today's world, with these types of headlines becoming all too common, the stance that "kids will be kids" is one we just can no longer afford to take.

My question punishing the "Bully" the answer? A quote that I believe I heard on Oprah, although I am not certain of its origin, is that only "hurt people, hurt people." If that is true, and I believe it to be so, bullying really appears to be a cry for help, from a being who is feeling less than whole. Much has been said about the lives of those who act out in violence against their bullies, but what do we really hear about the bullies themselves and the world which they live in.

Are mom and dad just not there enough, show them enough affection, are they just insecure in themselves, feeling lost or not fitting in, or perhaps are being overshadowed by a sibling? Are they just not getting the love and attention they need to feel whole? Why do they feel the need to act out? Is it the only mechanism they know to feel less broken? The shattered light bulb needing to break the one still shining and whole?

Frankly, some bullying behavior is simply learned. You guessed it, bullies grow up to become....Bullies. But that isn't always the case. So, the question begs, how do we strive to be whole and nurture wholeness in the children of America? Again, it begins at home, with YOU.

As parents and adults, swirling in a vortex of "busy-ness" of life, we rarely take the time to look at our own lives to determine how we are feeling. Do you find joy in your life, your work, your spirit, your outside activities, friends and relationships? We know how it is, when everything seems to be going right in your world, virtually nothing can sway you from that positive feeling, but when you are dissatisfied with any aspect of your life, or just having a bad day, it can take something miniscule to set you off, totally change the trajectory of your day.

You see, it is by example that we most effectively teach. We teach our children about the world, about dreaming and doing, and living and loving, but how do we teach them to deal with stress, conflict resolution and perspective?

I try to teach my children to see bullies as being "broken." To have pity on them for they are trying to fill up the cracks in their brokenness, by hurting others. Knowing that their actions will never truly fill up that emptiness they feel inside. To have perspective on what their lives might be like, where they are not feeling loved or appreciated, and the jealousy they may feel toward the unbroken.

That doesn't mean they should sit back and silently resign to live with bullying, it just sheds some light on the brokenness in the world. Hopefully inspiring future generations to better understand how to strive for wholeness in their lives. Wholeness which cannot be filled by material goods, food, drugs, alcohol, or the abuse of others.


What if Responsibility, Respect and Resilience were the new Reading, Writing and Arithmetic?

As students hurry back to school and my own daughters are diving in to their 8th grade and Freshman year of high school, I am reminded of a little informal survey that I conducted a few years ago. Polling teachers I knew and encouraging them to share with other teachers as well, I wondered.... If you could teach your students anything, without concern for regulation or requirements, what would that be? What are the lessons that would be most beneficial to them as they being their journey though life?

While the poll was highly unscientific, I think the responses were priceless.

"I want my kids to know compassion and what it means to think about other people before they act.  I want them to be life long learners and be able to think for themselves and love doing it.  I hope that my students develop and continue to have a passion for knowledge and thrive on the quest it takes to get there." ~ Idaho teacher

"Lessons in listening for starters.   Lessons in questioning.  Lessons in conflict resolution." ~ Montana teacher

"Don't be afraid to try something new. We learn from failure. Failure is a positive thing, when we learn something from it." ~ North Dakota teacher

And one of my favorite from a North Dakota teacher....

"I feel that people need to learn how to maintain a positive attitude no matter what the situation.  There are going to be an overwhelming number of times in a person's life when everything will seem to fall apart but maintaining an attitude that allows you to see the silver lining in the situation will allow you to intern maintain hope.  And that hope for something better in life will inevitably allow you to see the doors of opportunity that you didn't know where there in front of you.  Being a positive person will lead to wonderful things - most of them on a small, day to day basis but all of those small blessings will add to a beautiful life."

I am grateful to all of those hard working teachers out there, striving to make this world a better place, and our children better people. As those of us venture on our own journey though life, perhaps we too can learn from these teachers and discover those small blessings we are given each day.

Remember that you too, are a powerful teacher, not only in your words, but in the example of the life you live. Go out there and be positive, count your blessings and create a beautiful life!


Jane! Get me off this crazy thing!

We all remember that part of the show, George Jetson who started out taking dear old Astro out for a walk on the space treadmill, winds up alone, frantic and calling for Jane's help. All while Astro who was smart enough to just take one step to the side and remove himself from the situation watches smugly as George struggles.

So reason asks, why does George keep on, doesn't he know safety is just a side-step away? It was so simple that Astro figured it out, so why couldn't George? We can learn a lot from dear old Astro.

Sometimes we get stuck....unable to free ourselves from the treadmill of life which seems as though it has spun out of control. Being busier than ever, with work, home, kids, that we can sometimes lose site of ourselves, or the escape hatch that might be as simple as saying "no" to one thing and stepping to the side and allowing another to take your place on the treadmill. Even for just one event, or one day.

In the panic, all we can see is the belt of the treadmill moving more and more quickly, losing sight of your Astro even still here? If not, then what am I still doing here? Is it habit? Sometimes when you have done something for so long, or repeatedly, it is hard to see yourself in anything but that role. But the past doesn't have to dictate today or the future. What is important is that you hold the key, you can, take that step to the side and get off this crazy thing.

So many of us get caught up on our own treadmills, and they look different for everyone:

  • everyone's problem solver
  • mediator
  • peacemaker
  • nurturer
  • fire-fighter
  • rescuer
  • enabler
  • can't say "no" to anything
  • super volunteer
  • teacher
  • dieter
  • dutiful employee

And when you have played that role before, or are good at it, it is hard not to get sucked into it. Don't get me wrong, all of those are good thing, necessary in fact... in moderation. The problem is, when we identify ourselves almost exclusively as one of those things in the same old patterns, and it keeps us stuck from growing. The problem with treadmills are that you don't actually get anywhere.

Burning Down the House?

If the same fire truck returned to the same house every day, to put out a little fire in a garbage can, it wouldn't be long before someone was having a discussion with the homeowner about fire prevention. So, why in other parts of our lives is it so difficult to focus on the fire prevention so that we can get off the treadmill of fighting those daily fires and make ourselves available to bigger challenges, ones that we are called to fight.

If you quit running to the garbage can fire, will that house, block, neighborhood go up in flames? Probably not, and if it does, you can't hold yourself forever responsible. Sometimes the smoke rising from the garbage can is a signal for the need for change or for someone else to step in.

A project doesn't get done, someone else has to pitch in, an event needs to be cancelled, it happens. Just because you might not see how it can all work out, resolutions or utter happiness for everyone on the horizon, doesn't mean it isn't there. People pitch in, adjust their schedules, or are maybe even relieved when a cancellation call comes. 

In reality, no one is indispensible. People move on, people die every day, leaders arise, change happens. And while not always easily, life goes on. Sometimes thrives in the process.

We all have choices to make, Astro chose his, what do you choose?