Graduates

On yesterday evening, I paused action on my “productivity” list and decided to attend a graduation program that celebrates youth in foster care.  I was completely unsure that I would see anyone there that I knew (and sure enough, I knew NONE of the graduates) and I had no significant emotional ties to any of the staff and guests.  I only knew that I wanted to be a part of the celebration that honored these young people.  Here are some of the things I observed and appreciated:

  1. Not only were graduates honored, but so were their caregivers (foster parents, program supervisors, social workers, counselors, etc).
  2. A spoken word artist’s encouragement to embrace and share your story, no matter what it is.
  3. A reminder that all things (good and bad) work together to our ultimate good, to our ultimate shaping.
  4. That attitude is important…the attitude we choose to adopt and daily live by affects us. To my current memory, Stephen Covey referred to it as “our own internal weather.”

My fellow readers, some of these young people have faced horrors from which a lot of us were spared, but they chose to become focused and finish school.  Among them were scholarship recipients to well-known colleges, husbands and wives who’d already started families, teen business owners, singers, artists, and those who are still trying to figure out the next step.  The point:  they made it to this point, they achieved that goal and by God, they will continue to soar and achieve more.  I did not know any of them personally but I’m incredibly proud of each of them and was honored to have been in their presence.  In the words of Dr. John C. Maxwell, remember that “Change is inevitable.  Growth is optional.”  Choose growth.  Hats off to all graduates and the next step in this journey called life.

#fostercare   #ittakesavillage   #youth    #focus   #graduates   #Johncmaxwell

The Inspiration of A Child

I’ve never heard or seen this quote before, at least not to my memory, but it is literally what happens for me when I interact with a darling…especially with respect to my children that I meet as a Guardian Ad Litem.  For a few seconds, there’s no one in my world but them.  I put on the back burner the darkness(es) they’ve faced and I see them for who they are and for who they can become.  And…it catches me off guard every time.  Gotta respect the kiddos!

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“When I approach a child, he inspires in me two sentiments — tenderness for what he is and respect for what he may become.” Louis Pasteur, French chemist and microbiologist

#children  #advocacy  #child

“Children are the messages we send to a time we will not see.” – John W. Whitehead

Richness of Life

Today, I attended a homegoing celebration, also known as a funeral, for someone beloved.  He was my sister’s father, a guy I’ve known since before she was born, and someone who was genuine.  I’ve always loved the fact that he was forthright.  He loved deeply and could be a little gruff, but he never hesitated to be himself.  In doing so, his sincerity touched a lot of people, as evidenced by the remarks at the funeral.  I also found that he’d served on the trustee board at his church.  He truly was an involved and beloved person.  Doesn’t mean he was without his faults; it simply means that he used his time to love on people and to live with purpose.

A part of the program stated that you’d often find him reading the newspaper and listening to gospel music, loudly, which brought about a chuckle from many, to include myself.  I realized that he lived the advice to “be where you are.”  Further, because of the wonderful people I met or was reacquainted with today, I feel my life has been further enhanced because my path crossed his path 40 years ago and because of my sister, our paths have remained crossed.  As I reflect, I hold to the fact that we can choose to define the richness of life on so many factors other than money.  The quality of the people with whom we form and maintain relationships can help determine our emotional and mental wealth.  Let us strive to have our richness be to our benefit, and not to our detriment.  To reach the mountaintop and be alone or to be surrounded only by those who want something from you is an unenviable position.  Let’s strive to surround ourselves with quality people.  Not perfect people, for they don’t exist, but people who enrich our lives and leave us wanting to be a better version of our former selves.

“A Voice for the Voiceless”

An opportunity for volunteerism:  Become a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) or CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), depending on the state in which you live. 
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“A Guardian ad Litem Volunteer is..
Being told you’re the only intelligent person involved and the only one who understands.
Being told you’re just as stupid as everyone else involved is, and to mind your own business.
Having a fifteen-year-old ask for a hug.
Having a fourteen-year-old ask if he could live with you if he runs away.
Being endlessly exposed to colds, flu, colds, strep, colds, chicken pox, colds, pink eye, colds.
Meeting some of the extraordinary people who are foster parents.
Being slobbered on by a zillion dogs and cats.
Losing your car in the parking lot for the fifth time in a month.
Spending dozens of hours talking to dozens of people to get ready for trial and then settling out of court on the first day.
Waiting for people to return your phone calls.
Having a hearing start on time—the one time you’re late.
Having a six-year-old call and say, “Why haven’t you come to visit me? Did the judge fire you?”
Discovering places in the county you never knew existed.
Getting phone calls saying, “Thank you.”
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Brief program description:  When a petition alleging abuse or neglect of a juvenile is filed in district court, the judge appoints a volunteer Guardian ad Litem advocate and an attorney advocate to provide team representation to the child, who has full party status in trial and appellate proceedings. All Guardian ad Litem advocates are trained, supervised, and supported by program staff in each county of the state. The collaborative models of GAL attorney advocates, volunteers, and staff tries to ensure that all children who are alleged by the Division of Social Services to have been abused or neglected receive GAL legal advocacy services.

“Be Seriously Disturbed”

For 2018, I am rereading Pastor Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional and decided to share one that was particularly thought provoking from a few weeks ago, as it promotes a call to action BY YOU, whether it be via community volunteerism, advocating for a cause via your job, church, or wherever the opportunity arises.

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“One key to discovering your destiny is to identify the needs that stir your heart. What is it that upsets you? What causes you to think, “Somebody ought to do something about that”?

Whatever it is, that is the key to your destiny. My wife, Kay, calls it being seriously disturbed. Why? Because, it bothers you so much that it moves you to action. Is there anything that disturbs you or is your life so insulated that nothing makes you say, “Somebody ought to do something about that”?

Here is a homework assignment: Make a list of the needs you see that disturb you. Then pray and ask God to show you ways you can use your gifts to make a difference.”

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For me, it remains advocating for children who have been abused and/or neglected.  It’s something I’ll never understand and I’ll never stop fighting against.  My newest “disturbance” is childhood food insecurity in America.  It’s a larger problem than I initially thought.  I’m looking forward to making some level of impact in 2018.

What about you?  Share your “disturbance” and your plan of action!  It may not be something global, it may be something simple…and that’s ok. The goal is to set a goal to make a difference, whether it be in the home, in the community, in the country, or in the world.

A Thought on Personal Commitment

He who has done his best for his own time has lived for all times.” -Johann von Shiller, Playwright. Another quote I’ve borrowed from Dr. John Maxwell’s book, The 21 Indispensable Qualities of A Leader.

When I read it, I thought to myself, “That can be a definition of success…to have done your best for your own time, the time in which you lived and had an opportunity to impact people.” You know where this mindset stems from?…Commitment! Yep, commitment is key, for it can manifest in various ways, from the productive work hours we maintain, to self-improvement goals, to sacrifices we make for team members, family, and etc. Commitment isn’t entirely selfless, for in the long run, we find that as we commit to do the best that we can with the time, energy, and resources we have, we ourselves are greatly impacted and blessed. Our reach goes beyond our time.

Have you ever transitioned positions or jobs and later heard from prior team members that you are missed because_______ or they learned ______ from you and are using that to make a difference? Often, these little but consistent examples of commitment seem miniscule, but like children, little acts can have a huge impact. Therefore, I encourage you to continue with commitment, for though at times it seems to be moot, insignificant, or mundane, it has the opportunity to make a difference somehow, somewhere, to someone. Michelangelo never knew that his reluctant agreement to commit to paint a depiction on the Sistine Chapel would evolve into a masterpiece and proceed to bless millions of people over the centuries. You don’t know how your commitment will proceed to bless countless others and I encourage you not to dwell on that. Instead, dwell on doing the best you can with the time, energy, and resources at your disposal, and have that which you do be genuine, your actions be consistent, and your heart be at peace. Tootles!

#Commitment #Influence

Purpose

“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”  Dante Alighieri

Let’s face it:  We are part of the problem OR we are part of the solution.  Ponder which side you are on in the present and which side you will choose in the future.  Ponder…and then take action.

#purposefulpursuits  #livingwithpassion  #livingwithpurpose  #makeadifference  #purpose