Parents on the bleachers…
On the bleachers of sports stands all around our great nation one will find a great variety of people. People who before the game look tame, kind, and reapectable. Then the game begins and with each questionable call from the officials little by little the self control fades away and one will see the gentleman or the crazed parent, the fan, or the coaching parent, the quiet parent who watches, and the supportive, nervous parent. There are mad, vengeful parents, as well as kind understanding parents. However, the most interesting factor is how the athlete seems to have the attitude of his/her parent, negative or positive. Except for the athlete that would rather disown their embarrassing obnoxious parent. The gloves come off in the stands all around this nation.
What type of parent are you before the bleachers, during the game, and after the game? What type do you want to be? You can break those habits and form new healthy habits that your children may pass on to their children.
My daughter just read “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” for her Freshmen English class. I have started the book and it is very well written. She told me I really needed to read it because it is about poverty and social justice. The main character’s family is extremely poor. Without giving away too much of the story the only factor able to lift this family from the deprivations of poverty is education. I teach this same lesson to my students when teaching the Catholic Social Theme of “Option for the poor and vulnerable.” If you listened to Pope Francis during his visit to the United States or have followed him at all, then you know how important the poor and vulnerable are to him and to our church. Those who cannot provide the basic necessities of life for themselves or their families need to be helped. It is our responsibility as followers of Jesus Christ that no one go without the basic necessities of life.
Pope Francis talks often about how the abuse of the environment hurts the poor and vulnerable the most. He is so right. My son, who is a junior, just took a fieldtrip to another part of our city, to expose him to the abuse of our environment by local companies. He was able to see coal, ash, and limestone piled so high that they could not see the Ohio River on the other side of it. Then he explained to me how that same ash is blown all around that area causing health related issues to the people living in the adjacent neighborhoods. These people are poor and have no option to leave. The companies realize no one there is going to fight them, they don’t have the money to take on the legal system of this giant company, so they keep up these terrible practices to line their wallets.
So, how do people born into poverty overcome this cruel cycle that turns into generation after generation of poor? There is one answer that is proven time and time again with statistics, antidotes, and witnessed by so many. The answer is education. If a person does not succumb to the stifling hopelessness of their situation, and are not influenced completely by the crime, drug dealing, and prostitution, that appears to bring “success” then they will have a fighting chance to get out. If they can concentrate on their education, making school their priority, they can get scholarships to college and obtain a good paying career, allowing them to break that cycle for their own family. The problem is that education is not at the top of the priority list when you don’t have enough food in your belly to keep the headaches away that cause you to become distracted during school. The problem is the envy of those around you that are eating and have money in their wallets but they are committing crimes. The problem is the neglect of that child by a mother who is working three jobs to try to get out of that situation but by doing so never is able to guide her child to a better life.
I recently spoke to a friend of mine from high school. She is now a director at “The Boys and Girls Club” here locally. She did work at a crisis home for children who had been neglected, abused, and were troubled, for thirteen years. She said she feels like what she is doing now is trying to break that cycle of poverty. She makes sure these children and teens have a place to go after school that is healthy, where education is valued, food is offered, and mentors are there to care for them. She remarked that what she does now is try to change the children’s lives so they don’t end up at that crisis home. She is trying to change the social structure and stop that cycle of poverty.
So what can we do? We can be a mentor for these teens. We can take our children and read to the children at the Boys and Girls Clubs. We can donate our money, resources, and time to help these children make education a priority in their lives. We can spread awareness that in order to get out education is the answer. The only answer that really works. I read a story about an inner city school whose teachers talk every single day about college from Kindergarten through high school. So, that those children will be influenced to believe they will go to college, they will succeed, and they will make education the answer to a good and healthy future. Let us do the same with our own resources, attitude, and awareness of this situation. Like Pope Francis says, “Go out, again and again, go out without fear, go out without hesitation. Go out and proclaim this joy which is for all the people.” We must spread the love of God here on earth to all people especially the poor and vulnerable.
Compromise: an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions. How often do we do this in our relationships with our family and friends? Because we love one another we are willing to give for the other.
Today, consider a situation in which you should give for another.
Yesterday, my husband spent what we call a “daddy day of fun” with our youngest children. They were out of school for their fall break. They went to the zoo, out for lunch, followed a blimp, and experimented with candy. There is nothing that compares to time spent with your children, nothing! Try it this weekend!!
I love the change of seasons, every season. I am so content living in Kentucky, where I am able to experience each season. My favorite season is definitely fall. I treasure the colors of the changing leaves, the brisk cool air, the clear blue skies, and wearing jackets. However, I am starting to miss those lazy summer days. Although I did not have many days when I was not studying, writing a paper, or attending classes. There were a few lazy days spent with my family, watching my children fishing. I don’t miss the warm air, I just miss spending a lazy day with my family. Being off during the summertime is one of the best benefits of teaching. Another is being off during Christmas and Spring Break. I am ready to just be lazy with my family again, whether we are fishing, bike riding, or just enjoying a movie night together.
I have been taking courses to earn a Master’s Degree in Religious Education for the past two and a half years now. It is not an easy program and it requires many hours of dedication. I read and interpert, answer indepth questions, pray, go to classes, and write long indepth research papers at the end of each course. I really did not realize the extent of how much time this program would take from my life. However, as a former mentor of mine once said, “you can never make a mistake with education. Education is always an investment worth making.” He was right. I am learning so much more than I ever thought possible. I turn around and teach my students what I am learning. What I learn is more than history, and theories. It is taking the Catholic Religion, the Paschal Mystery, the sacraments, and all the traditions out of a building and applying them to every day life, meeting people where they are and welcoming them into a relationship with God.
It does take time, dedication, and hours that I would rather be spending with my family. My family knows how much I value this education. Honestly, the reason I began this program was to have the credintials to become a teacher and to work professionally within the church. Now, it has made me aware of different perspectives, deepened my understanding, and challenged my faith. I still have two more years before I will graduate but every session I learn more. It doesn’t matter how old you are education is always an investment, a tool to grow, and a way to mature.
I have had the joy of being on junior retreat with my awesome juniors! I teach every junior in our high school and it is a pleasure. They are all so different, some more challenging than others but I can easily see their gifts. On this retreat they are asked to explore the gifts that they have been given. It’s difficult for many of them to acknowledge the gifts that others easily see in them.
They are also exploring their growth from freshmen year to now. How have they grown in their relationship with God and one another? Our lives are so busy, complex, and overloaded that it is very challenging to carve out the time for self-reflection. However, if we don’t take the time to reflect will we know where we are in life? Will we be able to grow? Will we strengthen our relationship with God and in turn others in our lives?
Today, take a little time to reflect on your gifts. Reflect on your growth over the last few years. Are you closer to God or more distance? What has happened that changed that relationship? Has your relationship with others changed as well? Take some time today to have your own small retreat.
This is a picture of Jake after his cross country race was over. He was standing on the sidelines cheering on his team mates as well as the other runners. As a runner I know how important it is to have people cheer a person on in a race. It gives the runner an added boost of energy, and encouragement when they hear the cheering. When a runner thinks they can’t take another step and hears the crowd cheering it’s as though the energy from the crowd takes over their steps. There is nothing like it.
This is how it is in life. We can’t do it alone. We are not meant to be alone. God created us with others. God is a triune God in communion with Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirity. When we are together we have energy and strength. We are meant to be together, encouraging, caring for, and loving one another.
Today, cheer on your teammates, and those you don’t know. Bring the love of God and encouragement to others to lift their spirits and give them energy to run this race we call life.
When I witness a sunset and colors like this streaked across the sky, I always ask, “How can anyone not believe in God?” It is so obvious to me that there must be a creator to behold such beauty in nature. Something had to start it all, create it, and put it in motion. How were we blessed with bodies, souls, and emotions if there was not a God who created each one of us?
I believe, I would stake my life on it! There must a God and if in some people’s eyes that makes me less somehow or naive, then I am fine with that because I know that God is greater than me. I acknowledge that my mind will never understand God’s and I am accepting of my humanity, and praising God’s divinity. I am not too proud to say I believe in something I cannot see, touch, feel, or completely explain, because that is faith pure and simple. I believe, even though I don’t see with my physical eyes, I see God’s presence in nature, my family, and love. Even though I don’t feel the face of God, I feel his warmth in the hugs from my loved ones, and the feelings of acceptance from my prayers. Even though I can’t understand the mind of God, I can understand that I have a purpose in this life because God created me and loved me into being. I don’t have to explain it, I just live it and my life is better, richer, fuller, and filled with service and love of others because of my faith in God.
No one can touch, feel, see, or understand love yet even athiest believe in love! How can anyone explain love? But don’t we all believe in it? God is love!
Call me naive, but I believe and question how anyone doesn’t…