Deep in the Heart

“Everyone would remember Peter for nineteen minutes of his life, but what about the other nine million? Lacy would have to be the keeper of those, because it was the only way for that part of Peter to stay alive. For every recollection of him that involved a bullet or a scream, she would have a hundred others of a little boy splashing in a pond, or riding a bicycle for the first time, or waving from the top of a jungle gym.”  (excerpt from the book Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult)

“If you spent your life concentrating on what everyone else thought of you, would you forget who you really were? What if the face you showed the world turned out to be a mask… with nothing beneath it?”
― Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes

As I have mentioned before in posts, I love to read. Books and I go together like peanut butter and jelly, its just always been that way. I am not a shopper, but you can lose me in a bookstore.

I read a variety of books, and one of my favorite author’s in the fiction category is Jodi Picoult. She writes in a way that really makes you think, her books are not light reading. They deal with heavy, controversial issues. What would you do in their shoes?  You feel empathy for both characters on different sides of the issue, and Jodi raises questions, but doesn’t give a pat dry answer, for sometimes what you may have thought had an easy answer doesn’t.

In her book “Nineteen Minutes” book, a tragedy happens at a High School, a classmate goes on a shooting spree. I know, sadly, that is not fictional at all. But in this book Jodi delves into the heart of a parent, not just the heart of the parents of the victims but the heart of the shooter’s Mom.

There are many poignant scenes throughout the book. In one scene the court session had just taken a break and the Mother of Peter, the shooter, was in tears. Her friend came up to her and she said, “I remember … He used to like peanut butter on the top half of the bread and marshmallow fluff on the bottom. And he could find anything I dropped, my contact lens, an earring, a straight pin – before it got lost permanently. Something still exists as long as there’s someone around to remember it, right?”

My heart ached, yes, I knew I was reading fiction but for some parents out there it is far too real!  I can’t imagine their pain! How can you comprehend that the baby you held in your arms committed such a violent act?

Sometimes I think it is far too easy to say, well that child must have had a horrible parents to have turned out that way! How often do we blame parents for children’s problems, and yes there are times where the parents are very responsible, but it isn’t always black and white like that!

It is also easy to say how the shooter must be a horrible person, but this book also delves into their heart. Yes, again its fiction, but I think it raises something so important. Not everyone that commits an unthinkable act is a cold hearted person, its more complex than that.

Compassion is something that this world can’t have too much of and its not something that is only for those who you think deserve it. For there usually is so much more to the persons story than what you see and know. Everyone was once a child, who rode a bike, or flew a kite and maybe perhaps even ate a sandwich with peanut butter on the top half of the bread and marshmallow fluff on the bottom.

 

 

 

Matters of the Heart

Many stand with  protest signs against abortion, LGBT, religion, war,  and so many other things. We all are very good at finding things to disagree with each other about, right? But if you are thinking that this is a post debating about hot, controversial topics, sorry, its not.

I can be quick to jump in with both feet to engage in a battle of wits, (which doesn’t always end well for me…) But standing up on a soapbox and engaging in a debate over a hot topic  is something that I am much slower about doing.

This post isn’t about the issues that face us, its about the faces that we need to see.

Its about the scared. teenage girl who hides in the school bathroom stall holding a little stick in her hand that has just changed her life!

Its about the runaway who lives on the street, because they are willing to risk the horrors of the street if it means they don’t need to face the horrors at home. The runaway guy or girl, who you may very well march right by with your protest signs.

This post has to do with the homeless guy who you may stumble over if you aren’t looking, as you march on with your signs.

The young soldier out on the battlefield who is like you and me with hopes and dreams that he hopes he lives to see.

We get so caught up in protesting and making our voices heard, that our ears can become closed to the voices that should be heard ringing in our ears.

The voices that cry, “Look at me! Listen to my story. Don’t just throw a label on me.”

We carry signs that talk about valuing the sanctity of life, but what about the sanctity of life outside the womb as well. How much do we value that?

This post isn’t about the issues, its about looking past the issues, into the person’s heart.

Its not just about saying that every life matters, its about showing that all lives matter, because in God’s eyes, ALL lives do!

 

 

Sunday’s Question

Yesterday my post mentioned about a school teaching empathy and compassion, it then went on to talk about the school doing away with recognition of achievements as a way to not make the ones who didn’t win anything feel bad.

As always I enjoyed the comments that followed the post.  In one of the comments, a reader brought up about being predisposed to empathy. I had thought of that before and figured it would be a good question to ask my wonderful readers. Are some people more naturally inclined to be compassionate and empathetic?

Is it something we are born with?

I think of children I have known when working in the daycare and there definitely were those who were more quick to come to the aid of a classmate if they saw them hurt. Those who grew sad, when their classmate was sad, and others who just walked away.

I remember one little girl who showed such a caring heart. I literally had to stop reading in the middle of one story because the poor girl had tears just running down her cheeks!

It was a story about a Mama Duck with 5 baby ducks and the one duck wandered away. The little girl’s bottom lip trembled, crying over the lost ducky.

This little girl was only 2 and 1/2 years old! I would say that is an example of being born with a compassionate spirit!

You often read stories of where children have wanted to donate their money in their piggy bank to a good cause. Children that found ways to raise money for a cause that they cared about and these are young children I am talking about. Yes, you can show children how to be compassionate and have empathy but I think a lot of it naturally comes from their heart.

What do you think? Is it just like each of us being gifted in different areas of studies and some of us being music oriented, while others are very good at sports? Are there those who are more naturally gifted with a compassionate spirit?

We all can show kindness, but do you know some people that seem to have an extra big heart?

 

 

Coming Together!

I was up at the crack of dawn yesterday to watch the sun rise at the ocean. As the beauty once again filled me with awe, I thought of the date. It was 18 years yesterday since “9/11”, a day that so many will never forget. I thought of how many people woke up that morning 18 years ago, perhaps witnessing a brilliant sunrise, and feeling all was right with the world, only to have their world torn apart before the next sunrise!

I thought about how America came together on that horrible day. How differences that had once seemed so big, were now insignificant!

I saw the following quote last night and it struck a chord in me.

69449803_10217477563962427_729556261728681984_n

Yes, I want this America back again! Not only did we come together in America, but the World came together. Other countries embraced us in our dark time, with no thought to what polices we agreed or disagreed on! They were there for us and our hearts were touched.

The following 2 video clips just give a glimpse of how the world reacted. May they touch your heart like they did mine and be a reminder that we are capable of showing love and not discriminating against our differences. Let us make it “9/12” again, before we have another “9/11!”

The following clip doesn’t have to do with “9/11”, but it came up as I was browsing and it made me smile!  Though it may not have happened around “9/11” it shows what this post is about. About coming together and helping out when needed!

Emotions of the Heart

Have you ever been in a situation where you had to give very bad news to someone?

I think of the Doctor’s who so many times have had to give their patients devastating news and I wonder how they do it. I could never be a surgeon, and have to look into someone’s eyes and tell them that their loved one didn’t make it!

These thoughts have gone through my mind before, but especially these last couple days. Yesterday marked 35 years since Nelson, my brother, died. 35 years since we received the phone call that forever changed our lives.

The phone call was devastating for us to receive but yesterday I couldn’t help but think about the one who had to make the phone call. The one who had to call my Dad and tell him that my brother had collapsed with a massive heart attack and died.

My brother was working at Goshen College. He had graduated from it and been hired on to work in the Communications Department. Over the years that my brother was in college my parents and the President of the college had developed a friendship.

I think of the shock and sadness he must of had when he first heard the news about my brother, and then of the dread that filled him knowing he had to call my Dad. I can’t imagine having to be the bearer of news that I knew was going to devastate not only my friend, but their whole family.

I think about the little time that passed between when I answered the phone and he asked for my Dad.  How he probably was wishing he could hang up as he was waiting for my Dad to come to the phone.

My thoughts also went to Nelson’s friends who were with him when he died. The ones who saw him collapse on the field. I can’t imagine their emotions. One minute you are playing a fun game of soccer with your friend and the next minute you are performing CPR on him!

The EMT’s that were called to the scene, my brother worked as a EMT as well, so the guys called to the scene knew him. How agonizing for them to realize that this time they knew the person whose life they were fighting for!

My purpose of writing was not be morbid, for it is so sad, but its real! Its real emotions that so many people went through on May 1st, besides just my family.

So often we can be so caught up in how an experience affects us and we can forget all the others that were affected in various ways. From the friend who first started the CPR to the Dr. who had to make the call to tell them to stop, that nothing more could be done.

How did that Doctor feel when he went home that night. Knowing that a young man’s life had ended. No matter how many times a Doctor has to make that call, it still has to be rough, unless you develop a heart of stone. If he had children, did he hug them a little tighter that night?

My thoughts went to Nelson’s friends who had to go back to the apartment they shared together and see his stuff all around. See all the reminders of him knowing that he would never step through that door again. Having to look into the sad eyes of my brother’s dog, as they cuddled him and their tears fell on his fur.

Seize the day! Cherish the Moments and remember how each day is a gift from God, how are you going to unwrap it?

 

 

 

Another Night …

Another night, another trick, she walks with her head hung low. She wants to get out of this nightmare, but where can she safely go?

Many nights she just goes through the motions, with a heart void of emotions. She has become numb so that she can survive, she tries not to feel and not to think about who she has become.

The brave mask she keeps wearing, has been  worn so many times, it hides the frightened, crying girl inside.

Perhaps the mask she wears now is one that to her has become real. She simply forgets how being real feels.

Why is she involved in the sex trade? The reasons can be many,  but is a reason needed before one shows a heart that cares?

 

These thoughts were brought on by reading an update about a organization that is dear to my heart. Its called, “She’s Somebody’s Daughter”, and its about rescuing woman from the sex trade.  The newsletter said about how they often get told by some people that if the ones involved in the sex trade  really wanted to leave they would just leave. That they have a choice. How do you have a choice when you are a child? How do you have a choice, if you haven’t known anything different due to the kind of life you had growing up?  How do you have a choice if you have no money and nowhere to go?  How do you have a choice when your self-esteem has been beaten so low, that all your courage is gone?

We may not always understand their story, but what keeps hitting me is the thought of why do we think we need to understand before we can care. Everyone needs compassion, and compassion should be freely given! Its not something that should only be shown if you understand every detail of how the person got in the situation that they are in.

We all have unspoken stories in our hearts and sometimes its through the simple act of compassion and listening that the mask can begin to fall, freeing the story inside of us.

 

 

The Stranger’s Touch

The subway was busy as usual. It was the end of the work day and people were rushing to get home. Some had their earbuds on getting lost in the world of music, others were chatting , while others  were busy looking at their phones. No one paid much notice to the lady sitting in the corner, staring out the window.

No one knew her story, and they couldn’t hear the thoughts echoing through her mind. No one knew the pain she had lived through over the years. They didn’t know that she would spend another night alone.  Alone in a house where the memories were around every corner, and in every room. They didn’t know how sometimes in the middle of the night the memories would shatter the silence!

The memories would burst into her mind with no warning and roll down her cheeks, as her heart ached in pain. Then the questions would haunt her by pounding in her brain. The horrible “what if’s and the no-good, “if only’s”!

By this time she knew sleep would be futile and she would sit up in bed, making herself get out from underneath her warm covers. Stepping with her bare feet out onto the floor. The plush carpet tickled them as they sank into it. She shook a little as she felt a chill, pulling on her fuzzy robe she would let the warmth envelop her.

Slowly she would tread down the stairs, into the kitchen to make herself a hot cup of tea. When the teapot broke the silence with its whistle, she would pour herself a cup and sit down. She would sit down and get lost in her thoughts. Her thoughts of wondering how life would be. Thoughts of how life wasn’t turning out like she had planned. Life had blindsided her, taking a complete turn.

Her dreams were gone, as she faced the reality that things would never be the same.

The subway train kept chugging away as the woman continued staring out the window wondering if tonight would be like so many nights before. Her stop was coming close, it was time for her to clear her mind and be ready to leave the train.

She turned her head for one last look out the window and that’s when she felt it. Someone had touched her shoulder.  Quickly she turned her head and looked. She looked into the eyes of many, wondering what she was thinking. Had she finally gone crazy? Of course someone touched her, this was a packed subway, you could barely keep from not rubbing up against someone.

This was different though she told herself, something was different. Then she caught the eyes of the stranger looking right at her. Their eyes connected and she just knew, she knew that was the person who had touched her. Slowly she smiled and the stranger smiled back and then they turned around and stepped out the door.

The woman watched and in that moment her heart felt some peace. She felt a flicker of hope arise and she was thankful. Things hadn’t changed, but yet in that moment she felt like perhaps she wasn’t so alone. In that moment she felt like someone cared. In that moment she had felt the power that could come from a small but genuine, caring  touch.

Why Do We Judge?

The question should not be whether we believe her or not. The question instead should be why do we feel the need to judge her?

There has been a news story recently that has caused a lot of stir. There is a man who is very close to becoming a Supreme Court judge. There is one thing though that now  has come to light.  A lady has stepped forward saying that this nominee for the Supreme Court sexually assaulted her many years ago.

It has been the topic on all kinds of social media and the one thing that gets said over and over again is “Why did she wait so long to come forward?”  Which is followed by this popular answer, “Well obviously she is lying if she waited this long to say anything.”

This answer has so many problems with it and it brings me back to my first question, “Why do we feel the need to judge her?” And this isn’t just about her, its about every female that has dared to step forward admitting  to being sexually assaulted.

We wonder why more young girls and women don’t step forward, the answer is simple. Who wants to risk getting raked over the coals again and suffer shame and humiliation,  after already going through a traumatic experience!

I think of the women who are reading the discussions on social media about this case, and listening to the news reports about this woman stepping forward. The women who are reading and thinking to themselves, “me too”, “that happened to me”. The women who are silently cringing inside as they read all the negative publicity that this woman is dealing with now.  Do we really have to wonder why more people don’t come forward?

Why are we so quick to judge? So quick to throw that stone. Why are we so quick to say, “well if it would have been me… I would have….”  Really? You know exactly what you would have done if the same thing had happened to you?  We can say all we want about  what we would have done, but until you are in that situation you really don’t know. People respond to traumatic situations in so many different ways!

Where is our compassion instead of our judging heart? That can be said in a lot of other situations as well, not just sexual assault cases.

Why is it that we are so quick to decide what someone’s whole story is when a lot of times we only know half the story?

Can you imagine how much better this world would be if we were as quick to show compassion as we are to judge? As quick to give a helping hand as we are to tear someone down.

I think these 2 quotes sum things up pretty well.

 

 

 

 

The Special Gift

Gina is a wonderful blogger from https://alifelesslivedblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/29/writing-challenge-the-gift-you-share/  and she has posted a fun challenge. Her challenge has been to spread joy by sharing in 100 words or less about a time that you made someone happy.  Feel free to join in with the challenge.  Spreading joy is always a good thing!

I am blessed often by others in making my heart smile. In fact examples kept coming to my mind of how others have made me happy, so I am going to divert a little from the rules and spread the joy by sharing an example that came to my mind.

The Special Gift

 I was in the hospital, back in 2012.  The  Doctor’s all agreed that something was wrong, but no one knew what it was. It was a scary, frustrating time.  It was also the week before Christmas. I wanted to be home!

One night I was especially upset after I had said goodbye to my family.  I so badly wanted to go home with them. I belonged with them. I broke down as soon as they walked out of my room.  My spirit was worn, the tears were flowing.  The phone rang.  It was my sister. She knew it was late but she felt the urge to call. We talked through my tears and my heart was lifted. She gave the gift of her time.

The gift of your time is a priceless gift that I  have treasured from many. That night, it was from my sister, and a night I won’t forget.