You’re Never Alone

“Hold me close / Let Your love surround me / Bring me near / Draw me to Your side.” – Hillsongs, Power of Your Love

Today began just like any other regular day.  I woke up, showered, had my coffee, prepped the lunch bags, woke up my daughter and got her ready for school.  This morning I gave her a kiss.  I always make sure to give her a kiss.  I also make sure to tell her that I love her.  I know that she knows I do because when I say to her “I have something to tell you” she responds with “I know, you love me.”  It’s a little game that we play, and I’m comforted by it.

It’s Daddy weekend this weekend.  Fortunately, I was able to see my daughter after school long enough to give her a big hug.  And this time I held onto her a bit longer than I normally would.  I didn’t want to let her go and tonight I miss her heaps more than usual.

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And that’s because today wasn’t any regular day after all.  I’m located about 600 kilometers away from the devastating massacre of the innocent children in Newtown, Connecticut, and I’m having a hard time coping with what happened.  I don’t know these people, never met them in my life, and I’m never going to understand what they are going through.  But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried today just thinking about those poor families who have lost their children, wifes, husbands and parents.  And I’ll never understand what drives a person to do such thing.  I don’t know.  I’ll never know.

But I do know that their lives will never be the same.  They will feel an emptiness inside for the rest of their lives.  They will question God about what happened, and why their loved one had to die, be taken away from them.  They will likely fall into a deep depression, not wanting anyone around, feeling all alone.  They will hit rock bottom.

And today when I heard the news, I immediately thought of my daughter, and imagined her in that school and ice-cold fear travelled through my entire body like a lightening bolt.  I thought about all the times I kissed her goodbye on a Friday morning on Daddy weekends, and how my heart rips out of my chest every single time because I don’t get to see her again until the following Monday.  I thought about how many times I wanted to hold her during those weekends and couldn’t and how I’ve had to settle for phone calls.  And then I thought about these poor parents who won’t ever be able to hold their children again, and how they don’t get to have a phone call. They will never hear their voice ever again.

I wish there was something that I could do.  I feel helpless.  My heart goes out to them, and they are in my prayers.  And while they are in their darkest hour, I pray that they never forget that they are not alone. There is someone holding them, loving them and caring for them.

And while I was in my darkest hour, this reminded me that I was never alone.  This is what helped me through those long, dark nights:

I Bless The Rains Down In Africa

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can  change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has” – Margaret Mead

A couple of weeks ago I was given the opportunity to put a big, fat, stinking check mark next to item #7 on my Childhood Dreams List.  Since then, life has been whirlwind for me.  My head is still spinning with everything, and I finally feel like it’s all making enough sense in order for me to write it down.  Or is it?  Let me step back for a minute.  Have you ever heard the song Africa by Toto?  I absolutely love that song.  It’s one of those songs that when I hear it play something inside of me moves.  For whatever reason, I found it be powerful.  Not sure why, but I did, still do, actually.

On the topic of Africa, over the last few months I have been a witness to a very small group of individuals with big plans and even bigger hearts.  This group of people met over a year ago, formed a union, put together a business plan and this week are in the process of executing it.  At this moment they are in Ghana, Africa working towards providing affordable housing for its citizens, among other things.

You’re probably thinking, ok, so why is this a big deal? Let me explain – this is the first time in my life that I have ever witnessed someone actually go after a dream of theirs, let alone a huge one like this.  I’ve heard stories of people making it big, I’ve met people whose dreams have come to fruition long before meeting them, but this is the fist time I’ve seen it from the time it was just some ‘discussion’ at the kitchen table.  And now, this group is trekking along the streets of Accra, meeting with officials, and getting things done, and I get to experience it vicariously through them with up to the minute updates.

As they cross the city and countryside and send me pictures and updates, I am learning that the world, as big as it is, at the same time is so small.  As much as we all curse technology, at the same time it grants us to do amazing things.  Accra, even though their infrastructure isn’t all that great – no road signs, potholes everywhere and poverty ridden areas, also allows us to keep in touch the way we are.  I feel like I am in Africa right now, even though I’m typing this blog while sitting at my kitchen table.

I’m helping my Ghana Group as best as I can.  I lend advice, I provide ideas, I’m a sounding board.  Even though I can’t physically be there with them, in some way I am.  I’ve also been given the opportunity of corresponding on a regular basis with a beautiful woman from Ghana.  She is in charge of ensuring that these children in the school Children Of The Ark receive a good education and a chance at life.  I’m helping her by brainstorming ways to help these kids.  And it feels good.  I feel as if I’m also helping the people in Accra every which way I can.  I’m finding that by giving what I can, I’m actually receiving so much more in return.

These recent events have got me thinking, that if you’re open to life and what it gives to you, the goals you set out for yourself really do get met.  You just have to be open to the reality that they may not unfold in the way you expect them to, and that’s ok.  It doesn’t mean that you haven’t met them.  I unknowingly have just reached goal # 11.  I suspect that this will be an ongoing thing, but to think that I am able to help people in a different country, one that I have never been to, and communicate directly with some of the people there is an awesome thing.  My Ghana Group has been so inspiring and I can’t wait to see them reap the rewards from the seeds they are sowing.  Life is truly amazing, especially if you have the drive to go after what you really want.  And really, the only risk in life is not taking a risk at all.

Another Lesson Learned

“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

This past weekend my daughter and I went for our inaugural skate of the season. We were both very excited. She outgrew her skates from last year, so on Saturday afternoon we went to buy her a new pair. Really cute pair too – pink with flowers on them.  That night, we grabbed her helmet and off to the arena we went.

When we arrived we joined the massive line of people waiting to get their skates sharpened. My daughter was so excited to get onto the ice, she was bouncing around as if she had ants in her pants.  But it wasn’t just her.  I too couldn’t wait to get onto the ice, feel the smoothness underfoot, the cool breeze on my face, and hear the scraping sounds all around. This was going to be a great night!

After about twenty minutes we finally had our newly sharpened skates and off to the stands we went to put then on. Just then the Zamboni came out to clear the ice. My daughter started complaining that we had to wait even longer to skate, but I explained – how great this was! We get to skate on freshly smooth ice! I couldn’t believe that it was possible for her to get even more excited.

Finally, we got onto the ice.  We skated to the kiddy section and I began teaching my daughter to skate again as she was a bit rusty (she hadn’t skated since early this year). She was doing quite well when suddenly she fell.  No big deal, I thought until then she started crying.  She has fallen plenty of times in the past.  She pointed out that her pants tore at the knee, and I said it’s OK, we’ll fix them.  Then I hear “Mommy, I think I’m bleeding”. I looked down, moved the opening of her pant leg over and immediately thought “Oh sh*t. She’s going to need stitches.”  I brought her to the first aid area, and was hoping that I was just over-reacting, but the arena worker did say she would need to go to the hospital.

Great.

I wasn’t worried about the stitches Per Se.  I was worried about how the heck I would get her to the hospital.  My daughter had a horrible experience at the local children’s hospital this year and since then, every time I’ve had to bring her back, or to anyone who wears some type of medical uniform she has freaked out.  She transforms into a screaming, arm and leg flaying little monster who is inconsolable.

And freak out she did. Large. Luckily, she didn’t need stitches, but they did glue her wound together.  The poor doctor’s hand was shaking while he was trying to administer the glue, and I was holding her down.  Once it was all done, I was told how to care for it once we get home.  So last night I had to wipe off the glue, but it was impossible to do.  There was so much glue on her leg, way more than necessary.  Of course, I understand how that happened.  The poor doctor just wanted to finish tending to her.  And unfortunately, trying to wipe off all the excess was like trying to wipe permanent marker off the wall.  It was next to impossible.

So into a warm bath my daughter went, with hopes that glue would soften, or her skin would shrivel allowing for the glue to easily come off. That was wishful thinking. I then slowly started to peel the glue off when she stopped me because it hurt.  Of course it hurt!  It was hurting me just as much doing that to her as it was hurting her! She insisted that she wanted to do it. I thought, OK, go for it kid.

She would slowly lift the sides of the glue up from her skin.  I could see the determination mixed with pain on her face.  She was breathing heavily as she was concentrating on what she was doing.  Then she said “Mommy, can you get me some scissors so I can cut it?”  I said, no way. Then she said “please?  At least this way there isn’t a lot to lift up.”  What a genius idea.  So I sterilized baby scissors and I gave them to her.  So little by little she would peel back the glue, cut the piece off, put her leg back into the water to soften some more and then proceed again.  We were at this for over an hour, but she amazingly got the mission accomplished. All the while, I knelt by the edge of the tub, supervising, cheering her on.  What an amazing sight!

When I was cleaning her wound and applying the adhesive strips I asked her why she wanted to do it all herself, and not let me do it.  Her answer left me speechless.  She said “Mommy, I know that it would hurt anyway.  But if I did it, at least I knew when it would hurt, and by doing it, I wouldn’t think of the pain.  I would have to think about what I was doing, and so it would hurt less.”  Once we were done, she was back at playing with her toys as if nothing happened.  But what

a lesson that my six-year just taught me.  There will be pain that we will experience in life.  Rather than letting it just happen to us, why not take life by the horns and do something about it.  By acting, the pain will still be there, but it won’t hurt as much because we’ll be concentrating on doing something about it.

As I’ve mentioned this before in previous posts, I remain in awe with the lessons that my daughter has been teaching me since her birth. She has been instrumental in my growth process and has been a source of inspiration.

I believe that if we are open to learning, that every situation offers an opportunity which something can be gained. Especially if the lesson is beginning taught from those little munchkins also known as kids.