Just Another Open Letter to Mr. Trump

Author note:  I try not to get political on social media or with this blog, but right now, I just can’t let this not escape my heart.  

Mr. Trump,

I keep hearing you say, “Let’s make America great again!”  No offense, but seriously, if there is anyone who can say that America is not great, it certainly is not you.  After all, you inherited a fortune that most of us hardworking individuals will NEVER earn in our entire lifetimes, you have multiple homes, successful businesses, and every luxury one would want at your disposal.  You even have the audacity to say that you could shoot someone and still find support.  The rest of us could not say that…nor would we.

I also hear you remind people, a lot, that you are rich.  Well, sir, we know that.  We understand that you are wealthy, but are you rich?  How do you count your riches?  If I counted my riches by the standard of yours, then I am certainly impoverished.  However, I do not.  I count my riches by the depth of my relationships with others, the faithfulness of my husband of nearly fifteen years, the love of my children, the faith that I cling to, and the moments of generosity poured out by many.

At my children’s school, there are refugee children from Myanmar (Burma).  My daughter has shared with me many words of their native tongue.  She is learning about their culture, why they needed to come to our county, and has become close friends with one of the girls.  Recently, at the school book fair, she asked me if I could buy her friend a book.  I agreed to do it, and walked with her to give the book to the girl.  Upon seeing it, this little girl with broken English, grabbed my daughter, hugged her tightly, and smiled from ear-to-ear.

This is what I count as wealth.  This is richness.   This is what makes America great.    

I fear that if it were up to you, Mr. Trump, then my children would never have the opportunity to experience the gift of meeting others who seek a safe harbor in our country. I fear that if you become our leader, the mantra of greed, what we should consider as wealth, and the rhetoric of bullying that you seem to love, will become our language.  And, this is leap years away from what I want my children to learn.  You are not who I want my children to look up to.

You keep saying, “Let’s make America great again!”  Well, I believe our country is already great, and it has been for a very long time.  We have problems, of course, like any other country, but we are still a great nation.  Those who have forgotten this should consider truly walking in the shoes of many in far off lands who struggle.

Our greatness is shown when we welcome others who are different than us.  It is witnessed when we step out and worship how, and if, we choose to.  It is evidenced by how we, as a nation, stand together during tragic times.  It is exemplified time and again when we navigate into troubled waters to pour into other people through the spirit of volunteerism and empathy, and it is demonstrated by the hard work ethic that our country has.

When I hear you boast about your richness, I shake my head.  There are many of us who are choosing each day to NOT live in fear, to walk with LOVE, to WELCOME others, to invite PEACE over violence, to LISTEN instead of yell, and to EMBRACE the DIVERSITY of this blessed nation.

Mr. Trump,

This is what I count as wealth.  This is richness.   This is what makes America great.  

Sincerely,

A concerned Mom who decided to write just another open letter to you

Effort and Empathy

During our foster parenting years, people would often say to me, “I don’t know how you can do this…how you can love the babies and get attached while not knowing if they are going to stay.”

I didn’t have the most eloquent responses back then, and I’m not sure if I even do now, but I do know that it is possible to love, and possibly let go.  It is possible to show care, concern, and respect to biological parents whose children you are caring for.  Not only is it possible, it is essential.  It is also essential to remember that children in foster care should return to their biological families if it is safe for them to do so.

While fostering our children (that we were able to eventually adopt), I always kept in my mind the thoughts of how I would feel if I were in the biological parents’ place.

Would I want to know that my children were being cared for in the most loving manner?

Yes.

Would I want to feel supported?

Yes.

Would I want foster parents to know that the goal of reunification is vital?

Absolutely, yes.

My mantra became, “It’s not about you.”  I spent many nights praying for all involved in their cases (biological parents, case workers, attorneys, court officials).  I also got up each day knowing that everything I offered to the children should be the best of who I am and what I believe.

So, I guess, this is how I did it.  This is how I survived the unknowns, ups and downs, and day-to-day challenges of my foster parenting journey.

In life, effort and empathy are essential.  In fostering parenting, they are as well.

Life in a Fish Bowl

Here is a brief part from my memoir I have stored away on my computer.  I am getting closer to making a decision about trying to publish it, but in the meantime, I am finding that parts of it inspire me to write blog posts that are not necessarily even related to my story at all.  This section is part of chapter two where I talk about the medical aspect of what occurred, as well as, my stay in the hospital.

There was an aquarium on the pediatric unit at the hospital that housed a Newt.  When I was able to, I visited Newton (not sure if this really was his name or if I called him that on my own) just about every day.  Our eyes would make contact, and I would stare at him in his fish bowl world wondering what he was thinking.  I wished I could have jumped in the tank with him and swam around to escape.  I too had people staring at me probably wondering what I was thinking or if I really understood what had happened.  My hospital room had become my own fish bowl.

Although this is from a section of my story about the time in the hospital, I cannot help but think that we are all living in “fish bowls”.  We tend to watch each others’ actions and form opinions based on how others are swimming around.  When sad times make their way into life, we sometimes stand by and watch the reactions of people.  Often, their reactions affect our responses.

What if instead of just standing there on the outside of the “tank”, we would all make a more committed effort to jump in and swim around a bit with those who are going through a difficult time?  I wonder how many people could be eternally impacted if Christians would walk alongside people we differ from, or people who are grieving, or lonely, or homeless, or orphaned, or guilty, or addicted, or whatever else makes us think we are on one side while they are on the other.

I know it is cliché to say “what would Jesus do?”….but seriously, “What would Jesus do?”  His life, as written in Scripture, depicts a Savior who walked with people most of us would stray from.  His love is for everyone….everyone.  We are all living life in a fish bowl.  We watch others, and more importantly, others are watching us.  I think it is time that Christians (including myself) stop wading in the shallow end of the pool with only those we are like, and jump in head first with those we are least like.  After all…”What Would Jesus Do?

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – John 13:34

Dear Infertility

Dear Infertility,

Hello, it’s me again. You know…the little girl you once made to feel inadequate, the teenager you once strived to isolate, and the adult you almost accomplished stealing joy from. Well, I’m here to tell you what you cannot do.

You cannot diminish moments of laughter that echo in my mind for days following. You won’t determine my capacity to love other people and children. You no longer make me feel less of a female or parent or anything else you once tried to convince me of.

You don’t stalk me like you used to. I don’t think of you when I see babies anymore. I actually enjoy going to baby showers now. You used to tag along uninvited just to make me feel uncomfortable.  You are not invited, anymore.

You no longer cause a wedge between me and the loving Father I believe in. You used to do that, you know. I used you as an excuse to not listen to Him. He is bigger than you will ever be.  He reminds me what His plans are for my life, not yours.

You cannot take away forgiveness. You do not replace hope. You obviously offer very little grace, but I do not look to you for it anyway.

For the most part, you were one of my darkest secrets. I hid you away for so long.  Funny thing now is that I’m exposing you to the world. You have become my motivation to write, to reach out, and to love.

At one time, I was incomplete. You filled an ever-growing void with even more sorrow, but not anymore. I will never use you again as a way to justify my lack of purpose or meaning in this life.

Dear infertility…this is not goodbye. I can still use you to be a more passionate person. I can still reminisce of you as a reminder to try and love my children more each day than I did the day before. I see you trying to pull others down and I recognize you right away. I use this as motivation for being a more genuine and empathetic listener. The tears I cry now are not for me, but for those of whom you are trying to take over.

Dear infertility…you have not stolen my ability to have a bountiful life. I have a full, rich life that involves children despite your attempt at taking that away. My life is no longer barren. You did not create a wasteland in me. Oh, I won’t forget you. How can I really? You have traveled with me the vast majority of my life, but you are not my life. Ironically, you have caused me to view life as being precious.

Dear infertility…this is not goodbye. This is me saying hello to all the things that you will never be.

I thought of you today, birth mother

I thought of you today, birth mother.  I watched him graduate from preschool.  You would have been so proud.  His name was called and he was handed his first diploma of sorts.  The years have swept away from the three of us since the last visit we had together.  Four years ago tomorrow, your child became forever mine.  You did not choose to give him to me.  He was taken from you.  I know in the rhythm of my heart that you never imagined not raising your son.

I owe you nothing; and yet, I owe you everything.

Our lives are woven together by poor choices, heartache, legalities and love.  Just like the energy that is poured out of a quilt maker’s hands into the quilt, our lives are sewn and patched by the hardship of the years.  Surely, God knew when He created this precious child in your womb that you would labor to bring him into this world, and I would labor bringing him up in it.

I see you in him. birth mother.  He smiles your smile.  His left eye is just a little lazy like yours.  Your love of family poured into him.  He is rarely at a loss of words…just like you.  I wonder if you long for him when you watch children play.  I wonder if you feel haunted by this child you will never raise.  The loss you have suffered must be felt from every cell in your body.  The hollowness you feel at times must resonate deep down.  Sure, we send pictures to you, but pictures don’t breathe.  Pictures don’t smell.  They don’t bleed, hug, speak, cry, or do any of those things that remind us of our humanity.

I owe you nothing; and yet, I owe you everything.

I too have felt that sorrowful ache.  I have cried thick tears.  I have longed for a child.  Barrenness created a stale world for me; a hollowness that never ceased.  I felt haunted by a child I would never have.  What at one time seemed pointless, lifeless, and void of purpose has been replaced by immeasurable significance.

The selfishness I feel from time to time benefiting from your great and terrible sadness overwhelms me.  To be honest, all of it overwhelms me.  God’s blessing of your child has given me more than the mommy experience.  It has refreshed the staleness, filled the hollowness, and brought to life the child I thought I would never have.

I owe you nothing; and yet, I owe you everything.

I thought of you today, birth mother.  Truthfully, I think of you nearly every day.  Perhaps, the world might expect me to not care for you so much.  I wonder, “Is it really possible to separate you from the goodness and richness of this child?”  I don’t think so.  There is goodness in you, although others may not see it.  You are a part of him and he is a part of you.

I delight in his quirks.  I fret in his worries.  I am challenged by his willful spirit; yet, I love him with every pore of my being.  I hear him say “I love you, Mommy” and it stirs my soul.  I know you would feel the same way.

The hug I gave him was for you today, birth mother.  I imagined your arms wrapped around him….how good that would feel for you to touch him.

I thought of you today,  birth mother.  I said a prayer for you today, birth mother.  Your son is mine, and my son is yours.

I owe you nothing; and yet, I will not forget that I owe you everything.