Tag Archives: priorities

The Security Breach at Breakfast

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The Security Breach at Breakfast

There was a time not so long ago that the avoidance of national and world news by my sister, Kim, was viewed by me as bordering on irresponsible. I would ask her opinions on a crisis, mass murder, or natural disaster and she would respond with, “I have no idea what you are talking about and I don’t want to know. So, shut up.” Recently, I have started to envy her ability to close herself off from the world that seems to be unraveling. It seems to be open season on human beings killing one another has had me considering looking for real estate under one of the secluded rocks she likes to hide under. The world is a scary place.

One would think that with all the headlines screaming violence, I would be extra vigilant in protecting myself, my family, and my home from the volatile world. In many ways I am. I have educated myself on gun and personal safety and I have obtained my Conceal and Carry permit. I have purchased a firearm I am comfortable carrying, handling, and shooting. While traveling, I try to be aware of my surroundings and not put myself in vulnerable situations. But Sunday morning, when a homeless young man showed up on my porch asking for a drink of water, my heart overrode my brain and I invited him inside for breakfast.

He couldn’t have been more than 20 and he had a heavy pack and a long road ahead of him. It wasn’t just hot; it was MISSOURI sticky-sweaty-humid-as-hell hot. When I went outside and handed him a couple bottles of water he was very grateful and thankful for my offering and as I watched this kid turn back toward the highway, it never crossed my mind that this shaggy-haired tattooed kid with more than one piercing was a serial killer or an axe murder. All I saw was a kid who probably needed something in his belly and so I called after him, “Hey, are you hungry?”

After offering him a seat at the table, I made him a plate of biscuits and gravy, something to drink, salt and pepper, etc. His only request was a napkin which he placed in his lap. While he ate, I asked him where he was headed and if he had any family in the area. I didn’t want to pry. It was obvious this kid had a story, but it isn’t my story to tell. He ate. He said very little.

Things really got interesting when I went to the bedroom to give my husband, Kevin, a heads that I was feeding a wayward stranger breakfast. He was not overcome by the warm fuzzy feeling of helping out our fellow man. In fact, I believe the emotion I identified reflected in Kevin at that moment was: completely pissed off. We had a rare and heated exchange in whisper voices:

Kevin: What in the hell were you thinking?

Me: I don’t know. What was I supposed to do, let him starve?

Kevin: NOT invite him inside the house would be a reasonable thing to do.

Me: I had to invite him in so he could eat biscuits and gravy.

Kevin: You know better!!! I can’t believe you.

Me: ….

 

In all my arguments with Kevin I end up sounding like a toddler, especially when confined to whispers. It is hard to really sell a good point in ‘whisper voice’. Kevin went into full protector mode talking briefly with the young man and seeing him on his way, all the while keeping our .38 in his pocket. He made sure the kid made his way down the highway and proceeded with the following: Complete perimeter check, locked and secured all doors, reviewed the security modus operandi with the kids for locking cars and doors, emphasizing the point that someone had breached security protocol and so we were all going to have to be EXTRA vigilant for the next few weeks (followed by an accusing stare at me for my reckless behavior).

I went about my day justifying in my own mind what I failed to articulate to my husband. Later that afternoon, I asked if he was still angry at me for inviting a potential murderer, terrorist, puppy kicker inside for breakfast. He assured me he was not mad, but I had to promise not to do it again. I was compelled to try and justify my actions and I probably should have just made my promise and kept my mouth shut.

Me: Kevin, I traveled thousands of miles around the world to feed hungry children in Africa! Do you think I could just let a kid starve on my front porch?

Kevin: Of course not, you invite him in and feed him biscuits and gravy. We will see what a good idea it is when he comes back and kills us in our sleep and steals all our shit.

Me: …..heavy sigh.

Kevin is right the world is a scary place and I could have very well invited danger into our home. I appreciate his ability to protect us and keep us safe. I do hope that in some small fashion he finds a way to appreciate the innate flaw in me that allows my heart override my head in some situations. The truth is, I am so caught up in my own crazy life I neglect so many opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others. My focus has gotten so blurred that it has become easier to see only what I don’t have and I have become blind and complacent to the abundance of my blessings. I hear the news, read the headlines, and I become consumed by all the things that separate us. I needed a reminder of the one thing we have in common; at the end of the day, we are all just human beings.

heartPerhaps the good Lord sent that young man to my door to remind me that I need to look for opportunities to lift up others around me. Perhaps, it was God himself coming to the door as a scruffy homeless kid to see if I would give him a drink or turn him away. Truly If nothing else, I can rest easy knowing that had I been chopped up by the biscuit eating guest, I would probably go to heaven (the way I am quick to anger, cuss like a sailor, struggle with envy and pride and occasional slothfulness I need all the help I can get)….AND if it was God testing us, I fed him biscuits and gravy and Kevin covertly held a gun on him while he ate them (I am still winning). We make a great team– I can try and save the world and he can try to save me from the world…and myself…and coyotes….and spiders…and BigFoot… I think this text he sent me says it all:

murder

A Swing and a Miss

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There are very few parents capable of balancing the role of parent-coach.  In fact, I have been on a sojourn the last several years on learning how to be a supportive, positive, and less intense sports parent (I have come a long way).  My husband, Kevin, has coached my daughter’s competitive basketball team since she was in the fourth grade.  He is exceptional.  He knows the game, he knows his players and he knows how to treat our daughter, Sophi, like she is just another player on the team. Where I tend to be a little hotheaded, critical, and slightly maniacal, Kevin is patient, calm, and rational.

Over the years, he is shaped and molded his group of girls into a winning and basketball2fundamentally sound ball club and he has done so without acting a fool.  He doesn’t yell at the referees, he doesn’t throw his clipboard (although he did throw his pen ONCE), and he doesn’t engage his parents in negative banter about players, playing time or performance. He has only been issued one technical foul.  As part of my journey towards psycho sports parent transformation, I have learned to refrain from these once regular behaviors:

  • Calling or texting Kevin during a game to tell him my ideas for plays or defensive strategy.  He no longer takes my calls during games.
  • Yelling at referees when they are complete idiots.  I have developed a respect for the folks in stripes, even the blind ones with fluff where their gray matter should be.
  • Confronting offensive parents/coaches/coaches wives from the other teams.
  • I have changed my spirited cheering from Seriously?!; You have GOT to be kidding me!; If that is a walk, I can dunk;  Damn it, Sophi, Get in the Game; to the uplifting encouraging words of: Defense, ladies; Nice job; Get big defense; and Niiiiiiiiice!

Note: The inside of my mouth is often bleeding by the third quarter from biting my tongue, but I am a work in progress.

The finesse in which Kevin coaches is what makes the recent series of events blog-worthy.  basketball4Sophi had a rough game last week.  It was the school team, which means Coach Kevin was in the stands with the rest of the parents and spectators.  It was a home game and a decent size crowd for a girls’ game.  She struggled.  She managed to get a few shots off and pull down several rebounds but the rest of her game was quite messy.  She came off the court fully aware of the mistakes she had made and was probably already trying to forget the game in its entirety.  But Coach Kevin took a detour from his usual supportive route and recounted nearly every mishap.  The ride home from the game was tense.

Kevin’s recap of the game consisted of a verbal highlight reel of her blunders and bobbles.  Sophi and I rode in silence, both stunned by this critical recap from the usual docile daddy-coach.  I felt compelled to say something, but usually when I feel compelled to say something it turns out to be something inappropriate.  So, while Kevin ranted, I texted Sophi instead:

Me:      The hardest thing in the world besides losing someone you love is taking criticism. Don’t let this defeat you.  Build on it.  He is doing it because he loves you and  he believes in you.  It’s what drives him.  It’s like getting a shot when you are little. The shot hurts a little but not as bad as getting polio.

Sophi:     OK. You don’t make any sense.  What does my bad game have to do with polio?

Me:      Polio is bad.  Your game was bad.

Sophi: Wow

 A swing and a miss for Mom.basketball3

The week continued.  Sophi was quiet and withdrawn, Kevin stoic and silent.  The weather was grey and cold and as the snow accumulated, so did the snow days for the kids.  I came home one evening and inquired how Sophi’s snow day had been.  She replied, “Well, Dad did call me this morning and apologize for being so hard on me about the game.  It started out promising but his apology went off the rails.”  When I pressed her for details she complied:

Dad:    Hey, Sophi.  I just wanted to call and say I am sorry for being so     hard on you about the game the other night.

Sophi:  Ok, thanks, Dad.

Dad:      I really didn’t mean it was the worst basketball game I have ever seen you play in your entire life, I meant it was the worst one this season.

Sophi:    Okaaaaay….

Dad:       But, really, why did you have to throw the ball away???  Your passes were sloppy.  There were so many people there watching.  It was embarrassing.

Sophi:    (Thinking to herself) You have got to be kidding me???  This is his apology?

Dad:       So, anyway, I just wanted to call and say I am sorry and tell you that I love you.

A Swing and a miss for Dad.

After Sophi’s highlight reel of the apology, we were both laughing and shaking our heads.  We didn’t know exactly how to process this side of Kevin the Coach.  Sophi was laughing, but her walls were still up.  She wasn’t ready to forgive his trampling on her wounded ego.   The standoff continued.  After nearly a week of eye-rolling (Sophi) and stubborn silence (Kevin), I demanded reconciliation.  Kevin set out to make things right with his girl and according to him they had a ‘great talk’.   Considering the debacle he had made of the apology, I wasn’t exactly ready to take his word for it.  However, Sophi did confirm that he had made successful amends and was now back in his starring role of ‘Best Dad in the World’.

photo 4I wonder how much of Kevin’s deviation from his positive daddy/coach role was even about the basketball game.  His little girl is growing up.  The two of them have always been exceptionally close.  Lately, her attention has been further divided by her friends, her phone, dances, and her need to always be on the go.  Recently, a handsome young 17 year-old fellow has also emerged onto the scene (heavy sigh).  Perhaps, Kevin was consumed solely by Sophi’s less than stellar performance on the court, but it would be my wager that there was a host of other things fueling his frustration.  I am her parent too.  I feel the weight of the how fleeting these days actually are.  I, too, wonder how it is that more often I find myself left out of the huddle and forced into the stands as a spectator in her world.  I think as parents we all swing and miss sometimes.  We lose sight of what is really important.  When I take the time to reflect on all the laughter and love we have shared as parents and I look at the remarkable young lady Sophi is growing into, I have resolved myself to accept that my role is changing.  I sincerely hope Kevin recognizes his role in Sophi’s life is also changing, but is as vital as ever.  Girls never outgrow needing their daddies.  He might have an occasional ‘swing and a miss”, but when it comes to being a great dad, he hit that one out of the park!

 

 

Faking Fortitude-Confessions of One Lacking

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Faking Fortitude-Confessions of One Lacking

Reflecting on the last 18 months still causes the smoldering ulcer in the pit of my belly to spark and burn. It is that familiar gut-fire that keeps me moving forward, looking forward, and thinking forward. The internal belly blister is proof that ingesting one’s troubles and making meal after meal of worry and frustration will, in fact, eat a whole in the lining of your alimentary canal. Belly Fire, as I affectionately refer to my nocturnal internal sizzle, is something to which I have become accustomed and has become fast friends with my insomnia. I appreciate the ability to carry my ball of flammable burdens sight unseen, which is why seeing them displayed on the wall of my niece’s school was much like dreaming I was in public without my pants.

Walking into the gym to pick up my niece from her small Catholic school, she informs me that there is a picture of me hanging in the hall and pulls me in the direction of the classrooms. Along the way, she tells me that, Lilly, her older sister had written about me and the paper was hanging on the wall in the hallway outside of her classroom. Sure enough, there was Lilly’s completed assignment with my name in bold type and a picture of me with a giant arrow pointing to my head. Strangely enough, it was entitled “FORTITUDE”. The following is the text from Lilly’s interpretation of my recent struggles:

My aunt, Karri Thurman had courage when she had to lose her house. Her husband lost his job. They were given a house by her husband’s aunt and uncle, but it was torn up and outdated. She had to work her job at the nursing home and finish her home before she had to move. The house was small and they barely fit. Her three kids (13, 16, and 21) had to help. Then her son had anxiety attacks and was constantly at the hospital. She never lost courage and hope when I would have.

Lilly's Assignment

Lilly’s Assignment

Wow. There is nothing like hanging your dirty laundry on the wall of the Catholic Church, especially when it is the heart-felt version of a ten-year-old. Adding insult to injury, not only am I the aunt with a plethora of problems, I also am the aunt who is of the mysterious ‘public protestant school’ variety as opposed to their familiar Catholic private school experience. While I stood reading this snapshot of my life, I couldn’t help to think about what facts the casual reader would probably deduct from this information:

  • I didn’t pay my bills and lost my house to foreclosure
  • My husband couldn’t keep a job
  • We were given a one-room dilapidated shanty in which to live
  • We forced our kids to hours of hard labor
  • My son has been hospitalized numerous times with exacerbations of mental illness
  • My life is so horrendous that the fact that I can still face each day is a feat worthy of admiration

What can I say? Lilly’s version of this last year and a half is accurate, for the most part. There are, however, some details that would have probably helped the reader clarify the events more accurately. I might not have looked quite so much the ‘poor public protestant pariah’ had she included some of the following information:

My husband has been gainfully employed his entire adult life, but was laid off from his job in June 2011. Losing well over 50% of our income, our lives did change abruptly and drastically. We juggled and struggled in an attempt to stay in our large newer five-bedroom house. Nearly a year passed and we had exhausted our resources, retirement funds, etc. and we made the decision to lease out our house and to move into something smaller. Blessed beyond belief, Kevin’s Aunt and Uncle graciously offered up his Grandpa’s house on the farm for our family. It had stood empty since Grandpa’s passing the previous year. While Grandpa’s house is a great deal smaller than what we had been accustomed, it was more than sufficient for our needs. A brick ranch home, with two bathrooms, three bedrooms and a basement, we made it work just fine.

With just a few weeks until our renters moved into our house, we embarked on a round the clock do-it-yourself project at Grandpa’s farm. It required all hands on deck as we redid floors and cabinets, knocked down and rebuilt walls, and painted (lots of painting). The kids did help and so did friends and family. Blood, sweat, tears, and the little money we had all went into transforming this empty house into our home. Unlike Lilly’s version, no young children were harmed or exploited during the rehab project.

The Three Poor Kids that Barely Fit

The Three Poor Kids that Barely Fit

That brings us to the part of Lilly’s story, which I consider to be the biggest challenge to my fortitude and that is my son’s struggle with anxiety. Since he was a toddler, anxiety has been Evan’s tormentor. It has stifled nearly every aspect of his life. Its presence and severity have waxed and waned over his lifetime on a course no one can predict or prevent. Shortly after our move to the farm, anxiety reared its ugly head and did so with a vengeance and he brought his buddy, ‘depression’. The loss of a job, a house, and a way of life pales pitifully to watching my only son being engulfed by a darkness I cannot see; held captive by shackles to which I have no keys. Nothing fuels my belly fire like the uncertainty of whether my child will be able to pull out of this nosedive before he crashes full-force into the very world in which he cannot find comfort.

As parents, Kevin and I reached out for any resources we could find to help us to help our boy. As we consulted doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, we scrambled to help Evan find his way to the surface in the anxiety and sadness which were drowning him. We searched his sad eyes for any sign of the sparkle that reflects his spirit, longing desperately for the dark hand that gripped his soul to relinquish its grasp. It has been a long and frustrating road and Evan has come so very far from where he was. I feel like I spend a great deal of my time holding my breath, fearing if I breathe easy he will start to slip back away from me. He isn’t a star athlete or a Rhodes Scholar, but he can make me laugh like no other. In recent days we have shared more laughter than tears and if he has given me anything at all, it is a place to anchor my hope.

I appreciate that Lilly gleaned ‘fortitude’ out of my colorful character palette. It is a far cry from what I know resembles my authentic self. After all, there is nothing courageous about lying awake night after night allowing my worries and fears to feast on the mucosal lining of my stomach. So, Lilly, the truth is Aunt Karri isn’t a good example of fortitude. I am a closet chicken; A worry swallower. If there is anything I can give you in place of my failed fortitude it would be the lessons these experiences have taught me. Tuck them in your pocket or hang them in the hallway outside your classroom, or hide them away for a time when life gets a little bumpy:

  • A house is just a house. It doesn’t matter if it is big or small, fancy or plain, if it has one bathroom or seventeen. It is the people inside that make it a home.
  • When you grow up, work very hard at whatever job you choose, doing your best is important. Be very careful to not let your work get ahead of your family. Things start to get out of whack when that happens.
  • The genuine people in your life will not care about the house you live in, they will only be concerned about the people inside it.
  • If God blesses you with children, never look at them as anything other than what God created them to be. Never lose sight of the fact that God does not consult you in such matters.
  • Life requires you to be flexible.
  • Don’t let your worries chew on the inside of your belly.
  • It is much easier to keep two bathrooms clean than four. Bigger isn’t always better.
  • Talk to God. He listens…even to us “publics”

    Lilly on Papa's Lap

    Lilly on Papa’s Lap