Friday, July 29, 2011

Screaming Mad?

A mom, who is upset, because her teens like hanging out with us more than her, has just screamed at me. I am learning that the key ingredient for life circumstances to change for a youth is that the parent, guardian or grandparent must be on the same page. I know that I don’t want to promote a mindset of looking down, judging and making fun of an individual’s circumstances in life.

I have had the privilege to be around a few families for over 4 years. The sad fact in some of these families is that there hasn’t been a consistent home, there haven’t been much or any resources for existing and the parent/guardian is always gone but yet expects the youth to cater to their selfish whims.

I am beginning to understand how someone can be very upset about another person’s circumstances to a point where they want to take some type of action. The challenge or question is what do you do when someone doesn’t want help or if they do want assistance it is always on their terms? I do react to someone demanding me to do something on their timetable with no consideration about my circumstances. I know it would be easy for a mom or grandparent to think that I am trying to ‘buy’ their child’s affection or attention. The reality is that a friendship becomes the basis upon which someone chooses to be with someone or walk away.

Is it possible not to be critical of someone who continues to make poor choices that impact the lives of not only the person but also their kids and friends? If I see someone drowning or in a car accident is it ok to say that they should take care of their circumstances and might be offended if I tried to help? I have experienced trying to help someone stuck in the rip tide of the surf to be hit by them and potentially drowned myself because of their panicked reaction.

I don’t think anyone likes to be screamed at or hear foul language on a continual basis. Why is it the case that for some the only way for them to express themselves is with the f bomb in a loud fashion? I was dropping off a food basket for a family and could not fail to hear the parent screaming at the top of their lungs to their teens. The language being used was a total embarrassment. What good is this going to accomplish besides to continue to promote a reaction that drives their teen away from them.

I’m frustrated when someone uses me and isn’t willing to sit down and talk about life and the choices that are made. I know that I am supposed to be quiet and let people make their own decisions and own up to life choices. I just don’t want to see someone hurt a little one or a teen.

So what do you do? I know that if I confront this person it will turn into a screaming match where no one is heard. If I do nothing that these teens are being abused and programmed to be just like their screaming parent. I am praying for some special friends who are more equipped to talk to these moms about how they come across and how they are pushing their kids away.

I had an incredible day yesterday but it was totally ruined by this loud screaming parent. Today I am still feeling the pain. I had two very important meetings go really well. I should be feeling alright not queasy on the inside? So why is it so hard to walk away from someone you care about? I am getting a picture of how God feels at times when I wonder away and scream at Him for looking for me and trying to help me.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


As I am sitting out front of Matt’s Big Breakfast it is rather surprising to see First Street being totally destroyed with big equipment. Life is always full of surprises. At times the unexpected becomes the expected and the expected becomes the anomaly. LIfe has ups and downs that are a total surprise or shock. I am waiting to have breakfast with a friend who I haven’t talked with for about a year or so.

I know that life has bends and detours that catch us off guard. My friend had just recently donated a nice twin bed for be me to give to a homeless shelter that helps veterans. As I am pulling into his driveway he explains how he and his wife are divorcing. I am taken back totally and I see his wife who offers to donate some craft items for me to use with our kids. What do I say?? I’ll pray for you doesn’t sound very caring.

You would think that having the road outside a breakfast place would kill business. Yet, I am waiting at 6:45AM to get into Matt’s. Business is good in spite of the traffic or road conditions. The challenge for most of us is that life does have it’s changes which at times we plan for and other times take us by surprise.

I know that it isn’t a given that family or friends always agree on everything. It is easy to allow our uniqueness or gift mixes to get in the way of being friends or working together. I know that at times I can be too much of an idealist or perfectionist that can get frustrated with others. I know that I can come across as a control freak because I do have standards and want them pursued. So what do you say to someone who is walking away from a relationship that produced offspring, produced a nice home and many friends both in the neighborhood and at church.

My story is that I have many friends who fit this profile of having their spouse walk away from them. Some have done it for good reasons others have decided that the wild side is more attractive than working through issues with their partner or their kids. I am learning to become a good listener and realize I don’t have much to say but to choose to be with them.

I know that it is so much easier to be a talker than a listener. It is so easy to assume that everyone wants to know about my life and work and miss that I’m not on the front page news headlines. My goal really isn’t to be popular and a great speaker but a friend that can listen and help when possible. I know that a call from Bookie about going to his football game in a month is just as important as my breakfast with my friend who is losing his family.

I also know that as we short sale our home that moving is going to be traumatic. I know that I can be proactive and start moving and sorting. Yet, the day we actually get the keys and start getting the new house ready it is going to time for some tears. Yeah, I do like being in one place for more than a year or so. Change isn’t easy to accept and as I tell my kids that bad things happen even to good people. God is part of both what appears great blessings and unbelievable tragedies. I am shocked to see the headlines in the news continue to show the evil bent of mankind. I can’t fathom someone methodically kill 90 plus youth at a camp on a retreat.

So I know as my wife would say I can become very animated around friends but am not the same person with family or my dad that I do need to learn to step up and be better at communicating. Yeah, it isn’t easy to see my dad struggle with simple things, what day is it, what more important in the present moment or choosing to keep his lights off. I am being stretched to love people regardless of circumstances or what I deem to be the best. One of my favorite Psalms reminds me to look up to the hills and remember that my help and strength comes from the Lord Maker of Heaven and Earth.

Monday, July 25, 2011


I know that man is an emotional creature that it times can have a total meltdown. I know I should be surprised when someone comes unglued but I do. I am always trying to figure out the 'why' of what happened. I am also quick to think it was something I have done that has caused someone else's disaster.

I can't fathom what was going through the mind of this man that killed over 90 youth at this youth camp on an island outside of Norway. What could have overcome or gripped this man that he could follow through with cold blooded murder. He actually dressed up like a policeman to make these teens feels safe and secure and then turned on them in a merciless fashion.

I know that living in the hood means that there will always be different types of drama taking place between different groups of people regardless of their age. I have seen it all after living here for 5 years. I can't fathom that having someone pull in front of you is worthing of being shot at and killed or that sudden glance when looking to turn ends up with a car following you wanting to jump out and beat you up. Then theres the fight over a girlfriend, gang turf or whatever that sees someone murdered for no real reason at all.

The sad thing is that often the people hurt or killed had nothing to do with what was happening. I had one of my teens last night literally come unglued. The challenge for me was that she isn't this type of person. I know the specific individuals who can and will purposely come unglued on purpose to show off their vocal chords. This young gal had never been this way before. I do struggle with know what to do with a girl who has tears streaming down her cheeks. So as I am driving and look back I notice that she is crying and has her phone next to her. I ask the obvious and get no real response. I ask another youth sitting next to her what happened and his response with the same??

So after we enjoy some pizza and get ready for a birthday cake the family of this gal pull up. I am suddenly confronted by the older sister who is rightfully wanting to protect her little sister. I become the focus of the hurt and have someone screaming at me now eyeball to eyeball. I attempt to assure the sister that nothing really happened and then her sister had a meltdown which doesn't seem to have a cause. She is ready to fight me and doesn't want to hear that type of answer. I again try to reassure her that I am concerned for her sister and want to find out what really happened.

Just as we are in the midst of the battle the mom and dad show up in their SUV. Now I am really in trouble or at least that is what I think. I walk over to talk with the dad. He knows who I am but we have never actually talked before. I explain what I saw happen. I then said that someone has seen the same thing. As I look at this young gal in the back of her parent's SUV she is totally out of control. What happened? Who caused this? And why is she unable to get it together. As the evening finishes she is gone but my heart breaks knowing that something did happen. I might not see her or talk with her for a week or so. I have asked a few others to try to contact her.

Why do people come unglued so easily? I can see when a loved one is killed in a senseless fashion but that didn't happen? I also know that we live in a broken world where it doesn't take much for someone to hit the edge and go bananas. What did I learn from this, be more observant, be more ready for attacks - ouch and be better at being sensitive to someone who is hurting and on the edge of collapse.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Over the last couple of months we have made it a tradition to take grandpa to Costco so we can go shopping, he can get out and we enjoy at great inexpensive lunch. The neat thing is to see how many other people do the exact same thing. I was surprised to see as we pulled up and let grandpa get out that another family, with a handicapped son, did the same thing.

We ended up just sitting at a table that is outside of the actual Costco inside of a mall and enjoy watching people walking around. It shouldn’t be any surprise that grandpa enjoys his hot dog, he asked for seconds and loves to finish all of his very berry sundae each time we go. I know that too often we make such a big deal about going out to fancy places or doing something that is out of the extra ordinary instead of actually enjoying the little things in life that are cheap.

I know as I have read the news and gotten numerous calls that life isn’t great for everyone. I received a call from a pastor friend in San Diego about a family who had just lost their son in a shooting over a girlfriend. As I read the story online it was sad that this happen needlessly. Just as I also have been totally shocked by this horrible incident in Norway that doesn’t make any sense at all. I don't understand how anyone can get their jollies out of blowing people up and then systematically killing teens. I also know that during the summer we go downtown and take cold bottled water and popsicles to the homeless. It isn’t anything profound but does help to give me perspective on the petty things that make me mad about myself or family at times.

I love my dad and enjoy being with him and bugging him at times. He has asked me for a cane for a long time and last week I finally broke down and purchased one for him. He now seems determined to use it and forget about the walker. I was rather ‘stupid’ for not getting this sooner to force him to get out and be more able to use his broken hip leg. He always has a smile and is so thankful for the little things we do together. I will buy him candy and various things from Fresh and Easy and he ends up like a little kid that just got his favorite candy and eat as much as he wants without getting in trouble.

As we sat at the Costco table waiting for Anne I felt the call of nature and got up and made it to the restroom around the corner. Anne had gone to Penny’s to look options for Julie’s birthday, which is coming soon. I could grandpa now wanted to leave and there was no Anne in sight. I asked if he wanted to use the restroom in the mall but he gave me this strange look like no way man. So we waited and Anne showed up.

As we are walking out side and waiting in the heat, yes it was humid and hot, poor grandpa had an accident. I share this not to make fun of grandpa but to beat myself for not being more sensitive and better at understanding his needs. So we made it back to his place, he got cleaned up and changed and then I gave him a shave. He loves being shaved between his beard and his head. I am not too thrilled with seeing grandpa with a baldhead but if that is what he wants that is what he gets. We bought the most expensive fusion type blades because his beard is tough to trim. He loves sitting with a warm towel on his face and then shaving cream plastered all over his face. I slowly get rid of the week old stubble and now he looks like a new man and I feel so much better after he has showered and been shaved.

Yeah, life is full of messes of which some we cause, others are caused by someone else and others are caused with the intention of doing real hurt and damage. My real heart is to be an instrument of God’s grace that is able to clean up someone else’s mess because God has done such an amazing job of working in my life. Yet, I know that as meet different people that I am not always the one who will be able to help but at least I can point them in the right direction.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Loving Crazies?

I have taken a break from writing primarily because we had our June filled with urban mission teams and a busy summer schedule for our New City teens and families. As the summer comes to a finish I want to reflect on what I am learning and some of the interesting people God has brought across my path.

I am slowly learning not to let my temper totally control, even in circumstances that might warrant me screaming at someone. Over the last year I have had a run in with one of my teen’s grandpa. I understand that the ‘race’ thing and circumstances make it impossible for grandpa to understand me and not react to the help and loving we have showered on his grand daughters. My tolerance for loud foul language is pretty much history and I am attempting to come up with creative ways to deal with people who show their ignorance by using F bombs. So why would an older African American Grandpa scream expletives at me and accuse me of crazy things? I know that my only encounter with him, almost a year ago, was helping out his granddaughters with a ride to school and money for lunch. How could this push someone over the edge?

So as I went to pick up these teens for church I was taken back when he grabbed one of his granddaughters, screamed at her, shook her and then exploded at me. What do I do? I considered getting out of my van and looking at him eyeball to eyeball only knowing that he would probably swing at me and I would have to defend myself. So instead I talked loudly back at him about the horrible example he was giving between slapping his granddaughter and his foul mouth. Obviously he wasn’t impressed with my come back and I drove off rather upset and shaken. I can see why revenge is the name of the game in the hood. I want to come back later and give him a screaming and slapping so he would stop his horrible treatment of some of my teens. Yet, I knew that this would do any good and ultimately would hurt these teens.

A week ago I received a call from a couple that were relocating from Nebraska. I had a FB message from one of their friends who was also a good friend. As we talked on the phone I could understand that they were in a tough situation. They came out so the man could be with his mom who was dying of cancer. He, unfortunately, has a criminal past that makes it difficult for him to go anywhere or get a job. So as I talked mostly with his wife I tried to guide them to some friends who had more experience with people living on the street and living in the midst of crisis. I picked them up from their cheap hotel that cost them $70. We loaded all of their life belongings into the back of my truck. The smell of stale tobacco was apparent on all of the bags, suitcases and boxes we loaded into the truck.

I had agreed to take them to a rental place to get help looking for an inexpensive apartment. I had told them that they should first connect with a few of my friends who are involved with the homeless. After a long day, which I provided them lunch, they end up meeting with my friends and spend another night in a cheap hotel. They are introduced to someone that has a discipleship based program about an hour outside of Phoenix. They make what I think is a hasty decision and go with him. I haven’t heard back from them in a week now.

I am better understanding grace as I experience from my God with being able to find a rental house, Anne getting a job and our house now having a buyer. I so much want my teens and adults to understand that being a giver and helper is God’s heart and that being a taker will ultimately dishonor God and get you into trouble.

So I do expect my phone to ring, get a FB message or an e-mail about someone else who needs assistance and I will have another opportunity to show God’s amazing grace and mercy. I am blessed to have so many amazing friends who make life so rich and adventurous!