Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Thank You to My Heroes

When I was a young adult, I had a group of friends from work that I did everything with.  We called ourselves "The Midnight Riders", not all that original but at 18 you think you are a whole lot more original than you actually are.  We never got into trouble but we spent late nights watching movies, eating take-out Chinese food and talking or riding around in Mike's pickup truck, listening to Shania Twain and talking or laying in the snow, looking at the stars and talking ( it would seem we had a lot to say ;).  Of this group of friends, my best friend was Mike.  He and I fought like a brother and sister and stood by each other the same way.  One night (two days before Christmas 1995 to be exact), while I was working at the mall, there was a shooting spree.  Two groups of hotheads started fighting and then began shooting, sending five thousand Christmas shoppers into a panic. One person died and several more were injured.  I was working my way through college at the time and one of my jobs was as a manager at Chick-Fila.  There I was, 18 years old, responsible to keep safe these other kids that worked under me.  I brought down the gate and shoved them all in the back away from danger.  I stood there, praying that nothing bad would happen to any of them.  About an hour or so later there was a loud banging on the back door.  Panicked, I looked through the peep hole and saw my Dad standing on the other side of the door.  To this day I am not sure how he got in, the whole mall was locked down.  I just remember feeling relieved that I was no longer the only person responsible for these kids.  My Dad, my super hero.
After we were given the all clear, Mike came running in the back door.  He had rushed over as soon as he had heard what had happened and eventually found a way to get in the building  to check on me (probably wasn't the brightest move but we were 18, what can I say).  The next day, Christmas Eve, Mike showed up at the store at 6 am to help me clean up the mess we had been forced to leave the night before.   Mike, my true and faithful friend.
Honestly, I have not spent much time thinking about that night all those years ago.  It is one of the those things I just don't dwell on that much. However, this past week has brought it back into sharp focus.  Surprisingly, it isn't the terror or panic I find myself thinking on.  Instead, I find my thoughts coming back to my Dad and my friend. It seems that time does indeed bring healing and perspective.
This night in my life, in no way compares to the horrors of the past week.   I don't begin to pretend to understand what so many families in our country are going through right now.  In all honesty, I can't even talk about it yet.  At my doctors appointment yesterday, a nurse began speaking of the tragedy as she took my vitals.  I abruptly changed the topic. I hope I did not offend her; I simply cannot go there.  I am silently sitting a kind of shiva, grieving for so many that I have never met.
This post is my chance to honor two men who were heroes to me on a night I needed heroes.   So from the bottom of my heart I say, thank you to my dad and to Mike.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My Top Ten Character Traits for my Children

This year my parents came to for Thanksgiving.  It was so nice to visit, to see my kids getting to know their grandparents a little more.  With 1,400 miles between us we don't get to visit as much as we would like so we endeavor to make these yearly visits memorable.
After my parents left, I began to think of the lessons and priorities my parents installed in me through my growing up years.  This naturally segued into my thoughts on the important lessons and characters traits I am trying to instill in my own children.  I know what I am aiming for but I have never taken the time write it out. There is power in putting words down on paper.  It takes abstract thoughts and ideas and makes them real and tangible.  As a writer, I find that written words have the ultimate power over me, they become a commitment, a vow if you will.  So today I am committing to paper the top ten character traits I am striving to instill in my children.  It is my public commitment to the goals that are already in my heart.

1.  I will teach my boys to love the Lord their God with all the heart, soul and might.  I will teach them that this love is not mere religion but is a relationship, the ultimate love relationship.  I will teach them the importance of loving and knowing scripture.

2. I will teach my boys the importance of patriotism.  I will teach them to honor those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms and to thank those who put their lives on the line to continue to protect us.  

3. I will teach my boys the importance of hospitality by being hospitable.  My children will be raised in a home that is loving and open to anyone who wants or needs to be there.

4.  I will teach my boys the importance of working hard and doing a job until it is done correctly.  This is a lesson my parents taught me that has made my life so much easier.

5.  I will teach my boys the importance of enjoying the moment, of valuing the place you are in life rather than  always pushing for the future.  I was always so future minded that I missed out on much of what life was offering me in the moment.  I want my boys to enjoy the now.

6.  I will teach my boys to be charitable, not to make themselves feel better but because the only way to be truly human, is to allow ourselves to feel the suffering of others and do all that is in our power to help.  I want my boys to learn to give without strings or conditions.  A gift is only a gift if it is given freely, with no expectation of repayment.

7.  I will teach my boys to love the music, art and literature.  It is important that the love for these is nurtured and explored.  These things add beauty to our lives, they add texture and color to the minutia of everyday life.

8.  I will share with my boys a love of learning.  I will give them every  educational opportunity that is within my power to give.  I will support their interest and give them the resources to explore them.

9.  I will teach my boys the importance of neuro-diversity.  I will teach them that God made everyone and God does not make mistakes.  That they are each fearfully and wonderfully made.  I will teach them to stand up for neuro-diversity themselves as the grow older.

10.  I will teach them to stand up for what they believe in, even when it is not popular and has a personal cost.  I will teach them that this is the truest test of their character: Can you stand when those around you fall?

And those my friends are the top ten character traits I am working on with my boys and to be honest I am continuing to grow in myself.  I am going to print these and hang them on my wall where I will daily be reminded of my ultimate goals.  I know your goals are probably different than mine but I encourage you to put them down on paper.  Just taking the time to form my thoughts and ideas into words was very enlightening to me.  Some of my top ten surprised even me. -Kristine

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