Tuesday, July 22, 2014
One morning while doing some writing in the coffee area of a local store I observed a wonderful example of parenting unfolded in front of me. That morning I said my normal prayer regarding this work and asked God to use the Holy Spirit to inspire me to carry His message in through this project. It did not take long for God to send me a message and an important one at that.
I was standing in line at the courtesy desk at the Martin’s Food Store in Eldersburg, Maryland. The guest ahead of me was a woman with her middle school age son. She had come back in the store after loading her car. Apparently, as she loads her car she compares the items to receipt. When she did that she realized that she was not charged for a watermelon and a case of water. No one would have known the difference. She could have left with a free watermelon and case of water but she did not. Instead, she demonstrated for her son what integrity is all about. She returned to the store to pay for those items.
What a great example she set for her son!!! Remember folks the kids are always watching and learning from us. This mother taught her son the importance of integrity and doing what is right even when no one is watching. Good job, Mom!! You rejected passivity and demonstrated appropriate behavior for your son. I encourage everyone reading this blog to think about the behavior that you are modeling for your children and those around you.
Friday, July 11, 2014
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
His recent success in the World Cup Tim Howard has become a household name and we are starting to hear about his Christian faith and how his faith has helped him cope with his Tourette’s syndrome. Until now Tim has been known more for his athleticism and body art than his faith. But the story of his faith is an important one that cannot be lost.
Tim was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey on March 9, 1979. His parents Matthew and Esther Howard divorced when he was three. His mother had primary custody but his dad maintained a constant presence in his life and encouraged Tim and his brother to be active in sports. Tim’s preference was basketball and soccer. In sixth grade Tim was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome which is characterized with physical and verbal tics.
As Tim struggled with Tourettes, he knew he could count on his grandmother for peace and stability. His grandmother, who he called Nana, had a strong Christian faith which she shared with Tim. Tim has observed “Nana's sense of peace was so powerful because it came from her faith in the Lord.”
"Through her, God revealed His love for me as well," he said in an interview. "It wasn't long before I was following in her footsteps. I wanted the same kind of faith and peace she had, and that is exactly what God game me."
Howard, isn’t shy about sharing his faith. “I’m certainly just a vehicle for Christ,” he said, “and He moves me and the Spirit moves me in miraculous ways – that’s from dealing with Tourette’s syndrome to the pressures playing on a level like this and in England in the Premiere League. I just try to rely on faith.
“I’m not perfect,” Howard continued. “I’m far from it and that is the reason I do need Jesus. I try to live it. … I stumble, as many people do, but always in the belief that I’m loved and that I’m meaningful.”
Tim credits God with giving him the gift of athleticism which has helped him in his battle with Tourettes. Tim observes “Today, I am blessed to be living a dream. And yet, if it all went away tomorrow, I know I would still have peace. That probably sounds crazy to most people, but that's the kind of peace Christ gives. It is rooted in His love, and it surpasses all understanding.”
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
This is a true story but in order to protect the privacy of the people involved the names of individuals, geographic locations and institutions as well as dates have been changed. The birth mother was 15 and the pregnancy did occur in the mid 1980’s.
Ida was 15 when she first learned that she was pregnant by her 16 year old boyfriend. Her first reaction was to have an abortion. Her mom, a registered nurse that worked at Holy Name Hospital, told her that before she made a decision about having an abortion that she would need to have a sonogram in order to determine how far along she was in her pregnancy.
During the sonogram Ida learned that she was 3.5 months pregnant and she saw the baby’s hands and it looked like the baby was waving at her. As soon as Ida saw the baby’s hands she knew she could not abort the baby.
Ida’s parents were divorced and her dad was not active in her life. The child’s father wanted nothing to do with the baby. In fact, he and his family were upset because Ida would not have an abortion. Because of her experience of growing up without her father in the house she felt it was important that her baby have two actively engaged parents. This combined with the fact that she was only 15 she decided to place the baby for adoption.
This all happened during summer vacation. When Ida returned to school she felt the stigma of being 15 and pregnant in the 1980’s. Many of the other students were upset because she would not abort the baby and was “ruining” the birth father’s life. Other girls wanted to beat her up. One day her mom found Ida crying in her room. Ida told her mom that she felt there was no reason for her to live after the baby was born.
The next morning as she was getting ready for school she heard her mom talking with friends in the living room. When Ida entered the living room she was told that she was going to be admitted to Mount Holly, a nationally recognized psychiatric hospital on the outskirts of the city. It was while hospitalized, that Ida realized that her pregnancy was not a problem but a condition. While the road ahead was still going to be rough, Ida now understood her situation and was equipped with some coping skills.
During her hospitalization her mom was called to Ida’s school and was advised that Ida was not going to be welcomed back. She was told Ida’s presence was causing a disturbance. Coincidentally, a co worker had given her a piece of paper with the names of Norman and Nancy along with a phone number and told her that they might be able to help. Ida’s mom, Joan, nervously dialed the number and when Nancy answered the phone, began to explain why she was calling. Nancy interrupted and said “We have been expecting your call. God told us someone would be calling us this morning.” Nancy and Norman were very understanding and helpful. They helped arrange for Ida to be admitted to the Mary Magdalene House for unwed mothers that was run by the local Holy Spirit church. Things were going well for Ida at the Mary Magdalene House until Ida learned that the adoption agency that the church worked with required that the baby be placed in foster care prior to adoption. That did not sit well with Ida. It was not long after that Ida learned that private adoptions were possible. Her mom made arrangements for Ida to leave the Mary Magdalene House and to have home tutoring while the search for adoptive parents began.
One thing that was important to Ida was that she be able to speak with the prospective adoptive parents. She was surprised at how many were not willing to talk to her. Ida was starting to get discouraged thinking that no one wanted her baby. Then it felt like God’s hand went to work once again. Someone from school heard that Ida was looking for adoptive parents. This person knew a couple who wanted to adopt a child very badly and their prior attempts to adopt were not successful. She connected the adoptive mother, Erin with Ida’s mom. Erin was willing to speak with Ida and everything connected. Erin was a nurse who was planning to be a stay at home mom. Erin’s husband was from Ireland where the family had a summer home. There was a large and loving extended family which meant the baby would have lots of cousins and lots of love. Ida and Erin spoke several times during the pregnancy. On April 29, 1986, little Brendan was born at Holy Name Hospital. Holy Name is the same hospital where Ida’s mom worked as a nurse. The hospital Chaplain, Father Sean Reynolds was very helpful and supportive.
The next few days were an emotional roller coaster for Ida. She loved her son but knew it was best that she give him to a family who could provide for him in a way she could not. Then the day came May 3, 1986. It was time to turn Brendan over to his adoptive parents. Ida wanted to dedicate the baby before she gave him up. Father Reynolds understood that this was important for Ida and arranged for a ceremony to take place in the hospital chapel. The lawyers handling the adoption sat in the rear pew, the adoptive parents waited in another room as Father Reynolds conducted the brief ceremony. There were flowers on the altar for Ida. At the conclusion of the ceremony Ida placed Brendan to the altar and her mom’s best friend handed her the flowers. Then Ida and her mother left the chapel. Father Reynolds and her mom’s best friend stayed with Brendan.
As Ida left the hospital clutching the flowers she felt as if she was being carried by God. The way she explains it, God gave her peace and comfort. She never slipped into depression and never questioned her decision. The only regret that she had was that she was not able to speak with another birth mother who had gone through the process of giving up a child for adoption. She felt it would have made it easier to speak to someone who had done the same thing. In the years since Ida has counseled four girls who decided to give their child up for adoption. She said it was very rewarding and is proud that three of the four birth mothers opted to have the same dedication ceremony that she had for Brendan.
A week after the adoption, Erin called Ida to let her know that everything was ok. On Brendan’s first birthday Ida received a picture she had requested. She said that was tough. When she saw the envelope in the mail box she immediately knew what it was. She was shaking and then fell down and cried. It was then she realized that she was not ready for any more pictures. Since that time Ida has married and now has two children, a boy and a girl. When Ida was 26 and the son from her marriage was 3, he had some medical issues and they needed to get the medical history of his biological brother. Ida spoke to the intermediary and was happy to learn that Brendan was happy and healthy.
There were other times that their lives crossed paths. Ida recalled a time when she came very close to actually running into her biological son and his adoptive family. A friend had a place at the beach and wanted Ida to come. As they were going over dates her friend said such and such a date would be good because her other friend who was staying at the beach house would be leaving for Ireland. It turned out her other friend was Erin and that if she had gone to the beach house on the date her friend suggested she would have met Brendan and his family as they were leaving.
In 2004, Ida received a phone call from her dad. He told her that Brendan was trying to get in touch with her and had called his house. Her dad gave her Brendan’s number and she called him. Ida recalled she knew it was him when he answered the phone as he had the same voice as his biological father. They had a nice conversation but before she would agree to meet Brendan she wanted to speak to his mother and receive her blessing. It seemed like an eternity as Ida waited for Erin to get on the phone. Erin was pleasant and said she was happy that Brendan was able to locate her. During their conversation they decided that they wanted to meet in person as well. Erin said “I have waited 18 years to meet my angel.”
Today, Brendan has a relationship with his birth family as well as his adoptive family. Ida said giving up Brendan was the hardest thing she ever had to do but she would not change a thing. It was the right thing to do at the time.