Stepparents

For my stepmom’s birthday I thought it would be good to write a blog about unsung heroes – stepparents.

We hear so much negativity about stepparents that even the word sounds ominous. I was looking up some info about being a stepparent and, to tell the truth, it’s overwhelming. The whole thought of entering a child’s life, being put in the role of mom, but not really. I imagine there is not a clear cut right or wrong way of step-parenting, there are just too many dynamics involved, though you could probably find “experts” that will assure you they know best.

Stepparents come into what are often messy situations and many have to learn to parent in a torn environment.

For me, I was young when my parents divorced, the third child of four. A lot of what I remember from those days, months afterwards is darkness. First, we were taken away from our home and away from my dad. Then my dad re-married and we were taken away from my mom and introduced to a “new” mom. My dad had custody for the school year; my mom had us in the summers. I remember often being confused and wishing my mom and stepdad would move in next door, so I could have them all around all the time.

I remember being torn by guilt as I grew to love the woman my dad married and started thinking of her as a mom.

Family Photo at Bush Gardens

 

As an adult, looking back, I think about what it had to be like for her. She married a man with four children and instantly became responsible to parent them. If that happened today, you could read all kinds of advice on being a stepparent (not necessarily good advice, but advice non-the-less). But back then, I don’t think they had a lot of advice for how to instantly become a parent to four children.

What I’d like her to know today, on her birthday, is how much I love her and count on her. I would like her to know how I remember waking up from nightmares and she’d be there. How we’d go sit at the far end of the house, away from the bedrooms so we wouldn’t wake anyone, and she would listen to my dreams and offer comfort. Then we would talk, and she’d tell me stories or even play a game with me. Then I’d go back to bed and sleep comforted.

Later, I remember her sleeping on the floor next to me, as I slept on the couch after the suicide of a loved one. When I’d wake up in the night, she’d be right there, and we’d talk, and she’d comfort me, and I’d go back to sleep.

I remember sitting in Howard Johnson’s, drinking coffee and sharing stories of our faith, our life. I remember the things she taught me as a child, like how to sweep an entrance way, how to clean, and especially the times she would hold me on her lap and patiently teach my how to spell. I was a terrible speller. She made flash cards and would drill me. I remember not being able to spell beautiful and she said when you have a word like that just say it in your head the way it’s spelled, be-a-u-tiful. Amazing the things that stick in your mind as special – I still spell beautiful that way and it makes me think of her and what a beautiful, special person she has been to me throughout my life.

So mom, I want you to know, where I use the distinguishing phrase stepmom for you, it is a name of honor. You came into a home with four children (eventually 5 after you adopted another child) and chose to love us, and have continued to love us unconditionally, in our strengths and in our weaknesses, in our successes and in our failures and on this, your birthday, I want to say a heartfelt thank you. I love you.

Laborers Who Brighten the Day

May all our labors plant seeds of hope and love.

This morning I woke up thinking about Labor Day and about the laborers who brighten my life. As a home maker, one of the places I frequent is the grocery store, so the laborer I woke up thinking about this morning are the ones who brighten the day for those of us doing mundane things like grocery shopping.

I’ve lived in the same house for the past 20 or so years, and shop regularly at a couple of local grocery stores.

When we first moved to the area, we met Willie.  Willie worked at Harris Teeter and I believe his job was to greet and care for the customers and he did a wonderful job of it. He always made us feel special and welcome. He’d talk to my children and ask about how everyone was. Once I told him we were heading off on vacation to visit my family in FL and he said wait a minute and walked off and then came back with a bag of candy which he gave us for the long drive. He was always doing things like that, things to brighten people’s day.

One of Willie’s jobs was to set up the annual Easter egg hunt behind the grocery.  We didn’t usually go to these because we had a lot of other activities going on and he noticed and commented on the fact that we didn’t show up for the hunt. The next year he invited us, so we decided to go.

There were kids all over the place hunting for the eggs hidden in the grass. My son who was around two or three at the time found two eggs. Easter Egg HuntWillie came up to him after the hunt and asked him what he had found.  Jeremy showed him his two eggs. Willie said, “There are some children that didn’t find any eggs, can I have one of yours to give to one of them?” Jeremy handed Willie one of his eggs. Willie looked at me and smiled and I thought what a great man Willie is. He was always giving us things, always asking about us and brightening our day, but this day he gave my son the opportunity to share what he found with someone else. In his special way, Willie was teaching my son to be generous. This sticks in my mind so powerfully. He could have said aww you only found two eggs, there were a lot of children who found many more, but instead he made him feel fortunate to find two and also gave him the chance to share his good fortune.

Another time, in that same grocery store, I was shopping alone and the butcher came out from behind his work area and walked up to me with a look of concern and asked, “what’s wrong?” I was startled, and asked, “why do you ask?” He said, “You always have your kids with you, always… and they are not here.” I told him my husband had been in a bad accident, hit by a car while bicycling and was in the hospital and friends were helping me out and the children were home with some of them. He not only took time to notice, but he came and asked when he saw something was wrong and he let me know that he’d be praying for us. God brings comfort in so many ways!

These laborers, the cashiers, the bakers, the deli workers, the produce people, the ones who take time to smile, to say, “Hi, how are you?  How are the kids?” (and still ask, even though they are grown), and mean it… I’ve been blessed to have them in my life and am so thankful for them. When I think of them and see their smiling faces in my mind, I ask God to remind me to pray for them and I thank him for the friendly faces and kind words of strangers.

4th of July – Declaration of Independence

Happy 4th of July

God Bless America

The Declaration of Independence

In Congress, July 4, 1776. The unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America.

WHEN, in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s GOD entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the Causes which impel them to the Separation.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their CREATOR, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that Governments long established, should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.

HE has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.

HE has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

HE has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyranny only.

HE has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.

HE has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.

HE has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining, in the mean Time, exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions within.

HE has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

HE has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

HE has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.

HE has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their Substance.

HE has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the Consent of our Legislatures.

HE has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

HE has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

FOR quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:

FOR protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

FOR cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:

FOR imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

FOR depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:

FOR transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:

FOR abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule into these Colonies:

FOR taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

FOR suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.

HE has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection, and waging War against us.

HE has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.

HE is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with Circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.

HE has constrained our Fellow-Citizens, taken Captive on the high Seas, to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

HE has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes, and Conditions.

IN every Stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every Act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.

NOR have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them, from Time to Time, of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our Connexions and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of Consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the Rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

WE, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in GENERAL CONGRESS Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connexion between them and the State of Great-Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of Right do. And for the Support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of DIVINE PROVIDENCE, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and oursacred Honour.

John Hancock.
GEORGIA, Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, Geo. Walton.
NORTH-CAROLINA, Wm. Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn.
SOUTH-CAROLINA, Edward Rutledge, Thos Heyward, junr. Thomas Lynch, junr. Arthur Middleton.
MARYLAND, Samuel Chase, Wm. Paca, Thos. Stone, Charles Carroll, of Carrollton.
VIRGINIA, George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Ths. Jefferson, Benja. Harrison, Thos. Nelson, jr. Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton.
PENNSYLVANIA, Robt. Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benja. Franklin, John Morton, Geo. Clymer, Jas. Smith, Geo. Taylor, James Wilson, Geo. Ross.
DELAWARE, Caesar Rodney, Geo. Read.
NEW-YORK, Wm. Floyd, Phil. Livingston, Frank Lewis, Lewis Morris.
NEW-JERSEY, Richd. Stockton, Jno. Witherspoon, Fras. Hopkinson, John Hart, Abra. Clark.
NEW-HAMPSHIRE, Josiah Bartlett, Wm. Whipple, Matthew Thornton.
MASSACHUSETTS-BAY, Saml. Adams, John Adams, Robt. Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry.
RHODE-ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE, &c. Step. Hopkins, William Ellery.
CONNECTICUT, Roger Sherman, Saml. Huntington, Wm. Williams, Oliver Wolcott.