Monday, April 30, 2012

The Power of Love

If you're not local, you may not have heard what happened nearby last night.

To summarize, a 23 year old man got into an argument with his grandmother and aunt, resulting in him stabbing his 69 year old grandmother 'so many times he lost count' while she bathed in the tub.

It's truly a heartbreaking story, but woven into this sad tale is a thread of beauty. As he was brutally murdering his grandmother by thrusting duel-wielded kitchen knives into her body, she uttered the last phrase that would ever leave her lips to her killer- "I love you". 

Her ultimate act of forgiveness was an act that would save lives. Unbeknownst to her, he had intended to go kill the entire rest of his family next, just a few doors down. Upon hearing her final words, he was filled with remorse for his actions. The young man fell to his knees over her body, weeping. He then called the police and turned himself in, leaving the remainder of his intended victims unharmed. 

The power of love is so strong that it can overcome any anger or hatred that exists. It may have been too late for her to save her own life, but even in the throes of the death, her selfless love calmed the sea of anger that this young man was drowning in, ultimately saving the lives of the rest of her family. 

I think the moral of this story is that even when our rage is justified, even when the unforgivable takes place, the path from which peace blooms is still forgiveness. Feeding into the rage just gives the negativity strength; no amount of flames will quell a fire.

Sometimes our forgiveness will be taken for granted, and some people will abuse forgiveness... but this story felt to me like a lesson about Luke 11:4. I know that God forgives my many mistakes graciously, eager to continue to love me with an unmarred view; and in receiving such divine, perfect forgiveness, who am I to rightfully hold a grudge against another of His creations? His grandmother showed faith in action - and because of that faith, her family was spared her terrible fate.

"People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; give the world the best you've got anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God- it was never between you and them anyway."
-Mother Teresa

R.I.P.   Barbara Denmark

Saturday, April 28, 2012

For the love of cheese...

Yesterday evening, I was at work waiting tables when a little family sat down in my station. The mother was middle-aged; she was so friendly, so polite and outgoing- but I could see the weariness in her eyes. I've read too many of your blogs to miss that look. Her daughter was about my age, the mirror of her mother, with long brown hair responsibly tied into a pretty braid. Her younger brother caught my attention. He was probably about 12, a handsome young man. "Hummm-mum-mum"... his crystal blue eyes evaded mine as I asked them each what they would like to drink. "Hummm mum mum..." His mother answered for him: "nothing for him, thanks". He stimmed softly along as his eyes stayed trained on his Gameboy, locked in a world all his own as a busy restaurant whirled around him. 

I came back to take their order for dinner, and they politely ordered two meals: one for the mother, one for the daughter. I asked if the boy would like anything. Sheepishly, the mother blushed at me as she asked, "I don't suppose there's any chance you have a cheese stick back there...? It's all he really eats..." her voice trailed off as if she caught herself asking something insane. She shook her head, embarrassed, and chuckled. After all, it's a beautiful upscale waterfront restaurant... why on Earth would we have a cheese stick?

Years ago, I would have rolled my eyes about these nutty people asking me for a cheese stick in the middle of dinner rush... but because of Jess, and Jeneil, and the other people who share their stories, I knew that this wasn't just about a bratty kid or a cheap mom who only wanted a cheese stick. I was so busy; all of my tables were seated, but I'd be damned if that boy wasn't going to get a cheese stick. I asked my manager, who explained patiently what I already knew- we don't have any cheese sticks. Unfazed, I turned to a dear friend, who is also a line cook at the restaurant where I work. He was a trooper. Despite being plenty busy on the grill, he took a moment. Delicately, he took a big slice of Fontina and started rolling it. It was paper thin, and he rolled it so carefully. When he was finished, he passed me the plate - a perfect cheese stick laying in the center. 

I brought it out with the other meals, unexpectedly. When she saw the cheese stick, the mother's face lit up. Her smile was like a warm hug; it was as if some of the heaviness of the day had been lifted from her. The boy made no acknowledgment, aside from his slender, pale hand floating up from the Gameboy to snatch the cheese. By the time I returned with another water for his sister, all that remained was the small plate that it had ridden to the table on. I wanted to give the mom some little nod, some signal that I 'got it', at least in a small way, indirectly; that I understood what had transpired and that she wasn't the bother that I could tell she felt like she was... but I didn't. Instead, I gave them a cheese stick... and that felt like enough said.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Run for the Cure

Today is the day!!!

If you're in the area, please come out! We'll be at Tarpon Springs High School, on the track, at 1:00 pm.

It's for a good cause, it's going to be a lot of fun, and there are free popsicles for participants. :)

 Pictures to come soon!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Back on Track

After a harrowing few weeks, it feels like things are returning to normal.

I finally received the good news I'd been hoping for from Tarpon High - the run is back on, and scheduled for 4/25, with the promise of that date being rock solid. 

I contacted the sources that be, and updated the date in the publications - so now we should be doing well. 

Aside from directing the SMA 5k, life has been busy.  After the three weeks left in this current semester and the 4 classes I'm taking over the summer, I should be ready to begin my capstone course and graduate. Yikes. To tell you a little secret, I still feel completely unprepared for the real world, degree or no degree. Fortunately, I plan to work for myself, which has pretty good job security. That is, unless I decide to work as a sales rep for a company like DynaVox... but honestly, I don't see anything like that happening. I don't want to harness my creativity to appease the big company that owns me, and I'm suspicious that any corporate profession would be a lot of me doing just that. I also don't have any interest in pushing a user towards a device that isn't necessarily the best fit from him or her to make it line up with the logo embroidered on my shirt. I might not be built for corporate life in the AT field.

I'm also lightly contemplating getting a Master's degree. My gut tells me that I want more higher education, but my fear of getting deep into debt on student loans is whispering that maybe something like that should wait. But if I wait, will I ever do it? Once I have a full-time job and (hopefully) kids, will I be willing or able to go back to school for another two years? I don't know. I'm tempted to apply and see if I get in, as food for thought. If I know which doors are open, I might explore which ones I want to walk through. 

I apologize for the rambling nature of this post. I'm trying to keep myself from falling into the absentee-blogger abyss, and mostly school has been most of my thoughts. Busy, busy, busy.