What it means to be an American

I used to think that being an American meant we were independent.  I saw strength and that we were better together.

My husband spent some time this summer studying for the US Citizenship test.  100 questions that every American should know, but most likely, naturalized Americans know more than natural-born Americans.  I can speak for myself on this, as I studied right along with him and learned a lot – things I knew, but could not recite from memory.  Well, it paid off and my husband became a US Citizen on Thursday.  He had 11 family members in attendance – four who came from Mexico expressly for this ceremony and seven of us who already live here.

We decided to go through this at this time due, in fact, to the upcoming presidential election in November. He wants to vote.

I don’t want to participate in any political debates here, but I wanted to express my opinion of the state of not just the US right now, but the state of the world.

When I was younger, I grew up believing that challenges and differences made us stronger. It was a point where I could learn something about others and myself and make “hard” decisions that would affect my future.

When did the tides turn? When did hearing an opinion different from mine or seeing someone different from me evoke so much displeasure that it was OK to eliminate it/them? The world would be such a boring place if everyone looked like and thought like me.

What happened to the pride of the “melting pot” that is the US? What happened to compassion? What happened to empathy and sympathy?  We have become cold-hearted and that makes me sad.

When did we become so afraid of something or someone that is different?  I don’t want to live in a state of fear.  That is not what it means to be an American.

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Three in Elementary School

This year we now have three in Elementary School – two in Kindergarten and one in 2nd grade. Boy how time flies. They are not babies anymore. They all have distinct personalities and it’s amazing how identical twins can be so different.

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Top L – The Joker, Bottom L – Mr. Sensitive, R – The Big One

Maximus is independent and serious, always inside his own head.  He loves mommy and loves taking things apart.  Don’t leave a screwdriver around or you’ll see a table in pieces when you get home.  He is the most sensitive and his heart can break easily.  One wrong move can bring on the tears and you will hear either:  “This is the worst day ever” or “I’m going to find a new house” as he rushes away in tears.  He never misses a “hug and a kiss and a tickle” when I’m leaving him and is always available for an extra kiss.

Marcus is the joker.  He thinks everything is a joke and thinks everyone wants to play as much as he does.  He is a risk taker and is afraid of NOTHING. He will jump off the 6th step or climb the bookcase just to say he did.  He loves water and loves when older girls (8-10 years old) pay attention to him and take care of him like big sisters.  He’d be an only child if he could just so he could get all of the attention and he is the most jealous of the three.  He’s tackling Kindergarten like a pro, yet shed many tears on back to school night until he was re-assigned to the same class as  his brother.  Marcus is a natural athlete and will excel at whatever sport is presented to him.

Alexander is the oldest and doesn’t let you forget it.  He is the most easygoing and yet the most stubborn.  He is so good at math, and can read like a pro.  He can translate anything from Spanish to English and loves to show off to his brothers.  He is the perpetual big sibling always trying to “teach” his brothers how to do things yet coming across bossy.  Alexander loves to draw cartoons and is always drawing his favorite characters, looking for pictures/images on Google and drawing them himself.  He has won the Responsibility award, the Respect award and the Creativity award at his school.

I’m a proud mama and sad they’re growing up so fast, but so excited to see what’s ahead.  This is a great journey and I’m so glad I’m on it with these three.  There’s never a dull moment in my house!

Encouragement Central

Boy, don’t we all need a little encouragement….we all need to feel accepted, our feelings need to be legitimized, and we need to know that someone is on our side.  That’s what encouragement is.  Encouraging us to keep putting one foot in front of the other, encouraging us to stay strong, keep our focus in the right place, and not get frustrated or angry at the little things.

When I think of encouragement to me lately, it’s been coming in the form of things I’ve been reading.  Let me share with you a few of the things I’ve read recently that have encouraged me this week:

  1. This article hit home and I could relate: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/samantha-rodman-phd/7-reasons-your-wife-is-st_b_6621940.html – it validated some of the things I feel
  2. “The Struggle of the Introverted Mother” – I thought there was something wrong with me until I read this post: http://www.scarymommy.com/the-struggle-of-the-introverted-mother/ – I love this Scary Mommy Blog
  3. And lastly – ANYTHING from Becky over at Scissortail Silk: https://www.facebook.com/ScissortailSilk – she is one of the most encouraging women I know when it comes to understanding and knowing when we need a little encouragement today – I recommend, even if you’re in a different stage of being a mom – read her facebook posts every once in a while – you will feel encouraged.

So, for me, encouragement is the dictionary definition:  “The action of giving someone support, confidence or hope; persuasion to do or to continue something” – isn’t that what we all want.  I’m not saying that my feelings are always based upon truth, but my feelings are legitimate.  We long for someone to come alongside, whether in person or word and give us some confidence and some hope, to spur us on to continue the race.

I’m thankful for women to write to encourage strangers in their journey.

Comment below on what has encouraged you this week – it could be that someone said something that made you smile, you read something that spoke to you, someone did something you didn’t ask them to do – what has encouraged you this week?

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Response to OSUMB experience

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone for reading and sharing my blog post from yesterday (Drive through it OSUMB).  I have received innumerable comments (which I am still working to moderate and answer) – some in agreement and some that disagree with all or some that I have said.  I want to thank those of you who have disagreed with me, but understand that this post was one person’s experiences and one person’s opinion.  I’m sorry for those of you who cannot agree with me and yet judge me for what I have said.

 

I wrote this blog post as a response to negative media, that was labeling all OSUMB  members (alumni included) as perverts, homophobes and ugly people.  I wanted to remind my friends and readers that we are individuals, each with a story and opinion about an organization that we were a part of while in college.  Naively, I assumed my friends, family and fellow band alumni would read it.  I did not expect that in the first day, over 17,000 people would read it, and respond in force.

 

Because I did not expound on all of the experiences I stated in my blog post, some of you have chosen to think the worst of me and assume, for example, that while I chose to stay in the band, I did nothing to improve the climate of the band, speak up or that I must have agreed with everything that went on off the field, or when I experienced sexual harassment in the past, I did nothing to report it.  I have to disagree with you and your assumptions, as do many of my classmates and bandmates who knew me then.  As a Christian, I stood up and spoke up for what was right, even when it meant going against the flow.  I chose to stay in the band to try to make it a better place for all.  Every organization needs Christians in their midst.  Just because I chose to stay and perform with the OSUMB did not mean I condoned everything that went on privately off the field.  It’s the same to say that just because someone is my friend or family member and I love them, I must agree with everything they do or say.  If I abandoned everyone at the first sign of disagreement, where would that put me?  I’m also not saying that withdrawal from an organization is not warranted in some situations.

 

My second and third years in the band, I helped to lead a Bible study with a few other fellow band members during the marching season.  I can tell you, I never would have had the platform of respect in others’ lives had I – 1) not been in the band, and 2) not stood up for what I believed while in the band.  I can say for a fact that several who attended these Bible studies later accepted Christ and went on to be in ministry or missionaries, while others grew in their faith by seeing some strong Christian examples in the band.

 

I’m not one for cliché examples or quotes, but one comes to mind when I am being judged and told in comments that I should be ashamed of myself or that I am the one who has to live with my decisions.  Jesus ate with the tax collectors (see story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19 or Levi in Mark 2).  Jesus was amongst sinners all his life, as a witness for the “better” life and repentance; the fulfilling life that only He can provide.   I was, and still am, an advocate for change, but change doesn’t happen overnight; change can happen from within, one person at a time.

 

I agree that something must be done.  I agree that mistakes have been made and no one is 100% innocent.  I agree that change is inevitable and that change is a good thing when it protects people from harm.  I just ask that you keep an open mind when listening to the media, because the media I read over the weekend, which was portrayed as truth, was lacking in truth from many angles.  Even the report from the university misconstrued facts about people.  I ask that you “do your homework”, as I continue to do mine, before condemning a man, a band and a university.

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Drive through it OSUMB

As a female former member of The Ohio State University Marching Band in the late 90s, I have been heartbroken reading and following online the firing of my friend, Jonathan Waters, and have been compelled to write in his and my beloved OSUMB’s defense here on my blog.

 

My first introduction to the OSU Marching Band was in High School, when our concert band went on a trip to Columbus and ended up in the Stadium Band Room (the old one), for a presentation by Dr. Jon Woods.  We watched a video of the band, and I just knew it was for me.

 

I (just like Jonathan Waters) was cut my freshman year of college from the OSU Marching Band.  I was heartbroken because I came from Louisville, Kentucky to OSU because I wanted to be in the band.  I loved (and still do) their discipline and perfection on the field.  I tried out my sophomore year and made the band.  While a member of the band, there were fraternal social customs that went on that I did not participate in nor feel threatened to participate in if I did not want to.  More often, I was protected and always given an out by the upperclass in my row, both men and women.  I had more big brothers and big sisters looking out for me than I could have ever imagined.

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I am a Christian and was a Christian while in the band.  While I chose not to participate in some of the cultural norms of the band, I never saw anyone coerced into participating if they did not want to, and participation in “off the field” events did, in no way threaten their marching spot in their row or influence Monday challenge outcomes.

 

The band helped me be the person I am today.  It took this naïve girl and taught me what goes on in the world, both the good and the bad.  It showed me that in every situation, it’s MY decision to choose to participate or not.  As a Christian, I could have quit the band at the first sign of something I didn’t believe in, but I was trained better than that.  There will always be things going on around me that I do not believe in.  I chose to stay in the band and tried to be a positive influence on my friends.

 

I have read the report and the allegations against my friend, Jon Waters and the band.  I am sickened to read the media writing about something they know NOTHING about.  I experienced more sexual harassment working the night shift at Meijer stocking groceries one summer than I ever did in my three years in the band.

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The OSUMB made me strong and disciplined.  Any group who trains hard and strives for perfection will blow off steam when they’re not “on the field”.  Although I don’t agree with all actions and believe that some of the traditions need to be removed or changed, I don’t feel that a voluntary event of “marching in your underwear” (just to name one) taints college kids’ minds.  If you can march ramp in your underwear, you can march in full uniform in front of over 100,000 people.

 

I agree with Sonny Fulks in his article from the PressPros Magazine, “Opinion: Culture of the OSU Band not Jon Waters’ Fault…!” (http://pressprosmagazine.com/culture-of-the-osu-band-not-jon-waters-fault/). He says, “No, if you want to blame someone for what goes on in the OSU band, blame yourself…and the culture of America that has generally become “sexualized”, and accepted, apparently.”  Kids did not learn these behaviors in the band, they knew them way before they landed at OSU, or any other college campus for that matter.

 

Now, as a mom of three boys, I am training them to be strong and make good decisions.  Although they are small, I hope and pray they will be men of honor when they grow up.  Men who look out for each other and others (as my OSU bandmates did for me), who honor and respect women as their father respects me, and who are capable of making their own decisions and owning the consequences of bad ones.

 

Since being in the band, I have worked on university campuses.  My experiences in the band have given me greater perspective on the things that go on with kids on college campuses.   Jonathan Waters was the man best equipped to lead the OSUMB both on and off the field.  He was making necessary changes to the cultural climate of the band behind the scenes, while we all watched on YouTube the wonderful shows that were being performed on the field.  You can’t teach an old dog new tricks overnight, as seem to be the expectations of President Drake, who has only been in office for three weeks.  Your actions have hurt a century old organization and the entire university.  I do not know what you were trying to prove by firing Mr. Waters, but I know what you proved to me…that you know nothing about the OSUMB and nothing about preserving one of the best things about the university – it’s band.

 

To the OSUMB – hold your head high, turn your corners square, and drive, drive, DRIVE!

 

To Jonathan Waters – hold your head high and drive through it.  We love you and stand with you.

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WB

 

#WeStandWithJonWaters

#standwithJon

 

Kindergarten

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My oldest is going to Kindergarten next year.  He and I visited his new school last month, before school was out.  On the way there, I asked him, “Alexander, what do you think Kindergarten will be like?”  He said, “I really don’t know Mommy.”

10339749_792385830785001_3084908545399964001_nWe had a great time, walking around, visiting in the Kindergarten classrooms, seeing the playground, touring the entire school.  On the way home, I asked him what he was thinking.  He said, “Mommy, where’s the big garden?”

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Kinder-garden.

The “trying threes” and what I’m learning this Easter

“It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people.” ~Hebrews 10: 14, The Message

Doesn’t that just sum it all up?  I’m one who wants to be perfect – I hate being a work in progress…I want to learn it, and move on.  But, until I’m with Jesus face to face, the deepest desire of my heart will not be fulfilled, as I will never be perfect on this earth.  I am forgiven and perfect in God’s sight because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, but I still struggle with sin.  I get discouraged so often because each day God teaches me something else where I feel like I’m failing – I know, in my head, that I just need to improve, but in my heart, I struggle with the question, “Why don’t I just do it right?”

Thank goodness for grace.  My salvation is not based upon what I do, my works, but on what Christ did for me on the cross.  If I love him, I’ll obey him.  I do love him, but why don’t I obey him all the time?

I see a bit of myself in one of my three year old twins, Marcus.  He’s a rule follower and hardly ever strays from the straight and narrow.  We both go into situations enthusiastically – especially if we know the rules, because we are good rule followers.  I always say, “If you give me the rules or tell me how to do it, I’ll do it right.”  That’s why this Christianity thing is so hard for me at times – I don’t always get it right and there are times or seasons where I feel like I’m always getting it wrong.  Take, for example, I have two three year olds in my house right now.  That’s enough to make any mom “get it wrong” A LOT.  If you haven’t been around young kids, now I have three, I believe it’s not the “terrible twos” so much as the “trying threes” (trying for the mom, that is).  My oldest’s first eight months of being three were like someone had taken my sweet boy and replaced him with a baby monster.  But at that eight month mark, a miracle happened, and my boy returned.  I’m not facing quite the same with the twins, but the tantrums, the lack of being able to understand reason (times two)…it’s wearing on me, and I seem to get it wrong at least once a day.  My temper rises, my voice yells – it’s almost like an out of body experience at times, where I am watching myself yell…But that’s why there’s grace.  Jesus died on the cross, knowing I’d have twin boys and knowing they’d both be three at the same time.   He didn’t do it so much to play a joke on me (although we laughed for five weeks straight when we knew we were having twins), but more to teach me lessons throughout their lives, and I think I’ll learn a lot of lessons this year of being three.

Even A Girl Like Me

A Preacher's Kid... Prodigal Daughter... Sinner Saved by Grace... Redeemed...Recovered...Renewed

great plans for me

My journey of life and faith

reflection of mercy

Keepin' it real, simple, and grace-full.

Tricia Lott Williford

The Thoughts and Writings of Tricia Lott Williford

The Middlest Sister

There are 5 sisters. She's the middlest.

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