The Gang

The Gang

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mental Illness.....the raw and ugly truth.

I haven't blogged in awhile and I am sorry for that. But what I am going to share today will be raw and unfiltered and not for the faint.....so consider that your forewarning. I am going to make statements and ask questions that don't have answers. And if you're one of those social media "fix all" people then refrain from reading and offering your unsolicited "know all" advice. My BS filter is clogged and I would hate to jeopardize friendships. Just keepin' it real peeps.

Mental Illness. What does those two words mean to you? What feelings do you instantly get when you hear them? It's different for everyone I would imagine. Life experiences tend to dictate how sensitive we are to certain subjects and this is one subject I am INCREDIBLY sensitive to. See while social media makes us all think we know people the reality is without human contact we don't really KNOW anyone. There is something about face to face interaction that gives us an intimate look into the depths of one's personality, character and demeanor. Well for me, many people who aren't close to me do not know that I grew up surrounded by mental illness and spent 10 years of my life thinking I was the one that was crazy. It's true. My mother has suffered from mental illness as long as I can remember and even longer when you ask her. This completely shaped and defined who I am today and ONLY children of a mentally ill parent can understand that. We are members of a club we never wanted to be in and got dragged in kicking and screaming. We spent many years thinking maybe it was us, then realizing it wasn't and we couldn't fix it so we self medicated to distance ourselves from the painful reality that emotionally.....we were alone.

You see parents who suffer from mental illness are often emotionally unavailable and then that gradually becomes physically unavailable until you wake up one morning and it hits you, this is the reality and you can't change it. It sucks. You really are "alone". And just like their are stages to grief....there are stages to this realization. Anger, Denial, Judgement, Anger, Ambivalence, Disconnection, Anger.....did I mention Anger? I lived in anger a LONG LONG LONG time. It was the phase I couldn't get passed because it asked the difficult questions. Why? Why does this person suffer and not that one? Why did I have to have mentally ill parents? (don't get me started on my bio dad). And don't give me the fallen world discussion. I have taken five theology/philosophy classes and can talk religious fallacies all day. It doesn't answer the questions and sure doesn't comfort a child in the midst of such pain. It just is what it is and that's the only answer I have. So while I grew up in this grey storm cloud of emotionally instability and roller coaster mood swings, I could only handle so much. When I turned 15 I went running and never looked back. I told myself that life would never be like that again.

In the years I spent "free" I got to see how normal families functioned. It was the most relieving and hopeful time of my life. All families have issues, thank God, takes the pressure off of trying to be perfect! But not all families were like what I had, it was joyous and refreshing. If you are a child of mental illness you know exactly what I am talking about. The hope is almost tangible! So of course when I became a parent I was excited to give my kids all the things I missed out on....emotional and physical presence. And just like most people coming from traumatizing childhoods we tend to over-correct and the pendulum swings too far the other way. I was (am) incredibly overly protective and overly present. I missed a lot of signs. Maybe even was in serious denial. It took 10 years to come to terms with things about my eldest biological kid that everyone around us already knew. Sad I know. But that was my baby and I was blinded by love.

He was kicked out of preschools, private school and public schools all before age 8. The excuse I always made was "well these schools always label kids" "He's a round peg being shoved in a square hole" "He's just all boy". You name it I said it. Growing up with labels and diagnoses and meds I was all against it. No one was going to pigeon hole my kid. No way. And yep....I was anti-meds for 13 years. I was the all natural, strict diet, high does of fish oil and Valerian root and whatever else I could find at the Herbal Store. They knew me by name and I dropped hundreds of dollars every month loading him up with all natural stuff because I believe that it was "all diet". Bless me. And don't get me wrong, for some people it is. And it's totally common sense. But for some people.....it's not the answer.

Fast forward to the last four years. It's been interesting to say the least. I've learned that labels aren't always the enemy, meds don't solve problems but not trying doesn't either, the mental health machine in this country is the biggest joke of all, and while they have 25 years of education in mental health they will literally ask you questions because they just DON'T KNOW. No one does. No one knows how to help these people and no one can fix this gigantic broken mess of a system (although firing everyone and setting fire to manuals would be awfully fun). So while I accepted the reality of my situation FINALLY and started to scratch the surface of what I may be dealing with I went in with a tiny flicker of anger that has know turned into a full fledged four alarm house fire.

You see while I have adopted kiddos with significant behavioral and emotionally issues.... I was completely prepared and okay with that. You would expect it right? No one could have walked away from what they lived and not be okay. I tell myself this weekly as I clean up the deification from a 9 year old who has been potty trained for 6 years. It's not fun. I'm not always happy about it. But I get it. It's expected. We are going to be working through his trauma (and mental illness) for years to come. But what about when it's your biological child. Where do we point the finger then? Who do we blame? Who do we sit down and show them where they went wrong? I use to be that person who had it all figured out. You know this parenting thing? Yeah I had all the answers and judged so many parents with wayward teens. I could smack myself right now. Because one morning I woke up and simply asked my kid to vacuum behind some chairs and by the end of the day there was a dent in my car, air let out of the tires and knives pulled on me and Chad in front of family and friends. And this same child was laying his head in my lap by end of day with no real understanding of why he did the things he did and not understanding why anyone around him would be alarmed or concerned. Friends and family for the first time ever voiced that they were literally uncomfortable around my kid. You don't know a broken heart until you hear these words.

And two days later I get a call from the school that he has threatened to kill half a dozen people with a pizza cutter if they didn't call him "Snakes" (in all seriousness) because he thought it was funny(but in a stoic, disconnected way). Parents, teachers and administrators were beside themselves because they didn't know him and if this was a serious threat and frankly.....neither did I. So I did the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I admitted my son to the psychiatric ward and walked away. Feeling the space between me and my child grow larger and larger with every step is something I can't articulate. It is suffocating. Long story short I realized real quick that these places don't help either. Like at all. They don't do psychological evaluations (because that would make TOO much sense), they don't evaluate the meds, they just add more and "stabilize". Whatever that means. So I discharged my son AMA (Against Medical Advice) after four days because his meds weren't helping AT ALL and their medical team was saying things like "he has an enlarged heart" "His blood pressure is constantly fluctuating" "He has a rapid heart rate". So guess how I spent my spring break? Parading my son to every doctor in town making sure all his vitals were well and I decided to detox him off all meds (yikes.....worst 48 hours of my life) and slowly add just two back. So that is where we are. Back at ground zero with all kinds of appointments where I have 15-30 mins to catch them up on a week of events only to have no more answers then what I came with and no real help for my kid. I spent 2 hours at his school this morning convincing them that my kid was safe and begging them to fast track his eligibility to get him these specialty classes this district is famous for. And while they are doing their best, the state has "policies and procedures that has to be followed no matter the crisis situation" (said with eyes rolled and a sassy tone)

Because that's where I am at. I am madder than hell. I have lived my entire life with the title of "daughter of mentally ill parents" and now I add mother as well. I am not taking this laying down. In fact I am kicking and screaming. Literally. Close friends have been the sounding board for my tantrums and screaming matches with God. Why? WHY? WHHYYYYYYY?  I have even questioned whether God exists at all. (Extreme religious freaks take heart.....God can handle my questions and STILL loves me. Put that in your pipe and smoke it). So it's a lot. It's been a lot. And I'm handling with stress eating and daily God wrestling matches. It is what it is. So before you private message me with your "I can fix it all with A, B, C" with the assumption that this mother who lives with it 24/7 hasn't thought of that.....check yourself. And Lord with the "God only gives you what you can handle" crap or "I saw your kid for 10 mins last year and they seemed fine" stop and think for a second. You are the problem. You are invalidating people's feelings, struggles, and despairs by saying "Well God would NEVER give ME those issues but you must be stronger so thank him" or "I really know the in's and out's of your kid because I have spent x-amount of time around them in a social setting with 15 other people and I wasn't watching them entirely so I know better than everyone else involved and it's just blah blah blah. Really? Just stop yourself. And I am saying these because I have received such messages and while I have pretty thick skin....I am a person....A MOTHER with feelings. I only need real friends at this point who really want to hold my hand...not point a judgmental finger. Delete me if you disagree...I'll be ok. ;)

"What can we do to help?" I get this one a lot. Um....a tropical vacation would be FANTASTIC! LOL
The stress and tension could be cut with a knife on some days!  Otherwise LOTS of prayer and just checking in. Several people check on me daily and it helps. Nights out with those willing to babysit help. Cards ( I have received a few and I totally treasure them) help. Dropping by my house to speak to said child because all he needs to hear is A, B, and C and he will "snap out of it and be healed" will get you a restraining order. And don't get me started on the praying for healing bit. Lord help me that's obviously been done 1000 times over and we are still here. And only God knows why. Because whether you believe mental illness exists or if it's just all made up or just parenting mishaps or whatever coping label you have come up with, keep it to yourself. I need friends who will get in the trenches and just be presence with us. No one has the answers or the right things to say. But there is power in just being present with someone and that means more to me then any words could say.

So there it is peeps. My truth. I am sure someone is shaming me for putting my business out there for people to see but I only know one way to be...completely transparent. And I know it drives my family crazy but...this is just who I am. Will you stand in the trenches with me?

Also if you are a parent of a child with mental illness or you struggle yourself I welcome encouragement, support and suggestions from people who get it. :)

   

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Experiment---------Finding humor in RAD

So if you have a child with RAD you know that every day is an adventure. 


Yesterday wasn't a good day. And I believe I need about four more notes to drive home that message.

Teacher emailed at 9:30am.... "She is having an off day" (I smile because I am too) "Anything different in your routine this morning or did she go to sleep late?" Look lady, I have 85 kids. I am pretty sure when the herd of children stampeded down the stairs at 8pm that she was included. I am confident I got a toothpaste and slobber covered kiss at 8:15pm to seal the deal that she was in fact, going to sleep. I also feel quite positive that she woke up to the sound of my voice this morning yelling "KIDS!!! GET UP!!! We are running late!!!! (this is an everyday occurrence so rest assured this isn't the kink). But the one and only thing I can recall being out of the ordinary was the GIANT chocolate/chocolate chip muffin she stuffed down her face for breakfast. Now, mind you, the hubs bought these on a whim and for the ADULTS only but when your kids are responsible for feeding themselves in the morning while you peruse your Facebook feed like the morning paper, you can't be held accountable for their nutritious selections. So like an awesome mom....I blamed everything on the chocolate muffin. Even to the principal....my third school phone call of the day ;)

 And so, just like an awesome mom....and because I slept at a Holiday Inn Express last night.......I decided to test my theory of the GIANT chocolate/chocolate chip muffin theory this morning.....Since this would be the only logical way to find conclusive evidence as to WHY my sweet, precious meth-exposed, traumatized, neglected and ATTACHMENT deficient daughter would punch people in the stomach at school for telling her they don't like her and don't want to be her friend. Eat up sweet pea....eat up.

So for now ......we wait. 

Oh and how did I talk with her about her behavior and the three days detention she is facing? Like only awesome moms do...."Yeah sometimes when people hurt my feelings I want to punch them in the stomach too" Karyn Purvis would be so proud.

Happy Parenting :)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dear Svetlana......A letter to my son's mom

Dear Svetlana,

Today is a very difficult day for you. While I get to hug and squeeze our son and make all his birthday dreams come true.....you stare off into the foggy distance and wonder if he even remembers who you are. All I can say is that not only does he remember your name, but he remembers your face too. I can't speak on his behalf, but I believe he is on the road to forgiveness and healing and one day we will all sit in a room together and feel joy. Until that day know this.....I know that no matter how bad things went you never dreamed for your life to be this way. No mother wants to be without her child. And I believe that when we look past the alcohol, the abusive men and all the drugs there is a woman who desperately wants to feel that she has value and worth. There are two people who suffered loss the day your rights were terminated and I want you to know there isn't a day that passes that I don't remember your loss and the cost of adoption.

And while you may not recognize your little Dins Krjuckovs anymore, God is weaving a new part to the tapestry complete with a new name and a solid identity. Our little boy has found peace, he has found security and he has found love. And while it may seem like these "Americans" probably swooped in and saved him from a life of poverty, despair and drug abuse......something no one did for you...... Oh my sweet sweet Svetlana, it is this dear boy who has saved our lives. So while your spirit breaks and your mommy heart weeps today....know your boy.....our boy......is changing lives everywhere he goes...with just a simple smile. And I believe my favorite qualities about him, his tenderness and yes....even his smile...come from the one who brought him into this world. Today... you are remembered and when I smile at him....I am smiling at you. We are raising an amazing boy, aren't we?

Here are just some of the things he teaches me daily.... 


Compassion

Adventure

Strength

Enthusiasm

Risk

Goofiness
Unconditional love

theatrics

excitement
inhibition

Patience

Security
Hope

With love,
The Other Mom


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Look Mom, You are doing a GREAT job!

I haven't blogged in a while....okay...a LONG while but honestly I didn't have anything to say that other blog posts didn't say better. Why re-invent the wheel right? But today I do have something to say and I believe it is timely.

There is SO MUCH mommy guilt going around on the internet that I honestly just can't take it anymore. Every time I log on Facebook, Pinterest, Yahoo....ANYWHERE there is a post or an article telling moms what they aren't doing enough of....hugging our kids, spending time with our kids, spending more time with our spouse, feeding our family better food, being more involved in their school, being more involved in kids sports, not being so involved in kids sports, reading more with them, taking them more places, making more of the household items from scratch, meal planning AMAZING organic-no artificial-no preservatives- HOME COOKED- previously frozen crock pots meals...I mean this list keeps going and going!!! Who can do all that?! NO ONE! Yet we ALWAYS click on them....pin them, forward them, and share them as if to say "Okay candidates for the loser mom of the month club, look what I read and felt convicted on, YOU SHOULD TOO!" AHHHH!!!! It's such a vicious cycle!!

So....Do you want to know the truth?


And yes I thought the Spanish (actually these are Portuguese...oops!) caption gave it a little something extra ;)

The truth is....you know that woman on Facebook that makes all her kids clothes, has her own 3 acre garden, churns her own butter and instantly makes you feel like 1/8th of a mom? She struggles with believing she isn't good enough, that no matter what she does she never feels like she measures up.

You know that girl with all the money, showroom house, nice cars and hip/trendy clothes? She struggles with crippling body image issues. No matter how beautiful we all know she really is, she still looks in the mirror and sees a troll.

You know that family with the kids adopted from 4 different countries and they all skip happily through the fields picking flowers, blowing bubbles and pooping rainbows? Yeah when the cameras aren't rolling they are restraining a child who pulled a knife on them because he was raging over not being able to play video games when he wanted to.

You know that family with the 2 kids, laid back lifestyle that can travel whenever they want, eat out whenever they want and just seem good at everything they touch? Yeah they are DESPERATE for more kids but can't conceive. Everywhere they go they see babies and it's absolutely heart breaking.

You see folks.....there is no greener grass except for in heaven when we will have the same fertilizer man....JESUS.

You were meant to be incomplete....you aren't going to be able to DO IT ALL...EVER...on this planet! Moms-you are never going to be able to simultaneously have a sparkly clean ceiling to baseboard house, organic fresh from the backyard garden scratch dinner, one hour of bible reading followed by one hour of personal ME time, every item of clothing washed, folded and in it's proper place, kids lined up with clean butts, faces, clipped fingernails and collared shirts telling you how "Gee golly swell of a mom you are", you all perfectly put together with actual cute undergarments that match (GASP)-makeup and hair done (double GASP) and .....wait for it....an outfit that cost more than $40 and shoes from the current season ALL IN ONE DAY. AIN'T GOING TO HAPPEN. Trust me. The women from the 1950's tried it and birth the Feminist movement. Let's not go there.....bad things happen.

We are all a 500 piece puzzle with 53 1/2 pieces MISSING on PURPOSE. We need Jesus to help us fill in the holes and frankly....He can only fill 70% until we get to heaven people. So STOP TRYING TO KILL YOURSELF!

The mom that can sew amazing clothes for her kids can't fix her hair or makeup to save her life. The mom with the amazing hair and makeup can't get her kids to LISTEN to her to save her life. The mom with the incredibly well behaved kids feels unloved and ignored by her husband. The  mom with the amazing husband thinks she looks like a troll. The super skinny mom with six pack abs can't boil an egg to save her life. The mom who can cook us all under the table has a house that looks like post Katrina. The mom with the white glove approved baseboards can't homeschool her kids to save her life. The mom who homeschools like she invented it can't even figure out HOW to turn her sewing machine on!

This is reality people. We are never going to measure up to the standards we let society set for us. So the next time you look at some picture on Facebook and feel that mommy guilt creeping in because you can't table set like she can....remember she doesn't set the bar...she is 15 feet below it standing next to YOU looking up thinking "Really? I can't do that either". YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB. Enough already.




Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I will walk through this valley...if you want me to.

Reactive Attachment Disorder-a mental health disorder in which a child is unable to form healthy social relationships, particularly with a primary caregiver. Often children with RAD will seem charming and helpless to outsiders, while waging a campaign of terror within the family. RAD is frequently seen in children who have had inconsistent or abusive care in early childhood, including children adopted from orphanages or foster care.

This has become a new term in our house as the past few months have brought forth perhaps a new reality for us. A normal that may have a FASD/Bi-polar/RAD diagnosis as we sort through all the testing. I have always known what RAD was but had never had first hand experience dealing with it as Nathan, our internationally adopted child, never showed any symptoms. In fact, Nathan has only ever had academic and physical delays as a result of his severe Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and eight years of orphanage institution life. He is the most well adjusted and happy child I have ever met and I believe his FAS saved his life. If he really knew the depths of what he has experienced in his short life, I believe he would have a mental diagnosis as well. But he doesn't...and is possibly one of the best success stories of international adoption to date. This doesn't mean we don't have struggles, but for the most part Nathan is happy and where he is suppose to be.

So when I said yes without thinking to taking Grant and Ryanne back into our home, I am thankful I had obedience without question. Knowing what I know now on the hardest days, I may have answered different. But that's the beauty of obedience....I don't need to know the why's, how's or the when's of the mission, I just need to say yes. It's just like when accepting Christ...if we knew what Christianity would cost, we very well would have answered differently. God is so good that He conceals His fullness to be revealed in natural and spiritual revelations over the course of our lives, to be received at just the right times. Adoption is similar in this way. We say "yes" to the immediate need that a child needs a home and in time it's revealed the truths of what those years without a family did to mold who they have become. But we are in over our heads now, just as with Christ, and we couldn't walk away if we wanted to because we love them and are forever committed, as with Christ. So we batten down the hatches and prepare for the storm brewing and know that all that is needed to weather this will be provided, just as He promised. Doesn't mean it will be easy, doesn't mean we won't, at times, want to run for the hills. Just means He will be with us, walking through the valley..together. I believe there are lessons for me here. Grace, mercy and humility grow in these valleys and I am determined to stop and pick them whenever given the opportunity. So when I am restraining her to keep her from hurting herself and she begins to physically attack me (like yesterday in the presence of company) I will remember what our new, Godly psychologist said to me at the last session..."Honey, you know God made you for this. People look their whole lives to find their mission, their purpose. This is yours. You are doing what God made you to do." May we always remember the greatest callings in our lives don't come with titles, spotlights or accolades....they come in the form of broken humans looking to be loved and accepted as Jesus would have us to.

One of my favorites....

Sunday, April 1, 2012

My 30th birthday wish.....

In 16 days I will finally be 30. It's one of those birthdays that looms in the distance when you're in your mid-late 20's. The big 3-0. What will you look like? Will you finally be old? What will life be like? and the last big question, How will you celebrate?! Well, bless me....I have been planning of this day for years! The idea of a big, fun excuse to dance is all I need to dream big! How about a prom? 80's dance party? Night on the town? A trip to the beach? The idea's are limitless....but in the last few days my heart has been telling me a different scenario. I heard that the Christian Alliance for Orphans is having their annual Summit conference in May at Saddleback Church in southern California where almost 2,000 pastors, leaders, ministry heads and grassroots advocates are expected to attend what is called the national hub for the "burgeoning Christian orphan care movement". Speakers will include Francis Chan, Rick and Kay Warren, Crawford Lorritts, Dennis Rainey, Steven Curtis Chapman, and many others meant to inspire, challenge, educate and equip leaders for adoption, foster care and global orphan ministry. As soon as I read this I felt the proverbial tap on the shoulder, "You need to go". After viewing the breakout sessions that address Attachment and Trauma, Mentoring America's Fatherless, Building Church ministries to address foster and adoption, Mental Health challenges and SO MUCH MORE I knew I needed to be there. They even have an entire intensive workshop day for Social Workers where I am told because I am a current student I may be able to attend as well. This is what I'm called to do, this is why I have spent the last year breaking myself desperately trying to chisel away my first year pursuing my bachelor's in Social Work. This is why I adopted and currently foster lost and hurting children. This is my life calling, for better or worse. So as I review all my birthday choices I have come to the conclusion that all I want is to go to this conference. No new handbags, no cut and color at a professional salon (been over five years), no restaurant gift cards, no shopping trip, and lastly...no ridiculous party. I just want the opportunity to go and begin fulfilling the call on my life. It seems impossible to go with so much going on right now....mental health issues going on with eldest foster kid to the point that we see a psychiatrist and meds are on the table, attorney informing us that it's time to file for termination and it's going to be expensive, my eldest's issues seemingly getting worse, finishing up child psych and phil 204 in a few weeks, all with funds in short supply and did I mention homeschooling everyone? How in the world can I pay for a 3 day conference with airfare, lodging and food? I don't know....but maybe you can help? I'm looking for sponsors to help pay my conference fee of $175, perhaps help with airfare by donating miles, points or buddy passes or help with hotel expenses. It seems a lot to ask but I believe if Jesus is the one tapping me on the shoulder telling me to go then somehow he will find a way. It's time to start walking out my calling and not just opening my home to kids.....it's time to lift my voice and join the fight. Will you help me?

Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit VIII- http://www.summitviii.org/

If you want to donate you can click on the "Donate Now" button on the right side of this blog or email me at laurieclinger@yahoo.com for other ways.

"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you"-James 1:27

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What I've learned in 29 years.....

Socrates once stated, "The unexamined life is not worth living". What a profound statement! As I rapidly approach my entry into the next decade of life and thus, as C.S. Lewis put so fondly; become a real walking, talking adult, I thought it important to reflect on what I have learned thus far. Or in reality, list more the things I have realized I actually don't know and probably will never figure out. Wisdom and age were once thought to go hand in hand as the more achievements from experiences we attained, the more knowledgeable we become. I believe it's the failures in my life that have given me the most wisdom thus far. The risks I have taken, the bridges I have burned, the decisions I've made....all had incredible value. It's only when we really take responsibility for them, reflect on our actions, and take a long, hard look in the mirror of self-forgiveness can we truly attain the wisdom that comes from age. So in my 29 years of life....these are my certainties...

No matter had bad my circumstances are...someone in the world has it far worse....and more importantly....they aren't complaining about it like I am.

Chocolate was made by Jesus especially for me to give me the hope that maybe my day wasn't so bad after all.

My parents are human beings who, like me, screwed up on a daily basis parenting me, and if Facebook had existed, would have dedicated 80% of their posts to the insanity caused by my unwavering defiance.

Best friends really are for life and should be classified in the same legal category as family members.

With that said, family members are God's reminders that we need Jesus hourly.

The only piece of advice given to me by a family member that was not only clean but actually wise was the statement that, "If you hang around with trash you will start to look like it." As such I have become incredibly selective of my company.

Successful parenting basically means that your children will know how to call and give their name, address, phone, DOB, SSN and insurance information over the phone to the therapist to make an appointment and then successfully drive to the pharmacy to pick up their meds.

Nothing is worth going to bed angry. NOTHING. Swallow your pride, forget your rights, and be the first to say your sorry without expectation to hear it back. It just isn't worth wasting the opportunity to laugh with those you love.

I will NEVER be 18 years old, 103 pounds and a size zero again. Things are going to jiggle, sag, wrinkle, and faintly resemble their former appearance. As long as I like how I look in the mirror, that is ALL that matters :)

There is NO such thing as happily ever after....unless you can change your definition of happily to happily dysfunctional... then yes....it totally exists.

With that said the most profound statement to change my married life was that marriage was created to make me HOLY, not happy. If I got married to be happy then I would have to get a new marriage every two years. Holiness is committing my life to my spouse as I promised I would in front of God and a few hundred friends and family. It's time to actually do what we say we are going to do. For better or worse....

I have come to the conclusion that I will never be able to shop in the Misses section. I just can't do it. Youth is wasted on the youth. Just because it's marketed to 12-15 year old's doesn't mean that I can't make it cute. Period.

If I think you are making a mistake, I am going to say something. Not because I want to hurt you or make you feel bad...but because I love you too much not to at least say something. I may very well be wrong but at least you will know that I cared enough to say it to your face.

With that said I am can be a very passionate person who can put unrealistic expectations of perfection on those around me. I am sorry. Bare with me as God burns this away.

When your asked questions under immense pressure, the first answer you give determines the kind of person you are. Take a risk....put yourself out there for Jesus and say yes without the fear of how.

I do not drink. I don't judge those that do but know this, I have NEVER met someone that didn't know a life destroyed by alcohol. Period.

Peer pressure doesn't work on me. I care way too much about what Jesus would think then pleasing a room full of people who didn't send their only Son to die for me.

Some days you just need to break the rules. Cancel your plans, call in sick, don't go to school and pull a Ferris Bueller kind of day. It's cheap therapy.

Sometimes the reality of our immediate despair can prevent us from seeing anything else. Walk outside and look up at the sky. Tomorrow the sun will rise....the tide will come in....the world will keep turning. Don't give up.

Learn to see every angle of the argument BEFORE forming an opinion. This way people will actually want to hear what you have to say.

The longitude and latitude of where you are born should not determine whether you live or die. Which womb you were conceived in shouldn't either. Fight for the injustices of this world. Lives depend on whether you act or not.

It's never too late for anything. If an 88 year old can wake up one morning, decide to go to law school and DO IT, why can't you?

Take the road less traveled.....I believe the presence of God waits for us just around the bend of the overgrown path.

and finally....I want to live a life worthy of the death of an innocent man. Not because anything I could ever do could earn it, but because I at least want to try to make what little world changing I can do here worth it in His eyes. I haven't forgotten His sacrifice....my prayer is for the next 30 years to be notes on a song played over a lifetime spent worshiping Him.