Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Happy 10th Birthday Robert Corry, Jr!

Rob came into our lives when we absolutely needed him the most, yet expected him the least.  If you don't know what I mean, then just take my word for it. He's the one who named me "mom".  He's the one who completely changed my perspective of the world - of what's good and just and perfect.  He's the one who was gifted to me when I believed I was so undeserving of the responsibility.

I was convinced Rob was going to be a girl.  I didn't find out what gender I was carrying until about 8 months - at that point I would have just waited until birth, but my prenatal health was declining and we all needed to take a closer look.  So this "girl" of mine was going to be named Meredith Grace Morris - MGM.  Just in case I was wrong (pssshaw - as if!) Bobby and I decided we needed a boy's name, too.  I was dead set on Roman or Rocco.  There is always something so magical and miraculous about expecting a baby, but this first pregnancy of mine breathed new life into our happily-ever-after notions that Bobby and I had long since tucked away.  Therefore, when I knew that "Meredith Grace" was only imagined, there was no doubt my "Roman" should be named Robert Corry Morris, Jr.   And 10 years later, that decision has never been questioned... see for yourself!

As I sit and reflect on 10 years of parenting, Rob's olend of the best and worst Bobby and I have to offer still fascinates me. For instance, he loses his patience with others very easily (Bobby). But only because he believes in the goodness of others, which frequently disappoints him (me).  Rob is strikingly handsome and tall (Bobby) with light brown hair and dark eyes (me).  He has a dry wit (Bobby) and a huge imagination (me).  Rob loves sports of all kinds (Bobby) but unfortunately he has the coordination of a one-legged kangaroo (me). Rob is a natural born story-teller (definitely me) and loves to work a crowd (both of us).  People are drawn to Rob for his loyalty and trustworthiness (definitely Bobby).

Ten years!  It seems hardly possible!  I know the next 8 years are going to FLY; soon we will be moving Rob to some Ivy League college Tuscaloosa as he begins college.  But for now, I still cherish the times he lets me snuggle up close to him and remind him that he is always, always going to be my sweet baby Robbo!

Happy birthday Rob!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

I'm a Christian and I Celebrate Halloween

Go ahead.  Pray for me and I will return the favor.  Celebrating Halloween is not likely near the top of "the list".  There are many, many things for which I should atone myself.  Nevertheless, I am a Christian and I celebrate Halloween.  The two aren't mutually exclusive, you know.

As a Catholic, not only do I celebrate Halloween, but I observe All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day on November 1st and 2nd.  So Halloween is simply the Eve before Hallows.  Hallows' Eve.   That's not to say that we completely ignore the traditional fun and revelry.  We decorate our home and trick-or-treat in costume on October 31st.  We love to watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and we do carve our own pumpkins.  If you're interested, there's a great teaching moment relating God's love for mankind to pumpkin carving here.
My front porch got a makeover today.  And all I had was my iPhone to photograph it at dusk.  Oops.
I will admit that I set some limitations where I see fit.  This year my younger kids will masquerade as a mermaid and a puppy dog.  I'm not sure about Rob's costume, but it will not be anything full of blood, weaponry, or occult influences.   I do not, under any circumstances allow my kids to watch the titular film featuring Michael Meyers or any counterparts.   My decorations include the traditional colors of orange and black with spiders, webs, and witches.  Wait...witches?
Visitors to my home are welcomed by these "legs"...
Halloween, as a celebratory holiday, offers many variations of Pagan idolatry and faith in the occult.  You can't truly have Halloween without touching on some of these traditions.  But just because I decorate with an occasional witch doesn't mean I explain or expose my children to witchcraft.  The only witches they really recognize are those from The Wizard of Oz.  Oops...wizardry.   You see, Satan and his influences circulate my children every day.  From the time they board a school bus and head to their agnostic public school, to the moment they come home and watch less-than-safe Disney channel and Nickelodeon, unholy temptation surrounds their minds.  I cannot and will not raise them in a bubble only to have them self-destruct when they finally leave my home.  On the contrary, I think that when I teach them Christian values and then expose them to the opposite, these are learning experiences.

I'm really pleased with how my front door turned out.  You can't tell now, but the spider is glittery.  Closer to Halloween, I'll put a black-light bulb in my porch light for a cool effect.
Does this make me a hypocrite?  Is Jesus disappointed in me, his fallen creation?  I don't think so.  In this home we recognize that nothing is perfect except God Himself.  We understand that perspective is the key to staying true to His word.  Can we say "Trick-Or-Treat" to our neighbors and still be good disciples of Christ?  I believe so.  Feel free to pray for my wary soul if you think I'm wrong.  And I welcome all your kind, insightful comments.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Times Have Changed...Unfortunately

If you are a loyal reader, you know that my 9-year-old plays little league football.  We love football in this home - everything about it.  Unfortunately after last night's practice my husband (a.k.a. Coach Bobby) came home completely rattled and sharing his frustration.  He said things that began with "When I was a kid..." and "When my dad was coaching..." He was talking tough.  He mentioned that he would like to keep those boys outside until midnight or later if it took that to get a certain play right.  I said "well, do it!"  Yeah, right... Coach Bobby then said the following phrase

Times. Have. Changed. 

I rolled those words around in my mind.  I internally argued with them, shredded them to bits.  But I kept coming up short on rebuttal.  Times have changed.  And that is not okay with me.  Later last night Bobby sent out an email to our team which went a little something like this:

Some of you may have noticed the practice tonight was far less than great...heart and desire must come from within...it is not taught...lack of focus and desire by that player not wanting to do his job...some players are starting to lose their positions...game plan for Thursday night...will take all of us doing our jobs in order to pull off the upset.

Somewhere along the way, we have taught today's children that sports are just for fun.  In doing so, we have also have greatly misused the "it's just a game" sentiment.  What previously inspired contestants to shake off a loss and work harder for the next victory, now indicates that wins and losses don't matter at all.  And this is a problem in the long run.  This generation we are raising is in trouble!

You may have heard the quote pictured above.  It's pretty powerful when you think about it.  Uncoachable kids are those who do nothing for the greater good of the whole team.  They are the kids who think their actions are correct - regardless of reality.  These kids do not respond well to constructive criticism and they do not acknowledge the power of a mentor.  In Much Ado style, I want to take this one step further...

Kids who do not value winning and losing become adults who do not respond to success or failure.  You guys, it does matter if you win or lose just as much as it matters how you play the game.  If our kids fail to learn this now, imagine the adults they will become.

When you are ill and go see a doctor, does it matter whether he makes you well or not?  Of course it does.  How he treats you is important, but if he treats you with excellent bedside manner and you are still sick...you would think that doctor has failed.

Some of my blog readers are teachers.  When you are in front of your classroom, does it matter whether they are learning or not?  Absolutely.  It is very important that you treat your students with respect and that you mix in some classroom discipline.  But whether you are evaluated on your students' report cards or their standardize test scores, trust me...those figures matter.

Most sales-based jobs come with sales goals, performance quotas, and required reports.  Sure, it's nice if you enjoy your job.  It's great if you have camaraderie with your coworkers.  But come quota and report time none of that matters if your numbers don't align with expectations.

Bobby was right.  Times have changed.  The world is a much more dangerous place, due in part to an overly relaxed set of family values, morals, and Christianity.  We as a people are dangerously desensitized to sex, violence, and otherwise foul behavior in the media.  But if there is any hope for this to correct itself, this up and coming generation needs help.  And I believe organized sports -- when handled correctly as in "the good ol' days" -- is a great opportunity to reinstall these values.

What are your thoughts?  Does it matter whether you win or lose?  Do you think I am over analyzing this or is it possible that we can turn our kids into the adults we wish the world had more of?  Comments, please.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Forgiveness Is the Heart of the Matter

I have a heavy heart right now.  The few times I actually watch the news it all seems bad and worse.  Yesterday I relieved my mind of some very deep thoughts on guilt.  I also tried to process crime and punishment.  It seems that the two don't always go hand-in-hand, but perhaps that's just the way the world works.  We have to be concerned with ourselves first.  As consistently as sunrise and sunset, people - myself included - will continue to make mistakes, bad choices, and errors.  So aside from consequences, what is the one thing mankind needs in order to move forward?  Forgiveness.

Remember my mentioning Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice yesterday?  As a sinful human, I love the following passage more than anything else:

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes. (IV, 1, 180-187)

What Portia is saying in TMOV is that you cannot force an angry person to be merciful.  Furthermore, when leniency is coerced, it really isn't compassionate at all.   However, when forgiveness is offered, it benefits both the guilty and the prosecuting parties for their own reasons.   Consider this:

When someone wrongs you - be it physical or emotional harm - it's only natural that you feel anger towards that person.  Possibly you become fixated on concepts like karma, anticipating negative things to enter into the aggressor's life.  Sure this is common behavior and comes naturally.  But remember we are a fallen creation.  While we were created in God's image, we are also stalked by Satan who has waged an eternal war against our salvation.

Think about times when you are filled with anger, wrath, revenge.  Physically you may present a scowled face.  You may have stressors inside causing you to feel ill.  Emotionally you can concentrate on nothing else.  In devoting all of this emotional energy on the downfall of another person, you are really sacrificing energy you could be spending enjoying other aspects of your life.

Is this falling on deaf ears?  Are you comfortable forgiving and moving on?  Okay consider this:

A more difficult task is learning to forgive oneself.  Once you commit an offense, you should make up for the error in a choice of ways: offer an apology, make some restitution, or do penance. And then move on.  But can you?  Do you ever get a gnawing pit in your gut when you encounter a former vice?  Do you ever avoid awkward conversations because you are never quite sure if you are forgiven?  If you feel affected by a guilty conscience, perhaps it's because you have not forgiven yourself.  You are perpetually convicting yourself of a past wrong doing.  Is this justified?  Or are you committing cruel and unusual punishment against yourself.

Have you ever sat around with a group of friends and played the If-I-Could-Live-One-Life-Era-Again-What-Would-I-Change game?  Boy am I good at that!  I have so many things in the past I would change in a heartbeat.  There are plenty of situations I would handle differently, some as superficial as my questionable fashion sense in the early 90s and others that I hold much closer to my heart.  I mentioned this to a confidant recently, and she quickly set me straight.  She reminded me what I should already know:  If you could go back through life, undoing all of your past mistakes, how and when would you ever learn the accompanying lessons?

Regrets?  I have a few.  Guilty Conscience?  I still recognize that feeling from time to time.  Nevertheless,  I believe that if you are living with regret and/or if you frequently feel like the world is condemning you, perhaps it is you who cannot forgive yourself.

Do you have tips on how to let yourself off the hook?  Do you have a favorite scripture, self-help book, movie, or other media which has really inspired you?  If you are brazen enough to confess, what is your biggest regret and how do you choose to overcome that regret?  Or do you?  I would love to know I'm not alone, so I look forward to your comments.

Update 9/22/2015: If you are new to my blog due to the Blogelina Commentathon, welcome!  I hope you stay a while.  I'm an emotional person and sometimes you will see light, fluffy tutorials.  Other times I'll share a great recipe or two.  Then there are times, like this super popular post, when I blend real life and Social Media life by writing about my heavy heart.  I have always believed writing/journaling/blogging is a great way to process my thoughts.  I hope you stick around beyond this event; we could be great friends!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Though Justice Be Thy Plea, Consider This:

I'm currently binge-watching the last few episodes of ABC's How To Get Away With Murder in anticipation of the new season coming up.  Gosh I love this show.  It's truly a guilty pleasure of mine. Viola Davis is everything.
© ABC Network
Then my brain starts working in overtime, and all of these words and phrases start spinning through my mind:
guilty pleasure
get away with murder
punishment that fits the crime
get away with...

I don't reference Shakespeare as often as my blog title would suggest.  But The Merchant of Venice (TMOV) is, hands down, in my top-three all-time favorites of his works.  As a student, I was tickled that I could understand it all on my own cognizance.  As an educator, I was pleased that its themes of friendship, justice, wealth, racial stereotypes and mercy were truly timeless and resonated with so many of my students.  As an adult I have so many real-world people who play the parts of the characters - a rotating cast, if you will.
Al Pacino as Shylock 2004 © 2004 Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc.
In TMOV, several characters are forced to face the consequences of their choices.   There are superfluous decisions like elopement, moral dilemmas over usury and semi-gambling, and even grand theft larceny.  The character of Shylock -- at once a small-claims court plaintiff -- attempts to get away with murder claiming "justice" served (think a bad check writer being sentenced to Lethal Injection), but his plan is foiled in a most ironic way.  Though he professes to stand on the letter of the law, Shylock reveals quite clearly that his real motive has nothing to do with right or wrong, justice or injustice, but with his desire to destroy another human being.  How often do we, too, use good intentions as our excuse to be unusually cruel or condescending on our fellow peers?

Everyday I see inconsistencies in life.  I see drivers receiving speeding tickets as I (wrongfully) drive 15 mph over the limit past the scene.  I hear about good, well-meaning people being laid off from their jobs while I receive pitifully poor customer service from a lacksidasical employee.  Or I hear of people charged with crimes being punished completely differently based on the strength of their lawyers and/or the socioeconomic background within which they exist.  It just doesn't seem fair!  It doesn't seem right.  I was having this very conversation with a close friend yesterday.  We were saying things such as "(s)he hasn't learned a d@mn thing!"..."(s)he will eventually get what's coming." "The system played favorites instead of doing what it's supposed to do."  Are we right?  And more importantly, do we have the right to feel that way?  I am neither judge nor jury to my peers.  I am simply a person who has lived a life full of choices, mistakes, retribution, lessons, growth, improvement.  Aren't we all?

I think the big picture is consequence, and the most important outcome is growth and/or change.  As Christians we are called to follow the law of the land, but only until the law contradicts with how Jesus taught us to live.  Jesus didn't just say "You who are innocent throw the first stone," He also said "Go and sin no more".  He recognized us as sinful people and He openly said that we had to die (completely change our ways and our desires) before we could live forever.   It isn't up to me to decide whether a person is sorrowful or remorseful.  But it is my duty to live the best version of my life in accordance with what will help me gain entrance into Heaven and to hold others accountable when they are failing in the same area.

Crime and punishment, despite being inherent in a person's mind and soul, is processed in the most errantly human way possible.  So there will always be episodes of the system getting it wrong.  There will be times when one person must give that entire pound of flesh -- blood and all -- and another simply has to feel the prick of the knife before being saved.   Again, I am not judge or jury and I have no desire to be.  But I have made mistakes, I have overcome bad choices, and I will be happy to share my lessons with you.  After you serve your punishment -- however large or small, cruel or cautious it may be.

What do you think about crime and punishment?  Have we become a revenge-hungry body of people?  Why does it always seem that money and/or power triumphs Lady Justice's scales?  What's more important: that the guilty pay or that we - who are all guilty of something - seek self improvement in order to be a beacon of strength and hope to others?

Hit me up in the comments.  And be nice!