The Blog of Ruth

Random Wisdom & Stuff that Matters to Me

Blessed to Miss You Terribly February 3, 2014

Filed under: Family,Inspiration,Love — SuperTitan @ 6:06 pm

daddy2Thursday will be my father’s 77th birthday. Last Tuesday was the 2nd anniversary of his death.

This morning as I sat in church, my thoughts inevitably turned to my father, a Moravian pastor. He had 70+ years of good health, then 4 and a half years of ill health prior to his death. At the time of his life-altering aortic dissection and stroke, he was playing golf, mowing his yard, and teaching his 10-year-old grandson basketball. Of course, we expected him to live forever. He was a kind, calming influence with a dry wit and balanced approach to life’s challenges. His childhood was undeservedly difficult, but he persevered, served God and others, married wisely, and made good choices. Still, at the time of his death he was a shadow of himself, unable to do nearly everything that brought him satisfaction or joy. Why?

Why? It’s a question I’ve never expected to answer but continue to ask. Please don’t tell me it’s God’s plan. I cannot believe in a God who would cause something so tragic to befall this faithful servant. Every day, our family – my mom, my sister, myself, our husbands, our children – every day, we suffer his loss. We feel his absence keenly and we grieve. We miss him terribly.

We know we were blessed to have had him in our lives . . . to have benefited from his unconditional love, his quiet wisdom, his supportive presence, his back pats and shaking shoulders, his uplifting humor, his gentle manner. I think of people estranged from loved ones, or those who knew only an abusive or absent father. I realize it is a gift to miss my beloved daddy.

daddy3

And he’s among us still. Echoes of my father resonate in the sure strides of his grandson Jake on the lacrosse field, in the corny puns of his colleague John, in the lush green of the 18th hole, in Andy Griffith’s southern drawl, in our pastor Stuart as he serves communion in his crisp, white surplice. We sense Granddaddy’s approval when celebrating the achievements of his wonderfully talented grandchildren, and of course, when the Braves or Panthers win.

My dad would “knock a hickey on my head” if I left you with the impression that I blame God for life simply happening. With us every step of this difficult journey is the very God my father served with such devotion. God gave us strength to carry on through the darkest days and nights. God showed up in the form of caring friends and thoughtful volunteers. God still provides inspiration and solace through scripture and prayer. And it’s God who links us to these precious echoes of my father each and every day.

So, yes, God, I get it. And Daddy, please know how blessed we are to miss you terribly.

Fam03-requested for enlargement

 

Shane’s Story May 29, 2013

Filed under: Inspiration,Kids,Random Stuff — SuperTitan @ 7:47 pm

My nephew, Shane Burcaw, is a bit of a media star at the moment. He’s all over the blogosphere, and just finished up an East Coast speaking tour. He’s become the subject of many a video, news story and blog post. You can read about him at his tumblr blog. Start at the beginning. I will warn you, his language can be pretty raw but the story’s worth reading.

The whole journey’s been really wild and weird at the same time. I’ve watched from the sidelines, proud of Shane and what’s he’s doing, but with a bit of discomfort relative to the media coverage of his journey. I recently read a blog post by Bill Peace, a blogger with a lot to say about living with disability.  I was righteously indignant when I first read it, but on a second and third read, decided it was a great opportunity for me to articulate what is really unique and positive about Shane’s wild ride.

Here’s my response to his post:

Bill,

Your post helped me get words around parts of Shane’s recent media journey that I’ve found unsettling, but have been unable to articulate. So, for that, I thank you.

I am horribly biased here; Shane is my nephew, the son of my husband’s brother. I have known him all of his short life, which has extended far beyond his original prognosis. Every day we have with Shane is a gift and we, his family, are profoundly grateful, as we are for each day we have with all of our children, nieces, and nephews. Burcaw children ROCK, that’s all there is to it. We watch Shane continue to live his life, to write, start a business, make new friends, and experience far more than we ever thought possible, and we are happy. We laugh and enjoy life with him. Burcaws do a lot of laughing.

2013-05-29 19.55.07I have a larger point too, one that doesn’t include me telling you to “get stuffed.”  Yes, Shane’s message is simplistic, and yes, I do cringe when I see how the video producers have dramatically emphasized the terminal nature of his disease and go on about his courage (though he is absolutely courageous). And, I absolutely hate it when he talks about his private parts on his blog with 300,000 followers!! Ugh. How is this elevating the dialogue regarding disability rights? I’ll tell you — it’s not.

And that’s just fine.

Shane’s audience is not your audience. It’s not my audience. Not even close. Shane spoke yesterday to middle and high school students in an alternative setting. These kids have disabilities of their own, mostly mental and behavioral, and are on the fringes of society, screwed over by every “system” with which they interact. They are mostly poor and African-American. When Shane spoke to them, you could’ve heard a pin drop. He talked about his life, his disease, and some of the challenges he faces. He did talk about being positive in the face of life’s adversities, whether large or small, though he used simpler words, like “suck.” Afterward, he took questions. The kids asked him how he took tests, how did he eat, did he sleep in a normal bed, what were his fears? One kid stood up and thanked Shane for coming and for talking  to them about his life. I believe he may have used the word “inspire.” Then, we all had cake together to celebrate Shane’s 21st birthday.

You’re right – no laws were changed, no one waxed poetic on the lack of rights afforded those with disabilities, though we did talk about how several large men had to lift Shane’s gigantic wheelchair onto the stage because it wasn’t accessible. But , those kids now know more about what it means to be disabled. They know Shane’s not developmentally disabled just because he looks like a “T-Rex” as he says. They think it’s cool they can follow him on Twitter. They know that even though he’s a little, funny-looking white kid, he’s a lot like them, with fears and insecurities along with hopes and dreams for a better future. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect those kids might now think twice before parking in a handicapped space.

So, okay, “inspirational porn” is a bit harsh, but I can see how you might feel that way. I encourage you to close YouTube and go on about your business of elevating the dialogue, important business which absolutely needs to happen. And Shane will keep on talking to kids about life and how it doesn’t have to suck. He’ll tell a few jokes when he does this. And we’ll be laughing with him all along the way.

burcaw kids 2010

Burcaw children, 2010. 

 

The Expectancy of Advent December 2, 2012

Filed under: Advent,Inspiration — SuperTitan @ 5:50 pm

A Moravian star emergency.  This rare predicament is unique to a particular subset of the population – Moravians. We are a small church,  one of the oldest Protestant denominations in the world. There are about a million of us world-wide, with less than 10% of that number residing in North America.

110-pt star

A Moravian star emergency is likely only to happen during Advent, the season of the church year leading up to Christmas. That is when Moravians (& others) display the Moravian star, beginning with the first Sunday in Advent and ending with Epiphany, the celebration of the wise men’s arrival on January 6. So, back to my pastor friend, for whom Advent is quickly approaching (three days!) and for whom the sanctuary’s 110-point Moravian star is not working! He has called all experts in the workings of Moravian stars, and as you can imagine, this is not a very long list. Having done all he can, he realizes with some anxiety, all he can do now is . . . wait.

Waiting. . . we all do it, though it seems in these days of immediate gratification that we are not content to wait long before we become frustrated and irritated by our waiting . . . for traffic to clear, the doctor to appear, for the web page to load, for dinner to arrive. Waiting frustrates us because we have so many expectations . . . expectations of clear roads, efficient service, quick internet speeds, fast food. We are impatient people, full of expectations. Our waiting is not peaceful or contemplative.

Yet Advent turns all this on its ear. During this holy season, we are required to be expectant, to wait. Waiting is an intentional part of Advent as we anticipate the coming of the Christ child. We hear in Jeremiah 33:14 the words of promise . . . “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.” We wait.

“Behold, a promise. . .” No frustration here, only hope. For with the birth of one small child, a tiny babe in a manger, our “hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee.”

Stop. Breathe. Wait in hopeful expectancy for the coming of the Lord. As Advent arrives and we prepare for the celebration of Christmas, how do we wait? How might expectancy help us behold God’s promise?star and nativity

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Come, thou long expected Jesus;
born to set thy people free;
from our sins and fears release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

(Words: Charles Wesley, 1744. Music: Rowland H. Prichard, 1830)

And oh yes, my friend’s waiting paid off. The beautiful star was fixed in time to shine brilliantly for the first Sunday in Advent. The season of hope and expectation has arrived!

Some inspiration for the post came from Behold! Cultivating Attentiveness in the Season of Advent by Pamela Hawkins. This book is available for individual and small group use. You can find it in The Resource Center, Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries, 500 South Church Street, Winston-Salem, NC.  www.moravianbcm.org

 

The Assist November 17, 2012

Filed under: Inspiration,Kids — SuperTitan @ 2:18 pm

(Note: this story was first written in early March of 2012. I just noticed it in my draft post list and decided to go ahead and publish it, since it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.)

Assist, n. 1. An act of giving aid; help. 2. Sports a. A fielding and throwing of a baseball in such a way that enables a teammate to put out a runner. b. A pass, as in basketball or ice hockey, that enables the receiver to score a goal. c. Official credit that is given for such a pass.

My son, Jake, is a lacrosse player. Since his first experience with the sport, when he announced to me (at age 9) that lacrosse “is my destiny,” to today as the only freshman on his high school varsity team, the boy has lived and breathed lacrosse.

His high school team is “rebuilding,” which is a nice way of saying they aren’t very good but have tremendous potential. A new coach with discipline and a plan has helped tremendously, but we know that part of the reason Jake is playing varsity is because he is one of few players with several years of community league experience. At a different high school with a more established team, Jake would be playing JV and playing it well. Here, he’s proving to those upperclassmen that he can hold his own on a varsity squad. The pressure is rather intense, as is Jake. He wants to do well, he wants to learn, and he wants to be a team player. Amazingly, not traits that all lacrosse players share. But I digress.

The team had their first home game last night, playing a new team with even less experience and skill. We scored so many goals in the first couple of quarters that Coach was able to put in a variety of players to give them some experience. One of those kids, we’ll call him Jordan, is a special needs kid. Not quite sure what his issues are, but he seems to process life a little differently than the rest of us. He’s a senior and the written policy is that seniors can’t play JV. The unwritten policy is not to cut seniors from a team, so Jordan is playing varsity. He has no real hope of ever seeing much game time, so this big blowout appears to be his opportunity.

Coach puts Jordan in the game at attack, an offensive position that circles the goal and hopes to catch a pass they can immediately shoot and score. The ball makes it way to Jake, who has an open shot at the goal. Remember, this is a kid who loves to score, who NEEDS to score to prove to his older teammates he’s got the chops. So, what does he do? He sees Jordan hovering near the goal with no defenders on him, since he is not perceived as any kind of threat. In a split second, Jake passes the ball to Jordan, who shoots, and to everyone’s  amazement, scores.

Pandemonium ensues!! Jordan is euphoric, jumping up and down, running to embrace his teammates on the sidelines, who hoist him to their shoulders while the crowd goes wild. If this had been on YouTube, it would have been a instant classic. I turn to the mom beside me, just as she says, “Did Jake pass that ball to Jordan?” “Yes, yes,” I nod, “I believe he did.”

I can’t quite describe the feeling that came over me as I realized Jake made that moment happen. If I were the Grinch, I would say my heart grew three sizes that day, but my heart is already pretty normal-sized, so I’d use that old cliche that my heart “swelled with pride” instead.  Jake went on to score at least once in that game, but when you ask him what the highlight of the game was, he says, “Jordan’s goal.” I smile and agree, but for me, the highlight was, and always will be, the assist.

 

How to Start A Movement August 3, 2010

Filed under: Inspiration,Leadership — SuperTitan @ 3:36 pm

I’m liking this:

Definitely worth the three minutes!

 

Seven Commandments According to Ruth January 5, 2010

Filed under: Inspiration — SuperTitan @ 1:19 pm

 

Still working on my fabulous self-help book — I can’t imagine it will ever be done, as I am waiting to resolve all my “issues” first!  Whenever it is done, these “Commandments” will be part of it. Consider this a sneak preview!

  1. Accept what is. This is your life – today, right now – what you want is not what is real – what is real is what is – right now! (Compassionate acceptance of self and others and the entire situation exactly as it is will lead you to freedom. – Cheryl Huber)
  2. Pay attention. Another way to say “live in the present.” Be alert to your surroundings and the actions and feelings of others. Avoid dwelling on the past or forecasting the future.
  3. Expect nothing. Be pleasantly surprised! This is not as depressing and cynical as it sounds. We are often let down when our “hopes and dreams” do not turn out the way we believe they should. Why continue to set ourselves up for disappointment when we can live free of expectations and be happy?
  4. Take nothing personally. Why do we continue to believe that the actions or non-actions of others have something to do with us? This does not absolve us of responsibility; it just means the world isn’t out to get us.
  5. Be kind to yourself. Humans are not perfect – this has been well-established throughout the annals of time! Yet we continue to hold ourselves to impossible or unrealistic standards and beat ourselves up over the slightest failing. We must be kind to ourselves.
  6. Honor yourself and others. Two words but a whole book could be written on them. This requires responsible action. What kind of life do you need to lead to honor yourself? Change is incremental but always happening. This also includes issues related to balance and taking care of ourselves. An extension of honoring yourself is of course, honoring others. Think the greatest commandment.
  7. Be who you are. What more can we say? Embrace who you are and enjoy what you have to offer your family, friends, the world.

Be aware, these are not just pithy statements you can re-visit every few weeks or months or years. Success (is there such a thing?) requires constant re-visiting, daily revisiting. I find whenever I am out of balance, depressed, or unproductive; inevitably, I am violating one of these commandments. The worst offenders? 3, 4, & 5.

On which commandments could you use work?

 

 
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