Friday, June 29, 2012

An Identity.......Crisis? I Think Not!

Until I was 18 years old, my name was Patricia Kaye Marcum.  At 18, I was all set to get my driver's license. I had my Social Security card. I had my record of Driver's Ed. I only needed my birth certificate and I was all set.  So, my mom gave that to me and I was ready to get my license. I was excited! I'd already bought a car.  Then, I looked at my birth certificate.  Wait a minute.  "Uh......Mom?"  I was very hesitant to ask my mother to explain my birth certificate. I was always hesitant to ask my mother anything.  Not because she was unavailable; quite the contrary. It was because she always had so much on her plate; I simply hated to bother her.  She was raising eight kids under the horrid shadow of our dad's violence brought on by alcoholism.  I hated to add problems to her already full plate.

But my birth certificate presented a problem I felt she might be able to explain, or at least shed some light on. So, I asked, "Uh.....Mom? What does this mean?  This isn't my name."  It read, "Patricia Ann Marcum."  Not my name.  

She looked at the birth certificate, frowned, then smiled and said, "Oh!  That's right! I forgot about this. The nurse made a mistake on your birth certificate and I completely forgot to change it."

"You forgot?"

"Yeah. It's no big deal. You are Patricia Kaye, though."

"Well," I responded, "Uncle Sam thinks I'm Patricia Ann since my birth certificate says so.

"Don't be silly. You are not Patricia Ann! I think the song Patty Ann was playing on the radio when the nurse filled out your paperwork. I named you Patricia Kaye, so you are Patricia Kaye."

"Mom, I can't be one person on a birth certificate, then another person everywhere else!"

Mom just smiled and patted my hand and said, "You'll figure it out."

So, I filled out paperwork for the IRS and had my Social Security card and record changed to match my birth certificate. It costs a lot to change a name legally and I've never felt justified in spending money on that, so I legally became Patricia Ann.  

Thus began my confusion over my name. To this day, when someone asks my full name, I hesitate for a few seconds till I decide which one to use in that given situation. Just last year, my 14-year-old said, "Mom, what's your full name?" I immediately asked him if he could please ask me an easier question.  Then, noting his confused look, I told him the story of my name.

When my mother died, my oldest sister was settling her estate and there was often paperwork all eight of us kids had to sign.  All the paperwork my sister sent to me read, "Patricia Kaye Marcum Johnson" and I signed them accordingly.  When the final piece of paperwork was sent, signed and sent back, I called my sister and told her that wasn't my legal name. She had no idea.  I didn't tell her earlier so as not to cause issues with the settling of the estate; I didn't want her to have to change all the paperwork.

To this day, every single time I have to use my legal name for any sort of documentation, I mutter under my breath, "That's not my real name," and I feel a little better.

Today, I read an excellent essay by Dr. Kevin Bauder, all about identity and idolatry. It touched my heart because it reminded me of my real identity not being tied up in a name, right or wrong, but in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Praise be.

It's a good read. I recommend it, even if you have no identity crisis....:)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Why I Still Miss Her so Much

Linda was my sister-in-law, one of my husband's older sisters. She and I had a rocky relationship over the years, sometimes not seeing eye-to-eye on things, sometimes arguing, etc., but mostly loving.  My background was the polar opposite of hers.  She was raised in a Christian home where Christ was front and center. Her parents were missionaries in Ontario, Canada, and Linda learned the ropes of ministry growing up. Before her parents went to the Canadian mission field, they served in pastoral ministry in the US.  My background was filled with violent alcoholism, abuse of all kinds, and no mention of Jesus Christ except in a fit of rage.

Over the years, through our ups and downs, Linda became my true friend.

True friends are hard to come by. I am blessed to have some true friends in my life even to this day, including my four wonderful sisters. (Sisters are beyond special, but that's another blog post!)  But I no longer have Linda.  Linda died young - at age 54 - and that was more than 7 years ago.  I still miss her. I still long for her friendship at times.  Sometimes I'm angry with her for leaving though it's all about me.

Let me tell you what I miss most:

1. I could call Linda any time, night or day, and she never once asked what I wanted or why I was calling. Think about that.  How often do we want people to state their business so we can get off the phone? Linda treated me as though she had been sitting by the phone, waiting for my call, and had all the time in the world, just for me.

2. Linda always, without fail, pointed me to Jesus Christ. We would talk about our burdens, our kids, our extended families, our ministries, etc., and every time, we came back around to Christ.

3. Linda didn't keep track of stuff.  She never kept track of who called who last, how long it had been between calls (we lived 750 miles apart, calls were not always frequent).  She didn't keep track! That meant she didn't keep score.  "Even Steven" did not exist to her and thus, friendship was free to flourish. And flourish it did.

4.  Linda had patience for my past.  What I mean is, none of my problems were ever too much for her to bear with me. I came from a pretty ugly place; it stays with you. It's a rare person who can allow you to feel all the stuff that coming from there leaves you with.

I could go on and on.  What a great gift her friendship was to me!

When she was sick, in her last days, I called her every single day, sometimes twice and three times a day. I had to hear her voice.  She knew she was dying.  She would ask about my kids, each one by name. I could hear the smile in her voice. And when I hung up the phone, I cried. Every time.  I knew I was going to miss her terribly.  In one of our last phone calls, she said, "I love you."

My word.
Praise be.
I will see her again!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

An Adventure in Doing Right

I'd been an active crisis pregnancy intervention counselor for about four years when I met Grace.* Grace was pregnant, wanted to avoid abortion and wanted to put her baby up for adoption.  Because her resources were limited, I would often drive her to her doctor's appointments when needed.  On one such day, I had driven her to her appointment and was in the waiting room, waiting.  As far as anyone there knew, I was just her ride.

While Grace was in the exam room, I helped myself to some coffee that was offered free at a table set up for that purpose. And that's when it happened. Her young doctor, Dr. Mer,* approached me and wanted to know who I was to her.  I told him I had given her a ride.  He replied, "You are more than that to her."

I said, "I'm also her friend."

He said, "Nah, you're working with her."

I said, "Ok, well, even if I am, why do you need to know?"

He replied, without hesitation, "I want this baby."

"You can't have this baby."

"I have people who will pay upwards of $20,000.00 for this baby. I want this baby."

"You can't have this baby. What makes you think you can just have this baby?"

"I know she's putting this baby up for adoption. I know you're involved. I want this baby."

"Then apply to adopt."

He turned to leave, glancing back and saying, "I want this baby."

I was shaken. Stunned.

I took Grace home, went home and discussed the issue with my husband, then called the hospital's chief administrator, requesting a meeting.  I met with him and told him exactly what had happened.  He immediately reassigned Grace to another doctor within the medical group, took protective measures to cover Grace's needs and I heard nothing more.......

......until it was time to pick up the baby.  I was the go-between with the adoptive parents. As I sat in the hospital waiting room, waiting for the baby to be brought out, a very pregnant lady came and sat down beside me.  As I normally do with strangers, I greeted her, smiling at her big belly.  She sat down hard with a sigh and said, "I just can't believe it!"

I said, "What?"

She said, "I came for my doctor appointment with Dr. Mer and I walked into his office to find it completely empty!  Nothing!  It's like he just vanished. A gal caught up with me and redirected me.  I'm so frustrated because at this late date, I have to work with a whole new doctor!"

I was stunned, again. Even though I'd heard nothing more from the hospital administrator, he had taken quick and decisive action against Dr. Mer and protected the women of our city.  Following this incident, there were letters to the editor heavily criticizing the hospital for not being able to keep "good" doctors.

I felt bad for the women who wrote the letters, because they did not know the full story. But, on the other hand, I was so happy for them because their families were protected from a baby snatcher and all was well. I found out even later that Dr. Mer had been involved in a large baby-trading ring.

Sometimes, doing the right thing is hard, especially when other people don't know the full story. I was not in a position to tell them the full story, so I had to learn to rest in the truth, knowing that God's sovereignty would care for the rest.

I'm very glad I spoke up.


*Not their real names

A Great Article

The Illiberality of Liberalism

This is a fantastic article by Dr. Kevin Bauder  Kudos to Dr. Bauder for writing this! It is well written and speaks volumes.  Short post today, but in actuality, there is plenty to read!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why I Listen to My Inner Voice

I listen to my inner voice, that gut instinct that tells me something is wrong.  I listen to it every time, without apology or explanation.  And this is why.  Read this entire article.  Watch and listen to the entire interview. Then ask yourself, "What if this had been taken seriously?"

The airline passengers involved in this incident were practically shouting out their red flags.  James Woods, the actor in first class with them, sensed something amiss.  He was right.  He acted on it.  Kudos to him!  I am very moved by this story since my very own son fought in Iraq with the 8th Marines, more than once, risking his very life as a result of 9/11.

People, listen to your gut instinct. That inner voice is there for a reason.  If you suspect something is amiss, don't worry about what other people think.  Act on it.  Speak up. Say something.

I know the risks involved.  I've avoided danger because of my outspoken ways and my determination to act on my suspicious.

I will continue.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

25 Things I Learned in 25 Years of Home Schooling

Here are 25 things I learned during 25 years of home schooling my 8 children:

1. Home schooling is not mysterious, nor is it hard.
2. My relationships with my kids were not hindered by home schooling. That's not to say we have always been problem-free, it only means that we were not able to run from those problems, teaching us all to hit problems head-on, as they ought to be hit, and solve.  It works.  All my kids are good problem solvers and are not afraid of confrontation.
3. Home schooling is easier than I thought it would be.
4. Life is school, not just our "school hours."
5. Education is like a balanced diet.  You might not see results immediately, but you will over time.
6. Letting each child learn at their own pace is really the best way to go.
7. Relax, let the curriculum do the work.
8. Relax, let the children do the work.
9. When frustration sets in, don't get upset. Frustration is normal. Take a break when it comes. It will come. It is temporary.
10. The world's model of education is not necessarily the best model for educating your kids. Even though the entire world revolves around a school schedule, you get to break out of that and follow your heart instead.  It's much more fun, educational and beneficial to follow your heart rather than a school schedule created by the world.  We created our own and it worked.
11. There will be people who will not agree with your decision to home school. Oh, well. There were plenty of people who did not agree with me even having "so many" kids, let alone home schooling them.  I suppose they got over it........
12. It's vastly more important to instill a passion for learning rather than attempt to impart knowledge.
13. When it came to socialization, home schooling provided the best and most well-rounded opportunity of anything else I saw around us.  My kids got to visit with the elderly at nursing homes, develop deeper relationships with neighbors of all ages, interact with adults more and serve others more often, all because of our home school flexibility.
14. Home schooling is cheaper than public school.
15. Grammar matters.
16. Manners matter.
17. Wildlife activity outside the window trumps book work every time. Without fail.
18. Snow days are ok any time of year.
19. Storm tracking is science.
20. Boys can do laundry.
21. Girls can do mechanics.
22. Boys and girls can both cook.
23. Kids learn from example. My passion for reading often translated into me packing up and taking the kids to the library, where we spent hours at story time, reading on the floor, hauling massive numbers of books home to read and meeting other families.
24. Field trips equal fun and learning.
25. It's important to get the basics, but it's equally important for the kids to run with their passion, whatever it may be. They will get all they need along the way.

So, while there is much, much more I learned during 25 years of home schooling 8 kids, these 25 things ought to give a family considering home schooling for themselves a lot to think about.

I say go for it.  Do it.