DFW Crossroads

One year ago, last September, after clocking out for the day, I walked down the hall to catch the elevator.

As I headed to the elevator and pushed the call button, the elevator doors slide open and a tall young man with a rolling suitcase and a puzzled look slowly exits the elevator. I wait for him to exit and then proceed to enter the elevator. I see him look over to his right and then over to his left like he does not know which way to go. As the doors are getting ready to close, I see him turn, facing the elevator and I realize he needs help. So I stopped the doors from closing, exit the elevator and we begin to converse.

I figured he may need help locating his floor or find an office. Although, seeing him coming off the elevator with a suitcase did catch me off-guard.

He asked me if this is the way to the airport terminals. He tells me he is flying out and needs to get to his gate.

I told him that he was not inside the DFW Airport but rather, he was inside an office building. I asked him how he got to our office? I figured he must of drove and parked inside our garage, then took the elevator up.

It is not uncommon for people to drive to our building looking for the DFW airport and terminals. However, usually we encounter them in the garage or on the service road as we are leaving and redirect them on their way. He said his driver dropped him off there.

I felt so bad for this young man, who was now stranded. I could tell he was young and he seemed vulnerable, lost.

I was angry at that driver. How dare he drop off a passenger in the middle of a very large complex with no safe way of walking to an exit or entering inside to the airport. Not to mention the time and security restrictions a passenger needs to get safely to their gate.

While our office is located at the DFW airport, we are not inside the airport. To get inside the DFW airport, you have to drive through the tollbooth. To get to our office, you have to drive on the service road. GPS software sometimes will get the location wrong. And it can be tricky for those trying to navigate with so many signs and options.

I knew there was no easy way, roads or walkways, that connect our building with the airport. In fact, the airport even has tall high security wire fences that resemble prisons.

Could he have called Uber or Lyft? Possibly. But again, locating our office can be tricky. In addition, this would have added time and another expense on top of what had already cost him. And I had no idea how much time he had to get to his gate. For me, it was 10-15 mins of my time. I told him I would take him to his terminal/gate.

I said, “My name is Karen.” He told me his name is Jaden. I thought, wow his name is similar to my sons. As we were walking through the garage towards my car, I joked with him halfheartedly but half serious, looking closely at his eyes, with a somewhat serious tone and said, “You are cool, right? We are cool, right? I don’t usually pick up strange men.” He chuckled and said. “Yes, ma’am.”

I also figured, worse case scenario, our interaction was recorded in the hallway at the elevator. My employer has camera’s both inside our office and outside in the hallway. So I would at least have a “last scene” location.

He too, needed to trust me, a complete stranger. We both called on trust and faith in a moments notice.

On our drive to the airport terminals, I learned that Jaden, who is from a small town in Florida. was away from home for the first time, in his first year of college in Corsicana, TX, also a small town of about 23,000 people.

Jaden had a death in his family, so he was flying home to be with them. He had hired a shuttle service he had located through the college, to drive him to the DFW airport, which is about 75 miles north of his college. The driver took the service road instead of taking the tollbooth road to the airport. The driver then stops at our building, (Jaden said the driver didn’t really know where he was going and basically tells Jaden he needs to get out there), and drops Jaden off at our first floor garage and drives off! He leaves this teenager, who is 1000 miles away from home, 75 miles away from his college, both are small towns, stranded with no where to go in one of the largest cities and largest airports in the United States.

I am piping-mad and so upset that a driver would do something like that. I told Jaden he needs to call the company of that driver and tell them what happened. I told him he should get a refund or at least get a partial refund. I told him that I would be more than happy to confirm his complaint. I even told him I would call them for him!

So yeah, maybe I wanted to drum up my “Karen” skills.

I kept thinking what if this happened to Jaren or Noah. He was close to their age. I would hope that someone would help them in their time of need and keep them safe to their next destination.

I dropped Jaden off at the terminal and got out to say good bye. We took a quick picture. And I even txt’d Jaden three days later to be sure he got home safely to Florida. He responded, he did.

While I still get irritated thinking about what that driver did, I also feel like it was divine intervention. I had an opportunity to help someone. It was like my motherly instincts just took over. Jaden needed a little help and I was in a position to do so. I kept thinking about Jaden’s mother. I wanted to be sure he got safely to his next destination so he could get home to see his family, his mother. I was doing my part, as one mother to another.

The next day, at the office, I shared my story with a couple co-workers. I even got to watch my interaction with Jaden on the video that captured everything. It was interesting to watch it unfold. I saw first hand, that it literally only takes one second to make a choice and make a difference.

I sent Jaden a txt today to see how he was doing and to ask him if he minded if I shared our story and our picture. Jaden gave me his permission and said, “I’m very fine with it.”

Then I sent Jaden a picture of me and MY two sons. I hadn’t told Jaden that I am a mother of two mixed race sons. It didn’t seem necessary or important at the time. Who I am should not be reflected by anyone else but me, as a person and by my actions.

I also had not shared this story or shared this picture on any social media. Only a couple co-workers and my son, Jaren knew. However, the time seems right to do so now.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/935me3/an-rnc-speaker-said-cops-would-be-smart-to-racially-profile-her-own-son

With everything going on in our country, and people like Abby Johnson, a white adoptive mom, saying that it would be “smart” for police to racially profile her own trans-racial, mixed-race, adopted son because “he’s going to grow up and he’s going to be a tall, probably sort of large, intimidating-looking-maybe brown man,” I felt it was time to share this story.

Nothing about Jaden’s size or skin color made him intimidating. I had initial concerns only because I did not know him at all! It was a chance encounter and I would have proceeded with caution no matter what the color, gender or age of the person. However, after being with Jaden a short time, I could see and feel his sweet and genuine nature.

I adore Jaden! In the brief moment we shared, he has made such a positive impression on me and I still think fondly of him one year later. I can only imagine how his family and friends must feel to share his presence. I know I have been honored and graced to do so.

I hope one day, when he finishes college and does great and important things, he will look back fondly on our chance encounter as a positive memory, knowing none of us can judge a book by it’s cover. And then pay it forward.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” 1 John 3:17

Jaden and Karen 2019 at the DFW airport terminal

Yesterday

Yesterday, I drove from Dallas to Houston to attend the funeral of my dear friend’s mother. I had only met Ms. Shirley a couple times but I knew her through her daughter, my friend of seventeen years. I knew her through her legacy of her children, and grandchildren; their compassion and yet strong character, their will to succeed as humans and as citizens in a society that can be flawed and heartless at times.

The ministers announced that we were there to celebrate Ms. Shirley and her life. And it truly felt like a celebration.

All those who came to speak, knew Ms. Shirley personally. They referenced, “It takes a village” and said Ms. Shirley had a devotion to her “village” which included not only her kids, but her extended family; nieces and nephews, grandchildren, and even those in her community. Two people from the neighborhood stood up to speak on behalf of the neighbors. One woman, a childhood friend of Ms. Shirley’s daughter, who grew up in the neighborhood, shared that Ms. Shirley often times led that village. Ms. Shirley looked out for her neighbors and was there for the kids in her community. She always had food to share, an ear to listen, and a home that kids could visit and feel safe. She was the neighborhood friend, mother, or grandmother that helped keep her community strong. The woman then expressed her gratitude to Ms. Shirley and asked all those villagers from the neighborhood to stand, which they did so proudly.

The minister referenced “the dash”.  He asked if we all knew what the dash meant and then went on to explain. On our tombstone, we have a date of birth. Then we have a date of death. The dash between those two dates represent all the time we spend in between life and death.

Ms. Shirley, who married, had six children, was widowed, and became a single working mother, was still able to find food, time, and money for not only her family, but also for her village. Her nephew declared that her faith carried her through difficult times.  Then he joked how Ms. Shirley sometimes would say that the younger generation didn’t know how to stretch a dollar. As a single mother myself. I could appreciate that. Although, I only had two mouths to feed, mine and my son’s, I still understood what it meant to be on your own and how to make a dollar stretch.

As I sat there in the pew, I heard one minister say how Ms. Shirley would not come back for anything in the world because she was at home, in peace with her father in heaven. While I do mostly agree, in my ear, I heard her say that she would give one more day to be with her kids. I couldn’t help but wonder if Ms. Shirley whispered this in my ear so I could share her words with her children. And what loving mother wouldn’t give to have one more day with her kids. Being a mother myself, given the chance, I would. And no doubt in my mind, that Ms. Shirley would also.

As mothers, we try to impart our wisdom, our teachings, and our lessons to our kids so that we can prepare them for their future. Our legacy is not only in their genes, but in our words spoken to them and in their childhood experiences and memories. Every moment we spend nurturing our children carries on to future generations.

The same is true for those in our community. Our kids are paying attention. I remember on two different occasions my sons acknowledging me for something I did for another person, a random act of kindness. Afterwards, they said, “That was really nice of you”. Funny, because I don’t remember what I did, but I remember their response. It touched me greatly. I thought to myself, these are lessons I want my sons to remember. No doubt, that Ms. Shirley’s children were impacted by her generosity and outreach in her community. I know that my friend, her daughter, is one of the most generous and giving persons I know and I feel truly blessed to call her friend.

In a world where we hear too often about mass shootings, hatred, bigotry, and divisive opinions, it is so refreshing to hear about one woman who loved her family and her community and how that community grew, bonded and became stronger because of her.

 

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Frederick Douglass

 

The Dash Poem, by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
From the beginning…to the end

He noted that first came the date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years

For that dash represents all the time
That they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
Know what that little line is worth

For it matters not, how much we own,
The cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile,
Remembering this special dash
Might only last a little while

So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash…
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent YOUR dash?

GPS – Plan B

I am in awe sometimes at how the universe works its way in and out of our lives.  I use “universe” as an all-inclusive way; Father-Mother God, angels, spirit guides, transcended loved ones.  I think they all move in and around us, guiding us, showing us, and speaking to us in unorthodox ways.  Sometimes some of us may get caught up in the literal and not fully comprehend when someone is being led by some unforeseen guide.  The spiritual words and lessons are more like codes and it is up to us to pay attention to the details.

Let me give you some examples.

I’ve had some pretty amazing synchronicity experiences or coincidences over the years.  And after I met Brian, my children’s father, things really began to kick up a notch.  I always felt as if we were being drawn to each other.  When we met the first time, I felt as if I knew him, as if we had shared worlds and lifetimes together.  When he looked at me it was as if he could read my every thought and feel every emotion inside my body.  I wasn’t always comfortable with that.  Out of that deep connection and passion we felt for each other, came my first born son, Jaren.

The first time I remember something extraordinary at work in the universe was about six months after Jaren was born.  We were still living in downtown Dallas at the time.  There were four malls that were about the same distance from us; one to the east, one to the west, one to the north, and one to the south.  We’d been to all of them.  This day, I drove to the one west of us which was in Irving.

It was close to the holidays so the mall had extra vendor booths set up in the center of the passageway selling their specialty items.  These booths are seasonal.  Some only come for a day or a weekend.  With Jaren on my hip, I strolled through the mall.  Soon, we came upon a booth that had four rectangular tables in a box formation with two ladies in the middle and binder folders with clear sleeves lying out on all the tables.  Their sign showed they had biblical names with poem meanings.  As I walked closer to look, one of the ladies asked me what my son’s name was.  I told her that I was pretty sure they would not have his name, especially since they were pre-printed inside the clear sleeves.  So she asked me again.  I told her, “Jaren.”  She smiled confidently and pointed to a binder book with the “J” names.  Then I told her she probably had the original spelling of his name.  So she asked me how I spelled it.  I spelled it for her.  J.A.R.E.N.  She again reassured me that they did in fact have it.

I was in awe for many reasons.  First, I didn’t know that Jaren’s name was biblical.  I had not seen it in any bible and when we think of biblical we think of names in the bible.  The second thing is the name Jaren was derived from Jaron, a Hebrew name meaning, he will sing, he will cry out.  And thirdly, I had not seen or heard anyone with the name Jaren or Jaron for that matter so it was an uncommon name.  How often does a person with an uncommon name find their name spelled the way they spell it on something that is already pre-printed or pre-made, not a specialty item made uniquely for them?  I can tell you that I have not since ever seen Jaren’s name pre-printed on anything in any store that I have shopped at.

When we name our child, we want it to fit them.  It’s such a powerful thing to give your child a name.  It becomes a part of them and we want it to say something special about who they are.  I thought long and hard about the name I chose for my son.  This confirmation gave me reassurance that I had listened to my spirit guides and chose the name that was meant for my son.

A year later, our office moved from downtown Dallas to Irving, which I talked about in another post.  Jaren’s daycare was also located downtown a few miles from our downtown apartment.  I would drop Jaren off at daycare and then drive to work in Irving.  Well, about a year later, the downtown daycare closed at that location.  However, the teachers were moving to another location located in a large office building for a well-known, world-wide corporation.  This daycare was designed to serve their employees.  Want to guess where they moved?  Yup!  Irving.  Of all the cities this daycare facility could have been relocated to in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex, they moved to Irving.  Sure, I could have found Jaren another daycare in downtown Dallas and had considered it but I thought if I moved him with his current daycare at their new location, he would at least have many of his same teachers.  I thought that would be better than having a new building, new teachers, and new classmates.

I began to see a trend.  Something was drawing us to Irving.  And while we didn’t move right away, it wasn’t long after we did move to Irving.  Now, while that is pretty awesome in itself, there is still more to the story.  I would later learn that Brian’s sister worked for that well-known corporation, in that very building that the daycare moved into.  Just to put that in a little perspective:

DallasFort Worth, by population, is the largest metropolitan area in Texas, the largest in the South, and the fourth-largest in the United States.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dallas%E2%80%93Fort_Worth_metroplex

These messages were clear to me and I was able to easily see the path.  All of these choices guided me and my family to our highest good.  I felt optimistic and confident after making these choices.  I didn’t doubt my decision nor felt regret or remorse because the way was clear.  I felt the universe guiding me.  However, I will tell you that has not always been the case.

Example, when I was pregnant with Noah.  My vision was clouded, my ears had a hard time deciphering the truth from all the noise, and my mind was filled with images of doubt.  It’s hard to make a clear choice in this environment.  It’s like sitting on a cliff and people are yelling at you to do this or do that and your mind is filled with chaos.  And any move could be dangerous.  Each person has their reason or motive for wanting you to make one choice over another.

People often simplify adoption and try to sum it up as better or worse, selfless or selfish, brave or weak.  The positives are focused on the relinquishment, implying your child will have a better life and the negatives are fixated on parenting with false unforeseen assumptions that your child’s future will be bleak or worse off.  So, what choice do you think a mother will lean towards?  Something negative or something positive?  Fear can lead a person down a dark path.

The choice that separated me from my second born son was a devastating one, one that I sometimes wondered if I would ever recover from.  I was not at peace, although I acted and thought I was and tried to convince others that I was good with that choice.  I believe it was the denial, the numbness that took over.

When we are no longer able to change the situation – we are challenged to change ourselves. – Viktor Frankl

So here is my take on divine intervention and what is meant to be will be.

Anything that God has intended… is for our highest good.  And I personally believe that if a choice or decision gives you doubt, despair or a negative impact, then it probably was not the path that God had planned for us.  That’s not to say that some choices won’t be challenging or have challenges.  Our daily life has challenges.  Work can be challenging.  The bible is filled with stories of people overcoming challenges.  But something that gives you a bad feeling inside is different than something being challenging.

Jaren and I were talking about this and I said it came to me like this.  God always has a Plan B.  When I mentioned this at a women’s group, one of the ladies said that God has the “Master Plan”.  Well, that’s true.  However, humans do not always follow the master plan.  It’s called free will.  I certainly would not think that God’s master plan is murder, or rape, or child abuse, or slavery.

After watching the movie Lion, it instilled this knowledge deeper within.  Saroo made some choices that separated him from his family.  After deep despair and the point of no return, he had to rely on his choices and fate.  At a very young age, he learned to follow his gut instincts along with his survival instincts.  He was listening to the voice within.  At the same time, God was putting His Plan B into place.

I have a Garmin GPS.  I put in the address and it is pretty good about getting me where I need to go.  Usually I follow it but there have been times when I chose another route.  And what happens when I do that?  It says, “Recalculating.”   The GPS then recalculates the next best direction from my altered direction.  Sometimes when it is really cloudy outside or there is a bad signal, the GPS will go blank and then recalculate.

When I think back to that time with Noah, I don’t believe it was God’s plan one way or the other for me to parent or relinquish my rights.  God gave me free will.  I also don’t believe it was God’s intention for my children’s father to abandon his kids and me during a time we needed him most.  But God gave Brian free will also.  However, I do believe that God was putting into place a family for Noah in the chance that circumstances and choices would prevent Noah from remaining with his original family.  God was preparing for Plan B.  I truly believe that God’s Master Plan is not designed to hurt one to benefit another.  That plays into the whole chosen one mentality.  God is much bigger than that.  Humans hurt.  God loves.  And love does not hurt, despite that old popular 70’s song.

I asked a friend of mine for her thoughts on this.  While her situation is a little different, I thought she could add real perspective.  Kim, her best friend and twin brothers were in a fatal car accident while on a double date during our freshman year in high school, leaving one twin and one friend alive, and one twin and one friend dead.  It was a very traumatic event that shook our small town.  This is what Kim said:

Well you know I’ve thought a lot about that. And of course people told me that I was spared to go on and do great things…which of course didn’t turn out that way. My life is wonderful, but quite ordinary. But I’ve wondered why God spared Ricky and I and how different the world might have been had the outcome been reversed. And you know what? I’ve come up with zilch, nada, nothing. When I think about it from God’s perspective it seems like a Sophie’s Choice. I don’t know why I lived and Linda didn’t. My gut feeling is that she would’ve gotten married and had kids and grandkids just like I have. But who really knows. But I do know that God is omnipotent. Perhaps God saw in that brief moment something in the future that made a difference to the world. Perhaps one of my descendants will work on something that alters the course of humanity. Or maybe one of Ricky’s descendants does something game changing. I have to have that faith, because anything else just seems too random. And given the complexity of life on this little Rock of ours, I just cannot believe in serendipity. I have to believe that God’s purpose for the outcome of that accident wasn’t just chance, even if it remains a mystery to me.

 These are the great mysteries of life.  But one thing that I am certain of, is that God and the universe are truly active in my life and whether I am following the Master Plan or God needs to put Plan B in place to recalculate my trip, I am glad I have God and my guides to navigate my journey and guide me to my highest purpose and good.

Mary, The Unexpected Mother

The Madonna in Sorrow

The Madonna in Sorrow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I often think about Mary, mother of Jesus, and how she might have felt when she learned of her pregnancy. It was a little different back then. In modern times, we have a blood test or a pregnancy kit to help us decide the fate of our future. Mary had an angel. However, even with that, hearing it and knowing it are two very different things.

When God chose Mary, she was a single woman. I find this to be interesting. Why did God choose an unmarried woman? Some may say that God needed a virgin. Well, if this is true, God could have chosen any virgin bride to conceive the prince of peace, right? Nothing is impossible for God. He is the great creator. If God needed Mary specifically, why not wait until Mary’s wedding night? Mary was already promised to Joseph. So I still ask myself, why God chose Mary, an unmarried virgin.

Did you know that Mary is considered to be one of the most righteous women in the Islamic tradition? And she is mentioned more in the Quran than in the New Testament? This historical fact is also very interesting to me. She must have been an amazing woman. God thought so; Joseph thought so, and her family must have thought so. Furthermore, I believe that Jesus thought so. And when the writers were keeping their records for the Bible and the Quran, they apparently thought so as well.

I have come to the conclusion that Mary must have been very special. I sometimes wonder what it was about her that God loved so much. What did Mary possess within her that the other virgins or women did not? Of all the women in the world at that time, God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus. What made Mary different? She must have had some unique inner quality that God saw, right? Maybe it was her faith or maybe it was her inner strength? God knew the task He was placing on Mary was going to be one of her most important and challenging roles as a human being and as a mother. God knew that Mary would be faced with opposition and disbelieving antagonists. Can you even imagine?

I wonder how I would react if God sent an angel to descend upon me. How would I feel knowing I was carrying a child that would be known as the Son of God? How do you parent this child? How do you explain to your child his conception? How do you prepare this child for what is ahead or expected? How do you encourage him to make a new path, to see a new vision, to listen to a higher voice and to teach a new lesson? And upon doing that, your child leaves home to become the master teacher, sharing God’s message, leading by example and you breathe a sigh of relief only to witness your child’s fate, his prosecution and his sacrifice.

Yes, Mary had a great task placed upon her. But God must have known she was up for the challenge.

As mothers, we have all been given a gift. No, they may not have been conceived through an immaculate conception but they are still one of God’s creations, a gift of the most high, a spiritual being with unlimited possibilities. As mother’s we have been called to grow and nurture mystical souls that came through us or came to us.

Don’t be afraid of what lies ahead of you. Be strong and courageous but most of all, be faithful. Know that God has a purpose for you and your child. Whether you’re a married mother, single mother, birth mother, adoptive mother, step mother, foster mother or a widowed mother, God chose you, of all the women in the world, to be the mother of one of His tender souls. You must be very special!

Happy Mother’s Day!