Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Time for LOVE

I work at the Pregnancy Resource Center in Pelham, Alabama. There is a misconception that is widely accepted about pregnancy centers. What I hear the most is that we're pushing "our agenda" on women, forcing them to make the decision we want, scaring them out of abortion. Let me tell you what we actually do. When a woman comes in, more often than not, she is the only one who knows she's pregnant. She hasn't felt comfortable enough to talk to anyone about this, especially the people in her life who love her most. Fear of disappointment, fear of failure, fear of rejection - these are all things she is up against. We offer her a free pregnancy test, free peer counseling, a free ultrasound, and if the test is positive, free prenatal classes, free parenting classes, free material assistance, referrals to other organizations that may also be able to help her... everything is free. In the peer counseling session, we listen. We take in her background, her fears, her current situation, her roadblocks, her support system, and basically anything she needs to get off her chest in a safe environment. And then we give her information on her three choices: parenting, abortion and adoption. Yes, abortion too. (Cue the gasps) "But I thought y'all just tried to get them to choose life and scare them out of abortion."

Look, what I think in a woman's situation is not important to her. My job is to give her every bit of information she needs so that SHE can make an informed decision. My only job is to move her from a knee jerk reaction to a place of research so that she can make a decision for herself. The information she receives speaks for itself - I don't need to insert my opinion. And no, we're not giving women graphic pictures of aborted babies - WE DON'T EVEN WANT TO SEE THAT. It's purely factual information. Sometimes we spend 45 minutes with a woman - sometime we spend an hour and a half with a woman - it just depends on her needs, how much she needs to talk, etc. And again, everything we offer is free.

We've figured out that for each pregnancy test or ultrasound visit, it costs $30 per visit. Think about something you recently spent $30 on. For me recently, I've been able to fill up my car with gas for a little less than $30, and I have been THRILLED! I picked up dinner for my family dinner recently for about $30. In this scenario though, $30 can provide one woman something that she can't get anywhere else: free medical services, a shoulder to cry on, someone who understands her fears and won't judge her, information that she needs, a calming and safe environment in the midst of her whirlwind.

Y'all, we need help to be able to provide this service to women. And this is where I ask you to help me. My family has a team for the LifeSaver Walk and Family Fun Day to try and raise support for the Pregnancy Resource Center. How many lives do you want to impact? Even though you may never meet any of these women in your lifetime, how many of them do you want to help, knowing that you are making a difference in her life, and ultimately, the life of her child? I am challenging us all to start a love revolution - to love on these women when they need it most. They don't need people screaming at them; they need LOVE! Without the PRC, these women will go at this alone, with zero support, and keep believing the lies that they are unworthy, with no value, used goods, and worth nothing more than being used and abused. Women deserve better.

Join the love revolution here. I promise it will be the best $30 you ever spent.

If you want to do more, join our team and walk with us. Our team is Sanford and Sons, and there will be activities and games for the kids to give you all a fun Saturday to spend together.

Don't want to walk? Just come to the Family Fun Day and have a blast.

Monday, April 21, 2014

My Life According to Pixar

My name is Kay, and my favorite songs right now are from Pixar movie soundtracks. I am not ashamed. My son is pretty heavily into Cars and Planes right now (the movies... I'm too lazy to google how I'm supposed to technically lay out the titles. Is it italics, underline, quotation marks... like I said... moving on)

Anyway, on my commute today, while I was jamming out to a Planes song by myself without my 3 year old, I started thinking about how much I love Pixar movies. I mean, these movies are teaching lessons, people! Take the Toy Story trilogy, for example. In the first movie, I learned that true friends can end up being the people you can't stand when you first meet them. Once you can get over your insecurities, people can actually be really cool. The second movie taught me to fear anyone in a chicken suit- they're just weird. And in the third, I learned that there are "Lotso" people in the world who are cruel, but most of the time it's because they've been labeled as replaceable, so it's really just a defense mechanism. Some of them never get past it though... but that's no reason not to love them anyway.

Or you could look at Wall-e. That little guy.. what a sweetheart. But that movie showed me that I better take care of my environment and be cautious to not end up as a fatty in a portable recliner (as tempting as that last part sounds).

What about Up, y'all? My gosh, Pixar. Rip out my heart and show it to me, why don't you. Lesson learned... never fall in love and have dreams together, because one day you'll be old and want to fulfill them, but it'll be annoying because you'll have a little chatty boyscout, a talking dog, and a freak of a bird who you'll feel obligated to protect because you're that kind of decent human. Yeah, just stay home, and go to "the home." You can still mess with people at "the home" and start your own prank show with Betty White.

Then there's Cars... a personal fave of mine right now. There's a part of all of us that thinks we're "too good" for the Maters of the world. And Radiator Springs? Fugget about it - too good for that. Problem is, the Radiator Springs Maters of the world are THE coolest people on the planet. And we're not too good for them. They're too good for us. We would be blessed beyond measure to find ourselves in their company. Plus, life is so much more fun when you have a Mater. The Brad Paisley song during the credits says,

We go through life
So sure of where we're headin'
And then we wind up lost
And it's the best thing that could have happened
'Cause sometimes when you lose your way
It's really just as well
Because you find yourself
Yeah, that's when you find yourself

Even though I sometimes wonder if I'll ever like "adult things" like responsibility, being on time, or planning for the future, I am really enjoying living vicariously through JM's phases, but seeing them with adult lenses. I'm learning the most valuable things that way. What about you? What have you learned from an unlikely source lately?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Time to Be a Vessel

And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His.  When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself. - Corrie Ten Boom

I was reading through some old blog posts and came across this gem. The past few days have been filled with news stories and conversations and speculations... all about the bad shape our world is currently in. There is fighting, war, blood moons, more fighting, more wars, conversations about the blood moons... all of which seem to be laced with a measure of fear. Fear about the end of the world, fear about what these wars and fighting will mean for other countries, and for our own. 

I am usually met with blank stares which turn to judgment when I tell people that I don't watch the news. But this is exactly why I don't watch the news. I'm not burying my head in the sand here, people. You'll be happy to know that I have an AP alert set up on my phone. Some of the alerts I read... some I don't. I don't have to watch the news every hour of the day to find out what's going on. The conversations that take place throughout each day, plus my Facebook feed, are all I need to keep abreast of current events. And believe me, that's about all I can take. My major in college was news broadcast, so I received my fill in how the news works. However, what I see on news stations today doesn't look at all like the lessons I learned in college. I see biased reporting on both sides, fear-based reporting, and fighting. I get enough fighting at home with a toddler - I don't need more.

So what is it that will heal our world of all these things? Better yet, what is it that will heal our world from the little things? I find it hard to relate to things like war - until I put it into perspective in my own life. How about the war I fought at work several weeks ago? Or the one I fight within myself everyday when I'm at the crossroads of choosing compassion over anger? Or the war I can't see, but can most certainly feel the effects of when a client tells me that she knows what her decision will be about this pregnancy, and can't I just help her end it right now? What about you? Is there someone in your life who has made it hard for you to live? An "enemy" of sorts? 

I've had those. In fact, I thought of my father as an enemy for a long time. Because of my inability to forgive, I was unable to truly love and trust. It caused even more upheaval in my life and brought out the flavors of hatred, insecurity, paranoia, distrust, and self-infliction. All of those things together make a horrible combination. And that's exactly what the enemy wanted in my life. But it wasn't until I realized that the enemy wasn't my father - that I fight a real enemy in my life who wants to rob me, steal from me, and even kill me - that I was able to fight more effectively. The fighting couldn't come from a place of anger. It had to come from a place of love and forgiveness. Not mine, mind you. I didn't have it in me. It hurt too much, and I was too raw and embarrassed to move an inch forward. It had to come from Him. 

Right before that sentence that Corrie Ten Boom uttered above was another gem in her story, "The Hiding Place." Her realization came when she was met with an actual guard who kept her in captivity during the holocaust. That's the nice way of putting it. She was humiliated, naked, made to feel "less than." Sound familiar? Jesus faced the same fate. But Corrie realized that Jesus died on the cross for that guard, and then asked herself, "Will I demand more than that for him?" Whoever the human enemy is your life, will you demand more than Jesus' death for that person? Will you hold yourself in captivity while you refuse to forgive them? Will you demand that they pay for the ways that they've hurt you because somehow you deserve more? It's a hard question and it stings. Our pride is a weird thing that drives us to expect that the world owes us for all the ways we've been hurt. 

I had to ask the Lord to forgive me and then to forgive my father because I just. couldn't. do. it. I couldn't do it. But He could, and He did. And in the act of willingness to walk through forgiveness even when I didn't feel it, I was able to release my father from the impossible standard of making it up to me. But what it really did was release me. I was the one in captivity - I was the one continuing to be hurt over and over. I don't expect to make it out of this life unscathed from hurting others - especially my own family. And I can't force people to forgive me for the things I do in this life. But I can do my part of being willing to forgive - to keep myself free of being offended at every turn - and of asking the Lord to be the forgiveness and love through me. Because if I'm really honest, I'll tell you that I'm incapable of anything that I just described. It's only His love, forgiveness, and compassion that will heal my little world. He has that place of honor in my life. He died for me, and He died for you. The necessary act has been done.

This Easter, will you accept this challenge with me? If we do our part of letting Him live through us to others in our little worlds, maybe, just maybe that love, compassion and forgiveness will spread to other little worlds. And maybe our whole world will end up being better for it. All it takes is the one small act of letting Him change your life. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Snowpocolypse - Chapter Four

Tuesday, January 28, 2014... 8:30 pm

I had waited as long as I possibly could. As I removed the velcro sides of the size 3T-4T pull up, I remember thinking that it looked so much bigger when I was putting it on JM. I tried to lay it out flat but the elastic sides kept folding over in the middle. Once it was in place, I tried the "easy does it" method once again. Success! I thought.

I don't know what happened, but there was a great amount that just didn't get caught and I was again left with a soaked seat, blanket, pants... everything. I wrapped the pull up and threw it in the passenger floorboard, just completely disgusted at this point about the day I'd had. Traffic continued to sit completely still for another hour.

9:30 pm

My friends began to devise a plan to send someone out on a four wheeler to come and get me. I worried that if they didn't make it, or if someone got hurt trying to get to me, that it would just continue to pile on a terrible string of events to this already ridiculous day. Also, I had to admit to my friends that I was covered in urine, and that a ride on the back of a four wheeler in 7 degree weather probably wouldn't be the best idea. Evan, the four wheeler rescuer, told me he would pack a change of pants as well as some warm coveralls to get me home... so I agreed.

In the meantime, another friend had seen on Facebook where her husband's cousin was out on I-20 in a jeep, giving people rides home. She texted me his name and number and I immediately called. I tried to explain where I was, with a description of all the things I could see around me. But, I was worried that I was in the middle lane and wouldn't be able to move my car to the emergency lane. I texted Evan to let him know that a jeep was on the way, but he stayed out on the four wheeler just in case. Once the jeep arrived, Keith (one of the jeep rescuers) helped me move my car by directing the cars around me to move up, back, etc. Once I parked in the emergency lane, I gathered my things and got out of my car. The rush of cold air to my wet pants took my breath away and I was grateful for my decision to remain in my car for so long before.

10:15 pm

The road was literally an ice-skating rink. My cowboy boots had very little traction so I carefully skated down I-20 with my wet behind waving at all the cars behind me who were now spotlighting it with their headlights. As we crossed the median, I broke the news to Keith even though I was mortified. We approached the jeep, on the westbound side of I-20, and as I opened the door, I blurted out "I'm so sorry - I peed my pants" to the driver. They must have had to bite their lips to keep from laughing at me. We set off in the opposite direction, driving east down 20W. There was no traffic on that side at all, only abandoned cars and 18-wheelers on each side. I remember thinking that it looked a lot like the title sequence to The Walking Dead. We drove slowly, and the heat was blaring... which would have been fine, except that it exaggerated the urine smell. I told Eric (the driver) that he might want to crack a window, but they were just as polite as could be, telling me that it was fine. I know it wasn't fine. I mean, I was gagging myself at this point.

We stopped by my friend's house so that I could pick up JM, and then slowly headed to my house. We got inside, I put JM to bed, and I took a very much needed bath. I called my family members, texted my friends, and updated everyone who had been following my day.

3 days post-snowpocolypse

Michael was stuck at UAB for two more days, and made it home at lunchtime Thursday. On the way to pick up my car, he started cracking jokes like, "Urine in a really unique position here, Kay." And, "Urine a place that not many others have been." I'm so glad that we can laugh about it at this point. I hope you've been able to laugh some, too. If you can't laugh about these things, what can you do?

And yes, my driver's seat has been cleaned with a high powered pet urine remover spray. And, even though the pull up was a frozen solid brick when I went back to get my car, all remaining memories of Tuesday have been disposed of... well, except for this blog.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Snowpocolypse - Chapter Three

Tuesday, January 28, 2014... 4:30 pm

Cars were moving slowly down the hill to cross the bridge on 459. The car behind me was making me nervous because she was riding too close to me, in my opinion. The Tahoe in front of me started sliding uncontrollably to the right. He was able to stop and slowly head forward again across the bridge. Up ahead, the 18-wheelers were still blocking the road, but there was one small path that weaved through them. Before moving forward, I looked down and noticed a bottle of holy oil in my center console. As I unscrewed the cap, I felt like I was getting buck fever. My heart started racing and I just started putting oil on my car, my steering wheel, my head (which was still pounding), and then replaced the cap and moved forward. I prayed out loud the entire time as I weaved through the trucks and continued at no more than 15mph up another hill on 459. Other drivers seemed upset at my slow pace and began to pass me on the left and right. One car passed me and then proceeded to fish tail all the way down the next hill. Part of me smugly thought, "Hmph, serves you right" and the other part of me started praying that they would regain control.

Traffic on the other side of that mess was completely unclogged for the duration of my 459 experience. I even thought about stopping at Grants Mill and hiking my pee pants up to Church of the Highlands for the night. But, with traffic being opened up, I thought I would surely make it the rest of the way.

4:40 pm

I came to a stop on the I-20 exit ramp and immediately regretted my decision to trek on. I had stopped counting mistakes at this point though, so I thought I better just make the best of it. By this point, my phone was blowing up with texts. My small group was continuously checking in with me to see how far I'd traveled since the last time they texted. My childhood best friend, John, had been texting off and on throughout the day. He'd been stranded on I-65 all day, and I later learned that he'd been helping people get home all afternoon. However, the humor that came through his texts did keep me chuckling. You see, John and I have a warped sense of humor... it's just gross... there's really no other word for it. John and my brother once found a dead body in the Alabama River while jet skiing and then acted like it was all in a day's work. Anyway, while I hadn't shared with him the fact that I'd peed on myself yet, he started joking about... well, let's just say he started joking about ways to use excrement and just leave it at that.

My husband called and started becoming anxious as I relayed the latest update on my location. He was stuck downtown with no way of getting home, much less getting to me. There was still hope for me getting home though, as I moved about a car length every 30 minutes or so.

7:00 pm

It took about two hours to make it up the exit ramp. My hope was starting to fade. I was too far away from anything to park on the side of the road and walk. Plus, the sun was down and the temperature was dropping. Oh, and my pants were still soaking wet, so there was also the thought of hypothermia. I was wedged on I-20 between two 18-wheelers, with two more in front and back. And... I was starting to get uncomfortable with my ability to hold my bladder again. In my conversation with Michael, upon telling him about my wet seat, he suggested that I should have used one of JM's pull ups that I always keep in my purse. I felt like such an idiot. I could have avoided all of this if I had just remembered the pull ups!!! So, I reached down into my purse, pulled out a pull up, and decided to give it a go...

Tune in tomorrow for Snowpocolypse - Chapter Four

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Snowpocolypse - Chapter Two

Tuesday, January 28, 2014... 1:00 pm

I-459 was slow but steady. Traffic was moving, and although it slowed up at the I-65 interchange, I moved past that point with general ease. On the other side of the 65 interchange, traffic slowed to a stop. It wasn't horrible at this point though because about every two minutes or so, we'd move a little bit. I figured it had to do with people trying to get on 280, and I was right about that... sort of.

1:30 pm

I had finally made it to 280. Judging from the looks of the exit ramp and some posts I saw on Facebook, I didn't think 280 would be a good route for me, so I stayed on 459. Around this point, I started thinking about the gallon of Gatorade I'd had earlier in the day. As I looked down at the empty Nalgene bottle, I thought, "This could be bad later." But the urge wasn't bad. What WAS bad was the insane headache that had come on due to my earlier dilated eyes. I tried to relax and just listen to the radio coverage of the storm and traffic. It didn't help, because at some point on this stretch of the road, one of the local meteorologists had called into the radio station, and he, too, was stuck in the horrible traffic. Fabulous.

Every now and then the traffic would move a little and I'd get excited. After several hours of that, the excitement passed.

2:30 pm

Speaking of passed... by 2:30 pm the idea that I could hold my bladder any longer had also passed. I looked around my car to try and determine my best plan of action. I was not really able to get out of the car to use the bathroom, because, well, the rest of Birmingham was sitting around me. Two men had easily gotten out of their trucks and walked to the woodsy edge to relieve themselves, but the thought of me squatting over there with my bright white behind sticking out was unbearable to me. And hey, it was still daylight folks. There was no hiding here! And the occasional walker down the side of the interstate didn't make it any easier of a decision. (Walking Dead reference #1) With cameras on phones and social media at hand, I thought it best to look for an answer from within the confines of my car.

I had one styrofoam cup and one tall coffee mug with a handle. In my mind, I thought the handle would easier to navigate. Using my coat as a shield to the other cars, I began to prepare myself. Okay, let me stop here for a minute. I've had to tinkle in a cup a few times in my day, so I was fully aware of my horrible ability to do this in a clean manner. In addition to this reality was the fact that this was a tall coffee mug. This meant that if you were sitting behind me in traffic, you either knew exactly what I was doing, or you somehow thought I'd grown two full feet in the last two minutes.

Trying to keep yourself shielded while performing a coffee cup relief maneuver is challenging at best. I slid the mug in place and lowered myself, trying to aim as best I could. This is where I lose track of what happened in this moment. I didn't want to let er rip and risk a waterfall in my seat. So, I tried to "easy does it" - which, is it just me y'all, or is that hard for a woman? Every now and then I slid the mug to the side to check my work. Urine in the cup - success!!!! When the cup was semi-full, I decided to just stop and empty the cup. I rolled down the window and created a yellow snow spot beside my car, replaced the coffee cup into my cup holder, returned my pants into their upright and locked position, and then sat down in the seat.

About 30 seconds passed before I realized it. It wasn't just warm in my car, it was now warm on my seat. But what do you do in that moment? The damage had been done.

3:00 pm

I was about three miles away from the Liberty Park exit, and everyone was just sitting in park, not moving. Up ahead, I could see about ten 18-wheelers jack knifed and blocking the entire three lane interstate. People were moving to and fro on foot, but at that distance, I couldn't tell what was going on. I found one of JM's blankets in the backseat and stuck it under me to try and soak up some of the tragedy down there. People were texting me left and right, and I was keeping everyone informed via Facebook. In fact, one of the most hilarious moments of the day happened on Facebook. See it here:

Pretty soon, I saw a few cars beginning to move. They appeared to be moving into a single file line down the hill and across the bridge. The girl behind me was riding too close to my bumper which really started to make me mad, but even worse, the Tahoe in front of me started sliding to the right uncontrollably...

Tune in tomorrow for Snowpocolypse - Chapter Three

Friday, January 31, 2014

Snowpocolypse - Chapter One

People have been asking to hear the story of my car entrapment this past Tuesday, so I thought instead of re-telling it over and over... I'd just put it all down in the blog. It's an extremely LONG story, so I will make it bearable by breaking it up into several chapters. Plus, I can leave you in suspense... my favorite part of story-telling that can only happen in print.

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014... 8:15am

John Michael and I loaded up the car for our eye appointments. Mine was at 8:30, his at 8:45. It was a normal morning as we had our eyes checked - but alas, we both had to have our eyes dilated. Normally, I would hate this only because of the ensuing headache that would follow. As we put our coats on to leave, I looked outside and saw that it was snowing. Not being much of a snow freaker-outer, I said, "Oh look John Michael, it's snowing. Let's go and get you to school." The weather forecast had only called for a "light dusting" in our part of Alabama, so I thought it would be a little snow, and that if any accumulated, we'd make a tiny snowman in the yard that evening when we got home. Plus, I had to get him to school because I was scheduled to speak at Hoover High School that morning about the decisions, choices and options faced with teen pregnancy.

10:00 am

I dropped JM at school and casually asked if they thought they would close early that day. There was no sense of panic or anything as I was told that they were just going to watch it and see what it did. I agreed, as that is what I would have to do for my office as well. I open and close our office by what Shelby County does, and I had not seen where any schools or counties were announcing closures. So, I left and headed out to Hoover. As I typed "Hoover High School" into my Google Maps app, it became very apparent to me that I couldn't see anything on my phone. At the time I thought, "That's okay, Google Maps talks to me, so I'll be fine."

I headed down I-459 to Hoover, and my phone rang. It was the office informing me that they were canceling our prenatal/parenting class for the night. They also wanted to know if we were going to close early, but I said we'd go by Shelby County. If they hadn't called off school yet, we would stay open as well. That was mistake #1, although I didn't know it at the time. Then I got a text from two other employees, but couldn't read them because my eyes were still dilated. I mean, no, I couldn't read them because I don't read texts while I'm driving. Moving on...

I called my mom and asked her to look up the school closures for me to see if Shelby County had announced yet. She said no, that Jefferson County was the only one on the list so far. Wait, Jefferson County? Would that include Hoover High School? Or does Hoover High School fall under City of Hoover announcements? Not being from that area, I continued to the school. I arrived at 10:30, as the doors swung open and students ran out of the building to their cars. I quickly called my co-leader to see what I needed to do - yep, Hoover had just let out, so we'd have to reschedule.

10:30 am

I was now stuck in school traffic, in addition to the fact that the snow was now coming down really quickly. Again, I thought that it would probably accumulate in the grass, but not on the roadways. By this point, my phone no longer worked. I kept trying to call the office to tell them to close and go home, but I couldn't get them. I texted a few people, but no response. Traffic wasn't moving, and I wasn't in an area where I was familiar with shortcuts or back roads. When my phone rang and it was JM's school calling to say that they were closing at 12:30, I thought there still might be a chance of me getting there on time. Plus, there might be an opening in the phone lines for me to try the office again. I did and got through. I told them to close and go home, praying that they would make it home quickly.

11:00 am

Called my husband to go pick up JM. I had moved 10 feet and there were accidents all around me. Hwy 150 ahead looked like a parking lot, so I started looking on Google Maps to see if there was a side road or cut through. Hwy 150 was completely RED on the map. I-459 posted red in some places, but every time I refreshed it, I saw a new accident pop up. I waited.

11:40 am

Texted Michael and realized he wasn't going to make it out from downtown either. I couldn't call the school because my phone wasn't working again, so I texted a friend who lives close to the school to see if she and her husband could pick JM up. Her husband went to get JM and I promised that one of us would just come to their house to get him when we could get through the mess.

I eventually made it to Hwy 150. As I turned right, thinking I could go down Valleydale or 119 to get home, I was horrified to find out that 150 was closed in that direction due to ice. I tried to u-turn but I had to wait on a turn lane to move. At some point here one man started yelling at me and blaming ME for holding up the traffic. I'm pretty sure I blacked out at this point because I screamed at him and drove through a bunch of parked cars to a gas station. Looking back now, I realize this was a good thing because I only had a quarter of a tank of gas. So, I filled up the car and went inside to use the bathroom. Met an older gentleman in the bathroom line who was headed to Leeds as well. He said that 459 wasn't bad. So, after using the restroom and getting back into the car, I started following two pickup trucks (a man and another woman) to 459.

12:30 am

I headed down 459 at a safe pace and thought to myself, "I can make it now." I had no idea what was waiting for me...

Tune in tomorrow for Snowpocolypse - Chapter Two.