My CNN–Part 1

Back in the day, I was a newspaper reporter.  I covered the police beat in a small town.  Part of my job was to go to the local State Police Post every morning and get an update.  They called me CNN–Charity News Network.

Today I am going to revive my title for just a few moments.  I am going to try and tell a story that isn’t fully mine to tell, but needs to be said.  Needs to be said.

I read a lot of Facebook and in the news about immigration as we all do.  Sometimes I scroll past, sometimes I stop.  The times I am most likely to stop?  When someone claims to have the Bible on their side.  Yeah.  Especially when someone suggests people read the Bible to learn about immigration but are in the same post espousing things that are very un-Biblical.

The Bible does talk about immigration.  It sure does.

Exodus 22:21 (ESV)

“You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”

Here, he was speaking to the Israelites.  They had started as refugees during the famine throughout the land.  God had put Joseph in charge of the food that had been saved in Egypt due dreams God had given Pharoah that there would be 7 good years followed by 7 years of famine.  Joseph had interpreted the dream for Pharoah and the ruler had put him in charge of getting the nation ready and through the famine.  Joseph moved his father and brothers to Egypt after they were reunited.  They lived there in peace as immigrants for many years until a new Pharoah came who didn’t give a care that Joseph had saved his nation; in the meantime, the number of Israelites had grown exponentially and the Pharoah decided to enslave them.  After many, many years, God brought the Israelites out of Egypt and the above verse is just one time God told the Israelites to treat immigrants well.

Exodus 23:9 (ESV)

“You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

He doesn’t say, treat them well if they make your life better or if everyone you know has a good job and everything they could ever need or want.  No, that isn’t in there.  He simply says not to oppress because you know what it is like.

The Old Testament is not the only place we find the plight of the immigrant addressed.  Jesus himself was a refugee.  After He was born the wise men came and told Herod they wanted to worship the newborn king.  Well, this ticked off Herod.  He didn’t want another king around.  Keeping those Israelites, who were once again being oppressed, in line was hard enough…what if they thought there was a new king for them?  So, Herod decided to kill all the baby boys 2 and under just to make sure he got this newborn king the wise men had asked about.  But, God told Jesus’ earthly [stand in] father Joseph that they should flee to Egypt, kind of ironic, huh, to keep Jesus safe.

Matthew 2:13 (ESV)

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”

There are many more examples.  You can find them by searching sojourner in the English Standard Bible.  You’ll find them, but you won’t find, care for them IF they have valuable skills to bring to you, IF they are appreciative enough, IF they speak flawless English, IF, IF, IF…

Now, I am not advocating open borders.  A vetting process is wise.  But telling people to be patient through a 10+ year process is arrogant and ill-informed.

People do not leave their homes and everything they have ever known with little to no chance of ever returning because it sounds like a good opportunity or it seems fun.  They go because they can’t stay where they are.  The go because of bombs, chemical warfare, total economic desolation, persecution.  They go to save their children, their lives.

And most of them never get to a stable living situation.  Many never get out of a refugee camp.  Only 1/2 of 1% of people in refugee camps end up resettled in a new country.  And before any of them come they are thoroughly vetted, particularly refugees…they are vetted before they are considered for resettlement and then they are vetted another 8 times by US federal agencies if they are selected to come to the USA.  They do not choose which country they will go to and they do not know when they will be going.  There is no planning something evil, there is survival.  There is praying you are safe while you wait for a new home, there is fear, there is uncertainty.  And there is no way of knowing what life will be like when you arrive in a new home country.  There is accepting a whole new role in life.  You may have been highly educated and/or financially successful in your country of origin, but in your new country, you are starting all over.

Are they thankful to be settled in a new location, yes.  Would they rather be back home in a safe world surrounded by their loved ones, language, and culture, by and large, yes.

People are considered for immigration based on many criteria.

There are a number of classifications of immigrant within America’s legal immigration process.  There is a naturalized citizen, lawful permanent resident, conditional permanent resident, self-petitioner, special immigrant juvenile status, refugee, asylum seeker, non-immigrant temporary visas, victim of trafficking in persons, and crime victim or witness.  How, when, and where you apply is just the beginning of the process.

There is so much more to cover concerning immigrants that I think it would be best to continue this discussion another day but I would like to conclude with this thought.  Coming to the US borders, South, North, East or West and requesting asylum is 100% legal.  Having large numbers come at once may be overwhelming and difficult, but that does not make it illegal.  Not at all.  Not in the least.  So consider that the next time you want to talk about illegal immigrants.  If you are talking about a caravan coming, you are using the wrong term.  They are not illegal and are not illegal if they are allowed to come in.  If you are talking about the lady in a hijab or the gardener who speaks Bangla…you have no idea of their status.  You have no idea if their papers are all in order and carried with them everywhere just in case someone gives them a hard time or maybe they were born here.  You don’t know.  You don’t know if they are receiving public assistance.  And even if you talk to them and find out they are refugees but they don’t “sound” like they have fled a war, believe me, you won’t know until they trust you enough to tell you.

You won’t know until they trust you enough to tell you.

(Information taken from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees website, Immigration and the State Courts Initiative as well as personal interaction with refugees)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Headaches

So earlier this week I blogged about losing hours to a migraine.  I actually fight quite a few headaches.  I’ve had sinus headaches since I was 6-years-old.  I remember laying in my bed holding a pillow around my head rolling around in pain.

It stunk.

There are worse things, but it stunk.

All these years later, the only thing that helps my headaches are excedrin, essential oils, and running.  But most of the time, that help is only marginal.  For the last couple years I have noticed I often wake up with a niggling headache and start each day fighting it from becoming a full blown jerk.  I have been assuming it is sinus crap.

Then tonight I clicked on a link about headaches in the morning.  The top reason they gave was high blood pressure.  I used to have fantastic blood pressure, but then I had pre-eclampsia when I was pregnant with my oldest.  It took it a while to come down after she was born, but then it did.  I went back to good blood pressure contrary to my grandma’s declaration that I was now going to have high blood pressure.  Unfortunately, it has just been erratic over the last few years.  My resting heart rate is fantastic, low, to mid 4os, but my blood pressure is always high at the doctor’s office.  Most of the time it is okay once I get home.

I don’t know why the change.  The weight I have gained?  Is it medication I am on?  Anxiety?  I exercise decently.  Right now I am in a funk, but most weeks I run 10 miles and walk in addition to that.  Hubby says I don’t exercise.  I am pretty sure he is just giving me crap.

I took it tonight and it is sky high.

Do I call the doctor or continue to let it slide?  Is Dr. Facebook as worthless as Dr. Google?

Hmm.

One on Top of the Other

I came home one night from one of Sue’s really long play practices and found Patrice busily building pyramid after pyramid out of playing cards.  She built a few in the kitchen and a couple in the living room.

I’ve never tried to build a single one because I was afraid I would knock it over.

My kids are smarter than me.

Losing Hours

I’ve had a headache since Sunday.  Which isn’t abnormal.  I have a headache most Sunday mornings.  Just ask my daughter, “you have a headache every Sunday.”  I don’t quite but she’s not terribly wrong.  I’d go into some theology thoughts on why I think Sundays are an issue, but I still have a headache and it hurts too much to think right now.

It actually went away for a few hours yesterday.  I thought I was in the clear.  But this morning, it was there pushing at the edges of my head.  Growing until this afternoon when it hit migraine status.  I ditched all plans for reading, exercising, praying, studying and crawled into bed.  I slept for almost 4 hours.

I am terribly sad to say it is still there.  It is causing tears to run down my face right now.  On the bright side, my stomach is now killing me which may mean it is becoming an abdominal migraine.  Those suckers hurt for an hour or so but then they are gone and typically take the head migraine with them.

Some days I feel old, but those stupid abdominal migraines are a childhood illness so that must mean I am still a kid, right?

So why am I sitting here at the computer blathering on about headaches?  Because I finally blogged a few days in a row and I didn’t want to stop and hit writer’s block again.  So here I am, wasting the minutes of your day talking about headaches.

Here’s a fun picture to thank you for your time.

Well, there would be a picture, but after 4 tries, I am taking my headache back to bed.  Sorry ’bout that folks.

I Figured Out the Secret

Half Marathon #1.

I was dead last.

Half Marathon #2

I was dead last.

Half Marathon #3

There were over 1,000 people behind me.

The secret?

Run in really big races!!!!

I have the signup date for the next one on my calendar.  It is a smallish race, so I might be last, but in all honesty, I like to do interesting races.  If that makes sense.

I have done a race across the Mackinac Bridge, I did one on Woodward Avenue, a Turkey Trot, one where you got a cinnamon roll at the end, the Detroit half you run over the bridge into Canada and through the tunnel back to the USA.

My hubby is always interested in what the Charity organizations are that benefit from the races.  One of the few repeats I do is one that raises money for suicide prevention (http://www.momrace.org/).  When I ran the Detroit Half I raised money for Samaritas (https://www.samaritas.org/).

This next half I am hoping to get a spot in is back in the area I grew up.  I am hoping to be there so my family can see me finish–though I am also slow so I hate to have them waiting for three hours, but we’ll see what happens.

Well, it is time for me to stop telling you about running and get out there to, well, run!!

My Lessons

Well, my journey with Arabic lessons continues.  I completed the first 8 weeks and was allowed to move on to the next class.

Making the genders of words agree just might kill me, but I am trying.  Like today I typed sani waahid (one year) except that in order for genders to match it needs to be sani waahidi.  Sani (year) is feminine so the adjective waahid (one) must also be feminine.  Wahid is masculine, so I need to change it so sani waahidi.  So close yet so far away.

Dag nabit!!

But yesterday I had a couple of big wins.

I was looking at my purse, full of junk and trying to figure out how I would conjugate that correctly.  The word for purse would be santa or because mine is big and heavy you could add kibiir for big purse.  But if I want to say my big purse santii kibiirii because adding the long e sound (ii) to the end of a word makes it the possessive pronoun my.  And I figured that out and remembered I had to change BOTH to make it correct!!!!!  I threw a little party for myself when my friend confirmed I had done it correctly.

Then, later, she told me saha (it is said like cheers when eating or like bless you when someone sneezes).  The correct answer is 3ala qalbik.    It means on your heart (isn’t that beautiful?).  Suddenly, I looked at it and realized that 3ala means on and the ik means your feminine so qalb must mean heart.  I messaged my friend again and asked her if I had that figured out right and she confirmed I DID!!!!!!

That still has me sooooooooo excited I can’t even tell you.  So excited.  I went bananas.  I ran into the living room where my family was watching tv and interrupted them to yell about how I had figured out a word and how I did it and how cool and how smart I felt and how maybe I could do this language thing and…

Yeah, I went crazy.

This journey is hard but oh man it is rewarding…

Can you remind me of that next time I am whining about trying to learn this and how I will never get the hang of it?

Ups and Downs

So less than a month ago I had probably my best run ever when I completed the Detroit International Half Marathon.  It was emotionally,  mentally, and physically the most rewarding running experience I have had.

And yet, Today, on November 11, I have run exactly 3 times since.  The first week was to rest and let my body recover, but since then, I can find a billion other things to do and even when I have a nice chunk of time to run–I don’t wanna.

I don’t wanna deal with those first minutes of running in the cold.  I don’t wanna pull out the layers to get dressed to run.  I don’t wanna have to take a shower afterward because I am all sweaty.  I don’t wanna.

This is not a new phenomenon.  It has happened before, but I thought this time I had learned my lesson, I would not slack off…but here I am blogging instead of getting my butt out there.  So soon, my daylight will be gone and I will have to run inside, so then I will whine about how much I hate running on the treadmill.

Yes, I have a headache, I might very well have one all week thanks to this grey, sinus aggravating weather, but the thing is, I know after a few minutes out there, the extra blood flow will give me a break from my headache.

I even have an audiobook I would love to listen to and lots of Arabic words to practice.

I really need to just get out there.

Waa.

Waa.

Waa.

 

What a Marvelous Feeling

Today, I became a collector of half marathon finisher medals!!  I read that once you have three of something, you have a collection.  Today, I added my third half finisher medal!!

Three months of squeezing in runs, building miles, letting other tasks and hobbies slide, culminating in 13.1 miles from the USA over to Canada and back again.

I dragged my family out of bed at 4 am–yelled and fussed until I was in my corral at 6:30–over an hour before sunrise.

Patrice was the holder of the cowbell.  She walked around all morning saying, “I have a cowbell!”

Sue was none too impressed with this early morning start.

As I waited in the corral, I met three people with whom I struck up a bit of a conversation with–in Arabic.  This was their first race and they were planning to walk the vast majority of it. We wished each other well and were off.

My average running pace puts me in with a lot of walkers, but I am not one of them.  It was quite the task to weave in and out of the people in order to keep running, but I did it.

This is the bridge from the Canadian side.  We ran over on the bridge and ran back through the tunnel.  You are actually running under water for one mile of the race.

I had the privilege of running this race because of a lovely friend who was born Canadian but is now an American.  This spot marks where you go from one country to the other.  There were lots of pictures being taken.  Again, I didn’t stop to take any…I clicked and ran.  I did end up walking my one and only step at this point when a person was dead in the way taking a picture and an old lady shoved me to get through.  I paid her back by passing her and never seeing her again 😉

At mile 9 I ended up catching up with one of my friends from the start.  She was really struggling so I slowed my pace to run with her a bit.  We chatted and kept moving.  I ended up moving on, but I found it a great privilege to run with her.

Then mile 11 came.  And this running gig started getting harder.  By mile 12 I was hurting pretty badly.  And all the sudden a lady came alongside me and said, “I have been following you the whole way and you have been inspiring me to keep running.”  I was really not able to talk anymore at this point, but she stayed with me, chatted just enough to keep me moving, and helped me find that last bit of oomph to dig deep and speed up for the finish line.

I owe her a great deal.

She and I crossed together, she gave me a hug and thanked ME for inspiring her.  And then another lady came up to me, gave me a hug and thanked me for inspiring her.

Me.  They thanked me.

I had gotten my medal and my warming foil but was still at the finish line when my friend from the beginning finished.  I was so excited to get over there and tell her “Mabruuk (congratulations)!”  She thanked me and gave me a hug.

And that for me, is the perfect race recap.

I never dreamed I would ever get confident enough in my running to help others, I never dreamed I would inspire someone who didn’t know my story.  I never imagined I would run 3 half marathons in 13 months.

Perfection got a little better when I got home and found my race results on-line.  I finished in 3 hours, 2 minutes and 32 seconds.  That is 22 minutes faster than my first half and 25 minutes faster than my second.  My overall pace this time was 13:56.  I was hoping for a pace in the 14-minute range.  I never dreamed in a million years I would get under 14!!!

I am tired and hungry and thirsty.  But I am happy on so many levels!!!

I am looking forward to very gentle activity this week and finding my next race…

Blessing or a Curse

Our family has had the privilege over the last year or so of learning Arabic from native speakers who started as friends and are now family.

Our family has had the opportunity to experience how badly your brain can hurt from learning Arabic.

There’s a reason it is considered the second hardest language for English speakers to learn.

Many of the sounds are different.  Sentence structure is often different.  Greetings are very different.

Let’s start with the alphabet.

My girls have been painstakingly working their way through the alphabet as well as adding vocabulary.  My lessons have not involved written Arabic, rather, I am trying to sort out the spoken.

Turns out Arabic has 18 conjugations for almost every noun and verb.  By way of comparison, Spanish has 6 verb conjugations.

And Arabic has these greetings that not only said at specific times for specific reasons but also have particular answers.  I’ll give you an example with it translated into English.

You come home from work and have been busy, I say–“God give you strength.”  You say, “God strengthen you.”  There are many others.  My favorite is “Kaif Halik (how are you)?”  “Alhamdhallah (Thanks be to God) or Ashkurallah (God is good).”

I enjoy seeing how they all fit together, but I find it hard to remember what I am supposed to say when and how.

Yesterday, Caitlyn was struggling to remember her new words for this week’s lesson.  She is used to everything except math coming very easily.  Arabic had her mad.  How dare it be so hard?  I totally relate!

Today in history we were studying the tower of Babel where the people on the earth had gotten very proud and decided that they could build a tower that would reach all the way to heaven.  Rather than letting the people be destroyed by their own pride, God introduced many languages, so the people no longer could talk easily to one another, rather, they had many different languages and communication was instantly more complicated (Genesis 11:3-9).

3And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

And it has worked, hasn’t it?  Things are much more complicated than they would be if we had just one common language.

So Caitlyn, building on what she had said yesterday about it being hard, said, “see it’s a curse!!”

But is it?

Yes, it definitely makes things harder, but our language is also part of our identity.  It is part of what makes us who we are.  It is not just a bunch of sounds strung together.  It is how we see the world, how we do things.  It is the respect we show, the respect we expect.

It is also a way to bond with people.  If you even just try a little to learn someone’s language when it is not your own, you have instantly shown them honor, that you value them.  And when the words don’t come out right–you can bond over laughter–like the day I told a lady, I would bring her a house (bayt) when I meant to say I would bring her a book (ktaab).

Yes, learning Arabic is hard.  Really hard,  but that first time I was able to tell one of my friends that I loved her in Arabic, it was all worth it.

So, while Caitlyn may be convinced it is a curse to learn Arabic, it will continue to be part of our

The Depths

Eight years ago I was in a fight for my life.  Postpartum depression, anxiety, and psychosis had taken hold of me after Patrice was born.

It is much too easy to remember the desperation of those days…being busy with the girls non-stop because I knew if I stopped or slowed down I would fall apart and I was just as certain that if that happened I would not be able to pick up the pieces.

I remember looking at my newborn sleeping–so jealous that she could sleep and I could not–knowing that in a few short hours my other girls would be awake and there would be no time to rest–and yet, I couldn’t sleep.

There was the day I took a very new baby and her two older sisters across town to a play place.  Our A/C was out, it was hot and I could not stay home.  I could not sit.  Hubby was home that day, what if he saw what a mess I had become, I could not bear to have that happen, so away we went.

Daily, I reached out to my midwife for one reason or another.  She was a friend and I instinctively knew she was safe.  She was so patient.  She talked me through my desire to disappear, she passed on recipes for butternut squash.  She helped me find help when the inevitable came and I did fall apart and I couldn’t pick up all the pieces.

Eight years ago, many doctors, medications, a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and a few hospitalizations later, and here I am.  Is it easy–nope, each day is a balance.  Is it possible, yes.  Am I thankful–more than you will ever know.

The Lord has brought me through so much.  He has brought a calling into my life–a couple of them really, and He has brought me my tribe–those women who love me, reach out, and help me take care of myself.  I am so thankful to Him and all of them.

Eight years ago.  Eight years ago.