Gay Pride, School and God

On September 8, 2018, I attended the 2018 Murfeesboro “Boro Pride” Parade.  I took a friend of mine who also had to write a similar paper for a separate class.  We got off the interstate and took a turn toward the festivities. There were two gentlemen with signs on either side of the streets at an intersection. One of the men had a sign and a megaphone. He was reciting Bible scripture.  The other man had a sign with the 10 commandments on it.  I felt like they were a reasonable distance away from the parade area.  I believe everyone has a right to voice their opinions in respectful ways.  We found parking and started toward the event.  I noticed as we walked toward the square, it wasn’t actually a parade.  Everyone appeared stationary.   There was a rainbow balloon archway where you walked into the event.  There was a band to the left.  There was a large group of people in front of the stage.  We steered right.  There were booths set up throughout the event.  The first booth we came to was for “Reducing the stigma of HIV one conversation at a time”.  The man at the tent was knowledgeable about testing.  There was a testing site on the other side of the event where they prick your finger for the testing.  He asked that we go get tested.  At the tent, there was a bowl of peppermints, a bowl of buttons for support and a bowl of condoms.  My friend and I giggled but at the same time respected the cause and I thanked him for what he was trying to accomplish.  We continued on our adventure.   There were several tents with rainbow pride accessories for sale.  Most everyone had something rainbow on; from a headband to an entire outfit shining with glitter and color head to toe.  There was a church tent that was giving away free hugs.  This was one of my favorite tents.  These sweet ladies were standing outside their tents, completely putting themselves out there, waiting on the next person to hug.  More amazingly, the people who came by embraced them for a hug.  It sent chills down my entire body knowing the two completely different sides of the gay subject coming together in a full on hug.  Both parties seemed to enjoy it and seemed almost relieved and achieved that they did it.  We moved on to another tent of “church people” handing out water.  It was very humid and I was thankful for the water.  My friend and I walked up and were offered water.  We took the water bottles and I could tell on the woman’s face who handed it to me, she was praying for me.  The prayer is between her and God but I appreciated whatever she had to say to God.   We kept walking around, looking at all of the tents and the merchandise.  I noticed a couple that were probably in their mid-50s.  I only assume they were a couple.  They appeared to be so happy to just be themselves. They weren’t dressed up in bling.  They were wearing every day clothes.  I could tell they were happy to be supporting what they believed in and more importantly, they were able to be who they were without judgement.  We saw several families like this.  Some held hands. Some sat back and enjoyed the entertainment. There were families with children running around, showering each other with glitter.  I was happy to see the people in their element and free.   We made it back around to the stage and decided to go around one more time.  We felt more comfortable the next time around.  We knew the area better and could maneuver the walkways.  It was packed.  We noticed a group of girls taking selfies in front of the Boro Pride stand.  I try not to be a judge of people but at the same time, my job is to watch and learn people by their behaviors. Both my friend and I felt that there was a large chance no one in the group was gay.  They spent minutes taking pictures of each other.  I was glad their minds were open to the idea but I had doubts of why they were supporting the cause.  Sometimes I hope I am wrong about my thoughts.  When we realized they weren’t going to be done for a while, my friend and I just decided to stand beside it and take a picture for our proof of attending.   We continued around the event for the last time.  We noticed so many different types of people.  There was a group of men who had beautiful dresses on and make up better applied than I could have ever done myself.  There were groups of women who had their chests duct taped down with no shirts on.  There were visibly gay family members that had their, what appeared to be, visibly not gay family members in attendance for support.  I am not gay.  It was uncomfortable to be around everyone.  I worried that my “not gayness” was sticking out.  I worried that someone would ask why I was at such an event.  That did not happen.  I learned that in 2018 people are trying to respect each other while still holding onto their own beliefs.  I learned that there are several different levels of enjoyment at an event such as this and that is what makes the event successful in my opinion.  I believe attending events such as this one, helps my mind accept all things, not just what I like and believe.  If I attend events that are not in my norm, I will become more comfortable with other’s ways of life.  When I work with families that are “different” than I, I will appear calm and collective and in return, the families will be comfortable and secure in the environment we are in.

Be Jesus.

I was chastised this week. On several different occasions by several different people. It was hard to handle. The things they were angry about were their own doing and yet, it fell back on me.

Hi, I’m a social worker.

I found myself very frustrated with situations that were out of my control. I wanted so bad to yell at these clients, “This. Is. Your. Choice. Not. Mine” . And worse off, the kids are the ones who are getting punished.

Then I remember the blood of Christ. His Father sent him directly to us in flesh. He didn’t do anything wrong. He went through pain and agony we will never understand. And He did it willingly. He could have, as the devil said, made it all go away. He did not. All for the Love of us. All for our broken, sinful, selves.

We are to be Christ-like. I will prayerfully never have to go through the physical pain Jesus did. But, I will be blasted for doing what it right. And as a believer in my Jesus, I will continue to fight for what’s right. I will continue to fight for these children. I will give forgiveness to all of the parents. Why? Because, WWJD.

In this line of work, we are to be set aside from the rest. We are to offer our clients redemption. As most should know, parents don’t start out this way. They usually learn from their surroundings as children and continue the patterns as adults (thus the vicious cycle that is job security for me).

We don’t work with parents. We work with children trapped in adult bodies who have no idea how to rise above their situations. We are to come in, not as a drill sergeant, but as the body of Christ. Loving. Caring. Open.

Just imagine…

If our clients understood what Jesus did for them. They wouldn’t need the drugs, the alcohol, the empty relationships, the abusive relationships, the anger, the victim mentality. They would fall into His arms and forever be changed.

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most Highdwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.

Psalm 46:1-5

I will continue doing my job. I will continue fighting for the children. I will continue fighting for the parents. If even one life is changed, it’s God’s work and I’m blessed that he has used me as a vessel for Him.

Amen.

Day in the life…… Social work style

So. Just another day in the office, right?

Wrong.

I start the day off searching for a mama who got out of jail and began twisting through the family like a tornado.

Then I make it to transport a kiddo for a 4 hour visitation because I know how important family is and the state can’t seem to see fit that we pay for providers to do it.

Then I make a pit stop at court. Tear it up as usual. Got some kids back with parents. Praying they continue on the path they are on.

Then I remove a child from a family that can’t handle him due to life and health issues and place him in foster care.

Then I go get groceries and come home to a house that appears to be barely standing, with laundry piled up and dinner to be made and children to be gotten ready for their first day of school tomorrow.

Bottle up ALLLLLLLLLLLLLL the emotions of this one day and you could probably use it for jet fuel to finally get to Mars. And back. 3 times.

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”

1 Peter 4:10

I. Am. Blessed.

Self Care

A supervisor once told me “don’t wait until you’re 20 years in to realize what you should have done 20 years ago.”

Social work can take a lot out of you. Matter of fact, it can take everything you have. Approximately 30-45% of child welfare staff leaves within two years (scribd.com). It will do the same to you too, if you aren’t aware and prepared.

Social work isn’t the only job like this, of course. Some others are law enforcement, nursing, and pastoral staff just to name a few.

Helping people is exhausting. It isn’t numbers. It’s people’s lives. It isn’t the same day in, day out. It’s different every time you get to work. It doesn’t end when you leave work. The big man wants more of you than you can ever give. Nothing is ever good enough. Someone, somewhere, needs your assistance.

Take a step back. It’s OK. You need not feel guilty. You actually help your cause when you take a break every once in a while. Let go of the guilt and let go of the day. Don’t plan much. Just be. Be you. Do you remember who you are? If not, find you.

I take a day off here and there. No big plans; just to have a day. A lot of times I spend it with my kiddos. Some days I send them off to school and I may not get out of bed. Or I may reorganize my closet. Or I may go grocery shopping and actually get to think about meal planning while I do it.

The key is to not feel bad about needing a day. Self-care. Care for yourself. Who else is responsible for getting that one job done? No one else but you. Take responsibility and DO IT!!!!!!! I’ve got my day scheduled for July. Do you?

Perspective

Im bubbling over with anger. I’m in a funk. I’m so frustrated and there’s no simple end to my current issues. I’ve read my Jesus Calling book. I’ve prayed about it. I still dont feel great. I’m still so frustrated.

In comes a man… legs cut off from the knee down. Paying restitution for something he didn’t do. Struggling to get in the door and struggling just as much to get out of the door.

Take that Pattie.

God says………

You whine and complain about your first world problems. You pray to me but you don’t listen. Let me slap you in the face.

Yes, Lord. I hear you Lord. My problems are not worth a day ruined. I am thankful for my health. I am thankful for my career. I am thankful to be alive. This will blow over. It is not the end of the world.

Amen.

Foster isn’t fun.

Look here. If you are looking into fostering, this isn’t exactly to deter you. What it is is to be raw and real with you. Don’t become a foster parent for superficial reasons.

1 John 3:17 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?

Don’t become a foster parent because you think the parents suck beyond repair. Your MAIN job is to love these children unconditionally, through all of their brokenness, and to be patient while the parents work hard to try and get to a safe and stable place in their life. Your job isn’t to belittle them while they work. They aren’t you. They dont have the knowledge and resources you do. They are not where you ARE. Your job is to meet them where they are. To respect them as human beings. Can you do this? Yes. Then you have my full support!! If no. Go back to the drawing board and give in other ways. Offer assistance in any way possible.

Acts 20:35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

Life on the road.

This is my office.

My office has unhealthy fast food. My office has randomness threw around. My office is lonely.

I drive. I drive to home visits. To facilities. To hospitals. To schools.

I drive to broken homes and pray the whole way there. I drive away from those homes and pray even harder.

I love it. I love being away from the office. I love getting in there and working as hard as I know how.

I ask that if you are out there reading this, please pray that I make the best choices in all of my cases. Pray for my clients. All the family members. Pray for the clients to find healthy support.

Amen.