Monday, November 28, 2005

The Return of a Bully

Middle school was a hard time for me. I went from a fairly decent elementary school to a tough middle school that was located about a block away from the projects. My parents didn't know it was a bad environment and by the time they realized it and pulled me out of there, I had already endured a full year of torment, bullying, threats, and the occassional physical abuse. My second year there, I decided that since I couldn't beat them, I'd have to join them.

When I entered High School, I went back to my nerdy book-lovin' roots and spent my entire high school life working to change the stupid notion held by most of the Latino kids that if you were smart you were "acting white". By the time I graduated, I convinced my Latino peers that it was our responsibility as Latinos to be smart, go to college, and be role models for other kids.

In the spring of my freshman year at Purdue, I came back to my dorm to find a really big scary looking guy, covered in prison tattoos, sitting on the steps of the building I lived in. It was Javier M. One of my chief tormentors during my middle school and high school years.

Javier told me that he had just gotten out of prison a few weeks before, and that he had come to visit a relative that lived about 45 minutes away. He heard I was at Purdue, so he called Campus info and got my address and phone number.

He told me that he came to find me because he wanted to apologize for everything he ever did to me. He told me that he was proud of me and that I was an example for the kids in the neighborhood. He went on to say that it was great that I didn't care what other people thought of me and that I did what I knew was right. He asked for forgiveness for the abuse and bullying he put me through when we were kids.

I forgave him. We ended up talking for several hours and I know that he left feeling better about himself. It was very validating for me to know that he actually thought about what he did and how it affected me, even years after it happened.

When I volunteered to teach Junior Achievement classes in the West Side of Chicago, I encouraged the kids to stay out of trouble, go to college, see the world. There was always one kid that asked, "What if you are being bullied by a gang because you won't join?" Javier has given me a hopeful answer that I can pass on to these kids. I am greatful to him for that.

This is a nice story that ends well. But lately, I have been struggling with issues of forgiveness. It is a simple concept. As Christians we are called to forgive, as Christ forgives us. I wonder if when we get to heaven, we will be able to see the consequences of the hurts we have imposed on others because of our sin. I wonder how much I will grieve the harm I did unto others. I also question why we sometimes hold on to the hurt that other's have inflicted on us. Why not just release it to God and receive healing when it obviously hurts the person who holds on to it, more than the person that hurt you to begin with.

Some wounds run deep and resurface. If Javier's bullying had lasting physical or emotional affects, would it have been so easy for me to forgive him that spring afternoon? What if I hadn't? Would I have ended up being bitter and hating him? He probably would have felt bad for a while, but then he would have forgiven HIMSELF and he would have forgotten about me. Holding on to anger doesn't punish the offender, it just makes the offended sick.

Any thoughts or encouragement on this issue are welcomed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

If I wasn't so nice, I would have known what to say...

Lately, people have really caught me off guard with their rude comments. Here are some of the best ones we've been told lately...

Brian: Hey everyone! Me and My wife are pregnant!
Office Lady at his former job: Great! Now everyone's insurance premiums are going to go up.

Later on in that week....

Office Lady at his former job: Hey Brian, the boss decided that he's only going to offer insurance for you. Your wife and baby will have to pay for their own.

A few months later...

Brian: I found another job.


Set up: I was at one of my doctor's offices a few weeks ago meeting with the head doctor. It was a difficult meeting and to end on a positive note, I shared that I had just come off of maternity leave and that I was a new mom.

Dr. Rude: Oh! That's great! How old is she?
Me: Five months and she's beautiful and I already think she's a genius!
Dr. Rude: Is she drooling alot?
Me: Oh Yeah.
Dr Rude: She must be an idiot then.
Me: Uh no... Actually she's TEETHING.

What kind of a low life would joke around like that? I know that the proper response would have been.... "Well you're not drooling and you're an idiot." But I'm too polite! I don't think of these things until much later!

Set up: At a dinner party. We didn't know some of the other guests. I was telling a story about how our beloved neighbors from across the street came over in their beautiful outfits that they wore to celebrate the end of the muslim holiday Ramadan and to share some food with us. Aimee threw up without warning and some of it got on one of the boys.

Host: Oh! Are they the boys that always ask if they can come over?
Me: yeah. They are so cute!
Guest we had just met: Maybe they are training to be suicide bombers.

The room fell momentarily silent in disbelief that the guy said something so stupid. In unison we turned to look at a guest who was also from that part of the world. The host quickly changed the subject.


So readers, is it wrong to pray for a quick tongue? How about for the presence of mind to know what to say right when this stuff happens?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Reason to have kids #1

Because just the thought of her stinky little baby feet is enough to bring me out of my depression.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The REAL reason Harry Potter is pure evil...

Because there is no way you can read a 750 page book from cover to cover without losing sleep, not cooking for your husband, and letting the house go without cleaning. You KNOW you've let your house go when your husband says,

"If you walk into the kitchen you think you are walking into a crack house."

The sad part is that this statement could go for the rest of the house too.

I'm going to go clean now.

If you were thinking about giving us money....

Please don't!

A few weeks ago, our pastor called Brian and asked him if we could help out with a sermon he was preparing by going up in front of the church and telling our story about how we didn't agree about titheing and how God changed our hearts about the whole thing and how it's affected our lives since then.

Brian and I agreed and in a nutshell, this is what Brian said....

We both felt that we need to give consistantly to the church, but we didn't agree how to give. One of us wanted to tithe to the church and the other wanted to give money to friends, family, and missionaries whenever there was a need. We started to fight about this alot, so we agreed to pray that God would help us come to an agreement.

A month later, we agreed that we needed to tithe to the church AND give to those in need. Right before this happened, we found out I was pregnant and I took the job I have now. That meant a big huge pay cut, but more time at home. Instead of us freaking out about how we were going to pay our bills, we just trusted that God would make it work out. For those of you that know Brian, this was a big deal. Brian has always been a big worrier, especially about providing.

A year has passed and we have seen lots of positive changes in our life that we attribute to our decision to give joyfully and faithfully. Brian worries a lot less because he trusts God more, and I'm more responsible with our money. We have seen lots of progress towards our financial goals too!

Anyway, as we were preparing what we were going to say, we lost something very very valuable and very very meaningful to us. (please don't's still too painful to talk about). Years of the hard work, sacrifice, and saving down the drain. But the truth is, that there has been a blessing in it. Because in dealing with this, we see how God has deeply changed our life. The verse that comes to mind is 2 Corinthians 4:18 "while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, for the things that are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." We accept that life isn't always going to be easy, and we are reminded that our treasures are not here on earth, they are waiting for us in heaven.

So anyway, if you were in church today, and you were thinking about giving us money. Please don't! This didn't really effect our day to day finances. It's really more of an emotional blow. Your willingness to give to us really touched us deeply.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Things that brighten my day...

Having a 3 year old tell me that I look cute today.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Wroblewski

JOB WELL DONE. I want you to know that your son is a compassionate, sensitive, strong husband.

Some men are happy living their life like the little stream behind our house. There is just the right amount of activity in their lives to keep it interesting, but they are afraid to think about anything deeper, so they live their lives on the surface. Their area of influence is small, but they don't seem to mind, because they don't have to take many risks in life.

Some men are like raging rivers. Their life is rich and abundant. They learn, grow, and change at speeds that surprises even them. Their legacy is like the soil at a river's banks. It is rich and abundant and lives on for many generations.

Your son is a river.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Hello old friend!

So it's been a while since I've posted. My company has entered the busiest six months we'll probably ever have and today was day 10 of working without a day off. (By the way, if anyone with Medicare needs me to help them figure out the changes that are taking effect in 06, give me a call or drop me a line. I've been giving seminars on this stuff and I have an insurance license so I know what I'm talking about...kind of). I've taken Aimee to work with me 3 days out of the 10, and I don't think I'll be doing it again any time soon. I was supposed to just go and set up for a health fair at 8 am, and then return at noon to break it down. By then, Brian would be home from work and he'd take care of Aimee. The agent that was supposed to meet me there didn't show until 10 am. Being the only insurance company, and the very first vendor at the event, Aimee and I were left to deal with all the senior citizens swarming the table... all wanting info and freebies. She did very well for the first 1/2 hour, but she was WAY past her nap time and she started to cry. The people didn't really care that she was crying and they wanted their questions answered. Random Grandpa's and Grandma's were touching her cheeks and one guy actually had the nerve to take her thumb out of her mouth and say "Cut that out little girl!" Doesn't he know what will happen if you take a baby's thumb out of their mouth! All hell breaks loose in my house!

I don't mind that Aimee sucks her thumb. It gives her a sense of comfort and a sense of control over her wobbly little body. My mom and I had this discussion already. And yes, I witnessed my sister's expensive and sometimes painful orthodontic treatments. But listen, most babies do it, and research shows that most stop by the age of 3. Anyway, I don't appreciate some stranger coming up to my baby and telling her that the only thing that is comforting her at the moment is wrong. It's none of your business buddy! Besides, did you even wash your hands before touching my baby?