Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Isolation bothers me, seeing someone alone, cut off from the rest of the world really gets under my skin.
There are many other injustices that are probably much more important but for some reason people that are isolated from others really gets to me.
Maybe it is because I can't tangibly do anything for someone who has a need for someone who needs something fixed (i.e. house, fixing their car etc.) or something  for the people who need food or medical help. But I can  do something practical for those who are isolated.
I remember the first time this passion/concern came into my life was when I was in kindergaten. There was a boy in my class who was a little troubled. He smelled a little funny, was dirty most of the time and just seemed like an outcast. One day he got angry at the teacher for some reason and grabbed this big rock and threatened to throw it at the teacher. After the teacher went to get to the principle he ran into the wooded area behind the school. Seeing him sit there all alone and scared I went and sat with him. We sat there together until the principle came and told us to go back inside.

I didn't want to get involved in the problems he was causing but I felt for him.

One of the saddest times I get with Kyle and his situation is when Ayden and Ellyse are out playing with other people and Kyle says I don't have any friends. It breaks my heart to see the isolation he is in many times.

Recently one of my former youth group kids got in trouble for some very disturbing things. He was put in jail and I am sure was seperated from the rest of the general population. Immediately I began to think about the isolation he was feeling. He may very well deserve the punishment he is going to recieve, and he has made some very wrong choices but the isolation he feels and will feel for many years to come gets to me.

One of the common themes of Jesus' life while he was here on earth was going to the isolated. Spending time and loving those who have been margonized in society. The lepers, the sick, tax collectors, fisherman, and every other undesirable. He brought hope, and community to those who had none. He gave of himself to those who others turned from in disguse.

The opposite of isolation is community. Community where people not only know your name but where people know what makes you tick, your good, and bad. People that journey through life and don't quit on you.

Maybe there are many more in the world who are isolated than I realize. Maybe there are many who don't experience community. Maybe there are many who are so intrenched in shame, guilt, hurt, and bitterness that they don't allow others in.

Isolation doesn't have to happen. But it takes work and alot of investment.

As much as I worry about Kyle, people continue to come into his life. Last week while playing baseball for the last time a friend of mine Eric took Kyle on as his buddy. They laughed, and even made up a song together. I am so thankful for those who help Kyle not be isolated.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


The two best times in Pine Creek subdivision are Halloween and the annual subdivision garage sale. Both of these times people connect not only to each but also to others who venture in to the neighborhood.
This past weekend was the garage sale. This was the first year I manned our treasures, wares, and other items that we were looking to end up in someone's elses garage.

The garage sale was the opportunity. It was an opportunity to have people show up at our house for conversation and interaction. Between the two days we figured we had close to 250 people visit us.

There were the interesting interactions like the women who had me try on a shirt to see what it would look like on her son in law, who may be a little huskier than me.  Or the gentleman who wanted to buy my power washer by testing it out on my back deck.  I did have some items I had rescued from storage units so I wasn't sure what they were. So we had some moments of people trying to figure out what things were. For .25$ it was worth the investment for whatever the contraption was.

There were the moving moments. I am suprised how many people in our area don't speak English. I met a couple of different Asian families, and a hispanic family who were not fluent in English to say the least. There was a lot of hand motions and the slow and louder words on my part. (it doesn't help when someone doesn't speak English). The Hispanic family used their young daughter (about 6) to communicate. It is a reminder that many who live among us who are isolated due to their language.
Another moving moment was when an aquantance stopped by. I was wearing one of my umpteen Red Sox shirts. He mentioned how he was going to be getting a Red Sox hat soon. He shared how he was getting a Red Sox hat because last summer his father was killed while running, and he had a Red Sox hat on and wanted to get one to remember him by.

One older gentleman came by himself and talked to Kyle and I for awhile, and told us his birthday wastoday and he was so excited for his party.

People told us about their hobbies, interests, medical ailments, and uses for their items they would be buying. We talked to little old ladies, neighbors, friends, strangers,little kids, and everyone in between.

There were many other interactions, many people talked to Kyle and asked about his disease and why he was in a wheel chair.

The garage sale was like so many other social situations are opportunities. Opportunities for us to encourage, communicate with, and act like Jesus. To often we can get so caught up in tasks that we miss these moments. We miss the human interaction.

I think the one thought I have after this weekend is that people are lonely. People want, and desire to have interactions. It is so easy for us to get caught up and not spend time building people up.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Human Connection

"I have a baseball game Sunday night." was one of the first statements made by Kyle when he got in the car from camp. I was a little suprised that he was so excited about going back to play baseball. It was fun for all of us but wasn't sure that would be that thrilled with going back. He didn't even mention the concession stand so I knew that it was the game he was talking about.

As I mentioned before each player has a "buddy" that plays with them. The buddies are adults and teenagers. Some have a personal connection to the players others are just willing to serve. The first week Kyle played someone I didn't know was his buddy. The buddy did a great job not only helping Kyle but also engaging him on a social level. Kyle will talk, ask questions, and even the same question over and over again. He talks quite a bit. So engaging Kyle socially can be time consuming and even tiring.

This week when he went and played another guy came up and asked if he could be Kyle's buddy. I know Billy a little bit, we run a church softball league together. Billy is a typical Portage softball player. He has quite a few tattoos, looks like he would be more comfortable in a biker bar than anywhere else and someone you would want on your side if a fight breaks out.

Kyle had hit the ball by himself the first time up, but seemed very tired the second time. He missed a few and then Billy put his arms around Kyle and they swung together and hit the ball. During the fielding time, Billy squatted and talked to him, and Kyle threw the ball to him after every batter. Kyle's throws go about 2 feet and straight into the ground but Billy patiently would go and pick it up each time.

At the end of the game, Billy brought Kyle back to me and said thank you for letting me spend time with Kyle.

One of the moments that brings tears to my eyes in life, is when two people who seem like opposites or wouldn't have anything in common connect. It can't be forced. Kyle and Billy have little in common but Kyle wanted a Tigger tattoo after the other night. But in the end both of them have a new friend.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Kyle's week at camp

Leaving the nest is sometimes tougher on the parents than the child. Last week Kyle left for the longest he has been away from us. He went to camp for a week.
I was not sure how this would affect us and our routine. But I didn't think it would be so different.

To start off with Kyle's week was great. He had a very good time at camp, and he was just fine without us. He loved archery, and the food was good. He wasn't thrilled with nap time. He went to his first dance, sang karaoke, stayed up late, went to a bonfire, and made many new friends. His counselor was only 17 and not much bigger than Kyle but they seemed to get along great. Someone in his cabin snored. When Kyle came home he slept and was as dirty as any typical boy coming from home from camp. Overall he enjoyed it but he only wants to go back if the cabins are air conditioned.

I don't think we did as well. In some ways it almost was paralyzing. For the last year about every 20 minutes or so there is a need that needs to be taken care of. Whether it be going to the bathroom, something that dropped, or any other normal part of life life revolves in many ways around Kyle's needs. Not to have that for a week would seem freeing and have tons of time/energy to do other things. But the reality is it has become such a routine that it wasn't normal.

Normal is so different now, I hadn't realized it until last week. Sleep patterns changed, life rythms changed. It was very strange. It wasn't normal and that was more unsettling than I would have imagined. What to do with the extra time. emotional and physical energy?

These are just observations, I am not sure if these are right or wrong.

It is nice to be back in the routine of life, it is nice to have our family back together. It may be more difficult physically but it is back to being complete.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


I have enjoyed baseball since I was a little kid. I have spent many hours playing, watching, and thinking about baseball. In the late 1980s early 90s I like most boys my age collected baseball cards. I remember spending hours looking, and pouring over them.

There was a game a few of us would play in college. We would go to steak n shake late at night and see how long we could name 1980s baseball players until someone would finally lose. It could take hours. After going through all the starters of the teams we would go through backups. One of my favorites was a back up catcher for the Pirates by the name of Benny Distafano. It was great fun and in some way stroked our egos. But all it did was confirm that we had spent to many hours pouring over a game. In the same way people get into star wars and other "nerdy" things. Yet we were definitely "nerdy."

I realize as I get older that as we become more knowledgable, the temptation is to develop a level of pride. I know more about a certain topic so thus I am smarter, and in turn more valuable. I have seen it in my own life so many times, it is a constant battle to think of someone less because they have less knowledge in a certain area.

In a conversation recently I had about helping people, this topic came up. It is very easy to develop a posture of I can help you because I am more enlightened, smarter, richer, or whatever. There will be knowledge that could be of help to those in need physically, mentally, or emotionally. But knowledge doesn't have to be a one way street.

It is easy for us to view individuals, races, or clusters of people as beneath us. The more exposed to others, the more I realize how little I know.  I realize how little I know about faith, trust, God, and community.

Just because Kyle has disabilities and may not know a lot life, there are many things that I can learn from him. But I can only learn if my posture is right. If I view him as someone who is a burden or who couldn't possibly teach me anything, than I am the one who loses out.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Putting Heart into it

We are all uncomfortable in different situations in life. I was performing a wedding a couple of weeks ago and I am not a huge fan of being dressed up and in formal situations. (my vermont back woods roots coming out). For some reason I always thought I am the only one who feels uncomforable in these scenerios. Then as I watched the guests I arrive I realized that many of these people are uncomfortable and feel our of place. The aha moment was when this late teen early twenty something was wearing high heels and fell right on her face. I'm sure she was horrified and felt like the whole world was watching her.

We all have the situations that make us uncomfortable. I have seen it with taking people into jail/prison situations. There is a fear of the unknown, the different, the unknown possibilities. The fear of others from different races and economic status. There is also people with disabilities that make others uncomfortable.

We have seen it first hand, the looks and the avoiding looks. People with disabilities make many uncomfortable. As Jill will say "you can't catch it" meaning you can't catch muscular dystrophy.

It is freeing when we can overcome these uncomfortable feelings. When we begin to interact and realize that all of us in life are in the same boat.

Last night Kyle played in his first baseball game. He actually hit the ball twice. He was ecstatic. Everyone who played had special needs. There was one other boy in a wheelchair. There was a wide range of ages and disabilities. These kids have a helper who helps them hit and field. Whenever someone hits a ball there are multiple balls thrown onto the field and every fielder gets a chance to make the play. (It is somewhat controled chaos.)

Kyle was a little apprehensive about going. But immediately he had a helper who talked to him and helped him through each play. I didn't even catch his name but he seemed to enjoy the night as much as Kyle did.

This baseball game is done every Sunday night in June and a church hosts/sponsors it.

My expectations of most things in life (especially new things) are very low. So I was just hoping Kyle had a good time. I was pretty suprised to see close to 100 people there cheering and encouraging the kids and their families. These were people from the church. They weren't part of the game, they didn't have a specific job to do other than just be an encouragement, and they were.

There was a speaker system and each of the kids had their names announced. It was very special for each of the families.

It is easy to do something with our hands or our money for someone else, it is a whole new level when our hearts are put into it. This is what we saw and experienced, is a church that got behind a cause and put their hearts into it. I am sure there were many that have felt uncomfortable with special needs people but they overcame that and put their hearts into it.

Kyle won't be able to play next week due to going to camp by himself for the first time. But he will playing the final three Sundays in June. He enjoyed the game but I think he may have liked going to the concession stand even more afterwards like a typical little leaguer.