Stay the Course - Not Just Midway but All the Way

Jim and I are adamant about supporting the Midcourse Correction Challenge Camp in Michigan.  Many that follow my blog or know me personally are aware that I did a great deal of research into their organization.  I wanted to try to determine which program in Michigan my step-son Dan would see as the most reflective of  what he would have wanted for himself and others to help  make it ‘through the rain’, the trials in his life. 

This organization was a clear stand out. Talking to Richard Wood, the Executive Director only put an exclamation point to the decision.  Never have we looked back.  Thus, though little funds have been garnished, to date, for the fund we started in Jim’s son’s name, we are steadfast in our commitment in doing what we can do support and promote this Camp. 

To that end, I want to share a few recent stories to come out of Midcourse I learned of recently, since my last writing on the Camp.  In addition to their Challenge Camps they also have a much more intense Honor Company program attendees can return to.  This is far better explained by visiting their site, listed below. 

This Honor Company program shows just 
how much progress can be made with 
teens after attending the first camp. 
This is not a spa treatment facility.   To willingly come back for a more intense version is a clear indication that these young people recognize it has real value in their life.  It may be a boot camp, but motivation and insight is accomplished.

At a recent Camp, one young man spoke to the Director about how he had been released from drug use finally.  Life begins anew for this young man now, free from the bondage of drug use and put on a new course to live with goals in place.  How can this be accomplished in a weekend camp?  Ask yourself if the cost is too much to pay?  Would you want to help someone live drug free for a small token of change?

Another attendee had returned a few weeks ago and proudly showed how his failing grades from his attendance at the first camp were now all B’s.  He had come, that first time, literally kicking and screaming in a car, restrained.  Now, this same young man is like many others that attend and leave this fine program, forever changed. Attending the Honor Company, he was seen hugging his parents, asking for forgiveness and committed to knowing his steps now are the path to a good direction.   A life is saved, he came screaming at one time and is leaving smiled and invigorated.  In my book, that is a miracle. 

Many know that the leader of the organization, Richard Wood,  has a heart of gold.  His staff is full of good people on a mission. He not only believes in the program, he genuinely cares about the parents and the teens. We feel blessed to know our donations are guided by his hands, by his heart.  We know Dan’s name is saving spirits that might otherwise be diminished like his shortened life was. 

As a couple, we are not financially well off, by any stretch, but with the little we have; we find something to give to this fund several times a year, Dan Bronold Memorial Scholarship Fund.  We quit asking others to give nearly as much because we saw such a lack of response.  If you don’t give to this program, we understand but please find another one you will support. These young misguided teens, if not straightened out, can become tomorrow’s criminals on the street, full of hate.  That anger can be turned inward or outward. They need help, they need direction, and they need a place like Midcourse to put them on the right course. 

And we also pray that when they are misguided they are not put in a jail cell in isolation and left there with nothing to help them sort their thoughts out.  This Camp believes they can prevent those unhappy endings. We believe it too, infact, we are hearing about it often.  Amen.

  For more information, visit their site:  http://www.midcoursecorrection.org/


Winds Blowing

Through the best and the worst of times we experience the myriad of what we call life.  No one gets the choice of siphoning out which parts we can alone experience.  Thus, our history, past present and future comprises a mish-mash of both.  2014 was, to many, a time of challenges, personal growth, joyful memories and personal loss.

This past year, the world scene underwent some very negative news stories that upset homes, governments and families everywhere. It was easy to see how these tensions could carry over to personal lives as well.  However, with media attention towards controversial topics there creates dialogue.   Hopefully, eventually with this communication, solutions will ensue. Compromise, though, does not seem to come easily anymore.  Even within our American soil, there is a pervasiveness to be right rather than resolve issues.

The success stories of what has gone right in the world, in our country and in our communities is not as newsworthy to networks as the negativity for some reason.  I suppose it doesn't make as good of a headline, eye-catching.  But these stories, moments of happiness, of mountains conquered also were compiled through-out 2014.  Even with a government that many want to hate and condemn for not getting enough done, has still maintained our democracy.  Many Americans are holding down jobs, are home owners, have the freedom to carry arms retaining their liberties and freedom of speech and are able to move at will. Be critical of the US Government and president if you will but note also many other nations treat people like second rate citizens in their own land.  So another year went by, 2014, and with all the terrorism going on, we remained free, a blessing not to be taken ever for granted. It gives us continued hope for more positive change.

When I review my life this past year I have seen some wonderful things come into my life.  I had not returned to a special camp for cancer survivors in many years called Camp Bluebird.  This past spring 2014 I returned.  It opened my eyes and my life to a new circle of friends that I had met before here. 

This time, going to this three day camp by myself, it took those relationships to a whole new deeper level. There is no turning back, even if I wanted to.  The commitment to continued growth and the bond we share from fighting cancer, some still fighting that battle is an unspoken thread of love that ties us together.   It allows for unconditional regard and a surrogate family that is responsive to each other’s needs and prayers in an eye-opening kind of way that perhaps was remiss in my life.  I can say 2014 brought the miracle of Camp Bluebird into my life.  As one of the leaders says in part, you can’t hurt me too bad, “I am a Bluebird damn it!”

Debbie Thomas of the American Cancer Society and I have spent a great deal of time together this past year.  With her encouragement and my passion towards finding better cures and treatment for breast cancer, I increased my involvement in a big way towards the annual event to raise funding for Strides against Breast Cancer in Nashville, Tennessee. Having worked in the past as the Director of Corporate Development for the American Cancer Society, I know how critical the success of this event is to the programs for breast cancer and expanding research in this field.  Many do not realize too, that the research expands well beyond simply breast cancer, thus other forms of cancer benefit from these dollars. 

Thus, I helped in several areas for the event this year with my primary role being working with not only Debbie but a special lady out of Memphis, Sarah Byrum, on social media.   Twitter and Facebook were intended to increase the awareness of Strides. The end goal was to increase team numbers, dollars and involvement. It helped considerably but we found it can be improved on even more in 2015.  I am proud of the foundation that was built this past year.   Yes, pink passion in social media for Nashville hit its mark!  So many carried the torch and ran with it.

It has always been important to me to not only continue my education learning from others but to impart what I have learned. Not being employed anymore outside the home poses more challenges to this and yet I have so much more to give.  Thanks to the wonders of marketing and social media, I have been engaged much more heavily this year on Twitter.  This forum has provided me the opportunity to meet so many diverse individuals.  I have learned from many others of varying degrees of expertise and also imparted my knowledge base gathered from working and personal experiences.   It has been rewarding to feel as if I have helped others have some insight and growth moments in their life. Helping others is what I feel we are called to do.

Friends are priceless commodities.  This year reinforced this fact more than ever.  It was a time to reevaluate which ones are the stand-outs.  Who is there with you for the long-haul?  Who has your backside? As you get older, friends begin feeling more like family.  No longer are you bound because of your children playing sports together because your children are grown, flown the coup. Your friends choose to be around you.  They actually like you, respect you, and care about your opinions even if you are on opposite sides of an issue. 

My husband and I realized we have a closer relationship with a few of ours in particular.   Whether we see them often or not, they and we are a phone call away.  If needed, that is all it takes for one of us to be there for each other.   This year showed us that one of God’s blessings is giving us friends like this and recognizing the value of them. 

My relationship with my husband has deepened tremendously this year.   Our years together have put us through uphill climbing and some fun rides down hills laughing through twists and turns.   There were years when the heart-ache threatened to break us but the bonds of matrimony have gotten stronger and shown us our love is unique.  What we have we are unwilling to ever walk away from, we are willing to fight for and die for.   We have held each other in tears, in anger and in laughter finding that, through it all, we can survive all kinds of weather.  How many times we have found new ways to define our life as circumstances have changed and necessitated that we do so.  We push each other to get off the pot, and move forward.   This year was no exception.  2014 reiterated again we believe in each other and support each other 100%.  We can be happy as long as we have each other. 

Oh boy, 2014 taught me that I wasted 14 years!  Too much time in my marriage was spent not fostering a better relationship with my sister-in-law.  She began calling me once a week when she retired and it was a joy. I think, in the beginning, I started wondering what the motive was, if something was wrong.   Once my guard was down and I just enjoyed the calls, the relationship began to develop.  I had regrets that it took so long for us to get close.  But, things happen for a reason so perhaps this was the year this was supposed to occur so I am thankful it did, she called and I answered!   I look forward to what we do and learn in the years to come!

 Christmas was spent in NYC with Jim’s niece and all that side of the family.  Wow, what a wonderful time!  What were we thinking not getting up there sooner? Why speculate.  We need to quit wasting time and bite the bullet, find the money and spend more time with my husband’s side of the family.  We have hardly spent any time up there during our 14 years of marriage and truly it was one of our best Christmas’s together.   We were surrounded with laughter, love and a feeling of love, acceptance and giving.  Jim’s family is full of laughter, craziness, activities, openness, acceptance and all the good things Jim and I are about and want in our life.  We value these qualities. 2014 reminded us we have family we have neglected that wants us to be an active part of their live and we have let them down by not making time for them.

This past year there have been some very special memories with my grand-daughter Ava, and grandsons Ty and Jake.  As they get older, the memories are different and in some respects, easier to remember because they are more interactive.  Having said that, any memories with them are special.   Having Ava for a few days over the summer was a very special time for both Jim and I.  She still continues to make us smile with her innocence and her desire to make everyone around her happy. As both boys continue to surprise everyone with their progress from their therapy for autism we beam with pride and pray for continued improvement.

Little did I know at the time that my visit with my grandson Kaleb in Feb. would be the last time I would see him.  Thus, 2014 visiting with my grandson was special indeed and I will treasure that time. His silly faces he makes and his teasing me with his silliness.   That is something grandmas don’t easily forget.   I wish his Grandpa Jim had had a chance to say good bye in 2014 but somehow I know God will make certain Kaleb knows in his heart his grandpa never stopped loving him.  Kids somehow know these things.  That week with him will always be a special time for me in 2014! I feel blessed I had it, amen!

My husband and I made more of a commitment to have fun in life and do more things for us.  And we did.  We are limited as to what we can do, but within our means, we did find things we could afford to do and we did those and had a blast!  Renting a cabin with my sister and her friend for the weekend was heaven.  I finally got to see my nephew play on his high school varsity football team out of town and he was great!  We went and visited a close high school friend overnight I hadn't seen in ages.  We went to see a Broadway show together.  We went to an amusement park and even one time took our granddaughter to one! The list goes on, and from the smallest on the list it is all good. Life truly is what you make it.  Don’t hold your breath waiting for tomorrow to come.   

2014 had its low moments, for sure but it had some incredible moments too I wouldn't trade for the world.   It showed us we can forge ahead and change directions no matter what gets thrown at us.  It is kind-of like playing dodge ball.  After you get hit, do you just stand there or do you move towards a new horizon?