Tag Archive | orphanage

Just another day in paradise …


I’m so glad that God still performs miracles! He does them every day and thankfully I try to be aware of them. I know I miss some along the way by being busy and distracted. However, some are just too HUGE to miss. Yesterday I received one of those – BIG, really very BIG!

I’ve shared on my blog that I am adopted. I spent ages 3-8 in the orphanage and was adopted by a lovely family. I don’t even think about being adopted anymore really – they are simply my family. I spent most of my life turning my back on my painful past and keeping my eyes on my good fortune and the love this family showered me with. I was saved and I have no idea how or why. God plucked me from a hellish situation and gave me another path to walk. Leaving the past behind me worked for me as I got to create myself anew.

However, as I’m dancing in my middle age I have been gradually collecting blessings as I reconcile my past and my present. I realized along the way that there is enough love in me to keep my family and to reconnect with those in my birth family as well. And last night I reconnected a little bit more.

It was a quiet evening – just me and my puppies sitting by my fire trying to figure out what to watch on TV. One of my regained sisters, Lynnette, called me out of the blue. I’m thankful to have reconnected with her but we don’t get a chance to talk much (not nearly enough). She said “get in your car and come now”. She went on to tell me that my “baby brother” who lives in Texas and drives a big rig was about 90 minutes away from her house and was stopping on his way through. Wow! Now that was not a call I was expecting to get. So into my car I got and I drove the 50 minutes to her house. It was a multiple event as this was my first time meeting her lovely children and wonderful husband. That was momentous enough.

Then we hopped in her car and drove to the rest stop an exit away where he was to meet her. Of course she didn’t tell him I was coming but it was a wonderful surprise! I cannot describe in words what it feels like to look into the eyes of someone you’ve not seen for 43 years since he was a babe in arms. I cannot articulate the blessing and the healing that happens in that miraculous moment. Even with my command of words and love of using them … I cannot describe it.

I am bone tired but happy for the conversation into the wee hours of the night. I am blessed to know that the pains of childhood really can be released in adulthood. I am so awed that in the midst of craziness and hardship, this man turned out to be a warm, genuine, sweet man. The miracles just don’t stop happening when you are hanging out here in paradise.

Hugs your siblings, hold them tight … and be blessed!

Comments for a Cause – St. Joseph’s Orphanage


30thanks-for-add4Well, I made my first donation in my “Comments for a Cause” project to my December 2012 Cause – Heartprints. It’s fun to go back and review the comments my blog has received over the last month and take action because of it. Heartprints in Cincinnati is such a great cause because it combines impacting physical needs, educational needs, and employment needs. It’s a holistic way to impact poverty locally. Kudos to Brian Siegel and the Heartprints team for their powerful impact in the Cincinnati community and beyond!!!

JANUARY 2013′s CAUSE: St. Joseph’s Orphanage, Cincinnati, Ohio

This is one of my favorite causes – for personal reasons. St. Joe’s is the orphanage I grew up in from age 3-8. That organization impacted my life directly, and I often seek ways to give back as a gesture of appreciation. When I was there, it was indeed an orphanage. There were nuns (who were very kind and compassionate) and it’s where I found shelter in the storm of life. In the years since, sometime in the 1970′s, it was converted to be a mental health support for children. By highlighting and donating to this cause I feel I can continue to support this much-needed area that is a root cause for so much suffering in the world. Mental health issues are catalysts for so much destruction to an individual’s life, a family’s dynamics, and the community at large.

I8F15P6QB9W2KCRXSQGYou can read more here: St. Joseph’s Orphanage.

Will you join me in my work? Remember – all you have to do is comment on my blog in January. Comment often – every comment counts. I will again be donating 50 cents per comment to the month’s cause. So read, and comment away – together we are impacting the world!

Comment and be blessed!

Perceptions and Change


Many of my friends are going through significant life changes these days. Some are by choice, but many are being pushed, prodded, cajoled, or even forced into it.  Perhaps it has always been this way … but I think it’s happening more and more. Well, that’s my perception anyway. The beautiful thing about perceptions is they can be changed with  more facts and more experiences.

What I’ve been observing is that even though change is change, my friends’ perceptions of it makes all the difference in the world. My question is – does it have to be this way? The  “how” you came to be in the midst of change (voluntary, involuntary, dreams, or the end of dreams) … should that really change our interaction with the shift? No matter the “why”, the “what” is still the same.

The stages of change are still the same. The things you can and cannot control are essentially the same. The connections with friends, family, and networks is identical. The steps to take from “here” to “there” are virtually indistinguishable. What is different is the perception of the change. Because of that, I think we hold the key to smoother transitions.

I learned long ago to tease apart the facts of the matter from the story we tell ourselves about the fact. Facts are neutral. They are simply the details of what happened. But the stories are where our paranoias, fantasies, dreams, suspicions, and imaginations come to life. For example, when I was 3 I was ordered by the Courts to be a ward of the State and was placed in an orphanage. Everything in that sentence is a fact. However, I spent years telling myself the story that I must have been one really unlovable child because no-one loved me and I didn’t have a family. WOW! That is a 3 year old’s story based on what I could see and what I could understand and what I could possibly imagine. And, in reality it wasn’t true. Clearly I was loveable – I had lots of friends at the orphanage, I had brothers and sisters at the orphanage, the nuns used to tell me they loved me, and a wonderful family adopted me. And yet, for years (into my 30′s) I repeated, and believed, that I was unloveable. Once I learned this whole concept about how we create barriers in our lives by our storytelling (fact vs. story) it stopped me in my tracks. Because I had made up the story, I could revisit the facts and tell a different, more plausible story. I wasn’t in the orphanage because I was unloveable, or frankly because of anything I had done at all. It was because of the actions of my parents and the decisions of the judge. Changing my perception of the facts actually freed me from fears, self-doubt, and anger. And it happened in a moment. Not in a week, not over time, not through therapy and not in lingering bits. It was instantaneous. And that was the moment I stopped giving away my joy, my worth, my purpose and my self-esteem. That’s how powerful our perceptions are.

And over time, I continue to relook at my “truths” and stories to re-evaluate the facts. It has been the single most healing learned wisdom in my life. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to learn it in my 30′s vs. in my later life.

So I ask you, are you in the midst of change? What are the facts (who, what, where, when, how)? What stories are you telling yourself (why)? Are you assigning intent and blame? Are you suspicious and fearful?  What if … in this very moment … you changed your story from something that was “done unto you” with maliciousness or for negative reasons, and retold it as a shift in opportunity, or a divine intervention, or simply as a season ending. What if you have learned and received all you need or can from that circumstance. What if the future is brighter than the now. What if the “why” did not drive your reactions or how you go through the change. What if …

I pray for those who’s change is upon them. May it be a smooth, gentle, positive adventure. And may you be blessed on the journey.

It’s the Little Things


I’ve always believed that it’s the little things in life that make the day-to-day living memorable. Yes, big vacations or life altering events are remembered and are captured in film and talked about. But those are far and few between. They mark time. But they are not really part of the ebb and flow of every day living.

What I’m talking about are the things that happen in a flash – some spontaneous and some planned that give us daily pleasures. Here’s some little things that have made my life’s list of silly little pleasures:

> When I was about 5 my big brother used to hold my hand and walk me along the really long driveway at the orphanage until he found the “perfect” spot to lay in the grass and watch the clouds. We would look for animals and shapes and daydream about a future outside the orphanage. He would tell me stories of how he was going to ride a bike really fast past the gates and “escape”. Then he’d sneak back at night and climb the balcony to help me get away too. He was sweet, protective, and always dreaming up ways to save me.

> When I was about 9 I remember playing Monopoly with my next door neighbor. It was the game that never ended. We kept coming back to it for several days. It’s a fond memory of my neighbor and one of the reasons to this day that I never want to play Monopoly.

> As a young adult, I remember fondly the time my friend and I went to a double feature movie on a Friday night.  We got the giggles in the middle of the 2nd movie and thankfully were in an almost empty theater. We did get some looks but then finally the other patrons started giggling too. We were out so late we got slap happy and started another fit of giggles at home. We laughed so long and hard I actually started to hyperventilate. While meaningless in the grand scheme it is one of my favorite memories with her.

> When heading to one of my friend’s home after a girl’s dinner out we saw a rainbow – well actually what we saw was where the rainbow ended in a field in front of her condo complex. It was the only time I’ve ever seen where a rainbow ends and I slammed on the brakes to see it. What a beautiful sight and one I’ll long remember.

None of these are anything “special” and yet they are some of my fondest, most precious memories of these friends. I know you can think of a million examples from your own life. My friend Patricia always shares how she begins her day saying: “What glorious, joyous surprise does God have in store for me today.” I think that’s the best way to start a day and a really wonderful way to bring attention to the “little things” that are some of our greatest blessings.

Count your big and little blessings and watch them multiply!

A Lavish Giver


Today I did something that I never dreamed I ever would. I had lunch with my sister. What?! That’s nothing you say? But it is to me. You see I grew up in an orphanage and was adopted as an older child. The last time I saw this sister I was 18 years old. It wasn’t a particularly pleasant last meeting and I had no intention or inkling that I’d ever see her again.

I grew up, married and had children. I divorced and moved forward. I got my degree. I raised my family. I have a successful career. The pain of my early childhood has been mostly healed and put aside. But something changed over the holidays and I felt that, now in my mid-life, I was ready to let the two sides of my life connect. I reached out to this sister on Facebook and told her I was ready. So we planned lunch. For a week I’ve been feeling a bit nervous. Would I even know what to say?

Fast forward to today. Lunch turned into a 4 1/2 hour visit. For the most part I was speechless but there were things that needed to be said and to be heard. There were a few tears but not many. There was a little awkwardness but not much. I could see the resemblance that comes from “nature” however I have to say I did not see the resemblance that comes from “nurture.” Our lives had such a drastically different trajectory and I was left feeling and knowing that I have been blessed. Richly, deeply, and undeservedly blessed.

My parents (no, not the two people that birthed me, but the ones that raised me) have given me the greatest gift of unselfish love that one human being could give to another. They saved my life. They gave me stability, discipline, guidance, opportunity, and love. They took a small girl who felt unwanted and gave her a home. I tease my Mom to this day that she was the “meanest” Mom in the world and I thank her for it.  She gave me boundaries and consequences. She gave me chores and rewards. She gave me rules and punishments. She gave me a chance and a life. She gave me an education and allowed me to make mistakes and be forgiven. Well, she wasn’t alone – she did it along with my Dad. He is the strong, silent type who worked hard and showed me what a true work ethic looks like. He role modeled patience and self-discipline. He made me feel safe. He carried me when I pretended to be sleeping. He taught me to catch a ball. Ok, I fibbed a little – he TRIED to teach me to catch a ball but I always closed my eyes and ducked. He taught me to drive and to not drink things that fizz along side beer. You know – the practical things that Daddies do.

These two naive and courageous newlyweds opened their home to a ragamuffin child with a lifetime of hard knocks, built-in fears, baggage, and bad habits and they loved me into being a woman of integrity, intelligence, and family values.

So today I regained a start to a relationship that was long ago abandoned. I now know details I never had before. Some I regret had ever happened to anyone let alone children who were my siblings. And I now have a picture of me as a baby – something I’ve never had younger than 2nd grade.

And I remember with great emotion, many hugs, and a boatload of tears, how much my parents  love me. I see with deeper clarity the things that they did to rescue me emotionally and physically. There are not enough words in the English language to tell them how much I appreciate what they have done for me.

And I also am acutely aware that  my God is a lavish giver! He gave me the strength and stubbornness to be resilient and to be a survivor. He gave me healing and mending. He gave me a family.

I am indeed richly, deeply, and undeservedly blessed! I am grateful!

Inspired and blessed


“If I only have hands to help and a heart to love, then I am truly blessed.” ~ Barbara Bernard Miller

Today as I was getting ready for work I flipped on the TV as I usually do. Bored with the never ending repeat of weather and traffic I flipped a few channels and found a simple show with a woman quietly talking to the audience and her calmness actually drew me in. I still have no idea of what her name is or what the program was because I could only watch a few minutes during my morning routine. But her message mesmerized me. There was nothing flashy or entertaining to catch my attention but the profound message of love captivated me. This woman, whoever she was, was recounting her work with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India.

She spoke of the humor and pure love that she witnessed and enjoyed in her work with Mother Teresa. She recounted the work she did as a volunteer at the children’s orphanage and the home for the dying. She repeatedly shared how beautiful the experience was – in spite of the hard work, ravished conditions, and utter despair in the eyes of some of the people. The greatest thing they starved for was for the love of human touch. A hug for child and holding the hand of those taking their last breaths.

In the brief 10 minutes I was able to listen I was enchanted by her stories. This woman not only got to stand beside and assist Saint Teresa of Calcutta, she got to experience the pure joy of loving the people in her own right. As she recounted what she received from the bony hugs she received back from the children or the last smile from the dying as she held their hand I was acutely aware at how blessed we all are to be able to touch another human being with simple acts of love. We don’t often notice it in our land of plenty where gift giving is taken to the fine art of greed.

But she touched me deeply with her words. She renewed in my heart the desire to live my purpose in life. She helped me, without ever knowing that I heard her speak, to re-examine what my gifts are and how I can help with my hands to bring a smile to the face of both loved one and stranger with a gentle touch, a warm smile, and a hug.

I am inspired and truly blessed! Be blessed too!

I would never be the same …


It’s an amazing feeling to wake up on an ordinary day and realize that a long nagging pain had suddenly dissipated. It happened to me and the emotional effect was amazing.

You see, as a small child at the age of 3 I found my world forever altered as I walked into the orphanage that was to be my home. I no more understood how and why I got there than how I was ever going to get out. Don’ t feel sorry for me. My existence there wasn’t miserable. I wasn’t mistreated like hollywood would have you imagine. I had friends and siblings and nuns who actually cared. I had dreams, responsibilities and my expansive imagination.

But there was one other thing that I carried with me and that was a new companion called abandonment. Dang what a nagging cold and elusive trickster. I have found him lurking and smirking at me inside every relationship I have ever encountered. He was hanging out with my friends, disappointed family members, men of all sorts, but most pervasively inside my own mind. I had fallen prey to his curious wiles and had abandoned myself by practicing the fine art of self doubt. What a deflating realization.

Oh yes, I admit I became a master at role playing. Sometimes hiding behind my mask of strong, confidant woman. At other times just being the jokester with irreverent sarcasm and self preservation. I crafted a wall of protection so perfect that I didn’ t recognize it under it’s cloaking devises.

And just when I was thoroughly conned into accepting that people leave me -always, it happened. Mighty Inspiration. The book that to many is a touching bit of truth. But to me, the author, it was a living and breathing love letter. From the first day of the experience that is chronicled in its pages I knew that I was not alone and had never been abandoned. GOD loves me. He said so. I heard it and felt it and knew I would not ever be the same.

I still sometimes feel the nagging memory of the little girl inside reminding me of the pain and betrayal of one or another person who walked away from my life. But then I always hear the words again …”I wanted to be with you so I created you.”

What message of love will you hear? What destructive pain will be healed for you? I implore you to find your relief and message too.

MIGHTY INSPIRATION, Love Letters from God

Be blessed!

Friendship


I am amazed at the blessings of friendship I have received over the years. As a child growing up in an orphanage (age 3-8) I thought making friends was the scariest thing because none of them ever lasted. Grade school and high school brought a smattering of friends but alas none of them seemed to stick either. I often thought I was destined to be one of those people who was always looking in from the outside. Sad but don’t feel sorry for me – I just needed time to grow up and “see” what I really have.

What I’ve learned is that I don’t have to define friendship the old way. I have true, lasting, wonderful friends that I have kept through moves around the world and across town. I approach life differently now. And when I talk to those friends either by email, phone, letter, Christmas card, or Facebook I find that my bond with them hasn’t changed. That’s because now I define friendship not by the day-to-day intertwining of our lives (although that’s a blessing when I have it as well), but rather as a heart-twining that time and space doesn’t have the ability to affect.

I love my friends and I truly thank God each day that they have been an integral part of my life. So for today, here’s a shout out to my long-distance and short-distance friends. I love you all – and yes, you know who you are!

May today be blessed and tomorrow be better!
Hugs all around,
Barb