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I am usually known as an encourager, although from time to time I have been known to really wallow in pessimism and have one absolutely *terrific* pity-party with anyone and everyone invited.    But with the overwhelming, frequent soundbites each day of the “free-falling economy,” the “downward spiral on Wall Street” with “no end in sight, ” it’s sometimes difficult to keep a positive outlook.

I’ve thought a lot recently about something Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in his first inaugural address in 1933:   “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”    Fear is palpable in our country right now, especially in the media who feeds it to us daily on a frequent basis.

Yesterday, thankfully, I read something so encouraging about one CEO’s decision to not give in to the mindset espoused by the media that I wanted to share it here in hopes that this choice might spread rapidly across our nation like a virus.   It already did there at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

All it takes is one person making a conscious decision to look for an alternative to layoffs,  being willing to give up something in order to help out others in jeopardy of their livelihood,  asking other workers to come alongside and share with the load of keeping everyone employed.

paul-levy-beth-israel

Read about President and CEO Paul Levy’s alternative to layoffs here and how his staff responded to his request for sacrifice.

Their response, in my opinion, is akin to the actions shown by my grandparents’ generation in the Great  Depression when extended families and neighbors reached out to help each other when there was a need.

It reminds me of my parents’ generation – the so-called Greatest Generation – when they came together as “one nation” in World War II to fight to preserve the sanctity and safety of their families here at home.

It’s about time that my generation – the Boomers – gets off their collective blessed assurance and show that we are capable of  carrying that same torch to keep our nation whole and healthy as our parents and grandparents before us.   Our children and grandchildren deserve no less.

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I am not a big sports fan;  I admit it.

The males in my family can easily and often do quote me when I get riled up, after reading about professional ball players’ astronomical salaries –

“I can not believe that that man gets paid *that* much money each year for hitting a ball with a stick!  (or, alternatively “carrying that ball down the field”)  Ten years from now, what difference will it make in a child’s life that he hit a ball with a stick?!”

(You get the idea.)

I don’t enjoy the hype and trash talk that fills the airwaves and television station breaks during the different seasons.    I know, I know – I just don’t get it.   I’m quite aware of that.

I do enjoy, however, watching high school and college rivalries.   They are so much more real than “professional” sports  – these individuals are playing because they *love* to play – not necessarily because they’re being paid to do so.  (And, yes, before you jump in – I am quite aware of college players receiving scholarships and other perks.)

But one thing that does catch my attention in sports is when you hear about an athlete who is so much more than just another jock out to make his or her mark in the world by earning mega-bucks through sports.   In this case, it’s plural – athletes.

It was a Saturday night in February, and the Barbs were playing a non-conference game on the road against Milwaukee Madison. It was the third meeting between the two schools, who were developing a friendly rivalry that spanned two states.

The teams planned to get together after the game and share some pizzas and soda. But the game itself almost never took place.

Hours earlier, the mother of Milwaukee Madison senior captain Johntel Franklin died at a local hospital. Carlitha Franklin had been in remission after a five-year fight with cervical cancer, but she began to hemorrhage that morning while Johntel was taking his college ACT exam.

Her son and several of his teammates were at the hospital late that afternoon when the decision was made to turn off the life-support system. Carlitha Franklin was just 39.

“She was young and they were real close,” said Milwaukee coach Aaron Womack Jr., who was at the hospital. “He was very distraught and it happened so suddenly he didn’t have time to grieve.”

Womack was going to cancel the game, but Franklin told him he wanted the team to play. And play they did, even though the game started late and Milwaukee Madison dressed only eight players.

What transpired next is the kind of thing you only see in a Hollywood movie.

johntel-franklin

Early in the second quarter, team co-captain Franklin appeared at the game, wanting to play.    The only problem was that Franklin had not been listed on the pre-game roster.  In order to play, it meant a technical foul against the Madison Knights, awarding the DeKalb Barbs two free throws.

While Womack, Franklin’s coach, was willing to give the two points to the Barbs,  Dave Rohlman, the Barbs’ coach,  was not willing to take them, arguing with the referees for five to seven minutes, saying, “We’re not taking it; we’re not taking it.”

Upon being told by the refs that there was no choice in taking the free throws, Rohlman asked for a volunteer from his team to shoot the ball.

His senior captain raised his hand, ready to go to the line as he had many times before.

Only this time it was different.

“You realize you’re going to miss them, don’t you?” Rohlman said.

Darius McNeal nodded his head. He understood what had to be done………..

He went alone to the free throw line, dribbled the ball a couple of times, and looked at the rim.

His first attempt went about two feet, bouncing a couple of times as it rolled toward the end line. The second barely left his hand.

It didn’t take long for the Milwaukee players to figure out what was going on.

They stood and turned toward the DeKalb bench and started applauding the gesture of sportsmanship. Soon, so did everybody in the stands.

“I did it for the guy who lost his mom,” McNeal told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “It was the right thing to do.”

Franklin would go on to score 10 points in the game, and the Milwaukee Madison Knights went on to win the game 62-47.   Afterwards, both teams went out and had pizza together.

When you look at Madison’s team record, you realize that they don’t have the best record (6-11), but they genuinely care about each other.   Womack is quoted as saying,  “We maybe don’t have the best basketball players in the world but they go to class and take care of business. We have a losing record but there’s life lessons going on, good ones.”

And taken directly from the Associated Press article:

None so good, though, as the moment a team and a player decided there were more important things than winning and having good stats.

Yes, DeKalb would go home with a loss. But it was a trip they’ll never forget.

“This is something our kids will hold for a lifetime,” Rohlman said. “They may not remember our record 20 years from now, but they’ll remember what happened in that gym that night.”

Now that’s my kind of sports!  😀

Read the article in its entirety here.


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Please forgive the lack of postings recently!   We’ve been running from one doctor to specialist after specialist to rule out any problems health-wise with our 13yo daughter.

Thankfully, it all appears to have been a complete blood-pressure raising scare induced by a nasty virus and dehydration.  We deeply appreciate the patience and encouraging notes, prayers, and calls shown by friends and Kindermusik families.   New postings to follow!  🙂

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I love hearing what parents have to say about Kindermusik!  After all, I’m biased – I know that it’s the very best early childhood music and movement curriculum there is!  And I know that it’s *so* much more than just music.

But to hear what a parent has to say – well, that’s a glimpse into the other side of the equation in the Kindermusik classroom – the parent and their participation in class, too.

This article by Beth Britton in Clarkesville Online shares all this, but also points out another big plus for Kindermusik parents – the Kindermusik community of other parents that are right there with you in the classroom.

beth-britton

Read what this mom from Clarkesville, Tennessee had to say about Kindermusik and the eye-opening insight she received about her own daughter while in the classroom.   Where would we be without the free thinkers of this world?  Your child *just* might be one of them!

It’s not too late to register for our upcoming Kindermusik semester which begins *next* Saturday, January 24th.    We’ll be singing Mother Goose rhymes, walking along with a dog named Rover, visiting “Cities – Busy Places, Friendly Faces” as well as playing the “Rhythms of the Land”.  Come join us!

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I really, really love the holiday season, with all of its joys and wonders.

I enjoy the anticipation of seeing a loved one’s face when they open a gift and find something they had deeply desired but did not expect to receive due to the high cost or time-expenditure involved in obtaining it.

As a musician, I love being a part of the holiday build-up, participating in so many Christmas programs – as a musician, a director, and an educator.   Providing holiday music to willing listeners who enjoy and praise your efforts is always a joy and pleasure.

I even enjoy shopping to an extent – when I am able to get out *early* in the morning around 7:30 or 8 AM before the mall’s parking lots begin to fill with the crazies who cruise up and down the lanes, looking for that one spot closest to the door when they could easily have parked their car five or six slots further down the hill and walked up, saving time *and* gas.

I love remembering Christmases past and sharing family stories with my children, now old enough to appreciate those of  family members no longer with us and to enjoy hearing their own versions of those they shared in as very young children.

However, this Christmas season we had a new experience that I could just as soon done without.

The day after my previous post, my mother-in-law’s home, located nearby, was broken into and ransacked.   There wasn’t really anything of monetary value in her home to steal – only sentimental and precious items that drew their value from their previous owners – all family who are no longer living.

According to DeKalb County police, the intruders are suspected as being juveniles looking for game systems, flatscreen televisions, laptops, etc. that they can easily turn around and sell for $50 or less in a couple of hours.

When the burglars couldn’t put their hands quickly on anything like that in her home, they weren’t satisfied until they had basically taken every drawer out and dumped it, pulled everything out of every closet and off every shelf in the process, leaving behind a complete and total mess all over the house.

We were advised that we would be contacted by a DP detective who would handle our case, but seeing as there wasn’t a great deal stolen and no apparent clues left behind, there’s not a great deal of hope for recovering what was lost.  If we saw anything or anyone suspicious in our neighborhood, we should contact the DCPD immediately and let them know.

So, this year, we weren’t worried about whether or not we’d get all our shopping done in time or all the packages wrapped before running out of scotch tape.  We didn’t really think about whether or not the UPS tracking number was messed up, saying only, “Shipper info received” for three days with no change in location *anywhere*.

Instead it was whether or not it was even safe to leave our own home unattended for a few hours to go visit other family members and share Christmas with them.

We were finally able to relax yesterday and enjoy a pleasant Christmas Day with our children and extended family, sharing a good meal and relishing the chaos of gift-giving and package-demolition that a family with nine members creates.

Then today – another reminder that there really are individuals out there whose sole intent is to take what doesn’t belong to them only because they’re too lazy to work for it like the rest of us.

We had a young couple, male and female, come to our door this afternoon, clipboard in hand, wearing name badges with an AT&T logo in the lower right-hand corner,  saying that they were with AT&T, going door-to-door, checking with AT&T customers about their bills and whether or not they had received a reduction in monthly fees as had been reported.  (their words)

According to them, there had been a number of complaints in our area from AT&T customers that the reduction had not come through in their bills and this couple’s job was to check on the status of our satisfaction with AT &T.

One of their first questions was whether or not we have only phone service or phone and internet service.  (Shouldn’t this information already be in their system?)

When I asked if they had any identification, they both pointed to their name badges (which, coincidentally, did not have an individual picture on them – more on that later), and the young woman laughed, saying, “No, really, we’re here to help you eat up some of the leftovers from all that food you had yesterday.”

When I replied, “Well, you’re out of luck – there’s not much left”, her response was “No biggy.”  (Is this really a professional reply from a professional marketing surveyor?)

At this point, my personal radar is screaming – WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?

When they finally got to the point of asking about our billing, I used the convenient tool I always use when asked something by a marketing individual that I don’t want to answer:

“My husband handles all that.  He’s gone to the store right now (which did happen to be true), and he’ll be back in 30 minutes.”

The young woman replied, “Well, we’ll be going down the street and looping around.  We’ll be coming back by here in a little while.  If we see him, we’ll stop back by.”

When I asked where they were parked, they both gestured down the street and vaguely replied “Down there.”  (which I did look in that direction – no car was to be seen.)

As soon as they left, walking down the street, I ran inside and called my husband on his cell, telling him the story as quickly as I could.  He had been heading for the store to pick up a prescription for our son, but immediately turned around to come back and look for these people.

My daughters and I watched as the couple continued down the street and back up the other side, literally going door to door, finding very few people at home today.  (I suspect some of our neighbors were out at Stonecrest, scooping up after-Christmas bargains.)

I tried repeatedly to call 3-1-1 – the non-emergency number for DeKalb PD, but had no luck reaching anyone.  Frustrated by this, I decided to go ahead and call 9-1-1 even though it really wasn’t an emergency situation as I think of an emergency.

The 911 operator was very helpful, taking down my information and reassuring me that they’d have someone out there soon, which, amazingly enough, happened within 5 minutes or so.

In the meantime, my husband had come back and stopped this couple, standing literally in his mother’s carport at her door, and had asked for their supervisor’s name and phone number.

He was given a single name – Bruno – and a 1-866 number that our daughters googled and found to be an ATT customer service number with the full menu of options to select from that drives *all* of us crazy.

He also asked for their names – Jamie and Rusty, which they wrote down – but couldn’t really verify this with their badges as he could not see them that well outside the van.

By the time the police arrived, “Jamie” and “Rusty” had continued on up the road and around the corner on the next side street.  My husband had continued to ride around the neighborhood, keeping an eye on them, talking with AT&T on his cell, asking about ID as well, but the police somehow missed them when they left our home after speaking with me in our yard.

It became very obvious to me that not only was I unnerved by this, but our daughters and next-door neighbor as well.   All of us were on edge, wondering if these people were legit or not.

My oldest daughter had called AT&T while this was all taking place and asked them if they could tell us if they knew of anyone from their company in our area going door to door.

She was advised that if the couple was legitimately representing AT&T, they would be wearing picture  ID’s – not just name badges.  Not only that – they would not come inside the home or ask to; they are prohibited from doing that.

Other information we found out was that any representative should have a letter of authorization as well as a number to call to verify their identity business.

When David had asked for their supervisor’s name and phone number, he was given the previously mentioned name and number written on the back of a poorly photocopied sheet of various monthly plans with an ATT logo at the bottom.  No letter of authorization of any kind was shown.

In the process of riding through the neighborhood, David found a car parked on the side of the road on another side street just above our home.

As he drove by the BMW after writing down the tag number, he saw the young woman, “Jamie”,  walking up the hill to the car.  She waved and flagged him down, asking if he was following them around.

When he told her that he was just keeping an eye on the neighborhood, she told him that he’d better be careful – the police might pick him up because she had called them, telling them that a man was following them around. (The police later told us that no such call had been received.)

My sweet, gentle husband informed her that that was fine with him, and she might want to be careful, too, because we had called the police about them.

Bottom line?

We still don’t know for sure if the couple was really asking for information as representatives of AT&T or on a fishing expedition of the neighborhood homes.   By the time a second unit of the DeKalb PD came back by and talked with us, the car and couple was gone.

The police officer that spoke with us then said that he had been involved in a similar call recently in the area that did turn out to be a legitimate follow-up by a different media company.   It also involved a couple, male and female, that, because of the physical appearance of one of them, caused questions to be raised in the minds of the homeowners who were approached at the door.

He also advised us that sharing the information with our neighbors (which we did and continue to do) is the very best thing we could do to protect ourselves and our neighborhood.

In his words, “You’re out here (in the area) all the time.  We’re only here 10% of the time.   You know who belongs here and who doesn’t.  Stay alert and continue to watch out for anything or anyone suspicious and report them.  That helps us out to protect you.”

So I’m left wondering if I panicked over nothing, or did I possibly give a potential burglar cause to stop and say, “Nah, I don’t think I’ll mess with this neighborhood.  Too many busybodies.”

Was I overly sensitive to a woman who struck me as very unprofessional in her demeanor, or was she, in my husband’s words, possibly just a college student out to make a few bucks between semesters?

Was I possibly judgmental to someone who apparently has not had the benefits of education and socio-economic upbringing that I had?

I don’t know;  I cringe at the thought of that kind of bigotry.

But I do know this – I’m not going to go through another Christmas, looking over my shoulder, wondering if someone’s watching our house, plotting to break in.

My New Year’s resolution that is actually *not* for New Year’s but today, December 26th, 2008 is this – I’m going to be more proactive – notifying our neighborhood watch that successfully got the speedbreakers installed on our street not to let down their guard, but to keep eyes and ears open.

We are a community of families that just happen to reside in nearby homes who need to look out for each other just as neighbors did when I was a child.

No longer can we be content to just stay in our homes, contacting only family members and immediate friends via phone, mail, and email.  We have to reach out to those we recognize by sight here in our neighborhoods, even when we don’t know their names.   Our family’s peace of mind may depend on it.

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I am *SO* thankful for so many things this year –

for a loving husband of 34 years who fell in love with me 39 years ago and was willing to wait for me to graduate from high school and for him from college before we got married (we were friends before we were actually *interested* in each other),
for five beautiful, wonderful children and the extra-special blessing this year of a daughter-in-law who adores my son,
for an “adopted” daughter who has learned to believe in herself and also to say “I love you” and give terrific hugs,
for a sister who is a breast cancer survivor,
for a brother who is a cancer warrior just now,
for an aunt who is like no other, and we wouldn’t have her any other way (those of you who know Aunt Betty know what I mean),
for being able to stay in touch with my niece & nephew and my great-nieces through Facebook,
for renewed insurance eligibility for our daughter, Sara, (Thank You, LORD!)
for godly, loving friends who know all my faults (well, most of them) and love me anyway,
for a warm, loving, PRAYING body of believers who are willing and ready to stand in the gap for anyone in need of prayer,
for the awesome privilege of playing my flute for God’s glory each Sunday morning in the worship service at Zion,
for the joy of working with young children and their parents in my Kindermusik classes – it renews me each and every day to sing and dance with them,
for the blessing of sharing music with my piano students and instilling in them the belief that they are only limited by how self-disciplined or self-motivated they are or are not,
for the magic of teaching Simply Music to my beginning students and seeing the magic happen right before my eyes – who would ever have thought students could learn so easily and effortlessly?
for the blessing of music which weaves through my life every day from the time I get up until I lay my head down each night,
for my Lord Jesus Christ – Soli Deo Gloria!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my family and friends! May this day be filled with love, laughter, and beautiful memories that will last a lifetime!

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Spring forward – Fall Back.

I’m looking forward to that extra hour of sleep tonight!

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