Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Keep the nail driven

This entry is just as much for me as you. 

This is the time of year when Leaders report they aren't returning for another year of scouts. They are done. They are moving on to other things. They are sick of dealing with the parents. They are tired of dealing with disrespectful little girls. They need a little time away, but they plan to return. I can't say I blame them. Believe me, I've been there. 

But, I also have this personality flaw which compels me to be invested in tomorrow's youth. I'm not saying that makes me a better person. I'm just saying that is where I am right now with it all. It probably is a derivative of a former role as a youth minister. I left that role because of a failed marriage and 25 young people lost someone that truly did and does love them dearly. I think about each of them just about every day and wonder what might have been. I wonder if my short presence in their lives made a difference. I wonder if my leaving made a bigger impression than anything I did. I'm still friends with a few on Facebook and truly rejoice with them and the lives they have built. 

I'd like to share with you a story of a nail and wooden post. This is my rendition of a sermon I heard, applied to every day life. I think about this quite often, especially when I'm struggling to continue on.

Have you ever driven a nail into a wooden post? The nail penetrates into the wood and grabs hold. You can hang a lot of weight on it and it doesn't budge. It supports a lot more weight than it weighs, too. That nail represents you. All the weight on the nail are the people counting on you to support them. To hold firm and be there. 

Now, envision yourself pulling that nail from the wooden post and lying it down. Everything that was being supported also falls. Yes, they can find another nail. But, it's a struggle to find a good solid nail to hang from. The post is left with a hole. It will forever be affected by your nail. Sure, you can find another nail to fill the hole, but the post remembers your nail. 

After a while, you pick up your nail and push it back in to the same hole. You return to that former passion and life. You may or may not get the same things to hang from it, but your nail in the same hole will never be able to hold as much weight. It just isn't as strong. It will never support as much as when you drove it in to the post the first time. 

This seems pretty sad, doesn't it? It makes you think why even try to return to something you care about, if it will never be the same. We all walk away from things. We all need a break. When we return, we can't just assume going back to the same place will give us the same results (or even worse, it will and we'll soon want to leave again). If this is you and you want to come back.. pick up your hammer and drive that nail a little deeper into the post.  Find a way to become excited and passionate again. Think long and hard about what makes you happy and where you feel you are the best fit. There are so many ways to be involved. 

Yes, it would be great if we could all drive our nail and leave it there. Never to remove it. But, the fact is those permanent nails are very rare to find. It takes a special nail to be able to remain driven in the post. They are amazing and should be celebrated. 

The past month has been very trying for me. I've considered changing things up and giving things up. But, when it comes to scouts... I remember a conversation I had with my Dad about a year ago in a hospital room. He told me he admired me. He admired how I gave my time and love to help other people's kids. He said he was sure it was hard and was sure I was putting a lot of my own financial support into it. But, he told me he knew I was making a difference. I hope I am. I was blessed with great parents and I realize not every child has that blessing. So, if all my time and energy are given to provide a good experience for one... it's worth it. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Girl Scouts Is Family

The past couple weeks have been very trying for me. My family suffered a great loss. My Daddy battled cancer for 6 years and did everything he could do to win. The fact is that cancer is a disease that takes the toll on everyone it touches. The treatments are often as bad as the cancer itself, too. 

I watched my parents go through this battle together. I watched my Dad lose weight, lose his appetite, lose the ability to swallow for 7 months, and lose his strength. It's hard to see the man who was always your hero and always so strong and able to do anything wither away... with tears his eyes when walking across the room is a struggle. I watched my Mom help him with simple daily tasks and continue to be strong and smile and encourage him to fight. 

They were married in 1959. They raised 3 children, of which I'm the youngest by 14 years. My Mom will tell you I was a blessing... not a surprise. They have 5 amazing grandchildren, one who left this earth in 2001 and as a woman of faith I fully believe that my Dad and niece are rejoicing to be together again in Heaven. She was an amazing young woman ripped from our lives way too soon at the hands of a crime which makes no sense. 

I'm sure you are hoping I get to the point. I'll get there.. but there is a lot on my mind. 

When I first started Girl Scouts as a leader 5 years ago, I had moved an hour away from my family and friends. I had started a new job working from home and hadn't really established a lot of friends in my new town. I remember going to the first leader meeting scared to death no one would like me, accept me, or speak to me. Much to my surprise, I was greeted at the door and had several people talking with me and helping me out. Over the years, those ladies and I have established a close bond... one I hadn't really thought of until this past weekend. We don't really get together much outside of scouting activities (though we try!) and we don't get on the phone and chit chat like teenage girls. But, we are supportive and genuine... genuine friendships are really hard to find. We share a common desire to help the future generation and try our best to make sure our young ladies know they can do anything.

I don't think I fully understood how genuine and how wonderful of friends I had because of Girl Scouts until this last weekend. I was surrounded by family, but feeling so alone. My Dad passed away June 4th. My niece was married June 6th. My Mom had planned to do my niece's wedding cake, but I stepped up for that so my Mom didn't have to think about that while her husband of 55 years was passing away. My husband and I had also agreed to take the photos for my niece's wedding. My Dad's funeral was June 7th. So, it was a busy few days. By the time I got to the funeral, I was beyond wiped out emotionally and physically.

I never expected to see any of my Girl Scout friends walk in the door of the funeral home, but 4 of them did and they brought messages from others that couldn't be there. Though, now thinking about it, knowing these ladies it doesn't surprise me at all. Even then, I expected they would say hello, express sympathy, and walk away. But, they didn't. They stayed. They stayed for the service. They went to the cemetery. They joined my family at the church for dinner after. As I sat there with those wonderful ladies, I thought to myself... this is what Girl Scouts is. It's a family away from your family. It's a network of people that care about each other. It's support and friendship when you need it most. Yes, it's fun and it joyous occasions and good times... but it's also for the bad times. It's when you need someone to be there even when you didn't realize you needed them so badly. 

I am forever grateful and honored to be part of such a group. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

IPs aka Interest Project Programs

IPs are sort of a thing of the past, I guess. But, there are still some out there and your girls can work on them. You should check with your Council to make sure it's cool to wear them on the front of the uniform. Thankfully, my Council is cool about it and my girls will wear theirs on the front with all the other things they worked hard to earn. 

I had mentioned the Summer Patch Programs that my Daisy's and Cadettes are working on this summer, but I thought I should talk about the other things I'm stockpiling for my girls. Our Cadette troop is very interested in earning every badge GS-USA offers. The sad fact is, we are probalby going to be through those faster than 3 years and then what? We could just have fun and there is nothing wrong with that! But, I know my girls and I know they want to be working and earning something. 

I have joined a group "Artistry to Stitch About" on Facebook. They are bringing back/recreating some old IPs and coming up with Interest Patches based on modern things like Harry Potter and Divergent. Oh, yeah. That cool! They have dates for ordering the patches and requirements to earn them. Most of them are for all levels and depending on the level you complete a certain number of items. 

The other cool thing about these are that once you get to Cadette level, they are just like the old IPs in that you can earn them anytime between 6th and 12th grade. So, if we don't get them done as Cadettes, we can work on them as Seniors or Ambassadors. Woo hoo!!

In my stash for the Cadettes are IPs for:
* Divergent series
* Harry Potter
* Doctor Who
* Hunger Games
* Fault in our Stars
* Caving
* Going Batty 
* Spa Day
* Camping
* Cake Decorating

Sounds like a lot of great meetings coming up soon, huh?