Of Flamingos and Birthday Clowns (Long Entry!)
Some of you know me as my alter ego, The Birthday Bandit™. The Birthday Bandit™ has a reputation for having a fondness for Pink Flamingos, and thus has been the delighted recipient of many very lovely pink flamingo gifts from her beloved friends who are really much too kind to her.
This week, I am going to help us all "Think Spring" by sharing some pictures of my flamingos with this blog. But first, I have a prayer request.
The first origins of The Birthday Bandit Ministry were this: I have seen some hard times in my 42 years, the worst of them in my teens and early twenties. Many years found me dreading my birthday. I mean, I have been chronically ill in a fairly big way since shortly after my 16th birthday in 1980. But my illness (CFS, now called ME/CFS - the researchers have changed the name) had a childhood onset.
Anyway, as a teen and a young adult, I was not able to achieve the goals that some people in authority over me wanted for me, and that in fact I thought I wanted for myself. I was too sick to take many college courses, and even though I earned "A's" in the courses I took, I had to settle for grades of "C's" because of the numerous days of class I missed due to illness. I was so ill I had to quit. And I was not willing to settle for "C's being on my record.
Long story short, illness prevented me from acquiring a college degree, moving into a big time career (I was being primed for Law School; I am now thrilled that I never made that goal!), marrying and having children. Note: I am not ruling out someday getting married and adopting children; God's timing is perfect and exquisite.
Anyway, these were bitter pills to swallow for a young person full of dreams, ideals, and a zest for learning and living. Add to this that until the past few years, most doctors didn't even think this was a real illness! Most of my family and friends didn't understand. They've come around since then. In the meantime, my email friends from Ragamuffin and Tatterdemalion and the St. Therese group have been my constant cheerleaders. And... so has my dad, who also has CFS.
So, I felt like a "failure" for many years. I hated my birthday because each new birthday meant it was another year "that I didn't amount to anything".
But Jesus intervened and got me involved in the prayer group (I am a Catholic Charismatic) and the Holy Spirit loved (and continues to love) some sense into me - that I am a child of God, that I am loved, that I am special, and that God has a purpose for my life.
So many people feel like failures. So many people feel obscure, unknown, unappreciated, UNLOVED.
So many people hate their birthdays.
So, once I got online in 1998, I began my very small "ministry" as The Birthday Bandit, spreading birthday cheer and sending encouraging birthday e-cards. I did pretty well at it for awhile, but alas, I've grown slack the past couple of years.
While I truly LOVE email Birthday Banditeering, I have a bigger dream.
There is an extensive children's hospital in my city. St. Joseph's Children's Hospital.
There is also a fairly large "regular" hospital in my city. St. Joseph's Hospital.
There is also a county mental institution in my city. Norwood.
My dream is to take some kind of clown lessons, make a really hilarious costume, get props, write Birthday Carols, learn more jokes, and volunteer as a Birthday Clown.
Think of the poor children in the children's hospital. The terminal ones especially who will be on this earth for only a few short years. Somewhere in their sweet, suffering minds, they've got to be wondering if the world will know they were ever alive? And were special? And made a difference for good?
And these children's parent's - don't they need a little levity, to see someone make their sick child smile?
Think of the children's ward scenes in Robin Williams' movie Patch Adams. The movie producers used children who really had cancer in that movie. Did ya see how those kids lit up for Patch Adamses clowning? Man, I want to do that!
And then the people of all ages in the "regular" hospital. Cancer. Heart attacks. Etc. How would you like to spend your birthday so sick in the hospital? Maybe they too wonder if they ever brought a moment of joy or goodness to this world.
I'm not so sure about the county mental hospital! I am enough of a nut! I can see the doctors thinking that they need to give me a hypodermic and put a straightjacket on me! LOL!
Anyway, I want to do whatever I can as the Birthday Bandit to let people know that they matter! That their being here on this planet has made a difference for good! That they are special, precious, beautiful, loveable, enjoyable, and most of all that Jesus loves them.
Please offer a little two second prayer for me that WHEN it is God's timing to heal me of CFS - whether by medicine or prayer or both - that I will get to see my dream come true of being a Volunteer Birthday Clown. And that I will have the courage to really go through with it.
Thanks for even a two second prayer. If any of my readers have any suggestions how I can begin to go about learning how to be a clown, etc. I am all ears. If you don't want to leave a comment on my blog, then please message me through the Xanga system. Thank you kindly.