Sep 272012
 

 Monks. Fall is our season of GIVING.  Don’t worry, that really means it’s our season of RECEIVING. That’s how it works. It’s all backwards and upside-down. I love fall. Let’s all fall into each other and then in the winter, relax hard.

I’d like to kick off our Monkee season of giving by offering you a gift. That gift is my beloved friend, soul sister, and fellow Monkee, Vanessa. She’s about to become your friend, too.

Here she is.

So pretty.

But wait, like each of us, she becomes more and more beautiful when you learn about her life.

Vanessa’s husband is PK, a high school principal turned grad student. PK and Vanessa have their wedding vows taped to their bedroom door and only have to remind each other about them “every week or so.”  PK and Vanessa have two biological children, Graciela –  6, and Miles – 5. They also have two foster children/ turned grown-ups –  Tre’von, 20, at NYU, and Donavan, 22, in Colorado training for the Olympics. Sharon – the devastatingly beautiful girl there on the right joined the family in her senior year of high school. She and Miles came to the family at the exact same time, so Vanessa always thought of them as “twins.” Sharon somehow passed on her talent and love for dancing to Miles, even though she was never able to teach him. Vanessa and PK supported Sharon through three years of  college and then she was killed by a truck while she waited by the side of the road. Just last week Miles told Vanessa out of the blue that Sharon “lives in his heart.”

Gracelia and Miles call Tre’von and Donavan their big brothers and Vanessa and PK love them like sons. When they went off to college Gracelia cried and announced:  I’M NEVER GOING TO COLLEGE BECAUSE WHEN YOU GO TO COLLEGE YOU DON’T COME BACK.  Vanessa says they are all missing Tre’von and Donavan terribly and that the house feels quiet (and doesn’t smell like Axe) with them gone.

It’s just a teeny glimpse into Vanessa’s life, but I hope it gives you an idea of what kind of woman I’m introducing to you today. She has been through hell, she has opened her heart to all kinds of danger and pain and unknown, and she has done what Mother Teresa suggested will save the world – she has widened and stretched and recreated the definition of “family.” Vanessa believes we are all family, and that all children are hers. I love Vanessa and I trust her. I’m trusting her with you- so you know how deep that trust runs.

Vanessa’s family has had some amazing experiences in the brutiful foster care system. They have been especially moved by the kids who “age out” of the system at eighteen and are virtually placed on the streets without resources, plans, or guidance. Without any support net. Nothing, just on their own. Right here, in this country. Many of them end up in jail, or homeless. There but for the grace of God and lots of helping hands go I.

Vanessa decided to turn all of the brutiful stories she’d lived and seen into A Story. Into one of my favorite stories ever: The Language of Flowers.  I won’t give away much, because it’s a journey each of you need to take on your own, I’ll just say that it’s the story of a girl named Victoria who has aged out of the foster system, and how she finds her way.

My favorite stories are always about women finding their way.

Turns out The Language of Flowers is a HECK of a lot of folks’ favorite story, because Vanessa’s story is now an International Best Seller, (on the list in America for 19 weeks!) has been translated into forty –one languages, and is now being made into a BIG, BIG, BIG time movie.

Also: The Language of Flowers is our new Monkee Book Club Book!!!!!

Here’s what the book looks like. I was sitting behind this lady on a plane recently and watched her pull out Vanessa’s book. I leaped up, tapped her on the shoulder and said, “Oh my Gosh! My best friend wrote that book! (I tend to exaggerate about my relationships.) Can I take a picture of you reading it????”  The lady looked at me very wary.  Then she looked over at her husband and said, “Uuum, maybe you could just shoot the book and not me?”  “Okay,” I said.

Warning- we are swerving off point for a moment.

I just think sometimes people need to be a little more excitable. I mean, my friend wrote that whole book with her own brain and heart!!! And Plane Lady, you are reading it and right at this very moment falling in love with the Victoria that Vanessa CREATED! And you and Vanesssa don’t even KNOW each other but you are sort of having this intimate meeting of the minds without even being in the same STATE! You are in the AIR, actually! And now I’M here behind you thinking about how you and Vanessa and Victoria are all connecting MAGICALLY!! This is EXCITING, LADY!! Books are MAGIC!!!

Anyway- Chase agreed that it was exciting and that books are, in fact, magic – but he told me to get my picture taken and sit back down right away. He usually knows best, so I did. And soon I had to stop taking pictures of random people reading The Language of Flowers and sending them to Vanessa because I started noticing that EVERYONE was reading the book and I was running out of batteries. Also, as Craig pointed out one day, “Vanessa probably already knows what her book looks like.”

Swerving back to the point.

As always, if you don’t have the money to buy this book- please email me and I will send you a free copy. Vanessa’s publisher graciously sent me several books just for this purpose. If you do not participate in this book club, please let it be for lack of interest or time, not for lack of money. Trust me, this book is TOO GOOD, TOO BRUTIFUL, TOO life-changing for that. Vanessa will join us online for our book club via Skype if I can ever learn how to use that crazy thing.

NOW.

Here’s the thing.

Vanessa might seem a little “different” because of all of those fancy things I just mentioned. But she’s just one of us. She’s a Monkee and she meets us here every day, and she prays for your kids when she reads about their struggles and she laughs at your comments and she cries for and with you.

Vanessa’s just a mama. Doin’ her thing. Turning her life into art and then turning her ART INTO SERVICE.

AH. AHHHHHH. Life- Art – Service. Sound familiar, Monks???  Here goes. There’s more. THERE’S MORE!!!!

We get to read the book and then we get to MAKE A DIFFERENCE for foster kids. We get to join Vanessa and her partner, Isis, as they help American kids aging out of the foster system step out onto level ground with their heads held high.

PLEASE WATCH THIS.

And then CHECK THIS OUT.

Please. Four minutes. You’ll get the chilly bumps and you’ll be AWAKENED.

In Vanessa’s words:

“We are just getting started, but already amazing things are happening.  A man in New York who runs a mediation firm just offered up a full time job with benefits AND will pay for a youth’s schooling.  He said he’d always wanted to do something for a young person in foster care but he didn’t know what to do.  See!  That is exactly what we thought!  People are generous and big hearted and GET that these are OUR kids.  They just need to know how they can help.  We are trying to create a way for every single person to be able to give what they can give (money, encouragement, opportunities) and make it safe and easy to do so.  We believe that when kids feel supported and can access opportunities, lives will change.”

 So here is what Monkees can do:

SIGN UP.  Join the movement and create a profile page.  Check out my profile here: and make yours here. IMPORTANT: when they ask you what you are known for, say being a monkee! Here’s Glennon’s profile!

BUY STUFF.  Kids are registered for what they need: computers for college, furniture for their first apartment, a crib for a new baby.  It’s like going to a baby shower for someone you don’t know, but who really, really deserves to be supported –  just like all the kids you do know.  Buy them a crib, sheets and towels, diapers.  Make it a little easier, and let them know someone cares about them. Buy, buy, buy. Meet our youth here

 SEND LOVE.  Leave messages of encouragement for kids.  You are a Monkee.  You know what it is like to get a message from someone you don’t even know that radiates love and belief. It helps.  A lot.  The internet is full of social networks but this one is safe, monitored, and specifically designed to create a place where young people can be loved and supported. 

 OFFER UP AN OPPORTUNITY.  Remember your first summer home from college, when your mom called her friend who called her friend and you got that awesome summer internship at city hall?  Let’s be those moms and mom’s friends for these kids—let’s seek out opportunities and connect young people to them. 

Thank You, Monkees, Thank You!

Love, Vanesssa and Isis

Check it all out, Monkees. Check out the you tube videos, the Camellia website, the kids, your heart. Buy the book please, and if you can’t- let me know. Fall in love with Victoria, Vanessa, and Isis and let them guide you into a deeper understanding of what’s going on with these kids, right here, right now. These are our kids. Ours.

It’s so simple. We can make such a big difference. Such a HUGE difference in this country just one teeny act of love at a time.

ALL GOD’S CHILDREN ARE OUR CHILDREN. THIS WE KNOW.

We belong to each other.

Love, G and V and I



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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  203 Responses to “I Have Never Been More Excited About A Post. Ever.”

  1. Hej glennon, do you have anymore of These books left? And can you send it to Sweden?

  2. […] of foster care and are trying to make a life afterward. I first heard of this book though the blog Momastery, one of the best online communities I know of for regular people (especially women) who want to […]

  3. […] novel and Diffenbaugh’s personal dedication to supporting foster children. Click through to read the entire […]

  4. […] thinking of bringing it on her honeymoon). Yeah, that didn’t happen for me. Instead, I read a blog post, learned about the Camilla Network (an organization supporting kids who age out of the foster […]

  5. I must give a heartfelt, genuine, tremendous thanks for this book, a beautiful gift from Libby, fellow Monkee. The generosity of you Monkees is really something. I should not be surprised, as generosity is always flowing among you — yet I am, when I’m the recipient of such kindness. I do not know if you will see this, Libby N, but if you do, I thank you. This book is amazing, it is incredible in ways that words can not describe – such a gift.

  6. […] 4. Heart Gallery is committed to finding forever homes for children who are in the foster system. And I was elated to see that Glennon from Momastery (who seems to be getting a ToT shout out every other week here!) is supporting the same cause. Check out her recent post about supporting young people who have aged out of the foster care system…. […]

  7. It’s on my bucket list to pay for a random person to go to college. I think I just figured out how to find that person. :-)

  8. Brutiful is the perfect word for this amazing book! Heading over to the registry now to see if there is someone that I might be able to help. Thanks!

  9. I checked it out of the library on Friday and neglected all other things while I read. What a wonderful book! And now I will rush it back to my library, in case there is another Monkee in my area wanting to read it!

  10. This is SUCH a great book, I’m so thrilled that you chose it for the first book club pick! Ironically, I just finished reading it, as it has been chosen as the Book of the Year by our local community college. The author is coming to speak in the spring, and now I’m even more excited as it is a combination of two good things- a great book and Momastery! The book really captured the idea of life being brutiful. I can’t imagine anyone not falling in love with the book, the characters, and the author. By the way, just wanted to remind anyone who wasn’t able to get a free copy sent that your local library will most likely have copies available for free also :)

  11. I ordered the book from Amazon. Excited for it to get here.

  12. OH G I would so love a book…please email me for my address thank you and God bless

  13. How cool is it that I bought this book at Target 4 days ago and now I see this post that it is your book club book!!! Fostering is so near to my heart as well. The hubs and I foster sweet, sweet babies age 0-1. We had a baby girl from 10 months until she was 15 months then got her and her baby sister back for about 2 months a few months later. We now have a beautiful relationship with the mama and still see those sweet girls every month. They call us Auntie Kim and Uncle Jason. What a gift and blessing it has been to come along side that mama and help her raise those babies! I am LOVING this book so far. So excited it is your book pick!

  14. I had this book on my bookshelf (because foster-parenting is dear to my heart and if current circumstances shift, will be in my future), but hadn’t yet read it. You sent me running to the shelf to grab it, but before I cracked it open, I watched the video links and signed up on Camellia and filled my shopping cart with stuff for 2 “kids.” Thanks for letting us know about this organization. What wonderful work–to address a concrete need and a deep-down emotional need all at once, while making it so easy for anyone to do.

    I did a little further reading and it looks like before they receive anything on their registry, everything on their list has to be bought? It would be good to have that info right up front so people can use their money most effectively. I’d originally thought I would buy a few small things each month as a little care package, but after reading that, decided to buy a bunch all at once instead.

    Thanks so much for finding ways we “too-busy,” “too-crazy-with-life,” “too-burdened,” too-whatever readers can finally make the difference we wanted to all along.

  15. With one click – the book is on my Kindle… Can’t wait to start reading it! :)

  16. Monkees. I’m sorry this is off topic but my grandma is just dying. Like she can be with us a couple of minutes or a a couple of hours but she might be gone before I hit send. And I can’t be there to hold her hand. And every minute I ask myself “where is she? This side or the other?” and what is in between? Which is the road she’s just travelling? Please, pray for her. She’s had a difficult life and she’s had her faults. And she’s my grandma.

  17. cant.stop.crying. thank you for posting this. this is absolutely amazing.

  18. Thank you for your generous offer to give me a book. I cannot afford to buy books and the library is one of my favorite places. However, one of the teens from my church group gave me a Barnes & Noble gift card for Christmas. I was so overwhelmed at the thought of buying a brand new book, and hi-liting all my favorite parts, that I have not been able to pick one. You helped me decide, this will be the book.
    What a gorgeous family! Yours and the authors. And mine.
    Love.

  19. G, I’m a little hurt that you were more excited about this post then this one from 2010 http://momastery.com/blog/2010/03/16/sorry-about-this-one-really-so-sorry-2/

  20. What an amazing family. I read this whole post but I’m still stuck on the part when Miles says Sharon lives in his heart. Having lost a child I know what a give those words must be to Vanessa, what an giving woman she is and I’m honored to be able to help.

  21. Hi Glenon,

    I absolutely LOVE your blog and love this post. I’ve just reserved a copy from my library.
    Forgive me for being dense and bothering you with such a simple question, but I was wondering how I can join the book club?

    Any information (from anyone) would be very much appreciated!

    Love,
    Cassie

  22. I am so excited to read this book! I have always felt that I would open my home to foster children when my kids were grown and self-sufficient! I never thought about doing it the other way around! I am so excited to have found your blog and all you monkees!

  23. “This is exciting, plane lady! Books are magic!” — love that.

    What a great story. Good for her for writing it down to share with others!

    I think books are exciting, too.

  24. Coolest app ever for smart phones is called Overdrive. You can check out Ebooks and also audiobooks from your local library as long as you have a library card. I live in a somewhat smaller town and they had this book available! Download the app it’s worth it!!

  25. I am so excited to read this post!!! I have been thinking about this for months, and looking into what happens to kids who age out of foster care. So sad! I saw all these groups on Facebook who do animal rescue and people spend so much money finding “furever” homes for these animals, which is lovely, but WHY isn’t anyone looking into those 10s of 1000s of kids who age out of foster care every year and are on their own! I am so excited, I didn’t even take time to look at the Camelia website before I wrote you a note. I can’t wait to find out how I can get involved. Glennon, I love your blog and everything that happens on this site. The honesty and grittiness. And profound beauty. Thank you. Thanks to everyone who reads this.

  26. I am inspired! What an amazing thing the Camellia Network is doing. This is an issue I had never ever thought about. I’m on a mission to spread the word. We can do this. We can help these young people! One person at a time.

  27. Foster care is something very close to my heart, I have done respite care for several years for babies and toddlers, so I can only imagine years from now these aged out youth could be my babies. I have shared this link with my friends and when my paycheck comes in some kids are getting some help from me!

  28. forgot to say, on my previous comment, I am buying a computer for one of these great kids ! Because you cared enough to tell me about this opportunity. Thank you, Glennon.

    • Becky,
      You rock! That’s great! Trying to see if we can do a group donation to get another student a computer. Hoping it works out. So glad you were able to give one.

  29. praying God blesses many, many, MANY aged out foster kids because you took the time to write this blog post, Glennon, and asking Him to bless you more and more, also! His word says whatever we do for “the least of these” we have done for Jesus, so I am thinking He is pretty happy with you right about now!

  30. Ooo use Google+ Hangout for this! I don’t think there’s a limit to the number of people who can join in!

  31. I loved this blog, and am so happy you highlighted such an inspirational woman! It makes me know that I could be doing so much more. My parents were foster parents and raised two teenagers after my brother and I had grown up. My mom made such a difference and I was dismayed to learn a lot about our foster system. Thank you so much for sharing and introducing me to a new “must read”! I will share with my readers too. Warmly, Erin

  32. I LOVED this book! I was just talking about it with a friend at dinner tonight and I could barely resist telling her the whole story. I laughed, I cried, and just rejoiced at such a beautiful novel. When I saw the first picture in this post, I knew Vanessa looked familiar.

    Thanks so much for the links to how I can help foster children. I can’t wait to help!

  33. Just bought a laptop case for one of the kids and I feel great! This is such a wonderful foundation. Thanks for letting us know about it.

  34. Glennon, I just emailed this thought to Camilia Network. It looks like the laptops and netbooks go unfilled because of the cost. Is there a way on the website to have multiple people contribute smaller amounts to the bigger ticket items.. like in your flash mobs.. and I just don’t see it? Or if there isn’t.. there ought to be and those wishes will be fulfilled lickety split by your Monkees.

    • Yes! I was looking for a way to do that also! I can’t afford the full cost, but would love to contribute towards these big items. I can’t imagine going through college without a computer!

    • Jane and Julia,
      I just posted about this on this recent fb thread http://www.facebook.com/momastery/posts/10151189176949710
      If you are on fb, please check it out. I’m hoping a bunch of us could
      go in on a computer like you were suggesting. I decided to donate to
      MonkeeSeeMonkeeDo with a comment earmarking my donation for that.
      I think we could pull this off without even having to have Glennon send out a formal “flash mob” post.
      I hope you see this reply or my comment on fb and I hope we (Momastery) buy a computer together or maybe a couple :-)

  35. This Yom Kipper the Rabbi’s speech was all about fear and change and how we all fear change. His story was a beautiful one about a boy who was walking alone on the beach and he saw a ton of starfish on the beach that were stranded from the receding tide. Each starfish would end up dying soon without water. As he walked- one by one he would grab a starfish and toss it back into the ocean so it would not die from lack of water. An older man saw the boy doing this and walked up to the boy and asked him why he was doing this job of tossing the starfish in the water. With that the boy explained that he was saving the starfish from dying and in order to live the starfish needed to be back in the ocean. The man said…..”.little boy…look ahead of you……this beach goes on and on and on……you cant possible save all of the starfish..you will never make a difference, there are millions of starfish on this beach” With that the little boy kept walking and stopped to pick up a starfish and tossed in far into the ocean..and turned to the man and said..”I just did-for this one!” Your friend is that little boy! What a beautiful person…and she is saving one starfish at a time…. xoxox Stacey

  36. Glennon, this post reminds of a character in books my daughters loved when they were little. The character was Junie B and she had the same enthusiasm for life that you do. Loved her, love you…I am supposed to be reading another book for my book club. Now, I am about to order this book and read it first. It seems way more important! Cant wait to look at the website.

    • That’s so bizarre! I was thinking about how much
      Glennon reminded me of Junie B in this post also!
      Great minds think alike ;-)
      P.S. love this new opportunity to stretch my heart

  37. Mission accomplished, Oh Great Monkee!! Have met up with a great kid, Jose, over at the Registry and was able to get a few things for him! Thankful you have hooked me/us up to this wonderfully worthwhile cause! These kids are amazing and so deserving of our love and support!

  38. […] Read Glennon’s fancy, photographic invitation here. […]

  39. I loved this book so much I wanted it to be a part of me. Seriously. After each chapter I had to stop and soak in all that had just happened. I never wanted it to end.

    I helped with a foster child project last month and copies of this book were given to volunteers. Best. gift. ever.

    • Andee Z,
      Are you familiar with CASA? It stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. They are “Guardian Ad Litems” for foster children. A GAL is just a fancy name for someone who has been trained to advocate for the best interest of a child going through the foster care system. I have no background in law or social work, but I have been a GAL for the last year and have already really helped three children. I would encourage you to look into a CASA program where you live. The book can be a part of you!!

  40. May I have one. I can’t afford to buy it but I would love to read it. I work with a multitude of children in the foster care system and would love to have that perspective. Thank you.

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