Monday, May 31, 2010

Today's Gratitude Comes Easy

It's Memorial Day. I bet that is why you think my gratitude comes easy. Well sure I am grateful for those who served so I can have what I have and that is about all I will say about that. I have some pretty controversial ideas about Memorial Day. I will keep them to myself other than if you have a parade businesses and political groups should watch from the sidelines and leave it to our troops and rescue squads.

My mother got a call from her manfriend today, that was not out of the norm. I heard her answer and I heard an "OH NO we'll pray call me back." So of course I asked what was wrong. His grandson had been in an accident and they thought he wouldn't make it. Three phone calls later his 10 year old grandson has died as the result of a freakish boating accident. I can not imagine this on any level. I will not even attempt to find words of comfort.

What I did do was hold my daughter just a little bit closer as to not take her for granted. I "swam" with her for hours in her little baby pool. Tonight when she won't go to sleep on her own and I have to hold her. I am going to hold her a little closer and a little longer. The next time I see my nephews who are all fairly close in age to this boy... you better believe I am going to hug them just a little tighter. Same goes for the nieces.

May God quiet the hearts of the grieving long enough to fill those hearts with love.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Frustrated and Trying Hard to find the Gratitude

So I have a whole list of things that I could write about this afternoon. However I want this blog to be honest. I really want to be transparent in my quest for gratitude. That being said I will share with you a very frustrating experience this morning. I had to be in church early to do some tech work. Knowing that technology can be finicky I went over to the church Thursday evening and tested absolutely everything out. Upon arriving early this morning I tested it all out again. I worked around all sorts of settings to prevent my computer from taking a nap during the sermon. I reset the volume levels. I went to the back of the church where Paul was setting up the camera and microphones for our guest preachers.

The baby fell asleep on Paul and for the first time in a long time we had a peaceful church experience. The taping went pretty smoothly. Then it was time to show a video. Screen down. Check. Projector on. It took a little work but check. Computer ready to go. Check. Press play. FAIL. There on the screen was the video split in half with a big black bar down the middle. The left on the right and the right on the left the bottom is missing. There is nothing I can do it was more audio than video. I have never ever seen this happen. In all of my fighting with the computer and projector over the years I have never had it split and multiply like that. So basically it was an EPIC FAIL in front of the whole church. Everyone involved was incredibly gracious about it.

I however was angry because after taking all that time to practice it still went wrong. There are things I can be grateful for in this whole scene. The camera worked well, the baby slept. Still though this technological malfunction has got my goat. I am finding it very difficult to be grateful for technology right now. Even though it is the same computer I am typing this blog on that freaked out.

I guess all in all I can be very grateful that all involved were indeed very gracious about it all. Even if I am no less frustrated.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Yard

I am nearly 30. I live in my mom's house. Many of my friends are nearing 30 as well if they aren't already there. Many of them live with family or share a house or still rent places. It seems that for the most part none of us own houses (there are a few). I think there are many reasons for this. The not so great economic time is part of that reason. I will be the first to tell you though that we aren't what you would call rolling in the dough. It seems our generation is in this stuck place where it seems impossible to get ahead at times. With the current climate in finance I am not sure any of us will be able to give our kids a house.

So I am married with a baby, a dog and a cat and the whole lot of us lives in a house with my mother and occasionally random other family members. It gets incredibly frustrating. I feel like a looser when people figure out I still live with my mom. It is like you are getting no where fast. I have these moments where I long for my own place on a large piece of land in the middle of no where. Sometimes I even get down right angry that I don't have that place yet. I say I live like a glorified teenager.

By the way I am VERY GRATEFUL to have a mom who is gracious enough to keep us and a very nice house to live in. It even has ammenities like Cable TV, a dishwasher, heat, hot water, electricity, running water even. I could go on and on.

However there is something I do have, a yard. A decent size yard with a fence at that. So while we live here sharing space and all that, we have a safe place for the pooch to play outside and now that she is getting bigger a safe place for our baby to play outside. Yesterday we purchased a swing set and one of those baby swings to go with it (for her birthday). So yeah it's not her birthday yet but she doesn't know that. She will get use out of it for the whole summer. We bought it early because a sale combine with a coupon saved us a lot of cash.

So the long and short of it is that I am grateful to be able to give her a yard with a swing set to play in. I am grateful that she has her own room full of her things. I am grateful that not always having a whole lot of money has taught me to really know the value of a dollar which in turn has taught me to be a patient and careful shopper. In the end even our less than ideal living situation has a sunny side!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Uncontrolable, Tears. of. Joy.

If you know me you know that I have been passionate about change in Africa since shortly after I was married in 2004. If you don't know me, now you know. My heart was pulled to the plight of African children orphaned by the AIDS crisis. Then I learned of LRA and then the genocide in Darfur. Then I traveled to Burundi where I met the Batwa people. In Uganda I met the street children and orphans. I met amazing people all along the way that are there fighting for their kids and people. I met people who honestly asked for help. I heard their stories in person.

I support a few groups who are working toward the end of all of these things. I send letters and what not. I pray. This morning I received and e-mail from The Invisible Children. Through their hard work and many other groups hard work a bill has been signed. It is the LRA disarmament bill. As I read the little story they posted on their blog I cried uncontrollable tears of joy.

I watched their movie a few years ago. While I watched it I wept. The most amazing thin though is they didn't stop at their film. The have been lobbying ever since making their film. They have recruited people from all over to help get their voice heard. I am absolutely amazed by their dedication and sheer will to get this done.

I know in my heart that this has been a long process and still is just a start. Signing and action are two very different things.

I am forever grateful to the trail blazers who take on seemingly impossible tasks and refuse to give up. I am inspired. I am in awe. I send my sincerest congrats to the folks at The Invisible Children.

Let my prayer today be one of gratitude for inspiration. One of gratitude for hard work for human rights. One of gratitude to be able to see a glimmer of the good in the world. Amen.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Getting Stopped by Strangers

Note This was written on March 17, 2010.

When I have my baby girl out and about we almost always get stopped and asked questions. We get so many comments on her big eyes. Yesterday feeling adventurous I walked to our local food store. It was really nice out and it’s probably not even a mile to get there. Much easier to just push the stroller there than drive and either wrestle a shopping cart and the shopping cart cover or the stroller out of the trunk. So off we went and low and behold there were the buses. Every once in a while the buses are there when I am there. They bus in older folks who live in one of what seems like endless retirement communities around here. I dread seeing the busses because I know it means the food store will be full of older folks who are moving slowly and blocking the aisles to chit chat with their neighbors. Add to that stopping me and Lilia because they just have to talk to babies. That’s the other thing I noticed older people really love talking to her both men and women. So I begrudgingly walked into the store prepared for this. Praying that I could get everything I needed within the time she would be happy and not fussing.

So off we went and we didn’t make it through produce without getting stopped. By the time we landed in the spice aisle someone out right touched her and I cringed! At least it was just the bib this time and not her hands or face. She was only called a boy once also an improvement over our last excursion in the stroller. So I started thinking about it all the stopping and why people do it, especially older people. My daughter and these folks are at the precise opposite ends of the spectrum of life. Maybe that’s why they all love my little Lilia so much because she is new fresh life untainted by the pains of the world thus far. I find myself at times annoyed by being forced to slow down and chat politely with people I don’t know. I do it though. I noticed yesterday that many of them were shopping for one… you can tell by the contents of their carts… just the top part full of things for one person. I started thinking what a lonely life it must be to eat all your meals alone. I rarely eat a meal alone. People eating alone in restaurants always make me sad. So I decided this is one of those things I can be grateful for; being stopped because I have a baby. A beautiful baby who merely smiles and brings piles of joy to the people we have never before met. So if I have to stop to talk with some older woman about my baby I will because I can see the joy on her face looking at my Lilia. I know she will probably go home to a quiet house filled with only the noise of appliances and television and eat her meager dinner. God gave me this beautiful blessing that fills me with JOY why should I be selfish and keep her all to myself? I am going to share the joy! Thank you Lord for letting me be blessed by the sharing of JOY!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sharing My Joy

It was that line of thinking about being grateful for my daughter that made me understand why I more often than not dislike hanging around with women. They complain about how terrible their kids are, how it sucks to cook and chauffeur the kids around (please forgive this generalization). I instinctively try to be grateful. This Lent I decided to curb my facebook habit and take up purposeful writing in its place. I love to write. I had no idea what I would write about. Then as I sat in a women’s meet up I realized how I felt but more importantly why I felt that way. I am the girl that says I am thankful to have food to put on my table… wait then again I am thankful to have a table… oh and then there is the house around the table… the heat in the house… the running water. You see where I am going? That’s when it hit me… I find joy in being grateful for what I do have. Why keep this joy to myself? Why not share what I have found?

How did I find it?

Well life has changed me over time but more so God has changed me through my experiences. When I was in second grade my father (and provider) became seriously ill and ended up disabled. My mom’s part time job could not sustain us. We went quickly from living a privileged life to one of surplus government food. I can remember getting made fun of for having off brand Oreo cookies in grade school. We didn’t have much but we were happy.

I grew up and I focused all my energy on having money and things. Then I really found God, in case you are wondering it took several tries. My heart changed. I learned that I was rich by the standards of many.

Then I went to Africa. I will never see the world the same again. I came back and went to my favorite store Target and was paralyzed at the prospect of spending money on such frivolous things. I started shaking, I felt completely overwhelmed and paralyzed, my eyes welled up. Then my husband did the unthinkable… he gave me a shopping pep talk. A few months before I left Caleb my friend from Uganda was here in the states and I told him my house was small as we drove past it. Then I saw the houses in Africa. Wow I felt like an ass. Lucky for me Caleb's kind heart was gracious and didn't judge me for what I couldn't know. When I am tired of cooking I can remember the children I met that ate beans or rice at every meal, everyday and were grateful to just have food. Certainly I could be grateful.

I am grateful that every night I have the privilege of cooking for my family a meal that is full of variety, flavor and nutrition.

OK if you know me you are thinking Becca you love to cook it can hardly be hard to be grateful for something you like doing. I encourage you to keep reading as the posts come because I have found ways to be grateful for the things I dislike too. For the record, there are days when I dread cooking.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


So the idea for this project (for lack of a better word) is to see if I could be intentionally grateful. I find that when I am in a group of women who intend on doing anything from catching up to some sort of service project the conversation ultimately ends up turning to complaints about how hard we have it as women. I will be the first to admit that I have rough days where I want to rip my hair out; sometimes they even end in tears. Sometimes I think this isn’t what I thought life would be like. I find ways though to push past it. I tend to like to stay positive, this doesn’t mean I never have a negative moment, I certainly do have them, I just try to spin them into something positive. Actually I think sometimes I am a little over the top with my optimism. I think it annoys people when they are really bummed out and I am looking for the good in the situation. It is what comes natural to me.

If you intend to come along on this journey with me there are some things you need to know. I am Christian so I attribute much of this gratitude to God. Please don't let God and my faith scare you away give me a chance. I promise my goal is not to convert you just to share with you.

Then there is a story you need to know. When I found out I was expecting my daughter it was an answered prayer through and through. A few months after getting married I was diagnosed with a hormone disorder; one that often makes it difficult for women to have children even with fertility treatment. So my husband and I sat down and had a long talk about our future as a family because we knew we wanted to raise children together.So we talked about this at length because we weren’t ready to start a family at that moment. I was still working on my education and life in general was very unsettled. Here is what we decided, it was up to God. We knew we would eventually try to conceive the old fashioned way. We might consider some medications.We were not sold on the idea of fertility treatments beyond that. They are expensive for starters and we saw that there are so many children in the world that need someone to love them and a safe, stable home. So ultimately we thought we would likely adopt our children. Then life settled down and we made a decision to not stop pregnancy from happening. If we were getting our loving on we weren’t going to do a thing to stop a natural pregnancy from happening. We prayed together (something we rarely do aside from meal times) and said God it’s your will not ours. We weren’t in the best place in life to have a baby but we knew it could be time consuming and if we were really handing it over to God and his plan that we would adjust and survive. So off we went ready to embrace what God had in store for us.

There were a few months where we both thought I was pregnant that ultimately lead to disappointment. I watched lots of people around me have babies and I started feeling left out, jealous and insufficient because it seemed I couldn’t. Exactly what I expected and FEARED was happening. I started getting a little angry with God’s plan. Why God why would you make my gift working with children and not let me have my own. I wanted to experience pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and all that goes with it. I knew I could love a child that didn’t come of my womb but I wanted so badly to experience that. So after a year of disappointment we committed to a year of actually trying to have a baby. This meant our love now had a schedule of every other day. About two weeks in I was sick as a dog, my breasts were so swollen it hurt to hug people. We were both pretty sure that baby was on the way. Then 4 days early my cycle started.

Christmas was coming and I was exhausted. I didn't think much of it, it is after all a tiring time of year. I started to feel sick every once in a while but I didn't think much of that either, I figured stress was doing it. Then my cycle didn't start. So now I thought about it. After a week I begrudgingly bought another pregnancy test ready for the disappointment. I did what I had to do and put it on the floor in front of the toilet while I cleaned up. There it was that second line, two little pink lines. Holy hoping snot I am pregnant. I did a silent happy dance around the bathroom. I packaged it all back up and hid it under the sink. I walked out casually and ate half my lunch with Paul. I was too excited to finish. Then I told him I had to work on a Christmas project to not come into the room I was in. I wrapped that test in a zip lock baggie, placed it in a little bracelet box and wrote in the top our Christmas miracle coming August 2009. Then I wrapped the whole package up with ribbon and all and stuck it in the stocking next to his desk in our office. I sat down at my desk and waited for him to find it. He did and said can I open this now. I said sure if you want. So he did and I watched his face. We did a happy dance together. God had answered our prayers for a baby. Just one baby of our own. It was the start of many prayers for our baby. Four months later we danced again as we learned we were having a little girl. Then finally after a full day of labor and the c-section from hell… we had her… an answer to our prayers in our arms.

So on those days when the little miss is fussy and unhappy no matter what I do and I can’t shower and she won’t sleep and I start thinking motherhood sucks. I force myself to remember that she is an answer to my prayers, our prayers and how incredibly blessed I am to have this chance to be a mother. I have to thank God that I have a beautiful healthy baby girl that I have the means to take care of. It doesn’t always help sometimes I still just want to cry but it does give me perspective.

After all I have exactly what I asked for.