26.6.09

7 Quick Takes


1. Did I ever tell you I once went to Micheal Jackson's house in Los Olivos, or whatever little town that was? It was on the way home after the year I spent as a nomad with 5 other girls and sleeping on floors, feeding homeless people and praying and whatnot. We stopped at the Getty Museum on the way home too for the artists and art lovers among us. One of our number, still a dear friend, and a big Micheal Jackson fan, felt very strongly that she needed to tell Micheal that Jesus loved him. We never went inside of course. We couldn't even see the house from the gate, where the security guard would neither confirm, nor deny, that is was MJ's house. But we sat on top of our big white van and prayed for him as she wrote him the sweetest letter and put it in the mailbox. (The guard wasn't allowed to take it, but we saw him go and take it out after she put it in.)
I find myself wondering today if he ever got that letter, if it ever made a difference. Unlike the love of fans, it was at least one voice telling him that there is a love unlike any other, perfect and complete for him and for all of us. And we don't have to do anything to earn it, we are accepted as we are. I hope he trusted that, before the end.

2. I am reading A Mother's Rule of Life right now, and enjoying it thoroughly. My follow through in implementing some of the ideas quite frankly, sucks, but I know there is truth in it. The main thought that I'm carrying away from it right now is what a difference it could make if I found a few moments at the beginning of the day to pray for each of my children. How would that affect our daily interactions if I had from the outset brought their hearts and minds before God in prayer? HOW would it affect my perspective?

3. My exercise regime has until now consisted of walking up and down a full flight of stairs for 15 minutes fast. On alternating days I give my thighs a rest and walk around our apartment building for 15 minutes using hands weights. There is a beautiful state of the art work out room in our community. I have yet to use it because taking three small children in is prohibited, and they are too small to swim alone as I watch from inside through the glass. The stairs are right outside my front door, and I can keep an eye on things as they do their morning jobs inside the house. But I got restless, I heard about the #shredheads on twitter. I ordered the 30 day shred. And now my knees don't work. I tried it for one day, and after the second round of jumping jacks when my knee cap moved sideways in an alarming fashion I quit, and headed outside again for my stairs. Except... no. My knees are gimping out on the stairs now too. I'm trying some knee strengthening exercises, but today it gave 3 times at the 11 minute mark and I had to stop and just walk instead. So thanks Jillian, I am neither able to do your workout, nor my old faithful one. If I never lose this 10 pounds I can now blame you.

4. My oft neglected food blog, the real food revolution, has a new contributor. So I guess it's not just my blog anymore. I'm excited at the idea of collaberating on this. Working with others always inspires me. Go check it out.

5. We are still getting more sponsors and donations. The goal of 80 is still far, but creeping closer. Thank-you, everyone who has helped to share about the need and spread the word. You have helped to change things for 40 kids whose lives have been terribly upended, and give them a home, and a chance.

6. Next month I am making a wedding cake. It was the GH's idea. My girls are also flower girls. So on July 19 I will be icing and decorating a tiered wedding cake, and putting hair up in rags so it curls, and getting people dressed, and trying to not appear too frazzled by the time the ceremony begins. But it's good to be able to do something for a family that we love, and who have been so unfailingly generous toward us for a very long time. That new logo for The Charis Project up above was designed by the bride to be.

7. I read A Fourfold Franciscan Blessing at Ekklesia Journey the other day. It's not what you might expect a blessing to be perhaps. But it is the exact sort of blessing that many of us need. Go have a read.

More 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

24.6.09

Little things

There's the return of a monthly cycle, and the sight of blood again for the first time since I miscarried Shiloh.

There's the wonderful joyful news that my little sister just gave birth to a baby girl, at home in her birthing pool.

There's the hard hard wall of a husband who still thinks, as I would agree if I were rational, that trying on purpose to get pregnant this year is foolish. Not forever, just for right now. But oh how I want to. I had hoped...

There are the insurance papers I keep putting off filling out.

There are hormones, and exhaustion.

There are the little reminders every where. "Your baby is gone," they shout. "No tiny bodies and downy soft heads in your immediate future."

And I start to sink into self pity, in addition to the sadness.

I've been trying to stay on top of this. I exercise every day, eat properly, don't get adequate sleep however, and these past 4 days have been too much for me. My eyes leak tears constantly as I go through the motions of keeping family and house in order.

I don't know how to heal from this part, this part of longing for a child I will never get to hold. My heart has been opened, and now lies empty, stumbling along, trying to figure out what to do now.

There are blessings all around me. And I'm not oblivious to them. I have laughed, I have enjoyed my children, my life. But that doesn't mean the tears won't fall again seconds later.

Today my MIL has my children. Today I slept for more than 3 hours in the middle of the day.

I know it will get better eventually. Time will do it's work, the pain will be less fresh. But for just today, I'm simply stumbling through.

18.6.09

My Girl

She is laying there, in her new bottom bunk bed, wall scattered with stars and flowers, and fake gemstones behind her. Tears streak her freckled skin, make her eyes more brilliantly blue, make me notice her cheek bones, how thin she is. My eyes move to her collar bone showing against her pink shirt. She is the picture of All American Beauty, tousled blond hair, golden skin, adorable nose, pink puffy skirt.

"Is she too thin?" I wonder again. Two weeks of illness plus however many months of parasites before then. And she eats like a bird.

Dark circles are under her eyes, awake too early again this morning. She has gotten out of bed during quiet time, again. We reset the timer for another hour. "Why won't she just sleep? She needs it so much."

"I can't lay down this long," she wails. So impatient, so full of ideas. "Will you lay down with me?"

It's been a month since she moved into this room from mine. A month since I lay next to her and held her until she fell asleep. Truthfully, she doesn't usually need a nap anymore. Quiet time is now my chance to get a break, and hers to learn to entertain herself. But today she needs sleep.

I lay down beside her in the too big bed. Forehead to forehead we lay as she continues to sob. She feels things so deeply this girl of mine. She has no means of discerning between her hurt feelings and the reality behind them.

I rub her back like I used to. Humming the song I made up just for her. Slowly her body surrenders to exhaustion and she lies still, breathing deeply, face at rest. Then I let my own tears flow, dropping silently onto her hair. How much longer will she let me do this, be close to her like this? How do I mother this sunny, impetuous, never resting, beautiful child?

I gently kiss her forehead and dry my eyes before getting up to go on with my day, leaving my heart resting with a tiny little form laying in a too big bed in the big kid room.

17.6.09

Dear California Drivers

I get it. The last time you walked anywhere was 20 years ago. You slide into your car just to go to the store on the corner. Why would anyone walk all the way over to a place they can see from their house? It's a car culture. I understand.

So of course it doesn't EVER occur to you that there may be pedestrians on the little roadways where you navigate your vehicle. FYI, pedestrians are people who get from place to place by WALKING! Shocking, I know. They also sometimes cross the street, where you are making a left hand turn.

I know you are completely unaware of this fact for you never, ever look to the right when turning left to check for them. You don't think they exist. They could be less than 2 feet from the nose of your car in the cross walk with 3 children in tow and you would still be oblivious to their presence. They might be yelling and waving their hands even, but you in your sporty BMW with the music turned up, you don't need to pay any attention to them. After all, this is SoCal, if they didn't want to be run over they would have taken their car. Right?

And if the first person taking that turn didn't bother to stop, well, why should you bother either? Those pesky laws about right of way are never really enforced anyway. Or, wait, don't you actually have right of way, even if there is a pedestrian in the cross walk? They should have to jump out of your way, or wait until all 4 of you are finished taking you big left turn before continuing safely on their way. If the light changes before they reach the other side, that's just their own fault really for being stupid enough to walk somewhere.

By all means, if one of those pesky pedestrians, who shouldn't really exist anyway, has the audacity to glare at you and stare you down in order to get you to notice and stop your right turn before running over her children, feel free to yell at her out the window as she passes, "But I have a green light!" Duh, how silly for her to expect you to stop for her, that she has a green light and the right of way is of absolutely no consequence.

So dear driver, sleep peacefully tonight, completely oblivious to the number of times today you were almost guilty of vehicular manslaughter. Those images that flash through your head of little white crosses that mark the sides of your roads, and people waving their arms angrily as you pass, and worst of all someone confiscating your keys and forcing you to walk to every place within a two mile radius of where you live, those are just nightmares. Sweet dreams.

Love,
The woman you almost hit with your car the other day.

15.6.09

A Sane Woman's Guide to Motherhood


Many, many months ago Mary asked me if I would write a review for her book. I am finally writing it.

The real title of the book is, A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family. But don't let the title fool you. Mothers of any number of children will find this book helpful. Almost everything in this book is useful whether you have 1, 2, 3, or 10 kids. Don't let the title intimidate you. If you have children this book will be worth reading.

I expected to like the book. I've been reading Mary's blog Owlhaven for more than 3 years now. I expected find more of the same great content that is on the blog, and lots of familiar material in a different format.

I didn't expect to learn so much from this one volume. I didn't expect to come away from it encouraged and refreshed in my own life as a mother. I did not know how very useful this book might be.

I didn't think this would be the book that would solve for me the mystery of how to strengthen the emotional connection between my son and I that I have felt stretching thin the past year. I also learned that I will probably never be as patient as I believe I ought to be, but I can hope to become better at faking it as time goes by. And that veteran mothers of 10 still have moments of frustration when bedtime hits and there are toys all over the floor.

Mary's style is fun, light and understanding. She doesn't pretend to be a perfect mothering guru, just a little more experienced. Her suggestions are practical, and possible. Yes you heard that right, possible! Imagine a book about parenting and managing a family that has advice that you can actually picture yourself accomplishing, rather than overwhelming you at the thought of how big a failure you already are.

The book covers all sorts of topics; debunking myths about what kids really need and that supermoms exist, tips for raising polite children, how to understand what really makes your kids feel loved, and how to help them survive trips to the grocery store without meltdowns. To name a few.

I highly recommend you get your hands on a copy and read it for yourself.

***************
For those of you following the story of the children's home in Thailand, I'm pleased to report that since last week there have been 8 new sponsors, and almost $600 in donations. Thank-you for helping. We still have a long way to go to get to 80 sponsors, so please continue to spread the word. Let us not grow weary in doing good.

10.6.09

What $35 will buy

In the US $35 can buy a lot of things.

A pair of jeans for instance. If they aren't a really expensive brand name.

3 or 4 shirts from the clearance rack at Target.

A pair of nice shoes.

Dinner out. (Depending on where you go and how many tag along.)

One coffee/day for a month. If you only buy $1 cups of coffee.

10 Starbucks mocha frappuccinos.

2-3 books on your amazon wish list.

A tank of gas, maybe.

4 1/2 pounds of T-bone steak on sale at the grocery store.

or,

Food, clothing, shelter, safe transport to and from school and a home where they are loved for a child like Saewong whose parents were killed by the Burmese Army.

That's what $35 will buy. Most of us, by making a few adjustments to our daily routine; like walking more, or making coffee at home, eating less meat, or just buying fewer things, could afford to take care of a child who has nothing, every single month.

Wouldn't that be worth it?

To sponsor a child go here.

Read also Update on the Children's Home

Children in Crisis

Announcing-Child Sponsorship

8.6.09

Update on the Children's Home

Update: This was in my inbox when I woke up this morning. It's a note from Chala, the man who took all of these kids in and cares for them. His English is spotty, but it's his 9th language. He's brilliant and could do so many other things with his time and energy. Here is what he says.
your brother just mentioned that he just wants want other to take care of them. (We're trying to find good homes for them in case we have to fold.)
For me I love them so much and there are several reasons that I can't give these kids to the other. finally I will beg the rice from the temple and feed them. I will never give up.
But please find out support for them step by step.
Thankyou very much
Sincerely Chala
Heart breaking.


Have you heard about this yet? How long do you think it will be that a government is permitted to attack it's own people so, to jail and kill any voice for change, to allow through neglect the death of thousands within it's own borders? I wonder what it will take to stop the killing.

This latest attack on Karen people, and influx of refugees is only adds to the number of children in crisis and needing homes. In the meantime the children's home we support through the charis project is also in crisis. The health inspector came and said they would have to move the children to a different house, that it isn't in a safe location and it's not big enough for all of them. That in addition to all the other difficulty may be the final straw. After months of doing all that we know to do to raise enough money to care for these kids, there still isn't enough, there are still not enough sponsors or donors. The home incurs more and more debt each month, food continues to be in short supply, and the situation has yet to stabilize.

If the situation has not changed by the end of the month we do not think that the home will be able to carry on. Every dollar donated has gone directly to meeting their needs. Yet the need is greater than what has been given. We're now looking for a safe alternative for the kids if they need to be moved. We won't just abandon them, you can be sure of that.

Will you help? Will you sponsor a child? Tell other people they can sponsor a child? All it takes is 80 people who will commit to sending $35/month to feed, clothe, house and educate a child.*

The blogging community is big, and often generous. Surely by working together we can find the 80 people who are able and willing to help these kids. My stats finder shows at least that many people come here every day. If we all told at least two other people in real life, wrote a post about it, passed it on to other bloggers we know, how many would we reach. How many would be able to help? Saving this children's home is entirely possible. It could happen this week even.

I think often we look at a need and think that others are sure to help, and in the end, few people do anything because we're all expecting someone else to do it. You have the power to save a child in your hands. You have the influence to recruit another to save one more. Will you use it? Will you help?

I know many of you have been faithful supporters of this project from the beginning, and I thank you for that, from the bottom of my heart. Without you we would never have made it this far. Will you help one more time and share the need with others?

You could post a link on Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and whatever other networks you are part of. You could paste the sponsorship widget where others will see it, and write about why it matters. Will you help? My heart is breaking at the thought of what will happen if no one does. But I have seen this community of bloggers do amazing things. I'm hopeful that we can turn this thing around. Together.

To find out more about sponsoring a child click here, and here.

*Most sponsorship programs don't provide housing, or round the clock care, or help with homework. They are a supplement to children living with family or friends, providing some, but not all of their basic needs. Needing to provide all of their basic needs is why each of our kids needs two sponsors. If we can do this together, these kids will be raised in a home where they are loved, in their own culture, that the Burmese government is working unceasingly to obliterate, and saved from the danger and anonymity of either street life, or large institutions where abuse is often prevalent due to low adult to child ratios.

5.6.09

The miracle of life-By the Girl

This just in...

Girl: If I had a penis but was still a girl, and the Boy had a vagina but was still a boy then he would have to shoot that stuff that makes babies out of his vagina and into my penis. And that would be just weird.

(Not to mention the idea of making babies with your brother, that's not weird at all sweetie, not at all.)

4.6.09

The Zen of Poo*

As if the title weren't warning enough. Don't read if you have a weak stomach.

A couple of weeks ago I twittered this little tidbit.

Just collected the Girl's stool samples and put them in my fridge. You'd think once they're potty trained... but you're never done with poo.
My friend pointed out how zen like that little sentence is. You really are never done with poo.

Tonight it was a phone call at 9pm from the Girl's pediatrician. The good news is that she doesn't need to get blood drawn tomorrow, because they already have a diagnosis. We now know the reason she sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night screaming and clutching her stomach.

It was dramatic when it happened, but so intermittent that we figured it was just gas pain. She is our resident drama queen after all. Except that even drama queens don't usually start yelling before they are really even all the way awake.

But my mother in law had two dreams in a row about the Girl having worms several months ago. Then my little sister in law had one that was very similar. So we had it as a thought flitting around when she started pointing to her lower intestine when we asked where the pain was. It seemed to fit, and I finally made an appointment with the pediatrician our HMO assigned us, whom we had avoided up to now.

I called her office the week I was miscarrying Shiloh and said, "Look, my kids aren't vaccinated. It's not because I'm stupid or lazy. I've spent a lot of time and done a lot of reading and I'm comfortable with my carefully considered decision. I think my daughter has parasites. I do not have the energy this week to get into a conversation about shots or have the doctor yelling at me. So is this going to be a problem or can I bring her in?"

Poor receptionist didn't know but promised to ask and call me if the doctor had a problem with it so we could switch care providers. It turned out that she was a very gracious middle eastern woman with a voice that sounds almost exactly like this actress. She ordered a full spectrum of tests.

And that's how I found myself catching and scooping poo into vials for the past few weeks.

We were right. It's apparently fairly rare here in the US. She starts a course of treatment tomorrow for a type of flatworm. In the words of Forrest Gump, "It happens."

*How many philosopy geeks are there who will get that one?

1.6.09

Redemption?

I'm fine. In case you were wondering. Except when I'm not, and then I burst into tears at completely random seeming intervals. But that seems to be at a rate of twice a week or so, so it's not that bad.

I'm continuing to marvel at how many women are telling me that this record I am keeping of my experience of losing a baby is helping them deal with their loss as well. I certainly didn't set out to help other people by grieving publicly. It was more for me than anything else. I mentioned a few posts back how I trust in a God who promises to redeem all things. I have in the past year or so come to suspect that it is possible to go through suffering in a way that is actually redemptive. That's what certain verses on the subject seem to be saying anyhow.

I've not had a chance to test that idea until now, as I've not had much sorrow or suffering to go through. I feel kind of silly even mentioning it, like you will all think I think too highly of myself. It's just a little thing really, or a series of little things. Like my neighbor admitting that she's afraid to get pregnant again because she might have another miscarriage, and then choosing a name for the baby she lost and somehow that's helping her, talking about it is helping her. Or the many people who have told me that I've articulated for them a grief they couldn't speak and that has helped. I'm only passing on, inadvertently, the wisdom of women who have gone before me, and counseled me to name my baby, to allow time and space to grieve. They said it makes it easier in the long run.

I don't know. It seems pretty small. But I wonder if this small series of colliding ripples, where other people are comforted somehow as we process our shared grief together, is a foretaste of what it's like when something wrong is redeemed. If even out of an unexpected grief, comfort can come to a circle of women, what happens when the kingdom of God really comes?

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