Thursday, July 21, 2011

How My Heart Finally Broke for My Neighbor

By now we've probably all already heard the statistic that there are 500,000 children at risk on dying from malnutrition and dehydration in Eastern Africa. I remember how my eyes used to kind of glaze over when I read a statistic like this. Sure it was sad, but don't things like that happen in Africa all the time? It seems like one country or another is always dealing with drought, a dictator or internal strife of some sort.

Somehow becoming a mom has changed the way I feel when I hear half a million children are at risk of dying. My heart literally sinks to my feet. I can't imagine the pain of losing Caleb and I'm sure each woman in the Horn of Africa who watches her child's belly grow more distended by the day, their eyes sink deeper from lack of water has a broken heart no different from my own. She knows there is nothing in her power to end her child's suffering. I'm blessed to be able to feed my child every time he cries for food. I can't imagine the hopelessness of not being able to answer that cry.

Unlike the mom in Somalia, I don't have to remain broken hearted because I do have the power to help change her circumstances. I have the financial means to alleviate her suffering. I can support the aide organizations that are already on the ground there to distribute food and water. Because this isn't just another drought. This is the worst drought in decades. They didn't have just one bad rainy season, they lost an entire year of rainy seasons (there are typically 2 each year). Which means no crops and no water. No food for live stock, no food for people. Just hard, parched ground.

I'm sad to say, I used to find it so easy to ignore this kind of suffering. To feel sad about it, but do nothing because I could turn off the TV and close my eyes to it. Recently however, a post by Shaun Groves during his trip to the Philippines broke me wide open. I've actually tried to write about it 3 or 4 times, but it impacted me so much that I find all the words rushing to my fingers faster than I can type and have given up trying to capture it's impact on one short post.

Basically he asks us to imagine we really could see the suffering going on in the world just by looking outside. What if those in the global community literally were our neighbors? I really can't encourage you enough to click this link and read what Shaun wrote about his experience: Shaun's Story

Go ahead. Really, it's the best part. My post will still be here when you finish.

It's not about feeling guilty that we have so much while others lack the basic necessities of life. It is about realizing that to whom much has been given, much is required. Meeting needs during a crisis is just one way to get involved. There are tons of organizations building wells and developing new varieties of drought resistant plants so that, hopefully, these scenarios will become less frequent. Today though, there are 500,000 children who can't wait that long. Please consider donating.

Compassion International connects children not only with the basic necessities of life, but also with the Gospel. I'm also blown away by how incredibly fiscally responsible this organization is. Click this link to donate to the Drought Relief Fund

Monday, July 18, 2011

Oh Toddler!

It's been one of those weeks where I know for sure I'm the luckiest mom on earth. Caleb has his challenges (waking up at 5:30am, biting, hair pulling, etc.) but this week I have seen some major changes as my little baby becomes a big toddler.
Back yard bubble fun
Someone decided he wanted to hold the bubbles. Attack!

Self Control: Formerly, Caleb had to be banished to the "jump jump" whenever I loaded or unloaded the dishwasher. Since he hates confinement of any kind, masked as fun or not, it broke my heart to hear him fuss as I raced to finish the task before a complete melt down. Suddenly, all I have to do is jiggle his busy-box of kitchen toys, give him a reminder "No" right after I open the dishwasher and he plays happily for 20 minutes or so while I finish up. Of course, eventually temptation over-takes him, but as I see him creeping closer and closer, reaching out to it with a block (so he's not really touching it) I know that's my cue to wrap up. I'm so incredibly proud of him!

New Foods: Whatever other challenges Caleb has had, picky eating has never been one of them. This week he scarfed down chicken and broccoli casserole, lemon dill salmon, and chicken fajitas (including the peppers and onions). Plus jarred baby food. Plus sippy cups of milk. Plus nursing. How is this kid still losing weight?
Feeding Daddy is a new favorite game

Go Go Go: Because he doesn't stop moving of course! He is so interested in walking. He uses anything he can find (chairs, tupperware, his dinosaur walker) to help him get around the house on two feet. Occasionally he will sit quietly and turn pages in books, but most of the time he is on the move.

Listen Closely: For the most part, Caleb is wonderfully responsive to correction. Usually a reminder like "think think Caleb" is enough to redirect him. Sometimes we can tell he doesn't comply because he's not really sure what part of what he's doing is the "no" part. He will stay where he is and touch 3-4 things really close to him to figure out which one is "no". Once he learns it, he tends to listen quite well. Biting seems to be the exception to this rule. Something about biting is so enticing right now that none of our usually strategies are effective. I'm hoping once that last tooth on the bottom comes in the problem resolves itself.

DADDY!!!: Daddy has always been Caleb's favorite toy, but we are on to a whole new level of daddy adoration now. As soon as he finishes nursing in the morning he turns over and pounces on daddy. He reluctantly allows me to pry him off of dad's shoulder so David can go to work. When David comes home, Caleb's energy multiplies and the two of them are inseparable until bed time. I thought I would feel a little jealous, but honestly, it's just the coolest thing ever to seem them bonding this way. Sometimes I do want Caleb to share David with me though! Fortunately it's hard to keep Caleb awake much past 6:30 so we still have the evenings mostly to ourselves.
Mommies kiss boo-boo's but Daddies are F.U.N.

I really can't describe how much I am loving getting to know this little guy that God has blessed us with. I treasure the stories, the songs, exploring the back yard, rolling the ball back and forth, cleaning up the tupperware cabinet again and again, sweeping under the high chair for the 100th time, and everything else that goes along with raising this amazing person. It's exhausting, but I have no doubt it's the job I was made for.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

More Adventure than We Planned For

Our "relaxing 4-day weekend" turned out to be, um, not so relaxing as we had hoped. I think that's pretty typical for life after baby unless you are super-intentional about taking down time, because there is always something more that "needs" to be done. Even for our usual hectic pace though, this weekend was unusual.

Saturday was supposed to be the adventurous day of our long weekend (or at least of David's). David went on a men's canoe trip and got to tackle some small rapids in a canoe for the first time. I had a few of the women whose husbands were also out canoeing over for lunch and we had a great time catching up. David got home just in time to put the wee one to bed.

We love doing things together, so it's rare we spend an entire day apart voluntarily. However, I know it refreshed David to tackle something challenging like this and I certainly enjoyed my time with Susan and Maureen. Although we've been back for 3 months now, I feel like I'm still catching up with everyone after our 6 month stay in Florida.

Sunday began so typically. Our son awoke at the crack of dawn. We lingered over iced coffee and warm egg sandwiches before taking turns getting ready. We got out on time for church (ok so, not so typical...)

When we arrived, David and I split up so I could put Caleb down to sleep in the nursery, which is pretty empty during Sunday school. Today, we were the only ones. As I was listening to him cry, debating if he needed consolation or to be left alone I looked out the window and saw a few clusters of people running from the hotel next door. I barely had time to think, "maybe there's a fire" when a blue caught my eye.

A man with a sniper rifle ducked down behind the shed just outside the nursery window. A surge of involuntary fear ran through me before I could register that he was a police officer. My fear subsided momentarily, but I knew something must be very very wrong. Just as I scooped Caleb up and opened the door to go find David, another officer came in the back door and told us all to get out of the church because a man at the hotel had a machine gun.

They sent us into the field next to the church and we eventually made our way to a gas station outside the police blockade where friends with a car-seat were able to come pick us up. We ended up having a wonderful afternoon of fellowship as we waited for the stand off to end so we could retrieve our car. The gun ended up being a toy, and all ended well.

I wish I could say I handled the situation with confidence, trusting in the goodness and sovereignty of God no matter what the outcome. In reality, I struggled to push down an icy fear that made my thoughts numb and my movements mechanical as we walked away from the church.

It wasn't until one of the evacuees from the hotel, a girl about my age with some type of mental disability, organized us in prayer that I felt the fear recede. Oh how humbling, oh how I shouldn't be surprised. This is one reason I choose the field of special education in the first place: my students show me time and time again the things I am blind to, especially when it comes to what really matters.

So that was Sunday's big adventure and certainly something I've been reflecting on often this week. We ended the day by stopping by Target for a 1/2 gallon of ice cream that was *gasp* not on sale. Talk about a celebration of life ; )

The next two days were much less eventful, but definitely busy! We've been saving up for a few items around the house including an area rug for the living room and patio furniture. We found a table that seats six, half-off at Target (chairs will have to wait until next year, as the color I wanted was sold out) and got the carpet we've had our eye on for about a year now. I am loving having a soft place to sit while I play on the floor with Caleb! We also got some cube storage that doubles as a window seat. Hopefully the livingroom will soon look less like a play room after bed time and we will have more space for company too : )

We did take a break from working around the house to go watch the fireworks. With Caleb safely locked in the house, we stood at the top of the hill and watched both the Chambersburg and Letterkenny firework displays simultaneously. It doesn't get much more awesome than that. Caleb even slept through our neighbors extremely loud mortars (they'd already talked to us before hand, because we have the best neighbors EVER) but I figured if he didn't he could just come watch too. What's one night of interrupted sleep?

I'll be posting photos of our updates along with our big project: Decluttering and Cleaning the Master Bedroom. However, as personal motivation, blogging will be on hold until that clean up is complete! It's the last room in our home that hasn't received some serious TLC since we've been back and it's definitely making David and I's evenings less peaceful just looking at all that clutter before bed each night.

It's great to have our house feeling more like home! Hopefully the master bedroom project will be complete after this weekend...