The theme that runs rampant in my life, like an overgrown invasive species (I envision Kudzu, because it’s everywhere all over Illinois and I know it takes over every living thing like crazy) branching out so effortlessly in many places, would have to be “Fighting The System.” We question a lot of things in our household–I feel we are in an era where we must think for ourselves, discuss things, not let the media and popular belief choose for us what we will do with our lives. There is a lot that you can lose by believing everything you see, or by being led astray by the notion that you can just trust corporations, brands, marketing, advertising, commercials, etc. On the contrary, most of them are lying to your face as they smile a toothy, perfectly white, smile. Greedily motivated by money, in many cases, these corporations are not trustworthy, (unfortunately, also including the medical profession in many cases) and you must do your own research and learn your own lessons if you are to be a wise consumer in any way.
So when it comes to life, we are conscientious, captive-minded consumers. By captive-minded (hence the name of this blog), I mean we keep our minds keenly aware of our environments and we hold our mind’s captive to be educated and learn things worthwhile. We try to sleep with one eye open and be wary of new trends or new ideas until we’ve thoroughly investigated them. We listen to a sermon or sit in an audience with our eyes on the speaker, but our brains still working. We don’t take their word as God’s word, we go weigh what was said against scripture. Anyhow, we don’t want to be meanhearted, but we want to seek truth. I have noticed lately that I can get really cynical, really upset about the state of our world. I can feel so distraught that I cannot simply trust people with my child, trust what people will do for him and how he will be taken care of… and really angry that all food is not good food–not even most of it. But you know what? My hope isn’t here. My hope is not in God’s Green Earth, as much as I do love it. I love the earth, I want to recycle, and I want it to last for future generations. But as much as I do, I also realize that humankind has a destructive, irrational gene in its makeup: where we should be content, we try for just a bit more. When we should be happy with one handful, we take two. So I must know, as long as this world is a broken wreck that God has to restore, it will not be everything I hope for it to be. Motivations will be twisted. Ecosystems destroyed. Lives lost to greedy wants and wishes. I can try to save my son from every contaminant, poison, and cleaning supply that was invented… but he will be touched by some of it simply by living in this world.
My hope is not in fighting the system. My hope is in the fact that it’s a broken one. This is not, and never will be, how my life and this world were created. I believe in a God who created a system that works together so beautifully, so symbiotically and systematically, that it can do nothing other than show us a peek at the Creator’s glory. A speck of what is to be. I await the day when creation and creator will be reconciled. My hope is in the return of Christ, in His continual work within me, and His love for all humanity. That deep within us, there is a story that speaks of more. We are all trying to fill that void, and those who greedily stuff things deep into their pockets at the expense of others (or rainforests, or babies, or puppies..) are trying to do the same thing. They want more, more, more, because they know in their heart of hearts that they were meant for more than this mere bleak existence that they may be experiencing.
So I will be an activist. I will continue to speak for things that I believe in. I will fight the system with gusto! With fervor! With passion! I am a zealot for many topics, namely: real food, saving the lives of unborn babies, and issues of education & parenting. But I have to realize at the end of the night, my hope and my soul rest in more than these things, and that I have done what I can. Recently, I have really been wrestling with vaccines. August is currently vaccinated, but the more I read, the more weary I feel. The more I know, the more burdened I feel his tiny body is with the weight of the chemicals and nasty additives going into his system. I know that I was vaccinated and I turned out okay. I know that Troy was also. But still there is a big, huge doubt. It seems like a vicious cycle and evil necessity… Something I don’t want to do but feel pressure to. I know that there are many diseases that would probably be killing mass portions of our populations these days if people were not vaccinated against them. My counsin reminded me about Polio, and how so many probably wish a vaccination was invented when they were dealing with that crippling disease. Without a vaccination, these may still be huge issues of our time. But still, I see so much wrong with vaccinations. Why do babies have to be injected with things that contain such nasty ingredients? Mercury? Aluminum? I’m horrified. Not to mention that we have no idea how Autism, Cancer, and Alzheimer’s Disease really come to be. It scares me. This is a place where I have to trust God. This is a place where I have to do my best, do my part, and then shut off the lights and get some sleep.
Mothers are asked to be everything. Waitress. Chauffeur. Counselor. Referee. Friend. Nutritionist. Comforter. Jungle-Gym. The list could go on forever and ever. Quality time and quantity time are so different, and I am doing the best I can. So I must fight the system in my ways, I must do what I feel is necessary to make informed decisions, but then I must put my hope in higher ground. Not in others’ opinions, not in trends and tradition. I cannot wear myself to the bone and then some. My hope is in Christ. And in Him I can let my hair down, cry my eyes out, or talk until I have nothing left to say, I can be everything I know I am and still be accepted.
All my love,
(from personal observation)
This is a long-winded one, but if you stick with me and see it through, I hope it will be a thought-provoking journey, at least.
Our world seems to enjoy boxing people into roles, stereotypes, labels, etc. American culture, specifically what I’ve seen in rural American culture, sticks to these kinds of guidelines a bit too stringently for my liking. The church really, really loves doing this kind of thing–and I’m SICK of that, I might add. Sometimes, these snap judgements seem like they could be really useful tools–they keep things simple for your brain, so you’re able to just quickly write something off. Less pain for your brain, easily sorting everything into tidy little spots in society, but not necessarily the truth. They make everything seem very black and white, strictly speaking, and “just the facts, ma’am.” But if you look at yourself, if you look deeply, and if you also look at your life, maybe things shouldn’t be quite so stuck. That maybe, that’s not how the world really turns.
And by stuck, I mean that these guidelines are not be doing us any favors from where I stand. Cookie cutter molds from which to build our peripheral ideas and hopes about other people, other women and men, are not helping but in fact are hurting us at our very core. From looking around me, from looking at the relationships I have and the friendships I’ve built, I think that the gender roles rules need to be kicked to the curb: once and for all. Hello, I am that woman who will not force pink and purple flowered skirts on my daughter if that isn’t her liking, and Oh, hi there–I’m the feminist chick who will truly squeal with delight when my son creates his first dinnertime meal and serves it with pride. And I will never, never ever, give him “boy toys” like hammers and building sets, without giving him a kitchen to play with or something more neutral such as blocks and stuffed animals. And if he wants to carry a baby around and take care of it, my mothering soul will be proud that I have set such a wonderful, nurturing example for him.
Anyhow. The big kicker here is this: How you raise your sweet baby girl or sweet baby boy, is the expectation they will have of the world–FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIFE. The actions, the roles, the responsibilities that your little sponge is soaking up will resonate within them as the truth. The toys that they are given, shows that they watch, the music they hear, the way you self-love or self-hate.. they will have a perfect blue-print of what they think they’re supposed to emulate. Translation: If you’re a momma, and you do all the laundry, cooking, and cleaning, or if you’re a poppa, and you do all long hours of working, all the physically demanding labor, and have never lifted a finger to team up with your wife in a messful of kitchen, then your child will likely follow suit and demand the world to do so as well. When other people, specifically in this case probably your child’s future spouse, do not fit so tidily within these walls of examples, all hell breaks loose. It does not have to be like that.
These people (and I am one of them) who are not stuck in any one mold very tightly (I tend to have a personality that exhibits many male-typical traits & am a born leader in my own opinion, and I am a lot less domestic in many ways than some women are raised to be) a problem will certainly arise. There will be a clash, a contradiction between two worlds, and it will take a very long, long time for both people to reconcile. My husband and I were raised very differently. He was raised in a home where gender roles were very, very strictly followed. My home was a lot more egalitarian, though I do still believe I missed out on many important life skills I would like to learn now (read: changing a tire, or being able to sew), and I am not blaming my parents for these things. They did a great job. My hubby’s parents did a good job too–we just came from entirely different worlds, with entirely different priorities. Needless to say, there were many hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and painful fights in our first year of marriage because of gender roles gone awry. I hope that through our parenting and our observation of God’s design, we can nip that in the bud for our son.
I understand where tradition lies on the spectrum of very important pieces of personal history–traditions are what often make life special, give it meaning, make us feel connected to our past. At least, traditions in my understanding, through my life lens. However, I do not adhere to tradition for its own sake–I will forsake the “same old way” for a “new and more effective, efficient way,” in a heartbeat if I have made the analysis that a change will be positive and helpful. I do a lot of reading and investigating to glean out what the best way may be. The same is true for gender roles–I have looked, inspected, introspected, outwardly glanced, picked up the scriptures, discussed with many people… I just cannot grasp how some people will raise their children without a thought about how gender roles impact them. The world bombards men and women every day, mostly through advertising, and tells them what they will do, what they will say, and how to behave. Women are driven to see themselves as a sex object, when it boils down. Men are pushed to be fearless and impermeable, insusceptible to emotions and hurt. These things rob us of the people God designed us to be, and leave us yearning for more with a deeply buried insecurity that we carry like a huge weight slung over our shoulder. Perhaps not nearly realizing how much it impacts us–so many people carry this with them wherever they go, but it needn’t be so. You can awaken. You can understand that you are not your sex, you are not your gender. You are a child of God with uniquely given gifts and abilities–you do not have to buy, sell, trade, train, or squish yourself into a mold based on the image you see all around you of what the “Woman” or “Man” must do. These roles are irrelevant in many cases. Though they are mostly stereotypes and expectations of society, I will also say that women are often born mothers, wheras men seem to be learned fathers, or nurturers. Many men think that it’s “only a woman’s thing,” or that he isn’t expected to learn to nurture. Not the case, in my eyes. I think many men were never shown by their father-figure exactly what it means to be a nurturing man. Therefore, they always thought that would come from their mother. My husband is one of the most nurturing people I know, but he had to get past his early suppositions in order to embrace that. I had to realize that I am a self-starter when it comes to negotiating with people in a business-environment, and also trying to haggle with some of our utilities providers on the phone, and I am a leader in this way. If I had kept expecting my husband (who knows why? I guess I perceived it as a guy’s thing to do? ) to do these things, we’d both be going crazy, forced into roles which we did not fit.
So what does this all mean for our children? I would like to suggest a wild and crazy notion of forsaking traditional ways, forsaking what your television is telling you, forsaking the industries who are trying to sell you things (ahem… all of those toys and all of the crap you don’t need, which vividly supports gender roles: Dora, Bob the builder (ugh!), Barbie, and action figures like Spiderman…) are not trying to help your child or love them. They are trying to make $$. That is their bottom line–yeah, yeah, yeah, we can all argue about how our kids need action heros and adventure, okay I get that ( I like spiderman) but really… they want to make a quick buck. The more your child wants to be like superman or barbie, the more your child watches and consumes their products, the more money they make. And the less satisfied your child is going to be with who they are–as a woman or a man. I would like to suggest a crazy turnaround of allowing the “world” to suggest for us what our children should be like, and instead do a more inquiry-based playtime with our kids, where they are encouraged to explore all kinds of textures, shapes, experiences… without putting gender as their top priority. The world is made up of so many more things, and creativity blossoms without so many boundaries. Give your child the options. Also, inquiry-based with a dose of real world would also be a step towards better things: allowing your child to cook beside you. Lifting up the hood of your car and showing your kid all of the parts of the engine, etc. Boy & girl. NOT just boys. NOT just girls. We shouldn’t be stealing tools and resources that our children need to have in real life, so that they can come to expect another person to meet those needs for them. That is a huge, HEAVY load. ALL of our kids should be capable in as many areas of living as possible. Not just what our social circles say is acceptable for their gender.
Here is a bit of what I hope to do to help my child thrive in his God-given talents and personality, as a sweet little boy:
1) We have been very, very adamant about NO television for August. I don’t think it’s evil, I think advertising is evil–and there is a huge difference. Point blank. We watch PBS in our home (newly) and listen to NPR. We also listen to a wide array of music. He does not need television to stimulate his brain even more, and all the research shows that he does not need it or learn from it until after age 2. He does not need advertising to tell him what he doesn’t have and needs to have to be happy. He does not need to see the guy with massive muscles that he “should” look like. He will not suffer in the least without these things.
2) I always want him to have a choice in things, if he is able to make those choices. I don’t want him to feel like we are forcing things on him, especially gender-stereotyped things. Activities will not be optional once he gets to a certain age, because we want him to socialize and discover the things that he excels in, but he will choose if its basket weaving or soccer. I will support him in either.
3) As much as we are able, hubby & try to share the load across genders. He does the laundry when he is able and often on weekends, we both clean the house (I do more of this right now, because I am home almost full time with August) but Troy is really much more thorough with cleaning than I could ever hope to be! We must fully own that we are August’s biggest example, and so we have to get out of our comfort zones. I will mow the lawn, and I will learn how to check the oil in our van. I will do things that I am physically able to do. And Troy will carry him around on his back in a springy green Ergo even though it doesn’t make him feel “manly.” He will cook dinner for our family and be proud of it, because a guy can rock at cooking, too. And.. Because we share the load as parents, not as unequal partners.
4) I will encourage my child to see role models in both genders. I’ve had an old-man crush on John Miur for a very long time, probably my early years of highschool, and I respected him for the peaceful protester he is. I hope he will be fascinated with Madame Curie or Condi when he is in his formative years.
5) I will hunt for biblical truth, and not accept mainstream ideas that many churches seem to be having about roles within the church. They are not biblical, and they are not fair to women in who they are in Christ. I feel so strongly about this that I do not attend my old church anymore. I liked many things about it, but their ideas about gender was not one of them.
I feel that the roles we are expected to fill, the shoes we are expected to walk in, can be touchy touchy topics. It hits people deep down, and they get offended. I realize that. But I also realize that it can be lifechanging to realize that these are not very valid reasons to live the way we do. If you realized that your wife was better at something than you, but you always forced yourself to do it anyhow, it sounds like the recipe for disaster to me. The same goes for any woman who would choose, every night, to make dinner (even if she’s really bad at it) even though her husband really loves it deep down, and can produce top-notch dinners. And at the end of the day, I think we should all be sufficient. Sad as I am to think about it, someday I may not have my husband. I don’t want to be totally inapable of filling all of the roles he used to fill around our home. I want us each to be confident and have the life skills we need–gender roles trap us into thinking we need someone else to provide many things for us.
One last thought on this topic, speaking spiritually. I can give you a million ways that Jesus countered his very male-dominant culture. I think a lot of people are very set in their ways on this polarizing issue, but during my last year at Greenville College, I had to do a very in-depth investigation about this topic and what Jesus really exhibited through his actions. Through my studies with my fellow students, I uncovered what I believe very adamantly to be truth. It was the first time I really, really took a hard long look at what Jesus thought of women and their role: The bleeding woman that he healed is probably the most beautiful example that I can give ((Mark 5:21-43, Matthew 9:18-26, Luke 8:40-56) of a savior who allows a woman who is thought of as “unclean,” completely cut off as a pariah by her fellow people because of her bleeding disorder… to touch him… she was accepted by Him. Then another example when He speaks to the Samaritan woman at the well, that crosses all lines within his Jewish culture. Women were very much the “lesser” citizen in Jesus’ day, but he made every effort to tear that down. My final thought on this would be Jesus’ words: they were often very feminine and used motherly symbolism. Men of that day just didn’t speak in such a tone. He spoke of being a mother hen who gathers her chicks about her, in Luke 13:34. I love that symbolism. Even a dude in present day would rarely speak like that, so tenderly. Anyhow, if you have any more questions about any of this, please ask. Here’s a link that may help explain these beliefs further: http://www.jesuscentral.com/ji/life-of-jesus-modern/jesus-feminist.php.
All my love,
This has been a really rough few weeks. Oh Lordy! I cannot begin to describe it. But as is usual, I would prefer to express myself in a different way anyhow. Even when the days are drag-down beat-up days, there is still so much I am thankful for.
Let me tell you, let me count the ways; My Boy is so unique and so particularly mine:
My boy is giggly, wiggly, snuggly and bright.
He has joy in his eyes, a spark of wonder–and light.
He can make me smile, even on the darkest day.
I couldn’t have imagined him, couldn’t have drawn him in a more perfect way.
He was designed, formed, planned.
He was created and molded. Gently, carefully by hand.
The days that get rough, days I can’t sleep…
The days I feel weak, like I’ll break down and weep…
On days when the house is a mess, the dog ran away…
Dinner was ruined and I’ve got nothing to say…
I remember the care that first brought him to life, I remember the joy as he first cried and cooed.
I recall how I gazed on his features and form.
His soft skin, his sweet face. How he smelled, looked–I was wooed!
I quickly realized my blessings and cards had been dealt– my new title of “Mom,” made me totally melt.
I would fall in love–such a love-laced heart attack!
Once you enter the world of a mother, you never once look back.
My Boy, you have changed me–because you are mine.
I am never going to be the same as I was, and that’s really just fine.
All my love,
I stumbled on the word “Lactivism” a few months ago, and I loved it instantly.
I am and always will be an activist at heart: the champion of my causes to the grave. I care about mothers and babies and breastfeeding, I care about unborn babies. I care about animals, everyone’s right to eat nutritious and wholesome food, and I also care about education and healthcare, as well as natural remedies and our bodies’ awesome abilities to heal themselves. I strongly believe in protecting God’s green Earth and it’s wonderful bounty! If we were being super thorough, I’d have to keep listing more and more topics because my interests and passions are extensive. But these are the main ones.
There are ways to be an activist, and there are many styles of it. Not all of them work extraordinarily well; not all of them are suited to every person–or will appeal in the least to them.
Since I care deeply about mamas and their young, I care deeply about how they are treated and the rights that they have. I want to be someone they can turn to, a voice in the silence when they think nobody else is thinking about what their mind’s eye is on. I want to be an arm outstretched and a comforting person. BUT I have to know when someone is interested in having me fit that role for them. This goes for breastfeeding. Come on, we all KNOW “Breast Is Best.” Every new mother knows that its what she should do–it’s constantly discussed and held up high, and we all realize that it provides a vast amount of benefits. Unless they are under a rock, they know that breastfeeding is strongly encouraged. But some mamas have a very hard time with it, and some ladies have experiences that make it excruciatingly difficult to breastfeed. As a lactivist, I must know this, own it, and see it for the truth that it is. Not every woman is going to be able to do it.
HOWEVER: I see this, and I have heard other women’s stories, grieved with them that they were unable to do what they had hoped for their little ones. Kind of like what happened to me with my would-be natural waterbirth. I know that their babies are still going to be vibrant and healthy thanks to God’s grace and provision. But I will always practice gentle lactivism. I try not to be in anyone’s face about it. I try to use my actions more than my words in order to practice what I believe in, but not step on other mothers’ sensitive and already possibly wounded spirits. I compare it to my belief in Christ, and my walk with Him. Untold numbers of people have been hurt by the church (myself included) and do not want to hear me preaching to them. They don’t want to hear about Christ or what I have been through and how He’s led and loved me. But they will see it as I live my life, and that speaks volumes more than I ever can with my voice.
So what do I do to practice my gentle brand of lactivism? I make sure everyone knows that I breastfeed. I am not shy about it, and I am vocal when August needs a meal! I will say, “I’m going to give August a nursing!” to my husband within anyone’s earshot. I blog about it (like I’m doing now) and talk about it openly and let people know how well it’s going for me! I have had friends without kids ask me about it, ask if it hurts, etc. I am super honest and open with them, and no questions are off-limits when they are curious and want to know. Too few mothers and matriarchs are leading the young women they are surrounded by, and I won’t do that. I want to show other women what is working for me, so that they have something to go off of when they need to know what will work for them. What I do know about my experience is that I did a TON of reading and researching before I actually had to breastfeed my guy when he was born. I knew the possibilities of what could go wrong, and what I could do to try to counteract them. I read really positive stories about women and their great nursing experiences. I tried to beef myself up on facts and good experiences, because it seems our culture only talks loudly about the bad ones (in every area of life, not just bf-ing)and that can be SO hard for a new mom! I felt the sting of so many women who had wanted to tell me their sob stories and angry stories starting out, and that is NOT appropriate to do to a new or pregnant mom. Seriously, quit it folks–know when to share and when to keep it to yourself. I turned my ears off in many instances and asked the Lord to protect me from their negative effects.
Another way I try to be available to new and expectant ladies is this: I will nurse in public to a certain degree, and have even recently nursed with a man nearby (successfully & discreetly!) and without exposing myself. I was pretty proud–if my baby needs to eat, he’s not going to have to wait until a convenient time! I get grouchy if I can’t have a snack when I need one. Haha. But that’s half the solution. Our culture has so wounded women by sexualizing them on nearly every level, and boobs are included. The breast is a FASCINATING, AMAZING functional part of every woman’s anatomy, and the capable and useful feeling of feeding your child with your own body is even more amazing. Our country in particular has robbed women of this, and we need to take back what’s rightfully ours. We need to be free of the notion that we are hussies, sluts, or whatever other horrible term people will throw at you when you’re breastfeeding in a way that someone else might have an inkling of what you’re up to. The gentle, sweet, and so-perfect act of nursing your little one is so far from the sexualized mindset–I believe so many are not able to understand the place it even comes from. They only see a woman for that side of things, and so they will have a hard time with it.
So, gentle lactivism in my book is one part actions speaking louder than words, one part not being afraid to tell people about my experiences when they are curious, and one part counter-cultural confidence about my feeding my son, and how very right it is.
I thought I would share my view on this, because I think so many women can relate or understand or learn from it. I’m sure we’ve all been given “the talk” on numerous subjects dealing with childrearing and pregnancy–from some wise lady who wants to tell you what’s up. I had numerous women try to do that with me during my pregnancy and I just wasn’t up for it. They were people who I didn’t know very well, and they were quite invasive. So I wanted to share how I go about being passionate with this topic, but not insensitive to others.
All my love,
Today, as I spent some time soaking up God’s word, I trudged through Genesis. I know, it sounds terrible–seeing as so many are persecuted because of the Gospel, seeing how so few have access to it in other parts of the world… but I trudged through Genesis because I feel like, “I already know this.” I read along in Genesis 3 as Adam & Eve commit the first sin & are punished. I read along in Genesis 7 as God commands Noah to “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before me in this generation.” My heart leapt as I read those words, and I thought, “Really? Noah was the ONLY person in all the generation who was righteous before God? Wow.” Something stuck out to me, even though I “knew it,” already from childhood & teen years, etc.
I kept reading. As I got to the story of Abram & Sarai, I was struck by God’s direct call to Abram in Genesis 12, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing, I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” And then… in Genesis 12: 4; it says, “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him…” So, what I sum up, is that Abram took hold of these promises, many as they were, and trusted that they would come to pass. He had everything he needed right where he was, he had family, his father’s house, and a country to call his own already. But God had told him that it was time to uproot everything and go.
I look at my own life and think, “How often have I thought that it was time to go, felt a still small voice telling me that I should, that there is something else, but been so terrified of what everyone would say, or if things fell through?” How many times have we dreamed a dream, felt it affirmed by God’s direction, and then not followed through on it? I want to challenge myself to listen to God’s still voice this year. I want to listen and hear Him. Not the surrounding noise. Not the din that ricochets off of every surface around me. But the real voice of God giving me and my family direction to know where we are meant to be, to hear God calling us.
I believe it can happen. And I also believe that faith is the first step. I think that faith means going with what you’re given–not being stupid, but also not being afraid to take a risk. He will take care of us, and he will provide for us in 2013.
It’s hard to believe, but my baby will be 8 months old soon. That isn’t far from a whole year… Which is incredible. I am certainly going to cry from joy and sadness at his first birthday, I’m just a sappy momma and I know it. I feel like things are moving too fast, and that it’s all gone by in the blink of an eye! He is a really inquisitive little man, and as we go about our days I see more and more of his personality, his likes and dislikes, and we are surprised lately by his toughness. He hardly cries sometimes when we expect him to let out a huge wail–and mishaps are happening more often now that he’s all over the place, mobile and exploratory. Crazy. Here are some photos from our life that I finally had a chance to edit–I caught our dogs chillaxing together too, they are so sweet together. Shadow & Lady make a wonderful pair… I think they’re somewhat inseparable, as much as Shadow likes to play the tough dog. They’re one of the best things that has happened to each other–him helping to rehabilitate her from her previous life (who knows, she was a rescue) and her bringing a more gentle, really playful side out of him. They look like an old married couple in these pics.
All my love,
I’ve had a small cry today. But I feel a big one coming on. And I’m not embarrassed to say that it feels good, quite good. A release of all the emotions that I cannot really come to terms with in words through speech or writing, and through those tears I don’t have to. It all just comes pouring out.
We found out today that my hubby’s Grandma was taken to the ER last week and admitted, and that she has two forms of Cancer. She’s his last living grandparent, and if I ever knew an example of a hardworking, keeping busy and productive woman, she would be it. I don’t know her very well, but she has always been kind to me. Thinking back we have received so many little cards and letters in the mail from her, so thoughtful. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Christmas. Kind.
And as I ponder this, I think about my own grandparents. I have one left, and she is fighting a battle with grief. This battle surprises me, as she is more stoic Japanese, more calm and reserved than most. But it has brought out many stories that she shares, and many emotions that I feel were hidden from long ago. Losing my grandpa has come on with waves of sorrow, for me. At times it feels as though he hasn’t left us at all, like maybe he’s just in another room or something…and then others there is a gaping wide hole in our family for loss of him. This holiday we certainly have had to try to keep our heads above water as we mourn and yet rejoice–we know that our loved ones can no longer share our lives with us, our memories with us, but they are with us in spirit. And they are in a far better heavenly realm than we have imagined. But this small amount of rejoicing really does not amount to the pain we feel. Having lost them in such short succession, hearing today that my husband’s grandmother may suffer the same fate leaves me feeling angry and devastated. You go on living your life, but you always hold some kind of a splinter in your heart feeling that you should’ve have more time with your loved ones. Maybe this is a sense of entitlement, but it just seems so wicked and cruel that they are taken so swiftly. In some cases it all happens in the blink of an eye, and you’re left empty-handed and without a companion.
Today I called my parents because I was upset to hear this news. My dad reminded me like he has a lot of times before, “But… we are never promised that this life will be easy.” What does that mean? It means that God allows the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. And as hard as that is to come to grips with, it serves as a solemn reminder to me that this world is not the created order that God intended. The rain falls, but it does not fall as it might have. Creation will be restored one day. A breath of fresh air will come, and sorrow will be no more. Oh how I long for heaven these days. I used to wonder at people who talked about heaven, thought about it, wrote about God’s glory and the majesty. Now I understand their pining for a place never seen. I feel in my soul that I belong somewhere else, and that the injustice of the pain in this world will be something I am glad to leave when my time comes.
This cancer makes me want to do something. I recently had the privilege of photographing a special event just for families and their kiddos dealing with childhood cancer. These little ones were so precious, so sweet. And to think that these families feel ten times more pain than I, because their little ones may not at all live out their lives. May not even scratch the surface of life before it is whisked away. This makes me want to spend time with those kids, to do more. To be more. To try to make some kind of change or difference. What is this that we’re dealing with? In the past months I can count five or six close relations who have been given terrible news of cancer, who are dealing with it, or who have passed because of it. That is far too much. So I want to start a war. I want to live my life trying to figure this out, and not only that, just live in a way where I cherish what I have, who I have, and the beauty of our days in a way that allows us to soak each other up. Because we know we aren’t promised this life will be easy, and we aren’t promised tomorrow. We have to have purpose and actually spend time with each other. We have to make our moments count. Value the opportunities for conversation and sharing in love and community. We have to decide to invest in people and invest in our times together, since we all take the normality for granted, because if we lose those people we want to have made it worth the most.
All my love,