Friday, November 4, 2011

Thoughts on today

Today 115,000 lives will be lost through the hands of another, with consent from the family. Today, a physician thinking they are doing what is best for their patient, will leave a life-long wound in a woman, a family, and a society. Because of today, 115,000 unique, beautiful people will never be known. They won't get the chance to laugh, cry, love or be loved by another. Those mothers will miss the amazing gift and opportunity to grow, mature, love, laugh, and cry. They will miss the opportunity to realize that life is more than what others think of us. Because of fear, they will miss out on the person they are supposed to become.

I know that the topic of abortion is a sensitive one. There are many amazing men and women that I love who not only support, but also participate in the furthering of 'women's rights' and abortions. I know that they truly have the best intentions- they want to help women who are suffering, who are afraid, who don't have the finances or don't have the time. They want to protect families and marriages.

I understand this and I want to share a story, so please bear with me and continue reading. It is pretty short.

For the first few weeks, she thought that it was the stomach flu. Eight weeks and a positive pregnancy test later, her symptoms made more sense. What didn't make sense was what life was going to look like. With a 5 year old and a 6 month old, a third child was a lot to imagine, especially since her husband was in the beginning stages of working his way up the managerial chain at a local grocery store. For him that meant long hours, long weeks, and little time. With two children, daycare options were more accessible and meant that she could go back to work. Three children meant staying at home to raise and provide for them. Three children also meant an even tighter budget and living off of one income over two. That meant more mouths to feed, bottoms to diaper, clothes to wash. It also meant less money in, more money out, less time for adult conversation and a longer wait before she could make her way in the corporate world.

After the kids were in bed, they started discussing the change in their future. It felt like they were tearing down an already built home and starting from scratch. Plans were shelved for a while, maybe forever. What was going to happen to their marriage? What about their 6 month old baby? How were they going to shower their children with the love that they needed and still have time for each other?

But there were 'options' and one pregnancy could ruin what they felt was in the best interest of their family. With this turn in the discussion, their plans didn't have to change. They could continue on the path they were going, and not have to worry so much about food being on the table and careers coming to a complete halt. Their two children would be well provided for and their marriage would be better.

So, what should they do?

What would you do? How would you finish my story?

Because this is my story. Those are my parents. I am that 8 week old baby. It is my life that they are discussing.

My story isn't an uncommon one, but what may be more uncommon is it's ending. Twenty-five years ago, my mom went against her husband's recommendation and chose to keep me. I am here today because she didn't see abortion as an option for a life that two people made. She saw the bigger picture, maybe not clearly, fully or precisely, but she knew there was more to that 8 week old than she could see right then and there. It took courage, strength, and grace to say 'no' when everything pointed to 'yes.' And for that courage, strength, grace and love, I will be forever grateful.

So today I share this story on behalf of those unheard voices, unseen persons who are missing from our lives. I am grateful because I am here, even though I was supposed to be one of those unknowns. I will lend my voice so they can speak, even if only for a moment.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Do I delegate to God?

So I was talking to an AMAZING friend of our family last week and we hit upon a really interesting discussion regarding delegation. Delegation, when done correctly, means to give authority to another so they may act on your behalf. We can all think of perfect examples for delegation, and that's where a lot of jobs are created- maids, cooks, secretaries, treasurers, vice presidents, presidents even. The role and goal of these positions and for delegation is for the completion of the part or whole of the idea, task, etc. Sometimes our plates are full and we need to pass a task on to another to complete it.

When I was working at the hospital, there were many times that I needed to delegate jobs to aids in order for the patient to be appropriately cared for. The tricky part of delegation is making sure that we aren't inappropriately delegating tasks. Using a similar example, it would be inappropriate (and illegal) for me to delegate medication administration to a student. They are in training, but aren't fully trained for it; they don't hold the license and knowledge to complete the task on their own. Therefore, it wouldn't be delegation at all but sheer laziness/poor leadership on my part to give that particular task to a student and would cause me to lose my license (don't worry, I've never done anything like that, just an example). Similarly, it would be inappropriate for a physician to ask me to diagnose, treat, or perform surgery for a patient. I am not a doctor. I may know a lot, or even have a guess as to what might be occurring, but it is not within my scope of practice.

Now what, if anything, does this have to do with my relationship with God? There have been many times when I ask God to take care of things for me or work a miracle on my behalf. I think back to high school and the last minute essays that needed completion and praying that God would help me pull the all-nighter so I could finish it in time, or better yet, have the teacher kindly extend the essay so I could make the much-needed corrections. Thinking of those prayers still makes me laugh. Now those are perfect moments of sheer laziness on my part. Granted, God is capable of all things, but finishing my essay isn't appropriate delegation. Why? Because if I really believe that God created all things; knows all things; can do all things; created me in His image and likeness; and called me to care for and protect the world that He created, I think I can handle that essay. Besides, the "care for and protect" command that He gave to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden kind of means that He actually delegated the task to me first.

Does this mean, then, that I cannot ask God for guidance or help? As in all things, I think it matters more for the heart of the request versus a specific formula or law. It is how I ask God to help me in my time of need, whether that need is finishing laundry or something greater; is it with honor, awe, love? Or is it with a simple passing thought and command of 'do it for me because I just don't want to and can't be bothered.' A few questions I now try to ask myself before sending a request to God: Am I capable of completing the task before me? Have I been given sufficient Grace? Is the task greater and beyond the skills that I have been given? More often than not, I find that I am capable and do not need God's amazing intervention. That being said, there are times when I know that my patience has run thin, my energy out, and my spirit running dry. It is during these times that I ask God for the Grace to continue what I have started and complete it with love and compassion. And that is most definitely not delegation- it is asking for help and guidance when I am a little lost.

It is, as my wonderful friend and I discussed, elegation. It is lifting up a task and giving it to the appropriate person in order that it may be rightly fulfilled. There are many things that God has given me that I cannot rightly and correctly complete on my own. My son is the perfect example. God blessed us with the most beautiful, inquisitive, energetic, bubbly, loving, gentle, adventurous now 13 month old. My heart is filled with so much joy and love and awe at the little man that I am called to raise up as a son of God- his true calling and true Father. But with this little man come the most amazing moments where I need more than what I have. I need God's grace (which He has promised us; II Corinthians 12:9) in order to finish. Is that God being a chauvinist? On the contrary, it is God loving me and desiring for me to go further than I could have ever dreamed; to soar among the clouds when I thought I could only watch them from afar. Back to my son as an example, I desire for him to learn and experience different things. Right now, he needs my guidance and help. There are tasks and experiences beyond his abilities, but that doesn't mean that I withhold those things from him- he would never learn, never know, never get to experience it.

God desires us to be as He created us, images of Him. As we are sinful, prone to sin, and fallen, we need and require His aid in order to be raised up from our situations and ourselves. This means doing things and experiencing moments and joys, but also recognizing when something is beyond us and entrusting the treasure with God; elegating the task to God; knowing that everything He does is in goodness and in love for us. My son isn't something that I could have, create, or raise on my own. He is a gift from God; an opportunity to become more than I ever could have been on my own. Because of that fact, I need to rely on God. It is God who gave me this beautiful little boy; He delegated the task of raising his son. So, when my little boy requires more than what I have to give, I give the frustration, the anxiety, the stress, the worry, the situation, back to his Father. I trust that God will care for my son, love him, nurture and grow him, better and in ways that I cannot because I am finite and human. God is infinite. When I lose myself, let go of myself and the things in my life and offer them to God, that is when I truly find my life, all of the beautiful things in it, and they are exactly where they should be- in God's hands.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Wisdom to Follow Through

This evening I plopped our 9 month old E.G. into the bathtub prior to bedtime in order to get him cleaned up after a very messy dinner. Regardless of the time, bath time is always playtime for him. He crawls toward toys, pulls up on the side of the tub, grabs at the faucet, the usual infant exploration. It is always a new adventure for him and a new adventure for me as I try to keep him as safe as I can.

While I know he doesn't understand everything that I say to him in regards to safety, my hope is that he will begin to learn. I want to impart some of the knowledge that I have with him; share my experiences so that he might learn what to do and what not to do; be prepared to shine God's light in this darkened world that sells false promises and trinkets for your soul. With all of these grand images in mind, the awesomeness and wealth of information that the Lord has charged me to share in order to form my son, I was humbled this evening by a lesson that my son was charged to share with me.

After his bath was completed, I opened the drain to allow the tub to empty. E.G. was splashing away, seemingly oblivious to the slowly depleting water supply. As he was moving his hands down to splash the water, the drain got the better of him and his hands landed on the tub- no more water to sprinkle back on his face. Instead of reacting with a cry or startle or usual response of bewilderment and frustration, he simply moved his hands over and found water to splash. This pattern continued (splash, tub, splash, tub) until the drain finally commanded its victory and there was no more water for E.G.'s game to continue. After one last go for a splash, E.G. looked up at me and was ready to get out of the tub. No cry, no whine, simple satisfaction with the end of his game.

Seeing this got me thinking: How often do I give all of myself to a decision until the very end, even if it appears that there will be no reward for me? I have to admit, I am a pretty self-centered being. If I feel like I have done something wrong, might embarrass myself, or might fail at something, I usually stop dead in my tracks and don't continue on with the project. There have been many things that have been left by the wayside that could easily have been completed if only I'd chosen to do so. Would these completed tasks have changed the world? Probably not, but they would've changed me; even if only a little. For even in the smallest change, character is developed, lessons are learned, and responsibilities are completed.

Why then, do I fear failure? For what is truly ironic is that by not completing the tasks before me, I am failing. If I followed it until the end, even if the ending was not as I anticipated, it is still an ending and thus a win. Why must it be the big, the grandiose, the award winning accomplishment in order for me to complete some things? In truth, I demand more of the situations than is necessary. I have a feeling of entitlement that is undeserved: If I am to do it, it must be amazing and must only bring the utmost satisfaction. I become so laser-visioned on what I will look like, how I will be perceived, that I lose sight of the true meaning behind things. I forget that my actions are not for my glory, but for God's. And then I see my son, the beautiful gift given to Maic and me by God. I see his satisfaction, total, complete; nothing more; nothing less. His task is complete. It is good. When was the last time I had that sense of completeness and true, deep, calming joy and peace after I did something? The answer- when I completed God's task.

While E.G.'s game wasn't a breathtaking event that would transform the lives of millions, it was his dedication, his depth of inquiry/sense of wonder that was so incredible. I can only hope this reminder will stay with me so that I may continue to be humbled, amazed, and sensitive to the world, lessons, and responsibilities that God has placed before me and for the wisdom to follow through.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

During Times of War

Dear Soldier,

I want to start this letter the right way: Thank you. Thank you for your service to your country, to your family, and to my family. Thank you for your selflessness, courageousness, dedication, and perseverance during this time of war. Thank you for your patience and your understanding while your country reacts, at times, most ungraciously. Thank you for placing the most incredible gift, your life, on the line and standing for what you believe in- I cannot say that as a civilian, we can truly understand what that is like and the bravery that sacrifice takes.

I call you soldier because I do not know your name. There are so many soldiers, so many faces, so many persons that are now under the umbrella of military members-soldiers- that are fighting for my freedom. I wish I could get to know you. I wish I could see your face, look you in the eye, shake your hand, thank you in person, and ask you: What thoughts prompted your desire to join the military? What was it that moved your heart, stirred your spirit? Have you found what you were looking for? The sacrifices that you made to go through the programs, be trained for fights, the time away from home, touching war, facing death; how are you adjusting? Are you being fed physically, emotionally, spiritually?

While it may not always seem like it, please know that we care for you. We worry about you; worry about your families- both military and civilian. We want to take care of you. We want to hold your hand. We want to support you because without you, we wouldn't have this freedom, this life, this country. We want to support you because you are our brother, our sister, our husband, our wife, our mother, our father. I hope that you feel our love. I hope that you remember the majority- the random cards, the smiles, the handshakes, the baby wipes, the cookies. I hope you forgive and discard the minority.

Please know that we are praying for you. We ask for God to cover you from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet in His precious blood. He understands your sacrifice better than any other. He, too, placed his life on the line for his beloved, for his family, for his church, his bride. He, too, met with an enemy whose lies were great and tricks were many. He, too, faced opposition and hatred from those that were family and countrymen. So have faith, good friend, that you too will be lifted up. You will not be forgotten. You will not be left behind.

We love you, soldier.

God bless you.

Love always,

a U.S. Citizen

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Happiness or Holiness?

I have joined a Christian book club of sorts- we are reading Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas. While I didn't think that I would enjoy the book (I am more of a dominating, demanding, stubborn sort versus the mild and meek), our discussion on a reading today really blew me away. The question posed was "What if your husband's faults are God's tools to shape you?". Wow. The things that, at times, frustrate or hurt me are actually God's hands, God's power offering me an opportunity to change.

In our culture, the media is supersaturated with the idea that marriage is for your happiness alone. If you are not happy then you are free to leave. If you are not happy then you are free to bad-mouth your spouse, weep and bemoan your trials and suffering- for truly it is you right and appropriate course of action. While I agree that a critical eye is crucial in marriage, the criticism is not to be aimed at the husband or wife alone- it should be directed in a manner that searches and seeks the weakness or breakdown in the marriage (the communication, the time, etc) in order to strengthen it.

The criticism, however, should be constructed toward the action, not the person. Name calling, bad-mouthing, silent treatment, withholding relations or loving words are painful and not techniques to build a marriage that will last. There are two people in the marriage, and if you want change, you must start it yourself. For as Christ offered his life on behalf of his bride (the church, his children, you, me), he calls us to offer the same type of sacrifice- to die to our selfish desires in order to help strengthen and lift up our spouse.

I am going to be honest here- death to self hurts. It hurts my pride, especially when I feel that I am right. It stings my sense of justice to think that I am letting Maic 'get away' with certain actions or behaviors (not doing the laundry, dishes, honey-do lists, etc) that would be an act of sacrifice on his behalf for me. Why do I have to change- especially since it always feels like I am the one changing? Well, there are several responses to that loaded question:
1) I am not the one who is always changing, even though it can feel that way. Maic has sacrificed a lot on behalf of our family, and he does so with incredible grace, patience, fortitude, and charity. I see this every day as he gets up early to go to work so he can provide for our family and so I can stay at home with our son. That is only one example of his incredible actions of sacrifice.
2) Because of concupiscence (a lower desire that is contrary to reason), I know that I have chosen pathways that have lead me further from God. I am a sinner, I am not perfect, and I need to draw closer to God. To draw closer to God, I must change.
3) Another thought is that I can't expect Maic to change, to serve me, to do as I desire, if I don't desire to serve him. (Note: My doing something shouldn't be done in the hopes of his doing something in return. The action should be done simply for the desire of it's completion, not for the potential of repayment.)
4) Christ demands it of me. By choosing to be His disciple, I must imitate and emulate him. I must take up my cross. "38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10: 38-39) But what does that mean, exactly? That if I just pick up my cross (the laundry, dishes, etc) and do it, that I will be nailed and then quickly set free, that I will be happy and quickly holy? Don't I wish- that would be a fast track to sainthood. Christ may have ended on the cross, but he began in the garden of Gethsemane. He began on his knees, in sorrow and agony, asking for God to let the cup pass from him. But, he also acknowledged and prayed for God's will to be done. So, too, we must follow suit and pray to God. Sometimes He will take away the cup, but more often than not, it will still come and we must carry on, glorifying Him.
There will be times when we are whipped, and scourged; when we must take the crown of pride off of our heads, and wear a crown of humility, a crown of thorns. We will be charged to carry our cross. We will stumble and fall and God will help us back on our feet. He will send us a helper if the cross becomes too heavy; he will send our Mother along the path so we might remember we are not alone; he will send us Veronica to wipe the sweat and blood from our face to remind us of his love and compassion for us. Yet still, we will be nailed to the cross. It is not easy following and emulating Jesus. Jesus is perfect and he struggled. But with these struggles, holiness will come, and with holiness will come happiness. With each step forward, we draw closer to God and true happiness is achieved. If we seek only happiness, we will be filled only for a moment and sink back into sorrow. But, if we seek holiness, then true happiness will be found because the hole in our hearts will be filled with God.

Please don't think that my marriage is always a trial. Most days are wonderful and beautiful and it is so because we seek and do our best to keep God first and center in our marriage. It is through God that we are married, and through Him that we remain thus. We pray together, bless and pray over each other, and praise God together. The days that are difficult usually are the product of placing myself and my desires first and over the desires and designs that God has for our marriage. Marriage is built from two persons that become one flesh- so we must begin to think and dream in 'we' and not 'I' terms.

And, at the end of the day, we must remember to sing God's praise: For "we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us" (Romans 5:3-5).

So, thank you Maic, for helping me become a more godly woman each day; for loving God first and then loving me; and for allowing me to influence you to become a more godly man each day. I am truly blessed.

Monday, June 20, 2011

My name is Kamaya, and I am a stay at home mother

Wow! It's been 8 months since our last post, and in that time so much has happened. I would love to say that I have an amazing reason for not mentioning our comings and goings, but it truly comes down to the fact that I am not really much into the blogging world. I find the whole concept of connecting/reconnecting with far away loved ones wonderful, but personally, I wonder who really wants to know about my day; the ins and outs of a stay at home mother of one, plus a dog... But then again, when I was working as a nurse, I found my day much more interesting- worthy of a comment to share, worthy of my pride being built up by the things that I had done, worthy of sharing my mistakes with others so they could learn.

Why is it, then, that when my profession changes from nursing to raising a family that it becomes different? I know part is due to the insecurity of the position as a professional mom. When everyone asks, "What do you do for a living?" and the looks that follow when I say that I am a stay at home mom. Sometimes it feels like I am standing at an anonymous meeting where I am confessing my failings and addictions to the room. 

As a nation, we claim that we have 'freed' our women from the confines of the home, allowing them to share their knowledge and potential with the rest of the male dominated workforce in order that we may revolutionize our world. But when a woman desires to raise the children that God gave her, she is somehow failing the entire sex and enslaving them by her action. She is somehow being selfish, thoughtless and backward. Yet the truth of the matter is, motherhood is a profession that proves most difficult. Who really knows what a day in the life of a stay at home mother is like? What is it really like to raise a child from the beginning, seeing him/her through to adulthood and then some?

I challenge that it is more selfless, thought-filled and fruitful to invest oneself in the family that they participated in creating. It is fulfillment of one's responsibility and commitment; it isn't passing the buck to another; it is follow-through; it is following the path that God gave. 

Choosing this position, this incredible honor of raising my son, caring for my husband, taking an active part  in supporting our domestic church, took a lot of healing and leading by God. Staying at home is an incredible opportunity that, as a family during this day and age, I am blessed and am capable of accepting. We have made sacrifices for me to have this position, my husband working hard to provide for our family, but we make it work because we are following our dream and calling. I am lucky to have this opportunity to be a professional mom, where our house is not divided in order to keep afloat or alive. It also takes daily grace to get through the day and to stand with confidence when I say that I am a home maker, a child raiser and preparing God's child to stand as the future leader of our nation. Every day I change for the better: I gain more patience, love, insight to the amazing gift that God gave me in my husband and son.

So, if you care to learn about my favorite, challenging, breath-taking world, with it's amazing ups and downs, struggles, triumphs for the greater glory of God, read on. I claim no strength or wisdom of my own, only the grace, guidance, wisdom, and love from God.

"Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate."
Psalms 127:3-5 ESV