Friday, February 26, 2010

Sick


This is what my week has consisted of.


Miserable kids, miserable mom, and a poor husband who I so desperately rely on who has had to be at work from the early morning hours until very late at night.  I have been alone, exhausted, and very sick.  Each day brings new challenges, new moments of cleaning up after several people, including myself.  Spending hours scrubbing floors and shag carpet after another child has thrown up, only to throw up myself.  Hearing the desperate cries of "Help me, momma!" as a young one gets scared and sick again, and my heart breaks.  Trying not to throw up any more myself so that my contractions will stop.  Over-using my blessed, darling, oldest child, who can never begin to imagine what she does for me. 

But even in this bleak week, I have been uplifted.  Astonishingly, even in the mind-numbing madness of seemingly accomplishing nothing other than surviving, I have been so blessed to see my tremendous blessings.

Sometimes, I think it takes a week like this to make me stop and realize just how blessed we are, and just how truly little we suffer.

Oddly, it was a tremendously cold and wholly self-absorbed remark from a bitter person that brightened my week.  This person was so absorbed in herself, not only unaware of the hurting of so many others, but blatantly desirous to remain that way.  She was ridiculously selfish, shockingly unaware, and so tightly wound up in herself that I cannot imagine any light entering her heart.

At first, her remarks hurt me and angered me.  I wondered why, on this of all weeks, I had to encounter such a repulsive person.  But then, last night, in the middle of another string of endless days and nights where I have lied on the floor with my 8-month pregnant body, trying to rub two backs at once and comfort sick children, my own mind began to fill for a moment with selfish thoughts.

But almost instantly, I remembered this other person, so bitter and selfish.  I couldn't bear the thought of feeling like her.  I prayed for help and instantly joy and peace filled my heart.  I realized that I would ten times rather have this life, complete with this difficult week, than the lives of most other women around the world, women who truly suffer, as I have never had to.  I would rather have a miserable week if it means I am blessed with the husband, the children, and the open heart and mind that I have been given.

I felt such sorrow for the woman whose comments I had encountered.  Can anyone who is selfish like that feel any joy at all?  No.  Safety and security, maybe (albeit false).  But never joy.

Keep your ignorance and your safety, my dear, sad woman.  You have my complete sorrow.  I will take my sick children, my exhausted husband, and my difficult week.  With joy.  Because we are going through it together, and with a realization of our great blessings.  One of which is that I can now stomach a bowl of broth.

PS - Even in this hard week, wonderful things are unfolding.  I can't wait to tell you about them soon. :)

Honored


Last weekend, I was truly honored to receive the Outstanding Homelessness Advocate Award from the Family Tree organization.  It was a great honor, and truly goes to my entire family, as this has been a family endeavor for us. 

I do some volunteer work at a shelter for women and children in the Denver area.  It is an incredible experience for me, but it seems that I have shared my experiences with relatively few people before.  Perhaps it is because it is so personal to me.  Perhaps it is because I love the women there so much, that I don't want to make light of them by terming them as simply "volunteer work."

These women have lifted my soul and my own burdens.  I have learned far more from them than they could ever learn from our wonderful yoga sessions together.  And they have taught me, again and again, the power of hope, of a positive attitude, and of finding joy in womanhood.  They have taught me that it is worth it, to try to make a difference.  One small moment can change a life forever, just as they have changed mine.

When I spend time with them, my own blessings seem even greater, and my own troubles so much smaller.  My heart fills with hope again each time I go, as does my family's.  My girls see that other people are just as precious as they are, regardless of where they live or where they have been.  They also see their own tremendous blessings. 

They have also taught me, once again, that each of us has an abundance of some kind.  Each of us has something to give.  And miraculously, when we give of ourselves and our time, there is always plenty more for what we need to get done.

Blessed am I, to know these women.  I have found many dear hearts among them, and I will love and pray for them forever.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Niff

Lately, we've all had a round of colds, which has handed us a round of laughs from our littlest one. She can't say "sniff," but loves to talk about "having a sniff."

Instead, she says "niff," and I think it's the funniest thing ever. :)

video

Friday, February 19, 2010

Premonitions



I've been seeing this poor little face a lot lately.  It seems that it happens every time, in the preparing time before a new baby comes.  Sadness, confusion, frustration, and often outright despair seem to fall on the other children, particularly the littlest. 

This poor little one spends much of her day in tears, and some in anger.  I can see in her eyes that she is upset, frightened, and confused.  I can tell that ofttimes, she doesn't even know herself what she is crying for.  She just knows something is coming.  She is afraid and upset, and she doesn't know what to think. 

Today I took her in my arms and held her.  She resisted me at first.  She was too upset and felt angry.  But as I quietly held her and stroked her little curls, she gradually melted into my arms, and her cry changed from a wail to a soft, genuine, heartache cry.  I whispered to her that everything would be alright.  That she would love the baby.  That though things would be hard for a while, she would be glad for the change. 

As I held her, tears came to my eyes.  You see, lately, I've had a premonition, too.  At various times in my life, I've felt that something was coming.  Something difficult and perhaps frightening.  And lately, that feeling has returned.  My own heart has cried, and fear has been hard to push away from my mind.  I have thought of past things that happened when this feeling preceded them.  I never want to go through anything like any of those things again, and I have fought a sense of dread.  I'm happy with how things are.  I don't want anything to change.  I have pleaded in my prayers that I would be wrong, and that nothing difficult would come.  But the more I have resisted the future, the more I have resisted my own comfort.

As I held my daughter today, I could quietly, gently feel Someone else holding me.  As I hushed her fears and assured her that everything would be wonderful in the end, I felt those same whisperings in my heart.  As I quietly whispered, "Trust me, sweetie," I heard a whisper in my own mind.  "Trust Me, Ann." 

Suddenly, fear started to fade, and a remembrance that He knows more than I know came back to me.  Just as I know more than my littlest daughter right now, He knows more than me, His little daughter.  Just as I know that it may be hard for a little while on her, I know that this new little sister will bring her great joy, love, and companionship...such that she could never have known without her.  And just as He may know that whatever is coming may be difficult for me for a while, He also knows that it will make me a happier, better person in the end, just as these things always have.  As I look back on all of the past struggles, I am grateful for them, every single one.  Though they were painful and very difficult to undergo, each has brought me a joy and a growth I could never have had without it.
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice..." (1 Peter 4:12-13.)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Down

Do you ever get down?

Of course you do.

We all do.

I try so hard not to.  There are so many good things to do.  So much to be done.  So much light to feel and to give.

But some days, it just seems that everything builds up, that I keep making mistakes, that I keep bothering other people, that any number of things happen.

And on those days, it can be hard to keep trying.  It can be hard not to let the tears come to my eyes, and to not give in to the tiredness that I get so tempted to feel.  It can be easy to shut down, or to shut the rest of the world out and forget the good things that I am trying to do.

But tonight, after spending some time in Matt's warm arms and listening to his kind, loving voice, I realize again that my life is something special.  That all of our lives are.  And that days like today can't let us stop trying, or stop moving forward. 
"...but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before..." (Phil. 3:13)
I can't stop reaching forward.  Somehow, even on the darker days, I know there is light, hope, and a very bright future ahead.  I have something to give.  There is a reason I am here.

So I'll keep trying. :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Nakupenda


Today our family walked to honor the Congolese women who will be running soon.  It was a very cold and windy, but wonderful.


I love my family.  I love their compassion, their awareness, and their love.




As we walked in the mud and the cold, my mind was full of these beautiful women, and I longed to tell them, too:
"You've changed my life.  You've given me perspective and hope. 
 Nakupenda.  
Je t'aime.  
I love you." 
 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Run for Congo Women, Congo Style

Any of you acquainted with me at all know how important the Congo is to me, and the Run for Congo Women.  The suffering of women there is unimaginable to any of us here.  I have been trying to do all that I can to help them in my own way.

This year, for the first time, Congolese women who have been through the miraculous program that Women for Women offers, and who have been blessed and had their lives changed and saved, are reaching out to other women in the Congo, women who have been raped, tortured, and who have suffered just as they have.  They want to give hope and help to other women, just as it has been given to them.

On February 28th, Congolese women will participate in their first-ever Run for Congo Women.

What love.

I am moved and awed by these women...women who have been through the most horrific things I have ever heard of in my life, now wanting to reach out to other women and help them.

Among them will be this woman, Generose.

 
 (photo by Lisa Shannon)
She seems fine enough, right?

No. 

She has been through the worst I have ever heard.  (To read an article about her, go here.  To see a short video, go here.)  A militia killed her husband, began to rape her, cut off her leg, and killed one of her children.  The story is much worse than that, but the heart of the story is miraculous.  Through her sponsor through the Women for Women program, she has managed to find help and healing, and has been able to support her family.  

Even Generose, with only one leg, will be running with the other Congolese women. 

Before this miraculous event, many small groups are forming for their own runs or walks to show their love and support for the Congolese women and their upcoming run.  

Our family will be walking one mile for Congo Women this Saturday, February 13th.  If you are in the neighborhood, and want to walk along, let me know!  If not, why not gather your daughters, your sisters, your husbands, your friends, and walk with them?  (What a great way, so easy, to show your children that they can do something in the world!)  Or walk/run by yourself!  These women have been through so much, and have suffered so tremendously.  This is such a small thing that we can do for them.  

If you do decide to participate, please comment on my blog with information on what you did, or a link to pictures on your blog!  I'd love to see!  I'll also let you know how you can send the pictures to Lisa Shannon, founder of Run for Congo Women, who is in the Congo right now.  Before their run on the 28th, Lisa will be sharing the photos and messages of support with the Congolese women, to let them know how loved they truly are.  

Donations are welcome, if you like, and can be made at this page, but the main goal of this event is to show Congolese women that they are special, that we care, and that they are loved.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Two

Two years old.

When did that happen?


We had a lovely birthday with our new two-year-old yesterday. She is getting so big, and every day with her is a joy.

It seems that each day, and particularly birthday, with this little one reminds me of just how blessed we are, just how precious life is, and just how much we can do with the time we have been given. It's always a very poignant reminder to me of the massive difference in who I once was, and who I have been striving to become ever since she was born. I will forever be grateful for that.

She insisted on opening her presents with a bicycle helmet on her head. You never know what danger may lurk in a present... :)

Doing a happy dance because she got a Tinkerbell. :)



I made her a lady bug birthday cake, because she has somehow gained various insect-like names, such as "Buggy," "Bugs," and "Bugaboo." :)



Here is a little video of the candle-blowing and nearly-burnt fingers. :)

video
I'll love you and be grateful for you forever, my little Love. :) Happy birthday.




Friday, February 5, 2010

Yoga for Pregnancy

It's done! :) And now up on my website and on Amazon.com. :) Yay!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Good things to do

"Our opportunities to give of ourselves are indeed limitless...There are hearts to gladden. There are kind words to say. There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. There are souls to be saved."

-Thomas S. Monson