Saturday, November 07, 2009


Much like clouds turn black and winds start whipping up dirt and debris before a big storm hits, so it is with me and my emotions. But once that storm passes through and the torrential downpour washes away all the dust, the landscape is clean and refreshed.

I'm not at all proud to admit ~ although I am extremely thankful ~ that my husband can see the storm brewing within me before it hits, and he has become exceptionally good at ducking for cover. (Figuratively speaking, of course.)

When Charlie is having a tough time, he takes off for an afternoon bike ride and returns a new man. But that doesn't work for me. I can feel it building, building until my head explodes. The problem is that for the past several weeks, I've been having explosions, a lot.

Until - we went to Disney on our family vacation and we made a decision.

Finally, we had a plan and it was such a relief.

But just as we were starting to get excited about it, our plan totally tanked. When I considered the real estate loss - and the depressed job market - and my current schedule of seeing the children only briefly before I left for work in the early morning and kissing their sleeping cheeks when I returned home late at the end of a long day ... I started flipping out. Repeatedly.

Now that I'm on the other side of my flip out, I can see that I was being terribly selfish. MY plans weren't working out. Obviously, I wasn't getting what I wanted, so damn it all to hell with a side of coleslaw.

And ... that's just about the time God decided to step in with a heavy-dose of perspective.

Because this afternoon, when I came home early from a meeting, I noticed that one of our sponsored children, through Compassion International, had sent us a letter. Little Elvis lives in the mountains of Peru. He is five-years-old and was writing to ask us for prayers because the swine flu is sweeping through his village.

While I know that people die from the flu every year, the H1N1 strain has me really concerned. More than 25 people have died from it in San Diego since June, including a five-year-old girl who died last month.

We'll be taking the children in to the pediatrician next week for their five-year checkup. I plan to have them all receive the H1N1 vaccination at the same time. We're very fortunate because that vaccination is available to us. But it dawned on me today that even if our children fall ill this year, we are incredibly blessed to have clean water, electricity, Puffs Plus with Lotion, Tylenol, Gatorade, Jell-O and an excellent children's hospital less than 30 minutes a way.


Our friend Elvis lives in a tiny shack with his parents. His father earns in a year what I earn in an hour. When our children are sick, I can put them in the car and take them to the hospital. If Elvis or someone in his family is sick, it might take them days to see a doctor. But the most sobering thing is that of the four children we have sponsored, Elvis is the most well off by a long shot. Our children in Africa, Bangladesh and India are even poorer.


They have dirt floors in their homes and tin roofs that leak.

Huh. What is it again that I'm so mad about?

I'm having a really tough time remembering...

Sometimes, I think that the best thing I could with my life is get rid of everything and go on a mission trip. What an awesome learning experience for our children about what the really important things are in life and yes, Anita, I very well could be bipolar.

(Goodbye! Goodbye! I'm traveling around the world to deliver rice to remote mountain villages accessible only by llamas**. I promise to write!!)

So many of us are shielded from the world when we sit in the comfort of our own homes with electricity at the flip of a switch and clean water at the turn of a knob. Instead of recognizing and reveling in how lucky we are, we bemoan our circumstances.


At least for me, it is so easy to get caught up in having the houses - and cars - and 401Ks with matching contributions - and fancy new digital cameras. Which surely, those things are important - but relatively speaking - they are definitely not critical for survival. Especially when you are reminded that there are millions of people in the world who have absolutely nothing. Except their faith. Which I could definitely use a bit more of these days.

After reading your insightful comments (and e-mails) on my last post, I'm less inclined to run off and see a therapist, and more inclined to send each and every one of you a co-pay along with my most sincere thanks.

Truly, this blog is better than therapy.


If anyone is interested in learning more about Compassion International, I have added a widget to the top left corner of my blog. I have found it to be a wonderful organization that I would highly recommend.

Our children adore the new friends that they have made and I really appreciate that they are having such great exposure to cultures different than their own, while picking up an excellent lesson in caring for others.


EDIT: ** If you see that I spelled something totally wrong, please speak up!

Llama is two "L"s not an "I" and an "L". I'm not sure why I thought it was pronounced Ill-lama ... and not L-lama but when I'm writing a post at midnight, sometimes I don't pay very close attention to spell check. So when my husband points out the error, my husband who once spelled his own daughter's name wrong ("What you mean there's a Z in Elizabeth? I thought for sure it was an S!"), it feels like I've been walking around a cocktail party without realizing that the back of my dress was tucked in to my pantyhose.

I actually witnessed something similar to that once. I was at a concert and the poor woman had seats on the VERY front row. Just before the curtain came up and the lights were dimmed, she walked from the back of the PACKED hall to the very front, with her dress snuggly tucked in to the back of her hose. She was flocked by a group of women just before she sat down - and her reaction was awesome. Instead of passing out from embarrassment, she gave the audience a smile and a curtsy and then pulled the dress out before briskly walking back to the restroom.

Now, if that ever happens to you - you'll know what to do. Or you could just check your dress before you leave the bathroom. Or ... in my case, pay better attention to spell check.

(Smile. Curtsy. Dash back to the "edit post" button.)


  1. Jen, I am sending you a life jacket for your next hormonal tidal surge. Take up kickboxing. It will help you release some of the pressure.


  2. I have been reading your blog for a while and I think you are an amazing woman! Yes, there are a horrendous number of people who are suffering all over the world. Some suffer physically, others emotionally, some spiritually and others financially. You can't beat yourself up over all the ills in the world. You are one person. You are doing so much and are an example to your children and all your readers with donations,fundraisers and walks/runs to help others who suffer from disease and poverty. We can all do our parts in our own way to touch the lives of others for good. But that does not mean that you should feel guilty about enjoying your life with your family. You have had the privilege of having an education that you have worked hard to obtain and a family you struggled and prayed for and spent much money and anguish to conceive. Enjoy the fruits of your labor and keep on being you! Thanks for being the example that you are to me!


  3. CI is a wonderful organization. My youth group growing up sponsored a young girl in Africa.

    Glad to know that things are a bit brighter today. It's always a wonder how when we need perspective, God sees fit to provide us with a healthy dose of it.

  4. we also have an child we sponsor, and it humbles me how she and her family have so little...but have so much happiness and love and togetherness.

    I wrote a very whiny post on my blog a few months ago regarding not having the digital camera I wanted, and that night my husband and I watched "Slumdog Millionaire" and I immediately hit the delete button on my post. I think it's so easy to forget the blessings we DO have and not focus on what we don't.

    I have had H1N1 since september and it has morphed into all sorts of secondary infections- and if i had not had access to antibiotics to fight those infections, i would probably be dead. my oldest daughter now has fallen sick...and i am so grateful we live 5 minutes from a highly rated hospital.

    we are so fortunate. thank you for reminding me of that!

  5. MAN...I used to live in a little shack with no running water and for insulation we used to gather sod and pack it real good around the sides of the house and on the roof in the summer...and uh, we had a dirt floor, until it got too cold, then we put that pink board stuff on the floor and it was warmer. Uh, and I'm 32, and I lived in AMERICA at the time!

    I always find it funny when people don't know that people still live like that in our country. We still have entire villages up here in AK with NO RUNNING WATER or sewer. And kids (IN THE ARCTIC) who run around with no shoes on and look just as disheveled as those in the "3rd world countries."

    But, don't worry about me, I'm "rich" now, cause I have a house on stilts (keeps the cold away) and running water and sewer and I can hunt my own food and wipe my own butt. (I had to throw that in there!)

    Oh, and I'll be expecting my $50 co-pay for this therapy session!

    :) Glad to see that God is putting you in your place. I am going through that RIGHT NOW!

    (P.S. here in Kotzebue they won't give you the H1N1 flu shot unless your name is on "the list" and my name, nor my children's names are not on the "the list" so we don't get it unless we get on a plane 600 miles away and go to wal-greens for it. And, the CDC just sent out a report stating that in this region of AK over 70% of people have had the H1N1 flu already.)

    Remind me about why I live here again!? haha. Oh yeah...cause its COOL!

  6. $50 copay!! Are you kidding?! The most I've ever paid is $30.00!! How 'bout I just send you a bracelet instead? I'm hoping to get the second batch sent out w/in the next few days...

    While I know that you have running water now, I've actually seen a blog written by someone who doesn't. It's downright incredible to me that they have internet access but no sinks or indoor plumbing!

    Priorities ... priorities...

  7. It's not the dirt floor or tin roof. It's the lack of education, clean running water and health care. I should be doing more. Thanks for the info on Compassion International!

    I think I'd take the internet over running water... it's a library on your lap.

  8. I think everyone understand your pain, you are right its not life or death that we are dealing with here in the USA like in other countries but still a persons problems are a persons problems and I would feel like you if thats all I was getting to see my kids too. Plans that don't work out, thats awful, yes IVF sent us for a long loop too. So even though your problems might feel petty when it comes to life and death I think we can all understand why you are so frusterated.

  9. Perspective is easy to lose. Thanks for the reminder.

    I grew up in Bangladesh. My grandmother's house had dirt floor and a tin roof. She was actually rather well off. If your sponsored child has those, they are of course still in need, but better off than the truly impoverished of B'desh.

    I spent a year of my childhood living with my mother in the orphanage she ran in rural Bangladesh. Again, the children I lived with were poor, but not the poorest. The orphanage provided them with food, shelter, and vocational training. The truly poor were the families who slept in the fields and dug through the garbage to find something to eat, often finding nothing.

    We can all do our part to make things a little better, and you do.

  10. Dude...send me a bracelet. I'll take a picture of it at the Arctic Circle. :)

    (P.S. I never knew I was poor, because we had lots of books and lanterns to read them by. I never ate a processed meat or "wonder" bread until I was pretty much in School and they forced us to eat them for lunch. Anyway, my parents made me feel rich, and now that I have lots of "stuff," I don't feel nearly as rich as I did when I was growing up. )