Friday, December 15, 2006

4 weeks to go

36 weeks: It came so fast. The holidays really help speed things along in the final trimester. Maddie continues to stay head-down, feet in my ribs or poking out toward the side. Her movements are slower, more controlled, though sometimes at night she still dances around, hands and feet both moving to her own little beat. When she really stretches her legs out, I like to tap or tickle the bottoms of her feet and feel her move them around. It's so fun to interact with her.

Today is my last day of work...maternity leave, here I come! I will probably spend my first week off sleeping like a log. I seriously cannot get enough sleep these days. Thankfully Maddie is super quiet at night and so I've been getting good, hard sleep (at least until I have to turn over). I've been so blessed to get some rest in these weeks. I think we've been going so hard for so long that my body just shuts down at night in order to be ready for the next day. I cannot wait to be off work, relaxing at home, preparing for Christmas.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

down but not out

At my 33 week check-up yesterday the doctor confirmed that our little one has migrated into the head-down position. We knew she had moved somewhat because her little movements are in totally different areas than before. Mostly she likes to curl her toes around my ribs and hang out like a little baby bat.

Last Friday she assumed such an awkward, protruding position along my left side that we thought she might just pop through my skin and onto the bed, like a little projectile baby. I've heard crazy stories, but when you actually see your belly bending and stretching beyond any of your wildest imaginings, you finally understand just how crazy this pregnancy thing really is.

Ben took a picture, but it doesn't quite capture the feeling (ouch!) nor the hilarity of the event. She actually assumed the position twice before settling into her current c-shaped arrangement. Since our doc confirmed the position now Ben can sing and conversate with her without wondering if he's talking into her little bootie.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Giving Thanks

I have an amazing family, and for them I am truly grateful.

A few pictures from the big day:

3 pregnant cousin's wife at 25 weeks, my sister-in-law at 24 weeks and me at 32 weeks

My hubby, who is quite the pushover for our little niece...can you imagine how he'll be when Maddie arrives??!!!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Why Oh Why... they make flesh-colored speedos?

Since we started training for our triathlon last January, I've been frequenting a local pool to swim a few times a week. Since I've been pregnant, it's been a great way to get exercise without overworking my heartrate or joints.

Which brings me to my current dilemma: Why do grown men (old grown men, at that) think it is okay to wear flesh-colored speedos, let alone wear speedos at all? As if it weren't bad enough seeing these men several times a week at the pool, a recent occurrence made me want to hang up my goggles altogether.

Flesh-colored Speedo Old Guy (hereafter referred to as FSOG) undresses right on the pool deck, and on the first occassion in which I first laid be-goggled eyes on him, I thought to myself, "the guy left his undershorts in his sweatpants." But, upon closer inspection, I realized that no, in fact, he was wearing what I now know to be the aforementioned speedos.

As if this wasn't enough to make me want to switch lanes (let alone pools), FSOG is also a splasher. There are a few annoying swimming styles which happen to find the open lane right next to me every time (much like the phenomena in which you find yourself at the grocery store, always behind the person who forgets a certain item and leaves their cart in front of yours to run back to aisle 1,072 and return 3 weeks later). Anyway, among the most annoying styles are FSOG aka "the splasher," green speedo guy aka "the water plow" and "Olympic Hopeful" nos. 1 and 2. All of them swim in such a way as to move the greatest amount of water from their lane into mine, filling my open, breathing mouth with buckets of chlorinated H20.

But I'm getting away from the real story. Just when I though I'd seen it all, I found myself swimming along (quite well, despite my 7-month pregnant belly) in the deep end of the pool. Basic pool etiquette (not unlike public bathroom stall etiquette) led me to choose a lane at least once removed from the swimmers on either side. To my right, one open lane between me and the rope. To my left, 3 open lanes between myself and Olympic Hopeful no. 2. Guess what lane FSOG chooses? The one between me and the rope. As I returned to the side of the pool, I thought to myself, I'll just have to move over a lane, not as much to keep etiquette as to avoid drowning in only 10 feet of water.

As I neared the edge, FSOG dove in, not only splashing me with lots of water (a given), but giving my de-fogged goggled eyes a clear, open glimpse of his old, fleshy, hairy crack above the top of his old, stretched-out, flesh-colored speedos.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

when did i become such a naughty blogger?

I think about this blog all the time. I read blogs every day. But I can't seem to bring myself to my own blog to type anything worthwhile.

My life has been a little crazy lately. I think I have a mild case of compassion fatigue, or the exhaustion that comes from caring for others all the time. I mean, caring is my job, it's what I do. It's what I enjoy, for the most part. But it can get overwhelming.

I thought I would break down this past weekend, when it felt as if everything had bubbled to the surface: mom's cancer and treatment options, taking my licensure exam, opening new cases, leading a support group at church...the list went on and on. I found myself actually dreading the thought of listening to one more person's sad story and providing compassion. I'm so ashamed to admit that, but there you have it.

That was Sunday. Today is Wednesday and I'm feeling a lot better. I purposefully kept my schedule light this week so as to avoid overwhelming myself with client stories. I've scheduled in time to study for my exam (long story---rescheduled for next week). I'm not feeling so fatigued and I think I've been a pretty good counselor to a handful of kids this week.

Pregnancy is hard work; don't let anyone tell you any different. I think that the emotions of pregnancy coupled with the month I've had led to the feelings of exhaustion described above. But more than hard work, pregnancy is a constant source of joy. This little bean, who moves all the time, never ceases to make me smile and even laugh out loud. I wonder what she's doing in there when I feel multiple taps to the left, or a lot of firm stretching in the front. The last few weeks she's been kicking me hard, multiple times in a row, so others have been able to experience her movement. This morning she was moving slowly, rubbing some little body part against my hand which was pressed against the upper part of my belly.

This morning I told my hubby that I hope it's not vain to be so in love with my belly. I don't even think of it as me any more, but rubbing, touching, talking, cuddling, cupping the belly are all ways of connecting with and showing affection to the little one within. It is so blessed. I am so blessed.

Monday, September 11, 2006

and because a baby update is needed

I had such good intentions for writing frequently, as I'm sure most bloggers do. But I find myself with less and less interesting things to write about. Who wants to hear about my growing belly besides a few dedicated Maddie-Fans? (Considering they're the only ones reading this blog, I guess it's not such a bad thing I'm pregnancy-obsessed).

22 weeks and feeling great! Pregnancy seems to suit me well, and I feel good most days. There are some stretching pains but they are infrequent. Madeleine likes to hang out on one side of my belly, especially when I've been sitting for a while. But she'll move if I get up and walk around or rub my belly where she's balled up. Sleeping improved greatly when I purchased my deluxe plush body pillow from Costco for $11.99 (eat your heart out, pregnancy pillows)!

Madeleine moves all the time, and it still catches me by surprise and makes me giggle. In the early morning, she often wakes me up with gentle yet pronounced kicks to my side. Ben has been able to feel her during these morning exercise routines, and it is fun to snuggle with his hand cupping my side, both of us laughing with amazement at her movement. He also talks to her frequently, telling her all about his day. Our poor dog Hanalei always tries to wedge her way in when he talks to the belly, as his voice is high and sing-songy, much like the "daddy voice" he uses with her.

The nursery is nearly done: walls painted, peg rail hung, pictures up, crib and dresser in place. We still have to get new closet knobs and Ben's mom is working diligently on our crib bedding. I feel great that we are well ahead of the game and we did it early enough that I was able to help out.

We found out sad news last week. My mom has been diagnosed with breast cancer, so we await a more precise prognosis and surgery details. For a few days I was in quite a funk, but I started to feel people's prayers set in and an overwhelming sense of peace has been with me lately. One thing infertility has taught me is to be patient and to trust the One who created me. I totally trust that he who began a good work in my mom will be faithful to complete it. And I trust that he is a God of healing. So I cling to these truths and do my best to be strong and prayerful for my mom.

September 11th

I've read a lot of 9/11 posts in the past few days, as well as newspaper articles, and last night I watched a 9/11 TV documentary while babysitting for our friends. Even my alma mater is seeking bits about where people were on 9/11. So here's my story...

September 11th, 2001 was my first day of graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work in Philadelphia. After a few years of working in children's grief, I knew I wanted and needed a graduate degree to do what I wanted most--provide support and hope for grieving children and families. As I rode the train into the city, I looked forward to the day when I would have my degree and be able to fulfill my calling.

As I walked into my second class of the day in our small, old building, the TV showed a scene of a tall building smoking. I turned to another student and asked what was happening, to the extent of "is this for real?" He didn't know much, other than a plane had flown into one of the World Trade Center towers in New York. (Not being from the East coast, I had no idea what I was seeing--how my perspective changed that day) We watched, mouths agape, as other students filed in and immediately turned toward the TV.

My professor arrived, watched TV for a few minutes, and then turned it off and suggested we start class. The discomfort in the room was palable--were we really going to try and focus on learning when a major disaster was occuring in our backyard? It wasn't 15 minutes before someone popped their head in the door to say classes had been cancelled and it was recommended that all students and staff vacate the school.

My friend and I walked hurriedly and quietly, unsure of what to say in such a time. Upon arriving at the train station, we were informed that all trains in and out of Philly had been cancelled due to the terrorist attacks. I phoned my husband on my cell phone and asked that he and my friend's husband come to get us right away. I remember that my cell phone kept saying "All circuits are busy." So when I called my parents I used my calling card and a payphone. As my parents lived on the West coast, and we were far away in the East, I called to let them know that the attacks had happened close to where we were, but that we were all safe. My mom was grateful for the call, but didn't seem alarmed. (She told me later, upon watching a news report on TV, she burst into tears when they announced Philadelphia as a possible target for the attacks. My family simply had no idea how close things are out East.)

After reaching our husbands and making a plan for pickup, we ducked into a nearby bar to watch TV and find out more information. The bar was silent except for the TV and a few people trying half-heartedly to crack jokes and lighten the mood. All of us stood, transfixed, eyes toward the few TVs in the place. Tears rolled down cheeks of those around me. I just couldn't believe this was happening. My safe, secure world became suddenly so strange and surreal. I remember wanting so desperately to be home in Sandy, Oregon, where terrorists had no targets or interests.

Our husbands arrived in a short 45 minutes, much to our surprise. We expected that the roads would be packed with traffic given the movement en masse from the cities. That afternoon, we hooked up our TV (for the majority of our married life--6 plus years--we've not had TV, a conscious choice that started to improve the quality of our studying and eventually became a commitment to spending quality time together). For days, weeks even, we were hooked on the news reports. They showed the same scenes over and over: planes crashing, towers falling, people running away from ground zero crying, screaming, and covered in white ash.

In the weeks to come we realized just how great the impact of 9/11 was on our community. People in my class lost loved ones in the attacks. Families in our church lost fathers. The couple I baby-sat for regularly had multiple funerals in a few short weeks because so many of their friends and colleagues died.

This couple wanted so badly to protect their children (ages 3 and 6 months) from the horrible reality of the terrorist attacks. They didn't turn on their TV except at night while the children slept. They spoke to me in code about funeral arrangements and the extent of their grief. And they tried their hardest to keep their toddler safe from the confusion, sadness, and terror gripping his small Jewish school and community where so many lives had been lost. But I remember so distinctly that one afternoon as I sat on the floor with this little guy, he was acting out the very events of that day. He would use large red cardboard blocks to build a "tall tower" and then fly his small grey plane into the side, sending the blocks tumbling to the ground. I sat silently beside him as he repeated this action over and over and over.

In that moment, I knew that life had changed dramatically not only for me, but for everyone whose life would be touched or shattered by this tragic day. And it renewed my commitment to my calling, to the anticipation I felt that first day of school on 9/11. Death will always be a part of life; grief will forever be a reality. Counseling will always be one way to provide hope. And healing will always be possible.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

over the hump

We've made it past twenty weeks, past the halfway point. And boy, does it feel good. Today we went in for our level II ultrasound and it might well be one of the happiest and most amazing times of my life. For the first time, going into this ultrasound, I really had no fears. I knew that what is growing inside is perfect and complete. Of course the u/s confirmed this for me, and now we are the proud owners of 16 beautiful shots of our beautiful daughter (which of course we will share with the grandparents).

I didn't expect to cry in the sonographer's office, but as I stared at our lovely little one, I was so overwhelmed with gratitude and amazement that I couldn't help but let the silent tears come. God is so good to give us this perfect gift. Our sonographer found out that my hubby is a pastor and she revealed she, too, is a believer. Throughout the u/s she kept saying how "beautiful" and "perfect" our baby is, and "what a gift" and "blessing" she will be to us. Near the end, she made us promise to bring the baby back to visit. At the end of the hour, I gave her a big hug without even thinking about it. She who had been a perfect stranger at 9am became an intimate friend by 10.

The creation of a human being is something I cannot comprehend as mere science. No, her body is a perfect miracle, of such detail and intricate design that it boggles the mind. Her strong, beating heart with an opening in the aortic septum that closes at birth. A placenta that delivers and screens and filters all necessary nutrients she needs for 40 weeks. A brain with clearly distinguishable hemispheres. Little, soft mouth that opens and closes and drinks in amniotic fluid. Stomach, kidneys, liver, bladder--all in working order. Unbelievable. Don't even get me started on her daddy's turned up nose and gorgeous profile. I can't stop bragging and she's not even here!

I don't know how we can possibly wait 20 more weeks to meet her.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

more dreams

It was inevitable. Every pregnant blogger I follow (and believe me, there's lots) at some point has written about their whacko dreams. So far my nighttime meanderings have been extremely complex and also very memorable. I've had some very sweet and wonderful dreams, and also some strange ones that play off my most extreme fears and insecurities.But the past few nights I got into the just plain weird.

I won't bore you with the details of my bizarre dreams, other than to say that two nights ago my baby was the size of a small hampster and last night's dream involved a deformed newborn who talked and disappeared bit by bit with each wipe of her breastmilk poop-covered tooshie. It was the type of dream where midway through, my conscious mind said to my unconscious mind, "I know this is just a freaky pregnancy dream. Real babies might be born with physical deformities, but they don't talk or disappear when you wipe their booties."

The rest of the dream my conscious and unconscious minds played tennis, volleying back and forth between somewhat real and completely surreal. The poop was definitely "real"--yellow, seedy and all over the place. Finally finishing cleaning up the poop and putting a diaper the size of a band-aid on my now itsy-bitsy baby: not real. Actually, after I put the band-aid on, my baby turned into one of those old school, paper punch-out, dress-up dolls, the kind where the clothes wrapped around the flat, skinny lady with little white tabs. Freaky.

But there were real elements of the dream as well. At one point I distinctly said to my talking newborn, who had just asked about me the extent of her deformities, "I love you just the way you are." And I really meant it.

That part of the dream is probably the most significant. If you look at what most first-time moms worry about, it's that something will be wrong with their child. Will I make it through the first trimester? Is the nuchal fold okay? What will the blood tests say? 20-week ultrasound normal? Growing at the same rate as other babies? 10 fingers and 10 toes? The fears and worries are nearly constant, and I know from my friends who are moms that the worrying never stops. But what it always comes down to is that no matter what, I do and I will love this baby more than ever possibly imagined. You cannot put a limit on a mother's love, no matter what the outcome. Very rarely do we have "perfect" children. As a matter of fact, I have yet to meet a perfect child.

So I say, bring it on dreams. Let my conscious mind put the unconscious in its place. This baby was loved well before she anything more than a clump of cells growing and dividing.

Friday, August 11, 2006

dreaming of you

Dear Little One,

Last night I dreamt of you. The dream began with the realization that you were crying in an upstairs room. When I reached you, your head and neck were wet with tears and frustration. I picked you up and you nuzzled into my neck and chest, calming immediately with what can only be described as familiarity. I knew instinctly that you recognized my smell, my heartbeat, the sound of my voice and the shape of my body.

It was the first time I held you, and once you were still I couldn't keep from admiring every piece of your perfect, beautiful face. You had wispy brown hair that curled away from your face, almond shaped newborn-grey eyes, the sweetest button nose and full, kissable lips. Maybe it's vain, but you looked like me, and I know because I was specifically checking to see whether your dad's or my features found their way to your tiny face.

I kissed your face and your lips over and over, letting you suck on my lower lips and "kiss" me back, laughing at your hungry innocence. As I carried you down the stairs, your dad came to meet us and we couldn't believe how blessed we were to have you in that moment. Every wish, every dream fulfilled in a tiny, perfect, precious little baby.Our baby. Our friends were all gathered around, waiting to see you and welcome you home.

The dream ended as I made my way to a comfy chair to nurse you for the first time. I couldn't wait to hold you to my skin and provide you with the nourishment you sought, rooting around at your hand and my face as we approached the chair. Your father walked carefully beside us, moving things out of the way, clearing the chair, and smiling the biggest smile I've ever seen on his face.

It was the sweetest dream I've ever had the pleasure of dreaming, and when I woke to my own bed I wasn't sad the dream had ended. I cupped my hand around your small shape in my belly and fell back asleep, dreaming of the wonderful days ahead.



Thursday, August 03, 2006

is it a him or a her, a ma'am or a sir?

At our 16 week appointment yesterday we got to hear the baby's heartbeat again. According to our doctor, it's "perfect!" I started to giggle and the heartbeat got all covered up by spasmodic static. :)

After answering a few questions, my doctor (the best ever) said "how about we take a look and see what we can see in there?" I about jumped off the table into his arms I was so happy! He told us to wait while he checked into the availability of an ultrasound room and the hubby and I danced around the room, so thrilled to see our little peanut again and *maybe* find out the sex.

I had wanted to ask about the possibility of an ultrasound, but just recently the staff hung posters ALL OVER the office saying that they offer one ultrasound to confirm pregnancy in the first trimester and the next u/s happens at 20 weeks with the perinatalogist. I figured they must have been getting lots of requests for ultrasounds in order to place these posters up everywhere. So the fact that Dr. W offered, well we were just beside ourselves with joy!

First of all, let me just say how nice it is to leave the transvaginal probe behind and move onto the more commonly recognized transducer wand which is placed on the OUTSIDE of the belly. Happy part number one.

The baby was so active the entire time, moving arms and legs and turning and dancing around in there. We weren't sure we'd get to see anything because little peanut had its legs firmly pressed together for most of the ultrasound, as in "there's nothing to see here, folks, move along." Our doctor tapped the u/s transducer around on my belly a few times to try and get those legs separated...and for a split moment, they opened.

Based on the doctor's short glimpse, we think it's a....GIRL! But we're not sure, so he told me to just come in again next week and have another look. Is my doctor not the most wonderful and amazing OB there is?

I could have stayed on that table all day, just watching with awe as the little one darted around and moved all her appendages for us to see. I can see why rich people (like Tom and Katie) buy their own sonogram machine, because you could seriously get addicted to watching the baby flit and flutter about. At least I could. I can't wait to go back.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Fabulous Fifteen Weeks and Super Sober Prego Woman

My girlfriend's bachelorette party was this past weekend at a lake a few hours away. It was a great relief to be near the water for a few days while it was 112 degrees at home. Yikes. The weekend was pretty much like high school--me the responsible non-drinker, winding about the festivities like a mother hen keeping track of all her wandering chicks.

As we left the small town bar at around 1:30 a.m. Friday night/Saturday morning, a number of concerned people were approaching the group of us, wondering how we could possibly make it home safely. Little did they know that my cocktails that evening had consisted of 4 glasses of water and two Shirley Temples, making me Super Sober Prego Woman! It was quite a sight to see me driving the whole lot of them home in someone's Ford F-350 Turbo Diesel king cab truck. Hilarious. I can definitely say that I am not one to be mother to multiple girls. Too much drama for this mama!

On Saturday morning, upon waking after less than five hours of sleep, I had a cup of tea and, as is my normal routine, took my prenatal and colitis meds as I prepared to eat breakfast. Well, the meal ended up taking longer than I predicted and I ended up throwing up for the first time this pregnancy! As I sat over the porcelain ring, I thought to myself, "Now this just isn't fair. I didn't even DRINK last night!" But a few minutes and some breakfast bites later, I felt much, much better.

All in all, I'm feeling much more like myself. Other than a few encounters with morning nausea in the past week, I've felt good. The other night I was hugging my hubby and he noticed something had come between us...the baby has already wriggled its way into the middle of our lives in the form of a belly bump. Too cute for words (the baby, not the expando belly).

I ordered some swatches online last week and they arrived in the mail. We're starting to plan out the baby's nursery, and I couldn't be more thrilled. This is exactly what I've been waiting for these past few years--the planning, the shopping, the preparations. It's all too wonderful.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

where do you land?

So this was an interesting experience:

You are a

Social Moderate
(55% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(15% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

post-vacation glow

Oahu was was exactly the babymoon we needed. Restful, relaxing, and fun! It's amazing what a few days in paradise does for the soul. Lots of swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, boogie boarding, eating, walking, resting...and all of it together. :) I even managed to avoid getting a sunburn this time, just a slight tan. Though I'm no match for my brown hubby, who's had three weeks off to work on his lovely color.

There were lots of prego ladies and small babies on the island. It made us yearn for our little one more than ever. We'd gaze down at the little bump and say "we can't wait for you to come!" Granted, we want him/her to stay in there until good and ready, but the feeling of anticipation grows with each day. We hope to get started on the nursery in the next month or so, which will make things very real and very fun. And less than six weeks until we find out the sex of our baby...though we've been feeling the girl vibe lately.

Last night I talked to my sister-in-law and found out that theyr'e expecting their 3rd in March--just 7 or 8 weeks behind me. So at future holiday gatherings we will have 3 new babies to add to the bunch, with my cousin's little one due about the same time as my new niece/nephew. The family is super excited!

Not much else going on. I know that I'll have to talk with my clients soon about being pregnant, which makes me sad. I hate to be one more person to leave these kids, who've been abandoned so many times. It breaks my heart, yet I know that they need to have "good" goodbyes as a model to balance the many goodbyes that have been out of their control. I'm hoping and praying that there will be smooth transitions for all of them, and my own feelings of abandoning them won't negatively affect the work we can do in the next 5 months.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

woosh woosh woosh

Today we heard the baby's heartbeat at our 12-week prenatal appointment. So very cool! I'm glad to be leaving the first trimester and venturing into the rosy glow of pregnancy stage. The nausea has all but disappeared...I haven't felt sick for almost 2 weeks. The only symptom I seem to have right now is an expanding waistline. A little bit of baby, a little bit of mama, as my friend used to say. It didn't help that I could only stomach carbs for 4-5 weeks there. Oh well. I'm so happy the baby is healthy and we're well on our way into month 4. Due date: January 15.

I found out this morning that my cousin and his wife are pregnant with their first, and I'm so excited. My mom and aunt are already planning a joint shower later this year. :) I'm happy for my mom to have her sister to enjoy the journey with! Even though it's not my mom's first grandbaby, I know she couldn't possibly be any more excited about this one.

We leave for Hawaii in two days! I can hardly wait. Good friends hooked me up with some pregnancy shorts and skirts to help me breathe a little more freely while on vacation. Thanks Kelly and Kara! Most of all I'm looking forward to just relaxing with my hubby, to catching up with each other and loving each other and enjoying all tropical paradise has to offer: sunsets, snorkeling, chichis and pupus, beautiful dancing and music, boogie boarding, swimming, mid-day naps, and loads of sunshine. We figure we're setting a good precedent for our little one, considering their first trip to Hawaii is at only 3 months of life. :)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

out of the closet

Well, I made it past 11 weeks without telling the whole world. I came out at work today, after weeks of holding it in! Everyone was so happy and excited, and it was nice to share the news.

Already they're planning my Latina Mama baby shower...I'm hoping they forgo the cerveza and sexy Latino stripper, as I've heard of both elements being included in previous parties.

It's a relief to be out in the I don't have to hold in my belly every time I'm walking past the veteran mamas (who had their suspicions well before this morning). I don't have to make lame excuses for being sick, cranky, rude, or frequenting the bathroom. And I'll finally get some much-deserved pregnancy sympathy. Ahhh.

Our next ultrasound is a week from today. We should be able to hear the baby's heartbeat. :)

On another note, my mom and I just returned from a whirlwind weekend in Chicago, where I was speaking at a conference. We had a great time, but unfortunately I came down with a cold shortly before leaving. It made for rough nights of sleep in a foreign bed. But we saw a lot of the city including the L, the Magnificent Mile, Milennium Park, Lake Michigan, Wrigleyville, the Theater District (where we watched Wicked--awesome), Lincoln Park...and all in just four days! No wonder we're so exhausted.

Hubby and I also planned a last-minute trip to Hawaii in a few weeks...a babymoon! We really need the time away together, and where else to go but tropical paradise? We leave a week from Friday, and I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

9 weeks 1 day

I've managed to make it into week 9 of the 40 week sojourn. Things seem to be a little bit better. I still get nauseous, though not as frequently and not as severely. I can manage the queasiness best with ongoing snacking. That, and Ben's grandma provided some preggie pops which seem to help when driving and feeling yucky.

I tried on some maternity jeans this weekend. Crazy. Obviously, I basically have no belly. But there is something a little poochy there (not as in a small pink dog, Poochie, but as in sticking out somewhat). And the pants that fit 3 weeks ago...yeah, feeling a little snug by the end of the day. Maybe it's just the extra gas that tends to build up by 6pm. By 10pm I can look really pregnant.

I'm excited to share the news, but I'm waiting until week 12. My doctor says that it doesn't get any safer than this, having seen the peanut with normal growth and a strong heartbeat. But it's kind of still our little secret, our little surprise. I walk around each day smiling inside, knowing something everybody else doesn't (other than friends and family and faithful blog readers, who have known from the get-go).

I find myself marveling over every little detail I read in my pregnancy books. My little one has arms and legs and fingers and toes and tooth buds even! Everything the baby needs to function outside of its warm and cozy cocoon is already present. Arms and legs are moving, but I can't feel a thing. It's so incredibly marvelous. I think this is a tiny little taste of what God feels when he looks down at his creation--the sense of wonder, of awe, seeing each little detail unravel like a flower opening toward the sun.

This morning I was going for a swim, loving the warmth and buoyancy of the pool, thinking about my little one swimming and floating in the lovely pool inside my womb. How nice it must be to be surrounded by warm liquid, floating, sounds muffled, the world outside a quiet mystery.

Sigh. This is as wonderful as I expected it to be.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

with any luck, peanut will resemble these beauties

It's plain to see that my brother and sister-in-law have given us some tough competition in the cute children category.

we have a go

Had our 8-week ultrasound yesterday. It was incredible. I had my fears going in, but once that picture came up on the screen, it was instant relief.

A baby. A hearbeat. Life.

It's been pretty real to me for the last 6 weeks, but for Ben to see that little peanut on the screen, it was like insta-wuv. He must have mentioned to me 3 or 4 times last night, "I just keep seeing our little baby with its beating heart!"

Yes, we are officially twitter-pated with the little one.

God is so good.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

writer's blog

It's happened. My original goals of updating my blog frequently have turned into infrequent entries. I read other blogs every day. Other people are coming up with very interesting, comical, touching, and insightful things to say on a daily basis. I am not one of those people.

On the baby front...I'm almost to week 8. We have our first ultrasound on Tuesday. I'm so excited to see the little peanut(s) and hear the heartbeat. It seemed like *forever* when I scheduled it 4 weeks ago. But the time has managed to pass. I think seeing the little one in person will make this whole pregnancy thing pretty darn real.

Then the other part of me is totally worried that there will be nothing...this will be fake. I understand this is totally illogical, but many other women have blogged about the same fear. The fear of losing something that I'm already so attached to, have so many plans for, and think about multiple times a day.

So I'm praying for a strong heartbeat and a clear shot of the one-inch wonder. Then I have a picture, an image to hold in my heart and mind, rather than sketches of random fetuses from my baby books.

And in other news, my job is kicking my booty. I'm tired, nauseous, frustrated, unhappy, and altogether done with the environment. I don't know how all the other normal pregnant women out there make it through 40+ hours a week on the job. I can barely make it through the day. I haven't really used my sick time yet, but I foresee it in the near future. I wish I could cut back on my hours, but it's not really a possibility as of yet. We'll see.

It's funny how when you get to the point where family is actually a reality, where the little bean of a human is growing inside of you, you're just ready to up and leave life as you know it, ready to settle down, cook meals, water the herbs and just be home. *Sigh.* Only 32 weeks to go.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

six weeks and counting...

So, my friends warned me about week 6, about the pregnancy symptoms really kicking in. And now here I am, nauseous. As I told my husband a few days ago, "Yes, morning sickness is a misnomer. It's more like all day sickness." I'd read it, and it's true.

The hard part is, I love food. I always have. But first thing in the morning, when I wake up, the thought of even my most favorite food makes me want to hurl. Nothing sounds good. I evenutally eat something, because I'm hungry and my body needs the nutrients, and then it's okay, but it's definitely not fun. Repeat above at lunch and again at dinner.

And, the weirdest things are sounding good to me. Last night I ate a bean burrito from Taco Bell for dinner and then had a huge bowl of fruit around 9pm.

I've tried saltines, but they don't really work. I'm going to try taking my prenatal with a large glass of water before bed, in case that's contributing to the sickness.

But the symptoms remind me there is an amazing, creative process taking place within me. Millions of cells are being produced as I write this blog entry.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

you can fly, you can fly, you can fly!

My pregnancy so far:
  • hungry all the time
  • thirsty
  • peeing constantly (is it pregnancy or the fact I'm drowning myself in water?)
  • sore breasts
  • gassy (even worse than before)
  • exhausted (3 o'clock nap, anyone?)
  • restless at night

We couldn't be happier. Like a character in Peter Pan, this pregnancy is my happy thought. Happy to finally be pregnant (after 15 months of trying). Happy to think of starting our lives as parents. Happy to know an end to work stress is in sight. Happy to daydream about what this little sweet pea will look like. Happy to know that my hubby will be a daddy. Happy to give his parents their first grandchild. Happy to give my parents another one to lavish with love.

God is so good. His timing didn't make sense to me, but now that we are pregnant, I couldn't be happier (see paragraph above). By the time we got pregnant, I was fully reliant on Him. Fully trusting that his will and his way would be done in my life, regardless of what I do or who I am. And now, as I look into the future, I can only put my trust in Him, the giver of life. He knows what I need. He knows my heart's desire. He is big enough to handle any fears or concerns or worries.

I don't know if I would have made it to a place of reliance and trust if we had become pregnant right away. I might be freaking out about miscarriage right now. Instead, anytime I start to worry, I put my trust in Him. I can rely on Him and Him alone for fruit in my life. And just be happy.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

wait on the Lord, and He shall renew thy strength

This has been my breath prayer for the two week wait. Breathe in...wait on the Lord...breathe out...and He shall renew thy strength. It has been so calming, so wonderfully peaceful.

I woke up early Monday morning (2:30am) with awful cramps. Crap. I knew I would start my period that day. But I was at peace. I trusted God with the outcome, and for once, believed that eventually we would get pregnant, if not this month.

But my period didn't come.

Early Tuesday morning I couldn't sleep either, so I got up to take a test around 5:45am. I sat on the toilet and counted to 121 to avoid looking at the test while I waited the two long minutes. Wait on the Lord...and he shall renew thy strength.

Positive. POSITIVE! I could hardly get off the toilet fast enough. I ran into where Ben lay praying in bed, jumped almost on top of him, saying "turn on the light! turn on the light! it's positive! positive!"

Needless to say, he was very happy.

Bloodwork came back today. Things look good. Fifteen months later, a long two week wait, and now the 40 weeks begins. :) Praise be to God, who makes all things new.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I'll take honey over vinegar any day

I spent my day yesterday intervening in a DV crisis involving two of my students. Yuck.

But there was one good thing about the situation--an encounter with a really good cop.

The school resource officers I've worked with in the past leave something (tact, professionalism, empathy) to be desired. They barge in our office like they own the place, harumphing their way around, making us feel incompetent and violated. I heard from a student about how they harshly questioned her after a violent rape, and it made me furious.

When I first called in the campus police to file a report, the two guys described above (harumphers) barged in, and although they lowered their usually loud and authoritative voices slightly, I heard them ask my student in an accusatory way, "so did you ever abuse or hurt him? was it mutually abusive?" Like it makes a difference. They might as well have said "Oh! So you pushed him off you, and dug your nails in his arms while he was choking you? Oh, well that explains it! You totally deserved it, worthless human being."

So when they got called out to another emergency, and the new cop came along, I was very glad. First of all, he stood quietly and unassumingly in the front lobby, asked if he could come in (versus barging in and acting the fool), and very gently and compassionately approached the student. Just his presence in the room felt like a breath of fresh air, rather than the feeling imparted by the other guys, as if the four walls would come crashing in at any moment.

The rest isn't as important. What matters is that he was different. Better. Empathic and encouraging and non-blaming.

I saw him today on campus and after following up on the case I told him how much I appreciated him. I told him that his actions with the student were amazingly professional and caring. Being the humble guy that he is, he just thanked me and shrugged his shoulders, saying "I've just found that honey works better than vinegar."

He couldn't have said it any better. If officers #1 and #2 were vinegar, he was pure, sweet honey.

Friday, April 28, 2006

queen of indecision and obsession

How is it possible that if you ask me about my week, I'd say it flew by, but the two week wait seems unbearably slow and arduous?!

I'm thinking about babies non-stop. It's a total baby stream of consciousness. I'm even dreaming about babies. Call it baby OCD.

My dear husband, who knows my tendencies toward obsession and indecision, said to me tonight at dinner, "Why don't we pick a day to take a pregnancy test so we (read: YOU) don't stress (read: OBSESS) about it? Then we can stick to the date and feel okay about it."

Pretty good idea. I've already thought about it like 58 times in the past three days. And I waffle, of course, between just a little bit early (day 26 or 27) and waiting until day 29 (when Aunt Flow is expected).

So I told Ben that I already picked a day, day 29, and we could plan on that. It made the most sense because that is when the doctors recommend.

Good. Done.

About five minutes later, I said "But I can always take one early if I change my mind."

And he laughed. Sweet husband.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

like a middle school dance, in a strange way

As of 10:30 this morning, 416 million swimmers are making their way toward the most beautiful girl at the dance. Only it's like a middle school dance because she happens to be way bigger (and probably more mature) than any of them. She's made it pretty hard for them to ever get up the courage to walk on over and ask for a dance. Many of them will try, but few will ever succeed.

I only hope that at least one of them gets to tango with her.

Let the two week wait begin!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

1.9 cm and counting

You'd think that if I could wait for over a year to get pregnant, I could wait a few days for my follicles to mature. So why am I so impatient?

laying our weapons down

Our church started a Katrina response project a few months back. Over the last two weeks, we sent over 300 people to Macomb, Mississippi to build houses for those displaced by the storms. On Saturday I sat listening, covered in goosebumps, while some of the workers shared their stories.

The most powerful stories emphasized the racial reconciliation that is beginning to happen in this little town in Mississippi--because a bunch of "white folk" from California decided to get involved in the lives of some displaced black folk.

A local preacher, probably in his 60s, shared with the group that he remembered the riots and fires of the 1960s, a time when race wars were at their worst in the South. He decided long ago that it would be impossible for whites and blacks to get along in the small Southern towns like Macomb. He had seen the worst possible treatment of his people and his culture that he felt he needed to fight. He used the metaphor of picking up his weapons, fighting and fighting for decades against the mistreatment of his brothers and sisters.

When the nice white folk from CA came to town, looking for ways to help out, he thought to himself "well, here's another group of whites promising something they'll never deliver." Imagine his surprise when we showed up with over 300 volunteers. He grew teary and emotional at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, sharing with his new friends that as of that day, he was laying his weapons down. He was giving up on fighting. He shared his willingness to embrace what he had been resisting for years, because he had seen the power of the Holy Spirit to bring reconciliation where it was so desperately needed.

I think I'll never quite understand the intense battle that my black brothers and sisters have endured for hundreds of years. I'll never grasp the pain and hurt and abuse inflicted by those who share my skin tone, my European roots.

But I can certainly relate to his metaphor. Don't we all need to lay our weapons down? To let go of the struggles inside, the battles we fight with our hearts and our intellect and our hands? To forgive those who have wronged us and embrace them with open arms? To start making a difference today, this minute, dedicating ourselves to being more open, less closed off, more available to others? To imagine a life characterized by love and acceptance?

On a Wednesday night a large group of our church volunteers attended a mid-week church service. They sat in the small clapboard church, interspersed among the local members. Looking out from the pulpit, the black preacher became moved to tears. He shared with the congregation that for his entire life as a pastor, he'd prayed for the chance to preach to an integrated group, prayed for the time when he would see blacks and whites worshiping together in his church. And that night, for one man, a prayer was answered.

The weapons were laid down. Hearts were opened. Lives changed. Oh, it is so rich.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

this is precisely why I didn't want double coverage

I really shouldn't complain.

Double insurance coverage is twice as much as many people have. But it is truly a pain in my backside.

In August of last year, my gastroenterolgist ordered a bunch of tests, everything from blood work to an endoscopy to a colonoscopy. Being the good patient that I am, I fulfilled all his requests, had all the tests done, only to be stuck with a lot of bills. A lot.

Unfortunately, the labs in this area don't bill secondary insurance. So any time I have work done I have to call them up afterwards, ask for a copy of the report, and wait for them to send it to me. I've been calling at least once a month since August trying to get this matter straightened out. Not that I can't afford to pay what's left of the bill after primary. But it's a matter of principle. We have double coverage; why should I pay more money than I have to?

Well, I had to call like, 3 times this month in order to get the lab to send ME a copy of MY record so I could send it MYSELF to the secondary insurance company. Supposedly they faxed it like 3 times, but guess what? It never got there. I also asked them to make a note on the account that due to THEIR mistakes, the bill was still pending (not outstanding).

Finally, on Saturday, I got a copy of the record. But I also got a notice from a collection agency with my past due amount for the work done in August. I called the lab. "Oops." They messed up. But there's no way to get it back now.



searching but not finding
seeking but not knowing
did my feelings deceive me?

how I long for a word, a whisper, a touch...
to dip even a toe in the Spirit's burning fire
I want to be ignited, emblazoned, impassioned

not to linger here in the desert, waiting for the fulfillment of a promise

a spirit of complacency to be shaken
one of rebellion to be left behind
grumbling no more

but dancing into the glory of a child fully alive

wholly trusting
always hoping
grateful again

to feel in my fingers, my heart, my core

the warmth of your presence
the love of your Son
life renewed

Joshua 21:45
Not one word failed from all the good words God spoke to the house of Israel. Everything came out right.

Friday, April 14, 2006

a few good educators

This morning I went to a site meeting at one of my schools, where I met with the Principal, one of my (3) supervisors and a co-therapist who also works at the school. In the course of 30 minutes, the principal had me moved to tears at least 3 times.

The woman is so incredibly in love with and passionate about her job. She puts in looooong hours at the school, mind you, but she is so refreshingly optimistic and caring and full of compassion. It is no wonder that the kids in her continuation school are doing amazingly well.

The way it works is that the kids at the big school (4200 students) who get in gang fights, get pregnant, flunk out, or altogether mess up get sent to this school, with continuation and independent study programs (355 students). It's a brand-new school this year, with a staff that is over 50% new. The principal, however, has been in the business for years. And it shows--in all the good ways, I mean.

She brought in one student who last year was at the big school--getting in fights, hanging out with a rough crowd, failing school. Two nights ago she was given a college scholarship at a major district awards ceremony. The principal, with the student in the room, acknowledged that she was messing up pretty bad last year, but that she is "brilliant" and "going places" and "the star of the school" for being the only student from her school to receive a scholarship.

Then she told us the story (I'd heard it before, but it still made me tear up) about Halloween this year. There was a scheduled costume contest at lunchtime in the gym. No students really dressed up, but when the teen moms walked their babies down from the on-site daycare, all the students (300+ that day) started clapping and cheering and applauding. All the awards quickly changed from "best student costume" to "best baby costume" and "cutest baby costume" and "most original baby costume." She remarked how at the other school, a lot of these girls had been called bad names, ridiculed for being teen moms, or just treated badly. But at her school, these kids were accepted and supported.

And another kid who kept messing up, she told him he lost his privilege to be there at lunch. Every day a teacher or administrator escorted him off campus before the start of lunch. He came to the principal, at first saying, "you guys all are on my case." Soon it changed to, "you all know my name but you know I'm not supposed to be here," and then, "If I can show you all that I'm improving, will you let me stay at lunch?" For this kid, once he learned that the staff was going to be consistent with him, his guard went down and he allowed them to love him back to campus. He improved his behavior and is back on campus at lunch, rubbing elbows with the staff who once shooed him away.

The principal kept talking about how the students feel so loved and supported by their teachers, and I know in my heart it is because she is at the top of the chain. She loves and supports and encourages these students unlike any educator I've ever seen. She know them by name. She throws her arm around big, tough kids with a side-hug. She sets students up with health services and college information and drug treatment and counseling. And she never judges. She sees each kid for the potential they have within.

Just what I needed to finish up my week. Somebody else who cares so much about these kids she still chokes up when talking about how easy it is for them to change with a little love.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

turn on the light and reveal the glory

Jennifer Knapp sings a song called Martyrs and Thieves (lyrics below) that totally resonates with where I find myself today. In this journey of infertility, at times I feel that it is easier to cling to the darkness, to believe the lies of the thieves, to feel angst instead of peace.

There is a part of me that would rather keep safe to myself the thoughts and struggles and darkness than share my soul with others. There is a tendency within to believe that others, even those closest to me (even my Savior?!), cannot bear my fear and shame. I try to handle things on my own, to be strong and brave and in control. But denying the help of others for a lonely and dark journey is not how it is supposed to be.

I want to reveal the light of Christ in what I do. But I cannot reveal his glory without the help of others, without their assistance in trudging through the mucky swamp waters of angst and struggle and fear and shame. I cannot always make it to the light without people to help me get there.

At our girls retreat last October, I used a photograph to explain how I felt at the time, and it looked something like the one above. A path through the forest, shaded but with spots of sunshine pouring through. Every month of infertility is like walking down this path--with hints of light along the shady path, knowing the full sunlight is just always ahead of me, but only if I continue moving forward.

If I want to reflect the light and glory of God, I must move into the light. I cannot stay in the shadows and expect to be unafraid and peaceful. Yet the shadows are an inevitable part of walking down this particular path I'm on. Fear and angst are what keep me walking, looking for the light and peace that surpasses understanding.

I don't want to understand. I want to feel peace. I want to reflect the light. I want to be in the light. And I need people to help me do that. I need to admit I need the help and accept it when offered. And I need to, no I want to, turn my soul toward God, revealing all the darkness and fear and frustration, allowing his light to shine into the dark places.

Only then can I reveal the glory of Christ, when I can follow this path with trust and obedience. God, turn on the light and reveal all the glory. I am not afraid. Use my weakness to bring me to a place of peace and love and trust.

Martyrs and Thieves by Jennifer Knapp

There's a place in the darkness that I used to cling to
That presses harsh hope against time.
In the absence of martyrs there's a presence of thieves
Who only want to rob you blind.
They steal away any sense of peace.
Tho' I'm a king I'm a king on my knees.
And I know they are wrong when they say I am strong
As the darkness covers me.

So turn on the light and reveal all the glory.
I am not afraid.
To bear all my weakness, knowing in meekness,
I have a kingdom to gain.
Where there is peace and love in the light
In the light , I am not afraid
To let your light shine bright in my life, in my life

There are ghosts from my past who've owned more of my soul
Than I thought I had given away.
They linger in closets and under my bed
And in pictures less proudly displayed.
A great fool in my life I have been
Have squandered 'til pallid and thin.
Hung my head in shame and refused to take blame
For the darkness I know I've let win.

So turn on the light and reveal all the glory.
I am not afraid
To bear all my weakness, knowing in meekness,
I have a kingdom to gain.
Where there is peace and love in the light
In the light , I am not afraid
To let your light shine bright in my life, in my life

Can you hear me?
Can you hear me? (5x)

I've never been much for the bearing of soul
In the presence of any man.
I'd rather keep to myself all safe and secure
In the arms of a sinner I am.
Could it be that my worth should defend
By the crimson stained grace on a hand?
And like a lamp on a hill Lord I pray in your will
To reveal all of you that I can.

So turn on the light and reveal all the glory.
I am not afraid.
To bear all my weakness, knowing in meekness,
I have a kingdom to gain.
Where there is peace and love in the light
In the light , I am not afraid
To let your light shine bright in my life, in my life

Sunday, April 09, 2006

my deliverer is coming

Yesterday at an Easter Egg Hunt, an acquaintance said to me "Well, I always hated being asked this question, but I'm going to ask it anyway." You can guess what was coming. I wanted to say "if you hated it so much, maybe you shouldn't ask it of someone else." But I didn't. She said, "So when are you planning to have kids? Are they in your future?"

I wish I could have told her what I was thinking, "Well, it's not for lack of trying or hoping or praying, if you must know. As a matter of fact, I'd love to be able to tell you that our 'plan' is working. I'd love to say that kids are in our future. But for now, I'm stuck in the lovely desert of infertility, so I can't really answer that question. Aren't you glad you asked?"

Instead, being the passive-aggressive I am, I said "We'd love to have kids someday, when the timing is right." She then made some comments about my good planning and putting my career first and being responsible and yada, yada, yada. The rest of the morning was great. I love being around kids. I love being around my friends and their kids. I just don't like people asking questions that made them uncomfortable once, you know?

SO...After some unusual symptoms the past few days, I took a pregnancy test this morning, day 28.


Of course.

I didn't take it very bad at first, as I'm pretty used to the "not pregnant" outcome. I usually have a Pollyanna, "there's always next month!" type of response. And this morning I just tossed the stick in the trash and casually informed Ben that we won't be having a baby in January 2007.

I got ready for church, drove to town, plopped in my seat next to Ben, and closed my eyes to listen to the prelude. The choir had barely started to sing and the tears started flowing.

I managed to keep myself pretty composed (read: silent, controllable tears) until the children came in, waving their palms, singing, "My deliver is coming, My deliverer is standing by. My deliverer is coming, My deliverer is standing by."

I couldn't bear the sounds of their angelic voices, singing those words of promise, as their Hebrew ancestors must have sung in preparation for Christ's coming. The promise of a deliverer, of a hope and a future. The tears were streaming by this point, and I found myself wet and sloppy, without any tissues, in the front row of the church.

The poor kids probably wondered why this crazy weeping lady continued to sing the words, her hands lifted in the air in submission.

All I have to cling to these days is a promise. Not that Christ himself has ever promised me a child, not that I have any assurance that this is what he has for me. But I cling to the promise of Jeremiah, for a hope and a future, and the words of that song, for my deliverer to come and relieve me of my sorrow.

After the service Ben did baptisms for two of our friends and a neighbor. All babies, all beautiful and intrigued and amazed and precious. No crying, no fussing, just staring with wonderment at the font as the water streamed from Ben's hand. And the congregation of family and friends drew in a collective "aahh" as we witnessed the promises of God poured out on the lives of these babies.

For infant baptism is really about promises. A promise the family makes; a promise to raise their child in a home that fears God and believes in Christ the Savior. It is the promise of the congregation to shelter and care for these children, to raise them up in the knowledge of their belovedness and value in the eyes of the Lord.

For once, I didn't cry at an infant baptism. I smiled. I laughed. I cooed at little Wyatt in front of us before he went up for his big moment. I rested in the promises of the morning. And I left with the song still fresh upon my lips "my deliverer is coming. my deliverer is standing by," prayers lifted to the source of hope and promise.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

some interesting statistics

Today I came across some interesting statistics about one of the schools I work at. I've always wondered how the student body was represented, culturally and ethnically. Look at the breakdown of students! Amazing!

Further, our 4200 students represent 60 different countries and speak 58 different languages. Around 30% of the students are recent immigrants.

I love diversity.

babies babies everywhere

Is anyone else just totally sick of hearing about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' coming attraction? I know I am. And Brangelina's, too. As if following the love lives of the rich and famous isn't bad enough, but we also have to hear every detail about their unborn babies. Is it a girl? A boy? Oooh, they bought a pink blanket for $400. But, wait! Now they're purchasing a blue outfit with matching blue uggs for only $275! What the heck?! We must know the sex of Tomkitten/brangelinita!

You are probably wondering how I know so much about the "most beautiful unborn people in the world." I'll admit that I do read an occasional People magazine, but only on vacation. And I will visit every once in a while, but more to read the witty celebrity-bashing humor than to get the dirt. Yeah.

One of my dear friends, who is also trying to get pregnant, told me when Britney conceived that she was pissed. Mostly mad that silly Britney could get pregnant at the drop of the hat (and then make poor safety decisions, to boot, as evidenced by driving with baby on lap). Meanwhile there are those of us who have waited and waited, each month looking for the two pink lines.

Sometimes it feels like others' joy is thrown in your face, to the tune of the paparazzi who chronicle every little news blip about the hollywood babes' babies. Enough. For the time being I am going to boycott entertainment news.

At least until katie thomasina or angela bradini is born.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

all the originals in the house say "Heeyy!" (or a weighty issue, part 2)

Monday night I was talking with my girls about body image, and I shared the story about the time I revealed to Ben how deeply self-conscious I was. I told him that every time I walked into a room, met a group of people, browsed the mall, sat in a waiting room or (insert any other public activity here), I instantly went into comparing-mode.

"Dang. That girl is so beautiful." (jealousy)
"Well at least I have prettier hair than her." (pride)
"But her legs are so long and skinny and beautiful." (envy)
"But I could have teeth like those ones. Ew." (ego-inflating)
"Why did she have to enter? Miss Perfect Body, Perfect Teeth, Perfect Skin, Perfect Purse? Now we all look like sacks of potatoes." (self-loathing)

Ben had a hard time believing that it was this way ALL the time. But I told him, no really honey, it is like this no matter where I go. I'm constantly comparing myself to other women. And it's sinful and it's yucky and it makes me feel awful. But I can't stop.

My girlfriends totally understood. They do the same exact thing. Why??? Why must we constantly compare ourselves to others, why can't we learn to love and accept ourselves just as we are?

Once again, the Word had a word to speak to me today, and it cut straight to my heart. In Galatians 5, Paul is talking about living life on our terms versus living life God's way. He describes the life we have when trying to always be in control, and it is characterized by: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community.

Sound familiar?

And a life lived God's way? A life characterized by good fruit, such as: affection for others; exuberance for life; serenity; focus; compassion; respect for others; loyal friendships and authentic community.

He goes on to finish the chapter like this:

Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with others as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.

Can I get an "AMEN!"? My prayer today is that I will learn to embrace myself as an original, learn to love my body and my self for the unique way it was created, and most of all, that I will let go of the comparison game. Because Galatians is all about freedom, and true freedom as I see it is finding my own worth and the worth of others solely in our relationship to Christ, as holy and beloved children and heirs to the kingdom.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

a Word for me

In a previous post I mentioned that I've been really behind in my quiet times with the Lord, that I've been feeling a lot of spiritual disconnect. That, and I've been complaining a lot about the weather. So I found it to be no coincidence that my daily devotional had this to say today:

Who maketh the clouds His chariot; who walketh upon the wings of the wind.
Psalm 104:3

Clouds and storms are also part of My way. The sunshine of My grace is hidden from view as they do their necessary
work. See how in My natural world these things play their necessary role to the ongoing of life, and be aware, My child,
of their beneficial role in your spiritual life. Clouds and storms are also part of My way."

My mind is so temporal, His ways are so eternal. For me, the two-week wait between ovulation and pregnancy test seems like years. To Him, it is but a blip on the radar screen of my life. The rain seems endless, but even the storms are a part of His plan and purpose.

I don't want to be a fair-weather believer. I want to trust through the storms and clouds and fire and flame and flood, as the Psalmist does in the passage. This is why I need to be in the Word. Because there is always a word for me.

triathlon training, part 2

I find it difficult to train for a triathlon when the rain just won't let up. I can't spend 5 days a week in the pool and expect to do well in the running and biking legs of the race.

But, complaining aside, I do have some improvement to report:
-I used to hate running. Hate. Last week I ran 35 minutes and enjoyed myself the entire time. The longest I'll have to run in training is 39 minutes, so I'm feeling rather proud.
-On Sunday, I did a brick workout including 22 minutes of swimming sprints and a hilly bike ride. Ben said at the beginning of the ride that our goal was 45 minutes, and then we clocked in at 41, which he called "impressive."
-I totally enjoy swimming, and can easily freestyle for 35 minutes or more, completing upwards of 3/4 of a mile.
-I haven't missed a workout in weeks. I've been following my training plan almost to a T, and the workouts continue to be enjoyable.
-Back pain? What back pain? Haven't had problems with my lower back in months, and I know it has to do with 1) losing weight, 2) exercising regularly, 3) excellent chiropractic care.

All in all, I shouldn't really be complaining. It was raining hard at 6am this morning, but by the time I'd laced up my shoes and leashed the pooch, it was clear for a good thirty minutes.

I'm looking forward to picking another race to train for after this triathlon is over. :)

Monday, April 03, 2006

vacation goooood, work baaaad

After a five-day weekend, I'd really like to be back at home, on the couch, taking a post-lunch nap. Instead I'm ingesting diet soda (not good at all for me) to keep myself awake through the Monday afternoon slump. Why is it that even with a five-day weekend, I don't feel like I got enough rest?

Spring Forward (aka Daylight Savings) really stinks. I mean, it's one of the worst days of the year, losing an hour of sleep, then waking up to a dark morning instead of sunbeams and chirping birds. I think the effects of that one day have carried well into my week.

And what is it with the rain? The forecasters predict 2 more weeks of rain, and already we've had over seven inches in the past month! We're beating the Pacific Northwest in rainfall. What's up with that?

Let's see, what else can I be grumpy about today?

6 month evaluations coming up at work, a supervisor who keeps reminding me, and a stack of referrals so big I wonder how I'll see all the kids within a month!

Eating too much junk on vacation and now getting back into the swing of triathlon training/diet.

The fact that since we started a new small group study series, my time with the Lord has totally suffered, and the fact that I blame it on not having the daily workbook exercises to help me "look forward" to these times.

Trying to sell our other car and having it not pass smog and then putting another $800 into it in order to sell the stupid thing.

Having secondary insurance but then no providers actually bill secondary which means I have to spend at least two hours on the phone every week getting people to pay for things. Oh, and my primary insurance which keep denying coverage on infertility treatments, though I have called a few times, and they keep saying "oops! You're right, we shouldn't be denying, we should be paying!" Argh.

I apologize to all of you out there who know me as an optimistic, Pollyanna-type person. Today's a rough day, and I can't exactly vent to my teen clients. So you out in cyberland get to act as my empathic listener for a day. Lucky you.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

a weighty issue

I've read a few blogs in the past few days about how women view themselves in light of their weight, their bodies, their looks, etc. It's a vicious topic, and a universal battle, as evidenced by the following quotes from other women:

I hope there is more sustaining your attraction for each other than just superficial looks. If a husband is going to be upset that his wife doesn't always look like she did on her wedding day, the marriage won't last beyond her first wrinkle. Controlling your weight for your spouse is one thing, but you can't control everything; eventually, age, kids, gravity, and just plain life will turn you into something other than the attractive 23-year-old you were on your wedding day. If your spouse has a problem with you gaining 20 pounds in your 20's, you should be prepared for him dropping you like a bad habit when the first gray hairs sprout in your 40's.Many bloggers eloquently responded to MIM's "false advertising" post. And more than anything, I was struck by how many women (and these aren't morbidly obese women ... they are women who have put on 20 or 30 lbs) said that their husbands ask/pressure/guilt them to lose weight.

Hub didn't want me to go to his office Christmas party, nor has he invited anyone from work to our house. When I joked that this was because I was "no longer a wife worth showing off," he got very quiet. Saying nothing at all was infinitely worse than anything he could have possibly said.

I met with my girls last night and we discussed a chapter from the book we're reading: "Captivating" by John and Stasi Eldredge. The chapter was about the spiritual attack women face, about how we never feel we measure up or we feel like were "too much" for the people we love. There is an excellent discourse on Satan's fall, that it was becaue of pride over his beauty as the angel Lucifer. The Eldredges believe that Satan, because of his fall, attacks women where it hurts most--our beauty.

We are created in the image of God--created to reflect his beauty and his nurturing spirit--and yet I have met so few women who are pleased with their self-image. We bear the mark of our creator yet we hate our hair or our thighs or our freckles or our nose. The list goes on.

How do we claim our beauty and the mark of our creator? How do we go through life content, not comparing ourselves to every Barbie-esque creature that walks by? I wish I had a good answer. For the meantime, I will continue to struggle with this issue and how I might be able to respond personally and also to encourage other women in my life.

Monday, March 27, 2006

adios, sayonara, goodbye

Inevitably, in the field in which I work, people leave. The turnover rate is high in social services probably due to high stress, low pay, and little vacation (but who's keeping track?) Last week a colleague announced that she is leaving.

As an adult, I know that she is leaving for good reasons, making a decision she needs to make at this point. But for our students, even healthy goodbyes are hard. Goodbyes are not easy when you've been left or abandoned by people you loved or trusted. Goodbyes are just more complicated for these kids.

She's been like a mama to many of these students, a safe haven, someone to have your back, someone to talk to, not afraid to give advice or criticism. To other students she's a good friend or an older sister. But one thing is for sure. She will be missed when she goes.

My students are all upset, all grieving the loss of someone they care about, some angry she's going, others feeling like they are responsible for her choice to leave. And other kids act like they don't care at all, because they learned long ago not to invest care or emotion in others, because everybody leaves at some point.

The other staff members and I are working crisis after crisis, defusing kids' anger, handing kids kleenexes while they process their grief, helping kids plan a meaningful goodbye.

When this co-worker came to me with tears in her eyes, surprised and overwhelmed by the force of emotion she felt, I could sense so clearly her ambivalence. She was second-guessing her decision, consumed by the grief of her students who so badly want her to stay. I encouraged her that sometimes the best decisions for ourselves aren't the easiest ones to make. I let her know that she had been such a powerful influence on these kids, and in her leaving, she had the ability to leave in an equally powerful way. She has the ability to model for these students how to positively end a relationship, how to say goodbye in a way that facilitates healthy grieving.

And, in a way, I am glad for them. I'm glad that for once in their lives, these kids will feel some sense of control, will understand a little more clearly how positive, healthy relationships handle goodbyes. I know it won't be easy, but it will be transformative.

The kids are planning all sorts of wonderful goodbye rituals and gifts. We're thinking of doing a candle ceremony to mark the end of her time with us, and the beginning of her time with her new job. At the end of the ceremony, we'll allow her to blow out her candle, to extinguish the time with us.

And smoke and ash will remain where once the flame burned. We will have to mourn her leaving. We will grieve the loss of her presence and her gifts. We will learn to let go of hurt and anger and sadness.

But my blog isn't called "as the noonday" for nothing. I know in my heart that these kids will go on, they will learn to follow the flame of their own candles, to see light past the darkness, and noonday will come after the long night. I wish all grief could be this uncomplicated. But then, I'd be out of a job.

Monday, March 20, 2006

zoom zoom

So we got a new car. Yippee! It's fun to drive, and I can't help but smiling and singing "zoom zoom" every time I'm driving around town. At least that was my experience until Monday.

What are your worst fears when you get a new car?

Hitting something.

Scratching the beautiful paint job that is so perfect, so unadultered by the wear and tear of life.


Monday, my first "real" day of driving the new car (more than a five-minute trip to the store), it was pouring rain and I was on my way to Target to get some art supplies for work. Boom. I hit the mother of all potholes. It wasn't even like I was messing up. I was driving slowly, not tailgating anyone, watching the road. I didn't even see it at the last minute and try to swerve but hit it anyway. It just came out of nowhere, in the middle of a totally normally paved road.

I say to myself, "no, it's okay. I'm sure nothing's wrong. Pull in the parking lot and check it out."

Flat tire.

Roadside assistance comes to put on the spare. (Hey, I've got it. Why change my own tire?) The guy drops part of the jack against the side of the car. Scratch. A little one, but the first scratch on our new baby.

Did I mention that I started clomid last week? Thankfully I'm not an overly emotional or weepy person. I didn't even quiver at the moment, but I felt that deep dread of having to call Ben and tell him that something very sad happened to the zoom zoom.

Ben: no problem, hon. These things happen. Just take it to Firestone on your way home and have them fix it.

Problem? You bet. A tear in the sidewall, not fixable.

Fast forward a day, a trip to Goodyear, a handful of calls to the warranty people, the dealer, and a Mazda repair shop, and all I have to say is this:

Cost of a Firestone tire repair job: $33

Cost of a new Goodyear tire replacment: $260

Cost of a tire, with the nice Goodyear people giving us a break on our warranty: $130

Replacement tire for half off, free scratch repair by the tow company, a hubby who understands, and my worst fears now behind me: Priceless.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

biopsy shmiopsy

Earlier in life, I wanted nothing more than to be a doctor. I was enthralled by science, especially medicine, and enjoyed learning about anything involving the human body. Cadavers? Cool. Close-up photos of surgery? Awesome. Giving my own blood? Loved to watch that big ole' needle find its way into my vein.

So fast forward a few years. My doctor ordered a bunch of blood tests last year and I ended up giving like 7-8 vials of blood after a long afternoon with no snacks. Totally fainted. They assured me it had nothing to do with nerves, but due to the large amounts of blood and little to eat.

A few weeks ago I went in for a "routine" biopsy of my thyroid. Turns out I have some larger-size nodules that the doctor wants to check out. It started out just fine. I wasn't worried at all. I was told to lay down on the table and wait for the doctor. And wait. And...wait. After about a half hour I was ready to fall asleep or freak out, laying there thinking about a needle in my neck.

The procedure started. Ultrasound of the thyroid? No big deal. Using a pen to mark the spots for the needle to penetrate? Child's play. Needle with lidocaine? Okay, a little bit of a burn. More burning. Ouch. Little needle to take biopsy? Up and down, back and forth, dabba dabba dabba. It's weird that your thyroid is just there all the time, but you never really notice it until the needle is stabbing it again and again to get a sample. The doctor turns to walk away and it happens. Sweaty palms, queasy stomach, clammy, clammy, "Uh, doctor? Feeling a little clammy over here." Spun around, head down, legs in the air, cool washcloth on my head, spinning room starting to slow down and come back to normal. Sweat break.

"A physiological reaction to the trauma of a needle in your neck," the doctor says. "Nothing to worry about. Not even related to nerves." Hmm. When did I get so wimpy?

My OB/GYN nurse practitioner recommended getting my doc to prescribe a little ativan (aka anxiety meds) for the next time it had to happen.

That was today. And I took the teeny weeny anti-anxiety pill (.5 mg) before the procedure. He even had to go in 3 times to get a really good sample this time. I did some deep breathing and finding of my happy place (on the beach with Ben and Hanalei). A little bit of blood, a few bandaids later, and I'm just fine. As the title goes, biospy shmiopsy. Maybe I'm not going to turn out as big a wimp as I thought!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

so much hurt

Today was a hard day. Not a busy day, like a few last week. But a hard day. My students are dealing with some major issues, some big stuff, and a whole lot of junk.

A student's parent told her she hated her because of her bisexuality.
Another student was raped last week and was afraid to tell her parents.
Two students have attempted suicide in the past and are starting to feel depressed again.
Another one has no one to talk to and so drinks and smokes out to numb the pain.
And a student was molested.

There is so much hurt in the hearts of these kids. They want so desperately to be loved, to be valued, to feel joy and meaning in their lives. Yet family, peers, teachers even have told them they are not lovable, not valuable, not capable of doing anything good with their lives.

And there I sit, trying to provide some sense of hope, some piece of love or goodness to hold onto. These kids are aching to be loved by someone, anyone. And I know they are loved and cared for so deeply by their heavenly father, by the one who sent his son that they might have life. At times, this is my only saving grace. My only hope. The only thing that keeps me in my chair after 8 hours straight of hurt. This man called Jesus, who came to earth to take away the pain of sin, to give companionship in the place of loneliness and despair, as a father to the fatherless and a husband to the widow, as the source of living water that fills every last unquenchable desire, as the example of perfect love that does not hurt, exploit or disturb. Perfect love, perfect peace.

After work I went for a long swim to leave behind the day's frustrations. And as I moved through the water, I prayed for these kids. I prayed that the God I know and trust and believe in would be enough for me in that moment, would be enough for these kids with so much hurt. And I left it all there, floating into the cool night in splashes of water.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

they still surprise me/He still surprises me

It was a crazy week. My post from Wednesday was basically the template for the entire week. All students, all the time. That, and people running late to meetings, leaving me waiting 45+ minutes. More than once. Not fun.

By Friday, I hadn't nearly enough crises, so of course one needed to happen at 4:30pm, just as we were all preparing to go home. And of course, it involved my client. That's just how it goes. I didn't even get a chance to finish my paperwork from the week before I left for the weekend. I hate leaving unfinished business for Monday.

A few weeks ago a friend of a friend emailed and asked if we could meet to talk about my line of work. She's thinking of pursuing counseling/case work/social work and wanted to talk to someone in the field. You would think, given my week (and the fact that the smoke detector in our hallway decided to start chirping in the middle of the night--why is it always in the middle of the night?), I might have been feeling a little burned out, frustrated, and emotionally spent today.

But the longer I talked about my work, the more fired up I got. I found myself laughing one minute, moved to tears the next as I shared about the work I'm doing with these crazy/fun/ amazing/beautiful/sad/angry/creative teenagers. That, and I have learned so much interacting with my co-workers, and seeing those relationships struggle and grow and flourish.

At one point I was asked about the role of my faith in the work that I do. And honestly, I was able to say that this is my ministry. Hanging out with hormonally challenged, sexually active, drug-abusing, knife-wielding, ghetto-living, hip-hopping adolescents is the ministry to which I've been called. My faith is such a part of my work, because I could not do this work without total and complete reliance on my creator. I, myself, becky...totally incapable of handling these issues on my own. I'd crumble. Melt. Cry like a baby. Freak out.

Every day I thank God for my job. Every day I pray for some kid, for some issue that comes up in a session that I just don't know how to handle. I ask for guidance, for clarity, for divine intervention. And I see God at work. I see the connections that happen with kids. I experience the joy of allowing a student to see a way out, a second option, a different path.

Yep, given my week, given the struggles of being who I am in the midst of a very diverse work environment, given the misunderstandings of supervisors and the frustrations of a new position, I can still say I'm supposed to be there. I enjoy being there. The kids still surprise me, with all their drama and humor and strength and insight. And I'm grateful that God still surprises me, and shows up in a major way when I need him to, with joy and compassion and humility and goodness.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

all in a day's work

So, today.

Between the hours of 8:30 and 1 today I experienced:
  • counseling 6, yes SIX, students (3 scheduled, 3 crisis)
  • dealing with a kid ready to run away because her mom thinks she's trouble and tried to "commit her to juvy" last night for hanging out with friends after school
  • hearing the story of a girl who is being beat up by her brother (but because she's 18 and due to cultural issues, CPS won't get involved)
  • kicking a kid out of my office because he was being an absolute punk (lied to me to get out of class--big mistake)
  • internally celebrating the end of a controlling (abusive) relationship while empathizing with a student's mixed feelings about the breakup
  • sighing with relief when a student of color shared a story about being released without any trouble after getting picked up by the police for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and bearing an uncanny resemblance to the guy they were looking for
  • dropping my lunch on the floor of the staff room and then salvaging the top half that wasn't touching linoleum because I didn't have time to pick up anything else before my next session in a half hour
  • laughing with the girls in the hall over our "10 reasons to use protection" binder, complete with graphic close-up pictures of every type of STD and STI

The rest of the day wasn't nearly so interesting, so I'll stop here.

Monday, March 06, 2006

family planning

When we bought our house last year, it was in great move-in condition, other than a poorly planned back yard. It's a small lot, and the back yard consisted of an old, cracked tile patio, a large, rotting deck, and a few overgrown shrubs. When the hot August sun shone down, the patio and deck radiated oppressive, muggy heat. It was not the backyard oasis we wanted, nor was it even remotely hospitable. Living in California, you've just got to have a back yard worth hanging out in...300 days of sun call for outdoor living.

So, Ben drew up plans that we edited...and edited...and edited. Ben wanted a unique design that made the small space appear bigger. I wanted a cool, inviting, kid-friendly yard. We finally settled on a plan we both felt good about, for both adults and kids--plenty of green, a pergola with wisteria for shade in August, and a whimsical water feature.

All along it wasn't even a question in my mind that in this yard, in the future, we would play with our babies. When we rented in Houston, we had the most amazing koi pond in the back yard. It was calming and soothing and, best of all, a hit with the kids! When our friend Joe and Jodi came to stay for a few days, their two boys basically lived and breathed at the edge of that pond, dangling their feet in, splashing around, watching the koi, throwing in leaves and fishing them out.

We settled on a home-made design incorporating an old-fashioned farm pump with half a wine barrel. Ben rigged up the pump and voila! We weren't sure if it would be as big a hit as the koi pond, and then our friend Tyler came along to test it out:

Tyler tested, Tyler approved. For almost two hours on a February afternoon, Tyler played and played and played. This moment, captured by his mom Kelly, shows us that the planning and work pays off!

Saturday, March 04, 2006


Being a white girl from Danville working in a culturally, ethnically, and socio-economically diverse community, I run into all sorts of "isms." I am constantly keeping myself in check, wanting to know all I can about other races and cultures and communities in order to be as understanding and culturally proficient as possible. But I do run into snags, enter into misunderstandings, speak without thinking, and misrepresent myself.

In two very distinct conversations this week, persons of color threw at me the phrase "white anglo european model," stated in a way that grouped me with a history of oppression, intolerance, racism, hatred. And it stung. Isn't that what isms are about? Generalizations about an individual or a group of people based on the race/culture/class they represent?

In both situations, I found myself remaining decidedly quiet and resisting the impulse to enter into a conversation in which I accuse a person of color of making a generalization about me. Because as a person of white (I really prefer to say pink) color, as a woman, as a member of the (upper?) middle class, I do have significant advantages in our society. Regardless of who I am as an individual, I represent a system of hierarchical oppression that started long ago and continues today. That, and I am definitely a conflict-avoider.

Not to say that I haven't participated in conversations about race and oppression. I have discussed isms with friends of different races, attended multiple trainings on being more culturally competent in my work, even joked about myself and my culture (such as when a Latina co-worker asked me "do your people really eat fried twinkies?")

I am trying to figure out how I can bridge the divide between "us" and "them," how I can participate meaningfully in racial reconciliation without being afraid of saying the wrong thing or getting lumped in a group of which I would never be a part. That is what really exists at the base of my conflict avoidance. Fear.

I'll be the first to admit that I have racist tendencies in me. You can't grow up in a culture such as ours without making inferences or having prejudices based on your own families' beliefs, media portrayals, or a negative experience.

It's time I nip my fear in the bud, I stop worrying about saying something that might be wrong or racist or inappropriate. Because in neglecting to let these things out of my mouth, I don't allow them to be challenged or corrected. Instead of being afraid of what I say or do, I should be afraid of what I think. It starts with what's on the inside.

And there is the possiblity that racial reconciliation will not happen, that it cannot happen, that instead of reconciliation it might be transformation, rather than two sides coming to full agreement, two sides being transformed in the process of learning about each other.

And personal transformation really is the goal. As Gandhi so perfectly said,

"As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world, as in being able to remake ourselves."

Friday, March 03, 2006

if i could change the world...

Today at one of the schools I work at, some kids put on an assembly for the student body for Month of Respect. It was awesome! The skits tackled major issues like violence, interracial dating, racism, stereotyping, respect...They took contemporary problems and stretched them out for students to see how prejudice begins, how it infects someone, and what can happen as a result.

"Just because my brother was in a gang, and is now in jail, doesn't mean I'm not going anywhere with my life..."

"Just because my friends use drugs doesn't mean you can label me as a druggie..."

"You don't have to live like your parents have. You can get your degree and get a real job, rather than working for a crappy boss in a crappy job that doesn't even pay enough to support the family."

It got me thinking about our small group discussion last night. About the role of poverty and racism on our culture. Growing up, we never had a respect assembly at my high school, but probably because most of us were working- to middle-class white kids. I could count on one hand the number of black kids who came through our district as I grew up.

But we were diverse in other ways, in our beliefs and values, our dress, the music we listened to, the people we looked up to, what we wanted to do with our lives. And because we were different, we clashed in our own ways. The best advice my mom ever gave me was "treat others as you want to be treated, no matter who they are or what they look like or where they come from." When it comes down to it, the golden rule is still pure bling-bling when it comes to respect.

If I could change the world, I would have it be a place where we all respect one another. I want a place where the whole picture is played out from start to finish like the skits in the assembly, so we all can see where people are coming from, and where they are going. So we can understand them for who they are. A place where kids don't know to recognize someone as "different" but just recognize them as somebody with their own set of values and beliefs and from a unique and amazing culture.

Racism, oppression, poverty, all stems from our sin and the inability to recognize every single person as Christ's beloved creation. Jesus was all about lifting up the oppressed, speaking up for the voiceless, giving strength to the weak...respect and love and forgiveness for everyone, no matter what society had to say about their value.

Out of the mouths of teens came an element of the truth of Jesus' message, and in a totally secular environment like the school assembly, it is still a powerful, life-changing message. Love one another. Have respect for your fellow man/woman. Treat others as you want to be treated.

I am humbled.