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Poverty is a choice

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My definition of poverty seems so different from everyone around me.  I hear everyone so down about what they feel they lack, when all they really lack is perspective.  They choose to be poor, only seeing what the don’t have, and discounting all the good.  When I first became a single mom, I moved into a small, cheap town house close to my workplace.  It was entirely empty, except for my son’s toddler bed, a wooden rocking chair, and a foam mattress in a box on my floor (that was so thrilled about when I scraped enough money together to buy it when I moved, so I could have something to sleep on.)  For now, let’s call it a bed, as that’s what it was to me.  No dressers, no couches, no entertainment center, no table to eat at.  It looked like no one lived there, because we almost literally had nothing.  However, at night, when it rained, I would literally lay in bed and thank God, moved to tears with genuine gratefulness that I was warm and dry, when so many others were out on the streets, battling the elements just to survive the night. During the day I would gaze upon the beautiful tree right outside of my bedroom window, as it was turning blazing shades of red and orange in the perfect fall weather.  If someone had looked in my window, walked through my home,they would have said I was poorer than anyone they knew, most likely. But I was alive and safe, my son was with me, and our basic needs were met.  I was nearly as happy as a person could be.  If I was ever in danger of pouting about what I didn’t have, I remembered Haiti, and the 2 or 3 pieces of corrugated metal propped up against each other to make some of the homes.  Or the boy who asked me for my well-worn shoes so that he might be able to go to school.  Of the people walking miles and miles through the Artibonite Valley to get to a medical dispensary or the hospital for medical care.  It made me remember how rich I was, to have a solid, comfortable place near a job, grocery stores and doctors.

Recently I moved because after major job changes (for both of us), which allow us more time as a family and much less in the way of finances, we could not afford the place we were living any longer.  Add to that our dog having puppies in a duplex in the city, and it was just a necessary change.  We moved to an even smaller place almost an hour away.  It is not much, but it is a cozy retreat from the world, my own peaceful hideaway in the woods.  It takes a long time and a lot of gas to get to and from work every day, but it feels like heaven (or maybe like a nice vacation) when I turn into the long wooded driveway path at the end of a long day.  My huband and son are there, I have a warm, dry home, with my cozy fleece owl blanket, and a coffee maker.  I am surrounded by the glory of God’s creation.  I have everything I could want or need in that.  I am not well off by any stretch of the imagination.  My bills still seem to be rather more than my income.  I’m sure that anyone else would look at our small house, and tiny income, and hand-me-down furniture, and see poverty.  I choose to see God’s provision.  I look with wonder in the mornings at the light streaming through the trees, and it is beauty.  I use the long commute to talk, teach, and pray with my son.  I am rich in love, and in blessings, because I choose to see the the simple treasures in my life.

Not mine to grieve

My grandmother’s (2nd) husband passed away after a suffering several months from a very aggressive form of cancer.  He was a good and kind man.  He married my grandmother when I was 18, and has been very good to my younger cousin who has lived with the two of them for most of his life.  In many ways his time with our family parallels my husband’s time with us.  He stepped in to help raise a 4 year old boy who wasn’t his responsibility, and they loved and teased each other relentlessly.  He loved, supported and worried over my grandmother, even seeing her through her own bout with cancer.  Every time I watch my son and husband tease each other I instantly think of  my grandmother’s husband bantering on with my young cousin.  The night that he passed away, my own husband was in the hospital having biopsies for what the doctors warn may very well also be cancer.

I find that I cannot grieve for the man who died, and that sounds terrible.  He knew he was dying, and he has always been faithful to God, even to the end.  He went home with Jesus, and if you have to go, that is the most beautiful part of it. Nothing was left unsaid, or undone.  He lived and died like a great man.  There is nothing to grieve there.  Also, to be fair, I have lived out of town and/or state for most of his time in my family, so I did not have a close relationship with him.  He is not mine to grieve.

I am grieving deeply, however, for my grandmother.  I had plenty of time to think on everything on the last day of her husband’s life, while I sat in that hospital facing a possible life without my own dear man.  I know what she had, and what she has lost, and I can only have some vague beginning of a notion as to how she must feel.  I think about how I would feel.  It makes my heart break in the deepest of ways.  I can’t jump on the bandwagon of distant family wailing in despair over the loss of a man we didn’t get to know well (while claiming they did), as it just seems like a bid for attention that minimizes the suffering of those truly close to him.  But I am ever so very sorry that my grandmother will have to endure the pain and loneliness of walking through this life without the man who has loved and supported her through these last 12 years.  I am sorry for my now teenage cousin who has lost the man and father-figure from his life at such an already difficult age.  I hurt for my one aunt who has walked side by side through everything with them for years, taking care of my grandma, her husband AND my cousin in any way she could, on pretty much a daily basis.  These are the people I am grieving for.  I wish I could do anything to ease their pain.  However, I find that my entire life, no matter how deeply I love, reaching out has always been daunting, filled with anxiety and possible rejection (basically impossible for me.)  So I will be here, 1000 miles away, praying for the God of comfort to do what he does and hold each my family that are suffering, and hurting just because they hurt.

open hand

When you stretch your open hand out to God, not only do you stand to receive.  You can also have everything that is precious to you plucked from your open hand.  That is the risk of faith.  When you trust Him with everything, you have to believe that he knows what you you need and how much you can handle.  It’s so incredibly difficult (and beautiful, somehow) to trust, to just open your hand and let go… letting go of everything you love, that was never yours to begin with.

Stolen

There are moments in life that take things from you that you can never get back.  Your trust, your innocence, your faith in the goodness of life and people…  Maybe all of that and more.  What do we do with those moments and feelings?  After the anger and the devastating loss, then what?  I know life will never be the same… I just haven’t figured out how to or if I should pick up the pieces.  I know if I did, there would always be missing pieces, and it still would never be what it was before.   Some things are beyond repair.

Overkill

Another loss.  There comes a point where it is just so unbelievable that you just shake your head.  For those of you keeping score, it was pregnancy number 6, loss number 5.  I was so, so excited, and I had so much hope for a future with my incredible new(ish) husband, my little man and a special little one that we made together.  We already talked about strollers, sleeping arrangements and names…   Then it fell apart, like usual.  It was pretty devastating, having dreamt of a beautiful future, full of hope, only to have it dashed.  It’s getting a little surreal.  Soon we have an appointment with what would have been my OB.  Hopefully we can get a game plan for if this ever happens again, because I’m pretty sure I  know what’s wrong, and it’s very treatable.  It was so tough to have so much hope and joy and watch it fall apart again.

Biting my tongue

Some days I realize that no one could really understand why, in the context of my experience, I make certain decisions.  The other day, my new extended family found out that my son had never had our played with a toy gun before.  In the same visit, they were talking very causally about school shootings.  I just kept thinking about my friend’s brother, who went on a shooting spree at a school dance that my friend was at, and about my 8 year old girl scout who was gunned down in a sub shop.  I just can’t feel good about my child running into a room yelling “I’m going to kill you.”  I’m sure my views seem extreme in a gun loving region, and it’s a can of worms I won’t ever open with most people… But I never want to go through what my friend’s family went through after their son’s acts, or be the cause of someone else’s loss, as I know the pain all too well.

Take 2…

Life is ever-changing… Once again I wear a ring, a promise. This time things are being done right. I know that it will seem too soon to some, but there is still plenty of time to be sure that this is what we really want. There has been lots of leg-work, reading, questions, researching possible pitfalls. Josiah loves him almost as much as I do, and he has become in inextricable part of our lives. I am taking him home in April to meet the family. I am excited for that. Let’s see what the future holds…