Thursday, March 13, 2008

My "baby"

My baby Ava turns four years old tomorrow. She is so excited and anxious to celebrate her birthday. I can't believe that she is getting to be so 'grown up' already. In my mind she is still the baby around here, and somedays she still takes advantage of her birth order to get what she wants, or simply to entertain the rest of her family. Bella loves when she uses her 'baby-talk voice'. I have to admit, it is cute in the right context. =)
It's just another milestone for me that hits deeply when I realize how young and small she seems- yet how when Teagan {as our oldest child} seemed so 'old' the year she turned four. I remember thinking she was practically a little lady. I would probably be in tears thinking about and comparing and contrasting Ava and Teagan if it weren't for the fact that there will be yet another Ferlaak baby to start the process all over again. I know Ava is going to seem very grown up in a matter of months. Time is funny. Age, I guess, is just a number. I'm happy for Ava to be turning four and that she is so happy makes me happy too.
I have to share a few more thoughts on my previous challenge post today too. Thanks to those of you who have expressed interest in joining me in sending support to Dickens and the children of Uganda. You can paypal your donation/gift to me at I will send Roxanne a combined gift around the first of next month. I just know it will mean so much to her and the people she is reaching out to in Africa.
I was thinking about how my life is so vastly different than the lives of the people in that country. Most of us in America have it so comfortable and easy compared to so many parts of the rest of the world. I was thinking too, of Oprah's Big Give, and how she keeps wanting people to see that 'little gives' add up to 'big gives' when people come together for a common cause. It's so true. I may not be the wealthiest person in my neighborhood- likely you and the rest of the readers here are not either. Still, we have so much compared to so many. Even if our budgets seem to be stretching thin and the gas prices keep going up and so forth, there are still lots of little ways that we can 'cut back' and give 'big' to others.
My mind goes first to personal ways that I can 'sacrifice' in order to give more to others. It could be something as small as skipping the weekly cup of Starbuck's many of us enjoy- that would mean a donation of about $15.00 that could be sent to Africa or some other charity or needy person in our lives. Another way many of us can 'give big' is to skip one meal out at a restaurant with our families. Staying in and making eggs and sausage and toast, or whipping up some pasta and sauce could mean anywhere from $25-75 dollars- easily. That's how much our tab can run at Red Robin or Red Lobster. And what does it really 'cost' us? Or what about skipping that new pair of jeans and just wearing the ones you have awhile longer. See? Giving doesn't always mean digging deeper into one's pocket, but can mean simple going without something that we don't necessarily need in order to give to others. Or maybe we can clean a closet or sell some items on eBay that no longer are being used in our homes. There are ways to give without actually having to scrounge up money. I think that was what I liked about Oprah's first episode of her show. The people who actually did the 'best job' weren't those who drummed up the biggest monetary donations, but rather it was those who found people that were willing to come together and combine their passions and 'gifts' and resources to make life-changing differences to people with real needs.

Looking at giving as a way of cutting back something in my life rather than having to give beyond what I already give makes it seem 'doable' and really challenges the way I want to live and raise my family. I hope that my kids will learn that sometimes skipping a 'luxury' in life for a few moments and instead using that time/money to give to a worthy cause really makes a difference and can matter for a long time in the life of those in real need. Other times it can be something as easy as making a double batch of dinner and sharing it with someone in need. Charity, I believe, sometimes demands creativity. =)
One of my pastor's used to put it this way, "Maybe there are ways in our lives that we can LOWER our standards of living in order that we can RAISE our standards of giving". It's not an easy thing to make personal sacrifices, but it can be so good for one's heart and soul.
That's my challenge to those of you who want to make a difference in the lives of people you 'connect' with in this world, or even to those you will never meet.
I am trying to 'put on thinking' that allows my heart and mind to take my eyes off of 'me' from time to time and to see the world as a more compassionate person. I am not going for the 'humanitarian-of-the-year' award. But I certainly can use a challenge at times to reach out and give back. I have been very blessed and sometimes the best thing we can do with blessings in our lives is to bless others. It goes without saying that the world is a better place when people live less selfishly. I think many of us in America can use a challenge in giving- from the top down.


Anonymous said...

What powerful -inspiring words about giving. . .I have been feeling this call lately, and need to "do something" about it now. Thank you for your presence here in the "blogosphere", you have truly given me perspective in many ways on many days.


Jim and Jaena said...

Good thoughts... Lately, I have been overwhelmed seeing the need around me (both locally and globally). We have been challenged by a blogger's trip to Africa and are planning to start sponsoring a Compassion child. We do try to share a meal, volunteer at our church, visit a nursing home once a month, and find other ways to make a diffrence in people's lives. Sometimes it still doesn't seem like "enough."

I read a quote recently (also from a blog) that has helped me put this burden in perspective: "Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you."
-- St. Augustine of Hippo

SingerMamaMelody said...

so fun to catch up on your blog once again! I'm really glad that your baby is doing well inside of you and that Wyndham is feeling better again. I always love seeing cupcake pictures and it inspires me to make some! May God continue to comfort you as you think about your dear Teagan. Lots of love from Minnesota...

The Kahler Family said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this and your ideas. I live in AZ and my church high school group would go to Tijuana, Mexico for spring break and build houses for families. The houses were nothing spectacular, but they were definitely special. I will never forget the emotion of seeing a family walk into their two room (no drywall, just walls with stucco on the outside), house for the first time. Even with the language barrier, words were not needed to express gratitude, joy and hope. It was amazing. I still tear up every time I think of it. I have never in my life had a wordly posession that makes me feel that way, and I pray that I never do.
Thanks for the reminder!

Juls said...

Wow, I have had this feeling that I need to do more to help others. I really like the idea of helping out the children in my community that go with out. I have been involved in a charity organization but this time it's all on me to come up with something that will affect children. I have an idea in mind, so now I just have to act and your blog has inspired me. It's so weird because I was watching a show I had on tivo of Oprah and it was talking about the Big Give and Drew Barrymore was on and well it was inspiring too.

Happy Birthday to your little one my daughter turns 18 tomorrow, my how time flies!!!

Kelly Lown said...

Beautiful babies and inspiring blog... thank you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jody,

I have just sent through a paypal donation.

I hope it is one of many.


(an Australian Belle)

MandieGirl said...

Happy Birthday, Ava! Hope you all have a wonderful, fun-filled weekend celebrating!

*kim* said...

As always Jody, you inspire me!

Happy B-Day to Ava...she is such a beauty and what a great way to honor Teagan's to other children.