Make Black Friday a Little Lighter

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love what it stands for. I love family, togetherness, quiet time, and mostly I love stopping our crazy lives for one whole glorious day and being truly, truly grateful.

On the contrary, Black Friday is one of my least favorite days to be an American. As a child of immigrants, I constantly think about how the rest of the world must see us. To be quite honest, on Black Friday we are at our worst. I don’t just mean the people that trample each other and cause huge fights over the latest toy. I mean all of us. We do appalling things. We say ridiculous things. We use the word “need” in ways that are truly laughable. Every year, on Black Friday, we show one of the worst sides of ourselves as a nation.

Now, I know some of you love, love, love Black Friday, but just hear me out. I will not lie to you. I love a good deal just as much as you do, but we really need to get some perspective. So, here is my challenge for you:

1. As you shop on Friday, be very careful and deliberate in how you use the word “need” and ask the people you are shopping with to do the same. Say “want”, “would like”, or “am hoping for.” Just don’t say you “need” a 60 inch flatscreen.

2. Choose one item that you get a deal on and decide to give the money you saved to a charity of your choice. I won’t be shopping on Friday (because I hate crowds), but here’s mine. I got a Little People Nativity set for Caroline at Target and saved $10 this week. I’ll be donating that $10 to the Jana Callahan Family Trust.

3. Share this blog on facebook and then post your “deal”. My post will say “Little People Nativity Set = $10 to Jana Callahan Family Trust.

Just think what we could do if we each gave a little tiny bit of our good fortune to someone else this Friday! I think we’d make Black Friday a little lighter, don’t you?


Hear Me without Words

I am the mother of a sixteen month old little girl. She is the love of my life, my heart’s greatest treasure, my life’s greatest work.

Like most sixteen month olds, Caroline is growing, changing, and developing every single day. As her mommy, I am astounded by her daily accomplishments and how quickly she’s mastering new skills.  She is my constant reminder that the human mind is a remarkable thing and that we are only scratching the surface of understanding its capabilities.

Currently, Caroline’s vocabulary is rather limited (not developmentally delayed, just limited as most little one’s are). Her repertoire includes: “Hi! Bye! Ball. Hat. MaMa and Dada.” These six words while adorable and sweet, leave a little to be desired when it comes to Caroline expressing her deepest wants, needs, emotions, and thoughts about the universe.

Just the other day she was rambling on and on in her own little babble and I found myself longing for the day that I’d be able to understand her. Then, I stopped….I am not one to “long for the day.” If the last sixteen months have taught me anything, it is that all of this happens way too fast. It zips past me in the blink of an eye, and leaves me longing for just one more day with my baby as she is. So, I stopped myself from longing and thought, “This time is special. This time will never be quite like this again.” Caroline and I “talk” all day long. We communicate constantly and for the most part, I know exactly what she is saying. Part of the joy of being a mommy is that I can speak directly to her heart as she speaks directly to mine. With no (or very limited words) we understand each other completely. It’s the language of our hearts shared only by a mother and her child.

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting a truly remarkable mom. As many of you know, my friend suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm in July. She is recovering in the hospital and her language is not what it used to be just yet. Her words are limited and sometimes jumbled, but there, at her bedside, stood her mommy. With a love more powerful than any other on this Earth, she listened to her baby. With their eyes, their smiles, and their touch, they spoke straight to each other’s hearts as only mother and child can do.

I left our visit filled with hope and prayers for my friend, and I left thinking about my own mother. Long after I learned to speak, she has shown time and time again that without words, she can hear the deepest parts of me. How many times in my life has she taken one look at me and said, “What happened? Who hurt you?” or “Don’t even think about it. I told you, no!” or “It’s going to be OK. You’re a beautiful bridesmaid. You’ll find your prince one day soon.” She has held me and said nothing at all, and I’ve known exactly what she meant.

I thought about my friend and all she has been through since July. When I am scared, stressed, sick, and confused, I want my mommy. Jana didn’t have to say a word, and Ruth was right there. At the edge of her bed….listening. What a comfort it must be for my sweet friend to look over and see the one person that we all long for when the world just isn’t right, to hear her mother’s voice, and to know that without saying a word, she is heard.

Hear the Whispers

More than once in my life, I’ve cried out to God. I’ve wailed and begged for mercy, guidance, forgiveness, or an explanation.

Death, illness, the loss of a friend, the pain of a child. I’ve gone to God. I haven’t always gotten an answer.

It’s funny how in the moment of tragedy or loss, in our pain or sorrow, we cry so loudly. Yet, it’s true that time heals wounds (not all of them and often not completely, but they heal to some degree nonetheless or become more bearable).

As time goes by, those cries become softer and softer. Sometimes, I even move on with my life and stop asking. I’m often guilty of assuming that if God doesn’t answer, then, God’s answer is simply “no”, or that God doesn’t care enough about me to be bothered with such trivial matters. “He’s busy in Libya,” my Mom would say. (The country changes, but she’s said it all my life.) And she’s right. It gives me perspective.

God must be a very busy God….too busy for me and my insignificant heartbreaks.

However, I do believe that even when we stop asking, when we stop praying out loud, when we move on with our busy lives,  our hearts keep whispering our deepest needs to the Divine.

My heart has whispered for the last five years. “I’m sad. I need help. I don’t know how to fix it. Help me fix it. Help me….I’m lost.”

Tiny, tiny whispers.

That very busy, very big God, is neither too big nor too busy to hear our whispers.

Yesterday, five long years later, God said “Yes. I will help you. I will fix it. I have been fixing it all along. I just needed time. Be patient. I heard your whispers.”