Friday, August 19, 2011

The Printed Word

source: flickr

I was in Barnes and Noble this last week and was struck by an ad I saw there.  I normally visit my local, independent bookstore for all my book needs, but I was waiting to meet with my advisor at school.  I had both of the girls and B & N happens to be next to the school.  Anyways, the ad I saw showed a young child sitting in a window seat.  Sunlight is streaming through the large window and the child looks thoroughly engrossed in whatever it is he is reading.  But he wasn't holding a large picture book or a well-worn paperback novel....he was holding a Nook.

This picture stopped me in my tracks.  I honestly felt that this ad looked like it could be a scene from a science-fiction movie.  The story would be set in a world where physical books no longer exist.  Everything you read is on a portable mini-computer.  Then, a deadly virus destroys these mini-computers and the world is left without the written word in any form.  All the classics, Tolstoy, Austen, Shakespeare, all vanish.  The world then slowly declines until mankind is extinct.

Dramatic?  Maybe.

Then I began to think about what the world will look like when my daughters are my age.  Are books going to become like records, collected by a few, die-hard fans?  Will the printed word even exist?  Will they have a physical connection to books like I do?  Will they enjoy the weight of a book in their hands?  Will they see the way a paperback's spine shows its wear?  Will they feel the softness of a book's pages as they turn?  Will they be able to open a used book and inhale its sweet, musty scent?

There is something about the connection with a physical, printed book that makes reading that much more enjoyable.  Will this same connection exist with an electronic version of a book?  I have my doubts. I just can't see how the experience of reading a physical book can be matched by reading a book with the newest piece of digital technology. 

So, from this point on, I am making a commitment to read the printed word.  Hopefully, this love for the printed word will be passed on to my daughters, and they can help books and other writings remain a physical part of their world. 

Do you own a Nook or a Kindle?  Do you read books on your phone?

Are book an endangered species? 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Forgiveness. . .

Author's note: This is the beginning of a series of blogs I started and never finished. This one was begun in January of this year. I just finished it today. I've been so inconsistent with blogging that my wife has started to give me assignments. I'm proud to say that I initiated this series. It will get done. . .probably.

Every morning right around 7:15 my eldest daughter cracks open her door, softly pads her feet down the hall to our room, creaks open our door and, with hall lights streaming in from her face says, "Daddy, I'm hungry. Let's go eat supper or lunch." Today was different. She came into our room, crawled into bed with us, and said, "Daddy, will you forgive me for all the ways I've offended you?"

We've taught her to do this every Sunday before church, but for her to do it, especially on the morning after a night when she had been particularly naughty and resistant to bed time was rewarding.

I don't believe that God racks us with guilt over and over until we finally say sorry. It feels that way sometimes, but the truth is, that he is more concerned with our wholeness, our healing than anything else. When I slow down and start to feel the manifold ways in which my wandering, my selfishness, my pride, my self-pity, my envy, etc. has wounded me, when I start to feel how dead I am without Christ, then I can realize through repentance what life is, what it is to truly live.

I'm not there yet. I still like to be right. I like to throw tantrums, I like to get angry and stay that way, 'cause "damn it, I deserve to be angry once in a while. It's my right."

"Wound our souls with your love," we say as we pray at the sixth hour, the hour that Christ was nailed to the cross. But I wonder if I really want this. If my heart were truly opened completely to the love of Christ, what great pain I would feel every moment of the day for having betrayed, ignored or just plain forgotten this love! Guilt doesn't even begin to explain it. It would be more like stubbing your own toe, or burning yourself on the stove, or slamming your own hand in a door over and over and over. If I have begun to become a "little Christ", then He is in me, His life is in me, He dwells in me.

"Heal my soul for I have sinned against you," it says in the Psalms. The love of the Holy Trinity, powerful, dynamic, unquenchable draws me back to myself where Christ dwells, where open arms await the repentant heart.

I forgave my daughter for all the ways that she's offended me. I must forgive everyone everything, all the time. God, help me. And forgive me for being impatient with my daughter this morning, for not listening to my wife on the phone as she reached out to me after a hard day, for forgetting to pray, to think of You. Guide me into repentance, into confession, that I may be opened, sensitized to your presence where there "is fullness of joy."

Friday, August 12, 2011

this moment

Inspired by Soulemama:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

...makes me smile

Happy Monday!  We (sans Papabear) just returned from a short little trip to Iowa to help my sister and brother-in-law move (there was no actual moving-in involved due to a late moving truck) into their new apartment!   No links this week, I didn't have much access to the internet while we were gone.  Here's what made me smile this week:

Playing at the sprayground...
Taking our wagon on it's first road trip...
Rest area picnics...
My sister...
The cute little town in which my sister & bro-in-law live...
The fact that they are only 5 hours away (!)...
Lu getting her third tooth...
Lu deciding to stand up on her own two feet (without assistance)...
Watching Z make memories with her Tia & Tio...
Spending so much time with Abita (short for Abuelita)...

What made you smile last week?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mama's Milk

“Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts at which you nursed.” –Luke 11:27

“Mother, remember the blink of an eye when I breathed through your body.” –Sam Beam

“Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
You made me trust you at my mother’s breast.” –Psalm 22:9

This month is breastfeeding awareness month. In honor of this month, I have purposed to write a tribute to the ladies in my life who have made this a priority in their lives.

First up is the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, who nourished at her breast the Lord Jesus Christ. “All generations shall call me blessed”, she said, and so we do. What an example of selflessness, of dying to ourselves so that we may truly live. From the cross, Christ said to John “Here is your mother”, and so, in the deepest sense, she is the mother of all who believe, the mother of the Church. “A sword shall pierce through your soul”, it was said to her, and she was continually submissive to pain, to suffering. She conquered just as her son did, by lowering herself to the level of slave, of servant. What has all this to do with breastfeeding? Everything! This seemingly simple, natural, biological outpouring of a mother for her child is at once the essence and the image of what it means to be like God. We are all as humans meant to pour out ourselves for each other, to be united by our mutual submission to each other, to give each other 100% of who we are. The mother of God has given herself completely to God and in so doing has given herself completely to all. By her outpouring of milk, of her own life, she has nourished us all, given us life by bearing and breastfeeding Christ who “is all and is in all”. And so I honor her, the most blessed mother, who continually intercedes for us now filled with the love of the Holy Trinity.

Next, I’d like to write about my own mother. She breastfed me. She raised me with a deep regard for nature, for music, for people, for God. I know it was hard for her, but she poured herself out. I was the first of my siblings to be born at home. When I look back at the pictures from the day I was born, I can see exhaustion and satisfaction in my mother’s eyes. She took me to the breast that day and comforted me. How thankful I am for that fact, and how rarely I think of it. We all have been cared for by our parents in one way or another, to one degree or another, but to have spent those first hours of life, not in the nursery, not under a heat lamp, but in my mother’s arms, in my parents bed with yummy colostrum in my tummy, is a great blessing for which I rarely express gratitude. Those of us who have been breastfed from infancy often don’t realize what a great gift we’ve been given, especially in a society that disdains anything that keeps us from doing what we want. Thank you, Mom.

Last, but not least, I would like to praise my wife who has dutifully nursed our daughters for almost 24 months (not consecutively) so far. What a challenge! She has pressed on through discouragement. I’ve watched her feed our daughters during long trips in the back seat, watched her feed an infant who continually wakes up time-after-time when laid down for sleep. She rarely complains and makes me wish I had more to give to our girls. We both have set out to give our daughters the best start possible. Breastfeeding is such a huge part of that. The nutrition and the bonding, the comfort and the closeness are all so important for that first year or so of life. My wife is doing an amazing job, despite all the setbacks. It is my goal as a husband to encourage her as much as possible and this is one way of doing that. Keep it up, baby! You are amazing and I love you!

To all the breastfeeding mommies out there, God bless you! Don’t give up!

Monday, August 1, 2011


It's two in the morning.  Lu's cries rouse me from my sleep.  I mumble, "Lu's awake" to my husband, who grunts and rolls over.  I get up and walk to the crib.  We had been bed-sharing up until 9 months, but then Lu decided that she wanted to have a crawling party every night instead of sleep, so we began to sleep in separate rooms.  I miss our bed-sharing time, but I also cherish these times in the night when she wakes.  It wasn't always this way.

When we transitioned from bed-sharing to crib sleeping, I was riddled with guilt.  Since we follow a lot of attachment parenting principles, bed-sharing was something I pictured us doing for a long time.  It became clear to me, however, that I was not getting better sleep when Lu slept with us.  In fact, I wasn't sleeping.  At all.  Papabear was sleeping, Lu was sleeping, but I wasn't.  So we decided to try sleeping in our guest room to see how Lu did without us.  She did wonderfully, waking only once a night, some nights sleeping till early morning.

I love breastfeeding.  But the last couple of months during our bed-sharing period I began to resent breastfeeding.  I was so frustrated with my lack of sleep that I couldn't treasure this relationship.  Then we made the switch to crib sleeping.  Lu would wake once or twice in the night and I was still resenting having to nurse her.  We are against crying it out, so we decided to either nurse or rock Lu to sleep whenever she woke up.  Most of the time, I have to nurse her to sleep.  I found myself rushing during those night feedings.  Trying to get her back into her crib as quickly as possible, even if she wasn't ready.  She would fully wake up as soon as I laid her down, and the process would repeat over and over.  I was not enjoying this at all.

Finally, I decided to surrender.  I put out of my mind all expectations that I had, or I had heard, about how much sleep she should be getting, and let go.  I made a conscious decision to take a deep breath every night before I walk in to nurse Lu back to sleep.  To release all my expectations of the evening and just be.  No matter the time of night.

That first night after my surrender was peaceful.  Lu didn't even fully wake to eat.  She nursed for a short time, then I laid her back down and knew that she felt safe and loved.  I didn't look at the clock, I didn't rush.  I enjoyed her.

Breastfeeding is full of surrender.  Surrender to your little one's hunger and needs.  Surrender to your little one's schedule (which is more often than not different than our own).  Surrender to less sleep.  Surrender to a messy house.  Surrender to a quieter, slower pace of life. 

I'm willing to surrender, because I've been through this before.  I know that it's gone in the blink of an eye.  I see Z, almost four, doing as much of life as she can by herself, because she's "bigger", and I remember the days when she was nursing contentedly at my breast.  It went by so quickly.

And so for now, I will surrender.
photo by Z



I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!

You can, too — link up your breastfeeding posts from August 1-7 in the linky below, and enjoy reading, commenting on, and sharing the posts collected here and on Natural Parents Network.

(Visit NPN for the code to place on your blog.)