War Child

by Stefani on 16-August-2009

It's been a long hot summer. 

And it goes on. 

And on. 

My Momo always said, "If you don't have anything nice to say…." you know the rest right? And that about sums up why I've been such a slacker of a blogger these past couple of months. I don't really want to bore you, let alone myself, with the long litany of self-absorbed whining that has threatened to over take me. 

The thing is, I know better. I know how inordinately blessed a life I lead. I know that I have more than any one woman could ever ask or imagine. I have a roof over my head. I have the "problem" of too MUCH food. Enough that I have to clean things out of the refrigerator. Enough that I sigh over the state of my midsection. 

I have air conditioning, running water, health, children, love. I have choices, freedoms, knowledge. I have work that I love, passions and time to pursue them. So really, I have no business complaining about the heat, the drought, the financial questions that plague me… how will we… what if… how long can we go one this way… what happens when… 

But even as I know all these things, I've had a hard time coming up with much to say here. I don't mean to say that I've been depressed or in a constant state of worry. I have laughed this summer. I have snuggled. I have created. I have. But there has been this underlying thread of listlessness, of worry, of doubt. I have been treading water, and so long as I don't look up and see the ocean around me, I do okay.  I go about each day, doing my best, trying to count my blessings, trying to have faith, trying to rise to the occasion of this time and this place in the history of us. 

But I don't want to just do okay. What I want is to be aware, always, of how truly, remarkably, wonderful it is, THIS time and THIS place. I don't want to smile in spite of my troubles. I want to rejoice because of my blessings. 

So this week I'm going to try to bring to you some of the things that have really moved me lately. Things that have really spoken to the beauty of right now. Things that are helping me to gain and keep the sort of perspective on life that I want to demonstrate for the young men that I love. 

Today, I give you, Emmanuel Jal. 

He is a former child soldier from the Sudan. In the video below he tells a little bit about his life, how he was rescued and his hopes for his homeland. For me, the most powerful part of this short video is the last 4 minutes or so, when he sings a song that he wrote for a woman, British aid worker Emma McCune. It was because of her love and courage that he is able to dance and to sing today. The result is a full-body, unabashed display of passionate gratitude. 

His simple statement, "I stand here because somebody cared," applies to all of us though, doesn't it? 

And you know what? I find it just about impossible to at once feel sorry for myself and also deeply grateful for the people who have cared for me. It can't be done.  

Today I will be grateful. Passionately grateful. 

child of war

BOATBABY August 16, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Beautiful reminder! Thank you!

jennifer August 16, 2009 at 9:03 pm

oh wow. i so feel the same way right now. in fact, my post yesterday sounds very similar. and i too, posted a link to an amazing organization wine for water. (all proceeds of wine sales go to bring safe drinking water to africa.) if you have a moment… do check it out. and cheers to our bountiful blessings!

Melanie O August 16, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Thank you.

molly August 16, 2009 at 9:52 pm

oh man, can i relate to how you’ve been feeling. i was just telling my husband yesterday, “but we’re the lucky ones.” despite all the goodness, i still can’t help but acknowledge that which is wrong. so i try to shift my focus beyond my four walls, which isn’t always easy, but necessary and good. thank you for being real.

Camie August 16, 2009 at 10:21 pm

With a heart full of gratitude for that young man and his passion, I thank you for sharing…

Sam August 16, 2009 at 10:32 pm

Made me cry.

Mad Woman August 17, 2009 at 12:17 am

I really really needed this post today. Thank you!

tara August 17, 2009 at 3:16 am

Thanks for reminding of the abundance of riches I have before me today. We’re all healthy and happy and together. What else is there?

Bonnie August 17, 2009 at 3:24 am

Thank you for sharing this. Thank you also for the reminder to rejoyce in our blessings. I have been starting to have similar feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed about the future, so it was nice to read this before the babies wake up and start *another* long day!

Holly C. August 17, 2009 at 4:06 am

Lovely post.?

Beth August 17, 2009 at 4:09 am

Thank you for your honesty because we are all human – I read a “memoir” of a boy soldier a few years ago – we are truely blessed – Thanks.

Kelly August 17, 2009 at 4:26 am

a great reminder for all of us.

Lia August 17, 2009 at 4:35 am

I, too, have a hard time not whining about this and that, especially the heat. Because we have so much that is wonderful in our lives, it’s easy to pick out the few little annoyances. Sounds ridiculous. It is ridiculous. I’m trying, though. So everyday while I stand outside at 3:00 at dismissal, as the sweat pours from here and there, I will NOT bitch and complain. I’l just desperately search from some shade!

Nifer August 17, 2009 at 5:36 am

Maybe it’s something about the summer heat, but I think we all have a hard time during July and August. Maybe it’s not the heat, but simple human nature; our brokeness, our need for a savior, our sinfulness, just shines through us in this way. If we really listened and heard with our whole hearts what God wants to say to us each day, we’d be constantly rejoicing and always full of gratitude, even for the things that are hard for us. He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

I haven’t seen the video yet, but I will take time to watch it soon. I wanted to tell you about a friend of ours; he’s a photographer friend of my husband’s who’s down in Atlanta. He’s got quit a story of his own… Anyway, he posted this video, http://www.zarias.com/?p=440, last week, and I thought it might touch you as well. The back story is in the post or two before that one. And the other video he made a few months back (Here: http://www.zarias.com/?p=284) is really good too. Hope they help you some, and know that you are not alone. We all struggle to stay positive at times.

Tracey August 17, 2009 at 8:10 am

WOW. To think of the life this young, young man has lived. I was pierced by the full throttle way he uses his voice and mostly his body to cry-out, protest, testify, and WORSHIP! Sadly, my life more closely reflects the middle-aged white guys in the front row trying to find the beat.

Thank you for this. I also needed this to start this week.

Pressing on…together.


Heidi @ Mt Hope August 17, 2009 at 9:50 am

Beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your heart. So many of us, I’m guessing, can relate. Oh, can we relate. I’ve been working (and sometimes it takes quite a bit of work) to see the beautiful around me and SAVOR those things.

Stefani August 17, 2009 at 11:16 am

Wait, did you say WINE for water? Now that’s something I can do! Off to read all about it.

Stefani August 17, 2009 at 11:19 am

thank you, sister, for being in it with me 🙂

Stefani August 17, 2009 at 11:26 am

There’s a movie on this topic that I watched months ago. It was really powerful. I think it was called “Innocent Voices.” It was the true story of a child soldier from South America.

Stefani August 17, 2009 at 11:26 am

I hear you sister. I can hardly drum up any sort of optimism at all under this oppressive bloody HEAT!
But I digress…

Stefani August 17, 2009 at 11:27 am

Well Amen to that Nifer. Thank you for your thoughtful response. I will definitely check out the video!

Stefani August 17, 2009 at 11:28 am

HA! Oh yes, my attitude MUCH more closely reflects those poor pasty folks on the front row 🙂 But hey, they’re trying right? And maybe if we listen to the voices and witness the outpouring of people who have seen far worse than we have, maybe we’ll eventually learn to dance too 🙂

brit August 17, 2009 at 11:37 am

stefani. I love you. And your place in the world. And wow we all get overwhelmed, and we all feel a little sorry for ourselves even when surrounded by blessing. And we are allowed…

You make the world a more wonderful place, I show up here when I can (every day if I’m lucky) to see what things are in store for me, when my boys are a little older, and I have a little more time and i thank you for that!

Amy J August 17, 2009 at 11:48 am

Just. Wow. What a moving and powerful testimony. Somebody cared. I am sobbing now, so thanks for that! ;o) Actually a good clean cry makes it all better sometimes, doesn’t it?

Chin up, girlfriend. I guess here in TX we have our own kind of “seasonal affective disorder”, but it’s almost Sept so that means the end is in sight!

Love you!

Elissa August 17, 2009 at 1:51 pm

and so that same thread of doubt and worry has been running under my days. i detest when i get drawn in under it’s current, but i sometimes do. trying, as you, to rejoice in what is good and trust that the rest will be handled with much grace and courage.

Kaci Lusk August 17, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Thank you for sharing this. It took me back to my mission trip to Belize in 2007. I journaled every day and blogged it when I got home (you can read it here http://kacisramblings.blogspot.com/2007/08/belize-journal.html) It made me realize how easy we have it here, even when things are hard. Thanks so much for posting this!

Jody August 18, 2009 at 6:48 am

I recently read Girl Soldier by McDonnell and Akallo. It was an eye opening book as it put a personal story to the news coverage that we read. As the book chronicled this young woman’s story, I found myself reflecting on where I was in my life while all this was happening to her. On the very day that I was celebrating my 21st birthday, she was abducted by rebels and her hellish story began. I was out having my first glass of wine with my family and she was encountering the unthinkable. The amazing thing is, we are not looking at this as history. This is still going on right now.

carmen August 18, 2009 at 6:19 pm

beautiful and inspirational post.

turnitupmom August 29, 2009 at 4:53 am

Wow, this was such an honest, beautiful piece. I am having some doubts right now about my daughter’s development, and I thank you for the reminder to stay present in the moment and rejoice in the blessings of right now. It’s amazing that worry has such power, if we let it. When I get in that dark space, I usually need a slap in the face (like that video)….I am blessed, big time.

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