There is Plenty of Good in the World

Monday, July 28, 2008

I stare at my darling daughter and sometimes I can't help but feel guilty that I brought her into a dark and dreary world. There is so much more to worry about than when I was kid, but then again, that's the cycle of life, right? We as humans power right on through the bad.

I know good still exists in this world.

I’m saddened to think that Mari will grow up in a world where respect and manners aren’t something taught from the very beginning. I assure you, though, in our household, they will be made a priority. She will not have a mother who is a homemaker. It is very real that it may be quite the contrary. But I will pledge to teach her the importance of homemade elegance. My grandmother taught me to sew, crochet, and embroider. My mother taught me to cook, but most importantly, she fueled that ever burning imagination. I promise to do my very, very best to tickle that young mind’s creativity. I believe it is so very important to be able to express one self. Sometimes I do it in writing, but most other times it comes out in what I create: greeting cards, hand painted dishware or pots, and yes, even hand sewn clothing.

On the way to work, I was listening to NPR, like I normally do. On it, they had a spotlight on a man who had emigrated from Iraq to Florida. He found himself without a job, but very skilled at computer programming. They’d featured his story and a man and his business partner in Billings, Montana mulled it over and wanted to reach out to help this man. They felt a calling towards him and immediately k,new they could offer him a better life. They contacted him and offered him a job. He took the position and shortly thereafter, found himself living in Montana; a far cry from the 7 million strong that he was familiar with in Baghdad. His new employer reached out to him like an older brother. They became fast friends and eventually, his mother and sister came to live with him. They were overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity. They had a paid family gym membership, donated furnishings, and when their story was featured on the local news, several gift cards to Wal-mart and Costco poured in. It warmed my heart to hear this story, especially to know that we all have it within ourselves to be generous and give of ourselves. So I asked myself, Bianca, do you live by this example?

Yesterday, I had a lengthy conversation with my father. I admire my father for the obvious reasons and for the not so obvious reasons, unless you grew up in the Valenciano household. Now that I’m older and a parent, I can appreciate the things he provided for us, but also for not GIVING us just anything. He instilled values in us that went unseen until now. My mother has an outward faith that is completely and totally incredible. She lives by the Word. We went to church every Sunday, without fail. We never missed Sunday school and we were actively involved in the youth group. There were times where I didn’t want to wake up to go to church. I didn’t feel like volunteering, but my mother or father were always there to give us a stern look to put us back in line. We recently met a young fabulous couple at our church. It was fanciful happenstance: There we were on the side of the Atrium where families with young children gather to fold little babies into their carriers. There is more room over there since there’s plenty of seating and surface area to balance the car seat, diaper bag, purse, stroller (you parents know what I mean). Anyway, we found ourselves over there and he made a friendly comment about it being the baby loading zone. We had a nice chuckle and for whatever reason, we commented back and lingered back to chat for about 20 minutes. Both Don and I are horrible with names, so we knew once we got back to the car, we’d forget their names. Sure enough, we did. A couple of weeks went by before we went back to that mass. We’d traveled out of town, and then we had other plans so we either had to go earlier or later, in any case we missed them. But during mass, I glanced back to look for her. She’d mentioned that she needed a nook to go nurse her darling daughter and I knew of just the place because it wasn’t so long ago that Mari was pretty much nursing on demand. Anyway, there they were and I was excited to talk to them. I guess you could say that I’d developed a mommy crush on this woman. [mommy crush-far from a romantic crush, it is a sort of fondness and appreciation for a person; a mother you’d like to get to know better.] After mass, once again we were chatting with them for another 30 minutes catching up and what not. They’d made the decision to baptize her daughter , so I politely asked for their names again (and it wasn’t awkward!) and wrote it down this time, along with the date.

Fast forward to yesterday and that was the day. I packed my camera to get the pictures for them, in the event that a member of their family wasn’t in the proper position. We were running late, of course! It wasn’t because we didn’t get up earlier either. The culprit, our air conditioning went out! I felt at a loss for words, but I said a small prayer and told the Lord that I knew we’d get through it. We recently discussed our finances and what we could do to get things in order, especially with childcare immediately around the corner. This expense was not something we had budgeted and we were a little hesitant. Worst case scenario, we’d have to buy a whole new unit, several thousands of dollars. We agreed that if quote repair came back at a certain number, we were going to wait and just run to Lowe’s or Home Depot to buy a portable a/c unit. Of course, the repairman would call while we were en route to mass. I told Don to turn around, to fix the a/c unit, but I’d go on ahead. By the time I arrived, mass had already begun and I had to wait in the atrium with Mari. SCORE! The front row by the baptismal font was empty. After the second reading, I went right on through to the first row and settled in. I made sure the camera was on and even took some test shots. I thank the Lord that Mari was very, very good. She only fussed slightly, but during the actual baptism, she became so fascinated by all the children who had gathered around (at our church it is a tradition to invite all of the children to sit close to watch it all, that way they aren’t craning their necks to see what is going on). I happily snapped a few pictures and enjoyed the rest of the mass. I prayed and reflected a lot.

I greeted our friends on the way out and congratulated them. I could tell they were so very happy. They invited us over to their house to celebrate. While I had another busy, busy day planned already, I made a mental note to make it a priority to head over there after the bridal shower. (Lucky that I was able to escape the shower a little early to go to their celebration.) Sure enough, we headed on over and thought that at most we’d spend an hour, maybe an hour and a half. Just over two hours later, we were saying our goodbyes.

It was then that I arrived home and lingered in the front yard to finish up my conversation with my father. I was thankful to him for teaching us about faith. Especially for him to make a priority to ALWAYS live the example, supporting it with anecdotes from our upbringing. God always has a plan in place for you. While you may not always agree with the path in which you get there, it is the bumps and detours along the way that not only build character, but create an appreciation that must be experienced firsthand. So now I know it is my job to encourage my daughter and teach her these values and the importance for practicing them. When she becomes of age, it will be up to her to make the ultimate decision where her path will lead her, but her decision will not be a forced or uneducated one.

That’s why I do what I do. I give back to the community where I can, when I can. In what ways do you give back, or better yet, in what ways are you the change you want to see in the world?

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