I honestly didn't even know what to title this post. I write when I feel passionately about something and sometimes its a jumble of random thoughts that come to me that I just need to get out...so please bear with me ;-)
I am amazed of the stories of people from different countries who come to America with little to no money and/or possessions and after much sacrifice, help from family, and hard work they build businesses and sometimes even wealth that spans generations. The stories from the parents and grandparents of 2nd and 3rd generation Americans is something I've been interested in for a long time and could sit and listen to for hours. Its something about the dream, struggle, victory that makes for a great story; The sacrifice to have a better life for their children and future generations.
It seems like many immigrants and refugees who come to America are constantly helping their families back home. Coming to America is a dream many people have all around the world and they come and work multiple jobs, long hours, and continue to send money to support extended families. My sister has a friend from Cameroon, Africa who through a specific lottery in his country was able to come to America. My sister says he has about 400 or more family members back home that he knows well and has a relationship with. He supports many of his family members back home through his jobs in the US. If any family member or close friend comes to the United States he and his network of people in the states support and help them get acclimated to being in America. They would give their last to help each other out. They collect a portion of their money each month that eventually helps support each person within the group and it allows people to be able to take trips back home, pay for expenses, start a business, buy a car, a home, etc. Im most intrigued by this level of support for each other and have heard of these sort of scenarios time and time again within other cultures as well.
I just watched, Meet the Patels on PBS, which the basis of the documentary was more about an Indian family trying to find their thirty-year-old son a wife in somewhat of an American-like way, but partly traditional way, but I saw much more in this story. Other than it being really funny and gave a lot of interesting history on their family background, I saw how much love they have for their culture and what family means to them. Seriously the dad paid for his son's flights all over the US just to go on dates with Indian ladies he thought would make good wives (haha). I'm not saying I approve in their methods or anything like that, but it was interesting to see how their traditions have spanned many generations and the level of support within a family. Ravi Patel's dad came to America w/ five dollars in his pocket, after his extended family pooled together their money just to send him to America. He lived with five other guys in a small apartment just to go to college and make something out of his life and support his family. This in essence seems to be the story of many immigrants around the world.
I also watched another documentary recently on PBS by Frontline called, Exodus and I have to say it was one of the best documentaries I had seen. I will go into more details about this in another post because it deserves much more time, but it basically showed the personal and difficult journey of different families and people who were escaping Syria and a guy from Gambia to make it to the UK and different parts of Europe for asylum and basic freedom. In this film I seriously felt like I was right there with them on their specific journeys and felt the fear, hope, and sometimes hopelessness in their experiences. It was extremely gut wrenching and emotional. I was terrified for them and couldn't imagine being in their shoes. The common motivation driving all of them in this super dangerous underground journey, that had seriously taken the lives of many, was their family and their determination to provide a safe and better life for them.
I may do a part two to this post just to further explain what I see in these family networks because I have many many thoughts about this. Like I said earlier I am super intrigued and I just think there is something more to the idea of family and what that means to some people. I always wonder what is the point of each generation having to start from scratch or point zero in life? It seems like many families who are business minded, have wealth, or worked hard to make a better life for themselves tend to pass those skills, lessons, and/or businesses down to the next generation to prepare them or at the very least support them in their own businesses or life endeavors. Please hear me out-I don't believe anything is owed to anyone in that sense and that we all, especially in the US, have the capability to work hard for anything we want in life. I just want to think that as a parent, if I have the wherewithal, I would love to prepare and set my kids up for the best possible start and chance to succeed in life.
My husband and I talk all the time about what we want for our girls and future generations. We could never compare our lives to what immigrants and refugees may experience just to have a better and safe life but we want to understand that level of selflessness and family support that takes place. Wes and I have learned a lot of lessons (the hard way!), but we really want to prepare our girls for life so that some of our biggest mistakes they could possibly avoid and start life out on a better foot. We want them to enjoy being kids and their youth but also be prepared for what the world has to offer when they get out there. We want to be their #1 supporters of their dreams and goals and find out what their interests are and allow them the opportunities to explore them more. We want to live, support, and enjoy life with them right now and not wait for one day when this or that happens...beacause tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Our job is to love them/teach them God's love, be physically there for them, support, and prepare them for the real world and we are excited about what their futures hold. Prayerfully with God's guidance, we can also start something with this generation that can prepare and change future generations to come!
Have you ever told your child to do something OR to not do something and they didn't listen? Maybe you are trying to teach your child good manners, sharing, or a positive lesson. I was thinking about all the things I say to my girls and how these lessons and their reactions are great reminders for my own life in my walk w/ Christ.
I probably tell my girls especially my oldest Malachi that she needs to listen to mama and daddy MULTIPLE times a day. I usually follow up w/ something about listening the 1st time I say something and I shouldnt have to repeat myself. Children have an acute way of just tuning out what is being said especially if its not something they want to hear. When I say children I really wonder if I need to be included in this category as a child of God. ;) How often is God trying to tell me something but I don't listen and I do things my own way and suffer the consequences of those actions. Maybe God even has to repeat himself multiple times before I get it. I think about when I tell my girls to sit down on the couch and one decides to jump and play around anyways and falls and comes crying to me to console them. How often am I that same child crying to God when I'm not obedient and looking for him to console me.
Forgiveness and Love
We can learn a lot from children about forgiveness and showing love. I can discipline my girls and they are hugging my legs or trying to sit in my lap shortly thereafter. They easily forget and don't hold grudges. They are also the best at showing love too. My youngest, Micah, throughout the day comes and gives us hugs and kisses randomly but at the most precious moments. It just melts my heart. I know I could be better/faster at forgiveness and showing love to others especially since I am called to be more like Jesus as a Christian. How blessed am I to be loved, redeemed, and forgiven by God!
I will correct Malachi when she says she "can't do something," because I don't want her to limit her capabilities and I want her to try something instead of just giving up. This is a huge lesson I need to repeat to myself as well because how often in the past have I given up on a goal out of fear or feeling like I couldn't do something- more times than I'd want to admit. One thing about kids that I love (especially really small kids) is that they have tons of confidence. If I ask my daughter if she is an artist, or the best singer, or best anything she will say yes confidently as she shows me her picture of squiggly lines and sings row row row your boat at the top of her lungs.... At this age she could care less about what anyone is going to say about her. If she wants to wear her fireman hat from school throughout our shopping trip to Walmart she is going to do it. If she feels like a good cry/ meltdown (anywhere!?!) she doesnt care who is watching. The emotions of toddlers are mind boggling- ;0!! Oh how I sometimes wish I could be as carefree as a child not worrying about what anyone thinks about my decisions; to just have the confidence to completely walk in my purpose no matter the obstacles placed in my path is what God desires for me.
The joy that my girls experience makes me so happy as their mom. They get to be kids, play, and be themselves. I took them to the library for story time recently and Malachi and Micah rolled around on the floor playing w/ each other and giggling like they were the only kids in the room. Although Im not sure if the other parents appreciated all the noise they were making while a story was being read and after I finally got them settled down some, I smiled thinking about how sweet it is that they play and enjoy each other as well as themselves without a care in the world. If Micah hears music, that she is excited about, no matter where we are she will show off a few of her moves. ;-0. Its pretty entertaining to watch! They are joyful and loved and I can definitely take some pointers from them on enjoying life and sometimes just living in the moment. Yes I may have a never ending list of to-do's but tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Sometimes I just need to stop "being an adult" for a moment and sit on the floor and roll a ball back and forth, have a dance party, build a house out of blocks, play dress up, and enJOY life from the perspective of my girls!