Although I was baptized Catholic, my family rarely participated in organized religion while I was growing up. As an adult I dabbled here and there with religion, but it wasn't until recently that I really felt drawn to the church.
Brad is Catholic, and attended Catholic school. And, honestly, Brad's parents did such a great job of raising their three children that I pretty much look to his childhood as a road map for "L." So when we began the adoption process, Brad and I started attending mass regularly to establish that foundation for our family. We already have "L" enrolled in pre-K at our church, which we're both really excited about because it's a fantastic K-8 school. And the staff at the school is delighted (their word!) to have him at the school, which I hope will help him make a smooth transition.
As Lent approached, I contemplated what to sacrifice. There are plenty of areas in my life that could use a little sacrifice, but I really wanted to relate it to bringing "L" home. Our journey to "L" wouldn't be helped by my giving up wine or chocolate or any of the other (many!) vices I have, so I gave up all discretionary spending on myself. Since, as you may or may not know, adoption is quite expensive.
I had a few struggles along the way, mostly with trying to figure out what was "discretionary." A haircut? No, that was safely a necessity; I can't show up at work with raggedy hair. Having my eyebrows waxed? Discretionary. Massage? Discretionary. Road race entry fees? Definitely discretionary. And, by the way, I'd never before realized how much money I spend on races!
I couldn't buy books for my Kindle, so I blew the dust off my library card. Ok, so I actually had to get a replacement card because I hadn't used it in so long I had no idea where it was. But I have it back now, and I'm excited to take "L" to what was one of my favorite places as a child.
Another dilemma: I had a gift certificate to a local running store, Runners Roost, that I'd won by finishing third in my age group at a 10k race in December, which was set to expire March 31st. Since I couldn't buy anything for myself, I used it get Brad a new dri-fit shirt. He hardly ever buys himself new workout clothes; whereas, me, um, yeah . . . I have almost thirty pairs of Nike tempo track shorts alone. I definitely didn't need anything from the Roost, but I also couldn't bear letting my hard-earned winnings be wasted.
Then, about a week into Lent, I accidentally sent my iPod nano through the wash and it quit working. I listen to podcasts while I run; it's one of the most enjoyable parts of my day. And I was horrified at the thought of running with just me and my thoughts for company. Gah! Brad quickly volunteered to buy me a new one (what a sweetheart), but I declined. It just seemed like cheating to let him do that. Well, after a few days on a windowsill in the sunshine the iPod started working again, but I know in my heart I would've made it through with or without my iPod. And it was such a great feeling, not immediately filling my desire for something.
Although, let's be real, I probably would've shown up at the Apple store on Easter Sunday for a new one!
Overall, the experience has really revealed a lot to me about me--how I was pretty much a constant consumer, buying stuff I really don't need and spending money that could be put to better use.
Since I haven't been spending money on myself, I've been thinking more about others. Many adoptive families must raise money to fund their adoptions, so I've sent some support to fellow adoptive parents for their journey.
I stumbled across a great website called Give1Save1, which features a new family every week that is adopting from Africa. (And Haiti and Asia, but I've focused on the African adoptions, at least for now.) These families don't ask for much, just a dollar; it's the power of many helping one. How awesome is that?
Oh, and I bought a cow for some women in Uganda. Yes, seriously. That's going to get it's very own blog post when the pictures come, so stay tuned. Because you'll want to buy a cow, too.