Tuesday, May 12, 2009


No, this has nothing to do with the virus I had last week. That, thankfully, miraculously left me in time to help my beautiful eleven year-old celebrate her special day. (Thank you, Lord!)

I'm feeling nauseated today for two diverse but sadly related illnesses. Materialism and poverty.

Last month I took my daughter for a check-up at her orthodontist. Our dentist was concerned about some crowding going on in Chelsea's mouth and asked us to consult with an ortho. And so, once a year, we visit for a check-up and see how things are progressing as she matures and looses her baby teeth. Normal stuff, right?

I've had braces myself, twice. My husband, three times. While braces can be necessary and help prevent all kinds of problems, they aren't necessarily a matter of life and death.

Our youngest was born cleft-affected and will most likely need braces. The fact that she has a tooth growing out of the roof of her mouth makes braces seem like a really good idea. She could probably survive without them, but will most likely struggle with ongoing dental problems and pain. While she is too young to really notice the scar on her lip or be bothered by the gap in her gum, at some point, braces will most likely be a benefit for her self-esteem.

We originally thought that our oldest would need braces for similar, but not as serious reasons. And while the expense will hit our budget hard, we're happy to do whatever we can to bless and care for all of our children.

These were the thoughts circulating around my brain as the orthodontist examined Chelsea's teeth. She then went on to ask Chelsea if anything was bothering about her teeth, mouth or smile. Good question, right?

Indeed, my daughter was having some pain in her bite because of loose teeth, but no other issues. The dentist gave me unexpected good news. It looks like things had drastically changed since her last appointment and braces were no longer a necessity at this point.

She then went on to ask my daughter how she felt about that. My daughter, who had just been fitted for new glasses that morning, had been hoping for braces. Seems she really has been envying other kids with multi-colored bands. She had been secretly hoping for braces. Kinda like another fashion accessory, but for a whole lot of money and facial pain.

I understand that this is a normal thought-process for pre-teens and it actually made me smile.

The smile quickly faded from my face when our orthodontist went on to explain to me that "If Chelsea really wanted braces, we could go ahead and put on braces (although not needed) about eighteen months early." We would then wait for her mouth structure to catch up before doing some highly cosmetic work on her smile.

I just about fell out of my chair. Me, the girl who can't seem to write a short blog post for the life of me, couldn't spare a single word to speak. It was impossible for me to fathom that this medical professional actually thought that we would willingly hand over several thousand dollars and several years of our lives because a ten-year-old thought braces were cool. Like a new silver bangle for her wrist.

It was the same nausea I had today at the mall as I outfitted my three kiddos with new shoes. The lady at the Crocs store asked my three year old how many little Dora pins she wanted on her shoes. My sweet girl answered FIVE. The sale clerk then told her, "OK, we'll just add those to your mom's bill." NO THANK YOU, Ma'am.

Why did she "need" five Dora's? Well, because Mom didn't want to buy her the adorable (and yet shockingly close to neon) lime green shoes. Huh? Even my suddenly mature eleven-year-old understood how inappropriate it was for this line of conversation to even take place. She later agreed that it was to any child's best interest for their parents to give into their every whim.

Crazy world, indeed. I'm still rubbing my head and feeling extremely nauseated by the "must haves" that have so sadly drowned out the quiet cries of those around the world who are so hungry because their essential needs are not being met.

Without any type of food available to eat, my Friends, our brothers and sisters in countries such as Uganda are eating cow dung in order to survive one more day. Nauseated yet? Sorry, but it is a reality. A very, very sad reality.

And, for the record, my kids aren't the only ones who have fallen prey to the world's deception that says we need all of this "stuff." Sadly, they've learned it from their mother, who also happens to be their school teacher. We've got a lot of unlearning to do, I'm afraid. :-(

Learning that truly LIVING A BLESSED LIFE means living with less and giving more.


Charlene said...

Great post! As always, I love your heart and passion for growing deeper in God. You know I'm having issues with this with our new room. While I am going to most definitely enjoy it, I also can't help but think--this room could be another adoption, this room could sponsor children or surgeries...

Francis Chan talked about this on YouTube. This is what he said "Someone asked me recently why I don't save money for emergencies, or retirement. My answer was how can I justify saving for myself "just in case" something happens to me when something IS happening to so many already. 29,000 kids will die today of preventable causes

Wow! To have a heart and faith like that. Can't imagine DH allowing that! LOL

emily said...

As the wife of an orthodontist, such an interesting post. I love that my husband is willing, and has lost patients over this same issue. "She really doesn't need them"......."well, she really wants them because all of her friends have them" Total child-centered parenting I guess.

Love that you are stirred to the core over these things--kindred spirit for sure.

Becky Ryder said...

I find its really hard to teach my kids contentment. Try not to be too disheartened though, you are among the few who want to raise your children to live a selfless life.

It will come and the fruit of obedience will grow because you put your trust in God!! I thought of that this morning. My kids don't always have good days but it will get better because we've given them over to God:)

As a side laugh, I got braces when I married Scott, he asked me, "Is it vain?" That wasn't the reason for them but at least I had a heart check!

HisFireFly said...

When we were in Kampala last year, someone asked one of our hosts if people die of starvation there. He said that in the city they are blessed because they can always go eat at the garbage dump, they more rural areas are not so lucky.

Can you imagine any of us westerners claiming to be lucky and blessed to eat garbage?

Amen to your words today, we all have aa lot of relearning to do indeed!