Thursday, August 28, 2008
So far, I haven't really done much research on any of the Presidential candidates because of the my state's position in the primaries. We hold our primary so late in the primary season that anyone who wants to vote in the primary really doesn't have much say because the actual nomination is usually already secured. I'm also registered as an independent so I don't get to vote in primaries anyway.
Tonight, there was quite a bit of hubub about who John McCain would choose so D started doing some research online. We did find a website that I thought was fairly impartial and based on facts like voting records and quotations. The website, On the Issues, did not appear to be put out by any political party or special interest group. It listed each candidate and their positions on many important issues. At the very bottom of the page was the part I found most helpful. It had a table with statements like "A woman has a right to an abortion" on one side followed by a rating like "strongly opposes" or "agrees". The second side contained a summary of their voting record and comments which then linked the record or the comment to the way in which it either supported or denounced the original statement. It does look like the website hasn't been updated in a while so I hope they do. But I also kind of feel like anything any candidate has said or voted on in the last year and a half really doesn't count because it was probably a calculated decision based on what he thought would appeal to voters.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
It seemed perfect. D's mom loved angels and the resurrection story is such a sweet reminder of our own reunion with Jesus. The print itself has such vivid colors. I also love the thick black lines and the Picasso like faces.
I found the print from a website which works to help Christian artists, Missionary Arts. One of the main ways it does so is by creating an outlet for missionaries to sell their work as a means of raising support. Christian artists can also sell their work to support specific ministries.
He Qi is the artist who created this piece. He is a Chinese artist who is world reknown for his paintings and prints. I know several of you who read this have adopted or are adopting Chinese children and personally I think his work would be great for your families because of the way he allows his heritage to be proudly interwoven into his art. Many of his pieces have Bible characters portrayed as Asians. It's very unique; I've never seen an Asian rendition of Jesus until I looked at his work. And he has a very beautiful picture of Moses being found in the water which has the court women wearing kimonos. It has great water lily type tones of green and blue. And the best part is that it's good art! He uses line and color and perspective as well as some great abstract/cubist thinking. Anyway, he's definitely worth checking out.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Unfortunately, there is another step after that: getting a US visa. I feel like we're a bit behind on that but there really isn't much I can do about it. Our main concern stems from having an appointment for Kenson's birth mom where she meets with US Immigration. We have not yet been given permission to schedule this appointment. Again, hopefully soon we'll be hearing the news that we can schedule her appointment.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
I just started the book The Shack. If you haven't heard about the book, a lot of people are reading it and giving it high praises. The book tells the story of a family devestated by the unsolved disappearance of their little girl. In the story, the father is invited back to the scene of the crime, the shack. The invitation comes in an unstamped envelope in the mail and is signed "Papa." The father goes and encounters God in the shack in some very unusual but intensely personal ways. Through his experience at the shack, the father gets to ask God his questions about God's character including how God can allow such bad things to happen in life.
Here are the words I read tonight that just totally stood out to me in light of the conversation I had with God this morning. The father in the book asks God what good could possibly justify his daughter's disappearance. God's response? I am not here to justify it; I am here to redeem it.
Thanks God for cracking me up! For using the same exact words in two distinct ways to remind me of what You've said and what Your character is always about.
Praise God that He will not justify our wait, Kenson's wait, or Conleigh's wait. He will redeem it!
This week though I've thought a lot about how I might be a lot like a little kid or an belligerent teenager because I also have a perspective problem. I can't see things the same way God sees them. I've thought about God's perspective in terms of global poverty because of a web based movement called Living Faith Can End Poverty. I've wondered what the spiritual impact of ending poverty might be, ie does God think poverty is as terrible as we see it because He recognizes how faith is stirred in people who have nothing? I've thought about God's perspective in terms of writing short term mission support letters because a blog I read, Stuff Christians Like, published a satiral look at short term mission support letters and if they were appropriate. That post on the blog got a lot of feedback with many people loosing sight of the big picture and discussing how they would support someone who sent them a letter but only if the letter were worded in specific ways. I couldn't help but wonder what God thought of that performance based standard. On both issues, I would never pretend to know what God really thinks because I really don't know. (And on the poverty issue, don't think I'm advocating we all sell our stuff because the poor have a monopoly on faith or that I would support the idea that it really isn't that rotten to be poor because you get the chance to be really spiritually rich, because I don't believe either of those.)
And I also have spent time wondering what God thinks of Kenson and Conleigh's wait. That's something I always think about and, since the beginning, I have always tried to view the wait through God's eyes. For me, the wait has definitely gotten a lot more intense in the last two months. And that added intensity has made for a lot more tears and a lot more weakness on my part. It's interesting because always before when I talked with God about what He thought about the wait, the response I always seemed to get was more along the lines of "Keep the faith. Don't let the wait dishearten you. I will follow through on this." But today, it was different. Today, I heard "The wait makes me mad. It makes me hurt to know that the paperwork is done but the process is still not finished. But I promise to redeem the wait."
May my perspective in all things be Yours, O God. In my prayers, in my needs, in my confusion, in my hurts, may I see what You see and how You've already got a plan in place.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
The title above sums up my day yesterday. (Or at least part of my day.) I subbed in kindergarten from 8:15-11:20 on the fifth day of school. For those of you who don't know there are many analogies that could be said about doing anything with a class of kindergarteners the first few days of school. Herding cats on horseback...squeezing a full tube of toothpaste back into a tube....wrestling a half dozen alligators while herding cats and squeezing toothpaste back into the tube. All are pretty appropriate descriptions of what happens when kindergartens start school. Generally speaking, in our school, you've got scared, nervous, excited, confused five year olds many of whom have never sat down in an academic setting. You teach everything as if no one knows how to do it. You teach how to sit on the floor and not bother your neighbor. You teach how to get up and get in a line not a clump. You teach how to hold scissors. You teach how to turn the paper when you're trying to cut with scissors. You teach the names of the colors in English and Spanish and then spend extra time with the Chinese kid because he is totally lost. (Seriously part of my day yesterday.)
And you get to see and hear so much. Like "Ta dah! I just wrote my name!" And "My favorite color is lleloh!" (Not politically correct to chuckle at speech lisps but seriously, it's very cute.)
I also had the pleasure of explaining to these new kindergarteners what a substitute teacher was. If you haven't really worked with kids before, you might not understand how confusing that is. There are always a few kids even in first grade who wonder if their real teacher is coming back. But not to worry, as I'm explaining that their teacher would indeed be back after lunch, one little girl decided she better voice her concerns about the teacher's absence. "Are you funny?" she asked. Good to know what kindergarteners worry about. Hope I left her with her worries at bay.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Saturday, August 16, 2008
I think that Christianity has two emphases.
One is a social emphasis to impart the values of the kingdom of God in society - to relieve the sufferings of the poor, to stand up for the oppressed, to be a voice for those who have no voice.
The other emphasis is to bring people into a personal, transforming relationship with Christ, where they feel the joy and the love of God in their lives. That they manifest what the fifth chapter of Galatians calls 'the fruit of the Spirit'.
Fundamentalism has emphasized the latter, mainline churches have emphasized the former.We cannot neglect one for the other."-Tony Campolo
Prayer lays hold of God’s plan and becomes the link between His will and its accomplishment on earth. Elisabeth Elliot
On living with others...
Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you. Augustine of Hippo
I have come to realize more and more that the greatest disease and the greatest suffering is to be unwanted, unloved, uncared for, to be shunned by everybody, to be just nobody (to no one). Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Friday, August 15, 2008
I also have been thinking about parenting from an attachment standpoint and recognize how D and I will be parenting children who, for all of our love and affection, will possibly always have a piece of them that wonders "Why wasn't I good enough to stay with my birth mom?" Parenting a child who may struggle with attachment is different but it certainly doesn't mean you don't discipline. But I know I've already had some worries about knowing what to do to deal with the attachment part while disciplining. As a teacher, discipline comes relatively easy to me. I've had to be creative, I've been forced to keep my cool rather than just blow up, I've had lots of difference experiences with lots of different children. But the attachment aspect of it is a bit overwhelming to me. Generally, I worry about doing things right and parenting is no different. It's so easy for me to think that because I did x instead of y my child will be scarred for life.
But this book puts focus on grace, which I love. I've always done that as a teacher, even when disciplining in a public school. Grace is so important for my kids to receive. Grace that doesn't overlook bad behavior but loves them in spite of it. Grace that tells them "No matter what, you are always precious to God not because of what you do or did but because of Whose you are." Grace that chases them and pursues them even when they push away and run for cover.
I also liked the way grace was applied to parents who have failed or made mistakes. Something I read this week from this book was that children don't need perfect parents, just authentic ones. As someone who can get a bit stuck in perfection mode, this was encouraging to me. I will make mistakes as a parent but it's up to me to make sure those mistakes honor God and teach my child about God. I love that God will not let even my worst moments go to waste. The idea of dealing with my sin in front of my children in a honest authentic way helps me to see how those mistakes can be used by God for good.
The author also spoke of the role of the Holy Spirit in discipline which I have to say I had really not thought of. Again, it's a simple concept but one I just hadn't really considered. She wrote that it is not a parent's job to convict a child of his mistakes. That job belongs only to the Holy Spirit. Are parents responsible for guiding a child to hear the Holy Spirit? Certainly. Are parents responsible for telling them what the Bible says about a specific behavior, thus imparting Godly wisdom to their children? Definitely. But parents cannot make a child repent. I can make a child feel badly. I can make a child feel scared. I can make a child not want to do something again for fear of punishment. But only God can affect their heart. For me, that was reassuring. It's not all up to me to make sure my kids turn out right. God will work on their hearts, if I let Him.
Okay, this is a bit long. I hadn't really realized how much I had been in thought about until I started typing. As far as the book goes, it would be on my recommend to others list. For me it has helped me connect the ideals I've had in my head about how I want to raise my kids with some concrete examples of things I can do. The author has also written another book called The Ministry of Motherhood which I'm also planning to read. Hopefully it will a productive read as well.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Today is D's first day of school with kids. I was going to get up and make him a hot breakfast but he was going to leave earlier than normal and said he probably wouldn't have time. Maybe another day. D didn't actually have kids today because of the shortened schedule. Since he teaches a special class, the regular classroom teachers felt like they wouldn't have had enough time with their kids if they sent the kids to D for an hour so that gives him more time to finish getting his room ready. D went last week to prepare but managed to find two soccer games going on on two separate days so some of his preparing was interupted by soccer. Hard to imagine with D, I know! Due to a schedule change, D has kindergarten first thing in the morning. If he's not fully awake by the time they come, I'm sure he will be afterwards!
It's also the first first day of school that I have not had to prepare for in quite a while. Not as wierd as I though it would be, although a few weeks ago, I found myself thinking in a craft store "Wow! Those letters would make a great bulliten board." But generally the transition to not teaching full time hasn't been too bad. For those of you who don't know, I'm planning to substitute as much as I can until Kenson comes home. Then I will be able to take as much time as I want off once he arrives. After that, I am thinking I will sub a couple days out of the week, once Kenson seems to be adjusting. That part will probably be a play it by ear situation with lots of flexibility as to when and for how long.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Monday, August 11, 2008
2. Projectiles in husband/wife warfare (D loves to chuck them at me when we're outside.)
3. Homes for worms (Gross...but true.)
4. Foot massagers (Walk under our crab apple tree barefoot and you'll get the idea)
5. Apple butter (Which I made last night. It's kind of tart and I'm a little disappointed in the way the seeds didn't get as pulverized as I would have liked but still it's pretty tasty.)
From this to this...
Friday, August 8, 2008
This is the part where adoption can make you crazy. You start comparing stuff to other families. You start getting upset. You start freaking out because of the loss of weeks and days. Using a July 1 entry date would put us exiting MOI in November with then hopefully a 3-4 week wait for a visa and then home. Could be slower, could be faster. Parts of this week were hard because we went from an optomistic October homecoming to a probably December homecoming. I was really hoping to hear that our long form in the MOI office had been filled out. Those kinds of updates are the worst; the ones where you are hoping that task x has been accomplished but instead you find yourself further behind than that step.
Our prayers for Kenson's process are that we would exit MOI quickly and that our documents would have no mistakes that would cause things to have to be redone. We also would ask for prayers for Juislene, Kenson's birth mom. She has to go to the US visa office in order for our adoption to be completed. She must have an identification card to get into the building. We have to schedule her appointment but are waiting to hear that she has an id card so we can make the appoinment. Also, this will be the last time (out of at least 3) where she will be stating her desire for Kenson to be adopted. It can not be easy to tell your wishes on such a serious and sad thing.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
This year, since I was doing a training for my job, I took brownies to the training to share with others. I just added the photo.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
My prayer for him and any other kiddo that's ever had to miss a birthday celebration-
Lord God, press into their hearts the way they've been yearned for and missed. May they understand with unbelievable accuracy the depth to which their parents and friends hurt over the missing moments. May they recognize that many people chose to celebrate their birthdays because it means celebrating the moment they were born. May they know how others see that day as special because they see that child as special in so many ways. And Lord, may You honor those moments that feel like lost moments. Somehow turn those lost moments into good. Amen.