My Day at the Fair

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Hi, it’s me, “Baby A.” I logged into my dad’s blog again.

Yesterday, my parents took me to the Kentucky State Fair. Being only seven months old, I’m safe to say this is the first fair I have ever been to.

First thing’s first. The smells! Okay, so I know I don’t produce very good smells, but good grief! The next time my dad complains about how bad my diapers smell, I’m going to grab my dad’s nose (because I’ve mastered that by now), crawl right down to the nearest farm, and stick his face up to a cow’s bottom.

Speaking of cows, my dad got in trouble by Mom saying something like, “No wonder they look so sad, they’ve all got a gloom future ahead of them.” I wonder what he means by that.

But on a completely different subject, there was a lot of meats and steaks and pork, and it all smelled so good! Sure, the only thing I like at the moment is formula, sweet potatoes, and fluffy pieces of bread, but I’m sure I’ll learn how to eat all that other stuff.

My dad got to check off something from his bucket list. He got himself a donut burger from donutKrispy Kreme. He kept saying, “I’m not getting any younger,” like he was psyching himself up to actually do it after talking about it half the day. Mom thought he was nuts and made him promise that that would be his only one. He promised it would be, but I wonder how serious he was. I thought only babies were supposed to be gross!

We got to see this thing called the horse and mull pull. It’s where they see how many pounds these animals can pull before they get-attachment-1.aspxbreak their legs or something. I was feeling sad by how hard they were having to work, so I started crying halfway through. I like doing that sometimes, just to make Mom and Dad uncomfortable.

I wonder if I’ll remember these days when I’m older. Probably not, but my parents will, and I think it’s good for people to get out and do fun things like go to the fair, or drive by a lake, or pack a picnic and take the dogs (and the baby) to the park for an evening.

After all, that’s what makes life worth living, isn’t it? Those little things? At least that’s what I’ve been told.

But all in all, it was  a fun day! I got as hot and sweaty as I’ve ever been, Daddy got a tummy ache, and Mommy got to get out of the house. I hope we go again next year so I can try one of those donut burgers with Daddy, then beg him to take me on a bunch of spinny-twirly rides afterwards.

I’ll be tall enough for those by then, right?

10 Movies About Adoption No. 3: Lilo and Stitch

WallpaperIf you Google a list of adoption movies, Lilo and Stitch isn’t likely to be there. True, it was overlooked by many since it came out durring Disney’s sub-par years, but it’s actually a little gem wedged between the direct-to-video Cinderella II and the deplorable Country Bears. So because of Disney’s track-record the studio was setting for itself at the time, it’s easy to see why many opted out of watching this movie about a destructive alien invading Hawaii.

But it’s good. It’s not a masterpiece, or unforgettable, but it’s a good flick to pop in while the kids are still up and about.

In it, the alien Stitch ends up being adopted by Lilo’s older sister (sorry – spoiler alert). But I think it’s a good reminder that families can be made up of many different nationalities and cultures. And besides that, people outside the world of adoption often can’t imagine adopting a “destructive” or “wild” child, which is essentially what Stich is.

Our seven-month-old is going through a very grouchy stage right now. She’s frustrated that she can’t move on her own from point A to point B. So she cries all day long. Toys don’t make her happy, pacifiers don’t pacify, and don’t even bother trying to put her to sleep – you might as well try taming a rabid zombie.

But still, that doesn’t matter. We love her even when she’s kicking and screaming and blowing bubbles so forcefully that it sprays all over the spinning ceiling fan. And so what if she’s a little loud because she’s teething (or not teething)?

But there’s a line in Lilo and Stitch that we often use in our family, as I’m sure most other fans of the movie use as well:

“Ohana” means “Family” and “Family” means no one gets left behind.

I’m sure our little girl will cause us some headaches and give us ulcers in the coming years, but she’s still our family, and once she is adopted, always will be.

Some foster parents are amazing enough to take in older kids – kids that society has deemed as “troubled” or “a nuisance” – like Stitch. But they’re still worthy of our love and care. They’re still as valuable as anyone else. And they still need a family just like anyone else.

And they’ll probably require a lot more love and attention than other kids, but I think in the end, it can be worth the effort.

This is my family. I found it, all on my own. Is little and broken, but still good. Yeah, still good.

Observing a Life

genieWe’ve been hit with some pretty big celebrity deaths during the past five years, and they seem to hit closer and closer to home.

We still download Michael Jackson’s music while we watch Heath Ledger’s memorable portrayal of the Joker on our Macs and iPads that were of Steve Jobs’ genius design.

dead poetsBut most of us found ourselves rummaging through our old DVDs and VHS tapes yesterday, still trying to get over the shock of Robin Williams’ sudden passing.

No one would have guessed he’d be next.

I was at a restaurant when I saw the breaking news pop up on the TV monitor. There was no shortage of gasps. Throughout the rest of the evening I talked with friends and coworkers about his death, and what shocked me was the wide variety of responses I heard.

One guy said, “Just think of the movie marathons that’ll happen this week.”

When CNN erroneously reported that Mr. Williams had died of a heart attack, another guy said, “I’m more than half that age. That could be me soon.”

My best friend texted me an adage from one of our favorites, Hook: “To die will be an hook_robin-williams_spielbergawfully big adventure.”

Shockingly, someone said, “Good riddance.” When I asked for clarity, he said he never thought Robin Williams was funny. That was a first.

One girl started crying.

Another guy said, “I always thought he’d out himself; he just seemed too happy on the outside.”

And someone else, out of anger and hurt, said, “What did Robin Williams have to be upset about?”

jackNo matter what your thoughts are, there is likely not a person in America who hasn’t seen a movie with him in it, or voiced by him. I mean, who hasn’t already thought of Genie’s “Never Had a Friend Like Me” since the news hit?

But his death, in particular his suicide, kind of jolts me. The guy who said, “What did Robin Williams have to be upset about?” got me thinking, as each celebrity suicide does. You remember Tony Scott, the Top Gun director who jumped off a bridge a few years back? People asked the same thing of him.

I don’t know these people, but I know that they had a whole lot of the one thing we’re all Mrs-Doubtfire-robin-williams-33200263-1024-768after. We’re all after that one thing that we think will obliterate all of our problems. I find myself thinking, quite often, how I would love to be rich. Filthy, stinking, rich. Not to buy things, really, but to set it aside in savings.

Go out to eat wherever I want. Take my wife to Hawaii and Tahiti, just for the fun of it, as often as we’d like. Not have to work. Not sweat when I write the check for the mortgage. Get whatever we want at the grocery store each week. Open up an orphanage.

You know, little things like that.

We think money will afford us all these things (no pun intended). But clearly there was something else Robin Williams was after. And I’m not saying suicide is reserved for the rich and famous. Poor people are prone to it, good people, bad people, lonely people, popular people. But we have this idea that if we just have enough money, we’d be exempt from depression and sadness and bad hair days and week-long laundry piles.

patchadams-1024x576But depression can sneak in and grab anyone. Even Christians.

I am reminded today that we ought not to struggle and fight and work for the things of this world, for it is all temporary and fleeting. But to struggle for what comes after this world, the promise that there is a Kingdom for those who believe in Jesus Christ where all tears will be wiped away, and there will be no more dying or sadness or struggle ever again.

I am grateful for the life of Robin Williams, the inspiration behind so many iconic movie characters, the source of so many jokes, and the heart behind countless movie scenes that have touched us deeply. And though I’m deeply upset by his death, I’m glad that it causes us all to stop and think about what we’re clawing after, what we’re striving for, and remind us to do a maintenance check on our hearts and motives to see that we’re heading in a direction that is healthy and life-giving.

I’ll leave you with a statement from President Barack Obama that I found quite touching.

“Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit.”

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What Your Next Bible Study Book Should Be…

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I don’t read very many Christian books, mostly because I don’t like 50 different people resaying the same things, so I’m very selective with my Christian reading list. But every so often I’ll pick one up that really stands out on its own.

The one I recently ran across is by a new author, Ken Ruggles from Southern California, who writes about a Messiah who doesn’t come to give peace, nor offer comfort, nor sit idly by as a mere observer. He writes, instead, about the Jesus of the Bible who comes as a disturber – a Disruptive Messiah, if you will.

Ruggles walks his readers through thirteen separate instances of Jesus’ life, beginning with His birth and ending with His entry into Jerusalem. Ruggles’ vast knowledge of the mid-Eastern landscape and culture, particularly in regards to biblical times, aids his readers in having a clearer understanding of the background surrounding the particular stories he calls to attention.

You can read The Disruptive Messiah on your own, but I think it would best be discovered as a small group discussion guide as each chapter is conveniently bookended with thoughtful questions for reflection.

Ken Ruggles isn’t the pastor of a church, nor some high-profile missionary, which is to his credit because he is able to relate to his readers on their level and meet them where they’re at. It is his many years of study and teaching and traveling to the Promised Land that affords him the credibility to teach us about Jesus from a unique perspective.

So grab a copy for yourself and talk to your Bible study leaders about making The Disruptive Messiah your next discussion guide.

Order your copy here.

Hugs

Shel Silversteen penned a poem called “Hug-O-War.” You’d probably remember it if I started it off for you:

I will not play tug-o-war.mar15

I’d rather play hug-o-war.

Where everyone hugs

Instead of tugs,

Where everyone giggles

and rolls on the rug…

I don’t do hugs. They’re just not my thing.

dtv-tommyboyKids hug parents. Girls hug puppies. Heavy-set people give bear hugs. Women hug women. Tommy Boy hugs.

But I, Andrew, do not hug. I’ll shake your hand, or even better, I’ll high-five or fist-bump you. (“Knucks!”) But the best of all is a head nod. “Hey. What’s up?”

“Nothing. You?”

“Not much. See ya.”

“See ya.”

But there’s a problem with all of this. I don’t like hugs, but

I’m married.

And my spouse is a woman.

And women hug.

My wife likes hugs.

The first time Sarabeth and I hung out together as a couple, we could have hugged when I said good night.handshake

But we didn’t. I shook her hand. No joke.

But here’s the thing. Sarabeth knows me and my needs. She knows that I need affirmation and compliments. And she doesn’t give out compliments freely. But she gives them generously to me because she knows I need them.

So it’s only fair that I hug her more than once a week.

Because I love her.

What does your spouse love? What do they need every day?

My wife needs hugs.

10 Movies About Adoption No. 2: Punky Brewster

Screen-Shot-2014-04-05-at-15.55.02No, this isn’t a movie, but you probably remember this show from the ’80s, about an orphaned girl with mismatched socks and her dog Brandon who were adopted by the old, grouchy, set-in-his-ways Henry Warnimont.

Punky Brewster’s mom ditched her in a grocery store. The eight-year-old was suddenly and unexpectadly abandoned with no one but her dog to comfort her. She and Brandon find themselves living in an empty apartment when the landlord, Henry, finds them occupying the space.

After a series of mishaps, Henry decides to make Punky his foster daughter. At the end of two seasons Henry then proceeds to adopt Punky Brewster to maker her his daughter forever.

True, it’s no Office or Big Bang Theory. Humor-wise it’s proabably closer to Full House than Home Improvement, but it does embody the themes that we are living out in our household with Baby A. being our foster daughter. And it’s a show I plan on using as a tool to help educate our little girl about the journey her mom and me are on in trying to secure her officially as our daughter.

I’m taking the time to point this show out because in an emotional 5-part strand of episodes, entitled “Changes,” in season 2, the show walks viewers through the process of moving from foster care to adoption.

If you haven’t lived out the process, it can be difficult separating foster care from adoption and foster-to-adopt from adoption and all the terms can get kind of jumbled and confusing. You can Youtube “Punky Brewster – Changes” and a list of the five episodes will come up.

If you have an adopted child, sometimes it can be comforting to know that they’re not alone and that there’s nothing wrong or weird about being adopted. Punky never shows resentment toward her foster dad or spends her time hashing out the what-could-have-beens in her life – not that there’s not an appropriate time to do that – but instead, she looks toward the future with hope and optimism with her new father and she recognizes that he loves her just as if she were his biological daughter.

After all, even though Baby A. wasn’t born to us, it’s impossible not to see her as one of our own. And hopefully she’ll always feel that way toward us.

10 Movies About Adoption No. 1: 101 Dalmatians

101dalmatians2lgIt’s very likely that we will be adopting our foster daughter soon, unless something unexpected comes up. So Sarabeth and I are now shifting our focus from Baby A. being in our house for a short time to her being our permanent daughter. And that means that one day, we’ll be explaining to her that she was adopted.

One way for big ideas like that to make a little more sense are through stories. Jesus told parables to make big ideas relatable, or somewhat understandable, and I plan to do the same for Baby A. when she’s older. One story I plan on sharing with her is 101 Dalmatians.

Whether we read the excellent book by Dottie Smith or watch the movie, I’ll share with her that she is like one of the 84 orphaned dalmatian puppies who were on death row. (Except she wasn’t on death row.) But they had no parents. They were lost and alone in a cruel, cold world.

But when Pongo and Perdita were brought to the DeVille Mansion, they hardly had a second thought about taking their 15 biological puppies, along with the 84 others, with them back home.

Just like when we met Baby A. in the hospital, we had no reservations about taking her home to live with us as one of our own.

And to take it a step further, all of us were on death row once, in a cold, dark cell (and many still are), where Satan was feeding us luscious treats and tempting sins to fatten us up, readying us for the slaughter. Until Jesus Christ broke in and rescued us by His death on the cross. He extended His hand for all of us to come home with Him, but only a few of us went with Him, and those few became God’s children through adoption.

The purpose of this series is to point out the adoption themes in some of our most cherished stories so that we can share them with our kids to better help them understand the concept of adoption and the beauty of its life-altering power.

I’ll hope you’ll check back for nine other movies that can be used as a wonderful tool to help explain adoption to our kids.

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