Big Week For Baby A

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So last week our foster daughter and Sarabeth went to Florida to visit her family. According to Sarabeth, our little girl did wonderful on the airplane, so if you’re stuck on a plane with a crying baby and an overwhelmed mother, you can bet it’s not my wife or daughter.

Well, Baby A did two things this week which I’m thankful she didn’t do in Florida while I was at home here in Kentucky.

Two days ago, Sarabeth was holding Baby A and the dachshunds began licking her feet and Baby A just laughed, and laughed. Part of me thinks she began laughing so hard because she figured out that she could laugh! Probably one of the best sounds I’ve ever heard.

And this morning, just moments ago, Baby A rolled over. First onto her belly then onto her back.

Needless to say, Sarabeth and I are very proud. In fact, after I write this post, I’m going to probably start drafting up her college resume.

Baby A, proficient at giggling and rolling over. My aspirations include being an attentive audience member at local comedy clubs and teaching fire drills (“stop, drop, and rooollllll”).

On the grand scheme of things, I’m sure these aren’t really big happenings. I’m sure back in colonial times it was like, “Look Pa, Junior just took his first step.”

“‘Bout dog-gone time. Hand him that there pile of wood and he can take it out back and chop it for the fire.”

But then, is it such a big deal when we do the things we do? Like, get a job, or pass an important exam, or earn one of those Fortune 500 Company jackets? To us, those are pretty significant deals.

But I wonder what God thinks. After all, have you ever created an entire cosmos? Have you ever begotten a living creature (or made one out of the dust)? Have you ever walked on water unassisted, or calmed a storm, or healed a blind man with mud?

Yet, God is pleased with us. Just like Sarabeth and I are pleased with our daughter for the littlest of things (but mostly for going to sleep!) – things that we’ve been doing ourselves for 30-plus years. Things that human beings all over the globe, all across the span of time have been mastering since the Garden.

All of Heaven rejoices when we enter into adoption by God as His child. A great cloud of witnesses hangs over the mist to marvel at our spiritual accomplishments and cheer us on to further endeavors, challenges those ghosts have likely bested while they were like us.

So, yeah. I’m pretty proud of my little girl. But then again, I’d be just as proud if she never rolled over.

Bet You Never Thought of These Five Ways to Prepare for a Baby

babd-baby-names-crying-baby-e1333102292894Jim Halpert on The Office said it best: “Having a baby is exhausting.”

So for you people who haven’t had a baby yet, here is a list of things I wish I’d done to prepare before bringing Baby A. home:

1) Practice smiling. A lot. When you’re changing a diaper at 3 in the morning, the last thing you feel like doing is smiling. But think about it, if you’re a baby stuck on your back and some person comes up and starts tampering with your personal space, you’re already going to be a little uncomfortable. So practice smiling in unusual or stressful situations (I don’t recommend doing this when you’re arguing with your spouse). A little smile could go a long way while your baby’s helplessly looking up at you while his southern region is flooding.

2) Learn to do things one-handed. I write and edit books. And Baby A. needs to be held a lot. So I’ve had to quickly master the art of typing with one hand. Move over, Mavis Beacon, I’m getting up to 35-wpm! (Really, it’s like texting on Zack Morris’s phone.) You’ve got to learn to do other things with one hand as well. As soon as we brought Baby A. home, I coined a phrase, “Gain a baby, lose an arm.”

3) Learn the lyrics to songs. I’m awful – absolutely awful - at remembering the lyrics to songs. I sound like this in the car: “Let it go, let it go. Bum-dum-dee-dum-anymore…” So when I’m trying to sing Carolina on My Mind to Baby A., and I reach the verses I don’t know the words to, I start making up ridiculous lyrics that can tend to be offensive or just plain nonsensical. Baby’s don’t need to hear that stuff. And I refuse to do nursery songs because once you start down that road, I know it could take years to get them out of your head.

4) Watch all your R-rated movies before the baby comes home. I’ve always got to be either working, watching something, eating, or reading. And, living the the 21st century, you’re probably the same way. While feeding the baby, watching something is the only realistic thing I can do without making a stinky, formulaic mess all over the couch (“Feed a baby, lose both arms”). It’s generally not a good idea to have John McCane yelling, “Yippee Ki-yay, mother —-er” with the baby nearby. So baby proof your home by getting the R-rated movies out of your system before she comes home.

5) If possible, take a stealth class. When it’s midnight and the baby is finally falling asleep in your arms, you don’t want to be jostling him around while standing up from the couch and walking him to his crib. Learn to move with poise and grace. Learn to open the refrigerator without making any noise. Get good at tiptoeing. Be okay with not flushing until later (just kidding). And, if applicable, learn to craft anonymous notes with cut-up letters to tape to your neighbor’s door telling them to keep the noise down or you’ll set their poodle on fire and leave the remains in their pantry.

That’s all I’ve got for now. If you think of any more, share them in the comment section below.

*Note: The picture above is not our baby (ours is much, much cuter – no offense,  baby in the picture). I just googled “crying baby” and choose the funniest one.

She’s Not a James, But…

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I’ve been married for five years, and I just fell in love again.

You’re probably aware that Sarabeth and I have been in the process of becoming foster-to-adopt parents.

We’ve been longing for a child all these years.

Well, we finally got a call last week for a little girl born a month-and-a-half early.

So through a whirlwind of confusion and excitement, we’ve been at the hospital visiting with our beautiful, gorgeous, foster daughter whom I’ll call “A” for privacy reasons.

Seriously, for the first time ever I understand what the big deal is about babies.

I mean, I’ve always been pro-life and have understood the value of a baby’s life, but loving a baby?

Yeah. That’s a new one for me.

Now, we fully understand that, as foster-to-adopt parents, we may not be able to keep her—that there’s only a chance that our time together will end in adoption and little “A” becomes “A. Toy.”

It’s a fear and a faith we’ve never known. But more on that in later posts.

She’s not home with us yet. She’s still at the hospital, but we’ve got everything ready for her big arrival day later this week.

In the meantimes, I’ve learned a few things this weekend as a foster dad:

How to change diapers.

How to swaddle.

That I chose the best wife to be the best mother.

That out of respect for little “A,” I’ll always keep my nose hairs trimmed (not that that’s been a problem).

And my tears aren’t like a Phoenix; they can’t heal my little girl’s tummy cramps, or make her sleep. (I know, I know, let the ultra-cheesiness begin.)

Oh, and I learned one more thing.

While I had given up on God waiting for a child all this time, He was busy giving A. life, forming her, shaping her, caring for her.

So even while I was angry at God for “holding out” on us, He still came through. And now, I don’t want any other baby in the universe but her. Even if she does cry and fuss all night long.

Life After Abortion

Due to a high volume of interest (both favorable and adverse) in my past post, “Here’s the Great Thing About Abortion”, I have asked blogger Kristy Mapp to giver her first-hand account on the subject. You can see more of her writing on her blog, Oh-mag.com.

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I considered myself an average girl as far as promiscuity and drugs were concerned.  I never really thought that consequences would happen.  I just wanted to live life for me, my way, and for my benefit.  When I found myself pregnant at 19 I was shocked.  My boyfriend and I decided the best thing to do would be to have an abortion, because we didn’t want to deal with a child – nor have one out of wedlock, and we certainly were not ready for marriage.

I remember coming out of the Planned Parenthood feeling good about my decision, but also feeling sorry for all those women who were there for their 2nd, 3rd, or even 12th abortion.  I thought, ‘How selfish of them.  There was nothing wrong with them that they should be throwing their children away like that.’  My boyfriend picked me up and we went and had lunch and then went about our lives – we never talked about it – didn’t even think about it really.

At 24 I had a self induced miscarriage, and then just 5 months later another abortion. This time I didn’t think twice about what I was doing.  All I knew was that I was basically ‘good’ for not bringing a child into the world that would be fatherless.  I even coerced a friend to have an abortion, telling her that having a child would ruin her and her boyfriend’s lives.  This was the reality of my situation, of mynature.  I cared for myself, and told others to care only for themselves.  It’s a ‘me’ kind of world we live in.

I was always thinking of me… caught up in the politics that said I needed to have a stance on something like abortion.  When I met Christ my life changed.  I do indeed have a stance now, but it is not based on what I want.  It is based on what God says is truth.  He is the one that gives life, and He is the one who takes it away.  What matters in life is not our feelings or stances on political or even moral issues.  What matters is what we do with the truth God gives us.

What good does it do to wonder about the past – if things had been different – or even to wonder about the future – what kind of life could this child have?  Are we the ones who plot the course of life?  How can we say that by deleting a person from our wombs we are doing them a service?  Each life is a miracle.  Science cannot re-create it without stealing parts from that which already has life.  There is no such thing as a man-made, self-replicating machine.  Each cell contains information that was put there by …. well, what do you think?  Does it really matter what you think?

While I killed my children God was watching.  He knows what it is like to lose a child.  His son made a decision to die – to be made a part of this wretched world – hated and shamed, to take my place in punishment for all my sin.  Jesus, who committed no sin, died and took upon Him the wrath of God for the evils I committed.  He died.  He was buried.  He rose from the dead – defeating death and now sits at the right hand of God making intercession for those who He died to save.  How can I sit by and watch as people who say they know my creator fight for the allowance of sin?  I cannot.

The word Christian means ‘follower of Christ’.  How can we follow Him if we are not doing what He commanded or said to do?  Arguments will get us no where.  Truth is all that matters.  Pick up your cross – your life – and follow Him.  Read His words.  Be like Christ.  Share the Gospel.  We cannot change the minds of people who are lost.  But we can share the words of Christ, who is the only way to salvation.  Our stories may be starting points, but His words are what change lives.

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For Further Reading: Please Don’t Kill the Child

The Sudden Vanishing of a Mist

If you haven’t seen her, then it’s almost certain you’ve heard her voice. Some might wonder what was more tragic – the length of her life, or the way it ended. Or maybe the real tragedy was the lost potential that laid before her.

If she were alive today, she would be 35 years old and possibly making a great life for herself either continuing to grace the silver screen with her talents or working an honest trade job or raising children of her own with a loving husband by her side.

Barsi_JudithBut none of this was to be for Judith Barsi, born on June 6, 1978 in San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles California.

Judith’s parents both were Hungarian immigrants, fleeing Communist rule. They met in California where they married and had Judith. Maria, Judith’s mother, immediately began prepping her daughter to be an actress. In no time, Judith stared in over 70 commercials and made guest appearances in several popular TV shows such as Punky Brewster, Cheers, and The Love Boat.

At the age of 10, the year of her death, she stood only 3 feet and 2 inches, and was given hormone injections to encourage her growth.

Her father, Jozsef, was a raging alcoholic, and all this time, while his daughter grew toward stardom and fame (bringing in an estimated $100,000 a year by the fourth grade), he grew jealous. He acted out abusively toward Judith and her mother, and after the police determined there was no proof of abuse to lead to an arrest, she – Judith’s mother – decided to no longer press charges.

Due to her father’s continued behavior however, Judith began to put on weight, and began acting out by pulling out her eyelashes and plucking her cat’s whiskers. She broke down in front of her agent one day while auditioning for her voice-over roll as Anne-Marie for Don Bluth’s All Dogs Go to Heaven. Judith began getting help by a child psychologist who reported her alarming findings to child protective services.

Maria assured the CPA that she would be divorcing Jozsef shortly and there was no need for them to take Judith away. But she put it off, claiming that she didn’t want to lose her house and belongings that Judith’s wealth had acquired for the family.

July 25, 1988 was a sunny day. Los Angeles carried on with business and shows, and Judith, like every other kid that summer day, was seen riding her bike. She had just completed filming for her role as young Carol Seaver for the hit show, Growing Pains. A future as bright as the day lay ahead of her with her first major motion picture animated film scheduled to be released in November, and the next one still in development to be released the next year, it helped that she was a favorite of Don Bluth, as he reportedly said that he had planned to continue employing Judith for future roles.

AnneMarieHad she seen Ducky merchandise yet? You might remember Ducky as the green Saurolophus (or “duck billed” dinosaur) that she voiced in the Spielberg-produced hit, Land Before Time. (“Yep-yep-yep!”) And oh, how people would dote on her for her role as the adorable Anne-Marie in All Dogs Go to Heaven. Ducky_300

But she would not be there to receive such praise, or to go on staring in movies for the renowned animated film director/producer team.

Instead, she parked her bike in the garage and ate dinner at the usual time and went to bed for the last time in her life. Her father cut her sleep short by shooting her in the head where she lay. He shot his wife as well, but sulked around the house for two days before lighting their bodies on fire and then shooting himself in the head with a .32 caliber pistol.

We mourn the lives of those cut short, and we stew over lost opportunities. But I ask you, if you’re still here, alive and breathing… what are you doing with your life? No one can escape the certainty of danger in this world, but you can certainly make the most of your life each day you’re given.

And you really should do just that. Because you never know when your last bike ride will be.

What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14

Read the source here.

 

Perspective

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We were watching Gladiator over the weekend and at one point during one of the arena scenes, I turned to Sarabeth and said, “I’m so thankful movies like this have been made so that history can be brought to life.” Then I stopped and added, “At least someone else’s perspective of history.”

Perspective.

That’s played a big part in our national conversation the past few weeks, hasn’t it? Depending on your perspective of race or your stance on self-defence and the right to bare arms, or the structure of the judicial system, you had an opinion on the Zimmerman verdict.

Depending on your interest in international affairs, you have a perspective about the arrival of a future king in England.

You hold a certain perspective about divorce, abortion, church, God, gay rights, and even of yourself.

Anton Ego nails it toward the end of Ratatouille when he’s asked what he would like to order. “You know what I’m craving? A little perspective. That’s it. I’d like some fresh, clear, well-seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?”

He was willing to have some other perspective than his own.

We’re house training Prim right now, and yesterday I had to introduce her to the leash outside because she ran off from me twice, and I don’t necessarily care for her to fall down a drain or get lost in the bushes. So, with me on one end of the leash, and my puppy on the other, the epic battle began.

You’d have thought I was pulling in a marlin the way she twisted and jumped and jerked like a snagged fish out of water. I just wanted her to potty on the grass, and according to Sarabeth, Prim wasn’t trying to disobey me – she was just curious about this strange object stuck on her neck.

Wars are often fought over differing perspectives. Fear stems from distorted perspectives. Crimes are committed based off of selfish perspectives.

But who’s perspective matters most? Who’s opinion outweighs others? Through whose perspective do you view the world?

Prim and I probably would have had a much more successful time outside if I had viewed the situation with her and the leash through her perspective – that she wasn’t trying to get under my skin, but that she just wanted to know what was limiting her movement.

When Sarabeth and I argue or have a disagreement, the best thing for us to do is look at the situation through the others’ perspective.

When it comes to political and religious topics, Christians are wise and correct to view the circumstances through God’s perspective.

Honestly, I’d love to just give in, throw my hands in the air, and not stand against gay marriage, welfare abuse, poor politics, and heretical preaching – it’d be much easier to just sit back and accept the world the way it is. But because I have the Holy Spirit dwelling in me, I have the choice to use God’s heart, His ears, and His voice, and view the world through His perspective.

I’d love to not lie awake at night thinking of all the unsaved people I know and how I can effectively witness and minister to them. It would be so much easier to just go about my work, mind my business, and be merely friendly. But somewhere in the back of my mind, God’s perspective breaks through and I’m reminded that I’m to do so much more and show my managers and coworkers His love, His grace, and His gift of salvation.

So I ask you, through whose perspective are you viewing the world? View it through your own, and you’ll be fickle, flowing whichever direction the world decides to turn. View it through God’s and you’ll have a firm foundation on which to stand, and a reason to live – other than for yourself.

Those Sweet Moments

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to announce the arrival of the newest addition to our family, Primrose Ever Toy! (Her middle name is still uncertain.) I’m guessing she weighs in at 1.8 pounds, and is about 9 ” long – shorter than a ruler. No, it’s not James, or Katherine Anne – we’re still waiting on our background checks from other states – but she is our second puppy. Pixie’s cousins will be leaving her in just a couple of weeks, and I finally caved and let Sarabeth pick out a little sister for Pix, so she won’t be so lonely. Plus, what kid wouldn’t feel instantly at home in a house with not one, but two dogs?Photo on 7-17-13 at 9.37 AM

We picked Prim up yesterday evening at 7:00 pm. We drove two hours deep into the heart of Kentucky, so Prim is certainly a good ol’ country girl. Kinda like that old folk song, Old Blue – and Prim is indeed blue and tan. Cutest – and smallest – puppy I’ve ever seen. (Seriously, she barely even comes up to my ankle.) And do you want to know the crazy thing? She slept all night long! We were prepared for a long wakeful night, but Prim was gracious to us (or just exhausted).

So here’s the story behind her name. You Hunger Games fans will appreciate this. She is indeed named after Katniss’ young sister, Primrose Everdeen, who was a symbol of life and love and peace. After all, that’s what all puppies represent, right? Newness of life, unconditional love, and a stubborn refusal to show any hostility toward anyone or anything.

DSCN0020It’s taken me a while to turn this corner, but the more I’m with dogs, the more I’m convinced that they’ll be in Heaven. I know, I know – in the grand scheme of things, that doesn’t matter, and animals don’t have souls, Jesus didn’t die for dogs or cats and blah, blah, blah. I’ve heard all the theological arguments against it, and my mind can’t argue it, but my heart can care less what they all say.

The aisle is split, it seems, perfectly in half. You’re either a Dobsonian on the issue, like James Dobson (who our son will be named after), and promote the idea of heavenly dog houses, or you’re a Mooronian and side with Dr. Russell Moore, in that people shouldn’t even bother to own pets, as they are a waste of time and energy.

DSCN0034Some things just aren’t written in stone.

Bottom line is, there are some moments in life that remind us all just how miraculous life is. I think we need to ferociously hunt down those moments, and share them with all we love, whether they involve puppies, or babies, or the elderly, or mentorship/discipleship.

I urge you, to invite a sweet moment into your life this week. Just for a moment, shed the burden of monotony and seek out a sweet moment to remember in dimmer days ahead.get-attachment.aspx

Our sweet moment came as a family last night when Pixie and Prim bonded for the first time and fell completely in love with each other. We literally witnessed the birth of an unbreakable, lifelong friendship.

Those are sweet moments that are Toy Story-sad, and Gospel-sweet. Those are the moments we should be chasing – even if it sets you back a few hundred dollars. Those are the priceless moments that change our lives for the better.

Be sure to check out Sarabeth’s dachshund blog for more Prim pictures (I assure you there’ll be plenty more to follow, so be sure to subscribe for updates). As well as her and her sister’s decorating/lifestyle blog, From Flats to Lofts.

We got Prim from an outstanding breeder. Every dachshund was absolutely beautiful. If you’re looking for a place to get a dachshund, check out this site: Legend’s Dachshunds. We couldn’t be any happier with the service and care they gave us.

Photo on 7-17-13 at 7.31 AM #2

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