So You Wanna Write Part 10 – “Take That Step”

5If you’ve ever been to church in your life, chances are you’ve seen this movie clip.

It’s probably the most overused clip in all churches ever.

And if it happens to be a church that doesn’t have a movie screen or projectors, then the youth pastor or the hip young intern has referenced the scene on stage at some point.

And the funny thing is, all these years later, these guys still get behind the pulpit and reference this movie scene as though they’re the first ones to draw in a biblical connection to it.

Cracks me up every time.

You know the scene.

Indy’s father is dying of a gun wound and he, Indiana Jones, must retrieve the holy grail. But IndyAbyssone of the last tests is for him to make a leap of faith.

He takes that step into a deep chasm, and behold! His foot lands on an invisible stone bridge!

Well, I’m not going to make the obvious (though unintentional) connection to Christian faith (lest we forget that The Last Crusade was directed by a Jew?). But I’m going to make the connection between that scene and writing.

When I was younger and my mind wasn’t carrying the weight of bills, mortgages, and 2 A.M. feedings, I was able to shower, drive, or just fall asleep dreaming up my stories. I would watch them play out in my head like a movie, and the next day I’d get to work and write what I had played in my head.

I worry a lot now, so I’ve lost the luxury to be able to let my mind play out in that way.

The bigger problem is that it’s another excuse to not write. Well, I didn’t come up with anything for a new scene, so I guess there’s nothing to write today.

Well, if that’s you, you need to stop thinking that way. So do I.

Instead, we need to approach that blank Word document like a cliff that we must hurdle. The words are already there; we just can’t see them yet. We just need to take a step, and write.

The words will come whether we think they will or not.

Approval

 

approved_red_stampWell, it’s been nine months since we attended the foster to adopt classes here in Kentucky. We hit a little snag a couple of months ago, which you can read about here.

Things do seem to be looking up in the Toy household, though. Pixie is recovering nicely from her surgery, and began walking almost immediately (mostly because nothing will stop her from getting to Sarabeth). It’s the next 7 1/2 weeks of recovery (A.K.A. crate confinement) which will be difficult, especially when her little sister Prim is allowed to frolic free around the loft.

And the better news is that we got an email from our case-worker saying that all of our paperwork has been approved and we are finally approved by the state of Kentucky to be foster to adopt parents. Whew!

Nine months.

Like a pregnancy without all the morning sickness and hot flashes (or is that just with menopause?).

So what does that mean, now that we’re approved? Well, it means that we could get a call from the state at any minute, being today or sometime next summer – who knows – and they’ll say, “We’ve got a two-year-old boy here who’s dad is missing and his mom is in rehab…” or “We have a brother and sister here, both under three-years-old who need a home…”

They’ll tell us the situation and any problems that are on record for the kids and ask if we are interested in taking them in.

Before we agree to picking them up, we will ask if they are eligible for possibly being adopted.

By accepting a placement, no matter what the answer to that question may be, we knowingly run the risk of that child being placed back with his or her parents or a relative stepping into the picture to take them in.

But some kids aren’t eligible for adoption for varying reasons. We want to take a child in with the hope that he or she could be ours forever.

So who knows what the future holds for us.

Personally, I’m terrified, as I’ve never had a child before. And it’s not like there’s a due-date. I won’t have six-to-eight hours of labor to let it sink in that I’m having a baby. I won’t get to hand out cigars in the lobby (thankfully this isn’t a 1950s movie, either).

We don’t want to buy toys for Christmas because we don’t know if we’ll have a child with us that morning or not. We don’t know if we need to reserve an extra seat or two at our Thanksgiving table. We don’t even know if we can go see Catching Fire next week because we wouldn’t dare take a two-year-old to such a loud and violent movie.

All we know is that everything is up in the air. And everything is unsure.

But nothing is undecided.

We take comfort in the fact that God knows the exact kid (or kids) that will be placed with us, and when. He knows their temperaments, and He knows ours. He knows whether they’ll be with us for a few months, a couple of years, or forever. He already knows the outcome of the court proceedings that are likely to follow.

We don’t; but He does. And I’m fine with that.

All we can do is have the house ready, warm, and welcoming for whoever we may bring through the door at any hour.

It’s All in a Song

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It’s funny. If you take a song, any one song, and play it at different times of the day, it can have a whole different meaning, or evoke different feelings.

Let’s take Jackie Wilson’s “Your Love (Keeps Lifting Me Higher)” for example.

That song works best in the car, at night with the windows down. It’s just got that old-time feeling to it, that can’t help but make you smile and tap your feet.

It’s also a fun song to have on while you’re doing chores around the house, or if you want to get your wife or kids out of a bad mood.

It can also be very lulling as it quietly plays somewhere in your bedroom at night as you fall asleep.

Maybe it reminds you of an old flame, or a loved one who passed.

It can also hold up as a party song, or even as elevator music.

No matter where you play it, or when you listen to it, it’s the same song, sung by the same guy.

The same can be said of God. He works in different ways, and speaks in different volumes, but no matter what He’s saying or how He says it, it’s the same God speaking those words.

The same God who spoke the world into being.

And the same God who spoke the words of Scripture.

So the next time you find yourself asking if it’s God’s leading or your own, match it up with what He has already said in the Bible, and see if it matches up with what you think you hear God saying to you.

And always keep the music playing. (Except when you’re praying, of course.)

Waiting

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So an update on our adoption process.

We completed the mandatory classes back in February and March, in which time we completed all the paperwork and turned in the information to have our background checks sent to the state of Kentucky. We had to have them sent in from three different states to provide our background checks: California, Florida, and Washington State. (Marriage and the recession had us moving around a lot.)

After two home-studies which we passed with flying colors (even with three dogs living with us at the time), lots of trips to the baby section at Target, and seven months of waiting on our approval, we got the disconcerting  news that one of Sarabeth’s background checks didn’t make it back to the foster care office before the 90-day expiration date.

On the one hand, I’m glad that the state is being so careful to weed out the ineligible people applying to become foster parents. But on the other hand – come on! We’ve done everything they’ve asked us to the T, even though we didn’t like doing most of it, and much of it just seemed like busywork, plus, there’s so much evidence before them that we’re good-standing, honest, law-abiding citizens, completely competent to welcome and care for a child in our house.

This isn’t me ranting, but these are thoughts that I’ve had the last couple of weeks. It’s hard, sometimes, watching other people raise their kids and often complain what a hassle it is when they don’t nap or potty when they’re supposed to, when we’d be happy to have a kid at all.

But then, weirdly enough, I feel the best about it when I slip into what I call, “cliche mode”. We’ve all heard it hundreds of times in our lives, and I almost regret saying it now, but, “It’s all in God’s timing.”

God isn’t surprised that we don’t have a kid yet. Since the Fall, God never ever planned on us having a kid by this point, otherwise we’d have one now. It really is (cliche mode) all in His timing. And the reassuring thing about that is, there’s a reason for the delay. And what’s even more reassuring about that is that the reason very well may be simply because our kid isn’t born yet. Or it could be something completely different that we’ll never know until we get to Heaven.

We’re all waiting for something in life, aren’t we? Maybe a promotion, a degree, redemption in the life of a loved one. It’s funny because it seems like no one’s in the spring of their life. Everyone seems to be wading through the winter waiting for the ice of despair to melt away forever. Heck, look at all the famous rich people who continually get pulled over for driving, who check into rehab, who kill themselves. We all think they’ve reached the ultimate goal, that they’ve got everything we could ever want, but clearly they’re just as depressed, or worse, than we are.

So even though my book isn’t a New York Times best seller yet, or our crib remains empty, I stop and think about the good things that have happened: We’ve completed all the requirements to become foster parents, we have two awesome dogs that we love so much, we have each other, whom we are madly in love with. And we’re two very blessed people to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, to whom we can bring our petitions and stand confident that they are heard and being considered with love and grace.

So with all that in perspective, what’s a little more waiting?

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.

Casting Stones

Song_Sparrow-27527-2I was driving to work yesterday, just a regular 80’s-music-induced drive. I drove the usual speed limit, dealt with the usual traffic not knowing how to merge, and then it happened.

I was singing along with the Cranberries (don’t judge), and I actually saw the white pebble slip out from under the truck in front of me. That’s how big it was. And even though I watched it shoot toward me, the impact on the windshield still made me jump.

I was angry. Even though there wasn’t yet a visible crack, I know that sometimes it takes time for those to appear and grow. I thought about writing down the truck’s license plate number so I could sue him when it comes time to paying for my windshield repair.

What a dumb thing to think, right? But all sorts of possible scenarios are permitted to play out in one’s imagination.

I thought about how this truck driver has absolutely no idea how angry he made me, and how he will never know that he totally destroyed my Toyota Scion. He’s just going to go about his day oblivious to his negative impact on my life.

What a jerk.

And then it happened.

I know it was a bird because I watched as a flock of them soared toward me from the bushes as I slowed down toward the end of the off-ramp. It wasn’t like the sound of a rubber ball on my windshield. It was softer – and more feathery-er.

It’s the first time I ever hit an animal that I know of. Even though in my younger days I actually tried to hit squirrels. I’m not very proud of that, and lucky for them I’m a bad aim.

Well, it was a bird this time alright. Just for confirmation I looked into my rearview mirror.

5…4…3…2…

Aaaand, thud. It landed right in front of another car, making it swerve a little. (“I swear, Honey! A bird hit a UFO and fell right in front of me as I was gettin’ off that dere freeway!” – I usually think of the average Ketuckian sounding like Mater the Tow Truck.)

Well, I thought about that bird. And the stone from just a minute before.

You see, I got really upset that someone caused a loud noise on my windshield, which never cracked, by the way.

But I had a negative impact on that bird’s life. So negative that I killed it.

I thought about that Bible verse that says God sees every sparrow fall to the ground. Matthew 10:29 I believe.

After I repented, I realized God was teaching me something.

Someone might cast a stone or two at me, and I have no reason to complain. Two reasons:

1) I probably (and I mean definitely) deserve to have stones cast at me.

2) Instead of complaining about the stones thrown at me, I should focus more instead on how I can avoid being the boulder that crushes someone else.

Doors, Dogs, and Doubt

photoSo it has finally begun. I realize I’ve been quiet on the topic of our adoption journey since I’ve first started this blog early last year.

Well, with our classes out of the way (not much to blog about there), the paper work filled out (most of if), and house made as child-proof as can be (the picture here is of our future child’s room), I am thrilled to say that we had our first home study visit yesterday evening.

We’ve been worried sick over this visit for the past couple of months. When we brought it to the attention of the foster-to-adopt class that we live in a loft – a home without doors – we were practically laughed out of the program.

It was humiliating, for sure. But it only angered me. First off, Sarabeth had drawn a perfect blueprint of our home (as instructed) showing that the two bedrooms are completely separate – each at the end of our U-shaped loft. There’s lots of privacy.

The second thing that angered me was how quickly the minds of our fellow classmates – prospective foster-to-adopt parents – sunk into the gutter – hence all the laughter.

We could put up a door, separating the nook and bedroom from the living room, but it would significantly devalue the worth of the loft. So, in the interest of financial planning, that was not feasable.

The second thing we were worried about was our three dogs. Dachshunds. And if you know dachshunds, they’re known for four things: cuddling, sensitive backs, barking, and lots more barking.

It’s stressful having people over knowing the dogs are going to spend the first ten minutes barking their fool heads off. So, over time we’ve learned different strategies of keeping them at bay (locking them up) and shortening the length of barking time (bribery with treats that require perseverance and time to get through).

So needless to say, we were prepared for the home study visit to end with, “Call me when you get some doors up, and you get your dogs under control.”

I won’t bore you with the details, but let me just say that last night’s visit couldn’t have gone any better. The case worker, who was a wonderfully nice person – to our surprise – didn’t see any problem with us having no doors as our bedrooms are indeed very separate from each other.

…And she was a dog lover! She had two of her own – a collie and a something Shepherd (Australian, German, I forget – either way, the kind of big dogs I would like to have one day).

So all this to encourage you, if you’re living in a world of worry, or anxiety is keeping you up at night, and you don’t have the strength or faith to pray about it (like me), keep your friends in the loop and they’ll pray on your behalf. Many of our friends and family members prayed for us, and we’re so thankful.

So, with just a few more things to check off our list, we’re almost approved to be foster-to-adopt parents – and so, so excited, and shocked, and simply thankful.

Yeah, despite all the worrying, things are starting to fall into place. I bet it’s that way for most other people as well.