Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
As I'm coming down the stairs to find a monkey wrench, I notice colorful little "O's" on the carpet that were not there when I went up the stairs. Apparently Maddie has left a trail of her snack to the living room...you know, in case she gets lost she can find her way back, I guess. So, being the enabling mom I can sometimes be, I bend down and start picking them up. Suddenly, I catch myself because I realize that as I pick up each one, I've been popping them in my mouth! Yuck! How's that for a nutritious breakfast on the run!?
Monday, August 27, 2007
It is estimated there are between 143 million and 210 million orphans worldwide (recent UNICEF report.)
The current population of the United States is just a little over 300 million… to give you an idea of the enormity of the numbers… (The current population of Russia is 141 million)
Every day 5,760 more children become orphans
2,102,400 more children become orphans every year in Africa alone
Every 15 seconds, another child in Africa becomes an AIDS orphan
There are an estimated 14 million AIDS orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa (a number higher than the total of every under-eighteen year old in Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Ireland combined)
This figure is estimated to reach 18 million orphans in Africa alone by 2010 (only two and a half years away)
8 out of 10 children orphaned by AIDS lives in sub-Saharan Africa
Approximately 250,000 children are adopted annually, but…
Each year 14, 505, 000 children grow up as orphans and age out of the system by age sixteen
Each day 38,493 orphans age out
Every 2.2 seconds another orphan ages out with no family to belong to and no place to call home
In Russia and the Ukraine, studies have shown that 10% - 15% of these children commit suicide before they reach age eighteen
These studies also show that 60% of the girls become prostitutes and 70% of the boys become hardened criminals
Another Russian study reported that of the 15,000 orphans aging out of state-run institutions every year, 10% committed suicide, 5,000 were unemployed, 6,000 were homeless and 3,000 were in prison within three years…
I just wanted to share these statistics because they have been on my mind the last couple days. And as a reminder… A reminder to pray. A reminder to give. A reminder to advocate. The agonizing reality of these numbers breaks my heart and drives me to my knees. The tears of the children and grief of the parents who can not care for their beloved babies weighs so heavily on my heart at times. In the midst of it, I have to believe that God loves every soul – equally and passionately — and grieves for each situation individually more than my finite mind can understand.
In a perfect world, there would be no need for adoption. Biological families would stay together. Children would be raised by loving parents or grandparents and remain in their homeland, surrounded by their culture and connected to their roots tangibly. Obviously, these statistics illustrate that we do not live in a perfect world. Adoption is not the answer for solving the underlying issues of poverty and disease and famine and war. It won’t stop the cycle of more children becoming orphans. It is a life-line thrown out to a precious few… it rescues a small percentage from the going over the falls. The tough question as we see the overwhelming need is how do we bring solutions to the roots of the issues?… how do we make a difference not just in one child’s life through adoption, but in the lives of the thousands left behind… and ultimately how do we stop the cycles that turn innocent children into orphans?
God’s heart ultimately is for the restoration of families. It is a hard concept to wrap our minds around that He could bring restoration in an instant… but chooses to be manifest on earth through the actions of His people. He holds the hurting and comforts the sick through our arms… He ministers to the poor and orphaned through our lives… He champions the cause of the oppressed through our actions… We are His hands and feet… We are the vessels He uses to mediate His love to the forgotten. It can be difficult to allow ourselves to really think about these statistics and what they represent. Its easy to respond numbly and see the statistics in terms of thousands or millions… but when we allow ourselves to become personally involved and risk the heart-grief that follows awareness, they become more than mere statistics… they become real children with real hearts that ache for their parents and real bodies that hunger for care. Every single child that makes up the thousands or millions is a precious child, just like my Joanna… just like my Henry. I pray that my own heart will continue to be stirred and my resolve strengthened to speak out for those that have no voice. These precious children need advocates. They need men and women willing to make a difference… willing to stand in the gap and act on their behalf.
May our hearts grow softer and our voices rise louder…
“Defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless; Maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Deliver the weak and needy from the hand of the wicked.” Ps 82:3-4
(Sources: Human Rights Watch: “Abandoned to the State: Cruelty and Neglect in Russian Orphanages” November 1998 ; www.hfgf.org/statistics.pdf ; www.unaids.org/epi/2005 ; UNICEF’s Childhood Under Threat: the State of the World’s Children, 2005 ; www.unicef,org/uniteforchildren/ )
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Today was Maddie's first day of preschool. She has been waiting all week for this day. Unfortunately she was up half the night as we snuggled in mommy and daddy's bed during a ginormous thunderstorm.
Here's waking her up:
Then later at breakfast:
I should also mention that my youngest child who has the temperament of an oldest child managed to get herself in timeout on the first day! She didn't want to go to circle time...she was much more interested in checking out all the new stuff.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
conscience disclosure: this has a PG-13 rating for language, situations etc.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Trouble is I'm so exhausted
The plot, you see, I think I've lost it
I need the grace to find what can't be found
I wanna do better
I wanna try harder
I wanna believe
Down to the letter
-from "Long Lost Brother" by Over The Rhine
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
If you have no idea what that stands for then you probably don't have any elementary or middle-school aged kids.
High School Musical 2 is premiering as we speak. The world of texting, IM-ing, phone calls, kids in the cul-de-sac playing ghost in the graveyard...it has all been silenced as the youth of the nation are riveted to the screen and the blossoming musical relationship of Troy and Gabriella. Will they ever kiss? It remains to be seen but I promise I'll let you know when it's over.
Back to popcorn, licorice and squirmy bored three-yr olds who won't be quiet so their siblings can hear the tv...
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Is that really me? When did my arms get that squishy? Where did those spots on my face come from? Do I always look this tired?
It almost always serves as a catalyst for some serious dieting or a deep depression. Rarely do I find myself “surprised” by something good; an improvement in my appearance that somehow I overlooked. Hmmm…when did my butt suddenly shrink and get so damn tight!? Wow…nice rack! Where did those come from? The positive aspects of my physical appearance are more often than not hard won with dedicated perseverance, meticulous care and the latest camouflaging make up…a little difficult to have them sneak up on me.
On the other hand, when it comes to my inner life…my emotions, attitudes and values…I usually stumble upon positive changes as if they were part of a Holy Spirit stealth mission. I don’t realize I was shifting, adjusting, amending until either someone brings it to my attention or I’m faced with a familiar situation that I notice I’m responding to in a whole new way. Many times I didn’t even realize I needed an adjustment in the first place.
I suppose this is a God-ordained pride impediment. It is very clear to me that any positive changes have been driven by my soul redeemer and not due to any effort on my part.
I had a moment like this a couple weeks ago when we took our kids to Disneyland. Now, we’ve taken the older three to Disneyland before. In fact, I think we have been at least one time while each one was stroller-bound. Let me just say for the record, that I really did try to enjoy those visits. I wanted the kids to have fun and enjoy the adventures in the happiest place on earth and, perhaps more importantly, get some priceless photos of the event that could be scrapbooked into some award winning layouts.
The problem was that I wanted to have fun too and “fun” to me, was still riding the rides. And when I say “rides”, I’m not talking about Dumbo or Peter Pan…I’m talking about the good rides…the ones you can’t force a toddler, preschooler OR spirited grade-schooler onto…like Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain or the lean-against-the-guy-you-want-to-kiss-ride, the Matterhorn. So, while I pasted on a smile each time the kids wanted to go through Small World again, I was cringing on the inside and to make matter’s worse, sighing on the outside. You know the sigh I’m talking about…the “ugh” sigh you let out when you’re frustrated with faking a good attitude but if anyone really confronts you on your duplicitous behavior, you can say you were just relishing the moment. Yeah…those sighs.
Needless to say, I did not end up relishing those visits to Disneyland. Instead I became resentful that I wasn’t doing any of the things I wanted to do and guilty that I even wanted to do them instead of be the kind of mom who savors the moment simply because her children are delighted.
This year I sat myself down and gave myself a stern talking to. This time, Miss Melissa, you will suck it up. You have all four of your kids at Disneyland, each excited about different things and it IS all about them. It is not about you. Pull your head out and, dammit, enjoy your children!
Sometime that afternoon, as I was counting down my second hour of standing in 90° heat for the new Nemo submarine ride, I realized something profound. I wasn’t bitter! I was hot, tired, sore and having a wonderful time. I almost felt like waiting in the Nemo submarine line was my gift (in a very non-martyrdom sort of way) to my girls and I was thrilled to watch the wonder alight on their faces as they peered through the portholes of our sub. Sure, I still wanted to wander through the gift shops but I was perfectly content doing that on the way out with my sleeping beauty all bundled down in the stroller. And I still wanted to ride Space Mountain but my joy came from sitting beside my 13 year old as he conquered his fear of roller coasters.
How did this happen? I certainly didn’t do anything. I went into Disneyland completely expecting to still want all the things I had always wanted from a Disneyland trip and to not get them. I just figured I would be a guilt-ridden martyr…again.
Surprise. I guess grace stepped in once again.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Maddie: I'm going to marry Isaac (her 10-yr old brother).
Mommy: Isaac? Will Isaac make a good husband?
Maddie (emphatically): YES!
Mommy: What does a good husband do?
Maddie: Scoops the (incoherent murmur...) away...
Maddie: No...scoops the CLOUDS away.
Mommy: Why does he do that?
Maddie: So I can see the sun.