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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween costumes 09

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Monday, October 19, 2009

The heart that embraces


This past week our family welcomed Brendan back into our home. We felt such a loss in our hearts when he left and now he is back in our family for good. We have such joy in our home over this. I remember when my wife and I were first getting serious about our relationship and she said she was OK with not having any kids and I said I wanted a big family. Well sweetie who got their way?
On a serious note as I look into his eyes and see him looking at me I can tell there is a lot of tentativeness still in Brendan’s little heart. He has been in six different homes in his 3 ½ years and I imagine he is still not sure this is his last stop. In his eyes and in the eyes of so many kids I see Jesus there. I see Him picking up a child a loving the little ones who so desperately just want a simple love. There are times I know where kids are like the raptors on Jurassic Park, testing for the weakness in the electric fence of the household rules. When they are in this mode they don’t seem like the innocent little children Jesus spoke of. But they still are. Their hearts are more open to love and truth than any adult could ever imagine. They are also more vulnerable to hurt and evil.
So as I took little Brendan in my arms and gave him a huge bear hug and drove home and tucked him into bed I lay there thinking of what he may become one day and how God might use our small family to impact his life. It often strikes me that the older I get the less ambitious I become to “change the world” or to make my impact on the injustice and hurting in this world. There is so much and yet the one thing that we really think will help it all out, money, does really nothing long term to end suffering. It is a band-aid. And then the question is where to choose to put my funds? To end AIDS or cancer or childhood diabetes. To provide clean drinking water, end child prostitution, help the homeless, provide clothes for war torn areas, help missionaries bring eternal hope, translate the Bible into a new language, or buy slaves in the Sudan? So many more worthy causes could be named. We do support some worthy causes. Three of my favourite are Compassion International, Samaritan’s Purse and St. Jude’s hospital.
But in the end its just money and money always creates as many problems as it solves. We still need to give, but in the end it’s not enough. So then we come to doing. Here too we often feel things like short term missions trips, volunteering at the homeless shelter donating baby supplies to the Pregnancy Care Center is “doing our part”. These are also good things but they lack the one thing that truly brings change, long term commitment to a group of people.
While there are many ways to do this, for me I wish to sound the bell that adoption and/or foster care is an amazing way to have an eternal impact on a life. Let me first say that any time you invest this amount of love, time and energy into some one you are guaranteed to feel a lot of pain. But in the end wading through the pain, letting it shape us more into the image of Christ and showing His love through it all is true transformational living.
There has never been in an age like we live in with so many millions and millions of orphans. Is a box at Christmas or buying some fancy water at Starbucks or going to a U2 concert where it starts and ends to address this? What is Christ calling the church to and more importantly what is he calling you to?
When one day we stand at the end of history and look back at those who made the greatest difference who will we see? Ghandi, Benjamin Franklin, Hitler, Osama bin Ladin, Julius Caesar, Bono, Churchill, Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, John Wesley, DL Moody, Steve Jobs, or any other name you can come up with. I don’t think these names are the true movers and shakers. As William Ross Wallace said “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” Better yet the heart that embraces a child changes history. I made that up myself.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Always something

Well, it's always something,” as Rosanne Rosanadana would say. (OK, so now you know my little secret... I used to watch Saturday Night Live way “back in the day”.) Anyway, that little phrase that Rosanne used to conclude her news segment has come back to me on an almost daily basis since becoming a mother. This lastest instance involved our 4 year old son. (It seems that quite a lot of these little issues involve him....I wonder why.)
Our family recently moved from the US to Canada. That meant a lot of changes for us. One of those changes was finding a new family doctor. Let me stop right here and make one thing perfectly clear...I am in no way promoting, or bashing Canadian healthcare. It is different from the way healthcare is run in the US (not better, not worse, just different). All systems will have their positive and negative aspects. Since I am used to the system in the US, I was simply a little unprepared for finding a new doctor in Canada, that's all. We were informed by good friends that one of the first things we needed to do when coming to this country was to find a family doctor and put our names in. That sounded very reasonable to a mother of boys who seemed to enjoy infections and injuries, so that is what we did. We called a new clinic that was just opening up and asked to have our family records transferred. They told us they would put us on the waiting list and call us when it was our turn to meet the doctor. Being from the US, I thought that was kind of cute...we would get to “meet” the doctor. They said we would probably be called into the office by September. I smiled and managed to convince myself that there would surely be no need for a doctor between June and September. I wish my 4 year old had understood this as well.
You have to understand that this child was brought into our home with double ear infections and has been in a constant battle with his ears ever since. He has had two sets of tubes put in and we have our own supply of prescription ear drops for him. Now, I am not one of those mothers who advocate over medicating your children. But, when our little man smiles at me and says those magic words, “Mommy, my ear is coming out..” it means one of two things. Either, he has a clear fluid draining out of his ear and it will be gone within 48 hours, or he has a slight draining and he will be up all night spiking a 106 temperature with a ruptured ear drum by morning. (He doesn't believe in giving us a lot of warning when it comes to medical emergencies.) Anyway, that is the reason we have the prescription ear drops. Our family doctor was kind enough to order them for us before we left the US in case we needed them before we could find a new family doctor.
Well, September came and went and we had still not gotten a call from our new doctor. The ear drops were running low and I was starting to panic. I know it seems like a silly thing to panic about, but all you mothers know what it means to have to stay up all night with a sick child. Not only are you deprived of a night of sleep, you are also subjected unending whining and crying through out that night. Then you realize as the sun slowly starts to rise, this child is feeling no better and now you are so tired no amount of coffee will take the edge off your utter exhaustion. Your husband will soon be waking and possibly complaining about his interrupted night's sleep. And as he leaves the house for work that morning, you find yourself crying and asking why he gets to leave the house and not you....in fact, you might even be surprised to find yourself stamping your feet in anger and yelling, “It's not fair!!” (OK, so maybe I'm the only one who throws temper tantrums when I am tired. Let's just forget I mentioned it.) Anyway, I was panicking.
By October, I was wondering if possibly we had somehow missed the doctor's call and had lost our place on the waiting list. (OK, so I am neurotic. Haven't you figured that out by now?) Anyway, my husband finally placed a call to the clinic to check and see if we were still scheduled to see the doctor and he was kindly informed that we were on the list, but our meeting was now scheduled for November. My blood ran cold. November!?!?! I was absolutely certain we would be out of ear drops before that! This was a tiny little bottle! Really tiny! That is the only excuse I can offer for what happened next. It wasn't exactly a lie....it was more like a grabbing a life preserver as you head out to sea in a leaky boat.
The nurse said she felt bad for making us wait that long if someone was really sick. I guess it all depends on how you define “really sick”, but I took that to mean “can't wait until November”. Anyway, we now had the one needed appointment. My son would be able to see the doctor a week from Wednesday. My heart felt so much lighter that even the load of guilt I felt at the slight deception seemed of no consequence. I kept telling myself that all mothers call a doctor for a sick child, get the appointment and then find that as soon as they are ready to take that child to said appointment, the child miraculously shows no signs of sickness. With a jury of my peers (which would have to include at least one mother) I would never be convicted. Of course, I also prayed for an ear infection before the appointment. Of course, God, in His infinite justice, decided to keep my son's ears clear that whole week. So, I did the only thing any self-respecting mother would do....I sent my husband with my son to his doctor's appointment. I figured the whole office was going to know my son wasn't really sick, but maybe if they didn't actually see my face, they wouldn't connect me with the “fake” visit when we had to make later “real” visits. (I know what you are thinking, but I was weak...and my husband is a much stronger individual than I am.)
Anyway, Wednesday came and I stomped down all my guilt feelings as I watched my husband and well child drive off to the doctor's office. I busied myself around the house doing extra house work, and telling myself I would make it up to my husband later. I was therefore, faintly surprised when my son didn't come back from his appointment as soon as I had expected. In fact, the phone call that I received from my husband telling me they were in the Canadian equivalent of an emergency room, came as a complete shock. It seems that though my son's ears were relatively clear, there was a question of a foreign object that couldn't be removed from his nose. I can't begin to tell you the thoughts that ran through my mind as I waited for the next hour and a half. What would they find up my son's nose? And would it be incriminating for myself and my husband? Was it a result of our poor parenting skills? Was it a judgement from God? Such was my guilt over the whole situation that I barely contemplated the probability that my son was the main cause of the problem.
Finally, the phone rang and my husband said one of the doctors thought that the object might be one of his ear tubes that had somehow dislodged and worked it's way into his nose. They were going to freeze his nose so they could try to remove it. Now, I was really panicked. How did a tube get from your ear to your nose? What had I done to cause this medical emergency? Why hadn't I seen the symptoms before this? Was this all the result of forcing him to eat the green beans that he said would “make him sick” the week before?
My husband soon came home with a smiling 4 year old and a small plastic bag in his hand. What was it? A Lego. Yes, a Lego. My husband said that after several doctors had examined the situation, finally one came in and said, “Why don't we just ask him to blow his nose?” It seems that after a few significant blows, the Lego worked it's way to the end of my son's nose and was retrieved relatively unharmed. Smilingly, my little boy said, “Mommy, I sneezed and a Lego came out of my nose!” He is so proud. I on the other hand, must admit that I feel a mixture of shame and relief. I am ashamed of my part in this farce that was played out in our new doctor's office, but on the other hand, at least I have not been branded as an “over-protective mother who sees illnesses where there are none”. I am now proudly baring the title of “careless mother who leaves inappropriately small toys around for her little ones to play with”. I can live with that. As Rosanne would say, “It's always something, if it's not a major ear infection...it's a Lego up the nose.”