Friday, July 29, 2016

Old Adage Dinosaurs - Never Discuss Religion or Politics?

I've been pondering an old adage for most of the year. And oh... how I've debated with myself on where to post and what to write. The problem with some old adages is they tend to lumber along beside us as historic dinosaurs. Times change yet sometimes well worn proverbs stay with us while still feeding off old values and others' beliefs. Somewhere in our childhood they have been whispered to us in the corners of rooms and become little anthems we carry and, often times, accept without much thought. I was raised to look at topics then draw my own convictions and conclusions. In secular society, this is often described as a free thinker and in the realm of scripture study it's called 'being a Berean' (Acts 17:11).

I'm utilizing these terms as:

"A free thinker is someone that has looked at the evidence and the theories and the beliefs they have been taught and come to their own conclusion about what it is they believe or don't believe. It has less to do with the conclusion. It is about the process. "

Acts 17:11, "Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."
In this context, I believe the old fashion adage that should go extinct is that, "One should never speak about religion or politics." Have I instantly lost your readership? Well, I hope not because you would miss out on an excellence excerpt written below by Matthew Warner which is both intelligent and insightful. 

Always Talk About Religion and Politics - by Matthew Warner 

There’s a weird understanding in our polite culture that we never discuss religion or politics. I say always discuss them. I don’t mean like constantly talk about religion and politics. But to always make sure and talk about it...

Some say it’s not polite. But perhaps that’s because we haven’t learned how to talk about them politely. And perhaps we don’t know how to talk about them politely because we never discuss religion and politics. Perhaps if we did it more we could learn to be more polite about it when doing so. And besides, there are sometimes things more important than being polite.

Why is it that we would be comfortable not discussing two of the most important things in our existence – our freedom (politics) and our purpose (religion)? Kind of strange isn’t it?

It’s quite alright to talk about the game last night, a new pair of shoes, or how so-and-so did you-know-what and can you believe it? But two of the more important things in life are taboo? What gives?

The obvious answer is that they are more difficult to talk about without causing conflict. And we often avoid conflict at all costs. Fair enough. Like most things that are important, such topics are fueled by conviction and passion. But so what? Is that really a good enough reason to leave off talking about them all together? Should that not be more reason to discuss them?

Yet we often don’t. We seem to be more comfortable having shallow relationships built on chit-chat and nonsense than to have deep, meaningful, fruitful ones built upon challenge and trial. The latter is the stuff of real friendship. The former has raised a generation illiterate of politics and ignorant of religion.

If we actually talked about it more maybe it would help that.

And we shouldn’t just discuss it in like company. We should especially discuss it in mixed company. This is how we learn from each other. This is how we understand one another.

Doing such personalizes these political and religious issues for us. We can then no longer wrongfully demonize some ambiguous, faceless group of people who strangely believe or support some outrageous thing! For we have met them…and they’re not demons, they’re our friends. They’re our family. They’re our neighbors.

Such discussions encourage us to learn from each other and understand where the other side is coming from instead of tritely discounting their point of view in our head without true effort of reconciliation. We may very well be right on the issue, but surely our goal is to work towards agreeing on the objective truth, not to idly chastise so we feel better about ourselves.

Thoughtful discussions are a great way to encourage people to reason through their positions – which they often have not done (on account of never having to discuss them). And it’s a great way to teach when done out of love.

Oh, and we often learn we aren’t quite as smart as we thought we were, too. All good things."

I really appreciate the way this author expresses his outlook. I carry many of these same thoughts. So I, for the record, WILL talk about my God and faith. I will share about him in public and private forums with as much gentleness and honesty as possible. I will discuss the scriptures with people who are open and I will listen to their concerns, opinions and thoughts too. Additionally, I will continue to express my political views and thoughts. I am okay with having those discussions. I don't tend to struggle with people-pleasing so often others find me too bold. That's fine. But let there be no mistaking this statement written in my gentlest demeanor...I will not be shushed on either topic. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Dealing and Healing Path

I tend to be an unintentional "stuffer." When life gets crazy, my mind resolves to protect itself by channeling Scarlett O'Hara's thought process of, "I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow." I realized this morning that is exactly what's happened. Again.

On the drive in this morning, Mr. T and I processed a bit more about adoption day and our upcoming life together. He's excited, he's ready, but he's also mourning. Some of this is mourning the loss of his past life and some of it is mourning the unmet expectations he built about what his life would look like once he found a forever family.

My boy is a talker but spent most of the 1hr car ride in silence. Once at day camp, I pulled the morning counselor aside and gently shared our situation so they could be aware of his inner battle over the next few weeks. She was so glad I'd shared because they had noticed he seemed more stressed and argumentative about trivial things. She told me she would discretely share with the other counselors, with my permission, so they could give him their fullest support, understanding, and encouragement.

I know my facial expression changed because suddenly she said, "Do you need a hug?" As we hugged briefly, tears filled my eyes and I realized our little talk had unlocked my many emotions...I've been stuffing. Life is just coming at me so fast that I’ve not had the bandwidth to deal with my own “everything.” My children have huge stuff and there's way too much going on at my job. I have almost zero alone time and my body is warning me I’m not doing well...ugh! I’m super excited about the adoption and super raw. I know deep down we are really doing great…my kids are dealing and as counselors in the past have shared…dealing is good…we worry more when they are not dealing with stuff. So really, it’s ME that’s the worry…because I’ve not been dealing. I don't even know when I can say that being an introverted, adoptive single mom is no picnic = understatement.

So I'm sharing mostly as a way to get open, get free and get on that “dealing” and “healing” path I need to seriously start walking down...for my own health and sanity.  I didn't even realize until this morning's little emotional release time how weighed down I was feeling.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Adoption Update & Prayer Requests

My son on my old European folding bike

I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.
1 Samuel 1:27 

Mr. T has selected his new legal name! I've mailed the official paperwork to the lawyer and Monday, July 11th has been requested for his adoption!! Besides requesting prayers that Monday, July 11th will indeed be approved as the finalization date, I have a couple of other prayer requests.

1. Peace in Mr. T's heart and mind that nothing is going to make the adoption fail, fall through and that I won't die. Both my children have expressed a fear that my death could cause them to go back into the system. He may begin more strongly testing me to see if my love for him will hold up. This behavior is common among older children as they get closer to being adopted. His anxiety is becoming more intense due to being disappointed and rejected by so many adults in the past. Like most children that enter care at an age when it's hard to understand why they are there (select green link to read previous post about little Super-man), Mr. T believes something is wrong with him. Subconsciously, to admit the failures of a blood family often bashes something deep within a child's own psyche because they carry the same biology. My sweet, smart and loving boy thinks he's going to mess things up and that somehow I'll change my mind and not want him. Get behind us, Satan, in Jesus' name. 

2. Patience and understanding from me as I parent and love both my children through this final month. July 11th will be monumental because Mr. T's adoption will also mark the first day the cord is completely cut with the state foster care system. My daughter has waited for this moment for almost 8 years now, Mr. T has been waiting for almost 4 years and for me it's been over 3 years since I began the process. I have a framed foster/adoption certificate that is required by the state to be displayed in our house since our home is foster approved. My kids asked me the other day if they can tear my certification paper in half and burn it. For me, getting certified to adopt was the way I found my children and I love that but I TOTALLY understand the symbolism it holds for I will take a picture of it then let them rip and burn it, baby! May their healing continue.

Anyway, I can't wait. We are only 34 days away and my emotions go from joyful grins to tearful gratitude in an instant. Our family portraits are amazing and I look forward to sharing some of them with you! 

Thank you for all your support! Thank you for all your continued prayers. Thank you to those who have spent time with my children and loved up on them. A special thank you to Angie Mack for spending so much time with both my children!! They love you so much. Thank you Esther Mack for taking time at Easter to spend with us. Thank you to the Baars family for your love, care and for spending special time with both my kids. Especially, THANK YOU to my momma and papa for their love, understanding and amazing open hearts!

Most importantly, I'm thankful to God for his grace, mercy and love for me...for giving me the strength, support and resources to adopt as a single parent. I'm not worthy to be called "Mom" but I cherish it. 

Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
or withdraw his unfailing love from me.~ Psalm 66:20