An Attitude of Gratitude

May 8, 2010

The last few months I have allowed myself to become so busy that I got caught up in what can be the every day drudgery of life.  Bad me.

However, just over the last few days or week or so I have been more reflective in nature.   As I have (intentionally) gone over some of my life long issues of hurt and woundedness I have realized that in spite of my bad habits and poor choices I have found myself in a place of blessing.

For many years I lead a life of self-indulgence.  I used to have the tendency of compartmentalizing my life.  For instance if I was not deliberately abusing my children then I was a good father.  After all I was better than those fathers.  If I could feed my (former) drug use without actually having to spend money then, of course, using drugs was not a problem.  If I could still hold down a job then there certainly was nothing wrong with drinking two quarts of Jack Daniels a week!  I was good at compartmentalizing.  Or perhaps the more professionally accepted term would be “rationalizing.” 

I ended up in Alcoholics Anonymous for a while.  However, I never did like their “One Day at a Time” philosophy.  To me that was saying that, ” I betcha one day I’m going to fall off the wagon.”   I did do at least two meetings a day for the first ninety days.  Some days I would do three meetings!  I got all the cute little chips and listened to all the stories about why others drank.  It was their spouse’s fault.  The kids drove them nuts.  Their boss didn’t like them.  They were abused as a child.  The wind was blowing.  The lighting was bad.  Their mother didn’t breast feed them but did breast feed their siblings.  And on, and on, and on.   But in fairness to all the story tellers I haven’t been to an AA meeting in a couple of decades or so, so maybe the tone has changed.  But I doubt it.

It’s a wonder I didn’t end up needing treatment for depression!  At first I latched on to the “I have a disease” thing.  After all if I wasn’t responsible then I would have no responsibility for my past actions.  Heck, I just couldn’t help myself.  I mean have you ever heard of anyone blasting a cancer patient for losing their hair?!  I have a disease!  I just can’t help myself!

Man this post is starting to go all  over the place here.

Anyway, I lost a significant portion of my life because of drug abuse, alcohol abuse and mostly too SELF PITTY!!  I’m actually still trying to work through and figure out how it is that I (specifically) came to feel that I always got the short end of the stick!  I can go down the list.

1.  My dad travled out of town 4 or 5 nights a week.  So I basically had an absentee dad.

2.  I was the only boy with 4 sisters.  I did get a brother when I was 13 but for all intense and purposes, poor me was raised in a girl’s dormatory.

3.  Teachers and other adults would (almost) always tell me what beautiful eyelashes I have!  Why the heck would you tell a little boy he has beautiful eyelashes!  That can scar a kid!!

4.  My dad used to just beat the living tar out of me!  I mean BEAT ME!!

5.  My grandfather was an alcoholic.

6.  My father was an alcoholic.

7.  My grandfather was a womanizer.

8.  My father was a womanizer.  Heck he even took me with him one Saturday to visit his girlfriend.  Well he didn’t tell me that’s what we were doing but when we pulled up in his green Plymouth I had to wait out in the car while he went to “visit.”  I can still see her standing on the backdoor stoop holding the screen door open for my dad.  She had blonde hair put up in a bun and had on a pretty tight-fitting yellow dress.

9.   Where the hell did that blonde haired woman in the tight-fitting yellow dress think my mom was?

10.  Don’t hit your sisters.  You don’t know your own strength.  It doesn’t matter that they hit you first.  You’re a boy and they’re a girl.

11.  You have to go to mass on Sunday and on Holy Days of Observation.  Now go get me a beer out of the refrigerator and get the lighter fluid for my lighter.

12.  We don’t have the money for that.  Do you want to ride with me to get some beer.

13.  We don’t have the money for that either.  You can go to the golf course with me if you are quiet.

I doubt my childhood was much different from most of my classmates.  But I sure did like more attention than the other kids.  Any attention really, good  or bad, just please notice me.

ENOUGH!!  My wife and I just celebrated out thirty-sixth wedding anniversary!  Our thirty year old daughter is married to a great guy and they have a five-year old son and a fourteen week old daughter.  Our twenty-six year old daughter (although widowed three years ago) has a great guy who looks at three-year old Cooper as his son and Coop to him as his daddy.  Our twenty-one year old daughter has been in a relationship with a young man she went to highschool with and there is talk of marriage (come day).  Ummm Brindon don’t forget to talk to the father first.  🙂  After much discussion between my wife and I and our three older children we then prayed about what God has in store for us in this season of life.  So in November of 2009 we adopted.  So in addition to the aforementioned daughters we also have an eight year old daughter and a five-year old son!

I am in very good physical health.  I am in good mental health.  I believe my spiritual life is on track.  I have a wife that not only loves me but is also committed to me.  I have five wonderful, happy and healthy children.  I have two very active grandsons and a beautiful little granddaughter.  My peach trees are doing well.  My plum-tree is loaded.  Our vegetable garden is going gangbusters.  We have a fantastic church family.

LIFE IS GOOD AND I AM ETERNALLY GRATEFUL FOR ALL OF THESE BLESSINGS!


Keep The Children – Send The Parents Back

April 13, 2010

I can not begin to tell you the range of emotions I have felt since this sad and tragic story broke.

First of all, we have close personal friends who adopted three children from Russia.  The children were two brothers and a sister ranging in ages from six to eleven.  This was more than a decade ago.  None of the children spoke english and the adoptive family did not speak Russian.  To say it was difficult from the beginning would be accurate but would not really give you any sense of what life was like for the adoptive children or the adoptive family.  I must say that I truly admire the adoptive family.  The children posed more than cultural challenges.  But I think that most people fail to step back and try to look at things through the eyes of adoptive children.  Really think about that for just a minute.  They have hopes and dreams too.  They want to be love and accepted.  They want to be safe and to feel secure.  They want some sense of belonging.  They want to not have to worry about their day-to-day life… where will they live?  Who will they live with?  What will they wear?  What will they eat?  Just imagine not having any control over a single aspect of  your life.   Is it any wonder that many adoptive children are less than what adoptive parents dream of adopting?!

Can I just get real.  When I heard about the mother sending that young Russian boy back to Russia… alone on that long plane flight and then a two-hour ride with a stranger to his final destination it made me so angry that if there were absolutely no consequences what-so-ever (legal or spiritual) I would find that woman and beat the living crap out of her!!  Seriously.  But fortunately for her I am bound by legal restraints and (most importantly) spiritual edict.  And yes I know that since I even had the thought… Forgive me Father.  Thank You.

I think there are a whole lot of adoptive parents who are just selfish, foolhardy individuals.  They have this fantasy dream of what their life would be like if they could just adopt a perfect little “Johnny” or perfect little “Suzy.”  Guess what folks, you are messed up in the head!  What sort of chance do you think your adoptive child stands since your head is messed up beginning this process?!  Properly caring for (adoptive or birth) children takes sacrifice!  When you determine that you are going to raise a child what you really should be saying is, “I hear by give up my rights as an individual.  I will make all future decisions based on what is BEST for my child.  I will be selfless.  I will provide for my child in every way needed.  If my child needs extra help in a certain or specific area that I am unable to understand or provide, I will seek out those who can provide that help.  I will learn what I need to learn to help my child through whatever he/she needs help with.  I will nurture my child and teach he/she discipline.  I will demonstrate to my child how to succeed by helping him/her succeed.  I will be the rock that my child can always count on.  I will not be perfect but I will faithful to him/her.  When I screw up I will tell him/her that I screwed up and I will try to do better.  I WILL BE THE PARENT!!”

Now I would love to say that I have been perfect and true to all of that but that would be a lie.  I have learned most of what I know by not doing it right the first or fourteenth time.  But I know it now.

And if you haven’t read any of my previous Bolg posts our family has also adopted two children.  We know first hand the difficulties.  But we also know first hand, the rewards of staying true to our beliefs and working through the less than perfect scenarios.

Be a blessing to your children.  They need and deserve nothing less!


Some of Our Experiences These Last Four Years

February 5, 2010

My wife and I are each in our early to mid 50s and just adopted a five and seven-year old brother and sister.  We have three bio-daughters.  Our eldest married with a four-year old son and is due to have our third grandchild in four days!   Our middle daughter is widowed (Afghanistan, that’s another story for another day) and they have a three-year old boy.   Our youngest (bio) daughter is working  and going to a local community college (the jobs is in her career field at a local hospital).

We know the family where our “new kids” came from.  Their bio parents just wore their family down with promises of we will quit doing….. we will get our life on track, etc.  The family was so put off by these two (insert negative adjective here) that when it came time for the Department of Social Services to remove the (then) two and four-year olds the maternal grandmother actually said to either put them in Foster Care or in the orphanage up state.  That’s when the mom asked DSS to check with us to see if we would be willing to care for them while they finished getting their act together.  Originally it was only supposed to be for a few months but weeks turned into months and months turned into years.    After more than a year and a half of failed drug tests, court appearances and failures to complete court ordered Anger Management classes my wife and I began to pray about the next step.   Eventually it became clear that the Lord has placed us in relationship with this family as His back-up plan for these innocent children.  So we talked to our girls and we all agreed adoption is what the Lord would have for us to do in this season of our life.   Now keep in mind we received these children under the state’s safety plan.  Which means our home is a safe place and we don’t get any money from anyone.  So automatically we needed to come up with money for pullups, wipes, extra food and all the things young children need.  The big one was the $800 a month in child care!  Ouch! 

We originally got involved with the family when our church called to ask if we would be willing to help out a single father who was raising a four months old infant.  We all talked about it and since my wife is out of school for the summer…  So we would go and pick her up at 6:15sh and bring her back in the evening about the same time.  Some times we would keep her over night and on weekends.  Not only to give him a break but we had come to love the little  baby girl too.   That was the summer of 2002 and we had no idea how providential that summer would be. 

Eventually we learned that the reason the birth father had the baby on his own was because when mom was PREGNANT with the baby she got so drunk that she ran over a guy and killed him!  What a beginning for this little girl!  So mom get’s out of prison when the girl is two, they seem to get their act together, get married, start going to church, start saying all the things people want to hear, she gets pregnant and dang if the little boy isn’t born addicted to drugs!!  Now remember, because she was drinking and doing drugs during her first pregnancy, she killed an innocent pedestrian!  But I guess that’s not a big deal because DSS let her take the baby home under the supervision of the birth-father.  Did I mention that birth-father has already confessed to DSS that he has a cocaine problem?  Unbelievable! What do you think would have happened if these two children were little puppies?  And you know what else?  The birth-mother was still on probation from her previous vehicular homicide conviction!  Why wasn’t she violated and sent back to prison?

Anyway, the birth-father says he didn’t even know the birth-mother was doing drugs (he should make a good supervisor) so he is a bit ticked off.  He won’t have anything to do with the little infant boy and I think he (the baby boy) spent most of the first two years of his life either in his crib or play pen. That is complete speculation on my part.  But I have been around a bunch of two-year olds and when he came to us he was very withdrawn, walked with his head down and barely made any sounds much less speak.

The bio parents did not passed a  drug test in three years and both were convicted (again) of domestic abuse in October of 08.  But if you ask them they will tell you “I love my kids”.  Okay, really?!  I guess I can throw in the reason Social Services finally decided to remove the children is because mom got caught driving drunk with the kids in the car!  Heck, she’s already killed one person driving drunk!  Now she has the kids in the car driving drunk!!!  I mean what does it take?  But she loves her kids?!  Right.

Anyway, I will give the mother a little bit of credit… but just a little.  It took her a few years but  eventually she relinquished her parental rights.  No one has heard from dad for quite some time.  He hasn’t been around much since the judge ordered him to take his pay stub down and sign up for child support.  That was October of 06.   But he loves his kids too!

We went to court on July 31, 2009 for a trial to decide if the dad’s parental rights will be terminated.  Everyone says it looks like a slam dunk, but I guess you never know.

As I looked back over those last twenty-six or so months I can see God’s faithful hand.  As sad as it is, for some reason it’s easier (for me) to recognise His faithfulness when it comes to finances.  How sad is that?  Coming up with the extra eight hundred dollars a month for child care in those early months was a challenge but it was always there.  I remember that first Christmas someone walked up to me at church and handed me a check for four hundred dollars and said they wanted to make sure the kids had a good Christmas.  I knew what he meant so I didn’t go into my spill about what Christmas was all about.  Then some time in 07 the transmission in my wife’s Buick Regal went out.  So since my son-in-law had been killed in action in Afghanistan that same year she began driving his Dodge truck.  It sucked the gas and that was when the gas was over $4 a gallon too!  You will never believe what happened next.  Our “new kids’ maternal aunt and uncle, who by most standards are a bit affluent had an 02 Chrysler Town and Country with AM/FM/CD/DVD/PLAY STATION II/monitors in the head rests, a thirteen inch TV that folds down from the ceiling, leather and wood trim throughout with less than seventy thousand  miles… they gave it to us!!  Well that’s not EXACTLY true.  My dad died about eight years previous to this and we had just gotten back (I mean within two weeks) from the six hundred something miles one way trip to visit my mom.  Since my dad’s estate was in Louisiana and their law is different it took some  time to settle the estate.  I have five siblings so after all was said and done my part of my dad’s estate was eight hundred twenty-four dollars.  Before these people gave us the Chrysler Town and Country they said something like, “We want to give you guys the van but we have had some work done on it at the dealer (they were going to sell it) and if you can come up with the money to pay the dealer we will give you the van.  Guess how much the dealer bill was?  Eight hundred dollars exactly… but it needed gas so we put the other twenty dollars in the tank!

Honestly, at times I do wonder… what do people who retire do with their lives?  There is so much excitement and challenges in raising children.  You have to stay active (both mentally and physically).

After all what did Jesus say, “Let the little ones come unto Me.” (my paraphrase)

I have often heard our pastor say, “God’s will done God’s way has God’s provision.”

The adoption was finalized in December 2009.  We are still waiting on all the necessary paper work for the legal name changes, etc. but life is good.  Our youngest daughter is currently taking dance  and has her first recital in May.  Our son is currently playing flag football in with our local Recreation Department.  I have been the oldest daddy on a few field trips and I look at those 20something year old parents and sort of smile to myself.

We pray that He continues to provide and that we do our best to hear His voice and to be obedient to It.


ADOPTION FINALIZED!!!

November 23, 2009

That was almost fun!  The judge asked the Mrs. which child she wanted to sit
in her lap as she testified so our daughter went up with her.  Now here is our son 
(5 years old) and me sitting at that big table.  He reaches up and grabs the
mic’ and bends it down to his mouth and began answering the questions with
the Mrs.  I thought the judge was going to bust out laughing!  He was
grinning from ear to ear as he motioned for me to let our son be, that it was
okay.  It was hilarious!

Then when our son and I went up to testify, OMG!  The boy has somehow gotten
my DNA ’cause he hasn’t a shy bone in his body.  He answered a few questions
with me.   “Yes sir.”  Then when the judge asked him who his mommy was he
smiled real big and pointed to the Mrs. and then when asked who his daddy was
he smiled real big , turned in my lap and pointed at me.  Finally the judge
thanked him for “testifying” and our son leans into the mic’ and says, “You’re
welcome.”   What a hoot!

We didn’t get into the court room until about eleven and the judge actually
thanked us for bringing some happiness into his courtroom.

Some may think that after over forty-two months of working through this process that this is a “happy ending”  but in all actuality it is truly a happy beginning!”


Do you appreciate your spouse?

March 4, 2009

Family in bed together bonding

On May the 4th me and my Mrs. will be celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary.   As with all marriages we have had some challenging times as well as times of shear bliss.

I had surgery on my ankle about a month ago which has caused me to be quite a bit more sedentary than usual.  This time has given me cause to pause and consider many things in my life.  Choices made.  Chances passed up.  Mistakes.  Successes.  The list goes on.

Since I am unable to move about as I normally would, I have had to rely on others for alot of things.  The first week after surgery my oldest daughter left work just to bring me lunch.  She not only fed my stomach that day but more importantly (to me) she fed my spirit.  Knowing that she would be thinking about me and be willing to go so far out of her way to serve her ailing daddy.  I think that not only speaks to how her mother and I raised her but more importantly speaks of our relationship.

I’ll tell you what though, my Mrs. has really had to carry the load since I am unable.  Honestly though, she has always done so.  The woman is just driven.  Back “in the day” she worked full time and went to school full time at night and on weekend.  She went on to earn her MEd in Math and Science that way!  She’s a brilliant woman.  Now that she teaches high school math she not only teaches during the day but brings homes piles and piles of papers to grade every single night!

She really is amaszing, I don’t know how she does it.  For the last month (on top of her regular stuff) she has had to do the things I normally do too.  Heck, she even fussed at me for being up and doing things.  She has done all this and never, once complained.  

My Mrs. is quite a remarkable woman and I not only love her to pieces but I appreciate her too!


You can’t wear that!

February 26, 2009

This morning our little guy was getting dressed for school.  He wanted to wear a nice sweater that is designated “church clothes.”

I just don’t get it.  I mean, what’s the big deal if a kid wants to wear something nicer than usual?  I know, I know, nicer clothes cost more and all but c’mon…

When we decided to adopt these two little kids I made a conscious decision to do some things differently.  One of them was too not sweat the small stuff.  I think if a kid wants to wear an orange shirt with plaid pants, white socks and red tennis shoes… What’s the big deal?  So the kids looks funny. 

We want our children to express themselves except for when they dress themselves (now when they get to be teens I will have a say on how the little girl dresses).

However, one of the most important things I consciously/deliberately decided when we decided to adopt our “new kids.” Is to pick my “battles” carefully.  5:40 a.m. is not the time to begin a skirmish, much less a battle!

We are going to need to have a(nother) discussion about what is really important and what is not.


Pray for Abortion Clinics!

January 26, 2009

                                

Let me start off by saying that I am a Christian man.  I know that some people feel that I don’t have a right to an opinion about abortion because I don’t have any ovaries.  Baloney!

I feel like I have (some) authority to speak out on this subject because after raising three bi0logical daughters, thirty-five years of marriage and being in our fifties my wife and I are adopting a four year and six year old brother and sister.  So, you see, we are sacrificing our lives for those who need a life. You can see a piece of that story here https://mssc54.wordpress.com/ .

Now having said all that really unimportant stuff…

Holy and Mighty God I come to You and praise You for Your grace and mercy.  I bless Your name and thank You for the many blessings You have bestowed on me and my family.  I thank You too Lord for those things You have kept from happening to us.  You, oh Lord, are a loving, kind and just God.

Heavenly Father I pray for all facilities that provide services that intentionally terminate life that You have created.

I pray that as new facilities are being built the ground becomes unstable; that the concrete is found inferior and unable to support the construction; that the trucks bringing building materials become inoperable; that all sub-contractors decide not to provide their services for those buildings.  I pray  the glues used for floor coverings not to work properly; that the mortar being used does not work properly; that the sheet-rock is found to be inferior.  I pray for all wood products and ceiling tiles to become warped and moldy; that the ceiling grids will not fit properly.  I pray for all plumbing and plumbing fixtures to malfunction; for all steel products to become rusty and not meet code.  I pray for all roofing materials to not function as they are designed; for all windows and doors to leak and not close properly.  Lord, I pray that the various permits and inspections be denied. 

Lord for all those facilities (already licensed) who intentionally take the life of babies, I pray they become infested with termites; that their air ventilating systems become infested with mold and other toxic particles that will make it unhealthy for them to remain open.  I pray for the plumbing system(s) and fixtures to backup and malfunction; f0r the locks on the doors and windows to malfunction.  I pray for medical equipment to become inoperable, for supplies to be damaged and unusable.  I pray for electrical malfunctions.  Lord I pray for all the delivery people and service companies that are providing services to these facilities to suddenly become unwilling to continue to work with them.  If they don’t I pray for their vehicles to become inoperable; that their communication systems would malfunction.

Lord I lift up the personnel who work in these facilities.  I know that you love them Lord and want so much for them to see the evil of their jobs.  You want them, oh Lord, to come to You in love and develop an eternal relationship with You.  I pray that each one of them do just that.

Short of that Lord, I pray that You preserve their lives but Lord cause each and every one of them to become incapacitated to perform their duties in these killing facilities.  Keep them from sudden death Lord.  Lord if it takes a long protracted illness such as cancer (or the like) for them to realize that they need You then so be it.  For our lives here are not nearly as important as our eternal home. 

Abba-Father, please place the right people around these people who will be able to speak Truth and too be heard.  I pray for their souls Lord, that they would (some how) come to know Your love and forgiveness.

I pray Lord for those women who have already and who are intending on having their sons and daughters cut up and vacuumed out of them to see the evil in those actions and too turn immediately from them.  Grant each of them peace as they turn from death and choose life.  Please Lord help their minds to see truth so that their hearts can receive Truth.

Lord I pray for my Christian brothers and sisters; that they would not only be “sayers” of Your Word but to be “doers” Lord.  That they would reach out to those children already looking for a loving place to call home.  Have each of those who claim to be lovers of the Christ to become lovers of Your children and not to be selfish with their time, money and life.  Call each of them to sacrifice, I pray.

I know, Lord, that these petitions that I have put before You are great and many but You are an all powerful God and You, oh Lord, can do anything You choose.  En-tune Your ears to my prayer I pray and grant me the desires of my heart.  Save those who have been deemed unworthy of life by their so-called mothers.

For it is Written, “ask and ye shall receive”.  Thank You, Lord for it is in the mighty and all powerful name of Jesus, the Christ, I pray.