Thursday, December 27, 2007

reaching up

Reaching up, slowly peeling away the layers of fog that have long surrounded my mind, I find bits and pieces of what I am searching for. Throughout your life there are experiences that can never be re-lived. Moments like these are once in a lifetime, sometimes so rare that few ever can relate. Retelling stories that exist based on a past experience like this are often thought of as lore or myth or even street legend, but for those of us that have these specific moments in our lives we know they are no bit of fiction.

What I am talking about has nothing to do with your first trip to Disney Land, although I’m sure that was great. We are also not talking about your wedding day, although that can come close, but instead think bigger like the day that he/she asked you to marry him/her. You can do your best to put yourself back on that rock just a block away from your parents house when he poured out his heart and said you were the girl for him. You can try and recreate those butterflies and that nervous excitement that welled somewhere deep within. Sometimes the feelings are stronger than others and you can almost feel the wind of the day and cars rushing past.

Times like that are similar to what I’m talking about. It’s times like watching my son being born into this world and being one of the first people to ever hold him. I know God got to be first but I was right there waiting for Him to finish so I could be next. I still remember who was there and the name of the doctor and which hospital we were in. I remember the flushed look on my wife’s face and the tears of joy coming from my sister-in-law. I remember worrying about the amount of oxygen in the room given how many of my wife's family were there.

I have been fortunate in this space of life to have a couple of good times like these. I don’t think there could ever be some level of importance put on any of them but there are certainly ones that I favor over others. There is one however that I am coming more and more to grips with so to speak. It does nearly rival that of my son being born but it is so different when it should be so similar. I am referring to meeting my daughter for the first time.

To my knowledge, adoption has not been prevalent in my family’s history. In fact there hasn’t been a single adoption into our family on my mom’s side that I know of. It’s not to say there has never been one, just not one that I know of.

When I first saw my daughter she had coban holding oxygen tubes to her face. She was about 8 months old and all I knew was this was one messed up little girl. The bits and pieces I had gathered from my mother in law was that she was neglected by her birth mother to some degree, she was malnourished, had several underdeveloped organs (potentially) and could very well spend her life blind and unable to walk. This young life I saw had been born extremely premature, 25 weeks to be exact, weighing 1 pound and 10 ounces. To put that into perspective, you own empty coffee cups that weigh more and are bigger than she was at birth.

As I learned of her short past I was immediately captivated. Here was this beautiful little girl that God had made. There were apparent problems but somehow God gave me eyes to see past them. When I asked my wife about the possibility of adopting this tiny soul there was doubt. This little girl was going to need a lot of help, a lifetime to be sure. There were some reservations of course. We prayed for what seemed like months before taking this to the next level. My wife and I talked all the time anyway and soon the idea of adopting this girl was all we discussed.

The first anxiety was the risk. What if she never walked or talked? What if she had debilitating asthma for the rest of her life due to small lungs? What if she went blind or deaf or both? What if she died of some unknown issue that we could never have predicted? As we pondered all of these and more, what struck me was thinking how these questions were relevant with any child. The only difference was that we were not her biological parents and did not have any family history to pull from.

Besides the health risks which were very real was the stigma. What I mean by that is this…this little girl was (and is) of Hispanic descent. Remembering that adoption was not existing in my family’s history I wondered if my family would welcome such an addition. As I talked more to people who understood this concern I realized it was common among adoptive parents who brought home bi-racial children. Yet through all of this it never occurred to me to question it for myself. For some reason there was never a time that I thought of bringing this little girl home as weird or not right in any way.

I like to think I was looking through God’s eyes there for a little while. God was literally saying to me, “look at this creation I have made, it is beautiful in every way and I want you to care for her”. So while there was no stigma from my perspective and also for my wife, I still had reservations regarding what my folks and siblings might think. I called my mother and asked her to come down and meet this girl. I asked my brothers and sister to pray. I asked my entire family to keep an open mind. It had occurred to me that there would be some rejection and being the typical alpha male I tried to stem the tide prior to tsunami stage.

After all was said and done and we made the public announcement to adopt, mostly we were met with support. There were some immature statements made by a couple of unthoughtful people but overall everyone was really great.

As we plunged forward it never occurred to me to be scared or overly concerned about my daughter’s future. Somehow I had an inner peace that was working overtime. I know now that the Holy Spirit was right there playing the part of coach and He knew exactly which play to call next.

There have been many ups and downs over the past 6 years as one would imagine, but here we are and I can’t even dream of having it any other way. Just last month I watched my daughter ride a horse all by herself. It was a full size, 1000 pound adult horse named Snickers and my daughter rode Snickers without help after only 3 lessons. Not bad for a little girl who some doctors thought wouldn’t see her 2nd birthday.

Yes I am a proud father, but I’m just taking cues from the greatest father of them all, he’s the one calling the plays. It has been an eventful ride thus far but I’m sure the best is yet to come.

my life is not mine, and yet it is mine to live for Him. Peace to you all.


doom and gloom

based on what the so called experts are saying, the sky is falling. in fact the water is rising and the ice is melting and the temperature is rising and the water is becoming increasingly scarce and moose flatulence is to blame for it all. ok so i exaggerated just a tad on that last one, but let’s face it, who wants to smell moose farts? not me, that’s for sure.

so let’s just say the world as we know it is doomed and we all are soon to find out how long we can tread water. best case scenario in life is we grow old and move to florida anyway, so how bad could it get? i would rather go early than see myself in a member’s only jacket (again) and a pair of bermuda shorts and a panama hat, chasing after a 25 year old woman who only wants my money.

what exactly are we so bent on doing or becoming or having in this life? if you answer something along the lines of “a better life for my children than i had”, you are better than most. but ultimately, who’s life are you living? once my kids are old enough they will move out and into their own lives, which they will control (to some degree or another). i have a small amount of influence now but soon i will just be the know-nothing dad that they’re embarrassed to have their friends meet.

i may sound cynical here but i am going purely for realism and nothing else. at best we have about 70 years of productive living to look forward to after we turn 20 (prior to that, our lives are definitely not all that productive, let’s be real). this is assuming i can still function at the ripe old age of 90, although my grandfather is living proof so who knows. from where i am now, i have about 50 years left tops. with that in mind, it strikes me as odd how so many are so worthless in their attempts to chase after things they know they can’t take with them.

regardless of whether or not you believe in God or Buddha or the loch ness monster or the tooth fairy, one way or another you are going to die. when you do, all the things you accumulated will be split up by those who you left behind. you might get all tricky and write a will, then have an executor who presides over your estate in order to fulfill the legalities of what was in your will. but truthfully, once you’re gone, you’re gone. you don’t get to come back and start all over again and reclaim all your old stuff and keep going. in this video game there is but one life, if you catch my drift.

the more i think about it, the more i want as little as possible when i pass. my hope is to have given everything away before i go so there is nothing left for anyone to fight about. i’ve seen it too, people fighting over a loved ones things after they go. what’s the point, pretty soon we’ll all be gone and then what, what was all the fighting for anyway? you get only so many years to actually do something worthwhile in this life.

if the world is really so bad, why aren’t all the rich people spending like there’s no tomorrow? where is the mass panic on the part of all the really stupid people? when we turned the corner on 2000 from 1999, most of the idiots i knew rushed to the store to stock up on food and propane and generators. people cried right up until midnight for fear they would not see the sunrise. a lot of saps actually got out their video cameras and recorded their evening expecting to see some sort of apocolypse right before their eyes.

what i want to know is, if the apocolypse were really to have happened, what were these people planning to do with the tape? is bob sagat waiting at the pearly gates with a vcr? is allen funt going to scream that i’m on candid camera? if so i hope i have all my bling so i can really impress paula abdul who of course will be judging the proceedings. she will be high as a kite too, i’m sure.

here’s something to consider for all you fanatics of doomsday. you can spout off all day about science and global warming and elk tooting but let me be clear about one thing, when you’re gone, you’re gone. spend a little more time worrying about what happens after you die and less time trying to get the next spot on “the biggest loser”.

although the profundity in that statement will probably be lost, you have to admit that the greatest reality show never to hit the big screen is your own life and what you did with it. take some time in the next few days before another year escapes you and ask yourself what or who you are living for. look around you, are you surrounded by friends and loved ones or things and more loved things?

what is so wrong about loving the skin you’re in and living for today? what is so bad about being a real friend and helping those less fortunate than you? why is it so hard to just be nice?

some say give peace a chance, but be reminded that being peaceful also requires you to listen and attend to the needs of others that they may attain peace as well. there is work to be done and we may have to sweat a little to get there. just keep your gas to yourself, the moose are going to kill us all anyway.

my life is not mine, and yet it is mine to live for Him. Peace to you all.