Perspective

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“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

― Viktor E. FranklMan’s Search for Meaning

Is perspective everything?  I’ve thought so for a long time and my beliefs are becoming more ingrained the older I get.  When I go through life this way, everything makes more sense.

Let me explain why.

Keeping things in perspective to me, means that everything (good, bad, indifferent) is relative. This means that every thought, idea, belief or act of mine is a product of my own personal life view. So when I say that I believe in Jesus the Son of God, my statement is based on an American, Christian, white, middle class worldview.  Life makes sense when I realize people’s actions are dependent on their perspective.  From this view, I look from above the forest and bask in it’s beauty and complexity.  The trouble is, I am constantly drawn back into that forest and become buried in foliage.  I forget that no matter what path I take, I have the power to experience it any way I want and that events I see as stressful, may (in reality) be good for me:

I wonder how many things in life would change by putting this principle into practice?

In his book, Searching for Life’s Meaning, Viktor Frankl described how he turned imprisonment at a Nazi Death camp into a meaningful experience.

“The experiences of camp life show that man does have a choice of action. … Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.”

But knowing this idea and putting it into practice are two different things.  For example, how do I change my perspective on waiting for our Little Panda?  It’s been almost ten months now and the wait seems never ending. If I focus on this fact then my wait becomes a watched pot, but if I recall that the average wait for a match is twelve months, then wham! my perspective changes and I’m back in the game of hope.

I believe a lot of our power to manifest a meaningful life comes from perspective.  We humans are built to bring meaning to things. So rambling about this accomplishes a few things for me….it allows me to frame our wait for Panda into something positive like:

  • The time is not right…either our family or Panda are not in the right place yet
  • This extra time allows us to properly prepare for our new daughter
  • Each passing day takes one day off the wait (BTW–This is how I get through Winter)
  • We have done everything that’s in our control, now is time to let go and trust in God

Just by framing things this way, makes the wait bearable….

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
― Viktor E. FranklMan’s Search for Meaning

To read some of more of Viktor E. Frankl quotes click the link below

https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/2782.Viktor_E_Frankl

God Genius

I have it all…family, friends, health…everything…yet one area of my life continues to elude me…

a job that I love.  

Don’t get me wrong….my profession allows me to touch lives in positive ways, but I have yet to find a job that sings to me…inspires me…empowers me to use my gifts to their fullest potential.

This struggle for a meaningful job has intensified over the past few years as home health tries to remain viable within our careening health care system.  I won’t bore you with all the details but at one point I was working four separate home health jobs to make ends meet.

Like most spoiled kids, I complain about these sort of things to God. 

“I want a job that inspires me!”  

“Why can’t I have a job that allows my wife to stay home?”  

“Why don’t you show me a clear path to follow?”  

Pretty ungrateful…I know…but I have scant tolerance for uncertainty and over the past two years my job has been about as certain as a Reds winning streak.

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I’ve always had a job in healthcare and am blessed for that, but my current path in home health is overgrown with weeds and I’m tired of pulling them.

 

Enter a new opportunity…

There’s a possibility that I may be moving into a different field, but I don’t know if it’s the right move.  It will be a difficult road but in the end it MAY prove to be the right course. Do I take it?

 

God?  PLEASE SHOW ME! 

 

To help me through this, I decided to shout out to God and see if He answered.  He always answers, but usually a) I don’t hear through the chatter of of my monkey brain or b) don’t listen long enough to hear His voice.

As many of you know, I see God through music.  I truly believe He speaks to me through songs and lyrics that evoke feelings…alerting me of His presence. So Monday while in my car for the morning commute, I asked God to be my Almighty DJ. 

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Let me explain.

 

I have an I-Pod with 4654 songs from numerous hard rock genres. In essence I said, “God, I’m struggling with this job decision so I want you to talk to me through my music.” 

Before I continue, I must inform you that my I-Pod was on “shuffle” (not Genius) which means that any one of those 4000 + tunes could have randomly come up. Brilliant songs from classy bands like Acid Bath, Tool, The Dillinger Escape Band, etc.  In fact I would say 70 to 80% of my tunes are either classic rock, metal or a variation of the two.  In other words, If you’re looking for the newest tune by Mary Chapin Carpenter…good luck.

So I hit “Play” and these are the songs (in order) God chose for my 30 minute commute:

 

“Call Me Fool” by Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WO48FEOakow

I can’t believe I finally found the key, the door, the trip it was all in my mind now I’m one with the fools of love

I can’t believe I finally found the prisoner, the free man were all in my mind now I’m one with the fools of love

 
These fools of love are misunderstood their history is with me now
I can’t believe my core was shaken I gave up the ghost of everything I was before now I’m one with the fools of love
 
The fools of love are misunderstood the mystery is with me now so call me a fool call me a fool call me a fool
I can’t believe my dream is over I woke up this morning with nothing but light in my eyes now I’m one with the fools of love
 
I can’t believe the key, the door, the clouds that blocked the sun they were all in my mind now I’m one with the fools of love

And these fools of love are misunderstood their history is with me now so call me fool call me a fool call me a fool the fools of love are misunderstood the mystery is with me now

 

“He” by Jars of Clay
(This song has always “hit” me and I know God used it because I’m thinking of going back into Pediatrics)
 
 
 
Don’t try to reach me, I’m already dead
The pain when it grips me, for things that I’ve done

Well I try to make you proud, but for crying out loud
Just give me a chance to hide away
Exhaustion takes over, will this someday be over?

[Chorus:]

Fearful tears are running down
The pain you’ve laid don’t speak a sound
Don’t take my heart away from me
And they think I fell down

Daddy, don’t you love me?
Then why do you hit me?
And Momma don’t you love me
Then why do you hurt me?
Well I try to make you proud, but for crying out loud
Just give me a chance to hide away
Exhaustion takes over, will this someday be over?

[Chorus]

A teardrop falls from up in the heavens
Drowning the sorrow of angels on high
For the least of the helpless, the hopeless, the loveless
My Jesus, His children, He holds in His eyes


“Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down” by Robert Plant
 
 
 
Satan, your kingdom must come down
Satan, your kingdom must come down
I heard the voice of Jesus say
Satan, your kingdom must come down

Gonna pray until they tear your kingdom down
Gonna pray until they tear your kingdom down
I heard the voice of Jesus say
Satan, your kingdom must come down

Gonna shout until they tear your kingdom down
Gonna shout until they tear your kingdom down
I heard the voice of Jesus say
Satan, your kingdom must come down

 

“Faithfully”
(It was the Glee version—gotta bite the bullet and keep with what God gave me)
 
Highway run
Into the midnight sun
Wheels go round and round
You’re on my mind
Restless hearts
Sleep alone tonight
Sending all my love
Along the wire

They say that the road
Ain’t no place to start a family
Right down the line
It’s been you and me
And lovin’ a music man
Ain’t always what it’s supposed to be
Oh, girl, you stand by me
I’m forever yours
Faithfully

Circus life
Under the big top world
We all need the clowns
To make us smile
Through space and time
Always another show
Wondering where I am
Lost without you

And being apart
Ain’t easy on this love affair
Two strangers learn to fall in love again
I get the joy of rediscovering you
Oh, girl, you stand by me
I’m forever yours
Faithfully

Faithfully
I’m still yours

I’m forever yours
Ever yours
Faithfully


As I said, my music is mainly heavy, ridiculous stuff so there wasn’t an abundance of choices here which makes this so amazing.  4 songs (undeniably chosen) in a row that speak to me.  

 

God is with me…He is with you…we just need to tune in.

The Waiting Game

Does anyone like to wait?

Just thinking of a clogged I-75 burns my biscuits.

Why?

Because waiting is un-American.  Because our society runs like a blitzkrieg.  Because instant information is readily available at our fingertips.

You get the point.

Time is a strange thing.  Some days are gone in a blink, while others crawl along like Slowpoke Rodriguez.

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The best explanation I’ve heard about this phenomena came from a very smart lady.  Grandma was 95 years old when I asked, “Why does time speed up when you get older?” Granny smiled. “When you’re young, you feel as though you have all the time in the world, but when you get old, time flies by. I think it’s because the longer you’re here the less a year seems in comparison to your age…” I thought her explanation was brilliant.  In essence, Granny was saying that 1 year to a 10 year old goes slower than mine because 365 days constitutes 1/10th of their lived experience while it’s only 1/40th of mine therefore, to me the year “feels” smaller in comparison.

Boy-Looking-Confused.png (530×484) I still think it’s brilliant.

Unfortunately Granny’s time theory isn’t working in regards to our adoption because each day is dragging.  Things were really cookin’ during the dossier process, but now time has slowed to glacial speed. I’ve read the hardest part of an adoption is the wait. Perhaps that’s true–but until a child becomes available on the special needs list, there’s nothing to do but wait. On average, it’s taking about 12 months to be matched with a special needs child through our agency.  We completed our medical list about 9 months ago, so hopefully we’re rounding third on this.

Why is the process taking so long?  In my attempt to answer this conundrum, I decided to look online for  answers.  Here’s the skinny:

According to this article written by NPR in 2012, China is encouraging domestic adoptions over foreign ones which has slowed the process.

http://www.npr.org/2012/08/07/157844554/would-be-parents-wait-as-foreign-adoptions-plunge

NBC news writes, “China has eased its one-child policy, fewer baby girls are abandoned, domestic adoptions of healthy orphans have increased…causing the waiting time to triple in the past four years.”

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/36037857/ns/health-childrens_health/t/adopting-chinas-special-needs-kids/#.U7YV6JRX-uY

Finally CNN states, the process has slowed due to “rising regulations and growing sentiment in countries such as Russia and China against sending orphans abroad.”

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/16/world/international-adoption-main-story-decline/

This same article claims that, ” As China slows international adoptions, the number of children filling its orphanages is climbing — rising to 92,000 in 2011, almost a 50% rise from 2004, according to China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs.”

I think orphans SHOULD be adopted by their own people, but obviously the supply of orphans continues to overwhelm the demand for domestic adoptions in China, which brings me back to the original question…why the wait?

If there is such a great need, then why is the process taking so darn long?

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I’m open to answers…

Mine All Mine

It’s been awhile since a song inspired me, but leave it to Van Halen.

 

“Mine All Mine”

Forgive me father 
For I have sinned 
I’ve been through hell and back again 
Shook hands with the devil 
Looked him in the eye 
Looked like a long lost friend 
Anything you want 
Any dirty deeds 
He’s got everything 
Except what I really need 
Keepin’ me temporarily satisfied 
But not one thing I tried 
Filled me up inside 
Or felt like mine 
Mine, all mine 
Yeah, the search goes on 
The more I look 
My world keeps getting smaller 
Staring at the sun 
Searchin’ for the light 
Almost ended up blinded 
Some only see 
What they want to see 
Claiming victory 
Oh, but that’s not me 
Give me truth 
Give me something real 
I just want to feel 
Like it’s 
Mine, all mine 
Oh really mine, all mine 
Come on give me something 
Something that’s mine, all mine, all mine 
Mine, all mine 
All the words on the wall 
Look the same in the mirror 
Every riddle 
Every clue 
You got Allah in the east 
You got Jesus in the west 
Christ, what’s a man to do? 
They’ll find a cure for anything 
Just kill the pain 
Numb my brain 
We see a man 
Speaking the word of God 
Provin’ to be a fraud 
His own church applauds 
Stop lookin’ out 
Start lookin’ in 
Be your own best friend 
Stand up and say 
Hey! This is mine 
All mine, all mine, all mine 
Baby, you got something 
And I got something 
And it’s mine, all mine, all mine 
Mine, all mine 
Mine, all mine 
Yes, I’m searching 
Mine, all mine 
Got to have it 
Mine, all mine 
Mine, all mine
I can’t say I’ve been through “hell and back again” but I can relate to searching for truth and ending up disappointed…following paths that lead to nowhere…listening to people who see this world as black and white…puzzled by those who follow blind truths without questioning them.
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I can relate to that drive for something real…replacing religiosity for tangible ways of helping other human beings…being disappointed by ideologies that claim truth but in reality are methods of justifying the human experience.
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I can relate to numbing myself to this world and what needs to be done…seeing the frustration that people have with those claiming to be followers of God while their actions don’t line up. I’m one of those not lining up!
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Finally, I can relate to finding meaning by looking “outside” myself, by looking to things that are shallow rather than deep, transitory rather than eternal…finding meaning in pleasure, money or a myriad of other worldly things.  Hey, I love this world and don’t buy that God wants us to hate our lives and everything  physical but there’s a reflection of truth in simple things.  I can’t explain it rationally, but my heart sings while pushing my kids on a swing or sitting with my dad on a park bench as the sun sets or wrapping my arms around Reece on a cold night.  Truths like these are hard to define but are what matter most…experiences  not bought at Walmart or used up…rather things connecting us together like invisible threads of love.
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God gave me this life experience and rather than allowing someone else to dictate reality, I’m gonna do like Sammy and look inside for something that’s mine—mine all mine.

Passionate Friends

Recently we shared an awesome evening with some friends of ours who share a common interest. If you’ve read my blog, you already know what that commonality is.

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Several years ago, this sweet couple adopted a little girl from China.  Reece and I have known them for years, but now something drew us all together.  All night long, the four of us reveled in this adoption journey going through videos, pictures and keepsakes from their trip to China. It was a great night for many reasons–but perhaps the biggest was our shared passion.

In the beginning of this adoption journey, I thought everyone would relate to our enthusiasm.  I was hungry for someone to share in our interest, someone moved by the same cadence of spirit, who knew where we were coming from and related to this decision to adopt a kiddo from China.  What I quickly realized was…not everyone can relate to this.

Each of us has a passion.  Maybe it’s hiking or stamp collecting…heck I knew a guy who loved to crumple paper, but the point is, your passion is yours and may not translate to others.  I’m confused with Pokemon but millions of kids (mine included) love that stuff.  To me, watching a Pokemon cartoon is about as interesting as shopping for shoes,  but my kids and wife are passionate about these things, so who am I to judge?

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Obviously, adoption is different, but is it really?  We are all called for something, whether it’s saving a child or manatee, solider or post office, redwood or tata…http://savethetatas.info/   Who’s to say which of these things is more important?  I would say the child but someone else may see it differently and I really can’t blame them.

If someone is going on and on about something they love, why not join in?  Why not bring something to the conversation?  Well, because it’s a passion you really can’t relate to.  You can try to be cordial, asking questions in support of your friend, but in the end it’s their mission and their passion…not yours.  If you told me a year ago that I would spend one entire evening of my life talking about Chinese adoptions, I would have answered like my 8-year-old daughter, “Yeah Right!”  But a passion like mine cannot be described unless you have it in you.

So the next time I’m rambling about China and see that glazed-over look creeping into your eyes, it won’t bother me.  Why should it?  This isn’t your mission, this is my mission and I’m driven by a different motive…different meaning and purpose…one that’s unique to me.

What’s your passion?

Martha

 

Never Give Up: Miracles Happen!

“Most people know their family background, but I do not have one.  I do not know where I came from.  My parents abandoned me as soon as I was born…”  Martha Kang
Martha Kang was born an orphan in Wuhu, Anhui Province, China.  I first discovered her story during our silent auction when one of the Sisters of the Transfiguration mentioned this amazing lady who suffered hardships for the       cross of Jesus.

 

“You must meet Martha,”  the sister said.  “You could learn much from her  experiences.”

I agreed wholeheartedly.  Here was a woman born in China…a person whose story  (in many ways)  mirrors my future daughter’s.  So after our party, I did what a lot of guys would do…I let my parents set up a meeting with Martha.

 

A few weeks later, my family and I set out for the Community of the Transfiguration, where Martha lives.  It’s a picturesque setting nestled in a sleepy, wooded lot in Glendale, Ohio.

http://www.ctsisters.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=74&Itemid=68

 

As we approached the grounds, dozens of questions ran  through my mind: “What was it like being an orphan?”  “Did you ever try to meet your parents?” “Do you consider yourself Chinese or American?” “How important is Chinese culture to you?” “Should we enroll our Panda in a Chinese school?” “How long will it take for her to adjust to our family?”….on and on and on.

I didn’t know what to expect.  This was someone who “walked the walk” of an abandoned orphan.  Someone who suffered imprisonment and torture because of her Christian faith.  In my mind, I pictured a reserved soul who was tough as nails.

When we arrived, Martha was waiting for us at the convent. She was calm and alert, her smile immediately putting everyone at ease.  She ushered us into the rectory where at the youthful age of 80, Martha continues to help the sisters in their daily activities.

“If they need a ride to the doctor…I do that.  If they need help getting dressed…I do that too.  Whatever they need, I am there for them,” she said.

I was ready to listen to Martha’s story, but that’s not how it started.  Martha is the type of person who’s very interested in you, asking pointed questions, then sitting back and listening intently.   She asked about our adoption and how far we were along, then praised us for going on this journey.

“You are good people to do this and your daughter will love you for that.”

If there was a theme to our meeting it was this…”Love is most important.”  Simple yet powerful.  In fact too simple for me.  I figured we would mostly discuss the psychological traumas of abandonment, but when I asked Martha about seeking her maternal family, she answered,

“The church is my family.  Why should I search for people who abandoned me?”

Martha went onto say that her maternal mother showed unconditional love by leaving her with the nuns in China.

“I wasn’t left in the garbage or somewhere like this…they (her family) knew I would be well cared with the sisters.”

I was amazed at Martha’s clarity and insight. Researching the internationally adopted child paints a certain picture in your mind.  You learn how the adoptee loses a vital piece of their identity, yet I never detected this with Martha. Certainly, Martha struggled with many issues, but in her eighty plus years, she learned to accept her life, without muddling through what could have been.

When asked how to raise a Chinese child in our American culture, Martha’s answer was simple:

“Your daughter will show you what she needs and you will provide that for her.  Your love will be enough. If she wants to pursue such things than let her, but there is no need to force them.  She will be an American girl and be drawn to American things.”

Her answer floored me.  I was waiting to be lectured on keeping Little Panda’s Chinese culture intact.  For sure, we will make every effort to incorporate our daughter’s Asian roots into her life, but speaking with Martha reduced my stress and reminded me that each child’s journey is unique.

“Let love lead the way and you cannot go wrong.”

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I knew that!

 

Learn more about Martha’s inspiring story by reading her book “Never Give Up–Miracles Happen!”

http://www.ctsisters.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=92:martha-kangs-book&catid=55:books&Itemid=73

 

 

 

 

The Eye of Swedish Meats

There’s a lot of stuff moving around in my head.  It’s as if I can’t turn my mind off.

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Going to IKEA a few weeks back didn’t help matters.  There I was, walking through the myriad of furniture, accessories, ridiculous options that no man in his right mind would ever conceive when it hit me…I need to unplug.  I need to ground myself.  I need to be present.

It was amazing.  I can say all the right things to myself but putting them into practice is another thing. So there I was among the chaos that is IKEA when I came to the obvious conclusion…

I can’t do this! I can’t block out my life.

I tried turning my mind off, but then a giant sign of meatballs would show itself…or a room full of boxes… or a human assembly line of ooglers who wanted nothing more than to spend their Sunday afternoon indoors with hundreds of other strangers looking at everything from beds to shelves to stuffed rats…..blleaaahhhhh!  I defy the Dalai Lama to turn his thoughts off in an environment like that.

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Being a spiritual sage in a controlled environment is easy…try keeping your cool when you’re rolling a twenty-foot table through a bustling crowd (i.e. at IKEA!) or trying the thousandth time to put your kids to bed after a 10 hour work day.  If you can keep yourself under control under such circumstances  then I have more respect for you than any spiritual master on a mountain.

As I walked through IKEA, my mind screamed RUN DUMMY!   Run away until there’s no distraction, complication, messiness. But that’s life isn’t it?  Life is messy, complicated…even ugly at times.  Life doesn’t sit around and wait for you to be ready…it just IS.  So what I learned that day amongst the buffet of Swedish meats was that no matter what is going on around me, I have the power to react any way I choose.  Even as I write this, I’m not quite sure I believe it.  I’ve put my fist through walls, screamed at those whom I love, treated the innocent with contempt…yet I have control over these lower, reptilian responses?

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I once met a woman who had ten kids.  She was at an age where they all were grown and I asked her how she made it through.

“I learned to remain in the eye,” she said.  “Every hurricane has an eye and I learned early on, if I didn’t keep myself inside that calm center then everything else would go kaput!”

Good advice, but how do you remain in the eye?  Is it something learned or a blessing you’re born with?

During our IKEAn trip, I could have ran away while Reece and the kids shopped.  Instead I tried to find the eye…and you know what?

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I never found it.

 

I believe there’s a reason for all of this…mess.  There are rewards and lessons adding to our human experience and even though I walk through the shadow of crowds, schedules, kids and meatballs….in the end all of these events will be worth experiencing.

 

At least that’s how I made it through IKEA.

 

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