Archive for February, 2007

Adoption

Posted in Adoption, Faith, family on February 28, 2007 by Avery

I have been thinking about the adoption process a lot lately, thinking about my kids, myself, and just adoption in general. I’ve been thinking bout what adoption means, in a more spiritual sense, and in the physical as well. I’ve been thinking about the blessing, inheritance, and curse that is adoption. There is a curse, for to be adopted something went wrong somewhere, the parents died, were taken away, or abandoned the child, basically the enemy destroyed the intent, the “good” the “first”.  But then there is a blessing that follows in adoption, as the child is removed from that curse and returned to justice, returned to family. My kids have inherited what the enemy stole from them through AIDS, at least that is what we have assumed took their mother away from them.

We recently discovered that our children are at least 2nd generation orphans. Their mother was an orphan, and I believe their adopted grandmother was an orphan as well. I hope to get more details on the family history when we return to Ethiopia.  Their mother had no contact with their fathers, but 4 years ago she got “sick” and that eventually put her in permanent bed rest. They couldn’t afford medical care, and at that point the ARV drugs weren’t available to most in Ethiopia (If I have the drugs wrong please forgive me) After laying in bed for a year, and slowly slipping away she passed away a little under 3 years ago leaving the kids in the care of her adoptive mother, an 89 year old woman with no income.

Although this story is specific to my children, it’s global to us all as well.  

This was the state of our hearts, collectively as humans. We had inherited the curse of the orphan, our father had been ripped away from us when Eve and Adam ate the pomegranate (I’m not Catholic, just like that version of the story better than the apple) For generation after generation we kept passing the curse down to the next generation, as our hearts cried out for our Father. Then 2000 years ago the price was met, the adoption was completed, the curse was broken, the relationship with our Father restored. Do we look like our adoptive Father? Do we act like Him? We try, but we fall short in so many ways, but he still lavishes his love on us and in many ways I believe He finds our attempts endearing.  As we grow and mature we become more and more like our Father, but we know that on this side of eternity we will never be completely like our Father. It frustrates us many times, but then we push in even harder and continue to run the good race to please our Father. How many times have we heard the adopted child point our all the ways they are similar to their adopted parent? My kids were born and raised in Ethiopia, but they love the fact that they like music like their mom and dad. Yosef takes markers and draws tattoos on his arms to be like his dad. He doesn’t know that I have never watched a pro soccer game in my life, but he loves the fact that we both pull for the Arsenals, I pull because it’s his favorite team. They cherish the small gifts we have given them, in the orphanage they wear the clothes we have given them every day. When Yosef discovered I carried a Bible with me in my backpack he wanted one, honestly the kid is probably better at being more diligent at reading his Bible every day than I am.  For them family has been restored. God has brought back what the enemy stole from them, and blessed them even further with the father they never had.

Adoption has opened my eyes to a lot, made the love story of the Bible even clearer than it was before. It’s opened my heart in new ways and made me a better man than I was before. Many say that we saved our childrens lives in adopting them, but for as much of a blessing as this has been to them, I have been blessed more.  This leg of the journey has finally come to a close, and the journey has been long and arduous, but it has been fruitful as well.

I was lost, but now am found

I was blind, but now I see

I was orphaned, but God’s justice rescued me

Thank you my Father, for giving me this journey so that I may see the astounding love You have had for me.

Done enough to call it done

Posted in family on February 27, 2007 by Avery

OK, all day Saturday I spent rebuilding the dumb vanity cabinet. When I put the old one back in part of it shattered (the kick board) and it has dropped some height making a mess on the wall.

Well what I did was buy a sheet of 3/4 inch ply and built a new cabinet out of that. We made it nearly an inch taller than the old one, making for an unusually high sink, but it covers the damage to the paint from removing it before!

When we took apart the old one we discovered that there was an instalation sticker on the back of it, we couldn’t read the signature but it came from Sears & Roebuck and was installed on October 11, 1976. The vanity was older than my wife!!

I wish I had a photo of how this room started, pink tiles, pink walls, pink curtains, pink floor, it was like being inside a pepto bismol bottle!

Now we call it the grape room. Faux marble (painted by me) ceiling, purple walls, white trim, peel and stick marble floors, and a vanity that would hold a volvo on it!

I have to move the molding down (need to buy the right nails) and fix the faucet on the bathtub (I can’t remove the old one and I’ve tried everything) and it will be done done.

Who Do You Think You Are?

Posted in Church, Faith, social justice on February 26, 2007 by Avery

Seriously who do you think you are to change the world? Why do you think you can make a difference? What makes you think that you are anybody to make a difference?

 Let me just say I’ve been hearing this kind of talk for my entire life. Not smart enough, not rich enough, not famous enough, not good looking enough, not a lot of things enough. But I want you to sit down for a minute and think, and think about all of the monumental shifts in history, all of the great movements of our time, all of the events that matter to most to the world we live in. Now think about how those things came into being, and suddenly you are back to the dream of one person.

Do you attend a Protestant church? Then thank Luther for stopping being a drunken womanizer. Do you attend a Catholic church? Then you need to thank Peter for putting down the fishing rod. Are you part of the Coptic church? Then thank mark for returning to Africa to bring the gospel back to the land that raised our Christ. Are you enjoying your civil liberties then you need to thank men like MLK who decided to stay within the comfort of his small church and dream of a better day without action would be a sin. Are you inspired of the companies that have joined the (RED) pledge and are making a difference in Africa? Then thank Bono for having the vision to pursue things that “rock stars” aren’t supposed to care about.

So where does that leave you? Where does that leave me? Well if you are like me it leaves you with a pile of excuses, debt, kids, family, job, life…. You name it, I have a reason I can’t do it, but the reality of the situation is that I have these excuses because of fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of success. But that’s why I’ve decided to stop hiding behind the fear and to lash out at the world and the injustices that thrive there today! My heart burns for the plight of the orphan, but it’s bigger than that as well. My heart burns for racial reconciliation in the church, but that is barely the tip of the iceburg. My sould yearns for change, and I am trying, by taking it one step at a time.

Unfortunatly many, if not most live a shallow empty life that is soon forgotten when they are gone.

But all of the big causes are gone people say. If I was alive during the days of slavery I would have made a difference then, I would have  been able to do something with that. (I’ve really heard this statement) I could have been an abolitionaist and really made a difference then! But did you know there are over 27,000,000 people that are currently living in slavery today? Thats more slave today than the total of slaves taken from Africa in the 400 years of the Trans-Atlantic slave route. Can you make a difference? Are you really willing to be an abolitionist? What if it means boycotting diamonds so that the DeBeers and Oppenheimers (the major owners of the majority of diamond mines the world) no longer find their slave trade to be profitible.  It’s easy to take a stand against blood diamonds, I mean no one wants to finance a war, so taking a stand on blood diamonds is easy, they are illegal anyways right? But look down at your hand, or your wifes hand, or the bling on your grill, or rolex, and think about the 7 year old kid that dug up the diamond under the barrel of the gun. Think about the 10 year old girl who is raped every night by her captors after she ends a 12 hour shift cutting the diamond down into a sellable size. These aren’t the children of the “blood diamonds” No this is the life of the Debeer “family” Are you still willing to be a modern day abolitionist? Are you willing to take a stand? Then join me and the over 50,000 people willing to sign a petition to end modern day slavery! No a petition isn’t enough, you have to do more. A diamond is a woman’s best friend? Yeah, the DeBeer family made that marketing slogan famous.

This is just a small part of the problem, look in your local neighborhood. We are screaming that gangs are on teh rise, teen pregnancy is on the rise, drugs are on the rise, violent crime is on the rise, but no one want’s to deal with the root of it. Broken hearts are on the rise. We live in a wounded world. People flock to the gangs to find solace from their broken hearts, they do the drugs to sooth the pain, they cut their arms to make a pain that over rides the pain of their heart. There is a broken generation growing up in our midst, one who’s heart is hurting and the apathetic and impotent church of my parents generation isn’t going to cut the mustard. There is a need to find a new way to love, and new way to show Christ, a new way to make a difference. As one movement has termed it, we must write love on our arms.  You want to see a difference in the gangs, you want to see the kids turn somewhere else instead of drugs. Well then be that person. Big Brothers, Big Sisters needs you, any mentor program for youth you can find needs you, the run away shelters and hotlines need you. And if this is a passion of your heart, if this makes you come alive inside the Church needs you develop a strategy to be that place to turn to that is real and stable and “legit”  Seriously take a hard look at your church youth group, now look at the 13 year old kid that just joined the gang down the street, are the tools there to deal with the reality of the hurting kids that are joining the gangs? Is there anything there that would make the kid looking at the gang even want to look twice at your church? They are joining the gangs to fill the void and to help the hurt of the broken heart, not to eat pizza on Sunday night and to listen to an old dude preach for 30 minutes. They need people willing to invest into their lives, to be “family” to lavish love on them after a life of being told they are unlovable. Do you have what it takes?

Now it seems as if I have gone into left feild, but I haven’t no not really. You see the era of Luther’s and King’s and X’s is past. The generation that follows one man’s movement is gone and past. But the generation that follows one man’s difference to another man is here.

Once there was a wise blind kung fu master who was teaching his young grasshopper the secrets of life. (yes I like the kung fu movies, and yes this is a scene from Kung Fu the series) Young grasshoper was bored and was skipping stones across the lake they were sitting next to when his master asked him what the final destination was of the stones he was throwing. Grasshopper replied, “nowhere I guess” His master retorted, “Everything has a beginning and an end to it’s journey, when you pick up the stone it begins it’s journey, so where does it end?” Grasshopper replied “At the bottom of the lake I guess” At this point the master picked up a stone and threw it into the lake, “Does not the stone create waves when it enters the lake?” “Yes” replied young Grasshopper. “How many waves does it make? Where do they go?” Asked the master. Grasshopper looked for a moment and replied, “The waves appear to go everwhere they touch every edge of the lake and ripple ever willow in the water, they appear to be infinate” The master replied, “Yes, so it is with life, every choice you make affects another in life, every person you touch touches another, they choices you make today will still be making waves 100 years after you are long dead”

I have my own passions, social justice for the poor and needy being at the top of that list. Orphans ranking at the top of that list. But that is the passion of my heart, not yours. Perhaps your heart burns for the abused woman, the battered child, the run away teen, the alcoholic father. Maybe your heart comes alive with accounting, with web design (by the way if your heart comes alive with webdesign and you would like to dontate a website for a non profit my wife and I have started please e-mail me) Maybe your hear comes alive under the hood of a car, or on the back of a motorcycle, painting pictures, or whitewashing walls, it takes it all to make the complete picture. The question is where do you fit in, and are you willing to start doing it?

Isn’t it time that the world actually did become a better place? Isn’t it time that it was because of you?

The Comedian Activist?

Posted in social justice on February 23, 2007 by Avery

Ok, so he did it so he would have a video for his website, not because he really wants to help anyone, but I couldn’t help but think that his methods would work just about anywhere.

 Let me go ahead and precursor this with I am not endorsing the comedian, not telling you to do what he has done, just putting this out there as a method of “thinking outside the box”

 

The “Quick” Project From Sheol

Posted in family on February 22, 2007 by Avery

(click to enlarge)

Looking at the photo above you see a nice room. The air vent is missing (it’s currently drying behing the house) but let me tell you how it wound up there!

Saturday the toilet started leaking BAD. Looking at it there appeared to be a crack at the back of the bowl, and then in attempting to removed the toilet I wound up shattering the base SO TO LOWES I GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well we found the toilet we wanted and Heather wanted to replace the tile while we had it up. So we grabbed some peel and stick and headed home.

Well the current floor, a really, really ugly pink, was peeling up around the edges, so that had to come up. Well under it was the laminate that was identical to the old 80’s McDonalds floors. That was peeling up as well. Under that was another brown laminate floor, and that was on top of old blue vynel tile floor, that wasn’t adhered to the subfloor at ALL. Well the entire floor came up and we were down to wood.

Now the subfloor was in good shape, but they installed it like crap, there was a one inch gap between the floor and the walls everywhere. 5 tubes of caulk later, and an old can of latex paint and the floor was ready to put down.

Now when you pull out 4 layers of floor and put down one, guess what happens to the floor? And what kind of idiot would intall an O-ring on top of the 3rd layer?

So next we have to call a plumber thinking we were going to have to pay for the cast iron pipe to be cut down for the o-ring to be dropped an 1/2 inch. But the guy showed us how to fix it with some shims and did it for free.

Well I went to put the sink back in and discovered the brass pipes conected the faucet were cracked, and that I had to replace the entire faucet as it was so old the pipes didn’t disconnect.

Now this discovered came last night at 9pm, so I ran to wal-mart and discovered they don’t really sell faucets, nothing that is going in my house anyways.

So the room is almost back together now. as in tonight.

The air vent is drying from being spray painted, and I am still trying to figure out how to hide the 1/2 inch drop above the sink, as the paint was a custom mix and we are OUT. and under that stupid vanity the front board snapped in half when I tied to replace our broken faucet in the tub (I can’t unscrew the old one to put a new one in)

So this is the room, almost done, but finally functional after nearly a week of having to go upstairs to use the restroom.

At least it’s done (nearly) unlike so many of the projects that I get into and find my self lost in stuff I know NOTHING about (not that I knew how to do any of this.

The Young Rich Ruler

Posted in Church on February 20, 2007 by Avery

Challenged yet?

Old Baby Wrap?

Posted in africa on February 19, 2007 by Avery


So your baby is all grown up and you have the wraps that you used to tie the kid to you side with, so what is it good for now?Well as my wife models here it makes quite the sexy little winter/fall wrap.

To be honest I didn’t have a clue what “baby wearing” was until a few months ago, we always used slings and what not to carry the kids around, but we didn’t know there was a group of people that had a marketing term for it. In fact when I first heard the term i wondered if it had something to Silence of the Lambs.

This sling was picked up in Ethipia when we escorted a baby back to the States. Now just a month to go until we get to do the trip to bring our own kids home.