Papers, Please!?

If you believe the hysteria in the press and the vitriol being displayed by liberals across the country, you’d think that the state of Arizona was now being controlled by the Nazi party. Unfortunately, as is often the case, this hysteria and vitriol are misplaced, much of it purposely so.

Opponents and race baiters are claiming that the police will now be able to just randomly stop any person who “doesn’t look right” and say something to the effect of “Papers, please!” Unfortunately for them, they’re either getting it mistakenly and completely wrong or they’re lying. The law doesn’t allow for that. It states that in order for someone to be questioned by the police about their immigration status, they must already be engaged in a “lawful contact”, i.e. the person has violated some other law already.

Much of the misplaced rage is directed towards the fact that you might be asked to show your “papers” at all. However, don’t police already have the legal right to ask you for your license, proof of insurance, etc.? Yes, if you’ve done nothing wrong, being asked for your “papers” is indeed a problem and a violation of civil rights. However, when you’re already suspected of a crime, that’s the usual course of the duties of a policeman. Should I now yell “Help, help. I’m being repressed!” the next time I get pulled over for a traffic violation?

President Obama has also chimed in the new law…

But now suddenly if you don’t have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you’re going to be harassed. That’s something that could potentially happen.

Umm…Sorry, Mr. President. That isn’t going to happen unless perhaps you’re robbing the store at the time.


Living a Better Story

This past Sunday, our pastor spoke about finding a better story, based on Donald Miller’s book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”. Miller has this to say about the main ingredients of a great story (this may not be a completely accurate quote but it gets the point across):

All the great stories have two primary elements: calling and conflict. Calling occurs when the character in the story is given something to live for. Conflict occurs when the character in the story is given something to fight against.

My pastor went on to say this (referencing 2nd Timothy 2:1-2):

What is the story that we’re giving to our families? Is it a story of risk and adventure or is it a story of boredom and safety? Which is it?

You see, like Timothy, what we have to do is not only be strong in the grace of Christ ourselves. Our children have to be strong in the grace of Christ as well. And the only way we can do that is to involve them in the story of Christ.

The risk spoken of here is not a blind or reckless risk. It’s a risk we as believers in Christ take to live the story that Jesus has written, trusting in a loving Savior for the outcome that he desires to see in us. It’s been said that where there is no risk, there is also no reward and I believe that to be true in the spiritual sense also. If I don’t take a risk, stepping out in faith and trusting God for the outcome, what reward is there? That reward, in this case, would be the boredom and safety that my pastor spoke about. The only thing is, I believe there doesn’t end up being much safety in that kind of a story. Boredom, yes, but its outcome isn’t security at all. Well, it’s security as we see it, the kind of security you get when you take no risks but also end up with no interesting story to tell and characters in that story living a stagnant faith that does no one any good at all.

Part of my family’s already written story includes our journey to adopt our daughter, a long distance journey to the eastern European country of Estonia. Previous to that, my wife and I had decided to become foster parents. We had two placements, one for just a day or so and another for two or three weeks. We then left for Estonia to take custody of our daughter and our foster parent license subsequently expired. Due to some of the circumstances surrounding our daughter’s issues, we didn’t really discuss adding to our family again until just recently.

Anyway, this leads us to the next chapter of my family’s story. We’ve decided to get re-certified as foster parents again, starting at the end of this month, with the intention of adopting an “unwanted” child into our home. This is something I’ve long been very passionate about. I’ve had a passion for working with children ever since becoming a Christian but seeing and hearing about orphaned, abused, neglected, or unwanted children has always made a real impact on me on a personal level that goes beyond just wanting to work with them. I don’t share this to shine some spotlight on me because God knows that I’m certainly no better than the next person. I share it in the hopes that it inspires someone else with a similar passion to find a story for their family as well.

So now our family has the essential elements we need for our story: a calling and a conflict. Our calling is to provide a loving and nurturing home for a child who otherwise would not have one. Our conflict is to fight against abandonment, neglect, and abuse. We’re involving our daughter in this story (and she’s excited about it, by the way). It’s a story that’s close to my heart and I hope someone else out there is inspired to live their own story because of it.

Disrupted Adoption: A Different and Personal Perspective

Adoption is something that is very close to God’s heart and it’s something that’s been close to mine since before we adopted our daughter in December 2004.

he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— (Eph 1:5)

Adoption is “in accordance with his pleasure”, according to this scripture. It pleases God when his children come to faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible also says that the angels in heaven rejoice when even just one sinner experiences the saving grace that is only offered through Jesus (Luke 15:10). In the same way, I believe God’s heart is also especially warmed when a family, some separated by miles and oceans, welcomes an orphaned child into their home.

Because of God’s great love, I also believe he is grieved whenever one of these earthly adoptions is disrupted. Knowing the infinite bounds of God’s love and my own limited, often skewed, understanding of it, my heart is also saddened when I hear about such things.

By now, most of you have heard about the 7-year old Russian boy adopted by a single mother in Tennessee, who was sent back to Russia on an airplane, all by himself by that same mother. I cannot imagine what went on in the mind of that poor boy as he boarded that airplane and rode all by himself back to his native land, not knowing what lay in store for him there. From the video footage I’ve seen, he looked very confused and stunned. My heart breaks even thinking about it. Here’s a boy, not even old enough to have experienced a full decade of life and he’s already gone through more than his fair share of horrible experiences that would probably cause most of us to withdraw from that life and give up on it.

Many of us are wondering what could be going on in the mind of the adoptive mother. Why would anyone ever do such a thing? Why sould someone adopt a child and then just return them like a rejected package? Why?

Let me be clear in this…I absolutely believe that what this woman did was flat-out wrong. When you adopt a child, they are yours in as morally and legally binding a sense as if the child was your natural-born son or daughter. However, I think many are jumping from a morally acceptable judgment of her actions to outright condemnation of her without knowing what her family has gone through. Unfortunately, my wife and I have a good amount of knowledge about and experience with what this mother has experienced.

Imagine how you would feel if you discovered that you could not have children of your own. Some of you reading this have experienced the heartache that comes with that discovery. That’s what happened to my wife and I. My wife more than I grieved over this unfortunate thing in our lives. Eventually, we decided we would try to adopt. It was a little difficult for my wife at first because she wanted so badly to be able to experience the natural course of bearing a child and raising him/her to adulthood.

Imagine how you would feel when you find a child waiting to be adopted and the euphoria you experience when your submitted paperwork is approved, dates are set, court proceedings are finalized, and the trip to where this child is waiting is planned out. Imagine how you would feel when you finally welcome this child into your arms and finally your home.

After all these intense emotions, you feel as if you’re finally ready to settle down to the daily tasks of raising this child, teaching them about life, and guiding them through all the things that other children experience. You want them and yourselves to live as normal a life as possible, despite the hardship they’ve endured to get to this point. Then imagine the utter heartbreak, despair, and feelings of helplessness as you begin to experience the sometimes uncontrollable rage that this child has built up inside their fragile little heart over the course of their short existence. All the hopes and dreams of a happy family that you had conjured up in your mind are suddenly dashed to the ground.

Here is part of the text of a letter that was sent with the boy, written by his adoptive mother…

This child is mentally unstable. He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues. I was lied to and misled by the Russian Orphanage workers and director regarding his mental stability and other issues. …

After giving my best to this child, I am sorry to say that for the safety of my family, friends, and myself, I no longer wish to parent this child.

From additional descriptions I’ve heard of this story, I gather that the boy has FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome). Without even going into the physical problems this can cause, there is also a host of psychological, behavioral, and emotional problems that result from it. We’ve experienced that with our daughter, i.e., several hour long temper tantrums, screaming at the top of the lungs, severe verbal abuse, hitting, kicking, biting, spitting, destruction of property, throwing of objects, etc.

We’ve undergone now years of counseling with various therapists. Sometimes it seems to be helping and other times, well, it just seems like nothing works except to weather the storm. We’re told to remain as calm as possible and to try to help her know that we understand her feelings, can relate to them, etc., and try to help her calm down. That’s all well and fine and we’re able to do that for the most part but imagine how short your fuse might be after hours, days, or even weeks of being worn down to an emotional nub. Imagine the dumb things you might feel like doing to this child because you’re simply ready to give up.

There have been times where our daughter has simply been so out of control that we just don’t know what to do. Many times, we’ve had to resort to therapeutic holds but, when you’re at the end of your own rope, not to mention your child being at the end of theirs, you simply don’t want to put yourself in the situation where you might overdo it and harm them or, more likely, you just don’t have the energy required to do it. In those cases, we try to separate ourselves from the situation by locking ourselves in the bedroom or something like that. The only problem with that is it doesn’t work. We’ve been in our bedroom trying to calm down and relax but our daughter is beating so hard on the door that it is literally separating from the frame by several inches. I’m still surprised that we still have the same door and that it hasn’t been torn off the hinges.

Let me relate a specific experience from early on with our daughter…Even at the very beginning, my daughter would rather spend time with me than anyone else, at the complete exclusion of my wife at times. Remember what I said about my wife grieving over not being able to have a natural-born child? You can imagine how she felt when she was rejected by our daughter for me. Anyway, I went back to work about a week after we returned from Europe. That first day, we thought it would be a good idea for them to come and have lunch with me. That all went fairly well and we enjoyed our lunch and time together.

However, I guess all hell broke loose on the car ride home. If I remember correctly, I got a call at work from my wife, saying that our daughter had screamed bloody murder all the way home. My wife couldn’t tell what she was saying but, through an interpreter, we discovered that she was yelling for her daddy and thinking that she would never see me again. Her little heart was breaking because all she had ever known was that people you care about don’t stay around. Anyway, my wife told me that our daughter was out of control and that I needed to come home right away. She had called the children’s pastor from our church at the time and she was able to come and help for a while as well.

I’ll never forget the look on my wife’s face when I got home. It looked like she had been in the fight of her life. She literally had scratches and bruises from nearly head to toe. She’d been spit on, head-butted, kicked, punched, scratched, etc., and even had snot purposely smeared on her in my daughter’s attempt to take out her anger on her. Though that was probably the worst outburst we witnessed, there have been many other similar experiences. Fortunately, they don’t happen as often anymore but we still have the occasional bump in the road. Anyway, due to the inordinate amount of abuse my wife experienced compare to what was directed at me, she sincerely wanted to send our daughter straight back to where she came from. It seemed like a hopeless situation.

I wish we had videotaped some of those episodes because I just don’t feel like my words are sufficient to describe the things that have happened and the pain and heartache we went through and still do go through on occasion. It’s frustrating sometimes trying to explain to people what it’s like. Unfortunately, you probably just can’t understand the despair and agony unless you go through it yourself and I certainly don’t wish that on anyone, including my worst enemies.

Somehow, we’ve managed to stick it out. We truly believe…No, we don’t believe. We KNOW for a fact that our sovereign Lord and God led us to the point where we made the decision to adopt our daughter. We knew, from discussing what little information we had of our daughter previous to the adoption, that she MIGHT have FAS or FAE (Fetal Alcohol Effects) but not how bad. We made the decision to go ahead with the adoption and we now don’t regret that. We’ve experienced many blessings that we would’ve missed out on had we not trusted God and followed His leading. We know he led us down this path for a reason. We still don’t know what that is but we try to trust Him with each step we take. I praise the name of Jesus that we’re His children because, if we weren’t, we likely would have given up long ago.

Part of that journey that God is guiding us on is continued counseling and therapy. We’ve seen many therapists, some of which we think helped and others that didn’t. The point is that we keep trying and don’t give up. I think that’s one of the big mistakes that this mother in Tennessee made. From what I’ve read, they didn’t go through any therapy. Love simply isn’t enough. Therapy is essential.

Medication is also often necessary. I wasn’t a proponent of medication at all prior to this. However, the right medication can enable a child with severe emotional trauma to be able to control themselves and give them the space to heal. Without therapy and medication (if the therapists and psychologists believe it’s necessary in the child’s case), you’re simply not likely to be successful. In some extreme cases, residential treatment is necessary and that’s something we’ve previously considered as well.

The major problem is that adoptive parents typically are not given a whole lot of information on these kids as far as their medical issues but especially their psychological issues. It’s certainly not an exact science, though, and many of these kids may not exhibit any of these emotional problems until they are in a safe environment. One of the things we’ve learned through this whole process is that a lot of the problems come when our daughter feels the safest. That sounds like a paradox but think about that. These children are not used to feeling safe and secure. They are strong to have survived the immense hurt they’ve endured but when confronted with safety and security, they often don’t know how to react. Some react by withdrawing, seeming cold and distant. Others like this little boy and our daughter, strike out in defiance and anger, often hurting those who care for them. Don’t get me wrong. Even though they may hurt the ones they love, their intention is not to hurt them. They may feel strong remorse despite the strong feelings and the difficulty they have controlling them. In the cases where FAS/FAE come into play, those children often, because of brain damage, have difficulty transitioning from their emotional state to a more rational state. I’ve heard it called “sticky brain syndrome”. When they get this way, they lash out in an attempt to cause their loved ones to experience the same rage and out-of-control emotions that they do. This is the way they gain some semblance of control in their tattered and torn-up world.

All that is to say that sometimes the orphanages these kids come from don’t know the full extent of the problems they have or will have. That being said, it too often happens that they don’t fully reveal all the issues that they do know about. For instance, some of the paperwork we received about our daughter said that she “didn’t like it” when she was told she couldn’t do something. We were told, as punishment, that she was made to do dishes or something to that effect. We weren’t told that she would fly into a rage and destroy things. Though I’m sure, as I explained above, that we experience that on a more regular basis than the workers at the orphanage did, I’m sure it had to have happened enough there that they were aware of how out of control she could get.

Many of these children also have RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder). Even without problems like FAS, they often  have severe psychological problems. Parents often aren’t prepared to handle these issues, which can be things like setting fires, harming pets, self-mutilation, and a whole host of other difficult behaviors.

What this boils down to is that we need to be aware that, when we see parents of adopted children struggling with their kids’ behaviors, it isn’t necessarily something the parents are doing or not doing correctly. Parenting hurt children is completely different than parenting a normal child. What works with most children often won’t work at all with a hurt child and many times will have the exact opposite effect. I know many of us often think when we see parents with unruly children out in public something to the effect of “Those kids just need a good spanking”. I used to think that way. Now I usually think twice before I get an attitude like that because I know I’ve been exactly where they are.

Again, what this lady did with her child was wrong. That little boy is going to be even more emotionally damaged from what he’s gone through. But also be aware of the personal hell that this lady was going through dealing with all the issues that little boy probably had. I can sympathize with where she was and what was going on in her head. I can’t imagine following through with her actions but I am certainly sympathetic.

I hope despite this long-winded post that I was able to help some of you understand at least a little of what parents in disrupted adoptions or those going through some severe problems are experiencing.

Now I’ve got more important things to do…Like watching a completely annoying movie like “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” while my daughter sits next to me, giggles uncontrollably, and eats her popcorn. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Tea Party Crashers

I’ve not written about the Tea Party movement on this blog before, the reason being that I really cannot stand political protests, gatherings, etc. I suppose I tend to consider myself to be an independent thinker and these types of movements strike me as completely opposite that. I don’t like groupthink or anything I perceive as a mob mentality. Even though I know of intelligent, decent people who are part of the tea party movement, I’ve just never been able to get behind it because of this.

However, the more criticism I hear of the “Teabaggers” and the downright mean-spirited insults hurled in their direction, the more I’m thinking they probably have it right. That and probably a good dose of spite is changing my attitude towards these folks.

In the last few weeks, hearing all the criticisms coming mostly from the leftist myrmidons in this country, I began wondering if perhaps a good portion of the claims of racism in the Tea Party ranks might be coming from those who’ve wormed their way into it in order to destroy it from within. I pretty much dismissed those thoughts right away, thinking something along the lines of “Nah, that’s just too conspiratorial” or “No one’s really that big a loser, are they?”

Well, those thoughts were confirmed when I read an article about Tea Party foes who planned to do just that, i.e. infiltrate the group. Opponents of the Tea Party are apparently planning or have already planned to try dismantling the group from within by making its members appear racist, homophobic, and moronic. This group of folks is actually organized by Jason Levin, creator of Levin says the group has 65 leaders in major cities around the country and are recruiting members for the April 15th Tea Party tax rallies.

Every time we have someone on camera saying that Barack Obama isn’t an American citizen, we want someone sitting next to him saying, ‘That’s right, he’s an alien from outer space!'”

Do I think every member of the tea party is a homophobe, racist or a moron? No, absolutely not. Do I think most of them are homophobes, racists or morons? Absolutely.”

Levin says that they want to dismantle the Tea Party by nonviolent means. I suppose that’s good that there’s SOMETHING they consider below themselves but is that really something to be proud of when you’re still engaging in immoral behavior, which is basically lying about and slandering a large group of patriotic American citizens?

This makes you wonder what the Tea Party foes really fear. You’d think if they were confident of their own beliefs and message that those things would be able to stand on their own merit. But that’s rarely the case when so much energy and time is expended to demonize, diminish, and destroy something like the Tea Party movement. I agree with Bob MacGuffie, a Connecticut organizer for Right Principles, when he says “They can’t actually debate our message and that’s their problem”.

Judy Pepenella, co-coordinator for the New York State Tea party says…

We’ve been ignored, we’ve been ridiculed. Well, now they’re coming after us. Gandhi’s quote is one we understand: ‘First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.’

Big spenders, those in favor of government expansion, and those who ignore the Constitution better take notice. The “Teabaggers” aren’t going anywhere anytime soon and your jobs are at stake. You’d be well-served to pay heed and put down the crack pipe of power and prestige that you’ve been smoking on the job.

From the Non-Fiction Section…

Sometimes you just can’t make stuff like this up…

Canada’s Lisa Murphy has come up with a novel idea…A pornographic book for the blind. Yes, those lustful sight-challenged individuals apparently just can’t get along without some additional assistance.

The book, called “Tactile Minds”, has been designed to be “enjoyed” by the blind and visually impaired. It includes 17 RAISED images, including a naked woman in a ‘disco pose’ and also a ‘male love robot’.

Ms. Murphy was apparently motivated to action because of the dire need to explore this uncharted wilderness:

There are no books of tactile pictures of nudes for adults…We’re breaking new ground. Playboy has an edition with Braille wording, but there are no pictures.

The blind have been left out in a culture saturated with sexual images.

The book can be purchased for approximately $225, so it’s apparently priced for those blind AND hormonally-charged individuals with a bit of cash to spare.

Brit Feline Goes Postal

Mailmen here in the United States sometimes have to deal with unruly dogs who don’t take well to postal workers. It’s one of the hazards of the profession and those dedicated workers sometimes are even unable to deliver the mail to certain residences if the cantankerous canines put up enough of a fuss. Perhaps some of our postal workers’ foreign brethren aren’t made up of as hardy a stock, though. Either that or English felines have usurped the traditional role of man’s best friend…or postal worker’s worst enemy.

Case in point…Nineteen-year old Tiger. This four-legged geriatric furball has apparently made an enemy of the local “posties” (as they’re sometimes called in jolly old England), so much so that they’ve boycotted the home of owner Tracy Brayshaw. Mrs. Brayshaw says the moody mouser sleeps about twenty hours a day but is often ready to rumble when mail arrives.

Mrs. Brayshaw said…

There have been three incidents where Tiger’s jumped through the cat flap and is said to have scratched a postie, so they’ve decided to suspend our post.

Mrs. Brayshaw’s 17-year old daughter, Amy, claims the criminal cat is mostly harmless…

Tiger sleeps, he drools when he sleeps and he likes climbing trees, but in the space of three weeks we’ve had our post banned because he has attacked the postman.

Apparently he attacked one postman on the leg and on the arm and chased him down the garden path.He is very territorial but he’s just an average cat really. We are all saying it’s health and safety gone mad.

He wakes up in the middle of the night meowing because he just wants some attention. He’s not a monster.

The Royal Mail has released an official statement on the matter:

We are sorry for the inconvenience to Mrs Brayshaw and, as we want to resume delivery of mail to her address as quickly as possible, we’re trying to agree a way to do this and avoid our employees suffering further nasty injuries, as has happened three times already.

At press time, it was unclear whether Tiger planned on releasing a statement or holding a press conference as it might interrupt his napping schedule.

American canines are reportedly ashamed that their British counterparts have apparently given up on a long-held tradition of mailman mayhem.

In unrelated news, sales of the Snuggy for Dogs have reportedly gone on the upswing in Great Britain…

Revisiting… A Good Friday Message

This is a post I wrote on Good Friday of last year. I hope it blesses your Easter weekend.


Good Friday?  I’m sure many non-Christians wonder what’s so good about an innocent person being put to death.  On the other hand, many who rarely darken the door of a church will probably go to an Easter service this Sunday, barely or not at all having thought about what happened on that famous cross nearly 2000 years ago.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad those people will be there.  Some may not get anything out of it other than a backside that’s fallen asleep whilst sitting in a hard wooden pew (or perhaps even cushioned…).  God will honor his word and the Bible says that it will not return to him void:

“so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:11

All around the world this weekend, people will hear about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I know many skeptics will claim that it never happened, that Jesus was only a good man or teacher and that his followers were so distraught over his death that they made up the whole story to give themselves and others hope.  However, it really did happen.  Jesus actually literally did rise from the dead after three days.  He kept his words, the words that he spoke to his followers that he would indeed rise from the dead after being killed.  His word did not return to him empty.

Even today, His word does not return to him empty.  Today, in various Good Friday services around the world, many will hear about Christ’s betrayal, suffering, and crucifixion.  It is the crux of all history.

I praise God for the salvation that I have through Jesus Christ and hope and pray that many more experience it for themselves.

In closing, I’d like to share a video and the lyrics to a song titled “Maker of the Universe” by Phil Keaggy.

The Maker of the universe
As Man for man was made a curse
The claims of Law which He had made
Unto the uttermost He paid
His holy fingers made the bough
Which grew the thorns that crowned His brow
The nails that pierced His hands were mined
In secret places He designed

He made the forest whence there sprung
The tree on which His body hung
He died upon a cross of wood
Yet made the hill on which it stood
The sky that darkened o’er His head
By Him above the earth was spread
The sun that hid from Him its face
By His decree was poised in space

The spear which spilled His precious blood
Was tempered in the fires of God
The grave in which His form was laid
Was hewn in rocks His hands had made

The throne on which He now appears
Was His from everlasting years
But a new glory crowns His brow
And every knee to Him shall bow