Category: books

adoption cont.

I just finished reading “There is No Me Without You” by Melissa Fay Greene. She tells the story of the Aids pandemic destroying Ethiopia. In America, where HIV is considered a chronic but manageable disease, we don’t think about it. We are protected from it’s devestating effects. And if we weren’t, well, we have the resources to fight it. I confess that prior to reading this story I had a self-righteous attitude towards those who were HIV positive. Somehow in my conservative white, middle class upbringing I latched onto the belief that those infected somehow deserved it. As Greene points out in the book, had the disease surfaced in a beautiful blue-eyed, blond-haired child rather than Haitian or gay men, it would have caused a very different reaction.

We live in a broken and dying world, and while disease is part of that, it is never the heart of our God that I condemn the hurting and the broken…or condemn sinners perishing in their sin. God judges, not me. For so long I lived without compassion. And I am sorry for that. Greene tells the story of an Ethiopian soldier who was separated from his wife for many years. During that time they were allowed once to go into town and…that is when he became infected, eventually returned home and infected his wife. Who am I to condemn or to judge this man? His story is a tragedy and breaks the heart of my God, as it should break mine.

And so adoption continues to stir in my heart as so many grow up without parents. I daydreamed about traveling to Ethiopia and coming home with a two year old little boy. I imagine rescuing him from the orphanage where he doesn’t have much, and giving him all the things he needs…food, clothing, shelter, access to immunizations and antibiotics. I will be his white knight. He will love me because I saved him. And now…while parts of that may still be true, I see the depth of tragedy…because by coming with me, this child will give up the last bit of what he had left after his mother and father passed away. He will come to America and cease to be Ethiopian. His identity will be completely altered. So while I may rescue him from certain things, I am also destroying certain things. The culture and the customs he will forever lose. And when he goes back, while he may resemble an Ethiopian, he won’t quite blend in anymore.

This doesn’t change my heart. I still want to bring him home. But I feel better prepared to interact with this child and mourn with him for all that he will be losing…and to allow him to mourn, however long it takes and whenever it comes as he grows up. Adoption isn’t something you ever get over.

And that said, I always thought of him as our adopted kid.

Monday I took Kyler to the pediatrician (60th% for height, 10th% for weight…super skinny girl!) and as I held her waiting for the doctor to come back in and give her the shots I thought about her brothers and sisters. I thought about my kids…and I missed them. All of them. They don’t have faces or names, and I’m not even sure how many there are…one…two…three…ten? But I long for them to be here with us, biological and adopted. The distinction has ceased to exist for me. I miss my kids.

pagan christianity

I’m not going to talk much about this book because it gave me a lot to think about. The authors asked the question, “Are the practices of the institutional church (the clergy/laity system, salaried pastors, sacred buildings, the order of worship, etc.) God-approved developments to the church that the New Testament envisions? Or are they an unhealthy departure from it?”(265) So that is what I am left to pray about. The church has been heavily influenced by the surrounding culture, all the way back to Constantine. The authors support that very well. But does that mean I need to uproot from the Austin Stone and join a house church?

I don’t know. However, I did learn two things.

The first is that Doug is on staff at our church. And honestly, because he’s on staff at a church he’s not making a lot of money. And that stresses me out. Every time he gets a raise or a bonus I get super excited and, I hate to say, a little greedy for the next one. After reading this book it just clicked that money that could be going to feed and clothe the poor, or to defend the orphan and widow, is instead allocated to our family. This realization killed my need for the “extra” resources so I could get a pedicure every month, or take the kids to Sea World this summer. It exposed my selfishness for what it was. I want the money that is given to the Stone to go to Austin and to the nations.

And the second thing is that I genuinely see the benefit of smaller house churches. In a church of 4,000-5,000 attenders I feel completely lost on Sundays. We’ve been a part of this church for five+ years and I still have yet to find a place where I can serve the body. I’ve dabbled in bits and pieces but there’s always someone else. So, in part, I’ve been able to be lazy because no one is counting on me to get it done. With so many people someone else will step in. And on the flip side when I try to get involved in certain areas there are so many people that I feel like I get over-looked. And I know this sounds individualistic, but my heart is to find some way to edify the body. And it’s been a long journey…we’re (as a church) taught to serve out of our giftedness but with so many people I feel like we’ve run out of room…

inkheart

Never heard anything about the book/movie until I saw a preview at a movie theater. I was intrigued. The idea of being able to bring characters to life out of a book is something I’ve dreamed of since I started reading. And I even wanted to become the characters. But after reading the book I’m not really impressed with the author’s adaptation of this idea. Maybe if I was 10 or so I would have enjoyed the story more, but it didn’t capture me.

One of the things that bothered me was that the book was written in the third person omniscient narrative. But most of the story was only presented through the eyes of Meggie (the 12 year old heroine), and at random moments we would get a glimpse into another character. I found this to be disruptive. It helped explain why the characters behaved in a certain manner, but overall I think it distracted more than it added to the story.

The plot itself was repetitive. If I could compare it to anything it would be Kim Bauer’s behavior in seasons 1 and 2 of 24. She made terrible decisions that landed her in even more trouble. It was hard to sympathize with her as a character because she did things that no sane person would do. This book felt the same: repetitive events that landed the heroes in trouble. The villains weren’t very crafty and didn’t need to be when their prey walked right into their hands.

However, I did read it quickly and it fit the mood for what I’m needing right now: light stories, comical with happy endings. Like Chuck: a little action, a little adventure, a little romance and overall entertaining, which explains why Doug and I are five weeks behind in our 24 watching.

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