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Saturday, August 30, 2014

The difference between "my boy" and "my son"...

“Caleb, did you know that you’re my boy?”

“Caleb your boy?”

“Yep, did you know that you’re daddy’s boy?”

“Yes.” He said with eye aglow.

I leaned in to kiss him while tucking his covers up tight around his neck.  As I turned and walked toward his door to turn out the light, he spoke again.

“And your son.”

I thought I might have misheard him.  So I turned back around and said, “What did you say?”

“…and your son.”

“That’s right, buddy, you’re my son.”

I don’t know why, but this statement coming from my 2-year old boy startled me.  He was making a distinction that I’ve been wrestling with from the day we adopted our boys from Ethiopia.

I don’t know why, but it’s much easier to say that they’re my boys than it is to say they’re my sons.  Even when I’m introducing my family to people I’ve noticed that I say, “I have three daughters and two boys.”  Something about the word “son” feels awkward to say aloud.  I feel bad saying that, but it’s the truth.

For some who adopt, the connection is immediate, the bond almost seamless.  Love flows freely, feelings run deep as though it were meant to be and always was all at the same time.  There isn’t a grafting into, there is almost an ordained spirit of oneness that permeates the relationship from the get-go.  I’ve seen it, I’ve read of it, I’ve prayed for it…but I haven’t experienced that, at least to the degree I’ve witnessed in others who have adopted.

It’s taken time to feel like their father, the way I feel like my girl’s father.  To hold them without knowing I’m holding them.  To kiss them without being aware that I’m kissing them.  To play with them without self-consciousness or restraint. 

I’m getting there, but in fits and starts.  There will be moments that I forget about our life without them and feel as though it’s not just the “new normal” but all we’ve every known.  These are truly beautiful moments.  But they aren’t as frequent as I wish they were.  I’m sure there will come a day when I don’t even think about it, but after over a year and a half, I’m still startled occasionally.

“and your son.”

How could my 2-year old sense my need to go to that place?  How could his jovial little spirit speak aloud such a clear delineation, such a much needed distinction? 

As I kissed him again and again stroking his hair and rubbing his arm I said to him again and again, “You’re my son, Caleb.  You aren’t just my boy, you’re my son.”

“Caleb your son?” he asked as he laid his head on my arm. 

“Yep.” I reply with misty eyes.

“Caleb your son.”

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Things I tell myself from time to time:

Things I tell myself:
1. You're not that big a deal, relax.
2. You've been here before, don't sweat it.
3. Remember everyone is fighting a personal battle, be gracious.
4. But for the grace of God, there go I.  If you think you stand, take heed, lest you fall.
5. This too shall pass, soldier on.  Get a good night's sleep and see what it feels like tomorrow.
6. Don't demand from others what you don't demand from yourself.
7. Don't demand from others what you do demand from yourself.
8. Be ok with slow growth, that's how all healthy things grow.
9. Things will be ok if you take a day off and do nothing, seriously.
10. Remember your last mistake, learn from it, then forget about it.
11. You don't know as much as you think you do, be humble.
12. You're not going to be liked by everyone, deal with it.
13. Do a few things well, rather that many things poorly.
14. Do not be deceived that pressure is the same as power.  They feel the same; they are not.
15. Listen more than you talk...listen way more than you talk.
16. When speaking to people, seek to make an impression rather than be impressive.
17. I all your getting, get friends that you can sit by a fire and laugh with.
18. Don't hide behind God, if you've got a problem, don't busy yourself with ministry.
19. Do all you can to foster congruency between your family and the rest of your life.  Fear duplicity.
20. Look for the good news everywhere you go.  It's there, it just isn't talked about as much.
21. Everyone has a glory inside them, draw it out patiently and celebrate it.
22. Don't be afraid to stand for something even if people don't like it, life's not a popularity contest.
23. Learn from criticism, don't run from it or dismiss it...take time to pan for the gold found therein.
24. Do hard things. It's the only antidote to not wasting your life.
25. Don't feel guilty when you relax and treat yourself to nice things.
26. Want what you have today more than you did yesterday.  You are blessed, remind yourself of that.
27. Share your blessings with those less fortunate.  You are blessed to be a blessing.
28. Interact with people, ideas, and books your disagree with.  Sharpen the saw of how you see life.
29. When your mind belches: "More, Better, Different, Faster." Say back: "Enough. That's enough."
30. Train your brain to not be a people-pleaser.  Please God and be done with it.
31. Constantly peruse your priorities and reorient your schedule around your core priorities.
32. Trust the truth.  Even when (especially when) the truth seems opposite of the currents of culture.
33. Commit to pray even when you get distracted. No matter how broken the prayer...pray.
34. Fight for the hearts of those you're leading.  Listen to them and celebrate them.
35. Don't succumb to pride.  You aren't as unique as you're trying so hard to be.
36. Make time for down time.  There is nothing that kills the soul faster than occupational constancy.
37. Trust your gut.  If you're instincts are says something isn't right, it probably isn't.  Back away.
38. Don't let negative and passive/aggressive people be in your inner circle.  They will eat you alive.
39. View sin seriously and aggressively. Practice radical amputation in regard to sin.
40. Seek to rid yourself of excessive accumulation that deadens the nerve endings of gratitude.
41. Love your God, Love your neighbor, Love your enemies...and so fulfill the law of Christ.
42. Smile as much as possible and aim that smile directly at the people around you.
43. Lead when life needs leadership, follow when there's already great leadership in place.
44. Listen with all your being.  Don't take your eyes off the person talking.  Lock in.
45. Don't listen or watch stuff that trains you to think humanistically.  Shut it off and consult God.
46. Don't bemoan the fact that people are watching you because you're a leader.  It's a privilege.
47. Don't forget to play and engage in mindless recreation.  Your heart needs to decompress.
48. Do all you do for the glory of God.  Anything less is humanism; anything more is legalism.
49. My success in ministry doesn't translate into success with God.  Ministry can be godless.
50. God, then my wife, then my children, then the church.  From there it's up for grabs.