Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful for Doro Wat

Doro what? Nope Doro Wat. It's this incredible Ethiopian spicy chicken dish. There's a faint similarity to the Mexican dish Mole. Doro Wat is kind of soupy, but really a main course! You eat it not with utensils but with injera - kind of a sour pancake that perfectly harmonizes with the tear producing entree. How clear was that description?

Anyway, it's easy to title any blog "thankful" this week for obvious reasons. It's extra special for us. 365 days ago (and just before first trying Doro Wat) we met our favorite Ethiopian: Elias. He's been with us a whole year. How quickly time has passed. Three short moves ago (Ethiopia to CA to TX to WA) we picked him up for the first time: chubby, googley eyes, bald, and beautiful brown skin. He was heavy then to pick up and even harder to lift now, already eating us out of house and home. His smile is unmatched - except for his sisters' smiles. His laugh and screech unequaled. His temper at times uncontrollable. His hugs unfathomable to a parent not fully his.

"Uh oh" you may say. Don't get me wrong: he's mine, all mine (okay his mom's too). But as an adopted child I know that some day he will have to wrestle with loss. Though his birth-mom couldn't care for him, Elias may someday be saddened at her decision. It breaks my heart already, especially since this is a special child. But he has to know that we're all adopted. He belongs not to us, but to God. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, there is a concept that conveys the fact that He wants to adopt all of us. Adopted - we are chosen. The God of the universe chooses us for relationship. This is love.

How amazed we were last night to celebrate Gotcha Day - his one year anniversary with us, the ones who chose him. We went to an Ethiopian restaurant in Seattle called Lalibela. The smells of injera, doro wat, and beef tibs was intoxicating. A flood of memories of that wonderful day resurfaced. In conversing with an Ethiopian man, Jana found out the full meaning of his given name, Abinet, which means "example" as in "a Godly example to others." Wow! Is that incredible? To me it is. I do truly hope and pray daily that his name will be prophetic. That his imperfect, doting father will do just enough to translate God's love for Elias in my words and actions. That though he was adopted, he is just as loved as my parents love me.
But "an example" he has already been. Though we hear the occasional "good for you" approval for our politically correct 2009 international adoption (though not covered in People Magazine), we realize more and more each day that it's never been about that. We have been blessed more than we have given. "An Example" of God's love for us he is. "An Example" of the simplicity of life he is. "An Example" of unconditional love he is. My hope is to return the example to him.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


What technological change have you witnessed in your lifetime? I remember telephones when they were big and clumsy and the only answering machines were mom or dad. Or that computer my friend Andrew got in 7th grade – a Commodore 64. Now that was cool!

The past 2 days at PLCC, we’ve been without email or internet. We can’t even access our email from off-site locations. It has caused a medley of groans and the need to rethink how we work. It’s incredible how I rely so much on technology – specifically the computer. I had to take my truck to get repaired, didn’t have a phone book and couldn’t find the directions online – what to do? I’ve got multiple messages to send to Sunday school teachers about Sunday’s events – communication is impossible! What am I supposed to do, call people on the phone? That’s so 3 years ago. Without email I’m forced to rethink how I operate.

Have you ever been forced to reboot: your computer crashes; your cell phone gets dropped in the toilet? What about a serious event like a serious car accident? How about cancer? Though we depend on technology, health, safety, none are guarantees. Working at a church you are exposed to people who need rebooting all the time. People suffer from disease, broken relationships, addictions, and loneliness. It is at these moments when people are forced to reboot. Life has crashed though this wasn’t the plan. It is a reminder that as much as I try, I am not in control.

There are benefits to crashing computers and suffering – perspective. Life becomes simple: some things I thought I needed, I really don’t. The extraneous is weeded out. As a person of faith I believe the only real hope is Jesus. Though I’m ignorant in saving my computer from viruses or my cell phone from dangerous bodies of water, as a pastor I am fortunate enough to walk with people who are rebooting their lives. I don’t have all the answers and I never make false promises. Like tech support I get to talk with people about their losses and frustrations. It helps me empathize and reminds me of what’s really important in life. What rebooting stories do you have?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Beauty within the Busyness

Beauty within the Busyness

What is your definition of busy? I think we all see it differently. Remember college? You held a job at the local pizza joint, took 19 credits, were dating someone special, and still had time for the intra-mural water polo team. That was busy…until you got a job where you couldn’t wear flip flops anymore, then got married, then bought a house, and then had a family.

Earlier this year, I was a stay at home dad who could barely dress out of his pajamas by noon. How could this be? Make coffee, clean up coffee, get junior out of bed, change the world’s most offensive diaper, give hugs (had to wait until after diaper change to ensure not transferring the leaky diaper to my own outfit), make breakfast, throw in a load of laundry, clean up breakfast, drive the 1st grader to school, pick up kids’ rooms, mop beautiful dark hardwood floor (that exposed every granule of dirt), get kids dressed, throw laundry into dryer, start second load, supervise kids playing in the backyard, remove kids’ clothing soiled with mud, redress children, pay bills online while kids watch Word Girl (very funny cartoon), get lunch ready, fold first load, put second load into dryer (which will be forgotten and sour by this time tomorrow), then clean up the remnants of lunch: peanut butter, jelly, banana, and milk all over the table and chairs, then rinse kids’ hair adorned with peanut butter, jelly, banana, and milk.

Fast forward a few months. I have a fulltime job (like that wasn’t a job) and when I come home at the end of a day of meetings, prayer, coffee, data entry, and conversations I get great big hugs. Then we eat, give the kids a bath, and when the last bedtime story is read, Jana appears to have been swallowed by the couch. I inquire, “Why are you so tired, dear?” Just as the words are coming out of my mouth, I get a deserved “are you an idiot” stare and in a nanosecond I remember my summer. A quick “just kidding honey” does the trick. Boy, can I think on my feet!

It is difficult to admit at times, but I’m sure thankful for the near bedlam that is raising three small children. Though each day can resemble the previous day, I try to remember the blessings within the monotony: I have kids (because some can’t), my kids are healthy (because some aren’t), I have a job (because many don’t), my kids took baths (because some kids don’t have a home), Jana does endless laundry (because we can afford clothes). In our infrequent dates (because we are busy and visiting Grandma doesn’t charge for babysitting) we can’t but help reminisce over the blessings we have. Despite the peanut butter in the hair, snot on our newly washed shirts, and incessant screaming in the car…God is good and our kids are priceless. There is beauty within the busyness.