Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Let It Snow!

Lifelong beach bums don’t often have the chance at a white Christmas. Since Jana and I had to readjust our weather gauges a bit (50 is cold and 80 is hot) growing up in California beach towns, we look forward to a few payoffs…like snow on Christmas day, without a 3 hour drive.

The past 2 weeks in Seattle were COLD. (Note to Minnesotans: approximately your Spring Break weather.) 17 degrees at 9AM heading for work and mid 30s for the high. My skin has been dry and cracked like one of those Death Valley floor photos. We rooted for a little moisture during this cold snap because it would mean snow. Of course the cloud cover is somewhat of an insulator, bringing the temps into the 40s. So here we were – December in Seattle and 2 weeks without rain. Finally, Sunday night it happened. A couple hours of snowflakes. I was pushing the younger two kids in the baby jogger when it began. Later that evening we got the girls out of bed when the street was covered with snow. But within minutes it began to rain, melting it all away.

Talking about the weather is actually something I love. It’s a good conversation starter and I think in my next life, metaphorically speaking (not trying to compromise theologically), I’d be a weathercaster – I just love watching the Weather Channel. Anyway, it’s funny how people I talked with spoke about the potential snow with such disdain and fear. Yeah, I wasn’t here last year when it shut down the city for a week and helped the mayor lose his bid at reelection I’m told, but come on – snow is cool.

With all apologies to those who live in the snow, own snow shovels, and maybe even a snow blower, I’d love a white Christmas (or just a snowy day). It’s one of life’s simple pleasures. One of God’s miracles. Not only am I awed by snow, but I love watching my kids react too. They talk about it constantly and they can’t wait ‘til we pack up the car, drive 40 miles east and actually go play in it this winter. Knowing how those in colder climates often despise it, I wonder what I swear off as an annoyance or take for granted that someone who lives elsewhere craves: the Phoenix businesswoman in July who yearns for Seattle’s rain; the Kansas college student who’d love to see my Pacific Ocean; the Florida surfer who wonders how people on the West Coast live without humidity; the teacher in Southern California who’d love to exchange a few sunny days for the greenery of the Northwest.

Though I’m jealous of Arizona’s golfing winters (someday I’m gonna be a snowbird), with each passing day I become more appreciative of what I have that I didn’t for a little while. The rain isn’t so bad – it sure beats weekly blizzards. 40 degree weather isn’t so bad – running by the lake at 20 something degrees was a bit tough. “The daily grind” isn’t so bad – that guy I met last week was just laid off just in time for Christmas. Yep, I’m gonna appreciate the little things.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

She Gets It!

It was a day not easy to forget. Hopefully the beginning - not the last. It's partly why we came here - and it worked.
Our church's youth group goes to downtown Seattle once a month to serve the homeless. It's part of the sad reality of city life. Having previously lived in a remote, smaller town, it was much more difficult to find this type of suffering (though it's everywhere). But in the big city, it's in your face: people asking for money on the freeway offramps, men lined up to find work near Home Depot, women with tattered clothing sleeping on park benches.
From very early on I realized my sins of greed and selfishness have been passed on to my kids. Whether it's an "I want" campaign in every shopping aisle at Target or an "I deserve" attitude during the Christmas season. I don't speak as an expert or a holier than thou pastor - I share that very indifference to the poor too often.
So last Sunday came the opportunity to continue chipping away at that gross veneer we share. Meris (1st grade) and I joined the high school students and a few families on their monthly excursion of service. We passed out socks and granola bars to a few grateful men, then we headed to a "soup kitchen" that serves the homeless daily. I stood behind my brave and newly confident 7 year old who offered dinner rolls to about 300 people. They came up one by one while I asked, "How are you doing?" (Duh, stupid question but seemingly the right one) and intensely studied each face. Young, old, weathered, sad, hopeful, vacant - the whole gamut. I could be just one job loss or different childhood from sharing their current plight.
The pinnacle moment for me was to watch the proverbial lightbulb turn on. In the midst of our abundance (she's knowingly getting her first $95 American Girl Doll for Christmas), she grasps poverty in her hometown. As she eagerly awaits opening up her "Kit" doll in a few weeks (Kit is a fictitious girl who lives during the Great Depression and a kids' movie which boldly depicts hunger and poverty in the 30s features Kit as its main character.) She turns to me and says, "I'm serving bread to people who need food - just like Kit." A powerful, emotional moment which jolted me like a current of electricity. As she humbly resumed passing out bread, in a nanosecond I realize: she gets it, our move was worth it, and I'm so proud of her.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Date Night

So we finally had a date night! They’ve been few and far between the past year: three small kids, adoption attachment concerns, and joblessness yielding no spending money. So we found a babysitter – she’s too good to be true (so we won’t share her phone number J). We drove to the fancy mall 20 minutes away and found an open table at the 4th restaurant we walked into. No rice to pick off my clothes, no half-chewed Splenda packets to retrieve from the grips of tiny hands, and the only interruptions to our free-flowing conversations…“Would you like a refill?”

Since dinner didn’t last two hours and since neither of us had gigantic milk stains all over our pants requiring immediate laundering, we were free to go to the movies. Do you go to the movies? Are you like us these days – 2 movies in the theaters per year? So even though there wasn’t a blockbuster out – besides Twilight (which Jana has already seen – but that’s another post), we saw “The Blind Side.” From the moment I first saw that movie previewed months ago, I knew I wanted to avoid it.

Why you ask? Yes it’s a football movie my wife was willing to go to, but the central topic was adoption. Given the circumstances that were evident from the 30 second television preview, I knew it would get ugly. That’s right – crying. Most guys panic around criers, if not downright fear them. How am I supposed to put up with all that blubbering? The movie wasn’t 15 seconds old when the waterworks began. This high school kid is essentially homeless: cry. His mom isn’t capable of loving him: more tears. A “have it all together” family is turned upside down as it changes for the better: boohoo. Skipping to the end, because this blog is only so long, the end credits show the resulting photos (I won’t spoil the movie for you): waaaaaaaaah.

As the credits finish rolling, Jana looks at me and says, “Oh, honey. You’re so cute when you cry.” So I get a bit emotional about adoption, but of course you know that given last week’s entry.