Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The World of Adoption

I've realized that I touch a lot of families that have adopted children or are planning to adopt in the near future. All of these adoptions have occured with international agencies and I'm fascinated and intrigued at the process and labor of love they endure to adopt a child. Of the families I come in contact with, the countries they have adopted from, or will adopt from, are Russia, China, Taiwan, Ukraine, and Venezuala.

Recently one of my bosses just returned from a trip to China to adopt his second little girl from there - Sarah. The stories he shared were amazing. Little "Mei Mei" (her Chinese name) was left at the orphanage gate at 5 months old. In this orphanage, they begin to potty train the children soon after they can sit on a toilet. They proceed to tie them to the toilet so they know what it's for. At the age of two they begin to teach them to do laundry. If adoption doesn't occur, the life of these little ones get worse. Little Sarah was quick to cling to her Daddy because the male orphanage directors are the ones who play with them and the female "nannies" are the ones that tie them to the toilets. Needless to say, learning to love her Mommy is a bit of a challenge.

Sadly, the laws in the United States make it nearly impossible for an American to adopt children from this country. Every state has different laws, some of which give a biological mother up to a year to change her mind. And, now, even some of the international adoptions are being threatened. Some Russian adoptees have been violently abused by their American parents - enough to cause Russia to want to put a stop to it. The saddest part is that the adoption rate in Russia is so poor that their only hope is to be adopted internationally. If they aren't adopted, statistics show they grow up and enter Russia military, engage in prostitution or commit suicide.

I never thought a lot about adoption until I began to hear the stories and learn the process from others who have. I can't imagine anything sweeter than adopting a child who has no hope and been abandoned and loving them as my own. Big Kudos to couples who spend the time and money to give love and life to an otherwise hopeless child.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Murphy's Law of the Drive-Thru

A fellow blogger and great friend wrote about one of his driving pet peeves, the non-use of a turn signal. Well, one of my, probably only, driving pet peeves is the use (or mis-use) of drive-thrus. If you haven't read it lately, Murphy's Law of the Drive-Thru states: "Whatever line you choose will be the slowest line"

Drive-Thrus are everywhere - restaurants, banks, drugstores, even dry cleaners! But beyond getting stuck in the slowest line at the drive-thru, my pet peeve is about the people who mis-use the drive-thru. We live in a world full of self-absorbed people (Newsflash) and that is escalated in a drive-thru line. Two examples....

I went to a local McDonald's to get a milkshake to ease the pain of my toothache. This high-tech establishment not only had two windows, but two speakers. I got behind a mini-van - the kiss of death, a mini-van at McDonalds that will most likely order 25 happy meals. She pulled up to speaker 2 while speaker 1 was completely free. I thought, "Well, maybe there isn't instructions on how to use these speakers or the other one is out." Oh no, after she ordered her long list and moved on, I pulled up and saw a sign that says, "If there is no car at speaker 1, please move forward." It was all about her and didn't realize the 25 cars behind her were wanting to order as well.

Next, I head off to the drug store to pick up my medicine. I broke Murphy's Law by getting in the faster moving lane only to get slowed down by the huge SUV in front of me. Once she got her prescription she sat and repositioned everything in her car, checked her makeup and assorted other tasks before pulling forward so I could do my business. Very few drive-thrus force you to pull directly in traffic. When I'm done and I need to put away money, or get ready to drive on the road, I pull forward enough to let the line progress until I'm ready to motor on. Not her. And sadly, when I pulled to the window, the druggist had put up a sign "Please end all cell phone calls before pulling up to the window." It's a sad day when people are so rude we have to tell them to do that.

Obviously part of my frustrations came from the pain shooting through my gums at the time, but I really believe the world would be a better place, at the drive-thru and everywhere else, if we thought about our fellow man first and got our face out of the mirror. Contrary to the world's's not all about you.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Getting Checked Out at Wal-Mart

Feeling a little lonely? Looking for a great place to meet other singles? Well, looks like Wal-Mart has jumped on the matchmaking bandwagon. Wal-Marts in Germany are hosting "Single Shopping Nights" every Friday night from 6pm-8pm. The way it works is single people who come to shop during the "Single Shopping Hours" receive a cart donned with a bright red bow to indicate their singleness - no doubt given by a cheerful Wal-Mart greeter. Nothing like a bright red bow on your cart to draw a suitor.

To assist the more shy consumer, they've set up "flirting points" where they sell chocolate and other romantic gifts for someone to use as a doorway to introductions. (Like the "big red bow isn't enough??) They say it has been very successful and are testing it in other international markets. Maybe one day it will make its debut in the States.

I have pretty mixed emotions about the whole "singles night" at Wal-Mart. It definitely is a better venue than some alcohol-laden establishment. But, since most of the qualities I look for can't be revealed in the aisles of my local Wal-Mart, I'm not sure how successful I'd be at finding a match. I'm open enough to admit I've caught the eye of an unsuspecting male grocery shopper who I "check out" to see if he looks single. I do the normal ring scan, then check out his cart to see what he's purchasing. Trust me, I've never been forward enough to do more than smile and say hello.

Maybe I'll go to Wal-Mart, put a big red bow on my cart, and see if anyone notices. And, if they do, I'll quiz them on my other list of characteristics I look for in a mate. This could be a telling sign of why I'm still single....

Friday, July 22, 2005

Toothache Theology

I awoke early Thursday morning with a throbbing toothache. I've led a blessed life with only one cavity and all my teeth intact (including all 4 of my wisdom teeth). But this particular morning I experienced a pain I was afraid was coming. Around the first of July, a miniscule chip came off my upper left wisdom tooth. Minding my own business, not eating or chewing anything and poof, out it came. Well, my tooth didn't hurt or feel loose, so I thought I'd deal with it at my next check up. The gap that developed from that tiny chip was a gateway for disaster (and debris) and caused my tooth to get infected.

I've spent two days nursing a horrible toothache and ingesting penicillin and hydrocodone to eliminate the infection and cut the pain. I'm now scheduled for the tooth to be extracted next Thursday after the infection clears up so they can properly numb my mouth for the procedure. I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, but this toothache has really been a bear.

When I thought about that, I realized what a great comparison this is to my Christian walk. Sin creeps into the smallest crevices of my life to begin to tear me down. It may start by chipping away at a weak area in my life where it can get a hold of me and then, unattended to, it corrupts my life and I suffer the pain from that sin. What started out as such a little thing festers into something that torments me until it is removed.

I'm thankful that God forgives me when I sin. And unlike the hydrocondone that may ease the pain for a moment, Christ's love eases the pain forever. Hopefully when this tooth is gone next week, my pain will be short-lived. But it will always remind me that only God can forgive my sins, heal my hurts, and restore me to life in Him.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Flap About Flip Flops

The national champion women's lacrosse team from Northwestern University has caused quite a hubbub over this picture of their visit to the White House. At first glance of the picture it looks fine, but then if you peer down to the front row and their feet - flip flops. This made national news after Kate Darmody, one of the team members, got an email from her brother that stated, "YOU WORE FLIP FLOPS TO THE WHITE HOUSE?" The world is in a tither over this apparent fashion faux pas.

First of all, it never ceases to amaze me that we "gag at a gnat and swallow a camel" on these kinds of issues. I was raised by a father who, to this day, rarely attends church without a suit. Until I reached college, I thought shorts at church were reserved for Vacation Bible School. Although I've become more casual in my attire (I admit I wear flip flops to work because I can) I would most likely not have worn them to the White House. But my mouth hasn't dropped agape at the thought of these girls wearing them.

How is it that we never blink an eye at Paris Hilton using sex to sell burgers? Or Jessica Simpson donning her Daisy Dukes and strutting across the screen? Yet, a group of college women who won a national championship and got invited to the White House gets ridiculed for wearing flips flops. In looking at their attire, a majority of them are more conservatively dressed than their same age counterparts. But, shame on them for going over the line to wear revealing toe wear! People, have we missed the mark somewhere?

The team is auctioning off the flip flops Kate wore to help raise money for a young girl with a brain tumor - so good is coming of all the media hype.

Oh, and for the record, President Bush didn't say a thing. He probably didn't even notice. Chances are daughters Jenna and Barbara have traipsed around the White House in their flops. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

An Affinity for the Windy City

I watched "I, Robot" this weekend, thanks to my recent Blockbuster online membership mentioned in an earlier blog. It was an excellent movie and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys action, sci-fi, and a mystery thrown in for good measure. I noticed in this movie a pattern I've seen in a lot of movies - Chicago as the movie's location. It wasn't as evident in this movie, since it was set in 2035. The "Lake Michigan Landfill" sorta gave that away.

When I think about some of my all-time favorite movies, I realized a boat load of them are set in Chicago - My Best Friend's Wedding, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, While You Were Sleeping, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Then, add to the list TV shows - ER, St. Elsewhere, and Chicago Hope - all three medical shows set in Chicago. Although Chicago is a great city, why in the world is it such a popular setting for movies and tv shows?

New York and Los Angeles are both cities I'd expect to be settings for movies, but Chicago? What about Atlanta? Or Dallas? Or St Louis? Aren't any of these choices as high quality as Chicago? My best guess is that it's a centrally-located city in the US that has a diverse population and a beautiful skyline. Outside of that I don't know the intrigue of Chicago to movie makers. Maybe one day I'll be lamenting the use of Detroit as a movie setting and long for a movie set in Chicago....

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The World is Wild About Harry

Saturday July 16, the sixth book in the Harry Potter series, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" will debut. This entry will not discuss the pros, cons, debates or value of the books and their movie counterparts. I'm one of the few people in the world that hasn't read the books or seen the movies. So, my uninformed person won't comment on the moral Potter debate.

But, what I do want to note is what this book series has done for reading. Amazon reports that this pre-purchase release is the largest ever in their 10 year history. Children and adults alike are expecting their shipped book, or planning to stand in line to be one of the first to purchase the next installment. In a world full of fast-paced technology advancements, it warms my heart that our world is excited about the bound printed page again.

My love for reading started when I got my first Weekly Reader order form at school. I remember coming home and sitting down with my Mom to see what books to order. My Mom was an avid reader (she even painted a Seuss mural in my elementary school's library) and loved helping me make my reading choices. Every summer she'd take me to the local library to participate in the summer reading program there. I loved it, I couldn't get enough of it. And today, given my busy schedule, I don't pleasure read as much as I would like, but it still provides one of the greatest escapes to my imagination and vehicle for de-stressing.

As much of a technology lover that I am, you can't beat the rush you get from going to your local book store, grabbing a book off the shelf, cracking the spine, and inhaling the fragrance of a new story to soak in. If you can find nothing good to say about Harry Potter, he at least has conjured up the love of reading in the hearts of millions.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Top Five Rejected Summer Movies

5. Three Jennifers and an Angelina - The ongoing tale of Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Garner, Jennifer Anniston and Angelina Jolies's capers and antics with Hollywood favorites Ben Affleck and Brad Pitt. Soundtrack by P Diddy.

4. It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad War of the Worlds - Follow Tom Cruise as he travels the world proclaiming his offbeat scientology beliefs and professes his newfound love for Katie Holmes.

3. Bewitched - Oh, wait, that movie actually got released - oops!

2. Charlie and the Computer Factory - Join Charlie and other young engineer wannabes as they travel inside the wonderful world of Microsoft. Escorted by the eccentric Bill Gates, see how their love for technology will swallow them up in a never-ending devotion to the Microsoft way of life.

1. The Never Going to be a Princess Diaries - Peek inside the 30 + year journal of the latest addition to the royal family - Camilla Parker Bowles. She'll never be a queen or a princess, but see how she shamefully captured the heart of the not-so-dashing Prince Charles.

Friday, July 08, 2005

My Soapbox of Freedom

My holiday weekend was spent in the great state of Alabama near Ft. Benning Army base. Celebrating our American Day of Freedom near one of the largest military bases in the US was refreshing and reflective. Since 9/11, our 4th of July celebrations have had a bit more meaning, but in the last couple of years, we've went back to the status quo celebrations of fireworks, cookouts, and ho hum-ness.

My friends who live in Alabama are not active military, but are working in positions that support our troops at that base. As part of my visit, I attended a sweet little church that had a simple, yet moving worship service. One of their older members shared her testimony of the meaning of American citizenship. You see, she was born a Czech citizen. As this sweet lady shared her testimony I was reminded of my free birth into this country. Then, a chaplain from Ft. Benning shared his testimony of his service in Desert Storm and Afghanistan as he prepares to be deployed to Iraq in the very near future. Hearing these stories, being in a town where almost everyone is touched by the activities at Ft Benning, and realizing how blessed I am truly made me very thankful for the freedom I have.

It really made me a bit frustrated that we as Americans are chastising the war and President Bush's efforts to address terrorism. In the Ft Benning area, local television stations report the real feed from the front lines - and more positive than negative. Soldiers are fighting every second to protect us and provide freedom. More than 5 million children now attend school in Afgahnistan - 40 percent of those are women. We take for granted that our children, male and female, can go to school free of charge without barrier. There is good going on, but you gotta dig for a media outlet that will show it.

Thousands of young men and women are sacrificing their lives for my freedom - while I complain about high gas prices and not getting my food fast enough at the restaurant. We as Americans aren't having to sacrifice much at all - if anything. The recent bombings in London bring all the memories of 9/11 back - how quickly we forget that loss amidst our own selfish wants. How thankful I am that I have a country so free that I am allowed to blog my thoughts freely (literally and figuratively) at any moment of the day without censor. God Bless the USA.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

If You Could See What I See

As I traveled this past holiday weekend to the southern half of the States, I encountered quite a few folks who were visually impaired. Periodically I may see someone with their seeing-eye dog or walking stick, but I would guess that I saw more than 10 folks jetting through airports and walking the streets of the places I visited.

What struck me was their ease in navigating around their locations. Nothing stopped them, and they were fearless. Being a sighted person, except for the corrective contacts I have to wear, encountering airport chaos is something I don't relish when I travel. I can't imagine how much more hesitant I would be if I were visually impaired. I can get overly stressed about what I packed, did I forget something, will I make it to the gate on time, will there be a long line at security. I take for granted that I can see exactly where I'm going.

After observing these brave travelers, it caused me to reflect on a Scripture - 2 Corinithians 5:7, "For we walk by faith, not by sight." These folks can't see where they are going. They are relying on a walking stick, seeing-eye dog, or the arm of another person to guide them. Their trust and faith that these things will help get them to their destination is phenomenal. But, how much more phenomenal is our faith when we trust in a God who knows our every move. My Creator who formed me and knows my weaknesses and fears can lead me better than I can travel on my own. Oh how I long to be so trusting in my Lord so that the "blindness" of my future causes no fear. May I grab hold of the unseen Arm of God and allow Him to take me to the unknown places of blessing He has in store for me.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Hail to the Chief!

Happy Birthday, Dubya! George celebrates his 59th birthday today! Posted by Picasa