Compassion

There’s a young lady waiting for her coffee.  She’s dressed in frumpy jeans with glittery sandals, pacing the floor and chewing her lip.  She has friends, but they’re all too busy to join here. She steals a glance around the room, making sure she fits in before tucking a thin strand of hair behind her ear. When I look over, her eyes immediately drop, studying the floor as she waits.

Who is this girl and why do I see her with an aching heart?

This happens to me now and then.  Sometimes I’m sitting at a restaurant or walking down the aisle in a grocery store when suddenly I am seeing through my heart. The innocence of a little boy holding his father’s hand…the loneliness of an old woman eating alone…the insecurity of a teenager at Starbucks…each soul magnified and all I want is for them to be loved and to know that everything will be aright.

I don’t understand why this happens.  For all I know, these people are perfectly content with their lives.  Perhaps God is teaching me how to look through a different lens?

Or maybe I’m just nuts…

Whatever the reason, this experience always conjures similar questions: Have I shown enough compassion?  Do I know what it means to love?  Do I see this child, eating fries, looking up at her mother, as a part of me?

 

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Yeah….I’m nuts.

Some of my clients impact me this way.  I can’t say why, but these folks cut through my inner shields and defenses. One such person is Dave, a patient of mine who suffers from severe intention tremors.  Dave is in his fifties and can barely control his arms during daily activities. All this guy wants is to provide for his family, yet his disability makes it impossible.  As a therapist, I’m supposed to be the rock….the support….the professional…but Dave’s story strips that all away, exposing my innermost fears and emotions.

Why does this man’s life touch me so much?  Is it because his little girl is my daughter’s age? Is it the fact that he thanks me despite my failings as a therapist? Is it because he treats me like a long-lost friend?  What is God trying to say through these emotive experiences?

You could say God is pushing us a certain way…trying to fan the spark that lies buried inside our mortality.

Maybe.

 

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But wouldn’t it be a lot easier if He just told us?

 

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No….I don’t want something written before I was born…something that is subject to interpretation.  I want a clear voice…telling me what to do next.

 

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Is that too much to ask?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LID

One day after my last entry, Reece received this in her hotmail inbox:
 
Congratulations!  Your dossier has been logged in by the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption!
 
Your official dossier log-in date (LID) is: 04/04/2014
 
So…we officially are logged in.  Usually this step takes a few weeks but our paperwork was on “fast track” for some reason.  It’s a huge step (HUGE with a silent “H”) and  now the question becomes, “when can we meet our little girl?” I’ve heard the match times can vary from a few days to six months…so I’m trying to keep everything in perspective.  The main thing is, we’ve passed a major hurdle and now head for the finish line. WOW!
 
My nephew, award winning photographer David Hamburg,  finally got the pics of our silent auction http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/local/montgomery/2014/03/11/montgomery-honors-top-photographers/6285865/ )
 
 
Here are some moments from that wonderful night…. 
 
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The Sisters of the Transfiguration talk politics with mom…
 
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Connie makes the best cakes around…
 
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Mike, Laura and Nick pick a winner…
 
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Scott Baker wins “Split the Pot” then decides to give it all back…
 
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 Lori Hemmelgarn’s unbelievable cookies…
 
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 Wonderful ending to an unforgetable evening with friends and family….

Closer

 

We’ve had a flurry of exciting emails lately—-

 

Bill & Theresa,

Congratulations!!! We received your package today AND we completed the critical review of your dossier! Everything looks fantastic! Job well done! J Your dossier has now been moved to translation and will be mailed to China within a few days! We will notify you via email once your dossier has been mailed, once it’s received in China, and once it is logged-in at the CCCWA.

 

 Then there was this—- 

 

CONGRATULATIONS, Bill & Theresa,

Here’s the news you’ve long been waiting for—your dossier was sent to China today (3/28/2014)!  Hooray!  J

Here’s what to expect for the next month:

The CCCWA will receive your dossier in approximately 3-5 business days. Our China Department will contact you by email once your dossier has been received by our representatives in China and hand-delivered to the CCCWA.

The CCCWA usually logs in dossiers within 3 weeks of their receipt.  This Log-In Date is called your LID, the date that you may “count down” to your referral.  We will e-mail you as soon as we have confirmation of your LID and will then give you instructions on how to download your LID Packet. Your LID will also be posted on your “My Adoption” page of the CCAI website the instant we are notified of it.

Now that you’ve reached this huge milestone, the ladies in the Child Match Department will be monitoring your file and contacting you with regards to any required updates and/or information that’s needed between now and when you receive your match. 

  

 And finally—- (don’t know why I can’t change the font…)

 

Congratulations!  Your dossier has been delivered to the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) on March 31, 2014. 

 
We will notify you by email as soon as we receive your official log-in date (LID) from CCCWA, and then you will be prompted to go to the CCAI website to download Dossier Log-In Date Packet.  This will occur within approximately 3 weeks from now.  Please notice that this wait time can vary due to CCCWA’s LID processing speed.  
 
 
So now we wait for our LID…
joy shatter
 

Unworthy

As I remenisce the wondferful silent auction evening, I keep thinking to myself…

I am not worthy.  

I say “I’m not worthy” not to play the martyr, but to show how blessed I am.  We all want to help eachother…it’s in us.  When we allow that part of us to shine, God takes over and miracles happen.  I see this fundraising experience as a miracle because out of an idea…one idea…people joined to support someone in need.  Most of the guests were friends and family–but some didn’t know us from a man on the moon.  What an incredible thing!  That’s why I say “I am not worthy.”  Who is worthy of such outpouring kindness? 

The night went perfectly. The weather, turnout, EVERYTHING went like clockwork.  My mother and wife are mostly responsible.  When you put heaping amounts of time and energy into something, good things happen.  But even the most meticulously planned events have issues.  Not ours.  It was as though God took care of all the variables. There was a good mix of old and new friends, family and relatives. My Godfather who lives in Naples, Florida came as well as friends I hadn’t seen in years. I was especially touched by the Sisters of the Transfiguration who showed their support and provided insight into the adoption process. 

http://www.ctsisters.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=47&Itemid=53

As one guest put it—”if nuns show up then you know it (the party) is meant to be.”  I had to laugh because I couldn’t agree more.

All told, about 100 people showed up–the cream of the crop. I say that because many of them (the majority) stayed till the end.  Out of 70 items offered, only five remained when the bidding stopped. 

(My hypnosis treatment was one of them.  I guess the thought of Billy boy putting someone in a trance freaked out the masses)

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65 out of 70 items sold! That’s amazing considering only a third of the people showed and that’s why I say “cream of the crop.”  Had all 300 invitees attended, the outcome would be the same.  Not to get all biblical on you, but it put me in mind of Jesus dividing the bread and fish. We had a huge hall fit for 300 guests, yet it never felt empty. 

I can only recall one other time in my life (at my wedding) when I was so full of spirit/support/love.  But this night was better.     At the wedding, the enormity of the event swallowed me up and I retreated from the crowd instead of embracing them.  This party was altogether different and I’m blessed to have been part of it.

Thanks everyone for supporting our journey! (There will be pictures of the night as soon as my nephew emails them to me)

I-797

Our I-797 form is here!  For anyone who does not know, this is “the” form that takes nearly 90 days to process through the Dept of Immigration and it’s completion symbolizes the end to our long paperwork road.  We have been waiting to receive the I-797 for several months and our wait has ended.  Now the fun begins.  Once this form has gone through the rigmarole of being certified, authenticated, etc. then a matched child is close at hand.  Something that seemed so far away, suddenly stares me in the face.

A matched child.  A matched, freakin child!  Little P. will be here before you know it. Wow….

Through all of this, Reece has been a warrior.  We’ve both done our share but she has shown relentless persistence following every minute detail to the end.  Her unyielding efforts have paid off.

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Add to this awesome news that Saturday is our silent auction and you have the makings for a wonderful weekend.  Several weeks back, Reece and I were nervous since all we had to auction were gift cards from LaRosas and one basket from the Oriental Wok. Now there’s cooking supplies, jewelry, purses, sports memorabilia, a mountain bike, pottery….and this doesn’t include the space, food, beer, wine, DJ services, time all donated by family and friends. To date, our amazing support group has compiled over $6000 in auction items.  That’s absolutely unbelievable. To say we are blessed would be a major understatement!  I am numb to it all.  Numb because it’s difficult wrap my mind around everything that has occurred thus far.

My prayer through everything is to remain focused on what this (the adoption process) is all about.  I wear a red cord/band around my wrist for reminders, but even then I get lost from time to time. Sorry to say, but Little Panda is not always in the forefront of my thoughts and there are days when I am consumed with “process” instead of “purpose” which is…her.  It has always been her.  I pray that after we see a picture of this little angel, my true intentions and focus will return.

But it’s funny….

God began the whole process by laying His relentless Spirit of conviction upon our hearts.  Sometimes I wish that feeling of basking in his Light were always there…but it’s not. Such an emotional/spiritual state is wonderful but thank God it’s temporary.  Who could endure such intense feelings without being consumed by them?  I believe God sent this initial spark to motivate us over the mountains that stood before us.  Once on course, He took those feelings away. I don’t mean He’s totally absent.  He checks in from time to time, turning me into a blubbering mess. But He knows what He’s doing…giving you just enough juice to get going, before letting you go.  You could compare God to a loving parent. The easy road (at first)  is to do everything for your kids, but eventually there’s a balance between teaching independence and allowing for mistakes.  I believe that is what God is doing for us (Reece and I).  Pulling us to our feet, then allowing us to walk, stumbling past the coffee tables and chairs of our life until we cruise on our own.

Something incredible happens,  “pressed down and running over” when people join in spirit and even though I’m numb from it all, I realize God is working through these people and circumstances to bring Little Panda into our home. My hope is that I can somehow give back to all of these people.  I don’t think it’s possible, really.  But I pray that each supporting heart will receive a blessing of reciprocating love.  I don’t know how to do this but God knows–and I will put everything into His hands where it belongs.

Losing Myself

Been feeling kinda lost lately.  Not because I’m forty…I’m over that for the time being…or at least until I hit fifty.  When I say lost, maybe what I mean is–overwhelmed.  Life can do that.  You get all geeked up over small, trivial things until they take over your mind creating a reactionary robot instead of a present being of thought and action.  I hate that this world wires us to live like scurrying mice, running through our hectic days as though every conceivable ounce of time should be efficiently spent. And what are we doing during those “efficient” moments?

Finding pictures of cross dressing cats on bing images, apparently.

We really over-estimate our importance don’t we?  When I think of all the time I spend updating Facebook, looking through my emails, checking voicemail and even writing in this blog it makes my head spin.  When did this happen?  When did our lives become hyper driven?  Better yet…how do we stop?

I have tried putting away my smart phone, turning off the laptop, forgetting about my profile on Linkedin, but a few days, hours or even seconds later I’m at it again–checking Facebook or answering the buzzing phone.  It’s beyond choice now. This world has conditioned me to do idiotic things like text while I’m driving (yeah, I hate to admit it but I do it), check the I-net during commercials and message friends during play time with my kids. 

That last part really stings.  I don’t want my kids seeing a father who appears absent, uncaring, distracted, aloof.  What message is that sending them?  That they aren’t important?  This sudden awareness of my habits comes during a busy time in my life.  To be fair, there are times when I need to multi-task and when the kids need to take a back seat, but those times are far and few between and I need to start thinking of how to be present with my family…but how?

I need to start asking myself: “What is really important here?” Is texting back a friend really worth plowing into a telephone pole at eighty miles an hour? Is deleting all of those voice mails or emails more important than playing with my son?

It’s simple, really.  But like most simple things, putting it into practice is not so simple.  Eckhart Tolle has made a career on this advice: Be present and in the moment, always.  I admit that such a mantra doesn’t make much sense when you’re charging through a day of work schedules, dropping kids at school, managing a budget, working out, supporting your spouse…add to this the adoption process and organizing a large party and you have a sure recipe for chaos.  But there is an eye to every hurricane.  and I am gonna try my best to find it each day and every moment.

What are the storms that keep you from being present?  What are you gonna do about them? 

Here’s one idea:

Good luck!

Rounding second and heading for 41…

So I turned forty the other day and guess what I thought about all day long?

Death. 

Everything in my life is great.  I’m healthy,  have a supportive and loving family, a dependable job…basically life is good. So if this all is true then why did I spend my birthday thinking, “I don’t want to die.”

 What’s up with that?  After thinking it through here’s what I came up with:

I don’t want to have lived a wasted life

I don’t want to lose what I already have

I have so much more to do

I’m rounding second and heading for third–what have I accomplished?

It’s silly.  I’m not afraid of dying.  True, I do fear the pain that may come with the whole deal but my next transition will be glorious–I have no doubt about that.  Still, I find myself ruminating over what my life has been about.  In some ways I’ve come a long way but then again–what have I really done in 40 years?

 I love my family and consider myself a family man, but I could be supporting my wife and kids so much more. I’m a therapist with experience in many fields but there are so many people who have done so much more with their OT degree.  I’ve written a few short stories and gotten them published but then I see writers in their twenties running their own publishing companies. 

Dreams.  I have a lot of them.  But are they worth it?  What about just living a content life where the primary focus is to help others?  To support those in need?  What would a life like that look like?  Would I lose myself?  Isn’t that what this is all about?  To lose your ego? To be less so you can become more? 

But what is more? 

Does “more” mean doing great things that are world renown? Or is “more” simply taking out the garbage for your next door neighbor?  How do you measure greatness? Meaning?  Is there a way?

I don’t think God is measuring anything.  I believe in the end we will experience every act we ever did on this earth and judge for ourselves whether our actions were meaningful…loving…terrible.  Looking at life this way shows me that I have a long way to go.  But I also see a lot of good.  In fact, if we really study our intentions…for everything we do, I believe we’ll see a mixed bag of awful and wonderful. Was the act done out of obligation or love?  Was your tantrum to protect or punish?  I think this is what the bible verse was saying with “only God knows the hearts of men.” If this is true then it makes sense to appoint us judge and jury of our lives.   

Sometimes I ask God why he gave us so much control. Why give your creation the freedom to kill themselves?  Why not make this life safe…a closed system where we cannot hurt anyone or anything?  But as usual my wife provided insight.  I’m paraphrasing here, but in essence Theresa said that life without choice is not love.  If we loved each other and God without choice, what would that prove?  That we are good followers? 

That’s about right.

Maybe I think too much and should just chill.  Ignorance is bliss right?  To close your eyes to life’s ugliness makes everything a lot more tolerable and I do think our attention should trend towards the beautiful.  But truth is truth and it’s true that my life is probably half over. 

I guess this is mid-life crisis.

So where do I go from here?  After kicking these thoughts around on February 6th, I concluded that life is a series of moments. I must look at each moment, wherever it may be and do the most life-giving act possible in that moment. 

What does that look like?  I don’t know–it’s all relative.  But the intention will be there…isn’t that enough?

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