Thursday, March 8, 2012

Turning 30

Last week my sister-in-law invited me to the salon for pedicures.  I had never had one before and I figured that I better jump on the opportunity now before summer training kicks in and I only have half the normal number of toenails.  It was AH-mazing.  How had I gone the 29 years and 5 months of my life having never had such an experience?!

It made me wonder what else I might be missing.

It is not unusual for a person, as the calendar pages flip dangerously close to the big 3-0, to take stock of their life.  To ponder the things they thought they would have accomplished by this point.  Now, as I am creeping ever closer to ending my third decade on this planet, I too am looking back at the things I have/haven't done.

I have ridden an elephant.  I have gone bungee jumping.  I have run every distance from the 5k - the marathon.  I have experienced the miracles of both childbirth and adoption.  I have rolled, bodily, down the biggest sled-riding hill in our town.  But there are a number of things that I haven't done. Things I've never experienced.  Not exciting bungee-jumping kind of things.  Normal things.  Everyday things.  Things I find myself wondering how I could have possibly missed them.  Here's my list so far:

1. I have never played monopoly all the way through.

2. I have never shot a gun (aside from a water-pistol).

3. I have never, despite having so many children, owned a regular high-chair or a changing table.

4. I have never built a fire or operated a barbeque grill. 

5. I have never been to the Football Hall of Fame (significant only because we live 15 minutes away from it).

6. I have never jumped off a high-dive.

(numbers 7-9 are all food related, and are not things that I intend to ever eat, but people are usually shocked when I tell them, so I thought I'd include them here.)

7. I have never had a root-beer float or a banana split.

8. I have never made eggs any way except scrambled.  I honestly don't even know proper egg terminology.  If you asked me what exactly "over easy" or "sunny side up" means, I truly couldn't tell you.

9. I have never eaten a Whopper or a BigMac.

10. I have never mowed a lawn... or successfully operated a lawnmower in any way.

All I can do is shake my head and laugh.  So am I alone here?  Are there "normal" things that you've never done? I'd love to hear from you (mostly so I won't feel like such a freak).  What things have you been missing out on?

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Run With Endurance

"What a blessing it is that God gave us a way, through our laws, to be able to add to our families in this way." The words echoed in my head as we stood before the judge this past Monday. In this beautiful moment my mind raced, reliving the last two years in seconds. Heartbreak. Joy. What an incredible journey it has been. There have been moments where this journey has been more exhausting that the longest run and moments more wonderful than crossing any finish line.

If you have read this blog, even a couple of times you are probably aware that Chanda and I are the parents of six children. What you probably are not aware of is that two are biologically ours, two are foster children, and as of Monday when the adoption of James was finalized, two are adopted. And as I stood in that courtroom on Monday with my wife and all six of our children, surrounded by extended family, in the presence of social workers, a judge and God, I couldn't help but think of a bible passage that has often been my running mantra. Hebrews 12:1 says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with endurance the race marked out for us."

"Run with Endurance" is what I say to myself when I am struggling through a long run. But on this day the application was so much bigger! Parenting is an endurance sport. There's no other comparison that fits quite as well. I read one time that in an ultra-marathon you hit "the wall" and stay there for hours. In parenting...it can be days, weeks and even months. Like a marathon, each child comes with their own set of challenges, specifically unique to them. And like running a marathon, successful parenting requires, at times, that you dig deep in your moment of exhaustion and give, possibly more than you even knew you could. But once you finally break through that wall the "runners high" is unimaginable!

These last two years have been an emotional roller-coaster. We've witnessed more joy and heartache than I could fit into a thousand posts. We have experienced the joys of bringing home a baby from the hospital, the fear that accompanies sitting by that babies hospital bed a few months later while the doctors tried to figure out what was wrong with him, the heartbreak of watching his birth-mom make the hardest decision of her life to give James a better life, and on this day, the joy of knowing that we are officially his "forever family." But let me tell you, it has been worth every second!

If you are a parent, especially one who's child has special needs or circumstances, I want to encourage you. This race was marked out for you. You have it within you to be victorious! And the people around you, that great cloud of witnesses, the spectators standing on the sidelines, they're cheering for you and your success will be their inspiration. Don't give up. Don't give in. Run with endurance!


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