Monday, January 12, 2015

It's a Beautiful Day

The weather is gloomy today in these parts of the world.  It's cold, and it seems the sky's taken a permanent turn for a grayish tone on its canvas.  It's only 4:30 pm, and yet it looks like the sun will set shortly. Although it seems like it never did appear today.  And still what a beautiful day!

I'm not being sarcastic.  Though one may think I am.  It's beautiful.  I mean I confess that I had my January winter days planned out since early September when I began calculating the cost for flights to sunny and warm Florida.   And as I'm sitting here typing, I can't ignore the permanent chill on my feet.  It's cold today. It's strange though... I feel like God is definitely the one behind this settled feeling inside of me.  It's like for some reason the heat at home seems warmer than any other year and the firewood has be replenished over and over again.

Firewood.  I have firewood.  For my fireplace.  When you grow up in a little concrete row home on a very narrow concrete street in a very big and overpopulated concrete city, you don't ever imagine having firewood.  You think about how good it feels to set your hands right above the silver-coated radiator that sits in your living room. But you don't think about the luxury of having a fireplace.  Not unless, you read lots of novels and picture your life as someone else's.  And that was not me.  I didn't fantasize about living in someone else's shoes.  In fact, I never really pondered on the fact that my family was barely making ends meet.  It never occurred to me that I was actually poor and would be considered just another component of statistics that tell others what the poverty-stricken parts of the city consist of.  In the meantime, I had my can of Chef Boyardee for dinner and/or white rice with fried eggs, and was fine with that. You see, there was something else I had.  Something that made me feel richly blessed.  And something that not everyone is lucky enough to have.  I had a mother.  And I had two siblings.  And we were very close.

Last night I watched yet another documentary about several American families and their journey to adoption.  They adopted children from China.  And theirs were very emotional stories.  Each with happy and hopeful endings.  These families adopted children who had special needs.  A couple of the kids were blind.  One girl had no arms.  Another had one leg shorter than the other.  But the families were determined to give these children a home and a family that would accept and embrace them.  It made me reflect on the issue of adoption from a slightly different perspective than I've had in the past.  I'm learning that adoption is not just about us going out there to rescue an unwanted child.  Although it appears that way on the surface.  And it's not merely about what we might gain from bringing a child into our homes.  But it's about giving a gift.  Giving love and acceptance to those who otherwise, would not experience it.  It's about giving someone a family.  Mere words do not truly define the value of what that might mean.  

Yet, I am certain that abandoned kids are not sitting on their cots or beds or graveled roads thinking or dreaming about having a home with a fireplace.  Instead, they dream about having the gift of family. They long for the  acceptance and love found in a family. Still, it seems that there are many emotionally cold days for them in those parts of the world.

Toward the end of the documentary, there was a girl shown, who is awaiting a family.  She is ten years old and cannot speak.  I couldn't help but go to sleep thinking of her.  I looked up the meaning of her name, and found that it means "plants".  And so then I thought of what I could call her... Lily?  A lily is a beautiful flower.   And as I awoke, she remained in my thoughts.  I've been praying for her.  And could it be, that I'm the one to give her the gift of a family?  I'm not certain. But I do know that I have a gift which is priceless.

Then there's my daughter.  Oh, my little girl! Who's soon to be in her very own double digits.  And oh how I delight in her!  Even on a dreary day such as this one, I could still see her laughing, as she climbed on me on the sofa today.  She warms my heart, much more than the firewood in the fireplace could ever do.  Family is priceless... and it's a beautiful day!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Chasing the Winds

Ever try chasing after the wind?  It is pointless, I know.  And try as you might, you will never catch it.  That's the simile the Proverbs use to describe what chasing after the things of this world is like.  In essence, it is in vain that we chase after things.  And yet, we keep chasing...

There's something about us that makes us want to explore.  Something about us that makes us curious and wonder about the what ifs.... What if I were smarter?  What if I were thinner?  What if I tried harder?  What if I could make them love me?  What if I stay... what if I go?

And some of us are a little more gutsy than others.  And we don't just ask the question, we actually do go!  We study harder.  We get thinner.  We try harder.  And we do whatever necessary to get what we want.

But what is it that we want?   And do we want too much?  And how much is too much?  Is there such a thing as "enough"?  Some of us strive to find the answers to these and more questions.  And we do not tire until we find out.  And so we take the risks and chances.  We face the challenges and we attain victories.  Only to find out that the accomplishments are but temporary because we find ourselves wanting still more.  And we are never satisfied.  One degree leads to another.  One relationship leads to the next.  One promotion points to the other... and so on and so on.

We envy what others have.  We discreetly wish for that which belongs to our neighbors and friends.  And I don't just mean material things.  We chase after relationships.  Those that were not meant for us to have.  We chase after money that was not meant to be ours.  We chase after positions and roles that were meant for someone else.  And the heart grows weary and our souls tire, and we become restless.  Just as restless as the winds.  Still we chase the winds of life.

And here's what happens while we find ourselves busy chasing....  While we're out looking, and wondering, and wanting, we miss what was intended for us.  While we're gone desiring something more or simply something other than what we have, we lose sight of the purpose and beauty of what is actually ours.  Isnt' that how it happens for many broken marriages?  We're so busy chasing after the "fairy tale" ending, that we can hardly see the everyday commitment of a loyal spouse.  We're so entertained by the seemingly glorious lifestyle someone else proposes, that we forsake the person who is constant and present in our lives.  We get so caught up in chasing a name for ourselves, that we can no longer identify ourselves as children of God.  We become so consumed by the image we want to portray, that we lose ourselves.  Chasing....  it is in vain.

And it keeps us from what God has already granted us.  It keeps us from appreciating our lives.  It keeps us from contentment.  It keeps us from our purpose.
Here's what I have found.

The winds take on their own route and paths.
They have no earthly lord.
Their only compass comes from God.  Therefore, no man can attain.
Such force, who will master?
Not while on this side of heaven, can we fathom ever reaching them.
If they please, they touch us, as they find us standing in their way.
Yet, they keep moving.  No one can stop them in their tracks.
And so I stand in my place, waiting for just a glimpse of their force.
Knowing that if I try and catch up to them, I may lose sight of a beautiful display right in front of me.
If I try to chase them, I will never fully hold them.
And I will find myself aimlessly flighting and still not finding.  My place.  Myself.
For it is in vain that we chase after the winds.