Tag Archives: family

National Adoption Month:: Learning to be Human

18 Nov

November is National Adoption Month here in the states, so to celebrate I think we should all go out and adopt a child.  Just kidding, that would take months and months.  I mean, adopting a child is a little more complicated than picking up a kitten at the humane society.  But wouldn’t it be lovely if we all had the resources to start the adoption process this month?  Even though most of us probably can’t adopt (or foster) a child right now, we can be praying for kids waiting for homes; individuals, couples, and families in the process of or considering adoption; and for the case workers working with both sides.

Since my best friend Sarah transferred to the adoption unit over two years ago, I’ve learned a lot about adoption.  Most of the children Sarah works with are older kids whose parents have had their rights terminated as a last resort.  These are kids who have been in and out of foster care for years, who have been returned home and then removed again.  They have been hurt by those who should have loved them the most and an imperfect system has only added to their alienation. This doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement for adoption, does it?

Here’s the thing—just because a child is difficult does not mean that he or she is defective.  When I hear about these kids, something stirs up inside me that screams, “Then I will show that kid the love she never had!”  It’s not an easy path.  I guess that’s why most people want babies—less emotional baggage, but—oh man!—lots of poopy diapers.

John Cusack and Bobby Coleman star in MARTIAN CHILD

Over the weekend, Sarah and I watched Martian Child starring John Cusack, his sister Joan, and Amanda Peet.  The story follows famed science-fiction author David Gordon (John Cusack) as he decides to adopt a young boy who thinks he is from Mars.  While the movie makers have taken liberty with the actual adoption process (i.e., sending a social worker for an unannounced visit, not setting up in-home services, and other “behind the scenes” stuff), Martian Child is still a pretty good flick.

Here’s a summation of the plot courtesy of Wikipedia.com, “David Gordon (John Cusack), a popular science fiction author, lost his wife Mary when they were trying to adopt a child. Two years later, David is finally matched with a young boy named Dennis (Bobby Coleman). Socially awkward, Dennis believes he is from Mars and only goes outdoors when under the cover of a large box to block out the sun’s harmful rays. Although initially hesitant to adopt a boy by himself, David recognizes a part of him in Dennis and slowly coaxes him out of the box and into his home.

With the help of David’s friend Harlee (Amanda Peet) and sister Liz (played by Cusack’s real life sister Joan), David and Dennis begin an arduous process of learning about each other, from Dennis’ incessant photo-taking habits, his inclination to eat only Lucky Charms, and his perpetual stealing, to David’s continuing love of his wife, his love of baseball and his own struggles to be accepted by others.

As David teaches Dennis how to be an ‘earthling’, both earns each others’ trust and eventually, they find someone who loves them unequivocally.”

The whole concept is fascinating to me because how many children in foster care waiting to be adopted feel like Martians?  How many think that no one loves or wants them?  Foster families try, but the homes are temporary at best.  Instead of dealing with that reality, Dennis creates his own.  He’s on a mission from Mars, so naturally his housing situation is temporary.  He has to collect data, learn about humans, and then he will be taken back to his permanent home.  The problem is that Dennis knows deep down that he’s not from Mars; he just can’t bear to be a resident of Planet Earth.

Martian Child is chock full of great lines including a conversation between David and Dennis that takes place after David discovers his new son has been stealing items in the house for observation purposes.  David asks him, “What are you doing?”

“Learning,” Dennis replies.

“Learning what?”

“Learning how to be a human, how to be part of a family.”

Oh, man!  That line just hits me in the gut!  I mean, it sounds like something we’re all trying to do—adopted or not, child or not, parent or not—we’re all trying to learn how to be human and how to be part of our families!  It is a never-ending experience!

Dennis also sports a gravity belt (batteries duct taped to an old belt) that keeps him from floating into outer space—a sign that shows Dennis does want to remain on Earth.  His social worker points out, “He probably thinks he’s going to float away because he’s intelligent and sees how people and things are temporary.”  Oh, Dennis, how I understand!

After an argument with David, Dennis decides the Martians are calling him home and climbs a water tower to meet his family in the sky.  But it is David who climbs the water tower to meet Dennis.  Once David finally convinces Dennis that he’s just a little boy, the child asks why his family would leave him.  Then John Cusack-as-David utters one of the best cinematic lines ever, “Because they’re stupid!”  David lists Dennis’ many fine qualities and finishes his monologue with this promise, “There’s nothing you could do that would ever change the way I feel about you.”  The music swells and we know there’s a happy ending in sight.

While Dennis’ story is a happy one, it is also a fictional one (based on the award-winning novella by real-life science fiction writer, David Gerrold).  There are a lot of interesting kids right here in the United States that would love to be welcomed into the loving arms of a parent—so they can learn how to be human and how to be part of a family.

For more information on adoptions in the United States, head on over to AdoptUSKids.org.  Pennsylvania residents, you can check out AdoptPAkids.org to learn about kids who are looking for families.  Prayerfully consider if God would have you adopt one of His beloved children.

Advertisements

True Confessions Friday:: My niece’s naughty behavior cracks me up.

10 Jul

She really loves my mom's dog, whom she calls "Cow."

Not all the time, mind you.  Just when there’s someone else (like my mom) who can point her towards the path of good behavior.  But even then, I can see my mom trying to hold in her laughter.  Of course, there are times when composure is just not possible.

For instance, my 2.5 year-old niece (she’ll be 3 in Sept. and she’s not technically my niece.  She’s my step-niece) was visiting my mom and step-dad for a few days.  Omigosh, that kid cracks me up.  Last night we were sitting on the porch and she wanted to water the flowers with her little plastic watering container.  She dumped the liquid out of the can causing a downpour on the pansies.  Then she wanted more water, presumably to do the same, but my mom told her, “No.” When no one was looking, she took my step-dad’s half-full glass of iced tea and dumped it on the flowers.  I busted out laughing.  Seeing how funny she was, she proudly went for my can of Diet Coke. Denied!  She was just trying to water the flowers—with any liquid in her grasp.

Apparently, shes reading a Brennan Manning book.

Apparently, she's reading a Brennan Manning book.

Earlier that evening, we took the dogs for a walk.  I attached my mom’s two dogs to a tandem leash and then clipped a pink leash to the tandem lead for my niece to use.  She really and truly thinks that she’s walking the dogs.  She accidentally dropped the pink leash a few times and I would exclaim, “Oh, no!  You better get that that or the puppies are going to run away!”  She would quickly grab her leash to ensure the safety of the dogs.  Well, at some point during the walk, she got something in her sandals.  After removing the item, which mean removing her sandal, she decided that she would rather resume the walk barefoot—a definite no-no!  During the rambunctious protest that occurred, she dropped the pink leash and refused to pick it up.  I reminded her that she wanted to walk the dogs and she couldn’t just leave them in the middle of the sidewalk.  Begrudgingly, she complied and was all smiles half a block later.  I think she actually dragged the dogs up the street.

She decided to put her coat on by herself--upside down!

She decided to put her coat on by herself--upside down!

Then there was our shopping trip to Target!  Deciding my niece needed new shoes, my mom and I headed to the shoe department and found some darling little shoes that were a mere $3.24—a cute bargain!  Perfect!  But the mini-fashionista would have none of that; she wanted Dora sandals (also discounted—that’s my girl).  Unfortunately, there were no Dora sandals in her size.  We tried to end this Dora fixation with other fine shoes, but no, it was all about Dora.  After nearly a dozen no’s, we finally found a pair of Disney Princess sandals that passed my niece’s high standards (after she cried because the Hello Kitty sandals were not in her size either).  I mean, when did two year-olds care about fashion?  Seriously!

Were a dynamic duo!

We're a dynamic duo!

All this has taught me that I am definitely not ready to have a child because I can’t keep a straight face when all this nonsensical stuff is happening.  Even if I’m irritated at the moment, it makes me laugh later on.  Then again, I’m the cool aunt, aren’t I?  We cool aunts do cool stuff like buy our nieces their first My Little Ponies.  I don’t know if I was made to be a mother, but I was definitely made to be a cool aunt.

Yard Sales:: Other People’s Treasures

30 May

Today is the yearly Emmaus Community Yard Sale, which means if you can have a yard sale in our borough for FREE.  Normally, Emmaus residents are required to get a $5 yard sale permit from the borough.  I have a sneaky suspicsion that many residents hold “illegal” yard sales other days of the year, and in fact, probably don’t know that a permit is required.  Anyway, the whole event is incredibly popular, so my mom and I decided to check it out.  I left with $30 in my pocket and came back with $6 (and a swollen foot from the ongoing bursitis crisis in my big toe joint [first metatarsal joint]).

Before I tell you about all the great stuff I acquired with my 24 bucks.  I want to show you a picture of a cute little girl selling pink lemonade.  I bought a giant stuffed elephant from the youngster…and lemonade.  Anyway,  I told her that I’d put her picture on my blog.  Plus, look at how she wrote “lemonade” on her stand…isn’t that precious?

So here’s a rundown of what I bought (and a picture!)::

An artist’s table (needs some cleaning, but otherwise great!):: $5 [not pictured]

A child-sized Radio Flyer wagon:: $3 [not pictured]

A Father’s Day present for Dad:: $2 (Hey, even Dad likes a good bargain!]

A really awesome bird plate:: $3

A Jim Bradenburg print of the Aurora Borealis:: $3

A wicker basket:: 25 cents

Inspirational dice:: 50 cents

Bird paper weight:: 50 cents

Kitsch Rack:: $1

Stuffed Elephant:: $1

Water For Elephants Hardcover Book:: $2

Brand New Little Mermaid Backpack:: 50 cents (Seriously!  I’m gonna donate it to one of those places that collect new backpacks for kids when they go back-to-school).

Old Polaroaid camera:: $3

Lemonade:: $1.00 (Actually, my mom bought it!)

Pflatzgard Deviled Egg Plate (new in box):: $5 (my mom bought me that, too!)

Time with Mom:: priceless

I can’t even begin to list what my mom bought–much of it for my stepniece.  All-in-all, it was a good day with lots of good deals.  Plus, I got to pet a lot of dogs, which always makes me happy. Have a nice weekend, kids!

Tears In My Potato Salad

4 Jul

potato salad

I still contend that my grandmother was one of the best cooks that the world as ever seen, especially when it came to picnic food and desserts. Until my own venture into making potato salad yesterday and today (it was a two day event), I didn’t realize how hard she worked. And, really, all I did was peel the potatoes and taste the salad because Sarah is much more of a cook than me (yes, it has dawned on me that I should be able to cook to be a suitable candidate for marriage. However, I do know how to clean, decorate, take care of pets, and plant flowers…oh, and I’m very good with power tools. That should count for something, right?)

We called my mom in order to get my grandma’s potato salad recipe and like all my grandmother’s recipes, this one wasn’t terribly exact. “Add some vinegar” isn’t that helpful, you know? Finally, the potato salad was ready for a taste test…and it tasted nothing like Grammy’s. I called my mom fighting back fears because it just had to be like my grandmother’s because that’s what I remember being the best part about the Fourth of July. We added more vinegar and then salad dressing and onions and paprika and celery salt in various quantities, but it was futile. While our friend Julie loved the potato salad, I thought it tasted terrible.

July 31 will mark the third anniversary of my grandmother’s death, and in these three years I’ve come to realize it’s the little things that truly matter most–her potato salad on the Fourth of July, the little birds she folded out of paper, and the answers to the questions I never asked. I can’t make her potato salad; I don’t know how to fold those little birds; and I can’t ask those questions.

I know it’s just potato salad and such a thing shouldn’t make a person cry, but it does. Because it’s not potato salad; it’s something I can never ask my grandmother to show me how to make. I can’t make it for my family one day (if I ever learn how to cook) and say, “This is how my grandmother made it.” Today I missed my grandmother terribly, not just because of her potato salad, but because of what not having her potato salad means. They say that a loved one’s death gets easier with time; I think it just gets “normal”.

If anyone out there has a good recipe for potato salad that contains vinegar, salad dressing (the mayo alternative), and sour cream, please e-mail it to me at amy@backseatwriter.com or post it here for everyone to enjoy. Thanks!

Slow Fade

23 May

Casting Crowns just released a music video for “Slow Fade” one of their songs off their latest album The Altar and the Door.  I previously blogged about this song, but I’m gonna repost part of that entry after the video.  Below is the dramatic “Slow Fade” video…

From Jan. 8, 2008’s entry, “It’s a Slow Fade When You Give Yourself Away“…

At the beginning of November, I had the pleasure of attending Casting Crowns current tour, The Altar and the Door (based on their latest album by the same title). The tour also includes Leeland and John Waller. I had listened to the new album a few times before I saw the concert, but not enough to have truly melded into the music. It’s when lead singer Mark Hall began to sing “Slow Fade” that tears started to well up in my eyes. As the song continued, the lyrics rang so true to my life, that I was a sloppy mess by the end of the song.

Ever since I first experienced the song that night, I’ve realized how sin in our lives can take us on that slow fade into unbelief. How each and every little compromise we make in our faith is one step closer to collapse. Fortunately, we have a merciful and loving God who is always faithful to welcome us back into the arms of grace. However, what about those who suffer along the way due to our actions, and what if we fade so far we never choose to come back?

In relationships with both of my parents, I can see their slow fade into something else and how that’s truly damaged the family unit we once had. Of course, now my parents are divorced and with other partners, which leads into complicated family dynamics. Yet it’s a slow fade when a daddy uses the internet to chat, ends up chatting with women, bears his soul to someone other than his wife, talks to that woman on the phone, meets her in person, has a romantic relationship with her, leaves his family, and gets a divorce. Each and every step along the way adds to the slow fade.

I love that Mark Hall has his daughter sing the last stanza of this song on the album (which by the way, if you don’t have it, you should pick it up). It serves as a reminder to Daddies (and Mommies) everywhere that a compromise is not just about you, but it’s about your kids, too. Children don’t choose to be “children of divorce”–it’s just thrust upon them. Kids don’t have a say when a new step dad comes into the family; they have to accept it. There is so much hurt, pain, abandonment before the divorce, during the divorce, and after the divorce that children (not just minors–any children, even adult children) must carry around. The little girl’s singing has a haunting effect serving as a reminder how choices affect others, especially the ones we love. Yet the song rips out the very heart of someone who can see the anguishing slow fade of a parent, friend, mentor, and a loved one.

Update:: Pray for Steven Curtis Chapman & Family

21 May

In Memory of 5 year-old Maria Chapman

As you read this, please remember recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman, his wife Mary Beth, and the rest of your family in your prayers. According to a statement on Steven Curtis Chapman’s website, “At approximately 5pm on the afternoon of Thursday May 21st, Maria Sue Chapman, 5 years old and the youngest daughter to Steven and Mary Beth Chapman was struck in the driveway of the Chapman home in Franklin, TN. Maria was rushed to Vanderbilt Childrens Hospital in Nashville, transported by LifeFlight, but died of her injuries there. Maria is one of the close knit family’s six children and one of their three adopted daughters.” For more information, please visit SCC’s site.

Please pray for the family to come together in this loss. The name of the driver of the car is not being released for obvious reasons, but remember him especially as he struggles to make sense of something senseless. Chapman family, we are joining in prayer for you right now.

The Chapman family we would like to let you know that they have requested in lieu of flowers donations be made to Shaohannah’s Hope Ministry. Donations can be made to the below P.O. Box and at www.showhope.org/maria or www.shaohannahshope.org/maria

Shaohannah’s Hope P.O. Box 647 Nashville, TN 37065

Condolences can be sent to: P.O. Box 150156 Nashville, TN 37215

Also, comments of condolence can be posted at http://chapmanchannel.typepad.com/inmemoryofmaria

Here’s a sweet video of Maria and her daddy posted on the family’s condolence blog…

Here’s an an article from the local paper about the accident.

Bug Jar::Underwater Wonder

5 May

Underwater Wonder By Adam “Tree” Myers (c)

Adam took this picture of his son, Gabriel, when visiting the Tampa aquarium.

Review: We Need Each Other by Sanctus Real

5 Mar

 

Album Released 2.18.08
By Amy Sondova Sanctus Real’s fourth album, We Need Each Other, is a voice crying in the wilderness of a society full of disconnectedness and despair. Focusing on the themes of community, unity, family, and wholeness, the songs on the album don’t seek to mend fences. Rather, Sanctus Real is ripping down the fences altogether and clamoring for unity not only among the body of Christ, but in humanity at large.

The album’s opener “Leap of Faith” is a rock anthem, true to the band’s roots, yet the lyrics cut to the heart. Ripping through formalities and clichés, the result is a song that causes listeners to come face to face with their own insecurities and doubts saying, “And you fail in your mind before you ever try.”

Following “Leap of Faith” is the album’s powerful title track, “We Need Each Other”. Drawing on the need for healthy relationships with friends, family, and loved ones, the song’s chorus is haunting with its simple message, “Oh, oh, we need each other…cause we’re not meant to be alone.” In reflecting on the song’s meaning, lead singer Matt Hammitt admits, “Unresolved conflict weighs on my soul.”

Showing lyrical and musical depth, Sanctus Real’s latest also tackles a theme fresh in the headlines—the war in Iraq. Playing off war as a spiritual metaphor, “Lay Down My Guns” tells of a soldier returning home after fighting in Iraq. Not only does the song have heavenly significance, but a very real perspective on the thoughts and feelings going through a soldier’s mind as he or she leaves the war zone. A touching tribute to our military, “Lay Down My Guns” also reminds listeners of a time when they will lay down the guns of this world and head to their heavenly homes.

From learning new instruments to use on the album to giving their vocals a work-out, Sanctus Real delivers a power-packed punch of introspective thoughtfulness, a call to worship, soul-searching ballads, and the rock anthems for which they are known. The music of We Need Each is delightfully infectious and unavoidably soul searching, but the message is simple—we were never meant to live alone.

Print copy of review.

Slow Fade When You Give Yourself Away

8 Jan

Photo Credit: Dan Phillips

At the beginning of November, I had the pleasure of attending Casting Crowns current tour, The Altar and the Door (based on their latest album by the same title). The tour also includes Leeland and John Waller. I had listened to the new album a few times before I saw the concert, but not enough to have truly melded into the music. It’s when lead singer Mark Hall began to sing “Slow Fade” that tears started to well up in my eyes. As the song continued, the lyrics rang so true to my life, that I was a sloppy mess by the end of the song.

Ever since I first experienced the song that night, I’ve realized how sin in our lives can take us on that slow fade into unbelief. How each and every little compromise we make in our faith is one step closer to collapse. Fortunately, we have a merciful and loving God who is always faithful to welcome us back into the arms of grace. However, what about those who suffer along the way due to our actions, and what if we fade so far we never choose to come back?

In relationships with both of my parents, I can see their slow fade into something else and how that’s truly damaged the family unit we once had. Of course, now my parents are divorced and with other partners, which leads into complicated family dynamics. Yet it’s a slow fade when a daddy uses the internet to chat, ends up chatting with women, bears his soul to someone other than his wife, talks to that woman on the phone, meets her in person, has a romantic relationship with her, leaves his family, and gets a divorce. Each and every step along the way adds to the slow fade.

I love that Mark Hall has his daughter sing the last stanza of this song on the album (which by the way, if you don’t have it, you should pick it up). It serves as a reminder to Daddies (and Mommies) everywhere that a compromise is not just about you, but it’s about your kids, too. Children don’t choose to be “children of divorce”–it’s just thrust upon them. Kids don’t have a say when a new step dad comes into the family; they have to accept it. There is so much hurt, pain, abandonment before the divorce, during the divorce, and after the divorce that children (not just minors–any children, even adult children) must carry around. The little girl’s singing has a haunting effect serving as a reminder how choices affect others, especially the ones we love. Yet the song rips out the very heart of someone who can see the anguishing slow fade of a parent, friend, mentor, and a loved one.

The song has apparently struck a chord with a lot of people. On YouTube, plenty of people have made their own music videos for the song. Here’s one of the best I found–it was used as a call to worship for a church. I personally like the pirated iStock photo. I also posted the song lyrics below…

“Slow Fade” by Casting Crowns

Be careful little eyes what you see
It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it’s the little feet behind you that are sure to follow

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade

Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you’re thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
You just might be sinking

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Oh be careful little eyes what see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see

Our Motley Christmas Photos

27 Dec

Here I am with the ridiculous inflatable Nativity at my mom’s house.   This was during the episode where her dog, Clifford ran away.  Everyone’s gotta take time out of a good dog chase for a picture or two.

Mary Ellen, Me, Sarah, and Maddy looking oh-so-sexy.

“Ryan Evans” from our High School Musical wrapping paper is looking sexy, too.

Mary’s sisters–AnnMarie, Janette,and Mary and me with Mary’s foot in the foreground.

A random sampling of my Christmas presents.

This is a strange nativity I put together at my mom’s house.  Yes, there is something worse than the blow-up thing out front and it was created by me!

These are two randomly weird things Sarah and I exchanged.  I gave her the freaky orange horse (I got it at dollar tree) and she gave me the funky pink tin bird.  We are the best of friends!

%d bloggers like this: