Every day the wonderful happens…

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How Radical is “Radical”? February 28, 2011

Filed under: faith,goals — Elizabeth @ 2:34 PM

What church do you go to? the woman asked me.

When she heard my response, she said, oh, yes, that big church.  I’ve heard that’s a cult.  I’ve heard that your pastor tells you to sell everything you have and give the money away. Her friends all nodded in excited agreement.

Not exactly, I reply, it was actually Jesus who said that.

That conversation happened to me last year.  You see, there are (at least) 2 megachurches here in our city, and I go to one of themDavid Platt pastors the other, and he is the author of “Radical“.

When I heard about the book, I was intrigued.  I have only heard David Platt (an adoptive father, by the way) speak once, but I was hooked.  It was a simple fluke that we tried out our current church first and fell in love, because I think we would also find his congregation to be a good fit for our family.  Anyway, after hearing about the book, I wondered how radical it really was.  Was it going to freak me out?  Was I going to be terribly convicted?  Was I going to read it and then uproot my family and become a missionary?

Since I had so many people tell me it was on their list to read or ask me if it was worth reading, I decided to give you my take on the book.

First of all, I would say that the radical-ness of the book is pretty subjective.  It depends on where you stand in your beliefs already.  It depends what you are hearing from the pulpit of your current church (personally, I enjoy feeling challenged to always do more/be more/give more by my pastor.  Does it mean that sometimes I say to myself “ouch” when he is preaching?  Yes.  Is that a good thing?  Yes).  It depends on the attitude you have when you read the Bible (do you take it for what it says or interpret it in a way that suits your situation?  do you tell you yourself that the rules do not apply today?).

The woman who told me I was in a cult would probably find this book incredibly radical.  As an aside, I later realized that she probably thinks I attend David Platt’s church and someone has told her that he wrote a book telling people to sell all of their belongings and give the money away.  Well, I heard, and she said, and blah, blah, blah. A classic example of misinformation.

The gist of the book, for those of you who aren’t familiar, is rediscovering what Jesus ACTUALLY said about being his disciple.  Hint:  he did say to give everything away.  The book discusses how some modern-day Christians  have manipulated the Bible to fit our preferences.

The book was eye-opening to me, especially in a few ways.  You might read it and be blown away by many other parts, but I will touch on some of my bigger takeaways (and forgive me for not having any quotes from the book to share, but I had to return it to the library.  Y’all know I was getting late fees on that thing!  $1.95??  Enough is enough!).

First of all, we are told to go into ALL THE WORLD and preach the gospel.  I know that.  I learned that in Sunday school!

But, I really had lulled myself into a sense of complacency, telling myself that some people were called to be missionaries.  Bull.  We are ALL called to be missionaries.  And then I might even have told myself that’s fine, but I’m not really feeling comfortable enough led to get on a plane and go somewhere on a mission trip.  I will just be a missionary in my own city.  (Ask me how that local missionary thing was going, and I wouldn’t really have an answer for you.  Ahem.)  And the local missionary thing is all fine and good–great even!  We should be a light to those around us, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t also called to GO.

Here’s a little secret.  I’ve never wanted to GO.

But my eyes were opened to the fact that it wasn’t about if I was comfortable with that or if it fit into my schedule.

One of the other big points in the book (and a part of the Radical Experiment at the end of the book) is to give (we are talking money and time here).  Okay, I’m totally fine with that.  Not just to give though–give sacrificially, like until it hurts.  Like maybe even set a dollar amount that your family can survive on and give everything else away.  Every penny you ever make over that number.  EVERYTHING ELSE.

That’s radical.

You know what though?  It’s also biblical.

Now you could take that idea and twist it and call it crazy.  This suggestion (and it is absolutely NOT a one size fits all type of thing, but rather you should pray about this and see what God is telling you to do) is much more fleshed out in the book, and much more eloquently discussed, and it absolutely allows for saving responsibly, etc, etc.  But that’s the gist of it.

And like I said, we give.  We give, and we get complacent in our giving.  Our church has been a church for 10 years and in that time, they have donated over $10 million to worldwide missions.  I see that number and I sprain my shoulder patting myself on the back and I think, I am doing something for worldwide missions

But I’ve never been on a mission trip.

Our church has opened a free medical clinic in the inner city and I tell myself, I am a part of that–my money helped do that!

But I have never driven down there and seen it for myself, much less volunteered there.

There are two lessons in that.  One–people need more than my money.  They need me, they need my compassion, they need my time, and I need to be the hands and feet out there doing things.  Two–even though I do give, it still isn’t enough.  Do I seriously need another pair of shoes when there are others dying of starvation?  Seriously?

So after I read this book, I began to think of how the Radical Experiment (there is much more to it than I have discussed here) would look lived out in my life.  I started discussing these ideas with Jason and wondering if we gave more (of our time and our money), where would we give it, how would we manage, how would that look?

My first thought was that I need to get going locally.  Donate my time, doing some sort of outreach HERE, in my own backyard.  So I found a local DHR girls home in our area that is in need of tutors and mentors for the girls living there.  I have signed on to be both, and I’m waiting for all of my background checks and fingerprints (think adoption homestudy all over again!) to come back so I can get started.  Then my awesome small group leader set up a Saturday for us to serve lunch at a local homeless shelter.  I would love it if this could be a regular thing for our group.  I am so glad for the opportunity and really have a renewed desire to make a difference in my community.

As Jason and I talked about financial giving and mission trips, it did seem a bit overwhelming at first.  We were both on board but we didn’t know exactly where to begin.  Out of the blue, Jason received some information–he found out that he was going to start getting paid for some work that he currently does (and has been doing for years) as a volunteer.  What a surprise!

Our first instinct was to spend it on ourselves.  Literally, you could hear the wheels turning as we both made plans of everything we needed wanted.

Then I realized–this is our chance.  This is a sign.  So, we have decided to take every penny of this extra money and save it up.  Our goal is to use it to take a mission trip next year or to find a need that is close to our hearts and give it away.

Is that radical?  You tell me.


Protected: Haulin’ that Gargantuan Cranium About February 25, 2011

Filed under: everyday life,Isaac — Elizabeth @ 9:02 AM

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Protected: Delicate Boy in the Hysterical Realm February 23, 2011

Filed under: adoption thoughts,Matthew,the adjustment — Elizabeth @ 10:09 PM

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Whatnot Wednesday

Filed under: whatnot — Elizabeth @ 10:38 AM
  • Friday night, I thought I was gonna blow my kids’ minds.  Seriously, I was ready to be cool mom for once.  So I made the announcement–Mommy is making something special for dinner:  chocolate chip pancakes!!!!!!  Isaac responded by screaming excitedly, “CHOCOLATE CHIP PANCAKES?!?!?!” and then he said a bit more quietly and very concerned-like, “do they taste like zucchini pancakes?”.  (Yes, I have made zucchini pancakes–a Korean dish, and they are yummy, but not to Isaac).  I encouraged him excitedly, “no, they taste like chocolate!  They are like candy pancakes!!!”.  I totally felt like a meth dealer trying to convince my kid that he will love them…..just try them ONCE…..they are amazing.  He humored me with a very wan, “oh wow” and an encouraging smile and went on to play.  Since I actually wanted plain pancakes for myself, at dinnertime, I decided to take a poll–who wants chocolate chip pancakes and who wants plain?  Isaac immediately said plain and like a loyal little brother, Matthew said plain, too.  I think Jason really wanted chocolate chip, but then he felt too lame to be the only one eating them.  So, do you know that my big surprise along with my hopes and dreams of being a cool mom were ruined then and there?  Not to mention the fact that I would make a lousy meth dealer.
  • I’m just gonna put it out there:  I am dying to see the Justin Beiber movie.  I am not some crazy sicko with a crush on him.  Seriously, I’m not.  I save all my inappropriate, crazy mama lust for vampires and werewolves like a normal 33-year old.  As a mother, I am seriously intrigued at his genuine talent and drive, and I really want to see it.  Laugh all you want.  I’m going.  And I might even wear my “I like my boys cold, dead and sparkly pin” when I go.
  • Isaac doesn’t know what a gun is.  I don’t think he’s ever heard the word or seen one.  And while that may seem weird to some, I have to also think that wouldn’t it be a little weird if he had seen movies or TV shows with guns?  I mean, he’s 4, so we aren’t sitting around watching CSI with him.  This is how I know for sure he is clueless:  he has some of the plastic army men from Toy Story, and I have asked him on 2 occasions what the soldiers are holding in their hands.  The first time he told me a stick.  The second time he told me a vacuum cleaner.  You have to admit that cop shows would be a lot funnier if they were fighting it out with vacuum cleaners.  And a whole lot cleaner.  (Ba dum bum).
  • I just finished reading my first Korean novel.  I say “first” as if I have a slew of other Korean novels lined up to read, which is not the case.  This one was a fluke as it was on the new fiction wall at my library, and the cover caught my eye.It’s a North/South spy novel that takes place in Seoul.  Even though that’s not my favorite genre, I picked it up, and I loved it!!!  Not only was it cool to learn a little more about the politics of the North and South, but to read about the characters being in places I had been (COEX) was really cool.  My only issue was that I really had problems with remembering the characters names and who was who.  Since I am not so familiar with Korean names, I had no point of reference, and I couldn’t even remember what names were men and what were women.  I really should have made myself a chart, because I spent the first 30% of the book thinking, “Ki-yong?  Who is Ki-yong?”  Search…..look back a few pages.  “Oh duh, the main character”.  Stuff like that.  But it was really, really good, and I think I’m going to try to read another book by this dude (“I Have the Right to Destroy Myself”) if my library system has it.
  • Our neighbors on one side have never spoken to us.  They don’t even make eye contact when we are outside.  I don’t know what their issue is, but they have a dog.  A well-groomed, but dejected Corgi that roams around their yard.  When the boys see the dog, they both scream, “NINEY!!!  There’s Niney!”.  I have no idea what the dog’s actual name is (because the neighbors don’t speak to us), so I have no idea why they call the dog Niney.  Incidentally, when we first moved in, these neighbors propped up a sign in their yard facing our fence (chain link).  The sign stated that we should not feed their dog because the dog has a sensitive stomach and gets sick easily.  First of all, could you maybe come introduce yourselves and then throw that in during conversation?  Or mention this fact as you speak to us over the fence one day?  Or here’s a thought–why would we want to be feeding your strange dog through a fence?  Don’t we have better things to do??  They literally wrote a sign–ironically it was written on the back of an old street sign.  I was going to take a picture of it, but then it fell over (face down, unfortunately) and now it is almost completely covered in leaves.  What, you don’t believe me?  Okay, I just ran outside in my pajamas and bare feet and took this picture to prove it!!!Jason thought that we should put up a sign in our yard that simply said, “OKAY”.  But instead we have joined them in awkwardly avoiding eye contact when we’re both outside at the same time.  Cause, you know, that’s what neighbors do.

Heads Up, People February 21, 2011

Filed under: transracial parenting — Elizabeth @ 9:45 PM

I don’t do a lot of linking to other blogs from my blog.  But sometimes I read things and they simply must be shared.  This post is from a few weeks ago, and I linked to it on my Facebook page.  If you didn’t see it there, I beg you to go read it here.

It is a beautifully written account of the bullying that a Chinese man lived with during elementary school.  It shocked me.  I know it happens, but to read about it, from someone who lived it.  Even worse, to hear how that bullying led to self-loathing.

Granted, this man’s story took place years ago.  It would be nice to think that things are different now.

But then I read this.  First grade students engaging in the age-old eye-pulling to mimic Asian eyes.  A great example of “innocent racism”.  But then it gets worse–a student telling an Asian and Indian classmate that they wouldn’t talk to them because they were “dark-skinned”. That’s not so innocent, people.

Later, I read a post by another blogger (I won’t link because I do not know her and do not have permission) whose Ethiopian children were told by a “friend” that they couldn’t join in a game because there were “No Blacks Allowed”.

That’s downright scary.

I don’t know why I feel like I must share these stories.  But I must.  Because I think that we probably like to think that we have come so far, but in some ways, we are just as backwards as ever.

I think we need to be reminded that this might happen with our children.  Not so we can get all down and depressed about it, but so we can better prepare them as they go out into the world.  So we can better prepare ourselves to deal with it.

Because I want my Korean son to eat his shrimp chips in the lunchroom with his head held high.


At the Heart of Him February 18, 2011

Filed under: adoption thoughts — Elizabeth @ 3:43 PM

Matthew is feeling alot better, but we experienced some backsliding while he was sick.  It’s not anything worth going into in great detail here–we are just having some “Who’s the Boss” moments around our house, whereas before he got sick, we were beginning to settle into some really nice “yes ma’am” times.

It’s frustrating, for certain, and when we experience turns of events like this, I always find myself searching for the reason.  What happened?  Did I drop the ball?  Miss a red flag?  Fail to meet some crucial need?

My mind goes first to adoption.  Loss.  Abandonment.

I know that adoption itself does not define Matthew.  That every single aspect of his personality is not completely due to the circumstances he has lived through.  But it seems like it would be reckless not to take it into account.

Sometimes I feel like a doctor examining a patient.  My patient has diabetes.  It is controlled but it is chronic.  When that patient presents with any other symptom, I treat it, but I always have to investigate if the diabetes is causing it or if it stands alone.

Sometimes I never know why or what causes these setbacks.  I just have to treat the symptom–re-establish our roles, stick with our consistent boundaries, and try to patiently await our return to the promised land of “yes ma’am”.

The key is to remind myself that while I do have to thoughtfully consider his past at all times, I also have to remember that he’s a 3 -year old.  A stubborn 3-year old with a strong personality who is working to make his mark in our family and in this world.  I will never know why he does everything he does, just like I will never know the exact reason Isaac acts the way he acts.

So like any good doctor, I find myself again assessing him, and wondering what I can do to make it all better.  I wade through his past and our relationship searching for answers, but at the same time, I have to remember that sometimes a diabetic just gets a cold.


Protected: As They Are Today February 17, 2011

Filed under: everyday life,Isaac,Matthew — Elizabeth @ 2:55 PM

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