This Explains a Lot

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F is for Finalization #AtoZChallenge

A to Z Letter FWe finalized our adoption on March 6, 2014, exactly seven days before our home study expired.  Three matches, two disruption, and one baby boy in eighteen months (less one week)…it seemed to fly by some days, and other days it seemed like an eternity.

We brought him home on September 28, 2013.  He was four days old, and we were out of practice with all things baby.  Never mind that…it really is like riding a bike…you don’t forget how to pedal, but you do forget how tired it makes you when  you’re pedaling 24/7.

Our post-placement visit happened on October 24, 2012, on his one month birthday…also the day we requested the finalization application from our local juvenile court office.  We got it, filled it out, sent it in (along with our identification documentation), and waited.  The paralegal assigned to our case called fairly shortly thereafter to schedule an appointment to sign the documents and present (yet again) our certified identification information.

name againSeriously, making sure we are who we say we are is a multi-faceted endeavor.

Once everything was signed, the juvenile court office could start requesting the documents from our agency.  Since our entire file had been previously presented to CPS, it puzzles me why it could not be then passed to juvenile court, but I don’t work in government (Thank God!), and I clearly don’t understand the convoluted, complicated way that government works.  But I digress…  The day we signed our application was also the day that our paralegal submitted a motion to expedite our paperwork, since our home study expiration date was looming…in four(ish) months…which in government time, is basically tomorrow.

We also got the sheaf of paperwork from our agency to fill out (again).  Here again I wonder why, as they had all the information already, and CPS had received it once already, and the process could have been expedited by eliminating this repetition.  But I digress…

In the midst of this, we went out of town, forgot to take the paperwork with us, so came home to 1) a notice that our court date was set for March 6, 2014, and 2) our paperwork needed to be filled out and returned to our agency YESTERDAY.  It was also at this point (less than three weeks prior to our court date) that the agency told us that CPS must approve us again.  I thought that was behind us, but no.  So I scrambled, got the paperwork completed that day, and it was hand delivered by a sweet, sweet friend that evening.

When I called our agency the next day, I spoke with the president/director.  If there is anything you might not want to leave a lasting impression with clients, it is a snippy attitude from the big boss, but that is exactly what happened.  She confirmed receipt of the paperwork, but stated that it was unlikely that we would make our court date, that we would probably have a continuance, because it was not probable that CPS would rubber stamp our paperwork in time for our hearing.  This ticked me off.

Just a note…good customer service needs to start at the top.
Giving clients – in particular, paying adoptive parent clients – attitude,
right at the end of your otherwise good relationship with them, does not
bode well for a recommendation from us to other potential adoptive parents.  

world-kindnessI asked her if there was a contact person at CPS that she, or we, could call to try and rush the paperwork through so we would not end up with a continuance, which would force us to renew our home study (and potentially cost us a lot of additional money).  No, she did not have a contact person.  What about a phone number?  No, CPS doesn’t have a phone.  Yes, those words were actually uttered to me.  I know she meant that they did not have access by phone to CPS, but seriously…some basic kindness would have been nice.

angelHere is where the angel of a paralegal (whom I previous mentioned) came into play.  She did have a contact number.  She could call and try to push the file to the top of the pile and get our rubber stamp.  She could and she did. Within a couple of days.

Our hearing went without a hitch.  Our parents were able to attend, along with our birth mom’s social worker, with whom we had become friends by this time.  It was quick, and fun, and our (now two) sons got to sit in the judge’s chair for pictures.  We are finished, and this month we will get a new birth certificate with his new name and my husband and me listed as his parents.

There are many, many, many things our agency did right.  This last detail, the one that would make our final memory of them a positive one, was not one of those things they did right.  I hope this is not the case for any other adoptive family.  Ultimately it doesn’t matter, because the outcome was perfect, but it is part of our story.

gotcha day

 

Being Liked is Overrated | RELEVANT Magazine

f you live trying to be liked by everyone, you will live a boring life.
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/whole-life/being-liked-overrated#kqCoR041c6gdpEQm.99
f you live trying to be liked by everyone, you will live a boring life.
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/whole-life/being-liked-overrated#kqCoR041c6gdpEQm.99
If you live trying to be liked by everyone, you will live a boring life
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/whole-life/being-liked-overrated#kqCoR041c6gdpEQm.99

Reblogged from Relevant Magazine.

One of my earliest memories of worrying what people thought of me came in second grade.

Mrs. Reed was the meanest teacher I’d ever had. All my other teachers had given us hugs and seemed to know how we were feeling, even if we never said. In Mrs. Reed’s second-grade classroom, little blue Smurfs lined the wall, each of their white hats displaying a name. Three little magnetic buttons lined their tummies. Anyone who got in trouble was instructed to remove a button from their respective Smurf.

The first button cost them five minutes of recess. I don’t remember what happened when you lost all three;back then they could have probably locked you in a closet or something terrible.

I never spoke out in class. I didn’t want the attention. I especially didn’t want to get in trouble. But this day, Brent, who wanted to be my boyfriend, was sitting across from me kicking me under the table. So I kicked him back and told him to stop.

Mrs. Reed looked up, “Jennie, get a button.”

I’ve spent most of my life terrified of the invisible thoughts of a few people, and for most of my life that fear has paralyzed me.

The room started spinning. This had never happened to me. I stood up in front of everyone and began my painful walk to strip my Smurf of his pride.

Recess came, and as the class filed out, I stayed stuck to my seat for five eternal minutes. I wanted to be under my seat. Mrs. Reed was grading papers and not even looking at me. I was sure she was too disappointed to acknowledge me anymore. I felt like I was getting a fever. Some disease spreading through me.

It wasn’t the last time I’d have that feeling.

My brain is not so creative. It comes back to the very same fears that it had when I was in second grade. Smurf buttons and recess has turned into amazon reviews and status updates and criticism about my work or the way we are raising our kids.

I’ve spent most of my life terrified of the invisible thoughts of a few people, and for most of my life that fear has paralyzed me.

See, fear isn’t a small thing—we are wasting our lives on it.

In the last few months, I have been thrown in the deep end of leadership, launching and leading an organization with a team of gifted brilliant female leaders called IF:Gathering. Feelings of pressure, adrenaline, failure, joy, conflict and paralyzing fear seem to all bounce around in me on a given day. Because here is the thing about leading something: You will be loved and you will be hated.

The irony here is several years ago, due to my terrible case of people-pleasing and a rather strong fear of public humiliation, I existed entirely on the back row of life. I sat safely in the dark, away from stages, away from criticism, away from helping people, my gifts tucked neatly under my chair in the name of humility.

So as one facing her two worst fears, being hated and/ or humiliated, let me tell you what I have learned:

do you want to be likedReceive Criticism

If you want to lead well, just never defend yourself again. Take it. Jesus actually meant it when He said, “To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.” Luke 2:28 Because it is the very most freeing way to live. (note: I did not say it is an easy way to live.) I remember early on as I I learned this one the hard way and let’s just say it led me to my next lesson.

Humility is Often Closely Connected to Humiliation

When we’re sitting alone in the dark on back rows, we’re really only faking humility. Humility is built in battle, in the moments when you are running and fighting and leading and then you fall and people see and know you aren’t God. At those moments, you remember you desperately need God.

If you want to lead well, just never defend yourself again. Take it.

Love the Fear

As a child, I hated feeling nervous. My mom used to say, “it’s just butterflies.” So I sat in the back of life for decades, avoiding “butterflies.” I successfully avoided nausea—and the very best parts of life.

If you ever want to do anything of significance, you have to learn to love the sick tense feeling in your belly instead of hate it. It doesn’t seem to ever leave me these days. So I am making the butterflies my friends.

People Liking You is Overrated

If you live trying your best to be liked by everyone, you are living a boring life. So just quit. Get over it.

Do you want to be liked or do you want to actually do something significant with this life? Let pleasing God become bigger than pleasing people.

A few weeks ago, I stood in front of tens of thousands of women hungry for God. We hosted our first gathering, and today I consider all I would have missed if I had fought just to be liked.

The back row was comfortable, it was easy, it was safe. But I am over comfortable, easy and safe. Especially when forever stretches out before us and people’s lives and freedoms are at stake. I suggest we get on with it. Let’s risk something for God’s glory and for other’s good.

Face your worst fears, friends, and they start to go away.

via Being Liked is Overrated | RELEVANT Magazine.

Regina Brett’s 45 life lessons and 5 to grow on | cleveland.com

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.

It is the most-requested column I’ve ever written. My odometer rolls over to 50 this week, so here’s an update:

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.

16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.

17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

36. Growing old beats the alternative – dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.

38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

41. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

42. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.

43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

45. The best is yet to come.

46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

48. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

49. Yield.

50. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

To reach this Plain Dealer columnist:

rbrett@plaind.com, 216-999-6328

via Regina Brett’s 45 life lessons and 5 to grow on | cleveland.com.

Into All the World

So many thoughts percolating in my head today.  Yesterday’s sermon at our church (King of Kings PCA) was the second in a series of sermons on the Great Commission, the famous passage in Matthew 28 where believers are commissioned for the cause of Christ.

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Water Buffalo protecting their young

In analyzing how modern day Christians often respond to this missional call, our pastor described a “circling of wagons” behavior exhibited by water buffalo, in which the males would circle together, horns facing out, putting them at their maximum advantage in protecting the rest of the herd against potential danger.  The females & young, those vulnerable to threats, were protected by the males, who had the strength and the weapons to successfully fend off predatory animals seeking to harm them.  He related this defensive posture to the way so many believers – and groups of believers – venture into the world, aggressively defensive of our faith, and seeking to battle those who would undermine us.  This runs completely counter to the example of Christ, and counter to what we have been commissioned to do.  How are we to “make disciples of all nations” if we go out in the world with guns blazing, critical and judgmental of the very people we are commissioned to disciple, setting ourselves apart as more holy, more pious, more Christian than anyone around us?  The answer is we can’t.

Even more critically, we aren’t more holy, more pious, more Christian.  We can’t be, if we are holding ourselves up to be standard bearers of what it means to be those things.

Who are we to lead with our weapons of judgment, piety, legalism, and more, and to expect to draw people to Christ when the image we reflect is so undesirable, so off-putting.  If that is how we approach the world, then perhaps an examination of our own hearts is warranted.  Recall in Luke 10 the manner in which Jesus sends out the “seventy-two others” to speak in his name.

10 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two[a] others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11  ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

17  The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20  Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

We are to enter the world as a lamb into a den of wolves…gently, quietly, without aggression, and knowing that the Lamb, whose blood was shed on our behalf, will protect us as we carry the Gospel of Christ into all the world.