Widows and Orphans

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. - James 1:26

US Adoption Site Photolisting

International Adoption Photolisting

These sites are just 2 of many, many sites. Adoption is not for everyone. But then, neither is birthing. My desire and hope is for you to get a mere glimpse of what orphans are up against.



Fate vs Destiny

I was watching one of my favorite shows, Tell Me You Love Me. One character runs into her old love at the very place where they broke up. She shares this with her therapist, who asks a question (as all therapists do,) "So you're saying this was destiny?"

Jamie thinks, then says, "No, more like fate."

This led me to wonder the difference: Destiny or Fate?

Destiny. Fate. Fortune. Kismet. Gam Zu Letova*. Amor Fati**.

I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.
- Friedrich Nietsche

Sounds romantic, but what is this saying? "Destiny" appears to be what is working out in a natural order of things. "Fate," like fatalism, is something that has come to be, that has happened. So Jamie believes it was inevitable that she and her love reunite, through a force beyond them. Nietsche, wants to love what happens to him, to understand all things as beautiful and thereby be able to create beauty.

There was a time when destiny implied Divine ordination, like Manifest Destiny. Kismet, from an Arabic word, has been filtered through a couple of languages and arrives in our language as something magical. It seems to have originally meant something as orderd by Allah. But as with all these words, the Divine has been stripped of Its role. Demoted, I guess. It's easier for us to accept a lame god, one that lets things happen, who we can change the mind of, that we can understand. A wimp. Then we'll give this emperor some new clothes by naming it Destiny. Fate. Fortune. Because, for some reason, we can understand a Power that only has Power to the extent that we want. I read a poem of sorts somewhere, that said something like this: I don't want a God that is strong and powerful, I only want 50 cents worth. Not enough to make me rich and fulfilled, but just 50 cents worth - just enough to hold in my hand and put away in my pocket when I want to.

It would be too hard to think of an All Knowing Power Who orders our lives for all things to work out well for those that love this Power. Can't wrap our head around that. Can't have that. A Power so much greater than us, eternal, loving. IF the Power is so much, well, shouldn't it be so that, we are not able to fully understand??

Again, we've thrown away the Creator for the created. What we created. Fate. Destiny. I think it the turtle who said "I have seen the enemy, and it is us."

* "this too is for the best"
** "love of one's destiny" whether good or bad


Theology with the Boo

We're drinking a new juice called "Paradise Blend."

Boo: Oma, what is Pawadise?
Oma: It's another word for Heaven.


Boo: Will we see Adam and Eve theh?
Oma: Yes! We will!

Boo: But not the wicked snake, wight?
Oma: Right.


Boo: Oma, what is the "Lake of Fire?"
Oma is stalling for time. This is not a phrase we banty about in our reformed household. How to be truthful and gentle. . . truthful and gentle.
Oma: Ummm, it's where you'll never see Jesus ever again.


Boo: Are they happy theh or what?
Oma: No, they are very sad and unhappy because they will never, ever see God.
Boo: Mmm! I like this juice!



Eighty Years

How do you think about a life? Does it start at conception? And if death is less than a hairbreadth away? Between here and there, what's in the middle, the creamy filling held by the sandwich cookies. Some days are so tedious, so disappointing you'd like to just cross it off the calendar. Some days are so glorious, you'd like a bucket-full more, please.

Eighty years. 29,200 days. Not counting leap years. My dad has been through 29,200 days.

We made what seems like a feeble gesture to celebrate his life. We held a party that got all four of us siblings and our children together for the first time in about 20 years.

There were mounds of fabulous food.

Soulful music by Monique Canniere and her guitarist partner.

Gorgeous flowers.

<><Beautiful grandchildren.

Loving friends.

It doesn't seem like enough. How do you honor the days, the years, the decades. . . the joys, the pains, the loves, the losses, the struggles, the victories?

I don't know. I can only say, Happy Birthday, dad.



Sympathy for the Devil*

I consider myself a pretty worldly sort. I've sown my wild oats and keep an eye out for cultural trends. Not a whole lot can shock me.

Today, I was shocked. Dismayed. Scared. I visited a MySpace page and found that this person, who I am related to, belongs to a bulletin board group called "F* Religion." You know, with 3 letters instead of the asterisk.

The irony of it is . . . and actually their naivete is, that everyone has Religion. They can pretend they don't have one by refusing to codify and organize it. Because, they'd actually have to THINK about it. Then they'd, you know, have to be HELD to it.

* title from a Rolling Stones song


Important News

Doesn't your child have a hundred questions a day for you?

A hundred times a day, Boo says, "Oma, guess what..?" or "Mom, I have to show you something." His enthusiam is unbounded. Isn't that the charm, the beauty, the innocence of a child? But isn't it also - truth be told - a bit wearying?

<><>Last week, Boo said, "Mom, I have to tell you something."

From the other room, I, distracted, said "Mmmhmm, what?"

"Mom, it's something really important."

A bit wearily, a bit impatiently I asked, "What?"

With a serious, six ear-old face, he looked up from his playing to say, "Mom, I really, really love you."



Lost in Translation

I have a pretty good life. No, I have an awesome life. HH is the love of my life and I am his. I have one child. Count 'em. One. Aaaaah. BUT. You all know what it's like to raise a child. Listening to their incessant droning. . I mean conversations. Answering their coutless meaningless. . I mean intriguing questions. About the minutea. . I mean the meaning of life.

My dad and his wife are visiting us from Korea. For 2 weeks. My dad is a robust 80, but his English skills are diminishing after 20 years back in Korea. And he has an accent. His wife doesn't speak English, but being an educated person can read and understand some. Boo, at 6 is yet unable to say his 'r's and has forgotten most of the little bit of Korean he used to know. My Scotch-Irish-Swiss-German HH knows about 15 Korean words.

So, in addition to my normal duties, I will be translating what Boo is saying to 'harabuji,' what 'harabuji' is saying to Boo, what 'halmunni' is saying to Boo, what Boo is saying to 'halmunni,' what 'halmunni' is saying to HH. . . .

Oooh my head hurts!



A Good Father

Our Father, Who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name. . .

I grew up in a milieu of sexism, with the background of the Women's Movement. (Not that either are gone.) I believe that women and men can be equally capable of doing most anything.

But I do not flinch at calling God "Father." I don't consider it sexist or biased or male-dominated. You may think it's easy because of my religious views, but I have had to search through to get where I am. Plenty of people of various religious stripes have problems with calling God "Father." They remember a father that was forceful, cruel or absent. They equate that word with sadness, pain or shame. Should they be made to call their God "Father" when they received such trauma? Some might say "How can he make me call him Father, when saying that word only evokes pain for me?" Some would say that God is neither woman nor man. . .that as spirit, as tenderness, God could and should be called "Mother." Wouldn't He understand?

I don't know why God says to say "Our Father." But for all of us who had difficult fathers, do we not know that a Father is supposed to be kind, loving, protective? Isn't that understanding deep in our souls? So, even if we had a tough dad, we know what the ideal dad is supposed to be. If we had a tough dad, it can be hard to really trust in God, a God that asks to be called Father.

Maybe instead of having a world-perspective, we should have a Heaven-perspective. Instead of putting the qualities of our earthly father onto the Heavenly Father, we should think on Him as the Perfect Father. . . the Father we never had, but now have. . . forever.



The Power of Positive Thinking, Part I

Wasn't it over 7 decades ago that this notion was brought to the public's attention by a famous Christian pastor named Norman Vincent Peale? It has become such a part of our social consciousness that I doubt many people know what his initial concept was about.

But for now, consider this:

" . . . whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things . . . "

- Philippians 4:8 [NKJV]



The Lighter Side of Me

Sometimes I wonder if you think I carry around a Bible, New Yorker and the APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders under my arm while drinking double-shot lattes. I should be carrying around a Bible to read it every chance I get. I wish I had the patience to read the New Yorker. I hope the APA's DSM becomes better. And I drink decaf. From Dunkin Donuts.

So, here are some other parts of me:

I love watching American Idol. Because secretly, I wish I were a performer. A smart, serious performer like Mary Chapin Carpenter. I wish I could stand on a stage a belt out a few. Which I cannot. I mean, atleast in a way that anyone would want to listen.

As you may have gathered from various things I've blogged about, I am on "this" side of 35. I subscribe to More magazine. It covers some of the frivolous issues that, let's say, Glamour does, but tend to be a notch more serious. They also feature real-life women, whether they are in the beauty industry or not. The women they feature do seem to have super-human qualities, no wrinkles and no cellulite. But honestly, they seem to do it to encourage us older women to take chances, be vital and live life to its fullest. The clothing is more upscale, modest and elegant. The articles more interesting and less appearance-obsessed than the other fashion mags.

I also stumbled upon She's Got the Look late one night on TVLand. It's America's Next Top Model for the over-35. The judges are serious and seem to understand which gender they are. The host, Kim Alexis (who happens to be a Christian, by the way) is to the point, not needing attention-grabbing drama. Even the Models' House drama is less catty and childish. You can watch all the episode in their entirety if you go on the website. These women really have a story to tell.

There you have it, the rest of the story. Sort of.



Second Class Citizen

Aren't you proud as an American to be a classless society?

But like all people, we learn to separate, to judge, to make decisions about who is like us and not. Whether we want to admit it or not. We can slice and dice in different ways: ethnicity, gender, finances, religion, speech, education. We see some as "less than," and others as being or having more.

When Bob Hope died at the age of 100, CNN's obituary said this:

"During the run of the show, Hope met nightclub singer Dolores Reade. They married on February 19, 1934, and eventually adopted four children: Linda (born in July 1939), Anthony (July 1940), Kelly (July 1946) and Nora (August 1946)."

CNN, BBC, The New Yor Times, Wikipedia all state that he and Dolores adopted 4 children, sometimes even listing the name of the orphanage! They don't say he is survived by 4 children, or had 4 children, but adopted 4 children. What is the point? The oldest of his children, Linda, was by then 64 years old. Bob Hope died at 100, and his eldest child was probably a grandmother herself. Yet she still could not be considered just his daughter, but had to be qualified as his adopted daughter. Or maybe it was important to announce to everyone that Bob and Dolores were infertile? Are they better people because they adopted? or did they simply want children like you and me and him and her?

Do you think of adopted children as not "real" children? Do you think that a birthed child and his adopted sibling aren't "real" brother and sister? Have you ever said of adoptive parents, that they don't have any children "of their own?" Is blood thicker than water?

"For he chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will. . ." - Ephesians 1: 4,5

". . .we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Romans 8: 23, 24A

Is my son my son? or is he a second-class citizen?



Wendy Goes By

After VBS today, I was in a hurry to get home for a 1:00 PM appointment. So I succumbed to buying Wendy's for lunch. Boo knew we needed to get home, so he asked,

"Are we just drive throughing?"

"Yes, honey, we are just drive throughing."

By the way, visit Dave Thomas' Foundation for Adoption website.




God gives us glimpses of Who He Is in ordinary ways. Certainly, God gave us the Word and the Spirit. But when we marry, and "two shall become one," we get a glimpse of the trinity, by experiencing the joining of two separate beings into one unit. When we have a child, we see how separate lives join together to form a family.

God has blessed women with the ability to "beget" within herself another being. In this gift, we get another glimpse into His Being. Though I have heard mothers say that the baby can seem like a stranger, surely the baby knows no such strangeness. He knows only to Be with her. He is no Id, no Ego, without her. In fact, he doesn't even know of "her," but merely Is.

In this cruel world of ours, sometimes that little being is torn away. In this civilized world, we do something called "adoption." Adoption is a wonderful thing, but were it not for the series of bad choices, or sequence of evils, it would not be necessary. But this "adoption," is surely grace from God to salve the wound of the tear.*

That little being doesn't need to learn to bond with his mother. In his mind, in his very being, he IS her. But my son, who was torn away three times, needed to learn to bond to me. We are now wonderfully bonded, but the scars are there, and I have to consider sometimes whether his stitches are tearing. We paid a painful price to get where we are, but like a birthing, we tore through the pain, and now he lays in my arms and heart as my son. More importantly, I lay in his heart as his mother.

Just as my son was torn from his earthly mother, we were torn from our Heavenly Father at the Fall. In His mercy, He provided a way for us to be adopted; adopted heirs to His Kingdom. How glorious! How amazing! He has created a way that allows us to re-create the bond to Him that was broken in the Fall. But not without a painful price. Blessedly, that painful price was paid by Jesus.

How painful it was for God to lose fellowship with Adam and Eve. But God longs to bond to us. To have the oneness, the connectedness that He had with Adam and Eve. In paradise. So, He went through the pain of wrenching His Son from Himself, to pay the price for our adoption. Does He live in your heart as your Father?
*pun intended


To Every Parent of Young Children

PLEASE READ THIS. It is so important, that I am posting this before I've had my morning coffee! (Even my 6 year old knows not to ask mommy anything before!)

It is an interview with famous pediatrician and author Dr. Sears. He has written a book called The Vaccine Book, Making the Right Decision for Your Child. I bet very soon, your local library will have it. . . or should.

This is a balanced, well-researched book which suggests there is a better way to administer vaccines so risks are reduced for our child. Each vaccine carries great help but also potential problems. . . as with most things. He's saying that grouping them my be overloading your baby's sytem and create a highter possibility of something going wrong.

I've always felt that when manufacturers say "it's safe," they are talking about their product only, whether they are pharmaceuticals or household products. What about their product within the context of everything else that we, and our children are exposed to? [pan coatings, clothing and shoe waterproofing, air freshners, fire retardent treatment, laundry bleach, insecticides on our food, toxic ingredients in our beauty products, etc.] That is a big fat NOPE. No consideration there. So when a pharmie says "this vaccine is safe," are they are saying it is considered "safe" when given independently on a perfectly healthy child? OK, y'all get where I'm going with this, right?

Edited Note: It is my understanding that contrary to what Dr. Sears says, there is still mercury in the vaccines. The government does not require disclosure in certain cases.


I've been keeping something from you.

HH and I graduated from the same high school. That's not the part I was keeping from "youns." [Yes, they really say that.] What I've been keeping from you, is that we went to our high school reunion several weeks ago.

I had an absolutely fabulous time. So, naval-gazer that I can be, I was wondering why I did. First of all, our graduating class had 1,014. Yeah, you read that right. My older brothers had even more - 1,200 I think.

The evening before the big event, 4 of us good friends got together to catch up. We have known
each other since we were 11 years old. Un. Be. Lievable. Enjoying that part of it is totally understandable. But I had great fun the next evening too, when there were over 200 of us. I was hugging and greeting people like we were long-lost best friends, when in fact, we were passing acquaintences or casual friends. We might have been in a class together, or a club or committee. In a class of over 1,000 and a school of over 3,000.

Am I that sentimental? No. Am I so superficial? Did I want to spite anyone? Were the popular girls now chubby so I could gloat? No, no and no. It's going back to some of the most awkward and insecure years of your life, but going back as a more mature and secure person. It's like Peggy Sue Got Married - Peggy Sue (played by Kathleen Turner) faints at her high school reunion and wakes up to her high school self with her high school steady (Nicholas Cage.) I got to do it over again too, in a way. Would I want to go back to being 17 again? NO. WAY. Should I make that clearer? Not that it was so terrible for me. In fact, I really liked high school. But I was in my adolescence and all the stuff that happens then was happening to me. But for a little bit, I could be the former me from back then without the teenage angst.

Which reunion was it? That part, I'll continue to keep from you. The number is big enough to frighten me. ;-)




The three of us decided to go out to dinner Saturday night. Yearning for Korean food, we drove the 40 minutes to the nearest place. We are seated in an empty section of the restaurant. A few minutes later, another family, who also seems to have an Only, is seated right next to us. This Only was a little girl about 9 years old. which I believe is old enough to have learned some manners.

In the middle of our meal, I hear a conversation like this:

Dad: Get your finger out of your mouth.
[Only Girl apparently complies. ]
Dad: Ugh, I'm not going to eat that after you stuck your finger in it!
OG: Why not?
Dad: You stuck your finger in your mouth then stuck it in there! Learn to use a tissue! Don't wipe it on my shirt!

Then, several minutes later, I hear this:

OG: Ewwwwwwwww!! Gross!
Dad: I cut the top off! What's the problem?
OG: Ewwwww!

OK, is this really inappropriate? First is the DAD totally gross and is the OG totally spoiled?? Maybe it's because I have a totally different perspective on food. I actually believe it's to nourish us and that we should be grateful for it. We, none of us in our entire extended family (on my side) would EVER say "Ewwwwwwww" about food. A dead skunk in your front yard, Ewww. Food? Never.

You don't like the dish, fine. Don't eat it. Save us the drama. And the total lack of appreciation that we are completely and totally blessed to have all sorts of wonderful foods available to us, everywhere, at anytime. Did you ever watch those Feed the Children ads where they are spooning out gruel? and how the children are clammering for it? I know, this sounds like the "there are starving children in India" comment your mom made to you. Well, you know, there ARE starving children in India. Your eating or not eating your dinner won't help those children, but you can show some appreciation that you're not starving.



Die Hard Patriots

It was comin' down pretty hard at the parade, but the crowd was as thick as other sunny years. Townies were settled in their spots in matching outfits, <>clapping for the veterans and cheering for the baton twirlers, while balancing a cigarette their hand and an umbrella in the crook of their necks.

Boo was more interested in the town square fountain, enjoying the freedom to get wet that the rain had given him.

This, is Americana.


Speaking of North Korea

My father is 80. He is the 6th of 7 children. He is the only sibling left. He lost 2 sisters years ago to illnesses. He lost an older brother and sister very recently. He has 2 other, older brothers that didn't make it south during the Korean War. He had.

The Korean War was 55 years ago. As the years went by, the family continued to do the math in their heads, wondering if those 2 could still be living, if a reunion were even remotely possible. When the series of reunions were being planned, our family submitted applications, but were turned down. Who knows why, but deep in my heart I think it was because those 2 are gone.

My dad, the little brother, now 80. He's the young boy in the middle row. Even though I am approaching 50, there are parts of my feelings for my older brothers that will never change. So, my dad, 80, the patriarch of the clan, must still feel like the little brother.
Is there a tiny bit of hope in his heart that perhaps, maybe, he'd hear word about his big brothers? How could they have survived the famines? The barenness? Even I, who never knew them, cannot bear the thought of giving up.

He's My Brother

Here's a way to really appreciate our country. For all its ills, for all its perversions, it's the best messed up place in the world. Just consider the alternative:

Have you caught the Where the Hell is Matt? craze?


I love this line: Matt calls North Korea "A sociopathic infant." But remember, those North Koreans, they're our people. They are our family. Literally and figuratively.

Happy Independance Day, America.



Thursday Thirteen - Patriotic Edition

I'm not a meme kinda girl, but I thought These are the Days had a good idea: to actually think through what I love about the U.S.

1. Handicap accessibility
2. Religious freedom
3. Multi-culturalism (meaning race, religion and culture)
4. Judeo-Christian ethics (it's still there. . . somewhere!)
5. Huge land mass (you're never wanting for places to go!)
6. The entrepreneurial spirit that results in great inventions and research
7. Individual freedom
8. The general idea that racism is wrong
9. Great healthcare
10. Innocent until proven guilty
11. Freedom of Speech
12. Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech
13. That Hillary and Obama are presidential candidates . . . finally.

As I was listing things, I realized some of the best things about us can also be the worst in us. Hmmm. . . another blog topic!



Vietnamese Food 101

These unbearably hot, sticky days make me want to:

a. stay in my air conditioned house forever
b. do absolutely nothing but. . .
c. eat Vietnamese food.

HH and I both LOVE Vietnamese food. We crave it. We dream about it. We'll drive hours for it. It is flavorful but light and fresh. We are filled physically and emotionally, without feeling weighed down. There are 2 terrific restaurants in Philly's Chinatown, right across 11th Street from each other. We prefer Vietnam Restaurant which is on the ground level, than Vietnam Cafe, which is on an upper floor, but you can't lose with either. We just wish they delivered!
Vietnam's weather varies along its long, narrow land, but the highs can be 90 while the lows are only around 55, with a monsoon season that can last 3 or 4 months. So, they might know a thing or two about what kind of food is most refreshing in these "saturation point" days. Vietnamese food has plenty of peanuts, red pepper, cilantro and lemon grass, so "pass" if those ingredients don't work for you. Recent studies indicate that lemon grass can be successfully used to treat drug resistant malaria and typhoid fever!
You'll want to start with some summer rolls. These are the healthier cousins to spring rolls, which are deep fried. We like the plain ones [pictured in the forground above] and the Jicama rolls [pictured in the background.] Jicama is a tuberous, starchy root native to Mexico, but popular in Vietnam. The jicama is crunchy and sweet, and balances well with the slivers of sweet Chinese sausage. Cut the rolls in half, put some sauce in the open half and . . . munch!
Next, the classic dish to try is Pho. I have this rule: if I go to a restaurant for the first time, I try to order whatever is a "classic" dish for that cuisine to assess their expertise. If I'm at a diner, I do eggs and home fries. If I'm at Thai, I do Pad Thai. Korean, then Bulgoki. Pho is rice noodles in a clear beef-based broth. You can order it with chicken, seafood or beef. It is served with fresh basil, bean sprouts, a lime wedge, jalapeno slices, "sriracha" hot sauce and brown hoisin sauce. You can choose to put any or all of these ingredients in [small photo below right.] I would definitely start with the bean sprouts and lime. Then taste the richness of the broth, which takes hours to make, simmered with cinnamon, ginger, cloves and cardomom.

I love mine with a bit of everything except the hoisin sauce, which I feel detracts from the complex flavors of the broth. I like to put the jalapenos in right away, allowing the hot oils to seep out in the steaming broth.
Mmmm. Have extra napkins. Not for spillage, but to wipe the "glow" off your brows.
[Other Food Course blogs to come!]


Color My World

Over at Kimchi Mamas, she recommends watching Multiracial in America, documentry-style, first-person shorts of how life is changing in the US. Life can be just plain hard; but it can be even harder being unconventional, or in the forefront of change. Black with a white spouse, brown with a yellow spouse. I'm yella with a white spouse, and adopted a yella kid. Even Kermit said, "It's not easy being green."