Monday, December 31, 2012

Epidemic

New post!  I know that you, my two faithful readers, are so excited that you can't stand it.  Try to contain your enthusiasm so you can focus on the next few paragraphs of my rambling. 

Today, boys and girls, I'm going to start with two definitions.  Why?  So I can wow you with my vocabulary skills and show off how smart I am.  (Yeah, right!).  But seriously, onto the definitions.

Definition #1: Pornography - the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement.

Definition #B (just seeing if you're paying attention): Epidemic - affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time. 

Pornography is an epidemic.  It's ruining lives, tearing apart marriages and destroying families.  More people than we want to admit are suffering from some sort of an addiction to it.  Some don't even realize it.  Some want to stop and can't.  We talk about other addictions without flinching; alcoholism, drug abuse, hoarding and gambling just to name a few.  We even have television shows that deal with some of them - Hoarders; Doctor Drew's Celebrity Rehab.  But not pornography.  It's uncomfortable and awkward to talk about.  We prefer to just sweep it under the rug and act like it isn't a problem.  But it is.  I am willing to bet you that many of the people that you know are struggling with pornography right now.  They are hiding in the dark, logging onto the internet in a dark room somewhere to get their fix.  They are your son, your Dad, your friend, your neighbor, your teacher, your pastor, your favorite athlete, your husband, your wife, your girlfriend or boyfriend.  It's an epidemic people!  It needs to be dealt with.  But until we are willing to have a conversation about it, it's not going to go away.  Just like any other addiction, it can and does control your life. 

Some people will disagree with me strongly on this topic.  And that's okay.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion.  Some think 'it's okay - you're just looking' or 'pornography is normal - everyone looks at it sometimes'.  Those are the things we tell each other and ourselves to keep this topic at bay.  Sexual images are everywhere we look.  You can't watch television or go to a movie without some sexual innuendo or image being thrown in your face.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I'm no prude.  But by the same token, I recognize the damage pornography can do and does.  It's tearing lives to shreds. 

Have you been there?  Sitting alone in your house surfing the internet, wrestling away the thoughts, telling yourself you aren't going to do it again?  Or after you do, that this is the absolute last time?  Guys, it's time to face this head on.  If you are struggling with porn, I sincerely doubt that you can deal with it and stop on your own.  I suppose it's possible, but I doubt it. You need to tell someone - someone close to you who will hold you accountable.  It's going to be one of the toughest conversations you've ever had to have.  But it has to happen - you have to step out of the darkness and into the light.  Once you do, an enormous weight will be lifted from your shoulders.  Find a person you can trust and talk to about it, someone you can call if you need to.  Get some software that reports every questionable web page you go to, and have it email your accountability partner that list of websites every time you are on the computer.  XXX Church is an excellent website and they have many tools that you can use, some free, to help in the fight.  We should be meeting in our churches to talk about ways to step up the fight.  We should be talking to our children, our families, our friends about this.  There is strength in numbers. 

If you are reading this, and you are struggling, please please please talk to someone about it.  That is the first step.  Talk to me about it if you need to.  Just do it. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Just For A Laugh

It's been a rough few days.  So who needs a laugh?!?!  I did, so I went out and found a video of one of my favorite comedians, Brian Regan.  If you haven't heard of him, check this out.  I hope it provides a much needed laugh.  Click the link below.

Brian Regan - Emergency Room

Happy 8 day! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Focus

Right now, the news and our thoughts and prayers continue for Newtown, Connecticut.  There are many discussions right now, from gun control, mental health issues, security in schools, trying to figure out why the shooter did what he did, etc.  I think those are all important discussions to be had, I really do.  But right now, I really don't want to hear any of it.  I respect those that do, and if they want to, that is fine.  But I just don't.

The first thing I thought of when I heard about this tragedy was the little children in that school on that day.  It didn't seem real, even from all the way across the country here in the Midwest.  My son is nearly 3, and will be heading to pre-school before we know it.  I really wanted to leave work, drive to my in-laws and just hold him in my arms, tell him that I love him, and not let go.  I cannot imagine, nor do I want to try, what these past few days have been like for the parents, families and friends of the young children who died.  Or for the children from Sandy Hook who survived it.  Who knows what awful things they saw, heard, and will remember for the rest of their lives.  The teachers and staff who were at the school, all heroic in a moment when there was no time to think.  Some of them died as well.

In the middle of all of this, watching news report after news report, reading facebook post after facebook post, combing website after website for information on this absolute tragedy - the thought that keeps coming into my head is simple.  This is a time for us to come together.  As families, as communities, as a nation, as people.  We need to lift up the town of Newtown in our prayers - they need them now more than ever.  We need to hug our kids and tell them we love them.  We need to stop taking each other for granted and remember that life is so short.  Life is finite.  It ends.  Sometimes we live our lives like it doesn't.  This sounds so cliche', but there is so much truth to it - the world needs love, and more of it.  Hug your kids and tell them you love them.  Tell the people in your life that you care about how you feel about them.  Do things to let them know they matter to you.

Also, pray for teachers, educators, parents, schools and anyone working with children.  There are some tough questions that are going to be asked, and some difficult discussions to be had.  Pray that God gives those folks the right words to say to help them through this dark time in our country.

I had the privilege of leading worship at my church this past Sunday, along with a wonderful group of people.  As I looked out into the seats at the faces of people who were there, there was just this heaviness and sadness.  This tragedy has had an impact on everyone.  It's hard to wrap our minds around what happened.  But, it was there that, as we worshipped and praised God, the air became maybe just a little bit lighter, and hope started to creep in.  I could see it in people's faces, some singing, some raising their arms, some crying, some closing their eyes, some standing in silence.  There is a hope greater than any we can possibly imagine.  For those that died in Newtown, I believe they are already experiencing it.

There Will Be A Day

Revelation 21:4 "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Where's The Elevator?!?

32 floors.  532 steps. Why would anyone want to walk, run, crawl or climb 32 floors?

Yes, folks, I've lost my marbles.  I decided to register for the 2013 Fight For Air Climb at the Springfield Hilton.  A few friends I know have done this in the past, and I've always wanted to try it.  Plus, a good portion of the donations go toward the American Lung Associations fight for air.  (If you want to donate, check out my personal page at http://action.lung.org/site/TR/Climb/ALAUM_Upper_Midwest?px=5076562&pg=personal&fr_id=6440).

Some of the people I've talked to about this assume it will be easy for me.  Those people are remembering that I have been an avid runner and have run 5 marathons.  But it's apples and oranges.  Running a road race and stair climbing are two completely different animals.  Even when I was in peak condition during training for a marathon, climbing stairs was still difficult.  Not to mention the fact that my running days have been all but over for the past couple of years, with the exception of an occasional 2-3 mile run.  I miss it.  So when I saw this race pop up on someone's Facebook page a couple of weeks ago, I got the itch.  Yesterday I signed up.  So there's no turning back now.

I have no idea what to expect, or what I'm about to put my body through.  But I look forward to learning more about this form of exercise.  I walk up the stairs at work (6 floors) every day, so I guess I'm about 1/5 of the way into shape.  Seems like I have a LONG way to go.

Wish me luck!



Thursday, December 6, 2012

Patience

Patience: bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint.

On the outside I'm tall, bald, have facial hair, and maybe even seem a little menacing at times.  But I if this blog teaches you one thing about me, it's that deep down, I'm a big sap.  I love being a Daddy!  If you know me at all, are ever on my Facebook page, or read this blog, you need to know that about me.  Heck, if you never read my blog and only see the title, you know this about me.  It is another layer to who I am.  I post a ton of pictures of my son on my Facebook page.  Talking about my son is something you'll find me doing on a regular basis.  Some may think I do it too often.  But, to be frank, I don't care.  I waited a long time to be a Daddy, and the excitement that comes with finally getting to be one cannot be contained.  In fact, I do not want to contain it.  I honestly wasn't sure that it would ever happen.

Patience.

My wife, Leigh, and I were married in the Fall of 1999.  It didn't take too long for us to start exploring the topic of having children.  We had conversations about it.  Did we want to have children?  How many?  Were we financially stable enough to start trying?  We got pretty excited about the idea of being parents, and so we decided we would stop 'not trying'.  We were going to start a family, and the idea of that both scared and excited me.  But I was ready.

Patience.

To describe our journey from that point on would make for one mighty long blog post.  In fact, it might be long enough for a novel.   But this is not the time or the place to get into all of the details of that.  To summarize what happened in those ten years doesn't seem to do it justice.  But I will attempt to.  We tried for a few years, both on our own and with the help of some great medical professionals.  These were some of the most trying years of our lives, especially for Leigh.  We experienced the dreaded 'Two Week Wait', only to find out over and over that it didn't work.  We (mostly Leigh) were tested, poked, prodded, stuck with needles, etc all in the name of trying to have a baby.  Pride is something that kind of has to go out the window in the middle of this process.  You just put your heads down and decide that you are going to do everything in your power to have a child.  At one point, we got the wonderful news that Leigh was pregnant, only to find that we'd lost the baby 6 weeks later, before even knowing if it was a boy or a girl.  After some time went by, we tried a few more times, with no success.  Leigh was tired - physically and emotionally exhausted.  I began to worry about the toll this was all taking on her.  At one point, due to medical complications, some issues came up and it was possible if we continued that she could be in a bad way.  I was not willing to let that happen.  So we began to talk about whether or not we should stop trying.  In the end, the physical and emotional demands of this 'process' became too much, and we made the very difficult, painful decision to stop trying.

Patience.

Throughout this time in our lives, people would broach the subject of adoption with me.  I would tell them time and time again that I wasn't interested in going that route.  That I wanted a child of 'my own'. Obviously, that was my lack of knowledge about adoption talking.  I had tunnel vision at that time.  At one point, though, a wonderful woman by the name of Michelle McGowan (inhishandsorphans.org) told us about an Adoption Conference that was going to be held at our church.  We decided that it wouldn't hurt to just do some research on it and see what we might learn about it.  Eventually, that led to us deciding to pursue international adoption from Vietnam.  At that time, Vietnam was a country with many orphanages, and adoptions were taking about a year on average from start to finish.  We were very close, near the front of the 'line' to receive our referral/match, when we received the terrible news that the government in Vietnam had made the decision to no longer allow international adoptions from their country.

Patience.

At that point we started to really wonder whether or not it was meant to be for us to be parents.  People were suggesting different things to us to try, but we just weren't sure if we were prepared to dig in again and go through another 'process', more paperwork, more waiting, only to experience more heartbreak.  We were looking at different programs, different websites, trying to decide if we were really done.  One day, I stumbled upon the website for Catholic Charities infant adoption program.  We met with a woman there, got the application, and really drug our feet in completing it.  Around the end of the year (2009), we finally decided to complete it.  Again, all we could do was wait.

Patience.

In March 2010, we got a call.  A birth family wanted to meet us.  They liked our biography/profile.  We weren't really sure what this would look like, but we were all in.  So we set up a day to meet with the birth family.  The birth Mom was due in March!  So time was of the essence.  The rest is, as they say, history. Will was born on March 22 of that year.  We got to meet him the very next day.  He has been an answer to more prayers than you can imagine, a HUGE blessing in our lives and the lives of those around us.  His smile lights up the room.  His laughter warms our hearts every day.  Watching him learn and grow is exciting.  I treasure every moment I have with him.

Patience.

My favorite times are when I am with my family.    We spend most of our evenings at home, playing, building forts, reading books, playing with Hot Wheels (I love Hot Wheels!), and watching lots and lots of childrens' television.  Some might call our lives boring.  To them I would say, this is the life we've been waiting for, and we wouldn't have it any other way.  Will was absolutely worth the wait.  So if I post too many pictures of him or talk about him too much, I believe I'm entitled to.  *GRIN*  Being a Daddy has made me realize that I'm capable of a love that I didn't even know I had in me.  I am so grateful to God for bringing Will into our lives.  He was and is in control.

Patience.

I'll end with a poem I found awhile back that I have posted in my office at work.

'Walk alongside me, Daddy
and hold my little hand.
I have so many things to learn
that I don't yet understand.

Teach me things to keep me safe
from dangers every day.
Show me how to do my best
at home, at school, at play.

Every child needs a gentle hand
to guide them as they grow.
So walk alongside me, Daddy.
We have a long way to go."

I love you more than you will ever know, Little Man.

#lovebeingadaddy