Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Irresponsibility Suits Me (part 3)

I don't really know if everyone gets to a point in their life where they begin to wonder if they are doing life right, but it happened to me as I sat alone in a farmhouse.  Carrie and I had just moved close to her job as a teacher in Littlefield, TX.  We rented a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere.  Our closest neighbor was half a mile down a dirt road.  Our second closest neighbor was over a mile away.  I had attempted to find a job in Littlefield with no luck.  Questions began to creep into my mind and then they began to become the central focus of my attention.  What is the meaning of life,?  Why am I here?  What is my purpose?  And, so there I was sitting in the farmhouse wondering how long this particular chapter would last.  The answer was nine months.  That's how long it took for me to find a job in Lubbock, TX.

Working in Lubbock was exciting.  This bustling city of 200,000 people was six times larger than any place I had lived since the age of five. We moved to a house  (OK shack) on a lake just outside of town.  We spent lots of time money (and beer) really fixing the place up, and if I might say so myself it turned out to be a really nice place to relax.  I opened a homebrew supply shop and met lots of friends who loved to brew and drink beer like me.  For the next three years life was good again (by worldly definitions).  Carrie was making a good living.  Our house on the lake was paid for and we had little debt.  I was hanging out with my friends getting paid to drink beer and pretty soon those troubling questions went away.  I owned and operated Lubbock Homebere Supply for three years, and for most of that time I really had fun.

You can only push back so much against those nagging meaning of life questions.  It was like something or someone was gently asking me if I was satisfied with what my life represented.  The answer kept coming back.  There has to be more to life than seeking continuous hedonistic enjoyment.
Perhaps I think too much, or perhaps I am just like everyone else, perhaps someone has placed a void or vacuum in our heart that can only be filled with the divine.  I'm not saying that everyone must eventually fill this hole, but I am saying that it must be filled in order for one to feel whole.  So after many years of putting it off, I finally decided to ask Christ to come fill my hole, and He did. 

I didn't become a completely different person overnight however the process had begun.  I can trace it back to a bright sunny morning in April of 1996.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Irresponsibility Suits Me (part 2)

Responsibility requires a cause and it requires sacrifice.  When you are living to please yourself there is no need for responsibility.  However, when someone else comes into your life and you suddenly discover that you are in love.........well that screws everything up.  That is exactly what happened in April of 1987.  Staying true to myself, I was playing hookie from my job, which was easy to do because I totally hated it.  I didn't go to work because it was Greek Week and I wanted to go to a party.  Had I been a particularly responsible individual I would have graduated the previous spring.  If I had been even a little responsible, I would have been at work.  Instead I was at a party meeting the person who would later become my wife.  This goes to show that sometimes irresponsibility pays off.

I fell in love with Carrie almost at first sight.  Not really having any experience caring for anyone else besides myself, I continued to live life pretty much the same as I always had.  However, it did not take me long to realize that for the first time in my life I had acquired a cause .  That cause was to  (1) get Carrie to love me back and (2) keep her around as long as possible.  In order to accomplish that, I had to make (gasp) sacrifices.  Anyone who has been in love knows what I'm talking about.

Within two years Carrie and I were married.  The following year I finally graduated with a degree in Psychology.  I got a job with an adult vocational rehabilitation company.  Within two years I had 14 people working for me.  Suddenly, I was responsible (what happened).  I got a credit card, Carrie and I bought our first car, and a house.  Oh, my gosh what happened!  We were real adults!  No way! 

I had spent the 1980s irresponsible and aimless and though fun, towards the end it left me feeling empty.  That space was partially filled when I fell in love with my wife. Carrie and I really enjoyed our life together, just the two of us.

During the 1990s I slowly began to understand what society considered to be a responsible lifestyle.  It goes something like this:
get an education
get married
find a good job
make a lot of money
pay your taxes
buy a house, a car, a boat, a membership to something, and anything else that you can afford
vote (preferably Republican)
start a family
raise them responsibly
go to church so that your kids will learn how to be good people
send them to college
save for retirement
purchase a good life insurance policy
buy a house on the lake to go with the boat
golf and fish
be a grandfather
and then finally, die, making sure to leave a significant amount of money for your wife, kids and grandkids.

And there you have it, the American dream and the most responsible lifestyle imaginable.

I'm not saying that Carrie and I were on the fast track to responsibility (aka. the American Dream) detailed above, but we had plenty of time and money to do all of the things we enjoyed, and we were moving down that list.....sort of.  Yet I began to sense there was something missing and it was during this period of time that I began to wonder if the chase for the American Dream was all there was to life.  Was there more to life than achieving perfect responsibility? 

Yep, there was something.  I sensed it, another relationship perhaps?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Irresponsibility Suits Me (part 1)

I was raised in a Methodist family where church attendance was compulsary.  My parents wanted me to be the best person that I could be and  I suppose in their minds regular church attendance would facilitate their agenda.  I hated church, especially in high school.  Getting up for church was not my idea of a good start to the day.  Getting doused with ice water was an even worse proposition, and once my mother proved that she was willing to use such a tactic to get my carcass out of bed I began to see the light.  Forcing a high school kid to go to church with a glass of frozen water is no way to facilitate a relationship with the Holy. 
I moved off to college when I was 17.  I wouldn't walk into a church for eight years.  During that time my theological education was mostly influenced my experiences at the Sigma Nu house.  I was an enthusiastic member of the fraternity and never missed a Friday or Saturday revival meeting.  There, my brothers and I spent countless hours discussing and solving the problems of the world. Our inspiration of course was provided by the likes of such visionaries as Adolph Coors, Frederic Miller and Augustus Busch.  Very rarely did our intellectual discussions ever stray into sectarian ground.  Communion of grape juice and oyster crackers was replaced by Miller High Life and Allsups burritos.  On Sundays I opted for the comforts of the Church of the Latter Day Mattress.  During my first 5 years in college (I was there for a total of 8) I never let other resposibilities such as going to class, or part time jobs interfere with my hedonistic lifestyle.  As a result my grades suffered and I rarely had  money to put into the Hat of Offering as it was passed around the house.  My life may have had no meaning or direction but I was having too much fun to notice, much less care.  The point about all of this is to show that I was a very self centered individual and that I lived for the moment.  In short, I was irresponsible. 

That word, responsible, has been an unspoken theme throughout my life.  My father, an airforce pilot, certainly bought into the military structure that was his life.  Both of my parents were concerned about my lack of motivation  My mother began pressuring me to get a part time job several months before I even reached the legal age for employment.  They were constantly sharing their concern with  me about my poor grades and there was no debate as to whether I was going to go to college.  Simply put, my parents were insistant that I achieve all of those things that society uses to measure success.  They wanted me to grow up and be a responsible adult, at which time they could say to themselves "Our work here is complete, we have raised a responsible son".  Who could blame them, isn't that what all parents want?  The problem is what exactly does the word responsible mean?  By who's standard are we measured?  How do we decide whether or not we are acting in a responsible manner?  Well it didn't really matter at this point in my life because I would have been labeled irresponsible according to pretty much anyone's standards.  However, the meaning and standard of the word responsibility would remain a theme up to this day.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Why this Blog

About twenty years ago I spent six weeks as a car salesman.  I had just abandoned the masters degree in counselling that I was working on and really needed a job.  I convinced the dealer that I could sell cars, so he hired me.  Clearly, I was mistaken.  I didn't realize it at the time but I wasn't succsesful nor would I ever be due to the fact that I didn't believe in the product or the process.  Instead, I just quit and decided that I wasn't a salesman.  Twenty years later I have come to realize that I do have a product that I believe in so very much that I want to share it and for free.  The product is Fatherhood. and not just fatherhood but Adoptive Fatherhood.  With that in mind the goal of this blog is twofold, first to inform and secondly to persuade. 

There are hundreds of websites that you can go to for information about adoption, and I will certainly provide links to several of those sites over the weeks and months to follow.  Some of those sites will tell you about the 65 million and counting orphans living (sometimes dying) around the world.  You can learn about the events that cause so much suffering in these children, such as wars, disease, famine etc.  You can learn about domestic adoption, foreign adoption, foster care, and adoption agencies etc.  However, with this blog my goal is to create a window into which you can view my experience as the father of four (and counting) adoptive children.  I'm not doing this because I think we are the most interesting or entertaining family, but rather I want to share with you the joy that is Adoptive Fatherhood.

I'm going to be up front with you the reader and say that once I have informed you about adoptive parenting I hope to convince you to get more involved in the lives of orphaned children.  I hope that you will be moved to support an orphanage or a ministry that works with orphans.  Perhaps you know or will meet a family who can use your moral or financial support as they raise their adoptive children.  But my biggest hope for this blog is that at least one family will read it and take the plunge into adoption.  My wife and I have taken the road less travelled and we have been blessed beyond our wildest dreams.  I think that's what happens when you trust in Christ and step out of the boat.