Wednesday, January 30, 2008

2003 Parenting Challenge -- Thomas
2004 Parenting Challenge -- Lily
2008 Parenting Challenge -- baby brother? or baby sister?

We are officially waiting. We will spend all day Friday and all day Saturday in an adoption agency-required parenting class. We could wait a month for our coming child; we could wait a year. Please pray for the mother who is contemplating the future for her child. She is on my mind this morning -- whoever she is -- and I continue to struggle with this complex relationship that is adoption.

Baby #3! I am nervous and excited. Please pray for us as we prepare this MAJOR change in our family.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Picturing Faith by Colleen McDannell.

A stunning book that follows the WPA photographers and their documentation of daily religious life in America during the Great Depression. Another of my husband's comp books. I don't know how he's been able to get through so many dense books in such a short period of time.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Adam Pertman, Executive Director
617-332-8944 or 617-763-0134

Hollee McGinnis, Policy Director
212-925-4089 or 646-263-9236


NEW YORK, Feb. 23, 2006 - The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute today expressed its gratitude to the Parisian Division of Saks Incorporated for halting the sale of dolls for "adoption," saying the action showed that "people in business aren't always concerned with only the bottom line."

The Institute has spearheaded an effort to end the doll "adoption" campaign by the manufacturer and the retailers who participated in it. Parisian is the only company to date to respond to the Institute's initiative.

"Thank you for meeting with us and for your concern," said a letter from Parisian to Executive Director Adam Pertman, After reviewing the issues raised by the Institute, it added, "we have decided to remove references to adoption from our process. …

"As we originally discussed, our intent has been to create a positive experience for our customers related to their dolls," the letter continued, "and we never intended to offend or demean the seriousness of adoption."

Pertman said he was heartened by and grateful for Parisian's action. "It shows two things: that people in business aren't always concerned with only the bottom line, but can also show their regard for deeply important issues; and that advocates for families and children can have a real, on-the-ground impact."

The Institute launched its effort late last year, arguing that the sale of dolls through "Newborn Nursery Adoption Centers" wasn't meant to cause anyone harm, but was nevertheless problematic because it was "based on antiquated, discredited perceptions of adoption." The sales concept was devised by Lee Middleton Dolls and is used by other stores including FAO Schwartz. The Institute's concerns about it included:

* It implicitly eliminates key participants in the adoption process - i.e. the women and men who give life to the babies, and who in infant adoption today typically choose the new parents for their children.
* It suggests adoptive parents shop for babies as they do for products and perpetuates damaging myths about how adoption works - including a notion that adopted children are commodities.
* By furthering an inaccurate portrayal of adoption, it risks fomenting another generation of negative, uninformed attitudes toward adopted people, their parents by birth and adoption, and adoption per se.

The Adoption Institute is the pre-eminent policy, research and education organizations in its field; its mission is to provide leadership that improves adoption laws, policies and practices - through sound research, education and advocacy - in order to better the lives of everyone touched by adoption. Because it is independent of any interest group, the Institute has long been a source of accurate, unbiased information for journalists, researchers and policymakers. Its award-winning website contains extensive information on adoption-related issues, including ones relating to ethics and best practices

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Pertman at 617-332-8944 or 617-763-0134, or The Institute website is

This is still very hard!


post #400

If you are interested, listen to episode three of the January 18th "This American Life". It starts at about 41:00 into the show.

Be warned: I was listening to this as I walked around the neighborhood this afternoon and I bawled and bawled.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A few thoughts from a lazy Saturday.

* Today Thomas signed up to play baseball again this spring and summer. I hope we have a low-key bunch of parents on our team this year. I especially hope that freak-out, yell-at-your-4-year-old over t-ball dad is NOT on our team. Go live vicariously through your kid in some other way!

* Brett has become quite prolific in the beer-brewing department. Today he began a Hefeweizen. I know I will love the fruits of his labor, but the house smells like hops right now, which isn't really my favorite odor.

* The kids and Brett are playing ball in the backyard right now. I am very glad that the terrible cold weather seems to have subsided, so the basset hound is enjoying company in her natural environs.

* I have not left the house today, except to step out and get the mail. These kind of Saturdays happen so rarely. I'm very appreciative of the down time.

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What I've been thinking about lately...

I talked a little about this article during a Wednesday Night education piece at Big Church yesterday. A great, thought-provoking read.

By glorifying what we see as 'natural', we can often exclude those whose nature is so different from our own.

The radical hospitality and welcome of Christ requires us to go beyond our natural instincts and envelope the distasteful, the feared and even that which seems unnatural (read: not like us). I'd love to know what you think of this article and how you see an intersection with the Gospel.

and there are those family members who send awesome, hilarious emails. Thanks Belinda!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I've just returned from a l-o-n-g meeting for all the clergy in the community. The mayor, police chief and other city officials held an open forum this afternoon -- but there could have been a bit less blabbing and a bit more moving on with the agenda. The Greek Orthodox priest sitting next to me (long, imposing, white beard and a giant pectoral cross) scribbled furiously in his notebook the entire time. Curious as to what he could be possibly taking notes about, I peeked. A very detailed rendering of Mickey and Minnie Mouse kissing. Aw, how cute.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The most popular toy for girls in 1982? My Little Pony.
The most popular toy for my girl in 2008? MY My Little Ponies. My dad saved the 25+ year old toys and they arrived in a giant box in the mail today.

Bonus photo:
Tom looking cool in Dad's hat and Mom's sunglasses.

I love it when health news applies to my particular situation. In a good way. That's all I'll say about that.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A very appropriate book for this holiday: Destined to Witness by Hans J. Massaquoi.

Written by a man who grew up in Nazi Germany as the child of a white mother and a black father. This is probably the best book I've read in a long time. I learned so much about Germany in this time period and about the history of Liberia (his father was a Liberian diplomat who left the family in poverty when Hans was a toddler). It is both fascinating and horrifying to read an account of living as a "non-Aryan" in Hamburg during the 1930s and 1940s.

The author eventually became an editor for Ebony magazine, so his writing is excellent and compelling.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

love this

Most professional church folks I know are a tiny bit freaked out by how early Lent begins this year (less than three weeks 'til Ash Wednesday!) But the PC(USA) is actually on top of things this year and has launched a new advertising campaign for the 40 Days of Lent. Here is my favorite message from this campaign:

Unfortunately, in true Presbyterian style, we couldn't get it quite right. Notice the typo? Sigh.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Brett is teaching a night class, two evenings a week, from now until mid-March. This gives me extra reading time!

Last night I finished The Gathering by Anne Enright. Not exactly a light romp, but a beautiful story.

(I have done terribly at online trivia and Scrabble lately, so I'm focusing my superpowers on reading...)

Monday, January 14, 2008

I often look at books that have won awards in order to choose good fiction. The Booker Prize and the National Book Award are two good lists to consult, imho.

I just finished Varieties of Disturbance by Lydia Davis. The reviewers on Amazon were of mixed opinions, but I liked the true 'variety' of short stories, poems, lists and other forms of writing the author uses. Short stories are a great way to read literature, as you can have just a taste without committing to a long book.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Many of you know that my husband is preparing to take his comprehensive examinations for his Ph.D. in April. In preparation, he has a list of 150+ books assigned by his departmental advisory committee. Of those 150, I have read a few through my undergraduate majors in Religious Studies and Judaic Studies. I read a few more while in seminary. But I've still read a small minority of the volumes he's been plowing through over the last six months.

As part of this 'Reading Challenge', I thought I'd read one of his comp books. I chose Authentic Fakes: Religion and American Popular Culture by David Chidester. Sounds interesting, don't you think? I thought it would be. I was wrong. Needless to say, this is one of those books that seems like an article or a thesis that wasn't really worth stretching into a full-length book.

My poor baby. 150 books by April. He is almost done. I've often said that one of his spiritual gifts is possessing an amazing capacity for the boring.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


I live in a household of comedians. My kids think they are very witty and my spouse prides himself on his erudite sense of humor. Frankly, my big kid spends most of the day encouraging the little ones to cut up. They are pretty funny, but I think I am becoming their favorite target. Oh well...

BTW, Lily got a haircut yesterday. She requested her usual -- the "Dora" cut -- she has so much hair that it will grow back past her shoulders in just a couple of months. Happy Saturday!

true love

Bad Cat Bev and Becky Basset Hound have found true love. They have set up housekeeping in our laundry room. Bad Cat initiated the start of this lasting love by discovering how to use the dog door (now the dog 'n' cat door). Love conquers all!

Saturday, January 05, 2008


A little theological gift one of my readers sent to me via email. Thank you.

It is that season -- the 'Let's Forward Crazy, Unsubstantiated, Racist, Xenophobic Emails'

To all my wacky family members who do this, please take two seconds to check out your story on

You look really dumb and mean when you send these terrible stories around to everyone you know. And doing so in "the name of Christ" just makes it worse, in my opinion.

Rantingly yours,

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I must confess up front that this is not truly a book, but a long essay (a lecture given at the Center for Spirituality at St. Mary's College, Notre Dame):

The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and "Women's Work" by Kathleen Norris

I believe this is the only published "book" by Norris that I haven't read before. Her reflections on finding the holy in the midst of the ordinary felt very right today. I read most of it while soaking in the bathtub after I put the kids in bed. Towards the end of this work, Norris quotes one of my favorite poems, written by poet and RN, Laura Gilpin.

The Bath

I stand here bathing her
while she sleeps
in a far place beyond my reaching.

I bathe her
as I have been taught to do:
first the eyes, then the forehead,
the face, the neck.

And as I work
I talk to her--in case she hears me
(believing that hearing is the last to go).

I tell her--I don't know why
but I tell her the time, the day,
the season, what the weather is doing,

lifting each arm to wash and dry it,
laying it down again at her side,
then the chest, the abdomen, each leg.

She offers no resistance,
except that of gravity,
the earth pulling her
down while I lift,
as though something between us
is being weighed.

Then I turn her to wash her back
talking to her about what seems to matter
in this life--though I make no promises.

Only this morning
the promise of spring was in the air
and I tell her that.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back
by Frank Schaeffer

Fascinating read, especially for us Calvinists. Excellent memoir, with lots of information about the rise of the Religious Right.

A few months ago, I read a sad story about the reading habits of people in the United States. Here are some statistics from this poll:

  • One in four adults read no books at all in the past year
  • Only 57% of American adults had read a book in 2002
  • Among those who said they had read books, the median figure — with half reading more, half fewer — was nine books for women and five for men
  • Democrats and liberals typically read slightly more books than Republicans and conservatives
  • Those likeliest to read religious books included older and married women, lower earners, minorities, lesser educated people, Southerners, rural residents, Republicans and conservatives
So I thought I would keep track of the books I read in 2008. Every time I finish a book this year, I am going to post about it. Anyone care to join me? Leave a comment on this post and we can keep up with each other, compare books, give suggestions, etc.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Brett and Thomas took off with a friend for some "manly" activities at a Store for Tough Guys called Rural King. Brett came home with a stock pot. Ah well...

Lily and I decided to brave the mall. We ate together at a restaurant that does NOT have happy meals and she did quite well. She chatted to be through the whole meal and charmed the ladies at the neighboring table.

She helped me to choose new jeans for her brother, new pajamas for her, new jeans for me and a gorgeous wool peacoat for me that is a lovely deep purply/greyish color. When I tried it on in the store she said, "Mama, you look like a princess!" A princess and the peacoat.

My little girl is becoming such a person.

P.S. Too bad I don't look like this model!

Recap of 2007

Happy New Year!

I've been tagged to look back over the past year, via the first lines of the first post of each month:

January: I have loved dolls since I was a tiny girl.

February: Just a few Sunday thoughts - My son turns 4 next week.

March: Austin Seminary's academic dean and prolific author, Dr. Michael Jinkins, wrote a great article in the March issue of Presbyterians Today.

April: I feel pretty stressed about getting everything done for Holy Week

May: We are FINALLY feeling settled in our new house.

June: I will officiate at my first memorial service for a member of big church on Monday morning.

July: Brett came over to church this morning and helped me run a couple of errands around town

August: Ever read something that sticks with you long after you've finished?

September: It now seems to be my habit to blog in bullet points on Sunday afternoon.

October: Sorry that I've not blogged this week.

November: November is National Adoption Month.

December: We had the best worship today.

I am looking forward to rehashing 2008 a year from now!