grace

Hurricane Hitler: Giving Our Best When the World Is At Its Worst

Hurricane Hitler: Giving Our Best When the World Is At Its Worst

The impact of Charlottesville felt like a hurricane. It sucked the breath and the hope right out of us, like the ocean waters in the Bahamas were sucked away from the shore by Irma. The chaos and violence were felt most intensely at ground zero in Virginia, but the winds of racism and fear blew to every corner of our country. Our dreams of progress were felled like giant trees, uprooted in the swirling gusts of disillusionment.

I wonder, then, if our response to storms of human origin could be informed by the way we respond to more natural disasters. Though some people may joke about firing a couple rounds into the wind to release some tension, few people actually and sincerely shake their fists at the sky when a hurricane passes through. Cursing Irma may let off some steam temporarily, but none of us hope to actually accomplish anything restorative by doing so. Yet, when these names belong to people and not to storms, cursing becomes the norm. When evil has a face we feel justified in throwing whatever stones or barbs we can at the perpetrators. I’m not suggesting that we should be silent when evil deeds and motives are present, but there is certainly a point where pointing fingers becomes a useless endeavor and we must look to other means to make things right. 

My Unwanted Pregnancy: Finding God Between the Lines

My Unwanted Pregnancy: Finding God Between the Lines

I have been pregnant for 200 days—give or take a little.

Those 200 days have been hard. Harder than I expected. Challenging in ways I didn’t know I could (or needed to) be challenged. There have been good days, days that left me feeling light and expectant. Many more days have had me down deeper than I thought possible. On Day One all I felt was shock. We had taken precautions. We had used protection. But still, those two lines appeared. I couldn’t believe this was happening.

On Day Seven, I still didn’t believe I was actually pregnant so I took another test. To my dismay, they appeared again, like lines marking a road forward - a road I had no desire to travel. This was not my timing. This was not my plan. I think I took a total of five pregnancy tests within those first ten days, each one returning a pair of lines brighter than the last.

The days from ten until now have been filled with a lot of just that: Dismay. Unbelief. Apprehension. Fear. I thought over time the idea of becoming a mother would sink in and the pregnancy bliss I hear so many talk about would engulf me into baby oblivion. Yeah, I’m still waiting for that to happen.

The One Story You Need To Read On World Penguin Day

The One Story You Need To Read On World Penguin Day

The Internet has brought us nothing if not an overabundance of animal videos. 20 years ago you had to wait until Sunday night for Bob Saget to introduce a montage of cat clips on America's Funniest Videos; now cuteness overload is unavoidable as soon as you open Facebook.

I'm a believer in lifelong learning, and often some of life's greatest lessons can be found simply by looking to God's good creation. For example, I recently learned that some domesticated cats are terrified of cucumbers. Full disclosure, I loathe cats. I would sooner have a pet cucumber than a pet cat. But should I ever find myself the owner of a feline, this is the kind of information that would be incredibly useful. 

Still, as much as animals cause us to say, “Awwww,” they also teach us to say, “AHHHH!” Another lesson I have learned: it's unwise to make friends with a white tiger (thanks, Montecore) or let your kids play with a gorilla (RIP, Harambe). 

Yes, the animal kingdom has much to offer us if we only remain willing to learn. The latest inspiration I received from a non-human came from a penguin named Dindim. Seeing as today, April 25, 2017, is World Penguin Day, Dindim’s story is a fitting parable on which to reflect.

Three Things I Cherish From Our Adoption

Three Things I Cherish From Our Adoption

I feel like I just gave birth to an elephant. Elephants have the longest gestation period of any land mammal, typically carrying a child in the womb for 21 months or more. Together, my wife and I just bested Mrs. Jumbo; after more than 26 months of waiting, we have a son. Fittingly, March 20 - the day our adoption was finalized and this young life cleaved legally to ours - is the day all creation affirmed new beginnings with the onset of Spring.

In an attempt to put into words that which cannot adequately be put into words, I want to share the three things that, upon initial reflection of our son's adoption, I cherish most from that day.

Super Babies and Elephant Men

Super Babies and Elephant Men

Have you ever wondered what it would look like if Bruno Mars’s voice married Rachel McAdams’ smile and they had baby who could dance like Justin Timberlake? I know, I wonder that, too. Like, all the time. I mean, it’s like piling perfection upon perfection upon perfection. .

But that begs the question…if there could be a Bruno McAdams “Happy Feet” Timberlake who possessed a full measure of beauty, charm, charisma, and talent, what would his/her doppelgänger look like? What I mean is this: what would it look like if you piled the ugliest parts of human nature into human form? Pain, violence, hatred, shame, anger, guilt, lust, pride: if all these things put together had a face, who – or what – would that look like?

I'm Feeling 22

I'm Feeling 22

I was in middle school in 1990, which means that I had crush on Winnie Cooper, the on-again-off-again girlfriend of The Wonder Years' protagonist, Kevin Arnold. 

In 2016, NOVA published a video starring Danica McKellar, the actress who played Winnie Cooper, all grown up and good at math. In the short segment, Danica shares about the challenges she faced trying to find her identity outside of the Wonder Years. The question plaguing her thoughts was, "Who else would I be if I didn't have this role?" Even as a student at UCLA, she was constantly (and only) recognized as Winnie. At first, that kind of fame would have been flattering; after a while, however, it got old. Winnie Cooper was the identity she couldn't shake. Nothing against Winnie, but that wasn't who she really was, it wasn't who she wanted to be, nor was it who she knew she could be.

Sunburned Drifters and Soap Sud Beards

Sunburned Drifters and Soap Sud Beards

One of the weirdest and, in my opinion, most oddly hilarious characters ever to appear on Saturday Night Live was Stefon Zelesky, played by Bill Hader. Stefon was a club kid who would join Seth Meyers from time to time as a city correspondent on the Weekend Update to give viewers the low-down on the latest and greatest (and fake) underground clubs in New York City. Stefon had the skinny on the hippest and most elusive party scene in the Big Apple; without his insider information, none of us would have a clue that these clubs existed, much less have access to them. 

During one episode, Stefon introduced us to the club Crease. "This place has everything," he said. "Lights, psychos, Furbies, screaming babies in Mozart wigs, sunburned drifters with soap sud beards."

"Soap sud beards?" Seth interrupted.

"You know, that thing where the hobo becomes a rich man, so they take that big bubble bath?"

Symbiosis: How Foster Care Saved My Life

Symbiosis: How Foster Care Saved My Life

I was a bundle of nerves walking into the NICU. Our youngest child, Elysia, is ten years old, which means it had been a full decade since I had held a newborn baby. Miggy was a tiny thing, still hooked up to wires in his little plastic tub-on-wheels. Carrie The Nurse was every bit as gracious and helpful as Erica had described. I fumbled to keep the wires straight as I picked the baby up for the first time; Carrie untangled them with a smile. She walked me through a refresher course on diaper changing and explained pleasantly the way she tracks his eating habits and bowel movements. The whole thing was felt awkward and perfect.