Friday, September 30, 2011

GUATEMALA 2011: (25) Varry White: I Dance For Money

Step aside Pitbull & Barry White... I am Varry White and I am in the club...

And hey jlo and T Pain... I can even drop it down low.

I am aware that I have a couple of hold-outs (you know who you are... rhymes with azteca) who are waiting for me to do something crazy to earn your donation. 

Well, this is about as crazy as this white boy can get. 

And so there you have it. Watch it as much as you can... the youtube police may take it down... so laugh while you can! I know that I sure am.

But more importantly, my dear friends who laugh at me... please make your donation to the Team House today. If you are reading about this for the first time, you can find out more at:

And if you are ready to donate, you can also use that link to learn how you can do so right now, where you sit, in just a few quick steps.

Please, help me make a difference... or I will find you and dance.

My Glossy Press Shot

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I Nearly Missed Walking On Water

Sunday was a long day. I came off of working 7 straight, and had two lawns that had to be mowed before nightfall. The coming week was threatening to be a challenging one, and I was ready to fold under the pressure. This would be a good time to simply retreat to a couch or maybe even the bed and allow my mind a moment of blindness to the legion of the day.

And yet... the air was perfect and the sun shone brightly. I had the awareness that my eleven year old son and my 8 year old daughter occupy these rings on the stump of life just this once. And so... I grabbed my hat, walked away from the grass, banished thoughts of occupation from my mind and simply went.

We arrived at the park and signed the waivers for our boats. Ducks swam across the surface, lead by a proud white swan. We watched a hawk circling above the lake and were started by bullfrogs breaking the tension of the water with their sudden leaps. My shoulders flexed as the yellow-tipped oar silently sliced into the water and propelled our craft forward. I paused... and I noticed my life in a still shot as I grabbed by phone to capture the moment.

I made the right choice today. Can you see my family from my perspective? There were pressures in our lives enough that justified our missing this moment... and still, we are here. And this moment rates higher in the stuff of life than the deadlines, demands, and ridiculous pressures that we perpetuate. My retired neighbors will have to scoff at my grass. The worries of the day have found their place as inconsequential in the smiles of my children.

This was a moment to find perspective.

My wife and my daughter on still waters under an open sky. The symbolism of the moment flooded my heart. The surface of this lake is as subject to storms as are our daily lives... and yet, there is absolute wonder to be found when we take advantage of the moments we are given.

As I look forward to the days ahead... my sight only takes me so far. And I am working daily to be willing to move forward into the waters that are unseen. 

I look at the surface of the water... and am reminded of two who once stepped on their surface.

Friday, September 23, 2011

My Ever After is Goldilocks

My Ever After
After hitting snooze one final time... "This place about to blow" once again began to blast from my DroidX. With one arm firmly asleep under my chest I flopped the other one down to the side of the bed and deactivated the alarm feature. I just needed a couple of more seconds.

Suddenly I am fully awake. I fling myself over and stare at the time. It is 20 minutes til the hour. It is my daughter's 8th anniversary of her birthday and we have 30 cupcakes to deliver to school along with her, when the clock hits 9:00.  It is about a 7 minute drive and we have no time to spare.

I pull on some shorts and hurry from our bedroom, through the study, down the hallway, and burst into Aleksandra's room. There she stands fully dressed and ready to go. Oh, I am such the bad parent this morning. It is her birthday and I am running late!

I run back into our bedroom and do the Tom Cruise slide as I turn the corner. I have to skip the shower (thank goodness I have no hair now) hit the toothpaste and deodorant... tug on my clothes, slide into my unlaced shoes, splash coffee into a travel mug... grab my daughter and cupcakes, push open the garage, get into the car and pull out of the driveway.

It is now 10 minutes til the hour.

We hold on tightly as I dismiss the posted speed limit as an annoyance and I run red lights with extreme prejudice (some have cameras on them... I know which ones). We make the turn and fly down the road. It is at this moment that I begin to feel that something is not quite right. It is really foggy, and not as bright as ususal. I dismiss this as simply fall weather setting in.

And then I notice that we are the only car on the road. Usually there are a nascar's worth of parents jockeying for position on this street. No-one wants to get stuck by the ridiculously long light at the final turn. Again... I refuse to think of what this might mean... I have a mission to make it to school before the big hand hits the top of the hour and we are just gonna make it.

I come to the final turn and screetch into the school parking lot, expecting to see the look of disapproval that I typically get from the principal. I prepare my smile for him...

but he isn't there. The parking lot is empty. Completely empty. The creeping feeling that something was wrong... that sense that I had refused to consider because... surely it could not be the case. That feeling now elbowed its' way to the forefront of my mind and then forced me to look at my watch. We were 5 minutes before the hour.

5 minutes before the hour... an hour too early. Seriously.

I am such a champion of a parent. I had to laugh at myself as we did a donut in the parking lot and now began our drive back home. Aleksandra gave me grace and just rolled with it.

So now, realizing that we had an hour and that I no longer had to mission impossible it to beat the clock, my mind had a moment to catch up with the reality of the day. It is Aleksandra's birthday.

Disclosure time.

For an adoptive parent... birthdays are a bit of a mixed bag. Certainly there is the normal celebratory happiness that comes with the significance of my child having successfully maneuvered her way to another birthday. We reflect on the past year and we remember back to our first memories of her and our family. And these memories are beyond all value.

And as I reflect on our story... my mind shifts gears, as it does every year.

I think of a woman in Russia. I wonder what her thoughts and emotions are today. I have to believe that her heart is a little heavy. I become aware again of the intense emotion that she must have felt when she made that decision to chose life, have her baby, and then surrender her to strangers.

I hope she is ok today. I hope she knows that things are ok... it has worked out for her daughter. Her decision has provided our family with completeness.  I wish I had some way of letting her know. I want her to know that Aleksandra is safe, and happy, and loved. I want her to know that Aleksandra has a brother, a pink bedroom, and a puppy.

I want her to know that we decided to toss out the name we had chosen... that when we read the name, "Aleksandra" and knew that her birth mother had called her by this name... we were immediately compelled to keep alive this tie.

I want her to know that we love her, we respect her, are forever indebted to her, and that our family is eternally grateful.

But we have no way of communicating this. And so... we pray for her. And each year, on this date... our hearts reach out to her. She is a hero in our lives.

As a parent of both a biological child and an adopted child... let me be a witness as I tell you that it makes absolutely no difference. Both are fully ours. Completely. Incredibly. We found that when she came to us that everything was simply, "just right."

I love this phrase, "just right." I'm sure that I heard it somewhere before... probably at some goofy business seminar or church sermon. I remember calling it, The Goldilocks Principle. I use this on occasion at home with the kids. In fact, it came up at dinner last night. The kids had butter knives and we were helping them learn to use them to cut their dinner. If they cut too softly, then knife wouldn't cut through the meat. If they cut too aggressively, the whole plate slid and the table shook. I explained that the secret to much in life is simply finding that place where things are, "just right."

Here, at the night after her birthday... I am struck by the degree of which this Goldilocks Principle is manifest in our lives. If you have ever seen her and her brother together... well then, you know a little of that which I type. They are inseparable. I sometimes think they can read each other's minds.

My daughter is amazing. She is beautiful, and smart, and her smile heals my soul. She is my Goldilocks and her being in my life is quite perfectly the stuff of fairy tales.

This is my Ever After.

Then Goldilocks sat down in the chair of the Great, Huge Bear, 
and that was too hard for her.
And then she sat down in the chair of the Middle Bear, 
and that was too soft for her. 
And then she sat down in the chair of the Little, Small, Wee Bear, 
and that was neither too hard, nor too soft, 
but just right.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's Good To Be Alive

My Dad & My Son Summer of '10
Family Vacation Memories

Caleb and I were shooting basketball in our neighbor's driveway the other night. Nothing serious, just playing Around The World. The basketball pole and hoop belonged to my friend Ron. I bought it because he had one that I shattered with a world-record 3 point attempt a few summers back. I was the only adult in the crowd... the ball left my hands and rocketed across the street, over the driveway, hit perfectly in the center of the square on the plexiglass backboard... and went straight through it leaving a perfect ball-sized hole.

All the kids took off running. And I was left to the evidence of my stupidity and found myself offering to pay for a new one. The next weekend I found one at the local sporting goods store (a little better than the one I shattered) and I spent time with Ron as together we raised the new set.

I think a lot of Ron. I miss the evenings when we drank coffee on his back porch and talked at length about life. He had raised his family and was enjoying retirement and grandkids. He was able to help me with perspective through some tough times. When I think of Ron, I smile and I am reminded of his words to me that I not miss this time in my life.

This is an incredible time. I love seeing the wonder in the eyes of my children and feeling the hand of my wife slip into my own as we realize the power of these days. There is so much noise in life... and there are real problems. But I am learning that these problems are insignificant to the legacy that I leave with my children. 

My father installed a basketball hoop for me when I was in high school. We used to shoot around for hours. Those moments were incredible. Just spending the time together. As Caleb and I played in the waning light of the evening... I remembered those days. I was also missing my neighbor and was intensely feeling his absence while I envisioned him taking shots alongside us. The basketball pole seemed empty and alone.

My mind flashed back to when I left for college. I also left a basketball pole standing quiet and alone. I wondered if my dad ever walked out there after I left home for college... took a ball in his hand... and quietly took a shot while he remembered our times together while I was growing up.

I broke from my imagination and bent over and gave Caleb a strong, long hug. These days are incredible. Nothing compares. We are rich.

And it's good to be alive
To feel the wind in my face
See the blue in the sky
It's days like this I realize
What a gift it is
It's good to be alive

I had a conversation via Facebook Chat Mobile the other day with a co-worker. I saved the exchange and I have read it every day since. We were able to share along these lines:

  • September 16
    Chad P Shepherd
    • Will know it when it finds me.
  • September 16
    Ryan McCarthy
    • my wife is so excited right now she wants to move the whole house around
    • i keep telling her we have a little time
    • will this ever end?
  • September 16
    Chad P Shepherd
    • Lol....go for it!!! Fun times! Take it for everything it is worth.
  • September 16
    Ryan McCarthy
    • hope man we are both very happy
  • September 16
    Chad P Shepherd
    • You then, are rich.
  • September 16
    Ryan McCarthy
    • i wish i was
    • but with i have now
    • yes i am could not be happier
  • September 16
    Chad P Shepherd
    • Lol....these days are better than $.
  • September 16
    Ryan McCarthy
    • yes i realize that the look on mindis face makes it all worth it
  • September 16
    Chad P Shepherd
    • These are the days you will akways remember as magic.
  • September 16
    Ryan McCarthy
    • that is a nice car you took a pic of at montgomery kroger

      (Nice way to roll to the grocery store!)

  • September 16
    Chad P Shepherd
    • No doubt!
  • September 16
    Ryan McCarthy
    • dont you wish you had one
    • no maybe two one spare
  • September 16
    Chad P Shepherd
    • If i did i would sell it and leave the country.
  • September 16
    Ryan McCarthy
    • hahahhahaha no doubt youd get plenty of money for it
  • September 16
    Chad P Shepherd

Pay my bills, sell my a missionary.

  • Thanks for the shout Ryan... you made my day and reminded me what a gift it is that we all really do have!

    Well I wonder, what this day will see
    Will I find my dreams or stare in the face of tragedy
    Whatever may come
    Whatever may be
    Of this I am sure, I'm forgiven and free
    And I will live like I believe

    It's Good To Be Alive.