Sunday, May 30, 2010

Trinity Sunday

From The Rite Light: Reflections on the Sunday Readings and Seasons of the Church Year by Michael W. Merriman.

The first Sunday after Pentecost has been celebrated as a feast in honor of the Holy Trinity since the tenth century. Most festivals of the year celebrate a historical event, and although we celebrate a doctrine today, it is a doctrine based on historical events that revealed the nature of God as the Holy Trinity.

The first reading is from Proverbs. Here Wisdom speaks. She is the personification of God's mighty power. Wisdom describes herself as God's agent in creating the universe. Here we find an indication of the multipersonal God fully revealed as the Holy Trinity by Christ. In the reading from Romans, we find Paul articulating the growing discovery of the first Christians that we experience God's salvation as the work of the Father, of Jesus, and of the Holy Spirit.

In the Gospel reading from John, Jesus describes the work of the Father, the Spirit, and himself as the work of the one God. This is not a developed doctrine of the Trinity (one was not fully developed by the church until the fifth century), but in it God is described as a dynamic relationship into which we are incorporated through the Holy Spirit.

We come together to celebrate the Eucharist, and, called together by the Spirit, we encounter Christ in word and sacrament revealing the Father, and leading us into that eternal exchange of love which is at the heart of the Blessed Trinity.

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries out: "To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live. The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth - when he had not yet made earth and fields, or the world's first bits of soil. When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.

Psalm 8
Domine, Dominus noster

1 O Lord our Governor,
       how exalted is your Name in all the world!

2 Out of the mouths of infants and children
       your majesty is praised above the heavens.

3 You have set up a stronghold against your adversaries,
       to quell the enemy and the avenger.

4 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
       the moon and the stars you have set in the courses.

5 What is man that you should be mindful of him?
       the son of man that you should seek him out?

6 You have made him but little lower than the angels;
       you adorn him with glory and honor;

7 You give him mastery over the works of your hands;
       you put all things under his feet:

8 All sheep and oxen,
       even the wild beasts of the field,

9 The birds of the air, the fish of the sea,
       and whatsoever walks in the paths of the sea.

10 O Lord our Governor,
       how exalted is your Name in all the world!

Romans 5:1-5

Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

John 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you."

Friday, May 21, 2010

Run Crazy Horse!

It's been a while since I've done an update on my running, so here goes. At the beginning of the year I set the goal of running at least 625 miles by December 31st. I want to run an average of at least 12 miles each week (either four 3-mile runs or three 4-mile runs). I figured that would be a reasonable enough goal for myself. Even if I don't plan to do any marathons this year, 12 miles is a modest weekly mileage that I should be able to maintain just for general fitness.

Well... I haven't done such a good job of that so far. I ran 34.5 miles in January (not terrible), but only 4 miles in February. The trip to see James in Europe really threw me out of my routine. I started back in March and ran 48 miles, but April was a dismal 26. Traveling for our house hunting trip got me out of my routine again and I've had a hard time getting back in. Since the start of May I've only run 7.8 miles (4 in the last week), but I'm hoping to get in at least another 10 next week. If you've been keeping up with the math, that's only 120.3 so far for the year. I have 504.7 miles to go!

I haven't run a full marathon since the Kentucky Derby Marathon in April 2007. It was a rough experience. We'd run the Virginia Beach Marathon a month before, but I didn't run a single step during the six weeks between the two races (BIG MISTAKE). I was okay until about mile 13 or 14. Then my joints really started to ache. The thing about the Kentucky Derby Marathon is that the first half of the race is fantastic. The half-marathon (they call it a "mini" marathon... weird) is great. Lots of support on the course, lots of spectators, and you get to run through Churchill Downs. But as soon as the full and half marathons split off from one another around mile 12, the course goes completely dead. There were very few water stations and only one medical station. At one point, my hip was hurting so badly that I was literally in tears. The pain was excruciating. Eventually we found a medical station and I popped a couple Motrin to keep the pain at bay so I could keep going. We were on pace to finish before the course closed... but only barely.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I've been debating for a few days whether or not to write about this. My first instinct was that I should, but I was hesitant and then got side-tracked with the more mundane elements of my daily life. I had a dream about our first birthmother a few nights ago. I don't remember very much of it anymore, except that I went to go see her at her home. She invited me inside with a warm smile and said that she was so glad I was able to come. I don't know if the dream was my mind replaying the memory our last meeting or if it was something else entirely. Certainly our first, and last, meeting with her wasn't quite that warm. James and I were nervous and a little tense, mostly out of concern that the volatile and unpredictable birthfather might show up during our visit. I don't know if she was still pregnant in the dream or not, so maybe it was my subconscious imagining how things could have been with her if she hadn't kept the baby and totally shut us out of her life.

Even though I don't remember much about the dream except for seeing her face, it made me wonder if she ever thinks about me anymore. The last that we ever heard from her was the day we went to visit. Our agency spoke to her on the phone the next day but that was the last that either of us heard from BM. The only other communication we had with her was through her attorney two days later after the birth. BM never responded to any phone calls or emails after that, from either Mary or myself. I have no idea how she's been since October or how/if she has been paying her bills. For all I know, she could be living on the street and the baby was taken away by child services to be put into the foster system... or she could be happily reconciled with the birthfather and living a wonderful life as if we'd never been part of it. I'll probably never know.

I think about her all the time. How could I not? Her story was so sad. But she never really fully connected with me during our four month match period. That was partly my fault, of course, because I was so deathly afraid of the power she held over our lives. But at the same time, she struck me as someone who was totally consumed with herself. She never asked me very many questions about James or myself. She never asked me why we decided on adoption, what our families thought about adoption, or anything about how we planned to raise the baby or even what we wanted to name her! She only ever wanted to talk about herself and the problems she was having with the birthfather. I should have noticed it during the match meeting (our first phone call). She didn't want to know anything about us. In fact, we didn't even talk all that much because BM just had so much she wanted to say about herself and her past. If I had been the one in her position, I would want to know everything I could about the adoptive couple I'd picked. But maybe that's just me. Should this have been a red flag? Is this something I should watch out for during our next match meeting?

I think about her and pray for her all the time. I hope that she was able to get her life together. I hope that she was able to get a job so she could take care of her two little girls. I hope that she's happy. I wonder if she ever thinks about me.

Launching the New Blog Design

Well here it is folks, my newly redesigned blog! And introducing... the new name! The look has changed (although it's very similar to the last one), but I've also added more content. There are more links and resources about adoption, yoga, running, the Episcopal Church, other cool stuff that I like, as well as new ways to share and connect. I will be working on adding more content over the next few days. Check it out, leave some comments, or drop me an email! Have a great day.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Death of My Self-Esteem

First of all, I do not recommend that ANYONE try to sell a house when waiting to adopt a baby. Conversely, don't try to adopt a baby while you're also trying to sell your house. It's absolutely terrible for self-esteem, at least it is for mine. This is going to sound stupid to some people, but I'm going to say it anyway because it's what I'm feeling and it's honest. Adoption is hard on the self-esteem when you've had to wait for months and months, it just comes with the territory. We've been waiting since the disruption for roughly seven months. Every time I call our agency to find out how things are going, they tell me that our websites are getting lots of hits and that our profile has gone out to lots of birthmothers and that everything looks great! Um, well yeah... but we're still waiting. Clearly that means there's something wrong with us and we'll never get picked to adopt a baby! Well no, but it can feel like that sometimes. And when the months of waiting drag on and on and on... it can be easy to let those thoughts into my head. But I have to remind myself that our baby is out there somewhere, we just haven't figure out where he/she is going to come from... or when. 

In a strange way, selling a house can elicit the same sorts of feelings. Your home says a lot about who you are. And if you've put as much into your home as I've put into ours, it can be hard to take any sort of criticism from realtors or potential buyers. Each time a potential buyer comes to a showing and decides to go with some other house, it's like a slap in the face. Well, not exactly like a slap in the face, but it's still a rejection. Whatever the reason, they're still rejecting us again and again and again. And while it's not anything personal, it's still frustrating and hard to cope with sometimes. 

Combine the two situations and you've got the perfect storm. Everyday is a new rejection. (And I won't even begin to touch on the old issues this brings up for me.) No baby, no offers on the house. Nothing. And there's nothing we can do about it. Nada. But maybe that's the point. Maybe this whole scenario is a lesson for me in patience. I've said for a long time that my greatest flaw is my terrible impatience. I've always been like that. When I want what I want, I want it NOW. Not ten minutes from now, not tomorrow, not next year. NOW! But I can't always have what I want now, obviously. And I keep saying that I've learned the importance of being patient, but clearly I haven't because it's still driving me totally batty! 

What can I say except that I'm a work in progress? At least I am able to acknowledge my flaws and how important it is to change them. I know that eventually someone will fall in love with our house and want to buy it. And in my heart I know that our perfect birthmother is out there somewhere, waiting for us as much as we are waiting for her. Hopefully I'll be able to endure this time of waiting with at least a little bit of grace and poise.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Not Going to Medical School

Got your attention, didn't I? Those of you who know me well know that I've been talking about medical school for a while now. I applied last year as an out-of-state applicant, knowing that I would probably not get in. Not surprisingly, I didn't. When I spoke to the admissions representative, she told me that they'd received a record number of out-of-state applications last year. This particular school is the only medical school in the state. State law says that they must admit all qualified applicants from within the state first. Then, if there are any spots left over, they can begin reviewing students from other states. So basically, we get the leftovers. Lovely. That's why it didn't surprise me all that much when I didn't get in. I have a very strong application, but I was competing with a LOT of people for only 10-20 spots (if that many). When I explained to the admissions rep that we're moving over the summer, she encouraged me to reapply if we could be moved by the end of June (because then I'd be able to apply as an in-state student). 

That was my plan for the last few months, but when the new health care bill passed I began to rethink my plans. One of the features of the new bill is a change to the way federal student loans for medical school are disbursed. Under the new legislation, students who take out federal student loans to pay for medical school must repay the government with both money (principal plus interest) AND time (I want to say six years, but I could be wrong about that). After completing school, students are required to practice medicine in an under-served community of the government's choosing. Fundamentally, I don't really have a problem with this concept. Obviously if the community is under-served, then it needs good doctors. But since James is planning to stay in the military for a full 20-year-career, this program isn't going to work for me.

At the current tuition rates for the school I'm applying to, four years of medical school would cost me more than $92,000 and that's relatively cheap. If I can't utilize federal student loans, then how would I pay for it?? We considered having me join the service with James. They would pay for all my tuition and fees, and I would earn a stipend for living expenses while in school. I would owe them one year of service for each year they paid for, starting after I completed my residency. So that takes care of that, but there's still another problem... where would I do my residency?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The House Hunting Trip

Most of you know that James and I went on our house hunting trip at the end of April. I was really excited about this because I've been looking at real estate listings online for at least a year. I'm not kidding. For a while I really wanted to build again. So I'd been online looking at floor plans and researching custom home builders. When I went out to see James last fall during training, I actually met with one custom builder and discussed what plan we'd like and what area we might want to build in. In fact, we'd gotten to the point where I was waiting for him to email me a rough estimate of how much our selected plan (and the custom modifications) would cost based on the cost of construction materials at the time. He never did. I suspect the problem was that the builder had so much going on at the time that we just got lost in the mix. After all, we weren't going to contract with him for at least six more months and he had his hands full with current clients. So I can't fault him too much, but it annoyed me none-the-less. 

Once we got our orders to PCS a month or so ago, we realized that we really wouldn't have enough time to have a home built. Most builds take at least four months from clearing the lot to the final walk-through. But we're moving during the peak build season, so I'd be willing to bet that a custom build would take at least five months or more... if you want it done right. And I decided that I didn't want to be stuck five states away during the construction process. I would want to be close enough that I can check on the progress and speak up about things I want changed as I see them so there's time to get everything right (ie, "No I don't like that light fixture anymore. I want to go back to the store and get a different one."). After all, if you're going to go through all the trouble to build a custom home, then it should be exactly and perfectly right. 

So we decided to put off our custom build for the next PCS and just buy an existing home instead. The good news for us is that the area we're moving to has tons of new developments going up. So even if we don't get to have our custom home, we can still have a brand new one. I'd made contact with a real estate agent recommended by USAA (so we can get the Mover's Advantage Bonus Check... cha-ching!) about a month ago. She and I had been in constant contact ever since. She wanted to know exactly what our needs are and what kind of home we're looking for so that the house hunting process could be as stream lined as possible. By the time we left to drive out there, I had about 30 homes on my list of houses to see. Unfortunately for us, many of them were sold out from under us before we even got a chance to see them. 

We were VERY lucky to have some wonderful friends who PCS'd ahead of us a few months ago and who invited us to stay with them while we looked for a new house. I cannot begin to express how wonderful this was. First of all, I hadn't seen my girlfriend since January and I'd missed her terribly. We're like two peas in a pod and it was so wonderful to get to see her again. Second, their dog and ours are best buddies (we have a picture of them together with "Santa Paws" from last Christmas, haha), so Piper was able to travel with us and had a great time playing with Dodge while we were out all day long. And third, we saved a TON of money by not having to pay for a hotel and restaurants for a week and a half. Talk about a life saver! Then there was the drama with the tornadoes... but that's another story for another blog post.

So long story short (ish), we left on Monday, arrived on Tuesday, met with the mortgage broker to get pre-approved on Wednesday morning, and headed out for showings on Wednesday around lunch time. We saw about 12 houses on the first day. Most of them were actually a little above our price limit because so many of the lower priced ones had sold over the weekend. 

May Adoption Update

Still not very much to report. April ended with the highest hit count on our website that we've ever had, and one more hard copy of our profile went out. But still no match, or even potential matches. I did finally get in touch with a home study agency in the new state that can begin processing our new home study right away (hooray!!), and they can reuse some of our documents. That's the good news. The bad news is that we have to pay for a completely brand new study anyway, but at least it's less expensive than the one we got last summer. So I'm in the process of filling out all the paperwork to send back to them along with a copy of our current home study and supporting documents. Hopefully they'll be able to complete it quickly enough such that we'll only need the social worker visit by the time we get into the new house. Fingers crossed!