Sting of social rejection partly physical

Brain regions that light up in response to physical pain are similar to those processed during social rejection, according to a new paper that suggests that feeling ‘broken-hearted’ is not just a metaphor.

In this month’s Current Directions in Psychological Science, Naomi Eisenberger, co-director of the Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at UCLA, surveys recent research that shows that social pain triggers neural regions associated with the distressing emotional experience – and sometimes even the sensory experience – of physical pain.

“It suggests that there is something real about this experience of pain that we have following rejection and exclusion,” Eisenberger says.

She also found that people with a gene that makes them more sensitive to physical pain are also more susceptible to the sting of social rejection. According to studies Eisenberger references, medication like Tylenol designed to relieve physical pain can also kill emotional pain, and emotional support – such as holding a loved one’s hand – reduces physical pain.

I thought this overlap between social and physical pain had interesting implications given that children with disabilities are at greater risk of experiencing both. Thoughts?

"I'm Not What's Best for My Baby"

At Elle Magazine, an article, entitled "I'm Not What's Best for My Baby," about a birth mother's relinquishment of her son for adoption:
On a bright, hot afternoon in July 2010, Julia Barnes* gave birth in a Chicago hospital to a slightly premature but healthy five-pound boy after a short labor. When he emerged, black hair plastered to his head, she looked away and did not ask to hold her child—or, as she kept reminding herself, “the” child.

This was far from the blissful scenario she’d imagined when she and her husband, her college sweetheart Bill, learned she was pregnant the previous fall. But as her stomach had grown and she’d begun picturing her future as a mother, Julia discovered a secret that upended her life.

Lying in the hospital bed, now finding herself unable to take her eyes off her newborn as he was cleaned and swathed by nurses, she focused on what she’d trained herself to think during her pregnancy whenever she felt the jab of a small foot or glanced down to see her abdomen rippling: He doesn’t belong to me, he doesn’t belong to me. Julia had chosen a couple to adopt the baby, and the wife was there—she cut the cord. Watching the adoptive mother trail out of the room behind the nurse and the baby in his crib, Julia silently repeated another mantra: I’m not what’s best for him, I’m not what’s best for him.

Julia was not physically or mentally ill, nor was she poor or very young, unable to make a living, or alone in the world. At the time she gave birth, she was, in fact, a 30-year-old lawyer who’d been thrilled when she conceived the first time she and her husband tried. Yet eight months later, she was intoning to herself, The baby doesn’t belong to me; I’m not what’s best for him.
Read the whole thing.  Not exactly a feel-good piece, and the adoption doesn't seem like a happy ending in the circumstances. I came away from reading it more than a little depressed, which probably wasn't the author's intent.  What about you?

Adopting Out the Children of Illegal Immigrants: The Trial Starts

Today the trial commenced in the adoption battle over Encarnacion Bail Romero's son, adopted out over her objections while she was jailed for immigration charges (I've blogged about the case here and here and here and here). 

The issue is larger than this one case, as is made clear by Michelle Brane, director of Detention and Asylum at the Women's Refugee Commission:
"The real issue is if the parent wants to be deported with their child, what right do we have to say 'No, you cannot have custody of your child?' Romero's intent now is to go back home with Carlos, but he has already started a life here with another family...This is the kind of tragedy that needs to be avoided and can be avoided by doing the right thing early on and giving people access to the courts and to their children early on."
Bail Romero's parental rights were terminated by a Missouri trial judge at least in part on the grounds that she abandoned her child because she didn't make contact with him while she was in jail.  The judge apparantly doesn't recognize how difficult that could be:
Without any policies in place to regulate the care of U.S. citizen children while their parents are detained, immigrant parents are unable to attend court hearings, contact caseworkers, complete parenting classes or take any of the necessary steps to meet the strict timelines dictated by juvenile courts.

"And the result is that nobody is really recognizing that there's a parent there trying desperately to communicate that they want to still be involved with their child," said Nina Rabin, an immigration attorney with the University of Arizona's Immigration Law and Policy Institute.

It's those parents that are slipping through the cracks between two huge bureaucracies, she said.
There are also some huge factual issues unresolved in the first hearing where the judge found that the mother had abandoned the child -- she didn't attend, she didn't testify, her attorney was paid by the adoptive parents. . . .  So it will be interesting to see -- factually -- what develops in this new trial.

Italy/Vietnam: Adoptees Learn About Heritage

From the VietNamDaily:
Italian families who have adopted Vietnamese children attended a meeting in Rome yesterday to share experiences and learn more about Vietnamese culture.

50 families took part in the event, which was hosted by the Vietnamese embassy in Rome and the Italian Adoption Families Association.

Speaking at the event, Vietnamese ambassador to Italy Dang Khanh Thoai expressed his gratitude to the Italian families for their love and support of adopted Vietnamese children.
He stressed that Viet Nam would continue to co-operate closely with Italy in improving adoption procedures appropriate to the two countries' legal policies as well as hosting more cultural exchange events and discussions.

In response to Viet Nam's concerns, the association would carefully watch over adopted children and help them to learn about their origins and cultural heritage.
Chinese consulates in the U.S. have hosted the same kind of thing.

Inter-country adoption risks children lives

That's the headline in the Daily Times (of Malawi), a country suspicious of international adoption after the Madonna kerfuffle:
Inter-country adoptions negatively affect adopted children if not properly regulated, a law commissioner has observed.

Law Commissioner Gertrude Hiwa made the observation in Lilongwe on Monday during a consultative workshop for the fifth International Policy Conference on the African Child (IPC) organised by the Malawi Law Commission.

She said inter-country adoptions in some instances are marred by dysfunctional and insufficient regulation which result in serious violations of children's rights.

She said the very children which the system endeavours to improve their wellbeing may be exposed to even greater risks by the system.

"Such risks may include child trafficking, sale of the children , abduction and abuse, coercion of birth parents especially mothers to relinquish their babies, fraud and also corruption," Hiwa said.

"Further Africa has not yet carried out a comprehensive situation analysis of inter-country adoption with the result of unavailability of proper information on the issue and therefore a gap on the accurate status of inter-country adoption in Africa," she said.

Hiwa further said it is important for Africa to try and address this matter collectively and collaboratively in order to ensure a harmonious approach to defeat unscrupulous actors who take advantage of the countries whose rules and systems are weak and therefore puts vulnerable children at even greater risk.
It's always interesting to hear perspectives from sending countries.

Lent: A Time to Listen by Glenn Myers

“After the fire, [there was] a still small voice. And it was so when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and behold, there came a voice unto him, and said . . . .” -1 Kings 19:12-13 (KJV)

Our God is a speaking God, and he would speak to us if we would but listen. “God is forever seeking to speak Himself out to His creation,” asserts A. W. Tozer in his Pursuit of God. “The whole Bible supports this idea. God is speaking. Not God spoke, but God is speaking.”

Listen – Silent

In order for us to hear his voice, however, we must still our racing thoughts, slow down our frenetic activity and set aside intentional time to listen to him. There in the quietness he will restore us and speak to us. The words “listen” and “silent” have the same six letters in them. In order to listen, we must silence all of the other noises in our minds. Likewise, if we want to hear the Lord’s voice, we must be still.

Johannes Tauler, the preacher who greatly influenced Martin Luther, calls us to inner stillness: “In this midnight silence, in which all things remain in deepest stillness and where perfect peace reigns, there we will hear God’s word in truth. For if God is to speak, we must be silent; if God is to enter in, all other things must make room for him.” [1]

As long as we are preoccupied, we will not hear the Lord’s words of love, comfort and direction for our lives. However, if we stop to listen, he will surely speak.

During Lent, let us attend to God’s voice with all our focus. Let us dedicate these days to establishing a habit of silence and listening to our Lord.

Gracious God, thank you that you are not silent! You spoke the Word in all eternity, you pour out your loving thoughts to us continually, and you desire to speak to us today. Here I am: I am listening to what you would say to me today. Amen.

1. Johannes Tauler, Johannes Tauler Predigten: Vollständige Ausgabe. Edited by Georg Hofmann. Freiburg: Herder, 1961.

© 2011 Glenn E. Myers


Glenn E. Myers is author of Seeking Spiritual Intimacy: Journeying Deeper with Medieval Women of Faith (InterVarsity Press, 2011), welcoming believers to pursue a deeper walk with Christ. He is also a contributor to Zondervan’s Dictionary of Christian Spirituality (2011). Glenn’s passion is helping contemporary Christians grow spiritually by introducing them to the rich heritage of the past two thousand years of the church. Offering fresh spiritual water to thirsty saints today, he authors a blog:

In 1995-1996, he and his wife Sharon ministered with CBN in Kiev. Receiving an M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in church history from Boston University, Dr. Myers has served as pastor, missionary and professor. Currently he is a professor of Church History at Crown College with a specialization in the history of Christian Spirituality. Glenn also serves on the board at Restoration Ministries, Inc., offering retreats and provides spiritual direction.

© Glenn E. Myers. Used with permission.

Photo Credit: Creation Speaks

"Open Adoption" of Embryos

From TODAYMoms blog:
Carmen Olalde really wanted children. She went through years of infertility treatment and IVF, then a difficult pregnancy, to have her twins. And as her twins turned four, she realized that two kids were enough.

But she still had four frozen embryos from her last IVF cycle. And so she made a decision that put her at the frontier of reproductive ethics. She donated the embryos to a Virginia couple also suffering from infertility, whom she met via a website ad – on the condition that the donation be "open," and they send regular photos of any resulting child and hopefully keep in touch by e-mail and phone.

“My motherly part of me thinks that I think that I would at least want to know what happened to them, that it would hit me once in a while that I have these genetic children out there. But at least I will know that [the couple] Karolina and Oscar have them and that they’re happy, they’re OK,” says Olalde.
Meet the modern "open adoption" family -- at least two hopeful humans and one embryo, brought together by science, trust, complicated legalities and a goodly bit of luck.

Many post-birth adoptions these days are “open,” in which the birth and adoptive families know each other’s name and perhaps have some degree of contact. Pre-birth arrangements may be following suit, though the law hasn't yet caught up.

* * *

The donation arrangements are murky legally, as well as emotionally. Adoption laws only cover children already born, so families involved in embryo donation usually sign forms and contracts dictating "ownership" of the embryos, often hiring their own lawyers for private agreements. Some follow up with a legal adoption after a child is born to further secure their rights.

Margaret Swain, an attorney whose practice focuses on adoption and reproductive technology, says children born from donation will likely appreciate an open arrangement, even though parents might initially feel uncomfortable.

“Following the lessons learned from adoption, and what we are hearing from children born through gamete donation, some degree of openness is probably a good idea. Children born of gamete donation -- donation of either egg or sperm -- usually like to know more about the person who donated, or to meet that person,” she says.
"Adoption" is the word the article uses, which I consider a misnomer when it comes to embryo donation.  "Open donation" would be more accurate here. And the article needs to straighten out another misperception it creates -- by talking about the fact that openness in embryo donation is legally murky, they create the impression that there's no legal murkiness in open adoption agreements.  Indeed, in most states such agreements are still not legally enforceable.

Spain: 92% Adopted Parents Satisfied With Decision

I didn't find the figure at all surprising, but others might -- a study in Spain revealed that the number of adoptive parents satisfied with their decision to adopt is an extremely-high 92%.  The report also identifies some variables that cause lower satisfaction rates, some not surprising and others a bit of a surprise:
"We wanted to know to what extent adoptions in Spain are providing children who need it with a healthy family environment that promotes their development" Yolanda Sánchez-Sandoval, a researcher from the University of Cádiz (UCA) states. In order to assess that, a comprehensive questionnaire was sent to families with adopted children in Andalucía, which was employed, amongst other uses, to assess family's satisfaction with the decision as a measurement of success.

The results show that, although their lives have been not been free of difficulties, these families are happy with the adoption. "Generally speaking, they are very satisfied with their decision and its implications on their family and personal lives" Sánchez-Sandoval affirms.

77.7% of families stated that their lives have been happier as a result of the adoption and 91.9% consider its repercussions to be positive. However, 37% consider family life to be more complicated in their situation.

The children's opinion of their lives is also linked with that of their parents. "When the parents are more satisfied with the adoption, we found that the children are also happier with their own lives" the researcher declares.

In the study, which is published in the journal Psicothema, they identified some variables that are linked with difficulties in adoption, for example, if the children were older when arriving at the home, if they were adopted alone or with a sibling, or if they had previous experiences of abuse.

Adopting a child that they already knew before also affects the process. "Those who adopted children that they had a relationship with before were less satisfied, probably due to the reason for adoption. These families may have felt somewhat obliged, or reflect more on the decision" Sánchez-Sandoval analysed.

The satisfaction is also lower in cases where the parents have a higher level of education. "They have higher expectations" the author says. The mothers are less affectionate and caring, and the children are less caring and have behavioural problems.
So, does anything surprise you in these results?  I'm not quite sure I understand why adoption of children you already know leads to a lower rate of satisfaction.  And don't you love the condemnation of us over-educated, not-affectionate moms?!

I find it interesting that the researchers thought parent satisfaction was a measure that would illuminate what they were apparently studying -- the extent to which adoptions in Spain are "providing children who need it with a healthy family environment that promotes their development." Certainly, it would be A factor, since it would be linked with children's happiness (we're all familiar with the saying, "If mama ain't happy, nobody's happy," right?!).  But I'd think other factors might be more illuminating.  Maybe we'll see other reports from the survey, addressing other issues, in the future.

10 Reasons to Revoke My Natural Parent Card

Welcome to the "I'm a Natural Parent - BUT..." Carnival
This post was written for inclusion in the carnival hosted by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. During this carnival our participants have focused on the many different forms and shapes Natural Parenting can take in our community.

I'm a natural parent. At least, that's what I call myself and that's what I write about. I even write for this spiffy cool web site call "The Natural Parents Network." It's about (get this!) natural parenting. It's pretty obvious that all the volunteers are pretty crunchy and talk about things like breastfeeding, granola, composting, and cloth diapering. But none of us are the perfect natural parent.

I know, I know. GASP! SHOCK! HORROR!

We all have our un-crunchy side, our "big, bad conventional" way of doing things that may shock you. Sit down, get your smelling salts and get ready for a confessional.

Forgive me, natural parent community, for I have some un-crunchy things that I do:

1. I use tampons. Yes, that's right, bleached, flush -able tampons. I use a bajillion cloth products around the house but I haven't given up my tampons. I like the idea of a diva or a keeper but I just can't bring myself to spend 30 dollars on something I might not like. I mean, what do you do with it if it doesn't work for you? "Yes, I used it once but I would like to return it since it doesn't work"? It's not like it's a shirt or something they could resell.

2. I refuse to use a reusable toilet bowl wand OR stick my hand, with a rag attached, into the potty to clean it. I deal with enough sh!t that I would rather use my Clorox wands and put that nasty thing right into the trash. Forgive me, environment, but please remember the years of cloth diapering.

3. Not all of our food is organic. Not even close. AND we like McDonald's. Not as much as Chik-Fil-A but I do like their iced tea and french fries....

4. The little boys are in disposables at night and PuddinPie is in them all the time. If I weren't so cheap, I think we would be done with cloth by now because I am tired of washing diapers. I like cloth and I normally don't mind it, but after nearly eight years, I am feeling done! (Don't worry, my guilty conscience won't let me give up even our 1/4 of the time cloth diapering.)

and sometimes they have
 candy for breakfast!
5. My kids go to the Evil, Soul Sucking Public School and THEY LIKE IT.

6. I have my children in the hospital. Yes, they were all natural, drug free births but they were still in the hospital. I even stay the whole time for a mini vacation with my baby. And, no, I have never eaten, dyhdrated or made a smoothie out of my placenta. I firmly believe in the benefits of it and I do believe it can help off-set PPD... but my husband would faint and then divorce me if I even brought it up!

7. We vaccinate. My children are on a delayed and selective schedule for religious and health reasons (one child has had vaccine reactions) but if it weren't for those reasons, we would probably do everything on the traditional schedule because, well, we would.

8. I used formula with my third child when he weaned because I was pregnant. I even needed to use the evil Nestle brand because it was the only kind he could tolerate. My fourth child got formula as a newborn and I really believed it saved his life.

9. I have a temper. Granted, I am so much better than I used to be and people can even describe me as mild mannered sometimes but, yeah, I've been known to yell. Hey, I only do it when provoked AND I'm working on it!

10. My kids watch TV and like characters. We have Cars, princesses, cars, more cars, trains with faces and more trains...oh, and American Girl dolls! floating around this house... and I don't mind one whit!

there is nothing organic about this food.
 Whew! I feel better now. Now you know, even with my (1/4 of the time) cloth diapering, my homemade cleaners, eco-friendly soap for clothes, homeopatic remedies and extended breastfeeding, I am far from the perfect natural parent. But you know what? Parenting isn't about being the perfect parent... it's about being the perfect parent for your child. And sometimes, what they need is a mom who will surprise them with a picnic McDonald's lunch at the playground on the perfect fall day. Or a mom who buys the laundry soap on-line instead of making it so she can watch Cars2 (again) with them and eating popcorn. Parenting, even natural parenting, isn't about being perfect but, rather, "darn near perfect" moments and memories.

(The yelling thing though? Yeah, I'm working on that!)



I'm a Natural Parent — But … Blog CarnivalThis carnival was created by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. We recognize that "natural parenting" means different things to different families, and we are dedicated to providing a safe place for all families, regardless of where they are in their parenting journeys.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Should kids be asked to care for a disabled sib?

This is the author's note to Pillow: A sibling story, which was written by Sophia Isako Wong. Sophia has a 40-year-old brother with Down syndrome. She is an associate professor of philosophy at Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York. She writes about political and educational inclusion for people with cognitive disabilities and justice within family relationships.

I wrote this story to illustrate how typical siblings may feel when they provide “respite care” for their parents. Research shows that parents often believe that their children are emotionally mature enough to recognize their own developmental needs and to speak up for themselves. One parent said, “I know if it’s too much for her she’ll tell me.”

Let me tell you a secret: we sibs don’t tell our parents how we truly feel. Our motto is “Never mind me; you have enough to deal with. I’ll figure it out by myself.” If our behaviour seems untroubled and serene, that’s because we are experts at hiding our worries, resentment, envy and nightmares.

In families untouched by disabilities, sisters and brothers fight, argue, sulk and express the whole spectrum of feelings toward each other. In our families, we never get that opportunity. With our sibs, it is never a fair fight. Even if we have a just cause, the disabled child usually gets the lion’s share of our parents’ attention and sympathy.

We’ve learned through experience that we are rewarded with positive attention from parents for being the easy child, and sometimes reproached for making more trouble for you. So we often help you without complaining.

We watch you every day. We see that parents have far too much to do, resources are lacking, and there aren’t enough hours in the day.

When we notice how exhausted you are, we fear that you won’t be able to take care of us adequately, or you might have to quit your jobs, and where would we be then? So we volunteer to give you a break, thinking this will help the whole family survive. “Parentification” is what happens when children perform the role of parent at the expense of their own developmentally appropriate needs and pursuits. When children take on responsibilities performed more appropriately by an adult, they feel torn between looking after the vulnerable sibling and taking care of their own needs.

If a child or teenager (mistakenly) perceives that his needs are less important than the needs of others in the family, he may volunteer to sacrifice time and energy he would otherwise devote to school, friendships and typical childhood activities.

Research shows increased risk of psychological and social problems in some siblings who are burdened by excessive caregiving roles and who, in effect, become ‘little parents.’

Here’s the good news: the whole family benefits when parents take breaks from the exhausting work of caring for a child with disabilities. Parents need to take care of their own health by asking support staff, neighbours, friends and family members to help out. Doing so gives them precious time to rest and recover from the stresses of parenting a child with disabilities.

Even if your typical child is eager to babysit, and is supremely confident she can handle it, please make sure an adult is supervising her at all times. That way, she doesn’t have to function as an adult before she is ready. By helping but not being in charge, typical children can continue to focus on what they need to be healthy and safe.

Trust me, we siblings of kids with disabilities feel intensely guilty whenever we play with other kids, master skills that the disabled sib will never learn, or pass for normal in a crowd. We’re acutely aware that we are very lucky to be non-disabled, and that we might have been born in the disabled sib’s shoes.

Some of us are forever trying to make it up by being on our best behaviour, concealing our negative feelings and accepting more than our fair share of household chores. Many of us see ourselves as Super Sibs: born to babysit. You may even believe that we are more high-functioning and more emotionally mature than other kids our age. Don’t be fooled: we are kids with the same concerns and complex emotions as other young people.

So if your child volunteers to babysit before she has become a competent adult mature enough to have her own children, I hope you’ll think of Pillow and Sister and say: “No, honey, go ahead and play. We’ll hire a babysitter, use respite, or ask other adults to help us when we need a break.”

Recipe: Magic Soap Scum Remover

Perhaps you've seen it on Pinterest or heard about it elsewhere on the web: Dawn and vinegar make a "magic" soap scum remover. And, like me, you went, "Yeah, right."

But... have you tried it?


I was toodling around Pinterest and I read a blog that had before and after pictures of her shower. Suddenly I went from "Don't believe everything you read on the interwebz" to "well, someone tried it and took pictures; therefore, it must work!" I had everything on hand (including the dirty shower!) and decided to give it a go. I figured the worst thing that would happen would a be a shower coated in Dawn and possibly more soap scum. Best case? A clean shower with minimal elbow grease. (The latter is important as I do NOT scrub anything, showers included.)

I do not have before and after pictures so you will have to trust me- this thing WORKS. The bath had some soap scum and a little spray and some wiping with an old washcloth and TA DA! Clean as a whistle! As a bonus, I don't feel like I am bathing my kids in chemicals if I don't get it all wiped or rinsed off. It's just Dawn and vinegar!

You will need:

One spray bottle. I found one at the dollar store but you can re purpose an old bottle too.
Dawn. The original link said the "blue" Dawn but I only had the green kind and it worked fine.
Plain, boring white vinegar.

In a microwave safe container (I used a pyrex measuring cup) pour in vinegar. You will need to use equal parts Dawn and vinegar. I had a small spray bottle so I only used half a cup of each.

Warm the vinegar (and only the vinegar) in the microwave. (Yes, your house will smell like warm vinegar. There are worse smells.) Pour into the spray bottle. Add the same amount of Dawn. Shake.

Spray your soap scum covered area. Now, this isn't a chemical, per se, but it does have a strong oder. Our shower area is enclosed and I needed to turn on the bathroom fan. While I like using things like vinegar and Dawn to clean with because the kids can use them, I would NOT let my kids use this. It was still hot and, like I said, the smell was strong.

Allow the spray to sit. You can even let it sit overnight for truly super gross areas. I let the bathtub sit for a few minutes and then rinsed and wiped. I let the shower sit for longer and used the detachable shower head to spray down the shower. I should have let the super gross parts (the bottom of the shower doors) sit for longer but they still got clean.

The one cup of cleaner (half a cup EACH of vinegar and Dawn) was more than enough for the super gross shower, slightly gross tub and more gross half bath. A little goes a long way.

Now I did have to really spray the shower doors and floor. Both the shower and tub required more rinsing than I thought they would, but it was still worth it. I had to wipe down the inside of the metal tracks in the showers and what I removed... ew. But they are bright and shiney and clean now!

When everything was dry, I did have to go back with a slightly damp cloth and wipe the inside of the doors. However, I don't think I rinsed the shower well enough the first time around.

I don't know if this would work with a more natural dish soap, like Seventh Generation. Someone needs to try it and tell me!

I'm am now a believer that a little Dawn will do anything, from clean my dishes to wash my hands to stripping my diapers to cleaning soap scum off showers! I think I have become brand loyal to this stuff and, hey, it's worth it for sparkling clean showers on a dime!

Linsanity & Perpetual Foreignness

I've written before (both as a scholar and a blogger) about the concept of "perpetual foreignness," that class of individuals with "marks of foreignness," like speaking English with a foreign accent or being Asian or Hispanic, groups often assumed to be foreign-born, regardless of actual place of birth. Here's what I said about perpetual foreignness in a law review article examining the Constitution's requirement that the president be a "natural born citizen:"
Being “foreign” seems to trump “citizenship” for naturalized citizens. Many naturalized citizens, especially when non-White, are seen as “permanently foreign.” Robert Chang argues that the figure of “perpetual internal foreigners” has been necessary to construct America’s sense of identity, because immigration and naturalization restrictions “were based on a sense of who properly belonged in the national community.” Without restrictions on who could be a citizen, there would be no “them” to compare “us” to. Once the foreign-born become citizens through naturalization, the “myth of a historically homogeneous American identity” must be preserved by devaluing naturalized citizens. One might argue that it is different today, where immigration laws are no longer based on race, where, as Nathan Glazer puts it, “a strong accent, a distant culture, is no bar to citizenship.”

But Professor Glazer must concede, “whatever we mean by the American nation, the new citizen may not yet be considered a full member of it by many of his fellow citizens, because of race or accent.” He continues: "Many of us, perhaps most of us, have a mind-set in which certain races and nationalities, despite their formal equality in American law, despite the fact that distinctions of race are not recognized in immigration or naturalization law, have a greater claim to becoming American and are accepted as more legitimately American than others.

In America, it seems, some citizens are more equal than others.
Of course, this concept of perpetual foreignness is not limited to naturalized citizens.  Those who are born in the United States -- but are from groups thought to be "foreign," like all minority races other than African-American -- also face the stigma of perpetual foreignness.  Remember when Tara Lipinski and Michelle Kwan won gold and silver in 1998 Olympic figure skating? One headline announcing the result read, "American Beats Kwan." Tara Lipinski, American. Michelle Kwan, not so much, despite the fact that she was born and raised in California.  Michelle Kwan, perpetual foreigner.

What about Jeremy Lin?  Everyone knows he was born in America -- he's touted as one of the first Asian-AMERICAN players in the NBA (actually, he's frequently touted as THE first, which isn't true, since the first was a man of Japanese descent in the 1940s).  But is Lin REALLY American?!  That's the question subtly asked in this Time Magazine piece about whether Lin, who is apparently unlikely to be selected for the American team by Team USA coach Jerry Colangelo, would play for the CHINESE team in the upcoming Olympics:
Colangelo, however, says he won’t be swayed by public opinion, or even the remote possibility of China taking him away. Lin’s maternal grandmother is from mainland China, and Xinhua, the state news agency, has already called on Lin to renounce his U.S. citizenship and suit up for the Chinese team. (China does not allow dual citizenship. Lin’s parents are from Taiwan, but the Taiwanese team cannot qualify for the London Games).

Yes, it would seem outlandish for Lin to join the Chinese team. . . .
YES, it would seem outlandish -- or in the vernacular, completely LINSANE -- so why are they advancing such an idea??!!! All it takes is being Asian, and suddenly we speculate on whether you are willing to renounce your American citizenship in order to play for a foreign team!?! See, when you're a perpetual foreigner, your American-ness is always in doubt, slightly suspect, apparently disposable.  Being "foreign" trumps citizenship, even birthright citizenship.

Even more outlandish than the idea that Lin would join the Chinese team is the fact that a major news magazine like Time would actually speculate about it.  They need to read the Asian American Journalists Association guidelines for reporting about Jeremy Lin (how sad that they actually needed to issue such guidelines):
Jeremy Lin is Asian American, not Asian (more specifically, Taiwanese American). It's an important distinction and one that should be considered before any references to former NBA players such as Yao Ming and Wang Zhizhi, who were Chinese. Lin's experiences were fundamentally different than people who immigrated to play in the NBA. Lin progressed through the ranks of American basketball from high school to college to the NBA, and to characterize him as a foreigner is both inaccurate and insulting [emphasis added].
Indeed.  The AAJA's bottom line is a good one: "Stop to think: Would a similar statement be made about an athlete who is Caucasian, African American or Latino?" Words to live by.

Pillow: A sibling's story

This is a short story written by an adult sibling about the emotional bind siblings feel when they're burdened by excessive caregiving of a brother or sister with disability. We will follow the story this weekend with a note from the author about her personal experience and research. I hope this will spark a lively discussion.

Pillow: A sibling's story

Every time Sister packs for a trip, she takes along Pillow, a battered cushion in a rectangular cotton cover. Mysteriously stained, once-white, with a print pattern in faded primary colours, Pillow looks suspiciously childish for a trilingual woman in her 20s fearlessly travelling the world.

Sister recalls the day she got Pillow. It was a spring afternoon, and her parents wanted to visit the new IKEA store. They usually went everywhere as a family, but Brother was so slow and clumsy. He touched everything, spoke loudly and often made everyone stare in public places.

Sister felt embarrassed just imagining what could happen if they all went together. She knew they couldn’t afford a babysitter. Her parents were eager to go out for a change of pace, so she said she’d rather stay home alone with Brother. Easier for everyone that way.

Mom and Dad are back, their arms full of new things. After describing the taste of the Swedish meatballs, Mom holds out a small white pillow. “We got something for you, Sister. This is your reward for being such a good sister while we were out shopping.”

Surprised, Sister wonders: What about Brother? He’s been home alone as well.

Looking closely, she notices bright red teddy bears, pink-faced dolls and yellow trucks all over the pillow. Do her parents think she’s still a baby?

Just this morning they said, “You’re very mature for your age. We know you’ll be fine looking after your brother until we get back. Thanks for offering to do this.” Sister panics. Wait. Have I missed something?

She runs through her checklist: I made sandwiches for lunch, cleaned up the kitchen, told friends I can’t play today, helped him in the bathroom, played in the yard, then sang softly to calm him down after he got scared by a neighbour’s dog. She inspects his face and hands. They look clean enough.

Holding her breath, Sister wonders if they will detect that Brother tripped and scraped his knee while running in the yard. Parents and teachers seem to have a way of knowing when something bad has happened, even when kids don’t tell them right away. What if they notice the scrape later? They’ll be so angry at me for letting him hurt himself. Selfish me, I was the one who wanted to play outside since it’s so nice out. I knew I should have kept him inside all day. I’ll never forgive myself if his leg gets infected now.

Sister decides to volunteer to help with bath time. That way nobody else will see the scrape. I guess it’s okay I didn’t call the doctor. It wasn’t an emergency. She puts on three drops of iodine to disinfect the scrape before sticking on the band-aid, just as she’s seen her parents do a million times.

As she takes the pillow, Brother hugs her. “Thanks for taking care of me. I’m so happy you’re my sister.” What a relief. Brother’s already forgotten about his scrape.

Sister isn’t sure whether she deserves this unexpected gift. She’s anxious to get to the math homework she hasn’t even started. She presses the pillow to her chest and says the magic words that make them smile. “Thanks, Mom and Dad. You can go to IKEA anytime you want.”

Beautiful, Beautiful: A guest post

As I stepped off the plane, all I could do was cry.  I’m sure it was because I knew I was finally going to see my kids again but it also could have been because everyone around me was speaking English!  We were finally back on US soil with our new daughter after what was undoubtedly the hardest 6 ½ weeks of my life.  I’m a bit surprised that I had any tears left at that point.  We came home from Ukraine physically and emotionally depleted in ways I had never known possible.  The child we brought home with us was deeply emotionally scarred….a reality that slapped me in the face when I thought the hardest thing we would have to deal with was her physical disability. Don’t get me wrong.  I’d read all of the books and looked at all of the web sites.  I’d heard all of the stories, but hearing it and living it are two very different things.  To say that she was challenging would be a gross understatement.  With little reserves left after the ordeal of bringing her home, I wondered how in the world I was going to parent this child. 


A couple of days after arriving home, I found myself sobbing in my closet, begging God not to make me do this…it was a little too late at that point though, and I knew it, which made it even harder to deal with.  I had made a fairy tale out of our adoption and it came crashing down.  I learned very fast how incredibly weak I was, how ill equipped I was to parent her, and how little I knew about what love really was.  Love comes easy when someone is easy to love.  This kind of love was different, it was a choice, an action despite your feelings, and it was hard.

During the early weeks and months, we were learning who our daughter was and helping her to heal from her past and the fears that the present brought.  In that time, The Lord used the song “Beautiful, Beautiful’ by Francesca Battistelli to minister to me. 

Finding Beauty

Every time I listened to this song, I heard truth among a million lies that went through my head each day.  God saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself.  He chose me as Oksana’s parent and would help me be who I needed to be for her.  He was all I needed.  I knew that through the pain of my circumstances He would create something beautiful and I would experience joy through His work in my life.

A year and a half later it is sometimes still really hard, but beauty abounds!  Beauty is holding her in my arms when she looks up at me and says “I love you so much,” and the feeling is mutual.  Beauty is hearing her belly laugh.  Beauty is seeing her delight in kissing her brothers good night.  Beauty is watching her love life and live it to the fullest rather than fear life.  Beauty is in signs of healing, physically and emotionally.  Beauty is what the Lord has done in all of us.  We are different, we are changed, we are joyful. It is truly beautiful!

Erin Loraine is married to Larry, her high school sweetheart, and they have been blessed with 3 kiddos.  Clayton is 12, Evan is 9, and Oksana, who was adopted from Ukraine in 2010 is 6.  Oksana has Cerebral Palsy and microcephaly keeping her family on their toes!  They are in the process of bringing home a Bulgarian Beauty with Down Syndrome.  Erin blogs about her joys and struggles at 

Beautiful, Beautiful (Lyrics)

Don’t know how it is You looked at me
And saw the person that I could be
Awakening my heart
Breaking through the dark
Suddenly Your grace

Like sunlight burning at midnight
Making my life something so
Beautiful, beautiful
Mercy reaching to save me
All that I need
You are so
Beautiful, beautiful

Now there’s a joy inside I can’t contain
But even perfect days can end in rain
And though it’s pouring down
I see You through the clouds
Shining on my face


I have come undone
But I have just begun
Changing by Your grace

Quick Takes Friday: PTSD and Lent

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Last week, I went to a party at a friend's house. One of her friends, who I know through MOPS, was beginning to sell jewlery. Normally, I hate those parties because I hate to feel the pressure to buy something from someone. This was low key, though, and  I really enjoyed everyone's company and, yes, I bought a couple things.

There was one other mother there and she looked familiar. We began swapping birth stories and all three of the women at the party tend to go late. We were laughing and joking and I said, "I'm one of those on the flip side- I go early!" It came up that the other mom was a NICU nurse who worked at the same NICU Georgie was born at... and was there the same time we were.

Yes, she was Georgie's nurse. That's why she looked so familiar.

She remembered Adam, of course, and didn't seem to have fond memories of me. I admit I was stressed out (duh!) but I know I didn't yell or chew out the nurses or anything. I apologized and tried to explain... but, really, I would like to think she understood. That didn't stop the little flash backs from happening later that night, and the intrusive thoughts about the NICU.

Jack's mom on "Life With Jack" wrote about PTSD in her post entitled "Post Tramatic Stress Disorder." I'm sad that she had to go through that but happy that she wrote about it. And, selfishly, it reminds me that I am not alone.

I've been following "Hand to Hold" on their Facebook page and I wish I had known about this when Georgie was born. Blaine Carr has an article about PTSD (PTSD: When the Trama of the NICU Persits). His daughter was born a month early. So many times we only hear about the preemie and micropreemie parents and their trauma. While no one will deny that children who are born more prematurily face more problems and complecation, the trauma to children and parents who have a "short" NICU stay is often over looked. I am glad that this article acknowledges the mental, physical and emotional trauma those with short NICU stays go through.

On the preemie front, a new study shows that babies delivered via c/s may be at greater risk for respitory problems. However, the article I linked seems that they are only talking about children with IUGR. Also, anyone who has kept one finger on the pulse of the preemie world, or bith in general, would know that the ACOG decied a year or so ago to recommend that otherwise healthy babies and mothers not be delivered before 39 weeks. Their reason is that due dates are not often accurate and that if the due date is off two weeks either way, a 39 week baby (37-41 weeks) is still term, whereas a 37 week baby whose due date is off by two weeks (35-39 weeks) may not be term.

I was, however, pleased to see this note: At the same time, recent research shows that a baby’s lungs and brain undergo important growth and development during the last few weeks of pregnancy, and that babies born just three to six weeks before their due dates are more likely to suffer disabilities or developmental delays in kindergarten. Thank you! Let's bring some awareness to the fact that the last few weeks of pregnancy are not just for sh!ts and giggles. Really important stuff, like, I dunno, THE BRAIN develops during that time.

Again, if one more person tells me that late term preemies are just fine, have no problems and are NOT at greater risk for XYZ, I might kick them in the balls. Just sayin'.

Lent began this week. I am giving up junk food and, as a family, we are giving up going out to eat. Joseph is giving up soda and I think Camille is giving up a cheerful disposition. Just kidding... I am not sure what she is giving up!

Don't know what to give up for Lent? Check out LifeTeen's suggestions! So many times we think about giving up food or going on a diet or stick with the same old, same old.... but how about giving up your pillow? Or any "found" money, like in the couch cushions or on the ground, gets donated?
Confused as to why Catholics do what we do during Lent? Busted Halo tells you in two minutes!

Artyom News

Well, not really about Artyom, but about about Torry Hansen and the Hansen family, those fine folks who sent 7-year-old Artyom back to Russia with a note saying they did not wish to parent him any longer --

First, the Shelbyville (TN) Times Gazette has an exclusive interview with Nancy Hansen, Artyom's grandmother, who escorted him to that international flight to send him -- alone -- to Russia to be picked up by a stranger and transported to the Children's Ministry. Mostly she complains about the lawsuit for child support against Torry:
The family of a woman who sent her adopted son back to Russia in 2010 is speaking out, claiming they never wanted the press barred from court proceedings -- and blasting the attorney they fired earlier this month.

* * *

In an exclusive interview, Hansen told the T-G that Torry has written a letter dated Feb. 12 to Circuit Court Judge Lee Russell, asking for a court-appointed attorney and requesting a transcript of the Feb. 1 hearing. The Hansens claim they have not yet heard a reply from Russell.

Last week, the Hansens' latest attorney, Sandra L.M. Smith of Murfreesboro, filed a motion to withdraw as counsel, saying that she had been unable to communicate with her clients, but Hansen claims that isn't true.

* * *

Hansen claims that after the Feb. 1 hearing, Smith failed to contact her clients to tell them the outcome, saying they had attempted to contact her in the three days that followed, but that Smith did not respond by e-mail or phone. Nancy claims that Smith left a message on Feb. 4, saying she wanted to go over documents, and for the next four days, the Hansens say they tried to get in touch with Smith, but to no avail.

The letter from Torry said "they still don't know what transpired" during the Feb. 1 hearing in Lynchburg, asking to have the transcripts e-mailed to them. Nancy claims that Smith "only tried to cover herself after Feb. 8," also claiming to have recordings of their phone conversations.

Hansen added that Smith could have reached her family if she had wanted to.

Nancy also told the T-G that she was going to travel to Washington state, where WACAP is located, and file a slander suit against the adoption agency. She said that she was going to file it in this state, but now says that "I would not hire another Tennessee lawyer for nothing." She stated she also intended to file a suit against the National Council for Adoption.
Hmm, I'm not sure she'll find a lawyer in Washington state to take the case, having fired 3 previous attorneys and complaining to high heaven about this one. Sounds like the kind of high-maintenance client a lawyer who doesn't want to deal with a grievance filed against him/her with the state bar association will avoid like the plague.

Second, the Washington Post reports on Torry Hansen's failure to attend depositions, leading to a contempt of court hearing:
An American woman who sent her 7-year-old adopted Russian son back to Moscow has been ordered by a Tennessee judge to appear in court to face a possible motion for contempt.

Attorney Larry Crain represents the adoption agency and the boy, Artem Saveliev. Crain said mother Torry Hansen, formerly of Shelbyville, Tenn., has not appeared at three noticed depositions, the last one scheduled for Monday.

On Thursday, Bedford County Circuit Court Judge Lee Russell ordered Hansen to appear in court on March 7 when the judge will consider whether to hold Hansen in contempt of court. He also will consider a motion for a default judgment against her.
I wish I could say all of these shenanigans were unusual in legal proceedings, but they are not. In fact, it all seems rather typical of a family law case, where someone is always unhappy with the lawyer, hiring and firing multiple lawyers, etc. And it's a toss-up on the client-won't-contact-me/lawyer-won't-contact-me she said/she said allegations here -- lawyers hardly ever contact clients as often as the client would like, and clients are always ducking their lawyers when they've done things like failed to show up for a scheduled deposition.  My bet -- Torry will be a no-show for the hearing on contempt, too.  I'll let you know. . . .

But my favorite quote from the Washington Post article:
Nancy Hansen recently told The Associated Press she doesn’t believe Artem was traumatized by being sent home alone.

“All I can say he was very happy when he was on the plane,” she said. “Witnesses have said that he was running all around and he was happy. There were stewardesses watching over him.”
Wow, what a loving, sensitive grandmother! And if I were the lawyer, I'd be slapping a gag on that woman!  According to the Times-Gazette piece, at least part of the unhappiness the Hansens express with their latest lawyer is that she filed motions to exclude the media from the court hearing when the Hansens didn't want the media excluded.  Hmmm, sounds like the lawyer was doing something in the best interest of her clients -- keeping the media from hearing them speak as much as possible!

Friendship part 2

A week ago a blog of mine was picked up by the Huffington Post. It was about the lack of friends in my son Ben's life -- and research showing that isolation is a significant problem for our children, particularly in the teen years, when their social world shrinks instead of expanding.

It's not a topic that anyone likes to talk about. Who wants to admit that their child has no friends?

It really hit me a couple of years ago when I was programming a voice device for Ben and couldn't think of a single authentic friend to include on the friends' page. And this for a boy who has always expressed his desire for friends, and was capable of having some as a younger child.

Over 750 people commented on the post, which tells me that friendship is something we value, that many people struggle with it -- disability or not -- and that this is a big issue.

There were many suggestions: build your child's interests because friendship is based on common interest; join with other parents of kids with disabilities to promote friendships or reach out to programs for kids with disabilities – especially overnight camps – where your child may be better understood; get a service dog; seek out people with alternative lifestyles; use the internet to break barriers, either by setting up a blog or Facebook page.

A number of people were adamant that typical children can never have authentic relationships with our kids, and that they shouldn't be 'forced' to. Even some seasoned parents of kids with disabilities agree: “No matter how kind the typical child or family, the only reliable peers are from the world of disabilities too.” I’m not quite sure what to make of this. It doesn’t sit right with me, but I'm well aware of how complex the issue is.

That's why this piece today by a blogger with spina bifida in the Huff Po bothered me. She argues that if only parents would toughen up and send their kids into the real world, all would be well. "In an effort to protect their children, some parents will only seek out other disabled children for potential friendships," she writes.

I find her tone self-congratulatory ("My family always taught me how to do for myself") and blaming of kids who are more complex and need more support. "I had to make friends with the 'normal' kids because they were the only kids around," she writes.

The comments on my Huff Po piece tell me that many youth -- with and without disabilities -- are unable to 'make friends with the normal kids' despite best efforts. Struggling to find good friends seems to cross every line, and certainly the disability one.

I heard from some organizations that are promoting inclusion or access for people with disabilities. Game Accessibility from the Able Gamers Foundation advocates for accessibility in video games and has great resources. Unified Theatre brings together kids with and without disabilities to develop and perform plays. The concept is simple, reads its website: let teens lead, let creativity rule and treat people with disabilities as complete and entire equals. Together Including Every Student is a peer-matching program that brings students with developmental disabilities together with student volunteers to participate in community activities. Side by Side is a parent’s blog post about a boy’s successful inclusion in a regular school program.

There were parents of kids, with and without disabilities, high school and college students, disabled adults and a businessman who contacted me, wanting to know how they could make a difference. A counselor who also has hearing loss wants to adapt fairy tales to include our children – her first is about a princess who is deaf/hard of hearing. Given Ben’s tiny size, she thought he might be a candidate for inclusion in Jack and the Beanstalk! A breeder offered to donate a pup as a service dog.

The response from my Huff Po piece leaves me hopeful.

Ben and I set up a Facebook page.

What are your thoughts?

Catholic Pride Day!

Happy Ash Wendsday people! It's Catholic Pride Day! Go to Mass and wear your Ashes proudly!

No, I am NOT leaving the internet for Lent. I'm giving up junk food, going out to eat (as a family) and making it my goal to mosey to Confession several times and (hoping!) Stations. This year is the first time since 2008 that I have had to fast. I am doing "okay" fasting. It's... going. Not good but not horrible.

We're headed to Mass in a bit and then having a late dinner of slow cooker potato soup, minus the bacon. Of course, I forgot and popped in chicken bullion cubes. Now, I'm not clean on whether bullion or broth is allowed on meatless days but I try to avoid it. Sadly, the soup was already cooking when I went, "Oh, SNAP!" Ah, well. I'm pretty notorious for forgetting and eating meat on Fridays... but I TRY to remember!

Today was a perfect 50-60 degree day. Cole and I ran errands in the morning and then Cole, Cami and I cleaned out the garage. I swept while the kids played and then they helped me clean out the car. I have no idea what my kids do in the backseat but it was nasty and crumb filled. It also smelled weird. Heh. We've been enjoying this super warm winter but the downside is that I have clean out the garage and car on a regular basis! I can't use the "it's cold and yucky" excuse.

After organizing the laundry room, I am now organizing the home office. I want/need a nice filing cabniet that is not metal or plastic. Of course, all the ones I like are 200 dollars. Right now, the office is at the "giant mess" stage and my goal is to have it done and cleaned up next week. We'll see.

Adoption Legal Cases in the News

Can't help it, I'm a law geek, so I have to share a couple of recent cases I've found interesting.

First, a biological family regains a child after a 6-year custody battle, from what looks to be an illegal adoption, if it's true that the adoptive family just changed the child's birth certificate instead of having a legal adoption proceeding:
Seven years after he was born, a Raytown boy is finally living with his biological parents. Noah Bond’s birth father fought all the way to the Missouri Supreme Court to get his son back.

Until August of 2011, Noah was living in Texas with a couple who wanted to adopt him and who had raised him since he was an infant. But the birth father, Craig Lentz had never agreed to the adoption and his girlfriend, Ebbie Bond says she only did so under duress.

Noah Bond is now seven-years-old, but his birthday in December was the first he ever spent with his parents. It was December 2004 when Craig Lentz filmed the birth of his son when his girlfriend gave birth. But during a bout of what she says was postpartum depression, Ebbie Bond agreed to give up custody.

Lentz’s name wasn’t on the birth certificate so he had no legal standing to stop the process.

“When we went to get it, there was no record that Noah was ever born.”

More than six years of legal battles followed with Stuart and Megan Taylor, who refused to talk with us the one time we caught up with them outside of court.

“Somehow the Taylor’s had changed Noah’s birth certificate without ever having an adoption and that if I died in the accident there would be no record that he was ever born and he would’ve just disappeared into Texas and that would’ve been that,” said Craig Lentz.

The accident Lentz refers to was a car crash on Highway 350 in June of 2010. He died on the operating table twice only to survive months of painful rehabilitation and more delays to his expensive custody battle.
Second, the Baby Veronica case. I was disappointed in the one-sided presentation of the issues in this Anderson Cooper piece (opinion pieces, clearly identifiable as such, can be one-sided, but straight news isn't afforded that luxury!), but even more disappointed in the fact that the "expert" (identified as an expert in disability law and as a child advocate, no mention of expertise in adoption law; still, a lawyer in any field should know better than relying on overruled law!) Cooper interviewed after showing the video (interview not on the video below) got the law wrong.  She says the South Carolina court hearing the appeal of this matter should follow a particular case decided by the courts of Kansas, without noting that the Kansas courts have since rejected that interpretation of the law as wrong! I blogged about the so-called "existing Indian family doctrine," the interpretation of the law the expert was talking about, here.

Third, in this Minnesota case, the appellate court ruled that an Ojibwe mother's rights under ICWA were not followed when she petitioned for custody of her son, who was adopted, and then the adoption disrupted, and the child placed in foster care:
A Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe mother with a history of substance abuse may petition to regain custody of her son, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

The court cited the high threshold of the Indian Child Welfare Act in reversing an Aitkin County judge's decision to deny the mother's petition. She voluntarily terminated her parental rights to the boy, now 12, in 2006.

Under the act, which seeks to protect the rights of Indian tribes in retaining children in their society, a high set of standards must be met before determining the mother is not fit to regain custody. Not all of those standards were met, the court ruled. The case will now return to Aitkin County.

According to the order, the boy, who suffers from multiple behavioral disorders, was removed from his mother's care and adopted in 2008. A year later his adoptive parent sought out-of-home placement because she could no longer care for him due to his behavior. The boy was then placed in foster care with a Native American adult who is not a member of the boy's tribe. The adoptive parent terminated her rights and the boy seemed to thrive in foster care.

Lent: A Time to Draw Close to God by Glenn Myers

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus . . . let us draw near to God with a sincere heart.” –Hebrews10:19-22 (TNIV)

God invites us into his presence. As Christians we are often like the believers in the book of Hebrews—we have the way open to the Father, but we fail to come to him.

Lent is a season set aside to draw nearer to God. It is an appointed time to pursue afresh the deeper life. For nearly 2000 years, Christians have dedicated the days leading up to Easter to draw close to the Lord. This is a time to refresh our relationship with him and to refocus our hearts, minds and lives upon God the Father.

In order to refocus our lives, we must intentionally set aside everything else and draw apart with God. In his book, Making All Things New, Henri Nouwen observes, “Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life. Solitude begins with a time and place for God, and him alone. . . . If we really believe not only that God exists but also that he is actively present in our lives—healing, teaching, and guiding—we need to set aside a time and space to give him our undivided attention.”

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. What is something special you can do over the coming weeks to give the Lord your undivided attention? Where is the best place for you to have intimate time with him—a place where you know you will not be uninterrupted? How can you focus all your attention on him?

This Lenten season let us come—individually and corporately—to God’s loving, healing, transforming presence.

Heavenly Father, thank you that you welcome me into your presence. I want to draw closer to you over these coming weeks. Please show me what areas of my life need to change and what ways I can set aside special time for seeking you. You have invited me to come - and my response is "yes, I come to you!"

 Glenn E. Myers is author of Seeking Spiritual Intimacy: Journeying Deeper with Medieval Women of Faith (InterVarsity Press, 2011), welcoming believers to pursue a deeper walk with Christ. He is also a contributor to Zondervan’s Dictionary of Christian Spirituality (2011). Glenn’s passion is helping contemporary Christians grow spiritually by introducing them to the rich heritage of the past two thousand years of the church. Offering fresh spiritual water to thirsty saints today, he authors a blog:

In 1995-1996, he and his wife Sharon ministered with CBN in Kiev. Receiving an M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in church history from Boston University, Dr. Myers has served as pastor, missionary and professor. Currently he is a professor of Church History at Crown College with a specialization in the history of Christian Spirituality. Glenn also serves on the board at Restoration Ministries, Inc., offering retreats and provides spiritual direction.

© Glenn E. Myers. Used with permission.

Photo Credit: Creation Speaks