Monday, January 31, 2011

Make Mine a Monday

While preparing dinner one evening to the constant drone of the Indiana Jones theme song interrupted with Lego characters in combat, my ears suddenly tuned into the voice of my daughter lamenting to her brother Sam:

       "Sam, I'm tired of this wench.  I don't want it anymore.  How do I get rid of the wench?"

So remember.... no matter how horrible you think your Monday is, at least you don't have to get rid of your wench!

Happy Monday everyone!

Grace and Peace,

Friday, January 28, 2011

Creating Outliers

A couple weeks ago I  read Outliers—The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell.  Tony picked it up over the Christmas break out of curiosity.  He’s had several of Gladwell’s books recommended to him, Outliers, being the most widely mentioned.  Soon into the first chapter, I was receiving my own read-aloud time by my husband.  “Honey, you’ve gotta read this book.  It’s so true.  You’d like it”.  Then, dear Love, I thought; STOP READING IT TO ME!  He did.

         Each chapter contains stories of successful people—some as famous as Bill Gates, and some not quite so well known but happily successful, none-the-less.  He breaks down their lives, looking at the historical, cultural, social-economic and educational context in which these people were fortunate enough to be born.  He shows that it is no accident that NFL Hockey players most overwhelmingly are born in the first three months of the year, Jewish immigrants born in the 1930’s were destined to be successful lawyers and doctors, and Southern Chinese students will always excel in math because they have been given a historical legacy of farming rice paddies. 

         His thesis is that our way of viewing success is horribly flawed, and if only we could understand all the arbitrary decisions, lucky breaks and cultural or socio-economic advantages that outliers (those who seem to break the mold and rise above the status-quo) are given, then we could create a world full of outliers—people who recognize the gift they’ve been given and have the strength and presence of mind to seize the opportunity—rather than a world that has settled for a few “greats”, assuming they only reached the top because they are exceptionally gifted or genius.

         As I read Outliers for myself—NOT through my husband’s oratories—I naturally began replaying our own family’s decisions through the years.  The choices we’ve made, the social, economic & historical context in which we were raised and how all those minute seemingly insignificant details are, in their own way, gifts and opportunities.

         Most of my thoughts traveled to that which happened within my own family; seemingly “random” acts, or single decisions made with what information we had at the time, but had they not happened there would be no Team Dragovich in all our greater glory.  But, there is one larger cultural development that I recognize as having profoundly impacted our family—the tremendous rise in Korean adoption at just the right time.

         In the 1980’s I was happily growing in my farming community, living quite sheltered from the rest of the world.  Nothing exciting or out of the ordinary happened in Mt. Olive, until the high school English teacher and his wife—who happened to be members of my family’s church—adopted a little girl from South Korea.  A few years later, they brought home a son from the same country.  This was both exciting and out of the ordinary.  It was all I could do to keep from twisting my head from my family’s pew towards the back to their family’s pew just to gawk a little at this new and out of the ordinary occurrence—adoption from a foreign country!   I pondered during the sermon; maybe I could adopt some children from a foreign country some day when I grow up… hmmm.

         A very quick Google search revealed the exact sort of historically significant trend to which Gladwell would have pointed in his book.  After the Korean War in 1953, adoptions from South Korea rose significantly, filling orphanages with children orphaned from the war or those whose fathers were Western soldiers.  This adoption trend continued to rise steadily, spiking upwards around the late 1980’s due to the legalization of abortion, increased use of contraceptives, and changes in the social welfare program combined to create a shortage of children for adoption domestically.  I just happened to be an impressionable young girl in the mid-1980’s at the exact time South Korean adoptions were at their peak, reaching all the way into our little Mid-western town, exposing me to the wonder of international adoption.

         I wonder what I will be writing 20 and 30 years from now, when my children are all grown and living out their expressed purposes, adding to the significance of Korean adoptions.  All five are future Outliers.  And I suspect it is part of their purpose to create more.

Grace & Peace,

Monday, January 10, 2011

Let it Snow

            I’m watching the snow fall for the third time this winter as I attempt yet again at regularly scheduled blogging.   Maybe I have been transported to a northern state in my sleep— perhaps back to Maryland, or even somewhere I have not lived yet, but romanticize about… maybe Portland, Maine.  I wish I could say I am enjoying the white fluffy view.  I am not.  Last week I began running in the morning—just a 25 minute “wake me up and jostle the soul side of me” run.  It has been wonderful.  But I’m not going to risk slipping in the snow this morning for 25 minutes of fresh air…. So I guess my children will have to suffer with coffee-cleared only mommy, as if that is such a new reality for them.  Hmmm—maybe romanticizing about Portland, Maine isn’t my answer.

         Too much time has elapsed to try and update the life of Team Dragovich from the last post to this one.   I am left with only my memories of the 2010 holiday season and the impressions and ponderings left within me, compared to last year.  Probably the most prominent recognition I have of this holiday season is of normalcy.  I can’t remember the last time we’ve spent Christmas without some eminent life change either having just happened, about to happen or in the midst of happening—preparing for a move, recovering from a move, transitioning from student to resident, resident to professional, professional to administrator.  Deployment, adoption, post-deployment, post- adoption—endless swaying in the seas of transition.  This year was marked by nothing.  And that is exactly how it has distinguished itself in my mind. 

         JB and Risa ate up every Advent and Christmas tradition with grand eagerness and excitement, constantly reminding me of how it was “last year”.  It was as if I could see the roots growing from their feet, imbedding themselves more firmly into the garden of our family, securing themselves in our soil and enlivening their souls as they experienced traditions with which they now had familiarity and could appreciate.  Security.  Contentment.  An evenness of emotions pulsed through me.  Oh Joy! 

What struck even deeper, was an amazement that a year and a half which had seemed so traumatic and often tragic to me, somehow produced in them love, security and belonging.  How is this?   When I look back on the short time JB and Risa have been home, I still can barely bring the depth of my experience to  surface.  Like when Wyatt wants to reminisce on the months of Tony’s deployment or ask endless questions about Iraq, Tony’s experiences, our fears, traumas (my grandfather’s unexpected death, for example, or seeing pictures of JB and Risa for the first time, not together but over thousands of miles between us) and just remembering daily life—there is a point at which the veil is let down and we can go no further.  The capacity to surface and unwrap such powerful emotions is not there yet.  Our adoption carries the same level of emotional sacredness for me.  And yet, this Christmas and New Year were testaments to God’s personal love for our family, His unwavering commitment in spite of my soul’s seemingly endless struggle against depression and the truth of His Word lived out in us: 

“And we know that in ALL THINGS God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28

“Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to the it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
So is my Word that goes out from my mouth:  It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”  Isaiah 55:8-12

Maybe the snow isn’t so bad after all.

Grace and Peace,