Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chaos theory, the butterfly effect, and comfort

I am sitting quietly this morning on this corner of the couch as one of the few spaces not currently being occupied by laundry or some other object belonging to 1 of 5 children. I only say quietly because I am sick and the others shlept off to church. It's funny how disruptive 1 parent being under the weather changes the entire dynamic of what occurs inside the home, especially over a weekend.

It's a bit like the butterfly effect, made famous in 1972 by Edward Lorenz in a paper titled "Does the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?" In other words, do small changes in initial conditions of a system, in this case our household dynamics and me being sick, cause a chain of events leading to large scale phenomena? For the most part I spent the day yesterday holed up in bed, another location void of other people's stuff encroaching into my space, although I am only applying that to my half of the bed. Upon emerging from the cave this morning and attempting to locate a spot to sit upright in, I couldn't help but think of this butterfly effect and chaos theory. I know, call me weird, but it's just what I do sometimes. I have to try and justify all of those years in school and teaching Physics somehow, right?

Initially I am always totally frustrated by this chaos as I truly believe in being good stewards of what God has provided and being slovenly is not that in my system view. However, as I used to point out in discussions with my students around this theory there are often strange attractors in nature and after enough time what looked chaotic and random at first, begins to look like a beautiful pattern. This too is applicable to our household system as the kids know we have an unswerving faith in Jesus as our savior, they are comfortable in their own skin in this system (which is critical for our 2 adopted), and they know love will always be given, even in the midst of the chaos. So while I am sitting here bemoaning the state of affairs (as it relates to clutter) I know the attractors that are key to our household system will at some point reveal the overall pattern again of a picked up and functional home. Given that I am feeling a bit better today I am guessing that will be by tonight!

For now though I am going to sit quietly with a cup of coffee on this corner of the couch.
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Orphans and the Windy City

This past weekend Melissa and I were fortunate enough to get some time away alone in Chicago on an invitation from Lifesong for Orphans. Each year they have a Celebrate Life get together for their partners in ministry and orphan advocates to get together, share experiences, share ministry updates, and pray with and over each other, etc... It was a great way for us to see where we might take our next steps in contributing to God's plans relating to James 1:27.

Some of the folks we had the pleasure to hear from included a really cool ministry called Both Hands. You HAVE to check out what they've got going on, it's simply amazing! They are a ministry example of "two birds with one stone". Check out their stories and see how an amazing idea has lead to taking care of the widow and the orphan all in a single project, what an incredible method!

We also got to meet and listen to Kendall, a 17 year total rock star when it comes to advocating for orphans and the least of these. Check out her own non-profit started when she was 11, Kids Caring 4 Kids. She's so good at what she does, she's been on Oprah, worked with Bill Clinton to raise over $1million, and is now working to raise funds for one of Lifesong's projects in Zambia. Needless to say we were pretty energized about the possibilities as we listen to God's persistent calling on our family.

It's always great when you can mix spiritual refueling with personal refueling so it was a much needed, albeit short, time together as a couple to recharge , discuss, pray, and plan some together, sans little munch-kins. Alas it didn't last long as within 2 hours upon returning home Sunday evening, all heck had broken loose and multiple children were sobbing and dragging their knuckles around the house in despair. My mom and dad couldn't escape fast enough! We do love them, but it was a shock to the system even after such a short respite from them.

It'll be interesting to see where God leads as He begins to uncover these paths for us, so stay tuned.

Oh and for those of you following, I did keep a pocket of $1 bills on me this time, unlike in Boston, while strolling the city.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Loveliest Village on the Plains

All of the kids are always jealous that I take Bailey every year to Auburn's home opener for her birthday, so I hear every week through the rest of the year, can we go to the game this week? Now keep in mind we don't have season tickets and they have no concept of market value as it relates to football tickets and when teams like LSU come into town. Not to mention Auburn's meteoric rise through the rankings this year driving tickets up even more, couple that with a family of 7 and well we now have a financial crisis on our hands. Thankfully homecoming this year fell late in the season and we could actually get something at face value from the ticket office, yeah! The whole gang took the trek at the crack of dawn this past Saturday to Auburn to watch the dismantling of a helpless Tennessee-Chattanooga.

As irony would have it though, after weeks and weeks of So Cal type weather we woke up to a freeze warning and it was a noon game, great! So where are all of those mittens and hats since we moved? None the less everyone but Melissa (her comfort zone is between 65 and 80; am already imagining the pleas to move to Florida by the time we hit 50 yrs old) enjoyed themselves as we hooked up with quite a few other families from church at the Covenant Presbyterian tailgate tent just outside the stadium. All in all it was a fun day for most everyone and boy has the whole rolling of Toomer's Corner improved since I was there. I don't think it would have ever looked like this for a easy romp over a DII school back in the day!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tank You!

So explaining to our 3 year old who's been with us since February that if you put this costume on, ring the doorbell on a stranger's house, hold out a sack, and they'll give you candy, was a treat in and of itself this year. I know very few 3 year olds have any real clue what this odd scene is about, but they at least have been immersed into this enough to know it's just something you should do, especially if they have older siblings. Some friends of ours have a newly adopted middle school aged boy and girl from Ukraine and I understand there have been some really funny conversations leading up to Halloween this year. Needless to say they were dumbfounded by what appears by all accounts to an "outsider" to be some strange and acceptable form of begging while dressed crazily.

F was so business like in his approach it's as if he had planned out some strategy in his head and was methodically ticking down the list as we went. He didn't run from house to house, he's more of a saunterer, taking in the scene, always forcing E to have to stop and wait, much to his consternation. He'd wait for E to say trick or treat, hold up his spider man pillow case, say Tank You, and calmly walk away. Just the facts ma'am, just the facts.

I can only imagine some of the folks around here wondering what in the world are these 2 foreign looking kids dressed as super hero characters doing in this neighborhood? They were quite the pair for sure, the international version of Phineas and Ferb.