Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Must-Read.

My wife doesn't update her blog often, but when she does, it's always worth reading. I encourage everyone to check out this post. Heartbreaking as it might be, it is a transcription of the letter she had to write to the attorney in Africa explaining why we had to forsake our adoption process.

The letter itself is written in a very African style, in Michelle's attempt to speak to the adoption attorneys in their own Ugandan variation of the English language. But the introduction she wrote is very much her own:

I never thought it would end this way. I woke up at 4 am with the grace to write the following letter out.

I am dedicating this post to birth mothers, who loved their children so much they chose to place them with families that could care for them better than they could. Who love so deeply they are willing to hurt the rest of their lives so that their children don't. I honor you women.

Goodbye, my sweet boy. I love you this much.

I admire her bravery in acknowledging and tending the emotional wounds she's sustained in the past few months. I admire her grace and poise in the grieving process. And I admire her willingness to share our story with the rest of the world.

To paraphrase an earlier post: Life goes on. God is good.

Blessings, Brave One.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Writing Is Easy: Clarity Is For Champions!

This is possibly my favorite Calvin & Hobbes strip ever, as it deals with not one but two of my writing pet peeves in one strip! One (the unnecessary proliferation of verbs in our culture--it's like a nuclear arms race in here) I've written about before; the other is the topic of today's entry in the fabulously successful "Writing Is Easy" entries.


It's something we all want, unless we're writing egghead essays to impress college professors (and even then, sometimes dense language foliage isn't welcome). And yet, so many people are downright incoherent in their written communication.

Should you strive for clarity, the solution is, I think, simple: write whatever you want, then take a step back, and edit. This, I fear, is the achilles heel of most writing today, this lack of edit. We've become accustomed to vomiting our thoughts into the internet, or into an email, or onto a Microsoft Word document, and then clicking "Send."

Stop. Wait. Look at what you've written. Read it from your audience's point of view. Does the punctuation make sense? Does it speak the same language your audience speaks? Are you shooting over their heads? Under them? Can you adjust it to be more clear? Combine sentences, perhaps? Or correct run-on sentences? Perhaps you're asking too many questions at once?

You get the point. Step back. Edit. Don't end up like this...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

"Life Is Like A Toilet."

So said my six-year-old son yesterday. He has dreams of becoming a writer when he grows up, and he's pretty good at ferreting out spiritual truths from everyday things.

For example, on Easter Sunday, he informed us that Easter eggs are a reminder of Easter because you open up the egg and take out the candy, which makes it empty inside, just like the tomb was when Jesus rose from the dead.

However, he uncorked a couple of beauts last night. As we drove home from an outing, he said that "Life is like a toilet. When you get all dirty and yucky, you flush the toilet and it all comes back clean. So if you are feeling meanness, you have to flush the toilet and get rid of the meanness and then it will come back as kindness."

I think he meant something about prayer in the middle of that there.

Number two (pardon the pun): My eight-year-old daughter had a compass last night, and she asked me how it worked. So I showed the kids, and then Noah pulls out: "God is like a compass. He shows you the right way you should go."

"Yeah," I said, "you're right. If you ever feel anger or meanness, you can ask God how you should act and he'll show you which way to go."

"Yeah," he said. "But what if someone keeps hitting you in the face with a dodge ball?"

I stifled a smile. "I guess you should just pray and ask God what direction you should go."

"I just walked away," he said.

Uh oh. So he wasn't being silly with the question. I asked him what was up, and he told me that a couple of kids at a birthday party he'd attended earlier had decided to pick on him during a dodge ball game. When he walked away (a move for which I heaped hearty praise on him), they followed him out of the dodge ball pavilion and kept trying to peg him with the balls (for which they were chastised by adults present).

"Why do you think those guys were picking on you, Noah?" I asked.

"I don't know," he said, flicking his hair out of his face with a quick jerk of his head. "Probably because of my smooth moves."