Saturday, May 24, 2014

What fostering has taught me, entry 4

I have learned that the court system is about itself, about due process, not the children. I could go on for pages about this and our case in particular, but instead I will offer generalities from our experience and people we know.  Don't me wrong there are judges that want to expedite the cases in order to minimize the harm to the child, and by God's grace I think we have one.

I have learned that the people who care the most about the children are the one's who have little to no voice: the foster parents. If the judges, magistrates and lawyers brought home a foster child for 6 months and tried to parent them they would have eyes that see. I wonder how things would change if the judges, lawyers, magistrates and even social workers, had to take the kids home they make decisions about. I wonder how they might conduct themselves if their work didn't end with the fall of the gavel or that passing of 5:00.

When was the last time a judge had to force themselves to love and unlovely child that is difficult, unruly, disobedient, angry, filled with rage, confused, sad and just plain unlovable? Go ahead and judge me . . .go ahead and think that no child is unlovable or unlovely. Go ahead and call me names. Think what you want, but let me ask you this: when was the last time you loved a child, or adult, that you did not like at all or love at all? When? You simply avoid that child (or person) and move on with your life. But what if that person is in your home, 24 hours a day 7 days a week? We naively thought that love would be enough and that these foster children would sing our praises for rescuing them from a terrible home life. It is not like that. See, you may look at the drug addicted parent who abused the child and think they are just a worthless scumbag. Your attitude and actions towards that parent will be cold, disingenuous, judgmental and condescending. But what you fail to realize is that the foster child loves their drug addicted, abusive mom or dad. Did it ever occur to you that these children love their messed up parents just like you and I love our "normal" parents. Did you ever stop and think that a foster child will always have some love for mom or dad? Some longing for them? What child doesn't want to be with mom AND dad?  In many ways these children are just like you and I.

 It reminds of an illustration (movie,book, sermon...whatever) of a racist white man who was in jail for murdering black folks. This white guy hated all black people, but found himself cuffed to a black man on a chain gang. One day the white man decides that he can escape but of course the black man is cuffed to him. It becomes apparent that in order for the white man to escape to freedom he must first learn to work with the black man, and convince him that he will not kill him. Can you see it? Can you see that in order for us to be truly free we must learn to love those whom we find unlovely. There is something in the illustration that words cannot capture; a truth that is real, yet awkward.  A truth that the foster child is filled with fear and distrust and before we can "run away with them" we must first convince them that we are "good guys". 

Like the 2 prisoners I will go about my life with a person (or persons) tethered to me, I can kill them and carry their body(it's figurative, relax) or win their heart so they will work with me. Which is harder? Freedom is not cutting the cuffs and letting them go. Freedom is learning to give up your selfishness in order to love those you do not like. Freedom in Christ living in me so  I may die to self .  Which is the higher way? Which one does the court do? It takes something otherworldly to press on and not cut the cuffs. 

 When was the last time you felt like you were neglecting your own children for the sake of someone else's . . . because you really were? The courts do not take these kids home...they are names on paper, not mal-adjusted, angry, confused children that need stability. So often the courts drag out these cases and kill children, unintentionally, but they do it.

Friday, May 23, 2014

What fostering has taught me, entry 3

I have learned that the "unknowns" are in some ways harder for me to cope with than it is for the foster children. There are many unknowns in the fostering world, courts, custody, visits and of course the future of your foster children.  Foster children have developed survival skills that are often destructive to them and others. Many of them have lived lives filled with unknowns that "we" cannot imagine. Many do not (or did not) know when they will eat, when they will see mommy or daddy, or when they will witness an act of violence, when they will be beaten,raped or rented out. Many do not know why mommy can't .... or daddy can't. Many do not know their real families, many do not know where they will live next, or if they will ever have a forever home. Many of them do not know love. Many do not know that screaming, hitting, hurting and abusing are NOT forms of love. Many of them do not know Jesus.  They have no control over anything in their lives.
The social worker took them from home and mom/dad, they had no say.  
The social worker found them a foster family, they had no say. 
The social worker/court told them they will visit mom/dad for 2 hours on this day of the week, at this place, with people to supervise, they had no say.
The social worker/court determined that the child should begin weekend visits, they had no say.
The social worker/court determined that weekend visits were not working, so they stopped and they had no say.
The weekly visit was canceled, they had no say.
The social worker/court decided visits would stop forever, they had no say.
The social worker/court decided decided visits should start again, they had no say.
The foster family decided that the child must leave, they had no say.
The foster family decided to adopt them, they had no say.
The foster child got a new last name, they had no say.
The foster child was told what room was their's, they had no say.

The foster child is literally controlled by adults that are trying to protect themselves, by social workers who are trying to help mom/dad get well, by foster families that are trying give stability and they are controlled by anger, rage and confusion that they did not ask for and cannot control. 

In an effort to control SOMETHING, ANYTHING, the foster child misbehaves because when he does he can make SOMETHING happen . . even if it is time out, a stern talking to or words of rebuke.  They will always find a way to control something in their lives, even at my expense.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

What fostering has taught me, entry 2

I learned that my birth children will always come before any foster or adopted children.  Too many people try to mold their foster-adopted families into, into  . . . well normalcy and they flounder.

Let me clarify before going on . . . my children from my wife's previous marriage are way more mine than a foster child.  My wife's children have a real connection to my wife, since she birthed them, and that connection is absent with foster-adopt.

When I realized that my first God given responsibility is to my birth children (which includes my wife's birth children) and that my heart would never respond in the same deep way as it does to my children, I felt dirty. I had this idyllic vision of a Brady bunch sort of family and that my heart would overflow with love towards these orphans.  I really thought that I would feel love for my foster-adopt children in the same way I feel love towards my children.  My foster-adopt children can never occupy the same place in my heart as my birth children.  Do you remember in  Genesis 22:2 that Isaac is called Abraham's only son?  I am curious if maybe Isaac is called Abraham's only only son since he was born to Abraham's first wife.  Abraham already had Ishmael by Hagar, his second wife, but Isaac is called his only son.  Dwell on that point, maybe there is something there.

Talk to any adopted person and they will tell you there is a loss of oneness, or bond, with the adoptive family that was meant for their biological family; something will always be missing for them. Always. I had to realize that no matter what I do I may  never "feel" the same feelings of love towards my foster-adopt children, or even "feel" love towards them.  Sounds awful doesn't it?  But the very nature of love is doing, not feeling.  It is a mistake to think we must feel love to give it.  Love is about doing, not feeling.  Tim Keller in his book "The Meaning of Marriage" suggests that actions of love will lead to feelings of love.  Many people think the opposite; that they cannot do actions of love without feelings of love. If that is true then the actions of love you perform are self-serving, for they do nothing more than stroke your own feelings.  If you cannot do actions of love without the motivator being your feelings of love then your actions of love are mercenary. In other words you act ONLY for the reward YOU get, like a soldier who fights, not for the cause, but for the money.

As I meditate on this topic I am reminded that God is eternally happy in Himself and that He needs nothing from anyone to be more happy or more complete.  God is Yahweh, the Self Existent One and He gains nothing He doesn't already have by loving sinners like us.  He doesn't love us to "get paid" He loves us because He is good and He is love.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What fostering has taught me, entry 1

Entry 1:

I learned to cope with uncomfortable questions like: will you take a child that is blind, deaf, violent, dangerous, mentally ill, handicapped and the list goes on. Most people never have to fill out a form that asks you about your preferences when it comes to children. Most people never have to face their own, prejudices, fear and ignorance and relate those to a child. A child. Likely an orphan. Would you call me cold if I refused to take a child because they were mentally ill, physically handicapped or HIV positive? Yes it is very strange to "choose" what type of child you are willing to allow in to your family. And yes you have to say "no" to certain children. Saying "no" doesn't make you a monster and if you are not honest at this phase you, your family and the foster child will suffer; greatly.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Husqvarna Story


This the email I sent to them and I attached a very detailed 5 page PDF, complete with times, dates, names an phone numbers.  I was going to post it, but I know no one will read it.  heck  . .  no one will read this post, but hay why not.  Maybe it will inspire someone to never give up on getting things right!

This email is meant solely for Mr. Somebody, Head of Sales Americas.

Dear Mr. Somebody, My name is Slim Shady, your time is limited and valuable so I will get to the point of this letter in less than two pages. However I have documented everything, and can provide a PDF file for you, but it is 5 pages, so I am leaving it out. If you read all the details you will be shocked at how your employees violated your core values of customer first, professionalism and teamwork. Any by no means was there passion and a sense of urgency. Will you hold to those core values?

Our new house is heated with an outdoor furnace that burns wood. We have a backup oil furnace that is too expensive to run all the time. Therefore I needed a reliable, well-built chainsaw. After many weeks of research, talking to professionals via online forums and friends, the verdict was abundantly clear: buy Husqvarna, specifically the 346 XP. Spending $507.00 (1/3 of my paycheck) on a chainsaw was a difficult decision. Based on the positive reports about Husqvarna service I bought it locally for the service.

Through a series of events that began on June 21, 2011, my saw ended up at Weirton Rental Center (WRC) on July 8, 2011 for warranty repair. On July 11, 2001 WRC called and told me the saw was running fine. I asked them to do some tests, they did, and found that it had low compression at 90 PSI, so it was not fine, they were wrong. On July 13, 2011 WRC called and said parts are ordered and it should be ready in two weeks. On July 26, 2011 I received a voicemail from WRC stating that parts were going to be ordered and the saw should be ready in two weeks. I called and said that they told me that two weeks ago, to which they responded, well we’ve been busy.

August 11, 2011 still no call from WRC so I called and spoke with the tech, he said: aw man, I got the parts, put it together and went to test it and it came apart inside . . ..

I was not happy, so I called customer service, spoke with Melody told her the deal, she said they would send a new saw to my house. Melody told me the saw would be at my house in 7-10 days. I was expecting a saw between August 18th-21st.

I waited for my saw until August 23, 2011, and still no saw. I called many times, left messages, talked to different people, basically got the run around. I called again and ask to speak to a supervisor, I did, she said she will get back me either via email or phone, she never did.

So I called back on September 2, 2011 11:48 A.M. and got the supervisor again at 336-375-7500 ext. 8996. The supervisor said she would call back. She called me at 4:48 P.M. on September 2, 2011 to tell me that the request was denied, yes DENIED. Stunned, I asked why she said that they do not replace professional saws they fix them. I asked to speak to someone who can fix this problem and I got put through to Rick. Rick seemed genuinely concerned and said, this is a problem we made, we will fix it.

Monday September 6, 2011 at 4:12 P.M. Rick called me and said he talked to WRC and they still had the saw and they would fix it, Rick said he told WRC to fix it. I asked Rick if he could expedite the repair, he said no. I asked Rick to overnight the parts, he said he could not order parts or send parts. I asked Rick if I could have three months added to my warranty since my saw has sat for three months, he said no. I asked Rick if he could do anything to help, he said it was up to WRC. He did eventually extend the warranty three months. I then called WRC and talked to Bob. Bob was not happy that Husqvarna ® dumped it on them and said he would call Rick. Since I thought I was getting a new saw I told that to WRC; consequently they stopped working on it and it has been sitting since August 11, 2011. Did I mention I heat with wood? No saw no wood, this saw wasn't bought for playing with, I need it, oil is too expensive.

I called Bob on September 8, 2011 and he had no new information and he said he would call me back when he knew more.

I called Bob on September 15, 2011, he said he was waiting for Husqvarna to authorize the repair. I thought Rick told them to fix it on September 6, 2011. I gave Bob this number, 704-597-5000, told him to call and get the authorization. I then called the 597 number, tried to get some information, the only thing they could tell me was Rick extended my warranty and that was all. No parts, no authorization, no clue and Rick is out until September 19th. I asked to be put through to Neil L., I left a voice mail begging him to call me. About an hour later I called Bob to ask what Husqvarna said, he said parts were ordered. But he indicated that he was not sure if Husqvarna would reimburse, so I assume no authorization.

Right now it is September 16, 2011 and I have heard the “ordering parts jive” before. I wanted to wait until this was resolved, but I am doubtful it will be, as I have been run around for almost 90 days, and still no saw, no progress, same story, I'm at a loss and borrowing a friend's Stihl 029, I sure hope he doesn't need it back anytime soon.

As of now I am waiting for Neil to call, but I am tired of waiting and past experience has taught me that Husqvarna employees, and associated representatives do not call back. As far as I know my saw is waiting for parts, no time frame was given as to when it will be fixed. Even if WRC called and said it was ready, I am not in any way satisfied, unless Neil calls and sends me a saw, a full refund, money for oil, or 12 cords of wood, I am not satisfied. What can you do?

At every level so far Husqvarna has failed their customer. At no time did anybody live up to your core values of: customer first, professionalism and teamwork. To make matters worse, no one ever fulfilled this goal of yours: Always with passion and a sense of urgency. Will you fail me too, or will you put me first, be professional and work as team with all that are involved? Hundreds of people from the same internet forum that suggested the 346 XP have been following this saga and they are not only surprised by this situation, they are anxiously waiting for the final resolution, will their advice be vindicated by your resolution?

Instead of making demands, I will leave it up to you, you’re the one that can make this right. One thing I learned from this experience was to have a good backup saw, so what I buy next depends solely on you; that is if I have to buy a backup, as I know you can send me one. I am just one customer out of hundreds of thousands, but because of the global connectedness of the internet, hundreds are watching. I know things can take time as you speak with the departments involved, but I think given your commitment to “ a sense of urgency” 4 weeks is ample time for a final resolution. If 4 weeks comes and goes with no resolution, phone call or email, then I will take your silence as your resolution, and it will speak volumes about the character, integrity and commitment of Husqvarna. I have not yet sent this to anyone else, and if necessary I will make sure I get this,via snail mail and email, to the proper board members and others in the company. I am confident that I will be able to report that Husqvarna made it right with passion and urgency.

Thank you for your time. I can reached at: 867-5309

With Hope,
Clayton M. McGalla

FOUR DAYS LATER THE SAME RICK I MENTIONED ABOVE EMAILED ME THIS, YES THIS IS THE SAME GUY WHO SAID HE WAS THE HIGHEST I COULD GO.

I have been assigned your incident and want you to know Husqvarna is doing everything possible to satisfy you, our customer.
First, and most important, your new 346XP saw should arrive today or tomorrow. We have shipped it directly to your home address.
Second, the service shop has been turned over to the Territorial Sales Representative for review and if needed, disciplinary action.
Third, we apologize for any confusion created through this incident. I have spoken to our consumer division and have reinforced to them
our warranty policy and expected treatment of our customers.
Please retain your original sales receipt and warranty extension paperwork. The warranty does not re-set but will continue from the original
purchase date.
I am certain you see we are committed to our customer's satisfaction. We value you as a customer and look forward to working together
again on future projects.

never buy Kingston Brass products

Of course Amazon was awesome . . . anyway when the faucet arrived it was missing several parts, a whole box in fact. I figured I would just call Kingston Brass and they would send me the parts. I called, they emailed me a parts list and I responded with the missing parts that I needed. That was the last I heard, so I called a week later to confirm that they got my response and sent the parts. They said they did not send the parts because they needed a receipt . . . unfortunately my mind reader was out of batteries, so I missed that, and they never ask for one. I promptly emailed my Amazon receipt and they said parts are on the way . .. that was 30 says ago. I realized that Amazon's awesome return policy was the way to go, so I returned and in 3 days I had my new faucet. Kingston Brass will never get my business again. If they can't even send a box of parts, which they claim they sent, then I certainly do not expect them to handle a repair or warranty claim.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My answer

I am taking a class in American History up to 1877 and the professor asked this question:

Was Pres. Andrew Jackson good, evil, or both?

Should we judge him by the standards of today?

Well, I figured I would answer and this was my response and thought y'all would enjoy it.  I hope I don't fail.

The question of good and evil is not necessarily a question for historical narrative.  However, when you have a man like Jackson that was considered one of the country’s greatest leaders  since the founding fathers, who was also responsible for despicable actions; it is a question worth investigating.  More so to determine if they (we) love the expansion of our country more than the human beings that were displaced, hurt and killed.  The question of good and evil is in fact a spiritual question and one that cannot find its answer solely in the minds of men.  To answer a question of such gravity we must look to something that is transcendent , otherworldly and outside our limited epistemological base.  Sure, if we  compared Jackson to someone like Mother Theresa he is evil.  But if we compared Jackson to Stalin or Hitler he is good; so then, the question that must first be answered is: compared to who?  We cannot judge the actions of Jackson, or any person, by those of other people because we can always find someone “better” and someone “more evil.”  Now we must answer the question of standards, if we are to unpack Jackson as good or evil.  It is important to clarify that the kind of standard that is related to good and evil is different than other standards.  For example, is my Toyota Corolla fast?  Compared to a go cart, yes it is, but compared to an Indy Car, no and this kind of standard is not how we would judge good and evil.  If evil were judged with a sliding scale then we could all have our own scale by which we would judge and that would be a problem.  If on my scale I said slavery was wrong and on Jackson’s scale he said it was good, then the question is who is right?  Logically either we are both wrong, or one of us is right, no other tenable view is possible. To suggest that we are both right is self-refuting because saying we are both right, is to say that it would be wrong to say we are both wrong or that only one of us is right.  The conclusion is that either way only one view is indeed right.  The question about Jackson being good, evil or both is best answered when compared to a standard that does not change.  Think of it this way: if you have 10 pianos are they tuned to each other, or a single tuning fork?  Naturally you would tune all 10 pianos to the same standard, the same tuning fork.  Pianos don’t stay in tune by being tuned to another piano because pianos do in fact go out of tune.  Now the question is who or what do we compare Jackson to? I would suggest that a transcendent moral objective must necessarily exist in order to answer the questions you asked.  In fact the founding fathers thought there were certain inalienable rights that were bestowed upon all man by a creator.  If I were stand with the framers I could confidently say that the standard is that of God, as revealed in the Bible and the person of Jesus of Nazareth.  The progress of revelation throughout our nation’s history has been fraught with man’s self-serving interests for power, money, land and prestige.  Jackson was no different.  Just because slavery was in fact legal doesn’t mean it was right and just because it was illegal to speak out against your country doesn’t mean it was wrong.  Therefore my answer would be that Jackson, like all of us (I reject the “tabula rasa” idea)  are evil at heart.  All of us are evil when compared to the  immutable standard of a Holy God, so I do not think, in relation to good and evil, that there is a different standard today than there was in Jackson’s day.  Because if there was that would mean that slavery and stealing land were really right at the time, and I doubt anyone who is intellectually honest would go there.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Will You?

Richard Wurmbrand, who suffered for the faith in Romania during the last half of the 20th century, describes his farewell to children in the church before he left his troubled homeland:

I remember my last Sunday School class before I left Romania. I took a group of ten to fifteen boys and girls on a Sunday morning, not to a church, but to the zoo. Before the cage of lions I told them, "Your forefathers in faith were thrown before such wild beasts for their faith. Know that you also will have to suffer. You will not be thrown before lions, but you will have to suffer at the hands of men who would be much worse than lions. Decide here and now if you wish to pledge allegiance to Christ." They had tears in their eyes when they said, "Yes."