Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Psalm

Laura wrote the following psalm:

Hopes, dreams unfulfilled
The empty pillow a constant reminder

The empty womb longing for life

How long, O Lord, must we wait?

Organs invaded, the culprit running rampant

A wake-up call
We are promised no tomorrow

How much, O Lord, must our bodies endure?

Children living in fear

Fear of quittin' time when the fist will appear
Fear of dinnertime, the meal that never comes

An immense hunger never quenched

How long, O Lord, must the children suffer?

Chemicals combined to bring relief

A high, not high enough

Anything, everything sacrificed

To find the high life - the empty life

How long, O Lord, until true relief is found?

Where are you Lord?

Sometimes we can't see you through the pain

So much pain
So much sorrow

Body bags arriving everyday

Since the beginning of time, body bags

When will the fighting end?
We know you see us hating, fighting, killing, dying

How long, O Lord, until you come again?

Come quickly, Lord.

We wait for you. We hope in you.

We watch for you. We take heart.


Friday, October 27, 2006

loose cannon

For your weekend pleasure, I leave you with this gem:


Thursday, October 26, 2006


Not long ago the NYTimes did a piece on how dangerous it is for cyclists in the city. For effect, the article weaved a narrative throughout in which they followed a guy who bikes from his home in Brooklyn to his office in Manhattan. The guy complained specifically about Jay Street in Brooklyn.

So on Tuesday I got hit by a car on Jay Street when coming back from work. It was kinda dramatic in that I kinda slid up on the hood of the car. Guess who hit me? A cop. He apparently didn't want to stop at the stoplight. Anyway, besides a few scrapes and bruises, I'm totally fine. My bike? Not so much.
You know how seven (or so) month olds are trouble when they become mobile? They get into cabinets, have no regard for the dog's feeding dish, love to pick up stray shoes, and generally make a mess of everything in their path.

That's Ira right now. He's just ten months behind schedule. But it matters not. The therapists are excited and Laura and I have never been so tolerant of making messes! Ira is everywhere he wants to be.
I just said that it "matters not" that Ira is behind schedule but if I'm absolutely truthful I would confess my prejudice against weakness. I think I've always known this but it is made more evident in my day to day dealings with Ira. Like most westerners and definitely most Americans, I was raised to be strong and to make for myself. This rearing wasn't all of my mom and dad's doing but the culture surrounding me. It's hard not to be frustrated with Ira and his inability to do as most eighteen-month-old kids do. It's hard not to place blame on him. It's hard to keep perspective.

I struggle daily with this prejudice of mine and I'm reminded daily of how big a jerk I am for even considering being frustrated with Ira. I make this "blog confession" only to add a bit of reality to this journey and to ask for your prayers.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

who are we kidding?

Walter Brueggemann suggests that there are three types of Psalms: Psalms of Orientation, Disorientation and New Orientation. Briefly, Psalms of Orientation convey a "confident and serene settlement of faith issues" and express "no doubts so that one does not live in anxiety but confidence." Brueggemann claims that the speakers in these psalms seem to live a happy, well-ordered life. Check out Psalm 145 as an example.

Psalms of Disorientation are sometimes called complaint psalms. It's within these poems that the speaker complains to God (and often against God) that life sucks. And quite frequently, the speaker is bold enough to say that it's God's fault. Brueggemann, along with other scholars, believe these Psalms were part of Israel's worship. In other words, Israel was not afraid of letting this kind of "faith talk" into their communal worship experience. Check out Psalm 13 as an example of a Psalm of Disorientation.

Most churches I've been a part of are very comfortable expressing Orientation while never exploring the faith within Disorientation. For example, we call those who lead singing the Praise Team and we sing praise songs. Most churches have a liturgy that is centered around Orientation - an expression of life that is happy and well-ordered. Our liturgy rarely allows room for questions or doubts.

Brueggemann asserts that this would be fine if we understood this kind of oriented worship as an "act of bold defiance" to a life of disorientation or a "great evangelical nevertheless" but he guesses that most of our worship is guided not by faith but by a "frightened, numb denial and deception that doesn't want to acknowledge disorientation."

I long for songs that will confront the realities of this world and speak boldly to God about the troubles we face day in and day out. I long for prayers to explore questions and doubts. I long for authenticity and genuiness in our communal gatherings.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

favorite words

Ira's stomach bug lasted quite a while but it seems as if we are over the worst of it. Getting through this latest bout is yet another good sign that Ira is stronger. A few months ago this would have sent Ira to the ER. So maybe the bug hung around longer than it should have but Ira was able to fight it. Yippee!

Ira's learning new words every day in sign language. His most favorite words are dog, bath, hat and monkey. Those all came within a span of a couple of days. He's learning quickly.

And finally, Ira's mobile. He scoots around on his butt and he also walks around the coffee table and couches when stood up...slowly but surely.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

whose daughter is this?

Can you tell who Sophia is rooting for in tonight's game seven of the NLCS? By the way, she named the two Cardinals on her shirt "Lola" and "Mada".


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

true beauty?


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

what liberties?

I wonder how many theatres are going to refuse to show the documentary Shut Up & Sing. Just as country radio stations across the country refused to play the Dixie Chicks's music after Maines spoke her political mind during a concert in 2003 I can imagine theatres doing the same with this documentary. It's a shame that the thing we're supposedly fighting for in Iraq - freedom/liberty/inserttalkingpointhere - isn't even realized here in the good 'ol U. S. of A. (Or are you going to try and tell me that a radio station's refusal to play their music is also a "freedom of speech"?)

Some of you will argue that celebs should keep their mouths shut when it comes to politics. I get that. I get that because there are people who I wish wouldn't speak on matters of faith. But in the end, we should realize that we can't and shouldn't force people to keep quiet.

Will you give Shut Up & Sing a look? Let the discussion begin!


Monday, October 16, 2006

let if flow

Throwing up. Vomiting. Up-chucking. We got all that and more going on here at the Hays household. Mainly Ira. Vomiting has always been a part of Ira's daily life because of his messed up anatomy. (His stomach lays weirdly inside that little body of his tucked somewhere under his Goretex diaphragm.) But recently Ira's throwing up a lot more than usual.

When Sophia spewed chunks on Saturday night we were relieved to think that Ira just had a stomach bug. We then found out that our upstairs neighbor and downstairs neighbor were dealing with the same issue. Fears of anatomical discord were pushed aside and replaced by a "we'll beat this stomach bug!" attitude.

However, Tuesday will make the sixth day of frequent vomiting for Ira. This is not good. Not just because we find ourselves doing tons and tons of laundry but because Ira's little body needs those calories. Not enough calories leads to dehydration which leads to an increased heartrate which leads to respiratory've heard the schpiel.

At our last visit with Ira's gastrointestinal doctor we discussed putting in a different kind of feeding tube. (Remember, Ira is fed through a tube that goes directly into his stomach.) This alternative feeding tube would bypass the stomach and go straight into the intestines. The idea would be that the food would not have a chance to come right back up. The other option is a surgery called a Nissen Fundoplication. It's way too complicated for me to explain but it's enough for you to know that it's yet another friggin' surgery! Ugh.

Here's hoping that it's just a really nasty stomach virus that ends after, say, six days! Cheers!


Thursday, October 12, 2006

So how is Sophia doing?

My mom says she is often asked about Sophia. I guess people wonder how she's coping with Ira being home and possibly, how she relates to Ira. Let me address the latter of those concerns, first.

She embraces Ira full-on...both metaphorically and literally. She loves to *read* to Ira and loves to dance for him. She loves to give Ira big bear hugs that often result in her knocking him to the ground. He loves it. When Ira ventures out with us, Sophia is like a little child on Christmas morning. She's giddy at just the thought of it. And at every Family Time, Sophia's prayer is "thank you that Ira's home and feeling better." She loves having him home.

As for the first concern - how Sophia is coping - allow me to relay two stories that might shed light on her processing. She and I went to the neighborhood diner several weeks ago. We ordered our usual - The Lumberjack. Pancakes, bacon, eggs, OJ and chocolate milk. A family walked in the restaurant. The daughter was an elementary aged special needs child. Sophia was immediately drawn to her. The girl was drawn to Sophia. The girl stopped at our table and they communicated as best they could. Sophia held out her hand. The girl grabbed it. They just stared into each others eyes. The mom said, "You have a beautiful daughter." I replied, "You do too."

A couple of weeks ago, the whole family went to a playground in Brooklyn Heights. It was a beautiful day and everyone was out with their kids. The playground was packed. Of all the kids Sophia could have played with, she chose the little girl with Down Syndrome. Their encounter didn't last long as we were on our way home. The little girl followed us to the gate. Sophia didn't want to leave. They were grasping for each other like sisters who hadn't seen each other in years.

Sophia is absolutely three-and-a-half years old which translates into her being a little brat on many occasions. But I would rather the stories above define how she is coping with Ira's presence in our home rather than the meltdown she had tonight because I wouldn't let her have chocolate before bed. Deep inside Sophia is a tenderness that I'm not sure she would experience if it weren't for Ira.

Overall, I think Sophia is coping just fine and she absolutely adores having her brother home. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.



Whatever you do today, go pick up the latest edition of Sports Illustrated and read Rick Reilly's article titled Trumpeting the Father of the Year. The article is about a father who makes certain that his special needs child gets to march in the Univeristy of Louisville marching band. To say the least, I wept as I read the article hoping that I will be half the father to Ira that this guy is to his son.

Please, go read the article. It will inspire you.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006


I just read an amazing article in the NYTimes Magazine titled An Elephant Crackup? The author of the article, Charles Siebert, attempts to understand why attacks by elephants on villages, people and other animals are on the rise. In so doing, he quickly discovers that the fraying of the fabric of pachyderm society is due in large part to humanity.

As he makes this discovery it becomes evident that elephants are as socially progressive as humans. Just as a child who experiences trauma at an early age becomes disillusioned and troubled, so do young elephants - calves. The bad news is that elephants are enduring trauma of all sorts - poaching, circuses, zoos, etc. The good news is that there are programs in place to help elephants recover from this trauma such as The Elephant Sanctuary. The sociological findings are so clear that the Bronx Zoo has vowed to phase out its elephant exhibit once its three current elephant inhabitants die.

Reading an article such as this once again forces me to question my place in this created world. And then, upon answering the question, challenges me to take action.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Middle East Mess

Saw this map on another blog and was intrigued. The map's site reads as follows: Who has controlled the Middle East over the course of history? Pretty much everyone. Egyptians, Turks, Jews, Romans, Arabs, Greeks, Persians, Europeans...the list goes on. Who will control the Middle East today? That is a much bigger question.

My historical knowledge isn't great so I'm unsure if this map is correct (you can find anything on the web) so can someone give feedback. Also, how do you interpret how this 90-second interactive map ends - by showing us where Jerusalem is and where Baghdad is in the Indepedence Era?


Monday, October 09, 2006

season over? hardly

The day after the Yanks lost the series to the Tigers, my mother-in-law took Sophia to the Museum of Natural History. They came upon an amphitheatre and it suddenly sparked something in Sophia. She told Kay to sit down and then Sophia took her seat. Kay asked Sophia what they were doing and Sophia indignantly said, "We're watching a Yankees game, K. K.!" And for the next several minutes, Sophia was the play-by-play commentator. The result? The Yankees won!

So while the Yanks may be ousted in real time, they play on in our heads. For true fans, the season never ends.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Jeter, Lights and Lost

Did you catch Jeter's game last night for the Yanks? Outstanding. Five for five and amazing fielding at shortstop. Say it with me, M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!

By the way, as good as Jeter is in October, did you know that the hated A-Rod who is often said to choke come playoff time has better playoff stats than Jeter? It's true. Check it out: A-Rod - .305 BA/.393 OBP/.534 Slg and Jeter - .307/.379/.463. Wow, huh?
Did you experience the pilot of Friday Night Lights on NBC? I wasn't that interested in spite of it taking place in west Texas where I grew up but after reading an enthusiastic thumbs-up review in the New York Times of all places, I decided to watch it. It was stinkin' great! Much better, I thought, than Studio 60. If you missed it, there is an encore presentation of the pilot on NBC tonight at 8 PM eastern time.
Are you a Lost fanatic? If so, what do you expect this season? What's going to happen to Kate, Jack and Sawyer? Who are these creepy Others? What do they want? So many friggin' questions! Bring it on! And oh, by the way, who is your favorite character on Lost?


Monday, October 02, 2006

good times

The 36 hours I spent in Texas this past weekend was perfect. Well, almost perfect. I wish the outcome of the football game had been different but eating, laughing and reminiscing with friends far outweighed being outscored by texas tech. (Aggies never lose, we just get outscored.)

In spite of being 32 and 33 years old, we somehow found ourselves acting like 19 year old freshmen again. We talked in weird voices, laughed at each others' farts and made fun of each other. One would have been hard-pressed to identify us this weekend as a pharmaceutical sales rep, minister, portfolio manager, physical therapist and architect.

I got to know these guys my freshman year at A&M. I traveled to Asia with these guys and worked an inner-city summer camp with these guys. They supported my transfer to ACU. They stood by my side as I married Laura. They rejoiced with me at the birth of Sophia and have cried with me during painful moments with Ira. They have never quit praying for us. These four guys are exemplars of faith for me today. I can't imagine life without them.