Friday, November 21, 2008

Love--Life's Most Precious Gift

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.The Bible (New Living Translation)

As I contemplate the meaning of the holiday season that is before us, I am reminded that life’s greatest and most precious gift is love. My two beautiful girls—aged 7 and 4—are a daily reminder of that gift. They love their daddy with the kind of zeal and affection that I can only describe as god-like.

It is unconditional.

Love that would set aside one’s own personal wellbeing for the benefit of another is the greatest of all. That is the gift we celebrate every year at this time. It compels us toward selfless acts of charity and benevolence. Love drives us to seek out special reminders that tell our loved ones we care in the form of gifts, cards and visits. It is divine oil that eternally fuels our faith and hope.

As jaded and cynical as I have become over 40 years and three months on planet Earth, I cling to hope. And this time of year usually rekindles that hope because I am reminded of the reason we are alive—to love one another. I am thankful that this year the message of hope is still alive.

I know that the message of hope is alive when I see:

These are but a few shining examples of how hope is alive and well in Indiana and around the world. My hope this holiday season is that your life would be transformed by love, life’s most precious gift.

Happy Holiday!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Christmas CD Sale!!!

I've been diligently working on some classic Christmas CDs to enjoy this holiday season. I love the classics by Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole (to name a few), and I was browsing by genre. That's when I found that someone has marked all of their Christmas CDs down to 75-cents! Yes, 75-cents! That comes to less than $4 per CD when you add in shipping.

If you're a thrifty music shopper like me, and you don't believe in paying 99-cents to download MP3's, go to and pick out your favorite holiday music. You can click on the link to the right and search by artist, title, etc. or click the link above and browse their 9,000+ Christmas titles. Did I mention that most of the CDs are 75-cents???

Happy Holiday!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Domestic Adoption Worked for Us

Most of us know at least one person who has travelled to Asia to adopt a child. Many believe this is the quickest and best way to adopt and well worth the tens of thousands they invest. I've heard some heartwarming stories of those who have brought back precious children from overseas adoptions. But domestic adoption is just as viable an option, and often times a lot less costly.

There are hundreds of thousands of kids in the U.S. foster care system eligible for adoption (see February 2008 article in USA Today). And domestic adoptions aren't as expensive as some people believe them to be. Case-in-point: My wife and I adopted two girls while living in Florida, both of whom were born at local hospitals. The adoptions happened quickly with little expense and very few hurdles. The key for us was getting the word out.

If you are considering a domestic adoption, word-of-mouth can be just as important as hiring an attorney or contacting an agency. We were notified about both of our girls from friends and acquaintances who knew we were desperate to adopt. The key was getting word out through our network of family and friends. And in both cases, we used private practice attorneys whose fees were nominal. We spent less than $20,000 for both adoptions combined!

I cannot fully express the joy of having two adopted children. My girls are the best part of my day, even on bad behavior days. And I would encourage anyone who is considering adoption to look first locally. Spread the word through all the people you know at work, church, clubs, etc. You'll be surprised how many people will encourage you, support you by getting the word out and may even know of available babies/children.

November is National Adoption Month and there are plenty of online resources for those looking to adopt. There are support groups all over the country and on the web, too. I'd be happy to serve as a resource, so feel free to give my blog address to anyone who's considering adoption here or abroad.

Let's tackle our foster care issue together and see to it that American children find permanent, stable homes.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Taking Back Christmas

The Doyles are taking Christmas back from the commercial holiday it has become. When my girls got old enough to understand, we explained the Nativity and how the maggi came bearing gifts for the baby Jesus. We told them to expect three gifts from us each Christmas in hopes that their focus would be on giving and not receiving. To further that effort, we've planned family activities focused on helping others. This year, we're spending two weekends in December with nursing home residents.

Last year after joining the growing Facebook community, I came upon a group calling itself The Advent Conspiracy. It goes along perfectly with what we've implemented in our home. Watch the short promo video below to see what they are about.

You can see a bit longer, more personal video on their site, here.

It really is staggering the amount we, as Americans, spend on Christmas gifts. And all this is in the name of a Christ-child whose very birth was the hallmark of sacrifice (i.e. the Almighty taking on the lowly status of mere mortal)?? Talk about an outward focus.

It's sad that I'm even posting this on November 6th, but the American retail machine is already in full Christmas swing, hocking everything from talking Jesus dolls to day spa gift certificates for your pet. Think about what you're going to spend this Christmas season. What's on your "Black Friday" shopping list?

Consider giving some of that money, time or energy away this year. You'll feel much better if you do. And if you have a Facebook page, consider joining the conspiracy.