Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Left Behind?



I called our adoption agency today. The waiting has been so hard and the dead line to hear about a court date has come and almost gone. I can not travel past my 36th week of pregnancy and I am now officially 30 weeks pregnant. If we were to hear of a court this week, the actual court date (aka travel time) would be 4-6 weeks from being notified of the court date. We were told two weeks ago that our file was just moments away from being submitted to court but that they were waiting for the children's birth certificates to be delivered the next day. As of today, this "guy" has not showed up to deliver these documents to complete our file. I was told that each time they inquired as to why he had not shown up with these papers, that he reported not feeling well or he didn't have time. This is a cultural "difference" that doesn't make sense to me. No one seems to know what the hold up is.

The hold up.

The reason I can't go has rested
solely on this one person who can't seem to get their shtick together. Are there not others who can do this? I just don't get it. The motivation (or lack thereof) of one solitary person is the reason I won't be able to hug my boys and look into their eyes and tell them face to face that their family is waiting for them back home.

Sorry to sound like such a downer, but crap, I am just plain discouraged. I guess there still is the minute possibility I will still be able to go but my hope is drained down to the last drop as days pass and my belly grows with this squirming blessing of a life. There are no regrets, just the hope that I could do and see everything....that I could see, touch and embrace our boys.


Steve will have to go solo and I desperately want to
Velcro myself to his body and go with him. I wanted to do this together with him. I wanted to be able to exchange knowing looks with him as we met our boys for the first time and then talk late into the night comparing mental notes. I wanted to share the awe of all that God has done as we embraced our boys. I wanted this to be something we talked about when we grew old with words like "Remember how tiny they were?" or "Remember how much we did not know?" and "Remember how God's hand was in all of it?" I wanted to see our boys faces when they realized we were real. I just ache.

I wanted.......

And this is where I have to pause. This is obviously not what the Lord has called for. Most of my disappointment is encapsulated inside the words "I wanted....." And this adoption has nothing to do about what I want. There is to be a purpose to why my husband will have to meet our boys for the first time without me. These speculations about why run wild in my head. The Lord is pulling me out of the equation and as much as I don't like this, I will accept it knowing that He knows better than I. I will trust. I will believe.


I will look forward. I refuse to have regrets in this.....I have no right to. God has planned this and I will never regret His plans.

I will look forward to life with our boys. I will thank our sweet Lord that these boys have a forever family with us no matter who meets them first. I will be grateful that the Lord has blessed us so many times with children that are so amazing. I will continue to be amazed at this thriving life forming under my heart. We have hit the lottery.

No regrets.

And most of all, I will look forward to the post that communicates why this "hiccup" was all perfectly planned and a blessing in disguise.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Back Door and Letting Go



It is so easy to open the front door to amazing people, behaviors and situations that seem to work and are pleasing at the time. It's where a lot of us receive big mysterious packages, long awaited government documents allowing for adoptions and mail from long lost friends. This is the door that cherished friends walk through to spend time chatting over a messy counter and undone dishes while kids run wild outside. The front door of our lives can let in so much joy.

But the back door is a different story. Everyone has one....not everyone uses it. For instance, let's evaluate that cool haircut that was so popular in the eighties. One remembers the compliments and the admiring looks as a result of the new do. But after a decade (or two) when it becomes the new mullet......it needs to be shown the back door. However, many people have shown that they don't have a back door in this regard and the hairstyle that won them so many accolades years ago, now has the younger generation snapping cell phone photos to take home to post on the Internet.



Or............ how about those jeans that now require you to lay down on your bed to button only to have you look like an overgrown sausage link when you return to an upright position gasping for air? But the memory of them fitting like a glove and attracting your current spouse just won't leave and you go into oxygen deprivation just one more time to have "the look" back. Unfortunately, "the look" now has vultures circling above due to your shallow breathing and stray hungry dogs licking their chops. After several children, topped with a few years and a belly that now resembles a Sharpei puppy, it is time to kick these national treasures out your back door.




I'm still not done with the clothing bit. Many husbands have a t-shirt (or two) that they love so much, that they vehemently refuse to retire them. I am talking about the ones where there are stains from who-knows-what and numerous tiny holes from too much bleaching. It is important to note that these innocent holes are big enough to allow sprigs of chest foliage to poke through making their chest (or back) look like a dog with mange (if you squint really hard). No question about it, fling the back door open and toss this diseased and suffering possession out....when he's at work.




I would go into the example of my husband's prized,
unused 20 year old juicer and my "almost-marriage-ending" trip to Goodwill with it.....but I have to save some material for another post.

From humorous examples, we can all see the need for a back door in our lives. But, if you know me well enough, you know that there is a serious side to this as well. Back doors can be an unpleasant part of our lives. They are the doors you use to go through when you realize things need to be changed or taken out like....the garbage, shoes too foul smelling for human lungs, a pet that needs to relieve itself, a dessert that needs to be eaten in secrecy or a private conversation with a spouse that you don't want the kids to hear........

But on a more symbolic level, it is the location where we need to decide what stays and what goes in our lives. Many of us fear change, pain and the unknown so a deadbolt locking the door from the outside is implemented. We hang on to possessions, behaviors, beliefs and people that are begging for us to unlock the back door and to be let out.....but we hold these things hostage because we don't trust what our life would be like without them. Can you imagine what a household or a life becomes when things are let in but never let out? It comes to a point where one can not let anything in anymore......there is just no room. The word rancid and stagnate come to mind. It is my opinion that this grain of sand causes the pearl of hoarding. The fear of letting go. The lack of trust that better is yet to come.

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:18-19)

But not letting things go is like holding a struggling, scratching cat. It would have been easier just to have let it jump off your lap when it needed to go.

When the deadbolt is taken off, sometimes it feels really good to let the obvious things go........this is when it is easy, freeing and fun. But what about the situations that you want to hold on to like the dream that you realize may never happen, an addiction that has helped you cope.....(or at least you thought it did) or a life long friend or family member that no longer wants it to be "life long"? For me, this has been the hardest part of keeping my back door unlocked....the friends or family that have chosen to walk out through it.

I guess the big question is, once you take the deadbolt off, how to decide when to use the back door and what you will let out of it. Here is my well researched and profound answer:

I don't know.

.... And as many times as we have a sense and an obligation of what needs to go, there are many times we don't have this. I mean, think about what Abraham must of felt or thought when the Lord asked him to sacrifice his only son. I am sure this was not something he thought needed to go out the back door of his life. Or how about Ezekiel and the mandatory loss of his wife for symbolic reasons in his prophetic ministry? How about Job? If you asked him beforehand, do you think he saw the need to lose all he had and loved dearly out the back door of his life just so God could prove a point to Satan? Or even better yet, how about Mary and the potential loss of her reputation and life due to an unplanned pregnancy and then the eventual violent death of her firstborn son. Do you think she had a sense that all of this needed to go? Do you think any of these biblical figures realized that keeping their back doors obediently unlocked would leave a legacy affecting generations down the road......and for Mary's actions, an eternal legacy on which we can rest our future hopes?

This post is inspired by a situation that is causing pain and reflection for me. It is being used to remind me that many times we to have open our back door and let the wintry cold air of loss come through our lives in order to move on. In no way to I have this "back door" stuff perfected and nailed down. It has caused me to re-evaluate what needs to be fought for, changed and left behind. Yes, the back door is being used even as we speak and I will trust it is for a greater purpose.


So what is it I really want to say with this post?
Keep the front door of your life inviting and your back door unlocked. Trust that the reason things or people leave through it contains a future value or blessing that may be unknown to you. If you are insistent on keeping your back door locked, realize you may be fighting against the very life the Lord has planned just for you.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

One Of My Favorites

The following is some writing I did four years ago in a blog that flopped because of my negligence. But as I read it again, I realized that it was one of my favorite posts. So, here's to recycling!




My family and I were at the pool the other day. I was wading at the edge of the pool supervising J, R and D splashing away like puppies. They adore the water and it brings me such joy to watch them be so carefree. Whenever I am in a huge throng of people, I like to survey all of them. I usually pick one or two that pique my interest and I check up on them every once in awhile either because their behaviors intrigue me or they are just plain weird looking. I treat them like visual blogs during my stay.

This particular day, only one family caught my eye. I saw them out in the deeper water, a mother and, what seemed to be, her around-four year old son. The mother, a young
blond woman with her hair up in a pony tail, was completely and lovingly absorbed in her son whom she was cradling in her arms while going up and down gently in the water. The aspect that kept my gaze, was the amount of time this child was letting her do this without squirming or yelling out in joy. Any active, normal 3 to 4 yr. old boy would have been holding on for dear life or ready to jump out of her arms. But this boy acted like a new born in the way he rested in his mom's grasp. He had every characteristic of a healthy boy...no contorted face, nor twisted limbs and no jerky telltale movements that would indicate otherwise. But as time passed, I realized this child was special needs and his Mom's gentle care made this more clear. The Mother was so beautiful in the way she was soaked up in her son. Her face held the expression of a face you might see on someone getting a good back rub. I could tell in their world, no one else was at the pool that day...just the two of them. As she exited the water, it also came to my attention that she was heavily pregnant with another child.....which, of course, only added to her beauty. She then joined two other children, (one younger brother and a much older sister) and her husband who took the child from her arms, kissed him, and gently placed him in a stroller. He stood over his son for awhile just talking to him in a cooing and adoring manner. Could this family become any more beautiful to me?

I felt a strong urge to talk to this woman. She went back into the water with her younger son and sat herself down in the shallow part. I walked over to her vicinity with my little ones and gauged whether she was approachable or not. You can tell if someone has no desire to have contact when they avoid eye contact at all costs. This woman had a kind smile, which I took as a good sign. I ventured to ask when she was due to which she responded in several months. With my growing belly, she asked the same and the conversation was then ignited.

We spoke of children, the number we had, the ages and names. Trying to relate, I mentioned my own memories of the joys and struggles of having my fourth. I then took a risk and told her I had noticed that her son was special needs and how I had enjoyed watching them have a good time in the water. (Let me preface the rest of this account by saying that I can not tell you how many times the Lord has put it on my heart the desire to talk to certain individuals never knowing why. But inevitably, I end up being blessed by these very people the Lord puts in my path. When listening to this woman talk, I knew I was supposed to be exactly where I was.)
She nodded her head and said, "Yes, he is special needs." Then there was a pause and she continued, "You know,.... he was born completely normal. But at 18 mos. he contracted a viral form of spinal meningitis, and because he was so young and his immune system was so immature, the virus settled in his brain permanently." My heart went out to her. I felt tears secretly well up that would never surface. I imagined what it must have been like to have a vibrant 18 mos. old that could walk, say a few words and give big juicy kisses...only to have it all stolen away in days, unexpectedly and horrendously. But I knew she had more to say so I remained silent and nodded my head. She went on, "We have been told that we don't have very much time left with him, as the virus is just going to get worse....maybe 1 to 4 years. It's been 2.5 years already, and we just don't know. For a long time, we didn't want to leave the house fearing something would happen and then we realized it was going to happen whether we waited for it or whether we continued to enjoy him and live our life. Many people have even questioned our having more children.....but this little boy has made us not be afraid of life but want to thirst after it. He has been a blessing, why wouldn't we want more?"

Preach on sister.


I knew there was something special about the way she was swimming around in the water with her son. I was watching someone who knew time was limited with the little life in her arms. The scene now had added meaning now that I knew the circumstances. The way the father gently placed his son, with a kiss, back in the stroller with words of comfort now meant more. Here was a family yearning for the blessing of more time and taking advantage of every second.

I need to learn from this.


I have met people in situations like this before. I rarely feel sorry for them. But more often than not, I feel a sense of awe, respect and curiosity at the way they handle it. There have been circumstances in my life that I would not wish on anyone else nor would I want to experience them again....but I can tell you, that I am so grateful I had the experience of going through it. Many times (such as the one I am portraying) these people feel the same way about their terminal circumstances. They wouldn't want anyone else to go through it nor would they want to go through it themselves again, but they feel absolutely blessed to have learned what they have and to have earned renewed perspectives and priorities.

At the risk of sounding completely nuts, I have to admit not only a sense of awe of people in terminal situations but a sense of jealousy as well. Just hang with me here. I don't want the circumstances they are in by any means. When people are in these situations they are thrust at the feet of Christ and have the opportunity to experience his mercy, grace and comfort on a level that can't be attained without that type of circumstance. I am jealous of the opportunity to get that intimate with my creator not the pain and loss imposed by the circumstance. They also have an opportunity to witness this opportunity to the world and their lives can scream out His love and hope in all circumstances. And you know what?

People will listen. They inherently know the need to.


Tell me. If you were put in front of two people one dying of brain cancer and the other having no competing struggles........would you not listen more closely to, and examine the life of, the terminal patient in the quest of drawing out some kind of wisdom or perspective they have gained though their trials? You would do this because you know that this person has had the opportunity to experience God at a much deeper level because of his circumstance. I am not saying all people with terminal circumstances have chosen to experience the Lord in this way.....some have thrown in the towel thinking they were cursed. Others, the ones I am talking about, have used it to be blessed and to bless others beyond belief.

They are
powerful.

Now, I don't know if this family at the pool knew that they blessed and inspired me. I highly doubt it. I wish I had the chance to tell them. I will pray for this opportunity and for them. But walking away from the pool that day I looked at my children differently. We all have limited time with them and the people we love....we just don't know the time frame God has chosen. This family just happened to know their time frame with a little more certainty. My desire is to treat my family like that woman treated her child in the pool......with total adoration and with a sense that time is precious and limited.

I want to live life like it's terminal but with the joy of knowing it's eternal.




Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Book I Can't Write.




I can't tell you how many times, people (especially my husband) have strongly encouraged me
to write a book. Nice idea in theory. Does it attract me? Maybe for the fame, money and adoration because we all know that I would make the Top Ten Best Sellers List right? .....only if I write about foolishness.

Honestly, the idea frightens me
. I've had some say I should write about parenting.

Can't.

Because you know the moment I do, one from my group of pride and joy will prove wrong e
very theory I have published. I will have egg on my head, a child in the state penitentiary making license plates and my book would be given away from people's yards as kindling. Who am I to even give advice on parenting?? I feel I have no right. If asked, I'll give an opinion, but to write a book? I have been humbled too many times to feel I have a corner on the market of raising children. I may have 9 children, but truthfully, I know parents of less children that have the gift of parenting that needs to be written about. Don't get me wrong, I love parenting but I am imperfect like everybody else....and I am not done. My apologies to my children far outweigh any awards I deserve in this area. You will not see me at Borders signing any parenting books soon.



Others have suggested that I
write a book on nutrition and health. Wait, let me put down my deep fried Snickers to explain why this won't ever happen. Nutrition is important to me. In fact, I find this topic spellbinding .....but I am inconsistent at living out my convictions. I talk a good game, but when it comes right down to it, I live by the 80/20 plan. 80% of the time we eat decently and the other 20% of the time you will witness our family eating out of the troughs of Golden Corral, basking in the fries of Mc.D's or picking up the $5 specials at Ceasar's Pizza....only to have our meal be chased with gummy bear Sundaes. Our family blessing for these "20% meals" usually consist not of asking the Lord for nourishment but for protection. Ask me anything about health and nutrition, and I will have a well researched and valid answer. And I truly believe everything I say with a passion. Watch me live it out and you will find me lacking and promising it will get better when I get my act together. The problem is, I lost my act a long time ago and it is currently listed as one of America's Top Ten Most Wanted. Nope. Won't be autographing any books on nutrition either. Nachos and diet coke anyone?

Another suggestion has been to writ
e about my life with having so many children and adopting. Great topic.

Won't do it.

I can't write about this; this story is not even finished yet! And honestly, by the time I do figure thin
gs out enough to write about it, I'll be kissing the basements of anthills . So, I don't foresee my life being separated by chapters and told in between numbered pages....unless someone else is crazy enough to write it.

I love writing. It is very cathartic for me. And most of my writing will only be about what I am learning and with what I am struggling. I pray this encourages others and at times brings joy.... but I will never claim to be an expert....not by a long shot. I am still in my own learning curve. I am still grossly imperfect. But I enjoy this life thoroughly knowing that I have been claimed and that I am loved. And if I ever write a book, it will be because the Lord has my back on it. And I will definitely list Him as the co-author.

Really, all that I know to be true 100% of the time could fit under windshield wipers in the size of a tract. And for its reference it would list God's word and the love and sacrifice of Christ. For any success that I could w
rite about, in this amazing life, is due to the love God has liberally lavished on me and the grace and mercy I have not ever deserved. I can not take credit for this, much less write a book and claim the knowledge as my own. Look at the Bible...and you will see the best book ever written. And if you like His book well enough, He will do one better than signing it.....He will sign your heart.


Monday, December 05, 2011

No More Wondering!

In my last post, I stated that I knew our boys had gotten their care packages and I was wondering what they could be thinking.

I know! I know!

Today in my email I received our monthly updates for Ephrem and Anteneh. I opened them, and behold, there were pictures of them opening their gifts from our family! There were also snap shots of them trying to put together the lego projects we sent and when I looked closer.....they both were wearing the survival bracelets our children had made them.

As I read the report, it was stated that the eldest, Ephrem was "glowing" as our letter was read to him. And the youngest, Anteneh, was so excited about his package, he ran around the orphanage yard showing what he had gotten.

I so wish I could show you the pictures; I ache that I can't. The pictures portray them looking at the photo albums. The very albums that were prepared on my kitchen table with love. Something I touched....they were now turning over and over in their delicate hands and pondering. They have been reached..."Houston, we have contact!" They told their "social worker" to tell us that they loved us and couldn't wait to meet us. Oh, they have no idea how mutual this is. No idea.

All of our lives are going to be so different in a couple of months. At times, I am sure we are going to wonder what the heck has hit us. Here we are Lord, we are ready......bring it on!!!


Friday, December 02, 2011

I Wonder..


About a month ago, I sent off a care package for my boys. It was sent via another adoptive Mom about to meet her daughter for the very first time. She left with hopes of being able to see our boys too.....only to not be allowed to enter the orphanage where our boys reside. She ended up handing the package to our agency's representative to give to them at their monthly visit. This should have happened in the last couple of days. It had two photo albums of our family (one for each), two Lego cars to assemble and two survival bracelets made by our children. We also enclosed a letter to the both of them inviting and welcoming them to be a part of our family.

I know that they have it by now.

I wonder.......

what are they thinking?
do they understand what is happening?
will pictures be taken?
will their stuff get stolen?
will they treasure the package or just set it aside?
what did they think when they saw our pictures?
are they scared?
do they dream about us?
are they wearing the bracelets we gave them?
are they safe?
are they hungry?
can they still love?
will they let us love them?
have we given them hope?
when will we get "the call" to meet them and touch them for the very first time?
when will the waiting end?

and so much more......

I was talking to my dear friend today who is very experienced in the adoption realm. She has adopted a total of four times and has been such a treasure to turn to in our adventure to adopt. Not wanting to sound half cracked, but wanting to share my heart, I admitted today I felt as though something big were happening behind the scenes in regards to our adoption. I have no proof, just a feeling. I asked her if she had ever had this same crazy premonition, feeling or intuition during any of her adoptions. I loved her answer: "Thea, you definitely have the heart and intuition of a true adoptive mother." She went on to say that there had been many times that she had had this feeling in her own adoptions only to be spot on with events that had happened. This comforted me and excited me. I am going to mark this date. Today is December 2, 2011. It is also the date, 18 years ago, that my sweet husband asked me to marry him. Who would have even guessed we would be where we are now : 9 kids, one one the way, the adoption of two precious sons....and waiting.

Absolutely, stunningly amazing.


Thursday, December 01, 2011

Absolutely Pointless.

Please let me warn you beforehand that this post has nothing to do with adoption or any deep "Aha" spiritual moments. In fact, this post has no redeeming value at all. I'm just going to have a little fun here.

There is a series of books (Pathway) that my seven yr. old reads to me for home schooling. It has a very "Amish" feel to it. I purchased these books at a time in parenting where I believed I could raise my children as pure as the driven snow and I thought Amish books were one of the tools I would use to raise my perfectly untainted children. As you read, you never get to see the faces of the main characters. This really gets to my kids. All the dolls are made out of cloth and wood and the boys' toys are home made trucks and wagons. Some of the situations portrayed are so pure, innocent and handled with such simple language that it brings me great delight.....to make fun of. Let me be honest in saying that my inner dialogue while reading these stories is
anything by Amish, simple or pure. My children have no hope.

For example, in this book there is a boy named Peter who acquires a little puppy which he aptly names Rover. Rover is loved but eventually proves he is 100% puppy by single
handedly destroying at least one possession of every character in the book. Here is an excerpt of an unfortunate event involving Rover and Dad: The blue words are the actual word but I couldn't help but to color commentate in red.




Rover and Dad

Rover looked for something to play with. By and by he saw Dad's shoe.
(uh oh Rover)

He started to play with it. Rover played and played wi
th the shoe. Up it went and down it came. Then it went up again.
(Your future ain't look'n so bright little doggy.)
Soon Dad's shoe had a hole. But Rover still did not stop playing with it.

(about right now is when you might want to kiss your furry butt good bye.)

Dad came out of the house. He looked all around. "Where is my shoe?" he said.
(Here's a clue Amish guy: think "chew toy", your shoe and euthanasia and you'll be close.)
Then Dad saw Rover. He saw his shoe, too. "No, Rover," said Dad. "NO! NO! NO!"
(REALLY?? This is all he could think to say?? My v
ersion would be oh so-o-o- unprintable. Oh, I forgot, this guy's Amish.)
He ran at Rover.
(Hmmm. A Dog Whisperer kind of move?)

Rover did not play now.
(There is nothing like an Amish dude running after you that quells the desire to play.)
Oh, my, no! Away he ran as fast as he could.
(Rover's very first act of intelligence)

He ran to his hole under the house.
(a.k.a. future burial site)
Dad came to the hole, too. He found Rover. "You are a bad dog, Rover," he said.
(again, not the verbiage I would have chosen but I think we have already ascertained that I am not Amish nor the author of a second grade reader.)
Dad pulled Rover out of the hole. He took his shoe and did something. He did something to Rover.
(Something? SOMETHING?? Yes sir-ee he did. "S
omething" is the obvious code word for Daddy-o taking out a big can of Amish whoop--- and beating the living snot out of our little friend Rover)
Rover did not like what Dad did. (Darn toot'n) He ran into his hole again.....He was not a happy puppy.

Needless to say, Rover never played with Dad's shoes again. Lesson learned. On to the next chapter.

You know, I thought it would be interesting to relay one of our family's "discussions" through an Amish-Pathway reader kind of way. Here we go: (Now see if you can't resist going un-Amish on me and want to insert your own red commentary!)



SAM'S BAD DAY

It was a nice day. The sun was shining. It was early and Sam was making his breakfast. Sam was not a happy boy.
Sam was having a hard time being kind to other people.
Dad was up early too. Dad was singing. He was happy. Dad told Sam to do some work. Sam said some words that were not happy.
"No, no, no Sam. Do not say those words. They are not nice." said Dad. Dad talked about school. Sam did not want to talk. Dad talked about how to say nice words. Again, Sam did not want to talk.
Finally, Sam wanted to talk but he did not say good words. He said cross words. Now Dad was cross. Dad did something to Sam. Sam did not like what Dad did. He ran to his room. Dad went away. He went away to work. Sam stayed in his room. He did not want to play. He was not a happy boy.

Like Rover, there was eventually a happy ending to this story as well. I am sure any "red commentary" you mentally inserted had much truth to it and hopefully some humor to boot. Explaining things simply to me never works. I have to mess with it some how. To have written the above so simply about killed me......there is just so much more between the lines.

So...there you have it, my post with absolutely no wisdom to impart nor any edifying value. Totally and utterly pointless and I enjoyed every second of it!

Have a good day!!!





Sunday, November 20, 2011

The List

My 13 year old daughter just had her birthday. And as tradition has it in our huge family, my husband and I take the birthday victim....I mean, person out to dinner alone with just us. Our kids LOVE this as they see this as time specially put aside for them where they have our loving and undivided attention. Not to mention, they get to order anything they want at the restaurant of their choosing. This is a huge deal. And now it was our daughter's turn.

I need to describe my 13 year old daughter. She is witty. She is organized. She is intentional (as you will soon see.). She does not mince words and is tough as nails, but in the same breath, she is gentle and has great maternal instincts. Her softness with our younger children has melted me on more than one occasion. She has physical endurance unlike any other child I have. She is my first baby girl and I could not keep my hands off of when she was first born. In fact, I would often wake her up just to hold her. I remember her infant doe eyes never leaving me as she had the intense need to track every where I roamed. Often, while she was facing rear in her car seat, I would turn back to see her head craned unnaturally just so she could keep her eyes on me while driving. We nicknamed this gaze "The Baby Psycho Stare". She is gorgeous and she doesn't even know it. Just for the next couple of years I would like it to stay this way! I love this girl so much and I am just so proud of her. She is amazing.




As we were driving to her chosen restaurant (one where she would single handedly polish off 14 teriyaki wings without blinking or taking a breath) she began asking us questions like "How is the adoption going?" and "The weather was nice to day wasn't it?" I'm not thinking too much about her questions....although I did find them to be a bit odd, contrived and out of character for her. I mean, is this what she really wanted to talk about when she had us all to herself? Oh well, whatever floated her boat. When we arrive at the restaurant, she was seated directly across from us. She looked down and then looked up to ask yet another question.....about
politics. This is coming from a child that lives, breathes and thinks about horses 24 hours a day and she is asking us about politics? Her wanting to converse about politics was about as uncommon as a man wanting to delve into the specifics of childbirth.

Ok. Something was up.

At this point, I am getting wind of the fact that she may actually have a sheet in her lap that she is reading questions off of. So I said, "You're reading off a list aren't you?" She went silent but a smirk started to appear on her sly little face. "Oh my gosh, you are actually reading off a list?????" I proclaim in humor ridden shock.
She responded saying she wasn't sure what she was going to talk about with us. This was hilarious! This is a child that has no problem sitting down and starting a deep and involved conversation with us at 12 midnight when we want to die of sleep deprivation. And all of a sudden, she needs a prop to help her have a dialogue with us??? I demanded the list from her. She refused and tightened her steely grip on it. Action had to be taken so I propelled my huge pregnant body across the restaurant table stunning and embarrassing her so much that she lost her hold and I grabbed it stealthily from her grasp.

Ha. I won.

So, without further ado, I want to share with you her list of possible discussion topics to have with us parents: ( It actually had a title too.)

Things To Talk About

1) Dad's Work

2) Adoption

3) Food

4) Mom's Blog

5) Idle Chit Chat (yes, she actually wrote this)

6) Writing Class

7) More Soccer

8) The Economy (Yes dear, let's talk about Occupy Wall Street)

9) Christmas

10) You're on your own babe. (
This is my personal favorite!)

I actually was a little bothered by this list at first. I wondered whether she really felt that awkward with us to need this list. Was she so used to having siblings as a buffer between her and us that having us one on one was too overwhelming for her? I could feel the enemy getting the upper hand on this adorable event and getting to my "insecure mother" part of me. I then remembered all our errands where we have taken alone where she was fine and had no problem talking and all our late night talks. This was not a symptom of a child ill at ease with her parents. This was an example of a child that thrives off of making lists for everything she does. Her birthday night would not be immune from her list making antics and it proved to be of great entertainment! I think the other thing I really like about her list, as a friend also pointed out, was that many of the topics were very "others" centered. Not all the topics were about her but about what she knew would get us going. For a teenager, I find this fairly noteworthy.

To my precious daughter, thank you for coming into our lives and giving us so much reason to smile, laugh and be proud. You are beautiful, smart as a whip and you are turning into a person that I would choose as a friend if I had a choice. I can't imagine, nor would I ever want to, life without you. So, my little list maker, I would find it more than a privilege to make it on one of your top 10 lists one day......as long as it has a good title. ;)






It's Getting Close

Well, our paper work is done and was has been hand delivered into the country of Ethiopia. Now, all we have to wait for is the announcement of a court date. The wait. Oh the wait. For us, there is no way of telling how long this will take. Since our precious boys are already waiting children, this may grease the machine to go a little quicker. Also, the fact that I am very pregnant apparently adds a little more grease. We have been assured that everything is being done to expedite our case.....even to the point of putting all our paperwork on a plane with our adoption agency's rep. to be hand delivered to the appropriate people. The loving care with which our case has been handled has been touching and reassuring to say the least. I really believe that the Lord is taking care of these boys and of the whole adoption process. There is such peace that it is hard to explain......so I won't.

I really want to see these boys before they hit US soil. I feel an intense need to see, smell, meet and touch the environment they call home. I want to be able to imagine truly what they speak of when they try to explain their prior life to me. I want to be able to have the chance to say "Yes, I remember what she looked like" or "yes, I remember where you slept". I realize there will be so much I won't be able to relate to with them......but just to have a little taste, some visual and tactile link.

There is a distinct possibility of me not being able to go on any of the trips to meet them for the very first time or to bring them home. The timing and vaccination issues could be travel show stoppers for me. If I am going to travel, I ideally should travel by the end of January. If I don't, it will be too late as I will be only 5 weeks from delivery by the end of January. I am also trying to ascertain whether the Yellow Fever Vaccine is "required" in order to enter the country of Ethiopia. This particular vaccine is live and not one I am willing to to take while pregnant. There is too much risk. So my prayer is that we find out that this vaccine is just a "recommendation" and not "required". These are issues for which I ask for prayer.

All in all, this adoption has gone so smoothly so far. I am very thankful. Although I ingest all their most recent pics and videos like a drug crazed addict, it is beginning not to be enough. I am now in need of their hard core presence. I need to know if they like peanut butter. I want to know if they are scared of the dark. I want to know what they sound like when they laugh and when they cry. I want to know what their bodies feel like when I hug them and when I run my hand over their hair. What is their gate like when they walk/run? I just want to get started with them. I want their healing to have the chance to begin.


I am done waiting...


Monday, October 31, 2011

Gathering

This is the time of year where you can see a lot of squirrels, notably not my favorite animal, gathering food for the winter in the midst of fallen leaves and crisp air. They have had an abundant summer of chasing each other, chewing through screens, vandalizing large family vans and reproducing so as to have yet another year of festivities (seemingly) at our expense. Believe it or not, this post was going to start off with a more romantic air, but I am now finding the urge to pull out my BB gun for one last go of it with my furry buck-toothed friends. There will actually be a point to this, but it has taken a hairy morbid turn which I seem to be enjoying entirely way too much.

Ok, back to the paved road.

In watching the squirrels plan for the cold months, there is a part of me that marvels at how cool it would be to predict with such accuracy when the hard times were coming. It would be so nice, I think, to have some type of schedule to rely on for when sickness comes, when a financially slim time bears its claws to grasp at what has been so hard earned or when the enemy comes to seek and destroy all to which you are holding the tightest. Or better yet, to be able to store up high spirits in the expectation that the winter of depression will soon darkly loom uninvited around the corner. Oh, to be able to plan or to know would give us some sense of control, maybe an ability to better cope or altogether prevent the oncoming hardship. Yes, that would be nice...but so would breakfast in bed every morning with a massage.

Recently, I survived a "winter" in my life that tested all that I knew. It lasted about a year and a half. It was a period where I lost much of what I valued except for my husband, children and a few close friends (and for this I am grateful). I lost family relationships that I assumed would last a lifetime.
In speaking a necessary truth, I risked and lost so much. I struggled whether the truth was even worth this much. I wrestled with how I was going to live without these loved ones since any attempt at reconciliation was rebuffed and I was told that it would logically never be possible. It was like they had all died and no one was crying but me. No funeral, no closure. I fought with false accusations of being insane, a liar and unstable. This, of course, attacked the core of who I knew I was.

My reserves to handle more were low, but the winter storms kept coming in the form of my precious church breaking down injuring and losing scores of relationships with precious people that I loved.

My reserves became even lower only to bear the blow of the loss of a twin pregnancy. Along with the loss of two wanted lives, I also had to face the reality of my childbearing years being over for good.

The grief and loss were unbearable to me. I was looking over a cliff with a bottom I couldn't even see. It felt I had lost too much. I can not tell you the number of times I wept to the Lord asking for some relief, some sign, some answer....just something to show me that He cared, that He was even listening.

"I cry out to God without holding back. Oh, that God would listen to me!" (Psalm 77:1).

I seemed to need to know whether these hardships were discipline or pruning. Through no fault of their own, my friends seem to disappoint and hurt me more......not because they had changed or had done anything wrong, but because I needed them in a way I had no business requesting nor dared to even ask...and they could not provide the healing/relief that I was so desperately seeking.

The depth of aloneness I felt was frightening and disheartening.

Psalms 27:9 -- Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

When God seemed to return my prayers with silence, I became spiritually despondent, angry and rebellious. Literally and metaphorically, red traffic lights meant nothing to me. Construction cones were dares. My attitude was destructive at best but I felt that if God didn't care....why should I? So, I didn't. My belief in God's existence never waned, but my belief that He actually loved me did.

Why was God so silent? I needed him.....I ached to hear something, to feel something. This winter of mine was getting so cold and so long. I told Steve I wanted to stop going to church. I wanted to quit. How could I worship a God who would not speak to me, who would not even
answer me? Couldn't He see I was hurting so badly?

(Psalm 77:7-9)."Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again show me favor? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be kind? Has he slammed the door on his compassion?"

If I had only known He was waiting. Waiting for me to unwind. Waiting for me to find Him at the end of who I was. Like a toddler going down an intimidating tunnel slide for the first time only to meet the strong hands of their protector. I did not know this. Had you told me.....I would not have believed you. In my mind, no one was waiting for me.

I did come to the end. I unwound. I gave up. I died. And the rebuilding began. My winter slowly turned into the full bloom of spring that I began to believe would never happen. And my precious Lord began to speak of life and hope.

I would like to say that reconciliation has taken place in my family to bring us all back lovingly together and that our relationship is stronger than it was before. Not even close. But the Lord was faithful in revealing evidence through past correspondence vindicating me of the false accusations. The tattered pages were painful to re-read after many years, but served as a strong message that things are probably the best the way they are. What I initially experienced as being forgotten, discarded and thrown to the curb was actually the Lord's hand in protecting our family. Although I will always be open to reconciliation, I will not beat my head against a wall for it. I love my family dearly and I am at total peace with how things are now. The Lord was listening when I thought He wasn't..

My church family that disintegrated so painfully is still, and always will be, a disbanded church. But as a result, our family has found a home church that is healthy and led by a pastor that is a strong leader of a strong staff. For our current church situation, in retrospect, I would go through our old church disintegrating again in a heartbeat. I now see the old church's passing away as a true gift. The messages spoken from the pulpit of Potter's Hand Bible Church have been huge in the thawing out of my long winter. The Lord was listening when I thought He wasn't.

And as for the grief of my miscarriage and realization of never having children again, I am healed. I have nine beautiful children and many tears were shed over possibly not ever having anymore biological children......a necessary loss for any woman that has thoroughly enjoyed her childbearing years. But the gift of new life has been born out of the healing of this grief. As a result of the miscarriage, my husband and I embarked on our first adoption journey of adopting two brothers from Ethiopia. We are beyond excited and can't wait to add them to our family at the beginning of next year. During the adoption process of these Ethiopian jewels, I unexpectedly found out I was pregnant at the ripe age of 43. I am currently 22 weeks pregnant and expecting around the time our boys are due to come home. What a glorious homecoming this will be!! The Lord was listening when I thought He wasn't.

I am soaring now. I am not naive and will enjoy it knowing it will not last forever. This is where I want to be like the squirrels I see during the fall gathering nuts. Is there any way to gather the feeling of well being I feel now and save it for a rainy day......for another long, hard winter? Is there a way to store this and have it ease the pangs of another spiritual famine? If I could, these are the acorns I'd want to store:

That even through my winter, God still proved that He loved me dearly.....just not on my time schedule and not the way I thought He would.

"Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer and did not withdraw his unfailing love from me" (Psalm 66:20).


That without the grief and suffering, I would not have gained all that I have from my trials. I would not be as strong.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance (Romans 5:3)


That what seems to be an injury or a crisis is most likely something entirely different in God's eyes.....something amazing.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.(Romans 8: 28)


That even when I feel alone, it doesn't mean I am alone.
I will try to remember this next time.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

That it's not all about me.

Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2: 14-17)


So I have rambled on telling you about nuts and habits of worthless furry animals not to tell you of my sob story, but to encourage those of you who are in your own personal winters. Do not to give up. You are not alone and your situation may not be what you think or what it appears. I also hope it is pre-encouragement for those of you who are in your "summers" to remember when your winter hits....because it will. Enjoy your summers, it is a true blessing! There are definite seasons to this life that are unavoidable and necessary. So store your nuts wisely...and hang on for the ride. God promises that in the end, it is all worth it.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2a time to be born, and a time to die;a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3a time to kill, and a time to heal;a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4a time to weep, and a time to laugh;a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 gather stones together;a time to embrace, and a time toa time to cast away stones, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6a time to seek, and a time to lose;a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7a time to tear, and a time to sew;a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8a time to love, and a time to hate;a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)








Friday, October 14, 2011

The Big Push

I want to show you what my children have done and how excited they are to bring their brothers home from Ethiopia.

My sons have taken up making survival bracelets in order to sell to help raise funds for our adoption. This was brainstormed by my eldest and he took the time and effort to learn how to make them. We are providing one for every $10 donation that is made on the blog. They can custom make them to your wrist size and your color preference. They can make solid color bracelets or bracelets with two of your favorite colors. We have many colors, more than what you see in the below pictures. If we don't have the colors you want, we can get it. Just indicate the color (s) and wrist size when you encounter the message prompt when you donate on our blog. Here is a picture of what they look like:






My daughters, on the other hand, have taken their creativity and decided they would make stationary to help fund raise. It is gorgeous and I am beyond impressed at the final product. Each pack includes eight decorated note cards with envelopes. We are offering these with every $10 donation. In the message prompt, you will need to choose if you want the stationary OR a survival bracelet. I am not sure the following picture does their art work justice, but believe me, the designs they have come up with are amazing and beautiful!




Also, we are holding a benefit for our adoption at the
Cary Towne Center Chik-fil-A on Tuesday, October 25th from 5pm to 8pm. The owner, a dear friend, has been very generous in letting do this and he is donating 20% of the proceeds from this evening to our adoption. In addition, there will be a raffle for a year's worth of chicken sandwiches. So, to all my local peeps, it would mean the world to us if you would come join us for good food and fellowship. To see all your faces will bring us to my knees in absolute gratitude for your support in bringing our boys home!





Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Heat of His Hand.

There are some things that are just inherent in a household of 11 people......a lot of them little people. One of the things that used to bug me, but now I hardly notice, are fingerprints and smudges. I've given up really. They are everywhere. At this point I just chalk it up to the decor and I am really thinking of getting a patent for the dirt colored design I see at waist level, like a border, all over my house. But, I will admit, there are days it gets the best of me and I try in vain to eradicate my house of all these smudges......proof of my family's existence.

But I'll tell you what, there are some smudges and fingerprints that I LOVE to see. The fingerprints and smudges of God all over my life.




This past week, my life has been overwhelmed by His touch......so much so that I literally still feel the heat of His hand.

Last week, I went in for an ultrasound to determine the location of the placenta in my uterus. My most recent ultrasound revealed a placenta that looked to be situated squarely over my cervix. If this were truly the diagnosis, it would mean several things. One, that travel to Ethiopia would be impossible due to the possibility of hemorrhaging. Two, it would also entail that I have a c-section as opposed to the home births with which I have been so spoiled and blessed. I was completely at peace with what ever needed to happen, but all things being said, I really wanted the placenta to move out of the way. The ultrasound last weak revealed a placenta that was totally off the cervix and not a threat. The Lord moved the stone away from the tomb and new life will be able to come forth! The ultrasound also revealed that there is a perfect little person being woven within me that is thriving.

Fingerprint.

Steve and I went in to get our biometric fingerprints done for the adoption of our sweet boys. We went two and a half weeks before our actual appointment date hoping that they would allow us in. It was like they were expecting us as the welcomed us with smiles and no questions. To make the visit even sweeter and more meaningful, our friends , the Crosses were there as well to get theirs done early. They are adopting a sweet little girl from the Philippines. It felt like the Lord just put us in the express lane. Steve and I were euphoric and walked out of the building high fiving each other.

Fingerprint.

I called my adoption agency to let them know where we were in getting our I-600A approval. We spoke of potential first travel dates, and the time of mid January was posed. I told them this was cutting it close in regard to my due date. Immediately things went into high gear and later that day, I was told that contacts in Ethiopia were now trying to get us an earlier court date due to our "situation". There are no guarantees, but the knowledge that there are people I don't even know pulling strings for us is humbling and brings an exciting sense of hope that I will be able to travel safely in this pregnancy.

Fingerprint and large beautiful smudges.

Lord, make a mess with all the evidence of your touch in my life. I am soaring as a result of the obviousness of your presence. I am in awe and I love feeling You so close that I can feel......the heat of your hand in everything we do. Please remind me of this time when I feel distant from you and wonder if you are there. Please remind me that your hands never leave me.

Thank you.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I know...I know


I know, it's been awhile since I have posted. I have been duly chastised by my loving friends who are waiting for the next tidbit. Why is it so hard to s
it my butt down to post? I really do have a lot to say, but this little 3 inch human being knit within me seems to be calling the shots. I am happy to say that this little one is thriving and there is only one. An ultrasound revealed a healthy little baby wriggling around. This is roughly what the little one should be looking like right now at about 15 weeks gestation.


On the adoption side of things, all is going smoothly but everything just takes so long!! Most of the delays are my fault. For awhile, just looking at fine print made me want to spew. Completing paperwork was beyond what I could get myself to do.....and fine print was what it was all about. I am happy to say that most of this is behind me, and a stack of paperwork has been signed, notarized and sent on to get these little guys home. The Ethiopian courts do not open up again until October 15th due to their rainy season. So hopefully, our dossier will be in the shoot ready to be sent off by then. Timing. It's all in the Lord's timing.

On a different note, but not completely, my sixth born little man child had his birthday this last Sunday and he turned seven. He's the "D" man.



In the mail, he found an envelope addressed to him from a friend of ours. Inside it, he discovered a birthday card and a ten dollar bill. This is a lot of money for a little guy. It was all he had to his name. My husband and I took him out to dinner, just he and us, to celebrate the addition of another year with him. He was in heaven. In the middle of dinner, "D" looked at my husband and said, "Daddy, I have something for you." Steve looked up to see "D" earnestly fishing around in his pant's pocket where he finally pulled out a wadded up ten dollar bill. "Daddy, I want to give you this for the adoption.....all of it." Steve was shocked and finally ushered to tears while telling "D" that he was amazing. "D" stated, "I just want them to come home, Daddy."

I will be honest. Steve has struggled with the financial enormity of this adoption. I don't say this to make him look bad, I say this because this is where the enemy wants us to falter.....over fear that has no grounds. The amount of money that has to flow out will be tremendous and jaw dropping. But, such is the nature of international adoptions. But, it doesn't matter how much we have, there is always worry etched in Steve's soul about having enough money. Many men would be nodding in agreement in reading this. And admittedly, this fear did not start with the adoption but it has been brutally challenged by it.

The question really has to be asked as to why our child had such assurance in handing over all that he had to his Daddy. Yes, he's a child and many children could care less about money but it's more than that. Our son handed over all he had because, at some unknown level to him, he knew that all his needs had been met before acquiring the $10 and they would continue to be met after giving the $10.



Oh, the faith of children. To have trust that not matter what we hand over materially for His name, we would be taken care of and loved....that we would be "caught". To have the trust that our son displayed so beautifully at the dinner table towards his Daddy. He knows his Daddy loves him, he knows that he is protected
and he knows this won't end with the subtraction of all that he has materially......this is why the $10 meant less to him and was easier to relinquish for God's glory. He knew that he would be "caught".

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Matthew 6:25-27 (in Context)


Adoption has made both my husband really evaluate our trust (or lack thereof) in the Lord in comparison to the trust we have instilled in our money. Adoption has put up a mirror to where our priorities really lay....and sometimes the truth of this is downright ugly and shameful. This has been a spiritual battleground for my husband. He has had to confront the fear of radically "going all out" financially for these boys. He has been frustrated with me and at times he sees me like the picture below.....well, truth be told, most people see me like this:




Except, when I jump, I make sure my pants are pulled up....and this poor guy actually looks to have peed himself.

This adoption has made it glaringly clear that one can not worship money and God with the same intensity at once. One needs to choose.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Matthew 6:23-25

It has been hard. But I love the lessons this adoption is teaching our family. Pursuing these boys has been so valuable to us.....it is possible that we need to adopt just as badly as our boys need to be adopted. I love that it is further unveiling our eyes to see what God prioritizes and then to perform it with our actions....to see and then do. It is a strange sense of economy that the more you lose for the sake of Christ...the more you gain.

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:20-22

Boys, Ephram and Anteneh, just know this. We love you and we are coming to get you.

















Saturday, August 20, 2011

Progress!

I am elated to announce the arrival of both the referrals for our boys! As I spoke with our agency yesterday, I was told that it was very unusual for an orphanage to update already acceptable labs and photos....but they did. Everything is brand new. New pictures, new physicals and new labs.

As I looked (ok,
devoured) the latest photos of our boys, I was very cognisant of the difference in the demeanor of the boys from the very first pics I ever saw of them to the most recent ones. You see, in the first photos, they had no one pursuing them....no one in sight. But it has come to light recently, that they are now very well aware that a family, our family, has claimed them. You can see the difference in their eyes. The light. They know.

Isn't that what we ultimately live for in life?....to be claimed? Ideally, we start off in life knowing we have been claimed by our parents and family. We belong. What does it do to a child's soul when this is missing? As we grow older, we long to be claimed by the love of another in the form of marriage. But even then, this hole of needing to be claimed is never satisfied until we accept being claimed and bought with the blood of Jesus Christ. It is only then that we come to a peace and understanding that can not be surpassed. The look on our boys' faces is a look I hope to see again when they come to know the love of their true Savior.


As I have told more and more people about what we are about to do....adopt, I keep getting the common sentiment of what "saints" we must be. This always takes me a second to register this because this is not how we see it at all. The way we see it, is that WE are the "lucky" ones. I think at times that I just can't believe that the Lord has chosen us to bless like this. This feels like the ultimate reward....these amazing children....these gifts of God. I literally feel like we have won the lottery jack pot over and over. Honestly, I don't feel like we deserve these boys. They are jewels. How is it that people can't see this?

Yes, we are the lucky ones.