Sunday, September 16, 2012

Kayaking Into Smallness

We were in Emerald Isle at the beach enjoying a week of amazing weather, surviving body jarring nautical wipe outs, searching for shark teeth like four leaf clovers, eating crapola galore and watching more TV than any human should be allowed to watch.  It was such glorious indulgence before we return to our year in home schooling and busy schedules involving all fourteen members of our family.




This year we did something different.   We rented for our family two kayaks, one single and one double.  I have had the opportunity to kayak in lakes only to fall hopelessly in love with the hobby / sport.  So much so, that one of my dreams is to own a family's worth of kayaks to ride atop our passenger van in route to all the great lakes around us.  Every time I have kayaked, I have been in awe of the sheer perfect beauty of God's creation.  It is easy to worship inside a kayak on a beautiful lake.  Add a gentle warm rain and salvation can't be too far away.  Really.






If kayaking on a lake was this awesome, then surely kayaking in the ocean would bring on convulsions of worshiping pleasure.  I couldn't wait and I was kept up the night before with visions of levitating into spiritual one-ness with my Creator.  Of course we can not forget the soulful whale songs that would surround me as I reach my hands towards heaven in absolute surrender to His beauty.  Don't look at me like that, people.....it could happen.

The waves had calmed from the previous day and were beckoning with promised gentleness.  My son decided to accompany me and was able to bypass the the breaking waves with ease into calmer waters.  I was salivating and started my first experience of ocean kayaking by gracelessly dragging my kayak into the water.  It was then that I looked up to see that my son had paddled himself right into the middle of a pod of about twenty dolphins.  Within the first two minutes, my son was having an experience for which some people wait a lifetime.  Unbelievable.  Overcome with amazement and jealousy, I whooped and jumped up and down like an over zealous football fan.  This was enough to thoroughly embarrass my flesh and blood near by.




Still lugging the kayak through the breaking waves, I decide I had an opening to hop in the kayak and paddle like mad.  I should have decided differently as a rogue wave came out of nowhere and pummeled the crap out of the kayak.  This sent me flying only to have the kayak narrowly miss my head.  Regaining my composure, but looking disheveled and inexperienced, I continued to act as if I knew what I was doing. I finally make it through the waves and jump into the kayak with the finesse of a penguin jumping belly first from water to ice.  In other words, no awards would be handed out for grace.  I paddled into a stillness that there are no words to explain but I will lamely attempt to anyway.

What I thought would send me into a peaceful spiritual revival, sent me into a sense of vulnerability that snuck up and stole my breath and courage.  Maybe I would not have felt this had I been with others braver than I.  I was completely alone as my son had gone back to shore.  I could see my children in the distance playing on the shore with no noise except for the slapping and gurgling of the water on the side of my craft.  And like a breathing giant, the ocean heaved me slowly up and down.  The only feeling I can compare this to, is the feeling of hanging my bare butt over a dank porta-potty hole in Mexico.  I just never knew if there was a poop eating Sasquatch hiding out in the sludge hole that could potentially come up and make a meal out of my rear.  If you haven't picked up on it yet, I was feeling vulnerable and very unsettled.  And in all honesty, watching the movie JAWS at the ripe age of eight did nothing to help matters.  The vastness of what I was paddling into was overwhelming.  There was never a time that there wasn't an urge to turn the kayak around and head back home.  Thoughts of the unknown below me kept me vigilant.  Anything as big, or bigger than me, that had the least bit of interest in my h'orderve-like shape, could come and "tap" me out of my vessel of false safety.  I felt so small and there would be no lifting up of hands praising my Creator as I had fantasized the night before.  Not that He did not deserve it...it's just this side of Him instilled in me such immense respect and fear. If this vast ocean is only one of the things He created, then what must He be like?  This ocean in which I was floating was oozing with power.  I was but a flake of fish food on the surface of something so great.  I now have an inkling as to why people die when in God's presence.  It's just too much.   And with this thought, I stiffly paddled further out trying to shake off the fear and the feelings of such tininess.  I was being ridiculous.

.....no, no I wasn't.

And I turned the kayak around and headed back to the shore where my life was tethered,  now knowing that I really had no idea or concept of how great and powerful our God really is.  It took me floating alone on one tiny drop of His creation to realize that I have severely limited Him in my life with my intellectual and emotional understanding of who He is. And the biggest mystery that will always plague me is why, as awesome and powerful as He is, He should have such interest and love for mankind......much less, for me.




 I would venture out a total of three more times in the kayak, and wipe out another four, just for the sheer thrill of repeatedly freaking myself out.  I feel the disturbing stirrings of a potential adrenalin junkie.   This was better than any bible study or retreat....it was a real physical experience of even the tiniest part of who God is....and an unsettling realization of how much smaller I am compared to what I once thought.  It is sobering to know that the very foamy fringes, the weakest part of this great expanse of water, can lay me out flat in one surge.  To be honest, at times, I struggle to find any worth at all in my "grain of sand" like existence. 

And it is here that I cling to His words, for it I don't, I have nothing at all..

Matthew 10: 29-31
 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[a] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.


Psalm 139:1-4
O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.

Romans 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)


1 Corinthians 1:25
This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God's weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.




Monday, July 23, 2012

Doro WHAT?????

I am an adoptive Mom.
I am an adoptive Mom who can cook.
I am an adoptive Mom who wanted to "get down" with her Ethiopian boys by cooking their favorite dish.


It is really spelled Doro Wat....the national dish of Ethiopia.  "Doro" meaning chicken and "Wat" meaning "soup" or "stew".  Innocent enough.


However, I liken this dish to a quickie colon cleanse and a potential candidate for a food on Fear Factor.


Here is a picture of Doro Wat.  The white thingees you see floating there are not golf or ping pong balls, they are shelled hard boiled eggs. I am dying to know if the idea of this combo started out with a dare, with the dare failing and the dish becoming a national favorite.




One of the main spices of this ethnic dish is berbere.  Before I get started on this spice, let me go off on a harmless and point producing tangent.  In science, we learned how brightly colored insects and tree frogs are able to use their bright coloring to ward off predators by communicating their poisonous nature.  This doesn't work for humans.  Ok.....let's be honest.  It didn't work for me.


The color of berbere is a deep, dark neon red.  This was the first attempt of this spice in letting me know that it is nearly inedible and painful.   Here's a picture so you have an idea of what I speak: (It is the bottom one....surely you can see the smoke rise from it?)



I had looked up several recipes for Doro Wat to find different measurements of berbere being used.  One recipe called for 1.5 CUPS of berbere and another only called for 3 Tablespoons.  I compromised and used 3/4 of a cup.  Holy Mother of Pain, had I only known what I was in for.  My Ethiopian sons, seeing that I was making some of their favorite food, became quite excited and dipped their fingers several times into the flammable powder and licked it off their fingers like chocolate frosting.  Their reaction to berbere was proof to me that we were in for an incredible tasting meal! 


I'm such a good adoptive mom.


As the dish was coming along, I finally decided to take my christening taste.  Ahhhhhh, tender chicken in a flavorful broth.......absolute heaven.  Man, I'm good.  But after about 10 seconds, it became brutally clear that I had prematurely ascertained the heaven like quality to this dish.   Unexpectedly, I was violently slammed to the floor, mouth first, by a spice induced round house kick to my unsuspecting food loving arse.  Coming to, after having sucked down at least five glasses of milk laced with fire retardant,  I was convinced I had accidentally created the same elements that are inside the hydrogen bomb.  Why this boiling acid was not eating through my stainless steel pot only to spill and sear a hole through my floor, was a complete mystery to me.  In fact, I felt quite sure Al Qaeda would be calling me any minute for the recipe.....they would just have to text me because I feared my thousand degree pulsating lips would not be able to form intelligible words......ever again.


But this was dinner....and I had made a virtual butt-load of it with no time to make a back up alternative.  And I couldn't waste it.  What to do?  I am positive that there is a study somewhere out there that proved children didn't have fully formed pain receptors.  Well, this meal was going to put that theory to the test.  I would plan, like any good parent would, and have EMS on standby should any of my progeny start to exhale fire.....gotta save the curtains and the dog, you know. 

Sitting down for our meal, I sat and stared as my children potentially started their cremation process early.  Both of my hands were firmly placed on the fire extinguisher in my lap.  They were ready for the challenge and egged each other on to see who would wave the white flag of surrender first.  My Ethiopian boys stared at us and pretty much decided, instantaneously, that we were a group of complete ninnies and proceeded to eat the 1,000 degree Doro Wat like a bowl of cereal......and then got up to get seconds and thirds.  (I am convinced these boys could probably eat staples, stick pins and thumb tacks like Chex mix.)  Meanwhile, my other children were on their second and third spoonfuls with faces that mimicked the redness of third degree burns.  But because they could not let their siblings one up them, they continued suffering silently until they lost all feeling in their mouths and faces.  Wasn't this fun?  Eating together as a family is such a treat!


One of the few aspects of eating Doro Wat that I did not count on was the Draino-like effect this meal would have on my system.  Ask my husband and I am sure he will give you a play by play on how this all this played out.   No, on second thought, don't.  It wasn't pretty and I have my feminine reputation to uphold.  But I will tell you this; it involved running, cursing and clenching muscles I didn't know I had.  'Nuf said.


The other unexpected aspect was how Doro Wat would affect my breast milk.  Having a four month old, dressed in a pink dress, burp like a trucker and fart like a fog horn is carnival worthy, but my sweet baby Sarah found it hard to comply with the same humor we found in it.   My husband also had the grand idea of using some of my breast milk as lighter fluid for our evening grilling.  Funny guy.


All joking and exaggerated drama aside, it actually was an amazing meal and I plan on making it again for our family.  Except next time, I will use less berbere and let Anteneh and Ephrem spice their own dishes themselves to their little hearts' content.  The biggest and best part of the meal was to see their smiles as their gastronomical memories went back home for just one night.  By going over to their culinary territory, I had wanted them to know that I value, and didn't want them to forget, where they came from and that we are all in this together. 


Bon Appetite my sweet boys!







Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lest You Think I Forgot Her.....

My sweet baby Sarah.


Even though we have had two amazing boys join our family, not for one second was Sarah forgotten, pushed off to the side or thrown to the wolves.  It would be absolutely impossible to do this with her captivating and irresistible cuteness.  It's all anyone can do not to absolutely eat her alive.....she is that scrumptious.  She is now exactly four months old and I thought I would share some photos of her.


This is a photo of Sarah sleeping soundly in her bassinet.  As you can see, we have the world map up so that she can memorize all the countries before her counterparts. You know us home schoolers, we are a competitive bunch......Hooya!



This is the hilarious sight I see every morning.  No sound.  No cry.  Just these adorable peepers looking at me expectantly for her morning meal.


Ooops.  Note to self.  Don't take pics of Sarah while getting dressed.

In four short months, Sarah has gone.....


From this......



To this......


From this.........



To this.....




From this........


To this..........


 I am in love with this little girl that the Lord has lent to me.  I can not believe four months have passed as quickly as they have.  We all love you to bits little Sarah and can not imagine life without you!



Friday, June 22, 2012

Pooper Scooper

One of the challenges when our boys first came was that of getting stool samples from them.  It was not my most looked forward to task with eight and ten year old boys whom didn't know me well nor knew any English.  I thought I had been thorough when I had our escort, Tsedey, AND a family acquaintance (each on separate occasions)  explain to them what needed to done and how.  I left folded & labeled gallon sized Ziplocs for them to "deposit" on the back of the toilet seat.  This would be a piece of cake. Now wasn't I the most efficient, on the ball, first time adoptive mother ever?  Yes, thanks, I thought so too.


Nothing happened.  And the bags remained empty....like a ghost town.

After one week, it became clear that they had no intentions of giving me anything to bank on.  So I called up my trusty escort, Tsedey, and updated her and explained the situation.....no poop.  For once in my life, I was asking for a crappy situation to occur.  We both felt it would be better for the boys if, instead of using a gallon Ziploc, it would be easier for them to  do their jobs on a toddler's training potty.  Excellent.  I had about three of them hanging around our house since we had recently potty trained our three year old.  Tsedey then asked me to hand the phone over to the boys to explain again, in their native language, what needed to be done and why.  Both the boys' heads nodded in absolute agreement and understanding.  Ok, now I felt confident that we were now ready to rock.


For the next week my toddler potties remained sparkling clean and lonely.

These boys had not even the slightest desire to do this, and quite honestly, I did not blame them.  Crapping for complete strangers is not even remotely near the top of my "bucket list"of things to do before I die.  I called my pediatrician and explained to her the situation.  I was done, and unless I could figure out a way to squeeze them like tubes of toothpaste, nothing was going to happen anytime soon.


Several days later, my eldest son was begging for a job to do to earn some extra dough.  




Yes, my astute reader, you know where this is going don't you? 

I proceeded to explain to my unsuspecting victim, I mean darling son, that I would pay him a large sum of money per child if he could get them to poop their brains out for me......enough to fill nine vials each.  




As with any teenager, I had to lay down some ground rules like: 

You may not use laxatives of any kind. 
No substituions allowed AND 
You may not use any instruments that I cook with.


The price apparently was right and a glint in his eye appeared.




  He brainstormed and came up with the idea of a five gallon bucket, a glad bag and some heavy bribery that included the props of a Spider Man poster, a soccer ball and a jar of Nutella. 


 He then took both boys into the bathroom with him, where the Glad bag lined bucket was set up.   Here's the conversation I heard behind the closed bathroom door:


SamOk.  Here's the deal.  You guys need to crap.....a lot.  I 
           will give you a Spider Man poster if
           you poop in this bucket.  (Silence then ensues where 
           I  assume some pretty major Oscar worthy miming is
           taking place.)

EphremmmmmmmmmNO.


Sam:   Ok.  I will give you your OWN soccer ball. (I hear Sam 
           slap the soccer ball for emphasis)

Anteneh:   (with heavy accent) mmmmmmm....maybe tomorrow.

Sam:   (Heavy sigh and sounding a little unsure.)  Well........
            how about a whole jar of Nutella?


Nutella was apparently the silver bullet for our reluctant poopers.  The crap-fest that began after this was almost more than I could handle.  Both boys watched me fill the vials and when they saw they hadn't produced the amount needed, they continued to go back time and time again until all the vials were full.  Needless to say, they were both pooped out and the proud owners of their very own jar of Nutella by nightfall.  My son was also very proud of his financial windfall as a result of taking a lot of crap from others..... (tee hee, I thought that pun was funny!)


So, to all prospective adoptive parents, my son, and self proclaimed "Poop Whisperer", has informed me that you can contract him out for this difficult task for a nominal fee.  


P.S.  The results of these tests all came back negative!  Thank you Lord!

















Thursday, June 21, 2012

Going Into The Turn





I'm sure you have all had this feeling at one time or the other.....you know, when you go into a turn a little faster than you had anticipated (whether you be driving, roller skating, being chased by someone, on a roller coaster, etc...).   There comes a point when you just don't know if you're gonna make it out of the turn or if you're going to be flung out of control by the strength of the centrifugal force whispering death threats in your ear.  The fear and/or exhilaration of this moment is enough to send you out of your mind.


That's where I am.


Every moment of each day.

Is it too soon to see proof that things will be ok?  Or am I just being foolish?


The adoption of my two boys, Ephrem and Anteneh has sent me into a realm that I have never been.  It is uncharted territory.  As much as I am committed to these boys and as much as I love them, I do not know them.  This takes time. They have our undying commitment but I now I hunger for knowledge of their hearts.  I have continued to read adoption books, only to turn my head away gasping from all the horror stories.  It's more than I can take right now.  Because what it translates into is me looking for evidence of potential issues....searching for trouble.  The current book I am reading is Brothers and Sisters in Adoption by Arieta James.  It is a thorough and comprehensive book regarding the risks of adoption.  And littered throughout the book are quotes from siblings about their feelings on the adoption of another sibling into the family.  It's enough to make a parent cry pools of tears laden with guilt.  It's enough to convince someone never to risk helping a child in need....ever.  It's enough to be flung out of the turn in the curve of adoption.


I have prayed everyday for the Lord to show me otherwise.  And he has been so faithful.  Everyday, I see a light in my boys' eyes telling me the Lord has spared their hearts and minds from their past.  These boys are retrievable.  Please don't get me wrong, they have been injured and they will remember and grieve.....I am just saying that everyday I think I see evidence that their spirits have defied the odds and survived.  

Everyday, little Anteneh has shown me that he hungers for communion with me physically and emotionally.  Yesterday, I was singing while cleaning gum off his dirty little hands.  And out of the corner of my eye, I could see him studying me intently as if he were about to make a big decision.  I could actually feel the burn of his gaze.  He then called to me "Ma Ma" and he continued to "find" other spots that had invisible gum needing to be cleaned off.  And of course, I cleaned them off with an overflowing heart.  He is letting me be his Mom.  We're making the turn.

 And I thanked God.


Ephrem is such a gentle boy.  It is obvious to me he has an understanding of things way beyond his years.....a deepness I hope to fathom one day.  He leans into me whenever I explain something to him....I love this.  Yet,  I've seen this serious boy light up at the opportunity to play in a kiddie pool for hours trying to teach himself to swim.  A true survivor.  I can see his trust in us grow everyday.  After wearing a long sleeve shirt every day and every night, even when it is blazing hot, he finally accepted my offer of a short sleeve shirt to sleep in.  He was finally comfortable enough to expose his hand-less arm......victory.  Just another sign that he feels accepted and at home.  We're making the turn.

And I thanked God. 

To some of you seasoned veterans of adoption, I wonder if you are shaking your head and thinking "She's in for a big surprise.....she hasn't seen noth'n yet."   I leave room, actually a canyon, for this to be entirely true.  I am such a newbie at all of this.  Books are doing me no favors right now, if anything I think they are causing undue stress and fear.  What I could really use are adoptive parents who have gone into the turn and made it.  Nikki, my sweet evil twin, I would be lost without you,  your experience and your wisdom!  I am so thankful for the friends that I do have that have four wheeled through the jagged turns of the adoptive process. 


So this is where I am.  I am an adoptive Mom being blown about with the uncertainty of not really knowing if what I am seeing is true or a mirage.  I am clinging to every shred of evidence that things are really as good as they seem.  This is when I know that I need to sit with my Sweet Lord and have a good pow-wow.  AND this is the only way I know that I can pull out of a turn and be victorious.









Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Other Shoe.....

.......When is it going to fall?
Many people have been so curious about how things are going in our household with our new sons.  To look in their eyes, I can tell they are not sure what answer I am going to pop up with.  Well here is my answer:


It is going so well, it scares me.


After months and months of reading books on adoption and all the pitfalls of taking in older children, I was ready for the worst.  I still am.  I am on my guard.....but I feel I am losing my grasp on this caution as I fall hopelessly in love with these boys.


I wince as I remember not in the too distant past (only a little over two weeks ago), how the youngest, Anteneh, hid behind his brother at the airport.  I remember his fear and my immediate primal desire to want to comfort him and tell him I was all his.  This little boy was the last to warm up to me.  In fact, his smiles had to be earned....and now I can't stop him. 


I will never forget having to hold him in my lap to restrain him for blood work.  It was almost more than I could handle.  Anteneh wept bitterly, this poor child who had traveled half way around the world to be in a family and a land that confused him.  Holding him, I wept.  No words could capture the ache I felt for this boy, the desperation of wanting him to feel safe in my arms, the sorrow I felt for his past.  It all came crashing down on me in that lab chair.  Not once have I ever wept when any of my other children received shots or had blood drawn.  But this particular instance did me in.  I was undone.


He is now a Tasmanian devil that crawls under our bed and grabs our feet to our horror and surprise.  This is the little guy that when given a cup to fill at the gas station, he fills it with every flavor of soda and every flavor of icee.  Yes, all in one cup.   This is a child that swallows life whole....without chewing.  He loves touch.  He loves to say the word "Mom."  He follows me smiling at times for unknown reasons and leaves after I kiss and hug him.  His hugs get tighter and tighter every night.


I am in love.


Ephrem is the eldest and is just gorgeous.  He is intelligent and much more serious that his youngest brother.  He is close to 11 years old and. like Anteneh, has blended so well with our boys that are around his age.  He is picking up English at an alarming rate and I am in awe of him.  Although he is quite a bit more laid back than his younger brother, he is not afraid to try anything new.  He seems fearless like his brother.  Ephrem is also so good to let us know the Amharic equivalent is to many words.  He is such a gentle child that has taken awhile to loosen up, but tonight, he let out a rip roaring laugh that filled our whole family with absolute delight.

They are both crazy-good at soccer, so much so that it seems their feet are as nimble as their hands.  It's beautiful and entertaining to watch.


Have I said that I am in love with these boys yet?


We have started them on chores by having them shadow several different children so they can learn the different jobs in our home.  They seem to relish the chance to help as I believe it makes them feel part of the family. 


Here are some pictures of our newest additions, Ephrem and Anteneh:




Their 1,000 watt smiles










Ephrem walked around the house with this box on his head as if were the most normal thing in the world.  His dry humor has won me over.






How can you NOT fall for a face like this??????






Anteneh.......trying to hide and failing miserably.




The computer is Ephrem's lost love.  He LOVES the game canvas rider and is not too crazy about the 30 minute limit we have on computer time.!





My handsome Ephrem.


Ephrem giving Timothy some brotherly love.

 


Doing chores as a team.



Ephrem showing his prowess at trash emptying.



Anteneh helping Luke with the dishes.





So this is our life with our new African sons Anteneh and Ephrem.  I have no complaints and to put it bluntly, I am amazed at how well things seem to be going.  I am ready for the hard times to come. The honeymoon will wear off and the backlash of culture shock and grief in some form must ensue.  But for now, I will enjoy without shame the beauty and innocence of it all.



Monday, June 04, 2012

24 Hours

Ephrem and Anteneh have officially been with us for over 24 hours.  It is hard to explain, but with the language barrier, I feel like I am having to relate to them through plate glass.  I can see them but I can't get to them via my words......and words are my specialty.  So I will wait patiently for the plate glass to recede as their language develops.  What a sweet gift this will be for the both of us.  And as I wait, I will desperately find other ways to get to them.  There is so much I want right now.  There is no such thing as instant intimacy in a situation like this.  It is earned through time, exposure and consistency.  And even then, there is no guarantee....just more opportunity.


Our first day together started with Anteneh accidentally locking himself in our bathroom.  The lock is sticky and not easily undone.  Add to that the language barrier and the fact that doorknobs seem to be a mystery to them, you have.........a little boy locked in the bathroom.  I know he heard all the voices on the other side, so I know he was aware we were fighting for his freedom.  He was a cool little doobie through the whole event and seems none worse for the wear.


My 9 year old son was successful in getting a gut wrenching laugh from both new brothers by burping.  One could tell through their laughter that burping was about as bad as farting in church......but funny nonetheless to a couple of real boys.  I thought I'd join in on the fun, so I belched.  I might as well have pooped in my hand and ate it.  Their looks were derived from pure horror.  Feeling that they had not realized how funny I could be, I looked at Ephrem and said "This one's for you."  And I proceeded to belch a perfectly enunciated version of his name.   .......chirp......chirp......chirp.....   How could a boy resist my charm???   Going for round three, I pointed at Anteneh and said "You're next."   My burping pro-ess could not have been better and yet so under appreciated.  Again, big eyes, no smiles and a look of utter under-amazement.  So, I sadly gave up realizing that my gut ripping sense of humor was not universal.  As I walked away, I could hear my son again erupting with burps and my new boys collapsing with oxygen depriving laughter.  Just wait boys......one day you will see how funny I am....just wait...


They also both had their first showers tonight.  Interesting.  Before letting them loose, I thoroughly went through how to turn on and off the shower and what soap to use on hair and body.  When I felt confident they knew what to do, I left Ephrem to shower.  On the other side of the bathroom door I could hear the shower go on....off.......on.......off.....on...and so on.  This went on for the better half of 20 minutes.  To this moment, I have no idea what that poor boy was doing.  I was too afraid to go in there and shame him to death with him being buck naked.  I am imagining that he was either playing with it or it had gotten to a temperature he could not tolerate for long periods of time.....or both.  Oh well, he was at least under some water to get that two day boystink off.


Most of today was spent jumping on the trampoline and playing soccer.  All the kids are spent but happily tired.  It was a really good day and I am feeling more confident than yesterday driving away from the airport with two little scared and overwhelmed boys.  I still can't believe they are here.  I rub my eyes and pinch myself to make sure this is all actually happening.  They are actually my sons.  Unbelievable!!


Here are some pictures of today:




              Ephrem had really attached himself to Timothy our 10 yr. old.

The kids playing hard at soccer.....at which they were consistently and brutally creamed by their new brothers.




Anteneh in the van before going to the pediatrician.  Sorry little dude, you wouldn't be smiling if you knew you were going to get poked.   Ignorance is bliss.


                           Timothy and Ephrem.......the new "dynamic duo"



Taking a rest between beatings.




We just can't keep our hands off of him, he's just so dang cute!!



Trying to prevent Anteneh making his millionth goal of the day.




My sweet, sweet Ephrem






Sunday, June 03, 2012

The Homecoming

We left church this morning allowing us enough time to catch a bite and head on to the airport......so I thought.  What I did not account for was the adoption virus that had invaded my brain making me an absolute moron in the simplest of moments.  I left our church only to get promptly lost in an area that I should have known like the back of my hand.  We arrived late to lunch, ate quickly and went on our merry way to the airport.  We calculated that we would get their at least a half hour before their arrival.  


Then came the call.


A good friend of mine, who had already arrived at the airport, called to inform us that our boys' flight was 20 MINUTES EARLY!  This was not good.   And from the looks of it, it was probable that we would not make it in time to welcome our boys after having to park, debark and walk to the terminal.  I fell apart and cried while speeding through traffic.  This couldn't be happening.  We just couldn't miss this....we just couldn't.  In a virtual panic attack, I called my sweet friend Nikki, who was tailing me in traffic.  It was decided that we would park at the arrival deck, hop out of our van and have members of Nikki's family park our van.  Their gesture was quick thinking and allowed us to make it to the gate with time to spare.  I will always be grateful for this.


There were MANY friends there with signs, balloons, cameras and 100 watt smiles.  The support was overwhelming.  Our poor sweet boys were absolutely shell-shocked.  They have no idea what they have walked into.


Below are just a few pics that were taken.  My extreme fatigue is preventing from posting more but I promise I will post more soon with updates.






Saturday, June 02, 2012

It Was The Night Before......

It was the night before the landing
counting the minutes and the hours
praying for new brothers walking
from their life to ours


We've talked of the change
We've meandered over our cares
To know what it means
To give our lives for theirs


Pain is everywhere, the poverty never ending
But God has blessed us so much
We had to do something

So when I look in their eyes
I see not one guarantee
Of a rose colored ending
Where we are all "home free"

I sense bodies that need hugging 
I see healing that needs to begin
I will try to ask nothing in return
Just my Father's "Amen"


I know this is all
Easier said and harder shown
If their parents were living
I would tell them their sons have a home


But what I suspect will happen
And it will have to be given
From the greatest of gift givers
From our Father in Heaven


And when His gift is opened
It will be humbly realized
That our boys were the ones
Who rescued us and opened our eyes


-Dedicated to Ephrem and Anteneh





Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What Do These Numbers Mean?




6/3                        1:24 pm                   #3757






If you don't have the slightest of inklings, then I am happy to tell you that on Sunday, June 3rd at 1:24pm, our sweet boys Ephrem and Anteneh will be arriving on United flight #3757 at the Raleigh/Durham Airport. 


Please come help us welcome our sweet boys home into our family!  We would love to see you there at the airport.  This day is as exciting as my wedding day and the days my sweet babies were born.  

This life is crazy good.   Woo Hoooo!!!!!





Wednesday, May 23, 2012

News Flash!!!!!

Our case cleared embassy this morning!!!   The aunt arrived and we have moved on to the next step which is to get a visa appointment.  This will not pose an issue at all.  As I have stated before, we are having our boys escorted to the US.  The agency rep from our adoption agency will be the escort.  According to her, she will not be able to leave Ethiopia with our boys until May 31.  This will put their arrival date somewhere between June 1st and June 2nd.  I was actually hoping that they would come earlier, but honestly, I am ecstatic that they will be coming in the next 10 days.


I can't wait to see them for the very first time and my husband can not wait to see them again.  Our children have made years and years of plans with their new brothers  It will be like watching the birth of our children....except this time I won't be naked and in sheet gripping pain.  I am sure you are all breathing a sigh of relief on this one.....this scene would not bode well in an airport and would land most witnesses in therapy and me in the slammer.


As soon as I know the dates of their arrival, I will let you know.  And to all my local friends, it would bring joy to my heart to see you at the airport as we wait for our boys.  I really want them to see how anticipated and wanted they are.  It would mean a lot to our family as well.  All of you have been so encouraging with support financially and through your friendship and prayers.  This is going to be an amazing day for our whole family!


I think I now officially need a pair of Depends.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Today Is The Day



Today is the day that needs to be bathed in prayer.   Today is the day my boys' aunt should have arrived at the embassy for her interview.  Today is the day that we will find out if our boys will be physically absorbed by our family within the next week.  

Today...........


Pretty soon all the todays will be yesterdays that we will gaze back upon and see the perfect timing of God's hand in all of this.  The waiting will always have the emotional photo in my mind of longing and impatience.  I will put this in their scrapbook too.  And I will look back, and I pray they will look back, and see the beauty and perfection of it all. 

Today is the day............




Friday, May 11, 2012

A Little Light...

This morning I woke up to a voice mail on my phone.  It was from our adoption agency informing me that our boys' aunt initiated a call to the agency and told them she would be back in over the weekend.  If she is to be taken seriously, this would mean that the embassy interview would take place this coming week.  AND if this happens, I imagine that we will have our boys in about two weeks.


Oh, the times I have estimated "two more weeks" is countless.  I am even afraid to speculate a date as to when they will actually arrive to be mobbed and absorbed by our family.  At times I feel embarrassed as the dates come and go with no boys.....like I am crying wolf with no proof to back it up.  Excited friends come and ask, over and over, if I have heard anything more about our boys and the date of their arrival.  At some point, I fear they will give up and shake their heads wondering if these boys actually exist.


They exist.  Look at my heart.  When I speak, my emotions prove it.  The tears that have been shed due to waiting for them is evidence.  Look at the sparkle in my husband's eyes when their names are mentioned.  Converse with my son about his memories of harassing his new dusty brothers and a grin spreads with pride and excitement.  Oh yes, they exist.


The only thing that does not exist right now is our boys' physical presence in our family.  This is the ache.  This is the expectation.  This is what will be so sweet when it happens......and we will breathe a sigh of relief when it does.


The power of prayer has been incredibly exposed and unveiled due to this adoption and I have all of you dear friends to thank for this. Thank you so much.  I know, without a doubt, that your prayers have kept me sane, calm and full of hope. 



Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Pray.

What was assumed would only take several weeks has now turned into an indefinite wait.  Our whole adoptive process, at this point, rests on the shoulders of our boys' aunt.  She is needing to come in for an interview at the Ethiopian embassy which would free the boys to travel.  She has cancelled two previous embassy appointments and now she is off in a different region for mourning ceremonies related to her deceased mother.  Many attempts have been made to contact her.  At first, it looked as though  she would be back as early as the end of this week.  Now we have information that she may not be back for weeks.  She has to have some inkling as to what her absence is doing and preventing.  I'm just not understanding her reasoning.....at all.  I am having a hard time chalking this down to cultural differences when it feels so blatantly like apathy.  I just don't understand what is going on.  There is a small voice inside me saying that things are not what they appear.  Something is up.


So, this adoption and all involved need your prayers.  Pray for a quick resolution to this mess.  I have been in contact with different entities trying to get a feel for what alternatives we have to get our boys home.  Pray for Ephrem and Anteneh.  Pray that they have peace and the continued confidence that we are fighting for them and that we are coming to get them.


My heart is aching...but I just don't know what else to do.  It just hurts so much to wait.  Please pray.

Below is a link to where you can see Ephrem and Anteneh read a letter from us assuring them that we are coming for them and that they have a brand new baby sister.  It is precious.

http://sharing.theflip.com/session/412f2c3caa36fb591c2e0643f0297cec/video/142564241



Friday, April 20, 2012

Attitude 'n Earrings

The book narrowly missed his head.  Yes, this is what I was fantasizing....vividly, in fact.  Several months after my fifth child was born, he so kindly commented that if I ever wanted a tummy tuck, he would pay for it.  Please note that I, in no way, felt I needed one, nor had I ever hinted at wanting one.  In fact, I was proud that my body was still able and willing to bounce back after so many pregnancies.  I was feeling blessed and beautiful.....until the comment.  It was obvious that this is not what my husband had thought.  He thought he was being kind.  I thought otherwise, hence, my visions of hurling a book at him.  If the closest book hadn't been titled "Managing Your Emotions", I imagine I would be writing this post from a prison cell.   May I enlighten you wonderful husbands out there with a little tidbit?  Never suggest a body altering idea to your wife if she has not brought up the topic first. This will bode well for you.


Fast forward several years to the months after my seventh child's birth.  Our whole family was stuck in a hotel room due to repairs being done to our house because of water damage.  Why we had water damage to our house is post worthy indeed, but it will suffice to say that we had a particular child that thought it necessary to use a rain forest's worth of toilet paper in one sitting.  The toilet rebelled secretly with an hour long water ladened tantrum and now we were all holed up in a hotel room.  We watched a lot of TV.  One of the shows I happened to catch was "John and Kate Plus Eight" where Kate herself was getting a tummy tuck.  I was secretly and horribly intrigued but would instantly appear uninterested when my husband would enter the room.  There were before and after pictures of Kate, and before I even realized it, I was sold on the idea.  Kate looked amazing!  I would agree to stop having children if I could get a tummy that looked like Britney Spears....a tummy where my belly button would re-surface from the dead and come back to life....in the right spot.

Now the tide had changed.

Several days later I approached my husband regarding my idea of getting a tummy tuck.  Although his initial approach on this topic did not end in an injury from a book, I had (in my special way) let him know that he was way out of line for mentioning it.  I am sure if you asked him today, he would have preferred the book being thrown at him.  My mentioning the word "tummy tuck" made him flinch out of self protection.  You could tell, as he furtively looked from side to side, that he didn't know if this topic was truly safe to talk about or if I was playing a dirty trick on him.  Poor guy.  After some discussion, I learned that his offer was still on the table.


Now I had some thinking to do.


I stood in front of the mirror naked.  It is definitely not the body I started out with by a long stretch...no pun intended.  I dreamed.  I studied.  I wept as I ran my fingers over every fold, sag and stretch mark. My body's imperfections tell an amazing story and I was considering erasing the proof that it ever happened.

 Memories flooded back to every pregnancy I'd had, every child my body nourished, every race I had won and all the abuse I had doled out against my body in my younger years out of stupidity and through addictions.  And, yet, my body remained faithful to me throughout all of it.  And here I was, contemplating taking a knife to it. What was I doing?  It hit me hard.  This body of mine.  This gift from God.  What has it ever done to harm me?  Why did I feel the need to slash away at it?  My body bore and sustained every child I could hear outside playing and laughing.  Why was I now forsaking what has been so faithful to me just so I could subdue society's desire of what I should look like?  Why was I buying into this bill of goods?  By choosing to cut away and change my appearance, I was treating my body as the enemy and showing shame.  Oh how wrong I was to believe these lies.


What would it say to my daughters and sons to know that I had gone under the knife for cosmetic reasons?  Would it teach my daughters that their bodies were not fearfully and wonderfully made?  Would it teach my sons to encourage their wives to surgically alter themselves if they didn't look "just right"?  Would it teach either gender not to be content with what God has gifted them?  Would my actions perpetuate the lie I had fallen victim to?


If you can not tell by now, I chose not to have the tummy tuck and ended up bearing three more children.  Sorry Kate.  I have chosen to see my body as a warrior that God used to protect me and allow me to have the family we have.  One of the best gifts the Lord has given me besides salvation is a healthy and resilient body.  It has rolls, stretch marks and is a little misshapen....but I am so proud of it.  I will never win any beauty contest or turn heads.....but it is my hero.  I will be kind to it and not plague myself with desires to desert this soldier of a body only to chop away at it in order to please temporarily.


Nope. 

The most beautiful women I have ever met are all pretty much physically imperfect, some more than others.  But they all have an attitude and a heart that is gorgeous......so much so that it is blinding.  One of these women once told me "Girl, perfection is overrated.  It's all about attitude and earrings".  

I would be lying to say that I do not struggle with body image...especially in the postpartum period after having a baby.   There is something about having leaking sandbags as breasts that is a little unsettling to me.  Sure, I would love to have a knock out body.  I don't.  I have a body that can knock somebody out which is WAY more handy.

If there is any altering that truly needs to be done in me, it is that of the heart.  Lord, I want you to cut away at my heart and my attitude to reflect what you see as true beauty.


1 Samuel 16:7 ESV
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”





















Sunday, April 08, 2012

Getting Closer

** Just a side note....I have tried six different times, in the past four days, to sit my rear down to write this post. At this point, I am just chuckling because little Sarah may just be walking before I actually complete this entry. There is nothing like sitting down at the computer, mopping the floor, breastfeeding or talking on the phone that makes kids "need" their parents more. It is truly uncanny.



Well, today marks the fourth week since little Sarah arrived. I can't believe it. It's all going so quick....it always does. Something odd happens to time when a child moves over from one side of the cervix to the other. One side makes time come to an agonizing crawl due to the wait of welcoming new life while the other side makes time fly at mach speeds. It's strange how a change of geographical location can affect time like this.

I admit to not fully enjoying the first several weeks postpartum. It has nothing to do with my little sweet one and more to do with just adjusting emotionally to the stabilizing hormones, lack of sleep and having a body that does not want to fit into any clothing. It's laughing at me and I am not laughing back. My belly resembles the skin of a Sharpei puppy minus the cuteness. It's my vanity kicking butt and taking names.....it needs to chill a little, I know. My ability to keep a schedule is non-existent. Our week long spring break is now in its fourth week with no end in sight. As with my other postpartum recoveries, I start to get my mojo back at around six weeks......so there is still hope!

Sarah is doing amazingly well. She sleeps well and is gaining weight at a tremendous rate. She started out at 8lbs and is now well over 11lbs. Her life is mostly spent in the loving arms of all of our family that has fallen deeply and hopelessly in love with her. The belief that children are "overlooked" and "neglected" due to being in a large family is a downright lie. Our younger children are touched, hugged and played with more than I could ever do on my own when I had two or three children. The large family economy of how this works is counter-intuitive but inarguable.

I call Sarah my "Gun Lap" baby. All of you who have run the longer distances in track, know that the last lap is marked by the sound of a blank gun shot. This is to let the spectators know to watch carefully as the runners give one last ditch effort to take control of the race. It is also to let the runners know that it's time to 'sell the farm'. This is the only lap where the runners give it their all to run the best possible race in the hopes of winning. It can be a game changer. Folks, with my nearing the age of forty four years old, I pretty much know that this is the gun lap of my child bearing years. And as a result, I linger at each breast feeding a little longer, I smell the aroma of her newness and tattoo it onto my memory, and I resist feeling agitated at her midnight cry as I choose to revel in the blessing of the lungs of a healthy child. I walk around in a state of constant awe that the Lord has allowed me to be the mother of the children He has given me....especially when one child was what we had initially agreed upon.....just one and now almost 12. You can't tell me that the Lord does not do miracles with issues of the heart. This is so much more than I ever asked for.

I am in an all out sprint in this 'gun lap' of the child bearing season. Running a race knowing it's the last lap changes perspective. It's a gift that has changed me.


Here are some pics:



Here is Sarah showing us "the claw". Our friend Anthony would be proud of her.



Here is yet another picture of Sarah being bright eyed and bushy tailed.




On the adoption front, we are nearing the last final weeks without our boys. We are expecting them to be home with us by the end of April....just a couple of weeks away! In some respects, I still feel pregnant as I expect these two boys to take up residence and to claim their spot in our family. When they walk off that plane, it will be the first time I see them face to face. It will be the first time I get to wrap my arms around them. It's like watching them being born into our family except without all the physical pain. What a celebration! I can't believe this is all actually going to happen! I stand in utter amazement as this is more than I ever dreamed of.

Pinch me.


Here are some of recent pictures of the boys. They are so dang handsome...... Here is Ephrem.




Here is Anteneh, the younger one....







Ok, since my butt is plastered in front of this computer, the troops have now predictably decided they need me "right now". If you could see me right now, I have a six year old velcro'd in a hug around my arm, a new born crying for sustenance, a 7 year old blowing a newly found whistle (one that I purposely lost), an edible and adorable 3 year old singing his version of "tingle, tingle leo staaaaa" and two teenage girls needing to have deep conversations. So needed, so blessed and so done with this post!!!!