Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I haven't written in so long because there is too much to write. Too many emotions felt, too many mistakes made, so many joys and triumphs seen. Every day feels packed full of so much and in reality, we do very little on a daily basis.

But I know people are praying. And wanting to hear. Hear how they can pray more. Hear how their prayers have been answered. So this is an update on us and how God has used you MIGHTILY in the past 7 weeks since we arrived home.

I have three toddlers at home. Two of which break down at any moment and scream, throw a fit, make something HUGE out of the smallest things. I comfort and calm screaming over a fly landing on their chair, a small doll shoe lost, milk spilled, hair they don't like, change of plans, a stubbed toe.  And like most toddlers, emotions are extreme, the ENTIRE world is about them and everything stops until the need is met, the boo-boo is forgotten, or they realize they won't get what they want and resign to moving on. My other toddler, well, the other one doesn't scream unless disciplined. And then the anger that is bottled inside is mustered with all his strength to an ear piercing level which is directed AT YOU. He is most definitely screaming directly at you and wants you to know it. But overall, he stays aloof, happy, independent, with an air that says, "I don't need you. I can do it all myself and am fine without you."

I will be honest and tell you I am SO in over my head. In every way possible. Going from one child to three overnight is ferociously hard for me. The amount of time it takes to care for all them, the energy that is required to calm the screams, kiss the boo-boo's, tie the shoes, and most of all, love love love and minister at every moment is exhausting.
Britt is grieving the loss of being the only Kid. Anytime my arms are full of Fiyori or Kobe, she stands and looks at me, and slowly falls apart, whimpering, "Mommy? Mommy?" She loves her siblings, although she does hit them alot, but what she does not love, is when she has to share me. She is a screamer, hitter and drama queen by nature (ehem, sounds all too familiar). And so now, when these two people come into her world who force her to share her toys, books, space, Mommy's arms and attention, she's left reeling. Its been hard to watch, and harder to remember that her world just got rocked, when she is screaming and punching Fiyori for the 8th time in the past two hours. (That is NOT an exaggeration).
Fiyori is the one I've seen the most progress from. From the 2-3 hour rages she would have, where a stubbed toe would send her under for hours, she is now able to better control her emotions, engage with us when we are trying to comfort her and respond more quickly to discipline rather than fight and fight and fight against us. She is an incredible big sister to Britt, extremely patient and so so caring. She is the first to share with Kobe and Britt, the first to ask for a kiss or hug. But she's my whiner. My complainer. The child that requires some of the most attention to draw her out of her bad moods with love and silliness. The playfulness that is required, the energy I have to muster from within to remind her that being miserable is actually miserable, is so exhausting. She is so tender, in so much need of affirmation and BEGS for it with her over-acting dramatic need for attention. Good or bad, she wants the limelight.
Kobe. Kobe is laid back, happy and silly 80% of the time, and very easy-going. But the more I come to know this little person, I see wounds beyond my ability to heal. The little man has put up walls only the God of the Universe will bring down. He has a way of shutting you out without even talking. We don't speak the same language, but I know when he's gone into his fortress of "safety". And its a battle to pursue his heart, to run after him when he acts like he doesn't want you. The true battle is not of just convincing him that he will fall in love with me but convincing myself of that as well. Its easy to give love when the child wants it. Its a whole other ballgame when the child wants/needs your love but sends you the exact opposite message. Reminding him time and time again that he can shut me out, attempt to distance himself from me, or hold his grief alone, but that I am here, I'm going nowhere and that he is unashamedly unconditionally LOVED.  Believing the Truth rather than the emotions. That we are FAMILY. That we belong to one another. That one day we will smell the same and I will know what he is thinking or feeling by the look in his eyes, the way I can with Britt. I KNOW that day will come but I don't feel it yet. It is battle I was completely unprepared for and often feel lost on how to fight. But every time I see his face, his heart turn inward, grasping for the safety of his solitude, I pursue. Just as Christ pursues me every day. Kobe and I... we are so similar. We shut out the ones who love us the most and lie to ourselves that we are fine alone.
 But through it all God has spoken. Sweetly. Firmly. Gently. He has told me in the wee hours before they wake up that He is with me. That He is guiding me in my confusion on how in the world do you mother a 8 year old who acts three one moment and then fifteen another. How to disciple in a Godly, loving, gentler manner without having the blessing on language to explain the why's or the heart beyond why they are being disciplined. How to show your insecure, attention seeking daughter that she is loved, valued, beautiful, even when her tactics to get attention are so. stinkin. annoying. How to convince a boy who lost his first mother, that you do and will love him for forever and its okay to be sad, hurt and angry but that God is healer and those wounds will leave scars but will be heal. How to comfort Britt in her grieving yet teach her the appropriate ways to express that grief. I hear the Holy Spirit speak and He continue to confirm that He is working. Healing. Giving wisdom to Eric and I in the craziness.
He has shown me how to face the depth and ugliness of my sin because there I have the choice to see His beauty and depth of His grace. And honestly, I am realizing, this is the biggest thing He has in mind with this whole adoption thing. Making me more into His image. Drawing me into His likeness so I can enjoy more deeply His character, presence and fullness of life. Yes, He gave orphans a home. Yes, He will use our family to heal and restore their brokenness. But in return, He will use them to sanctify and call me to a greater understanding of grace because the depth of which I need it, I am finally seeing, is SO much deeper.
He has reminded me that the moments of screaming, chaos and frustration are just as much Him as are ones filled with laughter and giggles. He is in the painful moments as He is in the beautiful ones. And often, He is making beauty out of the pain. Don Miller put it perfectly in his book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, "Somehow we realize that great stories are told in conflict, but we are unwilling to embrace the potential greatness of the story we are actually in. We think God is unjust, rather than a master storyteller."I am learning to embrace the hard. To embrace the pain because I know there I will find much of Him.
Thank you for praying. You have made this woman see, smell, feel and taste Jesus in a deeper new way. You may be praying for the healing and transition of my children, but alongside you have lifted this tired momma to the Cross so I can be made anew.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I saw myself in Fiyori so clearly this afternoon.

We went to Target to return some clothes that we had gotten from some in-laws (Thanks Danielle, Chris, Em and Kai!!!) I wanted to get some of the same items, just a size or two up, so I went to the clothes sections while Eric went to the grocery side to get a couple items. He took all the kids in the cart. I got a couple shirts for K and got the nightgown F had gotten, but just in a large instead of a small.

When I met up with them next to the toilet paper, I showed Kobe his shirts and he was all excited and completely stoked.  Fiyori, on the other day, curled her lip, shrugged her shoulder and tossed the night gown in the cart. And in that moment, Eric said exactly what I was thinking.

"You need to learn how to be grateful for a gift, honey."


Yes. Yes I do.

I immediately saw me. All the countless times my loving Heavenly Father has bestowed a beautiful blessing on my life and I curl my lip or toss it aside like its not big deal.

Up until 2 weeks ago, Fiyori had absolutely nothing in terms of possessions. No clothes, shoes, dolls, coloring books, blanket, nothing. She had her name, and a picture album of our family that we sent to her. And that was it. And here she is, 15 days later, snarling at a brand new pink and purple night gown that she DOESN'T EVEN NEED, because she already has 3 pairs of pjs. It made me SO angry watching her, for a whole two seconds, until I heard the Lord whispered into my soul, "You see her? You see that reaction? It is often your hearts reaction when I give you something beautiful. Something you don't NEED. And there is grace and mercy and unending love even when your lip turns up and you snarl at My gifts. For without Me you have nothing. So love her. Love her into gratefulness, for one day she will know and understand how much you love her, how much her family loves her, and ultimately, how much I love her."

I have nothing apart from Him. He chose me. He bestows grace, love, and bountiful gifts over my life. And even though my reaction is often entitlement, ungratefulness and disdain to His goodness over my life, I cling to the fact that I am washed clean in His blood, made new in His resurrection and that He is not done with me, transforming my heart into a soul who sings praises and thanksgiving. My prayer is I can show the same to Fiyori as well.

For her and I are one and the same.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

So this post.....

I watched it happened two days ago. And I thought my body was going to crumble to the floor and that my heart was going to rip in two. I have never seen or experienced anything like it. I have lost close relatives, I have experienced severe depression and anxiety, I watched loved ones suffer immensely but the suffering that I witnessed on Tuesday was the worst experience of my life and the most horrible thing I've ever been apart of.

The typical procedure for Ethiopian adoption, is for a remaining family member to be interviewed by the United States Embassy prior to the release of passports and visas for the adopted child(ren). Its a way of making sure with the birth family that the adoption is in fact what they want, to ensure that the adoption agency treated them with respect and integrity, and to ensure there are no signs of child-trafficking, aka a family in the States paying them to give them their child.

Our birth mother lives far away from Addis, far enough that she has to fly. She flew in during her court date, to release her legal rights for the children and when she was here for that, she was told that she would be able to come back to the Transition Home, (TH) where our children were staying to say goodbye.

But when the time came, the Embassy did NOT request an interview from her. She was ill, and they knew it would be very hard for her to travel. So when she got word that she would not be returning to Addis, she asked our agency to contact us directly to see if we would be willing to pay for her travel to come to say goodbye to the kids.

When I got that call, my heart leapt and then dropped in my stomach. This request, was in fact an answer to an unspoken prayer of mine. I had longed to see Fiyori and Kobe with their mother, to see them as a family, to be able to spend more time with her. My heart broke for her, imagining what she must be feeling, thinking she might not see them one last time and I quickly told our travel coordinator that yes, we would definitely pay for her to come. My stomach immediately tightened with thoughts of what that meeting would look like. I knew it would be hard. I knew it was the one thing I didn't want to witness, but I knew that the Lord had made it possible for her to come and we longed more than anything to honor her and love her in this way by allowing her to say goodbye.

The day she came with be forever etched in my memory. I would give anything to forget it, but there is no possible way to have the images in my brain erased. Images of her sobbing... kissing their cheeks over and over... Fiyori's stone cold face, with no emotion, no reaction. I will always wonder how in the world she had the strength to walk out that door. She is a much much stronger woman than I.

My sister wrote me and reminded me of this: "I don't know how God holds it all, but He does. He's holding their mom and all her pain right now. And He's going to hold you and all your childrens' suffering as well. I am praying He gives over abundant grace and help in this deep time of need to you and to the kids and to their mother."

She is right. He does hold us. And He is Healer and Redeemer. For no other reason that He over-abundant grace you have prayed I have HOPE. Hope in His promises. Hope in His redemption. Hope that the Gospel is big enough, wide enough, strong enough to hold our grief, K and F's grief and their mom's grief. It does. I know He does.

But today.... today, the one way K and F have vocalized their grief and the hardship of transitioning into our family is by complete and utter chaotic playfulness and silliness. I did NOT expect this. After their mother left, they went into a frenzy of crazy and wild play. Eric and I could barely control them. Whether it is a test of authority, an outpouring of grief, a release of emotions, it translates itself to hours of uncontrollable silliness and disobedience. About 50% of the time, they are goofy, fun, immature but obedient children. The other 50% is so exhausting. We spent over two hours with Fiyori today as she whined, sobbed, writhed, dug in her heels over not getting what she wanted. Think about doing this with a child whom you could speak and communicate with. Add a complete language barrier and its practically unbearable.

They are in pain. And they are testing to see how far we will go. How far can they take it for us to quit on them. It is a long long road ahead to show them we are here for good. That we aren't going anywhere. And that we still love them when we say no.

I tell you all of this to communicate a couple things. We still need you greatly. If you want to know how to come alongside us yet again, you can keep reading this CRAZY LONG entry.

#1: Pray. Just because we will have our airport moment in a few days, one that will be filled with joy and tears of happiness, we have a LOT of pain to work through and I know Satan will hit hard. We are doing what he hates most - being the hands and feet of the Gospel. And I know just because the kids will be at home does not mean he will stop. So please, pray for healing and peace for the kids as they arrive in a new country, a new home, a new room, a new language - all which I'm sure will be completely overwhelming and SCARY. Pray for patience and endurance for Eric and I as we have been thrown into a whirlwind of parenting that is entirely new and overwhelming. Pray for our marriage, that we would remember that we are always for eachother and a team, even when the children pit us against one another.

#2. Give us grace. It will take us MONTHS to adjust, so please please be patient with us. We plan to stay close to home for the first couple weeks that we are home and will slowly venture out to our regular outings as we feel the kids are ready. Our priority isTHEM. And that may mean backing out of commitments last minute. It may mean not showing up to church for weeks and weeks. We have no idea what our adjustment will look like or how long it will take. Our kids are scarred and we are definitely imperfect parents. Our parenting may not look like what you would expect or even what we typically have done with Britt, but we are learning and seeking advice and what we need more than anything is your grace and patience.

#3. You responded financially in a way that blew our minds and for that, we are so so SO grateful. We are here in Ethiopia bringing K and F home because of YOU. But Fiyori and Kobe are orphans and they come with nothing. If you have hand-me-downs for clothes, shoes, toys, we will take them.:) We have been given some, (which we are SO thankful for to those who have given!) but overall, have very little in terms of these items. We do NOT need new. If you have items you want to get rid of, just contact me via email and we can chat.:)

#4: Privacy. I know you are curious about Fiyori and Kobe's lives and their stories prior to coming to the US, but even though they are children, they are still privy to their privacy. So we ask that you would give us the grace and freedom to decline any question that you may ask. If you want to learn about adoption, or our process, we would love to answer but ask for grace if we need to decline in answering a particular question. When the time is right and they are ready, Fiyori and Kobe will share with those that they wish to and we will allow them that freedom. And more than anything, we especially ask that you inquire WHEN THEY ARE NOT AROUND. If they are near us, please be sensitive to the fact that many of the questions you may ask will bring up a lot of emotions for them. We do not want them to hear from our lips over and over that they are adopted. Of course, they are, yes, but what we want them to believe and know even more than that, is that they are OUR CHILDREN, loved and seen no differently than Britt. We long to be transparent and open as a family and will strive to tell you anything we can.

Thank you for loving us. You have done it so well.  We love you dearly and know you have prayed and pleaded to the Father for grace and strength on our behalf. We could not have done our adoption journey without you and continue to ask our Heavenly Father to raise up His Bride to walk alongside us.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The hard hasn't even begun.

We will leave Britt behind yet again to go to Ethiopia. We will fly across the ocean to the two strangers who are my children.

We leave in 1 week and I'm scared out of my mind.

I am petrified I won't love them. I grow weak at the knees wondering if they will annoy me and just feel like other peoples children playing with Britt's toys. How do you love someone you don't know?? I'm so scared of what the moment with feel like when they walk into my house. Because it won't be my house anymore. It will be OUR home. I'm so scared because there are moments when that all I feel like I'm doing in adopting two older children, is welcoming complete chaos and pain into my life. Not because they will bring ME pain but because they will have pain, which will in turn, be my pain. I feel utterly unprepared and inadequate.

I wasn't scared when the time for Britt to be born came. I definitely thought a lot of the unknowns, wondering what life would look like and how Eric and I would still be Eric and I.  But there are millions of moms to ask advice. To hear their stories. To know that even if things are hard, and things don't flow, that you're normal. You're not the only one experiencing that emotion, experience, or moment. There are millions of books on what to do with babies. How to feed, swaddle, shush, change diapers, create a schedule, what to buy, how to put together a crib, how they communicate and what their little eyes and body are trying to tell you. 

But there is no book on Fiyori and Kobe.

There is no book to tell me how fall in love with a seven year old and three year old. Who look nothing like me. Who have experienced pain and suffering beyond what I ever will. There is no one to show me what healing a broken heart looks likes in daily practical ways. I don't know how to love two children who were not meant to be mine. They are mine, and God ordained them to become mine, but the reality is, is that it's this fallen world that has led them to me. They were born to their birth mom, and the sin that has corrupted this world makes life imperfect. Praise Jesus for His redemption over our lives. But if their world was perfect, they would be with their mother. The one who loved them enough to give them to me.

I wept during the service this past Sunday because I'm fearful. And because we sang a song with the lyrics that said this:

I will bless the Lord forever,
And I will trust Him at all times.
He has delivered me from all things,
And He has set my feet upon the Rock.

I will not be moved, and I'll say of the Lord:
You are my Shield, my Strength, my Portion, Deliverer,
My Shelter, Strong Tower, my very present help in time of need.

My very present help in time of need. He is the help for NOW. For THIS moment. For the moment of Britt waking up for the 8th time lastnight because we moved into a new house this past weekend and she's scared. For the moment of when I look at our home, the one that is to welcome two new children so soon and its in complete chaos, therefore my heart feels like its in complete chaos. He is my help in the moment of when we bring K and F home and I have no idea what to do with them and I don't have the emotions to back up what I'm SUPPOSE to feel. He will give me the strength and help for the now.

My sweet Savior has pressed one thing into me time and time again when I allow the fear to overtake me and all I can do is bow my head with tears falling down my face and say is, "I can't do it, Lord. I can't do it."

He says one thing.

"Yes. Yes, you are right, My child. You cannot, and you never will.... But I CAN. For it is I, not you, that will heal their hearts. I will be the Strength for the 10th meltdown of the day. I will be the Peace for the storm that rages inside the hearts of your children because of their pain. I will be Redemption for the moments you never had with them as infants. I will be the one to whisper Love over their shattered souls..... I have just chosen you to witness My power."

The bands of fear that wrap their ugliness around my heart wither away when I rest in that. Because the fact is, is that yes, the hard is about to begin. Life is going to change so drastically and all will feel wrecked in moments. But Fiyori and Kobe will bring unsurpassed amounts of joy, love and fullness to my heart. Because it is Jesus who will make them new. It is Jesus who will make them apart of our family. And it is He who will show my doubtful and fearful heart that He can grow love for strangers even when I question.

He IS and will be my very present help in time of need.

Aren't they the most precious faces you've ever seen???:) Gah, I cannot wait to hug their little bodies again.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I regret my time spent with Fiyori and Kobe's mom.

I regret not asking her what she does during the day. What time she prays. Does she pray at all? Who does she pray to? I regret not asking her who she spends her time with. Who her friends are, does she talk with her family? I regret not knowing what her favorite food is and what dish did the kids like best of what she prepared for them. I regret not asking if they had to beg for money or food. I regret not knowing what she felt or thought the days she had nothing to give them to eat. I regret not knowing what happened during the day when she took them to the orphanage. Did the kids know what was happening? How did she leave them? Did she say goodbye or did she slip out unnoticed when they were playing with the other children?

But I am not meant to know all those details. The tension between wanting to know every last detail about this woman's life and her time spent with Fiyori and Kobe, and the strong desire to honor her without prying and respect her privacy was completely overwhelming. She was kind enough to meet me. And regardless of the gratitude she expressed to me in taking her children, I still embodied the avenue in which was taking them.

from her.

from her arms.

from her care.

But never from her heart.

But what I regret more than the things I listed above, is that we even had to meet. That her children became orphans needing a home. That she had to experience the pain of deciding to take them to the orphanage. The pain of meeting me.

Some people have asked me if I am horribly missing Fiyori and Kobe since saying goodbye this past Tuesday. And I am. But the emotion and thoughts that trump those, are the ones that I think of when I think of their mother. Because every time I think of missing them, or how they must feel with me leaving, or "Do they know I'm coming back??" I wonder what she thinks. How she feels. Because she isn't coming back. She couldn't say, "I'm coming back.... I always come back."

I can't shake their mother.  I haven't looked at the pictures we took that day; I can't bear it. I still feel her hand gripping my shoulders as she gave me a three kiss embrace and the defeated, grateful, weary look she had in her eyes as she showed us their baby pictures. I think of her more than I think of Fiyori and Kobe. I don't know why, and I feel a little weird admitting that, but its just how it is for me.

I know I would still have regrets, even if I spent hours upon hours with her and asked hundreds of questions, because having answers to the tiniest curiosities that Fiyori or Kobe may have one day, such as, "Did she ever have ice cream?" will never compare to the lifetime they were suppose to have with her, and just know, without having to ask, what the answers were.

My sweet friend Courtney wrote this, "Our hearts were made for reconciliation. There is a disconnect between where we are and where we belong. - each of us feels it in some form or another. Only one man in all of history has been blameless. The rest of us suffer through our innate brokenness, both hurting and being hurt by others. That’s why we rejoice in vindication. It’s an answer to our pain."

My vindication here on earth is being used to give Fiyori and Kobe a home, love and safe arms to hide in when the world attacks. But I long for the vindication of Heaven. For He has won the victory over this pain. I pray, I plead and I beg of you to pray with me that Fiyori and Kobe one day are united with their mother in that Victory. That even though they were unable to spend their time on earth together, that they will spend eternity praising the One made the ultimate sacrifice.

Monday, June 18, 2012

She was no more than 8 weeks old, but only weighed 3 pounds. She wore a diaper made of bubble wrap and a dish towel. This baby needed to be in a hospital, but instead she was in an orphanage, the details of her short life unknown.

And this orphanage was a clean, respectable, well cared for facility. It was not over-crowded like most. And yet the resources that are in abundance in the US, are so scarce here that it left this baby girl dressed in packaging material and kitchen textiles. Most babies spend hours upon hours alone, in their cribs, or makeshift beds with little to no stimulation. There aren't enough arms to hold them, play and entertain them. Too many needs. Too many children.

The older children sit and watch as families come and go with babies in their arms. They know that they are second choice to most. They know and will tell you that most families don't want older kids. That the babies are what parents want and that they will probably never have a family. And they say, "it's okay." with small sad smiles on their faces because they don't want you to feel bad or obligated. But the reality is that when they age out of the system, the orphanage opens the big metal gate and dumps them on the street. And you will find them there, weeks later, sleeping... sitting... waiting... because they have no where else to go.

To describe what we have seen, what we have experienced, takes a far greater writer than I. It's overwhelming at least. The need feels crippling. We took two full suitcases to the orphanage our kids stayed at and it was as if it was Christmas. The kids even took the packaging of the toys to play with. The cars were fought over and the jump ropes held tightly for the brief moments they could pretend that they owned them. But in reality, all clothes, toys, books, supplies - they are communal. Their name and story is all they can call their own.

I have had to dig into the Lord harder here, for I can't make sense of the pain. Part of me longs to tell you the time we had with their birth mom, but right now it feels too sacred. I cannot look at the pictures we took with her in fear my heart will rip in two. We wept together. Two mothers. One who was sacrificing her most prized possessions, even though it would nearly kill her and one who cannot wait to know them as well as she does. The strength this dear woman has is beyond my comprehension. She loves K and F so fiercely. It was evident in the way she spoke of them. The way she smile when she spoke of K's silliness, the softness in her voice when she told us why she gave Fiyori the name she did.

The pain in this land is great. The people have suffered much. And there are places that are creating opportunities for a better life. A Hope is an orphanage exclusively for HIV+ kids who are given food, clothing, an education and love. Otherwise they would be outcasts, given no chance for work or even social interaction. They are abandoned their families, thrown out of school and left on the streets to fend for themselves.

But for $20 a month you can provide a child a future. $20. That's all it takes to clothe a child, give him the medicine he needs to live, and provide a good education. Sponsorship programs, feeding programs or even the formula program that has been set up at the orphanage our kids got dropped off is incredible and creates empowerment for the people in Africa. The orphanage sponsors or provides formula to mothers who are HIV+ but have babies who have tested negative to the virus (there is only a 25% chance a baby will have HIV if born from a HIV+ mother) Breastfeeding greatly increases the chances of passing on the chronic disease and so these mothers bottle feed with the formula given by the orphanage. This allows the social outcast mothers to keep their babies healthy and receive care regardless of the social stigma that plagues them.

Melissa, a fellow adoptive mother from Ethiopia, wrote about several Ethiopian ministries that provide avenues for Ethiopians to become successful, self sustaining individuals. I linked her blog once before but please, go there and read. Eric and I may stay on the Bring Love In guesthouse when we come back for our embassy trip. Read about their ministry. Pray about how you can be involved. We are all called to care for orphans. There are so many ways to do it beyond adoption. Adoption is just one way to be obedient. Would you please, consider and pry about how you are to love those less fortunate? We have SO much we can give in Time, money, energy, resources. You just have to open your eyes and see. I am praying that the Holy spirit leads you.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Imagine holding the face of the person you love most. You search their face to remember every detail. The curve of their nose and the way their hair curls. How their eyelashes flutter as they blink, the shape of their ears, and the pinkness of their lips. You want to capture their giggle, the facial expressions you have learned to read before they say a word. The softness of their skin and how big or small their hand feels in yours.

Picture it.

This is all I have thought of for the past 3 days.

Because I know a mother that held and memorized the faces of her children for the last time.

My children's mother.

She hugged them, kissed them, looked into their eyes and had to say goodbye.

Thinking about it makes my heart SCREAM. Scream in anger at Satan for the hold he has on this world. Scream in longing at God for the day when there will be no pain and no tears. Scream for the sheer pain and agony she must have felt. Scream for the questions, confusion, hurt and abandonment my children must feel.

I learned yesterday that our children's birth mom attended her court date and relinquished her legal rights to the kids.

I cried reading that email, picturing her sitting with the judge, as he explains what it meant to give up her rights.

That its for forever.

That her kids will live thousands of miles away and she will probably never see them again.

And then I got another email. One that told me she visited K & F for the last time at the transition home where they are staying.

And my heart felt like it broke in two.

You may not have children, but as a mom already, I can barely visual it. Tears stream down my face right now as I think of saying good bye to Britt for forever. As I think of her pain. Her sacrifice.

I cannot think of a greater earthly love than what it takes to say goodbye to your children, knowing you cannot give them what they need. Knowing that if they stayed with you, they would mostly likely starve to death, or end up alone, begging on the street. Knowing that if you do say goodbye, they could be fed, cared for, clothed, given a future.

But wouldn't the question scream from every cell in your body, "BUT CAN THEY LOVE YOU LIKE I DO????"


If you can, for a moment, enter into her agony. For it is there that you will know how to pray for her. And that is what I ask of you. Eric and I have the honor of meeting her. I am completely dreading it. I don't know how I'm going to keep from sobbing but only by the grace of God. Will you pray for us? Will you pray for her? There are so many emotions, so many thoughts, so many feelings that will be in that meeting. And we want more than anything to honor her. To show respect to her. To reassure her in the best way we can, that we will care, provide and forever LOVE her children as our own. That her love and sacrifice will be remembered and honored in our home ALWAYS.

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD has spoken it. - Isaiah 25:8

Monday, June 4, 2012

In one week.

The Lord brought in all $9,000 in ONE WEEK!!! Seriously. I had faith that it would come, but I wasn't expecting THAT!

Almost to the hour from when I posted about our need last Sunday, we received the last donation that fulfilled our need to bring K & F home. I could barely thank the person that gave us the money I was so overwhelmed at the goodness of God. HE IS ABLE!!!!!

You have no idea how much you have blessed our family, loved our E kids and shown us the love of Jesus (even if you don't personally love Jesus;) This week was SO much fun for us to watch as you all stood up with us for orphans. You stood in the gap. We knew from the start that adopting was something we couldn't do by ourselves. We knew we were called to it, we knew we needed to be obedient, but it has been our prayer that the Body would come around us in all areas: prayer, emotional support, helping us process, be there to laugh and dance when we celebrate, cry and speak Truth over us when things are hard. And you have. Oh you have.

It has been a burning desire of mine for the BODY, not just those called to adopt, to stand up for orphans. Even though our family has been called to adopt, not everyone is, and a lot of times that leaves a lot of people wondering how to be obedient to the command of Jesus to care for orphans.

Well, if you gave money, prayed, cared for us, sent us a card of encouragement, gave us supplies to take over, you just did. You have been obedient to that call.

We leave in 4 days. And because of you, we get to take 4 suitcases FULL of medicine, diapers, wipes, toys, bandaids, first aid items, clothes, shoes, and so much more. We get to enjoy time with K and F, not wondering if we have enough money to bring them home in July. We get to watch faces of children who are waiting for families, to squeal with delight as they get bubbles, jump ropes, beach balls and new shoes.

THANK YOU. I have cried many grateful tears this week in watching God use you to answer our prayers. We treasure you and cannot WAIT for K & F to know how you loved them by helping to bring them home.

Two more things:

1. If you have wanted to give but didn't get a chance, because God did it in ONE WEEK,:) you still can. The $9000 that we raised was just to get them home. BUT - we have nothing in terms of preparation for when they get home. We need clothes, shoes, toys, bikes, a carseat, mattresses, sheets, comforters, and all the other things that come with a 3 and 7 year old. And since we've wiped out our savings, (again, no better way spent) we are still in need, but just for things on the other side of when they get home. And you would still get a puzzle piece.:)

2. If you are more personally acquainted with our journey, you know that Eric and I prayed about adopting a 14 year old girl back in January. The Lord told us no, but since then, she has gotten a family.:) It was SUCH a blessed day when I found that out. And that family went to Ethiopia last month for their court date. The mom, Melissa, just wrote a WONDERFUL blog post about caring for orphans. She has explained my heart SO perfectly and I am SO excited to find out more about these ministries while we are in Ethiopia. Please read what she wrote and pray about what you are suppose to do to love and care for orphans.

We love you all. Thank you for loving us SO well and for loving Jesus in such a tangible way.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

What we need

Well, we didn't think we would get here, but we did. And we are SO excited.:)

You see, we have asked for prayer, support, love, encouragement from you all and you have most definitely given it. But we have not asked for your money, although some of you have given generously any way. And this is why we haven't asked.

We have seen the Lord provide for other peoples adoptions who did not have the means to save. We have been apart of helping to support them by giving. And it has SO blessed us. But when we began our adoption process in September last year, we looked at the timeline we were given, and saw that we had the ability to save from our own income to fund the entire thing. We thought we would have about 2 years before we would be bringing a child home, and even though we were open to adopting two, we thought we would only receive one. And we wanted to allow those who wanted to give toward adopting families, to give to those who could NOT save, who did not have the means or income to put money aside the way that we could. We wanted to free those who had the heart to give, to give to those who needed it most.

But as you can see, all that we thought about timing and the number of children has changed. We will most likely be bringing our TWO children home before a year is even complete from when we began our paperwork last September. The cost for bringing two children home is approximately $40,000. We have about $8,000-$9,000 left that we need. At this moment, we are unable to bring our children home due to lack of funds.

We are not worried. We are not the least bit anxious about money. We know that "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases." Proverbs 21:1 and money is no different. We know He will provide. But we now see that it will not just be through the income that He has blessed us with. We need His Body to rise up and love orphans, our orphans, and give.

We are seen this idea done several times with other families and I fell in LOVE with it the first time I saw it. We have bought a 1000 piece puzzle, called "Waiting for the Bus" It is a gorgeous puzzle that is a beautiful picture of African culture and I cannot wait to hang it in our living room.

Each piece of the puzzle will be "sponsored" through a donation of $10.  We are inviting you to "sponsor" a piece, or multiple pieces, to bring home our children.  With each piece that you sponsor, we will write your name on the back and put it into place. Our prayer is that every piece will have the name of someone who has given generously and that we can show K & F how many people prayed, loved and gave sacrificially to bring them home. We have recently been given $1,000 from our church which we will put towards towards the puzzle.

We have added a Donate button at the top of the blog for your convenience. It works through Paypal and if you use a credit card, rather than directing money from a bank account, it does charge you a 3% processing fee. Either way is fine, we just wanted you to be aware of the fee. But please feel free to write a check if that makes you feel more comfortable.

Thank you to those who encouraged us to do this. Who spoke truth into our lives that the Lord would provide and that He cares for His children. We are SO excited to see how He works through you all.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Court date... and other stuff.

I just kept praying, “I want to hear You. See You. Touch You. Smell You. Feel You. I want to be surrounded by You and Your presence where its completely undeniable. I want to delight in You and You alone and know that You deeply delight in me.”

This has been my plea to the Lord the past 4 months. I began to pray it when I started to realize that I still did so many things because its the “right thing to do”, not because I am caught up in love with Him. I’ve got the churchy, christiany life down pat. I know how to bust out a quiet time, speak words of “wisdom” to a friend in need, pray a prayer for those hurting or sick, go to church, serve in ministry and give of our time and money. But if I don’t have love…. its worthless.

I love Jesus. I do. Very very deeply. ButI just wanted to know and feel Him afresh. I want more. I want to go deeper. And for some reason, that was the prayer that kept coming out. I felt silly praying it sometimes. Feel Him and see Him, sure. But smell? Taste? Touch? How do you do those things with the One who is alive yet not bodily with you? I had no idea why it was what kept coming out, but I knew that He knew what I meant. And what I desperately wanted. Him. I desperately want Him.

Fast forward to today.

Today has been hard. You see, we got news yesterday afternoon that we are going to Ethiopia to meet our future 7-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. 11 days from now. You know the story of our referral. If not, read it here. You know how freakin’ fast that came. Well, it also came during a time of multiple baby showers, wedding showers, last Biblestudies with girls I had walked with for almost 4 years, graduation parties and goodbyes with college students who we loved and will miss deeply. It came during Eric taking a masters class, organizing and working a two-day MASSIVE garage sale to raise funds for the adoption, and then 9 day trip to LA to visit my sister.

I got home from that trip this past Wednesday night at midnight. Britt and I basically slept all day on Thursday. And then boom. Friday we got the call for our court date.


Today I broke. I saw the packing list that we needed to start working on. I was reminded that I hadn’t gotten any of my vaccinations. Our adoption agency is closed until Tuesday and I haven’t even spoken to our travel coordinator since getting our court date because she is on vacation. We have to book tickets to Ethiopia. We haven’t done a thing to K & F’s bedroom. We need bunk beds, mattresses, sheets, comforters, clothes, shoes. Their room needs to be painted. I have to figure out what the heck am I going to say or ask K and F’s birth mom when I meet her. We need $8,000. I need to pack Britt up for the two weeks she will spend with my parents. I’ve never been apart from her for more than 24 hours. I am so emotionally maxed and I don’t even know where to start processing.

We had gotten some things done this morning and afternoon, but after Britt woke up from her nap we went to the outlets to get Eric some new shorts. Then the car completely died on the side of the road on the way home. I thought it was pretty funny in a not-so-funny way since I was picturing writing an email to people saying, “Hi, we need just wrote a check for $20,000 in the past month. We are a little low on cash and need $8,000 more to get our kids home. Oh, and our car needs massive work done, do you mind donating?” We prayed over the car and after about 15 minutes of trying, it came on and we got home. Serious miracle. But I think it just sent me over the edge. That and Britt’s screaming because she didn’t want to take a bath.

I thought I was going to snap. I felt like throwing something. Breaking something. Yelling, screaming. Anything to release the stress and the pressure that had built up over the past month. So I shoved earphones in, put on the Tenth Avenue North station on Pandora, and while Eric bathed a screeching Britt, I went into the garage to sweep. Yeah, a real getaway. I have no idea why I went out there.

And what came out was my plea. “I want to hear You. Taste You. See You….” And I couldn’t get the whole way through it when I just stopped and sobbed. Because He told me before I could even finish, “You are Anna. This is how you will hear Me. This is how I want you to see Me. And you will smell me when you smell your children. You will feel Me when you touch them. You will taste Me when you kiss their cheeks. I am answering your plea. I have listened, and I am answering.”

And right then chorus of “Your Name” came into my headphones, and the words rang in my ears.

Your Name is a strong and mighty tower
Your Name is a shelter like no other
Your Name, let the nation sing it louder
‘Cause nothing has the power to save but Your Name

And in the dark, very humid garage, I met with God Almighty and recognized that it was only in Him where I would find refuge and strength for this time. That it would only be Him that will save my children from the brokenness they have been through. That He would be their shelter, their Savior, their Restorer. That He would sustain me even though we aren’t prepared, don’t have the money, don’t have time, etc. He is Enough and He is able.

So, we leave in 11 days. We fly to Virginia to drop Britt off and then fly to Ethiopia where we will meet our daughter and son. We may not feel ready, but when we get there, we shall see Him, feel Him, smell Him, hear Him and touch Him while we are there. And I couldn’t be more ready for that. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


**Disclaimer: this post was written yesterday through out the day when I had a moments to sit down and type, and LATE at night lastnight. I'm sure it doesn't flow and I didn't proof read it. SO - bare with me and ignore the typos.:)

Oh, my goodness. You have no idea how my heart and head are reeling with excitement, joy, anticipation, and just a million other thoughts and emotions. To write the title REFERRAL, a mere 5 DAYS after our paperwork was shipped to Ethiopia is completely UNREAL to Eric and I!!! Our paperwork, (also known as dossier) JUST arrived in Ethiopia today. ITS CRAZY!!!

So lets tell the story:):):)

Yesterday afternoon, at 2:30ish, I was on the phone with a dear friend when I saw a call come in from Virginia. I told Lindsay I should probably take it, and switched over to the incoming call. I have NO idea why, but the instant I saw the number, even though I wasn't POSITIVE it was from America World, our agency, I just had this hunch. I knew enough from other stories from other families that AW doesn't call you unless its something BIG. Big like referral big. My heart started pounding before I even said hi.

And it was LuLu, our Family Coordinator. She asked how I was doing and then ask me to remind her of our age range and child request. I reminded her of it and she said, (heart is pounding even harder at this point) "Welllll, we have a sibling set that has become available and the oldest is a little older than your age range, but because siblings are so few this days, we wanted to check to see if you would be interesting in viewing their file." OH MY GOODNESS!!!! I was COMPLETELY shocked and immediately burst into tears!!!! I think I blubbered something, "Are you serious???? We just sent our paperwork LAST week?? Are you really serious?!???"

LuLu went on to tell me that the referral included a 7 1/2 year old girl and a 3 1/2 year old boy. Our request was up to age 6, but we are approved by our social worker up to age 7. Here's the thing though - I couldn't tell LuLu that YES WE WANT TO VIEW THEIR FILE because Eric was flying that day. Literally, at the moment of our referral phone call, Eric was up in the air flying around the US with absolutely NO WAY to get ahold of him. And I knew he was going to land after AW had closed for the day. UGH!!!!

LuLu and I talked for another 10-15 minutes and I got of the phone and jumped our my bedroom, FREAKIN out but the whole time, SO bummed I couldn't tell or call anyone until Eric knew and that was going to be another 4 hours!!! AHHHHH!!!!

Britt woke up from her nap about 15 minutes later and we immediately left to run errands so I could just do SOMETHING instead of sitting around at the house waiting for Eric to land. I kept going over and over in my head how I was going to tell Eric, but would always come up with something different. I wondered if he would agree right away to view the file or if he would need time to process and seek the Lord since the referral was older than what we had requested. I just kept telling the Lord that my hope was in Him and asked for unity between Eric and I, regardless of what he felt or thought.

FINALLY Eric called at 5:30 to tell me he was on his way home and I just said, "Drive fast." Of course he questioned why but I wouldn't tell him.:) He told me later he had an idea it was our referral call so he had a little time to prepare himself on the 15 drive home.:)

Britt and I were waiting in the driveway when he pulled in and I just squealed and blurted out "We got our REFERRAL CALL!!!!" the instant he got out of the car. I think I sent him into shock, which I was well aware I would probably do. And I had had 4 hours to process it and Eric needs time. Lots of time to process.

So we had about 20 minutes to talk through what LuLu had told me before we had to bolt out the door to go to Community Group, our group of friends who we have been meeting with every week for the past 2 years. The whole car ride down we just talked and processed, laughed and looked at each other in disbelief. The whole thing is crazy! We thought for sure we would wait MONTHS before getting our referral. We thought for sure we would only get one child even though we wanted two, just because young sibling sets are rarely available. We thought for sure we were so far off from all of this but that wasn't the Lords plan and boy, was I okay with it.:)

I couldn't sleep lastnight I was too excited. I think I might have gotten 6 hours haha. And as I write, all I've had to eat are two eggs and two cups of coffee. And its 3:30pm. At some point I know I'll crash, but I'm JUST SO EXCITED!!!!!:):):):) I woke up at 6:30 this morning with no chance of going back to sleep so I just grabbed my Bible and spent time talking to Jesus about what the heck was going on and how I trust Him, and even in my excitement that I wanted to make sure HE was the center, not Eric or I, or even our new kids. Eric was going to go into work for a meeting but would be back around 8:30 when AW would be open and we would most likely get to talk to LuLu and see the files of our kids.

And about 9:30ish, we got our official referral call from LuLu, giving us the details of their ages, when they came to the orphanage, medical history, and their personal interviews. She emailed us their pictures.... um, THEY ARE SO ADORABLE I AM HEAD OVER HEELS. they are so so precious and in the same breath over and over today I have said that I cannot wait to be their mommy but please Lord begin to prepare me to enter into the pain and brokenness they have experienced and will experience in coming into our home. As excited as I am to have seen their faces today, I am made so aware that this is NOT has it was meant to be. But praise Jesus for His redeeming love and grace in my life and in the lives our our two new children.

SO.  We will call them "Miss F" and "Mr. K" only because I'm unsure as to what we are allowed to share with you via the internet.:) Miss F is 7 1/2 years old and has the biggest smile on earth. She is precious and completely dotes on her brother in the pictures that we were sent. Mr. K is so stinkin' yummy I want to eat him!!! He has the LONGEST eyelashes and we are told LOVES to dance!:) I think Britt will be an immediate fan of that!

We are shocked, excited, overwhelmed and just thrilled to know that the Lord has been preparing us and them to become a family. There are a ton more details but I haven't even process it all. We are so thankful for YOU though as we know you have prayed us through this process and will continue to do so. We still need you desperately!!!!!:) Thank you for loving us so well and so completely - it is so humbling how well you have supported us through this journey. We love and cherish you all.

And please leave comments!!! We want our kids to see others love and excitement for them!!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Its been awhile. And I apologize. But honestly, I'm really not that sorry. You see, winter just does me in every. single. stinkin. time. I lose motivation for the simplest things, like sweeping my kitchen, which I do daily. It becomes SO boring and SO mundane rather than just whats needed. Because otherwise we start playing soccer with all the food Britt drops over the side of her highchair. She's getting better at that. Kinda.

We are probably one week away from completing our dossier paperwork. We are waiting on one stupid piece of paper from the United States Citizen and Immigration Services to grant us permission to adopt an immigrant. Its stupid. But necessary.

After that, we notarize and copy that puppy and boom. ship that paperwork to VA where it will be looked over by our family coordinator, LuLu, (she's awesome) and then they will send it to Ethiopia. In which we will call our current status DTE: Dossier to Ethiopia.

And then we wait.

For who knows how long. But at this point, I just want all this stupid paperwork that has taken us 7 months to compile out of my hands and into the hands of the people who have the power to give an orphan a forever family.

This process has by no means been easy. At all. Nothing has really gone wrong but its been the most stretching process of our marriage, of my heart and tongue, (definitely my tongue. learning how and when NOT to use it. which happens to be a lot) and of my heart.

But I guess it has done exactly what it was meant to do. It has drawn me closer to the foot of the Cross. It has created an even deeper desire and longing to be made into His image. It has forced me to realize that just because God talks to me one way, it is not THE way and the way that He has made me to process things is not the ONLY way to process them. It has been a test of faith. A test to trust the He does see me, that He is listening to me, and that regardless of whether or not I see visible answers or things are getting harder, not easier, that He answering my plea for sanctification, for a renewed heart that wants nothing other than to bring Him glory and to bring children who need a home into our family. It has not been easy. Yesterday sucked. Yesterday was a battle every minute to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. Yesterday I felt so under attack by the enemy who wants to destroy, discourage and wreak havoc on my life.

But He is my Rock. He is my Fortress. And it is in Him that I will place my trust. So if you think of me pray. Pray that I will be faithful to cling to Him. That I will speak Truth over and over agains the lies that Satan so quickly places in my heart and head. Pray that Eric and I are unified, even when we disagree. Pray that the Lord will bind the enemy and his workers and place a hedge of protection around our home, our hearts and our minds. And pray that He is glorified in all things.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Things have been, um, lets say, CRAZY, since Eric got home. Its been a wonderful crazy. Try making a schedule with just you and your kid for 5 months, doing the same things over and over, trying to get through the day without missing him to badly, and then BAM, your husband comes home and all you do for 2 months is play. It was like a splash of the most refreshing water EVER. But last week, we both looked at each other and said we were ready for some sort of normalcy again. Him to work so he didn't feel like a bum, me to clean, do playdates, make bows for Britt, or whatever that gives us some sort of a schedule every day so we can have some structure.

Its interesting that God creates people with a different need for structure. I used to need a lot more. For me, that structure was a controlling device for me. I used the excuse of needing it, because I liked the way it allowed me to control my circumstances (or so I thought). The Lords been working on that in me. And oh, its oh so fun. Being a military wife has taught me a lot about being flexible, being okay with surprise trips or deployments. But this whole adoption this has sent me back to first base in a lot of ways.

As of right now, we are still in the middle of paperchasing. We probably won't be done until March, which after then, we wait. Wait to get a child. The unknowns of this whole process can sometimes just make my insides shrink up and want to die because there is SO MUCH that I can't control, things that I have absolutely no idea how it will all go down. How long will we have to wait till we get a referral for a child? Will it be 1 or 2? Will they have a special need? How old will they be? Boy or girl? When will we get a court date after that? Will we pass court? Should we take Britt with us? How long before we are submitted to Embassy? When can we bring them home? How are we going to come up with all the money? Will they hate me? What will their story be? Will they be orphans from birth, knowing well the feeling of abandonment and aloneness? Or will they have been orphans for a short time, because their dad died and their mom couldn't provide for them so she dropped them off at the orphanage? Will they hate coming to our home, becoming part of our family because their mom told them she would come back for them, even though she signed over her rights as their mother? Will Britt have ANY clue whats going on? Will they hate her? Love her? Will she hate them? Love them? How long will it take for them to be convinced that I am their mommy, and that I will NEVER, EVER leave them or stop loving them? OH MY GOODNESS ITS NEVER ENDING.

I'm reading Crazy Love. Yeah, I know. Way behind on that one. But I'm not a bandwagon reader and therefore I read Blue Like Jazz way after all the buzz died down as well. And of course, both books have rocked my world. Crazy Love especially. Its forced me to meditate on the question if I'm all talk, or if I'm willing to put my actions, my heart, and ultimately my life, where my mouth is. I SAY that I love Him. I SAY that I know He loves me. I SAY I trust Him. I SAY I am His disciple. But what He asks of me to actually BE a disciple, am I really willing to do? To lay my life down, pick up my cross and follow Him? No matter where? No matter what? No matter if my kids from Ethiopia kick, scream, bite and scratch me for the first 6 months they come home? No matter if they hurt Britt, because they've been hurt? No matter if they don't want me to touch them, love them, hug them, kiss them or tuck them in bed? No matter what??? Because God, GOD ALMIGHTLY, gave up His Son for me. The thought of Britt dying makes me choke on tears, but I can't even go to the place that would allow me to think of killing her myself. Its too horrible. But thats what He did for me. For you. He is the one responsible for His Son's death. And I know, that no matter what He calls me to, He will be there. His love for me is proven at the Cross. And therefore, I long to offer my life back, all of it, no matter what, to love Him always. He has called us to adopt. To adopt older children. Ones with special needs if thats what He gives us. And it scares the heck out of me. But I know He is able to love and provide and heal. So we will be obedient and trust Him. And take one step closer to putting into action what we often just talk about.

I have no idea what this year holds for us as we continue on this path. And yes, my controlling prideful self longs to know everything NOW and not have to wait, but I trust Him. For He is good and holy and just.

So cheers to 2012. For the unknowns and the messiness of life. And for being blessed beyond what I could ever ask or imagine.

PS - No reason for the pic. Just thought it was cute. And it makes me happy.:)