Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Today's Her 1st Birthday as a Florida

It's almost 8 am tomorrow morning in Ethiopia right now.  In her time zone her birthday is over and a new day is beginning.  She's a year older and I wonder who noticed.  The sweet orphanage workers put on a birthday bash for the kids every year...birthdays are celebrated, all at once in a group.  But was there anyone who singled her out...on the day she was born....to celebrate that it happened?   She's a Florida now....at least almost.....and I hope the letters we sent got there in time for her to know that 8 people on the other side of the world are oh-so-glad that she was born 15 years ago today. 

I wonder how many of her birthdays have gone by like this....how many years since her first Momma was alive to recount the details of the day she was born and dream with her about the next?  How many years since her first Daddy treated her like she was the birthday gift?

I know her Heavenly Father has continued to celebrate and sing over her day after day and year after year.  She's always been the apple of His eye.  He's brought us together and is already redeeming the lost moments.

Your new family is ready, sweet girl, to fill up the gaps and celebrate you.  On this day you were born, we're all a bit daydreamy....wondering about all the things of you that we don't know yet and dreaming about what's yet to come.  Our faces haven't met yet...but it sure feels like our hearts have.  Happy Birthday, darling daughter!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

It's Been a Busy Week!

After the months of N.O.T.H.I.N.G happening, we now can't keep up with ourselves!!  I can't remember who I've told what and I tend to put off making an official blog update when I'm not sure I've shared all the important details in person with my Mommas.  Since my brain's on overload, things keep happening so quickly, lots of people care and pray......and, because I have such understanding Mommas....I'm just going to go ahead and put it all out here.  Here are the highlights!!

  • My heart's been calm.  The beasts are, at least for now, wrangled.  There's been a sweet peace laced with adventure adrenaline rushes in their place.  I like the new tenants!
  • Our church family is celebrating...and that's so dear to us.  Our Pastor asked us to read our referral announcement blog post in the Sunday morning service.  This was an important moment, and I'll admit I had a good bit of dry mouth and crazy, last minute "what are we doing????!!!' thoughts all during worship.  In so many ways, we had made the decision to bring all these people along with us on a ride that could prove to be really bumpy, and they hadn't had a vote!  And they're people I love, people we've chosen to give our lives to for the past 17 years, people who's opinions are valuable to me.  Our church family acted just like family that morning.  We cried our way through the post, with commentary along the way....had our nurse friend give a mini-HIV lesson.....and made our announcement.  These dear people clapped.....they clapped, they hugged, they put hands on us and prayed, they quietly squeezed my hand, they looked me hard in the eyes and told me they were with us.  They did just what we imagined they would do when we were contemplating and deciding.    A big line item on the "pro" side of the "pros & cons" list was....our village, our church family.  If you don't have a church family you're in deep with....you're really missing out, my friends.  They did it for us that Sunday, they did "church" and they did "family."  I love them so....
  • We've been assigned the first of a couple important dates that will end with us on a plane home with our girls.  The Ethiopian court first issues a "birth family court date" and then follows up with an "adoptive family court date."  Our "birth family court date" was scheduled for January 28th, Riley's 18th birthday incidentally, and we rejoiced!  We were also told that the agency requested a quicker court date since we are fighting the clock for our oldest daughter.  A few days later we received word that the judge had been favorable toward the request for a new date and offered February 1.....which was confusing.  Further discussions revealed that the original court date had been miscommunicated and had actually been February 25th!  Our agency told us that it's not uncommon for extended family to make a trip, even from far out in the country, to appear at these court hearings.  We're praying for any of our girls' family members that might be making that trip.  As soon as that court hearing is completed, we'll be extended an invitation by the Ethiopian government to appear for our own court date.  This will be an exciting day and will set into motion a flurry of activity!  We've been warned by our agency that we could have less than a week's notice before we have to be in Addis Ababa, coherent enough to appear before a judge and seem like worthy parents.  We're expecting that trip to happen the second week of February and are getting ready to leave 6 kids with grandparents and travel quick!  I'm trying really hard to be prepared, but there's a very good chance this isn't gonna be pretty!
  • If you travel out of the country, our government suggests that you check the CDC's helpful website for health information about your destination and peruse their list of recommended immunizations that can be found at your friendly health department.  Well, we've traveled before....we're not new at this....missions trips and family have given us the gifts of Bangkok, Sao Paulo, Munich....out of the country doesn't just mean Canada to us, you know.  Let me just tell you, after wandering around the CDC I've realized we're going to be going off the grid in an exciting way like we never have before.  Africa's a whole different ball game, folks!  We scheduled our travel immunization appointment, listed to the serious speech and gladly accepted every needle they offered!  Now if we can just remember to take the typhoid pills every other day, 2 hours after eating or 1 hour before eating, for 4 days......and start those malaria pills 2 days before we travel and keep taking them 7 days after we travel.....we'll be just fine!
  • Our social worker called last Thursday morning.  Scott just happened to have stopped home for something and could tell something was up when I answered the phone in the other room and he could hear Kim's excited voice say, "Are you sitting down??!!"  It was very much a good news voice!  Bethany's Caring Connections board had met.....and decided to award us an  $8,000 special needs adoption grant!!!!  Could I possibly use enough exclamation points for that??!  Those floodgates are just staying wide open!  It feels crazy to say that we're on the final leg of a $40,000 adoption, we're starting to get a glimpse of the finish line.  God's resources are endless and all the cliche' sounding phrases are true....If it's God's will He pays the bill.  Every dime of this, whether it's been funneled through gifts, savings, grants or extra jobs, has come straight from Him.
  • We've had some really great connections with other Ethiopian adoptive families this week too.  A Momma found me on a Bethany discussion board and realized we were adopting the girl her family had been praying for....she even blogged a plea for people to pray for our girl, a month before we started wondering if we were her's.  Maybe their prayers is what planted the question in our hearts.  She told me of their excitement when they saw our daughter's picture disappear off the waiting child list.....which reminded me of a celebration our family had when a certain boy's picture disappeared off that same list.  Our hearts had been heavy for this little one all summer and we'd been praying for him. Well.  Guess who's he is, who snatched him off that stinkin' waiting list.....my new friend who had been praying for my girls!!!  Her family's packing up and getting ready to travel next week and bring him home!!!  So cool to be able to see the rest of his story, isn't God such a sweet Father to give us this??  Another connection came from an adoptive family facebook group this new friend point me to. After some initial welcomes, I received a message from someone who is in Ethiopia this week and was going to be at my daughters' orphanage today.  She asked if I would like her to find them and hug them for me.....OF COURSE I DO!!!  I messaged her their info this morning, was thinking about it mid-morning when my phone alerted me to a new message.  It was a picture of our younger daughter with this lady and the caption, "Is she yours?"  I can't tell you all the things my heart did at that moment....or all the even better things my heart did when I typed back, "YES, SHE'S MINE!!!"  (MY FEELING ARE GOING TO BE ON ALL CAPS FOR A WHILE, I'M AFRAID....MY APOLOGIES....)  She's there picking up a son and told me she's got stories to share when there's time.  I'll admit I've checked messages about 89 times today....  What a gift!  They just keep coming...sweet, tender confirmations from God.
Well, that's it....that's been the week....oh, except for the mega construction in the basement, painting of a bathroom, sorting and organizing awesome hand-me-downs from my college student friends, and just regular family stuff!!

Oh, and we had a fabulous photographer friend take these super, sweet little gems for us to use in the photobooks we sent to the girls last week...that happened too!

Friday, January 4, 2013


There are faces, there are names....that are oh so different from the ones my heart thought it was saying "yes" to 2 years ago.  Back then the "yes" was hard, it made my heart wrangle through all the unknowns....but now I'm realizing that it was kinda squishy too, had soft edges...because of some of those unknowns.

The wranglings in my heart have begun again now that there are hard edges....a few certainties....real people.  Suddenly, adoption isn't just an idea, something we're going to do....it's something we're doing, and right quick!  The rubber is meeting the road, the pie has left the sky, the buck is stopping here, the road is rising to meet us.....  I'm breathless again, asking myself all the same questions I did 2 years ago.  I'm facing the same fears I thought had been lain to rest.  It feels like a twilight zone version of the spiritual wranglings of the beginning.

My sister once gave me a different vantage point on re-wrangling these beasts.  Instead of feeling the frustration of a re-do, she urged me to be thankful that God had given the opportunity to say "yes" to Him again....to re-affirm my offering.  Oh yes, I've been having lots of opportunities....and I'm working through the steps of saying, "I really meant that 'yes.'"

We were part of conference call today with the adoption agency.  Along with another family, we talked with the specialist about the particulars of travel....the "what to expects" of court and embassy dates.  The other family asked questions of babies, cribs and formula.  Their questions echoed all day in my heart.  A baby, a baby.... I understand a baby, the parameters of what comes with a baby seem more narrow.  Today my wranglings were efforts to tie up the beast of......"It would be so much easier to be going to get a BABY!!!!"

Easier....if it wasn't  side-stepping God's brilliant, bright calling.  Easier except that it would be taking back my cry of 2 years ago asking God to keep me on the exhilarating ride of living "over my head" where faith is oxygen.  Easier if my heart didn't already love two teenage girls who's faces I've seen and who's names I've heart and....who. need. me.

"What if....what if this changes everything??  What if our lives are never the same?"  I'm worried that I might never feel comfortable again.  I wonder if I'm choosing pain as a constant companion.

My full-of-faith husband says, "What if we are the same after this....wouldn't that be worse?"

The mission news on the radio tells of Christians in Iran who know, with certainty, that choosing Christ means losing everything, changing everything....pain.  That perspective makes my potential life change look pathetic, another new vantage point that is strangely comforting.  God's mercy meets their needs....it will meet mine.

And that's always what it comes down to.  God.  He is what calms my fears and makes the un-knowing ok.  His mercies are always bigger than the worst I can imagine.  And then I breathe deeply again, my heart settles, and I'm able to say "yes" to the same offering.

That's what happened today....what I accomplished today.....wrangling....

"The sea of God's mercies should swallow up 
all our particular afflictions.
Think of it this way.  
If you pour a pailful of water on the floor, it makes a great show, but if you throw it into the sea, there is no sign of it.  
Afflictions considered in themselves are great.  
But let them be considered with the sea of God's mercies and then they are not so much.  
They are nothing in comparison."

by Jeremiah Burroughs