As we ponder and pray about adopting a girl from Ethiopia, I have been increasingly interested in how in the world to do African girls' hair. Can I do it? Will I have enough time? What will it look like? Although this won't be our deciding factor on whether to adopt again or not, it can be a little intimidating to think about. I stumbled across this website that eased my "hair fears". She even has video demos on how to do each type of braid or twist. So cool! For all of you who are in the same boat regarding hair phobia, check this site out! It's called Shuruba--African Hair Products & Accessories.
As most of you know, it is Orphan Sunday on Nov. 8th. Our church celebrated it early (this past Sunday) due to Veterans Day coming up. (Since we live in a town with an Air Force Base, we make it a priority to honor the troops whenever we can. So we will be honoring troops & veterans this coming Sunday). After drawing our pastors' attention to Orphan Sunday, they decided to highlight our family and another adoptive family on the same day at both church campuses for all 3 services each. We were given the opportunity to share how we came to the decision to adopt, how it has impacted our family specifically, and if an "average joe" can do it. I felt honored and humbled to be part of this important ministry. I shy away from "the spotlight" and attention drawn to me or my family, but this wasn't about ME. This was about the hurting & lonely children all around the world that need a family to love them, tuck them in at night, teach them about the love of Jesus, and care for their needs. So I didn't mind getting up in front of hundreds of people to highlight the need. After the brief "interview", the pastors played a video highlighting the plight of orphans in Uganda and the ministry our church body supports called New Hope Uganda (www.newhopeuganda.org). Members from our church will be going on a short-term mission to Uganda in May. I'm not sure if God will allow us to go this year or not, but regardless, it is so neat to see God moving in other people's hearts for those in need on the other side of the world. Praise God!
We have another exciting opportunity this Sunday to meet with several families who are interested in adoption and answer any questions and calm any fears they may have. Please pray for us this Sunday (as well as for those advocating for orphans in churches all across America) that God can use us for His Glory and His purposes in drawing attention to those who have long been forgotten, neglected or unable to be cared for by their parents living in poverty, disease, and worn-torn situations--the orphans of this world.
Do you ever wonder what happens to the children who "age-out" and are no longer adoptable? The outlook is grim, but there IS HOPE! We can do something. Check out this video sponsored by Gladney Center for Adoption. Get involved! These children need us.
Holiday shopping time is here! What better way to spend money than to buy gifts that give two-fold. Give a wonderful, handmade gift to a friend, family member or co-worker, and know that the proceeds are going to either an orphange &/or the poor beggars in Ethiopia (check out this blog for CUTE stuff like the threads Gabriel is sporting), or towards women in Uganda working to sustain a livelihood and improve their community (check out www.suubiafrica.org).
BTW: Gabriel could be a model, huh?! (This will be the closest he gets to modeling as long as I call the shots, however).
Loise Hogarth, the director of "Angels in the Dust" requested I post the "director's trailer" version of her wonderful, heartbreaking, must-see movie. She also would like others to check out these bracelets women from South Africa make. Please go to http://www.orphanbracelet.org/ to help out orphans and mothers. Also, rent the movie. It is so well done.
I may never know the trauma my little boy experienced at an early age while in the countryside of Ethiopia. Who knows what creatures stalked him &/or his family day or night. (I've heard that hyenas are prevalent in the villages). Our first inclination that things were not right was seeing his extreme fear of cute and cuddly toys like baby dolls, stuffed animals, "Little People", smiling cars with eyes, etc. Things we thought he would love to play with just set off screams of fear and trembling in our child. Needless to say, he freaked out when he laid eyes on our two large dogs for the first time. He is slowly becoming OK with them in the house as long as they keep their distance. He is also realizing that the dolls are not real (although they do look alive), the toys are just plastic, and the stuffed animals won't hurt him. I remind him occasionally by tapping on the dolls' head and hands to show how hard they are and then tap on his soft, warm arm to show him the difference. This worked wonders. Our breakthrough moment was today during playtime with big sister. This video says it all! (He's also saying quite a few words). Way to go Gabriel! We are so proud of you! You have conquered one of your fears! Now I pray that his nighttime fears dissipate and his sometimes restless, noisy dreaming subsides.
Unforgettable Sounds: pterydactyl crows outside window screaming babies barking dogs/howling cats crowd cheering in middle of night (running) steady, relaxing rain car honking at gate, carrying our son for our first meeting children's sweet voices singing for bread and for Ethiopian New Year during coffee ceremony african drum beat at traditional dinner/dance ipod music to put me to sleep on plane first time Gabriel said "momma" and really meant me first time Gabriel said "daddy" and really meant husband first time Gabriel said siblings' names first time Gabriel said extended family's names
Unforgettable Sights: Gabriel's face in person all the poverty children begging on streets black exhaust blue buses beautiful red & green plants at Bejoe House beautiful people everywhere beautiful art in the gallery and at gentleman's studio circular mall u.s. embassy Gladney Care Centers children's clothes hanging on lines and laying on pallet boy's orphanage "yard" of beer dancer's unbelievably flexible neck, doing the head swing traditional dancers joy & hope amidst the poverty
Unforgettable Touch: Gabriel's smooth buttery skin the first time I held him in my arms the wettness of his leaky diaper on our first encounter the cool dampness of the Ethiopian air the cleansing rain the gentle touch of Gabriel's "special mom" as she dons earrings and necklace for me as a gift the pain in my heart for the beautiful people and the innocent children the warmth & giddiness in my heart when we were reunited with our family at the airport
I praise God for all 5 senses and for Him allowing us this amazing, heartbreaking, life-changing experience!
WARNING: This blog is very convicting. Please pray for Katie & her ministry, and then ask God how we can be used to ACT in practical, tangible ways. These things should not BE. These things should not have to happen to innocent children. Yes, suffering is part of life on this broken world, and yes, there is hope in Christ who will end ALL suffering, but there are things we in WEALTHY America can do NOW to help stop these attrocities. Please be on your knees. I know I will be. And read Katie's blog at www.kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com/
Although we're still recuperating, things are going EXTREMELY well! We have such a love bug! Gabriel is a happy, easy-going little guy. Although nap time and night time are a little hard, he's slowly gaining trust and exhibiting less fear. The kids are so in love with him and he with them. Praise God for such a smooth transition so far!
I needed to share my thoughts in this post as we prepare for our departure in only 5 days. I have been reading John Piper's book "Don't Waste Your Life". Last night I read a very timely chapter called "Risk is Right--Better to Lose Your Life Than to Waste It". As some of you may or may not know, I struggle with the "fear of flying". It stretches me out of my comfort zone and I tend to worry irrationally about it. Having young children that are relying on us to raise them and take care of them amplifies my fears. I know they will be in good hands and will NEVER be abandoned or alone, but I want to always be there for them (God willing). I know these are not uncommon thoughts and fears. I constantly give it to God and try to think rationally that all will be well. After all, so many families have gone and come back just fine! Obviously I struggle with letting go of control and trusting God to take care of the details of life. But reading John Piper's take on it made me feel better about the adventure we are embarking on. Here is an excerpt from his book that I wanted to share:
What is Risk? I define risk very simply as an action that exposes you to the possibility of loss or injury. If you take a risk you can lose money, you can lose face, you can lose your health or even your life. And what's worse, if you take a risk, you may endanger other people and not just yourself. Their lives may be at stake. Will a wise and loving person, then, ever take a risk? Is it wise to expose yourself to loss? Is it loving to endanger others? Is losing life the same as wasting it? It depends. Of course you can throw your life away in a hundred sinful ways and die as a result. In that case, losing life and wasting it would be the same. But losing life is not always the same as wasting it. What if the circumstances are such that NOT taking a risk will result in loss and injury? It may not be wise to play it safe. And what if a successful risk would bring great benefit to many people, and its failure would bring harm only to yourself? It may not be loving to choose comfort of security when something great may be achieved for the cause of Christ and for the good of others.
I am remembering Matthew 6:25, 31-33--"Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? ....do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'...your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
I hope this is helpful for all of you other fellow EX-"worry worts" out there! God has it all under control. Just hang on and enjoy the ride!
When we come to Christ, God not only forgives us, he also adopts us. Through a dramatic series of events, we go from condemned orphans with no hope to adopted children with no fear. Here is how it happens. You come before the judgment seat of God full of rebellion and mistakes. Because of his justice he cannot dismiss your sin, but because of his love he cannot dismiss you. So, in an act which stunned the heavens, he punished himself on the cross for your sins. God's justice and love are equally honored. And you, God's creation, are forgiven. But the story doesn't end with God's forgiveness.
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our Spirit that we are children of God (Rom. 8:15–16 NASB).
But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons (Gal. 4:4–5 NASB).
It would be enough if God just cleansed your name, but he does more. He gives you his name. It would be enough if God just set you free, but he does more. He takes you home. He takes you home to the Great House of God.
Adoptive parents understand this more than anyone. I certainly don't mean to offend any biological parents—I'm one myself. We biological parents know well the earnest longing to have a child. But in many cases our cribs were filled easily. We decided to have a child and a child came. In fact, sometimes the child came with no decision. I've heard of unplanned pregnancies, but I've never heard of an unplanned adoption.
That's why adoptive parents understand God's passion to adopt us. They know what it means to feel an empty space inside. They know what it means to hunt, to set out on a mission, and take responsibility for a child with a spotted past and a dubious future. If anybody understands God's ardor for his children, it's someone who has rescued an orphan from despair, for that is what God has done for us.
God has adopted you. God sought you, found you, signed the papers and took you home.
So, for all of you concerned about my anxiety, I have been practicing deep breathing ever since Friday morning's call. Details are coming together. Our flight is booked (with Emirates), our lodging is booked (at Bejoe' House), paperwork is mostly done, humanitarian aid items are collected (almost), many other items are purchased for the trip just waiting for me to organize and pack into suitcases. I'm feeling on top of things so far. Now I just pray I don't overpack, which is my tendency! The best news of all is that rather than feeling dread and anxiety about the flight, I have a giddy excitement to finally get to go pick up our son! It will be not only a good time away from life's stresses (somewhat of a vacation, if you will), but an exciting time of bonding as my husband and I depart on this adventure together-- knowing our son is waiting there for us. As I am writing this, however, my heart aches for those families who are STILL waiting on things that are totally out of their control to bring their children home. I wish this process were easier, but in the end, God's will prevails and we are made stronger so that we can persevere and bring glory to Him in our obedience to His will and timing. It can be "a long obedience", but the ultimate goal is pleasing God as we wait, as we hope, as we prepare, as we worry, as we long for the time when we can hold our children in our arms and tell them we love them. God is holding US in HIS arms too as we walk this slow, tedious journey called adoption. What a blessing to be part of it!
I "stole" this from another blogger, but loved it so much I had to share, too. We are ALL in this together and God is the ONLY solution! Let's be His hands and feet wherever we are placed in this world.
Praising God today (and MOWA) for allowing us another go at a court date now set for July 31st. I had my doubts that we would make it to court before closures, but God's answer this time was "Yes, sooner" rather than "Later." Keep praying that we get through court and pass on Friday. We are keeping all you other adoptive fams with upcoming court dates in our prayers as well.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "And the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Job 1:21 says:
"...the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."
Jeremiah 29:11 says:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
July 24th court date was postponed until further notice. MOWA extended their 2-week training 1 more day. We are hopeful we get in before court closure, but we are now just trying to trust that God's timing is best and rest in that. We know that when we finally have our son home, this roller coaster of emotions during the waiting period will be just a "blip" on the radar of life. It feels like eternity now, but it will be long forgotten once we have him home. Praying for all the other families who are still on this roller coaster (esp. those who have been on it much longer than we have). We should know more early next week....
I am not eloquent with words, but my heart resonates with thoughts like the ones quoted below. What do we do with all of this information? How can we possibly make a difference? What is God's will for us and how do we fit as individuals into this part of the puzzle? It's so easy to get overwhelmed to the point of inactivity. To get frozen with fear, with lack of resources, with lack of "know-how". How do we REALLY be God's hands & feet?? This amazing woman is an example of what it looks like to live it out...to show by example, to ACT. A modern-day Mother Theresa. I stumbled across this ministry and her blog amidst the amazing woven tapestry called the blogging world. And now I am truly blessed!! Thank you Auntie Katie for your example and sacrificing your life for "the least of these." Check this amazing woman out, and prepare to be inspired! She started Amazima ministry. Check out her ministry here.
From June 5th, 2009 post: "We aren't really called to save the world, not even to save one person; Jesus has already done that. We are just called to love with abandon. With EVERYTHING we have. We are called to enter into our neighbor's suffering and love them right there."
From Sept. 14th 2007 post: "i am marveling at how one small candle can seem to fill my whole house with light. just as Jesus fills my heart. and now i take my candle around to all the others and light them, the house practically glows. my one tiny flame has made everything bright. and i am reminded that i can light candles in the hearts of others, as long as i let Jesus fill my heart here first. 'you are the light of the world.. so let your light shine before men that they my see your good works and glorify God the Father..' "
I am still reading through her blog. It is a treasure FULL of golden nuggets like the ones quoted above. I am truly amazed and grateful to know there are such beautiful souls in this world making a difference like Katie is in Africa. She is teaching me so much about selflessness and unconditional love.
Please pray for God's will for EVERYONE trying to pass court before they close......including us! We have a court date set for July 24th. Living on the cutting edge of timelines. God is good and sovereign (and has a sense of humor sometimes)! But we are so grateful that it has happened so quickly! When I talked to my husband after I received the news from Jessica, he said he just KNEW today would be the day we would find out court date. He had been talking to his co-workers and patients about S this morning and showing off pictures....and he just had a feeling we would hear something TODAY. So cool! Pray we can sustain patience and peace as we wait. Pray for wisdom as we continue to prepare our hearts and our home to welcome our son. Pray for his little heart and that he can transition into a new and very different life soon! Praise God for His mighty power and love and mercy. Pray for the families that are in ET now, the families that are preparing to travel in the near future, and for those who are waiting to bring a child home. Pray that God touches other's hearts in astounding ways only God can do through adoptive families' examples/stories/ journeys.
It is finally feeling like a reality....pray that things continue to move along smoothly, without any delays.
I wanted to share some of these gems I found to read to my kids (and to our ET son). The first set I found at www.amharickids.com. It's a wonderful resource and has many more items than I have listed. These are just the ones we have and that I recommend:
For learning simple Amharic, I also recommend this book & CD from www.adoptlanguage.com:
And last but not least, these treasures about color and diversity are a MUST!! My favorite, surprisingly, is the Sesame Street book. It almost made me cry! I have little ones, so this is especially good for their ages (2-9). I found them at amazon.com.
And my 6 year-old son's FAVORITE of them all is this wonderful story about the Ethiopian Saint Tekla: