Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Hundred Times As Much

“Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will received a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”
-Matthew 19:29

I turned to this verse the other day for a different reason, and God blessed me in an unexpected way.

Jesus says that if we have left children for his sake, we will receive a hundred times as much in return. I had always wondered what this could mean. In what situation would God ever call someone to leave their own child for his sake? That seemed to contradict what scripture clearly teaches in other places.

Now I know. We have left behind a child that I will never bear for the sake of his kingdom. We have chosen instead to raise HIS child as our own instead in obedience to him.

Lately I have been grieving the loss of an additional biological child more than I expected to. My heart has been sad as I have thought about what may never be. I have questioned if we are doing the right thing.

Here is the answer: We are doing it for HIS sake, to please and obey HIM. He sees the sacrifice that we are making, and he accepts it as worship to him. And he is pleased. That is enough. Yes, I have no doubt that we are doing the right thing.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I'm an Aunt!

I got an exciting phone call last night shortly before bedtime. My little sis, Rachel, was in labor! Instead of winding down for the night, I kicked it into high gear, packing and planning and praying.


I slept a little bit last night, and then got up early this morning to finish loading the car. As soon as Madeline got up, we hit the road, headed for Georgia.


Sweet little Abigail was born today about 30 minutes before I arrived. Rachel was so strong and did an amazing job. Can you believe that she started a new school year while 35 weeks pregnant? (She's a 6th grade teacher.) What a woman.


And here's the girl that we've all be dying to meet for the last nine months:
She has the sweetest little face and beautiful eyes and long eyelashes. She was also born with a head full of dark hair. It looks like it might have a little curl in it! She weighed 6 lb. and 1 oz., and is 20 inches long, making her a long, lean little girl.

Charlie, Rachel, and Abigail, now a family of three.

Three generations - my mom (a.k.a. Bop), Rachel, and Abigail
Congratulations, Rachel and Charlie. You are going to be wonderful parents. God bless you!










Friday, August 21, 2009

Waiting

Our dossier is in Ethiopia!!!!!! I have been watching its progress on the FedEx website as it slowly made its way from our agency in Virginia to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. And now it is there. Our Wait Time has officially begun.

The expected wait for a referral of an infant boy is currently 5-7 months. That means that, Lord willing, we will probably receive our referral sometime between January and March.

I am so excited!

Monday, August 17, 2009

If You Are Looking for Something to Read...

...Then let me offer a few suggestions. I have read several books lately that have touched me and changed me. If you are interested in learning more about orphans or Africa, then all three of these are must reads.




Tom Davis does an amazing job in his first work of fiction telling the story of a young girl living in an AIDS ravaged village in Swaziland. I love to read well-written fiction-with-a-purpose: books where I can learn something important, grow and be changed, and really enjoy the story in the meantime. This book definitely falls into that category. I wholeheartedly recommend it.



Any family considering adopting a child from Ethiopia absolutely must read this book. Melissa Fay Greene tells the true story of Haregewoin, a dear lady who opens her home and heart to care for two, then ten, then dozens, and eventually hundreds of orphaned and abandoned children in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Greene uses her gifts (her writing is beautiful) to share much information about Ethiopia - history, culture, the AIDS problem. I learned so much reading this book, and I plan to read it a second time. As soon as I make it through the stack of books waiting on my bedside table...



This one is an autobiograpy written by R.B. Mitchell. Mitchell was abandoned by his mentally-ill mother at the age of three and grew up in an orphanage in Illinois. He shares candidly about his anger, bitterness, and loneliness. But it is ultimately a story of hope and healing. Mitchell comes to Christ and works through the pain of his past.

Here are the books again:
Scared by Tom Davis
There Is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene
Castaway Kid by R.B. Mitchell

I would love to know what books have most affected you. Any recommendations?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rachel's Gonna Have a Baby!

And here she is!



Last Thursday and Friday M and I went with my parents to visit my sis Rachel and her husband Charlie in Georgia. On Monday Rachel started a new school year as a sixth-grade teacher....at 35 1/2 weeks pregnant. Whew. So Mom and I spent the day on Friday giving her about the best gift that you can give a pregnant girl who plans to work until the day she goes into labor - a freezer full of meals.

We had so much fun! We made our plans and grocery list before we went so that we could take some of the ingredients with us. Then we went shopping together to buy the meat and veggies after we got there. Madeline took a marathon three hour nap, and during that time we were able to prepare 20 separate dinners for her to put in her freezer - each with leftovers! It's amazing how much you can get done when you all work together. And how much fun it is!



Mom cut up chicken for what seemed like hours



Packaging up some chili in freezer bags



Tomato sauce for the lasagna



Here are the fruits of our labor: 3 dinners of chili, 3 of poppy seed chicken casserole, 3 of chicken pot pie, a large lasagna, extra tomato sauce with meat, stuffed pasta shells (with our extra ricotta mixture from the lasagna), a whole pork tenderloin, and 2 large bags of extra cooked and diced chicken.

It was so efficient to cook this way, that I am considering starting to do this for myself once a month. The dinner hour would be so much less stressful if I could just pull something out of the freezer more often.

Later in the day we went swimming at a relative's pool. I can't resist sharing some cute baby swim suit pictures. I just love those little chubby legs. :)



Madeline has a beach ball, and so does Rachel. :)



I will leave you with a final pic my cool baby "driving" at the grocery store. She LOVES mommy's sunglasses.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Blessings

fI have been putting off blogging about last weekend because I don’t know where to start. I am overwhelmed. Blessings were hurled at me, one after another. I just can’t begin to put into words how thankful, how joyful, how full I feel.

On Saturday evening Daniel and I attended the Orphan’s Ticket Home gala. Wow. I simply can’t describe it all, but here is a list of a few of the gifts God gave us that evening:

  • We got to meet Aster Fesseha, the founder and director of the orphanage that our son will live in before we get to come and get him. Before we arrived, I thought it was “cool” that she would be there. When I actually met her face to face, I fell apart. She will be the one caring for my baby boy when I can’t.
  • We sat beside a wonderful, interesting, insightful couple who adopted from Ethiopia three years ago. They honestly shared about the fun parts and difficult parts of their experience and let us ask many, many questions.
  • We got to hear Tom Davis speak. What an amazing vessel. It’s not often that you find a person who is as remarkably talented in so many ways. He has a tender, passionate heart for orphans and the vulnerable of the world. He is both a visionary and a do-er. He is a fantastic writer. (I plan to blog soon about his latest book…) He is an engaging and charismatic speaker. AND he is great to talk to one-on-one. We got to speak with him for fifteen minutes afterward, and he offered to set us up so that we can see more of Ethiopia when we travel – the beauty, the suffering, and the ministry.

On Sunday evening we got to hang out with Aster at the Mihnovich’s house along with several other adoptive families:

  • We got to spend more time with Aster, asking questions and listening to her insights and advice. What an amazing woman.
  • Madeline got to play with a group of beautiful Ethiopian kiddos.
  • We feel so encouraged and thankful to get to spend time with godly, courageous, beautiful families that we aspire to be more like, such as the Mihnoviches, the Garners, the Tuckers, and the Shorts. Thank you God!

I am so thankful that we have embarked on this journey to adopt. It has taken a lot out of us. But through it all we have been filled back up to overflowing. We are learning and growing so much. God is good.

Madeline, Aster, and I

Friday, August 7, 2009

D-Day

Dossier Day, that is.




This one-and-a-half-inch stack of papers represents almost six months of work. Fingerprinting, police reports, letters from our doctors, employers, and friends, birth and marriage certificates, our home study, immigration approval and other government documents, personal letters to the Ethiopian government, scrapbook pages of our family, passports.... The list of everything included in this bundle is long. And it is done. Done! I Fed-Exed it to our adoption agency, America World, yesterday.

I am elated to have
our dossier out of my hands. I have been so eager to get my nose out of all the paperwork and have time to focus on other things that are important to me, like preparing mentally and spiritually for the addition of our son to our family.

I am praying that angels will escort our dossier all the way into the hands of the Ethiopian embassy. And that God's protection will be with our little guy and his mom. We anticipate that if we don't encounter any delays we will receive our referral as early as late January and travel as early as late March. But it is all in God's hands, and although we are eager to have him in our arms as soon as possible, I know that delays may be part of his plan to connect us with the one that he has chosen for our family.

It is possible that our son has been born already. If not, his birth mom is certainly pregnant with him now. I think of her often. What heartache she must be experiencing now, whether she is terminally ill or in dire poverty wondering if she will be able to provide for her sweet baby. Lord, have mercy on her.
What an ironic combination of emotions adoption brings: both heartache and joy, loss and gain, pain and relief. We are the ones on the "easy" side. Help us, Lord, to feel her pain and to understand our son's loss. Give us hearts like yours so that we can see what you see and love how you love.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bible

Madeline LOVES to read her Beginner's Bible. She animatedly goes on and on, pointing to the pages and "reading" aloud. I finally captured it on video:

video

Have a good Thursday!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Best Sunday Ever

I just wanted to share the joy and contentment that I feel right now. This morning we went to church. We came home to an already prepared meal that I had put in the oven this morning. After putting Madeline down for a nap, Daniel and I took a short nap ourselves. Then we spent the rest of nap time reading on the couch. (I am reading Castaway Kid by R.B. Mitchell, and I can't put it down.) The house is CLEAN, which means I am able to relax. This afternoon we met Daniel's out-of-town cousins at the park and spent three hours having great conversation while letting the kids play. Then Daniel and I went for a walk and spent some time talking just the two of us. Now Madeline is in bed, and I am going to read until I finish my book. Yes, I think this has definitely been the best Sunday ever.

Cousin Isaac, Madeline, and Cousin Sydney at the park today