Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Fun!

Pictures are worth a million words! We are blessed and God is good!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Does God hold us even when we struggle to get away? Does he continue to keep us close and gently talk to us when we won't look him in the eyes? If we turn our back away from him when he is trying to give us milk, will he not turn us back his way to finish feeding us? The answer to all of these questions is,"Yes!" We sing about how God does all these things for us in church...we call it the love of God. It is no different with an adopted child. I have marveled over and over how I am role modeling God and man when I first begin to parent my adopted kids. I remember a time four years ago in Russia. We had only had our 10 year old son a few days and we were in Moscow finishing all the paperwork so we could go home. We had been running all over the city with Denis getting his physical, having official papers stamped, and buying souvenirs for everyone back home. One morning it was time to go to our embassy appointment and I could not find Denis. Finally,I came into the bathroom of our hotel room and found him sitting curled up with his arms around his knees and his head down, crying! I tried to comfort him and he would have none of me. There was a telephone in the bathroom so I called the front desk and asked if they would translate for me so I could understand the problem. I handed Denis the phone and after a few minutes of talking he handed it back. I asked the front desk person what the matter was and she said, "He just wants to know where you are going next." I told her where and she translated to Denis. After that he got up and got ready and came easily with us. I stood there a moment and realized how this boy and I are so much alike. Many times God will take us here and there without our understanding where we are going simply because we do not understand him. We cry and complain and sometimes refuse to go anymore. But when we hear his voice in a language we understand and he reminds us where we are headed then we relax and keep going with him.
So now with this adoption of Baby Meseret I understand that when she will not look me in the eyes or she struggles to get away from me when I rock her, she is having a common human reaction when trust is the issue. She has no idea if this person feeding her will stay or go, be nice or mean. Her random world has taught her well to be careful and to guard herself. So what do I do about this "rejection"? I know if this brokenness is not repaired she will remain broken emotionally always. So I simply do what my heavenly father does for each one of us. I hold her closer when she is struggling to get away until her tears stop. I interact with her on her level until she can look me in the eyes and I will continue to do this until she knows she can trust that I will not leave her or forsake her. She is my baby before I am her mommy...that is the way God made it, just as he is our father before we become his children. He adopted me.
It has been a month and a half since Meseret has been home and her bonding is going great. She still has times that are difficult for her when she does not want to draw near, but she will learn just as I have learned. Trust will continue to increase as time goes on and distrust will decrease because love is safe, even if the world is not!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

First Snow!

In the Willamette Valley snow is a novelty! So at the first hint of it everything shuts down and kids run to
catch the first flakes. On Sunday our first snow fell and we all scrambled to find something warm enough to stay out as long as possible since the chances of it actually sticking are rare. Some of our kids actually got one of their Christmas presents early...snowsuits! Well this year we hit it big, three inches has stayed for three days and the forecast says more is on the way. Driving can be very scary since we are all novices here in Oregon. Etsegenet was hilarious throwing snowballs in flip-flops until her toes and fingers could not take it any more. Abigail was so excited she ran out of the house in her jamies, flopped herself down on the walkway and proceeded to make a snow angel. And although there was only a half inch of snow on the ground it looked pretty good and she could not have been happier about it. The big kids got in on the fun and I made the family our traditionally snow treat of cinnamon toast served warm outside in between snowballs fights! I love these days and I thank God for the breaks he sends us in only ways the he can...this time it was SNOW!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tradition of the Heart

One of my favorite Christmas traditions our family has is called, "The Jesus Box. Years ago when my kids just got old enough to be curious about the gifts under the tree I realized that there was no way they would focus on others when they kept wondering what was in each box for themselves. So I took all the presents out from under the Christmas tree and stored them back into my closet. Then I took a shoebox and wrapped it and cut a slit in the top. I attached a pen on a string to the box and cut up little pieces of paper and stacked them on the package. I told the kids that if they noticed anyone in the family doing something nice for someone else they could write what they saw on one of the slips of paper and put it in the Jesus box. The rule was they could only write about what they saw someone else do and not anything they did. That of course meant that if they wanted their name in the box they actually had to do nice things! This activity went on for the entire month of December. On Christmas morning the kids came into our bedroom so we could all go downstairs together. The Jesus box was brought out and after a prayer time it was the first present that was opened Christmas morning. Each slip of paper was read individually and the result was astounding. We realized how many nice things everyone really does do throughout our weeks. The little slips of paper said things like, "Angelina made coffee for Mom this morning." or, "Noah vacuumed without being told". We really felt like this put the focus of Christmas back where it belonged...others not self. This has remained one of our favorite family traditions for more than ten years and I am sure each of our kids will continue it on in their homes.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Candy Canes and Christmas Dresses

The Christmas season has officially begun at our home! The annual tree cutting took place last weekend as well. We drove out to the tree farm and selected a beautiful 10ft noble. After the women selected just the right tree, it was the guys tough job to cut it down and put it on the car. Of course the gals stayed busy while the men worked by securing the photos for posterity and shopping at the quaint Christmas bazaar on the property.

The lights are another one of the guy jobs at Christmas time and ours do a fabulous job!

The little girls picked out their own Christmas dresses this year and had a wonderful time getting all dressed up Saturday night for their first Holiday party.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Yikes! We had to go to the doctor today for Etsegenet's first checkup. What an ordeal that was! Luckily they got an interpreter on the phone so that everything was carefully explained to E. Still, no matter how much explanation you give a child shots are traumatic, and this was no exception. At the first sight of a needle E began to wail! Two nurses were needed to hold her for her two shots in each arm and a TB test. After all this they brought out the blood draw kit and two more nursed were needed to keep E's arm still so they could retrieve a sample. She just cried and cried! Poor little thing. Once it was all through she clung to me. So many changes for one child, it is hard for her to understand this really is good for her. But after it was all over I let her pick what she wanted for lunch. The choice was pizza so we went over to the local mall's food court and had a lovely familiar lunch. She even tried a bite of my Indian food and liked it. Overall, even with the trauma of the shots, we had a great day of mother-daughter bonding. I must say that of all the brave people there are in the world, I think adopted children rank right up there with the bravest of all!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

All is Well

I am amazed at how well our newest daughters are adjusting into their family! We have had a few issues with food that is unfamiliar and some homesickness tears from Etsegenet, but overall she is doing great. We were able to get our Christmas decorations up last weekend. Going to find a tree was a real adventure for E. She loved roaming around and helping pick just the right one. I was able to start E in a grade appropriate math book this week and she is doing great with her English. She is very bright and is really enjoying homeschooling a lot. Today we played store so she could learn US coins. Etsegenet, Isabelle, and Abigail went "shopping" in the family room(grocery carts and all), while Angelina played the cashier. It was a great intro for all the girls into coin counting.

Meseret, our baby, is the princess of the house. She expects to be kissed regularly by as many lips as there are in the room. We of course, being her loyal subjects, comply without any problem. Her chubby cheeks just scream, "Kiss Me!" We all love it! This morning she woke up at 3:30am. I woke up not to her crying but to her singing and babbling. She must have played in there for 45 minutes. before I went and changed her diaper and gave her a bottle. It was so fun just to lie in bed and listen to her voice chattering away. I think she likes it here...I think they both do! I said to my friend yesterday that I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I don't think it will. You have heard, "God never gives you more than you can handle." Apparently God did not think I could handle much since he gave me these two precious easy-going children. So for now all is well!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Completly Inadequate

I just got done rocking my baby and I know I am completely inadequate to be the one who will convey the message of her worth. How can I ? She is absolutely precious, and beautiful, and a gift from God! I know you will believe this when I tell you, but will she? How can I convince her of her worth when her mind will tell her she is worthless? Would you believe me if I told you of your value? Many of you probably would not. Most of us will never understand the treasure we truly are and we will believe the lie of our worthlessness! How will this precious baby believe me when I tell her she is wanted and loved and treasured. All she will need to do is look to her beginning and say to herself..."That cannot be true, no one wanted me then, why should I believe you now?" It is not unlike most of you. How many of you had a past that was less than conducive to building your self worth. I asked God tonight to grant this child the ability to see her from His perspective. If she can do that she will be powerful! She will be gracious, and giving, and she will have the ability to share herself with others. If she does not believe the message that I will convey to her throughout her life than the opposite will happen. I felt what God must feel when he looks down on His precious creation and they say about themselves, "Yuck!" His heart breaks and Satan laughs! I wrote a poem some years ago and it is appropriate now for the message I want my Beautiful Baby Meseret to know. Read it and know your worth as well:

God's Perspective

Before you were born I knew you
Be aware of my love just for you!

I saw all the others I'd already made
And began to design anew

The way that you were from the day you were born
Is the way that I want you to be

And the worth that I placed on you before you became
Is the worth that I want you to keep

When I wove you together inside the womb
I saw your delicate soul

In you I could see all that you could become
And I made you completely whole

I'm aware what you think of the person I made
You think that your not so fine

But how can you put more worth on things
Than you do on what I designed?

You can say in your head and repeat in your heart
The lies you have heard all your life

But if you listen to them and forget what I've said
You will never be done with your strife

Do you know the reason I made you? Listen to this!
It's for you to be close just to me

Because no one can love you a fraction as much
As the one who made your heart beat

You look to the hills and see beauty outside
Yet pass over the most beautiful of all

The one in your mirror that you run from in fear
The one that I long to call

Could coming to me be harder
Than the life that you already have?

Or do you think that the things I will ask you to do
Will be more than your willing to give?

So now you decide, turn to me or just hide
But my love will not go away

If you keep turning your face you can never feel my grace
Even though I'm there always

Draw near to me and I promise
I never will let you down

For the closer you step the closer I'll come
Beside when I hear your voice sound

Now look to my work and notice
That the love that I talk of was proved

So long ago I came into your world
And died on a cross to save you

Whatever in your life you've done
is not what matters to me

It's only what will happen in the future
And what you choose for eternity

So don't take too long to decide if I'm wrong
For I wish only to be with you

For the rest of your days down on earth and always
Child feel your worth through and through

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

God's Timing

As you know with this adoption God had his perfect timing with its planning and completion. For instance, we had wanted to pass court in August, but since we did not, God gave us a vision to plan and execute a fund raiser. If we had passed court in August that fund raiser and the money that it produced would not have come about. We do not know the eternal results of that night, but I am sure lives were saved because of it. What amazes me most is that this is not just my experience, but so many others as well. We have some friends who are adopting for the second time from China. When they first heard about their little girl in China they had not even considered adoption. Yet the day after they heard of her they began taking steps to adopt her. Many miracles occurred that confirmed this was the decision that God wanted. While they were in China they received two photos of their daughter playing on a slide. In those pictures was a little boy slightly older than their girl with the same unusual wrist condition that she has. They were drawn to this child immediately. After they went home from China with their daughter this family began to search for this boy on every special needs waiting child list they could find from any agency they came across on the web. This search went on for a year and a half. Now keep in mind that this referral could have gone to any country that adopts out of China. If it did come to America his referral could have landed in almost any agency. Well one night as they were at a discipleship group that we attend as well, the mom overheard me telling of the AWA blog where Beautiful E's photo had been posted because they had had a birthday party and she was one of the kids in the picture. She went home and, although she was tired, that mom went onto that AWA site and looked at the waiting child's list and found that same little boy they had been searching for all that time. They are now in the process of adopting that boy and, while they are having delays just like we experienced, we can say with confidence that this boy will come home! To find out more about their story check out their blog. So for all of you still waiting to get paperwork done, or waiting to pass court, or waiting to travel, be assured God knows what he is doing and he will see it through in His timing.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Fun Firsts!

As I said in an earlier post, one of the things I enjoy about this part of the adoption process is seeing the wonder and excitement as my child experiences "firsts". I thought I would share a few of E's with all of you!

(playing dolls with Big Sister)

(listening to a piano duet)

(coloring with Little Sisters)

(swinging on the swings in our backyard)

(first beauty salon expeirience)

(awesome braids!)

(first day of home school)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Goodbyes and Hellos!

How does one say goodbye forever to a child they love? It is hard for me to speak to this because it is a difficulty I have not had to face. But from these photos taken by Ray of the parting at the AWA Transition House I would say these women instilled themselves into my child and sent her to her new life with a great deal of love and hope. That is what I see in the eyes of this and hope! What gracious, selfless women these are!

(One of the nannies lovingly gives Beautiful E a send off kiss)

(Fortuna, the TH nurse and a second mother to Etsegenet)

(Etsegent and Zenesh, the older girls' live in nanny. They love her so!)

(E's school teacher)

(Where it began...and now the goodbye)

(A new adventure!)

(New Friends with a warm welcome)

(New sisters with plenty of love to share)

(And of course, a sweet reunion!)

Although sometimes we must give something very precious up and take a leap of faith, let's learn the lesson that Beautiful Etsegenet has learned so well. Our mighty God never leaves you empty, and he always provides abundantly to overflowing! E is safe now. My prayer and longing has been answered and satisfied. This journey that we began seventeen months ago has come to completion. We are forever grateful to our Lord for growing our family not according to the world's standards or expectations, but according to His. I want to thank all of those who have sustained us with prayer. The battle has been won!