October 18, 2015

A true picture of the Body of Christ.

As I sit here looking at my packed bags I find myself pondering the immense peace that is washing over me. Bona and I leave in just a matter of hours and yet I feel no worry, anxiety, or fear. God has been so faithful to get us this far, 3 years and He has always been clearly in control of this journey. I may not have liked everything but I never doubted His sovereignty. And now as I look out at my luggage I of course think of my sweet boy and the joy of the day that is coming so soon! I also find myself thinking about community, about the body of Christ. It says in 1 Peter 4:8-11 "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." I love this verse! ( I better, it is tattooed on my arm). I love it because it is exactly what we have been experiencing the last few months. People in our community loving us deeply, offer hospitality, speaking the truth of God into our hearts, and serving us selflessly.

From friends who have stepped in to watch Bona to students praying for our son. We have faithfully seen Christ in and through and around our community. And the most amazing thing is they way our two communities, the one in Ethiopia and the one here in the states, have come together to support each other. That my friends is the body of Christ, people who don't even know each other tied together by their love for our one true King. Oh how I rejoice for they day that I can tell my son that at one point in his journey there were hundreds of people praying for him! None of whom had even met him yet. If that is not a testimony to the power of God's community I am not sure what is. Our son has been held up in prayer, he has been clothed by the generosity of friends and he has been loved by people both near and far.


This journey is about our son first and foremost. But I cannot help but see the amazing power of community that has made it happen. From the bags we have packed with gifts from our Seattle friends to our Ethiopian friends to the bag we carry for our Ethiopian friends who live in Seattle and are sending things to family in Ethiopia. I have watched two communities thousands of miles apart be brought together by one very special boy.  There is so much about this journey that is hard and impossible to understand, there is much sorrow and grief, but this part, the part where the body of Christ has done its part, this will be a great celebration for our family. Our sweet boy will know that he is loved. He will know that God has and will continue to bring many people into his life that will be models of God's great love. And we as a family will celebrate with intense joy that we are loved and prayed for by many. Thank will never be enough for the language lessons, the clothes, the meals, the genuine question, the prayers or the love.

August 25, 2015

In his Shoes

As we prepare for our long awaited trip to Ethiopia to complete our journey of becoming a family of four it feels like thousands of things are swimming around in my head.  I have a to-do list a mile long, which includes both things for the trip and things for the months after we arrive home.  And to be honest figuring something out doesn’t seem to satisfy my mind or heart.  They are both still fluttering and anxious most of the time.  I don’t feel accomplished or more prepared when I finish something on my mental list, I usually just wonder instead what else I am forgetting.  An endless cycle I have been going through for the last few months. At the end of each task I wonder is this enough?  Did I miss a step or forget to read the right book or contact the right people?  How can I possibly know what to expect? Am I really ready for what God has so clearly called our family to do?  Which is, by the way, the only thing I have not doubted in all of this.  I am still very sure that this is what God called us to two and half years ago.  But regardless of that peace of mind everything else swirls in endless craziness. So most of the time I fell utterly and completely overwhelmed and underprepared for the journey ahead.
And then I pause…. I take a deep breath…. And I think about my son.  Everything I am feeling is buffered by loving and supporting people, by a deep faith in a God who is bigger than all my worry, and an immense love for my son that is beyond description.  But he does not have all this as he prepares for his new family.  Yes he has people in his life that he trusts and who will walk him through this process.  But nothing that is running through my brain can compare to the emotions our son will feel.  Confusion, sadness, anxiety, joy, frustration, anger, happiness, probably all of these things at once and in confusing succession   Add to that goodbyes and new locations, not to mention a new language to learn. Plus countless more things that I will never be able to fully know.  How can anything I am feeling compare to what my son will have to go through to complete this journey?  It is indescribable how hard his part of this whole story will be to fulfill.  I truly believe that we will be a thriving and joyful family, but that will take time and effort that I am yet to understand. Our son will face immense trails to come to a place where he can fully love and trust that we are his forever family.  A weight far far greater than any worry I might have about the coming months.  A reality that I have to remind myself to remember in the midst of all my to-do’s and worrying.  Something that I am finally realizing must be my driving force.  I have to spend the next few months putting myself in my son’s shoes.  Making choices about our family, choices about our journey, and choices about my time and effort that reflect what is ultimately best for my new son.  The sweet boy God has entrusted to me will never see the efforts of a to-do or countless nights of worry, but he will eventually come to see the efforts of a mother who chose to put him first. 

So to all who continue to support us through prayer we ask again that you pray for our son.  He shall surely shoulder burdens and sadness beyond compare as he transitions into this new family.  He brings with him to this new life, a very important piece of himself, his old life.  Please pray that our sweet son may have the strength of God, the love of his family, and a confidence beyond his years as he begins to figure out how to hold tightly to his old life while experiencing fully his new life.  May God fill the days ahead with the right mix of emotions for us all to begin this forever bond.

May 7, 2015

Faith in Equal and Opposite Directions

How do you live your best life when the life you are living isn't your first choice?  How do you live fully in the day when your mind is preoccupied with something that has yet to happen?  How can you deeply love the people in your life when it always feels like someone is missing? 

This is our reality, for the second time and probably not the last.  We live in a place of great joy, we feel overwhelmingly blessed and incredibly thankful every day.  But we also feel lost and incomplete, often times in the same breath.  It is such a hard thing to describe, but anyone who has ever been called into a place of waiting knows what we are feeling.  Being clearly called by God to do something, but feeling so overwhelmingly frustrated by the time it takes for this calling to come to fruition.  How can God be so present and yet feel so far away?  We don’t know, we have no answer to why faith is so strangely conflicting.  Some days we lean into the frustration, we ask why and wonder where God is in all of the pain.  Others days we feel wrapped in the fold of God, protected and guided.  It makes no sense, but yet we feel a consistent joy. 

So even in the timing of our adoption we are in limbo.  Sometimes it looks hopefully that we will travel to bring our sweet boy home in July and other times it is clear that October is probably a more realistic timeline. We are asking for prayer for paperwork, officials, adoption workers, and nannies.  But as always our greatest prayer is for our son.

We also know full well, the conflict of emotions we feel now is nothing compared to what our son will experience.  The joy of a new family next to the immense sadness of losing a family.  The excitement of a new environment paired with desire for things to stay the same.  Wanting to be loved and valued but not understanding why a stranger would want to provide those things.  Having a little brother to share his childhood with but missing all of his friends at the care center.  There is no scenario where we can even begin to understand what our son will go through during the first few years of transitioning into our lives. 

So, just as we have done so far, we are preparing ourselves to lean hard into God through the continued wait.  And most importantly through the whole process of parenting our sons.  We know the power of prayer.  We feel the blanket of love through the people who continue to walk this journey with us.  Much of our son’s journey will be indescribably difficult.  We will do our very best to surround him with prayer and support.  And hope that he will know, just as we know, that faith can live in the conflict of emotions.  That God is big enough for us to both trust and question him.  That his love is strong enough to withstand confusion, anger and frustration.  And that no matter what, God loves us and finds us more valuable then we can ever imagine.  This is the truth to which we will cling.


Thank you for your continued prayers and support.  Thank you for understanding that some days we love to talk about where we are at with the adoption, and others we just cannot muster the strength. Thank you for asking regardless and for praying faithfully on our behalf.

March 5, 2015

Stew

Many people have asked Mike and me in the last few weeks how things are going with our adoption or how they can be praying for us. And we are so incredibly thankful for your support. We also don’t always know how to respond or what to say in that moment, so we wanted to give you a little better idea of what is going on. 

Logistically we hope to leave for Ethiopia sometime in the next 3 months.  We have been told we may have as short as a week’s notice to travel.  We are also currently trying to find ways to raise a little more money and we are still in the throes of paperwork.  Emotional, we are a big stew of excitement, joy, fear, frustration, happiness, smiles and tears.  And with each bite of reality we find ourselves mulling over which flavor will be most prevalent in that moment.  But like a good stew, most bites are an indistinguishable blend of everything.  We know that every emotion is working together, flavoring this experience from beginning to end.  That doesn't change the fact some bites are harder to stomach than others.

So how did we get to this place, to eating this stew of mixed emotions on a daily, no hourly basis? To put it simply, we said yes. We agreed to let God take us down a path of faith and trust without knowing what the road ahead would hold. We decide that God had a far superior handle on how and when our family would be formed. And we trusted that no matter how uncomfortable our faith would feel at times, God is always planted firmly in the middle of it all.

It is through this faithfulness that we arrived here. Here being, right in the middle of a long adoption process with a half-finished house, half sane minds, and completely full hearts. We are near the end of this process but more importantly approaching the beginning of our life as a family of four. And much like the advice people give to prepare for a marriage not a wedding, we find ourselves reckoning each day not only with the paperwork and logistics of bringing home our son but also the reality of the events that necessitated this adoption in the first place. The logistics are extremely stressful, the potential of receiving only a weeks’ notice to travel, figuring out what we will do for both of our jobs and praying that the money and resources we need will be available when we really need them. All of it sends us into a flurry of emotions. But the truth is, the greatest struggle we have experienced in these last few months has nothing to do with those things. I think because deep down we know God is taking care of them, we know because he always has. Maybe not in the way we expected, but in 10 years of being together we have hundreds of examples where God has done, well, what God does. Stepped in and blew us away with his love and provision and grace and mercy. So as much as we wish all the pieces would fall into place, this is not what bring us to our knees, this is not our greatest pray. 

What brings us to our knees, what exposes the raw fleshy parts of our being and drains us of the ability to think straight, is the reality of why and how our sons came to be a part of our family. Adoption has and will continue to be the most joyful thing either of us have ever experienced. It is the closest we will ever come to understanding how God could accept us into his family with so much grace and love. But not unlike Paul or Job or David or Ruth and Naomi, we know full well the joy of the Lord does not mean a life devoid of pain and suffering. In fact James tells us “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” We know all this, we trust that God is faithful, we pray that our boys will someday feel the completeness that only God can gives them, but our hearts still ache. The tears always on the edge of our eye lids and the pain hidden just below the surface. 

So how can you pray for us? Pray for our boys. Pray that they will feel comfortable grieving when they feel the weight of all they have lost. Pray that they will know it is ok to feel incomplete. Pray that they will not feel isolated or different when everyone else has a family tree or baby pictures, or family history. Pray that God would fill the places in their hearts that we as parents can never understand. Pray that they will believe they are valuable and that they will know that they are loved. Pray that they will know it is ok to be mad about the loss of their first family. Pray that they will know that their identity is complicated and it is ok if they don’t want to talk about it or explain it to every person who asks. Pray that above all else, in this very unideal situation that they would believe truly and wholly that God is big enough. That God knows their hurt and shares in their joys and he does not expect them to deal with this part of their life in any way but what they see is best. That they don’t have to be happy or grateful if they instead feel sad and angry for what they lost. Pray that the journey of our boys will be in God’s hands and his hands alone. 

Thank you for loving us enough to pray for our sweet boys and in particular our oldest, who is about to experience an extremely hard transition into life as our son. It will surely be filled with many moments of great joy and happiness but also moments of great sadness and frustration. The stew of life I suppose.

March 5, 2013

HERE WE GO AGAIN!!

At times it feels too soon to start this whole thing over again and yet at others it feels like it can’t come soon enough.  We were talking on the plane ride home from Ethiopia about how excited we were to do it all again.  Crazy we know, but when you love someone that much your reasoning skills are a bit impaired.  Thankfully, as always, God gave us the sense to let Bona get settled before we started the whole process again.  Well, he is settled now!  More than settled, this kid is amazing.  And so even in the midst of complete chaos (selling house and unsure where we will live next), Here we go again, and we honestly couldn't be any more thrilled.
With this process starting all over again we have been reminded of what an amazing support system we have.  It was that support that got us through Bona’s adoption with grace, humility, and patience.  So it is no surprise to us that people are already coming along side us as we are in the beginning stages of adoption #2.  And many people have had questions about how this time will be the same or different from Bona’s process.  So we thought we could compile a list for you.  Of course we will never know all the things until this adoption is complete, but below is a quick look at what we know now.

Things that are the same:
·  We are OVER THE MOON excited to bring a child into our family!!
·  We know without a shadow of a doubt that God has already chosen our child even though we don’t yet know who he is.
·  We would like to adopt another little boy!  Although God may have a little girl in mind, and that would be perfectly ok as well. 
·  We still have no idea if we can have biological children because we have not felt called to that and may never feel called to add to our family that way.
·  We are still just two people (plus one) seeking to do God’s will in our lives.  We are not some amazing altruistic family who deserves praise or admiration.  We just feel God’s nudge to adopt again and so we are letting him lead the way. (see here to read more about this.)
·  We still have lots of paperwork and bureaucracy (both US and Ethiopian) to get through before we can bring our child home.  But as we realized last time God works out all those details.  So it won’t change the frustrations but we do have more peace about all of these things working out.
·  We plan to stay in Ethiopia again for an extended period of time.  We were there a total of 9 weeks with Bona’s adoption.  And it was amazing!  We can’t wait to go back and see our friends. (see here to read more about our first time staying in Ethiopia)
·  We are going to need a lot of support and love along the way.  Even though we have a better idea of what is coming, it is still an emotional roller coaster   We will need prayers and shoulders to cry on, and friends to celebrate with in the moments of joy. (see here to read more about how our friends and family helped us through)
·  We still have no idea about the timing.  But again we have peace that the child waiting for us is already picked out and that God will work out the details.  It doesn't mean that we don’t want our child home right now, because we do!  It also doesn't mean that we won’t be frustrated by the timing, because every day we aren't with our son is another he is missing out on complete attention and love from his forever family.  And it is another day Bona has to go without being able to love on and get to know his big brother.  We will find joy in this time of waiting, but we may not always be happy about not having our son with us.

Things that are different:
·  We are using a different adoption agency.  Bona’s adoption was through Holt. This adoption will be through Bethany Christian Services.  If you are interested in adoption and would like to know why we switched we would be happy to talk to you more about the details.
·  Our next child will likely be older.  So Bona man will have a big brother. We are asking that Big Bro be no more than 3 years older than Bona so around 4 years of age. We are currently trying to teach him to say “Big Brother” see the video.
video

·  We have someone to occupy our time while we wait!  Having Bona certainly changes the dynamic.  As I mentioned before we still want to have our son home as soon as possible but having Bona will remind us why the wait is worth it!
·  We are open to more medical issues.  Before Bona we didn't know if we could handle certain medical problems.  But now that we have a child that we love more than life itself we realize that would not change if he had a medical issue!  We won’t go into the details too much, but if it comes up we will pray pray pray for God to guide us and show us which issues we can handle and which issues would be better cared for by another family.
·  This time around we also know a lot more about Ethiopia and the conditions our son will most likely be living in, which give us more peace of mind.  Although they were not ideal (no orphanage is) they were pretty great considering.  Bona got lots of love and attention, was well fed and well cared for and we pray that our next child is receiving the same.  In fact every time we pray we ask God for someone to give our child a hug or kiss.  We will never know if that is happening but God can do many things so it certainly doesn't hurt to ask!
·  Big Bro will not come from the same care center that Bona was living. (Unless God has some crazy plan in store)
·  And lastly the biggest difference is that we have a completely different perspective on life. We had NO IDEA how madly and deeply we would love our son. Of course we assumed a lot of things but we really had no idea!  It is that love and that desire to share it with another child that is driving this adoption.   
So whether you are reading our blog for the first time or you have been following our journey from the beginning, we pray that you read this with an open heart.  We are sharing and have shared our journey because it is evidence of God’s amazing power and blessing.  We are ordinary but our story is extraordinary because of what God has orchestrated.  That the logistics of adoption are worked out is a miracle in and of itself.  Not to mention a hundred other stories we could tell of God’s amazing hand at work.  We have never felt the love of God has clearly and profoundly as we did through the process of adoption and that is why we share!  We can’t keep something like that to ourselves.  And most importantly the reason we share our experience on this blog is because we hope it will inspire others to consider adoption for their families as well.  It doesn’t matter how old, young, wealthy, poor, married not married, God calls us to care for the orphans, JAMES 1:27. We hope that our story will spark something in you to pray and ask God how he can use you to care for those less fortunate.  Just prepare yourself because he might ask for something pretty big in return.  And if you answer we promise you will never regret your choice to follow hard after the Lord!  So here we go again!  And we pray that some of you may consider starting the same journey yourself!

June 14, 2012

Thank you just isn't enough!


Today we come to the end of a long road.  And it feels like there is so much to say, to explain, to justify, to understand, to reconcile, and to celebrate. But that is not what is on our hearts. There is really no way to sum up this part of our journey until we first recognize all the people who have helped us get here.  We could not have done this without all of you walking along this very unpredictable, bumpy, and sometimes painful road with us.  And now that we are standing at the end looking back, we can’t help but see all the people standing behind us cheering us on and celebrating our new family.  And although it is easy to see you now, we know there were times that the road was too dark to see you.  But it is clear now that you were there all along!

To our prayers warriors we say thank you from the bottom of our hearts!  You are a part of one of God’s great miracles.  It has been 2 years and 3 months since we started this process.  We estimate that it has taken over 50 people in 2 countries from our home study to our final sign off to complete this adoption.  Several 100 pieces of paper, 1 judge, 4 sets of finger prints, 10 nannies, 1 social worker, 1 case worker, 2 adoption units, 3 drivers, and finally we became a family of 3!  If you don’t consider that a miracle, I am not sure what is.  And every single one of you helped make it possible.  We have always believed in the power of prayer, we have just never been so closely immersed in such a blanket of love and community. We just can’t say it enough, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!
"Thank you" in Amharic
To all of our family (blood and not, you know who you are) thank you for your support.  We know you were praying but you were also in the trenches with us.  From the support you showed when we first told you we were adopting to the preparations you are now making for our arrival, we thank God for you everyday!  You never judged us for the emotions we felt through out this process.  You grieved when we grieved you rejoiced when we rejoiced!  You didn’t always understand our emotions but you were there regardless.  You welcomed B into our family before we ever even knew his name.  You helped us prepare our home, our lives, and our hearts for a new addition!  To say that we are blessed is not enough, our cup runs over with immense joy.  We cannot wait to continue living life as a family of 3 because we know that B will be loved by so many!

Lastly we have to give an extra special thanks to Grandma Lisa.   She sacrificed a lot to be with us here in Ethiopia for a month.  The unconditional love and support you showed us can never be repaid!  Your willingness to put up with us was no easy task.  And the love you showed B is beyond what anyone deserves.  Without you and Grandpa Dennis this adoption would have been very difficult for us financially.  Your selflessness and generosity is unmatched by anyone we have ever known.  We can only pray that we will be as good of parents to B, as you are to us!

WE LOVE YOU ALL! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

June 8, 2012

8 lesson from my 8 month old


As my “cock-a-DUDE-all-doo” awoke me this morning with his squawks of joyful yelling I began to think about what it would look like if we all approached life with a more childlike attitude.  (In the name of full disclosure I will admit my demeanor and contemplativeness was not so happy when my little Dude awoke me at 10, 12 and 2 in the morning!)  So as I lay there for 30 minutes listening to the sound of B yell, talk, coo, and laugh I began compiling in my head all the lessons he has taught me in the last 2 weeks.  And because I found some of them challenging and profound I wanted to share them with you.  (And again in full disclosure, thinking about these wonderful things my son has taught also helps keep my mind off the wait!) 



So here they are:  8 lessons from my 8 month old

8. Don’t be afraid to find your voice.  And use it often once you do.

7. Make farting/ surbert noises with your mouth at inappropriate times.  It doesn’t matter how old you are, it will always be funny!

6. Eat when you are hungry and sleep when you are tired.

5. Laugh often!  Even if you have to fake it for a little while it almost always turns into real laughter.

4. Cry when you are sad or upset.  It is not a sign of weakness but an opportunity to show how much you need others.

3. Don’t be afraid to rely on people who are older and wiser than you.  They can teach you the ropes and help you avoid dangers that you may not understand yet.

2. Take time to play and interact with others.  Life is too short to be busy all the time.

1. Find joy in all circumstances.  Don’t let your surroundings determine your attitude.  If you have your family by your side and God in your heart you can tackle any challenge the world might bring.