Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Party of Five

And I DO mean PARTY!
We are celebrating at our house today. We passed court! "M" is officially our son!!! And since he is now officially, legally our son, I can tell you about him and show you pictures!

SO, without further ado... let me introduce you to our precious Ethiopian son, Mintesinot (Min-TESS-i-note):

His name means, "What can he not do?" Isn't he just beautiful? He is 9 years old, and will be turning 10 at the end of September. This is one of my favorite photos that we've received so far.

This is another favorite! We don't know where he got that outrageous hat, but from the looks of this picture he'll fit right in around here... he totally reminds me of Kyle in this photo! (In fact, when Bethany returned home from China, she had brought each of her brothers a funny hat!) The shirt he's wearing is one that we sent him, and the stickers all over the side of his bunk were from us as well. It looks like he used some of the stickers to write his name (in Amharic). Fun!

We are beyond excited. Unspeakably overjoyed. Ecstatic!! I'm sure some coherent words will come to me later, but for now I'm just stunned and overwhelmed with excitement. We are SO glad he's officially in our family. We will find out in the days ahead what our travel schedule will be. We hope to travel as SOON as possible, but it could be anywhere from 3-5 weeks or so. Our case worker is on her way to Addis Ababa even as I type, so she'll be getting back to us with specifics (and MORE pictures and video!!!) very soon.

OH, I'm just so happy. So very, very happy. He's so precious. And he's my son.

We are SO happy to be a "party of five." Yes, I did say "party." Here we are with our Ethiopian Cokes... the perfect beverage for today's celebration!

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of our whole family, for your prayers during this adoption and for this court date. Thank you for checking in on us via this blog and for your comments and emails of support. Knowing you have been praying and are continuing to support us in prayer on this journey blesses each one of us so much.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Almost Close

On our most recent trip to Ghana, we had to take a l-o-n-g bus ride. On top of that, it was a long bus ride that had immediately followed about 25 hours of air travel and layovers. I remember thinking it was taking us FOREVER to get to the little villages where we would be ministering for the week. Of course, we had no idea where we were going and were completely relying on our hosts and translators to get us there. All we could do was sit there for the ride, enjoy the scenery, and wonder how long it would take. One of our favorite quotes from that trip was when we had been riding for quite a long time and one of our sweet Ghanaian friends turned to Luke and I and said: "We ah almost close!"

We have felt "almost close" to this adoption being finalized for several weeks now. We had the first court date that wasn't. We had the second court date that was actually the first court date. We had the "stop-by-the-court-on-Monday" date yesterday, at which time they were given an appointment for Wednesday. Tomorrow (Wednesday, July 30) is the court appointment in which the judge will (we hope) finally render his decision! M could finally, officially be our son!!!!!! And I can post pictures of him!!!! And, most importantly, we can make plans to travel to bring him home!!!!!!!! (Sorry, I've had all those exclamation points in me for a few days and haven't let them all out yet. I feel better now...)

To be honest, this has been harder on me emotionally than I thought it would be. I remember when I had my first baby thinking how miserable it would be to go to the hospital thinking you were in labor only to be sent home due to false labor. I knew people that had happened to, and I remember praying that that wouldn't happen to me. Well, now I feel like I've been to the hospital and sent home three times!

Last Friday while I was feeling particularly discouraged, I happened to catch a glimpse of the ginormous 4-inch binders which hold the duplicates of ALL the paperwork we've compiled during this adoption. As I looked at those binders my mind went back to before Christmas when we were a 4+ inch stack of papers and many months away. As of last Friday we were finally 1 piece of paper and two days away. Now that the paper was deemed satisfactory on Monday we are no pieces of paper and potentially just a few hours away.

God's timing is perfect.

We are almost close!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Thank Goodness It's Funny

Okay, I am bummed.

Our court day news (below) was not what I was hoping for today.

Laughter is the best medicine, though, right? My son knew just what would crack me up... He pulled this up on his computer a few minutes ago and we've been watching this:

Court Day Update

First of all, thank you SO much for all of your prayers for our adoption court date today in Africa. Here is an opportunity to keep praying:

Apparently it went well today, but not completely well.

One of his documents has some wording that needs to be changed. The lawyers feel like they can get the appropriate document changed and back to the courts on Monday, at which time the judge will give his final decision.

We'll just keep praying and trusting in God's sovereignty!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Preparing My Heart

One year ago this weekend there was nothing notable going on in our family. A cursory glance at July 11, 2007 on my calendar shows blank squares. No appointments, nothing in particular to keep track of. I did not post anything on my blog that day. My July blog archives for 2007 show that we had just gotten back from a family trip to San Antonio, so I'm sure the days following our return involved laundry, unpacking, picking up mail, returning phone calls, resting, setting the house back in order. Nothing earth-shattering... the usual. I'm sure the kids and I spent time reading books and maybe going swimming, enjoying our summer and trying to stay cool in the typical triple-digit Texas heat.

While we were living our ordinary life, across the world something extraordinary was happening. How could we have known that what happened on July 11, 2007 in a sub-city of an African capitol would change our family forever? For it was on that day that a little 8-year-old boy arrived at an orphanage. It is hard to wrap my mind around what his little soul had been through in the years leading up to that day. There is much I do not know about him... yet... but I do know that on that day last summer, he arrived at a place with the word "Hope" in its name. In the midst of a journey marked with loss and pain, someone took him by the hand, he crossed the threshold of Hope and started a new chapter in his life.

As I imagine that day in his life, I have so many questions: Did he cry? If he did, did anyone wrap their arms around him and tell him it would be okay? Were they tender with him as they brought him there? Was he able to sleep that night, or the first few nights? Was the boy who is now his best friend already there, or was he the only boy his age? Did he bring anything with him? Was he scared? Did he have any idea his life would never be the same?

I don't know what he did last Friday, one year later. I do know that on the one year anniversary of his arrival at the orphanage, by God's grace, he had in his possession a book of pictures of a family who is eagerly waiting to come for him. That precious little boy who just a few months ago told someone he really wants a family because he "wants to belong," should receive in the coming days a DVD with messages from his new family telling him how precious he is and that he belongs with us. Sometime this week he should receive his care package, filled with as many goodies and as much love as I could fit in it, along with notes from each of us telling him what an important part of our family he already is. And that beautiful boy, living in a place called "Hope," can begin catching glimpses of what hope looks like.

Of course, I have been praying about our upcoming court date, July 25. As I have been praying about it, I have continued to have the phrase "Prepare your heart" go through my mind. Every time I pray about our court date, I "hear" the words: Prepare your heart. Prepare your heart. To be honest, I don't know what that means. Prepare my heart for what? A positive outcome? A negative one? Something devastating? Something joyful? And how, exactly do I prepare it?

SO...the next two weeks - the weeks between the anniversary of his arrival at the orphanage and our July 25 court date - I will be spending some time preparing my heart. Or, more accurately, laying my heart before the Lord and letting Him prepare it. I will be taking a break from this blog (and the computer in general) to spend more time seeking Him and praying for our upcoming court proceedings. Our family covets your prayers during this time as well. If you feel led, please pray that God would prepare all of our hearts, and prepare M's as well, for whatever is in store.

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog, and for your prayers!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Trusting the Unseen

So much of what is going on in my life right now, especially concerning our adoption, is unseen. Unseen people doing unseen things with unseen papers in a country we've never been in, all so that we can adopt a child we've never met. Of course, all of those places and people can be seen by someone, as they do exist in the "natural" realm. Still, there is remains an element of "trusting the unseen" in all of this.

Of course, I am trusting in the One Whom I know to be real (though He remains unseen) to guide and direct it all. The degree to which I'm really trusting Him is what effects my stress level each day, I suppose. Admittedly, that's a struggle for me at times. SO much of this process is "unseen," at least by me. I know that someone, somewhere (and most of all the Someone Who's everywhere) sees it... but I can't see it. And some days that's maddening. But it needn't be, and shouldn't be. And it remains a great object lesson for the Christian walk.

Amy Carmichael, in her book Gold By Moonlight, says:

"No Christian man or woman was ever meant to walk on the natural plane. There is no provision made for such a walk. Always, God's promise is that His child will break through and live and endure as if he were seeing only the workings of the invisible world, not fixed on physical senses. God himself made full provision for us to live this way: 'My grace is more than enough...' (2 Corinthians 12:9)"

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Glory in the "Now"

"Whatever your circumstance is right now, and whatever mine is, we have the immediate opportunity for defeating Satan and bringing glory to God. How? First, by whispering to Him, "I love You and trust You," and asking that He increase that trust and love. Second, by longing for an increase of truth within us as we say, "Not my will but Thine be done" in the middle of this period of exhaustion, this anxiety, this particular shock, this prison, this wheelchair, this set of bandages on our eyes, this kind of frustration, this pile of dirty dishes, this lack of understanding, this attack by friends, this disappointment, this accident, this unbearable monotony, this unending succession of changes. Whatever the immediate "now" is made up of, it is not "after this is over" that we will have an opportunity to do something important for the Lord."
- Edith Schaeffer, Affliction

Monday, July 07, 2008

Monday's Menu and Minute Management

Happy Monday!

I love the flexibility of our summer schedule... when we make other "spur of the moment" plans for dinner, what I planned gets bumped right into the next week! This week was easy to put together for that very reason.

My sous-chef-son helped me make this plum pie last week and it was delicious. We also loved the Georgia Peach Chicken Sandwiches as well. (Now that I think of it, I don't think I've ever made a Rachel Ray recipe that we didn't like!)

So, here's our plan for this week... (For more menu plans, recipes and some great organizing tips to try this summer, visit Laura at

Monday: Summer Squash Chicken Alfredo, salad, garlic bread
Tuesday: Asian Salad (modified per the advice of the second review (to reduce fat), with chicken and mandarin oranges), green bean "sticks" on the grill
Wednesday: grilled pork chops, rice, grilled lemon-pepper zucchini
Thursday: YO-YO ("You're on you're own"/ leftovers)
Friday: crock pot BBQ short ribs, corn on the cob, carrots, fresh green beans

The past couple of Mondays I've shared passages out of Elizabeth George's book I'm re-reading, A Woman After God's Own Heart. Since today's topic is planning, here are 12 excellent tips about time management. I've been reviewing this list and implementing some of them myself in recent days. Very helpful.

1. Plan in detail. I have found this to be helpful in all areas... writing it down.
2. Deal with today. As she points out, "Jesus himself said, "Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about its own things."... God also says, "This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." Excellent advice in my opinion, especially following #1. Plan for tomorrow, but deal with today.
3. Value each minute. "Are you facing a two-minute task or a 20 minute one? Decide if the task is the best use of the time. And how much is a minute worth? It's priceless or worthless- depending on how you use it."
4. Keep moving. (SO hard for me!) "A body at rest tends to stay at rest, a body in motion tends to remain in motion." She says, "Use this law of physics to your advantage. Tell yourself, 'Just one more thing... Just five more minutes." Keep moving and you can cross one more thing off your "to do" list!"
5. Develop a routine. "Trying to do the same thing at the ame time each day conserves and generates energy. It conserves energy by cutting down on indecision. You perform menial tasks by rote. It generates energy through habit- the habit of expecting to make phone calls, plan the meals, read the paper, attend a class, or go to a meeting- at a particular time." Not all of our tasks fit into a routine, but putting as many of them as possible into a routine would be helpful. I'm working on this.
6. Exercise and diet. "Studies show that exercise increases metabolism, creates energy, causes you to sleep better, and produces pleasure hormones which contribute to positive attitudes, joy in life, and a general lust for life." Also, "diet" simply means "a way of life." "Develop a dietary 'way of life' that gives you the energy and health you need to accomplish God's best.
7. Ask the "half-the-time" question- "If my life depended upon doing this task in half the time I have allotted, what shortcuts would I take?" Then take them.
8. Use a timer for everything. Her reasoning, "Setting the timer for 'just five minutes' can get you started; setting the timer for 'I'll quit in five minutes' can keep you going." (I understand this, but I haven't done it yet. I'm afraid hearing the seconds ticking all day would make me want to set my hair on fire.)
9. Do the worst first. We do this in school... everyone picks their least favorite subject and tackles it first. Hey, if it works for math, surely it can work for folding laundry!
10. Read daily on time management. I've started by going over this list everyday. A couple of other great resources are Shopping for Time and More Hours in My Day.
11. Say no. Just for fun, practice saying it out loud right now. "NO." Didn't that feel good?
12. Begin the night before. Very, very helpful. There are so many things that can be done "the night before" and it blesses me so much the next day when I've done that!

Hopefully these time management have helped you (and maybe even challenged you) like they have me. Summer can be a lazy and relaxed time, but the schedule of fall is on the horizon! This is a great time to practice some time management techniques when there is somewhat less to manage, getting a system in place that is ready for the demands that a busier schedule will bring us in just a few weeks.

Have a blessed Monday and a wonderful week!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

An Oscillating Fan

When I reflect back on my childhood, many images pop into my head: Being in church whenever the church doors were open. Summers at a rented cabin in Colorado. Ski trips. Family friends. German Shepherds. Piano lessons. Saturday morning cartoons. And, always... ALWAYS... the Dallas Cowboys.

My parents are ardent Cowboys fans. Like you wouldn't believe. My husband frequently likes to watch the NFL channel and at times they replay classic Cowboy games from the 1970's. When I see Tom Landry on the sidelines wearing his trademark hat or hear the announcer say "Staubach," I'm immediately transported back in time. Just the sound of one of those games is the soundtrack of my childhood Sunday afternoons/ Monday nights. My parents even bought a blue and silver van once, and I (then, in the thick of my teen years) held my hands over my eyes when they brought it home, afraid to look at it because I just KNEW it would be one of the ones with a Cowboys helmet or blue star on the side. It wasn't. But I wouldn't have been surprised.

Alack and alas, despite their best attempts to instill a strong faith in me for my hometown team and to "train me up in the way I should go"... my parents ended up with a "fair weather fan" in their only daughter. My brother has always remained faithful (so thankfully they didn't have two wayward children) but during the 80's I drifted away. Friends became more important to me. I didn't live for the Cowboys at all. One might have never have even known I came from a Cowboy home.

Well, then the 90's "dynasty" came, and once I finally got over the fact the Tom was no longer the coach and they began winning Super Bowls again... I was back. I had my own child by then and it was time to return to what I had always known. The "weather was good" so I was a Cowboy fan once more. But, as with most mountaintop experiences, this was not to last, and when the pressures of life returned and they stopped winning as much, I drifted once more.

Then there was last season. We were so close! I just knew we would go to the Super Bowl, and this time I rooted for them as hard as I could because... well, because if Dallas was in the Super Bowl my husband and I had predetermined that we would cancel Awana for that night. (Oh, how I desperately wanted a week off!) I cheered them on wholeheartedly, and felt a faint flicker, a reminder of what I had once known to be true deep in my soul. Sadly, it was not to last.

So, what's it going to be this season? Has my fire returned? Will I once again go back to what my family of origin instilled in me and be the Cowboys fan I was raised to be?

OH yeah.

And (besides another shot at a night off of Awana) here's one of the main reasons why: DeMarcus Ware.

Here is his precious family:

And here is their incredible story.