Saturday, May 31, 2008

Home, Safe and Sound

Thank you to all who prayed our sweet daughter home. She arrived at the airport at around 10:30 last night, bleary-eyed but doing great!

She got an adorable short(er) haircut while she was there, and I swear she looks like she's grown in two weeks. We got home and since her "inner clock" felt like it was about noon the next day, we stayed up talking non-stop until we both fell asleep in her bed well after 1:00 AM. We got up this morning bright and early and continued chattering away while I made her favorite muffins. Now the washing machine is whirring, washing all of the "China" out of her clothes.

But, it is forever in her heart.

And it's so fun to hear about it, seeing it through her eyes and experiencing it through her. I know the stories will continue to tumble out over the coming weeks, so I will keep making muffins and listening intently...while I stare at this ever-maturing, fascinating young woman who I'm blessed to call my daughter.

So, thank you for your prayers leading up to and throughout this trip. They were truly felt!

Friday, May 30, 2008

63 F

I'll try not to get as nostalgic as last time... but it's hard! My baby is coming home! After her almost-6-week trip away a couple of years ago, this two weeks has gone by fast! She called before she left her city and said she wants to see all of us, but doesn't want to leave China. I totally understand. When we were there last year she didn't want to leave at all. Every year her Chinese gets better, her friendships grow deeper, and she is able to see more and more fruit. Thank you SO much for praying her there, and lifting her up while she's been there. It's been a phenomenal trip for her and the rest of the team. The last update I received, 12 students had become Christ followers! They had numerous opportunities to encourage new Christians and share their faith with those who had never heard the name of Jesus. Your prayer had a part in all of that! And I can't wait to hear all about it IN PERSON!!!

I spoke to her last at about 3:30 AM our time. She's over the Pacific now, sitting in seat 63 F, in a plane flown by Captain Robert Phyllis. She will be home at around 10:15 tonight, but I'll stop breathing into a paper bag when she calls me from LA this afternoon/ evening. :)

Here is the scripture I pray when we fly, inserting our names for "Jeshurun":

"There is no one like the God of [Bethany],
who rides on the heavens to help [her]
and on the clouds in his majesty.

The eternal God is your refuge,
and underneath are the everlasting arms."

Deut. 33:26-27 (NKJV)

There is nothing like knowing that God's everlasting arms are beneath our children, wherever they are!

**Update** She is now in LA, has gone through customs, and is with the team at Chili's having a much-needed Dr. Pepper. (We always CRAVE those when we're gone!) We'll see her in just a few hours! Thank you for your prayers!

**Updated Update** Now she's in her seat (21 C) on her last flight! She's almost home!!! We're headed out to go see our beautiful new niece and then head to the airport. Fun!


During my weeks-long "blog fog," I have neglected to post my thoughts on the chapters in Martha Peace's book, The Excellent Wife, the current book in Leslie's Lux Venit Reading Group. The past few chapters have been SO good, as have the posts of the other participants in the book discussion. I would encourage you to go to Leslie's blog and read some of the posts on previous chapters. Better yet, if you have not read the book I encourage you to read it. So, so helpful!

As my title indicates, this week's chapter deals with the subject of respecting your husband. I love the chapter title, "Respect: A Wife's Reverence."

Recently my daughter was reading a book (I don't recall the title), sort of a "what-you-should-know-about-guys" book (of the appropriate variety-I assure you!) She told me that one of the things she thought was interesting was a poll among young men in which the majority of young men surveyed said they would rather be respected by a girl than loved by a girl. I don't know exactly what all of the implications of that are, or what point the book made about it, but that shows me that a man's need to be respected starts young. It is vital.

It is so vital, that by the time that young man grows up and has a wife, his wife is actually commanded to respect him. Ephesians 5:33 says,
"...let the wife see to it that she respect her husband."

Peace gives 5 biblical principles regarding this:
1. The wife is to respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33
2. The wife is to respect his position. 1 Corinthians 11:3
3. The wife is to act in a respectful manner. Proverbs 31:23
4. The wife is to reprove her husband respectfully. Colossians 4:6
5. The wife who is disrespectful may experience severe consequences. Galatians 6:1

As I read over the above list, I realize that it sounds a bit textbooky, or even perhaps rigid or unpleasant. I hate to admit it, but there was a time early in my married life that if I had read a list like that I would have said "No WAY am I reading THAT book!" I am so thankful that by God's grace, His Biblical guidelines for my life and marriage no longer read in a distasteful way to me. I can see how His plan and His design are for my good and His glory. And I have seen the fruit of this in my own marriage.

As I read this chapter and saw how she expanded on the above five points, I was reminded again how blessed I truly am to be married to my precious husband. If you are reading this and you know my husband, you can probably imagine how easy it is for me to respect him. He is a very "respect-worthy" man. In fact, I would say that probably everyone who knows him respects him. But not everyone who knows him is commanded to respect him, as I am. And not everyone who knows and respects him has blown it in this area as much as I have! In fact, I'd feel better about how often I've blown it if he were a little more of a jerk.

Martha Peace doesn't mince words. That's why I like her. She says, "Respecting your husband is not an option for you if you want to be in God's will." Just how far out of God's will do you want to be? I know I don't want to be one millimeter out of it! So, what if, for the sake of argument, he *is* a jerk and not worthy of respect? She correctly reminds us that "The respect is to the position, not necessarily to the personality. It will also help you to remember that you yourself did not have even one favorable attribute or talent that God did not give you."

Since I've been typing this entire post with Aretha Franklin's song going through my head, I thought I would "spell out" some of Peace's points from this chapter. You can hum if you want to. :)

R- Respect is not an option if you want to be in God's will.
E- Edifying words, spoken kindly and in a gentle tone of voice, are a righteous way to show respect and love to your husband if he has sinned or failed in some area.
S- "Sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness." (Proverbs 16:21)
P- Positionally he is in a place of respect. (1 Cor. 11:3)
E- Emotions need never cause you to sin... God will never "allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able..." (1 Cor. 10:13)
C- Children are told to honor their fathers... if you are disrespectful to your husband, your children will likely acquire the same attitude and you could cause them to stumble in this area.
T-Treating your husband with respect is not something that your husband must first earn, it is something that you choose to show him.

For an excellent chapter summary and more thoughts from other reading group members, visit Leslie at Light Came.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Psalm 119 Day

Did you know that if you read 5 Psalms a day, you read through the book of Psalms each month? The technique I use, which I've discovered is quite popular, is to start with the Psalm which corresponds with the day of the month. Then, add 30 and read that one. Add 30 again, read that one... and so on. (This also sharpens your math skills - bonus!) Couple that with reading a Proverb a day (since there are 31 of those) and there's a built-in daily devotional, easy to remember!

According to that reading plan, today is Psalm 119 day. The l-o-n-g-e-s-t Psalm. 176 verses! Not only that, but it's 176 verses of the Psalmist extoling God's commands, promising to keep His statutes, reminding God how he has kept His law, thanking God for His precepts, and telling how he has committed them to his heart and memory. Depending on where I am in my "walk" at any given time and how closely I myself have been "delighting in" God's precepts, Psalm 119 is either a joy for me to read( as I nod my head in agreement) or hard for me to read as I think "Boy, I wish I could say that..."
Do I truly "delight in" his statutes? (v. 16) Do I meditate on His precepts and regard His ways? (v. 15) Do I "not forget" His word? Have I "promised to keep" his words? (v. 57) And on and on. Each verse either confirms or convicts what is going on in my heart. As a result, I have found Psalm 119 to be an effective monthly "check up."

I would encourage you to take some time to read through Psalm 119 today. Even better would be to pray through Psalm 119:

If His laws and precepts are not "your delight," ask Him to fulfill His promise to "enlarge your heart." (v. 32)

If you've been struggling to keep His Word (or even to read it lately) pray verse 17-18:

"Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word.
Open my eyes, that I may behold
Wonderful things from Your law."

If it's hard for you to joyfully read His commands, because of your own disobedience, or because you are grieving over a certain situation, pray verse 28-29:

"My soul weeps because of grief;
Strengthen me according to Your word.
Remove the false way from me,
And graciously grant me Your law."

If it's hard to even focus on God's precepts lately because of earthly, temporal cares, pray verse 37:
"Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity,
And revive me in Your ways."

If you are currently in a time of trial or "affliction," thank Him for using it to bring you close to Him. Let this affliction cause you to turn to His perfect Word. You can pray verse 67-68:

"Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep Your word.
You are good and do good;
Teach me Your statutes."

I am reminded of the powerful words in 1 John 5:3~

"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments;
and His commandments are not burdensome."

His commands are NOT a burden. His commands, His precepts and guidelines lead to life and true freedom! For those of us in Christ, our "boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places" and we have a "delightful inheritance" because of it. (Psalm 16:6) Our loving God has given us His precepts for our good, and He gives us the grace to live according to them for His great glory.

Psalm 119 gives us 176 reminders that this is so.

Have a blessed day!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Just seeing and celebrating the glory of God where it shows up..."

There are still no words. But watching this blessed me.

Works-for-me Wednesday: Daily "To-do's"

I haven't done a WFMW in awhile... I used to do them weekly, but it's so hard to think of something to post. I feel like it's all been thought of!

Well, maybe this idea's been thought of, too, but I decided to post it anyway.

Shannon posted today about her chore chart, and even has one to download. So helpful! We have a similar chart of rotating chores that we've used for years, and one of my first WFMW posts was about the signs in each room on the back of the doors that tell each of them "this room is clean when you have..." Those have helped as well.

Well, this is a list of "chores" of a different kind that I developed this year, for all of us, daily. This school year these became part of their daily "assignments" (and mine, too!)

Each day at our house you must do:
  • Something musical (practicing an instrument, listening to something *good*)
  • Something physical (treadmill, any form of exercise, dancing around to music, etc)
  • Something outdoors (Yes, even if it's freezing, raining, or 110 degrees. Even just going to get the mail.)
  • Something that serves/blesses someone else (for no other reason other than... it blesses them. Chores don't count.)
Although they have studied various instruments in the past in the past, neither of my kids are currently taking any type of formal music lessons, but I feel that a daily encounter with music is important... so they can noodle around on a recorder, guitar, piano or drums, or listen to something classical. On days when there is no sports practice, they still need to do some sort of physical exercise. Since we homeschool, if we don't have an outside activity that day, we might not go outside at all, and that's not healthy! So, even if it's just sitting on the porch breathing fresh air or throwing the tennis ball with the dog, get outside for awhile. And we should all try to bless someone else daily, multiple times per day. Of course, these can be combined... weeding the flower bed is outside and it blesses mom. Riding a bike is exercise and outside. Dancing around to fun music is musical and physical.

All four of those things sound simple, and perhaps are activities that are already part of family life, but I have found especially with older kids (and moms!) and a busy schedule, things get overlooked. And all four of these are a key part of proper physical, mental, and spiritual health. No charts or allowances are tied to this "list" but it has helped us all to not forget these key areas of life, and to build them in as daily habits. And that works for us!

For more great tips, visit Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer. Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I miss her!

I know she's where she's supposed to be, doing what she loves... but I miss my girl!

Thank you SO much to all of you who have been praying for Bethany as she is on a mission trip in China. She has been calling about every other day and texting some. (Yes! We can even text! I love technology!)

She is *totally* in her element. She has had some powerful conversations (even partially in Chinese!) with lots of young people/ college students. They have had a wonderful beach party and also participated in a LARGE concert, where one of the very talented guys on the team (who is the worship leader at one of our church's campuses) led P&W music. (Isn't that amazing? P&W music in an outdoor venue in China!!) She and some others performed a puppet show that we've done in previous years, which was apparently it was a hit as well. They also got to sing on stage. She said they were even asked to sign autographs afterwards! There were supposedly hundreds, if not a thousand people there. I am so excited that so many heard the wonderful message that they are there to tell! Praise God! Every time she calls she excitedly tells of some wonderful open doors and effective conversations. God is at work!

But, I miss her. She's only 14 after all. ;) I've been wondering if this gets any easier when they are in college. But, I doubt it.

She'll be home late Friday night, and I have to admit... I can't wait!

(Oh-- and our dossier is in Africa now. Yey!! So, my heart has been all over the place this week!)


What do you think? Isn't it cute? Thank you Lindsay for updating my look and switching me over (yes, I've been in the old blogger this whole time!)

A new look for summer is just what I needed! If anyone needs any updating, I highly recommend Lindsay. She is awesome!

**Update** I've figured out there is a whole world out there that you might not see unless your browser is Firefox, LOL. If you're on IE you might not see my signature, and there might be a dashed line under each post. I'm not sure how to fix this... oh well. ;)

Monday, May 26, 2008

To Whom Honor Is Due

"Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed."
Romans 13:7

Thank you.

Thank you to my Dad, my Grandad, my great-uncles, my dad's cousins... two of whom have lost sons in recent months. Thank you to those brave young soldiers. Thank you Ron. Thank you, Paul (and congratulations on your promotion to Lt. Colonel!) Thank you to my great (x 7) grandfather Thomas who fought in the Revolutionary War.

How we are indebted to all, past and present, who willingly put their lives in harm's way for our freedom, and for the freedom of those around the world. How we are indebted to their families who let them go.

We honor you today. Thank you.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Sad Day

Please be praying for the Chapman family, as they are dealing with the unthinkable. I simply cannot begin to imagine what they are going through. My heart is so, so heavy for them. They have been on my mind and in my prayers constantly since I received this news last night.

There has been a blog set up here to see a precious video of Maria and to express condolences.

"We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
And we can grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
There's a place where we'll see your face again
We'll see your face again..."
from the song With Hope, by Steven Curtis Chapman

Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday Mourning, Meme, and Menu

Our sweet daughter safely made it to her city in China. Thank you, THANK YOU to all who have been praying for her. I tell ya, it's SO hard to say goodbye to her on the phone in L.A., knowing that she's about to be unreachable for many hours until she gets to China. When she went in 2006, I was not prepared for the feelings that gripped me during that time. I was prepared this time, and it made it a bit easier. In fact, I was thinking I was pretty "together" until I heard her little voice from Hong Kong yesterday evening. Once I was able to hear her and talk to her, a flood of relief washed over me and brought with it a massive flood of tears! I knew then that I had been more anxious than I had realized. God is so good. The same strong hand that is holding her is holding her mother!

She emailed during the night last night, and then called this morning from her city. She is there, safe and sound, with our sweet friends, the family with whom she will be staying. She wrote me that they were out eating yesterday when China started its official three-day period of mourning. She said the air raid sirens went off, traffic stopped, and the TV where they were eating began broadcasting the observance from different cities in China. Here is a video I found that may be what she saw. As I watched it, I was moved to tears and moved to pray for the victims' families. What a hurting, hurting country. How they need Jesus.

As much as I miss her, I am so glad she's there! I know she is in the palm of God's hand, loving people that He loves, bringing them His message of hope. May she and the team plant many, many seeds in the next two weeks. She is getting some much-needed horizontal rest now (as opposed to vertically, on a plane!) and they will prayer walk an area of the city in the morning (about 6 PM our time tonight.) I will be praying, too.


My sweet friend Kim tagged me for a fun meme over at her beautiful new adoption blog. Now that I seem to be coming out of the blog-fog I've been in for the past few weeks, this is a perfect time to "play." Thanks for tagging me, Kim!

Favorite person (outside family)? Well, my first thought is of the sweet friends God has put in my life. They are each my favorite person! I hope that answer is not a cop out!

Favorite food? Tex-Mex. Oh, my. I ate so much when I was pregnant, my kids' first words were "Be careful, the plate is very hot."

Quirks about you? I talk to my dog. And he talks back. Also, I sneeze quite loudly. My sweet son just used the word "howitzer" to describe my sneezes. I feel so dainty.

How would the person who loves you most describe you in ten words or less? From my husband just now via email: "Not necessarily in order...passionate, caring, loving, wise, beautiful, creative, friendly, intuitive, nurturing, grounded" (Thankfully he didn't use the word "howitzer.")

Any regrets in life? Foolish thinking in my teenage/college years. Sadly, I could've been a case study for the books "Lies Women Believe" and "Lies Young Women Believe". But that's another post for another day...

Favorite Charity/ Cause? The non-profit of which my husband is the president. It's wonderful, but I don't want to link it here because the website links to our last name and town. If you're one of my friends and interested, email me!

Favorite Blog recently? One of my recent favorites is Heart, Mind and Seoul. It is somewhat hard to read, but she tackles some of the tougher issues surrounding transracial adoption.

Something you can’t get enough of? Junior Mints and foot rubs (Not necessarily at the same time, but now that I see the two written together, that might be my idea of heaven!)

Worst job you've ever had? Handing out samples at a grocery store (while in college, working for a temp agency)

What job would you pay NOT to have? school bus driver

If you could be a fly on the wall, where? If I were a fly capable of time travel, I'd have loved to be on the wall when Elisabeth Elliot went to visit Corrie ten Boom.

Favorite Bible verse right now? "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." 2 Cor. 9:8

Guilty Pleasure? Pedicures and massages - but I hardly ever get either one... I have two gift certificates for massages that I've been hoarding, though, because I don't want to use them up!

If you HAD to spend $1,000 on YOURSELF, how would you spend it? iPhones for myself and my cute husband, and spend the rest on biweekly pedicures.

Favorite thing about your house? The location. We are just the right proximity to our friends, family, church, and activities.

Least favorite thing about your house? The half wall upstairs allows NOISE to travel downstairs when we have people over. But it lets me eavesdrop on the kids and their friends, so it's good, too. ;) Also, I have a tiny laundry room.

One thing you are bad at? Keeping up with the laundry. Oh my.

One thing you're good at? My son just said "homeschooling." Of course, he's not doing any school at the moment.

If you could change something about your circumstances, what? I would be in Africa bringing home our new son. I guess we would have to have a layover in China so his big sister could join us!

Who would you like to meet someday? Our African son and his extended birth family.

Who is your real life hero? Our African son's first parents.

What is the hardest part of your job? Being consistent. As a homeschooling mom, consistency in discipline, schoolwork, running the household, etc. is key. That's hard for me as I naturally tend towards procrastinating and flying by the seat of my pants. :)

When are you most relaxed? In the evenings during/after dinner when everyone's home.

What stresses you out? My children being in other countries. Without me. ;)

What can you not live without? my Bible, coffee, and iTunes. In that order.

Why do you blog? To reflect on what I'm learning and what we're doing, to update friends and family if we're traveling, to refine my thoughts, to purge my brain (because, you know, there's so much in there...) and to remind myself of what we're having for dinner if I posted our menu that week. ;) Also, I've met some wonderful women that I wouldn't have met otherwise.

Who Am I Tagging?

New/Newer bloggers- Kristin, V

Bloggy friends- Linda at Middle Years, Deidre at For Such a Time as This

Bloggers you’d like to get to know better- YOU if you're reading this and have a blog!

Bloggers who you don't think will respond, but you hope will- :::shamelessly copying Kim's answer::: I'm not sure who to put for this one! If you read this and want to play along, consider yourself tagged!

1. Answer the questions
2. Link back to whoever tagged you
3. Tag eight bloggers to do the same, 2 from each category.
New/ newer bloggers (since we want to share the love and send them traffic)
Bloggy friends
Bloggers you’d like to get to know better
Bloggers you don’t think will respond, but you hope will

Well, that was fun! Long, but fun!


Monday: Grilled pork chops, baked potatoes, green beans

Tuesday: Bar-b-cups, peas, macaroni

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: pan-fried tilapia, broccoli cheese casserole, salad

Friday: taco soup

For more menus, visit


I hope you have a blessed week!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

51 C

Two years ago, I posted this picture:

That was Bethany's first plane ride, 11 years ago. I remember thinking as we dropped her off at the airport (in 2006) and said goodbye to her before she went through security, that that's what she still looked like to me. My little girl. With her adventurous spirit and a Barbie backpack, eager to get on a plane and see the world. When this photo was taken in 1997 she needed her mom to take her through the airport and show her how to board a plane. Fast forward (and I do mean fast!) a few short years and this is what I saw yesterday:

A young woman of 14, as adventurous as ever but with a Swiss Army backpack instead of a Barbie one, who can navigate her way through airports and find her own seat on the plane, eager to fly to whatever God has waiting for her across the world! I still saw glimpses of that first picture in my mind's eye as I watched her. I suppose I always will!

I kept snapping photographs until it became too awkward, marveling at what God has done with our little girl. She is traveling to China with a group of top notch college students led by one of our church's campus pastors. As I look over their schedule for the upcoming two weeks, I am struck by the amazing opportunities that lay before them. She will be staying with our dear friends who are missionaries there, but also working alongside the college team as much as she can. She will speak to small groups of students at a college campus, do a couple of puppet shows, make new friendships and see some of the girls she met last year. She has been corresponding with one college-aged girl, a young believer, over the past year. A few months ago this friend, "Jessie," emailed her that she was "counting the days" until she returned to China. She is eager to meet with Jessie and others and encourage them in their faith. I am so excited for this opportunity for her!

Yesterday before we said our final "goodbye" I observed her from a distance. There are 15 students, the pastor and his wife, and our little Bethany. (I say "little..." she looked little to me!) I prayed silently that she would be seated with one of the other girls on the team and that she could start making some friendships with her teammates and not feel left out. The mother's heart in me was thinking of her comfort and her security, so I asked God to please help her have just the right seat mate for the flight to LA.

Well, she did have the perfect seat mate. When she called me from LA, she was bubbling with excitement about who she had sat by. She sat next to a 19 year old Chinese young man who attends university in the US, on his way home to Hong Kong for the summer. He is an atheist, as are his parents. Additionally, he is a science major. She said they had a wonderful discussion of his beliefs, and then she got to share her own, as she put it, "from creation to salvation!" She said he was incredibly interested in what she had to say and wants to stay in touch via email. She gave him some of the information she had with her, and he was very glad to have it. He said his parents would respect whatever he decided to believe. She gave me his name, "Han" and said, "Isn't it neat that people will be praying for Han and he doesn't even know it?" So, would you be praying for Han as he takes steps toward learning the Truth? I have prayed that God will continue to put believers in his path. (I have also prayed that he will see the movie "Expelled." :) So, I'm glad God didn't answer my prayer to put her next to a teammate on her first flight.

At this moment she is now somewhere over the Pacific. She's still not seated next to a team mate, but she said, "That's okay... I've got an aisle seat, and that's what I prayed for!" Would you please be praying for that little girl in aisle seat 51C, in a plane flown by Captain Phillip Thomas? (We always note the name of the Captain when he comes on the intercom, so we can pray for him and his crew specifically.) She will be arriving in her city sometime a little after 10:10 PM our time tonight.

Yesterday was also Kyle's 12th birthday! We celebrated Friday by going to see the new Narnia movie, and then had cake and presents over lunch yesterday before taking Bethany to the airport. We wanted to stay in the vicinity of the airport until she actually boarded the plane (which was about 3 hours later) so it was a perfect time to go to one of his Favorite Places On Earth: Bass Pro Shop. Here he is where I knew he would end up, the golf section:

From there we grabbed a bite to eat and then ended up at Barnes and Noble where I got a skinny latte and grabbed a beautiful copy of this month's National Geographic magazine featuring China, and this month's Christianity Today featuring articles about urban Christianity in China. There are fascinating articles about it here, here and here.

While we were at Barnes and Noble, sweet Bethany called to let us know she was in her seat on the plane. Once we left the airport area we headed to the hospital where Luke's sister and husband and our new niece are. Maylee was born this past Wednesday but is in the NICU due to respiratory problems. We each got to go in and see her, and for the second time that day I prayed over a precious little girl, trusting God to wrap His loving arms around her. Would you be in prayer for Maylee as well? Luke's sister checks out of the hospital today and they will be staying in a nearby hotel while they wait for their little one to be released.

We also finished all of the pictures for our photo book yesterday. That's the last "piece" of our adoption dossier that we need to compile before we send it to Africa this week. We took a family picture in front of our house with our family holding a big banner, "Welcome M______" Today I will be hanging that banner over his bed, and the thought occurred to me how cool that would be if someone brings that same banner to the airport in a few weeks (months?) when we come home with him. We're getting closer!

Thank you SO much for your prayers for our family. It seems we have so much going on right now! Every single one of them, though, is an answer to our prayers. God is so good.

Please pray for the girl in seat 51 C!!!

Monday, May 12, 2008

A (Long) Update

I've been thinking I'd be able to compose a really brilliant, well-worded post. I've been waiting for it to come, actually. Snippets of sentences or powerful words would come into my head (of course, at times when I was far from a computer keyboard or even a pencil), and just as quickly they have vanished.


Here's my adoption update post that I've been struggling to write for the past few weeks. I'm not sure what words will come tumbling out, but here they come!

Apparently it started when we walked through the doors of our agency and sat down in an informational meeting (with one other couple) about the new program for the country we had chosen for our adoption. At that meeting, we were handed four sheets of paper, each containing a picture and information about an older, waiting boy who was at our agency's orphanage in Ethiopia. I looked at each boy's picture (two are 5 years old, two are age 9) lingering over their precious faces, one by one. As I did, I read the information and said a silent prayer that God would handpick just the right families for each of them. Then I tucked the sheets into my folder and settled in to hear how we could adopt a baby. A baby girl.

As the weeks progressed and we got further into our paperwork, we would eventually expand the age range from "12 months and under" to "up to 5 years." Wow, God was really working in our hearts! As we progressed even further (fervently praying all the while) we increased the number from 1 child to 2 children, in order to be open to siblings. Well, what if that sibling were a boy? Of course. So, we changed our preference to include a boy sibling. Okay. A baby/toddler/preschool girl and her sister (even brother !) if she had one. That was that.

Or was it?

All the while I had had those four sheets of paper. All along I kept looking at those faces, praying for those dear boys. We received permission from our agency to duplicate the pages and distribute them to people personally (not electronically). We prayerfully gave their pictures to families whom we knew were praying about adoption, and one family in particular whom we knew had been considering an older child. I posted their pictures in our Sunday School room, confident that someone in our class would consider adopting one of them. All the while, we pursued our little girl. And her sister/brother if she had one. Under 5 years old.

A few weeks ago, I was feeling particularly burdened after some of my adoption reading. My burden was for older, waiting children. Orphans are clearly the least, the last and the lonely. But older children, particularly older boys, are truly the last. The last chosen. They wait and watch while families come and go, taking the babies. One article I read began,

"Waiting for a child is extremely hard and emotionally draining, particularly when it seems that everyone else has what you want the most - a baby. But stop and think about how it must feel to be a child with no family. There are millions of children in our world who desperately need a home. Most of these children are not infants, but they are still young enough to need holding, cuddling, security and most of all, they need love. They need parents to read them a bedtime story, to teach them to ride a bike, to hold them when they are hurt, kiss them good night and make them feel safe and special."

"Just how old do you have to be," I wondered to myself, "to outgrow the need for parents, the need to be held when you are hurt, to be tucked in at night, and to be made to feel safe and special? When do you outgrow your need for love? A mother's love? A family?" Through my prayers and in reading many articles/books about adoption issues, my heart began to be more and more tender for these older, waiting boys.

One morning as I was working around the house, I was making my bed and I asked God out loud, "Why won't people adopt these older boys?" He answered (not out loud, but I heard Him loud and clear in my spirit) "Why won't YOU?"


I had no answer for that. It seems He had been doing the same work in my husband's heart, and as we looked at the four sheets of paper together and prayed, one face seemed to be staring back at us more piercingly than the others. All of a sudden, it seemed so obvious. It's him.

As we talked and prayed for him, and about him, it all just seemed to "fit." We could see him here. We could see him with us. We could see him in our family. We could see him as our son. In fact, it seemed so natural that I couldn't believe we hadn't seen it all along! But what about our little girl? What would we do about her? Wasn't she the one we were going for? Weeks and months earlier, I could "see" her, too.

So, we met with our agency to ask about adopting two kids who were not biologically related. Throughout our two-hour-long meeting they explained why they do not do that. I won't go into all of their reasons now (but I will share that I have come to agree with those reasons). That was hard for us to hear. I burst into tears as we left the agency that day and cried over my salad at lunch as Luke and I sat at a nearby restaurant and tried to make sense of what we had learned. Basically, what we learned was that we had a decision to make: Either continue pursuing the little girl we originally felt called to adopt, or adopt the boy we knew was waiting, the one we could see in our family, the one to whom we felt so drawn.

It didn't take us long to make our choice. In fact, I think we already knew. We just had to adjust our vision and our thinking, and sometimes that's painful. None of the baby or toddler girls will turn 10 in that orphanage, but those boys very well could. And we couldn't stand the thought of it. In my opinion, the reason we couldn't stand the thought of it was because it's quite possible he's ours! The thought of it is supposed to break our hearts. I could envision myself over there, walking past the baby girls as we took our new little boy by the hand and headed back to America. But I could not, cannot, imagine walking past that precious boy while holding a baby girl. I couldn't imagine looking at him and playing with him during our stay at the orphanage, knowing that we almost adopted him. And the reason I think I can't fathom it, the reason it brings tears to my eyes to even type it, is because it's quite possible he's ours.

So, what about our little girl? Well, she wasn't some sort of prophecy. I never saw her as such. It's not that she's still "out there somewhere" and it's our job to find her. I see her now in terms of what she represented. She represented our willingness to do whatever and go wherever God directs us. She represented, and still represents, our longing for God to grow, remake and reshape our family however He sees fit. I don't know if there will ever be a little girl, but I still hold her in my heart as a reminder to myself and a sign to God that I am willing, we are willing, for Him to grow and mold our family for His glory.

And now we focus on our little boy. I'll tell you a bit about him. He's beautiful. He's smart. He's musical. He's got huge, gorgeous eyes and a contagious smile. I catch it whenever I look at him! He's a gangly, skinny, soccer-loving, preteen boy who turns 10 this fall. He makes good grades in his school (is described as being at the top of his class), is friendly (all the kids in the orphanage name him when they are asked who their best friend is), he wants to be a doctor when he grows up, and his favorite food is fried pasta with fried egg. He told our adoption coordinator when she was there that he really wants a family so he can feel like he belongs to someone. He just wants to belong. Well, we think he belongs in our family!

I have been grieving for what he and his family have been through in recent years, and for the circumstances that led to him being in an orphanage. I am acquainted more and more with the fact that adoption begins with grief and loss. I had so many different emotions yesterday on Mother's Day. I mourned for his mother, his first mother. (I will refer to her as his Ethiopian mother, rather than "birth mother." But that is another post for another day...) I just want to scoop him up and tell him I'm sorry for what he's been through. I want to tell him that I love and miss his parents, too, even though I never met them. I can't wait for him to tell me all about them. I want to tell him it's going to be okay (and then do my level best in God's strength, as long as it takes, for that to be the case.) I want to be his new mommy. I want him to belong to me every bit as much as he wants to belong to someone. We want him. Not him-if-he-came-with-a-sister, but him, for who he is.

Our children are ecstatic. They are showing his pictures to anyone who will stop to look. Bethany wrote his name in HUGE letters on the white board in our school room, and Kyle added "rocks." He rocks! We have added a bunk bed to Kyle's room, making room for his new brother. I have been adjusting my plans for school next year to include a new fourth grader who loves math but will be learning to speak English. I have been watching the dvd of him over and over, replaying the part where he says, "My name is ____ ____". I love hearing his precious voice. (By the way, that is the only English he speaks on the dvd. "My name is." The equivalent of me saying "Me llamo Cyndi" That doesn't mean I hablo mucho espanol!) I have ordered books and materials in his language, and I'm learning as much of it as I can. It is hard! But I want so desperately for us to be able to communicate as quickly as possible. I want to show him I'm doing my part. I want to "connect" with him as effectively as I can.

This afternoon we are driving to our state's capital to stay overnight and walk our paperwork through the Secretary of State's office in the morning. We are hurrying to get our dossier (Mt. Paperwork) completed and over to Ethiopia as quickly as possible so that we can get a court date before the courts in that country recess for two months later this summer.

This weekend our sweet daughter leaves for two weeks in China, so I'm looking forward to this short trip to Austin with our kids... not only is this a mission toward bringing home our new son, their new brother, but time for us to spend together in the car and in the hotel before we spend two weeks on opposite sides of the globe. I've never had one in China and one in Africa before. Kyle is bracing himself for me to put the "mother" in "smother" for the next two weeks! Bless his heart. ;)

There are a million more thoughts in my heart right now. I am well aware that there are many issues surrounding adopting older children. I have many questions, and have received many answers already. God is so faithful. I've read so many helpful materials, have ordered some wonderful resources (for us, and for him in his language) and continue to hear from God daily through His Word. What I have been learning and the powerful work God is doing in my heart and in our family could fill multiple blog posts each day. This is such a wonder-filled time for us.

Thank you so much for following along on this blog, for so many of you that we know personally a as well as those of you I've met through your blogs. I am thankful daily for the precious people God has put in our lives. I can't wait for all of you to meet our precious new son, who I'll call "M" for now. Today, M is living his life, going to school, playing with his friends, doing whatever he does... not knowing that he's being celebrated, prayed for, cherished, eagerly anticipated, and pursued. Isn't that a picture of how our loving God regards us? I love it.

I hope you have a blessed day!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

It's hard to wrap my mind around...

The number 143 million. Just how many is that?

One. A number I can more easily wrap my mind around.

One. The number I was talking with God about this morning.

I have so much to tell you about our child. We know who he is. Yes, I said "he!" I cannot wait to post about him, but I'm finding it difficult to put into words. He is precious, he is beautiful, he is waiting, and...

he's the one.