Saturday, December 17, 2011

whirlwind (but a good one!)

Holy Cow, it has been a crazy, but wonderful last couple of days! Friday morning I checked e-mail at 5:00am on my way to the gym, and saw the email from Addis Adoption with the subject, Clearance-Shawl. (Yes, they did spell our name wrong!) I sucked in my breath, opened it and read the words I have been hoping to read for so many months, YOU ARE CLEARED TO COME FOR YOUR VISA INTERVIEW!!!! Aauugghh! I started crying and laughing, ran upstairs and woke up Aaron, ran back downstairs and re-read it over and over. Aaron came down pretty quickly after that, I did not make it to the gym, and we just sat there, overwhelmed and feeling like we were in a dream.

Then we started looking at plane tickets, talking about when we could leave, and thanking and praising the Lord for such a wonderful gift. It appears that the embassy has openings for interviews right away, like next week, but we need to confirm a time with them which we are hoping to do on Monday. Right now we are thinking tentatively about leaving Sunday, Christmas day, and being there about a week. I haven't allowed myself to really think about this step for so long, or prepare for it at all, so Aaron and I are both feeling a little overwhelmed about this next week. My response to everything apparently is to do the things that are of least importance, like planning her outfits, while Aaron's response is to do nothing while continually lamenting about how much he has to do. We are quite the pair right now! :) But so, so, so thankful for the Lord leading us to this next step, and praying for His continued guidance and wisdom.

I have also been so thankful for the many friends and family around us who have walked with us through this process. One good friend of mine brought a "celebration lunch" over on Friday, and it was especially sweet because she was the same friend who brought dinner over after we got back from our first trip. It was so great to celebrate with her this time with tears of joy instead of sorrow. And there are so many others who have prayed for us faithfully, listened, spoken words of encouragement and wisdom, and truly helped us carry this burden. I know we are beginning a whole new stage of this journey, that may well be even harder than what we have gone through already, but I just can't wait to tell Hope all about everyone who has loved her before ever knowing her.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


This week has both dragged and flown by at the same time, and I find myself just wishing it was over. We did hear from the embassy Tuesday morning; what I like to call the "no response, response." Monday night I slept terribly. Every dream I had was about hearing from the embassy, and most of the time what we heard back from them wasn't good, or what we were hoping to hear. I tossed and turned until my alarm finally went off, and I hurried downstairs to check my e-mail. The embassy sends their responses early, early in the morning so I knew if we were going to hear anything today it would already be in my inbox. There was nothing in mine, but I checked Aaron's too, and they had sent a response to him. It was basically that they had our file and were reviewing it, and to give them 5 business days before contacting them again. (Which I did think to myself, really?? It's not like this is something I ordered online, and am waiting to have delivered. This is my child! Why wouldn't I contact you every day all day until you give me an answer?! Not really sure what we are going to do, but that's was just my first thought. :) )

I have to say, it was kind of a downer. I have been trying so hard not to get ahead of myself, not to get my hopes up, and really giving everything to the Lord continually. But, I realized I am not a robot. Just because I want to do something in a certain way, or feel or not feel something, I am human. My heart and my emotions are real, and while I can and need to submit my thoughts and feelings to Christ, I don't really know how to stop them from coming. And I don't think I need to beat myself up for struggling with them. It's an opportunity for surrender. I think I'm just a little scared of going back to that dark place in my heart that was SO HARD. Where I felt alone, and forgotten, and disappointed so much of the time. The Lord has done a lot in my heart, and has brought me out of that into a new place of trust with Him. But, I am not done struggling with those feelings, and honestly probably won't ever be! I am weary, and so is Aaron, but I know that means His grace and strength are greater.

This morning I read this, "The word trust is the heart word of faith. It is the Old Testament word, the word given to the early and infant stage of faith. The word faith expresses more the act of the will, the word belief the act of the mind or intellect, but trust is the language of the heart. The other has reference, more to a truth believed or a thing expected. Trust implies more than this, it sees and feels and leans upon a person, a great, true, living heart of love. So let us 'trust also in him,' through all the delays, in spite of all the difficulties, in the face of all the denials, notwithstanding all the seemings, even when we cannot understand the way, and know not the issue; still 'trust also in him, and he will bring it to pass.' The way will open, the right issue will come, the end will be peace, the cloud will be lifted, and the light of eternal noonday shall shine at last."

Monday, December 12, 2011

As hard as these last few months have been in terms of our adoption, one blessing I have loved is getting to know my littlest in a whole new way, just he and I. I have loved spending my days with him, he is truly my buddy! I have learned things about his personality I didn't know before, and I just love being the expert about him. Not in a prideful way, but more in a way that happens naturally through spending so much time one on one.

Today he informed me he didn't want to have rest time, but that he just wanted to, "hang out with you mom." He really likes to be near me, not having to necessarily interact with me all the time, but just be close by. He is so different from his brothers, a little hard to figure out sometimes, and truly gives the best hugs and kisses of anyone I know. I have been more mindful lately of really trying to soak in my time with him, because Lord willing, it is coming to an end soon. I think I may miss it more than I realize.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

catching up

Isaac trying to barricade himself from my parents dog, Bo


I have gotten so far behind with blogging! And then when I think about how far behind I am, I lose all motivation to try to start catching up. But, I just decided, I'll start where we are today, and if I feel like writing about what we have been up to the last few weeks I will.

So, adoption update first. We heard right before Thanksgiving that the judge who had initially requested that Hope's parents come to Addis, decided she could change the paperwork without seeing them. Yay! This was good news, way less complicated than all that would be involved in them making the trip. And, we just heard yesterday all the documents are translated and ready to go and will be submitted to the embassy on Monday. This is a tentative Yay!; sometimes not knowing what is going to happen is more comforting than knowing bad news. We really don't know what the embassy will do, but are praying ultimately for the Lord's will to be done, whatever that is. Of course I would LOVE to be cleared and have our visa interview so we can bring her home, but the truth is I don't know what is best. I can't see the future, and how everything works together, and am trusting in the Lord who does know all those things.

We have been doing good as a family too. We were able to spend a few days with my brother Andy who came home for his two-week leave from Afghanistan in Oklahoma with the rest of my family. So thankful for that time together, and so thankful for a family who really loves to be together.

We also decorated the tree Monday, and Tuesday morning the boys all woke up requesting "Christmas breakfasts." There were tears and moans when I informed them all we had was Grape Nuts and Uncle Sam's. :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011


We actually did get an update yesterday. Our caseworker called Aaron (I think she may have needed a break from me and my emotions!), and he told me when he got home from work. So, what we thought would be pretty simple for the judge to do, actually has become WAY more complicated. Our case is reminding me of a tangled necklace, you get one knot undone, and only to find out that one is connected to another one and another one. Basically, the embassy needs the judge to confirm that the birthparents know their rights have been terminated. Only, it doesn't say that anywhere in our paperwork, so the judge said she can't do that. So, she wants the birthparents to come to Addis and appear before her, and basically say they know their rights have been terminated. What is complicated, other than the fact that her birthparents are in an area 8-9 hours away, is that it may not even be legal for them to travel right now. If they can't travel, our agency will have to see if they can appear before a judge in their town. And this only makes it possible for us to be re-submitted to the embassy, who just last month sent 60 cases to Nairobi Kenya to be investigated (in all of last year they only sent 10).

I don't think it's an accident that just yesterday I wrote about praying for God to move in a big way in our case. I don't even know what to pray for at this point, other than for God to do what only He can do, and for Him to show His power. I was also thinking more about the church in Acts 12 that was praying for Peter, and wondering what their prayers were like. I wonder what they were praying for, and guess that praying for an angel to come down in bodily form and remove Peter's chains, lead him through the prison, and unlock the gate was probably beyond what they could even imagine! But, that is what God does. He is unexpected, and does things beyond what we could ever dream.

I also had a picture in my mind last night as I was trying to fall asleep of what I feel like doing. I feel like closing off from everyone and just laying down, giving up. But then I thought about how in that position, alone and with all my defenses down, how vulnerable I would be to Satan's attacks. He wants me discouraged, defeated and alone. But, if I put on the armor of God-truth, righteousness, faith, God's Word, and surround myself with others who are doing the same, suddenly we are an army, ready to stand.

I thought too, that this whole situation and really our entire case, just sets the stage for God to show His greatness. There is truly no situation too impossible for Him to work, and that is what I am praying for. For His greatness to be known.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Well, not much to say as far as an update goes. We are still waiting at this point for the judge to change our paperwork so we can be re-submitted to the embassy. And we thought this was supposed to be the "easy" part of the steps we have ahead of us! There are a lot of battles going on inside me, the temptation to give in to discouragement, despair, and doubt are just right there. But, I am holding on to Him. Or, probably more accurately, He is holding on to me. He is reminding me of His faithfulness, His power, His presence.

Yesterday at Bible study, our teaching leader was going through 2 Timothy 2, and this is what I heard: (I kept half-expecting her to turn to just me and say, okay Mary this is for you!)

Endure Hardship
Our strength is in Christ Jesus, it is His strength not ours
When we are faithless, He will remain faithful

And last night at bedtime I was reading the boys their Bible story (which 9 times out of 10 Aaron does), and it was about the Israelites crossing the Red Sea with Moses. There were a couple questions at the end which said,
"Did you ever think God made a mistake or could have done something better? God never makes a mistake. Ask for his wisdom and understanding when you think something is wrong. When you're in trouble, what is the best way out? Start with the Lord! Ask Him to help you. He may not make a path through the sea for you, but He will help you in the way that's best."

And then this morning I read in Streams in the Desert, about when Peter was in prison, and the angel came and led him out. He went to a house where many of his friends were gathered praying for him, and they were so shocked he was there they forgot to let him inside! Acts 12 :5 "All the time that Peter was under heavy guard in the jailhouse, the church prayed for him most strenuously."

Last Saturday, Aaron came up to me and said he had something he wanted to share with me, that He felt like was from the Lord. He said he knew I had been struggling with doubt about whether we should have even started this process with all the roadblocks we have faced. And that if God knew about the investigation our agency would go through, the changes that MOWA would implement, and the greater scrutiny the embassy would give adoption cases, that He must have known Hope would need a family who would stick with her. So, instead of looking at our situation and feeling like maybe we shouldn't have even done this, looking at it and thinking God chose us for her because we would not give up. I don't know why He thinks we can handle this, I feel like I have failed so miserably and my faith has been so weak, but maybe, just maybe (and by that I mean definitely) His plans and purposes are so far beyond what I can comprehend or imagine. I do think that was the Lord speaking through my husband, because I have heard that before from other loved ones in our life, but this time, I heard it.

I have felt lately a feeling of acceptance for what we are going through, and instead of trying so hard to get out of it, praying instead for God to show me how we wants me to act, and pray in it. I have been praying for His guidance as we continue on this journey. And right now, I am feeling led to pray for God to move in a major way. For Him to make a way through the sea where there is no way, for Him to clear the path that is before us, and do what only He can do in this adoption. He can do it, there is nothing too great or impossible for Him, and I believe in that power. Would you pray with us? Pray for our paperwork to be completed, translated perfectly and resubmitted to the embassy? And then would you pray that we are cleared with no additional steps? That in itself would be a miracle, but totally and completely possible through the Lord and His power.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


In Acceptance Lieth Peace

He said, "I will forget the dying faces;
The empty places,
They shall be filled again.
O voices moaning deep within me, cease."
But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in forgetting lieth peace.

He said, "I will crowd action upon action
The strife of faction
Shall stir me and sustain;
O tears that drown the fire of Manhood cease."
But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in endeavor lieth peace.

He said, "I will withdraw me and be quiet,
Why meddle in life's riot?
Shut be my door to pain.
Desire, thou dost befool me, thou shalt cease."
But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in aloofness lieth peace.

He said, "I will submit;
I am defeated.
God hath depleted
My life of its rich gain.
O futile murmuring, why will ye not cease?"
But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in submission lieth peace.

He said, "I will accept the breaking sorrow
Which God to-morrow
Will to His son explain."
Then did the turmoil deep within him cease.
Not vain the word, not vain.
For in Acceptance lieth peace."

~Amy Carmichael

My mom sent me this poem, and its messages has really resonated with me. I feel like I have gone through all of those cycles, probably will again, but for now through the Lord's strength am accepting what we are going through. I have peace beneath the heaviness and uncomfortableness that comes with going through something hard, and believe that God is faithful and good.

The judge has said she hopes to get to our case early next week (although I think the keyword here is "hopes" :) ), and then when she changes what needs to be changed we will be resubmitted to the embassy. We are praying that everything will be in order, and there will be no more delays, but even more than that, for God's will to be done.

Monday, October 17, 2011

fighting, take 2

*just a warning, this is super long

I haven't talked about adoption stuff for a while. I think the big reason for that is because I have gone through yet another cycle of confusion, disappointment, etc., and really separated myself from all of it. Like majorly separated myself, where I really wasn't feeling anything at all about it. I even wrote a post talking about how disconnected I felt and how I really just wasn't feeling anything, but ended up not finishing it. What I realized, am realizing, is I can choose to stay in this with every part of me, or I can check out. Checking out is a relief. It is a relief to not feel the turmoil and discomfort of knowing every minute a part of your family is not with you, and you don't really know when she will be. It's a relief to not be worried about the days that are slipping by and turning into months, and the milestones you both are missing. It's a relief not to think about how she is getting older, more attached and connected to her life there, and much harder things will be when she is forced to make that change. So, yeah, it felt good to not be consumed with this process, where we are, and where we aren't.
But, in doing that, in letting go and checking out, I let go of the hope I have in Christ. I let go of Him, and allowed some bitterness to take root. He showed me this last week, the day after my birthday. On my birthday, Aaron and I had prayed together about the courts reopening the next day, and the potential for things to happen again. I had a GREAT birthday, felt so loved, and really spoiled. That night when we got back from our movie, we had an e-mail from our agency talking about how the embassy has been sending more and more cases to Nairobi for investigations, and there were some families from our agency that this had happened to. This was such a blow to me, and I felt like that would definitely happen to us as well, just with all that has happened up to this point. (It hasn't happened at this point, we are still waiting for our paperwork to be changed, and resubmitted to the embassy.) So I went to bed, mad, frustrated, and confused. And bitter. The next morning, the boys were all home from school, and were playing together, and I felt like I needed some time with the Lord. So I grabbed my journal and Bible, and started writing. This is what I wrote:
"Lord, I am confused. And I think I may be harboring bitterness. Another hurdle? Another potential delay? On my birthday? On the day we prayed together about moving forward after being on hold for weeks? Why? Why us? Why yesterday? I know I'm not supposed to ask that question, but that is what I am feeling. I'm feeling ignored. Am I missing something? Am I not doing something right? Did we choose the wrong agency? Did we walk where you did not lead? I don't know what to think, do or pray. And I'm feeling like I need confirmation from You that we are where You want us. I'm afraid to ask though, because I'm afraid You won't respond and will reject me. But, I'm asking now. I'm asking for You to reveal Yourself to me, to allow me to know we are supposed to be in this adoption. Because right now, it sure doesn't feel like it. And I know I have some hardness in my heart toward You. Some anger. Because I now who You are, and what You can do. Am I so absorbed in myself that I can't even see what's true anymore? Lord, do I just need a breakthrough? Show me. Show me my sin so I can confess it. Show me Yourself, Your faithfulness and goodness. Lord, I confess my anger, my pride, my unfaithfulness, defiance, stubbornness, and doubt. I confess my selfishness and bitterness and know-it-all attitude. I confess trusting in men instead of You. I confess going through the motions. I confess putting myself first time and time again. I confess liking the sound of my own voice more than really hearing what others have to say.
Father, release me. From these chains of doubt and bitterness, and anxiety. Lead me through Your Word, and prayer, and my husband. I am so weak. Help me to see what You want me to see. Lead us. Remind me.
I think I started putting things between us when our adoption began to get hard. First it was a short fence, then a 6ft privacy one. Then came the bricks and mortar and stones, and pretty soon there was a wall. A big and strong wall with me on one side and You on the other. I did that. I separated us because of my disappointment. I blamed You.
I am taking down the wall!!! I am taking a sledge hammer and pounding it down. But if I do it alone, it won't come down. Help me . Help me overcome through the power of Christ in me and His power. Your power."
After I wrote that, I asked Him where I should turn in my Bible, and Psalm 37 came to mind. I won't write out the whole thing, but here are some of the phrases that just jumped out to me, "trust in the Lord,
commit your way to the Lord,
be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him,
do not fret,
refrain from anger and turn from wrath,
do not fret,
If the Lord delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand
will not forsake His faithful ones
wait for the Lord
the salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble."

All of that to say, today I am choosing to be ALL IN. I got an e-mail from another mom who adopted a little guy, and she said, " the best parenting I can do for my child is to struggle (emotionally, with paperwork etc...) with all Christ's strength for her." That is all I can do right now, but I am going to do it. I am going to struggle for her, and fight for her. Not that I won't struggle with the same things again, like probably next week, but today, this is where I am.

scenes from fall break

*Isaac writing "happy birthday" for me :)

*LEGO creations (Eli and Micah pooled their chore money and bought a
LEGO set

*evidence of three very busy little boys!

*making pumpkin cookies, a tradition started when I was in elementary school

*corn maze at Vala's pumpkin patch, we took the short route :)

*children's museum in Kansas City, and three veterinarians we met there

*walking around the Plaza in Kansas City, before Eli fell in one of the

*after Eli fell in the fountain and Aaron and I trying to cheer him up about the fact
that he and daddy matched, not working so well!

*T-rex Cafe in Kansas City, such a fun place!

*playing with their toy souvenir Aaron and I let them pick out at a toy store, a
highlight for all of us!

*what's one of the best parts of staying in a hotel? eating breakfast and watching
cartoons :)

*the only thing better than eating and watching cartoons? Swimming!

*obligatory family picture. I'm pretty sure there were some major bribes/threats
going on at this point for normal (or any) smiles.

Eli and Micah had a break from school last week (Wednesday-Friday), and it was so great. I loved having them home so much, and tried to plan some fun things to do. Friday Aaron took off from work and we made a quick one-night trip to Kansas City. I just feel so thankful to the Lord for the blessing of my family, and the opportunity to spend some sweet time together. Not that every moment was sweet, by no means, but even in the midst of the not so sweet, we have so very much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

fall easter eggs

These pictures are not long lost ones from Easter, they are actually from last week! Apparently when you are three and go to a yard sale with your dad, the thing you cannot leave without is an egg dyeing kit. Isaac was SO excited about his find, and could hardly wait until Monday when we took our weekly grocery trip and could buy some eggs. I boiled them when we got home, and then we decorated them just the way he decided. I just love that little guy. :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

micah's yard sale, take 2

We did it! And we made more than $20 which I consider a great accomplishment. Our grand total was $149.00, which may not be that great in the world of yard sales, but it is WAY more than I thought we would make. We prayed for the sale at breakfast, Micah told us he prayed in his bed before he woke up, and when we started kind of slow he prayed again. I think God totally answered his prayers, which is so fun. After our second customer, and our total at that point was $3.25, Micah leaned over to me with a big smile, and said, "Things are going really well!" That is what I love about being 5 years old. Whether you make a sale of .25 or $25, you are excited just because you made a sale!

I'm not sure how our neighbors felt about it, since Micah yelled "Yard Sale" about 300 times at 8:00 in the morning. Needless to say, none of them were customers. But, we had fun (our biggest goal), sold some stuff (finally got rid of this cabinet that had become the bane of my existence), and made some money too. Micah was there pretty much all 6 hours, greeting people when they walked up, selling cookies ("you can get 2 for .25!), and recording sales. We aren't sure yet what we will do our earnings, but Micah will for sure be a big part of that decision. Right now we are thinking of giving some to Micah, giving some away, and maybe using some for a family day when the boys have a break from school.

Thanks buddy, for sticking with your idea and not giving up when your parents tried to talk you out of it, we love you!!

Friday, September 30, 2011

micah's yard sale

Micah has been wanting to have a yard sale for months. There seemed to be enough distractions during the summer that he would forget about it, but last Saturday he was determined. He got a big plastic bin from the basement and started collecting things to sell. And then he found some old yard sale stickers and started pricing things. I think Aaron and I realized we were going to have to do something. Either tell him he couldn't have one, or help him out a little and just do it. We live on a busy street, but not exactly a kid-friendly one where people will stop just because there are cute kids selling stuff. But, neither one of us wanted to squash his initiative or creativity, and really for one day that we would be home anyway, it's not that big of a deal. I had to let go of my expectations of having a grand yard sale with tons of stuff, and plenty of advertising, and realize that it really doesn't have to be perfect. So, I started collecting some things too, we realized we could put our craigslist stuff out there, and we just might have enough for an actual yard sale. At least now people might actually stop to check it out. It's actually a bit disturbing to think you don't really have anything to sell, and then suddenly your guest room is full. So, we are having a yard sale tomorrow! Now all three boys are so excited, I find myself baking cookies and buying apple cider for them to sell too, and an evening of pricing and sign making lies ahead of us.

Hopefully, no matter how it goes, Micah will have fun, and feel valued. And it will definitely be a memory! :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

this and that

* This is hard to see, but it's one of Eli's pictures. The content may be a bit questionable (a building with spikes covering one side, and spike covered machine guns on the other, but I love his attention to detail!

*The boys were outside one day, and kept running inside for paper, crayons, and tape. I discovered later their handiwork. Those would be bridges for the ants, you know, because ants need a lot of help getting around. :)

The days sure are slipping by quickly lately! Here we are at the end of September. I don't have too much to share, just some odds and ends about life lately.

-I made a pear pie this week to share with our neighbors who came over for dinner. The unfortunate part of that is, only Aaron and I like it, and I am the one who is home all day. Those odds are not in my favor.

-The boys had See You At the Pole today at their elementary school. I was pretty unsure how it would go, as these are elementary kids and unable to really lead things on their own, but was pleasantly surprised at how many kids were there, and their participation. A great friend of mine who also has a son there said something along the lines of it being the first step for them in making a stand for Christ. And she is right.

-I have been struggling with motivation lately. Motivation to do any projects (I have painting projects, and other things to get ready to sell on Craigslist), but find myself doing virtually nothing during the afternoon when Isaac is napping. Why is it that it takes so much work to get into good habits and be productive, but ridiculously easy to be lazy?? Maybe it is just my personality, but I am giving myself lots of excuses lately.

-All three boys are really loving AWANA. I think Eli and Micah especially. They are in Sparks, and basically ask every day if it is Sparks night.

-Speaking of Eli and Micah, they are doing great with school. Micah was recognized (over the intercom no less) for showing support for his classmate by seeing his lunchbox and bringing it back to their class. I guess it's the little things, right? :) He also got a little certificate from his music teacher for having an especially great singing voice. Nana would be so proud! And Eli has been drawing up a storm. Every day he comes home with a picture he started at school, and spends tons of time at home adding very careful details. I also let them get hot lunch at school for the first time this week, which they LOVED. I am still trying to figure out how to handle homework and the tests they have. I don't want to put too much pressure on them (hello, kindergarten), but want them to feel good about they know, and not stressed out. So far they are doing fine, I guess we'll just keep playing it by ear?

-Haven't heard anything yet this week about adoption stuff, but am feeling peaceful. Thankful for that.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Every so often I will have a dream about Hope. Sometimes she is home with us, sometimes we are over there with her, sometimes she is older, sometimes she is a baby. Last night she seemed to be her actual age, just coming out of being a baby, but not quite a toddler. I'm not sure where we were, but it was like we had been gone from her for a while. Someone handed her to me (I think it was maybe her caregivers?), and she wrapped her arms around my neck and laid her head on my shoulder, and just held on to me. It was like she knew we had been gone, and now we were back and she just wanted to hold on. Oh, how I long for that day. For her to know the security and comfort of a mom and dad, who are there every day, who belong to her and she to us.

Sometime next week an appeal will be written and delivered to the sitting judge, asking her to change what the embassy is asking to be changed in our paperwork. Since the courts are closed, she is not required to change it, so I'm really not sure how great the chances are that she will. If she agrees, it will take few days to get that changed and resubmitted, and then we wait to hear back again from the embassy. They could come back again with more changes, or requests (so frustrating that they don't just tell you everything at once!), or we could receive our clearance. If the judge refuses the appeal, we will wait until October 10 or some day close to that when the courts reopen, and basically go through the same thing. I feel like I have let go of expectations again, and am as ready as I can be for whatever the news may be. If I have learned anything this process it is to hold expectations with an open hand, but hold on to the truths and promises, and character of Christ with clenched fists!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

when the answer is no

The meeting between our agency rep and the embassy happened today, and the embassy is insisting the paperwork is changed before they will give us clearance. There is one more option our agency is going to check into this week, but more than likely we will be waiting until the courts reopen in October to resubmit our paperwork again. I'm sad, but okay and peaceful. Is this the news we have been praying and hoping for? No. Is God still good and sovereign? Yes.

I listened to one of my dad's sermons Sunday after seeing it mentioned on another friend's blog about 1 Peter 5:5-7. It was so good in so many ways, but he asked three questions referencing the verse about casting our cares on the Lord. They were, 1)Who knows more about your situation? 2)Who cares more about your situation? and 3) Who can do more about your situation? Those questions have been running over and over through my mind, as well as the thought that having an anxious heart is really having a prideful heart. I have also thought that this entire journey is first of all about God's glory. It's His story that we are so thankful to be a part of. And then it is Hope's story, and if there are ways that it can be more complete and full, and answer the many questions she will have someday then I want that for her. We are last, our timeline, and expectations are the least important component here. They are a big deal to me, I think it's okay to grieve when things don't happen as I hope they will, but then I need to move on. Keep fighting for her until she is home, but move on from what I think things should look like. So that is what I am trying to do, press harder into Christ and WHO He is, fight harder through prayer for Hope, and move forward. Teeny, tiny step by step.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Sometimes it's hard for me to know how honest to be on this blog. I know how easily things can be misunderstood, and I think my pride gets in the way of that often. I also want to mostly look back and remember the good things about this time of life. But, at least for today, I am going to put those things aside, and share what I am feeling right now.

I am tired. I am tired of being in this adoption process. I am tired of having either no news or bad news to share when people ask, and then both of us feeling awkward and not knowing what to say after I share. I am tired of feeling like God has forgotten us, and that the opposite of what we are praying for keeps happening. I am tired of not being able to plan ahead, of not knowing when we will be back in Ethiopia, and the next stage will begin. I am tired of thinking we will have a daughter in one stage of development (infant), and then having to adjust to a new stage (toddler). I am tired of taking clothes out of her closet that she has already outgrown (3 times now.) I am tired of thinking we would be in this process for 18 months, only to be in it still at 25 months, and counting. I am tired of seeing dates come and go that I never dreamed we would be passing without her. I am tired of potentially being near the end, only to have another roadblock in our path. I am tired of struggling with the same issues, over, and over, and over. I am tired of trying to think of positive ways to describe what we are going through. The truth? It sucks right now.

So that is a little window into what my heart is feeling now. It seems to want to hold on so tightly to discouragement and bitterness and self-pity. And what a slippery slope the three of those guys can be! You know what though, despite the fact that I feel this way, and sometimes act on those feelings, the truth is that God is still there. He will not and does not change, despite what I feel and do and say. He can take this ugliness from me, and still love me the same. There is some tremendous hope and peace there. I don't have to be perfect and deal with all of this perfectly, I think what I need to do is remember. Remember what He has done, and how far He has brought us. Remember His words, His promises, and His character. I can be honest with the hard stuff, but I need to be honest too about the great stuff He has done.

I am thankful for the chance to know and pray for a little face for 13 1/2 months, before she is even home.
I am thankful for plenty of transition time for all of us with school starting.
I am thankful for a heightened sense of being intentional with my boys.
I am thankful for many days of sweet time with Isaac.
I am thankful for the chance to grow with my husband through this, and see our relationship deepen.
I am thankful for a growing awareness of the bigger picture of adoption, and the hurdles that are there in every stage of the process.
I am thankful for the chance to pray for other families in this process, see them bring home their kids, and share in this with them.
I am thankful for the opportunity to experience God's presence and grace in ways I never have before.

I have sort of distanced myself a bit from it all again. I am feeling peaceful, but like I just need a bit of a break from the heaviness of it all. I don't want to talk about it, I just want to let it be for a while. Which is sort of ironic being that right now, we need prayer more than ever. We heard again from the embassy, and they rejected our paperwork again. This time they want something added to a court decree, but that can't happen right now because the court are closed for the rainy season and won't reopen until the middle of October. There will be a meeting sometime next week (tuesday, wednesday, or thursday) between an embassy official and a representative from our agency to decide if there are any other options. This was pretty crushing news for me, and since then I have been struggling with discouragement. A lot. Aaron and I are praying that the course that the embassy is on in terms of our case will be changed, that they will give us clearance. That God will throw open the doors that seem to be closed so we can bring our girl home.

*We also have the most amazing support system through our family and friends, God has used them over and over to remind us of His love. I know they are also playing a huge role through prayer in bringing Hope home too. I do not take that for granted, and feel terrible when I feel the way I do now, in terms of not wanting to talk much or reach out. So, thank you to everyone who prays for us and our sweet girl, we really couldn't do this without you!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Although he is not so little anymore, I think I will always think of Isaac as my littlest. And, I have been enjoying so much my time at home with just him. He is funny, inquisitive, cuddly, and really just so easy. He will play on his own, without any prompting, for long stretches of time; especially if I am close by. He loves to help me too, make granola, find things, put things away, etc. And he loves it when we have errands to run. I can't believe how much easier it is to go places with just one kid! I actually enjoy it, and can think about what I am doing at the same time!

Sometimes we do some "school" together, which he just eats up. I think he would do page after page all day long. We sort of have a routine down together now. Monday we go grocery shopping, but just about every other day we come home from taking Eli and Micah to school, and he watches a show of his choosing (a pretty big deal when you are the youngest), and I finish cleaning up the kitchen from the whirlwind of breakfast and rushing out the door. Then we play together until lunchtime, and after lunch he goes down for a nap. Our days are simple, and quiet, and fun!

I am really trying to live in each day while we wait for more adoption answers, and just be thankful for where we are. I remember before we passed court, how I longed to be where we are right now. I thought, if we could just pass court I would be so content. HA! That lasted all of 3 weeks. It really is just a reflection of my heart I guess, and how my true contentment and joy are found in Christ alone. As these days (that feel like weeks) stretch on, I want and need to fight my feelings of discouragement and sadness with the truth of who Christ is and His power that can move mountains, both in Ethiopia and the ones in my heart.

Friday, September 9, 2011

one year

One year ago today, at around 3:30 in the afternoon we got the referral for Hope Bezualem. She was tiny, only 6 weeks, with huge dark eyes. It was so surreal, seeing the face you have prayed for and dreamed about for so long, and a moment I will truly never forget. A little like finding out you are pregnant! This year has been one of the hardest I have experienced, the tension between having absolutely zero control over something you care about with every fiber in your being. I hope I have grown in ways that are good, I think I have. But, I have also found myself struggling with many of the same things over and over. Bottom line, I believe in God's goodness and trustworthiness, and am thankful for where He has led us. I don't necessarily feel that way every moment of every day, but that is what I hold on to, and eventually end up.

Our embassy paperwork hasn't been resubmitted yet, but hopefully sometime next week. Our agency wanted to get some more info together about Hope's family, just in case the embassy requests it. I am praying the embassy's questions will be satisfied with all the work that has already been done to bring us to this point, and we will be cleared next week. Resolution Lord, please let it be soon!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

still fighting

Well, we heard from the embassy early Friday morning, and it wasn't what we had been hoping for. In fact, after reading what they had to say, I felt like someone punched me in the stomach. Basically, they are questioning Hope's status as an orphan, something that has already been carefully and thoroughly researched and confirmed. It's almost as if the embassy missed entire pages of our paperwork that would clarify what they are questioning, which I guess is a good possibility. So, now our agency will resubmit some of our paperwork that they missed with a letter of explanation, and we wait again to see if they will accept it. I understand that they are only trying to do their job, and I knew something like this was fairly likely to happen, but it has been a huge wake up call for me that we are not done fighting for our girl.

Passing court was such a tremendous relief, and I sort of thought we were done with all the hard parts. Now we would just wait a few more weeks, but not with the heaviness and anxiousness I had been feeling. I knew things could happen with the embassy, they can even request their own investigation, but for some reason I just wasn't as concerned. Not that we are ever supposed to worry about things anyway, but I really thought we were in smooth waters. I really don't know why I felt like this, especially watching so many other families have struggles getting through the embassy stage. Anyway, I don't feel defeated or like giving up, what I feel like doing is fighting! Fighting for her the only way we really can right now, and that is through prayer. Praying that the questions the embassy has will be answered without several additional steps, praying they won't ask for an investigation, praying that the Lord would do what only He can, and MOVE US THROUGH. Praying for open doors and open hearts, for paperwork that is perfect and complete, and for God's will to be done.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

it's back

The feeling is back. I had a lovely break from it for exactly 3 weeks, but this week it returned. This feeling of consuming urgency, waiting for any shred of information, feeling tied to my computer, hoping and praying for news. The relief I felt when we passed court was almost indescribable. I felt renewed, like the biggest weight imaginable had been lifted off my shoulders. I wasn't even really thinking yet of the next step, I was just so thankful to be where we were. Now, knowing we have been submitted to the embassy, and that they have had our paperwork for one week, I have these familiar, albeit unwanted feelings again.
I don't want to be consumed. I don't want to be anxious. But we really are closer than ever, and suddenly even a few weeks seems pretty unbearable. She is changing and growing at a rate that stuns me, I know it is magnified since we are so far away from her, but wow, do I long to be experiencing and seeing that growth and change. I also know we will be in a whole new world of challenges, but at this point I so want to be there. I am trying to be present here, with Eli and Micah in school, and having more time with Isaac, but I definitely failed yesterday. So, I find myself again, clinging to the Lord and the grace He alone can provide, and praying, praying, praying for good news soon.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

new pictures

We received an update and new pictures of our little Hope last week, including her daily schedule and what she eats. Seeing what her day is like, and even simple things like what she is used to eating has definitely got us thinking about how much our life will soon change. I have read some blogs lately of families who are home with their kiddos, and just how difficult that transition can be. It's like you move from one state of dependence on the Lord, to another. I don't think (and this is a good thing) that there is really a time in our lives when we can say, "Whew! Now I can relax and not have to pray about life anymore!" There is always another phase coming, a new beginning that is unknown and maybe uncertain where we need God's grace and guidance.

We also heard that we were submitted to the Embassy on Thursday! Now we wait until they have reviewed our case, and either ask for additional information or clarification, or give us clearance to travel and bring her home. We are obviously praying for option #2! :) I seriously can hardly handle her cuteness in these pictures, and the fact that she has grown up SO much!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

school days

The big boys have completed one week of school! We celebrated Friday night with Red Mango, and all of us crashing at 8:30 that night. :) I have experienced so many emotions this week, and at times ones that are conflicting (I wonder if they have too??), but we made it. Last Sunday we returned home from a wonderful trip to Colorado with Aaron's family, that I will write about soon, and made lunches, laid out clothes, and got backpacks ready for the first day of school. Eli and Micah were both excited, I was teary, and Isaac just wanted all of us to "stop talking about school!" That night as I was laying in bed, all I could think about was when I was on bed-rest with them, laying on our couch downstairs, and feeling them have the hiccups at the same time, longing to hold them and SEE them. And now here we are, ready for school. And the scary thing is, everyone tells me time just goes faster from here on out! I cried, and then had the thought, that one of the goals of parenting is to let your kids go. When I look ahead 20 years, I don't want to see 2 grown men that can't leave my side. I want them to be independent and confident on their own. You really do raise your kids to let them go. I know that looks different for everyone, but this was the right step for us at this time.
That first morning, I took them to school. We have about a 16 minute drive, and their school is a little tricky in the parking/drop-off area, so I got kind of confused when we got there. Instead of parking and walking with them to their line-up area, I dropped them off, and had to drive away with Micah just standing looking like he didn't know where to go. I pulled over and parked right away, and ran back to check on him, but he had made it to his class and was fine. I later found out that our good friends who have a 1st grader at the same school were right behind us, and their little guy jumped out and helped the boys find their class. But seeing Micah standing there will forever be burned into my memory, and not really in a good way! Isaac and I went to run errands after that, and it was so weird. So was lunch. For the first time in my life as a mom, I have one kid, and it is this strange mix of missing the boys and enjoying the break. I think that is what has surprised me, that I would feel sad that they were gone, but also a bit of relief that my mind and body have a break from mentally and physically keeping up with 3 boys.
They have done great overall. I know they miss each other during the day, and lunch is hard for them. They sat together once, but usually they just see each other but can't sit together and that is hard. They are super hungry when I pick them up, but not really all that wiped out. It absolutely is an adjustment, for all of us, and I know we all need extra doses of grace for each other.
Saturday they played Legos almost all day, just enjoying being together and at home.

Friday, July 29, 2011

We Passed!!!

We passed court today! I got a phone call on the way home from the grocery store from our caseworker and just waited tensely until she said, "I have good news!" I can't even explain the sense of relief I feel. Like a humongous boulder has been lifted from my shoulders. And tomorrow is her birthday. That is pretty significant to me, and I am so thankful to the Lord for giving us the gift of passing before her birthday.
So, now we have more waiting. :) We will wait a couple of weeks for our agency to gather the right paperwork and then a wait a couple of weeks for them to submit it to the Embassy. Then we will wait to hear from the Embassy if they need anything additional, or redone. Then they will give us our travel clearance, and dates for our trip to finally bring her home. The Embassy has definitely been scrutinizing things more carefully as well, and the process has seemed to take longer for most families at this point. So, I am holding all of these estimates loosely, but just so incredibly thankful to BE at this point.

Proverbs 25:25
"Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land." AMEN to that, and thanks be to the Lord who moved us on to the next step.

happy birthday

Hope Bezualem,
Today is your first birthday! I want you to know we are celebrating your life today, and thanking the Lord for the precious gift of YOU!

We first saw your sweet face on September 8, 2010. I remember I was folding clothes on a Wednesday afternoon, and my phone rang. I looked at the number, and my heart leaped as I realized it was our adoption agency! I answered, and our caseworker Kristin, said, "This is it! I have your referral!" I started crying, and felt overwhelmed, and was just so excited to see you. I called your dad, and he rushed home, and we called Kristin back together, and she sent us your pictures. You were so tiny with huge, dark eyes and soft, dark hair. We were instantly in love with you, and so thankful that the Lord had chosen US to be your parents.

I will also never forget the first moment I saw you in person! We had traveled to Ethiopia for our court date, and got to visit you three times. The first day you were outside with all the other babies from your room enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. I was studying the other babies, trying to find you, when all of a sudden I saw you! My heart leaped as I recognized those big beautiful eyes I had memorized from your pictures. And getting to hold you for the first time, was indescribable. You weren't afraid of me, you were calm and sweet, and I kissed you and thanked the Lord for you, and getting to be with you.

These last 11 months have been filled with so many emotions, as we wait and pray for you. We have been so thankful for updates monthly about your growth and development, and have marveled at how much you have changed. Mostly, though we have loved and longed for you. You have been a part of our family before we ever saw your face, but since we have known you, we think about you constantly.

And we are not the only ones! There are so many friends and family who are praying for you and love you too, and who are so excited to meet you.

Hope, when I think about you, I think about what it will be like to have a little girl in this house full of boys. I think about holding you, kissing your cheeks, seeing you in your crib when you wake up in the morning, and around our table at dinner time. As wonderful as it will be for us, I also know those first few days for you will be confusing, stressful, and maybe even scary. You will be leaving behind everything that you have ever known, and you really won't understand why. I guess I just want you to know, that I understand that as much as I can, and nothing you do will make us love you any less. We are yours, and you are ours, and that is how it will always be from now on.

My other prayer for you Hope, is that you will come to know and love Jesus, and that He will fill your heart in ways that only He can. His love is always enough, His grace is complete, and His power and understanding know no limits. He is carrying us through this process, He comforts, encourages, and challenges us through His word, and gives us what we need for each day. There are so many verses He has shown me, but here are a couple that mean so much to me when I think about you:

Psalm 62: 5, "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him."
Psalm 130:7, "O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption."
Isaiah 40: 29-31, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Hope Bezualem, we are SO thankful for you, we are SO ready for you to be home with us, and we love you SO much!!


*your birthday is actually July 30th, but I started this letter yesterday and finished it this morning, and couldn't figure out how to change the date!

Monday, July 18, 2011

keepin' on

It's tricky to think up new post titles when I feel like I basically write the same thing over and over. :) These last two weeks have been pretty tough, I have struggled more than I have for quite awhile with the same basic things. But, I can say that no matter how confused, disappointed, discouraged, upset, or sad I feel, He has been with me. There has been a whole lot of pouring out my heart to Him (Psalm 62). I was encouraged on Sunday, as our pastor spoke about Ephesians 1:15-23, and Paul's prayer for the Ephesians. They were in very difficult circumstances, but his prayer for them was not that those circumstances would change. It was about them gaining wisdom and revelation to know Christ better, and understanding the hope and power they had because of what Christ had done for them and in them. So, that has been more of my prayer this week. Not as much about our adoption specifically, but more about my heart, and knowing and loving Christ better.
We still have not heard if we have passed court or not. MOWA is getting farther behind schedule, and the rainy season is looming. So we have been trying to stay busy, and here is a little of what we have been up to.

-projects! I love a good project, and it works really well as a distraction from stress too. I have painted our dresser and nightstand, and put together some other furniture we had in our basement to sell on craigslist. I also reworked our bedroom a little bit. Painted some frames, and lamps, changed around some pillows, comforters, and accessories. Nothing major, but it feels refreshed and new to us. I also made a family rules canvas for our family (an idea I saw on other blogs.)

-dollhouse. I brought up my dollhouse from the basement that my dad made me for Christmas one year. I think I was maybe 5? I LOVED this dollhouse and spent countless hours playing with it. It has lived in attics or basements for quite some time, and bringing it out feels so good. I painted it and let the boys play with some of the less breakable furniture I have. My Grandma Geddie made me a lot of ceramic furniture for it, but ceramics and little boys just do not go together very well.

-summer list. I made a summer list for us of fun things to do, and we have almost finished it! I think maybe we were not as ambitious as we could have been. Like going to McDonald's is on our list (yet to be marked off); the boys contribution. We did have our water balloon fight yesterday though! I think I filled balloons for 45 minutes, for maybe a five minute fight. :)

-pictures. This hasn't helped so much in the staying busy/being distracted category, but we received some of the best pictures of Hope to date! A friend who travels to Ethiopia a couple times a year offered to visit her and take some pictures for us. They are beyond precious. The last time we were with her she was just a baby, and she is well on her way to toddler hood now. And she was smiling and laughing in them, which is something I had been longing to see. (We didn't have any picture of her smiling before this.) Truly such a gift to have those.

-package. I sent Hope a package for her birthday, through another family traveling at the end of this month. I know we won't be with her, so being able to send something to her means a lot. I sent a little tag blanket that my aunt made for her (all of my boys have one that they still sleep with, and love), a baby photo album that I filled with pictures of us, and a little toy that Aaron's mom had given us for Christmas. It makes me feel connected to her, at least a little bit.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

june, where did you go?

How is it already July? It just feels like summer got started, and we literally have 33 days until school starts. I have loved this summer. It has been so relaxed, and has just felt right. If we feel like doing school we do it. If we feel like going somewhere, we go. And by we, I guess I mean me. :)

Some highlights from June:

Eli and Micah passed their swimming class! It was awesome to see how much they improved this year, and they really love to swim.

Aaron took all three boys camping for one night with three other dads and their boys. There were 4 dads, and 8 boys, and they all had a blast. The dads were exhausted (it rained and their teepees weren't exactly waterproof), but I think they would all do it again. I for one, being a mom of three boys, will GREATLY encourage them to. :)

All three boys went to Vacation Bible school and loved it. Isaac especially was pretty thrilled to get to go.

We had a party for Eli who stopped sucking his thumb! We had been trying to figure out a way to motivate him to stop, and told him he could have a party if he did. His first choice was Chuck E. Cheese, but we talked him into Dave and Buster's (we had free kids meals, and Aaron had credit for games). All three boys had a great time, but can you say stimulation overload?? So that was great, except that a couple weeks later he started sucking it again, and told me we could just have another party and then he could stop again.

All five of us went to the College World Series in the new stadium. Aaron was given tickets for the championship game, and it was really fun. We found a free parking spot (with a 30 minute walk, thankfully the night was beautiful), and had great seats. The boys really did pretty well. Eli and Micah could have definitely stayed the whole game, but Isaac was ready to go around the 5th inning. Aaron bought a funnel cake and popcorn, and the boys literally swarmed him, their backs to the field, totally focused on eating those snacks as fast as humanly possible. They loved it!

Aaron's brother Miguel, came to town for a very short visit. He and wife and girls are missionaries in the DR, and we miss seeing them so much. It was great to see him, and the boys picked right back up where they left off with him in terms of wrestling, wrestling, and more wrestling.

Eli and Micah went to a Stars Wars Party at our library which they LOVED! Eli has declared Stars Wars his favorite movie, although I don't think he has actually even seen all of one of them. There were two Storm Troopers in full costume, and E and M both took their light sabers (which they consistently refer to as light savers).

June was a great month! So thankful for the many blessings in our lives.