Monday, December 28, 2009

More letters!!:)

After just receiving letters from Tarikwa just the other day, what a great surprise to find 2 more letters in the mailbox today! Katie was so happy to find one for her and one for all of us.

Here's Katie's:

"Dear Katie,

Hi. How are you? I am fine. How was school? I pray for you everyday. I asked God for everything. Then you write me! I can't wait to meet you. I think my court date finished soon. God be with you. Jesus is my hope. I am so happy now to have a sister. I have never had a sister before now I have a sister and I have never had a brothers now have brothers. I love you Katie and God love you.

I love you."

Then ours:

"Dear My all family,

Hi. How are you my family? How was everything. I am fine. Merry Christmas my family. Today I got letter from you. I am so happy because I got a letter from you. Yes I have Christmas in Layla (her orphanage). Yes, my pants size is 12. Hope next Christmas together soon. I like your pictures so much. (We sent her a many pictures of us, the house, her room, the snow!). I hope my pass court finished soon. I like my bedroom. When I come to Minnesota I want to change my name. Please my family change my name.

God love you my family.

Love,
Tarikw"

It is so exciting to receive letters from her. It really helps us to get to know her and her hopes and dreams.

We all wondered somewhere in the back of our minds if she would have the desire to change her name when she came home. Her best friend, Letarik wanted her name changed to the middle name that her family had chosen for her. So her new name is Anaya, which has a beautiful meaning. I believe it means 'gift from God.' Both Letarik and Tarikwa's names have the same meaning, 'history.' I think it is absolutely beautiful and we all LOVE her name. But I also understand that Ethiopian's put a much different weight on names than we do in the West, where most of us name our kids because we like the way it sounds, not for the 'meaning' of the name.

I have to admit that I cried when I read of her desire to change her name. After all, her name and her memories is all she will arrive here with, nothing else. Even though we had given the boys American names before we met them, we realized how special their Ethiopian names were and ended up never calling them by American names. So legally and officially, the boys are Micah Mihiretu and Jameson Misganaw. Also special names with wonderful meanings, both American and Ethiopian. Mihiretu means, "God's mercy," and Misganaw means, "Thanksgiving to God."

So Tarikwa wants her name to be history and desires a new name. I will write her and ask her if she has a name in mind. We have come up with a name that we thought would be her middle name but instead, if she likes it, will be her first name.

I fully understand her desire to want to start over, to have a fresh start. And a new name makes sense, I guess. Tears well up in my eyes as I say that because I really don't want her to change her name. I love the name Tarikwa. She's lost so much in her short life and it just seems like a big deal to lose your name, too. But we will honor her wishes and give her a beautiful new name. I will post the name after I get the ok from her. She should hear it first, don't you think? :)

She also sent a couple photos of her. Don't know where she got them but they are so cute!!

Pray this week that both Jill, Medhanit's (Lilly) mom and us get an embassy date. That will determine when we travel to pick up the girls. Remember that we both think it would be wonderful to travel together so the girls can leave the orphanage together forever?? Maybe God thinks that is a good idea, too!

Many blessings,
Laura

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Some Christmas pics

Misganaw with homemade "schmushmallow" on his face!


I LOVE this picture! Totally cracks me up. Blaine really loves De but they tease each other endlessly. De tends to be a comedian around the house, as you can probably tell. I don't know how he got so covered in marshmallow! I can only imagine what Blaine is saying to him. I love the snarl on Blaine's face. It's all in good fun, I assure you!!


I didn't even know anyone was behind me. Now you see why De makes me laugh constantly!


Yes, it's true...I celebrated my 44th birthday on Christmas Day, hence the 4 candles on the trifle. It was so wonderful to be home to celebrate it.


We got dumped on with the big Christmas snowstorm. It was the most beautiful Christmas ever!!! Mihiretu enjoying some sledding.


If this picture only had sound! Mihiretu's laugh is hilarious. Misganaw is sitting backward on the sled.



Misganaw and Mommy. I have to admit...it was pretty fun!

We had a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebration with our families. My nephew and his wife came from Spokane which made our family complete (except for the one in Ethiopia!). It was the first time our whole family was together for Christmas in 16 years!

We ended up with 20 for dinner but and when we were counting everybody up, I asked Blaine for confirmation on my number. He started out, "Well, we have 7 plus De..." I laughed and reminded him that we still are only 6 and that one of us was still in Africa! He was counting Tarikwa! Sweet, huh?

Blessings,
Laura

"My Family"

I'll try to get the Christmas pictures up sometime today but wanted to share the sweet letters we received yesterday from Tarikwa. It was so sweet. She sent a separate letter to Katie, one to Blake, one to "My Family" and one to Mom and Dad. Receiving them just made our Christmas.

One letter was actually a card in which she wrote in big letters, "HAPPY NEW CHRISMARS." Then inside it says,

"Dear My Family,

How are you my family! How was everything. I am fine. Thank you for your letter to me! I pray every day. I can't wait to meet you. I think you will be here soon. I love you my family. Medhanit say Hi. Have many friend. Their name is Letarik, Eskdar, Eyerus and Beleut. God bless you my family.

I love you My Family."

The other one says,

"Dear Mom and Dad

Hi how are you? How has work? I am fine. I can't wait to meet. I love you mom and dad. I prey everyday. I am hope you be come hare soon. Favorite food is pizza and ice-carem. Jesus is my hope. You are my mom an dad forever. You know Medhanit mom? I love mom dad so much. Jesus love you I love you and God love you. May God bless you mom an dad...

I love you

I love you mom an dad (heart)

Love, Tarikw

How sweet these letters are to us! Blake and Katie's both say, "I am so happy you are my brother. You are my brother forever." "I am so happy you are my sister forever."

Do you notice a theme in these letters? How many times does she say "my family" in the first letter? How many times does she say "you are mine forever"? It is so obvious what matters to her, isn't it? Having a family forever is what matters to her.

Her letters are so sweet and yet so sad at the same time. The fact that she's so excited to have a family forever points out that there was a time she didn't have a family forever. Actually, quite a long time. No child should ever have to go through life without a family. It's just not right. It's not God's plan. But Jesus is her hope!

We are so honored that God in all of His wisdom chose us to be Tarikwa's family.

Blessings,
Laura

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Decorating by Misganaw

Often times people have a difficult time deciding what goes with what. In this case, "What do I put in this vase?"


Or this one?

You know, I would never have thought of a dinosaur but that is one of the benefits of having a 3 year old.

They're also very good at re-decorating the Christmas tree.


It's always good to bunch your ornaments together.


It's even good to hang one from another or even remove a glass icicle from the tree and reinsert it into an upside down hanging baby Jesus' head! It's a neat illusion.


Another example of hanging one ornament from another.



This one has a little of everything. It has a the 'hanging an ornament from another' technique combined with the always popular 'icicle into the horses belly hole' technique. Really lovely.

I overheard Misganaw saying to himself yesterday, "Now, who messed up all these ornaments?"
It was me. I spread them back out and took icicles out of places they didn't belong. Well, I guess he 'fixed' them and added the dinosaurs to the fireplace hearth.

He is available for home consultations on a limited basis. Please comment for an appointment and we'll try to work you in! He's in great demand especially around the holidays because of his expertise with the Christmas tree.

Oh and he'll work for candy.

Blessings,
Laura



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More pics *edit* even more pics!

I just can't help myself! More pics! This is Anaya (Letarik) and Tarikwa in Ethiopia.

Anaya and Tarikwa in their room at the orphanage.

How precious is this one? This is Tarikwa, Anaya and Lilly (Medhanit) before Anaya left for home. Remember Lilly passed court last Tuesday? All 3 of these girls have found forever families and will be home all in the period of 6 months. They range from age 10-12.

Here she is in the 'family' shirt we sent her. The women she is next to took was kind enough to send these pics to me.

I LOVE this picture of Tarikwa with her gift bag. This is the moment she found out that she has a family. Can you imagine how that feels? She's just glowing isn't she?


"My Family!" Proud as a peacock, huh?

Blessings,
Laura

A whole lot of SOMETHING!!!

Who is this beautiful girl in the pink shirt?? She's legally our daughter!!! That's right, I got a surprise email from our agency saying that we had court approval.

This is Tarikwa as she is receiving our gift bag. She's holding a photo album with a pic of our family and the t-shirt she is wearing is the one we sent her with the pictures of our family, including her on it.

I can't believe this day is finally here! The Lord has blessed our family with another daughter and we could NOT be happier today. What a wonderful Christmas present!

Last night, I told Blaine that I would not be calling our agency today and that I just needed to give it up and learn to "wait." So what a surprise to hear from her with this miraculous news!

We will be traveling in February...perfect.

I will add more pictures later when my sweet niece gets here to help me.

For now, I will bask in the goodness of our LORD and you can bask in the cuteness of our daughter:)

Blessings,
Laura (mom to 5 blessings!)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A whole lot of nothing

Each and every day, I wake with great expectations of hearing of a new court date for Tarikwa. When I've heard nothing by 2:30, I start to think about emailing our agency. Even though I know that if they had some information for me, they'd let me know, I still check anyway. The answer is always the same, "Sorry, nothing new."

Today, I checked back (way back) on my email to when we were waiting for a travel date for the boys. That was back in the day when the agency didn't tell you when your court date was. They just notified you after you passed court and told you when you could travel to Ethiopia for your embassy date and to meet and pick up your kid(s).

Well, it kind of cracked me up because I was going crazy then, too! I had entitled one email to our adoption specialist, "Having bad dreams!" I then go on to explain to her that we'd had a wonderful Christmas and hoped she had, too. Then I tell her about my bad dream that I had to call her, was at my wits end and was crying and sobbing on the phone to her, asking her if we had a travel date. Keep in mind, I had a really good relationship with this woman! I then asked her if she thought that something was wrong in our paperwork and reminded her that it had been 8 weeks since we'd accepted the referral of the boys. (As if she'd forgotten!)

She had reassured me that everything was fine and we weren't alone and that it was understandable to be stressed...these are your kids, after all!

It made me laugh to remember how stressed I was at this time. There was a family who had received their referral after us, traveled and brought their child home all before we even got a travel date! This is why I was concerned!

I remember calling my sister in law, Pam (a fellow adoptive mom and one who would understand) and I was literally sobbing, telling her that I just cannot do this anymore. I can't wait another minute. And you know what? I no more than got off the phone, checked my email and saw "Travel date...Feb. 1st!" I bawled even more, knowing God had taken me to the very end of myself.

As you know, it all worked out and we do have these two sweet little boys that live in our home and are our sons! So it does all come together!

Why do I stress? I guess just because it's hard. It's hard to wait to hear. It's hard to know she's there and we're here and we want to be together. It's hard to hang in limbo. It's hard to wait.

Keep praying for her and us and this elusive court date and MOWA letter.

I do have to tell you a funny thing that happened to me when I was getting groceries today. After I swiped my card, the cashier said, "Your total is $115. 75."

I looked at the teeny total on the pin pad and said, "I though you said $115.75." She said, "Yes, that is correct." I thought, "Then why does it say $335.75?"

It was then I stood on my tippy toes just far enough away to see that what my eyes were seeing were actually not 3's but indeed 1's. The cashier and I had a good laugh, for you see, she also was over 40.

Lesson for the day...wear your glasses! I wonder what else I'm missing??

Blessings,
Laura

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sitting on MOWA's desk

Ours and others' letters are still sitting on the desks of the MOWA experts. Our files are still pending.

I asked, "In the past, what does this usually look like?"

She said that more recently, in the 5 cases where this has happened the cases have been rescheduled in 2 weeks. Last year, when this happened it was taking 4-6 weeks to reschedule the court cases.

Even though I KNOW that God's timing is right and best and I trust Him fully, it feels as though I've been kicked in the stomach. This is really, really hard news to receive.

I'll be honest with you...I want my daughter OUT of the orphanage and home with us! She's been waiting long enough to be a loved and adored part of a family. She's watched her best friend leave and if this drags on long enough, will watch her other close friend leave. Can you imagine being an 11 or 12 year old and having to go through that? Let alone all the other very difficult things she's had to endure in her short life.

So we continue to wait.

Please pray for the MOWA experts to be moved to action right away. Pray that they can't sleep or eat until they get this taken care of for these kids. I know they are probably overworked and are certainly underpaid. Pray that they find more time in their day to get these kids letters over to the court or get new court dates scheduled.

Pray for Tarikwa-that she is not in a panic about what she most certainly does not understand is going on. Pray for peace and comfort for her heart and mind. Pray that she knows how much we love her and are trying to come for her.

Pray for us. Pray for the other kids who are in the very same situation right now.

Thank you in advance.

Blessings,
Laura


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Still waiting...

De and Katie making pasta. Katie would kill me if she knew I posted this pic!

Misganaw and Mihiretu making sugar and cinnamon rolls.

Little hands. What could be cuter?

Baby it's cold outside!

I did hear yesterday from our agency and she gave me a little tidbit. The representative of the agency is pushing the court to review our cases still this week. She said we'd have to wait until "tomorrow" meaning today. So I am waiting.

It is difficult to wait and not know. God continues to give me peace as I need it, which is about every 15 minutes! He gave me a very tangible message yesterday.

Yesterday was a snow day!! Our districts' first in 4 years. Yipee!! The boys went outside to play and I began preparing some bread dough that the boys would make into cinnamon and sugar rolls when they came in. But first, I needed some music...Christmas music. Now keep in mind, I still have trouble simply turning the TV or DVD player on at times. I know, I know:) So I go to the stereo, hook up the iPod (at this point it's a 50/50 chance that I'm going to get it to work, let alone get Christmas music on!) To my surprise, it comes on. And what is the very first song I hear? "All Is Well" by Michael W. Smith. It's a beautiful Christmas song. I have many CD's worth of Christmas music on that iPod. And what came up wasn't, "White Christmas" or "Frosty the Snowman, " it was "All Is Well." I knew God set that up just for me to hear right then (because there is no way I could have done that!). He's reassuring me and telling me not to worry, He's got it ALL under His control. So that's what I keep saying over and over to myself every 15 minutes or so. Isn't He good to meet me exactly where I am?

So we hope to hear something today and when I do, I'll let you know.

I gotta get Tarikwa's Christmas card written out as there is a family traveling on Saturday and have agreed to deliver it for us. FedEx, here I come again!!

Keep praying!

Laura

*Update-the agency here heard nothing from the representative in Ethiopia today:( He said he'd update when he had news. Tomorrow being weeks-end, he will update them regardless of news. So here's praying for good NEWS!

I had to add some pictures to brighten up the day!

All is well, Laura. All is well, Laura. :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The latest on our delay

I've been emailing our agency back and forth trying to get some answers on what happened.

In a nutshell:

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was closed Friday and since they must send an approval letter to the court for the adoption, it couldn't get done for the court cases that were to be heard on Monday. When the representative from our agency showed up at court, he found a note on the door stating "no cases would be heard today."

The court did say that they would approve cases once they got the approval letters from MOWA, without another court date having to be set up. However, it seems that they have said this same thing before only to change their mind and eventually require another court date to be scheduled. What we do know is that our case is now 'pending' and was not rescheduled. I was told that in a situation like this, "All we can ever do is wait and see what will happen. There is no way to predict how things will play out."

'Pending' is sort of a frustrating place to be. It feels like we're just floating out in nowhere land because there are no answers.

But God knows. He has the answers and His timing is always perfect. So we continue to trust in the One who is trust-worthy. He loves our daughter more than we do. He is all wise and all knowing and all loving.

So I'm asking for prayer that the court will keep their word and do what they said they will do, which is approve our court case as soon as they receive the approval letter from MOWA and NOT require another court case to be scheduled.

We really appreciate all the prayers from you and the encouraging words!

Now on to some wonderful, wonderful news!!! Tarikwa's friend at the orphanage DID pass court today. They weren't even scheduled for court until tomorrow! But the email came today to her happy Mom that she indeed did pass and she is officially part of their family!!! I can't tell you how thrilled I am for her and her new family! God is so very good.

I'll update as I get any news. In the meantime, pray!

Love,
Laura

Monday, December 7, 2009

Delayed

This doesn't look like 'priple' to me!


We couldn't agree on a shade of 'priple' so we went with Tarikwa's other favorite color, BLUE!

We had lots of help building her furniture!

Such eager helpers!

And here is the end result...

Introducing...TARIKWA'S NEW ROOM!!!!!!! There is a dresser on the opposite wall as her bed.

If you've seen the movie, "Blindside" we tried to pick the same color walls that Michael's new room was. We think it turned out beautifully...perfect for a pre-teen.

Now all we need is Tarikwa!!

It seems that the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MOWA) was closed on Friday and therefore didn't issue any letters recommending the adoptions that were scheduled for today. There was a note left on the locked doors of the court explaining this.

Jill, my friend who's adopting a good friend of Tarikwa received an email stating that she was rescheduled for the 9th. The only email we received stated that the agency would let us know when they knew about rescheduling.

So what does this mean?? Does it mean that we were scheduled for Tuesday, the 8th and our case will be heard then without needing to be rescheduled? We were told either the 7th or the 8th. Is ours also rescheduled for the 9th with Jill?? I guess I have absolutely no idea. But God knows and we trust His wisdom and timing. But in the meantime we continue to wait.

Thank goodness I am such an experienced waiter:)

Keep praying!

Blessings,
Laura


Sunday, December 6, 2009

On pins and needles

While we sleep tonight (or possibly tomorrow night) Tarikwa will be in an Ethiopian court, having her case heard before a judge. If all things are in order, she will legally be declared our daughter. If you haven't been through this, it's hard to describe how it feels.

It feels absolutely wonderful to finally be at this point...court. We are so close!

It feels overwhelming to think that we could be traveling next month!

It feels so exciting to know we will meet her soon!

It feels humbling to think that God sees us worthy of being her parents and family.

Her bedroom was painted on Saturday and today, after a trip to Ikea, her bedroom is complete! May I just say it looks gorgeous! Katie and I had fun lying on her bed just imaging her in her room.

I will post some lovely bedroom pics tomorrow. Be prepared...you are in for a surprise!

Hope to post some wonderful news tomorrow or Tuesday. Pray that her case will be successful:)

Blessings,
Laura

Friday, December 4, 2009

Want a laugh?


Misganaw is one of the funniest little kids I know. He'a always saying something funny and I have to share the highlights of the week.

So here's a little 3 year old humor, just in case you've had a hard week:)

As told by Katie: Last night, Misganaw entered Katie's room and announced to her, "Katie, I'm brown. Do you like me?"

Katie, "Yes, I love that you're brown."

Misganaw, "And you're peachy!"

Katie, "Yes, I am."

Misganaw, "I'm brown and you're peachy but there is candy in your room that is green and I'm just wondering if I could have it so I could put it in my brown tummy??"

Then this morning, Misganaw woke up just as Blaine was getting out of the shower. He went out to put on PBS for him, wearing his towel.

Misganaw, "Dad, I'm brown."

Dad, "Yes, you are. What color am I?"

Misganaw, "You are peachy AND you have spots!"

(A side effect that is lingering from the boat load of Prednisone he was on this summer)

Then I was asked last night by a neighbor, "Did you hear what Misganaw said to Tom (our neighbor) at your party last week?"

I'm thinking, "Brace yourself, Laura!" This neighbor is very sweet, sort of a Santa Claus type.
Got a picture in your mind now?

She goes on, "He went up to Tom, and while poking him in the tummy said, "You (poke) must (poke) eat (poke) a lot (poke, poke!)"

The moral of the story is that you might not want to spend time with Misganaw if you have any insecurities because he's sure to point out any flaw you might have!

Have a blessed weekend!

Laura (who is peachy and short!)








Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The countdown begins

Ok, it began months ago really but now it's getting so close. Tarikwa's court date in Ethiopia is in only 5 or 6 days from today! We've been praying that all her paperwork is in order, all T's are crossed and I's are dotted, and that the correct people show up for the court hearing. If these things don't happen, she doesn't pass and then we all continue to wait. I trust God and after all we've been through, realize that His timing is perfect in all things.

I can't help but think in 5 or 6 short days, this child will officially and legally belong to a family. Her last name will change to ours and she will be our daughter. Wow, it's really an overwhelming thought. This sweet girl, who has prayed to be a part of a family who cherishes her for way too long, soon will officially be our child. Yea!!!!!!

Speaking of Tarikwa, as we were sitting at breakfast the other morning, Blaine announces, "I think we need to repaint Tarikwa's room purple." Now you do remember that we had the house all professionally painted after the house was rebuilt. In a letter we received from her, she stated she liked the colors yellow, green and red. So we had her room painted a very pretty yellow. The last two letters we've gotten, you will remember, she said she likes "priple and blue." So Daddy's little girl is getting a "priple" room on Saturday!! Then Sunday, we'll go purchase her bedroom furniture from Ikea and spend hours and hours assembling it! So worth every second!! I told Blaine, "I think you are going to spoil this child silly!" He replied, "Yeah, it's going to be hard not to."

I'm trying to remind the family that we need to be very careful about having expectations of how she'll react to "things." It is typical that children who have never had anything, don't know how to take care of things naturally. It seems logical that if you've never had anything of your own, the first "thing" you receive, you'd take care of with great care. Not true in reality. Being careful with "things" is learned, from my experience anyway. So we don't want to give her too much until she learns this. We're still working on this with Mihiretu! Actually, he's so much better than he was:) But I agree, we all will struggle to hold back from giving her everything she's never had before. But a "priple" room, she will have.

Even though her court date is always on my mind, I have to say that I'm not nervous or stressed about it, at least at this point. God has worked everything out in terms of her joining our family and I trust that He will continue to do this. He puts the lonely in families. It's His job. It's His heart. We praise Him for blessing us with another daughter!

I had a conversation recently with someone I consider to be a godly woman. She has a very godly husband. They have one child, a freshman in college. They are loving and doting parents. She asked me about our adoption of Tarikwa, wondering how it was coming along. I told her and she said, "I sure wish we could adopt. But we're too old." I assured her they were NOT too old, at least not for a little bit older child. She said that she'd love to have a couple more but her husband wouldn't be in favor of it.

There is a lot to that conversation, I realize. I know she's not exposed to the adoption world in the way that we are and many of you are. Because of this, she can't imagine adopting a child who is not a baby or young toddler. She would want to have the child at a young age so she could mold them more effectively. I totally get that.

It made me sad and since this meeting, I've begun praying for her that God would show her His will for her life in regards to the orphan. I also took it as a bit of a challenge. Why has she never been exposed to the beauty of adoption, including older child adoption? I guess because sadly, there are so few people doing it. It makes me sad to think that people I consider very godly have not understood that the orphan and widow are at the very heart of God. He considers the care of them to be "pure and faultless religion." Pure and faultless.

Well, God has caused our paths to cross. I hope that as she and others look and observe our little family, they see that this is not only do-able, but that it is an enormous blessing.

With 147 million orphan children, we really can't afford to wait. This is an emergency. This isn't going to make me popular with some but I'm going to say it anyway. If we look at this the way it is...as an emergency...we'd act.

Think of the Jews during the Holocaust. I have said many times, "Where were the people of God? How did they allow this to happen? People were dying. Where were the Christians?"

I'm afraid that one day, the same will be said of our generation.

In my next post, I will include ideas for those of you who are interested in caring for orphans. We all have a part to play.

Many blessings,
Laura

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving-Where do I begin?

I am more thankful this Thanksgiving that ever before. It might be easier for me if I make a list.

I am thankful that God has given us a new daughter, Tarikwa who is waiting for us to come get her in Ethiopia.

I am thankful that on April 3, 2009 when the smoke alarms went off in our house, every person got out unharmed.

I am thankful for a mother in law who, when 7 people came and invaded her once peaceful home, she didn't ask us when we were going to find other arrangements!

I am thankful for the relationships we made with the workers at the reconstruction company who painstakingly cleaned and restored the items worth saving from the fire.

I am thankful that hard drives are made of porcelan, making them very heat resistant, which saved the pictures that were on our computer.

I am thankful that the kids baby books were saved.

I am thankful for the patience I developed in all the waiting we had to do.

I am thankful that through everything we went through, God held our hands and guided us through every trial. He gave us strength that we couldn't have had on our own.

I am thankful for the family who bent over backward to help us. We could not have survived as well without them. I love you. May God bless you richly!

I am thankful for friends and neighbors who encouraged us, loved us, helped us, gave to us, cared for us, made us meals and helped with the kids.

I am thankful for Abbott NW Hospital, who was quick to diagnose and treat Blaine when he became paralyzed in July.

I am thankful for the family who helped us through this, yet another obstacle.

I am thankful that Blaine's diagnosis wasn't transverse myelitis (probably not a complete recovery) but was acute demyelinating encephylomyelitis (a much better outcome).

I am thankful that Blaine shocked the entire medical staff when he demanded to be released from the hospital 8 days after admission. Miracle of miracles!

I am thankful that not only did he leave the hospital after only 8 days, he did so on his own two feet. Praise God for only He could do such a thing!

I am thankful for my beautiful family, who under the stress bonded together to support each other and didn't pull apart.

I am thankful that Blaine is no longer on Prednisone! Seriously!

I am thankful for October 15th, the day we moved back home.

I am thankful for my kitchen and the enjoyment it gives me to be in it.

I am thankful that my kids can sleep in peace and aren't afraid of fire.

I am thankful that my Bible is still usable despite it's crispy cover and the fact that it got waterlogged.

I am thankful that my recipes were saved from my recipe box, which didn't survive.

I am thankful that my address book was saved so I can write my Christmas cards out without a ton of work trying to regather all my addresses.

I am thankful that when God says that He'll never leave us or forsake us, He means it.

I could go on and on and on but I need to stop somewhere. These are just a few things off the top of my head but here are so many more. God has taught our family so much this year through His faithfulness to us. We have grown deeper in our level of thankfulness to Him.

May we never lose that or forget His goodness.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Blessings,
Laura


Monday, November 23, 2009

Wonderful weekend

This past weekend was one of those great weekends. I looked forward to it all week!

Friday night, the women in our family went to "Dazzle and Dine" at our church. It's the women's Christmas dinner and music time. We've done it for a few years and it's become a Christmas tradition. How it works is that each table of has a 'sponsor' (for lack of a better word) who does the decorating of their table. This person it my mom, who takes her job VERY seriously:) She brings her beautiful English china, right down to the little spoons that sit on the teacup saucer, positioned the right way, of course! She loves doing this every year and always has a beautiful table. This year was even more special with the announcement that my nephew, Mike had asked his lovely girlfriend, Holly to marry him just a couple hours before the dinner! So our table had a special shine to it...Holly's smile that could not be wiped off her face!

Then Saturday night, Blaine and I took the older kids and De to dinner and to see "The Blind Side" movie. If you haven't seen it, go see it! If you remember, I had it on my blog several weeks ago as a preview. It's the true story of Michael Oher, a young man who had great potential but had no home and no loving and nurturing parent in his life. A family who is driving home sees him walking at night in the cold rain and offers to give him a couch to sleep on. It ends up being a life defining moment for all of them but they don't realize that at the time. It's an inspiring movie and I found myself choked up from the very beginning of the movie through to the end. I saw pieces of our family in this movie.

When they see Michael on the street and the wife gets out of the car to invite him to come home with them the son asks the dad, "What is Mom doing?" The dad replies, "I've seen this look on her face before." Blaine laughed and I knew just what he was thinking. He's seen that look on my face before and could relate!

There's also a part where their high school age daughter is studying in the library with her friends when Michael walks in to study. Her friends give him a dirty look but after a few seconds, she gets up, walks away from her friends and sits by Michael. Not the 'popular' thing to do. This is my Katie to a tee. (Blake, too actually)

Katie's boyfriend, De was adopted when he was 15. He reminds me so much of Michael, a boy who has so many reasons to be angry at the world but instead is the kindest, gentlest, sweetest boy you've ever met. I often think, "What if De's dad hadn't taken a chance on him. Where would he be?" I hate to even imagine it. We love him so much. Like Michael, he continues to grow and learn and blossom. It's a beautiful thing so observe and be a part of.

I KNOW that Blake and Katie are the way they are in large part because they traveled to Ethiopia, saw what they saw, fell in love with the culture and the people, had their hearts broken and have little brothers of a different culture and race than their own. I cannot tell you the satisfaction and the humility it brings to my heart to tell you that our Thanksgiving table will be have a very international flair to it this year. Katie's best friend at school happens to be a Somali girl who is Muslim. Interestingly, they have much in common because they neither of them are party girls. They share similar morals and just love each other. We love her, too. She asked if she could come to experience an American Thanksgiving, having never done that before. So the menu took a slight change and the ham lovers will just have to choke down turkey this year because we will not offend our Muslim friend:)

Blake has also befriended a young man at college who is from Nepal and is a Hindu. He has also never experienced an American Thanksgiving and we are thrilled to have him. Of course, Rene (our son from Ghana) will be in attendance. Having experienced his first Thanksgiving with us last year, he's anxious to do it again. We miss him and are so excited to see him!

These kids are lonely and quite isolated in our American schools and culture. Few kids want to be friends with the kid who is 'different' than them. Not real popular, you know?? Remember high school?? Yeah. But they are missing out. How does the Bible say that people will know we are Christians again??

By our love!

That brings me back to the movie. I can't help but wondering, "Will this movie impact others to see the beautiful potential in the life of a child who has no home or nurturing and loving parent to guide them?" Oh, I hope and pray it will.

I don't know about you, but when I see a movie like that, all that is inside of me screams, "I want to be a part of something huge like that, the changing of a life!!" Do you feel that way? What could be more powerful and important? Few things could have as great an impact on eternity as this.

Ok, enough said...just go see it! Before you go, pray and ask God if he has a role for you to play in the life of someone who needs you.

Oh, and remember...you're not too old. Can I just say that I haves new friend who are grandparents and possibly in their 60's who adopted 4 boys (age 7-17) when they were babies but are adopting another 7 year old right now?? They are a wonderful family! And the blessing is great!

Then on Sunday, Blaine and I had a neighborhood potluck to thank our neighbors for their love to us after our fire. We had about 25-30 neighbors show up and we had a wonderful time!! You might remember, they collected a large amount of money for us which we used for immediate needs after the fire. They watched over our house during construction, called us to check up on us, emailed, sent cards and cried for us. I know that everyone thinks that they have the most fantastic neighbors BUT we actually do! Good neighbors are a gift from God. If you don't know your neighbors, take the first step and invite a few neighbors over for dessert. You won't regret it! And when you need them, they will be there for you like ours were.

If you made it through this long post, congrats! I have lots on my mind this Thanksgiving. I have never been more thankful on Thanksgiving than I am this year! I can honestly say this for certain.

This is just a warning that the Thanksgiving post may be longer than this one! Yikes!

Love and blessings,
Laura






Thursday, November 19, 2009

Is she a Daddy's girl??

We received two precious letters from Tarikwa today! One envelope said, "Mom E____", the other "Dad E____." So that part was fair BUT when we opened them up, one was significantly longer than the other! And it wasn't mine! They were similar in what they said but since Daddy's was longer, I'll share that one with you:)

"Dear Dad,

How are you? I'm fine. how is work? Thank you adopt me. My favorite colors is priple and my favorite movies is High School Musical" and "The Little Princess, "Camp Rock". October 16 Sunday I go to Teddy Afro concert and I hope because I see Teddy Afro you know Tedd Afro. You know Teddy Afro do you like music by Teddy Afro. I like Teddy Afro. I know Blake is love music and I like to music. My birthday is August 7. I pray for you every day. My favorite player is soccer and computer games.

I love Jesus very very much. I love you too.

I hope you come to here soon. I hope you injoing by my letter. I love you and God love you.

You are my Dad forever.
Bye" (with a heart)


Ok, how adorable is THAT??? I do believe that this girl is a Daddy' girl.

But how cool, we have a birthday!! August 7th. That's the first time we've heard that. Blaine is August 2 and Mihiretu is August 10th! Sounds like a busy month, huh?

Don't worry, I am NOT jealous of the fact that my letter was shorter than Blaine's ;) But let me tell you, Blaine is very, very proud of this fact. He took the letter when he was home for lunch back with him to work to show everyone his letter from his daughter! I can't blame him. It's very sweet, isn't it?

I guess we need to get to know Teddy Afro, huh??? I did youtube him and he is pretty cool. We'll have to download some of his music on Katie's iPod to take with us for her.

I have a couple funny Mihiretu and Misganaw stories to tell you.

Misganaw, yesterday morning-"Mom, I don't want to buckle up in my car seat today."

Me-"We have to buckle you up."

Misganaw-"Yeah, or the po-po will chase us down and I'll be in trouble."

Rene (my son from Ghana-Blake's friend) was pulled over for a speeding ticket recently and Misganaw heard me telling Blaine what he'd told me which was, "The po-po pulled me over."

Then he was telling me about a girl from pre-school, Mimi. I asked him, "Is Mimi your friend?"

Misganaw-"No, you're my MOM!"

Me me, get it?

When I was driving Mihiretu home from Wed. night church, we passed Burger King and he told his friend, Carlos, "I LOVE berebere (sounds like burbur) King!"

Berebere is the wonderful Ethiopian spice which he loves.

Some say potato, some say potahto. We say Burger, Mihiretu hears berebere.

This language thing is one of the funniest things about adopting older kids internationally! Can't wait to hear what Tarikwa has to say!! Of course, her favorite color is priple!!

Isn't it wonderful and impressive that she can communicate so well!!??

It's amazing how little you can know a person, but LOVE them so much!

Blessings,
Laura


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Guess what we got??

We had a beautiful summer-like break from a cool fall this week. It didn't look like our house would get painted before winter. As you can see, it is a few unmatched colors, grey primer, white primed trim, the primed siding color and on the front porch, the original house color...plus a little soot. Yuck!

The finished product as of this morning. I should have waited to take this pic until the sun was in a better position but I was so excited! The only part that is painted is the front and the back and sides will wait until spring to get done. What a blessing not to have to look at the mismatched colors all winter!


A funny thing happened on our way to have dinner at Fasika Ethiopian Restaurant Saturday night! I backed into a dumpster and shattered the window into a million pieces. How did I do this? Well, I have to admit that I got frustrated when a man told me I couldn't park in my chosen space and too quickly backed up into the dumpster. Totally my fault. Lesson learned! No one was hurt as I had everyone go out to get us a seat, thankfully. Otherwise, Mihiretu was sitting in that back seat and would have had glass all over him. Thank you, God for Your protection! The obvious bummer was instead of enjoying wonderful wat and injera for dinner, we had to leave and opt for burgers...ugh.

Today was a wonderful and very exciting day! It began with our restoration company sending a crew out to our home to do their final cleaning.

I asked them, "What are you going to clean?"

They replied, "Whatever you want."

Me, "REALLY??? Are you serious?? Anything??"

"Yep."

So all day, these wonderful people cleaned our house from top to bottom, including windows inside and out! What a blessing!!

Then I got to go get my hair done this afternoon. It's a luxury I enjoy to it's fullest. It's 2 hours all to myself, doing nothing. I love it! Should do it more often.

Then, and here is THE MOST EXCITING thing of the day...are you ready??? I saved it till the end. We got a court date for Tarikwa!! Group S all have court dates on December 7th and 8th. Not sure exactly which families will have which day, but it's good enough for me. When Tarikwa passes court in Ethiopia, it means she is officially and legally our child. We are so excited to have our sweetie home and this is a huge step closer to that end. My friend, Jill also has the same dates as we do so I am praying that our girls will pass court on the first try and that we will get to travel to pick them up together! What a joy it would be if they could leave the orphanage together!

So if we pass court (I mean 'when'), they will let us know a week later the date we will travel. That date is 4-8 weeks from then. So I'm still thinking that we will go get our sweetie in January sometime. Sounds perfect to me!

Blaine, the little boys and I (not sure if I mentioned this before) had the opportunity to be part of a video of adoptive families done by our church. We were asked to explain how adoption has blessed our family. Blaine did a wonderful job of explaining his points in one take. Me it took several. I can only hope that the editing will make me look better that I actually did! Anyway, it is showing this Sunday at church. I'm super excited to see it! My boys on the big screen...awwww. We were so happy to be a part of something to promote adoption and the cause of the orphan.

I have to share one more thing with you. The other day I was so blessed to read my Amanda's blog. It effected me profoundly and I think it will you, too. Her blog address is:

afamilywithoutborders.blogspot.com

The title is "Finishing Well" and you'll want a box of kleenex nearby when you read it.

Blessings,
Laura




Sunday, November 8, 2009

Orphan Sunday today

Today is Orphan Sunday. The recognition of this day bring all sorts of emotions to the surface in me. I think of the faces of children, longing for a family. I think of kids with unmet medical needs, who's circumstances do not allow for treatment...simply because of where they were born, now compounded by the fact that they are orphans. I think of the older kids who are in desperate need of a family because if they age out of their orphanage, what does their future hold? The picture is bleak.

But there is hope. I have noticed an increase in the receptiveness of people when it comes to adoption, even older child adoption. God is changing hearts and showing people what I seem to have missed for years and that is that, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

You know, people all over the world say, "Religion is the cause of the worlds problems."

What if we as Christians truly followed this verse, how would the world view 'religion'? How would the world change? If Christians truly took care all of the orphans and widows in this world...I mean food, housing, clothing, medical care, spiritual help, love, friendship...true sacrifice on our part kind of care...what would happen in our world? Have you ever thought about it that way? How do you think the world would view Christians and Christianity then?

But this is what Jesus expects of us. It's not a suggestion or just a good idea.

You want to have pure and faultless religion in the eyes of God? The answer is simple. Then look after the orphans and widows and keep yourself from being polluted by the world.

The other verses that always come to my mind when it comes to orphans is Mark 12:30-31 which says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater that these."

Jesus said this after being asked by one of the teachers of the law, which is the most important commandment?

What does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself? I try to teach my kids about this all the time. I ask them in age appropriate ways, "If you see your neighbor starving, or unclothed, or unmedicated or without a home and you do nothing, is that love? If you see a student without a friend, is that love?"

Today, the little boys and I are filling a Christmas box for a child who would not otherwise receive a Christmas gift this year. I asked the boys at the breakfast table this morning, "When you were in Ethiopia, did you ever get a Christmas gift?" Mihiretu said, "No."
This is a simple way to begin teaching young children how to love their neighbor as themselves. Mihiretu "gets" this on a personal level. He "gets" how much it will mean to a child who has never received a gift to get one this year. He never had a gift before he joined our family and he remembers this. It's a great start for a young child to learn to care for others.

So how would the world change if we loved God first with all we have and love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves?

It would turn it upside down...that's what would happen.

What role can you play in turning the world upside down? Pray and earnestly ask God and He will show you.

Blessings,
Laura

Monday, November 2, 2009

Group S

My mom with her great granddaughter, Hadley. Remember I got to assist in her birth?? :)


Mihiretu, who is NOT afraid of the pumpkin guts, scooping away.


Misganaw's finished product.


Katie and De with their masterpieces. Katie would be thrilled that I put this picture of her here for the world to see, but what she doesn't know, won't hurt her, right??


A construction worker and a little fireman at our churches Harvest Party. Sorry about the blurry picture.


I just called and got word that we were added to group S! This means we are in a group with Jill, my friend who is adopting a good friend of Tarikwa's. She's a wonderful Christian lady and I've been praying that maybe, just maybe, we could travel to get our girls together. Wouldn't it be great to see them get to leave the orphanage together to go HOME to their families??

We should hear about a court date assignment in within 10 days. I was told not to count on a court date any earlier than Nov. 25th, but quite possibly it could be early in Dec. If she passes court on the first try (pray that she will), Katie and I would travel to get her 6 weeks later, give or take. So I think it looks like end of January, but of course in the world of international adoption, one never knows until it happens! But it is great just to make some progress. It feels more real when you hear talk of court and travel.

We sent a long letter down for her with a traveling parent who is in Ethiopia now. It is a special letter since each of the kids wrote to their new sister, told her they loved her and how much they think about her. Mihiretu drew a picture of the pool table, Tarikwa and him holding pool cues, playing pool:) Then he wrote his name. Not to be left out, Misganaw did a little scribble, too! I FedEx'ed it to the traveling family so it would get there on time and I'm sure glad I did since it appears that there will be no traveling families during the month of November, which means no letters:( I'm just glad this last one was a very special one for her. So now we await her reply and expect she will write to us and send a letter with the family that brought ours to her. Can't wait!!

We did a little more clothes shopping for Miss Tarikwa the other day. Boy, it's fun to buy girl clothes! Of course, Katie must be along to approve of her sisters clothes! She has a great sense of style and I must admit, is usually right about these things so I defer to her. Actually, I thank the Lord for her...that she cares so much about her new sister.

Can I just make a suggestion about Halloween next year? Can we skip it? We'd all have to agree on this one to make it work. Is anyone else ready to pull their hair out with little ones begging for and sneaking candy? Let me know if I can count on your support;)

Blessings,
Laura

Friday, October 30, 2009

Baking bread

This little boy wants to bake or cook something with me every day. Today we chose to bake bread.


Not only did we bake bread, we ground our own flour in my new Vita Mix. Yep, I've gone off the deep end. It was super easy and quick but it is LOUD!

This bread rose like none I've ever made before!! I know one is bigger but that's just me not making the dough even in the pans. Are these huge, gorgeous loaves of bread or WHAT? It must be the fresh, ground flour. I only wish you could smell it. Mmmmmmmm...

Blessings,
Laura

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A letter from Tarikwa!

The Thursday we moved back home, we received the most wonderful email. It was from a woman who works for our adoption agency and was in Ethiopia when our sweetie received her long awaited gift bag!! She graciously relayed the experience to me.

"Tarikwa was in a room being tutored by a volunteer and initially we couldn't find her when it was announced there was a welcome bag with her name on it. Her friends were racing around shouting her name and we finally realized where she was. That girl has a beaming smile...but at that moment, it was brighter than I'd ever seen it. Just pure joy! I think she had been despairing of ever having a family, especially after L left. Her friends surrounded her and they were all hugging and congratulating her...just so so so cute to watch. Then we took pictures of her opening the bag, looking at the photos. Her eyes were just huge as she examined each picture. She kept pronouncing each of your names and her new last name. "I will be Tarikwa E_____, right?...My father is Blaine, my mother is Laura, etc."

"When I arrived the next morning, she came right up tome with the book and named off the whole family, the ages of "my new brothers, my new sister..." It was just a moment to melt your heart."

Then she helped Tarikwa write a letter to us which we received Tuesday, last week! It is so sweet.

It reads;

"Dear family,
Hi my family. How are you? I am very happy because you are my family. I pray for you every day. I like colors blue. I love Jesus a very much. I love sport soccer team Arsenal. I love very much MY FAMILY, mom and dad."

Then she wrote the word "family" and surrounded it with a heart. With some more "I love you's" she signed it "From: Tarikwa E____"

Getting this information was like a huge hug for my mommy heart!

I can now visualize her receiving her gift bag with clarity! What a wonderful moment! Even if I wasn't there I feel as if I was. Thank you, Susan from the bottom of our hearts!

We also received a couple super, duper photos of her. In one she is holding our gift bag and her face says it all...pure joy! In the second one, she is wearing the t-shirt we sent her with all our faces on it, along with hers. She looks very proud!

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to be 1 of 3 families to take part in the making of a video for our church to honor "National Adoption Month" in November. The subject was, "How has adoption blessed your family?" It was fun and of course, I flubbed my lines but Blaine delivered his lines flawlessly. Thank goodness for editing!

We are still waiting to hear on a court date for Tarikwa. Hopefully soon!

Thank you all for all your kind words and blessings. They mean so much.

Blessings,
Laura

Thursday, October 22, 2009

If You Want Me To

Thank you for all your sweet comments! Indeed, He makes all things new!

The other day, I mentioned a song that had been playing over and over in my head since the fire. I wanted to share the lyrics with you because I have a sneaky suspicion that some of you need some encouragement and assurance that God is faithful and we can trust Him, no matter what life throws at us.

"If You Want Me To"
The pathway is broken
And the signs are unclear
And I don't know the reason why You brought me here
But just because You love me the way that You do
I'm gonna walk through the valley
If You want me to

No I'm not who I was
When I took my first step
And I'm clinging to the promise You're not through with me yet
So if all of these trials bring me closer to You
Then I will go through the fire
If You want me to

It may not be the way I would have chosen
When You lead me through a world that's not my home
But You never said it would be easy
You only said I'll never go alone

So when the whole world turns against me
And I'm all by myself
And I can't hear You answer my cries for help
I'll remember the suffering Your love put You through
And I will go through the darkness
If You want me to

When I cross over Jordan, I'm gonna sing, gonna shout
Gonna look into your eyes and see you never let me down
So take me on the pathway that leads me home to you
And I will walk through the valley if you want me to

Yes, I will walk through the valley if you want me to.

It's a song by Ginny Owens. She has a gorgeous, pure voice. She's also blind, hence the references to walking through the darkness.

I also feel it's a song for our family. We walked through fire.

Many people are walking through a valley in their lives right now. I have friends who have recently been laid off and don't know what the next step will be. Please remember that we are not in control, never were and never will be. All we have and are is because God has given to us. He knows the future, he knows the plans He has for us and we will never go alone. Rest in this fact. Pray and ask for His guidance and clear direction.

May this song be your prayer and encourage you as it has me.

Sorry for the messed up fonts!

Blessings,
Laura


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Before and after in pictures

Well, if pictures are worth a thousand words, these are priceless. The before pictures were taken on April 3, 2009, the day of the fire. (remember it was in the wee hours of the morning) The after ones were taken today, October 21, 2009. What a difference 6 months can make!
We changed things a little, moving the fireplace to the corner. We like it.
Yuck, our shower full of soot.
All clean!
If this image isn't bad enough, imagine the smell and continual dripping water from the insulation.
Ahhhhhh.......
This is our dining room. The light is who knows where and what's left of the dining room table and chairs is lying out in the back yard. I think the firefighters threw it out the window.
All restored!
Another view of the dining room.
All new.
The most devastating for me. The first time I tried to walk in the door, I had to turn and leave for a while. We had just had a party the night before, enjoying fajitas with friends. From that to this was just too much for me to bear.

New and 2 feet wider. Super functional and full of storage space!!

We are so, so, so thankful to be home!

Blessings,
Laura