Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ok, I'm getting excited now *photos added*

This is the area where the fire started. What an improvement! Blaine is working on staining the new deck.

The new fireplace in the living room.

Mihiretu's soccer game this past Saturday.

Look at that determined face on my guy! He did score 2 goals this day against a team that is undefeated. When I say undefeated, I mean like 12-0 each game. Not this day, however. Our team won 5-2!

Well, things are moving now on the home front! Now that there are 2 1/2 weeks until the target move-in date, the work has ramped up significantly...Praise the LORD! They say we WILL be in on the 15th of October and I can't tell you how excited I am just to say that.

When I went out yesterday, there were several workers there all doing their thing. That hasn't been the case for the past few weeks so it is a relief to see it now happening. I finally feel like it's real. I was afraid to get my heart set on anything permanent, you know? Too many disappointments. Now it's for real!

This morning when Blaine went out to check on the progress, the painter asked him, "Do you know you have 18 colors of paint in your house?"

Hahahahaha! I LOVE COLOR!!! What can I say??

I will be taking new pictures almost every day with the blog countdown being a visual one for all of you! Aren't you lucky??

Now for all of you, who like us, are anxiously waiting if Miss Tarikwa has yet received her gift bag...I finally got the answer today. It's no. Today, I emailed the director of the agency who, bless her heart, replied immediately. They had our gift bag all packed and ready to go 2 weeks ago but something urgent was needed and took the space that our bag occupied. So our bag will be going with her when she travels this Thursday. We will receive an email within 2 weeks after she receives it.

We're sad for this little girls sake but at least we have an answer and we know that she will receive it soon. It's relatively small in the grand scheme of things and God's timing is perfect, as we know.

Pictures of the house are coming soon!!


Friday, September 25, 2009

Our last six months...a look back

I asked Blaine the other night, "How do you think we as a family have handled the last six months?"

He said, "I think we did well. We kept going and didn't give up."

I began listing the major events of our lives in the past six months.

-We feel a nudge from the Lord and we begin the adoption process (application on my desk ready to fill out)

-The house burns down the next day

-Our adoption is on hold

-We are displaced

-I begin months long process of inventory-ing everything we had in our house

-We begin the adoption process again

-Blaine gets sick and becomes paralyzed

-His office building is found to have rotten support posts, needs huge renovation

-Blaine on huge doses of Prednisone...yucky side effects

-We're building a house (picking everything out)

-Begin re-buying everything for our house (all at one time!)

-Adoption process continues with its mounds of paperwork, notarizing, appointments and fingerprinting and classes

-Katie starts her senior year, Mihiretu starts first grade, Misganaw starts pre-school

What am I leaving out?

Now that this season is coming to an end, I can honestly look back and say, "How in the world did we do all this??? One of those things would have been enough to deal with in a 6 month period, you know?? Like building a house is usually enough. Or adoption is usually enough. Or Blaine's serious illness would usually be enough. But all at once???"

Mind boggling.

How did we do it? We prayed a lot, leaned on the strength of the Lord, trusted Him and just kept going. I knew it was overwhelming while it was going on but only now that I've had a breather do I realize just how much it was.

2 Timothy 4:7 says, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

I'm not foolish enough to think our struggles are over now. But I do think God will give us a season (albeit short) of peace from the huge things. That is, until Miss Tarikwa comes home!! I think our family needs a little break for the next couple months.

We are planning on October 15th as our move back in date. I'm not holding onto it too tightly, but I am hopeful. I know that will be another huge thing, but it will be FUN!

God has taught us just how much we can handle as a family and it's a lot. He's taught us that He is close to the broken hearted. He's shown us even more miracles. It is an honor and privilege to get to be a part of God's miracles. I hope and pray that each one of you will personally get to be a part of one. You'll never be the same and your faith will grow a ton!

Years ago, I was so fearful of pain and suffering. I remember thinking how glad I was that I had two healthy kids and that they were free of handicaps. I feel horrible even admitting that. I was fearful of having more children because that just meant the odds were building that we'd have one with some serious problems. That scares me. I loved my life of ease. That's what everyone wants, don't they??

Maybe they do, but it is not a better life. It's far better do live on the edge with Christ, trusting Him with everything. It's far better to take a chance, step out, go way outside the norm, trust God to give you 2 more kids (or 3!) who are complete strangers to you and they could get sick or have learning disabilities or anything at all. But you put your entire trust in God, hold His omnipotent hand and jump off that cliff, trusting that He knows what's best for you.

It's way more exciting! I believe it's exactly the kind of life Christ wants each one of His followers to live. We comfortable American Christians just resist it. I get that. It can be scary. It is stretching and that can be uncomfortable. It can be painful and who likes pain?

Don't get me wrong...I don't like pain either. But without the spiritual stretching that taking a huge leap of faith brings, I just don't believe you will see the true glory of the Lord like you would with it. And as Christians, isn't that what we really want? Don't we pray for this?

I just have to quote Dr. Clive Calver here.

"Doesn't it seem strange that so many Christians cling to safety when risky living should be the order of the day? Why are many of us more easily identified with respectability than with healthy extremism? The phase, "What would Jesus do?" is often used to caution against improper behavior rather than to encourage living on the edge, as Jesus did."

"Jesus drank from the cup of a Samaritan woman, dined with tax collectors and touched the lepers, the blind, and the bleeding He spent his time with the people whom "religious" people despised."

Where did the American church ever get the idea that the life of ease was the way to be? It sure wasn't Jesus' way and it still isn't.

So while I will be the first to admit that the past six months were difficult to say the least, I also saw God work in ways I've never seen before.

I can hardly believe that the God who created the universe cares so much about us that he would reach down from heaven and get intimately involved in our lives.

All for our good.

All for His glory.

Come on...take a leap of faith today and watch God work. You won't regret it!


*Edit* I just found my Mother's Day card from Katie as I've been packing up some things in our greatly anticipated move. I don't think she'll mind if I share part of it with you. Keep in mind that the fire was 1 month before.

"We have all been having our moments but we are still strong. We talk about how we are scared to see what will happen next to us...and how much worse can it really get? Well, I don't think we should be scared of it. It may be bad or another loss, but we will gain so much more in the end by doing what God asks of us." (She means adopting)

My girl GETS IT!! Praise the Lord!

And did I mention Blake is praying hard about going into the ministry?? Another Praise the Lord!!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Glory to God!

One of our most precious possessions - a letter from our daughter. It's wonderful to physically hold something she's held.

Mihiretu on our new deck. If you look at the slideshow of the house fire damage, this is the area where the fire started and was so yucky looking. Looks better now! Praise God!

Mr. Cutie in the kitchen. Even though it's just the cabinet frames right now, I could sit on the floor (if I had time) and dream about the kitchen ALL day. I cannot wait to get in here and cook and bake to my hearts content.

My PRECIOUS Bible. I wanted to show you why it means so much to me. Hundreds of pages look like this.

I can now see that my Bible is beyond repair. It got so wet from the firefighters hoses that the pages are really puffed up. All that aside, I am so happy to have it back in my possession after 6 long months. It's like having my best friend home!!

Would you like to see what else the Lord has done for me? Yep, my recipes!

Wow, yesterday was a special day, full of emotion. It started out with my going to the restoration company to take a look at some damaged items from our home. It was great to see some of the guys who were at our house those first couple weeks boxing up restorable items and throwing out the rest. It was fun to see them.

After I looked at the items they had for me, one of the guys remembered that I had wanted my Bible. They handed it to me, only after asking me if I was really ready to see it. I was really sad to see the state it was in which was worse than I'd remembered. However, it was WONDERFUL just to hold it again and know that I could still use it to refer to. I could see that it was not restorable in the shape the pages were in. My plan is to see if I can find the same edition on ebay and begin plugging away recopying my notes into the new Bible. It's a NIV Study Bible, copyright 1985 by Zondervan. I'm just sure I can find one.

Right after I digested having the Bible back, they handed me a plastic bag FULL of my old recipes! I fell apart right then and there. I couldn't talk. I'm still tearing up about it as I write this. How did they get my recipes?? No idea. Really...I have no idea how they got them. Several people saw it sitting in my mother in law's garage, my sister remembers that she is the one who actually brought it there.

I guess I *must* have given it to them to clean but I have absolutely no memory of doing it. Regardless of how they got it, it was a GREAT gift to me from a God who loves me and is concerned with even little things like recipes when they mean a lot to me. I am so thankful to Him for this practical gift that showed me His love, mercy and compassion to me.

We (Blaine, Blake and I) also had our USCIS (Citizenship and Immigration Service) fingerprinting appointment yesterday. The day before the appointment, I realized we hadn't received the appointment notification which we were required to bring to this appointment. I frantically did some emailing and praying and it all worked out beautifully. They were incredibly helpful and now we are one more step closer to our beautiful daughter.

When I was bringing Mihiretu to school yesterday, I told him that we were getting fingerprinted today and that if we were running late, Katie and De would be picking him up from school. (I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE having these kids of all ages!!) He said, "But Mom, didn't you already get your fingerprints done before?"

I replied, "Yes, but these are different fingerprints and it has to be done again."

To which he replied, "Which fingerprints are these...your toes??"

Out of the mouths of babes!! Hilarious!!!!

That brings me to then arriving home to find the letters from Tarikwa that Bibi so graciously sent to us to have. One is just a little note and the other is a 2 sided letter, which is what you see in the above picture. How precious is our little girl??

The little note, meant for Bibi (Letarik's mom, Tarikwa's best friend) says,

"God Bless you, Letarik.
I miss you so much.
Pass my greeting to your Mom and her friend.
I love all the family.
Glory to God!"

What a precious little heart she has.
Created in the very image of God. Known by Him while still in her mothers womb. Left in an orphanage by no fault of her own. I see her praying, asking her Father in heaven for a new family. I see God nudging Blaine and I to begin the adoption process again. Blaine sees Letarik's face and God nudges him. We begin working with AAI for an older girl. We find out Letarik has been matched with a family. Praise God for her! No longer an orphan. Ok, Lord, who did you have in mind for us? I receive an email with 2 pictures...one is Tarikwa's. Our entire family agrees...she's it! She looks SO much like Mihiretu. We pray and move forward. God led us to adopt Letarik's very best friend. How cool is God? She's the one He had for us all along.

This little girl who, despite her extremely heartbreaking life circumstances which caused her to be an orphan, gives glory to God!!

I have a lot to learn from her.

I just wonder...might there be a Tarikwa out there somewhere in the world who is longing to be loved by you and through this child you just might have something to learn?

Blessings and glory to God!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Reality check

It's been a LONG haul, this fire thing. I have been counting on the house being done by the first weekend of October. I mean really counting on it. No, I mean REALLY counting on it. I actually thought the first of October was WAY too long. Ridiculous really. I mean, a new house can be built in 4 months and we're way past that. So come on already!

Misganaw and I stopped out at the house today after we left the gym and things were moving along. Then the general contractor came and I asked him if we had a hard move in date yet. He really didn't want to commit but did say he hoped to be done October 15th. I said, "No," and walked away. I couldn't hold back the tears. I felt like I'd been kicked in the stomach. Blaine met us for lunch and I just couldn't stop tearing up. The end is so close that I feel like I can touch it but then the finish line keeps getting pulled back another mile.

When I got home away from home, I had a reality check. Hello, Laura. What day is it? September 11th. Thousands of people are missing their loved ones who were so cruelly taken from them by terrorists. What a hard day for them.

There are 147 million orphans in this world who pray every night for a family. There are people in the hospital today. There are people dying of starvation all over the world today.

And here I am, having a pity party because our house will not be done when I thought it would be. What is wrong with my priorities? Boy, do I need a lot of work.

Reality check.

On the brighter side, Blaine is on his LAST dose of Prednisone today! He is still having the same symptom...the one where when he bends his head to look down, he gets an electrical shock feeling down his legs and into his feet, but I think that will slowly go away on its own. He has reaped all the benefit that he can from this drug at this point and it's time to be done. Now, he must work to get all the muscle back that this drug took away. He finds that his knees hurt quite a bit because they're not being supported by the leg muscle they're used to. His rash is now 50% better, thank the Lord! My prayer is that his body will begin making cortisol quickly again. The dr. said that it shut its production off since he was receiving so much and it has to begin making it again. It's important to fight off infection, among other things.

The other exciting news is that our gift bag for Tarikwa will be leaving for Ethiopia on Saturday. I'm assuming that she will receive it sometime next week. They will take a picture of her receiving it and get it to us. At that point, we will be free to being corresponding with her. Letters will be transported by other traveling families and they will bring us hers. It is so wonderful that we have this opportunity so we can get to know each other before we actually meet. We will be able to hear what's in her heart and mind and she will be (hopefully) less apprehensive about the huge transition that will soon take place in her life.

I really need to learn to live in the moment and not keep looking around the corner for the 'next' big thing. Like: "I can't wait for Christmas!" or "I can't wait for this weekend!" or "I cannot wait to move back into our house!" I was always this way as a child and young woman but I thought it would change once I aged so incredibly gracefully! Does anyone else have problems with this or is it just me?


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

You're going to LOVE this one!

My Three Sons. I grabbed Blake on his way out. He actually started school a few weeks ago but when I can get the three of them together in a pic, I'll do it. If Misganaw looks a little stunned, it's because in the previous 3 pics he blinked. This is him not blinking!

My little 3 year old pre-schooler. How adorable is this guy?

Is this a first grader or is he going into high school?? So grown up! Notice the size of these shoes...size 3! He was in a 1 1/2 in the spring. Now he and Mommy can share shoes!

Here is the dining room and kitchen on the left. Progress :) It's actually now all primed.

Blaine dropped Mihiretu off this morning at school so I could get Misganaw to his pre-school orientation. So I got there and was the first one there. Sort of proud of that! The teacher asked me how to pronounce my child's name and I explained that it was Miss and then the country of Ghana. This is the best way to remember it. She looked perplexed and said that that wasn't the name they had. Mihiretu's name was on Misganaw's cute name tag. What??

It was then I realized what I'd done. I registered my 7 year old for 3 year old pre-school!!!! Yep, it's true. I told you that I do these kind of things on a regular basis so it didn't surprise me. Especially considering the fact that I registered him a couple months ago during the busiest time in my life!

When the class list came around, my child was the only one listed with a birthdate in 2003...all the rest of the kids were listed in 2006! Oops, had to fix that one!

Then, to top it off we were asked to fill out the phone number of our peds doctor and dentist. I began looking in the phone book in front of me provided for this use. I searched and searched but couldn't find it as hard as I tried. The problem? I couldn't see those small letters!! I couldn't read the words in the phone book because my over 40 eyes (hear that Andrea, my 39 year old friend?) didn't have their bifocals on! Ok, I said it! I wear bifocals! Glad to have that off my chest.

I could hardly hold in my laughter at this point. I could hardly wait to share this with you!

Everyone had a good day at school today. It was weird having Mihiretu gone all day. At noon, I thought, "He has 4 more hours until he comes home." When I picked him up and we walked across the parking lot hand in hand, I talked with him about his long day. He said to me, "Yeah, Mom. But a man can handle it." On the record, I think it's way too long to be away. I did get a lot done, though.

I hope you feel better about yourself after reading this. Anybody else do things like this? Share it with me!


Saturday, September 5, 2009

The entertainer

I took the kids to Fasika (Ethiopian restaurant) for a late lunch today. Man, if I ever needed a video camera, today was it! Misganaw was in rare form.

He's a very outgoing boy. He loved the waitress and she loved him. She picked him up and off they went. This didn't surprise us though, as this is the Ethiopian way! I've never seen a culture that loves kids more than Ethiopians.

After he ate a ton of injera (Ethiopian flat bread) he set out to meet each person in the restaurant. He went from table to table asking people their names. There was a sweet Ethiopian family with 2 adorable little girls there. After he danced for them (yes, I did say he danced for them), they clapped and he went up to the baby in the high chair and asked her parents, "Did she poop?" The mom laughed and the dad questioned the mom (in Amharic) what he'd said. She confirmed it was "poop" and he laughed, too.

Then he went onto the next table and did his dance for them, told them his name and on and on it went. He made his way to every table there. I half expected him to get some tips! It was hilarious!

I'm sorry I haven't posted any pics of the house. The truth is I cannot find the camera. Sad. You'll have to trust me when I say that the tiling in the laundry room, bathrooms, and basement looks GREAT! The walls are primed and all you see is stark white everywhere. It looks great to have walls that look clean but those of you who know me know white walls aren't welcome in my house so those painters need to get there soon! The tile looks extra good since it's the only thing of color in the whole house!

Lisa and I made lots of progress in the shopping realm yesterday. I bought ALL the bath towels, a wok, panini maker, and a couple other things. I ordered our dishes on line the day before and also a large collection of bowls. Capitol One shut me down! They think it's suspicious when I shop! What? One phone call and I was up and running once again. No worries!

I heard from our agency the other day. I had asked what the next step was and when we could expect to travel, roughly. She said that the courts are closed until Oct. for the rainy season. When they reopen, they will assign court cases. They could be assigned anywhere from 30-80 days out. If she passes court the first time (this makes her legally our daughter under Ethiopian law) it is roughly 5-6 weeks until we can travel to get her.

This means that the very earliest we could expect to travel is mid-December (highly unlikely) and the longest should be the 3rd week in February. Hopefully, she passes court the first time and there are no complications.

They weren't sure when our gift bag would be brought to her. The director of the agency will be back in the office next week and they'd find out then. Let's hope it's soon!


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Updates all around

People keep asking me how Blaine is doing so I wanted to give you the latest. He talked with the neurologist yesterday. His symptoms are very gradually improving (very slightly!) so they determined that he has 16 more days until he's off the prednisone. That sounds like a long time but in actuality, he only takes 20mgs one day then 0 the next for a few days like that then 10mgs one day and 0 the next for a few days. So it's only really 8 more days of taking the steroid.

He hasn't gained the amount of weight I thought he would on it, thankfully. I'm sure it is due in large part to the fact that he's been climbing up and down scaffolding dozens of times a day while working on his office building. This is the plus side of being super busy, I guess! The rash on his upper torso is also improving, praise the Lord! His normal personality has come back and the irritability is gone, also praise the LORD! I'm glad to have my husband back.

There is also great progress being made on our house right now! The walls will be all primed by the end of the day and painting will begin tomorrow. Some of the tile will be laid tomorrow. The lower cabinets will be installed early next week!! (That means I will be able to get an idea of how the kitchen will look-and if you think I'm excited about that...you're RIGHT!) They are beginning the siding on the outside today or tomorrow. They still say the first week of October before it's all done and we're in. I'll post some pictures when some of the painting is done.

Yesterday, I began the task of matching receipts up to our inventory list. Can I just say...HELP! I think this might take me as long as the initial inventory list. I spent over an hour just on 2 receipts (they were long ones, but still). There are about 50 spread-sheet type pages with about 50 items per page. I have a folder full of receipts of items we lost in the fire. The receipt must have a number on it that coincides with the item on the inventory sheet. Some are straight forward. Others say, "toddler sets" or "flex turner" and to those I say, "WHAT?" Now to those things I have to find what I think matches up with them. Gettin' the picture? Ugh. Having a fire is a LOT of work.

The kids start school next week. Blake started a couple weeks ago. Here's the run down (I think it's kind of fun)...I have one in college, one is a senior, one a first grader and one in pre-school! And the one who's coming will be a jr. higher. All bases covered!

We went to Mihiretu's school open house yesterday. He looked sad and I asked him what was wrong. He said, "I just need a longer break." So cute! I told him his sister would agree with that. Reading is difficult for him and school takes effort. Our district is so good and supportive so he'll get the help he needs.

In fact, the ELL teacher called me yesterday and I had the opportunity to talk with her about Tarikwa coming and what services the district had for her. Let me tell you, I was impressed. I have the option of part time school, coming for just special services and lunch (to get her used to things), or even home visits and tutoring. Can you believe it? We are sure we don't want to put her right into school full time right when she gets home. (We're thinking January-ish-but not sure). She will have so much to acclimate to here and we want her to have a smooth and as stress free as possible transition to our family. We want to create a strong bond between her and our family and putting her is full time school would be difficult, we think. We are thankful for this opportunity and the districts' willingness to work so well with us.

I am waiting to hear back from AAI on when Tarikwa's gift bag will be delivered and what the time line looks like. We don't really know much and feel a little in the dark. What I do know is that they will be scheduling a court date for her and if she passes the first time around, we will be assigned a travel date. There are weeks that pass between each scheduling court and travel...just not sure how generally how many and how it works. We pray for her every day that God would be her comfort as she waits to hear about a family. We know she is very sad about having to say goodbye to her best friend. Waiting is so hard!

Friday, I'm going with my friend shopping with my friend, Lisa to purchase some more things we will need when we move in. I will add them to the little pile in the corner that I started. Think of it...we have no sheets, towels, dishes, glasses, silverware, knives, etc. Got to start somewhere! My little pile will be a big pile very soon.

Oops, I failed to mention that I did speak to Bibi. Seriously, what a gracious lady. She spent close to an hour with me on the phone and emailed me many new pics of our daughter. She did share new information with us about her. Bibi was very impressed with her. She told us Tarikwa is an active girl and loves sports. She's not the kind to sit around an knit, at least not for long. Sounds like she loves to have fun! Should fit right in here. Ahh, the wisdom of the Lord. He picked the right girl for us. Can you imagine a quiet, shy, introverted child who likes peace and quiet in this family? Me either! (although quiet does kind of nice at least some of the time:)