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...


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.


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!


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.
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!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

There is no place like home!!!

Where do I begin? I have so much to share with you. It's going to have to come in bits and pieces, I think.

We moved in on Thursday morning. I kept saying, "It feels just like Christmas morning!" And it did. So many new packages to open, a crew to feed, and the anticipation of being 'home'. We had some great help and got a lot done. Our new dining room set arrived which was nice because we had somewhere to sit. The basement couch arrived Friday and the upstairs couches came Saturday.

Friday night, we had our families and some good friends over for a time of prayer of dedication and blessing for our house. We spent time sharing verses from the Bible which spoke of protection, blessing and restoration.

God gave me this verse right before we moved back in.

1 Peter 5:10-11 "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen."

Could He have given me a more appropriate verse? I happened to be reading my precious, charred Bible when I found it.

Everything that has been taken from us in the past 6 months has been fully restored, with the exception of Blaine's total health but we trust that will come in time. Actually, what has been lost has been not only restored but made even better than it was before! Our house was wonderful before but we were able to make a few changes which gave me more storage. Our family was hurt and damaged emotionally on many levels over these past months but now it has not only been restored, it has been enlarged by a new member, the beautiful Miss Tariwa! And somehow I know without a doubt that God has plans to restore Blaine to the strength and health he once had, all in His perfect time.

I've had a song in my head for months and it keeps coming back to me every day now that we're home. Later, when I have time, I'm going to post the words to it. I know it will bless you.

Much, much more later!


I PROMISE I will get some pics up tonight or tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Can it be real?

I can hardly believe I'm finally able to say this but tomorrow we move back home. If you listen closely, you can hear me exhale. While shopping at Lowe's today, I had a hard time not tearing up just thinking about being able to need a broom to sweep our kitchen or sticky hooks to hang the boys towels on the door. Sounds weird, I know but it really sounds like a blessing to me right now.

I think I have everything we need to live on our own again. Stuff like shower rods, waste baskets, sticky pads that go on the bottom of chairs, etc. Actually, I told Blaine, "All I really need is water, somewhere to sleep, a potty and a phone to call for take out! Just get me home!!"

We get hooked up for internet on Friday night so I'll try to update with some pictures on Saturday. I can tell you, it's more than we could have dreamed of.

Blaine put some tile up for me yesterday for a backsplash in the kitchen. It is so pretty! I do think when we move in, we're going to have so much time on our hands (considering the last 6 months) that we are going to sit around just looking at each other. It kind of reminds me of the vultures in Jungle book, "Whatchu wanna do?" "I don't know, whatchu wanna do?" Ok, maybe that's an exaggeration but not being constantly busy will be lovely:)

Check back on Saturday!

We're going HOME!!!! Praise the LORD for He is GOOD!


Monday, October 12, 2009

She got it!!

Well, I can finally announce that Tarikwa has received our gift bag! We got an email this afternoon with the picture of the most adorable, beautiful girl who is grinning from ear to ear and holding in her sweet hands the photo album we sent to her. It was open to the page with our family picture on it. She was also wearing the t-shirt we sent her but the front of it was covered up with the photo album she was holding! The shirt fits her perfectly so I guess we can be certain that she wears about a size 12.

I have to tell you that I forwarded the email to Bibi right away since I knew she and Tarikwa's best friend (her daughter, Anaya (who used to be called Letarik) would love to see it. She emailed me right back and told me that when Anaya saw the picture, she kept saying, "Thank you, Mommy! Thank you, Mommy!" She thinks Bibi recruited us to be her family. She told Anaya that she had nothing to do with it and that it was "all God." Anaya had tears of joy streaming down her sweet face.

How precious is that? What a big, tender heart that little girl has for her friend!

Now I need to find some families who are traveling so we can send letters with them for her. Yea!!! She officially knows she has a family who loves her, prays for her and is waiting for her to come home.

Now all we need is a court date! Come on Ethiopian courts...give us a date!!! Our daughter is waiting for us:)

Thanks for sharing in our joy,

3 more days!

We're in the homestretch now! Just 3 more days until the long awaited return to our home. Six and a half months of being displaced has almost come to an end.

This morning we woke up to a ground cover of white and Katie has a nasty cold but NOTHING can dampen my joy!!

Here is the kitchen the way it looked on Saturday. The paint is all done, except for the outside. Today and tomorrow carpet is going in. Then the cleaners come in and do their thing. We're shooting for Certificate of Occupancy on Wed. sometime. If we get that, my goal is to load the refrigerator and pantry with food Wed. evening. Then Thursday, the restoration company returns with our cleaned items that they took after the fire.

I scheduled the delivery of our new table and chairs for Thursday. You remember, the table and chairs that I "loved"? It's the exact same one and it will be wonderful to have a big table to sit at right away. But this table and chairs have been downgraded from "love" to "like a lot." Love is reserved for people:)

I have a LOT of packing to do today so I better get working!


Friday, October 9, 2009

I'm doing it!

As you all know from my previous post (wish I could link you to it right now, but I need a little lesson...anyone??) I am a comfy clothes person. It's jeans or jean capris for me. I dress the same whether I'm going to the grocery store or church. Ok, I would dress up for a wedding and some other things but generally speaking, I am who I am.

Remember that I was asked to speak at our churches women's retreat in the spring? Remember that I have never attended a women's retreat because I haven't been comfortable being my 'comfortable self' there? :)

Well, I've come to a decision. A first (I'm sure) in the history of our church. Are you sitting down? I'm wearing jeans. Yep, you heard it here first...I'm doing it.

This is not because I am simply concerned about being comfortable. It's a statement actually.

I have heard from other women...good, valuable and wise women that they also don't feel comfortable at events like this so they don't come.

Think of it women...when you walk into the service on Sunday morning or the Christmas tea or the women's retreat, what do you see? You see women who, for the most part all look the same. They are smiling, wearing lovely clothing, all made up and hair perfect. And it always seems like it is the same lovely ladies who do the singing, speaking or emceeing. Am I right??

Is this a comfortable place for the woman who is struggling emotionally who doesn't want to make small talk with a bunch of 'perfect' women? What about the lady without the nice clothes or who has unmanageable hair? What about your unchurched friend who doesn't have the lovely jewelry?

Where is the transparency in church?? Where is the 'real-ness'?

A friend just related to me that she bought a ticket to her churches Mother's Day dessert because she wanted to hear the speaker. She had a brand new baby at home, was exhausted and not feeling especially pretty. She walked in a little late and began searching for her table number. When she found it, she looked at the lovely ladies sitting at her table, recognized none of them (the church was trying to mix people up to form new friendships) and turned around and left. Now trust me, this girl is attractive and has pretty clothes, too. But she was not comfortable!

We need to change this, ladies! Am I saying that it's wrong to dress up for church? Not at all! I'm just saying it shouldn't be the standard. Honestly, God is not impressed with your pretty clothes or perfect hair. He made you and gave you everything you own, including your clothes. Just please hear this for what I mean. Don't read into it and think I hate women who dress up. That's not what I'm trying to say at all!

All I'm saying that if women are feeling left out or uncomfortable at church, THAT IS WRONG! Straight up wrong! We have a lot to learn from and share with women who look different than us.

So this is why I'm just going to be my real self.

I'm not perfect, I don't have the perfect life, I don't have the perfect family, I don't always keep my cool, sometimes I say "fart, or crap" or something else that doesn't sound 'perfect'. I make lots and lots of mistakes, I have forgotten a child at church (yep, for real!), I forget peoples birthdays all the time, I forget a LOT of stuff and I'm basically selfish. So there it is. Reality. Oh, and on top of all that...I DON'T scrapbook! And I never will! So stressful and tedious for me.

So see how I don't fit the perfect Christian woman's role?

But you know what? I am secure in my Savior. He loves me. He leads me. He helps me through difficult times. He accepts me. He alone is my security.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

One week from today!

Here's Steve, our painter. See what we've done to him? 15 colors in one house! The refrigerator and dishwasher were delivered today.
My kitchen, sweet kitchen.
From every angle:)

Am I excited or what?

Yep, our move in date is one week from today. It feels like an eternity so it's hard to believe our move in date is right around the corner!



Saturday, October 3, 2009

One blessing after another

I wish I could post some new pictures but my sweetie has taken my camera with him on his weekend fishing/work trip to the cabin. But let me tell you, changes are taking place at our almost complete home. The entire basement is painted. One the main level, the dining room, laundry room and a bathroom is done. So far, I'm pretty happy with the 8 colors which have been put on the walls. I'm definitely driving the painter nuts. He asked me if he could bring his wife out to see the colors I picked. I told him only if he quit ripping on all my colors! He said he liked most of them but didn't like the fact that the dining room is 2 different colors, there are arches which get 2 different colors and the ceiling in there is a different color than the walls. To this I say, "What's the problem??" I told him I painted the entire house when it was new before and I'm just a mom, not a professional painter like him:) And it looked perfect! So buck up.

Glad he has a good sense of humor!

The cabinet maker is there installing today. All I can say is...beautiful!

Last week we received our approval for our I600A, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition. We have officially been approved for 1 child, female, 9-15 years old. Perfect! Sounds like Tarikwa to me. This means Blaine, Blake and my fingerprints were a-ok with homeland security. They forward the approval to the National Visa Center and to the embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. So we should be all ready on that front.

I have read on some blogs that court in Ethiopia is not opening the beginning of October but a couple weeks later, so mid-October. People who have court dates scheduled for the beginning of October are being rescheduled for later. I'm guessing that will set us back, as well for getting set up for a court date. My shot in the dark is late November.

We are also getting very excited at the prospect of our daughter receiving her gift bag this week. I know we already went through this but it's just as exciting the second time around! This time it will really happen, I'm convinced! We cannot wait to see her with the t-shirt we had made for her on her cute little self! And just knowing she knows about us...priceless.

Mihiretu had his soccer game this the rain and 46 degrees, so no pictures! The score was 11-1, with my little athlete scoring 5 of those 11. Man, he loves sports! I also got an email from his teacher this week telling me that he is working VERY hard in school. We're so proud of him and his progress, but even more so, we're proud of his hard work and good attitude. I know how hard it is for him to sit still and focus but he's doing it for his wonderful teacher, so thank goodness:)

We feel so blessed on so many levels. Our insurance company has been very fair with us in terms of our contents and the re-build. The good news for me is that I don't need to keep receipts for anything that is perishable. This means that all our food, lotions, shampoos, medicine, make-up...they pay us 100% for these things whether I re-buy them or not. How it works for everything else is that if we choose to re-buy any given item, we submit the receipt and they pay 100% for that item. It we choose not to repurchase an item, they give us a reduced amount of money.

Here's an example:

Shell shrimp cocktail bowl-I had a price of $35 for it. It's depreciated value is $26.25. It has a life expectancy of 20 years. It was a wedding present so that means it was 23 years old and therefore actually 'dead'. Who knew a shell shaped shrimp cocktail bowl had a life expectancy? But it does. So since we're not planning on replacing it, we get the $26.25. The way I see it, it was living on borrowed time anyway. Not a bad deal for us:)

Seriously, it will save me lots of time not having to do this with all the food, lotions and all the other items. We though that the insurance company would probably only give us 30% or so on some of the depreciated items but it looks like they're giving us more like 70%. So we are thankful for this. It helps a lot!

We also didn't think a week ago that our house would be done in time for us to move in Oct. 15th, but now it looks like it will.

God's goodness to us never fails!