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!


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'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,

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!


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 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??"


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:

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


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.


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;)