Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tonight Mihiretu received a collection of gift cards given by his Wednesday night Sparks leaders and friends.  They wrote him such a sweet card and reminded him of one of the Bible verses he learned this year.  

"Be strong and courageous; do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you."  Joshua 1:9

Just as I was getting choked up over the kindness and generosity of all these people, I opened Mihiretu's backpack and in it found a card from his school, which simply stated, "Thinking of you and hope this helps."  In it was another very generous gift card.  This made me tear up all over again.  I really don't know who it is from and who to thank.  I think tomorrow we just might need to take a trip to Target to get the boys some toys or books.  We are so blessed by you.

Well, it is official...we must wait to until our house is complete before we pursue our next adoption.  There was a little girl who we thought...*maybe*??  So I called our agency, CHSFS to ask if we could possibly move ahead.  The answer is not now.  If we were to begin the process now, because we live with her, my mother-in-law would have to undergo a background check and we all know she'd never pass with her extensive ties to the mob.  Hahaha, sorry Joani.  I couldn't resist that one.  But seriously, we'd incur another expense with that and also because we'd be moving, we'd have to update our home study and that is another step.  They also thought we were going through a lot of transition now and it would better not to take on too much.  So we're to call a couple weeks before we move in and get the ball rolling.

I'm a little sad about this but I must admit, also a little relieved at the same time.  Filling out adoption paperwork, getting fingerprinted, background checks, notarizing everything, etc. takes a LOT of time and right now I'm not sure where I'd get the time to do it.  If I had all the inventory done, it would help.  But I have a long way to go with that.  God knows what we can handle and has the right timing so we trust Him.  But I'm still a little sad...

Right now I have 50 pages of inventory with about 40 items on each page.  So that's 2,000 items so far!  I have at least that many more to go, then must look up each item for it's replacement price.  Ughhhhh.  Can you imagine?  

I did finish inventory-ing the damaged clothing the other day.  The dry cleaner's did sort out a big stack that was damaged but when I went through the other clothing that was cleaned, I found quite a bit more that was damaged.  Due to the heat from the fire, many of the pieces of clothing have color that bled or actually completely changed.  Like spots on a purple shirt would turn to blue, green turned yellow.  Anything that was in the boys' closet that was white is now dingy grey.  The weird thing I'm also finding is that shirts that were hanging on a hanger have some spots that actually look like the fabric disintegrated and there is now a hole.  That makes me concerned for the clothing that looks fine now.  What will it look like after a couple washings?  It is amazing what they can do and we're thankful to have some of our old clothing.

I'm really going to try to learn patience through all of this.  Detail oriented I am not.   Everything about this inventory process is wrought with those dreaded details.  This is what I have to write down for one of Blaine's shirts - Claiborne 100% Cotton Mens solid color dress shirt 15 1/2-34/35 wrinkle free collar.  Seriously, it stresses me out just to read that!  Probably by the time I'm completely done, I will have written 5,000 items like that.   I like everything done yesterday.   So I hope I get it right this time.  The patience thing, I mean.  We'll re-assess after 2,000 more items.  I have a LONG way to go, don't I?? :)

Blessings,
Laura


Sunday, April 26, 2009

As promised...

video

It took all weekend...but here it is!  

We had only had Mihiretu home a couple weeks when this was taken.  It is amazing how much English he is understanding already.  And how much he doesn't understand is kind of cute, too.   I miss that accent so much.  The helmet - who knows?  He wore it all day.


Yep, there is my old, lovely dining room.  Ahhhhh, someday again.

Now that you're done watching this adorable video, go to your phone and call your nearest adoption agency because - how can you possibly resist??

Blessings,
Laura


Friday, April 24, 2009

A cross post from our old caringbridge site

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2009 7:18 PM, CST

Drumroll please.......something has arrived in the mail......something I've been working on getting for over a year......Mihiretu's........GREEN CARD!!!!! Yahoooo!! It has his correct birthdate and name!!!! Now we can get him a social security number and get both boys' Certification of Citizenshipand passports and then we're DONE with paperwork, except for their post placement reports which we are required to do yearly until they are 18. Not a big deal, though. Those who know me KNOW that I am NOT the paperwork type and I lose things like checks or other important things. Analytical I am not. So to have gotten through the paperwork of an adoption is a miracle for me! I'm just so thankful to be almost done.

Lately, I find my heart breaking for the many older orphans in Ethiopia. I have been recently introduced to an orphanage there for older boy called Kolfe Orphanage...google it and look at these gorgeous boys. What do you think the chances of these boys EVER getting a home or family? Extremely slim. After all, most families would choose a baby or toddler, not a teenager.

I recently found a quote that I quite like. It goes like this:

"Sometimes I'd like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine and injustice in the world when He could do something about it...but I'm afraid God might ask me the same question." Anonymous

Wow, how true is that?

Another quote I agree with is this:

"God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house, God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her chlild with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cires heard under the rubble of war, God is in the debris of wasted oopportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them." Bono

Poverty is mentioned over 2,100 times in the scriptures. "As you have done it unto the lease of these my bretheren, you have done it unto me" Matthew 25:40. You see, these orphans are Jesus in disguise, each one of them, no matter their age. Would we leave Jesus in an orphanage? Would we leave him unfed, unclothed, unloved, unmedicated if He were sick. I don't think so, not many of us. I wouldn't. But I am. I really am.

This haunts me. I lose sleep over this.

How much is enough? How much should we do? When is it enough? Is it ever enough?

Ethiopia (and many other parts of the world) is not like America in terms of poverty. Our poverty is wealth in Ethiopia. Welfare, food stamps, Medical Assistance, Salvation Army, shelters, soup kitchens...non-existent in Ethiopia the way they are here. If you don't have food you will die in the street...that's just a fact.

I've got to do something. I wish God would show me what that is. But I have to do something about this terrible injustice. I am having a hard time living with this knowledge.

This has been on my heart for months now but I haven't known how to share it with you. I'm not sure what I've said is appropriate and if I have offended I am sorry. I know what I am suggesting is not popular and goes against human nature and the American culture. But this one thing I know...what is on my heart is directly in tune with the very heart of God.

"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for ophans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." James 1:27

I don't want to allow the world to corrupt me. God, show us what we should do.

Blessings,

Laura


I wanted to share this because although many of you have followed our previous blog, many of you are newer friends.  This goes back to February 8, 2009 when I finally had the courage to post it.  It had been on my mind for quite some time.  The cool thing you can see when you read it is that at the time, I was searching and asking God to show us what our next step was to be.  He answered us since then.  God does answer prayer.  It's adoption for us once again, but we will continue to ask what our next step after this adoption will be.  Retirement is not an option for us.  Too many in need.  Keep speaking, Lord.  We're listening.


Hope me adding this old posting doesn't confuse in any way.  Please let me know if it does so I can clarify.


Love,

Laura

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Call me weird!

...but I absolutely love cooking magazines and cook books.  So today at Sam's Club, I decided to get some to replace my rather large, now burnt and non-existent, collection.  I got 3 magazines and a Taste of Home cookbook.  I'm a girl in heaven!  Now I just need some time to look at them. :)

My sister in law, Pam came over once again to help me organize our new home away from home.  Seriously, this woman is amazing and should start a company doing this for people.  She can come into a room and I think she blinks her eyes (like I Dream of Jeannie) and it's all cleaned up.  It might be a little more work than that but that's how it seems to me.  My sister, also called Pam  has this organizational gene, as well.  I didn't get it.  But I'm wondering if the key is simply to name your daughter, Pam and she turns out like this.  Don't be surprised if we name our new Ethiopian daughter Pam!!

Mihiretu spent the afternoon at his friend from schools house yesterday afternoon.  What fun!  Her dad is a fireman and was actually there at our house the night of our fire.  It was so nice because he took Mihiretu and M (their daughter) to the fire station to climb on the equipment.  Mihiretu even was able to put on some of their clothes, including the suspenders!  I know this little boy will one day be a fireman now!  Seriously, see how wonderful people have been to us?
Talk about going above and beyond.

Blaine will get the video of the cutest (ok, one of the cutest!) newly adopted 4 year old boy up this weekend.  Busy, busy, busy!

Gotta run to pick up Mihiretu.  Where does the time go?

Blessings,
Laura


Monday, April 20, 2009

Settled in

We are getting settled into our new way of life.  Today I bought a toaster so we could have breakfast downstairs, where most of us sleep.  My super organizer sister in law, Pam helped me make a useful little kitchen out of the wet bar area.  We have our own snacks, cereal, toast, juice, peanut butter and my homemade strawberry jam, which survived the fire.  Yum!  I bought paper plates, paper bowls, plastic knives and spoons and cups to make it easier to eat down here.  

The kids are getting more settled in and comfortable.  Mihiretu has been invited to several of his classmates homes after school this week and last.  He's had SO much fun and it's been so helpful to have him entertained so I could do other things.  It's amazing how these parents have reached out to us to help in this way.  I'm so thankful.

This past Sunday, we went to church, then out to lunch then home (here) to settle in.  Having down time instead of go-go-go all the time, I found makes me have time to reflect.  I MUCH prefer to keep chipping away at the tasks at hand.  If I keep busy "doing" I cope much better.  I don't have time to reflect.  If I let my emotions get the better of my, my kids will see and get upset and this will just make things harder.  So you see, it's better to be strong and tend to everyone else's needs.  It just is.  I've learned this and I'm pretty good at it.  So good, in fact that my precious niece - the one who is pregnant (and who I was there the day she was born and remember it well) has asked me to be in the delivery room with her when she gives birth to my great-niece.  She knows that I can remain calm with a little smile on my face, no matter what comes, which will keep her (and her husband) calm.  It's a gift I think.  Plus, I have helped 5 friends and family members during labor and delivery because I have this stone faced gift.  It has served me well.  Some call it denial.  I think 'gift' has a much more positive ring to it.


The enormity of it all sinks in when I let it and I really can't get my head around all of it.  It really is so big, with all it's complexities and what it means and how it effects each family member.  Many people have commented about how shocking the pictures of the house are.  When I looked into the kitchen from the garage for the first time, I had to turn around and go to the back yard for a while.  It was so shocking, like a horrible nightmare.  I love to cook and take a lot of pride in my kitchen and to see all the black soot coating everything, boarded up windows and stuff everywhere it looked to me like a crack house.  

How quickly everything can change.  One day, we are having company for dinner and kebabs on the grill and the very next day our house looks like a crack house.  

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  Matthew 6:19-21

I quote these verses often out loud trying to remind myself of their truth.  Like one morning when you wake up, the once flawless wood floor is scratched beyond recognition by 2 little boys riding their trucks and bikes on it all winter.  (It really didn't happen over night!) Or when ink gets all over your leather couch and won't come off. (Guess it looked like a great coloring spot!)  When I discover these lovely things, I grimace and I feel this little twinge inside for just a second and then those verses come, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth..."  

When I saw my lovely kitchen in that state, they came to my mind again.  

We only have "stuff" to be used.  If it is blessing a human being, then that is it's intended purpose.  We shouldn't treasure our "stuff" or our money the way we do.   It is because of this misdirected treasuring that we don't:
- have people over for dinner (our house is too small, messy, I can't cook, you fill in the blank), or 
-allow a person who is in need to live with us (it costs too much to feed them, how uncomfortable, they might see me in my underwear),
 or
- do foster care (what if they steal from me, they might keep me up all night, too stressful, they might wreck my "stuff")
or
-adopt (woah, way too expensive, they'll take time from my other kids-not fair, I've worked all my life and I *deserve* this time to enjoy myself,  I'm almost done - this is my time, WAY too much work, they might have to learn a new language - how do you do that?)
or
-give money to a ministry.  Who knows what they are going to do with it?  

Yep, pretty much I've heard all of those things at one time or another.  I've said some of those things.  I'm as guilty as the next person when it comes to misdirected treasure.  And yep, there is some truth to those concerns.   

But to that I say, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  Oh, yeah.  Actually Jesus said that first.

Just some stuff I had to get off my chest tonight.

Love to you all,
Laura



 

Friday, April 17, 2009

2 Weeks Ago

As I woke up this morning, I remembered back 2 weeks ago today and what a different day it was than any other had ever been.  When we went to bed Thursday night, the kids were preparing to go to school the next day, Blaine was prepared to go to work, and I was wondering how I would tell my friend, Angie (who I work out with every Friday) that we were adopting again.  (We both have 4 kids and *sometimes* while on the treadmill, talk about how busy our lives are!)  Never did we imagine that a couple hours later our house would be on fire and we would be running out to escape the smoke.  Life can sure change instantly.

I know this will make us a stronger family, corporately and individually.  We are learning how to empathize with others who are going through difficulty.  The one thing I've learned is to be sure to be the one who calls, emails or sends a card when someone you know has a crisis.  For some reason, it means an enormous amount.  We sure appreciate all the prayers, assistance, offers, gifts, meals, help and kind words offered to us.  

It looks like most of our pictures on our computers were able to be saved.  The Geek Squad was able to mirror our hard drives.  We got them back yesterday and it is pretty promising.  One thing that we found that we had on computer is a short video of Mihiretu, taken about 2 weeks after we were home.  It's hilarious!!  His accent is strong and his English is very limited.   He's eating lunch (Ethiopian wat -like a lentil stew- on a tortilla because I didn't have any injera -Ethiopian bread.)  He's wearing a snowboarding helmet at the table,  just because he thought it was cool, I guess.  I'm going to get Blaine to post in here so you can see it.  Then after watching it, if any one of you does not run to your nearest adoption agency to adopt a 4 year old boy, I'm not too sure what to think!  It's adorable.

We are excited and thinking about our next adoption.  I'm planning on having the application filled out and ready to mail the day we move back into our house.  It breaks my heart that our daughter has to remain without a family for another 6 months.  We don't know why this is but trust that God in His perfect timing has it under control.  I am learning a lot of patience during this time and I'm sure that will come in handy in the future:).

Blessings,
Laura


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Looks like a garage sale!

After taking Mihiretu to school, my mom came over to Joani's and we began dumping out huge plastic garbage bags full of smelly, smoky and some wet clothing that we'd deemed too small, too big, too old, too wholy, etc. to keep.  The way insurance works is that they will clean whatever you tell them you want but they don't want to clean clothes you don't really want.  So if you chose to discard some items you receive the cleaning cost for these items.  For example, for a afghan would cost $18.64 to clean so if you don't want it cleaned, you get the $18.64.  If you want it, they clean it and you keep it.  If it is unable to be cleaned due to too much damage or heat causing the color to change, you receive the full replacement cost of the item.  Are you bored to death by this yet?  

Ok, anyway I wish we'd have had the camera with us today because we had huge piles all over the driveway of clothes.  A pile of pants - 77 to be exact.  WHAT?  231 shirts of all kinds.  WHAT? 32 Sweatshirts.  33 boxer briefs.  Ugghhhh.  Are you getting the picture??  Would have made a great photo op!  I can't tell you what a huge relief it is to have that huge job done! 

We went out to the house today to meet with the owner of LeMaster, our restoration company.  What a nice, genuine man.  We raved to him about his great employees, which they deserve.  They are really working hard on our house.  At this point, all the cabinets on the main floor have been removed.  Downstairs  I think they have some sheetrock out and are drying out the 2x4's.  

It really is a blessing to see things moving along so quickly.  I can't imagine how stressful this would be if it was moving at a snails pace.  Our insurance company, which I think I will say is Travelers Insurance, has been absolutely wonderful, as well.  They have advanced us money so we can purchase the things we need and are making sure LeMaster's has been paid so they can keep things moving along for us.  We feel they have been perfectly fair in their dealings with us.  This blog is really not for advertising but I felt that it has helped our family so much that I want to share it with you.  If you live in MN and want to know our agent, let me know.  We can't be more impressed.  

I don't know if I ever gave the fire department credit but as long as I'm on a roll...they were so kind and compassionate to us.  Ditto for the police who were there.  Super helpful and understanding.  

Blessings,
Laura

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Progress

Blaine and I are amazed at the progress being made on our house!  We hired a great company and we are so pleased with them.  I suppose the poor economy is only a benefit to us because when everything is so slow we don't have to sit and wait for workers to come.  They are there in full force!  

Misganaw and I went to the Jeep dealership for some service today.  There was an older gentleman who took a liking to Misganaw, who was sitting in his car seat.  Pretty soon, this gentleman had two little stuffed animals in his hands and he was letting Misganaw chose one.  He told me he'd bought several when they were on sale and enjoyed handing them out to the children who came in to the dealership.  I had to tell him that we'd just had a house fire and just how much that little panda bear would mean to Misganaw who had just lost all his stuffed animals.  He was such as sweet man and he had no idea that his 'little' kindness would mean so much to my little boy.  What a great example of how we should show love even to strangers.  

Thanks for the inquiries of how we are doing.  We really are doing fine.  We're still very much appreciating the meals you've been bringing.  :)  The kids are beginning to do better now that I've been able to be home on a more consistent basis.  Routine is helping.  I need to take some more time to get organized here at Joani's.  We finally bought a dresser that Blaine, the two little ones and I will share so our clothes (even though there aren't THAT many yet) aren't all over the floor but in drawers.  Little things like that help with feeling like you have some organization and familiarity over your 'stuff'.  

So in all things we have progress.  Thank God for progress!!

Blessings,
Laura


Monday, April 13, 2009

We had a great Easter spending time with family and celebrating the event in history that means the most to us.  Hope yours was wonderful, too.  

Blaine and I went out to the house to work this morning but it seems like our great restoration company had things under complete control.  We stayed only until noon.  I'm trying to get things situated at Joani's house and Blaine has a company to run, so not having to be there was pretty nice.  

The guys are packing up the savable stuff today in the basement.  The goal is to begin demolition tomorrow.  They'll be close but it might take another day of boxing up stuff before it is all done.  They also have the garage to do.  Yep, each and every socket, hammer, extension cord must be photographed, tagged, boxed and taken back to their facility.  At least we do not have to do that job!  The demo crew was actually taking sheet rock, cabinets and insulation out today on the first and second level.  These guys really do a great job and are such nice guys, too.  They operate much like a family and treat us like family.  Who could ask for anything more?  The owner of the company is coming out to meet us on Wed. afternoon.  How nice is that?

Misganaw is talking a lot about the fire.  On Easter morning at breakfast he said, "Remember when our house was on fire?  And the fire trucks came and the bees put the fire out?"  I was puzzled for a minute but then remembered the firemen wore coats with yellow reflecting stripes on them and in the dark they did look like bees.  How cute is my little boy?  

Blaine and I are very pleased with the progress they are making on the house.  If they keep going at this pace, Blaine says 6 months is not out of the question!  Yea!  That means October.   I can handle that.

Thanks for all your kindness and offers to help.  Thanks for the clothes, books, toys for the kids.  Thanks for the meals...yummm!  Tonight I have to tell you, my sisters friend from work is bringing falafels, cucumber mint salad, homemade hummus and pita chips.  I can HARDLY wait!!!

Here's hoping you're going to have a dinner as yummy as ours.

Blessings,
Laura

Friday, April 10, 2009

And MORE STUFF!!

What a productive day we had! With the help of Denise, Elyse, Katie, De and Blake (after school) we got the entire first floor and upstairs emptied out AND photographed and hauled into the dumpster! Wahooooo! D adn E both brought cameras and that really helped speed things along. A couple guys from LeMaster came out as well and worked like machines to get done. Monday morning the demo crew will arrive and begin demolition of the first and second floor. I will still need to be there because the pack up crew will be doing the basement and it helps if I'm there. I cannot tell you how relieved to be to the point where we are now. Lots of progress is being made and it's so encouraging. This is serious spring cleaning.

The house is looking and smelling so much better, too. (to us anyway) Our friends and neighbors still walk in and cry but we've gotten used to it and I no longer feel the sadness I did when I first walked in but I can only see progress and possibility.

One cool thing for me is that my kitchen is going to be bumped out by 2 feet. There is very little I'd change about our house except that. Five years ago, it looked so much bigger on paper to me and when the cabinets went in the first time, it shrunk! I'd never, ever have spent the money on remodeling it when it was beautiful and perfectly functional but I really wanted it bigger. The screen porch will also get bumped out by 4 feet. This will be nice to accomodate our ever growing family. We eat dinner out there every night in the summer. LOVE IT!

As I think about today being Good Friday, I remember back 13 years ago when we were in Israel at the place of the scull where Jesus was crucified. Several yards from that spot is the garden tomb where Jesus was buried. Having been there, I will always view this event from a visual perspective, imagining it all in my mind.

I once heard a great sermon on Easter preached by a firey black pastor. He talked about the darkness and horror of the crucifixion and at the end of each dark event he that mentioned, he say, "But Sunday's comin'." By the end of the sermon, he ends up yelling, "But SUNDAY'S COMIN'!" Although a house fire in no way compares to the crucifixion of the Lord, I feel a little like that. It's a dark time now (relatively speaking) for our family, but our Sunday's comin'. Praise God!

By the way, thanks for your prayers regarding my cold/sore throat. By the time I got out to the house, I felt so much better. I did stay in the garage and out of the soot and I know that helped. Just another little miracle. Big to me!

The boys are at their Aunt Pam's today playing and coloring Easter eggs with Aunt Jenny. I know they are having fun with their cousins.

Last night, when I went to lie down with the boys at bedtime, Misganaw was really sad and mopey. I brought him into bed with me for some snuggle time which we have had no time for in the last week. He's a pretty cuddly boy with me usually. He really at that up and he began to talk to me about the fire. He said, "The firemans came and took the fire away. It's really hot. I don't want it to burn me. It will hurt me. The fire might come and burn our house." Comments like these. I was so glad he opened up to me so I could reassure him. I assured him that the fireman put the fire out and it is not burning anymore so it can't hurt him or anyone. He's such a little thinker.

Have a blessed Good Friday. Sunday's Comin'!!

Love,
Laura
Just thought I'd update quickly this morning before we head out. I'm asking for prayer today for me. It seems I've come down with a sore throat and stuffed up head. I'm sure it is from the soot and smoke so I will stay in the garage today and Blaine will bring "stuff" to me to photograph. People who know me know that a cold for me can turn ugly really fast so please pray that it goes away. I have way too much work to do!

On another note, if you haven't checked out the blog www.kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com you really need to. Man, it is a blessing and so inspiring. She's a 20 year old girl, living in Uganda taking care of the orphans and the poor. LOVE HER!!

Thanks for your prayers,
Laura

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Stuff

Blaine and I spent the whole day today at the house with the camera. We remembered last night that our insurance adjuster told us that the entire first level and the loft area was a complete non-restore and that we could keep anything we felt had sentimental value but that everything else would be replaced. Yesterday, they were hauling out mattresses and furniture for cleaning. Yuck. So we reconfirmed that with the adjuster this morning and changed our plan of attack today to getting pics of everything (and I mean ev-er-yyy-thing) so I can sit in front of the computer and write down this "stuff", how old it is, what we paid for it and what it is worth now.

The restoration company sent two nice ladies out today and we were going through our kitchen. I *guess* we were doing a little too much talking. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Blaine put up his hand to one of the guy workers and do the 'she's talking too much gesture'. He then says to me, "The flash on that camera should look like a strobe light. There is too much time between flashes." At this point the camera was taken from me and the strobe began! The kitchen was like a disco. No one could keep up with Blaine. Garbage started piling up. It was insane. But we got quite a bit done. The upstairs bathrooms are done (meaning empty and pics taken of all the contents), living room is done, upstairs bedroom is done, most of the toys are done, my books are done, and much of the kitchen is done. We will be back tomorrow with a couple brave and fearless friends to try to get more done. They evidentally were trying to get it complete so they could begin demo-ing it Monday. Someone really should have told me that...I would have talked less.

Funny what you find in drawers. Today, in one of my bathroom drawers (don't ask) I found several note card with Bible verses on them. Two really stood out to me.

"So do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 40:10

We sure need strength and help from God. Sometimes it's hard not to be afraid.

"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 greatest commandment is thisi:
Love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no commandments greater than these." Mark 12:30-31

So many people have loved us as they have loved themselves this week. The boys have been loved on, showered with gifts and clothes, we have received wonderful meals, cards, flowers, offers to help, money, gift cards and so much love and support. People have cried with us and laughed with us. What great examples of the love of Christ.

Today was a very hard day for me I guess because it started out hard. Because of all that's happened, the other day we felt we had to ask Rene to see if he could find another place to live. Well, this morning when he and Blake left for school he wasn't coming back. We will really miss him. Our house just worked out perfectly for his needs and I feel so badly. I feel such a sense of loss with everything and then losing him just took the cake. We'll see him again but it is just not the same.

I am going to try to call a church very near where he attends college at Normandale to see if there might be a mission minded person who would be able to have him. Maybe someone who needs help with yardwork. He can do dishes like nobodies business. Pray that there will be the perfect people for him. He has somewhere temporarily.

The kids are doing ok. The older kids are better than the younger. At least it seems that way on the outside. Mihiretu seems to be doing pretty well. It's really Misganaw who is showing the effects of this loss and stress more than anyone. Right now, it's his way or no way. He wants cookies for breakfast and candy whenever he wants it. He wants to be FIRST and everything is MINE! It is like I have a new child inhabiting my sons body. I'm hoping after another week of super busyness, we can settle in to a routine and he will feel more secure. Poor little guy.

I just keep thinking of all the loss these 2 little ones have experienced in their very short lives. To lose their first families and all that they knew to be brought to an orphanage. Then to get used to that and the people who loved and cared for them, and then we show up and they lose that. Then to get used to us and feel secure in our home, then to lose that. Any advise on how I can help them in the short and long term?

Many blessings,
Laura

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Stuff

We just got home from a day spent going through stuff. Basically this stuff goes into one of two piles. Restorable and non-restorable. Pretty simple, really.

The guys decide if something can be cleaned and *if* I want it cleaned, they tag it, photograph it and put it on a truck or in a box and take it away. This stuff is all covered in soot, sort of like touching a piece of charcoal over and over. It turns your hands black. I'm having a little bit of a hard time with my books. For those of you who know me you know I love a good book, especially if it's about a missionary who has overcome amazing obstacles and done great things for God. If I love a book I dog ear the 'good pages' so that most of my books are pretty dog eared. How can I re-dog ear them unless I re-read them?? So I must decide if it's worth cleaning them. New ones are NOT the same. Hmmmm....

As I was looking at my books, one of the guys said, "I've read that book." It was Bruchko, a missionary to the Motilone Indians of South America. Then he saw a lot of other books that he's read. I asked him where he went to church? Yep, he goes to B. Baptist, where we go. Crazy! He actually remembers when the Sunday 3 years ago when Blaine and I got up and shared how God led us to adopt M and M. He and his wife actually talked about adopting. Coincidence? I think not. He even remembered the name Addis Ababa!

So far, we have the living room done completely. I mean cataloging all the "stuff." I brought my mother in laws camera and layed out all the non-restorable stuff and photographed it. At least then I can look at my computer in the warmth and comfort of a home and write down each item. After that, I must price shop for these items or items close to them and write them down with a description of each item. Katie just went to her room and bagged up all her clothes. She filled 4 big garbage bags full. She just finished going through them and is getting rid of over half. I'm sure I am guilty of this, too. It's the, "well, I might wear that again" thing. And then you never do. Seriously people, get rid of your "stuff." Take it from me, if you have a fire you will just have to count it and it's not really fun. Give it away now so someone else can enjoy it!

Thanks to all of you who have offered to take the boys and to those who have already taken them. They have had so much fun with all of you and it is a huge relief to me during the day not to have to worry about them and know they're having fun. Thank you!!

Many blessings,
Laura

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The latest

Today we hired a company to come in and do the clean-up and after that do the construction and restoration of our house. It felt good to see men coming in with shovels to scoop up the insulation and stuff and get it out. They got the carpet pulled up and fans are set up to dry out the subflooring.

It sounds like the entire house will be taken down to the studs on all 3 levels, with the possible exception of B and K's rooms where the wall sheetrock might be saved. Ceiling must go in them, though.

The entire roof truss system must be replaced, as well. Thankfully, Blaine saved the roof truss diagram which will save a lot of work and time. He also has the blueprints which were used on the job site the first time around.

Every appliance is shot on the first level, including my new washer and dryer. The frig and freezer on the lower level might be ok.

Today, I did a walk quick walk through with our lead guy in charge of determining what is and is not salvagable. He asked me what absolutely had to be saved. We went around the house and literally found maybe 20 items at the most that were irreplacable to me. Most of them were items we picked up in Ethiopia for less than $1. It was weird to have your stuff reduced to a table with 20 items on it.

Tomorrow, I need to be at the house to help itemize and catalog each and every item in our house. It will take a few days and should be done by next Thursday.

All my Christmas items are going to be ok, thankfully. We found the boys greencards (YEAH), all the passports, all important papers made it with the exception of my calendar (so if I have an appointment with you I won't remember it!) and most thankfully of ALL things, the boys' life videos we received in Ethiopia which contain their time in the orphanage and an interview of their Ethiopian mother survived!! The originals are melted but the copies I made and planned to take to the safe deposit box made it. Praise God! There are so many positives in this situation and they are nothing short of miracles. Each one has God's fingerprints on it.

When I look at the house, I seriously don't feel sad or heartbroken. I can honestly look at my charred dining room table and say, "Oh, there is my table. Oh, well. Don't care." A week ago I would have told you that I "loved" that table and chairs. It was special to me and it was my dream table and chairs. But "love"? Nope, not love at all. I guess I really liked it and it served its purpose for my family but I wouldn't shed a tear over it. Puts "things" into their proper perspective.

Losing your home is definitely NOT the worst thing we've ever been through as a family. Losing a person is the worst and losing a house doesn't even come close to it. It's not even in the same universe.

The difficult thing in this loss is the emotional toll it takes on people, specifically our kids. It's hard to be a teenager and have your own stuff and space then lose it. My heart breaks for Mihiretu and Misganaw, who once or twice in their short lives have literally lost everything only to loose it once again. I'm sad for them. Misganaw begged me this morning not to go. He held onto me and said, "Mommy, don't leave me. Please don't go, Mommy. Mommy don't leave again." When I left, he lay at the bottom of the stairs, face down with his face in his hands. So sad. Katie found him yesterday lying under some big toy, just quiet. He never acts this way and I know he is sad and grieving. He said the other morning very sadly, "I don't like fire. I don't like fire in the house." The kids watched from the Jeep the flames coming out of the roof.

Please pray for the kids, strength and stamina for us and protection for all of us. We have been blessed beyond measure by the generosity of our friends, neighbors and family, and yes, even complete strangers. Once again, we are blown away by this and pray that God will bless each one of you greatly for your kindness to us.

We are thankful for all of you.

May God richly bless you,
Laura

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The fire (part 2)

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is NOT against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authourties, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." Ephesians 6:10-13

The first post on this blog contains the miraculous story of how God so clearly showed us that it was time for us to adopt again. It's a beautiful story and full of direct answers and interventions from God. Many of you also know that when we adopted the first time, God also did the same direct intervention to show us we were to adopt and even from where. (For anyone who does not know the story, I will write it out if people ask.) These two times are the only times in our lives that God has so directly spoken to us concerning anything. Sure, in other ways we have "heard" Him speak, but NEVER as directly as when He wants us to adopt.

This tells me something about God.

Number 1-God LOVES adoption. Jesus tells us to care for the orphan and the widow. His heart breaks for them. Ours should, too.

Number 2-God is real and intimately involved in the lives of His people. And when we make ourselves available to Him, He WILL show you what He has for you.

As powerfully and directly as God has shown us His desire in our adoptions, Satan has also very powerfully and directly tried to stop us. *This fire is a direct result of our pursuit to obey what God has clearly shown us regarding adoption.*

You see, we don't believe the Bible to be a book of fairy tails leaned on by weak people in times of difficulty. We believe EVERY precious word of it. So when it says our battle is not against flesh and blood but of evil forces in the heavenly realms, we BELIEVE that. We've SEEN it to be true.

We are in a cosmic battle of good and evil all the time. Satan battling God, trying to win as many over to his side as possible. The road to God is life, the road to Satan is death. Satan doesn't want a child to join our family and experience life. He hates it. He'll do what He can to stop it. Hence the term Spiritual Warfare.

We had many attacks during our last adoption. I'll share the worst of the worst. We pursued our adoption with a vengance. Our application was done is record time. Once we realized that God was telling us to adopt, we did everything as quickly as possible. The next step for us was (before we could do anything else) attend the pre-adoptive class given by our adoptioin agency (Children's Home Society). It turns out they were all filled up and we had to wait 3 months to get in. Uggghhh, that was so frustrating to sit and do nothing.

We were to attend on a Thursday in August. That Monday, Blake began to feel ill, really ill. By Monday night we were in the Emergency Room with him at Children's Hospital. His symptoms were severe. They drew blood, took x-rays and examined him. We were there all night. Finally, I asked the dr. why he wanted to take x-rays of his chest. He took me out of the room and told me that Blake's blood levels were all messed up. His white count was extremely low and his red count was also effected. He told me they were very concerned that he had cancer, lymphoma, and that they were checking a chest x-ray looking for evidence of that.

They told us to follow up the next day with his pediatritian. We didn't tell Blake anything about the cancer possibility, he was so sick anyway and we really didn't know how to. But the dr. did. Well, you can imagine. Telling a 16 year old boy that it looks like he has cancer. They drew blood and the results were almost the same as the night before. We were to come back the next day, Wed. in the afternoon.

After that appointment, I really felt the Lord assuring me that this is one of those spiritual battles and that he was fine. We all prayed together for Blake. I called CHSFS to tell them about the situation and that we intended to be there but a little late. I called the drs office to see if there was any possibility we could get an early morning appointment so we could still make the pre-adoption class. We were confident he would be fine. The dr. agreed to come in middle of her hospital rounds to see us.

They drew blood and waited. She came in with the results, sat down and said, "You are a very lucky boy. Your numbers have doubled and are climbing!" It was determined that he had a virus and the fact that it attacked his white AND red count was "very rare." We praised the Lord, sent Blake home with my niece and sped off to our class and made it exactly on time!

Satan tried then and he failed.

I had the application for adoption on my desk and planned to fill it out over the weekend and submit it on Monday (tomorrow).

He once again tried by destroying our house but he cannot destroy our faith and that's why I said, "Make no mistake. We WILL be adopting as soon as we get back in our house."

Thank all of you for your prayers. We feel the support. Thank you for the offers of help. Our insurance company advanced us a check so we are able to begin to replace the items we need. We're getting there. Everyone now has underwear, socks, shirts, toiletries. Blaine still has only the jeans he left the house in. Katie has flip flops and we awoke to the ground covered in white again! So we have to do a lot every day.

Blaine will post pics today of the house. They speak for themselves. We went on Friday to see it. With the exception of the frame, it needs to be completely gutted, all 3 levels. Part of the roof must be rebuilt as you can see in the pics. It will take about 6 months to complete, maybe 8. We should be back by Christmastime.

Today is Palm Sunday. It's the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, a hero beloved by the people. And just one week later, they crucify Him. How quickly things change. I'm thankful that God doesn't change.

Blessings,
Laura

The fire (copied from our old caringbridge site)

Saturday, April 4, 2009 7:44 AM, CDT
I'm posting under caringbridge today since I think most of you will get an email alerting you.
We had a house fire Thursday night. We all got out ok but the house is unlivable.
The smoke alarms went off at 1:30am. Blaine ran out to see if one of the older kids burned a pizza, which they occasionally do. He then ran downstairs and there was smoke coming from our game room and the ceiling was on fire. He then ran to wake Blake and Katie who were sleeping soundly. By the time they got up and turned around to come back upstairs, they literally had to feel their way due to the smoke. We all got out to the car and I asked Blaine if I could go back in to get something. He said to do it quickly. When I walked back into the kitchen, the smoke was so bad I could take nothing.
The fire spread quickly before the fire department was able to get water on it. The damage is extensive and we won't be able to return for approx. 6 months. We are blessed to be welcomed once again to Blaine's moms house. You will remember that we lived here with them for 1 year while we were building the house 5 years ago. This time however, we are not a family of 4, we are a family of 7. We are thankful to have a place to call home.
We went back to see the house yesterday in the daylight. It's so sad. The smoke damage left everything on the main level black. The walls are black, the ceiling is black, the floor is black, the pictures on the walls are black. It looks like a haunted house.
Everything has to be gutted-all the sheetrock must come off, all floors redone, basically everything except the framing (some of that must be redone) and part of the roof needs to be rebuilt.
We left with the PJ's we had on. All our clothes are smoke damaged and unusable. We all have coats, shoes, and I have my purse. Blake has his backpack. I think that's it.
We are thankful to be out alive and safe. Things can be replaced. We have been through worse. Losing a home is bad, but compared to losing a person it is NOTHING.
There are many bright spots. The fire didn't touch our adoption papers for M and M. Blake and Katie's babybooks will be able to be cleaned and were not destroyed. I *think* the boys greencards survived. The paperwork they were in was singed but I think they are ok (I HOPE!). We have good insurance and because Blaine had a "hunch", he just 3 weeks ago (before we left for Cabo) went around the house with the video camera and recorded everything in the house for insurance purposes and put the tape at his office. Praise the Lord for this! We have a place to stay, food and eachother.
I took the older kids to the MOA yesterday to shop for replacement clothes. We all needed everything. We put a small dent in it but are thankful that today, everyone has at least one outfit to wear. More shopping today.
The kids are pretty good for the most part but are having a hard time. Mihiretu and Misganaw keep telling me, "Mommy, I want to go home now." The older feel the same way. Pray for them please.
One of the first things I thought about was..."the adoption." We can't very well have a home study done if we don't have a home. Our adoption will have to be postponed until we get back into the house. We were so hoping to have her home just after Christmas.
I have a strong idea as to 'why' this happened to us. I just don't have the energy to go into it today, but later I will. Let me just say this...We WILL be adopting again.
Blessings,
Laura

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Adoption miracle

Today we move from caringbridge.com to blogspot.  I wanted to catch you all up to date on what has happened in our family.  Sorry if this is long.  I've condensed it as much as I could.  Hope it's not confusing!  


Many of you know that I have been greatly troubled for a long time about some things.  The fact that there are orphans in the world is bad enough for me but the fact that they are suffering illness and starvation, lack of education and knowledge of Jesus Christ is unbearable.


Even though I wanted to share this with Blaine, I kept this pretty much to myself because with the state of the economy, business has not been good.  I didn't want to stress him out any more. I didn't want him to think I had an agenda.  I didn't.   


I really thought God could use me to speak to groups or do some writing so that others might be inspired to open their hearts and homes to the blessings of adding a precious child to their family by means of adoption.  So adoption, while near and dear to my heart wasn't what I was thinking about for us.


Finally, one night I told him.  I read to him what I'd written on the old caringbridge site about orphans, the poor and the widow being Jesus in disguise to us. 


We decided to each begin to pray that God would show us exactly what our next 'assignment' would be on behalf of these people whom Jesus told us love and care for.  So we did.

 

Maybe a year ago or so, I signed up with RainbowKids.com to receive emails with waiting kids in Africa.  I did this just for fun so I could see the kids who were available.  I never received a single email until last week.  There was an email from them on Tues. and one also on Wed.  Weird!  So Thursday morning I told Blaine about it (since we were both on the look-out for what God has planned).  I quickly showed him the email, we looked at pictures and he went to work.


Apparently, he went to work and looked them up again and did what they tell you not to do under any circumstances if you don't have a completed, approved home study...he fell in love.


Like we did the last time God spoke so clearly about adoption, we began praying.


He prayed with me that night that God would show us clearly if we were to pursue adoption and that this girl would get the right family for her, whether it was us or someone else.

 

The very next day, “We have the first round of God’s answer.”  He proceeds to tell me this story:

 

A man came into his office, asking to see some office space for rent.  He had looked at it 2 months prior, but Blaine hadn’t seen him since.   For Father's Day last year, I had made up for Blaine big 20x30" canvas pictures of each of the 4 kids for his office.  The way it is arranged takes up his whole wall and if I may say so myself, is stunning.  The man looks at Blaine’s ‘wall of children’ and says,  “Cool, where did  you have this done?”  Blaine told him.  He really liked the pics but clearly was wondering about the 2 black kids in the pics but he didn't ask.  

 

They came back to his office after relooking at the space to work up some numbers.  The man (Daniel) was sitting in a chair with his back to the pics but kept turning around and was obviously wondering about the boys.  Blaine finally said, “Those are all my kids and the 2 little boys we adopted from Ethiopia.”

 

Daniel’s face turned to shock, he stood up, tears came to his eyes, he grabbed Blaine’s hand to shake it and said, “God is good, God bless you, Thank you, Jesus.,” over and over again.  He said, “You have no idea what you’ve done for these boys.  Your family will be blessed…your children, your children’s children and for the next 100, 200, 300 years your family will be blessed because of what you’ve done.”

 

Blaine replied, “Yes, our family is blessed and God is good.”

 

Daniel,  grabbing Blaine’s arm, “I KNEW it!!!  You are a believer and brother in Chirst!”

 

They told each other where they went to church.  Blaine asked him where he was from.  He replied, “Nigeria.”

 

Daniel proceeds to tell Blaine that he was so blessed to come to America and therefore has an obligation to take care of as many people back in Nigeria as he can.  He has sent over a half a million dollars so far and supports over 2000 people there.  He has 40 sibs, his dad is muslim with 4 wives and he supports them all.  God just continues to provide for him and he keeps sending as much as he can.

 

He tells Blaine that some rebels cut half of his mom’s ear off, two of her fingers and almost took her hand off.  He was able to bring her here for surgery, which he payed for to have her hand repaired from it’s mangled state.

 

Blaine told him that we were actually praying about bringing another daughter  from Ethiopia to join our family.  He broke into praising God all over again!!

 

The then proceeds to tell Blaine, “I want to be in this building and I am ready to sign the lease.”

 

Blaine, “Ok, I’ll get it printed up for you.  Do you want to come back Mon or Tues to sign it?

 

Daniel, “No I want to sing it now.”

 

Blaine, “It’s rather lengthy and you’ll want to read it.”

 

Daniel, “I’ll wait, Go ahead and print it up.”

 

He waits, Blaine gives him the over 20 page lease and he asks where he should sign.  Blaine shows him.  He flips through it, signs the lease and hands him cash for a deposit.

 

Wow!

 

Unbeknownst to me, Blaine had been praying for 3 weeks that if God wanted us to adopt, that He’d show Blaine that financially we would be able to handle it.  The economy being what it is, they haven’t signed a single lease in 6 months. 

 

One  hour after Daniel left, the real estate leasing agent called and said, “Good news!  We have a restaurant  for Farmington.  They want to sign a lease Mon  or Tues and are very excited.  Also, a consignment shop wants to sign a lease on Mon or Tues, as well."   

 

We have waited for 3 long years for a restaurant for our mall in Farmington.  It will bring in other tenants as well because they are an anchor. 

 

Nothing for 6 months and then 3 leases in ONE DAY !!! 

 

Blaine called me right after all this happens and says, “God is working fast.”  Woah, understatement!

 

We get our income from leases.  This is the assurance God gave him to proceed.


Now we are praying that God would show us clearly which agency to go with.  This matters so much because we know that God has a child picked out for our family and this has been predestined from the very beginning of time.  So it’s just not random.


We hope to have this decided with God's direction by early next week so we can proceed with a home study.  


While God was busy moving in my heart over the last months, I would often tell Him out loud, "God, please tell Blaine not me this time."  I told Him this over and over.  While my heart was hurting for these kids and I felt like I couldn't take the burden anymore and I would say this out of exasperation to Him.  And what did He do for me??  He told Blaine this time.  Blaine is fired up.  Let me tell you, when hear from the Lord it gets you fired up!! 


I can't really say why God works so dramatically with us when it comes to adoption.  This doesn't happen with other things...just adoption.  Keep in mind that all this has transpired over the period of 4 days!  From not knowing what direction God had for us to go to getting that it was adoption and then getting such powerful confirmation.This is why I am confused when people say, "I don't want to be a Christian...way too boring!"  Are you kidding????  Anything but.

That's it in a nutshell.  Please pray for us that we'd continue to see God's direction toward which adoption agency He has for us.  


Thanks for reading all this!


Blessings,

Laura