Sunday, November 28, 2010

What a week:)

I do believe we have had one of the best weeks ever!

This news actually deserves a post of it's own but I will insert it here. De asked Katie to marry him on Wednesday afternoon, at a beautiful park with big snowflakes falling from the sky! My baby girl is engaged! We love De like a son and are THRILLED to have him in our family, officially. We are not sure when the wedding will be but I'll be sure to let you know! The ring is beautiful (they let me be a part of helping pick it out!) and these two are very happy and excited! Sorry, sorry, sorry I don't have a picture right now but I will post one soon!!!
We have had full, busy days since Wednesday when we celebrated Thanksgiving with my family. Thankfully, I have 6 leaves to my table! Even with that all 20 of us were elbow to elbow, enjoying conversation, laughter and great food. We had all the usual family, but were especially blessed to have my nephew Brian and his wife, Sara, who were here for another special event that would come on Friday:) We enjoyed meeting Bader, Blake's friend from Kuwait very much. I'm pretty sure I've never met anyone so proper and formal and with such good manners! He kept putting his hands together and bowing slightly to me in thanks! He later told Blake that he had a great time, had never had food such as this but loved it and has never met any American's who were so hospitable. How sweet is that?

He wants to take in everything traditionally and culturally that he can while he's here in the U.S. to study, so we invited him again for Christmas dinner. He said he doesn't know much about the American Christmas tradition so I thought we could help him with that!

Bader told us that when he was a boy, they would receive videos and inevitably there would be one with Santa Claus on it. He said, "We did not understand who this man was who came down a tube in your house and deposited gifts under a tree, then left up the tube." His father explained it was an American tradition:) See what an opportunity we have to open our homes and share our traditions and ultimately the love of God with these young international students?

Thursday, I went with my friend Stephanie to work out which was a good thing since we enjoyed a second Thanksgiving dinner at Blaine's moms house with his family. It was equally as yummy and lovely. The little kids LOVE to play together in her big basement so they had loads of fun. I'm still trying to figure out why at the dinner table there was only one conversation going on at a time and it could be easily heard. At my house, there were 5 different conversations going on, it was loud and chaotic (in a fun way). Why is Blaine's family better behaved?? I'm really trying to figure this out:)

Friday was wedding day. My wonderful nephew was set to marry sweet Holly on Friday evening. We had to be at the wedding site for rehearsal at 9:20 a.m. and ended up staying the entire day doing this and that, until the wedding which was in the evening. Blaine and Blake were ushers, Mihiretu did a reading (I was so proud of him!) as did I, Katie did the photography with her Aunt Jenny and Aliya helped in various ways. It was beautiful and a complete blast! We feel privileged to have been a part of their special day!

Saturday morning, we went to the gift opening and then home to pick out the E Family Christmas tree. Everyone but Blake went and the girls chose a HUGE and gorgeous tree! This was Aliya's first tree picking experience and she did well!

In our family we have a tradition that each year, I buy each child a new ornament that is special for them. This way, when they move out they can take them all with them and remember why they were given them. Well, we got all the ornaments out and Aliya was enjoying looking at them all. I explained the tradition to her and then told her to wait a minute, that I had something for her.

I had shopped and purchased 15 special ornaments for her, wrapped each one and put it in a nice plastic tote with a handle. I brought them to her and told her to open them. It was very special and she LOVED them! She loves popcorn (they eat lots of popcorn in Ethiopia!) so I bought her a glass popcorn ornament. Since this year was her first airplane ride, I bought her a glass airplane. All were special and the other kids all oohed and ahhhed over her ornaments which I know made her like them all the more!

The tree is up and beautiful! The house smells like Christmas.

This week filled us up with much love, encouragement, family time, laughter, conversation, dancing, joy, beauty and sharing.

We are thankful indeed!!

I promise pictures to come!! Bug me if I forget!


Friday, November 19, 2010

Look who is coming to dinner!

Sorry for my lack of posting lately. Sometimes there are seasons in our newly formed family that are difficult and even though I have much to say, it is hard to know just what to say. I don't want to say too much but I want to be honest in our struggles. It's a very fine line and I err on the side of not saying too much.

I can say we had breakthrough the other night when we had a mom, dad and child meeting which exposed some brutally honest feelings and perceptions which I think shocked the child. It has brought about a very positive change in behavior, attitude and respect for me as Mom. Not sure how long it will last but I'm enjoying it for now. Continue to pray for a positive and strong attachment within this newly formed family. We'd appreciate it!

As many of you know, there is rarely a holiday that passes that we don't have an extra or two or more as guests at our table. Not sure how it always works out that way but we are thrilled to open our home and share our dinner and family traditions with someone who would otherwise be alone on a holiday. We don't believe anyone should ever sit alone on a holiday!


The other day, Blake came home with a request...well, not really a request because he knows our feelings about people sitting alone on holidays. He'd already made the invitation and he was simply letting me know that we were going to have an extra guest at our table for Thanksgiving.

The guest is Bader, Blake's friend from the U is from Kuwait. He's only been here on a student visa since September. Blake met him the first week of school and they've been friends ever since. Blake's other friend at school is a Liberian girl so they all hang out together and have lunch together. Very international!

The other day, Bader asked Blake, "I am wondering something. I have asked some of my fellow classmates (he's very proper:) about the best restaurant where I can go to enjoy a traditional American Thanksgiving. They told me Perkins. Is this correct? Is Perkins the best place for me to go for a traditional Thanksgiving?"

Blake (now laughing) says, "NO! Perkins is NOT the best place for you to go for Thanksgiving! You have to come to my house."

Bader: "Really? You would have me over to your house?"

Blake: "Yes, we usually have someone extra at our table. My parents won't mind at all."

So guess who's coming to dinner?

Blake just told me that Bader wants to meet with him this week to discuss how things are done here and what he should and shouldn't say at our house! Blake told him he can say whatever he wants here. I am surprised and thrilled that he wants to come to celebrate a Christian holiday with us since he is Muslim.

What a great opportunity we have as American Christians to reach out to international students!! What an privilege to have this young man in our home to show him love, acceptance, fun, and how a typical American (ok, we're not actually typical) family celebrates a holiday. He will always have in his memory when he goes back to his country. He'll see how we behave as Christians, how we pray, how we interact. This is hugely impacting!

So let me challenge you. Is there anyone that you can have for dinner who has never celebrated a traditional Thanksgiving or Christmas? Or do you know anyone who will be alone on these holidays if you don't welcome them in?

I can tell you from will be blessed as much as you will be a blessing!


Monday, November 1, 2010

Re-adoption final!

Last Thursday was re-adoption day for Aliya. When a child is adopted from Ethiopia, they must go through a re-adoption here in MN. It is a formality, really but an important one as this is the day she officially becomes a U.S. Citizen!

The judge was very sweet, as was our last one with Mihiretu and Misganaw's re-adoption. He and the court reporter were very curious about our family because we were adopting a teenager. They said they almost never, ever see that and that all the adoptions they see are for babies or very young children. The court reporter hung back to talk to me and try to figure us out. I told her that we felt that older children are just as deserving as the 'itty bitties' are but they just don't get a chance as often. She agreed and blessed us as we left:)

(Look who's around the judges shoulder! Misganaw is taking over!)

Me, De, Blaine, Katie, Aliya, Misganaw, Mihiretu and Judge Spicer. Blake is missing because he had to be at school. We took the boys out of school to be there. Aliya did well and because she is over 14, she had to be sworn in by the judge and answer his questions. When he told her to raise her right hand, up went her left and he told her, "no, your other right." He was so friendly...she told us the judges in Ethiopia are NOT at all like that. They are more serious. We told her the judges here are serious too, if you have broken the law but that they LOVE doing adoption cases because they are fun.

He asked her basically if she understood that she would be our daughter forever and did she want that? She said, "Yes." The judge and the court reporter clapped. So sweet!

We got Chipotle for lunch (Aliya's choice) and then back to school for the last couple hours.

I don't think she understands the significance and privilege of being a U.S. Citizen. I tried to explain it to her and how much work it is for a foreign born person to become a citizen here. I told her that many foreigners would do anything to have her status but by adoption, it comes automatically.

It is exactly like how we join the family of God. Everyone wants to go to heaven someday. It's a status everyone desires. When we accept His free gift of salvation, he adopts us into His family forever. You can't work for it, it is automatic because of His love for us. Such a beautiful picture!

Yesterday, Aliya wanted Katie to take her to Target. They came home and Aliya was hiding something behind her back. She had purchased me a beautiful purple bouquet. Katie said it was completely her idea and her own money!! Thank you, Jesus...more progress in our relationship!

I have so much to catch you up on but not enough time, once again. I do want to ask for prayer for our dear friend, Kim. We had dinner with her on Friday night, and even though she was having a flare up of her MS, she was doing well. We got a call on Saturday morning and she was taken by ambulance to the hospital. She is now in ICU. It's still a bit of a mystery but she does have some sort of infection, her heart has been effected and weakened and she was having trouble breathing. This is a very hard situation for her family and friends. Please pray for her complete healing, strength for her family and that God would be glorified in all of this.