Lately, my life seems to be a comedy of errors...I only wish I thought it was funny. Some days I'm pretty sure I'm losing it and I may never 'have it together' again. Today might be one of those days. Let me tell you about my last week or week and a half...
First off, I misplaced (OK...lost) a sizeable check. A check to a local ministry that I have a heart for...and I felt sick. It was replaced, with the promise that if anyone finds the first check it would be torn up. So...everyone makes mistakes, right?
Secondly, after a meeting at our church last week (for our church's orphan care/adoption ministry), I may or may not have been part of setting off the church alarm. My first instinct was to run (that would have made for a good story!)...my second was to call one of our church's pastors who lives nearby -but no answer. I decided to text our senior pastor, he told me how to turn the alarm off after giving me a hard time. We shut it off , waited for a few minutes in case the police showed up, and then I headed home. On my way home, he texted back to tell me I needed to return to the building to turn the alarm back on...so, of course, I did. And guess what? Yep. The police were there. The policeman was walking the perimeter of the building looking for the 'suspect' (I guess that's me), and so I explained to him what happened. He was very nice, went on his way, and I proceeded to go inside and turn the alarm back on. Crisis averted.
Fast forward a few days and I'm at our church's indoor playground with my kids, except my oldest, Haley, is at home. She texts me asking if she can make some lemonade slushy while I'm gone. Of course I respond that she can, and go on to play with my kids. When I check my phone again, I see that I've received a text from Don (the first pastor I tried to call the night of my church break in) that reads something like, "No, it's not frozen yet. It takes about 30 minutes." HUH? I think to myself, "This is either for someone else, or he's losing it." Turns out, the person losing it is ME. Somehow, Haley's text to ME was forwarded to HIM...and he gets a text thinking that I am asking him to make a slushy. Who's losing it now???! (He hasn't admitted it, but I'm pretty sure he's going to be watching me very closely now). I mean how weird is it for a grown woman to text a man she hardly ever texts with to ask permission to make a drink?? Loco.
The next incident isn't so funny...today, my kids and I were in a minor car accident. Minor in that no one was hurt - only our vehicles. But the accident was my fault. I looked down for what seemed to me like a millisecond and cars were stopping in front of me...I braked and swerved, but could not miss the car in front of me. At the time, I felt calm and focused...checked on the driver in the other car, called 911, kept my kids out of traffic and eventually to the side of the road. I was so blessed to have two friends witness the accident and stop to give us rides home...you know it takes two "normal" vehicles to transport our family. I was fine until I got inside my home...and I lost it. I'm talking the uncontrollable ugly cry. What just happened? What could have just happened? What kind of mom am I that I wasn't paying enough attention and could have caused my children harm??
If you read my last post, you heard me be transparent about some of the challenges of adjusting to being a family of nine, and some of the inadequacies I've felt. These mistakes - funny or not - pile guilt on top of guilt and leave me feeling ill equipped to do a good job in my role of mom. I mean, am I really losing it? Forgetting and losing things, not to mention breaking into the church, and now running into stopped cars? I've never thought I was a candidate for 'mom of the year', but I used to feel like I could hold it all together...these days, it's all being held together by a tattered string and I'm holding on as tight as I can.
After the accident I was blubbering (and I mean that in the most literal sense - sobbing) to my friend Kim about how inadequate I've felt lately...how exhausted I am...and how I just want to have it together again for my family. I rambled through many scenarios and examples, and also began to tell her about school registration for Grace and Aleigha and the parent sign up sheets that were out for this or that. I shared that I could have cried at the thought of putting my name down and signing up for one more thing...I just couldn't. But then, of course, I felt like a disappointment because I wasn't doing those things. I mean, I'm the mom who is at home and can do all of those things, right? Shouldn't I be? She very clearly said, "Let another mom do that...one who has less on their plate. Others haven't signed up for what you have in having 7 kids and newly adjusting to bringing 3 home five months ago...Let them bring the cupcakes this time." Through my tears, and half laughing, I responded, "But it's easier to just bring the cupcakes!" We both burst out laughing...
It's true. It's easier to just bring the cupcakes than to sign up for what we have. I'm not looking for sympathy here...although I am needing a little grace at times. Grace for friends who haven't been called in a while, my family members I informed of a dance recital at the last minute,and a husband who doesn't get as much of me a what he needs. Someday I suppose I'll look back at all of this with a different perspective. Right now, it's hard to see.
Earlier I was talking to my oldest daughter and telling her than I knew I wasn't always on my A game lately...and I apologized to her if there were times I had let her down. Her response (in as dry of a tone you can imagine): "And when was that, Mom? Stop making stuff up." Another moment of laughter...it does help put things in perspective. I guess they are maybe going to all survive my parenting after all.
So, here's my new slogan: It's easier to just bring the cupcakes!
God apparently thought I could handle more than a few dozen cupcakes. I have days of wondering if he was right....but as I tell my kids, he doesn't make mistakes.
We have been a family of nine for 5 months now. For the 3 or 4 of you who still check this blog, you've probably noticed that I've been relatively silent. Some of that is because of sheer busyness, and some of it is intentional. Let me explain....
We have had what in the adoption world would be seen as a relatively 'easy' time with adjustment since our three new ones came home. They are adjusting better than we expected and we don't have any major issues....no uncontrollable crying, no night terrors or sleeping problems, no major food issues, and no serious acting out from any of them. They are learning English well and the little girls have learned much in preparation for school. I was prepared for much harder, and we have been pleasantly surprised. So, for those adoptive parents who've read every book, you know that our journey would be considered 'easy'.
But I'm here to be honest today. While things are going well, this isn't easy. It's just not. Adding three people to your family at once with their own histories, personalities, and habits isn't easy. Inviting their grief and loss into your home isn't easy. Having seven kids isn't easy. Trying to be enough for everyone in your family isn't easy. Most of the time it leaves me feeling as though I'm not enough for anyone.
Add in the dynamics of relationships - new and old - in a family of nine, 5 billion doctor appointments, a slight bit of panic (from mom only) about being sure the girls are learning everything they need to, and the constant nagging feeling that someone isn't getting what they need....and what you get is one exhausted mama. That would be me.
We have lots of good days, and I haven't blogged more about the hard because I want to honor my children. I don't want anyone making inaccurate assumptions about how we feel about them, or that we've bitten off more than we could chew. We love our children and are so glad they are here. But, the very desire to do better for them out of my love for them makes it harder...I want to be a good mother to them. I want to honor God in what he's asked me to do.
Good thing God's grace is bigger than my mind can imagine...and his love for me is true - not the lies of unworthiness I struggle with on hard days. He is bigger, and he is good. And today, I'm thanking him for both the easy AND the hard...and trusting him through it all. I'm choosing to believe that he can use it all for my good.
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest in me.
The drought in East Africa is said to be the worst in 60 years. Cattle and livestock are dying, and their crops are not growing. This is how they feed their family. Can you imagine? I mean, really imagine? I know you have seen the images before - the starving babies and the desperate mothers - but have ever really stopped to think about what it would be like to be in their shoes...? To be hungry, thirsty, sick, and even dying and have no way to help yourself? To watch your children suffer?? To watch your children die?
This is more than a news article or a sad story...these people are real. In fact, I have 3 of my own children who are from the very region this drought is affecting. I look at them and think that only a year ago, this drought would be affecting their lives, their family, and their health. They still have some family members there...I pray for them, and for others as I know they are suffering this very moment. I no longer look at children in the pictures and feel like they are distant images. I have held them, kissed them, loved them, and tucked them in bed at night. I can feed my children a snack or get them a cup of clean water whenever I want. I do not struggle to provide food or nourishment to my children, and I have never felt that heartache.
It is easy to believe that there is nothing we can do, or that our contribution can ever make much of a difference. It's easy to dismiss the headline as something horrible that's happening far away, and not look at it as an opportunity to be part of helping the situation. This what I'm asking of you:
Don't believe it. Don't believe the lie that you can't make a difference.
You CAN make a difference...if each one of us gives what we can, it matters. Find a reputable organization working in eastern Africa and partner with them to bring aid to the suffering. (and if you know of an organization doing good, honest work, please let us all know in the comments).
The bottom line is this: Jesus cares about these precious people, and wants us to, too. We are his hands and feet...and it's time to take action. Heaven knows we would want someone to act if we were in their shoes.
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40
It sounds so cliche' to say over and over again how blessed I am, but I am at a loss for any other way to say it. This Mother's Day, much is on my mind. We spent a great day today at church, and then driving to Indianapolis to eat Ethiopian food and go to the zoo. It was a great day, and I truly enjoyed being with my family. More than once I looked at my children and was in awe of the way God has blessed my life. Is there any life greater than this? I'd argue there is not. Once again...I'm so, so glad I didn't miss it...
My sweet, reserved girl. Haley is responsible and mature beyond her years, and a natural caregiver. She's my right hand and the gift who first made me a mother.
Hayden, 14 My tender-hearted boy....loves Jesus and cares about others. As a young boy he would invite his neighbor friends into our home to hear the 'Jesus story'. Can't wait to see what God does in his life.
Emma, almost 12 So proud of the young lady she is becoming. She adds life to our family and joy to our home...navigating middle school with integrity and becoming more and more comfortable in her skin. Her heart for those suffering is unmatched.
Grace, 6 I am humbled when I think of the loss and change this sweet girl has endured...and done so with such grace (no pun intended:). My outgoing, fun-loving girl. We are beyond blessed to have her in our lives.
Aleigha, 5 Beautiful smile, precious heart...this one will steal your heart. Her laugh is contagious....she is more shy than her sister, but beautiful through and through.
Elijah,2 Light of my world, spunk of my day...he keeps things interesting for sure. He is a natural encourager and cheers us on in whatever we are doing (He stood at the door cheering Hayden while he mowed the lawn yesterday!). Watch out world, he's gonna be in charge of something!
Solomon, almost 2 This darling boy captures my heart a little more every day. He loves to smile and laugh and cuddle and sing. He (and his brother) insist on me singing 'Jesus Loves Me' to them at every nap/bed time and he does his best to sing along. I heart him.
Do you see it..? Do you see how blessed I am? Honestly, I can hardly get over it myself. God is good and his plan is always better. I could have missed it all so easily...I get teary at the thought. By birth or by adoption; it doesn't matter how they came...they are among my greatest blessings.
Whew....time sure can get away from you, and before you know it, it's been weeks since you've updated the blog! Below are a few pictures of what we've been up to, so I thought I'd share those....you'll notice that my big kids are not represented below - that's for a couple of reasons...first off, they are at school during the day when many of these are taken...and second, they've gotten pretty good at avoiding the camera lens. :)
Do you see anything wrong with this picture...?
We've been working with the girls on recognizing and writing letters, and writing their names. We're so proud of what they've learned so far!
Grace gives her name a try, too! Good job, girls!
Solomon cracks us up - he loves this bicycle helmet! When we go outside he often insists on wearing it. It's not standard procedure around here to wear helmets for a stroller ride, but I thought this was pretty cute!
We're wishing for warmer weather...Grace tries on her swim suit!
One day over spring break, the older girls got bored and decided to give their little brothers a make over...I know there is something not quite right about this, but they're still pretty cute!
Solomon tries on Daddy's shoes...he was so proud.
The girls got new bikes and LOVE to ride them!
Grace asks to go outside to ride several times a day.
When I look at my children's faces, it is hard for me to imagine all they have been through...all they have lost...all they have seen in their short lives. When I think of the changes they've endured, I can hardly imagine enduring them myself. Loss of family, loss of relationship, loss of security, of language, culture, custom, and all that is familiar. Can you imagine? I honestly can't.
These sweet babies have not only endured, but handled it all so well. They are learning their third language (they spoke another language at home before being transferred to the Transition Home where they spoke Amharic). They were brought home by virtual strangers they had only seen pictures of before. They were taken to new places, had new experiences, were given new foods and brought home to a place where everything was foreign. Literally.
During all of these transitions, they have been so brave. I have no doubt that they have been afraid at times - especially at first. I have no doubt they have wondered what is going on at times as they adjust to our new routines. But they have done so well. I almost can't believe it. No, every day is not a fairy tale, and sure, we have our challenges. I'm sure hard days will come and questions will be asked. I'm not living in a dream world over here. However, given all that has happened in these kids' lives in the last year, I am so proud of how they've coped. So proud of how they have handled the change.
God is good. I am thankful every day that he continues to do the work of making us a family. Please continue to pray for our kids as they transition and adjust, and pray that God will strengthen relationships and bonds with them. I am inspired by their bravery, and in awe of our God who is responsible for it all.
"LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago."
Even as I write this post, I am uncertain if this story is for your eyes. This part of my life is one of the most painful, vulnerable parts, and I've never really shared in a public way like this. This writing is therapeutic for me, a part of my healing I think. This post has nothing to do with adoption, but has everything to do with my family. God has taught me his greatest lessons through the conceiving, birthing, adopting, and raising of my children. This story is among those that have had the greatest impact on my life.
Fourteen years ago, God gave Nathan and I the great blessing of identical twin baby boys....Nathanael and Hayden. I am humbled at how he chose to trust us with their lives, and use us to be part of their story. These precious boys were born at 7:35 and 7:37 pm on March 19, 1997. Their birth was 10 weeks early and they were both tiny little things. Upon their arrival, Nathanael had already left us...he had gone home to be with Jesus. He weighed just 2 lbs. 2 oz. Hayden arrived shortly after, weighing in at 2 lbs. 10 oz. I remember lying still during the C-section, waiting and willing him to cry...knowing that if he did it was a good sign. He did make a small sound, and I breathed a sigh of relief and said a prayer that God would protect this tiny child.
I don't speak openly of this story often for many reasons. The first being that it's just too painful. It's too hard to verbalize this kind of loss and how it still takes my breath away 14 years later. It's too hard to watch people's unsure reactions, and their own discomfort as they search for how to react. But also, in large part, because it has seemed unfair to Hayden to share this story about his birth. Like somehow it takes from the joy of his day to also speak of the great loss that occurred simultaneously. March 19 is a bittersweet day. One that never leaves me feeling myself. A day of great loss, yes, but also a day of great celebrating. As the years go by, the loss becomes less raw, and maybe that's what is moving me to talk about it. The loss isn't less real, but certainly not as fresh as it once was.
We are beyond grateful that God spared Hayden that day. Because of the circumstances that surrounded his birth, we were told by the neonatologist that we were fortunate he had survived, and there was a good chance he'd been in shock and would suffer with cerebral palsy. It was a scary time, and I continued to watch his development for years to come, waiting to find evidence of his early birth and slow development. I am grateful to report that Hayden is and always has been healthy. Praise God.
As I remember back fourteen years, it's amazing at how it all rushes back if I allow myself to reminisce for long. I remember the emotions, the smells, and the sight of our sweet boys. I remember the days following and not knowing how to feel or even where to be most of the time - with Haley at home, with Hayden at the hospital, or grieving the profound loss we were experiencing. It was confusing and overwhelming. I remember getting up in the night to call the night nurse to see if Hayden had gained even a few grams of weight. I remember the many, many people who came to help - bringing us a meal or sitting at our house while Haley slept so we could be at the hospital. I remember the cards and the prayers, and will never again underestimate what those things can mean to someone else. Years later, I still remember Nathanael by occasionally bringing out the few things we have to remember him by - a blanket, an outfit, pictures, and a book of thoughts and memories. I close my eyes and remember those few moments we had with him.
But most of all I remember this - God shows up. He shows up when you are hurting. He shows up when you are overwhelmed and aren't sure things will ever feel normal again. He meets you where you are and walks you through the valleys. I remember sharing with a friend a few years after the boys' birth that the greatest blessing of this experience was that I knew what it was to be truly carried by God. And years later, I would agree. God used this joy and loss for my good. He used it to teach me to trust him in a deeper way. He used it to grow my faith and prepare me for his plan for my life. And for that I am grateful.
During this experience, I found this verse and it became the verse I clung to:
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. Lamentations 3:32
His love IS unfailing. It was through this experience that God made this real to me. Of course, I would have never chosen this part of the path for my life, and yet I know it was an important one. So, today, we celebrate our boys. We thank God that he allowed us to raise Hayden in our home, and look forward to being in heaven with Nathanael one day. We praise him for the lessons learned and his presence in our lives. And we remember that through it all his love is real and will not fail us, in joy or sorrow.
Some days we are so busy, I don't really stop and take the time to evaluate how we're all doing. Now, of course, I know who has immediate needs, who has 'owies', who is crying, who is squabbling with a sibling, etc. But I mean how we are really doing. How we are coming together as a family.
Yesterday, I was reading a blog post by a sweet family who just made their first trip to Ethiopia to meet their three new children. The mom was describing leaving her new children on the last visit of that trip, and her son's final good-bye (who we met, and is precious!). You can read that post HERE. The image of this mother leaving her kids in Ethiopia....and of us leaving our kids at the Transition Home to come home without them brought tears to my eyes. My heart was so pierced at the thought of being separated from my kids.
Then, it hit me. It hit me that while it was difficult for me to leave my children between trips for a time back in December, how much harder it would even be now. You see, it's happening. God is weaving us together as a family. God is teaching us how to love these kids, and teaching them how to trust us. He is revealing things to us about one another. No, everything revealed isn't lollipops and roses...but it's real. I won't tell you that 'we've arrived' - that the weaving is complete, and that we have it all figured out. A month into this, we have a long way to go. But, I'm grateful that as we learn and grow as a family, God is in charge of the weaving. Thanks be to him!
Sooo...my last post was about how we are doing...and the verdict is that we're doing pretty well. Before I dive into this next post, let me reassure you that we still are - overall - doing well. However, I feel like it would be a disservice to 'dress it up' and not also share some of the hard things. Today was a day, and so some of the hard things are fresh in my mind.
Appointments. I'm sick of them. I don't want to take another kid to the doctor - like ever. Bringing home three new ones at a time = much time at the clinic. (We'll be there the next two days, though, so my wish is not to be granted).
Collecting poop. That's probably all I really need to say about that.
Learning to manage the day to day life with 3 new ones (and 1 'old' young one) who need a lot of you.
Feeling torn - torn between my daily life, meeting the needs of little ones, running a household, my hubby, and 3 big kids who I still want to spend time with. Sometimes feeling like I'm not doing any of it well.
Four children in carseats....time consuming and tedious.
Forgetfulness - I'm not sure I'll ever remember anything again - my memory wasn't good to start with!
Time outs, spills, kids not sharing, and all other, umm....'joys'...that come from having little ones.
It may sound as though I'm whining...and well, maybe I am a little bit. I'm allowed every now and then...right?? (OK, so I'm really not, but sometimes I do it anyway.) In all honesty, we are doing well - some days are just hard with four little ones. Doesn't seem like it's fair to portray it any other way. Tomorrow is a new day - and I'm actually looking forward to it. Better get to bed and rest up though - it promises not to be boring with this crew!
Here we all are, ready for our first trip to church. Not an award winning photo, but we're all in it, and we're all looking the right direction!
We've been home for almost 2 weeks now, and I find my curious friends wondering just exactly how is it going? What does the day to day look like...are we overwhelmed...are we sleeping, etc. Well, the short answer is we reallyare doing well. Much better than I expected. I mean, I was hoping we weren't going to be a total wreck all of the time, but I had prepared myself for our share of bumps in the road.
We have found ourselves in a day to day routine that is predictable and seems to be working for us. (For those of you bored by the mundane, you can skip this post. :) Solomon is the first to rise (wish Teenage Baby could teach him to sleep in), usually around 6. I shower before the rest of the crew is up, and at 6:30, I allow the girls to get up. They are awake before this, but they know to stay in their room until I come to get them...usually they are making their beds and folding blankets when I go into get them. (They have been taught to make beds and fold their pajamas at the end of the bed when they get up...I'm considering having them hold a class on how to do this for my other kids!) They dress into the clothes we put out the night before, and head downstairs for breakfast or to play until it's ready. (Or follow one of us around, which happens often as well). I dress Solomon, and either take him downstairs or a big kid takes him for us. I'd love to tell you that I'm now making a wonderful, hot breakfast, but the reality is, that just ain't happening. My big kids have been amazing to help with the kids and their breakfast, they all pitch in to be sure everyone is fed. Then, it's off in our big van to take the big kids to school.
Our mornings are spent in a variety of ways...playing at home, maybe running an errand (yes, I've taken them all the grocery store!), doctor appointments, and even spending a morning at our church's indoor playground. The time passes quickly, we have an early lunch, and the boys nap by 12:30 to be up in time to pick the big kids up from school. The girls have been having some quiet time with books or resting in their room in the afternoon. (I may need this more than they do, but we are doing it nonetheless!) Around 2:30 or 2:40ish we leave to go pick the big kids up from school and then come home for a snack and playtime. We spend playtime playing play-dough, reading stories, playing 'letter games' on the computer, and recently jumping on the trampoline and going outside. Then, it's dinner, family time, and a bedtime routine.
Aleigha and Grace busy working!
Grace is eager to please and eager to learn. She is concerned with her younger siblings, and a natural caretaker. We are working towards letting her know that we will meet everyone's needs (she doesn't seem overly anxious about it, mostly eager to please), and we want her to relax and rest in the fact that her siblings aren't her responsibility. Grace has a sweet disposition, but is definitely able to let you know if she is unhappy about something. She tends towards the dramatic and expressive, and it will be interesting to watch this come to life as we get to know her better.
Aleigha is fun-loving and giggly most of the time....she often looks like she is on the verge of cracking up. She is usually quieter, but mostly just until she is comfortable in a situation. When the girls are playing or singing together (and there is no one new around), she's definitely out of her shell. She also is eager to learn and loves to sit and play a game (although there may or may not be a little cheating going on), color, and work on learning her letters. She tends to not be quite as serious about things as Grace, and loves to have a good time.
The girls are both picking up a little language, and it's fun to hear them try to use their words. We're glad they feel safe enough to try! You will often hear them walking around just repeating what they've learned. It goes a little something like this (in the cutest Ethiopian accent you can imagine): "Are you OK? I'm OK? How are you? Good. Fine. It's OK. Come.Are you OK? Yes. Good." and so on... They are so proud of their English words, and we are amazed at what they understand already!
Who could resist that smile and those eyes??
Sweet Solomon is definitely the baby of the family. He seems so young in comparison to Elijah's teenage ways. It's evident that he's spent his time with babies, and that his needs were well met. (He has no problem expressing them, and seems to expect that they will be met!) We love his giggles and smiles. He loves the be held and the boy can eat. He's had some 'intestinal issues', and we think his over interest in food comes from a combination of those issues, eating for comfort and security, and habits he's developed. We actually already see some improvement in this area, but he still loves to chow. He's a decent sleeper (does not get up in the night), although he gets up a little early for this needs-her-sleep mama. Elijah was not sure what to think about him at first, and was a little rough with Solomon. (He's just a rougher kid than Solomon anyway). That seems to be improving, and seems to view Solomon as a baby, and is learning to be a kinder, gentler version of himself.
So, that's us for now. Maybe not super exciting, but that's perfectly fine with me! We have a long way to go in truly getting to know each other, but we are enjoying the ride this far. We're so glad our kids are all home - what a blessing!
As I sit in my living room this afternoon, my house is peaceful and I have a few moments to think. The 3 bigs are in school, the little boys are sleeping, and I have two girls coloring at my feet. As I sit and reflect, and watch these girls in my home, I am overcome. Overcome with gratitude that God brought these children into my home. Overcome that despite my many flaws and shortcomings, he saw fit to use me in their story and become their mama. How on earth did I ever get so blessed?
I also can't help but reflect on the many children left behind. (You knew this post was coming, right? The 'how can I leave them behind' post? The 'why aren't we doing more' post? It comes every time the images are raw from our travel to Ethiopia.) I can't shake it. I can't get them out of my mind. Five million orphans in Ethiopia alone. And I ask the question once again - where is everyone? Why aren't we doing more? Why is this OK with us? Why is it OK for us to be moved by a story, become teary during a video or song, and then move on with our lives?
This post is not about judgment. It's not about judging you or what you are or aren't doing...it's just a question that haunts me, and confuses me. Here's the thing - I don't care whether you adopt from Ethiopia or not...I just want for the body of Christ to be enough for these children. I want everyone...you...me... to be doing something. Something to care for these vulnerable children and orphans...and here's the clincher: So does God. He commands us to care for the orphan. I don't know what each person's role will be... but I do know this - God has a role for each one. He has a role for you. He has a role for me. We are all to play a part. It's not enough to feel compassion towards the cause or weep at a gotcha day video...God wants us to move. And if this were your child, you would want someone else to move on their behalf, too. These children are waiting on our obedience. For us to move in the way he has already commanded. Their futures depend on it.
"But Samuel replied, "What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Obedience is far better than sacrifice. Listening to him is much better than offering the fat of rams."
Well, since I've blogged, we've traveled approximately 16,000 miles half-way around the world to bring our kiddos home. As you can imagine, time has slipped away, and I haven't been the good blogger I intended to be! We are HOME now, which is a wonderful thing to say. We always love our time in Ethiopia, but nothing is sweeter than home.
The kids traveled like champs and are doing so well at home. Things are going much more smoothly than I had prepared myself for....we've truly been blessed by sweet kids. They are affectionate and loving, and try their best to go with the flow and do what is expected. We are loving getting to know them better. There are, of course, hard things, but all of it is to be expected. The language barrier is our biggest challenge, and it's just hard to parent children when they don't understand what you are explaining....or they can't tell you why they are upset. These are obviously things we knew going into this, and will get better with time. Sleep is another issue we know will resolve itself over time.
I will post more about our transition in time (I think - if I ever have any time!), but for now, enjoy the pics of our sweet kids!
Aleigha and Grace...got all dressed up to go to Hayden's b-ball game...so sweet!
Elijah cheesing it up with Solomon....if Solomon looks a little nervous, it's for good reason....
Hold still...this will only hurt for a minute!
Grace, enjoying a beautiful day at a park in Addis Ababa.
We are so blessed to call these children our own. To God be the glory!
It's here...it's here!! The time has come for us to bring our children HOME. I can hardly believe it as I type these words! You know how sometimes you plan for something for so long that it doesn't feel real? At times, that's exactly how this felt. But, as I pack their little backpacks, and their clothes in the suitcase - it hits me. Things will never be the same.
We are no longer the Garrison 6. We are now the Garrison 9! Three children are no longer orphans, but that have a mommy, a daddy, and four new siblings waiting for them. They have a home. A family. Our at-home children are watching God redeem three precious lives before their eyes....no,things will never be the same....and that is good.
Yes, we'll have more laundry, more mess, and more noise. But, we'll also have more hugs, more love, and more blessings. As I write this post and ponder that this day really is here, my heart fills with gratitude. Gratitude that God would see fit to use our family as a part of his redemptive act. I don't understand his grace, but it is good.
"From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another." John 1:16
We were cleared by the embassy for travel yesterday!!! We were shocked, since we were only submitted last Wednesday. Shocked, but of course, thrilled! They gave us our choice of days next week to appear at the embassy (in Ethiopia) and so....we'll be on our way SOON!
Our plan is for Nathan, Haley and I to fly out of Indy on Saturday afternoon, spend the night in DC, and then take a direct flight from DC to Addis on Sunday (arriving on Monday morning). So, in less than ONE WEEK, I will have have these babies in my arms!! We should be home next Saturday (the 19th). (That feels so good to say!!) All of my children under ONE roof!
We would appreciate your prayers for safe travel, health (no altitude sickness - yuck!), and most importantly for our kids' hearts as their world is about to change...pray that they won't be afraid, and that their little hearts will be able to endure the transition.
So, it's an exciting time around the Garrison household! We are grateful to be at this point, and so close to bringing our children HOME!
Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!
We are a family of ten...striving to live the lives that please God...getting it wrong a lot of the time, but trying nonetheless. We have eight beautiful children...three were given to us through birth and five through the miracle of adoption. We feel blessed to be living the life we've been given.
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. James 1:27
~ One in ten children die before their first birthday ~ One in six children die before their fifth birthday ~ 44% of the population is under 15 years old ~ 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition ~ The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years old ~ 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world) ~ There are roughly 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia ~ Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa ~ Half of the children in Ethiopia will never attend school. ~ 88% will never attend secondary school ~ Coffee prices (Ethiopia's only major export) declined 40-60% from 1998-2002 ~ Ethiopia's doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000 ~ Severe drought struck country from 2000-2002 (first year no crops, second year no seeds, third year no animals)