Monday, December 18, 2006
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Below is a video that I wanted to share with my readers. If you haven't already adopted, but have that "tug" in your heart (If you've had that "tug", you know exactly what I'm talking about!), please consider adoption. The children in this video will give you some pretty good reasons why this is so important.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Okay, now that I have that out of my system, I would like to share what I have learned about this well-kept secret of making injera in America- the mitad. We had supper with some new friends last night who are from Ethiopia and Abeba showed me her mitad. This wonderful cooking device that a couple of Ethiopian women now have said can only be purchased in very large cities that have large Ethiopian populations is the exact same item that our local Target sells! It is available online by clicking here. This is what Abeba uses as her mitad. Now, you must have a lid to cook injera, so you need to purchase a lid separately that will fit. Yene addis wadadj (My new friend) is going to let me come to her house so that I can actually watch and learn how to do it. She said that something else that is essential is a blender. Evidently, in Ethiopia, she stirred the injera with her hands and it was find. But in America (elevation perhaps?), the only thing that works is to stir it by putting it into a blender. She said that once her blender broke so she used a food processor, but that didn't work. It must be a blender. So, a blender it is.
It occurred to me the other day that there are lots of shortcut recipes for injera, some of them not so bad. But they're just not the real deal either. For me, the quest to learn how to make injera stems largely from the desire to honor the cultural heritage of two of my kids. It has to do with honoring their parents. We are supposed to honor our parents, and I feel that by honoring their culture, their parents are being honored as well. That's why I won't settle for a shortcut recipe. I want the real deal. Mihret told Avery that her favorite food is injera! I must learn this! :) I've been discussing injera via email with a woman who lives about an hour from me, who is also an American mother to adopted Ethipian children. We've been trying to share all of the secret tips we've picked up. It suddenly struck me that we would be extremely entertaining to any Ethiopian woman! It would be like me watching two Ethiopian mothers dicussing the finer technicalities of making mashed potatoes, yet still not coming up with good mashed potatoes! Perhaps someday I'll be such a good injera maker that I will have Ethiopians lining up at my door in the hopes of having the opportunity to buy my injera...hmmm....what is that verse in the Bible about faith being the evidence of things hoped for and not yet seen?
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Now, I have learned a most valuable and well kept Ethiopian secret about injera! I just can't seem to get the right consistency. So, last week I traveled an hour and bought some injera from an Ethiopian restaraunt. When I got home, I discovered that the local woman who made it had a sticker on the bag with her name and phone number! So, I decided to call this wonderful injera maker named Tenu. I explained to Tenu who I was and that I had tried for over a year to make injera, but just couldn't get it quite right. I asked her if I could pay her to give me a cooking lesson. She thought this was quite funny and agreed to help me free of charge. Then, she asked me if I had a pan. I told her that I have a frying pan. She said, "Oh no. You need a special pan." She said she'd find out what it's called and where to buy it and call me back. She hasn't yet.
So, on Saturday we had lunch with our new friends Tedros and Abeba. Abeba knows exactly how to make injera and said that she will teach me. She said that the name of the special pan is a "mitad" and that it is what they call the clay fire pit in Ethiopia. In America, you can buy an electric mitad. Who knew?????? In all of my research on injera, I have never come across the word mitad before! BUT, if you do research on the word mitad, you will find all kinds of nice sociological and anthropological articles discussing the use of the mitad to make injera in Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, Djbouti, and Somalia. Also, the mitad is used in Congo, but I'm not sure what they cook on it. I just can't believe this special stove/pan wasn't mentioned in anything I've found about injera! It's expensive though. I only found one place to buy it online and it was $190. Tenu said she thought you could get it in DC for $90. So, I am going to use all of the money I get for Christmas, which will hopefully be enough, and try to find myself a mitad when we go to DC to catch our plane in 14 DAYS- THAT'S RIGHT- JUST 2 WEEKS!!!!!!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
By the way, only 15 DAYS UNTIL I GO TO ETHIOPIA TO VISIT YOSEF AND MIHRET!!!!!
Click here to see the video.
By the way, only 15 DAYS UNTIL I GO TO ETHIOPIA TO VISIT YOSEF AND MIHRET!!!!!
Click this link to view the video:
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
So, anybody who still wants to send a bag, I need to have them by Dec. 23 so that I will have time to pack. We know a man (who generously helped us to fund our adoption) who is from North Carolina, but he spends about 6 months out of each year in Addis doing humanitarian and community economic development projects. He's a most humble, generous man. He will be helping us to distribute the bags so that those in need will receive them and also to ensure safety for Avery and me. Some call it a small world- I call it God's sovereignty- but this man is going to be on the same flight as us going to Ethiopia!
As far as our adoption, our agency is still awaiting their relicensure. It seems that once some requested documentation is provided to the Ethiopian government, the license is expected to be issued. Of course, this all takes time. I would ask though that if you're reading this, and if you're the praying type, that you take a minute to pray for the director of our agency. She had been traveling for the past couple of weeks in Africa when all of this was discovered about the documentation. On top of the stress of having to deal with that, her adult son has become critically ill and she is having to deal with that too. As a mother, my heart aches for her right now. Hopefully good news will be coming soon. But until then, I'M GOING TO ETHIOPIA TO MEET MY KIDS!!!!!!
My 4 year old son, Lucas, was being bossed around by his 4 year old friend, Chelsee. Indignant, he turned to her and said, "I AM TOO SMART! ONE PLUS ONE EQUALS THREE!!!" The really funny part is that Chelsee walked away thinking that Lucas is really smart!
Monday, December 11, 2006
For those who would like to help solicit bags for Yesus On The Streets, you can use the following link for the logo: http://static.flickr.com/126/319708957_171af6d472.jpg?v=0
And this is the link for the blog post that explains what this project is all about:
Please, take this idea and either participate in Yesus On The Streets, or transform it into something that you can use to get your own community involved in a similar project! Thank you to all for your generous hearts toward the people of Ethiopia!
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
This project involves everybody from the two-year-olds to the ninety-two year olds. Each person who chooses to participate will receive a gallon-size ziploc bag. If you're a child, you are to fill the bag with toys, socks, books, candies, crayons, etc. from your own collection. Also, the children are to ask Mom and Dad for some practical items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, lotion, etc. The point is to help our children to understand sacrifice. If you're an adult, you make up a bag for another adult. Ladies can include "girly" items such as jewelry, make-up, fuzzy slipper socks, pretty stationary, etc. The point is to reach out to somebody in Ethiopia who is basically the same as you, just impoverished due to the circumstances in which they were born. Men are to make a bag for a man living on the streets in Ethiopia. I am asking that each adult bag also contain either Advil, diarrhea medication, cough syrup, or all of the above. Adult bags will also contain practical items such as toiletries.
When the bags are turned in, I will take a picture of each person holding their bag. The pictures will be developed and put into the appropriate bags along with a card that will say "Jesus cares about the orphans, the widows, and the poor. Jesus cares about you. Jesus sees you. Jesus loves you." in Amharic. Then, when able, we will take a picture of the recipient in Ethiopia holding their bag so that we can then show the people here in America what a tangible happiness their gift brought to somebody in need. Our hope is that this small project will evoke a deeper passion for the impoverished persons in the world who are so deeply important to God.
Below is a 5 minute promotional video that I put together to capture the heart of what this is all about. The song is U2's "Where The Streets Have No Names." Bono visited Ethiopia during the famine of the 1980's and was moved by the disparity he saw there and by how it contrasted to the freedom and prosperity of the Kingdom of Heaven. He wrote a song that captures that essence. As I was compiling this video, it occurred to me that while Ethiopia's streets have no names, those who dwell in the streets are also in many ways "nameless." They are what many would consider to be "the least of these." And yet God knows each of their names and each of them is vitally important to God. What a broken world we live in. My heart is broken by the glimpses of true poverty that I have seen. God's heart must weep under the weight of the ability to see all of the poor and needy ones all at the same time. How He loves them...what will we do to show them that love? What will my little family do to make a difference? One step at a time...one life at a time...never forgetting those who feel that they have no name.
Anybody who would like to send a bag with your picture for us to take to Ethiopia can contact me via email at: email@example.com
Friday, December 01, 2006
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Next, my ticker now says 14 months! How can this be???? And I still have absolutely no idea when our agency might get their lisence renewed. I've given up all hopes of having Yosef and Mihret with us this Christmas and am now just praying that the agency will have received a lisence by Christmas. As much as my heart is broken for myself, it's also so broken for my kids. They've now lived in an orphanage for 18 months, which will obviously have an affect on them and how they develop emotionally, not to mention physically. But all I can do is trust God to hold them in the palm of His hand. I'm completely helpless to help my children. My job is to love them and to point them to Jesus so that they'll know where to go to get their broken hearts healed. But they need to get here first!
We were fingerprinted earlier this week, so at least that's taken care of. We had to drive 4 1/2 hours one way. Once we got there, we waited for 3 hours. Then had a 4 1/2 hour drive home! Let's just say that we're still exhausted! But it was a really nice day too though. It was nice to have so much time just to talk with Avery about something other than our miserably depressing adoption saga! We also got to see one of Avery's cousins who attends college just down the road from the fingerprinting facility. It was a good day.
We will be picking up our van within the next day or two! It's a 95 Dodge Grand Caravan SE with 192,000 miles, but it's free! And they just did $900 worth of work, so hopefully it will last us until we can replace it with something better. This is God's provision for us though, so I'm not so worried about it. Now, we can take the money we've been saving up for a van and use it to replace the roof on our house! We're going to wait until we have a courtdate though because the fostercare for our kids is pretty expensive and we don't want to spend our van/roof money if we're going to end up needing it. Also, we need to keep it set aside in case we end up having to redo our CIS approval for the adoption as well. That doesn't expire until May, but at this point, who knows?!?!?!
So, I've been doing pretty good with staying so busy that I can't have time to be sad about our adoption. Until last night when I was in the car with Kaitlyn and she wanted to hear some Christmas music. So I turned on the radio just in time to hear Steven Curtis Chapman singing "Al I want for Christmas is a family". That was it. I started to cry. It is a really cool song though, so please do check it out. The Chapmans are very near to our hearts anyway because the Shaohannah's Hope Grant we received was just enough to finish paying for our adoption. And it was very timely.
Okay. That's my random thoughts for the day. Oh yea, I also wanted to write that I am truly overwhelmed by the prayers that are being prayed for our family. I can feel them in my heart. People were praying for us before we even realized our adoption was going to have so many problems. That's amazing to me. Prayers were being offered up for this very thing before we even had any idea that we needed to be praying along these lines. God is hearing your prayers and holding us in His hand during this very sad holiday season. He's making it not so sad. He's helping me to find comfort in the two amazing kids I already have. Please continue to pray for Yosef and Mihret so that they will maybe be with us for next Christmas. Maybe for Mihret's birthday on January 15. Maybe before Yosef turns 10 in May. Soon...
Monday, November 27, 2006
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Because I know I'm not the only emaye (mommy) out there who knows nothing about sourdough starters, I'm going to explain this really simply. So if you already know about sourdough, don't feel insulted! Lots of us are clueless!
YOU WILL NEED LOTS OF PATIENCE TO MAKE THIS WORK!!!!!
What You Will Need:
One 1-gallon plastic, ceramic, or glass container with a lid
flour (white unbleached works great. Others are fine)
Wash everything that will come into contact with the starter so that you don't have any little unwanted bacteria trying to get in and mess up your starter!
4 cups lukewarm water, 78 degrees- Water that's too hot will kill your starter.
3 3/4 cups flour
You can mix using a spatula or your hands. I recommend using your hands so that you can get to "know" your starter. This will make sense to you much later after you've experimented a lot.
The point of the starter is for the natural yeasts and bacteria in the air to form a sybiotic relationship with each other in the starter, thus keeping it alive. In order to give your starter a little help, you can use 1 pound pesticide free red or black grapes, a couple of potatoes cut up into smaller pieces, or a couple of fresh peaches. You tie the fruit or potatoes up into a cheese cloth and put the cheesecloth into the starter. If it's a juicy fruit, squeeze the cheese cloth to release the juices into the starter. When I made my starter a few months ago, I used cut up potatoes. This is supposedly not necesary, but I don't know. I figured I needed all the help I could get!
Let your starter sit on your counter covered with a lid.
Do nothing. Keep starter on counter covered with lid.
Do nothing. Keep starter on counter covered with lid.
Some bubbles may have started to form in the starter. This is good. If it's really frothy, this is good too. The cheese cloth may have inflated with gas and floated to the top. This is good. If you smell it, it should smell "yeasty" like fresh baking bread. This is good. If it looks gross, this is good too. If it's moldy, this is NOT good. Remove the mold as soon as you see it using a spoon. As long as you remove the mold, this is good!
Add 1 cup flour and 1 cup warm water.
Mix with your hands. Cover with lid and keep it on the counter.
You can technically make injera at this point, but it's not as easy or as tasty as if will be if you wait a little longer.
The starter will start to smell like alcohol soon. This is good.
Do nothing. Let it sit on the counter. If you see mold, remove it right away. Then, only if there was mold, you can add 1 cup warm water and 1 cup flour. Stir.
Unless there was mold, you don't need to stir the starter. Just leave it alone. At some point, the alcohol smell will be replaced by a nice yeasty smell again. This is good.
You will begin your starter's regular feedings on Day 10. Remove cheese cloth and throw away. Stir your starter very well. Set aside 2 cups of the starter. Throw the rest away. Put the starter back into your 1 gallon container. But clean the container first. For the best injera results, feed your starter 3 times a day. Feeding this often makes it so that you have lots of ain ("eyes" - this is what Ethiopians call the bubbles in the injera).
1 cup warm water
1 1/4 cups flour
Stir thoroughly with hands. Put lid back on.
I try to space out my three feedings. Ideally, it would be fed every 8 hours. But you have to sleep at some point! I feed my injera first thing in the morning, again in the early afternoon, and again right before I go to bed. Space the three feedings out the best you can given your daily schedule.
For feeding #2, add:
2 cups water
2 1/2 cups flour
By the time I need to do feeding #3, I usually throw away all but 2 cups of the starter and start all over again with the feeding amounts. In other words, for each feeding, you double the amount of flour and water that you used the previous time. But, as you'll soon figure out, doing this will create A LOT of starter! So, once you throw away all but two cups, you'll start again with adding 1 cup water and 1 1/4 cups flour.
Days 11, 12, 13, 14, 15
Continue with the 3 times a day feeding schedule. By Day 15, the starter might be ready for injera. Mine was not. Mine took almost three weeks before it was ready to make nice injera. The way you know it's ready is to try it. If it makes injera with lots of bubbles, it's ready. If not, keep feeding it a few more days and try again.
Day 15 And Beyond
As long as your starter isn't in the refrigerater, you need to feed it regularly. I have found that feeding it just once or twice a day will keep it from dying. But any fewer than three feedings each day produces injera with not so many bubbles for me. Because the amount of wild yeast in your house is not the same as my house, each person's results will vary slightly. Temperature also has an affect on how quickly the starter develops. Once your starter is very strong and healthy you can put it in the refrigerater.
You should pull your starter out of the refrigerater, let it sit until it's room temperature, and give it 1-3 feedings about once a week. It is possible to get away with once a month, but you're risking letting it die if you wait so long. Mine is at the one month point right now. So, when I pull it out to feed it today, I sincerely hope it's not dead!
Converting Your Starter To A Teff Starter
Once your starter is very strong and consistently bubbly, you can then convert it to a teff starter in order to obtain the proper sour teff flavor of injera. This part is easy. You just feed it as detailed above. It only takes 2-3 feedings before the teff has become the dominant flavor in the injera.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Well, yesterday, layla teru and negar (something else good) happened for us! Our homestudy expires the first week of January, and while we had previously thought this wouldn't be a problem, we're now cutting it close even if we were to by some miracle get a courtdate this week or next. So, we finally bit the bullet and called our homestudy agency to find out what we would need to do in order to get our homestudy updated and therefore, keep it current. Initially, it was going to cost us nearly $1,000 by the time we paid for the services of the agency and all of the new documentation we would need to get. The woman on the phone was incredibly nice to me and explained why they have the policy and fees regarding the update. I truly did understand and let her know that I wasn't upset with her and that I would probably have the same policy in her shoes. She then indicated that she was under the assumption that we were needing an update for a second adoption. That's when I started to cry. I couldn't help it. I told her that we're still working on our first adoption. She must have had a lot of compassion on us in that moment because she said she'd talk to the finance department and call me back. In less than an hour, I got a phone call saying that given our situation, they would do our homestudy update for $350! We will only need to get physicals and criminal checks from our county.
God is very faithful. When we finally resigned ourselves to the fact that we needed to get our homestudy updated, we also knew that God, knowing the timeframe we would be on from the beginning, would provide the money to pay for it. Instead of giving us the money, He gave us a homestudy agency that would have compassion for us. Faithful. Always faithful.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
First, DON'T NAG!!!!!
Second, DON'T NAG!!!!
Third, DON'T NAG!!!!!!!!!
Fourth, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY
There. That's my two cents.
Seriously, I'll share a bit of our backstory with my readers today. I don't remember a time that I didn't want to adopt kids from the third world. I don't remember a time when I didn't want to be a mother. (Well, that's not entirely true. When I spent 20 hours non-stop picking lice eggs out of Kaitlyn's hair recently, I stopped wanting to be a mother around 4:00AM as she slept on my lap and I was still picking them out!! After a few hours of sleep, I wanted to be a mom again after that! :) )
I really wanted to adopt right after Kaitlyn was born. For several reasons, we did not persue adoption at that time, but one of the reasons is because while Avery supported the idea, he wasn't quite there yet as far as the two of us actually adopting. I could be wrong, but I think that one of his biggest reasons was the enormous cost. He just wouldn't consider it and always told me "no" when I brought it up.
So, I just accepted that if this was really something that God wanted for our family that He would speak to Avery's heart about the issue too. Honestly, has nagging ever gotten a wife anywhere. Well, alright, sometimes husbands do what the wife wants just so she'll stop nagging. But his heart isn't in it. And you definitely don't want to adopt a kid just to shut the wife up! Both hearts need to be 110% in it for the long haul! So, I resisted the urge to bring it up every week. Every so often, when I was really feeling the desire to adopt, I would ask him where he was on the issue. And when he wasn't there yet, I accepted that and let it drop for the time being. In December 2004 I started to feel very burdened for the child(ren) that would someday be mine. I felt like God was speaking to my heart that their mother had died and that I really needed to start praying for them in a new way. As crazy as I felt, I figured that it certainly couldn't hurt anything to pray along these lines. So, that's what I did.
In March 2005, I went to a Rita Springer conference. There, I saw Rita Springer speaking to a group of women, toting her very dark brown 3-month-old newly adopted son, Justice. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. The conference wasn't about adoption. She discussed Justice's adoption regarding how it impacted her music. But her speech wasn't about his adoption. Yet, watching Rita Springer talk about "the colors of worship" while she, a white woman, toted around this little Zimbabwean baby who was so very much HERS, changed me. I had lunch with a friend that day. I didn't say a word about it to her, but she just looked at me and asked, "So, when are you going to adopt?" My response, "When God tells Avery it's time, I'm already there."
I went home that day, told Avery yet again that I wanted to adopt a baby, and to my surprise, he said, "Yes." But it was conditional. He said that we could adopt, but we absolutely couldn't afford to go into debt for it. Now, we had just spent almost our entire tax return on paying off our car. There was less than $1,000 in our savings account. I am a stay-at-home mom. Avery is a good provider for our family. But we sure didn't have any conceivable means of affording an adoption on our own. Yet, I thought that if God was really in this, God would show us how to come up with the money. More on that in a future post.
Much later, Avery did tell me that he had really started to feel the pull to adopt around Dec. of 2004- the same time at which I felt that God was prompting me that the kids' mother had died. Their mother, Denkenesh (You are wonderful) had died in Sept 2004 and in Dec. 2004, our adoption agency was busy taking their first video of Yosef and Mihret in the hopes of finding them a family. But, afraid of the cost, he thought he'd wait for me to bring it up.
Now, wives, I certainly don't want to mislead you into thinking that Avery was instantly 100% on board. Now, he's 200% on board. But it was a process. In the beginning stages of our adoption, I was the one who did the research on agencies. I was the one who gathered the documents for our dossier. Five months later, in July 2005, we submitted our completed dossier to our agency. We spent the next several months raising money. As we went to various churches to make our presentation about the need for Christians to care for the orphans of the world, Avery began to do research for his part of the presentation. I doing reserach, his heart began to really break for these kids.
Now, we had wanted to adopt one girl under the age of five. Secretly, I also wanted to adopt a son, but we still hadn't come close to raising the money we need for just one kid. Much less two. Not to mention the fact that we would need a larger vehicle if we adopted two kids. So, I again figured that if God wanted us to do it that He would have to be the one to tell Avery. Lucas had been asking for a brother for a year at this point, and we just kept telling him to ask God for a brother. (Really our way of telling him no!). I'll never forget the night that I heard Avery upstairs praying for Lucas as he tucked him in. As always, Lucas asked Avery for a brother, insisting that his Ethiopian sister also had a brother whose parents had died. To my surprise, Avery said, "Okay, you can have a brother too." WHAT???????!!!!!!!!!
So, in Sept. 2005 we received our referral for Mihret and Yosef. One look at their pictures, and Avery's heart was 100% captured. These were our kids!
Oh yea, God has also provided 100% of the money we needed for BOTH kids. Not to mention Avery's trip to visit the kids this past July.
So, ladies, please don't be discouraged if hubby isn't on board just yet. Don't give up. Truthfully, he might never be on the same page. And that's okay because God's responsible for telling hubby what to do anyway. God understands your desire to adopt, as He's the One who gave you that desire! So, instead of nagging hubby about your desire, talk to God about it. Ask God why hubby isn't on the same page. Is there something else that God wants you to do with this desire? Is it just not the right time yet? Talk to God. And then, listen to what He wants to say back to you. Keep an open dialogue with hubby. Try to understand the reasons behind his, "no." And don't feel crazy to start praying for the kids that you don't know if you'll ever even adopt! Crazy or not, they need people to be praying for them. And to those of you who have sent me emails, know that I've taken time to pray for you as I've read your emails and continue to pray for you as you come to mind. I hope to oneday soon read many new emails and blogs from families starting this process.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Anyway, as I was watching these videos, I was reminded once again of the amazing women who take care of them for me. Asaddagi enatochun must be women of steel! To take care of that many kids day in and day out and never appear frazzled! I'm amazed! I can tell by the way they always have a kid hanging on them, yet never seem irritated by it, that they are very special people indeed. As I watched the video, I wondered if they even realized how special they are. It means so much to me to know that my kids are being cared for by these women in my absence. Mind you, I firmly believe that there is nobody on the face of this planet who can love them and care for them like Avery and I, nobody who wants to see them come to our family as much as us, (well, I do have a few people in my life who might be almost as upset about the delays as us- but only almost!) but while we wait, I'm so thankful that asaddagi enatochun are there for my Yosef and Mihret. Good news coming soon...
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Christa Leis and Bruce Ellis
Even though I can't see the sun through these clouds
I know it still shines
Even though I can't feel Your love through this pain
I know You're alive
Even though I can't see the way up ahead
I know that You lead
Even though I can't feel Your presence now
I know I believe
Even though I can't understand why this storm still blows
Even though I can't hear Your voice...
I love Your rain
Matthew 16 (The Message Bible)
"...Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how..."I definitely feel as though I've been sitting out a storm for a long time now. We started this journey in March 2005. It's been a while and I'm not one who is easily given over to patience! :) The very first time I flew in an airplane, we were riding high above the clouds and the sun was shining. But as we made our descent, the clouds got darker and darker. On the ground, the sun was nowhere to be found and it was raining cats and dogs. Yet because I had seen it first-hand, I knew that the sun was still shining. We just couldn't see it.
This song reminded me that though my heart breaks terribly right now for Yosef and Mihret, 10,000 miles away from my embrace, God is still here. More and more, I struggle to see the sun through this storm, but that doesn't negate the fact that it is still shining. My inability to see what God is doing doesn't negate the fact that He is doing much. And we're not called to run from suffering. We're called to embrace it. That's what He did for us. He embraced suffering so that we might realize His great love for us. How can I do any less for my children? How can I do any less for God? I don't always know how to embrace suffering, but I do believe that He's faithful and that's enough. I don't care for this storm. But I do love the rain.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
The word yesterday was "koy." Wait some more. But, at least it wasn't "no." The government official that our agency needed to see was not in the office yesterday. I believe the agency is going to try to see this official again today. The director of our agency is traveling today and tomorrow though, so it is not likely that we will get any news until Friday at the earliest.
After waiting for so long to bring Yosef and Mihret home, it's hard to not lose hope at times. These past two weeks, it's only been through spending lots of time with God that I've been able to maintain hope. And God has been happy to spend time with me too. He's not challenged by how quickly a human heart can lose hope. Rather, He is moved with compassion for us.
I grew up in Pennsylvania where the winters are very long and the snow seems to last forever. My favorite flower is the daphadill because even while the snow is still thick on the ground, their yellow heads appear to remind us that the winter won't last forever and that the joy of spring is coming. Hope. Daphadills represent hope to me.
Well, this past January of February, we were being told that our kids weren't getting a courtdate because they had come from an orphanage whose director was under investigation. (Haregowein for those who have read "There's No Me Without You"). We now know that our kids did not come from Haregowein's orphanage, but still, that was a pretty hopeless time in this adoption. We had just discovered that much of what we had believed to be true was not as it appeared. I wondered if my kids would ever come home. Then, I had a dream one night that I had taken Kaitlyn to school on a cold morning and when I came back home, I noticed that my daphadills had sprung up during the night. I thought, 'but it's too early for the daphadills to come up!' I believe that God is still in the business of speaking to people through dreams, through pictures He puts in our minds, by making our hearts just seem to know certain things, through other people, and however else He so desires. Well, when I woke up from that dream, I immediately knew in my heart that God had given me that dream in order to assure me that just as the daphadills spring up to give hope of what is to come, He wanted me to have hope that He would indeed bring my kids home to me. Well, wouldn't you know it- that morning when I came home from taking Kaitlyn to school, I noticed that my daphadills had sprung up in the night, a good month before it was time for this to have happened. My heart smiled, knowing that God was faithfully giving me added assurance that all hope was not lost. That there is hope in trusting Him.
This has been a very long year for our family. That dream seems like it happened a decade ago. I hadn't thought about it for a long time. Last week, our pastor said to me, "Heather, I hate to even tell you this because you're going to think I'm crazy. But when I was praying for you, God put a picture of a daphadill in my mind. I don't know what it means, but I didn't want to NOT share it just in case it's important." Well, I immediately knew that God was reminding me yet again through something very personal to me that He is faithful when the winter has been so long and we feel like the snow will never melt. He's challenging me to seek Him in the darkness before dawn. Sure, this is a dark time for us, but the darkness gives way to dawn every single day. It's been that way since the beginning of the world. He is faithful to a thousand generations. And He is faithful to THIS generation. He is faithful to my Yosef and Mihret. Because before they were mine, before they belonged to their mother, Denkenesh, they were HIS.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Seriously, going to this church is such a good taste of what it will be like for our little ones when they come to America. For two hours we're immersed in a culture that is not our own. We're the only ones who are "different." We're the only ones who don't laugh at the jokes. And we always have to look around to see what everybody else is doing first, just to make sure it's okay. The entire service is conducted in Amharic. Aside from a few Americanisms, there isn't a word of English spoken... Alright, that's not entirely true. When everybody turned around to look expectantly at our family and we did nothing, the pastor finally addressed us in English, asking us to stand up and say a few things about ourselves. I told them in Amharic about our family, where we are from, and our adoption. Evidently it was really impressive when the ferenj (what Ethiopians call foreigners, usually white people) spoke Amharic because they all clapped for me as though I had done something very wonderful! I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I felt pretty proud of myself! :)
Today is the day that our agency was supposed to check back with the government to see if they had been issued a renewed liscence to operate in Ethiopia. I'm hoping that this is what happened today and that we will quickly get our courtdate for Yosef and Mihret. The days since their first courtdate was delayed have felt very, very long to this mother's heart. And yet I can honestly say that God has still been faithful to me. In those first few days, I wondered if I'd come to the end of my energy reserve. And yet God has given me just a little bit more. He's giving me the grace to forgive the absolute lack of information that we've become accustomed to. He's put the fight back in my spirit. He's faithful.
Monday, November 06, 2006
In the spirit of U2, Delirious? confronts us with the horrendous state of the world in their song, "Our God Reigns." Listen to the entire song for free. It took about 1 1/2 hours to download on our dial-up connection at home. But it was worth every minute it took. It's a very startling wake-up call to those of us who name Jesus as our Savior.
Our God Reigns
40 million babies lost to Gods great orphanage,
It’s a modern day genocide and a modern day disgrace
If this is a human right then why aren’t we free?
The only freedom we have is in a man nailed to a tree.
100 million faces, staring at the sky,
Wondering if this HIV will ever pass us by.
The devil stole the rain and hope trickles down the plug,
But still my Chinese take away could pay for someone’s drugs.
Our God reigns, Our God reigns,
Forever your kingdom reigns.
The west has found a gun and it’s loaded with ‘unsure’
Nip and tuck if you have the bucks in a race to find a cure.
Psalm one hundred and thirty nine is the conscience to our selfish crime,
God didn’t screw up when he made you,
He’s a father who loves to parade you.
Yes he reigns, yes you reign, yes you reign,
For there is only one true God,
But we’ve lost the reins on this world,
Forgive us all, forgive us please,
As we fight for this broken world on our knees.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Amasegenalo (Thank you) to all who fasted and prayed for our kids yesterday. Our agency was told by the government to check back next Tuesday to see if the liscence had come through yet. The director for our agency is going to Ethiopia today and won't be back until next Thursday. So, we may not get any news until after she returns.
Also, Amasegenalo to my dear friend Rosa. There's nothing like a gift to cheer a weary, sad heart. Yesterday the mailman delivered a package to me containing green unroasted Ethiopian coffee beans, a container full of spices for making Chai (Ethiopian Tea) that look and smell out of this world, and a chart to hang up with all of the Amharic letters, numbers, and the American letters and numbers. For anybody who has never made bunna (Ethiopian coffee) by roasting your own beans, I highly recommend that you try this at least once. It will be the most delicious, rich cup of coffee you have ever tasted. It's so rich that there is a film of oil on the top of the coffee. The oil is good, as it makes the flavor so rich and smooth. And I don't even like coffee, yet this is my recommendation!
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Yesterday started out particularly bad. Like when you work in customer service and people you don't even know call you up and yell at you as though their problems with their new toaster are actually your fault! (All of my customer service readers know exactly what I'm talking about and a few of you "yellers" are also understanding!) I don't work in customer service...actually, being a mommy is a little like customer service...but my day yesterday sure did feel like it!
But, then I decided that though I can't control what others do and say, I can control my reaction. Not that harsh words don't hurt, but I decided that I didn't really want to have a bad day. So, I didn't. Instead, I took Lucas to the library dressed as Batman. I helped out at Kaitlyn's party at school. Then we had so much fun in the evening taking the kids trick or treating. My only regret is that today is the day we're fasting and I can't even sneak into their candy stash! :) I guess the peanutbutter cups will still be there tomorrow though!
Unfortunately, none of the pics of the kids in their costumes turned out, so I'm including some cute pics from our trip to the North Carolina Zoo this past Saturday. Now, that was fun! There was a huge wall with pictures of people from various African countries. The Ethiopian picture featured an entire family with all of their earthly possessions. We didn't see it right away and Lucas heard Avery and me trying to find one from Ethiopia. He pointed right at the picture and said, "those people are from "Efffiopia" Mommy." Not knowing how he'd picked the Ethiopians out of the 25+ pictures of Africans, I asked him. He replied, "I knew they were Efffiopians because there were so many black people in that picture!" ??????? I guess he didn't notice the dark dark dark brown Sudanese guy, or the Nigerians, or the Kenyans surrounding the Ethiopian picture! The kid keeps me laughing all the time.
How blessed I am that even on a really bad day like yesterday, I have this little comedian who likes nothing more than to entertain Mommy! It's hard to be sad for too long with Lucas around.
Kaitlyn with her friend who came to the zoo with us- Adorable!!!
Monday, October 30, 2006
First, thank you for showing us what it means to be overwhelmed by the love of God through people this past week. We received so many emails and phone calls that we were blown away by the amount of compassion shown by the people in our lives.
Well, last Thursday was a bad, bad, bad day for our family and for 10 other families with our agency as well. But, it's a new day and so we choose to keep on walking down this path that God has set before us, trusting in His sovereignty. The problem is that our agency's liscence to operate in Ethiopia has expired and though they have submitted all of the requested documents to the Ethiopian government for the renewal of their liscence, the renewal has just not come throuh yet. Evidently, many agencies have submitted their paperwork recently, which has created much for the government to sort through. Until our agency's liscence is renewed, the judge will not hear our case. Tigist, the woman handling our adoption in Ethiopia, was told to check back with the government later this coming week. Additionally, a portion of our US immigration paperwork is set to expire soon and given this recent delay, we will need to get it renewed. Normally, this process takes three months, but we are asking for God's favor that it be expedited as not to cause even more undue delay in bringing Yosef and Mihret home.
After we recovered from the inital blow of our adoption being put on hold last week, we both still firmly believe that this is a spiritual battle that we must fight with spiritual weapons. We are asking all who would like to, to join us to pray and fast this Wednesday. Just as the Israelites prayed and fasted before Queen Esther approached the King, we believe that Tigist needs us to pray and fast for her before she returns to the government officials on Thursday or Friday.
We are praying 1) that God grant Tigist favor, 2) for the quick renewal of our agency's liscence, 3) that we quickly be reassigned a courtdate, 4) and that our family's paperwork that is expiring will be expidited through our state immigration office.
To all who have sought God on behalf of these children, our heartfelt gratitude doesn't begin to explain how thankful we are that you have labored alongside us for our children.
With Grateful Hearts,
Avery and Heather
Saturday, October 28, 2006
I have been so touched by the overwhelming support and love that has been shown to our family since our case was "put on hold" last week. To all of you who have prayed for us, thank you. We have felt your prayers. As difficult as it was to hear of yet another delay in bringing our babies home, God's love for us was very near.
And yet our hearts are still so broken. My babies are 10,000 miles away from me tonight. This needs to be changed soon.
The woman in Ethiopia who handles adoptions for our agency is supposed to check back late next week to see if their liscence renewal has been approved. I am inviting anyone and everyone to join us on Wednesday to fast and pray for her. Her name is Tigist. We're asking that God grant her favor and that when she checks back, she will receive good news. Our agency needs to receive their liscence renewal in order for my kids to come home, so that's what we're praying for. To all who join us in this fast, we are so very grateful. What you do for a child, you do a million times over for the child's mother.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Our courtdate did not go through today. It seems that our agency is having some problem in getting their liscence renewed in Ethiopia. We are "on hold" as our agency put it. I don't know how long this means...
There just aren't words...our hearts are so broken tonight...
Good news coming soon we hope. Thank you all for your prayers and support.
Monday, October 23, 2006
What does one do during the last days of pregnancy? Well, you decorate the nursery and make it looks oh so perfect for when the baby comes home, right? I think that Yosef and Mihret might not like it if I decorated a nursery for them, but I think they are going to love their new rooms that they'll share with Kaitlyn and Lucas! My mother-in-law sent Lucas and Yosef an early Christmas present in the mail today. It was the coolest glow-in-the-dark outerspace sheets (both summer and flannel!), comforters, and a bedskirt! She had already given Kaitlyn and Mihret matching Disney princess flannel sheets and quilts.
I had so much fun getting their beds all ready today. It was even more fun than decorating a nursery, as these kids are going to notice the decor, unlike a baby! I can't say for sure that they'll like it or appreciate it, but they'll definitely notice! :)
Kaitlyn, my aspiring artist colored the signs for on their bedroom doors last year. Lucas has been sleeping in Yosef's bed for several months now. He says he's keeping it warm for his brother until he gets here. He was quite upset with me when I made the rule today that he would have to start sleeping in his own bed so that Yosef's bed would stay ready for him to come home. I wish I could get inside his 4-year-old mind and understand his logic sometimes!
To my wonderful mother-in-law, THANK YOU!!!!! Not only for these wonderful beds, but for all the fun I had today in preparing for this soon-to-be homecoming! I cannot wait until I can tuck all four of my blessings, burakaewochae, into their little beds. Soon...
Friday, October 20, 2006
So, to keep busy, I got my injera starter out of the fridge and successfully revived it this week. My injera is near perfect in appearance and quite good in taste. My only problem is that if it sits around for more than half a day, it gets dried out. It doesn't seem to matter whether I cover it or not. And if I refrigerate it, I might as well forget it. Also, it's darker than what I've purchased commercially. Any thoughts on this?
We invited some people over for Ethiopian food last night and their 4 year old spent the night. When I tucked her into bed, I asked her if she liked the Ethiopian food. She wrinkled up her little nose and said very definitively, "NO!" I asked her why not and she said, "Because it's from China!" At least she gave me a good laugh! Kaitlyn on the other hand has decided that injera is her favorite food now and that she loves Ethiopian food, which I don't think is really true, but hey- whatever floats her boat is fine with me.
I've decided that my life has become completely unstructured. My problem is some sort of adult ADD. It's where adults start one task, get distracted by another, then another, then another, and eventually realize that nothing ever actually got finished, yet work was done the entire day and there's nothing to show for it at bed time. Sound familiar to anybody?! So, I'm going to begin putting some boundaries around how I spend my time. Avery said it's all about prioritizing! :) So, because the boundary I have established for my blog is that I need to finish by 8:30 this morning, I'm signing off with one final plea to anybody who is willing to take 30 seconds out of their day, PLEASE pray that Yosef and Mihret's courtdate goes smoothly next Thursday!
Monday, October 16, 2006
This means that we need for our courtdate to go smoothly. So, if you're the praying type, I really hope you'll remember to pray that this goes smoothly. Most of the rest of this adoption has been a terribly bumpy ride, but I think that this would be a great time for the road to even out a little bit! What can I say? God is ALWAYS good!
Friday, October 13, 2006
So, baring any further delays, in less than 2 weeks, Yosef and Mihret will be MINE!!!! We have been waiting for this courtdate for over a year now. And what a difficult, wild year it's been! I've probably cried enough tears this year to fill a small lake. And yet, not one of those tears has fallen without God's notice. I think that as my heart has been filled with anguish over my children, His heart has been filled with anguish for me, His daughter. Yet, in the darkest moments, when I honestly thought I couldn't keep fighting, God always gave me just a little bit more fight in my spirit so that I could continue on. He has given me so many "cheerleaders" who have listened to me, cried with me, and loved me throughout this process. He is so good. And so faithful.
Yet my heart is also broken today, as there are a few kids who have been "stuck" for a very long time, just like my Yosef and Mihret, but their names were not listed as having received courtdates. Please, as you read, just take 30 seconds to pray for Kelem, Bethlehem, and Adonai.
Well, I thought our paperwork expired in January. Guess what?! I got it out last night to double check it and discovered that it expires at the end of November! I'm glad I didn't know about that, as it would have just been one more thing to keep me stressed! However, that puts us in a real time crunch. We can either pay $700 that we don't have, drive 4 hours one way to get our fingerprints done for the FBI, then wait several months for the results. OR, we can make sure we get those kids home before our paperwork expires! We're opting for choice #2 (DUH!!!!). So, that means that EVERYTHING else in this process needs to go smoothly for a change with no further delays!
Yet, as my dear friend Rosa reminded me in an email this morning, God has been so faithful thus far, and I have no reason to believe He would leave us stranded right here at the very end. Indeed, God is faithful to a thousand generations.
AND, this "nesting" instinct has finally kicked in good and hard, and I have miraculously been motivated to paint my upstairs bathroom! I've had the paint for months, but couldn't bring myself to apply it! But, low and behold, it's going on today! :)
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Lucas with my best friend's 3 month old baby. Don't you love the expression?! After I temporarily babysat this baby for about a month, Lucas has decided that he wants a baby. I didn't make the mistake of telling him to "pray for a baby" because I know how God honors the prayers of children and I really don't think I want another baby! I loved snuggling with this baby, but they tire me out too much...Yea, like adding a 5 year old and a 9 year old to our family won't tire me out, huh?! I have to admit though, it does look pretty natural to see Lucas with this little baby...let's just say that it would take a miracle to convince Avery...maybe I should start a blog petition to get Avery to agree to adopting a baby...maybe a cute little baby from the US fostercare system...OKAY SELF!!!! SNAP OUT OF IT!!!!! :)
This is Lucas' latest bathtub trick. The scary thing is that sometimes he does it without holding his nose, so I'll come into the bathroom to check on him and he's just lying on the bottom of the tub with his entire face submerged in water and sometimes his eyes are wide open! Needless to say, I stay right by the bathroom these days when he's taking a "play bath" as he calls it!
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Thursday, October 05, 2006
On Saturday morning, Kaitlyn came to me an announced that she is old enough to ride a two-wheeler without training wheels now. Well, what can a mother say to such determination?! So, I assurred her that indeed, she is old enough and I took the risk of telling her that "today will be the day you learn to ride your bike." Sure enough, after just a little bit of trying, she was sailing along all by herself! She was so proud of herself too! Now, I do have to mention that we took her around the block on her bike and she was going so fast that she couldn't make a turn. She ended up hitting a car parked on the street and flying off her bike where she landed in the grass. Thank God for helmets! And for good rear bumpers too!
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
Take notice of my new ticker at the top of my blog. Somehow, in a very troubled psychological way perhaps, I achieve a sense of satisfaction in seeing each day of this wait counted away by my ticker. Perhaps it's because it validates what has felt like an eternity by adding a day to my ticker each midnight. Well, when we hit the 12 month mark, my ticker ceased to count the days. Rather, it will count the weeks from here on out. But, I need to be validated each and every day! So, I've added a ticker to count the days since the ferd bet reopened. I am hoping that this ticker will only count one or two weeks away. Then, I can make a ticker that counts down the days until I leave to go to Ethiopia to bring my beautiful burak (blessings) home to our family at last!
Saturday, September 30, 2006
It's brought a much deeper awareness of my ability to make a difference. It's brought a much deeper revelation of my responsibility to make a difference. It's brought an awe of God's love for people that I've not previously experienced...A passion that has always been in my heart has been ignited...no, it was already ignited...the fire has been doused with gasoline and pumped full of oxygen...
Let me begin by saying that I hate fundraising with a passion. After only 3 days of school, Kaitlyn brought home a catalogue full of overpriced chocolates in cutsie little tins that she is expected to sell to all of the important people in her life. She's only 6!!! I think she's too young to be an aspiring saleswoman! So, I reiterate: I hate fundraising with a passion!
When we started our adoption, we knew we couldn't afford it or even hope to come close. We knew we couldn't take out a loan, as we wouldn't be able to afford to pay it back! So, we had to turn to our community for help. We sent out hundreds of support letters asking for people to sponsor our adoption. We sold half of what was in our house and convinced others to contribute to a huge yardsale. We sold pins and patches at biker events. The youth in our church had a car wash. One of our close friends, a French teacher, had his French Club raise money for our adoption. We were awarded grants. We went to area churches and gave a presentation about our adoption and how it reflects God's heart for people. We became professional fundraisers! And as much as I hate fundraising, looking back, I wouldn't have done it any other way. Because of the fact that we were financially unable, the door was opened for many others to come along with us on this amazing journey. Because of our need, we talked to so many people about adoption. As much as we need and appreciate all of the money we received, the most rewarding part is when other people have started to understand that as much as we love our Ethiopian children and have been willing to fight hard for them, God loves them so much more. Our adoption is such a tangible image of God's love and His willingness to give up everything and fight for us, His children.
So, what does this have to do with 30 Days of Nothing? Well, I was willing to do a fundraising campaign for our adoption, afterall, these are my children! But, I certainly don't want to have to do it again because I still hate fundraising with a passion! But, during this 30 Days, the question for me has become, "What are my primary passions? What are the things that make my heart skip a beat to the point that I am willing to do something I hate in order to achieve my greater passion?"
The answer is Konjo Kids. Right now, Konjo Kids is just a pipe-dream that is beginning to take on some form in our hearts. But, it's going to require lots of money, which is probably the biggest reason for why I've been resistant to the idea. In fact, at the very beginning of our adoption, I was talking with a woman who runs an adoption grant organization in North Carolina. I told her that I really admire what she does but that I really just wanted to adopt my kids and return to life as normal, business as usual, and that I really hoped God didn't ask me to do anything further with adoption, as He had asked of her. She shared with me that she too felt that way during her adoption, yet now she and her husband are doing adoption grants! In that moment, I just knew deep inside that God was going to ask something more of our family. More than I really wanted to give. Because I like my life. It's pretty ordinary, which I really like. My life's never been very risky by my standards. But, I suppose there's something about adopting 2 kids that you don't even know that ignites a risk-taking streak inside of you anyway!
So, following this 30 Days of Nothing, I am in a place where I am taking ownership of my responsibility to make a difference. Adopting two kids out of 5 Million orphans that live in Ethiopia alone isn't enough. It's a start, but it's not enough. I can't save every child. But I can do more. I can't sit back and live in my American luxury anymore. I must make a difference. Not because I'm guilty, but because it's the right, human thing to do. I must make a difference because God is enabling my heart to love people the way He does. I'm seeing the impoverished the way He does. They are full of hope and promise. God wants them to have a hope and a future. But ordinary housewives, librarians, teachers, lawyers, computer techs, doctors, artists, maintenance men, postal workers, 1st graders, preschoolers, ALL need to be willing to be the hands and feet of Jesus to them. The invitation has already been extended to us by God to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, fight for justice for the oppressed. Our only responsibility is to respond and obey and do what the Father is doing. So, exactly one year after we decided to take the risk of accepting a referral for kids that we couldn't pay for, we once again have decided to take the risk of not returning to our "business as usual" lifestyle by committing to doing the stuff that God is passionate about for the people that He is crazy in love with. As Konjo Kids takes on some more definitive form and function, details will be posted.
Friday, September 29, 2006
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Also, tonight we will be taking money out of our 30 Days of Nothing jar and spending it at Cold Stone Creamery. Now, this might not seem like a very necessary purchase, and indeed, it is not. However, the icecream is actually free tonight! That's right- FREE. All you have to do is make a donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Cold Stone will share some icecream with you. Check it out on their website. We figured that we already have enough money saved up to buy a bicycle for a needy family in Kenya and what better thing than to spend the extra money on this organization that helps kids. And it doesn't hurt that we get to eat icecream too!
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Then, I read Rich's post over at No More Counting The Cost and thought that he was right on the money! My perspective on family size has drastically changed as a result of this adoption. I used to think I wanted a "large" family, which meant 5 or 6 kids. Then I had a couple and changed my mind. Not because I don't like them or anything like that. I am so in love with my kids that words can't describe it. It's just that I realized what a full-time job it is to have kids and how expensive they can be. During our adoption of our two Ethiopian kids, which started as adopting one Ethiopian kid, my perspective changed. There is such need. And we have so much room in our family for these kids. I somehow just know that there are more kids out there who in the future are going to find themselves as orphans and I believe that God has already chosen them for our family. Once you allow yourself to believe such a thing, your house feels somehow empty, as it is lacking those additional voices and footsteps on the stairs. I remember how incredibly empty my house felt on September 30, 2005 as I got into bed. I had just seen a picture of my Ethiopian babies for the first time and immediately knew that they were mine. I was committed to them. And as I snuggled into my blankets that night, there was a pervasive emptiness that literally filled the air in our house as though it were pregnant with the barrenness I have struggled with for an entire year now.
One of my favorite songs, written by Steve Taylor who recently adopted an HIV+ Ugandan girl, says "Float her basket over the sea, here on a barren shore, we'll be waiting for..." I understand exactly what the song is saying, as my heart has labored under that barrenness for many months now. Here in America, the "promised land" of the world, I wait with my wonderful husband, beautiful children, financial stability. I have it all. Yet I have never felt so barren. This barrenness will not subside until my Ethiopian babies are tucked into their beds here in America. What an amazing adventure! Three cheers for children coming home soon, for large and small families, for the courts reopening, for this barrenness that has changed my heart in ways I can't even describe.