Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? -Matthew 6:26

As we walk through this adventure called life, we remind ourselves that we are all precious children of our Father-- those of us who have walked a little further down the road striving to guide those who have been entrusted to our care for a time. Here is our journey down this path.



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

What about infinity TIMES infinity?

You know that commercial?  The AT&T one with the guy asking kids questions.  What's big? Really big.  Infinity plus infinity. What about infinity TIMES infinity?  Then the guy acts like his head is exploding.....

That's how we feel today.  How is it possible that we have a TEENAGER????!!?!?!?  --Insert exploding head impression--  As of 5:10pm today, Dec 24, Thomas is officially -gulp- 13.

But what a great 13 year old he is.  The annual breakfast in bed--actually in our room as he had woken up early, acting like he's a true teen...

 Needing a little help with the finger count.
 Awesome gift from Grandmommy.  I see lots of tricks in our future. :)
We had a pretty low key day with him hanging with friends and playing football, learning magic, and just hanging out.  As is also happens to be Christmas Eve (poor guy....it's tough every year, right, Aunt Cathy?  Most years we have managed a party, but this year was a bit hectic...) we went to the beautiful candlelight service and then out for his choice to eat....a steak at Outback. 
We then went driving around looking at Christmas lights, came home and decorated a few gingerbread houses.
 Then, once our dinner had settled had a little birthday cookie.  Decor thanks to little sis Cynthia. :)




I heard Jeff tell him this morning that he wasn't allowed to grow horns. :) I know the teen years can sometimes be tough, but I certainly don't see any budding horns at this point.  What a great kid.  This child that made me a mommy is such a delight.  Thomas, you are my heart.  You are growing into such a caring, enthusiastic, fun, responsible, young man...even if you leave your shoes in the living room.  Every day.  It is such a joy to watch you grow.

I pray you 'continue to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with man'. -1 Samuel 2:26

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ballerina

Second ballet party....these girls have learned a lot this year.  They did a little 'snowflake' dance for us.  So fun to watch our graceful girl.













Update photos

For months now, we have been getting 2 pictures per week of our sweet boy.  But, as he wasn't 'ours' we were not able to share them.  Well, this week--these came.  They were taken the day after we left.  Having spent time with him, I think we can now look at the pictures and know what he is thinking....


"Hey!  Where are those 2 big people I have been hanging out with the last few days?  Where did they go?"


"What?!?!?  I get to go live with them soon???  Really??"


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Little ballerina

Just too cute not to post.  Little Miss had her ballet party/Christmas dance today.  Precious.


Around town and RE-Entry.....

Well, we arrived back home on Thursday after a uneventful trip home. (2 flights, no delays, got to sleep--great trip back.)  It was great to see the kids again and we hit the ground running with school activities, Christmas prep, work, church, etc.  It's been a great, but exhausting re-entry.  (capped off with a broken dryer--great, but thankfully, AFTER the trip laundry was done!)
I wanted to post some pictures of our (very little) time around town in Addis Ababa.  In no particular order...

We ate lunch one day at this delightful restaurant called Lucy's.  

The food was delicious.  This is enjera (the bread rolled up) and Shiro.  Yummy!  I bought some berbere to bring home so I could try to make some authentic dishes.  That is the spice in most of their foods.  If anyone knows where I can get enjera, please let me know...don't think I will be able to make that!

 It was called Lucy's because it is right outside a museum that contains Lucy the 'first upright walking skeleton'...that was found in Ethiopia.  Interestingly, we had seen her just a few days before in Washington D.C. :)
This is Mancala--or as we used to call it 'The Rock Game".  We had one growing up and have played for a long time.  Fun to see an authentic one.

 The first car in Ethiopia--a Ford.  American influence is everywhere...for good or bad.
 This is Eshetu, our awesome driver/translator/menu helper and new friend.


And just some shots driving around town....some a bit blurry as they were taken from the car.





 This is the guest house where we stayed.  Very nice!

 View from the porch.
 A store up the street where I bought the berbere.


 (That was the whole store.)
View from our window....notice the church on the hill.  We could hear calls to prayer daily from there.
 Notice the satellite dishes?
 A woman selling her wares and weaving a basket across the street.
 The street outside the guest house....many vendors.



One evening, we went to have a traditional meal with entertainment.  The musicians and dancers worked their way through traditional dress/music/dancing from each region of Ethiopia.  Very interesting and entertaining.
 New sweet friends adopting a precious little girl and our driver for the evening.
 At the restaurant....the dome/cover comes off and the small circular table is where they place the enjera--a big circular piece of very thin bread.  Then they put your food on top and you pull off pieces of the bread, pick it up the food with it and eat it...no utensils.  Delicious.  We explained to Eshetu that we tried to teach our children it wasn't polite to eat with your hands...he thought that was pretty funny.
 Dancing....

We enjoyed the short glimpse of the culture we were able to experience, but we certainly hope we get a little more time on our next trip to explore.  We are anxiously awaiting word about that next trip, but know it will be a while.  Being patient is hard.  But at least we are distracted while we wait...there is plenty of activity around here.  It is interesting, though, when someone asks how many children we have....5! is the answer. :)  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Saying goodbye....for now

We had our last 2 visits on Wednesday.  Definitely making progress, but still seeing that he has a strong bond with the wonderful ladies taking care of him.  The tears were shorter at the beginning of each visit and he was easier to comfort when he got upset by seeing or hearing someone outside of the family room.  Seeing more and more of his fun, silly personality.



We were privileged to be able to take a tour of the foster home.  While we got to see all of the children, pictures were not allowed.  It was good to be able to see where our guy has been for this year of his life and it is really encouraging to see how much love and care there is for the children here.  These ladies are doing such a great job with the resources they have.  There were 4 rooms.  1 for infants, 1 for 1-2 year olds and then an 'older' boy room and and 'older' girl room.  Since he just turned 2, Dawit is in the 'older' boy's room, although he is one of the youngest ones there.  He did great walking around with us and didn't cry at all.  The older boys all got excited when he came in and it was evident that he liked them as well.  Here are the 2 pictures that were allowed inside....one in his bed.  We have gotten 2 update pictures per week for months and many were right here, but this time, we took it.  And afterward, he reached for me to pick him up.  :)
 This is on the wall over his bed.



We had some good play time outside Wednesday morning.


 Wednesday afternoon, we went back for our last visit.  Still tears at the beginning, but they were short lived this time.





More outside fun, but when one of the ladies walked by and played with him a second, he smiled and interacted then cried again when she walked away.  We were able to get him distracted again.
 Daddy ('Baba') got a chance to hold him, too.  Sweet boys.
 Daddy making raspberries, Dawit saying, 'Do it again.'




The visit through the home was great and it is, of course, sweet to see the babies and children, but so heartbreaking at the same time.  Each of those children has lost their family for one reason or another.  Some are about to go home with their forever family, some are still waiting, and some are in limbo due to incomplete paperwork or other issues with their cases. But, let me say--if you have EVER thought about adoption, please continue to pray about it!!  When you look at these children, it is really difficult to think of a reason you should say no.  Don't get me wrong, it is a calling, but if you feel you may be called DON'T ignore it.  Pray.  And then pray some more.  If you and your spouse don't see eye to eye, pray a lot.  God will bring your hearts to the same decision one way or the other.  But don't ignore it.  If you had the chance to see these precious children, you would travel around the world, too!  It reminds me of the same quote by David Platt I've posted before, but how true it is:

“We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.” -David Platt, Radical

Or, as my sweet husband put it as we were walking through, "This is dangerous."  

Although it was hard to leave after that last visit, we felt ok.  It seemed that we made a lot of progress, but that we were at a point that more visits may not have made things any better.  His (GOOD!) attachments to his nannies are strong and were seeming to prevent moving further with us.  We really feel like he will do well once he is with us on the next trip.  I'm sure there will still be some grieving and some stranger anxiety. (so if you see him don't take it personally if he screams!)  But we feel like when we return and take him away from the foster home, he will quickly adapt and bond with us.  We hope it will be quick and easy, but even if it isn't we trust the Lord will heal his little heart.  A good reminder that there is always loss in adoption and these sweet children have gone through so much.

While we wait, we pray for his heart, that he will remember us when we return with good memories, and that our return trip will be soon and in God's perfect timing.
I cannot express enough how encouraged we are by all of the texts, messages, emails, 'likes', and comments through this process.  We are so blessed to have you all.  And what an adventure this life is!!