Tuesday, March 29, 2011

all things ethiopia

So when you pour yourself into something, it's starts to become a part of you. This is true of Ethiopia. The further we get into the process and the more we learn about it, the more we love it. I KNOW that once we get our referral and then return from our first trip and second trip and bring that sweet baby home that our love will grow more and more with each step. Last week was a great week full of ALL THINGS ETHIOPIA.

I will start with yesterday though. I know you guys are tired of me saying that I cannot go into details on here, but I can't. All I can tell you is that the news we received yesterday from our agency left us jumping up and down and shouting for joy! I raised my hands in the air and thanked God for {quickly} answered prayers. He is so good and this is all His doing. No, we have not received a referral yet but all barriers that were keeping us from getting a referral have been knocked down with God's mighty hand. I feel like we are back in the game again! Almost all of that stress I talked about in my last post is GONE! God removed almost every single thing in the past week alone...He is so gracious and so loving toward me, and He truly does care about our situation.

We also had Ethiopian food on Saturday night with our friends Bill and Chrissy, to celebrate her birthday. And yes, it was for her birthday, I did not suggest we eat this, it was all her idea! We of course were all over it! We have had it once before but I did not get pictures...this time I remembered my camera. Ethiopian food is served on top of a spongy, pancake-like bread called injera. This is what the kids ate:

Clare, Elijah and Josiah enjoying their Ethiopian meal.

Elijah enjoying his injera - yum! This is my laid-back, try anything, travel anywhere, not picky kid and I love him for it! I think he loved everything he tried this night.

This is what Jason and I shared. That is an egg in the middle. We got a sample platter with beef, chicken and lamb I think. It was really good!!! You use the injera to pick up your food - no utensils here!

Judah on the other hand would not touch anything (my boys are SO different), so he ate applesauce, cereal bar and yogurt that I had brought just in case. Or because I knew that he would turn his nose up at the whole thing!

We had a great time. The lady that served us was from Ethiopia and she was so kind. I have heard that they are very kind people. She gave us extra vegetables for free and when we first walked in, she scooped Judah up in a high chair and pulled him over next to us without me even asking. Very sweet and thoughtful.

Last but not least (Heather, I stole this picture from your blog :-), this picture is from last Weds night when we had our Lifesong Orphan Ministry meeting. These sweet ladies are so special to me because they totally get where I am right now and what I'm feeling. That's because they are both adopting from Ethiopia as well. Heather has been waiting 5 1/2 months for a toddler boy and Julia is just about to go on the wait list. I'm so glad to have them and to be serving on this ministry with them.

When you step out in faith to do what God has commanded and called you to do, He will bless you along the way. These ladies are proof of that. Just what you need when you need it, that's what He will do for you. Have a blessed week!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

making an effort

To be thankful.

To be honest, I am completely stressed out a lot of the time. I've probably been a pretty lousy person to be around lately. Besides the adoption, other things are weighing on my heart, and it's all starting to take a toll on me physically. My blood work showed everything is perfectly normal; stress is just manifesting itself on my body I guess. I like to be in control, and things are just not working out the way I want them to right now (picture me with crossed arms and a frustrated look on my face). Releasing complete control to God is really hard to do. Even when I feel that I am walking in His will for my life right now, I still want things to happen MY way. Yeah, that's not how it works and sometimes that is a really hard lesson to learn. Maybe I'll be a more relaxed person in general after this is all over, because more than one thing this past year has taught me who to put my trust in. A quote from my devotional book from today:

"This is a time in your life when you must learn to let go: of loved ones, of possessions, of control. In order to let go of something that is precious to you, you need to rest in My presence, where you are complete...As you relax more and more, your grasping hand gradually opens up, releasing your prized possessions into My care. You can feel secure, even in the midst of cataclysmic changes, through awareness of My continual presence."

Amen. From your lips straight to my heart God. THIS is how I want to live. He loves my daughter so much more than I do and He has her in his loving care. I have a feeling that these experiences right now are preparing me to let go of more things, bigger things, in the future.

Anyways, I got off track. The point of this post was to be thankful. Here are two things that I am very thankful for right now.

1. One of the two major hurdles separating us from our daughter right now has been removed. Praise God for that quickly answered prayer. Please be in prayer that the last hurdle will be removed soon!

2. The new Lifesong Orphan Ministry at our church. We are so thrilled to be among the "founding fathers" for this new ministry. There are several wonderful people who were instrumental in getting the ball rolling. It will make it's debut on Servant Sunday in April to be among the ministries the church is collecting money for this spring. It will serve a few different purposes: partnering with Lifesong to help provide funds for members in our church who are adopting, providing money to orphans associated with our existing missionaries, raising awareness for orphan care/adoption in various ways like participating in Orphan Sunday this fall. Our first meeting was last night and we are PUMPED about it! Jason and I have been praying and thinking about this possibility since last summer - what a huge answer to prayer! It is not super easy to get a new ministry approved and started at our large church but God is a defender of the orphan and He showed up in a big way here! For more information on Lifesong and if you are interested in getting this started at your church, click on the button on the right side of my blog.

One last thing. Jason and I are not superheroes nor do I believe that anyone thinks we are. BUT what we do hear a lot is "this is such a wonderful thing that you are doing adopting this baby". We so appreciate the support, we just want to make sure everyone knows that we want God to get the glory for this, definitely not us. We aren't extra great Christians for being obedient to the Bible and trying our best to really follow Jesus. Not just listen to what He says, but truly FOLLOW him. That is just an average Christian thing to do in my opinion, and in fact Jason and I are pretty pathetic humans a lot of the time. We are blessed to be on this journey. It's true, God does bless you when you follow Him. It's not always easy. In fact you should expect it to be hard. And the blessings aren't always easy to see, but they are there. They just maybe aren't what WE'RE looking for...God has so much more for us than what we're looking for. I just pray that my eyes are open so I won't miss a single one along the way.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

green fun

Here is our St. Patrick's Day fun that we cooked up that evening:

Mmmmm, look at my green orange juice!
Looks nasty, right? :-)

Judah also made me a dirt birthday cake, complete with candles.

This is the cutest dirty face I've seen in a while!


We also, after Elijah got back from camp,
went to the Botanic Gardens with some friends

Well, that cleans off my camera for now!

Monday, March 21, 2011

while we wait


by Russell Kelfer

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate . . .
And the Master so gently said, "Wait."

"Wait? you say wait?" my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I'm claiming your Word.

"My future and all to which I relate
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?
I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign,
Or even a 'no' to which I can resign.

"You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply."

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate,
As my Master replied again, "Wait."
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
And grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting for what?"

He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine . . .
and He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.

"I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You'd have what you want, but you wouldn't know Me.
You'd not know the depth of my love for each saint.
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.

"You'd not learn to see through clouds of despair;
You'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there.
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence are all you can see.

"You'd never experience the fullness of love
When the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

"The glow of my comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

"You'd never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I'm doing in you.

"So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late

"You'd never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I'm doing in you."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

train ride

These are from a couple of weeks ago when we had a fun train ride and park day with Nana and Grangoat, followed by a yummy Jamaican dinner with Brad & Nova.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

ethiopian honey bread

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I'm not really sure why we celebrate it...all I know is that you wear green! So, go wear some green! :-) Today is now a very special day to me because one of my dearest friends, Misty, delivered her two little lucky charms this morning!!! Welcome baby boy Rhett Michael and baby girl Rhys Kate! I am so excited for Tim & Misty and can't wait to meet the babies...the pictures I saw of them are just precious. They are already decked out in Aggie gear - WHOOP!!!

The week's been a little nutty. Here is a break-down of our week:

-Elijah & Judah went to camp with my mom on Saturday.

-We picked up Judah from her in Waco on Monday (He had a blast). Elijah stayed.

-Elijah is coming home today (Yay, I miss him SO much! Although I think he would just live down at camp with my mom if we'd let him :-)

-My car was in the shop while they put in a new radiator. Woohoo. NOT.

-I was not feeling well, so I went to the doctor on Monday where they took a lot of blood work and told me I had insane amounts of fluid in my ears. So I'm on medication for that...still waiting on the blood work.

-I was randomly stung by a bee last night IN MY ROOM. Have not been stung by a bee/wasp in YEARS! It HURT really bad! I have no idea how it even got in there. Ouch, it still hurts this morning. I've been putting toothpaste and ice on it. Of course I didn't sleep good last night thinking there was a bee nest in my bed...lol.

-I have some cute pictures of the boys from a couple of weeks ago to post soon.

-There is no new adoption news. A lot of meetings have been going on this week so we are just praying for some good news soon. Every day I learn to trust God a little bit more with this, which might just be the point. :-)

-In the spirit of thinking about Ethiopia 24/7, Jason made Ethiopian honey bread last night, which I want to share with all of you. It turned out great and tastes really good, so go give it a try!

1 pkt active dry yeast
· 1 egg
· 4 -4½ cups all-purpose flour
· 1 cup lukewarm milk
· ½ cup honey
· ¼ cup lukewarm water
· 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
· 1 Tbsp ground coriander
· 1½ tsp salt
· ½ tsp ground cinnamon
· ¼ tsp ground cloves

To Make the Honey Bread
In a small, shallow bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the lukewarm water.

Let the mixture stand for 2-3 minutes and then stir to dissolve the yeast completely. Set the bowl in a warm, draft-free place for approximately 5 minutes or until the yeast bubbles up and the mixture almost doubles in volume.
Combine the egg, honey, coriander, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a deep bowl. Mix together with a wire whisk or spoon.
Add the yeast mixture, milk and 4 tablespoons of the melted butter. Beat until the ingredients are well blended.

Stir in the flour, ½ a cup at a time, using only as much as is necessary to make a dough that can be gathered into a soft ball.
When the dough becomes too stiff to stir easily, blend in the additional flour with your fingers.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough by folding it end to end, then pressing it down and pushing it forward several times with the heel of your hand.
Rub your hands with a little melted butter if the dough sticks to the board or your fingers, but do not use any extra flour lest the dough becomes stiff and hard.
Continue kneading for approximately 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a large, lightly buttered bowl. Drape a kitchen towel over the bowl and set in a warm, draft-free spot for approximately 1 hour or until the dough rises and doubles in bulk.

With a pastry brush, spread the remaining melted butter evenly over the bottom and sides of a 3-quart soufflé dish or other round 3-quart baking dish at least 3 inches deep.

Punch the dough down with a single blow of your fist, and then knead it again for 1-2 minutes.
Shape the dough roughly into a round and place it in the buttered baking dish, pressing it down into the corners so that it covers the bottom of the dish completely.

Return the dough to the warm, draft-free place for approximately 1 hour, or until it has doubled in bulk and risen at least as high as the top rim of the dish.

Pre-heat the oven to 300o F.

Bake the bread in the middle of the oven for 50-60 minutes, until the top is crusty and light golden brown.
Turn the honey bread out of the pan onto a cake rack to cool.

Serve while still somewhat warm or allow to cool completely.
Traditionally eaten spread with butter and honey.

Mmmmm, it was yummy! Give it a try. We may try to make Ethiopian injera next - it's kind of their staple bread but I've heard it's difficult to make. Guess we better learn!
I also want to share a quote that I recently stumbled across and I love it!
"Sometimes I'd like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine, and injustice in the world when He could do something about it...but I'm afraid God might ask me the same question."

Have a great weekend and pray about what the "something" is that you can do! I think/pray about this quite frequently. We are all going to be held accountable for "the least of these" one day.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

an interesting week

it has been a very interesting week.
everything has felt weird, a little off.
almost as weird as judah eating his lunch while in a box.
but that's just how this week has been.

mainly because of all of the breaking adoption news.
we are still waiting for confirmation of what is actually going on.
the bottom line is that we just don't know yet.
we have heard a lot of rumors and are choosing not to think
one way or another until we hear solid confirmation from our agency.
that could be as early as next week.
please join us in praying this weekend for the orphans of ethiopia.
because all we really want is what's best for them.
there is a big meeting taking place this weekend.
we are praying for this very meeting, that the decision made
will be in favor of the orphans who need forever families.
please join us in praying for this.

at school today, the kids were taught the message: TRUST GOD.
He keeps His word, He keeps His promises.
abraham waited 25 years for his son isaac.
i think i can learn a lot from him about waiting and God's timing.
there are a lot of lessons to be learned through this.
thank you for your prayers and your concern.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

waiting on Him

There is nothing new to report on the adoption front.

So many have been asking and praying and we SO appreciate that. Keep up the prayers...we (and all of the families waiting on children from Ethiopia) need them desperately. We have made some sweet adoption friends along this journey and they are experiencing the same emotions we are right now. So many are being affected by all of this. As I get more information on what's going on, I plunge deeper into my pit of self-pity and frustration. The news is discouraging to say the least. All of this is not what we are wanting to hear and experience right now when we are so close.

So we are praying and waiting on Him. God is not bound by time or circumstances and He is SO much bigger than all of this. Trusting in God is not just an abstract concept to me anymore, we are living in it and at times it is so sweet. Having absolutely no control over this situation and having to rely totally on Him, I think is sometimes right where God wants us. Actually, it's probably where He wants us all of the time. Control is just an illusion anyways...He is the only one in control. He knows every detail of what's going on with every single aspect of this situation and He's got this, He's totally got this.

But please keep praying with us...I believe prayer is going to make a huge difference.

In the meantime, some VERY exciting things going on at our church (can't wait to share), and have still been reading The Hole in Our Gospel and cannot recommend it enough! Get your hands on this book as fast as you can! The premise of the book is about what God expects of us as followers...helping the poor is a HUGE part of what He expects. And I'm realizing more and more that it is EXPECTED of us. It is part of being a follower of Jesus, it's not optional, it is part of the gospel...helping the poor and having compassion on the "least of these" was a gigantic part of what Jesus did while He was on earth. Therefore, if we are supposed to imitate Him and be like Him, that is exactly what we should be doing as well. All of this has been making itself clearer and clearer to me over the past few years. I'm realizing it needs to be a bigger part of my life than it is...praying about what that means for our family.

The boys are doing well...I realize I haven't updated about them in a while. Have some cute pictures from my in-laws to post soon when we had a fun train outing with them. Both of their birthdays are fast approaching, Spring Break is next week, Judah continues to enjoy preschool, Elijah is enjoying Boy Scouts and will start soccer soon and we are all enjoying the gradually warmer weather.

Anyways, more soon. Make a difference in the life of an orphan TODAY! I just added a button for Compassion over here --->
We have sponsored a little boy for several years - you can too! It is so easy!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

8 months

Today we have reached 8 months on the wait list.

I really can't believe it. We are in that window of time that I have had in my brain for the past year and a half. When we first went on the wait list it was an average 6-8 month wait, now it's more like 8-10 months. But either way, that magical number EIGHT is in both of those!

We need your prayers. This is getting really hard and really emotionally draining at times. We have received (private) information that basically boils down to DELAYS, DELAYS, DELAYS. Nothing pertaining to our particular adoption case, and I am not allowed to discuss any of it on here, but the result is the same - DELAYS, and it is affecting our adoption case as well. Several things need to come to a conclusion and be resolved before we can move forward. We are bummed, to say the least. We are frustrated and discouraged, not at anyone in particular, just at the situation. It feels like it will be 2015 before we bring our daughter home. (That is a gross exaggeration but my brain wants to be dramatic right now :-). Our agency has been wonderful and I know the Ethiopian government is working in the best interest of their children.

We are just so ready, this is the time, we are so close, WE ARE SO CLOSE and yet still seem so far away. There are so many hurdles between us and our baby girl right now. I have to just keep praying and knowing that God has got this figured out. He has already gone before us, He already knows who she is, He has had perfect plans for her from the beginning of time and for us too. Plans to give us hope and a future and not to harm us...keep repeating this over and over in your brain Summer. :-) Don't go crazy with impatience and anxiety. I know it is hard for those of you who have not been through the adoption process before to understand why this is so hard and to understand the emotions that we are going through. Just know that we are anticipating and looking forward to this baby just as much as we did our two boys. It is no different in that regard, it's just a different process to get there...and much longer I might add. In our hearts, we already have a daughter...we are ready to hold her, kiss her, rock her, tell her that we love her and bring her home. The same for our boys as well, especially Elijah. They are expecting a baby sister and are just as excited about it as we are...they are ready too.

Anyways, we really appreciate your prayers right now. That these hurdles would go away SOON, SOON, SOON and that God would continue to give us His peace and His patience and an understanding that this will all happen in His perfect timing, resulting in our being matched with the daughter that He has picked out for our family. We are definitely staying busy in the meantime plus as a result of some discussions as far back as last summer between Jason and I (and in forming new adoptive family friends), a wonderful ministry is in the works at our church that we are super excited about!!! Can't wait to share details about that soon! Please pray that the staff will get behind it with enthusiasm so that we will be able to proceed into something that we are all so passionate about!

Book recommendation...read The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns. I'm barely into it and WOW - thanks so much for this gift Julia!

Lastly, I have been following this family's blog for some time and they just brought their precious baby boy home. Enjoy this sweet, sweet homecoming video. I know that it will be our turn before we know it...in the meantime, I get so excited for other families when their turn comes.