Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's already next year in Addis Ababa.

I'm a weepy mess.

It's crazy.  I keep telling myself to pull it together.

I found out yesterday that the package we sent to our little girl was not able to be delivered.  The kind people who were taking it to her for us had the great misfortune to have several pieces of their luggage lost- as in really lost and not found while they were in Ethiopia.  Can you imagine?  It must have been very frustrating as one of the bags had all the mom's things in it and another was full of humanitarian aid items for the foster care center.  And much less important than any of those things, our little package was also inside one of those bags.

The things inside the bag are replaceable and Rebecca has already agreed to take another package for us when she goes to pick up her baby girl in 10 days.  (Thanks!)  But it was just such a huge bummer to me.  I had been picturing our girl with that little puppy and with pictures of us and someone sitting down with her to explain that these were her brothers and this was her mommy and daddy...  Okay, crying again.

Really, more than for her, the package was for US.  It was for us to feel a connection to her.  I mean, she's 2.  She might like the puppy, someone might put the clothes on her, she might flip through the photo book... but then she'll be off to play with her friends and do her 2 year old things.  The idea is really just for US to feel like she can hold in her hands something that we have held in ours until we can all be together and hold each other.

But no big deal, right???  She'll still have something from us in less than 2 weeks, so why all the fuss, Gayla???  Take it down a notch or two for Pete's sake!!!

But I just keep looking at her pictures- in particular the one where she is frowning at the camera and there are tiny tears starting to form in her eyes... and I read the referral report about her where it says she is "a very courageous girl" and I know that that really means that she is frightened and scared and unhappy, but doing a fair job managing it all.  And I just WEEP.

Okay.  Time to change my focus.  Tonight my husband and I are running a 5K at midnight ("Race Into the New Year"- I blame my friend Jill for getting me into this insanity) under a blue moon (2nd full moon in a month- very special!  especially on New Year's Eve!) and tomorrow we will start the year 2010- the year in which we will get to add a daughter and sister to our family.  We will hopefully get an update about her from our agency on Monday or Tuesday of next week, and hopefully be finding out about her court date within the next few weeks as well, and Rebecca will take our package and possibly even pics of our girl in a couple of weeks.  So... I need to focus on those positive things, right?  If my girl can be called "courageous" after all she has been through, surely I can hang in there too.

It's already past midnight in Addis Ababa.  My girl is sleeping her way into the new year.  Is it possible to miss someone you've never even met?  'Cause I think I do.

Welcome 2010.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"Baby Book"

Hey fellow adoptive fams... have you found a good version of a baby book for your adoptive child/children?  I've only found one and I wasn't crazy about it.  Of course I will scrapbook stuff for our girl, but I have an actual 'baby book' where I recorded stuff for each of my boys and was wondering about getting one for her.  Ideas?  Suggestions?

Monday, December 28, 2009

12 Months

Last year around this time found us praying about where we were to adopt from. I clearly remember the day in January 09 when we knew. For reasons that I don't really understand and cannot begin to explain, the day we knew we were to adopt from Ethiopia found me flat on my face in my dining room crying out to God. Literally. Laying on my hardwoods flat on my face. I just fell out of my chair and onto the floor and began weeping. I don't know what I was really going on, but it was like something in me was mourning- DEEPLY mourning. It was an ache. I truly don't have words for it. Nothing like that has ever happened to me before. Was I crying for Africa? Was I mourning for my daughter-to-be and all that she was going to lose in this year? Was I facing my own fears of transracial adoption and all it would entail? It was all of that and more. I may never know all that was going on in that moment, but it was deep and spiritual and powerful and real.

But that time on the floor crying out to God set the stage for this journey. We have been blessed beyond reason by people who have supported us and our adoption in so many ways- from donating money to holding garage sales to listening to me talk about it incessantly... It's truly been amazing - the support we have felt. Just incredible. I feel like so many people have literally held my hand through the whole thing. Even something as simple as moms on the playground after school just asking me about it and really being interested in my answers- that has meant so much to me.

From paperwork to wait list to referral... it's been an amazing 12 months. God has also used this time to create a deep and significant healing in me- one that I am so glad to have dealt with before we got news about our girl! His timing is amazing- such a gift.

And now here we are. We know her face. We know her name. We know a bit of her story. But I have to tell you... now that the initial fervor of excitement has worn off, it's just not enough. I need HER. My girl. Here. In my house. In my arms. I am completely crying as I am typing this because I just want to KNOW her! It's not enough to look at the same 7 pictures over and over... it's the strangest thing, but I long to hear her voice. What does she sound like when she talks? When she cries? What does she look like when she smiles? What makes her laugh? Is she ticklish? WHAT DOES HER LAUGH SOUND LIKE???

Okay, I seriously had to just take a break and get myself together. I've stopped crying. For the moment. But, this is hard. Sometimes I look at her referral snapshots and just melt. But honestly, other times I look at those same photos and just think "There is a little girl that I do not know" and feel nothing. My agency is due to give me an update on her soon- I'm thinking by the beginning of next week surely. I need an update. I need more information. I need to see more photos.

But mostly I just need my girl.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dreamgirl

I dreamed about her last night. It was fuzzy and short and just images seemingly randomly put together, but there she was... my little girl... in my foggy dream.

I dreamed that the wonderful family from Houston who is taking her a package was giving it to her and she was so animated! She was doing the cute little leg stomping dance that my boys would do at the age of 2 when they were really excited about something- you know, kinda like running in place. It wasn't necessarily our package she was so excited about... but she was happy. And that was fun to see.

And best of all...

...when she smiled she wrinkled her nose.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Other Stuff

Christmas time is the PERFECT time to get our referral. It has enhanced everything about this season of rejoicing for me.

We are sending a little care package to our girl via a family who gets to go get their child the week of Christmas! I'm not sure how much she is told/understands about her new family, but in the package I sent a little outfit, a photo book with labeled pictures of all of us, and I wanted to include a little snuggly toy for her. Here is a photo of the items:



Explanations: it has to be small so that it will all fit inside a gallon sized ziplock bag so as not to impose on the family that is taking and delivering it for us. And the clothes: not really so very excited about what I finally settled on to send her, but the cute fleecy things I bought would NOT fit in the ziplock, so I knew I had to keep the clothes small and simple. And in case you are wondering about long sleeves and long pants, Addis Ababa is in the mountains and the days average between the upper 60's and 70's, and at night it can get into the upper 40's. I have been f-f-f-freeeeeezing this week in Tulsa, so maybe that made me err on the side of being warm. The photo book is a little baby-ish looking but it is durable and sturdy and really, I doubt she will think it's baby-ish at all. And then the toy...

I did not love that little pink elephant thingy and it definitely IS baby-ish... but it was the only cuddly thing I could find that would fit inside the baggie. But en route to the Fed-Ex office I impulsively decided to swing by Kiddlestix to see if I could find a better snuggly for her. I looked at all the girly stuff- dolls, kittens, cutesy-cute things... but none of them seemed right. I almost got a kangaroo w/ a little joey in it's pouch, but then I saw this little guy:



And I knew it had to be hers!!! No, it's not girly or fluffy or pink, but it has such a sweet and comforting face... it was right. So I did the switcheroo in the car and now the package with this sweet little puppy is on it's way to the family who will deliver it to our little girl! I am hoping that they have the chance to snap a few photos of her opening everything. That would be awesome!

Now... on to other things.

We went to Garden Glow at the Philbook- which I totally love! The boys made ornaments that we sent to my brother in Iraq and other ornaments for the birds to eat.







Every year I have the boys paint a new ornament. Next year our girl will get to paint one too!






And yes, that is the tree skirt that Ben is wearing AS a skirt. Crazy boy! :-)




The tree has a few new things this year as well. (That's the Ethiopian flag on, you guessed it, a hair bow!!!)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Answering a Few Questions...

I have had SUCH a blast showing my baby girl's picture all over town. For the first few days I had to stop myself from whipping them out to show her cute face to random strangers and check-out people.

Most of the people who read this blog ON the blog are fellow adoptive fams, but this blog also uploads to Facebook and most of the people there have been wondering about the process. Many of my Facebook friends have been wondering when they can see pix and when we get to go get her. So, here's the scoop:

I'm not allowed to post photos online until she passes court in Ethiopia. Right now we are waiting to hear when our court date will be. So for you out-of-towners who just don't want to wait that long to see her sweet-but-unsmiling face, email (or FB message) me your address and I'll make sure you get a Christmas card! Of course she is adorably and prominently featured. :-)

Next, lots of you have asked about when we get to go get her. Well, the process is as follows:
1. Tons of paperwork (check)
2. Get on the wait list (check)
3. Get your referral (check!!!)
4. Child gets a court date in ET and hopefully passes through the first time. (Usually takes 2-3 months from referral date to get first court date.) If they don't pass the first time, they get a second date, etc...
5. Child gets a date at the US Embassy in Addis Ababa (usually 2-6 weeks after passing court)- and we travel as a family to take her to this appointment and bring her home!

So... we are waiting for #4, then of course #5!!! The earliest we could travel would be mid-March (but that would really be dream-land) and the latest it would be around the beginning of June.

I'm sure I'll remember to keep you posted. ;-)

So that's the scoop. Thanks for sharing our joy!!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Here's how it went down...

So. Yesterday I was at work at my fantastic-totally-provided-by-God-to-help-pay-for-our-adoption job as a curriculum coach at Glenpool Elementary where I was helping some 4th grade teachers with some fluency testing. I had slipped my iPhone into my pocket (on silent), even saying to myself, "Sara is NOT going to call today, but just in case..." At around 11am, right when I had a boy in the middle of a 1 minute timed read, I heard my phone beep signaling that I had a message. I let the boy finish his read and then I slipped the phone out of my pocket to see who had called just in case. IT WAS AN (817) NUMBER!!! That's Ft. Worth which means THAT'S GLADNEY!!! I totally started shaking. I told the boy that he did a great job, but his teacher was going to have to finish up with him, sent him back into class and stuck my head into the classroom. The sweet teacher could tell there was something wrong with me and came quickly to the door. "I think I just got the call... my adoption call... my referral call..." At this point I was crying and she was telling me to "Go! Go!" and I was telling her that I didn't finish testing that boy nor did I record his scores but there they were and she could record them and she just kept saying, "Go! Go!" So... I started running through the halls. I stopped long enough to tell my friend Edna that I had gotten the call and that I was leaving and for her to tell the Principal that I was gone and who knows what else I said. I was completely bananas AND I HADN'T EVEN LISTENED TO SARA'S MESSAGE YET!!! So... I finally got into my little office, listened to the message I had been waiting for for 4 months 3 weeks and 2 days, quickly called her back to say that I was so excited and that Mick and I would meet at home within the hour and call her back. I grabbed my purse and my coat and RAN to my car, dialing Mick as I ran. He later described my call to him as "hysterical" and not in the "ha ha I get such a kick out of my wife" sense. ;-) I was shaking so much so I thought the best thing I could do would be to distract myself further and make a bunch of calls while I was driving. (I know, I know. You don't have to tell me.) I called my "team." My essentials. My peeps. The ones I would not make it through this life without. And if I didn't call them directly I instructed them to call each other. So thankful for these people. Andrea (one of my essentials) had agreed to come over and take pictures of the event and funnily enough we had just talked that morning about how I needed to make sure I was wearing waterproof mascara on the day of the call b/c she wasn't photoshopping my streaky eyes for me. ;-)

(BTW... I know this is long and you totally don't have to read all this. I'm writing it down so that I remember every detail and can someday share this story with my girl. :-)

So. I arrived at home to find my house in complete shambles! 2 baskets of unfolded laundry in the living room, the boxes where we store the Christmas decorations had not been put away, breakfast dishes all over the kitchen, boy's toys and craft materials strew about everywhere... a real mess. I was in such a manic state I literally RAN all over my house cleaning it and shoving the Christmas boxes and laundry where they would not be seen. I seriously looked around my house 1/2 an hour later and was amazed to discover that I had completely cleaned the living room, dining room and kitchen. Then Mick arrived, then Andrea arrived and being the artistic person that she is she completely re-arranged my dining room so that we could sit at the table but use the natural light from the kitchen to light the photos.




I think you will agree, she did a great job! There are lots more great pix, but since I am doing the ugly cry in most of them, we'll spare the internet and just save those for the scrapbook. You are welcome.

It was an amazing, moving, exciting, life changing experience. And at the same time it felt completely surreal. The most beautiful moment was after the call while Mick and I were getting ready to go eat lunch and I pointed at the sweet face on our computer screen that we had been learning about for the last 1/2 hour or so, the face that belonged to our new daughter- I pointed at that face and said, "Mick- what do you think about all this?" And Mick, never the person most prone to verbosity, said with big tears in his eyes, "I think... I think she looks like she's ours."

And that's when I melted into a puddle on the floor and literally had to be mopped up and squeezed into a bucket.

I told him that was the most wonderful thing he had ever said. And we just held each other.

But then he was hungry and so we went to lunch. I am not lying when I tell you that ALL DAY from the moment I looked at my phone and saw that area code I was completely manic. I was bananas! It was like I was drunk!!! We went to lunch at Hideaway and got the yummy chicken florentine pizza... and at one point while I was chewing Mick said, "This is really good!" I thought for a moment about the food in my mouth and replied, "I honestly can't taste it."

After lunch I scurried to Walgreens to print out copies of the photos so that I could start showing off my little lovely. I was so bonkers that the photo dude must have thought I was an idiot. He practically had to punch every button for me. I then decided that I had just enough time to run to Kelly's house and show her my baby girl before I had to pick the kids up from school... but I was wrong and I was 15 minutes late picking them up which meant that although it was great and important that I got to show Kel, it was a big huge bummer that I missed the pick-up-on-the-playground crowd at school because I love those gals and I couldn't wait to show them my pics!!!! Never mind... I made up for it today by getting to school early and staying late. :-)

I had to go to the office to get my boys b/c that's where they take abandoned children whose irresponsible parents haven't picked them up from school and so after I finally got to them I pulled them aside and said, "Boys! Remember when we talked about how one day soon someone was going to call us with news about our baby (that's what they have been calling her for months now) and that they would send us pictures and we would know her name and all that? Well today was that day! And here is a picture of your new sister!!!" I showed them a photo and Jack took the picture in his hands, gasped and said, "Our sister!" Ben looked at the photo, then looked at me and said in a dead-pan voice, "Is she a boy?" ...and that pretty much sums up my children. :-)

The rest of the day was a blur as I just stared at those photos and read and re-read all her info. My parents came over to see the photos and we went out to dinner to celebrate... but again, I didn't really taste the food. And it was Thai! ;-)

Today I woke up and the first thing I saw were her photos which I had stuck around our bathroom mirror. ...And I just smiled.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

REFERRAL!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today was the day that I met my daughter!

My beautiful daughter who is 2 years and 4 months old.

My beautiful daughter who, although she isn't smiling in ANY of her photos, has the most lovely eyes and kissiest lips I have ever seen.

She is real, but this only seems partly-real. I've cried so much I am exhausted. I am overwhelmed!

She's my girl.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

waiting and UNOFFICIAL hope

I don't know why I didn't discover this sooner- it must have been God hiding it from me to maintain my sanity. So many of my fellow Gladney bloggers (who I freely admit to online stalking) have referred to it several times over the past year, but somehow I never looked into it for myself. Until now. What is it that I am referring to? Say it with me Gladney bloggers:

The Gladney FBI UNOFFICIAL list of, well, EVERYTHING!!!

It's unofficial, but it places you in order according to your wait time and and your gender and age preferences. So since I discovered this list last week I just can't stay away from it! And here's why...

According to this UNOFFICIAL list, WE are the next family waiting open to a girl between 18-39 months!!!

So what does that mean? Well, officially it means nothing. There could potentially be many families NOT listed on that site who are actually "in front" of us. But Gladney does not do the number thing like many other agencies do. They just give the average wait list times and in many ways I can see how this could work to keep families from getting too anxious about their 'turn.' BUT... now that I have discovered this list and know that UNOFFICIALLY we are next in line for a girl in that age range... well...

JUST CALL ME ALREADY!!! I WANT TO MEET MY DAUGHTER!!!

ps- I'm not sure which phone our case worker will call from, but if she calls from her direct line, it's ringtone on my phone is "My Girl." :-) So call me, Sara!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankful. Humbled.

You know what? My life is perfect.

It really is.

Does that mean that I am deliriously happy? No. Does that mean that I still feel those lovey-dovey feelings every time I look at my husband? Not necessarily. Does that mean that my house is huge and I can afford to pay someone to clean it? Not at all. Does it mean that my kids are perfect and make their beds every morning without being asked and never argue nor get on my nerves? Uh... yeah, right. Does it even mean that we are wealthy and can afford to adopt internationally during a recession without sacrifice?

...oh, I'm sorry. I just had to stop typing and laugh out loud.

But still, my life is perfect.

I have a husband who really loves me and works so hard to provide for our family. I have an adorable (if tiny) house that I really like. I have two sons who I really think are pretty close to perfect. I have a wonderful community around me. I have friends who really get me and know everything there is to know about me and who inexplicably love me anyway. My parents are healthy. My brothers are awesome. I have everything I need. I have a Savior who never tires of picking me up no matter how often I fall down.

My life is perfect.

I need to give more of it away.

"When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required." Luke 12:48

Why have I been blessed with this life? Why do I get to adopt a precious little girl while her Ethiopian mommy doesn't get to raise her? Why are so many in this world unable to give their children a drink of clean water while I have already purchased Christmas presents for my children and hidden them in my closet? Why all the injustice?

Obviously there are no answers. No easy ones, anyway. But one thing I do know: I wasn't blessed with this great life just to keep it to myself. It wasn't given to me so that I could have a great shoe collection (which I do) nor so that my kids could have the latest video gaming system (which they do) nor so that my family could fill our house with everything we need and then some (which we do). I was blessed with this great life so that I could give it away.

I'm thankful for what I have... but also humbled by it. I need to give more away. Not just my stuff. I need to give more of myself away too.

Monday, November 23, 2009

This MAY be the beginning of a TEENSY little problem...



Okay, so SOME of these are gifts for my niece for Christmas... but the fact remains that I do not even have a daughter yet, and I have already bought her a dolly and a TON of hair bows!!! But I found this site and just couldn't stop myself.

So, we all know what's going to happen. We all know that not even one of these bows is going to stay in her hair longer than a minute. We all know that I'm going to go crazy buying all this girly stuff and she's going to be a total tom-boy who just wants to play in the dirt with Jack and Ben. ...But I just can't help myself!!!

And, although I do not have a daughter yet... the key word is just YET!!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

FOUR


Wow. We are at 4 months. Average time to a toddler referral is... NOW. Longest waiting families currently on the list have waited 5 months... but all that means is that SOMETIME IN THE NEXT 60 DAYS WE ARE GOING TO GET OUR REFERRAL!!! (For those not steeped in the adoption vernacular, the referral is when the case worker from your agency calls you up and says, "I have news!" at which point you and your husband drop whatever it is you are doing immediately and rush home to sit in front of the computer at which point you call said case worker back and tell her that you are together in front of the computer and she then emails you the photos and bio info on your new child!!! So you can see... that referral is pretty important!!!!) (It still takes approximately 3-5 months from the point when you accept your referral before all is set for you to travel over to get your baby, though. But it's THE HUGE STEP we are all waiting for in this adoption process! Well, until we start waiting for her to get a court date in Ethiopia, and then to pass court, and then to get a date at the US Embassy in Addis Ababa, and then to get our travel dates... but first we gotta get that REFERRAL!)

I am so thankful for the place I am in right now- anyone who has read this blog longer than 5 minutes knows that I've had my fair share of freak outs during this process. I'm not saying they are gone for good... I'm sure just about the time I'm putting my family on a plane to Africa I shall have the biggest freak out of all, but as of right now, I'm feeling sooooo peaceful and soooooo excited! I honestly can't wait to see her face or their faces!

It's so tempting to imagine seeing her face for the first time in the pictures and bio info that will be emailed to us by our caseworker- it's so easy to imagine seeing those pics and falling in love. But I'm not putting any pressure on myself to feel any kind of instant magical connection when I first get the email with the pictures and bio information attached. I know some people do- and I think that is amazing and great and beautiful... but I don't want to feel like something is wrong if I don't instantly fall in love with a picture. I mean- who wouldn't hope for love at first sight in this circumstance, though, right? But I'm just going to try to take whatever my initial thoughts or feelings are and be okay with them. Whether or not I feel an instant connection with a picture, she is going to be my daughter! What do you think- those who have adopted before me- what did YOU feel when you first saw pictures of your child or children? Was your connection instant or did it grow over the days and weeks between when you first saw that face and the time to travel?

So... any guesses on the day we will get the call??? Any one want to place any bets??? What day do you think will be the...

...lucky day???

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"Eh-NAY eh-NAH-tish nihn." (I am your Mommy) :-)

Guess what I've been trying to learn?

I've been using this....



...to try and learn a few phrases of this....



Let's just say that Amharic (the main language spoken in Ethiopia) is NOT an easy language. Thankfully the book comes with a CD, but it's still very difficult. I have signs with phrases and pronunciations all over the house. The funniest thing is... our girl may not even SPEAK Amharic! She may speak a tribal language and all this effort will be wasted. But oh, well. If you hear me walking around mumbling "Ah-meh-seh-guh NAH-loh" just say, "You're welcome."

Monday, November 2, 2009

Getting Closer!!!

Okay, I have been the lamest blogger in the world. I blame Facebook. Who can make the time to sit down and actually type out a complete thought or story when you can mini-blog 100 times/day if you want to??? But regardless, there really hasn't been anything to blog about on the adoption front. Still on the wait list... but...

The average wait time for a toddler referral is 4 months, and we will be at 4 months as of November 10th~!!! AVERAGE being the key word. Meaning that we COULD literally get a call tomorrow, or we COULD still be waiting in December. But either way... IT'S GETTING CLOSER!!!!

So today I did something I have NEVER done before. I was in Target and found these delightful little aisles full of things that are pink!!! Did you guys know these existed? I thought Target just sold Star Wars toys and Hot Wheels. But, no! There are so many things I have yet to discover! And then... there she was. On the shelf. Well, actually she was hanging from a plastic hook coming out of her head, but that's beside the point. There she was. Looking at me. And saying that she wanted to come live in my house and play with my LITTLE GIRL!!! So how could I refuse??? Internet, please meet the newest addition to the Gower Family:



Look at her lovely shiny dress! And her super fun yarn hair! Nothing like this has EVER lived in our house!!! Moms with daughters, tell me. Do pretty dollys like this ALWAYS call out to you when you browse through shops? And if so, which bank is the best one to get your loan from to support this habit???

...And so it begins...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Changes...

How do you know when God is trying to tell you something? How do you distinguish between reason and fear and the voice of the Holy Spirit? I wish I had a totally easy answer for those questions. But the truth is I get hung up sometimes- over thinking things and trying to reason with myself... when the bottom line is always PEACE. You have to go where there is peace.

Lately I have been thinking about the part of our story when I first felt like God was dropping the desire to adopt into my heart. I felt like I "heard" His voice. You know- not audible, but like a thought was dropped into my head that I knew didn't come from me. Bigger and better than the thoughts I think. An idea I wouldn't have come up with on my own, but feels right somehow. Anyway... when I heard that voice it said "...I want you to adopt a daughter." And that is what has been rolling around in my mind and heart lately. A daughter. Singular. A. One. Hmmmmmmm... Mick and I got the idea that as long as we were helping out one child we may as well help out two, and quite frankly, it's cheaper in the long run to adopt two at once than one now and one later. Plus we thought of how much it would mean to a child to have a blood sibling to grow up with. Plus then you wouldn't be the only child who looked like you in the family. Plus it would be so great to have this common culture and language and history... So many reasons we could think of that make it seem like a good, no a GREAT thing. But... But. That voice. A. Hmmmmmm...

So, I called our case worker Sara and discussed lots and lots and lots of things with her. And the end result is that we are still on the 'list' for siblings, but we are also on the 'list' for a single child. ...And then came the peace. So I know it was the right decision. And now I truly feel like it is in God's hands. Sara assured us that sometimes when people wait for either one the sibling call comes first. So who knows? All I know is that I needed the peace, and I got it when we put ourselves on the list for either. One child, two children... all that really matters is that it's God's plan.

Friday, September 18, 2009

New Shoes!

I'm completely ripping this post from Amy Bottomly (who I only know in the bloggy world)... but I don't think she'll mind! And Michelle will love this! I've already ordered mine- even though it's fall and I won't get to wear them for a long time. Black and GREEN, of course!


Have you seen these shoes?



They are by Sseko Designs. They are cute AND profit Ugandan women!

Here's a bit of their story:
The Ugandan school system is designed with a nine month gap between secondary school and university. These nine months are intended to allow time for students to earn money for tuition before continuing on to university. However, in an impoverished and male dominated society, many of these young women struggle to find fair work during this time.

Sseko Designs hires recent secondary school graduates for this nine month period to live and work together, while earning money that will go directly towards their university education. These women will not make sandals forever. They will go on to be doctors, lawyers, politicians, writers and teachers that will bring change and unification to a country divided and ravished by a 22 year-long war.

Sseko Designs is a for-profit enterprise that recognizes the power of business and responsible consumerism to support sustainable economic development, which in turn affects a country's educational, justice, and health care systems. The goal of Sseko Designs is two-fold: provide university tuition for these promising young women through a sustainable monthly income, while also contributing to the overall economic development of Uganda.

Although consumerism makes many empty promises, responsible and proactive consumerism has the ability to change lives. Like the lives of Mercy, Mary and Rebbecca.

Every sandal has a story. This story has only just begun, but with your help, it will be a story of hope, success and change



The shoes come in solids and pattern and look really cute. Read more about Sseko Designs on their website... there is more about their story, the women that are benefiting from the sales of the shoes right now, and their blog. Check it by clicking here.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Controversy!

I honestly don't MEAN to be a person who stirs up controversy. But like Maria in The Sound of Music, "I'm far too outspoken. It's one of my worst faults!" I actually love the fact that I have real friends from every end of the political spectrum- from super red to super blue, and that we can debate (mostly on facebook but also in 'real' life) about many subjects. I also love that I have real friends from every end of the spiritual spectrum- from atheists to pew jumpers. Now, that's not as easy to debate, but I do appreciate the fact that we can all listen to and respect each other's opinions and convictions. If you know me well at all you know that I am definitely a believer and am definitely independent in my political views.

As you may have guessed, I'm about to say something controversial! But... rather than say it in my own words, I'm going to completely cut and paste from someone else's blog. This woman and her husband have 10 children- at least 5 of which are adopted. (not sure of all the details... I just discovered her blog and haven't read all her back story...) What is this controversial statement that she and I are about to make together? Well... hold on to your pants...

I think every believer should adopt.

Really. I think you should. If you are living your life following the teachings of Jesus, I think you should. Not that I think non-believers shouldn't, just that I think believers are actually under a mandate to do it. The number one objection that comes into people's minds when adoption is brought up is cost. And I'm not trying to say that it is not a legitimate concern. BUT... God makes a way! When we started this journey we did NOT have $27,000 just sitting around in the bank waiting for us to find a good way to use it. But since we began we have had so many amazing things happen- from an UNREAL garage sale to friends just giving us large amounts of money to God dropping a great job in my lap!!! But I'm going to stop talking now and let my new blog friend Linny talk. She can say it better than me and she's already walked down this road many times over.



Rumbling around in my heart for weeks and it’s time to share some thoughts. Grab a cup of coffee (if yours works I am trying so hard not to be jealous)....and read on. The Memorial Box Monday post on Tuesday produced an onslaught of emails…..and I wrote a post a few weeks ago entitled, “Should a Single Woman Adopt?” and that post also stirred quite a response. Foremost on people’s mind, whether single or married is: How can I/we afford to adopt when we have no money? So let’s pick that one apart and see what God’s heart is.

Over the years I have had many, many people say to me, “I would love to adopt, but we can’t afford it.” I really have had to refrain myself, because without a response already being well thought out, anything that would pop into my head would have certainly appeared rude. So here and now, I just must set the record straight: We have never once had extra money sitting in the bank when we started any of our adoptions. Period.

So how exactly did we and do we afford these precious treasures??

First and foremost, we have to understand that God’s heart is for the orphan. His ear is bent toward their cry. His word says that pure religion is to care (action verb) for them. So why would He not provide for anyone wanting to bring home an orphan for the rest of his/her life? What parent says, “Daughter I want you to make dinner for our family and some guests but sorry, the cupboards are empty and so is the fridge and freezer.” God, our Father, has cupboards full and He wants to provide for those who are willing to say, “I will obey you and care for the orphan.”

So how is it that some afford to adopt and others can’t (or think they can’t)???? That’s really a loaded question, so please hear my heart…….I believe there are Biblical principles that we have to also consider. I believe that our lives here on planet Earth are for one purpose and only one purpose – to give our lives away sacrificially to others by honoring and glorifying Almighty God. Infact one of my most favorite books is “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. It starts with this: “It’s not about you.”

I think there are a few secret words that draw the line between those who can “afford to” and those who “can’t afford to”…..and they would be: "give up stuff" and "step out in faith". Some would call it “sacrifice” but I don’t. Sacrifice to me is what the martyrs in other countries are doing. For instance: Moving from a large home to a smaller one to get rid of mortgage debt is not a sacrifice. It’s most likely doing what we should have been doing all along.

Can I be real honest here?? Somewhere though along the way we have lost sight of what is required of us by God as a people. We have bought a lie (from the pit of hell) that it really is all about us. That we work hard and deserve such-n-such. Have I ever told you that I hate the word “deserve”? At the risk of offending everyone of my bloggy friends, forgive me, but: I/We: deserve a vacation, deserve our nails to be done, deserve dinner out, deserve a car with all the bells and whistles, deserve a bigger house, deserve a new set of golf clubs, heck, we deserve the golf membership, deserve an iphone (ouch), deserve our hair cut, deserve to have someone else color it, deserve that addition on our home, deserve a pedicure, deserve a life without interruptions, deserve quiet in the evening, deserve a full night’s sleep, deserve a break, deserve a latte’, we deserve, we deserve, we deserve.

In fact as I am typing this I just did a search on what exactly “de” means, cause I know what “serve” means….and “de” means “the opposite”….so basically my take on that is that when we think we “deserve” something we are not serving, but doing the opposite, “serving ourselves”. And sweet friends, there is nothing wrong with all those things, but when they are our focus, and we are not giving our lives away for others, then we are not pleasing Him, but merely pleasing ourselves, and that would be called “sin”. Whooooa, Linny, how can you call it SIN? “To him that knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17) Interpreted: if we know what we’re supposed to be doing, and yet we don’t….then yup, it’s sin.

I believe 100% that He planned us to SERVE others all the time. Every day. To give our lives away. To live without. To share what we do have with others – people we know and people we don’t. To live uncomfortably. To live AND give generously. To give our own things away, not just things we don't need anymore but things we love. To think about others above ourselves. Scripture says that in the end times “Men (and women) will be lovers of themselves.” Wow, if that doesn’t describe 2009??!?!!! In fact we even have tee-shirts in America that say, “It’s all About Me!” Yes, it is!! But it’s not supposed to be.

So how can we practically get back to where God wants us? How can we give our lives away? How can we afford to adopt? How can we afford to adopt in this economy?
For starters: Getting down on knees and repenting of misuse of time, money or talent. Asking God to give you the strength to change your standards, your desires, your “I deserve it” attitude. Then get up and look yourself in the mirror and say: From this day forward it’s no longer all about me but about giving my life away for Him.

Well what about the economy? Frankly friends, the economy means nothing to God. His word does not say, “If you have a deep bank account, adopt a child.” It doesn’t even say, “If you have a deep bank account, give some of it away generously.” Nor does it say, “If the economic predictions are great, adopt a child.” It just says we are to care for the orphan – period!

I have often prayed, “Your word says you ‘own the cattle on a thousand hills’ (Psalm 50:10), please sell a cow for us.” In the meantime, while we waited for His cow to sell, to show Him we mean business, we have done some of these practical things: moved to a smaller home to do away with a mortgage, sold beloved things, cut out things like cable, stopped going out to eat very often, decided to forego an addition and chose instead to remodel the existing space, bought used instead of new, etc.

And God has miraculously provided for each and every adoption, time and time again. We've even giving to others adopting in the midst of adopting ourselves. Now that might sound really crazy, but it's really a Biblical principle. See, scripture says, “to give to those in need”…..and at that very moment, we didn’t "need" the money…..we would need in the future, but we don’t need now. And each and every time God has provided – supernaturally!! What an adventure to live like this.....we wouldn't trade it for anything. Infact we plan to one day have a wall of pictures of the kids that we have helped bring home. Our "wall of fame" if you will. Precious little ones that we have had the privilege of having a tiny part of bringing home.....

When we were bringing Elijah and Elizabeth no one knew. We were keeping it secret. A man walked up to Dw and said, “I need to talk to you.” He stepped outside with him and the man said, “My wife and I feel we are supposed to give you this, we are not sure why.” Dw opened an envelope and there was a check for $15,000. Yes, you read that right. $15,000. We had never had such a thing happen. BUT God knew our need, He knows we are good stewards and so He generously poured through us.

Which brings me to that sticky subject of tithing. Even as I type “sticky” I laugh……Because it’s sticky only if you don’t believe in it or don’t want to believe in it. Anyway, I wrote a post about stewardship and tithing in the middle of the night just a few days before our fire. I remember sitting up in the loft, unable to sleep, I just had to share my heart on tithing and stewardship. You can read it here.

Having adopted (almost!) seven children and never having a slush fund for adoption, I am 100% convinced that He will provide for you too. Over the years we have, at times, had very small incomes in very small pastorates. We have also planted a church where we had no income. So over the years we really haven’t been banking away large amounts of money, ever!

Which makes me also wonder something crazy. Could it be that when we are giving our lives away that also means our resources? Could it even mean generously helping others financially? Couldn’t it mean helping those who are caring for the orphans in orphanages overseas (like Abby Tracy in Uganda, Bill & Lynsay in Ch*na, Bernie & Bennett in India, Kisses from Katie in Uganda, to name a few)…..or helping those who are currently adopting.

I often wonder: If I were an orphan what would I want (besides a mom & dad)….would I want people to give up “stuff” to provide for me…or is it okay for them to sit with their ‘stuff’ while I have nothing, not even food many days. When I try to walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins, I am compelled to act. I am compelled to give. I am compelled not to conform to what society says is “normal.” I am compelled to live radically. I am compelled to encourage others to do the same.

So how do we pay for an adoption in these economic times? We step out in faith. We don’t wait. Because “without faith it is impossible to please God.” I couldn’t be more convinced that God is watching to see if we are serious and when He sees you and me doing without and intentionally preparing to bring another one home THEN He will open the flood gates of heaven and sell a cow or two for you (and me)....and we will once again be reminded that He is the Miracle-working, Mountain-moving, Awe-inspiring, Gasp-giving God despite economic forecasts and worldly reasoning!!! Yippee Jesus!! xo



...So there you have it. Before you think of filling up your home or your life with more things, consider not doing that and giving the money toward an adoption, an orphan, an orphanage... or ask God if He wants you to make room for one of those orphans in your home. But know before you ask... His answer will be YES! :-)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Amharic Language Book

Well, I just spent 10 minutes on youtube listening to an Ethiopian lady TRY to teach me a few phrases in Amharic... and all I learned is that "Thank You" has about 17 syllables and that I need much more help that that sweet lady has to offer!!! :-) Wowza. So... all of my fellow Ethiopian adoptive fams... tell me what I need to buy, try, read, watch, listen to... I know I need help! Point me in the right direction! I want to learn! I would love book recommendations and as well as some sort of audio to make sure that I am pronouncing things correctly. So... recommend away!!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

One Month Down

First month on the wait list officially over!

A HUGE thank you to all who helped me get through the "funk". Honestly, all the comments and messages made a real difference for me and helped put things into perspective. THANK YOU SO MUCH, INTERNET COMMUNITY!!!

I started my new job last week! I am working part time at Glenpool Elementary this school year- my official title is "Curriculum Coach." Don't I sound important? ha ha. I know I am really going to enjoy it. Not only is it a blessing from God for our adoption fund, it is also a blessing from God for ME to keep my mind of the waiting and to feel like I am helping kids and teachers- exactly what I love to do!

Jack and Ben start 3rd grade and Kindergarten next week! First day of school pix coming soon!!!

I wonder about our "new" kids... where they are, what they are doing right now... I wonder if they are with their mommy. I hope so. I hope she is lavishing them with her love. I don't know what the circumstances will be that will bring these kids into our lives, but I know that the story will be rooted in this mommy's sadness. I pray for her and hope she is soaking up her kids' smiles and hugs and kisses and staring deep into their eyes and letting them know she loves them so much.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Funk

I've been in a funk lately, and not the fun kind. I've been really weirded out about the adoption for a few weeks now. There is a lot of shame involved in writing this post- but that's what makes me know I really must write it. One thing I do know for sure is that 'hiding' never heals anything. So I"m putting it out there. Shame be damned! If you are a person who has adopted, maybe (hopefully?) you have felt some of these same things and will let me know that maybe (hopefully?) it's normal and that maybe (please God!) it will pass soon. If you are a person who has adopted and you have never felt any of the following... well... please just keep that to yourself. ;-)

It started right after we got on the waiting list. Simultaneous joy and terror. And when I say terror, I don't mean the average 'wow. this is big. i'm taking this job seriously.' kind of terror. I mean waking up in the middle of the night w/ a pit in my stomach thinking things like, "There is NO WAY I can do this!!! TWO more people in this very small house??? What were we thinking??? This was a huge mistake. Why on earth did I do all that freakin' paperwork??? I don't have room- not in this house, not in the budget, and maybe not even in my HEART to do this!!!" See- terror. The reality of adding two more people to our lives was just overwhelming to me. Everything I was thinking was totally fear-based. (I'm writing in the past tense, because I'm hoping it passes soon, but really, it's very present tense for me right now.) I was afraid of whether or not I would love them and they would love me. I was afraid of how it would challenge my marriage. I was afraid it would make me neglect Jack and Ben. I was afraid that we wouldn't have the money to do anything fun ever again as long as we lived because I remembered about how little kids have to go to the doctor like every other day and need medicine for every little cough, bump, fever, etc... Things are so easy right now with Jack (8) and Ben (almost 6). "Boys, go take a shower." (yes, you have to remind them to wash themselves, and then check to see if they really did, but still- easy.) "Boys, buckle up." "Boys, fix yourself some breakfast." "Boys, go get your clothes on and brush your teeth and get your backpacks and get in the car." So easy. And I am willingly going to dive back into diapers and baby food and naps and the crying and the fit throwing and potty training and grocery shopping with small children? And how a mom w/ small kids is NEVER really clean- someone has always wiped a mouth or a nose or a sticky hand somewhere. NOT easy. I was even worried about how on God's green we would put FOUR kids through college. I finally said the TRUTH to myself: I don't really want to do this. There. I said it. Everyone give a mutual GASP on the count of three, and let the judgement begin.

Yes, I realize how terrible that sounds. Believe me. I've been thinking "I don't deserve to get to adopt these kids... they should go to a family that is LONGING for them." The crazy thing is: I WAS that person before the funk. So I have to believe that I will be that person again. But right now, not so much.

So... I had to ask myself why I am doing this. Really. I mean, I've been talking about my desire to adopt for YEARS now, and I did paperwork for 6 months to make this happen. So apparently I really do want to do this. Why? What pricked my heart and made me desire this in the first place? Well... not to pass the buck, but: God. It's probably obvious by now that I am not a saint. I don't always think or do the right things and my heart can be exceedingly unfaithful. I want things that are not good for me and can be tremendously stubborn. Like my man Rich Mullins wrote: "Surrender don't come natural to me. I'd rather fight You for something I don't really want than take what You give and I need." But somehow, God got through to this unfaithful heart, spoke to this deeply flawed character and planted a seed in my heart- a seed that said, "I want you to make a difference." And I said, "Okay."

I have to believe that because this is God's dream, He will be there every step of the way to help me. I absolutely KNOW that in my own strength I CANNOT do this. I am far too selfish, lazy, carnal, and weak. So even though the funk isn't over, I am trying to trust that it soon will be.

I went back and re-read some of my favorite quotes to help get my mind, heart, and attitude back where they need to be. Here's what I need to continually remind myself of:

"It is poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." Mother Theresa

"Why is my life more valuable than this baby's? Someone asked me recently why I don't save money for emergencies, or retirement. My answer was how can I justify saving for myself "just in case" something happens to me when something IS happening to so many already. 29,000 kids will die today of preventable causes. If I'm to love my neighbor AS myself, why spend so much time worrying about me?" Francis Chan

"...Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." (Proverbs 24:12)

Richard Stearns, President of World Vision, US said,
"I believe that this could very well be looked back on as the sin of our generation. I look at my parents and ask, where were they during the civil rights movement? I look at my grandparents and ask, what were they doing when the holocaust in Europe was occurring with regard to the Jews, and why didn't they speak up? And when we think of our great, great, great-grandparents, we think how could they have sat by and allowed slavery to exist? And I believe that our children and their children, 40 or 50 years from now, are going to ask me, what did you do while 40 million children became orphans in Africa?"
I know that it feels like the problem is way too big for us to really do anything to make a difference, but I know with all my heart that touching the life of just one, just ONE, child can truly make a difference. And if everyone touched the life of just one child, we could reach them all. "

Richard Stearns, president of World Vision, took some liberties with Matthew 25:35 and wrote a paraphrase version for today.
"For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thristy, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved."


"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I should do and, with the help of God, I will do." Edward Everett Hale

And last, but certainly not least, there is this:

May I have
The courage today
To live the life
That I would love,
To postpone my dream
No longer
But do at last
What I came here for
And waste my heart
On fear no more.

Source, John O’Donohue
To Bless the Space Between Us

...So I continue to say "yes" and trust that there is some bigger picture, something much bigger than me and my little life that this is all a part of. I do want to live a life that I can be proud of. But things you are proud of always involve sacrifice. I believe that it will be worth it. Not easy... but worth it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

TODAY!

We are on the WAIT LIST as of TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh my gosh. I don't even know what to say.

The only thing to say is, "Lord, it's all in your hands. We are. Our boys are. The "new" kids are. Bring us all together in your perfect timing."

Oh! I am too overwhelmed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

LAST DOCUMENT MAILED!!!

Well... the paperwork part of this adoption is officially OVER! I mailed the last document off to the dossier service yesterday. Now it gets authenticated and sent to DC... AND THEN WE ARE ON THE WAIT LIST!!! Now, there may be some documents that will have to be done again later if they expire, but for now, the paperwork is IN and the waiting is about to begin! So exciting!!!

Here are a few pix of Mick and I getting the CIS approval letter notarized and me mailing it off to KBS dossiers. WooHoo!





Friday, July 3, 2009

CIS Approval!

Oh, boy. The time estimate between when we had our fingerprints taken by immigration and when we received government approval were estimated to be 4-8 weeks. So mentally I've been thinking that we would get approval sometime around the middle of August. But instead we got our letter YESTERDAY- JUST 2 WEEKS AFTER BEING FINGERPRINTED!!! This means that after I get the document notarized and sent off to the dossier service, the dossier lady will then send the COMPLETED dossier to Washington DC for final authentication, then to the Ethiopian Embassy. And what all THAT means is that WE ARE JUST THOSE SHORT STEPS FROM BEING ON THE GLADNEY WAIT LIST!!! For real. For rizzle. Fo sho.

So this thing is really going to happen one day, isn't it??? One day just a few short months from now (somewhere between January and July of 2010) we will be getting on a plane to instantly become a family of 6!!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Okay. Reading the following is not for the faint of heart. If you are a Christian who thinks that God's plan for your life is to live in a big comfy house in a safe neighborhood, stop reading right now. The following is copied from the blog of a family who has 3 bio kids, 3 adopted siblings from Ethiopia, and is leaving in a few weeks to go to Ethiopia to pick up 3 MORE siblings to add to their family. The husband and wife are both teachers- not exactly living the high life even w/ just the 3 bio kids- and now they will have 9 kids!!! BUT... this lady knows what it is all about. So like I said: if you think that God's plan for your life is health and wealth while your neighbor lives in poverty, DO NOT read on!!! But if you have the courage, if you take God seriously... read on.


Friday, June 5, 2009
I wish I could tell you...
that the sacrificial life of following after Jesus and being His actual hands and feet on this Planet Earth would bring rewards on this planet. But I can't. Because it probably won't.

I wish I could tell you that if you take in an orphan and love that child as your own flesh and blood, that you will be blessed in this life in more ways than just spiritual. But I can't. Because you might not be.

I wish I could tell you that it's easy to adopt. That it's effortless and glamorous and always beautiful. But I can't. Because it isn't.

I wish I could tell you that it's easy after you adopt. But I can't. Because it's tougher than tough some days.

I wish I could tell you that this life of sacrifice is painless and prosperous. But I can't. Because it's often painful and rarely prosperous in the earthly.

I wish I could tell you all of those warm and comforting platitudes, but I can't. Because they're not true.

What I CAN tell you, though, is that this life is not your own. So none of the above matter anyway.

When I stepped off of the cliff in full recognition of that reality, I have had no control over my life since. Yes, I have choices. I realize that I chose this road. I said yes to this calling. I agreed to take in 6 kids that I did not have to call my own. But once I said yes the first time, I could never say no after. Once I took Jesus seriously, Jesus took me seriously. I was wrecked for Him and for this life and could never tell Him no. Never again. If I say no to a child who needs me, I'm saying no to the Child Jesus. If I say no to an abandoned baby who needs me, I'm saying no to Baby Jesus. If I say no to a sibling group who needs a family, I'm saying no to Jesus and his brothers and sisters. Think I'm exaggerating?
Matthew 25:44-46 (The Message)
44"Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?'

45"He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.'

46"Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom, but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward."

I mean, it doesn't get more blatant than that. But alas there it is for us so-called Jesus followers.

And, here's a little warning: Once you utter that initial walking-off-the-cliff YES to Him, it doesn't get any easier. In fact, it gets more painful and far more difficult. Saying YES the first time was the easy part for us, even though that certainly was not easy. Because--the fact is--every single day I see the reality of my choice to say YES to Jesus in need. I see the white picket fences, the new cars, the private schools, the suburban "dream," the picture perfect families. I see that. I know what I'm saying no to. I am fully aware that I had a choice to embrace "that" life, but that I chose to embrace His instead.

It's often painful. Usually not easy. Typically lonely. Generally overwhelming. But I know that this life is not my own. The reward for me is most likely not on this planet. In fact, it most certainly isn't. Most probably I will never live in a fat house (by American standards) and drive a fancy car and have any spare cash to sit on. I realize that. I know that. And I also know that I could have sought those things for myself and could have had them. I absolutely know that that life is within my reach. Every time I encounter someone who has embraced fulfillment in the temporary, I am reminded like a big banner (or a slap in the face) that I chose this road instead. And every time I am reminded, I hear God asking me (practically audibly sometimes), "So, you still want to follow the narrow road?" [YES, Lord. Here am I. Send me.]

Loving the fatherless. Loving the abandoned. Loving the seemingly hopeless. The narrow road requires sacrifice.The narrow road. It's lonely. It's long. It's difficult. It's full of suffering and struggle and sacrifice. But isn't that what following our Jesus is all about? If you're following a Jesus that doesn't demand sacrifice of all earthly endeavors, than I don't know what Jesus you're following. Didn't Jesus, after all, sacrifice all earthly endeavors for us? What did He sacrifice so that He could love YOU? How much more, then, should we sacrifice in order to love Him? And if loving HIM means loving the unlovely and the unloved, then what does it mean if we live in comfort while the unloved go on unloved? While the orphaned stay orphaned? While the street kids still roam the streets?

I don't know how we can really claim to love Jesus if we don't love Jesus the Street Child. If we don't love Jesus the Orphan. Jesus the Prostitute. Jesus the Abandoned.

But what does it mean to LOVE Jesus the Orphan? What does it mean to love Jesus the Abandoned? It means that you do for Jesus the Orphan what you would want done to your own child.

Matthew 7:12 (New International Version)
12So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

In a world that seems so complicated and chaotic, it really is as simple as that. It's what led me to see my own children in the faces of Ethiopia's orphans in the first place. It's what led me to say yes to children who simply needed a family. Who needed me. Who needed someone to see Jesus the Orphan in them.

Matthew 16:23-25 (The Message)
23But Jesus didn't swerve. "Peter, get out of my way. Satan, get lost. You have no idea how God works."

24-26Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. "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. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?

Matthew 16:23-25 (New International Version)
23Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

24Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

Where is your cross? What is your suffering? Go seek out Jesus the Orphan. You'll find your cross and suffering there. And there you will finally find Jesus. The One you did not see before and the One you did not know to love.

And then and only then, Great Will Be Your Reward. I can't count on much, but I can count on that.

Luke 6:34-36 (New International Version)
34And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. 35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons and daughters of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Luke 6:34-36 (The Message)
31-34"Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that's charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.

35-36"I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You'll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we're at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.

I know my family is not the so-called American Dream. I know that having 9 kids is certainly not the goal for most sane and ordinary people. I know that having a multi-racial family can really mar some people's plans for a supposedly picture-perfect family. But so what? This life is not your own. Don't live a lie believing that it is. Whose plans are those, anyway, for the picture-perfect home? the picture-perfect family? the American dream? I don't remember Jesus standing on the mountainside preaching in favor of any of those, so whatever you do, make sure your plans aren't just that...YOUR plans.

My life is not my own. And if you claim to follow Jesus, your life is not yours, either.
Galatians 2:20 (New International Version)
20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Go. Leave behind the life you planned. SEEK OUT the orphan. Don't ask God one more time if He wants you to adopt. Because...HE'S been asking YOU, who WILL?



1 John 3:17 (The Message)
16-17This is how we've come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Garage Sale and Other Amazing Things

I am surrounded by truly amazing people. Not only am I surrounded by such people, I know without a doubt that God is in the mix and playing a really big part in this adoption. The garage sale (last weekend) was UNreal. People that I know AND people that don't know me at all donated GREAT stuff for this sale, and my incredible friends gave up significant amounts of time with their families to pull this event off. When Molly and Ronna first told me that they wanted to hold a garage sale to raise money for our adoption, I was both touched and excited. I thought, "We could make like $500!" When I saw the really great stuff that people were donating, I thought, "Wow! We might even make $800 - $1000!!! Oh my GOSH that would be amazing!" So... if you don't know already from Facebook (or because you were there playing a HUGE part in making it happen... ) let the drumroll begin... $2,455!!! (that's including stuff that was donated that I sold on craigslist.com.) Is that AMAZING??? Have you EVER heard of a garage sale making that kind of money??? I know I haven't. Incredible.

At one point while standing in Ronna's wonderful Mom's garage (who not only donated her house for the sale, but also fixed us delish lunches each day) I just became completely overwhelmed. I looked around at my friends working so hard and at all the things that people donated- most from my church family but some from complete strangers that heard about our cause and just wanted to help out- and thought to myself, "People are doing all this for ME???" and immediately I felt like I heard God tell me, "No, Gayla. They are doing it for ME. They are doing it because they are MY people and this is MY will. I'M going to get the glory from this, not you. And the reason I am doing it is for those kids." Wow. I mean... wow. Humbling, and oh-so-very-right.

My favorite part of the sale was watching my friends as people came to haggle over prices. Molly was especially to-the-point. Someone would approach her to ask if they could pay 1/2 of the price listed on the tag and Molly would pause then say, "We aren't keeping any of this money for ourselves. We are giving it all to our friend to help her adopt two children from Ethiopia." ...and then she would just look at them. Usually they either paid the full price, or paid a bit less and made a donation. Really funny, cute and amazing. :-)

Here are a bunch of fun pix from those amazing, but exhausting days!!!















I don't know how to move the pix around here on blogger... kinda frustrating. So they are a bit out of order, but still reflect the amazing time that we had. Thank you, thank you dear friends. (OH! And I HAVE to point out pic of the cute, cute girls who were selling bows that they made out of duct tape! They sold a LOT and they gave us all their profits! And those bows are CUTE!!! I've got to get some for when I get me a girl or two in this family... :-)

So many amazing things have happened- including having a college friend (who is now a missionary whose family lives on full support and faith!) who felt like God had asked them to donate a significant amount of money toward our adoption- I am just completely undone. I still believe that what I felt God say in my heart is true- people are being so wonderful and generous because God is asking them to. I can feel God so in control of this thing that at times it is literally scary. I know we always SAY "God is in control," but to actually sense that things are truly OUT of our control is a very strange and even terrifying sensation. I know it's all good... but He is taking me to a place I have never been before, and He's taking me whether or not I even really want to go! Does that sound crazy??? It feels a little crazy. But it's a good crazy. So I'm going with it.

A song from last year's VBS keeps coming to mind lately:
"I wanna be GRATEFUL,
I wanna be THANKFUL.
I wanna remember EVERYTHING that the LORD has done!"

Monday, June 8, 2009

Too Wonderful

"You hem me in- behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is TOO WONDERFUL for me, too lofty for me to attain." Psalm 139:5-6

I don't think I ever knew what it meant for something to truly be TOO wonderful. Not until I experienced such OVERWHELMING generosity recently did I know that it was possible to feel that God's goodness was simply TOO MUCH to handle. I know that feeling now. I cannot articulate it. The knowledge that God has laid his hand upon me and my family ... it truly is too wonderful for my mind to process. In some ways I feel like I am in shock- like I am outside of everything watching it happen in a state of disbelief. In other ways I feel more alive and connected than I ever have before in my life.

More details to come later. Right now I'm just still soaking it all in.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I ((heart)) CRAIG'S LIST!

Why have I not been taking advantage of this amazing site before now??? A fellow Eisenhower mom donated a BUNCH of Little Tykes and Step2 outdoor items to our garage sale (next Fri and Sat) but another good friend told me that I would probably get more for items like that on Craig's List. (thanks Melanie!!!) WOW was she right! (seriously, thanks Melanie!!!) I listed the items on the site this afternoon, a process that was extremely quick and easy as pie. Within 10 MINUTES of listing them all I had emails from people who wanted to come pick them up and pay cash immediately! Who is this guy Craig, and can I give him a giant HUG??? So awesome. I think I'm going to do all my shopping on there from now on. Do they sell groceries???

Catch Up...

Okay... I know it's been way too long since I last posted. And now I have waaaaaay too many things to talk about all in one post! Right now it's Saturday morning and in less than an hour I need to have my family out the door and on our way to one last soccer game, so this probably isn't the ideal time to sit and blog. But oh well. Here's a quick catch up:

1. I got a great job offer for next school year! I mean- providential-straight-from-the-hand-of-God-to-my-family job offer! I am going to be working 2.5 days per week at Glenpool Elementary. It's going to help soooooo much- both with paying for the adoption and with allowing us to get the things the "new" children will need. You know: beds, sheets, shoes, clothes, possibly diapers??? It's going to make for a busy, busy family year, but it is such a total "fell in my lap" blessing... I can't even begin to be grateful enough.

2. Our homestudy had to be re-written b/c when I glanced through it upon receiving it, I noticed that one line read; "Mick Gower is a US citizen... blah blah blah..." and of course he is not. So..... that caused a 3 week delay for that one line to be rewritten. Seriously.

3. Good news: we got notification from CIS to be fingerprinted for the last time!!! Bad news: it is scheduled for the one week this summer we were going to take a vacation. So... vacation has to be planned around this one little probably 1/2 hour trip to the CIS office in OKC. Oh, well.

4. School is out! Check out these happy faces:


5. We had an awesome fund raiser at the "farm" last weekend. Everyone had lots of fun! I'll end this post w/ a few pix of the great day...













Selam! G'day! Hello!