"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Friday, January 29, 2010

G. Joshua's Day...we think

Many families have been traveling to meet and bring home their children this week. They have been doing some reporting to the rest of us. They have generously been trying their best to let us know what a day in the life of our Ethiopian children is like as we wait for each other.

Here are some of the things we have been hearing.
  • It seems the children are up bright and early!
  • They are allowed as much as they wish to eat. They do have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, it does not seem that they are getting milk or fresh fruits and vegetables regularly. They get meat about twice a week. The lunch the reporting mother saw was bits of injera in a bowl with sauce. (Admittedly a confusing description, but there is a language barrier in trying to visit with the nannies.) "Soup" was on the menu for dinner. (This mom also said the children loved milk, fruit, and yogurt at the guesthouse so suspected they do get some. And that her little one was eating LOTS. More than her. I have heard this echoed from other traveling families as well.)
  • There are 30-35 children living in the Care Center with our Joshua G.
  • The caregivers are affectionately called nannies. The nannies are very loving and protective of the children. They are understaffed by our standards, but by all accounts very dedicated and doing their best.
  • The toddlers lay down for a nap around 12:30 or 1:00 and sleep 1 - 2 hours.
  • The morning this mother was there, the children played outside in the morning. They were later brought indoors. They played with each other, but there were not toys.
  • The children are rather bundled up by our standards. (I have been told this by other moms as well. A friend reported that when she just had a t-shirt on her child on a 75 - 80 degree day, the nannies went in search of more clothes. Just a cultural difference, but my hot-blooded little Brenna would not approve!)
  • There seem to be a bunch of little boys Joshua G's age. There are 5 other families waiting for court dates with boys about the same age as Joshua. What is he going to think about all the girls at our house? He'll love them I am sure because they will spoil him rotten!

We also learned this week that we will be allowed to send Joshua G. a book/family photo story and one personal gift. He can have these items as soon as we pass court. So my creative scrapbook friends, I may be enlisting your help! I know from as much as we have bonded with the one little picture we have of him, that connections can/will be made through this book. What to put in... how to tell the story of our family... explain that we will be flying with him to America... going home to 3 sisters, 1 brother, a golden retriever, and an amazing extended family and friends that can not wait to love him... how do I explain all that with a few pictures to a 2yr old that speaks another language... a challenge but I am so excited to try!

I am actually more daunted by the personal item/gift. He has maybe never been given a gift before. How do I choose? What would possibly communicate how connected my heart is to him? What could possibly provide even a drop of the comfort and love that I long to give him? Suggestions anyone?

**We applied for Krissy's passport today!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Guess who called me this morning? A real live person with the USCIS. She wanted to reschedule our fingerprint appointment and because I my letter mentioned that we had been matched to a child she wanted to get us in quick! So we go Feb.2. Instead of being delayed by our trip, the process was spead up.

He who started a good work continues to be faithful to complete it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Why haven't you posted his picture?

I have had a few people ask why I have not posted a picture of Joshua. IAN (and possibly the Ethiopian government) does not allow us to post pictures of the children we will adopt until after passing court in Ethiopia. SO if you want to see Joshua's sweet face, you will have to come find me in person.

We are also prohibited from publishing his Ethiopian name. I can tell you though, so call me! I will confess that it took a few days before it flowed from my lips. The first night after we had learned his name I kept waking up thinking, "What is his name?" The first thing that popped into my mind every time was ewadeshalo - which means I love you in Amharic. Then my sleepy mind would rouse itself enough to remember his true name and I would drift off again.

I have been practicing calling him G. (Ethiopian name) Joshua or Joshua G. as we will do when he first comes home. The more I say his name the more musical it becomes!

Our dossier should arrive in Ethiopia by early next week. It has to be translated and then we will be assigned a court date. As the excitement of seeing his face has worn off a little the time until we will finally hold him seems vast. I think I am patient, but I do not wait well. In this process there is not a due date. It will happen it its own time. When the wait will end is uncertain. So for now I will focus on enjoying freedom I have with my children the ages they are. I can run an errand and leave them home alone, or run on my treadmill without worrying they are getting into something. I will enjoy sleeping in on Saturdays and sleeping through the night. I will enjoy spill-free suppers. Yet I certainly look forward to the chaotic energy that a little boy will bring!

**Sierra prays daily that Joshua G. will have hope (tesfa in Amharic) that his family is coming for him. She prays that it will be soon. I'd love it if you would join her!

**My other oh-so-sweet moment this week was visiting Brenna at school. She has Joshua G's picture proudly propped up on her desk. "Just so I can see him all the time!"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony

The Ethiopian coffee ceremony is the very definition of Ethiopian hospitality.

I have actually put off posting about this very important tradition because I was fearful of missing or confusing details. I have added this video that describes a more modern/upscale version of the coffee ceremony. Go ahead and watch it and then I will tell you what I have learned about the significance of some of the steps.

Historians believe that the first coffee trees originated in Kaffa, Ethiopia. The very word "coffee" was derived from kaffa. Ethiopian legend claims that a goat herder noticed his flock of sheep became energetic after eating the beans. The goat herder tried them and liked the way that they helped him stay alert. Soon people throughout Ethiopia were snacking on coffee beans which were ground and rolled in animal fat. Traders traveling the spice route between East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula spread the word about the bean's stimulating effect. The popularity of coffee spread quickly. No one knows when coffee was first drank, but many historians believe that hot coffee began in Ethiopia.

Coffee is still Ethiopia's most important crop. The coffee business employs 25% of the Ethiopian people. Ethiopian coffee is known world wide for it's high quality. Joshua's Ethiopian family is from the Sidama part of Ethiopia where much coffee is produced. The Amharic word for coffee is bunna.

The coffee ceremony is a social ritual that many Ethiopians participate in daily. A young woman typically performs the ceremony. She may spread grasses and flowers as a beautiful and fresh smelling carpet before she begins with the coffee. Incense may also be burned to ward off evil spirits.

Every coffee ceremony begins with unroasted beans. After the beans are washed, they are traditionally roasted in a flat pan over a charcoal stove. The beans pop and darken as they roast. When the beans are fully roasted the host carries them around the room waving her hand over them so the fragrance fills every part of the room. The beans are ground/crushed by hand using a mortar and pestle. They are then put into a tall black clay pot called a jebena. Water is added and the coffee is boiled. The coffee is poured delicately into little cups. Sugar, or salt in the country, is added.

Tradition is to drink 3 cups of coffee during the ceremony. The first is the strongest and the second and third become progressively weaker. This is because the original grounds are reused. The last cup, called bereka, is believed to contain the soul of the coffee and thus is lucky.

Popcorn is commonly served with coffee.

It is a ceremony of significance. It takes a long time, but I am told the coffee is worth waiting for. The best coffee I have ever tasted some tell me. Yum! I look forward to finding out for myself!

The video below is a more traditional coffee ceremony.

Monday, January 25, 2010


I have been anxiously checking the mail for our appointment with USCIS to be fingerprinted. You have to have a USCIS scheduled appointment to be fingerprinted as a part of the government petition to bring an immigrant child into the US. You have to show up when and where they tell you - period. I have been stressed about this appointment because Chad and I have a trip to Cancun planned in February and I did not want that trip to interfere with the fingerprinting.

Well... my appointments finally came in the mail today AND they are scheduled during our trip. UGH! So I checked the please reschedule box, typed a please expedite this request as we have been matched with a child letter, and drove it to the post office so it would go out in today's mail.

I was whining about the bad luck to God as I drove the envelope to the post office. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: God, I can not believe our bad luck on this one! I have been praying about this. You know I really do not want any of the paperwork that is my responsibility to slow down Joshua's coming home.

God: Yep, I know.


God: Why do you think this is all bad? Whose plan is this anyway? I started it I will complete it.

Me: Um...

God: Let not your heart be troubled, trust in me.

Me: I am sorry God. I know you will be faithful to complete this. I do trust you.

And you know what? I do. I do trust Him to complete this. So let's just watch and see how He does.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

She's half way there!

A huge thank you for all of you that have contributed to Krissy's growing plane ticket fund! She is now over half way to her goal of $2500.00.

She has been blessed to receive many generous donations. She has also been busy babysitting and taking on whatever other odd jobs she can arrange. She has put 100% of her earnings (outside of allowance) toward this trip.

I am really proud of her. I am also thankful to each of you! Krissy has felt so loved and encouraged in this process. The idea of $2500 was enormous, a huge sum for an eighth grader. She has been shocked and awed at how her heart's desire is being provided for.

Thank you!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Why Ethiopia?

A few people, including my daughter Sierra, have asked lately why/how we chose Ethiopia? Why not Haiti? Rwanda? Nepal? China? USA?

That question has brought me back to the beginning. It is amazing how quickly time passes sometimes. Five months ago we were blissfully sitting by a campfire considering our nest full and counting our blessings! Adoption, although something we had considered in the past, was no where in our plans.

Then God grabbed a hold of our hearts! Through a series of events that only God could orchestrate, we were convinced that there was a little boy in Ethiopia that was going to need us to be his family. We never once considered another country - though there are children that need families in every corner of the globe.

We also only contacted one placement agency. This is weird for me. But from the beginning IAN was our only choice. Not because we thought they were somehow better than other agencies, I think there are many agencies that are doing amazing things for children and families. But because our hearts told us that they were the agency that would find our son.

In this short time period everything has changed. I am so in love with our little Joshua that I have a hard time remembering I didn't come up with this idea all by myself. It is hard to believe how God can mold a heart and erase all doubt. So why Ethiopia? It's just where our boy is.

Is God grabbing your heart? Is He urging you to go somewhere or do something? Trust Him. Listen more and argue less. It will be scary for a while, but before you know it you will be totally sold out. You will wonder how you could have ever doubted. When we let it, His will becomes our own.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Here are a few of the reactions friends and family members have had to Joshua's picture:
  • aaaaaaaawwwwwwww!
  • He's so cute!
  • Sierra is the most proud picture carrier and she is quick to tell everyone his age, weight, height and "don't get too attached to his hair!" (lots of times they have to shave the kids' heads because of lice.)
  • I told Brenna I can hardly wait to see Joshua and give him a big squeeze. She quickly reminded me not to squeeze him too tight because he is little!
  • With a pout like that he may give Brenna a run for her money!
  • His daddy is going to love those cheeks!

There are many families from our agancy traveling to receive their children this week. Our case worker has asked them to keep their eyes and camera out for our little man so I expect more pictures soon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Now what...

I am guessing you have a few new questions now that we have accepted a referral. Here are some things I bet you would like to know.

What did the kids say?
They were so happy to finally see his face! They each wanted a picture of their own.

What happens next?
A lot of paperwork! Our dossier is currently in route between D.C and our agency. Next it goes to Ethiopia. Once in Ethiopia a court date is set. It sometimes takes a couple tries to pass court, but once we pass court we travel 6 to 8 weeks later.

At the same time paperwork is being done in Ethiopia we work on government approval here. We are waiting for our appointment to be fingerprinted. After our fingerprints are done, we wait for the magic form from USCIS (Immigration) granting Joshua's acceptance into the US.

So, is this a sure thing?
Of course nothing is a sure thing until we walk off the plane in our airport with our arms full of a handsome little boy - but my caseworker told me they have never had a referred child not make it home with the accepting family. It may be a bumpy road, so buckle up!

When do you think you will travel?
My hope is early May. I would really like some time at home with Joshua before the older kids are done with school for the year. That date is not impossible, but aggressive. He should definitely be here by June.

What happened to his parents?
While I understand what a curiousity that is, we feel strongly that Joshua's birth family history is his to tell if and when he wants to. We will do our best to find out as much as we can about his Ethiopian family. We will share with him what we know. We will leave the rest up to him.

How can we pray?
First please give thanks for God's fingerprints all over this process. Then, pray that our US government fingerprinting is scheduled conveniently. Pray that we receive US clearance in a timely manner. Pray for Joshua's health and well being. Pray for quick processing in Ethiopia. Pray for my first 4 amazing kids. I am so proud of their loving hearts. They are so excited to meet theit little brother, but Joshua is going to be stealing the show for a while and that may be tough sometimes. Pray for our company as work conitnues to be trying. (Our spirit's are stronger and more peaceful - but storms continue to rage around us. I am thankful for more inner stregnth and peace, but it would sure be nice if the waves around us grew calm.)

Thank you for loving our family and for supporting us so beautifully!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Timket will be a day we forever celebrate in our home. Both because it is such a big deal in Ethiopia and because it is the day we first laid eyes on our Ethiopian son.

Did you do a double take there? Yep, you read correctly - we have seen Joshua's beautiful face.

He is said to be two years old. (Remember birth records are not kept in Ethiopia, so ages/birthdays are approximate.) He has deep dark eyes, a pouty little mouth, and cheeks his daddy will love to kiss. He weighs 22lbs and is 32.3 inches tall. He is said to be healthy.

His Ethiopian name means "i buy him." Chad and I laughed about this because the first thing Chad said when I first brought up adoption was, "You want me to buy you a baby?!" But as my spirit calmed I was also struck with humble gratitude (and a few tears) as I remembered that we were each bought at a huge cost on the cross.

I had hoped God would confirm that the little boy the agency sent us would be Joshua. How gracious He was to answer yet another prayer. First God whispers that our son should be named Joshua, "Jehovah saves" - and I discover his Ethiopian parents named him "I buy him." Kind of a full picture of God's love for us, huh? He bought us with his blood in order to save us.

Thank you Jesus. Thank you for saving me and for saving this precious child. Thank you for choosing us.

Edited March 19
When I originally posted about receiving Joshua's referral I left out all the mundane details of the day. I have decided that since this blog is essentially Joshua's and my book of memories of all that occurred while we waited for him, I had better include all the details. I know my kids love to hear stories about what I thought and felt at different moments in their life. I do not want to forget a single detail about the moment I first laid eyes on my littlest boy.

January 19 began as a busy school and work morning. I had a lot to get done and I was very focused. A phone call from IAN was not on the tip of my brain. About 11 AM my cell phone rang. I could not help but smile when I saw the call was from IAN. I guesses immediately it was our case worker calling with a referral. I was thrilled! But I also had to smile at the irony. Both Chad and I had very full schedules that day. Some days I had been just hanging out near my computer waiting... when the call came I was at my computer but busy.

Sara gave me a few instructions, a little information about Joshua including his Ethiopian name, and let me know that she would be emailing me his picture and social/medical information right away. Chad and I had decided to view our boy's picture at the same time so I called him and he said he would drive right down to the office. It was a difficult time for him to leave the job site but there was not a moments hesitation. We were most anxious to see our boys face.

While I waited for Chad to get to our office, I tried to discover the meaning to Joshua's Ethiopian name. I happened to find it in minutes on a site I had never before used.

Chad soon arrived and we clicked on the email. I do not think either of us said anything for a while. We just gazed at the face of the boy a world away who was to become our son. Finally Chad said, "He's a cute little guy." I just nodded, my eyes full of tears.

We then scanned his social and medical information. We spoke for a minute about whether or not we should bring the medical to our pediatrician before accepting this referral. We easily decided to accept the referral with no further consultation. There was very little medical information and it would have made no difference what the doctor said. Joshua was chosen for us and we did not consider turning that gift away.

I was both very emotional AND busy, so I texted our family that we had seen our son's face. I offered to show his picture to anyone who wanted to come to our house and "meet" him. It was important to me that his siblings and grandparent's see him before others.

My parents left their jobs to come to my office together to "meet" our boy.

I spent the afternoon trying to get through my pile of work!

I picked up the kids from school and Sierra had jammed her finger very badly playing football with the boys. It was really swollen and purple. She was fighting off tears. I winked to her and told her that the day was going to get lots better soon. She knew what I meant right away, but kept it a secret. I did not want the boys that carpool with us to know before Krissy who walks home.

As soon as our carpool buddies headed home I gathered my four fabulous kids together in front of the computer and showed them the picture of their little brother. We all laughed at how cute he was! I printed each of the kids a picture for their very own. We were all so excited.

Grammy stopped to see right after that. She was immediately in love.

We had a meeting to plan a fund raiser for our friends and boy was everyone surprised when the kids proudly showed each person the picture of their little brother as they arrived. It was very fun for the kids to be the tellers!

Joshua G. we did not doubt for a minute that you would be our son. I had worried I would not know, but I knew. So did your dad. We loved you and wanted you from the first moment we saw your face. Truly we loved you and wanted you even before that, but it was certainly exciting to put you face - your deep penetrating eyes, your perfect lips, and sweet little ears together with all the love and longing we were feeling. The waiting now to hold you and hug you and kiss you and read to you and to rock you and to pray with you sleeping on my lap is harder than any wait I have ever had.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Timket, is the Ethiopian holiday that commemorates Christ's baptism in the Jordan River. It is the most important and colorful event in their year.

The festival begins in Timket Eve, January 18th. (today)

According to an Ethiopian epic called Kebra Negast the Ark of the Covenant was abducted from Jerusalem and brought to Ethiopia during the first millennium BC. It is the most sacred element of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Early on Timket Eve, about 2PM, replicas of the Ark, covered by silks are solemnly carried by priests from each church to a nearby body of water. They are accompanied by a procession of tens of thousands of church members and believers.
Pictured above is a priest at the beginning of the procession.

More priests as part of the procession. They are dressed so beautifully.

The Ark is covered in silks. It is typically in the center of the church and no one is allowed close to it. So, Timket is one of very few opportunities believers have to be close to their most sacred object.

The procession is a loud and festive affair. Believers are chanting, dancing, drum-beating, horn blowing, prayer-stick-waving, and sistra (a musical instrument) rattling. It reenacts scenes described in the Old Testament.
As evening falls, priests and believers participate in an overnight vigil.
As dawn approaches a hymn is spontaneously started that spreads through the crowd.

The priest blesses the water at day break, and the celebration reaches its climax.

Believers are eager to get a splash of the blessed water and renew their vows.

Some believers jump right into the water.
The festival continues until the third day which is dedicated to the Archangel Mikael. (I did not find much information about that.) On the third day the Arks are carried back to their respective churches with the same dancing, singing, and instrument playing as before.

It is a family/community celebration like no other. I had to add this sweet boy's picture dressed so perfectly in his shama.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Learning Amharic

Amharic is the national language of Ethiopia. It is written in an artistic looking script. It is officially a version of the Ge'ez script called fidel. Because each character in the fidel script is actually a combination of several English sounds, it is very hard to transliterate. (Transliterate means to translate the meaning to English and also the script to our alphabet.) There is no standard way to transliterate Amharic to English, so you will often see the same word spelled several different ways.

I have purchased an Amharic CD and listening to it in my vehicle. (It is not a popular move with my passengers!) I am trying to learn a few things to make communication easier when we first meet Joshua.

Here are the words I am working on this week:
Mother - enat
Father - abat
I love you - ewadeshalo
Brother - wundim
Sister - ehit
Dog - woosha
Monkey - zinjuro
Grandfather - wund ayat
Grandmother - sayt ayat
Ball - kwas
Car - mukeeina
Airplane - awroplan
Cup - seenee

I am sure that Joshua will pick up English much faster than I am picking up Amharic, but hopefully the more I know the less frustrating his first days with us will be. In the long-term my biggest concern is bonding, but I feel like the sooner we can communicate the easier bonding will be.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Our friends accepted a referral for 2, three year old boys this week! I am so excited for them, their sons, and Joshua. These boys are in the same orphanage that Joshua will come from. All three boys will probably play together in Ethiopia and then they will have friends within a few blocks once we get them all home. They will be able to grow up together! They will go to church together! It is just so cool!

We are having a dinner and silent auction to help our friends raise some funds on Jan. 30. It will be at our church from 4:30 to 7:30. We will serve stuffed baked potatoes. The silent auction is one in which you purchase tickets for $1 each. Then you put as any tickets as you wish in the jar near the item you would like to win. A winner will be drawn for each item at the end of the night. There are a combination of gift cards, merchandise, and service coupons that have been donated for you to bid on. We will also have a stuffed animal adoption center for the kids. The kids can buy a ticket making it possible for them to adopt the stuffed animal of their choice. We plan to give all the animals Ethiopian names. Doesn't it sound like a fun night? If you want more details, give me a call/email. I would love to see you there!

I am still hoping that we get to travel to Ethiopia with these friends. I think it would be so nice for the boys. However, I am OK either way. We would have to receive our referral in the next week or so in order for us to travel together, and while we are ready and expectant - waiting is OK too.

I have been doing tons of reading and research since we started this process. I finally took the time today to add a book and on-line resource list to my blog. I have only included the resources that I give 2 thumbs up. I plan to continue to add to the list.

I also added a button for a cool Valentine offer. When you buy a t-shirt, a pair of shoes and a shirt will be give to an orphan in Ethiopia. The t-shirts are cute and priced at $25. They have women's t-shirts and unisex ones. They even have children's sizes. Clicking on the button will give you all the details.

Have a super Saturday!

Friday, January 15, 2010


I received an email from the head of God's Children Adoption Agency today. GCAA handled our home study. They are a christian organization. I have total respect and trust for them based on our experience. Anyway, if you are looking for a way to help children/orphans in Haiti here is what Amy wrote.

Hello families and friends,

We have been contacted by a number of you desiring to help an orphanage in Haiti. We have connections with three reputable orphanages. I have spoken to representatives from all three orphanages ant they are in desperate need of funds for medical supplies, formula, blankets, and food.

The three orphanages are:
Reach out to Haiti, near Port-au-Prince (www.reachouttohaiti.com)
God's Littlest Angels in Haiti (www.godslittlestangelsinhaiti.org)
Children of the Promise Orphanage, in Cap Haitian (www.childrenofthepromise.org)

If you would like to give to the above three orphanages, you may do so directly.

I would also invite you to visit Rhyan Buettner's blogspot. She is from Fergus Falls, MN and is currently serving in Port-au-Prince. She is doing an amazing job of explaining not only what is happening, but how it affects her and those around her. You can read it at www.becausehecalled.blogspot.com

Lastly, I want to urge you to continue to pray...May God bless you.


***To check out God's Children Adoption Agency, Inc you can go to www.adoptgodschildren.com
We had a wonderful experience doing our home study with Lindsey. (Lindsey is Amy's daughter.) I have heard some people tell how horrible their home study process was, ours was wonderful. We looked forward to meeting with Lindsey. I appreciated her wisdom and advice. I will be so excited to introduce her to Joshua. Their agency also handles the placement part of the adoption process as well. We chose to use IAN as our placement agency. I would be totally comfortable using GCAA, but we started working with IAN before we had chosen anyone to do the home study and it has felt right to continue with them.

My heart goes out to the people of Haiti. What a terrible tragedy they are facing. When I received this email with some contacts of real people/organizations that could use my funds immediately I wanted to pass them on.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


It has been an emotional roller coaster of a week. It started with me feeling totally thrilled. I was absolutely thrilled to be a waiting mom. I had submitted all the paperwork that everyone needed, and for the moment all I had to do was wait. It was a delicious feeling.

Then some events took place that caused me to really think about the process of receiving a referral. I had not given it much thought, and once I began to think about it it was overwhelming. How would I know if the child they refer to me is "Joshua?" How could I discern God's will? What if there was more than one waiting child? Will I discuss the referred child with anyone other than Chad? When is it OK to share his picture? How much background information is appropriate to give curious people? I had pretty much stressed myself out, all of the sudden the idea of having to choose my son was too much!

This morning I was vacuuming at like 7:15 AM. (Now that is a sure sign of a stressed mom) My thoughts were racing about how unnatural this process seemed. It just felt so wrong to choose to accept a child. God suddenly broke through my thoughts and reminded me that he has chosen me. (Boy am I thankful!) Being chosen is a wonderful gift. What a beautiful reassurance.

I felt much more peaceful immediately, but of course my humanness was just starting to crack through when I got to my office. I absently flipped my scripture calendar to today's date and God reassured me once again with these words. "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." Jeremiah 33:3

So I am back to basking in the glow of waiting. I have no idea what our referral process will be like, when it will happen, or how we will discern God's will. BUT I do know that if I call to Him, he will answer me and tell me the things I do not know. God is so good and so patient. I am so grateful.

**I do confess that I jump just a little every time my cell-phone rings. I was hoping it was not noticeable, but my sweet husband who knows me so well called me on it. It's OK, I love that he knows me so well.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Focus on Fitness

I am one of the lucky people that enjoys exercise. I love to work out, especially to run. Sometimes in the midst of working out, I hate it. Gasp! I admit it! However, the feelings of success, power, and peace that follow a good run make it so worthwhile. I often say that my brain rests when I run. My brain tends to run at all other times these days, so a brainless run on the treadmill is a welcome relief!

Even though I truly enjoy exercise, I struggle to fit it into my busy days. To get out of bed an hour early is such a drag sometimes. This January I have chosen to work out with a new purpose in mind. Strength!

Joshua will, God-willing, come home this year. When he arrives he will not be 7lbs 9oz like his siblings were. In his case the heavier he is the happier we will be! (I worry so about him being hungry.) One way I can prepare for his arrival is to strengthen my arms, back, and abs. The stronger I am, the easier it will be to hold and carry him.

When our first four kids were three we were not carrying them or holding them very much anymore. We were transitioning them to be "big kids." We plan to hold, carry, and rock Joshua as much as possible. We were not able to hold, carry, and rock him as a baby, so we will take advantage of every opportunity to snuggle up once he is here. Clinically speaking, all that cuddle time is a very important part of the bonding and attachment process.

It is also something I really look forward to as his mom. All you moms out there, you know that feeling you get somewhere between your arms and heart when you are longing for a baby? Like your arms are empty yet ache all at the same time? (I can not be the only mom who experienced this type of "baby fever.") One of the things that reassures me that what God has in mind for our family is a little boy NOT a baby is that my arms do not have that feeling, but my LAP does. Is that a fun and exciting reason to lift weights and do push-ups or what?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Will you really call him Joshua?

I always refer to our future son as, Joshua. But will we really call him that?

In Ethiopia children are typically named a Biblical name or a name that means something. For example: Abebe - "he has flourished/grown" Bereket - "blessing" Fasika - "Easter" Tesfaye - "hope"

Ethiopians are given a first name at birth and their "last" name is their father's first name. Women do not take their husband's name when they marry. Which means that traditionally parents and children do not share a name. People are known by their first name. They are referred to as Ato (Mr.) Chad or Woizerit (Miss) Krissy or Woizero (Mrs.) Alicia. (I suspect that tracing one's family tree is very difficult since the "name chain" lasts only one generation.)

Some families who adopt do not change their child's name. Others do. I agree with both. At the moment we do plan to call our son Joshua. I personally want to give our son a name, just like we gave our other children names. I also think that it is hard for a child to have a name that is unfamiliar and hard to pronounce and spell. (My personal bias of course.) I am also very attached to the name "Joshua" because I feel like it came directly from God. If you recall as we were considering adoption the name "Joshua" settled in my heart. It is not a name that we had ever discussed in the naming of our other children. When we discovered that Joshua means Jehovah Saves, that kind of settled it. I also felt reassured once again when I learned the criteria Ethiopian parent's use in choosing a name. "Joshua" is both Biblical and has a perfect meaning. So unless something happens to change our minds, he will truly be Joshua.

What is still undetermined is his middle names. He will have 2. One will be his Ethiopian name. While we do plan to call him Joshua, we most definitely want to honor his Ethiopian heritage. I have worked hard to learn about Ethiopian culture. I plan to teach our son what I can. I hope that he is proud of his heritage. One way to show our pride in that heritage is to use his Ethiopian name.

His other middle name will be Chad. I always said I would name all my sons Chad, because I love and respect both of the Chads in my life so much. (I have one brother whose name is Chad, and I married a man with the same name. Jamison's middle name is also Chad.) I have not changed my mind. I am not sure which middle name will come first though. I guess I should leave a little mystery in that?

We have never before announced the names of our children before they arrived. I never wanted to hear everyone's comments about the name, and keeping the name a secret was kind of fun. This time is different. I do not have the maternity clothes, huge belly, and back ache to attest for our soon-to-be arrival, so having a name makes Joshua more real to us all. He is not an adoption, but a flesh and blood child of God. His name also reminds me how central God's plan is in all of this. However, I am most anxious to put a face with his name!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Our First Genna

Ethiopians celebrate Christmas, which they call Genna, on Jan. 7. We decided to have a little party ourselves. It was a completely American version of some of their traditions, but we had fun and tried some new food.

I started our Ethiopian meal with a spicy toast recipe I found. It is called kategna. In Ethiopia they would make it with injera, but the recipe suggested using flour tortillas since injera is hard to find in America.

  • mix 1/4 tsp each of cayenne pepper and paprika, along with 1/2 tsp garlic powder with 1 T. of butter
  • spread butter mixture on 2 flour tortillas
  • put in toaster oven or under broiler until the tortillas are crisp

I used half as much spice as the recipe suggests since my kids are not crazy about hot food. We all liked this recipe. It was hot even though even I cut down on the spices. This would be part of breakfast in Ethiopia, but we used it as an appetizer.

Our main course was Doro Wat (chicken stew) pictured above.

Doro Wat

  • 1 broiler chicken, 2-3 lbs cut into 8 pieces with skin removed (I just used chicken thighs because I have no clue how to cut up a whole chicken!)
  • 2 cups onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 2T tomato paste
  • 4-6 whole hard-boiled eggs, shells removed
  • 1tsp each of ginger, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic, salt, and black pepper


  1. Make several cuts in each piece of chicken with a knife. Put the chicken pieces in a bowl with the lemon juice, salt, and 1 cup water. Put in the refrigerator. Let the chicken soak for 15-30 minutes.
  2. Put the butter in a stew pot, add the onions and cook them until they are browned.
  3. Add the spices, tomato paste, and broth.
  4. Dry the chicken parts and add them to the stew pot. Cover the pot and cook on low for 20 minutes.
  5. Add the hard-boiled eggs. Spoon sauce over the eggs. Cook covered on low until the chicken is done and the sauce has thickened, about 10-20 minutes.

Serve over injera or other flat bread. (I used some multi-grain wraps as fake injera. I also cut the spices in half for this recipe.)

In Ethiopia, food is served over injera. Utensils are not used to eat, so bites of food are broken apart and rolled in injera. There were mixed reviews in our house about eating without utensils. It was a little strange, but kind of fun once the food cooled off a little. We all liked this recipe. I did skip the hard-boiled eggs. My family thought it sounded too weird, and I really wanted this to be a fun experiment, so I didn't push my luck.

This recipe is called doro wat or chicken stew, but it was more like chicken in a sauce. I ate the leftovers today for lunch over rice. It was tasty!

These recipes both came from a book titled Foods of Ethiopia by Barbara Sheen.

This is Jamison eating his Genna dinner. He really liked it. He has even requested I make it more often than just once a year for Genna.

This is Sierra sporting her Genna gift. In Ethiopia gifts are not usually given. They are certainly not the focus. If gifts are given they are small gifts of clothing. Well, in our frozen tundra sometimes small gifts of clothing don't cut it. What Sierra really needed was a big, warm winter coat! I do not know if we will always give our children gifts for eanna, but we wanted to this year as a reward. Chad and I did not wrap one Christmas gift for our kids this year. We had told them that our trip to Magic Kingdom would be their Christmas gift. It was hard not to shop for them, but we wanted to stick to our word. I was so proud that I did not hear them complain about the lack of gifts one time! Not even when other kids asked what their parents gave them for Christmas. Not even after listening to the friend list all the gifts they received. So, I thought they deserved a little reward. In sticking with the Ethiopian tradition, they each received clothes. I tried to make sure it was an item that they needed and would enjoy. They were very excited to receive the surprise.

We ended our celebration playing Life. In Ethiopia they play a type of field hockey. I was not up for a rousing game in my family room and it was too cold to play outdoors on the ice - so we settled for a board game.
So there you have our very American version of Genna. Hopefully it is the thought that counts!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Our new FAQ

Now that everyone has heard our story of how/why we came to the decision to adopt, our most frequently asked question is, "when will it happen and who will travel?"

The truth is we do not know when it will happen exactly. My best guess is that we will travel to bring Joshua home between May and July. Those dates are simply a speculation, based on the fact that we should receive a referral before too long. We will travel about 4 months after we accept a referral.

My mom, Krissy, and I plan to travel to Ethiopia to bring our son home. It will break Chad's heart to stay home, but we do not think him being away and out of touch for 8-10 days is a possibility for our business. While we have both left, and will do so again soon, we have always been in close contact with our employees. Close contact is not a possibility in Ethiopia. So, Chad will hold down the fort at home.

Krissy has been determined to go with since we first brought up the possibility of a little brother from Ethiopia. She has never wavered in her support for our decision to adopt. She has been 100% sure that it is the right decision for us. That says so much to me because there are not all that many decisions we make that she agrees with these days. At 13, that is totally age appropriate - but her total dedication to Joshua makes me weepy. She is working hard to raise/earn the money for her plane ticket. I am very excited to have her come with. I have always hoped that each of our kids would be able to go on a foreign mission trip as teens. I had no idea that her mission trip would be this personal, but that makes it so much more powerful to all of us. Krissy is excellent with children and will be a huge help. She has promised to keep a journal of her thoughts and feelings during our trip. I think that will be a wonderful gift to Joshua some day. I think when he is a teenager and wondering about where he came from hearing about it through his sister who saw his country of birth as a teen will be very powerful. We will also be bringing donations to the orphanage and perhaps she can do some work there.

My mom will be coming with too. I can not explain how thankful I am to have her coming. It is such a relief to have another adult, and she is definitely my first choice! She and Krissy have such a special relationship, so the three of us will be a great team. Dad bought her a new video camera for Christmas, she will be our trip recorder. I am so grateful for our family support. The love that has been poured out on us and this little boy we are all waiting to meet is unbelievable.

We will stay in a guest house. A guest house is similar to a Bed and Breakfast in the US. We will get Joshua on a Monday, meet with the American Embassy on a Wednesday to receive his travle documents, and fly home Friday. It is about 30 hours of airtime each way!

That is as much as I know for now. I hope it answers some of your questions!

**We have good friends that will adopt 2 children form the same orphanage. We are side by side on the waiting lists. So my prayer request for today is that we would be able to travel together. Wouldn't that be incredible? Wouldn't it be good for the kids to have friends to sit with on the plane and play with? Wouldn't the support we could give each other be wonderful?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Work is hard right now... really hard. Like what did we do to deserve this hard. Like perhaps The Enemy is at work hard. Yet we are thankful to be busy, when many lack work. Even in the midst of the multitude of details that are trying to take the wind out of our sails we are truly thankful, and we are working hard to focus on that which truly matters. I read this quote yesterday,

"Adversity doesn't build character - it reveals it."

While I am certainly praying for easier days - for God to calm the storm, I also pray that our character in the midst of it all would be pleasing to Him. I'd love it if you would pray for us too.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ethiopian Flag

Here is what I have learned about the flag of Ethiopia.

The top band of green represents Ethiopia's fertile land.
  • Agriculture is Ethiopia's major industry.

The middle yellow represents Ethiopia's religious freedom.
  • The predominate faith in Ethiopia is Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, however Islam and traditional/ tribal spiritual practices coexist without tension.

The bottom red band represents the blood that has been shed to protect the country.
  • Ethiopia was Africa's first independent nation. Except for a brief period in the 1940's Ethiopia succeeded in keeping its independence, even as many other countries were colonized by Western Forces.

The central blue disk stands for peace and prosperity.

The star's points are at equal distance from each other to signify the equality of all of Ethiopia's ethnic groups, faiths, and genders.
  • Ethiopia is truly multiethnic. It is the home to more than 80 ethnic groups, or tribes. If you traveled all over Ethiopia you would hear about 82 languages, with over 200 dialects. An effort is made to have minorities represented in the government.
  • All faiths are treated fairly.
  • All people over age 18 receive voting rights.
  • Ethiopia adopted its current constitution in 1995, it grants equal rights to all citizens.

The shining rays are representative of hope for a bright future.

This has been the national flag since February 6, 1996.

The colors of the Ethiopian flag have been adopted by many other African nations. Thus the colors green, yellow, and blue have become known as the pan-African colors.

***Our IAN case worker emailed today that all the paperwork is a go, except Chad's letter from his doctor which was improperly notarized. I have a plan to get that redone quickly and simply... I hope. Notaries at the doctor have proven difficult. I mailed the I-600A to the USCIS office in Texas today. They will send us the date we are supposed to be in Fargo for the fingerprinting they require. It has to be done when and where the government requires. Please pray the appointment we are given is not between February 8 and the 15 as we will be in Mexico.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year's Aspirations

I first saw this video on another blog. It really made an impact on me. Then Chad and I went to the movie "The Blind Side" last night. I can not post that on my blog, but go see it. It is beautiful and entertaining and thought provoking. It is a must see in my book.

Anyway, I am left feeling kind of stingy. Chad and I do not have a ton of extra time and money, but we do our best to share what we have. However, I often am stingy about opening myself up to love deeply. I find my heart holding back just a little. After all really putting my whole heart, all my love, into something is PAINFUL. I am sure to be hurt deeply at some point. My friends, family, employees, and children are sure to disappoint me. They are sure to misunderstand my intentions, judge me and find me lacking. Keeping up a little wall, holding back just a tiny bit, is so much safer.

Now don't get me wrong, I do love and I love deeply. But I am not sure I couldn't love more deeply, more abundantly, less self-protectively. So that is what I aspire to do this year, LOVE. Take big risks and love even when I know I will most likely get hurt in the process. Because as a very wise 13 yr old once told me, "Alicia, if it is not worth getting hurt over is it really worth it at all?"

I added a couple blog links to my blog last week. One is a blog called Ordinary Hero. Ordinary Hero is a non-profit organization started by a mom. Her motto is Change the World For One. Don't you love that? Think on it a minute. At first your mind may go strictly to adoption since that is what started my blog in the first place. But think deeper. We can each change the world for one person every day. Maybe we listen to the waitress' story about her broken down car. Maybe you tell your child it is OK when they break your favorite coffee mug, and mean it. Maybe you donate money to a charity you love. Maybe you treat yourself to an ice cream cone. Changing the world for one does not have to be a huge thing, it is more about looking for ways to bless others. To risk LOVING them.

My secondary goal for this year is to spend more time investing in things that will have a long-term impact. I spend a lot of time scrubbing floors, dusting, wiping counters, ect... being surrounded by a tidy environment makes me feel good. But does it really have a long-term impact? I sometimes sacrifice time working out, really listening to the people around me, and all kinds of other fun things in order to do the little things that make me feel calmer and more peaceful for the moment. So I will work at petting my dog more and sweeping up his hair less because I know when it all has been said and done I will be more grateful for the relationships I have invested in than having a tidy house. Its going to be hard for me though, I really love a clean kitchen! (Sad but true)

I am so excited for 2010. It is a year that will change me forever. Please continue to bless me with your love and prayers. I have a feeling I will need them more than ever before.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Congratulations Auntie Teresa and Uncle Jeremy!

Chad's sister got married today. The wedding took place in the Bahamas. I watched the clock all day thinking of them. We are so happy to have Jeremy as an official member of the family. Congrats! We wish you all the best and can not wait to see pictures.
On a whole different note, the awareness that our family will expand soon has officially sunk in with Chad. He bought me a new vehicle today to accommodate our growing crew. It is a Ford Expedition that will seat 8. The only thing on wheels bigger, other than a school bus, is a 15 passenger van! It will fit our family and cargo much more comfortably than my Tahoe. (Just in case you think there is a typo in the vehicle description, he really did buy me a Ford. There was a time that never would have been a possibility, but he loves his truck so much his mind is changing. It was also a really good deal, for a big SUV that is.)
Chad loves to buy and trade vehicles, but this trade happened in record time. The last time he traded for me it took him at least 3 months to find just the right deal. This time it happened in 3 days! A sign that this process is about to move fast forward? or just good luck? Time will tell!

Sierra's Letter to her Little Brother