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

Friday, May 28, 2010

As Promised...

My favorite picture of Joshua Gebeyehu!

I bet you would fly across the world for this little boy, too!

I love love love this picture! I have been saving it just for today. See the rings he is holding? We sent them along with his photo album and poster. I have seen him in several different photos grasping them. I have the rest of the set in my carry on bag so I can be sure to bring them to him. Please pray that we all link together as perfectly as Joshua's rings.

Our bags are packed and loaded, we will leave for the airport in just a few minutes. I leave you with some words from the book of Joshua, that will be strengthening and encouraging me this week.

"Have I not commanded you be strong and courageous,
Do not be terrified
Do not be discouraged.
For the Lord your God will be with you
WHEREVER you go."
Joshua 1:9

"As for me and my house
we will serve the Lord."
Joshua 24:15

We return Sunday, June 6 at 3:42 PM. If you would like to be at the airport to welcome us home you are more than welcome. Please wait for us on the main floor of the airport. We would like to have a few private minutes as a family before we show off our precious boy to the world.

I can hardly wait to walk off the plane and be reunited as a complete family.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Travel Prayer Requests

My first request is that if you feel led to pray for us... just do it. Pray for whatever God places on your heart, He knows much better than I do what my needs are!

Here are some of my requests:

  • God's continued blessing on this process and that we would continue to feel His presence each step of the way.
  • Safe travel, on-time flights, health for all of us
  • Rest... we are all very tired.
  • Gebeyehu! Oh the changes our Joshua Gebeyehu faces.
  • That I would ask all the right questions, and that I would be protective, but not over-protective of Gebeyehu.
  • Smooth transitions.
  • That each of us would see and feel God in a whole new way.
  • That we would be a blessing to those we encounter.
  • That we would be able to gather information to help ease the wait for parents here.
  • For fun, joy, and laughter.
  • For peace of mind and heart for all of you - my family and friends waiting for us to return. (I know it is hard not to be going for some and worrisome that we are going for others.)
  • For a successful surgery on my sister-in-laws hand.
  • For final VBS preparations at my church.

Oh friends, I could go on and on -BUT I do not feel like I need to. He has this all covered. I have no idea what the next week and a half will entail, however my heart is filled to overflowing with peace and joy. I am so excited to walk through this journey just to see what will happen along the way. It is a privilege to GO, to SERVE, to FOLLOW, and to TRUST. May God truly be glorified through this trip.

*** I have so appreciated the cards, texts, emails, and verbal prayers that have blanketed this week of travel preparations. I have gotten more done than is humanly possible. I am feeling calm and excited, no anxiety. Please do not stop. I need you to pray us through every step of the way.


Tonight we will be sitting around a campfire at our favorite lake eating s'mores. What a fun way to celebrate the last day of school!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Answers to your questions

Warning... this might be a long post!

I would like to take a few minutes to answer a few questions I have been asked this week.

What will your time in Ethiopia be like?
We will arrive in Ethiopia at 9PM their time (remember they are 8 hours AHEAD of us) on Saturday. After getting through the airport, a driver from our guest house will be waiting with our names on a card to drive us and all our stuff to the BEAUTIFUL guest house. I have had many on-line friends stay at the same guest house and have given it wonderful reviews. I have seen pictures both on their website and on my friends' blogs. We will have a suite with 2 bedrooms, a private bathroom, a small kitchen and dining room. There is an Internet connection in our room, but the Internet can be unreliable in Ethiopia so DO NOT be worried if you do not hear from me.

On Sunday, we plan to sleep in, have breakfast, get our things settled, and then call agency representatives and arrange a time to pick up my boy! We will spend as much time at the Care Center as Gebeyehu desires and then return with him to the guest house. The first order of business will be a bath, etc... and we will go from there.

We have hired a driver for the week via email. He was referred to me by another on-line friend. She totally enjoyed him. He speaks English and will act as guide, translator, and driver. I have been told he will even help us bargain when we go shopping.

We hope to visit Juniper Cafe , Alert Leprosy Hospital and Gift Shop, Children's Heaven, Entonto Mountains, do some shopping, eat at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant, drink Ethiopian coffee (lots of Ethiopian coffee!) and spend time at both the Care Center and Sele Enat (the orphanage that our agency uses). It is unclear how many of these things Gebeyehu and I will be able to do. We will ask permission when in Ethiopia and do what agency staff thinks is best. I will also be very careful to make sure Joshua Gebeyehu is enjoying being out and about. My absolute top priority is to bond with my son, if that is best done in my room at the guest house I will spend every minute there. Mom and Krissy will definitely explore though!

On Wednesday, we have our appointment with the US Embassy to get his travel documents. This will likely take a good portion of the day.

We do not know if we will be able to meet with any birth family members or not, but IF we do that meeting usually takes place Thursday or Friday.

Saturday we will go to Children's Heaven to deliver the girls/women's shoes. All the rest will go to the Care Center earlier in the week.

Late Saturday night we board the plane to fly home.

We arrive home late Sunday afternoon.

How am I feeling?
I am a kaleidoscope of emotions. I am so excited I can hardly stand it. I get teary at the weirdest times, like walking through Walmart and realizing that next time I have a cart in Walmart the seat will not hold eggs but Gebeyehu! I am totally chill at the weirdest times, like talking to a mom who adopted her child at a very similar age and totally gets it even more than I do thus far. I am focused on getting through all my lists. I miss my family (especially Chad) all ready. I am tired, way tired - but have enough adrenaline to get me through no problem! I am so relieved that my and his wait is nearly over. I am nervous about our reaction to each other. I am uncertain about how I will react to a country that I love so much, but have not yet experienced. I am in AWE of this whole process.
How is packing going?
Awesome! I have gotten an amazing amount of stuff done this week. We are basically totally packed to go to Ethiopia. I have the camper packed for the rest of my family for this weekend. I have groceries bought for Chad and the kids for next week. I have almost my whole list finished at work. I have Joshua's room ready and tonight we installed his car seat!

It is so exciting!
Tomorrow I will answer your most important question... how can we pray for you.
Thank you for all your love and support and prayers.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

3 days until we leave !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By: Krissy

We leave in 3 short but also long days!!!!!!!! We are all finishing up some of the last minute details before we leave.
I have finally finished all of my homework for the rest of the year. Saddly I don't get to miss any school. Fortunately I will be able to attend summer school. Summer school starts the day after i get back from Ethiopia... .... of course.
We have all been deciding what we are going to do while we are in Africa. We are going shopping of course and quite a few other things. We have gotten our prescriptions already... ... but we might get some other prescriptions just in case. We have most of our bags packed already. All I have to pack still are last minute things.

My regular bag has mostly things that we are bringing for the kids at the care center and the orphanage, sele enat. More than half of my bag is full of those type of things but I still had room for 10 yes 10 outfits. I still have room in my bag though.

I am extremely blessed to be going. I cannot believe that everything that I have to worry about is paid for and ready to go.

I just wanted to thank everyone that gave me money to help me go. I also would like to thank everyone that let me work for them for money for my trip.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Yesterday my mom brought the shoes Krissy collected to my Uncle Steve. Steve took care of shipping them out via FedEx today! The next time you see these boxes they will be in Ethiopia.

A big thank you for coordinating the shipping Steve!

One of the most exciting things about our journey to bring Joshua home has been witnessing the extreme generosity of so many people.

My mom mentioned to the ladies she works alongside of that the nannies that care for Joshua Gebeyehu wear scrubs. She brought a suitcase into the break room and asked if they had any scrubs that they would like to donate. They quickly filled the suitcase and another to overflowing with cheery scrubs for the nannies.

Aren't they beautiful?

I pray that they bless the ladies who will wear them in some small way. These ladies cared for my son so lovingly these last months. I am hoping they will feel our love, gratitude, and appreciation each time they wear one of these.

We have also been blessed with totally unexpected cash donations these last two weeks. I am praying for God's guidance in how to use these gifts. It is really humbling and exciting to have all the bills paid. When we began this process, we had a "partial plan" in regards to the financing of things. God showed us where to start and called us to trust Him for the balance. It has been truly amazing. Not only did he provide enough, our cup is running over, and I will be able to watch for opportunities to give while in Ethiopia. I look forward to telling you who God has in mind to receive these gifts.
4 days my friends! 4 days!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Pressed but not crushed"

One of the scriptures our pastor used today summed up the last winter. It was a hard, hard fall and winter.

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed
perplexed,but not in despair
persecuted, but not abandoned
struck down, but not destroyed."
2 Corinthians 4:8-9

This winter pretty much EVERYTHING (with the exception of our relationships with family and friends) was extremely difficult. Work felt like labor in vain. Adoption proceedings felt so helpless - the waiting with NO control was suffocating. The difficulties in life were surrounding us like hungry wolves, circling for the kill. We were hard pressed.

We could not understand what more God wanted of us, what more we had to learn. What we were missing. We were totally perplexed.

Customers were unfair. Half-truths were told. Promises were broken. We felt persecuted.

No matter how hard we tried, no matter how much we prayed, no matter how much we hoped, no matter how much we trusted circumstances did not change (at least as quickly as I wished). We felt struck down.

BUT we were not crushed. We did not despair - we did get frustrated and perplexed - but we never lost doubt that He was in control. We were certainly never abandoned. Destroyed, not a chance!

It was a winter I would never want to relive, yet there was much beauty in it. I felt God's presence, His touch, His love, His comfort, His faithfulness more than ever before. I heard His voice so clearly in the midst of that storm.

I did not enjoy that storm. It hurt. I was barely crawling through some days. Yet I was by the grace of God, able to hold on to the fact that there are many seasons in life. Some are hard, some are easy. I knew that life would not be that hard forever.

I rejoice today to report that we have been given a bit of a reprieve. The work situation that caused the most trauma is nearly resolved. (Please pray that it is completely resolved this week. I would love to have that totally in the past before Joshua Gebeyehu joins our home.) And, as you know, our adoption is final. There is almost no wait left. God is faithfully completing the work He started in my heart last fall.

What will the next season be? I am hoping that life will stay sunny - but there is always a chance of rain - and sometimes it floods. The real work of parenting Joshua Gebeyehu begins in just a few days... I have no idea how easy or difficult that will be. I have no idea how all our children will adapt. I have no idea how Chad and I will adapt. I do know that we will NOT be crushed nor abandoned. He will keep us safe in his arms.

I do not know what season you are in. It may be a season of peace and tranquility. It may be a season of trials and adjustments. It may be a season of violent storms. It may be a season where seeds that have been planted are carefully tended and begin to grow. I do know that no matter what season you are in the midst of, He is right there beside you. Lean on Him, Reach out, ask for His guidance, listen for His voice, thank Him for your blessings, trust Him to get you through. If you do, it's gonna be alright.

Thank you Jesus for being ALL that we need. Thank you for being right next to me when the waters rise. You were so faithful. I felt close to drowning a time or two, but You always helped to keep my head above the rising waters. I will trust in You.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


I read the following statement recently on how Ethiopian's view the adoptions of their children.

"Every Ethiopian child deserves a family, but NOT every family deserves an Ethiopian child."

I think that is such a beautiful statement. It really embodies the value Ethiopian's place on their children. I am humbled to be chosen to parent my Ethiopian son. I will never be deserving of Gebeyehu or any of my children for that matter, but I will spend every day for the rest of my life doing my best for my kids.

6 days until take off.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Reasons for Rejoicing

  1. In 7 days we board a plane to pick up this little ray of sunshine. By Sunday or Monday, he will finally be opening the door for HIS mama. Our waiting is almost over my son.
  2. Our embassy appointment was confirmed today. Hip Hip Hooray!
  3. Chad and I took the better part of the day off to hang out together. We went for lunch, took a nap, and ran some errands at a leisurely pace.
  4. All the kids' end of the year projects for school have been turned in or presented. They still have classes until Thursday, but it is all fun and games.
  5. We have the shoes boxed up and ready to ship. We have been surprised by a few generous friends and the shipping costs are 100% covered by donations!
  6. Our friends FINALLY passed court! We will not be traveling together, which is a bummer. But the boys are officially theirs!
  7. We sold our old camper this week. That money will cover my and Joshua Gebeyehu's travel expenses.
  8. Brenna has her first loose tooth.
  9. My yard is mowed and my flowers are planted - some are even blooming.
  10. I am 70% packed and should only have one more "Walmart run" for supplies before we leave.
  11. I have all the paperwork we need to bring with to Ethiopia copied, filed, and ready to go.

"Sing to God, sing praises to His name,
Extol Him who rides the clouds-
His name is the Lord-
and rejoice before Him.
A father to the fatherless,
a defender of widows,
is God in His holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families."
Psalm 68: 4-6

I rejoice in you today, Jesus. Thank you for watching over each and every detail of this journey.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Parenting in the "Packing Zone"

May has been a very full month (and it is not over yet)! I have neglected to update on the many activities that are going on outside of the "packing zone."

Jamison and several buddies invented this can crusher. Their work was on display at local college along with the inventions of many other sixth grade students in our area.

Sierra (and BFF) are showing off their state projects. Sierra made a topographical map/model of our favorite camping/fishing/ tubing spot. She also had to write a short report.

My "little" cousin got married. Sierra and Brenna posed with her. The girls had a blast being a part of her special day, especially at the dance. My sweet Sierra is such a romantic. When my Uncle placed his daughters hand into the hand of her groom, Sierra did a little golf clap. She has no idea I noticed, it was a totally spontaneous reaction of joy.

Krissy baked a cake for Grammy's birthday. We drove out to celebrate with her. We were kind and let Riley come along. He found some manure to roll in. The kids could not stand the stink, so we stopped at a pet wash on the drive home and spent way too much time and money washing him back up. It was a birthday celebration we will always remember.

Jamison took part in the All City Sixth Grade Track Meet. He did the high jump for the first time and made it to the 4th round. He was very pleased.

His best race was the mile. He placed 7th.

I am especially grateful for my flexibly-rigid job these days. I got up at 4 AM to go into work this morning. There were a few things that absolutely had to be done today and I really wanted to spend the day at the track meet instead of the office. I am so lucky to have a job that allows me to work whatever hours I wish as long as I meet my deadlines. Thank you Chad for allowing me to be the mom I want to be!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I have been thinking and praying about how to describe/inform you of some of the things I have learned about attachment. I keep putting off this series of posts because I want them to be fresh in your mind when Gebeyehu comes home. I also have been trying to develop the right words. Now I am wondering why I waited because my brain is really full of travel plans, work details, end of school year festivities, etc... so please accept my attempt! I have read over a thousand pages of information about attachment. I will try to briefly and simply relay some of what I have learned.

Attachment is feeling connected, supported, adored, loved (in this case) by one's family.

In a perfect biological setting, attachment between parent and child begins before the baby is even born. The mother's feelings of love and anticipation of a baby's birth are transferred to her baby while in the womb. When the baby is born it recognizes the smell and sound of his mother. When he cries and his mother soothes him quickly, he learns to trust. When his mother rocks him and sings to him and kisses him and changes him this attachment between mother and child is strengthened. Each instance of love, nurturing, and acceptance builds on the one before it and a powerful attachment occurs.

In Joshua's case attachment will be fostered in the same way, but differently. Our "womb" time has only been the exchange of photos and a flood of prayers. He does not know my voice. He will not recognize my smell. He has suffered great losses in his short life, which will likely make attaching deeply to our family feel risky to his little heart. He will be plopped into my arms just like my belly babies were, but he has a history outside of my arms of love.

In order to foster attachment, we will parent him differently than we did our other children at age 2. But not so differently than we treated our first four as newborns. He has the need and right to be held and cuddled a lot! He will be fed anytime he is hungry day or night. We do our best to be very structured yet very nurturing. Routine will be a priority. We will not go out much.

In fact we plan to spend most of his first month at home, alone. We think it will be very important for him to learn who we are, and for us to learn who he is. We want him to learn who belongs at his house, so he will be able to identify who does not. We want him to start attaching to us in a deeper way than he attaches to the nice lady at the grocery store. We want him to feel safe - thus the routine, and nurturing structure being a huge priority.

From my comfortable position as an "arm chair psychologist" I suspect that Gebeyehu is very good at making initial attachments with people. I have received many updates about his sweet, friendly personality. He is begging to be held and gives kisses freely. It appears that he has figured out that a great way to get attention is to be adorable. That is wonderful, but we want to help him learn to attach deeply. We want him to know we are truly safe. We are here forever. We will love him when he is charming and when he is tantruming. We will begin that deep attachment by making his world small.

I also plan to keep our world small so that I will be paying attention! Joshua Gebeyehu will enter our world not having a clue what the rules are. He will not know how our household works or what we expect. In order to help him learn, I need to be able to focus. I focus best when my world is small. The more consistent I am, the easier it will be for him to trust and learn.

Please be prepared for our time of nesting. Do not be worried or insulted when we choose not to go out much or invite you over. Our absolute top priority for this summer is parenting. We plan to pour as much energy as possible into our children. We plan to have a super time getting to know each other. We plan to have sweet days, tough days, funny days, lonely days, loving days. We plan to discover how we all fit together as a family of 7.

10 days until our plane takes off!

**This explanation of attachment is extremely simplified. Please realize that it is HUGELY important. If you would like to know more, check out my book list. I would be willing to loan you any of my resources.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Our turn!

I asked Liz (our coordinator at IAN) for a list of the children who are currently at the care center with Joshua Gebeyehu or at the orphanage, Sele Enat, where many other IAN kids are waiting for their forever families. She immediately sent me a list of 30+ children who are living with my boy. Some of these children have been referred to families. Others are waiting for a family to be found for them.

One of the things we will are most excited to do while we are in Ethiopia is visit these children. Krissy has chosen some treats to bring them. We have packed up a little candy. (Sorry waiting moms! I know you are worried about the kids' teeth already, but Krissy has been waiting to hand out candy since the first time she saw Joshua Gebeyehu with a sticky icky face!) We will also bring beach balls, stickers, and shoes. My mom has gathered a couple of suitcases of scrubs from her dept. at the hospital to give to the nannies. They often wear scrubs. We may also pick up some fruit or another healthier treat while there depending on what need we encounter.

My mom and Krissy plan to photograph and video these precious ones. We have been so grateful for the updates along the way! We are thrilled that it is finally our turn!

I posted a note on IAN's yahoo group asking the parent's of referred children to email me with any questions they might have. It is really fun for Krissy to see their questions. I think having a job while at the care center gives her purpose. I have little doubt that each question will be articulately answered, because when Krissy decides to do something - she does it well.

We have been asked by one mom to deliver a photo album to her boys. It just feels like such an honor.

One of the aspects that I dread about this trip is that some of the children we meet will be waiting. Some of the children do not have families waiting to pass court or travel to bring them home because no one has been found for them yet. There are about 6 boys that are currently on a list of "waiting children." There are 2 four year old little boys that I wish I could just tuck into my suitcase. I hate the idea of waiting children, hurting children, lonely children, true orphans waiting. Ever thought one could be waiting for you?

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I have been feeling overwhelmed lately. There is just so much to do... work, homework, dr. appts, haircuts, dentist, ortho., laundry, supper, yard work, exercise, grocery shopping, trip planning...! I feel like I can not keep up.

Saturday morning I was dusting my bedroom and I noticed the coaster on my bedside table. It says "simplify." I have really been thinking about how I could simplify my life.

To be honest I can think of many ways to simplify things, but they all involve spending more money. I could hire a gardener or a house cleaner, that would be the bomb! We could eat out more often. But all those simplify solutions do not work for my budget.

So, I ask you to inspire me. Do you have tips to simplify that save money instead of costing big bucks? I would love to hear your ideas!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Birth Certificate

I just received a birth certificate for Gebeyehu Chad D. It is such a cool document! It has a combination of Amharic script and English writing. It has both Ethiopian and American dates. Ask me to see it sometime. It really is cool!

Here is today's scripture on my desk calendar. I think it fits.

"Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations, "The Lord has done great
things for them." The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy."
Psalms 126 2-3
Some have asked our travel dates. We leave May 28 and return June 6. Everything continues to be right on track in Ethiopia.
The Lord has done great things for us this week and we are filled with joy!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


By Sierra

Last night was awesome. Dad picked us up at 4 to go meet Skillet in person. We got signed CDs and VIP passes. Then we waited in line to meet the band. We could hear John (the lead singer) talking to the group in front of us while we waited. Finally it was our turn. I gave John the binder I had made for the band. Inside the binder there was a page for each band member. I had written things I though about each person. Like John is...

John gave me a big high five and said thanks! Then I asked if they would all sign my shirt. They signed it! Then we took a picture and I got to stand by my role model Jen Ledger. Ben the guitar player noticed that I wrote about Jen last in the binder. I had written that I saved the best for last. Jen laughed about that.

After we were done with the band we chose our spot for the concert. We picked to stand in the very front by the drums. We had to wait an hour and a half for the concert to start.

The first band was "The Letter Black." The sound was not so good. "Red" was the second band. Their guitar player, Anthony, was talking and he started talking about 2 little girls in the front row. That was me and Brenna. He said he thought it was so cool to see us rocking out to Christian music. After he got done talking, he threw his guitar pick to dad so I could have it. It says RED on it and has his name on the back. When they were done performing he came over. He was going to give Brenna a big hug, but he was attacked by people so he just shook my and Brenna's hands.

After Red was done playing the crowd got a little overwhelming. They were pushing a lot and body surfing. The security guards were very concerned about me and Brenna so they told us we could jump over the fence whenever we wanted to. (I'm not goinna tell about Teresa getting stuck on the fence!) The security guards lifted me and Brenna over and then Dad lifted Jay over and then Dad jumped over and then Teresa jumped over. Jeremy was trying to block the people cuz they wanted our spot. So he got out last. Then we went way up to the top because all the other spots were full.

Then Skillet played.

And when they were performing they ask if there was a Sierra out there and so me and my aunt Teresa were screaming and jumping and so John was saying I can hear you but I can't see you. But Jen Ledger could see me and she was waving. Ahhh I was soooo happy! So John was reading off the binder. He said it was one of his favorite thing he'd been given in a while. And from screaming so much I lost my voice.

Last night was my favorite night ever (clap clap clap)! You should have been there!

I video taped a little bit when John was reading off the binder! Here it is, but first I have to say thanks for coming Teresa and Jeremy you guys rock just like


Rock On

Chad took Jamison, Sierra, and Brenna to the Skillet concert last night. Auntie Teresa and Uncle Jeremy joined them. (This is the same band we drove to Minneapolis to see in November.) They had the most amazing night. Since it is really Sierra's story to tell, she will blog about it later - but I am posting pictures now.

Front row, baby!


Here they are with the band AND the story gets even better, but that is for Sierra to tell. (Have I made you totally curious yet? You should be!) My favorite part of this picture is Sierra's HUGE grin. Remember who she dressed up as for Halloween... Jen Ledger. The cute little drummer that Sierra has her arm around in the picture! How many 10 year olds do you know that get to meet their "role model" (as Sierra calls Jen)?


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Plane Tickets Booked!!!

We (remember my mom and Krissy will travel with me) booked our plane tickets today. When I received the email with a subject line "Flight itinerary for Gebeyehu Chad D" I got all teary... and NOT from the price tag. He has a one way ticket to America, June 5 2010. Thank you Jesus!

We will be inside an airplane approximately 19 hours each way. We will fly a total of 15,655 miles round trip - 7562 each way! We will fly to Minneapolis then onto Amsterdam and finally into Addis Ababa. Same route coming home. Our longest flight is between Amsterdam and Addis. That flight will be in the air for around 9 hours. I am thrilled to fly directly into Minneapolis when we return to the US. It just seems like a clean simple route. Please continue to pray that it IS!

I was a little disappointed to not be able to leave Addis until Saturday. We will have clearance to leave any time after 5PM Friday and I really wanted to get Joshua Gebeyehu home to his daddy and siblings as soon as the law allowed. Leaving Friday did not work with the Amsterdam route to Ethiopia. Since we really liked this flight plan, we decided that staying the extra day. I was peaceful with the decision, but wondering what we would do to fill the day.

This morning I received an email for the director of Children's Heaven in Ethiopia. I had emailed her asking if we could visit her while in Ethiopia. Krissy was hoping to deliver the girls/ladies shoes to Children's Heaven. Hanna, the director, emailed me this morning stating that her girls would love to have the donated shoes. She kindly said that we could visit any day, but the best day would be Saturday! All the girls come on Saturdays for activities and she thought Krissy would really enjoy this time. So we have an awesome opportunity waiting for us on Saturday - not a boring, inconvenient delay. I should have known God had a plan!

If you would like to know more about Children's Heaven, I have added a link to their website under heading "Links to Resources I've Found Helpful." I have heard wonderful things about Children's Heaven and I can not wait to give a personal testimony after we have been there.

17 days from now we will be in the air!

***A few people have asked if Krissy will have enough money for her ticket. She technically is $128.00 short, but Chad and I will cover that portion with great pride and joy. I am so proud of all she has done to earn her ticket. She has worked hard! I also appreciate the generous contributions many of you have made to help her as well. She has been blown away by it all! Thank you!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day

I bought myself a Mother's Day present!

Right after we found out we had passed court and were "officially" Joshua Gebeyehu's family, I ordered myself the necklace above. Not the best picture, but it is the shape of Africa with a heart cut out. On the back I asked that Joshua's initials JGCD be stamped along with 1/19/2010, the date we accepted his referral. Although it is not the legal day he became our son, it is absolutely the day he was born into our hearts and home.

Yesterday I got up early and went for a run. When I got out of the shower, Chad had my favorite breakfast eggs over medium and toast waiting for me. I absolutely love it when people cook for me. I do not mind cooking, but when someone else takes over the chore, I feel relieved and loved.

I needed to get to church early because I had agreed to sing with the Worship Team, but before I rushed out the door Chad and the kids gave me a funny card and my gift. They bought me a jogging stroller. I am thrilled! I have such good memories of running with Brenna in her jogger. She used to ask me to stop every once in a while for a sweat check. If I was not sweaty enough, she would tell me to go faster. She also sang me songs, pointed out all the dogs and birds, and asked lots of questions. I was truly sad when she was too big to fit in the stroller. Against my better judgement I sold her jogging stroller - but Chad has me covered. I am looking forward to more great jogging memories with Joshua Gebeyehu. They may have to begin as walking memories... I may not be in good enough shape to jog our little tank up the hills at first!

After I totally had a total emotional melt down in church Wednesday night, I was worried about singing on Sunday. Especially when I saw the worship leader had chosen for us to sing "Blessed Be the Name of the Lord." That song will forever have a deeper richer meaning in my heart than ever before. But I was able to sing instead of sob... thanks mom, Em, Chad, and Sharlene I know you were praying for me.

We had birthday brunch at my mom's house for my sister Emily. I went home and took a nap while Chad made meatballs, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, and pie for supper. I showed my mom and dad pictures of Joshua while Chad and Krissy washed dishes. I finished off the day by watching a movie (that I picked) with Chad.

It was a very nice Mother's Day. Thank you Chad and kids for being so thoughtful and spoiling me so perfectly. I love you guys!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Beginning travel plans

Based on an update I received from our coordinator yesterday, I am feeling very confident we will be allowed to travel to Ethiopia to bring Joshua Gebeyehu home the week of June 2. (This is not 100% sure until about 1 week before we will board the plane, but so far I have not seen families delayed once they are to the paper-point we are now at.) I am SO THRILLED to say that in 3 weeks I will be on a plane headed to Ethiopia. FINALLY!

I have Joshua Gebeyehu's bag packed. It was so fun to fill his suitcase with all the darling little outfits I was given. I can hardly wait to give him a bath, slather him in lotion, and snuggle him in his blankey. I can hardly wait to dress him in all those outfits, see him stomp and run in his light-up tennis shoes, and play with his toys. I can hardly wait to read him books, brush his teeth, and show him videos of his siblings and daddy. SOON little man... soon.

We have made reservations at a beautiful guest house. It is truly unbelievable. We will certainly not be roughing it. We will have a suite with 2 bedrooms, a private bathroom, a living room, and a tiny kitchen. The guest house also has a fully stocked playroom for Joshua Gebeyehu and I to explore. Our agency asks that Joshua and I spend most of our time at the guest house getting to know each other, and it should be a wonderful environment for us to relax and bond in. (My mom and Krissy are free to explore. They are working on the list of things they want to do while there.)

We will choose our flights early next week. There are a few options. No matter which way you go it is an insane amount of time on an airplane. I enjoy flying, but I do not sit very well - so it will be a challenge. We may choose a flight that is 16 hours straight. Long... but it would avoid northern Europe and the volcano threat. The flight through northern Europe would keep our longest flight at only 9 hours, which sounds good to this wiggly mom. I also like that our point of entry into the US would be Minneapolis, but then we would come home a day later. Anyway without boring you with all the details, both routes have advantages and disadvantages, please pray that we will choose the one without delays!

Just think 1 month from today, I may be tucking my son into his bed in his home for the first time. There will be a big sigh of relief that night!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mourning Gebeyehu's Ethiopian Mommy

I have had a hard mom week. It started Sunday when the meal I had worked hard to choose and prepare for my family was NOT a hit. For some reason their less than enthusiastic reaction to my efforts really hurt my feelings. I began feeling really unappreciated and overlooked. I had a list going of all the things that they did not notice or appreciate - I worked hard to wash and fold their clothes, they complained because they had to put them away - I made supper every night, they often complained about my meal choice and then went to watch TV while I cleaned the kitchen - you get the drift!

Wednesday night Chad and I went to the midweek worship service at our church. The service was devoted to mothers and the value of mothering. It did not go well for me. In fact I totally lost it. My poor husband was sitting next to me watching me cry my eyes out and wondering what was going on in my mind.

To be honest the sadness began as "poor me." Poor me my family does not appreciate all that I do for them. That thought brought on a few more tears as my thoughts turned to the fact that this will be the first Mother's Day that I will not be with all my kids.

And then the FLOOD began as I realized that Gebeyehu's Ethiopian mommy will never spend another day with him. I seriously cried my eyes out (emphasis on the tears because I am not a crier, this was alarmingly out of character!) for her loss. She will never know how much we adore her son. The last months have been so hard not being able to mother Joshua Gebeyehu like I want to, however I have still received much joy in seeing him grow and change through pictures and stories. She will never know those joys. The pain, fear, and desperation I imagined her feeling as she was wondering who would care for her son was acute. I can not imagine having to say good-bye to one of my kids. Even if I were to be separated from my family by death, I would never wonder how/if they would be cared for, nurtured, mentored and loved. I am so blessed.

I cried tears of gratitude for my blessings while at the same time mourning for Gebeyehu's Ethiopian mother's loss. The unfairness of it all broke my heart. I am so blessed with family, worldly possessions, great health care, God's love. Even the fact that I am an American gives me so many advantages. I do not even know how to deal with all these emotions - they just swirl around. I do not know how to reconcile the fact that I am so blessed, gaining so much, while another has lost it all.

The service ended with the song "Blessed Be The Name of the Lord" it's chorus goes like this:

Blessed be the name of the Lord,

Blessed be Your name Jesus,

You give and take away,

You give and take away,

My heart will choose to say,

Lord blessed be Your name.

Those were and are hard words. Why did He choose to take Gebeyehu's Ethiopian Mother away? Why did He choose to give me this amazing gift? I do not know. I will most likely never know. But my heart DOES choose to say "Lord Blessed By Your Name!" I do not know why sad, hard, difficult things take place sometimes, and I stand in awe that God can turn sadness into joy.
Thank you Jesus for my many blessings. Thank you for choosing me to be the mother of each of my fabulous five children. Help me to raise them in a way that is pleasing to you. Help me to always remember what a privileged life I lead. Help me to honor You in all I do Lord. Blessed be Your name.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

National Day of Prayer

Because He is the God of this nation, take some time honoring Him today.

"Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, there I am with them."
Matthew 18:20

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My early morning prayers

I joke that Chad and I share a night's sleep. When he is troubled or just has a lot on his mind, he does not have an easy time falling asleep. I on the other hand can always fall asleep, but my rambling thoughts wake me up between 2 and 4 AM.

God and I have a lot of great conversations in those predawn hours. Here are some things that have been waking me up. I would appreciate if you would add them to your own prayers!

  • Whether or not I should bring Joshua Gebeyehu with me if I am able to meet any of his birth family. There are a lot of "if's" in that prayer, but it is a decision I will only have 1 chance to make - there are no redos or next times. I have researched and asked the experts, however there is no easy answer. Please pray that God will really speak to me on this one, only He knows what will be best for His Gebeyehu.
  • Travel! Dates - I am most anxious to be booking plane tickets. Also pray for planes to follow their schedule. I have heard of so many travel delays lately, start praying for safe, timely travel! Health - please pray that we are all healthy during the trip.
  • Shipping and distribution of the SHOES - I am pretty sure that I have this figured out. Through a miraculous chain of events, I think we will be able to FedEx the shoes at a WAY discounted rate. Krissy's school donated a part of the shipping money and we are working on another fundraiser for the balance. Shipping the shoes direct will make getting through the airport SO much easier. Please pray that all these possibilities become realities, that the shoes become a blessing to the recipients, and that Krissy is blessed from all her work.
  • Peace, Patience, and Focus for me! I am having a hard time waiting, especially after hearing that Joshua is having a hard time waiting. It is an excited, hopeful wait at this point. (Nothing like the hopeless trudge waiting to pass court)I am having a hard time concentrating on anything! It is hard on my kids at home, too. I see the strain of the waiting in them.
  • Attachment/Bonding/Adjustment - Attachment with an adopted child is both the same and different than with a biological one. I will share more about what I have learned soon, but continue to pray that Joshua Gebeyehu will feel like he is coming home. That he will feel secure and trust us. Only God can make that happen in the sort period of time we will have to bond before we fly away together. Can you imaging how scary all that would be? I am a little concerned about fitting into a different culture for the week we will be there. He is leaving all he knows forever, and bringing nothing of security with him. I get to bring my mom and daughter. Pray for my boy's heart!
  • Please pray that my friends get PASSING news tomorrow. They are on court date 3!

Thank you my friends! You are all such a gift. If I can ever pray for you please call, e-mail, or comment below. Your prayers have carried us through and will carry Joshua Gebeyehu home. It would be an honor and privilege to pray for you as well.

Monday, May 3, 2010

He is ready, too.

Look who has pictures if HIS family hanging above his bed?

All right, I confess... this picture made me cry happy, sad, frustrated, glad, joyful tears. Can you believe the world we live in... this picture was taken today! I know what my Joshua Gebeyehu's was wearing today! I know that today he was waving for the camera and being told about his family.

I also know that today he clung to another mom's 14 year old daughter like glue and announced that he was ready to leave now. This mom emailed me that he is definitely very ready to meet us. He is, in her words, "a love-bug" and a "punkin." He is also potty training, not a fan of the nap, and understands what the nannies tell him very clearly - even though he does not like a lot of it. (That made me laugh out loud!)

Hearing he is as ready for us as we are for him is a mixed blessing. I am glad that he has some understanding that our family is coming for him. I am thrilled that he is able to look at our faces. I am happy that he is looking for us and waiting in readiness (at least today! He is 2 and maybe the day we arrive he will decide he is not ready, but that is what being 2 is all about!)

Hearing he is ready also made me broke my heart. For a long while I was peaceful waiting, I felt in my soul that he was where he needed to be. I can not believe the changes we see in him - in January he was gaining his strength, walking was hard, he was very babyish, he looked so sad. Now he seems to be "Mr. Personality", he is potty training, sleeping with the big kids, his eyes twinkle, he is READY.

I found myself begging Jesus to get me there, to grant the desire of my and my son's heart. I know in a way that is silly, faithless even. We have miraculously passed court. We have an adoption decree, the rest of the paperwork is in process, leaving May 28 seems to be a sure thing. I know leaving in 25 days is soon, but it feels like forever, and I fear further delays. I want precise answers and guarantees, but they have not come yet. I feel like a little kid waiting for Christmas morning to receive the most amazing gift - a really little child that knows the gift will be amazing but does not understand time enough to realize when the gift will come. "How many more sleeps, God?"

Eventually God broke through my whining with words of reassurance:

"There is a time for everything"

Ecc 3:1

and the verse which He continues to remind me of over and over:

"Be confident of this, that He who began a good work in you

will carry it on to completion"

Philippians 1:6

I also have enough experience as a parent to realize that really soon I will be wishing for a quiet moment. I will not laugh out loud at Joshua Gebeyehu "not liking" what I have to say. I will be frustrated when he refuses to nap. But, I can hardly wait for that day! I can hardly wait to be busy parenting instead of patiently waiting!

Brenna is really excited about the Skillet concert her daddy is taking her to soon. Her prayer request each night before bed is that God will make the time go really fast so she does not have to wait so long. Will you echo her prayer for my son and I?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

New Vocabulary

A couple of weeks ago I heard Brenna talking about the village in Ethiopia where Joshua Gebeyehu was born. She was explaining that in that village there is probably not clean water or electricity. Exactly! Way to go Brenna! There was a little problem with her description though... she referred to the village where Joshua Gebeyehu was born as his "real" home where his "real family" lives.

Now we all know that Brenna has never thought of Joshua Gebeyehu as anything but her brother. He has never been just a kid from Ethiopia or an adoption. He is HER LITTLE BROTHER. She has had his picture on her desk since January 20. She could spell "Gebeyehu" before Chad could. She adores him!

She would never want him to think she was not his "real sister", but she was lacking some vocabulary. This (and a couple other conversations I have had with other family members and close friends) has lead me to understand that we all need to be thinking about some new family vocabulary. I want to share my thoughts with you, but understand that I am a rookie here too! I have no desire to worry about political correctness necessarily. I have a huge desire to make as sure as possible that our son will feel perfectly loved, accepted, and a part of our family!

So here are some terms that make me squirm:
  • Are all your children adopted? Or are some of them really yours?
  • What do you know about Joshua Gebeyehu's real family?
  • Are his real parent's alive?

These phrases make me much more comfortable:

  • Are all of your children adopted? Or are some of them biological? (or just mind your own business! I know that is not politically correct wording, sorry! But I really struggle with classifying my kids. Obviously Joshua Gebeyehu is not my biological child. I know that may cause people to wonder about the other four. I get the human nature to be curious, but adoptive or biological they are my KIDS, that is all that really matters.)
  • What do you know about Joshua Gebeyehu's Ethiopian/birth/African family? (First of all I hope in reading this blog you have realized that I hold the people, traditions, and culture of Ethiopia in high regard. I have loved learning about it. I will do all I can to communicate that pride in and respect for Ethiopia to my family and friends. I will tell Joshua Gebeyehu everything I can about his Ethiopian family. I will leave it up to him whether or not he tells you about his Ethiopian family. This is not because there is a BIG BAD tale in connection with that family. There is of course sadness, but I feel only gratitude and respect for his Ethiopian family's decision. I feel ABSOLUTELY no shame or embarrassment. However I do feel very protective of it. It is his story to share, if and when he wants to. I will protect HIS story until he is able to let us know if it is to be shared or kept private.) (I tend to like to use the term Ethiopian family best. Joshua Gebeyehu lived with Ethiopian family members for well over a year. They contributed more to his life than just giving birth. I know many people use the term birth family and I do use it. I just personally like Ethiopian family more.)
  • Since you know how I feel about the term "real" you will understand when I tell you that Joshua Gebeyehu's real parents are alive. We are healthy, happy, and anxiously waiting for him to join us in our home.

Please do not be overly concerned that you will use "offensive" vocabulary when you speak to me. I know that each of you love Joshua Gebeyehu and our family. I know that you welcome him wholeheartedly. If I ever correct you, please do not be offended! If I say something that you think could be hurtful to my sweet boy's sense of acceptance and belonging, please correct me. My goal in this post is not to be the "vocab police." My goal is to start a dialog of acceptance and love!

***Ok on a really fun note, I received an email from someone who is currently in Ethiopia this morning. I asked her to gather some information about Gebeyehu and she was so kind to email me before she even got home. Yesterday, she asked the staff at the care center if she could meet Gebeyehu and he was no where to be found. The staff got a little worked up looking around for him and calling his name. He soon "sauntered" (that was her exact word) around from behind the slide with a big proud grin on his face. He thought it was really funny that they were all looking for him.

Sound like anyone you know? I have spent hours looking for Brenna in the last 7 years. She used to sit quietly in a room and wait for me to find her when she was the same age as Gebeyehu. We still spend minutes searching the church for her each week when the rest of us are ready to go. It is good they are 5 years apart in ago or I would be in trouble!

My friend in Ethiopia was also able to get a shoe size... 7! So Krissy and Brenna and I went shopping for the cutest pair of little boy shoes we could find. The ones we chose have lights on them so they will blink when he walks or runs. One of my favorite little boys, Drew, has a pair I have been eyeing. I was so excited to buy Joshua a similar pair. How much fun will he have looking at and stomping his feet? We also bought a pair of handsome sandals, because I have been told the light-up shoes are ugly and not appropriate for church =)! Not sure we care, but sandals are more adjustable than tennis shoes just in case!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Conversations with Sierra

Sierra had a bummer of a week, so last night I decided a "date night" was in order. Sierra and I sneaked out of the house and went to a movie. After the movie we went for ice cream and had some great conversations. She is so incredibly brilliant, I wanted to share some of her thoughts with you.

She and I were talking about prayers. We were noting how many times we ask God for something and then forget to notice when he answers us. She reminded me that she had been praying for a little brother for years. I had seriously forgotten this (or perhaps blocked it our, as Krissy would say)! At least 2, maybe 3 years ago she started telling me that she really wanted another brother. I would laugh and tell her something about how fun babies are, but that her Dad and I had no plans to have another little one. She would respond with her trademark Sierra twinkle, " I am going to ask God to give me a baby brother!" I always laughed and told her she could ask God for anything, however a baby brother would certainly have to come from God because Mom and Dad were happy with life as is.

God certainly answered her prayer, in a different way than we would ever have imagined, how cool and fun and amazing is that? (I know of several children who are asking God for African siblings of their own... better watch out mom's and dad's! God listens, especially to the purity, faith, and sincerity of children.) I also love that Sierra recognized how God has answered her prayer. The entire loop takes my breath away. It is so beautiful, so perfect, so GOD.

In the next conversation she was asking me all kinds of things about when I was pregnant with my first four. She wanted to know what kind of foods I craved. I told her I was all about chocolate chip cookies and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream when I was expecting Krissy. I got so chubby that pregnancy that I did not allow myself many cravings with her and Jamison. When I was pregnant with Brenna I felt pretty crummy at first. All that tasted good for weeks were cherry slushies. Krissy, Jamison, and Sierra could not understand why I got to eat them instead of food for supper.

Then I asked her if she had noticed what I had craved while waiting for Joshua. She laughed and said I could not be having craving because I was not pregnant. I argued that stress hormones give as many cravings as pregnancy hormones... what had I been craving? She laughed and shouted, "Cold Stone!" How right she is!

That got us talking about how waiting for Joshua is similar to being pregnant. I explained that when I was waiting for them they were growing in my belly, but Joshua Gebeyehu is growing in my heart. Sierra responded that my heart must be huge at this point because I was like 8 months pregnant. We had a giggle-fest over that one!

But she totally hit the mail on the head! When my belly babies were taking over every inch of my body, when their size made it hard to breath and sit and sleep, when I felt like my belly could not stretch another inch - it was time! It was time for them to be born. It was time to meet them. It was time to hold them. It was time to learn all about them.

Right now my heart feels exactly the same way as my body did before I gave birth. The incredible love I have for Joshua Gebeyehu makes it hard to breath, hard to concentrate, my heart can not grow much more - it is time! It is time for Joshua Gebeyehu to be born into our everyday life! It is time to meet him. It is time to hold him. It is time to learn everything about him.

Sierra, you are the wisest (and most fun) 10 year old I know! I had a blast with you last night! I am so thankful that God chose me to be your mom!