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

Monday, May 30, 2011

One Year Ago

One year ago TODAY, May 30, 2009, I woke up in Ethiopia knowing that I would at long last hold my son.

As we drove toward the care center, I remember just trying to take it all in. I wanted to remember every sight, sound, and smell. I will never forget driving through the gates of the care center. Getting out of the car, looking up to the balcony full of children, hearing all the Amharic chatter, wondering what I was to do next... and then seeing my Gebeyehu in the middle of all the children looking so uncertain.

This is the very first glimpse I had of my boy.
It still makes my heart ache to see him as an orphan waiting for HIS momma to come.

What a difference one year has made!
I wanted a different balcony picture this year. I picture of my silly, happy, loved SON - surrounded by "his kids."

I was hoping to be able to savor and celebrate this very special anniversary. And I will...soon. For now, helping our neighbors prepare for flooding comes first. However I could not let this day go by unnoticed. It was truly one of the best days of my life. Finally being able to hold, bathe, clothe, snuggle, play with, and comfort my Joshua Gubs brought such an enormous sense of joy and gratitude. I was so relieved to finally be with him.

Joshua Gebeyehu Chad, I am honored to be your momma! We are honored to be your family! We are so very thankful that God chose us to be your family! We love you sooooooooooooooooooooo much!

Sunday, May 29, 2011


I can not begin to tell you how incredibly proud I am of my oldest three kids this week. They have utterly amazed me. Since it became clear that flooding in out community would be devastating, they have worked so very hard to help in any way that they are able. They have been sandbagging every chance they get since Tuesday evening. Krissy chose to skip her last day of school to help. She left with Chad at 7 AM Friday morning and worked by his side until 11 PM. Jamison and Sierra needed to attend school, but they joined in the efforts right after school.

I was able to help for a short while Friday evening and their work brought tears to my eyes. They knew just what to do. They worked hard, yet cheerfully! They were confident and competent. They were compassionate. At one point we noticed an older man who was struggling to fill sandbags by himself. Sierra ran over and held his bags for him. When his truck was filled she wished him luck and told him that her family would be praying for him.

Saturday morning the girls woke up stiff and exhausted. They told me they were not sure they could keep working so hard. I reassured them that it was ok! After a big breakfast, I noticed them putting their shoes on. I asked what they were up to and they quickly explained that they were going to walk back to the sandbagging site. "They were a little tired," they said. "but people need help!"

I convinced them to take a break and watch the younger kids so I could help for a few hours later in the morning. They decided sandbagging was much more exciting than babysitting, so we brought the whole family with to unload one load.

Joshua (and his friend Kennedy who was with us so her parents could work to save her grandparent's home) were very happy to get out of the house and discover what sandbagging was all about! Joshua told me, "Sandiebagging really hard! Heavy! Joshua work really, really hard!"

I brought the littlest ones home after unloading that one load, but Krissy, Jamison, and Sierra continued to stick it out. We met for supper at 5:30. At that point Chad was totally spent! He figured that they had hauled (which means filled, loaded, and unloaded) 70,000 lbs of sandbags in 26 hours.

On the way home the kids found out Grandma and Grandpa were filling sandbags at the site close by our home. They begged to be dropped off yet again!

These two pictures were sent to me by a friend who watched my family at work.

This morning we will go to church. After church we will fill, load, and haul sandbags. Grandma has agreed to stay with Joshua and Brenna for a few hours so I can help as well. (It is the first time I have left Joshua with anyone other than Chad or Krissy!)

This is not exactly how we had planned on spending the weekend! The original plan was to spend the weekend relaxing at a lake - but how do you even consider that when so many are fighting to save their homes? I am so incredibly proud of how my kids have handled the change of plans.

Please continue to pray for our community.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Be like Noah

This week as we drive through town, evidence of a flood is everywhere. One afternoon as we drove Brenna asked, "Mom tell me again the story about Noah. Why did God flood the earth?"

What followed was a conversation that I want to hide in my heart.

I told my kids this story:

In the time of Noah, God looked over the whole earth and found only one man who was following His way. That made God really sad and really mad. He decided to flood the whole earth and destroy all the wickedness - BUT he gave Noah a chance.

God went to Noah and told him of his plan. He commanded Noah to build a HUGE boat. Now kids, you have to realize how crazy God's request was. Prior to this time, it had NEVER rained. God had watered the earth with underground springs, kind of like a hidden underground sprinkling system. So not only did it seem totally crazy to build a boat on dry land, but believing that water could fall from the sky was nuts!

Noah chose to trust! Noah chose to be faithful! He began building a boat! Can you imagine how hard it was to build a boat with the crummy tools of the times? This boat was HUGE... something like 2 football fields in length!

Can you imagine what his neighbors had to say?!? Noah was already misfit of sorts as a follower of God. Now he was building a BOAT because God told him it would rain?!? If the work of building the ark was not bad enough, the verbal bashing that came from his neighbors HAD to be worse!

Finally he had the boat done. Then the animals began arriving. How totally crazy did that look? Can you imagine loading all sorts of wild animals on the same boat? Do you think his neighbors began to wonder if perhaps he was right?

Finally all the animals were loaded. It was time for Noah and his family to enter the ark. They entered the ark, and here comes my very favorite part of the story! The huge door that allowed each and every animal and person to enter was closed by the HAND OF GOD!

Then the rain began.

What do you think Noah's neighbors were saying then? Imagine their fear, their confusion, their dread!

Following God looks crazy sometimes! Following God sometimes causes others to make fun of you! It is very difficult to be a "misfit" like Noah.

However, ultimately following God is what saves you.

So be like Noah, kids! Follow, trust, obey... and He will save you.

It was one of those beautiful conversations when my kids were captivated. They were silent as I recounted the story of Noah. They got it. They felt it. They were inspired by it. I was too.

You can read this story in God's inspired words in Genesis 6 & 7.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

In The News

These days watching the news is a very emotional experience for me. There is just so much crazy going on. Last night I was sniffing as I first watched the story of a husband lost while protecting his wife in a tornado, then the story of a mother who survived the same tornado while 2 of her 3 children did not. Later in the same broadcast I was sniffling because of the many who were reaching out to this same community in simple ways - clearing debris, delivering water. These simple acts of kindness were making a huge impact. One man interviewed was nearly in tears because he was so relieved to have the simplest of help offered to him.

All this was hitting closer to home than usual as my city is in the midst of flood fighting. The waters are rising. Some have already lost the battle. Others may soon. Still others are on the bubble - fight or evacuate? Wondering what to do? Wondering who will help them?

As with any natural disaster there are no easy answers. The predictions change daily. The rumors are running rampant. And seeing neighbor reach out to neighbor brings a lump in my throat each time I leave my home.

While there is a long line of people waiting for sandbags on the hill near our home, there are also people shoulder to shoulder shoveling as fast as they can to fill the bags. As we drove by today and I told Krissy with tears in my voice, "This place where we live may have the worst weather ever, but the people make up for it. This IS a good place to live." My Krissy does not like living way up north in ND, but even she had to agree.

This will be a long flood. The cruel rushing river is expected to be at unprecedented heights for up to 8 weeks before it slowly recedes. A flood of this nature was thought to be impossible. It is shocking and so very sad.

Please pray for the many who are making difficult choices. Pray God's peace and wisdom. Pray that the massive levies that the city is planning can be built in time AND that they hold. Pray for the provision of many who do not have flood insurance and will flood.

(Our home is in no danger. Our business should be safe as well. With heavy hearts for many others, we are very thankful.)

Father God, please, protect our land.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Love is Thicker than Blood

"Most parents raising a child not born to them can recount the wonders of coming to know that their family was destined to belong to each other and discovering for sure that, although blood may be thicker than water, LOVE is thicker than blood."

quoted from: Inside Transracial Adoption

by Gail Steinberg & Beth Hall



Monday, May 23, 2011

Krissy's Fav. Hashbrown Ham Bake

Krissy called me after school today. It is finals week. When I asked her how she was, she responded, "I am so stressed out! I think all my hair may even fall out!"

Remember finals?

Not everything about being young is fun!

So what is a mom to do? Cook, of course! Momma's comfort food is "supposed to" help in even the worst moments, right?!?

Krissy is the hardest of my children to cook for. I can think of many more things she does not like than things she does like! She tolerates most of what we eat, but really likes very little. There is actually only one meal that I make that she requests!

Hashbrown Ham Bake:
16 oz sour cream
1 pkg frozen hashbrowns
2 cups shredded co-jack cheese
2 cups crushed corn flakes
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups cubed ham
1/2 cup butter

In a large bowl stir together sour cream and soup. Stir in potatoes, ham, and cheese. Put in sprayed 8x13 pan. Top with corn flakes drizzled with melted butter. Bake at 350* for about 55 minutes.

We have a funny combination going on this week. My elementary age kids are spending the last week watching movies, participating in field days and picnics, and having a whole lot of fun! Jamison has some tests, but they will not affect his grades. (A nice way to start practicing for final exams.) While, Krissy is slammed with final exam pressure.

The good news is that in just 4 more days, SCHOOL'S OUT FOR SUMMER!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Just a Swinging!

Wednesday was Grammy's birthday. So we brought supper to her house. After supper the kids rushed outside to swing and explore. I was peaking at them out the window as we finished our coffee and dessert.

First I see Jamison pushing Sierra WAY HIGH!
I could hear their giggles through the window.
I thought, "Old fashioned farm fun is so great!"
Then it was Brenna's turn.
I was a little nervous about how high she went,
but I reminded myself that Brenna is tough!
Jamison at 13 always has to come up with a tougher physical challenge.
He would swing as high as he could and then kick up his feet.
Sierra would mark his height.
Then he would do it again, trying to break his own record.

I was totally enjoying the show.
Until I saw this...
I think I stopped breathing when I saw them helping Joshua onto the swing!
I started gasping, "Oh no! No! He's too little!"
He did NOT think he was too little!
He was all giggles and smiles!

In fact, when I went out (perhaps trying not to sprint in a panic!) he told me. "Mommy NO help me! Jay help me! Joshua can do it! Jamison! Jamison, push you Joshua HIGHER!"

Soon my little man was coming up with a physical challenge of his own!
He tried to kick his big brother each time he would swing near him!
He would giggle like crazy when he succeeded!
And when he got tired,
he would yell for Sierra to help him down!
His smile says it all!
He was so proud!
He had so much fun!

Although watching nearly gave me a heart attack, I was so incredibly proud of him too! Last summer he was so terribly weak. His shoulder muscles were so underdeveloped that it was hard to pick him up. I had to grip him tightly under his armpits when I picked him up, or he would sort of slip through my grasp. The muscles between my thumbs and pointer fingers got so sore from gripping him. There is NO WAY he could have held his own weight on that swing when it was still much less when it was spinning around! His progress is totally amazing! I am so very thankful!

I am so happy that my 3 year old boy is giving his momma's heart attacks due to his daring stunts! Especially when the stunt is over and my boy is unharmed!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Off To The Races

The track season came to an end today! I totally enjoyed track, it was my favorite sport to watch all year.
Although Jamison ran distance events all season - the 3200 relay, 800, and 1600 - he decided to try something new (and crazy!) at his final meet... the 200 HURDLES! As with anything Jamison does, he gave it his all. He finished the race in 9th place, with no practice or instruction. However, twisting and jumping the hurdles put a pretty good size kink in his side, making his 1600 and 800 slow and painful. (No permanent injury. His side and hip muscles just tightened up enough to cause running long and hard to be misery!)

I am so curious and excited to see what events he chooses to run next year!
Sierra had her 5th grade all city track meet today. She was so excited! She was for weeks practicing because she wanted to run the mile well. Her best time prior today was 8:05. Today she ran the mile in 7:29, finishing 7th. She totally crushed it! She worked hard, but still had her typical Sierra flair! She waved and fist pumped to her friends as she ran by as only Sierra would!

Sierra plans to run summer track during the month of June. It will be fun to see her skills develop.
One thing that never ceases to amaze me is HOW MUCH FOOD my teenage son needs to eat to maintain his active growing body! He is pictured above with his before bed snack, the hugest bowl of chocolate ice cream slathered in carmel you have ever seen!
I have been working out every day, but somehow I am just not able to eat like my son. Pictured above is my before bed "snack." It is just NOT FAIR!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Special Needs?

Someone recently asked me what I thought about "special needs" adoption. I am not sure what she thought when I told her I think every newly adopted child has "special needs."

In the US, we tend to label everything, especially kids. Some are "special needs" which many times means they have been diagnosed with something... HIV+, Hep B, cleft pallet, club foot, blindness, FAS, ADD... There is an endless list of labels that we attach to kids.

When we first started the adoption process, some people warned me that we should stay away from children with "special needs." They were concerned that having a child with special needs would just be far too difficult on our family. The child we were working toward adopting would be our fifth, after all. It would not be fair to our older kids to be saddled with a sibling with special needs.

That made sense to me at the time.

But what I did not fully realize was that (in my opinion) ALL newly adopted children have special needs when they first enter a home. Some children are more resilient than others. Some adapt more quickly than others. But they all start out with special needs! (I truly could extend this "special needs" concept to all children, as I truly believe that every child needs to be parented in a way that is unique to his/her strengths and weaknesses.)

Research has proven that kids ARE NOT more resilient than adults. Children who have experienced trauma need MORE support sorting through it than adults do, not less. (That is a whole different post.) ALL children - even babies who are adopted at birth - deal with trauma when they are separated from their birth parents. Thus every adoptive child placed in a family has experienced trauma and loss - and each and every child will need "special" care from their family as they process that loss.

That is why I believe all newly adopted children have special needs. Will they forever? In many cases, no.

We did parent Joshua very differently than his older siblings when they were his age, at first. However, every month he has needed less and less "special" parenting. We are now at a point that the way we parent Joshua is very close to the way we parented his older siblings at the same age. His "special needs" have, in many ways, been "cured." They were temporary... for the most part. We will always have different discussions with Joshua than we do with his siblings. Yet, each of our children have different issues they have to face, different skills they have to work on, different challenges - that is just part of being human.

I think that meeting your child's "special needs" and helping them become stronger, more loving, more capable, and more confident is THE most beautiful and rewarding parts of parenting!

***I do not say any of this to discredit (not sure if that is the word I am loking for) the difficulty in parenting a child who has long-term special needs. I can not imagine how difficult that is. I can not imagine the courage and determination and faith it takes to raise a child who has long-term special needs. I am in awe of the many who have CHOSEN to parent "the least of these." I only point this out because I think sometimes when bringing home a "healthy" child the "special needs" come as a very difficult and unwanted surprise. Don't let "special needs" scare you - but do be aware of them and prepare for them!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ahead or Behind?

A year ago as I was packing my bags preparing to travel to Ethiopia and bring our son home, I decided to NOT have a plan for what came next. I am a planner so this was a challenge, but I consciously DECIDED to NOT to come up with any sort of timeline beyond our airport homecoming.

I had read a TON about attachment, trauma, neglect, etc, etc, etc... I knew that until I spent some time with our son, I would not have the slightest idea what to expect.

However, in the back of my mind, I thought by my Mom's birthday - June 24 - Joshua would be ready to ride horse with Grandpa and by the time school started Joshua would be ready for part-time day care. I was so WRONG!

In all honesty, Joshua is NOW at the place I kind of, sort of, expected him to be 9 months ago!

Yet, I am so thankful for the journey. I am so thankful we did not rush him. I am so thankful for the boundaries we set. I am so thankful for the "rules" we broke. If I had one piece of advice to give to a prospective adoptive parent it would be to move slowly, to follow your gut, to read everything you can get your hands on, and to listen to your child.

This first (almost) year of parenting Joshua Gebeyehu has been like nothing we have experienced before. He has had totally different needs. It has been hard sometimes. Hard because we have had to learn new parenting techniques. Hard because we have allowed and even encouraged behavior that is "babyish." Hard because sometimes we have looked "crazy" and "overprotective" to others. But it was in choosing the "hard" and "weird" parenting techniques that we have seen the most healing!

For example, last summer Joshua would say "Momma's baby is crying!" many, many times an hour. I would drop everything and run to scoop him up and whisper soothing words into his ear. Now remember, he was 2 and a half. This looked - to all "normal" parents like I was babying him to the EXTREME! However, what I was really doing was following his lead and his need. I was creating trust and consistency and connection. I shudder to think how our relationship would be different if I had told him that he was 2.5 - NOT a baby and he should act his age.

Another example came in restricting who had contact with him. When a baby is born it can not decide who holds him, that is all up to his mommy. She passes him only to people she trusts. She is "homebase." Joshua had no idea who homebase was, or even what a homebase was. I was a nice lady named mommy. He was very sweet to me, but he was also very sweet to most other people. Sweetness was and is part of who he is - but it was also a survival skill. We did not want him to spend his life friends with everyone, but connected to no one. In order to create this connection we needed to recreate the mommy bond an infant has. So mommy and daddy
were the only ones to snuggle Joshua for a really long time. He was also expected to ask permission before doing simple things like going downstairs.

Crazy right? I may have thought so a year ago! My mind has since changed. These "extreme" measures created connection. Sure it was forced at first. Joshua had to be taught to connect. It was not magic. It took practice. It took diligence. It took time!

After a few months he really liked the feeling of mommy protection. However, he did not know his own emotional limits. He needed me to set even the simplest of relational boundaries. For example, one day about 4 months after Joshua came home, a very close relative stopped by. Joshua ran to give him a hug and clung on in a "hold me" kind of way. So the relative picked him up, something that had not been permitted earlier. I watched quietly from the corner, concerned and wondering... Joshua sat on his hip, but appeared uncomfortable. He did not wiggle. He did not ask to be set down. He froze. Pretty soon this adult asked if he would like to get down. Joshua nodded and seemed quietly OK. Later that night Joshua cried about everything. He was totally off. When we were rocking at bedtime, he burst into tears again. I asked what was wrong and he said, "He hold you Joshua." I said, "Yes. He did. Was that OK?" He responded, "NO! Only mommy, daddy hold you Joshua." and wept big sad tears. Being held without mommy's permission created the same scared, lonely feeling he had had when he was begging any adult for attention at the care center. It did not feel warm and safe, but scary and lonely!

Another 6 weeks later, Joshua began requesting that appropriate people hold him. At that time, he was ready. This took 6 months. It seemed like forever! Now as I think about it, it was perfectly timed. At about 6 mo. a baby can crawl across the room and request to be picked up. Joshua needed those same 6 protected months even though he was technically nearly 3 years old.

Other things triggered a similar reaction on several seperate occasions. Once Joshua grieved for days after playing on the floor with another special family member. He got quite animated and talked like crazy, working very hard to hold her attention. In the moment he seemed to totally enjoy it, however, he did not sleep well and cried frequently for several days afterward.

For a time my "overprotective" wing created safety. As he became more attached, he became more able to branch out. He now seems better aware of what triggers these feelings of insecurity. When someone unfamiliar lavishes him with attention, he grabs for me and removes his eye contact from the stranger. He is still Mr. Personality with those who are familiar, but he now does it with the safety of having a homebase. The change may seem subtle, but when I watch him "work a room" it is a total transformation.

And when I hold him on my hip, he is no longer a sweet stranger - but my truly connected son.

I have been thinking about these events a lot this past week because I am reading a book called, "The Boy Who was Raised As A Dog" by Bruce D. Perry and Maia Szalavitz. It is fascinating psychological research about brain development and trauma therapies. It talks a lot about allowing a child to go back to the developmental stage they were at when they experienced trauma and move forward emotionally from there. As I read, I am in awe at how Joshua guided us through many of the therapeutic approaches the doctors recommend. Joshua "knew" what he needed emotionally, we just had to follow his lead.

It has been reassuring to read this book. Sometimes, I feel we are way still "behind." Sometimes I have felt judged. Sometimes I have felt guilty for "hogging" our son. In the midst of our hardest, "weirdest" decisions there has been NO indication that what we are doing will actually benefit Joshua. We have made decisions based on research and hunches combined, certainly not based on personal experience! There were days when I have wondered if we would be "behind" forever!

However, on the other side of the mountain, I see the difference our choices have made. While Joshua is not totally "caught up" emotionally, he has come so very far! I have no doubt he is much more secure, confident, and connected due to our "abnormal" parenting.

If you are in the midst of the attachment tango, wondering if you and your child will ever get in sync, keep practicing... it will get easier, more natural, more beautiful. Take your time. Listen to your child. Listen to your heart. Take your time! Each and every step is worth while. Remember that sometimes going backward gets you ahead!

If you are reading this thinking, "I could NEVER do that!" You are wrong! When God places a child in your heart and home that has special needs, he enables you to meet them. We would have said we could NEVER have a 3 year old in our bed, but when our 3 year old REALLY needed to be in our bed - it was EASY! Other things were not as easy, but with God ALL things are possible. If God is whispering that He has a child He needs you to parent, trust Him! He will walk with you every step of the way, the easy ones and the hard ones!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Update on our Dale Kids

Remember a month or so ago, I shared this post? Project "Packed With Prayers" was such a complete success. Members of my church gathered 99 lbs. of blankets, backpacks, rain coats, school supplies, hygiene items, treats, and toys for 9 orphans in Dale, Ethiopia. (See below.)

I shipped these treasures to my friend Julie this week, and I wanted to share two very specific ways I saw God working yet again in this project.

When I was asked to gather these donations, I had NO idea who would deliver them. I trusted the organization, FOVC, that would deliver them and was not concerned about whom the exact deliverer would be. So, you can imagine my surprise and delight to find out my friend Julie would be the deliverer!

I have never met Julie, but Joshua has! Julie was in Ethiopia picking up her twin sons at the very same time that we accepted Joshua Gebeyehu's referral. I had never heard of her or her sons. However when she met and loved on my Joshua, she was so enchanted with him that upon returning to the US with her boys she asked our adoption agency if she could visit with Gebeyehu's family. Imagine my total delight when I received an email saying someone who had HELD my son wanted to tell me all about him. It still makes me teary! God reached out to me, through Julie, and allowed me a personal connection with someone who was holding, photographing, and loving on our Joshua Gebeyehu at the exact time he was born into our family.

I was able to visit with Julie on the phone and she told me everything she could remember about our Gubs. She also sent me photos of him AND video. One of the videos was of Joshua Gebeyehu sleeping while Sister repeated his name over and over. This video was the first time we had heard his name. Knowing we were pronouncing it correctly was such a connection. (You maybe have to be an adoptive parent to totally get this connection, but it was miraculous to us!)

I absolutely treasured each piece of information Julie sent my way. They were invaluable.

So, you can imagine my JOY to find out that Julie would be the one to deliver the gifts to our Dale kids! I have experienced her thoughtfulness and caring in the past, and I could not pick anyone better to deliver the backpacks to these kids!

If that personal connection was not enough, God surprised me one more time (so far) with this project.

A few months ago I was invited to talk about Ethiopia and orphan care at my Grandparent's church. When I had completed my talk they presented me with a check for $100 to use as I saw fit. I had been praying over this money, wondering where God wanted to use it. I had nearly used it a couple times, but someting stopped me.

When no one had offered a donation to pay shipping on the Dale donations, I decided that the money from my Grandparent's church must be meant to pay for shipping. But just how much would it cost to ship 3 large, heavy boxes from here to there? Would that $100 be enough?

Are you ready for this?

Shipping cost $100.34!!!!

So cool! So God!

I have also posted that our 9 Dale kids were in need of sponsors. You can read more about that here.

The good news is that 6 of the 9 kids have sponsors!

The bad news is that there are still 3 girls in need of sponsors! I would really, really LOVE for these princesses to all know they have sponsors by the time they receive their backpacks! $35/ month ensures that these girls will attend school, have school uniforms and supplies, have shoes, and other basic needs met. It will also provide a stipend to assist their foster families in providing nutritious food.

Could you, would you provide for one of these girls?

Z needs your help.

W. needs your help.

T needs your help.

Can you imagine what a relief it would be for these girls to not JUST receive gifts for the first time ever, but to ALSO know that there is someone, somewhere that is going to continue to love and support them?

Are you up for the challenge?

Are you ready to BE a source of hope and stability for one of these girls?

Email me. I'll get you set up!


***FOVC has committed to supporting 16 additional orphans in Dale, Ethiopia. So in case you think with only 3 kids left needing sponsors that the project is nearly complete, think again. The need in Dale is great and FOVC is committed to continue reaching out to as many children as possible through child sponsorships and many other projects. You can read more about FOVC at http://www.fovc.org/

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Riding Grandpa's Horses!

Today was the day both Grandpa and Joshua had been waiting for! Today was the day Joshua got to ride horse for the first time!

Brenna went first to show Joshua the ropes!
Brenna loves to ride!

Joshua was SURE that Brenna took WAY too long. At one point he suggested to me that "Grandpa bring Brenna home later." Meaning, get my sister off that horse so I can have a turn... please!
Sierra does not ride, but she likes to pet and brush the horses.
Happy boys!
I was not totally sure Joshua would be up to the challenge. He was TERRIFIED of the horses last summer. He was very quiet (aka worried) on the way to Grandpa's. He was totally uncomfortable sitting on the saddle off the horse. But once he was on the horse with Grandpa, he was hooked!
Look who is holding the reins, just like Brenna!
"Grandpa, Joshua I want Reb (the horse) spin!"
Did he like spinning?
Oh, Yeah!
At one point they stopped in the center of the arena and I walked over for a close up or two. Joshua quickly informed me, "Joshua no done riding! Mommy sit with Grandma more!"
Joshua is my child of extremes. He went from scared to be near a horse to begging to gallop! He figured out that Grandpa tells Reb to gallop by making a kissing noise. When Grandpa would slow down, Joshua would kiss to Reb!
"Joshua do it!"
3 cowpokes headed back to the barn
Can't forget the kitties!

As we were leaving the barn Joshua said, "Thank you letting me ride Reb, Grandpa!" Our son has such a pure, sweet heart. He remembers thank you's better than any 3 year old I have ever known, and they come all the way from his toes.

Friday, May 13, 2011

"I'm Lovin' It!"

I surprised Sierra, Brenna, and Joshua with a trip to eat/play at McDonald's after school today. This was BIG news as momma does not like McD's! They were so thrilled!

It is Sierra's last year to play - next year she will be too old!
Joshua had a blast!

When we left the girls told me I had to blog about McDonald's "because in our house McDonald's is a really special occasion!"

Hurt Feelings

Ever had your feelings hurt? Ever had someone misunderstand your words, motives, or heart? Ever hear rumors about yourself and wonder how or why they could have been started? Ever been personally attacked and not seen it coming... at all?

Me too.

And it is really PAINFUL!

I had something of that nature come up in my life this week, and it hurt! I was shocked by how much.

Yesterday, while still licking my wounds and praying about how to handle the situation God showed me this verse.

"But Jesus would not entrust himself to them,
for he knew men.
He did not need man's testimony about man,
for he knew what was in a man."

John 2:24-25

I give my kids this message all the time. They will come to me hurt because someone said something ugly and I will ask, "Is that true about you?" Usually the answer is a sniffley no. At that point I remind them that they need to concentrate on who they KNOW they are. They need to see themselves through God's eyes. They need to love themselves and others like He loves them. They need to ask Him what they should be working to improve. Then we pray together.

It is a lecture I have down pat. They do to. Yet, they always love to hear it. I never get an eye roll or an "oh mom!" They just curl up next to me and soak in the love that God wants to lavish on them. They find great reassurance in seeing themselves through His eyes.

I was so thankful when God reached out to me through His word yesterday to give me the very same lecture I give my kids. I was so relieved to be reminded that the only testimony that matters is His testimony about me. While it is true that I have many things to work on, I can and will entrust Him to teach me, guide me, correct me. I can let go of man's view of me and rest in His.

I wish I could tell you that I no longer care what was said about me, but in truth I am working on it. Once in a while I am shocked by my own immaturity and sensitivity. I keep thinking how 7th grade it was to be so hurt over a rumor. Isn't it funny how just when you think you are "past" something you find out you are NOT? Being reminded by God to entrust myself in Him not man, took the sting out. It put me back in a better frame of mind. But I still have to CHOOSE to cling to His view.

So, I choose to cling. I choose to entrust myself in Him. (I choose to repeat this chant until my heart and head agree!)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Picking Flowers

Is there anything sweeter than a fresh dandelion bouquet?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Grandma's Chocolate Float Cake

It is/was my Grandma's birthday today. She has been with Jesus for a few years now, but I still miss her. She was and is "who I want to be when I grow up."
Here we are with 3 month old Brenna.

My Grandma loved babies. She loved gardening. She loved serving. She loved to sing and was always humming a tune. She was always busy, but always had time. She was the toughest, yet kindest woman I have ever known. She lived Jesus so very beautifully.

I have remembered lately how she served orphans and widows/single mothers when she and my Grandpa wintered in Texas. Never one to just relax, my grandma quickly found a place to serve right across the Mexican border during their trips down south. They loaded their camper each winter with clothes and blankets for the women and children at the mission they volunteered in. They also helped with building and grounds projects and, of course, my Grandma rocked and sang to the babies.

I told you I want to be just like her!

How I wish I could have shared the last years with her. How I wish she could have met our Joshua. She would have loved him so much.
Flowers were one of my grandma's passion. They were the one frivolous thing she would treat herself to. I have irises in my garden that came from her garden. They bloom almost every year on her birthday. (In fact, this is the first year since her death that they have not been in full flower on her birthday!) They are such a special memory of the beautiful, strong, resilient woman my Grandma was.

You can not be a grandma without a stash of fabulous family recipes. Here is my favorite dessert my grandma made.

Chocolate Float Cake
2 cups flour
12 T baking cocoa, divided
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tsp baking powder
4 T vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk
2 cups packed brown sugar
3 1/2 cups HOT water

Combine flour, sugar, 4 T cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Stir in oil, vanilla, and milk. Spread into ungreased 9X13 inch pan. (This batter is very thick and dry.) Combine brown sugar and remaining cocoa, sprinkle over batter. Pour HOT water over all, do not stir! Bake 350* for 35-40 minutes. Bottom of cake will be "gooey." Flip slices when you serve it so the fudge is on top. It is best served warm, topped with ice cream or cool whip. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

What a difference a year makes! Last year on mother's day my heart was so very heavy. I was so ready to have Joshua HOME! I was so worried about my baby half a world away, who was wishing for his mommy to come! And my heart was totally shredded in grief thinking of all his Ethiopian mother would never know.

Today was a much better day!
As I sat in the front row of church today (Joshua's pick) with my five wiggly, giggly, chatting, rowdy kids my heart was full of joy and gratitude. I am sure the rest of the church wished I had been a little more strict, but today I loved the crazy all around me. I appreciated the feeling of being surrounded by my wonderfully imperfect kids. I have experienced mother's day missing one, with my heart longing and my lap empty. Today I enjoyed the chaos, knowing what a gift it is.
Another first this mother's day was my kids shopping for me with their own money, in secret! Krissy, Jamison, and Sierra pooled their allowance to buy me this necklace. It was my first store-bought, self-financed gift EVER from my kids. I was touched and surprised by their thoughtfulness.

I also received (and should have photographed) a fabulous poem from Brenna. She has been writing me the sweetest notes all week. I adore her artistic talents and loving heart.

Daddy allowed Joshua to choose flowers for me. He was so very proud to have a secret for mommy! Our church always has a small gift for mothers. Joshua so very bravely went forward to make sure HE got to give his mommy a gift. Such a sweet bunch of children I have been blessed with.

The rest of the day was filled with picnics, long naps, a little gardening, and NO cooking or cleaning. It was the most relaxing day I have had in a long time.

My heart is full. Being a wife and mommy is what I have wanted to do more than anything else for as long as I can remember. I am so thankful that God has granted my heart's desire.

Thank you God for allowing me to be Mrs. Chad D. Thank you for choosing me to be the mother of Krissy, Jamison, Sierra, Brenna, and Joshua. My greatest desire is to honor You in all I do.

***In regards to Joshua's Ethiopian momma, God has given me great peace. We speak of her all the time. We honor her role in Joshua's life. This morning I told Joshua that I wished that his Ethiopian mommy could see how handsome, strong, loved, and happy he is. And I do. I wish a lot of things in regards to Joshua Gebeyehu's Ethiopian momma, but reality is what it is. So until my son and his Ethiopian mommy meet again in heaven, I rest in the knowledge that God always knew that Joshua Gebeyehu would be loved by us both. He chose us both. I will do everything in my power to honor her while raising our son to be the man that God has designed him to be.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Boating Weather?!?

Way back in October, Chad bought a new boat. He bought it via EBay sight unseen. He has spent all of our VERY LOOOONG winter waiting and wondering how we would like it. So today, we finally took it for a test drive.
Think he likes it?
Oh, Yeah!

Having lunch on the swim platform.
Joshua HAD to test the water. He kicked like crazy for about 15 seconds. Then he pulled up his feet and cried because they HURT from the icy cold water!

Sierra decided the water was not really THAT cold...
so she jumped in!
She quickly discovered that it was brutally cold.
Look at that face!
I have never seen her swim so fast!
Much better!
In case you think I am exaggerating when I called the water icy, see that white patch?
Yep, there is still a bit of snow on the shore.

Riley loves the boat. He was crying on his rug as he watched us load up. We had planned to leave him home, but how do you resist this face?
I am not sure who liked driving best - Daddy, Mommy, or Joshua?!?

It is a seriously fun boat! I can hardly wait to take it our again! Or as Joshua said, "Good jobbie me daddy! I like it this boat!"