Friday, April 29, 2011

From the Inside Out

In less than 2 weeks our family as we know it today will be leavin' on a jetplane.  Yikes!  We've been so busy around here that it wasn't until today that the reality set in - we have less than 2 weeks before we will get to meet two little boys that have already found a place in our hearts.  I believe those two little boys will forever change our family as we know it.

Here are some of my thoughts as we prepare to head off to Africa to meet the boys and go to court where we will be declared "legally" the parents of two little Ethiopian Princes.

I know Zachary forever changed our world when he was born.   The carefree life without a diaper bag was over (for many years to follow).  Our first baby was quite an adjustment.  The journey to meet him started with a nine plus month pregnancy and what felt like a forever labor (really only about 26 hours) and we got to hold him - a 10 lb 6 oz adorable chubby baby boy.  Then we went from one kiddo to two with the fast entry that Miss Amanda came into this world with.  I was prepared for another 26 hour labor but no, she was in a hurry and it only lasted about 5 hours.  Our third babe, Hannah made the parent to child ratio tip in favor of the kiddos.  After that it was history.  Zachary was thinking maybe baby number four would be a boy but was in love with Grace the minute he saw her.  Then comes Greta.  Being a fifth child, she just goes with the flow of our family.  She has been the "baby" of the family for 8 years now.  Soon, she will not be able to claim that title.  I can not image life without any of them!  The journey to these next two precious kiddos has been different than the rest - one that I would not trade for anything.  They have not grown in me since conception, but they have and will continue to change me from the inside out.

"Keep me safe, O God, I've run for dear life to you. I say to God, "Be my Lord!" Without you, nothing makes sense. And these God-chosen lives all around— what splendid friends they make! Don't just go shopping for a god. Gods are not for sale. I swear I'll never treat god-names like brand-names. My choice is you, God, first and only.  And now I find I'm your choice! You set me up with a house and yard.  And then you made me your heir! The wise counsel God gives when I'm awake is confirmed by my sleeping heart. Day and night I'll stick with God; I've got a good thing going and I'm not letting go. I'm happy from the inside out, and from the outside in, I'm firmly formed.  You canceled my ticket to hell— that's not my destination! Now you've got my feet on the life path, all radiant from the shining of your face.  Ever since you took my hand, I'm on the right way." Psalm 16 (The Message)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Beautiful Elange

This is an urgent need.  Elange lives in an orphanage in Haiti.  If this beautiful child does not have a forever family in the next weeks she is being told that she needs to leave the orphanage she is living in because she is too old.  Go here to learn more details.  Pray for Elange.  Pray for the eyes and heart of her forever family to be opened.

Elange March 2011 (4)


Elange and Rose Guerlande March 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

John 14: 1-31

John 14

Jesus Comforts His Disciples
 1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[b]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Jesus the Way to the Father
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know[c] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
 8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit
    15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[d] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
 22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”
 23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
   25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
   28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30 I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, 31 but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.
   “Come now; let us leave."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Set Free

I. am. thankful.  Thankful for the family God has blessed me with.  Thankful for the friends God has blessed me with.  Thankful to my God who has set me free.  I am in awe at how God knows me, loves me and promises that He has not left me as an orphan. Thankful that He forgives me.  So thankful that I am part of His family and thankful that I can live in the freedom He gives.

Life has not felt real easy over the last few days.  Today I'm thankful for TRUTH and not emotions. Life is good.  I have no bad news to share.  Really, I have no reason to be anything but happy.  Am, I am happy.  I'm so excited about the days ahead.  Have you ever been FULL of JOY and yet have a sadness about you at the same time?  I'm not sure I can put the correct words to the emotions that seem to be present at this time.

Honestly, I have been praying, but I have not spent much time in the word.  This morning I spent some time in the word. I'm thankful for many things, but on the top of my list are a couple verses that God has reminded me of.


Friday, April 15, 2011

I went to school!

I went to school this week with a dear friend who is an ELL teacher.  She is an amazing teacher and has some awesome teachers she works with.  She teaches some beautiful, sweet students!  It's been a long time since I went to school, but it was such a blessing to be able to spend the day with my friend and see what she does.  It's something I've wanted to do for a long time, and I've found myself "checking things off my to-do list" as I think about the reality that soon our home will be filled with the joy and needs of toddlers again.

I spent the day with 2nd and 5th graders.  Along with learning what an onomatopoeia is, I had the honor of visiting with several boys and girls that have lived in Ethiopia.  Sweet, beautiful children that moved here and didn't speak any English and are now learning to read.  It was so fun to listen to them read.  One little girl read about an airplane in her book and told me all about how she remembers the flight from Africa to America - a flight I've been thinking about  a lot lately.

Thank you Carrie for letting me come to work with you for the day.  You are an amazing teacher in an awesome school.  Thank you for caring so much about children.  I thank God for crossing our path so many years ago.


Monday, April 11, 2011

30 Hour Famine

I got the pleasure to spend this weekend with some amazing young ladies and men as we participated in World Visions 30 hour famine.  We met on Friday after school and spent until Saturday evening together.  We studied God's Word together, we prayed together, we played games together, we watched movies together and we didn't eat together for 30 hours.  I have never fasted corporately, and it was an amazing time.

One of the neat things about the weekend is that I was able to spend that time with my daughter Amanda who was one of the teens that participated.  I am so thankful God blessed me her - and for the time that we had together this weekend.  I'm so proud of the young lady that she is growing up to be.

I also amazed at the other teens that were there and am so blessed by the way they are chasing after God's heart and have such a desire to learn about what God wants them to do in this life.  Each of them have such compassion for others.  I have so much to learn from each of the teens that were there.  I'm also blessed by the young men who lead the event and the other female chaperone that I got to hang out with.  The body of Christ is an awesome thing!
One of the things that we did this weekend was cover the time in prayer.  Each hour someone was set aside to go in our "prayer room" and pray.  Some of the girls went in as a group and sometimes they went alone.  One of the things that God spoke to me about during that time was about discipline and temptations.  Some of the verses that the Lord lead me to were in Hebrews.  I was reminded that God disciplines us because He loves us so much and that I need to keep myself disciplined.  I need to make the choice to be disciplined -  looking to the Lord for strength.  God also reminded me that Jesus himself was tempted - He set the example for us.  I've always looked at temptation as a negative thing. I'm learning that, although it is not a fun thing, it is a way that I can draw closer to the Lord if I choose to lean on Him to withstand the temptation.

As we were fasting and looking to the Lord to sustain us we had a "service project" planned.  Saturday afternoon, about 26 hours into our fast, we served a meal to a large group of ladies.  This was a very interesting time for me, and I think for each of us there.  We served what we called "cake salad" (a beautiful sandwich layered with egg salad, bread, tuna salad, bread, turkey salad, bread and frosted with a garlic cream cheese), a fruit kabob that had some large red strawberries, pineapple, and delicious looking melons on it, and a dainty little sugar cookie to this group of ladies that were having a "tea" fundraiser for a women's shelter in our town.  What I realized, is that while we were with just 'our group' in our building together all doing the same thing (not eating) I really was not hungry.  When I got out into the world and we joined together with a group of people that were eating - and we were serving them - I was hungry!  I had to make the choice not to eat as we were offered beautiful, red, luscious strawberries and as many around me were eating them.  I felt hunger pains.  I know that God used that time to get my attention.  It is easy for me to do the "right" thing as I am with a group of people that are "in it together."  But, as I leave the confines of that company and enter the "world" temptations really do come.  I need to be able to do the "right thing" especially in the world that is watching.

To 'break the fast' we served each other communion and then joined in a yummy meal - Ground Nut Stew and homemade whole wheat bread.  And, as I experienced the 30 hour famine, I could only begin to understand what being hungry feels like. I knew where my next meal was coming from.  I pray for those in this world that are hungry and do not know where their next meal is coming from.  I can't image what it is like to look at my children and know they are starving and not know how I will nourish them.  I can not image what it is like to to have leave my child in an orphanage because I can not feed them.  It is my prayer that God will continue to open my eyes to see what He wants me to do and that He will continue to open the eyes of many as they experience the 30 hour famine event.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

We have tickets to Ethiopia

We have our airline tickets to Ethiopia!  We have 7 tickets to Ethiopia!  We get to bring the kids with us.  We will be in county for about a week.  In that week, we will get to meet the boys and we go through court.

I'm so excited to meet the boys, and I'm so excited for our 5 children to meet their brothers.  Our first moments as a family of 9 will be in the county that the twins were born in.  I'm thankful that God has provided for our family as a group to be able to see and experience this beautiful country.

The kids will need to miss about 8 days of school, which may be difficult for them but with some hard work before hand and when we get home I know it will all be okay.  I'm so thankful for their teachers, which are all happy for them to be able to experience this and are so helpful in preparing for their absences.

Hannah's class has been busy working on a school project.  In 6th grade, one of the assignments is a "Nation's Report"  The Nation that she was assigned is Ethiopia!  She told me this morning that she is so excited to travel to see Ethiopia after she has been working so hard on learning about the history of this country.  We'll be busy making Injera later this week for her to share with her class.

This news is bittersweet.  As we are so excited about having a court date set and the blessing of knowing that we will be going as a family - the twins have a few really hard weeks ahead of them.  They are in their orphanage right now.  They have been in their orphanage for about a year.  Sometime before we travel in May, they will move from their orphanage to a care center staffed by our agency.  First, they will have to make a long bus ride (around 5 hours) to get to the capital city Addis Ababa where the care center is.  They speak a different language at the care center than the boys speak.  The boys will not know anyone.  Everything familiar will be taken from them again.  I can not image how this will feel.  I am reminded that our God is a God that gives and takes away.  God is the constant "familiar" - always the same - Unchanging.  We are praying the Holy Spirit will come over the boys as they are having familiar taken away from them again in the next weeks - that the love of the Lord will be surrounding them with peace and hope.  Please join with us in that prayer.