Monday, December 10, 2012

The Christmas Star

"When they saw the star they were filled with Joy".  
Matthew 2:10

This Christmas I am so thankful for so many things.  It seems like just yesterday we were waiting for our oldest son to be born.  Now that's been 18 years ago and we are coming upon his graduation from high school and thoughts of college and moving out of our home are surfacing.  

It seems like just yesterday that we were then waiting for our baby girl to be born.  She is now a beautiful young lady.  In 10th grade.  So grown up.

Then again, it seems like just yesterday that we were waiting for our next baby girl to be born.  She is now in middle school, playing volleyball and is such an amazing young lady.

Yet again, it seems like just yesterday that our next baby girl was to be born.  Literally, she has a January birthday and I was so ready to see her this time at this time of the year.  It was still a wonder if she was a girl or boy at this time of the year, but we found out shortly as our third princess entered this world.

And, it seems like just a few years ago that our fourth little girl was just a newborn baby at this time of the year.  Such a sweet bundle we were able to share with our family as we celebrated Christmas that year.

And, it seems like just yesterday that we were waiting, wondering what God was going to do to show us our child that was waiting for us in Ethiopia.  It was on December 23, 2010 that God showed us our SONS that were waiting for us.  

God has blessed us beyond what I could ever dreamed of with each of these children.  He has continually shown us His faithfulness and love with each of these gifts. 

I have to admit, at times many times I have wondered what God was up to.  And, in the time that has passed since we have brought home our twins from Ethiopia has been a time of wonder.  A time of watching God knit together our family in an amazing, awesome fashion.  A time on our knees asking God what we are supposed to do with what He has shown us.   I think that's a good place to be.  If God had laid out my whole life in front of me before I "lived" it I think I would have been overwhelmed. 

This Christmas I am so very thankful for the Christmas Star and JOY.   Just like the wise men that were following the star to find baby Jesus - the Savior of the World - I am so thankful for the guiding hand of the  Lord.  I'm so very thankful that I can look up and see the star AND when I see that shining star that I am filled with JOY.  It is my prayer that you too look up and see the guiding hand of the creator of this world and feel His JOY this Christmas and whole year through.

Merry, Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Embracing Hope Ethiopia

It's been a long time since I've posted.  Not for a lack of things going on in this household, but mostly for a lack of time to work on a blog post.

I feel like I need to post some pictures of my little guys.  They are getting so big and have changed so much over the last year and half.  It's CraZy, really.  We love, love, love them to pieces!

But, I just needed to share this with you...

Remember when I shared with you about this family that we visited while we were in Ethiopia for our Embassy appt? We visited the Shannon's at  Embracing Hope Ethiopia over a year ago now, but have not forgot about our short visit or the sweet faces of the children that were at the daycare that day.

I am very excited to say that I get to help out on the US side of their store.  And, it's a really neat store.  The store is stocked with handmade jewelry, baskets and other items that the mom's that Embracing Hope Ethiopia serves hand make.  These mom's are paid for making the items that you can now buy!  Your purchase helps a mom in Ethiopia support herself and her child(ren).   A mom that now can be proud of her work and be able to support her child(ren) rather than resort other means to simply live and keep her child alive ... such as begging.

Check it out.  Think about your Christmas list.  And, for the next 11 days you can get in the Pre-Order Sale on Apparel, which is new to the store.  You can now wear your very own Embracing Hope Ethiopia shirt.  It will give you an opportunity to share with others what Embracing Hope Ethiopia is all about.  Not all clothing items will be available after the Pre-Order Sale or will the prices likely stay the same.  Plus, right now you get a an Embracing Hope Ethiopia decal with your T shirt order.... and free shipping!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A day to celebrate!

It's been a year!  One year ago we landed in MN with our sons.  Our friends came to get us - on their anniversary - and drove us home.  Happy Anniversary, Steve and Tammy!

Travel was finished.  Our family was all under one roof.  We all were able to sleep in the same house for the first time.  Life was good.

So much has changed in the last year. 

Last June we were dealing with this cast after Buche broke his leg in Ethiopia.

Communication was different.  I showed Buche and Burka this video of Burka this morning.  Today he said "What is Burka saying??" 

I love to hear him sing!  He has a beautiful voice.

Looking back over the past year I'm amazed at what the Lord has each of our hearts.  God is indeed good.  We are indeed blessed.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

This news about a disruption in the Sidama Zone in SPPN came out this week.

Our boys are from the Sidama Region.  I have been in contact with a friend in Awassa.  There are indeed things going on there.

Not long ago this would have been sad to me, but I do not believe it would not pull on my heart strings like it does today.  Ryan and I spent a few days in Awassa last year June.  We have friends in the Sidama Region.  We have family in the Sidama Region.  

While we were in the Sidama Region although we saw a rich heritage in the lives of so many amazing people we also saw so many people struggling with poverty and all that comes with that ...  disease, starvation, death, lack of medical care, lack of housing, lack of schooling ...

Today, this news of something happening on the other side of the world moves me to tears.  Breaks my heart for the people going through this disruption on top of the life that many already lead.

Please join me in praying for the people in the Sidama Zone. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Happy birthday Buche and Burka!

Last year, we celebrated Burka and Buche's birthday in Ethiopia.  We actually celebrated on the 23rd because Ryan and I didn't get back from the South until really late on the 22nd.

Today we celebrate at home.

In some ways it hardly seems possible that a year has passed.  In other ways it's hard to remember life with out our precious Ethiopian son's.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Lord I give you my heart..."

It's a week full of memories of last year at this time at our house.

One year ago today, Ryan and I spent the day riding in a Land Rover along the Rift Valley on our way to the village of Bensa Ethiopia... a full day's drive south of the capital city Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

We met many new people that day, including our driver... who spoke no English. 

The country was breath taking!

Absolutely beautiful!

A day that will be forever etched in our minds.

And in our hearts.

We picked our Social Worker in Awassa who traveled with us to Bensa.  We didn't know him before that day, but today I can say he is a forever friend.  As we sat in a little cement building in a village on the other side of the world from the place we call home with our new friend.  He pulled out his cell phone and played a song for us as we waiting for a special meeting to happen.

It was in English....

The words go like this...

"Lord I give you my heart, I give you my soul... I live for you alone.  Every breath that I take, every moment I'm awake Lord have your way in me."

The meeting we were waiting for was seemingly getting delayed.  It felt like it wasn't going to happen.  We were getting a bit stressed.  One of the other Ethiopian men who sat next to me spoke one word to me ...  it was  "BELIEVE".  

The world became a smaller place that day.  Jesus is indeed everywhere.  

Our meeting did happen.  We did end up waiting until the next day, but it happened.  It was amazing.  And, that day will forever be treasured in my heart ... and a piece of my heart was left in Bensa, Ethiopia forever.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

An Amazing Year

One year ago today, June 20th, 2011 Ryan and I woke up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  It was the day after Fathers Day and we we missing our five children that were at home with their grandpa and grandma, but we had just spend this Father's Day playing with our new sons.

We woke up to this view off the balcony of the beautiful guest house we were staying in.

And the sounds of chickens clucking, dogs barking, the chatting of Orthodox Church and the smell of the fires that were lit for the women to cook on are some of the sensory things that come to mind as I remember our days in Addis Ababa. Oh how I miss the beautiful country of Ethiopia.

Then, we walked to the the room the boys were staying in, picked them up and rode to the US Embassy where we received their passports to bring them home... forever.

We had brought clothes for our sons to wear to the Embassy appointment.  The clothes I brought were ALL too big.  They wore them anyway but occasionally had to pull their shorts up when they fell to their ankles. But really, as much as I had looked at little boy clothes thinking they were so fun while were were still home, none of that mattered. The precious treasures God has given us were now in those clothes.

And we were on our way to the final "important" meeting before all the pieces were in place for our sons to come home.

It will be a day forever etched in our minds and on our hearts.

We love you Burka and Buche!

Friday, June 15, 2012

This momma's wish on Father's Day

It's Fathers Day weekend.  I've spent much of the last days thinking about Fathers Day.  One thing I know for sure is that I am incredibly thankful for my daddy.  I love him more than he could possibly understand.  And, better yet, I know without a doubt he loves me.  That's how it feels it's supposed to be. My daddy has always loved me unconditionally, which has shown me the love of my heavenly Father in so many ways.  I've spent much of my life thinking everyone knew the love of their earthly father. After all, his dad, as well as my mom's dad are/were amazing daddy's too.  I love my grandpa's and feel so very blessed to be able to reap in the heritage that they have handed down. I hope I make choices everyday to hand that heritage down to my kids. The love of a Dad is an awesome thing!

I love you, Dad!

Another thing I know is that I'm incredibly thankful that Ryan is the daddy to my kiddos.  Ryan, you are an amazing daddy and even though life seems crazy sometimes here in this house at times with kiddos ranging from toddlers to teens I know that when it is all said and done that you love your kids more than they probably can comprehend.  It's like a piece of your heart extended in each of them as they journey their way through life.  I'm so glad that they have you, a daddy that loves his Heavenly Father first to turn to as they grow, change and learn about what God has planned for each one of them here on earth.

I love you, Ryan.

But, here's the thing.  Not everyone knows that love of their daddy here on earth or of their heavenly Father.  That breaks my heart.  I've shared before about a little girl that I met while we were in Ethiopia.  She was waiting for her mommy and daddy to come and get her while we were there picking up our sons.  Actually, that was one year about right now.  Ryan and I spend last Father's day in Ethiopia with Burka and Buche.  We were there to bring home our sons.  It will be a Fathers day we never forget.

I've mentioned before that our boys were on our agencies waiting list.  Our boys were referred to a family before they were put on the waiting list.  That family felt that Burka and Buche were not their sons.  Doctors reports both from Ethiopian Doctors as well as the international adoption clinic we were visiting with said they were severely malnourished.  Their age was and still is in question.  On paper, they were 15 and 17 pound 4 year olds. Our oldest son was 10 1/2 pounds the day he was born and over 20 before at his first birthday.   A 15 or 17 pound four year old seemed crazy to me.   One doctor told us that it would be a "leap of faith" to accept them as our sons.

Well, we took that "leap of faith" and have been blessed more than I can possibly share with you that Burka and Buche are OUR SONS today. 

Why I share this with you on this Father's Day weekend???  That little girl that I shared about previously... she is still waiting.  One whole year after we met her, she is still waiting for her mommy and daddy to come and get her so that she too can experience the love of a family.  Along with this little girl, there are many other precious faces that I stare at when our agency sends out their "waiting children" list.  Yes, it might be a "leap of faith" to call these children on this waiting list your own.  But really, isn't it a "leap of faith" each time we add a child to our family no matter how the Lord blesses us with that precious life?

If you are feeling lead to learn more about any of this precious, precious kiddos waiting for a mommy and daddy send me a note.  I'd love to connect you with the people you need to be connected to so that you can learn more.  My heart longs to see each of these kids off of the "waiting list" and into the arms of their forever family.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Thanking God for my Irrevocable Gifts

One year ago on 5.16.11 we sat before a beautiful woman judge in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia ... for about 5 minutes with a group of 3 other couples.
This judge asked us if any of us had children other than the ones that we were looking to adopt. We said "Yes". Our other five children were with us in Ethiopia, but still at the guest house we were staying at in Addis.
She asked if those other children were aware that we are adopting other children and if they were okay with it. We said yes, they were well aware ... after all they had spent the days previous playing with Buche and Burka and could not wait until they could play with them when Ryan and I were back from court. They were more than "okay" with making Buche and Burka their brothers.
She asked if we had met the children we wanted to adopt and if we had trained ourselves in the issues that might arise in an adopted child. Oh yes, we had spent every minute we could since landing in Africa playing with Buche and Burka and we had studied all we could about adopted children for the whole year previous.
Then, this beautiful judge asked ... Do you understand that this adoption is forever and irrevocable. Yes, most surely, we understood and still do understand this to the core of our being. Burka and Buche are our sons ... forever and always will be.
Then she said the words I will NEVER forget ... "They are yours".
Our's indeed.
I thank God for these amazing little boys every day. Each of my children are the best irrevocable gift I've ever been given.
"...for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable."  Romans 29:11

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mothers Day

It was one year ago on May 11th that Ryan and I loaded up our 5 children and headed to Minneapolis to get on a plane that was headed to Ethiopia, Africa. We had really no idea what has ahead of us, but we did know one thing. There were two little boys in Africa that we could not wait to meet and we prayed with all our heart that the days ahead would include the Ethiopian court telling us that they are now our sons. In some ways it seems like just yesterday that we were loading up on that plane as a family of 7 and some days it seems like Buche and Burka have always been with us. And, it was one year ago today that we met Buche and Burka for the first time. One year ago today I was able to hold in my arms my twin boys.
The last year has been a year of change for our family. It has been a year of growing, stretching and a year of transformation. It's bittersweet as I think about the story that my sons' short little lives tell. The road to which I am able to call Buche and Burka my sons is out of deep loss as is any adoption story. I will never be able to put my mind around such deep loss amist the great joy that it is to call them my sons. Although I will never be able to comprehend some of the crazy things of this world, I do know this for sure ... I love my little boys with all my heart. They, as have all of my children taught me so much. And being a mom is one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given. I'm so thankful for each of my children!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What Happens When Adoption is not an Option?

I woke up on Thursday April 26th and really felt like Ryan and I needed to go to the Christian Alliance for Orphan's Annual Summit was being held on May 3 and 4th at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest California.

Ryan said he'd love to, which surprised me because he is busier than he's ever been at work right now.  My mom was lined up to watch our 7 kids.  Now, sparing you all the crazy details of things like my thoughts going to places like "what if Ryan and I die in a plane crash and leave our 7 children orphans" and a facebook friend posting at that same time on FB  "More people are killed annually by donkeys than they are in plane crashes" we were going to California ... and by the time we had everything planed it was Saturday and we were leaving on Wednesday.

This Summit is near and dear to my heart.  Two years ago when I went we were just deciding to adopt.  Today our sons are home.  One year ago we could not go to the this annual Summit because we were in Ethiopia meeting our sons for the first time.

I remember after leaving the last conference I wrestled with many thoughts.  At that time we were researching agencies and focusing on the ethics of adoption agencies in particular.  It was a bit overwhelming, but so necessary.  And, as I sat in the conference two years ago, I saw the "adoption" story in a beautiful light.  The beautiful light that it is.  I did however leave knowing that I needed to learn more about orphans and how to best help.  I admit - I wasn't very educated and it was just the beginning of a learning curve that will last my entire life.

Two years later, after walking through the adoption of our sons I was in a different place as I stepped into the Orphan Summit.  A bit more broken and a bit more whole at the same time.  There were amazing times of worship with Saddleback's worship team as well as people like Geoff Moore and Steven Curtis Chapman... singing songs like the one that was part of the inspiration for me to name my blog ...

Strength does rise as we wait upon the Lord.

There were amazing speakers, like Rick and Kay Warren, Francis Chan, Jed Medefind, Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman, Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Ryan Bomberger, Russel Moore just to name a few.

We heard things we needed to hear, like how to make sure our marriage was what it should be, how to parent our adopted children as well as our biological children and we were simply in kindred spirits with many, many others that have a heart for the orphan and love Jesus Christ.  And I got to meet and hug a sweet momma whose blog I have followed for a few years.  You should go check her blog out.  Amazing God stories have unfolded over the years that I have read her blog.  Jesus shines as she continues to go to battle for the orphan - especially orphans who have special needs.  Right now we are praying for her little one that they are in the process of adopting.

This time at the conference I still saw "adoption" as the beautiful story that it is.  I met many people that have been blessed to have adopted a child, or two, or three, or four, or eleven :)  We heard a lot about the story of children in foster homes.  We heard "God" stories from the mouths of young ladies that experienced foster homes. We listened to the Honorable Inyumbia Aloisea who is Rwanda's Minister for Gender and Family Promotion.  She shared how Rwanda has been working on emptying orphanages and have actually done that to several orphanages through adoption.  She understood the importance of children having a forever family ... a mom, a dad ... a home and has dedicated her life to making sure that all the children of Rwanda have that.  Oh, it is my prayer that every orphan would have a family.  A mom, A dad, A home.  It is my prayer that anyone that God is calling to adopt will step up and answer that call.  I am so very, very excited to watch God unfold adoptions in our friends' lives right now.

Then, we went to a class that one of the speakers was Kimberly Smith from Make Way Partners.  She told the story of the orphan to which adoption is not an option.  Honestly, we had stopped at her booth the day before and Ryan asked me if we should buy her book.  I didn't know who she was, was feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information we had already got and said, "NO! I have too many books to read and too much to process right now.  Don't buy it."  Well, after we heard her speak we marched right back to the table and bought her book "Passport through Darkness".  I've just started reading it. 

Kimberly spends her life taking care of the widow and the orphan who will never be adopted.  She has spend much time in Sudan.  Sudan will not allow adoptions to happen. Sudan is a wore torn country.  Sudan has been torn apart by genocide.  There are millions of orphans in Sudan that are unreached and have no hope. Human Trafficking is a huge problem.  Much, much money is being made by human trafficking in Sudan at the expense of children. 

I think Phillip Yancey summed it up best on the Make Way Partners website when he was talking about Kimberly Smith.  He said ... "Kimberly Smith voluntarily walks through the gates of hell.  If you can read her accounts with out being affected, you should check your pulse."  But she herself is so very humble.  She loves Jesus.  It is not about Kimberly Smith, it is about Jesus. She stated many times that God has a plan for each of our lives.  Everyone can not do what she is doing and everyone has a unique call of action to spread the gospel.

You can listen to some interviews that Kimberly did with Focus on the Family here.  They are worth the time to hear about how God is using her and her family to answer the call of the widow and the orphan.

 So, I left the conference with a question. Well, really many questions but the question that sticks out is "What happens when adoption is not an option?" It is my prayer that as we come together to empty orphanages and watch how God places children in families through the miracle of adoption that we also bring voice and hope to the orphan that is not adoptable and hopeless.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A heart check

We've been a bit sick around our house.  Sore throats, headache, coughing.  Nothing major but enough to make a few of us feel miserable.  At the end of the week last week Greta started running a temp and started to complain about her ear hurting.  So, decided to call the clinic and get her an appointment.  Our clinic has had some changes lately.  One of those changes is that when the doctors are full for the day they have a couple doctors that are "on call" and it is a "walk-in" clinic.  You just go in and it is a first come, first serve basis.  I loaded up Greta, Buche and Burka and into the clinic we went to try out this new "walk-in" system.  There were many other mom's that did that same thing that morning I guess.  Greta was feeling sick to her stomach, so "puke" bucket in hand we walked into to a FULL waiting room. 

We walked in and waited.  And then we waited.  And then we waited some more.  Greta was feeling miserable.  But, she was able to sleep most of the "wait".

She was finally called into see the doctor. She indeed had an ear infection and after a few hours spend in the clinic with other sick people she was prescribed an antibiotic that would help her get better.  But, to get the antibiotic I needed to load her and the boys up, drive to our pharmacy and wait again while the prescription was filled.   This wait was much quicker than the clinic wait, but I had two little boys that were very anxious to be free and play like little boys do and a little girl that just wanted to crawl in her bed and sleep.

Finally, we made it out of the pharmacy, medicine in hand.  I loaded my kiddos up and drove home. 

Although I feel like I was kind to the staff at the clinic and everyone at the pharmacy it wasn't until we were driving home that I had a heart check.  I was really frustrated with the changes at our clinic.  My thoughts were, "Do these people know that we pay TONS of money out for medical insurance every year!  And, this appointment is still going to cost me money!  And, Greta is feeling really crummy right now while we wait.  And... can they not see that I have twin toddlers with me.  It is not an easy fate to control twin toddler boys in a waiting room for hours!" 

But, on the car ride home my thoughts changed to this.  "Rachael, you saw medical care in Ethiopia!  You have listened to the hearts of people in Ethiopia that had family members die because of the lack of medical care.  Simple medical care and prescriptions that you might have to wait for a bit to get... speaking a few hours. 

And then I was reminded of this blog post from Levi at BringLove.In  He told the story about how Beletu, the head "house mother" at Bring Love In needed medical care.  As I pondered how much money medical care costs my family, needing medical care cost Belelu much more.  Her family, her husband and her son.  Again, I was reminded my "wait" in the clinic was nothing to complain about.  My frustration to drive my 15 minute drive to my clinic and then 5 minute drive to the pharmacy was NOTHING compared to her 11 hour bus ride to get to the doctor from her village.

We got home.  I tucked sweet Greta into her bed.

Burka and Buche filled their tummies with Injera and Shiro Wot. 

And, I asked for forgiveness from my God for my bad attitude.  It is my prayer that God will continue to remind me of all I have to be thankful for when my heart and mind forget. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A precious little girl

I've not been a very good blogger lately.  Not because I've had nothing to say ... more like I can't seem to get the things that have been stirring in my heart down in writing.

I posted this picture on facebook today.

For a lack of creativity on my part I called the picture "Brothers".   My aunt commented, "Sons".  Moved me to tears.  I will forever be thankful for each of my children.   Forever I will be changed as I have seen how God knits families together.  No words will do those feelings justice.  

We've been busy doing things like going to the dentist... Buche and Burka are some amazing little patients.  Amanda and Hannah go to the dentist tomorrow.  We'll see if they sit as nice :).  I know they won't let me take a picture and post it!

We colored eggs at grandma and grandpas getting ready to celebrate Easter.  Buche and Burka would tell you very loudly that "Jesus is ALIVE!".

We celebrated my brothers birthday.  He's the best brother ever! Sure do love him!

Grace and Greta sang to him.  Grace starts guitar lessons in a week but she looked up on you tube how to play "Happy Birthday".

And, we have some very sweet friends who gave the boys adorable dolls!  They have been named "Burka" and "Buche"...

And are slept with for every nap and night :)

We got new "sleep caps" from  Love them!

Zachary and Ryan spent a few days with friends in CO skiing and snowboarding.  They sent home this amazing pictures.  Mountains ... they are indeed majestic! And the thought of my son that is ending his Junior year of high school this year makes me cry ...tears of joy ... tears of sadness. He's an amazing young man!

And, while all this is happening there is a deep stirring in my heart.  I'll share just a bit ...

I've mentioned before that our boys were on our agencies "waiting children" list. While we were in Africa for our embassy appt I met a little girl that is on our agency's "waiting children's list"  She gave me a hug and a kiss every time I saw her.  She has a smile that shines bright. She is a precious, precious little girl.  That was almost ten months ago.  She is still on our agencies "waiting children's list".   I am indeed praying for this precious little girl and for a stirring in the hearts of those that are called to be her family.  Join me please?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

World Water Day

It's World Water Day.  A few years ago, I didn't know that the day existed.  More importantly, I didn't really understand that there are so many lives touched by the lack of water or clean water.  I had not looked into the eyes of people that spend ALL DAY LONG walking to get water to survive.  Today, I understand better (I do not think anyone that doesn't live that life can fully understand) how the lack of clean water affects people.  

While we were in Ethiopia we saw babies bathing in mud puddles along side of the road.  We saw women and young children walking in the middle of nowhere in the countryside carrying water.  We saw what life with waterborne diseases can be like.  I can not image watching my loved ones die for reasons that were caused because there wasn't any clean water for them.

We live on a lake.  We look out our windows and see water (or ice) every single day.  We have clean water that comes out of our faucet every single day. And, rarely do I not take a shower every single day. A hot shower with clean water. I can't comprehend how lucky I am for having clean water.

One of my little guys gets very upset when the water goes down the drain after he takes his bath.  It seems to get better at times and then worse again.  Sometimes bath time is a blast!  As of recent, it is a deep concern of his.  He cried for a long time tonight in my lap because he didn't want the "water to leave" after his bath.  And, it's not that he likes his bath so much that he didn't want to get out.  I had to hold his hand during his whole bath tonight and his other little hand held the drain plug to make sure that it stayed in place and the water stayed in the tub.  And, then when his mind gets set on things "leaving" he had a whole list of things that he didn't want to "leave".  Ryan is away on a business trip tonight.  He didn't want his daddy to "leave".  He had a great time playing with a friend yesterday.  He didn't want his friend to "leave".  He didn't want his sisters and big brother to go to school anymore because he didn't want them to "leave".  Oh, those conversations tug at my heart.  Don't get me wrong, there are many more happy times here than scary sad times, but I sometimes can only imagine what goes through my little boy's heads and what lays on their little hearts.  Feelings that stem from loss and hurt.  Feeling that stem from poverty and all that poverty does to so many lives here in this world.

We love living on our small little lake.  We spend countless hours using our lake for recreation.  Swimming, boating, skiing, wake boarding or just sitting next to the water to watch a beautiful sunrise or sunset over the lake while sipping on a cup of coffee. I'm not saying any of that is bad. Really, it's quite awesome.  But, while we were in Awassa we walked down a dock on Lake Awassa.  I soon realized that we were the only ones that were just walking down the dock to see the lake.  Everyone else was either fishing, taking a bath or washing their clothes in the water off the dock.  

And just down from the that dock was a fish market.  Men and boys catching fish to sell.

Those that have access to water in a country that has such a lack of clean water use the water they have for a purpose.

The ice is completely off our lake this week.  Buche and Burka have told be many times "I found the water ... It came back!!!"  They were so very, very excited to see the frozen lake turn to waves of water again.  I have much to be thankful for and today I was reminded again that water is something that I take for granted.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

You got me, mommy.

I held one of my little boys for his whole nap today.  I don't always do that.  Actually, I have not done that much at all lately. When the twins nap, I am often found with a cup of coffee, folding and ironing laundry, cleaning bathrooms, washing floors, making dinner or doing something fun like creating a crafty project ... simply because it is so much easier to do those things without the help of twin toddlers.

But, today ... I laid with and held my baby boy the whole time he slept.  I watched him cuddled in.  I took this picture right before he woke up.  Peace.

As soon as he opened his eyes he smiled.  Barely awake yet he said "mommy. you got me."  To which I replied, "Yes, forever, baby ... I got you forever".

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Questions of the heart

Well, Grace and I have been back from our school field trip for some time now.  It was a great week spent with Grace and an awesome bunch of kiddos from her school.  I went from taking care of my 7 kiddos to rooming with 7 fifth graders for the week.  We learned to use a compass in the woods, built forts to survive in the wilderness, started fires and melted snow for water, threw tomahawks, cross country skied, drilled holes in the lake, studied the stars, had outdoor campfires and much much more.  To say we were tired at the end of the week was an understatement!

The little boys did great with their daddy for the week.  They had lots of fun and Ryan did an awesome job of managing our home and trying to work from home some at the same time.  Not an easy task.

It was very fun to have time with Grace alone.  I loved it!  I should create those times more often!  And at the same time, I missed Ryan and my other kiddos like crazy!  Here is one of the many thoughts that have run through my head since my return.

I've said it before, but I am simply amazed at how God creates families. I've always known that I would love any child that God blessed me with.  There is something so sweet about the children that God gives us.  I love all 7 of my children with all my heart.  So much it seems to almost hurt sometimes!

Now, I'm going to speak honestly here.   That can be a scary thing, especially when it's out there for everyone to critique. I did have a question in my heart before we brought home Buche and Burka.  Does a "mother's love" differ from "adopted" children vs "biological" children?  Don't get me wrong, it was not a nagging question that I wrestled with wondering if it was possible.  I never once thought I would not love any of my children.  I compare it to another time in my life that God blessed us with more children ... while I was pregnant with our second child, Amanda.  At this time in life, Zachary was 2 years old and the center of my world.  I loved him sooooo much.  Still do.  I was pregnant with Amanda and I had a question in my heart.  It was this.  "How can I possibly love another child as much as I love the one that I've cared for the last two years?"

I had a miscarriage right before I got pregnant with Amanda, so it took a few months into my pregnancy with her before I let myself really dream about this new baby without being fearful that I would never get to hold this new miracle.  But as things happened like hearing her heartbeat, seeing her fingers and toes in an ultra sound, felt her move inside me, felt her get the "hick-ups" and I started bonding with her.  As this pregnancy neared the end of nine months and she was born God had done an amazing work in my heart and as soon as I held my precious baby girl I now loved two little beings more than I knew I had love for.  God did the same thing in my heart as he blessed us with Hannah, Grace and Greta.  And, today I know that God did the same thing in my heart as he blessed us with Buche and Burka.

I didn't get the special times of pregnancy or get to experience the things that happened in the first years of Buche and Burka's life.  If fact, my sons were grew inside their first mommies tummy on the other side of the world from me.  They experienced the first years of their life on the other side of the world with family and friends that loved them as much as I do.   It hurts my heart beyond words to know the circumstances that lead up to them becoming my sons.  But, what I know today is that when God blesses you with children ...however he does that he also puts a love in your heart for your children that is amazing.   A love that tugs at your heart and opens your eyes to the needs of your children.  A love that puts a band aid on the skinned knee while seeing and feeling the pain behind the obvious injury.  A love that checks out the "scary" thing under the bed of the toddler, listens to the young girls dreams, sees the joy in the eyes of the child who is learning independence and yet still crawls in bed and holds the broken-hearted teenager.

Brings me back to the big picture.  I believe we are all Children of God.  "How great is the love the father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that we are"  1 John 3:1.  God has given me a love for each of my children beyond measure all because he loves me!  

Monday, February 6, 2012

A trip up north

I get to go here this week with my Grace and the 5th and 6th graders from her school as well as another area school.  Its a four day field trip ... We are very excited!  We will get "play"outside all week long while we learn new things.  

Going with Grace for the week means that it will be the first time that I leave my little guys.  Other than a few hours at a time ... just a handful of times they have been with me.  Buche has been telling me for the last week "mommy no leave Buche".  Oh, does that pull at the heart strings!  Then Burka follows suite telling me not to leave too, but he is a daddy's boy and isn't nearly as concerned about mommy leaving for the a few days.    They will be with their daddy or grandma they days that I'm away.  I know they will be well taken care of.  I know that it will be good for them to depend on their daddy alone as work has taken lots of his time since they have been home from Ethiopia.  It will be good for their attachment.  It will be good for me and them to be separate a bit.  But, I'll be honest, I'm dreading leaving them!  They'll have their big brother by there side for the week, too. He's such an awesome brother!  I will miss him too! 

And, I'll miss their daddy!  Thank you for being the dad you are, Ryan.  I know that the kids will have a great week with you.  They will get to eat out lots, have junk food for snacks, do little cleaning and lots of playing and know they that are loved by their daddy.   

And, leaving for the week with my Grace means leaving these girlies at home too.  I sure do love my girls too!    They are such a blessing to me.

It will be a good week :)