Saturday, September 23, 2017

Christmas 2016

I'm so far behind on updating this thing (because our days are crazy!!!! :-) that its almost been a year since I've posted about our family. I do this mostly as a record for our kids and also because writing my thoughts down seems to help me process life a bit.  It serves as a record of the many ways God has been faithful, even through the hills and valleys.

Last year we experienced our first holiday season in a new state, away from most of our friends and family.  The things that were not the same were painfully obvious.  Not the same house to decorate, not the same Christmas Eve service at church, not the same annual Christmas Eve party at our house (my favorite night of the year), not the same light shows or traditions. Everything seemed different and was different.

We were so happy when my parents came up and we found an amazing light display.

We put lights up on our house and some how bought the new version of white, which looks yellow and even that wasn't the same.  I had a mini meltdown in our driveway when we turned them on because it seemed like even something as simple as Christmas lights had turned against me.  Nick said to me, "we'll just have to get use to them" and that's when the tears started, because I was already weary of "getting use to" everything being new.

Of course we had each other.... 

....and that was the same. 

It was also our first Christmas that Angel was offficially ours.  The year prior we had just met him and he was so stressed and overwhelmed that he couldn't even open his presents. It was so fun to see his wonder at the season.

This year we introduced Santa to the little boys, a tradition that we had not celebrated much in the past for various reasons after our girls came home from Ethiopia, but one that we had fun with last Christmas.

Of course our focus at Christmas is on Jesus and he is always the same.  We were thankful for that constant truth.

We started a few new Christmas traditions like our first annual Christmas Eve Reindeer Games (one benefit of a big family, you always have enough people to make teams).

It was intense.....and as you can see some of the Green Team members (aka my husband) had some trouble coming to terms with the fact that we got second place....just wait until this year, we're already in training.

The official Red Team winners of the coveted Nutcracker trophy and box of chocolates.

My favorite new tradition was when each of our kids made a gift for their sibling buddy.  They had so much fun picking out supplies and making something on a $10 budget.

A jewelry hanger and make up bags

These guys didn't participate in the "making" part this year.

Caleb made this lego creation for Colton amd them bought him guys to go with it. Colton made a leather knife holder for Caleb.

                              Hair bows and a cute stenciled bag.

The cookies were the same.

And the food....because I can control these things :-)

Christmas 2017 is just 13 weeks away. How crazy is that? We've lived here over a year now and I still say, "We just moved here." This year our new traditions from last Christmas will be repeated and hopefully the things that still aren't the same will start to feel more familiar. 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 
Hebrew 13:8

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Life's Little Detours

So it's been almost 5 months since I've posted and I really do need to do an update post because this is the only record I'm keeping of our lives and my kids might want some pictures to look back on one day. 

 But, I must document God's goodness in the lives of our friends first.

Our friends Travis and Robin leave tomorrow for Ethiopia to bring home their long awaited daughter.  They leave in just 3 short hours to board a plane that will take them back to the country they love to meet a sweet little girl that they have longed to hold for over 5 years.

If you've just landed here and don't know their story, you can catch up on this long and winding road they have taken to get to her here:

Today's message in church was from Exodus 13 and 14 and specifically on how God led the Israelites on a detour.  They could have taken the short and easy way, the direct path to the promise land, but God chose to lead them into the wilderness.  

Exodus 13:17-22(NLT)

Israel’s Wilderness Detour

 When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Thus the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle.

His reasoning was that they may have changed their minds had he led them straight to the promise land where they would have encountered a battle.  He wanted to prepare them first.  There was more they needed to see and do before they were ready to take hold of the promise God had for them.
I remember distinctly when God captured Travis' heart for the orphan, specifically the orphan in Ethiopia.  
Just a moment before this picture was taken, Travis was leading me and Meron around his property on his horse when the horse got spooked and bucked us right off.  Just after this, Meron let "Uncle Travis" hold her and it was a lightning bolt moment.  He knew there was a little girl in Ethiopia who needed a daddy, and he was it.

A couple of years later, they started the process to bring a little girl home from Ethiopia and that's were their detour took over.  Things didn't go as they had planned.  They certainly didn't get to take the short and easy way, but the long and winding road has been a blessing for so many and God showed them, just like he showed the Israelite, what they needed to see and do before they were ready to take hold of his promise, the promise of one day bringing home a little Ethiopian daughter.

Because of their detour 168 kids and their families in Holeta, Ethiopia are sponsored and know they are loved. Whole communities both here in the US and in Ethiopia are being changed.

Because of their detour, 3 foster kids have known the love of a family and awareness has been raised for the foster care crisis in our area through the work they do.

Because of their detour, God's faithfulness has been proclaimed as he provided over $28,000 in just 14 days to fund this adoption.

Because of their detour, God has led them to the exact child that needed them, a child that wasn't even born when they started the adoption process in 2012. 

She was born in 2014, just after their first trip to Ethiopia, when they were wandering in the wilderness, unsure of where God was taking them.  One thing they were sure of is that not for a moment did God forsake them.

We sang this song today and I couldn't help but think of them:

After all, God is constant, he is only good, he is sovereign and not for a moment 
did he leave them alone.  

I literally can not wait to see them together.  I can't wait to wake up in 72 hours to the news that they have passed court and are officially the parents of this sweet girl:

And I really can't wait to see them walk off the plane that brings them all home.  We are praying for a miraculously smooth and speedy process and we are praising God for his faithfulness.

Waiting at the airport!

There she is!

First family photo!

God's way is perfect. All the LORD's promises prove true. He is a shield 
for all who look to him for protection. 
Psalm 18:30

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Straining Towards What's Ahead

I want to post an update with fun pictures of Christmas and birthdays and our first snow, and I will, but I have so many heavy thoughts running through my head and weighing on my heart, that I want to start there.

We left an amazing community when we moved last summer.  It was one of the biggest reasons I did not want to leave.

I can honestly say our lives would look so very different if it weren't for Summit Church in Orlando and the work that God did in our hearts there. 

Many of you have heard about our God ordained second visit to Summit Church on Africa Sunday 2008 that literally changed the course of our lives forever. It was in that service that I clearly heard God say that our children were in Africa (which was a little surprising seeing as we had just decided to adopt from Korea the night before and we had only planned on adopting one child).  Eight years and five kids later and I couldn't be more thankful for that word from the Lord and the support that we experienced at Summit and through our friends and family.

Which is why it is so confusing that the Lord would move us away from it all.

We are starting to find community, but it is not the same (please do not take offense if you are our new community, we are thankful for the many ways God has provided relationships here).  

Soldiers speak of a brotherhood with other soldiers that is unmatched in civilian life and that is how I can relate what we are experiencing here.  With our Florida friends and family we've been through some stuff.  We've walked the highest, happiest days and the lowest, darkest days together.  

There is an unspoken bond and understanding and we miss that.

The culture at Summit Church in Orlando lends itself to being a place where taking your next, often wild and crazy next step for the Lord is embraced and encouraged.  

It is a place where we could walk into the doors and our family looked "normal" and it didn't matter that we had eight kids from all different backgrounds and places.  We knew they would be loved and welcomed and treasured.

This is the the Church.  

This is Jesus.

We experienced a little bit of heaven each week in that place.

So this morning as I laid in bed praying for God to show us just why exactly we are here now and not there, God showed up, like he always does.

We've been praying and thinking of a name for our little farm.  We wanted it to be something significant.

We dream of the day we can make a little profit from our ventures and be able to pour into the ministries that God has laid before us, particularly in Ethiopia. 

As I continued to struggle through this moving process, I decided that this year, I would focus on joy.  Finding joy in the little things, seeking joy in the Lord and returning quickly to joy.  

I want to be joy-filled and I want to trust Him.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

So we settled on the name Desta Farms 
because Desta means "joy" in Amharic (the working Ethiopian language).

and we're claiming Pslam 126:3
The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.

Our friends' church here sponsors a care point in Holeta Ethiopia with Children's HopeChest and they still have 30 kids that need sponsors.  As I scrolled down the list of kids this morning I thought to myself, "how do you even pick one."

They are all precious and they all need someone to step out on their behalf.

I got to the very last picture and this sad little face was starring back at me:

She captured me and once I read her name, I knew why.

Meet Desta

Our newest sponsor child.  We love her already and pray that through our sponsorship she will find the joy of the Lord and that it will be her strength.

Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10

Don't miss this verse:  "send some to those who have nothing prepared"

Desta has nothing prepared, but through sponsorship she will now receive food, basic medical care, schooling and discipleship.

I am praising the Lord that he still speaks to his children and that he has chosen our family to partner with Children's HopeChest and the Holeta community to sponsor Desta.

We had decided to stay home this Sunday and listen to a sermon from Summit Church Orlando on podcast.  Wouldn't you know that the very first sermon on the list was this year's Africa Sunday message and that this annual message would once again directly affect our family.

I invite you to listen to the message from lead pastor John Parker.

And when you are done, if you are looking for a way to plug in, there are still 30 children waiting for their sponsor families.

click on the link and then select "unsponsored" on the "status" tab

I still do not know exactly why we are here or why this transition has been so hard for me, but I do know that God is faithful, his promises are true and I can trust him.

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philipeans 3:12-14