Sunday, December 25, 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS!


..."They will call him Emmanuel-which means God with us."

Matthew 1:23

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Few Details

It's been a pretty busy time of the year to drop the news that we're adopting again. I finally have a few minutes to post some of the details.

First, we don't know who our baby is yet. We've just submitted our dossier, so we are now in the "waiting for a referral" stage. We've requested to be matched with a baby boy 0-6 months!

So, how did we get back here? Well, it all started when I was in Ethiopia to pick up Rahel. It seemed like almost everyone in my travel group was adopting a baby boy-I was surrounded. I just had the nagging feeling that we were suppose to be adding a boy to the mix. Then, on the airplane ride home, we sat behind a family and their new baby boy and all I could think is "we're leaving someone behind." I know that sounds crazy-we hadn't even officially gotten Rahel home and I was already feeling like we'd be going back. In fact, I told my friend Heidi that I was going back as soon as we stepped off the plane.

Only problem with that--my husband DID think I was crazy--and who wouldn't really. We've been on a whirl wind adoption ride over the past two years and it does seem a little out there. The one thing he did say was, "if it's God's will, then we'll adopt again" followed by--"but please don't talk to me about it for at least a year." So I prayed and prayed. I actually prayed that if this nagging feeling that we were not quite done was not from God that he would take it away. Sometimes I begged him to take it away, but I just couldn't shake the prompting.

Over the summer, I would awake early in the morning after having vivid dreams about our baby boy. It seemed as if God was continuing to nudge me towards adopting again. So, I changed my prayer. Instead of asking him to take away this feeling, I prayed that he would turn Nick's heart towards adoption in his perfect time and that I would be patient.

During that time of prayer, I was in a women's bible study reading the book "Sun Stand Still." It's about asking the impossible of our big God because he is certainly able to remove any obstacle, change hearts, and do the impossible. On one particular night, October 24th, my friend who is adopting with our agency said that they had just taken in a large group of severely malnourished babies. I had been reading about the drought conditions that had led to wide spread famine in the Horn of Africa and how nearly half of Ethiopia was now in an "emergency state of drought." I had seen pictures of starving little babies and it just hit me--I had a strong feeling that our baby was already born or in his mom's womb and that we needed to act sooner than later.

So that night, I went home and told Nick, "I really think our baby is either in his mother's belly or already born." This was a turning point, because this time he said, "I'm sure you're right." It was the first time he didn't counter my adoption talk with a "let's wait" response. The next day, I mentioned that we needed to schedule Rahel's 6 month post-placement visit with our social worker and that maybe we should ask her if she could also write an updated home study for us to adopt a baby since she'd already be here and a revision is less costly than a completely new home study. His response--"that makes sense

So I scheduled it and we had our home visit on November 9th. Over the next few weeks, my husband really sought the Lord and I could see a visible change in him as he began to trust that this was God's plan and lead us in that direction. We had bible study the night of our home study and as he told the group about it he said, "I'm excited to see who our next child is." Let's just say I was beaming. Here is a man announcing his excitement over the next little one to come in our family just 3 months after asking me not to talk about it for at least a year. It was just such clear confirmation that this was only from God.

God gave us other confirmation leading up to us saying "yes" as our pastor preached out of the book of Acts. One Sunday, our pastor was teaching about Phillip and the Ethiopian and how Phillip had worked hard and done the will of God and was on his way home for some rest when God interrupted and told him to go south to the desert road. He said, "Phillip could have said no--he could have listed all the hard work he had already done for the Lord and how he didn't know if he had anything left to give, but Phillip said YES--even though he had lots of excuses he could have used." He then asked, "How much comfort are you willing to forgo so that the kingdom of God can go forward? If God is calling you to do something--lean in and follow that prompting." He said, "You may have a much easier life if you don't, but others will miss out." I just couldn't help but think of the little one that would be missing out on the love of a family if we said "no" to adopting again.

On another Sunday he said, "It's time to make room at the table-even if it's not convenient-but because it is right." It was vivid imagery as our table only seats 8 people as does our car. When we were contemplating adopting Rahel, we kept saying, "we have one more seat at the table and one more seat in our car, so why not adopt her." This time though, we are maxed out. We will have to MAKE ROOM (even if it is not convenient). I'm looking forward to that.

So the next question we usually get after telling people that we're adopting again is "are you done now." Well, I really think that we will be complete once we bring our little boy home. I keep coming back to the imagery of a train (we've added 6 kids over the past 7 1/2 years, and it definitely feels like a "train" of kids have come through here). As I picture our family, this new baby feels like the caboose to our train-brining up the rear. My neighbor came over to notarize some of our paperwork and when I told her that we thought we were done after this one she said, "Seven-the number of perfection and completion-you know from the bible." I thought that sounded just about right-our seven from heaven-what a blessing!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

An Announcement From the Kids

***pause music at the bottom***



video

We are so excited! More details to come.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Caleb

I've written about all 5 other kids in recent posts, so I owe one more post to our Caleb.

He was our first child and what a joy he is to us. I always dreamed of being a mom and once I finally had a baby of my very own, I never put him down. Literally. The boy never touched the ground for his first year of life. I happily carried him around in a sling or back pack until I was pregnant with our next child. The result--a very content (as long as he was touching me) 28 lb one year old!!! Yep-28 pounds of rolly goodness. Picture the Michelin Man (only super cute).


Well, he's all grown up now and still one of the cuddliest and loving kids.


We made "bird nests covered in snow" during school last week with our bird unit.


He loves spending time with his dad (so do I)!


He's a great big brother (so long as no one knocks down his lego creations:)



He and Hermela are great friends. They enjoyed being on the same soccer team this year and he recently taught Hermela how to ride her bike without training wheels--he was so proud that he had taught her how to do it.

We are so thankful for our first arrow in the quiver that seems to always be growing.


We we named him Caleb just because we liked it and Nicholas after Nick of course. We recently did a school project that had us look up the meanings of every one's names. We found that Caleb Nicholas means "bold, courageous, victorious for the Lord" (we added the "for the Lord" part, but think it is pretty fitting).

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Catch Up Time

Here's the last month in pictures. The blog has to take the back burner, so I'm a little behind.



The kids finished out a great season of soccer in November. They all had a great time and all enjoyed it.


Here's their biggest fan (he was a big fan of the dirt hill as well).
We've embarked on a new adventure as RV campers. Now, I love to be outside, but sleeping outside, well--it's just not my thing. The RV has been a great solution for this and a really economical way to travel with a family of 8. We took it out for our inaugural trip over Thanksgiving weekend.



Here's the back-it's wide open-which is great for all the kids.





The kitchen.






Dining Room/Master suite





Camping out with a movie.


The campground was on the beach!


Soccer with dad.









Thanksgiving dinner-RV style (my mom made most of it and brought it up on Thanksgiving Day). It was yummy!


My little feasters.



The next day, we went to St. Augustine. It was lots of fun as we had studied this early settlement in school.







We visited the fort.












Gee Gee and Paw paw went too.



Then we had one more adventure on our trip. My awesome husband gave me a super thoughtful early 10th anniversary gift (our anniversary is in about 3 weeks). He surprised me with this double skulling boat that he found and had refinished for me (I rowed on the crew team in high school and coached for a while in college).


It felt great to be out on the water (I haven't rowed for probably 13 years or more).



Just like riding a bike-it all came right back. Nick picked it up pretty quickly too.







I got this little "Rahel" ornament on our trip to add to the family of ginger bread people so Rahel wouldn't be left our when we got home to decorate our tree. She loved it and also loved seeing all of the decorations-especially the nativity.


Colton enjoyed the toy soldiers.



My two clowns.



Next up-daddy's birthday. All the kids took their time making him cards.






















Nick and my brother share a birthday, so he came over to celebrate as well (he's not a big fan of taking pictures, but he humored me).


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sweet Caroline

Since I've done recent posts about all the kids lately except Caroline and Caleb (post on him to follow soon), I figured I'd feature our sweet Caroline. She has many nicknames, including Louie, Lou-bell, Little-Lou, and daddy's favorite, Louie-bell-ice-cream (like blue bell ice cream-which we don't even eat, but anyway). I have no idea where the "Lou" came from, but she does remind me of Cindy-Lou-Hoo from the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, so maybe that's where it came from.

Anyways, she is a great helper and almost always eager to pitch in. She loves it when it's her cooking day-every Thursday-and she usually wakes up early all excited to let me know it's her day-which also means her day ends in the rocking chair with mom.



She's the little mommy /want-to-be rule enforcer/ finder of all things missing/ determined/ likes-things-to-go-as-planned/keep-us-all-on-track girl of the house. I think she gets most of those qualities from me-which can of course be both good and bad. She lives life full speed, works hard and loves school.


Of all of our family members, she's had to make the most adjustments as we've added 3 sisters in 16 months to our family. She was the only girl and only granddaughter for 3.5 years and went from a house in which anything girly was indeed hers (the boys won't touch that stuff). To sharing pretty much everything. That's some pretty big change, but such a blessing and good life lesson that the world does not revolve around just her. She's done really well with that and now actually prefers to "share" even a bed with Rahel-they sleep together most nights and are really good buddies.


I took these pictures over Thanksgiving and I just love them. They show all sides of her fiesty little personality.





We love you sweet Caroline Grace. You are such gift to us!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Some More Special Days


Well, it seems we're on a roll over here with special days.


On November 17th, our sweet Meron asked Jesus into her heart.

We were sitting in the living room folding laundry and she said, "You know mom, I'm going to ask Jesus into my heart." I said, "You are? When are you going to do that?" She said, "Right now." And so she did. We prayed together and all the kids cheered and hugged her. The whole rest of the weekend, she kept saying, "Mom, I'm so happy I asked Jesus into my heart."

So are we!



Meron has the sweetest heart-full of love. She loves the Lord with "faith like a child." It's the kind of love we should all have-pure and without reservation. We are so excited to see what plans the Lord has in store for her and pray she always follows him with all her heart.




So, we have these conversations about Jesus and salvation and what it really means to be a Christian all the time. It's one of my very favorite parts about home schooling-we get to spend lots of time talking about Jesus.


On Tuesday, we were learning our verse for the week:

John 14:6-Jesus answered, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

As we discussed what that meant, we got into the crucifixion, resurrection, salvation......I asked the kids, "Now, who has come to the Father through Jesus." The four that had, raised their hands. Rahel just glanced around. I could tell she was really pondering it all.



So, I asked her if she had ever asked Jesus into her heart in Ethiopia. I knew she was taught about God and that she and her family went to church, but now that we have the language to understand each other better, I could finally ask her that question. She said she didn't know.


So here's where the other kids joined in. Hermela said, "You can ask him right now!" All the kids got really excited. Then Caleb broke down her options for her, "Rahel, he said firmly. Do you want to burn in fire with Satan? Or, do you want to live with Jesus?" Well, kind of a brunt approach, but at least he's evangelising. Got to love some positive peer pressure.



So, I asked her if she wanted to pray to ask Jesus into her heart and she smiled and said yes.


I held her hand and when she looked up, she had tears in her eyes. They kids hugged her and we told her the angels were celebrating in heaven.



Then, we talked some about how their earthly adoption into our family is like the heavenly adoption that we all experience when we are "adopted" into God's family as sons and daughters.


We tell our children often that God has great plans for their lives. That night, I told Rahel again that God must really have a special plan for her to bring her all the way to America so she could accept Jesus into her heart. She just smiled and nodded her head.



Now, the kids keep saying, we just need Colton to pray so our whole family will be Christians.

We look forward to that day and pray that our family will live our lives as followers of Christ-loving him and loving others.

For "Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved." Romans 10:13

In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." Luke 15:10