Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pure Joy

That's what I feel every time I think of our sweet Eli Tesfa!

I feel so blessed that we get to have another baby and that it gets to be Eli.  He is just the happiest most delightful baby and I am honored that God has chosen him to be a part of our family.

I got these pictures last week from another family that traveled to bring home their child.  Each time we get pictures, it's bitter sweet.  We're so happy to get a glimpse of him, but it makes it so much harder to wait to scoop him up and have him home with us.

We feel like God has given us such a gift.

Our small group is doing a study right now about hearing God's call. As crazy as it sounded at the time, I am so thankful that we heard God's call to bring one more precious child home.  I am looking so forward to having our new little son home and I can't imagine what joy we would have missed out on if we had not answered God's call to bring our baby boy home from Ethiopia.

We love you sweet boy and can't wait to have you home!  Please pray that our case moves through the embassy quickly and that we are approved to travel in the next couple of weeks and for God's continued provision as we near the end of this journey.

Those who know your name will trust in you, for you have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10

Monday, September 17, 2012

Seven--What Would Happen To Them????

So as we get closer and closer to adding our seventh little treasure to the family, I've kicked it into high gear around here lately purging and reorganizing and making room for one more person to "fit" into our home.

We moved into our house in 2007 when we had only two kids.  Caleb was 3 and Caroline was not quite a year old.  Little did we know that we would add 5 kids over the next 5 years and our spacious 3 bedroom home would become a little less spacious.

Now, we by no stretch of the imagination are in need of anything.  Especially after spending time in Ethiopia and with the knowledge that half of our children spent the majority of their lives in houses the size of our laundry room with their whole families sharing one bed each night.

Never the less, we were questioned many times about where we would live when people found out we were adopting the first time.  I mean, we only have 3 bedrooms after all, so where in the world would we put our new daughters when they got home?  We also get the comments, "you must have a huge house (or a lot of money :-)" from a curious shopper or mom on the playground fairly often.  Umm....not so much.

But, our cozy 1780 square feet home has everything we need.  Rooms to sleep in, rooms to get clean in, rooms to cook and eat in, a school room, a playroom, a family room and a great back yard with a big tree for the kids to play in.  Really, more than enough room for our family.

The problem is, we have too much stuff.

We are living a life of excess like the majority of Americans.  Even though I try to weed out periodically, stuff just seems to keep accumulating.

Every now and then, I get that little thought in my head that we'll have to move eventually so that everyone (but lets be honest--really so that everything) will fit.

But lucky for me--and my kids (although I think they may be singing a slightly different tune after today's toy room clean out :-).  I've been reading a book called "Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" by Jen Hatmaker

The premise of the book is that our modern day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence are blurring our view of what a rich, blessed and generous life really should look like if we are truly seeking to live like Jesus.

When we think of the rich, we are usually not thinking of ourselves, but the statistics tell us that if we earn more than $10,000 a year, we are in the top 13% of wage earners in the world.  More than $20,000--top 5%.

We are the rich ones and yet the "machine of excess" has made us poor.

Not only that, it has often times resulted in the needy remaining needy, the lonely remaining lonely, the orphans remaining orphans, the sick remaining sick, the hopeless remaining hopeless.....

So many times, our "need" to keep up with our stuff outweighs the true needs of the world around us.

We don't have time or money to help others we tell ourselves.  We are too busy or overextended as it is.  We have to work a lot to pay for all our stuff after all.  Not to mention all the time we spend cleaning our stuff, buying new stuff, organizing our stuff.....

I'm as guilty as anyone as evidence by the amount of stuff we pulled out of our playroom today and the 6 hours we spent sorting, organizing, purging and cleaning.

Eight years ago, we had not one of these items in our home--NOT ONE.

This book is really challenging me to cut out the excess.  

It is nothing I haven't felt before.  I feel it EVERY time I go to Africa.  You look around and the needs are so great.  NEEDS--actual needs like food and clean water, basic clothing and shelter, medical care and families.

Things have got to change.  If we are to be called followers of Jesus, our lives need to reflect the life he lived.

Excess was not a part of it.

His commands are simple--love God and love people as yourself.

There is no way we would think it is ok for ourselves to be without food, water, clothing, shelter, or the love of a family.

It's just not ok.

I love this quote from Martin Luther King Jr:

"The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But the good Samaritan reversed the question, "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"

What would happen if we stopped asking, "what would happen to me" and started asking, "what would happen to them?"

There are so many ways to get involved--local shelters, feeding the homeless, neighbors who just need some encouragement, praying for those in need, visiting the orphans and widows in distress, sponsorship, foster care......

To learn more:

Sponsor a child in Haiti at Fond Blanc (via Children's Hopechest)

Sponsor a child in Ethiopia at Trees of Glory (via Children's Hopechest)

Africa Windmill Project  (life giving water and sustainable agriculture in Malawi, Africa)

Children's Hopechest (Sponsorship around the world)

Ordinary Hero (get involved where you are and around the world)

Visiting Orphans (mission trips/orphan support)

Children of the Nations (raising up leaders of tomorrow through orphan care and sponsorship)

Hearing Loss Prevention (Ethiopia) hearing loss education/training/treatment and prevention clinics in Ethiopia

***feel free to comment if you have an organization you would like to add to the list***

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Back In The Swing Of Things

The boys kicked of the Fall 2012 season today with three wins!

Colton played up in the 6-8 year old division (he's only 4 but thinks he is a professional) for his first game and got the first win of the season. He got two great hits off the pitching machine and scored a run.  I think the coaches and the players were surprised that he was able to hang in there with the older guys.

gotta love that face

Then he went all out and got a great hit and scored a run to help his team win their game

Caleb had a great first game in the kid-pitch division--watching the ball like a champ and taking several walks to first.  He also made it in to score a run for his team and had a few good stops at second base.

most importantly, he had a great time

And of course, their faithful cheering section of mom, dad, grandparents and sisters were on the sidelines rooting them on the whole way.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Melkam Addis Amet!!

Happy Ethiopian New Year!!

We celebrated the new year with yummy Ethiopian food and dancing this past weekend.  I finally made some pretty good injera (I've tried and failed at this many, many times but now have a good recipe that works--nothing like what you get in Ethiopia, but at least my kids are happy with it).

My biggest girl ready for the feast.

All my girls!

The whole clan minus daddy (taking picture) and Eli (until next year :-)

Nothing makes this girl happier than a piece of meat.  She was delighted to get to eat the chicken leg.

After dinner, we broke it down with some Ethiopian music and dancing.  These two  goofballs --Rahel dancing in the background and Meron giving me her best eyebrow lift.

We had a blast celebrating the new year. We are so thankful for the rich culture 
our girls have brought to our family.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Camping--Disney Style

I'm not much of a camper-never have been.  I love being outside, hiking, rafting, swimming, enjoying nature....I just don't like to sleep with nature.  Thankfully, we've taken the easy way out and have camper equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, shower and beds--now that's much more my speed.  

I also enjoy camp grounds with amenities like:

swimming pools


 savannas with free animal viewing areas

 campfire sing alongs with Disney characters 

and outdoor movies

a splash park

and quite rides (it wasn't quiet--we had 20 kids with us,
 but you can't tell it from this picture) on the monorail

Caroline with Grandad

Now that's camping--Disney style--and that's just the way I like it.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Growing Up and Getting Ready

Since the chances of me actually getting a baby book put together for Eli are slim to none, I thought I could at least post a few photos of his first few months as we have watched him grow up in pictures.

This is the first picture we saw of our sweet boy (yes, he's wearing girl clothes--a theme that will be repeated :-)  We were just in awe of what a blessing God had bestowed on us.  Such a handsome little guy.  We knew right away that he was meant to be our son.

2 months old

2 1/2 months
 3 1/2 months
4 month with a package from home.
Sporting his favorite color pink at 5 1/2 months
he would make a pretty cute girl (5 1/2 months)

Here he is at 6 months old when I went for court.  He has the sweetest little features!
and the happiest little smile
Here's the latest picture we've received of him at almost 7 months old with his nanny.
I can't believe how much he has grown since I saw him last.
This past week, I could hardly sleep and woke up early several days in a row.  I couldn't shut my mind off to the lengthening list of "to dos" before Eli comes home (let the nesting begin).  Number one on the list was to get the crib out of storage and get the boys room ready for their new baby brother.  What a relief it was to get that checked off my list.

Lexi knows we're getting ready for another little one.  She guarded the crib all afternoon.

Our case is almost ready to be submitted to the US Embassy for final clearance for us to come and pick him up.  We are hoping and praying our file will be ready by this Wednesday (files can only be submitted on Wednesdays, so if not this Wednesday, we'll have to wait until the next or the next, but we're praying it's not that long :-). 

 I can hardly believe that we have been given this amazing gift and he is almost home!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Trees of Glory Update Part 3


A few years ago, there were no animals living at TOG and now they are everywhere!

 Several mommy cows (I think there were 6 or 8 adult cows all together) are giving milk which is used for the children and staff.  

And quite a few baby calves were running around.  They keep some and are also able to sell some of the calves.

 After stopping by the stable, we were off to the newly constructed chicken coop.  Now I'm not a farm girl, so this may not be saying much, but this is the largest chicken coop I've ever seen.  It has it's own attendant that meticulously cares for the chickens.  It is amazingly clean inside.  We even had to wash off our shoes with bleach before we could enter. 

It was very quiet until Simret started to walk around with her scoop of food.  Then all kinds of chicken craziness broke loose as they pushed and shoved to the front of the cages for a bite.

We got in on the feeding action.

And then I noticed that one little chicken had gotten out.  Simret laughed and said, "No.  He is free." Apparently Simret has her favorites and this guy gets to run free--a true "free range" chicken :-)

And last, but not least, we got to see our donkey friend who has now been put out to pasture now that his water-hauling days are over.  He's now the only donkey in Ethiopia that doesn't have to work for a living :-)

The staff at TOG is expecting eggs any day now from all those chickens.  They will use some of the eggs and also be able to sell a great deal more.  This project has given them a great source of income and nutrition and helped make TOG more self-sustainable.  Again, another blessing to the community as well as the kids at TOG.