Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The First Snow

Here are some pictures of our first real snow of the season . . . and, of course, it was Isaiah's first time ever seeing and playing in snow. There was a bit of leftover snow on the ground when we first arrived back in the U.S. with him in March, but I don't think he noticed it ;o)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

So, where are we going?

If you’re like me, you like to have an answer to this question. You like to make plans and you like to know where you’re going. And, if you’re even more controlling (like me) you tend to not handle it well when those plans don’t go the way you expected.

Unless you have your computer volume muted, right now you’re probably hearing one of my current favorite songs, “If You Say Go”. I posted the words to this song in the previous post. It’s my favorite right now, because it’s my (our) heart’s cry. God has grown me and taught me and shown me things I never knew were possible. I’m humbled, I’m amazed, and I’m a little nervous!

You see, I know that God’s ways are much wiser and better than mine. His plans are perfect. They always go as He expects them to. But I also know that sometimes what is wise and good can hurt, a lot. I know that the hurt is for my good – I truly and sincerely believe that – but, as I know I’ve said before, that doesn’t mean I look forward to the possible (and inevitable) smack in the face of pain.

I like to make plans. Sure, I consult God on them. I pray for wisdom and seek Godly counsel. But then, somewhere along the lines they mutate from God’s plans into my plans. I hold on with both hands to my plans rather than keeping my eyes on the Planner. I think God is trying to teach me how to live without holding onto plans – even the good and right plans – to hold on to only Him.

And so the question, “where are we going?” The answer, I DON’T KNOW!!! And I’m on my knees asking God to help me be okay with that! We have some ideas. As I’ve said before, we deeply and sincerely believe that God wants to continue to expand our family through adoption. We’re absolutely thrilled and would love to have our lives be spent on loving “the least of these”, just as Christ does.

In order to expand our family through adoption, we need to expand our home. We could try to sell our house and move to one with more bedroom space. Or we can stay here and renovate. We think it’ll probably be stay here and renovate, and we’re praying, planning, and stepping forward in that direction. But, once again, I think the Lord is trying to encourage me to loosen my grip on those plans. He wants me to hold more tightly to Him. He wants me to be okay with not knowing, but trusting that He knows.

If you’ve ever wondered why we adopted our son, or why we would be crazy enough to want to do it again (and again . . . ), this video says it all. You’ve spent at least 7 minutes of your life doing some pretty worthless things – this clip is well worth the 7 minutes!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
You'll need to scroll down to the bottom, right side of the page to mute/pause the music player before watching this.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"If You Say Go"

If You say go, we will go
If You say wait, we will wait
If You say step out on the
And they say it can't be done
We'll fix our eyes on You

we will come

Your ways are higher than our ways
And the plans that You have laid
Are good and true
If You call us to the fire
You will not withdraw Your hand
We'll gaze into the flames

and look for You

Performed by: Rita Springer
Written by: Diane Kay Thiel
Vinyard Music USA

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Good Read

If you've got a minute to read, here is another excellent article by Russell D. Moore, the author of "Adopted for Life".

Click HERE to link to the article.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It's Legal

Just a short update. Back in June we filed our re-adoption papers with the state of Indiana, which included the name change and birth date change. It takes a couple months for them to process, but we now have Isaiah's Indiana birth certificate with his name and birth date legally changed. This doesn't change anything in regard to his status either as being in our family, as this was legal when we passed Ethiopian court in January. It also doesn't change his citizenship status. He's still considered a "permanent resident" of the United States. It's just something that has to be done. Now that we have the birth certificate, it makes doctors appointments and handling health insurance a little easier, and now we can move forward toward making him a citizen. The next step is applying for a Certificate of Citizenship for him, which we did last week. That could take several months to receive back, but once we have that, we can then get him a social security number.

We had some family pictures taken while we were out in PA at the end of August. The Smiths did a really great job! Here are a few of our favorites:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Doctors, Health Insurance & the Unexpected

If you're like me, doctors appointments are necessary and bearable, and health insurance is necessary and fine . . . when everything goes as it should . . . you go to the doctor, they submit the claim, the health insurance pays their portion. And, if you're like me, you know that little feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when there's a hiccup in that process - you get the bill again that was supposed to have already been paid. Well, I was having one of those moments this week when I received a medical bill for a doctor's appointment that Isaiah had back in March. Now, I wasn't too concerned because I had been going back and forth with our insurance and the billing department for a few months now trying to get everything worked out. I had been talking to one lady in the billing department every time I called, and she always seemed understanding and helpful. But I was wondering why we were receiving this bill again!

So, after some phone tag, and some voicemail messages explaining again in detail what I felt like I have explained to them at least 10 times before, I finally got to talk to someone. Like I said, I had always dealt with one lady, and even on the bill, the number listed to call goes directly to this girl's line. But this was a different lady. So, she let me know that finally they had gotten everything cleared up and they were able to submit the claim to insurance. Whew, done!

Then she began apologizing for the mix-up, and I so I explained to her (for the first time) that I understood why, and tried to explain to her the reasons we don't know Isaiah's actual birth date. She was very inquisitive, and after more conversation I had mentioned my other children to which she commented "How many children have you adopted?" When I told her I had four biological and only one adopted, she seemed a little puzzled.

And then, the UNEXPECTED . . . she said to me "so then why did you decide to adopt?" Really??? Ya wanna know??? I'll admit, I was completely taken by surprise - an opportunity to share Christ with a total stranger was hitting me in the face! And so, I told her why! I told her of Christ's love for the fatherless and of my adoption in Christ. I'm sure not very eloquently as I fumbled over my words and my thoughts all trying to put themselves in order! But I got to share Christ, and prayerfully the seed was planted!!

Now, if you are a blog reader of mine, I pray that you know exactly what I'm talking about. I pray you have been adopted into God's family. But if you haven't, it's the most important adoption there is. It's why I live. It's why I do what I do. It's the driving force behind my life.

You see, I was a sinner, separated from God because of my sin. Because He is completely Holy, He can have nothing near Him that isn't . . . and I was not. God could've left it at that. But He didn't. He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the price that I could never pay. To be the pure, sinless sacrifice to pay the penalty for my sin. He watched His Son go through unspeakable torture and separation from Him, because on the cross, God looked at His Son and saw my sin. And then He gave His Son victory over death. So now, I can come before a Holy God, not because I am any better, but because now when He looks at me, He sees Christ's pure sinlessness . . . and He sees me as His child! He wants to do the same for you!

And so tonight, I am praising God for the unexpected, the extraordinary. He put my sin on His Son, and clothed me with His righteousness. And this week, He gave me an opportunity to share that with someone unexpected!

"Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God."
II Corinthians 5:20-21

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Here, There & Everywhere . . .

Okay, so it’s been a really long time since I’ve posted a family update. I’ve been wanting to, and planning to, and even written a few in my head . . . but, unfortunately, it hasn’t gotten further than that for quite a while. I started this blog a few years ago to keep out of town family up-to-date on the kids . . . then my sister talked me into joining facebook and the blog died off. Then I restarted when we began our adoption journey a little over a year and a half ago now, to keep those interested updated on our process. Since we’ve been home, I guess I’ve been too busy?

In just a few days, September 6, we will mark six months that Isaiah has been home with us in the United States. It’s hard to believe. On one hand, it seems like it was just yesterday that we were going through all of the adoption paperwork, etc.; but on the other hand, it’s hard to believe it’s only been six months! One of the most common questions I get these days is “How do you think Isaiah’s doing/adjusting?” Which, to be honest, is really a hard question to answer. We’ve never done parenting from this starting point before. And, frankly, even if we had, every child and background can be so varied, it’s just really hard to tell. And so my answer usually is, we think he’s doing fine and adjusting well. He really is a pretty easy going kid, and almost immediately fell into line with the “crew”. Of course there are some differences in that we need to do more assuring him of his place in our hearts and family, while at the same time trying to set clear and consistent boundaries for a 3 yr old boy. By this time in their lives, our other children may not have liked their boundaries, but they had no doubts that we loved them and that they belonged in our family. He does seem to know that we are “his” and has a clear preference of us over anyone else, which is great in regards to the attachment/bonding that we pray will continue to grow between him and us. Of course, Isaiah is only 3, and he is a boy, so he doesn’t seem to have much thought past what is in the “right now” of his life, which I think is probably a good thing for him. But really, only God knows what is coming down the road for him and us, and we pray He will continue to equip us to be his and all of our children’s parents.

Over the past few months, we have been able to see Isaiah through a lot of “firsts”, and he seems to take it all in stride. Even some of the scarier medical things like doctors, immunizations, etc., he seems to deal well with. Don’t get me wrong, he’ll scream like you're cutting his leg off when he gets a shot, but he seems to get over it fairly quickly. Back in June, Joe’s two sisters and their families came out at separate times, so Isaiah was able to meet them and get to know them a little bit. Then at the end of August, we took our first long road trip out to PA to introduce Isaiah to my side of our family. He actually did really well for the 10+ hours in the car, although he does like to make non-stop repetitive noise to entertain himself . . . but he was always good about it when mommy or daddy just had to say “Okay, Isaiah, enough!” to which he would just reply “Okay!” . . . and then he would wait about 5 min. before finding a new noise to entertain himself ;o)

The week in Lansdale went well, and Isaiah seemed totally good with everyone and everything. Just taking in and enjoying everything. Then we spent a second week up at my parents’ mountain house, which all of us thoroughly enjoyed. Isaiah just loved riding and watching the four wheeler! Of course, if you spend any amount of time with Isaiah, you’ll quickly realize that he is absolutely enthralled with any type of vehicle. I mean, my other boys have liked to play with cars, but this kid is obsessed with them!

The other kids are also doing well. They love Isaiah and he loves them. Joshua and Isaiah are my favorite two to watch together – they’re hilarious! They laugh and joke together, and, somehow, Joshua seems to have absolutely no problem understanding exactly what Isaiah is saying. Of course, put the two of them in a room, if something bad “goes down”, they’ll deny it and blame each other to the death!

We just started school this week after an unusually long summer break. The kids were dreading it . . . and I’ll admit I was, too, but we are using a new curriculum for some of our subjects, which I think all of us are enjoying. And Joshua and Isaiah are again getting back in the routine of having to entertain themselves a bit more with the older kids and mommy busy with school. Joshua will be four at the end of the month, so he is talking daily about whether he will have chocolate cake or brownies for his birthday. I’m sure it will change at least 26 more times from now ‘til then!

We are also so excited to see what God continues to do! Some good friends of ours who walked closely beside us during our adoption journey have recently announced that they are beginning the steps toward adoption! So very excited with and for them!! We also had the opportunity while we were in PA to meet with some adoptive families who we’ve been sharing our journey with over the last several months, which was really so special! We’ve seen God continue to do amazing things in our lives as well as those around us . . . we are humbled to be able to serve Him!

Joe and I talked about this while we were Ethiopia, but we just didn’t think that we were done with adoption, or that God was done with it in our lives. We knew for sure that we didn’t want to go back to living “ordinary” Christian lives. We don’t want to be comfortable in our little corner of the world, with our comfortable “Americanized” Christianity. And thanks to reading “Radical” by David Platt, that mindset continues to be impressed on our hearts. We know what our desires are, but we also know that even things that look good and right may not be God’s best for His glory. We continue to pray toward what God has for us, and continue to feel that we are not “done” . . . now what exactly that will look like for us, we don’t know. But we’re praying and seeking God’s leading, and we have full confidence that He will direct our steps.

Wow, I guess I really should update this a little more often ;o) I’ll close with one of the funniest things I’ve heard one of my kids say in a long time – the kids were sitting down to lunch yesterday. Some of the kids were starting to eat and I was in the kitchen getting the last few lunches ready. Isaiah was one of the ones already eating, and he was eating spaghetti, which is his absolute favorite meal that we know of so far. And then I hear it . . . my 6-yr.-old Madie exclaims, “Wow, if all the kids in Ethiopia eat like Isaiah, no wonder they don’t have enough food!” Still makes me laugh! Anyway, enjoy some pictures!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I have no words . . .

Friday, June 25, 2010

Looking Back . . . Friday . . . FINALLY!!!

So, we've been home from Ethiopia for about 3 1/2 months now, and I'm FINALLY concluding our pictures and recap for the week! I did have to go back and look and found that I did actually already give the day's events and travel home in pretty good detail, so this post is mainly to post some of our pictures from our tour of the coffee factory, our travel group, and a few last snapshots we got on our way out.

Don't know if I've said it here before, but I miss Ethiopia. We don't know what God has for us in the future, but my heart is tied to that country and people!

I don't know why these pictures always upload in opposite order, but with this many, I'm not even going to try to rearrange them!!

In Dubai - watching our plane come in

Our travel group

David & "T"
. . . and don't laugh at my sloppy clothes and washed-out face,
you know what kind of a week we had!!! ;o)

Who loves coffee? We do!!

The one roaster for the entire factory -
the coffee we bought was still warm!

The "lab" where they taste-test different coffees from around the world (even Starbucks!) and compare to their own.
sink for spitting coffee in after they taste - kinda looks like a dentist sink!

Ladies who's job it is to sit all day picking out "bad" coffee beans. They have about 2 minutes for each batch before it zips away and a new batch slides in front of them.