Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

I love January. I always look forward to it with almost as much excitement as I feel when Christmas is coming. I love a fresh start with endless possibilities. I love getting back to homeschooling after a break for the holidays. I love the idea of resolutions and the hopefulness of asking God to grow me more like Himself in the coming year.

This year as usual I'm looking forward to January, but honestly I'm also feeling a bit anxious. I already know that God is bringing huge changes to our family in the next year as we travel to Ethiopia and bring Yoseph and Mihret home. And as much as I am extremely eager to get them home, sometime the "unknowns" of the situation feel quite scary to me. So I'm stepping into the new year with the following words at heart (from an 1809 poem by Minnie Haskins titled "The Gate of the Year"):

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year
"Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown."
And he replied, "Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!"

So as we head into the new year tomorrow, I'm purposefully stepping out into the darkness of the unknown. And as I believe that we are going the way God is leading us, I know that it truly is better than a known way. (Scarier, but better!) I wonder what next year's "Happy New Year" post might contain?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snow Day!!!

It's now 4:30 pm on Saturday, and it's been snowing pretty steadily for 24 hours. I am almost speechless. It's been at least 15 years since I've seen this much snow. The kids have been in a cycle all day; play outside, come in and drink hot chocolate while we dry their coats and mittens, then back outside again. What fun! I couldn't help taking lots of pictures, knowing that it could be a long time before we see this kind of snow again. Here's an overview of our day:
This was the view from our deck when we woke up this morning. (See Sunshine above, gazing out the window in her pajamas.)

Jim playing in the snow.

Sunshine's first steps into our "winter wonderland."

Sweet Pea dives in.

Tiger and Samson "snow wrestling."

Boo and Sunshine headed out again (they've switched snowsuits now!)

Look closely at the driveway; a tree has fallen into it! Several trees are broken or down in the backyard as well.

We capped off the day with a night-time walk in the snow (looking for Christmas lights in our neighborhood).

Boo makes a snow angel (yes, right in the middle of the street!)

Home again...and Jim tackles Tiger over the top of a snowdrift.

Good night!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Let it snow!!

The forecast here is for 12 to 24 inches of snow!! I don't think any of our children have EVER seen that much snow! It seemed like fun to make it snow on my blog as well, but maybe tomorrow I'll have some fun pictures of real snow. LOTS of real snow! I've told the kids stories about how much snow we had "up north" when I was growing up, and now they're all in their beds dreaming about all the fun they'll have tomorrow. And maybe all week: it's supposed to stay cold enough that this snow will likely stay around. I can't wait for tomorrow. Sledding, snowmen, snowball fights, hot chocolate...and I would love to go for a walk tomorrow evening after dark and look at all of the neighborhood Christmas lights in the snow. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Just a little Christmas fun

Sweet Pea and I found two websites that our children have enjoyed this week. If you're looking for deep, meaningful Advent activities, you'll probably want to look elsewhere! But these are cute and fun (and a good quiet activity for a small or medium sized person who needs to wind down a little in the midst of holiday busyness, if you know what I mean!)

This first one lets you decorate (and e-mail if you want) a virtual gingerbread man:

On this one you can create a snowman family, decorate a Christmas tree, or set up a Nativity scene:


Monday, December 7, 2009

What will they see?

Sometime tomorrow, Mihret and Yoseph will see our faces for the first time. A precious family from our agency is in Addis right now to bring their little girl home, and they're delivering packages to Mihret and Yoseph for us. We were allowed to send each child whatever we could fit into a gallon sized ziplock bag. How inadequate this felt, for all of the love we wanted to communicate in that little bag! We packed a cute little shirt for each child (having one's own clothing is prized at the care center, though eventually it will become community property), along with some little toys, crayons, etc. But most importantly, we were able to make them each a small photo album filled with pictures of our home and family. I can't stop thinking about this, and wondering what they'll think of it. What will the nannies tell them? How will they even begin to understand what all of this means? They are still fresh from the arms of their mother; only having been in the orphanage for a few weeks. I can't think, without tears, of having the nannies point at my picture and tell them that I am their "Amaye/Mother" while they still must be greiving the only mother they've ever known. I don't know how long it's been since their father died, but what will they think when the nannies point at Jim's picture and tell them that he is their "Abaye/Daddy"? I wonder how confusing this must be to a little girl of three, and a little boy not even two. My heart is breaking for them. But I keep reminding myself that God knows all of this, and that He is Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals. He can heal all of the wounds that these little ones have suffered (just as He's healed many of mine). It's because of Him that Jim and I really will be Mama and Daddy to these two. It's because of Him that we have the capacity to love them, and that they will (over time) have the capacity to receive our love and to know us as their parents. It's a miracle, really.

And I can only believe that it's possible because of this: that somehow we are able to know the love of God as our Father. Although we are wounded and lost, He teaches us to love Him and trust Him. Sometimes, for some of us (me!), it's a long journey to reach that point. To really understand what it means to know God as a loving Father. To know that He desires us, loves us, and will never leave us. And honestly, Mihret and Yoseph are already teaching me all that I long for them to know about being loved by an adoptive parent. My understanding of God's love for me deepens every time I look at their pictures and love them.

Here again, this Advent season is made so much richer for me as I wait for our children. I read this today (from Martin Luther):

"Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given" (Isa. 9:6). This is for us the hardest point, not so much to believe that He is the son of the virgin and God himself, as to believe that this Son of God is ours. That is where we wilt, but He who does feel it has become another man. Truly it is marvelous in our eyes that God should place a little child in the lap of a virgin and that all our blessedness would lie in Him. And this Child belongs to all mankind. God feeds the whole world through a Babe nursing at Mary's breast. This must be our daily exercise: to be transformed into Christ, being nourished by this food. Then will the heart be suffused with all joy and will be strong and confident against every assualt."

So today my prayer is that someday Mihret and Yoseph will embrace these truths. That even next Christmas, they will find some new meaning in the birth of a Savior. That He is theirs. And that somehow He might even use our imperfect love for them as an illustration of His perfect love for them. And now I sigh. And long for Him and for them.

Having said all of that, may I just make a confession? I am longing for them to love the little shirts and socks and toys in those ziplock bags. Boo has been wrapping up little presents for Mihret and putting them under our Christmas tree. As I said, our love is imperfect. But we are longing to shower them with it!