Tuesday, January 26, 2010

YES !!!

Yoseph and Mihret are officially part of our family; we passed court!! We are so thankful to all of you who were praying yesterday and last night. I was overwhelmed to hear from friends who were up in the night praying for them (as I was!) As I was praying last night, this is the passage that I kept coming back to:

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

Bless the LORD, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the LORD, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the LORD, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!

We are so thankful, and so excited!  Though we still don't know exactly when we'll travel, it should be within 6 weeks.  By mid-March we hope to be home, with our family all together under one roof.

And even more good news; we also got an e-mail today from a precious mom who just adopted two children through our agency. She was at the care center last week and spent time with Yoseph and Mihret, and gave us a wonderful report on both children. The kids and I were dancing in the kitchen at hearing the good news of passing court as we looked at the first pictures we've seen of Yoseph with a smile. And yes, I can show you now! Here they are:

Mihret looking pensive

He smiles!

Brother and Sister

That's our picture she's holding!  (And yes, we sent her those M&Ms; it
may be a rude awakening when they realize our house isn't filled with candy!)

We will post more as soon as we know when we'll be traveling. We would love for you to continue praying for the following;  that all of the paperwork, medicals, etc. that have to happen in Ethiopia before we travel will happen as quickly as possible, that we will be able to get everything done here in preparation for traveling, and that Mihret and Yoseph will be protected as they stay in the care center for 6 more weeks.  And, that we will keep our eyes fixed on the One who is orchestrating it all.

We'll keep you posted!

Monday, January 25, 2010

I hope you'll read this

Jim and I have been talking a lot lately about what life will look like after Mihret and Yoseph come home. But oddly, it's not about what daily life will look like with 6 children, or even about issues related to adjusting and attaching with two traumatized toddlers who don't speak English. Our conversations are about what God wants us to do next. These children are not the end of a mission for us, but the beginning. They are a piece of what God has been working in our hearts over years. A piece of knowing that we want to lay down our lives for Him, whatever that might look like. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've been reading The Hole in our Gospel (read it if you can), and having my heart both broken and challenged. So when I read the following post I was in tears. This is from a blog by a young woman named Katie who is in Uganda living out the gospel. It's long, I know. I hope you'll read it all. Here's the link to Katie's blog if you want to know more: kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com

Friday, January 22, 2010
It is dark. It is quiet. The cold rain drips through her thatched roof soaking through the thin sheet she wraps around her skeletally frail body. Grace is 80 years old, blind, and all alone. Her HIV has progressed into full blown AIDS making it impossible for her tiny body to fight off any type of infection. The merciless cough caused by tuberculosis racks her body. In despair she cries out to God, a God she has not spoken to in twenty years, believing he had forsaken her when the AIDS virus took her precious husband and all 6 of her children from this earth. She wails to Him and asks if He can hear her. She knows that her life is near the end. She desperately wants to believe in something, anything, before she departs from this world. She begs the Lord that if He can hear her, if He is indeed real, He would send her a friend, a visitor, some kind of sign that someone out there cares. She falls asleep shivering, with a plastic trash bag over her head to keep the rain off her face.

The next day I make the familiar trek through the Masese III village, Patricia strapped to my back, bandaging wounds, testing for malaria, kissing foreheads. A woman from our beading group (go buy a beautifully handmade necklace and feed a child! www.147millionorphans.com) suggests that I go visit a blind old woman that she has heard of who may need some assistance, so I grab my dear friend Tamara and head deep into the village in the direction we have been pointed. I am not prepared for the sight that meets my eyes. Grace is indeed old and blind, but that only scratches the surface of her troubles. I actually spend a few minutes marveling at the fact that she is still alive. Her body is hardly strong enough to sit up, let alone stand or walk. She has not eaten in three days, and she hasn’t seen in 5 years. What gets to me most is the eerie quietness that surrounds her house, in the very back of the village near a trash pile, all the neighbors gone to work, even the wind seems quiet today. I think for a moment that her tiny mud house is exceptionally dark inside, and then I remember that for her, it is already dark anyway. I embrace this sweet woman, patting her back and kissing her cheeks and I tell her that Jesus loves her and I love her. “He does!” She exclaims. “He has sent me visitors as I asked!” Her excitement turns to a whisper, “I had stopped believing. I did not think God cared for me. Lord, I believe in You.” Tears streamed down both of our faces and together we began to pray to our Father who sees and hears and answers even the smallest of our requests.

All this took place about three months ago and was just the beginning of lots and lots of time spent with Grace. I would take her food a few times a week that her neighbors would help her cook every day. We went to many, many doctor’s appointments getting her treatment for her TB, blood transfusions, and lots of vitamins. When I brought the girls to meet her, they instantly fell in love with her sweet heart and immediately adopted her as their Jja Jja (grandmother). Most Sundays the girls and I pack up a picnic lunch and head over to Jja Jja Grace’s house to share a meal with her, read the Bible, sing and dance. The girls love it and Grace loves the house filled with noise and laughter. On Christmas day we ate lunch at her house and God gave all of us the most beautiful Christmas gift (second only to His Son, of course!) Jja Jja Grace, who just months ago had been too weak to stand, began to walk. She walked around the outside of her entire house (about ten square feet), praising the Lord the whole time. As neighbors came to watch and ask, we prayed with them to accept Jesus. Grace’s testimony was changing lives right before our eyes, and how blessed we felt to be a part of it.

Two days ago I went to visit Grace and was surprised to see that the food we had sent her for the week remained uncooked and uneaten. She said the neighbor who had been helping her cook the food had moved away three days ago, and she had not eaten since. I asked her how she had been taking her medicine, and she said that she feels around for each of her five packets of medicine and swallows one pill out of each. This presents a problem as they are all different, some to be taken 3 times a day, some to be taken two at a time, some with food, and some without. This clearly was not going to work. After talking to more of Grace’s neighbors and finding no one that was willing or even able to help, it struck me. We were going to have to move Jja Jja Grace in with us. To say that the idea of this overwhelmed me would be an extreme understatement. The girls helped me cook Grace’s lunch and wash some clothes for her, and we headed home so that I could think and pray about what to do next.

I rolled around in my bed not sleeping that night, “God are you truly asking me to do this?” And God said, “I think you know the answer. You don’t actually wonder if I am truly asking you to do this, you are just afraid of the inconvenience it may be to you to have a blind old woman in your care.” It was true. Somehow, adopting a grandmother seemed a lot more daunting than adopting a child. But it boiled down to this: Do I believe that Jesus was serious? Do I believe what He said was true? And the answer is yes. I believe that he was serious when He said to love my neighbor as myself, and I believe He meant this even when my neighbor was not tiny and cute and cuddly. I believe when He said to love my neighbor as MYSELF. He really meant to care for others as I would care for myself or my family, and I would never let myself or my family live in such conditions. How different it can be to “believe” the word of God and to take it literally.

As I thought of all the different life changes that would need to take place for us to accommodate Jja Jja Grace completely overwhelmed me, but the only reasons I could think of to NOT move her in with us were completely selfish. We have enough room, we have enough food, we have enough love. We have enough. I kept coming back to Matthew 25, a passage etched in my hear that says:

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for the least of these brother’s of mine, you did not do for me.’

Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

I BELIEVE that when Jesus said, “I tell you the TRUTH,” He meant just that, that His words were true and He wasn’t kidding. YES, I believe that I am saved by faith through GRACE. Grace that is freely given and cannot be earned by anything I do. But I also believe that sometimes we rely so heavily on the Grace of God to cover our sins that we blatantly disobey His word and feel ok about it. “Depart from me you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” THAT is what Jesus will say to those of us who do not care for the least of these. I believe this is true because I believe His word is true, EVERY word is true, plain and simple. That is a heavy, heartbreaking thought. How often have we neglected you, Lord?

“I’m sick,” He said, “will you look after me? Will you invite me in?”


In the morning I sat the girls down for a family meeting, something that is quite routine at our house. I already knew what their response would be when I asked them what they thought about Jja Jja Grace coming to live with us; I knew that they would be more than willing, excited even. They are SO MUCH better than me at giving without holding anything back. The vote was unanimous, they jumped up and down and squealed and told me thank you for having such a good idea. I laughed to myself; this was SO not my idea.

We went back to Masese that day and after women’s meeting went down to Jja Jja Grace’s house to invite her to move into our home. Tears welled in her eyes and a grin crossed her face, “God has given me a family,” she cried. “All these years with no one, and He has given me a new family!” What happened next threw me for a loop though; she said no! I looked up and wondered. All that thinking and processing and not sleeping, and she said no. She said that she was too old to start a new life and would be too much of a burden on us. She said that Jesus would be the one to take care of her and we could just continue to do what we can at her house. The girls begged and pleaded, but she had made up her mind. I will not pretend that my selfish, human heart didn’t feel some relief.

As we left, all feeling encouraged by the love God has sewn into our relationships with Grace, I wondered if He just wanted to grow me. If He just wanted to see if I would say yes. If in some small way, I was like Abraham and He just wanted to make sure I was willing to sacrifice it all for Him, only to tell me that I didn’t really have to. Jja Jja Grace may still move in; she may not. I am leaving that one in God’s hands. I believe however that the act of Grace moving into our home was not really the point; God just wanted to work in my heart. I am so thankful that He loves me enough to teach and mold me on such a personal level. I am thankful for Jja Jja Grace and all she has taught me and my family about Jesus. I am thankful for the opportunity to look into the eyes of the least of these and know that Jesus is staring back at me. I am thankful for the opportunity to simply say, “Yes.”
Posted by auntie katie at 4:22 AM

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Please pray tomorrow...

Tuesday is our court day! We are praying and hoping that our case will pass court on Tuesday, and that Yoseph and Mihret will legally be ours (at least in the eyes of the Ethiopian government). If we pass, we will be able to travel and bring the children home within 6 weeks. If we don't pass, which unfortunately is not uncommon, we will be given a new court date within 3 or 4 weeks, which of course delays our travel time by that many weeks. Because of Yoseph's health we are very much hoping not to have any further delays.

Because Ethiopia is 8 hours ahead of us, our case will likely be heard between midnight and 8 am on Tuesday morning, so by the time we get up on Tuesday it will be done (though I expect I'll be up praying during the night). We would love your prayers tomorrow (Monday), and hopefully we'll know the outcome sometime on Tuesday. We'll let you know.

Monday, January 18, 2010


I have been very, very busy for the last few days. So busy that I did not take the time to post anything about the disaster in Haiti. But I realized that I really needed to stop and write this. I've been reading The Hole in our Gospel over the last weeks (I'll post more about the book another time), and feeling my heart challenged by considering what God really does expect of us. This is ridiculous, really, in how small of an effort it is, but I couldn't go on with this day without taking the time to say that we all need to help. We need to pray, and we need to give. Sadly, conditions in Haiti (and and many other areas of the world) were devastating long before this earthquake, but it's so easy for us to overlook as we move through our daily lives untouched by it. But in the face of such a catastrophic situation, we all stop for a least a moment and really pay attention. Yes, these are God's children. He loves them. And yes, He has asked us to take care of them. Jesus had a lot to say about what God expects of us. He asks us for everything. He wants us to change the world. Here's a good place to start.



And click here for a story from Haiti that is good news; some of the orphans there are going home.

"Whoever heard me spoke well of me,
and those who saw me commended me,
because I rescued the poor who cried for help,
and the fatherless who had none to assist him.
The man who was dying blessed me;
I made the widow's heart sing.
I put on righteousness as my clothing;
justice was my robe and my turban.
I was eyes to the blind
and feet to the lame.
I was a father to the needy;
I took up the case of the stranger.
I broke the fangs of the wicked
and snatched the victims from their teeth."
-Job 29:11-17

Christ has no body on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ's compassion for the world is to look out;
yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good;
and yours are the hands with which he is to bless us now.
-Saint Teresa of Avila

"Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God." -Bob Pierce (founder of World Vision)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

He sees their faces

I am learning so much about what it really means to trust God. I think we often say (even if just to ourselves) that we are trusting God with something, but in reality we are doing all we can to manage a situation on our own. I'm not saying we shouldn't strive to do what we can even as we bring some particular care to the Lord. But really...do we believe that He can take care of it without us? Do we believe that He will? I have found myself really challenged in this area recently. Yoseph, our little son in Ethiopia, was extremely malnourished when he was brought to our agency's care center. He is very, very small, and clearly in need of some special attention. We were made aware of this through a series of reports we received from families who had visited the care center when they traveled to bring their children home. We began to pray, but also to pursue getting some help for him. Within a few weeks the director of our agency was able to get him seen by a doctor at the Embassy in Addis. We were actually concerned that he might have other developmental or medical problems beyond just malnutrition, and the good news is that the doctor feels he is "fine" other than being extremely malnourished (though, as Jim pointed out, there could have been other issues from which God has already healed him as we prayed). It is reported that the care center has put him on a special diet now. Of course, I cannot see this being done. I can't see what they're feeding him, and I can't see how his little body is responding to the nourishment he is receiving. I also can't see whether he and Mihret are being held and loved. I wonder about all of these things often. And yet,believe it or not, I am sleeping just fine at night. Of course, I am desparately longing to get them home. We are praying and asking everyone we know to pray that we will pass court on January 26 so that we can get on a plane and bring them home by March. The thing that gets me through the night, though, is just this: My Father sees Yoseph's face every day. My Father...is looking...at Yoseph's face. Right now. He is seeing Mihret. He is loving them. It is all in His hands. And this peace is spreading (albeit slowly!) to other areas of my "control freakishness" as well. We've had some typical struggles with others of our children lately (the ones who are right here under my roof!) And I can't see inside their hearts, or their little heads, to know how best to work through things sometimes. In fact, sometimes I'm afraid that it's my own parenting that might be wreaking some havoc in those little hearts and heads (though I've prayed for years that God will protect them from my mistakes!) But guess what? He see their faces all the time. He sees inside their hearts and minds. He knows how to heal and grow them when I don't. He is loving them. My prayers for all of my children are becoming so much more real. I don't just spout off prayers for help as I move ahead to look up something in a parenting book (maybe about pre-teens?) or call a friend to ask for advice. It's true...there are lots of inspired writings out there about parenting and all other matters, and I happen to have some very wise friends as well. And I am thankful to God for those resources. But He is my first source of help, of comfort, of strength. The conversations that I have with Him are so much more crucial and valuable than any other conversations. Because He's not only hearing my side of the story! He knows all about it, He cares all about it, and He can do something about it. I just keep coming back to this...He sees their faces. I hope that someday Yoseph and Mihret will truly be able to understand and appreciate all that God has done...not just for them, but through them. We are truly blessed to be allowed by God the privilege of participating in adoption. He has shown us so much more of Himself throught the process, and been so patient to keep contending with me even as I continue asking Him to show me more evidence that He is leading us through this.

But certainly God has heard;
He has given heed to the voice of my prayer.
Blessed be God,
Who has not turned away my prayer
Nor His lovingkindness from me. Psalm 66:19-20

The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime;
And His song will be with me in the night,
A prayer to the God of my life. Psalm 42:8

On a lighter note, speaking of seeing their faces, I still can't post them here! If we pass court on January 26, then they will legally be ours in the eyes of the Ethiopian government, and then we can post their pictures. Meanwhile, how about a sneak peek?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Court Date!!

Today we learned that we have been assigned a court date for Mihret and Yoseph...January 26! We don't go to the court date, but at some point that day will find out if our case passed court. If so, the children will be legally ours in the eyes of the Ethiopian government, and we will be assigned an Embassy date around 6 weeks later (that's when we'll travel, attend the Embassy appointment with the children, and bring them home!)

Not everyone passes court the first time; the Ethiopian judges are very particular (rightfully so, as their desire is to protect children and families) and will not pass us unless every piece of paperwork is in perfect order. Also, Mihret and Yoseph's mother will have to be present in order for the case to pass. That piece is very painful for me to consider. I'm glad she'll know that the children have a family, but it seems just too much that she has to travel again, and basically give them up again. Please be praying for her, for the children, and for the court date.

We'll keep you posted.