Friday, March 25, 2011

God Knows My Name (especially for Grandma and Aunt Beth)

Okay, I'm just going to say unabashedly that I love this little video.  It's from a "talent show" at our church about a week ago.  I'll be the first to admit that no real talent is involved, but I do think it is a beautiful reflection of the kids' hearts.  They just truly took joy in this; you can see it in all of their faces.

It's kind of long (about 6 minutes, I think), so unless you're Grandma or Aunt Beth you might not stick it out until the end, but I do think it's fun to watch.  Oh, and check out the girls' hair.  Every one of them has cornrows and box braids; that was my talent.  :)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dangerous Half-Truths

I believe that Satan hates adoption. The very act of it is a reflection (however poor sometimes) of God's love. And so the enemy would love to thwart this knitting together of families. One of the ways he does this, I have become convinced, is by telling half truths. He is a master at this (remember Eve in the garden?), and he knows that he is more likely to sway us this way. We are on our guard against direct lies, particularly when they are directed toward truths the our Father has instilled in us. So he is more subtle.

One of the hardest things about adoption, for me, is the way that it brings all of my insecurities to the surface.  Despite the myriad ways that God has affirmed this journey, assured us of His perfect design for our family, and proved His loving and sovereign hand over it, I doubt.  I doubt myself, but I know that in doing so I am really doubting Him.  In doubting my own abilities, I'm doubting that God can/will enable, equip, and bless, and redeem me as He says He will.

There are times when I just don't think I'm a good mom.  And of course, sometimes I'm right to feel that way.  Although there are plenty of times of grace and joy and love in our home, there are also times when I fail, and repent, and fail yet again.  And it's in those times that the enemy slides behind me, and the words he whispers, the half-truths, swirl behind eyes closed in frustration.  "They could have had a better mom." The pain of it grips my heart, and hot tears move behind my closed eyelids every time.  Someone else could love this precious girl more; make her feel more secure.  This sweet little boy would have bonded more quickly to a different, better mother.  He's talking to me about Gracie and Little Man.  He's playing on those insecurities that are often so near the surface.  I've had plenty of times, over all of the years I've been blessed by motherhood, when I've questioned myself as a mom, but this is new.  The older children never had any other options; their very existence depended on me as their mother, from the instant of their being.  But Gracie and Little Man? could have been someone else.  Some other family could have made that call, filled out the paperwork, traveled across the ocean to bring them home.  Seven thousand children were adopted from Ethiopia last year, and it's easy to wonder whether these two little ones didn't miss out on some better opportunity.  There.  I've said it.  And that's when I have to turn away from that half-truth and grope for the Truth.  Why is it a half-truth?  Well, the fact is, there are better moms than me.  I'm not going to lay out all of my specific areas of sin and failure as a mom, but we can all be fairly sure that no matter what it is we're doing, there's probably someone out there who could do it better.  But here's why it's only a half-truth.  Because God has promised me that He is in charge.  ("The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all" Psalm 103:19).  It doesn't matter if there are better moms out there, because I'm the one He picked for them.  They are the ones He chose for me. He knit them together in their mother's womb, yes.  And all of their days were written for them before a single one of them came to pass.  Even the day when their father died in Ethiopia.  The day when the were left in an orphanage.  All of the days when they were hungry and sick, scared or lonely.  And...the day when I picked up the phone and made the call that connected them to me, their mother, across an ocean.

All six of my children are right where God meant for them to be.  All six of them will benefit from every ounce of grace and love that God pours into them through me, and they will all survive my sin and weakness, and God will use it all to grow them and shape them and love them.  It is all His grace.  For them.  And for me.  And that is the Truth.  The whole truth.  I am sure that I will hear those whispered half-truths again, and I will spend long moments in doubt and fear.  But I am hopeful that each time I will be quicker to turn to the Truth, and that all six of these precious ones entrusted to me will learn that lesson along with me.

The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works.

All Thy works shall give thanks to Thee, O Lord, and Thy godly ones shall bless Thee.

Psalm 145:9-10

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Pictorial Year in Review

Here's a little visual feast of the last 12 months. More words to come later, but according to proverbial wisdom, these pictures should be worth thousands of words. :)

March 2, 2010  Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
We met Gracie and Little Man for the first time.

Home at last and together as a family: March 6, 2010

April 2010; brothers and sisters at last.

May 2010; we did our first "post-placement" report to send back to Ethiopia.  The reports were required at 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year.  These were some of the pictures we took.

Little Man also got his first haircut in May. 

In June the children enjoyed the view from a mountain-top where we went to pick peaches.

In July we went to Busch Gardens.  None of the children had ever been there, and it was a wonderful day for everyone.  Definitely a new tradition (if we can find some coupons again this year!)

      Camping in July. 

Fun at the playground in August (Boo loves having a little brother).

In September we celebrated Gracie's 5th birthday (her first with us).

October is our annual camping trip with some special friends.

We had a crowd for Thanksgiving in November (and lots to be thankful for).

Gracie experienced her first snowfall in December.

One of our favorite traditions: caroling at the hospital on Christmas day with friends.

January; making fruit loop necklaces as part of our math lesson one day.

In February we had a special treat; three girls from the Watoto Children's Choir (from Uganda) came to stay with us after their concert.  We were tremendously blessed by them.

March!! Sometimes I feel as though the year has flown by, but other times it feels as it couldn't have been only a year ago that we were without Gracie and Little Man.  We celebrated our one year anniversary by eating at an Ethiopian restaurant.

Gracie and Little Man enjoyed the Ethiopian quisine GREATLY.  My goal for the next year is to learn how to make injera.

You can see how the children have all grown "in stature" over the past year.  But we have grown in so many other ways as well.  (We still have miles to go, though!)

Still working on updating the blog and shifting gears.  I did change the pictures of the kids on the sidebar; Sweet Pea's picture was 2 years old!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Coming Out of the Fog

I knew that I hadn't been keeping up with this blog, but I was honestly surprised when I looked and realized that I hadn't posted since early December.  There are several posts still in the "draft" stage which I started but was never able to finish.  Honestly, it was only partly because of how busy we've been. God has been working out so many things in me and in our family, and I have often found it difficult to put it all into words. As I look back on the past year, I truly do feel as though I've spent much of it in a fog. It's been hard to know which way to go sometimes, and hard to see exactly where we're headed.  It's really only been in the last few weeks that I've noticed that the fog has lifted, and the view is looking much sharper and clearer.  At this time last year, we were still in Ethiopia.  Sunday will be the one year anniversary of our arrival home, and of having our whole family together for the first time.  I am so very excited to celebrate that day, and excited to see what God will bring about in the next year.

I've thought a lot about what to do with this blog.  I had planned for awhile to just close it, but instead I've decided to give it a facelift and a new focus.  It may be a few weeks before I'm able to do that, but meanwhile I'll share an update soon about how far we've come in that last year. And about our big celebration day on Sunday!