Thursday, November 27, 2008

Yup - It's Thanksgiving!

Pam and I have more things to be thankful for than would fill this page, so I'll just hit a few things. We are thankful that we have God to give thanks to. He is not a concept, a theory or wishful thinking... He is GOD ALMIGHTY. The creator and sustainer of all that was, is and is to come. He has given us all that we have, all that we need, and all that we ever imagined. He also hears our thanks giving.

We are thankful for our salvation. Without our salvation nothing else would even matter and there would be no reason to be thankful. We are thankful to God our Father and Jesus our Savior for the salvation of our Christian children.

We are thankful that God not only hears our prayers, but he invites us to pray to Him and then he answers our prayers. He doesn't always answer them in the way that we think that He should, but He answers them.

We are thankful for all 9 of our children. We are thankful for the 3-2-B ours. We thank Him for making it possible to eventually bring them home and for the blessings along the way to take away some of the financial burden.

We are thankful for our Church Family, for our birth families and for each other. And...we are thankful for our blog readers. You all give us encouragement and strength. May God bless each of you with Love, Joy, Peace, and prosperity.

May Jesus' name be praised.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Medical Info

Yesterday we received 2nd medical information on the two youngest of the 3-2-B ours. They appear to be in decent health. The youngest has recently fractured one of his elbows. From his pictures, he looks like an all boy's boy, so that didn't surprise us. Our little girl is just that...little. At 9 years old, she's 6 inches smaller than our 7 year old (who has grown 9 inches in 2 1/2 years, by the way). They'll get plenty of Mom's good home cooking when they get here. We haven't received anything on the oldest yet. We've gotten recent pictures of them and they are just as adorable as ever.

Waiting, waiting, waiting!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Christmas without our 3-2-B ours

This week Pam and I found out that we will definitely not be spending Christmas with our 3-2-B ours. With the way things are slowing down, it looks like we will be traveling somewhere near the end of January or early February. This has been like the hardest news for us since we started this whole process. Admittedly we can be like your typical "fast food" Americans; we want what we want and we want it now. Obviously the Lord has other things in mind. We'll gain patience and it will give us more time to pray for the 3 before they get here.

We believe that praying for our children before they come to us is very, very, very important. We pray for their health (spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical). We pray that they will blend in with the other kids. We pray that they will be able to adapt at home, church, and school. And very important, we pray that they will be able to attach to us in a healthy way. Attachment is a very deep subject that all adoptive parents have to deal with. Adoptive parents with older children have an even greater concern.

Attachment is what colors everything that goes on in the family dynamic. When we're dealing with the children, we have to look at every situation and gauge it on the child's age/expected maturity, education level, communication ability, their physical state and their mental state. We have to throw any attachment issues into the mix before we judge how to act or react. And just like any other sets of siblings, they are at all different attachment levels. The ability to attach starts out different for each child, and the amount of attachment changes or grows at different rates for each child. So we're both earning our Phd's in attachment issues. This builds character, let me tell you.

Short illustration - yesterday, our middle daughter came up and gave me a full on hug. This was without any prompting on my part and for no apparent reason other than to just do it. It was the first time she's done that in the 2 1/2 years she's been with us. It didn't feel 100% genuine, but it felt ton's more real than when I normally ask for a hug or a kiss. Every step is a welcomed step in the right direction.

Continue to pray for us.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Husbands and wives - commitment

Just a quick thought I wanted to share.

Pam and I have an agreement in our marriage. I believe it is something that all couples should have in order to have a successful marriage. We agree to share everything 50-50. I do all the small, trivial things and Pam does all the hard, important things. Now ever so often, she gets the feelings that this agreement is a little tilted in my favor and I have to remind her that 50-50 means 50-50. I don't know why she complains! For example, I remember to turn the TV on when we want to watch it, and she remembers to pay the cable...50-50. She cooks great tasting nutritious meals, and I stop what I'm doing (which is normally pretty important, let me assure you) and I eat it...LOL

Marriage...isn't it a great institution? I'm committed.

So close we can smell it.

Waiting to hear about our Kids. Oh the wait! Waiting is harder than working, harder than praying, harder than wishing, harder than hoping. We know that God works everything for our own good and waiting builds patience, which builds character, which makes us better tools in God's hands. I always laugh when people ask what they can pray for for us. I always so, whatever you do don't pray for patience. Patience isn't a gift, it's a by product of trials and waiting. So don't pray for patience for me. Pray for resolution, pray for answers, pray for results, NOW!! :o)~

As we're waiting, Pam and I talk more about what it was like when we went to Ethiopia to get our kids 2 1/2 years ago. The pictures above were taken the very day we met them. They were brought to us from the "foster" home in Addis Ababa. We got to spend about 3 hours with them. We talked to them, listened to them, and watched them talk to each other. "L" the oldest, tried to act so mature and serene. "A" the middle was already trying to convince us that she was the smartest, the two of them argues over every answer they tried to give to us when we asked a question. In retrospect, neither of them were answering correctly because they weren't really understanding what the heck was going on. "J", the "baby" just played. He was cool with whatever was going on as long as his sisters were around. Our own "D" was just happy to have a brother and could care less about the sisters. He pretty much still feels that way.
I can't wait for the next set of pictures, especially family pictures.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Orphans - It's not getting better, it's getting WORSE!

I found this article this morning. Come on people, we who have the ability, have the responsibility to do something, anything to help.

Ethiopia to see sharp rise in orphans running households: NGO
Buzz Up

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) – Ethiopia will by 2010 see a four-fold increase in the number of orphaned children aged between nine and 19 who are heading families due to AIDS, poverty and conflict, a local NGO said on Friday.
Some 225,000 households will be run by children, up from 77,000 in 2005, Addis Ababa-based African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) said in a report.
"This is going to be an explosive problem," said Assefa Bequele, the agency's director.
"In some households, the oldest child is also the principal care-giver to a terminally-ill parent," said the report.
Ethiopia is one of the world's poorest countries. The government estimates that 1.5 million Ethiopians are infected with HIV, while the World Health Organization says nearly 2.8 million are infected.

Parenting can be so much fun

Last night we had a fun example of why good spelling is such a necessary skill.

We were sitting around in the family room watching a movie, when our oldest daughter comes in.
"Dad, how do you spell 'cowgirl'?" Now, I'm thinking, this has to be a trick question or something, but then I remember who's asking. Because of her struggling English skills, her spelling skills are dismal. So...

"C - O -W, girl. Why?" At this point she starts laughing hard, and sits down in her favorite spot in the family room. She has a huge comfort pillow in a corner of the room, on the floor. She actually dislikes sitting on the couch or the club chairs.

"I was talking with Corey on the phone and he was asking me what I dressed up like for Halloween." Corey is her big brother, a Marine stationed half way across the state. "When I tried to tell him 'cowgirl', he couldn't understand me, so he said for me to spell it. I didn't know how to spell it, I think. So I said "I think it's C-A-L-L-G-I-R-L." At that point Pam and I started laughing uncontrollably.

"Baby, you need to go call your brother and straighten that one out. There's a big difference between a 'cowgirl' and a 'call girl'."

"Why? What's that mean?" I'm in tears right about then.

"A 'call girl' is a prostitute, baby. Something I'm sure you don't want him thinking you were dressing up like."

"Oh, 'cause he was like, 'are you sure you have that word right? Where did you get that idea?' I told him 'Mom did'. Then he's asking if I'm sure again and again. I said 'yeah'."

Pam and I are laughing so hard we can't see straight. What made it even funnier was that we were at church on Halloween, because our church holds a "Trunk-or-Treat" event for the community and people dress up for it. Then we're having to explain to her little sister what "prostitute" means. The older says to her, "It's a bad girl." That doesn't quite get it, so I ask the older one to explain to the younger one in Amharic because the little brothers are there. She gets it then. Of course that's after one the little brothers asks, "What's a prostitute?"

She finally decides it would be a good idea to go up and call him again. After awhile she comes running into the room with her cell phone and says, "Corey wants to talk to you." She gives the phone to Pam. Pam is laughing so hard she can hardly talk.

When I get on the phone, Corey says, "I normally wouldn't want intrude and tell people how to raise their kids, especially you, but COME ON!" We talk some more and share a good laugh. He says he might be able to come for Thanksgiving. I say, "We'll all dress up for the occassion" and Corey say, "Yeah, I'm coming as a pimp."

Needless to say, it's times like this that all the troubles of being a parent, evaporate.

You gotta love it!

(For those reading this who live in the local area, be kind. Remember she's a teenaged girl)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Purpose Driven Life

Today we discussed the 2nd purpose that God designed within our lives - Fellowship/Relationships. God the God of love; in many scriptures He is called love. He made us to have a relationship with him. That part was one of the most difficult for me to fathom. Here is a God so immense, so perfect, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient and He wants a personal relationship with me. This same God who has created the universe that none can calculate its size. This God created more stars than any human can begin to imagine the total numbers. More stars than we could count. A universe so massive that our closest star is light years away and the farthest stars we can't begin to imagine the millions of light years away. The God who created all of this, cares if I love him or not. This God sent His son to die because He cares about how I will spend eternity. I will never fully get my brain wrapped around that.

But not only does He want us to love Him, he wants us to love one another. Jesus even said that the whole Bible - this book of laws, rules, precepts, and theology could be summed up into two commands from God. Love God with all that we have and all that we are, and to love one another like we love ourselves. Pretty danged simple, but we have the hardest time doing it. Why? Because we love ourselves first; and in so doing we leave little room to love anyone else.
Truly love them.

He doesn't want "Lone Ranger Christians". The ones who think they can go it alone. Yet from the very beginning, He said that it was not good that man exist alone. He even knew that relationships would be hard work - for us. We need to start living without the masks that we develop over the years. The masks that say - Hey, I'm not perfect, but you'll never get me to admit to any unacceptable imperfections. The masks that say, I don't have any problems, I don't need any help, I don't have any doubts. The masks we form for our church family, the other masks for our work relationships, the other masks for our home family, and the masks we have for our friends and relatives. Taking off the masks, and being absolutely transparent is totally counter intuitive. Hold up the shields at all costs. We do that to ourselves and to one another. Take them off, be vulnerable to one another...truly love.

He wants us to be hospitable, accepting, humble, nonjudgmental, friendly to one another; especially to other Christians. "They will know you are my disciples by your love." Love for one another. I think we fail that by our dogmatism in denominations. Some people think that denominations are like salad bowls or soups with differing flavors, something to suit each taste. I personally think that is a crock. We need to work together not against each other.

Why can't we just get along? :o) Because my circle is better than your circle, that's why. If you don't believe me, ask God, He'll tell ya! That is what we do to each other.

Fellowship...get along, share, support, give, take, care...LOVE