The gift I can't Give

There are so many ways to give this time of year. I've been wrapping gifts for my kids, buying stuff for friends and family. We're helping a single Mom from church buy gifts for her boys this year, the kids are collecting baby items for Lakeshore Pregnancy Center, we bought a few toys for a mom from Harbor House to give to her 1 year old son, we're helping stock the food pantry for families in Pullman, we brought food for our church's "meal deal". Lots of ways to help; lots of ways to give back; lots of ways to be a blessing to others.

And yet, as I scurry and hurry and buy and wrap, my heart is not as light as it used to be. There are a few gifts I SO YEARN to give and I can't.

Part of me is still in Ethiopia.

Sitting in a park with my son's mother.

Knowing she doesn't have much.

Knowing her daughter isn't in school.

Knowing food is hard to come by, not to mention clothes, shoes, medicines.

Chances are she isn't worried this Christmas about what to stuff in the stockings, or if she should prepare ham or turkey for Christmas dinner. She's not wondering what to give to her neice or father or cousin. She's not going to play Bingo or put a dollar in the kettle outside of the store. Her husband won't be building a fire on Christmas Eve and they won't gather around their Christmas Tree they cut down as a family.

Oh that I could send a few presents her way. Or better yet, invite her to sit at my table this Christmas. Oh that I could bless her just a fraction of the way she has blessed me. What a day that would be! The things we could talk about! Laugh about! Cry about! I'd love to hear what Meta was like as a baby. When he took his first steps. What he looked like with just a few baby teeth. I'd love to show her how joyful he is. How he loves his brother and sister. How well he's drawing, learning letters, singing songs, fitting in. How. Much. He. Is. Loved.

The thought of her leaves my heart aching. And the tears fall.

I know that the same God who looks down on me with love, is looking down on her. And so I continue to do as she asked me to ... when I pray for myself I pray for her as well. That she would be blessed. That she would be loved. That she would have her daily bread.

On days like this I give Felmata an extra kiss. I hold him a little longer. I recommit to teaching him as much as I can about Jesus, and continue to pray for his soul so that someday, we can all be reunited again. Because, for now, that's all I can do.

"He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; He will remove the disgrace of His people from all the earth" Isaiah 25:6-8


Family Meeting

Sunday night I called a "family meeting". Just to gain a perspective, we have had 2 family meetings in 2010 that I can recall. Not a big practice around here. But Sunday night it had to be done. The topic: physical violence against family members. I am not joking. That was the topic.

Latley at our house the kids have taken to hitting, pushing, flicking, pinching and even what I would call "slugging". It is not pretty. And it's not just one ... it's all 3. I can assure you they did not learn this from their Mother!

We don't have a lot of rules around here. I figure that God only gave us 10 commandments ... so who am I to have a monster long list of "do nots". We try to major on the majors. My biggies are "no lying", "be respectful" & "be kind to others". If these rules are broken the consequences are usually pretty severe. I think it's fair to say that "acts of physical violence" against your brothers and sister would count as a "broken rule".

So, we gathered the kids and explained the problem. They agreed that there has been too much pushing, hitting, ect between them. They agreed with the discipline that was going to happen if it continues. They had a few questions though ...

"What if someone screams in my ear? Can I hit him then??" NO!

"What if someone pinches me? Can I kick her back?" NO!

"What if I see a slug bug and am playing the slug bug game and I slug someone?" uhhhh ... Paul? You wanna take this one?

"What if I do a "physical violence" but it was an accident?" Will I get disciplined then?" YES!

"What if he calls me annoying? That's not very nice. Can I scream in his ear?" NO!

Thankfully we haven't had to enforce the discipline yet. I'm hopeful yet also realize it IS only Tuesday.


Fall and other stuff

So sorry to all the bloggers out there. I have been delinquent. When my kids were small(er) Moms of older kids would tell me the busyness I was feeling was just the tip of the iceburg. I used to think when my kids were in school full time, then I would have more time to pursue stuff I enjoyed. What I didn't realize, was that while certain hours of the day would be "less busy", life as a whole gets more and more and more complicated. There are much bigger, more pressing demands for my time, my energy, my attention, my mind, my car, my money...you get the point. And, not only do I have 2 active "school aged kids" I also have a preschooler I spend hours and hours with during my "less busy" hours. Ha! All that to say, among other things, my blog hasn't been first priority lately.

It's been a fun fall around here. I'll attach a couple of pics to show you what I mean. And I promise another update real soon.



This week at school Noah is the "MVP". His teacher sets up a week for each student when they get to share with the class all kinds of cool things. A favorite CD to play during lunch. A devotion to share with their class. A poster with cool pictures about themselves. A guessing jar. A special "show" time. Along with that, a parent can write a letter to their child to be read. Here's what we wrote....

Dear Noah,

There are so many things your Dad and I love about you.
We love your kind and generous heart.
We love your desire to obey God and your parents.
We love how your smile reaches all the way up to your eyes.
We love how you think about others, and have a lot of courage to stand up for what is right.
We love how you are a leader out on the ball diamond and football field. You never give up. We love that!

I like to tell you this “story”. I hope it doesn’t embarrass you, but even if it does, I think every one of your friends needs to hear it too. Because I bet their parents feel the same way about them.

If God lined up a million kids in front of us …. Some of them short, some tall, some with really big muscles, some who never disobeyed or talked back to their Mom. Some really really good at reading with perfect AR scores every time. Some who got all 25 words right on their spelling test every week. Some beautiful piano players. Some future NLF stars. Some future preachers and scientists and astronauts. And then if God said … “You can pick any of these kids to be yours.” We would look and look and look until we found YOU. There is only one of you Noah. And God gave YOU to US. We think we got the best “pick” of all!! You might not be perfect, but we would choose you every single time. You are going to make mistakes and mess up and not always do what we like. But, we would still chose you every single time. No matter what. We love you and are proud of you and are so thankful every day that you are our son.

Love Mom and Dad


My Best Girl

This is my girl Ella JoAnne. She turns 8 tomorrow. It's also the first day of school for her. Big Day all around. On the day she was born I was secretly nervous I could never love another child like my first (Noah). Boy was I wrong. Really Really Wrong. The second I held her in my arms I felt a rush of love that was powerful, primal and eternal. I have never been the same. She makes me a better person. Every day. She makes the world a better place. Every day. To quote one of my favorite books "There is no me without her".

At her party today, we had her grandmas, grandpas, aunts & uncles go around and say one thing they loved or appreciated about Ella. There was quite a list. Here are just a few of the things we blessed her with ...

*I love how your smile reaches up to your eyes. Your smile is especially beautiful. So often when I look at you you are smiling.
*You are such a good reader. You read book after book to your cousin, and for being in 3rd grade you are smooth and comfortable and excellent at reading.
*You are a thinker. You are always thinking about what's going on around you. You are even thinking today about what you're going to wear to school tomorrow. Keep on being a thinker. It will serve you well.
*I love how you like to talk. Almost everytime I see you you're talking to someone about something. Even when you stay at my house I hear you talking to your brother late at night.
*You are a good sister and I love you
*You have a love for God and Jesus. I see you reading your Bible often; without being told. You make good decisions and I love how you've asked Jesus to be your God.
*You are the oldest girl cousin. You don't have a lot of cousins your own age who are girls, and yet you don't complain about that. You act as an excellent role model for the younger girls in our family.
*You are an awesome friend. You have a lot of friends and a lot of good friends. You treat other girls with kindness and goodness and are a lot of fun to be around. I hope this is true for the rest of your life.
*You make me feel loved when I'm with you.

I couldn't have said it better myself! Happy Birthday to my Best girl! I pray God gives you many many many more!


What's in a name?

Saturday night we were able to gather with the group we traveled to Ethiopia with. It was so fun to see how much changing all 4 boys have done in just 1 year. They all looked so alive and healthy and adorable! I wasn't surprised, and yet it reminded me once again the power of family. And food. And security. And hope. It's remarkable really.

We met at an Ethiopian restaurant. It turns out the man who owns the place lived just 18 miles from where Felmata was born. And speaks his native language!! When Sam spoke to Meta in Oromo Meta just looked at him. "Say it again!" he shouted. But, saying it again didn't help. Meta followed Sam around most of the night and kept asking him "say something else in Ormo!" It seems that Felmata has lost all of his original language. This was sad to me, and to him as well. We knew it would happen eventually ... as there is no one in his life for him to "practice" with, but I was surprised that just a year later he didn't recognize any of it.

The best part of the night for us came when Sam asked us if we knew what "Felmata" means. I have researched and asked and questioned several Ethiopians to no avail. No one seemed to know what his name meant (I think this is because most of the people we met were from the Capital and not from the Oromio region). Sam smiled a little grin and said Felmata means "prone to argue". Oh boy! We laughed and laughed and laughed. If you know Meta at all, you know why we laughed. Let's just say his birthmother had amazing intuition. We'll just leave it at that! :)


Lifting my head...

Sometimes when the dishes are done, the kids are tucked in and kissed good night, the "estate has been locked down" (as my husband likes to joke); my thoughts are not so easily put to bed. Sometimes I fall asleep before my head hits the pillow. Sometimes I do not.

Sometimes my mind runs a little wild. I ask questions. To whom I'm not sure. But I ask questions. Do we have milk for breakfast? Will the clothes I left in the washing machine be stinky by morning (OK ... by late afternoon)? Is the garage door shut? Will I lose my parents at too young of an age? Will my (adopted) son ever grow to resent me ... his "2nd" mother? When was the last time that ceiling fan was cleaned? Will my daughter tell me when she's hurt ... scared ... lonely? Did I insult my friend with my words? Does my husband really love me ... for real? Am I a "good enough" sister/daughter/friend/wife/mother/employee/neighbor

Today I was once again reminded of God's Words to me. He wants me to look up. Not back. Not ahead. But up. He wants me to be present in today. To smell the fresh cut grass. To love my children right where they are. To love as if I'll never be hurt. To tear down walls. To seek Him. To listen to that still small voice and obey.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to keep having questions. Questions are just part of who I am. But I love how the psalmnist reminds me to look up .... "But YOU, oh Lord, are a shield about me; my glory, and the lifter of my head."

Thanks, Lord, for reminding me to lift my head, and for being there in the midst of all of my questions. There is NONE like You!


One Year Later...

One year ago we were attempting to adjust to our new family of 5. Felmata was dazed and excited and exhausted by this new place called "America". So much has changed in just one short (okay ... sometimes super long) year!

Felmata prefers peanut butter sandwhiches with NO CRUSTS over injera (an ET staple)

Felmata loves dogs. In particular, one adorable welsh terrier named Edi.

Felmata has a sister and brother he adores. He thanks God for them often. The best part is ... the feeling is mutual!

Felmata has a daddy who reminds him often that he'll never leave our family.

Felmata has neighbor friends and school friends and church friends who think he rocks!

Felmata is fluent in the English language. He can recognized all the letters ... and their sounds!

Felmata has grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles and cousins who love him like he's always been part of our family.

Felmata knows he is wanted. He is loved. He was chosen. He will never be abandoned again.

Felmata has hope for a future.

Felmata knows who Obama is and finds great joy in the fact that the leader of the free world has "brown skin".

Felmata can ride a 2 wheel bike with no training wheels. Although stopping is an issue, it doesn't matter to him!

Felmata has a Mom who is humbled and honored and amazed at the fact that she gets to be a part of his life.

Here we are one year ago outside of the orphanage in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. So much has changed! We are excited for what the next year has in store for this amazing child who has brought so much joy into our home!


Well Rested

We were once again blessed to spend a week up in northern Michigan with our extended family.
We did lots of beach time, lots of pool time, lots of lawn games, lots of catching up, lots of laughs, lots of eating. It was fun to spend time with our family. The kids had a blast being with their cousins for a whole entire week. Felmata wants to know why we can't move to Manistee and live there forever!
We are well rested and ready to continue summer full speed ahead.

I'm posting a few pictures from our week. I promised the rest of the family I would use pics of them for "personal use only" which does not include my blog! I can say this much ... we had 10 adults and 10 kids under the age of 10, with one more on the way. We were a loud bunch!


Schools out for SUMMER!

Can you hear the song in your head?? I've been humming it all morning! At 11:30 today; my 2 kids will have completed another year of school. Schools out for summer! Yippeee!

I have never understood the moms that dread this day. It used to be so exciting when it was me getting let out for summer, and I still get that same excited, "I've got the world by the tail", feeling. I know that kids home all summer intrudes on my time. It intrudes on my clean house. My grocery budget has to be increased (drastically!). BUT, I get to spend long, lazy afternoons at the pool. Or the beach! I can put my alarm clock away for 3 whole months! I don't have to nag about homework. I get to take advantage of the "fun stuff" I am blessed to be able to do.

Yup ... I'll have to mediate arguments. I'll have to nag about the chore chart. I'll have to bite my tongue and not say what I'd LIKE to say when I hear those dreaded words ... "I'm bored". But along with all of that, I'll get to spend extended time with and pour into the lives of 3 of the most important people in my life. They really do grow up so fast, and I'm going to try and enjoy every moment of our moments together.

I'll need to re-read this post in a few days when the nostalgia wears off. Probably several times a day! And soon enough you'll probably witness me rolling my eyes, or not being patient, or forgetting that I was excited to have them home ALL. THE. TIME. They will drive me crazy and I will drive them crazy and I'll be equally excited for school to start in September ... BUT, for today at least, I'm giddy with excitement that schools out for summer!


it's not good for (wo)man to be alone

I was able to spend a long, uninterupted night with a friend I haven't seen in awhile. Over root chips and pizza and a little vino we talked and laughed and even brushed away a few tears. As I was driving home it reminded me once again why it's not good for "man" to be alone.

We reluctantly admitted that it's been almost 2 years since we've seen each other. There was a time when we saw each other almost every day. And then life moved on. We quit our (mutual) jobs, we ended up living in different cities, we became moms. Life moved on. But, thankfully, our friendship has not. It's always fascinating to me that when we are able to get together, it seems like we pick up right where we left off. I'm thankful for that. And for her. Because I know she is a friend for life.

It is healing for me to laugh with a friend. It is refreshing to be reminded that life is hard for others too. It is good for my soul to be reminded that people (who don't have to!) like me. It's good for me to connect with friends I really like being around ... just because.

I used to think that having (girl)friends was a luxury. That my family and my job and my husband and my t0-do list were all really important, but making time for myself with friends was sort of optional. Or indulgent. Or just not that crucial. As I'm getting older and life is busier and more complicated and at times way harder than anyone told me it would be; I'm realizing that it is not a luxury. It is good for me. It restores me. It makes me a better person. And I need it. I'm pretty sure I'm going to keep "needing it" for the rest of my life.


Sweet Boy!

As you may or may not have read in my previous post, we had great plans for this weekend. But, you know how the saying goes "the best laid plans of man..." I have been reminded of that these last 2 days.

Friday morning I had a sore throat. As the day progressed, it got worse, but nothing could keep me away from a night on the town with friends and Carrie Underwood. So, I popped a few advil and set out for an amazing night.

I'm so glad I did. As much as I love Carrie's music, I had no idea that she shared her faith in Jesus so openly. Several of her songs, "Jesus take the Wheeel" and "This is not our Temporary Home" led me to believe she had an active faith, and yet lots of country artists have similar songs. At the concert as she was belting the final measures of "Jesus take the Wheel", the music shifted into an amazing rendition of "How Great Thou Art". I've gotta tell ya ... to see the "Country Music Entertainer of the Year" (twice!) standing in front of a packed VanAndel Arena with her arms in the air worshipping the God of the Universe; it was awesome! I had planned on having a fun night out; and that I did. But I also left with a greater appreciation for our God who gives talent to everyday folks like Carrie, and then uses her to help people like me worship Him more fully.

Needless to say, by the end of Friday night I had no voice left at all. That has never happened to me before, and it's been just a little frustrating. I have lots to say; and no voice to say it! (maybe that's why this post is getting a little long ... I can "speak" with no voice!) :)

Saturday I woke up with a sore throat the likes of which I've never felt before. I knew something was not right; so I headed to the ZCH Urgent Care. (big shout out to the professionals over there...they actually make Urgent Care *almost* a pleasant experience .... thanks ladies!) I left with some antibiodics, steriods and the diagnosis of a bacterial infection similar to strep. Went home, slept, watched Noah and Ella play their baseball and softball games, and slept some more.

This weekend has not gone exactly as planned, but like I said in my last post; I'm trying to take each moment as it comes, and enjoy it. Maybe that's why this meant so much to me. As I woke from one of my 2 naps on Saturday (they said gets lots of rest!) ... this is what greeted me from my nightstand...

My sweet "baby" boy climbed the blossoming tree in the backyard, and picked these flowers for me. Climbed on the counter to get down 3 glasses. Then snuck in my room and placed them on my nightstand. What can I say? I've gotten lots of dandoliens in my day, and even a few beautiful rocks, but never has one of my kids been this artistic. I'm going to keep them there for as long as I can. It's a great reminder that even when things don't go as I've planned ... there could still be fanastic moments in store for me ... I just have to open my eyes to see them. Love you Felmata! Thanks for making my day!


Great Weekend Ahead...

I love this time of year. So much to choose from. So much to do. All in the beautiful sunshine and among the blossoms all around. Beautiful!

I get to have lunch with Felmata, my sister and neice today. At a new restaurant I've been wanting to try ; Zoup! Maybe in between dropped sippies, a gazillion "hey moms!" and wiping sticky hands Julie and I will be able to have a conversation. If not, it's all good. Love spending time with them regardless of the content of the talks.

Paul bought me tickets to Carrie Underwood tonight. The 2 of us along with 2 great friends. And I have a new shirt to wear! So excited!!

Opening Day of Little League is on Saturday! Noah and Ella both have games ... at the same time. Can't wait to see their teams come together after weeks of practice. Love spring sports!

Church on Sunday ... topic = fear. I struggle with fear. Can't wait to hear what Pastor Jim has to say on the topic. I imagine it will be something along the lines of "Do not fear". Just a guess though :)

Greeting on Sunday. I love welcoming families, singles, couples, teens, old and young into a place filled with hope. Good times!

Lunch with my family Sunday after church. Maybe a little ping pong too.

Amazing Race Sunday night. After last week's break (CMA Awards) we're ready to cheer on the cowboys.

I often need to remind myself to stop and enjoy life day by day. I struggle with always looking ahead to the "next big thing". This weekend, I'm going to pause in between the stuff and enjoy the moments as they come. This is my life. And I'm going to live it! Great weekend ahead!


Spring Break

We just returned home from a fantastic 10 day spring vacation. We spent a few days/nights at Disney World, then headed to a week long beach vacation on Captiva Island. Felmata had been asking for weeks when we were going to "Florida". As my neighbor put it, he really had no idea what "Florida" actually was, but he knew it must be good! I'm pretty sure Florida did not disappoint! This morning he asked if we could go back next week.

We all had a fantastic time exploring new adventures, re-visiting some old ones, and basically just spending time with eachother. I'm pretty sure Felmata's expectations of "good" were met all the way around!

Now it's back to reality for all of us. Which is good too. Back to school, back to work, back to laundry and cooking dinner every night. Felmata started swimming lessons today which was fun.

Here are a few pictures of our time together.



Signs of spring have been all around this week
(it is NOT procrastination to wait until March to put away Christmas lights ... I think it's just plain smart, but I was born with parents who did everything right on time so maybe there's just a touch of guilt...maybe...)

the tulips and daffodils are starting to sprout

the afternoons have been warm and sunny and we've spent lots of time playing outside

the weatherman says we are in for snow tomorrow ... so along with the emerging tennis rackets and bikes and flip flops, this remains as well ...

BUT ... very VERY soon ... it will all be put in a box for another year ... and the thought of saying good-bye to a cold, grey winter makes me almost giddy!


10 years ago ... 1 year ago ...

March 16 is a big day for our family.

10 years ago, March 16 2000, our spunky, fun loving, kind hearted son entered the world. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining and it felt like spring. Our lives haven't been the same since. That day we were filled to the brim with a love we had only heard about before. A love that was truly unconditional. A love that has grown and overwhelmed us and continues to change us. This child is mine, and the depths of my love for him still surprise me. He is mine, and yet he is his own as well.

That was 10 years ago.

One year ago, on March 16 2009, it was a beautiful day as well. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, the kids were playing outside in the warm afternoon sun; and then the phone rang. "We have a little boy we'd like to you to consider. Shall I tell you about him? Would you like me to email his picture?" We laid our eyes on Felmata Judah Hoekstra for the very first time. 1 year ago today.

Our lives haven't been the same since. That day we were filled to the brim with a love we had only heard about before. A love that was truly unconditional. A love that has grown, and overwhelmed us and continues to change us. Continues to change our family. This child is mine, and the depths of my love for him still surprise me. He is mine, and yet he is his own as well.

Happy March 16 Team Brother! I love this day!!



Throughout the last 7 months that Felmata has been home with us, I have been surprised at how many similarities there are to raising Noah and Ella. It would seem like more would be differences, but in actuality, our life together as mother and son has been more the same than different. There have been some unique struggles and also unique accomplishments, but our day to day has been similar to how it was when my other 2 kids were this age.

Yesterday was an exception. It was Felmata's 4th Birthday. Not really his birth-day; but the day that is recorded on his legal documents as his date of birth. We don't know the actual day he was born, so through some research, the little information we had, input from the kids, and some figurative dart throwing; we came up with a birthday of 3/3/06.

On Noah and Ella's birthdays, we often tell stories about what that day was like. How we were feeling (excited! nervous! filled with joy!). What the weather was like. What the nurses said (most beautiful baby ever!). I am instantly taken back to that day; and how it changed me forever. I can pull up those 2 days as if they happened just an hour ago.

3/3/06 has absoutley no memories for me. I don't know where I was on that day, or what the weather was like, or what the nurses said (if there even WERE nurses!). It wasn't even the day he was born.

Yesterday I felt a sense of loss. I will never know the details surrounding Felmata's birth. It's a strange, unnatural feeling.

We have 2 big parties planned for this weekend. Every 4 year old should celebrate another year of life. And celebrate we will!

I'll make the cake (shaped like a fire truck!), and sing happy birthday, and run the video camera and do all the "mom birthday things" ... but in my heart it's not quite the same.

More than this weekend, I am looking forward to 7/15/10. Because on 7/15/09 I met my son for the very first time. I lifted him high in the air and kissed him and hugged him and gave him a great big teddy bear. He called me "Mama" and didn't want me to set him down. The nannies cried as he left; and it's no wonder why. We had a strange pizza lunch, and french fries with ketchup and then played with a ball all afternoon. We made symbols with our fingers of the airplane we were going to ride on. We slathered on lotion, and medicine on his ouchies. We sang songs together and giggled and looked at pictures of his new life in America. We drank water out of a bottle! We lined up our shoes, and didn't let them out of our sight. We laid down that night; exhausted but elated to be together at last.

Those are the memories I will cherish. That is the day that I can truly celebrate. Even if it's just for me.


7 Months

As of February 18 Felmata has been home with us for 7 months. Most days it's difficult to remember life without him. He continues to be an emormous source of joy and laughter in our house. He is growing and changing and becoming more and more American. There are days when I long for him to sing me a song in Oromo (his native language), but he just looks at me and giggles. As much as I'd hoped he would mantain his Ethiopian heritage, it is becoming more difficult. I bought him some injera (a very common food in ET) a while back, and he declared he'd rather have PB&J ... with NO crusts. American indeed! I do allow him to drink coffee (gasp!), only because it's truly the only thing left of Ethiopia in his world.

We have been sending our quarterly reports back to Ethiopia, where we're required to answer lots of questions about his progress, and also include pictures. I've also included with the reports an additional envelope filled with pictures for his birth mom. I have no way to know if she gets them or not, but I sure hope she does. I had some contact with our agency lately, and they asked the question for me. Our contact is Ethiopia assured me that she "definetly gets the pictures". I can barely allow my mind to go to what that must be like.

I hope when she looks at them she can see that he is well. That he is loved. That he is our child; just as much as Noah and Ella. And that we are doing as we promised we would. She remains in my heart and thoughts more often than I had thought she would. This woman who is so different than me, and yet so much the same. This sister in Christ who I have spent 30 minutes with, and yet am connected by a bond that is stronger than most in my life. She remains in my heart.

Felmata has seen several pregnant ladies lately, and has asked me if he grew in my tummy too. I gently remind him of his ET Mom, and explain that while he didn't grow in my tummy, he grew in my heart. He loves this word picture and I do too; because it is so true.

To think that we flew all the way across the world, picked up this 3 year old child whom we had never met before, brought him into our home, our lives, our hearts. Just 7 months ago. And really truly love him like he's always been ours.

It is a miracle.

All in itself.

God didn't have to bless us this way. And yet He did.

And I am grateful.


Twists and Turns

Life is unpredictable. You don't need to live long to realize that. It's especially unpredictable when a person chooses to live a life in obedience to God. When you walk in His footsteps, the path can be steep, unsteady, even dark and scary at times. But the amazing thing is that this amazing God of ours has walked the same path Himself. He knows where it leads and will walk with us all the way.

We know a few families who are in process of adopting children from Haiti. When you adopt a child, there is an instant network of friends you get to be a part of. Doesn't matter the country. So, we've been following their path just like they followed ours.

One friend in particular (they're listed under my blog list as "great adventures") had hoped their son would be home this past spring. But delay upon delay upon frustrating delay kept him in Haiti much longer than they had imagined. In the meantime, they began the process to adopt a little girl as well. The earthquake hit. Unimaginable fear and loss and anxiety. Their children are safe; yet so many are not.

Their path has taken a sudden, unexpected, beautiful turn. As God knew all along, those 2 kids are arriving into Miami today to be united with their new family. They had hoped their son would have been home by now, they knew their daughter was at least a year away; and now they'll all be together today! It is a breath of fresh air to see this kind of joy come out of all the devasation.

They, along with so many others, are on my heart today. The anticipation is almost too much to imagine. I pray their transition is a smooth one.

I also pray for the countless children around the world who are living life with a much different path than mine.


Anyone Else?

Is anyone else out there ready for spring yet? Anyone sick of the slop and cold and wet socks? How about the stinky smelling gloves and hats and mittens that never seem to get quite dry enough? The garage floor that is a brownish yucky mess?

I am ... I'm sick of it already and it's only the beginning of January.

I'm thinkin it's going to be a looong winter.


It's 2010!

Happy 2010 bloggers!

In some ways, it's hard to believe 2009 is done and gone. In other ways, it feels like it lasted forever! 2009 was a really "long" year for our family. I know each year has exactly 365 days in it, but in my life, some years seem to last longer than others. 2009 was a long one. It had more peaks and valleys than any other year I can remember. The mountain tops were brighter, but the valleys were darker.

We overcame some pretty big challenges, and are still waiting on the Lord to move in some others. We added another child to our family, and learned first hand that following God's promptings really does result in immeasurable joy. We struggled through a challenging economy, just like so many of you. In 2009 I learned what fear looks like, feels like, even tastes like and I also learned right along with it what it means to have strength and courage; and more importantly where it comes from. This year I saw injustice like I had only read about before.

There have been nights in 2009 that I've fallen into bed, with tears running down my cheeks so thankful for the amazing blessings I've been given. I've woken up some mornings not really feeling like getting out of bed to "do it all again". I've asked myself lots of questions ... like what am I supposed to be doing with my days, am I really making a difference to anyone, and all those questions I seem to ask when life gets mundane.

Yup ... there have been highs and lows and lots of days in between. And the best part has been, that I've never been alone. And I won't be in 2010 either. So, here's to another year!