The Journey Home

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Update on the adoption!

This is going to be a short post, but I had to let you all know that our MOWCYA letter came in, our file is complete, and the government officials are working on Biruk's birth certificate and passport!  WE'RE ONE STEP CLOSER TO HAVING HER HOME!!  

I'm learning so much about the Lord, and some of the most precious things I've learned about Him have to do with His character.  He's helping me to know that through all of the things that happen in my life, good, bad, or otherwise,  He is the loving God Who is in complete control and has our absolute best in mind.  He is teaching me to actively trust no matter the circumstance.  To give praise even (and maybe especially) in the frustrating, the difficult, the dark.  

I am itching, itching  to hold that sweet little squishy body in my arms again, to kiss and snuggle and read and rock and sing and wash and play and feed and swim and walk with her, and the rest of our little family feels the same way!!  We so appreciate you keeping us in your prayers.  We still have a few hurdles to jump, and are eagerly anticipating the joy of watching the Lord move.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  This is what the ancients were commended for."  Hebrews 11:1-2

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Waiting as...Sacred?

Hello, all!  I want to take a minute to fill you in on our adoption of Biruk Abigail this month.  As you know, we went to Ethiopia and stood before the court on June 1.  We were in court with 3 other families, and none of us "passed" because we are missing the much-needed letter from the Ministry of Women and Youth Affairs.  We need that letter for our files to be complete.  After this letter comes in, our cases will be submitted to the U.S. Embassy in Addis and we will wait another 8 to 12 weeks before we can travel to go and get our sweet, sweet daughter.  

As you may imagine, this waiting is not our first choice.  It feels llloooonnnggg.  It feels frustrating.  It feels like a gigantic hole is in our family and we so long for Biruk to fill it.  And in the middle of all of the conflicting and difficult emotions, there is our Savior.  The Sovereign Lord over all things.  The Light for the step we're on and the Great Architect of our lives.  A wise woman whom I've just had the pleasure of meeting over Facebook (of all places!) said that she would be praying for us in the sacredness of the wait.  That phrase caught my attention and I've been meditating on it for a week now.  Can waiting really be sacred, holy, a set-apart period of time?  The more I think on it, the more I believe it's true.  I can whine, fret, and be frustrated over this situation and completely miss the presence of God in and through the wait.  To what end??  To feel down and devoid of joy?  OR, I can choose to look at this period of our lives as holy ground, a place to take off my sandals and behold the glory of God.  To bask in the Presence.  To allow Him to be strength in my weary soul.  To allow Him to draw me near and speak truth over me and love into me.  To watch as He knits my husband and I closer together and more deeply, and relish it.  This seems like a better use of my time :)

"Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground."  Exodus 3:5

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Motherhood as a Mission Field

Motherhood as a Mission Field

For all of us mothers who are weary and sometimes question our importance in the Kingdom: be encouraged today.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


The education of my children is always on my mind.  There's not ever really a break from education in our home, and I love it that way.  I ran across this quote this morning and it's given me something to chew on today as I make jam, laundry soap, and fabric softener.  Hope it gives you something to chew on as well.  Blessings to you today!

“Education would be so much more effective if its purpose were to ensure that by the time they leave school every boy and girl should know how much they don’t know, and be imbued with a lifelong desire to know it.”

– Sir William Haley

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thoughts and Snippets...

While I was in Ethiopia, I recorded some sights and experiences in short little snippets.  It was a good way to help me not to forget without having to write paragraphs at a time!  Here they are.

Clouds on mountains
Shanty with flower roof to shade the sun
Child-shepherd with long shepherd's pole, standing watch on a rock and guarding his family's cattle
One hump camels eating the low leaves of an acacia
Tears in Abby and Jennifer's eyes as they see their babies for the first time
Carts being pulled by old donkeys
Cattle, donkeys, and goats crossing the roads
Clothes and diapers hanging on the line in the orphanage courtyard
Small brown hand on the other side of my van window, my own on top of hers...a wide smile, a sparkle in the eye
Teenage boy reading in English "Vacation with a Purpose" off of Aaron's shirt
Small boy hiding below the van window; slowly slips a black, plastic bag through the window for Aaron to grab; he does.  Giggles erupt.
Spotting Biruk on the playroom floor of the orphanage, eyes cast down.  Butterflies in my stomach.
Wanting so much to touch her but patiently giving her time to warm up.  Shaking hands that will not still.
Helping her to look in our eyes as we roll a bouncy green ball with her
Wide smile, but no teeth!, as I paint her thumbnail pink.  Wondering, will her nails still be pink when we pick her up?
Biruk holding up her other fingers expectantly for me to paint...she climbs into my lap by herself!  Ohhhh, the feeling of having her in my lap, finally!
Blowing on her nails together to dry them.  She tucks her upper lip under when she blows!
Jennifer and Jae's baby cries; Biruk stops our play to walk over to the baby.  She picks up the baby's book and tries to make her smile.  Me thinking what a tender, kind, sweet spirit she has.
Thinking over and over how very brave she is.
Watching Aaron pop bubbles Biruk blows.  My heart filling with love.
Noticing how tired Biruk looks; the heart swelling when nurse tells me Biruk refused her nap because she was too excited to meet us.
Mother instincts kick in...I walk over to see if Biruk will let me pick her up.  She's limp, but she lets me!  My heart throbs and swells with joy!
I kiss Biruk on the cheek; she giggles.  We play a game where I kiss, kiss, kiss; she smiles wide, and the first true giggle escapes her throat.  I feel as though my heart will burst inside my chest.
Biruk proudly showing us her bed, her space
Aaron picks up Biruk and whispers in her ear, "I love you, sweet girl."  My eyes fill with happy and sad tears.
Learning from nurse that she loves milk, loves rice and beef, hates macaroni.  Being glad to learn more about her likes and dislikes.
Feeling sad at how much I've already missed in her life...feeling happy to know I have a lifetime to get to know her.
Loving being able to hold, touch, watch, STARE, smell our sweet little girl.  She smells of Johnson's baby shampoo.
Being amazed at all of her hair!  Feeling determined to learn how to do her hair so that she'll love it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Our Amazing Journey

It is now Tuesday, June 14th.  We got back from Ethiopia on Thursday, June 2nd, and I still haven't update this blog.  Not because I didn't want to.  Not because I lacked the time.  It is because I'm still not certain how to convey in words all that I saw, felt, heard, smelled, and thought on this short but powerful trip.  I'll try to be as concise as possible, but when a girl prays that the Lord would open up all of her senses to fully live in each moment while she's in a third world country...let's just say that there is much to write about. 

We arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and were blown away by the beauty of the landscape.  It sits at about 8000 feet above sea level and is surrounded by mountains.  We tried to recoup from a nearly 14 hour non-stop plane ride and 7 hour time difference that first day.  Then on Monday the 30th, we hopped in a van and began the 6 hour ride to the southern region of Ethiopia to meet Biruk. 
Bird's eye view of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
On the of the many heavy-laden donkeys we saw
 I prayed on and off the entire trip, sometimes covering our first meeting with Biruk and sometimes for protection to get us there safely!  There are few rules on the roadways of Ethiopia...I kept thinking that the wonderful (Christian, we found out later!) driver who got us down there was worth his weight in gold.  If they had asked me to do the driving, we'd still be on the road.  Multitudes of people, animals of all varieties, bicycles, donkey carts, and other vehicles to dodge kept our driver on his toes.  I can't adequately explain what it felt like to drive up to her orphanage.  I had ever so many butterflies fluttering in my stomach and kept thinking, "She's right through that gate.  Our daughter is waiting right through that gate."  They led us through a small courtyard and into a playroom where we and the two other wonderful couples with whom we traveled were to meet our children for the first time.  We slipped off our shoes and entered the room, and there she was.  Our picture that has been the wallpaper of our computer and a permanent fixture on our refrigerator since March the 7th was sitting there on the floor in the flesh, a timid little girl dressed in a yellow Old Navy shirt and striped leggings, no shoes, hair pulled up in a bun with a red scrunchie, playing with a ball on the floor just inside of the door.  I remember my breath catching in my chest and just looking at her for a second.  Someone recently asked me if Biruk feels like my daughter.  The answer is miraculously YES.  God did not grow this little girl in my tummy.  I never got to feel her move inside of me, never got to watch my stomach grow as she grew, but I can confidently and gratefully say that the Lord grew this little individual in my heart.  We love her.  The flood of emotions was overwhelming and so, so sweet.  We sat down in front of her and handed her a book of pictures of all of our family which she never let out of her sight the whole time we were with her.  We blew bubbles.  We rolled balls.  And I painted her nails.  A wise woman whom we met at the house we stayed in while we were there suggested this, and I am so thankful that she did.  She thought that, if I
Biruk and Daddy
 painted her nails, she would be able to look down at them after we had to leave and think of us.  Such a simple thing that broke down walls in one fell swoop and went a long way to open up her sweet little heart to us.  Needless to say, a couple of bottles of nail polish will be traveling with me when we go to pick her up!  I wish that I could post pictures of her face, but we are not allowed to until the adoption is finalized.  I hope that you can feel the tenderness in this picture, though.  Such a sweet daddy and daughter moment that will be forever etched in my mind.  She allowed both of us to hug, tickle, snuggle, and rock her.  I breathed in the scent of Johnson's baby shampoo as I rocked her and stole kisses whenever I could.  Aaron gently rubbed her back and stroked her hair and whispered into her ear that her little tickly self would fit right into our family.  We asked a nurse to please tell her that, even though we had to leave, we would be back soon to get her.  Our driver told us an hour and a half later that we had to leave, so we left her in the care of the truly wonderful women at the care center and got back into the van.  We drove away, and I think for the first time I understood what it feels like for your heart to break.  My head knows that it is best for her to get to know us gradually through pictures and allow the nannies time to try to help her understand what adoption means.  My heart had no such understanding.  Leaving her was hard.  Whoever said "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" is right.  This last bit of waiting is so much more difficult than all previous months!  

I'll stop for now, but I want you all to know how much we felt your prayers and the presence of Christ at all times on this trip.  Thank you so much for taking the time to lift us up to the throne room of God.  He faithfully answered each one of your prayers.