Saturday, July 31, 2010

Making Room for More

We are making ROOM FOR MORE! Our addition officially began this week. Our deck was removed and now we are ready to have a very big hole dug where the deck no longer sits. We have been working on addition plans since last November and weren't sure whether it would really ever happen or not. With problems lining up a good Contractor, it has been an up and down struggle (mainly up?) all the way.  I think we have our guy now and I think we are actually going to see some progress.

Incidentally, our Contractor also builds homes for Habitat for Humanity. So he normally builds homes for the poor and needy, but now is also providing some additional space for an Ethiopian orphan. That's building with a purpose!  His name is Bob - so he is the real "Bob the Builder."

Here are some pics of the deck de-construction. (Dennis, we had hoped to find treasures under the deck from the Hofer era, but as with everything else you do, it was neat and orderly under there! Just a lot of balls from the more modern era.)

We've had a lot of rain recently - hence one of the reasons for the slow construction progress. With rain comes an opportunity for kids to play in the puddles at the end of our neighbor's driveway. Even Sunshine joined in the fun....

The real highlight of the week came when our dear friend Miss Martha visited. We could write volumes and volumes on what she has meant to our family - God used her as part of the peace that calmed our storm when Eddie Joe was born. What a fun time we had with her here, lots of laughter and M & M's. On Friday she headed back to Fayetteville. As she left, we felt the icing of joy and love and fun that she brings leave with her also.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ethiopian Courts - Rain, Rain, Go Away

We found out over the weekend that the Ethiopian courts are accepting no more court appointments due to the beginning of the rainy season.  Court dates are now being scheduled during early October - two months away.  Looking at the bright side, knowing that the cup is half full, it's good that they are actually scheduling court dates.  That is better than waiting until the rainy season ends to start to schedule court dates.  For us, that means that if we get a referral soon, we could possibly travel in October for our 1st court appearance.  Since we are in the nebulous zone of waiting for a toddler, it could also be several months after that....or several months after that.

We also found out another piece of information today.  When we travel to Ethiopia on our first trip to visit our little girl, she will still not legally be our daughter.  Because of this, it sounds like they are not going to introduce us to her as her parents. We will not be able to express to her that we are her parents and she is our daughter.  This is to protect her since at that point we will not legally be her parents and if after being introduced to her as her "parents" and something strange happened where the legal system rejected us, she could be left orphaned for a second time.  I don't know exactly what it will look like when we visit her, but it certainly will be awkward expressing to her how we feel about her.  It is also heart-wrenching thinking about leaving her for several months before we return to bring her home.  In addition, it is likely that they will not give her the photo album we prepare for her until the court decision is complete.

The bringing together of an orphan and a family is really a strange thing.  It has so many levels.  On one level it is a legal relationship that is given the final approval by the Ethiopian and American legal systems.  Very cold and sterile.  On another level altogether, it is bringing a child into a loving home where emotions are highly engaged.  Emotions both for us and for her - probably far more for her due to the hurt she will likely be coming from and the many, many things she has to give up when she comes to America.  Our mind rattles these things around and we are reminded once again that we are resting in God.  It is in His hands - thankfully!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

So, is camping supposed to be tiring or relaxing???

We got home from camping today, unloaded everything and then sat down.  You can imagine what happened then.  Before the afternoon was over, I had taken two naps!!  Am I supposed to be refreshed or tired after a weekend of camping?  Well, after two naps, I am very refreshed.  So, I guess in the end, the weekend of camping was refreshing.

We are still "tenters" and are therefore pretty primitive.  Heather, Sunshine, and the two little guys had planned to spend the two nights at Mom and Dad's house in town (10 minutes from the campsite).  Rye-Bread and T-bird and I planned to spend both nights in the tent.  However, on Friday night, at 10:00 pm, it was still almost 90 deg.  So we bailed and headed for the A/C comfort of Mom and Dad's house.  Even though we wimped out, we didn't regret it at all.  It was great to enjoy the comfort of A/C, a bed, a shower, and Mom's cinnamon bread in the morning.  For the record, we wimped out, but we were happy wimps.  It was cooler on Saturday so we ended up sleeping in the tent that night.

Here some pics of our weekend.  Can't wait until there is another little girl to join us for family fun!

Mom and Dad brought supper for Friday night.  It was awesome!

There was lots of swimming.  Eddie Joe loves to swim and had a great time playing in the sand!

We enjoyed a late afternoon visit to a park in Fremont.  Two lovebirds on a park bench!
Sunshine loves taking pics of gazebos and lamp posts.  Here she got two in one shot!
Ice cream at Zesto's is a must!
Breakfast without Heather around means Cocoa Puffs and Fruity Pebbles for the boys!
Lovin' the nutritious breakfast!
Chillin at the campsite.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Night At The Parade.....

One of the fun nights of the summer is going to the Dakota-Thurston County Fair Parade.  It runs down the glorious Dakota Avenue in the heart of South Sioux City.  It is the quintessential county fair parade complete with a marching band, a tractor, fire engines, old guys driving little cars way too fast, horses, and lots and lots of candy.  We perch in the same spot each year and take it all in.

Janet Hofer and her sister Cindy were in town along with their daughter Julie, husband Brad, and their two kids (BTW - cutest two kids in the world).  Dennis was probably off doing some important Vice Presidential duty.  The rest of the normal crowd joined us too - Davidsons and the O's (minus Pat, J-O, and L Jo).

Here are a few of the highlights in pictures......

Sunshine is on the Color Guard (when I was in high school we called it the flag team, but that was in the olden days).  Here's a pic of her crusin down the street with the band.  Her friend Eva, who is the drum major, is also in the pic.....

We started yelling her name, mainly to support her (she feels it is solely to embarrass her).  As we started yelling her name, she started to laugh and her friend Jessica also was cracking up.  You can see Sunshine's face trying to hide from us and Jess laughing at her on the left side of the pic....

Another pic of Jessica finding enjoyment from everyone yelling Sunshine's name.....

We announced to everyone that a firetruck was coming that was spraying water.  Slowly, one by one, several people began to find shelter under a nearby tree - hoping to escape the spray (Eddie Joe, Naomi, and Megan were first)

and then more found shelter..........

And finally the truck came - he was having a lot of fun....
The parade ended with the reigning Rodeo Queen riding on her horse.  She is none other than Cora D.  It was a lot of fun to see her perched on her horse taking in all of the crowd cheering her on as queen.  She'd probably rather be breaking a 2 year old, but her smile showed she was having fun.

Unrelated to the parade, I wanted to demonstrate again what your teenage kids do with your digital camera while your not around.  These are things you find when you go to download your camera.  This time the victim is Baxter - Eddie Joe's favorite stuffed animal.

We're going camping this weekend - we hope to have a great time!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Reflections on Haiti

It's funny how you "meet" people in blog world.  You start to follow their posts and before you know it, you feel like you connect with them.  This has been relatively recent for us since we officially entered blog world only last February.

Kari, at My Crazy Adoption, is one of those people whose blog we follow.  We have also been able to exchange a few emails with her and have been encouraged by her action-oriented view of orphan care.  She is not only is gifted in blogging about it, she takes action.  In fact, she left a day or two ago to head to Africa for 14 days to lead a group of people in orphan care work.  While she is gone, she has arranged for different guest bloggers to post for her.

Today's guest blogger is working in an orphanage in Haiti.  As I read through her post, it reminded me of the summer after my senior year in high school when I traveled to Haiti with several other high school kids and a medical group from my home town of Holdrege, NE.  The medical group traveled to Haiti each year to perform medical procedures for the poverty-stricken island of La Ganove near Port-Au-Prince.  Five of us high school kids came along to sing in the various churches and to experience the country.  We also had the opportunity during the day to help in the hospital or to plant trees.  After witnessing surgery first-hand, where the doctor showed me all of the internals of a human abdomen in great detail, I decided tree planting was a great way to spend my time during the day.

Some of the things that really stuck with me from Haiti?   The smell when we first got off the plane, the people that were everywhere, traffic flying at great speeds in all directions, the poverty that penetrated throughout the city, the conditions where people lived, the joy that was in the eyes of those who knew Christ.  These are some of the same thoughts I have as I think of traveling to Ethiopia.  And some of the things that I hope God uses to broaden the hearts and minds of our three oldest if they are able to travel with us.

Please take the time to read the post from Kari's guest blogger.  Pray for those in Haiti.  Ask God what you can do for His cause.

Friday, July 16, 2010

One Less Orphan - Welcome Home Gitlins!

The Gitlins (click for their blog:  Our Hearts Are In Africa) got home today from Ethiopia with their newly adopted son who is soon to turn 4.  We had a lot of fun meeting them at the airport in Omaha tonight.  They had traveled for 27 hours from the time they left Addis Ababa until they landed in Omaha!  What a trip!  But they looked very refreshed, very excited.

We had only "met" the Gitlins through blogland and emails but wanted to meet them in person since they are somewhat local and we share (or are soon to share) the Ethiopian connection.  The Beavers also traveled to the airport along with the Crisses. 

It was a lot of fun to watch the entire Gitlin family welcome home their new little one.  We sure look forward to walking down the same airport hallway bringing our little girl home to meet family and friends.  We continue to pray for a referral soon!

So what makes a family travel around the world to adopt a little boy from a 3rd world country?  What drives a heart to make such an emotional, physical, and financial commitment?  Their blog shares how God has led them and God has provided for their every need.  As they rescued this former orphan and brought him into their family, it serves as a beautiful picture of God rescuing us - we who were formerly strangers and aliens.

Enjoy the pics!

And what could be better to top off the night than to have dinner with the Beavers at Cracker Barrel!!  We were really shocked when another waitress came up to our table and gave us $60.  She said it was given to us from an anonymous family at the restaurant.  We don't know who it was or why they gave it to us - but were thankful to God for the gift.  Here's a pic of the kids out in front of Cracker Barrel.  When the Beaver girls and Sunshine get together, there is a lot of laughter and a lot of fun!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hepatitis A Shots...

           Today Sunshine, T-bird, and I received our Hepatitis A shots. The whole day we were all teasing each other about the shots. I think it was our own way of making ourselves less nervous.

   According to my dad, mine and T-bird`s "muscles" would make it hurt more. I, however, did not believe any such nonsense about muscles existing anywhere on my body. My dad is surely convinced about us having "serious pipes." I`m still not convinced.                              

   However, the moment came and went and no real pain was felt (maybe a bit by Sunshine as a few tears slipped down her face). Afterwords, there had to be some kind of reward. So, we stopped by the mall and got Starbucks and Hardee`s. We came home and took pictures.......

                                                  All of us very happy to be done!!!

                                                               And yet the pain!!!!!

                            --Rye Bread

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Our New Number - Psalm 38

Psalm 38

 1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger
       or discipline me in your wrath.  2 For your arrows have pierced me,
       and your hand has come down upon me.
 3 Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
       my bones have no soundness because of my sin.
 4 My guilt has overwhelmed me
       like a burden too heavy to bear.
 5 My wounds fester and are loathsome
       because of my sinful folly.
 6 I am bowed down and brought very low;
       all day long I go about mourning.
 7 My back is filled with searing pain;
       there is no health in my body.
 8 I am feeble and utterly crushed;
       I groan in anguish of heart.
 9 All my longings lie open before you, O Lord;
       my sighing is not hidden from you.
 10 My heart pounds, my strength fails me;
       even the light has gone from my eyes.
 11 My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds;
       my neighbors stay far away.
 12 Those who seek my life set their traps,
       those who would harm me talk of my ruin;
       all day long they plot deception.
 13 I am like a deaf man, who cannot hear,
       like a mute, who cannot open his mouth;
 14 I have become like a man who does not hear,
       whose mouth can offer no reply.
 15 I wait for you, O LORD;
       you will answer, O Lord my God.
 16 For I said, "Do not let them gloat
       or exalt themselves over me when my foot slips."
 17 For I am about to fall,
       and my pain is ever with me.
 18 I confess my iniquity;
       I am troubled by my sin.
 19 Many are those who are my vigorous enemies;
       those who hate me without reason are numerous.
 20 Those who repay my good with evil
       slander me when I pursue what is good.
 21 O LORD, do not forsake me;
       be not far from me, O my God.
 22 Come quickly to help me,
       O Lord my Savior.

Heather talked to Kiersten today and received our new number - our new number is 38.  With a new number comes a new reflection in the Psalms.  Psalm 38 is not the typical Psalm that you would go to for encouragement.  But through God's mercy, I have been encouraged today as I reflected on this Psalm.   

There is much dealing with sin in Psalm 38 that is very sobering.  It is a reflection of how God could ultimately deal with our sin and how David felt before God because of his sin.  David uses imagery of anger, arrows, and being crushed in light of his sin.  That is a proper feeling about sin in light of standing before a holy and just God. 

However, I am thankful that because of the work of Christ, and His work alone, I stand blameless before God's throne.  I am wrapped in the robes of Christ's righteousness, and because of His mediation I have nothing to fear. 

And not only am I free from His wrath, I am welcomed as a child.  Welcomed as an adopted child who was far off, an alien and a stranger, one who was brought near by a loving Father.  One who has been brought into a relationship as a son where love rules.  I am thankful for His adoption of me into His Father/son relationship.

The Psalm also touches on waiting and pleading for God to not be far away (vs 15, 21).  Our family continues to be in the midst of waiting and we know that we are not waiting on a number, but are waiting on God.  It is His perfect timing that will bring our little one home.  It is His loving purposes that are being accomplished even today as His plan moves forward step by step.  Yet, knowing that, we still plead for God to not be far from us.  We plead, as in verse 22, that God would make haste to help us.  We know many things in our heads, and yet our heart yearns for the next step.  But God is sufficient for us today as He will be sufficient for us in the day we bring her home. 

I am thankful for Psalm 38 today.  I am thankful that He caused my eyes to turn to Him.  I am thankful that our hope is in God.

Monday, July 12, 2010

HOPE T-Shirt, a Gotcha Video, and Roller Skates....

Heather got the T-shirt she won from the Uchereks raffle today.  We decided it looks great on Sunshine, so she is the proud owner of the new HOPE T-Shirt.  Thanks to the Uchereks for the T-Shirt raffle!  If you want one too, you can purchase one as part of the Jewett's fundraiser at their blog by clicking here.

I have posted several times about the Youngs who recently returned from Ethiopia with their new son Isaac.  Somehow, she had time to put together their Gotcha video already!  Sit back and enjoy and let your heart be moved.

Lastly, we were at the Henn House the other day and saw several of their kids with their in-line skates on.  We forgot that we had three sets sitting in the garage doing nothing!  So we got them down and Eddie Joe has been loving learning how to skate.  It is definitely his kind of thing.  The Big Fella....not so much.  Here's a pic of Eddie Joe livin' large on skates....(It should be noted that when the older three learned to skate, they wore helmets and various other protective padding.  For the 5th child - well he'll figure it out.)