Sunday, February 27, 2011

Only three days left...

Only three days left until I see my parents and brothers again. In some ways it seems like they've been gone for an eternity. In others, it feels like they left yesterday. 

My family has been so blessed with a supportive church body. I have been called and texted everyday to make sure that my younger brothers and I are not only surviving but also thriving. My younger brothers have been on several play dates and have also been occupied by gift bags that my parents so lovingly and thoughtfully put together. They open one each day and the hold things like toys, movies, activity books, etc. Opening one of those is something they look forward to. Being young and unobservant, I honestly don't even think they notice my parents are gone most of the time. I, on the other hand, don't handle it as well as my siblings. There are definitely ups and downs. But thankfully the Lord gives me new mercies every morning and I get through the day with His strength.

We have been blessed to be able to communicate through Skype calls to my family a continent away almost every day. It's so amazing to not only hear their voices but also see their faces. They are mostly tired due to jet lag, but, like their daughter at home in the States, they are also depending on God's daily showering of mercy and strength. They have loved getting to know Peaches. There have also been ups and downs with our precious, soon-to-be family member, but they are hoping that they see more attachment and affection. I have been reminded that she has had such tragedy and brokeness in such a short lifetime. Only God can heal her heart and so we must be patient and rely on Him to completely open her heart to us. I was so happy and encouraged to hear that when Peaches was looking at the pictures of all her new siblings, my mom would say the names of the kids and Peaches would repeat them. I'm so glad to know that even in a far away country, my soon to be sister is already saying my name :)

Please continue to keep my family in your thoughts and prayers. I will soon be with the rest of my beloved family and I just can't wait!


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Life Back At Home

Note: This post was originally supposed to be published Yesterday, but due to technical difficulties it has been posted tonight. :)

I have been given permission by my loving and generous father to post about life with my parents gone. (a.k.a. a post that might end up being about me and my sorrows ;)

My family has been so important to me for my whole 17 years of life. Always supportive of everything I do, including all the wacky weird stuff I make them deal with everyday. Now my beloved parents and my twin brothers (who happen to be two of my Very best friends!) are on their way to meet my precious soon-to-be little sister. It was so hard to say good-bye to them this morning. There were many tears knowing that the people I have known the longest in my short life were leaving.

I know that they won't be away from me THAT long, but it's still difficult to watch four of the most supportive and loving people of your life leave you behind to travel an ocean away to a different continent.

I am so thankful for my church family who has been so supportive of my family and our whole adoption process. They have made it very clear that they will do anything to make my family's departure not so lonely. Also, my very best friend, who I've known for only two years, has also lovingly volunteered to be by my side this whole time.

Thankfully, my whole family AND my grandparents (who are thoughtfully caring for the little boys and me) were able to come to my choir/show choir/band concert last night. It meant the world to me that they were all there the night before they left on a jet plane. I have taken the liberty of posting a video of a show choir (or for the "older" audience, swing choir ;) song we performed. I happen to have a solo in it. I was so thrilled to be chosen to sing this solo and my parents were there to cheer me just like always. Enjoy the video and please keep my family and me in your prayers.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Leavin' on a Jet Plane

Leaving this morning on our 8,000 mile journey to go to Ethiopia to see our Peaches.  Many emotions flooding our thoughts as we begin to physically travel to a place that our hearts have already emotionally traveled to.  We land in Addis in about 40 hours.  Hopefully we'll be holding our little girl not long after that.

New obstacles arrived Sunday night as we found out we would have to claim and recheck our luggage during our overnight stay in DC.  While this would not normally be a problem, it became huge since we are taking so many donations.  In addition to that, fear came upon us both as we realized we were getting ready to leave.  Leaving children behind and heading on a trip that has endless emotions wrapped up in it is not for the faint of heart.  But we are reminded that whether we are sitting in our living room or flying over the Atlantic, God holds us in the palm of His hand.  He is our sufficiency, He is our satisfaction.

We are in need of your prayers and are thankful for an amazing group of friends here at home.  They have reached into our lives in countless ways, especially over the last several days, and are with us as we board the plane today.  We are truly blessed.

Well, gotta run if I'm going to make it to the airport 4 hours early!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Just four days left

There are just four days left until we leave.  There are still so many things left to do.  However, we are thankful for many friends who have helped packing donations totes (all of the donations fit perfectly in all of the totes!), helping to get the house cleaned, helping with grocery shopping, helping with the kids, and on and on and on.  We are blessed!

So, my mind is now consumed with what time do we get to the airport on Tuesday.  That is a critical question that must be analyzed thoroughly.

Our flight leaves at 1:09 pm out of Omaha.  In my mind, that means we should get to the airport at about the same time that they unlock the doors in the morning.  We should be the first car in the parking lot, waiting at the door to be unlocked with all of our totes and luggage ready to rush to the check-in counter so that we can get to our gate at least 6 hours early.  Ohhhh, it feels good to be early!

Now on the other hand, Heather's view of being punctual is slightly different.  She figures that the whole process of getting from long term parking to the airport terminal with our eight pieces of checked luggage, then getting checked in for an international flight, getting through security, and getting to our gate should take a total of about five minutes.  So therefore there is no reason to arrive at the airport prior to 1:04 pm.  If the plane is not backing away from the gate, then we are not late.

As you can see, there is generally some healthy discussion whenever we fly somewhere together - especially on this trip since we are flying internationally with a lot of checked luggage!  I won't go into the details of leaving her behind as we were changing gates in the Dallas airport a couple of summers ago.  By the way, her side of the story will leave out the important details of how I was trying to make sure our whole family was going to be seated together and was therefore clearly wanting to provide for and protect my family and that is why I sprinted through the airport leaving her behind with the kids.  I'm just hopeful that I will control my schedule-driven urges and not leave her behind in the Addis airport.  That would be embarassing to show up at Hannah's Hope without her.  We will need much prayer during the travel stages of this trip!!!

We are so thankful to be so close.  We can't wait to see and hold and hug our Peaches.  We're on our way to see you girl.  Can't wait to see your smile.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Showered with Love

As many of you know, our church had a Donations Shower for us today.  Well, really the shower was for the kiddos at Hannah's Hope, our agency's transition home in Addis Ababa.  The purpose was to gather donations for us to bring over on our trip to meet our Peaches (WHICH IS ONLY 10 DAYS AWAY!!!!).

The shower was a great success and was the best shower I've ever been to (OK, so it's the only shower I've ever been to).  But, now that I know that they serve chips and salsa and amazing cake, I'm going to be going to more showers in the future.

A lot of thanks go to the ladies at church who put this together.  They are amazing friends who are near and dear to our hearts.  We appreciate your help and efforts in arranging all of it and allowing us to just show up, eat food, receive lots of donations, and feel loved.  Thanks to all!  We are grateful to be a part of such a loving and serving body.

Here are some of the pictures of the day's events.
The cool cake baked and decorated by Bugg
A bunch of da boys ready to eat.  The second amazing cake was made by Cassandra...Wow!

The beautiful ladies posing with a picture of Peaches

Carol, Ella, Sherri, and Wendy

Sunshine and Giggles - Everyone wants to hold Giggles

Jaynie, Cassandra, and Bugg shellin' out the food

Nomie, L Jo, Cassandra, Tatiana, Cassandra, and Bugg

Bugg, Natasha, Bink, Oksana, and Sunshine

Joe, Rye Bread, Alexander, Big "C" (aka, The Ref), Levi "The Beat", T-Bird, and Speedy

Anna, Tata, and Sandy the Swedish Swami of Decorating

The Beavers, Sherri, and Giggles

Mrs. Beaver and Sherri

Here we are - thankful for donations, thankful for a loving church and ready to go see our Peaches!!!!

With totes and table overflowing, we are ready to head to Hannah's Hope and bring the love of Christ

Sunshine with her beautiful Peaches

Bugg, Sunshine, and Peaches - Who wouldn't love these three girls!!!

 As we prayed over the donations and I shared about Ethiopia, orphans, and God's heart, it was overwhelming to realize where we are in this journey.  It was an emotional swell as I paused to think of Where God had taken us.  We are so close to holding the girl that God called us to.  In 10 short days, we will get on a plane to travel 8,000 miles.  We will see a poverty-stricken world that we cannot comprehend.  We will finally walk through the gates of Hannah's Hope.  We will run to our girl, hold her, and tell her everything's going to be OK.  We will tell her that she is almost home.  We will tell her that mom and dad are here.

We look forward to bringing the donations to Hannah's Hope.  To see the faces of the kiddos as we show them the bouncy balls, bracelets, and other toys.  To see the workers' faces light up as they see the diapers and other items we in the western world take for granted.  To see Peaches' face light up as she begins to realize that she will have something of much greater value than trinkets and plastic toys - she will have a family, she will have love, she will have a home.

How and why God chose us for such an honor we will never understand.  We are thankful to be part of His purpose, part of His plan, part of His blessing.  We are thankful to be the ones who will welcome Peaches in to our arms, into our lives, into our home.

Thank you to our Church and thank you to our God.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Created for Care Video

Andrea at Babe of My Heart held a conference this last weekend called Created for Care.  She had 250 moms attend and the focus was provided support to those families in areas related to adoption.

This is the video that she created to start the weekend conference.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 4, 2011

No Sprain, No Gain

Heather went roller skating today with Rye-Bread, T-Bird, Eddie Joe and The Big Fella.  It was an afternoon with lots of moms and lots of kids on roller skates.  If you are beginning to sense some foreshadowing of the title of this post and the mention of moms on roller skates, you are very astute.

But, before I expound fully on the roller skating story, I need to actually begin with what happened last night.

I coach basketball with a friend of mine named Scott and we had a game last night.  We both have boys on this 7th and 8th grade boys basketball team.  Together we have coached our boys since they were in the 1st and 2nd grade.  We have been solely responsible for honing their solid basketball skills.  There is no question that their basketball success has come because of our coaching excellence.  We are always quick to remind each other that it's all about the coaches and it's important that he and I dunk a lot on 7' baskets during practice.  I'm digressing, aren't I.

Anyway, during the game last night, we were attempting to run a zone defense in the 1st half.  We were getting killed by the three point shot and were down 20-16 at halftime.  During Scott's impassioned halftime speech, I received a text.  Surprised, I checked my phone a found a text that said, "zone defense isn't seeming to work....can't cover #21."  The text was from Heather.  She's texting me with adjustments that she thinks we should be making during halftime???  Huh??  Do we look like we need coaching help??

We switched to man-to-man defense in the second half and held them to 3 points the entire half.  We ended up winning 39-23.  For the record, the decision to switch to man-to-man was had nothing to do with the text that was received.  It was solely the decision of the coaches and we take full credit for it.  It's all about the coaches.

Now, back to the roller skating story.  During something that is called the "triple skate," Heather was apparently skating with Eddie Joe and The Big Fella.  At some point, Eddie Joe began to fall.  As he was going down, he dragged Heather and The Big Fella down.  Heather and The Big Fella slammed heads, Heather tried to break her fall with her wrist, and then her wrist was run over by the Big Fella's roller skates.  They literally cleared the roller rink floor because of the injured person.  Heather had seriously injured her wrist and was in a lot of pain.  Sherri hurriedly took Heather to the doctor while Sandy took the rest of the kids home.

[As a side note, this story is eerily similar to the Crockpot incident where Heather gashed her wrists while falling on a Crockpot in the church parking lot and was hurried to the emergency room with Sherri and Pat each holding a bleeding wrist while I drove madly hitting every red light possible.  You can be entertained by that story from last April by clicking on the story:  No, She Just Fell On Her Crockpot]

So Heather was taken to the doctor and I hurriedly left work to meet them there.  It was cool because Sherri's husband Scott (yes, the other basketball coach from last night) just happened to be at the doctor's office to get some of his shots for his trip to Ethiopia this May with Look Development.  So we had a lot of laughs together about Heather's predicament and tried to keep things light.

They took a few x-rays of her wrist and then the doctor came in to meet with us.  After looking at the x-ray some more, he decided to go and consult some other doctors.  When he came back in, he said he had consulted with three other doctors and of the four of them (including himself in that number), three of them agreed that it was only a sprain, the fourth was undecided.  I felt like I was in a Trident gum commercial where 3 out of 4 dentists recommend it.

Since it was just a sprain, they gave her a splint and told her to take Advil, keep ice on it, and keep it elevated.  Oh, and that when she does the dishes, she should take her splint off (yes, he really said that).

So, in the end, I'm wondering if the skating injury had anything to do with the text she sent last night?  Is it possible that Scott (the other coach) and I enlisted Tanya Harding to "take care of" the skating mom?  I don't know.  I'm not saying.  The art of coaching should never be interfered with.

On a serious note, I am thankful that she's OK and that it wasn't more serious.  I'm glad that it wasn't broken so she doesn't have to have a cast on for our trip to Ethiopia.  I'm thankful that it should heal within a week or so and that the pain isn't more severe for her than it is.

[As a follow-up note:  Heather read this post and I assumed she would be touched by the last paragraph.  However, when she read it, her comment was, "you're glad that I won't have a cast when we go to Ethiopia because you were concerned that I would slow you down in the airport, right??"  Well, if you've ever seen me in the airport you would understand her comment.  In fact it's rare that Heather ever sees me in the airport because I am often about 12 gates ahead of her sprinting to the next gate.  Something I definitely need to work on before we attempt international travel together!]

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Great Etsy Shop

If you're looking for a great Etsy shop to buy some trinkets for the lady in your life (or for yourself if you are a lady), look no further than the Junkposse Etsy shop.

Tracy at the Junkposse is great to work with.  She makes the Africa necklaces that have the heart-shaped hole in them.  See the picture below of Heather sporting her Africa necklace.

And she also made the necklace I bought for Heather for Christmas this year.  The great part about working with Tracy is that she is willing to customize anything.  For Heather's gift I had her inscribe all of the kid's names (including our little Peaches) on the back of the necklace.

Tracy gives a part of the proceeds toward adoption related ministries too.  So you're not only buying a cool piece of jewelry, you're also supporting adoption.  She has necklaces for a variety of countries, including Russia, Thailand, China, Haiti, and Guatemala to name a few.

So trek on over to the Junkposse and do some shopping!