Monday, April 26, 2010

I get a break!!

This may be my last post for the week. I am traveling with 2 other dear friends to the Orphan Alliance Summit in Minneapolis the end of this week. I will miss my kids but so excited to have some time away with my Sisters in Christ, Rachael and Shelly. We are on a really cool journey together and share the same heart for the orphans. During this conference, I am focusing on global orphan care and attachment. Can't wait to see where God will take our journey from here!

And although the sessions (I'm sure) will be amazing and very imformative, I am most looking forward to seeing (hopefully meeting) Tom Davis, Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman. Tom will be speaking at the opening session and the Chapmans will be speaking and performing. The Desperation Band will also perform at the Friday morning session. 2 days packed full!

I'll most likely return home exhausted but spiritually full. Then on Sunday, Lauren's confirmation. So I have lots to get done before I leave!

Our Refferalversary is next week. I remember this day like it was yesterday. Sorry to sound so cliche, but the same emotions return to me when I think about that event. That may be my next post...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Things that break our hearts

Steve, Samson and I returned home from a walk the other night and I found Olivia and Avery lying on our bed watching American Idol. It was "Idol Gives Back" night. Just as I entered our room they were showing a story about a pregnant woman from Kenya, lying on a bed, close to death from complications of Malaria. She was pregnant with her and her husband's first child. Her husband brought her to a clinic for care but by the time they arrived, the disease had already taken over her body and it was too late to save her life and the life of her unborn child.

It was painful to watch the agony this young man suffered because of the death of his beautiful wife and child. What was even more painful is the fact that Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease! Yet, there are still up to 2.7 million deaths each year from Malaria. If this was happening in the US, there would be every effort made to stop it. If this was happening to our next door neighbor, we would respond with more urgency.

We can read the statistics but there is something about a real life story put in front of you that stirs your emotions more than numbers. I watched the reaction to the story on both of my daughters’ faces and they were obviously really taken back by this sad story. My heart was also broken.

A little while later, Olivia found me in the kitchen putting dishes away. I could tell that she was on the verge of tears and when I asked what was wrong, she told me she was having a hard time breathing, so I suggested she step out into the porch for a few minutes for fresh air.

When she came back in, I had just finished cleaning up the kitchen and she began speaking what was on her mind and what may have been the cause of her shortness of breath.

She appeared to be under a lot of distress. She told Steve and I that the story of the young African man who lost his wife and unborn child really scared her. She has always been a compassionate child but there was something about this American Idol episode that really stirred her emotions and broke her heart.

She relayed something to the effect that she was having a hard time breathing because she was overwhelmed with the knowledge of the unfairness of so many suffering in the world, despite our own family's wealth.

With tears in her eyes, great passion behind her voice and breathing even heavier, she turned to Steve and I and said, "Why don't we do something about this!" "I mean, come on people! What is going on?" "Why do we just sit here with so much while others are so poor?" "Why don't we actually DO something instead of TALKING about doing something?!"

Very good questions!

She went on to say that she feels like God wants our family to do something big, something that would make a big difference and change the lives of many.

I walked her upstairs to her bed at that moment, her tears subsided and the two of us prayed, asking God to reveal to us what he has in store for our family. Olivia has the gift of prayer and hearing God speak to her. She shares with us when she hears from God and I can tell when it is real and not her imagination. In fact during our adoption journey, she had some very prophetic things spoken to her that actually came true.

After we prayed, I could see the heaviness lifted from her little body and she was breathing normal once again. We both felt an overwhelming peace and pledged to have a family prayer and meeting about what is next for our family.

God has broken our hearts over and over again on this journey. He's refining us and preparing us for something. Our family has been praying and brainstorming ways to give back, ways that would be most sustainable for those who need our help most. We don't know exactly what God has in store for us but we know He is preparing us.

One thing I love about the faith of a child, as in Olivia, is that they don't have any fear about going to battle. Us adults have all kinds of excuses but a child doesn't understand how there could be anything in the way of joining the army to fight against poverty.

As an adult, sometimes when God takes our breath away or causes our heart to break, we feel trapped in our life styles and our own inequities. But for Olivia, when God took her breath away and caused her to grieve for what He grieves for, He got her attention and she is not going to let it rest. That's what I love about the fearless and determined heart of a child.

Our family has been keeping our eye on opportunities and areas to serve. Since our trip to Ethiopia, it has been on our hearts to give back to our son's birth country. I know my dear Olivia will be holding us accountable and pushing us to respond quicker.

"Once our eyes are opened we cannot pretend we do not know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls knows we know and holds us responsible to act." (Proverbs 24:12)

Friday, April 16, 2010

We are The Truth

The truth is, our adoption has rocked our world.
The truth is, our adoption has stretched our hearts.
The truth is, our adoption has allowed us to experience miracles!

The truth is, I don't want to go back to my old life. The moment Steve and I acknowledged that we are the ones who will be saved through this journey of adoption, was one of the most pivotal moments in our faith walk together. Some day I'll share this moment but for now, I invite you to share your story here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Turning Seven!

My baby girl is Seven today! Yes - she was a tax day baby!
About our girl...
She is very SWEET.
She wears a permanent smile on her face.
She would love to be a Princess some day - I tell her she already is one.
She is a 'Girly Girl'.
So, no surprise that her favorite colors are PINK and PURPLE.
She loves to (s)nuggle in bed with her mommy B4 getting up in the mornings.

She loves to read.
She is an amazing gymnast - she can whip her body around the bars like no other 7 year old.
She wants to get her ears pierced but mom and dad are undecided.

She is a great friend and playmate to Samson.

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl!!

We Love You!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Father/Daughter Celebration

This is the first year in several that I did not coordinate, set-up for and help at the girls school's Father/Daughter dance. Thanks to those who took over the planning of this event so that my girls could still look forward to this special evening with their father!

Samson was wondering where his daddy was going with his sisters and when we told him they were going to a dance, he wanted to dance. So, we put in some music and he said, "Mommy, take pictures of Samson!"

Check out these moves!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Update and progress

We celebrated Easter with my family this year and the kids enjoyed hours of play with their cousins and endless rides on the Go-Kart and 4-Wheeler on the farm.

We have had more good moments than not so good moments with Samson in recent days. Warmer weather and playing outside have contributed to my more positive attitude. Having a more positive attitude of course gives me the patience and strength to deal with the intense moments. Although I must say, that these warmer days have worn me out physically because chasing a toddler outside requires much more movement than chasing them in the house.

Right now we are in a good place as far as attachment is concerned. In fact the other night when Steve and I left the house for a short walk, Samson was very angry at me when we returned. The girls said he cried the whole time we were gone (ouch!). When I went to pick him up, he said, "No mommy! You can't go on walk! No mommy! Don't do that again!" This is when being mad is actually a good thing as far as attachment is concerned.

When Samson was first home, he rejected me but it was different. I was a stranger to him then and he didn't care how much he hurt me. His rejection was without an emotional attachment to me. Does that make sense? He didn't reject me because I hurt him. He rejected me because he feared getting hurt if he allowed me too close to him.

So that night, his sadness was with emotional ties.  He has reached a point where he trusts me. He has allowed me to be close to him. When I left him behind, he was hurt. Steve and I have left him with the girls before but never has he been mad at me.

We had another experience at our Early Childhood class yesterday that also was a good sign we are progressing with our attachment. The first half of our class time, the parents play activities with their children. The second half, the parents go to a separate room, leaving the kids to play and do activities with a couple teachers.

Each time we have gone, he easily says good-bye to me and has no problem separating from me. I've observed that most of the other children do have an issue with separating from their parent.

Yesterday, when we said our good-byes, he immediately started to walk to the next activity, like he usually does but this time, he stopped half way to the activity, turned around and started to walk back towards that group of parents leaving the room. I was peaking around the corner, out of sight from him but waited to see what he would do.

He looked a little worried when he didn't see me, then decided to turn around and continue on to the next thing. But he did stop and look back a couple times, which made me feel good. When I came back to the room to pick him up, he had a somewhat sad look on his face. I asked him if something was wrong and I asked him if he missed me and of course he said, "Yes mommy, I missed you!" He allowed me to pick him up and carry him all the way to the car. (Usually he has to walk all on his own and open every door.)

Progress is always fun to see even if it's just a moment or a short experience here and there.

I have been waiting for the day when he would play independently on his own without worrying about my whereabouts. I look forward to the days when I can load and unload the wash machine, empty and load the dishwasher, fold laundry, and vacuum without a toddler stuck to me. Not that I don't wish for him to help, just sometimes I have limited time to complete housework.

Today I'm baking bread and for the first time ever that I have baked bread, I got as far as the dough rising before Samson even knew I was baking bread. Usually he is right up on the center island rolling in the flour and insisting on more and more dough to play with. His own play dough doesn't always satisfy him enough - he has to have mommy's dough.

I love having my kids help in the kitchen but making bread is so much easier to do when you don't have a toddler dumping items into the batch and flour all over the kitchen.

These have been good days. Praying we continue to see God's grace in our lives.

Friday, April 2, 2010

My Case for Christ

I have been reading "Hole in the Gospel" by World Vision President Richard Stearns. Stearns holds a bachelor's degree in neurobiology from Cornell University and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining World Vision as their current president, he worked for Gillette, was president of Parker Brothers Games and president and CEO of Lenox.

I would classify him as a highly intellectual person.

Richard Stearns became a Christian in his mid 20s but not until he fully researched his questions and investigated whether there really is a God. As someone who holds a bachelor's degree in neurobiology, he admitted that his years of studying science at Cornell had helped him "build quite the rationalistic fortress against anything supernatural." (p. 80)

As a skeptic, he would need a lot of "intellectual proof before he could put his faith into anything but himself." He dug into books about Christianity and read the entire Bible. During several months of studying the Truth, he finally found the answers to many of his questions that he could not answer with his deep knowledge of the inner workings of the natural world.

This is what he wrote about those unanswered questions:

"I could give you a detailed explanation of photosynthesis, but still could not explain the beauty of a flower. I could tell you about phylogeny, ontogeny, and genetics, but I could not explain the miracle of a simple butterfly. I could read about the solar system, the life cycles of stars, and the big bang, but I could not explain how they had all come to be in the first place. There was a cavernous hole in my worldview that I had conveniently ignored." (p81)

I believe Mr Stearns has built his Case for Christ.

For me, I hold a degree, I have travelled a fair amount through previous employments and through studying abroad, so I would call myself somewhat worldly. But I wouldn't classify myself as an intellectual. I'm someone who likes to shoot from my hip, not think about something too long and just go for it. In other words, I'm not much of a planner or a deep thinker but things still seem to go well for me or at least work out for me.

Coming to know Christ was a decision I made not with the influences of my education and my world travels but because I value my future and I want to know where I'm going after this life on earth. God got my attention without me having to do the in-depth research that Stearns has done. I didn't have to spend years trying to prove that there is not a God. For me, it was about seeking the SOURCE of TRUTH in life. God's Word has played the biggest role in affirming my beliefs and finding TRUTH.

I also know that from life experiences, there is no way there can't be a God. Like with our adoption journey for example, as if adoption isn't a big enough miracle in itself,there have been too many miracles to call coincidences. There are so many experiences that will hold a special place in my heart, many that I am happy to share only for God's glory.

And the best benefit of being a Christ follower is the peace I have knowing where I'm going after I pass on from this life.

Letting down my pride and allowing God to enter into my life was the easiest way to find God. God is just waiting to love on each one of us. But not everyone comes to know God in the same way, so if it's through much research and deep, intelluctual thinking that will lead someone to Christ, like in Stearns case, that works too.

That's my Case for Christ.

                                Happy Easter!!