Monday, February 28, 2011

I now have a 15 year old!

Lauren turned 15!!

Yesterday, February 27th was her date of birth, born in 1996.

Tonight she starts driver's training!

Oh my goodness, how did this happen???!!!

It was just yesterday when she was wearing her princess crown and gold glittered shoes.
At age 4 she begged and begged to play the violin. We finally gave in to her plead at age 6 and she has been very passionate about the violin since then. A couple weeks ago, she was chosen to play the first violin part in our state's mid level orchestra. She was one of 32 violinist out of 800 who auditioned chosen for this special honor.

She has always been a special big sister to her younger siblings. They look up to her and admire her.

She loves family time together.

Lauren and Olivia preparing family devotions:

A heated game of pictionary with the girls against Steve and I:

Lauren giving Samson swimming lessons:

 Lauren also likes to spend time with her friends. In fact, she shares so much in common with her best friend since Kindergarten that the local newspaper did a write up about the two girls:

The coolest thing they have in common is that they share the same birthday.

Not only that but they were born at the same hospital 1/2 hour apart from each other. Big deal right?

Well, what if I told you that they were born in a hospital 2 1/2 hours from where we live now and each of our families moved to our current community 5 years apart from each other.

We moved here first and enrolled Lauren in preschool at a small private school in town. The next year, her best friend's family moved to town and the girls started Kindergarten together at the same small private school.

As the years went by, we discovered that prior to moving, our families lived within 1 mile of each other.

And the coincidences don't stop there...
We drove the exact same van, same model, same color.
We had the exact same camera.
The girls went through 6th grade together at this school and finished #1 and #2 in the class.

and the list goes on...

Today, as freshman's in high school, they still consider each other to be their best friend.

This school year Lauren participated in Tennis and was on the Nordic Ski team:

The girl's ski team earned gold honors for academics this year. Together, they averaged a 3.96 grade point gpa! Isn't that unbelievable???!! Simply amazing!!

We are so proud of you Lauren, all that you have accomplished and the beautiful young woman you have become.

Continue using your gifts to bring glory to Him. Let His light shine through you. Look for opportunities to further His Kingdom. Take the high road in life and strive to be the unique person God has made you to be.

You are dearly loved by your family.

But don't forget that God loves you even more!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A blessing after experiencing loss

When we were waiting for the referral of Samson, we received the referral of another beautiful boy. I briefly wrote about this experience once but today I want to share what has transpired from this experience and  how this sweet boy continues to be part of our lives.

By far the most difficult part of our journey to Samson was discovering that the boy first referred to our family was not our son after all. We received the referral, we celebrated and claimed this beautiful child as our son. Then as the days went by, our instincts were telling us that we needed to let this child go, that he was meant for another family.

Breaking the news to our girls was the hardest. It was one of the most difficult days of my life. We all held each other that day and wept.

Several months before this referral I had a dream and God told me in this dream that our son's birthday would be in February. This particular child's birthday was not in February. But this is not why we let go of the referral. There were other factors and our gut feeling that led to this decision.

Several weeks passed, we were still grieving the loss of our first referral and with mixed emotions we received the referral of Samson.

At first it seemed unfair to the first child to move on and focus on another child. But as soon as we pulled up Samson's picture, we knew without a doubt that he was our son. His birthday? February 11th. But that's not why we accepted the referral of Samson. It was more than the confirmation of his birthday, it was how he looked like our family! He had Olivia's dimples, a round face and of course Steve's brown eyes! How do you put into words how we just knew he was the one?!

And since he has joined our family, I can't tell you how often we have gotten the comment from others about how much he fits into our family.

Soon after we turned down our first referral, we heard from our agency that he had been matched with another family. We were told that his family would be picking him up in July.

We prayed that they would find a family for this beautiful boy soon, so this was very good news. We continued to pray that God landed this precious boy in the perfect family.

As we prepared for our trip to Ethiopia, I had a strange feeling that this boy would still be in the orphanage even though our family travelled in August. So, Steve and I prepared our girls for the possibility of meeting him there.

Well, my feelings became reality when one of the first toddler boys we saw at the orphanage was this boy. We learned that he would be going home with his family very soon. At the time, we knew there had to be a reason why he was still there and a reason why God brought him into our lives in the first place.

When we visited the orphanage to spend time with Samson, we played with this sweet toddler as well. We held him, gave him hugs and lavished love on him. He was so sweet. There were times when Samson was too scared to come anywhere near our family but this sweet boy was always ready to receive love from us. In fact, many times he pulled on Steve's pant legs wanting to be held.

This is why I believe he entered our lives in the first place. God used our family to pray for him and love on him at the orpahange. There was a unexplainable bond between him and our family.

To be honest, there was a time that we wondered if we had made a mistake.

Then by a miracle, through Internet connections, we have been able to connect with his new family and communicate back and forth since he joined them.

We have been blessed with updates and pictures and the ability to watch an amazing transformation come over this beautiful child.

And the coolest thing about this whole story is that he is a perfect fit for his family.

Equally as cool, Samson is the perfect fit for our family.

I share this because I know there are other families who have struggled with a similar decision. Out of obedience we let him go, praying that God had a perfect family chosen for him. As difficult as it was to let go, we prayed hard, we knew we had to go with our gut and we left the rest to the Lord. He makes all things beautiful in time.

We are blessed!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Blogging Friends

I have been so blessed by this special group of friends, most of whom I have never met in person. The more time I spend in the blogging world, the more it becomes a small world to me, making this network of friends extra special. Blogging has provided an unique way to build relationships and share life experiences with other women.

Andrea is one of my blogging friends who has inspired me greatly through her blog over the past few years. I admire her for her strong faith and obedience to God. I also love her zeal to help the 'least of these'. Although, I have never met Andrea in person, I have grown to love her compassionate heart.

Recently, Andrea and I have been able to, through our connections, see God at work in pretty amazing ways! What a blessing it has been to experience so much with someone I hope to meet some day.

Andrea is very sweet! She nominated my blog for the "Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award".

So, the rules for this is that I first have to list five guilty pleasures...

  1. I love licorice!
  2. I love Skittles (YES - I LOVE sugar!!)
  3. I love taking bubble baths while listening to Pandora! - it's my escape from the kids.
  4. I love drinking coffee ALL day!
  5. I love to sit up and read a good book late at night!

Now, it's my turn to nominate other sweet blogs that I follow.

First, I would have nominated my friend Cindy's blog but Andrea already nominated her. Still, I wanted to share that Cindy is one of my on-line friends that I have had the pleasure of meeting. We met about a year ago at the Summit in Minneapolis. Recently, our family and Cindy's have been living very parallel lives. We each are struggling with something very similar and instead of feeling alone in the world with this struggle, we have been able to lean on each other. For this reason, I so love the Internet, that it provides the ability to connect with someone at this level so that we can offer each other support without having to connect in person.

And, here are other blogs you must check out:

Bonnie's:  I have never met Bonnie in person but she has been an enormous support for me through my attachment journey with Samson.

Nikki's:  I first met Nikki through our agency's on-line forum. Soon after, we discovered that she was soon to be neighbors to my parents, so Nikki is one of my on-line friends that I have been fortunate enough to meet in person. Nikki and her family have been waiting months and months for the referral of their second child, this time from Ethiopia. Nikki is a sweetheart!

Kate's: Kate and Jeff were part of our travel group. Incredibly sweet couple! I continue to be inspired by their strength and faith through their adoption story. So blessed to know this sweet family and to have made the journey to Africa with them.

Rachael's: Rachael and I have been friends for several years. Rachael and her husband Ryan came along side us through our adoption journey and now we have the blessing of watching their adoption story unfold. They are parents to 5 sweet children and will soon be parents to 2 more from Ethiopia!

Shelly's: Shelly is another great friend. Shelly and her husband Scott have been part of our small home church for about a year and it has been an amazing blessing to walk this journey of life together. They have just begun the adoption process, their journey to add another one (or two) to their family.

Deb's: Deb is new to the blogging world. Her blog is smothered with sweetness! She is an amazingly, crafty and clever writer! Deb and I have been great friends for 12+ years.

Hope you enjoy all of these treasures!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

On turning 4!

We celebrate Samson's Four years of life Today! And his 1 1/2 years of being part of our family!

I don't think I can say enough about what he has done for my life. Through building our relationship, He has taught me patience, forgiveness, endurance and unconditional love. Because of Samson, I am a better person today. Because of Samson, I have seen God at work and felt His presence in my life more than ever.

Some things I have learned about my little Prince:

  • He is persistent determined.
  • He is Smart!
  • He has a beautiful singing voice.
  • His favorite thing to do is have mommy read to him.
  • His favorite color is red.
  • His favorite movie is CARS.
  • He loves kicking, throwing and hitting balls.
  • He thinks he is stronger and faster than both Steve and I. We let him think so to boost his confidence.
  • He is in gymnastic and Kinder Music with mom.
  • He is 40" tall and weighs 40 pounds.
He is in preschool and is the very youngest by several months. While he is just turning 4, most of the kids in his preschool class are turning 5. The teacher tried dissuading us from sending him but he has more than surprised her with his maturity.

One day he came home with a drawing given to him from a little girl in his class. We teased him and asked if this was his girlfriend.

He said, "No, this is not my girl friend. She is just a girl and we are friends." We were amazed that he even knew the difference!

Still, our girls like to tease him once in a while about this girl or that girl. One day, it must have gotten to be too much for him, however because he began to blush and he asked them to stop because he was feeling kind of "ticklish." That was the best way he could explain his feelings at the moment.

Speaking of being ticklish, we like to tickle him and he loves to be tickled! He also makes us laugh a lot.

When Samson first came home, he would not leave my side. He even stood outside the shower as I showered and always had to have one hand in the shower to make sure I was in there. Now, he still is near by when I shower and many times is waiting for me with a towel.
There are many times he simply makes me smile and proud to be his momma. Like at his preschool program this evening, they were singing a song that said, "I love you" at the end and he pointed right at me.

Or each morning, I hear him skidding down the steps on his bumper at a frightening speed, landing on the floor with a big thud, jumping up, running to me and throwing his arms around me. What makes me smile most about this is that he saves his first hug of the day for me.

The other day, we were driving somewhere in the car and I asked him, rhetorically, "Samson, how is it that I got so lucky to have you as my son?"

Quite matter of fact, he said, "I don't know. You just got lucky I guess."

This conversation led into him saying this: "Mommy, I know whose tummy I came out of."
Me: "Oh yeah? Whose?"
Samson: "I came out of my Ethiopian mommy's tummy."
Me:  "Yeah, you're right!"
Me: "What do you remember most about Ethiopia"
Samson: "I remember being in  my mommy's tummy and oh boy was that fun."
Me: Hmm

Me: "Do you miss Ethiopia?"
Samson: "Yes, I do."
Me: "Does that make you sad?"

Samson thought for a while and then said something really profound and really beyond his years of maturity.
He said, "No I'm not sad because I know that if I was still in Ethiopia I would be happy. But I'm with you now and I'm happy here too."

At the young age of four, he shows so much courage and strength than a four year old should be expected to show. In the midst of all his pain and confusion, he seems to have found happiness.

Happy Birthday Samson!!
May your life continue to overflow with the blessing of Happiness!

Friday, February 4, 2011

FREE T-Shirt

Drawn From Water is giving away 20 FREE T-shirts!

Go HERE for the details!