I have inherited Your testimonies forever,
For they are the joy of my heart.
I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes
Forever, even to the end.
Psalm 119: 111, 112

Friday, November 8, 2013

And He Smiled

Simon:  "America. Food yummy!"  big smile

Me:  "Yes, it is!" big smile

Simon:  "Ethiopia. Food yummy!"  big smile

Me:  "Yes, it is!"  big smile

Simon:  "Mom. Eli, Simon, Ethiopia hungry. Dejene money. Food. Little bit Simon, Eli." smile

Me:  "Really, Simon?"  smile

Simon:  "Yes. Ethiopia Mommy (picture pantomime of a dead person here).  Simon sleep. Stand up, change (picture pantomime of a little boy putting clothes on here). Look mommy... (picture pantomime of dead person and a small shake of the little 6 yr old head) No more."

Me:  No words. (picture a small nod of the head and tears forming)

Simon:  "Simon waa waa"  smile

Me:  No words. (head still nods slightly, still tears come)

Simon:  "Dejene - More Mommy!" big smile (picture my 6 yr old pointing at me with an actual look of joy on his little face that has held so much pain and grief...)

Me:  "I love you, Simon." (tears falling)

Dejene is the name of our boys' birth father. Can you make this all out? He went out to get money somehow, to feed his family. He also grieved with his children while he watched his bride fade away from an awful disease that is now so treatable and preventable. My sons slept next to their birth mother when she passed from here into the arms of Jesus, and my 6 yr old remembers all of it. He spilled his guts to tell me what happened to his birth mother and to acknowledge that his birth father wanted him to have a new mommy. And he smiled.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Our New Normal

Remember when we cleared US Embassy and were preparing for our Gotcha Day in Ethiopia? Remember how I said that this adoption journey was far from over and how we were really ready to begin Volume 2 of a many volume set? Yes siree! Volume 2 is well into chapter 1!

Rooftop at the guest home

Our time in Ethiopia was short; four days total. That includes airport time. We were excited to know that we were in country for the Ethiopian New Year and thus had some much needed quiet time (As quiet as it gets with 6 and 4 year old boys running a-muck!) at the Guest Home. We are so in love with the staff at the GH and were happy to sit and talk and spend time with them. We watched special TV programs and found ourselves learning traditional, celebratory Ethiopian songs and traditions of the holiday. Overall, we found ourselves more in love with the country and the people. Rhyan, 15 years old, is convinced she will go back some day. She says she may live there, but who knows. She has had a vision of ministering to deaf children, especially orphans in Ethiopia. I don't doubt that God will equip her if this is her calling.

US Embassy in Addis Ababa

If one were to ask me what my "favorite part" of our trip was (other than taking my boys out of the foster home and into our arms forever), I would answer without a second thought - meeting and spending time with our sons' biological father. We weren't sure it would happen, and we weren't sure it was the best thing to do just before we brought the boys to the other side of the world, but oooohhh am I glad we did. It wasn't easy, mind you. Our hearts raced at the thoughts that crept through our minds. What if he changed his mind? What if it left us all with sorrow and grief? What if the boys didn't want to come with us? What if...? But what if God was blessing us with the gift of more family ties? He is a sweet, gentle, kind soul who taught his boys about Jesus and loves them with a love so deep and true. He explained to them again that he wants them to have a good life away from poverty and disease. He held them and kissed them, and so gently reassured them and us of his gratitude and love. I weep when I think of him - my brother in Christ and the man who gave us his blessing to raise his children as our own. My heart breaks for him and his loss; so much he has had to endure.

Traditional New Year's Bread

Preparing for coffee ceremony

Simon and Rhyan

The Gregersen's with our sweet friend, Eshetu.

So now...

Our boys are home! We brought them to America via Addis Ababa, Rome, Washington D.C., Charlotte, NC, and into sunny and hot Phoenix, Arizona on September 14, 2013. No words can thoroughly tell the depth of emotion, joy, exhaustion, reality, weakness, and strength God has blessed us with in the last five weeks. Suffice it to say, we serve an awesome God who never ceases to amaze me and remind me of his sovereignty and overflowing grace and mercy. Though, I must say, I am still wondering how we could be so blessed as to be chosen for this incredibly difficult and wonderful adventure. Dear friends of mine shared some incredibly strong words and prayer with me this weekend and it was all so confirming of what has been on my heart lately. I am steadfast in the realization and acceptance that our boys were meant to be ours from the beginning of time and that God destined them to be Gregersens... and that He has really amazing, beautiful plans for their lives as they grow closer to Him each day. And that I am simply walking in obedience to my Daddy God. What was illuminated for me these last couple days, though, is something I've been pushing into the background of my daily struggles and stumbles. God has something amazing and beautiful for ME too! Not just in the future, but right now, and if I don't stop long enough in the given moments of each day to gaze at the wonder of my two youngest children being HERE. Home. Well... I am missing it. I don't want to miss anymore of the joy that God has for me right now. He has planted the seed of true love in my heart for two little "strangers" that are suddenly my sons. I love them the way I love the children that were planted in my womb. If that isn't God, I just don't know what is.

Now, let me tell you that I also have a much deeper understanding of the fact that love is a command; an action word. Something we do and choose. It isn't just a fluttery feeling in the tummy and it sometimes isn't even "like". I can tell you honestly that there are times - many right now - when I don't like what God has given me. But when I stop to realize why I don't like it, I am utterly ashamed. It's because I am a selfish, lazy, covetous, sinner. and I am reminded that even in these dreadful weaknesses, God loves me more than I can fathom. Sheesh. How does it get more convicting than that? "I don't want to give up the 8:00 a.m. wake up time in exchange for the 5:30 one! I don't want to give up the walks alone with worship music and sermons piped through ear buds! I don't want to give up date nights and girl talk at the coffee shop!" Whine, whine, whine! Whether I want to or not, it's done.. And the more I take my sin to God, leave it at His feet, and ask Him to forgive my sorry self... the more filled with joy I am to sit in the time that God is giving me with my little guys - and entire family anew. I am learning to take deep breaths and raise my littles as I raised my two olders years ago. It's all flooding back, and though there are differences because of circumstances, there are also many similarities. We are training and raising up our sons the way God has called us to. To know Jesus. To praise and worship Him. To pray always. To lean on Him for peace and wisdom. When Eli listens to the radio in the car, his tiny toddler voice says to me, "Mom, Jesus!" with a squinty grin each time. Simon tears up and reverently says the name of Jesus when he watches worship videos and sees images of the cross and our Savior. Oh my heart. It literally makes me want to fall on my face.

Finally home after three airplanes and over 22 hours in flight.

Do I long for the days when they know English and they sleep past 5:30 a.m.? Yes! Do I pray for the time when I can go to the bathroom without locking the door? Yes! Do I wonder when Simon and Eli will be confident in our love for them and know that we will never leave them or forsake them? Yes! God will get us there; in His timing, just like He planned and set into motion everything that has led to this day and time. As I write this I realize that they haven't used their Ethiopian names in... uhhmmm...a long time! Woohoooo! Progress in the right direction. :-)

The new and improved GFource!

Elijah and Simon GREGERSEN!

Here is a thought I'll leave you with. Our Simon is very strong-willed and tests us to the very end. He is smart as a whip and understands more than he wants to admit. Funny how God changed things up for us! It was our baby, Eli who we thought would be the most challenging! Anyway, almost daily there is an "opportunity" for me to tell Simon to look at my eyes. I have to sometimes take his little chin and direct his focus to me and say, "Look at Mommy when Mommy is talking to you." Uhm. Yeah. How often does our Father God do that to us? Probably all the time 'cause I don't know about you, but I am constantly looking away at all the distractions of life and all the self-thought-up answers and directions I think I'm supposed to follow. God is taking me by the chin and saying, "Look at me! I AM talking to you! I have the answers! I will lead you! I AM here!" 

Thank You, Lord, for being there for all of us and reminding us that You will never leave or forsake us. Thank You for the gift of two new Gregersens and all we will learn and experience in our New Normal. Amen

(As I was waiting for photos to load, both boys got out of bed, asked for water, and proceeded to read books in the top bunk. It's 10:00! If I could be guaranteed they'd sleep in, ok. But truth is, sleeping in for them is 6:00 a.m. Darn...)

Monday, September 2, 2013

We Cleared! Now We Raise...

We cleared!!! What does that mean? It means the US Embassy has given our sons "permission" to leave Ethiopia and immigrate to America. Our exit interview will take place next week and we'll bring our babies home. Finally!!! The wait has been hard at times, but through the anxious moments and the pleas for God to move on their behalf, He has given us peace and strength to rest in Him. What happens now? We pray for peace and strength to continue to rest in God, because check out what happens now...

Paul and I transition not only FROM somewhat frequent date-nights, sleeping in on weekends, and mommy coffee dates, but also 


parenting two introverted home-bodies who are quite independent and somewhat “spoiled”, in the double-digit ages of their young yet not "baby" lives, have been attached and nurtured from Day 1, with no scars of physical or emotional abuse, neglect, disease, parental loss, malnutrition, group living in an institution...


parenting two little ones who have experienced all of the story of orphan life. They've been in the pit of despair and destruction and we are barely at the top of that pit holding onto their little hands and looking in their little faces as we speak life over them and let them know they are done living in the filth, dank, darkness of that pit. We have to hold on for dear life and pull them out because what they know in their short life times has been yucky. They have truly known extreme poverty, disease, loss of all they love - parents, home, family, warmth, food. They've been institutionalized, even at the same ages that our oldest were learning how to swim, watching Sesame Street and Veggie Tales in their jammies with their favorite blankies, and snacking on cookies and milk with Mom and Dad. Have they ever really attached to anyone? What did love look like for them? Who has nurtured and cared for them? UGH

What will this look like?

I am not the perfect parent! I’m not really even very good at this. It’s all about God’s will and learning to do things His way and in His strength. Learning that I should never get the glory for what He has done and will do in our family and for our boys. It's not really Paul and I holding onto their sweet hands and pulling for dear life to rescue our sons from that pit. It's really God holding onto OUR hands and reminding us that He already did the rescuing. This is what it HAS to look like.

We all have much to prepare for. For anyone who has thought or said to me or Paul, "You are amazing." "What a beautiful thing you are doing." "Those boys are so lucky." Or any other statements that allude to exactly where you know I'm going here...

Please don’t think that I have it all together! That I’m full of grace and love and I am “super-mom”. You know, that thought that passes through some peoples’ minds when they know an adoptive mom and they say to themselves, “I wish I could be a parent like her and do all that she does!” No way. Don’t let that be the way you think of me! Remember, this adoption stuff was all God’s idea. I’m seriously weak and imperfect and need God ALL THE TIME. There is no way I went ahead of Him in this - thinking I was such a great parent and because of that I should have more kids. You don’t see me at home when I yell at my kids because their lessons aren’t complete when I think they should be, or when I can’t seem to take five minutes away from my email or phone to give my eyes, ears, and heart to one of my children who need or just WANT my attention. It hurts my heart just knowing how imperfect I am. But, then again, if I thought I was “all that”, then how would I ever come to the full understanding that I NEED my God. I need to lean on Him for everything. Life is not easy. If it were, we would forget to turn to Him, even for the simple ability to breathe in deep.

Adoptive mommies are learning how to parent wounded and broken children. That is a whole different ballgame, folks. I think about all the hurts my two youngest have experienced: poverty, mal-nourishment, disease, loss of loved ones, lack of education and fun, abandonment… Friends -  this all means parenting by an entirely new set of rules. It means dealing with all sorts of possibilities – rejection, anger, violence, disobedience and rebellion, lies, stealing, illness. And the list goes on. I will be; I MUST be a different mommy to these boys than I have been to our two oldest. It’s a very daunting calling when I haven’t even mastered how to be a “good” parent to them.

How can you as our friends be involved and helpful? 

1. Remember we are imperfect! We are no different from you. We just had a different calling - or maybe the same, if you have adopted. My guess is that here is when we stop 'looking amazing' (if we ever did). When our family of six is together at home, this journey will not be over! On the contrary, the second volume of a many volume set will have just begun! All children make all parents realize the need for a God who loves and disciplines us unconditionally. 

2. You can pray for us. Pray for a smooth transition with as little anger and sadness as possible. Pray for strength and rest for all of us. Pray for soft hearts for Rhyan and Tyler as they learn to share every part of our emotions and energy. Pray for health and safety. Pray that the language barrier is overcome quickly. Pray that we don't lose friends and family who may not seem to accept or understand our schedule changes and needs, and focus on our two youngest, and to "equally" accept the boys as real family divinely created to be raised as Gregersens. Pray for peace and patience for each other.

3. Please be patient with us. Our family will look different and be different. It will take time to re-enter life as we've known it. Actually, life as we've known it will not be the same at all. We're taking a complete 180 degree turn! If you can be patient with us, at least friends and family as we've known it may still be there to share life with us!

4. Learn what it means to be the friend or family member of adoptive parents. And also what it's like for us as adoptive parents. There are so many books, helpful blogs, websites, etc. that are great resources. We haven't done this on our own! You have all been part of this journey in so many ways. As the body of Christ, you have partnered with us in God's plan of adoption! Below are just a few resources that might be helpful.

dear friends of waiting adoptive moms: some things to know (also, we’re sorry)

Love - the same but different

When I Look at My Daughter, I May Always Think About Adoption - See more at: http://www.adoptivefamiliescircle.com/blogs/post/thinking-about-adoption-and-my-daughters-birth-mother/#sthash.l41hICUJ.dpuf


Parenting the Hurt Child, Revised and Updated  -     
        By: Gregory C. Keck Ph.D., Regina M. Kupecky LSW

On a special note, we are still a bit short on funding for our final trip and remaining agency fees. Please see our "Your Bids Help Our Kids"
page and share, ShArE, SHARE!
Happy bidding!

~ Patty

Friday, August 9, 2013

A New Knowledge of Kinship

Never in my wildest imagination did I ever "think" this is what my life would look like today. We all say that, right; but, really. Who ever lives day-to-day in your homeland, the country of origin that God has chosen for you, in the time He has chosen for you - and realizes years before it happens that your own life will be so intertwined and connected with another family on the other side of the world? I mean, I guess one can have those college-kid aspirations of going abroad; working on a fishing vessel off the coast of Scandinavia, or being a tutor for a family in France. Maybe even "growing up" and knowing there is a mission waiting for you in an impoverished and God-hungry third world country. I don't mean to nullify or devalue these dreams and real callings and visions in any way. However, this adoption thing. Well, it just gets bigger and wilder every day, and I'm certainly not one of the few (because there are some) who grew up just knowing I would adopt one day. I had no idea this was coming!

We received the long-awaited email this past Monday. The one that I would wake up at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning for. Pretty much every day...night? Whatever. Picking up my phone and scrolling through my mailbox just praying that the email from across the Atlantic, and another continent - and 10 hours ago would be there. This mama wanted to see those words so badly! "Your adoption case has been submitted to the US Embassy in Ethiopia". Sweet, sweet words. What joy it was to see that! But, the ride isn't over yet. Only our oldest, Simon's, name was on the case title. As it turns out, our baby, Elijah, is still not submitted. The Embassy is still waiting on "medical" results before he can be submitted. What kind of results? I don't know. When will they be ready to submit his papers? I don't know. Will they process both of our sons at the same time, or wait until Eli's papers are complete and process them together? I don't know. When do we get scheduled for our visa interview? I don't know. When do we get to pick up our sons and bring them home? I DON'T KNOW! I don't know! Do you have any idea how that feels? I have children on the other side of the world and I can't put a band aid on their ow-ees. I can't cut a pb&j sandwich in quarters for them and make sure they have milk to go with their lunch. I can't watch them play catch with their daddy from the kitchen window. I can't wipe their tears, read them a story, kiss them goodnight... I can't even stop the attachment and love from growing each day so that the hurt of not having them here can go away, or at least ease off. There is no such thing. They are simply my kids and I'm supposed to be with them. Yet, as I continue to learn to release the heartache to God and trust in His perfect timing, He continues to help me see His plans and reasons for this amazing journey and family He has for us.

Here is what God brought me to today. Intense love and sorrow for a family in Ethiopia who I now understand are part of my family. My boys have been in an orphanage since December of 2011. Probably on or just days after Simon's birthday. Why? Because they, along with their father and sister, had to watch their mother be sick and die from a virus that she wasn't able to be treated for. They buried her in a protestant cemetery, and then my sons' father, knowing he was ill with the same virus, decided the best thing for his sons was to leave them in an orphanage; not even two months after his wife died; probably in his arms. The grief that brings me to is more than I can explain. Do I "know" these people? As of today, I feel that I do. God has brought them into my life. Into our family's life, and He truly has given me such a love for them, that not only do I grieve for my sons, who in their less than a dozen years of life put together have experienced more hurt and loss than most people would experience in their whole lives. But, I love their biological father. I love their biological mother and pray I see her in the sweet by and by. I love their extended family, all of whom have admitted to not having the means or ability to raise my little boys in a healthy and nurturing life. My heart hurts for each of them. Huge hurt.

I am seriously yearning for the opportunity to meet my sons' bio dad when we go back to Ethiopia to bring the boys home. Our desire is to meet as many of their kin as possible. We want to love on them, pray for them, share a meal with them, assure them that they made the best decision and that we love the boys and will take care of them always. That we are all kin now. That our hearts are overflowing with joy and awe at how God has written this story.

We still wait and rest in the Lord. Today was a day of new mercies, new beginnings, and another set of blinders completely removed and replaced with the heart of God. How much does He love us? What does that look like? It looks like this - my sons' first father walked into that orphanage and surrendered them there because he knew his days were numbered and he couldn't provide for them anymore. Even more, real love is this: my Savior, Jesus, stumbling down the Via de la Rosa on His way to the cross where He willingly opened His arms and surrendered His life for us, so that His Father in Heaven would be pleased and so His name would be exalted. See, here it is... "you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Patty's Adoption Travel Journal - Trip One

Monday, June 10, 2013

I don't even know where to begin this evening. My hand is trembling as I write. Jet lag stinks. Anxiety stinks. Sleep deprivation stinks. There are so many thoughts, emotions, words, ideas, prayers running through my mind and heart. Most importantly, through all the stink and rising above it, God has amazingly confirmed this journey for us... again. Praise Him on high!

Yesterday was a glorious day and a dark, lonely day all at the same time. It was glorious and joyful because we met our two youngest sons and realized the incredible gifts they are to us. It was a tough day because we experienced the lies, deceit, discouragement and ugliness of the enemy like never before.

The anticipation of waiting for our first meeting with the boys took so much physical and mental energy. Add that to being exhausted from flying and being sleep deprived and you end up with two very volatile and impressionable souls. Yes, I mean me and Paul! We were already tapped when we snuggled our little guys for the first time. AND THEN... All youthful mischief, energy, curiosity, excitement, and spunk poured out of our baby boy! He is truly a wild child! I say this with overflowing love and amazement at the spirit our youngest displays! Understand, however, that the reality we faced included a deeper knowledge of how our lives and family are changing... forever.

Visiting hours at the foster home are from 10 to 12 and again from 3 to 5. Sunday morning, following approximately 20 hours in flight and 4 or so hours of sleep in an unfamiliar country, I spent two hours literally chasing my four year old around as he climbed on every piece of furniture in sight, nearly pulled two sets of shelving down on top of himself and others, threw toys and other items around the small room, and brought the excited, confused, hysterically funny little boy to life - in rare form - right in front of Mommy's and Daddy's eyes! Wow. Did we say we were prepared for all of this?

God has already given us some vision about our two newest sons. Our agency is wonderful and they send us updates weekly with pictures of our children. As we gazed at our two pumpkins each week, we felt we were getting a picture of their personalities; "who" they are, and that God was truly preparing us for our boys. In our oldest of the two we saw a gentle, nurturing, compassionate little one who reminded us a lot of his big brother, Tyler. In our four-year-old, we saw mischief in those big, brown, beautiful eyes! We said out loud, "This little guy is going to give us a run for our money!" God was getting our hearts and our home ready for our boys!

So, why was the day laced with doom and gloom? Because the enemy was busy at work planting lies and accusations in our hearts and minds. Yuck. He is the prince of lies and he kept saying things to us like, "You're too old to start this all over again. You can't handle it. You'll never be able to communicate with these boys OR discipline them. Why should you give up your peaceful times alone? Your time with your two oldest children? Your date nights? Your ministry needs? Your coffee dates with friends? Your... (fill in the blank)!" Ugh.

A dark, thick cloud of concern and doubt crept over me. Until I realized just what in this world was going on. As I prayed and sought the Lord desperately, I began to ask Him if I had misunderstood this calling. I began to ask Him I had been disobedient, and if so, that He would shed light and let us know which way to turn. Should we go to the right or to the left? I reached out to close friends and family and asked for prayer; feeling that we needed our brothers and sisters to intercede and surround us with love. In the middle of the night, Paul and I woke up at the same time to the realization of what was going on. Satan was trying to snag our boys from us, and from Jesus! What a wicked creature. But God is bigger and better, and sovereign. He again spoke to us about His plans for our family. And it is always His plans that reign supreme.

A peace that truthfully surpasses any understanding washed over us. We received a profound email from our daughter and felt completely "schooled" in faith. We prayed and agreed that we loved our sons. They were coming home with us and no matter what challenges we face, we won't be alone. The answer was simple. Don't turn to the right OR the left! Stay on the straight and narrow path I have laid for you, and I will be with you. Aaahhhh... the peace of God and His promises.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - COURT DAY!

This is it. We've been reminded several times that this adoption is "irrevocable". No returns. No exchanges. Done deal! Well, let's get to it, already! :-)

What an amazing day. We saw our boys in the morning during visiting hours. We came back to the guest home for lunch, but for one reason or another, it's been difficult to eat a complete meal (all of which are amazingly delicious, generous, and prepared with much love!). Today, the reason was, we just wanted to get in front of that judge and say "YES!".

Eshetu, our precious driver and new friend, took the Bonds and us to the courthouse right after lunch, as our appointment was at 1:30. Ranell and I were pretty giddy heading over. There is something about "going to court" that encourages butterflies in the tummy. The room itself was pretty sterile and it filled quickly with many couples waiting for their "yes" moment in front of the judge. Our nervousness was loudly apparent as we made quirky comments and asked questions that we really should've known the answers to, such as, what orphanage our children came from. Eshetu laughed til the tears flowed when Paul said, "Should we know?" It's a good thing the question came up because that is how we are called in to see the judge; by our children's orphanage names! Aiyaiyai!

As promised, we were one of the first couples (the third) to enter the small room where the beautiful, young judge sat behind her desk, heaped with files and papers. Her voice was calm and peaceful and her smile genuine and kind. When she asked us if we enjoyed our time with the boys we answered with an imperative yes and she looked down on the papers on her desk; our file a mile thick spread out before her. Then she said, with a beaming smile on her face how delightful and fun they look in their pictures! I thought to myself, why, Yes. They already radiate the joy of the Lord!

Then it was done. It was finished. It was accomplished. The boys were legally declared ours! Hallelujah! God has done great things for us! How profound it was as we went straight to the foster home to tell our two youngest children they were officially Gregersens! I ponder now the words of Mary, the mother of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ...

"My soul magnifies Adonai,
and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior,
Indeed His name is holy, and in
every generation
He has mercy on those who fear Him."
Luke 1:46,47,50

Loving that we shared this precious time with two special families; now special friends - Jeff and Liza Ford & David and Ranell Bond. Love you guys forever!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Worth it All

The sun making it's glorious appearance as we headed to Phoenix Sky Harbor this morning.

Friday, June 7, 2013

We're on a plane! I've said this before and I'll say it again. The simple fact that I'm "OK" getting on a plane is a miracle itself! If this were about me and my desires, I would have to find a way to do adoption without flying across the world. But this adoption isn't about me or Paul or anyone other than God. It's ALL about Him and His heart and His purpose. And geez has He stirred up my heart in the process!

A precious friend of mine texted this to me as we waited at check in for our first flight...

From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear.
No eye has seen a God besides You
who acts for those who wait for Him.
You meet him who joyfully works righteousness,
those who remember You
in Your ways.
                               Isaiah 64:4,5

Saturday, June 8, 2013

We just boarded the last of three flights and now feeling anxious - in a good way - to arrive in Addis and be closer to seeing our boys. This is all very surreal... and very God. I've had every opportunity to remember my faith and God's faithfulness to His children. Get this. Since boarding in Phoenix we've experienced...
1. Three planes; not one or even two, but THREE with what I would call "cause for concern". The first two planes had internal power source failure and the third had push drive mechanical failure. Three for three! Really?!?! All this when I haven't flown in 18 years and have been praying desperately for God to give me peace and comfort. He truly did. I guess He figured I may as well test it out!
2. A significant delay leaving Phoenix with our shortest connection time ahead of us in Atlanta.
3. MUCH turbulence (we flew over Oklahoma City, just to give you an idea) on the flight from PHX to ATL.
4. What felt like 3 miles of walking in circles at the Frankfurt airport.
5. The wrong gate assignment on our boarding passes in Frankfurt.
6. Not to mention NO Wifi at the FRA airport!

Nothing like up close and personal!

Flying over Frankfurt


Soon we'll be in the beautiful country of Ethiopia - after another 6 hours in the air.  God is good! Even through all this, we feel His peace and guidance.

Still Saturday...

I found myself in tears as Desfayu drove us from the Addis Ababa airport to the guest home we're staying in. I'm in awe... completely. God brought us safely to the other side of the world and in less than 12 hours we will be with our two youngest children! Incredible!

I'm feeling so many different things; desperately missing my kiddos at home, beyond thrilled to meet our two youngest, out of place in a country so far and different from our own, filled with awe about God and His plans...

So, I'm officially and thoroughly overwhelmed. It's 11:23 p.m. here in Addis. I'm exhausted but don't want to go to sleep in case we "miss" something. Nope! Don't wanna miss a thing!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Faith of a Child...

Rhyan's sweet friend, Gabrielle wrote this poem.
She is 13, and as you can see, is a very gifted writer.
What a blessing to know our children are surrounded by godly, precious friends.
I'm in awe of how many hearts God is preparing to receive our boys.
These words brought me to tears...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Better is one day in His courts...

This was the first picture we saw of the boys.
Can't wait 'til we can show you their beautiful eyes and smiles!
We were informed that "Family Court" for our boys has been scheduled for May 22nd. This is when any living relatives would appear before a judge to verify the relinquishment/abandonment of the boys. Now, this is all still a learning experience for us, but as far as I know, this date would not be scheduled if we were facing serious roadblocks. Of course, all legal technicalities must be carried out.
Things are VERY different in Africa, and record keeping there is not at all what it is here. It's not atypical to see a handwritten note taped to a concrete wall announcing court dates, postponements, etc. Email? Stamped and authenticated? Sure... You can ask a village mom when her baby was born and you'd be lucky with a thoughtful answer of, "When the rains came." Huh? Then remember that we aren't even following the same calendar. Sheesh. If we know anything about our boys' history and biological family, it'll be amazing. What we do know and believe is that they are our children through God's work and will. We're super-excited to be part of their story now!
Our coordinator told me that typically the adoptive parents are scheduled for court around a month after family court. That means we are preparing to travel sometime around late June. :) We will appear in court and legally adopt our boys! Then, we'll have to come home without them :( and wait for their passports and visas to be complete so we can clear Embassy. Then we'll get to bring them home! Alleluia!
Please pray that family court goes smoothly and that our court date is scheduled as expected. Also, pray that God will continue to provide the funds, favor, patience, and encouragement He has heaped upon us already! I'm reminded, Better is one day in His courts than thousands elsewhere. Psalm 84:10
It's all so surreal. To be excited for a transatlantic flight - actually four of those doozies... That is God and only God! All for His glory. Can't wait to see my babies!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Here is where the world of adoption has taken us. I have a friend in Homeland Security!
We are STILL waiting for a court date in ET. Sigh... How long, Lord? Yes, I know. As long as You say. Your plans are perfect.
So, now we find ourselves more than two years into the process of adoption and we have important papers ready to expire. We need an updated home study. Oh, yeah. Again. $400. We need an updated I171H. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services  (USCIS) must have on file a "provisional approval" to file an I600A. The I171H is the provisional approval which gets filed so the I600A - orphan petition - can be approved and filed. I just thought you might want a glimpse into what all this paperwork is. Thank you Ms. "J" at the National Benefits Center of Homeland Security! You saved the day when you told me I can scan our papers straight to you! We have to be fingerprinted and processed by May 28 and I realized that the end of May is just a month away.
Time seems to crawl when you are separated from your children.
We are asking for continued prayers:
That our boys are nourished, nurtured, and protected while they wait. They have seen pictures of us and know that we are waiting to bring them home.
That we remain patient and continue to trust in God who has this all worked out already - in His perfect timing.
That we aren't discouraged or beat down by questions, doubts, negativity, costs, etc.
That God's favor is on our paperwork and requests for updates and appointments.
At the end of the day, not a moment has gone by that I'm not extremely humbled, grateful, and giddy-excited about how God is growing our family and what He is teaching us about orphans and adoption. This is an adventure, and sometimes difficult and chaotic journey. I can honestly say it's the best "thing" God has done in and for us! Not just the adoption of our boys. I'm talking about His adoption of US! Yes. Adoption ROCKS.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter... New Life, New Sons!

Aaaahhhh... The colors of Spring. The colors of Easter! I LOVE Easter. I love the vibrant colors and the refreshing outdoor breeze of the season, and the time with family and friends in celebration. Most of all, I love what we celebrate. We remember Christ on the cross and Christ absent from the tomb and alive once again! His body made new and perfect as He takes His rightful place at the right hand of the Father. Alleluia! I love that all the pain, sorrow, agony, and darkness of the torture, spilled blood, and excruciating death Jesus experienced for us is not what we're left with as we break bread together on Easter Sunday; but fervently we remember with joy His resurrection and the new life He gave us. It's this gift of new life I like to set my mind and heart on, especially when I want to break down in sobs when I think of Yeshuah's sacrifice. The price has been paid! We are debt free and will make it home to our Father with a new body and a new, eternal life!

One of the more beautiful displays of color during the holiday is beheld in the rainbows of eggs dyed and decorated by young and "mature" alike. :) I know some Christians choose not to do the whole egg-dye thing, but we do, and we still like to display them, too. Historically, eggs have been seen as a symbol of winter passing and spring and life reemerging from what seemed to be death. In Jewish tradition, hardboiled eggs are eaten when mourning the death of a loved one. They are served during Passover as the Jewish people mourn the destruction of their Temple where Passover lambs were sacrificed. In our home and on our plates, a hard boiled egg serves as a reminder of the Lamb of God, sacrificed for our sins, defeating death forever and bringing new life.

It can't be mere coincidence that we received an email last night (the day after Easter Sunday) that we will be submitted to court in Ethiopia next week! We are closer to bringing two new lives into our home! So, we should know within the next three weeks when we'll be traveling to appear in court and meet our boys. Sigh... We are continuing to celebrate the truth and joy of Easter. Christ died and rose again for each of us and God wants all to know this. He has chosen our boys, and our family, for a new life. This is what He does for those who walk in faith and know truly who He is.

Do these little hands have any idea that God has been holding them since He was forming them in their mother's womb? Now I get to be Mom to them, and hold their hands, and bandage their scraped knees, sing to them at bedtime, wipe their tears, teach them English, and help them dye eggs next Easter. We get to tell them about the sacrifice Jesus made for them and how much He loves them!

Saturday, March 30, 2013


What's next? That's the thought; sometimes the words we speak as we move about our daily routine and monotony. Why do we ask what tomorrow brings? Why do we try to predict where we'll be in the next week, or month, or year? Human nature, I suppose. Yucky - human nature. We need the nature of Christ, not that of the flesh. Me thinks...the only "next" we should be pondering is eternity. Yes?

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
                                                                                        2 Peter: 8-9

We want tomorrow to come so quickly that we forget about the good things that God has for us today! We can make so much more out of each moment of each day if we just stop to think about the eternal impact each moment can make. That was a mouthful. Think about it, though. If I am still and intentionally stand in the presence of God each day I will receive the best of what He has for me, and the best is Him. His heart. His desires. His will. In the end, and the end will come, that which truly matters is what Jesus did for us. Do we overlook the love displayed on the cross and the blood spilled for our sins? Or do we kneel at the cross and gaze at our Savior; spending time with Him so we can know who He is... and what He has for us?

In those daily moments I imagine the thought of tomorrow, or next week, or next year can become fleeting, and the anticipation and joy of eternity with this King I've been spending time with... it makes me see time as a precious gift to use within the will of God - to get to know Him better, and to serve Him and our loved ones with the gospel. Each and every day becomes like one thousand years of loving, serving, learning, praying, worshiping, teaching. Being with and being like Jesus for just today is the same as one thousand years in the eyes of God. And what is one thousand years to Him? In terms of "earthly time" it's a blink of His eye. Here today. Gone tomorrow. That's why we can't take for granted what is here today, because it will be gone tomorrow. Yet, one thousand years in the sand of God's hourglass was purchased for each of us by His Son on the cross.

Before He was arrested, Jesus told His disciples that He would have to leave them and that where He was going they couldn't follow; not yet. Then He willingly suffered the most heinous, excruciating torture and as He yielded His spirit to His Father He said, "It is finished." Done. Finito. The end. We don't have to worry about what comes next. NEXT includes whatever God has for us. It might be a successful, prosperous life with few challenges, but maybe not. Maybe what comes next is illness, poverty, hunger, death. If we are in Christ and He is in us, each day is still a gift. We can show one thousand years worth of love to those around us, and tell at least one more person about Jesus each day.

I thought I might have at least hugged and kissed my African sons by this Easter, but we haven't made it there yet. Some days it feels like we'll be waiting one thousand years before we get a court date! :-) That is our "next" and it will happen, and I'm pretty sure it won't take one thousand years. In the meantime, I'm living for Christ each day trying to love and serve my family, appreciating and praying for each friend, hoping for someone to share the gospel with, and finding myself on my face in repentance knowing I was the reason - the culprit - that nailed Jesus to a cross. This Easter I thank God again for His redemption and for the gift of eternity in heaven; my ultimate NEXT. I'm amazed at how patient and longsuffering He is with me!

For a day in your courts is better
    than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
    from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
    blessed is the one who trusts in you!

                                             Psalm 84:10-12

Sunday, February 24, 2013

What are YOU waiting for?

I know what I'm waiting for! I want my boys home! Sheesh. Rhyan says she "misses" her brothers in Ethiopia, like she's known them all her life. Well, maybe she has. Sometimes I feel like I have. Even so, I can't wait to study their little faces, hear their voices for the first time, find out which hand they like to hold their fork in, take pictures of them playing baseball with Ty and sitting on the couch while their sister reads to them. Sniff, sniff... I am waiting...

Isn't this exactly what God asks us to do? I mean, since the dawn of time as we know it, He has told His children to wait. Wait Noah! I will send the rain. Wait Abraham! I will make you a father of nations. Wait Moses! I will deliver my people through you. Wait David! You will be King of the Israelites. Wait Elizabeth! You will have a son and he will baptize My Son, in My name. Oh yes, and - Wait Son! Your time to serve and teach my people will come, and then you will die for them. Whoa.

You will die... Have you ever thought about that wait? Hhhhmmm... What did that feel like? Ouch. Here's the thing. I find myself almost being ashamed of any kind of "complaining" or "anxiety" over this wait for a court date and our Gotcha Day. (That refers to the day we "get" our boys forever. :-)) It's going to happen. God has made promises all throughout history and I trust that when we line up with His will and plans, He continues to deliver. The wait that I sit in now is a joyful, expectant wait. I get giddy knowing that we are adding LIFE to our family. Just like a pregnant woman knows that child in her womb before she sees what color each strand of hair on his head is, I know my boys and eagerly await the precious gift of tangibly loving them as sons.

You will die... Really. My week started out rough as I learned that it might be another month before we receive a court date in Ethiopia. Boo. But my lament was put to shame when a childhood friend passed on Wednesday morning; a victim of an evil disease. Let me add that he was younger than me, father of two boys, husband of a best friend from junior high, and just a really great guy. Ugh. Pain. My heart breaks for all his loved ones. My heart breaks thinking of their wait. They didn't wait for life to start anew. They didn't wait knowing that joy would invade their home in a few short months. When the diagnosis came, they waited in anticipation of loss. They prayed and hoped for a cure, but ALS is unforgiving and we live in a world broken and damaged by sin. The truth hurts and the disease took Gary way before what we think his time should've been. How can I come to grips with that? How can I make sense out of the wait that was necessary on the part of all of Gary's loved ones? I can only rest on the knowledge that waiting is what God calls all of us to do, because He has something good waiting for all of us who love Him and are called to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) He knows the plans He has for us, even when all we see is the pain and the loss. How can He ask this of us? Because He experienced it Himself FOR us, through His Son.

You will die... What did that wait feel like to Jesus? Well, we know a couple things. We know that Jesus chose to spend his last hours on this earth with his loved ones. He broke bread with them, drank wine with them, and celebrated the time they had left together. Matthew the disciple also tells us that they sung a hymn before they went out to the Mount of Olives. (26:30) They sung to God - led by Jesus is my guess, as He waited to be executed! While Jesus waited for His impending death He felt and experienced all that any other human would feel being diagnosed with mortal finality. Yet, He praised His Father and worshiped Him in song. He seized life and He loved without fail. He didn't try to change the inevitable. He didn't question His Father. He simply waited.

We know Jesus was scared and filled with sorrow. The gospels tell us that He voiced His sorrow to His disciples. He said, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful..." (Matthew 26:38) Then He went a little farther and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." Matthew 26:39 Jesus waited in agony for His flesh to be destroyed. He cried out to God in His sorrow, yet He submitted in obedience. He prayed not simply for His life to be spared. He prayed for God's will to be done. And I believe He asked His Father to give Him strength and perseverance to endure what needed to happen knowing that the end result was so worth it all! This is LOVE fellow Christians. This is knowing how to wait on God.

Be still and wait. How are we still when waiting on God? We take each day for what it is and what it brings us. We cherish the moments with loved ones and celebrate life with them. We live in mercy, practicing forgiveness and grace; knowing that which flows from us also returns to us. We pray and spend time with God sharing our thoughts, feelings, desires, fears. Laying it all down and listening for His still small voice - or earth-shaking revelations. I learned even further what it means to be still and wait this week. I learned that we are all waiting for God to move in our lives and we need to see the goodness of what is on the other side of the wait. For some it's bittersweet. The goodness may be the promise of eternal rest from pain and suffering, and the bliss of heaven with Jesus. There is sorrow in that waiting as our human hearts break at the expectation of loss. We grieve at the close of these waiting periods, BUT I pray that the grief passes into a promise fulfilled of something beautiful. A gift from God who rewards our waiting when done in faith.

For others, the wait is one that has us on pins and needles knowing that a new chapter of life that isn't entirely about loss is upon us. The waiting time must be a season of rest but also of preparation. I've come to understand there actually is a loss to prepare for in our family. It's a loss of what we know; how we do things. The old will be gone and the new will be here, and we'll have to learn how to do life and family differently. Is it amazing and joyful and miraculous? YES! Will it be easy? My guess is, no. There will be difficult days and new challenges. Yet, the reward and goodness of what comes after the passing - the death of our old family and the birth of our new family - is priceless.

Jesus waited for his death on the cross to come to fruition. There was pain and suffering. His family waited and mourned. Can you imagine what His mother felt, knowing her son would be put to death an innocent man? Huge ouch. I know a mom who experienced that same emotion and pain. God bless and strengthen you, Kathy Demarino. What we all need to see is what the purpose of our waiting really is. In the end, it's really about God's love and grace for His children. His plan for His Son to be crucified was all about His rescue mission for us! When we are waiting on God, whether we are waiting on something joyful or something tragic, let's be still, listen for God, and know He has something so good on the other side He's just waiting to do for us.

Worshiping in the waiting,

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Our Dossier is Sent!

Here I am, post-flu, or whatever ick was invading our home and my immune system. It feels good to walk without a pounding headache. I even had a couple nights cough-free. I tell ya, this is some serious nastiness; this junk that's going around this year. I hadn't been sick in about 6 years. Truly. I think maybe I got a bit too sure that I wasn't ever going to be sick again. Yeah... not so much.

So, the cloud of fever and congestion has passed, and Paul and I were able to notarize all the letters, forms, certificates, and picture pages for our new dossier. I drove downtown to the Secretary of State yesterday to have everything certified. Both times I've been there, God has placed His hand of favor over me and our adoption. I walked right in and straight to the "next available" woman behind the counter. (I have to mention that when I finished, there was a line out the door.) This very nice lady took all my papers and checked each one carefully. I saw her place each page in a pile as she reviewed, and then one page was placed ON THE OTHER SIDE. Huh? I just waited to see what that meant and hoped with all my strength that it didn't mean what I thought it meant. Sure enough, she said she could certify all but that one page! The notary wasn't completed in the correct format, she pointed out. I couldn't argue with her, because she was right. All I could do was kick myself for not checking more carefully! I knew exactly what she was talking about, and if I had been more careful I would've caught the mistake. I had to accept the fact that my mistake was going to cause me another trip to the bank and back to SOS - about 40 miles from home. Ugh. Not only that, but it would delay having it sent to our agency before the week was over.

As I waited for the nice lady to print, staple and stamp each document, I attempted to arrange a meeting the following day to "fix" the incorrectly notarized letter. I didn't ask for any special favors, or even try to justify special circumstances, but before I wrote the check for the fees, the nice lady said, "I'll go ahead and certify that other one for you, but make sure you take it back and have the notary sign it on the stamp I place by her first signature." You know when your name is called for an award, or you hear a winning number being read out loud and you realize it matches the one on the ticket you have in your hand? You know how that feels? Aha. That was me! I said, "What? Really?" She smiled and said, "Sure." I thought I was going to pop a blood vessel! I was so excited and SO grateful to God for His favor. He never ceases to amaze me. You are so good to me, Lord!
Here it is... our dossier. All 27 documents, notarized and state certified.

I took the whole thing to Staples today. I needed two copies of the entire packet, and a guy at Staples made copies of our first dossier for us, no problem. He hand placed each one on the machine and did it all while I waited. Well, today was an enirely different story. I asked the girl there if she could make these copies for me, right? She said she had a pile of orders to deal with and it would be at least 4 or 5 hours before she could get it done. I told her I had to overnight everything out today and I hoped she could maybe get it done a bit faster than that. She said, "Well, I have these other orders before yours, and it will take me a while to take all the staples out and..." Uhm. Yeah. NO! I didn't hear another word she said. Are you kidding me?!? I told her you can't take the staples out. The papers are certified and that would simply nullify everything! Poor girl. How was she to know what I was talking about? She looked at me like I was some kind of paper nazi. Yeah, well, don't touch those staples, Girlie! That was all I could think of. Bless her relieved heart. I walked right out of there, mumbling protective words over my beloved dossier.

Needless to say, I spent... a while making copies today. I even had to run out to purchase another ink cartridge. It was worth the sore knees, careful sorting, page-by-page copying, and 126 or so pieces of paper, to have it all done properly. Our dossier is on it's way to our agency who will shoot it to Washington D.C. and then it will go to Ethiopia. God willing, we'll have a court date within the next two weeks or so. Can't be soon enough in my opinion!

We receive updates with pictures of our boys pretty much weekly. I can't wait to wrap my arms around each of them, and tell them that their mommy is here, and tell them how much I love them. Paul and I have no doubt that these are our sons. It's so amazing and great how God really does put that love in your heart for the ones He places in your life!