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.|
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...)