Tuesday, April 29, 2008

143 million orphans

Here is a post from another adoptive family blog that I frequent and I think this has been circulating for a while now, but I thought it was very interesting!

There are 143 million orphans in the world, according to UNICEF.
There are 2 billion people who consider themselves Christians in the world
, according to government censuses.
All of these Christians are adopted, according to the Bible:
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. Romans 8:14-17

However, less than half of the 143 million orphans are adoptable because of insufficient paperwork (birth and death records, for example), religious laws forbidding adoption to Christian families (Muslim orphans), poor relations between the US and the orphan's government, or lack of a transparent adoption system in place to guarantee ethical adoption (Cambodia). Therefore, if only 7% of Christians chose to adopt ONE child, all 143 million of the world's orphans would have a permanent safe home! And since this is unrealistic because of the above listed reasons, if only THREE-yes- 3% of the world's Christians adopted ONE child, all adoptable orphans would have a permanent safe home and a forever family. WHAT?! That's all it would take?!

Disclaimer: I firmly believe that not everyone is called to adopt-Christian or not. But I also firmly believe that, at the very least, 3% of 2 billion Christians have been given this calling, especially since scripture defines the mark of pure Christianity as caring for orphans (see below)! It's simply a matter of obeying the call and returning the enormous gift of adoption that God has given us to a child who needs a home.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ethiopian Easter

Ethiopian Easter, or Fassika, takes place in Ethiopian Orthodox churches throughout the country and celebrates the day when Jesus Christ rose from the dead after being crucified. It usually falls after Easter in the western calendar. It is a much more important festival than Christmas, and involves 55 days of severe fasting without meat or dairy. (They do get weekends “off,” so it’s really 40 days, like Catholic Lent.)

Palm Sunday or Hosaina happens the Sunday before Fassika. This day marks the beginning of Holy Week and celebrates the story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. Ethiopians wear headbands of palm leaves on this day to remind them of the palm leaves that were laid in Jesus' path.

This is a climactic celebration. Fasting becomes more intense over the 55-day period and the truly devoted do not eat between Thursday prayers and Easter morning. Easter Friday is a day of preparation and church-going. On Easter Eve, the main religious mass takes place. People come to church with candles and all Ethiopians wear traditional white clothes, called yabesha libs. It can be a sombre and sacred event. Or, in places, anticipation builds until — with a noisy rush of sound and momentum — candles are lit from person to person, out the windows of the church and all the way out of town.

After the Saturday night service (which winds up early Easter morning), people can return home where they will break their fast with the slaughtering of a chicken or sheep (or both). During all their holidays, Ethiopians eat a huge special sourdough bread called Dabo. They bake enough to offer a slice to everybody who visits the house. On Easter morning, the bread should be cut, after saying a prayer, by a priest or by the main man of the house.

Friday, April 25, 2008

26 weeks and I-fest!

Today is the passing of one more week and we find ourselves still waiting at 26 weeks. Normally, Fridays always seem a little disappointing since it marks the end of another week without our referral. However, this Friday we were especially looking forward to because we were inviting to join the Gladney staff at the Blue Nile restaurant in downtown Houston! We received an email a couple of weeks ago asking if we would like to meet them and some other families in the Ethiopia program and we were thrilled to have this opportunity tonight! The Gladney staff was in town to attend I-Fest or the International Festival. Every year, I-Fest spotlights a different country and this year, the theme was called "Out of Africa"! The festivities spanned over 2 weekends, I believe, with the festival concluding this weekend. We arrived at the restaurant a little late (no surprise to most people who know us!), we had never been to the Blue Nile before, and we had never seen nor met any of the people there! When we walked in, we were trying to get oriented to where we needed to sit, who was who, etc., when a bright, smiley Natalie walked up and introduced herself! She was so sweet and they all "scooched" down to make room for Brad, Brittany, the kids and myself! The kids were painfully shy at first but very soon warmed up after a while chatting up about their new dog, their new "brother and sister", and many other things!

I was able to not only meet Natalie, but Mary, Tonia, Anne, and Jessica were all there! It was nice to be able to put faces with names finally! I had great time with them all but had the wonderful opportunity to share sweet conversation with Natalie and Mary. We were able to share our hearts with each other and it made me feel even more grateful for all the priceless work they are doing on our behalf! These women truly have a heart for bringing home our children and they are so invested in their work, you can see the pure joy on their faces when they speak of adoption and how they feel honored to be a part of it all!
L to R: Mary, Tonia, Natalie, Anne, & JessicaThe dinner was a traditional Ethiopian meal that we all shared family style. The kids were a little bewildered where their plates and forks were, but when we told them that they use their hands to eat with, Elijah began to "dig in"! He was grabbing the injera, tearing off HUGE pieces and helping himself to everything on the plate! He loved every bit of it which was encouraging since he will be going with us to Ethiopia! Isabella, on the other hand, may have a difficult time eating the food in Ethiopia! She was making faces I have never seen her make before! She cried when she took her first bite of injera and refused to eat anything else. Brad promised her a cheeseburger when we left the restaurant, so that kept her quiet for a while. I was expecting to only tolerate the food, but was surprised that it was actually pretty good!

After the meal, the waitresses began to roast the coffee beans and the smell was absolutely amazing!!! They then ground up the beans and made the coffee in a traditional coffee ceremony at the end of the table! They served the coffee in little tiny espresso cups along with popcorn! I am not sure why they had popcorn but I have heard of that being served in Ethiopia as well and I am sure it has some signficance. The coffee was very strong but absolutely delicious!

There were 3 couples (including us) who are in the process and 2 couples who had already brought home their beautiful babies from Ethiopia! That was truly a joy to be able to see these precious children and for us, it served as confirmation that we, too, would one day be able to wrap our arms around our children! Since we have been waiting so long, doubt sometimes sets in, so it was nice to have the reality check of these children!! We got to know some of the couples and we were so encouraged that there were indeed other families in the Houston area who we will be able to keep in touch with and hopefully our children will have as an extended "family" of sorts as they grow up!

The whole experience was wonderful for our family and it just made our hearts more anxious to travel to the beautiful country rich in culture that is home to our precious children!

Friday, April 18, 2008

25 weeks

In honor of our sweet little pup, Bandit, we made our "25" out of 25 (and 2 broken pieces) doggie treats!So, here we are at 25 weeks and we are still waiting. This has been an incredibly busy and a little stressful week for us so this week has flown by with many distractions to keep our minds a little occupied away from the wait. To top this week off, Isabella finally was able to get her little spacer in and it fit perfectly! She was a great little patient but is a little sore. She is definitely loving the attention she is getting and enjoying all the popsicles, pudding, jello, etc. she can manage!

On the homefront, the dry-out team did an awesome job drying up all the water and finally took away those pesky dryers! They are going to come out next week to see exactly how much damage there is; however, I think we came out pretty lucky! Even though the carpet was soaked, most everything was off the floor (including both of our closets!!) so there was minimal damage to any of our furniture. It could have been much worse, so we are thankful!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bandit comes home!

Today is the day the kids have been anxiously waiting on....the day Bandit comes home! His foster mom called this morning and we didn't end up getting her message until later today. When I called her and told her about our "little mishap" from yesterday, she offered to keep Bandit for a couple of days longer, but I told her to go ahead and drop him off today. Before she came, we all went to Petco to get him a crate and some other things he needed. Both of the kids got to pick out a special toy for him to play with and sleep with. She came to drop him off around 5 pm and the kids were shy at first with Bandit but quickly warmed up when he licked them! We took this picture of his foster mom with the kids.
His foster mom gave us all kinds of neat toys, food, and instructions for Bandit. The kids are in love with their new dog and it is precious to see them love on him and play with him. They keep asking us when we are going to give him back so I don't think they understand that he is ours now. Bandit is so docile and cute! I think he is the perfect dog for our family!

Elijah kissing Bandit's head...so cute!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Little cast, little water

Isabella is still unable to completely extend or bend her right arm, so we made an appointment with a Pediatric Orthopedist this morning. We took the original x-rays with us and we were seen almost immediately! He took one look at the x-rays and confirmed that her right elbow was broken and that she would need a cast! He said that the elbow joint actually heals quite quickly (around 3 weeks) and since it has been broken for at least 2 weeks already, he put her in a temporary cast for 2 weeks. Basically, they casted her arm and then cut away the top portion and added straps to it so it is removable for baths, etc. She was so excited about it until he got out the "saw" to cut away the top and she began to panic! She was terrified even though I assured her the "saw" wouldn't cut her. She was a brave girl only screaming "OUCH!" once and then she realized it actually tickled instead of hurt! After we finished there, we met Granna for lunch. When we got home, I walked into my bathroom to find the entire tile floor swimming in water! (Apparently, Elijah stuffed A LOT of toilet paper and wipees down the toilet this morning before we left for the doctor and the toilet clogged. I am guessing by the amount of water, the toilet had been running from around 8:30 am until 2 pm today!) When I saw water flowing freely from our master bath toilet, I quickly shut the water off! I yelled for Brittany to bring me some towels and she ran in the bathroom and we discovered that not only was the bathroom floor wet, but the carpet in the dressing area, both of our closets and part of our master bedroom! So, I put a request on ServiceMagic for a water damage specialist and within minutes, someone called me and told me they were on their way! I LOVE ServiceMagic! We have used them several times and they have excellent service! All you have to do is get on their website, answer a few questions letting them know what type of service you need (emergency service or just regular home service) and they line up several professionals in your area to contact you literally within minutes of placing a request! The dry-out company came to assess everything and found that the water had leaked under our bedroom wall and into the living room as well!!! They quickly removed everything out of the way, vacuumed up all the water, pulled up the carpet and the carpet pad, removed all the bathroom trim around the cabinets and floor and removed all base boards in our bath and bedroom. Then they had to drill holes at the bottom of our bath cabinets and cut away some of the sheet rock and placed 10 huge utility fans in the area to dry out everything. They told us the fans will be running for three days!! So, we are going to spend the night at my parent's house tonight so we can get some sleep and hopefully tomorrow will be a better day!Oh, and the water damage has been estimated at around $10,000! Hopefully, insurance should cover it. We should know......we have been here before. Two years ago, when Elijah was 2 years old, he stopped up the guest bathroom sink with toilet paper and several pairs of his underwear (????) and left the faucet running. It flooded that bathroom, hallway, and part of Isabella's room. I am trying to see this as a little mishap by a little boy with a curious little spirit who has not a little clue what his little curious spirit has cost us! And while that is true, putting the word "little" before other words doesn't the make the sting of $10,000 any less! At least I tried!

Monday, April 14, 2008


We have been discussing whether or not we should get a dog for the kids for the past year or so, but felt like we should wait until the adoption is completed to take on that responsibility. Well, seeing as we started the adoption process two years ago and we have now been waiting for a longer time than we had originally thought, we decided that we would go look into the Pet Adoptions with Twyla's Friends. My friend, Amy, told me about it and they had gotten their dog from there. So Saturday, we ventured out to see the dogs. I had already looked online at several local Pet Adoption sites and thought I might be set on one particular dog I had seen.
Brittany and I drove up to check out the dogs and it seemed like they were all HUGE dogs like rottweilers, greyhounds, german shepherds, etc. We petted a few of them casually and then Brittany spotted a precious little black and white freckled puppy hiding behind the tree. She pointed him out to me and I fell in love with him! He was a beautiful, playful little puppy but very docile (which is what I was most looking for). When I walked up to him, he immediately fell down and rolled over, never puppy biting, just licking continuously. I asked his owner about him and she said he was a 4 month old Australian Cattle Mix (the mix part being border collie) and he was crate trained! Music to my ears! She had also trained him to tap a bell on her door to go outside! I was sold! I quickly called Brad because other people began eyeing "my" dog! He got the kids in the car and met us up there to see how the kids responded to the dog. The kids got to walk him (and his brother, Smokey) to see which one they wanted and we all fell in love with little Bandit! We decided to adopt him on the spot, paid a donation fee, but were sad that we couldn't take him home just yet because he needed to be neutered. His appointment to be neutered was today and she will be bringing our new little puppy to our house on Wednesday! We are all thrilled and excited to have our first pet (since we have had Isabella and Elijah) in our family!

Friday, April 11, 2008

24 weeks

This week kind of flew by with all the goings on around here:
  • Took Isabella to the doctor for sickness (she now has strep throat) and her arm (need to go to an orthopedist to view x-rays)
  • Took Isabella to the orthopedist who says she is definitely sore (keep arm in sling) but no broken bones
  • Ashley, my sister-in-law, turns 34 and we will celebrate with a crawfish boil on Saturday!
  • Isabella and Elijah had a playdate today with their favorite little friend, Olivia (and her little baby sister, Lainey Belle!)
  • My friend, Jill, had her first little baby, Samuel Colt Hatley!

Hopefully, next week will fly by too....only this week would be a great week for a referral call!

We have been discussing on whether or not to get the kids a dog, so we just might swing by the Pet Adoption tomorrow and just see what we find!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Church on the move!

About three and a half years ago, several like-minded families came together to birth a brand-new church in our area called Grace Reformed Baptist Church and they called Brad to be the Pastor/Teacher! We began very small with just a few families and our very first Sunday meeting was in the home of one of our Elders! After a couple of weeks, the Lord provided a small office space for us to use and as we grew, He continued to provide for our needs. We then moved to the gym of a private Christian school called Northeast Christian Academy (NCA) where Brad was also teaching Bible classes during the week. It was obviously a very large space that gave us plenty of room to grow and we were so thankful, once again, for His provision! The very first Sunday we met there was a little surreal for Brad and I since NCA's building used to be the very church that Brad and I attended while growing up! We still have very fond memories of that church (especially since we were dating each other during the time we attended there!). A little over a year later, through mutual friendships, Bethesda Romanian Baptist Church offered their church building to us as a more permanent place to worship on Sundays and during the week. The Romanian population is not growing today as it once was, so they have been so gracious to "share" their building with us including the sanctuary, several classrooms and other meeting areas! Once again, the Lord has truly provided for our church family in ways that we could not possibly think or imagine!

Old sign

New sign

Brad on the scaffolding with Dirk and Russ ( I believe this might have been a "posed" picture of Brad since I know Brad is not so fond of heights and I never actually saw him on the scaffolding.)
We have been busy getting things ready for us to move in and worship together! We had a church-wide work day all day yesterday where the men worked on the outside doing yard work, treating for ants (and any other pests!), hanging signs, powerwashing the pavement, picking up trash, etc. Bethany had done an amazing job sketching a precious little pasture with a fence and little lambs beside a stream for our Psalm 23 Lambs mural for the nursery. This past week, she and I met to get the lambs in place and paint the scene on all the walls, but we needed some help finishing the mural, so many of the ladies did a great job yesterday making the finishing touches that were so perfect!
Some women planted flowers while others worked indoors by organizing our kitchen supply area, cleaning the children's bathroom and painting it, and cleaning, organizing and setting up our children's classrooms! We are so grateful to be sharing such a perfect space with our Romanian friends and extremely blessed to receive the Lord's provision! Soli Deo Gloria!

Friday, April 4, 2008

23 weeks

Today marks 23 weeks on the waiting list. Nothing new, still waiting.....and fingerpaiting.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Doctor, Doctor

This past Sunday morning while the kids were eating breakfast, Isabella jumped off the kitchen stool, slipped on her sock-feet and fell on the hardwood floor, and hurt her elbow. She was hurting but willing to continue to get ready for church until I asked her to raise her arm to get dressed. Poor little thing was in terrible pain and she began to sob. We called Brad to tell him we wouldn't be at church and we iced and elevated it. It didn't swell, nor were there any bruises on the elbow and although she continued to protect it and seemed to be in some pain with it, she could definitely still move it some too. So, after a couple of days of this TLC for her elbow (and using her "hurt elbow" as an excuse for not cleaning her room and other chores around the house), I was sure she was "milking" this injury. I told her that her elbow seemed fine and that she really needed to stop being dramatic and "pretending" her elbow still hurt. She maintained that her elbow really hurt, so we had a pretty intense discussion about being honest and "not pretending you are hurt to get attention", etc. I knew it couldn't be broken because she could move it and bend it, just not completely. She cried and told me that she was being honest and was very insistant that her arm really did hurt! So today, she was standing with her back facing Brad and he called me over to look at her elbow. I was shocked that her right elbow was HUGE and had new bruising on top!!! Tears began filling up in my eyes and I began apologizing profusely to her about how wrong I had been with her! I just kept saying, "Mommy is sooooo sorry I didn't believe you about your hurt arm!" She then crawled in my lap, put her hands on my face and with the sweetest and most honest and sincere voice said,
"Ohhhhhhh Mommy, don't cry! I am not mad at you. I forgive you for being mean to me about my arm. Sometimes Mommies are not nice to their kids when they think they aren't telling the truth, so I forgive you. So, now you just need to ask Jesus to forgive you for being mean to me. It's okay, Mommy! I love you sooooo much!"

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry some more!! It was so precious, honest and hysterical all at the same time!!! So, I quickly got some more ice packs and "babied" her the rest of the day after awarding myself with the "Mother of the Year" award!!

Later that afternoon, Elijah began to get cranky and feverish. I gave him Tylenol fever reducer and his fever continued to creep to almost 103 degrees, so since it was after hours, Brad told me to take them to a minor emergency clinic that stayed open until 8 pm. Brittany also had a high fever and bad stomach pains, so I dragged her out of bed and hauled her, Elijah and Isabella to the clinic. After waiting passed 8 pm, they finally called for us (thankfully, Brad had met us there after Wednesday evening church!). They x-rayed Isabella's arm, swabbed Elijah's throat and poked and prodded Brittany's veins for bloodwork and after two and a half hours later, we left with a prescription for Elijah's strep throat, 5 prescriptions for Brittany's virus, and Isabella's arm in a sling (with a possible fracture on the growth plate!) They will have their Radiologists read the X-ray and let us know what they find. Everyone came home thoroughly exhausted and feeling "germy"!

I just have a feeling we will all have strep throat before this is all finished!