Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Time!

Wow - What happened? Was that Christmas? Oh, yes the paper fog has lifted and I can nearly see through the piles of new treasures that have found their way into our home. To think if we didn't limit ourselves to three gifts per child....

Christmas was wonderful - as was expected. I love Christmas at our house. It has always been a great low-key day considering it is - well...Christmas. This year we even added three children, three stockings, and nine more gifts under the tree but managed to keep the energy level satisfactory.

Brent's family is out of town and we get to celebrate with them at a later date. My family is quite small - only two sisters, one of whom lives too far away and the other who gets to bring her husband over for the morning fun. My mom is a welcomed staple at family gatherings and I am the luckiest girl I know in that she is a wonderful guest. She has never said anything but supportive and uplifting things about the condition of my home, my children, or my food. Thanks so much for that, mom.

Hope your Christmas was wonderful, too.






Thursday, December 13, 2007

Zeros

I have been having some fun with Ellie's math lately.

Math is an area that I lack not only interest but also experience. We use what I think to be the greatest math curriculum of all time, Math-U-See and I am really understanding math concepts for the first time! (A+ for Kris!)

Last week Ellie was learning how to write enormous numbers in place value notation. I "learned" at an early age to be very intimidated by lots of zeros - and I saw Ellie beginning to feel the same way. I don't want my daughters growing up thinking math is for boys - or that is it is something to fear, so I pretended to be excited about it. Getting excited about it meant that I needed to be darn sure that I understood how to do it, too.

And so my story begins.................... After a week of practicing this concept I found myself "thinking" in terms of place value notation.


For instance:
*There are 10+2 months in the year.
*I spent 100+40+7 dollars at the toy store last week.
*There are 100,000+80,000+6,000+300+50+2 miles on our van.


And here is the kicker:
* There are 4,000,000 +600,000 orphans in Ethiopia.

That is a lot of zeros. I was sitting at the eye doctor the other day waiting for my daughter's appointment to be over and my mind was thinking of the 4,000,000 + 600,000 orphans in Ethiopia. I wondered if other people get intimidated by lots of zeros like I used to. Do people really understand HOW MANY children that is - living without families? No mom or dad? No home or bike or dog? I started to break the number down into more palatable increments.


I thought to myself...suppose there were only 9 orphans? Or maybe 60+2 orphans? What if in my neighborhood, or city, state, there were 800+30+7 orphans? That is a ton of children growing up with out the love of a family. But in Ethiopia there are so many orphans that the reality gets lost in all of the zeros. I wondered if people would help more if there were actually fewer. Maybe if people could wrap their brain around a number it would be more real? I don't have the answer - I was just wondering.

My fun with 3rd grade math concepts has made me even more grateful for the three beautiful, smart, funny, happy children that have joined our family this year. I thank our God of miracles that they are no longer one of the zeros.


This photo was taken the day our children learned they had a family waiting for them in America.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pass Through

We had just loaded bags of clothes into our van. They were on there way to the Salvation Army drop box. This was the 3rd or 4th or 5th time we had done this this year. It got me to thinking... "how much we have been able to give away this year for others in need when it is really our family being blessed by others giving us stuff."

Since we have had children, it has been our practice to take in and pass out clothes that our kids needed and then didn't need. Your family may experience the same thing. Each year, we have been able to set aside certain items and contribute a few bags to those less fortunate. But this year, it has been overwhelming! Since our adoption in April, it seems we have been blessed on every side in an overflowing, abundant manner. We have been overwhelmed with canned goods and dry goods that exceeded our storage ability, so we passed some through to others (10-15 bags full) that could use them and might even need them more than us. It hasn't stopped! We have been overwhelmed with gifts of clothing, hand-me-downs, in wonderful condition at such a level that not only do our 7 children all have boots and coats for the winter, and clothes for the next 2-3 stages of growth... we also were able to pass 15-20 bags (conservative estimate; hefty size) through our hands into the hands of others who had need. Isn't God amazing?

Only He could figure out how to overflow our cup while we were opening our house up to total strangers. Only He could use us to provide for others while we were needing provision. Only He owns a cattle on a thousand hills, and allows some of that provision to pass through our hands into the lives of those around us. As a man, and the leader of my house, and the provider for my wife and children... I am learning to trust Him. His provision far exceeds my ability. I'm excited about letting more pass through!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Seasons

Winter has arrived.

Whoever said our Ethiopian children will not like cold weather has never met my kids. I am constantly saying "Sweetheart, aren't you cold? Why don't you go put on more clothes?" I look at my kids running around the house in bare feet and I shiver. This must be another unfortunate sign that I am aging. As if I needed another reminder.


At precisely 7:10am on Wednesday I heard the pitter patter of little feet turn into a herd of the masses running down the stairs to announce "SNOW!" Then right outside they went, pajamas and all. Evidence as shown.




They didn't make it long out there in their pj's. But Joseph and Ellie came in, got decked out in their winter gear, and played for three hours. Great example of the fun homeschooling can be. I decided to just go with it - and we actually got school done in a "cut in paste" format which was a fun little shake-up.


By evening I lost count of how many hours the kids had all been outside. It was a great first snow fall. Seasons are so refreshing!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Men I Love

Thanksgiving this year was amazing. We had some priceless family time with both of my sisters and their families. We have NEVER been all together before. Never. We have been together, in smaller groups - but never all at the SAME time. It was so wonderful.

What I realized was this....There are a lot of very handsome men in my life. That may sound shallow of me - which I tend to be from time to time, but just look and see for yourself.




Look at this guy - I get to be married to him! He is one of the good ones.

My oldest is turning into a gorgeous young man. He is so much fun to be with. I love, love, love, hanging out with him. (Oh, and my dog, Quincy - if you know me at all, you know what I think of this guy. Woman's best friend.)


Quite handsome for a boy of 10. For more good stuff on this guy, visit my last post.
Because I share not a single genetic chromosome with this little character, I can say without conceit that he is one of the most gorgeous creations God has made.

This is my nephew. God has marked this guy for something amazing- you watch. His gorgeous face is the least of his attributes - so you can only imagine what's on the inside.

I love all these Men. There are actually two missing from my list here but out of all due respect for their humble personalities I have not plastered their pictures on this blog. I will try to add them in a group shot sometime just so you can see that I have two very handsome brothers in law as well!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ten Again

I love that our Ethiopian kids have been with us seven months now. I love it for many reasons.

First of all, the transition is hard - and we have transitioned.
Secondly, half a year has passed and that means half of a years events have been successfully processed.
And third, the kids have begun to share more with us about their past. This is a great sign of attaching and bonding that we adoptive parents wait for.

Joseph had a birthday this month. He was ecstatic about his special day as he has been in our family long enough to see four siblings celebrate birthdays. This event prompted a conversation about age that we have waited a long time to have.

It appears our suspicions were accurate. It was clear to us in Ethiopia that Joseph was not eight. We actually aged him a full year at our readoption. That put him at nine. He has just shared with us that he was ten when he entered the orphanage. That was a year ago. Well, he just had his first American birthday and he is now ten - again.

We love our son - no matter his age. We are just happy to see that he is trusting us as his parents. It is good.

In honor of our Ten-Again son, here are 10 things I love about Joseph...

1. Joseph is an excellent eater.
2. And he freely shows his gratitude for good cooking!
3. He is a very hard worker around the house. His specialties are cleaning the garage and van.
4. He adores his Uncle Charlie and wants to be with him a l l t h e t i m e !
5. Joseph is a great soccer player.
6. He is very diligent with his school work.
7. He loves babies and really wants one around here!
8. He loves church and memorizing verses for AWANA.
9. Joseph has a beautiful singing voice.
10. Joseph is a happy, happy boy!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The "New Normal"

We have hit a "new normal" around here. I am grateful for this because now I know what I have to work with. We have some work to do with refining relationships, developing self-control, and increasing patience. With homeschooling I get the whole day to work on this stuff. It is not for the faint of heart let me tell you. But by the grace of God, we keep plugging away, and it is good. Very good.

Each October, it has become our tradition, to go to Hocking Hills. People who say Ohio is flat and boring have never visited Hocking Hills. It is beautiful - including 9 different State Parks that cover over 9000 acres of God's handiwork.

This year was extra fun as it was our first with our Ethiopian kids. It would be an understatement to say that they loved it. We had a great day on so many levels. The kids all enjoyed the freedom of exploration, the stimulation of great exercise, and a day off from school.
Brent and I enjoyed largely the same things but one thing that we didn't expect provided the most enjoyment...
Teamwork. Our kids true colors shined this day. They ran together, laughed together, and worked together. A few of the hikes we took had some tricky spots. It was a huge blessing to watch the kids help each other. They would look around for the more challenging climbs, then plan together for how they would execute a successful route. One would go first, turn and help the next - while leaving a strong one on the ground to help with the lift. All the while, I could cruise smoothly behind, taking the safer route, and watch my cute kids.
Our "new normal" is louder, busier and crazier. But we knew that would be the case when we started down this road of growing our family. It is a good life, thanks be to God.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Homesick

When I was a little girl I went through a long period of time when I could not spend the night at friends’ houses. I suffered terribly from homesickness. I would often muster up the courage to try – and things would be going along well until bed time. When the sun went down and I knew bedtime was coming the feelings started. My stomach would be in knots and the fears came.

I remember one night I was attempting to spend the night at my next door neighbor’s house. We were camping out on the back porch. I was lying there in my sleeping bag staring at my house and tears were just pouring. All the lights were on at home and soon I found myself jumping out of my sleeping bag, hoping the fence and running through my front door into my mom’s arms. That is where I wanted to be – with my mom.

My little Brooke is homesick. Her days are pretty good but at night I see the look in her eyes. I know that look – I have felt something similar. Last night was particularly difficult for her. She told me that she has been dreaming a lot about her Ethiopian mom and the dreams are bad.

Here are some of my daughters’ fears:
- that her mom got eaten by an alligator
- that her mom got very sick and died
- that her mom does not know where she is

and the worst of all…

- that her mom forgot about her

No six year old child should have to carry such a burden. It kills me to know that she is suffering like this. I look at her face and the grief she bears and I cry because there is not a single thing I can do to help her.

When I was little and felt homesick I got to go home. Within moments I would be in my own bed safe and content. That will never be possible for Brooke. All I can do is hold her and tell her that her Ethiopian mom loves her very much and she will never forget her.

One day her comfort will be restored. Our heavenly Father loves her more than either her Ethiopian mom or her American mom. The process is just painful.









“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

One Thing I Love About You...

Today is Brent's birthday - his first birthday with seven children. Also our Ethiopian kids' first opportunity to see how we can honor our parents on their special day.


This morning, while I (Kris) read about William Penn and the Pennsylvania Colony (1600's history), the kids created beautiful works of birthday art for their father. In addition to a picture each child wrote one reason why they love their dad. Here are the results:

"One thing I love about you, dad is......"

Aaron -"your mobility with a bad back"

Jenna - "the way you always wait patiently until we can pray."

Joseph - "that you teach me about Jesus."

Ellie - "that you are a good dad. I am special to have you as a dad."

Kate - "your great big bear hugs!"

Brooke - "that you are silly and that you love Jesus."

Max - "that you are very strong. You could kill Goliath."


We also enjoyed Brent's favorite Oatmeal Cake and a few token gifts.

Happy Birthday, Brent... One thing I love about you is that you always put us first. Always. I watch you over and over sacrifice your time, energy, and wants for us.
Thank you.

Monday, October 1, 2007

"And People Ask Why We Adopted"


Max: "Mom, in Etopia we don't wake up our mom to go potty in the night. We just go by ourselves."

Mom: "Why don't you wake up your mom?"

Max: "Because we don't HAVE any moms."
(My stomach dropped and the reality of my sons' past hit me again. I picked him up, gave him a huge squeeze, and said...)

Mom: "In America you can wake up your mom."
I often feel like the blessing is all mine.

.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pancake Monday


There's really nothing quite like a short stack of pancakes to start your week off right. A big batch of pancake batter measured out in over 30 pancakes, cooked on an electric griddle and served with butter and syrup and milk or O.J. Of course, there is a pot of coffee for the cook (me) and the resident computer communicator (Kris emailing her new adoption buddies and/or old friends) in the other room. I usually try to schedule myself to be home on Monday mornings... no meetings, no clients, no distractions! And while this is not always possible, we all look forward to this time. Some weeks, Pancake Monday actually takes place on Tuesday.

Now that school has officially started, mornings are even crazier than they used to be. It is good that we attempt to take this time every Monday morning to count and make sure there are still 9 of us in the family. It is quite possible that one of us could have been lost somewhere in the weekend activities. So far, we have all been present for Pancake Monday. Kris had the kids start reciting John 3:16 before we eat of the stacks in front of us, and then we end Pancake Monday breakfast with a devotional. Here's what we've learned thus far...

Kids need pancakes!
Moms need pancakes!
Dads need pancakes!

And the family needs this time to look forward to. There's some interesting conversation that happens during Pancake Monday that might not happen otherwise. Mixing pancakes with Wisdom, and Trustworthiness, and Boldness, and Diligence, and Courage, and Love is a great recipe for Life. Can someone please pass the syrup...!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Post Adoption - Apples & Attaching


When I was growing up on our farm we had an apple tree that produced different types of apples. I could never figure out "how" this tree was able to do this. It had only one trunk which meant it had only one root system. But when it came time for the apples to ripen, different apples would ripen at different times on different parts of the tree. At least this is what I remember!!! I also recall learning that branches from different types of apple trees had been grafted into the original tree, and through the same root system and trunk system, these different branches could still remain alive and still produce their respective apple fruit. But each apple was good for some specific purpose. My mom knew exactly which apples made the best pie or dumplings, which apples made the best applesauce, which apples made the best apple butter, etc. She knew exactly what to do with each kind of apple.

I think I'm learning that adoption... post-adoption... is a lot like that old apple tree. Sometimes we get Red Delicious. Sometimes we get Yellow Delicious. Sometimes we get Crabapple!!!! And each type of apple (parent and/or child & attitude wrapped together in his or her own skin) has its own unique value and contribution to the overall fruit production. In our efforts to work through the post-adoption process, all of us... all nine of us... have to learn how each of us continue to bear fruit and grow and mature while drawing our source of life from one trunk and one root system. God created the family! He has ordained and appointed the family as the central unit of where we are to grow and mature and learn to bear fruit. He constantly reminds me that He grafted me into His family, and that He has the life sustaining power to feed me and grow me even though I used to draw from a different source. When He made life available to me by adopting me as a son, the resources He gathered through His root system and His trunk were more than enough to help me grow.

If the original tree and the newly grafted -in branches had any feelings at all, I couldn't imagine the PAIN they had to go through to adjust to the new life they suddenly found themselves involved in. I need to remember this when I look at the original branches and the new branches that now make up our tree. We now have a new tree! And while it is very tough, I do see growth spurts and new fruit being produced in ALL of the branches. Praise the Lord!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

God's Provision - God's Call

Yesterday, God provided all of these dry goods for our pantry. Cans of fruits & vegetables, tubs of peanut butter, boxes of Girl Scout Cookies, boxes of Mac & Cheese, Ramen Noodles, Pasta and much more. We are overwhelmed and humbled at God's provision.

Today, God called Max to be a chef - apparently someone needs to prepare all of that food.


And if we think this is just a coincidence, remember that in Scripture and throughout all of History, God's call and God's provision go hand in hand. O, how desperately I need to remember this! (See Reality Check post) Thank You, Lord.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Monday, June 11, 2007

Reality Check!

(Disclaimer #1: I try not to live my life based on pole results, nor did I start this BLOG in order to win any popularity contests.)
(Disclaimer #2: I have no idea where this entry is going.)
(Disclaimer #3: I have not had any desire to write for several weeks.)
(Disclaimer #4: The thoughts and views expressed below are mine alone.)
(Disclaimer #5: I already know in advance that God is teaching me through this entire process!!!!)


This adoption stuff is hard. I see my wife beaten down almost every day by ungrateful kids who continually demand more. "I want braces too, mom!" "I want a new bicycle." "Why did ________ get new shoes, and I didn't?" "I want __________!!!!" "I want ________ !" We have been asked if the honeymoon stage has come and gone... and I say, "WHAT HONEYMOON STAGE!?" It seems as soon as we got to America, our kids were full of demands. After one particular incident, I sat down with our oldest adopted son and asked where he learned so much about America, and where he learned that you can have/get anything you want in America. "Film" was his simple, one-word answer. It seems that through watching TV and videos and movies from America, the kids have come to expect that they can get and will get everything and anything they want in America. Well, not in this house you won't! Reality check! Let the attaching/bonding begin...

Parenting children from birth allowed us to shape their belief system right from the beginning. There are obviously all kinds of parenting styles in the world today. It has not been our style to raise our children to believe they are the center of the universe. We have adopted children that already had a beginning. We weren't there. We are now! Teaching and training older children to suddenly believe differently and behave differently is a full-time job. Teaching three older siblings that have a complete family history, sibling rivalry, language barrier, cultural differences, birth order shakeup, etc., make each day feel like a week. And while I struggle to work enough to pay the bills on time, my wife bears the brunt of this exhausting labor of love. She sometimes doesn't feel like it, but she is really good at this. She is really amazing. I see her heart, and I wonder how she does it. She still needs all the encouragement she can get. Reality check! Pray for Kris...

Speaking of work... Lord knows we need the revenue... thus far the medical bills are rapidly approaching $10,000. Only one of 4 minor surgeries has taken place. We haven't gotten the bill for that one yet... the bills we have seen so far are just for the assessment work and prep work. How in the world are we supposed to cover these costs? Too bad I didn't think to bring these kids in illegally... I could have saved thousands of dollars in fees - VISA, Passport, USCIS, court fees, adoption fees - and hours of time running around parking at meters to pay good money to get papers stamped and notarized and authenticated. I could have gotten tons of free medical care from what I understand as well. Looks like I missed a "golden opportunity" right there. Reality check! I am considering sending an invoice to Congress... I wonder if any of them will read this entry...

I used to think I was a decent father. I'm not so sure any longer. Why is it that I feel I am failing in almost every area of fatherhood? I remember what it felt like in athletics when some team came along and just beat the crap out of us. I remember what it felt like to get the wind knocked out of me. I remember what it felt like to lose and to lose badly. I never wanted that taste in my mouth again. I taste that right now! There are days when I really feel like I am losing. There are days when I feel like I am losing the peace and stability we once had in the house. Most days I realize that I am not doing a good job - my part - as a husband and father. I can't think of a day since we have been home that I haven't been upset with the way the kids have treated me or my wife... or someone else. I've never done real well with kids that whine and complain and disrespect parents and other adult authority figures. Reality check! I wonder when we'll taste victory again...

(Disclaimer #6: It has been over 2 weeks since I wrote the above paragraphs.)


We've had some victories lately! There's been a lot of bonding and attachment happening. Praise the Lord! I have seen God work in our family in amazing ways. God is mostly working on me. I have discovered that I am really good at paying lip service to "trusting God." How often do I say that I trust God? How often do I counsel others to trust God. How often do I model to my 7 children that I really trust God? How often do I model to Kris that I am leading this house by trusting God? Since the heat of summer has come, we are getting some good swimming in at the pool across the street. Four of the kids can swim really well... sort of like fish! Three of the kids can't at all. They cling and grab and thrash about, gasping as they barely keep their mouth above water. But I have watched each one of them start to trust me in the water a little more each time we go... and I am seeing them start to relax a little. And we know what happens when we start to relax in dad's arms. Reality check! I haven't scratched the surface on trusting God...

Father, help me relax in You... help me to clearly see and understand how much You love our family. Help me to keep my head above water. Help me curb my anger and cynicism. Help me see clearly what You are doing. Help me be a witness for You. Help me trust You more! Help me relax in You. Thank You for the food that was delivered to our house today. Thank you for the small discount on one of the recent bills. Thank You for the gift of church camp for some of our children, and Kris. Thank You for our local church body, that gives so much and cares so much and prays so much for us. Help me relax in You. Help me have meaningful conversations with the various medical providers about how we are trusting You throughout this process. Help me have meaningful conversations with Kris. Help me continue to serve our clients above and beyond their expectations. Thank You for the wonderful encouragement at the recent home-school conference.
Thank You for the gift of educating our children at home. Help us figure out how to schedule and structure our school days. Help us make sure we are making You the focal point in our school and our children's education. Help me relax in You. Help me learn to trust...



Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Picture Paints a 1000 Words... Two Pictures say it all!



I start my diet tomorrow!!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

You know its coming but...

In the Crusader Football program, like any good football program, the offensive coaches spend a lot of their time teaching the quarterback and the other offensive players how to recognize a blitz. Depending on game situation, you know its coming, but you just have to identify from where? Sometimes it comes from unlikely places and in ways that force an immediate decision... "Does the quarterback stand in the pocket and deliver the ball or does he scramble?"

Last Sunday afternoon, Aaron had a guitar recital and we were blessed to attend as a family... as a full family of 9! The recital was held at an assisted living facility and was packed full of piano players and guitar players, their families and friends, and residents of the facility. We had a great time, the music was wonderfully pleasant, and it was nice just to relax a little with the kids. Soon after Aaron played a sweet rendition of Amazing Grace and the recital was officially over, a sweet little 90 something summoned me over near her. It seemed that she had something she wanted to share... it was then I recognized a blitz coming!!

"What is all of this?" she asked. "All of what?" I replied. "All of this black-white stuff!" she scoffed. "Excuse me!?" I said. "What are you doing with them people?" she asked. "Why don't you leave them to their own people?" "We are their people!" I retorted. "We love them... they're our kids." "This is wrong!" she said. "You think so?" I asked. "They belong with their own people!" she said again. "What's wrong with it?" I asked. ... and then I saw the opening... "Isn't it a good thing that someone loves them? Don't you have someone that loves you? ... and as quickly as the blitz came, it was over. God allowed me to stand in the pocket.

I have no idea about the ultimate outcome of this dialogue. I don't know anything about this little 90 something that needs help getting in and out of her chair and can barely walk with a walker. I don't know what she is thinking, or what beliefs and prejudices have been dumped into her head. I don't know if anyone loves her. And then in my mind I hear Aaron playing Amazing Grace. It is only through God's amazing grace that we have the capacity to love at all. It is only by God's grace that we are able to let go of our prejudices. James 1:27 says, "This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." I don't even know her name.


Monday, April 30, 2007

Taking a Thorough Assessment

Last Friday morning, Kris and I took the three new Longs to the International Adoption Clinic for their (very thorough) health examination. Sparing you the exact details, let's just say that it was very thorough. It was nice to have an interpreter present to help explain to the kids what was happening and why mom & dad would just sit and watch these people (in white coats) poke and prod and prick. On top of that, we discovered that 2 of the 3 were in the middle of an outbreak of Chicken Pox. And then a discovery that actually encouraged us to do a really complete "spring clean" as an extra precaution. (Just in the nick of time we believe!) This morning, we completed the first round of appointments with a hearing assessment and a quick psychological evaluation. (Although he hesitated, the psychologists did not yet think Kris and I were crazy!!!) There will soon be vision tests and teeth pulling, and other assorted invasions for these kids. While driving back home afterwards I got to thinking... this whole adoption thing is absolutely amazing! How do we explain to the kids that we are doing this because we love them and we want to properly care for them. It's not as if we will send them back if we find something that's unpleasant! Actually, that will just help us love them more. And then it hit me...How God uses this real life analogy to teach me more about Him. He is truly Amazing!

You see, years ago God adopted me into His family. Before the adoption was complete, and in His own way, He had done a very thorough assessment and He knew what I was full of. He loved me too much to leave me in that condition, and even though I did not completely understand what was happening, He started the process of "spring cleaning" in me. I was full of parasites and other things the world had to offer and they were all eating away at my insides. But God had compassion on me... He wasn't doing this to see if I was worth keeping... He had already made up His mind that He was keeping me! That was planned long before I was ever in my mother's womb. The adoption was final and God was not surprised with what He found in me... I'm thinking He expected it to be there. He was big enough to deal with it and get it out. His plan included that as well... in fact, it included full health and complete restoration!

In the adoption world, "Disruption" is the word used to describe an adoption gone bad. An example of a disruption would be when the new parents decide (for whatever reason) that they no longer want this new child (children) in their home and they change their minds. While the adoption was final, it really wasn't, and the kid (kids) are once again removed from a home only to be placed in another... hopefully... maybe.

And so you see what God is teaching me through all of this. God doesn't disrupt! Ever! When He brings someone into His family... and all come through adoption now... He never ever disrupts. He has promised to be our Father forever. He has promised to meet our every need. He loves us and has compassion on us in spite of the junk inside of us. He continually pours out His grace and mercy on us even though we don't always follow His ways. For me, this builds hope and strength and courage and peace and stability. This allows me to flourish and develop as I am meant to develop. God is forever cleaning me and washing me and caring for me! He is an AWESOME Father! I pray all 7 of our kids find that hope and strength and courage and peace and stability that comes through the Father.

Do you know Him? Have you experienced His love and affection? Even though you might need a little cleaning right now, have you allowed Him to speak to you about your potential in Him. Do you trust Him? Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me." There's an ADVOCATE that helps in your adoption... Have you allowed Him to wash you clean? Is it time for a thorough assessment?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Back to Work in the Basement

Now that we are getting settled... at least we think we are getting settled... it is back to work on some home projects started before the trip. Although Aaron has been in his new bedroom for several weeks by now, we still have lots of work to do to finish out the rest of the basement for our new rec room. I'm getting bored with the whole thing, so I thought I would bring in a new construction team to help. The picture below sums it all up!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

True Confessions about the Bottom Line

Okay, it is time for me to get "real." By vocation, God has me in the marketplace as a business consultant, trainer and executive coach helping bring a solid, biblical foundation to people and organizations so that they can discover the true purpose of their lives and businesses. At some point in the relationship, I always get some form of the question... "Yes, I understand that is what God says, but what about the bottom line?" Along the way, it seems that God has blessed many of these clients with an increased bottom line... AND with increased peace and time and balance and hope and faith and trust. For some the results have been truly miraculous and mind-boggling. So what does this have to do with adoption and our family?

I can only speak for myself - not my wife, or any other person (husband or wife, dad or mom) that might be considering adoption. Somewhere we have to take into consideration the "bottom-line." If your household is anything like my household, you don't have $20,000 or $30,000 or $40,000 just lying around taking up space, waiting to be invested in adoption costs. I didn't have the bottom-line I "needed" to afford these kids a new home and a new chance at life. I was working to provide for and meet the needs of the 4 already at home.

Adoption is not cheap. It comes with a high cost. And the bottom-line is that those costs continue to increase once the adoption fees are paid. Bottom-line is that getting them home is not even close to half the financial struggle. My wife has a favorite saying... "Life is expensive!" The reality of adoption... "Adoption is expensive!" ... and it is just a part of our life. Bottom-line is that there are 7 kids in our house that need a chance at life... (Not all that life has to offer since so much of what life has to offer is undesirable...) but a chance at life nonetheless. Of course, we are only in the early stages of our adopted kids joining our bio kids at home. It will only get more expensive. School assessments and curriculum (we home school), dental appointments, doctor appointments, gas, groceries, water bills, toilet paper, hair care products (I'm thinking random head shavings could become common practice!!), did I mention bananas by the bunches, the list goes on. And the bottom-line is that all of this has to be paid for with actual currency of some sort. I actually get upset every now and again at just how much it does cost to live in this world and raise a family.

But God... I so much love the many passages of Scripture that start out this way... You see, the bigger bottom-line is that God is able. God knows it is not cheap and God knows that it will only get more expensive. There are no secrets with God. God knows that most of us do not have the finances for adoption costs collecting dust in the corner of our dresser. Bottom-line is that I am not able to provide for 7 children... But God! Bottom-line is that (this is real to Kris and I) we had absolutely no way to come up with the upfront costs for adoption... But God! Bottom-line is that I have no idea how we will afford these kids moving forward... But God! Bottom-line is that God has never made a calling on anyone's life without first having made provision for that calling. Who does God borrow from? God owns the cattle on a thousand hills... God knows all of His children by name... God knows and has named the stars that He hung in Heaven. God will use any means He desires to make the provision for the adoption you are considering.

Bottom-line - I was correct and am still correct... I have no way to pay for or afford this adoption and I have no way to continue to meet the financial needs that are coming. But God! Bottom-line... neither do you, and if you let that stop you, you will fall into the same trap that so many have fallen into that will leave nothing done in the life of 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 children. God is in the business of growing His children, and generally that means that I need to learn to trust Him more. And that's the bottom-line!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Turning 7 and 911

Today was full of activity, as everyday has been thus far. We had house projects to start/complete! We had lots of beautiful sunshine to enjoy! We had lots of family activities going on all day. Two significant items stand out...

1) Our sweet Kate turned 7 years old today. What a day it was for her. Two new brothers and a new sister that she just met last Saturday for the first time. It doesn't seem that long ago that we first met Kate when the doctor handed her to us. What a joy she is! The party included Grandma and Aunt Kelly & Uncle Charlie, and a friend from next door. Chicken grilled just right and hamburgers also. Ice cream cake - 2 more friends joined in with us for this part - and everyone signing happy birthday. What a day!


2) Joseph is learning his numbers somewhat. He was attempting some math earlier in the week. It seems he is a quick learner- today he was playing with the phone and punching in some numbers much like one would do on a calculator. Immediately after he placed the phone on the table, it rang back, so I answered. The 911 operator asked me about the emergency that was just called in! It seems that she was not able to understand our little Ethiopian who had just dialed 911!!!! After explaining the situation and telling her how sorry we were, Kris had to repeat the same story for the nice policeman when he arrived. I think the math lesson was very effective. He appears ready to move ahead with the next lesson.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Home Again... First Days

Here are a few pictures of our first days back home. God has been so faithful with our safe travels and new adjustments. And we have the reassurance that He will no stop being faithful anytime soon!




Top to Bottom:
  • Joseph beside his new bicycle - he couldn't wait to ride it and learned how in about 15-20 minutes. Now he's off around the block 15-20 times a day!
  • Jenna is helping Brooke on Max's new bike. Be patient my child... it will come!
  • Former little sister turned big sister Kate holds her napping little brother, Max
  • Ellie and Max as his Sunday afternoon nap continued. Lucky guy!
  • Aaron gives Brooke a ride as Joseph investigates his new surroundings.

If I can get this video thing figured out, I will be posting some video soon to share more of what our first days have looked (and sounded) like. Meals have been an adventure, not knowing what foods the little ones will eat, and not knowing for sure how to communicate that they must try what Kris places in front of them. Joseph as been a tremendous helper as his English is good enough to help us in this way. We are working to establish and settle into a routine. Be patient my children... it will come! (God keeps reminding me... He must know about my patience, or lack thereof.) Blessings to all!