Monday, March 31, 2014

368 days

Before I begin, I want to express what this post is absolutely NOT about:

It's not about me trying to "brag" about anything. The moment I feel that in my Spirit, I shut down my post and if necessary this blog. 

It's not about attempting to pull at your heart strings to make a commitment that you and your family may not be ready for or called to. 

This post IS about:


What God is doing in our lives through our adoption journey (specifically during the wait!)

What God is doing around the world.

And this specific post is to celebrate the life of a little boy and his mother. 

It's also an introductory post to a topic that I will write on in the future. 

So here it goes:

368 DAYS

I tell people all the time that once you step into orphan care, it is somewhat of an "unveiling" to things that you've been surrounded by your whole life but for whatever reason you never took notice of. It's kind of like riding down a road a million times, then all of a sudden you notice something along that road that you had never noticed before. And now... It seems to be blaring at you and you think "how in the world did I never see this before?" Poverty, orphans, the fatherless and child abuse are all around us. And once your eyes are opened to it... There is no turning back. 
A few weeks ago I was listening to Klove and the lyrics of this song pierced my soul. 

"Do Something" by Matthew West

This song came on the radio and the first few lyrics had me shaking my fist at God in frustration.

" I woke up this morning 
Saw a world full of trouble now 
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down 
How’s it ever gonna turn around 
So I turned my eyes to Heaven 
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?” 
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of 
People living in poverty 
Children sold into slavery 
The thought disgusted me 
So, I shook my fist at Heaven 
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?” 

Every part of my being agreed with these lyrics! 
God why are you just sitting there while all these kids suffer? Why don't you do something?! 

So I leaned into the song and even said out loud "what was God's response to that question?" 

The song goes on with God's response:

"He said, “I did, I created you” 

I paused. Convicted. 
I won't post the rest of the lyrics but Matthew west goes on to sing about not simply standing still anymore, but instead "doing something."

Lee and I have talked about this song often since that day.

Fast forward to this past week.

I was again driving to work in my car and I was praying (aka venting to God). I had just read an article about a man abusing his 6 week old daughter. I was frustrated at injustice (which by the way will always be here until Jesus returns). I was complaining about the long wait in adoption. And it was as if I felt a whisper saying "you aren't the only one waiting." 

In that moment I didn't know exactly what that meant. I was honestly very distracted by my own concerns. 

But over the course of the next few days I felt small "whispers" about doing something during our wait. 

On Saturday night Lee and I went to see a movie. The one we wanted to see was sold out at the nearest theatre so we drove across town and saw "Divergent" which is good by the way. 
Because this wasn't our "planned" movie, we arrived approx 25 minutes early and sat down. Lee said "what are we gonna do while we wait?" He began looking at different things on his phone and for whatever reason the first thing that popped in my head to begin looking at was "child sponsorship." 

So I did.

I flipped through different ministries. I flipped through tons of pictures of children. I read a little about what soonsorship does. 

So after the movie I couldn't shake it. 
We talked. We researched. 
We went to church. 
I prayed with open hands in church. 

And Sunday evening I couldn't shake it. 
Lee (sweet, sweet Lee) was completely eager and ready to sponsor. In fact, he wouldn't look at the kids because he said he'd want to sponsor all of them!

And I landed on a picture that I couldn't shake. 

One little boy named Yeabkal Samuel.

Above his picture read the words 
"Waiting 368 days"

This sweet child and his mother who is a single parent had been waiting on a sponsor for over a year. Someone to choose him and to invest in him. 

Last night I told Lee, "they've been waiting on US!" (Insert an emotional female who has felt like SHE was waiting on someone else!) Every day for the past year, this little boy (and his mom) has wondered if anyone would ever sponsor him. And Lee and I wish more than anything that we could be there the next day or so when someone from Compassion International tells him & his mom "you have a sponsor!" 

Lee woke up this morning and the first thing he said was "Do you think they told Samuel (we can't pronounce his first name) that he has a sponsor?"

Here is his sweet (blurry) picture. 

Isn't he beautiful?!?! 

He is 6 years old. His birthday is April 23rd. He will be turning 7!! I'm so thankful we were able to sponsor him before his birthday! 

He lives in the city of Asella. It's in ETHIOPIA! 

We have already looked it up. It's approx 108 miles from Addis Ababa (which is where we will travel to meet Malachi). We are "hoping" to visit him on one of the 2 trips for Malachi!!! I just wanna hug him and his sweet Mom! 

We are using Compassion International for sponsorship, but there are lots of great organizations out there. 

This blog is long so I will wait for another post to describe what all our sponsorship will help with :-) the bullet points are:
Exposure to Church and learning about Jesus
Education (school supplies, fees, etc)
Health: check-ups, physicals, education about hygiene, etc. 
Nutrition: snacks, meals, education about clean water 

Today I'm thankful for the "wait" on Malachi because it opened my eyes to Yeabkal Samuel. 

We love him!!!! 

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Raw Realization

Miller is 2 going on 18 at times. He is strong spirited, extroverted and at times more than I can handle. He's like a thoroughbred horse that needs a bridle. Lately he has turned into a little warrior. 
By warrior I mean he is out to conquer the world. He's up to any challenge and would "hunt" all day if we would let him. 

Yesterday, I was in the kitchen and broke a glass bowl. Glass went everywhere. Lee grabbed the broom and began sweeping the glass. Miller heard the commotion and took his perch on the back of the couch that overlooks the kitchen. Lee swept and out of the broom slithered a SNAKE! Yes! Right across our kitchen floor slithered a small, yucky snake! Of course I screamed! Lee quickly smashed the broom on it catching it, but not killing it. Lee began giving me orders on how to assist with killing the snake. After my task was completed I quickly perched on the couch with Miller to watch the rest unfold. Lee managed to get the snake outside into the garage and killed it. 
Lee came back in and made a reference to getting satan out of our house! :) I was completely terrified! 

About 15 minutes later I was in my bathroom getting ready for small group and Miller walked in there. He said "Mama, you stand right there where I can see you! I'm gonna go kill dat snake!" 

My flesh wanted to scream... "No, baby! Don't you ever get near a snake!" 

But I refrained. I knelt down and told him that one day he would kill snakes like his daddy and protect his family. For now, stay on the couch with me. He went on pretending to be daddy. 

There is part of me that wants to be all my children need. I want Miller to stay perched on the couch with me forever. I want to protect him and keep him right beside me forever. However, the raw reality is constantly before me. I was only "all he needed" for a few short weeks/months of his life. Now, with each passing day I am releasing him into the world. My tiny tot will one day be a man. 
(Insert sobby mama tears)

Yesterday, I thought to myself. I am the "stand in bride." There are times when my role as mom is to let him "practice" protecting and leading his family. 

We recently attended my friend's daughter's one year old birthday party. I watched the one year old's parents love on her, take pictures with her and sing happy birthday to their quickly growing daughter. They love her with all their might. One day they will entrust her to a husband who they expect to love and protect her. 
A sober reality and heavy weight came upon me in that moment: I am raising men who will be husbands to these precious daughters one day. 

Moms and dads of our future daughter-in-laws: We are trying! We are trying hard to raise men who can physically and spiritually kill snakes that enter their home. We are trying hard to raise warriors for Christ. I am trying to be a mom who slowly, but surely teaches my son to get off the couch and fight, as I (unnaturally) remain perched, watching it unfold. 

Pray for your sons. It is no easy task to be a spiritual and physical leader/protector of the household. Although my 2 year old seems thrilled about the task at hand :) 

Oh and if you have suggestions about literally keeping snakes away, please feel free to inform us! 

Monday, March 17, 2014

February 2014

February was a short, but busy month for us!
For those of you new to my blog, I post collages every month. I don't post them because I think that you desire to know the silly details of our family life. I'm honestly sure that you could probably care less :) Instead, I post them because this here little blog will one day be printed into a book for my family to keep and these collages help me sort of "scrapbook."
So, as some bloggers say it:
"It's all for the sake of the blog book."
Our February 2014
Top Left: Happy Birthday Lee!! 27 years old. We had a "morning date" at Another Broken Egg :) It was lots of fun. Of course we had cupcakes too!
Middle picture: Valentine's Day! Lee did so good :) We had a limo, dinner and he took me to buy cowgirl boots.
Far Right: Easely Amused with coworkers!
Left again: Miller's first trip to the Dixie National Rodeo. He LOVED it!
The boys in cute hats! This winter has been miserably cold, so we might as well have fun with some hats!
Chip's baby dedication! Chip Henderson is our pastor in the photo. They let big brother Miller join us for prayer :)
And lastly, Miller's long awaited quilt came in!!
Just for fun... here was our collage from LAST February.
Don't blink, ya'll!! Time flies by!
The realization of how fast time passes is a blessing.
It helps me keep my eyes on eternity because the Bible tells us that we are "but a vapor." We are here today and gone tomorrow.
Don't let life slip by.
One day, whether you're a believer or not, you will come face to face with Jesus.
Be ready.

Awaiting His Promise

We are still here :) still waiting. 
The last few blogs I have displayed my weariness. And today I am happy to say that God has met me in my weariness. 
Don't get me wrong... I am still READY to see Malachi's face, but I am clinging to some things differently today. 

Miller is a sponge. He soaks up everything anyone desires to teach him. 
He gets so into the stories! 
So we've been learning about Noah's Ark. 

One day I was listening to Miller re-tell the story and he said "mama, I gotta go get my hammah and build dat boat! Pow. Pow!" (As he bangs on some toys). 

And it was in that moment I felt like God said, "I told Noah to build a boat. I promised the rain would come.
But Abby... You do understand that the rain didn't come for YEARS?! 
Like... LOTS of years. 
But Noah kept building. "

Then the story of Abraham and Sarah flashed in my mind.
God promised them a son, Isaac.

But that promise was not fulfilled until 25 years later. 

God has promised us a son from Africa.
I will be honest and say that it's hard to walk out that promise. 
Most of the time I feel like God is not going to hold up His end of the promise (like during the threats of Ethiopia shutting down).
I also am VERY tempted to take matters into my own hands like Sarah did when she told Abraham to have a son through Hagar. 

But God is telling us to wait. 

So waiting we are :-) 

I have been reading the Circle Maker. 

It talks about how to pray.

In one of the chapters, Mark Batterson re tells the story of when they were praying for a drummer for their church. 
Here is the paragraph from the book:

"We must have asked God for a drummer two hundred times. We just kept repeating the same request over and over again like a two-year-old toddler: Give us a drummer, give us a drummer, give us a drummer. Then one day, it was like God finally got tired of the broken record and said, if you want a drummer, why don't you go get a drum set? We had never thought about actually taking a step of faith as if God was going to answer our prayer. Why? Because we want the answer before we exercise our faith!"

Can I be honest? Unintentionally over the last few months I have turned my eyes away from any sort of purchases that would remind me of Malachi. 
Why? Because I was afraid that God wouldn't fulfill His promise and then I would be stuck looking at stuff that reminded me of it constantly. 

I realized how HARD it is to have tangible reminders of Malachi when I thought Ethiopia was shutting down. I would walk through my house and see various reminders. One particular day I walked past our countdown wall and my devastated emotions wanted to rip it down. (I refrained :-)) 
Then I opened the cabinet to get a plate and the first one I pulled down was a child's plate with Malachi's name on it. I quickly put it at the bottom of the pile because I could not bear to look at it. 
And that night, I plugged my phone in and there sat this stone. 

A reminder of the covenant that Lee and I made with The Lord 3 years ago now regarding this adoption. 

So... I withdrew. 

I didn't want another. Single. Reminder. 

Then as I read what Mark Batterson was saying, it was as if God whispered: 
"Abby, why don't you live like I'm gonna answer your prayers?"

So. I'm happy to say that I'm no longer turning my head to reminders. But instead I'm embracing them. 

Lee's sister had this map of Africa framed for us way back at the beginning of our journey. I had planned to put it in his room. 
Two days ago I was changing some decorations in my living room and I noticed this map tucked away in Chip's room. I grabbed it quickly and it looked PERFECT in this spot!
Right. Smack. In. The. Living. Room. 

Let me tell y'all! Only God. 

Three months ago I wouldn't have been able to look at that everyday. 

Last night I purchased this coffee mug. 

"Buna" (boo-na) is Amharic for coffee. Amharic is the language spoken in Ethiopia. 
In a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, coffee is made in a Jebena (coffee pot) and popcorn is also served. 
The back of the mug has a Jebena, some coffee beans and popcorn. 

We drink coffee daily during our quiet time. This mug will definitely get used!! 

God has promised us a son. 
3 years have passed. 
But, His faithfulness never ends. 
We eagerly anticipate the day when it is fulfilled.