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A New Heart

What a difference a year can make! One year ago, we had two new Americans who were learning English, how to eat American food with utensils, how to fit into a family with new brothers and a sister, and all the other things we take for granted (like flushing toilet paper, for example).  And we were learning about them. So last Easter was a blur, really.

But this Easter. Now that is a different story.

I did what any Christian, homeschooling mom would do. I incorporated the Biblical events leading up to the crucifixion into our morning devotionals the week between Palm Sunday and Easter. Now, we had read these stories before, but hearing them again in context with the rest of the story, made a huge impression. And we read from numerous different Bible story books and the Scriptures itself.

With a few crafts worked in here and there, of course.

And what transpired was another Easter miracle.

It begins as a prayer when your child is still in the womb, or still in your heart, as is the case with adoption.  That prayer for his or her salvation.

So regular have those prayers become, however, that when a child said on Tuesday “I want to be a believer”, I froze, and barely sputtered out the words “Let’s talk with Daddy tonight”.

And then it didn’t come up again until Saturday evening. But I know that the Lord had been working on her heart for much longer than that.

The three of us sat down after the other kids were in bed that night, and Mr. C. asked her “What does being a believer mean to you?”.

I held my breath. Would my new daughter, who admittedly can’t remember a single, darn thing, be able to answer that question??

But she did. And with clarity and understanding and desire.

And a miracle took place that night as Little Bit gave her life to Jesus.

She got a new heart.

And I got a new sister in Christ.

Yes, this Easter there was much to rejoice about!

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” John 11:25-26

Sisters on Easter Sunday morning.

Sweet Girl and Little Bit on Easter Sunday morning.

It is still raining.

And it has been raining for days and days and days.

We emptied the milk cartons. We ate all the bread. And the fresh fruit. And, well, just about everything else.

A trip to the grocery store was going to have to happen today, rain or no rain.

Our grocery store of choice was very crowded. I guess we weren’t the only ones that ran out of food before the sky ran out of water. It was also Wednesday. Senior Citizen’s Discount Day. And, to top it off, the threat of snow tonight brought out the rest of the county for milk and bread.

Near the yogurt and eggs, a sweet lady, who did not look or act her age in the least, came over and complimented the kids, asking if they had their buddy for the Buddy System, and other pleasant small talk. Which led to the question, “Are they adopted?”.

I smiled, nodded, and said with a chuckle, “How did you know?”.

She laughed, and asked the kids their names, and we had a very pleasant conversation about their adoptions and life in general.

She ended it with a warm “God bless you” and moved on.

A few of the kids quickly pointed out that we did not know her name. So I let two of them walk over to her and ask.

Oh the smiles! See, her name is Jodie, but everyone calls her “JoBob”.

As you can imagine, she is very young at heart. And a snazzy dresser, I might add.

Fast forward the remaining aisles, another pass or two with Ms. JoBob, and a friendly wave.

We got our milk. We got our bread. We even got some bacon.

Then we got in line to check out. And guess who got in line behind us?

That’s right.

And then she reached out to hand me something.

It was a gift card to the grocery store.

“You have a large family to feed. Let me help with your bill.”

Followed by another “God bless you”.

Thank you, Lord, for allowing our paths to cross today. Not because I had to have that financial help, thankfully, but because we were able to encourage and lift up each other on this otherwise dreary day.

What a beautiful blessing!

God bless you, too, Ms. JoBob.

Well, maybe today wasn’t THE first Thanksgiving, but we sure did talk a lot about Pilgrims and Indians! And for us, a new family of seven, it was THE first Thanksgiving. And in more ways that just one.

We had decided several weeks ago to stay in town for Thanksgiving this year.  You see, we often travel several hours out of state to visit Mr. C’s family, whom we all love. And we even have a new nephew that we haven’t met yet! But more important matters kept us home.

Mrs. C’s father had not been feeling well all summer, and it was finally found in late August that he had cancer. Thankfully, his doctor was able to get him in to see an oncologist very quickly, and chemo was started within days of the diagnosis. Fast forward to November, and he’s now had 4 rounds of chemo and his first scan since this all started. We won’t know the results of that scan until next week, but we are very optimistic and giving God the glory for great news in advance.

This is his “feel good” week, which really only means that he feels better than the other two weeks out of the cycle. And it’s the best time to be around others, assuming they are healthy. So we had hoped to be spending Thanksgiving with them.

But then, we aren’t healthy. And haven’t been for weeks. Mr. Quality Time had pneumonia, Mr. C. has been coughing for 6 weeks, and now the last 2 holdouts are sick: me and Sweet Girl.

That’s how we found ourselves home alone this Thanksgiving. And it’s not like we could invite our neighbors over. Who wants to see the hostess coughing over the food? Yeah, that’s what we thought, too.

So here we were, with a turkey in the fridge and big plans for…. just the seven of us.

Mr. C. took charge of the turkey, with my full blessing and gratitude! And I handled the rest. The point is, after all, not just the bountiful food. But the bountiful blessings. And we had two extra blessings this year that made all the rest pale in comparison.

And for the boy who loves chicken legs, the turkey leg was perfect!

We were also blessed with beautiful weather here in the South today. And since we needed to work off all that turkey and stuffing, we decided to start a new family tradition: Turkeys for Tennis!

Well, maybe not.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Ps 107:1

Anniversaries are meant to be celebrated. But sometimes life can get in the way, especially when it comes in the form of coughing, congested members of the family (myself now included). So this little anniversary was nearly forgotten in our struggle to breathe and feed the kids.

One year ago today, Mr. C, Mr. Quality Time, and I stood in the court yard of our adoption agency’s transitional home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with butterflies in our stomachs, waiting to meet the newest members of our family.

And one year ago today, we put our arms around our new son and daughter for the first time!

November 17, 2011

November 17, 2011

We sat down with them tonight to show them the full set of pictures. Everyone, even Little Bit herself, was surprised by how different she looked then versus now.

And then there are the things that only Mr. C and I would notice… like how she didn’t make eye contact most of the time, and seemed unaware of what was going on. She has come so far!!

There is soooo much I could say here about the Gospel.

About how Christ loves us even when we seem so unaware of His love and care for us.

But I think their smiling faces say it all…

Tacky Day at school. November 15, 2012

Another anniversary slipped by a few days ago. The last Friday of August marked the first anniversary of “the call”.

See, there are a few things that adoptive parents-to-be dream about. We dream about meeting our children for the first time. We dream about the friends and family that will be waiting at the airport when we return home.

But the first dream is the dream about “the call”.

And while we wanted two children from Ethiopia, we found our son on a waiting children’s list, and prayerfully decided to pursue him, even though there was no girl available at the time.

And we prayed that God would bring our daughter in time to be able to adopt both of them at the same time.

Nearly two months later, we were about to walk out the door on a date when the phone rang at 5:30pm on a Friday night.

It was “the call”! The one we had dreamed about and prayed for! There was a girl, with a heartbreaking story of loss and relinquishment, who literally came out of nowhere.

Because God knew this broken girl needed a family. And He choose ours.

And while there were pictures of our daughter smiling at the transition home among her new friends, the first pictures of her with us showed a scared and uncertain little girl.

Gotcha Day, February 26, 2012

But today, just six months later, she is spending the day running and laughing and being loud with her cousins, wearing the biggest, brightest smile.

The Cousins, Labor Day 2012

Because though the road is hard and long, she is learning what love is. And that the greatest love is from God, the kind of love where you lay down your life for someone else.  And she has seen that unconditional love from us (even through our mistakes). A love that isn’t based on her performance or attitude or actions. A love that just is, because Christ first loved us when we were yet sinners, and our performances, attitudes, and actions were ugly.

What a difference six months can make.

I may be a few weeks behind in updating the blog, but some things don’t need to be forgotten. Our newest son had a birthday in June, and while we might be celebrating eight years, it was, in reality, his first birthday. So we wanted to make it as special as could be.

We spent the big morning at Grandpa and Grammie’s house. What kid doesn’t like digging in the garden? And because Mr. Go is a hard worker, he jumped right in on the produce pickin’, too!

 The night of his birthday, Mr. C’s employer was having their company picnic at a nearby water park. Talk about hitting the gold mine! The kids LOVED it! And Mr. C. received a special honorary award for his hard work on a project.

The next morning was Saturday, and we treated the kids to a day trip to the Space & Rocket Center. As expected, Mr. Go thoroughly enjoyed his birthday trip through the journey of space exploration.

And it’s not a birthday without a CAKE! Meet his special request:

But that’s not all! Here’s a little known fact: Mr. Go shares a birthday with his cousin. Sunday was a family party for both the birthday kids.

Our birthday boy.

The other birthday honoree.

As for gifts, we wanted to make sure this birthday was special. Memorable. But we also didn’t want to overwhelm him or set a precedent that he would expect us to follow each year. I think we only succeeded in one of those! Because when Mr. C had a birthday the following month, our son didn’t understand why it was only one day long.

Here’s a picture of the two of them enjoying some time together with his most requested gift, roller blades:

As the Lord continues to graft our family together, there is serious glue in play when a birthday is involved. More than special trips or water parks, more than cake and gifts, we loved on him. We told him how much he means to us and how special he is to us.

And not just on his birthday, but every day of the year.

The smile on his face was worth it all.

Anniversary

One year ago tonight, while Mr. C and Mr. Quality Time were watching Stanley Cup finals, I decided to pull up our adoption agency’s list of waiting children. I had been putting if off during the paperwork process (which took SO long!) because I didn’t want to attach to a child when we had a long wait before us.

But we were finally nearing the end; our dossier would soon be ready.

I pulled up the web page and the second face I saw was this one:

His face captured my full attention. My entire being.

He looked… familiar.

I clicked on the picture to view more.

I’m sure I offered up some sort of prayer similar to this one:

“Lord, could this be? Could this be our son?”

And I waited for the hockey game to be over. Then I showed it to Mr. C.

I’ll be honest. I expected him to say that he wasn’t ready to be looking at referral pictures yet. Or worse, that he wouldn’t be drawn to this one at all.

But he was.

And he was.

And thus began several days of prayer over this face, this boy.

A few days later we asked our family coordinator if we could review his file.

Two weeks later, we said YES!

One year later, he completed swim lessons in the morning and we spent the afternoon swimming with friends.

Just another day.

With a family.

Our family.

Thank you, Lord, for prodding me to check the waiting children list one year ago tonight. And thank you for our precious son, who now sleeps in the next room and calls me Mommy.