Wednesday, March 31, 2010

There's Not a Feast Under the Table

It’s Spring Break, and I’ve found myself struggling along this week.  On vacations, I have a tendency to take a vacation from everything, even the things that bring me life.   The daily things that bring me life:  quality time with Jesus, doing laundry, cooking, schedule (getting up really early), preparation.  Somewhere along the way, I’ve apparently decided that true vacations are vacations from all of the above.  I’ve been pretending we’re on a beach in Mexico, when we’re really in Illinois at home.  So I’ve been sleeping in...and missing my quiet times with the Lord, exercise and quietness before my family gets up.  I’ve not been cooking much...and we are eating out more, which was enjoyable the first night, but now everything tastes ick.  I’ve not exercised all week...and feel more tired.  I’ve not done laundry...and my husband did not have underwear this morning.  Yesterday we went into the city...and I didn’t prepare a backpack with all the things that make the day smoother for our family.  So my “vacation” has been dotted with fun family times, yet the small good things of life, the opportunities God gives me every day to bless my family...well, the lack of those good things has caused stress.   My lack of quietness with the Lord has left me unprepared for the day.  I’ve been snacking on The Bread of Life, crawling around for crumbs under the table, but I long for a really good feast.  
God, in His grace, gave me a gift yesterday, a kick in the pants to remind me about the One Who Dwells With Me.  Yesterday at the Museum of Science and Industry we saw an amazing IMAX movie called Hubble.  It’s about the incredible telescope, but it left me in awe.  In awe of God.  In awe of us, His creation.  He has made some people on this earth really brilliant.   The Hubble has captured images of space that give us a glimpse into the very mind of God.   He is creative.  He is beautiful.  His ways are perfect.  I was humbled.  That He would condescend to be a human on this earth, that He now takes up residence in my very human heart...after creating the endless, star-filled universe, so perfect in its nothing short of miraculous.
After the movie we moved on to the weather exhibit, which is man’s nice attempt at explaining tornados, tsunamis, rainbows, waves, etc.  A great exhibit, definitely, but there’s no comparison to the real thing.  

another imitation

people looking at imitation

my niece experiencing The Real in Lake Michigan in summertime

Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations,I will be exalted in the earth.  The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold.”  Psalm 46:10-11
Father, in my striving to “have fun,” I quickly lost my way.  Thank you for the reminder that you are God.  You are with me.  You are my stronghold.  When I strike off on my own, it doesn’t go so well.  Why do I do this?  You, in your mercy, haul me back to your heart and place my eyes back on the daily feast you have prepared for me.  You are the real, the absolute.  May I not fall for anything less today.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I am grateful for spring.  Even though it's been chilly this last few days, we've had sun, and I love sun.  I love the sun warming my car up for me before I get in and driving around with the windows cracked open.  We ran around a lot yesterday, me and the dog.  A friend at Re:new told me about a quilting shop, and so of course I needed to go, despite a list of ought-to-dos.  It was worth it.  I left with a bag full of different fabrics to make a couple of blankets (I hesitate to call what I do "quilting") and lots of ideas for the baby's room.  It's a dangerous sort of place, where the possibilities are endless, time all of a sudden limitless, and the beautiful fabrics calling my name.  Really, I was lucky to walk out with one bag.  Proud of myself actually.

My dining room table has been covered with sewing projects over the last few weeks.  Sewing projects and dust.  The basement is still under construction, most of the trim work completed.   Dusty Mess is what I would name my house right now, if it had a name.  Certainly not Peaceful Haven.   My kids have actually taken to living elsewhere, although they do come home for dinner and bedtime.  

About Re:new

I love sunshine and I love Re:new.  Those are my two blessings these last couple of weeks.  Of course I have more blessings, but these are the ones that are the extra gifts, the icing on the cake.  And to have both together at the same time, well, that's awesome.  

We moved into a new space last week (same building), and as we were hauling material and boxes onto very stubborn carts, maneuvering them through the hallways to our new space, the phone rang.  I was trying to hold onto a leaning tower of fabric and answer the phone at the same time, but when I saw the caller i.d., I forgot about the fabric.  It was Leigh Ann with IAG, one of my favorite people in the whole wide world right now, although I really don't know her a bit.  "Carissa, we have a court date!   April 7th!"  WHOO HOOOOO!!!!  That was my first reaction.  My second was to cry.  In the hallway with the leaning towers of fabric.   My fellow Re:new ladies celebrated with me, gave me hugs, and took a quick picture of remembrance.  How perfect that the Lord would have me receive the call there.

Since that day time has been faithfully passing, and I continue to pray.  I pray for my dear friend who has not yet received a court date.  My joy will not be complete on the court-date front as long as she doesn't have one!  God has interwoven our lives, the gift of a beautiful friendship with another mom of two boys(!!!) adopting a baby girl in the exact same orphanage(!!!) through IAG(!!!), and as we've lifted up our souls to the Lord in prayer together, He has yet again shown me His amazing grace... which is unmerited favor...undeserved.  He just loves to lavish good upon His beloved.   He didn't have to bring me this friend.  He wanted to.  Just like He chooses to bless the earth with sun on a chilly day.  Just like He chose to bring me into a circle of African women through Re:new.   Just like He chose to give us the gift of a baby girl.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
Psalm 103:1-5

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Husband

Today I was blessed by Ann Voskamp's post here.  My focus is so often on my wonderful kids, yet my partner in life was there before they were, will be here after they are gone.  He is my joy, constant and steadfast.   Yes, sometimes things get ugly, but God is always faithful to soften our hearts towards one another and pull us past those times.  Yes, I am blessed beyond measure.  Here is my man with his family (he loves us), a friend coaching baseball (he loves coaching and his friends), and my favorite of his crinkly eyes when he smiles:

Love is the greatest refreshment in life.  ~Pablo Picasso

Monday, March 22, 2010

In 16 Days...

In 16 days our sweet little baby will be ours!  We are praying that all the paperwork is in order and that we'll pass court the first time.  Sometimes people don't pass court because paperwork is missing from the file.  Court takes place in Ethiopia, and at this point it looks like we will not have to travel for the court date.  If we pass court, we will travel to get her in about 4 to 6 weeks from April 7th.   We are grateful to the Lord for caring about every detail of this adoption, each milestone precious and celebrated.  After we pass court, we can post pictures of her online, but not until then.  I can't wait to show everyone her beautiful face!!!  We received pictures yesterday from a family who recently traveled to the care center in Mekele.  Our care package we sent sits propped up above our baby's head, and she's sound asleep, oblivious to her visitors.   I cherish  these pictures, and we are forever grateful to the families who go before us and take over our care packages, love on our baby, and take pictures for us.

This last weekend, our dear friends added this sweet little one to their family:

Newborns are nothing short of a miracle.  We are so happy for them.  He's perfect, so tiny, so new.  So loved.  What blessed little guy!

Friday, March 19, 2010


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thoughts in the Waiting

We’ve been on a journey since fall.  Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens.   During the decision to adopt, we sifted through many questions...about ourselves, about adoption, about the unknown.  Your faithfulness stretches to the sky.  When Ethan was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes November 13th, we were grateful we didn’t have a child coming soon.  Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains.    Now we wait for her and it seems long.  Your justice flows like the ocean’s tide. And in another space of life...

Today I spend time with women who have journeyed hard and long to this strange place called America.   As the women sew and cut fabric, the languages are foreign, yet by now a familiar, sweet cadence in the background along with the hum of sewing machines.  Are they talking about what’s happening There, that place they call home?  Here, life is a sea of whiteness, my green eyes gazing into brown, seeking to understand for a small moment what it must be like.  I have not had the privilege of life spent in another place, another culture.  I grab what I can from brief hours with these women.  Today I grab this:    The spirited laughter of these women... the accomplishment of a cloth well sewn as the sun blazes through the windows of our tiny space... behind this two-hour stretch of time, this season, this place, these faces, there are stories untold. Husband and wife separated for so long.  Families ripped from the land on which they were born.  Children growing up without knowing about There.   Culture lost.    Crazy English struggles to come easily off the tongue.  On the way home, a sweet, quiet voice tells her story.  Another says, I get it.  What she got is something I will never get.   Never have I walked in such heart-wrenching difficult shoes.    Crying out to God to take away the hard and replace it with the good.  I go home and the other stuff fades.   
Waiting.  These women know all about waiting, know all too well how the best-laid plans somehow turn awry.  Six years waiting.  Ten years waiting.  Still waiting.
I will lift my voice
To worship You, my King
I will find my strength
In the shadow of your wings
From Your Love, O Lord by Third Day

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Life Notes and a Really Big Praise

~It's a new week!  I am praying we get a court date this week.  Apparently the children were just moved to a new building, and so our little one is in new surroundings.   The changes in Ethiopia are a little fuzzy.  Although most adoption agencies were made aware of the two-trip regulation, it has not been announced officially, and so our agency is waiting for more info.  Maybe it won't affect us?  I don't know. 
~Last night, God was faithful to protect.  After a sweet family night, we went to bed fairly early.   We heard the dog bark an hour or so later.   She rarely barks at anything at night because she sleeps like a log on her knole sofa downstairs (the sofa's not that great, an antique I can't get around to reupholstering).  I awoke and then started drifting back to sleep when Ethan walked in the room, said the dog woke him up and he felt low.  This has never happened at night.  He was in bad shape, with a BG of 40 something.  Ugh.  He drank OJ, ate two crackers with peanut butter, and a cookie before it was up to normal.  He said, mom, I might not have woke up in the morning.  He said it.  I was thinking it.  As I read in I John just yesterday:
...but the One Who was begotten of God carefully watches over and protects him...
Thank you, Lord.  What can we say?  I'm speechless.  Ethan, woozy as can be, actually laughed as we came down the stairs to the kitchen, mom, your underwear is really colorful.   It made him laugh, and for that I am grateful.   We sat there, me in my underwear and he with a mouthful of peanut butter and crackers, and laughed.    I love him.   Jesus knows.
~Our house is in disarray as the basement is being finished.  Stuff everywhere.  But it will all come together.  The dog jumps over three rolled-up rugs to get to her sleeping spot and I close my eyes when the workers tramp drywall dust through the house.  This too shall pass, and I will be organized with a place for everything.  I think.
~I am excited about the upcoming sale for Re:new.  It's in a couple of months, and the refugee ladies are going to be sewing lots of awesome stuff to sell.   These amazing women keep teaching me so much, way more than I teach them!  Their stories unfold over time, and I am touched.   
     As for God, His way is blameless;
         The word of the LORD is tried;
         He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. 
    For who is God, but the LORD?
         And who is a rock, except our God, 
    The God who girds me with strength
         And makes my way blameless? 
    He makes my feet like hinds' feet,
         And sets me upon my high places. Psalm 18:30-33

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ethiopia Makes Changes, I Cry, I'm Okay

Yesterday Ethiopia announced a major change in adoption procedure.  They are now requiring that families travel twice, the first time to appear at the court date to affirm their commitment to adopt the referred child, the second time to bring the child home.   It’s a positive change, I think, but I was really sad last night.  Sad because it was unexpected, not-really-official-but-verified information, and the thought of my baby being in the orphanage one more day than necessary breaks my heart.   The thoughts were really swirling...
what does this mean?  they say it’s going to take much longer?  but, wait, we’ll get to see her soon.  but then we have to leave her.  the tears fall.  my abba father, i know you’re in control.  i know you’re taking care of her, loving her beyond measure.  can’t i just stay in africa after the court date and wait for her there.  why not?  okay, it’s fine, it’s good, it’  to be so close, to be in the group of parents that are right. there.  almost there...and now a change.  
I am grateful for optimism.  My husband hugs me sweetly and says,  “before you know it, she’ll be home and we’ll be doing this all over again.”   My mom and dad call and give me a hug over the phone, a welcome conversation of truth and hope.  My friend Aimee and I talk it out.   I go to bed feeling hopeful, reminded that I dwell in the shadow of the Almighty, and He knows

I slept well last night, went for a walk this morning, and felt so much better.   The upshot is that this is a positive change in Ethiopian adoption, we’ll get to meet our sweet little one soon, because I know that the court date must be around the corner.  All good.  Here’s what I know:
From 1 John 4 and 5...
And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience), and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for usGod is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in Him...
There is no fear in love  -- dread does not exist; but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror!
We love Him, because He first loved us.
For whatever is born of God is victorious over the world; and this is the victory that conquers the world, even our faith.
Father, I pray that all of us on this crazy adoption road will understand the truth of these verses.  We will not fear, we will be victorious, because your heart breaks for these orphans and you long to bring them home.  You get that are hearts long to hold these babies.  The very idea of adoption is born of you.  You will provide extra money for the extra trip and be with us through every step of this process.  You will bless our little ones as we wait.  May we dwell and continue on this path in love, in You.   In Jesus’ name, Amen

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Good Day...And Hard Too

Today we received some hard news.  We’ve been praying and claiming that our little baby would be in our arms in May.  I’ve pictured her in her crib, or with us in the car, crammed between the two boys, the summer sun streaming through the windows.  Summertime’s about the pool, the boys in the big pool and she and I in the little pool, the one with all the little babies and crying toddlers learning to put their faces in the water.   I’ve been really looking forward to a summer with her in all the pictures.  

Today the sun broke through after several rainy days.  Not only did the sun break through, it was gloriously warm.  We celebrated by taking a walk to the popcorn shop with friends and throwing open the doors and windows.

Today was a Re:new day.  Sewing class is African voices mingling with Midwestern accents, made happy with Rebecca's banana muffins and laughter.   Togetherness.  Hope.

In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice;
In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.
But let all who take refuge in You be glad,
Let them ever sing for joy;
And may You shelter them,That those who love Your name may exult in You.
For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord,
You surround him with favor as with a shield.                              Psalm 5

Monday, March 8, 2010

Color Inspiration

House Beautiful.  They have a great series on color.  I’m inspired.
I love terra-cotta-ish colors.  BM Sienna Clay will be going on the basement walls in a week or two.  BM Starfish covers my hallways.  Imagine my dismay as I read the following quote, because I really can’t go to Roussillon anytime soon to get *the* pigment:
"Terra-cotta. You see it in nature and in bricks, but getting it in paint is nearly impossible. It looks too flat or too orange. You never capture the depth and warmth properly. The only way I know to get the right color is go to Roussillon, France. It's an amazing little medieval village in Languedoc, and the entire town is painted with this natural pigment that they mine out of the ground. They use it as a wash on stone, where it seeps in, and the colors range from this really rich yellow to this vibrant terra-cotta and every shade in between. It's a vision. You can buy the dry pigment and throw it into a paint recipe." —ANNIE SELKE

Sounds like a fascinating and beautiful place.  Maybe one day.  In the meantime, color inspiration for the baby’s room and my sewing nook:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Promise

We received a gift yesterday, a DVD of our sweet baby girl.  She’s in her crib with another sweet one, blinking away a pesky fly.  The nanny calls her name.  She smiles a fleeting smile.  I try to freeze the frame so I can linger on that smile, but the film is grainy, the lighting dim.  I’m left with that brief moment, willing the camera to show me more.  But it moves on.

Sunday was Cindy’s baby shower.  It was beautiful to see her surrounded by friends and all those sweet baby things, the anticipation of the coming baby vibrant in the air.  I won the prize for the mom with the youngest baby.  Someone else spoke my name when we were all asked,Who has the youngest baby?  I stumbled, I DO have the youngest baby!  So now I have a jeweled heart keychain as a symbol of this verse the Lord gave to me this week:
Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!    Luke 1:45
My lack of belief shows up in strange ways.  Someone else answered that question.  It should have been a confident, exuberant me.   As some drama swirls around our adoption agency this week, again I am challenged to choose faith over circumstances.   Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.  God has moved mountains so far in this sweet baby’s life, entwining her life with ours.  He will continue to do so.  NO MATTER WHAT.  And to calm my beating heartas my Aunt Trisha said yesterday, His grace abounds and covers all.   Just what Jesus has been trying to tell me, even in parking lots:

Abba Father, You love me...even when I falter in belief.  Thank you for your Holy Spirit, who guides me into all truth and builds, one block at a time, my foundation of faith in You, You alone.   You are Faithful and True.  I am blessed because I believe that what You have said to me will be accomplished.  You have ordained this adoption from the start, the imprint of Your mighty hand ALL OVER this process.  I praise You, Lord, for you are good.

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