Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Good Thing Given by God


My friend Aimee finally has her sweet daughter home.   This picture is so precious, a testimony of God's faithfulness to this wonderful family.  We have never even met face to face, yet God has given our families the gift of friendship, a bond made possible by the blood of Jesus uniting us as brothers and sisters in Christ.   
We received our referrals for our girls the very same day.   We labored in prayer together daily for our girls.  We prayed and claimed they would come home by the end of May (God said June), that we would be able to travel to ET together (God had other plans), that He would protect our daughters and give them peace (He did), and that we would trust God and lean on Him through every twist and turn.  We did trust Him...mostly.  We didn't understand at times the delays, failed court dates, why we couldn't travel together.  Sometimes I needed encouragement, especially during the failed court dates.  Aimee lifted me up and pointed to our sweet Savior, always pouring truth into my heart.  We rejoiced together when we both passed court, booked tickets and passed embassy.  
The Lord knows me better than I know myself.  He knew I needed someone to walk alongside me who would understand all too well each step of this journey.  But most of all He wanted me to pray...alone, with Aimee, with my family.  It was a spiritual battle, bringing our girls home.   God has not left His warriors to battle alone.   Now we experience the sweet victory.   God smiles down.  He had the victory all along...yet sometimes victory seems far off because of circumstances.  Our pastor today reminded us that faith is believing God's promises, God's perspective, and not our own limited perception of reality.  I'm grateful he provided people to remind me of that kind of faith throughout our adoption of Gia. 
I know that God weaves people together for His glory.  I wonder about Sena and Gia.  They are blessed to not only have each other, but also others who were in the same orphanage.   Babies from Alaska to California to Indiana to Florida...they were all together in Mekele.  One day this will matter to my daughter.   But in the near future, we hope to meet our dear friends in person and watch our boys play together and smile as we see our daughters reconnect.  I can't wait.  
My Heavenly Father, You alone are to be glorified and praised. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. (James 1:17)  You love to delight us with unexpected blessings.  Thank you for the gifts of friendship and prayer and faith.  May your children see You for who you ARE, the giver of all that is good and the Redeemer of all that is not.  In Jesus’ name, Amen


Friday, June 25, 2010

The Believer's Reality

A lot of people have been asking how things are going, are the boys transitioning well, how's the baby doing at night, are you getting sleep, etc.  I guess I didn't really have any expectations as to the answers to these questions.  I just knew God had ordained this sweet girl to be a part of our family and that He would be there for us through the transition.  I prayed for me to be okay.  I prayed for the boys to adjust.  I prayed for Gia to bond with us quickly.  When we considered adoption these past few years, I guess the questions we asked a lot, both out loud and in our private thoughts, went something like this:  Will we be okay if something goes wrong? Are we further complicating our life when things are sometimes complicated enough?  What if we're not prepared?  What if this hurts the boys in some way?
I'm glad the Lord, in His very patient grace and mercy, revealed to us the truth of our reluctant hearts, laid open and bare before Him, and slowly began the transformation of our reality into HIS reality -- the only one that matters.  Those questions became new questions.  Those questions still remained, but the more important questions had to be:  Is this His plan for us?  Does our family care about the orphans and widows and the poor and marginalized in our world?  Or do we care more about the American dream and not rocking that precarious boat of comfort?  What are WE going to do?  Is sponsoring one Compassion child enough?
Adoption is a challenging subject.  People say to me, I'm glad you're doing that.  It's not for us.  When I hear that, I think, Why is it not for you?  Do you think you're too old?  Too poor?  Is it not your calling?  When Jesus told us to care for widows and orphans, it was not a calling, but the reality of living out the heart of Jesus.   It is the reality of being a believer on an earth with over 100 million orphans.  It is the reality of being a Jesus follower to care and then to act...to do SOMETHING.
Now that we are home, my thoughts are already jumping to the What Next.   I know our daughter has only been home less than two weeks, but I cannot help but think about the orphans who were left behind, still waiting for their mommy and daddy to come take them home.  I think about the majority of beautiful Ethiopians who have little access to clean water and any sort of medical care.   I pray.
And in the now, the present, I rejoice.  Our daughter is home.  I soak in the smell of her skin and stare into her intensely beautiful eyes.  I cannot believe God has chosen to bless us so richly with this little one.  Her little heart is content, at home.  We could have never imagined the joy, the love, this child has brought to our sons and us.   What God has planned for her....I can only imagine.   I can only imagine what He has planned for those left in that orphanage while, at the same time, He is knocking on the door of someone's reluctant heart to consider adoption.
Adoption is a celebration:



Experiencing family: 
Ethan changes his first diaper and Christian feeds Giana!  

Only the dog isn't feeling the love...poor thing.



O LORD, you are my God; 
 I will exalt you and praise your name, 
    for in perfect faithfulness 
       you have done marvelous things, 
       things planned long ago.
Isaiah 25:1

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The First Days Together and Father's Day!

Little Giana is by my side now in her high chair.  Let's see how far I get.  In a matter of a week, Gia's flown halfway around the world, her first two teeth are breaking through, she changed to American formula (Good Start=yucky Similac=yummy),  she rolled from back to stomach for the first time (I think?), ate various veggies, is living in Illinois humidity, and after all that she now has a nice rash on her cheeks, but otherwise is adjusting very well.  She loves to talk.  A girl thing, my friends tell me.  She loves music.  She doesn't mind the dog.  She LOVES to be held.   Here's Ethan holding her:

We are trying our best to cocoon.  They (the "experts") say we're supposed to stay close to home the first month, that it's important for Giana to learn her new home and new family and bond.   Abuelita came this week!  Since the boys have had games almost every night and practice, etc., it has been a blessing to have her here.  Today we went for a bike ride along the prairie path with the boys.  I've been able to do some boy stuff while the baby stays with Abuelita...great because I am not too good at always staying in!   In fact, I'm not sure whether Gia thinks I'm her mom or Abuelita!  
She took her first walk around the block with Ethan and Abuelita: 
They said she was very serious on her walk.  Another thing that makes her serious is the camera.  All these months, we've seen only very serious pictures of Giana Helen.  Now we know why.  The minute a camera comes out, she gets very serious and stares with her big eyes.  I'm getting some smiling pictures, but most of them are wide-eyed looks like this:  
She loves food and loves chewing on the spoon more:
Giana, mommy loves having you in her arms: 


And daddy loves his girl...Father's Day with a daughter:


Our girl's beautiful smile:

Father, You are so good to us.  We have been blessed far beyond what we could have ever imagined.    Thank you, thank you for this sunny, beautiful Father's Day.  

Monday, June 14, 2010

Home!

when we met

in our hotel room a few minutes later in daddy's arms

Addis Ababa
Gia Helen with little girlfriend Sena at the orphanage

home sweet home

Gia is a delight.  Thank you for all your prayers.  Our trip was rich in so many ways.  We met many wonderful people throughout our journey, and we look forward to reconnecting with them one day.   Gia was a loved baby at the care center.  Her nanny cried when she said good bye to her, and it was very sweet moment.  God truly had favor on her and took care of her well, an answer to our many prayers.

So we're home!  She loves to be held...most of the time!!  I am not getting a whole lot done at this point, but hopefully we'll all be on the same time zone soon!  She's quick to smile, even when she's crying.   We are blessed to have our daughter home, the boys have been so sweet to her and helpful, and...I've gotta go!  I hear someone!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Time to Come home!!!!!

The time has come. Baby Gia will have her first plane ride and I just claim it's going to be a great one. Carissa emailed early this a.m.  She said the trip was great, the people were wonderful and she has many pictures and stories to share.

Christian and Ethan, get ready for the home coming; Mom and Dad and Gia are on their way!!!!!! I'm so thankful and excited that the Lord accomplished all this.  Let's get ready to give the DeAngelis family a huge welcome party!!!!! I will be there in spirit.

Psalm 5:12 For you O Lord will bless the righteous with favor you will surround him as with a shield.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dogs, Roosters and Singing, Oh My!!!

Another email from Carissa today!!!  They passed the embassy appointment; which we knew they would!!!! Yeah, Praise God, thank you Lord.  She said Helen is adjusting nicely, she loves her pacifier and is a very mellow baby.  While she and Helen were up in the night they were serenaded by howling dogs, a man singing at 4:00 a.m. and roosters.  Helen has been taking some good naps which I'm sure Carissa and Wiliam are enjoying too!!!
It's early Thursday morning so they will be leaving Friday for home soon to be  re-united with their beautiful boys Ethan and Christian!!!!
This family is so blessed and we are so happy for them. Please continue to pray for the remainder of their trip and a safe journey home. We thank you Lord for accomplishing this-we give you all the glory.
Stay tuned.................

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

It's here!!!!!!!!!! Gotcha Day

This is the email I received early this a.m, per Carissa, "They brought Helen to us this morning...she is beautiful. She gave me a big smile when I walking up to her, and then once I took her she was okay for one minute and then her cute face crumpled up and started to cry. The nannies started talking to her and gave me a bottle to give to her and she was she was okay. She loves William.
Praise God, after all these months, the race has been finished and Helen has been united with her family.
Carissa went on to say that they have been napping and walking around and tomorrow or the next day they will visit the care center.
It was hard to sleep last night as I was highly anticipating this news; I know family and friends will be so excited to meet Helen and congratulate the family. I am so thankful that we get to rejoice together in this wonderful celebration. Thank you Lord, thank you for being so faithful and guiding us through this whole process!!!!
I don't have any pictures but I'm sure Carissa has taken alot and will post them when she is home!!! Please continue to pray for their Embassy appt and their travels home. More to come!!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Landing in Addis

Carissa asked me to post on her blog while she and William traveled to Addis to bring home precious Giana. It is an honor and a blessing. We spoke Saturday night and she was at peace and so ready to go get her baby girl. What a gift to be at this place after experiencing the roller coaster of adoption.
I received an email from her this evening stating they had made it safely. Yeahhhhhhhhhhhh, Jimmy and I were so happy.
She said the flight went well and she said it was strange to see the desert out the window and then the mountains of Ethiopia. She said the care center where our girls are is in the city and tomorrow is the blessed day-she will be united with her daughter. All is well and it's so amazing to be here; sharing this experience with the DeAngelis family...stay tuned for more.   

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Out of Africa









Our bags are packed.  The boys are packed.  The house is in order somewhat.  Gia's room is ready.  It's been an emotional road with several twists and turns.  Yet God is faithful and true.  The time has finally come to bring our daughter home.  My friend Katie dropped a gift off yesterday, two books.   One of them is Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen.  The inscription reads: 
Dear Gia, May the beauty of Africa always be within you.  And may our sweet Savior be your delight.  With love, Miss Katie
I've never read the book and remember little about the movie.  I think of the movie and think beautiful.
I would have never guessed that I would be so entwined with Africa in the years to come.  True, it's only in the last year that Africa has been on my heart and mind almost every day, whether it be through my daughter or Re:new or reading the poignant words of Katie in Uganda, or pondering the words of Scripture.  And our sweet Savior's heart loves the people of Africa, loves my daughter, and He will indeed be the delight of Gia's heart.  This is only the very beginning of her journey, and her journey will forever be melded with this nation halfway across the world.  
So as we take her out of her birth country, I am both happy and sad.  Sad for the loss of her not growing up where she was born and all the wonderful things that accompany a person's birthplace...the land, the language, the culture, her birth family.  Yet I'm exceedingly happy and overjoyed that God had a different plan for her, a plan for her to be a part of our family, our nation, our culture.  Only God knows the overall design for her life, and He chose us to be her mom and dad.  Amazing.  We are blessed.  As we travel, I look forward to God opening my eyes further and seeing what He wants me to see.   What does He want me to see?  What does He want me to understand?  Only in a brief week (as my sweet friend who just came back from Uganda knows!) He can accomplish much in our hearts.
We ask for you to pray for our trip, that God would accomplish what He desires in our hearts.  We pray for safe travels and health for all of us.  We pray for favor at the Embassy on Wednesday as we answer questions.  We pray for safety for the boys and protection over their bodies, hearts and minds when we are gone.   We pray for a sweet time with the kids at the orphanage.   And for those first moments with Gia, those first couple of days and that flight home, that her precious heart will receive our love and trust us, knowing we are mommy and daddy...forever.
While we're away, I will try to e-mail updates, and my friend Aimee (who was supposed to join us on this trip, but is instead going in a couple weeks) will be blogging for me!   Thank you for praying!!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Packing!!!!

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