Court Date for W!

We received news today that W will have his 5th court date on April 13th!  While we are so happy to hear that his case is moving again, we are bit overwhelmed with the timing!  If he passes on this date, it is very likely his embassy date will be right around the time baby Madden is due.  We are quite confident that the Lord knows all of this and we trust He will meet us in our time of need (i.e., I go into labor while Kevin is in Ethiopia!), but feel free to keep praying that we will continue to walk by faith and not by sight.

We are also praying through many different job possibilities for Kevin and hoping the Lord will soon provide a better financial situation for all these little ones He is bringing our way.  We humbly ask that you join with us in asking God to meet our upcoming monetary needs.  It really is incredible to look back over the last 16 months since we began our adoption journey and see the numerous ways God has meet all of our needs as they relate to the enlarging of our family.  And yet, as we look ahead to the next few months, we see more big financial needs ahead and it can be so tempting to become anxious or consumed with worry.  Pray that we would daily remember God’s great provision for us and keep looking to Him to supply our needs.

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Preparing for Resurrection Sunday

This morning, though both of our children were crazy in the pew, was such a helpful and encouraging morning of thinking about the resurrection of our Savior and why we should think more on the empty tomb.  We’ve definitely been thinking and talking a lot about Easter in our home the last week or so in hopes of preparing our children’s hearts as well as our own for next weekend’s celebration.  There are so many things I’d like to do with the kids (Noel Piper has a great idea in her book Treasuring God in our Traditions) but I’ve had to give myself grace this year and realize many of those activities will just have to wait until next year (when Lord willing we will not have just brought home a new child from Africa and I’m not 28 weeks pregnant and my two-year old isn’t going crazy from all of life’s adjustments!).  And, thankfully, the Lord ensured me this morning that even our humble efforts this year are being used by Him when our pastor began his sermon about the resurrection.  Molly Kate heard the words “He has risen” and promptly turned to me with joy across her face and said “Jesus is Risen! Mommy, we talked about that at home!”  Mikias also found great joy in finding the word “Jesus” in every song in our bulletin.  Little glimpses of ripening fruit that are oh so motivating to a very tired mommy!

So, our humble efforts this year to prepare little hearts have mostly included books about Jesus’ death and resurrection that we read in the mornings and in our evening family worship times.  I ordered a couple from Amazon and my sister’s precious mother-in-law sent us a great one as well!  Just in case you want to check some of them out:

The Very First Easter by Paul L. Maier
The Week That Led to Easter by Arch Books
The Day Jesus Died by Arch Books
The Story of the Empty Tomb by Arch Books
The Story of Easter by Gwen Ellis

**A note about Arch Books…our great friends recommended one of their books about the Christmas Story and we liked it so much that we decided to try our their Easter books as well.  So far, I have not been disappointed…the stories are very true to Scripture, they rhyme, and they are just short enough that Molly Kate doesn’t lose interest.  They are also very inexpensive!

Deeply Humbled

After a heart-wrenching week in Ethiopia, I must admit that the Lord has deeply humbled me this first week home with Mikias. Last week as we battled a very defiant and hardened little boy, I was certain that we were in store for a very difficult journey in parenting this young man.  And yet this week, in the beauty and comfort of our own home, the Lord has begun a wonderful work of weaving us together as a family and provided many tender moments of love and joy.  Mikias seems truly happy to be here with us and his little personality shines through a bit more with each passing day. Molly Kate is going through the normal transition that any only child does when the first sibling is introduced to the family, but I’m confident God is going to give her a deep-rooted love for her oldest brother and that these two will be cherished friends for a lifetime.  I’m well aware that we still have a long road ahead of us…his heart has been deeply broken and there is still much healing yet to take place.  But as Kevin and I sat on the patio tonight watching our children run around the backyard, laughing at each other fall out of the swings and just being downright silly together, I couldn’t help but smile and think “these are the moments I’ve been waiting for.”  How well worth the wait they are!

Siblings

Many friends have prayed Psalm 126 over us in the last year and I have often wondered when the tears we have sowed would one day reap laughter.  But oh, to hear the laughter in our home today…what beautiful music to this weary soul.  Molly Kate and Mikias have giggled and laughed and belted out song all day today!  Here’s a glimpse of their day together!

Play Dough after breakfast
Backyard play after lunch!
PJs and Popcorn

We are home…praise the Lord!

Where do I begin? First of all, I apologize for not being able to post during our trip…between the slow internet, the busy schedule and trying to conserve our laptop battery, posting to the blog was next to impossible!  But, after a very long weekend of traveling, we are finally home and happy to be under one roof!

There’s way more to say about our week than I could ever write in one post, so I’ll try to give a brief overview!  But first….a few pictures!  And yes, for those of you who don’t know, that is a baby bump…our little man Madden is due June 25th!

Headed to meet our boys!
United with Mikias!
Hanging out with Daddy
Ice Cream!
Dinner at Top View
Visiting St. Mary's Church on Mt. Etono
Meeting Molly Kate...big hugs!

We met both of the boys on Monday…talk about overwhelming!  We only had about 5 minutes with Mikias before we were taken to meet W, and Kevin and I both felt like it was hard to shower both boys with attention and affection like we wanted to because there was so much going on at one time.  Mikias warmed up to us quickly, though he was very quiet that first day.  W did not care for either of us at first, but eventually allowed me to cuddle him and on Wednesday, he took about an hour nap in my arms.  He is sweet little boy and I can’t wait to show him off!  Hopefully, we’ll have a court date soon!

Our week in Ethiopia was a mixture of enjoying seeing the city finally but also treading through rough waters with Mikias.  I also had the added stress of the pregnancy and missing Molly Kate terribly, so it wasn’t quite the week we had pictured.  On Tuesday, Mikias began to let his guard down more and in doing so, we began to see how much work we have cut out for us.  While he is a delightful little man most of the time, he despises authority and resists most of our efforts to be real parents to him.  Kevin said I hit the nail on the head on the way home when I said, “I think Mikias really just wanted to come to America to have food and toys…he could care less about relationships.”  Of course, we know the he needs these relationships and it is our prayer that as we parent him in the Lord’s ways, he will begin to see how much he has missed the affection and nurture of a family and come to treasure us as we treasure him.

We did have the wonderful and difficult opportunity of meeting his birth mom on Friday.  While I plan to keep much of this meeting private for Mikias’ sake, I will share that it was so insightful to have the time we did with her.  I learned more about our little boy’s heart in those 2 hours than I had the previous 96 that week.  He has carried some pretty big burdens in his life and it will take time for his heart to learn that we can be trusted and that we are always doing what is best for him.  His birth mom is a strong woman and has faced more difficulties in this life than I will ever know…I was humbled be her strength and the joy she showed in the midst of doing the hardest thing.

Our trip home could be summed up in one word…horrible.  Well, actually, it didn’t become horrible until we landed at JFK.  The long leg of our flight was pretty smooth and my body really did better then, than on the way over.  But once we hit US soil, everything went downhill.  Our flight to Cincinnati then Louisville was set to depart at 1:15 pm on Saturday.  At 2 pm, we finally boarded.  We then sat on the runway for the next 3 hours because of bad weather and when our plane was finally number one for take-off, our engine failed and we had to pull back to the gate.  Once we were back in the terminal, we learned that every flight out of JFK had been cancelled because of weather.  We began looking for flights for Sunday (I’m in tears at this point because all I wanted was to see Molly Kate and it was sinking in that it wasn’t going to happen for another day).  Every flight to Cincinnati for Sunday was already booked and it was possible we might get an 8 pm flight to Indy.  So, we made the decision to rent a car and just start driving.  We get on the Air Tran to take us to the car rentals and the train short-circuits.  We sat on the train for 30 minutes waiting to be repaired only to finally make it to the car rental area and learn that every single car at both New York airports had been rented.  Talk about feeling stranded!  We ended up getting a hotel room, but were almost afraid to get in the taxi for fear of even greater disaster!  Finally, late that evening, we began to see the Lord provide for us and we managed to get an 8:30 am flight on Sunday to Nashville.  Our dear friend, Brad Wheeler drove down to get us and we finally made it to Louisville at 3 pm.  I know one day we’ll look back on that adventure and laugh, but oh, was I annoyed!!

I was so ecstatic to see Molly Kate…she was sleeping at that Wheelers, so I went to wake her up and got the best hug ever!  She pulled away from me and the first words out of her mouth were “I want to see Kai” (her nickname for Mikias)!  We went upstairs to introduce these two new siblings and what a precious sight.  She ran and gave him her Lovey (a massive offering!) and ran back to me being shy.  I told her not to be afraid and that she could give him a hug, so she instantly ran and wrapped her arms around Mikias.  I think it was this moment that the joy I had been anticipating finally flooded my heart.  I had expected it when we met Mikias in Ethiopia, but because a big part of our family was still in Kentucky, being in Ethiopia felt somewhat empty.  Molly Kate has waited on her brother for as long as I have waited on my son and seeing all four of us finally together as a family brought a sense of completeness (even though I’m still ready for W to be here as well!).

Mikias has made huge improvements since we’ve been home the last 24 hours.  He and Molly Kate are thoroughly enjoying each other’s company and he’s much more eager to practice his English since we’ve been here.  It’s hilarious to hear Molly Kate keep repeating the words for him and to hear her practice Amharic words and phrases that she hears Kai saying.  He also seems to be understanding our authority a little better and is quicker to obey, especially since he is able to now see that we require the same things from Molly Kate.  Both of our kids love to sing, so this morning Molly Kate was singing “Old MacDonald” while Mikias was belting out the Leap Frog Letter song (as best he could anyways!)…all very beautiful sounds in my ears!

I know that we have a long way to go before life will ever feel somewhat normal…or until we arrive at our new normal!  I expect with W and Baby Madden arriving soon, it may be another year maybe more, before the hurdles and trials start to lessen.  But I’m also beginning to see that all the trials we’ve endured up to this point have most certainly been God’s hand shaping and preparing me for the really difficult stuff.  Yes, our life has been hard these last two years and God’s hand has been heavy upon us.  But now, He’s entrusted to me four little souls that desperately need the gospel and need to be made aware of their guiltiness before our Holy Judge.  The really hard stuff is actually just beginning…for raising these three men and one little lady will be by far the greatest endeavor of my life.  And as I encounter their sin every moment of every day, may God constantly remind me that I was the one who despised His authority and fled obedience and yet He pursued me relentlessly with the love of Christ.  May I be a mother who imitates such relentless love and pursues my children with the gospel of Christ.

We are in Ethiopia!!

Kevin and I arrived in Ethiopia a couple of hours ago, made it to our beautiful hotel (we have an awesome view!), ate some lunch and then took a 3 hour nap!  Oh, it was glorious to stretch out and not be cramped in an airplane seat trying to catch our z’s!  We just called our agency’s legal rep and found out we won’t be doing all of our paperwork until Tuesday morning…this means at 9 am tomorrow morning (1 am EST) we’ll head straight to the house where Mikias is and meet our son for the first time!

For all the bumps we’ve faced along this journey, our trip over has gone exceptionally smooth!  Right as we were finishing checking-in at the airport in Louisville, Dr. Russell Moore (author of Adopted for Life and a Senior VP at Southern Seminary) walked up to the Delta counter on his way to the Desiring God conference this weekend.  He was so excited for us to be heading out finally and prayed over us as we prepared to depart.  It was a very special beginning to our very special trip!  The flights were long, but we survived.  The overnight stay in Dubai was especially fun because we got to sit and visit with old friends, Jeremy and Melanie Yong who now live there.  It felt as almost no time had passed since we saw them last and yet so much as happened in both of our lives.  We enjoyed hearing of the many ways God has been working in their lives and just loved getting to see their faces!  We were also happy to crash on the hotel bed for a few hours before our flight this morning!  On the flight over today, I sat beside a beautiful Ethiopian woman named Genet (28 yrs old) who had been going to college and working outside of the her country for the last 7 years.  She was set to see her family today for the first time since she left 7 years ago.  I saw her face well up with emotion as we began our descent into Addis…she certainly shared my excitement and joy to finally be on Ethiopian soil!

I feel so overwhelmed by such a variety of emotions at the moment…I think more sleep will be good tonight to calm my heart a bit!  I miss Molly Kate terribly and had no idea being so far away from her would be so hard.  My friend Erin assures me she is doing great and having so much fun with her kiddos…yesterday the whole family went for a run with Brad pushing the two youngest girls in the double stroller.  At dinner Molly Kate said that was her favorite part of the day, so I know she’s content…thank you, Lord!

As you hit your pillows tonight, pray for our meeting tomorrow, that God would allow us fullness of joy and calm any fears Mikias might have…we’ll update as soon as we can!

Outside of the Dubai Airport this morning
The view from our room in Addis, Ethiopia