We Are Grafted In

Today I had the privilege of sharing one of our adoption posts at We Are Grafted In.  Feel free to jump over and check it out!  This is an amazing site that encourages those seeking to grow their families through adoption and I’ve gained great wisdom from several of the posts.  Thanks We Are Grafted In!

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Happy Birthday Mikias!

I can’t believe he’s 7 years old…it seems like time has flown by and the tiny Ethiopian boy we met just a year and a half ago has grown in countless ways…physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I love and adore Mikias with a depth that words could never express…he has a heart of gold (sinful, yes, but God’s graces are certainly evident!) and a personality that makes everyone take to him in a heartbeat.  Most days you wouldn’t know he’s not biologically mine…he’s warm, personable, smart and a true perfectionist!  I love that he is always eager and happy to serve, he rarely complains about anything and he deeply loves his brothers and sister. Just today Madden crawled over to where Mikias was lying on the floor and just laid his head on his big brother’s chest.  The children think the world of their oldest brother and he cares well for them as the protector and leader.  I continue to pray that God will make the gospel more understandable to him, particularly that Mikias would grieve his sin and turn to Jesus in true repentance.  I have every hope God is working out a great salvation!

Mikias asked for a pirate ship birthday cake this year…he has a Melissa and Doug treasure chest that he’s always enjoyed playing with and I think that’s where he got the idea!  This year we started the tradition that the children get to plan the entire day’s menu on their birthday and Mikias loved having such control!  We feasted on cheese omelets this morning, hot dogs for lunch and shrimp scampi this evening…a nice array of dishes!  After dinner we had two families over for cake, ice cream and of course…presents!  I know Mikias felt the love of our friends and family today…he couldn’t stop thanking us for his super-fun birthday!

As a side-note, if any of you have ever considered adopting an older child but you just aren’t sure…talk to me!  I really can’t imagine my life without Mikias…he has probably brought more to my life than I’ve brought to his!

Posing with his cake!
Prepping to blow out all those candles!
Madden LOVES birthday cake!
Very excited about his Star Wars Clone Trooper costume from Nana and Poppa!
Family Pic...too much going on for MK to focus on smiling!
Suited up and ready to fight!

A Good Work Fulfilled

Three years ago, Kevin and I began pouring every last second into thinking, researching and praying about adoption.  We became more and more certain that God was calling us to adopt a child from Ethiopia.  As the journey progressed, we found out He intended not one, but two sweet boys to be our sons and a certain verse became my theme:

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by faith.  2 Thessalonians 1:11

As our adoption journey drug on, I became more and more aware of how necessary God’s power would be to bring our boys home.  We knew He had prompted us by faith to adopt these children and so, in faith, we continued to trust that His power would prevail and the boys would one day be our children.  Yesterday, July 21, 2011, we stood in a family court here in Louisville, Kentucky to finalize our adoptions and we saw God’s good work fulfilled. The proceeding was more of a formality than anything else, but for me, it was a moment to worship.  My amazing God, the God of the universe, called little ole me to travel across an ocean and make two boys who were not my own my beloved sons.  He purposed, He called and He fulfilled.  Oh, how I love Him and how I praise Him for His power and His beautiful ways.

My precious family (officially!)!

No and No and No

I couldn’t resist sharing this story and it gives you a glimpse of my daily parenting (the highs and the lows!).  Yesterday I happened to walk by Madden’s room where all the children were playing together (for some reason they LOVE getting to play in Madden’s room with all the baby toys…not sure about that one!).  At any rate, just as I was walking by, I see Miles jumping off the big rocking chair and diving into the floor below. Well, jumping off the furniture is a big no-no at our house and all the kids know this rule (including Miles, though he forgets the rules more than any other kiddo).  He caught my eyes, knowing full well that he was going to be disciplined and so head down, he made his way to me and we headed into the bathroom (this is where all discipline in our home takes place, I think in part because I watched my friend Erin discipline her kids in the bathroom so it just seemed normal). I decided to take a little bit different route with Miles in the way I explained the gospel and why its important to obey Mommy.  The following conversation took place:

Me: Miles, do you want to go to heaven?

Miles: No (shaking his head).

Me: You don’t want to go to heaven and live with Jesus?

Miles: No (shaking his head even more).

Me: You don’t want to live with Jesus? (at this point I’m thinking I have just utterly failed him and he hates God because as God’s agents we expect him to obey and do what is right).

Miles: No.

Me: Why Miles?

Miles: Because I like you.

Can I just say my heart melted a little?  He totally thought I meant he  was going to have to leave our home to go live with Jesus now and given that he’s already had to make a major move once, he wasn’t about to agree to do that again!! Not even for Jesus!  I then explained that I wasn’t talking about now but one day when he died and that Mommy and Daddy would be in heaven with Jesus and that we ask him to obey because we know that as he learns to obey and submit to us, he will come to understand how to obey and submit to God.  And while Miles’ was still disciplined for jumping off the rocking chair, I couldn’t help but give him one extra hug for just being my child.  And though I feel like a failure most days and explode in sheer anger more frequently than I should, Miles loves me and wouldn’t trade living here with us, even for heaven (though we’ll have to work on this later!!).  Thank you Lord…that’s entirely more than I deserve.

Catching Up

Realizing that many of my readers simply like to know how we’re doing, I thought I’d give you all a little idea of what life in the Cuthbertson home has looked like the past six weeks or so.  March was a tough month for me…I’m the first to admit that I am just not cut out for cold, dreary winters.  I spent the first 23 years of my life (quite happily) enjoying sunny, not very cold, deep South winters and winter here in Louisville is just not my cup of tea.  Every March I usually hit some sort of depressional funk, forgetting that I hit the same funk at the same time the last six years and I get all worried that something is really wrong me.  Then April rolls around, the sun begins to beam again and almost instantly I feel my normal self return.  Then Kevin and I have a good laugh about my seasonal depression disorder and the fact that we can’t seem to remember from year to year what’s causing it!  On top of my funk, we were working round the clock to fix, clean and spruce up our dwelling place in hopes of listing it on the market by April 1st (though we didn’t officially list it until April 8th or so).  The hard physical labor of getting the house ready (at one point I was raking the leftover debris of leaves and dirt on our street down to the bottom of the hill so our street looks clean and not cluttered) on top of the regular work of homeschooling on top of beginning discipline with Madden on top of Molly Kate about to go nuts to go outside on top of my winter blues almost sent me to the crazy house.

But (and this is a big BUT), God remains faithful and blessed me by providing our much-needed vacation to the beach at literally just the right time.  Because Kevin and I had been working like mad people, we really hadn’t spent quality time together in months.  I was feeling so distant and withdrawn from him and I know he’s felt just plumb exhausted from working two jobs, traveling for one of those and coming home just to face his fix-up to-do list, which was very long on his end!  But, oh how the week away was exactly what we needed and I think I began every morning simply thanking my Father for meeting my needs so perfectly.  With five extra sets of hands, I had more than enough time to just relax and breathe.  I sat by the pool, took walks by the ocean, spent time with the Lord and supremely enjoyed having ample (and romantic) time with my hubby.  I think I had forgotten just how much I love him and how happy he makes me!

It was also sweet time for our family.  Again, I’ll be the first to admit that this past year, while full of blessing, has also been extremely difficult and adoption is not all peaches and roses.  It is hard work to fold two children not born of your womb into your family, especially when you add a newborn to the picture as well! In that way, being able to get away from our normal routine and just have time to hang out and play together was really therapeutic.  Mikias, who always feels the need to be right in the middle of everything and usually hates having to be by himself, actually withdrew several times, whether he was watching the Disney channel (a luxury for a kid whose family doesn’t have cable TV!) or just swimming around the pool.  I recognize this as huge growth and I think it to be healthy that he now feels secure enough to just be able to have some alone time.  He knows we want him around and he knows we’ll still be there when he re-joins us, yet he doesn’t feel the need to be glued to our sides all the time.  Miles, who I still feel like is coming along slowly, did make some major leaps while we were away.  He figured out how to “swim all by himself” with the help of these amazing back floaties.  We also celebrated his third birthday (though his actual b-day isn’t until May 10th) and being that this was his first ever birthday celebration, I think he felt truly loved by all the special attention.  Most importantly, we spent the week reflecting on the beautiful sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross and the power of His resurrection and I loved watching the minds of my little people reel with questions, thoughts, sorrow and joy as they contemplated Easter with us.

Now we’re home, and back in the regular swing of life.  I’m re-reading The Mission of Motherhood in my daily times with the Lord and am regularly seeing how impatient and selfish I am a mother.  Each day I’m imploring the Lord to help me sacrificially serve my children and not resent them for simply being young children. Pray that God would grant me a renewed joy in even the mundane daily tasks that are required of me as a mommy to four kiddos ages six and under.  We have 29 more days of home school (yes, I’m counting!) and I’m truly looking forward to a little summer break and just enjoying my kiddos in the beautiful outdoors.  Now that three of the four can swim without the help of an adult, I think we’ll be hitting up a pool regularly this summer!  We have another house showing tonight (feel free to pray our house will sell!). Kevin and I both are so excited about what God has for our future in ministry and are praying that God would make His path plain.

I hear footsteps which means I’m about to be needed by a little person on the potty…enjoy a few more pictures of our sweet trip to the beach.

Please Act!

I’m a bit out of the adoption loop these days as my days are so full of caring for my little ones.  But I received word from a dear friend, Alison, who is in the middle of an Ethiopian adoption that MOWA is planning to cut adoptions from Ethiopia by 90% beginning this Thursday.  Obviously, the Ethiopia program has had its fair share of corruption, but this solution is a bit on the drastic side and would greatly affect the number of children who may never receive a family.  The Joint Council on International Children’s Services (JCICS) has put together a petition to go directly to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia.  Please take the time to sign the petition HERE and please consider ways to spread the word quickly!  Yesterday marked one year ago that we finally met Mikias and Miles face-to-face.  And I remember all too well the countless number of faces I saw that week on children still longing for a family of their own.  Pray that God would move mightily in the decisions being made in Ethiopia and remain faithful as Father to the fatherless.