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Friday, February 29, 2008

Night Owl Seeks Reform

I have a confession to make! I've been staying up WAY too late for WAY too long now. I am working on several projects which require solitude so I can write among other things and the only time I can really get that is at night. All this burning the candle at both ends is too much and it's starting to catch up with me. The longer I stay in my late night pattern the more ingrained my night owl tendencies become and they are getting worse. I am naturally a "night" person and the problem is I don't want to be anymore. I want to be able to fall asleep before 1am. I want to be reformed!

Have any of you out there successfully made the switch from being a night owl to waking up and hour and a half hour earlier? (That is my goal ) Any tips for a person like myself?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

This Time Last Year

It's nearly Easter and it's a joyous time for our family. I am fresh back from a solo shopping spree to find the girls special Easter dresses. I found hats and gloves for $1 each at Target. What a steal!

While I was there I couldn't help but take a stroll past the clearance section to scan over the boys clothing. I would have purchased a ton of clothes but for the fact that I have no clue what age or size our little guy will be and there is a HUGE range between birth to 2 years old so I (barely) kept myself restrained. I whispered to my son below my breath that I was thinking of him and wishing him a Happy Easter, that I love him and I can't wait for the day that I can hold him close and tell him so IN PERSON.

Looking at the newborn layette's I also had to acknowledge my children in heaven. For those of you who might not know a year ago, this past Christmas Eve and this coming Easter, was the anniversary of our first and second miscarriages respectively. Yup, our holidays were definitely challenging but I am so thankful that through it all, through all of God's faithfulness, we were able still praise and find many things to be thankful for.

Tonight, I want to acknowledge our waiting children. The two waiting for us in heaven and the one who's waiting for us in Ethiopia. Just today I was cutting a friend's hair and we were talking about adoption and I found myself telling her that while I would have NEVER chosen to lose the babies I am grateful that the Lord used those events to draw us to a new line of thinking. One that reached further than we could imagine at the time.

We had always spoken of adoption in our future, but I have to be honest that I am not sure if we ever would have actually done it. I can't say for sure. It just seemed so much easier to have homegrown ones. Less paperwork and money needed. I wonder if we would have become lazy in that regard had we not been woken up. I don't ever want anyone to think that our adopted child (hopefully future children) are plan B because that would be SO WRONG of them to assume but I do credit our loss of Pumpkin and Bean for directing our hearts to the loss orphans suffer and the change the Lord brought about in our hearts which made inaction no longer an option for our family.

At roughly this time last year I wrote this post. In it I wrote that I looked forward to the day when I could write a post about the beauty that had arisen from the ashes of such sorrow and loss. Today I rejoice that I can indeed write such a post! Truly, I wouldn't trade God's sovereign plan for my own.

Dustin and I are still very much able to bear children (a question I get asked occasionally) though, for us, that isn't the point anymore. I can't express the richness this process of adoption has brought to our lives and how much we treasure all that God has been doing in us to bring this about. Adoption is definitely a process, or a journey if you like. Just like in homegrown pregnancy paper pregnancy has stages and processes we all have to work through. Never should we rush ahead to the finish line before the proper time (though often we may feel we want to). Adoption can be difficult and just like when a mother's belly swells a paper pregnant mommy may feel discomfort with the stretching that is going on. But growth is happening. Maturity is taking place. Miracles are in the works.

Sure, it would seem off hand that adoption takes more faith than having children by birth. I don't actually believe so. I actually believe that many of us take the birth process for granted and tend not to rely on God but instead tend to take Him for granted in many ways ( I know I am guilty of that!) simply because of the commonality of it all. After all you can look around and see how God manages to make families by birth everyday. Seems so ordinary. Parenthood is NOT ordinary EVER! We do well to remember that. We must always hold our children with open hands because they belong to God. There are risks in life. Some events just "feel" riskier than others but it is sheer arrogance and pride that causes us to take life for granted. A real failure to consider the blessing and miracle of it all.

In arriving at the decision to adopt Dustin and I feel very strongly that God asked us a question last Spring in the midst of grieving the loss of Bean, which was: "would you be willing to receive a child from my hand through adoption? Are you willing to sacrifice some things for adoption just as your adopted child has had to sacrifice many more things to be adopted? Will you trust that I can make a family any way I choose and that you can love in a deeper way and come to understand my love better through the adoption process?"

What was our answer? It was simply, "YES!"

I am so thankful that today God has caused Dustin and me to want no other child than the son He has planned for us from Ethiopia."

Glory! God is so good!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

You Could Live Without It

But why would you want to?

What am I speaking of? Well, it's Echo Prayer Manager of course. It's a free online service to help manage your prayer life and receive email reminders to pray. If you are anything like me you're finding your prayer list growing exponentially these days and this organizer is the help I was looking for!

My thanks to Kim for the heads up on this one!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Why do we go to Palm Valley?

Because the pastors do things like this (I love this one): Check out Pastors Ryan and Daniel spittin' the rhymes.

Nobody takes himself too seriously:


Oh friends such good news for today! Two families (that we know of) had successful court dates in Ethiopia and their children are now officially theirs!

Congrats to the Steiger's and to the Cole's!! All of them are the proud parents of stunningly beautiful daughters.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Oh My...

This is why we are called to get our hands dirty working to meet the needs of others in pain and need. Have a listen to this!!

A Happy Mess

I used to wonder if I was identity confused. Then, I took a personality test which confirmed it.

No, really. I got conflicting results.

I am both an introvert and an extrovert. I am Melancholy and Sanguine in one.

I like to believe that in actuality I am just a VERY complicated woman. My husband confirms it..... and so it must be true! I'm intricate, that's all. Who isn't? Therefore I believe that neither I, nor anyone else, can be summed up by some silly little personality test (okay that's the melancholy in me talking... the sanguine thinks they're just for fun.) Thankfully the good Lord "gets me" and often times untangles me. Praise!

Plain and simple: I have a difficult time answering questions about myself.Partly because I am pathetically unable to give simple answers to simple questions. (Hey people I have never claimed not to need an editor, you know this! I always admit to being wordy!) I don't have a single favorite color, song, movie ANYTHING. Not even food. It's just sad.

I can't narrow anything down to a single thing. You should hear the arguments that go on in my head when I first try. I've tried to be a one word answer kinda girl but I end up feeling like I'm in denial of the other parts of myself if I only list one item. Even when I try to list just a few things about myself it seems there are never enough words to satisfy the two conflicting parts of my personality at once.

I usually try to spare the world the drama and skip answering questions about myself. Today, despite everything withing me screaming that I shouldn't attempt this I'm going to attempt to tackle the questions that for most people are a breeze to answer.

The Sanguine in me would love to say that her favorite food is chocolate but Melancholy knows it's whatever she's in the mood for that is suitable to the occasion (don't even get started with Melancholy about healthy vs. yummy or she will be forced to retreat to someplace quiet and examine her deep longings for Giordano's pizza)

If it's movies we're talking about Sanguine wants you to know Pride and Prejudice or anything Jane Austen works for her. Yet, Melancholy votes Saving Private Ryan and asks her dear husband not to remind the reader of the fact that he busted her at 1am last week watching said film with tears streaming and in hysterics, to which she could only reply, "I HATE this movie!"

"Then come to bed." Hubby gently suggested.

"NO! I can't!! I HAVE to watch it through the end." (for the umteenth time)

My kids often ask me what my favorite color is. Even that is a tough one for me to answer. I like them all. I don't have a favorite. I am drawn to bright colors. My home is painted with lively hues. Though, when it comes to clothes, Melancholy usually does the shopping. Consequently I wear a lot of black and neutrals.

My music taste varies greatly. There isn't a genre I don't have a favorite artist in. Melancholy loves songs like Not Dark Yet by Bob Dylan or How's The World Treating You by Alison Krauss and James Taylor,

Sanguine wants you to know she thinks the world is a brighter place because Ralph Thamar's music is in it (my favorite song Mi Se La isn't on YouTube but here's a taste of why I adore this man) She also adores English Beat's Save It For Later.

Oh there's more but Sanguine just got bored and is looking for someone to talk to, while Melancholy will be thinking over these things for the rest of the night.

Oh what a mess. I gotta be brave to own up to this stuff.

Memory Verse

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives,
and release from darkness for the prisoners....

Isaiah 61:1

Ah that's a good one to remember, isn't it! BTW I am loving the Breaking Free study. Good stuff.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Helpful Thing

A friend turned me on to this site a while ago which provides a VERY useful service to blog addicts like myself. So I thought I would share. It's and it's awesome! What a time saver. You can go there and subscribe to all your favorite blogs. Then, whenever you check back in you can see exactly who has new entries and in so doing NOT waste any more time than necessary running around to all your fav blogs to see if anything new has been posted.

Sorry I've been holding out on you so long. I meant to post about this a long time ago! If you do go there you know you simply must add me to your feeds!!! And if you blog you've got to know you're already in there on my end! hehe


New Study Begins in T minus

6hrs. 45 mins. Wahhh hoooo! Can't wait!

Yes friends, I've joined a new Bible study class this Spring and it's (drum roll please) another Beth Moore study. (anyone who wants to give me trouble about this just hear me out. I don't have a mentor in my life at the moment though I have been praying for one for a long time. I figure Beth Moore is a woman I want to emulate and so if her studies help me grow then I see no reason I can't make her my mentor until one is brought to me! She's a wise teacher and I have no problem gaining from her experiences.) It called Breaking Free. I am not entirely sure what the Lord will lead me to break free of this study BUT I am convinced that with my current focus being directed toward a fasted lifestyle there will be much relevance in the study for me. I am super excited about this one as I have heard MANY testimonies of the ministry that has come out of the study in the lives of women all over the world (you can read those at the LPM blog archives.

My freind Brooke and I will likely be Kim's most roudy "students" but we'll try to contain ourselves, lest the BF group want to break free of us! HEHE

PS- my spell check has not been working for quite a while. I am the QUEEN of typos. I try to go through and look my posts over but I must apologize as I have missed many. I don't know what the deal is so please bear with me!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunday Night Reflections

This was a great weekend in our home. Once our youngest got over the particularly nasty stomach bug she had been wrestling with the latter part of the week things were lovely. We had some good family fun time together. My dear husband has been on a romantic streak to knock my socks off, (gotta love it) and now everyone in the house is soundly asleep leaving me with my thoughts after a full and blessed weekend.

My loving mom bought me a book for Valentine's day called Celebration of Discipline. I am in love with it already. Not because I've read THAT much of it, but I sense that it was a devine gift, and a timely one at that.

I read a phrase on a web site a while ago and it has really stuck with me since then. It's a phrase that sometimes when mentioned in the presence of others can cause reactions ranging from total agreement to utter distain.

What am I speaking of? A "fasted lifestyle". That dainty two word phrase has been rolling around in my head, in a continous loop, for weeks now. I came across that as I was reading about the mission of the International House of Prayer which is connected with The Call prayer events held nationally. Those two words just rip right through me. Hmmmmm, wonder if that is conviction ;) I had NOT lived the most fasted of lifestyles in my youth and the longer I have been growing in my walk with Christ the more it actually becomes appealing to me to shed off anything which might slow me down in my race.... hence, the appeal of a fasted lifestlye (and then, the not so great appeal of a fasted lifestyle when my flesh begins to consider the cost!)

So, as I have been thinking about a fasted lifestyle and what in the goodness that would even mean played out in my life I receive this book from dear 'ole mom. Some highlights from the first 10 pages that have me thinking vigorously this night:

The moment we feel we can succeed and attain victory over sin by the strength of our will alone is the moment we are worshipping the will. Isn't it ironic that Paul looks at our most strenous efforts in the spiritual walk and calls them idolotry, "will worship"? ( Here the author references Col. 2:20-23 KJV) (Celebration of Discipline pg. 5)

The will has the same deficiency as the law- it can only deal with externals. It is incapable of bringing about the necessary transformation of the inner spirit. (Celebration... pg.6)

The Disciplines (here the author refers to the classical spiritual Disciplines) allow us to place ourselves before God so that He can transform us. (Celebration... pg.7)

Ah, so you see, I am mulling over all these things, knowing in my heart that God is calling me deeper. Desiring to answer the call. Jumping up in my flesh to try to make that happen, and then settling down in the Spirit to wait for Him to do the transformative work in my heart and soul the way only He can. I definitely don't want to go about striving in will worship, and I am not keen on treating myself poorly for naught! I am however, seriously up for pursuing God wholeheartedly... WHATEVER it takes! (Luke 11:9-10 AMP)

Well, I leave you chewing on Paul's words, only this time with the Amplified Version ( I am such a wordy girl and I do so love the Amp version! hehe)

Col. 2:20-23:
20If then you have died with Christ to material ways of looking at things and have escaped from the world's crude and elemental notions and teachings of externalism, why do you live as if you still belong to the world? [Why do you submit to rules and regulations?--such as]
21Do not handle [this], Do not taste [that], Do not even touch [them],
22Referring to things all of which perish with being used. To do this is to follow human precepts and doctrines.
23Such [practices] have indeed the outward appearance [that popularly passes] for wisdom, in promoting self-imposed rigor of devotion and delight in self-humiliation and severity of discipline of the body, but they are of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh (the lower nature). [Instead, they do not honor God but serve only to indulge the flesh.]

Monday, February 11, 2008

What Happens Next

In case you are wondering, dear friends, what will happen next as our dossier makes it's way over in Ethiopia I have posted bits of info gleaned from the Department of State web site on intercountry adoption. Here's how things should happen from here on out:

Step One - Prospective adoptive parents must take or send all of the required documents, already certified and authenticated, to the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C. for additional authentication. Once the Embassy has completed its authentication, the completed packet is returned to the adoptive parents. Then the prospective adoptive parents forward the documents to:Ministry Of Women’s Affairs (MOWA) MOWA reviews the documents for completeness and creates a dossier on the adoptive parent(s).

Step Two - The parents’ dossier is taken to the Claims and Authentication Section of the Protocol Office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia to be authenticated. There is a fee for authentication stamps; the stamps are affixed to the dossier. The fee is 300 Ethiopian birr per document.

Step Three - The parents’ dossier is returned to CYAO. CYAO will then affix a summary sheet, on which will be noted items such as court decisions, background data on the adopted child or children, and the names of Adoption Committee members who will complete the form at a later date (see below). At this point, for private adoptions only, MOWA usually asks the U.S. Embassy to provide a letter of support for the adoptive parents. These letters are provided, free of charge, only after the U.S. Embassy has received directly from USCIS a notice of I-600A or I-600 petition approval for the adoptive parent(s).

Step Four - CYAO submits the parents’ dossier to the Adoption Committee for review and approval to adopt. The Adoption Committee meets periodically, sometimes as often as every week, to review cases. The Committee either approves or rejects the prospective adoptive parent(s), based on Ethiopian guidelines for international adoptions. Given the volume of work before the Committee, it can take weeks before the Committee reviews a dossier. Further investigation into the parents' qualifications is done if deemed necessary, and a recommendation is made. Only if all the members of the committee agree, and sign the recommendation, is the request approved.

Step Five - Once the Committee has approved the parents’ dossier, a child is selected and referred to the prospective parents to adopt, according to the parents’ preferences for age and sex. The child selected must have its own dossier at MOWA. That dossier describes the child, the child's history, how the child came to be an orphan, and who has legal guardianship of the child. Once a referral is made, the prospective adoptive parent may accept or refuse the referral.

Step Six - Upon acceptance of the referral, a Contract of Adoption is signed between the child's legal guardian and the adoptive parent(s), or the agency representative. If the legal guardian is also the agency that is processing the adoption, another licensed orphanage can sign on behalf of the child. This contract is the basis for the issuance of the adoption decree, which shows that the guardian or the orphanage has relinquished their parental or guardian right in regard to the adopted child. The contract must be taken to the Inland Revenue Administration office to be stamped. There is a nominal fee.

Step Seven - CYAO opens a file at the Federal First Instance Court to apply for an appointment date for the adoption hearing. The court date could be one to two months from the date of filing. The Court generally is closed between three and twelve weeks between July and October. The dates change every year.

Step Eight - A notice seeking any other claimants to the child is published in the local press stating the child's name and the name of the adopting parents. Anyone opposed to the adoption is requested to appear at MOWA by a certain date and time.

Step Nine - When the appointed court date arrives, the prospective parents or their agency's local representative will be asked to appear in court. Final decisions can be handed down quickly, but delays of weeks are not uncommon. Adoptive parents must obtain at least two originals of the court decree. One will be retained by MOWA and one must be submitted to the U.S. Embassy for the visa application. The original submitted to the Embassy will be returned to the parents.

Step Ten - After the adoption is complete, MOWA prepares a request to the city of Addis Ababa for the issuance of a new birth certificate, and a request to the Office of Security, Immigration and Refugee Affairs for an Ethiopian passport for the child in its new name. Both of these are best facilitated if the requests are hand-carried to the relevant offices. The U.S. Embassy needs both the new birth certificate and the passport to complete the child's U.S. immigrant visa application process.

Step Eleven - The court decree must be translated into English. The original and the translation are submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) for authentication. The authentication stamp, seals and signature are placed on the back of the translation. If the adoption contract was made in Amharic, it too must be translated into English and the original translation authenticated by MOFA.

About Due for a Ramdom Post

Here's another post full of random-ness!

We had a full weekend! It was a blast, but wow. Busy.

Our friends are visiting from Las Vegas (staying at our other friends' home) and so we spent a good portion of the weekend haning out with them. It's good fun catching up and watching our kids play together.

Today began our two week break from home school. (We school six weeks on, two weeks off) and so we met our friends at a local park. The kids had a great time.

Lately I haven't been sleeping well. I am good and tired yet I can't seem to fall asleep. Last night I didn't fall asleep before 2am. Something's gotta give people! I am turning into a zombie here. At least I don't have to teach school this week.

Our dossier was delivered. Or so says FedEX. I am not sure if that means our agency's rep picked it up or if it's been released to the FedEx office for pickup at any time. It's there, that's what I care about.

We received the copies of the authenticated documents from the Dept. of State today which had Condi Rice's signature on them. That was fun. Although I must say, it wasn't ledgible and sure didn't look like what I expected her signature to look like. Kinda messy. Just MHO!

Got a crib for our boy this weekend too. Our dearest friends gave us the crib their son grew out of. It's really nice and after we've assembled it I will post a pic of it with the crib bedding that was also given to us by some (other) dear friends. The bedding is safari theme and is exactly what we had in mind to purchase ourselves. The bedding looks brand new. I can't believe their two boys ever used them. The set is immaculate! What a blessing!

Ok enough random fun for tonight!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ticker changed... yup, you guessed it, AGAIN

Guess what. Our number in line for a referral is 59. AWAA goes by when they receive your dossier at corporate. I am not sure if that is back to our original Jan 7th date or the Jan 27th date but I am going to just go ahead and put it for the 7th. I like that date so well simply because it's a nice even number when combined with the date we began this adoption process with our application sent in online to AWAA May 7, 2007. It makes things easier and I am not going to freak over a few days.

I know the Lord will have that referral land in our laps just exactly when He's good and ready. I admit, though, that it feels good to be in line and know our place in it.

All the families at our agency are so supportive of each other. I am amazed at the level of support and encouragement that is offered all around. I don't think any of us looks at each other as competetion (what a blessing!) but more like family. We are all pulling for each other. Praying, fasting, hoping and finally rejoicing for each other!

Whenever a referral is handed down we are simply beside ourselves with excitement. And, don't even get us started on successful court dates! Those mean pictures! Oh, and LOTS of tears of joy! If only you could see our YG. It's so loving and Christ honoring. Oh that all the world could share in what we are blessed to have going on in the AWAA Yahoo Group!

Successful Landing!

It's there people. Our dossier has landed in Ethiopia. I can't believe it aactaully made it. And quickly too. Look:

Feb 7, 2008
12:00 AM
Int'l shipment release

12:00 AM
Held at FedEx location for recipient pickup


Also some really fabulous news for two families with AWAA who had successful court dates this week. The Harpolds and the Wengers kids have cleared the courts. Praise!

We remain in prayer for tomorrow's court dates for five families who received referrals on Oct. 16th. Yes, they've had a LONG wait and we are hoping and praying with all our hearts that it will be over soon!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Tracking THE package

Here's the latest on the world travels of our Dossier:

Feb 5, 2008
8:32 PM
Departed FedEx location

7:50 PM
Arrived at FedEx location

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Package Has left the Building

Our Dossier has in fact been mailed off from our agency's corporate office today. I will be tracking THE package until it lands safely in ET. All prayers for the safe delivery of said package are much apprecited.

It should take approximately one week before it lands. Then, we will be able to breathe a sigh of relief that it has made the trip safely. After that we can officially begin the official wait for a referral.

I wrote a song today. One of the verses says: These waiting days surely have an end.
Today I can sense that one day the end will come. So I am strapping in and holding fast to the Lord.