Ephesians 6:13-17

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I'm back!

We have had 6 good days in a row, and I am feeling inspired to get back on here now and start recording some of the things that are happening in our lives....
I feel sad saying this, but I couldn't think of anything very positive to say the past couple of months....I am not saying that my life is a mess and everything is horrible.....I have SO much to be thankful for, and I am!!! I am just saying, that the main purpose of this blog was to record the details of this adoption, and I couldn't bring myself to just sit here and type out all the negative things that were happening and all the discouraging feelings that I was feeling in my heart. I dumped all of that on my husband, the Lord, and my family every day....I didn't want to type it all out too. It has been hard.....right now even as I type, I keep "backspacing" and starting sentences over and over again, because it is hard to put into words what I feel. I am not sure who is going to be reading this, and so many things said or explained can be taken the wrong way by people who have not been in this exact situation. This is yet another reason why I have decided that this blog will only be to share the joys in great detail and only touch on the negatives vaguely.
Once again I was taken to the place that God wants us to be....in FULL reliance of Him. I was praying every day, and I thought I was letting God take control, but looking back now, my prayers were clouded with mixed emotions and intentions. I broke down last week....I surrendered....I needed peace and confidence..... Throwing all of this in His lap has done that for me. Not only do I have peace and confidence, Hailu has had 6 good days in a row!!! This is HUGE!! Issues have come up throughout the day, but he has responded well and seems to be "getting over" things pretty quickly. Things that put him in a HORRIBLE mood for hours before, are now only causing a short pouting session. We are FINALLY seeing progress and growth, and all the thanks goes to God! I know that we haven't "arrived" yet, but at least for now, we are getting a break from the stress and God is allowing us the gift of a happy, pleasant child. God has also placed the right people at the right time in my life.....my recent conversation with a friend who has been through the same things, had a big impact on my outlook also. Thanks so much Traci!
Now that things have been so positive, I have wanted to venture out and do some fun things with the boys. Here is a glimpse of some of the fun we have had recently.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hailu's Beautiful New Teeth!


Here are the photos as promised! Once again, we are are so thankful that the Lord provided this opportunity for us to be able to do this for Hailu!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I looked out the window the other day and had to grab my camera to capture this sweet moment....I wasn't exactly sure at the time what they were looking at, or what they were saying, but they just looked so cute, I had to snap a few shots. I later found out that they were looking at the clouds and spotting "shapes" of all different things.
This was a refreshing moment in the midst of the many challenges we have faced with Hailu the past 2 weeks.
His sadness and frustration is coming out in many negative ways now.....sarcasm, greed, disrespect...he is argumentative, moody, and just simply hard to be around sometimes. It is such a comfort to me to know that ALL of this is completely normal and that many other parents have been through the same thing (some, even worse!).......and that it WILL get better. So many different emotions are flowing through me throughout the day and it is so draining.
November 11th

I started this post on the 31st of October, and I am just now getting back to finish......
I am pleased to say that things have gotten so much better in the past couple of weeks. I had some long talks with a few friends that gave me such encouragement and good advice! Thanks Shannon, Ajay and Misiker! These pep-talks gave me the boost I needed to really get cracking on some discipline and adjustments in how I approached Hailu. The fact that he is really learning english well is helping also! Now when we have a discussion about his attitude or his behavior, he actually is understanding. Our days are not without challenges.....but the difference now, is that I am ending the day feeling like much has been accomplished, instead of feeling defeated and discouraged.
Hailu had an episode on Sunday evening that gave Mike a clear picture of the attitude I am dealing with on a daily basis while he is at work. As stressful as it was, I can now look back and thank the Lord for this opportunity for Mike to be involved in the correction and instruction right then and there.....instead of after the fact. I let him handle it all, and he did an amazing job with it! The next morning, Hailu woke up very apprehensive to face me.....he and Mike had settled things, but he was unsure about my feelings still. I immediately approached him as soon as he finally came downstairs, and after a short discussion, he told me that he was sorry....I told him that I forgave him and that I loved him....and that it was now finished.....a new day, let's move on...... Well, ever since then, I can't even count the amount of times he hugs me tightly during the day and tells me he loves me! I am not sure if it is his way of saying he is really sorry, or if he is finally realizing that we actually do love him. All I do know is that he is obviously has had something in his mind and heart change. He is trying so hard to have a good attitude during our school day, and is happy to let me make the choices now. He may not always like my choice, but he hasn't been arguing it.
I really feel like in so many ways he is like a toddler, and then he has a side of him that is so mature. I think this has been why it has been so hard to figure out how to approach and discipline each issue. He doesn't remember ever having parents, so we are his first experience with this. There are so many things that we are having to teach him, that we taught Isaac when he was 2 or 3 years old. He has had discipline his whole life.....but it is obvious that he hasn't had the instruction and love behind that discipline. He is testing the waters and today was no exception to that, but with God's help I am ending each day feeling positive and looking forward to tomorrow, instead of dreading it.
On to some fun stuff, before I end this post. Last week I tried to make injera for the first time....The photo and video will speak for themselves. I am not going to give up! Hailu was so sweet and he encouraged me to practice....he said that all the ladies in Ethiopia had to practice! I think he really appreciated me trying. After I took that video, he came in and told me again that I did so good and that maybe I just need a good pan to cook it in.....ha ha.....I think that he may be right.....yes, I will blame it on the pan!

Last exciting tidbit.....Hailu has begun to get his teeth fixed!! Long story short, the Lord provided this wonderful dentist that has a huge heart for adoption and for Hailu. He is going to bond Hailu's top six teeth and fill his cavities for an unbelievably low amount of money! It is truly a gift from God, and we are so thankful and happy for Hailu. He got his front two teeth done on Tuesday....he sat in the chair for 2 hours, he even got novocaine....and he didn't complain once! Those two teeth look beautiful! He looks a bit like a bunny right now, ha ha because they stand out so much amongst the other teeth, but I can see that when the others are done, he is going to have a gorgeous smile. I told my sister-in-law the other day, that as happy as I am for him, it kind of makes me a little sad too....I had gotten used to that sweet smile just the way it was and it almost became endearing to me. That was HIM......he was already my handsome little guy! Fixing these teeth is totally for him and I can see that he is SO happy, so I am glad that we are doing it. We go back on Tuesday again.....hopefully the final 4 will be done then. I will post photos afterwards.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Surrounded with love...but still feeling alone

I think that "the mourning process" has started with Hailu. We were told that every child goes through this at some point.....At some point they mourn the loss of their country, their friends, family, culture etc... He is so happy most of the time, but certain comments, or questions he has brought up lately have cut so deep into my heart. It isn't necessarily what he says or asks, it is the feelings that I know he must have behind those comments or questions. He asked if we could go back to Ethiopia one day and then come back to America again. He said "I miss it"...... I sometimes feel so sad that he had to leave Ethiopia and start all over. Overall, it sounds like he really enjoyed his life. He has told us so many stories about the fun he had with friends and all the people that he loved and that loved him. He speaks so fondly of the simple things he had in his life.....he treasures his memories. I honestly think that the only thing that was "missing" was a Mom and Dad. Sure, he didn't own a toothbrush, he tells us that he never took a shower or bath before the orphanage....(he just went swimming)...his clothes were tattered and dirty....but he was happy, or at least this is what he tells us. I have to remind myself that God has absolutely, without a doubt, had his hand in this adoption and that He has had Hailu's life and ours all planned out from the very beginning. What we see and understand could be very different than what God has in mind. For this reason, I just have to continually commit this all to Him and trust him to help us be the Mom and Dad that he has called us to be to this little boy. What he once thought of as "family" has changed....he has no memories of his birth father or mother.....and after his sister and brother died, he clung to his friends and they became his "family". He misses them....he told me tonight.
Hailu is so silly and loves to laugh... he has such a zest for life and adventure.......he loves any opportunity he gets to serve one of us in any way he can. There is never a time yet that he hasn't thanked me so sweetly for a meal or a snack...and he makes sure to tell me how good it was too. He loves all the one on one attention that he is receiving. He always has compassion and concern when he sees that one of us may be upset. He is so brave and strong....he has been through so much in his life and still continues to display all these positive traits. I know that he feels a sense of belonging here and I know that this is the Lord's doing.
There is that small part of him that feels so alone though.....I see it when he is frustrated that our school days are not like the school days he had in Ethiopia. I see it when we are with other friends or family that we have a strong bond with, that he has not developed that bond with yet. I see it when he stares fondly at the belongings and photos of his past. There are many more times that I know that he feels alone.....even surrounded with love, there is a piece of him that is seems to feel empty.
I want to make this feeling go away for him....as his mother, I am hurting right along with him. I don't know how to make things "all better".....only God can do this, and He will. I just continue to pray and hope that Hailu will do the same. I had a conversation with him today as he sat in my lap with tears in his eyes.....I tried to tell him that I understood his frustrations and that when he feels this way, that he can go to the Lord and ask him for comfort that only He is able to give. I think he understood....
What a huge gift but also a huge responsibility it is to raise children! I have said this before, but I will say it again.....Isaac and Hailu are not mine, they are both God's children....they each came into our lives a different way.....but the gift and the task are the same....to raise these boys to be Godly men who are dedicated to serving and pleasing Him in all they do....to teach them the love of Christ through our example. To care for, nurture and love them unconditionally. I pray each day that I won't let Him down.....Please help me Lord to be the mother to these boys that you would have me to be.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

So much to say....so little time

I have wanted to post on my blog for so long now.....every night when the boys are finally in bed, I sit down at the computer and get ready to type and I just don't even know where to start. I am usually so tired and can't put my thoughts together to type out all that I have soaring through my mind. It has only been a couple of weeks now that I could actually truly pray. There was so much in my mind and heart, I couldn't even find the words to say to God. It is so hard to explain.....I am just so glad that He knows... In my devotions this morning I read a great quote, John Bunyan said, "It is better to have a heart without words, than words without heart."
So, I am not going to even try, at this point to re-cap our trip to Ethiopia....I will do this eventually. For now I am going to just focus on what is happening in the present, since we have been home. There are so many things that I don't want to forget.....and that is one of the main reasons I started this blog......so I would have a record of all the big and little things that happen in our lives.
In the middle of last week, Isaac mentioned to me that he thought Hailu was doing really well with his english. It is true.....it seems like all of a sudden he is talking so much more and is full of stories and is always trying to make us laugh. From the very first day we met him, he has been full of laughter. He LOVES to be silly and really loves it when we act silly! At least twice a day now, he will just bust out in laughter over something small, and he will just keep laughing until someone else joins in with him. Most of the time, he and Isaac will be cracking up, and I will ask what is so funny, and they will say "I don't know" and just keep laughing. I love hearing them getting along and having so much fun together. The only time this is not appealing to me is during school. Today for example, Hailu just wasn't in the mood for school and he was goofing around and saying silly things the whole time when I was trying to teach him. This was extremely frustrating, even to Isaac. Isaac just wanted to get his work done.....I had to keep correcting Hailu and this was slowing down his progress. I have gotten a good idea of what Hailu has learned and what he is capable of learning now, so starting next week, he will be under a strict school schedule. I think that is what he needs.....consistency and a strict schedule, in order for him to take school serious. In most areas he is at a 1st-2nd grade level which is awesome......the only thing that is making it hard is the language barrier.....I am not always sure if he truly doesn't understand what I am explaining to him, or if he just doesn't feel like doing what I am asking him to do.
There are some phrases in english that over the past few weeks he seems to really like to say. Sometimes it fits correctly to the situation, but sometimes it doesn't.....and then this is when we all start to laugh.....of course he loves that! He likes to say "He's OK" , "watch this", "what are you doing".....and today he must have called to me 7 or 8 times from another room in the house "MOM!!" then I say "Yes? or What?" and then he would say really slowly and with his cute little accent "How are you doing? " then I would answer him and ask how he was doing and then he just laughs and says "I am fine". Yesterday he started asking us what different words we say meant.....and he has been really interested in the books that I have been reading to him. I think that the language is beginning to become clear to him and now he is feeling comfortable trying it out and asking us more questions. To anyone that has been through this before, you know how fun and exciting this is to see the progress.
So much more to tell....this is just the most recent....I will get back on here soon and tell about the horrible doctor's visit, social issues, his talents and desire to serve others and help, his funny quirks etc...
For now I am going to end it here....I am exhausted. I will finish off this post with a couple more photos and a video.......

Friday, September 3, 2010

We are home!!!!

(photo was taken last Sunday in Ethiopia)
I don't have the time to post details yet, but I wanted to at least update that we are finally home! All is well, and everyone seems to be adjusting beautifully. I promise I will post more information soon and more photos. We are so happy to be home!! We are praising God for all He has done!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

HAPPY 9th Birthday ISAAC!!

Today we celebrated Isaac's 9th birthday! I can't believe how the years are passing by so quickly! We feel so blessed to have had another year with such an amazing little boy! I am so thankful for him and so proud to be his mom! Isaac, we love you so so much!
Over the years he has grown so close to his cousins...they are more like brothers and sisters to him...he absolutely considers them his very best friends.Along with having them here to celebrate with him, we also got 2 new videos of his brother today!I think he had a great birthday