Sunday, January 31, 2010

Two Fewer Orphans

As of Friday morning, there are 2 fewer orphans in the world. We passed court. Our leading up to passing court went something like this:

1. January 12--not our actual court date
2. January 20--were approved for adoption but didn't pass officially because of an amendment needed in the girls' history
3. February 8--the date given for our next court time
4. January 25--an email arrived that said we passed
5. January 25--another email arrived that said we were expected to pass but hadn't officially
6. January 26--our documents were resubmitted
7. January 28--our documents were not all in order and more needed to be sent from the girls' birth region
8. January 29, 6:30 a.m.--I give up on our adoption and tell God that I'm just not going to think about it anymore and He can let me know when anything is actually going to happen.
9. January 29, 11:00 a.m.--We pass court. The girls are ours. They have our last name. They are no longer orphans.

I have now packed their suitcase. I began to pack mine until Joel begged me not to make him help me during the same time he was also planning a run down the St. Croix.

I am emailing my new friend Trent at Velocity Tours in Utah for flight information.

We can call the girls by their American names but we find ourselves unable to. I think we have grown rather fond of their Ethiopian names even though we don't plan to keep them.

Ever since we passed court, I have had a cheesy 1980 something love song stuck in my head. It's not even grammatically correct.
"Two less lonely people in the world, and it's going to be fine.
Out of all the people in the world, I just can't believe you're mine.
In my life where everything was wrong, something finally went right.
Now there's two less lonely people in the world tonight."

Unbelievable. I have not heard this song since I was in high school? Junior high? It's on a loop in my head, just this verse. Every time it loops back, I wish they sang "fewer" even though it doesn't sound as good. Everything in my life was not wrong either. Apparently when I get a verse stuck, I don't get to edit out the parts with which I do not agree.

This week I should be able to know my embassy date. It will likely be about 4-6 weeks from now; I will travel in 3-5 weeks.

God is good.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

More Waiting and Random Thoughts

We're still waiting, hoping to hear soon that our court documents have been amended, we can pass court and get an embassy date. I'm wondering if an email to adoption agency that pleads for the March 11th date would work when I explain that I will miss my daughter's 16th birthday if I have to go for the March 25th date.

Emma has a couple life changing plans due to come true on her 16th birthday: pick up job applications, paint her room and get her ears pierced.

Levi's plans are not quite as lofty, and, by the way, there are no blueberries nor Atomic Fireballs at Walmart, Target nor Cub. He got a big Hershey bar, 2 packages of gum, 3 bottles of Gatorade (blue, to simulate the absent berries), 2 soccer shirts and a used desk chair from Ikea that is bright red. It can simulate the absent fireballs.

I'm bad at waiting. Gaining endurance (from my self induced suffering) is not all that attractive to me. I am not all that attractive to me. Good thing there's the book of Isaiah. I'm reading through all the chapters that have headings like: "God Restores Israel;" "God Redeems His People;" "God Shows Mercy." It gets me out of the "Bitterness and Gall in Which Marty Tends to Wallow." Please pray for my patience. For my trust. For my hope. For my desire to continue. For my belief in His promises and perfect timing and perfect love that triumph over everything. Thank you.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Observations from Today

1. I am really glad my daughter is home.
2. I am really glad my daughter went to Ethiopia.
3. I have really, really cute girls in Ethiopia.
4. I really want to go to Ethiopia.

Finally, my coffee thermos was right in front of me... until I started looking for it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Some Things I Wish I Could Do

1. Knit

2. Learn Swedish by reading an Ikea catalog

3. Construct a mudroom

4. Build a shower

5. Decorate rooms that would say to someone: Pottery Barn meets Frank Lloyd Wright meets Restoration Hardware.

6. Mimic wildlife noises so that, at any given time, I could call a fox, deer, turkey or owl to my kitchen window.

7. Transport myself to Ethiopia

8. Be married to the Embassy Official who gives out visas. (unless it's a woman)

There is a lot of wishing and waiting with an international adoption. It can and has made me crazy. Here, though, is a great anchor for my soul that I found today:
"But there the Lord in majesty will be for us a place of broad rivers and streams...For the Lord is our judge; the Lord is our lawgiver; the Lord is our king; He will save us." Is. 33:21-22

Post Christmas Birthday

Levi's birthday is in January. Unfortunately, I usually still feel a little "presented-out" even though it's been a month. This year I decided that I would be intentionally alert for gifts, big or small, that seemed like something Levi would enjoy.

I have not had much success. Now I know why.

The other morning at breakfast, we were having blueberries. Actually, I was having blueberry; Levi was eating them almost by the handfuls.

"You really like these, don't you?" I asked astutely, not even with my Birthday Radar on.

"It would be so fun to have my own package of these for my birthday," Levi replied. "I'd also like my own Atomic Fireballs."

No wonder the Target toy aisle seemed so pointless.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Yes, But Not Yet

We received what I believe to be very good news this morning though it has one little string attached. The court gave a "very positive recommendation" to our adoption but there is some additional history that needs to be recorded in our girls' file. This additional info has to be done before we can get the adoption decree. We need the adoption decree for an embassy date so the possibility seems to be this: February 8th, additional court hearing; March 11, embassy date; March 5 or 6 travel.

I got two new pictures of our girls today which are very timely and make me almost incapable of doing anything but staring at my computer.

Emma called from Ethiopia. She is feeling more homesick now, in addition to be exhausted. She got to see our girls this morning--was allowed to give the baby a bottle and hold her for about 10 minutes and let our 2 year old see a video we had taken on the way to the airport. The video seemed to be a big hit both with our daughter and with the nannies who were translating who everyone was. While Lemlem had been afraid of Emma at first, she warmed up after watching the video 8 times (according to Emma) and then even giggled when she pushed the wrong button on the camera.

So we wait for a little longer, but we wait with great hope. I'll have to tell my eyelids. They seem to have chosen to deal with all this by puffing up to twice their normal size. I'll also have to tell the left side of my head. It wants to break off and shatter. I'll also give the heads up to my attention span. It has left me permanantly.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

So Glad I Homeschool

Eli gets to go on a trip to New York City with his grandparents. We were talking about what he might like to see. He thought the "big green lady with the fire stick" looked cool.

I scanned my memories and knowledge of NYC for green ladies with fire sticks. Central Park statue? street performer? portrait at the Museum of Modern Art?


The Statue of Liberty.

You go, Big Green Lady With the Fire Stick.

Emma to the Airport

We took our eldest daughter to the airport this morning. I coped with that by being incredibly sensitive and crabby for the entire car trip home.

She left for Boston at 1:10 pm, then flies to Amsterdam, makes a refueling stop in the Sudan and arrives in Ethiopia sometime late Thursday our time, early Friday Ethiopia time.

She will see the girls, Lord willing, as soon as possible.

I have not allowed her to get her ears pierced until she is 16. Now, with her being able to see the girls before I do, I told her I am going to get every, single square inch of my ears pierced while she is gone.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What I'm Learning, Part 457

1. I have really great friend who encourage me, even at 12:52 a.m.

2. I slept really well last night.

3. I'm a little sad this morning but I don't feel like life has been dramatically changed.

4. I have a friend who needs me at the hospital for an hour today.

5. She means more than a misunderstood court date.

6. I'm really, really thankful for the children I have.

7. I really, really love the children I have in Ethiopia. And can't wait to see them.

Monday, January 11, 2010

January 12 is not January 12

I just received the news that while our court date is January 12, it is not our January 12. It is Ethiopia's. That means that our court date is not tomorrow but will be January 20th.

I apologize for the false alarm.

We will wait. We'll see if I'm going to get better at it.

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
He reveals deep and hidden things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with Him.
Daniel 2: 20-22

Sunday, January 10, 2010

While Waiting for an Ethiopian, Eat Like One

Tonight we were invited to the house of a very good friend. She is Ethiopian and made an incredible amount of food. My 7 year old ate 4 plates of injera with a meat/sauce sort of thing; my 11 year old son lost count. I ate two plates of injera. I have now had 6 glasses of water and can barely tell. I am emanating berbere, the peculiar and wonderful spice that is in most Ethiopian dishes. I had the chance to talk to a mom who adopted 2 kids when they were about the same age as our kids will be. I think the most comforting thing she said was, "It may seem really gross and overwhelming to talk about hair fungus. We all got it and I think my kids had it for.....years. But it's just something you deal with and then it's not that big of a deal."

I also spent about 7 minutes sitting with my back against a chair massager. Upper back? Lower back? Full back? Demo? I tried them all. I'm not sure how my outlook on life can be so changed after 7 minutes with a Half Price Walgreens Chair Massage but I'll take it. In fact, I may see if there is a 36 hour function so I can use it right up to Tuesday morning. My kids would think I'm only getting slightly creepier than I already am.

The Week Ahead

I feel sort of like I did when I anticipated finals in college: there really weren't any days to finals week except the day and time of a particular test. It was all that mattered.

My whole week begins the morning of January 12th when we will find out if we passed court.

My next "final" is 24 hours later when we drive Emma to the airport to get on a plane, fly for 20 some hours and land in Ethiopia.

The anticipation of this week has given me some new insights:
1. It is easier to be busy buying trip supplies at a store you can't stand (Walmart) than it is to be done buying supplies and simply be ready to have your daughter get on a plane.

2. These two situations fully exceed my capabilities to cope, plan, control and analyze.

3. I have a new John Grisham book to read because it is easier to read about a man blackmailed into working for the biggest law firm in the country so he can steal secrets about a new fighter jet than it is to think about January 12. And 13th.

4. I love God more than ever.

5. I cried when our pastor recited the entire book of Philippians by heart.

6. I packed all of Lemlem's outfits because I was done at Walmart.

7. I have packed almost all of my outfits.

8. I have a new verse.

"Your promise is well tried,
and your servant loves it."
Psalm 119:140

I think I'll either be posting 10,000 new entries for the next 2 days or none at all until we know the outcome of court. It all depends on whether or not I can think up a couple more things I might need from Walmart.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Do You Think?

People ask me this question a lot: Do you think you'll be able to handle all 7 children? Do you think you'll be able to homeschool? Do you think they'll have AIDS? Do you think they'll get along with the other kids?

What comforts me in the "do I think..." moments is, strangely, the fact that I have fought this plan of God's all along the way. I said no to adopting, no to Ethiopia and no to two children. Having it all still happen is astonishing to me. It isn't me and that's good news.

Joel and I went out to eat Monday night. As we drove there, alone, I had a 45 second, uninterrupted chance to reflect on this curious and wonderful call of God. I admitted to Joel, "You know, I don't even like toddlers."

"You like ours though don't you?" he asked.

"Well, that's like saying that I like the hair in our shower drain more than I might like the hair in other people's shower drains."

So, here we go. With our God. Adding more toddlers. With fullness of joy. With great anticipation. With assurance of mercy and grace and sustaining power and strength. What do I think? I'm thinking that the less I think about my opinions, the better.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Court Date!!!

I had turned a corner in my waiting. Instead of walking around in a worry-induced haze, I decided to read John Piper's When the Darkness Will Not Lift. The subtitle is "Doing What We Can While We Wait for God--and Joy." It was perfect. By the time I got to page 51 I had had to get a pen to underline and then get a file card to copy parts of it that I needed to read over and over.

The book begins with a poem that I find astonishing. It was written in 1633, and the part I really loved said this:

I will complain, yet praise;
I will bewail, approve:
And all my sorrow-sweet days
I will lament and love.

I read it, I underlined it, I copied it. That was Tuesday night. Wednesday morning I woke up early and, finding nothing I wanted to do (fold laundry, empty dishwasher, sweep kitchen...) I sat down once again with my book, my pen and my file card.

It is a great moment when I can be "still before the Lord." And that lasts about 2 seconds when, in my stillness, I am secretly nurturing the thought that "if I show God I can suffer, He'll let me have a court date." I then read and underlined this: "Your aim in loosing your tongue with words of gratitude is that God would be merciful and fill your words with the emotion of true gratitude. You are not seeking the praise of men; you are seeing the mercy of God. You are not hiding the hardness of ingratitude, but hoping for the inbreaking of the Spirit." (p.50)

So I thanked God for His timing and I prayed for the inbreaking of the Spirit. I called our adoption agency but hung up before I could leave a message. About 30 minutes later, the phone rang and the agency's name showed up on caller ID. I thought they were calling me back since I had called them. HOWEVER.


We have a court date. It's January 12.