Thursday, July 30, 2009

Being Drawn

Yesterday was a good day. I can't overlook the days that go well, ones where there are no temper tantrums, very little need for discipline and generally happy children. The girls are loving a music camp, and yesterday was beautiful which allowed us to spend the afternoon at the pool, soaking in the suns' rays and spending a lot of pent up energy.

What I have to share today is how God can use a friendly face to just love on me sometimes. It has been tough 5 days, and as I dropped off the girls on their first day of music camp, Isabel burst into tears. This is nothing new! She cries every where I take her for that first-time drop off. Seriously - she is 7 and still cries every time! As her mom, I have come to learn that the best thing for her is to kiss her, tell her how much I love her, find someone who can lead her, and then walk away. This time, the someone was this woman who was just shining! I found out her name was Mrs. Z, and I watched as she bent low to be on Isabel's level and then explained how her "little girl" (now in college) still cries every time she leaves her mom. Immediately I thought, this is a woman who understands.

A few days have gone by since then, and I continued to watch this woman shine; always smiling, always hugging the kids. For some reason, I was drawn to her. So, yesterday, I decided to talk to her.

I introduced myself and she immediately complimented Eleanor. Eleanor has a small speaking part in the music concert, which is a Bible verse, and as Eleanor has been reciting her verse during practice, Mrs. Z. said, "That is a girl who believes what she is saying." Then she looked as Isabel and Eleanor and said, "I just knew these girls were from a Christian family! It is evident how much they love each other...and you."

Oh, how I needed to hear that! Totally unsolicited, totally unexpected, but what I believe to be words of encouragement straight from my heavenly pappa.

We talked for several minutes and she introduced me to her daughters. I found out that her husband is the choir director and she is a teacher in Watertown schools. She knew of Elmbrook and even said, "Oh, I love that church!", but then she proceeded to tell me all about the things that my kids can get involved with at her church (Awana, youth group). One of my prayers over this entire summer has been about what to get the kids involved in.

We are huge proponents of not overloading our kids, but I desperately want my kids to be involved in Christian youth groups. And honestly, I have been left wanting more the last few years - mainly wanting a smaller youth group. I have been struggling with decisions about whether or not to make the drive into Elmbrook multiple times a week in order for my kids to be in a youth group, but I really wanted to start integrating into Watertown. When I found out about the opportunities at this church, it was so wonderful.

Our attention then turned to George and I asked about whether or not the church could handle him during Awana. Mrs. Z beamed and said, "Sure! We can give him a special buddy!" The church has high school kids ready to go as buddies, specifically we can have a boy ready to meet George in the lobby every time he comes to church, walk with him to his room, sit with him to help him pay attention and then help do any projects. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

I have been missing a church that comes around an adoptive parent and says, "We will do anything to help you!". Offering a special buddy for George to attend Awana is a huge answer to prayer, and then knowing all the kids can attend something where they are getting Bible training and surrounded by other Christian kids brings peace to my heart.

I could write more about the need for the church (the greater church) to support adoptive parents....but maybe for another day. As a mom who some days is floundering, it would be so helpful to have a church step forward and offer help (support, counseling, respite care, etc.). Sometimes it feels very alone in church - and that should not be the case.

I was drawn to this woman, and she was drawn to my girls. She loved me even if she didn't realize it, simply by complimenting the girls and then wanting to chat for an hour. It was exactly what I needed at the time.

Oh, and then for an added bonus, the youth pastor at this church....IS A BUCKEYE FAN!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Father of Lies

Have you ever read This Present Darkness? Or maybe some CS Lewis that describes the spiritual warfare that goes on in our world? I realized last night, as tears streamed down my face while I was cleaning up the dishes after dinner that I am underestimating the attacks of my enemy.

You might nod in agreement if you have read any of those books. I am currently experiencing a demon, named "Liar", squatting on my shoulder constantly whispering....no, make that shouting in my ear. These are some of the lies that have been on a continual repeat through my mind.

"You are not a good mother. Your kids don't love you, they never will. You are too hard on them and anyway, it is too much work to discipline them. So, why not just give up?"

"No one cares about you! You have no friends. Even your husband is tired of hearing your belly-aching! Why not start thinking about giving up on your marriage and for that matter, having any friends."

"George is never going to love you. He is worthless. He is ungrateful. He is rotten to the core. Just give up on him."

"You should have never adopted! Think of what kind of house you could have bought with all that money!! Granite counter tops. Hard wood floors. Lots of land. And all that with no heartache! Give up...."

Ashamedly, I have been entering into battle unarmed. I KNOW there is a battle, yet I still chose to be lazy. Can anyone explain to me how that can possibly happen...still? Haven't I learned?

Joe took one look at me and said it seemed like a dark cloud was just hovering over me. No matter what good things had happened yesterday, I just couldn't seem to be positive, or even muster a smile for Joe when he walked through the door. He said, "Why do you think the enemy is not going to attack you?"

We often talk about the attacks and trials that Joe goes through in the course of a day. We just don't even think about how the enemy attacks me. He has never been able to get into my head before; but I am tired, I am weak and I am broken. And he saw a way in.

It is my fault...I am not arming myself with the word of God each morning. It is time that I take this seriously and not let one day slip by without STARTING it in God's promises.

Yet, all the while, God is continuing to prove faithful to me. During an especially difficult time with George, my mother in law called to offer encouragement. She reminded me to end our challenging times with hugs - and so I did. And I finally taught George how to really hug me. Until yesterday, I was getting this half-hearted, head down, one-armed hug. I stopped him and said, "Nope -not good enough. This is how I want you to hug me." I lifted his head, I wrapped both of his arms around my waist and I told him to squeeze. He giggled and did it. And he held on. That is all we needed to turn things around - to turn my attitude around. A simple hug. I realized I had not taught him how to hug - wow.

Joe and I are convinced that George did not come from this incredibly nurturing, loving mom. For a long while I thought George was mourning the loss of this amazing mother. Now, I believe he doesn't even know what a mother is supposed to look like. George doesn't know that you come to a mother for hugs when you are scared. He doesn't know that you run to tell a mother some exciting news because you know she will be excited with you (even if is about the latest Pokemon card you traded for). He doesn't know that a mother will always forgive, will wipe every tear and will never forget to say "I love you" at the end of the day.

Oh, the learning that is taking place - all around this family. I have such an important job because I am called to be a mother that follows hard after Jesus. Which, in essence, is being Christ to my children. Am I the first "tangible Jesus" that George has ever seen? When I continue to love him and always forgive him, I am giving him something real and concrete that can point to how Jesus loves us and forgives us. If I fail, or if I give up, George does not feel or see the true love of Jesus.

Of course, the enemy does not want George to be loved or to get to know Jesus! Of course, the enemy will come after me. And, of course, I need to silence the father of lies. I know I have said it before, but in the great words of Stryper, "To hell with the devil!"

Monday, July 27, 2009

Struggling

I am struggling! I am really, really having a hard time. This past weekend, I have been so full of anger and disgust for George. I am ashamed to write it, but I have to continue being honest.

I am not sure what is going on, or what precipitated my feelings of anger, but Joe and I are simply saying we are experiencing another "two steps back". George is back to picking Joe over me - in everything! Of course, I have many children and I am used to my kids wanting to be with Joe over me. Let's say I am going to a musical and Joe is going fishing, it is natural that some will go with me and others will want to be with Joe. This is different. With George it is as if he is saying, "Mom, you can't do anything to please me. I only want to be with Dad."

Even this morning, after a good morning, after getting George his favorite breakfast, out of nowhere he announces, "George go to Dad's work. No stay with Mom."

And I can't tell you how tired I am of talking about bikes, cars and shoes! I think I might throw up if I have to have one more discussion about my car going to the car wash and maybe putting the bike in the car so we can go get some new shoes. It is hourly - if not minutely (if that is even a word!) that George says this. I have never cared about cars, bikes or shoes. Those three things have never, ever held any sort of allure in my mind. I could care less what kind of car I drive, I have an old bike that I occasionally use and my shoes are all old and worn. But to be forced to discuss these things over and over and over and over again is about to drive me crazy. Really. You may find me one day in a corner of the living room muttering, "buh, buh, buh."

Maybe that's an exaggeration. Ok, it IS an exaggeration. But I am seriously sick of it all right now.

I don't like this boy many days. He is loud. He teases the other kids relentlessly. He is stubborn and mean and so, so selfish.

But, every time I talk about his character, I am reminded that we have not raised this boy from infancy. In fact, I don't think he was raised by a parent at all! Maybe his parents were too sick to parent him. Maybe he truly was raised by the village. And because of that, he has learned skills that have kept him alive - mainly being selfish and looking out for numero uno. I can't blame George for being mean and selfish. It really is no fault of his own, and I get so upset with myself that I can't have more mercy and love toward him.

So, here I am again. I am so sick of finding myself here. It is crystal clear that I am not God. In fact, I am more like George than I would care to admit. I was at church last night and the pastor said one little sentence that pierced my heart. He said, "Isn't it wonderful how God loved us before our eyes were open to who He was?"

God loved me before I even knew who He was. He loved me even before I had any idea of His greatness, mercy and grace. He didn't start loving me when I started loving Him. NO! In fact, He loved me when I could offer nothing simply because I didn't even know Him. He loved. He loves. He will never stop loving me.

And, He is asking me to do the same. Keep loving George. Love him even though his eyes are not open to what love is. Love him even though his eyes are not open to the love of a mommy. Love him even though his eyes are not open to the mercy, forgiveness and grace of a family. Just love him.

Oh, Lord! You have given me such a huge task. Sometimes, I don't want this job! I was doing just fine before August 10, 2008 when you spoke to Joe and I and said there was a boy in Ethiopia who needed us. Or maybe, it was that I needed George. Thank you for George, that you have given me such a tangible picture of my selfishness and my greed and at the same time seeing how much YOU LOVE US! You have to do this. You have to pour so much love into me that it overflows into George because I just don't have enough in me to do this. I trust You. Please don't give up on me. Amen.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What's Going on With George

I guess the good news about the infrequency of my posts about George is that things are continuing to get better! Praise God for His faithfulness. I think back to Mark, the international adoption counselor whom we met on the airplane, saying that he felt so sure that God had chosen Joe and I to be George's parents, that it was something he had never felt so strongly before (he even asked us to not think he was weird - ha!).

But, as time goes on and we seem to have overcome many major obstacles, we realize we still have a ways to go. George and I are close. I find myself now coming to his defense when there is a sibling argument and actually laughing at the funny things he says. He comes in for multiple hugs a day and he even wants to sit next to me and listen to me read a book. Believe me, back in April, I though those moments would never come. We communicate very well, all things considered. I think he understands much, but is able to speak little. He really continues to talk (incessantly) about cars, bikes and shoes. If he doesn't end up an engineer or a shoe salesman, I will be shocked!

What I face now, in my daily challenges as a mom, are the little things, yet traits that are so important. Character. Morality. Honesty. Integrity. Kindness. The list could go on and on. As I type this list, it strikes me that these are the issues we struggle with as parents for ALL our children, not just the hand picked ones. And I am faced with the question of how to describe being honest to a child who doesn't even know what the words "lie" or "truth" mean. And as for "doing the right thing..." forget it!

A dear mentor recently reminded me what was of utmost importance regarding raising George and that is to bring him into a saving faith in Jesus Christ! That's it.
God chose to bring us together for that sole reason! It's not about giving him new shoes, or lots of dinner to fatten him up. No, it's about teaching him about Jesus and the sacrifice He made on George's behalf.

But, I am faced with a culture that doesn't even have a word for forgiveness, or sorry. Yes, George now says, "Oh, I'm sorry Momma" and I think he has a very child-like concept of making an apology, but I don't know if he has awareness of his need for a savior. That will come. It must come. That is my job.

Along with that, is my need to teach him how to be a man of character. That means starting now, by letting others go first in line, or giving up the best seat, or chasing after an unruly toddler to help a mom. George has been on "self" mode for so long (and to no fault of his own) that it is just taking a while for him to think of anyone other than himself. Every day we go through battles and explanations of who "has" what. He'll point to a movie that was borrowed from the library and since he likes it he blurts out, "George's movie! Not Lincoln's movie! George's movie!!" OK - sure. But it really is the library's movie. He just doesn't get it.

He saw light-up tennis shoes for the first time. The kid went crazy! Now, he asks every day for a pair. We cleaned out a closet today and moved some winter boots. George asked, "Today? George boots today?" and I very shortly answered "No." This sent him crying for half an hour in his room. Sigh.

Anyway - I digress. The point of what I am trying to say is the part of this uphill battle that I am on now, is just as difficult as the first part; only different. I was heartbroken and sad before; now I want to bang my head against the nearest wall and scream "Stop!". One is definitely not easier than the other.

I want to ask all who read this blog to promise me that you will pray for George in one specific area...school! Part of this whole character training is trying to get him ready for school. He needs to learn about taking turns, not shouting out "shoes!" on every page of a book that has a kid with a pair of shoes on and instead listen to the story. He needs to be able to listen to a teacher when she says, "It's time to be quiet", or if he needs to be corrected that he won't run away and cry.

And what breaks my heart is thinking that George will not have a friend this year. I can't blame any other little 6 year old. George is not that friendly. He just does not know what it means to be a friend. So, I actually cry each time I think about George being totally alone at school. I have loner children; George is different. He is a social kid. He just does not know, yet, how an American young boy is supposed to act.

Today, I read an op-ed piece in the JS where a teacher actually urged a class "to be Christ" to a difficult child. Oh, if we lived in a time where that principal was taught to our kids every where and every day. Just be Christ to each other.

Yesterday, I checked out every book in the library on the topic of going to school. I even found one about riding a school bus! We drive by the school every chance we get and we are starting to purchase lunch boxes and back packs. But, I am still scared for my little boy for that first day that he walks down the driveway and gets on the big yellow bus.

He needs your prayers - starting today and continuing until September something (not sure the first day ,yet :)) I will tell him someday that a whole community of believers lifted this little guy into the throne room of grace because they cared about a small thing like going to school for the first time. His paperwork from the orphanage stressed how much he wanted to go to school and someday become a teacher - I trust God has a plan for George and maybe, just maybe, he will someday be a school teacher. That would make my family proud.

Smacked in the Face

I don't like flying. There really is one main reason, and it's not the fact that I suffer greatly from motion sickness. I don't like flying because I don't like airports.

This past weekend I made a whirlwind trip to Ohio and found myself spending about 5 hours in various airports. During my lay overs, I was confronted head on with "the world". I realized how much of a bubble I live in, not really intentionally, but simply because I am a stay at home mom who goes back and forth between school, soccer practices and the pool. I encounter other stay at home moms who do the same things and for the most part, we are so consumed with the lives of our children that children are all we talk about.

But, in an airport, everything changes. All of a sudden, men and women put their every day, normal lives behind them. Most people I saw were either racing home from a business convention, or on their way to an exotic vacation. I know because they talked so loudly!

When did we become a society that enjoyed having everyone around them hear our conversations? Was I supposed to be impressed by the man next to me shouting to his buddy across the isle in the terminal how his plane was delayed and he might miss his cruise ship? Oh,and don't forget to throw in about half a dozen expletives in that one sentence! Or, how about the guy on his phone talking so loudly I could even hear him while I was using the restroom! He was going on and on about how much money he was going to make that month, how the chick was was with last night was so blank hot and how blank-blank hungover he was now.

Women can't wait to sit down and read their gossip magazines. People drink in the airport bars on Sunday mornings at 8:30am. Parents are screaming at their kids - some even have their kids on leashes!

In Detroit, the gate was changed from A12 to A57 - granted a bit of a walk to make it to the next gate. But, we still had over an hour before boarding the plane. You wold have thought the airline stewardess had just asked half he passengers to cut off their right hand! The amount of swear words that flew out of the passenger's mouths were unbelievable! Complaining - and for what reason? Did they think they could get the gate changed again? Were they really that upset about walking a 1/4 mile down the concourse?

Joe has always said "Airports are Godless places," and I saw it for myself this time. I saw married men hitting on married women. I saw men take off their wedding rings and slip them into their pockets. I heard more foul language than I think I have heard in a year (minus watching Gran Torino with my husband last weekend).

I got back to Wisconsin, just in time to attend the 11:00 service at Elmbrook. The No Regrets worship team was gearing up for their first song and within minutes, the entire congregation was belting out a worship song to our savior, Jesus! It was obvious that everyone was "into" the worship this morning and the music was loud, the singing even louder, and the faces of all who were sitting around me were smiling. I started crying and leaned over to Joe and said, "I am home!".

Home to me, at that moment, meant being in the presence of God in a place filled with worshipers. I came home to a place that honored God, wanted to know what He has to say about life, and enjoyed the fellowship of other believers. It was a small taste of heaven for me. I felt that God gave me a special gift; he let me see the world and then he let me see the beauty of worship.

What has struck me to the core since my experiences in the airport is how much God loves those people! He does not want me to judge those people, shaking my finger at them and turning away in disgust. His heart breaks for those consumed with money and gossip and all the other enticements of the world. How He must weep when so many chose to worship other gods. And he reminded me that I am to love those people.

My life over the last few months has to be characterized as a time of learning how to truly love. I have been "even like the pagans" who love the lovable! But, as a Christ follower, I am called to love the unlovable. It is one thing to read that command in scripture, it is another to live it. While I am hear on this earth, I can tell that God is asking me to devote the rest of my life to working on this command. I am to learn what it means to truly love the way God loves. I think it will take the rest of my life to learn that.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Some Summer Pictures






I just thought I would add some fun summer pictures.

It's Been A While

First of all, an apology to those who keep coming back and seeing the same old post staring you in the face :) I have been suffering from writer's block -ha! Seriously, I just haven't found a lot of down time to devote to sitting at the computer in recent days. Probably the puppy. Oh, and my 6th child. Yes, you heard it here first. We now have 6 children! Before you choke, it is really one of our neighbor boys. His parents work full time, and he is under the care of his 13 year old brother. I guess he likes being here more than there. So, we take him everywhere we go and he eats lunch with us...pretty soon I am going to start charging a food fee.

Things with George are continuing to go well. I was in OH this past weekend and during one phone conversation with Joe, he asked me, "Guess who misses you the most?" I answered, "Gunnar?" and Joe laughed and said, "No. George!" I met up with my family at church on Sunday and was drenched in hugs and kisses from all 5 children, it was so sweet! George was then smiles all day and I noted to Joe that he seems so happy. Joe said, "When we are all together as a family...that is when he is happy."

Joe and I took a long walk together on Sunday afternoon and talked about where we are spiritually, talked about dreams and goals of the future and then looked back at how far we have come with George. We wondered aloud if he loves us yet; truly loves us. It still seems as though we are a means to an end for him. We give him a place to live, food to eat, "stuff" that he wants. He was trained to say "thank you" and call us "momma" and "daddy", but is there really unconditional love there yet?

It's hard to tell. There have been a few times where he has acted horribly toward me and within a few minutes he is at my side giving me a hug. The hugs at those times have lingered into a minute and are a little tighter than he normal hugs. Is he really feeling something for me in those moments?

His English is really coming along and I feel like we can communicate very well. He understands much more than he can speak at this point, so he will follow our instructions pretty well. He has picked up some cute sayings from Charlie Brown movies (a big hit with our family right now!) like "I can't stand it!" The funny thing is that he has no idea what that really means and will say it at the most inappropriate time, but it is cute none the less. He also now says, "I can do it!" to prove to us that he can do something on his own. The funny part is that saying started out as "You can do it!" when he really meant "I can do it!", so we had to work on fixing that.

Life with a big family is never quiet and never dull. After hours of solitude and quiet in the airport as I traveled to and from Ohio, I noticed how much I enjoy having the "chaos" around me. These are amazing children who are growing into real people with thought and opinions that challenge me or make me laugh. When I came home yesterday, I just enjoyed watching them play outside, something I often take for granted when I am tired or worn out. I have healthy, happy children who run around the house chattering, squealing, laughing and screaming. I guess I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

How Easy it is to Go Through the Motions!


I experienced a life-changing week in Africa. I felt first hand how God held me in His grip. I saw answers to prayer happen right before my eyes. I witnessed believers ministering to people in need all around them. And, I decided I wanted to live a life like that. What I saw in Africa was a REAL faith, the kind of faith you need to just get through the day, not the stale American faith where we have all we need at the local grocery store, or Target has it, or we can order it on-line with a credit card. How much do we really NEED God in this society?

Anyway - I digress.

Joe and I came home on fire! We were committed to being in the word for hours and then praying together multiple times a day. We prayed with our kids when things got tough or an argument would arise. We were turned off by the TV and instead would sit in silence, happily. Our worship was genuine. Our service was out of love.

We needed God so badly in the beginning. I couldn't make through an hour without crying to Him for help. But slowly, things got easier with George. I could make it most days without crying or breaking down. Then we moved. Then we started making job decisions. We got busy with the warm summer weather bringing us out to the pool, staying up late playing basketball with the kids, and going into town for ice-cream.

Bible studies in the summer cease (something I totally don't get!). Churches don't have Sunday School classes and they pair back a bit. Radio stations play re-run sermons. And, I slipped into mediocrity.

Yesterday, God gave me a gift. He gave me a beautiful morning on the front porch where He gently reminded me of how I had been going through the motions lately. He asked me, "How could you go from on-fire to ho-hum in such a short time?" It was a beautiful moment because there was no guilt or condemnation; just truth that I had let down my disciplines and so my faith became stale.

What shocked me was how I had been lulled into this sense that I was doing fine. I was listening to Christian radio stations, singing songs in the car. I was going to church on Sunday, listening to the sermons and even discussing them a bit on the ride home. I would tell people, "I will pray for you", but I never did. It was so easy to say that and then never follow through. The enemy had brought me to a place of complacency and I had become that luke-warm church that God spits out of his mouth. What was I offering anyone around me? Absolutely nothing for I was putting nothing in!

It is so easy around here to convince yourself that you are a Christian and doing the Christian things like K-Love and church. But, I saw how deep and rich a living faith can be when I was living moment by moment with God. It was so different! No one would have called me on this, because appearances said I was still following along. But, in my heart, I knew I had become so lazy.

Does a person need to be so disciplined to be a follower of Christ? I am here to say absolutely YES! I need to be in the word - significant time in the word - every day! I need to pray - purposeful closet-time - every day! That is where I need to start right now, word and prayer. I want to get back to that intimacy I was feeling a few months ago.

I just had a heart check and I saw that my heart and mind and soul were being lazy. I am totally borrowing a line from a song, but I don't want to go through the motions. I don't want to spend one more day without Your all-consuming passion inside of me. I hear those words and I know what he means! To once feel that all-consuming passion was amazing and I just have to get back to that place.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Zoo and a Puppy

We had an exciting weekend. Although, we did not participate in any 4th of July activities, we still had fun! And, we didn't do any of the 4th things for reasons like mosquito's and schedules - not because we are making a political statement or anything. In fact, I was disappointed that George was not going to experience parades and fireworks - but we always have next year.

So, we decided to go explore the Madison zoo. I have always heard good things about it, but we lived so close to the Milwaukee zoo, and had a membership, so it was just more practical to go there. We love Madison, very cool town, and when Friday turned into a beautiful day, we decided to hit Madtown.

The zoo was wonderful (and here's the best part...it's free!!!). I was a little concerned about George as I had heard stories of Ethiopian children running scared of the animals. George did great! He really enjoyed seeing certain animals up close - especially the African animals. The lion started roaring as soon as we walked through the gate. Thankfully, he kept it up much of the afternoon! How cool it was for all the kids running around the hear a lion roar!!! George also like the tiger, but kept his distance. What really surprised me was his reaction to the alligators.

For some background, George always asks if there are crocodiles in the water, wherever we go. River, Lake Michigan, pools..it doesn't matter, he always asks, "Momma, crocodiles?" This time, I could say, "Yes, George - that IS a crocodile."

As we came upon two very large alligators, George nuzzled his way right up to the glass, knelt down and stared intently at the reptiles. And he stared and stared and then dared to touch the glass a bit. He was silent, and so serious as he looked over every inch. It took quite a bit of urging to get George away. I think he would have sat there for at least an hour if we would have let him.

We had a fun day, topped off by a carousel ride and some play time in a tree-fort.

On Saturday we needed to pick up Eleanor from camp and enjoyed a wonderful time of worship with the teens and middle schoolers at Timber-lee. Those kids can worship! After the closing ceremony, Eleanor took us to Saddlehorn Ranch to show us the horse she worked with all week. What a beauty. Then George and Isabel had the chance to take a horse ride, on a 29 year old horse -ha!

Joe and I decided to then surprise the kids and go pick up a German Shepherd puppy!! Joe and I both grew up with GS and couldn't wait to get one of our own. It has taken 13 years - ha! We finally felt that the kids were a good age and we have enough yard for a big dog. Remind me of how excited I am in January when there is 2 feet of snow on the ground and we are stuck inside. No...this dog will love the snow (positive thinking!). We had the pick of two males left - one chunky and one feisty. We chose the chunky one, especially when the owner said, "He'll probably look like his dad." OK, Dad is 124 pound of pure muscle! Cowboy, the stud, is a beauty!!! Joe and I were sold - we'll take that one. We named him Gunnar and have truly enjoyed the first few days with him.

George has taken to Gunnar very well. Considering he screamed, ran away and cried the first time he saw a dog, we are making great progress!

By the way, two notes I wanted to add before I forget. We got a letter from Joe's aunt last week with the most interesting information. She wrote, "I know how you name your children after relatives. Well, I thought you would like to know that Joe's great grandfather's name was George Washington Weldie." How cool is that? Again, a little picture of God smiling down on us with that gift. Now we can say ALL our children are named after family!

Second, we had immunizations and such today. George's first trip to the doctor (I purposefully waited until we had bonded and had some language). George did very well - got 4 shots, had a blood draw and had to urinate in a cup for the first time. He initially said "No" to everything, but complied and left the office with two stickers, a sucker and a smile. What I loved was when he stepped on the scale and I read the number "52"! George has gained 10 pounds in his first two months with us! I can tell you he packs in about 10 pounds of food each time we sit down to dinner, so I was not surprised. It was wonderful confirmation on how well he is doing. Not only is he gaining weight, some markings on his chest (bumps all over that we didn't recognize) and some white spots on his skin have all gone away. Signs of a healthy boy.

All five kids are outside right now enjoying a beautiful day with a new puppy. I think I will go join them....

Friday, July 3, 2009

Feeling Attacked

For some reason, it has been a challenging week. George has generally been continuing to take steps forward. Yet, my heart has been very distant from him. As I looked back at the previous week, I was struck by how there was one night that we cuddled on the couch and I just stared at George's face and started really loving.

Then...wham...I am suddenly cold and have very little feeling. It has to be the enemy. The one who wants nothing more than to keep this little boy in a place of fear and anger. I realized this last night and am determined to fight. Today, I am putting on the armor of God!!

Last night, Joe and I had a chance to reflect on how things are progressing and we both agreed that something significant has changed. In the beginning we disciplined George purely out of intentions of correcting/stopping behaviors. Now, we are disciplining because we care about the boy George is becoming. There is a big difference, at least in our hearts! We now want to see him being kind to others, taking turns, sharing...all those traits we teach our toddlers day after day so that when they are children they know how to treat other people. We have the challenge of teaching those traits to a 6 year old who doesn't share our language.

But, now we CARE! Our heart now breaks about sending him to school without the tools he needs to be a good listening, a good friend and a good boy. So, we continue to work and pour into George for the remaining two months of the summer.

He is learning so much! George now speaks in almost-complete sentences. It is fun listening to him string words together into a single thought. George loves cars, shoes, and his bike. Most of his sentences revolve around those three things - ha!

Yesterday, our neighbor decided to wash his truck. George had been over there playing with all the kids when he raced home and grabbed my hand, pulling me to come outside with him. As he pointed to our neighbor's driveway, his jumped up and down squealing! Dan was washing the car!!!

I walked George back over and told Dan that George was so excited about the truck being washed. Dan handed him a towel and George got to work. Two things struck me; most American children would complain about helping Dad wash the car - not George! He was all smiles. Second; the most simple things bring George joy. I don't know why washing a car was so exciting to him - I don't even know why cars are so fascinating. But, like Joe said, I have a ready made helper next time I want to wash my van.

This morning, as I was finishing reading the paper, George brought a book to me to read! This is big, big progress! George has never done that before. He brought a Fisher Price lift-the-flap book of colors, shapes and, of course, vehicles. We looked at the book together for about 30 minutes and George repeated all the English words as I pointed to different things.

In a few hours, we will be going to George's first zoo trip. We are very excited to see what will happen. I have heard stories of some Ethiopian children being very, very nervous about seeing certain animals. What our children find cool, African children have seen first hand kill and destroy. I am sure a little perspective will be gained.

So...I am reminded of my ever-present need to arm myself each morning. I am also reminded of how much God cares about little George; that He would use us to get him out of Ethiopia and into America where he has nutrition, safety and education. Yet, the enemy still wants to keep his grip on George's life. We can't ever underestimate the battle being waged over each and every soul on earth. We must work, as disciples of Christ, to win as many souls for the good side. In our case, it means we can't grow weary or want to give up. We must be armed. Today, I will.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Loving On My Terms

One thing has become abundantly clear; I was a mom who loved on my terms. I thought I was this great mom, giving for and to my kids and loving them fiercely. But, they always had something to give me in return. There were conditions.

My sin, yet again, became clear to me tonight as I tucked George into bed. Joe is busy and he couldn't come downstairs to tuck George and Lincoln into bed with me, as he usually does. So, Joe said goodnight in a different way tonight. I know, I know...all the adoption psychologists would say we have to keep the same routine - forever (just kidding)! But, the reality was tonight that only Mom could tuck the little boys into bed.

So, as I lean down to give George our usual hug and kiss, he turns away and shouts, "No Momma! Daddy hug."

Fine. I go over the Lincoln's bed and sit at his bedside for a few minutes and pray over the boys, which is my usual routine. After several minutes George calls out, "Momma, hug."

But, I don't want to. George has just rejected me for no reason, other than the fact that he was angry that Joe was not there. And because of that anger, he rejects me! I hadn't done anything wrong - in fact, I was leaning in for a hug and a kiss. So now I don't want to give him a hug. I want him to know that he has hurt my feelings and I can't just be there every time he changes him mind and gives me a call.

Darn it! There is that totally selfish woman again! Is this sin ever going to be crucified? Is this ever going to stop being an issue in my parenting of George?

Yet again, I see how much I treat God the exact same way that George treats me. Thankfully, God's character is perfect because He has every right to say, "no hug for you tonight! You rejected me all day, why would I give you a hug now?" Instead, he longs for our embraces and sweet times together.

Every day my need to be transformed into the likeness of Christ stares me in the face. Every day, I see the worst of my sins. Every day, I fall on my knees at the end of the day and ask God to get me through this. And every day, in the morning, His mercies are renewed.

This IS getting better. It's just right now, I still have some work to do on my heart.