Saturday, August 29, 2009

Everybody Hurt Georgie

As I sit down to write this evening, my heart is breaking and I can't seem to stop the tears from flowing down my cheeks. Joe and I have known something has been going on with George for a few days now. Suddenly, George would become very quiet, often going into his room to be alone. We couldn't make him smile or laugh and we just didn't know what to say to him.

Tonight, the dam was broken.

George opened up and told us a lot about life in Africa, and he was very, very sad. George told us about bad men coming to his village with guns. They pointed the guns at everyone. "Georgie very scared." George ran to hide and covered his ears because the guns were very loud.

"The bad men hit Georgie. They hit like this..." and he would smack his eyes and then smack his legs.

"The bad men had sticks and cut people and laugh..." and he would motion across his chest in a slicing motion.

Then George sobbed..."Everybody hurt Georgie."

My heart broke into a million pieces as I saw my son...my son...crying on his bed remembering how so many people have hurt him. Joe and I held him, and we let the tears fall down our cheeks and we both told him that he was safe now, no one would hurt George again.

Then, after a few minutes George said he got in a car with him mom. Then he cried more and said, "Georgie sad about Africa momma...". This is the first time we have heard him talk about his mother. He usually would shake his head "no" whenever we tried to bring her up, almost as if saying he didn't know his mother.


So much is beginning to come out now that we are trusting each other, but I think something even more important is happening; George is starting to love me. As things between George and I have been improving greatly over the last few weeks, he has also been battling in his heart over which momma to love...and I am so sorry that he has to go through this! I know he is starting to really love me...I catch him staring at me and then he will grin ear to ear, and when we hug..they are real strong hugs. And...I am starting to really love him! I stare at him when he is not looking and think what a handsome boy he is and I find myself wanting to touch him, with mother's touches, more and more often. But as George begins to fall in love with one mother, he has to let go of another. The other mommy was there at birth and I have no doubt, cradled him and wiped his tears. Life was very hard for George and I don't know how close he was with him mother, but she was his mother. Now he has a new mother and I can see the battle going on within this very hurt, scared little boy. Is it OK for him to let go of his birth mom and truly trust his forever mom?

After I tucked the kids into bed, I joined Joe in the garage (one of our only places to have peace and quiet) and I started crying....for the first time in 4 months I am so happy about what we have done! For the first time, I am no longer looking back and what we lost or what our family could have been. Instead I am so grateful for bringing George to a safe place and a home where he is loved by so many! But most importantly, I am grateful for what God is teaching me through this little boy.

I see a God who loved Georgebush Lema long before his was even born, and God knew that in 2009, he would join Joe and Traci Weldie in their desire to serve the Lord. God placed these two parties together, not promising it would be easy, but knowing full well that it would all work for good.

I am so grateful for those tough days in the beginning! Without those days in which I was at the end of myself, I would have never learned about the deep, wide and all-encompassing love of Jesus! Without those days, I would not have confronted my sin. Without those days, this night would not be as sweet as it is.

I am hear to say that GOD IS SO FAITHFUL! What His finger points you to, His hand will provide. I can't believe how far we have come in these few four months. Looking back, those hard days seem like a blip on the radar screen.

Oh, I feel like I am just rambling... probably because I am tired and have cried quite a bit tonight, but I knew I needed to get this out. I will try to write about this more eloquently tomorrow. Until then, my soul praises the Lord for what He has done in my life tonight!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

You Stay With Me

I am amazed at what is happening lately with my relationship with George...I really feel like I am becoming a mommy to him. During my discussion with our social worker this week, she pointed out something that I already knew was a pivotal point, but she put a different spin on it. Remember when I shared about the situation when George said he wanted to go back to Africa? And how Lincoln, our shepherd, told George how much he was loved here and then George decided to stay. I knew that point was pretty important, but Deb said, "You know... he made a choice to stay. He hasn't had any control over what has happened to him in the past. No one asked him how he felt about his father dying, or how he felt when his mother took him to the orphanage and then walked away. George had no choices in the orphanage and he surely had no choice in the new family that was adopting him. For the last two years, things have been happening to him to drastically change his life and he has had no "say" in the matter. In his mind, he now had the freedom to either go back to Africa or stay...and he chose to stay."

So George has made a decision, and I am here to say that life is so different after that point! Last night, George and I cuddled on the couch before bed to read a book. It is a very simple, early reader book, just one sentence per page. He is reading it! That in of itself, is huge praise and progress...but that is now where this ends.

After reading the book "over and over and over and over" (as George requested), it was time for bed. George asked for a big hug as he laid in bed and of course, I was happy to give him that big hug. What happened next has never happened before...he held on. In fact, he squeezed me so tight that I fell over! And then he started crying out, "You stay with me! You stay with me! I like you, Momma...please you stay with me!" And he would not let go.

A couple of things struck me. First of all, the obvious...George is letting me know of that deep fear of mommy leaving again. I reassured him that I loved him with my whole heart and that we would be together forever. But, what struck me the most was the phrase "I like you". At first I thought, why isn't he saying I love you? But then after thinking about it...saying I like you means more to him. He was taught in the orphanage to say "Thank you" and "I love you", but I don't think they mean anything to him. He has said "I love you" to me every day, but I don't think he meant it the same way we mean it. But, he knows what it means to like something, and I think for him to say he likes me was saying so much more! Again, he is not being forced to say it, it was not taught that this is something you need to say to your new American parents. He has made the decision to like his mommy...and that makes me so happy!

On a side note, as I was cooking dinner last night, all the kids were outside playing. George ran in to get a drink, ran out the house, and then suddenly raced back in. He came over to me and said, "Momma...dinner smell good!" with a huge smile in his face. I was so proud of his sentence, and I really appreciated how grateful he his to have a hot meal every night. After dinner he said, "Dinner very good. Very yummy. I like a lot." That's all we need to hear sometimes.

Too bad all my kids don't say that every night, huh?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Writing About Love

I have been asked to share "my story" at a women's conference coming up in October. Despite the fact that I blab my entire life here on the blog, I was very hesitant to do it. I was asked to share how an event changed me life, namely how attending Harvest Fest (a missions festival at our church) caused us to adopt. I wrote one testimony...but it just didn't sit right. I felt like God had a greater message to the women attending the conference. He said, "It's not about the adoption. It's about obedience and the love that is perfected through that obedience."

So, I scrapped the first testimony and began writing a second one, this time focusing on God's love and what I have learned about that love through the adoption. During the writing, I found something peculiar happening. I didn't want to write anything negative about George...I started thinking about how he would feel about his mom saying how difficult it was in the beginning, how he might be hurt or embarrassed. My heart broke thinking of how he might feel some day hearing about his behavior early on.

It's not his fault for the way he acted. But, while I was in the midst of the daily tantrums and the constant "no", all I could do was blame him! I accused him of being so selfish and so bad...looking back, that makes me very sad. I always thought I would turn these writings into a book, that other new adoptive moms and dads could read, in order to prepare for adopting an older child. But now I wonder if I ever will....I don't want my son to be hurt when he can read someday.

My prayer now is that this testimony, which will be filmed tomorrow, will be NOTHING about me or George or the adoption...but instead will point women to the immense, sacrificial and amazing love of God.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Good Weekend

I am happy to report tonight that we made it through a weekend without a major slipping back! Praise God!!! I think this is the first weekend in two months that we have made it through in happy spirits.

As we keep plugging away, I am still amazed at my struggle to love George. I have had to admit to myself and confess to God that I react harsher toward George, I tend to not give him the benefit of the doubt, and I am reluctant to hug and kiss him more than the other four. I am ashamed and embarrassed to admit these things...still.

I am patiently waiting for the love to come. To be honest, it feels as if it is starting to come, and that is good news for being only 4 months into the adoption. I just never thought it would take even this long!

The sermon today (and next week) are focusing on love...loving God and loving others. You know, the two greatest commandments according to Jesus, so we better pay attention to them, don't you think? Stuart Briscoe preached today and he said something that struck me...loving God is my joyful obedience in response to the knowledge of what he has done for me.

Joyful obedience....what exactly does that mean? Do not conform to the world, but be transformed. How? I feel like I am learning a small bit about this through loving George. I am commanded to love George, and in doing so, I love God. He loves George passionately...so much that he sent His son to die for George. I am to love him because he has no other mommy to love him. Loving George is my act of obedience right now...when I fail to love George, I fail to truly respond to the immense love to God toward me! How dare I do that?

I find it impossible to love George without being totally loved and in-love with God. I don't see how some can do this without God! My life is all about love these days; how much I needed to learn about love, seeing how deep and vast God's love is, and feeling how His love can sustain me in my weakest hour.

I am thankful that God is love.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How Little He Knows

Almost every day I am taken aback by how little general knowledge George knows. He has no concept of time, especially the days in a week or what a month is. Just yesterday, George got ahold of one of Harry's books, one that has amazing pictures of all the continents. We were flipping through the pages, enjoying looking at all the maps of the continents. On every page George would shout out, "America!" and I would correct him and say, "No, Europe." or "No, Australia."

George often flips through books backwards, so at the "end" of the book, we were at the first page which was a photograph of the Earth. George was amazed, "What is that?". I answered that was a picture of Earth and asked him if knew what the Earth was. He shook his head and I could tell this was something so new to him.

So, how do I explain to a 6 year old that we live on the Earth and the Earth is a planet that spins throughout space which is why we have day and night and summer and winter all depending on the tilt and position and rotation? Then I had to sit back and think that even my three year old understand the basic knowledge of where we live; on a planet called the Earth and that we circle the sun.

It saddens me that children around the world can make it through childhood without any basic education.

It also saddened me that George knew exactly what a gun was when he pulled out an advertisement from the paper today. He has no idea what the Earth is, but he knows how to shoot a gun.

The Battle

These words came from a man who is touring ET securing short term misions projects for his church. I think they are very important to repeat here:


As many of you know, scripture tells us the world is not about flesh and blood, but about the powers of good and evil. From conversations with the many Christians we meet and the more we learn about Ethiopia, we see that this is so very true here. The battle is over souls. The battle is won by Satan with every child that is not adopted, every street child that is starving and receives no love, every HIV/AIDS victim and doesn’t get help, and every soul that perishes without the Love of Jesus.

We can't continue to let Satan have such a stronghold.

Crash - Part II

There was another crash last night...this time it was a buna pot. Joe and I bought several traditional Ethiopian coffee pots while we were in Africa. It was the one thing I wanted to keep as a souvenir. I don't know why, I just really loved the look of those pots and I love coffee.

Well, two broke on the way home. Just shattered inside my luggage as I guess I didn't wrap them up quite enough. I think I cried about it. In that same suitcase were several handmade crosses, that we wanted to give away as gifts. We picked out one for our home and then made sure we had enough to give to friends. Four crosses broke. We gave ours away. All I had left was this buna pot that I placed in my kitchen.

No one heard the crash...Joe and I were upstairs lying on our bed talking, all the kids were in the living room watching Busy Town (remember that show? Even my 12 year old is loving watching that again). George popped up for a quick visit (he still doesn't like watching TV too much) and Joe said that he needed to make a phone call. George, in excitement yelled, "Georgie get phone!", and he raced down the stairs toward the kitchen to retrieve the phone.

Then, I noticed George coming up the stairs very slowly, and he did not have the phone in his hand. He was crawling up to the bed and was shaking a bit. I had just told Joe about some discipline that had taken place earlier that day involving George, and Joe decided to just say a simple word to George about that. But, George just laid on the floor, head down into the carpet and whispered, "Mommy no hit George."

We were stunned! Joe laughed and said, "Son, Mommy never hits George. Daddy is the one who gives the spankings." We just couldn't understand why he said that. Then George was trying to explain something, he said words like, "coffee, phone, fall,sorry", but we still couldn't understand what was going on. I finally said, "George, show Mommy." And he took my hand and led me down the stairs. He froze at the bottom of the stairs and then my eye went to the kitchen. There it was, my buna pot in about 25 pieces on the floor. I gasped a bit, at the surprise of seeing my last memento from my trip to Africa shattered. And George began sobbing. He fell into the arms of Joe who was sitting at the bottom of the stairs.

George felt so bad. This wasn't the forced remorse we often place on our children, "Now, you say you're sorry!". This was true and genuine sadness. We both assured George that we were not mad at all. I called George to come to me and as I held him I told him the pot was just a thing, and it didn't matter at all. I knew it was an accident and I was not angry with George. We asked if he understood and he nodded his head and wiped the tears from his cheeks.

I felt so bad about George thinking that he would be hit for this. I know that Ethiopian culture can get pretty violent toward their children when they reach a certain age. It is as if they let the children get away with anything and everything and then suddenly come down like a hammer! It is so unfair for those kids. George probably had experienced getting hit for something innocent like breaking something accidentally. I know he also tries to hide his pajamas in the morning when his Pull-Up leaks (or more accurately overflows - sorry). He is so afraid that he will get in trouble for...well...just being a kid.

We are getting there - I know I keep saying that and I am not sure exactly where "there" is. I can't tell you how much my heart has changed over the past few months. Surgery was done, open heart surgery that was painful. But, it is healing now and I am ready to love my son. And I am here to tell you that this can ONLY be done by letting God's love overflow into me and then through me...all of this is about God's love! What an amazing love it is.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Crash

A very exciting thing happened today in the Weldie family. Well, not so exciting for mom and dad, but extremely exciting for George.

He LOVES cars! And, he thinks we can just get a new one like going to buy a gallon of milk. Joe has a busted side-view window and George keeps bugging Joe to get a new car because his is "broken".

Today, someone hit my car....crash! Busted the front and punctured my radiator. Water poured out, the body of the car is totally cracked, and George just thought it was the coolest thing to see this broken car. The first thing he said to me was (very happily, I might add), "Now Momma new car!! Yea! New car!"

No, we will not be getting a new car. But I just might have to take him tomorrow morning to the watch the car get fixed.

Falling Back

I should have known it was coming, and I probably was secretly waiting for it. The problem is that it always catches me unaware. I am talking about another meltdown, or another two steps back. The frustrating thing is that I just don't remember reading about this trend, nor did I answer questions about it on the national adoption test I had to take. Does this only happen to us?

Things were going great! On our weekly prayer walk, Joe and I were so full of praise of the progress that had been made over that week. Does the enemy just hang around and listen in on our prayers? Well, I do know that the Bible says that Satan prowls the earth, roaming it back and forth looking for someone to devour. Doesn't that just put a chill in your bones? We have a very real enemy who wants nothing more than to destroy you. But for many of us, he just wants to discourage us, or maybe render us complacent...as long as we are not being light in a dark world, that is what matters to him. I could write a lot on this subject! I have family members who claim to be Christians but are "uncomfortable" to talk about Jesus. I have a question....what are you going to do in Heaven when all we do is worship Jesus? Are you going to be uncomfortable to say his name then? I have family members who have recently claimed there is no God. I have a question....who created you? Who created the universe? Who holds all things together? Were you around when all this happened?

OK - enough tangent. I apologize for offending anyone. Wait, no, I don't apologize. If you were uncomfortable with what I just wrote, maybe you need some time to think about your answers.

Can you tell I have some pent up frustrations about this? HA! Seriously though, I love all of my family and I long for them to know the peace and the love and the forgiveness and the mercy and the grace that I know because of knowing Christ! Life became that much better when I decided to sell out for Jesus. Of course, some think I am a bit of a freak, wanting to always talk about Jesus and what He has done in my life...but my whole life revolves around Jesus! I mean whether I am walking closely, hand in hand or whether I am trying to walk the other way, it all about Jesus. He is the center point of my life and EVERYTHING centers around my relationship with Him.

This is not to say that life is rosy, honkey-dorey, no problems and I am now Pollyanna. Not at all! But LIFE IS BETTER. Joe and I were on a date last weekend and rode his motorcycle up to a small town in central WI. We walked into an Amish run store and found this amazing wood sign that brought us both to tears. We decided right then and there that we wanted this sign in our house and that our children needed to know this is how we lived our lives. It was about being a Christian....and how being a Christian does not mean you are perfect, but instead means you know you are a sinner in need of a savior. On and on this sign goes (it's really big and there was no way to bring it home on the motorcycle), convicting us and reminding us that our witness needs to be about our brokenness not our "perfection".

I am broken...I make mistakes...I fail people...I sin daily....but at the end of the day I know my savior died for me, to make me clean before God. How can I not live a life that talks about this amazing love every day? It is so easy to let days go by where I just "go through the motions" of a Christian life! Sure, I attended church on Sunday, I listen to some Christian songs now and then, I'm nice to my kids and I make sure my husbands underwear are clean. Isn't that good enough? I am here to remind myself that is not enough!

I was talking with my neighbor yesterday when I heard her say, "All roads lead to the same God"...you know that wonderful argument that propagates American thinking these days. Don't question the Muslim or the Buddhist or the Agnostic...we're all on a path leading to the same place, it's just that there are several paths to chose from. I am here to ask, if that is true, why did Jesus die for us? Mohamed didn't sacrifice his life for us. Buddha didn't sacrifice his life for us. Why did Jesus, who all agree was this "great teacher" and "good man", die for a people that totally rejected him and cried out for his Crucifixion? Wouldn't he at some point say, "Ok - forget this! I really don't mean that I am the son of God. This is crazy! Get me out of here!"? But, he didn't! He stayed on that cross, an excruciating death! He could have called down legions of angels to rescue him, but he didn't. He stayed on that cross until "it" was finished. What was "it"? The complete covering of MY sin, so one day I can stand before God totally guilty and filthy with my sin, waiting to hear "CONDEMNED" only to hear "Wait. This one is mine. I paid the price for her sin."

How can we not talk about this? How can we only live a life that pseudo-worships on Sunday mornings? How can we conveniently brush our sin under the rug?

So, this started out as a post to tell you about how George fell back last night, how he screamed in his room until he fell on the floor exhausted, how Joe and I sat in the living room exacerbated. But, instead, I am reminded of how much Christ loves me. He loves enough to die. And, He calls us to exercise that same love! The road comes full circle again and Jesus gently reminds me to lift that boy off the floor, cradle him in my arms, whisper "it's Ok" in his ear, and then stand him on his feet and watch him go, knowing he is fully loved by his parents.

It is the least I can do! I have a savior who stayed on a cross for me. All He is asking me to do is love a little boy who has never known this kind of love.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Wipeout

Our life is changing. I can sense that by the lack of time I have to sit down and update my blog! Instead of sitting down at the computer because I need to process my feelings, I find myself hanging with all my kids. Maybe I realize summer is quickly flying by and before I know it, four of the kids will be waiting at the end of the driveway for their bus to take them to school? I am not exactly sure why I have had troubles getting to the blog these days, but I do know life is changing...for the better.

Joe and I have had a lot of time to talk about how far George has come in three short months. While I was in the middle of "the grind", I really had to convince myself that things would eventually get better. I am not sure I believed it, but I would say those words. Now, I believe it. Here are a couple of sweet stories from the past week:

Last weekend, for some strange reason, all 5 kids ended up on my bed watching TV at night. There were watching "Wipeout" and I could hear them belly-laughing while I was trying to get some chores done downstairs. I delivered some finished laundry to my room and George greeted me with a huge smile and said, "Mommy lay down!" I couldn't at that point, I had other clothes waiting to be dropped off into various rooms and I really wanted to get that chore done and behind me. After completing my assignment, I did exactly what George asked me to do, I laid down on my bed. Before I knew it, George climbed on top of me, lying fully body on top of me, and hugging me tight around my waist. I couldn't believe it! He was just like a toddler, or even a baby that just climbs onto his mommy. It didn't last long, and no words were spoken (or even needed to be spoken). In that one gesture, George became a little boy who needed a mommy. A boy who needed that love and physical touch that only a mom can provide...and I was so happy to provide that for him.

Yesterday, Joe and I were reading on the front porch (and yes, we do that a lot around our house!), when George came out and decided to play with Gunnar. What is exceptional about this is that when we picked up George from the orphanage, he was terrified of dogs. We had a dog staying in the house right next to ours (we shared a garage) and George would regularly scream and throw rocks at the dog. Now, George has his own puppy and I can tell he is in love. Yesterday, George and Gunnar played tug-of-war with an old t-shirt and then they played chase around the front yard. When Gunnar got tired and plopped himself down, George laid on his belly right across from the puppy. Those two stared at each other, eye to eye, and George giggled! He then made a funny face and Gunnar cocked his head to one side (how German Shepherd often do). They just continued to lay there and stare at each other in pure contentment and peace. Truly a moment of a boy and his dog.

In the last week we have taken long walks with George, have been able to go to a new house for lunch, attend a new church and try some new food. We also have new words and George is saying a few complete sentences. We talk daily about the upcoming school year and are working at preparing him for a whole new stage in his life. We have talked a lot about Africa this week (Joe had a very interesting conversation about kaka and shinte). And at the end of each day, George has continued to come to us and say, "Georgie no Africa. George America."

There is hope and change...and it came from sacrificial love and obedience to a God who holds all things in His hands.

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Georgie Africa!"

There is so much to tell about what is going on with George the last few days. I don't even know exactly where to begin and this post may end up going backwards chronologically. Sorry.

We have hit a very crucial point in our adoption of George. The permanance of his situation seems to have finally hit him; he is now our son and he will live in America. This is not such an easy thing for a boy who has only known Africa for his entire life. I am sure he was told things about life in America, and I am also sure that our country life in Wisconsin has not always lived up to those stories. So, in the last few days, we have heard a lot about Africa and specifically "Georgie Africa!", which means he wants to go back.

Today, George was caught in two lies. Earlier, he lied about stealing some chewing gum from Isabel, and I will admit that I had too much on my plate today to deal with it other than just a scolding. This evening, he lied again. This time, there were witnesses. And all we wanted was the truth! Telling the truth has been so hard for George - it seems he will lie about the littlest thing. I am sure he is afraid and I am also sure he learned to lie living in an orphanage for a year, but we just won't tollertate lying in our house, so it was time to deal with this head on.

Joe took over (despite coming home in a horrible mood and just wanting to "retreat" to the bedroom - that's the awesome man I married!). He made sure from all the witnesses what really happened. Then Joe took George into his room and asked him the same question over and over again, "George, did you throw the shoe at Harry?". Trust me, George completely understood the question and time and time again he stubbornly answered, "No!"

Joe very clearly and simply explained that he wanted to be told the truth, to tell Daddy what he did. When George became even more belligerent, Joe needed to spank George. That is when George yells out, "Georgie Africa!" and runs out of his room, heading for the door.

We had a choice to make in a split second....do we let him run out or do we try to talk to him some more. We chose to watch him run. Shoeless and braving the misquito infested yard at dusk, we perched ourselves at various windows throughout the house and watched our son walk away.

I had just mowed the grass this afternoon, so our boundary was very clear, and George walked to the far corner of our yard. And then he stopped. He looked back at the house, but because we are sly we had turned off all the lights so he could not see that we were watching him.

He thought for a while. I am sure he was thinking about taking a step off our land. But, instead he sat down, right on the edge of the road at the far boundary of our acre. And he sat....and he stayed. I could see him swatting feverishly, and I just knew the misquittos were feasting the easy target. But still he stayed. A few cars raced by. We don't live on a busy street at all, but occasionally we get the testoerone laddened teenager doing 55 down our street. All of a sudden, the thought of a careless driver speeding down the street and not seeing this little boy at dusk griped my mind. A knot formed in my stomach and I immediately started praying. Eleanor could sense my change in attitude and she put her arm around me and started praying with me. "Oh Lord, protect this little boy. Do not let any harm come to him. Bring him home to us."

It was then that I thought of a recent sermon I had listened to by Stuart Briscoe. He was discussion the prodigal son and he made a point that I had failed to really notice before; the father did not go after the son. I thought how that father must have prayed that same prayer every day, a prayer of protection and of bringing that boy home. Yet, the son needed to make up his own mind to come home.

And that is what we needed to do. Eventually, everyone left their window perch, except momma, of course. I continued to watch every move he made. I even quietly opened a window so I could hear if he was saying anything. After about 20 minutes, George stood up and started slowly walking back home. I continued to watch, but now I could actually breath.

He climbed onto the front porch, looked in the windows and paused. One last time, he took a minute to think things through. Then, he finally walked through the door and into the arms of his daddy who said, "I am glad you came home."

This time, when Joe talked to George about telling the truth, George admitted that he had thrown the shoe. George then came to me and told me the truth. Joe and I praised him and told him we loved him so! And then, of course, the issue of the shoe being thrown had to be dealt with, but we had made such huge progress!

About an hour later George came over to Joe and I and said, "Georgie no Africa. Georgie like America."

This wasn't the first time we had heard this statement this weekend. In fact, it has been said often over the last few days. I think George is really coming to a place of acceptance, and maybe even a place of love for his family.

Saturday night, Joe and I were reading on the front porch when George came out with his yellow popsicle and sat down on the step. He looked out over the land and then said, "Georgie go back to Africa." There was no emotion; nothing had just happened to make him say this out of anger. I think he really thought that he wanted to go back. Back to all the words he understood and all the familiar sounds and smells. Everything here is just so different!

Joe and I were a bit shocked and did not know what to say. George then said, "Hailu Georgie brother in Africa." Now, we know Hailu and we know that he is not George's brother. But, he was George's ONLY friend for the year in the orphanage. We explained that Hailu was not his brother...but then precious little Lincoln interrupted.

"Georgie...I am your brother and I love you so much. And Mommy and Daddy flew all the way to Africa to bring you home. You are my brother and I want you to stay with me. I love you, Georgie."

We sat stunned. We have always joked that Lincoln is our "little shepherd", caring so intensely for his siblings, but this was pretty special. We watched George for there simply was nothing more that needed to be said and us bumbling parents probably would have ruined the moment if we would have jumped in with some "great thought for the moment". No, we both were silent...and watched.

George didn't say anything, but we could see the wheels turning in his mind. Lincoln walked away, down the front path, but then stopped and came back and simply said, "Come on George, let's go play!" And off they ran together...brothers.

Nothing else was said about what George had brought up. But a few hours later, George came to me and said, "George no Africa. George like America." And I believed him. I truly believe that George made a pivotal decision on that front porch, and consequently had the time today to reaffirm that decision. George WANTS to be here.

Thank you, Lord!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Boy and Lake Michigan

Only time for another short post, but we have had some really good days this week! I think Joe and I have been waiting this whole time for what we are seeing right now; the world through the eyes of George.

It has taken 3 months for George to be happy. But now, we can't seem to keep the smile off his face.

Yesterday, George experienced something for the first time, Lake Michigan! He was so excited and couldn't contain the squeals and smiles. I was sad the the lake felt like an ice-cube and George could only stand to run in and then run out. But, he kept doing just that...for hours with his best friend and sister, Isabel. He continued running until he knelt on the blanket shivering and shaking with blue lips. He loved watching his big brother, Harry, take the boogie board out onto the lake. He joined Lincoln as he attempted to build a sand castle and he then flew a kite with Eleanor.

When Joe got home at dinner, George ran to meet him and just couldn't contain himself as he yelled, "George big swimming!" His hand sweeping across the sky as he tried to explain to Joe how big the swimming was! So big! And so cool!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Boy And His Ice-cream

I have been waiting for this moment! We are a huge ice-cream eating/loving family. In fact, I may be one of the biggest ice-cream fans you will ever meet. I grew up having a bowl of ice-cream every night after dinner...yes, every night!!! (I get this guilty pleasure from my dad).

So...imagine the devastation when George turns in disgust at his first taste of ice-cream. It was if he said with his eyes, "What in the world is this? You know I hate milk and now you are trying to get me to eat really, really cold milk???"

The second time, we got him a cone and he gave it the ol' college try - but again, was disgusted when it melted all over his hand before getting two licks in. He quickly ran to the trash can and threw the whole cone away and asked to wash his hands.

The third time, we were at Culvers and as all the other kids gobbled up their custard of the day, George asked for more chicken.

There was a fourth and a fifth time, and both of those times we simply ordered something else for George (a pretzel at one joint and some cookie dough chunks the next time we were at Culvers).

But then...it finally happened! Our family had some gift certificates for some free ice cream at a local popular ice-cream place and it was a nice summer evening. I was not going to give up on George and ice-cream, so I ordered him some blueberry ice-cream, thinking maybe if it was more fruity he might like it. His ice-cream came up right away and so he took his cone and walked outside to where Daddy was sitting on a bench. I got distracted chatting with people (so unlike me, I know) and next thing I know, George is giving me a high-five and saying, "Momma, George like ice cream!"

Yahoo! I think I did a little dance and embarrassed all my clan, but I was so happy to have this shared experience.

And today...he had the opportunity to try his first root-beer float.....and he loved it!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mourning

I recently received a message from a fellow adoptive mom (thank you, K!) that mentioned something that rang true in my heart; something I had not wanted to admit before. But, here is goes. I am mourning.

I was prepared for George to go through mourning - all the books and courses and tests all teach about the adopted child going through a process of mourning the loss of culture, all things familiar and birth parents. There are tools in place to help the child talk about his feelings and help him move through the grieving process.

But, what about the momma? My mourning is over a loss; the loss of how things used to be. My life will never be the same. My bio children will never be the same. My marriage will never be the same. These changes are not necessarily all negative; in fact my marriage is much stronger because of what Joe and I have gone through together. But there is still a sadness of what used to be.

Even when George can speak fluent English and even when he grows comfortable with us, we will never be the same. We will still get stared at when we walk into a room, we will still have to explain to people why we adopted, when we adopted and how we adopted.

I am happy with George. He makes us laugh sometimes and we are amazed at how much he is communicating with us these days. I am happy that he is excited about going to school and it is so cute to watch him with our puppy. Things are generally good; they are tough, but they are good. Still, I can't shake the idea of what we used to be.

This is when I can only turn to the ONE who sustains me and who loves me. And as I write this, George walks in and gives his momma a big hug. Psalm 55 speaks to me:

"My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught
at the voice of the enemy,
at the stares of the wicked; (v2-3)
But I call to God,
and the Lord saves me.
Evening, mourning and noon
I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice. (v16-17)
Cast your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you;
he will never let the righteous fall. (v22)
But as for me, I trust in You." (v23b)

God hears my cries and He sees my mourning. Yet, He called me to adoption and He called us specifically to adopt Georgebush from Ethiopia - in these things I am certain. I am also reminded that we have only been a family for 3 months! Three months and already I have a boy who comes to me when he needs a hug and a son who laughs as he jumps into a pool with his brothers and sisters. I have a son who adores his father and loves a puppy. We ARE "getting there", but our "getting there" will be a new normal. I can no longer go back to being a mom of four kids who look like me and have been loved by since since before birth; I can't go back.

I am throwing all my worries and doubts and fears on God because He can handle it! He will sustain me; He will hold me up, He will stand behind me and physically cradle me when I can no longer stand on my feet. He is whispering in my ear that it will all be OK...and so I trust Him.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Long Walk

I recently finished an amazing book called The Plain Life about a man who leaves academia and decides to become a Mennonite in order to obtain a much more simple life. He and his wife pare down to a three room house with no electricity, they learn how to garden enough to sustain life and they practice silence with their three children for an hour each day. The author of the book feels that God is asking him to relinquish his Ohio state drivers licence and makes the walk from south eastern Ohio to Columbus in order to officially turn in the piece of plastic. The book is about that 5 day walk.

There are so many observations the author makes along the way that have stuck in my heart, days after reading it. One of those observations was simply how much we miss as we zoom past scenery in a car, noting the difference when walking. Sunday, Joe and I had the opportunity to slow down and notice our world.

Joe and I decided not to attend church Sunday (and No! We are not advocating forgoing corporate worship!). We simply decided to read our Psalms and Proverbs with the children and then head out for a long prayer-walk. It was a gorgeous morning - one of those Wisconsin summer days that I just love. Clear blue skies, puffy white clouds, and a cool eastern breeze. We started out and Joe said, "I'm not sure how to do this. I have never prayed while walking before." It made me chuckle a bit...we surely do get stuck in ruts sometimes where we think we must be heads bowed and hands folded in order to pray.

But, being the man I passionately love, Joe just started us in prayer and loudly addressed our Father in heaven as we started on our walk. What happened next was a two hour walk with Jesus. At one point, Joe stated with tears and a trembling voice, "He is walking with us. Do you feel it?"

Indeed I was feeling it. We were simply crying out all our praises and all our worries and all our requests on our walk, as if we were just talking with out best friend. We kept our eyes wide open and were blessed with amazing beauty around us. Nothing "special" happened, just the ordinary summer day in Wisconsin - but it was so beautiful! How many times had we raced down this road barely noticing the wild flowers growing in that field, or the cows grazing in that field, or the towering pines in the back of that yard? Too many times.

We were rejuvenated, refreshed and ready for the week. It was a long walk of pure shabbat. Walking with Jesus and my husband has graced me with what I need to start this week.