Saturday, February 27, 2010

Re-Make Me

We have had a good week with George :)

Joe and I, on the other hand, are being re-made.

We find ourselves in this very interesting place of knowing God is working in our lives, but none of it is comfortable or sweet or nice. But it is good.

For the first time in my life, I am looking at people with a new, re-made heart. I love so much more than I ever did before. I now have empathy for people I never had any time for before. I now look at people instead of color or clothing or cars they drive. I long for a diverse culture that is worshiping the Lord as one - the all white chorus I am used to has grown boring and stale.

Joe is learning that his job is not who he is. He is learning that the world respects big watches and even bigger cars as soft, chubby CEOs go out to steak dinners, but God wants something different for him (OK, not all CEOs are not soft and chubby - sorry for that). Joe is learning that money is not the greatest thing he brings to his family. Joe is now seeing injustice in this world and longs for Christ to come and "wipe the slate clean".

I never thought adopting a child from Africa would bring about so many changes. I don't necessarily think one has anything to do with the other. But what happened was Joe and I stepped out in obedience...really stepped out....for the first time in our lives. And that opened the door for God to re-make us.

We keep saying we will look back on these days as some of the best of our lives. I am sure of that...because in this time, God was hard at work in our lives, molding us into something He can use.

Friday, February 26, 2010

No School in Wisconsin = Sledding!

A day off school meant you could find the Weldie's at the closest hill for a morning of sledding!


My kids, whom I love so much because they are all willing to be daring and sled off ramps and be outside for hours.


Harry going head-first. I think he ended up with a face full of snow at the end of this run.


I LOVE this picture of Georgie! So, one year ago today, he was barefoot in a very warm climate! Look at him now!!!


Lincoln sportting his new hat, knitted with love by my sister. All of the kids had something from my sister all representing USA!




Harry.



Harry, mastering the snow board (he was little fired up by his little sister being able to snow board!)

This is Eleanor landing back on her sled after flying off the ramp - I missed her in the air and caught her landing...hard!

George catching his breath - it was a long walk up the hill.

Isabel's turn to hit the huge ramp.....

...and she was able to hang on for the landing!

Making Decisions

A lot of our conversations with George these days revolve around making decisions. We are trying to urge him to think through something before he does it or says it; is that a good choice or a bad choice? During these times, I see such a fierce internal struggle inside George. Sometimes he just doesn't want to do what is right, it goes against his entire survival mode. Sometimes the right choice means trusting me or putting someone else first; both of which are foreign to a little boy trained to make it.

I realize now why we picked up a very healthy boy. He thinks of himself. I am sure he was the first to the dinner table and the first to get seconds and the first to finish all his food. I am sure he fought for his place and for his protection. That survival instinct is what enabled him to survive in poverty and dire situations.

And now, we are trying to convince him to not be so fierce. Trust us. We are going to do what is good and best for you. And in return, we expect you to make the right choices.

And again, this life I am living points exactly to my relationship with God. I am struggling to trust Him these days. I am all about "self"; self preservation, self reliance, self-ish ness. God says, just trust me, I am going to do what is good and best for you and in return, I ask that you make the right choices.

Frankly, some days I don't want to make the right choice. And I see George fighting with himself about the same thing; some times he simply does not want to make the right choice.

This morning, George wanted tortilla chips for breakfast, and he wanted to carry the entire bag into the living room as he played wii (they have a day off school). I said no. I told him he needed to eat a "real" breakfast at the table. George was so, so mad. He stopmed off (and this is very typical, he still struggles greatly right now with being told no!) and muttered something mean under his breath. I stopped him and said, "You have a choice to make right now. I am more than willing to get you breakfast, or you can throw a tantrum and have no breakfast this morning."

That boy walked around the kitchen for about 15 minutes with a scowl on his face. And I could see the wheels spinning in his head; should he fight for what he wants (tortilla chips) or will he give in to Mom and take the hot breakfast made for him. He fought and fought this internal battle...and then finally, he came to me and said, "Can I have a hot breakfast please?" He gave in. I praised him for making the right choice.

And I saw myself there. The internal battles I have to make right choices; be in the Word, refuse to gossip, treat my children with love and forgiveness, always honor my husband. They seem like easy choices, just like the choice George had to make, but my sinful nature seems to always make challenges out of the little decisions.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I Forgive You So Much!

I have been convicted about talking to George more intentionally about Jesus and what his death did for us, as sinners. I know this part of the story has been missing for George. The area he was raised in is known for being an evangelical Christian part of Ethiopia, but there is still a heavy mix of orthodox Christianity that can confuse a lot of things. For instance, the people believe in Jesus Christ and God being able to heal, yet they will still place burning sticks on a child stomach if he has a stomach ache thinking a spirit works through the fire. So, when George has talked about "knowing Jesus", he always talks about Jesus being hurt by mean men and being dead.

That is where the story would end. What hope is there is life if the rest of the story is not heard?

I also know that George needs to begin to have an understanding of his own sinfulness. He needs to begin to think of others, put others first, and honestly, he needs to know that he hurts others...often. Because of this, I have started talking to him about Jesus dying on the cross to take the punishment for all the bad things we do. Forgiveness has always been a big topic of discussion in our family, I have just been working on putting the concept of forgiveness into words George would understand.

I think something is getting through.

This morning, George knocked over a cup of apple juice and made a huge mess. I was not in the kitchen when it happened, but a few minutes later, he walked out into the living room with splatter marks all over his clothes. Like any momma, I asked him what made those marks? Silence.

I decided to walk into the kitchen where I was met with a huge spill at the base of the refrigerator. I opened the door and it was one of those spills that happened at the top of the fridge and was successful in splattering apple juice on each and every level below it, including the door and the sides! Big mess.

I kept my cool and asked George into the kitchen. I explained that when he makes a mess, he has two choices: clean it up himself or come tell mom right away. Neither of these two things had been done.

No anger, no guilt, just a plea for George to tell me if something like this happens again. At this point, I sent him to his room to make his bed, like he does every morning.

When he finished making his bed he raced into the kitchen and wrapped his arms around me and said, "I forgive you soo, sooo, sooo much!"

I laughed and said, "What did I do that needs your forgiveness?"

He got it and said, "Oh no! I mean I am sorry soo, soo, soo much! And I know Momma will forgive me."

It is moments like this that keep me going....

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wild Olive Tees




I just discovered these awesome tees. Take a look at their website and check out many cool tees for women and kids. What a great way to wear scripture!

These shirts for Haiti will raise money- 100% of the money raised will go toward relief work in Haiti through Eyes Wide Open International.

Click here to check it out: www.wildolivetees.com

Pictures From the First Day!

George listening to his guitar-radio!

George and Steven (our next door neighbor).


Talking on the phone with Grammy and Pop-pop.


Here comes the cake!!!




Blow out those candles!



Cards first.





George clapped and shouted, "Hooray!" many times this day. He is opening a box full of rescue vehicles that make noise and have lights (from Grandma and Grandad). What I love most about this picture is my daughter....she looks truly happy for her brother.





A new game for his Leapster.





And last, but certainly not least...the light-up shoes!


I have to tell you, George was awake at 2:00am, 2:30am, 3:30am, 4:30am, 5:15am all asking me if it was time to get up and get dressed. By 6:10, he was fully dressed...with his light-shoes on.








Monday, February 22, 2010

So Proud

Today, George turned 7 years old! He woke up, I said, "Happy birthday!" and he replied, "Hooray!"

It was a great day! We started with our usual morning routine and the whole time George was talking a mile a minute speculating about what his "first day" presents were going to be...he was sure he would get a gun (both brothers got one for their birthdays) or some cars or some "light shoes". When it was time to pile into the car, George was giggling and laughing; he just couldn't wait to get to school. I had 24 cupcakes, decorated and ready to go along with some festive napkins. He has 15 kids in his class and I gave him strict instructions to not bring any cupcakes home. We planned out all the teachers and aids who would also celebrate today in George's birthday; the principal, his Title 1 teachers, his ESL teachers and many others who have touched George's life at school. They all were given a cupcake and a smile.

After school, our neighbor surprised us with a visit. He came over to play wii and a few rounds of hide-n-go-seek. There was a lot of laughter and delight as the kids simply enjoyed a fun afternoon. Homework was done at the table, while I prepared dinner (something spicy, especially for George) and we waited for Daddy to get home.

Dad finally walked in the door and George ran to him saying, "Today is my first day!", as if Joe didn't know. George filled Joe's ear with story after story about giving the cupcakes away, being told happy birthday by other kids walking through the hallway, and how Steven spent the afternoon playing at our house.

George knew the order: dinner, cake, presents. So, by the time I finished serving the family dinner and sat down to pray, George had eaten 1/2 his plate! He gulped down the rest in about 30 seconds and announced, "Time for cake!"

We got the cake out, lit the candles and turned out the lights and we all sang happy birthday to Georgie! His smile was huge - practically ear to ear! At this point I began to think, this child has never been sung to this way...a whole family celebrating HIS life.

Presents and cards were next and I have to giggle! One came celebrating his 8th birthday (he is 7) . He didn't care - he loved each and every one (especially the giant 8 card!). He first opened the gift from my mom and dad - three, yes three, rescue vehicles that make a lot of noise! Sirens and lights and horns...just what he loves! But, he saw the other wrapped presents and knew he wanted to open more. Next came a Leapster game (Wall-E), a flying V guitar shirt with a guitar shaped walkman - he was just getting more and more excited with each gift. Then the big one...this was the moment we had all been waiting for...the big gift was coming.

He tore open a bit of paper and saw the shoe box. He gasped. He squealed. We encouraged him to continue unwrapping the present and he did. When he was able to open the box, he yelled "hooray!" and clapped his hands wildly....it was "light shoes"!!! The whole family cheered. Everyone. We were all genuinely happy for this amazing boy getting such a prized gift like light-up shoes. Before I could even tell him what to do, the shoes were on his feet and he was just laughing with pure delight. Even better than regular "light shoes", these looked like police cars and the lights were the headlights, so George can clearly see the lights. We ran into his bedroom and purposefully did not turn on the lights - oh my! Those shoes looked so cool.

George was so happy. He let his brothers take turns with his Wall-E game and then let his sister listen to the radio for a bit. He didn't care as long as he had those shoes on. The cake was delicious. The gifts were just right. And the love was palpable in our home.

This is the first "first day" we have had with our son! This is his first "first day" celebration where the family all celebrated his life! I know George says "first day" and we think it is so cute, but today really was his "first day".

At the end of the night, when everyone was settling down in their rooms, George walked out and spotted me on the couch. He pointed to me, smiled and said, "Momma. I am so proud of you tonight. I am so proud of you for loving me."

I know he didn't really mean to say "I am proud of you" for proud isn't quite the word he was looking for. But....what he said meant the world to me tonight.

Deserts

As I look out my window, my back yard is blanketed with a fresh batch of pure white snow. The branches of the trees look as if they were sprinkled with powdered sugar and there is not a single track or footprint to be seen. Beautiful.

So, it is ironic that I begin to write about a desert as this is the scene before me. But, in a desert is exactly where our family can be found these days.

We are the Israelites. There IS a promised land! We have been freed from so many things that were holding us captive a year ago! But, what lies between the freedom from captivity and the promised land? A big, vast desert. And God is asking us to walk through it. So we are.

Right after Lincoln and I dropped off the kids at school today, Blessed Be Your Name came on the radio. To this day, my kids just love this song. So, I left it on the radio and listened as Lincoln began to sing. Then, out of the blue he said, "Mom, can you turn it down?"

"Sure, buddy. What's up?"

"It is so sad to be lost in the desert."

I sat silent.

"Can you turn it up, Mom?"

On the rest of the short drive home, I was moved to tears. I think we all will be asked to walk through a desert place sometimes, with the promise land before us and captivity behind us. The challenge to me is HOW I walk through the desert; with or without God? In joy or in sadness?

God was speaking to me. It's not so bad to be walking through the desert when He is with me. What's sad is to be LOST in the desert. To be stumbling around with no idea where to go next. Finding myself in the desert is hard, but it's not impossible. There is praising and joy and we know God is going before us, leading us through a landscape that seems impossible to pass. It really isn't that bad when God is there guiding our family.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Photos

It's funny how I can go days without any words coming to my mind to write here...I hate those days because I long to come to these quiet spots in my day to write and process what I have been going through. But, over the last few weeks, I have been stretching to put something...anything down.

Now, I find myself anxious! I have so many things I want to say, words and sentences and paragraphs form in my head as I drive to Walmart, or as I lie in bed at 3:00am wide awake. I have yet to feel I have those sentences and paragraphs well thought out yet, so I hesitate to start.

So, while these complicated thoughts are wrestling in my mind, God has blessed me with two precious moments with George today (thank you, God!). First, I received a wonderful email from a new friend (isn't it funny how blog-world connects us?) to share how our two sons were friends in Soddo! It is always so wonderful to get these little glimpses into George's life before coming to us. The mom shared a few pictures of her son and when George got home from school, I asked him to join me at the computer. I showed him a picture of a handsome boy, smiling and playing in front of a wall I found very familiar, for George had stood in front of that exact wall posing for pictures for me.

George said, "I know him! His name is...uh...t..t...t..starts with t!" I told him his name and he leaped, "Yes! He was my friend." He smiled and giggled and said, "Can we drive to his house?"

A few minutes later, I decided to show George some adorable pictures of a little boy recently united with his forever family. I have always said that this little baby reminds me so much of Georgie. There is something about his eyes and his smile that look just like my son's eyes and smile. So, I said, "Hey George, look at this cute baby."

George paused, turned his head to one side, put a puzzling look on his face and then said, "That look like me, Momma! I think that is Georgie as a baby."

I had to tell George that this was not a picture of him, but that he can meet this baby soon. He was OK with that and happily skipped back into the living room to play with his brothers. I, sat back and thanked God for this little picture, this maybe-picture, of what my son looked like as a baby. If I would have known George then, I would have loved him so much that he would be totally secure today. If I would have known George then, he would not have gone through nearly the amount of suffering he has gone through. If I would have known George then, I would have already discovered what every cry meant, what he thought was funny and what touched his heart.

My heart grieves that I have missed out on 6 years of his life. I have such a history with my kids by the time they are six! With George, I am just now figuring things out, and I know I am just beginning to scratch the surface. Adoption is born out of loss. George's loss. George's mom and dad's loss. My loss. My family's loss. We ALL have experienced loss through this process. We all must mourn and grieve what we never had, or what will never be again.

But, only through something like adoption, where there is so much loss involved, can beauty rise from the ashes. We will continue on this journey because there is no other choice - I am like Peter when Jesus' teaching got hard! Many disciples turned and walked away and Jesus asks Peter, "What about you? Are you going to leave, too?" Peter replies, "Go where? Now that I know the truth, there is no other way to go."

I have been touched by God more intimately that I ever have in all my life. Now that I have felt this love, this faithfulness, there simply is no other way to live. So, I keep moving forward...sometimes simply putting one foot forward in a week, but still moving forward. And in that act of obediently moving forward, God gives me two special moments with Georgie today.

He IS a good God!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Birthday is a Comin'

In a few days, we will be celebrating George's 7th birthday, but the first as a Weldie. He has asked for "light shoes". Honestly, this is the only thing he has consistently asked for since the moment he could say the words! I think I will have to find a pair.

I want to make him happy. He hasn't been very happy lately. We have had a lot of talks with him about choosing to be happy, choosing to be a good mood. But it is as if, no matter how hard he tries, or how many times he promises, "Momma, I be happy today!", he just can't do it.

I had a long talk with a friend today and she gave me her assessment of Ethiopian people and children after watching a few friends and reading (lots and lots of) blogs. Ethiopian kids are fierce. Yes! Think of what these people, this nation, has overcome...they are THE ONLY African nation that has not bee taken over by another government. They were the only African nation that Mussolini was unable to conquer during WWII. These people live in huge poverty, yet live in peace within their boundaries and also without. There must be a fierceness that is part of their DNA; they are fighters.

And George is a fighter. He is testing Joe and I greatly right now. We just came off of several months of good days. The love was genuinely growing stronger and stronger each day. Now, he has entered a phase of testing us. You see, he was in the Soddo orphanage for about 13 months before being moved to Addis, where he stayed for 3 weeks. As we near the year mark, I can just imagine how subconsciously, George is expecting change - that we might drive him off to someone else's house and leave him there. Can he really trust us? Are we really in this for the long haul? Even if he treats us badly?

Yes, we are committed. Even on these gut-wrenching, pain-filled days. And I know, I need to find some light-shoes!!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Blue Ribbon Day!

Eleanor had her regional level of Forensics competition tonight, which is the highest level of competition for the middle school level. She had chosen to read an excerpt from Little Women. I attended her district competition two weeks ago and was so proud of the mature and articulate young woman who stood before the judges and read her selection with poise.

But, I couldn't attend tonight's event. One sick child at home and the competition being 2 hours away kept me home. What I missed in attendance, I made up for in prayer!

Harry, Eleanor and I gathered at the kitchen table this morning and prayed for her. Around 4:00, when I knew the competition was starting, I prayed for her. As Harry led us prayer over dinner, he remembered his sister and prayed for her. She was well covered. Each time, I asked God to calm her nerves and bring her peace. Simple as that.

We finally got the call we were waiting for, she was on the bus and on her way home. I heard Joe ask, "So, sweetheart, how did you do?"

Silence.

Then, "Wow! That's is so great! Oh, Eleanor, I am so proud of you!"

Eleanor was awarded a blue ribbon tonight; the highest level of honor for the competition! We celebrated by picking up some individual cakes at Piggly Wiggly and Eleanor, Joe and I sat at the kitchen table and talked about her night. Joe said, "Did you know you were prayed for all day?"

She answered, "Well, I knew Mom was praying for me because I was only a tiny bit nervous."

Praise God! This is huge for Eleanor, for she is so shy and quiet. She is not one who usually is comfortable in the spotlight. I really had to push her into even attending the informational meeting, and boy did we fight before her first night of competition. I am so grateful to a gracious God who gave Eleanor a bit of success, a bit of self-confidence, which a middle school girl so desperately needs. She said to me before I hugged her goodnight, "Now, I can't wait to try out for the school play."

Sweet dreams, my little blue-ribbon girl. I love you.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


I love living in the country! Living out here means we take a cold Saturday in February and spend it at Winterfest at Harnischfeger Park. The kids and I had a blast yesterday; we saw a dog sled demonstration (and enjoyed listening to the Huskies howl!), sat in a warm tipi and learned all about buffalo uses from Dirty Kettle (George got to try on a cyote hat), we tried to catch chickens with our bare hands (none of us could do it), and then had a wonderful horse drawn sleigh ride through the woods. There was a hill where Isabel discovered her love on snowboarding -she's a natural! Here are some pictures from our great afternoon on a beautiful winter day in Wisconsin.























Saturday, February 13, 2010

Our Sentry


Some Fun Around the House

Just putting up a few pictures of the kids from this week. Isabel "won" this huge lolipop from AWANA. She was waiting all week to dig in....about 10 minutes later, she sounded like Scarface saying "I am putting you away, my little friend." Too much of a good thing....



Isabel, George and Lincoln with our dear friend Hannah.


The whole crew (minus Harry) with Hannah and her sister Chloe enjoying hot cocoa.



Our little newsboy!






Quietness and Confidence Forever

So, I am doing this Beth Moore study, Breaking Free. Naively, I said, "I don't need to break free from anything." God laughed and said, "Oh, dear daughter, you have much to break free from."

As I study the scriptures of Isaiah, I find God speaking directly to my soul. I realized this week that I don't let God satisfy me. Even when God pours out his love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace, I look around me and long for something in this world to satisfy me. I want a better house - I am embarrassed to have friends over who live in these immaculate places. I want to be skinnier or prettier. I want to be able to go to the store and buy whatever I want. And I actually think those things will make me happier. I know this is ridiculous, and I am sure as you read this you are saying, "That is ridiculous. We all know those things don't bring happiness." I am here to say I know that, but the reality is that I have yet to let God completely satisfy me.

As I was going through my study, The Rolling Stones song kept running through my head, "I can't get no satisfaction..." Of course, I am not referring to what Mick Jagger was singing about...my lack of satisfaction comes from a stubborn heart that keeps telling God that He is not capable of bringing me satisfaction.

The crazy thing is that I HAVE experienced this complete satisfaction; very recently. Even in the depths of the hard times early in the adoption, God was there! He was holding me together and His presence was so obvious. I was reading the Bible hourly and then praying minute by minute. And I felt Him and was satisfied.

There is a connection there; I was in the Word, I was praying constantly. Friends, it is so easy to fall away from that routine! When life was hard, I leaned on God and He was there. Things start getting easier, and the days go by without cracking open the Word...the result? A short tempered, jealous, depressed woman.

Beth Moore writes, "souls accustomed to food are more likely to have a highly developed appetite. The more we've been satisfied by God's love, his Word and His presence, the more our souls will yearn for it." Our souls growl and moan, just like a stomach does when it's not being fed. My soul has been growling at me for a while! I have experienced a time like no other in my life where God completely satisfied me through His Word. I tasted it.

There is no time that I don't need to be in God's Word or in His presence. No time!

So, I turn to Isaiah once more: Isaiah 32:17 - 18 says, "The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest." This is my prayer today. Righteousness. Righteousness that leads to quietness and confidence forever. To live peacefully, securely and in rest. The Message puts it this way, "Right will build a home in the fertile field. And where there's Right, there'll be Peace; and the progeny of Peace: quiet lives and endless trust. My people will live in a peaceful neighborhood - in safe houses, in quiet gardens."

There is that word again: TRUST. To live quiet lives and endless trust. Endless. Forever trusting, forever letting God satisfy my every need and desire.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Prophetic Words

I read the letter over and over again. How could a man have spoken such words of prophesy over me this time last year? I read those words and sit here stunned. I know I was moved when he wrote the letter last year, but how these words minister to me now!

He was so correct - I can only love my children through an overflow of God's love poured into my life. When I try to do this parenting thing on my own - even my bio kids - I fail miserably each time. I discourage, I judge, I am unfair. When I am surrendered to God, admitting that I have nothing more to give, He is faithful to step in and pour out his love. I encourage, I lift up and I am fair.

It's all about love. I know this. This has been my story for the past year. I was wounded deeper than I even imagined I could be wounded when I was totally rejected by George. I couldn't even begin to fathom that this boy would turn his back on a mom wanting to love him. That wounding took me straight to my knees and I discovered a God who cared for me.

God knew George would reject me. Yet He called me to this in order that I learn more about HIM! I learned how often I reject God and yet how patiently and perfectly He loves me. The only way I have made it through this year is because God called me to this adoption, and despite the trials and the weariness, I know this to be true. He has given me what I need; He sustains me and gets me through the days.

My parenting is being so refined. My words are being examined. My heart is being challenged. And my life is being changed and I pray that the result will be a more beautiful me.

I can not see the ripple effects of our decision; not yet. Although, I do see my children being refined right along with me. I also see my husband in a totally new light; he has become my hero. So, maybe there are effects that I just over look.

I am counting on the generational blessings! I am praying that my children and my grandchildren have a great love for the Lord and are blessed greatly.

No more complaining. No more whining. God has been using a study I am doing to speak to me. This is I Chronicles 29:11 "(Traci), do not be negligent now, for the Lord has chosen you to stand before him and serve him, to minister before him and burn incense." The Message says, "this is your life's work; make sure you do it and do it well!"

Yes, Lord! This IS my life's work. Being a Momma is my life's work; investing in these children's lives, serving them, teaching them, loving them. It is imperative that I do not be negligent! This means being in God's word daily and being in constant prayer with Him. Friends, I confess to you here that I HAVE been negligent lately, in too many ways. God has chosen this life for me and I must be armed and prepared; daily ready for the fiery arrows of the enemy. The aroma of my parenting and loving my family is a fragrant offering to God; loving His children is ministering. It is time that I do it and do it well.

It's a new day - the day is crisp and cold, bright blue sky with a fresh blanket of snow sparkling in the sunshine. I saw the most amazing rainbow this morning, and God let me drive right through it! Have you ever driven through a rainbow? And it was one of those weird weather phenomena - a winter rainbow caused by microscopic snow particles hanging in the air. Amazing and beautiful and breath taking. And as I drove through it, God whispered in my ear, "Daughter, I love you. I know life is hard right now, but I am here and I am doing a work in your life. Let me complete my work."

So, on this new day, I surrender all and TRUST in my loving Lord.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Emptiness

We are coming up on the year mark and I have been anticipating it and dreading it at the same time. I am looking forward to putting this first year behind us, after all, so many people said that the year mark is monumental. But, I have also been dreading it because adoption books and counselors all talk about the possibility of great grief coming out at this point. Consciously or subconsciously, George will remember leaving everything he has ever known and changing his life forever.

I looked back at my old posts from early 2009, trying to remember those important dates. It is interesting to me that I have not memorized the dates of our passing court or the exact date we left for Ethiopia. Does that say anything about my experience? I'm not sure, because I tend to be very relaxed about birth dates and other "important" dates. Maybe this is just who I am.

So, I started in February, knowing it was in this month last year that we had our first court date. I realized it was toward the end of February and I read through the painful posts of a mom who desperately wanted her son home. I was devastated when we didn't pass court the first time and had every emotion ranging from anger to questions to sadness. Looking back now, there is no doubt that God's timing was perfect. We needed to wait a few more weeks.

We finally did pass court in mid-March. At that point, George was moved up to Addis Ababa and became fully aware of us and the upcoming adoption. For the second time in his short life, his whole world was turned upside down. For the first time, he rode in a car. He saw TV, had nannies caring for him, slept in a room with 12 other boys and found himself being told a new mom and a new dad were coming to take him to America.

It was about this time that I asked some friends to pray for us. This was one of the responses to my request. As I stumbled upon this letter as I looked back in my blog, I was stopped cold in my tracks. Emptiness. Holy Discontent. Love. All the words in this letter spoke to me then, but let me tell you, they speak even louder to me now, 10 months after bringing George home.


Yes, it would be an honor to intercede for you and your Whole family. I will be praying for an emptiness as you travel that only the Spirit will fill and will overflow to George. I pray that you will love all your children from the “overflow” that only the Holy Spirit will provide. It will be only from that overflow that you will be able to truly love your children that God has given you. I pray that the sense of calling that you feel, that sense that has created a discontent in your hearts, that has stirred it into action will be filled to overflow through George. God has created that Holy Discontent that has moved you to do what you have done to the extent that you are doing it to love with a greater love than you realize. It will be that overflow of love from Him, that will gather your family together as you stand in awe of what a Great God we serve.

Having been to Tanzania last year, and planning to go again, this time helping at an orphanage, I have been thinking of you and your husband, and praying for you. To say the needs are great is an understatement. You will find those days as you referred to that will be so tough that only His sense of “calling” will sustain you. Know that His “calling” WILL sustain you.God owns it all and we are just the managers. I believe He will take your faith and stretch it beyond imagination as He provides in ways that will have you standing in tears of amazement. I pray that for you and your family.

I pray that your bio kids would see a love and faith in their parents through this experience that it would mark them for the rest of their lives and would impact the legacy on your family for generations.

Scripture talks of generational sins. I believe it also speaks of generational blessings. Your sacrificial love will have ripple effects in your family and friends that will outnumber the ripples on the quiet water after throwing a rock into it.“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”

I think I need to mediate on these words some more, as each part speaks to something we have gone through over the last ten months. Oh, how I need to know that love!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

School Visit

This past week, George was the Student of the Week in his class. George has been waiting for this moment to be in the spotlight for months and months. Last Friday he bounded off the school bus with a large red poster in hand, shouting, "Momma! We make poster of Georgie!"

That Sunday, we (all of us eventually joined in!) gathered around the kitchen table to create our Georgie masterpiece. I had printed off several pictures of George; everything from the first picture we ever saw of George (the day he was dropped off at the orphanage) to our Ethiopian Christmas celebration. Together, we planned out how we would arrange the pictures and we then filled out his "All About Me" fact sheet. The fact sheet described his family and highlighted things like favorite food, color, and what animal he would want to be (George said Mickey Mouse - ha!)

Everything was going great until it was time to glue down the pictures. George suddenly grabbed the three pictures from his life in Africa and adamantly said, "No pictures of Georgie in Africa!" We tried to talk to him about how his classmates would love to see these pictures, but he was so stern. Absolutely no pictures of those years. He then sat quietly at the table and laid out his three pictures in front of him, stroking each one with a finger and said, "These make Georgie sad."

I was so worried how the week would go after that. I was sure the kids in the class would notice no baby pictures of for that matter, any pictures of George any younger than his current age. George was to share his poster with his classmates on Thursday and then he asked if I could come in and have lunch with him on Friday. I agreed that would be lovely.

Thursday came and George came home saying he loved sharing his poster. I got an email from his teacher saying he did great, and that he actually was so proud as he shared a little about his life. His teacher said he couldn't answer a few of the questions and that the kids were pretty curious about George. So, I volunteered to talk with them on Friday. His teacher thought that would be nice, so it was set that I would go into the class right after lunch and talk for about a half and hour.

On Friday, I made a few pit stops, talking to the other kids' teachers and then walked into the cafeteria, looking for my son. He was waiting patiently and quietly in line. And then he saw me. Oh, how I wish I could describe the look on his face! His eyes lit up and he smiled a huge smile! He truly was happy to see me. We had a great lunch together, sitting with three of his classmates and having fun. Then, we made our way to the classroom.

The kids were just so cute! They all sat eagerly on the rug as George's teacher introduced me. I really wanted to talk about adoption and be there to answer any questions the kids may have. I talked for just a minute or two before opening it up for questions - and boy did the questions come!!! Those kids had lots and lots of questions about George and adoption.

"What happened to George's parents?"

"Was George scared?"

"How did you talk to each other when he first came home?"

I answered these questions honestly and briefly (they are six, after all). I worried a little how George would react to these answers, but he continued to sit and smile. Every now and then, he would add something. He was doing great!

Then, the questions about life in Ethiopia started.

"What did George eat in Ethiopia?"

"Did he have a lot of toys?"

"What was his house like?"

"Did George go to school?"

These answers were pretty eye-opening for these children. And, I would venture to say that none of these kids are wealthy, but in the terms of wealth in the world, they sure are. When they heard George say "I not each much. Maybe one time a day," they were surprise. Then, they heard George say, "No school. No toys. No bed." I talked about how George would have never been able to go to school, and how only the children who have parents who can pay for books and uniforms can go to school. I described the hut George grew up in, and George quickly added that he often slept outside in the bushes. You could have heard a pin-drop.

We could have gone on and on! I loved being there and George's teacher really let me just be "the teacher" for that half hour. She simply sat back and let me talk to the kids. Unfortunately, our time was cut short as the kids had to go to gym class. As the kids were lining up, several of them walked up to me and said how much they liked learning about George and Ethiopia. One little boy said, "My cousin is adopted. This is cool to learn about this."

George had a great week. I was proud of him for talking about his past with his classmates. That class is clearly a safe and comfortable setting for him, and for that I am so grateful. I can't even tell you how many hours I prayed over George's first teacher and first year of school. God has bee so faithful!

And...a fire was reignited in my soul. I LOVE teaching!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Wordless Friday (I Know - It's Supposed to Be Wednesday)

This month, my oldest beautiful daughter turned 13!

Nice picture of my country boy, gun and all!


The boys hanging out together - Gunnar is playing with Harry's feet!


Everybody loves Lincoln.



George, rocking out!!


These two boys will rock together every day. George on guitar and Lincoln on vocals (using a pop-gun as a microphone).

This is life with Lincoln's birthmark - sigh.



Isabel looks so funny right now! She lost 3 teeth in one week and has this mixture of big teeth growing in.



Just hanging around.



Growing up so fast.








Thursday, February 4, 2010

Spiritual Attack

We are under attack. I know I have written about this before, but the attacks (or the hits) just keep on rolling! Every now and then, I forget and start to whine and complain about my situation (see yesterday's post- ha). A dear friend reminded me yesterday in a phone call that what I am experiencing can surely be spiritual in nature.



You see, a soul is at stake. If we ever think that one soul does not matter to either God nor the enemy, we are sorely mistaken. Every soul matters! One of my favorite little books was written by Dawson Trottman and it expressed the multiplication theory of evangelism. If we invest in one soul's life, teaching him about Jesus, discipling him into a life of obedience, that person will in turn touch a life, who will then touch a life, who will then touch a life - or maybe 10,000 lives! One life changed from hopelessness to a life of living for Christ is worth fighting over. Sometimes, I grow so weary of the fight and let the liar whisper in my ear that I am not a good mother or I am doing more harm to George than good. Those lies pile up and convince me that I don't know how to love, nor have I ever experienced love!



I am here to saw hogwash! Last night, Joe and I both said, "Go to hell, Devil!"



Why would I be surprised? Why do I continue to put myself in positions of being off-guard? I haven't talked about it here, but I have been part of an orphan ministry at church. I volunteered to head the foster care arm of the ministry. This has become a passion of mine as I learn about the 500,000 kids currently in the foster care system, over 150,000 of whom are eligible for adoption. Through the prompting of the Holy Spirit, several churches are aligning together to start addressing the foster care problem in our county. We have studied what other churches are doing in their states, investigated the complicated and somewhat corrupt child welfare laws, and Joe and I have even begun the licensing process to become foster parents ourselves.

We have plans in place to start collaborating with the local county agency to minister to the children currently in the system through a carnival and a camp experience. We are opening our building to training programs. We are working on starting a storage facility to house big furniture items for not only foster families, but also foster kids who age out of the system and find themselves in need of furnishing their own apartment.

I have become angry at the church who walked away from orphans and foster kids. I grew up in a generation who didn't seem to care much about orphans; it was always someone else's problem. I saw celebrities sing a song to raise money for the kids in Ethiopia, but none of them decided to be self-sacrificing and bring one home.

Now, God is removing the curtain on the issue and calling His church to start doing something. We MUST do something for these children. They are a soul that might not have the chance to know Jesus! If we claim to have the answer to peace, contentment and eternal life, why are we content to let 143,000,000 orphans stay right where they are?

Might one of these orphans be the next Billy Graham? Or maybe the next author of a great book, or the director of a moving symphony piece? Maybe that orphan will become a loving wife and mother? Isn't that worth it?

So, while I am yoked with Jesus, doing a work He prepared in advance for me to do, I find myself under huge amounts of attack. Joe, in the meantime has started a business with the intent of someday being a self-funded missionary; that is our big goal. Yet, Joe finds himself with 1 to 2 customers a week at this point. He is discouraged, frustrated, and downright sad. Attacked.

Is it worth it? Of course.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What Am I Missing?

A few months ago, I heard God call me to start another Bible study, in addition to the Hebrews study I am doing on Elmbrook. I had no idea what was going to be studied, I only knew that God was saying, "Make time for this one in Watertown." So, I made time. I made the commitment, along with Joe because doing this study means I am out of the home one night a week. I attended the first night of study, the oddball in the living room, for every other woman knew each other. They all go to church together. I, on the other hand, drive 40 minutes away to go to church.

A little uncomfortable, and still questioning God about if I really need to do this, our group leader passed out the books. Breaking Free by Beth Moore. I have heard great things about this study and have always wanted to dive into a Beth Moore study, but never felt compelled to do this particular one. Breaking free? From what? As far as I knew it, I didn't' need to break free from anything; I don't use drugs, I haven't struggled with depression, I have never been abused...what could I possible need to break free from?

I put aside my bad attitude and settled in for the first DVD's teaching. OK, maybe there is something I need to break free from; still not sure what at this point, but willing to pray that God would reveal it to me.

In the time between studies, I dive into the homework. I pray that God would reveal something to me. Beth Moore defines captivity, which she says we all have, as anything that prevents us form living an abundant and effective Spirit-filled life, doing the things that God has planned in advance for us to do. As I read the definition over and over again, two words struck me: ABUNDANT and EFFECTIVE. Humbly, I admit I am neither abundant nor effective right now.

I feel like I am in the pit, in the mire. I am angry at God for this past year. In fact, recently I shouted this at Him loudly in my car, just to make sure He knew how angry I was. I can write on my blog days upon days how I am loving George and things are getting better, but the cold hard truth is that I struggle every day loving this child! I forget his background, I forget his emotional age, I forget what he is dealing with and I can't love him like he deserves to be loved. We are being tested, pulled, pushed, stretched...all by God asking us, "Do you trust me?"

No.

Joe and I were blessed to watch Pete Briscoe at An Evening With The Briscoes. He preached on trust and he said this: We don't trust God because we don't believe He loves us. Truth.

This truth pierced both Joe and I to the core. I mean, neither one of us can shake this truth. Yes, this is where I am. I don't believe God really loves me.

How could I have possibly missed feeling God's love for me? How could I miss the immense love that I read about in His word? What am I doing wrong?

I attended my second night of Bible study and Beth Moore starts by saying, "My prayer is tonight you walk away more in love with Jesus." The skeptic in me thought, "Yea, right." But as she wove us through Isaiah and I read and meditated on the suffering servant, Jesus, my heart began to break. God loved this world so much that He gave Jesus, not just to serve us, but to suffer and die for us. That is a deep, true love. Beth Moore ends the teaching with a quiet time of prayer and asks God to speak to us. I heard this, "Traci, I love you."

Sunday, Jill Briscoe spoke. At the end of her sermon, she led us in quiet prayer and then became silent, letting God speak to us. I heard this, "Traci, I love you."

My heart is breaking because I hear these messages and I know what God did for me, yet I am still doubting His love for me! I can't figure out why I doubt that! Joe and I have talked at length about this; he feels that what he has done in his past is so bad that it makes him unlovable. That's not me. I had a friend who when praying used to visualizing curling up into God's lap. That's not me, either.

I have been going along in this life quoting two things about God, "God is love and God is holy." But I think I am realizing that I don't quite get it. I know I went through a period about 5 years ago where I truly "got" God's holiness. I mourned and wept over my sin. I became very aware of my sin nature and I know "my sin is always before me." I know I can't be in God's presence because of that sin, because of God's holiness. I really get that.

But have I ever really felt the God is love part? I know God is love. I read about it, I hear other people talk about it, but I can't say that I have basked in His love and felt it. And I know that is not God's fault. It is mine. Somewhere, I am putting up a wall. And that wall is leaving me less abundant and less effective than what God created me to be.

I know there is a correlation between George and my life with God. I am struggling greatly this week to love George. Greatly! I feel like I am being attacked and I feel farther away from God's love than ever before. Yet, when I am quiet and waiting on God to speak to me, He says the same thing over and over again, "Traci, I love you."

Why can't I feel it?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sick

The flu has hit this momma. I can only get out of bed long enough to make it to the couch.

George is worried. He said, "People get sick, people die."

On his way to school he said, "I will pray for Jesus to help you."