Friday, May 23, 2008

Our (Latest) Little Miracle...

It is with GREAT JOY and overflowing hearts (and tear ducts) that we introduce to you our son, Alexander Tamirat. For legal reasons, we cannot post his picture here (in any public domain) but, take me at my word, he is amazing!

On Thursday afternoon (05/22) our social worker, Lindsay, called with the news. After retrieving Blake from a meeting at work, he flew in the door within the hour, we cried in the kitchen and then we called Lindsay back.

Tamirat (meaning 'miracle') is the name given to him by his first mother. He was born on February 29th, 2008 in the southern region of Ethiopia and was brought to an orphanage by his biological mother about 2 months after his birth. Our hearts cannot grasp the sacrifice she made in releasing her son to the caregivers at the center but we are extremely humbled at the opportunity to be this little boy's parents.

At some point during the day, the figurine pictured here (and obviously purchased in advance) was placed on my bedside table by my sweet husband. The figurine's description is 'Child of My Heart'. It is so incredibly wonderful to hold Alex in my heart & I cannot wait for the day to also have him in my arms.

The next step of our adoption journey is for our case to be heard & processed in the Ethiopian court system. We expect this to happen in July-August and if our case is cleared at that time, we would travel sometime in September. This timeframe may/could change and we'll keep you all posted.

We thank you for lifting prayers on behalf of us & our son and ask that you continue to pray for the Lord's perfect will. Love to you all!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Elijah's Prayer...

We received a really sweet email from my SIL, Raelynn, this week telling the following story,

"...this afternoon it was Elijah's turn to pray for you at the lunch table. He asked what he was to say. I told him to pray that God would be with you while you wait for your little baby. His interpretation... "Dear God, help Uncle Blake and Aunt Christine be thankful while they wait for their baby."

Thanks for the reminder, Elijah. We love you!

Choosing Joy...

Choosing joy? I have the choosing part down. In the past couples of weeks I have make lots of choices...mostly involving tears, despair and lots of food! Not the most healthy choices in life :) But the joy part? Gulp...uhhh...Okay. The truth. I have NOT been joyful lately. Why? Probably a combination of things but here is the biggie.

A couple of weeks ago we received a communication from our agency outlining details regarding the upcoming Ethiopian court closures. While we were aware the courts close during late summer in ET, when we began our adoption journey & based on our dossier date, we had anticipated this issue would not impact us. The bottom line (and without going into a great amount of detail) is that the court closures have the potential to delay our adoption by several months time. The news was a crushing blow, one which I have not fully recovered from.

So, how does JOY come in? While driving earlier this week, I was listening to a speaker expand on this topic. You can listen to the 30-minute broadcast by clicking HERE. I was impacted by the following words as Chuck Swindoll contrasted negative & postive personalities. In summary, he said the following:
  • individuals with a (-) attitude need certain things before they can be joyful (IF ONLY-individuals). individuals with a (+) attitude need nothing tangible in order to find joy
  • (-) individuals are dependent on others to provide them with joy but (+) individuals create their own reasons for joy
  • (-) individuals see joy as 'out there' or somewhere in the future while (+) individuals claim joy now, it's a present reality

He continued by saying, "Everything of any lasting nature related to joy comes from what we think on...NOT what we own, NOT what someone provides, NOT what will someday happen in the future. Life is a gift from God; happiness is NOT a pursuit...rather, it is a choice..." So, even though my heart is shaken and my emotions raw, I am deliberately choosing to find joy in my days. I think that's what God would want for me to do.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What's a Man To Say?!?

I came across the following excerpt from the book entitled, Fresh Brewed Life by Nicole Johnson. When it comes to my own self-image, let's just say my husband does not stand a chance in saying the right thing, in the right tone, at just the right time. I can certainly relate to the following conversation, perhaps you can too?!?

WOMAN: Honey, do you like this dress?
MAN: Uh, hunh.
WOMAN: Is that a Yes?
MAN: Yes.
WOMAN: Then why didn’t you say Yes?
MAN: I did.
WOMAN: No you didn’t, you said, Uh Hunh.
MAN: That means Yes.
WOMAN: Not to me.
MAN: What means Yes to you?
WOMAN: The word Yes.
MAN: Give me another chance.
WOMAN: Do you like this dress?
MAN: Yes.
WOMAN: Now you’re just saying that.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Calling All Moms...

For those who are frequent blog-readers and/or good friends, you most certainly have gleaned by now that I am a planner. Therefore, you will probably not be shocked by my admission that I have already started compiling a baby registry WITHOUT having received a referral. Call me crazy but it has been fun exploring & researching the vast baby options out there.

In order to glean from some in-the-trenches, 'real' mom experience, I was wondering if you would share recommendations for those baby items you cannot imagine living without? And, perhaps those things which you have NOT found beneficial (i.e. not worth the expense). Any and all recommendations are welcome & appreciated.

See the list below for recommendations that I have already contemplated pursuing in preparation for my soon-to-be-mommy venture:
  • hiring a live-in nanny for the I-need-a-drink-RIGHT-NOW moments & the I-decided-I'd-like-to-begin-my-day-at-5AM mornings
  • hiring a maid to clean-up any 'disaster zones' which may occur during the daily 2.3 seconds which I spend in the bathroom (with the door open, of course)
  • hiring a psychologist for handling temper tantrums in grocery store check-out lines and other public places
  • hiring a physician who makes housecalls for all minor/major injuries, especially those involving blood and/or tears

Thanks to each of you. I look forward to your suggestions & advice!

Monday, May 12, 2008

MapQuest and the Bible...

During this past Sunday's sermon, the speaker acknowledged his directionally-challenged personality and noted his appreciation for MapQuest. He explained how MapQuest directions clearly indicate to a driver how far to travel, where & in which direction to turn and correlated this to the instructions we receive thru the Word. As he spoke, he clarified that although both MapQuest and the Bible provide us with details regarding our route, they cannot precisely anticipate circumstances we might find along the way. MapQuest cannot accurately predict delays due to road construction, alert us in regards to an auto accident occuring at X-mile marker or advise that half of one's journey will be made in the midst of a heavy rainstorm.

Having previously requested from God a precise, detailed roadmap for my life :) the sermon was a good reminder that while we may not know the exact circumstances of our every day lives, we can be certain of our destination. That's our goal -- to walk the streets paved with gold, to sit at Jesus' feet, to sing with the choir of angels. And while we "planner-personalities" may become frustrated with not understanding exactly why God allows road construction, detours & other 'natural disasters' into our lives, we can be certain that He is walking with us, aware of our circumstances & intent on helping us reach the mansion He has prepared for all who believe on His name.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

What To Do?

Throughout the years, my prayers haved often included the following words (usually offered in a pleading tone), "What to do? Dear God, show me the way; make Yourself known; make the way clear." In the past (and at times still today), recognizing the voice of God has seemed almost impossible. How exactly does one HEAR the voice of God? How does one unscramble the voice of God amidst one's own fears, the advice of well-meaning friends, the whispers of the Enemy? What 'channel' does one's heart need to be tuned to in order to intercept this 'God-frequency'?

Over time, as I have walked with God, I have determined that in my own life, God's voice is seldom audible. That's not to say He has not spoken, that He has not provided clarity regarding what action I should take, but perhaps He did not speak in the manner I expected Him to.
While reading today, I came across the following paragraph which totally 'clicked' in my head/heart in regards to this topic. The character Rob says, "I remember something my father always used to teach us when we were young, when trying to figure out what to do. He said that there were four things to do. You talk about it with the others who are involved. You pray and ask God what He wants you to do. You look to see if something in the Bible offers any direction. Then you wait for cirucmstances to indicate what step you should make. He said God will always speak eventually through your mind, heart, or circumstances to show what He wants you to do."

I experienced a sense of freedom when I read these words. Perhaps some liberation from the concept that one must HEAR the voice of God. Now, please do not get me wrong, God WILL speak to us if we ask for His guidance but He has a multitude of ways to make His will known. "...through your mind, heart or circumstances..." God can work in ANY of these ways. He can choose to work differently in different circumstance. He can choose to work differently with different individuals. But He WILL show us what He wants us to do. I am so thankful to serve such a God...

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Best of Times...

This past weekend I slipped away to Lake Geneva, WI to spend a few days with some girlfriends. Besides the minimum inconvenience of not being able to walk stairs without screeching pain in my hamstrings this morning, we had a fabulous time! The 'grueling' weekend consisted of an early morning kickboxing class, followed by a body-sculpting class, followed by a couple of hours spent chatting in the whirlpool, then steamroom, then sauna. After a quick lunch, the afternoon was spent at the spa before we headed into town for dinner along the lake in a beautifully restored mansion called Gibson's. Here are some pictures of the resturant itself, view from the front window & one (of the thirteen) fireplaces contained within the 3-story high structure.

Although the weekend's intent was a celebration of Deanne's upcoming wedding, for me it was also a celebration (or reminder) of God's provision and the truth of the words, "Remember, no one is a failure who has friends..." I pray that my heart will always carry within it a thankfullness for each of the friends who have come into my life & helped me grow into the person I am today.
"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions or cures have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares." (Henri Nouwen)
"The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart." (E.Foley)

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born." (Anais Nin)

My Prayer for You. "May you live each day walking in the ways of the Lord. May He perform all the 'miracles' which you pray for, above all you can ask or possibly imagine. And when God chooses at times to allow your heart to be broken, may you boldly claim His promises, knowing that "He works all things together for good..." May your days be filled with love & with grace. As precious as friendship is on this earth, what a glory to know we shall also walk the streets of heaven together. Praise God for He is good, all the time..."

Friday, May 2, 2008

Designs by Blake Blog Update...

Because I do not post on our business blog as frequently as I do here, just wanted to let you know that I have recently made a couple of posts should you want some ideas for around the house. The lastest posts are some ideas for wall decor in kids' bedrooms & front door arrangements. You can access the blog by clicking in the link in the sidebar.