Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Parenting Rationale I Now Understand...

During my growing up years, I thought the following 2 acts were borderline child abuse.
1. Putting a child to bed (for the night) before the sun goes down.
2. Baths. EVERY day during the summer.
After this weekend, I totally understand my own parents logic/rationale :)

Here are some pictures of Xander who spent most of the weekend with us outside in the yard. He LOVED digging in the dirt and I'm hoping the small amount he digested will not cause permanent damage :)
Alexander has taken to shaking his finger at me & squawking, sometimes quite loud and long, if he does not like what I've said to him. It's a bit strange being reprimanded so thoroughly by a 15-month old.
"Mom, please, over there. Can't you see that I'm busy eating dirt/rocks here!?!" After countless changes due to mud-soaked (or um...otherwise soiled) clothing, by the end of the day we were down to minimal attire.
"OUCH! This concrete is hard on the knees!" Since he has yet to walk -- at least more than a few steps here or there -- he has resorted to this method of movement for getting around the driveway.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

1 Year Ago Today...

...we accepted the referral of a beautiful 3-month old baby boy.

"I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which He is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us— yes, the many good things he has done..." Isaiah 63:7

What a year it's been!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

SONG: Prayer of the Children

Blake and I attended a benefit concert this past weekend for two amazing organizations -- LifeSong for Orphans and the Apostolic Christian Home for the Handicapped.

One of the vocal groups sang a hauntingly beautiful song entitled, "The Prayer of the Children" which was INCREDIBLE so I searched YouTube and found a rendition by the Baylor Men's Choir.

The story behind the song is as follows: The song was written by a former missionary (Kurt Bestor) in Yugoslavia/Serbia who worked at a children's hospital/orphanage. Upon returning after searching for supplies, he found the building in ruin, intentionally burned to the ground, and all the children/workers inside dead. He wrote the song as a tribute to the children, the innocent, who died alone and afraid, crying out for someone to help them.

I am reminded to pray for the many innocent children in this world forced into unimagineable situations (child soliders, sex slaves, etc) & who know only fear/pain. "Crying Jesus, help me to see the morning light of one more day. But if I should die before I wake, I pray my soul to take." The song inspired me to allow God to work in my life so that I may somehow, in some way, impact a child for HIS glory.

NOTE: I cannot get the video to post correctly so here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_xj6Ymz9ak

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Little SELF-Infatuation Issue

Xander is fascinated with images of himself (i.e. photographs & mirrors). Last night, as we were unloading the car from a weekend downstate, we found our little man rummaging thru daddy's wallet...
until he found a picture of himself to admire...

WARNING: Cuteness Ahead!

Here's an updated picture of baby Isaak. LOVE the crazy hair!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Her Name is Belaynesh

Her name is Belaynesh. She is Tamirat’s birthmother, his first mom, his emaye (Amharic for mommy). It was 1-year ago today that this amazing girl relinquished her little boy, her ‘miracle’ into the care of an orphanage in southern Ethiopia.

The opportunity to meet Alexander’s first mom this past December in Ethiopia (ET) was a gift beyond words…and one of the hardest day of my life, to date. After a 4-hour drive thru the countryside of ET, we arrived at a small orphanage in the southern region, in the village of Hossana. Within minutes, we were introduced to a translator and ushered into a small room across the courtyard. I walked into the room with my heart pounding.

A humble, shy girl stood slowly to her feet. She was dressed in a camel-colored skirt, a white blouse, a black jacket and her hair was wrapped in a white scarf. She was young. She was shy. She was beautiful.

I walked towards her & greeted her in traditional Ethiopian style – kiss on left cheek, kiss on right cheek, kiss on left cheek. My arms wrapped around her shoulders for the briefest of moments before Blake greeted her in the same manner.

The four of us – Belaynesh, the translator, Blake and myself – sat in hard, wooden chairs, so very conscious of the pain/heartache that hung within the room. I knew the importance of this once-in-a-lifetime meeting, the opportunity to gather information which would be invaluable to Tamirat as he grew into adulthood. OH, but it was so hard to think rationally while emotions were exploding within and I was visibly trembling.

We were allowed to bring only a few items to this meeting: (1) a picture of ourselves, (2) a picture of Tamirat and (3) a map of the world indicating where ET was and where we lived (in general terms). Belaynesh’s eyes lit up when she saw Tamirat’s picture, the image of the child she had not seen for over 7 months. She brought the photograph to her face, kissed the picture and whispered, “Oh, I still love him.” We wept.

As the conversation haltingly continued, we asked if there was anything in particular that made Tamirat happy when he was a newborn (he lived with his birth mom & family for first 3-months of his life). Belaynesh smiled and replied, “He smiled when I would sing.” Blake asked if she would be willing to share one of his favorite songs/lullabies. She hesitated & blushed…and then began singing in a sweet, rich, amazing voice about a God who is almighty, who has a plan for all and forgets no one. We wept some more.

At one point in the meeting, I traced Belaynesh’s hand onto a piece of paper & explained to the translator, “Please tell her I want to show Tamirat an image of the hands that first held & loved him.” Belaynesh smiled shyly, obviously pleased that she would not be forgotten in the life of her son.

We asked if there are any ‘dreams’ she had for her son. She responded with three things: (1) for him to be a polite man, (2) to know who God is and (3) to always love/admire the country of Ethiopia. As our time together began to expire, we asked if there was anything she wished to know about us. Her sweet reply was, “You have told me everything that I need to know.”

With Belaynesh’s permission, we ended our meeting with a prayer. I remember Blake’s strong voice trembling as he prayed for us…that we might trust in the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ & one day ALL meet again in heaven. After taking a photo together, a copy of which rests on a shelf in our Alexander’s room, we hugged good-bye. Blake and I walked towards the room where our fellow travelers waited; Belaynesh walked across the courtyard. Moments later, I began uncontrollably sobbing as I crumbled against Blake and he held me in his arms.

At times I still feel as if I have stolen Belaynesh’s child. That I took HER ‘miracle’ away so that it could become MINE. This feeling sometimes haunts my heart and causes me to catch my breath...and yet I rest on the truth that God makes no mistakes and the belief that He orchestrates our lives accordingly to His perfect plan. Perfect when it's hard. Perfect when it's good.

Her name is Belaynesh. She looks JUST like her son.

She is Tamirat’s first mom. I am Alexander’s forever mom. Two women, forever connected by a love for one amazing little boy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Here are a few VERY random pictures from this past weekend.

Friday night (after getting Xander to bed), Blake made a scrumptous meal (grilled steak & shrimp, sauteed zuchinni, mashed potatoes) followed by strawberries/angel food cake/cool whip on our back patio. Yum! Yum!

Saturday we were able to spend time together; just the 3 of us. Here's our little guy hammin' it up with Blake's sunglasses. He'd take the glasses off & keep his nose scrunched up like he was still holding them on. Crack me up!
Xander loved playing with his cousins (Karissa, Jonah and Jared) this weekend. Here he's having fun with his Uncle Shannon.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Playdate With Cousins...

Last week, Alexander and I took a roadtrip with Grandma S. to visit aunt Penny and cousins Jonah & Jared in Indiana. It was a very fun playdate & the boys had a blast together. Here are some pics of our time together. Jonah (almost 3-years old) and Jared & Alexander (almost 15-months, born just 1-week apart).

The boys have a fabulous sandbox in the corner of their yard and Alexander had fun with the new experience/texture, letting the sand fall thru his pudgy fingers.

I LOVE this picture of Jonah. I was lying in the grass & he plopped right in front of the camera. I don't think I could have captured this irresistible 'Jonah' grin with a 1000 tries so this one is one to treasure.

I couldn't quite capture little Jared's sweet smile (usually accompanied by a giggle) but here's a cute pic of the little blondie.
Calling home...to make sure Daddy's doing okay & not missing us TOO badly :)

What fun! Thanks for letting us spend a few days with you, boys...we'll have to do it again SOON!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Welcome To This World!

My little sister (Brenda) and her husband (Mike) welcomed their first child, a son whom they named Isaak Daniel on Thursday morning. 8lbs, 2-ounces and 20-1/2 inches long.

FUN FACT: Mike & Brenda were married on October 22, 2005 (10/22) and Isaak was born at 10:22 in the morning.

Alexander and I were able to make a quick trip downstate to see the our newest nephew/cousin. New life! What a blessing! Here are a couple of pics.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Remembering. Empty Arms.

Sunday is Mother's Day, of course.
I will be celebrating for the first time with true delight. With a fresh perspective on what it means to be called, 'Mom' (or 'Momma' as I am called around here). I thought perhaps the joy would completely obliterate the previous feelings of dread regarding holidays past.

Not so.

The remembering is only a heartbeat away. Remembering...
Tears & heartache.
Waiting. And waiting again.
Celebrating with others. Crying inside.
Empty arms. The terrible ache of empty arms.
I write this post (not in an attempt to put a 'damper' on the preciousness of motherhood) but to ask you to pray. For women who desire to have a child/ren...and have none. For women who have experienced the joy/anticipation of a new life...only to lose their child prematurely (miscarriage/death). For women who have made a most difficult choice to place their son/daughter in the arms of another (adoption). Please pray for all who 'survive' the coming weekend...with empty arms.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Do You Think I'm Beautiful?

I am reading a book by Angela Thomas entitled, "Do You Think I'm Beautiful?" I am only in the beginning chapters but the following words of the author really captured my heart so I thought I would share.

"Oh, God, do you think I'm beautful? Are You the One who longs for me -- the One who can fill this desire to be known? There is so much more inside of me, a great well of passion and dreams. A place I never let myself go. Is it safe to trust You with my heart? What will You do with me if I show You everything? Every desire? Every doubt? Every weakness? If I am exposed before You, will You still love me? Is Your forgiveness truly irreversible? Is Your grace really free? Oh, God, please hold me and tell me that You love me. Tell me that You'll fight for me. Tell me that I am beautiful."

In the following chapter, she continues asking questions, noting that our hearts have been made to cry out for a love that can come only from our Creator.
"Do you really love me? Will you accept me in process? Will you embrace what is different about me and applaud my efforts to become? Can I just be human -- strong and vibrant some days, weak and frail on others? Can I have a relationship with you without pretending? Can I be honest and expect honesty? Will you love me even if I disappoint you? Will you love me through dark places? Will you love me even when I doubt your love?"
Some of the above questions mimic those I've asked of God throughout the years so I am looking forward to continuing thru the book (as naptime allows!) and perhaps share further insights/learnings.