Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's All Final!

Maleah's court & paperwork is all final! ... and just in the nick of time!, as we leave ND in just over 4 days. What's so crazy about that is we just found out a week ago we're leaving so SOON!

Today was a special day, as we stepped away for a few hours from the insanity of packing and gathered with some friends to celebrate and say goodbye. And what a fitting end to our time here in ND as we embark on our new journey, working more with adoption and orphan care ministry with the ABBA Fund!

This blog has been dedicated to sharing our adoption journey of Maleah and so with this court finalization also comes the close of this blog. Yet, the story has a life-time of chapters ahead.

If you'd like to follow along on our journey of life and ministry .... you'll need to go HERE in the future. While change isn't easy .... we are excited about the new chapter being written. The Lord has just done an incredible work in providing a new home base for us in IL. We are still trying to comprehend just what all He has done!!! Be sure to visit us at our Serving Him Together blog. There we'll share family updates for far-away-friends, as well as lots of resources about adoption and orphan care. You might even get to see some home renovations! We have our work cut out for us in IL and we are ready!

As we close this blog we just want to say once again that the LORD is the only one that could have made our adoptions possible! He worked through so many people to bring them to completion. In all practical terms, we would probably rank up there with the "least able" to do this. Perhaps you are a family that feels the tug on your hearts for the needs of orphans, but you are just overwhelmed with the obstacles or are fearful of the unknown .... or sense the heavy financial weight that sometimes seems so insurmountable. God can be TRUSTED in your situation. Don't be mistaken .... it's not an easy journey .... it's one that could require great sacrifice and grueling hard work. But today was such a reminder to us that it's all worth it!!!

We'll be sharing much more at our new on-line home ... so please visit us there. Our family is so eager and excited to embrace the next chapter. Fun days ahead as we prepare to celebrate Maleah's birthday in IL! If today was any indication (note Mommy holding down her hands from that icing!) ... she is READY for her birthday cake! :)

May the Lord be glorified as we journey on with him, one step at a time. The End.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


The Lord has brought about something wonderful! Read about it over HERE!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cookie Tradition

Maleah was very happy to take part in our cookie tradition! "YUMMMMM", she kept saying. What a blessing it is to have her here and enjoy all these "firsts" together. She definitely has the present thing figured out and will be all ready to celebrate her birthday in a couple of months. While we'd love to just freeze her in time for a bit .... it is just so much fun to see her blossom and grow. She has certainly acquired a sweet tooth since coming home! It is really hard to resist her precious requests for more "cookie". When you must that sweet voice ends and out comes sobbing like the world is coming to an end! It's difficult not to laugh.

At times it seems like it was yesterday we were in Chicago and our boys were this little. Now they are growing into young men and our lives are fuller and more blessed than we could ever have imagined. I figure by the time the girls are little ladies the next chapter will begin with the boys bringing my grandkids for cookie tradition. These years pass so quickly and lately I have been so challenged to reflect on if I'm making the most of this time. It's easy to become distracted by the cares of this world that can come in an rob us of our joy. How I want to embrace each season, trusting in my Savior. I have much room to grow in this area.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas! - 2008

Merry Christmas everyone! We're so grateful for the One who this season is all about. Without Him, we would have no hope. With Him ..... well, we have everything we need. The Lord has been so kind to our family throughout this year. It's been one of huge changes, transition and still unknown. HE is SO GOOD!!!, no matter what the circumstances that surround us. He is so worthy of our praise. Our hearts just rejoice that He cares so much for each of us ... every detail of our lives. How we long to see our family and friends back home. Yet, we can rest in Him and know that He has a wonderful plan ahead.

It is such a blessing having all our children with us this Christmas. Maleah thought decorating cookies this morning was quite fun!!! Mmmmmmmmmmmm .... she kept saying! :) More fun pictures to come in the days ahead.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Calling All Gladney Families! - Kolfe Sponsorship

God is at work and answering prayer for the Kolfe Boys!!! This week I received an email from a fellow adoptive dad here in ND. His church is working on a sponsorship for KOLFE!!! Did you HEAR THAT? They are teaming up with Tom Davis and Children's HopeChest for this sponsorship. So many of you have had your hearts burdened for these amazing boys and have prayed for them. Well .... now we need your help! Read on.

I need stories from you about your experiences in visiting them. Not so much a general overview of their needs, we'll have that. What we need is something more personal. Did you meet a particular young man who made an impression on you? Tell us about that. Perhaps you got to deliver supplies to them. What was their response? I know some of you have done really amazing things . . . which one of you got the goats and shared a meal together? Please share that story with us!

I also need your photos. Please respond on here in a comment that you're going to participate. Then email me with your story and photos. I will compile everything together and send it onto David (not my David!, another David) who is preparing a presentation for his church in January. So we need all this ASAP!

As most of you know we were one of those families deeply changed forever when we traveled to Ethiopia and visited Kolfe. We have had the absolute blessing of seeing what a mentorship across the miles can be. It is such a joy to hear from Getahun and walk with him on his journey in life, even half a world away. When one of his close friends died a few months back, he could write us and have someone to "talk" with about that. When he got ill and couldn't get his needs met at Kolfe he could send word to us and we could help be sure he was checked on. In January we'll get the opportunity to share Getahun's story with this church.

These boys are the future of Ethiopia. I believe God will use them in mighty ways ... but they need help. So, now is the time to share YOUR story.

Please include your family's name and when you traveled so that I can put this together in a timeline.

Thank You!!

Oh!, there's also a spot on Facebook that you need to sign up too if you'd like to be kept in the loop of progress on this project.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Arsema's First Christmas

It took me awhile to come to terms if this is our little girly's 1st or 2nd Christmas. I decided it is kinda really her "1st", at least how we celebrate here as a family. Can I just say once again how BLESSED we are to have her in our lives?! This year has been a very difficult one for us. We've had so many changes and are still faced in the midst of much transition. But no matter what all other challenging things are going on .... we are full of such JOY!!! Not that "oh, life is so smooth sailing, easy kind of joy". No, I mean that deep down incredible joy that can only come from one source. And that is the reason we celebrate this wonderful season.

Today I took a few moments break from "life" and pondering all the details of our lives and just soaked up some good 'ole camera time. I do not want to be so consumed on what is going to happen NEXT, and miss out on what is happening right NOW!

Yes, I'm sad we're not in Illinois this Christmas. Yes, at times we wonder when someone will come wanting a house in the middle of cold ND in the winter! Yes, we're anxious to settle into our new life and ministry.

Maleah is just taking in all the sights, sounds and TASTES of this glorious season. "Loooooook!, Mommy!!", is one of her favorite phrases these days. Next would be .... "Hhhmmm .... COOKIE!! ... YUM!!!". She has sure discovered her sweet tooth! :)

There is SO MUCH to be grateful for this year. On top of our list would have to be our new daughter and her GOOD health!! No longer a sick baby. Plump, busy and full of life! How grateful we are to the Lord for how He sustained this little one's life and brought her all the way from Ethiopia into our family.

We got word that our finalization court date will be yet in 2008! What a great milestone to finish out the year!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Arsema's Reflections of 6 Months Home!

Mommy thought you might like hearing about my six months at home from my perspective! I have lots to share.

My new family had been well-warned that I was slow to warm up to strangers. They had no idea how hard that would be. I was so scared, not understanding what was happening to me. Poor Daddy ... I was really rough on him those first weeks. I gave a whole new meaning to the term "cold shoulder", it was more like frozen. Oh, but you should see us now! My daddy is about my most favorite person is the whole world! I save my best giggles for him when he comes home from work. He teaches me all sorts of fun little tricks and I even love his whiskery kisses.

Since our house still hasn't sold, Daddy decided it was time to move me up to my own room. Can you believe it? ... he was done sharing his bedroom with me! It's probably better this way, because mommy was right, his snoring woke me up. I am SUCH a good sleeper. You may have heard that my big sister hardly slept the first two years of life, aging my mommy & daddy a great deal! Now that I'm all settled in here with my family, I'm a pro-sleeper. We're talking 12 hours at night and a nice afternoon nap. It really helps my mommy keep her sanity.

I have some fooled as being SO "easy-going". One set of my grandparents think I'm really mild-mannered. They'll probably eventually see that deep down I really have some spunk! All is well, unless it's time to sleep and my bed is no where around (like long days into the city). Then I truly just LOSE-IT! A girl's gotta get her sleep, ya know? OR ... when I don't get my way. I can REALLY put up a good fuss!

Everyone wants to know how things are going with me and my big sister. Well, between you and me, I think she's been intimidated by my size. I'm not all that much smaller. And ... if we're being really honest, then I have to say that I'm kind of a cry-baby. It's true. Back in the Gladney Center I had Mr. Belay really figured out! When he came into my room, I'd put on a good show acting like I wanted him to hold me SO MUCH. He fell for it often! But just as he'd reach in and get me out of my crib, I'd dive for my favorite care givers. I'm kinda tricky like that. Who could blame me ... I was rather sick of being in my crib. Besides, I had some of the best care givers in the whole world and I could never get enough of them holding me and loving me. Back to my big sister ... she can be a little territorial, but really we're gonna be great friends. It's hard on us both to share Mommy. Good thing Mommy has a big lap!

Did you know that I have the greatest big brothers??? I mean the BEST! They think I am pretty amazing and have taught me SO many new words! I crack them up all the time with the new things that I say. Now I'm figuring out how to put my words together and I rarely stop chattering. EXCEPT when company comes! You wouldn't believe how QUIET I can really be if I want to. Mommy says it's like I have a mute button. She wishes she could push the mute button when I'm too noisy in church!

I suppose I should tell you that one of my most favorite things still is bottle-time. Yes, I still get two bottles a day. No flack, okay? ... I came home taking at least 7 a day! I like my bottle/snuggle time about as much as Mommy loves her cup of coffee. I really love it when mommy kisses my forehead and tells me over and over again how much she loves me. We're doing our best to make up for lost time.

Mommy shows me on the computer that many of my friends at Gladney are now home with their new families too. It really took me awhile to get used to all these changes. I looked scared for awhile. I wondered if this was for real. Now I'm doing great. OH!, except for when Mommy took me to the doctor. That scared me to death. I screamed the whole time so loud that Mommy and my doctor could hardly hear each other. Mommy said it was to get papers for the court. Aren't we DONE with all those yet? It really was not necessary to scare me so badly, was it?

I LOVE music and dancing! The reason I'm screaming in a couple of these pictures is because my mommy took away my music toy in hopes I'd stop moving to get some non-blurry pictures. As you can see, I didn't like that one bit! I am even learning to sing along now and it makes my family smile really big. I especially like listening to music and dancing while I look at my favorite books. It's great fun!

That's about it I guess. It looks like I'm all settled in. Now only strangers or goofy cashiers get my timid/shy looks. Oh, I suppose I should add that I'm not really crazy about getting my hair done, but then again who is? I can really screech and fuss about that. Usually mommy gives me something amusing to play with and it's not so bad.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

See This!!!

Please check out Tom Davis' entry on his blog about Kebebetsehay! This is where our precious little one spent the first 9 months of her life and we are SO encouraged to see Tom working to help network and find sponsors for this orphanage! Please go check it out!!

It was such a privilege to meet Sophia, the director of Kebebetsehay. She was able to share with us the story of Arsema's first days of life. She was the one who helped Arsema's birthmother through the painful process of making plans for their lives while they were both so ill.

I will never forget the look on her face when she was told we were holding Arsema! "ARSEMA!!!", she said. "You were so thin and white! .... now you are dark and FAT!!! (literally, these were her words and we all burst out laughing)." Arsema was so frightened to leave my arms and after a failed attempt of her sharin' some love with this dear woman, she handed her back to me and shook her finger and told her some heartfelt advice. "I was your 'first mother' .... you were a SMART one! .... don't you ever forget all I did for you!". It was just precious. It brought her such joy to see how Arsema had grown and thrived in Gladney's care. We could see the peace she felt knowing this babe had a family now. Sophia is full of spunk, and we're so grateful for all she is doing for the children of her country.

This woman has needs swarming around here every single day, but she does not forget the children God has entrusted into her care. Five months later she recalled the story of the previous nine months as it was just yesterday. We are forever grateful for our time with Sophia and for all she did for our little one.

Gladney families! ... you too will get the experience of visiting Kebebetsehay when you travel to bring home your child(ren). I'd love to send some photos with one of you for the director, Sophia.

Let's pray that people will rise up to help meet the needs at Kebebetsehay!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

About a Year Ago

Well ...... about a year ago I was WEARY .... waiting for that beloved call about our referral. It's interesting once the call finally comes ... then when you travel and get the full collection of pictures of your child as they waited. All the pieces link together. This photo was taken around November of last year when Gladney took our precious Arsema into their care. If you've followed our journey, you might remember she spent the first nine months of her life HERE. We were incredibly blessed to

get to take her back there and meet the incredible women that helped care for her while she was ill.

When she first got to Gladney she couldn't yet bear weight on her legs. Tiny and frail. SO the complete opposite of now! :) She is anything but tiny and frail!

These photos don't make me as sad as they once did. For now when I look at them, while knowing how are daughter is today ....... I am just in awe of God's incredible faithfulness. In His great mercy He sustained our precious babe. I can't deny that seeing her orphanage and imagining her there all those months ..... well, it crushed me. But my heart is just overflowing with gratitude for all that God has done in our little one's life.

She is so bright and full of life. The girl KNOWS what she wants, let me tell you! She's somewhat shy and timid and definitely cautious of anything new. Yet!, she is strong and can loudly proclaim what it is that ails her! Ha. :) We rejoice in it all ..... for it is who God created her to be. It is an absolute JOY and BLESSING to see her transform and thrive into this amazing little girl she was designed to be.

Last year at this time we found ourselves putting in 10-12 hours many days a week doing assembly lines of making hand-made cards and other items that in turn would provide to help bring her home. I humbly confess to you that there were days I wondered what in the world we were doing!! As much as I believed God has called us to adoption, in my humanness and flesh I grew weary. It was during those times I'd just stop and cry a bit and think about our babe waiting ..... how she was counting on us to finish the course. I'd cry out to the Lord to give me more strength to keep persevering .... both in the task and hand and in the anxiety of the wait. All I can say to you now is that when I look at these pictures of the time line ...... I am SO GRATEFUL that we listened to the Lord and obeyed.

I don't share this with you to shine light on what we did. It's not about that at all. But I share it all because perhaps you are like us .... feeling God pierce your heart to follow Him on the journey of adoption but there are SO many limitations in your vision that you can barely see through them. We could give you a long list of reasons that it was not "practical" for us to even attempt the adoption journey. And we were even told by some others, some directly, some indirectly, things like "what are you doing???" (okay, perhaps they worded it a bit more vague). What we can tell you is this ....... standing on this side of the journey? ...... there are NO regrets!!! Was there sacrifice? .... well, certainly there was. Brutal long hours/weeks/months working toward it? .... yep. But it is NOTHING ...... NOTHING compared to the needs our daughter-to-be had.

God has been SO faithful! .... both to Arsema and to us. NONE of this could have happened without Him.

We just passed the "6 month mark" of being home together as a family. In the next couple days we'll share more with you about that .... along with some updated "happy pictures"! :) But these pictures are part of her story too .... I am so grateful for them all.

Some of you are stuck in this most long and wearing wait. Know that we pray for you often. You will have no regrets on the other side of your journey. May the Lord encourage you and carry you through til you reach the finish line.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Oh dear, it happened again .... okay, here we go.

Okay, okay .... I'm it. So .... I've been "tagged" in blog land more than once and just never seem to get around to it!

Seven random and/or weird facts about me. Yikes.

1. I can't stand to hear people smack their mouths when eating. I mean it makes me almost lose my dinner!!

2. My real name is Michelle. My mom ALWAYS wanted a "Michelle" and then had me and gave me that lovely name. Then she changed it when I went to Kindergarten! In her defense she thought it might be too hard to spell (poor thing had a very long name herself both first and last). Now it would seem odd to hear her call me that. On the other hand my dad and brother only call me Michelle and it would feel really weird for them to call me anything else.

3. Four out of five of our children have been born in different states/countries.

4. I love to decorate ... our home, paper crafts ... love it all!

5. I am petrified of heights. (NO exaggeration) I feel about the same way about airplanes! It was a LONG way to and from Ethiopia!

6. I am a recovered pack-rat. Living in small spaces with lots of little ones forced me to overcome!!! Lots of moving helped too.

7. I love to curl up on my husband's lap on the recliner just as I always did with my dad growing up. The kids giggle and say we're gonna break the chair. We never have!

Since almost everyone I know has already done this game ... I'm not tagging anyone. Oh ... hey, there's a #8 ..... I'm not athletic! Like seriously athletic challenged!! Thankfully my family loves me anyway! :)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Grandma & Misc Pics

We just enjoyed a wonderful visit from my mom & Bob. It made my birthday extra special for sure! Unfortunately we were invaded by a nasty cold last week and mine went into a miserable sinus infection (still working to get over that!). But her determination to visit us surpassed the germs in our house! We are SO grateful!!! :)

Our home is a bit more busy and bustling with energy since their last visit. The excitement of visitors puts Naomi over the excitement barometer. Oh my! The girl truly had me about worn out. Neither of the girls were quite sure about sharing all the attention, which was kind of fun to watch.

Attempting to share Grandma's lap. Maleah learned to say "Gramma" just in time! :)

Our Maleah is such a different little girl than the one that came home almost six months ago. I'll post more on that later. I am just truly amazed at the transformation in her life. Her latest development is feeding herself. She comes across as this somewhat passive, mild-mannered disposition ..... UNTIL you mess with her food! She'll all about using the utensils BY HERSELF and it's serious business to her. Hard to believe just months ago she was unwilling to open her mouth for a spoon after coming home. Now she thoroughly enjoys mealtime! :)

These brown eyes just melt my heart. She absolutely LOVES toddling around the house.

After good-byes this morning, it was time to tend to hair. We washed last night, so the next morning is always a big job. I usually give Naomi's head a rest after wash day and leave it loose. Grandma and PaPa agreed the girl has BIG hair the next morning! :) Since it was a leisurely morning here, I decided to give Maleah a "do" as well. The verdict is out if it will stay. I still prefer hers loose. Naomi declared that sister was BEAUTIFUL though, so we've left it in for awhile today.

She was not sure what to think of things in her hair. :)

Maleah was happy that "snack time" was coming!


Naomi is always eager to give kisses. Poor sister wasn't sure if she was messing with her snack or comin' to give her lovin'!

These two are quite the combo, I tell ya!

Grandma wanted a pic of her and her big boys before she headed out the door. They've grown into young men for sure. We are incredibly blessed!

Thanks SO MUCH for coming guys!!! And for putting up with all our germs and blowing noses .... gross! I hope all this hacking is over soon!!! We pray that our next visit is in Illinois. :) I'll be ready for another UPWORDS match, mom!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Gettin' Better! - Thanks for Praying!

Hello everyone ..... thank you for all of you that wrote to ask how Getahun is doing. It is indeed a blessing. I just got word from him this morning that he is BETTER! .... and went back to school yesterday!! (huge big deal - he needs to be able to stay in his school). Thanks for praying. Will you continue as he comes to mind? It's difficult being so far apart and not being able to get very lengthy info .... but what a special relief to hear from him again this morning!

Like many of you, we came home with heavy hearts for the orphans remaining in Ethiopia. One of the blessings of adoption is that families are going over and seeing with their own eyes these amazing children. Lord willing, we all can be a voice for them and more of their needs can be met.

I realize we are way overdue on an update and pictures of our little one (who is NOT so little!). She has a dreary cold this week that's now been shared with both myself and one brother thus far. So soon ... we'll get our act together and post some updated photos. She has changed SO much. Quite the little communicator these days. Hopefully we'll all be well in time for special visitors next week!!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Huge Prayer Request

Your prayers are needed for our "far away son". We received an email from him this morning that he is ill. He won't get the care he needs at Kolfe. Our hearts are extremely broken for him right now. He is such an amazing and bright young man .... was SO eager to get back to school ... now might not be able to even go. We're looking into finding more information both of his medical condition and if there is a way to help him. Everything is so complicated. There are no easy fixes for the fatherless.

Would you join us in praying for Getahun? Pray also that God would make a way to get him the medical care he needs. Pray that he'd be strong enough to keep attending school. He is an outstanding student and an education is his only way to make it there.

Thank you.

Remember, you can now find us over at our new on-line home Serving Him Together.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Upcoming Adoption Conference!

Be sure to come over to our new blog Serving Him Together to find out about a wonderful upcoming adoption conference!