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! :)