Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day Three in Rwanda

Best moment of the day?

Laina smiled.

Friday, April 29, 2011

We're in Rwanda!!

So things never go quite as you plan. We can share more details later, but the gist of the story is that we made the decision to come to Rwanda several days early. With help from family and friends, we hopped a plane and now we are, unbelievably, in the Land of a Thousand Hills.

That's the good news.

More good news? We have a name for our baby girl. Her name is Laina (pronounced Lay-nuh). Laina means bright light. Middle name to come.

But the best news? Yesterday we got to meet our daughter for the first time. It was sweet and amazing and Laina is wonderful. I wish we could go into details about that first meeting--sometime I will but for now, I will just tell you that we spent hours holding and loving on her. It was surreal and precious.

(from Laina's orphanage, soon to be her former orphanage)

Pray for Laina's health, and for us as we begin the task of getting all the paperwork in order to bring her home. We are not yet allowed to take her with us, and leaving her is rough. We also cannot post pictures until she is legally ours. Thank you all for your prayers.

We are missing our boys like crazy and loving our girl. Can't wait until all five of us are together again. But for now, we are soaking in Rwanda and every precious second we get to spend with Laina.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Baby Sister's Room!

Thanks to some help from Liz, Kelsey, Jenna, and Lindy, the nursery is ready. I love it. It's peaceful and fun, whimsical and bright, girly and sweet. Ready for a look?

When you walk into the room, here's what you see:
This is the glider I rocked my boys in (and fell asleep in many nights). Can't wait to hold my little girl in it too! There's a butterfly mobile over it that is so fun.
(shelf: garage sale, we painted it white; two dolls on the shelf: from Grammy; giraffe made by me months ago; pink dogwood blossom painting I did at a sips-n-strokes)
I love this arrangement over the crib. Kelsey and I painted the canvases (we just painted a solid color, traced images onto them and painted the silhouettes brown) and we arranged it based on a Pottery Barn picture. The canvases say faith, hope, love, and grace.
Love this place! I just walk into it all the time and dream of my sweet little baby girl. Soon!!

Easter, 2011

Well, it wasn't the most meditative Easter we've ever had, but it certainly was one full of meaning and rejoicing. In church I was struck (again) by the cost Jesus paid to adopt us, and by His sheer goodness in saving us, fighting for us, and saying YES to us with this baby girl. During the wait, I found Him to be good and trustworthy, faithful and loving. Now during the rejoicing, I delight all the more in Him, more than I would have without the darkness.

After church, I took the obligatory Easter pictures (see former years here). This will be our last year taking them with only two kids! I stumbled upon a (genius!) scheme for coaxing smiles out of my fellows. They have been very into hearing stories lately, so I sat down on their level, told them to keep looking at the camera, and told them one of their favorites (Iain and Cory have various super-powers. They go to Sonic to get their mama a coke. They spill it on the way home and have to go back for more. Sometimes they spill ice cream too, and lick it up off the ground. Yes, these are the masterpieces I'm talking about. And every time when I finish a Sonic/Super-power story, Cory says, "That's the best story ever, Mama!"). And when they laughed at my wit (heh), I snapped away. Sometimes I had them yell parts of the story back ("Ice cream!!"). It was a relaxing and fun way to take pictures, for all involved. :)

And then we were joined in our back yard for a fun, no-stress (read: KFC) Easter dinner, by family and by friends who count as family. It was a great way to end the Holy Week, and to take a moment to breathe before this week's craziness commences.

Check back later today for pictures of the nursery!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Plan and the Cost

Today is Good Friday, the day that is, for Christians, overflowing solemn thanksgiving, with awe and humility. Our sins were paid for this day, but the cost was our Savior's life.

Throughout this adoption, we have prayed for it to go quickly, not for our own sake, but for the sake of our daughter who waits every day for a family, a home. As the time stretched on and on, it seemed as though our prayers were not being answered. Indeed they weren't answered in the way we wanted. What we asked for was not a bad thing; why didn't God answer us?

On Monday, our small group was studying the Triumphal Entry of Jesus, the day we call Palm Sunday when the people recognized Jesus as King and shouted, "Hosanna!" "Save us!" We talked about how many of those Jews believed that Jesus was a political king, the one who would save them from the heavy hand of the Romans. They were being treated unjustly and they cried out to God for help. They believed that Jesus was their answer.

And of course He was. They were just asking the wrong question.

While the Jews were crying out for political salvation, Jesus was riding toward the cross, to purchase a much bigger salvation that would last eternally and be just as powerful today, 2000 years later, as it was on Palm Sunday. The people who cried hosanna were asking God to deliver them from the oppression they felt, and that was a good thing to ask for. When it appeared that He didn't answer, that He allowed their Hope to be killed a few days later, to them it must have seemed like unanswered prayer, like defeat. If they could have seen the whole thing, they would have known that the freedom Jesus bought on Good Friday is galaxies beyond the political freedom for which they yearned.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)

We see such a tiny piece of the puzzle at any given time. We ask, we beg, we plead with God to answer, to rescue, we ask for good and righteous things, and sometimes He seems silent. May we learn from the people who littered the ground with their coats and cried out for salvation. May we see that He is always working, always moving, always answering. Until He opens our eyes, we may not see the bigger picture, the reason our prayers (prayers for good things!) seem to fail. He has a master plan, and it is bigger than the universe, bigger than all we could ask or think (Eph 3:20-21).

And if the plan is so much bigger than we can think to ask for, the cost is also so much higher. The cost of freedom from the Romans would have been a revolution, and people would have died--that is a great cost. The cost of our adoption is emotionally and financially very high. But the price paid for the salvation of the world was the death of the Son of God--the highest cost that could possibly be paid. And yet today we both mourn and celebrate the fact that He paid it. The cost of our adoption as sons and daughters of God is as much higher than that of our adoption as His thoughts are higher than ours. Today we remember the price.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem with cries of hosanna ringing in His ears. He knew the salvation He would bring was not what they were seeking; He knew it was what they really needed. He provided the ultimate salvation that they did not even know to ask for. When we prayed for our adoption, He saw the big picture, the plan that we still do not understand but trust is right. Today when we pray, we know that we see through a darkened glass and He sees the crystal clear reality, which one day He will show to us (1 Cor 13:12). And His willingness to pay the highest cost for us shows us the depth of His love and care for us. May we never forget that we have been given such a great salvation. Thank You, Jesus that Your plan is bigger, that the cost You paid is higher, and that Your love for us is greater.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Psalm 78

For me, this adoption journey has been nothing if not spiritually rich, fraught with glimpses of Him seen more clearly through the lens of suffering and waiting. The lessons continue.

Today I was reading Psalm 78, which is a command to tell the coming generations about the deeds of the Lord. (Noel Piper talks a lot about this passage in her book on traditions). I love this chapter because I love the idea of remembering--something God commands us over and over again to do--and telling our children what He has done.

Further along in the passage, though, we read an account of what God did in protecting the Israelites, setting them free from the Egyptians, bringing them through the Red Sea, and providing for them in the wilderness. And then at one point, here is how they react to a trial that comes upon them:

They tested God in their heart
by demanding the food they craved.
They spoke against God, saying,
'Can God spread a table in the wilderness?
He struck the rock so that water gushed out
and streams overflowed.
Can He also give bread
or provide meat for His people?'
(Ps 78:18-20)

In other words, He provided what we needed before, but can He really do it again? Note that what they wanted wasn't bad: food. God wanted to provide it for them, and He did, even in spite of His anger and their lack of faith ("...they did not believe in God and did not trust His saving power..." vs 22).

So then, He gave them food, and while it was still in their mouths, He struck some of them down. His anger was kindled against them. But where His justice goes, His mercy often follows:

Yet He, being compassionate,
atoned for their iniquity
and did not destroy them;
He restrained His anger often
and did not stir up all His wrath.
He remembered that they were but flesh,
a wind that passes and comes not again...
...They did not remember His power
or the day when He redeemed them from the foe...
(Ps 78:38-39, 42)

All this relates so exactly to this adoption journey. How many times has He shown Himself strong for us? How many times has He provided? How many times has He fought for us? As we prepare to leave for a trip full of many unknowns, He goes before us and will be with us. When the times come on this trip when we are tempted to doubt that He will do again what He has done before, may we remember this. And when we are home with our daughter and beginning our life as a family of five,

We will not hide them from [our] children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the LORD, and His might,
and the wonders He has done... that they should set their hope in God.
(Ps 78:4, 7a)

Iain, Cory, and Baby Girl, we will tell you what He has done. We wille always remember His works and never doubt that He can again spread a table in the wilderness. His might and power know no end, and He is leading us, carrying us, feeding us, fighting for us, rescuing us. He is strong, just, able, good, and full of mercy. You will hear the stories, and you will live them with us, so that your hope will be forever in God.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Getting Ready

Baby girl, here we come! Twelve days until travel. Well, 11 really, since we're making a stop at Haylee's graduation before heading to Orlando and flying out the next day. Gosh--what am I doing blogging?!

Here's Iain's first family portrait including Baby Sister. That's her, the cute little one floating in the sky. Under her is Cory with the brown hair, and next to him, blonde Iain. And the tall one? Nona. :)
I have a whole extra table set up right now solely for adoption-related paperwork.

Piles of stuff to pack:
And I'm totally stealing this from Laura: the best Fed Ex I've ever sent:

Friday, April 15, 2011

And We Are Filled With JOY!

When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion,
we were like men who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
"The Lord has done great things for them."
The Lord has done great things for us,
And we are filled with joy.
(Ps 126:1-3)

Yesterday, we saw our daughter's sweet face. Yes, you read that right. WE GOT OUR REFERRAL!!! In a perfect moment, all four of us sat on the couch and opened it together, and fell in love. She's beautiful. She's tiny. She has the biggest brown eyes you've ever seen. She is a good and perfect gift from our Father.

When I saw her picture, I recognized her. Not as though I had seen her before. I dreamed of plenty of faces, but none of them hers. But I knew when I saw her that she was ours, that she is just the one God has chosen for us. I really recognized that sweet little girl, and it was amazing. I don't think any of us have stopped grinning.

We will be meeting our daughter in a few weeks (details to come!!), and be home with her sometime in May. May!!!

The boys are enamored with their sister. Iain, after grinning and saying it's time to leave and go get her, said seriously, "I like the dress. Do we get to keep the dress, too?" Cory said, "I think we should name her Beautiful Baby Sister," to which Iain replied, "I don't think she'd like that name forever." And then this morning, the boys went over to the computer (not knowing I was watching) and looked at her picture again. Iain said, "Isn't she just the sweetest little cucumber?" :)

Baby girl, we love you and we are so happy to have you. We'll see you soon!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cory's Dinnertime Prayer Tonight

Dear Jesus, please make all the children not get sick or hurt and please let them not get anything that will hurt them, and please let nobody get ate-en by lions and please let no ducks get ate-en by wolves and please make them into special ducks that don't get ate-en by wolves. In Jesus' name, amen.

Friday, April 01, 2011

In Which Cory Becomes a Taxidermist

In the car, Cory was silent for a long time, thinking. Then,
Cory: Mama, how do you get fur?
Me: (thinking he means for a craft) Well, you can get pretend fur at Jo-Ann's. And some animals have fur.
Cory: (silent for a few more minutes) What is the slowest animal with fur?
Me: Umm, a possum?
Cory: Are they really slow?
Me: Well, how about a sloth?
Cory: Are they really slow?
Me: Yes, they are really slow.
Cory: (thinks for a few more minutes) We're gonna need a knife.

A civics lesson, by the boys:
Iain: Mama, this music sounds presidential. (He was right! It did!)
Me: Who is the president?
Cory: Santa Claus!
Me: What is the president's job?
Iain: He talks even more than me. That's his job.
Cory: Yeah, he's a talker.
Me: What does he talk about?
Iain: Things I don't even know.

Cory: Mama, don't call me Cory Daniel.
Me: Why not?
Cory: Because when you call me that name when I'm eating breaf-kast, I feel like I'm eating a light bulb, burning hot.
Me: Oh.

Me: Do you want the blue sunglasses, Cory?
Cory: No. Spear carriers do not wear blue sunglasses.
(Corrin means spear carrier)

December 26, 2011

As promised, the day after Christmas:

My sister Kelsey's birthday is Dec 26. She is afraid of pirates. So, like any loving family would, we dressed up like pirates and threw her a pirate-themed surprise party, complete with hats, eye patches, and eyeliner moustaches. Good thing she isn't afraid of snakes or spiders. That would not have been pleasant.

It was so cold and windy that we ate fast and went inside to walk the plank and play a pirate trivia game. :)

Later that evening, we headed to Jeremy's aunt Gloria's house to visit her and Yaya. They read books, we ate dinner, and they fell asleep in the car on the way home. Busy day.