Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Letter to Josiah, my Kindergartner

Well, things have been quite silent on the blog lately, and for that I apologize. I will make no promises that activity will pick up, but did want to celebrate Josiah's first day of Kindergarten yesterday! He was so excited beforehand and even more excited afterwards, exclaiming 5 minutes after we got home, "I'm bored! I wish I was back at Kindergarten!" Guess he had a great time.

One of the things I've committed to doing is to writing letters to my kids at different milestones (i.e. birthdays, firsts, etc.) and wrote Josiah a letter yesterday morning that I thought I'd share with you of the 5 things I'm praying for him.
Dear Josiah,
Today is your first day of Kindergarten and I couldn't be more excited for you. I know you are going to love school and all the great things that you are going to get to learn. As you start school, there are a number of things I am praying for you.
First of all, I am praying that you remember the things that Mommy and Daddy have taught you so far. Our goal has been to teach you the ways of Jesus our Savior. He is the only One worth following, so follow Him alone.
Secondly, I am praying that you forget or correct many of the things Mommy and Daddy have taught you. We are not perfect and have taught you things through our example that we wish you hadn't learned. This is why we point you to Jesus and plead with you to follow Him.
Next, I am praying that, like Jesus, You will be a servant. Jesus said that He didn't come to be served, but to serve and that is what I pray you will do. Everything in our flesh and in our world tells us to seek what you can get from others, but I plead with you to seek out what you have to give to others and experience the joy that comes from giving.
Fourth, I pray that as you follow Christ, and as you serve, that you will lead. Even now, I pray you learn to be a strong and humble leader. As you follow Christ, Josiah, the world will see your good works and look to glorify you. Have none of it! Give the glory to Christ and lead others to follow Him.
Lastly, I pray that above all, you will learn to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. He alone satisfies, son. No one and nothing else will give you that, though many will say they can. Listen to God's Word, trust in it, don't lean on your own understanding, and let Him direct your path. I'm proud of you, Josiah.
Love, Daddy

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Heading Back to Ethiopia!

This has to be one of my favorite pictures of all time, one that was taken as Brandy and I went with Peter of Children's HopeChest to visit his ministry, Compassion Family Ministry, back in May when we were in Ethiopia. This little girl was an absolute handful, but so full of joy and fun and laughter.

Tomorrow, I get to hop on a plane and head back to Ethiopia with a couple of teams of single adults from our church, Watermark Community Church. I have been missing Ethiopia so much, but have had the joy of knowing I would be heading back there in July, and now it's here and I couldn't be more excited. Our team has a trip blog that I wanted to let you know about so you could follow along with me there. We'll be able to post updates via satellite from the field. Rather than tell you all about the trip, just go to http://watermarkinafrica.blogspot.com where I've already written 3 blog posts about the trip, what it is, who we're ministering to, how we're going about it, etc. I'll post a couple more times before I leave to introduce people to the team.

The bitter-sweet element of the trip is that I leave Brandy and the kids back here for several days. We are so blessed to have such as amazing community around us and neighbors who will be looking out for her and them. Please pray for Brandy and I both. Thanks for tracking along with us.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Welcome Home, Fournets!

A key factor in our decision to adopt from Ethiopia specifically was the fact that one family in our community group was already in the process to bring home kiddos from Ethiopia. We were excited about the opportunity to raise our kids together and for them to have that connection (We now have 3 families in our community group adopting from Ethiopia). At long last, our sweet friends, the Fournets, are home with their little ones, Beck and Deshi and we had the chance yesterday to introduce them to Malachi.

We're so happy for you guys, Beau and Natalie, and grateful for your friendship.

Malachi and Beck, destined to be best buds

Malachi and Deshi . . . who's up for arranged marriage?

If you're not already following their blog, you can check out the Fournets blog at http://fournetfamily.blogspot.com/. Also, continue to pray for the Tuckers who are waiting to hear back on their next court date. They were delayed again last week. You can follow their blog at http://thetuckerfamilylife.blogspot.com/.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Meeting the Rest of the Family

We just got back Sunday from a great weekend with my family celebrating my sister's wedding to the man we now know as Uncle James (welcome to the family!). It was a great way for us to get to introduce Malachi to some more of his new family. Here are videos of Malachi getting to meet his Aunt Nikki (my sister), Uncle Matt (my brother), Aunt Kristen (his wife) and cousin Grayson.

We also got to take Malachi to the beach for the first time. He was absolutely fearless, walking straight towards the ocean as soon as we set him down on the beach. There have been so many moments since we returned that I am struck with the contrast of what he is experiencing and what the orphans we met in Ethiopia experience every day. They'll likely never see the ocean or anything like it. I wrestle with what to do with that other than to encourage anyone and everyone to pray and consider whether God might be calling you to bring one of these sweet kiddos home and give them a life they can't imagine today. Enjoy Mally enjoying the beach.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gladney Foster Center & Our Adoption

The second day we were in country in Ethiopia, we had the chance to go to the foster center where Malachi had stayed the bulk of his time. It was such a great thing to experience as we got to see the house he knew as home, meet the kids who were his friends, and especially get to spend time with the caretakers. Each of the kids has one or two main caregivers who call themselves the kids' "special mother." Malachi's "special mother" was a wonderful lady named Geti (sp?) who you see in the video. It was clear how much Malachi loved her from the way his face lit up the moment we walked into the compound and saw her. This was probably the first time we got to see his playful, happy personality (though it is on full display in our home today) as you could tell he was so much more comfortable.

While on the trip, I had the chance to read Dr. Russell Moore's book "Adopted for Life" which is an absolute must read. In it he describes his experience of taking his boys from the orphanage in Russia by saying, "They'd never seen the sun, and they'd never felt the wind. They had never heard the sound of a car door slamming or felt like they were being carried along a road at 100 miles an hour. I noticed that they were shaking and reaching back to the orphanage in the distance . . . I whispered to Sergei, now Timothy, 'That place is a pit! If only you knew what's waiting for you -- a home with a mommy and a daddy who loves you, grandparents and great-grandparents and cousins and playmates and McDonald's Happy Meals!' But all they knew was the orphanage. It was squalid, but they had no other reference point. It was home." He goes on to say, "My whispering to my boys, 'You won't miss that orphanage' is only a shadow of something I should have known already. Our Father tells us that we too are unable to grasp what's waiting for us -- and how glorious it really is. It's hard for us to long for an inheritance to come, a harmonious Christ-ruled universe, when we've never seen anything like it . . . We must learn to be children, not orphans . . . [but] we don't fully believe that our new Father will feed us, so we hang on to our scraps and long for the regimented schedules of the orphanage from which we've come. And when our Father pushes us along to new tastes, we pout that he's not good to us. But he's readying us for glory, preparing us to take our place on thrones as heirs."

I read this with the image of Malachi with the workers fresh in my mind, how he latched on to them, how he playfully ran from us to the safety of their arms, and how in that moment, he chose the care of orphanage workers over the care of his mommy and daddy. It was so much fun to watch the slow transition that week we were in Ethiopia when he stopped reaching for African women, any African woman, rather than staying in Brandy's arms, and to think of where he is now, where those same faces you see in the video that he made with those workers are the faces we see every morning when we walk in to get him out of his crib.

My prayer is that I will increasingly grow in my love for my true Father, rejecting the old ways of the orphanage of my sin and flesh, that my life will delight in walking in His ways even when they don't make sense to me, and that I will grow in my longing for the day when my adoption is complete.

Enjoy the video!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Favorite Videos

We took a lot of video the week we were in Ethiopia and I'm determined to get some of my favorites up this week. I'll just start with "The Moment" for now. This was when Travis, who works with Gladney, brough Malachi to us at the house and we met him for the first time. Wagayu, our host at the guest house where we stayed, is filming and his hands were less than steady, shall we say, but he caught the moment for us which was great.

It was such a surreal moment for sure . . . this was less than an hour from the time we got out of the airport in Addis, and we were shocked that this moment happened so soon, but obviously overjoyed. Enjoy the moment.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Pictures from Week 1: Getting Settled In

It's been a good first week and we're starting to get settled into a bit of a routine. Mally is doing great and seems to be taking everything in stride. He's moved from sleeping in our room the first few nights to sleeping in his new room with Josiah the last few nights. We've had the chance to introduce him to many of our friends and took him to church this morning and shared some sweet moments with friends praying for him and thanking God for him. Then this afternoon we got to join our friends, the Fournets, for a birthday party and Malachi got his first chance to take on a swimming pool. He was very chill and relaxed with all of the kids. Here's a few pictures from our first week.

Josiah and Selah love their new little brother. They're like two kids with a new toy at Christmas. Most of the time that's a good thing.

PawPaw and Malachi, plus Vanna with the sign in the back.

MawMaw and Mally . . . what a great couple!

Enjoying his first bath at home

Now that's a smile!

Daddy and Mally in the pool.

Just chillin'