Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Our first date... Courageous!!!

Yes, it finally happened. Brandon and I went on our very first date. Well, we went on our first date as parents anyway. Brandon’s parents were in town for the weekend. They had been here for a few days and M was getting pretty comfortable with them. We decided to go to a 3:55 showing of the movie Courageous and M did so well. Brandon’s parents actually played outside with him the entire time. They went to the park, walked, and watched Big Trucks and other vehicles on the main street. Since the harbor is closing soon they were even able to see some BIG boats which was quite a thrill for M I am sure. There were points during the movie where I was just totally freaking out that we left him, but we knew we left him with very capable people who really love him so we were able to enjoy the show.

Courageous was SUPER! I was so impressed with both the content and the quality. Some of the previous Sherwood movies were not quite as professional, but it was quite hard to even think that a church produced this movie. Very impressive. As for the story line, I don’t feel like I can really share anything because I don’t want to spoil anything, but what I can recommend is that EVERYONE SEE THIS MOVIE!!!!!

Will I be a little nervous to leave M next time? Yes, of course. I know it will get easier with time, but this was a great first experience... and let me tell you I was almost jumping out of the car while it was moving trying to get to my little man once we got home.

It's a boy!!

Note: This was written on 10.16.11 and never got posted... opps!

No, this isn't some big announcement about another adoption. Truth be told, if there are any prayer warriors out there who want to pray for us as we seek God's direction for future children that would be awesome. We are at a loss for which country to go with and are hoping for a neon sign soon :)

Back to the title... TODAY marks me “due date” in a sense. 9 months ago today we landed in the US with our son. Yes, he does feel like my son. Yes, some days it is still really really hard to parent my screaming toddler, but my weariness is not mixed with doubts or second guesses. I know he is my son. I am in awe of the attachment process and how right on it was about the whole 9 month thing. You can read about my early reflections on attachment HERE. Seriously, recently as I have been praying about another adoption I have thought things like, “International adoption seems scary” and “could we really adopt?” That is right friends, my mind has forgotten in many ways that M came to our family through adoption. Now, I don't want to confuse you all. Adoption is a huge part of our lives. Ethiopia is a huge part of our lives. We love and celebrate both, but these thoughts come from an attachment perspective and are really amazing actually. Love and attachment were not instant as a fairy tale might depict, but they came and wow it is incredible!

We made it... and it just keeps getting better!

Celebrating Jack’s Life

Jack and the Keller family recently had a Celebration of Life night. Oh how we wished that we could be there. Two LONG trips in just a couple of weeks are more than we could handle, but I wanted to share with all of you and with Jack what we would have said if we were able to be there, and especially if we would have been given the opportunity to share how Jack and Sarah have blessed our lives with the group!

Jack, each time we look at our son we are reminded of your life and of God's work in your life! Many of you know that the Keller family was seeking to add to their family through the miracle of adoption and received a referral for a baby named “M.” You then might know that everything started to go wrong and they had to release M's referral, told he would never be able to be adopted. In time they received word that he could be adopted, but the timing of his homecoming would be the same as Sarah's due date with sweet Andrew. Once again they had to lay this little man down, trusting that God had a different plan for M. Jack wrote to the adoption agency asking if we could receive the referral for M. We were using the same agency and about number 29 on the waiting list. He was told that wasn't possible and M's referral was given to a specific family. Another family received and declined his referral and M was then listed as special needs due to some delays. This meant that our family, who was approved for special needs was more of a possibility. Our agency contacted the Keller's and asked about us and we were called the same day with the great news that we could receive M's referral. As I write this he has been home for 9 months today. He is a joy and a delight, and a testimony to the greatness of our God and to the faithfulness and prayer of Jack Keller.

You see, the reason that we are sharing the story above is because Jack and Sarah carried our son in their hearts for over half a year. Jack specifically would pray a blessing from afar over him each day. M should have died in Ethiopia. He was so very near death, but I fully believe that Jack and Sarah's faithfulness and obedience to pray and care for M sustained his life, protected his heart, nurtured his spirit, and prepared the soil within him for Jesus! M's paperwork coming through was another testimony to prayer as our agency just believed their was no way it would happen. Our God reminds us that nothing is impossible with Him in charge. He reminds us that He so perfectly cares for every image bearer on the planet. Our son, a once starving orphan in Africa was and is very important to our heavenly Father.

Jack your model of love for your sons is something that we have appreciated and hope that we can parent our children as you do. Even through pain your boys see you as their hero, their mighty daddy, their “mo-mo” companion. We pray that your boys hearts will be etched with this model and they will one day be dads just like their own. Your love for your bride is so sweet, tender, and beautiful. We pray that many marriages are currently enriched and will be for generations to come because of your model of self less love for your Sarah. Your love for your King is so Awesome! Before we knew you like we do now, we watched you cling to Jesus as you waited for lungs. Now, we watch you cling to Jesus as you wait to see Him face to face.

Jack, thank you for showing us each day how to really live!

Our time with Jack

This post has been in my head and heart for weeks. I really don't know what to say what I want to say even after weeks of thinking about it, but I pray that this post will honor Jack and Sarah and paint of a picture for all of you and for our son as he grows about our time with Jack.

A couple of weeks ago we read HERE about some very hard news that our friends Sarah and Jack Keller received. As many of you know Sarah and Jack were our son's first referral family. If you don't know the story, please read HERE how God did an amazing work to lead M to our family through the Keller family.

Before I tell the story about things of recent I want to go back and tell about August 8th 2008. If you just read (or re-read like me) the referral story, you might think I wrote the wrong year... but I didn't. August 8th 2008 was the day that Sarah and I and other dear friends hung out on our college campus for a mini-reunion. Sarah and I were talking about adoption a mile a minute and my heart was racing and envying her as she told about their home study and the Ethiopia program with their agency. One year later to the day our son was born in Ethiopia... isn't God amazing.

Fast Forward to present day. Our dear Jack received news that his journey to meet Jesus in heaven will come more quickly than many of us. Yes, that is my round about way of saying that he learned that this cancer will take his earthly life. Because of his transplant the time frames are not clear so Brandon and I talked a lot and decided that M and I would make the long trip to Fargo alone and as soon as possible. The details all fell into place and and we planned a quick trip heading there on a Wednesday and coming home on a Saturday. I was pretty scared to make the drive along with M since he is not a car ride fan and since it is about 10 driving hours away from our current home.

The drive:
Wednesday morning we woke up to beautiful fall weather. We packed and prayed and headed on our journey. M did SO WELL overall, though as lunch time neared he was starting to melt. He was screaming EAT from the back seat and having never driven on the road and realizing that it didn't have wayside rest areas I was in a panic. It seemed we were in the middle of no where and there was so little I could do. I told M I was sorry and prayed... well actually, I cried out to God for help. No sooner had I prayed that I saw the steeple of a church. I then noticed the sign reading Evangelical Free (our denomination) and decided to take the exit and follow the service road and prayed for a kind receptionist who would allow us a microwave and a spot to sit and eat and change M's diaper. It was beautiful so we could eat outside if needed and it just felt right. I carried M inside and soon realized it was also a private school at lunch time and their were children every where. We were very warmly greeting by strangers and allowed to eat with the teachers. M was then blessed to play with some pre-schoolers on the playground and I had wonderful conversation with new friends. The stop wore out my son and he then napped for over an hour which was also a miracle. I am so in awe of God's provision for us as we traveled. The rest of the trip went smoothly and we arrived at “the farm” just after 8:00pm.

We got to spend lots of great time with Jack and Sarah and their two blessings on Thursday and Friday. Before I talk about that I must mention that we also were able to spend great time with the wonderful family who hosted us and another dear friend and her sons. We also got to be pretend grandparents for a Kindergarten class, visit my college campus, visit the church I worked at and met Brandon at, and of course an ethic food store. Everything went so quickly and we missed seeing so many dear friends, but we will be back again before too long... this summer hopefully!

When we arrived at the Keller's Jack was at work so we hung out with Sarah and the little guys. M was able to meet Jack's parents who he warmed up to quite nicely and I am hoping at least one quality photo was taken. M did lots of playing with Aaron (he pronounces it something like how he says hummus as Sarah and I were confused that he was hungry and he was just looking for his buddy) and baby Andrew, who he calls Anne-June. The boys played together quite well and have the same passions for trucks, dancing, playing outside, and garbage day! Their might have been a few times that they both wanted the same loader or garbage truck, but over all they did great. Mikias was able to have some cuddle times with both Sarah and Jack. He and Jack had fun dancing together, listening to music, looking at books, playing with trucks, and just being silly. We all treasured time we could spend together. The big boys got to have a bath together and Jack got to give Mikias a bottle and a cuddle.

Spending time with the Keller's was so surreal. They are so special to us. They are the reason we have our son... the reason we are parents. I was so struck by the way they lived each day to the full full fullest! Every moment is treasured at that house. Every family should live this way, but we just don't. Our lives our so busy and so full that we don't take time to live in the moment. I learned so much from them about how to be a mom, a wife, a daughter of the King. I treasured my tiny talks with Sarah during naps. We talked about so many different and special things. Sarah and I have such similar views on so many things so when two kindred spirits get together the topics easily jump from cooking, to schooling, to books we are reading, talks we are hearing, church life, family and more.

I got LOTS of video footage while we were there. I decided quickly to let Sarah handle the still shots and I would stick to video as trying to do both was too hard. I admit that I am not sure what the finished product will be like as I was often so touched and moved and emotion filled while shooting that I would look at the screen and realize I was recording the floor. Hopefully some moments will be captured for our families to share for years to come.

Before we left Jack gave M a special gift. He read one of those talking Hallmark books to our son and that book is something we will always treasure. To say M likes to listen to the book would be an understatement. He can listen to it over and over and over again. While listening he just smilies and says “Jack” :) Jack also prayed a blessing over M. This is something that he did from afar during the entire adoption process. It was so special for all of us to think about the miracle it was that M had made it to America. He was in a home... my home... my family... my heart, yet theirs too. M's adoption is both International and Domestic in my opinion. Watching M with Jack was like seeing M with his birth father in a way. I can't describe it in words that make sense, but it was truly AWEsome.

God is so faithful. We were so blessed to be able to celebrate His faithfulness with Sarah and Jack. Leaving their home brought tears to my eyes. My heart was filled with joy and I knew that 24 hours in the car with my little man were TOTALLY worth it for our time with the Kellers.