Tuesday, January 31

Pick Up Trip:Day 5

 I didn't get any pictures of us hanging out on day 5. I am so annoyed.  By day 5 were were so ready to just be home. I missed my boys more then I ever thought I would.  Phillip and I were ready to get home and start our new little life as a family of 5. We made the best of our last day in Addis though. We hung our with some of our favorite missionary friends, DeeDee and Paul Aarseth and their sweet kids. We ate burgers at Sishu and went to the amazing park from the day before. It was nice to watch Emme play with some little friends and catch up with this sweet family.
 Check out their blog here
I love reading all of her stories about life in Ethiopia and it is so great to spend some time with people who have the same passion as you. And they are from TEXAS! Also watch their video below to hear their story. I am so glad that God has crossed our paths.

Paul and DeeDee Aarseth~Serving in Ethiopia from SIM USA on Vimeo.

After hanging out with our friends we went to a close by hotel to use the internet and then we walked around the Friendship Supermarket to waste sometime. After strolling around the area for the last time we went back to the guest house to pack up for our 11:25pm flight out.

This is Emme packing up her snacks for the LONG flight HOME. 
Daddy and Emme all ready to go!

We got to the airport around 8:00pm and made it through checkin, security and customs just fine. Emme is a trooper. She gave us a little attitude once but she straightened up really fast and was great the rest of the time. We had grace with her since is was well past her bed time and this whole thing seemed a bit overwhelming to her. 

Here is Emme playing in the Bole Airport before we flew out. 

She is such a diva.

Before we were able to board the plane Emme passed out. Apart of me wanted her awake for this moment. But her tired little body gave out and she crashed. Walking down that corridor to board the plane with my sleeping girl was such a surreal moment. My eyes filled with tears as I reflected on the last 15 months. All the times I vented to my life group girls about how Gods timing in so frustrating and all the times I cried to Phillip because I didn't truly believe it would ever happen came flooding back to my memory. This was it. This was the moment I had been praying for. The final moments before we were on our way home. As I moved my way through the plane to my seat I fought back tears. I have never felt such strong emotions in my life. As I sat in my seat I held my girl close. I closed my eyes and felt my tears roll off my cheek and onto hers. I thought and whispered over and over... This is it. This is it. The day has come. God has answered my prayers and the prayers of so many others. He has shown himself true to his promise even when I was full of doubt and repeatedly questioned him on his goodness. My thoughts scrolled through scriptures that have carried me through and spurred me on. 

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows, this is God, whose dwelling is holy.
Psalm 68:5

He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory. 
Isaiah 61:3

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for the orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. 
James 1:27

For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.

For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, not the arrow that flies in the day. 
Psalm 91:3-5

Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
Proverbs 3:6

 When the wheels of our plane lifted off of African soil my soul felt free. Not that African soil has it in bondage. My soul connects with Africa. I have a deep love for Africa. But something deep in my soul let out a sigh of relief. No more fear, no more worry, no more disbelief. It was free of all of those things. Emme was finally safe in my arms. God has been, is and will be carrying us the rest of the way. I looked over at Phillip and through a shared tearful smile we held hands with our eyes closed embracing the moment. Our new life has just begun.  

Sunday, January 29

Pick Up Trip:Day 4

 She has come ALIVE. Today was the beginning of our best days. She woke up feeling playful. She was different. It's like something clicked and she knew she was ours and we were hers and she was happy. This day was the beginning of her and Phillip's friendship. They were best friends all day! An answer to many many prayers. After eating some YUMMY French Toast and Oatmeal at Kaldi's, we spent most of the morning out side playing. It was constant giggling and constant playing. Phillip was pretty worn out. HA! He swears she is more active then the boys. I remind him that it is simply that she has never had any one person pay this much attention to her and only her. She was soaking it up and loving every minute of it!

 After eating lunch we headed to a Park. It was an awesome park. I wish we had one just like this at home. It was beautifully landscaped, the equipment was super fun, it was shady. It would be a great place to come to sit and read if you didn't have kids. It was really great. We had so much fun watching her experience this. She ran from one thing to the next. It was like taking the boys to a carnival. The weather in Addis is perfect so we stayed there for a few hours.

Here are some fun videos of her playing with Phillip. I loved watching them play and be buddies. If you have heard any of the stories from our court trip you know what a miracle this is. I love watching God answer so many of our prayers through her.

*Turn off my music below so you can hear her sweet little voice!*

Pick Up Trip:Day 3

 Our Embassy Day!! Finally. After this is it official official. Praise Jesus. We got up early, had breakfast and headed out to finalize everything. I woke up emotional knowing that after this morning, no one but the Lord can take her from me. She is my own. Just the same as my flesh and blood. It was a good feeling. We couldn't take any pictures at the Embassy because of security reason. Boo! But those images of that day will forever be engraved in my heart. While at the embassy, which was a 20 minutes process, they confirmed the reasons her mother was choosing to relinquish her. We learned her mother makes on $0.45 A DAY which is roughly $13.50 A MONTH!! She simply is too poor to care for all 6 of them. I left feeling a mix of emotions. Joyful that we have our daughter and really sad that a mother lost hers because she is simply to poor to care for her. This is not ok. There has to be a way to prevent things like this from happening. I pray everyday that God will use me and show me a way to help and a way to lift the load and burden. Emme mom is a widow. Emme's dad died when she was an infant. James 1:27 calls us to care for BOTH the WIDOW and the ORPHAN. I am praying that one day, hopefully soon, we will get to go back to Ethiopia and travel to Kamashi. My God, please make a way.

After the Embassy we went and had a yummy lunch and just hung out. Emme was still hot and cold with Phillip and it was starting to become and issue. After lunch I laid her down for a nap and during nap I cried out to God. I reminded him that Emme is now ours. She is just the same as our flesh and blood. I plead for her soul just as I do the boys. I asked Him to cover her with His grace, for the Holy Spirit to consume her and to take residence in her little heart. I begged for thoughts of love and kindness to fill her mind. For thoughts of affection to come to her mind. I prayed that she would on her own think to touch us, to hug us and to kiss us. I prayed for walls to be torn down and for healing to transpire. I prayed and I prayed and I prayed for God to see her and to wrap himself around her. She continued to sleep and she slept good.

After nap a new child arose. She had a glow. She was happy. We played out side for hours. It was amazing to listen to her laughter and see joy on her face. God not only saw her and not only saw me sitting on the edge of her bed crying out to Him but He heard and He listened and He answered. God is good. He is more than good He is GREAT

Pick Up Trip:Day2

 On Day 2 of our trip we decided to book a sight seeing tour. I wanted to create some fun memories of us in Ethiopia with our sweet Emme that didn't consist of the Transition house or sitting at our guest house. I wanted to get out and see the country. We joined another AWESOME family who was staying with us. I felt like we had known these sweet people forever. We seriously need to move to TN. The Archies are so fun and they made our trip so memorable. I cannot wait to connect with them again. So... the Archies and us piled in our drivers van and we headed out on our 2 hour drive into the country to see the Portuguese Bridge and Debre Libanos Monastery. 

It was a beautiful drive with a lot of fun and different things to see. There were several moments though were I thought we were going to DIE. People in Ethiopia cannot drive. And there are NO seat belts or car seats for the kids! It is really scary. Ha! 

It was a long drive up the mountain but it was SO worth it. The views were breathtaking. I don't know how anyone can look at that and say "There is NO God." God's creation is beautiful and again like I said... breathtaking.

Emme playing with the Archies oldest son

Emme playing with the Archies newest addition Getu. He was in the same transition house with Emme for awhile. ;) I am sure it was nice for her to have a familiar face hanging around. 

We didn't make it to the bridge. The ground was too rough for little Emme and TOMS are not the best hiking shoes. But what we did get to see and do was amazing. I am so glad that we went. 
After enjoying a yummy traditional Ethiopian lunch overlooking the Valley we headed back into Addis. One the way back to the city we stopped at this village on the side of the road to hand out some donations with the Archies. I will have to write more about this later. It did something special in my heart. It is worthy of its own special post. But I will leave you with the picture. 
Oh... be still my heart. 

Pick Up Trip:Day1

We are home. We arrived home last Sunday night really, really late. It is so good to be home. Oh so good. I decided I would start these updates day by day so..... Sunday Januray 15th at 10:00 am we boarded our first flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where we were, once and for all, picking up our sweet, sweet girl.

After about 23 hrs of a quite eventful travel we were finally in the country that is so close to my heart. We had prayed for this moment for so long. I can't even begin to tell you how many tears I have cried or how many pleas I have plead for this sweet moment. We got into Addis late Monday night so we were going to pick Emme up the next morning. Completely surreal. I could hardly sleep that night. Tuesday morning January 17th, Phillip woke feeling pretty bad. He had felt bad on the flight over and randomly broke out in this crazy itchy rash all over his body on the flight. We drugged him up with some Benadryl we bought in London and slathered him up with some anti-itch cream. It seemed to ease the discomfort for awhile but the poor guy had to fly all those hours with these crazy hive things. He is a trooper. The enemy is such a turd. He will try to rob your joy any way he can. Well Tuesday morning Phillip woke up in Addis with a crazy sore throat. *Note I had strep throat just the week before* So we had our driver call up one of his American friends that lives there in Addis (It just so happened to be Sumer Yates the founder of P61 ... Oh my stars) to see what hospital she recommended. Yes. You read that right. We were on the hunt for a good hospital for my husband. For those of you who know Phillip you know how uncomfortable and nerve racking this was for him and how hilarious is was for me. We ended up going to the Korean hospital before we went to pick up Emme. It was quit the experience. There you can buy Fast Passes to be seen first, before everyone else who is waiting. A Fast Pass cost 120birr which is hardly anything at all. Phillip offered the lady double to see right then. He was and I think the whole visit including the meds that the doctor prescribed ended up costing us like $25-30. INSANE!! 

After our exciting hospital visit we were finally on our way to pick up our sweet Emme. On the car ride over,  I was praying and just thanking God for this sweet moment and thanking him for his faithfulness during this whole process. Suddenly in the midst of thanking him he showed me that though this is a really exciting moment for us it is a terrifying moment for her. We are finally getting to pick up our sweet little that we have been long waiting for. But for her, it is more like "these white crazy people who I barely know are coming and taking me from everything I have known for the last year." How terrifying for a 4 yr old. Though this home that she is in doesn't meet "my" standards for my children, it is good to her and it is her home. It is all she knows. It is where she is loved and where she is taken care of. It is where she eats and where she sleeps. It is where the nannies are her mothers and all the kids are her siblings. It is where her memories are. And we are taking her from it. Taking her from all that is safe and familiar to her. It is her home. Though it was temporary. She is to young to fully grasp that this is good. That this new life she has is better. I am thankful that God showed me this perspective on the way over there. I then had a different heart, a different compassion,  and more empathy for her reactions when we showed up. 

When we pulled through the gate I saw her immediately. She was standing there in her little black leggings and her turquoise cardigan I had left with her last time we were there. Her hair was poofed with a simple blue headband. It was a sight I will never forget. She saw me in the car and gave me a half smile and little wave. You could see and feel her uncertainty. My heart ached for her to know that this was good. I ran to her and scooped her up. I didn't care if she was afraid. God had brought us to the end and I needed to squeeze my little promise fulfilled

 We spent some time walking around her house where she has lived for the last year. The nannies there were explaining to her that she was leaving and that she was going to America, to her new home. As the many explained this, Emme's eyes filled with tears and she began to cry. It was hard. All I could do was pray that the Lord would intervene and that she would feel some peace. For some, this moment is magical and amazing, for us... it was hard and sad. But thats ok. I understood. My sweet girl was broken. Its ok though because she soon realized how crazy loved she is. And I plan on loving the snot out her everyday of her precious little life.

*Warning these pictures break my heart. We have more but they are just way, way to sad to share. These will have to do for now.*

Once we finally left the house things got better. While in the car she reached over and touched my hand. My heart melt and I cried. God was there. I could feel him. Things between her and Phillip were a little rough that first day. Like the trip before she was really hot and cold. She loved him one moment and loathed him the next. Like the last rip we were focusing on Connecting and not Correcting. That is so hard when you want to love on a child who is just hateful in return. At dinner that night Emme and Phillip had there first really good moment. She...all on her own reached over and touched his arm which lead to her climbing up in his lap. It was so sweet and Phillip was in Heaven. 

Heres a little clip of her feeling and diving into her African roots. She loved the entertainment and was dancing along with them. She was completely worn out by the time we left. 
*Turn off my music so that you can hear it better*

Tuesday, January 10

She's Coming Home

 WE HAVE BEEN CLEARED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I cannot even BELIEVE it!!!! 

We get to bring our little lady home. The news couldn't not have come at a more random moment. Let me tell ya....  

Wednesday I woke feeling just a little strange. Not sick, just strange. The kids went to school, I ran my normal errands, we had a little friend over for a playdate, then right around 3:00 I got this crazy dizzy headache. It was so miserable driving to get Parker from school and coming home it turned into one of those headaches where you HAVE to lay down or else you will puke. Well we got home I put on a movie for the kids and told them I need to rest. I woke up at 6. THANK GOODNESS daddy came home. I stayed in bed all night. Sometime around midnight I started throwing up. I know TMI but it was traumatic. I couldn't stop. Thursday, same headache, nauseous, throwing up PLUS a crazy sore throat. Thursday I felt like death. I could not get out of the bathroom floor. My throat was being invaded with swords and I was nauseous beyond belief. (I am not even being dramatic) On top of all of this, Phillip was summoned to jury duty this same week and was CHOSEN to serve. So he was in court most of the day and my kids were home because they had Impetigo. My sweet friend Lana came by that night to cheer me up a bit. She brought a sweet little bag full of lemons, honey, green tea, tissue and a recipe books for soups and a pack of gatorade along with some pretty flowers to stare at while I just lay there. I love how God sends friends to bring you some light and a smile during hard times and sickness.

 On Friday my mom helped with the kids so that I could drag my poor sick self to the doctor. Sure enough I had the virus that has been going around on top of a severe case of strep throat. Lovely. She prescribed me some meds and sent me on home. I spent most of Friday back in the bathroom floor praying for my throat to open up. For those of you who have never had strep throat I pray you never do. It is rough. Friday night before Parker went to bed he came over to me and prayed a sweet sincere prayer that God would open my throat and that in Jesus name I would be healed and He would take all the pain away. I cried as he prayed. Parker has the most beautiful heartfelt prayers. When he lifted his sweet chubby little hand from my neck I literally felt my throat open. I am not even joking. Its like God, with his healing hands, physically opened my throat. Not only did my throat open but I was able to sit up and eat some grits. It was the first thing I had eaten since wednesday at breakfast. The prayers of a child who really has faith (like my sweet Parker) are so powerful. I was really healed. That night while sitting on the sofa Phillip checked his email and there is was. He looked up at me with big doughy eyes and said "Guess what email I just got?" Clueless I said "Pictures of Emme?!" It was the email we have been waiting for. Our agency director emailed us to tell us the Embassy had set up a birthparent interview for Monday January 9th and if all went well we would be cleared to pick up our little girl. I was immediately over come with emotions. All I could do was close my eyes and just cry. Funny how God comes through on his promises when you feel so beaten down. God is so good. I am crying as I retype how it all happened. Monday came and we got the official news. We have been cleared and we leave this Sunday morning. We will pick Emme up at the transition house were she has been living for almost a year and we WONT LOOK BACK. She is coming home to her family. Our Embassy appointment it set for January 19th. We will arrive in Midland on Sunday January 22nd. I am beyond excited and overwhelmed with emotions. I just cannot believe this is finally happening. THANK you to everyone who has prayed to get us here. We are here. You prayers have been heard. THANK you for your faith. It is inspiring. Now I am running around making lists of everything you can make lists of...babysitter, bags to be packed, what to pack in those bags that need to be packed, what to do while we are there, what the boys need to do while we are gone, lists of the lists I need to make. I am crazy and this week is crazy but I am so joyful and excited and thankful to be in the stage of crazy. It is the BEST Crazy I have been in a while. 


A New Year

 Oh my goodness. Is it really already 2012? What a fun year this will be. We are expecting BIG things this year. Hopefully our year will start off with us bringing our sweet girl HOME FINALLY!! Keep praying I know it is coming.

This year my big boy will be 6. SIX that seems so old. Five was hard but SIX really? Stop growing. Phillip is going to Ethiopia in June with a missions team from our church in June. I am so excited but a tiny bit jealous. Emme will for sure be home by then and I think this year it will be too soon to leave her for 10 days to go to Africa. It's ok. I know I will get to go soon. Phillip is also going on a fishing trip to Alaska over July 4th week. How stinking fun is that? He will be going with his dad. It will be good bonding. I will have to come up with something super spectacular for the kids and I to do. We are also trying to figure out a super fun family vacation for the FIVE (I can't believe we are a family of 5 now) of us to go on to celebrate sister coming home. Im thinking something beachy. Hmmm.... Beckham will be 4. Where have the last 3 years gone? And Emme....well we still aren't sure if we will be celebrating her 4th or 5th birthday. We will have a little bone scan tell us ;) We have a trip to Oklahoma this spring for a special wedding and probably a few other little trips. It is going to be a great year filled with many many fun memories. I can't wait to live out this next year and make memories with my ever growing family.

On another note... We got to ring in the New Year with some pretty amazing friends. We were invited to a dance/party at a local country club. So we joined 3 other couples and boogied the night away. Yes I am nerdy and I say boogie. We had a blast. I love living life with these people. They bring so much joy to my heart.