Friday, December 31, 2010

More of Christmas





Christmas Time is Here

I have talked of my grandad passing away from cancer on here before. He had surgery in February to take the cancer out....unsure as to whether he would survive the surgery or not. Once he came out of surgery doing well....I let my mind go there. I pictured him with Lucy .....especially during Christmas since we thought she would be home by then.

Fast forward to Christmas....grandaddy not with us and Lucy not home yet. I thought I was prepared but apparently not. As I put the tree up after Thanksgiving....it was a sore sight. I would hang an ornament...then cry a little. Put some ribbon on the tree....cry a little. It hit me then that Christmas would be a little different this year.....that my heart would be missing two precious people. In some ways....reality hit that day. Russ suggested that I stop putting up Christmas decorations and just not decorate this year.

I...being just a tad stubborn....told him I could handle this...that Christmas was my favorite time of the year....and I just needed to grieve that day and then I would be better.

And I did. I grieved all day for the loss of my precious grandad and the loss of Lucy not being with us yet.

But also on that day I decided that I would have joy. Christmas celebrates our Savior's birth and I WOULD be joyful about that. His birth is the BEST news and this year I was going to celebrate HIM. It was that day that I felt God calling me to be still and be PRESENT with Him....to truly anticipate His birth.

During the Christmas Eve service at church....I thought about Mary like I never had before. Having a child...not knowing the circumstances.....all the unknowns yet an angel telling her not to be afraid....I had empathy for Mary......the way people must have talked about her...how she did the right thing no matter what others said....how scared she must have been....and most of all how she believed and had faith before she even knew what she was believing in.

Yes during this season we experienced some sad moments...moments where I just couldn't muster up the strength to be joyful. BUT this has been the most meaningful Christmas I have ever experienced. While the circumstances were not as I would have wanted them....the tenderness and faithfulness God lavished on us was simple amazing.

We decided early in the year we would stay home Christmas Eve. We thought Lucy would be here and we wanted to stay in our house as a family. Once we realized she wouldn't be here we decided that for the first time we would stay at our house Christmas Eve...just us. Russ and I cooked steaks, watched A Christmas Story, played Scrabble (which I won!!!), opened our gifts to each other and read from Luke. An amazing night.

We then went to bed and woke up to THIS!!!

Such a fun gift!!! A WHITE CHRISTMAS!!! Icing on the cake....my friends...icing on the cake.

"Because of God’s tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace.”

Luke 1:78-79

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

30 days

30 days until we leave for Ethiopia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I CANNOT believe it is this close. January 27th cannot get here fast enough. We are so excited about spending time with our daughter and getting to explore Ethiopia. My heart is beating fast as I write this. Reality is setting in....this is not a dream....we are actually going to SEE our daughter for the first time in 34 days and when we come home .....she will be with us!!!!!

AH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

This is It...

Advent.

I grew up in a church in the south, but we never really celebrated advent. I mean, we went to Christmas parties. Our church read scripture about the birth of Christ. We sang all the songs. But the word "advent" didn't enter my lexicon until the past few years. Even now, I don't really spend a lot of weeks or even days preparing for the celebration of the Messiah.

I do know what it's like to wait. In August of 2009, Anna and I started the process of adopting a child from Ethiopia. We had discussed this for years, and finally took the definitive step forward. Since then it's been a process of waiting. Get this form turned in and wait. Have this notarized then wait. Pay this fee and wait. Make this phone call and wait.

We decorated the house for Christmas with a slight sadness because we have waited so long and Lucy still isn't here yet. We had seen her face, but we didn't even know when we'd be able to view it outside of a backlit computer screen. It was frustrating.

A week ago we got a call from our agency that said we had a court date. We're going to be in Ethiopia at the end of January, and we arrive at court on February 4th with the anticipation that she will be ours. So now, even though she's not here yet, we celebrate Christmas with a joy that our lives are about to change forever. There will be new joys, new hopes, new life that enters our house. Maybe that's what Advent is about. The anticipation of new joys and new hopes and new life.

After years and years of wait, the Hebrew people got the Messiah they had been promised. All of humanity was given the Savior of the world. He didn't come in a way that they expected, but when he did come, all was right with the world. God never shows up the way we want him to. He always messes with our sense of expectation. For a while I thought he was some cosmic bully, just letting us know that he's in charge. I'm starting to see that God messes with our expectations because he wants us to know that if we take control of our lives, it just doesn't work out as well. When he takes control, he blows our expectations out of the water. He lets us see just how small our plans are.

So this year, I will celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world. I will celebrate knowing that God knew this Christmas would be my last as a non-parent. I will celebrate because God has an enormous plan for the eventual redemption of the world, and I am a small part of it. I will celebrate because he knows what he's doing, even when I don't.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

FedEx and Reality

Monday, Russ had a conversation with his co-workers about praying for the adoption. He didn't ask them to pray for a courtdate.....he asked them to pray that we would have a peace no matter when it happened.

I decided this week was THE WEEK that I would truly ASK God for a courtdate. In fact, Monday night I was talking to some friends telling them this. But, I also desired for it to be His timing not ours. I was beginning to feel balanced....truly wanting it but trusting as well.

Well, God's timing for us to receive a courtdate was Tuesday, December 7.

I was working at a co-workers house...knee-deep in paperwork trying to get a printer to do what I needed it to do. She told me my phone was ringing and I almost just let it ring but she met me in the hallway to hand it to me. I truly was NOT THINKING it would be our agency. When I saw 817.....I knew!!

FEBRUARY 4th is the day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I left to go find Russ at the church....just knew he would be in staff meeting and I could rush in and surprise him. I had it all planned out in my head....soundtrack music playing in my head as if we were in a movie. Well, he had already left to mail our paperwork to update our fingerprints. When I finally got him on the phone.....we realized I had forgotten to tell him to SIGN the paperwork before he mailed it. We were both frustrated and all I could say was ..."you will be sorry in about 5 minutes." He headed back to FedEx.

I showed up at FedEx and had him open the piece of paper where I had written down two dates. Jan. 30 and Feb. 4. The date we have to be in-country and the courtdate.

We then had our own little celebration in the parking lot of FedEx...which is completely appropriate since we have spent so much time mailing off adoption documents :)

We are praying about staying in-country versus coming home between the two trips. Right now we are thinking we will stay. We have been blessed with flexible jobs and would LOVE to bond with our baby girl in Ethiopia. Anyone else have a courtdate around this time and staying???

We are beyond excited...and maybe just a little freaked out. I feel as though I just got pregnant and am going to deliver in less than two months. The reality of it not just being Russ and I anymore is setting in ....but we are so ready.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Cord of Three Strands

One of my great friends, Sara Berry, just published a new book called A Cord of Three Strands. The book is a true story of a sweet lady that lives in our town and it is FABULOUS!!! It involves one teenage girl giving her child up for adoption. It involves one woman's desire and longing for children. It involves redemption and grace and a story only God could create.

I read the book in two days and BAWLED the entire time. Such a sweet, sweet story. Here is the promo video for the book. You can go to www.bethelroadpublications.com to order your copy....and she has some other great books that would be great Christmas presents as well....

Especially the sweet children's book .....A Home for Him (for boys or girls).... AMAZING artwork and tells Biblical truths plainly so that kids can understand.

Let me know if you read the book (or books) and what you think :)

Anna