The adoption community is tight... I love that about it!
We're a big family - and today we had the privilege and blessing to hang with some family who were in state for a few days...
I absolutely love seeing all these kids hanging together! And two more of there's weren't even in the picture! Let's just say we were running things in Chick Fil-A!
Guys - thanks for taking the time out to hang with our family and share your hearts with our us!
We owe you a visit now!
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Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Monday, June 17, 2013
If a human organ can get the wind knocked out of it - my heart just did - as those words nailed it like a sucker punch.
"I don't wanna pray..."She didn't deliver the words with anger or malice or emphatically with vindictiveness. Rather they were whispered out in a barely audible tone that felt a lot more like hurt than anything else.
Deep breaths. Deep calming breaths before I speak...
"Baby - what's the matter? Are you angry at God?"
"No, daddy..."I asked the question as a formality - I knew the answer. I also knew my oldest daughter well enough to know that without pressing she'd never say who she was really angry with...
She was angry with me.
We were on the late end of a challenging day. A challenging FATHER'S DAY at that...
A lot of disciplining moments - maybe too many... who knows. And shortly before prayer time we had another one. I always try to calm myself down before disciplining but maybe I hadn't? Was I too harsh? Did I overreact? Am I trying too hard? Parenting man... nothing will make ya second-guess yourself like it does.
I was questioning everything at this moment as my daughter - the one who I KNOW loves me and loves God - was allowing her anger towards her broken, fallible earthly father to be taken out on her perfect, infallible and loving heavenly Father.
Another deep breath as I stroked her hair - she hadn't changed position - still lying in my lap - her one hand gripping my leg. No tears. Just... just what seemed like brokenness.
"Baby - I want you to know right now that God LOVES you so much and He delights in hearing from you. I would never force you to pray because God wants to hear from willing hearts - not begrudging forced hearts. But know that He does love to hear from you."
Pause. Nothing from her. More deep breaths.
"And ya know Meron - when Mommy and I are hurt or angry or confused or scared - the absolute BEST thing we do is talk to God. He calms us. He gives us peace. He really wants to know how we feel. So seriously - there is no problem if you do not want to pray - but I just want you to know you have the opportunity if you want to."
I felt her stir a little as she opened her mouth - and through real tears she said:
"God... thank you for this day. Thank you that I have a good nights sleep and that we all have a great day tomorrow. In Jesus name, Amen."The tears were just there at the beginning - she pulled it together and closed out her prayer pretty solidly.
Me on the other hand? My tears started when her voice cracked with her tears - and they were coming pretty strong. The whole family was here - it was family prayer time - and we waited a good 30 seconds for me - but I needed a closer... so Laura jumped in for me and took my spot in the prayer chain.
I got it together and jumped back in the game after Laura. We wrapped it up and headed to bed. No mention of the previous anger or discipline. Meron seemed to be a different person. She wanted me to lay with her for a minute so I did. We talked about the day and the fact that our broken dishwasher has mommy washing a LOT of dishes. Nothing major. But to me - it was ALL major.
How many times do we do this? Get angry, hurt or confused about something and take it out on God? I am realizing I probably do it more than I even know. Thankful for a God who is willing to walk me through some tough stuff with a little girl to get me to realize it. And ya know - this moment in time will probably be remembered much more by me than it will by her.
As I was crawling out of her bunk Laura came in to say her good nights and I left. She came down to the office afterwards to tell me what Meron's last words were before she left the room:
"Go tell daddy I love him and Happy Father's Day!"Learning lessons from these girls every single day. Thank you Meron...
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Through the grace of God and His insanely faithful nature - these little buggers made me a father. It's not a title I take lightly.
Some people hate this day. Some people love it. I have a little bit of both going on inside me. But today - lets talk about those 4 faces up there...
One of them I think about every single day - two of them I hug on every single day - and that last one I have been praying about every single day - looking faithfully towards the day he'll join the ranks of the huggers.
It's because of those little faces that I have managed to become a much better person.
A job I never, ever thought I wanted has become one of the most prized titles I could ever imagine having... FATHER. DADDY. DADA.
No matter how ya say it - to hear it from their mouths is the best sound ever.
And I know good and well that the ONLY REASON I am able to even begin to father them is because I have been fathered since creation by a heavenly Father whose love for me far outweighs any good or bad thing that an earthly father can lump upon us.
I know this... and I know it well. So I do everything in my power to impress upon them the nature of their heavenly Father. it is ALL I want for them... to know Him.
Today's a fun "Hallmark of a holiday" isn't it? I got these awesome cards from the girls that read:
"dad ilu sm bkz u r bt dad"Which is Mebbie-nese for "Daddy, I love you so much because you are the best daddy!" and,
"dad i lo u so much. love meron"Call it Hallmark all ya want - that right there goes directly up in the work cubicle people.
Girls - you'll probably never know this side of Heaven just how much you have shaped this guy you call Daddy...
And for that - I say "Happy Father's Day" to both of you... thank you for making my job SIMPLE and FULL OF LOVE.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
I know two girls who absolutely ADORE their cousin Will.
Getting to see him on the ball field was a total treat for them. They love him!
Thanks so much for loving them the way you do, Will!
Means the world to them (and us!)...
Friday, June 14, 2013
5 years ago... our hearts hurt. We had just spent time at our son's grave in an insanely crowded cemetery in the heart of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The wound was gaping for us.
We left the cemetery in a state of despair - little did we realize that as we walked through the gates of a run down orphanage that we were walking directly into the welcoming arms of God.
He knew our hearts. He knew our pain. And He knew His plan for it would work. He was right all along. And that's when He placed Meron in to our lives
Today we celebrated our 5th "Meron Day." That's the day this little girl came in to our family and locked eyes with us...
Those eyes of hers looked straight into our souls right from the get go. They seemed to tell us - "It's all okay."
We held her close and tight from the start. She still asks me to hold her like this every now and then... (it's a bit harder now).
For a while - I swear - we literally WORE her right across our hearts like the bandage she was...
She always had a way of literally passing out when she was happy and content.
And look at her now... so grown up. So beautiful.
She was so excited about today - so happy and thrilled to be celebrating this special day.
And she is so FULL OF LOVE. She loves with no boundaries. She has no favorites when it comes to family...
She loves us all equally - and God forbid you cross one of her family members - cuz she is fiercely protective of us all as well!
We had a wonderful evening - dinner out ("buh-sectti and meatballs"... her choice) - ice cream for dessert, a walk at sunset and then home to watch a movie. And I KNOW she had a great evening...
Because Happy and Content led to this!
We love you so much Meron Asher and we will forever celebrate the day that God placed us together as a family. You mean more to us than you'll ever know...
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
3:00 PM - THURSDAY, MAY 30 2013
We kissed the girls (a billion times), hugged Granny, said some prayers and headed to the Atlanta Airport's International Terminal.
6:00 PM - THURSDAY, MAY 30 2013
Our plane takes off and the journey has begun!
11:30 PM - FRIDAY, MAY 31 2013
After a LONG wait through Visas and Customs at the Ethiopian Airport, and meeting our new friend and driver Aschu, who was holding up a sign that said:
"Laura and Chimochy"we finally made it to the guesthouse we would be staying at.
The electricity was out - but they had dinner waiting for us. We ate the pasta by flashlight and then they showed us to our room. We were exhausted.
The electricity came back about 15 minutes later and Laura went to use our restroom and i went downstairs to try the internet out to see if I could let folks know we had made it. About 20 minutes later I went back upstairs and Laura was still in the restroom. Thinking she was feeling sick - I knocked and heard:
"Get me out of here!"I opened the door to find a crying Laura on the floor - locked in the bathroom for the last 20 minutes - with a toilet that won't flush...
4:30 AM - SATURDAY, JUNE 01 2013
we FINALLY fall asleep.
9:00 AM - SATURDAY, JUNE 01 2013
We slept as late as we could - but the AWESOME sound of kids playing out back brought us outta our slumber. We "Africa Showered" - headed downstairs and nibbled some breakfast with one thing on our mind - HUGGING OUR SON!
10:00 AM - SATURDAY, JUNE 01 2013
They brought Zechie around to us and we hung out with him for a good long time.
He finally started getting a little fussy so we headed back outside - to watch him light up when he saw the rest of the kids was just beautiful. And the way the kids loved on him - we'll forever be grateful for that.
They have an awesome play area out there - AND they have a basketball goal mounted on the side of the house so I immediately challenged them all. We played some good old fashioned backyard ball - dirt floor and all. I LOVED it. And I schooled them HARD - no mercy...
1:00 PM - SATURDAY, JUNE 01 2013
We gave Zechie back to his nanny (she's awesome!) and spent the next couple of hours taking pictures and recording vidoes for families who had given us permission letters. What an INCREDIBLE bunch of kids this place has. Such awesome spirits and such beauty all over them...
3:00 PM - SATURDAY, JUNE 01 2013
We hopped in the van - drug our housemate Bob along with us (he has been there for a while with his little girl) - and we headed out to the city. First stop - Laura wanted to visit the guest house where she'll be staying next week when she heads back over with the first Brighton Their World team. This place was really nice - WAY nicer than where we were staying. Super excited for the team!
After that stop we had a little time to kill before we were meeting up with our incredible friend Nebiat for dinner. What do ya do when ya have time to kill? Uh... Kaldi's of course. We even managed to get our awesome driver to come sit with us - he drank his coffee faster than I have ever seen anybody - me? I nursed my mocha cuz it was delicious (side note: there is apparently a caramel shortage in Ethiopia - NONE of the Kaldi's had it - so pack it in people if ya want a caramel macchiato!)
6:30 PM - SATURDAY, JUNE 01 2013
We met our friend Nebiat at Sishu - seriously one of the best burger joints on the planet. I kid you not - I don't even eat red meat really anywhere - but I had heard so much about this spot that i HAD to have one. Glad I did. Hands down one of the best burgers I have ever had. And the fries ain't too shabby either!
10:30 PM - SATURDAY, JUNE 01 2013
We made it back to the guest house and stayed up WAY too late chatting with Bob. Eventually the time zone caught up with us and we crashed HARD!!
9:00 AM - SUNDAY, JUNE 02 2013
It was an early rise (for us) on Sunday so we could hang with Zechie a bit before we headed off to church. We drove almost an hour across town to go to International Evangelical Church in the center of Addis. Our good friend (and BTW board Member) Jerry Shannon recently became lead pastor there and were pumped to hear him preach. He did not disappoint...
1:00 PM - SUNDAY, JUNE 02 2013
After church we were treated to lunch by an Adera Mission Team that was in country. Brighton Their World has recently connected with them and these ladies graciously bought us lunch and allowed us to share our story about Brighton and what we had been doing in Ethiopia. Thanks Julie and team!
3:00 PM - SUNDAY, JUNE 02 2013
When we left lunch we connected back up with Nebiat. I can't even begin to tell you how much this dude means to us. He is family. We love this guy SO MUCH! Anyways - the day before at dinner we had asked Nebiat if he could give us directions to Brighton's grave - and in true Nebiat fashion - he said:
"I'll meet you and go with you. I ALWAYS go with you to Brighton's grave."See what I mean? We just love him.
So we visited our son's grave. It will never not be surreal to stand in that cemetery and see our name on that stone with Brighton's. Whew. I think we did good though as far as holding it together. A guy had followed us to the grave and come to find out he was the one who actually buried Brighton. I shook his hand and thanked him and then we got to chatting with him (via Nebiat) and found out what it would cost to build Brighton a new grave marker. His had basically been destroyed when we had to have his body moved 2 years ago. Pretty cool - we're gonna have it done back up and make it more weather resistant as well...
4:00 PM - SUNDAY, JUNE 02 2013
After leaving the cemetery we headed down to the Post Office area to do some quick shopping. I love this area - it's where ya can pick up some cool gifts and get a chance to barter and talk it up with shop owners - which we did. And we met Hindia (sp?) - she was awesome! And she ASSURED me she gave us Ethiopian prices - not white people prices!
Another thing about this area is a TON of the street kids hang out here. And having been here so many times and having played soccer and hung out with these kids - several of them know us. And they NEVER forget you. A small group walked up and said "Hi Tymm! Hi Laura! How are you?"
I'll tell you - that just about makes me cry every time - these kids - remembering us. amazing. we chatted for a bit - grilled them about going to school and going to church - and then slid them our left over pizza from lunch. Man... we love those kids. it was a blessing to run into them.
5:00 PM - SUNDAY, JUNE 02 2013
We were on our way back to the guest house when - WHOOPS! - we ended up at Kaldi's again. Had to. Still no caramel. Bummer.
Rest of the evening we hung out with Zechie and ate some traditional Ethiopian food made by the guest house. We skyped with some family and then TRIED to get to bed early because tomorrow was our big court appointment!
8:00 AM - MONDAY, JUNE 03 2013
Today was the big day... but hey - we had stuff to do! We were up early - ate a tiny and quick breakfast - hugged on Zechie for a bit and then headed out the door to go to Kebebe Tsehay Orphanage - this is the orphanage that Brighton Their World has been working hard at establishing a working relationship with for 2 years - sending almost ALL of our formula here. The team from Adera was going there and they had invited us along. Of course we were in!
We FINALLY got to meet the director and explain who we were and what BTW has been trying to do. We also got to hug on some kids, hold some babies and tour the place. Big morning for us - we love this place and trust me - it NEEDS the love.
10:30 AM - MONDAY, JUNE 03 2013
We waved goodbye to Kebebe Tsehay and headed to the Mapingp Authority. Our friends Emily and Moody have a daddy dope map of Ethiopia in their house and we wanted one - they said the Mapping Authority was where to get it. okay - this is a story for another post - but lets just say the process to buy a map in Ethiopia is more complex than adoption. Seriously. the word INEFFICIENT jumps to mind.
About 30 minutes later we walked away with a pretty simple and unimpressive map of the city. We're still on the hunt for the cool one of Ethiopia.
12:30 PM - MONDAY, JUNE 03 2013
After a lunch at Island Breeze that felt like a date (we NEVER get to eat lunch alone!) - we had some time to kill so we headed to the University to walk the grounds. We were starting to get a little nervous cuz the court appointment was coming up QUICK!
1:30 PM - MONDAY, JUNE 03 2013
We met up with Ebeneezer at the West Sands office in Addis. He is an AWESOME guy (as all of the Ethiopian staff is) and is a social worker for West Sands in country. We used the rest rooms, asked him some questions we had been looking for answers on (and got surprisingly simple and informative answers from him) and then we packed up and headed to the courthouse.
The court was CROWDED. That made us nervous. Ebeneezer ran over the questions we might be asked and both Laura and I did a lot of praying. We were nervous about this ruling because there had been some roadblocks in our case (as usual). We were also prepped to be there a while. Even though our case was scheduled for 2:00 PM - ya never know how it will go.
2:06 PM - MONDAY, JUNE 03 2013
They called us in. The judge asked us a series of questions - all easily answered. I think I may have even seen a slight smile when we told her we had several kids from Ethiopia and how we love and embrace the culture.
2:09 PM - MONDAY, JUNE 03 2013
We heard those words we had been waiting for.
"Congratulations - you are the parents of Yohanes!"We were pretty freaking pumped...
2:10 PM - MONDAY, JUNE 03 2013
We were back in the van - thanking Ebeneezer as he headed back in for another case he had. IT WAS OVER! THEY RULED IN OUR FAVOR!
Of course we had to stop for a little celebratory coffee on the way home - this time we hit Bilo's and had some incredible pastry as well. We were pretty pumped up!
4:00 PM - MONDAY, JUNE 03 2013
We were back at the guest house and had Zechie back in our arms...
We spent the rest of the night just hanging out with him and his caregivers. We ate some quick dinner, got all apcked up and said our final goodbyes...
8:00 PM - MONDAY, JUNE 03 2013
We piled into the van for the trip back to the airport. We cruised through security and the ticket counter with no problems and less than 72 hours after landing in the country we consider our home away from home - we were boarded and ready to take off...
6:00 PM - TUESDAY, JUNE 04 2013
After close to 24 hours of travel - we pulled back in the driveway and got some seriously needed hugs and kisses from the girls.
So there ya have it. How we spent 72 hours in Ethiopia. Can't wait to head back and do it again - only next time we'll be coming home with our main man!
- We Are Family
- I Don't Wanna Pray...
- Father's Day 2013
- Where There's A Will...
- Meron Day 2013
- Dance Crew
- 72 Hours in Addis
- Me Too, Girl...
- Where Is She?
- Winds of Change
- Dancing Cousin
- New Do
- Camera Surprise!
- Stylish Running Buddy
- Introducing Zechariah Yohannes Hoffman
- Everyday Princess
- Body Pillows
- Alright Stop... Granny Time!
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