Sunday, August 30, 2009

Blog Help

Ok, blogging friends, I'm in need of help in two areas:

1. Why is that "cutestblogontheblock" logo placed where it is and how do I fix that?

2. Is there a way to shrink my header picture? I love my kids and all, but that's ridiculously large.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

You just gotta embrace it

These pictures are all about Makaria embracing her girth. Her appropriate attiare in this first picture summarizes her passions in life: eating and sleeping so that you can eat again.

She's about 6 months along in this picture. Looks like she's expecting twins.

"Eat, drink and be merry," says King Solomon and princess Makaria.

Friday, August 21, 2009

In a funk

I'm in a funk today. Not sure why, just am. You even have those days that you just want to hide in a closet and watch movies, read, take a bath and nap all day. Today is one of those days. But life isn't affording me the ability to do that. I was reminded of Psalm 105 yesterday "Seek the Lord and his strength. Seek His presence continually." I have said that verse over and over the last two days. Apart from the Lord, I simply can't do life. Thank you Lord for your strength, hope and presence.

I'm also trying to remind myself that the Lord never promised life to be easy. So I need to have joy in my day, regardless of my circumstances. It's been a rough couple of months. And honestly, we wake up each morning ready for some sort of emergency. Brad and I both commented today at how it seems that every day there is some huge problem that needs to be solved. Today, Charis threw up and is sick. Yesterday, Brad's bike fell apart while riding in traffic. The list goes on and on. It's actually teetering ont he bizarre side.

Ok, enough rambling for now. 'Seek the Lord and his strength. Seek his presence continually'

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What oxen have to do with joy

“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” (Proverbs 14:4)

The point: Don’t knit-pick other people nor God. Whenever there are worthwhile blessing to be enjoyed, there tends to be messy, inconvenience side-effects. Therefore, we must strive to stop complaining over the fact that we are being offered blessing. This dynamic applies to jobs, marriage, projects, things we own, responsibilities, etc….

We could think of modern adaptations: [for parents] “Where there are no children, the house is quiet and clean, but abundant joy comes from the ___ of a child” [fill in your own blank…laughter, freedom,…..”

Acts 20:35 reinforces this and even holds out the great motive for loving service, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, 'It is more blessed [i.e. more joy] to give than to receive.’”. Therefore, the moment-by-moment question is: Do we believe Jesus when he makes this promise of greater joy for us?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chineglish time

Nobody, I mean nobody can resist the treasure of "Elaborate Bacon: Piece in Heart. Fragrance in mouth."

The description reads: Western New Technicr Offer Everyone High-Quality Nutritive."

I have to tell you that I was beyond excited when I found bacon our new city. And the 'fragrance in mouth' was delish.

Fly Away 2009

Malachi was reading about the Wright Brothers last week, so we took the opportunity to have the "Fly Away 2009" paper airplane competition. The winds were looking a bit strong, but the competition was geared up and ready to go. But first, let's introduce the competitors.

First, there was Malachi. Steady and fierce, he was primed and ready for take off. He's flying his 2009 model, made of typing paper with green embellishments. The "Super Star" was expected to make a good, solid showing.

Next up: Charis. She's sly and unassuming as she sweeps away the other competitors with her flying prowess and some smooth slights of hand that some might perceive as 'cheating.' Her plane the "apple and banana and fly" is a high flyer also made of typing paper and pretty much every color available in the marker box.

Last, but certainly not least, Selah. She's the veteran competitor this year, with 7 and a half years of experience under her belt. She's quick and confident. This year, she's flying "The Kite," also made of a white typing paper covered in hearts and stars.

As you can see, the competition got heated before we even began. The stakes were high, with an ice cream promised to the winner.

We interviewed each person and got a brief bio on both the pilots and the planes they were navigating.

They all lined up. We did have a brief wind delay, but before long, the launch was underway. Each pilot had 3 flights. We measured who flew the furthest on each leg and the pilot with the most wins, won the entire competition. 2 out of the 3 legs were won by Selah. Charis took one round, but it was found out by the replay camera that she had run with her plane for several yards. So Malachi won one leg and Selah won 2. The winner of Fly Away 2009 belongs to the veteran, Selah V.

It was a fierce competition folks, but fun was indeed had by all.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

2000 - 2002

Testimony time (Brad)....

For most people who read our blog, this post won't relate to you. After college, we had our "first church" experience, where we worked at an unhealthy church--lots of infighting, plenty of people who didn't believe the Bible, etc... Of course, some people were good, but in the end, it drained us emotionally.

After we left, from 2000-2002, I became very bitter. I took it on as my role to "correct" the Christians I knew. My arrogance and anger alienated a lot of people. While the content of much of what I said was right, my tone was foul.

In 2003, The Lord changed my heart and I repented. My grief over the way I had mistreated people was deep. I realized last week how much my sorrow over the sin of that period still affects me. I assume I offend "everyone". I frequently live out of errant self-perceptions. Consequently, that lack of freedom emerging from genuine sadness over sin perpetuates certain bad habits.

For those who know me (Brad) during that time, whom I did not treat with respect and love, please forgive me. I was reminded this morning of these things as I reflected on a dear friend whom I hurt (but who graciously forgave me years ago).

With this testimony, I affirm with Paul, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life." (1 Timothy 1:15-16)

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Kesed's turn for stitches.

We figured that we didn't have enough going on, so we decided that a trip to the hospital was in order. Those of you who have known us for awhile now, know that we are systematically getting stitches in descending age order (with a brief pause for Malachi to receive them twice. But it was in a row, so the sequence wasn't broken. Thanks buddy.) So it was Kesed's turn.

It was the first day at the new kindergarten for Charis and Malachi. They had mopped the floors all clean, but somehow forgot to make sure the stairs were dry before parents came to drop off their kids for the morning. Brad was walking down the stairs with Kesed in his arms when he slipped. He's got a nasty bruise on his arm, but no break. But Kesed's head was bloody. That top picture is his shirt saturated with blood. So Carrie, the principal and a teacher hopped into a car and rushed him to the hospital.

In Chinese hospitals, you just walk right in and find a doctor and tell them what you need. So we saw someone immediately. But before you can be seen, you must pay. The school paid for the whole thing because they felt so bad. Kesed screamed and kicked as I (Carrie), a nurse and a teacher held him in place to get his stitch.

After juice and dried sweat and sour seaweed from the principal, a gauze yamaka, a run to another hospital because he's allergic to some part of the tetanus shot, another tetanus shot and a power nap later, we were on our way home. And in keeping with our stitches tradition, he got ice cream at home. By the way, yes I agree that it should be wrong that one family has established a "stitches tradition." But, all is well now and he back to running and playing.

Brad and Makaria's birthday

The day we made the adoption final was also Makaria's estimated 1st birthday! But we didn't want to celebrate it without the rest of the family, so we waited until we got back home to celebrate. And now Brad and Makaria share birthday months. There is a Pizza Hut really near our home. This is a change from the ketchup, shrimp and corn pizza we are used to at our "pizza" places in our old city.

Makaria's all about the pizza. She finished off a piece and a half. She's by far the most robust (read: fat) of all of our children. She's a wonderful eater. And she's started walking! We had our birthday tradition of going around the table and telling things we love about that birthday person. The kids did a wonderful job of praising their wonderful father. They love that he spends time with them even when he's busy. That he loves to wrestle and tickle. They went on and on, it was great.

We skipped the cake thing and did ice cream sundaes instead. I found coffee ice cream, so that made Brad happy. We did stick the candle in the ice cream and it serenaded us in its usual high pitched fashion.

Makaria enjoyed the ice cream, but wasn't crazy about it. I think cold food is a new thing for her.
I think this is my favorite kid photo of all time. It just sums it up.

Happy birthday to Brad and Makaria, we love you!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Day 5-the supposed last day and Mercy Ethiopia

Day 5 was supposed to be our last day in Ethiopia. It was for Brad, but not for Makaria and I. We had to wait another 6 days for some visa stuff to be cleared up. Ironically, it wasn't the Ethiopian or Chinese embassy giving us a problem, but the ever so efficient US government that couldn't figure out what to do. Long story short, 2 laws contradicted each other. So I'll blog about day 5 a little, but more on the organization Mercy Ethiopia.

We did the traditional coffee ceremony with some of the other families before they left. Even though we only spent 5 days together, you feel really knitted together with the group. So it was hard to see everyone go. It was also hard because most of us don't know if or when we will make it back to Ethiopia. There are mixed emotions when leaving for sure.

These are the cows that I talked about in the last adoption post. As weird as it was to battle in traffic with them, it was even weirder to me that they were in full stride. These cows were running! The 3 or 4 herders were all around them trying to get them in some type of formation. It was awesome.

It's rainy season in Ethiopia, so most days we saw some rain. It stated to rain right as we got to Mercy House. This is the place that is a home for street children. They get kids off the street, work with them and hopefully send them back to their families in a more healthy state physically, emotionally and spiritually. Most kids will stay at Mercy House about 1 year. These kids have learned some horrible 'survival' tactics on the street.

Here's a group shot of all the kids. Most of them range in age between 7-12. We walked in and they were working on some type of project. They went around the room and introduced themselves. The counselors there work with the kids to get them caught up in school too. After their 1 year is up, Mercy House talks with the schools and gets reports on how each child is doing. Most of these kids would not even be in school at all because they can make more money by living and begging in the streets. I'm looking at their progrees reports with the director.

These sweet boys are playing checkers. The one on the right was so excited to show us his grades that he ran into his bedroom and looked under his mattress for his report cards. He has straight A's and wants to be a teacher.

This organization is amazing. I love that their vision is to grow healthy families that function and succeed in Ethiopia. The kids that don't have a family, stay at the House. They are looking into adoption for some of them, but it's a relitively new organization, so they are still working with the government on the logistics involved in adoption. As we talked about how to help them, they mentioned several things. It's about $460/year to sponser a child for food, housing, school, clothes....everything. It's about $250/year to sponser a child's education. For most of us, that is an amount that we can handle. They are also looking at doing some auctions and fundraisers to raise money for these kids. It's a very modest house but with a full-hearted vision for these street kids. And if you want to buy my cookbook "Made in China", all the proceeds go to Mercy Ethiopia which sponsers this home. So, pray about it and let us know if you have more questions. It's nice to know exactly where your money is going. We the home, met the people and laughed with the kids.

We got the camera out and I urged them on in their silliness. They are wonderful kids.

That's it. I'm not going to post about the rest of the trip because honestly, there wasn't much to it. It was mostly inviting myself to go along with the next group of parents coming and waiting for our visas. It was hard to see Brad leave without us. But we managed. There's so much more I want to fill in, but I'll leave our journey here. And we'll pick up with Makaria as our lives continue here. Thanks to everyone for all you've done for our family. Adoption is a crazy, emotional, wonderful, gut-wreching, beautifully hard process. So thank you all for your encouragement and support this entire time.
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