Once upon a time....

Flash back to 1999, we were a family of four. Happy in our new roomy house and comfortable in our ways. A few years later, the Lord blessed us with an additional little package, little boy #3. Now we were a family of five and sure that would be the end. As time moved on, so did we. The Lord used the time that passed to open our eyes to His will. Several years ago, Bob and I individually heard the call to adoption. It has been a long "pregnancy", but during this incubation time, the Lord has brought us to where He wants us to be. Spring 2010, we traveled to Ethiopia where two little angels were waiting for the Lord's timing - to become our children. Now we are home and can't imagine life any differently! What a blessing to be in His will.

Galatians 4:5 says "God sent Christ to buy freedom for us, who were slaves to the law, so that He could adopt us as his very own children." We are just following his model. A Perfect picture of salvation.

Monday, September 27, 2010

First Impressions

Beti asked tonight - "When did you first see my picture?"  I explained (in basic terms) how we looked at many pictures of many children on the computer and that we asked God and that He told us that Beti and Nardos should be in our family.  She asked, "What did you think?"  I told her we thought they were beautiful!  We didn't explore that much more, except to ask her what she thought when she first saw our picture.... she said "You looked tiny, Mom".  I guess in comparison to Bob's 6 foot, 1 inch height, I looked rather small.  That's.....Awesome!  :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Choose Your Happy!

In order to explain - through the language barrier - that your attitude is a choice, we say, "Choose your happy".  It is a rather crude way to explain it, but it seems to work.  Nardos is the greatest offender of choosing "grumpy".  Maybe it is a girl thing, or a baby-of-the-family thing, but she by far has the most difficulty with letting "grumpy" get ahold of her and man can she show it.  So, we routinely demonstrate "choosing happy" even when it is difficult to do so.  Sometimes she says, "Mommy, I don't know if I choose happy tomorrow" (Usually accompanied by a very sad looking face).  To which I respond, "I don't know either, Nardos, only you know what you will choose.  I can't make you choose happy.  I can give you the chance, but only you can make the choice."  (Just so you know, she has "chosen happy" quite a bit lately!)

That's free will isn't it?  Every day, all the time, God says, "I don't know if you will choose Me or not."  Just like I hope that my kids "choose happy", God wants me to choose Him.  

Every day I am faced with a choice, "Will I choose Jesus today?"  Every time I choose to whine (yes, I do that!) or complain, I am NOT choosing Jesus.  Hebrews 12:2 says "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."  If I do that... fix my eyes on Jesus...I am sure I will be happy!  

So many times I learn the biggest lessons as I am trying to teach my children.  This is just another example of that very thing.  So, enjoy the pictures of the kids choosing their happy.  And in the meantime, I will work on choosing Jesus!

Oh Boy, working hard at it!

Nice smile Beti!

Love the teddy bear!

The crossed eyes are a nice touch!

That's a pretzel in his mouth!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Birthday Bliss

It has been a little crazy here in our house today.  We celebrated three birthdays!  Marshall turned 12, and on Monday Beti will be 8 and Nardos will be 5.  Enjoy the pictures!

Monday, September 13, 2010

A New Do

Nardos has been pretty particular about a lot of things...one of which is her hair.  It was pretty short when we met, so initially we couldn't do much with it.  Headbands were our friends back then.  We slowly transitioned to clips and most recently "pony tails" (more like pom poms).  It has been a difficult journey - during which I subjected myself to opportunities for great humiliation.  Follow my thinking:  If I allow her to play in my hair, maybe she will trust me to play in hers.  Needless to say, I don't sit in front of a mirror during my "make over".  The following photos tell the story.

She's SO patient with me!

The "wiggles" don't help!

Finally!  Two "pony tails"!

Aren't we cute?

Alex's reaction...Thanks for the support Alex!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Trippin to St. Louie!

Our adoption agency has directors that live in Ethiopia (they are Ethiopian) and every fall they try to make it possible for the director and his wife to visit the United States ~ allowing an opportunity for families to gather and reconnect with them.  This year, Tsegay (the director), his wife (Almaz) and two of their sons were in St. Louis, MO for a gathering at an Ethiopian Restaurant on September 7th.  Of course that was a Tuesday evening and of course we had school that day and the following.  So, I described the situation to Beti.  She is old enough to understand the school thing and she DEARLY loves school, so if we were to try to make the trip, I would have to have her buy-in.  It took her all of a few minutes to decide that we should go.  It didn't work out for all of us to go, but I (Audra), Beti, Nardos, and Levi made the trip.

We left at noon and arrived just before the appointed time for the gathering, 4pm.  The gathering lasted for 3 hours and we left the St. Louis area just after 7pm.  That put us back REALLY late.  The kids went to sleep in the van around 10pm.  My head hit the pillow some time after midnight.  Either way, the girls were glad we made the trip.  Levi actually tried the Ethiopian cuisine.  It's a good thing the first round of food was not too spicy.  He filled his belly with Zil Zil (which is like stir fry beef, onion, and green bell pepper).  The second round, however, was pretty spicy.  At that point, he was done!  The kids' favorite part was the cake that was provided to celebrate the Ethiopian New Year.

Audra, Beti, Nardos, Levi, Tsegay, Almaz, and their son Simon.

Almaz gives Beti a Hug.  So sweet!

Nardos - all grins!

Yummy cake!

Zil Zil and Injera (the bread).

Food is served on a large tray with Injera under it all - Nardos ate most of the Injera that was soaked with the juice from the meat.

Levi in his traditional Ethiopian shirt.

Beti loves POP!

Monday, September 6, 2010


Here in the heart of America, In Independence, Missouri, we celebrate the starting point of the "Santa Fe Trail, the California Trail, and the Oregon Trail that were instrumental in the westward expansion of our young country.  At this celebration, which is carnival-like in nature, there are "stages" where bands perform.  This year, the Praise Band from our church, Noland Road Baptist Church, auditioned for and was granted a time to "perform".  We viewed it as an opportunity to lead worship!  As part of the instrumental portion of the band, Bob played his electric guitar.  Audra was a part of the vocal group.  It was a wonderful time of Praise and Worship.  Enjoy the pictures.

The Band

Bob - rockin'.....Matt sitting on the floor fixing a broken string.

Bob - thinking hard....tuning with the pick in his mouth....not his nose!  :)

Saturday, September 4, 2010


In the world of adoption there is a lot of talk about "Identity".  When a person is adopted there is the potential for confusion about who they are and where the came from.  When you add in the trans-country piece, the puzzle can get difficult to put together.  When I think of Identity, I think of who I am and what I stand for.  This past week, our oldest son had a homework assignment from his English class in which he had to identify the "values" of a particular character in a story.  That sparked a discussion about our values.  What are "values"?  ...things of importance...what you hold to be valuable.  This can be material, although not necessarily.  In fact, most of my values are NOT material.  My family, my faith, integrity, compassion...these are some of my values.

When I headed off to college, I was the only student from my high school (in a graduating class of 385 students) to attend the university that I had chosen.  I was 4 hours from home with NO ONE who truly knew me!  My freshman year, I struggled with identity.  Who was I?  No one knew my past, my childhood, my favorite things.  They barely knew my name.  I searched, through choices, to find my identity.  And through that searching, I found out more about myself.  I discovered what I held to be valuable.

It is my prayer that all of our children, both those born of my womb and those born of my heart, will through their own struggles to find their identity, find themselves with a stronger sense of who they truly are...children of God.  I pray that they will find Him to be faithful and true..that the things He holds valuable will be of value to them too.

This week, we will be visiting with some of the staff from our adoption agency.  They were instrumental in caring for our girls until the Lord could put us on the same side of the planet.  In her own way, our older daughter has begun to find her identity.  As little girls often do, she has been planning what she would wear to this event.  Yesterday, she informed me that she had decided what to wear: her American Flag Shirt (thanks Old Navy!) and the scarf that we had purchased in her country when we first met.  Her excitement and acceptance for her "two countries" (her words) is evidence that she sees the dichotomy.  Yet, in her own way, she is saying "I don't have to pick one or the other, I can love them both."  I pray that as she moves through this life, she sees one prominent theme:  She has a heavenly Father that loves her and knows her completely and in Him she can find her Identity.