Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Story of Crew Dawit Coder...

Monday is a VERY important day for my sister's family....the US Embassy will be interviewing the man who found their little boy and took him to the orphanage.  They will question his story and make sure that everything he is saying is legit.  After his interview, they will decide if they believe that Crew is, indeed, a true abandoned orphan, and their decision will determine if he will come home to the Coder family.

I wanted to take a minute and share the story of Crew - it's an amazing God-thing!  I won't give all the details of the story, cause those are theirs to share, but I'll tell you a little bit about my part in it cause it's pretty incredible.   I was looking at some pictures that my friend, Kelly Putty, had posted from a recent trip to Ethiopia she'd been on.  I was just glancing at all the amazing pictures when I scrolled down to one of her daughter holding a little boy - and my heart almost leapt out of my chest.  I KNEW that was supposed to be my sister's son.  I just KNEW it.  I emailed the agency director immediately and just casually asked her how many boys she was able to put on the referral list since she had just returned from Ethiopia herself.  I asked her if she thought that any of them would be my sister's son since they had started the process and were waiting for a referral.   She proceeded to tell me that she had exactly the amount of boys for the people she had on the waiting list, EXCEPT she might have one boy left and my sister was next.  Ok, I pulled the picture of the little boy off Kelly's blog and I emailed it to Sue.  I said, "Is this the boy, because I believe this little boy is supposed to be my sister's son".

It was, and now, he is.  Isn't God cool?!  I just love stuff like that.  I still have the email to Sue telling her how my heart jumped when I saw him and I just knew he was meant to be with my sister.  It's also really wild because he was actually referred to another family first as an infant, but then through a serious of events in Ethiopia, wasn't able to go with that family and they got another referral and brought their little boy home a year ago.  When I was asking Sue if that was him, she wasn't sure he was going to be available because she was waiting to find out if that other family could take him at this point, but since they had just adopted the other referral, they couldn't.  It's a long, complicated story, but it's an amazing story of God's hand because that other family lives 10 minutes from me and has been able to meet my sister through FB and pray for them as they bring Crew home.  So now they know that he is going to a loving, Christian home and have such a wonderful peace about it.  And their little boy is the sweetest thing you've ever seen.  Both these precious boys are in exactly the family that God meant them to be in.  Miraculous!!

So, Monday is a huge day and I'd like to ask you to spend some time Sunday night praying for little Crew and my sister's family.  Oh, how we'd love to hear a "HE IS YOURS" from the US Embassy!  Those words will be sweet music to our ears!   I can't wait til Crew gets to the Coder home and is surrounded by his four awesome siblings and his amazing Mommy and Daddy - and of course, all his fabulous cousins and Aunts and Uncles.  I just want to squeeze him so hard.  LOL

Check my FB page on Monday - I'll let you know as soon as I know.  I'm praying and believing for GOOD NEWS!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Crazy Days of Summer (THE CONCLUSION!)...

We got to Oklahoma super late so we just did our best to tiptoe into my mom's house - I think we did a pretty good job, or at least they were too nice to let us know we were loud and rude.  ha!!   We're always so thankful to get to stay at my mom's house as we have the whole upstairs to ourselves and there's a bed for everyone.   Well, an air mattress for Cooper, but it's a nice one!  (:

It was wonderful to have no agenda for a couple days -- just sit around and relax and do nothing - ah, loved it!!   Mom has been fighting the cancer fight so she still tires easily, yet she was up serving the kids breakfast and making sure they were taken care of.  She let me sleep.  Now, how sweet is that!!  

Gatlin and I ended up going school supply shopping at the Coweta Walmart.   Oh yes, it was a treat!  Seriously, we probably spent almost two hours there.  Gatlin could NOT make up her mind even about simple school supplies.  How hard can it be to pick a folder - just grab one already!  Oh my!!  I seriously shopped for three other children while she got her supplies, and I finished before her -- way before her.  Goodness.  We went home and got everything out of the packages and labeled everything.  But then there's this one little funny part, AFTER I did all that, I saw a post from a friend about being glad she pre-ordered the supply kit from her school, and something about that sounded familiar.  And yep, AFTER all that shopping and labeling, I had already pre-ordered the kits for Kaleb and Kali but had forgotten - hysterical!.  So, we have their supplies for next year.  Woo hoo.

My sister's family came over for dinner and we just did a whole bunch of nothing - well, other than that labeling school supplies stuff.  The kids love being with their cousins and I'm quite positive that Bennet is hoping that the whole, "You can't marry cousins" thing is a lie.  LOL   She has quite the crush on her 16-year-old cousin, Kason.  Sweet.

The next morning we had breakfast with my dad and Viva at The Cracker Barrel.  Yum.  Had a really nice visit with them and enjoyed eating all the biscuits we could fit in our bellies.  I do love those biscuits.

It was off to my sister's house after that to hang out and let the kids swim.  Cooper picked up a guitar as soon as we walked in the house.  He hadn't been able to take one on the trip so was having serious withdraws!!  It was so nice to hear him playing again.  I forced my sister to make cookies (these are the ones that I used to be famous for, but can't seem to make right anymore).   My 90-year-old grandma came over for dinner and we visited while helping Gatlin do a book report project for school.

On Sunday, Brian, Cooper, Gatlin and I got up super early to go to The Church at Battle Creek where we were leading worship.  This is my mom and Jim's church and it's an awesome place.  Alex Himaya is the pastor there and he and his wife, Meredith, just adopted a little girl named, Lemley, from Ethiopia.  Alex preached a sermon years ago that was a catalyst to us making the decision to adopt.  God used him in a big way in our lives.  And, then, in a funny little twist, God used me in their lives as well, as I was the one who sent them a picture of Lemley and told them that I thought she was supposed to be their daughter.  My mom and I prayed over that little picture so hard and were so very happy when the Himaya's chose to adopt her.  Now they have her home and, wow, what an incredible little girl.  SO, it was wonderful to be at their church with them and we had a great time leading worship for their services.

We ate lunch and just chilled out the rest of the day....said our goodbyes that night and headed out the next morning for home.  I LOVE my family and it's always hard to say goodbye.  I'm so thankful that we'll be going back SOON to see my new nephew, Crew, when he gets here.   (And I'm pretty sure my next blog post will be about him and his amazing story).  We drove the 9 1/2 hour drive home and were so very grateful to be back in our own comfy beds again.  

And THAT was our summer in a nutshell.  ha ha ha ha ha   Ok, I know, it was a BIG nut.  (:    Honestly, the summer couldn't have been any busier, which made it fly by!   I hate to admit this, but I still don't quite have everything put away from our trip.  I've unpacked it, but some of it is still on the floor waiting for me to actually put it somewhere.  That's pitiful.   But the kids started school two days after we got home and it's just right back to crazy around here.  Blah blah know how it is.

On August 19, we celebrated the kids being here for six months.  SO much has changed for our family.  There are easy days and there are hard days, just like in any other family.  Thank you for continuing to pray for us as we still adjust to all the things that need to be adjusted to when you adopt three kids and go from being a family of four to a family of seven.  It's a wild ride, to be sure.  But, it is a ride worth taking.


The Crazy Days of Summer (part 5)...

Some of you may know that we have been friends with the Cyrus family for many years.  Tish (Miley's mom) and I were best friends when they lived here in Tennessee and I actually baptized her prior to their family moving out to Los Angeles (it was a sweet, private "ceremony" and our pastor baptized the rest of the family).  I used to take Miley on auditions with me back when she was about 10 years old...she would always book them and I wouldn't (little brat!  ha!!).   Back then, Cooper had a recurring role on a show called, "Yes, Dear", and on one of our trips to go out to CA for that, I asked Tish if I could take Miley with us and introduce her to our agency.  She said yes, and when I took Miley into CESD, our agent, Margot, signed her up on the spot.  About six months later, Miley landed the role in Hannah Montana....and the rest is history.

I tell you that story just because it sets up the next part of this post.  It would take way too long to tell the whole story, and I'm not even sure I would, but starting about four years ago, someone began trying very hard to drive a wedge between me and Tish.  It was a very difficult season for me, but I just kept reminding myself (and wonderful friends kept reminding me) that "truth and time walk hand in hand".  Tish and I have always remained friends, but it was just a bit different - a bit unsure - both of us being fed false information, but neither of us knowing it.  Anyway, the timing was pretty wild because one day, after two years, the truth was known by all involved and the veil was lifted.  Tish called and we discussed the series of events.  The air was cleared.  Things resolved.

A short while after that, Tish called to ask me to pray about a decision that Billy Ray was making regarding a possible job.  They weren't sure whether he should accept the role or not so she was wanting me to pray about it with her.  We talked for about 30 minutes and then at the very end of that conversation, I told her that we were considering adopting a sibling set of three and I asked her to pray about that for/with me.  The words she spoke next still blow me away to this day.  She told me that they wanted to help us pay for the adoption.  I assured her that that wasn't the reason I told her about it, but she knew that.  She told me to keep her posted on what we decided and if we decided to do it, she was there to help us.

AND, to make this very long story a little bit shorter, we did and she did.  (:   They ended up paying for a large chunk of our adoption expenses.  Without their financial blessing, I just don't know how we could have done it.  We raised the rest of the money and had help from so many amazing friends, but the amount that Tish gave us was above and beyond anything we could have ever imagined, and we will forever be grateful.  I knew I wanted to do something special as a thank you and thought that it would be great if I could give one of the kids a middle name from their family to honor them.  I began going through African girl's names that meant "joy" because that was what I saw when I saw Bennet's face in the first picture I ever saw of her.  And guess what, there it was, right there on the African-girl's-names that-mean-joy list - Leticia.  THAT is Tish's name!  It means "joy".  It's African.  What??  Come on!!  That is SO GOD.   And from that moment, Bennet became Bennet Leticia.

So, on Tuesday, we spent time with Bennet's namesake and the rest of them there Cyrus people.  We hung out at their home just talking and taking pictures.  We all had a wonderful time, but Tish and Bennet have a special connection.  Tish lit up talking to Bennet and you could just see a love for her that was sweet and special.  Tish said to me, "I want to be a big part of her life".  I am praying that God will arrange moments for them to spend some time together and get to know each other a little bit.  Oh, one little funny thing, Tish says Leticia, LeTISHa....but Bennet says it in this most beautiful African accent - it's Le-tea-c-ah.  It's so sweet.  So, Tish in her country accent said, "Yes!  That's how it's supposed to be said, ya'll".  Too cute!

After our time with them, we took Cooper and Gatlin over to take their head shots with Deihdra and the rest of us grabbed lunch.  We got to say a quick hello to my sweet friend, Jonna, and it was great to see her.  After our lunch, we picked Coop and Gat up and headed to the kid's agency to say hi to everyone there.  It was great to see everyone at CESD and to introduce them to the new kids.  The twins were "on" and it was hysterical.  Bennet was a little shy, which was also hysterical.  

We were late getting home so just spent the night packing to leave the next morning.  Cooper ended up having an audition the next day so we didn't pull out of Los Angeles until about 3:00.   We headed for Albuquerque.  Stayed the night there and then it was on to Oklahoma to be with my family for a few days!  

To be continued (but it'll be the last one, I promise!)...

The Crazy Days of Summer (part 4)...

First, I feel the need to promise you that I'm almost done with the summer post!  Geez...I need to learn how to make a long story short!!   But, this blog will become the new kids "life book" of sorts, so I definitely don't want to leave anything out.  I found out about this place that takes your blog posts and makes them into a book -- how cool is that?!  Gonna do that, for sure.  Ok, back to the post...

We ended up sleeping in on Sunday and skipping church since Cooper had Strep.  All of us were tired from the beach and the dinner party the night before, so we just enjoyed sleeping in and taking it easy before heading to Orange County on Sunday afternoon.  Thankfully, when Cooper woke up, he was starting to feel much better.

We headed to Santa Ana, which is where I grew up.  I had told the new kiddos that I'd lived there when I was little and they really wanted to see my house.  So, just like we had done with Cooper and Gatlin a few years ago, we went to my old house, took pictures out front, and then walked the path to my old elementary school.  I always cry on this nostalgic outing.  It gets me every time.  I guess because it was a time of such innocence and the memories come flooding back.  My parents were together - that's a biggy that turns on the faucet.  Anyway, we walked across the bridge and down the street to the school and I told them all about Brad Fartenessy, the boy who liked to chase me home from school and scare me.  His last name was actually, Fautenessy, but we always called him Fartenessy.  They laughed.

After that little side trip, we headed over to my Aunt Sharon's house for dinner with some of my family.  I love my Aunt Sharon so much.  She and my Uncle Steve live in a sweet, simple home in Placentia, and there is just something about being with them that is so safe and comforting for me.  Interestingly, Gatlin said the same thing this trip.  I don't mean this to sound weird (if you're reading this Aunt Sharon, this is meant as a compliment), but they don't have as much "stuff" as we do and I think that the simplification is comforting.  Does that make sense?  It's nice to go there and sit outside and sip tea and talk.  Brian, Cooper, Bennet, Kaleb and Kali played soccer in the backyard and Gatlin played in the kid's room the whole time.  No TV was on.  No Wii or XBox were set up.  Maybe they have all those things and they just don't get them out when we're there -- and for that, I'm thankful.  (If you do, keep hiding them when we're there, Aunt Sharon!  ha!!).  Aunt Sharon always makes us feel so welcome and loved.  We enjoyed dinner with the family and then had to scoot out early to see my friend, Sheri.

Sheri Rose Shepherd is one of my very favorite people.  Some of you may know her from her books or speaking engagements.  She's one of the most wonderful people I know and I was so thankful that we got to spend a little time with her and her family that night.  We hung out in their lovely home and she served us beautiful, healthy desserts.  The kids loved her little puppy and we had a really nice visit before we headed out to the hotel for the night.  Across the street from Disneyland!

A huge blessing given to us this trip was tickets to Disneyland.  A friend of ours (who we met through my Aunt Sharon), Matt Davis, hooked us up with them through a friend of his who works there.  We would not have been able to go had we had to pay for tickets - it's just more than we can spend right now on something that's not a necessity.  But, what a treat it was to get to take the kids there because of the kindness of others!  It was crazy hot and the lines were long, but we had a wonderful time and were so grateful we got to be there.  I can't remember everyone's favorite rides, but I do know that the California Screaming roller coaster was definitely a "go out with a bang" ending!   They all LOVED that!  It was a great day and we walked out of the park as the fireworks were lighting up the sky over our heads.

Growing up, I could see the Disneyland fireworks from my bathroom window.  I loved watching them each and every time I was allowed to stay up that late.  To this day, watching fireworks is one of my very favorite things!

On Tuesday, we had planned to spend a little time with the Cyrus family.  I'll start a new post with this part of the story, cause it's a bit of a story in itself.

To be continued...