Sunday, November 2, 2014

Once an Orphan...

Today is Orphan Sunday.  Many people don't even know that such a day exists, but it does, and it's today.  A day when many churches across the nation focus in on the orphan crisis and do what they can to draw attention to it and encourage people to participate in some way, to bring about its end.  To find fathers for the fatherless.  To bring hope to the hopeless.  To help.  To do.  Something.

Four years ago, I heard Pastor Alex Himaya preach a sermon about adoption.  It was life-changing.  God used his words to push our family out of our comfort zone and into the unpredictable, challenging, rewarding world of adoption.  Through a series of events (that you can go back and read about on this blog), we adopted a sibling set of three in February, 2011.  Everything changed, and yet, it doesn't seem like anything changed.  It's strange.  It is what was supposed to be and it's hard to imagine life any other way at all.

When we brought Bennet, Kaleb and Kali home, they were 11 and 6 (twins).  Bennet spoke a tiny bit of English and the twins could count to 10 and do their ABCs, kind of.  We had to enforce a "no Amharic" (their original language) rule so that they would stop talking to each other (about us) and talk TO us instead.  They learned English very quickly and they've, pretty much, never stopped talking since they got here.  ha!  To say they have adjusted well is an understatement...these three are INCREDIBLY adjusted.  They are loving, kind, crazy, selfish, silly, respectful, sassy, smart, giving, disobedient, repentant, sweet...all of that stuff that makes somebody, "normal".  They're great people.

Bennet is 14 now and is in the 8th grade.  For those of you who know us and know Bennet, you know that she did 8th grade last year in Franklin.  One of the big decisions we made in conjunction with the big decision to move to California, was to have Bennet repeat 8th grade.  This decision was one that she was hesitant with, but in her gut, she knew it was a good move.  And, it's been a GREAT decision.  She is LOVING her new school, Village Christian Academy, and is making all A's & B's, with very little help from us.  We're impressed.  She is a hard worker who is rising to the challenge of the more difficult assignments.  Her biggest challenge is English/Grammar, which makes total sense since she's only been speaking English for a little over three years.  Her favorite thing is soccer and she has big plans to go to Europe and play there as soon as she can.  Dreaming big.  I love that.  Bennet is making good friends at school and even went to her first slumber party last night, which she loved.

Bennet's adoption story is filled with many painful parts...things that would give her plenty of reasons to be bitter or sad...but, she is neither.  She is grateful to have had parents in Africa who loved her, dearly...her memories of them (especially her Daddy) are good and strong.  She is one hundred percent certain that she will see them again in heaven, and, because of that, she is able to be happy! Really, truly happy.  Content.  

When I saw the very first video of Kaleb that the orphanage sent us, I said to Brian, "Uh oh, he has a bit of a temper".  Every time he'd lose his temper in the video, they'd do an edit.  There were a lot of edits.  ha!!   We dealt with his temper the first few weeks he was home with us.  We rarely see it now, but when we do, he is quick to turn it around and make things right.  Kaleb is FUNNY and his laugh is one of my favorite things in the world.  I met with his teacher this week at school and she told me that he's one of her very best of the class and that she really enjoys talking to him...called him "mature" and "highly intelligent".  Made this momma pretty darn happy.  He is testing above grade level and excelling in school, which is a huge blessing because he didn't like school at all last year...the move to this new school came at a perfect time for him.  Yay!  But, the number one thing for Kaleb is soccer.  He loves it.   He wants to play professional soccer one day, and I believe he can.  And will.

Kali is just the sweetest thing on the's a rare thing to have an issue of any kind with her.  I talked to her teacher last week and the teacher welled up with tears talking about Kali....couldn't say enough about how special she is...precious.  Kali loves school and is testing at grade level.  She gives everything 100%, and, although she isn't at the top of the class as far as grades go, her great attitude is off the charts, and I care a whole lot more about that.  She has, easily, made friends here, but she sure does miss the ones she left behind in Tennessee.  That's been harder for her than anyone else.  Kali loves "One Direction" and, loudly, sings all their songs, although we are still working on her singing on pitch.  ha!!   She loves to read and pink is still her favorite color.  To recap, Kali is pure joy.

Cooper and Gatlin say they don't really remember a time when we didn't have Bennet, Kaleb and Kali.  I mean, they do remember, but it doesn't feel like it was "us" before them.  That makes my heart so happy.  Even though they argue and get on each others' nerves, they would still choose them, if we were choosing again.  That's a big deal.

So, here we are on Orphan Sunday.  Here's what I'd say to you -- if you've ever wanted to adopt, go for it.  It's not an easy road, in fact, the process is hard, and it takes a long time these days.  But, it's worth it.  If you don't see yourself, actually, bringing an orphan into your family, then please consider donating to someone else who is in the process.  It is such an expensive process and families really need financial support.  Our adoption cost close to $60,000 and it was only because of our dear friends and family members helping us out that we were able to raise those funds.  One of the organizations that our family loves and donates to is Ordinary Hero.  Kelly Putty, the founder, met our kids before we did.  She took pictures of them and sent them to us and it meant the world to us.  We believe in the work that Ordinary Hero does and if you're looking for a place to donate, we highly recommend OH.  Here's the website link to check out.

And, lastly, if you aren't called to adopt, or you can't give financially, will you please pray.  Pray for the precious orphans out there.  Way too many.  Pray for the families in the adoption process.  And, pray for those who have found forever families but are struggling to adjust.  Our kids had an "easy" time adjusting, but that is not always the case and for some it is very difficult.  I believe that it was prayers for Bennet, Kaleb and Kali, by people who didn't even know them by name, that made all the difference in their world, both in Africa as they were surviving the death of their parents, and here in the US, as they were adjusting to their new ones.  Prayer matters.

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans.  Isaiah 1:17

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Poem 2013

The new kids never got a poem
And so. this one, I write
My brain is old and kinda tired
But, I’ll try with all my might
To give a yearly update
That’s not too long or boring
Want to fill you in on life
But don’t want to leave you snoring

2013, quite a year
For little Kali Green
She’s almost always smiling
Cutest thing you’ve ever seen
She’s got more friends than we can count
A social butterfly indeed
She absolutely loves her life
And brings joy to all she sees

Kaleb is a cutie, too
A soccer playing guy
He loves the sport with all his heart
And found it hard to say goodbye
When the season ended way too soon
For a team once undefeated
Hard to lose that playoff game
Don’t want that day repeated

Bennet is a crack up
Adding drama in the house
One way you’d NOT describe her
Is “quiet as a mouse”
She’s doing great in school this year
All A’s and B’s we find
On her report card, sitting pretty
It really blows my mind

So proud of all three younger ones
So grateful that they’re here
They continue to amaze us
With each passing year
They’re smart and strong and funny
And fit so perfectly
In the not-so-structured structure
Of our crazy family

When Gatlin and Cooper were four and six
They were both completely bit
By the acting bug that drew them in
And for years they’ve worked at it
They’ve honed their craft and tweaked their skills
They’ve sung for all to hear
And this year brought a nice surprise
That caused us all to cheer

A call from Nickelodeon
About a show called, “Twang”
Started things in motion
That ended with a bang
Two weeks on set in Hollywood
Could not have been more fun
We’re hoping and we’re praying
That the ride has just begun

To see them get to use their gifts
Together, is a thrill
To watch them grow in grace and love
Is even better still
To have the “littles” proudly watch
Coop and Gat performing
And hear them laugh a belly laugh
Is so very rewarding

Brian’s had a busy year
Both home and on the road
He’s been out with Steven Curtis
In frenzied tour mode
When here, he’s still producing
Songs and records left and right
We’re so very, very grateful
For the work the Lord provides

We did, however, have a loss
In August of this year
When Brian’s dad said goodbye
And took his last breath here
He’s now singing with the angels
And Brian’s mother, too
We couldn’t be more thankful
For that eternal truth

I’m just eating bon bons
ha ha ha ha ha 
You have to laugh or go insane
When you are the Mooooooommmmm (rhyme is lacking, whatevs!!)
To five amazing children
Who keep me on my toes
There’s never a dull moment
As all us Mommas know

I did have one big change this year
On January 17
I started with Rodan + Fields
Cause money had been lean
It’s become the kind of blessing
I couldn’t have imagined
Helping others find it, too
Has now become a passion

As this poem comes to a close
I want to wish you all
A New Year filled with things you love
Both big and very small
The smallest babe was born one night
In that stable far away
My prayer is that you know Him
And that HE will light your way

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

The Greens

Brian, Wendi, Cooper, Gatlin, Bennet, Kaleb and Kali

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Things I Never Thought I'd Do...

All those years ago when Brian and I were dealing with the sad reality of infertility, we began talking about adoption.  There was never a time back then that the word adoption was ever put with “more than one child”.  Nope, never.  It was always, adopt “A” child.  So, as many of you already know, we NEVER intended to adopt THREE children.  After we were, miraculously, able to get pregnant, we didn’t talk about adoption for quite a few years.  And then, it wasn’t because we wanted more kids that it came up again...but it was a strong calling on my life that I couldn’t shake...didn’t want to shake.  So, we started talking about it again.  But, it was always one.  And, it was an Asian one.  We had a name picked out, we had a face in our heads, we had a plan.  HA!!!   So, when all that fell through, we stopped talking about adoption again.  But, not for long.  Two years after the original plan fell through, I saw a picture of the twins.  And I couldn’t get it out of my head.  Didn’t want to.  But, then there were three.  THREE!!  Oh my.  Never in a million years did we ever think we would adopt three kids.  But, God knew.  And, yesterday, as I stood next to my precious Ethiopian three in church, singing, “Your Great Name” at the top of my lungs, the words, “the fatherless, find their rest, at the sound of Your great Name” caused a lump in my throat and tears to stream down my cheeks.  And, in that moment, I was reminded again that God had fulfilled a calling on my life by bringing those sweet babies to me.  To us.  What an honor it is to be their mom.  They are precious.  

Following the adoption were the hardest two financial years that Brian and I have had in 20 years.  Doesn’t that just figure.  Listen, I thoroughly believe that Satan comes after us BIG TIME if we’re trying to do something good for the Kingdom of God.  And, our finances were under attack!!   It was very stressful.  There were so many nights that I’d lie in bed and wonder how we were gonna make it.  I had said (while we were making our adoption decision) that we’d eat peanut better and jelly forever if that’s what we needed to do, but in reality, I did NOT want to be forced to do that.  Yet, that’s where we were.  The crazy thing was, only two years prior to the adoption, we had had our very best year, financially.  We had gotten a cut on a Miley Cyrus record and the residual money had started coming in.  It was a little bit more than I made back in my “Sierra” recording/writing days. ha!  It was a huge blessing.  Because we had finally made some great money, we decided to invest in our retirement fund, which had been seriously neglected.  Well, to make a very long story short, the year before the adoption, the company that we had invested with declared bankruptcy, and it was devastating to find out that there had been embezzlement and fraud involved, and money that we thought was very safe, was not.  We lost ALL of our retirement funds.  All of them!   And so, there we were, three more kids, less money than we’d ever made, and no savings or retirement funds to pull from.  It was a little stressful, to say the least.  BUT, Brian and I looked at each other and said, “If the Lord allowed this, then the Lord will provide for us”.  And He did.  Looking back on 2011, we don’t know how we made it.  It was all God.  We laid our rocks of remembrance at the end of that year!

So, this brings us to another thing I never thought I’d do.  I never thought I’d have a job like the one I have now.  Nope, never did.  I’m a song writer, singer, worship leader.  Last year, when my sister started telling me about how well she was doing with Rodan + Fields, and that she wanted me to join with her, I was like, “how about I write them a jingle”.  Cause y’all, seriously, I did NOT think that was the cloth I was cut out of.  Months went by as I watched my sister become very successful in her new business venture.  I would lie in bed and be sick to my stomach wondering if we were going to have enough to pay all our bills, or any extra to do Christmas presents, or pay for Bennet’s school (which is so important to me because she’s doing so well there).  And, as I kept fighting the worry, and as my sister kept singing the praises of Rodan + Fields, I was reminded of this story.  

An old man who had clung to his faith sat on his roof and prayed. "Dear Lord, Please save me from this flood" After a while a boat came by loaded with rescuers and victims. "Come with us, we will take you to safety", they cried. The old man told them, "No Thank you, My Lord will Save me". Once more the same boat came by. "Please sir, let us save you". Again he turned them down. "My Lord will save me" he said. Hours went by and the old man looked around. All of the other families had been taken from their roofs to safety. "Where are you Lord?" He prayed. Just then a helicopter came and lowered a basket. "Please sir, get in the basket and let us take you to dry land" they yelled. "My Lord will save me" he told them and pushed the basket away. The next day the waters rose over the rooftops and the man was swept away and he drowned. When he got to Heaven he asked his Father, "Lord I prayed and prayed, why did you not save me?" The Lord replied, "Old man, I sent you two boats and a helicopter."

So, I decided to jump in the boat.  I had no idea exactly where that boat would take me and I wasn’t exactly sure it was the perfect boat for me, but I made a decision to at least get out of the stressful flood waters!  Don’t worry, I’m not going to try to sell you on Rodan + Fields here, but I will tell you that there’s a point and time where we have to step out in faith and get in the boat.  We have the ability to change our circumstances.  “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind”.  My sound mind was telling me that I needed to participate more to help out with our finances.  Brian has always worked SO hard, but times have changed, and the music industry isn’t what it used to be.  These days, Brian works twice as many hours for half the pay.  So, I needed to step in.  I couldn’t choose just any job because I have five kids and am running around in a million different directions at any given time.  I keep the books for our home and Brian’s business.  I am a part-time worship leader for our church.  I am the scheduler of all things “Cooper and Gatlin” in acting and music land.  Thus, I needed a job that was flexible that I could do from home.  That was my situation and that’s why this was a good choice for me.  I set a few short-term goals when I started, and have met all of them already.  Very blessed, very humbled!! 

Sometimes in life, we have to do the things that we never thought we’d do.  We have to take the chance.  Walk in obedience.  Do.  For real, the two I’ve just written about have taken me out of my comfort zone...they’ve stretched me....but they’ve also blessed me.  Big time.  I pray that you, too, will jump in the boat (whatever boat it is) and not miss what the Lord has in store for you!! 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Mother's Day thoughts...

As I sit here having enjoyed a lovely rainy (my favorite) Mother’s Day, I can’t help but think of two groups of people...the first, the women who want so desperately to have a child, but haven’t been able to. 
I understand the desire to have a child and not be able to.  It took almost five years to get pregnant with Cooper.  I was lapped twice by both my sisters and attended countless baby showers for close friends.  It was a difficult season. I cried out to God so many times, pleading with Him to let me be pregnant, but the little stick said, “no”, month after month, year after year.  In 1992, I wrote the words to a song called, “When I Let It Go” about my experience with infertility.  I had to ask myself the question, “Do I trust God, and do I believe that He loves me, if I never have a child?”   My answer was, “yes”, but it wasn’t an easy answer.  My heart broke over the thought of not ever being pregnant and having a baby.  Writing these words proved to be cathartic. 
This time I've got to trust You
I've got to accept Your plan
I have tried to guide my circumstance
But there's just no way I can
When will I learn this lesson
Your ways are not like mine
Lord, help me to surrender
The control I try to have on my life
   When I let it go
   You take my hand and gently lead me
   Then You let me know
   Just how peaceful my life can be
   When I let it go
   Your never-ending blessings like a river
       start to flow
   When I let it go
Too many times I'm searching
For the things I think I need
But when I try to look for more
I always seem to give You less of me
Lord, help me gain the wisdom
My foolish mind still lacks
Til I find a way to let go
Of the part of me I'm holding back 
In 1993, a song-writer that I was introduced to, Connie Harrington, helped me put those words to music and my singing group, “Sierra”, recorded the song on our debut album that year.  And by God’s grace He allowed me to get pregnant and, ironically, hear that song on the radio for the very first time as I was driving to the hospital in labor (which is a long and funny story!).  
I will never forget giving birth to Cooper, or the moments that followed when he wasn’t breathing and had to be rushed out of my room to the NICU.  I couldn’t imagine losing him, and I’m beyond grateful that I didn’t.  I thank God for my precious son and I couldn’t love him more than I do.  
Two years later, I was happily surprised that I was pregnant with Gatlin after having been told that I’d never be able to get pregnant on my own.  We had no maternity insurance and, therefore, have always called Cooper and Gatlin our ten thousand dollar babies!!  (Cooper, because the fertility treatments were so expensive, and Gatlin, because of no insurance.) Gatlin was born in July of 1997, beautiful and healthy.  And our family was complete.  Or so we thought.
The second group that I’ve thought about today are those sweet mommas who have had to give up their babies, and the babies who were given up, or whose mommas died.   I just can’t imagine...and I realize that God doesn’t give us grace for our imaginations, but, wow, how someone has the strength to hand their child to someone else, even when she knows it is her only option in order for that child to survive (or have a better life than she can provide), is just beyond me. I can’t even comprehend that.  So amazed by the strength of those precious women.
We were not drawn to adoption because we wanted to increase the size of our family.  We were perfectly happy with our two children, but there was a calling on my life, a voice in my head that wouldn’t go away that kept reminding me of the verse that says we are to, “care for the orphans”.  I wanted to be open to that if God ever put it in my path.  And He did.  But, it wasn’t without heartache and disappointment.  
In 2008, we tried to adopt twice, and both attempts failed.  The first was not as painful because we were next on the list for a referral, so we hadn’t yet seen a face.  But, the second child had a name and a face, and we had his picture up in our home and spoke of him and prayed for him daily.  When the phone call came that ended that journey, our hearts were broken.  Gatlin and I laid on her closet floor bawling our eyes out.  And then I said to Gatlin, “Did we love God and trust Him before this happened?”  Through her tears she answered, “Yes, Momma”.  “Do we still love Him and trust Him now?”, I asked her through my own tears.  And again, she said, “Yes”.  And then we just cried.  And I decided that we were not meant to adopt.  
It’s funny how we decide things, isn’t it? 
Right at the time I decided that, a man named, Aleymu, died in Ethiopia, leaving three children behind without parents, because their mother died three years prior to that.  Little did I know then, that his children would become my children.  Our children.  I’m so very grateful to that man.  He was a very good man, and his beautiful wife was a wonderful mother prior to her death.  They deeply loved their children.  They protected their children.  They taught their children about God.  Because of the way that they loved their children, their children know how to love now!  Because of the way that they protected their children, their children don’t have serious physical and/or emotional scars that many others have.  Because of the way they loved life, and played, and laughed, these three precious children know how to enjoy life, and play, and laugh.  A LOT! 
So, today I’m a grateful Mom.  Grateful to have given birth to two amazing children.  Grateful to a beautiful mother in Ethiopia who gave birth to, and loved so well, three amazing children there, that I now have the privilege to mother.  And mostly, grateful to Father God Who kept His promise to “work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to HIS purpose”.  Romans 8:28

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What a Difference a Year Makes...

Today was Kaleb and Kali's well-check doctor appointment (Bennet's is tomorrow).  As I was holding their hands walking into Mercy Clinic, I was overcome with thoughts of walking that path a year ago and how completely overwhelmed I was.  I broke out in tears numerous times during the almost four hour appointment...the first time being the moment I signed their names onto the sign-in sheet.  The women behind the counter didn't know what to think of me.  I didn't know what to think of me.  It wasn't really a me that I recognized.  I remember being so frustrated with myself because I couldn't snap out of it.  I wanted to put mind over matter and buck up and get a grip and deal with my life and pull myself together and all those things...but I wasn't able to do it that I cried.  And cried.  And then cried a little bit more.  I was embarrassed, but the water works wouldn't stop.  It wasn't a bawling cry, just that constant lump in the throat, tears welled-up in the eyes, sneak a kleenex to your cheek, want to lie down and bawl your eyes out, but you can't.  The kids never knew how much I was struggling that day.

Today, I was able to laugh at that memory.

While we were waiting to see the doctor, I told Kaleb and Kali all about me sitting there last year trying not to plop on the floor in fetal position, suck my thumb and wail.  And then I told them that they don't scare me anymore...and we all three laughed and laughed and laughed.  So much better than crying!!

They had great check-ups and are perfectly healthy.  They are growing like weeds and doing great in every area; physically, mentally, spiritually.  They are AMAZING kids.  The doctor got to see them dance (oh my!) and as I told her our story (she's a new doctor for us), her response was, "God knew exactly what family to put these kids with".   Indeed He did.

Our family is many funny things happen in this house on a daily basis...we laugh ALL the time around here.  We fight sometimes, too.  Thankfully, this past year has been one of MUCH laughing and very little fighting.  God has blessed us beyond what we deserve, that is for sure.

People ask us if this adoption journey has been hard and Brian always answers, "It's not hard, it's just more".   That's a good answer.  Life is hard sometimes and when you add more people, there's potential to have more hard...BUT, life is really great, too, and we added a lot of has way outweighed the hard.  Thank You, Lord!!

Last night Gatlin took her three younger siblings out for a walk around the neighborhood...they ended up walking for over an hour and it became dark and a little chilly.  I realized Gatlin didn't have her phone with her, so I hopped in the car to go find them and bring them home.  They were almost home, but when they saw me they jumped in the car, glad to see me and thankful for the ride.   Kali said, "I KNEW you would come and find us, Mom!"  That made my heart so happy!!

In Psalm 30:11, the Psalmist writes, "You have turned my mourning into dancing, you have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy".  I'm so very grateful that the Lord is faithful to us.  He  has been faithful to Bennet, Kaleb and Kali and he has been faithful to Brian, Wendi, Cooper and Gatlin...and this past year He has shown this group of Greens His beautiful, unfailing, extravagant love in way too many ways to count.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Our Christmas Letter...

It's hard to believe that a year ago we were on our way to Ethiopia to meet our three new kiddos for the first time.  We spent Christmas day in London eating fish-n-chips in a not-so-great pub, freezing our tushies off walking around London on our site seeing tour, Gatlin and I falling asleep on the tour bus cause the jet lag was so bad, and almost missing our flight to Ethiopia cause nobody in the London airport seemed to know where our gate was -- but I'm not complaining cause it all made for a great memory and fun story to tell.  

Fast forward a year...we were sleeping peacefully in our own comfy bed when three little black children excitedly ran into our room to wake us up to start the Christmas celebration!  LOL    Thankfully, it was 8:30 (I've trained them well - ha!)  And it seemed perfectly normal to me.

Isn't that amazing!   In the 10 months that the kids have been here, it's gone from a few weeks of feeling completely overwhelmed, to a few months of, "Ok, I can do this", to a couple more months of, "Getting kind of used to this", to now..."Can't imagine life any other way".   There have been some emotional ups and downs, that's for sure, but if I've learned anything at all this year, I've learned that it's just not about me and I MUST keep an eternal perspective in ALL things in life.  That isn't always easy, but it is imperative for a joy-filled life.  I want to choose joy.  

All five of our kids are doing really great.  Kaleb and Kali are loving first grade and doing so well.  Bennet is doing wonderfully in school, but that has been one of the biggest challenges for us...not having to do with Bennet, but just the communication between us and the school as to Bennet's needs and how to meet them.  We finally got the kinks worked out and things are running smoothly now.  She loves to read and it's been so fun to watch her dive into a book and not want to put it down.  It does blow me away that she's only been here 10 months and is flying through 3rd grade level books now - I'm so proud of her.  Gatlin is making all A's except in Algebra, and she has a high B in that one.  It has been such an adjustment for her to go from homeschooling to a difficult private school, but she's doing great!  I'm very proud of her for making such good grades and feel quite relieved, actually.  ha!!   I mean, I know she's smart, but when you home school and then put them in a school, there is a sigh of relief once you know they are doing well (and not just doing well, but excelling).  Whew!  Cooper is still homeschooling and doing great.  He is taking Spanish through a tutorial and is making a strong A in there, so that's great.  Homeschooling is such a great choice for him because it gives him such freedom to work on his music and to teach his guitar students.  So proud of him and his strong work ethic.

Brian is super busy these days, which is a HUGE blessing cause a couple months ago he didn't have work lined up and it was a bit scary, to be honest!   I've told this story a couple times, so if you've heard it before, sorry...but when we started the adoption process, we told the Lord that we'd eat peanut butter and jelly if we had to, but that we wanted to provide a life for these kids, and even a life filled with PB &  J would be better than the life they had in an orphanage because they'd have the love of a family.  Anyway, this year got pretty tight financially and I found myself just a little worried and crying out to the Lord telling Him that I didn't mean it -- I didn't really want to eat PB & J -- I wanted some steak!  You understand.  And, really, we have never gone without, it's just been different.  God is faithful and has provided everything we need and even things we want.  We are blessed.

I have to tell you that there have been friends that have been extremely generous to us this year.  We've had many friends give us hand-me-down clothes but a few that have just gone above and beyond and continually send us boxes!!  There's probably not a day that goes by that Kaleb isn't wearing something given to us by my friend, Shelli, and Kali is constantly in something from my friends, Tish and Courtney.  Bennet has been blessed by my friend, Kimmy, and Moriah keeps blessing Gatlin.  And MANY others have given us clothes -- it has been a HUGE, huge blessing!  It blows me away!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart, sweet friends!  

So, clothes weren't something we needed at Christmas (ha!) but Forever 21 did have an on-line clearance that was unbeatable so Gatlin got a couple new things, which was fun for her.  We got all the kids a pair of shoes -- the two big kids got Tom's and the three young ones got boots that they had mentioned liking.  Then they each got two other gifts from our family and a gift from Nana and Papa and Uncle Jack and Aunt Lora.  And then Uncle Jim blew us away with his generosity towards all of us.  We are blessed by him and how he loves our family so well.  

We enjoyed a casual lunch with our gang plus Uncle Jim and Cooper's girlfriend, Brianna.  Yep, that's big news this year...Cooper has a girlfriend.  We all love Brianna and it was great to have her here with us for Christmas as her family went out of town but she had to work and couldn't go with them.  That worked out well for Cooper!  LOL  She and Cooper have been close friends for a year and a half, but decided a few weeks ago to start dating.  Cooper is 17 and Brianna is 18 so they're at a good age and are displaying wonderful maturity and godliness in the whole dating/courting process.  It will be exciting to see what the Lord does with/through their relationship.  

Gatlin and Kali made a birthday cake for Jesus and decorated it so nicely.  We sang Happy Birthday and blew out the candle and celebrated THE life that gives all of us life.  How blessed we are to know JESUS!  How blessed we are to have brought three children into our family and now we get the privilege of helping them grow in their relationship with Him.  It just doesn't get any better than that.  All we have, all we are, EVERYTHING is because of HIM.  

One of Bennet's gifts today was to inherit her brother's old computer (a nice little Mac Mini, because Cooper bought himself a laptop) and so now she has an email account set up so she can email her family.  I was the recipient of her first email and it said, "Thank you for the gifts.  This was the first and the best Christmas ever.  Thank you so much and I love you very much".   Makes me cry again just typing it here.  Good grief, ya''s AMAZING to think that somehow God allowed us to be a piece in the puzzle of a transformed life.  Humbled.

One last thing, today my sister left to go get her little boy, Crew, from Ethiopia.  It's been a year since they started the adoption process and it's been quite the roller coaster ride.  But, God is faithful to finish what He started and they will be home on Wednesday.  The timing is perfect for us to jump in the car and actually get to be there for their airport arrival.  How awesome is that!!   I can't wait to grab that little guy up and squeeze him.  I can't wait for him to see that he has cousins that look like him.  In a sea of white people, that's a special thing!!  Woo hoo!!   

I pray that you've all had a wonderful Christmas and that you know the joy that comes from knowing Jesus as your personal Savior.  Be blessed!

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!