Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Psalm 82:3

What if there are children who will suffer somehow because I failed to obey God?
What if my cowardice costs even one child somewhere in the world his or her life?
(excerpt from The Hole in Our Gospel)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Saying good-bye; Preparing for hello

Even when you know someone you love is dying, it doesn't make it any easier to say good-bye. Earlier this month we lost Kyle's dad. His parents were able to make it out to Utah for one last visit three weeks ago. After returning home, he lost his battle with cancer and went to his Eternal home.

Our pastor talked a while back about the legacy we all leave behind. Kyle's dad left a wonderful one. He was loved and respected by his children, his grand-children and everyone who knew him. He knew the value of hard work, but also the importance of play. He was an avid golfer, and believed in "hitting the ball where it lies". He applied this philosophy to life as well.

When a golfer hits a ball into the rough, he can either hit it from whatever place it landed or replay the ball and add a stroke to his score. Kyle's dad was a firm believer in playing the ball where it landed. He taught his kids to do the same in life. When he was battling cancer none of us heard him complain or ask why this had to happen to him. Though he didn't enjoy it, he dealt with it, and he allowed others to help him do so. He never gave up, he loved those around him until the very end, and I'm honored that he was my father-in-law.

I think my grief is different than most; I am trying to be okay with that. I hate that he had cancer and my heart breaks for Kyle's mom. I wish we lived closer, and I wish...well, let's just leave it at that. However, I know that his dad lived a full life and had the very best care during that life - even at the end. He didn't die in in pain. He wasn't alone. People knew his name and where he came from. His children were part of his whole life, and he was part of theirs. He loved and cherished his wife, and she did the same in return. People sent flowers, gave hugs and gifts and will be there in the weeks and months to come. There were even military honors performed before the burial. Overall, his funeral was touching, beautiful and memorable...just like his life was.

I am sad that my family is sad. I am heartbroken for Kyle's mother who now has the grueling task of creating a new normal for herself. Here's where the "different" part comes in. I am grateful for the beauty and comfort that surrounded my sweet father-in-law at the very end. I know that as hard as all this is, it is much worse for so many others.

I find myself wondering what Habtamu's grief must have been like (or is like) losing both his mother and father and then being taken to an orphanage to be cared for. I wonder what he remembers of his life before the orphanage. I wonder what he held onto when he became an orphan. It's almost like when I think of the sadness Kyle, and all of us, really, are feeling, it is amplified in my heart for Habtamu. I guess it's kind of like grieving for three people all at once???

Our future missionary (a.k.a. Chelsea) had some very poignant questions and observations while we were in IL for grandpa's funeral. One of the sweetest things she said was this: "Mom, it seems like when someone in our family dies, another family member comes along. Why does God do that?" We had a nice heart to heart that night, to say the least! Since Miranda's "gotcha" date was Hailey's 7th heavenly birthday, I think I'm predicting that we'll be in Ethiopia in July (Kyle's dad's birthday is the 10th). Guess we'll see!

And speaking of Habtamu, this week we learned that Habtamu is officially ours! Yep, that pesky court decree was FINALLY issued. The paper-chase in Ethiopia begins now for his final documents, and in 3-4 months-ish we'll be bringing him home; where he belongs.

And, in other news, he has a new birthday...again. Apparently now he was born in 2002. Still trying to figure out which one will "stick" and what will be on his new documents, but we're thinking this is a good thing. We KNOW he's not 12 like they originally "assigned" him to be.

The day after returning home from the funeral we welcomed the Ugandan Orphans Choir to our church. We were one of the lucky families who got to have 4 of the 10 kids stay at our home for a couple of nights. According to Chelsea, "This was the best birthday ever!" The kids were fun, energetic, polite, talented and totally cute.

Madam C celebrating her special day with some special kids.

At home we played "mini fooseball" and learned how to scramble eggs 'Ugandan style'

And after the performance, a group of kids wanted a special photo :o). Miranda figured out this week "I used to be like those kids, right mom? I was an orphan in China, but now I have a family forever?" Still not sure she totally understands the whole adoption thing, but she definitely gets the 'family' thing.

Corey got 'schooled' in air hockey and came upstairs saying "Dang, mom, he's good!"

The choir travels with a music director and a teacher. That's Petwa and Agnus with me below. They are incredibly sweet. There were also two other chaperones with them. I told them both that "Saint" should be put in front of their name! They are living in a van, connected to a trailer, driving around the US for 11 months with these amazing kids and teachers. I don't know of anyone who would give one year of their lives to something like this. Do you?

And of course with Jared around, one MUST play basketball - even if it is in the hallway.

After the choir headed east to where they'll be touring next, a friend of mine said something that really hit home for me. She said something like this: "You know, those 10 kids are singing and dancing their hearts out for God so that us American's can put a face to what an orphan is. As we sat in our comfortable seats and enjoyed a night of entertainment, those kids brought awareness and raised money for those 'left behind'. I should be doing as much!"

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. Matthew 19:28-30

These kids, who are known as "the least of these" (aka "orphans"), left their land, their friends, their school and stepped into the unknown...for He could use them to bring awareness to those of us who live in a land of plenty (and still want more). That verse makes me take a hard look at myself and ask "Am I really following Him? Am I living out my faith? Will I give up when things get hard or uncomfortable? Will I trust Him no matter what?"

Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. Matthew 19: 13-14

For those of you who constantly pray for us and our adoption, please keep the prayers coming. We are still needing to save, scrap together and/or fund-raise about $10,000. And, as many of you know, when things start going well and you think you have everything you need, "something" comes along and sucks the wind right out of you (or your bank account). Please pray against satan's schemes, and pray that God will continue to provide.

For those of you who have recently started your own adoption adventure, or who are about to (you know who you are!), here are some things to remember:

God is faithful.

God will see you through.

It will be hard.

There will be trials.

Your heart will hurt.

It'll be worth it in the end.

You'll probably find that you'll do it again (I'm totally serious).

And most importantly, you'll get a knot in your stomach and tears in your eyes after your child is home when you realize what you would have missed out on had you given up when things got tough. I shutter to think what our family would be like had we said "no" when we got the call about Corey at the single worst time of our lives. It scares me to think what would have happened to our sweet Miranda had we given up at any one time along the way. I can't imagine the heartache we'd feel right now had we ignored God's quiet whispers to add one more little boy to our family.

Praise God for not giving up on us.

Praise God for giving us more strength than we ever thought we'd want or need.

Praise God for bringing us closer as a family through everything.

Praise God for friends like you!

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