The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Are You Ready? How Are The Lists? How Can You Stand It?

All common questions around here.

All valid.

All have answers.

In order they could be reciprocally answered by further questioning...
  • Will we ever be ready?
  • The lists are long...but fortunately many to dos now proceed many ticked boxes which once were empty.
  • I am numb. That's how I can stand it.

If we had been given several months' notice of our court date, I still don't know if we'd ever be ready. I actually don't think I can quantify such a subjective answer. I am thankful for the month's only notice.

Are our bags packed? Heck no, they aren't even up from the basement yet. Are the orphanage (non-financial) donations ready? Um nope...verbally we've been gifted much but it's not here yet. Do we have tickets, vaccinations, documents proving the reason for our destination, immigration forms to be passed along, contact numbers while in Addis? Yes.

Are our hearts prepared for all we will see, hear, smell, touch, witness? I truly don't think we can prepare ourselves for all of that. Thoughts of the sights to which we will undoubtedly bear witness, breaks my heart. The thoughts alone have changed me. I can only imagine the effects of our first hand reality of it. I've been there before - Africa that is, not Ethiopia. But the purpose was different. I was different, (fourteen years different in fact).

The question "why", often wriggles it's way into my insides.

Why must such poverty exist? Deep down I feel I know some of the reasons, both tangibly and spiritually.

Why her? This question will be answered as our little family evolves and grows to know our daughter and experience her perfect fit into our family. Certainly it will take years to fully comprehend the magnificence of this plan. She will no doubt change us all, each uniquely so. We will never be ready for all that is about to occur. What we can do is pray and seek to allow everything to change us, to grow us, to make us better, to make us more aware, to break us, even.

I can stand it because I am numb.

I am numb from over three years of waiting and feeling at the brink of giving up during some seasons. I am numb because I am still in awe at the grace shown to us, that we may have this gift of a precious life. I am numb at the surreality of the fact that we leave in less (!) than two weeks and the fact that we'll be heading east about as far as we can without just going the other way. This is still too overwhelming to truly wrap my head around. I am numb because one day (soon) those diapers downstairs, that seat in the car (which still requires an actual carseat!), those clothes in the closet, the high chair in the basement, the soft toys and blankets and crib, they will all actually be in use. That is something, a concept, with which I struggle daily. I am numb.

And I know when this numbness gives way to feeling, reality, pure and raw emotional understanding, I will be forever different. Some of the walls will come down. Some of the guards removed.

I will touch her (this is when I believe the numb will begin to dissipate).

I will whisper to her.

I will look in her eyes - locking her gaze with mine.

We will study each other until she knows, I Am Her Mama.


And the only reason she is not with her Birth Mama is because she was so very loved.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

She 's 7 months...And More Prep

I did the math awhile back and realized that when we go for court our wee one will be just over seven and a half months...and today she is seven months. Let's pause for a moment while I fight back the urge to wet my pants with anticipation.

The butterflies are still there. They've set up camp in my insides and quite honestly, I love it.

The lists have been created (with help, tips, tricks and insight!) and I thought that would be sufficient. I was wrong. Apparently simply having the lists doesn't actually help this girl with task completion. Boxes were being ticked off...just not in the timeframe originally anticipated. (Keep in mind that by normal people standards I'm probably right on's this darned Type A gets in the way of being behind in all things detail.)

So, print it all off I did.

And that didn't seem enough either.

So, categorizing tasks into days by (during) which they need to be completed was the next step.

And now the fire's lit and I'm on my way. The past twenty-four hours have been super productive and the pace will likely continue.

Last night's goal was to start and finish her blanket (part of the gift we will leave) for the Transition Home.

Times two.

I made two in case one is lost while she's there. They are identical...and while it's highly possible that it could end up on the crib of another wee one, I did my best to eliminate that possibility.

Hope she likes it...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

More Progress...On Summer...On Travel Prep...On The Journey

By the timestamp on this post you may realize that...
  1. it's busy around here
  2. there's a lot of excitement in these parts
  3. there has been a lot to get done
  4. the sun has (finally!!) been shining and time indoors simply has not been on the agenda
  5. we just finished the most wonderful Nana visit
  6. the preparations are truckin' along nicely (we leave in 2 1/2 weeks??!!)
  7. did i mention the excitement?
Aside from the day-to-day of birthday parties, father's day, end of the year trips and get togethers, summer camp and staff preparations and events, the amount to accomplish in these parts over the next couple of weeks can overwhelm a girl.

Well...most girls.

The demands, tasks, itemized lists, events ahead, anticipation, timeline...they just gets me going. I'm a multi-tasker at heart and though admittedly some things have fallen off the radar recently, this list-making, gift baking, goal seeking girl is in her element. And the high of it all can (apparently) lead to some sleepless nights of "day" dreaming, praying, deep thinking, yearning, and realizing that the control is out of our hands.

We can prepare what we wish. We can plan for most imaginable (and some unimaginable) circumstances. Yet, we are venturing into uncharted waters. The journey ahead - and the path getting us there - is a little blurry and as we step further towards the destination (simply, the next phase of the journey), the path progressively becomes a little clearer.

And I realize again: this is out of our control. What will be, will be. It is in the hands of the One who planned our journey long ago out of nothing but pure, raw, aching love. And so we must trust through the fog, in all that is ahead of us and around us, in the love and desire of His utmost (love, care, heart, compassion, longing, joy...) for us.

We confirmed our Guest House stay while in Addis just a few minutes ago. (The time change works wonders in the wee hours.) And donations are trickling in steadily. And we feel blessed.

We arrived home last night to a package on the doorstep. A large box I had been hoping would arrive soon - but not expecting this quickly. (The strike has it's door-to-door courier service benefits! Not that we don't miss picking up daily mail...but home delivery is a welcome, temporary aberration.)

{i resisted the urge to take and then post a photo, but the encouragement
"oh come on honey, you know you want to"
was all the motivation i needed.
so i grabbed the camera to photo document this wee step towards our wee babe}

The contents of the box were a screaming reminder of the growth on our horizon. The first "real" purchase...the fact that they are for us...for our child is something I am having a heck of a time fitting into my paradigm. What a perfect predicament.

And, upon request...she sent a few extra. I was again touched as I have been repeatedly throughout this journey, and humbled to the core.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Check, Check And Nearly Check

A productive day on many accounts. I'm excited mentally but emotionally I'm still so very guarded. I'm not sure that will ever change.

Today, we crossed a couple of significant items off the 'to do' list...
  • vaccinations (and while we thought this would be a 1 appointment event, it seems we need enough of them to warrant a second appointment in a week...) - check
  • securing/booking our flights - check
Yes, you read that right.

We have tickets to ETHIOPIA BABY.

Once they're in our hot little hands (or in my hot little inbox) I'll be contacting our accommodation of choice and booking our room. (I contacted our guest house last week and our room of choice was available.) - nearly check

Oh my.

It hasn't sunk in. We leave in less than three weeks.

We're. Going. To. Ethiopia.


And we are so very very grateful - not letting a moment, an event, a ticked box on the list of preparations go by without a deep sense of gratitude for the grace shown to us.

No, we don't take these steps for granted.

We feel so very very blessed.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What's Next: A Summary

I've had a lot of friends and family ask what's next.

What do we do now to prepare to head over to Ethiopia? What paperwork must we complete before going? What do we need to present when we are there? What do we do while we are there? How is this all going to work?

So, I thought I'd take a few moments to jot down thoughts and replies, as best I can. Knowing that I've not done this before and I only know what I know from agency information, friends' experience, and personal awareness/research.

Here we go...bear with me this could be long-winded.

Currently we are
  • booking flights
  • getting ready for vaccinations (tomorrow)
  • finalizing accommodation in Ethiopia
  • preparing travel lists (thanks friends for all your help!...this in itself is deserving of a giant post but I will spare you - you're welcome)
  • registering with foreign affairs
  • preparing donations (would you like to help? we would be honoured. if so, please email me for details. regardless of our friendly canada post people we can make this feasible. regardless of your proximity to us, we can make this feasible. what we are saying is that if you want to donate to our daughter's orphanage we can make this feasible.)
  • preparing lists for two small boys who will be staying with their Nana and Pops
  • diving head-first into the start of summer staff training and camp...whoa!
  • not sleeping so much
What we anticipate
  • arriving jet-lagged but full of anticipation
  • taking a couple days prior to court during which we will enjoy parts of Addis
  • meet our daughter in her current orphanage (prior to court...maybe this was obvious)
  • going to federal court (july 15)
  • if we pass we will take a day and then we will visit our daughter in the transition home (take some photos and enjoy some time with her) then head home
  • if we do not pass we will take a couple more days to explore Addis and then head home
Where the nerves tend to rule
  • that we will remember everything and prepare all we need to bring/register/prepare (that seems random...there are just so very many details)
  • there's no certainty that we will pass court. we have done all we can to complete our paperwork and there's nothing in that area that needs any attention as far as court is concerned. we are nervous that we may not receive our MOWA letter (ministry of women's affairs) which would support our adoption. this would be a (common?) reason we may not pass. please please be in huge prayer for that
What's next
  • we will return home
  • if we passed court we will now be in the immigration wait...this can take 8-12 weeks...sometimes longer sometimes shorter
  • if we did not pass court we do not need to reappear, however, another court date will (likely) have been set for us and we will wait for our agency to call us about whether or not we passed. once we do pass, immigration begins
How you can be in prayer
  • continued health of our babe
  • for our health and safety as we travel
  • that all of our paperwork is complete and done to standards
  • that our MOWA letter is provided and that we PASS the first time
  • that we can fully embrace Addis and maximize our time in our daughter's country of birth
  • that we would rest in the knowledge that God is in control
  • that our kids at home are safe, healthy, (behaving!), and having the time of their lives with their Nana and Pops

For now, I think that sums it up. Thank you for your continued support, prayer, and friendship.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Someone Turned Six...

The "no girls allowed" party started off right in the eyes (and mouths) of some small children..."can I have chips, Mama? own bag??!"

There was a lot (a lot!) of hockey played.

The Leafs brought their best game...!


They do much better playing on the same team, rather than one-on-one at home.

"Just because" gifts were abundant around here...and the joy was sweet.

We celebrated the birth and life of the sweetest six year old yesterday. We hugged and kissed and laughed and played and unwrapped and ate and it was just an all around great day.

We also celebrated by booking vaccination appointments, holding a set of tickets (to be booked Monday!), and making one of the first "official" purchases specifically for one small sweet girl...oh, all so very very exciting.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Always Keep The Phone On The Toilet. Always.

Okay, it went down like this...

The phone rang this morning at 7:50am. While this wasn't the anticipated time that MoT could call, it certainly fell within an "acceptable" time range. That would make it 10:50am in Ontario. It wasn't MoT. Unfortunately for my recently-arrived-on-BC-hometurf-Mum, she was on the other end. And, while it was great to hear from her and know it wasn't overseas long distance, it wasn't a female voice I was hoping for on the other end of the line.

I got the boys in the car for school, hopped in and then realized that I didn't have the keys. Yes, keys usually help with starting a car Ashleigh.

So I whipped inside to grab them just as Ben had grabbed the phone on his way upstairs to get ready for work. He let me know he's specifically come back into the kitchen to grab the phone to take upstairs.

"Put it on the back of the toilet, honey" I said, "It's easier to reach when you're in the shower".

After months upon months of waiting for the phone to ring, you get these tactics down pack.

He may or may not have looked at me (lovingly of course) like I had just grown a third eye.

We headed to school. On the way there I wondered to myself how many more mornings I could wake up and tolerate the inner nausea without allowing it to take over. The feeling of utter illness would not subside until 10am each day. (This would be 1pm in Ont and in my mind: game over.) It was consistent to say the least. It has been horrible. And today as we drove, mostly in silence, I cranked the radio when this came on. I love this song. I mean seriously, who has the power to turn water into wine. Who does that? The same God who cares for our each and every prayer, problem, plea and praise. The same God who reminded us once again today of His sovereignty and His awareness of each and every concern and request we bring to the throne.

The difference between this wait...these past several weeks...and the referral wait...those many dozens of that the referral had taken so many months (ah hem, years) that the timeframe wasn't quite as finite. There was no "if then" clause with the referral call. That does not in any way minimize the anguish of waiting for that call, it is and was just different. This call had to come within a specific timeframe or there would be no pre-summer court date. The fear of our child in an orphanage a moment longer than she will have already been wasn't okay.

I digress.

I dropped the boys off, whipped across the school to talk with a teacher and then walked out, preparing to head back to work.

And my phone rang.

And it was Ben announcing a July 15th date.

Yes, a month from the day we received it.

That means leaving in less than a month.

Hold on to your hats. I can barely cling to mine. It's fantastic.

I cried. I called a friend. I yelled at another as she drove into the parking lot. I hugged another, while simultaneously calling my Mum (I should really apologize for having been short earlier) who had just come on the scene. And I shook. Oh, my legs. They just would not stop. And I cried some more. What a moment.

I worked, concentrated, focused on soaking in every second of this moment in time.

A time of prayer had been arranged to take place at noon today...everywhere. Around the world in different countries by all sorts of caring souls, hearts, and friends who love this child whom none of us have even met, were going to be praying as one.

And before we could all ask, plead together, He answered.

And why should we be surprised? Why did I ever for a single split second, question if this would happen. He always answers. In His own way. In His own time. For good. He always always wants nothing but good for His children.

And so now we go forth.

The phone rang soon after Ben was out of the shower, so perhaps the "keep it on the can" suggestion was a little over the top. A girl really can never be too careful though. Apparently, the split second(s) between when the phone rang and he grabbed it to look at the call display and the "unknown name" appearing (which we know to be MoT because of the area code) were some of the longest he's endured in quite some time.

Please don't stop praying. We need it now as much as ever.

There's an ash cloud hovering over Addis (and surrounding areas) after a volcano eruption in the Horn of Africa...some flights into Addis have been cancelled.

There are documents required to pass court.

There will be layovers and vaccinations and so so so very many details to fall into place...or be placed into place, I should say.

And I know that through it all, we are held in the hand of the Father.

Please don't stop praying.

July 15...and counting!!!!!!!


I don't have but a second but we are OVER THE MOON TO SHARE THAT WE GOT OUR COURT DATE.

July 15th we will stand in front of a judge in federal court in Addis Ababa.

Please pray that we...
  • manage to get around the ash from the volcano. there have been some flights cancelled into Addis because of this
  • all our documents are ready to go and we get the MOWA letter
  • our baby stays healthy
  • all court proceedings which take place on our behalf before court, will take place without any hitches or glitches
  • for safety and health as we continue to travel

Hold on sweet sweet baby girl.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Ramp It Up...

It's not that I am ungrateful. It's not that we don't, for one second, forget the gratitude we felt just over five weeks ago (and continue to feel, daily). It's not that it is in any way unpraiseworthy. It isn't that I am greedy. It's not that we are selfishly demanding.

But there's a need to ramp up all that prayer, already being lifted on our behalf...and on behalf of a small child...our small child currently (in all likelihood) waking, half way across the world.

Because when we read, "she had very slender arms and legs - and small hands and feet - oh, she is a doll!" but can't see it first hand, that is so very hard.

And when I soak in the words, "I didn't hear a peep from her, so you have a typical Ethiopian little girl," I just want to scream loud enough to know she's heard that we are coming.

And all she needs to do is hold on a little longer.

To stay strong.

To continue to gain health.

To fight off germs.

To eat lots.

To continue to roll.

To soak in her surroundings in sweet silence.

And we need to go.

We need to be there.


We need to go soon.

So we need our court date.

And in order to be there soon we need a date really really miracle-like soon.

So we need to ask for the masses to pray. For you to pray. Because we feel it's been prayer that's carried us and it's going to be prayer that will continue to do so.

We need our phone to ring like yesterday. Monday will do, however.

So if you can please please ramp up all the prayer. We really need it. She really needs it. And we really need her.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Everything But The Kitchen Sink

My cupboards have been boring lately. I feel as though I'm stuck in a "snack rut". It's like every day presents the same old same old with our kids and their snacks and my goal is to constantly be creating and re-creating healthy snacks and meals. So when I look in the cupboard and see walnuts, almonds, cashews, raisins, rice crackers and the odd pretzel I just feel like it's bland. We don't buy pre-packaged, period. So the pre-made items are scant.

We mix it up with muffins quite often - always different kinds. And granola bars are pretty common around here...but tonight I wanted to make them fun.

Healthy fun.

I think that's possible.

And in the same breath I didn't want to see other food items go stale because I wanted to make something "fun". So, I did what I've done before but took it a little further...let's call these "everything but the kitchen sink bars". Because, I think we need to get creative in our cooking (or baking) and think out of the box...way, way, out of the box. And if a certain four year old hadn't been fast asleep, I likely wouldn have let him (randomly) chose some of that "everything" which now make up these good lookin' bars.

The recipe (I use that term loosely) went something like this...

3 cups whole oats
1/4 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup broken pretzel pieces
1/4 cup coconut
1/8 cup bran (original)
2/3 cup trail mix (including dried pineapple, mango, dates, peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, banana chips, raisins)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup (real!) butter
1/4 cup organic agave nectar
1 egg

Mix and spoon (and press down) into a 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for approx 15 mins, until edges are brown or your husband finds you out in the yard gardening to let you know the timer has been beeping for a few minutes...oops. Perhaps it was closer to 18 mins.

Aside from the "getting creative with cooking" side of things, the fact of the matter is this folks: If we set aside those small handfuls of crushed shreddies, those broken pretzel pieces at the bottom of the container, those annoying little sunflower seeds leftover after all the "good stuff" has been eaten from the trail mix we would quickly realize the amount of waste actually occurring in our households. Those of us who take consumerism and serious waste quite seriously, fail to realize that we are often still wasting. The saying "there are children in Africa who are starving and didn't have any supper tonight" holds major weight around here and we intend to practice what we preach by being better stewards of blessings.

So if your celery is gettin' a little bendy, stir-fry it up instead of throwing it out. Compost it if you must - at least your garden will reap the benefit. If your kids are whining about the cereal being mushy in the milk because of all the little crumbs at the bottom, store the crumbs and use them in your next batch of granola (bars) or cookies...they add a little extra crunch. Trust me.

Get creative. Use it all up.

Waste less. Dream more.

Have fun. Involve the kids.

Branch out (seriously...pretzels broken into granola bars with bran cereal?!).

Be. Good. Stewards. With. What. You. Have.

And as a side note, I found this site tonight and can't wait to give it a little more attention tomorrow...enjoy!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

One Month

One month since that incredibly amazing call. It seems in many ways as surreal as the day we got the it's still a dream. In other ways I feel as though I've been staring at her photo for forever. Like it was meant to be on the wall and has always been there. She is meant for us.

Come on court!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Mama's Time Out

I hit the Sidney Market opening night on Thursday with a great friend. It was awesome. I love markets - I especially love what the mean, how they smell and sound, who they represent.

To me it screams the turning of a (seasonal) page. It marks the start of something new. It's the reminder of long days, flip flops, the smell of sunscreen, (and street meat if you had been a fly on a wall in Sidney,) and home grown, fair trade, down to earth, ground roots goodness.

The shrieks of small children playing on the (closed) main street, the street musicians, the smell (oh! the smell) of cotton candy, kettle corn, roasted nuts, hot dogs, donuts, handmade soaps, homegrown flowers and produce, handmade jams and jellies and chutneys and pestos. (It was one of those times food intolerances proved helpful...I could have walked away hundreds of dollars poorer and dozens of pounds heavier. I mean really, who in their right mind can resist kettle corn or freshly made donuts?!)

Local farmers, residents, shop owners alike, come together and work to bring together community and share in the luxury of being outdoors in community.

I held back at all the stalls (shocker, I'm sure - I was gifted with a few yummy items though!) with the exception of one that returned that lump to my throat and tear to my eye. Freeset was there. I'd never heard of them but now that I know them I am in love and in awe. I can't do better unless I know better and these guys are certainly doing their part to help.

And my bag is pretty darn cool, too.