Friday, December 30, 2011

The Hard and Beautiful Truth . . .

Quick Update

I have so, so many thoughts and feelings swirling through my head and heart these past few days.  Still trying to process and write them out in some coherent manner.  As soon as I can find 5 minutes to do that, I will share with you here.  Adoption before kids arrive is such a consuming experience of anticipation.  After . . . well . . . after is where reality sets it.  Raw, real, heartbreaking, heart-exploding-full-of-love reality.

For now, the kids really enjoyed the brief snow day.  Woke up to a blanket of white exclaiming, "Beh REH doh, beh REH doh!!!"  (Sounds like bear- REH-do with the 'r' rolling off the tongue like a Spanish 'r'.)  We're pretty sure they've never actually seen or felt or tasted snow, but have heard about it and seen photos from traveling families who have visited the Transition Home.  Pretty cool to see it their first week home.

Phoebe hamming it up for the camera.  Loads of personality.

Ben.  This boy spent the ENTIRE day outside.  When the snow got boring, he came in, put on shorts, went back out and rode a bike for about 3 hours straight.  He and Jesse spent two full days - no breaks - teaching themselves to ride a bike.  They'd never seen or ridden one, but for some reason their image of America included bikes and they couldn't wait to give it a try.  After two days, lots of falls, and incredible tenacity, they both mastered it. :-)


And then we have Georgia.  Or Cindy Lou Who as we like to call her.  Not amused with her sister pointing the camera at her endlessly.  A twelve-year-old trapped in a two-year-old body.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Oh Where, Oh Where is All Their Hair???

Got some new photos today from Olivia.  Girls looking good, hair is starting to grow out a little (can't wait to start playing with styles for them).  Here is older daughter - she'll be turning 7 pretty soon  . . .

Pheobe Asrat - 6 1/2

And then . . . we have the boys.  This photo was taken on our court trip . . . .

Hair's a good length.  Easy to wash, not too hot.  A nice length.

Here are their photos from this week in Ethiopia.  Seems the nannies line up the big boys and have a group haircut day . . .

Benjamin Abebe - 9 1/2
(I think this hair cut makes him look much older!)

Jesse Fasikal - 12

(Told Rob this week that he got the scar from climbing a mountain.  Fell and somehow on the way down, hit his nose/eye area.  He said that God saved his eyesight, so it must have been a pretty nasty fall.) 

Back to Ethiopia for Our Embassy Appointment!

Rob and Olivia flew out Sunday morning at 5:50 a.m. to go get our kids!  Our embassy appointment was today (Tuesday) at 1:00 p.m. Ethiopia time, and we PASSED!  Rob was able to get a lot of good information on the kids' history, some medical questions answered and take the kids out to eat for lunch.  This was their FIRST EVER time to eat in a restaurant and maybe their first time to use a fork!  Crazy, but in Ethiopia the traditional meal is eaten with your hands and it is likely that's all they've ever eaten.  They were pretty talented right off the bat and enjoyed showing off their fork skills for Dad.  :-)

Tomorrow they'll get a chance to spend one last day with their friends and nannies, one last night sleeping in their beds at the Transition Home and then, on Thursday morning, they will be with Rob until they board the plane.  I have to tell you all that the scene of them saying goodbye continually plays in my head.  Shedding a lot of tears these past few days.  This has been their home and family for the past year and while they are coming to a family that loves them, this will be one more time of losing people they love and of saying goodbye forever.  So much wrenching heartache that braids itself throughout the joy.  Such a complicated, beautiful, horrible reality adoption is.

We would be so thankful for prayers for them.  This is surely all very exciting for them, but we also know that inside they have to be scared to death and so uncertain of what's to come.  If eating in a restaurant and using utensils is new, can you imagine all they will have to acclimate to once in the U.S.?  We are going to be very diligent about taking it slow with them and giving them time to adjust.  We would really love specific prayers that they would learn English quickly and be able to communicate their feelings to us. 

This is a forever home, but it will take some time to bond as a family, get used to America, and grieve.  For the next couple of months we will be hanging out very close to home.  Probably won't see us at church for a while, probably won't be seeing us much at all.  This seems really severe, but all the good literature on adoption AND families who have gone before, advise that it is critical that we bond well at the outset to help with success long-term as a family.  In the context of the rest of their lives, a few months seems not so long.  We have appreciated so much - do appreciate - all the kindness shown to us by so many of you. We pray everyone will be understanding of our decision and patient with them as they graft into the Thomas family.

Our good friend Tracy has set up a meal schedule at .  If you are interested in helping us out in this way, please email me and I will get you the login information.  We don't expect this, but many people have asked if they could bless us this way, and the answer is yes!  I have no idea what to expect in the next few weeks, but imagine it will be challenging and not having to plan meals and grocery shop will help this mama a ton.

I am hoping to post more photos soon.  Olivia promises to put her photography skills to use today (at midnight our time, they are just going down to eat breakfast (8:00 a.m.) and preparing for their day.)  The plan today is to stick close to the Transition Home, spend time with our kids and the kids still waiting on their forever families to come.

Susannah Konjit - 3 1/2 years

Hope you all take time today and the next few to focus on Christ and the true beauty of this season.  Slow down, pray up and enjoy.

Love you all . . .

Monday, December 19, 2011

Advent Reading - Day 14

Mark 1:1-11

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was lucusts and wild honey.

And he was preaching, and saying, "After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals.

"I baptize you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens:  "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased." (NASB)

Advent Reading - Day 13

John 1:10-18

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God -- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John testifies concerning him.  He cries out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'"  From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.

Advent Reading - Day 12

John 1:1-9

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John.  He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe.  He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.  The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

Notice that Jesus is called "the light" seven times in this short passage.  Now, as John is showing us Christ as both man AND deity, he uses the word "light" to explain that Jesus is like a beacon, showing us the WAY.  We will know Him because He is completely opposite from the darkness around Him.  John wants us to be sure that we don't miss Him!  Jesus represents the light of wisdom, the light of recognition about who God is, and the light of eternal life.  John (the disciple) also mentions the forerunner, John the Baptist, who will reflect Christ but not BE the light.  Many people wondered if John the Baptist was the Savior and John 1:6-8 clarifies that Jesus is the ONE, the LIGHT.  -

Advent Reading - Day 11

Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.  The virgin's name was Mary.  The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you."

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the holy one to be born will be called Son of God.  Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.  For nothing is impossible with God."

"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered.  "May it be to me as you have said."  Then the angel left her. (NIV)

Advent Reading - Day 10

Luke 1:11-25

Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.  When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.  But the angel said to him:  "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard.  Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.  He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.  He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.  Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God.  And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous -- to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this?  I am an old man and my wife is well along in years."

The angel answered, "I am Gabriel.  I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.  And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."

Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple.  When he came out, he could not speak to them.  They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

When his time of service was completed, he returned home.  After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion.  "The Lord has done this for me," she said.  "In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.:" (NIV)

Advent - Day 9 (Yes, I'm Behind!)

Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God,
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins.

A voice of one calling; "In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.  And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it.  For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain.  You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, "Here is your God!"  See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him.  See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.  He tends his flock like a shepherd:  He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. (NIV)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Have You Ever Wondered . . .

. . . if those sponsor kids are really real?  Is it really true that $34.00 a month is all it takes to feed and educate a child in a poor country?

I am writing tonight to advocate for a particular program called Children's Hopechest.  You can find their button on the left side of the blog if you scroll down a little.  We have been sponsoring a little boy through CH for a little over a year now.  Last year, if you remember, Rob went to Ethiopia to help out with several projects at a Children's Hopechest carepoint  - Trees of Glory.  The little boy we sponsor attended the school there and we were both really excited to meet him in person and take him a care package.  When Rob met him, he (Abush) cried most of the time, barely talked to anyone and was visibly a scared, sad little boy.  He was found alone and wandering the streets when he was 4 years old - a full orphan - and except for the dedicated people at Trees of Glory and an elderly woman who now cares for him, he is alone in the world.  He wanted nothing to do with Rob and when one of the teachers at the carepoint asked him what was wrong, he told him he knew Rob wouldn't ever come back.  His heart had been broken and abandoned and he had no interest in playing that game again.  How much can one little heart endure?  Rob had a very difficult time leaving him and we have prayed for him and worried about him ever since.

These photos are from last year . . .

What I want to share with you is this . . . YES. YES. YES!!!  Sponsoring a child makes a VERY real difference in their lives.  We have been so blessed because Rob and three of our kids have been able to meet our sponsor child and able to visit with him AGAIN this year when we went to Ethiopia for our court trip.  Since he began attending Trees of Glory, he has been receiving meals and schooling each day for the past year  AND, he has been able to do that because we sponsor him for a mere $34.00 per month.  Seriously.  I haven't thought much about that money this past year - haven't even missed it - and truthfully, I haven't thought a ton about how it might be helping or what it was really meaning to him.  I've thought a TON about him, but the money, not so much.

What has the price of a few drinks at Starbucks given him?  A chance.  A chance to eat regular meals.  A chance to learn to read.  A chance to have something of a family - a community of friends - and loving adults at the carepoint who know him and love him and NOTICE him.  And most of all, a chance to not have to wander about in a dark night, foraging for food, terrified of every sound and movement in the darkness with no mommy or daddy to hold him, or worry about him, or love him.

This year, the day after I flew home, Rob was able to hire a driver to take him back up to Trees of Glory.  It so beautifully happened to be the same day a team of people from the U.S. - some of whom had been there last year - was arriving to work and visit with the children.  (you can read more about that at .)  When he got there, he looked high and low and across the field he spotted him!  And WOW, what a difference a year makes.  What a difference a tiny bit of money and a whole lot of prayers and knowing - believing - that somewhere across the world, someone loves you and is thinking of you and CARES how you are doing.  And all of that makes one very important difference - it brings HOPE back into your life, and the world looks very different from the vantage point of hope.  Very different from the one of despair you knew such a short time ago.  He was full of life and laughter and HAPPY to see Rob.

And here is the same darling boy the day after Rob flew home, opening his care package from us . . .

Is he not the most handsome little man you've ever seen?  Just sayin'.  And yes, we are both still praying for God to make a way for him to join our family.  The twelfth man.  :-)

If you've ever thought about sponsoring a child, PLEASE don't hesitate.  Don't think so long that you never act.  If you want more information on Children's Hopechest, PLEASE send me an email.  I would be THRILLED to help you get in contact with the right people.  Children's Hopechest has sponsor programs all over the world wherever the need is great.  Of course . . . my heart is slightly partial to Ethiopia!  :-)


Advent Reading - Day 9

Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins.

A voice of one calling:  "In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.  And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it.  For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain.  You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, "Here is your God!"  See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him.  See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.  He tends his flock like a shepherd:  He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.  (NIV)

Fun Way to Count Down and Advent Reading - Day 8

In addition to our traditional Advent celebration, I have tried for the past several years to make some sort of fun 'count-down' to Christmas for our kids.  This year went like this . . .

I went to Michaels and picked up some small paper sacks (they have several sizes - make sure to get ones that will hold enough treats for your kiddos), sheets of number stickers (you'll need enough numbers to go from 1 to 25), wooden clothes pins (the kind with the metal spring) and ribbon (you can pick from hundreds of designs and widths).

Once you're back home with your goodies, lay out 25 sacks and start numbering . . . 1 all the way through 25 . . .

Next, fill the bags with all sorts of little treats - one for each of your children.  I usually buy several kinds of fun Christmas candy (Home Goods surprisingly sells some really fun and different candy).  In the past I've also used little toys (cheap ones!) and even coins.  The key is to go on the cheap.  This should be just a little fun moment in the day and definitely shouldn't get out of hand on the expense end!  I always try to find gold wrapped chocolate coins for Chrismas morning. 

Once the bags are all filled, find a good place to hang the ribbon.  For us, it has to be a fairly long span because the bag size has to be a little bigger to accomodate seven pieces.  This year, I hung it across the center rail of a picture window.

Bright and fun and almost the first thing the kids see when they come down the stairs.  This window is in the eating area of our kitchen.  We start at #25 and count backwards to #1.  That helps the littles know how many days are left until Christmas.  I try to save the really good treats for the days just leading up to Christmas.  :-)  Can't wait to share this tradition with the new kids!

Advent Reading - Day 8 (Second Sunday of Advent)

Today, we light the first candle - the Prophecy candle - and also begin lighting the Bethlehem (purple) candle.  The Bethlehem candle represents the preparations made for the coming Christ child.  It can also be called the "Preparation" candle. 

"Bethlehem is an appropriate place to signify preparation because, even though no room was available for Mary and Joseph when they came, God had orchestrated events so that Caesar Augustus called for a census to be taken.  Joseph and Mary had to leave Nazareth so that they could register in Bethlehem and the Scriptures below were fulfilled.

"One of the key characters associated with this week in Advent is John the Baptist because he prepares the way for Jesus.  He takes us from the prophecies of old and into the time of Jesus.  this week, we are one step closer, as God's hand moves in history to bring His Son to us . . . and us to Him."  -

Keep in mind that this prophecy was given 700 years before the birth of Christ! 

Micah 5:2-5

"But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity."

Therefore He will give them up until the time
When she who is in labor has borne a child.
Then the remainder of His brethren
Will return to the sons of Israel.

And He will arise and shepherd His flock
In the strength of the LORD,
In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God.
And they will remain,
Because at that time He will be great
To the ends of the earth.

This One will be our peace. (NASB)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Advent Reading - Day 7

This is the last day of Prophecy week in Advent.  These verses from Malachi and Luke foretell the coming of John the Baptist, who was the final prophet to tell of the coming Messiah . . .

Malachi 3:1

"Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me.  And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming," says the LORD of hosts.

Luke 1:67-79

And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:  "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.  He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us -- to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham:  to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.  And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace." (NIV)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Advent Reading - Day 6 (Friday)

These three particular verses tie into one of the beautiful descriptions of our Lord.  He is the morning star!  "It is very meaningful that God uses a star to show both shepherds and the magi the way to the baby Jesus.  In Matthew 2:2, the magi even ask, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?  For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him."  They knew the prophecies about the Messiah and took the star as a sign - THE sign - for them."  -

Numbers 24:17, 19

I shall see him, but not now:  I shall behold him, but not nigh:  there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.

Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion . . . (KJV)

Revelation 22:16

I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches.  I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.

II Peter 1:19

And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. (NIV)

Advent Reading - Day 5

"Both of today's verses share a simple truth about the birth of Christ.  God sent Him at the perfect time!  It was the perfect time in history and God maneuvered events so that Jesus would be born in fulfillment of prophecy and His promises.."  -

Galatians 4:4-5

But when the fullness of
the time came, God sent
forth His Son, born of a
woman, bor under the
Law, so that He might
redeem those who were
under the Law, that we
might receive the adoption
as sons. (NASB)

Ephesians 1:9-12

And He made known to us
the mystery of His will
according to His good
pleasure, which He
purposed in Christ, to be
put into effect when the
times will have reached
their fulfillment - to bring
all things in heaven and on
earth together under one
head, even Christ.  In Him
we were also chosen,
having been predestined
according to the plan of
Him who works out
everything in conformity
with the purpose of His
will, in order that we, who
were the first to hope in
Christ, might be for the
praise of His glory. (NIV)

Advent Reading - Day 4

Daniel 9:24-27

"Seventy weeks have been
decreed for your people
and your holy city, to finish
the transgression, to make
an end of sin, to make
atonement for iniquity, to
bring in everlasting
rghteousness, to seal up
vision and prophecy and to
anoint the most holy place.

"So you are to know and
discern that from the
issuing of a decree to
restore and rebuild
Jerusalem until Messiah
the Prince there will be
seven weeks and sixty-two
weeks; it will be rebuilt
again, with plaza and moat,
even in times of distress.

"Then after the sixty-two
weeks the Messiah will be
cut off and have nothing,
and the people
of the prince who is to
come will destroy the city
and the sanctuary.  And it's
end will come with a flood;
even to the end there will
be war; desolations are

"And he will make a firm
covenant with many for
one week, but in the
middle of the week he will
put a stop to sacrifice and
grain offering; and on the
wing of abominations will
come one who makes
desolate, even until a
complete destruction, one
that is decreed, is poured
out on the one who makes

*This passage is important to the Advent journey because it details an exact timeline of the events that prove Jesus is the Messiah.  Daniel 9:24-27 outlines what is known as the prophecy of the sixty-nine weeks.

"In short:  The decree of Daniel 9:25 took place on March 4 of 444 B.C. when Nehemiah was ordered to rebuild Jerusalem.  The 69 weeks of 7 years equals 483 years (173,880 days using the common prophetic calendar in which a month is always 30 days and a year equals 360 days).

"This leads to March 29, A.D. 33, the date of the Triumphal Entry when Jesus comes into Jerusalem and allows Himself to be crucified.  This is checked by noting that 444 B.C. to A.D. 33 is 476 years (Remember, there is no year "0").  476 x 365.24219 days per year = 173,855 days.  (Here we use our calendar to see if the dates in our time confirm the events as they happened on the Biblical prophetic calendar!)  Count in the extra 25 days between March 4 and March 29 of the two dates and it EQUALS 173,880 days!

"Even in the calculation of these unquestionable dates, I am humbled by the fact that our Lord's life is not confirmed by the date of his birth, but by the date of that for which he was born:  to die "but not for Himself".

- from