Thursday, November 19, 2015

Burt Family Bash 2015

Nov. 18th, 2014 Josh and I were in Ethiopia and the judge said, "Congratulations, you have a son!"  We passed court and Grayson was officially a Burt!

Holding Grayson at the Orphanage

Some families do a "Gotcha Day" celebration where they celebrate the day they brought their adopted child home.  For us, we decided to do this a little bit different.  For one, Grayson actually came home a month later on December 21st.  (The Ethiopian adoption process includes two trip; one to pass court with the Ethiopian government and another to get his visa from the US embassy). 
Grayson's first birthday was December 23rd.  Josh's birthday is on Christmas Eve, and then there was Christmas.  

With all of that in mind, we didn't want to lose this special day in the midst of all the other celebrations.  And He was technically ours in November, even though he was mine the minute I saw his face!!

We opted out of the "Gotcha Day" title as well.   Adoption is beautiful, but also sad.  We don't want Grayson to ever feel like he has to be happy about the fact he lost his first family.  Putting the focus on solely him may make him feel that pressure, or make our other kids feel not as important.  We wanted this day to be a day that we celebrate annually and the focus to be family unity and reflection on all the the Lord has done for us that year.  And so we named it Burt Family Bash!

We made Yemarina Yewotet Dabo (Ethiopian honey bread) for our Ethiopian dinner. Recipe here

Doro tibs , Mesir Wat, Tikel Gomen, Injera (from Meskerem in St. Louis)
We had a big Ethiopian meal and I cooked all of it but the injera!  The doro tibs (chicken) and tikel gomen (cabbage dish) were great!  The mesir wat (red lentils) was not the best so I didn't link a recipe.  If you have a recipe that you love please share it with me in the comments! The kids loved the honey bread best!

After dinner we headed to Bounce U for some fun!  We are all at great ages for a bounce house so that's what we chose, but if you wanted to celebrate your family (adoptive or not)  pick something you all would love!  I can't wait until they are all old enough to go to the indoor rock climbing place or play dodge ball at Sky Zone!  The possibilities are endless!

We ended the night with Dairy Queen Blizzards and an attempt to send up floating lanterns.  Blizzards yes.  Lanterns no.  The wind was not our friend and we didn't want to catch anyone's house on fire so that was a bust.  
Photo taken before the paper caught on fire and Josh had to stomp it out in the street!

We did get to pray and thank God for everything he's done for us this year.  We prayed for each child individually and for Grayson's birth mother. We prayed for our marriage and asked God to help us follow Him in the year to come.  It was a great way to end our celebration and remind all of us that our God is so good and faithful!

After the day was over my heart was so full.  This is not something only for adoptive families.  I would encourage anyone to pick a day (maybe in the summer when it's nicer out!) and celebrate.  Focus on loving each other well, just as you are.  Pray blessings over your kids.  Tell each other how you feel and praise God for all your gifts.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Humility is Always the Right Choice

The somberness that fills the air and the hushed tones in which people speak of "our world today" brings a stillness.  Initially there is fear and questions of, "What are we going to do?"  It's okay to be afraid... for a moment.  The sin only comes in when you live with the fear.  When you tuck yourself into bed at night with it.  When you let fear over-rule what God's word says.

                         "He said, "Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.'"
2 Kings 6:16

That's all we need to know.  Our emotions aren't trustworthy in times like this.

The internet does not need more opinions, so I will share one of my favorite posts on the refugee crisis and ISIS here .  My friend Lindsay draws beautiful parallels between Saul and Paul; ISIS and our once enemy souls that Christ purchased with His blood.  Go read it.  Like, right now!

Approach life with humility and take hold of this real truth; It's only by God's grace that I was born in the United States and not into poverty and war. Things get a lot more simple. Now we know what to do.

 Read the bible.  See what God's word says about the foreigner.

"The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God." NASV
Lev. 19:34

Pray.  Let's fight our part of this war on our knees because the God of angel armies can do far more than any man made army ever could. I'm not saying force is not needed, but I'm not educated well enough to speak extensively to this.  Prayer is my battleground.

Love.  Love remains forever. Souls remain forever.  Invest your energy in these things instead of fear.  People who are not hateful are taught to hate by fear.  It's not of God.

 "For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self control." ESV
2 Tim. 1:7

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Reflection on Orphan Sunday

Both Orphan Sunday and National Adoption Day have passed this week.  These days have had my heart tangled up.  Happy, devastatingly sad, grateful, motivated, discouraged; and the list goes on. In an effort to make sense of it all I'm reviving the blog!

 This time last year I felt as if I couldn't get any lower.  We were matched with our son in May, but experienced delay after delay.  Trials came as we tried to make sure we had enough to cover travel expenses and additional fees.  Some fees we didn't even know to plan for, but that tends to happen when your adoption process approaches the three year mark...

Next came setbacks in our son's health.  He was "failing to thrive" all the while his family was also "failing to thrive" as we ached for him to come home.  We were told he was hospitalized and then released two weeks later. However, while in Ethiopia we learned he was actually hospitalized for three month.  Three months.  I thought he needed me, that I was the answer.  If only they would let me travel he would be okay.  But, that wasn't the case; he needed his father.  His heavenly father was there all the time.  Before the hospital, before we were matched, before his birth mother's belly swelled with new life; God had been there. And we got to see it; but not yet.

As so, if this wasn't enough to make a mother crazy, our case was delayed over an incorrect phone number.  Two little numbers had been transposed and so our case was unable to move forward with preliminary hearings, the last step before we could receive a court date and go meet our son.  This is where I found myself last Orphan Sunday.

My social media feeds filled to the brim advocating for children.  Posts of thanksgiving, calls to action, and beautiful pictures filled my spare moments. And as I scrolled and read I started to crack.  Slowly the pain would fill my chest and then one of my girls would need me and I'd shove the hurt down and move on.  Tears would well up as I absentmindedly folded laundry and wondered, "When, oh Lord, will you let this end.  What if he never comes home?  How will my family recover if this all falls apart?  God you have to give this little boy a family.  He deserves a family!"  By the end of the day I was so drained.  I cried hot, ugly tears.  My stomach churned as my chest heaved.  No breath left to breath.  The only thing to do was sit with God in the darkness and repeat, "Joy comes in the morning."

Those weeks right before we finally received our court date, were some of the darkest I've experienced.  And yet, here I am.  God and I have another faith story in our book.  He showed up.  My mind always knew He would, but my heart wavered (alot!).  It is so sweet when God allows us to look at our valley from the mountain top.

Because of last Orphan Sunday, I can face this one.  I have my tangible, living, breathing, running, playing testament that my God is faithful.  He sees me and every orphan.  He knows just what we need and what it takes to draw us near.  I may get frustrated that not everyone has a passion for orphan care. I'm angry that the statistics on Christians and foster children don't add up, but I know my God is faithful. I want to start ministries and adopt all the children, but I know my God is sovereign.  Past memories may make me sad, but if I follow the story to the end I have so many more reasons to be glad.

The brokenness of this world is enough to send you to your bed, paralyzed by the enormity of the work that needs to be done.  But through Christ we are all equipped to do every good work that He predestined for us before the beginning of time.  Don't be afraid of the pain. We can survive pain.  Be afraid of missing out on God's calling for your life.