Sunday, November 28, 2010

36 hours... and counting...

36 hours until our first flight leaves!... and we begin yet another leg on this miraculous journey!!!
4 days until we meet the precious one who's picture we fell in love with 4 months ago... until we hold her in our arms and cuddle her close and long to never let go...

5 days until we appear in court... until we prayerfully become the legal Mommy & Daddy to God's chosen beauty for our family!
And... 5 days...
... until we say goodbye to our sweatheart
... with a promise to return
... and to never leave her again!
We cherish your prayers for our family:
* For safe, healthy travels...
* For a sweet first meeting with our daughter!
* For all our paperwork to be in perfect order...
* For God's grace and goodness to be with us in court...
* For us to hear the precious words "She is yours!"
* For our children at home and those caring for them to have fun, be blessings to each other, and for a wonderful reunion for us all!
* For emotional peace and understanding as we continue to wait for the FINAL trip to bring our sweet baby girl home!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A look at love...

I have seen "love" come to our home in so many forms...

This is what love looks like from a dear "giggle sister" in
New Jersey...

This is what love looks like from a women's bible study group in
Portland, OR...


This is what loves looks like from childhood friends now in
Arizona...


This is what love looks like from a preschool in
Verboort, Oregon



This is what loves looks like from a couple with a heart for God's kids in
Sherwood, Oregon




This is what loves looks like from a 1st and 3rd grade class in
Enumclaw, Washington


Here is LOVE all bundled up and ready for delivery...
Blessed by 150 pounds of LOVE...


Thank you to everyone!
You have touched our hearts deeply!
Your impact will cross the nations!
And God... I am sure He is smiling... as His children have taken care of "the least of these"!
Are we still collecting?... You bet!
That's the beauty of 2 trips!!!



Thursday, October 14, 2010

Leavin' on a jet plane!

Ok... not yet! (How about in 46 days????) God has blessed us with a court date of December 3rd! We are so excited to be traveling with another local family and 5 other families from our agency! We plan to have a party in Frankfurt where we all seem to be landing before our last leg to Addis.


What a journey we are on. Even having "been there/done that", I still can't imagine what it will be like to meet our sweet daughter, to hold her in our arms, to stand before a judge and say "Yes!!!", and then leave our sweet love behind as the paperwork is completed. God has made my heart so "soft" and yet... He is making it "strong" through these adoption journeys. A strong, soft heart... but still not a patient one!... tee... hee...


It's been an incredible week on the adoption front! Friends from across the nation have received referrals, court dates, updates on court decrees. And, so tender to our heart was a referral to our very good friends who live in our same small town. We've determined our baby girls will be BFF and we may just have to dress them as twins! tee... hee... Thank you God for blessing us with families to process this journey together.


It's also been a heart-warming week. We were lovingly surprised by a beautiful couple who donated a huge box of donations for the children of Ethiopia! I posted our thankfulness on Facebook and friends across the nation have responded wanting to help as well... friends I haven't seen since highschool, friends in New York, Arizona... local friends! What a sweet blessing to see His children stand up to take care of His children! We are so thankful for the generous hearts and kindness we have witnessed this week!


And now... for a touch of lightheartedness...


This is a "classic" Reece family shot... you simply couldn't capture us any more "real" than this!

Beautiful 2-year-old princess!

Crazy hair night at AWANA's... my bug boy went all out with a super cool "do"! :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Finally! The Referral Post... Labor Emotions Involved!!!

Every adoptive family has their own story re: "the call". Here is ours!
August 2nd, 2010 -"The Call!" came at just before 3:00 pm!
We were given the referral of a 5-month baby girl!
Hubby receives the next call... it's time to come home... we're in labor!!!
And indeed it was!!!....

Here I am... laptop in hand... ready to see the pictures of our baby girl!

Time picture taken: 4:23 PM (Time elapsed: 1 hour 23 minutes)

(I had already exercised GREAT patience waiting for hubby to come home!)...


Ok... we are hidden away in the nursery...

Kiddos are watching Dora downstairs... here we go!

Time picture taken: 4:24 PM (Time elapsed: 1 hour 24 minutes)




Hmm... no e-mail... WHAT! It's been an hour and a half since the call...

Hit REFRESH a thousand times... (my poor laptop)...

and call our sweet social worker a hundred times...

Her outbox shows the e-mail is on it's way.... Cyberspace show me my baby!!!!

Time picture taken: 4:32 pm (Time elapsed... 1 hour 32 minutes)


At this point, I thought I may very well lose my mind!

The reality is... something is not working right...

We later find out that the files were HUGE and our sweet social worker, once she had commuted home, broke down the HUGE file into many small e-mails...

In the mean-time, Dora is done, the kiddos need food and I still haven't seen my baby!!!

Time picture taken: 4:55 PM (Time Elapsed... 1 hour 55 minutes)

Dinner is done, hit REFRESH one more time... FINALLY, the e-mails start showing up!!!

We retreat back to the nursery while leaving our kiddos in the capable hands of Veggie Tales this time...

Time picture taken: 6:56 PM (Time Elapsed... 3 hours 56 minutes)


Our sweet girl!
We see your big, beautiful eyes!!!
Your pouty lips and kissable cheeks!
We are in love!
You were so worth the wait!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A new perspective on "The Call"...

The internet has definitely been an awesome tool that God has used in my life! First and foremost, He used it to help me meet my Prince Charming! Indeed! Amen! Secondly, He has used it to connect me to people all over the United States with hearts for adoption and His precious children... even connecting us with a wonderful new family living just down the street that, honestly, we may never have met otherwise! What a sweet answer to prayer!

Today our adoption Yahoo! group was buzzing with activity! Travel dates being assigned, people passing court, and referrals! There was so much wonderful joy being shared. But the green bug of envy caught me AGAIN! Where was "our call"? "Oh my, we've been skipped over!" (Simply due to the fact that God has called all of our families to different genders/age ranges/medical conditions, etc.) "But... STILL!" (can you hear the sad whining going on.... oh dear...)

Then I recalled a sweet conversation we had with our new friends... and was reminded that we said "yes" to His calling... openly and with all our hearts... yet, nothing is absolute. His plans are His plans. His timing is His timing. I suddenly realized, the call we are waiting for is HIS!

I have found such relief in that! Yes, oh, yes, I'm still excited to hear from our awesome social worker... but now, when she calls... in reality it is God using her as an instrument of His voice and plan for our family! Sweet!

So, green bug of envy... you aren't welcome anymore! Let the joyful waiting continue...

And in the meantime.. Thank you God for this incredibly beautiful sunshine, for the amazing family you've given me, for an incredible week of Kidfest VBS (and the energy to withstand monitoring 100 or so preschoolers during recreation time!), for awesome giggle times with my kids and for new friends who love You and gently remind me of Your love!... I am so very blessed indeed!

Shani with one of our new friends... sweet Eliza!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Joyously waiting...

How's the waiting going? Well, while my intentions were wonderful... to wait peacefully as the Lord reveals His will and timing... however, my heart and mind are struggling every now and then to stay at peace.


The reason is simple... it's the realization that the sweet baby girl God intends to be a part of our family is undoutedly alive! Do we know her name? Have we seen her face? No, but God does and has and has her wrapped in His loving arms and protection even as I write this!


For those who have not been a part of the adoption community, these emotions are so hard to describe and understand. There is an expectant joy, wondering if today will be the day the call comes! With that is an indescribable ache... wondering if today or tomorrow or next week or next month will be when the call comes!


I ordered t-shirts from another adoptive family's fundraiser and received them in the mail today. I cried reading one of the "stamps" on the package... "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." Martin Luther King Jr. That couldn't describe our journey more perfectly. We asked God when we should start our adoption process. We took the first step when we felt His calling. Though, like a spiraling staircase, we can't see the rest of the "steps" ahead of us, He knows.


Until He reveals the next "step", we wait joyously... enjoying the family He has already blessed us so abundantly with...



Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord...

Some of the lyrics from one of my favorite praise songs right now... "Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord... as we wait upon the Lord... as we wait upon the Lord."

A waiting heart. That's what I'm praying the Lord continues to give me... a joy-filled waiting heart. (I've stopped praying for patience as that is WAY too easily tested... tee... hee...). So, I've decided to take a "Daily Waiting Journey" and blog a bit about it!... because we are all waiting for something... right? So here we go!

"Yet those who WAIT for the Lord WILL gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not get tired. They will walk and not become weary." Isaiah 40:31 (NASB)

Now I don't have a clue who the Rev Theory is but I've got to say that he has summed up this waiting game pretty well! (And please don't hold me responsible for other articles I haven't read of his!!! tee... hee...) But, this one is worth a looksee... Check it out...

http://therevtheory.com/2009/03/08/strength-will-rise-as-we-wait-upon-the-lord/

At this point, we know God has called us to travel to Ethiopia twice now to be united with our baby girl; a sweet baby we have not yet seen pictures of or even know if she is in existence. But, we know that with new laws put into place as of May 1st, we will travel once to meet our daughter and go through court proceedings to formally adopt her. Then somehow in God's perfect will, He will strengthen our hearts and minds as we say goodbye to our sweet pea and wait until we are told we can return to pick her up and bring her home (a second trip).

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord for our referral, our court date, our travel dates, meeting our child, our embassy appointment... and as we leave our sweet kiddos here at home not once now, but twice.

See why I like that verse... those who wait on the Lord will gain NEW strength... strength we don't even have yet! Sweet! God is good and so faithful to provide!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Waiting Mother's Heart...

Ah yes... "waiting"... I've been thinking a lot lately about what that really means and what that has looked life, especially in my adult life. How I've yearned for things, right here, right now. How I've planned for things. And, yet, how God had me wait. Wait. Wait.

My plan: married at 23, first kiddo at 25, and 2nd kiddo... certainly by 30 (I didn't want to be too old when I was having a young family). God's plan... wait! Wait for the one love He had chosen for me. But, it would have been so much easier if he would have just whispered, "Precious child, you'll meet him when you are 28, please don't despair." But, would I have truly found comfort in those precious words or would I have then argued "28? But that means we won't have our first child until I'm (AH! horrors!) 30!" Wait... child... wait.

Our China adoption: it would be just an 18 month wait. 6 months of paperwork... then the wait lengthens and lengthens... and God says "wait"... and then... "I have another plan that you won't even believe I have in store for you." Not China... but Ethiopia!

More paperwork, waiting for a referral of a beautiful baby, waiting for court, waiting for travel... at last we are a family!

God ends our wait for China after 2.89 years... after a lot of waiting... and a lot of praying...

As we begin our 2nd Ethiopian adoption I can't stop thinking about "waiting". And, what is it that we are waiting for?

* We are waiting to see God's plan for our family unfold.

* We are waiting to see the precious girl He alone has picked to join us in this life.

* We are waiting on His timing. Through our first amazing journey of international adoption we learned that all we could really "control" is when we start the journey. Leaving the rest completely in His hands and having us expectantly wait... THAT is His plan.

* We are waiting to see His plan for OUR FAMILY, not comparing our journey to other families, but waiting to see what He has in store for US.

* We are expectantly waiting... a joyous addition... whom we can pour our love and lives into!

And yet... in the beautiful land of Ethiopia, where we witnessed first hand the amazing love of it's people and of God and His Spirit living among them so purely... we know...

* There is extreme famine... there is poverty... there is hardship we could not bear...

And as we wait... at this very moment...
* There may be a beautiful mother waiting for her child to be born, unsure of how to care for her and/or fearful that she may not even survive the birth herself...

* There may be a father looking in the eyes of his baby girl right now; waiting for help, waiting for answers, waiting for hope...

* There may be a mother or father making a long journey... on a long, dusty road... the hardest journey, with the most difficult decision he/she has ever faced... giving up his/her child because they simply can't help her survive.

* There may be a baby girl laying alone, abandoned, only under God's watchful eye... right now...

We are waiting for the God of Heaven and Earth to reach down and make His purpose known.

For us, international adoption is so much more than a "paperwork pregnancy". It is a journey of life: of our lives, of a Ethiopian family's lives, and of God blending the families into one because it is somehow, his good and perfect will... It is heart-breaking and joy-filling all at the same time!

These are the words in my heart. A waiting mother's heart...

Psalm 130:5... "I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope."

"Officially WAITING"...

Yes! It's official! We are officially on the wait list for our next baby girl! The kids and Mommy went and visited our awesome social worker at Holt to pick up our completed home study... the last step in our paperwork needed to complete our dossier (all the paperwork required to be considered for international adoption). Yeah Kathie! Thanks for showing us around your office and all your fun animals from Ethiopia!


I know it's a bit blurry... but I love this picture of Shani... as if to say "Thank you... I'll take this from here!"
Then, it was off to the state capitol to have the documents state certified. Unfortunately, my on-line mapping did not take me where I needed to go, however, fortunately it was my third to the office (tee... hee... ), so with a little detective work, we found our way to where we needed to go!

We sent off our paperwork and it was received and approved by Holt! So, yes, we are waiting! Hmm... that's a topic for another post...

Jesus is Risen! Yes, indeed!

Yep... Easter... one year ago! Crazy how fast they grow and how blessed we are that their love for one other just seems to be keeping right up!


I love these kiddos! All dressed up and looking like the precious angels they are...


This easter will be one that will remain in our memories for a long time! Watching Shani's first Easter Egg hunt was of course very precious! And, Micah hunting for eggs so methodically... well, it was just so NOT his typical self, it still makes me giggle.
But, the sweetest blessing was hearing from our children's pastor that Micah had come forward at the end of Sunday school to profess his belief in Jesus. Yes, he's only four and yes, we have taught him to the love the God who has made him, and our family and all the beautiful things (especially bugs) that he loves so much.
Micah has enjoyed praying since he was very little. In fact, the Christmas right before he turned 3, he prayed over our large family meal and thanked God for each person at the table by name... including my Great Uncle Al whom he had just met.
This Easter, Micah prayed at the meal as well... and there was hardly a dry eye when he was through... it went something like this... "Dear Jesus, Thank you for this day of celebration. And God thank you for your Son who loves us even when we are bad. Thank you that he isn't on the cross anymore but is alive! And Dear God, thank you for my family. I love you. Amen." Yep, so cool! You are one AWESOME 4-year-old buddy!
And, Great Grandma, Grammie, Papa O. & Dodo thanks for making the special trip up to share Easter dinner with us! What fun! We love you!!!

Family Fun...

It's time to catch up on blogging... so what better way than to share my favorite recent picture of me and my love... cute aren't we? :) Helping to lead AWANA's at church sure makes you do crazy things! But, what joy we have every week in serving the Lord together, being a little nutty with our puppets, and hearing the children react joyfully and watch as they hide God's words in their hearts!


We surprised the kiddos with a project early this spring. Papa O. brought up his super cool saw and his industrial strength drill. Micah had no idea what they were working on, but loved that he got to help! Dad... you displayed amazing patience and gentleness in teaching Micah... and I was blessed to watch from afar!


The result of the weekend project brought lots of smiles! And now, rain or shine, the littlest of ours wants to swing!

And the biggest of ours... what a perfect way to get that awesome energy out!

Thank you Papa O. and Daddy for all your hard work! We love our backyard park!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

It's fun bein' green!!!

For St. Patrick's Day, Micah and Teddy (his bring-home-friend from pre-school) had a science experiment with food coloring. A few drops here, a few drops there... and wallah! 6 different colors of cake batter. Then Mommy sent them off to nap (otherwise known as "cuddle time") and when they "woke up"... they were excited to find rainbow cupcakes and a special message...

Remember: "Jesus is the real Pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow."

And the surprises continued at dinner... to Micah's delight nearly everything was GREEN, his favorite color! Green milk, green applesauce, green rice (Mommy HOW did you DO that?), and chicken with green sauce!


We finished the day with a walk to the park (where the yummy rainbow cupcakes were inhaled... I mean "eaten") and then watched the short Veggie Tale clip of St. Patrick and his lessons on the Trinity with the Shamrock.
Such a fun day with our preschooler... who also, thanks to a vivid imagination, made sure that we all wore green so as to not be pinched by miniscule leprechauns that were supposedly hiding in our carpet! Love that boy!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lookin' Good...

Tonight is Crazy Hat Night at AWANA's, so with a little extra time while Micah was at school today, Shani and I found ourselves at Party City. Something was confirmed that I had previous suspisions of! The girl LOVES hats! I laughed and giggled out loud as she pranced around in hat after hat for over 1/2 an hour. Her final choice... Oh... just look at those eyes!!!



And for brother? A matching hat in blue of course!


Unrelated to the hat excursion... but also about lookin' good... check out this pic from our most recent trip to the zoo. What a stud! Ha!



Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Time for Everything...

A Time for Everything: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace
.

February 27th... This will be a date that will be in our family's hearts and minds forever. February 27, 2009 - We arrive in Oregon with sweet baby Shani in our arms... forever a part of our family! February 27, 2010 - We say goodbye to Great Grandpa Howard... we will miss you so very much... you are now forever safe in the arms of Jesus!


I was priviledged to be present when Grandpa took his last breath and that time together and the accompanying emotions as family will never leave my heart. Grandpa you touched us all deeply in life and you touched us deeply in your journey out of life. For days your children and wife never left your side, yearning to be near you, give you comfort and find comfort ourselves. Then in God's sweet timing He took you home.

One quick story... many years ago, Grandpa was on the local news station as they did a story about him and some silly geese behind his house. He had a white truck in the pasture and one of the geese became quite attached. So, every time Grandpa would get into the truck, the goose would follow him... chase him... silly goose.... the faster Grandpa drove the faster the goose would run until it flew. Yesterday evening, David was in the same field with the kids while the rest of us were with Grandpa. Just moments before Grandpa's spirit left us, David called to tell me that Shani was chasing geese, saying "geese" and "helping them fly". My dad beckoned me to come back to the room as I was talking to David... and moments later, Grandpa "flew".

Thank you Jesus for your sweet timing, sweet embrace, and loving kindness...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

In just a year...

It is amazing to sit here and think back to this day a year ago, February 20th, 2009... the day we held our daughter in our arms for the very first time. To think of how deep our love was for her at that very moment and how much it has only continued to grow... how tiny and precious she was, how trusting and loving her sweet eyes were as we lovingly gazed into them.



To think of the beautiful country of Ethiopia, how we fell in love with the beauty of it's people, the land, it's rich Christian history. How the mere mention of "Ethiopia" stirs our hearts with longing, gratitude and anticipation. How deep a mother's love to share with us the precious gift of Shani's life... we are forever grateful... there truly are no appropriate words to express these emotions.



We feel so abundantly blessed by the gifts God has given us in our children!


Now for a family update...


We have been diligently praying and seeking as to how God would continue to grow our family. As many of you know we began the journey of adoption in March of 2007 following God's precious call for us to grow our family through the miracle of adoption and to begin paperwork for a baby girl from China, a dream that I had had since a child. As the timelines for China lengthened, God called us on a "second journey"... to adopt from Ethiopia and bring home our beautiful daughter Shani.

Even while in Ethiopia, we both felt God preparing our hearts and leading us to come back to this amazing country. I remember sitting in the van, driving down the streets of Ethiopia and David telling our traveling companions that he could see us coming back to adopt again. I was speechless but in my heart I was in total agreement.
But, what about China? That was our prayer. God, why did you lead us to adopt from China and then seemingly close the door? After diligent prayer, His answer was clear: China was a bridge to Ethiopia. He had put such a strong desire in my heart for adoption and specifically adopting from China that when He softened David's heart to adoption, the only country in our mind was China. However, His plan for us was a bit different... and His plans are ALWAYS best!!! Had the timelines not lengthened for China, our sweet Shani would not be a part of our lives. How amazing are His plans!

In our hearts and minds we have gone through a process of letting go and, in a sense, mourning the loss of "Emma Mei". At the same time we began rejoicing in the amazing calling He has made clear to us: that we are to return to Ethiopia to complete our family! And that is exactly what we have begun to do!

As of January 27th, 2010, our China file was officially closed (after a mere 1,039 days or 2.89 years in process!!!) and simultaneously, our 2nd Ethiopian adoption began. We are slowly, but excitedly, gathering our paperwork (sure is easier the 3rd time around!!!) and as for a timeline... we have learned (very clearly) through the last process... it is in His hands... Praise the Lord! Perhaps next spring? Hmm...

Our first step was fingerprinting at the court house... and the experience was priceless! Micah loved watching the process (Shani was a wee bit tired that day) and afterwards, one of the ladies gave Micah a teddy bear to remember the first step in bringing his new baby sister home.



Micah named his bear "Rolo" because her coloring is kind of a mixture of chocolate and caramel (and everything has to be named after candy these days!!!) and to remember how they "rolled Mommy and Daddy's fingers". Too cute!



How sweet the journey will be... we don't plan to name our sweet baby girl until we receive our referral... however, the name Emma is still close to our hearts. After telling my (Shana's) parents of our plan to return to Ethiopia, the very next place we went was Toys R Us for a surprise for the kids, when what did we find... the sweetest African-American doll (that truly has Ethiopian features!!! and looks a LOT like Shani). She melted our hearts. Her given name on the box... "Emma". Perhaps just coincidence or a sweet whisper of confirmation from God... she just HAD to come home with us.



Again we invite you to join us on our adoption journey and enjoy our new blog... The Journeys of the Reece's Pieces!