Friday, November 13, 2009

The Queen, (The Prince), and I

People keep asking me isn't it tough, having adopted two (older) children at the same time. For me it isn't but I truly believe that we are only given vision for those things that we have also been equipped to do.

All the vision talk aside the ride just wouldn't be nearly as much fun without both of my treasures. There is nothing like watching them interact with each other, listening to him tell me how much he loves his sister, and her saying, "Yea, I love you but no touching me and no kissing me." I watch sometimes from a distance as she gently manipulates him into thinking that her ideas are really his own and then there are those classic moments like her polishing his fingernails and toe nails and then sending him to me with pride in his eyes while she laughs knowingly in the background.

Don't be fooled by those pretty doe eyes and innocent smile. She is truly made of sugar and spice and all that nice stuff with a little don't even try that mess with me thrown in. I think back to those early days of her refusing to wear pink with purple and now watch her apply three-days worth of lipgloss (chapAstick) in one application. She has the fashion thing down now and plans many of her outfits at night making sure that the tiny speck of pink on the tiny flower at the neckline matches the the pink in her socks that will be hidden by her shoes. She is so confident in her styling ability that she even wants to dress me. If it were up to her, she and I would wear coordinating outfits everyday, matching lipstick, and carbon copy hairdos. The day she put on that wig I thought she'd never take it off. She flounced around the house throwing the hair over her shoulders and telling me that she was definitely going to wear it to school for show-and-tell. She is all girl and for as much as I love her, uh and need her to constantly and lovingly REMIND me of ALL things I seem to forget, my life with her is deeper and more colorful because I too have my young prince.

If it weren't for having two of them then I wouldn't get all those wonderfully long periods of mommy time while they find and create new ways to play. I walked into their room the other day after a 2-hour mind-my-own-business pretend getaway in my room and was so incredibly pleased and proud to see that they had pulled out a lego set giving to them by the fabulous Kristine and my princess was reading the directions and putting together the fire truck for her brother as he sat trying so hard to help her. It was funny to hear her trying to explain how he needed to be patient, "slowly" she would tell him as he tried to rush the process and just use any piece of lego he could find. I was impressed she really managed to get those 60 or 70 little pieces into a truck with lights and wheels that he is still rolling around the house.

If it were not for having both of my treasures, I would not get to experience them trying to one up each other for my attention; race to me to kiss me first; insist that I hugged one longer than the other; or hear them say, "I am your baby too!" Without two who would take up for the other or plead the other's case to me as they both often do? And, I can't tell you what it is like to see him pick up a book and take it to her knowing that she can read it to him or now that he TOO can read he will often ask her first to help him.

Were it not for having both of them I wouldn't have so many laughs listening to their conversations in the car; hearing my daughter tell him in her best sista-girl voice, "stop I'm not playing with you." Then when she gets too bossy it is him telling her, "Don't tell me. I don't listen to you I only listen to my mom." That's right baby listen to your mama.

Then there are those comments that just come out of the blue and remind me of how wonderfully blessed I am to have them. For a few days my daughter kept asking if she could have my eyes. When I'd tell her I need them to see she would tell me that I could have her eyes for trade. No amount of telling her that her eyes were much prettier would convince her. Finally, she said she wanted my eyes because, "they have already seen everything and learned it." Profound right?

Still the best of the week was driving them to school and hearing them laugh and talk about a woman they saw driving a big semi-truck. "Mommmy, that's a lady? She's driving a truck?" They both just cracked up thinking that was so ridiculous.

Me: "Ladies in America drive trucks. They can do anything."

The Princess: "Anything?"

Me: "Yea, when you grow up if you want to you can drive a truck."

The Princess: "Who? Not me?"

Me: "Well what will you be when you grow up?"

The Princess: "A teacher I think. No...I am going to be a QUEEN."

When I walked in her room last night to turn out the light, I stopped in my tracks and laughed when I saw the royal way that she was sleeping. Do you see my baby wearing an eye mask? Help me please! I had to grab my phone and take this picture. What you can't see is that these pajamas have a fluffy fur-like collar and her legs are stretched out and crossed at the ankles.

All hail the QUEEN!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I Give You Everything!

For two years I wrote this blog and now it seems I'm on a once a month diet. Waiting for the kids to arrive gave me so much time to be reflective and usually I was writing about my feelings. Now that they are here I'm enjoying living every single moment with them and rarely pause to think or write about it. There are so many special moments, how do you pick just one. For me it's been impossible but I did want to share this little story.

My son is extremely talkative. He talks from the moment he wakes up and talks until he drifts off to sleep. Sometimes I think that he just talks because he is so impressed and amazed at his ability to speak English. I think he loves hearing words roll off his tongue and waiting for my reaction to the many things he says that he knows he should not say. I watch him amazed that four short months ago the only English word he knew was NO and he enjoyed speaking Amharic to one of my great friends who often called. Well, she called a couple of weeks ago and I put him on the phone. She immediately started greeting him in Amharic and he just as immediately said and I quote, "Hey what is this you are talking to me? I am ENGLISH, my mom is ENGLISH, everyday ENGLISH, ENGLISH, ENGLISH! If you want to talk to me you talk ENGLISH!" Then he handed the phone to me in a huff as though she had insulted him. For days after that he would say, "Mom, people know I am ENGLISH...right? I will talk no more Amharic."

Right after that he went into a story about his mother (I've chosen to call her that without the need to refer to her as the first one, the Ethiopian one, or the birth one). He told me that when he closes his eyes that he can see her running to him and he then he demonstrates how he will reach his hands out for her. He told me, "Mom, when I see her I am going to hug her and say HELLO." Right when he said that it was like he realized in that moment that she didn't know English. He looked and me and said, "What will she say, mom? Amharic or English?" Then he dropped it with a little sadness at the realization of what he said. My son's mastery of the language is pretty amazing, he has started correcting his sister's sentencing; he chimes in while she practices her spelling words (usually he is right about what letter comes next). However, because he talks so much and has so many ideas going on all the time sometimes I miss a few things and now when I do or tell him that I don't understand he ask, "Are your ears working? I'm talking ENGLISH to you. Do you hear this ENGLISH? Mom, you no listening to me?"

So, everyday we hear his version of English, English, English and a few days ago he said to me, "Mom when I'm very big boy, I will give you everything. Mom, I'm gonna buy three cars and give you two of them for you to drive. I'm going to work, work, work and give you my money, $100 I will give you. Mom, I will buy you leebs (clothes) at the leebs store so you can be pretty. Mom, I will get you shoes on your feet and socks for you. I will take you to the restaurant and get you food. Mom, when you get sick I will take you to doctor for him make you well." Then he started looking around the room. "Oh, yea mom I will buy you food for this house at the food store." He looked overhead at a kitchen light that was out. "Mom, I will get you this light here then it will no be dark in here...mmmm....mmmm.....Mom I will shower your car and make it clean and I will take you to church....mmmm...mmmm....mmmmm....Mom, I will get you pretty rings for your hands. Mom I will give you everything!"

I was smiling from ear to ear as much for what he would give me as for what he has learned since he's been here. It was so cute watching him roll his eyes upward to think of more and more things for me. "Mom, I stay with you forever. I stay HERE, no more change. Mom, this is it, I stay with you all the time and you stay with me. That's it!"

"Mom I love you for everything!"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Yes...My Baby Can Read

As I drove the children to school this morning it was hard to concentrate on the road. My daughter pulled her book from her book bag and told me she was going to start reading at page 18 where we'd left off the night before. After telling her she needed only to read the first story starting at page one, she found the start of the story, corrected me and told me it began on page 7 and then she started reading about Henry, his dog Mudge, and the picnic lunch they had in the park. This morning as I listened to her she was reading with a different boldness. It wasn't because she knew all the words and could read it effortlessly -- she would try the words that she didn't know first, then spell them to me to help her fill in the blanks. But, as she read this morning I knew that she understood what she was reading. In the last week or so she has just begun to associate the words in the story to real meaning. So I listened to her stumble over "picnic", shout out Mudge, and laugh when she asked me about a "ginger snap". I was so proud of her and also aware that her brother, who never stops talking, was quietly and patiently listening to his sister as she read.

Riding in the car with my kids to school has become the favorite part of my day second only to when I pick them up after school and they run to me and begin telling me about their day. Or maybe my favorite part is waking them up and hearing the princess say, "Mom, oh my gosh I'm too sleepy," while the handsome prince, tells me to look outside, "Mom the sun is not up." He also uses the sun is not down line when I tell him it's time to go to bed. I don't know maybe my favorite time is sitting around the dinner table and them telling me about their day, what they want to do during the week, or sharing a story about Ethiopia. No, it's definitely when I put them to bed and we go through the same routine every night. Dinner, shower, pajamas, TV (maybe), 7:45 goodnight. People have asked me how I get my kids to go to bed so early and we've come up with a system that really works for us. We usually eat dinner around 5:30 or 6. After dinner my children know that if they want anything, a special treat or a chance at watching TV they have to be showered (with soap), have their pajamas on and be in their rooms.

My son runs from the table to take a shower everynight. The gentle princess typically takes her time eating and just moves at a slower pace. She will try to wiggle out of the shower or try to negotiate but ends up not far behind her brother. They are usually in separate bathrooms showering or bubble bathing at the same time. They each scream for me to come and sit with them so they can talk to me about how many times they've lathered up, asking questioned about how near finished the other is. I run back and forth between them until I hear one scream, "Mom, T-O-W-E-L!" That's my job. I am the towel lady. Since the day that my children arrived they have not needed me to help them or monitor them taking a shower. They are capable of adjusting the temperature, deciding if they want a bath or shower, stopping up the tub and draining it when they are through. However; they both love for me to hold out the towel, help them from the tub, wrap them in their towels and hug them as I dry them off. It's in this sweet loving embrace that they whisper in my ear. "Mom, TV?" "Mom is Meron finished?" "Mom, ice cream (juice, special treat)". The always end up giggling, hugging me tight, kissing me on the cheek and telling me that they love me. Mmmm....maybe this is really my favorite time of the day with them.

Anyway, all cleaned up, most nights they are running for their beds between 7:00 and 7:15. That's when the negotiations begin. No matter what time they hit the bed the TV goes off at 7:45 after a 10 minute warning. First negotiation is what to watch. I-Carly vs. Sponge Bob oh my but the princess will usually give in because she understands that the clock is ticking and any TV is better than none at all. Or we could watch a few minutes of one of three favorite movies: Shark Tales AKA Jelly Fish; Pinnochio AKA Father, Father; or The Emperors New Grove affectionately known around my house as, "What's Your Name?" Don't even ask but they have giving movies and songs their own names I even speak the language. My son does understand that watching a movie means they will not see the end and he tries to plead his case up front. Somehow they work it out every night, they watch, and the mommy walks in at 7:45 and they say in unison, "TV off?" Yes. "Awwh Mom...okay." Because they have learned that too much protest means NO TV the next day or even longer. They get under their covers stretch out their arms for hugs, the princess arranges all of her babies and stuffed animals under the covers with her and after hugging me, exchanging I love yous, she covers her head for sleep. The handsome prince always calls for me to come and lay next to him so he can look in my eyes. That's when he does things like count the moles on my face and tell me that's where God has kissed me. He tries to come up with many reasons for me not to go but after about five minutes will say, "Go mom, see you tomorrow." That's definitely my favorite part of the day.

Still, mornings aren't bad either. I decided early on that I didn't want to be the screaming mother in the mother so I go in and gently rub my children on the back telling them to wake up. My son the entertainer likes to imitate by using a soft voice and saying, "Good morning babies, wake up." It doesn't usually take much more than that to have them sitting on the edge of their beds. I go downstairs to start breakfast and before long they make their way down announcing that they have already washed their hands with SOAP. Our goal is to be dressed and out the door by 7:30AM and most days we make it. In the car we practice spelling words, saying bible verses that Meron needs to learn for the week, or taking turns picking our favorite CD selection. They will ask me when we get in whose turn it is to pick and then we usually listen to their choice or Marvin Sapp or Martha Munizzi. I've really tried to play other things but these are their favorites. I'm usually smiling all the way hearing them sing the words to songs and even getting some of them right. But this morning, nobody asked whose turn it was. We pulled out of the driveway with Meron saying, "I trust...Mommy you say it." Her bible verse this week is "I trust in you O Lord, I say you are my God." I said it but she cut me off to say it herself. The handsome prince also says it and is learning right along with her. Then she said asked me if I wanted her to read her book.

When she pulled the book out and started to read, I just kept thinking back to the second day of school when her teacher met me at the door and told me that my newly immigrated, limited English speaking daughter with little formal education did not read well in class "today". I was surprised that she was surprised since I was shocked, stunned and amazed that my six year old baby was reading at all. I wanted to tell the teacher that if my sweet Princes on day TWO could do all the things that the other kids her age could do that would suggest that she was far more advanced than her peers. The teacher asked me again that day if I wanted to consider putting her in first grade and again I declined. What I knew was that as my daughter developed more language skills that her ability to read would catch up. So, I didn't stress over trying to make her read the 62 page Frog and Toad book. I accepted that it may take two to three books before she would be able to read out loud in class. Well, we are in the fourth week of school and Henry and Mudge are book two. This morning I saw and heard that by the time this book is finished not only will she be reading it well aloud, she will also understand what it is that she is reading.

I was listening to her just amazed and proud and humbled and thankful beyond belief. Everyday I realize that somehow I was given the honor of mothering two of the most precious children ever. Every moment with them is special to me.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

More Than I Hoped For

Well, we are coming close to ending our second week of school and I couldn't be more pleased with my little ones' ability to jump right in like they've been here forever. I look at them so amazed at how far they've traveled, what little time they've been here, and what they've already accomplished.

I'll definitely catch you up on the transition from camp to school and the funny and interesting phrases that my children are now saying, but I just wanted to dedicate this song to them as an expression of my love and pride.

I wasn't looking, all the colors were gray
It's hard to notice when you're out in the rain
All of a sudden, colors are starting to change
You brought the light
Now the darkness is gone
The search is over now I know you are the one(s)
Somebody tell me where does an angel come from?
Cuz you're more than just the one

Yeah, you're more than what I wanted
Everything I never had
Gotta get right to your heart
You can show me where it's at
You are the miracle I needed so bad
And you're more than what I wanted,
everything I never had

Something about you can't say what it is
Thought you should know that you are the reason I live
I would do anything to make you believe somehow
So I'm telling you now that you're...

You're more than what I wanted
Everything I never had
Gotta get right to your heart
You can show me where it's at
You are the miracle I needed so bad
And you're more than what I wanted,
everything I never had

Just let me say I would die for you
Give all I have to prove my love is true
And I'll never let you go...

Mmore than what I wanted
Everything I never had
Gotta get right to your heart
You can show me where it's at
You are the miracle I needed so bad
And you're more than what I wanted,
everything I never had

Saturday, August 8, 2009

With This Ring...

I so love my children and now I know that they love me too. The Princess tells me every day that I'm beautiful and tries to imitate and emulate the things that I do. She wants hair like her mommy, shoes like her mommy, and likes it best when we are dressed in similar outfits or wearing the same color. Better still, I believe it's safe to say that my Wonderson has a crush on me. Oh, how he does love his mommy and is so good at looking after me and making sure that I'm okay.

I can hardly believe it's been four weeks since my last post, seven weeks since my children hit U.S. soil and the end of their five weeks in camp. Yesterday was their last day and when I picked them up my son ran to me, jumped into my arms and hugged me tightly. He whispered in my ear, "Mommy I was a good boy. I love you, mommy, thank you so much!" This is the type of greeting that I've been fortunate enough to get from both of my children every evening that I've picked them up from their day at camp. Still, yesterday was extra special. Kids were gathered around, music was playing, everyone was saying their goodbyes and looked at my two angels and had to hold back the tears. My baby doesn't miss a thing and said, "Mommy your eyes, are you crying? It's okay, mom."

They had a big last day celebration with a cookout and gifts. We had stopped that morning at the grocery store to pick up four dozen cupcakes -- if your name was S - Z you had to bring a dessert. The kids carried the cupcakes and had to tell them it was for sharing. Today everyone would share. Now the day was over, and I walked through the park district lobby thinking back to that first nervous day that I'd dropped them off. We'd come a long, long way. When I got to the bottom of the stairs and entered the room were the kids were waiting, I heard kids say look it's your mom! Over the weeks these kids had asked me, if I was African, why did Wonderson constantly repeat his ABC's, why was the Princess so quiet, why did the Princess love stickers so much, and one little girl asked or told me that she was going to be giving my son a test on his behavior. I'd been asked why my kids like to hug so much and one little girl told me she had moved here from Pakistan and wanted to know the name of the country my kids were from? But, the question no one asked was whether or not I was really their mother. I actually met a woman in the parking lot one day that said how the little peanut most be your son, I saw you and knew right away because he looks just like you. I smiled and told her everyone says so.

It took us about 15 minutes to get out of the door with all of the kids calling my kids by name and asking for their last hugs. One little girl came up to me and asked if my kids could please come back to winter camp? Another little girl came up and told me how she loved both of my children but wondered why I didn't speak with an accent like they did. I actually had tears in my eyes seeing how many friends they had made and how adored they were by the camp counselors. Two of them gave me their numbers and told me that if I ever needed a babysitter to give them a call. We did it, we made it through the camp season without incident, without losing a lunch box or jacket, without losing a swimsuit, shoe, or towel. My baby did lose a tooth but that was way back in week one. He has four loose now and I'm sure by the time school starts he will be struggling to gum his food.

I was so apprehensive that first day, I wondered whether I was doing the right thing; if it was too soon or if the kids would be okay? I can tell you it was the best decision I could have made for them and their counselors agreed. Wonderson started with maybe five words of English in total and now talks non-stop using four and five-word sentences. He was a definite challenge for the counselors in the beginning and somewhere in week two or three they asked for strategies to manage his behavior. They actually believed that because he didn't speak English that he should be coddled. I told them those were not my expectations that I wanted them to work with me to help get him prepared for school.

I brought him home the day after I'd come early and caught him defiantly disobeying his teacher. We went to his room and I had a stern talk with him. I asked him, "Do you understand me?" And when he shook his head no, I realized it was a 50/50 chance that he really had no idea what I was saying. I got down on his level and made the instructions as simple as possible. I sent my son to school each day with simple instructions, "When the teachers say sit, you sit, when they say stand you stand, come you come, go you go!" When we'd get out of the car walking towards the door I say, sit he would say, "I sit." I would say stand, he would say, "I stand." Each day I was told how much better he was doing at following directions. We were a team working together on his behalf. They even taught my son how to tell time and to count backwards. He is really good at it and even though he learned it through his many time-outs I believe all learning is valuable. He now thinks it is a good strategy at home and often tells mommy or his sister that we are in time-out for five or ten minutes.

In the five weeks of camp my children have had so many experiences, more than I could have done. Each day they were anxious to go and each day they came home with new names of friends they'd made, told me who had shared chips with them, or sung songs. They rode big busses on weekly field trips to Lincoln Park Zoo, Kiddie Land, Coves Landing Water park. Each week they went on a nature hike at the nature park and swam in the pool or hung out at the splash pad. They watched movies in the park theater, they went to concerts, and they made friend. My son sat in the backseat one day sing Yellow Submarine, my daughter came home with many art projects.

They had a GREAT time!

As we got in the car and drove away yesterday, I smiled listening to the excitement in their voices as they talked over each other to tell me stories about the day. My son had thrown his backpack in the front seat with me as he had done every day but today he wanted me to reach inside and give him a plastic bag filled with goodies. He searched through the bag and at the stoplight said, "Mommy this is for your finger." He handed me a green horseshoe ring with pride. "Put it on finger, Mommy! It's for you!" I put it on and he said, "Show's good mommy, good!" He was very pleased with himself and I was just as proud to wear his ring. There is a catch; however, when I don't move as fast as he would like or do what he thinks I should do, he asks for his ring back. When I have done enough to earn it, he gladly places the ring back on my finger.

They have two weeks before real school starts. I just can't wait!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

How Do I Love Them? Let Me Count the Ways

I love my kids and I'm sure that we were meant for each other. They are extremely bright, charming, cute, stubborn, ornery, contrary, determined, strong-willed, defiant, vocal, out-spoken, picky, loving, demonstrative, and one laugh a minute. I did say they were cute and charming right? I also said, I'm sure that these were always meant to be my kids.

I told you how wonderful our first Monday morning of camp/school went. Well, maybe I should have waited until Tuesday for the update. On Tuesdays the kids go to the same camp but they have a different drop-off location. They are at the park district that has three facilities including the normal drop-off, the nature center, and the fitness center. Okay, so I look at the where to take them map and it clearly says Nature Center. I use useless mapquest that gives me directions pointing us in the direction of the expressway that I know are wrong. Let me step back. The kids loved their first day of camp/school and were eager to go the next day. Since they had played in the water all day, they found no reason to take showers that night especially since they assumed they would just get their bath playing in the water the next day.

We, well I woke up early Tuesday and sleeping beauty and the handsome prince were tucked tightly in their comforters. "Sleepy mom, sleepy..." After gentle trying to urge them out of bed with many back rubs, good morning to yous, and wake up sleepy heads they wouldn't buge. Well, I turned on the TV which instantly got my sons attention since he is a TV addict but quickly turned it to the gospel music channel. No pictures, just music and it just so happened that it was Marvin Sapp's Praise Him in Advance. Grumble, grumble, protest, protest. "Change channel please mom. Change!" Is someone talking to me, I thought everyone was still asleep. Well anyway I turned the music up a little trust me it wasn't loud, only enough that they grumbled and got out of bed to complain to me that they would rather watch than listen to TV. They were up and walking around. Great!

Time for showers, you know the one's you promised to take this morning? Grumble, grumble, "No mom. No shower. School shower, no house!" Well we got through the dramatics of the moment followed by the acts I and II of the why do I have to wear these close drama. I think my two could form their own theater company, really they are that good. Anyway we grumbled through breakfast, "no eat mom, ju-juice mom, yes mom ju-juice please mom, no wutet (milk)." Breakfast was had by all but not before the princess reminds us all to pray. She loves to pray and will not touch her food before AMEN! I'm trying to teach her that after we have prayed over breakfast or dinner we don't have to pray over the banana, the ice cream or whatever snack comes next. She has since informed me that at school the children do not wash their hands or PRAY before eating their food. I'm sure if she could she would write them up for such an infraction. As it is she pushes her brother's plate to the center of the table to make sure he does not sneak a bite while our eyes are closed in prayer.

Back to camp. We finally got going Tuesday morning headed towards the destination took many wrong turns, and U-turns in three or four office parks and each time my diplomatic princess would quiety ask, "Mommies bureau?" or basically are we going to work with you rather than camp? With each wrong turn, Misters lip got longer and longer. I tried to call the facilitaty but no one answered. I decided to scrap mapquest altogether and do what made sense. I found it, it was a park like facility but it just seemed empty. I saw no cars, no children, and was sure this was the wrong spot. Still I had the kids get out and we walked to the door past some service workers and like I suspected the office was dark and the sign sign, open at 9am. It was only 7:25. I decided it was best to hop in the car and just drive to the Monday morning location. My children are in Amharic uproar in the backseat I'm sure discussing that I don't know what I'm doing. The diplomat would only ask, "Mommie no school today? House mom, bureau, mom?" But my honest and forthright child said, "School NOW mom, tah-mehr-ta-bet. House NO!"

We pulled up in the parking lot my children screamed with excitement because they recognized the place. I held my breath because I knew I was only their to get directions. I told the kids to stay in the car but midway through my sentence they had jumped out with lunch boxes in hand. The nice front desk lady came out to the parking lot and said, "Ms. Washington...?" Who? Oh, yea me right. "Ms. Washington you are at the wrong location." Uhhh, yea but where do we go we've been to the Nature Center. "Oh my no. You are to go to the Fitness Center" and then she gave me directions like English was my second language. I was happy to have them but they came complete with a lot of hand directions and small words spoken very slowly. I knew as soon as I turned around to tell the kids to get in the car they would freak out. Fast forward my kids refused to get in the car, in the car but no seat, no seatbelt, tears, crying and then the sweet prince threw his lunch box out into the parking lot to show his displeasure. "Son, please get out of the car and pick up your lunchbox." "NO!" As I smiled and waved at the nice counter lady I said in more stern but still quiet voice, "Please get out of the car and pick up your lunch box." Grumble, grumble...Of course since I was standing there I could do it but that's just not how we do things in our family. I stood silently and he finally snatched it up with much attitude, hopped in his seat and refused to put on his seatbelt that I happily put on for him in one quick hand motion and snap. I've gotten pretty good at that lately.

Grumble, grumble, Amharic, "I love mommie NO!" "We are going to school trust me. We will be there shortly." Cry, cry, grumble, grumble. "Mommie is sorry for getting lost and you ARE going to school." We turned the corner for the five minute ride which was across the street from the Nature Center and my son stopped crying. "Sorry, mom. Sorry, okay?" Wow! My son has picked up something new, apologizing for his behavior. Wow! I responded that it was okay and we turned into the parking lot that led us to an underground parking lot that my children thought was exciting. The princess, "Bureau, mom? Mommies bureau?" "No sweet pea this is school." It was 7:45 and I only prayed that they saw some kids that they recognized. We went in, I opened the door and they saw their teacher. My children ran to her so excited, shook her hand as is customary and then the sweet prince hugged and kissed her on the cheek. She was a little shocked. They ran to me and hugged me, "Thanks mom. Sorry mom, Mommie I love you YES! I love you mom. Bye-bye mom! Mom go!"

Now all I that was left was to get on the Eisenhower expressway and navigate traffic into downtown Chicago. All the way I thought of just how much I love my kids! How could you not, they've brought excitement into every day and if you think that's something you won't believe what happened when I picked them up later on that day.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Looks Like We Made It

Well, believe it or not my children have been in my care and custody for three weeks. It's unbelievable how much we've done in this short period of time and how well the children seem to be adjusting. Truthfully I believe that my children have lived in America before or at least they've spent most of their time studying American television.

I absolutely adore them and yesterday I had to turn them over to a bunch of strangers at day camp. After all the process and paperwork that we all go through to adopt it was a very strange experience handing unchecked, unnotorized, non-certified documents to a woman behind a desk who just took my money and show me where to drop off the kids. Don't we need something more formal? Should I have collected documents about them, asked for fingerprints of their staff or something?

The kids were excited and eager to go to the teh-mahr-ta-bet (school). Sleeping beauty who is always first to go to bed and last to wake up was up at 6am yesterday morning laying on her floor "studying" one of her books. She was quite concerned about wearing a bathing suit, carrying a bag with a towel and no books. "No books?" She asked me, like what kind of school is this. And, to top that off she was offended by having to wear purple flip flops with her pink swimwear and cover up.

The night before my children had asked many questions about school, "what grades would they be in? Would they have to spend the night? Would I drive them in the car or would they walk? Would I be at the bureau (my office) and would I pick them up?" The conversation about who would be in what grades was pretty funny as are most things with my tightly bonded siblings. My daughter had told me earlier in the week that my son was in grade zero in Ethiopia. So when they asked what grade he would be in here, I said kindergarten. He laughed and tried to say it but she looked at him with a big sister look at said, "ZERO!" I don't know how excited he was about going to SCHOOL/CAMP yesterday but he was excited about wearing his very funny looking water shoes because their first day at camp was water day.

Imagine that. My kids first day at school, since I've still not been able to explain the difference between camp and school was going to a splash pad (water park) and playing in water all day. I've decided that it's not necessary for me to give a lot of details about my children so on the form all I said in terms of special needs was that they are new English speakers and may need additional assistance with some instructions. I am confident in my daughters ability to understand more English than she speaks and her incredible ability to translate to and for her brother. She had also learned my phone number and practiced dialing it on the phone all weekend so that if there were any problems she could call me right away. I walked around the office with my cell phone all day and there was not one call. I looked up and it was 2:00 and I light out a sigh that all was well.

I left my office at 4:30 to pick them hoping that they'd had a good day and that they would want to go back this morning. I got to the front desk and the director introduced her self when I told her my name she said oh you are, (struggling to pronounce their names)... Yes, I told her and held my breath for what she was about to say. She told me that they had all fallen in love with them and she was just interested to know what country they were from. I told her Ethiopia and she asked if they would be staying here forever. I told her that they would and she said they are pretty amazing kids. Ok, so far so good!

I went down the flight of stairs to pick them up and there they were all in one piece pretty much they way that I'd left them except they were covered in stickers, face, arms, and clothes. They were sitting at a table drawing and my son saw me and exclaimed mommy and grab me for a hug. He hasn't learned to be embarrased by me in the sight of his friends but that may happen before the summer ends. He yelled to his sister to make sure she knew I was there. I collected their bags, lunch boxes, huge balls that they were given, and we got in the makena (car) to head home.

My son, asked if he would go back neggeh (tomorrow). I told him yes and all was well. He then asked the question that he always asking, "house mom?" That is usually followed by his request, "No house mom, no house, one store, pleeeeease!" We drove off listening to Marvin Sapp that they've heard enough now that they ask for specific songs by track numbers. Their favorite? Praise Him in Advance and Maginify Him!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I Found Them

Well, my friends some 640 days ago I began a journey to find two children with eyes like mine. I want you to know after to traveling to Ethiopia and returning to Chicago I can tell you must certainly that I have found them.

His eyes are deep dark brown and full of life wonder and everything you could imagine in a five year old. He loves bananas, strawberries, apples, pasta, injera, eggs, omelets, well he likes anything that you can eat. He loves television, showers and clean clothes, jumping, running, pushing, and pouting as if it will get him his way. He is very smart and just as clever at finding out how to work anything that is electronic.

Her eyes are deep and nearly coal black with an old soul that is wise beyond her years. She has impressed me with her ability to retain information and translate anything I'm saying to her younger brother. She can write her first and last name in English, sound out and spell words, and sit and color for two to three hours at a time. She loves SLEEP and must have her beauty nap. She loves to watch and help me cook and will try just about anything. She is gentle and kind, and says, "thank you very much," for the slightest kindness shown to her.

My children are home! What I've been most amazed about is how loving they are to one another. All of us with siblings should be so lucky. They negotiate, come to a consensus and she always informs me of their JOINT decisions. Yesterday we were driving and they fell asleep in the car with their shoes off. When I woke them he was helping her put her shoes on and tie them and she had a napkin and was drying the sweat from his face and forehead. They spend more time with each other than with me (all wonderful to me) and in a day might spend five minutes bickering over something very small.

They both love talking on the phone and every conversation sound about the same, "Hello, how are you, huh? Yes...(giggle). I love you very much. Yes...ciao, oh bye, bye!"

I adore everything about them and feel blessed beyond measure.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

I'm Still Here

I've not run away; I'm not in Ethiopia, and I'm not shouting through the street telling everyone my good news. I've just been quietly soaking in the knowing that I am the mother of two amazing little people that will soon call this their home. These two weeks have been the calmest and most reflective time of this entire adoption journey and I feel myself slowly pulling away from the adoption hooohah of it all to the real-life mothering of it all.

For months, I couldn't sleep at night wondering what the first day home with the kids would be like and what we would eat. I now realize that in the two years that I've walked, run, cried, shouted and crawled through this process that I've also obsessed over every decision playing out hundereds of scenarios in my head. At the same time I was also doing some important preparation work for the life we would have together; however nothing prepared me more than going to spend three days with my children in December. They aren't just pictures on a page to me, I know their personalities, I've heard their voices, held their hands, kissed them, wiped their snotty noses, measured their feet, pressed my hands against their hands, and looked deep into their eyes with our foreheads pressed together. I walked out of the gate that night after kissing them on their cheeks knowing that I would return. I can't believe that six months will have passed before I see them again.

I've thought through most decisions that I needed to make for them hundreds of times like church, summer activities, school, language, family introductions, friends, doctors, food, clothes sizes, shoe sizes, sleeping arrangements, and crisis plans. I thought I'd feel more anxious now, more hurried, more how-do-I-get prepared but I just feel very calm and more steady. I'm not frantic about what I will pack or making travel plans that is the easy stuff.

I've researched, made decisions, revised decisions several times and now I am loving not having to wonder how to decide and if I'm making the right decisions. Now, I can just do and undo! I'm much better at doing than talking about doing, And, I've been busy doing things to help make their homecoming and transition a little easier (I hope).

The only unease that I do have is knowing that my children who were two of nine when I was there in December are now the last two of nine older children left at the orphanage. The director has decided to not take more children and they have watched their friends go off to live in Denmark and America and I'm sure they must be wondering what's taking me so long. When I think about that I do get a bit uneasy but, we are at the point of counting days now so even that will be of no more concern. I predict that all the time that has lapsed in between will instantly melt into the right here, right now and we will be in Illinois talking about, the do-you-remember-whens.

I know you all have had questions and I'll try to answer the big one:
  • How old are the kids? My son is 5(ish) and my daughter is 6(ish) probably 7.

  • What are their names? They are Meron and Wondessen. When I'm thinking about them they are affectionately known as Mimi and Desi or Baby Des but since I'm not a nicknames kind of person they may only hear those names sparingly in private moments. I am keeping their names and have chosen to give them Ethiopian middle names that are also Bible place names, much to my Robbin's dismay; however in some circles my baby girl will always be Merin Robbin.

  • Do they know about you and are they excited? They met me in December without knowing that I would be their mother. Since then they have been told and Kelly assures me that they remember me and are excited.

  • Where are their pictures? There are a bunch of them on Facebook and I'm just not comfortable at this point putting them on the blog. I'm still working through this one.

  • When do you travel? I'm keeping that to myself at this point, but I am making plans. Say a prayer that all of the travels go smoothly.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Funny Thing About Adoption

Well, I don't know if this is funny haha but it is funny like curious. Think back to when you first thought about adopting. You spent time really thinking through and about your decision. You researched the process, you go through different scenarios thinking of how you will tell your friends and family.

Then you announce that you've made a decision to adopt. People immediately ask, when do you get the kids?

You spent months explaining and explaining the process and that you have to apply and then get a referral. You spent your weeks or months on the waist list and are so excited that you are getting close to the top and you share your excitement and explain that you are CLOSE. People want to know what's taking so long?

You explain and explain the process. Then you get the call or finally get a referral and you are busting at the seems with JOY! You share your excitement and people ask, so when do you get the kids?

You explain and explain that a referral means a child has been chosen for you and in all of your excitement and happiness people want to know. Well what happened to their parents? When do you get the kid?

You explain and explain and you anxiously, patiently, frantically wait to be assigned a court date. You mark the date in big red letters on a calendar and share the great news and people say, so when you go to the court is that when you get the kids?

You explain and explain and then you nervously, anxiously, patiently, frantically wait for the court date to arrive and maybe it is less that favorable news. You share your disappointment and people console you and then instantly ask, well are you still going to get the kids? Why is it taking so long?

Then May 18th comes and though I'd known for several days that I had a Monday court date I decided not to share it with anybody. That way I didn't have to give updates or explain. I also took a bold step. I decided on Monday to turn my cell phone OFF rather than feel the anxiety of running to it and checking it. I also decided not to check e-mail but rather just wanted to have a normal day and check on things when I felt most at ease.

I had work conference calls scheduled ALL day. I believe that I found out just before noon that the case had been finalized but I found it out browsing e-mail while on a business conference call. It was great news but I decided that I didn't want to share the information but I wanted to keep it ALL to myself. I'd waiting a long time for it and I didn't want to share my thoughts or feelings with ANYBODY. I didn't want to answer questions, I just wanted time to soak it all in by myself.

I believe that I called my father at about 2pm and I knew that he knew not to pepper me with a lot of questions. Like me he was so happy to hear the news that he just wanted time to process it all. We talked without screams or shouts about what it meant to us and for us and then we talked casually about travel options and prices. I had two more work conference calls and then contacted the kid's godfather, it was a simple congratulations because he also understood the long hard road and how important it was to just keep it right there, focused on this one moment of the journey. I had one more conference call and called my best fried at worked I think we both were so overwhelmed that we cried and talked workplace softly about how important and meaningful it was. "Thank God", is all she kept saying. "We did it. We finally did it." It was a quiet fifteen minutes together and we just hung onto the moment. It was very important for me to share the news with these three people who were the first people who ever knew my plans and have supported me in an awesome way for nearly two years.

In between calls I just sat with myself, I went into the kid's room, I touched their things and quietly got on my last conference call for the day. It was just too important a day to shout from the rooftops and take a chance that those within hearing distance would want to rush me on to the next step, "so when do you get the kids?" The moment that I legally became their mother was so monumental that it was not time, is not time to move on to those details.

At about 5:30pm I finally called my coordinator to let her know that I had indeed read her e-mails and that I'd not vanished from the face of the earth but just wanted time to take it all in. She confirmed that what I'd read was true, I was really their mother. That was about the same time that I made the announcement on Facebook. I had so many well wishes and prayers and congratulations and I was truly moved by them all. Still, I need more time for quiet reflection, moments to give heartfelt praise for this step alone without feeling the pressure of what comes next.

Isn't it funny how we pray and ask for things and then when we get it, we barely take time to give thanks before we say, okay now what I need is... I just say thank you for where I am. This final court decree is the BLESSING! I sat down with my friend to celebrate over dinner last night and just enjoyed this BLESSING without talking about what is next.

I've learned through this process that time takes care of itself but praise and thanksgiving is something that we can control. You can ask me but please don't feel offended if I don't answer what is next or when. I'm still reflecting on the wonder of the day and praising Him for this monumental gift.

Thank You!

Monday, May 18, 2009

REJOICE In The Midst of it All

What a day!

I barely got this post in before the strike of midnight. But I stop the clock on my wait since I learned that the adoption was made final today -- May 18, 2009 (32 days since my original court date). The day has brought with it many different emotions, none that I'm sure I could have predicted but more than anything in my heart their is nothing but gratefulness. I am grateful that I was led to this journey, grateful for all the good things that have happened along the way, grateful for the stops and starts, grateful for the high hurdles, and seemingly impossible mountains that I had to climb. I'm grateful that through it all, at every stop along the way when their were doubts, false starts, fear, and disbelief that Jesus kept me not in spite of but in the midst of it all.

This is one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite gospel albums of all times. It sums up me feelings on this day better than any words I could ever say. As I listened to this song today, I think that this not only my song but it is the song of my children as well. There lives don't only begin anew once they find their way to me, Jesus has faithfully kept them through it all, in the midst of it all and no matter what I've gone through at 43 it pales when I compare it to what they have already endured at 5 and 6. There is nothing in my life that I could have ever done to deserve this opportunity and when I did things to blow the opportunity He was ever faithful to me. For that, too, I am grateful.

I've come through many hard trials
Through temptations on every hand
Though Satan's tried to stop me
And to place my feet on sinking sand
Through the pain and all of my sorrows
Through tears and all of my fears
The Lord was there to keep me
For He's kept me in the midst of it all

Not because I've been so faithful
Not Because I've always obeyed
It's not because I trust him
To be with me all of the way
But it's because He loves me so dearly
He was there to answer my call
There always to protect me
For He's kept me in the midst of it all

I've come through many hard trials
Through temptations on every hand
Though Satan's tried to stop me
And to place my feet on sinking sand
Because Jesus loves me dearly
He was there to answer my call
There always to protect me
For He's kept me in the midst of it all

No He's never left me
And He' never let me fall
Oh yes He will protect you
For He's kept me in the midst of it all

Yes, He kept me
Yes, Jesus kept me
Jesus kept me [3x], in the midst of it all
For He's kept me in the midst of it all

When I thought I was going to lose my mind.
Jesus kept me. Jesus kept me.
With his power Jesus kept me.
He didn't let me fall. Jesus kept me.
Right there, right there in the midst of it all.
In the midst of it all.

I don't know what you're going through. Jesus kept me.
But would you allow me to encourage you.
I know it he did it for me, for me, for me, for me.
He will do the same for you. In the midst of it all.
Jesus. Jesus. Yes he did!
Jesus. Jesus. Yes he did!
I don't know nobody else to call in time of trouble.
I tried my mother and I know she loved me.
I tried my family and I know they love me.

Nobody but Jesus.
He held my hand, he brought me through.
He wouldn't let me fall, so let me encourage you.
Don't give up! Don't give in!
I don't care what nobody else says. You can win.
With Jesus. With Jesus.
You can make.
Just understand that you have everything inside of you to take it.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Faith Is...

Growing up in the CME church every Sunday we would begin with the Apostle's Creed. The question was, In whom do you believe? We answered, I believe in God the Father Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ His only son our Lord who was conceived by the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified died and buried. The third day he arose from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty...

I guess that I've repeated those words so many times in my life that today I can say that my faith is not something that I have to check on moment by moment. It is not situational or engaged because of or in spite of circumstances that change day to day. Either you believe or you do not. I do not have to continually assess the reality, sovereignty, or power of the God of my creation based upon how much or how often I get the things that I want when I want them. Either you believe or you do not.

Faith is for me the core of who I am and not something that I summon to get me through difficult times. Living and walking in faith is not a difficult thing for me. How can I look at the world, my place in it, the situations that I've come through, the grace that I've been shown, all the chances undeserved that I've been given, and not believe that there is something bigger, grander, and more powerful than myself silently moving on my behalf.

It is well, for I have faith that whatever comes in this life I will be what I have been called to be, standing where I have been positioned to stand, and doing what I was called to do.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Touch, Agree, and Believe

This is a call to action for all of my believing-in-spite-of-what-I-see friends that will join me in shaking the foundations, breaking through, and breaking free. So, here is what I will be singing to myself today, the words are so true. What I'm asking you to do is to tell me what you believe in, what you are hoping, and believing for.

Praise, they say confuses the enemy and I'm wondering if we can drive him stark raving mad. That's my goal and that's my plan. Try to listen to this song a couple of times and see if it doesn't lift your spirits.

I Still Believe
Marvin Winans

I still believe in marriages made in heaven.
And that love will conquer all.
I've been hurt but not deceived.
Regardless of what has happened I still believe.

I still believe in predestination and eternal purpose
All things work together for my good
Opposition comes against me yet still I proceed
Cause no matter what I'm facing I still believe.

Now remember faith the size of a mustard seed
Has the potential of endless possibilities
And if you just keep the faith
The promise of a better day is a guarantee

I've been through enough to make me cynical
Cold-hearted, mean, and just disagreeable
But, I have chosen to believe in a happy day for me
Filled with miracles. Oh just a happy day -- the sun is shining.

I still believe in waterfalls and sunsets
And that dreams really do come true
Hope springs eternal in those who believe
That's why no matter what happens, I still believe

I really do believe
I believe in the good of all mankind
I believe behind the clouds the sun still shines
I believe there is coning a brighter day
I believe that our children will lead the way.
I believe that trouble won't last -- always
Joy is coming in the morning

Every mountain be exalted
Rough places made plain
I believe that the lion will lay down with the lamb
I believe that we will if we will that we can
Don't you ever stop moving towards the promise land
I believe that trouble won't last always
I believe that trouble won't last always

No matter what you are going through
I want you to believe that you will, I want you know that you can
And never stop helping your fellow man
Keep the faith, keep the faith
We're going to make, we're gonna make it if you just keep believing
Keep on hoping, keep on trusting
It's going to be alright, that's what I believe

I believe it I really do
I believe

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Baby Sister Robbin and the Peeps

All of us have to remember when you are given a vision and a dream it is yours and yours alone and no matter how rocky the road gets, how crooked the turns turn, how high you have to climb, or how many times you have to stumble before you make it you have been more than equipped for the dream that He handed specifically to you. Until He takes that desire from your heart or closes every door it is only His saying, "well done" that matters.

When they start getting on that last nerve, put on your best Etta James impression and just tell them it ain't their business. You should be smiling because Tami is Chaka Kahn.

Ain't No Need To Worry

Finding comfort wherever I can, I'm usually drawn to the music that has always been a big part of my life and faith. The message is simple it's the doing that takes more work.

Ain't no need in worrying
what the night is gonna bring,
it'll be all over in the morning.

There's a fear of night fall,
when darkness comes and covers all the day.
Sometimes we feel pain,
but there are things that we can change, just pray.

Ain't no need to worry,
what the night is gonna bring,
it'll be all over in the morning.

Troubles come, but they do pass.
Heartaches hurt but they don't last always.
Sometimes we feel pain,
but there are things that we can change, just pray.

In the morning, the morning,
it'll be all over in the morning.
It'll be all over in the morning.

Makes no different how dark the night,
if you trust in God, it'll be alright;
(it'll be all over in the morning).
It makes no difference how long the day,
trust in God, He'll make a way;
(it'll be all over in the morning).

Weeping will last, but only for awhile,
but when the sun shines,
you'll wear a smile;
(it'll be all over in the morning).

Suns gonna shine on your face
and make you feel like you can run this race
and you can be a winner.
Take the prize and go home.
It will be over in the morning.

Hold on, it will be over in the morning.
Hold on it will be over in the morning

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Were Are My Believers?

I actually have this "cassette" and it is really in my car. Thanks to YouTube I can share the video, song, and words with you. I'm sure you will agree that they fit, though you may enjoy the words better than the song. We have to keep believing.

If You Believe in Me?

Time, of rise and fly, over me, to the sea,
Love is a pride, wait for me, wait for me,

If you believe in me,
I will believe in what will be,
We want the world you've only dreamed of,
Promise of the seasons,
Give us the future please,
That's all we need of you.

Running in circles,
Desperate we hold to yours and mine,
Using my body,
Closing our hearts and eyes.

Oh no, open the door and let the wind blow,
Take my hand, together we stand in the eye of the hurricane.

If you believe in me
I will believe in what will be,
We want the world you've only dreamed of,
Promise of the seasons,
Give us the future please,
That's all we need of you.

Every nation, every woman, child and man
Comes on a moment, where they must take a stand,

Oh no, forget what you know, just let the wind blow,
Blown apart, you open your heart, and that's where anything can be.

If you believe in me
I will believe in what will be,
We want the world you've only dreamed of,
Promise of our seasons,
Give us the future please,
That's all we need of you.

Out of control, out of my mind, at last,
Into my dreams, we sailed away.

If you believe in me
I will believe in what will be,
We want the world you've only dreamed of,
Promise of our seasons,
Give us the future please,
That's all we need of you.

Oh sing it children
(If you believe in me)
Got to believe
(I will believe in what will be,)
Tell `em what you want
(We want the world you've only dreamed of,)
World you've only dreamed of
(Promise of our seasons,)
(Give us the future please, )
(That's all we need of you.)

If you believe in me
I will believe in what will be,
We want the world you've only dreamed of,
Promise of our seasons,
Give us the future please,
That's all we need of you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Too Much of a Good Thing

I found this interesting article and video about a man in Ethiopia with 12 wives and 78 children. Here is an excerpt from the article:

In this remote, densely-populated region of Ethiopia, it is common for men to have multiple wives. In Ayatu's case this tradition has backfired. Years ago, he had enough land and food to satisfy everyone's needs. This changed when Ayatu had to sell land or cattle to make the dowry payment for each new wife he took, usually a sum of between $500 and $1,000. Now, the family compound is almost bare from overgrazing, two of his wives have moved with cattle in search of greener pastures, and two others died from unknown illnesses in the 1990s. The situation is so desperate that Ayatu cannot afford to send his children to secondary school, and he is marrying off two of his 15-year-old daughters to ensure they are fed. Thirteen others are living with their married siblings.

Read the article or you can watch the video:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Each One Teach One

Thanks for all of the responses to my post from April 15 and 16. I was really touched by the things you shared and it made me more aware that how I've walked through my journey and the things that I've shared have had a positive impact on others. Believe me, I learn and grow as much from all of you as some of you have learned from me.

There was one comment left on my blog yesterday that I wanted to post today. Thank you Theresa for the passage of scripture you sent. I know that others will appreciate it as well.

"If it seems slow, be patient!
For it will surely take place.
It will not be late by a single day."
Habakkuk 2:3

This passage brought me immediate comfort when I read it. I checked BibleGateway to find what version of the bible it was from and in the process found other interesting interpretations of this scripture.

The Message: This vision-message is a witness pointing to what's coming.It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait! And it doesn't lie.If it seems slow in coming, wait. It's on its way. It will come right on time.

New Living: This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

New International Reader: The message I give you waits for the time I have appointed. It speaks about what is going to happen. And all of it will come true. It might take a while. But wait for it. You can be sure it will come. It will happen when I want it to.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Biological Clock is Ticking

You may have noticed that my court date clock stopped ticking at about 10am this morning, but it seems that my biological clock is still ticking and I thank God for that. As my mother would say if time keeps passing and you're not getting older it means that you are dead. Well, I am alive! I wish that I had more exciting news to share with you today but the waits not yet over. My case was heard and they yet need more information. I was determined to not allow the news to overtake me and I've held together pretty well.

The song that I heard over and over in my head today was, "I Still Have Joy". After all that I've been through, I still have joy. I reflected on my favorite chapter of the bible, Philippians 4 and on days like this I have to remember that the scripture says that I know how to live in abundance and how to live without but for whatever state I am in I know to be content. If I thought it would help, I'd scream and shout about how unfair it is but life is not fair nor is favor. I went through a list of songs like, "Ain't No Need to Worry," and "It's Been Along Time Coming."

I even found myself singing, "I've had some good days, and I've had some hills to climb. I've had some weary days, and some sleepless nights. But when I look around and when I think things over, you know my good days outweigh my bad days so I won't complain. -- And then I ask the Lord why so much pain. But I found out that he knows what's best for me although my weary eyes don't see. So, I'll say thank you Lord, I won't complain."

Then I played my Marvin Sapp stand by "Have you ever had a need that He did not meet or a situation and He did not come through? There's no question of Your greatness, nor searching of your power. Of the wonder of Your glory, to You 40 years is but one hour. Your knowledge is all encompassing and too your wisdom there is no end...Be all glory and honor, dominion and power for ever and ever, amen." I even sang a couple of lines of Mary J. Blige, I'm not gonna cry.

In the end I decided that it is my favorite gospel song of all times that fits me today that says, "What do you do when you've done all you can, seems like it's never enough? Tell me what do you say when friends walk away and you're alone? Tell me what do you give when you've given your all and you can't make it through? Well, you just stand when there's nothing left to do, you stand and watch the Lord see you through. After you've done all you can do then you just stand. How can you smile when your heart has been broken and so filled with pain? What do you do when you've done all that you can and it seems like you can't make it through? You just stand, don't you dare give up. Through the storm, through the rain, through the heartache, through the pain. Don't you bow, don't you bend, don't give up, don't give in. Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on. After you've done all you can, just stand."

So let's not get to down. Let's look forward and shout for what will be! I need you guys to prop me up just a little and let's try to celebrate what will come.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

His Name is Zion

The name Zion is written in the bible 168 times. Zion is a city in Jerusalem, a mountain on a hill and another name for heaven. Zion is what writers call Ethiopia and believe it or not, Tsion (Zion) was the name of the girl who met me at the airport and carried my bags to the hotel.

Zion is, was, and forever will be the name of my first son, born on this day April 15, 2002. I checked into the hospital and after 27 hours of labor delivered, him, held him and had to let him go. I left the hospital the following day with a bag of memories, tokens, and certificates to prove that he was here. I left that day not knowing what my future would hold.

Since April 15, 2002 the days immediately preceding and the days immediately following are sometimes struggle. Without being conscious of it, there have been times that the longing sweeps over me in waves. In 2003, I decided that I each year on April 15, that I would attempt to do those things that I would not have otherwise had the courage to do. That first year on April 15, 2003 I was shocked to find myself sitting in a room coaching the CEO and the entire executive team of a large restaurant chain -- miraculous. On April 15, 2004 I was in New Haven, CT teaching a 3-day class at Yale University -- improbable. April 15, 2005 I was invited to as one of two consultants to deliver diversity training to the executive team at one of those large battery companies that we all know so well -- impossible. I remember how hard it was getting on the plane that day and getting prepare once I landed. It's the day that I sat in the parking lot and heard Mary, Mary singing, "I Cried My Last Tear Yesterday." I can pretty much tell you where I was and what I was doing on this day every since 2002 and it wasn't my taxes. On April 15, 2008, I packed away all of Zion's things for the last time. All that there was of him was still in the bag from the hospital and over the years I would take things out, look at them, read them, and put them away.

Some things in life are difficult to explain like why some children live and others die too soon. Why some born in Ethiopia triumph over all the odds against them and those born here in the states in world class hospital just don't have the strength to survive. All of us have stories and how we found ourselves on this path varies from person to person. It seems that my journey begins and ends with Zion and it's difficult to explain why this long, winding, wonderful, laborious journey could some how deliver me to this date. At first I thought it ironic that God would have my children's lives so intertwined by these dates and then I thought of David who told me last year; that whenever you go full circle you get a new beginning. That must be it, I thought one chapter of my life as a mother is being closed on April 15 and another one opened on April 16. But, then I realize yet one more bit of irony, when my case is heard in Ethiopia I believe that it will still be April 15 here in Chicago.

It's difficult to tell you all this without filling in the details or writing in my more usual style. Forgive me, please I just want to get it down to mark the significance of this day. From the day that I learned that there is a church in Axum, Ethiopia that hold the Arc of the Covenant, and that the name of that church is St. Mary's of Zion I was drawn to that place. Without being able to explain it to you, in August 2007 when I started this journey, I knew that whatever questions and unresolved issues and longing that I had would be answered and filled when my feet touched the soil in Ethiopia. Remember I went there in December and from the moment I touched down, I was drawn into an unexplainable set of events. I think it was the first time that I'd truly exhaled in nearly seven years. It was a release that I will never be able to explain.

When I walked into the courtyard on the other side of that big blue gate, I thought that I would be overcome by emotion. Instead I saw my children and instantly new that all I had believed was indeed true. All of my unanswered questions were answered in an instant and instead of being overcome with emotions, I exhaled again and felt a rush of peace come over me. When I prayed on the prayer bench of the church, I felt peace. When I walked into the palace I felt peace. When I walked through the streets of Addis I was at peace. When I held my children and looked into their eyes I was at peace. When I said goodbye to them that last day, I was at peace. I've carried that feeling with me from that time to this. Rather than feeling the anxiety or anxiousness, I feel peace.

Today on April 15, 2009 I wait patiently to do yet one more thing that I thought would be impossible to do. I wait to hear the words that I thought I'd never hear and wait to tell the world what I thought I'd never say. This impossible thing has been made possible and all things thought improbable have passed away. Now, I no longer wonder what I will do on all the April 15ths to come. I know that I will celebrate this new beginning.

This is the eve of my new beginning and all I feel is peace. I love you all so much thank you from the bottom of my heart for every kind word and every prayer that you have prayed for me. God always sends his angels to protect, shield, and guide, because of each of you, I've come full circle and this is a new beginning. So wherever you are just say a quick thank you to God because it is already written it is already done.

Hebrews 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly.

Peace Be Still
Come on with peace. I'm talking about peace. Peace be still. In your home, peace. On your job, peace. Late in the midnight hour... peace be still. Whenever the Lord says peace, I guarantee there'll be peace. I know that it will be. Peace, oh peace. When there's confusion, whenever the Lord says peace, there'll be peace, you'll have peace. Peace, oh, oh peace. When you don't know which way to turn,
He guarantees that there will be peace. I'm not worried about it. Peace, oh, oh peace. If I don't have nothing else, whenever the Lord says peace, I've got peace in my heart and peace down in my soul. Peace, oh, oh peace...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday Leaves Us With Two Days

I know that I say this every few months but I think I've developed a reputation for being really deep and serious. That is a part of me but I'm also really silly, just ask the girls that call me on the phone. With two days to go (although no one is really counting -- wink, wink) I've been in a very light-hearted mood. I've had a few moments of distraction but mostly I've been humming, whistling, or singing under my breath unfortunately getting a few looks as I pass people by. I've been falling asleep too early which means I wake up too early like 4:00am. My normal wake-up without an alarm clock is 4:30 so go figure. Anyway, since my last song brought up so much teary-eyed emotion, I kept thinking what song could I share that would express how I'm feeling today. Can't really explain it but I found myself singing one song today and then the other came to mind. So, the double play today includes two classics by Diana Ross.

Y'all had better sing too.

I'm coming out. I'm coming out I want the world to know got to let it show. I'm coming out I want the world to know I got to let it show. There's a new me coming out and I just had to live and I wanna give, I'm completely positive. I think this time around I am gonna do it, like you never do it, like you never knew it. Ooh, I'll make it through!

The time has come for me, to break out of the shell. I have to shout that I'm coming out. I'm coming out I want the world to know. Got to let it show I'm coming out I want the world to know I got to let it show.

I've got to show the world all that I wanna be and all my abilities, there's so much more to me. Somehow, I have to make them just understand I got it well in hand and, oh, how I've planned I'm spreadin' love there's no need to fear and I just feel so glad every time I hear: I'm coming out I want the world to know. Got to let it show I'm coming out I want the world to know I got to let it show.

Hit #2 -Sing...

If you need me, call me, no matter where you are, no matter how far. Just call my name and I'll be there in a hurry on that you can depend and never worry. No wind, no rain, no winters cold can stop me babe if you're my goal. Aint' no mountain high enough, ain't no valley low enough, that can keep me from you.

Original Court Date: April 18, 2009
Final Court Date: May 18, 2009
[607 total days & 165 days w/IAN]