Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Refusal to Suffer

The temptation of impatience, a refusal to suffer.

Ann expresses it beautifully. Her words hit, square in the heart, with the precision that could come only from the Holy Spirit.

A clear picture of the erupting volcano of pride spewing over the ones I love. My refusal to suffer goes to battle daily with the impatience of a two-year-old. My jockeying for position of my husband flies in the face of being called to submit to my husband as leader of this home. Even this fight with a keyboard, erasing letters that I don't want erased, makes me see fiery red.

A dear, wise woman once reminded me, "I need Africa more than Africa needs me." Do I believe it? Do I believe that all of life's circumstances are grace and sanctification and love poured out? Do I believe I need all these more than all these need me?

Do I believe Jesus is the gift? Or do I believe I am the gift?

I turn love to hate as I am prone to love self and examine others. I refuse to love others as I count myself more significant.

I make myself everything, a proud queen

instead of nothing,


humble servant.

My heart is more like a weeble wobble than a laid-low servant. Pushed down, it bounces back, straight up, refusing to lay low in the circumstances of life. Refusing to deny self and love others. Refusing to rest. Refusing to gain strength from Christ. Refusing to Trust.

My flesh cries out, "You don't deserve this."
My flesh whimpers, "I don't want this."

My flesh commands:

I.Will.Not.Suffer. and

Let my kingdom and my will be done!

Calling the refusal what it really is. Calling impatience on the carpet reveals:


In contrast to all that I am there is

..."though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." ~Phil. 2

Jesus says that "he laid down his life and no one takes it from him." It was a voluntary laying down of self. He restrained all of who He is for all of who we are.

Anyone who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
Anyone. Not Worthy.

Surgeon's words that cut to the core, dividing bone and marrow.
And he said to ALL, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
Denying self in the future sounds do-able. It's this daily dying that smells of rotten flesh burning. It's this daily dying that feels as limbs being torn, ripped right from their sockets.

In light of all that He is and all that I am not, I preach the gospel over a weeble wobble of a heart. Lay low because He laid low. Deny yourself because He died your death. Look to the Father in repentance because you have been given much and loved much.

Because it's in the laying low, the breaking of self, that one is able to love the Lord with all one's heart, soul, mind, and strength and love others as oneself. To count others more significant than oneself in humility.

Replace PRIDE with humility.

Make this heart lay low, so that others may be lifted up.
May this heart lay low because God is far from the proud.
May this heart lay low because when it's standing straight up, unwilling to fall, God says this is sin. I am God. You are not. You.will.get.hurt if you try and stand in my place.

If you shrink back in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, "Behold, we did not know this," does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?

(Prv. 24:10-12)

Words of wise ones say to preach the gospel to yourself. Stop listening to your flesh. Despite the flesh that remains, God has bought me with the blood of His son. He has made me a new creation. He has given me the gift of praise. He has loved much and given me the gift to love Him in return. He has healed and taught and disciplined. He has promised that He would send the Spirit of Truth into my heart to lead me into all Truth. Despite the thought I will never be laid low, as Paul said, I have learned the secret, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me-I trust my God. I know that only He is perfect. His Word says so. As Paul knew, I have not attained it. I will not attain it perfectly until I see Him. Trusting, for His glory alone, brings my deepest satisfaction, my joy. He is faithful. He loves with an everlasting love. He is good and what He does is good. He is my perfect Father.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,

O God of my salvation,

and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.

O Lord, open my lips,

and my mouth will declare your praise.

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;

you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Ps.51:13-17)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Daddy Has Come!

Our dear friends are in Ethiopia, meeting their two children for the first time.

Their son's cries to those around him...

"My Daddy Has Come. My Daddy Has Come."

Really, nothing could express it more deeply or beautifully.

In love, he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.~Ephesians 1:6

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even while we were still dead, in our tresspasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved- ~Ephesians 2:4,5

I thank my heavenly Father that there was a day when I, too, cried,
"My daddy has come! My Daddy has come." I thank him that He didn't allow me to go my own way. He pulled me from the ash heap and has given me beauty-His beauty.
HE is the treasure.

And, to think by going my own way, I could have missed all this:

Is God beckoning you away from going your own way? Possibly calling you to a life filled with children, with hopes and dreams that He has for you?
Deny yourself. It costs, but it's oh, so worth it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Oh, the Chaos of it All

Silence. It's very very scary in these parts because you know something very bad has happened. Typically, I sprint for the bathroom first. I usually round the corner to find two pairs of dark brown, very guilty eyes, looking up from an object floating in the toilet. Typically, they're wet up to their elbows and sometimes beyond.

The twos have just about done us in and we're only about half way through. Someone had the nerve to say that the threes are the hardest. What?!

It is hard, ya'll, two two-year-olds whip my butt on a regular basis. I'm talking, poop on the hands, toys in the toilet, dog food in the mouth, hard. But it is seriously fun, after the fact, that is. Some days, it just cracks me up to think back on my last few hours with my two youngest. It's not funny at the time, and God knows I cry out to Him on a regular basis, and take things into my own hands and lose my temper on a regular basis, too.

When I left my teaching job, I seriously thought this would be a piece-o-cake. Me and my stinkin' pride and rainbows and unicorns concept of the future.

But, I am BLESSED, with a capital B. I LOVE my family. I LOVE!!!!!!!! staying home. Can you tell I love staying home?! I wouldn't want it any other way.

But there are days like this-when temper tantrums have been thrown, soup has been spilled, bowls have been broken, pants have been soaked-that cause me to write, to process.

It's cheap therapy, really.

Well, there are clothes calling my name, dishes to be put away, and list goes on and on.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What We've Been Up To

This blog can be confusing for me because I can never decide to whom I'm writing. I mean take for instance, the last sentence I just wrote..."to whom I'm writing". I don't really talk like that, but I write like that. Anyway, with this dilemma of "who's my audience", I write again, hoping to fulfill all that God has me on earth to do. I write first to my Father, to my family, to anyone else God places in our path.

Our oldest son is now 11, which brings all kinds of changes, growing independence, and bouts of hysteria from this over-protective mom. Our son is growing into a wonderful, normally challenging, young man, and I am so thankful I get to be his mom.

Our oldest daughter is now 9. She's working on her "adoption story", and it's so cool to hear how the adoption of her younger brother and sister have affected her. She is growing into a beautiful young lady, and I am so thankful she calls me mom.

Our next to youngest, by 3 weeks, our other daughter, is now 2 years and 3 months. She is growing in her independence, tries to care for her younger brother's needs, and is so funny. I am overwhelmed with the fact that God has chosen me to be her mommy.

Our youngest, is now 2 years and 2 months. He's growing like a weed, gives huge hugs to everyone in the family now (big milestone), loves to play with trucks and be outside, and is a master climber. I stand amazed at the fact that God brought this little boy to my husband and I to raise.

I'd post photos but we're too busy to take them. I keep telling myself to pick up the camera again, but the days just seem to have a way of moving at a rapid pace with two 2-year-olds in the house.

Caring for our children, training them in the way God would have them go, has proven to be a challenge. Yet, by God's grace and mercy, he moves and molds us to be the parents He calls us to be. I think I can speak for my husband when I say we have a growing sense of and appreciation for the importance of our marriage and taking our parenting seriously and leaning hard on the Lord for His care and provision for this family.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Motherhood is Application (of the Gospel)

Because I know it is, and I forget it is.

This mother says it so beautifully.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fleas, ER, and Stuff Like That

I sit here typing-should be sleeping. Fleas are biting my ankles. Yes, gross. Totally gross. I've swept, I've mopped, I've sprayed, cleaned, and yes, even bombed, flea-bombed, that is, our house, for what seems like a thousand times over the last week. Tomorrow I plan to spray more flea stuff, recommended by the vet. Oh, how a little pest can be such a big pain. Our dog is free and clear, and I should be thankful, but I seriously think he gave them to me. I've been trying to be thankful through it all, thanking God I have feeling in my ankles, thanking God I have a house for them to infest, thankful that it's just fleas, and fleas die. They do die, right?

And our trip to the ER...
So tonight, we're at our friends' house and we hear a scream from the bedroom. It was Ana. I knew it wasn't a normal scream. I ran to find her drenched in fingernail polish remover. It was in her eyes, her shirt was soaked. We doused her with cold water over and over. Fortunately, my friend is a nurse. Ana seemed a bit lethargic and her eyes were red. Someone called poison control. They said to give her sugar and milk. She's allergic to milk. I was in serious-mom mode, and I had my mind made up that she was going to the ER. Kim and I loaded her up. I drove. I don't really know why. I just felt like I had to get there asap. Kim sat in Gabriel's car seat beside Ana. Jim and Kev had the rest of the kids at the house. We arrive at the ER and Kim calls home to ask about the ingredients in the remover. While she's on the phone, her husband says that her work pager went off (OR recovery room nurse). Again, fortunately, we're in the hospital, the same hospital in which she is needed, so she calls up to the OR. Yep, she's needed. Skipping lots of details b/c I'm tired and must get up for church, Kim was able to help w/ the patient in the OR, Ana was seen and was given a clean bill of health, and we were finished at the same time. We left the ER laughing. I'm sure people thought we were nutso. Seriously, is that not a Seinfeld episode in the making?! Even though we were able to laugh, the seriousness of it all did hit me several times, and of course, I am SO thankful and relieved that Ana is okay.

So, this is pretty much normal around here these days. Yesterday, Gabriel hid and ate half a tube of toothpaste, okay, it wasn't really half a tube (wouldn't want to have to call poison control consecutively for two days), got into Julia's candy stash, and rubbed deodorant all over his body. And this was all in the course of thirty minutes. Lest you think I don't watch my children, if you've ever been around us, you know these two work together. I'm sure they must scheme and plan in their cribs before I get them in the morning. One distracts me and the other carries out the plans. Or, one makes a mess, I clean it, and another mess is made before I get the first one cleaned up.

This is our normal...fleas, ER, and stuff like that. I'm so totally aware that it is by the grace of God that any of us make it through a day. We praise Him for it.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Place of Brokenness-Go En-Courage Another

I've wondered about blogs and comments and the meaning of it all. As I scrolled through this list of brokenness-comment after comment-from women-with uncertainties and perceived failures and believed lies-just like me...I was encouraged and humbled and broken. I've bookmarked it to read on the days when satan is telling me I'm all alone and no one else feels this way and no one else thinks this.

Go find someone on the list to encourage...

Encourage another woman...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Naked, Exposed and the Blood of it All

I read, Motherhood as a Mission as Desiring God today, thanks to Ann Voskamp's wonderful links, and...

I am PIERCED. DIVIDED. And my thoughts and the intentions of my heart lay bare on the Surgeon's table, just as He said they would in Hebrews 4. I am NAKED and EXPOSED to His eyes and to Him I will give an account.

I reflect on my words of yesterday, and I read the soul-bearing words of today.

Do I get this? Do I understand the importance of my mission as a mother-making disciples of all nations. It's my mission, right? Starting here.

Therefore, I cry out to the living God for mercy. As my heart lay bare, faintly beating on this mother-table, I pray for the blood of Jesus to wash over my thoughts, words and actions, particularly toward my children. I pray for a new song in my heart, a fresh revelation of your grace, as I mother my 4 precious gifts.

I pray to understand this blood transfusion.

I pray to understand this "getting to" not "having to".

I pray to see the depth of my depravity and beauty of your grace and your awe-inspiring power that drops me to my knees.

I will give an account...I will give an account...I will give an account...

Pierce me, Word, pierce me straight through.
Divide me into a million pieces and lay me low.
I will be last.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

2 Toddlers and 1 Mama = Chaos

Happy 2nd Birthday, Little Ana.


You know the beautiful photos of the children walking through fields of wildflowers you see on many blogs? Well, I've come to realize we ain't that family. Actually, most times our camera cards are still stuck in the cameras and both camera batteries are dead.

You know the beautifully labeled pantry containers you see on many blogs?
Blah. You won't find that here.
Our "pantry" is locked down like Fort Knox and the toddlers STILL get into into it. They're working against me, I tell ya.

Yes, we have hit the T (insert appropriate T word here) Twos. Yikes! These babies are crazy. Most days I think I'm running a dog pound with all the biting and scratching and hitting that is happening.

A typical outing...
Last week after bible study, we were in our local grocery store in the midst of many many women and their children and some men. Many of the women were casually pushing their children by in their carts as my son screamed, and I mean screamed pitches higher than one ever thought possible, throughout the entire store. All of this because "No, he could not gnaw on the block of cheese,(he's lactose intolerant for crying out loud, and No, the gallon-sized Gatorade is not for you." As I picked up the food that tumbled to the floor (because I have to keep it on the bottom-the verryyy bottom of the cart b/c my children will eat it) as I rounded the baking aisle, I was seriously considering ditching my cart (and possibly the kids) and getting the heck out of Dodge. Women were making that "I'm smiling but I'm wondering if you might want to take a parenting class" type look. You know the one. Fortunately, one of my dear friends and her daughters were in the check out line and helped us get out of the store. Thank you, God, for them.

A typical day @ Home:
I'm attempting to put away the mounds of laundry in our bedroom when I realize it is very very quiet. This.is.never.good. Like not good at all, especially when you realize you might have had 3 complete thoughts without interruptions. So...I go to the bathroom to find Ana and Gabriel taking turns dunking their toys in the toilet and Yes, Gabriel was sucking the water out of the towels he had dunked. I know...Totally Disgusting, right? Like you won't eat a potato but toilet water is a tasty treat. Who does that?

Potty training? What potty???
Gabriel decided to take his diaper off to pee today...on the floor. Great!!!!!!!!
Ana, she loves to use the potty, just to wipe. She wipes for like 5 minutes, puts the lid down, and flushes...BUT rarely does she pee. Typically after this process, Gabriel is doing the potty dance, holding himself in the most dramatic of ways, and saying he has to pee. Yeah, right! I know his tricks. He gets on the potty and starts to cry-like every time. So, instead of potty training like most moms, I avoid it like the plague. Ana says, "Pobby"(aka potty) and I say, "Oh, you want to read a book." I know-I'm not really looking for the Mother of the Year award any time soon.

And all this leads me to say I couldn't be more blessed. I wake up every day to a Father who loves me beyond my imagination. He promises to never leave me nor forsake me. He promises that NOTHING can change His love for me. I have a Savior who died for my sins. I have a husband who loves me in a crazy way. I have four beautiful children, and I stand amazed that God would give them to me to raise. It's daunting. I fail. I fail miserably. And yes, I tend to be hard on myself, but seriously, I know how wicked I am. I know the depravity of my heart. I fail but God never fails. He is Faithful and True. Loving and Merciful.

Thank you, God, for all of my children, and I pray the T.Twos don't do me in.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Slow Down...

That's it. To the women of the world, me, needing to listen the most.
Just slow down.

Friday, June 3, 2011

5 Minutes...

I'm trying something new today. I need to get clogs out of my brain these days. I think I have word bundles lodged somewhere inside, begging to come out. I need all the thinking power I can get, so here is a 5 minute brain dump on "Every Day..." Gypsy Mama is the inspiration. The rules are that you write for 5 minutes on the given topic, no editing...just write and publish. Oh, the perfectionist, yet to be rid of fear-of-man in me is scared to jump. But here goes...1-2-3...I'm JUMPING....

Every day...GRACE.

Every day I awake, I ask God to show me more of who He is, more of who He isn't, and who I am in Him. I scuttlebut around, trying to still my body, after pouring my coffee. I am certainly a work in progress.

If not for the grace of God, I wouldn't make it. I used to say I wouldn't make it through a day, nowadays, I wonder if I'd make it through 5 minutes.

Two toddlers-every day-threatening to take me down, working together to mold this mama into who God has chosen for me to be. Every day-Grace. Every Day-God gently leads those who have young. Ahhh...this grace I must remember when my teeth clench hard, eyes see red-when teh cereal has been dumped yet again and the toilet has been played in, and the clothes have been cleared from Lil' Miss's drawers once again.

Every day...grace...to have one loving husband, one amazing son, one beautiful daughter, one sweet sweet boy, one ham of a little girl...5 amazing blessings...everyday.

Thank you, God...You are an amazing God. So faithful. So True. Just and loving. Merciful and gracious.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dear Ethiopia~From, a Mama

Dear Ethiopia~

Thank you for our son and daughter. Thank you for caring for Gabriel John Kibrom and Ana Grace Feven until God chose to place them in our family's arms.

I want you to know...

Without Gabriel and Ana, I may have never known how ugly-black and tarred-my heart really is. For mothering two infants simultaneously has pushed me beyond my own-strength abilities.

Without Gabriel and Ana, I may have never known love is an action, not a warm fuzzy feeling. For mothering two children who have spent the first half year of their lives with someone else causes them not to trust and respond readily, and a mama loves anyway.
I never would have known that deep, true love is not biological. Love is God. God shows who He is and His love for us, by sending His Son to die for you, for me, for us. The only thing I give to Him is my sin. Any unselfish love I give, comes directly from Him.

Without Gabriel, I never would have known little hands that clasp behind my neck and legs pulled up tight in big mama hug.

Without Ana, I never would have known, a little eek of a twisted smile, with eyes all scrunched up, a look, just for her mama.

I would have never known how unrelentingly God shows His love to us, especially through the children he places in our lives.
As my mind swirls with the possibility of adoptions in Ethiopia decreasing by 90%, this mama can offer no solutions, but I humbly ponder-

What if it was my child? What if it was Gabriel or Ana, lying in wait by the side of the road. What if it was Gabriel or Ana, waiting a turn to be held in the room full of infants. And what if it was my child, Gabriel, who has been so sick-needing breathing treatments, waiting in a place where there are no treatments? The reality is, it could be my child.
And I humbly ask-
What if it was your child?
We never know when God will place another precious child into our arms and ask us to raise (or him) her to love Him with all her heart, soul, and mind.

I take great comfort in knowing that our God is sovereign. He knows. Nothing takes Him by surprise. Nothing. I take great comfort in knowing He works ALL things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
I believe adoption to be a replica of our adoption as sons and daughters of God. And I am understanding more and more that satan hates anything that shows Who God is. God's Word says that "In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the one he loves." (Eph. 1:5,6) His Word also says that "...having believed you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-to the praise of his glory." (Eph. 1:13,14)

Jesus told us to pray and that if we have faith and do not doubt, we can move mountains.
Heavenly Father, for your Name's Sake and for Your Glory Alone, we bend our hearts and knees in submission to your will. Your will, Father, not ours be done. We have sinned against you. Each one. We are sorry for the ways we've not cared for orphans and widows and strangers. Please forgive us. Show us what to do, Father. We will be faithful to follow. We pray on behalf of the orphans in Ethiopia. You know each of them by name. You knew them in their mothers' wombs. We pray for wisdom and discernment for all leaders throughout the world who may influence the decisions of adoption cases, especially those in Ethiopia today. Father, thank you for adopting us as your children, never to be forsaken. You are good. You are Holy. You are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. You are victorious. You are gracious and merciful, loving and kind, just and righteous. And one day, you will set all things right. Your kingdom come. Your will be done.

Abba Father, Not Ours, but Your Will Be Done. For your Name's sake. For your glory alone.
With humility, and Gratefulness, and love in Christ.
Angie J. Laubach
Mother of Ana Grace Feven Laubach and Gabriel John Kibrom Laubach

Friday, February 11, 2011

My Everyday

Katie who recently began Faithblogs, encouraged writers to post on our "Everyday".

Here's my not-so- everyday Everyday
Only by the grace of God, am I able to get up about an hour to two hours before anyone else on this side of the world cares to get up. This is my alone time, my Jesus and me time, and I love it. I make a big pot of coffee and settle in for some bible reading, prayer, and writing. Some days I don't get up so early, like today, when my husband awakens me and asks if he should set the alarm.

My dear sweet husband leaves for work, and I usually say something like, "Don't leave me here with them." (meaning the monsters-aka toddlers). For those of you who don't know me, yes, I think all my children are absolute blessings and amazing, God-breathed wonders! Yes, it's true, I need an attitude adjustment on my mothering attitude at times. Yet, it's also true, that my toddlers plot and plan in their cribs to see how incredibly difficult one day can be for a mom.

So, I hear Gabriel around 6:30. Usually let him get awake for a few minutes and then batten down the hatches and prepare for Hurricane Gabriel's arrival each day.

The routine:
Close and lock all doors, not EVER forgetting the bathroom
Put Sawyer's, the dog, water dish high, where no child can reach
Put Sawyer's food dish away (some days I leave this as a chore for Gabriel-he love it
Put my coffee HIGH, so he doesn't drink it like he's done a few times before.
Push all items to the back of the counter top
I wake the big kids around 7:00. They eat breakfast. Most days we read a verse or I share something from my devotional time. We pray and they're off to school.

Finally, go retrieve a jumping boy from his crib. Yes, most days he's jumping or shaking his crib.

Gabriel's partner in crime, aka Ana, awakes somewhere in this process. The girl loves her sleep-once she's sleeping that is. After they've eaten, they start carrying out the actions I'm sure they've planned overnight. They have quite a system. Sometimes they work together and sometimes it's divide and conquer. Who knew two toddlers, one 18 months and one 19 months could wreak so much havoc.

One scheme of theirs is to go to the door that Gabriel can't unlock and Ana can't open. Ana quickly unlocks and Gabriel opens, and they're off to freedom. They typically don't go far-yet! Today I heard congas playing in the back stairway. Yep, they escaped and found Cole's congas. They actually sounded pretty good. We've tried multiple latches on doors and for the most part, unless a door is inadvertently left ajar, we're in fairly good shape. The last of the drawers to be secured, because it was high, not because we're total dodos, was the knife drawer. Jim came home from work one day, and I said, "Um, hon, I'm pretty sure we need a lock on the knife drawer. Ana came in wielding a knife today. Seriously. Gabriel opened the drawer and as any generous brother would do, handed her the knife. Not that I can prove this, except I'm going on past experience and they certainly have set a precedent for themselves in carrying out their schemes. What Gabriel can't unlock, Ana can. What Ana can't reach on tip-toes or scale because of heights, Gabriel is happy to oblige.

This week I have done the following:
1. Pulled a roll of paper towels from the toilet
2. Pulled the same roll of wet paper towels from the hands of the "other one"
3. Pulled both children from being stuck in the baker's rack
4. Removed Gabriel from the top of a bar stool, dining room table, and the computer table
5. Retrieved 6 pieces of gum from Ana's mouth, half a sweet tart wrapper from Ana's mouth, an entire paper towel from Gabriel's mouth (You know when they ask you at the doctor's office if your children eat unusual things. I gave my husband a sideways glance and told them, "Yes!," half expecting to receive a pamphlet on it or something, but I don't think they believed me, though, 'cause the nurse just carried on in her questioning.
6. Figured out a way to keep the toddlers from the kitchen-FOREVER! Let's hope their callings aren't chefs, 'cause they're not being encouraged here.

The mama list of things I've done could go on and on. Really. I can't believe what these little ones can do in a day. I suppose it's my job to train them in the healthy ways to express their creativity, strength, pioneering abilities, and curiosity. So, this is my typical day until about 3:00 when the The Rescuers, aka the sane people in the family return home. I love seeing each one of them coming through the door.

I am so thankful for this life. Perhaps I need reminded of it from time to time. Actually, I do. So, if you see me and I look tired, I am. If you see me and I look like I need a break, I probably do. But make no mistake, I wouldn't trade this for anything in the world. As my oldest daughter often sings, "I don't wanna gain the whole world and lose my soul." I know for certain that God has given me the incredible gifts of being a wife and being a mother. I have a lot to learn about gentleness and patience. Love and perseverance. I am ever so thankful for God's amazing grace, mercy, leading, and love.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

God's Grace~The Artwork, The Completion (for this season), The Creation, of Our Family

I started to think this day would never come, when the impact of God's grace on our family would finally hit me like a rushing waterfall. I thought the moments settled somewhere deep in the recesses of my being. I've seen glimpses of them, but they retreat quickly to that hidden place. I thought I would shed many tears of joy-wonder-amazement-as I landed in Ethiopia, departed from Ethiopia, returned home to my family, or at least certainly sometime over the course of the last year, but mostly they stayed hidden. Until today.

This moment.

Right now.

The impact of God's grace in the life of our family wells up in my heart and spills tears of pure wonder and amazement over my eyelids.

His grace.

Today, this day~ Oh, the thoughts of arriving home from Ethiopia and seeing the creation of a family of children right before my very eyes~Yes, I have witnessed a miracle.

Her eyes danced as she saw us pull up. She jumped as if on a nonstop pogo stick. She squealed with delight and she ran down the hall and then back again. And when she saw them, her jaw dropped. She uttered sweet words of how cute they were and couldn't wait to wrap her
sister-arms around them.

That boy, he stood in amazement as he looked upon his newest siblings. He cried. I think he cried because he knew. He knew that only the God of the universe could orchestrate something so perfect.

Their grandparents stood back. Watching with wonder. Extending grace to a family who was being molded together before their very eyes. Oh, how we love them.

And above the 4 Laubach children's heads as they huddled together on the floor, hung a banner, proclaiming that Ana and Gabriel were indeed "HOME", where they belong.

Today, in just a few short hours, we will rejoice with some of the tiny and adult hands that made that banner, as those same hands and hearts WELCOME HOME their son and brother from Bulgaria.

Indeed, Father, it is by your grace we are what we are.

We praise you.

We honor you.

We love you.

May you be glorified. For your Name's sake.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-to the praise of his glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the one He loves. ~Ephesians 1:4

Friday, February 4, 2011

Departing Ethiopia in Not-So-Much Style

First, a few random photos of our time in Ethiopia.

Just one of the many delicious meals we had while at the guest house.
Where we ate lunch most days-it was rough :-)
Little Ana in Ethiopia. This was one of my favorite outfits.
Sweet Gabriel, sucking those two fingers, even then.

The not-so-smooth departure
Friday was departure day. Ana was not feeling well upon waking, so we talked with the orphanage/guest home coordinator about what to do. She suggested we take her back to the orphanage doctor. We decided the men would stay behind and pack and the girls would take Ana back to the orphanage to the doctor. To say my nerves were crazy would be an understatement. We weaved our way through the streets of Addis once again, to the orphanage. We met with the doctor, who we had met once before in our general overview meeting of the children. As she was examining Ana, she was telling us what was going on and then started recommending medications and how to administer. She speaks English very well, but I was totally overwhelmed by this point, didn't have a pen and paper, and I seriously think I was shutting down. I knew I was totally reliant upon the Lord at this point to see us through. As we left the orphanage, I said to my friend, "What did she say"? My friend, too, had difficulty understanding all that she said. The doctor had given us a prescription, so I showed it to our driver and he took us to a pharmacy in the middle of Addis. I don't even know how to describe all I was feeling. After moments inside the pharmacy, which was the size of large bathroom, I could have kissed the people behind the counter. One young man spoke English very well, and I knew exactly what I needed to do to administer Ana's meds when we left the store. Thank you, God.

We headed back to the guesthouse to finish packing and preparing for our flight home. The flight home was one of the most physically and emotionally challenging things I've ever faced. Ana was throwing up all over the airport. She was already dehydrated. So, I'm thinking, "What am I going to do if she gets worse while we're flying over the pacific ocean?" At this point, I think I was working in my own strength. Even now though, looking back, I don't know I could have done things differently. I was totally overwhelmed. Thank you, Lord, for never changing, even as my feelings and actions fluctuate.

After convincing security to let Ana's medication through (which was a huge liquid bottle), we boarded the plane heading for Dubai. Our plane didn't take off for over an hour. This meant our layover in Dubai was cut down to minutes. As we sat on the plane waiting to take off, I started to feel ill. I remember thinking that certainly I couldn't be getting sick. BUT-certainly, I was. By the time we landed in Dubai, I seriously did not care if we landed safely or not-I was that sick. They graciously held the plane for us and about 50 other people, many who had small children. However, we had to force-march/sprint through the airport. I never wanted to lay down so badly in all my life. We had some difficulty with our passports, but again, there was a very gracious man who was so so sweet and assured me everything was going to be okay. Jim had taken Gabriel to change him because Gabriel had a major blow-out while in the carrier. Jim was getting ill, and he said he had to change him. I was so nervous that the plane would take off without Jim and Gabriel.

Our flight home was challenging. But, by God's grace, Ana started feeling better. Thank you, Lord. I literally was in the bathroom more than I was not due to illness. Jim and our friends took care of the babies the entire 14 hour flight home. I just couldn't do anything. At one point, they took me to the back of the plane and gave me medicine. Once it kicked it, I started feeling better. We were about 2 hours from home. There was a soldier coming home from Afghanistan who sat by Jim. He helped us so much. At one point toward the end of the flight, when everyone was totally exhausted, he even held Ana for us. Again, thank you, Lord. I remember him pointing to Boston as we flew over and said, that's where I'm heading. He couldn't wait to see his little girl. (Thank you to all who serve our country.)

We did laugh at least once on the way home, even if it was at my expense. We were about an hour from New York, and I got up to go to the bathroom one last time. I got to the door of the bathroom, and for the life of me, I couldn't figure out how to get into the bathroom. I stood there puzzled. It wouldn't have been a big deal, but I was in that same bathroom no less than 20 times already throughout the entire flight home. I looked back the aisle at Jim and the soldier for assistance, like something was wrong with the door. I couldn't believe it. They were both laughing at me. They motioned how to get into the bathroom. Jim told me later that the soldier had nudged him and told him to look at his wife trying to get into the bathroom. He recognized it as fatigue-at least that's what he told my husband. I mean, what kind, upstanding soldier would say to another man, "Hey, look at your wife-the woman you chose to have four children with-she can't even figure out how to get into a bathroom."

Snowstorms had hit New York and the surrounding area and closed down airports for at least a day after we landed. We were blessed to be able to arrive home and land when we did. I will never forget the sheer joy of stepping foot onto the airport floor at JFK. I could have rolled around, did cartwheels, anything. It was the best feeling. We went through customs quite easily and walked through the doors to see our friend who so graciously volunteered to pick us up. My husband says that was one of the best sights of his life-seeing our friend's face in the crowd. Once situated, we loaded in the van and made our way home to introduce our four children to one another-one of the sweetest memories for us.

I praise you, Lord, as I look back at our flight home and see how your grace saw us through the entire thing. While it wasn't easy, it was possible only because of you. Thank you.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Forever Signed Out of the Orphanage-one year ago


We awoke after our first full night with Ana and Gabriel. I don't remember many of the details of the night. I know we were awake in the middle of the night, giving Gabriel medicine (which oddly enough we were doing last night, too) and giving each of them bottles. One thing I loved about the orphanage staff was that the babies were on a schedule, BUT the schedule included a midnight feeding, which I was not too fond of.

We went to the orphanage with two other families. We received traditional Ethiopian outfits for both Ana and Gabriel, signed the necessary paperwork, and that was it. We visited the store of the orphanage and picked up a few things for Cole and Julia and for Ana and Gabriel to give to them as they get older. One thing we purchased was a tablecloth w/ the toukoul huts around the edge. Thus far, we've used it for Ana's and Gabriel's birthdays.

In the evening, we were encouraged to go to a traditional Ethiopian restaurant. Our friends and another adopting couple went with us. We met our lawyer at the restaurant and he joined us for dinner. Our drivers were with us, too. It was a great experience. I still can't believe the way the women and men could dance. You have to see the women whip their heads around to believe it. While at the restaurant, there was a wedding party that came for the reception. It was interesting to see.

Unfortunately, Ana started getting sick this evening (now we know it was the formula) and we were scheduled to depart the next day. Our departure day would prove to be a challenging one.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Entoto Mountain and the Babies First Night with Us

Wednesday was the day we had planned to unofficially check the babies out of the orphanage. We couldn't officially sign them out forever until after our embassy appointment, which was the following day. During our time in Ethiopia, the babies' stay in the orphanage was much like my biological children's stay in the hospital's nursery. When my children were in the hospital, I was not one to want to keep my children with me all through the night. I appreciated my sleep, and I trusted the nurses caring for my children. The same can be said for the orphanage. While I absolutely loved my children, I appreciated the transition time for them and for us. This was not the process for another family who arrived in Ethiopia with us. They arrived in Ethiopia and picked up their son the same day. Their family seemed to transition smoothly. Each family must make the decision that's best for their family.

It was decided upon with the orphanage director that we would visit Entoto Mountain in the morning and pick the babies up afterward. Our friends and us packed in our van and were taken through the streets of Addis. Perhaps it's called a hill in Ethiopia, I'm not sure, but from my comparison to the landscape of PA, it was definitely a mountain. I'm told the Ethiopian athletes train on the mountain. It made me tired just looking at it. There were several young people filling the streets just below the mountain. Several women were walking the mountain with firewood on their backs. We saw donkeys/burros carrying firewood as well. Children were walking up and down the mountain. I just sat and stared out the window at the wonder before my eyes. Again, I was reminded, "I wasn't in Kansas anymore."
We visited the museum at the top of the mountain and gave out a few pens at the suggestion of our agency. People came out of the woodwork to receive a pen. I've looked back on this experience and wondered what a few pens could do. I'm not sure of the answer, but I do know it allowed me to touch the people. There was one older gentleman, sitting with his bible, which looked ancient-literally. I sat down beside him and handed him the pen. He looked at me in a way I couldn't decipher. Had he seen a pen before? Was he wondering what I was doing? I couldn't read the expression on his face. Not knowing what else to do, I ripped a piece of paper from my journal and drew a smiley face on it. He gave me a human smile. I gave him the paper and my farewell and headed back to my husband. We loaded back into the van and headed for Toukoul to sign the babies out of the orphanage.

Driving with the babies in the van for the first time was a bit interesting. There are no seat belts and no car seats in Addis. I suppose all of Ethiopia. I'm can be a bit of a safety nut, but it didn't really bother me. It just felt odd, holding the babies in our laps. I remember being sad that when we returned to the US, they would have to be in car seats. (I would have been even sadder, had I known how Ana would scream in hers :-) I don't remember much of the rest of our evening. I know we started the babies on the formula we took, which would lead to a badddd evening the next night. We didn't know it at the time, but both babies are lactose intolerant. I recall being up throughout the night, but I don't know how often. I know we were up at midnight, as the orphanage fed them every night at this time. Gabriel was also on medication for his breathing, which we had to administer through the night at some point.

We awoke on Thursday and prepared to sign the babies out of the orphanage forever.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Would You Do It All Over Again?

Daddy and Gabriel.
Signing Gabriel and Ana out of the orphanage.

The coffee ceremony.

Mama and Ana.

Leaving the orphanage for the last time. (except when we had to take Ana back to the dr.:-)

Last night, my husband and I reflected on walking back through our adoption and discussed whether or not we would choose to walk back through the circumstances of this last year.

Both of us absolutely would walk back through the year to have our son and daughter in our arms, but we were discussing the circumstances on which we had different answers. I said an emphatic, "NO", I would not choose to walk through the circumstances again. Jim said a calm, "yes", he would. I reminded him of Ana being sick before our departure, me being sick the whole plane ride home, our mad-dash through the Dubai airport to catch our plane, our horrid diarrhea upon returning home, moving from our house, moving from our church, and our accident. He just laughed.

I lay this out for other adoptive families who may not have their child/children in their arms yet and even for others who put expectations on future endeavors. I often have an expectation of how things are going to go, how I'm going to feel, and how I'm going to be smiling all the while I'm doing it, when in reality, things most often do not go the way I think they will, my emotions are crazy, and I'm often crying or silent instead of smiling. I often say I have a rainbows and unicorns mentality before the fact, and during I wonder what hit me.

I definitely had this mentality in preparing for our time in Ethiopia. I expected to feel "love at first sight" when landing on Ethiopian soil. I didn't. It felt so surreal, that I don't know that I had any emotions, or perhaps too many to express. I expected to feel "right at home", when in reality, I felt "so far from home". This IS how I felt when we landed in Guatemala 6 months prior. I felt "at home". During our stay in Ethiopia, I expected to meet a hundred people I fell in love with and we'd keep in touch-well, I don't think I remember one person's name, with the exception of our driver, who spoke little English.

Everyone was so welcoming and the people were just beautiful. We were well taken care of and I loved so many things about Addis. Even now, I can reflect back and remember tiny details that make my heart swell.
I love how the roads had no signs-it pretty much fits my don't-put-me-in-a-box mentality.
I love the young woman at the desk of our guest house. She was so sweet.
I love our driver, even though we communicated very little. I love how he reminded me of George Jefferson and all the while I felt like he was our protector.
I love how we sat on the balcony at night playing cards with our friends.
I love hearing the Ethiopian music wafting through the guesthouse as we slept.
I love the memory of holding the man's hand at Entoto mountain.
I love how the many cupped his hands and said a million thanks for shoes that a teenager had sent from the US for someone who could use them.
I love how the men showed affection toward one another.
I love how we ate outdoors almost every lunch.
I love how there was a calmness about the people.
So many things to love...

Is it possible to prepare and move forward with no huge expectations of feeling this and feeling that? I suppose it is. I believe this is how my husband operates, and I so admire him for it.

I wonder as I type if I tried to do things in my own strength while in Addis. In part, I suppose I did. I know for certain that it is God's amazing grace that has seen us through the last year. I know God works all things for good for those who love him. I know we are richly blessed beyond measure. I know Jesus Christ holds all things together. I know I choose the One True God versus the god of my feelings today as I walk out the steps before me.

May you be richly and deeply blessed as you move forward in whatever steps the Lord may have you take today and always, for His Name's sake and glory alone.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face~one year later

January 31, 2011

One year ago today, I awoke in a hotel room in Dubai, UAE, with the anticipation of seeing our son and daughter for the first time. It was not a definite, as we were told Sundays are “family days” and our drive may not be available and the orphanage may not be open to visitors. So with a prayer in my heart to see them on this day, we set off for Ethiopia. We landed four hours later on a runway surrounded by fields and random people standing at various places throughout the fields. I have not a clue what they were doing. I never even thought about them until now. It was such a surreal moment. I fully expected to land in Ethiopia and feel an overwhelming surge of familiarity, but it did not come. It felt foreign, just as it was, some 7,000+ miles from home.

We piled out of the airplane and went through the paperwork in the airport. The Ethiopian woman behind the desk was annoyed with a dignitary in front of me for some reason. There was a problem with his paperwork. On one hand, I was glad she wasn’t allowing just anyone to pass through, but on the other, I knew he was getting frustrated and angry and I was already feeling a bit out of my comfort zone. We got through the paperwork and getting our luggage and finally met Sintayew, our lawyer.

I asked someone if they knew him, as we missed seeing him holding the sign. I think he overheard me and came over. He said he was standing there holding the sign and we missed him. Anyway, we were off to the van, after tipping some men for “helping” us with our luggage. We met Ephraim, who would be our driver for the week. He didn’t speak much English, but we didn’t speak any Ahmaric, so who could fault him. He was a sweet man.
As we drove to the guest home, Sintayew asked if we’d like to see our children. I immediately said, “YES!”. I don’t even remember hearing Jim’s reply. I took a deep breath and settled into my seat. All was well-I would see my babies today.

We settled into our rooms in the guest home. It was a beautiful place. We had two bedrooms and a bathroom. We had two cribs waiting for our children. I don’t remember much of the wait, except for the things I managed to scratch in my journal. We were told Ephraim was ready to take us to the orphanage.

We got our first taste of the roads in Addis. There are no road signs, no stop lights, and few if any lines on the road. Interestingly enough, it didn’t really bother me. It reminded me of being in Guatemala City a year prior, and I loved it. As we drove down the road, I saw the “Toukoul” orphanage sign as we approached. We turned onto a dusty little road, waited for an animal to move (I think it was a goat.) and were ushered through the blue gate of the orphanage. Once inside, we were taken to the guest room for our first meeting with Kibrom and Feven.

While our friends prepared the video camera and regular camera, we were pretty much overwhelmed. There were so many emotions zipping through our bodies. Again, a surreal moment. Much like Jim coming to my workplace and telling me about our referral. Much like getting the phone call that we passed court. Much like landing in Ethiopia. And here we are. This is it. The moment we’d been waiting for. Our eyes stayed glued on the door through which they would enter with our babies. And then it happened.

Two nannies entered through the door with our children. Words can’t describe it. Only through our photos do tears and stunned looks of amazement allow one to imagine what we were feeling. We each took one into our arms. Now, for months prior, I had coached myself on how not to cry when I met them so they wouldn’t be scared. Well, as soon as I held Ana/Feven in my arms, hot tears poured down my face. I couldn’t believe I got to be the mom in this moment. I couldn’t believe God chose me. Why me, Lord? Thank you, Lord-I whispered in my heart.

Jim and I took turns holding each one. Our friends graciously stood back, took video, and watched this family grow. The both smiled and laughed as though they’d been waiting for us. It was amazing.
Feven’s/Ana’s hair was straight. She was wearing a yellow outfit. She was so tiny and so cute. She was small but mighty. She could army crawl and roll over. She loved my tree pendant on my necklace and played with it every time I held her in Ethiopia. She had sad-looking eyes when she wasn’t smiling. I actually asked Jim if he thought she might have Down’s Syndrome. Looking back now, it is only by God’s grace that this little girl smiled. From this moment on for many months, every time she met a stranger or went to an unfamiliar place, she stuck her hand in her mouth and froze.
Kibrom’s/Gabriel’s hair was curly. He was wearing a pink outfit. He was skinny and tiny. He didn’t do anything but sit in your arms and look cute. He smiled and laughed, despite a very raspy cough.

They both had scabies and diarrhea, which really wasn’t a big deal, except for the blow-outs on the plane ride home.
We studied them and wondered over them for a little over an hour. It was time to go back to the guest house and decompress. We had met our children.

Meaning of Their Names
God clearly showed us their names in November of 2007. At the time, we only knew Gabriel John and Anna. Over time, God gave us Grace as a middle name for Ana. Feven and Kibrom are their Ethiopian names. We chose to spell Ana's name with one "n", as this is how it's spelled in Guatemala. We met a little girl in Guatemala whose name was Ana and God drew my heart to hers.

When I looked up the meanings for the first time, I was amazed at what I found. It was clear that God had a plan for these two little ones.
Ana~ Grace
Grace~ Favor
Feven (given Ethiopian name)~ brilliant
Gabriel~ God is my might
John~ God is gracious
Kibrom (given Ethiopian name)~ Our pride
I recently read that God doesn't call us to a thing, that is, a mission, an occupation, adoption, whatever. No, He calls us to Himself.
We praise you, God, for who you are and inviting us in.
We praise you for your Amazing Grace.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Year Ago...

On January 29, 2010, we flew out of JFK, headed for Dubai, UAE. We were filled with all kinds of crazy emotions.

On January 31, we landed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and were taken to the YGF Guest House. We were finally in Ethiopia. It was a surreal moment.

A few hours later, we headed for Toukoul Orphanage to meet our son and daughter. We arrived at the orphanage and were ushered through the blue gate.

After waiting 10-15 minutes in the guest room, we met Gabriel John Kibrom Laubach and Ana Grace Feven Laubach for the the first time. (Gabriel is in pink. Ana is in yellow.)

Finally, we have our children in our arms. Two of our children remain on the other side of the world. Again, it was a surreal moment. No words can express the emotions that run through your body. Praising God for His goodness and this indescribable gift of family.
He indeed sets the lonely in families.