Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dreaming for 2013

I am a huge dreamer!  Steve laughs at me because he always says that he's two years behind my dreams.  It may have taken two years to bring Steve on board w/ adoption, but there's no doubt that some dreams are meant to be reality.  I am overwhelmed by God's grace as I sit here during this quiet time in my house watching the snow hail down on my back porch.  It feels like I'm looking at a snow globe.  The kids, dogs, and my husband are all still sleeping, and I just sit with my coffee and praise God for all He is doing.  It's as if I'm sitting on one end of the wardrobe looking out into Narnia, wondering what's out there.
I wonder, I dream, I hope.
2013 is knocking on our door, and I'm thankful for all of the possibilities it could bring.  I am so excited to get my new website up to be able to use it as a tool to connect more with God and others.  I literally can't wait to promote it as a dialogue site, something interactive, where we can talk about this journey and how God is moving.  I have learned through Young Life that the greatest conversations are the ones where I shut up and just listen.  I want to hear you and pray for you, but most of all, I want you to hear each other and pray for one another.
I have had many conversations with people, especially over the past year, that has inspired me and challenged me.  I want to encourage more of that.  To be honest, there's so much useless chatter.  What if we cut all the bull crap and talked about what mattered?  What if we dreamed together and allow God to work in those conversations to do something more than having the perfect home or the perfect outfit or the perfect whatever.  Because when it all comes down to it, there is nothing perfect other than our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  It is in Him, with His compass that we find a way through this messy maze.  I am also learning that my free will sometimes gets in the way and everyday I have more to surrender to Him.  There are corners inside of my heart that need some serious cleaning out, and there are corners that I don't even know exist!  I'm trusting everyday that He is leading me right where He needs me to clean out the gutters of my heart and to use that process and the gifts He's given me to do something that glorifies Him.
When we moved to Indianapolis six years ago, Steve and I thought our family "needed" certain things. We made certain decisions about what we thought we needed in order to be happy and settled as a family.  Everyday I find myself more and more certain that we were reaching for the wrong dream, the American dream rather than God's dream.  At the same time, I know God has not moved us out of this situation because He has more for us to learn and process, and for that, I'm grateful.
I know many would say that it's because of the American Dream that I even have the opportunity to dream of anything else.  I get that, but I think I've realized that the things that I thought I needed are not the things that inspire me and stir my heart; they more or less make me feel like I'm on a hamster wheel.  And yet it's hard to find a balance between not being a slave to your things and being a good steward of what God has given you.  I'm praying to find God's perspective on where He wants me to be with that.
Anyway, here are some of the big things I'm praying for in 2013:

  • My website, hopefully to launch on January 1!  I'm literally giddy about these conversations and to see what comes from them.  
  • Going to Ethiopia this summer with Alex and friends.  CAN'T WAIT!
  • Hopefully selling our current home to move into something simpler.  I know there is a family out there who needs this home a lot more than we do. 
  • Growing more with God and His ministry in Young Life.  I LOVE these kids.  They have become a part of my heart, and I'm so excited to take this journey with them! 
  • Trusting God more and more each day and being thankful for His grace.
Dream big, dream far. 
Much love, 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Kick the Door Down

As a parent, I think one of the most challenging things to navigate is when your kids have to deal with disappointment.
My crazy, coo coo ten year old, Alex, has dealt with disappointment and heart ache this week.  For the fifth year in a row, she didn't get a part in her school's Christmas program.  Now, I'm not writing this to gather your support to tear any walls down, that's not it at all; but I am praying on how to walk through this with Alex and emphasize Christ's love in all circumstances. 
At the heart of it, I know my sweet girl just wants a chance to shine, to be recognized out of the crowd, to be seen as someone special, even for just a three word part.  Alex intellectually knows that she is God's girl, His child, but emotionally that's hard to stand on in moments like these.  It's times like right now that God is building her faith and character.  To be honest, she's not buying my well intentioned encouragement and exhortations. 
On Fridays, I do a 5-10 minute read aloud with my students; it's a nice way to end the week.  We are currently reading from an awesome book called Love Does by Bob Goff.  In order to make the stories work for a public school setting, I modify some parts.  All in all, the stories are classic and quite character building. 
Today's story started like this, "I used to think God guided us by opening and closing doors, but now I know sometimes God wants us to kick some doors down."  It proceeded with Bob's personal story about how he kicked the door down to get into law school; it's pretty cool.
I keep thinking back to the past few weeks with Alex.  Everyday she would get in the car and announce to me how many parts were left to be handed out in the Christmas program, in hopes that maybe one would be hers.  I would pray for her, and I KNOW she was praying about it too!  Finally, just the other day, she hopped in the car and said, "Well, I have really good news.  Mrs. ___ is adding one more part to the program."  Oh, my heart was hoping that it could be for her, but I cautiously told Alex to pray about it and that, no matter what, we knew she would do an amazing job in the program and that she didn't need a part to shine and contribute to the festivities to celebrate Jesus!  She accepted my advice with hesitancy...
As you can guess, Alex didn't get that last part.  In order to teach her "good sportsmanship,"  Steve and I filled her with many of:
Not everything is fair.
God is not through with you yet.
Sometimes God's plan is a million times better than we could ever imagine.
 These are moments where God builds our faith.
Amidst all of this, she asked if she should talk to this particular teacher about her feelings.  We tread carefully with this, and encouraged her to write down what she wanted to say and to word it in such a way that would ask, more or less, how she could improve.  She ended up writing three drafts; it obviously meant something to her.  So, she tried to seize the moment, and it didn't go so well. 
What can you do?
I was reminded by Bob Goff's story that sometimes you need to kick the door down.  Bob Goff readily admits that he was not as prepared for the LSAT as he ought to be, nor was he the most studious of students, but he felt determined.  If you know the story, he sat outside the dean's office for a whole week before law school started and then five more days after it started, hoping that the dean would instruct him to, "Go get your books."  And finally it happened.
If you know anything about Bob Goff, he's extraordinary.  His international work through Restore International has helped many children through the justice system.  It's one of my dreams to go and visit his school in Uganda, where many of these children have a home, are educated, and loved. 
Where would Bob Goff be if he didn't sit outside the dean's office?  What if he just accepted the simple rejection letter? 
There could be a number of answers to those questions, but I can't imagine Bob Goff doing anything else than what he's doing right now.  He couldn't be doing any of it without his law degree which he only accomplished because he first did not accept a simple no. 
So, what if I go home tonight and tell Alex that if she really wants, she can express her thoughts without trepidation; sometimes we don't have to accept the no.  It's a risk, but maybe it's worth it. I don't know if the elementary school Christmas program is her place to claim her stake, but I wonder if the advice I gave her was really what I should be telling her; to just politely accept the No's in life. 
I'm not saying that every battle is worth fighting, but some are.  Seeing my child cry herself to sleep over something makes me think that this means something to her in her ten year old world.  Maybe it is worth kicking down the door.  I don't know if she's going to become a Broadway actress, but perhaps this could teach her to fight for the important stuff. 
The "great perhaps" is definitely there.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  It could be a great dialogue for us! Much love and God bless, friends.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Two, To, Too, TUEsday

Today is TOO cool.  Today marks many things that I love about the word TWO, TOO, TO, TUEsday (btw, an underrated day).  First and foremost, today is birthday # TWO for my Jesse Getiso. 
This is a picture of him from the other day after opening birthday gift number TWO from Grandma Donna and Grandpa Bobby.  He loves anything that moves.  Jesse continues to light up our lives.  I still cannot believe that I get the privilege of calling this sweet boy my son. 
On that note, I would be lying if I didn't share with you some thoughts on how my boy has TWO mamas.  I think about his "Mama Alemetu" every day, especially days like this.  We pray for her every night.  We pray that God sends her comfort and peace that her little boy is loved beyond measure.  These feelings especially arise as J cuddles in my arms each night before he goes to bed.  We have a pretty solid bedtime routine, and he often takes his TWO sweet hands and pulls my head down, so we are touching forehead to forehead as we sit in a big, comfy chair in his room.  There, I remind him each night of all the people who love him so very much; the last TWO things I say are, "and Mama Alemetu loves you" (he usually gives me a "aah") "and Jesus loves you"  (with a final "aah").  It is my dream that I can meet this special woman who gave everything up.  TWO years ago, this young woman lost her husband to malaria and was forced to give up her son, so he wouldn't die from starvation.  She means so much to me.  If you think of it, please pray for her by name.  She is a special part of our family.
Speaking of dreams, I have one that I'm working on, hence the journal picture at the top of this post.  I'm kind of technological ding dong, so I apologize about it being sideways; I couldn't find the option to turn it around on this blog :(  My dream is to create a new blog; something that will invite more people to celebrate the journey they're on with God.  I will be giving you more details in the future, but my hopeful launch date will be the infamous January 1!  I'm working on designing a logo, button, etc.  to share with others.  My dream is that it will be interactive, something that people can feel that they converse with me about and find meaningful and relevant to their lives.  I hope that it will inspire dialogue with me, God, their friends, and family.  I'm really really TOO excited about this.
So, I thought TOday was a symbolic day to share some of these things:  it's TUESday, I'm TOO excited, and Jesse turns TWO TOday. 
The final cathartic moment came when I started teaching during period number TWO in class TOday.  This is a small class of kids who find reading a challenge.  My job is TO inspire them to read and fill in the gaps of their reading journey, so they can springboard into grade level curriculum.  We always start the period with a short time TO journal; these are kiddos who often have TOO much on their minds and need some space to vent about stuff.  I journal along side of them and noticed that TOday was the last page in my journal; it seemed TO mark the end of a chapter.  I loved it.  So, I wrote about that. 
I'm thrilled TO share chapter TWO with you in my new blog that you'll hopefully see on January 1.  There will be more information TO come. 
Happy TUEsday.  I'm so thankful for you and You :)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Juxtaposition of a Wednesday

"...if you have the capacity to experience huge, engulfing joy, then you can also feel its equal and opposite level of pain."
-Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin

Opposites butting against one another.  That's all I can say to describe this week.  Opposites of my emotions, feelings, etc..

 The one hour late start for Hamilton Southeastern Schools.  Should be good, right?  We should be hopefully working on professional development and planning exciting lessons to teach our kids and engage them in learning.  Well, no.  We don't do that.  Our staff spent the hour ticked off in front of computers attempting to navigate the new teacher evaluation system given by the state, which will determine if we are worthy of our salary and a raise next year.  Ok.  So we spent an hour realizing that the hours that we have to put into this is really just collecting data (that can be totally fudged, by the way) and pretty much turn our assistant principal into just a data collecting machine who will in turn just spew data back at the state; not spending time with kids, not helping kids, not helping teachers.  My blood began to boil.  My "extra degree" was about to steam me right through the roof.  I know I am being risky stating this publicly, but it needs to be said, and we need to not be afraid to say how ridiculous this is.  The tax payers need to know what their money is going towards, not helping teachers be better teachers or kids be engaged to love learning, but to go through mindless data collection and fill out stupid forms.  Done.  You've been given the information, do with it what you will.  (By the way, the state will totally say it helps us track higher level learning, etc..  They're wrong, and if they were educators and actually thought out how this would play out, they would know that; but educators do not run our educational system...just sayin'.  When the rubber meets the road, we're being asked to give out more tests in order to track data and then spend all of our time collecting the data rather than spending our time researching, planning, and executing phenomenal lessons.  Don't let anyone blow smoke up your butt.)
This literally made me want to vomit.  I took a half day to do one thing:  go home and cry my eyes out. The mourning of a 16 year teaching career that leads to this.  The trends are not good, folks.  I don't care what school district you're in.  Every public school educator has to do this.
Steve comes home a bit early.  He holds me and lets me cry, cuss, be utterly sad that I spend time away from my sweet children to play this game.  Beautiful.  And here's the other end of my juxtaposition:  as I lay there crying, I'm surrounded my his sweet arms, telling me that it's going to be ok, we'll figure this out together.  That was Jesus with me there.  That was my husband.  I love him so very much.
We decide together that this could very well be a God thing.  We confirm it, we pray about it, we discuss it more, and ask God to use this for His will.  Joy, excitement, anticipation.  

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday:
Recovery.  The realization that there is a lot on my plate, but there are a few things that mean so very much to me, the rest can go on the back burner.  Things that are priority:
Jesus:  How can I glorify Him without burning out?  How does he want to use me in this season of my life?  Listening, obeying, trusting.
Family :  Being a wife and mom who isn't always stressed out over the next item on my to do list. Being present with my family.  Enjoying the funny moments, being patient through the tough moments.  Making pancakes :), going on Alex's field trips, jumping on the couch with Jesse, dreaming with my husband (we're good at this).
Friends:  Saying thank you!  Sometimes saying no, so I don't stretch myself too thin.  Being someone who actually is hearing and taking in what they have to say rather than being stressed in that moment about twenty million other things (maybe you can relate). 
Young Life, Ethiopia/Africa, Ministry:  What makes me tick as the woman I am.  Spending time and being with crazy teenagers, planning another trip back to Ethiopia (hopefully one to find Jesse's birth mom, our sweet Mama Alemetu) to serve, give, love.  To stay connected with the place that made me feel what life is really about.  Write, write about what's going on, how God is moving and changing the culture of my life.  Yes!

One more quote:
"The stars don't look as good when it's not cold.  And places that have to transitions make you feel like change isn't possible.  I believe in change, even now, even after everything that's happened.  Maybe because I grew up in a place that can be scalding and freezing both."
-Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin

With God, there's nothing to be afraid of.  He's got this.
PS.  If you haven't seen this video, you much watch it.  I want to live my life like this drummer:

I bet he's experienced great loss along with his great joy, but who can resist living like this, even amidst the madness?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Multiple Personalities

I feel absolutely blessed to be an educator.  Every day is a gift, but there are times as a teacher that you feel a multitude of feelings.  The main season is the "heading back to school" season.  My husband literally gears up for it, knowing that he may find me giddy one moment and crying the next.  The range of emotions teeter from elation to utter despair.  Let me explain...
Going back to school means another year of funny kids, making a difference, a neat (although quite demanding) package of complete structure, seeing teacher friends, getting your hands dirty with great and worthy work.
On the other hand, going back to school means not hanging out with your kids, making a meal while trying to beat the clock, the end to the freedom of the summer schedule, goodbyes to vacations and camps, and not having a somewhat clean house on a daily basis.  This year hit me especially hard having Jesse home.  He's not in school, and although he is in the most loving and wonderful day care situation a woman could ask for, I don't get to see him as much.
Going back to school is refreshing for me, but it also makes me nervous...can I do it all?  I still don't have an answer to that.  Thankfully, God has provided a wonderful job for me to help our family financially, and I'm grateful for it.  The hard part is not waking up at 5 am for me; the hard part hits at 3:15 pm, when I'm butt tired from teaching, and my sweet children are waiting for their mama to care for them, help her with homework, play trains, cook dinner while holding him on my hip, solve dilemmas, discipline with love, bathe them, and put them to bed with stories and kisses...and then there's laundry to do.
I know so many of you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Bear with us teachers who are mamas and wives.  August is tough.  August is not only saying hello, but it's also saying goodbye.  We have the best jobs in the world, but it's a conundrum of emotions sometimes.  It's building up the stamina to do our busy days; it's building up new muscles.  It's praying that your kids and you don't actually get sick while you get back on your feet again because it would really be tough to schedule a doctor's appointment while you're trying to get your students back in the swing again too.  It's a lot of pressure, for sure.
I always say that I have multiple personalities every August.  I'm thankful for an understanding husband who hangs in there so sweetly through it all.  He knows what's coming every year, and although I try not to go there with my wisdom; it's still an emotional feat I haven't conquered yet, especially now, experiencing being a mama to a young one once again.
I pray for our kiddos who are not only our babies but also our students.  We want to do right by them.  We love them, and that's what it all comes down to.
Our tears may invade the spaghetti sauce a few times this month, but there's joy in the morning.  This I know.  This I know for sure.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Home from YL Camp...Two weeks later

I have to tell you that I couldn't write about camp as soon as I got home a week and a half ago.  I was on an utter camper's high.  Cheezy, I know, but true.  I absolutely needed some space to process this crazy thing that I did and am involved in now.
For one thing, I was by far the oldest person in our group.  The night before we left we got together for dinner to pray and talk about the week ahead w/ the kids.  I sat at a table with well spoken college kids (who prayed like a wise Billy Graham; totally intimidating, btw!), two recent high school graduates with amazing enthusiasm, an experienced Young Life couple, my sweet colleague (Sarah Wright) who breathes this ministry and then there was me.
I think most of us can say that we are our own worst enemy, and as I've been surrounded by such encouraging people, I stepped into this w/ fears and trepidations... such as:

  • I'm old(er).  Late 30's, not crazy old (I mean that w/ love w/in the context in which I'm speaking!)
  • I have two kids.
  • I have a career.
  • Um, this list could go on...
But here's the deal, we all get into things because we are attracted to it.  Often there's something we can't quite name straight out, but we feel a pull to it.  When Sarah Wright mentioned that Young Life was getting started at HSE, I didn't quite know why I wanted to do it, I just did.  The reasons came later.  And here's what I figured out:
  • I want to do this because I love kids.  I love these crazy teenagers whom I'm blessed to work with every day.
  • I've been feeling the need to let down my walls a bit.  In the classroom, there's definitely a wall (which I respect) of how much a teacher shares (religion, etc...).  School is vital, without a doubt, but there's some things that matter more.  Kids go through stuff, kids question stuff, kids push the boundaries.  Within the boundaries of being a public school teacher, there's only so much you can do.  That's ok, I get that.  I know there's a huge piece of me that has the energy and desire to poor into kids that I'm not totally able to do at school.  
  • After talking with Jon Houghton, who is in charge of YL here in Indy, YL stood for everything I believe in.  It's not about just ministering to kids who already have a relationship with Christ, it's for everybody.  It's about getting to know kids and meeting them where they are, however that looks.
  • I love Jesus and how he leads me through this crazy life.  I want to be used by Him.  I want to do anything He calls me to do, despite my fears.  
At camp, we went nuts.  I did things that the average mom doesn't do.  I did camp... I ran in the rain multiple times, I sang at the top of my lungs until I was horse, I wore blue eyeshadow with an awkward 80's ponytail, I stayed up until 2 am laughing at girls while they fake farted (which was freaking hilarious), I wore hill billy teeth while someone gave me a piggy back in wet grass, I did an obstacle course in the pitch black, I laughed my butt off while the girls showed me the latest dance moves as seen at your average junior high party, I cheered kids on to stuff their faces with plate sized sundaes, I had deep conversations amidst laughter and tears about what's going on in life & what Jesus means in the middle of that, just to name a few...
And it was so meaningful.  I was inspired and energized by all this.  And you know all those people that I met for dinner before we left, we became friends.  Oh my gosh, I love these guys.  These sweet college kids made me laugh so hard and just shared their crazy experiences, dreams, and questions about adulthood. Yes, there were a few old jokes, but I loved it.  I really did;)
I just can't help but think that that's how Jesus works.  He shows you a door, you hesitantly walk through it, and He showers you with blessings.  He'll take that mustard seed of faith and make it grow into something beautiful.  
So, I have these four eighth grade girls whom I adore.  I'm so excited to take this journey with them.  They make me laugh, but more than that, they opened their hearts to me, and I'm so humbled by that.  
Jesus has really shown me in the past few years that some of the coolest things He wants to bring into my life starts with feeling awkward and unsure of myself.  
This past Saturday, I had a great conversation with an old, dear friend about how we often (especially as moms) define ourselves so strictly and don't open ourselves to all the crazy possibilities that could make our lives so multi dimensional.  
On another note, when I came back from Ethiopia last summer with our sweet boy, I had a difficult time looking around me and finding this American lifestyle acceptable.  I still hurt over the excess in which I and the average American feel that we need (I absolutely take responsibility too!).  But I now feel energized that God is using me for these kids, although I often just want to sell everything and move the family to Ethiopia, I'm here, and I feel like I have a purpose.  I'm grateful.  
God is so good in this messy life.  I'm so appreciative of the people He's put in my life, the craziness of this journey, and the courage He gives us to do coo coo things.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Darned if you do and darned if you don't...Jesus Style

I've been reading through the New Testament in The Message Bible.  I just want to reconnect with who  Jesus is.  Now, I haven't gotten very far; to be real, I'm in Matthew; yes, the first book of the New Testament.  But, have you ever had this moment where you feel like you need to get to know someone again?  Maybe because I've changed a lot over the journey since giving my life to Christ (and have tons more room to grow...), I feel this sense of needing to read through what Jesus said, did, thought, revealed about who God is, and ultimately saved.
So, I come to the beatitudes.  The first one says, "You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope.  With less of you there is more of God and his rule" (The Message).  I'm thinking to myself, "How many times a week do I feel at the end of my rope?"  Answer:  many.  Consequently, I come to this passage later on in Matthew:
They landed in the country of the Gadarenes and were met by two madmen, victims of demons, coming out of the cemetery.  The mend had terrorized the region for so long that no one considered it safe to walk down that stretch of road anymore.  Seeing Jesus, the madmen screamed out, "What business do you have giving us a hard time?  You're the son of God!  You weren't supposed to show up here yet!"  Off in the distance a herd of pigs was browsing and rooting.  The evil spirits begged Jesus, "If you kick us out of these men, let us live in the pigs."
Jesus said, "Go ahead, but get out of here!"  Crazed, the pigs stampeded over a cliff into the sea and drowned.  Scared to death, the swineherds bolted.  They told everyone back in town what had happened to the madmen and the pigs.  Those who heard about it were angry about the drowned pigs.  A mob formed and demanded that Jesus get out and not come back.
What the heck??  This town has been living in fear for what I'm assuming had been a very long time, Jesus comes and saves these mens' lives and gets rid of the danger, and everyone is more concerned about the pigs.  Now I'm sure I'm missing some historical importance here, but there's something about this story that seems timeless and so personal.
How many times are we so used to a problem and complaining about it, that it almost becomes "comfortable" to us.  This sort of thing absolutely puts me at the "end of my rope" as stated in the first beatitude.  I find this often in my life as a parent and in education.  It's scary because these are two areas that are so important to children's lives.
In education, we see problems and often the answers are there, but they aren't easy to implement.  It's something that will take time and resources, but more often than not, we go with the "answer" that is easier to do, it's more comfortable, it doesn't require as much as a sacrifice, but in doing so, you end up creating a problem for the problem you just tried to solve.  It's a train wreck.  What if we just went with the true solution?  What if we just tried that and created real change?  Just a thought.  Jesus took (and takes) care of problems if we're willing to let go of some things.  The town was ticked about their loss of the pigs without truly recognizing what just happened:  the demons were gone, people were safe, and the mens' lives were saved.
Parenting is a bit of conundrum too, especially with a tween daughter (LOL).  My sweet daughter has a multitude of tough spots to get through each day, as do most 9 year olds.  Unfortunately, she doesn't always like my answer or solution.  Instead, she would rather sulk with the problem that actually solve it.  UGHHH.  My problem is that I don't have much patience with this sort of thing.  Obviously, God is working on my here.
Ultimately, this sort of thing happens everywhere, and it makes me really excited for the rapture.  Rapture me, Oh God!  It also brings me back to the reminder that this is not our home.  Our home is in heaven with our Father and His Son.  This world is not getting any better although I'm convinced we can change lives while we're here.  Honestly, our lives are changing while we're here, if we are honest with ourselves.
In moments like these, I just want more of Him.  I hunger for His wisdom and clarity.  I feel extremely blessed and these end of the rope moments are a part of daily living...AND this is why we are blessed when we feel this way because we look to Him, rely on Him, want Him because we've got nothin'.
People on this earth are going to be complaining about their pigs.  I pray that through God's power that you and I are doing and can do something to change those hearts.  Sometimes you never know.
Thanks for Your Word, God.  Thanks for Jesus and all that He reveals about Your love, Your glory, and the truth.  We were made for You, not for this world.  Thank You for reminding me of this every day and not letting me be comfortable among this mess.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Jesse's Gotcha Day: Hooray!!!!

As I was getting ready to write this post to celebrate Jesse's Gotcha Day, I was thinking of potential titles.  Here's what I came up with as runner ups:

  • Blurry Pictures
  • Party in the ET
  • One of the Best Days of My Life
The list could go on...
As cliche as it sounds, I honestly can't believe it's been one year since Steve and I were reunited with our little man, strapped him to me in Baby Ergo, and walked out of the gates of the amazing Hannah's Hope.  It was out of this world.
After a 24 hour flight with some of the most awesome people I've had the pleasure of knowing (our gaggle of other adoptive families whom we quickly loved and adored!), we arrived at our "home away from home" in Addis Ababa:  The Riviera, where we were warmly re-greeted by the familiar faces that made us feel so comfortable a few weeks earlier.  I was so happy.
There was time to shower and possibly close our eyes for an hour before Wass picked us up, giddy and exhausted to bring our babies home.
I remember singing Whitney Houston's "One Moment in Time" in the van as we approached the gates; I was out of my mind!  I didn't care about cameras, videos, nothing...I just wanted my Jesse Getiso.  I just wanted him in my arms.  So, as soon as the gate opened, I just went in with an utter abandonment that this would be a moment I would want to record.  I have a blurry picture of Steve holding Jesse.  It's hysterical.  That's how I remember this day:  blurry, giddy, running on absolute adrenaline.  My boy was coming home.
With all of the joy, came the sadness too.  When we arrived at the hotel, we brought Jesse up to our room to just have time to bond.  He began to cry that could only be described as utter loss.  Jesse was unmistakably grieving.  He was just torn from all that he knew.  But he held me, wailed, allowed me to love him, and I was not letting go.  After about two hours, he was exhausted and fell asleep in my arms.  The mama in me just knew he needed us more than anything. Steve and I took turns holding this emotionally exhausted boy as he slept.
When he woke up, he was happy again.  Amazing.  That week in ET was sleep deprived, joyous, full of laughter, and tons of community as we hung close with the other adoptive families.  I'm so grateful to have shared this journey with them.  My fondest memory was how Jesse would literally take my face while he was in the Baby Ergo and hold it right in front of his to peer into my eyes over and over and over with the biggest smile on his face.  He was memorizing me, taking me in, holding me tight.  Since then, we have always been close like peas and carrots.  He's a mama's boy, and I don't have one apology for it!
We love our boy, we love his big smiles and laughter.  We love the ups and downs that we have had as a family.  We are in awe of his heritage.  We think of his birth mama every day.  We are humbled to be on this journey.  
Happy Gotcha Day, Jesse.  We love you more than you can imagine.  We dream big for you:  to grow more dependent on God, to love with all of your heart, take risks, and know all along how much you are loved.
Mommy, Daddy, and Sissy

Friday, June 8, 2012

Holy Cannoli...I'm going to camp!

 My friend and colleague, Sarah Wright, is infectious.  Anyone who knows her, wants to do whatever she's doing.  It's that simple.  She's made friendship bracelet club the hottest thing to do at our school.  Who knew friendship bracelets could be hot?  This coo coo 24 year old, got me hook, line, and sinker.  She got me involved in Young Life.  I'm going to camp, y'all!
Yesterday, as I sat down with Jon, the super nice guy who runs the YL ministry here in Indianapolis and watched w/ a smile as my kids straight up destroyed his office and threw about four tantrums with in five minutes, got me started with "all I need to know for camp."  Although I had to cut our meeting short, for fear that I was going to have a moment with my kids in this nice man's office, I am on my way.
I'm getting older, that is no lie, but I still love the insane teenagers who roam the halls of my school and deliberately choose to make bad choices at their desks (I like to blame it on the 'ol non developed frontal lobe).  I love their messy journey, specifically at this crazy time of their lives.  Now, I'm going to live and breathe it for a week at camp this summer while getting to know them and see how I can serve them through this often intense time of their lives.
I'm asking for prayer from y'all as I gear up for camp on a few levels:

  • Please pray for Alex and Jesse.  I've never been away from Jesse for this long (let alone a night in itself).  Please pray for comfort and security for them while mama is away.
  • Please pray for Steve.  He's amazing in itself.  I love how he supports all the things I want to do.  I couldn't do anything without him.
  • Pray for me; that the Holy Spirit prepares me, fills me for what these kiddos need to hear from Him and gives me the opportunity to bond and build a spirit filled relationship with them!
  • Pray especially for the teenagers I'm going to be spending time with.  Pray for their journey with Christ!
Thanks for thinking of me.  I'm excited for this adventure.  I'm excited to serve and be used by God and to have these kiddos be a part of my life too.  Camp is at the end of July, so keep the kiddos and I in mind and heart.  Much love to my homies. 
Love, Kathy  

Monday, June 4, 2012

Summer Sanity?

Have you ever had one of those moments where you start crying for no apparent reason?  You just find yourself on the brink of tears, not for any good or bad's just there.  I tend to rationalize it with the 'ol I'm a woman, this is a part of who I am, blah blah blah blah.  But in all honesty, there's something deeper than a monthly moment coming on or a wave of depression, which is a reality for many, me especially.
Yesterday, while setting up the registration table at our church and getting ready for the kiddos to come in, I was overwhelmed with a sense of crying.  I looked at Steve and said, while attempting to hold it all together, that I was "having a moment," and I had no idea why.  My neighbor, who sensed something going on, came over and had a check in moment:  are you ok?  Yes, but I'm having a moment for no apparent reason.  I know I sound like a crazy woman.  
When I really think about it, I know there's more going on that just having a moment.  I feel an overwhelming movement/shift going on in my life.  Actually, I think it's been going on for awhile, but I'm overcome at times with the tectonic plate-like movements in my soul when these occur.  It comes like an earthquake, down to my core, out of nowhere.  
There have been many questions, wonderings that I've been wrestling with lately.  There's much that I'm talking to God about, sometimes more than I can verbalize in a sitting.  I've been reflecting on the moment six years ago when I looked at Steve and said that I wanted to grow our family through adoption, and then I start thinking about all of the moments that led up to that one.  It is as clear as day that Jesse, like Alex, was divinely given to us by God as the plan from day 1.  
A year ago, when we were in Ethiopia for those two trips, I felt an amazing sense of joy, laughter, community, love, patience, etc. in the juxtaposition of this developing country, and knew that our journey in Ethiopia was not over.  We were not only forming a beautiful relationship with our son but also with this country, this culture and its people.  I wanted more, but perhaps the better way to put it is I wanted different.  
Since then, the earthquake-like movements from the belly of my soul have been palpable.  It's beautiful, it's scary, it's hard.  I don't know where, when, how.  I am dedicated to prayer right now, asking God to lead me to each door.  I'm willing to walk through wherever He wants to lead me.  I'm opening myself up to ALL the possibilities that He wants to do with our family.  It's scary and exciting to really know that God can do anything to use us to bring glory to Him.  The walls have been knocked down.  We are in the adventure.
What it comes down to is that I think we all have this idea of how our lives will play out.  I'm not sure we have it right, or at least I don't think that I do.  I'm wrapping my mind around all of this, and I think that's where all of the emotion is coming from.  The uncomfortableness of my human-ness to be moved in such a way.  I'm asking that you join me in prayer for all of this.  Maybe you've been through a season like this, maybe you can give me some wisdom and insight!
Meanwhile, thanks for hearing my crazy truth and don't be surprised if you find me awkwardly "veclempt" at times.  Much love!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Double Dose of Humility

It's that time of year again.  There's a few short weeks left of school, and I'm a bit tired.  I've had meetings galore, and we're moving buildings on top of that.  So, on top of end of the year wrap up, I'm packing up a classroom, helping to get a student council together, and giving all I've got to be a good mom and wife.  Unfortunately, I often feel the guilt that I'm not doing something well enough, which is totally Satan trying to drag a sister down.
With all of this in mind, I've been on this intense prayer vigil, especially after reading The Circle Maker.  Steve and I are still bouncing back financially after the past few years (which I would do twenty times over with no regrets) and seriously praying about another adoption after we recover.  Then, the opportunity came up to do the Beth Moore study on the book of James, which I couldn't ignore.  I may have overloaded my plate, but as I told a colleague the other day:  I'm seriously relying on God right now to help me with what I cannot handle.  We all have moments like these.
So, today was one of those days where the button to my jeans broke in the wash, I didn't have another pair to put on, it was already 6 am, I had a meeting before school started, and a dishwasher to unload with other various and sundry chores to get done in 30 minutes; we've all been there...  Needless to say, I was a bit worn out.
One of my favorite parts of my day is picking up Jesse in the afternoons.  He's just smiles from ear to ear when I walk in the door; oh love!  Alex usually debriefs me on her capers at school and then when she gets home, we negotiate dinner time, homework, trying to get some outdoors time (if there aren't any activities planned for the night), and then we're off to bed.  Monday through Friday is a whirlwind, as all moms know.
Tonight, a neighbor pal was having a jean party at her home, and a few of my other amigos met me at my place to walk over and check it out.  By 7pm, Jesse was rubbing his eyes with one shoe on and blueberry stains spotted all over his shirt, and Alex pulled out her math sheet from her seat work that obviously needed some extra help.  You know the scene, I'm sure.  My friends rang the doorbell, the two dogs barked at the door, and I, in my utter selfishness, was more than happy to flee the scene and escape bath time for a night.
I took my no-button jeans a few doors down and found myself in negative Nelly mode.  I was happy to complain about my preteen daughter and my over eagerness of nap time this summer.  I brought my sorry butt home to find that Alex still had not looked over her math, and Steve spent an extra half hour up with Jesse; they weren't even out of the tub yet when normally I'd have him tucked him by this time.      I'm sure you know the deal.
I went upstairs to find my cutie practically jumping out of the tub to hug me when he spotted me; how does one resist that?   And as I was giving him his milk before bed, he took his right arm, which I usually have cradled against his body as I give him his milk, and maneuvered it to hang around my neck as if to get a little closer and say, "I'm so glad you're tucking me in, mommy."  I melted.
To top it all off, Alex goes upstairs to bed, and I accidentally walked in on the Mother's Day project she started three days ago; it stopped me cold in my tracks.  There it was, hand painted on a big piece of paper, all my favorite things:  a New York City skyline combined with pictures of Africa.  I almost died.  She knows me better than I know myself.  (Don't tell her I saw her surprise; she'll die!)
This double dose of humility knocks me on my butt every time.  Isn't motherhood like that?  We give all we got, get worn down, get a little self pity going, and BOOM:  you are totally brought tears in utter thankfulness and repentance for your bad attitude.
I'm so thankful for my two babies, and I'm so thankful that they are so forgiving of me.  I know that this is the kind of grace that only my Jesus could provide because I don't deserve it.
Oh Father,
Thank You for this family.  Thank You for friends who hear me rant and don't judge my crazy butt, for they know my heart and know that You are there, working on me every day!  Thank You for the moments of utter mercy and reminding me that You are so present.  Thank You for my sweet children who teach me, humble me, and show me Your love, even when I don't recognize it right away.  Be with all of us mamas.  We try so hard; our hearts are in the right place, but we mess up sometimes.  We need You, Father.  Thank You for my husband who comes home as tired as I am, looks at my jacked up pony tail, faded make up face, microwave dinner, and tells me how beautiful I am and how good dinner smells.  Oh, You are so good, Lord.  You are so good.
In Jesus' holy name I pray.  Amen.

Saturday, February 25, 2012



emotional pain or distress; sorrow; grief; anguish.

It is sometimes hard to explain, but since returning home from our two trips to Ethiopia, I've been experiencing something that can only be described as heartache.  I look around me as I sit in my warm home, my (although not pretty) working minivan, my closet of clothes, etc., and I'm no longer comfortable.  All the things that are supposed to make my life comfortable no longer do; such irony.  
I think some people thought, "Well, she has her sweet boy home.  Hopefully this is all out of her system now."
I hate to say it, but it has been quite the opposite these past eight months.  
I have been vigilant of any and all mission trips I can take, organizations I can keep on my radar, and so on.  I am awakened in the dead of the night with a heaviness on my soul.  I walk through my days with undeniable awareness that I sometimes feel like an alien in my normal life.  God has awakened so much in my heart.
I was listening to Chris Fabry's talk show on Moody Radio the other day when he was talking to Dr. Don Davis.  Although Dr. Davis wasn't talking about Africa, he was describing the overwhelming feeling he has for the calling God has undeniably laid on he and his wife's hearts for serving in the urban areas of our country.  They played clips from his sermon at Founder's Week, and I immediately felt the connection with his words yelled (summarized):  Where is the passion, the fire that God laid on your heart?  Deny your comforts and GO and DO what God has called you to do!  This Christian life is not about keeping our things; it's about leaving it all to be obedient and do the crazy things God calls us to do.  Surround yourself with people who feel that passion, who cannot deny this magnetic pull to the "insane" calls, who encourage you to be obedient and follow the longing on your heart. 
I found myself in tears over this message.
Last night, after putting Jesse to bed and giving Ms. Alex her ten minute call to sleep, Steve asked if I wanted to watch tv; he loves his tv at night ;)  I just looked at him and gave him an emphatic, "No, I don't want to watch tv."  It probably was the look on my face or the tone in my voice, but he turned off the tv.
Last night, I just poured my heart out to my sweet husband.  I am just so blessed to have this amazing man by my side.  So, the skinny is that there's a lot in store for us.  Not this summer, but next summer there will most likely be a mission trip going back to the place that started it all.  And, after Jesse's adoption is paid off, there will most likely be another adoption.  We'll see what happens.
The decision to not go to Africa this summer is because my sweet boy isn't ready for me to be away that long nor are my kiddos ready for that kind of trip.  We have just gotten to a point where Jesse trusts me to leave him either at grandma's or Joy's house for a short amount of time (his amazing sitter and my friend ;)) and know that I'll be back.  I'm afraid he'll lose his cookies if I'm gone for a week. My babies need their mama first.  In the meantime, I'll be a prayer warrior and advocate for doing what I can for those in Africa.  I have to find peace with that for now.   
I'm asking for prayers as I move forward with whatever God calls me to do and with whatever God calls you to do.  He has amazing things in store for our lives and the lives of others.  It just may not be in the comforts of our environments.  We may have to go beyond our borders or our towns, or even churches.  I'm praying for courage for us all.  Let's lay it all down at His feet.  
Sending my love to you all.   

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How do I do that?

Since returning to school and getting back into the swing of being a working mom again, I've been experiencing the highs and lows of the demands and blessings of putting my teacher hat back on.  One of the blessings I've felt is from our church family, who through our children's ministry, is doing a fundraiser for Hannah's Hope, the orphanage where Jesse lived for his duration in Ethiopia.  I'm touched beyond words that our extended family wants to do this.  In turn, our children are decorating shoe boxes with Amharic words and Ethiopian colors and symbols to collect money to send to Hannah's Hope.  How cool is that?  There's a sweet video that our kiddos from our church put together connected to a touching story about a little boy who needed a pair of shoes and arrived at the doorstep of HH and his reaction to receiving his first pair of shoes, at the age of eight.  It just shows how there's so much we can do, and it doesn't take a lot, to make a difference in someone's life.
Kids' hearts gently remind me of their untainted desire to want to live fully; in a way that I think some of us forget or are not aware of.  Kids want to know that their lives matter.  Although they love the "stuff" we give them, when presented with the possibility of reaching out to someone else, they are almost always quick to give an unwavering yes; rarely are there ifs, ands, or buts...often like adults do.  Kids will give you more energy than you need to get a job done; just tell them what to do and why they're doing it!
Returning to the classroom mid year, I've explained that I took the time off to be with our little boy whom we adopted from Ethiopia.  Most of my students tell me that that is "so cool."  I also teach writing, and we use a lot of personal experiences as topics for writing and elaboration.  I sometimes discuss the impact Ethiopia has had on me and how my heart wants to go back, as soon as possible!  I would say the number one question my students have for me is this:  How do I do that?  
I am reminded that it is the adults who impose our desire for material things on kids.  Ultimately, they want to be inspired to do great things with their lives; they want to be useful.  When they see someone hurting, they want to know what they can do to help.  They just need to know that it is possible to do something and then be encouraged to see that action through.
Africa, to me, has opened my eyes to the possibilities that await us to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  It is people, every day people, who meet the needs of those who are hurting there, usually not government programs (which, in my opinion, we have turned into a farce here in the US due to "our" sometimes inappropriate dependence upon...).  It often is not someone with a doctoral degree or tons of wealth doing the serving; it is the every day person with a willing, courageous heart...every day heroes.
I believe our kids want to believe in heroes.  They want to be one.  They just want to know how and what they should do to accomplish this.  Intrinsically, they know that life is more than a big house, nice clothes, and popularity.  They just want to know that they can do it.
So, I'm so utterly thankful to be a part of a church who believes that our children can be someone's hero through the energy and love Christ has given them.  I'm thankful to be reminded that, even in the wealthy community I teach in, kids, deep down, want to help others; and that they sincerely aren't as interested in the material things we impose upon them.  It's refreshing to see this.
I ask for your prayers for our kiddos as they boldly step out into the world.  Inspire them through your actions to see that life is more than keeping up with the Jones'.  Show them the possibilities of how they can make a difference so their hearts ignite with a passion that extends beyond our shopping malls.  Walk with them to encourage them to navigate the "how do I do thats."
Thanks so much, my friends!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

When God moves so should we!

Hey friends!  I am always so moved when I see people, especially friends, who have heard a call on their hearts and bravely walk forward in faith, obeying Him.  My friends, Dan and Christi, are the perfect example of this.
I met Dan and Christi on our first trip to Ethiopia; we were both meeting our beautiful boys for the first time and going to court together.  Our boys were room mates at Hannah's Hope in what we call the "turtle room," hence the big turtles painted on the walls.  Along with another family whose little man rounded out the trio in the turtle room, we undoubtedly named our boys, "the turtle boys."
Dan and Christi, now home with Malakai and expecting their second baby, have felt the strong call to do missions work in Guatemala.  I'm absolutely thrilled for them, but I know they need lots of prayers and a few donations wouldn't hurt either!
I would love for you to visit their blog to get more information on what God has called them to do. I'm so thrilled to see what God is calling them to do and how He's working!