Monday, March 5, 2012

Happy Birthday, Gloria Grace!

Once upon a time, in a time not too long ago,
There lived a couple in a land quite distant
From the place they now call home. 

They had decided, the two of them together
That their hearts would be on Mission
And they would be content as a family of two... forever.

With sweat and tears and sometimes blood, they toiled and they prayed
For a people they did not know, yet loved none the less, anyway. 

Then, allofasudden and quite surprisingly fast
A boy child came to them and they knew he was their first
And thought their very last.

But lo and behold, and soon after that
There was a discovery they never thought possible to be
For unbeknownst to them someone Grew!
Against every probability.

So surprised were they, and unable to contain all joy
They called their family across the great water
Even though it be their darkest midnight hour

And after a period of time, that seemed to last
And last.
Once upon a time, finally.
And most assuredly.
.... passed.

What name shall be given to this first to break forth
Out of the darkness and into the light
Shall it be Gloria? Shall it be Grace?
No. Neither alone seemed just right.

Why not put them together? They ring so beautifully.
Like the sound of lavished love upon a child
Gloria Grace was simply meant to be.

Five years to the day has she grown now
Five birthdays she's called her own
Five years in hopes that before the first stone 
Gloria Grace would be read in The Book of His Foreknown

So, dear Gloria Grace with your radiant face
This is our prayer for you.
That one day soon at just the right time
You would be made anew.

Anew with a Glory and anew by a Grace
Anew by the One who formed you to be
Anew by a Motion set forth before Once Upon a Times
Anew with new life to be breathed.

For this is life's purpose to know and be known
By Him Who holds all things together
For He is full of grace and truth
And wonder that outlasts forever.

He works in the lands of minds and hearts
Calling forth those who are His
Those He's given ears to hear
Those with new lives to be lived.

He conforms and He molds and He breaks and He builds
And He gives And He takes And He injures and He heals.

All things for good
And all things for His glory
Not one moment is lost or misplaced
In Divine Love's allegory.

For God is The Giver Who gave you your everything
Every breath you breathe and every song you sing
We pray for you dear child, of our flesh and bone
That we would not be the only ones who call you our very own.

"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." (Eph 1)

We love you sweet Gloria Grace. Happy 5th Birthday! May you have many many more.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy 12th Birthday, Keano!

Twelve years ago, God gave me a son. ...but it wasn't in the typical way He gives a mother a son. I didn't know he was being born, and I didn't know he was mine.
He was born in a land I had only dreamt about. A land I had loved since I was eight years old. A land I knew I would one day live.
God gave my son his first breaths in the year I was taking my first baby steps into the greatest darkness of my life, because God doesn't count our sin against us.
He was born to a mother who loved him as her only son. He grew in her womb, nursed at her breasts, and clung tightly on her back. He looks like her, this woman who's sacrificial love would give me the name that she owns naturally. Momma.
For five years, she tended to his needs as best she could, with life's addictions warring within her. Then, right when there seemed as if there was nothing but darkness, in one glorious moment, Light broke forth. ...And it was good. Very good.
The first words were strong, a foundation of sorts, “He must just call you Momma and He must just call you Daddy.” He's never known another Daddy.
For five years, we prayed. For five years we stood brave together on our knees, praying and hoping that what God had done in those moments within, He would do for all to know and see. Five years of trusting, Five years of unknowns, Five years of courage, Five years of fear, Five years of waiting, Five years of doing, Five years of hearing the naysayers and wondering if they were right, Five years of listening to the encouragers who reminded us of The Faithful God, Five years of hoping, Five years of doubt, Five years of patience, Five years of anxiety, Five years of grieving, Five years of joy. Five. Years.

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:6-9

In a ceremony like none other, God gave me my only son. I promised the woman who labored for hours for her only son, that I would love him as my son. That all that I have would be his.... That there would be no distinction between him and those who've grown within me. That I would teach him well and that I would forever be his Momma and that his Daddy would forever be his Daddy......

And I remember.

I remember he is not the only son given to me. There was another only Son. An only Son that wasn't just given to me, but was given for me. And this only Son is radically different than the one who's wrapped in dark brown skin and bright brown eyes, throwing a football in the field. This only Son was sent on a rescue mission. A rescue mission for ones who didn't want to be rescued.

A rescue mission for those with stiff necks and hard hearts. A rescue mission for those His love was set upon before the first beat of their heart was heard, before their fingers were formed, before their their newborn lungs were filled with breath, before they did good.... or bad, before He laid the very foundations of the Earth. Before.

And He wouldn't just come.

This Son was given with blood. A blood filled fountain that would forever change a people that rightfully belonged to Him. There weren't papers to sign. There weren't hoops to jump through, “I's” to dot and “T's” to cross. There wasn't any guess work. There weren't attorneys, there weren't borders and visas. There weren't psychological evaluations.

There was a perfect life lived. In every way one could be perfect, He was. Every word. Every deed. Every thought. He was perfect. He was perfect so that He could make a wicked people perfect before His Father. Not a people that were born good, but a people that were born with hearts of stone.

The Great Exchange.

My wickedness, the people whom He is jealous for... their depravity, all of it was laid upon Him. He received the punishment. He was beaten. He was bruised. He was tormented and teased. He was tortured. He was brutally killed. He was buried, and by the might of His Father's hand His eyes opened, His air filled his lungs, and He lived. The One who was given for me was my ransom, The One and Only.

And I will forever be The One and Only's. My heart will forever be transformed. My eyes will forever see differently and my ears will forever be able to hear His voice. My nature will forever be different. I will forever be clothed in His righteousness. I will be forever grafted in.

My twelve year old son will always have our last name and his Daddy's middle name. He will forever be a part of this Swedish and German family tree. From him, Lord willing, I will have grandchildren with the same last name, and the same brown skin. He will forever have our love. He will forever have three sisters with fair skin and flowing hair. A little boy from a womb not my own, who lived in a land not my own, who has features not my own, will forever be my own.

Adoption started before time began. Before the first tick of a clock, before the first babies cry, before the first forbidden bite of fruit, adoption was in motion.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, heaven as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. 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

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? (Ex 15:11)

I am overwhelmed at just how FULL my heart is with gratitude towards The Living God. I feel like I imagine the Isrealites felt after crossing the Red Sea on dry land and then turning around watching God bury all the Egyptians in the massive torrents of sea. How their hearts must have soared at watching the very hand of the Lord put an end to their opressors. much so that they burst forth in song because their hearts were just that full.

When I look back over the past five years we've had Keano and all the obstacles we faced with their various trials in getting Keano's adoption finalized, what can I do but worship? He is the one who put the desire in our hearts for Keano and Keano's desire to be our son... and even greater, HE is the one who perservered that desire.  

Rejoice with us, our friends! Rejoice that God has given us a son! Rejoice that He is faithful to the desires that He gives. ...And rejoice that He is the One who brings those desires to fruition.

(On Saturday, Aug 27 from 1-3 we will be having a celbration for Keano as 'officially' part of our family. Cake and ice cream and lots of joy! All are welcome :)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Decisions to be made.

I don't know what to write. I don't know how to collect the many thoughts running through  my mind in a concise and organized manner. This, I do know...

Lessons learned:

These past two years, God has taught us much. This past Sunday at Arrowbrook, our pastor, who is preaching through Jeremiah, said, "The Lord wounds before he heals. He afflicts us before He comforts us. We're not meant to be comforted before first the Lord has afflicted our soul and saved us and then He comforts us. First the Lord must wound with the preaching of sin and repentance which wounds and cuts the conscience and then the cross is the healing balm for the soul...."  Though he was applying this to salvation, it was very applicable to the past two years of our lives. He afflicted us much and as a result, taught us much about our own arrogance and thinking too highly of ourselves. He taught us much on what is shakeable and what is not. He taught us much on faith that He gives, not thatnwe muster up, apart from Him.

God gives and He takes away. He is good. Whatever blessing and whatever challenge He gives to us is for our good and His glory. It has not come from anyone else, but Him. He is good. He is for us. Therefore, we can believe whatever hardship, however severe it might be, it is right for us to go through, because it is from our good God who is in control of all and for His children. Our hearts are anchored in that Truth. If any of those factors were not true, there would be reason to panic, be angry, full of fear, bitterness, rage, despair, and force. Two choices. That's it. No gray. Am I wrong?

Upcoming decisions; The here and now. 

We are facing another challenge. Another decision to be made. We need prayer.

We are so excited about Keano's adoption to be finalized. So excited.

We heard from Namibia this morning. Our social worker asked for a range of dates we would be in Namibia so she could set a court date. We gave her a range of 7 days. She wrote back and said that though going before the magistrate (judge) is a one time thing, the adoption itself can take up to five weeks to be processed.

We also heard from S. Africa this morning. We have to get a brief interview at the US embassy and a medical check up for Keano. The email said that if Keano has ever had TB (he has not) then it could take up to 6 weeks to get the results for the medical check up done. I don't know if they will take our word for it, or not. Keano does not have many medical records. We have a few ideas to try and prove that he has not had TB, but it comes down to their decision.

We had planned to spend 7 days in Namibia and 5 days in S. Africa. We thought it would be more than sufficient. We have not planned for 11 weeks.

I called yesterday (before we knew these details) to reserve (not purchase) tickets for Todd, myself, Keano, and Felicity. My parents and in-laws are willing to watch Gloria and Faith. Felicity's ticket is only 10% of the adult ticket, so we thought we'd make it easier on our parents and take her with.

When I reserved the tickets, the travel agent told me that fuel taxes were up to about $480/ticket. The cost for T, K, and myself to fly is right at about $6000 total. Felicity is 10% of an adult size tickets.

We need to decide if: we:

A.) Fly back after a week in Namibia and wait here in America - flying back again (buying new tickets for T, K and myself) when it is approved, taking just a day or two in Namibia to go to the embassy and then going to South Africa (Keano's US visa is good until June.)

B.) Fly the whole family over to Namibia, and waiting there for paperwork, Todd flies back after a week and rejoins once paperwork is received. I wait in Namibia until it is processed with the children.

Please pray for us tonight if we come to mind. We need to make our decision tonight, because we must finalize our tickets tomorrow. There is no way we could leave our girls for the potential duration of this process.

Please, would you pray that the Lord would give us clarity as we talk and decide what to do this evening? Pray that we would be grounded on all that is true of God... all that He has taught us, and what His Word says is right.

PS.  2 more things that didn't fit anywhere else.

1. Keano's all time favorite song is "Lead Me." (Sanctus Real) He keeps singing all the time "Lead me with strong hands... stand up when I cant...." (Totally random.. Rather ironic. Don't even think he realizes it's implications....yet.

2. This trip would mark almost exactly 2 years since the Lord brought us back. It would be Felicity's first time in Africa.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday morning drama

The day just wouldn't be complete without it.

So, Todd got up with the girls this morning and I was sleeping in. Now if I stopped at that sentence, it would be lovely, but no. Ooooooh no!...No loveliness at all.

What I came down the stairs to was anything but peaceful. By all the ruckus you would have thought we were in the middle of a natural disaster. And, if we dropped the word natural, it WAS a disaster. I mean a HUGE disaster. In fact, of all the time we've lived in this house (I know, less than a year, really... but still), we have never had disaster on this grand of scale.

Apparently, on Faiths way out of the bathroom (with no one behind her), her little two year old hands locked our one and only bathroom door. Yes, you read that right; one and only bathroom. It's an old farmhouse. I guess back in the 1800's when this beauty was designed, only one bathroom was essential. Not so much the case now. (Not complaining of course, but still, a set up for disaster.)

I flew down the stairs with lightning speed, convinced that some one was surely dying.

"What's going on?" I asked, my eyes darting back and forth looking for the injured person I was sure I would find.

"Faith locked the bathroom door, and we've all got to go!" said a wild eyed Keano.

Well, gooooood morning, Sunday. 

I wish I could give you a moment by moment, but at this point it is still a bit of a blur.

Todd had tried about every reasonable possibility he could to pick the lock. It wasn't working. He was already late for Sunday school for the class he was teaching. The tension was mounting.

I walked around the outside of the house bare foot (my feet are still cold) and tried the windows. Locked. Nothing like trying to break into your own house.... especially when it's to no avail.

Keano, after he announced that he just 'went' in the woods, saw the entire event as an adventure. A mystery to be solved. (It wasn't as cute as it sounds, at the time.)

Gloria, who has a good cold going on, just kept wimpering, "I neeeeeeed a tissue. My nose wont stop running!"

Faith, who is newly potty trained, with the bladder the size of a pea, starts saying "Mommy, I need to go pee pee." I ignored her. What was I to do? If I explained to her that we couldn't right now it would just make a bad thing worse.

My reasoning worked for all of....say, hmmmm..... two minutes. Then came the potty dance. MOMMY. PEE PEE!! Enough said.

Moving along...

Felicity, who has the least worries in the world when it comes to bathrooms, just wanted to be in the mix and under our very busy feet.

So, there we were.. All 6 of us, down a narrow little hall, doing our best to stay in the front and get through a locked door. Recipe for disaster.

We were done for. Done. For.

There's a chain saw in the chicken coup. I would lie if I said we didn't seriously contemplate it. If it wasn't for the fact that we weren't entirely sure how to use it, this stories ending would probably be significantly different.

I put all my effort into the last shred of sanity that I had and called the landlords. Who, conveinently enough, are my parents. I know, this probably should have come well before this moment. We weren't really thinking straight, if you hadn't noticed.

My dad rushed over. His handy dandy collection of tools in tote, ...and in about 2 minutes flat, saved the day.

Yup, just like that. A tug here, a twist there, some magic mechanical sprinkle dust, and it was over.

Six eyes on the toilet, 12 feet rushing in. Privacy on the other side of a now open door.

In Namibia checking out Dad's beard. (Keano in the middle)
Little Faith
He loves 'his girls'

In Namibia. Dad on my left. T on my right. One of my favorite photos :)

One day, we'll laugh about this. One day, after we get a door knob that doesn't lock.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday

So, if you haven't already heard we're doing this @Home Biggest Loser Challenge and I think the rubber is meeting the road, folks. My mother-in-law calls these last 10lbs the 'hard lard,' and I think she just may be right. Todd's lost 18lbs and I've lost 12lb. The competition is over at the end of May and I still have ten to lose. T looks great!

A few observations....

Self control at this stage is very difficult. The more I deny myself (by the grace of God) the more I realize how self indulged I had become. Yikes-A-Rama!

I'm trying to season meals with actual seasonings and not sauces. No complaints as of yet, and I actually like how much of the 'food' I can taste.

I have a new found and quite serious love for fresh CILANTRO. I literally put a small bowl of it on the table and throw it on whatever (salty) food item on my plate. Delicious!

Seedless tangerines keep my sweet tooth (teeth?) at bay.

My 'snack' is a graham cracker, border line invisible layer of peanut butter, and 4 (or so) sliced strawberries on top. I look forward to snack time.

I'm ready to give up grocery shopping and hand it over to T. I buy too much. We don't need it. I regret it.

Seeing the scale go from 1X0 to 1X9 made me giddy.

I took our hound dog on a run for the first time. She kicked my butt! It's still sore. I don't think I've run that far and that long since having children.

I love to run outside. Highly dislike the treadmill.

water, water, water, water, water,... and then some more!

Smaller portions and only one serving is very difficult.

I'm so very disciplined with my food in the day, but something happens when the sun goes down. Scary, I know!

Keano and I are having a race to get a six pack. He's already won, but doesn't realize it. ....Shhhhhh

Ok, a bit more 'thoughtful,' but I've been pondering something on bit of a deeper level. Bear with me.

Stay at home mom + 4 kids + homeschooling (at this stage anyway) requires me to be on at a level that I might not be if I didn't have all three said dynamics. Don't get me wrong. I love it and wouldn't change it for anything, but just as it has it's rewards, it also has it's challenges. (For the record, the rewards, far out weigh any challenges :)

My point is that I've been challenged in my heart that if I require a certain level of compliance (that word sounds so yucky. Is it just me? I promise I don't ever use it.) then what of my own self? It seems rather wrong of me to not allow my children to indulge in yet another cookie, or another scoop of ice cream, or more chips and yet when they are out of site, what am I doing?

I do realize we aren't peers and that the standards are different. I'm just simply reflecting on my own standards and wondering if they are a bit too low....and am I teaching and expecting one thing from my children, yet doing the opposite myself.

Either way, it leads me to conclude....

Oh, how I need the grace of God!

 (Just love this Father/Daughter pic and thought I'd share it with ya. Nothing much to do with the post ;)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Keano is ELEVEN!

I just can not get over the fact. Eleven. Eleven?? ...Eleven!

Doesn't that sound rather old, or is it just me?

According to Keano, he is no longer a child, but a young man. This, he determined, is true because at most restaurants he no longer can order off the children's menu.

Alrighty, my young man, you have to be the most cutest, adorable, too-clever-for-your-own-good, young man that I know. Yes, I know that when you read this, the first question you'll ask is 'Mom, how many people read this? This is embarrassing!' To which I'll answer, 'I really don't know, my sweetie. ...but it's too late now, anyway. Whatever three people do read it, have already done so :) ....I know having a mom is ohsotough these days.'

So, I thought that we could do a little remembering with photos, since we do often anyway, and the three other people might enjoy seeing them as well.  Sound like fun?

Here we go.....

Here you are with Daddy. This is the first week the Lord brought us together. Look how cute you are! We all remember this week well. You and Daddy have always made a great team.

Here you are in the kindergarten you helped so hard with. ...Right there in the middle, just next to your cousin Martin, giving a 'thumbs up!'
This is one of my favorites. I wish we had more. God has given you a very special gift in that you have two mothers who love you very much and would do anything for you.
Here you are in Oupa's suitcase the first time they came to visit. You wanted to go with them :)
Here we are having a sleep over with our Namibian family. I miss those!
Just a couple days before Gloria's arrival. You were soooo oooooh excited!
Your birthday. That was a fun present!
 Found you and Gloria like this. So sweet.....
Wrestling. We loved going to all your competitions.
  Skittle house friends!
Here you are with Daddy at Spur celebrating your 7th birthday. I miss this tradition. Do you remember how they would come out with drums and sing such a funny happy birthday song as they painted your face with chocolate? That was FUN!
First time in America visiting TEXAS family.  Here is you and Daddy, Grandpa, and Uncle Troy.
 With Grams and Gramps. They love you so very much!
 In Swakop. We had lots of fun on those dunes!
 At the ocean for the first time.
 Were you scared? I don't think so ;)
Holding your second little sissy, Faith. She turned out to be quite the handful ;)
With Ouma and Oupa at Hero's Acre

Having fun in our home in Namibia. Love this!
Big brother.
 Home School Projects. You're so creative!
 Christmas in our PJ's.
Playing Fan Tan, your favorite card game. You're tough to beat!
With Faith-y
 With Gloria
With Felicity
With Daddy. You guys are so tough.
You're such an awesome tennis player.
In NYC on the subway with Daddy. This was such a hard trip. Daddy took you to NYC to put you on the plane heading to Africa. We didn't know when we would see you again. God has been so good to us.
 You fooled a lot of people with those hats!
 And after 8 very long months, the Lord brought you back to us.... You met your sister, Felicity, for the first time. She jumped into your arms.
 Your Ouma and Oupa were waiting at the house with your sisters to greet you.
With Gloria and a much bigger (and still feisty) Faith.

So, brave warrior, here we are, almost 6 years from the time the Lord brought us all together and we couldn't be happier. We love you, Keano. We are so glad God has poured His love into our hearts for each other. On your birthday, we not only celebrate with GREAT JOY the day that you were born, but we remember how despite many many obstacles, some still yet to be overcome, God has been and always will be good. He has been good to you. He has been good to us. ...And He always will be because He is FOR us. We must never forget that.
This year, we look forward to traveling back to Namibia to finalize those last details so that what has been done in our hearts will be finalized on paper.  And we will rejoice!

We love you. You are precious to us. Happy 11th Birthday!

Mom and Daddy.