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The SECRET is out!

WE’RE GOING BACK TO ETHIOPIA!

Mac daddy secret

Recently God has been confusing us.

It all started with our family’s move back to Memphis, TN in July. Karyn and I thought getting back to Memphis would pave our way back to where our hearts long to be – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Well, about as soon as we were settled into our Memphis routine, it appeared that God was putting people, signs, messages – you name it – in our path to point us to stay put… indefinitely. It just made sense for several reasons – The Forsaken Children (TFC) wouldn’t have to find someone else to manage it, we could stay in Memphis where we feel most at “home”, our extended family would be happy to keep us around, and the list goes on.

Then came what we believed would be the final nail in the coffin of our dream to return to Ethiopia; the Holy Spirit prompted me to read the book of Nehemiah. To Karyn and me, Nehemiah is like the quintessential Executive Director’s book to effective leadership. I begrudgingly thought, great, God wants me to read this so he can confirm that we are not going back to Ethiopia.

As I read Nehemiah, God started to speak to my heart. What I heard in my spirit wasn’t what I expected. Sure, Nehemiah is a rock star leader – a true Exec – but God did not draw me into Nehemiah’s leadership techniques, but rather into his burden and enthusiasm to rebuild Jerusalem’s wall. Jerusalem’s crumbling wall became a metaphor for a little girl God placed on my heart.

This little Ethiopian girl, herein called E to protect her privacy, had not crossed my mind for some time. She is the most visibly broken child I have ever interacted with in Ethiopia. As I read Nehemiah, thoughts of E poured into the forefront of my mind… thoughts of her fits of rage, her constant manipulation to receive any and all attention (good or bad), and her tendency to change from a sweet, innocent little girl to a crazy-eyed fighting machine.

I wish I could say that my thoughts of E were loving and compassionate, but I honestly cringed when she came back to mind. BUT there she was, my wall – broken, beat down, and hopeless much as was Jerusalem’s wall in Nehemiah’s time.

As I continued to read Nehemiah, E continued to pop in my mind. At first this was very confusing, but then it became clear to me what God was saying:

E, like so many of the children TFC exists for, needs many things. However, the one thing I know she needs more than anything else is the one thing I have been trained to potentially provide her – a family.

I don’t think E or any child needs a family more than they need God! BUT, I have come to believe that many children, E for sure, may never see and understand God without first seeing and experiencing a loving, consistent, and permanent primary caretaker (mom and/or dad) here on earth – Jesus in the flesh so to speak.

Therein lies our passion for foster care/adoption within the Ethiopian context. Ethiopian families are a strategic resource for us as we  seek to minister to abandoned or orphaned children like E. Such families are a mechanism for solidifying that God as father doesn’t mean an abusive, neglectful, nonexistent God, but rather a loving, consistent, and very real Father-God.

So, thanks to Nehemiah, our hearts have reclaimed our burden to be back on the field in Ethiopia. First and foremost, we see our role there as one that we are uniquely made to fill for such a time as this. A time when many children have come into TFC’s care who lack the family they were created for. We believe there will be many more children to come, and that the solution is to pour ourselves into TFC’s emerging Ethiopian foster and adoption program until it can be sustained by our Ethiopian brothers and sisters.

Pray with us as we anticipate our transition back to Ethiopia at the end of 2014.

whole fam copy

Specific Prayer Requests and Praises:

Jack AttackJack (7) – He has fond memories of living in Ethiopia as a 2 and 3 year old so he is excited to return. However, as our anxious child (much like his dad), he occasionally becomes fearful of the transition.

Joe – As he prepares for the rigor of being on the field, faced with overwhelming need daily, pray for wisdom as to how he can prepare himself with knowledge, accountability, and spiritual wisdom.

Praise: Joe has been given the great opportunity to refine his foster/adoptive parent training through a contact in NC. He will be trained as a trainer in a new/better model that focuses on traumatized children’s needs.

MacersMcLaine (5) – She is such a sweet little angel until she is stressed, tired or hungry. In other words, please pray for her attitude (and our patience) as we approach this transition, which will certainly bring fatigue, hunger and stress.

Karyn – Transitioning away from her dear friends and family will be her biggest struggle. Pray for her to boldly initiate new friendships. Also pray for Karyn as she starts to homeschool Jack and McLaine.

Praise: Karyn has many friends who homeschool their children, who are helping her navigate the complexities of being a new homeschool mom once we’re in Ethiopia.

Si guySilas – As our blond haired, blue-eyed 3-year-old, he will receive the most attention in Ethiopia. Pray for him to be flexible (divinely so… this is not our parental expectation) and receptive to the attention.

Pray with us as TFC builds up its capacity here in the US necessary to fulfill our mission. Someone must be employed here to free us tomove back to the field.

Praise: TFC’s Board of Directors has grown into a team of people who are willing and able to release us to the field.

Pray for the precious street children of Ethiopia, and especially that many families will step-up to care for those children who lack this very important piece – their own family – for both physical and spiritual development.

Pray for the Ethiopian men and women who do the amazing work involved in rescuing children from the streets. They are our heroes and need your constant covering in prayer: Nega, Teramaj, Mesfin, Alex, Alemayu, Taye, Fetla, Ribika, Netsenet, Terekegn, Yonas, and those others not listed here.

RESOLUTION DOWNLOAD

I am happy to report that I am trucking right along on those new year’s resolutions and it’s only the end of January.

1. Last week I mailed my application and fee to Central Church to save my spot on the Ethiopia Short Term Mission Trip  scheduled for June 7-17, 2012. The trip is being led again by the awesome, Kelly McGugan. My excitement is indescribable. It’s rumored that several friends and past team members will  be participating again this year. Can’t wait to see Ethiopia through their eyes & work together on loving those kids. The only thing that would make it better is if Kelly’s wife, Heather, were making the trip. Experiencing Ethiopia with the McGoos is definitely on my bucket list.

Now I have to add fundraising to my resolution list. I’m thinking that I’ll need to raise about $3000. YIKES! So glad God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and that I can be confident that He will provide not just for me but the whole team :)

SHAMELESS PLUG: Proceeds from my Etsy shop will go towards trip expenses so head on over and check it out. My Etsy. I’m currently not taking custom orders but if you inbox me, I may be persuaded to change my mind :)

2. The cafe curtains for the kitchen are finished. Can I get a HALLELUJAH? I am patting myself on the back because it really didn’t take much time once I got started. I’m forgetting the fact that I held on to the fabric for OVER 6 months before I summoned the courage to make that first cut. Maybe next time I’ll take a deep breathe and jump in sooner. I’m already dreaming about making curtains for the baby’s nursery-even though he’s really a big man now.

By the way, this is the cleanest my kitchen has been in awhile! It will probably never be this clean again but cafe curtains sure offer a great incentive.

3. The Bible is AWESOME! The Chronological BIBLE is even more awesome. I am so enjoying my daily reading. Typically I stay about 2 days behind but right now I am all caught up. Some crazy stuff happens in the Bible. I often find myself saying “SAY WHAT?” I think I irritate Joe with my nightly “hey Joe listen to this” comments while he is studying. Spending time in a commentary has helped me better understand some of the passages. It has also helped that Central Church (our Memphis church home) is reading chronologically as well and posting insights and observations to their Facebook page. YAY!

4. Working out is going well but could be better. I am running about 3 times a week. Good but could be better. I’ve failed to do my abs every day BUT have made a new resolution to fulfill my original resolution.

5. I’ve made several meals pinned from Pinterest with healthy taco salad from Whole Living being my favorite.

I also made this really cute bow holder for McLaine. I think I need to put a little flower or maybe some buttons in the corner to add some spice but overall it’s pretty cute & cheap to make. I have lots of spray paint, hooks and ribbon leftover and know 2 other little girls who need a treat :)

How are your resolutions coming along? Have you given up on any or added additional ones to your list? I forgot to add LEARN TO DRIVE A STICK to my list. It’s more difficult and a little more expensive to find an automatic in Ethiopia so it would be highly beneficial if I could learn before we return. So, I better get to it!!

Took the kiddos to the dentist for the very first time today and shot a couple of photos that I can’t help but share:

Two blogs in a month. HOLLA!!

So, I have been so surprised to hear so many people via news, social media, word of mouth, etc resolving NOT to make New Years resolutions this year or EVEN ever again. WHAT?

I love making resolutions at the beginning of a new year. Of course, I get excited about any excuse for making a list and checking things off of it :)

Here are a few of my resolutions in no particular order:

GO BACK TO ETHIOPIA- My plan is to return with the short term team from Central Church in June. By then Silas will no longer be nursing and Joe will be on summer break from school. It seems like the most convenient time even though that means leaving Joe by himself with the kids. I have no doubt he can handle it, I just know how difficult some days can be without some back up.  At this point, I vow only to think about how badly I want to return NOT the fact that I will be leaving my kids for 10+ days.

STUDY AMHARIC-Regardless of whether or not I actually return to Ethiopia this year, I definitely plan to begin studying and reviewing Amharic.

I have all of my recordings, notebooks, worksheets and the Fidel (Amharic alphabet)  just waiting for me to jump right in. It’s hard to believe that at one time I could pronounce and write correctly the entire Ethiopian fidel. I fear that I have waited to long and therefore lost it all! Here’s hoping it’s like riding a bike!

WORK OUT MORE DAYS THAN NOT-My goal is to work out at least 4 days a week. If I get really ambitious, then every day is fine BUT at least 4. I think this is totally doable even with 3 kiddos. For me nothing beats a good run but I realize that does not always hit my trouble spots.

So, I plan to incorporate a few additional crazy exercises into my program like 100 jumping jacks, 25 push ups and a daily ab routine. This site will be my go to for abs: www.randomabs.com. It provides you with a daily ab workout. AWESOME! It also provides you with a written explanation of each workout AND/OR a video demonstration of each workout. DOUBLE AWESOME!

This will be my go to for inspiration (not so much for the grammar:)):

 

FINISH CAFE CURTAINS FOR MY KITCHEN- I purchased some pretty awesome fabric last year on sale at Joann’s BUT have yet to get started. The huge bolt of fabric makes me extremely nervous. I must enlist my mother in law’s help to tackle this project. I don’t anticipate it to take a very long time or be to terribly difficult so WHY haven’t I started. Probably for the same reason I buy new clothes and leave them hanging in my closet for a few weeks before wearing them. I DON’T KNOW. There is just something about new things that I love. I take that back. There is something about new fabric and new clothes that I like to leave untouched for a bit.


READ THROUGH THE BIBLE CHRONOLOGICALLY-A very good friend of mine gave me the NIV Chronological Bible several years ago. I started as soon as I recieved the gift but it was in the middle of the year. Needless so say, it was easier to lose track and fell to the wayside after about 3 months. My plan is to keep on trucking this year. Not just to read the required scriptures for the day but to actually take time to research obscure passages and seemingly contradictory scriptures as well as memorize and meditate on favorite new finds. I am thrilled to make this “mommy time” and to let my kids see me prioritize time with God. I’ve also made the decision to NOT read books for fun for the next couple of months. Reading is one of my favorites! I just finished The Hunger Games trilogy and have a long list of others that I can’t wait to get from the library BUT I must practice some self control and establish a habit of reading my bible passage each day first :)

LEARN TO MAKE A COUPLE OF SIMPLE LITTLE GIRL DRESSES-McLaine may be a tough little cookie BUT cute little dresses seem to be her MUST wear outfits. Fabric is one of my favorite things (especially vintage or colorful)! I figure I should combine the 2, right? I get to buy fun fabric and Mac gets cute little dress. WIN WIN!

Something like this is really cute BUT doesn’t look very simple. Maybe I’ll give it a whirl anyway!

PINTEREST-I have tons of pinboards full of kids crafts, recipes, do it yourself home decor projects, etc. My goal is to try 2 recipes and at least 1 kids activity a week.  

PRACTICE KINDNESS-My main objective is to say kind words to my husband and children but then extend to family, neighbors, & random strangers. Joe consistently tells me that I look like I hate him when we have serious discussions and it doesn’t take a genius to hear when my fuse is short with the kids. So I am going to practice kindness using my words & my face!

I will publicly say that I am aiming for blogging more than once a month but will not be adding it to my resolution list. WHY? Because that is just setting myself up for failure.

What are your resolutions? Come on, let me hear ‘em.

Must go to bed now if I hope to check any of these of my list tomorrow!

did I think I would be excited about having a mini-van! That’s right folks, I am now the proud new owner of a 2005 Dodge Caravan.

I had been living a dream believing that 3 kiddos could fit comfortable in the back seat of our Volkswagen Passat. However, even if we could purchase the best combination of booster, car seat, & infant seat, my little momma McLaine would probably mother poor little baby Silas to death. During these last few weeks of  sleepless pregnant nights I have found myself  worrying more and more about her putting things into his mouth that don’t belong or possibly smothering him in blanket love. So we went in search of a reasonable priced vehicle that could separate little momma from baby WHEN needed. It didn’t take long to find our dream car!

There is nothing fancy about this mini-van. Absolutely, no bells and whistles! Not even electric window openers. However,  it has already been such a blessing! Definitely a lesson in submission for me too!

When we returned from Ethiopia, we knew that we would need to purchase an automobile because we sold both of ours before leaving for the field. When we returned to the states, we had 2 kids but thought eventually we would probably want to add a third to our brood. We were not trying to have another baby nor had we decided definitively that we would anytime soon. So when Joe suggested that we go ahead and purchase a mini-van just in case, I tantrumed like a toddler. “We only have 2 kids and they will fit perfectly fine in a sedan!” “I don’t want to be a mini-van driving mom!!!” “Next thing you know, you’ll want me to wear mom jeans.”  I laid it on pretty thick and he eventually conceded.

Just a few months after we purchased the Passat, we found out that another baby Bridges was on the way!! WHY OH WHY didn’t I listen? He is a reasonable man. I mean he wasn’t really asking me to wear mom jeans. He was just trying to save us time, money and an extra car negotiating trip (something we both HATE)! I wanted what I wanted and I knew what to say and do to get the car versus the mini-van. Not a proud moment for me :(

Luckily, we didn’t have to take out an interest bearing loan for the van. My grandfather loaned us the money until we are able to sell our Volkswagen. (PSST: Anyone need a car??) But Joe still had to go through the agony of buying the van & NOW selling the car. I could have saved him a lot of wasted time and effort if I had listened to his wisdom in the first place. I know I must frustrate him immensely sometimes but he always responds in love. He is very patient with me and never says I told you so. Such a Godly man! You would think that it would be easy to submit to someone who responds appropriately BUT my stubborn sin nature still rears it’s ugly little head and I, unfortunately, still roll with it.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE:

Did you know that jumping on a trampoline can be hazardous to your hair??

And that being 36 weeks pregnant with your third can make you look like this…(Not so much the crow’s feet around the eyes but definitely the extremely huge belly).

Jack recently celebrated another birthday. His last 2 birthdays were spent in Addis Ababa with our Ethiopian family which was different and fabulous. This birthday was spent in the states with Joe’s family. We ALL had a great time, especially the birthday boy.

A few months before Jack’s birthday we received a catalog from Birthday Express. It was full of theme decorations for kid’s birthday parties. Our kids loved to look through this magazine and tell us which party decorations they wanted for their next birthdays. Jack loved the John Deere decor the best so I decided to try to duplicate it for a fraction of the cost.

I purchased some green and yellow card stock from AC Moore and cut out triangles and circles for the HAPPY BIRTHDAY letters and I bought some brown ribbon (think dirt) to string the banner for hanging.

I took the leftover card stock from the Happy Birthday banner and used my HUGE circle hole punch to make some confetti for the table. I also added a few small brown hole punch confetti (again think dirt).

I purchased the tractor centerpiece ($4.99) and 2 sets of 4 John Deere stickers ($1.99 each) from Birthday Express http://www.birthdayexpress.com/browse/_/N-i/Ntt-john+deere/results1.aspx. Obviously I used the centerpiece on the table. I added a few stickers to the Birthday Banner, used some to make toothpick John Deere cupcake toppers and used the rest to place on the yellow cups which I purchased at AC Moore for $1.

Aunt Amy makes the absolute BEST icing. It tastes just like wedding cake icing which is my ABSOLUTE favorite thing at a wedding other than watching the groom’s face when he sees his bride for the first time (provided that they haven’t seen each other before the ceremony). Amy was gracious enough to make her icing and used green and yellow food coloring to compliment the John Deere theme.

McLaine loved the icing even more than her momma and was caught red handed several times with yet another cupcake. We also found several cupcake holders full of cake but minus icing! Can we say sugar high??

Memaw and Papaw bought all the cousins a trampoline. Since Jack’s birthday came first and our backyard is big and flat, the trampoline gets to stay in our backyard (Happy Birthday to ME! That trampoline can really wear some kiddos out!). Jon & Joe worked to construct the trampoline the night before the party and then I filled it with green and yellow balloons!! As you can imagine, this was a HUGE hit. Here’s a couple of action shots to prove it:

Jack was spoiled with way to many gifts and he loved every minute of it!

Aunt Amy fell in love with our camera and became the official photographer for the day. She took 350+ photos in a little over 2 hours. I am so thankful for her enthusiasm because she captured some great photos of our family, the party goers:

Jack still talks about the trampoline full of balloons, the cupcakes and spending time with his family (even more than the presents). I’d say the day was a success!!

Oooh Baby Baby

This past Wednesday my baby sister, Jamie, gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. Unfortunately, I was not in Memphis to wait on his arrival but was on pins and needles in Sanford patiently waiting for hourly updates from my older sister and parents.

SHORT BIRTH STORY FOR THOSE INTERESTED:

Jamie was  due on Thursday March 17 but watched her due date come and go. An induction was scheduled by her doctor for Wednesday March 23rd. We were hoping she would go into labor on her own before the induction but Mason ran out of time. The doctor began the process the evening before and then started Pitocin at 7am Wednesday morning. By 10am her water was broken and shortly after an epidural administered. Jamie was playing UNO and enjoying family & friends the rest of the day. She started pushing around 6:30pm and Mason was born about an hour later. It seems that her labor and delivery could not have gone much better. (I am only slightly bitter & jealous considering that both my labors were 25+ hours, with 2 hours of pushing that resulted in 2 c-sections).

Mason Ryan White weighed 8 lbs. 7 ounces and has a head full of dark hair. Apparently, he is the spitting image of his daddy.

Alright, now what you’ve really been waiting for…PICTURES of that baby!! The photos are not the best quality but the subject is perfect!

YES, he is already a Memphis Tiger fan (we grow ‘em that way)! YES, he is already spoiled and YES, I can’t wait to get my hands on him next weekend :)

As promised, I have downloaded just a few of the 543 pictures my husband, Joe, and brother-in-law, Jon, captured during their recent 2 week trip to Addis Ababa, Arba Minch and Chencha, Ethiopia…..

Every child should have an opportunity to be a child with a safe place to play and adults who love and care for him/her.

Everyone who has met Nega, Director of Onesimus-The Forsaken Children’s partner project, knows  why this picture is special. I miss Nega’s beautiful smile, positive attitude, and hearty, contagious laugh.

I absolutely love these kids. It it hard to watch them grow up in pictures and I long for the day (very soon) that I will get to hug and kiss them again!!

And now we will go to Chencha and take a sneak peek at the beautiful landscape surrounding southern Ethiopia…

The landscape is beautiful but it’s got nothing on the people-especially the children…

And just a few not so pretty photos. These serve as a reminder to me to pray not only for Ethiopians to be given access to clean drinking water BUT that they will accept the free gift of the Living Water made available through Jesus Christ.

but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”   JOHN 4:14

 

 

 

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
       JOHN 6:35

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