2014 Adoption Video

I, Suzanne, am about to head out to Atlanta, GA tomorrow for my favorite adoptive mom’s retreat, Created for Care. I get to meet with some of my closest friends and meet new ones. I get to eat my food and coffee warm without reheating it 11 times. I get to go to the bathroom without hearing “mmooommm…..” I get to share stories with other moms who understand each other, laughing and crying, encouraging new moms and gleaning from those who have done this for a while. And I get to come home refreshed, hopefully a better mom than when I left.

Plus I’m packing flip-flops.

I always go expecting God to speak to me and fill me, and He does not fail. Last year, we were in the early stages of a whirlwind tour of adopting the three siblings of our oldest boy. The early part where you have sent a LOT of money and paperwork and still are not sure if your state is going to say “yes,” if Ethiopia is going to say “yes,” and if you can even handle adding three older kids to your already full house of six kids, three of whom are adopted as well.

But the moment the conference started with the song “He is With Us” by Love and the Outcome, the words cut straight to the depths of my soul–that God was telling me that I can trust Him, that He knows what He is doing, even if I have NO CLUE.

It is a hard road, but I know God is with us through it all and that we can trust Him. I am SO thankful for this upcoming weekend and for some quiet and space to hear what my Father wants to tell me this year. (Thank you, dear hubby, for giving me this gift, and being Superdad while I am gone!)

Every mom wants a “new baby video.” Here is ours of our newest three kiddos!

Gleaning the fields

While we were riding in the combine the other day, “helping” with the last of the harvesting, God was making some connections for me to his Word and to my studies.  I was reminded of the research I have done lately for my thesis: “God’s Heart for the Fatherless.”  It seems that so much of the Israelites’ life was tied to and formed around the harvest.  Their social status was determined by whether or not they owned land, the widows and the fatherless being at the bottom of the class system because they had no property or land.  Their understanding of God’s blessing was displayed by how well the harvest did that year, and many of their prayers revolved around that blessing.  Every seventh year, the land was to have a Sabbath: no one was to plant or harvest on the land but the widows and orphans were allowed to pick what sprang up voluntarily.  The tithes and free-will offerings were mostly given from their harvest, and God instructed the landowners to give to a storehouse every three years enough to provide for the widow and fatherless.  Some of those tithes and offerings went to a community feast that God made sure included the widows and the fatherless so that they felt a part of the covenant community as well.  And God gave explicit commands to His people on how to provide for the widows and the fatherless by leaving the gleanings behind for them to harvest themselves.  The landowners were commanded not to go back to a wheat field or to the olives and grapes a second time to make sure they didn’t miss any.  Some especially generous landowners, like Boaz, actually left extra behind on purpose to provide for the poor.

As you can see, Israel’s life was intimately tied to the harvest and the orphans and the widows depended on it.  As I experienced the harvest the other day, I realized that some very generous, gracious people have left behind some of their gleanings, purposefully, to help provide for the fatherless children we are bringing home.  Thank you, Father, for that connection and for that very tangible display of blessing in our lives.  You are truly “Father to the Fatherless.”

Helping with Harvest

Our friends Tim and Connie own a farm just west of Lincoln.  Tim and his brothers are the fourth generation of their family to farm on this land in central Illinois, their great-grandfather having emigrated here from Ireland in the 1850s.  “In those days, it was either leave or starve,” Tim told me.  In fact, Tim’s brother still lives on the property that was originally owned by his great-grandfather.

They have been in the corn and soybean fields 12-14 hours a day for the past several weeks bringing in his crops and we had the opportunity to ride along in the combine yesterday.  Tim was gracious (and trusting) enough to let each of us take a turn at driving the combine, too.  Though it was a fun novelty for us, I imagine it becomes wearying to do it day in and day out for weeks on end.  Still, Tim loves his work and considers himself grateful and blessed to be able to do it.  We’re grateful to have had a chance to join him on this new learning experience for us.

Suzanne and the kids are packed into the cab of the combine while Tim reaps the soybeans.

A soybean plant before it is harvested.
The combine moves through the field, collecting the crop.
Soybeans after they've been collected by the combine.
One of Tim's dogs stands alertly by the semi-truck, waiting for the combine to return.
Suzanne takes a turn at the wheel.
The combine empties its load into the semi trailer. From here it will make a short trip up the highway to offload at the grain elevator.
Tim watches as he carefully maneuvers the combine to offload the harvest.

Shhh! It’s Liam’s Birthday

We have had a history of having themes for each of the kids’ birthdays.  For Liam’s birthday this year, we did a “secret agent birthday bandit” theme.  It was rumored that the Birthday Bandit had been lurking in the neighborhood, stealing presents from birthday parties.  Sure enough, while we were outside playing with Liam and his guests, the Birthday Bandit found our house and stole the presents.  Fortunately we found enough clues hidden around the house to recover the gifts and unmask the thief.   Here are a few photos from the preparations and day of the party.