03 October 2015

Open Wide

We have had a somewhat stressful week around here, so on Wednesday night, when we dropped off Jack at Awana, Ken and I discussed what we could do that would be relaxing and fun.

Go for a massage?
Death by chocolate at a local restaurant?
A visit to our dentist?

Wait, did I just say "dentist" in the same breath with relaxing and fun? Well, yes. Yes, I did. You see, our dentist is pretty extraordinary, and his office is off the charts.

I am super bummed that I didn't take more pictures, but you guys. There is a Game Room. We're not talking Checkers and Monopoly (although those are fun too). We're talking mini-arcade. Pac-man. Centiped, Galaga. (I had to ask my hubby about that last one. Apparently it's his favorite game.) Old School. Fun, retro arcade games. And a kiddie play bus. How cool is that?

There is also a room for grown ups only-- a quiet relaxation room. I stole this pic off their website, but it doesn't do it justice.

Imagine a room where almost one entire wall is a waterfall, with relaxing lights, soft music, and comfortable chairs. And Dr. Dino and his team encourage you to come early and spend as long as you need getting relaxed for your appointment.

Once you go into the treatment area, you are treated to the lastest technological advances. I won't mention the dental ones, because I have no idea what that stuff is called. I do know, however, that the treatment chair has a gentle massager in it. A massager. In the dental chair!

And of course there's a TV. If you're a kid, Dr. Dino's favorite shows are kid shows. (Jack has asked me several times this week: "Mom, did you know that Dr. Dino loves kid shows?!") If you're a guy, Dr. Dino loves to watch the Cubs. If you're a woman, Dr. Dino likes to check out Real Housewives or sappy Hallmark movies. But he'll act like he isn't interested, so don't tell him you know the truth.

Did I mention that my kid, who was alternately terrified and excited about seeing the dentist, is begging to go back? Yah, between getting to brush "Chompers" big ole teeth (see above pic) and getting to choose prizes from the Treasure Chest, Dr. Dino's office was a big, big hit.

I'm saving the best feature of this office for last, but before I tell you about that, let me tell you this: We were greeted at the door with hugs. Hugs. Dr. Dino and his receptionist wife, Celeste, both hugged us. Now granted, that might be due to the fact that 20 years ago my dad was their best patient. But still. My dentist. And his wife. Hugged me. And my child. And my husband.

If you're not the hugging type, don't fret. They probably don't hug until it's at least your third or fourth visit. Which won't take long, because you're going to want to go back. Why? Because of this: The Happy Ending. (No, not that kind of happy ending! They aren't weirdos, you guys.) I"m talking about THE AQUA MASSAGE BED.

You lay down in this contraption that looks like a tanning bed. You pop on some headphones with soothing music. 

You put your head down, close your eyes... and it rains on you.

Friends, it rains on you! And you don't get wet! (Unless it springs a leak, and they assure me this has never happened. Not lately anyway.)

This thing-a-ma-jig relieves muscle pain while giving you both a deep-tissue massage and a lymphatic massage. It helps with circulation, promotes relaxation, and is a great reward for going to the dentist, even if you did have a few cavities.

Oh, and that's really the best part of going to Dr Dino. He NEVER makes you feel bad about having been absent from the dentist for an extra six months...or six years. He never scolds. He is just plain encouraging. In fact, this cartoon is on his Facebook page, which proves just how much he gets it.

Dr. Dino's Dental Oasis is located in Lombard, right across from Yorktown Mall. Wherever you live, it is well worth the drive. They accept all insurances and will work with you to make your dental treatments affordable.

And no, they did not pay me, reimburse me, or even ask me to write this review. I'm purely doing it because I think everyone should go there.

(And I'm hoping for a few extra minutes in the aqua massage bed next time I visit....so be sure to mention my blog if you visit.)

30 September 2015


Conclusion of the Adoption Journey.

Haha. Just kidding.

You know how when someone says they have reached a decision in a matter, you kinda think they have reached a decision? Like yes or no. Yes, the kids can go with you. No, sorry, the kids are staying here.

Well, we've been told a few times now that a decision would be reached. As you'll recall there were vacations, rainy season closures, appeals from the other side, new arguments, unexpected national holidays, too busy, not enough time to review, etc. etc.

But today was THE DAY. The day when all questions would be answered. Would M, M, and D be permitted to have a loving family, a mother and father to care for them? The waiting was over.


Or so we thought.


Maybe it's a cultural thing? Maybe something gets lost in translation? I don't know because even our agency, which has worked in Ethio for a long time, says this is the most complicated, never-ending, frustrating case. It seems so clear to all of us. Four kids need a family (our 3 and 1 other.) Their orphanage is closing. Their is a drought in their region. They've been in orphanage care practically their whole lives. No one, NOT ONE PERSON in their country has volunteered to step up and give them a loving home. And here we are. Approved by the state of Illinois. Approved by the U.S. Federal Gov and Immigration. Referrals from pastors, community leaders, friends, employers, doctors, psychologists, social workers. And we've paid money. A lot of money. Much of it donated by you, our friends and family. More money than many American families earn in an entire year.

And the Judge's decision today was to wait and see.

He wants to see legitimate, documented proof from the children's region and from their orphanage manager that efforts to find an adoptive family in country have been made ... and nothing is available.

What will this look like? Will they post an ad in the paper? Will they hang posters in the town center? Will they make phone calls and interview extended family members for the second or third time to confirm they are unable or unwilling to care for these children? And how long must these efforts go on? A month? Three months? Six months? A year?

We don't know the answers to any of these questions. We will try to get more information in the coming days, but for now, we know this:
  • M, M, and D (and their little friend S) will not be coming home to us in the near future.
  • The case is not closed, and there is the possibility that they will come home to us at some point in the future.
  • The Judge said orphanage care is no longer an options, so a family in Ethio must be found for them, or he will give them to us.
  • We love these children with all our hearts, and we are saddened by this news.
  • We won't give up on them, no matter how long it takes. They deserve a family. 
  • God is still good. We get frustrated with Him sometimes. (or a lot.) But He's our only hope. As we look back on our lives, we see how He has orchestrated so many things for our good and His glory. He has said no to some things we desperately wanted, and it was maddening, annoying, heartbreaking. At the time. But later it all made sense. And sometimes He has made us wait for something. We get upset with His timeline...until later when we see how many things were being worked out behind the scenes. So we cling to the hope that this is the case once again. 

So many of you have reached out to us with phone calls, texts, emails, posts to FB, and private messages. Please know that we read and appreciate every one. We truly want to respond to everyone, but we are taking some time to process this latest twist. And we still have jobs to do...Ken with his fulltime work, me with my partime freelance and fulltime mommy-ing.

In all of this, we don't want our work to suffer or our son to suffer. We also have things going on with Ken's mom, who was recently re-diagnosed with cancer. We had hoped that her chemo and radiation the past six months had taken care of it, but unfortunately it has come back. Would you please pray for her -- that God will comfort her, that her pain will be alleviated, and that the doctors will make wise decisions concerning her care?

And please pray for M, M, and D. I asked the social worker today to please report back on what they are telling the children. I want them to know that we love them so much. We haven't forgotten or rejected them. And the only reason this is taking so long is because they are such wonderful human beings that everyone wants them. <3

Thanks, friends. We love and appreciate you.

27 September 2015

The End

You guys. Did you see the see the moon last night? It was freaking amazing. But tonight will be even better.

A Super Moon, also known as a "Blood Moon" will appear tonight!  Do you know what it means?

It means the End is here. Jesus will return on September 28, 2015.

Ummmm...that's tomorrow. Tomorrow!

Great timing since I have a dentist appointment tomorrow evening, and it's not my favorite activity in the world. Also, we're supposed to get news on our adoption on Tuesday, and since we don't know if it will be good news or bad, Jesus pre-empting the judge's decision would be cool. Oh, and it's my niece's birthday. Happy Birthday, Savannah! (Not to ruin the surprise party...but...I hope you like harp music.)

(I recently blogged about this Blood Moon over at CCFL. To read the rest of the blog, click here.)

25 September 2015


My husband slipped some money in the offering plate as it passed down our row at church. The money was folded up so the denomination was not evident, but I have to admit, I rolled my eyes and sighed a little too loudly.

(I blogged over at CCFL yesterday. To read the rest of this post, click here.) 

 (disclaimer: This is not a photo of my husband's hand. He is 37, not 73.)

24 September 2015


Remember last week when I wrote, "We have been reticent to share details about the adoption process lately, because it seems every time we share something, things change."

Yah, that.

So this morning we got a call from our agency at 7:30, the earliest they've ever called. Before I had a chance to say much, she told me that there was another delay.

All these delays were starting to sound suspicious to me, so I probed a little deeper.

Apparently the Federal Court is closed during Rainy Season in Ethio, but one judge stays on the bench to hear very urgent civil cases. But adoption cases are not considered urgent, so normally they are not heard during this season.

This judge, however, took pity on us and our case and agreed to review our appeal. But because it's an adoption case, it's still on the bottom of the priority list.

So today when our lawyer arrived at court, the place was packed, Wall to wall people. The judge started hearing cases and then noticed our lawyer sitting in the courtroom. He paused the case he was hearing and called our lawyer to the front. He said there was no way he'd be able to deal with our case today or tomorrow, and Monday is a holiday, so he would reschedule us for Tuesday the 29th.

Although it's frustrating, this Judge is our best bet. He's known for being pro-adoption, even int'l adoption, and he is very kind and friendly according to what we've heard.

We would have given up long ago if it weren't for three "brown sugars" (as our pastor's wife calls them). Little M, who is 7 and is spunky and talkative and has a smile as big as her face. Older sister M, who is 9 and is quiet and sweet and has eyes that light up the darkest room. And D, our 12 year old soon-to-be-teen, who is handsome, polite, and super smart.

So we hope. And pray.

And we try to learn any lessons that God is teaching us. (Patience? Trust? Surrender?)

And we carry on...because the world keeps spinning and there's still laundry to wash, books to be edited, preschool to attend, code to be written, and meals to be made.

And today we have a birthday party to attend. Our neighbor friend is turning five, and we rejoice with those who rejoice.  And what better way to rejoice than with a Pirate Party?

Thank you for your continued prayers, love, and support.

God's delays ≠ God's denials.

18 September 2015

What to Do

Nearly everyone knows the story of Daniel and the lions’ den. As punishment for breaking the law, Daniel is forced to spend a (probably) sleepless night with ferocious felines as bedfellows, but when morning comes, Daniel is unscathed. All praise is given to God who shut the mouths of the lions.

It’s a wonderful story of God’s protection for His faithful followers. However, it also showcases the behaviors...

(I shared this blog over at Calvary Fort Lauderdale recently. To read more, click here. )

16 September 2015

When You've Done Everything

We have been reticent to share details about the adoption process lately, because it seems every time we share something, things change.

For example, the Federal Court is supposed to be closed during rainy season, and normally nothing happens with adoptions during that time. And it is closed...mostly. Except that for some reason, this year the family court judge is still holding court for some cases related to divorce and civil issues, and he decided to review two adoption appeals...ours and one other.

So first we were given a date of August 28 for our case to be decided. Then September 9. Then September 10. Then September 23. And now September 24.

I'm not kidding.

We are thankful the judge is even willing to look at our case since he's supposed to be off, but the waiting and the delays and the rollercoaster of emotions is a lot to handle.

Why all the delays? First, new info had been submitted by the Region and by the Ministry that are opposing the adoption, and the Judge wanted our lawyer to have time to respond to their claims. We appreciated that.

Then he had a personal matter and cancelled court.

Then he decided he needed more time to review our case.

And he was taking some vacation days.

So he said Sept. 23 would the The.Date. The Final Decision. The Big Day. The Day We've Been Waiting For. (Or Dreading...depending on how it turns out.)

But then the Judge was informed Sept. 23 would be a national holiday because the Muslims in the country are celebrating Eid-al-Adha. Oh, you didn't know that? Apparently the Judge didn't either. They seem to set national holidays quite arbitrarily, and more than likely our Judge is Orthodox Christian, so he isn't on top of every Muslim holiday.

It's only a one-day delay in a nearly 3-year journey...no big deal. Still, I was curious to see what Eid-al-Ahda was all about.

So I did a little research, and it's a day when Muslims honor the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael in submission to God's command ... as well as the resulting intervention by God to provide an alternate sacrifice.

Even though we're not Muslim, and we attribute this story to Abraham and Isaac, not Ishmael, maybe there's a lesson in there for us? 

It's difficult to believe that leaving these children in Ethiopia would be best for them. I'm afraid for them. I'm afraid they will be left to their own devices. I'm afraid our boy will become a street kid. I'm afraid our girls will be taken advantage of or they will be trafficked. I'm afraid they won't have enough to eat. I'm afraid they won't get the medications they need. I'm afraid they will be forced to live with someone who doesn't have their best interests at heart.

I imagine Abraham was afraid to lay his son on the altar. He probably questioned what on earth God could be doing. It didn't make sense. He had waited so, so long for this child. 

This child was his identity. 

The promise of God, fulfilled.

But he obeyed anyway. And God came through, at the very last moment.

Are we willing to lay our three children on the figurative altar, believing God has their best interests in mind? 

I will try. 

And I will pray for their deliverance.