Saturday, April 30, 2011



So, we are the "parents" of two children for the next week or so. We are keeping my niece Malia while her parents (Chris and Erica) are off on a cruise to the Mexican Riviera. (They're going for Chris's business, so don't get too envious!) Anyway, Malia and Yikealo are just 4 days apart in age, they are both VERY used to getting their own way, and they can both be a bit bossy. Thankfully, they get along pretty well most of the time. This ought to give us a pretty good taste of what parenting 2 might be like though, and we've even got the elements of loneliness and grieving for missed parents in place here. I'm not sure that Miss Mimi has ever been away from all three of her siblings and her parents for this long before, and I know we're going to have some rocky moments from time to time!

Let's take a look at bedtime last night, for example: We had gone out to eat with Chris and Erica before going our separate ways, and we got home with the kiddos around 7:15. Neither child had napped during the day, so it was bedtime. We got the pajamas on, the teeth brushed, read the Bible story, sang a song, said prayers and memory verses, and then settled them in at opposite ends of Yikealo's twin bed. They were both beaming happily as we kissed them good night and left the room.

Now, let me preface this next part by saying that Yikealo NEVER gets out of bed once he's in. Once in a great while, he might get up to go potty, but then he goes straight back to bed. Yeah, I know he's unusual, but my point is, that's what we're used to around here, okay? Having stayed overnight at Chris and Erica's house numerous times, let's just say that I know it's a different story the picture? Less than three minutes after we left the room last night, I heard their bedroom door creak open and both kids came out looking up at me expectantly.

Y: "Mom, Mimi can't go to sleep."
Me: "That's ridiculous. You haven't been back there for even 5 minutes yet - that's not enough time to try properly, okay? Sometimes it takes a little longer to fall asleep. Let's go back to bed and try a little harder."

I tucked them back in, kissed them good night, handed them each their respective stuffed animals or dolls, and left the room again.

20 minutes later: CREEAKK...the door opened again...and Malia emerged.
Mimi: "Risa, I'm scared."
Me: "Why are you scared?"
Mimi: (starting to cry as she heads back to Yikealo's room) "I want my Mommy!"
Me: "Mimi, I'm sorry, but your Mom and Dad are going to be gone for a week. I know that you miss them, and that's okay, but you're going to be fine here. You're staying in a nice, safe house with an aunt and uncle and cousin who love you. We are right here if you need us, and you're going to be fine. What did your Mommy say that you were supposed to do if you got scared?"
Mimi: "Pray to Jesus."
Me: "That's right, because He can make you feel better. Now, do you want me to rock you for a little bit?"
Mimi: "Yeah." (said in a shaky, sobbing little breath.)
Yikealo: "I'm a big boy. I don't need to be rocked."
Me: "Well, Mimi is staying in a new place and she misses her family, okay? Now, lay down and go to sleep."

I carried her to the rocking chair in the living room, snuggled her up in a blanket, and she was out sound in less than 5 minutes. I carefully carried her back to Yikealo's room, put her down on the bed and tucked her back in. Yikealo immediately sat up with a hopeful look on his face:

Y: "Mom, could you please rock me too?"
Me: (big sigh) "Sure."
David: (snickering) "I'll stay in here with Mimi in case she wakes up again."
I carry Yikealo to the rocking chair.
Y: "Mom, you have to rock me as long as you rocked Mimi, okay?"
Me: "Yes, I will, but that wasn't very long at all, because she went right to sleep. Now you try to do the same."

A few minutes later, I carried a "sleeping" boy (who was snoring in a very fake manner with a little smirk on his face) back to the bedroom. I put him down on the bed, and he popped up immediately, wanting a stuffed animal. His talking woke up Malia, who blinked up blearily from the other end of the bed. I tucked them both in yet again, and kissed them yet again, and walked out keeping my fingers crossed.

25 minutes later: CREEAKK...the door opened and Malia emerged...again...
Mimi: (with extremely sleepy eyes) "Risa, it's too light for me to get to sleep."
Me: (with a smidgen less patience in my voice) "Malia, that doesn't make any sense. It's almost dark outside, and about a half hour ago you were sound asleep when it was much lighter out. You are extremely tired, and you need to go to sleep."
Mimi: (sobbing in earnest now) "I WANT MY MOMMY!!!"
Me: "Let's go blow your nose. Mimi, did you pray to Jesus like your Mommy told you to?"
Mimi: "Yeessss!" (sniffle, sob, snort)
Me: "Okay, do you believe that Jesus will keep you safe if you ask Him?"
Mimi: "Yeessss!"
Me: "Well, then you need to trust Him, alright? If you ask Him to watch over you, then He's going to. I already heard you pray for your Mommy and Daddy I want to hear you pray for yourself too."
Mimi: "Jesus, k..k...keep me and help n...n...not to be"
Me: "Now you've got to believe that. Would it help if you slept right beside Yikealo?"
Mimi: "Yeessss!"
Me: (tucking them in again) "You two just snuggle up together and go right to sleep, okay? If you keep waking each other up, we're going to have to put you in separate beds until you're sleeping."
Mimi: "NNOOOO!!!"
Me: "Well, then go to sleep. And Mimi, I think this is really very good for you, because when you get your new little brother or sister from Ethiopia, this is how they are going to be feeling all the time, except it will be even worse. They aren't going to really know you yet, they won't understand the language that you're speaking, and they're not going to understand what happened to their family. They're going to be so scared, and now you're going to be able to understand just a tiny bit of what they're going to feel like, okay?"
Mimi: (with very wide eyes) "Okay."
Yikealo: "I'm trying to go to sleep, but she keeps waking me up."
Me: "Well, you've woken her up too. Now both of you lay very quietly and try very hard not to wake each other up again."

25 minutes later: all was finally quiet. I took a chance and peeked in...SUCCESS!! They were both sound asleep. Now, they were up at 6:10 this morning, after falling asleep around 9:00 last night, so I think that naps are definitely in our future today, but we made it through night #1. Eight more to go!

On a quick note, our April numbers were: #58 for a girl and #44 for a boy. There has only been one referral that we know of during the whole month of April, so we probably have a bit of a wait yet before we have two children for real!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I've often wondered why God created mankind. In conversation with other Christians I've discovered this to be a common question: why'd He do it?

The question stretches our understanding of God: if God is omnipotent, then surely he knew what would happen to Jesus as a result of making mankind. God can see the future, so he must have known the price... this didn't catch Him by surprise did it?

Whenever I've asked someone this question, the immediate answer was always something like: "well, God loves you and wants to spend eternity with you, and this was the only way". But this always seemed 'weak' to me. Didn't God love Jesus too? Wasn't there some other way?

I was running through these thoughts one day while mowing the yard and started praying; I asked God for insight into this question. While God is not always immediate when He answers my prayers, the answer did come immediately on this day. I won't say that I went into a trance, but a story flashed across my consciousness as if I were watching a movie:

I was a dad on a business trip to the west coast (we live in the Eastern time zone). I had several children: an older biological son and several adopted children much younger. It was late at night. My cell phone rang and my oldest son shouted in a panicked voice: "Dad, I just got home and the house in on fire! What should I do?"

What should I tell my son? I cannot rescue the other children myself. I love my oldest son. I love all my children. Equally. I do the only thing I can: "Son, you need to rescue your siblings; you're the only one who can."

So, was this a message from God or the aimless wanderings of a mind not fully occupied by mowing the yard? I believe the former. Consider the evidence: God did indeed send His oldest, only begotten son to die for his adopted children. That's really it. Can you imagine this act if God loved us less than our big Brother?

This realization led me to further considerations: Does adoption really count? I've always considered myself as Child of God second class as compared to Jesus, but this contradicts my personal experience as a father: I can say unequivocally that yes, adoption does count.

Further, consider the scripture. Biblical inheritance is passed from father to son. Could Jesus be of the lineage of David, a "son of David" as Bartimaeus calls him, if not for His adoption by Joseph? The entirety of God's promise to Abraham and the Davidic lineage falls apart if adoption doesn't count.(Note that this point was recently driven home to me by Russell Moore in his book Adopted for Life).

I can only draw one conclusion from all this: the answer to my question is, in fact, as simple as originally communicated to me: 'because God loves us'.

However, I would take this one step farther: because God loves all his children equally.

Do you believe that? That God loves you as he loves Jesus?

If you don't, then ask yourself: why does God call us his children? Why is Christ called the son of David? And, finally, why'd he create us to start with?