Sunday, December 7, 2014

Paintings I've done

I finished a few paintings recently to get ready for the Christmas Marketplace at my church. The prints are now available for order on the blog Paintings for Sale tab here.  I sold a few of the originals at church this morning which was really exciting. I'm also going to start making tree paintings for adoptive families like the one I did for Mihretu with all the names of those who donated to help bring him home on all the leaves. If you or someone you know would be interested in that, those prices are on that page too!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Happy 2 Year Gotcha Day

We just celebrated our 2 Year Gotcha Day last week on October 28th. November 1st was the day two years ago when we arrived exhausted into the Nashville airport and Mihretu spent his first night at home. The first days and weeks were so surreal. Looking back now, it almost feels like a dream. Jet lag, language barriers, getting to know one another and so much that was unfamiliar - I am truly amazed at how well my little guy did in those early days. And so very thankful for how well he's doing now, 2 years later. Life is SO much easier now. There's an understanding and a knowing between us now that we just didn't have back then - we were in essence strangers who jumped into a new life together - one that was completely different than life previously for both of us. Survival mode - it wasn't always pretty or fun but we made it through and now we are on the other side - the side that is joyous and comfortable and fun. Not always easy because parenthood simply isn't easy. But SO much easier than those early days together. I am so thankful that in this great big world, God put us together on that July day in 2011 at an orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In a room filled with babies and toddlers, one little boy stole my heart. And he is now and forever a part of me. Beyond thankful!

Here are some photos from last week which was Gotcha Day and Halloween week. Mihretu got to go trick or treating for the first time - he had so much fun! He was a UPS guy for Halloween and I was a package. We had so much fun with that. On Friday, he didn't have school so we went to the UPS station and waited 30 minutes for access to one of the trucks so Mihretu could see what it was like to be in one! 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

What makes me mad...

Ok so I'm a peacemaker and you will rarely ever find me posting or sharing anything controversial on my facebook page or even on my blog. But something is really bothering me lately and I feel like I have to write about it because I know I can't be the only one.

What makes me mad is this...

The fact that it seems like much of the world out there thinks choosing to adopt as a single is a bad thing.

Why do I think this is the case?

Because myself and people I know who are prayerfully considering adopting as a single have gotten comments such as the following (which I will comment on one by one below):

1. "Kids need a dad." 

2. "Really? You're going to adopt as a single? Is that really fair to the child?"

3. "Are you sure you can handle that? I can't imagine parenting without my spouse. It's going to be so hard. I don't think you realize..." 

4. "Have you really prayed about this?"

5. "Are you sure you're not just getting ahead of God's timing? Maybe you should wait to get married first."

And the list goes on. When you're on the "single" side of the conversation - it feels very isolating, very much like a couples world and very much like you're being judged all because you don't happen to be married. Being single is not a disease. It's not a sign that something is wrong with you. I have a whole bunch of amazing single friends that I honestly don't know why some awesome guy has not scooped them up and married them yet. Seriously strong, Godly, smart, successful, amazing woman. All single. Just like me. And we're all living life and we're just as happy, sometimes moreso, than our married friends. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING SINGLE!!!!

And you know what, in regards to that list above - none of y'all are asking any questions that I guarantee most of us singles praying about adoption haven't already wrestled through ourselves. Many of us, wrestled through for years and years and years.

In most cases, it's not even like we are choosing to be single. We just haven't met the right person yet. And we're not willing to just run off and marry some Joe Schmoe just so we can have a family or our kid can have a dad. That would be a whole lot crazier in my opinion than adopting as a single.

So here's my response to the list above and don't misunderstand - I'm not saying everyone thinks this way about single adoption. I have been blessed to have amazingly supportive people in my life who have definitely not made me feel like being a single parent is a bad thing at all. But I also have gotten, at one point or another, all of the responses above from various people - most of whom are Christians. Not all of which were even married themselves but nevertheless couldn't fathom the idea that I would become a mom as a SINGLE!

1) I wholeheartedly agree that having a dad is ideal for a kid. A good dad. A loving dad. An involved dad. A dad that is also a good husband. And you know what - there's a whole heck of a lot of kids in the world that have a dad but they don't resemble any of those things I just mentioned. Being a dad or a mom for that matter is about a lot more than biology or a piece of paper saying so. And I would honestly truly rather stay single and parent my son as a single mom for the rest of my life rather than marry someone who won't be the very best dad to him (notice I didn't say perfect). Yes, I pray for him to someday have an amazing, dedicated, loving earthly father in his life - but if he never does, God is still faithful. God is still His father - the only father any of us will ever have that will truly be perfect and never let us down. And I know He will equip my son with everything he needs. And He'll equip me with everything I need to raise him as a.... single mom.

2) Is it fair to a child to be adopted by a single mom? Wow - that's an interesting question really. Is it fair to a child to not be able to be cared for by their birth family? Heck no! Is it fair to a child to be thrust into institutionalization because of circumstances beyond their control? No way. Is it fair to leave a child in an orphanage with the possibility of never being adopted if you knew of a truly loving single woman who would gladly bring this child into her family and love him and raise him? Yeah, you get my point. I think this question is frankly ridiculous. Maybe cause I work in orphan care and I've met hundreds and hundreds of children all over the world who very well may never have a mom or a dad to tuck them in at night. It's heartbreaking. Maybe it's because I know there are an estimated 163 or so Million children who are orphaned by at least one parent. Yeah, when you know all that - it seems to me there really is no argument for not supporting or cheering on any woman who is able to be a great mom but might just not be married yet.

3) Just because married couples can't fathom parenting as a single does not mean that a single cannot do it. It may mean that they need a different type of support system than married folks do. It may mean they don't get as many breaks or they might not have the option of homeschooling or various other things that some of our couple friends are choosing. But it doesn't mean it can't work. And you know - when people ask me if it's hard being a single mom - I honestly don't know how to respond because I've never been a married mom so I have nothing to compare it to. I think we make it work and God give us grace and people around us to make it a whole lot easier. But at the end of the day, it's hard, just like parenting is hard for our couple friends.

4) Did I pray about it? My thoughts when I was asked those questions were - are you kidding me? I sure hope anyone who is adopting, whether single or married, has prayed long and hard about the decision. It's not something you just wake up one morning and decide to do. And even if your initial decision was on a whim - all the paperwork and fees and classes and scary attachment and trauma stuff you learn about along the way would be sure to scare off anyone who isn't serious about doing this or feel completely sure that God called them to do this. I prayed about it for several years - not wanting to get ahead of God's timing but also not wanting to hold so tightly to the idea of family in my mind that I would miss something else He might have for me. I just kept praying until I was sure. Christmas morning 2010, I woke up and had the very distinct feeling that someone was missing from my home. A little someone. A child. I had wanted to become a mom for many years but I never ever had felt like literally someone was missing from my home and my life until that morning. The next 7 months, I prayed non-stop about adopting as a single. I asked God to show me where, how, when. I attended webinars by adoption agencies, talked to tons of people, researched online, and so on. And then I went on a trip in July 2011 where I picked up a little boy in an orphanage in Ethiopia and felt like the missing piece of the puzzle had been placed in my arms. Turns out, it had. Once I knew, God flung the doors wide open. It wasn't crazy fast or even easy and there were never any guarantees but I just knew if this was truly a God ordained thing - He would work it out to get that little guy home. 15 months later, He did. And my life is so much more rich with that little boy in it. It's been hard and I've come face to face with my own brokenness and junk but not for one second do I think that it was a mistake or I somehow heard God wrong.

5) I could have waited to see if I was going to get married. But then again, I've been waiting and waiting and waiting for oh, you know, like over 20 years. I'm almost 40 (39 next month). I honestly could care less if I ever have biological children cause I've always wanted to adopt anyway so it wasn't necessarily a time clock ticking kind of thing. But it was and is a "hey I'd like to be young enough to be active and do things with my child" kind of thing. And honestly, I have no guarantee that I'll ever get married. And while I surely hope someday I will - if I never do, that's ok. I like my life. I like the things God is doing in it. And I really love being a mom. I'm glad I didn't wait to be a mom because I wouldn't have gotten to be this child's mom and I totally, fully believe that God puts families together and it is very apparent to me that He did so with this one. My son is SO my son! I can't imagine us being more perfectly suited to be a family if we were biologically related. I'm serious. He's my kid through and through. And it's awesome.

When I was praying about adopting, I was very discouraged specifically by some adoption agencies. One in particular literally said "well, we do sometimes work with singles but it's not our preference". I think I caught the lady off guard when my first reaction was this "well, it's not my preference to still be single at age 37, but I haven't met the right person yet so there ya have it." She laughed awkwardly and then I think she realized how ridiculous that comment was. It was hard not to get discouraged by feeling like adoption agencies and people all around were thinking it was not a good idea to adopt as a single. When I really wrestled through all the arguments against it and realized none of them were really good reasons to not give a child a loving home, then I was able to move forward without worrying about what other people were thinking. But I had to come to that place within myself and with God - the place where I knew I could provide a loving, stable home for a child and that I could do it as a single.

I really hope that adoption agencies and the church as a whole begins to embrace singles who adopt. I don't believe every single should adopt, just like I don't believe every couple should adopt. But I do believe God calls families to adoption - and that includes some single parent families. I am very passionate about changing the stigma that seems to be around singles and adoption. Instead of discouraging people from becoming single adoptive parents, let's pray for them, let's support them, let's surround them with community and love and help.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

This Time of Year

It's been scorching hot in Tennessee for several months. But yesterday and today feel like fall. There's a cool breeze and it's just perfect out. This time of year reminds me of 2 years ago around this time when I was preparing to bring my son home, waiting on the glorious email that said "you've cleared embassy - you may come get your son". It didn't say that exactly but that was what it meant. The email came at 2:17 am on October 23, 2012. It was the best email I've ever gotten with the biggest life-changing news of my life. 

The smells in the air, the cool breeze, even the fact that it's getting dark earlier - it has all just taken on new wonderfulness these past few years. This year, even moreso because of all the junk of my own and Mihretu's that is out of the way and all the joy in our home now. We've both come so far. My healing, his healing. God is good. All the time! 

Mihretu and I have so much fun together. I still mess up and sometimes I have to apologize. He still has his moments and meltdowns. He still pushes my buttons, although I have far less buttons to push than I did 9 months ago thank the Lord! But man, now it feels like we're in a groove. A sense of normalcy. A sense of thriving. Not just surviving. We've gotten to know each other now. I just never thought much in advance about how long it might take to get to know my child - especially when I missed out on the first 3.5 years of his life. This kind of knowing takes time. The more I know him and who God made him to be, the more grateful I am for the fact that I get to be his mom. So grateful. 

Yesterday, it was cool and cloudy and we went on an adventure to Long Hunter State Park. It's not far away at all and yet I had never been there. So we went. We packed a lunch and we went on an adventure. Mihretu loves to say "we're having an adventure mommy". It's so cute. We saw a deer when we parked the car. And then Mihretu saw a playground which he was more excited about. I was more excited about the deer. He played on there for a while and then we found a trail that was only a 1 mile loop. It seemed longer - probably cause we went pretty slow. We didn't see any deer on that trail but we did see a few really cute baby toads - see photo above. And we came across the most beautiful little spot on the lake while on this little trail. There was even a little plastic chair right there by the water. Mihretu said "look mommy - you sit and I'll sit on your lap and we'll snuggle". Who can turn that down? Not this momma! It was perfect. So peaceful. 

After our little 1 mile loop, we hopped in the car and headed back to the playground section. On the way, we saw a whole family of deer. Including several baby deer. I was super excited. Mihretu was only interested for like 2 seconds:) 

Once we got back to the park location with the playground - Mihretu said he wanted to take our blanket down by the lake and have a picnic there. So we did. I packed sandwiches and waters and we had a lovely little picnic by the lake and had this great view:)

We really enjoyed our adventure on this fall like day! So thankful for a fun little adventure partner. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Unfailing Love

I'm at the Unfailing Love retreat for foster and adoptive moms this week. It's in Hoover, Alabama at a beautiful resort. We have a Visiting Orphans table setup which is a great opportunity to get to meet other moms when they stop by the table. I love coming to events like these to get to connect with other momma's who share the same heart and many of the same struggles. Hearing the teaching and stories from others is just a good reminder of the things we know but so often can forget in the busyness of day to day life. Things about trauma and attachment and how different parenting kids from hard places is from parenting biological kids.

For me, I'm sitting here reflecting on the past 2 years. Oct 28 will be our 2 year gotcha day. 2 years ago that day, I walked into the care center and left with a little 3 year old boy who developmentally more resembled a 1 and a half or 2 year old. A little boy who didn't speak English and didn't know what was going on. Surely he had to have been terrified. He hid it well and even seemed to want to go with me. Even that first time I met him on that mission trip in 2011, he seemed like he would have been fine to leave with me. But it's hard to say what he was really feeling or wanting because he had surely developed all sorts of defense mechanisms as he did the first several years of his life in survival mode. The nannies told me he was ornery. I think he very likely may have figured out that he who is the cries the loudest or throws the biggest fit - gets attention. It might not have been good attention. But I'm pretty sure it probably got him attention nonetheless. When I came and picked him up that day, he snuggled into my arms like he belonged there. I saw a little boy who so desperately wanted someone to belong to and feel safe with. When I would try to put him down - he would get angry. Who could blame him? I would be angry too after all that sweet boy had been through in his first years of life. Living in an orphanage, even the very best ones, is not an ideal place for a child. It's amazing how much a child can grow and thrive in family. I look back at those early days and how he responded to things, how he didn't want me to do anything for him - he wanted all control and wanted to do everything - opening doors, pushing buttons, washing dishes, putting his own toothpaste on, turning on and off the tv. Anything big and small - he wanted to do it and if I tried to - he was not happy. I very vividly remember him throwing himself onto the floor in a huge fit one time when I turned off the DVD player. I kind of thought this was just his personality. He liked to be in charge and in control. But also knew a lot of it could be adoption related. It sure was. Just under 2 years later and he asks me to help him get dressed and has no problem with me washing the dishes or making dinner or getting something out of the cupboard for him. He sometimes likes to help with laundry but he's also fine with me doing it while he plays in the other room now. He didn't even know how to play when he first came home. He wanted nothing to do with other kids or playdates. He just wanted to do grown up things and he wanted to be as close to me as possible... at all times. Oh so much has changed. We've come so far. Both of us.

His trauma he came with ended up triggering my trauma that I didn't even know was there. That first year was hard. But oh how God used it to get me to a place of great healing and how I've seen Mihretu settle in so much more since I've turned a corner in my own healing. It's truly amazing. There were so many things I was reacting to out of my own junk. My reactions are very different now. And I started noticing the differences in Mihretu pretty much right away as I walked through my junk in counseling earlier this year. So much progress has been made and I haven't been trying to make it happen. When I loosened up and stopped being so intense about everything and feeling like so much was riding on every single moment - wow - our whole household dynamic shifted. We had more fun. We enjoyed each other more. Joy returned. I told my counselor on our last day together that I didn't truly know how depressed and joy-less I was until joy returned. Then I was like "Wow! What a difference". You have to fill out a self assessment the first day and again the last day. You circle a number 1-10 to rank things like your level of anxiety, anger, depression, etc. On the last day as I was circling things on a whole different level - I could look back and see that even my numbers in the beginning didn't fully reflect how bad I had felt. I had just gotten used to it so I just circled like 4's and 5's. On that last day, when I was on the other side of joy - I asked if I could change some of those starting numbers in certain categories because looking back in comparison to how great I was feeling now - I think I was more like a 1 or 2 in some of those things only didn't realize it until I was out of it. That first year, I was going through the motions. Getting up every day and doing life the best I could manage but I really wasn't thriving. And although Mihretu was definitely thriving more than he had been in an orphanage - he wasn't thriving as much as he could have been. I was not reacting well to him. I was not feeling compassionate and kind in his meltdowns or controlling ways - I wasn't even really thinking about where he had come from or how much trauma he had most of the time. I was just seeing him through my own selfish lens of "holy cow my life is different. I've lost all freedom. He's pushing all sorts of buttons that I didn't know I had. What is wrong with me? I'm a horrible mom" mode. And then the cycle of hating myself and thinking I was the worst mom and person on the planet started. And the enemy pounded me day and night with lies and replays in my mind of every wrong thing I had done that day and the words "you're gonna mess him up for life" "what is wrong with you? He's already got trauma and now YOU are causing him more" played over and over and over. If it wasn't for the safe place in some of my friends and the realization on my part that I needed to be honest with some people and tell them the truth of what was going on - I don't know how I would have gotten through that first year. And the crazy thing is - we weren't even dealing with some of the extreme circumstances that many adoptive families deal with. Mihretu was seemingly adjusting well and even thriving. And even in that - I felt guilty because I knew other families had far harder things to deal with and I felt horrible for feeling so horrible for thinking this was so hard. But the reality is, no matter what your situation is when you adopt - it's hard. If you're a first time momma, it's hard. If you're single, it's hard. If you're married, it's hard. If you've got other biological kids, it's hard. If you've adopted before, it's still hard. Adoption comes from loss and brokenness. It's hard. But God can make it beautiful. And He can even make all your junk that gets stirred up in you into something beautiful because He can get you to a place of brokenness where you realize more than ever how much you need him. And how much you cannot do this without Him. And He can bring you healing and He can use that healing you've walked through to help you understand your child's places of pain and brokenness so you can help them walk through it. God works ALL things together for the good of those who love Him. He's so amazing like that.

I'm sitting here at this adoption retreat feeling overwhelmed with thankfulness. Thankful that I'm on this side of joy. Thankful that unlike a year and a half ago when I went to an adoption conference much like this one - that this time I'm not feeling depressed and shame filled but rather feeling hopeful and thankful and filled with joy. Thank you Jesus for your restoring power. For us mommas and for our kiddos. I've never quite understood the love of Christ and His adoption of us so much as I do now that I'm an adoptive mom on this journey to restoration for my sweet son. The story is not over yet. I am sure we will walk through hard days and seasons. And I'm sure that I will continue to feel at times like I am ill equipped. But I am equally sure that God will be enough to carry us and equip me with everything I need for that day. I am not enough for my child. Only God is enough. And if I can point Mihretu to Christ - that is the most important part of my role as mom. To point my son to the one who never fails, never messes up and never forsakes us. Even in my mess ups now, I get to say I'm sorry and say "mommy messed up. But guess what? Jesus never does." How beautiful is that!

I am so thankful for this journey. So thankful for this child that is truly a joy and a blessing. I can't imagine a child more perfectly matched to me. The way he is wired. The things that he does and says. The way he loves to quote movie lines - my Kerr side of the family has always done this too. The way he finds heart shaped things in nature and points it out to me and notes how beautiful it is. I've noticed heart shaped things in nature for years. I have a collection of rocks and photos of water puddles and other things in nature that are heart shaped. I always felt like they were love notes to me from God. How beautiful and perfect that Mihretu notices these things too! How awesome that he is silly with a very similar sense of humor to me. That he likes to have things in order and will insist we pick up toys before bed because this room is "a disaster". While I've loosened up a ton in this area, especially since becoming a parent, I do still like a clean house. And apparently so does he. It's just neat how God puts families together. People sometimes say how lucky Mihretu is to have me for his mom. No, friends - I'm the lucky one. He's the most amazing kid on the face of the earth and I'm so glad that the fog of my own junk has lifted so that I can fully embrace and enjoy him for who God made him to be and enjoy every moment of being his mom.

God's love is unfailing. We all have junk but He won't leave us there. If you are reading this and you are walking out some hard days and your junk has been stirred up big time and you're stuck in the vicious cycle of beating yourself up - let me just encourage you that you are not alone. Reach out to some trusted people and let them in. Be real. Be honest. And reach out to a counselor in your area. I worked with Beth Murphy at Rock House Center in Nashville and she does skype appointments too. Don't ignore your junk. Get healing and work through the junk and you will be so very glad you did when you're walking in joy on the other side of it. Dear momma, hold on to Jesus. And don't let the enemy tell you that you can't do this. You can. And you don't have to do it alone. We're not meant to walk alone. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Our New Normal And Oh How Nice It Is!

I am sitting in my home office right now typing this as my son is in my bed on the other side of the house with his nap music on and several books to look at as he falls asleep. He's not asleep yet but he's winding down. And he's in another room by himself. More than just for a few minutes. On the other end of the house. And he's not freaking out - at all. In fact, this "look at books and rest until you fall asleep" thing has been our new nap time routine for about 2 weeks now. And it's lovely. So lovely.

When I think back to those first months when I brought him home just under 2 years ago, I have to pause and take note of how far we've come. I remember when I couldn't even walk in the other direction without him freaking out. I remember when he was literally next to me 24/7. I couldn't eat, sleep, shower, anything without him literally right next to or on top of me. In the middle of the night, while sleeping, he would reach out for me and climb right on me. As overwhelming as all of this was for me, can you imagine how overwhelming life must've been for him? That he would be so fearful of being alone, that even when he was supposed to be sound asleep resting, he was reaching out, even in his subconscious, to make sure I was still there. I cannot even fully comprehend what must've been going on in his heart and mind.

Can I just say how thankful I am for all the healing that has already taken place and all the progress that has already happened? I am beyond thankful. Sometimes in the midst of the new normal and the busyness of life - you forget for a moment where you were 2 years ago. And then you pause and find yourself saying "wow!" Because wow - we've come so far. He's come so far.

He's 5 now. He starts kindergarten tomorrow. And he's only been home with mommy for just under 2 years. Crazy to become a mom and then be sending your kid to kindergarten less than 2 years later. That feels like crazy rapid warp speed - cause it is! He's been at a fabulous Montessori school since 5 weeks after coming home. And he thrives there. His class is mixed ages - 3 to 6 year olds - all in one class. The teacher and assistant work with the kids at their individual levels but having mixed ages has been so perfect for him. He never felt behind or noticed that he wasn't at the same level as other kids his age. Because he never had to be. And low and behold - he's caught right up to his age. Amazing how fast kids learn and grow at this age. And developmentally - it's like 4 years has gone by in only 2. He's grown like 6 inches and although he's still small for 5 - he is catching up in size too. And just in the last few months, has outgrown 2 shoe sizes. My little boy is a big kindergartener now. He had school all summer - summer semester at his school is super fun - Friday is water day where they wear bathing suits and get to play on a blow up water slide, Tuesday is ice cream day and then they have art once a week and then on certain days throughout the summer - they had fun stuff like puppet show day or pony rides at the school or the zoo brought a few animals. He had a fun summer. This past week he had off and he's been asking me all week when he gets to go back to school and see his friends and his teachers. He says he misses them and is really excited to go back tomorrow. Oh how thankful I am that he loves his school and wants to go. As a single working mom, it would be so hard if that were not the case.

As of a few weeks ago, I now get to work from home. We moved out of our office - it was a good move financially and practically since we no longer needed that much space when a majority of our staff are not in the office each day. We certainly didn't need an office space and all the costs that go along with it for only two of us to be there full-time each day. So it's been a good transition. I am loving working from home. I am so much less distracted and get so much more done. I am not spending as much time driving since M's school is close to us. And the dog doesn't have to be crated or home alone cause I'm here. She just lays at my feet and is pretty chill all day. Which reminds me, if you've been reading my other blog posts - we had two puppies. Well, we only have one now. Two proved to be way too chaotic for this single momma. Our house was a constant state of wild. I had a number of friends kindly ask if I might want to consider only keeping one. And I have to admit, I was pretty stressed out. Both dogs are great dogs. But when you had them together - it was nonstop wrestle, bark, growl, roll-around mania!! So I reached out the agency I adopted them from and had to admit I didn't know what I was getting into and was too stressed out to handle two and ask them to help find Buddy a home. They were so gracious and kind. And I was willing to keep him until a home was found. It took a little over a month but he found a great home. We are even still in touch with the people and got to have 1 playdate with him since. I LOVE having only 1 dog and Mihretu is loving on her so much more. With two, whenever he would try to love on them - they would both jump all over him and it got overwhelming to him as they got bigger so Mihretu was mostly not wanting to interact with them at all. Now that we just have 1, he's constantly playing with her and hugging her and wanting to know where she is at all times. She even sleeps with us now and just stays in the bed the whole night. I still lay down with him till he falls asleep so she does too. I almost always fall asleep for a few hours too and then get up in the middle of the night to go to my bed. She just comes along. In the mornings, Mihretu comes into my room and climbs in bed with us and we all snuggle for a bit before we get up. I just love it. Very good decision I made to just keep one. We know now - we are a 1 dog family!

Between only one dog, getting to work from home and all the great progress Mihretu has made, including our new naptime routine where I read him 1 book and then turn on his music and leave him in the bed with several other books to look at and I go to the other end of the house to work or do whatever - our new normal is really nice. I still have my moments where I very much lose my patience and have to apologize. And he still has his meltdowns and he's definitely got a sassy side. Lately he likes to argue about most everything I ask him to do. Or blame the dog if he makes a mess but doesn't want to admit it or blame me if he trips and falls and gets hurt - even though I'm nowhere near him. He's kind of in this blaming someone else stage. And arguing stage. So it's not like it's all roses and chocolate over here but it sure beats the survival mode we started out in.

That 2 year Gotcha Day Anniversary is rapidly approaching. On October 28, 2012 - I arrived at the Care Center and walked out a few hours later with my son - never to have to leave him behind again. I didn't know exactly what to expect or what our journey would look like - I had a pretty good idea that it would be hard. It was and is - but in much different ways than I had thought it would be. But I also never could have imagined or known how amazing this kid I get to call my son would be. How much everyone who knows him would love him. How silly and smart he would be. How resilient and strong he was. I didn't quite know how much life was going to change or in what ways but I knew that I was making the right decision. I've never doubted that. And the more time goes on, the more grateful I am for the courage to make that decision and charge into the unknown with this little guy. Hands down the best decision I've ever made. I can't wait to celebrate our 2 year Gotcha Day! Lots to celebrate indeed.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Summer adventures

I can't believe it's July already! Time is flying by. Mihretu and I just returned from a week in Michigan. I had my 20 year high school reunion and all my family lives up there so we had lots of people to see. This time instead of staying with family, we rented a house. I think I'm addicted to Now that I have a child, I find that I get extremely anxious when staying at most people's houses. Especially if they don't have young kids living there. I end up nagging Mihretu half to death about not touching things or climbing on things or breaking things and it ends up no fun for anyone. After our amazing Florida vrbo experience and how great the time with M was there - I decided to try it in Michigan. It was great. My mom was able to come spend the night one night. And almost all the family came to visit and go to the beach with us. We weren't right on the beach but we were on the edge of a neighborhood with beach access so we could just load up the provided wagon and head down about 7 houses to the private neighborhood beach. It was so nice. Most of the time when I go to MI - I am so busy running all over the place visiting everyone - I never make it to the beach. This beach time and people coming over to visit us was so nice and made it feel more like a vacation. It was so great to see everyone and have a break to the 98 degree humid weather we had been having in TN the week prior but both Mihretu and I were excited to come home after our week was up.

We drove and I like to get an early morning start since it's a lot of hours in the car and I don't like to drive much of the time in the dark. So, I got up at 4:15 am, packed up the car and got ready and then woke M up at like 4:30. Sweet boy - half asleep he says "Yay - we're going home. Thanks for waking me up mommy". Seriously - what kid wakes up that chipper at 4:30 am (that's 3:30 am back home btw)? He is the best little traveler ever! No issues or meltdowns whatsoever the whole way there and back. So thankful for a good traveler. We got through Detroit and Toledo before rush hour that Friday morning which was the hope. We never hit traffic anywhere and made it home in a record 9.5 hours. YAY!

Here are some pics from our Michigan trip.
we love the beach

those who came to the class reunion daytime picnic

cousin bonding time

Road trip!

bonding with Grandma at the beach

wrestling with Uncle Steve

Happy to go home - even when being woken up at 4:30 am:)

2 days after getting home, instead of returning to the office that Monday - we had an offsite staff retreat. We've been wanting to do one forever but with 7 people on staff - 2 from out of state and most with families - it has been a bear to try and arrange. I finally had an idea that made it work out brilliantly. We rented a house just outside of Nashville on you guessed it - Told you I'm addicted to that site. It was a great house on Old Hickory lake and our out of state staff were able to stay the night there and those of us who wanted to could stay too. Mihretu and I stayed there that Monday night. I dropped him off at school Monday morning and then went to the house and we had an all day retreat with our amazing VO staff. It was perfect timing since I got back from vacation on Friday and had an email that our landlords at our office found renters for our entire space and were giving us 30 days notice to vacate. We had asked them about a year earlier to start promoting the space since we didn't need that much space anymore and now have a lot of staff that work a majority of the time from home. We were in a 3 year lease so we couldn't just move out but if someone else wanted part of the space or all of it - we could either move into a smaller section or move out altogether. So we were excited about them renting it but having 30 days to get all the details figured out for a big move sounded overwhelming at first. Our retreat was perfect timing to just set those logistics aside and focus on worship, praise, and thanksgiving for all God had been doing in our lives and in VO the past few years. It was so great to go through and thank God for specific prayers answered including all the many many months of praying for Mihretu to get to come home. Lots of tears shed as we prayed and thanked God for so many miracles to make that one happen. It's amazing how when you start out in praise and thanksgiving - how your whole perspective of things that seemed big or heavy or overwhelming just completely shifts. I personally felt a weight lift and just a total peace come over me. Our whole staff experienced that too. It was a lovely day with this amazing team of 7 people. We do life together and I don't know what I would have done without each one of them these past few years. After our amazing all-day retreat - I left at 4 to pick up M from school and bring him back to the house where we were having our staff day. And several of the staff had spouses arrive to join us for the evening and the owner of the house picked us at 6:30 at the boat dock at the house and took us on a beautiful sunset boat ride and dropped us off at Sam's on the Cove for dinner and then picked us up afterwards and took us back via boat ride. It was a really great evening and we got to have some of our family members join us. Having a retreat nearby worked out so great. We will have to do that yearly.

evening boat ride on Old Hickory Lake on staff retreat day

Tomorrow is 4th of July and we are getting together with friends and having some pool time. I am excited about the long weekend. Mihretu loves swimming and fireworks so it's sure to be a great weekend. And best of all - the temps have dropped down to 80's and it's so much more pleasant than the 100 degrees we had a few days ago. Tonight there was even a cool breeze - it was lovely:) Happy July 4th weekend y'all!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother's Day 2014

Ah, tomorrow is Mother's Day and I'm sitting here while my precious boy is napping thinking about how grateful I am to be his mom. And how thankful I am for all that God is doing in our lives!

I wanted to be a mom since I can remember. All through middle and high school, I was sure I would get married and become a mom in my 20's. Never did I dream that I would still be single at the age of 38 and that I'd have decided to adopt as a single in my mid 30's. I didn't plan this but oh I am so thankful that this is the life I have. It's not that I don't want to be married because I would love to be married to an amazing Godly man someday. But I just haven't met him yet and that's ok. My life is not any less rich because I'm single. I love this life and this adventure God has me on. It's been hard and at times disappointing. But here and now - in this place - as this little boy's mom and on this side of the adoption and all the joys we are getting to experience together now - there is not one thing I would change. Not one. All roads led me here. All roads led me to that 2011 trip to Ethiopia where I picked up a little boy who felt like home to me. All roads led to the past junk that becoming a parent stirred up and though it was ugly and painful, it revealed places that still needed to be healed in me. And so I have had an opportunity to get some much needed long overdue healing. All roads led to God healing those places I didn't know were there. And to my healing ultimately helping me to help my son in his own places of hurt and pain and healing. God wastes nothing. He uses all our junk, all our pain, all our dark moments and difficult seasons - for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. He's using all my junk. He'll use all yours - if you let him. And for me, I know there's still more to deal with. But the reason that no longer makes me feel awful about myself is because it makes me instead feel wonderful about who God is - the God who is my redeemer, my healer and my provider. It's exciting to me to think of what He has in store for me and Mihretu. And I can only imagine what that looks like. Mihretu is the most amazing kid on the face of this earth. I am the most blessed momma to get to call him my son. He's just great. God surely has big amazing plans for this little guy. He has such a great personality, such a mercy gifting, such a silly sense of humor and he's so smart. He is doing so well and I couldn't be more proud of him.

This Mother's Day, I am especially thankful to be a mom. Especially a mom to this awesome little boy named Mihretu. My joy overflows! Thank you Jesus.

photography by:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I really like this kid

At the beginning of this year, I got serious about health. Emotional health and physical health. Parenting threw me off my game right from the get go and it's been quite a journey of realizing all the baggage I still was carrying around that needed healing before I could fully attempt to help my little guy heal from all his. I began going to biblical counseling in January at Rock House Center. I also started a new healthy lifestyle with Isagenix. The two things in combination were perfect timing. I'm getting to the root cause of some of my buttons and issues and where they come from, and getting lots of healing through lots of prayer and revelation from the Lord who is so faithful and kind! And I'm feeling better than I have in years. I've lost 18 pounds already and have energy to keep up with my active little guy and our 2 puppies who are very rambunctious themselves. God is helping me overcome so many things I've struggled with over the years with my weight and past hurts. And there has been so much breakthrough these past few months. Thank you Jesus!!!

And not only does this breakthrough and newfound peace affect me - it affects Mihretu. I have been truly amazed at the changes in him as a result of the changes in me. I'm a work in progress for sure but I've experienced so much more peace and so much less stress. I've been handling meltdowns and negative behavior with a lot more patience, understanding and grace. It's not a 100% batting average but it's certainly ALOT of progress and I will take it! Mihretu has responded to my changes with more respect, better behavior, lots of affection, and a lot of growth. He just seems to feel more secure and I know that's because of how I'm responding to situations. It really makes a difference.

Our kids are so dependent on us and it's so key that we deal with our junk so we can help them deal with theirs. I am seeing it firsthand in our home. I'm also seeing how kids learn from us and do as we do. For instance, some really cool moments lately where I've been just awed by little things that I've done in front of him that have taken root in his heart.

Whenever I am having a hard time - putting the divider in the dog crate and it was physically difficult to squeeze the crate to get the little slots to go in or when I hit my head really hard on an open cupboard on vacation and had to sit down on the floor cause it hurt so bad I was practically in tears or we encounter a traffic jam or a bad storm - Mihretu has started just folding his little hands together and saying out loud "Dear God - thank you. Help mommy" OR "Dear God - thank you - keep us safe from storm". It is the most precious thing ever. He came over and touched my head when I hit it and kissed it and then said "Dear God - thank you. Please help mommy's head." Be still my heart. This kid is so precious! Of all things he could have picked up that I have done - this is by far the best option. Thank you Lord. My prayer is that these things would sink deep into his heart and he would know God the father as the one who hears, who cares, who loves and who provides all we need - our very present help in time of need.

So we ended up renting out a little apartment within walking distance from the beach in Florida on spring break last week and it was so wonderful. Just me and M and the most peaceful, fun, blissful vacation I've ever had. I just cannot even tell y'all how much I enjoyed his company. He was so much fun to be with, so well behaved, so adventurous, so sweet and loves to do the same things I do. I honestly couldn't think of anyone in the whole world I'd rather take a vacation with. I walked away from that week with so much thankfulness for the closeness we shared and just how much I like this kid. Of course, I always love him but I tell ya what - I really like him too - he is a cool kid. He loves the beach and going out for seafood and being lazy in the morning when we have no place to be. He's funny and totally gets it when I'm joking. He says "you kidding right?" with this little "yeah right mom" look on his face and it cracks me up. He cares about people and loves to be a big helper. He has a mercy gifting which is perfect cause his name means "mercy". He's super smart. He did amazing on 2 super long car rides to Florida and back. On the way back, we hit so much traffic that 10 hours turned into 15 and he didn't fuss one bit. He just watched his movies in the back seat and went with the flow. He's a great little travel buddy. I just really enjoy his company! I'm so lucky to be his mom. I really, really feel blessed beyond measure by this amazing little person that I get to be mom to. I'm in awe of how God puts families together and so thankful that He put us together on that short-term mission trip in 2011!

Another huge breakthrough came last night - Mihretu brought this up on his own - he said after dinner "mommy, I'm going to sleep in my big boy bed tonight". I didn't prompt it, I hadn't been pushing it, I didn't see that coming. If I'm being honest, I thought he was going to change his mind so I was keeping my expectations in check. By golly, he really did it - he slept the entire night in his own bed. This is a huge, huge, huge thing! He still wanted me to stay in there with him till he fell asleep but he knew I was going to my bed once he was asleep and he was ok with that. He just wanted a light in there so I put in two nightlights. He slept all night without waking up and coming in with me. And this morning, I was up at 6 am and he was still asleep so I shut his door so the dogs wouldn't run in there and he slept till almost 7 am. He then walked out and came into my room and gave me a hug like "no big deal that I just slept in my room". I was shocked. Wow. I tell ya what - I think this all just comes back to security. The more patient and loving I am and the more peaceful our home is - the more that overflows onto him and makes him feel peaceful too. And he feels more secure in that. And when he feels more secure, he has more freedom to be independent and not fearful. Thank you Jesus!

I won't venture to say this will be the new norm or that he'll sleep in there every night from now on - maybe he will, maybe he won't. But I am learning to just go with the flow and go with what he needs in the moment, rather than being so desperate for any certain thing to happen. I'm just trying to not have so much riding on every little thing and just seek the Lord in each moment and ask Him what He would have me do. And man, I sure wish I had started out parenting like this cause it sure is a lot more fun and a lot less stressful than how I was trying to do things in the beginning. I'm just thankful God is showing me now while we're still in the beginning stages. He's only been home a year and a half so it's still early. And His mercies are new everyday.

I like 2014 so far. I like this son I've been blessed with. I like this life I have, even though at times it gets chaotic and crazy. And I really like all that God is teaching me and my son and all the healing we are both experiencing because of it!

Interview with Engaging Missions

A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to be interviewed by Engaging Missions. They have a list of questions they ask the people they interview and I got to share alot of personal testimonies of how God has worked in my life, my favorite scripture and why, how I got involved in Visiting Orphans, how God moved mountains in my adoption and more. If you want to check it out, you can listen to the interview online here:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Vacation and God blessings!

Mihretu and I hit the road early Saturday morning for a 12.5 hour drive to Venice, Florida. He's on spring break this week and our friend Deb recently moved to FL so I thought it was a good idea to come visit. At the last minute - like 3 days before - I found a sweet little efficiency rental on the beach with a pool too for super cheap and it was amazingly available the days we would be there. What a huge blessing this place has been. It's been so much fun - we are just taking each moment as it comes. It was kind of chilly the first few days but is absolutely perfect today. We spent the whole morning at the beach. Gorgeous!

We've met some nice people also staying in this complex and one is a single adoptive mom - how cool is God? Her daughter is 9 and Mihretu has been playing so well with her. Last night, M & I went to dinner at a little seafood place and the waiter saw my Africa necklace and asked really sweetly if that was where M was from. When I said yes, he said "Your meal is on me. My sister also adopted from Africa and it's great what you are doing." How sweet is that? He totally covered our meal. Another God blessing.

The biggest God blessing of all is in how this story played out. Yesterday Mihretu went out into the water at the beach with his new little friend and she had one of those little boogie boards. He was holding on to it and they were playing. About 15 minutes later as I stood on shore watching him while talking to the girls mom - he went under and I could tell in an instant it had suddenly gotten deeper than his little legs could touch. Talk about fast action - I took off in a sprint through that water like a scene out of Baywatch. It was like everything was in slow motion though - I could see him swimming and coming up for breath every few seconds as he was clearly upset and trying to figure out how to get out of this situation. The little girl stood nearby but had no idea he was in distress. His swimming lessons paid off during those moments when mom was racing as fast as I could to him as he was swimming and able to get breaths. Right as I reached him, he also reached the boogie board - he had located it and swam to it. I scooped him up in my arms and his little heart was just a racing and he was so scared. I was too but kept calm for him and told him how great he did with his swimming and how proud I was that he swam to the board all on his own. He wasn't even very far out - he could touch and then all of a sudden, he couldn't. I laid awake last night thinking about how differently that could have played out had he never taken swim lessons or if I had not been watching, even just for a minute. Just a lesson to never take your eyes off your kid when they are in the water. And honestly, in hindsight, I shouldn't have even let him go out there without me. He's still so little and he doesn't have much experience with the ocean. We both learned a lot in that experience. My brave little guy is not totally freaked out by the water now but certainly a lot more cautious than he was previously. He kept saying "I went under mommy. I don't like that! I don't want to go under again." I told him from now on mommy will go swimming with you. What a scary experience. Thanking God for protection. It's so scary how fast life flashes before you when something like that happens.

M is taking a nap right now after about 4 hours of nonstop playing at the beach this morning. I'm sitting outside our door on the little landing while he sleeps. It's amazing how when you don't have any place to be or any commitments or responsibilities for a week - how magical the time with your child can be. He's like the best vacation buddy ever. He did AMAZING in the long car ride down here. No meltdowns, no issues. We stopped for gas and to go to the bathroom but that was it. We ate snacks and lunch in the car. He watched a bunch of movies and even took a 3 hour nap. The only meltdown thus far here was last night cause he was overtired from no nap yesterday. It was over in about 5 minutes and he was fast asleep about 2 minutes after hitting the pillow. He has been so well behaved and we've just been really enjoying ourselves. He's been just as excited as me about eating seafood and being at the beach. He keeps saying "we're gonna eat crab and lobster and go to the beach and have fun today mommy!" I love this vacation. My favorite one yet! I think we might have to do this every year. It isn't costing much money and yet it's just absolutely relaxing and enjoyable. And we get to spend some time with our friend Deb. She has come over and hung out with us a lot this week. Today she's not feeling well so she's resting at her house

while we have a beach day. After his nap, I think we will go back down to the beach for some more play time. Gotta soak it up while we can. We only have one more day here and then we head to Orlando to see my best friend from Michigan and her family who are staying there this week. How fun that we are both in FL the same week. Can't wait to see them.

Here's a few photos from our time here so far!
We went on a little boat ride at Myakka Park and saw lots of alligators!

Enjoying the beach where we are staying

At Sharky's seafood restaurant and pier

soaking up some snuggles from Auntie Deb

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Our new additions

Meet the newest members of our family - Elsa and Buddy! First we got Elsa who looks an awful lot like the dog we had prior. Then we said we'd foster her brother and couldn't give him back - especially after we saw how sweet he was with Mihretu. Mihretu picked his name and it's so perfect - Buddy! So we have not one but two puppies now. It's mass chaos over here but would could resist these sweet faces. I'm cleaning carpets multiple times a day when they pee in the house moments after coming in from outside but sometimes they ring the bell on the back door to go out and that's a huge victory and we praise them often. They haven't pooped in the house in awhile so that's a huge praise. They know how to sit now and Elsa knows "lay down" too. Buddy just looks confused at that one and starts jumping for the treat. We're working on "shake" which would work better if I worked with each puppy separately. They have lots of fun playing together and get quite rough with each other sometimes. Mihretu loves them both but he especially loves Buddy. Here's a few photos from our first few weeks together. We had a professional photo shoot yesterday and that was total chaos. We did a few shots with the puppies in our backyard and I pretty much had to pick them both up to get them to stay put - and that wasn't as easy as it sounds cause they aren't light - especially with one in each arm. I think we got a couple good shots. Then we left them home and went and took some shots elsewhere of Mihretu and I. That was chaos too cause Mihretu was so distracted by rocks and sticks and climbing and "ooh, we're on a train track - never done that before" and nervousness about a train possibly coming while we were on there. I'm sure our friend who is amazing at what she does got some good shots anyway but it wasn't the fun photo shoot I had pictured in my mind prior to the event. Ah, it's our new normal over here - a little bit wild but a whole lot of love! 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

2014 - good things happening

Mihretu is growing up before my very eyes. Almost every day he comes up with a new word or phrase or says something that just makes me laugh. His latest thing is that he likes to ask "what does that mean?" when I say a word he doesn't understand. He's speaking in sentences all the time now. Only a few months ago - he wasn't doing that. He's almost 5 years old and he's catching up to his age quickly for a little boy who only a year and a half ago didn't know any english and was living in an institution. He likes to say "that's how it works" and "that's what happened" and "that's what I'm looking for" and "that's when I'm little - now I'm getting bigger". He absolutely loves watching the little video I made him with video footage and photos from when I first met him in 2011 at 2 years old and again when I went back a year later and then when I went to bring him home. It's edited to 2 songs so it's not super long but he LOVES it. He watches it over and over and over. He's super funny and loves to dance and be goofy. And he's so smart. I'm such a proud momma.

I posted this on facebook today but wanted to share it here too cause it just made my day:
Hot water pipes frozen this morning - I started praying out loud that it would not burst the pipes. Mihretu asked what I was doing and I said "praying". Without missing a beat, he put his little hands together and started praying too. "God please help water...." he paused and looked at me for the word so I said "that the pipes won't burst". He repeated me by saying it and then said "amen". Afterwards he asked what burst meant. Love that kid!

Motherhood has been a hard transition for me personally but it's not because of him - it's because of me. It's amazing how all your childhood junk gets stirred up when you become a parent. I spent the first year beating myself up at my reactions to things that in my rational mind I knew were totally ridiculous. Triggers, they call em. Buttons that when pushed take you back to familiar feelings or reactions you had years ago. Like 20 or more years ago in this case. I've tried to be as real as possible in my blog for hopes that it could help someone else who may relate to some of my struggles. A few weeks ago I started counseling. I decided to go with a place in town called Rock House Center because of their biblical and prayerful approach to it. I have been to a lot of different types of counseling in my life and the last series of counseling sessions I went to a few years back were prayer focused and spirit led and that was hands down the most healing I've ever experienced so I wanted something similar this time. So thrilled with the first 3 appointments. It's hard when you start unpacking all your baggage from your childhood to someone new who doesn't know your history. When you spew it all out at once, it sounds like an awful lot. My goodness. But it's also so freeing to just get it out and try to honestly explain to someone how you feel and what current present day emotions remind you of situations from childhood. We've already covered so much ground. And I'm already seeing differences in my responses to things, more awareness of when I begin to feel overwhelmed or anxious or those buttons get pushed and paying attention to how I'm feeling in those moments. So thankful for all that God is showing me and teaching me. And for the grace He's giving me for myself. That was the biggest reason why year #1 was the hardest - I was being so incredibly hard on myself. And it set me on a path of feeling totally down and while I didn't even fully realize it at the time - I can look back now and honestly say I was depressed. I just felt so defeated and so disappointed in my reactions and feelings. All of which completely took me by surprise. What I'm learning this week is that change is a process and that's ok. It doesn't necessarily happen overnight.

On another health related note, I began a new journey with my physical health a few weeks ago too. I'd been seeing some friends post about Isagenix on their facebook pages for awhile and I was very much in need of doing something to feel better and lose some of this excess weight I'd been carrying around for like 4 years. I was just feeling sore all the time - my back was hurting like everyday and my left heal had started hurting - thought I had a heal spur honestly. I didn't have any energy or motivation and really just wanted to feel better because I truly believe that played a part in my moods and feeling down. I'm on day 22 and I am so thankful. I feel great! My back and even my foot are not hurting any more which is a huge praise. I've already lost 9 and a half pounds. I can totally tell a difference already and it's been super easy to follow. 2 really yummy shakes each day and then a real dinner (healthy, of course) and a cleanse day (or 2) each week. I discovered pretty quickly that I have a gluten sensitivity cause after not having it for awhile and then having it - I instantly felt awful. So tired I felt drugged within like 20 minutes of eating it. Very interesting. I think I just had a lot of inflammation all the time before and that was why I was hurting all the time. Anyway, I won't go on and on about this but I'm just sharing to say that I'm excited about this year and all that I feel like God is going to do as I focus on health - physical, spiritual and emotional. I'm excited to be not only losing some unwanted pounds but also to letting God heal and transform me into a better mom who isn't so anxious and overwhelmed so much of the time.

In the meantime, Mihretu is loving the shakes too and since I'm no longer doing coffee which he so very much loved to help me make in the morning - he is excited that he gets to help me scoop out the shake mix and dump that and the water into the blender each morning. He LOVES to help. He would rather help with that kind of thing or transferring laundry from the washer to the dryer or unload the dishwasher or take out the trash over playing with toys any day. That's why Montessori is so perfect for him. It just fits who God made him to be. He's my independent little guy who loves to help. In his class at school it's mixed ages and this year he's one of the big kids and he thrives on helping so he has really been a huge helper with the younger kids at school. Especially those first few weeks when the little ones were adjusting. It made me so proud of him when his teachers would tell me how he helped with the young friends and showed them around, made them feel at ease and taught them things. I tell ya what - God has big plans for this little guy. He's a future leader for sure. I just love watching him blossom! I'm so blessed to get to be his mommy. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Show Hope Sponsor Update featuring us - what an honor!

I've been dying to show this for about a year now. I'm so excited that Show Hope just released this so I can share it! I'm so thankful to Show Hope for helping me bring Mihretu home through a grant. And I'm so honored that they would ask us to be one of their feature families for the updates they send out to sponsors. Thank you to all of you out there who give to Show Hope so families can bring home their precious children.

Here's the link to watch it!  in case it doesn't play below.

LOVE our Ethiopian family

We just returned from Ethiopia and oh boy - my heart is completely wrecked. Mihretu and I traveled on our own last March (2018) over his ...