Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Turning 2

My baby is two years old today!  Moms always tell me time with kids flies by.  I believe them, and it seems to be so much more true as adoptive parents.  Even though we met Zane when he was 16 months old, we feel like we've been his parents forever.  In some ways it's like he's always been here, but in other ways, like today, it feels like I've only had him for a few short weeks.  I'm not ready for him to be two already.  It still seems like we just came home with him.

Monday night we had our three month post placement home study, and our social worker confirmed that Zane is every bit a two year old.  We're so glad to see that he is developmentally on track with his peers.  However, turning two is just like turning 16; I'm sure of it.  Between the word, "NO!" and running away from Mommy and Daddy like it's a game, Zane is really a sweetheart.  Like all two year olds, he has a "split personality":  demanding and whiny or hilarious and cuddly.  We love both because it's all a part of who he's becoming as an individual.

When we first met Zane, he was a reluctant, quiet child who preferred the background.  It took a lot to make him laugh.  We couldn't even tickle him to make him laugh.  On occasion though, he would smile through the window at the transition home when his friends yelled his name.  He'd light up when the nannies chanted, "Addisu-Addisu-Addisu-Addisu!" clapping their hands in rhythm.  But for the most part, he was a stoic observer of the world around him, always investigating the leaves, grass, and outdoor life he had only watched through the large pane of glass that separated the toddler room from the great outdoors.

Today, I know a different child.  Zane is eager to laugh, always joining in anyone's laughter as if he knows exactly what the joke was.  He's affectionate with family and close friends, and he loves to "pay??"  (That's "PLAY").

In the Veggie Tales episode "God Made Me Special", Larry jokes, "Nothing says, 'You're special!' like lots of colorful balloons!"  So Mark and I took that word of advice and planned a balloon surprise for Zane.  This morning he woke up to "baboons" (that's a hybrid word for "balloons" and "bubbles") floating into his room!
I'm sure he knew he was special when he saw them.  


When I was thinking about what to do on his birthday, I asked myself, "What would you like to do on your 2nd birthday?"  The answer?  "Eat CAKE for breakfast, of course!"  So that's what we did next.  (I have to insert here that I put the cake on his plate to let him dive in for one of those cake in the face type pics...HOWEVER, this precious boy would rather use a fork.  Hallelujah!  God knows our needs.  My OCD husband and I have secretly stressed out about the messy cake photos.  Please don't take offense if you have one...but they gross me out.)  

I've never seen Zane more happy than he is now.  Not just today, but everyday.  He is full of happiness, love, and anticipation.  And Mark and I?  We are elated.  We've never felt so fortunate, so honored.   God gave us an amazing treasure in Zane.  

Many people  look at adopted children and note an extreme amount of growth when they finally settle into their forever family.  Some may say that it's the result of having parents.  Some may conclude they are getting better nutrition and care.  I know better.  Nothing that Mark and I have done has produced the amazing results we've seen in our little boy.  There's no way!  If anything, we'll screw the poor child up.  What we've witnessed in Zane God's miracle of adoption.  Only He has transformed our little boy.  God, his Father, has made all things new.  He's given Zane a new joy, new meaning, new outlook...He's picked him up out of the pit and set him firmly upon a rock.  He's given him a new name.  Addisu, "the new one", has a new heart with which to love and be loved.  He's being restored everyday.  Only God's grace can do this, which is why we always knew that his American name would be Zane, "God is gracious."  We thank God that he still lavishes his grace upon us and calls us his children.  I know Zane knows this love first hand, and everything in his being radiates with it.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

First Holiday Season with Zane

Discovering Snow!!!!! thought I meant real snow.  We're in Houston people.  Come on.

The Holidays have come and gone like a thief, and I'm left wondering where in the world time has gone.  Today is already New Year's Day, and I still feel like my baby boy came home a few short weeks ago.  The passing of time makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry like a baby.  I don't ever want things to change, yet they do anyway in a big way.  It was 6 months ago that Mark and I were feverishly packing (and re-packing) our bags for our trip to meet our first born son, Zane Addisu.  We had a family shower to attend in the San Antonio area and planned to celebrate the 4th of July with Aunt Laura and Uncle Ben before heading to Africa July 7th.  Today, I'm floored that the calendar says, not July, but January.  And it's no longer 2011, the year Zane became a  forever member of our family, but 2012, a whole new year, a whole new chapter, with nothing written in it.

The summer and fall of 2011 were unforgettable to me.  I can hardly believe sometimes that we are holding the boy we prayed for and waited for so long.  In Ethiopia I learned that God is everything to me, and there is nothing I desire more than His presence.  I learned to trust him for everything; my peace, my ability to care for a child I barely knew, and my fulfillment, as I spent so much time alone with Him.  I made invaluable friends who I miss so much.  The ladies at Yebsabi Guest House who held me as I held my child are forever etched on my heart.  My throat knots up everytime I think about the morning I threw head on my dear friend's shoulder and cried overwhelmed and exhausted, and how she held me there and told me not to cry.  How another cleaned up vomit with me, not once, but twice in the middle of the night.  How they cared for my son as if he were their's, and sought to bring happiness into our lives.  

I'm thankful for David, our driver, and more importantly our friend.  His love for coffee paralleled mine, and we never passed up an opportunity to share a macchiato together.  He brought us joy as he played Ethiopian music in the car and drove way too fast over pot holes, honking all the way to warn area drivers that we were on a mission.  

I think of Job, his pregnant wife, and the baby that he will soon hold in his arms, and I desire to be there with them to celebrate the birth of his first born.  Job's kindness reflected the peace in his heart.  His laugh made you want to join him, despite not knowing what in the world he was laughing about.  The slow, deep tone of his voice as he spoke of his country let you know of his loyal affections and longing to experience the great potential of Ethiopia.  Job made patience, love, and peace look like decadent chocolate cake, sweet and worth any sacrifice.  He made you want to be more like Jesus.

I remember Yonas's passion for history and for understanding his country's past.  He desires to give Ethiopia a brighter future, and he does this everyday by caring for it's children.  Yonas cared for Addisu as an uncle would while we were apart.  Yonas dreams big dreams and I know he will see them come to reality.  He's motivated, inspiring, knowledgeable, and reminds you why you love Ethiopia.  His stories of Ethiopian history inspire respect, gratitude, and a bright future.

I am so happy I made these dear friends this year.  I am even more happy that I have the most loving, inquisitive, and bright Ethiopian boy sleeping in the room next to me every night.  Zane Addisu has changed my life.  He's a constant reminder of God's grace and redemption for mankind.  He teaches us God's heart everyday through His forgiveness, love for us, and desire to spend time with us.  In parenting him, I understand more how much God desires for us to come to him as we are and open our hearts to him.  

Santa's Wonderland
This holiday season, I watched Zane run in pure joy with cousins who think he's the greatest, hug grandparents who are totally in love with him, laugh at aunts and uncles who adore him, play in fallen leaves at our new house, and cuddle with mommy and daddy in new Christmas pajamas.  The scent of baby lotion, vanilla, cinnamon, and sticks from outside fill our senses this winter, and it fills me with so much joy I could cry.  Part of me wants to make time stop so I can really drink in the life around me, but at the same time, I can't wait to see what's next.  Our lives are so full of happiness, I can't get enough.

Dewberry Farms

Back in NOLA for a Christmas banquet at FBNO

Candy Cane Lane Puppet Show at HFBC
On our way to Zane's first Midnight Yell!
After Zane's first Midnight Yell and a New Year's Eve bowl game win, we appropriately began this New Year with worship to our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, at our new church home, Houston's First Baptist Church.  As we sang, "Our God is jealous for His own..." and "None could comprehend His love and His mercy..." and "A mighty fortress is our God..."  I was so overwhelmed by the beauty that I am His child.  I'm so thankful that even when I did not seek Him, He was pursuing me because He wants me so badly to find fulfillment in Him.  I sort of get that now that I am a parent of a beautiful boy.  I'm so jealous for Him to know how much he is loved by God and by His parents.  I want no one else to have His affections but God who is worthy of His heart.  I long for him to comprehend the love and mercy of the Father and know that he was rescued and redeemed.  I pray that He realizes that our God is a mighty fortress and a refuge; that He was there all along, and He will be there forevermore to come through for him.  
When he woke up, his first word (after "HI!") was "Aggies?"  Love it.

Dewberry Farms Christmas Tree Farm
In 2012, I want my life to be more about Christ.  I want my family to be about Christ, and I want to really do what He says.  Right now, Mark and I are reading Kisses From Katie about a young girl living and working among the poor in Uganda.  She has adopted 14 girls who were desperate for someone to care for them.  She's living in remote circumstances with little material wealth.  But she's living the good life...the life that is true living, and living fully.  

This Christmas I am reminded again that life is found in Christ alone.  That our comfort, wealth, and appetites only lead to earthly contentment, and fulfilling life is found in participating in God's work around the world.  This is why I'm so thankful for the time I spent in Ethiopia, and why I can't shake the effect it's had on my life. It's when we are most desperate for God that we truly experience His peace, His presence, His joy.  Enough of the counterfeit stuff of this world...give me the good stuff.  I want Jesus in 2012 and forever.

Zane's first encounter with a REAL horse at Grandmom and G-Daddy's