Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How Can This Be?????

Max is six years old! Six?!?! That takes two hands to show and is, to me, a big change from little boy to big boy.

Here are six things I love about my precious son...

1. You love life. You are a silly, willy, nilly little boy who loves to laugh and have fun.

2. You have a gentle heart. You cannot walk past Sam without giving him a hug (even when he doesn't really want one). Your nature is to bring comfort when you see a need.

3. You are quick to forgive. You never carry a grudge long, even when you were wronged and you know it. You would rather accept the apology and make the other sibling feel better after they had to apologize to you.

4. You adore your Daddy. Although there are a few jealous strings to this one I can truly say it warms my heart to know how much you look up to your Daddy. This relationship your Daddy has with you is going to be the foundation of how much you understand how much your heavenly Father adores you.

5. You are a little engineer. You can figure out some of the most difficult puzzles. You are always trying to figure out how something works and you love explaining it to us.

6. You have an amazing smile. Your happiness and smile are contagious. Your joy is so authentic that it rubs off on others. I love you and am so blessed that God allowed me to be your mommy!!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I Saw What I Saw and I Can't Forget It...

The title is pulled from the lyrics of one of my most favorite songs. It is by Sara Groves.

I have wanted to put into words what I saw with my eyes and my heart while we were on our mission trip to Ethiopia a few weeks ago, but I hesitate because I know words could not even scratch the surface.

Going on a mission trip to a third world country where there is so much need presents a great temptation to view yourself as a savior of sorts. Our team met several times before we left and we were reminded that God calls us to be irrelevant. In the book "In the Name of Jesus" Henri Nouwen writes...

I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self. That is the way Jesus came to reveal God's love. The great message that we have to carry, as ministers of God's Word and followers of Jesus, is that God loves us not because of what we do or accomplish, but because God has created and redeemed us in love and has chosen us to proclaim that love as the true source of all human life.

So I went allowing myself to be vulnerable, resisting the urge to "do" anything for God and expecting Him instead to work in and through me at His will. Can I say that being vulnerable doesn't come easy for me. My tendency is to accomplish, work hard, succeed and conquer, a tendency to be relevant. But, God is gracious, and He showed me the joy, the untethered worship and the peace that comes with a life of dependence on Him through the beautiful people of Ethiopia. People who trust Him for everything, knowing that He is the source of their joy and that He is their sustenance and that He is their savior.

I think a big revelation for me since coming home is that I have been seeking to find joy and peace and sustenance in my hard work and accomplishments! Oh, how much I miss when I believe that lie. When I wake up each morning and I carry the false burden of being "in charge" I think I barrel right past God's blessings for my day, not stopping to notice Him until I accomplish all that I think needs to be done. Why do I make myself so big and God so small, especially when I know better! While we were in Ethiopia, I saw hunger, sickness and extreme poverty but that was not what I saw in the hearts of the people. Their hearts were spilling over with love and joy and it showed most to me in the way that they interacted with each other. Instead of feeling like they each had their own tasks to accomplish, they live life caring for and encouraging each other.

To be honest, for me it isn't easy to keep the truth in clear sight in our busy. success-oriented American culture. I still have the tendency to accomplish, sometimes even calling it "for God". I am so thankful that God showed me so tangibly what it means to know that I am dependent on Him and pray that He continues to break my heart for the things that break His and that I would quit wasting time "accomplishing" things and instead fully trust in Him to show His love in mighty ways through my life.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Two and Terrific

Sam's second birthday snuck up on me. How is my baby already two years old?

Sam...I am so proud to be your mommy and grateful that God entrusted Daddy and I to raise you. It is never far from my mind that God has a big story to tell through your life. Your birthplace is rich with love and beauty and is a huge part of who God created you to be. I pray that you always feel a deep connection to Ethiopia and your birth family and that we can share in that connection with you. I know that God has a perfect purpose and a plan for everyone, but He has allowed me to truly see it being lived out in your life already and, as a result, in my life too. What a gift! Always lean in to that plan and be expectant for the great things He will do in and through you!!

I love you deeply!!

~ Mommy

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Just a Few of the Words That Currently Describe You...

Madison: compassionate, calm, happy, giving, helpful, selfless, smart, beautiful!

Abby: joyful, fun, giving, loving, affectionate, spirited, energetic, beautiful!

Max: silly, sweet, loving, funny, adorable, kind-hearted, energetic, handsome!

Sam: fun, boisterous, silly, endearing, happy, smart, persistent, handsome!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Love, Mommy...

A couple of weeks ago they held a meeting for upcoming Jr. High. I couldn't make it and I'm glad because I need to do everything I can to remain in denial until the big day. Actually, although I selfishly want to keep you under my wing forever, I am so proud of the amazing person you are! You truly are an example to me continuously of selflessness and kindness. It truly amazes me how you, by instinct, care for others above yourself! Just this morning we were sitting in the cold car and realized we hadn't remembered to bring Sam's jacket or blanket. Without a moment's hesitation you took off your jacket and laid it over him. And not because you thought you should, but because you really and truly wanted to.
I love you so much and I am thankful for each moment I am privileged to spend with you.!

Oh, my life-loving little girl. There is always a smile on your face, even if it is disguised by a frown. Deep down you are enjoying every moment, even when you are playing a part. Your love for others is filled with energy and intention. You are constantly giving cards or your toys to friends (even adults) as you can't have an interaction without giving a gift. It is your nature. You are filled with spirit that at times is hard to keep up with, but I know God intentionally gave you that spirit for His purposes! I so can't wait to see what wonderful things you do for His glory!
You are an on the go girl. You ask every day, often multiple times a day where we are going and what we are doing. Sitting still is not your thing! You are excelling in school, especially in your reading, handwriting and spelling. I love and admire your love for life.
I love you with all my heart and am grateful for the gift of YOU!

My little man full of giggles and silliness! Your dimple has a permanent home on your cheek because you are (almost) always smiling. You are filled with enthusiasm and innocence. I so enjoy being with you because your happiness is contagious. You freely give hugs and kisses. You love your family and are just happy to be with us. Being a train conductor some day consumes your thoughts. You are also amazing with your recall. Especially when we're driving around. Your understanding of where things are and how to get to different places is amazing, especially for this directionally challenged momma.
I love you and your giggles more than words can describe!

One year together! What a year of blessing it has been. Your sweet little voice and giant and gorgeous smile are my constant companions. You are so very inquisitive and smart! You study things constantly and your vocabulary and understanding amaze me. I still stand in awe of a God who chose to redeem your life for His purposes. You have grown our understanding of God's love ten-fold and His heart! I am so privileged to be your mommy!
I love you and your beautiful brown skin, envy-inducing curls and priceless hugs so very much!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

One Year Ago Today...

...I met my son Samuel Yacob Koceich for the first time. You can read my words about that moment and see pictures here.

A year ago my heart grew. A year ago my understanding of God's desperate love for me, His adopted child, grew. I will never be the same and I am oh so grateful!
When they put him in my arms the weight of the last 18 months of paperwork, uncertainty, fear, anticipation and longing were lifted. It was like I hadn't truly taken a breath for a year and half. Tears of relief and joy poured out, so much so that I scared my precious baby with my sobs (who, I'm sure, thought I was the craziest lady he'd been around).

I am so grateful for the fact that God called us to international adoption. It has been an indescribable gift to our family.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Why Ethiopia?

I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.
John 14:18

Monday, January 17, 2011

2010...A Year in Review

Well, it's already the middle of January and I wanted to get this posted sooner, but life happens...and that's a good thing.

2010 was an amazing year for our family! We adopted precious Sam, making us a family of six, and Matt's book was published. Our trip to pick up Sam in Ethiopia changed us. It's realigned our priorities and helped us to see that our time here on Earth is NOT about us! It's about allowing God's spirit to lead us in the plans He has for us. Plans to be a light to the world of His amazing love.

2010 was also an amazing year for Selah Studios Photography. I feel like God uses photographs as little love letters to us. Reminding us of all the things He's given us to bless our lives. Helping us to stop a moment in time and savor it's gift. Something we often forget to do in our face-paced American society.

I am so grateful for the precious families God has brought to Selah Studios Photography. I have been touched by each one of you and feel so privileged to have been a part of your precious memories!

Here is a glimpse of each session we had this year! Thank you and I'm looking forward to 2011 and all that God has planned!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Your Pain Has Changed Me...

A precious little girl that God has used to teach me so much about Him!

Your pain has changed me

Your dream inspires

Your face a memory

Your hope a fire

Your courage asks me

what I'm afraid of

And what I know of love

And what I know of God

(lyrics by Sara Groves)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Year's Eve...


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Christmas Day...

Christmas day, to be honest, was quite the blur. I hosted over 20 people Christmas Eve, Christmas morning and Christmas Night. I am glad I did and it went well, but it went by quickly too!

Christmas morning we walked the girls over to the boys room while covering their eyes so they wouldn't see what Santa had left (of course we've gotten oh so smart in our old age and covered the Santa gifts and stockings with a sheet...we've learned we have a couple cheaters in the family). Then Mom, Susie and Darel, Casey and Jimmy, Jaxon, Jayce, Joey and Xio came over (I think around 7:30). Once the mishap with the cinnamon rolls was fixed I let the kids eat a little breakfast. Of course being the practical mom that I am I couldn't have a bunch of overexcited kids eating sticky cinnamon rolls on the carpeted bedroom floor and leaving trails of sticky goodness all over everything, so where did we put them all? The bathroom of course. Ewww...I know, sounds unsanitary, but I promise it was cleaner than the boys room! After breakfast it was time for the kids to come out youngest to oldest and behold their Santa gifts. Once the Santa gifts are done it's kinda a free-for-all in our family. Everyone is up handing out and opening gifts, paper is flying, oooohs and aaaahs are being spoken and lots of hugs and "I love yous" are doled out. I guess with that many people that's the only way to do it, but I think next year we may try to open our family gifts before we do the big family gathering. I am a sucker for watching the excitement of my kids opening their gifts and enjoying the moment.

Then it was on to our traditional breakfast burritos. YUM!!! We definitely have that down to a science! You won't see any pictures of this and from here on out I was pretty much on the go so I didn't get many pictures. :( But, trust me that it was a wonderful time of delicious food and family...oh, and a little Wii Just Dance II.

Christmas Eve...

We got to attend our church's Family Friendly Christmas Eve service this year. A couple of our CG kids were in it and it was so adorable! Besides almost losing an angel off of the bleachers and Mary not wanting to touch baby Jesus, it went off without a hitch. We "lit" glow sticks instead of candles...too fun!!

Cookie Decorating...

More fun with the Koehlers. Each year we also invite our sweet friends to come and decorate cookies. We've almost gotten it down to a science, but it's still a work in progress. This year we were rushed for time because we got the opportunity to deliver some presents to a Christmas Wish Family. It was so worth rushing through the cookies to see the looks on the faces of the sweet family who was a part of KLTY's Christmas Wish! So many people had stepped up to help turn a terrible situation into a blessing!! So love how God does that!

Madison's masterpieces

Prairie Lights...

For the last couple of years we have enjoyed driving through the "Prairie Lights" in Grand Prairie. They are light displays along the road at a campsite that you drive through. The last couple of years we have made it a tradition with our close friends, the Koehlers. At the end of the lights is a mini carnival with a carousel on speed. It is seriously so fast and a spinning ride called "Dizzy Dragons". Amber took Sam on the carousel and he LOVED it! Every time he came around he had this giant smile on his face. I was worried it was going to scare him, but no way...he is going to be my little dare devil! No pictures because they all came out blurry...I told you it was fast!
Amber was the only one brave, or crazy, enough to ride the Dizzy Dragons ride. It's kinda like the tea cups at Disney Land to which I would also never grace my presence.

Ethiopian Family...

We are so very blessed to have a few close friends in the area who are also Ethiopian/American families. What a wonderful Christmas celebration with our fellow America World Families. Two of the girls I have grown very close with and two more are brand new friends and I am so happy to get to add them as friends and fellow adoptive mommies! When I look at this picture I see God's beauty in the children He so dearly LOVES!!!

Snowman Donuts...

This was one of the cutest little Christmas creations we made this year. They are so easy and make breakfast so much more fun!

A Visit From Santa...

We are lucky enough to have get a personal visit from Santa Claus every year at Paw Paw's Christmas party! The kids expect it now and wait excitedly for the doorbell to ring. I LOVED Max's response this year. He was so happy to see Santa and couldn't stop smiling or get close enough to him! Sam, on the other hand, was fine with Santa, as long as he was at least five feet away! Mean ole mommy made him sit in Santa's lap and even made him stay there for a picture...I think I heard her laughing too!