Archive for February, 2008

EndofFebruary2008 033

Click on the picture and it will take you to the other pictures on Flickr.  Then click on the icon to the right that has the video camera and a slide show will come up.  Click on the icon in the middle of the picture and you will see what I wrote about each picture.

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As many of you who have been reading my blog over the last few months know  it has been obvious I am sure how much I have struggled.  As I have walked through this desert time, this “mourning time” I have begun to see what, maybe, Christ had in mind for me. 

Shortly after returning home, in December, I was taking a little mommy break at Barnes and Noble. Perusing the Christian book section…… I came across this book by Henri Nouwen.  Ordinarily I would not have been familiar with him, but my dad had mentioned him quite a few times on his blog and had forwarded me some daily devotions from Nouwen’s website as well.  Anyway, Sunday morning, the boys were playing quietly downstairs, Brandon was trying to catch up on some sleep and I sat down and finally picked up, Turn My Mourning into Dancing (TMMID) and was blessed immeasurably just by the first chapter.  So much so that it has been ruminating in my brain for the last two days.  I even interupted Extreme Home Makeover last night to read everything I underlined to Brandon. 

I feel like I have experienced quite a bit of grief over my 33 years and through many of the experiences, I often felt isolated and alone….separated from people, as well as, God.  I tried as hard as I could to either change my circumstances, forget my pain, or stumble painfully along hoping that at some point it would go away and I would be able to move on.  I have spent many months at a time wishing away my uncomfortable circumstances, shaking my fist at God and or begging HIM to change my life. 

Even though I was raised in the church, I was not ever really taught how to deal with loss or hurt in a Biblical way.  In fact, if I am being totally honest… I think the church set me up for failure.  I think what I really learned from the church is that if you are a “good” christian you will not let your grief/loss/struggles get you down.  You will praise the Lord and move on.  You should ignore your pain because if you spend to much time in it you are sining.  I have heard every platitude possible, all well meaning I am sure, but useless none the less.  I think that the church places such an emphasis on being happy and that any sadness is not part of the Christian life.

Along the same lines… the world tells you that if life ain’t right get a new one.  If you’re not in love any more, move on.  If you don’t like your friends trade them in.  If you don’t like the body you have been given work harder.  If you aren’t happy, dig deep into your “inner” self and find your che(pretty sure I didn’t spell that right..oops).

Henri Nouwen points to another “way.” A way that resonates with me, oh how it resonates.  As I read the first chapter my tired heart (if we are honest aren’t most of us tired at heart?  After all this world is a hard place and offers up such challenges) was lifted up.  Don’t get me wrong I was deeply challenged, but also acutely blessed.  “Who is it that Jesus says will be blessed?” Nouwen asks, “Those who mourn (Mat. 5:4).”  Doesn’t just that very statement give you hope and peace? 

Here are a couple of quotes from the intro that touched me………. “By greeting life’s pains with something other than denial we may find something unexpected.  By inviting God into our difficulties we ground life-even its sad moments- in joy and hope. “

“Many of us are tempted to think that if we suffer, the only important thing is to be relieved of our pain.  We want to flee it at all costs.  But when we learn to move through suffering, rather than avoid it, then we greet it differently.  We become willing to let it teach us.”

Nouwen says that learning the above will not be easy and he suggests 5 “movements” through hard times.  These movements make up the 5 chapters of the book.

#1- Chpt. 1-  From Our Little Selves to a Larger World-  I am just going to pull out some quotes that I found impacting and then comment when I feel compelled.

“How do we,” Nouwen asks, “make this shift from evading our pain to asking GOd to redeem  and make good use of it.”  Good question…. the key word for me was “asking”  … it is my choice to let HIM redeem. 

“We are called to grieve our losses.”  Amen!  Often I feel like I am the only one doing this and often I feel ashamed and like I am not “loving” or “trusting” God enough and that I am being a big baby.

 “Our efforts to disconnect ourselves from our own suffering end up disconnecting our suffering from God’s suffering for us.  The way out of our loss and hurt is in and through.”  I had never before made the connection that grieving my own losses helps me identify or connect with the loss that God suffered in sending HIS Son for me. See also…2Corinthians 4:7-10

“Facing our losses also means avoiding a temptation to see life as an exercise in having needs met.”  “We also like easy victories: growth without crisis, healing without pains, the resurrection without the coss.”  – This is me in so many ways.  How many times have I gone to God and said, “Lord, remove this suffering from me.”  Not that we can’t ask Him but letting that be the only thing I do is wrong.

“The way from Palm Sunday to Easter is the patient way, the suffering way.  Indeed, our word patience comes from the ancient root patior, “to suffer.”  To learn patience is not to rebel against every hardship.  For if we insist on continueing to cover our pains with easy “Hosannas,” we run the risk of losing our patience.  We are likely to bcome bitter and cynical or violent and aggressive when the shallowness of the easy way wears through.” Again, WOW!-  All you in the middle of adoptions and feeling the pull towards impatience… this is for you and me…..

“Instead, Christ invites us to remain in touch with the many sufferings of every day and to taste the beginning of hope and new life right there, where we live amid our hurts and pains and brokeness.”

“I am less likely to deny my suffering when I learn how God uses it to mold me and draw me closer to him.  I will be less likely to see my pains as interruptions to my plans and more to see them as a means for GOd to make me ready to receive Him.  I let God live near my pains and distractions”  I want this don’t you?

“The small and even overpowering pains of our lives are intimately connected with the greater pains of Christ.  Our daily sorrows are anchored in a greater sorrow and therefore a larger hope.”

“Our choice, then, often relvoves around not what has happened or will happen to us, but how we will relate to life’s turns and circumstances. ”

“A key to understanding suffering has to do with our not rebelling at the inconveniences and pains life presents to us.”  I am so guilty of seeing all suffering as an inconvenience to me and more often then not mad about them.

Ok…. I promise only two more quotes…. I actually have to stop myself…. and by the way I haven’t even quoted all the things I underlined.

“But then we let our hurt remind us of our need for healing.  As we dance and walk forward, grace provides the ground on which our steps fall.  Prayer puts us in touch with the God of the dance.  We look beyond our experience of sadness or loss by learning to receive an all-embracing love, a love that meets us in everyday moments.”    

“Our glory is hidden in our pain, if we allow God to bring the gift of himself in our experience of it.  If we turn to GOd, not rebelling against our hurt, we let GOd transform it into greater good.  We let others join us and discover it with us.”

I have always seen suffering and loss as something to be avoided.  Most often I have responded with anger, avoidance, pity parties, and the like.  What I am hearing through this book is, that while it is ok and even good and right to grieve, we must also make the choice to see our pain as a means for GOd to work in us.  Doing this connects us more to Him and in turn to the larger suffering world around us. 

I am not a scholar nor do I have any real amazing insights, I just wanted to share with you these amazing, freeing thoughts.  Please let me know what you think.

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Eyob, Traci

No, I’m not falling in love with another man (love me some Brandon), but actually with a little boy named Eyob.

 I had a moment today that I wanted to share.  We got a call from the drs. today and I wasn’t home (we were all taking a walk in the beautiful Utah sunshine) and so the nurse left a message.  First of all, no giardia so while that is actually good news, she also asked me when I was planning on bringing in Eyob for to redo his HIV/Hep B screening and then she asked me to call her.  Anyway, for some reason, even though we had planned to redo the screening on the advice of the infectious disease dr. we saw regarding the giardia,  I heard the nurse connecting the two.  Being lunch time at the drs. office I couldn’t call back for clarification. So I just went up stairs with a very tired little Eyob to put him down for a nap.  As I was holding him close and feeding him his bottle it hit me…..  I love this little boy and if something were to be “really” wrong with him I would be soooo sad.  It was such a great moment to realize that he has gone from “someone elses” child to my child in my heart.  For the last few weeks, as I have begun to change the way I talk about him and the way I relate to him, I have felt subtle changes in my heart, so today was just that moment of awakening for me.  I think that I have been holding him at a distance, afraid to be rejected by him over and over and it is such a relief to not be worried about that any more.  I am not worried about that with Sloan and Sean and I am no longer worried about that with Eyob.  He is just one of my boys.  Praise the Lord!  I know that there will continue to be hard times with him and that I will have to continually give my attitude to the Lord.  This is just a testament to how changing your actions first can change your heart.

PS…. I did call the doctor back and they were not linking the tests with Eyob’s current poop problem, they just wanted to make sure the order was there when I brought him in.  Actually, Eyob still has the giardia antigens and so we are working on getting to the bottom of that, but the rest of the fam is free and clear.  I feel confident and so does my pediatrician that the HIV/Hep B tests done in Ethiopia before we brought Eyob home are correct and reliable, but it is always a good idea to have a local lab redo them.  So… don’t worry for us in that area.

On another note… I wanted to make a disclaimer…….  Brandon was concerned when he read my last post that people would think that I am endorsing the book A New Earth and I wanted to make it clear that I am not.  I have not read it yet and infact, I am reading it with a heart open to hear from the Lord.  I actually, went to Brandon before I bought the book to ask him if he thought it was ok for me to read.  I have always been hesitant to read things that I am afraid might be in conflict with my faith in God.  I think part of that is my need to be the “good” christian girl and follow a certian set of rules. However, while I don’t want to compromise my faith, I do feel like I have a discerning heart and that God will show me what is right.  I am mostly interested in reading this book because it is causing a stir in the “world” and I know that many of my fellow MOPS moms and other friends will be reading it and I want to be ready to answer questions or point people to the truth.  I already have a page full of questions in my journal that I will be asking myself and God while I read it.  So that being said….. I am NOT at this point encouraging anyone to read this book, but will discuss it on my blog after I have begun reading.  How was that for a disclaimer?

Also, watch, tomorrow, for my first chapter synopsis of Henri Nouwen’s book, Turn My Mourning into Dancing.  This is definetly a book I feel confident recommending….. especially if you are struggling with some loss or grief in your life right now, no matter how small.  I started writing the post last night, but I need to shorten it down a little.  I may be a little long for some of you readers.

Anyway….. I am encouraged today, by answered prayers and I hope that all of you who have been praying for me will be encouraged as well.

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So this has been a pretty uneventful week…..  I did some major house cleaning. All the way down to cleaning the trim and it felt really good to just dig into it.  THe boys have steadily been feeling better which has been nice.  Eyob is doing better physically everyday and has been sleeping through the night for the last week.  It is awesome, however, it seems like when one sleeps the others wake up.  AHHH!!!  We are still waiting on test results to find out what is going on with all the poop.  Hopefully, we will know something soon! 

For Christmas, Brandon gave me a gift cert. for a mani/pedi combo at a local spa so yesterday I cashed it in and spent two very relaxing hours getting pampered. It was so nice.  He also gave me some  cash and I got to do a little shopping which was also fun. SHopping alone for myself…. AHHHHH..  My hubby is great isn’t he.

When I first started blogging almost a year ago I seemed to think in terms of blogging.  I was always thinking.. this would make a good blog post or I could write about that.  Well, since bringing Eyob home I haven’t really felt like that, I am sure for good reason, but I have missed that feeling… that swirling around in my brain.  Blogging for me is more than a way of keeping in touch with family and friends, it has been a way to process thoughts, use my brain, to practice writing, and an outlet for my heart.  Anyway, I have been thinking about a bunch of different posts that I am going to write over the next couple of weeks so I thought I would give you a quick synopsis of what is coming up on Further Up and Deeper In.

Book Reviews-  Henri Nouwen’s Turn My Mourning Into Dancing (get this book!!!!)  I can’t wait to talk about this book!  More on Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World–  I have learned so much that I am looking forward to passing on. Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth–  Oprah’s Book club choice for the month and the subject of an online class she will be teaching over the next few weeks.  THis book is the fastest selling book in the world right now.  WHy????  One question I have about the book (many more that I will write about in it’s own post) but….. is this book so “close” to the TRUTH that it is causing or going to cause people to miss Christ?  The Shack by William P Young…… This novel/allegory is making it’s way around the US and changing lives… I want to see what the hype is all about. Maybe you will too.

****   I was thinking about all that I have learned about Eyob in the last 3 months and then remembered the old book or  poem… Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten…. and I thought I might have fun doing a serious of posts on what I know about….????

I am going to be getting back to Wordless Wednesday.  More pics…

I have never been “Tagged” so I thought I would do my own and tag a few of my blogging buddies… so look out friends.

Reflections on Adoption…

and more…. so keep checking back….

 Also, a blogging friend who reached out to me during those first dark weeks when we got home from Ethiopia with Eyob, just returned from getting her little man.  I thought you might be interested in reading about some of her experiences.  I was telling her in an email that her posts take me right back to ET and Hannah’s Hope.  I can still taste, smell, and feel it in my heart.  Reading her words and about her experiences make my long for ET deeply.  Read her posts and enjoy.

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Thought I would update you on the poop problem at our house.  People keep asking so……. if you don’t care don’t read.  READ AT YOUR OWN RISK… Some might find that there is too  much information.

As most of you know, Eyob came home with giardia…. which I must say we were/are sooooo happy about.  I don’t think I have smelled anything so offensive as the “stuff” that has been coming out of my kiddos.  Anyway, we treated Eyob, but he continued to have symptoms and then Seany started.  Turns out giardia is very contagious, especially if you bathe your kids together, which we do.  (Thanks for telling me this Dr. P).  So on the second round, we treated Eyob and Sean with no change.  Our pediatrician then referred us to the University of Utah’s pediatric infectious disease dr.  So about a week ago I woke the boys up early from their naps (not a good idea, but I had no choice) drove the 45 minutes up to the U.  I didn’t know where I was going and I thought I gave myself plenty of time…. but I didn’t account for a blow out from one of the children.  I got out of the car in a very busy parking garage, told Sloan to stand right next to the car, strapped Eyob into the Ergo (best invention for hauling little children) and then got Sean out and told him to hold my hand …. Don’t worry all this detail has a purpose.  I noticed that Seany was walking funny and saying ouch!ouch!  and when I bent down to check him I realized why.  He had had a complete blow out and I hadn’t brought any other clothes.  What kind-of mom am I. I prepared dinner to be eaten in the car on the way home, I brought cups, and diapers all the essentials, but for a mom who has been knee deep in poop for months now,  I should have been prepared.  Keep in mind I am in a busy parking garage, minutes away from our appointment time, with one kid strapped on my front and another who has to pee.  Did I forget to mention that?  Sloan had been telling me for the last 10 minutes that he had to go.  So… I am beginning to sweat and trying to not lose my mind.  I help Sloan pee in the parking garage… I know not sanitary, but we were DESPERATE!  I put poopy Sean in our stroller hoping that he wouldn’t get anything on it, ignored the smell, grabbed a blanket and took off for the drs. 

When we got in… I had to check in at the counter with a smelly child.  The front office gal directed me to a very tiny bathroom where, I had to change Sloan out of a wet pull up, Seany out of disgusting clothes… into his diaper and one of the two shirts he had on.  I couldn’t do it with Eyob on my front so I put him in the stroller and changed the boys.  I felt like such a loser mother, as I rolled out of the bathroom with my child in only a diaper and t-shirt.  I was sweating and trying to hold it together.  Luckily the rest of the appointment went well.  Sloan and Sean sat quietly and ate snacks while I had to undress and hold Eyob while they checked him out.

Turns out that there are two parts to giardia, the ovum and the parasite and the meds that the boys were taking only treat the parasite.  SO the Dr. thinks they probably still have the ovum and Sloan probably has it, as well as, maybe B and I.  It is possible to have it without symptoms. He gave 9 vials and said I needed to collect 3 samples of poo per kid to make sure what we are really dealing with.  (I am pretty sure I know… LOTS OF POOP is what I am dealing with)  Needless to say, I was overjoyed.  Who wouldn’t be happy to dig around in their kids poo?  Did I mention that it is particularly foul? 

So after collecting the 9 vials I took it up to the local lab at our pediatricians office, who promptly told me that I was given the wrong vials and he doesn’t have enough of the right vials for me to take.  I was so upset.  Not only had I collected poo for nothing, the new vials come in a two pack so instead of 3 for each kid I need 6!!!!!!!  Well….. this is our current status…… I have now collected 6 samples for Sean and Eyob.  Just one more kiddo to go.  I won’t mention the fact that we have to collect for the adults in the home as well. (oops I guess I just did… no details coming).

SO there is my horrible giardia story. Hopefully, we can get us all on meds, rid our home of the plague, sanitize everything, and get back to the one or two poops a day way of life.  Hope I haven’t given you too many details, but I figured if you asked you should get the full story.     I guess these are 5 minutes of your life you will never get back, huh?

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Sloan, Sean, Eyob

Click on the pic to see more.
Here is a collection of pics taken this month. 

First, are my little cowboys.  We have a long sort-of space that runs from one end of the house to the other and the boys love, and I mean LOVE to run back and forth.  Often they just “race” or they have some kind-of game that they are playing.  Today was cowboy and as usual Sloan had all the good stuff.  He has his cowboy hat from Big Dave and Heather and he commandeered Eyob’s horse from Grandma and grandpa and poor Sean was left with nothing. So we found Sean a hat and he ran around like he had a horse.  They were making horse noises and saying, “Giddeeyup (no idea if I spelled that right).  It was so cute.  Eyob would make an attempt to chase the boys on all fours but after a while gave up and just watched.

The next set of pics are of the huge snow storm that hit on Wednesday before Valentine’s Day.  It wasn’t a ton of snow but the wind was blowing hard.  Brandon left work early (6:30pm) to make sure he could get home, but didn’t arrive until 11:30pm.  There were some people who were stranded at work until the next day and even some kids were stuck on their school bus.  It was an interesting evening.  I canceled MOPS the next day since the schools were delayed.  Eyob loves to check out what is going on outside. Often it looks like he is trying to plan his escape.  Either that or get someone on the “outside” to rescue him.  I think that is probably one thing he misses the most…. being outside.  I think in ET he spent 80 percent, if not more, of his time outside and he definitely hasn’t been able to be outside much at all since being here.  I think we are all going a little stir crazy!!!!!! 

The last group of pics are of the boys in our reading corner.  They love to sit back there.  Often if it gets really quiet, my heart will race and I will set out in search of some disaster only to find them back there reading.  I am so glad to have little readers.  Sloan even has a pooping book.  Thanks to Big Dave and Heather who gave him this awesome pop-up dinosaur book.  We get him situated on the toilet and then he will ask for his book and tell us to wait outside.  It really is the cutest thing…baring the offensive smell at the end.  Anyway… TMI I am sure.

Hope you enjoy the pics.

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Click on the pic for more.

I wasn’t quite sure how to describe Valentine’s Day to the boys, so I just called it Love day. Not very original but oh well… the best I could do on the spur of the moment. I have been reading them a collection of “love stories” all week and they have been eating it up.  One of them is called, “I Love You Stinky Face….”  In the story, as the mom is putting the little boy to bed, she tells him she loves him and he says, “But mama, but mama, what if I was a skunk and was really stinky or what if I was a cyclops and had one gigantic eye.  And the mom replies with all the things she would do for him because she loves him.  It is a great story and the boys want to read it every night.  Per as usual, Sloan always asks a ton of questions and Sean just keeps saying, But mama, but mama.  Eyob just crawls around ignoring us.  I think boys think about these kind of things.  They all have “What if?” senerios running through their heads.  I bet you have played this “game” with your spouse.  “Would you still love me if…. I lost half of my face in an accident?” or “Would you still love me if I talked like this… and then proceed to make the most annoying voice on the planet.” Please tell me you have played this game.  If not try it.  It’s always good for a laugh.

Anyway, the boys and I talked about who they love and they decided to make valentines for their grandparents and cousins. We had a good time putting on stickers and drawing. Sloan is such an independent little boy and didn’t want me to write anything on his…. until he saw me doing it for Sean.  This is the first time Sean sat through an entire “creative session.” Probably helped that Brandon was helping him.

  I think I am going to enforce that everyday is Love day around here.  I don’t do enough loving.  Sometimes I am too busy “surviving” to really love…… SO here’s to love day.

PS… grandparents you should recieve your valentines this week.. It’s never to late for love right?

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Before and After


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 So after being harrassed about my boys “hippy” hair or as we refer to it, WT hair too often (you know who you are…….Susan) we finally decided to get it cut.  Seany has really, really and I mean really thin hair and I was worried what would happen when we cut it, but as you see it looks great and he looks so grown up.

Thursday, Brandon took both blond boys to the barber shop to get haircuts.  He said Sean did great and you could tell when he got home that it was so fun for him to have a time out with his daddy and older brother doing “big” boy stuff.  I keep looking at him and thinking my boy is so handsome. 

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While Valentine’s day was not our usual “big”  event day as it was B.K. (before kids) we were really excited about actually getting to do do anything.  One of my girlfriends, Cassie, volunteered to watch the boys for the evening… all three and she already has three of her own. Her husband was going to be away on business for the week and so she thought she would volunteer to help us out.  Thank you Cassie!!!  I know some adoption experts would not recommend leaving your recently adopted child, but I know a lot of marriage experts would recommend some couple time away.  Brandon actually stayed home from work Thursday, not to celebrate VDay all day but because he lost his voice (can’t sell stuff without a voice).. so we dropped the boys off around 4…. made a stop at the liquor store (can’t buy wine at the grocery store here (one of the many twilight zoneish things about this state) and got to Red Robin right as the 5 o’clock rush of merry makers came in.  I guess in a place where most of the population are children, the parents all think like we do…. out early and home early for bedtimes.  I was surprised that Brandon actually chose RR. Usually he wants to go someplace “extra special” but he said we usually spend a lot of money when you (traci) would be just as happy with the food from a casual place.  So casual it was and really fun.  We ate a lot of really “good” for you food and had a couple of “fun” drinks and talked a lot.  I was waiting for my cell to ring but it never did.  Instead of going to a movie like we usually like to do we went over to Target and bought one. 

When we got to my friends house to pick up the boys they were in their pjs and looked content but happy to see us.  I actually think it was good for Eyob.  He learned that he would survive and that we would come back.  It was the first time both of us had been away from him at the same time.  He was really affectionate with me by his choice, which doesn’t happen very often.  Did I mention.. Thank you Cassie!!!  You’re a life saver!!!

After the kiddos were in bed we watched the movie we bought, Martian Child, which brings me to my topic.  You have to see this movie if you are in the adoption world, want to be, are thinking about it or just interested in watching a good movie.  It was clean, only PG, and was such a moving story about the miracle of adoption.  So many times throughout the movie I was thinking about Eyob and what we are going through and thinking about the vision for orphans that God gave me when I was small and while it seemed to disappear in the post adoption aftermath it is beginning to come back again.  It is movies like this that inspire me to think about doing it again.  I know, I know…… more on that later. 

By the way, John Cusack plays the lead role in this movie (we love John) and his sister Joan Cusack supports.  The little boy they picked for the part of the boy was also fabulous in his part. So not only was it an awesome movie, the acting was great also. 

At the end of the movie the main character makes a statement about all kids that I thought was really profound……. he said something like… All kids come into this world as aliens or martians and their first years are spent trying to learn about us….. The way he said it was much more insightful and made me think in a new light about Eyob and all that these last 2 months must have been like for him.  He truly has been an alien in a new land, trying to figure us out, just as we have been trying to learn about him.

Watch and enjoy. 

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Throughout the last couple of weeks God has been confirming to me over and over how much adoption is a spiritual battlefield.  In my post a couple of days ago, The Triple Ds, I talked about how satan uses distraction, discouragement, and doubt to pull us away from our Heavenly Father.  I also related how I felt discouragment set in almost as soon as I walked through the gates of HH Ethiopia.  I didn’t realize it then, but looking back now I see how much satan wanted to steal the joy I had in serving the Lord through adoption.  Tuesday as I was relating this experience to the Ethiopian Program Director at AGCI, our adoption agency, she proceeded to reconfirm my feelings by saying, “Traci, you would be surprised at how many families say the same thing, that a spirit of oppression or discouragment settled around them as they tried to carry out God’s vision of adoption.”  There it was again.  Many of us go into adoption totally unprepared for the spiritual attack we are going to face.  I know I did. 

So how do we get prepared???? We need to see adoption as a battlefield, one that satan is not going to give up without a fight and we need to prepare ourselves accordingly.  We need to cover ourselves in prayer, we need to find scriptures that we can fight satan with and we need to enlist the help of our family and friends to go to battle for us as we step into the action.

At this point I want to direct you to my dad’s blog and his post about adoption.  I think it will help you see adoption for what it is…….a picture of God’s great love for us.

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