Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Celebration and Goodbye

For days I have been planning to sit and blog yet with seven kids (with one who speaks limited English and one with Pneumonia) there has been very little down time. There is so much that I want to share from the past few weeks and so in time I will sort my thoughts out here-

   While in Ethiopia a few weeks ago we had an amazing opportunity to meet Lemi's entire birth family and spend time with Werke (Garrett and Tia's birth mom). Nicco had arranged for us to travel to Zway and for Lemi's family to travel to meet us. It wa wonderful to meet Lemi's birth mom, Busha, on our court trip but I was thrilled to think that we could also get to spend some extended time with Busha, his siblings and other relatives.
   We left Addis after breakfast and headed south to Zway. Nicco was our driver and so we set out in his small, red car with David in the front seat and I was happy to be in the back with Lemi. If you have never driven in Ethiopia then I will try to explain why I was elated to jump in the back seat. You travel at very high rates of speed with animals and people all over the streets. You are literally weaving in and out of cows, donkeys, dogs, horses and people. There are no real road rules other than to squeeze your way in and hope you don't bump into another car or run over something or someone. The drive to Zway is about three and a half hours and when you get outside the city there are not as many cars but the ones you see tend to be coming at you head on as they pass another car- For me the back seat is the place to be so that when I yell the driver can hear me.
   I always pray more when traveling in the car in Ethiopia and this day was no different. Between the fear of death and the wind blowing like a tornado from the windows rolled down there is very little talking that can take place. Lemi quickly went to sleep on my lap as soon as we left from Addis. As we drove I was praying for our safety but I was also praying for our time with the families we would spend the next day and a half with.
   When we have traveled to Zway in the past we have stayed in a small hotel called Teddy's and it is really an amazing oasis in the middle of Africa. The day before we were to travel down to Zway Nicco explained to me that Teddy's was full and that he had made arrangements at another hotel. Now again for those of you who have never been to Ethiopia a hotel in the middle of nowhere is not just like a Hotel Six here. It could mean that we are staying in a place with no running water and/or no electricity. This also was at the top of my prayer list as we drove. I prayed that I would get over my spoiled self and be able to stay where ever Nicco had arranged for us to stay. I must say that my mind went wild on that three and a half hour trip thinking about what this place might be like.
   We drove into Zway and had lunch at Teddy's (the nice place that I had hoped to stay) and made sure that they were still full for the night. Sure enough there were no rooms due to the fact that several NGO organizations were hosting a conference there. So we headed down the dirt road dodging donkeys carts, cattle and people on our way to our hotel and the people that we couldn't wait to spend time with.
   When we arrived at the hotel, Busha and her family were there waiting for us. Lemi had just spent time with Busha on our last trip but it had been four years since he had seen any other family. He quickly got out of the car and ran to his brothers. Tears filled my eyes as I watched him hug them. His oldest brother (who happens to be about 6' 4") wrapped his long arms around Lemi and picked him up in pure joy. His youngest brother who is six years old just kept looking at him. It was a sight that I will never forget. Everyone was laughing and celebrating the fact that they were all together again.
   We met Lemi's  sisters, his brother-in-laws (that seems funny), his nieces, an uncle and a few cousins. As soon as I met one niece she started to try to talk to me and we both laughed because we knew that I couldn't understand her. She was about nine years old and she kept pointing to herself and then making glasses with her fingers around her eyes and then pointing to me. I quickly felt on top of my head and handed her my sunglasses thinking that she wanted to wear them. She shook her head no and then again pointed at herself, made glasses around her eyes and pointed at me again. At that moment I looked at her and understood what she was saying. She remembered seeing me on the island the day that we were there two years prior.She is such a beautiful girl who is so sweet- David and I both wanted to bring her home!

   We made our way up onto the porch and spent several hours getting to know each member of Lemi's family. We were thankful  that we had Nicco and one of Lemi's cousins to translate. We were amazed that one of Lemi's cousins who was about 20 years old was very fluent in English (I will write an entire blog on him soon) and he was excited to get to translate from  the Zay language(which Nicco doesn't know) to English for us. David and I had fun sharing photos of Tia and Garrett as well as photos from our previous trip with Lemi. They had never seen an ipad and so they had so much fun looking at all of the pictures and videos.
   After a few hours Werke and Welde (Garrett and Tia's oldest brother) arrived and we again were excited to get to see them. They also had fun seeing all of the pictures of Tia and Garrett. I cried as I told them how proud they would be of how well they both were doing.

Side note: It is very humbling to sit with a lady who gave birth to two of the greatest joys of my life. Not many adoptive moms get the treasure of knowing the birth mom of their adoptive children on a personal level. My heart ached for her as I shared how Garrett is an amazing soccer player and how he loves football. I told her of the amazing progress that they have both made in school and how they both enjoy reading. I shared with her that Tia loves to dance and sing. How she loves to dress up (not that she can understand this because she owns only one dress) and act. I wrestled in my heart with what to share and how much to share. I prayed for God to give me wisdom and I shared it all. I showed her pictures of where they sleep because as a mom I think that I would want to know. The entire time she was glowing and smiling all the while my heart was breaking for her. I have said it many times before but I have no idea how she was able to want more for her children than for them to starve and so she was willing to give them a new life. I really am not sure I could do it. I plan to spend much more time with Werke in the future and  children's sake I am going to write a journal (or book) from the perspective of Werke and myself of this amazing journey that God has had us on for the past four years. I savored every moment with this women who is so much stronger than I could ever dream of being. She was so proud of her kids and she loved seeing their photos and hearing their voices in the videos.

   After several hours of talking, painting nails, taking pictures and a lot of laughter we all gathered for dinner. There were 24 of us around a very long table and as I sat there beside Lemi listening to Werke, Busha and their families laugh and chat I thought to myself, "Who gets to do this?" I had no idea what they were talking about but for some of them this was the first time that they had ever eaten at a restaurant. We told them to order anything that they wanted to eat or drink because this was a celebration of  families becoming one. Good thing we were in Ethiopia because for 24 of us to eat and drink whatever we wanted it was only about fifty US dollars.
  We are thankful that we were able to rent all of their family members rooms at the hotel for the night. For most of them they had never had a shower or slept in a bed. After I was settled in to our bed and under our mosquito net I thought that I probably should have shown them how to use the shower and turn down the bed. The things I take for granted each day like running water and a warm bed were a very special once-in-a-lifetime treat for each of them. I thought back to my crazy imagination of where I would be staying earlier that day and was completely ashamed of my thoughts. To think that I would not want to go one night without running water or have to sleep on the ground when our extended family does this every night shook me to the core. I prayed that God would forgive my entitlement attitude and that He would break me of me. I prayed that our new family in the hotel rooms all around us would enjoy every minute of this luxury and that I would daily realize the luxuries of my life could at any moment be taken away.
   The next morning we had a huge breakfast together and the room again was filled with laughter and joy. Shortly after breakfast we took several more photos and then it was time to say our goodbyes. I said goodbye quickly with hugs and then stood over to the side. I knew that they next few moments would be very difficult for me emotionally. To see my son saying goodbye to his family not knowing when they would see each other again. I began to sob and so I walked away as I watched Lemi's oldest brother bend down to hug him with tears in his eyes. I have always hated goodbyes. My hope and prayer for all of those who were saying goodbye that day is that one day we will all be in heaven together where there will be no goodbyes.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

You are......

Over the past few days and weeks I have heard over and over from people something like, "I think that it is wonderful what you and your family are doing. I would love to adopt but I could never do what you have done." They then continue to share with me how they do not have enough patience, money or whatever the excuse is and each time I bite my tongue because I am never sure what I might say in reaction to these words that have been spoken to me- I have decided to just smile and pull myself together until I could sit and write this blog.
So here is my response with tear filled eyes......

First of all, I am not all that wonderful, I am just a mom and wife trying to lean into and live out what God has called me to. I, like all of those who have spoken these words to me, could have a long list of excuses to not be all that He has called me to be. Believe me in many areas of my life I give those excuses to Him- whether it is the fear of the unknown, the sacrifice that will be what I consider more than I want to sacrifice, or the stubbornness in my heart. I moment by moment have to make choices to completely follow Him and what He is calling me to. If there is any good in me or in my actions they are not of me they are of Him.

I am a very ordinary person who grew up living a very ordinary life. Earlier in life I had my life all mapped out. David would be a pastor and we would have a few (very few) children- I would be at home and raise my children to be what He created them to be (as long as it didn't become uncomfortable) and we would always be secure, comfortable and have every need and most of our wants covered. This ordinary life came to a halt about six years ago as I stood in an orphanage in the middle of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. As I stood there I literally felt my heart break as I held a small HIV positive baby and glanced around the room where toddlers and children of all ages were playing around me. I left that small room changed in a way that I never could have imagined.

My heart ached for days, weeks, months and years as I gave God excuse after excuse. God, you have blessed us with four children- remember the average family in America has only 2 kids. God, you know that David is a pastor and we have very limited money- Children are expensive. God, I am not sure I could love an adopted child as much as I love my biological ones- You know I carried them for 9 months and have lived with them for years. God, our biological children will have to give up so much- You know there is only so much of me and I may not have enough love to go around. God, what if an adopted kids ruins our family life- You know orphaned kids have many relational issues because of what they have experienced. The list went on and on and honestly I would never even share some of the very dark, scary excuses that I gave because I can't bring myself to even type them.

That day standing in that small, dark room God was urging me to stand up for the least of these. He rocked my world and I was not ready or willing for my secure, planned out, perfect world to be rocked. I was not ready for messy, scary, faith filled dependence on Him. I wanted to cling to my world so that I could be like everyone else while pretending to follow Him. I have never enjoyed being in the spotlight and I would much rather blend in than be different and so for far to long I played the game of being what I saw around me in my Christian world.

A few years later David had a night that completely changed his life and our world. He found himself in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia sleeping on the street with a group of street kids. In the same city that God had tried to grab my attention He was changing the heart of my husband. I am so thankful that when God changes David's heart he allows the change to turn into action. When David returned from that trip he shared with me that it was time for us to step up and be Jesus. It was time for us to open our hearts, home and our family to the least of these.

I agreed and we set out to add to our family by adopting a young boy around our youngest daughters age. I am so thankful that God didn't let me know in those first few days that this precious boy would have a twin sister or a best friend. Only God knew that then- He knew that in my humanity I would never have been able to handle the journey that He was placing me on. It makes me sad to think that I had such little faith that if He would have shared His entire plan I probably would have said no.

So for all of you who have spoken words to me of "I wish I could but......" I urge you to put down your excuses. Just a few short years ago I was there with a long list of excuses much like yours. You have heard me say before that I do not think that adoption is for everyone, yet I do know that millions of children are alone in our world today. I know that this is not how God wants it to be and we His church are called to be His hands and feet. We are failing when it comes to orphan care-  It is time for the church to be the church. Is it comfortable? No, but being comfortable isn't really all that comfortable if you open your eyes to the needs around you. Is it easy? No, but the blessings and joy that God gives are beyond what you could imagine on this side of stepping in.

So that is my response...........If you have spoken these words to me and I have been silent it is because in that moment I was not sure how my words would come across but today I hope that you will allow God to break your heart for what break His. I am so thankful that I am not who I was a few short years ago- He is living in me and nothing can compare to this life!

Monday, October 1, 2012

The first night with Lemi

I have tried to sit and write this five times and couldn't here goes the sixth time with tears already streaming......

After we finished shopping with Lemi, Nicco took us to the guest house for us to play and get some rest before dinner. It was such a bitter-sweet moment to watch Lemi jump out of the car clutching the two small bags of clothes. I followed behind him as he bounced up the stairs in his new shoes. I wondered to myself what he must be feeling- He had new shoes that fit on his feet for the first time ever and he was carrying two bags of  brand new clothes for the first time in his life. I started to cry as I watched him follow David into our guestroom.

When we got into the room I then quickly realized that communication was going to be very hard. This was the first time that David and I had been without a translator and with our very limited Amheric and his very limited English we knew we were in for a challenge. We had so much we wanted to say to him and so many questions to ask yet we couldn't. Instead of talking we settled for playing. I pulled out the legos, an ipod, a yoyo, a dry erase board and a few other things for us to enjoy together. We used a lot of made up sign language to communicate and shared many laughs those first few hours of being alone. We had a great afternoon of playing and David helped him take his first warm shower before putting on his brand new clothes.

Nicco arrived that evening to take us to dinner and it was a pleasure to meet his wife and have a nice meal. It was also nice to have them translate again to help us communicate with Lemi. Lemi was all smiles during dinner but I noticed that he did not eat much. He laughed and smiled as we talked about our family and how we couldn't wait for him to come home with us. On the way back to the guesthouse he told Nicco that his stomach was hurting and Nicco communicated that to me.

We arrived back at the guesthouse after dark and Lemi headed straight to the bathroom. After he was in there a few minutes he called for me. I went in to find him getting sick. My heart started to break- I thought back to the first time I hugged him earlier that day and how frail he felt. How the reality of my son not being able to hold down food because his body was not use to eating was so hard for me to comprehend. I made sure all day that he had eaten bland food but because his body was not use to much food it couldn't keep even pasta and rice down. I held back the tears as I got him a towel and rubbed his back and prayed in that small, dark bathroom as the power was out.

When he was feeling some better he changed his clothes and crawled into his bed. Lemi was all smiles and I am not sure he had ever had a bed all to himself. I taught him how to pull back the sheets as he laughed and then he snuggled in. David and I sat on his bed and prayed with him for the first time. When the prayer was over he sat up and tickled David on the stomach as he said, "Tickle, tickle." David and I both looked at each other with tears in our eyes. We had not tickled Lemi all day but those of you who have been at our house at bedtime you know that David tickles all of our kids after prayer time- David didn't tickle Lemi but Lemi tickled David and we knew that was a blessing from God. A small reminder that Lemi was meant to be a Henderson. Only God does such neat and unexpected things for us!

David went to get ready for bed and I stayed with Lemi. I started to sing to him as I rubbed his back. As a mom I had missed so many nights of tucking him into bed, so many nights of bedtime prayers, and so many nights of tickle time and I knew that we only had a few short nights before we would have to leave him again and so I wanted each night to count. I sang as he drifted off to sleep and I wish that I would have had my camera on the bed to  take a picture- My son literally went to sleep with a huge smile on his face. Long after I had finished singing he was smiling as he was sleeping so peacefully.

The next morning we got up early and headed out to the bus station to pick up Busha- Lemi's birthmom. Lemi had not seen Busha in over 3 years and so I was eager to not only meet her but to see the interaction between Lemi and his mom. As soon as Nicco stopped the car Lemi jumped out and ran to the side of the road. I thought maybe he had spotted her but instead he was sick again. My heart boke as I watched Nicco hurry over to help him. Nicco then spotted Busha as he was walking with Lemi back to the car.

I watched as my son hugged his mom that he had not seen in 3 years. I watched her tears as she hugged him. I couldn't imagine her thoughts or her feelings. I could tell by the way that they interacted that they loved each other deeply. She pulled away from their hug and held his face in her hands to look at him just as I had done 24 hours earlier. She wanted to see every detail of his face. I had to look away as my heart was breaking. Breaking for a mom who loved her son so much that she wanted more for him. She couldn't provide for his basic needs and she loved him enough to provide something more for him. I have said this before- I am not sure that I would have been selfless enough if I had been in her situation.

David and I walked over to where Busha and Lemi were standing and Nicco started to introduce us but by the time he finished we were greeting one another with kisses and hugs in true Ethiopian fashion. Busha was talking very quickly to me and saying the same thing over and over. I have no idea what she was saying but she was laughing and smiling and so I gathered that she was happy. We held each other for a while and even though we don't speak the same language there was a deep love felt. I whispered over and over to her as we both were crying that I would take good care of Lemi. I know she couldn't understand a word that I was saying yet I think she completely understood every word.

 I knew that Busha must be exhausted after her travel. She walked 5 hours by foot, took a donkey cart a few more hours, rode in the back of a work truck and then took a long bus ride to get to the city. Her journey to the city had started the day before and here she found herself with her son in a city unknown to her with a man and women who were going to parent her son. She was so gracious and kind. She was not shy and when we got back into the car to go to lunch she had much to share with us about her life and her family. She also wanted to know all about Tizita and Geremew.

At lunch we laughed and giggled as Busha tried to teach me some of the Zay language. The Zay language is spoken on the island where our three kids are from yet none of our kids remember that language due to the fact that the orpahange speaks Amheric. I am not very good at foreign language but during that lunch I tried like I have never tried before to learn at least a few words.

Lunch was so enjoyable and Busha is an amazing and very fun lady. It was very interesting watching her (and Lemi) experience all of the new things in the city. She has only been to Addis once a few weeks prior for paperwork and she was amazed by the experience. You should have seen her and Lemi get on the elevator prior to lunch. She held and sqeezed my hand like a small child as she closed her eyes and held her breath when we started to move. We all laughed and had a great time experiencing so many first things with them.

After lunch we traveled back to the guesthouse and Busha stayed with us for the afternoon. The guesthouse was so kind and they even gave her a room to take a short nap. It was such a blessing to get a glimpse into the personalty and life of Lemi's mom. We had two days with her and those two days will forever be cherished by my son and by me.

End note: Lemi continued to be sick for several days- it tooks his tall frail body a few days to be reintroduced to food. By the time we left to come home he was eating like a champ and his body was keeping the food down. I am so thankful that since our return he has been cared for by Nicco and the Post family. It has been very hard for me to realize how hungry our son really was. It litterally made me sick to think that he was eating so very little and most days nothing at all. With so much waste in our country I have had a hard time processing the fact that a few weeks ago I held my son who was litterally starving. When I see the amount of money spent on back to school supplies, politics, fireworks for a church celebration, the list goes on and on- it makes me angry. I am dealing with my anger because I know that is not right but as believers we need to make a stand- We need to care for the least of these. There are children here in our community and around the world who don't have thier basic needs met and then we dare to do more for ourselves when we have so much more than we need. You may think that I shouldn't be so strong but if you ever hold your son who has been starving maybe you will understand how deep my heart hurts for the least of these. What can you do without today? This month? This Christmas season? This year? What can you give to the least of these?       

Sunday, August 26, 2012


After dropping our bags at the guest house we headed out to see Lemi. On the way to the orphanage Nicco explained that he had gained permission for us to keep Lemi with us for our entire visit. This was a huge surprise to us because we thought that we would spend the days with him but that in the evenings we would have to leave him. I had noticed that our room at the guest house had an extra twin size bed (thanks to Nicco) but really thought nothing of it until Nicco shared with us the good news of spending the week not having to say goodbye each night to Lemi.
On the way to the orphanage I was very nervous, excited, overwhelmed and full of emotion. I remembered having these same emotions when we were meeting Garrett and Tia for the first time yet this time my emotions caught me off guard. I had met Lemi two years ago as my sons best friend, yet now I was going to meet him as my son. Things had moved so rapidly with this adoption that I really had not had time to process what the first few minutes with him would be.
We pulled up to the large metal gate in front of the orphanage and Nicco blew the car horn. David and I sat in the car as we saw the guard open the small door on the gate. Nicco then explained who we were and then the guard said that he would get him as he turned and closed the door. I quickly said, "David, we have to get out! We can't just be sitting in the car when Lemi comes out."  We both jumped out of the car just in time for the door to reopen and there stood our son.
He pointed to David and quickly said, "Dad!" He then started to point to me as he said, "Mom!", but I quickly hugged him and tears started to roll down my face. I am sure that he had been longing for years to say those two words. They both rang in my head.......Dad........Mom! After a hug, I then placed his face in my hands just as I had done with Tia and Garrett and looked into his eyes for just a few seconds. The smile on his face was something that I can't begin to put into words- Pure JOY!
After a few more hugs we got into the car to head off to have some lunch. Much like we had experienced before, Lemi had so many first ahead of him. He had never been to a restaurant, never eaten at a table, never had pizza and the list goes on and on. The look on his face as we walked up the steps to the place where we were going to have lunch was priceless. His eyes were wide and his smile filled his entire face yet he had no idea what to do. He grabbed my hand very tightly and the best I could I explained that we were going to sit down and have lunch. He sat between David and I and didn't take his eyes off of us. The waitress brought us some bread (Dabo- a word I know :) ) and then she wanted our drink orders. We ordered him an orange soda (that is Garrett's favorite) without really knowing what he would want. When the waitress came back and opened the bottle top on his soda you would have thought that she was handing him the world. His enormous grin somehow managed to get bigger. Much like with our other children, we giggled as we watched him experience the fizzy taste of soda for the first time. He ate very little for lunch and only later did we understand and know why.
After lunch we took him out to shop for some clothes. He came to us with a shirt, a pair of pants, a jacket and a pair of shoes. We knew that if he was spending the week with us he would need a few more things and as Nicco explained that we were going to take him shopping he really had no idea what Nicco was talking about. Lemi has obviously never been into a store and so I knew that the afternoon ahead would be fun.
We pulled up in front of a children's shop and went inside while Nicco parked the car. It was a two story shop and we quickly realized that all of the baby and toddler clothing were on the first floor and Lemi's size clothing was on the second. We made our way upstairs and Lemi was in awe as he started to look around. This store was very small in comparison to stores here in America but to Lemi it was huge! Nicco came in and we explained that he could pick out three or four shirts and some pants. He was picking up any size and we finally got him to understand that not everything there would fit him. He picked several shirts and pants in his size and it was time to try them on. Instead of going into the dressing room, because obviously he had no idea what a dressing room was, he just started stripping down right in the middle of the store. David and I both laughed and we along with Nicco explained that he needed to go into another area to try on the clothes.
I am crying as I type this because the look on our sons face when he came out with  brand new shirt and a new pair of pants was something that is hard to describe. It is a look that I will never forget- He was so proud, so excited and he was beaming with a smile like I have never seen on a child.
After he picked out his clothes we then explained to him that he could find a pair of shoes to buy. I don't know why but to me being able to provide him with a pair of shoes that fit was a big deal. I know that he has never in his life had a pair of shoes that fit his feet and to think of a boy that is 8 or 9 years old never having shoes just breaks my heart. As we were helping him try on shoes I was reminded of watching our sweet Kaylee put shoes on Garrett's feet for the first time. There is just something special to me about giving our sons shoes for the first time- Maybe that is weird but just like I loved giving Tia her first dress that fit her, it made my heart happy to put new, fitting shoes on my sons feet!

To be continued............

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Time has been flying by and I haven't had time to sit and blog so for those of you who have contacted me here we go. I will start back at the very beginning of this journey:

As most of you know when we brought Garrett home a little over two years ago he talked about, prayed for and continued to ask us about his best friend Lemi. Lemi, Garrett, Tia and another young girl were brought off of Zadachu island on the same day and were in the same orphanage both is Zway and in Addis. While we were in Addis for six weeks for the adoption process for Tia and Garrett our entire family met Lemi and none of us could forget him. After almost two yers of praying for him to have a family we finally realized that God was chosing us to be his forever family.

In May, we started to get serious about the process of adding him to our family. We started our home study, all 8 of us had physicals (within a weeks time), we were fingerprinted a million times, police clearances granted, gathered paperwork and everything else that goes into getting paper ready to bring a child into our family by the way of adopting. This part of the process was somewhat easier this time because we had done it before but paperwork gathering for our family is never easy!

During this time we also contacted the agency we had used before to find out more information about Lemi but we were met with the fact that our agency was closed and was being sold to another agency. This could have been a major roadblock but instead God opened a door for us to move forward. We had been told by our new agency that since our home study and paperwork was not complete until late June that we should not expect to be filed for court until after the rainy season (August- October) and to not really expect him to travel home until around the first of next year. Our families hope and dream at the end of June was that he would be home by Christmas. (My personal prayer was that he would have a year as a Henderson before Megan goes to college- see previous blog)

David and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in May and to celebrate we planned a trip away for the first week of July. We were out of the country and unable to use our phones for the week and so much to our surprise when we turned on our phones we had several messages from our adoption agency explaining that they were ready to file for a court date for Lemi and needed a few more things from us. We were told that it would be a miracle to pass court prior to the rainy season but that they were going to try to get it scheduled. We were shocked and excited that God was moving this adoption along at a pace much quicker than we could have dreamed.

We were filed for court shortly after we returned from our trip and we received word that we were to be in Court in Addis on August 13th. That e-mail came at the end of July and for whatever reason (now I know why) we waited a few days to look into travel plans. We were so thankful that we waited because on August 1st, our agency called and said that our court date had been moved up and that we needed to be in Ethiopia on August 9th for our court date on August 10th. That meant that in less than a week we would need to make arrangements to travel, find a place to stay, get all six kids here taken care of, get Ethiopian visas and pray that one last piece of needed paperwork would come.We were thrilled but YIKES that is not much time. Little did we know then that we had much less than a week!

As soon as we got that call I sent our passports to the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, DC in order to get Ethiopian visas. In the past you were able to purchase them at the airport in Addis but we have been told that any day they could discontinue that and the best thing to do is send them to DC in order to make sure that you can enter the country. On the website it says that there is a 24 hour turn around and so I mailed our passports overnight mail and included an overnight return envelope and knew that they should be back to us by Friday and Saturday prior to our early Tuesday morning departure. I checked that off of my long list and thought nothing more of it.

We started making plans and crossing things off of our to do list until late Friday evening when things all changed. David was looking at a few e-mails and came across an e-mail sent late on Friday afternoon that stated that the Ethiopian Embassy was running behind on returning Passports and Visas. He then questioned if ours had been returned. I quickly got on the UPS site to track them and found out that they had not left from the Ethiopian Embassy. This meant that even if someone sent them to us on Monday they would not arrive by our 7:30am flight on Tuesday. This was a BIG issue!The Ethiopian Embassy was already closed for the weekend and Monday morning would be to late to try and contact them. David and I were so unsure of what to do but we prayed and felt that God was saying to travel to DC and pick up the passports/visas. This would mean that we had to leave no later than Sunday and since it was very late Friday night before we realized this we were scrambling.

Early Saturday morning I made a phone call to Ethiopian Airlines to see if it was possible to change the first leg of our flight. We were thankful that our second flight was from DC and so that part would not need to be changed. At first they said no that they had no flights available on Sunday. I explained our situation and the lady very kindly worked for what seemed like hours to find a flight for us- that flight would leave at 5:30am on Sunday morning. It was almost lunch time when we had finally confirmation that in about 18 hours we would be leaving.......what about the kids, the dog, the needed paperwork, how would we get to the airport at 3:30am and the list went on and on. We have amazing friends and so quickly all of our list was covered and somehow we managed to pack and have everything together.

We arrived in DC at 7:30am on Sunday morning and crashed due to having no sleep the night before. We then enjoyed the city as much a we could knowing that on Monday morning they could or could not give us our passports. We woke up very early Monday and took the Metro to the Ethiopian Embassy. We arrived and sat on the front steps for almost an hour waiting for them to open. We were first in line and praise God after a few minutes our passports were located. They already had visas in them but they were waiting for a signature. By 9:30am we had passports in hand and we were able to enjoy the day knowing that the next day we could travel to Ethiopia to see our son.

Early on Tuesday morning we were greeted by our taxi driver who just happened to be from Addis. We had an enjoyable ride with him to the airport and as we got out of the cab David payed him. The driver quickly handed David back some money and said, "Please help someone who is poor in my country." I had to walk away as huge tears poured down my face. I thanked God for a man who wasn't willing to forget where he had come from and it made me think of my son Garrett. God reminded me yet again that we were leaving to go to Ethiopia because my son will never forget where he came from. He had urged our family for months to go and help his friend who was there with out a family. We were on our way to do just this- bring another son into our family!

David and I boarded the plane and I think we were both still in a little state of shock. All of this had happened so quickly and truth be told our heads had been spinning but now we had hours (plenty of hours) to sit on a plane and realize that this was it- Our family was expanding and the joy of that was amazing. After 13 hours of flying and what seemed like 14 hours of finding our luggage we were greeted by Nicco and we were off. We took our bags to the guesthouse and then we headed off to see Lemi.

To be continued........

Thursday, August 16, 2012

He Cares....

As I woke up this morning God reminded me yet again that He cares about every aspect of my life. A few months ago when we set out on the journey to add Lemi to our family I had one concern- It seems somewhat selfish but it was very important to me. If you know our family well you know that family is very important to us. My biggest concern was that Lemi would not be here in our home very long before Megan would leave for college. Instead of worrying I simply started to pray and share with God my heart.
I prayed that God would give our family a year together before Megan would leave for school. This may seem very small as you read this request but to me it was another mountain because we had been told that it would be after the rainy season in Ethiopia before we would even file for court and it could be months after that before he would be home. This would mean that Lemi would only be part of our family for a few short months before Megan would start college. I prayed knowing that I was asking the impossible but with faith I was being real with God about my hearts desire.
When David and I got the phone call a few weeks ago that we were ready to be filed in court we were away for our 20th Anniversary. As soon as I hung up the phone with our agency I cried over breakfast as I shared with David what my prayer had been. Honestly, I hadn't shared this with him before because I knew how unreal my desire was. As I shared with David it was as if God was whispering to me, "Mendy, I Care. I care about the smallest detail just trust me and ask. See what I can do...."
I am learning over and over on this journey of life that He does care and His ways are always the best-  Praising God that Lemi is a Henderson and Megan doesn't start her senior year for another week and a half- OUR GOD IS ABLE.......

Sunday, August 12, 2012

We are now a party of 9!

I haven't had much time to update our blog but I will carve out time to update with stories and photos this next week after we return home. We have wanted to spend every second with our new son and so updating this blog has not been a priority. Here are some basics:

We were thrilled that as soon as we flew into Addis we were able to pick up Lemi at the trabsition house and he has been with us the entire week- We were not expecting to have him 27/7 and we have LOVED it!

Lemi was thrilled to see u and as soon as the door opened he said, "Mom.....Dad". My heart melted as I hugged him for the first time!

The next day we went to the bus station and picked up Lemi's birthmom. We enjoyed 2 full days with her and those are days that we will never forget! Honestly most adoptive families don't get that time and for it we are so very thankful!

We found out while spending time with Busha (Lemis' birthmom) that Tizita and Geremew's grandmother and Lemi's grandfather are cousins meaning that their great grandparents are the same- How amazing is that?

Here are a few sad facts:

Our son has experienced a long period of time with very little food. It has been hard for his body to adjust to eating well and it breaks my heart. He was sick the first day or two but now he is feeling much better....

Power is now out......I am off will type more asap............

Saturday, July 28, 2012


The past few days have been bittersweet for us. We received a e-mail stating that we have a court date on August 13th in Ethiopia which is amazing news. While this news is more than exciting, we are somewhat overwhelmed because of all that is needed on our end with the USCIS/ Dept. of Homeland Security. It simply is not ready.  Long story short as soon as we received our home study we mailed off our I-600a form which had to include our home study documentation to the USCIS office. When they received our form they sent a receipt and now the process is to wait for a date to be fingerprinted and then they will follow up with an approval letter that we will need in court
When we received the receipt we started to call to see if we could speak to the officer assigned to our case because we know that he/she has the authority to hurry the case along if he/she is willing to work with us. Each day when we have called we have been told that our case is still sitting in the bins to be picked up by and officer with no guarantees of when it will be picked up. Yesterday I was finally able to speak to a manager who told us that our documents were in the 7th bin. She then went on to explain that 6 very full bins were in line in front of ours and that she had no idea how long the process would be. She then went on to say that she thought it would be about 70 days because so many officers are on vacation at this time of the year. She said that we just needed to wait for our fingerprint appointment that she couldn't help us.
We know that from our first adoption as soon as we have the paper that gives our fingerprint date and time that we can go to the fingerprint location to be today as I went to get the mail I was so excited to find the notice of our fingerprint appointment! We plan to be at the USCIS office at 8:00am Monday morning with proof of our court date and we hope to have this step of the process complete. Please pray with us that on Monday they allow us to be fingerprinted and that somehow an officer picks up our file and will be willing to work quickly with us to have the needed approval letter to us by August 8th or 9th prior to us needing to leave to be in Ethiopia for the August 13th court date! Thanks for being on this crazy journey with us.
 Who would have thought that in this crazy world of adoption we would be waiting almost two years in one case and completely rushed and behind in another- Our God always knows what is best and as always I am trusting His perfect plan for our family.

You will never know how emotional I have been the past few days! To think that one piece of paper could keep you living without a family for 2-3 extra months really breaks my heart. I am trusting that God has this thing all planned out but I sure can't wait to have you at home with us. We are all waiting for you to be here! I can't imagine how excited you must be to know that after waiting for more than four years a family is going to take you home and give you a family- I am so sorry that it has taken us so long. I want you to know that your siblings have longed for you to be a part of our family for two years- they can't wait for you to be here. One of your older sisters, Kaylee, has Lemme in Henna tattoo on her arm- She loves you so much! Garrett can't wait for you to be here and he is asking everyday how much longer. Jacob is super excited to have another younger brother and he is going to give you his bed as he moves to another bedroom. Megan has had pictures of you in her room for as long as I can remember and she made the first contact with our agency to see about bringing you home to be a part of our family. Your sisters Tia and Lindsay pray for you every night and they both say everyday that they can't wait for you to be home! You will never know how much you are loved and it will take you a very long time to understand what it feels like to live in a family. Dad and I are so ready to start introducing you to what it feels like to be loved unconditionally, forever and always. What it means to be a part of a family- and more importantly than any of this we can't wait to tell you about Jesus and His great love for you! We love you son and we hate that you are going to bed alone tonight- We pray that God wraps HIs arms around you and holds you tight. We promise that we are on our way........We are one day closer to being a party of nine and I just can't wait!
Love you more than you could imagine or dream-

Monday, July 23, 2012

What We Know....

Many have contacted us the past few days asking what is going on and so here is a very brief update: Our case was filed in the courts of Ethiopia last Thursday. What this means is that all of our paperwork was turned in and we are now waiting for the court to give us an actual date to be in Ethiopia to be present in court- The last date given to our agency when they filed in court was for July 30th and so we will wait to see what date we are given. Also a member of Lemme's family will have another court date set for them to appear before the judge but this will not be at the same time that we are in court- (That is different than the day that we were in court with Werke- Tia and Garrett's birth mom) If both of these court dates happen before August 7th or 8th then Lemme will officially be a Henderson before the rainy season court closure happens in Ethiopia. If we were to pass court in August then we would travel back to America without Lemme (at least I think....David thinks I might stay) and wait for our Embassy appointment which I understand would be late September to early October. At that time David and I will travel over to bring Lemme home.  If we do not get a court date prior to court closing then we will be assigned a court date in October when court reopens and then Lemme should be home with us in December. Either way we know that God has got this- His plan and timetable is so much greater than ours and although we would love to know if we will be in Ethiopia within two weeks we will just have to wait to see.
As in all of this anything can change! When our agency called this morning she said that they feel there would be no reason that this couldn't be complete within the next two weeks. Again we are trusting Him and if the truth be told I am somewhat guarding my heart. I remember the pain and heartache that I felt a few years ago when the timeline given went from four months to almost two years when played out in reality.
For now our family of eight (or whoever happens to be home on any given day) is enjoying this season of having dad at home (David is on a 3 month sabbatical which is a blog in and of itself), swimming, playing games, having sleepovers, and just simply having fun. Thanks for praying for us as we follow Him closely and grow our family in the process!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Relaxed to Rushed with one phone call......

Here we go.......I am so unsure of how to put into words what my heart feels, but here it is-
I will start by saying that I know that God's timing is always best, and as I share what has unfolded in the life of our family the last two days you will quickly know why I am continually reminding myself of this over and over and over again!

David and I went away last week to celebrate 20 years of marriage. While we were away we received a family changing phone call. As most of you are aware, we have started the process to bring another son into our family and his name is Lemme. Prior to leaving on this trip we received word from our adoption agency that court would be closing soon for the rainy season (2-3 months typically). We were told not to expect to be able to have Lemme home with us until at least Christmas and that would be only if we were one of the first families to be in court after they reopen from the rainy season.

This information all changed last Friday when our agency left a message on my phone (that I received on Sunday afternoon) stating that he was ready to be adopted.  They told us that they feel very confident we will be in court prior to court closing on August 7th.  AUGUST 7th..........Like less than a month away! David and I rejoiced in the lobby of the hotel at the news that we could have another child in a months time, yet the thought was overwhelming and unexpected. We were both in shock and we both shook our heads in disbelief as we called back to find out more details from our agency.

Here is where I am unsure of what to write or how to write- We are ready in so many ways for Garrett to have his friend become his brother, we know that God has called us to be Lemme's parents, our paperwork is in order (a HUGE thank you to Paula for gathering the last minute papers on Monday for us while we were away), but we only lack one thing- the money to move forward. We have been given and/or have less than one third of what will actually be needed to move forward with this adoption in the time frame that we have been given. Literally we need to have $1,000.00 a day given the next few weeks to make this adoption a reality. There is no way that we can do this without God placing it on the hearts of others to help our family bring Lemme home. We have been here before and He provided every penny of the thousands of dollars that were needed and I know that in His time He will do that again. To be very specific (although we will know exactly tomorrow) we have around $15,000 and we will need around  $38,000-$40,000 to make this adoption complete including traveling  twice to Ethiopia, paperwork (pre and post adoption) and the general fee's that come along with adopting. This amount of money is staggering to me I must admit. It literally takes my breath away to think of the mountain ahead. I have been awake the last few nights quoting scripture in my head reminding myself not to worry or be anxious.

The unexpected speed in which this is happening has caught us (but not God) off guard. We had plans to apply for and receive several grants like we did when we adopted Tia and Garrett yet this time there is simply not time. All of the adoption grants that we were awarded last time must be granted prior to the completion of the adoption and with 3-4 weeks until we could be in court it would be a huge God thing to even get one grant yet we will spend the end of this week applying for them. Usually with grants it takes several months to hear if you were awarded a grant and months we do not have.

Many of you have inquired how you could help us financially when we stepped into bringing Lemme home and we have told you to wait until we are sure- Now we are sure! If you feel led to give please make the check out to University City Fellowship and put Henderson Adoption in the memo line and mail to 4351 Main Street, Suite 207 Harrisburg, NC 28075 or feel free to send a check written out to us and mail to 7944 Woodmere Drive Harrisburg, NC 28075. If you would send us a quick e-mail ( to let us know if you have sent a check so that we can keep track of how much more we need that would be helpful the next few days.

More that asking for you to play a part financially we are asking that you pray for us. For peace in our hearts as we trust Him completely. We know that He has led us to this and we know that somehow He will provide all that is needed in His time.  Many times the last two days I have thought why not just wait until after the rainy season and not rush this- We could have everything in order and not have to write a blog such as this and then I think about a young boy going to bed alone tonight just hoping that one day he will have a family to call his own. I certainly don't want months of nights like tonight to pass if there is any way to get him home sooner where he can have a mom and dad to love him.

So there it is- I have to laugh because in His perfect time we were returning from a trip that we would have never taken had the phone call come earlier. I am so thankful for the week away last week as I look ahead and see our family growing to 9- God knew that we needed a little time to not only celebrate 20 great years but we needed a little rest to get ready for what He has in store for us the next few weeks or months. We will keep you up to date on all that He is doing as we trust Him and walk into the unknown of the next few days- Please join us in praying that God would do the impossible as we step out in faith to follow.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Summer of Serving......

 June 1- I just watched our oldest daughter board a plane as she begins her summer of serving. As I sat at the airport with her this morning I was trying to hold back tears as we ate breakfast together. Not tears of sadness that she was leaving (those came later) but tears of great joy for what God is doing in her life. Since the day I found out that I was going to be a mom I have prayed that my children would seek to follow the Lord and serve others with His love. This morning I watched her walk onto a plane to do just this- With no prompting from David or myself Megan has filled her summer with opportunities to give of herself to others.
Megan is flying alone today to Mexico to go and serve a missionary family from our church for the next few weeks. She will return home just in time to travel again to be a camp counselor for a group of 3rd-5th graders from our church for a week. Next up will be a week at Mission Fuge with friends from her youth group where she will be serving in a poor community. She will leave from M-Fuge and head to Cousin's Camp to be a counselor (however this is a loose term :) She will have a blast with her cousins) for a week. Home a few days and then off again to Mexico to love on orphans for a week. Now that is a BUSY summer of serving!
As a mom I have always longed for the best for our kids. Early on in their lives I tried to give them what I thought was best by giving them things. I look back now and I realize that so many "things" that I thought they needed (like cute clothes with a matching hair bow of course) were really just for me not for them. The things that have made the greatest impact on their lives have been the opportunities that David and I have given them to love and serve- not the physical things that we have given to them. Whether it be in our church on Sunday, making a meal for a family in need, building houses in Mexico, serving the homeless a meal in downtown Charlotte, spending a summer in Ethiopia, bringing children who were fatherless into our family or babysitting for a couple that needed a night out they have learned the joy in serving.
I am so thankful for Megan's heart that instead of sleeping in each day, making plans with friends, hanging out at the pool (although I think in Mexico she will get to do a little of this), heading to the mall for more stuff, or just enjoying the summer before her senior year of high school she is doing what will bring her pure joy...........she is loving and serving others.
I have a lot to learn from her as I miss her this summer-Her absence will continue to remind me that it truly is better to give than to receive! How are you giving this summer?

Acts 20:35 - In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

Thursday, May 24, 2012

20 Years.........

David and I celebrated 20 years of marriage yesterday. It is really hard for me to believe that it has been 20 years ago that I put on a white dress, met my dad at the back of the church and walked down the isle to become the wife of a man that I loved so deeply. I had no idea that day what the future would hold for me and if anyone would have told me what my life would looked like 20 years later I would have had a very good laugh. I am thankful that day that I didn't know what was ahead- all of the joys, sorrows, blessings and heartaches that were to come.Honestly if someone would have told me that I would have six (and maybe seven) kids I might have ran the other direction that day.

The past 20 days have been a journey down memory lane and I have enjoyed every day. 20 days before our anniversary David handed me a note card and a gift. I had no idea that it was 20 days prior to our big day but I quickly found out. The first note card said, "Year 1" on the outside of the envelope. I opened the card and inside was written May 1992- May 1993 along with a note reminding me of all that took place that year. The gift that he gave me was a symbol of what he had written. Each day for the past 20 days I received such a gift.

Almost every day the notes in the cards made me cry.......some of the tears were very joyful and some were painful. There were times that I smiled as I thought back to the precious times such as the days when our children were each born, when we bought our first house (sight unseen because I was 9 month pregnant and it was half way across the US), when God called us to plant a church, my first trip to Ethiopia, when Tia and Garrett finally became ours. Then there were times of heart ache when we lost a baby, moved far away from everything we had ever known for seminary, the loneliness of being a new mom in a very small town, the doctor said that I was in heart failure, the nights I would ask David if I was going to die, the phone call saying that the twins were unadoptable. Each year held something different, something that had shaped me into who I am today.

As I think back over the past twenty years I am thankful for each season, the good seasons, the hard seasons, the growing seasons and the seasons that I would rather forget........each one God used to remind me of who He is. The times where He held me, the times He caught each tear, the times He celebrated with me, the times He wanted me to trust Him, the times He loved me, the times He made me wait because He knew that was best...........and to think He gave me someone to be His hands and feet right beside me all of the way- I am forever thankful for the love that He has given to me by giving me a husband who has loved me for these 20 years- Simply Amazing!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Those Don't Match......

This morning as I was fixing Tia's hair I had an interaction with Tia that God used to make me realize just how spoiled I am and to remind me of those who have so much less. As she entered our bathroom I noticed that she had on two white socks but they didn't match. One was taller than the other on her ankle above her shoes- Not much taller maybe a half inch. I finished fixing her hair and said, "Tia, you have on socks that don't match and so you need to go and change them before school." She quickly replied with a very puzzled look on her face, "Mom, they do match they are both white."

In that very moment as she looked at me with a face of confussion I realized just how ridiculous I am. Here is my precious daughter who went years with no socks or shoes looking at me as if I must be crazy. She looked at me with eyes to say....."You have to be kidding me. They are both white socks yet because they aren't exactly the same they aren't good enough for you?" God used those moments to say to me- Mendy, you are looking at a young girl who went years with no socks and no shoes and now her two white socks don't match and that is a big deal? What in the world are you thinking? Is it really a big deal that one sock is a little taller than the other- and just when was the last time you were thankful for socks that I have provided your family anyway?

I know that this sounds a little silly but as I stood there with Tia and David in our bathroom God convicted my heart of how I always want or need things to be a certain way and instead of thanking Him for things He has provided I often just want more. Really there is no harm in spending a day in second grade in mismatched white socks (If you see Tia today she may still have on mismatched socks- I didn't check to see if she changed them and I hope she still has them on). Today I am just thankful that my daughter has socks and shoes on her feet when so many around the world only dream of having something to protect their feet. My heart hurts to think that I am so consumed in making sure my kids look a certain way that I neglect to thank God for what He has provided for our family.

A few hours ago God changed my perspective using a small pair of white socks- What will He use today to change your perspective? Are you listening and ready for Him to change you?

“So I tell you, don’t worry about everyday life–whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn’t life consist of more than food and clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feedsthem. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not. “And why worry about your clothes? Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you? You have so little faith! “So don’t worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today." Matthew 6:25-34

Monday, April 16, 2012

They Should Pay You.......

Tonight as I was tucking our youngest son into bed he started asking me about Lemme. He wanted to know if Lemme knew that we were trying to adopt him, if we were going to get to bring him home soon, and what I thought Lemme had done today. After his questions about Lemme he started to ask why it took so long for us to get to come to bring him home. I told him that I was so sorry that it took so long and then I started telling him a story that I hadn't told him before. The story of our process to bring he and Tia home.

I shared with Garrett that God clearly told us that they were to be our children and that our adoption agency said that it would not be possible for them to be ours (he even giggled when I told him that I literally got sick in the Concord Mills parking lot on my birthday when the phone call came- I told him I would show him the spot next time we were there). I explained that Werke (his birth mom) couldn't be located and without her they couldn't be adopted. I explained that we loved them so much that we got on a plane to go to Ethiopia to look for his mom. I shared how amazing God was to help us find her within a few short hours of being in Ethiopia.

I went on to tell him that the process was long because the government had us fill out many papers (many was an understatement here for those of you who haven't experienced it!), we had to be fingerprinted many times, we had to have a home study completed, and paperwork had to be finished in Ethiopia as well. He had questions about each thing that I had listed. This boy knows how to ask some questions and he also knows how to prolong bedtime.......

He had the most questions about the home study and I tried to answer each one in a way that he would understand. His last question about the home study was, "Mom, when the lady came and looked at our home did she make you pay her for writing about our good house and good family?" I shook my head and answered, "Yes." He then wanted to know how much money she wanted for making sure we were a nice family with a house that he could live in. I then said, "Garrett, the homestudy cost about $2,500." He didn't miss a beat and he said, "Mom, the government, the homestudy lady and the finger print place- They should pay you for being a nice family. You made a nice place for us to live and you were a nice family and why would they make you pay? I just don't get it at all!"

I sat quietly after his last question and statement as tears welled up in my eyes and thought if he only knew the entire expense and process. I explained that things but not people cost money- I shared that I would have paid any amount I needed to pay to make sure I had everything I needed to make sure he could be mine. I explained that when God said that he was to be my son that I was willing to do anything required to follow God and bring him home. I hugged him and made a promise that I would do the same for his brother, Lemme.

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

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Just a warning........this is raw emotion from a mom who is in disbelief that she is old enough to have a daughter one year away from college - I have heard that these are normal emotions for a mom at my stage (thanks to those friends who have shared their experiences with me) so here goes:

Three years ago when this photo was taken I had no idea what the next few years would hold. I was entering the world of having a teenage daughter for the first time and as excited as I was, I had a great deal of fear. Three years later I look ahead and feel the same feelings as I watch my oldest grow up so much faster than I could have dreamed that she would.

This week has been full of emotion for me. I have laughed, I have cried, I have prayed (and prayed), I have been deep in thought and I have tried not to think........I remember taking this photo of Megan when she was thirteen like it was yesterday. I remember feeling as if God was saying, "Mendy, You have helped to give her wings and it is almost time to let her fly." That day I quickly wiped a tear as I finished snapping the picture on that precious trip that Megan and I were able to take alone for her thirteenth birthday as I realized that my role as her mother was starting to change.

Megan is an amazing young lady. She amazes me with the way that she serves our family and more importanly our God. She has a cute smallgroup of kindergarteners that she teaches every Sunday morning, she leads worship in our high school ministry each week, she loves singing in Kidstuf , she is a patient and loving big sister, and she loves to fill our basement with friends any chance that she has. It has been a joy to watch her grow so much over the last few years- It hasn't been without its challenges but it has been so sweet to watch her become who God has created her to be.

Sunday afternoon we drove almost five hours to Greenville, North Carolina to attend a campus visit on Monday at East Carolina University with Megan. As we toured the campus on Monday morning reality set in that a year from now Megan will be finishing up her senior year of high school and heading off to college. As I looked around the campus I could imagine her there. I could see her full of life and full of activity enjoying every second of campus life. Yet as silly as it seems, I was so excited for her but my heart was breaking for me. For the time that was over, never to be relived.

I certainly don't want to be selfish but as I look ahead I see how quickly my time with her living in our home will vanish. I know that we have five more children (and hopefully six soon) here at home yet I know that when one child leaves our family dynamics will never be the same. When my primary job for sixteen years has been to pour my life into making sure our kids are happy, well adjusted, healthy and that they know how much God loves them- It is hard to think that my role will be trasitioning with Megan. It has transtioned so much over the years but this transition will no longer be daily. I know that we have over a year but I know how quickly that year will pass when I start looking at it in months, weeks and days.

The next year is filling up fast for Megan. She already has plans this summer that will take her to Mexico to nanny for some good friend of ours who are serving as missionaries for three weeks, she is going to be a chaprone for a kid's camp for a week, attend camp with her high school community, cousins camp for a week, a week with my parents, another missions trip to Mexico and then summer will quickly be over. I am thrilled with the choices that she is making and the places that God is using her. I certainly don't want to hold her back and I am praying that I will be the mother that she needs for me to be as she begins to fly more and more on her own each day.

Just last night I was at soccer practice watching our youngest three practice when two sweet little girls from our church came walking past. They were giggling like little three and four year olds giggle and as I watched them I felt tears forming in the corners of my eyes. I thought to myself.......that season is over for you Mendy, never to return. I quickly heard God whisper, "Yes, but you loved your kids well in that season." I had to smile as I thought back to the mischief days of Megan and Kaylee being toddlers.

As I drove away from the soccer field alone last night I thought back to the past sixteen years and God reminded me of the special moments and it was a precious time of Him reminding me that I have done what He has called me to do- Mother my children well. Have I done it perfectly? No. Will I continue to mess up? Yes, but His grace is enough to not only cover me and my mess ups but my also my grown up daughter who is spreading her wings. He reminded me once again that he loves her more than I do. There was such a sweet joy in the car as I drove and just as scripture says, "I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth." 3 John 1:4

I know the next year will pass quickly yet I also know that I am going to be intentional with every moment. What about you? How much time do you have left to invest in those that are most important to you? You will never get this time back. What are you doing today to show them how much they are treasured?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Mountain ahead......

It has been a month since I have taken time to sit and blog. Some of that is due to having a busy life but part of it is out of complete and total fear. Now I know that over and over God says in His word to not to be afraid yet my emotions sometimes take over my knowledge of who He really is. So here is where we are-
After almost eighteen months of our son asking about and praying for his best freind Lemme, after countless times of mentioning him here on this blog and after hours and hours of prayer we have stepped in to try to bring Lemme home. Yes, I am crying and shaking just typing this because of the uncertainty of the entire situation that is in front of us. The details are so unsure and just as we have seen in the past God will need to move some huge mountains for this to become a reality.
To be honest sometimes I look at our crazy, busy life and think how in the world are we going to add another child into this mix? Yet, each night when I hear my son (or daughter) pray words such as, "God, thank you for this perfect family for me and Tia. Thank you for bringing us here to be loved and cared for. Thank you for giving me a mom and a dad" I know that we have room for one more to feel loved and cared for here as a Henderson.
If you know our family very well at all, you know that stepping into the world of adoption the first time we were very concerned about the thoughts and feelings of our children towards adding to our family. We spent hours talking and praying about what our life would look like and how so many things would change. We did some preadoption couseling as a family. Our kids (all six) have adjusted amazingly well and we praise God for that. I would think that with six kids in our family at least one would feel that our family is complete. This simply is not the case- all six are begging and pleading with us to bring Lemme into our family.
We again have reminded them of how things will change for each of us. How we will need to share each other, we will need to sacrifice some of the fun things that we do as a family, and we will need to completely give up somethings yet they all six pray each day that Lemme will be able to come home soon.They amaze me and humble me. I am very selfish and to see my children willing and ready before I have been willing and ready makes me ashamed of my heart yet it gives me great joy in knowing how He is shaping their precious lives. I think that spending six weeks in Ethiopia at the ages of 6, 9, 12, and 14 changed Lindsay, Jacob, Kaylee and Megan's lives forever- They each have a perspective on life that some will not have in a lifetime. Of course living there for 4 or 5 years shaped Garrett in Tia forever as well.
The road ahead is very long and sometimes when I look ahead I want to turn and run (Good thing David is speaking on Jonah right now to remind me what may happen if I do). I remember the sleepless nights, hours of tears and the pain the journey was to bring Tia and Garrett home. I remember the stress it was on our marriage, the weight that it was on our kids, the questions that I couldn't answer, the endless phone calls and paperwork, the fact that we had no money for adoption when we first stepped in, the fact that we started out to adopt one little boy and the list goes on and on. I am just not sure that I am ready for another battle such as this!
If I stop to ponder each of those things that I want to run from, I am reminded that God used each of these to shape me into who I am now. The sleepless nights up praying taught me that my hope is in Him alone- I can't do anything apart from Him. Our marriage is stronger today because during the stress of the adoption we took time to work on the tough overlooked places of our marriage. Our kids got to see that when the world said that something was impossible our great God showed them that He is in control and that when we follow Him He will make a way. My kids know that David and I don't have all of the answers- They had hard questions about why God would call us to do the impossible and they then got to see Him make a way for us to do it. The endless phonecalls gave me a special friend that I will cherish for the rest of my life, Nicco. The paperwork taught me that even as disorganized as David and I sometimes are we can work together and accomplish anything He places in front of us. One of my greatest fears is the financial piece and I can't help but get completely choked up thinking about the day that our family received a twenty thousand dollar check from a family that we had never met. It shakes me to my core that I dare question if God will provide. When I think about the fact that we set out to adopt only one child, I can't imagine life without both of our sweet twins.
So this is where we are- Lemme needs to be completely paper ready (which from our understand he is almost there- we have located his living family memebers and this makes it a little easier). We then will begin the process of gathering the funds needed (If you feel led to be a part of this piece please contact us) and we have no idea how this will be acomplished but He knows. We will redo our paperwork (Yikes.....I remember the stacks of documents on our desk and it makes me crazy thinking about it). When we have Lemme's paperwork, finances in place and our US paperwork we will file in court in Ethiopia. The waiting we hope will not be as long as with Tia and Garret because we know this time what the process is like.
I ask that you pray for Lemme. He has no idea that we are in the process of trying to bring him home. After almost four years (Yes, four years) of living in an orphanage seeing friend after friend leave with their forever family he must be heartbroken. He must feel that nobody cares for him. He must question why everyone else is picked and he has to remain. He must feel that something is wrong with him to get overlooked each time. I simply can't imagine how he must long to be loved. We can't imagine giving him the hope that he has a family until we are completely sure that we will be able to bring him home. Pray for God to give him a joy that can only come from Him each day as he waits.
Pray for our family. Pray that our kids (especially Tia and Garrett) will understand that this is a LONG process. Each day they ask when he will come home. I answer by saying I don't know and then they ask if it will be next week. It is so hard to say that it might be next year when they know first hand where Lemme is living and how he feels living there. Pray for the six of them to have patience in the process and pray that they each grow as they did while waiting last time. Pray for Megan- She longs to have Lemme here and as she quickly approaches her college years(a year early if you haven't heard that news) I long for her to have time here in our family with him prior to going to college.
Pray for David and I. Pray that during the ups and downs of the next few month that God would show us how to love each other well. That on the stressful days God would give us a peace that only He can give. Pray for us to be patient, kind, and yet persistant when we need to be with each other and with those who we will be working with in Ethiopia. Pray that when others question us (because they already have- My favorite is "When is enough children enough?") we will have the grace to answer kindly.
Pray for the nine of us. Pray that God would go before us and come around behind to shield and protect us. Pray that if God choses to close this door that we would rest in Him knowing that all we are ask to do is follow Him. We know now that He is asking that we fight for Lemme to be a Henderson- In each step we will follow Him closely and trust that He has a plan. Pray that as we wait we will not see the mountain ahead but that He would light each tiny step in front of us so brightly that we know exactly where to step to turn this party of 8 into a party of 9.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Father's Love........

My four girls really have no idea how blessed they are. I pray that one day they realize what a treasure God gave them when he allowed them to be David's daughters. Very rarely do I share personal interactions that David or I have with our kids but this week a letter that David wrote to our daughter impacted me in a way that made me want to share.
This past Thursday our oldest daughter, Megan, turned sixteen years old. For this very special occasion in her life David wrote a letter. When he handed it to me to read I had no idea the emotions that would overwhelm me as I read it. I literally was weeping out loud as I thought of the love that he had for her and more important the love that her heavenly father has for her.
Here are the precious words that my husband communicated to his oldest daughter- I pray that these words would change and shape you if you are a teenage girl, a dad, a mom or anyone waiting for God to provide someone to love you the way you deserve to be loved......

About sixteen years and seven months ago we got some bad news on our second visit to the doctor. It seemed like you might not make it through the pre-born portion of your life. I went into full prayer and action mode – calling everyone I knew for prayer and racing around Dallas TX to find the right medicine that the doctor had prescribed. At this point we didn’t know if you would be a son or a daughter, but this was the first instance I can remember of what it felt like to be a dad and have a child whom you love with a fierce intensity. I’m so glad you arrived safe and healthy. As we brought you home from the hospital a new clarity started to grow – it wasn’t just about becoming a dad, it was about being a dad to a daughter. And I remember whispering to you a phrase that I have said thousands of times since, “I’ll always love you.” It was sixteen years ago, but it is easily today.

One day, if God allows, you will know how deeply a parent loves a child. It is an irrational but unmistakable force that beats through the heart of a parent. But you will never know how intensely a father loves a daughter. A father’s love is tough for me to describe. It is a combination of strength and softness that sometimes is confusing, unless you are the dad – because you know what it feels like and how genuine and pure it is. A father’s love hovers over the delicate treasure of his daughter’s life in both strong and soft ways. This is why sometimes I’m so “over-the-top” about any influence that would come in your life and at the same time I can be a “pushover” when it comes to giving you what you want. But a loving dad knows that a daughter thrives inside a safe barrier – and that barrier is who I am. I am a preserving force trying to counteract the millions of forces that are constantly trying to destroy the innocence of your life at every stage.

In twenty-two years of serving others in ministry, I have seen many women weep with a deep ache when they look back on their life and cannot see or feel the protective barrier of a father’s love. It is a deep, painful cry that is filled with regret and sorrow. Girls need dads. And when that force is not felt, there is a cruel reality that invades. The worst thing a dad can do sometimes is nothing. And yet that is what our world wants to relegate us dads to – worthless, uninvolved, uncaring and unimportant. I have a unique vantage point, where I can see the brokenness of young ladies who have been deprived of this force. They are vulnerable (but seemingly strong) young women who seek self-worth in the affection of a young man – having never received it from a dad. The soft, powerful force of a dad’s love shakes the cruelty of the world from a daughters heart and makes an enduring impression on her life like no other influences can. It is amazing what showing love at eight does for a little girl when she is twenty-eight or thirty-eight. It builds a confident foundation for that girl to stand on for the rest of her life.

The first sixteen years have hopefully been fun, full of experiences and joys that you will always look back on and smile. They are foundational and not insignificant, but I have formed the majority of these years. The next sixteen years will be an adventure of you launching out and into your own experiences… a season that forms the rest of your life. You will face the challenge of turning your deep childlike faith in Jesus, that I have led you to, into a mature trust of God that is forged as you decide to trust him time after time. The pursuit of purity, that you have begun, will need to grow in intensity as the pressures of our culture press in on you. And your beautiful, selfless heart for “the least of these” in our broken world will face the challenge of getting crowded out by the million other opportunities (both good and evil) that will be presented to you.

You don’t fully grasp it now, but some day in the middle of some difficult days, you will discover what I have been doing for all these years. The words that I whispered to you for many years will come back and in the depth of your pain (and sometimes in the middle of your free fall) you will suddenly feel this foundation beneath you – soft but strong saying “I will always love you.” I know you love me and I know you respect me more than any other man on earth. However, I haven’t been molding your delicate heart all the years to chase after me, but to run with purpose to our God. My leadership is intended to just give you a small (and imperfect) glimpse of the incredible power that is over all things, including you. I know our God will catch you – softly but with unmistakable strength.

When that time comes, my love that leads you to His love will be my absolute greatest gift to you. A picture of a powerful and tender-hearted God, which I have revealed to you interaction after interaction and pursuit after pursuit, will come and catch you. My own love, however incomplete and imperfect, will make more sense to you in the new understanding of His complete and perfect love. In that moment, my hope is that you would say, “God is so good, He loves me always” followed by “Thanks, daddy!” And I will be content with my love seeming small as you are swept up in His relentless, overwhelming love. You are not mine… you are His. And I will rejoice as you worship Him because you know Him and you have tasted and seen that He is good.

I hope that my care for you brings you a clear understanding of the love of our Savior. Unconditional. Tender. Sacrificial. Consistent. Present. I hope that my true affection is a contrast to the multiple deceptions that masquerade as love in this world. I hope that the sight of your daddy in all-out worship of Christ gives you the courage you need to raise your own heart up in praise for everyone to see. I hope my authentic and transparent confession of my own sin and weakness will drive you to the feet of Jesus when you see your own sin. I hope that you will not simply mimic my faith, but truly embrace Jesus Christ as the central focus of your own.

Sweet daughter of mine, please do not settle. Love Christ completely. And then love a man who loves Christ more than you – and loves you more than himself. Be attracted to tenderness, self-restraint, sacrifice, consistency and humility. Love a man who does not fear your emotions but fears our Lord. Don’t marry a boy… no matter how old he is. Do not fall for the first young man who shows you attention. Rather, follow a man who imitates the love and grace of Jesus.

I am sad about the general condition of the average young man (and I’m working hard to improve this as a father your brothers). I regret that the average young man knows more sports trivia than scripture, understands more gaming than managing a budget, and treats a gun or a dog with more respect than they do a lady. I realize a godly man is hard to find. But find it. Or better yet let him find you. Lose yourself so deeply in our God, that to find you, he has to seek Him. Otherwise you will spend your life raising the man you hoped you married. The church and this world are filled with boys masquerading as men. Let them pass. Trust God. And wait patiently.

The man you are looking for is not a boy. He is a servant. He cares for your needs more than he does his own. If I am at all the man I claim to be, I hope you can look at your father’s love for your mother and know what I am talking about. I hope your heart will recognize it when you see it, because you have grown up with it and it is familiar to you. The man who will lay down his life for yours, you can gladly give yourself to him. The man who sacrifices himself is easy to serve sacrificially.

I have only intended my love to serve as a high-water mark in your heart. No love except Christ’s love will rise above mine. This way, when a man – whom I pray for often – comes along and exceeds your father’s love, you will willingly and gladly give him your heart. And I (secretly desiring to shoot him and bury his remains in an undisclosed location) will lovingly pass on my treasure to that man.

This ring is a symbol and a reminder of my protective love. And on that day, when my love is surpassed in your heart by the love of another true man, we can both rejoice as you gladly give your whole self to him. On that day you will enter into a whole new experience of discovering the love of Jesus Christ and who his bride is in response… and you will receive another ring. Until then let this ring guard you and prepare you to be fully ready to embrace all the blessing that our perfect heavenly father long to lavish on us.


I will always love you,


I can't wait to see the perfect ring that she and David pick out together- I look forward to the years seeing it on her hand. I also pray for the day it is removed. The day that I see this faithful loving father give our daughter away to a man who exceeds David's love for my precious Megan!