December 26, 2008: Merry Christmas! We had a very WHITE Christmas. We got a total of 14 inches in the last six days! We woke up Christmas morning and delivered warm, homemade cinnamon rolls to our neighbors! My parents and Godparents came over, but barely made it with 4-wheel drive and chains! It is the most snow we have gotten in 40 years. We aren't used to snowstorms like this here so the city doesn't have the equipment to keep the side roads plowed. Ice pack isn't too bad to drive on but yesterday it started melting enough to make a nice slushy, slimy, slippery mess. We did have a really nice day. The snowfall was beautiful, the house was warm, the food was delicious and, of course, we loved our company. We felt very blessed. The only thing missing was our beautiful girl in Ethiopia... 28 days until our second court date.
This year was our second Christmas with Rebekah. It was fun this year because she understood that there were surprises under the paper! She would scream and squeal as she opened the present before she even knew what the present was!! She's come such a long way since we first brought her home! She will be 3 on January 17th! We are looking forward to the New Year!! I'm hoping my sister and her family will be able to move here from Colorado, we'll get Elizabeth home and hopefully just live life for a while without all the waiting and anticipation of our crazy adoptions. Whew. I'm ready for a break in that arena.
December 22, 2008: So the first official day of winter was set off by a huge snow storm here. We got 10 inches of snow with a nice ice storm in between. We had 7 inches of snow, then a layer of 3/4-inch ice and then another 3 inches of snow on top of that. It hasn't snowed this much since 1980. It has been fun, fun and more fun! The boys have been sledding, shoveling driveways for money and we've just enjoyed sitting in the house, playing games, making goodies, watching Christmas movies and taking walks in the snow. It was actually the best weekend we've had in a long time. We just wish we had E home!! I'm posting a few pictures from our weekend.
December 12, 2008: We didn't pass court. Our new court date is January 21st. The judge wanted more information on E's father's death. This is very common. We were so disappointed to hear this news. E's uncle even brought her to court and stood before the judge with her. The good news is that E knows she is being adopted. We've wondered if she even knew about us but now we know she does. As our emotions swirled over the news of waiting some more, I am challenged to hold steadfast to my trust in the Lord. To say I trust the Lord is much different than truly walking in it. I can honestly say that I do. We prayed hard for this court date and we felt so surrounded by all the prayers of our family and friends. God knows the exact time we need to fly and I know He holds E close to Him. This morning Patterson took me to grab a coffee at Peet's. We were standing waiting for our coffee when the song, "Oh Come Let Us Adore Him" came on. It was sung by a black choir and was so beautiful and filled the room with those sweet words. I stood there holding back my tears. I found myself singing those words, as my heart ached at waiting longer to hold my daughter, but realizing that I do so adore my Father. He is worthy of all praise and honor and glory! God we do praise you and we trust you. E is your daughter, too, and we know that you are preparing our hearts to meet each other in just the right time.
December 11, 2008: Holy cow. The day is almost here. Our caseworker said if she found out in the middle of the night she will email. If she finds out in the morning she will call. I will try not to wake up and check my email all night. Yeah, right.
It's Patterson's birthday today so we are celebrating tonight with spaghetti and meatballs and homemade chocolate chip cookies for dessert. It's funny that our last name is Cake but Patterson doesn't like cake. It's birthday cookies for him. So tonight we have a little distraction for which I am grateful. So many people have emailed and said they are praying for us. I so appreciate the sweet messages and encouragement. Ok, well, I guess I'll post tomorrow.
December 9, 2008: Whoa. Three more days to go. Gosh, this week is just CREEEEEEEEPING by. It's like watching a turtle in slow motion!!! I find myself wanting to pray for our court date to pushing it out of my mind because I get can't stand to even think about it. The only other day I felt this nervous was when we were waiting for the phone call to find out if we were going to be chosen as Rebekah's parents. We were up against a lot of other families. I remember it like it was yesterday. I can hardly believe we are standing here again. Rebekah has been home for 16 months already. The boys are doing well dealing with their crazy mom. They keep asking me what the "plan" is going to be for Friday morning while we wait for a phone call. I think they are asking more for their own sake in hopes that I don't drive them nuts. Nathanael rebukes me if the phrase, "IF we pass court" comes out of my mouth. He won't hear it. He quickly corrects it to, "WHEN we pass court." That child has amazing faith!! If I haven't mentioned it before, the court proceedings will actually occur while we are sleeping Thursday night, as it is actually daytime in Ethiopia. Please pray for us before you go to bed or if you get up for that midnight snack or you have to get up to go to the bathroom!!! HAHAHA! I can't say how much sleep I will get that Thursday night. Thursday is Patterson's birthday so that would be a great present! Friday is my parents' 38th anniversary so that would be a great present for them!!! Ok, I have to quit typing. The more I write the more butterflies I get and the more my heart races. Screeeeeeaaaaammmmmm!!!!
December 5, 2008: I had meant to post the following entry from the book, "My Utmost for His Highest" a while ago.I had read this not too long after we lost the girls and it filled me with so much peace and challenged my faith. Interestingly, the date from this entry is May 8th, my dad's birthday. My dad is also an archer. .
Revelation 3:10 - "Because you have kept the word of my perseverence.."
Patience is more than endurance. A saint's life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says, "I cannot stand any more." God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His puprose is in sight, then He lets fly. Trust yourself in God's hands. For what have you need of patience just now? Maintain your relationship to Jesus Christ by the patience of faith. "Though He slay me, yet will I wait for Him"
Faith is not a pathetic sentiment, but robust vigorous confidence built on the fact that God is holy love. You cannot see him just now, you cannot understand what He is doing, but you know Him. Shipwreck occurs where there is not that mental poise which comes from being established on the eternal truth that God is holy love. Faith is the heroic effort of your life, you fling yourself in reckless confidence in God.
God has ventured all in Jesus Christ to save us, now He wants us to venture our all in abandoned confidence in Him. There are spots where that faith has not worked in us as yet, places untouched by the life of God. There were none of those spots in Jesus Christ's life, and there are to be none in ours. "This is life etenral, that they might know Thee." The real meaning of life eternal is a life that can face anything it has to face without wavering. If we take this view, life becomes one great romance, a glorious opportunity for seeing marvelous all the time. God is disciplining us to get us into this central place of power.
December 4, 2008: Tomorrow marks one week until our court date!! We are so nervous and excited!! We had a great Thanksgiving with Patterson's parents and really enjoyed all the visits from our friends in the last month. Our photographer friend took Jeremiah on a "photo walk" to give him a few tips on taking pictures. He really enjoyed it and I can see he is already using some of the techniques!! Thanks, Tracey!!
If we pass court on December 12th, we are hoping to travel around January 10th. As for the remaining adoptions fees, we almost have enough money!! God has been so faithful and so have His people!! We have had some anonymous donations that have paid a big chunk of our remaining fees!! We have been so blown away!!! We are also so thankful to those of you have ordered calendars, too!!! It has meant the world to Jeremiah!! He has been successful with his project and is so happy to be able to contribute to helping get his sister home!!
Next week is Patterson's birthday, my parent's anniversary and Sarsina's court date, all within two days of each other. We hope that we pass because that will give us a huge reason to really celebrate!! Please pray we pass!!! We are so ready!!
November 18, 2008: Wow. What a week! We had friends and more friends!! So this last weekend, our Canadian friends, Jonathan and Tracey, drove down to spend the weekend with us. Jonathan took over my kitchen and cooked us a lovely meal (in between snide comments about my pathetic array of kitchenware). But, he managed just fine and produced a delicious Indian meal. We drank coffee, talked of "holy things" (you have to have seen Nacho Libre to get it, sorry), and just all around had a great weekend. It was great to see them, as Tracey and I haven't seen each other in 17 years, except for a few months ago when we had our little college reunion. It is amazing how quickly you can love someone and just pick up where you left off.
We have been in the process of trying to raise money for the remaining fees for the adoption. Jonathan and Tracey are in the process of helping us do it. We feel so blessed and are excited to share with you what God is doing. Stay tuned...
November 13, 2008: We received our first calendar today!!! They are so beautiful!!!! You really need to order one or two or three or four..... I'm so proud of Jeremiah!!!! Go see his website - www.bringmysisterhome.com
November 12, 2008: Well, there isn't much to update. We are waiting for our caseworker to return from Ethiopia. She will be home late tomorrow night. We are hoping to hear from her this weekend, as she was supposed to have delivered a package to Elizabeth from us with our photo album. Hopefully Elizabeth knows who we are now. Our court date is one month from today! Meanwhile, my friend Ashley from Idaho came and visited with me for a few days. She brought her kids and I was able to meet Olivia, her new daughter from Ethiopia. We had a really nice time. I'm hoping next time I see her I will have my Ethiopian daughter, too!
Jeremiah has sold some calendars. He has been logging the hours spent working on them and keeping track of orders and the amount of money he has made. He is using this project to add to his high school transcripts. I am so proud of him. We have received some really nice notes and we have been very blessed by them. I will post when we have more news.
November 3, 2008: Copy and paste the code below for a blog badge (courtesy Jenn Bailey - "Thanks, Jenn!") supporting Jeremiah's website - www.bringmysisterhome.com!
November 3, 2008:
Dear Family and Friends,
November 2, 2008: I guess October 9th was our big day. We spent the previous six weeks grieving and healing from losing the girls. Looking back, it was a very poignant time for our family. Once we were passed the shock and hysterics of the news, the sadness and grief truly set in because we realized this was real; we were never going to bring them home. We trusted the Lord immeasurably through this time. He was our comfort and our strength and He showed us that even though we didn’t understand and it hurt, that He felt our pain and walked with us hand in hand each day. He gave me a scripture for our family. Patterson would quote it to me on the difficult days as a reminder. It was Jeremiah 31:15-17:
“Thus says the Lord, a voice is heard in Ramah, Lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more. Thus says the Lord, restrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, declares the Lord.”
As the days passed, we found ourselves feeling grateful for the time we had to love these two girls and for the opportunity we had to pour out our hearts in prayer and supplication to the Lord for them every day. In the end we knew our time wasn’t wasted but that it was an investment that had eternal significance in two children’s lives. This brought us peace and joy and, after a time, we were ready to move on.
Patterson and I began to inquire again regarding other children. A new agency sent us a waiting list. We sat down together and began looking over names and sibling groups. I felt it was time and I was ready to do it. After we began, I felt my heart sort of struggling along and I wondered if I was really ready. I found that I felt little emotion when looking at the kids. When we were done we decided that our kids weren’t on the list and we just needed to wait. The next day I felt totally overwhelmed. The thought of searching through a sea of orphans to find our children seemed such a daunting task and, well, maybe I wasn’t ready. That afternoon I found myself completely losing it on the kids. Yes, I made them all cry (except for Jeremiah who was, lucky for him, in the basement). I ran down there to escape and cool down. As I paced the floor, I cried to the Lord and told Him I desperately needed His intervention. I told Him I was tired of feeling as if we were groping around in a dark room trying to find direction. This wasn’t a calm, logical conversation; this was a freak out, desperate, emotional conversation with the Lord. I begged the Lord to do SOMETHING, ANYTHING that would give us direction. Everything we tried to do with our adoption just ended with us starting over. I felt like every time we made progress, we ended up being pushed back to the starting line. When I was done, I dried my eyes, took a deep breath and headed upstairs, a calm, rational mom, ready to apologize to her poor kids.
Three hours later, Patterson called. He said our caseworker had just called him to ask if we might consider a 14-year-old girl from Ethiopia (I will use Elizabeth for her name, as this will be her middle name and we can’t publish her Ethiopian name until she is legally ours). Our caseworker got emotional as she told this young girl’s story. Elizabeth was living with her grandmother because her mother had died. Actually, the Grandmother had five children, four of whom are now deceased so the Grandmother was left with the five grandchildren. Grandmother couldn’t afford to keep all five grandchildren so arrangements were made for Elizabeth’s four cousins to be adopted, leaving Elizabeth (as she was the oldest) to live alone with her grandmother. In July, when our caseworker was in Ethiopia, the Grandmother approached her and told her she was sick. She wanted to get the paperwork done for Elizabeth so she, too, could be adopted and implored our caseworker to find her a US family. The paperwork was done. Last month, the Grandmother passed away. Eliabeth cared for her until she died; this left Elizabeth completely alone. As the conversation progressed, our caseworker shared that she and her husband had two of Elizabeth’s cousins. They were desperate to find her a family as soon as possible. That evening, our caseworker sent us pictures of this young girl. It didn’t take us long (we had really decided before we saw her) that this was our girl. We called our caseworker and with great joy and elation told her we would take Elizabeth.
I immediately fell before the Lord and thanked Him for answering my plea! Psalm 34:15-18 came to my mind:
“The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against evildoers, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
I was completely overwhelmed at God’s timing. He heard my cry and He answered me! Not only have we gained Elizabeth, but we have also gained a new family in Kentucky, as our children are cousins! That has made it even more special! I have also spent the last seven months reading a blog about a family who adopted two older kids from Ethiopia. She doesn’t know who I am as I more or less am one of those blog stalkers. I was naturally drawn to her blog because her adopted kids are older and she has a really funny and honest way of sharing about life with two newly adopted kids. One day I received an email from her and recognized her name right away. I thought, “Why is she emailing me? She doesn’t even know who I am?” Her email started out like this, “Dear Cake Family, You probably don't know us, but we are the Ellerbee Family. We adopted Menkem and Filemon 8 months ago. They are Elizabeth’s cousins.”
I about fell out of my chair!!! I consistently read three or four blogs! I had been reading about Elizabeth’s cousins for the last 7 seven months and didn’t know it!!!!!! God really added extra special touches!!! Now we know both of the families who have Elizabeth’s cousins. They have all sent me pictures of the cousins together in Ethiopia. It is really, totally amazing.
So, here we are, not even one month later, and we have been given a court date for Elizabeth. It is December 12th!!!! On that day, the courts will decide if Elizabeth will become legally ours. Hopefully, all the paperwork will be in order and they won’t need extra documentation. We are very excited and still look back in wonder at all that God has done this year. We enter the Thanksgiving holiday very thankful, indeed. God has turned our mourning into dancing! We are hoping to travel in January. What a wonderful way to begin the year. Please keep us in your prayers and forgive us for the lack of updates. Only recently have we been able to articulate everything that has happened in our family these last three months. Life is never easy. Things happen that we don’t understand, but God walks with us. I’ll leave you with Psalm 37:39-40:
“But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord. He is
their strength in time of trouble. And the Lord helps them, and delivers
them; He delivers them from the wicked, and saves them, because they take
refuge in Him.”
October 29, 2008:
October 11, 2008:
Once upon a time, there was a family from Washington who became aware of a need: orphans in Ethiopia. Their hearts led them to respond to the need. Their heads said, “be cautious, be patient, think it through!” In response to both, they began to explore the details, to educate themselves and to proceed tentatively. They learned of an organization that provided training on adopting older children from Ethiopia and signed up eagerly. Their heads approved and their hearts were placated.
Prior to the training, a DVD showed up in the mail from the training organization. It contained interviews with many waiting Ethiopian orphans. With fear and trepidation the family watched the video and hearts ruled the day. They fell deeply in love with two sisters, 10 to 14 years old, and began the daunting, arduous process of bringing them home. Their heads most likely decried this as hasty foolishness, but nothing can stand against a parent’s love for their child, least of all logic.
The next eight months were a bumpy ride, a constant tug-of-war between heart and head: hearts falling deeper and deeper in love; heads growing more and more concerned. The paperwork was done, the bureaucracy seemingly overcome. Then pictures arrived with a letter from the sisters: “Dear mom and dad…” Even the heads conceded: there is no turning back now!
On September 11, 2008, the family received terrible news: the adoption would not continue. Due to confusion and third-world communication failures, the sisters had been promised to another family. Heads said, “God knows. He is in control. It must be what is best for the sisters.” Hearts barely heard over the weeping.
Days and weeks passed, while hearts and heads struggled yet again. “What now. Dare we try again?” At first, hearts won most battles: “it hurts too much.” But heads persisted: “the hurt does not change the need.”
Once upon a time, there was a family in Ethiopia: a grandmother with five grown daughters with children of their own. Through unknown tragedy, each of the five daughters died, leaving the grandmother to care for five children. The grandmother knew she could not care for all five and set about finding them new families and new homes. Two went to a family in Kentucky; two more to another American family. One stayed behind, the oldest girl, to care for her grandmother who had become ill.
The girl turned 14 as her grandmother grew more fragile. Heads pleaded: “at age 15, the girl will be nearly too old to adopt! Her future is at stake.” The grandmother knew she was dying and asked the family from Kentucky to please find the girl a home. But hearts could not bear to leave the grandmother to die alone, though time was against them both.
About this time, the family in Washington began to cautiously and carefully explore the need once more. At first they experienced frustration and resistance and their hope and strength waned. Then an email came from an unexpected source: “there’s this family in Kentucky who helped us to adopt. Maybe you should call them?” Hearts were skeptical but heads figured: “what do we have to lose?”
The family from Washington told the family from Kentucky their story, about the two sisters, about their loss and sorrow and their continued desire to provide a home for orphans in need. At this point, the family from Washington was thinking perhaps a brother and sister, perhaps a little younger than 10 to 14 but were unsure. A change in ages or genders would require redoing much of the paperwork already in Ethiopia for sisters ages 10 to 14. The family from Kentucky told them about several brothers and sisters but it somehow just didn’t feel right. Heads said: “be patient. God knows.” Hearts wondered, “maybe we should give up, maybe this wasn’t meant to be.”
On October 8, 2008, the family from Kentucky received a phone call: the grandmother in Ethiopia was gone. The girl was all alone in the world and nearing 15 years old. “Please find her a family! Time is short! We need a family whose paperwork is complete and in Ethiopia!” Heads were dismayed: “Where will we ever find a family who has completed paperwork in Ethiopia for a 14-year-old girl?” Hearts suspected. God knew.
The family from Kentucky called the family from Washington and a miracle occurred. Somehow through all of the pain, heartache and confusion, through the tears and the prayers, through the seeming wrong turns and dead ends, the family in Washington and the family in Ethiopia, though still thousands of miles apart, became one. Heads and hearts rejoiced. The grandmother and God smiled. After all, nothing can stand against God’s love for his children, least of all logic.
October 5, 2008: Well, it has been almost a month since we learned that we would not be bringing Bassa and Telile home. As always, God is faithful and is turning our sorrow into joy, though this is an ongoing process. We reflect over the past several months and rejoice that we welcomed the girls into our hearts and into our family. Loving them has been an incredible blessing to us and we believe that our prayers and love have been an incredible blessing in their lives, though we may never know how or why. We are so thankful for the tremendous encouragement of our friends and family, their prayers, support and understanding throughout this adventure.
So, the question of the hour: what do we do know!? We're not entirely sure truthfully. Before we proceed, which we shall, we feel we need the wherewithal to open our hearts with faith, love and expectation just as we did with Bassa and Telile, without reservation. Unfortunately that is a little tougher this time around, so we are trying to be patient, to move forward cautiously, test the waters and see what God will bring.
One thing is certain: the adventure continues: "Life is either a great adventure or nothing"...Helen Keller
September 16, 2008:
As I’m building up this house
Why did You take this away? I wanted it
As I travel down this road
As You’re tearing down this house
September 11, 2008:
Dear Friends – It is with great sorrow yet with peace that surpasses our understanding that we share with you that we will not be able to complete the adoption of Bassa and Telile. We learned earlier this week that, due to a breakdown in communications and ensuing confusion between our adoption agency and the girl’s orphanage, another family has been in the process of adopting Bassa and Telile since sometime in July. We have received a trusted report that this new family is a wonderful, loving family and that they have spent time at Village of Hope with the girls and that the girls have grown very attached to them. In addition, this family is fortunate enough to be able to adopt two more older girls from Bassa and Telile’s orphanage.
It has been almost a year since we fell in love with these two girls. We have looked at their pictures and prayed for them each day, committing them to the Lord and asking that His will be done in their lives. Earlier this week, before we knew anything was amiss, both Rachelle and I felt a challenge in our hearts from the Lord: “Can you carry the burden to love and pray for Bassa and Telile as if they are your daughters even if you never get to bring them home?” We have never been asked a more difficult question but in our weakness, only by His strength and His grace, our answer is, “Yes!”
We know that you have also fallen in love with these children as you have prayed for us and with us for them. We have all said in our hearts, “Lord we want what is best for them!” Now is our chance to prove we meant it. Please do not be angry. Please do not look to place blame. Please do not ask “why?!” God is sovereign. God is faithful. He is in control.
Please do continue to pray for the girls. Please pray that their adoption will be quick and that they will not suffer any further confusion or disappointment. Please pray for us as we continue this journey. We are still committed to adopting from Ethiopia. We find that we have even more room in our hearts for these children and are asking God to provide the resources that we need to consider adopting three children instead of just two.
Lastly, we are learning what it means to bring a sacrifice of praise to the Lord, bringing our pain and our heartache to Him as an offering. He is worthy.
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” – I Cor 13: 7
The Cake Family
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