Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"I'm Leavin' On A Jet Plane......

......don't know when I'll be back again..."

The words are true.  We have plane tickets booked for next Friday, June 8th!  We will be arriving in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Saturday night. 

Hmmmm.... if I were you, what would I be wondering?  Let's play, "20 Questions!"

1) Do we have a court date?  No.

2) Are we going on faith?  Yes.

3) Are we looking forward to serving with Bring Love In?  Yes.

4) Will we be able to meet our boys once we arrive?  Yes.

5) Will they be able to live with us?  No, not until we pass court.  But once we pass, they can live at the rental house with us.

6) Are we feeling a little crazy?  Yes, but in a good way.

7) Are we packing our house up for a 4 month stay?  No.  Talk about rationing. 

8) How many suitcases can we bring?  10, but I've already packed 7 with donations, our new sons' clothes, and some schoolbooks.  So now we have 3 left to pack with our family's clothes, food, and the Little Dresses for Africa that the women in our church have sewn for us to bring.  We are allowing only a few outfits per child (and us) and one bathing suit.  They get to bring a pair of flip flops, rubber boots (we'll be there during rainy season and the roads are mud), and they can wear their tennis shoes.  Everything else they want must fit into a backpack that will be their carry-on on the plane.  They must make some tough choices about what to bring.  It's good for them!

9) How am I going to keep my hair blond while we're there?  (That question was not really for you, okay?  Just talking to myself here.)  I'm not.  My talented hairstylist, Selina, took out my blond yesterday.  Sniff, sniff.  It looks good (or at least as good as it can get, since it's NOT BLOND), Selina, but I am mourning my blondness right now. Okay...moving on.  (Excuse me while I blow my nose.)

10) Was I being extremely shallow with my last question?  Fine.  Yes.  I know, I know... First World Problem.  Can I have an "Amen"?

Wait.  I just realized that for the next 4 months, at least, I can not be the recipient of any blond jokes.  I can make them.  Except that I don't know any.  Ok, somebody has to send me a blond joke.  Then I have to find someone who's feelings won't be hurt when I insult them with my blond joke.  Any takers?

11) What foods will you miss the most?  (Again, First World Problem.  Just hang with me here, people.)  CHEESE.  CHEESE.  CHEESE.  Cheese from the Publix Deli section.  Cheese on my nachos.  Cheese and crackers.  Grilled cheese.  Cheese in my salad.  Feta.  Aged White Cheddar.  Mozzarella.  Gouda.  Gorgonzola.  Blue Cheese.  Goat cheese.  Dear cheese, I know we have a love/hate relationship - my mouth loves you and my thighs hate you, but I will miss you more than words can say. 
Oh, are you still reading?  Also candy.  The other food group.  Starburst.  Jellybeans.  Skittles.  Gummiworms.  Life Savers.  Airheads.  Mentos.  I think I'm hyperventilating. 

12) Who's taking care of your funny farm (donkeys, cows, chickens, goat, dogs, and garden) while you're away?  My parents.  Yay for willing family and for a Dad who enjoys agriculture!

13)  Can you receive phone calls while you're gone?  We can Skype.  Apparently we now have an account.  We just have to learn how to operate it.

14) Are you scared of being in Ethiopia?  No.  Just the plane ride.  I hate planes.  I mean, I HATE PLANES.  They creep me out.  I don't understand them.  I would rather spend two months on a boat sailing to Africa than a day flying there.  But I guess that's not an option.

15)  How are you going to fill your days?  We will visit our boys, work with Bring Love In doing whatever they want us to do, eventually do school (yes, all the books are coming with us, much to the dismay of our children), and ?  We'll see about the rest.  

16)  What would you like people to know?  Wow.  Big one.  I would like people to know that it's okay to follow God's lead when you don't know where it's going to go. God is leading us to Ethiopia.  Is it going to be easy?  I don't think so.  Is it going to always be fun?  I don't think so.  But I am beside myself with anticipation of how God is going to move in the next few months.  

17)  What's it like to give up control?  Sometimes scary.  For most people I know, especially those of us in America, land of the abundant, control is something we are bred to have.  God, however, can laugh at our plans.  And that's okay.  Because He is in control.  Not me, not Alan, not America World Adoption Association, not Bring Love In Ministries.  God.  I am so thankful, I wouldn't have it any other way.

18)  Do you have a verse that helps you through this?  Oh my, yes.  Times 1000.  Maybe I could narrow it down to 100.  It's weird.  When I went to our friend, Mike's, funeral last week, his life verse was Micah 6:8 -  
"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?

To act justly(A) and to love mercy
and to walk humbly[a](B) with your God.(C"

and this is the verse I wanted for my life verse because I love it so much.  I turned to Alan and said, "I had no idea Mike's verse was the same as mine."  

So I guess that's it in a nutshell.  I want to act with justice.  I want to be merciful to the people we meet.  I want this time overseas to not be about us, but about God and His purposes.  For His glory alone.  Soli Deo Gloria (that one's already tattooed on my ankle.)  

19)  Who will we miss?  Everyone.  Our church family.  Our parents.  Our extended family.  Our friends.  There are some big events we are missing.  My Grandmother's ashes are being spread in the ocean and I won't be here.  My niece is due with her first baby in October, and I won't be here to see her belly grow really big.  My little nephew is going to learn how to crawl before I'm back.  But, yet, God will make all things new.  He will redeem any time lost.  I have faith in His Word.

20)  If we have questions, who can we ask?  Us. Go ahead.  Email us.  Facebook us.  It's okay.  Once we get to Ethiopia, we'll post pictures and updates here on the blog.  Please check in with us.  See where your donations are going. 

Know we love each and every one of you.  We are thankful for you.  We may be leaving on a jet plane and we don't know when we'll be back again, but we will carry you with us. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Home for Habi

This post is for Habi (short for Habtamu).

Can you spare $5?  If you look in your couch cushions, your laundry basket, the floor of your car, and the bottom of your purse, do you think you can come up with $5 in change? 

I want it for Habi. 

Click on this link for Habi's story.  He needs to come home.  Seriously, click right now and read Tiffany's post on this precious life.

This Sunday, as many of you know, there will be a shower at my church, EPC, for our trip to Ethiopia.  It's called, "Stock the Closet and Fill the Tubs".  We are collecting tubs of donations to take to Ethiopia for the orphanages and Bring Love In Ministries, as well as clothes for our boys.

If you are coming, would you please put an extra $5 in your purse for Habi?  I will collect it and see it gets to Tiffany.  They received the bill for the services to get a visa for Habi, his school fee bill, and the plane ticket home, and they are overwhelmed with the cost. 

BUT GOD.  But, God is always bigger.  Bigger than we can even imagine. 

As much as we need money for our trip and our boys, this need for Habi is even more urgent. 

So find your $5, find me, and I'll make sure that money finds Habi.

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’(K)- Matthew 25:40

March Madness

To my family that uses this blog to keep up with us:  I am behind.  Did you notice?  Let's replay from March...........

"Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?"  (That's a nursery rhyme, honey.)  The Kicklighter family garden was planted the last week in February, and when it began popping up in March, this is how it looked:

The last few weeks we have been picking and putting up all the garden goodies, so it doesn't look like that anymore!

Easton had a busy month in March.  He began his after-the-Strawberry-Festival time by spending hours drawing a replica of our house on the carport with sidewalk chalk.  It was completed with our long driveway winding around my Suburban.

On St. Patrick's Day, Easton celebrated his birthday with two friends at an ice-hockey rink.  No, they did not play hockey.  They went to shoot at each other in laser tag.  (I decided I would love to go to the ice hockey rink every day in the summer.  If I lived closer I would smuggle in books and snacks and wear a sweater and scarf and pretend I was up north in winter.  I'm sure my children are now relieved we don't live within easy driving distance.  Can't you hear it?  "What does your mom do for fun?"  " mom sits in a chair in a freezing room reading a book because she doesn't like the heat in Florida."  Yeah, that would go over well.)
After shooting at each other and burning off calories, the boys refueled with Chinese food.  They managed to put a lot of food away.  Just wait until they're teenagers!

The evening of St. Patty's Day our youth group had a fundraiser dinner at church.  Jayde was a server. 
Easton's family party took place at our house, as usual, and he loved this present:  a necklace.  He asked for months for a "boy" necklace, since he has two uncles that wear "boy" necklaces, and he wants to be just like them.
Gifts are always fun.....

And cookie cake is always delicious.....

But the best part is always having your family there to celebrate your life!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

News flash: I am NOT in control!

For the last couple weeks I have been pretty silent.  My mind has been reeling and I have been hoping I could write this post with good news.  I am happy to say I can. Either way, I want you to know that God is good.  Whether what I have to share with you had turned out completely different or stands as it is right now, God is and would still be good.  All the time. 

This is going to be a loooonng post.  But I have much to say about what God has taught me over the last few weeks. Hopefully you will read all the way to the end. 

For some time, I have felt like my throat is swollen and I have a lump when I swallow.  It's constant now.  I went to the doctor finally over a week ago. 

Let's leave off with those sentences and also say that 2 weeks ago I had an abnormal mammogram.  My doctor wanted to me to get a diagnostic mammogram and sonogram to find out what was going on.  It took a week to get the necessary paperwork from my doctor to schedule the appointment for the tests.  When finally scheduled, those tests were a week away. 

Now, let's give some background on family history.  My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 40's.  She underwent surgery, chemo, and radiation, and there is no sign of cancer today.  My sister had lymphoma in her 20's, which originated in her neck/throat.  She went through chemo, then it came back a few years later.  At that time she had a bone marrow transplant. Today she is healthy and gave birth to her first child a few months ago, when no one thought she would ever be able to get pregnant. 

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago.  My doctor says two things:  my breast has abnormalities and may have a tumor or cyst, and my throat may have a few different things wrong with it (but one of those could have been enlarged lymph nodes.  In that case they would have had to be biopsied.)  Hello, family history!

What did my mind think?  Duh.  The endless possibilities were running constantly through my head.  The big "C" word was one of them.  Cancer.  Oh yeah, I said it.  There's a reason my doctors check me frequently for cancer symptoms.  Because if you have family members with the history that mine have, you are more likely to be diagnosed as well.  I know that. Nothing new to me.  There have been times before that I have been worried about something going on in my body and feared the worst. (It's easy to do, right Dad?)  

However, none of those times before took place in the middle of bringing two beautiful boys home from Ethiopia.  This was new territory for me.  

Alan and I both were very aware of what a cancer diagnosis would mean.  "Y" and "P" would not be able to be our sons.  After seeing our faces, holding our pictures, and being told over and over that we were coming for them, they would have lost another set of parents.  And, ya'll, that thought broke me.  Seriously.  It wasn't the thought of being sick.  Really, it wasn't.  It was the thought of letting down two boys who have already been through things the rest of us can't imagine.  

I began to grieve for what might never be.  I don't mean to be rough or rude here, but if you have never been through the international adoption process, you have no idea just how a part of you your children become before you ever hold them in person.   God begins molding your hearts together before you wipe the first tear from their eye or hold their hand or tell them you love them.  Praise God, I have never yet lost a child, but I came as close to feeling like I was losing one as I ever have.  It was not pretty.

Where was my reliance on God, you might ask?  Oh, it was still there.  But just because you know God is "working all things together for the good of those who love Him", doesn't mean your emotions don't get the best of you from time to time. 

Enter a select group of friends.  I have amazing friends.  They are a blessing beyond belief.  I told a very small handful of people what I was going through, and my "prayer posse" began to work.  They beseeched the Lord on my behalf.  It is truly wonderful to know when you ask someone to pray for you, they are REALLY DOING IT.  I received texts, emails, cards, and phone calls from these ladies.  I was loved.  I was held. 

Then there were my "adoption" peeps.  A group of women who have adopted from Ethiopia or are in the process of adopting with our agency.  I let some of them know what was going on and they prayed.  Boy, did they pray!  Keep in mind, I have only met a handful (as in probably about 5) of them in person.  The rest I have an online relationship with (don't go getting any ideas here).  But these are women that KNOW the way I feel about my boys.  The way Alan and I are invested in them.  They GET it.  And they were awesome.  I love each of them (you know who you are, and I really do love and appreciate you).  I read their prayers over and over.

I reached the point where I listened repeatedly to Kerrie Roberts song, "No Matter What", and just told God that I would praise Him come what may.  Here's the song with lyrics, in case you've never heard it.  Very powerful.

This week was full of tests.  The results?  At least 2 cysts in my breast.  Not sure yet if they will be removed or left.  But the radiologist said she is SURE they are cysts.  After a CT scan and scope of my throat, the ENT wants to do a Barium swallow test because he thinks it's a problem with my esophagus related to reflux.  Scans were clear. 

The last test was this morning.  I think I'm still in joyful shock. It's a new condition.  Have you heard of it?  (Yes, that's a joke.)

For over two weeks I've felt like my life was on hold.  Do I plan for the trip to Ethiopia?  Do I work on the boys' room?  I was paralyzed.  Waiting. 

Here's one thing I know:  God was there all the time.  I learned so many things compacted into a two week period. 

(1)  When you tell someone you are going to pray for them, DO IT.  Be someone that your friends can turn to when they are going through junk.  Let them know that you WILL be on your knees to Jesus pleading their case.  Then follow through.  My friends were exceptional in this regard.  Prayers came in person, through texts, phone calls, and emails.  I could listen to them pray and read their prayers.  It was so comforting to know that the "where two or three are gathered" verses from the Bible applied to me during that time.

(2)  God uses challenges and trials in our lives a lot of times to wake us up!  I know that in the weeks before this time, I had been slacking on my Bible study time and prayer time.  Then when I knew I might be sick, I was ALL in the Word.  I couldn't get enough.  Talking to Jesus was happening all day long.  Just as it should be.  Praying without ceasing, baby.  He woke me up.  Like, "Hello, Dawn, I'm still here, and I come first."  Amen.

(3)  Dude. Here's the biggest one.  Drum roll, please.......... I AM NOT IN CONTROL.  Did you hear me?  I have no control over the day I die.  I have no control over whether my boys come home or not.  I have no control over this trip to Africa.  God is the one who is in control.  Of everything.  I'm so ecstatic over this fact.  Because, let me tell you, I was acting like I was the one in control.  At least in my mind.  I was planning this trip to Ethiopia, and even though I acknowledged God with my words, many times I left Him out in my heart as I planned.  I was stressed out.  No more.  There's a lot to get done before we leave, and I have a very full plate.  But I don't feel stress.  God has our time table, not me.  He knows our court date even though I have yet to be clued in.  I'm just going to keep plugging along until he enlightens me.  We are over $10,000 short for the amount of money we need for this mission.  But I have to trust that God will supply, because He is the one who has called us to this.

(4)  It's ALL for His glory.  Every second.  Our family.  Our story.  It's not about us.  It's all Him.  I am a peon.  Psalm 8:4 says "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?"  What a privilege to be used.  To be stretched.  He not only knows my name, He knew every day I would walk on this earth before the foundation of the world.  How can I not trust Him?  He made the world, for cryin' out loud.

(5) Alan is the man of my dreams. Seriously.  He is my perfect match.  He loves me no matter what.  I love him for the way he loves me.  (Confused yet? Haha.)

(6)  God answered my prayers 12 years ago when He began giving me children. All I wanted from the time I was in college was to be a wife and mom.  He has granted that.  I'm so thankful for Jayde, Alana, and Easton.

(7)  It's okay to pray specifically.  The last few weeks, my friend Lohri hosted a Bible study on the power of prayer.  It didn't take long, like, the first session to be exact, to figure out that I have been praying recently, but not praying in FAITH.  There's a big difference.  If I really am not feeling it, I still pray and say, "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!", just like the man in Mark 9:24.  I specifically asked for certain things in this health process.  All He could say is "No", right?  So why not ask? Jesus already knows what you want and what you need, so why try to hide anything?  Just tell Him like it is.  He's not going to walk away because He thinks you're too demanding. 

Yes, I know, I told you this post would be long.  I could keep going. 

On a side note, we are still collecting donations to take with us.  The deadline is not going to be tomorrow because we still don't know when we're leaving.  So keep them coming! 

Now..."To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy- to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen."  (Jude 1:24-25)