Monday, January 31, 2011

Nothing Meaty. Just for Fun!

75 degrees in January is wrong on so many front; but when spent with friends, there is something right about it.  Friends like this are few and far between.  Enjoy!

Nothing Meaty!  It's just for fun. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Familiar Unknown

Just moments ago, the Kuykendalls arrived in Addis Ababa, moments ago.  Really!  I feel like I'm reliving our first trip to Ethiopia to meet our Mezekir, our fourth son.  Over the last hour and 30 minutes, I've catalogued every emotion and each step they should be taking.  I remember disembarking the plane.   I remember the cigarette smoke blanket covering the inside of the airport.  I can see the visa lines.  I hear the quiet chatter of Amharic in the background.  The military with their AK47s still surprise me when I see them in my minds eye.  I recall how the terror of the unknown and large military presence in this strange country is dwarfed by the kindness and gentleness of the people.  In my mind, I pass through customs and grease the palms of the security guard to get through without a hitch.  Then, the sweet, smiling, angelic face of Solomon.  Ahhhh.  Peace.  That face and voice delivers a peace; a peace that let's you know within moments of meeting him that he loves the Lord.  I remember exiting the airport and looking up at the moon through the heavy smog and realizing my little boy was sleeping under the same moon, under the same stars, in the same city, and although within reach...not yet available.  Then Bole road.  The homeless.  The orphans.  The hungry.  The need.  The corrugated tin shacks.  The eyes of one boy starving, cold, orphaned, hungry and alone on the side of the street.  I realize my son could've easily been this boy had God not scripted Meze's life differently.  That moment I inventoried what was happening.  The hope.  The joy.  The pain.  I recall turning into BeJoe House.  I remember the sweet faces I would soon call family.  I remember the fullness of their love from the moment we met.  It as all new but familiar.  I remember feeling at home.  I recall the moment I knew life wouldn't be the same.  I wonder what the Kuykendalls feel right now?  I don't know, but I know the familiar that we are sharing right now half a world apart.  Recalling the emotions, I'm letting the familiarity of it all sink in.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Rest of the Story

Next Friday, after 3 years of waiting, Mark, Marla, Kyle, and Marcus will traverse 3 continents, one ocean, and a few seas to finally meet their "Princess Ethi."  On the 4th of February, they appear before Ethiopia's high court petitioning the courts to rule favorably in the issue of them becoming parents to "Princess Ethi."  

The financial implication of placing their file on hold was substantial.  Ethiopia required all documents, printing, paper-work, and studies to be re-originated.  They have worked tirelessly to raise funds and save.  They are close but need to cover the cost of their second trip to Ethiopia, a trip to the embassy and to bring "Princess Ethi" home.  

My last trip to Ethiopia, I was able to meet their beautiful daughter.  Her large, pensive, dark eyes peer cautiously at newcomers.  Her beautiful tear-drop shaped philtrum and the bow of her lip trembles when she's startled.  By her hesitation to engage visitors, it is clear she's known more life in care than with a family.  Seeing the transient nature of caregivers and other children in her life makes me all the more anxious to do my part of helping her find her way home.  

To celebrate February 14th and the gift of love, we are promoting "recycle love" t-shirts that raise funds for the Kuykendalls.  Recycling your love for an orphan allows you to be a part of orphan care.  Another friend orchestrated this fundraiser.  To participate you can access their blog here or by clicking the "recycle love button" on my sidebar. By purchasing one of these CRAZY CUTE t-shirts, you can help bring "Princess Ethi" home.  The guidelines are below.

1.) The tees are $24.95 each. $4.95 covers shipping and $10 goes to the adoptive family of your choice. The family that sells the most tees will receive an additional $500.00!

2.) Click on the "recycle love button" or the link to the Africaboundandrews.blogspot.  Then, select your t-shirt sizes.  Purchase the shirts through paypal, and LIST THE KUYKENDALLS IN THE MEMO LINE on the paypal memo.

3.) Spread the word!  Please, let people know to place the Kuykendall family name in the memo line of the paypal memo.

4.) The Recycle Love campaign will run from January 21st until February 18th. We will compile the list of purchases and order the tees after the close of business on the 18th of February and tees will be mailed 1-2 weeks after that.

5.) Pray for the Kuykendalls and other adoptive families, who await the arrival of their children!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wait for it...wait for it....wait for it!

East Texas has very few transracial families.  It had far fewer three and a half years ago when we began our journey to adopt Mezekir.  All along, we leaned on a promise the Spirit placed on Josh's heart.  He believed we would be surrounded by like-minded families walking a similar path.  Almost immediately this came to fruition.  God placed a special family in our lives.  This family:

Mark, Marla, and Kylee were with us from the start.  We began paper chase together, we had our home studies within weeks of one another, our fingerprinting overlapped, and then...the Kuykendalls experienced  an inexplicable event.  Mark and Marla found out they were expecting after 13 years of infertility.  This was a moment of bittersweet.  Thrilled add to their family, receiving a baby that for years they prayed to carry, trusting in the miraculous hand of God, but loosing the dream of the daughter they waited years to know and with whom they'd already bonded, the family's path diverged.  God added baby Marcus to their family.  Praise to HIM!  The joy of Marcus' birth paralleled a pain, which came from closing their adoption.  

However, He, who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more that we can imagine or desire chose to give the Kuykendalls both baby Marcus and their little girl they will meet next week.  Next week when the family travels for court, "Princess Ethi" will meet those who love her more than words can tell.  And although she will not know they are her family; her family knows she belongs to them.  There is not a doubt in any mind.  

"Princess Ethi" is blessed to see her family 2 separate times in Ethiopia prior to her placement.  Mark and Marla are blessed to have the opportunity to know the Ethiopian culture.  These two trips do come at a high price:  leaving their princess in Ethiopia after the first trip, 2 children left at home on the second trip, less support from friends and family, and HEY, the price of another trip.  Our friends are allowing us to be a part of bringing home their "Princess Ethi."  Wait for it.  Wait for it.  Wait for it........wait for it.  Really, wait for it!  I'll tell you how tomorrow.  See you there.

Monday, January 17, 2011

HE Had a Dream... It wasn't mine.

I just watched this with my husband and four children.

And I realized without this man:

I don't think we'd know this one:

Forty-eight years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.  Truth be known, this is the first time I ever listened to the entire speech.  This is the first time the words I heard struck a cord.  This is the first time I cried through King's speech.  The vitiation of our country's history cuts deep.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  Never before has this day been mine.  Never before has it marked such significance in our family's lives.  Never before did I take in what civil rights did for us...a family...a country...a people.  Today, we took an inventory of civil rights influence on our family.  Without civil rights, my family wouldn't be complete.  My son would never have come home.  He would not know family; it is likely he not know life.

In "I Have a Dream," King maintains the destinies and freedoms of different races are "inextricably bound together."  TRUTH.  I cannot get beyond his words.  They are not just true for America but for the entire world.  As I rejoice in the strides made over the past 48 years, I look hopefully to further progress here and in the remaining world.  King provoked thought as he preached of a hope "deeply rooted in the American dream.  (And goads us to) rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed:  "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all mean are created equal."  Embracing this locution means then we move forward on the pretense that we are equal and equally deserving of life...all races, all nations, all people.

King had a dream.  It wasn't mine.  Mine depended on his.  His dream helped build my family.  My family dream is still growing.  But I have another dream.  A dream of hope for the hopeless, social justice, change, and life for the least of these.  He had a dream; at each step, I realize how linked our dreams are.  Happy MLK Day!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

LoPa's Gone Etsy

SO, LoPa doesn't have a website yet because we are working on a bare-bones, donate-all-the-profits, be-good-stewards' budget.  LoPa does, however, have a Facebook pageTwitter account, AND Etsy Account!  Soon enough, our friend, Talvo, will have our pro bono publico (but fabulous) website prepared.  In the meantime, LoPa is growing due to His merciful hand of provision.  We are thrilled to see HIM at work.

You can help LoPa by liking us on Facebook, reposting our posts to your Facebook page, and following us on Twitter.  It's that easy, friends!  Oh, yes, don't forget to shop us...we've gone ETSY!!!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Yami Cuffs

LoPa has Yami Cuffs remaining in inventory.  If you are interested in purchasing a Yami Cuff, like those pictured below and being given away by Team Alexander, email LoPa here.  The cost of the Yami Cuffs are $35.

If you are interested in a Korah t-shirt, email LoPa here indicating size and color.  The choices are black and charcoal grey.  Each have the same design, and the back reads, "I was hungry and you gave me food.  I was thirsty and you gave me drink...What you did to one of the least of these my brothers you did it to me."  The cost of the Korah shirts are:  short sleeved- $25 and long sleeved- $30.  

LoPa gifts all proceeds to the care of the least of these at Korah, a community in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia built on a dump.  You can watch a video of Korah here.  This is a picture of Korah:


Thursday, January 6, 2011

On a Hope and a Dream

     My friend, Emily, didn't always dream of being a mom to 6 children.  Undoubtedly, she didn't know she would parent one with special needs or how those "special needs" would become special gifts that teach and reveal to her more of our LORD.  She didn't always aspire to relieve poverty in remote areas of the world.  However, God used the adoption of their 2 youngest sons as a springboard to bring her, and her family, a new hope and dream...  their roles in bringing HIS hope to a dying world.

     Emily and her family now campaign for funds to bring HOPE to Dube Bute, where her son Eaysu first lived.  You can read more about it here.  Team Alexander, as they call themselves, is holding a drawing with tons of free give-aways next week over here.  LoPa has donated this Leather Flower Cuff:

And this t-shirt:

By re-posting, twittering, or facebooking about their fundraising and drawing (let them know), you, too, will be entered to win these and other amazing FREE products.  To top it off, Team Alexander is offering you an opportunity to join in an event that will make a life-long, life-changing, re-writing the futures of young and old, gospel-sharing impact on the least of these in HIS name.  You can't beat that!  Seriously, check it out.  Let's make a change through a hope and dream He's given.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Change, Not for the Weak of Heart. Change, Good for the Soul.

Our family has seen its fair share of change this year.  Some good.  Some hard.  All in all, it has be a year of transformation. 

God blessed us with our fourth child this year.  Our son’s presence brought along an awareness of God’s call to take up the Gospel of Jesus to the world around us and in a new, profound manner, to crusade for Him and submit ourselves, our family, and our resources daily to His desires.   In turn, we fell in LOVE with Ethiopia, her people, and her culture in spite of her poverty.  Her hope gives us hope.  Thus, we’ve focused most of our giving (not just monetary), outside of the church, toward Ethiopia- impacting the poor, the broken, and the spiritually needy. 

Loss has also revamped our family.  After 36 years of knowing a safe, steady, untied family, my father’s presence disappeared.  Not to death.  Not to disease.  To divorce.  To isolation and abandonment.  The woman, my mother, who used to be my stability, seeks security from us.  Our family is flexing, changing, giving, and learning what it mean to surrender hopes, dreams, and even our history, to the foot of the throne.

Trans-cultural families stand out in the South, in deep East Texas.  Transforming our family tree solicited transmogrification.  Boom, normal to weird.  As easy as that.  As though a spell was cast and the once white, typical-suburbia family shifted to “those people we just never really knew.”  This is a cost we are glad to pay.  We’ve become comfortable with staring and questions.  We relish the difference because in it is the obedience that brings joy we could never have imagined.

We’ve learned a family of six doesn’t grace other families with “drop in” company often.   Six is difficult to accommodate with out planning.  Six can seem like sixteen.  Six can make you sick of cooking, cleaning, laundry, and dishes.  Six seems satisfactory, but eight sound exceptional! 

Change.  We’re ready for the next round.  Change!