Holy Week

I love Holy Week!  I love the closeness with Christ, the closeness to His story, the story of our redemption.  I am taken in at the last supper, I grieve the suffering on the cross, I anticipate with great joy the resurrection and I celebrate new life on Easter.  A week full of emotion, meaning, deeper spiritual growth, love and gratitude.  Holy week has it all and not only to I get to benefit by taking part I get to give back to God by being apart of it and letting it change me.  Here are a few images to stir His spirit within you.

 

Maundy Thursday

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Good Friday

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Holy Saturday

This is a writing I found, author is unknown.

Something strange is happening — there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

 

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the Cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: ‘My Lord be with you all.’ Christ answered him: ‘And with your spirit.’ He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: ‘Awake, o sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’

 

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in Hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in Me and I in you; together we form one person and cannot be separated.

 

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, Whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

 

See on My Face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On My back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See My hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

 

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced My side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in Hell. The sword that pierced Me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

 

Rise. Let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity. “

 

Easter Sunday

 

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Have a blessed Holy Week!

 

 

 

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Catching you up

A lot has happened since my last post which was on Thanksgiving, so this post is to catch you up on what has been going on in the Grant Clan.

-Brian and I got away for a night and visited the New Glarus Brewery, and stayed in a super cute B&B.  Brian had a ton of fun sampling the beers at the brewery, I was prohibited from drinking due to all of the gluten in beer but I really enjoyed watching Brian have fun.

-We saw Santa:

 

Ewan really wanted to visit Santa so we met a friend at the local mall and the kids sat on Santa’s lap.  Shortly after our Santa visit, in fact we were still at the mall, Ewan started to ask questions as to the legitimacy of the mall santa.  He came to the conclusion that the mall santa was a man dressed up, and personally I also thought he was kind of creepy too.  Later that afternoon we were at our home school group Christmas party and the kids started debating over whether santa was real or not.  A mom came to me to warn me of the conversation in case I was a die-hard santa person, which I am not.  I figure my kids will find naturally and I am a-ok with that.  Later that night as we moved furniture around to make room for our Christmas tree Ewan started to ask the direct questions as to whether santa was real, in fact he asked me straight up if Santa was real.  I stop sweeping, and since I was not facing him at time allowed myself to panic quietly for a moment before turning to answer his question.  I have always been of the mind that if my child asks me something directly I will not lie to them.  So, I told him that santa was not real and we talked about St. Nicholas, the conversation went really well, until he started asking about the Easter Bunny, at that point I told him to talk to Daddy.

 

We ACCEPTED an OFFER on our CONDO!!!!!!:

 

This has been by far the biggest and best thing that has happen to us since my last post.  It has also been an answer to prayer and completely guided by God, and amazing we can see that happening in the midst of it all.  We accepted the offer a few weeks before Christmas and are slated to close in the next few weeks.  For me the most amazing thing about this whole experience is how God has answered our prayers and given beyond what we have even been praying for.  We have seen his provision and experienced his leading and been able to see his plan for our family unfolding.  I am learning patience in this process and to trust in Gods timing, I am learning that even when it feels like things are not moving, God is.

This Saturday we are looking at a house in our neighborhood (which we really love) for the second time.  At the showing we are meeting woman who owns the house, who was also raised in the house and then purchased the house from her parents and raised her children in the house.  We are praying that she likes us and feels good about possibly selling to us.  We are also praying that God would perfectly orchestrate this for us, which we know he can.  So feel free to talk to God on our behalf if you feel lead.  🙂

 

– I started a group at my church:

This fall I started an adoption support group called Odyssey at my church.  The group was started to meet the needs of the adoptive families in our church and outside of the church as well.  A safe place we can come to talk about things related to adoption, a place to feel supported.  Each month we have had a topic, this months topic is “How do we keep our children connected to their culture”?  I am happy every month when we come together and share our experiences, I am always learning new things from the other parents.  I am also elated that my church is so supportive of adoptive families and of orphan advocacy.

 

-Looking to Ethiopia:

 

With the sale of our condo and the purchase of a house on the horizon we have started teh conversation about possibly adopting again.  We are currently discussing when we might want to start the process again.  I am eager to get to a place in which we are earnestly praying about the next adoption, I can’t wait to see where God leads us.

 

Well I have just about used up my time at the computer, the children are getting restless.  Esu is actually standing on my chair behind me and pulling at my hair, I better wrap up before he pulls too much out. 😉

 

-My last picture is a current one of the kiddos, they are growing so fast I can hardly keep up.

 

 

Bonding

Last week I wrote for the first time in months, and was greeting with many wonderful comments of support, Thank you!!!!  This week I wanted to share what I did to encourage bonding between myself and my son.

The first and I think most important thing I did was voice my heartache to my husband and some close friends.  For a long time I kept my struggle to myself thinking that it would go away if I tried harder.  It didn’t go away.  Talking about the struggles I experienced with bonding helped to free me from the shame that was starting to grow in my heart.  It also showed me I was not alone and that this is a very common issue that adoptive parents deal with.

Once I was free from the silence.  I carefully examined what I was feeling.  This is what I came away with in my time of self-examination:

  • These feelings and this struggle in my life is NOT about love!  I love my baby, there is no question of that!
  • My life is crazy and adding a child in the most ideal of circumstances can be difficult and often is.
  • I am thinking too much!  I was in a terrible habit of over analyzing my feelings, I needed to just be.  I guess I needed to stop catching all of my feeling in my “net” and just let them wash over me.  If they persisted or became a problem then I would “catch” them one at a time and talk about it with Brian or a close friend.
  • Living in a 2 bedroom condo with three children and a husband is a challenge and I would be struggling if my third child had been from my own belly.  Recognizing that some of my frustrations are really space issues and not child issues.

Some of the practical hands on things that I did to encourage bonding were:

  • To be more hands on with Esu.
  • Smelling him, all the time.  I know that may sound funny but for me I knew my older two children’s smell right away, it was familiar and it was comforting.  I needed that with Esu, I needed to know him in that way.
  • I carry him in a sling when ever my back is ok with it.  He wanted to be close to me and I wanted to give that to him, so we carry him in the sling pretty frequently.  We have carried him in the sling since the beginning, and I think that it has been really helpful.
  • New sleep routine.  When Esu came home is was sleep trained and that was totally what we needed at that time.  But, as time went on I realized that I needed to be more apart of his sleep routine, I wanted him to fall asleep win my arms like my other children had done.  So I started rocking him to sleep, it does not happen every night, but I really love it when It does happen. Esu will also sometimes co-sleep with us.  This was something that I had wanted from the beginning but was not something that was working for Esu, so we abandoned the idea.  About 10 months later Esu started showing a great interest in all things attachment; nursing, co-sleeping and being held all the time.  I think that this happened because when he came home at 11 months he was so traumatized by the situation that he just needed things to stay the same.  He needed his old routines to cope with the new people in his life.  As time went by and his comfort, bonding and love grew for us he became able to change things up, and to “ask” for what he needed.  He needed and wanted us!  That was what I needed too, for him to need me!  Wow, I kind of went off on a tangent there.  But I hope a useful one.
  • I gave myself permission to let time do it’s thing and to be patient while it grew us together.
  • I talked to God, a lot.  You know the bible talks about how we were knit together in our mothers wombs, well I think that Esu and I are being knit together.  It is going to take time and I need to be patient and lean on what I know which is that I love him and he loves me and God loves us both!

This journey is not over for me, I am still finding my way.  I am right there with you, the good the bad and the ugly.

Now here is a little GOOD:

1 year

Yesterday we celebrated our 1 year anniversary with Esuyawkal, one year ago yesterday we first held him in our arms.  It is hard to believe that a year has passed so quickly and that he has changed so much, but it is true, and I am happy for it.

This past year has been a challenging year as well as wonderful, joyous, and spirit filled.  I have experienced things I anticipated about being the mother to three children and I have also had my share of surprises.  I have experienced known and unknown things about adoption, good and not so good.  I have grown a lot, know myself better, and love, love, love my children and husband who has stood beside me as I struggle with the growing pains of being mother to three and a wife with three kids.

The Good:

This year has been full of good and wonderful events, moments, and experiences for me and our family.  The best “event” for me has been finally feeling normal, finally feeling that I know my baby, and finally feeling that I know how to manage three.  This “event” occurred over the entire year and was unchartered territory for me.  I experienced a lot of twists and turns, lows and highs.  Thanks to a supportive family and wonderful friends I was able to struggle openly and freely with the tender topic of “bonding with my baby” which turns out was a lot harder than I thought it would be.

Watching my children play together and love on each other, when they are not arguing has been a joy.  Watching Esuyawkal bond with us and love us and his siblings has been a blessing.  Being apart of a family that is taking shape and learning everyday more about each other has been a wonderful journey. Each of my children have grown this year and I am proud of each one of them for weathering the changes this year brought with grace.

The Not So Good:

The biggest not-so-good part of this year has definitely been my struggle with bonding, which does not mean in any way that I do not love my child!!!  I just want to make that very clear.  What it ment for me was that I had bonded in an effortless way with my first two children and only realized that had been the case when it did not happen effortlessly with Esu.  Some of the things that I had done with Ewan and Anwen, for example breast-feeding and co-sleeping were not working for Esu.  I had anticipated this but for what ever reason did not think it would affect my bonding, it was January before I realized it was.  It was actually a relief to come to a realization about this, I had been feeling so crappy prior that I was happy to see a light at the end of the tunnel so to speak.  It did feel a little like I was back at square one, but that was better than were I had been so I started over.  I started looking for other ways to bond with Esu and little by little it worked and what I had been looking for started to take shape, a mother and child bonding!

As a side I want parents to know that if you struggle with bonding you are not alone!  This is pretty common in adoption circles, people are just not talking all that much about it.

Another realization I came to in the spring was that I had fallen in love with an infant (in pictures), but had brought home a baby that was on the cusp of toddlerhood.  We did get a few months of limited movement from Esu but once he learned how to crawl which was soon after he came home everything changed.  Life got a lot more difficult.  Of course I knew all of this logically, I knew Esu was coming home at nearly a year old, and I knew from experience that toddlerhood can be really challenging.  What I did not know was that my condo going to feel like a shoe box once a toddler was running around again.  Which in turn would make me feel crazy.  I also did not realize how much bonding really helps you deal with the challenging behaviors of your child, at least it helps for me.  Thankfully when I had made my most recent realization I was already bonding and the realization was mostly just allowed me to put the pieces together.

Today, I feel grounded and I feel bonded (though everyday I am still working on it with ALL of my children).  I still feel like a crazy woman a lot, but those times pass quickly and I can usually laugh at them by the evening.  I can go to the grocery store alone with my children, all of them and I can survive the trip! Believe me those trip are fewer today then they were a year ago, I will do just about anything to get out a trip to the grocery store with the kids!  🙂  My life feels normal, a little nutty but normal, my kids are my priority and I live my life with that in mind.  I am happy to feel like my life is finally fitting me again, and believe it or not, I might just want to do it all again!

I hope to be writing again regularly but I won’t be promising anything, life is busy with three kids and homeschooling.  I do want to say thought that I really miss my blog and you!

Foster Care Prayer Vigil

This is the week of the Foster Care Prayer Vigil!

Please take time out to pray for these children and their families.

Here are some people you can pray for:

  • Foster parents
  • Foster children
  • Social workers
  • Therapist working with parents and children
  • Organizations that are placing children
  • The church’s involvement
  • Pray that God would raise up laborers to fill every void: judges, attorneys, guardians ad litem, social workers, court appointed special advocates (CASA), support staff, therapists, and others.
  • Pray that these children would experience God’s love through the love and care given them by all involved in the child welfare system.

For more ways to pray visit Foster Care Prayer Vigil to print out a prayer guide and other resources.


More on Summit VI

So as I said in a previous post Summit is a yearly conference and this year it was in Minnesota which living in Chicago makes it practically in my backyard or an 8 hour drive away.  I was blessed to be in great company for the drive so the 8 hours flew by,  the time flew faster on the way to MN but the drive home was more effected by my sheer exhaustion and the exhaustion of my car mates.  I wish I had a picture of our car trip up to MN and back because we had some good times but alas I did not have my camera with me.  Although if you go to There’s glitter in my coffee you will meet my good friend Elizabeth who was one of the lovely people I went to the conference with.  Actually it was a facebook post that Elizabeth made that alerted me to Summit, Thanks Elizabeth, you’re hilarious and awesome even if you can’t read a map!  Hehe!

Ok, so on to the conference stuff.  This conference is over two days and is absolutely packed with sessions to educate you on all aspects orphan care from the U.S. foster system to Global orphan care and the stuff in between. I can only tell you about my journey through the conference but I think that you will get a pretty good idea of what a typical experience would be from what I did.


Each morning from 8:30-10:30 was the general session in which corporate worship began in the large sanctuary of the church, there were also a few speakers during this time.  Each evening there was also a corporate session in which we heard a speaker and participated in worship of some kind.  Thursday night Steven Curtis Chapman preformed and Friday the worship band from Bethlehem Baptist Church led worship.

Breakout sessions:

I attended 6 breakout sessions and 1 lunch time session over the two-day conference, here are the breakout sessions that I attended:

  • Church based orphan ministry 101- Overview- This is the session you take if you want to start an orphan ministry in your church, it was really good and if you purchase the book Launching an orphan ministry in your church you will basically have all of the information and more that was presented in this session.
  • Church-based orphan ministry 201- Global orphan care- This session was great the guy who lead is the president of Orphan Outreach.  There was so much information presented and a lot of it was really practical information for starting a ministry in a foreign country.  There were a lot of things about this presentation that Americans need to hear about having relationships with the people we are trying to help.  I am not quite at a point that I would be starting an orphanage or ministry abroad but it really opened my eyes to wanting to work with organizations that have people already on the ground and that really know the organizations they are working with.
  • Engaging Church Leadership- This was an essential session if you are desiring to start your own orphan care ministry.  I learned a lot about how to approach the leadership in our church, things to do and NOT to do.  Loved this session and Daniel Bennett who presented it is a pastor so his perspective was really valuable.
  • Implementing a Balanced Orphan Care and Adoption Ministry in our Church- This was another session that was packed with information.  Bethany Christian Services were the ones that did this session and the videos that you can see on the link I gave are given by the same man who did the session.  The site is packed with information and links to help get a ministry started.
  • How Does it Work? Models of Global Orphan Ministry Based in US Churches- In this session we got to hear from a panel of pastors and ministry leaders that apart of churches or ministries that are doing global orphan care.  It was really informative and really a treat to hear from Pastor Sudaker from India.  I really appreciated hearing his view on short-term missions to India and whether they are helpful or not he told us they are!
  • The Truth About Orphan Care: Are We Doing More Harm than Good? This session was given by Vision Trust, and was really informative and eye-opening.  I walked away from this session which happened to be my last session feeling like I had a much better understanding of the pitfalls of not fully understanding the culture that you are working within.  The goal is to help these countries and to equip them to help themselves and often times that is just not happening.  I really loved this session and how thought-provoking it was.

In one area of the host church there was an area set up for ministries to have informational tables.  I collected a huge amount of information and took home a lot of business cards to build up my contact list.  Some of the ministries that were there were:

Sweet Sleep

Show Hope

147 Million Orphans

Lifesong for Orphans

Hope for Orphans

Of these featured speakers I would say that Stephanie Fast was really awesome as was Mary Beth Chapman.  John Piper was really great too and gave a thought-provoking sermon.  All of the people who spoke during Summit were wonderful and on fire for orphans which was really inspiring.

I can’t wait to go to Summit 8 next year, I have already started saving for Brian and I to make the trip together to where every it is going to be.  The conference was awesome and it was a huge blessing to be able to share two days with people who are advocating for orphans locally and globally and are really, really passionate about Gods call to …care for the fatherless…

Catching you up

So the last post I made was in the middle of March, I know it has been a long time.  Here is what we have been up to since March:

Brian was laid off from his job at the end of March which was quite a surprise at the time, although looking back there were red flags within the company.  The good thing was that Brian had not been laid off for any other reason other than restructuring and that they were giving him a severance package- Praise God!! Brian continued to work for three more weeks and so his final day at work was sometime in early April.  Three days after he was no longer working he was offered a job programming for Sears, again- Praise God!

At the same time that Brian was laid off we very unexpectedly received an offer on our condo.  It was a great offer and we wanted to take it so we signed a contact to sell our place!!  I scrambled to get all of the paper work together and before we knew it the inspection was over and we were in attorney review.  We had not looked at any homes yet as I was scared to look and get my hopes up, but things looked good with the deal so since Brian was off of work we scheduled a morning to look at houses with our realtor.  About 10 minutes away from the first house our realtor got an email telling us that the contract was being canceled-  BOOOOO!  Apparently the buyer could not get financing, we were really bummed out!  It took me a few days to get over the loss of the contract but in the end I believe that God had a reason for keeping us in our condo for now, I am not sure what it is but I trust that it is for the best.  We have not had anyone look at our condo for awhile, and so we are just waiting.

We got to spend a lot of time together as a family while Brian was waiting to start at Sears and that was great!  I also got to take the opportunity to go to this amazing conference on Adoption, Foster care and Global orphan care, the conference is called Summit and it is put on by The Christian Alliance for Orphans.  The conference was two days long and it was in Minneapolis, MN this year, each year a different church hosts the event.  It was amazing and I feel so blessed that I was able to attend.  I came away feeling even more equipped to start and Orphan ministry in our church, I also came away more on fire to make a difference in the lives of orphans locally and globally.  I highly recommend this conference for anyone that has a heart of orphans, is in a ministry involving orphans or is thinking about adopting.

As you can see the past 6 weeks have been packed with life changing events which have pulled me away from my blog and most everything else.  I am hoping to be able to write more regulary now that things are settling down a little.  I have really missed blogging and the other day was gently urged by my sister to start posting again- she said- “Shonah your blog has dropped to my 4th most read site, it used to be #2”.  I asked her what her #1 was and she told me it was her e-mail.  So this post is for you Meghan.

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