Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Good Fruit

This post is just a bunch of random stuff that is going on with us.

1. We are sitting on the edge of our seats (so to speak) with the anticipation of the courts reopening in Addis next week (rumor has it). Will our case be heard right away? This is our hope, but we are trying to not be too hopeful. What a roller coaster this process can be. All I know is that I am ready to meet the girls, and have Marta home ASAP, and start the waiver process for Meklit yesterday!

We are also so happy and excited to hear from others who have been waiting for so long that will be in court right along with us. It is going to be a fruitful season.

2. I am starting to shop for the trip and for the girls, and for a guy who hates to shop, I can honestly say I can't wait to take my new teen aged daughter shopping. I ordered a bunch of beads and clips for their hair this week, and also got hair care products to take with me. Is it too early to pull out the rolling duffel bags and start packing? Hopefully only 6 weeks to go, and I think after this weekend I will get them out. Obsession can be a good thing.

3. I noticed yesterday that my post bumped off the last one about the girls, so there wasn't a picture of them on the active posts, and I thought I should remedy that. So here are a couple just because their wonderful faces should always be on here.

This is Meklit with a friend who is now home (have to crop faces of kids from her orphanage) looking at the friend's family photo album. It is a very cool part of the Ethiopian adoption experience that our girls each have friends in the US, and we are in contact with their families. That is rarely the case with China adoptions, and something I think will help the girls to not feel so alone and removed from their first home and culture.

And this is Marta with one of her friends, who will be coming home soon as well. This was taken by the dad of the little one during his visit to meet his daughter. What a sweetheart she is! I just can't get over the looks of adoration from both, and think this shows some of the depth of Marta's character. This is on our fridge and I stare at it every day, and count the seconds until I won't have to be satisfied with looking at a picture.

4. This weekend we are traveling up to Vancouver, BC to attend a wedding reception and banquet for my Chinese cousin who was just married. It should be quite an evening as Uncle Wai Mo knows how to throw a party! It will certainly be a feast like no other, with 20+ courses of amazing dishes, and our whole crew is already drooling with anticipation.

It will be our first time across a border with Joy and Song, so I am a little paranoid about having all the documents to make sure we can get them back in the country, but I am sure it will be fine. And Wai Mo has a big house if things don't work out.

5. We are a home schooling family, but we have just enrolled Song in the local public school to see what type of resources they can bring to the table with regard to teaching things like Braille. So yesterday we had a meeting and assessment with school teachers, and the lady leading the charge was down from Yakima. And let me tell you, what an answer to prayer she was! We will be able to have him at home still, full-time, and the teachers are going to come to us, and provide all of the resources needed for him. Lisa is beyond relieved to have this assistance and expertise, and Song should eat it up.

It seems like a busy time for us and for many others, but as I said before, it IS going to be a fruitful season. Thanks God.

Dual Citizenship

Tomas Perez over at A Company Of Friends has a great post about dual citizenship, related to faith and not adoption. It is a discussion of residing within the kingdom of heaven, and the United States, and the responsibilities that go along with that residence status. Good stuff.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


We just returned from a weekend with friends, and their many lovely children. Out of their 22 kids, I think (couldn't ever get a good head count) that there are 11 at home, and 4 more on the way, as they are currently adopting from Ethiopia like us. We had such a wonderful time with them. It is funny. We don't get many invites anywhere anymore, but with this family our 7 was nothing big to add for the weekend. Such fun.

A couple weeks before that we met another family with 20+ kids. They too are an amazing family who love with everything they have, and would tell you that they are the blessed ones - no savior complex with these families.

Time with these families has given me a fresh perspective on many things. One of these is family size. When I tell most people that we are adopting again, and will soon have 7 kids, they are in utter disbelief. One guy I work with who is from my corporate office, and we have never met face to face, told me "you must be a Christian" last week when I answered his questions about our family. I think that is the only box he can put the idea of 7 kids in, the only way he can get his head around someone doing something "that crazy". That is the response of most of the world we live in. Now I just tell them, "oh, that's nothing, you should see the _____ family, now they are a BIG family!"

Here is my new standard for family sizes:

  • Small family - less than 10 kids
  • Medium family 10-19 kids
  • Large family 20+ kids
The bottom line is that the perfect family size is what is perfect for your family, and there is no competition. We are happily a small family, who is open to whatever God has planned for us.

One of the other changes in perspective for us is to see people really doin' the stuff and being willing to live a sacrificial life (in the world's eyes and standards) and be genuinely selfless. Now don't take me wrong with this, I am not saying that there is any "rescuing" or savior mentality going on here. These families are purely about doing what is needed and best for their children, no matter how many there happen to be. These guys are walking out their relationship and faith, when what we are most used to seeing and hearing is something that closely parallels what the world views as normal.

These families are also passionate about something to the point of giving in other areas, and willing to live a life in pursuit of what their hearts yearn for. I want to be more like these guys and do what I say I believe, no matter what that means.

I am also into efficiency, and the way I look at it is we just made ~50 new friends very quickly, and that is pretty sweet.

Friday, September 22, 2006

More News From Malawi

If I sound like a broken record and keep pointing to what is happening in Malawi, that is because I am! I looked at Suffer The Little Children today, and was blown away with lots of posts about good food and smiling babies, beautiful pictures, strange weather (raining babies) and day to day life from a son's perspective.

What an adventure, and what stories these kids will have to tell the rest of their lives.

Bless the Langdons!

Friday, September 15, 2006

So Amazing...

Today I was driving down the Columbia River Gorge to The Dalles (a bigger town in Oregon where we go to shop) with Song and Joy, our 2 kids who were adopted from China. We were driving and jamming pretty good to Dwell, a Vineyard release from a few years back.

I started thinking about when they came home, the airport scenes when family and friends saw the dear ones we had been waiting so impatiently for, and in Song's case, the first time to meet Mom. Wondering what Marta's upcoming airport scene will be like.

Also I was thinking about our drive home from the airport with Joy, and the impact of creation on that little 4 year old Chinese girl who had never ventured outside her city of 4 million. She rode most of the way looking sideways out the window, slack-jawed, silent, in complete awe at the beauty in these pictures that we have come to take for granted.

As I drove along singing very loud and drumming on the wheel like I has the dude with the blue hair and the djembe on the recording, a song was really speaking to me about His love for us in honoring us with the task of parenting these kids. The song was Love Me Like You Do by Sheri Keller (now Sheri Carr), and it goes like this:
God of glory You have made all things, all things
Who am I that You would think of me, of me
For You made the earth, You made the stars
Yet You know my name; You know my heart
You're always there; You're never far away

So amazing as You paint the sky
So amazing, makes me wonder why
You love me like You do
You love me like You do
That You love me like You do
So amazing, so amazing

I see the birds ride on the winds, they fly so high
Mountain peaks so tall they seem to touch the sky
Creation calls Your name above
Yet in Your mercy and Your love
You came to give Your life that I might live

It really hit me to think of Joy, Song, Marta and Meklit coming to this place to live a life together in our family - that He chose us for them and them for us way back in eternity - such mercy, grace, hope and love - that He made the stars and still knows my heart - and this is what His love is like for us all, that He welcomes us to dwell with Him, and we can welcome Him to dwell with us in a relationship of this type of love. It is just as mind-boggling-slack-jaw-staring-crazy kind of awesome as Joy's response to the Gorge. It is simply, so amazing...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Sweet Surprise

This morning I got a wonderful Monday morning surprise. I went to Babyssinia to make my usual cruise through the other blogs and there was Marta! It is a pic of their baby smiling and being cooed by our Marta, and they are both very beautiful! You should go see it right now! It will certainly make your Monday better too!


Friday, September 08, 2006

Older Kids Choosing Adoption

There are 2 excellent posts and discussions regarding whether older kids should have a say in their adoption or not over at Martha's AdoptBlogger. This is something that I always wondered about, and she has invited discussion on the topic. Good stuff.


Crock Pot Cooking and Faith

I love to cook, and I love to cook things in a crock pot during the winter. Like much of cooking, you take a bunch of things individually that are somewhat appealing, but together they become something very appealing. This can be especially true in a crock pot - after hours of cooking you walk in the house and it just smells so good.

I am a crock pot kind of guy. I take things, often from many different sources, stew on them for a long time, and at some point down the road I emerge from my fog like someone threw a switch and the light comes on to something very clear and different. A different understanding, a new perspective, a new paradigm, seeing a new aspect of truth for the first time, and realizing just how wrong I was about my perceptions and understandings from before, which can be terribly (and wonderfully) humbling.

During the past couple of years, mostly the last 12 months, I have been going down this path. It is like I decided to take this little side road, that was no more than an overgrown trail, and have been walking down it for a while. At first it was hard to negotiate, and I could never see very far ahead. It was and still is in many ways hard going, and there weren’t many other travelers I came across on the trail. It was a lonely walk. But, I had what began as a twinge of a feeling that there was something true, and clear, and good ahead. Over time this feeling has grown and grown into a deep, gut level feeling that what is slowly emerging from the fog ahead of me is very true, and very clear, and very good. And, with equal certainty, I have the feeling that what I left behind is just the opposite.

Mostly this change is about my faith, who I am as a spiritual person, what I think Jesus came to earth for, and what He says church is to look like and be about. This morning I was reading a chapter from Donald Miller’s book Searching For God Knows What and came across this:

At the same time, however, we are at a disadvantage because the Jesus that exists in our minds is hardly the real Jesus. The Jesus on CNN, the Jesus in our books and in our movies, the Jesus that is a collection of evangelical personalities, is often a Jesus of the suburbs, a Jesus who wants you to be a better yuppie, a Jesus who is extremely political and supports a specific party, a Jesus who has declared a kind of culture war in the name of our children, a Jesus who worked through the founding fathers to begin America, a Jesus who dresses very well, speaks perfect English, has three points that fulfill any number of promises and wants you and me to be above all, comfortable. Is this the real Jesus?

Is Jesus sitting in the lifeboat (you have to read the book to understand this fully) with us, stroking our backs and telling us we are the ones who are right and one day these other infidels are going to pay, that we are the ones who are going to survive and the others are going to be thrown over because we are Calvinist, Armenians, Baptists, Methodists, Catholics; because we are Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, or liberals; because we attend a big church, a small church, an ethnically diverse church, a house church, or is Jesus acting in our hearts to reach out to the person who isn’t like us – the oppressed, the poor, the unchurched – and to humble ourselves, give of our money, build our communities in love, give our time, our creativity, get on our knees before our enemies in humility, treating them as Scripture says, as people who are more important than we are? The latter is the Jesus of Scripture; the former, which is infinitely more popular in evangelical culture, is a myth sharing a genre with unicorns.

If you haven’t read Miller’s books, like Searching…or Blue Like Jazz, and any of this stirs something within you, you should. He has this unpolished, full of candor, real world way of looking at faith and the kingdom, that will inspire you to drag yourself out of the Christian box you are in, and look at things anew.

That is the path I have been walking down – to take everything but the stark truths of Jesus, and throw it all out. To question everything with a fresh and new perspective and to seek God and His word and say, what is this really supposed to look like? How much of this is really man made, watering down, clouding, and confusing my understanding of Your truth? What has my faith become as a result of being so entrenched in the institution of the church for many years? Am I a believer and follower of Jesus, or of the church (institution)?

I love what Michael Frost describes in Exiles as “the Christian experience as it was intended: a radical, subversive, compassionate community of followers of Jesus.” My hope is that a picture of what this looks like is what is emerging from the fog in the little clearing up ahead at the end of this path.

Tom Perez at A Company of Friends pointed me to the Sara Groves song “Painting Pictures of Egypt” about leaving Egypt to wander in the desert. It goes:

I don’t want to leave here
I don’t want to stay
It feels like pinching to me
Either way
And the places I long for the most
Are the places where I’ve been
They are calling out to me
Like a long lost friend…

It’s not about losing faith
It’s not about trust
It’s all about comfortable
When you move so much

And the place I was wasn’t perfect
But I had found a way to live
And it wasn’t milk or honey
But then neither is this…

I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt
Leaving out what it lacks
The future feels so hard
And I want to go back
But the places that used to fit me
Cannot hold the things I’ve learned
And those roads were closed off to me
While my back was turned...

The past is so tangible
I know it by heart
A million things are never easy to discard
But I was dying for some freedom
But now I hesitate to go
I am caught between the promise
And the things I know

I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt
Leaving out what it lacks
The future feels so hard
And I want to go back
But the places that used to fit me
Cannot hold the things I’ve learned
And those roads were closed off to me
While my back was turned...

If it comes too quick
I may not appreciate it
Is that reason behind all this time and sand?
If it comes too quick
I may not recognize it
Is that reason behind all this time and sand?

This is on her Conversations CD.

Sorry for the length and rambling of this post, but this emerging picture is such a huge part of who I am right now, that I can’t ignore it. As she said, the places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I’ve learned, so I am searching for something new. And when I walk in the house these days, it just smells so good to me.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

New Babies in Malawi

There is a great update over at Suffer The Little Children about the 2 babies in their lives. If you are wondering, this is the Langdon family who with their 6 kids moved to Malawi in the late Spring and have just started a new orphanage, and now have babies!

Also, we got an email that lists some needs they have, so if you feel inclined, they need support. Here is part of the email from Lisa Langdon:

Well, here’s my list of things that we need and that I can’t seem to find here or the quality is so poor and they are expensive:
  • Crib and bassinet sheets (I have no bassinet sheets and only1 crib sheet and have never seen any here)
  • Receiving blankets and warm blanketsWarm sleepers with feet (all sizes up to 24 months)
  • Plastic pants or diaper wraps for cloth diapers—all sizes from newborn to 18 months.
  • Cloth diapers for newborns to 18 months (I have some but I know that I will go through them fast

It is probably better to send small packages than larger ones. We will get them but it just takes awhile. Also remember that it is expensive to ship here.

Their mailing address is:

Andy Langdon

Ministry of Hope

PO Box 395


On their page they also have a link to the Langdon Kids blog, which is a kids perspective on living in Malawi.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Who Are They?

We got some new pictures from Julie today. These 2 capture some of what in my mind is who our girls are.

To me, Marta is serious, and somewhat pensive. And from what we have heard she is just adorable, very loving, nurturing and helpful.

Then there is Meklit who we are told is a "pistol" who is "very adorable and she knows it", and from the pictures we have she is all of this and more. We have seen the adorable little girl shots, an "Ethiopian pout" shot, and this one of a very playful, happy girl. It sounds like she and Joy will be very similar, so that should be fun and interesting at times. Almost like twin princesses!

And who are these girls going to become? What are the plans that God has for these precious ones? I don't know yet, but am thrilled to have front row seats as we all find out. Not long now!


Group A!!!

We just heard from AAI that we are in Group A, which means our file will be in the first group the court sees when it reopens in October! The Ethiopian courts are closed each year for the Ethiopian New Year from early August to early October, so everyone is anxiously waiting for news of the reopening, and how they unjam the bottleneck of cases that have piled up during those 2 months.

This is such good news as it means that Marta will be home for the holidays, and Meklit 2-4 months later.

Happy day in the Downen house. Maybe we will have to have a little party tonight!


Tuesday, September 05, 2006


We finally got pictures of the girls getting their gift bags! This is the step in the process with AAI when they find out that they have a family, and they get a bag with a t-shirt, photo album, a couple small gifts and a letter from us. It is the first time they see pictures of their family, and hear through the letter that they are loved and very much wanted. Or, as it says on the shirts that Lisa found for the girls, Chosen. He has chosen them for us, and us for them, and now they know.

As much as this father's heart would love to have them crying tears of joy and singing praises to God as they look at pictures of us for the first time, the reality is that while it is a blessing to them to start to know of us and their futures, there is almost more unknown now than before. So many questions in these dear one's hearts and minds as they ponder all of the uncertainties involved with getting a new family.

Atleast these are my perceptions of what they must go through, and I can't imagine the emotions...fear, hope, joy, etc. that they must cycle through on their portion of this journey. I just want to hold them, let them know that they are loved, that they are safe and secure, and...and...and...but there will be time for that later.

For now it will have to suffice that they know they will be together again, in a family, and my prayer is that God will answer our prayers and fill in the remaining gaps so their spirits know the rest of the story.

One happy Dad.


Friday, September 01, 2006

Suffer The Little Children

God bless the Langdon family. While I don't know them personally, I feel like I do know something of their heart, and want to know and realize in myself their passion for going and doing. They are a family of 8 who used to live near us, and earlier this year packed up and moved to Malawi, Africa to start a new orphanage. I would say that they have heard and obeyed.

Based on what they have done, I think that they would say "right on" to Tom's post about Scary Books, my discussion about obedience, and Avery's holy rant about the good fight, as they are doing what most of us Christians in America say we all should do. They are walking their talk, and I pray that God blesses each step of their journey beyond what they could even hope for.

You can find them at Suffer The Little Children and read about their journey, the new babies in their lives, and better yet get connected to them to pray, support, or anything else God would have you do in response to what I would call their radical obedience.