A sparrow when I'm broken, and eagle when I fly.....

Welcome to my world. I am an ordinary wife and mom who has been extraordinarily blessed by an amazing husband and house full of beautiful children. My prayer is that you will be somehow blessed by our family's story. It is a tale of God's grace and forgiveness...His loving kindness and patience with us His children as we strive & struggle everyday to bless His name with our lives

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Our new daughter Towabech

Here she is...isn't she beautiful? Towabech is a nine year old darling girl that we've been waiting to bring home from Ethiopia. She is now with her new Daddy Mike and new sister Yasab in Addis Ababa. The U.S. embassy appointment is next Wednesday. If all goes as planned Towabech will have her visa on Friday and the three of them will fly home next Friday night. They will be here a week from today! Here is an earlier photo of her last winter after she found out she had a family...

I love this picture of her swimming at the Hilton on an orphanage field trip. She looks delighted to be in the water. She is post polio and her legs do not function well...Being in the water is something she loves! It give her more freedom of movement. I'm so glad God gave us a home with a nice in ground swimming pool. I just know Towabech will become a "fish" next summer just like the other kids. Once our hot tub is fixed it will be great therapy for her just like it is for Maggie with her CP.

Here I am with my brand new daughter! This was taken last month when Mike, Jarib and I traveled to Ethiopia for the court date for adoption. I just can not wait to love on this girl!

Here is her proud Daddy with her...

Soon we will all be together again and Towabech can get to know the rest of her family. What an amazing Thanksgiving celebration we'll have!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Anniversary~Family Day

Tuesday November 9th was Mike and my 20th wedding anniversary. If you read my previous post you heard about the surprise super duper camera he bought as an anniversary gift. On Tuesday night he came home early from work to finish packing to leave for Ethiopia the next morning. I'd found a prime rib hiding in the freezer to make for dinner and also served giant Costco baked potatoes with all the extras added. The kidlets tummies were huge and bloated with beef when dinner was done. Those guys are all such carnivores. After the kids went to bed Mike and I opened a small bottle of champagne and got to visit just the two of us for about an hour. Not the most romantic anniversary that ever happened...but still a pleasure. I will always remember it as the anniversary that Mike left early the next morning to bring me home a child. As far as I am concerned there is nothing hotter than a man who travels around the world to bring me a new "baby".

As we celebrated our wedding anniversary we were really celebrating our "Family Day". That day twenty years ago Mike and I became a family. At our wedding there were also six children...Mike's two daughters and my four children. But even if we had been childless then, that was the day our family was formed. Mike and I and the Lord ARE the family. The children we had when we married and those we have added since then...are all welcomed members of our family....but Mike and I would be "family" with or without children. And we would NOT be family or anything for that matter without the Lord. I can say with 100% surety that if the Lord was not a member of our marriage...we would not be married. Most likely would never have been married.....but for sure we would not still be married. Mike is an amazing wonderful man but he is just as flawed a human being as I am. When things are going great...there is the Lord showing us it is Him who is blessing us. When things are going horribly , there is God ever ready..showing us grace and mercy. Teaching us about "do overs". In laughter and in sorrow it really always is about Him. All of it. Even when things are so stressful that both Mike and I could just about explode into a million angry pieces...There is our Father..wooing us from the side lines.."Do it My way" "show love" "show patience" "seek peace" "forgive" "Don't give up!" and like always.. "Just lean on Me". So Mike honey...I miss you so badly now when you are half a world away. You are my hero always and forever. Thank you sweetheart for your patience with me all these years. Thank you taking such good care of all of us and being such a good leader. Thank you for making me feel like the prettiest girl at a party. Thank you most of all for loving God and choosing every day to follow Him..on the easy paths and the hard, hard roads. It's all been a grand adventure and there is no one else I'd want to share it with.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Shiny New Things

I have always referred to myself as a high maintenance kind of gal. When I say this it is referring to my need to be coddled and "held up" in my frequent super charged emotional times (which happens to me a lot). Mike is very good with me. I get too passionate about stuff sometimes and just so blooming dramatic that it takes a level head to remind me everything is okay. Mike (my level headed better half) reminds me:
#1) the sun will come up tomorrow
#2) I am not responsible for everyone's happiness
#3) in our marriage we have endless "do overs" when one of us screws up #4) I can not save every child...
and most important ...
#5) God's grace in big enough to cover our mistakes and He is still on His throne!

In other ways I am not so needy. Don't need expensive clothes or makeup. Don't need birthday and anniversary gifts. Don't need to be surprised with flowers or dinner out. I really don't even need my husband to talk to me when he gets home from work with his daily alloted words already used up.

I do though have a "love language". It involves small shiny things...and I don't mean jewelry. Mike bought me an IPOD nano after Jonathan died so I could listen to praise music on my walks along the river. It was so cool. Soon I wanted a bigger one. Mike then bought me a superduper IPOD which holds more music than I could ever possibly listen too plus tons of T.V. and movies. I love it.

Then there is my phone. I have gone from a Blackberry (now Tigist's) to a G1 (dropped in the pool), and now have this little beauty below. The Samsung Vibrant is called a smart phone but you don't even have to be smart to use it. Who would have ever thought a phone could do so many things?
Mike really is a thrifty guy. If I tell him I want something like a new phone...he always says no, can't afford that. When I tell him the kids need new shoes...he says no, that will have to wait. You get the idea. He automatically says no to spending money. But everyone's needs always get met in the right time. And when he has the money for something he knows I want he gets it for me. And I am always surprised. Really. I think sometimes Mike waits to buy me a longed for item. I think he waits for one of those hard days that I really need something special to give me a lift.

This came a few weeks ago after a rough week. A pretty new home for my IPOD with excellent speakers. Now we can all listen to the great music collection and also watch the videos on the TV that is wired to the stereo too
And sometimes BIGGER is better. Since I like shiny little things my cameras have always been slick slim small ones that slide into my pocket. But I have been disappointed with the quality of photos. Lately I have just been using my phone for picture taking. I have for years admired the photography of some of my fellow blogger moms (and you know who you are). They cart around these huge cameras with long lenses that look so cumbersome. But oh my! what gorgeous photos those moms post on their blogs and facebook. I have dreamed and dreamed of someday taking those kind of photos for my family. But getting a camera like that seemed way out of reach financially. I just kept dreaming.

Mike and I celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary on Tuesday. He has no days off to celebrate it with a date night and he leaves Wednesday for 10 days in Ethiopia. But he sure made it up to me. We took the littles to Costco for lunch last Wednesday and we walked out with this!!! Happy Anniversary!
I am the proud new owner of a Nikon 5000D with all the goodies. Sometimes bigger is better and I don't think this will ever feel cumbersome. I am so spoiled.
I know happiness never comes from "stuff". But new stuff sure can be fun! Here's to many happy years of amazing photos of my beautiful children and grandchildren and even some of my handsome loving generous husband.

I miss the peeps!

Our son Jake and his wife Holly came for a visit last week with their three darling children. Holly is a avid photographer...I grabbed some of Holly's photos off her blog of the little "peeps" Silas age 5, Lauren age 3 and Claire just turned 1. Aren't they beautiful?!

We had such a great visit with Jake, Holly and their kids when they came. Not only is she a great photographer, Holly is also a talented blogger and she wrote an entertaining post about their visit last week. I HIGHLY suggest you check it out. Holly tried to teach me how to add a hyperlink to a name...if I remembered it right then you should be able to get to her blog post by clicking in her name.
Jake and Holly are about my most favorite grownups (along side our other adult kids of course) and the "grandblessings" make getting older worth it. You have to get older to get grand kids right? All those wrinkles, achy knees and gray hairs seem just a slight irritation compared to the pure joy of a grandchild's neck hug and sweet sticky kiss.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Family introduction

Our Family Introduction (just in case anyone is interested)
Mike and I knew each other in high school but never really got to know each other or hung with the same crowd.....I do remember thinking about him in high school a lot and even having dreams about him. Both of us became parents while teens (with other people) and so were were busy growing up fast back in those days. After high school we pretty much forgot all about each other.
Ten years later I found myself a divorced welfare mom with 4 young children. My youngest child a baby girl named Gayge had died of SIDS and I was still in middle of the recovery from that. One day I forced myself to go to a church singles/social group and who should walk in but Mike Feser! Mike worked at a nuclear power plant and was also divorced and dad to two girls a bit older than my kids. He looked so handsome....sigh. My heart still flutters to think of that night when we saw each other in that church lobby. We remembered one another instantly and could not keep our eyes of each other. We became instantly twitterpated....just like Bambi and Faylene in the movie. That was it...ever since then we've been inseparable. We were married almost twenty years ago. What an adventure God had in store for us!

We started out married life with the six kids between us and within a year we had added a bio baby boy. Seven kids was a lot to us and everyone else we knew, and we KNEW our family was complete.

Mike and I considered ourself Christians and we were. But after we'd been married about ten years God starting working on our hearts and began to call us out of our "lukewarmness". It was an exciting time and we had no idea what plans God had for our lives ....but I was sure it was something exciting. The main thing was that the Lord had brought us to a place where we were ready to do whatever he said. What he told us to do was a BIG surprise.

When we first felt the Lord prompt us about adoption I was thinking it was a big misunderstanding. Mike was SURE it was a misunderstanding. After all we already had seven children, most all of them about grown up. We had no desire to have any more. Early retirement and life spent enjoying grandchildren and our golden years sounded really good. But God spoke very clearly to us that we were suppose to adopt a baby girl from China. It was only after we agreed to do what He said did we get jazzed up about the idea. So it began....

We were such adoption virgins then that we were scared about everything. How could we get the money to adopt a child let alone pass a homestudy with our backgrounds???! Would we ever be able to love an adopted child like a birth child?? What if our adopted child had something "wrong" with them like they were sick or had brain damage? What is they had been abused??! Oh goodness what if we were referred a toddler and not a baby? How could we "bond" with an older child? So many fears and doubts. But our Father was infinitely gentle and kind. He took us baby step by baby step. When we opened our hearts and ears to what He wanted us to do...what He told us to do....then we found He made it our heart's desire. He calmed our fears and gave us faith....abundantly. Even when He told us to do things that were scary, out of our comfort zone to say the least....He was holding us...giving us what we needed at that moment. What a beautiful thing to be able to "rest in Him"!

December 2001 we found ourselves in China adopting Anna 20 mos old with minor amputee issues. Six months later we were in South Africa adopting Josiah 14 mos with mild CP and Maggie 11 mos with CP, and a VP shunt. Next in August 2003 came Miriam almost 4 years old from China with limb difference. Mulu age 14 and Yasab age 10 came home from Ethiopia in January 2004. A year later in April 2005 we brought home their friends Tigist age 12 and Meseret age 8 long waiting bio sisters at Layla. With the girls we adopted unrelated Berhanu age 3 with retinoblastmo (eye cancer). That next October (2005) we got a surprise phone call about a newly born baby boy in our state with Down Syndrome. That was our sweet Jonathan. Solomon came home from Ethiopia at Christmas a few months later at age 15 mos with spina bifida. 2005 was the year we moved from our farm back to town and adopted 5 kids. Busy! In June of 2006 we adopted 15 year old Roza from Ethiopia who needed a new family. A few months later 15 year old Haiminot from Ethiopia joined the family as she also needed a new family. Mike traveled in early 2007 for then 5 year old Tamar MyHao from Vietnam. She is "chromosonally enhanced" (Down Syndrome) like Jonathan was. In spring of 2009 we got another "surprise" our newborn baby boy Jarib from Alabama with spina bifida. Our next adoptions happened in this past year. Two little boys from Ethiopia, Judah Gezehegn age 4 with Down Syndrome came home in last October (2009), and Job Assefa age 18 mos (HIV) came home in February. Mike leaves for Ethiopia October 10th to go pick up our new daughter Towabech age 9 (post polio).

Of course our children are not defined by any sort of special needs. We really rarely ever think about who has what medical issue and whose history includes whatever. There are some things that our kids came with like Hep B, burn scars or major abuse background that are too private to share. The only reason I share their special needs here is this...to show how God worked on the hearts of a couple that was initially so frightened of adopting and so against adopting kids that had special needs. Isn't is amazing?! Mike and I have seen so many miracles and heelings in our children. But the truly amazing miracles are that of a changed heart and new life.

We live in an average size house (2500 sq feet or so) and Mike has a average income. We are normal flawed people who struggle to be a decent spouse to each other and good parents to our kids. I think all our kids are awesome but they are normal...not perfect by any means. We get tired and discouraged at times. We need each other so when one is struggling the other can boost the needy one up ( I must be honest here and say it is usually me Julee who needs Mike's level head to hold me up). But we love each other passionately. More importantly we love God with joyful deep abandon and an unfailing trust He has taught us through our mountain top experiences and the deep dark valleys we have walked. We are ordinary people whom God has extraordinarily blessed. All because we choose to do what He said and let Him be the boss. This is a concept that is not a one time choice and "that is it and a done deal!" kind of thing. It is something we have to struggle with, muck through, and pray for all the time. But we find living life in God's will is the very best this world has to offer. Total fulfillment. Total peace. Feeling like we are living and breathing exactly what we were made to do.

So for those keeping track and who care about such things.. here are the facts:
~Mike and Julee both age 51 big ole years old and married 20 years
Blessed with 26 precious children:
~Dalaina (bio) who is Safeway manager age 34 married to Rob and mommy to Skylar and Robert
~Lindsay (bio)who is Starbucks manager age 33 married to Sean in Colorado ~ Cody (bio) age 32 sous chef and talented musician in Maine
~ Tasha (bio) age 29 wonderful mommy to Maryn age 13 in Portland.
~Jake (bio) age 27 business owner and city councilman in Oregon, husband to Holly and daddy to Silas, Lauren and Claire
~Kayla (bio) age 25 CNA and big sister extraordinaire
~ Mulu Hope (Ethiopian) age 20+ model and medical assistant in Seattle adopted at age 14
~Haiminot "Haimi" (Ethiopian) age 20 medical assistant and mommy to sweet baby girl Makeda, adopted at age 15
~Roza (Ethiopian) age 19 dental assistant in Everett and expectant mommy to baby girl due in Dec 2010 adopted at age 15
~ Michael (bio) age 19 Safeway checker and collage student for English degree
~Tigist (Ethiopian) age 18, 11th grade high school student who wants to be a doctor adopted at age 12
~Yasab (Ethiopian) age 17, homeschool 10th grade high schooler adopted at age 10
~Meseret (Ethiopian) age 13, 7th grade homeschool junior higher adopted at age 8
~Miriam (Chinese) age 10 and 5th grade homeschooler adopted at age 3 1/2 years
~Anna (Chinese) age 10 and 5th grader adopted at age 20mos.
~Josiah (Zulu-South African) age 9 and 3rd grade homeschooler adopted at age 14 mos
~Magdalene "Maggie" (Xhosa-South African) age 9 and 3rd grader adopted at age 11 mos
~Berhanu (Ethiopian) age 8 and 2nd grade homeschooler and adopted at age 3 yrs
~Tamar MyHao (Vietnamese) age 8 and 2nd grader adopted at age 5
~Solomon (Ethiopian) age 6 and Kindergartner adopted at age 15 mos
~Judah (Ethiopian) age 5 Pre-K and adopted at age 4 years
~Job (Ethiopian) age 2 and adopted at age 18 mos
~Jarib (from Alabama) age 17 mos adopted at birth
~Gayge (bio) with us her earthly life from 8/4/88-12/17/88
~Jonathan adopted at birth. With us here for his life from 10/23/05-4/3/08
~ newest daughter Towabech age 9 due home soon from Ethiopia!!!
Are you caught up with us now? Good. It never lasts for long. Our life and family is always changing praise the Lord!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy Birthday 5th Judah Gezehegn!

Judah turned 5 years old last Sunday. And yes his birthday is the day after Jonathan's. Kinda cool and like a kiss from heaven when we were given the birth day his birth mom gave when he was left at the orphanage when he was nine months old. Below is the photo that was the first time we ever saw his face. Mike and I took a visit trip/2nd honeymoon to Ethiopia in October 2008. The morning before we left I got this photo from a friend at Gladney Adoption Agency about this little Down Syndrome toddler that was in their orphanage in Addis. We visited "Gezi" several times during our time in Ethiopia. We fell madly in love with him and vowed to bring him home to become a "Feser". We are so thankful that AAI and Gladney worked together to make it possible for us to adopt Judah Gezehegn and baby Job Assefa together.
I was super blessed to be able to make several visit trips to Ethiopia during the adoption "wait" for Judah and Job. This photo was taken on one of the trips is AAI's "Wanna" the baby toddler section of their home in Addis. It was so hard to leave Judah each visit. Job was so very loved and adored at AHOPE that he really didn't ever seem to care when or if I came or when I left. Judah was MUCH harder to leave. He was sickly and always seem t0 grieve when I had to leave. It was agonizing.
This photo was on the trip that I got to bring Judah home in October 2009! He passed court before Job so I had to wait until February to go back to get Job. But here is first time Judah and Job met at AHOPE where Job lived.

When Judah came home unbeknown to everyone Judah was very ill with active TB. It was good thing no one knew before he came home! If he had tested TB + in Ethiopia we would not have been able to get his visa for a long time. And he may have not lived to make it home. Once home and diagnosed he was put on four very awful drugs to treat the TB. It was a long 10-11 mos dealing with the side effects of medicine used to cure his TB. He finally was done with the meds the last day of July this summer. Since then he has thrived and is super happy and healthy. Here is is in August playing with the Tonka trucks that are the most favorite of little boy toys at our house.

Taken last Sunday October 24th, 2009...turning 5 was a great day!
Happy, Happy Birthday big guy. We love and adore you and are sooooo blessed to have you in our family!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

No Premature Deaths

There are no premature deaths. Really. I know this because I believe what God says in His word.

"All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalms 139:16

I believe that means He knows our "birth" day to our "death" day. Just like He knows the day our real life begins in eternity.

Not only does God know every day of our whole life but He knows us intimately from our first second of life. In the same Psalm He says..

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. Praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body."

Psalms 139:13-15

I believe we are created without mistake or flaw....fearfully and wonderfully made. Jonathan was wonderfully made including his special extra chromosome that makes a person Down Syndrome. I also know that God knew Jonathan's bone marrow would one day stop working. He knew that our precious little boy would die a long horrible and painful death from aplastic anemia. Do I know why? No. There is much I do not know or understand. But I do not have to understand all that because of the things I do know. I know God. I know God is good and only good and that He makes no mistakes. I know that when we suffer and are in pain He is right there with us...leading us through it and closer to Him.

Today was a day of happy and sad memories. Jonathan would have been five years old today if he had lived. I also realized he has been gone just about as long as we had him with us. He died about 2 1/2 years ago at about age 2 1/2 years.

October 23rd 2005..."the first time ever I saw your face"

A dream come true....our sweet baby boy. What a miracle and a surprise from God!

October 23rd 2006 Jonathan's 1st birthday...
October 23rd 2007 He'd been diagnosed with aplastic anemia 6 mos before and we were so thankful he had survived to his 2nd birthday. A day of celebration and praying for the transplant and healing to happen soon.

These photos were taken while Jonathan and I were living at the Ronald McDonald House waiting for transplant. This was about one of the last times I remember him having a day without pain. He was dead a few months later.
I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living ...
my baby you'll be.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Job Assefa

I never shared about our newest "blessing" that joined the Feser family. We started the process to adopt Job in June 2008 just a few months after Jonathan died. We found out about tiny baby Assefa August 4th 2008 and received the official referral a few weeks later. Here is a photo of him a friend took when he was about a month old. The name Assefa means "God has multiplied/blessed our family" and Job means "flourishing through affliction"
Mike and I traveled to Ethiopia to visit Job (and have a 2nd honeymoon.) Here is Job at age 2 months when we first met him face to face. I was able to visit him in Ethiopia several more times before his adoption was finalized in Ethiopian court and I could bring him home.

Job was much adored and loved at "little AHOPE" in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. He had the same caregivers from the time he was a few weeks old till I brought him to the U.S. to join our family. Here he is at 18 months at his going away party at AHOPE. It was hard for him and I and harder still for his beloved nannies that had to say goodbye to him. Many tears were shed that day. We thank God for the loving care he received at AHOPE and know he was well loved there. I brought him home (finally) in February. A long long wait that was well worth it!

Here is Job today at home. He turned two years on July 4th. He is a smart little boy and learning new things at lighting speed. Like lots of brilliant kids I know he tends toward the naughty side of things. We love him just gobs and gobs. He is doing so well and is very healthy in spite of his "special need".

Here is our three "baby" boys that God brought home to us in about a year's worth of time. We are so rich and greatly blessed.

Judah almost 5 years old. Job almost 2 years and Jarib age 16 mos. Enjoying the last week or two of glorious sunny weather this fall of 2010

Starting Over....

How do I come back after being away so long? Honestly when I last wrote a blog post over a year ago I never dreamed I would disappear and become a "dead beat blogger". Every time I have thought to get back to blogging again... I just never know where to start? how to cover the past year's events? There really is no way to play catch up. I just need a "do over"; a new beginning. So that is what I will do. I won't try to fill in all the blanks of the last year but will just jump into the here and now. Lots of adoptive moms blog in order to be a advocate for adoption and too encourage others going through similar experiences. Those are great reasons but they are not my reasons for blogging. I need it. I need the outlet and the "voice". It is therapy. Grownup talk. I'm a girl that has a high need to share what's on my heart, what I care about. So here goes...

"Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16

His door is always open to His children. He's never too busy, too tired, or too impatient to welcome us into His glorious presence.