Tuesday, October 4

Family Pics. . .

Anna made this for me after our recent day trip to the beach.

And just think we have a session scheduled for an extended family portrait of 13 of us. . .7 kids, 6 adults.

I'll remind everyone of Anna's quote :)

Tuesday, September 13

Got Plans for Dinner this Thursday, 9/15??

Got plans for dinner this Thursday night??

Our friends the Corbetts have just started the process of adopting a little girl from Ethiopia (using the same agency we did).

And this Thursady, Sept. 15 from 5-8pm, there is a fundraiser at the Fall
s Village Chick-Fil-A (located at 6701 Falls of Neuse Rd).

If you bring in the below flier, a portion of your dinner purchase will go towards their adoption.

You MUST have the above flier in order for the Corbetts to receive the proceeds from your sale. They are not allowed to hand them out that night. The easiest way to print would be to copy and paste into a word document and then print.

You can even use the flier at the drive-thru. But I think you might want to come in because the Corbetts are holding
a raffle and silent auction. See the Corbett's blog to see the items they will be raffling and the items that are included in the silent auction (photo sessions, beach rentals, mt. rentals, jewelry, and more!)

What an easy way to encourage a family. . what an easy way to make a difference. . .what an easy way to care for the orphan. . .

I hope to see you there. Rob has open house that night at his school so it will just be me and the kids. My hope is to be inside hanging out. . letting my younger kids play on the playground. . .us eating some chicken nuggets and fries. . .but depending on how the kids are doing, I may have to swing thru drive-thru.

Saturday, August 6

You Gotta Watch This: Kisses from Katie video

Here's another reminder of what happens when we say yes to God.

Below is another reminder that God does not put an age limit on when He starts using you. . or when you can hear His voice. . .or when He gives you a "call on your life".

Below is another reminder that God can use ordinary people to do extraordinary Kingdom work.

And below is another reminder that my kids belong to God and not me.

You gotta watch this video about Katie Davis:

What a great video to show my kids. . .to show our youth group.

And below is Amazon's description of the book:

What would cause an eighteen-year-old old senior class president and homecoming queen from Nashville, Tennessee, to disobey and disappoint her parents by forgoing college, break her little brother’s heart, lose all but a handful of her friends (because the rest of them think she has gone off the deep end), and break up with the love of her life, all so she could move to Uganda, where she knew only one person but didn’t know any of the language?"

A passion to make a difference.

Katie Davis left over Christmas break her senior year for a short mission trip to Uganda and her life was turned completely inside out. She found herself so moved by the people and children of Uganda that she knew her calling was to return and care for them. She has given up a relatively comfortable life—at a young age—to care for the less fortunate of this world. She was so moved by the need she witnessed, she's centered her life around meeting that need. Katie, a charismatic and articulate young woman, is in the process of adopting 13 children in Uganda, and she completely trusts God for daily provision for her and her family.

Despite the rough conditions in which Katie lives, she has found a life of service to God to be one of great joy. Katie's children bring constant delight and help her help others by welcoming whoever comes to their door. As the challenges grow, so does Katie's faith and her certainty that what she's doing in Uganda, one person at a time, will have far-reaching rewards. It isn't the life she planned, but it is the life she loves.

To further her reach into the needs of Ugandans, Katie established Amazima Ministries. The ministry matches orphaned children with sponors worldwide. Each sponsor's $300/year provides schooling, school supplies, three hot meals a day, minor medical care, and spiritual encouragement. Katie expected to have forty children in the program; she had signed up 150 by January 2008; today it sponsors over 400. Another aspect of the ministry is a feeding program created for the displaced Karamojong people—Uganda's poorest citizens. The program feeds lunch to over 1200 children Monday-Friday and sends them home with a plate of food; it also offers basic medical care, Bible study, and general health training.

Katie Davis, now 22, is more than fascinating, she's inspiring, as she has wholeheartedly answered the call to serve.

Here is a link to Katie's blog.

Here is a link to Katie's ministry.

And here is a link to the book, Kisses from Katie on Amazon. I look forward to reading this book aloud to my kiddos.

Tuesday, June 28

What is going well. . .

Sometimes you just need to go around the table and speak out what it going well.

Galeta has been home for 3 weeks now and all 7 of us are in the midst of major change, transition, adjusting, sacrificing. . .it has not been easy for any of us. Here's 6 of the 7 of us. . I was taking the picture. I love how everyone is connected. . touching. . holding hands.

So this evening we went around that table and each said what we were liking about the summer. We reminded each other that there were some good points to our summer days.

Here are our answers:

David: the pool, especially the fact that we now let him ride his bike up there by himself

Anna: she said David stole her answer. . she too likes the freedom of riding her bike up to the pool

Jonathan: He liked the thunder and rain. . which Rob pointed out was a good thing since he used to be so scared of the thunder. He also said he likes the painting we have been doing.

Brooke: playing with her friends at the pool and the fact that she and Anna get to homeschool Galeta and Jonathan

Galeta had a list of 4 things. We were amazed he understood the question. This is what he said:

"bike, pool, outside, hungry, oranges, bananas, raisins, all done"

It made me cry. He was saying he likes his new bike that is his very own (he no longer had to ride Jonathan's), the pool, going outside, and when he is hungry he got his choice of oranges, bananas, or raisins. All done meant he had nothing more to say and it was my turn.

Su: I hate to admit that it took me longer to come up with an answer than the kids. I was glad I was #6 and had a few minutes to think. I had 3 things on my list:

1. the older kids have really rallied and helped out tons with Galeta and Jonathan. . they take them outside to ride bikes, jump on trampoline, walk the neighbor's dog. Anna and Brooke homeschool Galeta and Jonathan teaching them their letters and sounds. . .even come up with lesson plans the night before. . like they had the boys flip thru magazines and cut out all the "G"s they found.

2. I was thankful for friends dropping off groceries and meals. . .giving me one less thing to think about. . .and a little adult interaction in the day.

3. I was thankful for the summer months where Rob is able to come home 30 min-hour earlier than usual. Making it until 5pm is a lot easier than making it til 6pm.

: I think we never got to him. . . by then I think Galeta was on his 2nd helping of dinner, J had spilled his water, and Anna and David were in need of a ride to youth group. . .and that is exactly why it is good to remember what is going well.

Friday, June 17

a sweet conversation I had in the airport. . .

On our flight home, we had a layover in Washington, home of many Ethiopian immigrants. There is even a section of DC called Little Ethiopia.

As Rob and Galeta were entering the airport bathroom, the worker asked, "Is he Ethiopian?" pointing to Galeta.

I smiled and said, "Yes, are you?"

She said "Yes." And then thanked me for adopting an older boy. She told me he was handsome and that he was lucky.

I stumbled over my words and told her, I thought I was the lucky one. That I could not believe I got to be his mom. And honestly, I was embarrassed by my response. Did she understand what I meant? Did she get my heart?

She continued by telling me that many of her friends killed themselves in Ethiopia because there was no food and killing themselves was better than dying a slow death of starvation. She said that is why so many Ethiopian have come here to DC.

She asked me if my boy's mom and dad were dead.

I said yes. She nodded as if to say, of course they are.

I told her adoption was not the ideal. That I wanted Galeta to be in Ethiopia with his mom and dad. And that sometimes the world was not fair. Again, I wondered did she get me? Not because she did not speak or understand English. . she did and spoke it very well. . .but did she really get that I loved this boy like my own flesh and blood.

She nodded. She said she knew well that life was not fair. She then asked why I would adopt a child that was not related to me. I was a little taken aback by the personal questions and began to think, "Where is Rob? He always knows just what to say, has the right words." I am so not a fast thinker.

But Rob was still in the bathroom with Galeta and so with tears in my eyes, I just told her the truth.

I told her because deep deep inside me. . .how could I say no to a kid who needed a mom and dad when I could give him that. I told her that Rob and I had a good marriage and promised to be together forever.

I told her because deep deep inside me. . .how could I say no to a kid who wanted to belong to brothers and sisters. . .who wanted to belong to a family. . . when I could give him that. I told her that I had 4 other children that were so excited for Galeta to come home.

I told her because deep deep inside me. . .how could I say no to a kid who needed a home when I have been blessed with a house that could easily hold one more.

I promised her that I would always love Galeta and always take care of him.

She asked me if I was a Christian.

I said yes, that is the real reason I can adopt this child. I told her that God gave me this love for this boy. Again. .wondering if I was speaking the right words. . oh, I was so nervous.

She asked what kind of Christian?

I hesitated knowing that this is where our different backgrounds might confuse us. So I simply said, "One that loves Jesus and wants to show His love to others."

She smiled. And at that point I think she got me. We were on the same page. We both knew that injustice is wrong. We both knew that all kids are made in the image of Our Creator. We both knew that we were put on this earth for more than our own pleasure.

I am sharing this story at:

where women are talking about The Practice of Faith.

Thursday, June 9

Tuesday, June 7

How It is Going. . .How He is Reacting. ..It's Been 3 Days

We've been home 3 days now. A family of 7 for 3 days.

All things considered, we are doing really well.

Galeta is a sweet boy. The first thing he did when we entered our home was unzip our suitcase and give each of his siblings a wrapped gift. These gifts of traditional Ethiopian clothes were from our adoption agency. Galeta also got his Ethiopian clothes out of the suitcase and put them on.

Galeta instructed Brooke on how to wear the scarf with her dress.

And then Galeta went outside to investigate the skateboards, bikes, and go carts he eyed when he walked up the porch stairs into the house. Yes, within an hour of being home, Galeta was whizzing down the hill. So much for not overstimulating him.

He will fit in just pefectly with the crazy Soutter kids (and Dad!)

Every morning after breakfast. . and Galeta is getting up sooo early (this morning it was 4am, guess he is still on Ethiopian time). . .he is outside riding fearlessly down the hill.

Our goal really was for a slow pace life. . a non stimulating environment. We had purged or boxed up so many items. But even without all the toys and decor. . .life with 4 siblings is very, very stimulating.

The kids adore Galeta and are constantly wanting to show him something or asking him a question or just simply trying to get his attention by repeating his name over and over again.

Last night we talked to the kids about not calling his name, but simply watching what he was doing and then joining him in that activity. If he is coloring, they are to color with him. . .not ask him if he wants to go outside or if he wants to play trains. If he is sitting on the couch, they are to sit with him.

I dropped David off at the pool last night. . just so he could have some time away from the chaos. And David told me, "I think we got the best kid, Mom. I really do. Galeta is so much fun to be around. And just think, in 6 months or so, when he knows English, he will be that much more fun!!" That made me smile.

Wrestling seems to be a universal boy thing. Yes, there are my 3 sons. Again, so much for not overstimulating Galeta.

And then Dad had to get in on the fun.

What else?

Galeta cries before naptime and bedtime. . from pure exhaustion? from being jetlagged? from being told to go to bed and he does not want to? from missing all that is familiar to him?? I am not quite sure. Probably a mix of it all.

And although my heart breaks to see tears run down his face, I am thankful. Thankful that he is showing emotion. Thankful that he is not numb. I know from all our adoption reading that this is a good sign.

And he also laughs easily.

He cannot be left alone. . .it is like having a 6 month old (who knows nothing), but a 6 month old with the physical capabilities of a 6 year old. I am thankful that David has stayed home from school the past 2 days. Gives me a little break.

But yesterday, David was mowing the neighbor's lawn. And Galeta watched him blow the grass off the driveway and the next thing I know, Galeta has the blower in his hand and is blowing the grass off our driveway. He is observant and smart. But cannot be left alone. He has already pushed the buttons of the dishwasher, stove, and stereo. He has already picked up the phone when it rings and said "hello".

Galeta is already learning English and can say all our names as well as:
come. toilet. shoes. I am thirsty. I am hungry.What it is? water. thank you. wash hands. Just today, he asked David, "Where is dog?". . cause David had left to walk the neighbor's dog. And when I served lunch, Galeta said, "Thank you Mom."

Rob has gotten pretty good at cooking Ethiopian food. We are thankful that we discovered that the Jerusalem Bakery next door to the Ethiopian restaurant here in Raleigh sells injera. And we discovered that injera freezes. Although, we discovered yesterday that Galeta likes fresh salsa with tortilla chips and hummus with crackers. He devours mangoes, bananas, and oranges. . .he has us all eating a little bit healthier.

He eats a lot. Because he does not know when his next meal is coming? Because food is so accessible? Because he really is hungry? He always clears his plate and often asks for more. He comes to me about every hour and half and says he is hungry. I right now am feeding him each time to communicate that I will take care of him. I am there to meet his needs.

This is definitely the hardest thing we have ever done and we are quite overwhelmed. There was no catching up from jetlag. There was hardly time to unpack and wash clothes with 5 kids longing for our attention. I have yet to get a shower. . only because I crave sleep more than clean hair and body. We are physically exhausted. And emotionally all over the place (me, not Rob, of course). I cry out hourly for strength and energy and wisdom and the control to not yell when J frustrates me or when Galeta makes a huge mess. And I keep reminding myself, to think big picture. .I envision what this boy is going to be like at 16. . .and I get tears of thankfulness and happiness in my eyes.

Our J is having the hardest time. All our kids are having to sacrifice for which we prepared them for. But J, being just 4 does not understand. He is used to being doted on by his 3 older siblings and now G is getting that attention. J screams and throws tantrums and cries often. He and G have already gotten into a fight while playing playdough and cars. But they also are the ones that play together the most often.

But you know, yesterday morning, Galeta grabbed my neck and kissed me. He initiated it, not me. Last night he crawled up in Rob's lap and put his head on his shoulder and stayed there for about 10 min while Rob rubbed his back. And it has only been 3 days. I think it is all going to work out just fine.

Monday, June 6

We Are Home!!

We landed in Raleigh at 1:34 on Saturday. . .after 27 hours of travel.

Travel went smoothly and we stayed safe and healthy. Most importantly we returned with Galeta. Galeta was so excited to get on that airplane. . .there are many stories to share. But 2 are:

1. On Friday, the day we were to leave, Galeta ran up to the guard of the guest house and told him that today was the day he was going to America.

2. In the airport, he saw another little girl that was obviously adopted and he went up to her and said in Amharic, "Do you know English yet? I already know a few words!!" (that is what the Ethiopian man behind us told us. . Galeta made the man giggle).

We spent most of the week hanging out at the Ethiopian guest house. It was very relaxing (no email or to-do list, no cooking or cleaning) and gave us many, many hours to bond with our new son.

Click here to see pictures of our reunion and read what our agency director wrote about our reunion (she just happened to be in Ethiopia when we were).

Thanks for all your emails. We will try to write a post tonight about how it is going and how Galeta is reacting so come back tomorrow.

Saturday, May 28

We leave tomorrow!!

We leave tomorrow. 4am. To travel 1/2 way around the world and drastically change the life of our family and little Galeta.

Here is a pic of Galeta taken yesterday. . it was after lunch and all the kids were suppose to be taking a nap.

I cannot believe I get to be this boy's mom. . .that I get to love him, and teach him, and disciple him, and be part of his healing. . .it makes me cry. I cannot believe God asked me?? I so wish more could experience this. . .it is crazy!!

We will land in Ethiopia on Monday morning and go get Galeta. We will spend Monday and Tuesday playing with Galeta at the guest house and possibly go shop at the market. On Wednesday all 3 of us go to our Embassy appointment. On Thursday we are supposed to go back to the orphanage where they will have a good-bye celebration. On Friday we pick up Galeta's visa and board the plane that night. After almost 24 hours of travel we will arrive in Raleigh on Saturday afternoon.

Our biggest prayer request is for Galeta. We know he is excited, but this will be a monumental transition. Can you imagine all the thoughts in his head as he enters this strange new land and brand new family? There will be nothing familiar. He has never been on a plane, eaten Cheerios, ridden a bike, seen so many white people... the list could go on for pages. And he won't speak English! So please pray for lots of peace as he makes this jump.

Thanks for sharing the journey with us. . now is when the real adventure begins!!

Friday, May 20

Galeta is Coming Home!!

On Sunday, May 29th we will board a plane and head to Ethiopia.

From Monday, May 30th on, Mommy, Daddy, and Galeta will finally be together!! Forever!

Here's a picture of Galeta that was taken just last week.

We have an Embassy date of Wed, June 1 where we apply for a visa. Our visa will be ready Friday, June 3 and we will leave for home. . all 3 of us that night.

Our plane lands on Sat, June 4 at 1:45pm. . .and that is when the real adventure begins!!

We are busy preparing for travel. . .I will be posting info on the blog. . prayer requests for when we travel. . need of items to take down to Ethiopia. . .info about meeting us at the airport, if you desire.

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More soon. Thanks for coming alongside us.

Monday, May 16

Galeta Gets a Letter from Us!!

We sent Galeta a few pictures and a letter. . . via a couple who is traveling this week to bring their son home. Here is Abdissa, our attorney showing Galeta the pictures and the letter, see it on the desk?

The letter read:

Dear Galeta-

We miss you. We pray for you everyday. We want to be with you.

There is still some paperwork that needs to be done and then we can come be with you. We are praying we get to be with you soon.

When we come to Ethiopia, we will spend a few days there and then Mommy, Daddy, and you will get on an airplane and fly to America.

We love you very much. We will always love you. We will take good care of you.

And then we put a picture of the 3 of us together when we were in Ethiopia,

and a picture of his 4 siblings telling him they were excited to play with him, and a picture of our van since last time we were there he was fascinated with vans and when we told him we had a van, he wanted to see it.

Please pray that we will be together forever soon.

Friday, May 13

Deja Vu: Our Case Was Submitted

So we got an email this Wed (May 11) that said our case was submitted to the Embassy Tuesday, May 10.

NOT last Tuesday as originally communicated.

I am emotionally frazzled.

I have been checking my email every 5 minutes.

I have been getting up in the middle of the night to check my email (because Ethiopia is 7 hours ahead of us).

And then thoughts like "what if my email is not communicating with the Embassy's email and I missed the email" keep running thru my mind.

I have not been able to concentrate on anything. . .and have been glued to my computer.

And I have been like that all last week, now I know. . . needlessly

And then here I am again this week.

So AGAIN, I sure would appreciate prayers that our case passes thru with no red flags. . that nothing needs to be investigated further. . and that we are simply assigned travel dates. We should hear the end of this week or early next week. . .maybe.

And I would appreciate prayers for the grace to "Be still, and know He is God". I would appreciate prayers that I realize who I am really waiting on. . that I am able to look back at God's long track record of perfect timing and faithfulness. Because as my girlfriend reminded me (cause I am barely thinking straight)::

You are not waiting on the Embassy.

You are not waiting for an email.

You are actually waiting on Him.

Tuesday, May 3

Our Case Was Submitted!

We JUST heard that our case was submitted to the US Embassy today.

Sure would appreciate prayers that our case passes thru with no red flags. . that nothing needs to be investigated further. . and that we are simply assigned travel dates.

We should hear in a few days. Thursday is a holdiay in Ethiopia. . .Patriot's Victory Day and commemorates the liberation from Italian occupation by the Allied Forces during the East African Campaign of 1941. . . so perhaps we will hear something Friday or early next week.

For about a month now, we have been praying that God would give us a visa by May 15th, a date we feel like was placed in our hearts. From an earthly perspective, this is not very likely. From the other perspective, our God is the King of the Universe who can do anything.

Either way, we rejoice that we are one step closer to bringing our son home.

Sunday, May 1

Why Are Things Taking So Long? Where's God?

It has been 3 months since we passed Ethiopian court. It has been 3 months since we met Galeta. We were emailed a recent picture. We almost did not recognize him with his shaved head:
We still are not in the Embassy.

The US Embassy is now requesting that all documents from Ethiopia include a lot of information that was not previously required. The US Embassy is also expecting that all names and dates match perfectly, which is not a strength of the Ethiopian culture. Galeta's name has been spelled Galeta, Geleta, Galata.

Prior to these new requirements from the Embassy, it took 6 weeks from court approval to Embassy submission.
Seems like our case is caught between the new rules and the old rules. Seems like we would have been grandfathered in under old rules since we had passed court so long ago, but no, more paperwork is being collected and since Galeta is from Gimbie, a village 12 hours from the capital, each new piece of paperwork, each piece that needs to be corrected is taking a while.

We are weary. We pray that Galeta knows we are true to our word and we will come back. We pray that the fact Galeta is getting lab work done and going to doctor appts. .all required by the Embassy. . .signals to him that our reunion is coming soon.

Sometimes when people hear of all the delays and obstacles, they ask questions like:
"Do these delays make you wonder if you missed God?" "Do they make you wonder if God doesn't want you to adopt?"

The answer is "No. No, the delays, bumps in the road, and obstacles do not make us wonder if we missed God." For starters we are very sure of the call God first gave us. We know the desire he place in the heart of all 6 of us. We vividly remember how the kids jumped up and down shouting for joy when we announced the decision to move forward and adopt again.

We also look at the way God has provided over the last year. How He brought Galeta into the orphanage the day before our dossier was accepted, how He provided $40,000, and how He connected us with a Raleigh family adopting Galeta's friends.

Lastly, we know that obstacles and delays are a part of following God. Many times when we step out in faith, we expect God to open the heavens and pave a clear path. But that is not the way it works. Typically when we step out, trials come. We see this pattern throughout the Bible:

Noah starts building an ark and his neighbors start making fun of him.
Moses asks Pharaoh to let his people go and Pharaoh says "no" (ten times!)
When Peter stepped out on the water, the wind and waves didn't stop. It almost appears as though the wind and waves got bigger once Peter got out of the boat.

No, obstacles and delays don't make us question the call of God, quite the opposite. We know adoption is on God's heart. We also know that satan hates adoption and would love nothing more than to keep us from our boy. We understand that obstacles and delays are a part of following God. We pray that we meet those obstacles with a faith and an attitude that honors Jesus.

1 Peter 1: 6-7 says:

In this (salvation) you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief and all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Friday, April 29

You Know You're an Adoptive Parent If:

The below made me smile when I originally stumbled upon it here. Posting it below so I have it "saved":

You know you're an adoptive parent (or should be) if:

1. The fact that there are 143 million children without a parent to kiss them goodnight has made you lose sleep.

2. You realize DNA has nothing to do with love and family.

3. You can't watch Adoption Stories on TLC without sobbing.

4. The fact that, if 7% of Christians adopted 1 child there would be no orphans in the world, is convicting to you.

5. You spend free time surfing blogs about families who have experienced the blessing of adoption.

6. It drives you crazy when people ask you about adopted child's "real" parents.

7. You have ever been "pregnant" with your adoptive child longer than it takes an elephant to give birth.(2 years!)

8. You had no idea how you would afford to adopt but stepped out in faith anyway, knowing where God calls you He will provide.

9. You have ever taken an airplane ride half-way around the world with a child you just met.

10. You believe God's heart is for adoption.

11. You realize that welcoming a child into your heart and family is one of the most important legacies you could ever leave on this earth.

12. You know what the word "Dossier" means, and you can actually pronounce it!

13. You have welcomed a social worker into the most private parts of your life.

14. You shudder when people say your child is so lucky that you adopted them, knowing full well you are the blessed one to have him or her in your life.

Monday, April 4

Wanna Join Me Friday Night for This. . .

Jeff and Kathy Boyum are the leaders of King's Kids Minnesota. King's Kids is a ministry of Youth With a Mission and is committed to discipling children, teenagers, and families. King's Kids believes in linking the generations. They also believe that God does not put an age limit on when He can use a person and thus believe in the capacity of kids, preteens, and teens to know God, hear God, and be used by God. Rob and I used to work with the King's Kids team here in Raleigh for many years.

Jeff and Kathy and their 7 children are coming to Raleigh while on a tour of Canada and the USA. They will be speaking this Friday night, April 8 at 7:30PM at Gateway Christian Fellowship which is located at 4900 Water's Edge Drive. I so want to go and would love for you to join me. We could all meet at my house at 7 and then ride together.

Here's a pic of the Boyum family:

And below is a little bit of the email the Boyums sent out explaining what they will be speaking on Friday night:

"God has a call and purpose for families. The promise made to Abraham is that he and his family would be blessed and they would then BE a blessing to the nations (Gen. 12:2, 18:18-19). As families "keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice," then nations will be blessed.

This is why we are going on the road: to encourage and challenge families to seriously seek God together about the plans He has for them. Families have great potential to impact the world for God's kingdom!

We believe very much that this is a time in our nation for Christian families to be encouraged and challenged to live the call of God out in exciting and radical ways.”

If you want to go. . .you certainly can just show up at the above time and location, but if you want to go with me. . .shoot me an email and let's see if we can ride together.

Tuesday, February 22

Check Out My Interview

I did an interview with Blanca over at the blog, Reintroducing Hope. Blanca desires to share stories that inspire hope and the boldness to dream anew. I am honored that "my story" would be categorized as such.

Blanca lives here in Raleigh and we have similar heartbeats. She is a risk taker. She longs to live on purpose. She frequently finds herself telling people, "Just because you haven’t seen someone else do it, doesn’t mean it can’t be done – YOU could be the first."

Click here to read the interview and if you have a moment, leave some comment love on Blanca's post.

Thursday, February 17

Learning to Let God Drive

I heard it again yesterday at the bus stop. The "Are ya'll done after Galeta comes home? Are ya'll gonna stop at 5?" I need to come up with a pat answer because I get asked that question at least once a day. Let me tell you what I really want to say when I get asked that question:

Rob and I weren't planning on having kids. It's not that we didn't like kids. We were both teachers, taught Sunday School, led youth group, went on mission trips with the youth. We were constantly investing in kids, but did not care to have any of our own. We were having too much fun just the 2 of us. We enjoyed the freedom and flexibility and knew kids would bring some serious limitations.

Then I got pregnant. I cried. Poor Rob did not know how to respond. We had no health insurance. And I was pregnant for 16 weeks and then miscarried. But during that 16 weeks, God grew in me and Rob a mother's and father's heart. Something more than just enjoying kids and investing in them. At this point we did not try to have kids, but we also didn't try to not have them. We were ok with either.

We quickly got pregnant again. .with Anna who is now 13. This time we rejoiced.

This is Anna's favorite picture of us. She says we should write a book one day and put this picture on the front. That makes me smile.

Again we did not try to have kids and year and half later we were pregnant with David. At this point we said we were done. We were trying not to have any more. God had other plans.

God's other plans were 7 months later we were pregnant with Brooke. This is when my grandfather pulled Rob aside and said it was about time we got a tv. He said it would be a lot cheaper. We had 3 kids under the age of 4. All of them were in diapers/pullups at the same time (and this was before I knew of the blessings of couponing and $4.50 packs of diapers). Now we really were done.

Again God had other plans. I remember Rob and I were at Rock Ola. . he was so scared to tell me what he had been sensing in his time with God. He was so scared to tell me that he felt like we were to adopt. I was a stay-at-home mom to 3 little kids, barely keeping my head above water. He told me and I cried. I had been sensing the same thing in my prayer time. I was scared to tell him because he was a 2nd grade teacher who had just quit to go back to grad school. An adoption cost more than he made in one year.

Jonathan came home from Guatemala about 3 years later. He was 10-months old at the time.

We weren't going to have kids, and now we have 4 and will be bringing home our fifth child, Galeta Soutter soon.

We had our plans and God had his. We are so thankful that God did not leave us to our own ways, but broke in. We are thankful for that first pregnancy. During that difficult time, God changed our hearts.

Rob and I can't imagine life without our 5 kids. Oh what a blessing they are. We are thankful that everytime we said, "We're done." God said, "Yeah, that's what you think."

I pray that God will continue to grow this heart in me. The heart that says, "Not my will, but yours be done." The heart that says, "God I've got this really great idea, but is it your idea?"

I am still learning to let God drive.

I am linking this post here, to A Place Called Simplicity (my favorite blog ever). Every Monday, this blogger hosts a Memorial Box Monday Party where bloggers remember the God stories of their lives. Click here for more details on what a Memorial Box is.

Monday, February 7

Make a Difference with Just a Click!!

Update: Lisa did win this grant!! Her proposal got the 2nd most votes!! Thank you to all who took the time to vote. I am so excited that a library is going to be built in Guatemala!!

More on Ethiopia and Galeta coming, but I want to remind you of my friend Lisa. Remember me telling you here about my world changing friend and how she has applied for a Kindermuisk Good Beginnings Grant.
If she and her organization, Caroline's Promise are in the top 5 organizations with the most votes on February 9, she will receive $1000 to build a library at Casita Adonai in Guatemala. My Anna is sponsoring a kindergartner at this school.

Right now Lisa is #6. . only behind by 110 votes.

Would you visit here every day between now and Feb 9?
That is today, tomorrow, and Wed!

Visit this link and at the top, click the button that says Search "Ideas by Votes".

Choose "Development of a library for inner city school children in Guatemala" It will probably be #5 or #6 on the page.

You can vote up to 10 x a day. Make sure you click that green vote circle ten time each day you visit.

You have to wait 24 hrs between each set of 10 votes.

Spread the word by posting on facebook or emailing, linking to this post or for even more detail, link to my post here. Invite your friends to make a difference with just a click.

And Feb 9, let's celebrate that we came alongside Lisa and made a difference, that we helped change lives, that we helped kids and parents learn to read. Really!!

I know that sometimes I can become so overwhelmed with the magnitude of all the problems of the world that I feel my little bit can't possibly make a difference. I can easily feel hopeless and often times fail to do something because I can't do everything or I can't do it "big enough". Let's not let that thinking creep in. . .let's believe our 2 minutes of time clicking on this link and then clicking on "vote" will make a difference.

I know for sure that small things done with great love can change the world.

Wednesday, February 2

Visiting Galeta at the "New" Orphanage

In Saturday's post we shared about meeting Galeta for the first time. Yesterday, we shared here about the long drive with Galeta back to the capital. Today we will share about our visits with Galeta that Tues, Wed, and Thurs.

During that time, we went to Galeta's new orphanage each day to play with him and the other children. What a treasure it was to have that focused time with our new son. During that time we kicked a soccer ball, blew bubbles, cuddled, tickled and just spent time together. We were so impressed by how quickly Galeta adjusted to his new surroundings. By day 2 he knew the names of most of the kids and had obviously started bonding with his new nannies.

Galeta really seemed to enjoy kicking the soccer ball and was quite good at it. At one point when the other kids were joining in, Galeta asked one of the nannies if she could keep the other kids engaged in their own game of kick so as to not interrupt the one he was having with his new parents. At least that is what we think he said in Oromifa as the nanny came over and hurried all the other children to the other side of the pavement.

Each day we gave Galeta a pen and paper. He wrote the ABCs. He wrote his name. And then he drew 6 stick figures. When he was done he pointed to each and named them, "Mommy, Daddy, Anna, David, Brooke, Jonathan." Our hearts sang. We told him to draw a 7th figure and told him that was Galeta. He was a Soutter. We were family.

Over the three days, Galeta and Rob drew several pictures and wrote words. All of them centered on our new family... pictures of us in a plane, pictures of us in a van, and lists of everyone's name. Galeta wanted to keep the pad of paper and pen we brought.

We were at the orphanage for about 3 hours each day and at times we would just sit on the porch and watch. Playing kick, playing jump, doing horsey rides, playing Ring Around the Rosies with 15 some children quickly tired us and sometimes we just needed to rest. We were quite pleased that Galeta did not cling to us, nor did he forget us. He would play with the other boys and girls for a while and then run over to show us something or sit in our laps for a few minutes. Then he would run back out and join the games. Sometimes while playing, he would look over his shoulder to confirm that we were there and watching.

One obstacle we faced was sharing our affection with Galeta as well as the other kids. As soon as one of us would give Galeta a horsey ride in our laps, all the other kids would want one as well. "Me, me!" they would call in their native tongue. Galeta was very sweet. He would take a turn and then get out of the way and motion for the next kid to have a turn. We loved on all the kids, but made sure that Galeta got an extra portion of our attention. Some times we would just tell all the kids, "No, we are playing with our son now." They didn't like it, but caught on and left us to be alone with our son.

Oh how these kids wanted attention and touch and love (even more than their wonderful nannies gave them). It was almost like seagulls. . you would give one a little attention and the next thing you knew, you had a dozen little ones wanting some love. Su would pray over each one that climbed in her lap or held her hand that a mom and dad would come forward for them. That their little hearts would be kept soft and filled with hope and that they would not have to wait long.

One day, several children had gathered around to play with Su's hair which was quite different from their own. Galeta came up, swung his arms and shouted, "Get off!" in English. We were shocked. I guess he has some instincts to protect his mother. We'll have to ask him about that when he gets home and learns some English.

Each day was a special time of connecting with our boy and learning who he is. We also used this time to try to reinforce that we were leaving, but would be coming back. Each time we found someone that knew both Oromifa and English, we would have them tell Galeta that we would be leaving in 1 day or tomorrow or whatever and that we would come back to take him to America. Repetition is the best teacher, eh?

Finally Thursday's visit came to an end and we had to tell Galeta good bye for the last time. We got an interpreter and explained the plan one last time. We promised to pray for him each day and reminded him that we loved him. We all embraced and Su and Rob cried. Again Galeta seemed very ok with what was happening.

Galeta's only question was, "Is Raji and Sena's mom and dad coming soon?" See, we had explained to him that his good friends Raji and Sena's mom and dad would be coming to get them and bring them back to America. And then after that we would come to get him and bring him back to America. And then once we were all in America, he would get to play with Raji and Sena. (Click here if you missed that story about Raji and Sena's mom and dad living here in Raleigh).

We shared mixed emotions as we drove away. It was hard to leave and yet we felt a great measure of peace. We knew that Galeta had a good understanding of what was happening. He seemed very ok with all that was going on. We knew that Galeta was in a good place and well cared for. And we knew that this was just another step in bringing our family together.

We would be going back soon to bring him home (10-12 weeks maybe?).

More to come.

Tuesday, February 1

Driving Galeta from Gimbie to the Capital

On Saturday we introduced Galeta and shared our reactions upon meeting him for the first time at the orphanage in Gimbie, Ethiopia. You can read that post here. The story continues....

After we picked up Galeta from the orphanage, we spent 12 hours in the van with Galeta and his 4 year old buddy, A-boy (2 hours on Sunday and 10 hours straight on Monday). We could not believe how well behaved these 2 were.

Under normal circumstance you could not pay us enough to drive all day with young kids. For our 4 children at home we bought one of those portable DVD players to take on any trip of 2 hours or more. The DVD player wasn't for the kids, it was for us... to maintain our sanity. Without it, the kids are too loud and rambunctious and fight too much. But not Galeta and A-boy.

Galeta and A-boy spent 10 hours quietly sitting, talking, looking out the window, and playing with their only toy, magna doodles we brought. We were utterly amazed and very pleased as this trip was hard on our bodies and as adults, we struggled. The roads were unbelievably bumpy and we had to twist and wind around potholes and other obstacles (like oxen!!).

On Monday evening, we arrived at the new orphanage in the capital city of Addis Ababa. We were quite concerned about this part of the trip. How would Galeta feel about being dropped off in this new home after meeting his new parents 30 hours earlier? Would he be confused, feel betrayed by his new parents, be scared of this unknown place, or wonder about the new language he was hearing (Galeta does not speak the national language)?

Suprisingly, Galeta seemed to meet this challenge with a great amount of comfort and understanding. He walked right in and joined the other boys and girls at the table for dinner. He seemed very unconcerned as we said good bye and left him in this unfamiliar place.

As we drove away from the orphanage we were filled with a great sense of peace and both commented to each other that Galeta was going to be ok!

More tomorrow about our visits with Galeta at the new orphanage.

Sunday, January 30

Introducing Galeta

While he will not be home for a couple of months, G-boy is now legally our son. Hallelujah!!! We have loved him for so long and it makes our hearts burst that we are legally each other's now! And therefore we can now show you a picture.

G-boy's name is Galeta and he is sweet, smart, well-adjusted, and handsome. Aren't all Soutter kids? (wink, wink).

We got to spend time with Galeta each day from Sunday through Thursday. We so enjoyed him.

On Sunday we met him at his orphanage in Gimbie which is 12 hours west of the capital. Our van pulled up outside the gate and honked the horn. Most orphanages, guest houses, homes are behind locked metal gates. Here is a picture of the gate and our van waiting.

Galeta had been waiting excitedly. He couldn't wait for the nannies to open the door of the orphanage so he jumped out the window and ran to meet us. Here is the window he jumped out of:

We were hardly out the van and there he was. We all hugged tightly for several minutes and Su and Rob cried. What an incredible moment in time. The son we had been pursuing and praying for and loving for a year was suddenly in our arms. We can only imagine what he was thinking.

Galeta held our hands and walked us inside and showed us around the orphanage. Several things stood out right away:

Galeta obviously loved his nannies very much and they loved him as well; most of them cried when it was finally time for Galeta to leave for good.

Galeta loves little kids and did an excellent job taking care of all the younger kids around the orphanage. We had such a fun time watching him gently carry the kids around or ensure they had a toy to play with.

Galeta has some well developed gross motor skills. We had a brought a ball and Galeta could catch and throw with no problem. Soon he was ready for a higher challenge and would use his hand to bat the ball back when it was thrown.

We also discovered that Galeta was excited to have new brothers and sisters. In addition to the ball, we brought Galeta a small picture book with photos of the family. Galeta turned from page to page and kissed the pictures of his new siblings. Our hearts sang.

We will post more about the next 2 days traveling back to the capital with Galeta, about our time with Galeta at the new orphanage, and about the other adventures that we were given in Ethiopia.

So come back tomorrow. . .or if you'd like our posts sent to your email, enter your info below and hit the subscribe button. An email will be sent to your email address to confirm that you do indeed want our posts sent to your email so you will want to open that email and click the button.

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More soon. Thanks for coming alongside us. We could so tell ya'll were praying for us while we were gone.