Monday, December 31, 2012

11:58pm, New Year's Eve

I woke up this morning FEELING you in my arms this morning, my boys. Happy New Year's Eve.

In 2013...

-you will come home

-you will meet the TONS of family who have been waiting to meet you for a long time

-you will both roll over and crawl and walk, and talk!

-you will go to some of our favorite places, like on hikes, and to Washington D.C., and to the Korner Restaurant for ice cream...

-you will smile so much, Mommy will take sooooooo many pictures, and probably not be able to take for granted a single smile in the rest of our 365 days.

This time next year we will be together. You'll be tucked snug in your beds while Mommy and Daddy probably cry about how wonderful that is.

2013 is going to be awesome.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Meet the Hill Boys: photo diary part 2



Meet the Hill Boys

Any Mama would probably agree, there are no words for the first time you meet your children, but they say a picture's worth a thousand, so here we go. 

Meeting Our Sons: A photo diary



Ok. Well, first you should know that the weird things pregnant women go through are not completely hormonal. Do you sense a big-whopping-excuse coming on? Yeah, you do. Earlier this month we received news that our official court decree had arrived. The legal process for becoming parents to our boys was over. (We could share all the pictures we want.) That's about the time I lost interest in sharing our story, or being communicative in any way, shape, or form. Life's been hard since we've been back from ET. Our sons are still there. There's no gettin' around it, that makes everything hard.

Today, I'm ready to share pictures of our amazing boys!! -But I CAN'T yet, because you just don't know enough to know how good it all was... So, yes you must read this twin-picture-free post before going on to the one to follow. Just humor me, k?

Now. We're starting on the first day we saw the boys. (Not the first day we arrived in Ethiopia.) There are many details to be filled in, still! But this picture was taken on our flight out of the capitol and up into the northern region of Ethiopia called the Tigray region. The terrain was unbelievable. What an awesome part of the world to discover!

We landed at the Mekele airport, and met the care center director, Tsehaye, who we came to love over our week there. Driving into Mekele we passed men and women in both traditional and western dress walking casually up and down the streets. We rode in Tsehaye's car past gated homes and businesses, make-shift structures, mule-drawn carts, donkeys, and cars alike. We loved it.

We arrived in front of the care center where there were always some passive street dogs to greet us. Looking at the gate, Cary and I had no idea what to expect.

For months we imagined the first meeting with our sons, but we had not anticipated our meeting with all of the other sweet faces of children waiting for families. We walked through the care center doors and were met with a chorus of "Welcome!" followed by each child (ages 3-13) pulling us down to their height to hug and then kiss each side of our face. It was overwhelming to say the least.

The nannies had prepared a traditional coffee ceremony for us - a highlight of Ethiopian culture!

And that's when Tsehaye asked us if we'd like to go upstairs see our boys. Ha! We walked up the stairs and into their room...

And then, we saw them. In person. For the first time.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Mighty Men

Ezekiel and Gabriel,
It's just after midnight here in the States. Mommy and Daddy watched the clock all (Christmas Eve) day long for when you most likely woke up in Ethiopia, had breakfast, took your first nap on this day we celebrate Christmas - December 25, 2012. We have been praying over you like crazy today. It's been an especially hard day to be apart. We know the nannies in Addis love you and are giving you their best care. We know your heavenly Father loves you abundantly more than even we can. He is with you, and that gives us reason to hope and rejoice. It will be awhile, but you might one day know the same reality that lives in Mommy and Daddy's heart this season: hope, gratitude, joy, anticipation, and nausea. All at the same time. :) When Aunt Addie and Uncle Eli wake up to open presents in a few hours, we will be enjoying every minute of their discoveries, and thinking of you.

Things Mommy saw this Christmas that she wants to always remember:
- Traditions be darned. They can be fun and seem special, but they do not hold (or hardly reflect) the meaning of Christmas. As our family repeats things we enjoy doing together and the giving of gifts, we need to do it with our hands open, remembering how humbly our God came into the world. Mommy wants to remember that we are not entitled to material gifts in the name of Christmas. Salvation is ours. (There's no touching that with the "symbolic" gift of a new-favorite want.) Gifts and traditions were never a part of Christ's first night in Bethlehem. Our family can take them or leave them, but let's not get stuck on them.

-God sent His Son as a baby. Mommy has a new understanding of what a deep act of love this was as she waits for her sweet babies on the other side of an ocean. God sent Jesus, His one son, in this most vulnerable state - turning Him over to the world for a time. What a "gift" this was since God knew our treatment of Him would be far less than what God could offer, and what Jesus deserved. 

-Anticipation is a wonderful thing. It has a purpose, and should not be disregarded or minimized. Addie and Eli went to bed with great anticipation of Christmas morning. We could have said, "Ah, heck. Here are your presents, open them now!" And Eli at least, probably would have jumped at the opportunity. But in the end, we all know that wouldn't have been half of the experience they will have in the morning. Grabbing the things we desire out of turn only decreases our satisfaction in having them. God's timing is perfect. His plans for us are good, and we want to experience them to the full! Your Daddy and I once thought we would NEVER make it through our season of engagement as we longed to be together, to never have to leave one another, and to enjoy our union to the full. We considered rushing a wedding. (We considered cheating on the rules.) We were reminded by loving people that it was God's plan for us to wait on those things and that He was still preparing us to be one in His eyes. We chose to trust Him in the wait, and He sustained us. We are now SO grateful for that season of anticipation, for the growth we had individually with the Lord, for the respect we gained for one another, and for the blessing we've received for honoring Him. Our wait to have you in our arms is HARD, but we are trusting His timing, knowing the blessing to come when we are all together is well worth it, and that it's coming SOON. But there's a greater wait still... For the rest of our time on this earth, we will wait with anticipation for our Savior, whose first coming to this world we celebrate on Christmas, to come for the last time. He will bring the fulfillment of the plan that He began. We will finally see His complete purpose, judgement and will, and be satisfied. So babies, thank you for the opportunity to learn better what our God means for us to know. Thank you for practice walking out the faith we didn't know we had until God used this opportunity to show us. Glean the truth from yo' Mama; anticipation is a wonderful thing, whether you can see it now or not. 

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” - Galatians 4:4

Merry First Christmas, Sweet Boys.
-Love, Your Mama

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Makin' it real.

First things first, I know most of you are thinking - you spent a week with your babies, and no pictures yet? Hang tight. I have some serious picture posts ready to go as soon as we get the "clear" from our agency that our court decree has arrived. That's all we're waiting for!! IN the meantime...  a current reflection. ('Cuz after this, we're gonna spend a lot of time on the past most wonderful week of Cary's and my life.)

Long drives are just ripe for the Lord to speak to me. I used to think I would miss those long car rides of think/pray/hear time once Cary and I got married. Turns out, God doesn't slow down on His communication just because there are two of you in the car.

At the VERY beginning of our trip to our boys, we departed Blacksburg to drive home for some visit time before getting a couple hours of sleep and driving to the airport in DC. Cary and I were excited, and - as is typical - non-stop conversing. We were just leaving town when a song I'd heard a few times before on the radio came on. Cary was talking about something I was really enjoying, so I didn't interrupt him, but the words to the chorus just blazed in the background, and my heart swelled a little with their truth, even as he talked.

When we were on the plane just a few hours out from Addis Ababa, our destination, I could no longer sleep but most people around us were doing a good job, so I put on my headphones. My sister made us a special mix for the trip (she's awesome like that), and the second track was the same one I'd heard before. As I focused on the words, my insides started racing, and I knew the Lord was giving me what I like to call a new "theme song." When I try to explain my "theme songs" to people for the first time, I think of Kronk's theme song in "The Emperor's New Groove." (Don't know what I'm talking about? We can't have that. Click HERE.) Before you dismiss me because I'm a person who apparently feels self-important enough to have her own theme songs, let me try to explain? Beginning in high school, over some of the most formative years of my faith I did a lot of talking to the Lord, and He sometimes responded in the timely drop of a certain song. When I heard it, I knew He was speaking to me through it, and I would cling to it for that season, trying to glean all of the truth in it He had for me to apply to that point in life. The songs seemed so central to the season I was in, they felt like life-themes for that time. Thus, my "theme songs" began, a list which now seems pretty special since I can kind of trace the things I was learning with and about God through it. Ok, moving on...

This season the words to my theme song have been encouraging, and (most recently) pretty convicting. I don't know about you, but now that I have been doing some of the same jobs/ministries for consecutive years, I've discovered an auto-pilot setting that can get me in trouble. Ex: It's possible to teach an entire 6th grade band class without investing the heart I have in the past, and get a similar result. It's possible to smile at a student who needs a smile, without actually feeling compassion for them. It's possible to "take the higher road" in response to a co-worker, look like I've done the bigger thing, but still feel resentment inside. And those things are wrong. The truth that the Lord is pressing upon me is, the THINGS that I do don't matter if I'm not sincere in my heart. If I do the right thing, but don't mean it in the deepest part of my soul, I may as well not have done it. Our God is not a god of deeds. He is a God of love. 1 John 4:8 says, "Whoever does not know love does not know God, because God is love." I deeply, sincerely want the things I'm doing with my life to please God. And for that to happen, I've got to be doing them out of my love for Him. I sometimes forget that when I choose to simply go through the motions, or to reserve a below-the-surface opinion for myself, He is not pleased, but He's shaking that up.

Thank You, Lord for calling me out on this. Thank You for sparing me a lot of action for nothing. I'm asking for the increased desire to keep doing the things You've called me to purely out of my love for You.

Enjoy the lyrics to this song by "For King and Country," (or just listen HERE), and see if they don't stir you to sincerity.

The Proof Of Your Love

If I sing but don't have love
I waste my breathe with every song
I bring, an empty voice
A hollow noise

If I speak with a silver tongue
Convince a crowd but don't have love
I leave a bitter taste
With every word I say

So let my life be the proof
The proof of Your love
Let my love look like You
And what You're made of
How you lived, how You died
Love is sacrifice
So let my life be the proof
The proof of Your love

If I give to a needy soul
But don't have love then who is poor
It seems all the poverty
Is found in me


When it's all said and done
When we sing our final song
Only love remains
Only love remains


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Our Mighty Men: An Introduction

Meet Our Mighty Men

Sweet itty bitty fingers, sweet baby toes. Baby sounds, and baby smells. Smooth, chubby cheeks just begging to be kissed. These precious little bodies will continue to grow around the men the Lord has designed them to be. These are my boys. We loved them before we saw them, but now, having seen them, our hearts are swollen with delight. 

Gabriel Tamirat Hill
Mommy and Daddy had been praying about the first time we met our sons. We imagined that they would both be awake and waiting for us when we walked in the room, and wondered about who would reach for who first. We both wanted both of them! But God had it sorted. We walked into a quiet room where both of our boys were sleeping. We gazed over the crib rail at our beautiful sons, and tears welled up in our eyes. It was nice to take a few moments to just breathe in their smells, and soak in their faces. And then, my chubby cheeked, sweetest little puckered Gabriel stirred. I leaned over his crib as he blinked a few times and stared wide-eyed up at me. "Hi," I gushed, lifting his dense, warm little self into my arms. I couldn't stop smiling, and his big brown eyes just locked on my face. I leaned him back as he gazed steadily up at me. He was so beautiful, and so intent, I couldn't stop smiling back at him. "This is your Daddy," I whispered and turned him to see Cary who was crying quietly beside us. Gabe took a couple of Daddy glances, and then latched those big brown eyes right back on to my face. We all laughed. He continued to study and stare for about 10 minutes, before he allowed us to start cuddling him, kissing him, and passing him to Daddy. Gabe has the baby giggle of every Mom's dreams, and he's always looking for an excuse to use it. His favorite games are being flown over our heads, and being held by Daddy while Mommy swoops in to kiss his forehead. (He cranes his neck and raises his eyebrows to let us know he wants another turn, and since it's impossible to resist such cute gestures, the game goes on for awhile.) We love him, and look forward to knowing that laugh, and that stare, for the rest of our lives.

Ezekiel Zekarias Hill
Ezekiel was sleeping when we saw him for the first time. He's baby perfection. The smoothest, sweet round cheeks you've ever seen, with long beautiful eye lashes that curl back on their own. His Daddy and I were eager to hold him, but didn't want him to feel yucky if we woke him up from a nap he wasn't finished with, so we waited. I hovered over his crib when I saw him stirring - about to wake up from his nap. His little eye-lids started to flutter, so I leaned in. I reached for him as his eyes opened, and without hesitation, Ezekiel reached for my face. As I scooped him into my arms, he looked into my face as he moved his little hand across my mouth and chin. I couldn't help but smile and talk to him, my beautiful son with his intensive stare. He's a deep-thinker, my Zeke. His Daddy and I learned that he likes to be bounced and rocked, read and sung to. You can see enjoyment in his eyes, but his smiles come in quick flashes. He reserves his giggles for the utmost occasions, and he does NOT perform for cameras. You either want to play with him, or you want his picture - it's one or the other. Zeke enjoyed the airplane toy and teething ring we brought him. He'd slowly turn them over in his hands, studying their colors before he'd cram them in between those little teething gums. Ezekiel has one baby tooth in the middle of his bottom gums right now. It makes those hearty giggles worth all of the effort it takes to get them. We already love him so much, and we always will.