We had a BUNCH of pictures taken yesterday- family, extended family, Zoe's 1 year, and some of Evan too. We are soo thankful for our photographer friend who blesses us with taking our family's pictures each year. You know you are blessed when she brings her studio to you- our basement turned into a studio in the morning and then we went outside for some shots in the afternoon. Thank you Lindsey! Here are just a some of my favorites-if that tells you how many she took!!
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
I have never been more truly thankful and aware of my many blessings than this year, especially during this Thanksgiving season. Having our DAUGHTER (it still makes me so happy to say that) HOME with her family this year is certainly cause for much of this thankfulness. But it goes much deeper than that. Spending a couple of weeks in Ethiopia this past year and looking in the face of such poverty has changed me.
*There are nearly 6 million orphans in Ethiopia (which means 7.5% of the population consists of orphans)
*Up to 20% of the population in Ethiopia are not even able to eat once per day
*26% of the population in Ethiopia live on less that $1 per day, and 81% live on less than $2 per day
*In Ethiopia, 1 in 10 children die before their first birthday
*40% of children in Ethiopia sleep on the floor, where nighttime temperatures average 5 degrees Celcius during the cold season
*There is 1 medical doctor per 100,000 people in Ethiopia
Hearing these statistics and becoming aware of them (like we were so very much last year after starting the adoption process) is one thing, but seeing them firsthand and looking these beautiful Ethiopian people in the eye is totally another. Things like clean water, a roof over our head, closets full of clothes, pantries full of food, and so many other LUXURIES that we have in the US look totally different to me now. And I pray they always do. Because it's only when we are aware and moved by these statistics that we do something about it. Even if it's so much easier to turn our head and pretend that things like this don't exist around the world. It's only in seeing and becoming aware that we are moved to change.
I'm so thankful that Drew had the opportunity to take a missions trip to the Czech Republic during college and spend so much time in the orphanages there loving on those sweet little kids. And I'm so thankful for the ways that God softened BOTH of our hearts through that missions trip, even way back when, towards His love for the orphans of this world. I'm even thankful that God spoke to us through my medical issues (as tough as they were and continue to be) and continued to break our hearts for what breaks His. And I'm so thankful that we took a leap of faith and listened to His call towards adoption. As I look through teary eyes at little Zoe's sweet face right now, I'm soo humbled that He chose US to be her parents.
So, this year as I reflect on all of my many blessings during this Thanksgiving season, I am not only thankful for this sweet boy..
...and this sweet girl...
...and my amazing husband who loves our kiddos and me so wonderfully....
...and all of my other family members and friends, and all of the LUXURIES that we so often take for granted... This year I'm also painfully aware that MILLIONS of people around the world don't have those same LUXURIES such as warm and comfy homes and beds, food to feed their families, clean water to drink, and even access to the medical care they so desperately need. And I'm praying that He would continue to break my heart for the things that break His, as painful and tough as that may be.
As Ann Voskamp says so beautifully in her book One Thousand Gifts (if you haven't read this book- go out and buy it NOW)..
"I am blessed. I can bless. A life contemplating the blessings of Christ becomes a life acting the love of Christ.
Happy Thanksgiving! May it be about more than just turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes this year...
Posted by Ashley at 10:25 AM
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Ok, so I'm going to be completely honest. The last 2 days have been rough. I'm almost afraid to type that I have BOTH kids asleep right now for fear that one of them will wake up as soon as I type it. It seems the "honeymoon stage" may be over. Evan is not enjoying sharing the spotlight with his little sister and is starting to have behavior issues. And little Zoe has definitely been giving us some fits with her sleep schedules and unhappy moods (hence the lack of "schedule" with her sleep). These are the kind of days that make me second-guess our decision for me to stay home with my littles. But a good night of sleep last night, encouragement from my hard-working-so-I-can-stay-at-home husband whom I love so very much, lots of praying, a conversation with my mom, and a few minutes reading through one of my highlighted and scribbled in all-time favorite books (The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson) have made me realize I'm EXACTLY where He is calling me to be. Home with these 2 precious children God has given to us. And blessed beyond measure.
Don't let their smiles and sweet innocent faces fool you- they have both been giving me a run for my money the last couple of days! But oh how I pray that I always try to keep things in perspective. Yes, there are many days when it seems like all the changing diapers, constant demands for my attention, endless amount of dishes and laundry, constant picking up of toys, household chores, and lessons in discipline are so very insignificant. And I know that there WILL be more of these days.
I ran across one of my favorite quotes in The Mission of Motherhood this afternoon: "Choosing to be a servant-mother means willingly giving up myself, my expectations, and my time to the task of mothering- and choosing to believe that doing so is the best use of my time at that moment. It means that, by faith, I have already made a decision to make myself available in the routine tasks and myriad interruptions of daily life because I believe it is God's will for me to serve my family through them."
So, although many days I may FEEL my job is insignificant, I KNOW that my purpose is RIGHT HERE at home, serving Him and my family through these "mundane" and "insignificant" tasks. And when thinking about it that way, those routine tasks and interruptions somehow turn into a mountain of OPPORTUNITIES.
Posted by Ashley at 3:28 PM
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Hailey and Ty came from Chicago this weekend to meet little Zoe. The kids had oh so much fun yesterday. While we were eating dinner together, Evan said "Isn't this a fun day guys?" He LOVES his cousins so much- just wish we lived closer so we could spend more time together. Can't believe we actually got a picture with ALL of them looking at the camera!!
Posted by Ashley at 10:44 AM
Friday, November 11, 2011
Life is good :)
It's almost impossible to get them both to sit still and look at the camera. Both of them are constantly on the move and keep us oh so busy! Things are going well around the Baker house. Zoe is eating table food much better now, but her sleep schedule is still a work in progress! It's a good thing she's so stinkin' cute- especially in the middle of the night when she thinks it's the day and time to play! Thankfully, Drew has taken care of her A LOT during the middle of the night, leaving this momma well-rested and ready to go, go, go with both kiddos during the day! We are so blessed...
Posted by Ashley at 11:10 AM
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Evan has done remarkably well with all the changes happening in our house in the last couple of weeks. He has proven himself to be a GREAT big helper and playmate for his little sister. I must admit, I had my doubts about how he would do sharing the spotlight after being an only child and the center of attention for 4 years. But things have gone much better than expected and he ADORES his Zoe. In fact, he has almost "forgotten" how to play by himself and always wants his sister to be around. He doesn't like it when she's sleeping and wants her to always be awake and playing with him. And as great as preschool is for him, he talks about how much he misses his sister when he is there. So sweet. My favorite parts of the day are when we hear Zoe waking up through the monitor and he gets ALL EXCITED to go in her room and get her. And the look on her face when she sees big brother- MELTS MY HEART. I can't believe we've only been home with Zoe for 2 weeks. Seems like she's always been here. God is sooo good.
Posted by Ashley at 8:18 AM
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Just another quick post with some pictures of my littles... Evan dressed up as a hamburger for Halloween... Definitely the cutest hamburger I've ever seen :)
And Zoe was a butterfly....
Love those giggles!
And just because I couldn't resist posting this picture of her cute little butterfly bum...
I'm going to try and update a lot this week with a few pictures each day... I know a lot of you have told me how you want to see more pictures of our little Zoe! We are continuing to do well and are so very in love with sweet Zoe!
Posted by Ashley at 8:06 AM
Monday, November 7, 2011
Yesterday was Orphan Sunday. We took Zoe to church for the first time, although we didn't pass her around, leave her in the nursery, etc. In fact, she ate and slept during most of the service. I couldn't help but think as I was holding my precious sleeping baby in my arms about the difference a year can make. I vividly remember praying during church on Orphan Sunday last year that 2011 would be the year we would have our precious little one home and with her forever family. Little did I know that across the world was a baby girl ONLY DAYS OLD orphaned and in need of a family. We wouldn't see her sweet face until the following April and know that SHE was the one meant for our family. Yes, we are SO blessed with THIS baby whom we KNOW that God meant for our family.
And oh how thankful we are that our sweet Zoe now has a
MOMMY who LOVES to snuggle her,
a DADDY who LOVES to tickle her,
and a BIG BROTHER who ADORES her and just CANNOT GET ENOUGH of her,
and LOTS of other family and friends who love her SO MUCH!
And as full and happy as my heart was yesterday, I couldn't help but be broken and sad for the MILLIONS of orphans around the world waiting on their forever families too. So many kids who don't know the snuggles of a mommy, the tickles of a daddy, or the love of a big brother. I pray that they are comforted today and that they will SOON have a forever family... Are YOU the forever family of an orphan somewhere around the world? My prayer continues to be that He would break my heart for the things that break His. And I pray yours would be the same...
More updates on our Zoe soon! Things are going so well and it's hard to believe she's only been home for about a week and a half. It seems like she's been a part of our family for FOREVER!
Posted by Ashley at 3:59 PM