Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Love

What a difference a year can make! I seem to remember writing a similar post two years ago, when Caleb had been home for one year. And here I am once again, amazed at what a difference this past year has made in Noah's life and in the life of our entire family.

A year ago Noah was a scared, sad child who could not even communicate with our family, other than nodding his head or pointing. A year ago I was a scared, doubtful mom who could not communicate with my new son other than nodding my head or pointing. We were kind of in the same boat, and we really didn't know what we were doing, all we knew is that God would somehow make a way for the child he had blessed us with to feel the love we wanted to show him. Little did we realize that Noah had even more love to show us! And now, a year later, L-O-V-E pretty much sums it up. It took time for all of us, as we thought it would. Love did not come "naturally" at first, and it did feel awkward for a little while- kind of like just going through the motions. But God did something supernatural and created a love in all our hearts for one another that is as true as any love I have ever known. A miracle, indeed.

Caleb will always be my "baby", as I guess every first child is to their parents. I can remember holding him for the first time, just like it was yesterday. His smile and personality won us all over from the start and still does! He will always hold that special part of my heart.

But Noah has taught me what it means to be resilient and strong. To put it in the words of singer/songwriter Sarah Groves, his courage asks me, what I am afraid of, and what I know of love? Just think about it- Here was a child who was living on the streets with no parents, he gets taken to an entirely new world with people he doesn't know and can't communicate with, he gets taken to doctors and poked and prodded, all the while not really knowing what is going on because of the communication barrier. He mourns for his home and all he ever knew, for his family, and again can't express it to the people he should be able to confide in- his parents. In my opinion, he had every right to be angry, distrustful, uncooperative, etc. I probably would have been, and sometimes, I was (that is embarrassing to admit....) all of the above. But instead Noah opened his heart, his mind, and his spirit to his new life and family. And none of us could have imagined what an amazing child he was all long! I know I am his mother, but when I think of all he has endured in ONLY SIX YEAR OF LIFE, I think he is the most remarkable child I have ever known. Sensitive, funny, kind and brave, and very loving, despite the loss he has experienced, God has restored his heart, and he is so able to love. We are so in awe that God would entrust Noah to us.

It seems fitting that Noah and Caleb both came home around Christmas time, as that first Christmas was the most awesome expression of God's love for us- that he would send His only Son to show us what love is all about, knowing that ultimately His son would suffer rejection and pain that no man has ever known. And that because of that, we would have the ability to be adopted into God's family. We CAN be called the children of God.

This Christmas we celebrate the miracle of the adoption of our two sons, and the amazing love that God has given us all for one another. But most importantly, we celebrate the miracle of the most precious baby to have ever been born. Our Saviour, Jesus.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Does This Blog Still Work?

Wow....does this blog still work? Almost two months with no news posts!!????

Well, truth is it works just fine, but this blogger has also been working full time, and that has proven to leave little time for blogging!

The last two months have been a whirlwind, to say the least, and things finally feel like they might be falling into place....maybe! How do all you working moms do this??!!

First- the boys love, love, love school, which is a huge blessing! They have made new friends, are learning tons, and are happy to go to school, most mornings, which makes mommy happy, because I don't think I could leave them if they were crying! Noah actually read me a book tonight- that's right, the child that has only been speaking English for 9 months read me a story- it is amazing! And Caleb uses such big words now- tonight at dinner he asked me about pyramids! Amazing children!

Second- my job is going pretty well. I am catching on pretty fast, and learning each day how to manage my home, family, and career....and church, and homework, and preschool choir, and soccer...okay, I am stopping there! I still really miss being at home, but for now I am doing my best to bloom where I am planted. Zack has been a huge encouragement to me during this time....he helped me hang in there through the toughest times!

Third- the boys are playing soccer and they love it and so do we! Noah scored his first goal a few games okay and it was really exciting!

Fourth- we are moving....again! Staying in London but moving to a home that we are so excited about! It is a foreclosure (you know we could never buy a "normal house") and I consider it to be such a blessing because it has everything we could ever need and has room to case we do that! There will be more pictures to come in the near future!

That's a pretty quick update, but I fear that any future blog posts may resemble this one until I can carve out some more time for blogging.....unfortunately it has fallen down pretty low on the priority list!

One final thought- God's mercies have flowed bountifully to our family over the last couple months, and I just want to praise Him for that!! We could not have made this transition without Him!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

This week was a huge week in the Caldwell household because.......Noah started Kindergarten!!!! His first day was Wednesday and he was ready to go! Here he is with his new backpack (loaded down with pencils, crayons, scissors, etc.) He had a great first day and even got "super" stickers on his work! He is in for a great year.

Caleb starts preschool next week, and is equally excited about beginning school, especially the fact that he will be going to the same school as his big brother. We were able to meet both of their teachers and visit their classrooms earlier in the week for open house, and I admit, there was a moment while I was speaking to Caleb's teacher that I began to tear up and could have lost my composure....but, I held it together :)

Both our boys have grown up in so many ways. Caleb, because he came to us so young, will always be my "baby", and so to see him now moving from staying home with me each day to spending his days in preschool and essentially this part of our lives coming to an end is a bit bittersweet. And then to see Noah embrace school, with all the newness and changes he has experienced in his short life- it makes me so proud to be the mother of this remarkable child. Most of all, it has reminded me to treasure each day with my boys, because time does not wait.

Adding to this huge change for our family is another big change for me- the blessing of a job with the Kentucky Department of Corrections as a Probation and Parole Investigator. When I first heard the details of this position this past spring, I truly felt as though this was the job God had in mind for me. It was a long wait for the job to become available, to interview, and then finally to be offered the position, but it was worth the wait, and as usual, God's timing is just right. I was able to spend the entire summer with my boys, and will also be able to see them both off to school before I begin working next week. Zack also began a new job last week, and is really enjoying learning the ropes. Once again, God has provided for us in a way that only he can, and in a way that truly brings us to our knees in awe that he would be so gracious to our family. Not only has he met our physical needs through providing us both with jobs, he is also reassuring us that he will provide us with the strength and grace as our entire family transitions into a new phase of life.

We give thanks to him, for lessons learned in how to trust in his goodness. We are blessed more than we could ever dream, in abundance, or in need. Our short time of uncertainty seems to pale in comparison to the challenges that many face even at this very moment- the thousands dying in Somalia and those who lose loved ones because of war. Sometimes we wonder why God doesn't answer our prayers, but he is meeting our needs in ways we could never imagine- by teaching us how to hope, trust, and depend in him and him alone. What greater blessing could we have than to know the God of the universe cares for us. I first heard the song "Gratitude" while I was in college, and the words have never left me, and never cease to bring me to tears. I hope you will listen to the beautiful words of this song and place your trust in the one who can provide for your every need.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Ministry God Has Given Us....

Since we began our adoption journey both Zack and I felt that God was calling us to do more than just adopt, but also to be life long advocates for adoption and orphans. We have seen this come to fruition through God moving us to share our adoption experience with other couples and families interested in adoption. We have been blessed to have been able to do this through seminars, adoption fairs, and mostly just through answering an email or having a conversation over dinner. Throughout these experiences the one thing we have noticed is that though many people have the desire to adopt, knowing where to start can be very overwhelming and intimidating. The more we discussed this, the more we felt that God could use us and our experiences to assist prospective adoptive parents with beginning the adoption journey.

From this God given desire, we have formed a ministry called His Kids Adoption Resources. This ministry exists to assist prospective adoptive parents with "getting started" with the adoption process. From answering questions to connecting them with other adoptive parents, we pray that this ministry will provide a firm foundation as families take a step of faith to bring home a precious child.

We would appreciate your prayers as we seek to make others aware of this ministry. We would also love for you to visit our web page:

Below are just a few pictures from our fun summer- from Vacation Bible School to our first camping trip to learning to ride has been a great summer!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

In Him we live.....

Anyone who has lived hardly any time on this earth knows that life is full of unexpected twists and turns. We certainly have experienced many unexpected circumstances throughout both of our adoption journeys. Looking back we can see God's hand at work fitting each piece of the puzzle together in His own timing and in His perfect will.

A couple of weeks ago, we found out that Zack had been 'let go' from his current position due to the economy and a change of direction in his company. It was a bit of a shock, and threw a curve into our life and the plans that we had in the works. Though I am currently seeking to return to the workforce as both of our boys will be going to school in the fall (can't believe that!!), when Zack lost his job, we were left with neither of us bringing home an income, which is a tad bit scary!!! Thankfully, and almost as if to show us tangible evidence (as if we needed that) of how God provides for us when we seek to obey Him, because of the adoption tax credit that we were able to claim for both of our adoptions, we have been blessed to have an emergency fund that will sustain us while we seek employment. In the midst of searching for jobs, we have all enjoyed Zack being home and have had some great family time. We just hope he doesn't stay at home too long :)

We have seen God provide for us time and time again, and we do know he will continue to do so, in this situation just like all the others. I admit, it is a little overwhelming at times, but we keep reminding ourselves that God, more than anyone else, wants good for us, and knows what is best for us. As one friend told me, "When you really trust God, you really don't have to worry." And it is as simple as that, the key is, we just have to truly trust Him, and our earthly minds and hearts often struggle with this, at least I know I do at times.

I don't think it is just a coincidence that I have been reading the book Radical the last few months, (which if you haven't read, you really need will turn your world upside down) and that in my Bible reading I have been in Matthew, where God has definitely been challenging my view of "my life" and what it means to take up my cross and truly follow Jesus, with every part of my life. My prayer is that Zack and I keep our hands and hearts open to God, continually acknowledging that He and He alone is the giver and provider of EVERYTHING we have. It truly all belongs to Him. So what do we have to worry about, or long for? It is all His anyway :)

It is going to be exciting to see what God has in store for our family. Prayerfully we will know His plan sooner than later, but whenever, wherever, and whatever God has for us, by His grace and strength, we will make it.

Acts 17:24-28
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.'

To switch gears.......weeball and tball season is over, and both boys had such a great time. They still can't understand why they don't have any more games until next season. Noah's team got second place in the tball league tournament- I had no idea I could get so excited over a tball tournament, but yes, I was the parent that was jumping out of her chair screaming (only encouraging words, of course) and clapping. My heart was really racing and I actually felt nervous. Over tball. I know, I need to get a grip. So enjoy a few pictures of the season. We really enjoyed watching our boys and seeing them grow into players and teammates. We are very proud of both of them.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Our Graduate....

This past week we celebrated with Noah as he graduated from preschool. Graduating from preschool is a huge milestone for all children, but we were especially proud of Noah, as he has only been in our country for 6 months, and began preschool after only being home for one month. I remember worrying if it was the right decision for Noah to begin preschool, and I still remember the look on his face when I left took him for his first day of preschool- I think I called about every thirty minutes that day to check on him. After a few days, we knew he was going to be fine, and after just a couple weeks he was thriving, learning so much and making so many new friends. It was a decision that was covered in much prayer, contemplation, and faith, and watching Noah walk into the gym and accept his diploma with a beaming smile was total affirmation that preschool had been the right decision for Noah. Thank you God!

While we plan to continue to work on learning sight words, counting to 100, and writing the alphabet, it is now time to enjoy summer break and all the fun that hot summer days and cool summer evenings (hopefully) entail. And yes, Noah is already talking about Kindergarten, and Caleb is already talking about preschool. Not so fast boys, not so fast :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011


If you notice, the blog got a little makeover- a new banner with some family photos taken by wonderful photographer, Ben Keeling .

We knew family photos were going to be a necessity when from the moment Noah was able to speak English, he let us know that he wanted to see photos of him on the walls, too. So, we told Noah that as soon as the flowers began blooming outside we would have pictures taken of our family of four- Daddy, mommy, Caleb and Noah. It was a long winter, and he made sure we didn't forget our promise :)

So, the day finally came when the sun was shining and the flowers were blooming, and so on a beautiful afternoon on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University (mine and Zack's first home together :) we had our family photos taken. It was a blast! The boys did great (maybe because we promised them a trip to Chik-fil-a for big smiles :)

When I saw the photos for the first time, I really had to hold back tears. The love that was captured in these pictures is just amazing, and to see the boys smiles, laughs and silly faces brings me such great joy. But more than that, they are a symbol of belonging, of being part of a family, something that meant so much to Noah, and really means so much to all of us (I think we just take it for granted more than him).

So we now have the pictures hanging throughout our home. I put them up one day while Noah was at school, and you should have seen him smile when he came home and saw his pictures on the walls of our. You could tell, he felt like he belonged :)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Only God.....

Today our son Noah will have been home with us for 5 months! All I can say at this point is that God is good (too good to us) and that Noah is really the most remarkable child I know.

Most people are amazed when they hear him speak, at just how quickly he has learned English, and how well he understands what others say. This is really outstanding, and he has blown us away with acquiring English, don't get me wrong, but I don't think this is the most amazing thing Noah has done. Others, including his preschool teacher, remark about how smart he is- he indeed is a very intelligent little man, and while we are so proud of him, I also do not think this is what makes Noah so remarkable. And still others are amazed at how healthy Noah is, despite the fact that he lives with a chronic illness and has to take 9 pills each and every day. We are so very grateful for how well Noah has done managing his illness and that God has given him a strong and healthy body, but even this is not what I think of when I think of what makes Noah so amazing.

The first week that Zack and I spent with Noah in Ethiopia, we didn't hear him speak a single word in Amharic to anyone, rarely saw any emotion other than sadness, and certainly did not see many smiles. I blogged about our time there, and I am not sure how much I let on to the fact that we were worried, but we were very worried! We just didn't know if Noah would naturally have the desire to attach to us and to love us, given all he had experienced in his short life. But we knew God had called us to adopt this precious child, so we did out best to trust God depsite our fears. When I returned to bring him home almost 5 months later, I saw more smiles, but the fear remained both on Noah's part and mine. I am being brutally honest when I say that as we got on the airplane to come home, I felt like I was bringing a complete stranger home ( I am sure Noah felt the same about me), and I wasn't sure if I could parent an almost 5 year old- I was a little envious of the parents bringing home babies, as I had been there done that- this was a whole new ballgame.

But, as time went by, as God remained merciful and faithful to us, as Noah remained patient with us, as many family and friends prayed for us, God began to work in all of our lives, and that is when we began to see the most amazing thing about this little boy- his heart.

Despite the loss he has experienced, the living conditions he experienced in Ethiopia, not having a family, being institutionlized for more than a year, then coming to a whole new world with people he really didn't know or trust, Noah's heart is beautiful. God has healed his heart, and continues to heal his heart, so that he can love us, love his grandparents, and especially his little brother. This love that Noah has for us, in my mind is the most amazing thing! He has made friends, and cares for them as well. He is sensitive, as anyone could see as he watched the Passion Play at our church. From the time Jesus was crucified until He arose, Noah didn't quit crying. He is appreciative, as he is always saying, "Thank you, momma" for the slightest, tiniest thing. He wants to help others, and quite often I catch him helping Caleb put on his socks, or helping Caleb get into his car seat. And all of this in just 5 short months- 5 months! Only God could have done a miracle like this in Noah's life- we are just blessed to have been a part of it.

So many times I have read what a blessing adopting older children can be. So many parents of older adoptive children have encouraged us along the way. I will say, in the beginning, my selfish heart wasn't quite sure if this was true. But now, I can undoubtedly say that adopting a child that is older is such a blessing, and one of the most beautiful examples of how God takes us into his family and heals our hearts as well.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I Hate All Your Show.....

At Christmastime in the Caldwell family, names are always exchanged for gift giving. This past Christmas, Zack's cousin Joey got my name, and I received a wonderful gift. A great book, a mug, and two great Cd's, one of those being the International Justice Mission's "Freedom Project". This cd has some of my favorite artists, like Toby Mac, Third Day, Jars of Clay, and on and on. The songs are all about justice- the justice that the Bible speaks about, the justice, that as Christians, we are commanded to bring to those who so desperately need it. This, afterall, is part of why Jesus came (see Luke 4:17-21). There is one song, inparticular, that God has really been using to speak to me as of late. I admit, the first time I heard it, I wasn't sure if I liked it or not. Not because of the music, but the lyrics- This song pulls no punches, and hits pretty close to home, as you might guess from the title of the song, Instead of a Show. It is performed by a guy named Jon Foreman from the band Switchfoot, and is basically taken straight out of the book of Isaiah, chapter 1. If you haven't read this chapter, open your Bible and see what God has to say. He doesn't care so much about the formality of worship as he does how we treat others. So what does this mean for us, for me? I think it means we better take a close look at our lives and ask ourselves: Is my life just a show, something that looks good on the outside, or am I living my life the way Jesus did, doing what Jesus did- reaching those who need his love and mercy the most? That's a tough question. I know for me, it is easy to go to church, help out with children's programs, and sing in the choir. But it is not so easy to love the hard to love people, to make time in my life and room in my heart for those who don't fit into "my plan". I hope you will take a few minutes to listen to the song below.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tough Questions, Tough Answers

In just a little over a week, Noah will have been home for 4 months. He continues to thrive in his new environment and just today we spoke to his preschool teacher. She went on and on about what a change she has seen in him, how talkative he is now, and what a smart little guy he is. What a huge answer to prayer! He even seems disappointed now when he doesn't get to go to school (which is every Friday).

Along with his English skills improving has come lots and lots of questions, as I wrote about in the last post. Not all of them are easy questions. Some, in fact, are very difficult questions to answer.

Noah has asked us several times why he was older when mommy and daddy came to Ethiopia to bring him home, as opposed to Caleb, who was much younger when mommy and daddy brought him home. This was a new question for us, as Caleb was so young when he was adopted that he has no memories of his life in Ethiopia. We told Noah that he was older when he was adopted because he had a mommy in Ethiopia who took care of him as long as she could. Then we came to Ethiopia and brought him home so we could take care of him and be his mommy and daddy. Not sure if this was the best answer, but it seemed to satisfy his question at the time. Then, of course, Caleb wanted to know why he was a baby when he came to live with us, instead of being older, like Noah. This question was a bit trickier to address, as Caleb was found abandoned, and we honestly do not know anything about his birth family. So, we just told him that he needed a mommy and daddy when he was a baby, and for a three year old, that seemed to be a good answer.
Noah has also asked when he is going back to Ethiopia. When he asked this question for the first time, my heart sank. I was not sure if he was asking out of curiosity, or because he wanted to go back to Ethiopia to live. So, Zack and I gently probed with additional questions, and it seems that he was just wondering if, in fact, this was his home now, or if he would be going back to Ethiopia to live. He seemed glad to know that this was his home, though at times, most of the time when he is being disciplined, Noah will mumble something about wanting to go back to Ethiopia. I have heard other adoptive parents of older children speak of this happening as well, and usually it is no need for alarm, but it is hard on a parent's heart to hear those words.
No doubt these questions and issues will arise again and again, and will require more thorough and detailed explanations as the boys get older.

Trying to explain to young children the loss they have experienced in a way they can understand is both difficult and saddening. But the one thing I have been reminded of through these difficult questions is how thankful I am for the miracle of adoption, that God can turn such loss into such joy, hope and love through the blessing of family. Not only this, but that God is faithful to strengthen, guide, and equip us for what he has called Zack and to do, which is to be a part of the wonderful, though not always easy, blessing of adoption.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"Why????" x 600!

The above pictures are from a fun trip we took a couple of weekends ago to Gatlinburg, TN. Both sets of grandparents went, we visited the aquarium and spent a day at an indoor waterpark. It was a blast. Because we all spent so much time together that weekend, the grandparents became aware of something I hear every day- the word, "why????". They were quite astonished at just how many times, Noah, especially, uses the word. Of course, you have to remember, Noah has only been home for 3 months, is still very much in the midst learning a new language, and is surrounded by completely new sights and sounds- heck, I would probably say "why???" constantly as well. And I do mean constantly. Noah is one very inquisitive little man.
To see just how inquisitive he is, one day, I decided to keep track of how many times he used the word "why???". I only made it for about an hour, because he said the word over 50 times in one hour. So, if you average that over the 12 hours he is awake each day, he says "why???" more than 600 times a day!! That is a lot of "why's?????" I admit, at the end of the day "why???" #566 can begin to take its toll, but I try to remember- he is in a new world! We should be expect him to be full of questions! I have caught him a few times asking "why???" about things that he already knows the answer to, and in those cases I turn the tables and ask him "why???" :) It is amazing to hear him answer me in English. His English is improving with each day, and the biggest issue we are having with language at this time is word order, which is something we know will come with time.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Bond of Brotherhood.....

Growing up as an only child, I obviously never knew what it was like to have a sibling. I had some close friends and cousins, but never someone who was always there, all the time. Trust me, this was okay with me then, (I told my parents that I liked everything just the way it was when asked if I wanted a brother or sister) and really, I am okay with it now as well. The only thing I wonder about is the sibling bond.

However, after watching Caleb and Noah over the last couple of months, I been given a small glimpse into the bond of brotherhood, and maybe I understand it- just a little bit. I have to believe that this bond of brotherhood is even more special and unique, seeing as Caleb and Noah have only known each other for a short 10 weeks or so, and have no biological relation. And yet, they share something that is even more special. They were both chosen. They were both sought out. They were both loved long before they knew there was a family that was praying every night for them to come home soon. Maybe that is where this amazing, supernatural bond of brotherhood comes from. It is as real as anything I have ever seen.

Caleb and Noah's love is obvious for each other. They choose to sit beside each other at preschool choir and choose to play with each other during Sunday School- they do not want to be seperated. They are best friends. At the McDonald's Play Place (which has quickly become a favorite destination), they won't venture into the brightly colored tunnels without one another. And just yesterday, while Noah was at preschool and Caleb was at home with me, Caleb told me several times that he loved Noah and wanted him to come home. These guys love each other dearly. They fight with lots of passion too, but at the end of the day, they are two peas in a pod, two special boys who by God's soveriegn will ended up in our home- how blessed are we??!!!
Now that Noah is home, the number one question we get in public is, "Are they brothers?" Well, I of course know what people mean when they ask that question. People want to know if Caleb and Noah are biological brothers. I usually say "no", and explain that they were both adopted from Ethiopia, and get a chance to talk about adoption, which is always a good thing. I have been tempted to just say "yes" and go on. I did that once to the sweet lady who works in the children's section of the library, and I still feel guilty about it, because I know what she was really asking :)

But the truth is they are as real of brothers as they could possibly be, and the bond of brotherhood in our home is strong. God has answered so many prayers over the last several weeks and has shown himself so faithful in the life of our family that
all we can do is praise him and thank him for his great love and mercy.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

2 Months Home

Yesterday marked Noah's 2 month anniversary :) As I have been saying in these last few blog posts, "wow!" You just could not imagine the difference in this child!!! God is truly working through the miracle of adoption to transform his life!

Noah's language has exploded! He is now putting together 4-5 words at a time and saying phrases like, "What are you doing?" and "It don't work, it's broken" (we will worry about grammar later :). He also has began asking "why??" several times a day- well, to be honest, several times a minute :) We are so thrilled and thankful for how well his language is progressing. It is truly an answer to prayer and a testament to what a brave and resilient little guy Noah is, and how good God is!!

He is also really beginning to enjoy school and his teachers have told us that he is interacting well with the other kids , and helping them with their ABC's- amazing! He is also becoming more comfortable at church and interacting with the kids at church. He goes to children's church every Sunday and seems to really enjoy it.

He and Caleb continue to be best buddies. It is sweet to watch. They still have their "brother moments" very often, but I guess this is just the norm (according to my dad who grew up with three brothers).

We also have visited with the primary infectious disease physician at UK, and everything couldn't be better in that area as well. Noah has no complications at this time, is not symptomatic, and does not require medication at this time, though most likely it will not be too much longer before that will be a reality for him. When that time comes, it will be a big adjustment and a large responsibility, but nothing we can't handle with strength of God.
So for now, it is smooth sailing :) We feel extremely blessed to be where we are, and though we realize that Noah still has much healing and adjusting yet to do,
we are so thankful.