Monday, December 28, 2009

What a month!


Wow... the month of December has flown by! I can hardly believe we are about to embark upon 2010. This has been a month full of fun and celebration.

We started the month off by celebrating Ellie's 3rd birthday! Ellie had her first party at her babysitter's house.. loads of fun was had!! Then we had some family and friends to our house that weekend for another birthday party. Ellie's only requests for the day were that Jeff and I wear pajamas with her, that there were balloons in the house and that she have flowers. So... we did just that. We were in pjs (very comfy, I might add), and the house was filled with balloons. A dozen pink roses were on the table for Ellie. she was in awe of it all. In lieu of gifts, we asked that anyone who wanted to, give a donation to Ellie's former orphanage instead. We are THRILLED to announce that the children of Ammanuel Orphanage in Woliso, Ethiopia will soon be getting $200 worth of food their way! we are so excited to be able to do even this small thing for the place that gave life to our sweet girl!

helping mommy make cupcakes for her party at Mrs. Lisa's!

I am constantly amazed at this child! God has reshaped her in so many ways, yet there is still the innocence, excitement and wonder that was there when we first met her just a few months ago. I am so thankful that God entrusted us to parent her, and I cannot wait to celebrate more and more birthdays with her in the years to come!

My birthday was also this month, and Jeff and I got away for our first date night since bringing Ellie home. Let me just say.. I love my kids, but getting away with Jeff was more than wonderful! Thank you Jeff, for being my partner, my best friend, my hero! I love you!

And finally, we get to Christmas. I had forgotten how much fun it is to have a 3 year old in the house at Christmas time! Ellie has had a blast watching all of the festivities! She loves the trees, the decorations, the lights (she LOVED Southern Lights!). She has had fun making her own ornaments for the first time this year. She has relished in learning the Christmas carols (much to Bryan's dismay, I might add). But, she has truly understood that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. We woke on Christmas morning to her singing in her room "Happy Birthday to you" to Jesus. How sweet is that?? It was the perfect reminder of why we celebrate.

My family is my gift, this year and every year. So, I've decided not to post any of our Christmas pics here right now. Instead, I want to take some time to tell them what they mean to me.

Jeff, you are my hero. In every sense of the word, that's exactly what you are. You have made all of my dreams come true.. even those that I was afraid to speak aloud for a long time. You are a dream come true to me. Every day, it is a privilege and an honor to wake beside you, walk through each day with you, and end each day knowing that no matter what happened that day, you are still my number one encourager and fan. You know exactly how to make me laugh, and you know just when I need you to be silent. You are such a Godly man.. an example to me and to our children of sacrificial love. I am so thankful that God placed us together in this life. I can't imagine doing it without you by my side every day! It's my life's greatest honor to call you my husband. I love you forever.

Bryan.. you are my son, my firstborn (my only-born, as you say). You have always brought to me so much joy, and you still do. Nothing makes my day quite so much as you giving me a hug or a kiss for no apparent reason at all. I love that you still kiss me in public and that you aren't afraid to say that you love me. I have loved watching you become a young man. I dream about the man you will one day be; I can only imagine that you will be fabulous! It is an honor to watch you mature, to watch you wrestle out the rights and wrongs, to walk alongside you and encourage you in the faith. I want you to know that I never felt incomplete when you were an only child; you have always been enough for me, and if we had never had more children, I would have always known I was the most blessed mom in the world. Don't for a minute ever think that bringing Ellie home means that you were less than special. Our family is not whole without you.. no doubt! You bring light and joy to my heart every day. You taught me how to be a mom; you've given me grace when I stunk at it too! I love being your mom, Bryan. I love you.

Ellie, you are such a joy. You've shown me a perfect picture of what God's redemptive love looks like. The lessons I am learning through your life seem never ending. You are such a miracle. I never believed that I could be so blessed as to parent two children who were so incredible! I am so thankful that God chose you for us! Being your mommy is such a joy! I am loving painting nails, playing dress up, learning how to do hair, shopping for jewelry and clothes, and shoes shoes shoes! I love that you are a girly girl. Always keep that!! I love your spirit. i love your spunk. I want you to know that this is your forever home, and you will always be safe and secure here. You will always have plenty to eat, and you will always know the touch and sound of love in this home. You never have to wonder again if you are wanted; here, you are always wanted and always loved, Ellie! You are an answer to a very special prayer I prayed many years ago. To see you as the culmination of all of those prayers just makes me tear up and puts chills down my spine! I love you as if I had carried you in my womb, and although I know I didn't do that, I did carry you in my heart. You light up my day when you smile and say "I lub you mommy". I'm so happy you are finally home, sweet girl.

I can only imagine what 2010 has in store...

Styling sunday....sort of

Well, Christmas Eve wasn't on a Sunday, but my girl was stylin' nonetheless.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Styling Sunday 3

Hair, courtesy of Deniece Bell... my hero!! love you girl! Gotta give props where they are due!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Styling Sunday...

We've been blessed with friends who have given us TONS of clothes for Ellie. She may never wear the same dress twice. So, I thought I'd have a little fun with all of the Christmas dresses she's been given and do "Stylin' Sundays". So... here's the first.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Giving Thanks....

This week we celebrated Thanksgiving as we always do, surrounded by family and feasting on enough food to last a month. And all over the world there are children, moms, dads, uncles, aunts, cousins, daughters, sons, and friends who ate nothing. I remember last year wondering what my little girl was eating, if anything, for Thanksgiving. I wondered if she had anything to be thankful for at all. This year, I've witnessed, yet again, the power of God Almighty, as Ellie was hugged and kissed in person by her extended family. I watched her eyes get bigger and bigger as we put more and more on her plate. I loved watching her try foods for the first time (she does not like broccoli casserole, but she loved the corn pudding!)I was in tears just having a front row seat to watch her experience the newness.

Yesterday we got to watch her experience yet another new thing: We put up the Christmas decorations! I don't know if Ellie has ever seen a Christmas tree before, besides what she has seen in the department stores. In fact, when our tree was lit up, she looked at me and said "Oh, it's beautiful like Kohls!". Sweet girl...

I wish I could put into words what it means to be able to watch her experience these things for the first time. Last night, she was running through the house, yelling over and over how beautiful everything looked and how much she loved snowmen. Bryan said "Mom, make her stop! She's driving me nuts!". But then we realized that we've had this to experience our entire lives, and for her, this is all new. It puts things in perspective when you look at it like that.

I held Ellie in my lap and showed her the nativity scene, explaining who the people were. She is in awe that the wise men brought gifts, wondering where the balloons were (I'm sure Baby Jesus would have loved balloons too!). She kept saying "that's so nice of them!". And I just cried (I do that a lot lately!)

Oh God, thank you for the gift of my two beautiful children. Thank you for the gift of hearing their laughter and their cries, for it means that I know they are experiencing life in its fullness. Thank you for the gift of being able to watch Ellie's face light up in wonder as she saw the lights and decorations here for the first time. Thank you for her innocence. Thank you for Bryan and his patience with her. Thank you that we have plenty to eat, that's never a worry Ellie has to have again. Thank you that we have clean water to drink, that we can live parasite-free. Thank you for my husband who is my dream come true. I'm so grateful that we can share this life together. Thank you for Who you are, for the miracles we see DAILY because our Hope is in You, Lord.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In honor of Pastor's Appreciation Month....

I thought I'd take the opportunity to tell you what I appreciate about my favorite pastor (who happens to be my husband in case anyone reading this doesn't know).

1. He treats me like a queen. He makes submission easy. seriously.
2. He sacrifices for our family (ask him how many times he has played golf this year, and you'll see what I mean)
3. When he watches shows like "America's Funniest Videos", he laughs with his whole being. It's better than watching the show!
4. He has regular "dad and lad" days with Bryan.. .and always will, I'm sure.
5. He and Ellie go at least once a week on a "bagel breakfast date".
6. He plays shoot-em-up XBOX games one minute with Bryan, then has a tea party while wearing a feather boa with Ellie the next.
7. He asks me out on dates still.
8. He's pretty hot...
9. God is supreme in his life. Always has been. Always will be.
10. He is gifted at the ministry. It's what he was made to do.. no doubt about it. He's in his element when he is serving our community.
11. He says some words really funny and it always cracks me up, but he doesn't mind.
12. He led me to Christ while we were dating.
13. He asked me to be his wife, and he still tells me he is glad he did!
14. He teaches me how to be a better parent, mom, Christ-follower and all around better person.
15. He plays Scrabble with me when I've had a rough day.
16. He puts the toothpaste on my toothbrush in the mornings to help me.
17. He ALWAYS opens the doors for me.
18. He is teaching Bryan to always open the doors for me too!
19. He kisses me first when he comes home.
20. He is passionate about his love for Christ. It's because of this that all these other things exist.

I love you Jeff. I'm proud of the work you do for the Kingdom of God. I'm honored to be your wife in this journey. I'm humbled to walk beside you. I'm undeniably head over heels in love with you!

So... go tell your favorite pastor what it is you love about him! they work hard and need to know they are loved!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mommy's Girl...

People ask all the time how things are going with Ellie. I always answer the same way.. it's going great. And overall, it is. She's learning so much, so quickly. It's really quite amazing to watch! but it's not all easy, and if truth be told, there are times that it's just downright hard to handle! The emotions, the unknowns, the language barriers.. it's all hard sometimes. It's worth it, no doubt! but it's still hard!

Tonight while giving Ellie a bath, I was overwhelmed with a flood of emotions. I won't share all of the details because that's her story and I'm not gonna share it here. But I will tell you that Ellie told me about a horrible experience in her life tonight, in as much detail as she can in her part English-part Amharic, two year old vocabulary.

Initially I was angry. I called Jeff in and she told him the same story. We know it's true. We've known about it for a while. But she has never said it herself to us until now. We were both overcome with feelings of wanting to hurt someone, to take revenge. I wanted to lash out at someone at the injustice that has happened in her short little life.

But the other part of me was grateful. Tonight was proof that we are making progress in our bonding. Ellie trusts us enough to not only be goofy and silly and sing fun songs with us. She trusts us enough to share her hurts. That's what family is all about! Isn't that we all long for with our children- for them to be comfortable enough with us to tell us everything? That's exactly what happened here tonight.. right in my jacuzzi tub with soap suds all over her fuzzy little head.

Tonight's conversation also made me see once more just how much I love this little girl. No, I didn't give birth to her like you normally think of mothers and babies. But I gave birth to her in my heart, and tonight that bond was solidified even further, as she entrusted to me what is likely her biggest hurt in life. She didn't want me to fix it; it's already fixed. She just wanted me to know. And as I picked her up out of that tub, she put her arms around my neck and kissed my cheeks so sweetly (she kisses both of them, always!).

For a moment, time stood still. There was no hurt, no worries, no unknowns in her past, no uncertainties. There was just a mommy and her little girl, sharing a sudsy kiss. It was just the way God intended it to be. It was pure, peaceful.

It was perfect.

Thank you Lord, for the gift of my daughter.. my sweet little girl.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Here's the latest video of what Ellie has been learning.. check it out!

And Sue, there's a special message for you at the end! She loves you so much!

Monday, October 5, 2009


Ellie has been home with us for 8 weeks now. The difference is astounding really. She's gone from a timid, quiet shy little girl, afraid to even let us hear her voice at times to a boisterous, happy, singing ball of giggles and smiles. I'm in awe of how God brought her to us. Sometimes I just sit and watch her in amazement, and thank God for the gift of her in our lives.

I went back to work last week. I didn't really want to go, if I'm being completely honest. But... that's life, and I believe that there is a reason for my being in that place as well. Jeff is now on Family Leave for 8 weeks, and he is loving it! I'm so thankful that he has this opportunity to be with her. I'm grateful that she will grow to see her Daddy even more fully, and know that in him she has a wonderful example of her Heavenly Father.

I have to say that my favorite part of the day is 1:30pm, when I get off of work. I drive to pick Bryan up at school and then we head home together. I love that drive home with him (when he takes his headphones out!). And when we get home, I love hearing Ellie yell "mommy" and run to me for a hug and kiss! Awwwww.. you can't beat that people.

I'm learning more and more that it's the simple things in life that make it worthwhile. I'm learning more and more that God gives us countless blessings each and every day that we often overlook (like when your 13 year old turns his music off to talk, your two year old tells you that you are beautiful, and your husband cooks dinner for you and says that he'll clean up too just because he loves you and wants to serve you!!). I guess after having seen the depravity and poverty in Ethiopia where Ellie's life began, I'm more determined than ever to not let the little things slip by without notice. For that matter, I don't want to let the big things pass me by either. God has given me too much to ever take for granted a single moment here on earth.

Scripture tells us that "God sets the lonely in families..." (psalm 68:6). We are seeing that lived out in our home. There is no doubt that God set Ellie right here with us, and we are so thankful for His plan. So many people have said to us that we are a blessing to her. I would argue (again) that she is the blessing to us! I learn more every day about God's greatness in watching her story unfold.

So, go hug your kids, kiss your spouse, and write that long-overdue letter. But before you do that, get on your knees and thank the Lord for His mercy and Grace upon you, and for the gifts He gives freely every day.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Daddies and Daughters...

One thing I love most about Jeff is how involved he is with our kids. He has never been a dad that sits on the sidelines.. no way! It's one of the things I admire most about him...Both Ellie and Bryan will always know that their Daddy loved them so much that he was always learning new things about them and for them. Here's just one example of that... ENJOY~

Friday, September 11, 2009

what happened???

September 11th is the day that Ethiopia celebrates New Year's Day. As of today, the people of Ethiopia entered the year 2002!


No wonder no one knows what date Ellie was born! We aren't even in the same year as they are!

Go celebrate in honor of Ethiopia!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bringing Ellie Home: the video

Here's a great video Jeff put together of moments from our trip to Ethiopia. Get your Kleenex and enjoy the show....

Monday, August 24, 2009

When Did This Happen?

Today, my little boy went to high school.

Okay, so he's not so little anymore. He's a young man now, I know. But in my heart, he'll always be my little boy. Today, he got up and got dressed (no more uniforms- WOO HOO!) and walked out the door into a whole new era of his life. I sat in the kitchen and cried.

I'm not crying because I don't want him to grow up. I'm proud of the man he is becoming. I wouldn't hold him back for anything; God has too much in store for him to have anyone trying to hold him down! I was crying because I'm honored to be the mom of this incredible young man.

This morning, you started a new chapter in life. I know it must have been a little intimidating to walk into that new school (even if it's too uncool to admit it!). I know it must have been frustrating to be at the "bottom of the totem pole" again in school. But to look at you, you never would have guessed it. You were excited. You were handsome. And I knew you were ready.

I've known for a while now that you were ready for high school. I've watched you mature in leaps and bounds in the past few months. I've watched as you grew hair you didn't have before, listened as your voice deepened, and sat in awe as you started to make decisions based on the needs of others. When I say that I'm honored to be your mom, I mean it with all my heart. You bless me every day, just by being you.

You've always had something special about you. You can change the feel of a room just by walking in. You have a gift of putting people at ease with your smile and your conversation. You are hilarious without trying, sincere without effort (it's just natural with you), and you are genuine in all you do. I love that you have your own unique style about you. I love that you are not afraid to be different.

I prayed today what I have prayed for you the past several years "For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more that all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within you, to Him be glory in the church and in Jesus Christ throughout all generations".

I pray that as you encounter new people and new ideas today and throughout this year, that you will be grounded in the TRUTH of Jesus Christ. I pray that His light will shine through you. I pray that you are strong when others are weak, that you are rooted and established when others are falling in the sand. I pray that you are courageous when others may be afraid. I pray that you are secure in knowing that I love you today and always.. just as you are. You are all that I could have ever dreamed of. You are my son.

Have a great year, Bryan! Make every day count.

I love you,

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ethiopia: Day 1 continued


After our trip to Woliso, we were finally back at the Transition House to meet Ellie. This was the moment we had been waiting for all this time. I was a nut!! I was nervous and excited all at once, not sure of how she would respond to us. It was all surreal, to be honest.

We entered the Transition House, where Ellie had been living since early June. We were greeted by several children, excited to see us come in. I kept looking for that sweet little face I've memorized in pictures for the past 8 months. But I couldn't find her.

We walked through different rooms, and then we entered this tiny little dining room with little tiny tables. The staff were serving lunch, and a few kids were already seated and ready to eat. Ellie was sitting there, smaller than I ever had imagined and more beautiful that I could have ever dreamed.

Sue spoke to her to tell her that her Mommy and Daddy were here. She was shy, but she looked up to see us briefly. Then, her attention was back on her lunch (After seeing her eat for the past 2 weeks, I understand that!). We knelt down to talk to her, but she was so shy. It was obvious that she wasn't going to eat with us staring at her either, so we took a tour of the rest of the house to let her finish her lunch.

I'm glad that Jeff was videoing the house because honestly I can't remember any of it. I just wanted to hold my little girl! I couldn't wait to get back downstairs! We went from room to room, meeting other babies that will soon be going home. We also met some workers, but mostly, we were killing time to get to our Ellie.

Once we were back downstairs, we walked back into the dining room, only to find that Ellie wasn't there! One of the nannies pointed outside, and we found her out the door on her potty chair. We waited again while she finished, then washed her hands with the staff. Once she had washed, she came right to me, and I picked her up. She threw those tiny little arms around my neck, and it was all over. I didn't sob; I didn't want to scare her. But so much emotion was welling up in me! It's hard to explain here, and to be honest, I don't want to explain it to everyone. It's too personal. I'll share it all with Ellie one day, but I will tell you that I was just overwhelmed with gratitude to God for allowing me to be a part of this journey to bring her home!

We went inside where the other children were playing. You see, Ellie has never known doing anything without other kids around. She was much more comfortable with her friends around. We had a gift for her, so we gave that to her and read a book together, just trying to give her a chance to get used to us a little.

I have to say that one of my favorite moments of all was seeing Jeff holding Ellie for the first time. I know how much I love my dad, and I have prayed that she will be a daddy's girl through and through! I think she will be, based on what I saw that first day! It didn't take long til Ellie was smiling for all of our pics together and showing her friends her new toys! I love that she shares everything. She has no concept of owning anything, so it was not a big deal to her to let others play with the things we had brought to her. I hope that remains in her as it is so different from what alot of kids are like today.

We weren't there long, really. Just long enough to meet, take some pics with the nannies and other kids, then leave to go back to the Guest House. We did get to thank Tesfanesh, her nanny at the Transition House, for caring so well for Ellie! This woman deserves a medal for her work. I'm so grateful to God for women like her in Ellie's life thus far! It was a whirlwind visit really. Ellie fell asleep in Bryan's arms on the way to our Guest House. How amazing it was to see him with her! What a terrific big brother he is to her!! I'm so proud of him.. this is a real adjustment for him too!!
a little shy at first

Bryan's first time holding Ellie

safe in Daddy's arms

first of many books with Mommy

there's a smile...

Daddys' little girl


Tesfanesh...Ellie's nanny!

some of the Transition House staff

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ethiopia: Day 1

I'm going to try blogging day by day about our trip to Ethiopia. It's the easiest way to make sure that I don't miss anything.

Day one (Sunday, August 9th) was a busy and exciting day! We started early. We were awakened at 4am by the Muslim chants over the loud speakers outside our Guest House. We got up at 5am, and were on the road at 6:30am. We were picked up by Alazar, who drives for our agency in country. What a great man!

We headed over to the Transition House to pick up Sue, our agency director. I can't tell you how strange it was to know that Ellie was inside that house and not to see her. However, we knew that if we met her, we wouldn't want to leave her, and we really wanted to make this trip. We were headed out to Woliso, where Ellie was born and where she lived in the orphanage.

The drive to Woliso was about 2 hours southwest of Addis, and it was beautiful. It's rainy season in Ethiopia right now, so it rained some as we drove. The countryside was beautiful, so green and lush! Cows and donkey were everywhere- in the fields, yards and storefronts, and in the middle of the road. In Ethiopia, you don't use the brake much on a car; you just honk the horn!! HA!

As we drove into Woliso, I was overwhelmed by all the children we saw. They came runnning out to the street- dirty, hungry, some naked- but all smiling and waving. We stopped to buy some bananas and gave some out to the children along the way. They just gobbled them up! They were so hungry! Their hair has a golden tint to it, and it's not from heredity or from dirt; it's from malnourishment.

At the Ammanuel Orphanage, where Ellie stayed, we met Yob, the director, and Shetto, the nanny. Yob was very excited to meet us and know that we had adopted Ellie. Shetto, the nanny, told us how sad and shy Ellie was when she first met her. She was tearful and obviously moved when she heard that you were happy and healthy now. We got the chance to thank her for taking such good care of Ellie, and that is something I will be forever grateful for.
Shetto, nanny that cared for Ellie

Yob, Ammanuel Orphanage director

The tour of the orphanage was nothing short of heart-breaking. It didn't take long, as it is small and compact. We saw the bed that Ellie slept in, and I was overcome with seeing how dirty and tiny it was in that dingy and damp room. I held a baby that was filthy and smelly, and I was broken at the thought that I have been given so much when these children have so little.

The kitchen was the hardest part of all to see. They showed it to us, and all I could think of was "where is the food?" There was none. Nothing. What were they going to eat that day? Was it somewhere else? Would they have anything at all, other than what Sue had brought along with her that day? How many days did Ellie live here without enough to eat? How many nights did she go to bed with her little belly hurting from hunger?
Jeff entering the kitchen

another kitchen view- the thing in front of the orange tank holds coals that they cook over

The children at this orphanage are beautiful. There's no other way to say it! I wish I could post pictures of them with their beautiful smiles and knowing eyes. They would melt your heart. It's against policy to post pics of orphans on the internet, so I can't. But I pray that peoples' hearts are opening to the call of God to open their homes to these children!

While at the orphanage, Yob told us that Ellie's birthmom was nearby and had another baby that she wanted to place for adoption. Before we knew what to think, we were in the car again, on our way to meet the woman who gave life to our beautiful daughter! My emotions were raw, to say the least! I was nervous to meet her, wondering what I should say or how to act. But when I saw her, I was very much at peace.

Her name is Tigist, and she is quiet and beautiful. Ellie has her eyes. She stood not much taller than me, very thin and petite like Ellie will likely be. She was holding Ellie's baby sister, who is about 8 months old. She gave very little eye contact and spoke very softly, but as we stood together longer, she looked directly at me a few times. She is from the Garage (pronounced ga-raw-gi) tribe, known for its strong work ethic. I have no doubt that she works long, hard hours. Before you start to judge her for not taking care of her children, know that she works for about a dollar a day. She can't provide for her children in that kind of poverty. So, she gave Ellie (and is giving her other daughter) a gift that is beyond my scope of mind. She gave them life not only in birth, but through the miracle of adoption. We were able to get a few pictures of us together, that I will cherish forever. She teared up as we thanked her for the gift of Ellie. We promised to love her forever, as if I had given birth to her myself. I pray she is at peace knowing that Ellie is taken care of and loved dearly. I pray she rests well in knowing that her sacrifice was an answer to my prayer.
Ellie's birth mother, Tigist, holding her baby sister

Once we left Tigist, we made a couple of other short visits to other children who are being adopted. Then it was back to Addis, Ellie's baby sister in hand, to meet Ellie face to face for the first time! Stay tuned... that story is next!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Many Faces of Ellie Kedest Prosser...










anticipation for her mommy, daddy and brother!