Friday, June 19, 2015
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
It's been over a year since I last blogged, so I figured it was high time I dropped a line...or two. Most of the time when I write there's something in mind I want to say, but this time I'm not sure. I figure an update on each member of our immediate family should take up enough room. (wink)
I'll assume some of you may not know about all the recent transitions and thus begin with our current living situation. The Walling family is is closing on a house this Friday in North Richland Hills, a suburb situated just northeast of Fort Worth. I am now serving as Student Pastor at the First Baptist Church of Hurst where I have been warmly and quickly accepted as family. That is one thing Jessica and I have been blessed with - churches who are family. From our home church of Fair Park (for which there is no replacement), we never believed we'd find a church to call home, but Wedgwood and Hulen Street during our time at Southwestern were delightful places of love and growth. Then our dear, sweet Anderson Mill. The love and affection poured out in us as we walked new paths was unmatched and undeserved. And now, as He did with Abram, God has brought us to a place that He showed us. First Hurst is a wonderful place. It beams with joy and gladness, yet fits like an old coat. It is glorious. Well, maybe more on that some other time. Suffice to say, I am excited about many years to come with this team of pastors and this family of believers.
Jessica has fallen into the role of mom of six like...something that falls quickly...and GRACEFULLY! Goodness, she rarely has time to stop and realize all she does, but the girl is totes legit. This move up here has been tough for several reasons besides that moves are difficult. The main thing being that we moved into the church's mission residence. We are so extremely grateful for God's provision and the church's graciousness. Thanks to them we've not had to find rentals, deal with leases, etc. And the house is rather roomy for a three bedroom, two bath home. But we have a rather large family and a 3/2 is...snug. All that to say, I believe Jessica will lay down and make carpet angels in every room of our new home. There will be plenty of room for her to do so if she so desires.
Solomon is playing football and loving it. He's making friends and always wanting to go somewhere. He just finished a game tonight in which he scored 3 touchdowns. He is very quickly becoming a strong and handsome young man. I pray he stays humble and kind. (note to self: wrestle him several more times before he can beat you)
Rahel will need a dose of humility too because she is beautiful. I know boys want to date her and that won't change, but I pray she allows her daddy to hold her heart until the right man comes along. She loves music and has decent taste in it, but as so many do she falls victim to the faddish boy bands and teeny bopper noise that will be forgotten with gauges and YOLO.
Yoseph is doing well. He adjusts quickly. I heard someone recently refer to a certain temperament child as "momma's heartbeat". That sort of defines Yoseph most of the time. He's a sweet kid with a sweet disposition. He forgets to take out the trash because he is too into his TV show or off riding his bike with a friend, but I'm glad he is blessed to do such things.
Eyasu is what many would call "all boy", a phrase which I dislike because it implies that boys that are not like him are less male, but you get the meaning. We practice the art of silence often. He's not very good at that type of art. He is very good at making friends. And he loves to help around the house and with the babies.
Evie is a chatterbox, but only a fraction of what she says is decipherable to humans. She is quite fluent in "woof-woof" and "meeeoooww". She is in Spouts, a wonderful two-day-a-week preschool at our church. She currently is obsessed with me currently...which I love and hate. I love it because I love her enthusiasm when she sees me and I know I'll miss it one when it's over. I hate it that she consumes so much of me that the others deserve. But man, she's a peach.
Kee is about as happy of a baby as you'll meet. Big fat cheeks and the funniest laugh. It's more of a cackle really. And she says "dada" and "mama" and few other things. Crawling everywhere, pulling up, but not yet walking. She has these bright blue eyes that grow with intensity when she laughs hard. She hates to be held and would rather be down on the floor. She sprays her food at us like The Great Kabuki. (note self: Christmas present idea for Jess, Hazmat suit)
And I'm great, thanks for asking. And...
Thanks for reading.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Now that that's out of the way, the pump is primed for what else I want to say. First, I'll tell everyone what's going on with the pregnancy (Jessica and the baby's health). Then, I'll rant about something that is really under my skin.
The update. Jess is 27 weeks and has been monitored very closely since Evie was born 2 months premature. She's in the hospital even as I type. We went in last night because she was having contractions pretty steadily. The extent of my knowledge concerning health runs dry quite quickly so I'll say as little as possible. She's better now and will hopefully be coming home tomorrow. Magnesium slowed the contractions, steroids and antibiotics were administered as a backup plan. Our target date is October 12th. That's 32 weeks. If she makes it to then I get to take her out to dinner. Pray to that end. Maybe they'll be questions that I've left unanswered, but I'll try to keep Facebook updated with bits and pieces. Or follow me @ryanwalling on Twitter.
The rant. Life is hard. Our life is pretty difficult currently. I say that with some hesitation because there is always someone worse. Who am I to complain? I don't deserve the grace I'm given. I deserve no joy, only suffering. But I am human. And pain is painful. Some people who've not taken the time to think through their own thoughts and motivations hear of our current status and offer unsolicited prescriptions. Usually I hear this through others. It's not often someone has the gall to say things to the face being spoken about. They say things about maybe we shouldn't've adopted and our lives wouldn't be so tumultuous. They probably don't use words like tumultuous though. Or maybe they spout about using a form of contraceptive and this sort of thing wouldn't happen. These poor souls have not taken the time to consider what it is they are worshipping. Most probably show up on Sunday to sing and hear a sermon. Some even raise their hands and take notes. But they've missed the Gospel. Or forgotten it.
Pat Robertson is catching some flack because of a string of unthoughtful comments he's made as of late. I'll paraphrase, but check for yourself. He said a few months back that people may not should adopt because the children may be flawed and cause discomfort in your life. You just never can tell about orphans. Weeks later he told a man he would be justified in divorcing his wife who has Alzheimer's. She can no longer truly be his wife - performing her obligations to him and what not. And most recently he mentioned that moving to Saudi Arabia might be an option for a man getting his wife in line. There you could beat her into submission. I'm glad Jesus didn't mind the trouble I'd be when He adopted me into His family. And I'm glad He doesn't leave me when I'm unable or unwilling to perform my obligations. And I'm glad he doesn't beat me into submission. Instead grace wins the day.
To those who think we should have chosen an easier route. To those who believe that life should be training to reign. To those who would rather just avoid the difficult things and live life to the fullest. To those who don't know or misuse scripture to justify a self-righteous position. To those? You've missed the Gospel. The Gospel is dirty. Scandalous even! And God's love toward His children is steadfast. Terrifying even! That holy God would offer Himself as a sacrifice to buy me back from my own filth and cleanse me by joining His Spirit to mine...never giving up on me, continuing on at all cost to make me into His likeness because He knows that His likeness means completeness and that is all that bring true and lasting joy. This hope I have is grounded solidly and wrapped intricately throughout God's word. It is this. That He will use any means necessary to form me into what will ultimately be my eternal joy. Suffering and trials will come. There is little earthly prosperity in this Gospel. The only name-it, claim-it here belongs to God alone. I'm grateful for the bruising. Hard as it may be because I know all things will work out for the good of those who love Him.
First Peter has these words, "Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled..." It goes on to tell us to always be ready to defend that for which you've been called and defend it I will. The problem lies in that it tells me to do so with gentleness. I don't always like being gentle. So, I'll refer to James who tells his adherents to be first pure, then peaceable.
I like Robert Frost. He wrote, "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." Jess and I have not chosen an easy road. One might say the road chose us. I'd rather like to think God chose us for this road. And He has and will continue to equip us for the various obstacles we will conquer. We will conquer because God does the choosing and the equipping. We will do the walking.
Thanks for reading.
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Even as I type I'm not sure what I want to say. Several have asked why we haven't blogged so this is in part out of obligation. I've also many times bottled up a yell or screamed into my brain so maybe this is a cathartic vent. A wringing out of my grey matter. And you know the adage "It takes a village...", well, maybe someone has the golden ticket and desires to dispense some wisdom. Anyhow.
Parenting is the most difficult thing I've ever done. I think I can speak that for Jessica too. We (mostly she) get asked one hundred and six questions before 9am. One day we gave them each 10 popsicle sticks and every question they asked they had to give us a stick. When they ran out of sticks, they ran out of questions they could ask. Breakfast was silent. It was nice. The whining is incessant. No matter what's for breakfast someone isn't pleased. Regardless what we have planned for the day there will be discord. It's a repetitive cycle: question, answer, whine, question, answer, whine. Ad infinitum.
If I had a magic wand, which I don't, but if I did I would...I would...ummm...probably give myself more patience and understanding. More wisdom. I mean, sure, I'd love to change their situation and give their biological mom her life back and reorder their family, but let's be real. I need to change me. I can only change me. God help us all.
Overall, we've seen much improvement. They're adjusting quite well. You have to imagine how difficult it would be! New language. Think for a moment of being thrust into a society where you only understood about 20% of what is being said. What if you couldn't communicate well enough to express your needs or feelings? Of course you would learn. And learn they have! But it was certainly grueling for a while. New parents. Jess and I have have carved out "our way" for well over a decade and now we are adding new people to the mix. Hard-headed people who also have their own way. We are all learning what true flexibility feels like. On top of that there's new foods, smells, texture, climate, people, music, rules, times, activities. The list goes on. But we are all adjusting. God is sovereign. God is good.
Parenting is the most joyous thing I've ever done. Before I begin here I want you to realize this is not a contradiction of my previous statement. The harder the work, the greater the reward. If you think about this it's true...
The summer after my senior year I worked for Jessica's dad. He owns an asphalt paving company. Hardest/hottest work ever. I don't know if I was valiantly trying to win his favor or his daughter, maybe I was just foolish. I remember asking if I could have a job. We were standing in their drive way and this question was like the shifted carry-ons in the overhead bin. It just sort of fell out and hit us both. Totally caught us both off guard. He recovered in a few seconds with a smirk and an affirmative. I recovered three months later when classes started. But I digress. The point is this. The work was hot and it was hard. And I'm not a huge fan of canned peaches or ham and cheese or Capri Sun, but after working and sweating for several hours WHAT A REWARD to sit and eat these lunchbox delicacies! And then, at the end of the day to look back over a completed parking lot or driveway. Hard task = sweet reward.
So parenting is also joyous. The youngest two boys from time to time will say "I need love". They crawl into my lap and wrap themselves in my arms and I hum or just speak softly to them. Jessica and I get to teach constantly. How to do all kinds of things! From airing up a bike tire to cooking a meal. There are always teaching opportunities. And learning opportunities for us as well. I am seeing things in my self that I wish wasn't there. It's a constant battle to try to mold and shape our kids into what we know God desires for them to be, while at the same time trying to obliterate the bad things they pick up from us as well. But what a privilege! What an honor God has allowed us! To shape these young vessels into tools He can use! God help us all.
Parenting is also surprise after glorious surprise. We are shocked everyday at new words or phrases they've learned or a new talent they've acquired. Some days their generosity knocks us off our feet and other days they snatch and grab like they have nothing.
- I am surprised at how strong Solomon is getting. I need to wrestle him to the ground several times while I still can. (wink) Make sure he knows who's in charge!
- Rahel can cook! Good! She wouldn't win an award for health in her culinary experiments, but she will hopefully combine what she knew from Ethiopia and learn more from my amazing bride and end up being an amazing creator in the kitchen.
- It is crazy how quickly Yoseph picks things up! He seems to be a prodigy of sorts. Piano is his new venture. He just watches and replicates almost anything.
- And Eyasu could be Amharic for surprise. He is the culmination of his older siblings actions it seems. He is strong, fast, athletic, smart. And always wants to be the center of attention. And most of the time he is.
- Evie's teeth and hair are in a neck-and-neck race to see which will be in first. She is saying ma-ma and da-da. She impresses us continually.
- And God in His wisdom has surprised us yet again. If it be His will our sixth child, third daughter, will be arriving in December!
Thanks for reading.
Monday, April 16, 2012
I’m on the flight home with four of the most beautiful and amazing kids and wishing I had journaled throughout the trip, but you’ll forgive me. You might understand I had a lot going on. I’ll do my best from memory.
Josh and I effortlessly got from DFW to DC. We saw some sights and ate the best Italian meal I’ve ever eaten. Having a history buff brother-in-law was a plus in DC. THe next morning we boarded the flight to Ethiopia. I did have one jerky TSA guy accuse me of not knowing water was liquid. I called fire down from heaven but it didn’t come so I just turned the other cheek. There was a crying child pretty much from DC to Addis. The flight attendants walked the baby around and held him. They were very helpful and sweet but nothing seemed to soothe. It wasn’t as nerve-racking as it may sound. God made someone smart enough to invent headsets. Thanks, God.
When we landed in Ethiopia it felt good. More pleasant then I remembered. Almost like coming home. Probably because 80% of my kids were there. Josh may or may not have been thoroughly freaked out by long lines of non-English speakers in a dimly lit, warmish airport. We sat for a while for him to recover. A doctor came, from the tarmac I think, to start an IV. I’m glad Josh didn’t punch him. At Josh’s refusal of unknown intravenous fluids he decided to bring “something for nausea” which ended up being a couple of barf bags. Same as my previous trip with Donnie, the driver was not there which only escalated feelings of discomfort for us both. Finally he arrived and we made it to Addis Flower Guest House to rest before picking the kids up.
A couple of hours of sleep turned into about 4. I desperately wanted to see my kids, but my body would not allow. It was all for the best because little rest would be had the rest of the trip. We went to the transition house where the kids have been for the past 4-5 months. They were so happy to see me (and vice versa)! Feelings that were pent up over half a year apart rushed back like 10,000 birds taking flight. We went back to the guest house and played and talked with other sweet families who were there. We all went to dinner together at Lime Tree Cafe. Except Josh he needed sleep, as he was not feeling well. Beds were a little tricky because I didn’t know what they would expect and be comfortable with. Eyasu slept on a mattress on the floor next to Rahel and Yoseph in one room. I shared a bed with my oldest son, Solomon. There were many firsts on this trip, mostly for them, but some for me. Before bed I got to say, “Ok, kids, let’s go brush our teeth and have prayer together.” I could barely make it through the prayer for choking back tears. The next night I would ask Solomon to pray in Amharic.
Tuesday we had the famous guest house eggs and coffee and headed off to shop. I let the kids pick out things that would remind them of their beautiful country and culture. It’s fun watching what they pick. It shows a little of their developing personalities. More on that later. After returning from shopping, a little rest and play, then we decided to go pick up food and bring back. It had been raining pretty hard and no one wanted to brave the weather with kids and babies in tow. The men would go pick up food from Amsterdam (the restaurant down the street, not the city to the northwest) and bring it back. [On a side note, Josh just informed me Amsterdam is a city, not a country, hence the reason I didn’t embarrass myself on accident, but rather instead was afforded the opportunity to confess my ignorance of geology. Ok, on with the show.] So we set off to do what men once did except we ordered off a menu rather than using a spear. Rahel wanted to come along which was a very pleasant surprise. I love opportunities to bond with my kids individually. I will continue to seek out these encounters. As we stepped across the threshold of the restaurant the electricity went out rendering half of the menu (many of the things we came for) unorderable. We ordered a bunch of random things that they could still cook and walked the dark street back to the guest house an hour and a half later. That night Eyasu requested to sleep with me and Solomon. Of course I said he could. And of course I knew I’d get very little sleep. Head, shoulders, knees, and toes...knees and toes. All night long. At about 4am I went and got in bed with Josh. Thanks brother, you’re the best.
Wednesday. We went to Entoto mountain to see a 700 year old church hewn from stone. Imagine a three-room cave and then add nothing. That’s what we saw. They had a newer replacement built which was...ummm...majestic isn’t quite the right word, but I don’t want to diminish its beauty. Inside people were praying and worshipping while gazing upon the unique Ethiopian paintings depicting stories from Scripture. It was a nice experience. Personally, I enjoyed the ride up there more than the church itself. Along the way we saw the best view of Addis that exists and kids selling things on the street. We gave them candy and gum. There are far too many beggars to give money to; we reserved giving out money for when we saw a beggar isolated or at least only a few together. After we came down the mountain we rode by Cora (a.k.a. the dump). See a previous blog for more info on that. Seriously. You need to know about the dump. We stopped at a store to buy some candy for the kids at the orphanage where our kids spent many months. After we had paid, Solomon pointed out some sort of nutra-wafers(?). I purchased them not knowing that they were nutritious teething snacks for babies until I saw him giving them out. What a heart! How thoughtful and mature! We went by to allow them to say goodbye to the kids who’ve yet to be adopted and the nannies who took care of them. Bitter and sweet for sure. That night we celebrated a newly adopted baby boy’s birthday with a coffee ceremony, cake, and a traditional Ethiopian restaurant. Singing and dancing and good food. I love watching my kids eat. I think I’ve mentioned that before. Eyasu slept back in the room with Rahel and Yoseph. Still didn’t get much sleep though. Tomorrow is embassy, visas, and airports. Oh my.
Thursday we were up early for our embassy appointment. It was really rather uneventful. The guy who interviewed us was young and talkative. He eased my mind quickly. He asked some questions, gave me some documents, and we were on our way. We got back in the van and then they sang. Now, Jessica and I have mentioned before what a beautiful voice Yoseph has and I know I’ve told you Rahel loves music, but I never heard her sing until the day we were leaving embassy. For a few unforgettable moments my oldest daughter put away her shyness and sang. With clarity she sang the most beautiful Amharic words my ears have ever heard. Yoseph quickly joined her, then Solomon. And Eyasu rounded out the chorus with his cute comedics. They all sang together. I don’t know what the song said but they all knew it and it was amazing. I’d like to imagine it was some song praising God for His goodness. We got back from embassy and picked up another couple who was there for court and went to the transition house. That couple had to leave their son behind and wait for their embassy appointment. I think I cried more than they did because I know how hard the wait can be. Solomon explained the process to the young boy whose family had to leave him there. It was sad but with Solomon’s help he understood and was comforted. My kids said goodbye to their friends and caretakers and this sweet couple said goodbye to their son. Heart-wrenching. We went shopping one last time and this time I gave my kids 100 birr each, about the equivalent of $5, to spend on things for themselves or gifts for others. We got an entire coffee set, some traditional paintings and wall hangings, spices, and other various sundries. Back at Addis Flower Guest House we wrapped and packed our things, several of which would be broken on the flight home. (sigh)
I was so ready to BE home, but wasn’t really ready to GO home. Who can look forward to some 30 hours in commute? It was rough for me. The kids sort of enjoyed the flight. And the airports themselves weren’t that bad. It was the lines of people to get through security and customs, baggages checks, and claims...with 4 kids! My brother-in-law proved quite useful. Have I mentioned that I’m glad I wasn’t alone in this? There were many firsts on that trip and the days following, and I’m sure plenty are yet to come. First time on a plane, first apple, first escalator, first time to pray together as a family, and this is the first of many blogs with our four beautiful kids home with us finally.
Thanks for reading.
Monday, April 2, 2012
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Well, we have news!
I got an email the other day confirming that the embassy is calling in our kid's aunt for an interview. This is standard procedure and is part of the investigation to make sure that the closest living relative is aware they are being adopted and in fact will permit it. She has told our attorney already, but this is more official. So if she shows up and says the same thing she's said before then we should be cleared to travel! Her appointment is scheduled for April 2nd. Based on past families experiences we may get to travel within 3 or 4 weeks after that date! Can you believe that? We can't. Our kids, God willing, could be home by late April or sometime in May!
This is no guarantee. It could be longer. There could be more investigation. Who knows? You'll forgive my pessimism. We've waited a long time and had lots of hiccups along the way. I cope by trying not to let my hopes soar too high. But they are up there. I can't help it.
We get to Skype with them sometimes. About once or twice a month. When the transition house internet works and they happen to be on and we happen to be on, we Skype. It's in and out. Sort of frustrating. But their sweet voices and smiles are all we need to refill our tanks with hope and love and impatience. It's heart-wrenching too. They always ask when we're coming to get them. It's a realization that they spend their days waiting. They wake up wondering when we'll be there and go to bed thinking maybe tomorrow. There is not a day goes by I don't think of them, pray for them, stare at their picture, tell others about them. But I am able to distract myself. I mean, I stay busy with ministry. Evie keeps us in stitches. But they wait. I suppose it's a blessing they have each other. It's got to be tough. They've been in a state of transition for the last few years. I guess we all have.
Evie brings so much joy though. She truly is a measure of grace. An example of God's goodness, mercy, and joy. If I just still myself and think about that for a moment tears flow. We don't deserve her, yet she is here. I can't explain it. I don't know why He gave her to us. I only ask God to help me love her and lead her properly.
Her new thing is bouncing in this baby bungee thing. You know that thing in the mall. You pay someone to tie bungee cords to your waste while you jump on a trampoline and do flips. They make a home version for babies, minus the flips. And Evie loves it! She wears a huge open mouth smile and makes this deep laugh sort of sound with every lunge. Her feet actually don't reach the ground so it wasn't much for her to just hang there. Apples To Apples, the board game, has found a home under there. Now we're live!
Jessica has her on a workout routine. She bounces for 15 minutes 4 times a day. We call them four-a-days. She pukes and then keeps going. I'm kidding. Put down the phone. You don't know the number to CPS by heart anyway.
Thanks for reading.